Columns

Now the Media Will Try to Pin Deaths and Despair from the Lockdown on Trump -- After He Warned Them

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

It would seem that when Well Being Trust tells CNN that there will be a loss of life due to ‘coronavirus despair’, they actually believe it. Because when President Trump repeatedly referenced deaths from suicide and substance abuse as the result of continued lockdowns and economic struggle, corporate media made it political. Here is the execrable Maggie Haberman assuring her readers at The New York Times that Trump and Republicans were just worried about the economy because it was an election year. Here’s the equally partisan Oliver Darcy accusing Fox News of carrying the president’s water to get the economy back on track. The Hill also pitched the president’s desire to keep the economy running as his primary pitch for reelection.

However, when the President himself was questioned about the statement in daily briefings, he could not have been clearer. He talked about an increase in suicides, increases in drug-related deaths, and domestic abuse. The media discounted these comments.

The U-turn CNN makes with this new information is pretty astonishing. Well Being Trust describes their mission as a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social and spiritual health of the nation. According to the article (emphasis mine):

As many as 75,000 Americans could die because of drug or alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis conducted by the national public health group Well Being Trust.

The group is sounding the alarm that the growing unemployment crisis, economic downturns and stress caused by isolation and lack of a definitive end date for the pandemic could significantly increase so-called “deaths of despair” unless local, state and federal authorities take action.

“Unless we get comprehensive federal, state, and local resources behind improving access to high quality mental health treatments and community supports, I worry we’re likely to see things get far worse when it comes to substance misuse and suicide,” Well Being Trust’s chief strategy officer Dr. Benjamin F. Miller told CNN.

This is the exact same assertion President Trump made during multiple press briefings when the lemmings in the White House Press Corps challenged him on these comments. And the assessment made by Well Being Trust does not take into account the loss of life from years due to lack of care. Doctors have been sounding the alarm about empty emergency rooms that could lead to an increase in deaths from strokes and heart attacks. Others have been voicing concerns about delays in cancer treatment and chronic diseases like diabetes. Increasingly, children are missing well child checks that include vaccinations. An analysis by Just Facts asserts that anxiety from reactions to COVID-19 will destroy at least seven times more years of life that can be saved with lockdowns. This includes anxiety that causes people to forego medical care out of fear.

All of these consequences were predictable. The health experts actually asked doctors and hospitals to delay elective procedures to preserve hospital resources. Now the resources system-wide are reduced as hospitals layoff staff. Some doctors’ offices may be closed permanently following the crisis.

And it is likely that unemployment may continue to rise. From the CNN article (emphasis mine):

“Unemployment during the Great Recession was associated with an increase in suicide deaths and drug overdose deaths,” according to the Well Being Trust.

For instance, deaths from both suicide and drug overdoses rose along with unemployment during the 2008 recession. Unemployment went from 4.6% in 2007 to a peak of 10% in October 2009 and declined steadily reaching 3.5% in early 2010, according to the group.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNN Tuesday he expects the US unemployment rate was above 16% in April.

“My guess right now is it’s going to be north of 16%, maybe as high as 20%,” he said. “We’re looking at probably the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression.”

So, it is exactly the same information the president provided before an additional 30 days of shutdown. But now the media will do their best to place the lives lost to a huge hit to the economy in his lap. Despite insisting even today that the nation stay locked down:

I am thinking Margaret Sullivan is the one who is really callous about human life. She is willing to ignore the thousands of lives that will be lost as well as those who will be disabled by delaying treatment. A diabetic with a footsore most people would put a band-aid on can end up with an infection requiring amputation in a matter of days. A patient having a stroke can lose vital function if treatment is delayed by a few hours because of fear of going to the emergency room. And one in five suicides is linked to unemployment.

Just like Sullivan’s false binary needs to be rejected, blaming President Trump for the effects of the lockdowns the media insisted on must also be rejected. As far as the psychological effects and potential for deaths of despair, he correctly warned them. And outlets like CNN who suddenly come to the correct conclusion over a month later should be mercilessly mocked.

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