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COVID-19 pandemic

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Helpful advice on social media stories about COVID-19 from Douglas Adams… and from professional epidemiologists.[1]
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The 2019-20 COVID-19 outbreak (also known, before the virus was named, as the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemicWikipedia) is an ongoing pandemic caused by a coronavirusWikipedia named SARS-CoV-2 (formerly 2019-nCoV), causing the disease to be named COVID-19.[2] The virus was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, ChinaWikipedia around December 2019. Initially thought of as a mysterious case of pneumonia,Wikipedia[3] it was quickly identified as a new disease in January 2020.[4] Since then, the virus has spread from a relatively small initial infection to over 25,092,455 cases (and over 844,657 deaths) as of August 30th, 2020.[5] WHO stated that some studies put coronavirus mortality rate at 0.6%[6] (and there is substantial uncertainty about this estimate[7]), which is higher than ordinary influenza but quite a bit lower than other coronavirus infections such as SARS.Wikipedia[8] While the 0.6% fatality rate may sound low to some people, it is actually quite high and concerning to epidemiologists because the virus is highly infectious, thus the total number of deaths is likely to be quite high. Also, besides the uncertainty in the estimate[9], there is likely to be higher death rates for people with co-morbidities (e.g. respiratory disease, heart disease or diabetes), and for people without adequate access to quality healthcare. Mortality is not to the sole cause of concern for COVID-19, as there is a possibility of lasting health effects following infection,[10] although this has not been researched in depth as an overwhelming majority of people testing positive (up to 80% [11]) is experiencing no symptoms whatsoever, leading scientists to only focus on most severe cases that required hospitalisation. There have been isolated reports of reinfection.[12]

Deaths from COVID-19 mostly occur among older people — the median age of COVID death is ranging between 79 (USA) and 86 years old (Canada).[13] In Sweden, a country which adopted a "herd immunity" strategy, out of 5837 deaths, only 73 were of people younger than 50 years old.[14]

The infection rate, seemingly paradoxically, makes it far more dangerous to society at large. More lethal diseases tend to burn out, killing their hosts too quickly to effectively spread, and in the absence of any hosts, the virus naturally dies out. It has been declared a public health emergency of international concernWikipedia by the World Health OrganizationWikipedia[15] and has caused severe disruptions and lockdowns, initially in China, [16] but then spreading to multiple nations around the globe, to the point where a third of the global population was on lockdown at one point. [17]

Unfortunately, panic, misinformation, racism, and quackery related to COVID-19 has spread through social media all over the globe far faster than the virus has spread itself. Also unfortunately, the pathological lying of President Donald Trump has led to what University of Chicago economics professor Austan Goolsbee calls the "pathological irony of crisis":[18]

If you lose credibility, your statements begin to mean the opposite of what you say. In other words: Entreaties to “remain calm” instead get interpreted as reasons to panic, even when calm might be justified.
—Catherine Rampell[19]

What science says[edit]

How self-isolation can slow the spread of the virus.

Due to the novelty of the disease and the rapid spread of the disease in China, COVID-19 is considered a health emergency and is being evaluated by all major health organizations around the world.[20] The source of the disease, SARS-CoV-2, is a betacoronavirus,Wikipedia a virus known to mainly infect bats.Wikipedia Although the details are unclear at this time, it is suspected that this virus underwent zoonosisWikipedia — i.e., it crossed over from an animal (almost certainly a bat) to humans.[21]

SARS-CoV-2 spreads largely via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.[22] The virus has proven to be more contagious than other coronaviruses such as SARSWikipedia or MERS,Wikipedia in some ways behaving more like influenza.[23][24] Unfortunately, once infected, the full clinical picture with COVID-19 is not completely understood at this time.[20] While many people have had only mild symptoms, for some the disease has been deadly. Thus, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, in part because of the current uncertainty. Of note though: the disease so far statistically is more lethal among the elderly, smokers, and people with existing chronic health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetesWikipedia, or COPDWikipedia.) [25]

Antiviral medications have been used on COVID-19 patients, though it's not clear yet whether or how much they help. Antibiotics can treat secondary infections such as pneumonia.[26]

Prevention[edit]

Stay home if you have a dry cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and a fever.

Preventing COVID-19 is a challenge because infected people may not realize that they are infected, so they may unwittingly spread the disease instead of staying home or contacting a doctor.[27] The CDC has begun testing patients with flu-like symptoms for the virus in order to help contain it.[28]

Researchers are working hard on developing a vaccine.[29] However, testing a vaccine takes a long time, so it may take a year to a year and a half before it is ready for the general public.[30]

Disinfection vehicles in Taipei, Taiwan.

Because the transmission method is similar to flu, prevention methods are also similar to flu.[31][32][33]

  • Wash your hands regularly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Never spit in public
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from people who are sick
  • Call a doctor if you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing
  • Stay home and avoid other people if you're sick

Furthermore, the high variability of symptoms (The CDC now estimates that up to 35% of carriers can be entirely asymptomatic, that is, they develop no symptoms at all, and are still contagious. Others will have very mild symptoms, more akin to a cold or flu, and either can't or won't get tested) and long incubation period (it can take two weeks for symptoms to manifest) means this virus is incredibly effective at hiding. Many people can carry this virus and spread it to others without even realizing they are infected. This means that in order to effectively mitigate the virus, you must assume that everyone is potentially infected, including yourself, and treat them as such. Hence the need for masks and social distancing in any public spaces.

Mortality risk[edit]

Confirmed cases by country

Most people who become infected will survive. WHO says studies put coronavirus mortality rate at 0.6% [6] with other estimates ranging from 0.16-4.9%.[34] The variability in death rates has been attributed to availability of care facilities, which in Wuhan at 4.9% were particularly overtaxed.[34] This compares with the seasonal-flu death-rate of 0.1%.[35] Mortality rates, while apparently less than those of the 14th-century Black Death or of the 1918 influenza, may still make Covid-19 the most devastating 21st-century pandemic.[36]

The fatality risk is higher in senior citizens and amongst people with certain health-conditions (including cardiovascular disease, immune conditions like HIV, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, hypertension, and cancer).[37] While these people still have at least a 75% chance of survival if infected,[38] they and their loved ones should take extra care to reduce the risk of infection.

While people who are young and healthy are very unlikely to die, they should still practice good hygiene to protect themselves and those around them. Indeed, the common idea that the spread of the disease isn't that serious since only some people are likely to die is incredibly callous, and often brutally ableist against those with chronic conditions. In fact, this argument fundamentally underestimates both the nastiness of the disease and the number of elderly/chronically ill people in society and the incredible transmissibility of the virus because of its relatively low mortality-rate. Despite old-school SARS having a much higher mortality rate, COVID-19 has killed far more people — the fact that it does not kill many of its (sometimes asymptomatic) carriers in fact only allows it to spread further.[39]

Long covid[edit]

Evidence is emerging that people who have had covid can go on to develop crippling fatigue and mental health problems.[40]

Causation myths[edit]

Big brain time in London: "Mainstream Media Liers[sic] 5G = Covid".

Unscientific 5G fears[edit]

See the main article on this topic: 5G
Harmless radiation has a large wavelength, too gentle to harm your molecular structure. (Think of it like the difference between gently rocking a baby to sleep versus shaking a baby at high speeds: one is safe and the other is definitely not.)
—Luna Rose at wikiHow[41]

Some people, such as conspiracy theorist Kerry Cassidy, believe that 5G radiation causes coronavirus. These people understand neither radiation nor viruses.

Only some forms of radiation are dangerous. "Ionizing" radiation, the dangerous kind, is high-energy with a wavelength so short it can disrupt electrons and break molecular bonds. Exposure to this radiation is bad for you because it can break apart your molecules and your DNA. "Non-ionizing" radiation has a long wavelength and has less energy, so it can't disrupt anything. And 5G is non-ionizing, with a wavelength comparable to microwaves and radio stations.[42]

Needless to say, there's no scientific backing for these 5G fears. Areas with high infection rates aren't clustered in areas that have 5G.[43] And people on cruises without 5G have also fallen ill.[42] Germs, not waves, are the problem. Germs don't propagate via radiation. In fact, with certain forms of radiation — intense UVC-spectrum ultraviolet light, a form of the ionizing radiation mentioned above — you actually can destroy all viruses exposed to the radiation and achieve sterility. [note 1] [44]

Setting fire to 5G towers (as apparently has happened in at least 50 cases as of April 21, 2020[45]) isn't going to cure anything; instead, it might get you arrested for arson, and sent to prison where you could breathe the same air as infected inmates.[46] Harassing poor telecom technicians isn't going to help stop COVID-19 either.[47] The celebrities spreading anti-5G nonsense don't know what they are talking about, either.[48]

Eating bats[edit]

In January 2020, a viral video showing a young Chinese woman eating a whole bat with chopsticks spread rapidly across social media. In reporting on this video, the Daily Mail (of course) called it "revolting footage" while winking and nudging that "scientists link the deadly coronavirus to the flying mammals".[49] The problem is, the video in question (filmed in 2016, several years before the virus outbreak began) was regarding travel blogger Wang Mengyun eating a bat in Palau,Wikipedia a Pacific Island nation where bat-oriented cuisine is common.[50][51] Unfortunately, Wang received racist hate mail (and even death threats).[52] Daily Mail and their culinarily stunted audience will do well to pay no attention to their own abusive and filthy food industry that requires pumping drugs to treat animals sickened by the industry.

Scientists haven't produced sufficient evidence that eating bats caused the bat-to-human jump of coronavirus.[53] There are many ways for zoonotic transmission to occur–transmission is complex with lots of variables. The virus may have an intermediate host between bat and human but scientists aren't so sure.[53]

Claims that the virus was engineered[edit]

The scientific consensus "overwhelmingly conclude(s) that this coronavirus originated in wildlife."[54] Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 shows that it shares about 96% of its RNA with a RaTG13 coronavirus strain found in a bat, and has strange and unusual mutations that are nothing like anything a human scientist could possibly create.[55][56][57][58][59][60] The death rate of SARS-CoV-2 is 2%, and is estimated that an average infected human can infect 2 and a half humans,[61] this reality runs contrary to the conspiracy as the whole point of a bioweapon is to kill people. Why the hell would the Chinese government want to piss off other governments by infecting their citizens and government officials?[62][63][64]

Of course, when conspiracy theorists are confronted on these contradictions, they say that yes these government officials are being assassinated in the most attention-grabbing way possible, that would attract the imagination and alarm of the panicking public. One study explicitly refuted the plausibility of laboratory origin due to similarities to recently evolved zoological versions of coronavirus.[65]

But that hasn't stopped conspiracy theorists from claiming that it was created in a lab as a weapon or experiment gone wrong.

Blaming Chinese scientists[edit]

Early indications during the pandemic showed that the first cluster of the viruses may have originated from a "wet marketWikipedia" in Wuhan.[66] Two Chinese scientists, Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, in a pre-print paper (that was quickly withdrawn after appearing on ResearchGateWikipedia), proposed that the virus might have actually come from one of two research laboratories near the wet market: the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.[67] Always keen to spread bullshit on anything health related, this was picked up by the Daily Mail with an appropriate panicky headline.[68] Even the yin to the Daily Mail's yang, the Daily Mirror,Wikipedia couldn't help JAQing off on the subject as well.[69] On the American side, Senator Tom CottonWikipedia (R-AR) repeated this bullshit on Fox News, and subsequently accused the Chinese government of lying about COVID-19.[70]

Zero Hedge went even further. Claiming that the virus was spreading because it was a "weaponized version of the coronavirus" originally from Canada, Zero Hedge sought to seek out who was responsible for this coronavirus. So they cobbled some criteria for narrowing down who "created" the virus from a job posting on the Wuhan Institution of Virology's website. Using these rather random criteria, they zeroed in on one Chinese scientist in particular who was focused on bat virus infections and immunity, and claimed that he created SARS-CoV-2. At that point, they proceeded to doxx the scientist, because of course they would.[71] This was enough to get them permanently suspended from Twitter.[72]

Why did Zero Hedge think the virus came from Canada? Because of another rumor: in July 2019, virologist Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, her husband, and some of her students from China were removed from Canada's National Microbiology LaboratoryWikipedia in Winnipeg, Manitoba over a "policy breach". Not only did social media rumors link COVID-19 to these individuals, but baseless claims were made that Dr. Qiu and her husband were part of a "spy team" that had sent "pathogens to the Wuhan facility", and that her husband "specialised in coronavirus research".[73]

Memes spread online on how the Wuhan Institute of Virology's logo is similar to the "Umbrella Corporation", a shady agency responsible for making the virus that starts the zombie apocalypse in the Resident EvilWikipedia video game franchise. Unfortunately, the logo that inspired the meme belongs to a different company altogether (Shanghai Ruilan Bao Hu San Biotech Limited, located in Shanghai, 500 miles away from Wuhan.)[74]

Rush Limbaugh, on his radio program on February 24, 2020, repeated the bullshit that COVID-19 was a weaponized "ChiCom[note 2] laboratory experiment". Unusually for a crank, he actually downplayed the virus risks, actually reporting the correct approximate survival rate right of 98% (the mortality rate of COVID-19 as of February 24, 2020 is around 2.3%).[75]. However, he mistakenly said that this was "a far lower death statistic than any form of influenza" (typically the mortality rate of influenza in the United States is 0.1%). [76] More to his style, he declared that "the coronavirus is the common cold" for some reason, and politicized COVID-19 media coverage by complaining that the "Drive-By Media" was "weaponizing" COVID-19 "as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump". [77] [note 3]

Limbaugh's bullshit was repeated by Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, with both accusing the media and the Democratic party of "weaponizing fear".[79] (This is fairly ironic coming from a cable news network notorious for exploiting fear.)[80]

Fox News, in fact, has been spreading so much bullshit from its relatively prominent position in media downplaying the virus that network insiders privately worry about that, should a strong connection be made between Fox News disinformation and deaths, they could be sued and held liable.[81][note 4]

Blaming Bill Gates[edit]

That's supposed to be Bill Gates, but Ben Garrison is a bit too used to drawing Soros. Also, the unironic 666 is hilarious.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a charity that is dedicated to global philanthropy, using Bill Gates' massive wealth earned during his days as CEO of Microsoft. Much of this philanthropy is dedicated to concerns about world health.

As such, the foundation has plenty of experience with previous epidemics and pandemics (ranging from long lasting historical pandemics such as HIV/AIDS to epidemics caused by novel viruses such as the Ebola virus outbreak in AfricaWikipedia) Based on their experience fighting these diseases, the foundation has been warning about the risk of a pandemic disease for years — correctly predicting for instance in a 2015 TED talkWikipedia (after the Ebola outbreak) that the world was not ready when a large-scale pandemic should occur. [83]

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is actively leading efforts to fight COVID-19, and is spending $100 million$250 million$300 million in funding to do this.[84][85][86]

Unfortunately, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation became a major target of the conspiracy crowd over the months that the disease progressed. Gates' strong links with world health programs, as well as his vocal opposition to Trump's policies (such as Trump's relative sluggish response to the virus, and Trump cutting funding for the World Health OrganizationWikipedia in the middle of the pandemic) have triggered the conspiracy crowd to actually accuse Bill Gates of actually creating the virus that fueled COVID-19. In the past, Gates, due to remarks about vaccines reducing child mortality and therefore naturally reducing the amount of children couples wish to have, has previously been a target of those who embrace depopulation conspiracy theories, particularly among those who embrace the anti-vaccination movement.[87] Conspiracy theorists have naturally combined the two into the notion that Bill Gates created the virus to cull or survey the global population. [88]

An example of the strange thought process involved here came early during the outbreak from, as you would expect, the depths of QAnon. Prominent QAnon Youtuber Jordan Sather mistakenly thought a patent for a vaccine for avian IBV,Wikipedia[89] created by farm animal infectious disease research institution Pirbright Institute,Wikipedia was actually a patent for a vaccine for COVID-19. Because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have funded some of the other research of this institute, Sather connected the two, causing the rumor that Gates *created* the virus. This idea spread like wildfire across conspiracy blogs.[90]

Naturally, the conspiracy morphed further to the point where Bill Gates completely owned the "patent on coronavirus". In a Natural News article, the chicken coronavirus vaccine patent oddly proved to them that COVID-19 was "just another weaponized viral strain designed to sell more useless, deadly vaccines, while at the same time killing off a few thousand, or perhaps a few million, people." (Of course, this is just another article from Natural News designed to happily sell the paranoid more useless dietary supplements).[91]

Another example came due to Gates' participation in a high-level pandemic exercise called Event 201. This was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health SecurityWikipedia on October 2019.[92] Players in the exercise were presented with a scenario where a fictional coronavirus (i.e., not SARS-CoV-2) started in pig farms in Brazil, and then spread around the world, leading to a (fictional) 65 million deaths.

Naturally, this morphed into sites like Infowars putting up alarmist headlines like "BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION & OTHERS PREDICTED UP TO 65 MILLION DEATHS VIA CORONAVIRUS — IN SIMULATION RAN 3 MONTHS AGO!". This of course means, according to Infowars, that Gates is one of the "globalists who own the patent to the virus and predicted its rise". These "globalists", per Infowars, are intentionally spreading the disease "so groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can step in and become saviors". Of course, Infowars is "wise to the activities of the Gates' and the global elite's depopulation agenda!" (Like Natural News, the Infowars article is also designed to happily sell the paranoid additional useless dietary supplements; it is uncertain how wise Infowars readers are to this purpose.)[93][94]

Since then, Bill Gates oriented conspiracy theories appear on Infowars frequently. [95] Infowars' unhinged conspiratorial rants include comparing the (untrue) above population control conspiracy theory to Nazi eugenics[96] and describing a (untrue) initiative from Gates to "vaccinate and microchip every human being on Earth in the name of combating the coronavirus pandemic". (Of course, Infowars is happy to remind you in the midst of this doom and gloom that they are now accepting pre-orders for their healthy and delicious storable food!) [97]

As a result of all of this disinformation, in a Yahoo News / YouGov survey conducted between May 20 and 21, 2020, 44 percent of Republicans believe that Bill Gates is plotting to use a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign to implement microchips in billions of people and monitor their movements. Just 26 percent of Republicans were able to identify this story as false. [98] There is concern that this widespread belief in conspiracy theory over science will make any vaccination effort difficult in the United States, and thus hamper abilities to combat the pandemic in this country once a vaccine is available.

The impact of the disinformation is not just limited to the United States. On May 14, a politician of the Five Star Movement, Sara Cunial (who in the past has been supended from the party for likening vaccines to "free genocide"), in both an online speech made in the Italian Parliament (much to other members' chagrin) and a Facebook post,[99] called for Gates to be arrested by the International Criminal Court for "crimes against humanity", and claimed that "the real goal of all of (the search for a COVID-19 vaccine) is total control... absolute domination of human beings, transformed into guinea pigs and slaves, violating sovereignty and free will." [note 5] A small protest over Gates happened in Melbourne, Australia in early May. Anti-Gates signs have appeared in England, and Gates was the focus of anti-lockdown protests in Germany that occurred in mid-May. [103][104]

Conservapedia's take[edit]

As a curious subtext of Conservapedia's germ theory denialism, it has blamed a combination of not following Kosher (Mosaic) dietary laws, and rampant atheism (because of course) and Communism in China:[105]

The Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is an example of a deadly disease arising in animals deemed to be "unclean" by the Mosaic Law for human consumption, such as bats, snakes, cats and camels. In addition, developing countries in which basic needs — including hygiene — are poor, income is scarce, or are run by corrupt and/or atheistic cultures and governments there is often a history of poverty and famine; their societies in turn would develop a culture reflecting a wider variety of foods eaten (see: Atheism and economics). Where people consume such animals in poorly regulated food markets with poor health systems (see: Atheist hospitals in China and Atheism and medicine and Atheist hospitals) — especially if the food item is improperly prepared and cooked - a coronavirus can take hold in the human population and then spread rapidly to other people.

The article on Conservapedia was written mainly by Conservapedia:RobSmith.[106] The section on Mosaic law and atheophobia was apparently approved by Andrew Schlafly.[107]

In a nutshell[edit]

Depending on whichever conspiracy you want to believe in, here are all the ridiculous theories compiled...

  • Coronavirus is an American biological weapon
  • Coronavirus is a Chinese chemical weapon
  • Coronavirus is caused by 5G towers
  • Coronavirus is caused by Bill Gates to put a microchip in you
  • Coronavirus is caused by Bill Gates to sell you vaccines
  • Coronavirus isn’t real
  • Coronavirus is just another flu
  • Coronavirus is trying to keep the masses obeying the government
  • Coronavirus is being made to kill off the elderly
  • Coronavirus is made to kill the poor
  • Coronavirus is manufactured to make the rich richer and the poor poorer
  • Doctors have been silenced to show that Coronavirus is fake
  • There is a new world order
  • It's a plandemic

Conspiracy theories, paranoia and the blame game[edit]

See the main articles on this topic: Conspiracy theories and Paranoia

When a new pandemic arises, it's easy for people to collectively start searching for anyone, anything to blame. Sometimes the blame game extends into batshit insane conspiracy theory territory.

Empty shelves in a Virginia supermarket due to panic buyingWikipedia.

In the world of social media, disinformation about the virus proliferated as fast as the virus itself. The disinformation from the usual sources got so bad that stupid stuff like clear shitposting-style "jokes" about EminemWikipedia being the first celebrity with COVID-19 (parodying Eminem lyrics in the process),[108] satirical warnings not to pop bubble wrap, [109] and "realistic" conspiracy-oriented horror fiction about COVID-19 cover-ups posted on Reddit[110] got misrepresented as factual. YouTube, despite ostensibly removing posts with medical misinformation, has seen COVID-19 conspiracy-oriented media flourish and thrive. [111].

Perhaps the most notable piece of COVID-19 misinformation in social media was a conspiracy theory oriented video called Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind COVID-19. Produced by Mikki Willis and his production company Elevate (a company whose general aim is to produce "socially conscious media"[112] but has promoted conspiracy oriented material in the past)[113], the film focuses on a former researcher named Judy MikovitsWikipedia. Very similar to the story of the bullshit that happened with autism and vaccines, Mikovits attempted to link a newly discovered retrovirus to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, only to have the paper fully retracted when nobody could replicate the results. Like Andrew Wakefield (the one who tried and failed to link autism and vaccines), instead of accepting the results and moving on, after some legal shenanigans (such as getting arrested for stealing research from a lab she was terminated from) she hopped on board the profitable conspiracy crank circuit by feeding those susceptible to anti-vaccination bullshit exactly what they want to hear. (It is no surprise Plandemic doubles as a promotion for a book Mikovits is publishing soon.)[114][115] Fortunately, the film is literally full of bullshit point after bullshit point, making it easy for publications to thoroughly debunk all claims the film attempts to make. (Major debunkings include articles at NPR[116] and The AtlanticWikipedia[117], among many others.)

Of course, Vladimir Putin's government played a significant role in spreading the misinformation (as if the Russians weren't satisfied with simply interfering with politics). In the United States, officials said thousands of Russian-backed social media accounts are coordinating a misinformation campaign to spread coronavirus conspiracy theories. Of course, the Russian government responded to these reports as "fake."[118] This behavior is unsurprising, as Russian bots were previously identified as spreading vaccine hysteria in the United States and coordinating a misinformation campaign in the 1980s that United States scientists were responsible for creating the AIDS virus.[119][120]

The disinformation was not limited to just social media. For instance, early in February, the World Population Project at the University of SouthamptonWikipedia published research predicting where people from Wuhan had traveled to in the two weeks prior to Wuhan being locked down under quarantine. The researchers on this project posted a series of messages about their work on Twitter. One of these messages included a side point, with a map illustrating global air travel traffic (basically, all the flight paths in the world, nothing more) just to show the extent of the global air network. Somehow, tabloids such as the Sun took the global air traffic map to be an actual "HORRIFYING" map showing "the unstoppable spread of the deadly coronavirus across the globe".[121]

Ben Garrison weighs in. Can you count the conspiracy theories?

Misinformation about the state of China[edit]

  • In February 2020, a viral video supposedly showing a chaotic scene in Wuhan, China circulated, where posters claimed that people were "shooting down all the people with the virus in China". This in fact was a mixture of several mislabeled videos, such as a video where firework explosions were being heard in the background, and a scene from a fatal motorcycle accident.[122]
  • In late February 2020, Mark Richards (as reported by his admirer Kerry Cassidy) said that 30,000 Chinese have already died, and 40,000 have been "taken off-world by Reptilians assisting China in their drive to eliminate approx. 500 million people."[123] He added that "other governments are using it to facilitate eliminating some of their populations as well." Richards is a convicted murderer serving life without parole in a California State prison, and has very limited access to sources.
  • Hal Turner, of course, also contributed to the misinformation by maintaining a webpage with "news" on the "Coronavirus in China" [124]. The page headline ups the ante on the pandemic numbers that cranks are pulling out of their ass, reporting for instance on February 13th, 2020, that "2.8 Million (are) Infected" and "112,000 (are) DEAD" from COVID-19 (far exceeding official statistics which at that time were 60,416 cases and 1,370 deaths.)[125] Other bullshit statements includes claims that the dead are "being taken directly to incinerators" to be burned, that the virus is different than SARSWikipedia because it "causes rapid kidney failure", and an absolute certain prediction that the pandemic will cause Chinese society to collapse and "set in-motion a global economic shockwave from which the planet will be unable to recover for decades." For believers of this nonsense, Hal is happy to direct you to vendors for surgical masks and MREsWikipedia.
  • Steve Bannon's front group Rule of Law Foundation shared a bogus study claiming that COVID-19 was created in a lab, and was immediately busted by actual biologists. [126]

Snake oil[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Snake oil

When a new disease sprouts up, scammers are bound to show up and offer you bullshit that will "protect" you from COVID-19, and, in fact, every disease known to man.

Colloidal Silver[edit]

Colloidal silver has long had a history of being promoted for curing every disease known to man (in spite of the fact that the only proven effect of ingesting silver is argyriaWikipedia, e.g. you may look like a SmurfWikipedia).[127] Not surprisingly, many people started hawking colloidal silver as a bullshit cure for COVID-19 shortly after the pandemic began, in spite of it being a completely ineffective treatment.[128]

Disgraced evangelical preacher Jim Bakker, for instance, has been pushing "Optivida Silver Solution", a colloidal silver formulation,[129] for some time as the cure for every disease known.[130] In February 2020, he started pushing his silver solution as something that "totally eliminated, deactivated" "the coronavirus".[131] In March 2020, Bakker was sued by the state of Missouri for peddling fake Coronavirus cures on his television show.[132] The New York Attorney General followed suit, ordering Bakker to stop peddling this bullshit,[133] and the United States Food and Drug Administration followed up with warnings to Bakker for selling unapproved cures.[134]

Shortly after Bakker got his warning to cease and desist making unproven claims about colloidal silver, Alex Jones' Infowars site also received cease-and-desist letters, as they were also selling colloidal silver products.[135][136]

Chlorine Dioxide Bleach[edit]

In recent years, chloride dioxide bleach Miracle Mineral Supplement has emerged (largely thanks to the efforts of Jim Humble) as yet another substance that cures everything known to man. Naturally, some people decided that these quack "cures" extend to COVID-19. (It is true that if you die from bleach poisoning, there will be absolutely nothing to worry about regarding being infected from SARS-CoV-2.)

The first major promotion of MMS came from the depths of QAnon. After Jordan Sather blamed Bill Gates for COVID-19, Sather then said that he was going to "MMS the whole shit out of everything". This led to MMS being touted as a "cure" for COVID-19, with this quackery spreading among those receptive to the conspiracy theory that Gates created SARS-CoV-2. Other prominent supporters of the QAnon movement also tweeted their support. [137]

Sadly, Bolivia's Senate fully embraced this quackery in July 2020, officially endorsing this as a "treatment" for COVID-19, despite medical warnings from Bolivia's own health ministry. [138] Bolivia's lower house of parliament followed this up by approving the "solution" in August 2020. [139] The majority leader of the national Senate threatened to leave the World Health OrganizationWikipedia if the WHO continued to warn people that drinking bleach is a really, really bad idea. [140] Meanwhile, in nearby Ecuador, ten Catholic bishops became so pissed off at the country's health minister, Juan Carlos Zevallos, for actually being reasonable and insisting that drinking bleach is a really, really bad idea, that they sent a public letter to President Lenin MorenoWikipedia demanding his resignation. [141][142]

Pitching supplements with paranoia[edit]

Hucksters who scam money from the paranoid by frightening people into purchasing their supplements and survivalism products naturally jumped into action when the COVID-19 pandemic arose.

Natural News, never one to miss the opportunity to direct the paranoid and conspiratorial towards the arms of the profitable supplements businesses that support them, actually launched a separate site called "Pandemic News"[143] dedicated to spreading bullshit about the virus. Their home page has been changed to add a counter with the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with one line for the (according to them) "rigged" official infected and death counts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and another for the (according to them) "realistic" infected and death counts of the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring numbers that they pulled out of their ass.[144] Among their bullshit suggestions are articles that COVID-19 can be treated by "intravenous vitamin C"[145] and "all-natural oxygen therapy".[146]

Infowars, who also are never one to miss the opportunity to direct the paranoid and conspiratorial towards the arms of their profitable supplements businesses, have also stepped up their marketing efforts to aggressively hawk their expensive bulk freeze dried food packages, while simultaneously spreading wild conspiracy theories about COVID-19... even evoking cannibalism in their sales pitches that evoke total society collapse. [147]

Scams that exploited the paranoid, of course, proliferated as well. One example was a site that was selling a "Pandemic Survival" book. The book naturally mixed conspiracy theories and paranoia with a promotion of a supplement called "BioDefend" (or "BioImmune", depending on whether you looked at the text or the product photograph). This supplement reportedly was "chocked full of Vitamin C and other essential herbs and vitamins" and would "support your body to help fight off harmful germs and viruses".[148] While the PDF file is actually available for free, the people behind "Pandemic Survival" set up several spamWikipedia emails and malvertisingWikipedia campaigns that all point to scam websites (in many cases, faked to look like mainstream news sources). On these sites, you could pay $37 for the privilege of downloading this free conspiracy theory PDF. [149]

Herbal and traditional medicine[edit]

During the pandemic, several countries turned to herbal and traditional medicine to try to cure COVID-19... in spite of there not being any evidence that the products do any good. Some of these medicines have even earned official endorsements from government agencies.

In China, fans of traditional Chinese medicine snapped up a formula called "shuanghuanglian" (invented, as traditionally as you'd expect, in the 1960s) to combat the virus. Made of honeysuckle, Chinese skullcap, and forsythia, the formula sold out rapidly across the country, despite the fact that (in keeping with how most traditional Chinese medicine doesn't really work well) there is no evidence that this formula does a thing for COVID-19.[150] (A drug called Kaletra (a.k.a., lopinavir/ritonavir,Wikipedia used to treat HIV/AIDS) was also highly in demand, despite the fact that there is no evidence that this will help treat COVID-19 either.[151]

India went even further and actually issued a government notice[152] detailing approved ayurvedic and homeopathic methods for "prevention of corona virus infections". There is no evidence that any of this will do anything for COVID-19 beyond placebo.[153]

MadagascarWikipedia president Andry RajoelinaWikipedia, meanwhile, has promoted an herbal tea based on sweet wormwood (Artemisia annuaWikipedia) as a cure for COVID-19; there is no evidence that this plant does anything for that.[154]. That hasn't stopped other national leaders, such as TanzaniaWikipedia president John MagufuliWikipedia, from touting this snake oil, though. [155]

In Iran, some prominent clerics promote bullshit quack "cures", like cotton wool drenched in violet oil and inserted into your anus, or the "Prophet's Perfume" — which in a social media video, one cleric (Morteza Kohansal) went around dabbing on various COVID-19 patients, without protective gear, in a hospital he was not authorized to be in. None of this cures COVID-19 either; in fact, some top clerics who have relied on herbal remedies have succumbed to the disease, and one patient in Kohansal's "Prophet's Perfume" video also has died from the disease. [156][157]

Cannabis and CBD[edit]

Various companies and people have been promoting cannabis and CBD for COVID cures or symptoms. The claims are sketchy at best and if based on anything at all, would be based on very weak evidence of in vitro tests of individual cannabis chemicals. Among the many examples:

  • "Finest Herbalist", a company that manufactures a CBD product called "Pure Herbal Total Defense Immunity Blend" was ordered by New York Attorney General Letitia James on April 2 to cease marketing its products as effective for COVID-19.[158]
  • Peter Jonathan Hanna, a member of a Unification Church schism ("World Peace and Unification Sanctuary Church") and a QAnon promoter/survivalist,[159] has promoted cannabis as a cure for COVID.[160] Hanna also claims that his family has the coronavirus.[161][162]
  • Kyle Turley, ex-football player and cannabis company owner, has claimed that "cannabis will prevent and cure" COVID-19.[163][162]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Online, other miscellaneous bullshit prevention methods spread across social media, such as one purported to be sent by "NWLLAB" telling you to "keep your throat moist", "avoid fried or spicy food", and "load up on vitamin C".[164]
  • Chiropractors pretend that if you pay them lots of money that they can manipulate your spine and give you supplements to somehow prevent and cure coronavirus.[165]
  • In New Zealand, the Destiny Church, a fundamentalist religious cult built around the personality of its leader, self-styled Bishop Brian Tamaki has made a number of irresponsible statements and claims. At a Sunday service he claimed, "Satan has control of atmospheres unless you are born-again Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Holy Ghost-filled, tithe-paying believer".[166] He has also claimed that he can ignore the New Zealand government's ban on gatherings of more than 500 people and remain open because prayer will protect his congregation, so long as they pay their tithes, of course.

Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine… Doctor Trump[edit]

Chloroquine[edit]

President Trump at the CDC, apparently more concerned with his re-election than the ongoing crisis.

"Doctor" Trump[167] himself recommended taking experimental drugs (hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin)[168] because:

—Donald Trump[169][170][171]

Trump's own chosen expert on COVID, Dr. Anthony Fauci, strongly disagreed with Trump that these drugs should be used by the general public.[169] When asked by a reporter, Fauci said:

The information that you're referring to specifically is anecdotal. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can't make any definitive statement about it.
—Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases[169]

Importantly, taking pharmaceuticals for off-label uses, as Trump recommended, can be lethal. In the case of hydroxychloroquine, the toxic dose is as low as 20 mg/kg body weight, and the lethal dose as low as 30 mg/kg.[172] Also hydroxychloroquine suppresses the immune system,[173] so it could actually make COVID infection worse. "What do you have to lose?", said Trump.[174]

The question should really be, 'What does Trump have to gain?' This is because Trump as well as several of Trump's associates, including Wilbur Ross and Ken Fisher, are directly or indirectly invested in companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine.[175] In the big scheme of Trump's finances, his own personal investment in hydroxychloroquine manufacture is puny,[176] but would it surprise you if a billionaire helped out a crony or that a billionaire would try to chisel a nickel from the pavement of a busy street sidewalk?

Yes, this is a real image from the U.S. Navy.

There is an association — although causation has not been established — between both hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine[177] and azithromycin[178][179] with adverse cardiac events. This is an additional reason not to self-medicate with these drugs.

Only a day after Trump's dangerously stupid recommendation, two cases of chloroquine poisonings from self-medication were reported in Nigeria; health workers in Nigeria (and elsewhere) have had to warn Nigerians against self-medication.[180] On March 23, 2020, it was announced that a US man has died and that his wife is in critical condition after both ingested "chloroquine phosphate,[note 6] an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks."[181]

Chloroquine, one of the first synthetic anti-malarial drugs, is not as effective at malaria prevention and treatment as it used to be due to parasite resistance. It is however effective in the treatment of a few diseases, including lupus, amebiasis and rheumatic disease.[182] Due to Trump's crank promotion of chloroquine, US stocks of chloroquine has been nearly exhausted in less than a week, likely causing severe medical consequences for patients who relied on chloroquine.[183] It is a drug which is falling out of use for any treatment, as hydroxychloroquine is generally much better tolerated and more effective. HCQ is generally well tolerated enough that it can be taken daily for the treatment of diseases such as RA and lupus, and is widely prescribed for such.

Quack Doctor Mehmet Oz announced on Fox News that he was testing the drug combination, and was immediately repudiated on Fox by US Surgeon General Jerome Adams (a Trump appointee).[184]

The researcher behind this shitshow is Didier RaoultWikipedia (1952–), who besides publishing a really lousy paper on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (non-randomized, no true control group, bad ethical practice, confounding factors, missing patients from the analysis, dubious peer review) in the publication International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA), has also been caught falsifying data in the past.[185][186][187][188][189] Raoult has cast doubt on randomized trials generally, as well as on the value of scientific consensus.[186][189] Incidentally, Raoult has also broadened his 'research' by denying climate change[190] and Darwinian evolution (and its Modern Synthesis).[186][191]

Two of the co-authors on the IJAA article are Raoult and Jean Marc Rolain.[187] Rolain is the editor-in-chief of IJAA[192] and Rolain is a subordinate of Raoult at the Institut hospitalo-universitaire.Wikipedia Due to the editor-in-chief being a co-editor, the peer review process was passed on to an unnamed associate editor,[193] which did adhere to peer review rules, though the 1-day turnound time is still suspicious.[185][186] On April 3, the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, which publishes IJAA, took the unusual step of issuing a non-retraction notice regarding the paper:[193][194]

ISAC shares the concerns regarding the above article published recently in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA). The ISAC Board believes the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety.

That said, there is in vitro (in a petri dish, essentially) evidence that chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine is effective at inhibiting SARS-CoV-2,[195] and there are several plausible mechanisms of action that have been discovered. It's believed that HCQ could potentially alter the PH of cells, thereby preventing SARS-CoV-2 from binding, and it could also allow more zinc into the cell, which would change the composition of the cell to an extent it becomes lethal to any entering SARS-CoV-2 viruses. This was the primary rationale for using it along with azithromycin. The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulation effects are another possibility, as this virus generally kills by cytokine storm, in other words an overactive immune system. In vivo testing has, however, been mostly negative, but the rationale for testing did exist. Raoult, however, despite having a perfect opportunity to do so, did not carry out anything resembling a real test, then declared victory, saying he had cured COVID-19.

Under what was likely intense pressure from the White House, the FDA issued an approval letter for emergency use of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (but not azithromycin) on March 28, 2020.[196] Notably, the FDA letter "did not cite specific studies or evidence the FDA used to support the decision."[196][197]

On the very same day that Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, started touting hydroxychloroquine,[198] Sweden terminated a medical trial for the drug due to severe side effects (seizures and vision impairment).[199][200]

Trump's fixation on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine has reportedly diverted already scarce expertise into what will likely be a wild goose chase.[201] Trump's fixation was apparently initiated after a phone call with major campaign donor and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.[201]

In April 2020, a (pre-peer reviewed) randomized clinical trial of 368 COVID patients was divided into three groups hydroxychloroquine (HC), HC+azithromycin (HC+AZ) and control group of no HC or AZ.[202] The study found no evidence that HC with or without AZ reduced the risk of need for mechanical ventilation, and the study further found that HC alone increased the risk of death.[202] However, many other tests are still ongoing in various stages all around the world.

On May 19, 2020, Trump surprisingly revealed that due to recent potential exposure to the virus in the White House, Trump was taking hydroxychloroquine (along with a zinc supplement) in an attempt to ward off the virus (in spite of the above noted health concerns.) [203][204]. Even a Fox News host (Neil CavutoWikipedia) was stunned by this decision, warning Fox News viewers that there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine can ward off Covid-19, and "if you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you."[205]

To few people's surprise, hydroxychloroquine did not prevent people from becoming infected with COVID-19.[206][207]

Disinfectants and ultraviolet[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Ultraviolet
Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it.

And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.

I see disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that. So you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we'll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that's pretty powerful.
—Trump[208] — Would you run away from this man if you heard this on the street?

Meanwhile, on April 23, 2020, during a presentation, after learning that surface cleaners such as sodium hypochloriteWikipedia bleach or isopropyl alcoholWikipedia might be effective at killing the virus, Trump shared more of the depths of his medical expertise by wondering whether COVID-19 could be killed by injecting these surface disinfectants into the body (most surface disinfectants, including these two, are highly toxic to ingest), or whether you could kill the virus by shining "tremendous" amounts of ultraviolet "light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way." [209][210] Medical doctors reacted by calling Trump's statements as "irresponsible", "extremely dangerous", and "frightening". Major manufacturers of disinfectants, such as Reckitt BenckiserWikipedia (manufacturers of LysolWikipedia and DettolWikipedia)[211] and ZofloraWikipedia[212] rushed to put out press releases and social media posts, reminding everyone that following this advice from Trump would be a really, really bad idea.

Fringe fans of another type of bleach, Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS, a.k.a. chlorine dioxideWikipedia bleach), rejoiced, feeling that the president has provided all the evidence they need that ingesting bleach will cure everything. (As chlorine dioxide bleach also is toxic to ingest, following the advice of the MMS quacks is a really, really bad idea as well.)[213] Trump got the dangerously stupid idea of promoting bleach after receiving a letter from Mark Grenon, the leader of the largest group promoting MMS (a "church"/manufacturer called Genesis II); the letter told Trump that MMS is "a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body".[214] (This same group had been ordered by the FDA to stop selling the "unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19" just a few days earlier.)[215]

Oleandrin[edit]

In August 2020, a few prominent Republicans (such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Ben Carson, and Mike Lindell,Wikipedia the CEO of My Pillow, a company that has engaged in illegal business practices,[216] and in 2020 was known for providing heavy advertising support for far-right Fox News hosts, such as Tucker Carlson[217] and Laura Ingraham,[218] that have become too toxic for mainstream companies to advertise on) started pitching oleandrin,Wikipedia a toxic chemical found in the oleanderWikipedia plant (Nerium oleander), to Trump as a cure for COVID-19. (Of course, the pitch has an element of self-interest, as Lindell has a stake in a company developing oleandrin extracts called Phoenix Biotechnology.)[219] Oleandrin is a cardiac glycoside, with similar properties and structure to digoxin, which is derived from Foxglove.

There is no solid evidence that oleandrin works to treat COVID-19 in humans.[219] Although there is a preliminary, preprint (non-peer reviewed) study that oleandrin may display some in vitroWikipedia inhibition of SARS-CoV-2,[220] it is a giant leap to go from saying, preliminarily, that a compound may inhibit a virus in isolation, to saying that not only does this compound cure COVID-19, it is safe to use on humans. In addition, two authors of the study are employed by Phoenix Biotechnology, suggesting a potential conflict of interest.[221] In the mean time, because oleander is a common ornamental plant that is also well known to be highly toxic,[222] some in the medical field worry that there is a non-trivial chance that people will get the really, really bad idea to "self-medicate" with the plant.[223] The American Botanical Council (an alternative medicine organization that promotes herbal medicine) actually rushed out a press release urging consumers "not to ingest any parts of the plant, or capsules, tablets, teas, or extract preparations made from leaves or other parts of the oleander plant because it contains chemicals that can cause serious effects to the human heart, including death."[224]

Facial masks, an assault on mah freedom![edit]

"I don' wanna wear mask" by Jon McNaughton.
See the main article on this topic: Face masks

Initially, the advice from health officials on whether or not to wear a mask was confusing and contradictory, due to the thought that mask priority should be reserved for medical professionals, and confusion on how effective masks were at containing COVID-19 transmission.[225] But by May 2020, the evidence was compelling that masks actually were very effective — even simple masks made from cloth reduced the possibility of COVID-19 transmission by a significant amount. As a result, the scientific consensus by the middle of 2020 was firmly in agreement: it is advisable to wear a mask as much as possible (particularly in crowds and indoor locations), in order to offer a little protection against getting COVID-19 (and even more protection against asymptomatic cases unknowingly infecting other people). [226] In America, this resulted in some states and towns passing laws to make mask wearing mandatory, at least in indoor locations.

Unfortunately, conspiracy theories about masks popped up almost immediately online. In the video Plandemic mentioned above, for instance, Judy Mikovits claimed that masks "literally activates your own virus", a claim so puzzling to scientists that one wonders exactly what Mikovits actually learned while obtaining her biochemistry degree.[227] Donald Trump made a point of not wearing a mask in public [228] and only grudgingly occasionally started to wear masks in July 2020 [229]. Polls showed that the more conservative media one watched, the more one refused to embrace social distancing and mask wearing. [230] Many conservative news sources such as Fox News seemed more interested in mocking mask laws and using masks as a conservative "talking point" that related to generic "freedom" oriented musings and attacks on Democrat politicians. [231] In the worst case scenarios, this has led to many mask-less freedom fighters idiots getting into shouting matches, and even physical fights, with grocery store clerks, servers, and other service employees who merely asked for facial masks to be worn indoors in their store location. This has resulted in a large number of viral videos documenting the facial mask meltdowns. [232]

In June of 2020, a group calling itself the "Freedom To Breathe Agency", a private, non-governmental organization, ran both a website and a Facebook page, encouraging people to print out their own "Face Mask Exemption Card", threatening steep financial penalties for forcing the card's bearer to wear a face mask. The card listed a claim that the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) did not require the bearer to disclose their condition.[233] The Department of Justice issued a warning that the cards were not issued by any Government agency.[234] As of June 29, 2020, both the website and the Facebook page have vanished.

Racism, bigotry and trolling[edit]

Anti-xenophobia poster in New York City.
See the main articles on this topic: Racism and trolling
It is a foreign virus, if the chinese held high hygiene standards we wouldn't be in this mess right now.
—FoxxysTweets, local racist on Twitter responding to a post from the wingnut Townhall.com. Nearly 80 likes, a few retweets.[235]

The pandemic has brought out ugly divisions between whites and minority races (which are more disproportionately affected) while also stroking xenophobic hatred and relentless exploitation of immigrants, all while being constantly goaded by right-wing leaders and media pundits.

The coronavirus outbreak indirectly victimized Asians by bringing out the worst in racists. Particularly, it harkens back to an old racist sentiment that the Chinese are filthy and eat whatever animal they like.[236] Many Asians (regardless of whether they are Chinese or not, this includes Taiwanese people) have reported experiencing increased profiling and social isolation over concerns that they might have COVID-19 (complete with racist terms and tropes directed against them in some cases). Rumors about Shen Yun being a vector for coronavirus have been circulating despite the dance company being located in New York, being banned from performing in China, and the members not having visited China in years.[237] Business has slumped at many Asian-oriented establishments in the West.[238] These verbal attacks have occasionally crossed over into assault and harassment.[239] It's most apparent when racists don't get the nationality correct and just assume every East Asian-looking they see is a new Chinese immigrant and not someone that's been more likely living there long before the outbreak.

A few businesses across the globe are prohibiting "all people coming from China" from entering their establishment due to excessive COVID-19 fears.[240] Stroking anti-immigrant bigotry while politicizing the COVID-19 in the United States, Donald Trump, in a campaign rally on February 28, 2020, called COVID-19 the Democrats' "new hoax", ironically accusing the Democrats of doing the very same thing he is doing — politicizing the virus. He then linked the virus to the "many other public health threats" of "the Democrat policy of open borders".[241] Fear of infectious disease is widely seen as being a strong motivating factor behind racism [242], so it is not surprising that Trump is using the virus, characterizing it as a "foreign" virus,[243] (hint for xenophobes: political boundaries don't define a virus) to "rally his base" behind his racist, xenophobic[244] "immigration policy".

A laughable/sad instance of plumb-ignorant racism involves a fake shitpost circulated in Australia, from the "Department of Diseasology Parramatta", warned fellow racists, in poor grammar, about contaminated "Asian" products including Lipton's peach ice tea[245] (Lipton is a British company). It has gotten so bad that NSW HealthWikipedia responded.

For some reason, a story about a CameroonianWikipedia man living in China who contracted, and was successfully treated for COVID-19[246] generated bullshit racialist posts online that he actually fought off the virus "because he has black skin, (because) the antibodies of a black person are 3 times strong, powerful,and resistant as that of a white".[sic] There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.[247]

Fundie conspiracy theorist and radio broadcaster Rick Wiles has blamed Jews for spreading the COVID-19 virus because they are not Christians. ("God is spreading it in your synagogues! You are under judgment because you oppose his son, Jesus Christ.)[248]

Many ecofascists have made statements stating that humanity is the "disease" and that COVID-19 is nature's "cure" or "revenge,"[249] either ignoring that the disease is disproportionately fatal for poor, non-white people, often ones living in third world countries or acknowledging it but not giving a fuck because they either lack empathy for such people or, in extreme cases, actively want them to die because they blame them for overpopulation.

In the Republic of Korea, a 29-year-old man living in Yongin tested positive for COVID-19. He went clubbing in Itaewon, a party district in Seoul, when he had no symptoms, exposing at least 1,500 people to the virus. For some Korean media, his being gay was most problematic aspect of this story. This has led to homophobic public opinion and hate speech against LGBT people within the Korean Internet community. [250]

Denying immigrants basic human rights[edit]

For my children and I, who are US citizens, who should be afforded the same rights as every other citizen, it's really upsetting. We're being punished because of something completely separate, which is the immigration status of my husband. It wasn't thought out completely, surely. We are being betrayed by our own government."
—Miriam, part of a family of five that won't receive aid because her husband used an individual taxpayer identification number.[251]

It's particularly striking that immigrants, especially working class immigrants, are left off to fend for themselves while other groups receive relief packages. It mirrors the disasters centuries ago in the U.S. when it was believed that the Irish carried chlorea while Jewish were responsible for tuberculosis. The exclusion is most notable in the United States, taken in reigns by an incompetent and bigoted president, where long-entrenched beliefs of "bootstraps" and dispensable "undeserving poor" dominate right-wing political discourse. Trump has excluded the stimulus checks to immigrants without social security numbers and filed only joint tax returns, including people who are married to them, barring 1.2 millions Americans from receiving aid.[252] Americans that use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to pay taxes, that means, are not getting anything despite working and paying taxes. Oh, but those serving the military are exempt. We wonder why...

A change to the public charge law in 2018 has made it more difficult for immigrants to receive a green card if they seek aid or are in conditions that make them likely to seek aid (including Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children despite not being included in the list of targeted benefits), thus potentially contributing to a chilling effect where 1 in 7 immigrants have not pursued aid in fear of jeopardizing their immigration status, thus leaving them more at risk of getting incapacitated by the coronavirus.[253]

It's better to just let people die rather than lose money… or the election[edit]

Now, … an unofficial study which we undertook of this eventuality, indicated that we would destroy ninety percent of their nuclear capabilities. We would therefore prevail, and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from their remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated.
—General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove,[254] foreshadowing the 'pro-life' GOP political calculus[255]
As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all Americans love for your children and grandchildren?
—Lieutenant governor of Texas Dan PatrickWikipedia, actually displaying the pro-life GOP political calculus that the economy is more important than Grandma and Grandpa.[256]

United States of America[edit]

A common theme among Republicans seems to be that the economy running normally is far more important than lots of people dying. This most often goes unsaid, but comes up in the form of denialism of the seriousness of the pandemic[257] or in the form of many Republican governors' refusal to follow health experts advice on mandating social distancing.[258]

The economic reality however is that without the availability of an effective vaccine, the cost of not implementing social distancing measures is extremely costly to the US economy: $5.2 trillion.[259] This estimate is from an analysis by University of Wyoming researchers (Linda Thunstrom et al.) that used standard statistical cost of a life lost estimates, a type of metric that is commonly used in governmental risk-benefit analyses and in courtroom damage assessments.[259][260] A separate analysis from University of Chicago economists Michael Greenstone and Vishan Nigam concluded:[261]

Whether in regular times or during a pandemic, it is difficult to think of any intervention with such large potential benefits to American citizens. Importantly, while we measure benefits of distancing in dollars, they reflect the high value Americans place on small reductions in their chance of death – including consumption, leisure, time with family, and other aspects of life not easily monetized.

It is noteworthy that while the CDC has used economic cost-benefit analyses in the past, the CDC is not using such analyses for COVID-19.[259] The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is also not doing any cost-benefit analyses, and The White House Council of Economic Advisers declined to comment on whether they had reviewed the analysis by Thunstrom et al., which they had been sent.[259]

Response of wingnuts[edit]

In the case of conspiracy theorist/Trump-fanboy Bill Mitchell,[262] he was caught tweeting:[263]

We lost 6,000,000 people during the Holocaust. Did we shut down our economy then? Of course not. This is pure insanity.
—Bill Mitchell

America, like most nations in response to COVID-19, has been using non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancingWikipedia and quarantinesWikipedia to try and prevent the spread of this disease. In the middle of April 2020, several protests against this lockdown erupted in many states in America. These relatively small protests (at most a couple thousand people) attracted the more extremist, paranoid elements in American conservatism (as evidenced by the frequent appearance of Confederate flags, semi-automatic weapons, and Trump cult of personality paraphernalia at these rallies).[264][265] The racial makeup of these protests are majority white, even in more racially diverse states such as California.[266] Of course, most Americans, including a plurality of conservatives, think these protesters are nuts. [267]

The rallies, while ostensibly a grassroots protest, were revealed to actually be astroturf on close examination, with ties to such industrialist figures such as Betsy DeVos and the Koch family, as well as shit-stirrers seeking nothing more than to profit over the paranoid (to no one's surprise, a show hosted at Infowars was behind a protest in Texas, and Alex Jones was in attendance.) [268][269][270]. The rallies have also received support and behind-the-scenes coordination from The Convention of States project, which has been funded by Republican megadonor Robert Mercer's family foundation, and two members of Trump's White House, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development.[271]

Trump, of course, has enthusiastically retweeted support for these protests; [272] in contrast, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director Anthony FauciWikipedia warned that the anti-quarantine protesters could actually prolong the shutdown. [273] (In spite of calls to "fire Fauci" at the protest rallies, as of April 19, 2020, far more Americans trust Fauci for information on COVID-19 compared to Trump.[274]) In late June 2020, Trump ignored rising case numbers and held two large-scale presidential rallies. Two weeks after Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, 2020, Tulsa had a spike in new detected coronavirus cases; a top health official believed that the rally "more than likely contributed" to the spike. [275]

Fox News host Pete Hegseth on May 7, 2020, to no one's surprise, advised people on a panel program called OutnumberedWikipedia to ignore "some of our experts and some of our leaders" and, laying out the line that the economy was more important than one's health, encouraged "healthy people" to leave their homes and get infected with COVID-19 in order to strive for "herd immunity". (Experts generally are wary about the "herd immunity" concept with this virus.)[276] Apparently no lessons were learned from Fox and FriendsWikipedia co-host Jedediah Bila, who contracted the virus on April 9. [277] Several studies suggest the possibility that watching conservative populist American media during this pandemic may have been hazardous to your health: preliminary data suggests that those who watched conservative media like Fox News were less likely to social distance and were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories or quack cures. [278]

Some business CEOs have also taken the stance that keeping the business open is more important than the health of the people. One of the more prominent CEO bullshit artists and attention whores during the pandemic is Elon Musk. In between given his new baby boy an unpronounceable name that PrinceWikipedia would have been proud of [279] and dissing Warren BuffettWikipedia on Joe Rogan's podcast[280], Musk used his Twitter account to broadcast his fury over what he feels is a "dumb" coronavirus "panic". During the first several months of the pandemic, he promised (but failed to deliver) to manufacture ventilators for hospitals, he promoted the chloroquine quackery on his Twitter feed, and he called stay-at-home orders "forcible imprisoning" and "fascist" during an expletive-filled first quarter earnings call. [281][282] On May 11, 2020, Musk defied a county lockdown order and reopened their California manufacturing facility. [283]

Fringe personalities, generally from the wingnut side, have also moaned about the virus being nothing more than a conspiracy to destroy the economy. For instance, ex-sheriff David Clarke thinks that attempts to stop the spread of coronavirus by restricting large gatherings are "an orchestrated attempt to destroy capitalism."[284]

It's better to just let students and teachers die rather than lose money[edit]

After pumping up Trump's dubious COVID cure, Dr. Oz suggested to Hannity that reopening schools would be a good idea and that a certain level of mortality among schoolchildren would be acceptable:

"Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but … that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider."
—Mehmet Oz[285]

I.e., never mind the Hippocratic OathWikipedia ("First, do no harm."), we need the money. Oz tried to walk back his quote within 24 hours, but the harm was already done.[286]

In the summer of 2020, as America debated whether or not to re-open schools in the fall of that year, many Republican politicians echoed Oz's general sentiment, preferring charge-ahead bluster in their push to re-open schools, without much thought for safety. Predictably and understandably, teachers as a whole were not happy with this development. Most would have been happy re-opening schools if the viral caseload for the area was low enough, and proper sanitation guidelines for re-opening schools (issued by the CDCWikipedia) were followed. [287] However, many Republican leaders were insisting on a full scale re-opening [288] in spite of, at that time, many Republican led states and towns also being COVID-19 hotspots.[289] One teachers' union; (in Florida) sued to block re-opening; [290] many other teachers are quitting or retiring early in response. [291][292] Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, showed her compassion to teachers by making an empty threat [note 7] to defund schools that don't open [293]. Louisiana Senator John KennedyWikipedia was even more compassionate when he advocated on Hannity's Fox News show that those who oppose schools' reopenings "can kiss my ass". [294]

"The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open... the science should not stand in the way of this."
—White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanyWikipedia[295]

Predictably, many schools after they reopened became the site of a COVID-19 outbreak; the outbreaks have often caused many students to be quarantined, and in some cases resulted in the school shutting down almost immediately after re-opening.[296][297][298] In one case, in North Paulding High School in Dallas Georgia, a student posted a photo of the school hallways shortly after re-opening. The photos showed a very crowded hallway, with many students not wearing masks. The school's response was to suspend the student for having the audacity to share the photo on social media. [299] (Facing a backlash, the suspension was removed a few days later.)[300] The next week, 9 cases (later rising to 35) of COVID-19 were confirmed among North Paulding High School teachers and students. This forced the school to close for a full week for cleaning, and adapt an alternate hybrid in-person/virtual learning strategy after that. [301] In another case, a school district cancelled plans to reopen schools after teachers staged a "sick out" in protest. [302] Universities were not spared either — COVID-19 outbreaks, often linked to sororities, fraternities and off-campus parties, forced a few universities to move to online-only classes.[303]

Brazil[edit]

Similarly, President Jair Bolsonaro seems to be wagering that keeping the Brazilian economy running will be the only way to get reelected at this point as long as the body count doesn't rise too high.[304] His strong resistance to quarantine measures and his repeated COVID-19 denialism (a stance that runs contrary to almost every other leader in the world — he repeatedly has downplayed COVID-19 as "a bit of sniffles" or a "little flu") has led to defiance from most of Brazil's governors (who have largely implemented a quarantine in their states anyways), nightly protests in many Brazilian cities, and a declining approval rating. [305][306] Bolsonaro's frequent clashes with Brazilian health minister Luiz Henrique MandettaWikipedia (who advocated social isolation, and has a 76 percent approval rating as a result, compared to Bolsonaro's 28 percent approval rating) eventually led, naturally, to Mandetta being fired by Bolsonaro on April 16, 2020. [307]

The health care minister appointed to replace Mandetta, Nelson TeichWikipedia, resigned on May 15, 2020 — officially for no reason, but Teich was known for frequently clashing with Bolsonaro. It was speculated that Bolsonaro's embrace of the chloroquine quackery pushed by Donald Trump, and his desire on May 14, 2020 to change the protocol around chloroquine to allow for expanded use (despite there being no solid evidence that this drug works well against COVID-19) was the final straw for Teich. [308][309] Teich was replaced by a temporary appointment, Eduardo Pazuello, an army general with no previous medical experience. [310][311]

Bolsonaro has gone above and beyond Trump in protesting lockdown measures by actually appearing at anti-lockdown rallies. Journalists noted that he neither wore a face mask (even though he was seen coughing on several occasions) nor gloves, precautions which other world leaders have taken. [312]

"So what? I'm sorry. What do you want me to do?"
—Jair Bolsonaro, when asked about Brazil's record 474 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday April 28, 2020. Apparently responding by taking COVID-19 seriously for once is out of the question...[313]

Bolsonaro's callous and dismissive response to the virus (including the above quote, which trended on social media) has infuriated many Brazilians, as well as many other government officials (including Bolsonaro's popular justice minister, Sergio MoroWikipedia, who resigned from Bolsonaro's administration on April 24, 2020, in part because Bolsonaro was being an anti-scientific dipshit on COVID-19.)[314]

One son of Bolsonaro, a popular video game streamer named Jair Renan Bolsonaro, actually got temporarily banned from TwitchWikipedia on May 2020 due to him saying bullshit during a Twitch session that COVID-19 was "just a little flu" and a "media invention to lock you inside your home, so you'll think the world is crumbling". [315]

By June 2020, as the COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to increase (in terms of raw numbers, only the United States had more confirmed cases at that time, and unlike the United States, the case rate was still trending upward)[316][317], it was clear to most Brazillians that COVID-19 was far from just a "little flu", and Bolsonaro was widely blamed for his poor response to the pandemic. [318] Bolsonaro responded to this sentiment by wiping months of historical data from Brazil's official online COVID-19 tracker, and only allowing limited information to be shown, in a clear bid to try to reshape the narrative.[319] This move caused three opposition parties to file a legal challenge; a Supreme Court judge later sided with the opposition parties, overruling Bolsonaro, and ordered the data to be restored. [320]

After spending the rest of June continuing to downplay the virus and scuttling preventative measures, such as vetoing elements of a mandatory mask law passed by the lower house, [321] on July 7, 2020, Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19. [322]

It's better to just let people die rather than stop gathering to worship the Lord[edit]

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who refused to suspend in-person services[323] and demanded that his flock continue tithing even if they lost their jobs.[324]

By its very nature, a religious service (multiple people gathering indoors in close quarters, often involving singing or other forms of vocal expression) offers conditions which are ripe for COVID-19 to spread rapidly. As such, COVID-19 has exacerbated the rift between faiths that respect the laboratory, and faiths that openly defy science. While a large proportion of religious institutions have complied with lock-downs and quarantines, some — particularly fundamentalist or evangelical sects that have naturally been hostile to scientific thought — have engaged in open defiance against these orders.

Inevitably, some of these religious gatherings have ended up as the source of a major viral outbreak.[325][326] It is noteworthy however, that since the stay-at-home orders in the United States, churchgoing has become the exception rather than the rule, even on Easter.[327]

Some world leaders have preferred to rely on religious tropes instead of taking necessary quarantine action. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a leader strongly aligned with the Brazilian evangelical community, who as noted above has defiantly resisted calls for a lockdown, decided that a national day of fasting and prayer was the best course of action for combating the virus.[328] Tanzanian president John MagufuliWikipedia defended his decision to keep places of worship open by stating that "corona is the devil and it cannot survive in the body of Jesus."[329]

(As proof that Magufuli's proclamation isn't quite the case, and the very nature of a church gathering actually makes it more risky than many other scenarios, major viral outbreaks tied to religious gatherings include 2,500 cases tied to a gathering of the large Christian Open Door ChurchWikipedia in France in mid-February 2020[330], a church gathering in Arkansas that caused at least 34 direct cases of COVID-19 and multiple additional cases when COVID-19 infections spilled over into the surrounding community,[331][332]a church service in Frankfurt that resulted in more than 100 COVID-19 infections,[333] and a choir practice in Washington state where 47 of the 60 people who attended were infected by COVID-19.[334])

South Korea[edit]

A prominent example of a major COVID outbreak tied to a defiant religious group is the secretive sect ShincheonjiWikipedia in South Korea, which continued to host worship sessions after several of its members caught the virus and failed to inform health authorities of the outbreak by submitting falsified lists of its members. So far, over 60% of reported cases in South Korea are linked with Shincheonji, and Korean authorities are currently seeking murder and wrongful death charges against the sect.[335]

Israel[edit]

In Israel, the ultra-Orthodox sect known as HaredimWikipedia make up 12% of Israel's population — but they account for as much as 60% of Israel's COVID-19 cases.[336] While Israel is generally viewed as reacting swiftly to the virus, the ultra-Orthodox community initially resisted social distancing measures, especially regarding the closure of synagogues and religious schools.[337] This has resulted in increased tension between the Haredim community (who have a special status in Israeli law that allows them to avoid the otherwise mandatory military draft, among other privileges) and the rest of the Israeli public.[338] A prominent member of Benjamin Netanyahu's government, health minister Yaakov Litzman (who is ultra-Orthodox), tested positive for COVID-19 on April 2, 2020.[339] Some reports suggest that Litzman flouted social distancing rules by taking part in illicit group prayers, an accusation he denies.[340]

Tanzania[edit]

As noted above, Tanzania president John Magufuli engaged in tepid preventative measures with COVID-19 compared to other African nations, keeping all places of worship open, and preferring to fight the virus by engaging in unhelpful measures such as declaring days of national prayer [341] and promoting a herbal tonic placebo as a cure.[342] Of course, any journalist that tries to do any real reporting on COVID-19 is cracked down upon. [343] Other African countries engaged in lockdowns and social distancing, and saw declining cases as a result.[344] Unsurprisingly in contrast, by May 2020, Tanzania had the highest number of cases in the region, [345] and this is even before the large possibility that cases are being under-tested and under-reported due to the opaque nature of the Tanzania government. (Even the cause of death of three MPs in 11 days in April 2020 was kept hidden from the public, causing rumors to fly speculating that all 3 died of COVID-19.)[346]

United States[edit]

In America, one of the more prominent examples of a religious leader defying lockdown orders is Rodney Howard-BrowneWikipedia of The River At Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida (a preacher who is heavily aligned with the conspiracy theory crowd, to the point where in 2018 he appeared on Infowars and gave Alex Jones the gift of a handgun to show that Jones was "protected by God")[347]. Howard-Browne earned national attention by getting arrested for repeatedly refusing to comply with lockdown orders.[348] Howard-Browne, who believed in the bullshit that COVID-19 was a bioweapon created by Bill and Melinda Gates to complete a socialist takeover of the US government and kill off people with vaccines[349], closed the church after this arrest — not because of the virus, but because he wanted to protect the church from "a tyrannical government".[350]

Louisiana has another prominent example of a religious leader defying lockdown orders, Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge. Spell has compared lockdown orders to "tyranny", believes the pandemic is "politically motivated", and continues to intend to violate the law (drawing six misdemeanor citations in the process).[351] In a TMZ interview, Spell claimed that "true Christians do not mind dying, they fear living in fear", judged that "people that can prefer tyranny over freedom do not deserve freedom", claimed that the "only vent that (people) have for their emotions is coming to the house of God and worshiping, like free people." and brushed off any deaths that might result from his foolish defiance with the notion that they "died like free people".[352] Of course, worshiping remotely was out of the question. As of April 16, 2020, one member of his church has reportedly died from COVID-19, although Spell denied that this was the cause of death (never mind what the coroner report said).[353] Later, on April 20th 2020, Spell was issued an arrest warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — as earlier he showed his Christian spiritWikipedia by rapidly backing up a church bus into the direction of a person protesting in front of his church, stopping just short of hitting him. [354]

Another prominent example in America is Liberty University — at a time when most college campuses locked down due to the virus, Jerry Falwell Jr. chose to keep the campuses open, believing that the COVID-19 quarantines were an "over-reaction" driven by a desire to harm Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, Liberty University has been the source for many new infections of COVID-19, with at least a dozen students and several employees falling ill from the virus. Falwell Jr.'s reaction to this has been to criticize the reporting of his stupidity, ironically comparing the media to Nazis and suing two reporters for "trespassing". (A Liberty University student countered by suing Liberty University and Falwell Jr. for "placing students at severe physical risk".)[355][356][357]

In one case, a preacher, Gerald Glenn, "firmly believe(d) that God is larger than this dreaded virus". Under this delusion, he defied lockdown orders on March 22 2020, holding a service and vowed to preach "unless I'm in jail or the hospital". He ended up catching the virus, and passed away on April 11, 2020.[358][359]

Ukraine[edit]

In the Ukraine, an Orthodox church (Kyiv Pechersk LavraWikipedia) also initially defied quarantine orders, with monastery head Metropolitan Pavel stating that "the most terrible epidemic is the sin that destroys human nature" and encouraging everyone to "hurry to church". This church has emerged as a hotspot for the viral infection in the Ukraine, with 140 monks reportedly testing positive for the virus.[360]

Information suppression[edit]

Order from the Wuhan Police demanding Dr. Li Wenliang to stop "spreading rumors" about a possible "SARS virus" dated 3 January.

China[edit]

China's government uses many authoritarian tactics — strict secrecy, media censorship, and the like — to promote "stability" and slavish adherence to central authority. When the disease first started showing up as early as December 8, 2019,[361] the Wuhan government ordered all government agencies to act like everything was "normal". On December 30, eight doctors in Wuhan, including Li Wenliang, expressed concern about the spreading sickness but they were reprimanded by the local government for 'spreading rumors'.[361][362] President Xi Jinping said on January 7, 2020 that he was aware of the virus, but from January 12-17 the annual Communist Party meetings were held, and a huge potluck supper for 40,000 families was held on January 18, during which time the Wuhan city health department issued a statement that no new cases were detected.[362] On January 14, Ma Xiaowei, the head of China's National Health Commission, reported in a confidential session that the situation was "severe and complex" and that "the risk of transmission and spread is high. All localities must prepare for and respond to a pandemic."[362] In response to this however, the National Health Commission however issued a 63-page document of pandemic response procedures that was labelled "internal" and "not to be publicly disclosed".[362] The confidentiality of the document enabled Li Qun, head of China’s disease control emergency center, to contradict the report on state television by saying "the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low".[362] President Xi did not warn the public until January 20,[362] 53 days after the virus disease was first detected in Wuhan.

This delayed public discovery about the virus for 40 days, probably causing the pandemic to be much worse than if China had a free press.[361][363] One doctor, Li Wenliang, who attempted to raise the alarm about the new coronavirus, was actually punished for "spreading false rumours".[note 8] Wenliang died from the coronavirus on February 7th, 2020, causing widespread outrage on Chinese social media, actually threatening to overwhelm Chinese social media censors for a time.[364][365]

Since then, China has been proud to show images in official media coverage that they are fighting the virus. (However, some of the images that they show are not what they claim to be)[366]. Of course, they remain dedicated to censoring any *unofficial* viewpoints in social media. China is happy to flood social media with the "official viewpoint" that the outbreak is under control and we all shall be returning to work soon, citizens! [367] In reality, China's clumsy, slow reaction to COVID-19 (a reaction which was aggravated by the increasingly authoritarian government of Xi Jinping, and the consequential "authoritarian blindness" that tends to result in these systems due to being advised solely by "yes men")[368] has severely weakened the Chinese government credibility among many Chinese, in spite of the heavy propaganda machine. [369] Chinese media has attempted to cover up what happened by portraying President Xi as a "hero who vanquished the virus", and that China's system (of authoritarian control) should be emulated.[362]

United States[edit]

White House briefing on COVID-19

The Trump Administration ignored the National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics that the Bush and Obama Administrations left behind after leaving office.[370][371][372] The Trump Administration and its enablers also denied that such a playbook existed and blamed the Obama administration for not preparing one.[373]

Trump is evidentially more concerned about how the virus will affect his approval rating than anything else.[374] Seemingly taking a cue from Limbaugh above, White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyWikipedia, at a CPACWikipedia conference, blamed the media for exaggerating the seriousness of COVID-19 because "they think this will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about." He also bizarrely compared COVID-19 as equal to influenza just as Limbaugh did.[375]

Donald Trump Jr.Wikipedia also added to the pile of conservatives politicizing the virus by accusing Democrats of rooting for the virus to kill "millions of people" solely for political purposes.[376]

The official truth[edit]

Trump ordered all government official statements about COVID-19 to be funneled exclusively through a new panel led by Vice President Mike Pence — a man who once proclaimed in 2001 that "smoking doesn't kill", ignoring the scientific consensus (solid since the 1960s [377]) that tobacco smoking is deadly. [note 9][378][379] Letting someone like, say, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director[380] Anthony FauciWikipedia speak freely about COVID-19 is absolutely verboten.[381]

Nothing is wrong![edit]

And taking a page from the Chinese government's playbook, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whistleblower was reassigned from her position after raising concerns about HHS staff being in contact with coronavirus evacuees without proper protective equipment.[382] A few months later, Captain Brett Crozier, commander of the USS Roosevelt, was fired for sounding the alarm on the spread of COVID-19 on his ship.[383]

Tweet of Fortune[edit]

In summer 2020, the COVID-19 cases severely increased in the United States, particularly spiking in states such as Florida which pushed for an early opening (in many cases like Florida, without a statewide mask policy or other social distancing measures). Fauci stepped up criticism of America's response to the pandemic, bluntly stating that the national response had gone awry. In response, Trump reacted as he usually does to any criticism by sidelining Fauci, scuttling some of his planned TV appearances, and having White House officials tell the media that they are "concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things". Reportedly, Trump was annoyed by his public statements (presumably for being accurate and frank instead of Trump propaganda), and the "good press" Fauci was receiving for actually having medical sense. On Twitter, Trump preferred to retweet the medical advice of Chuck WooleryWikipedia, who used medical expertise gained from his Wheel of FortuneWikipedia hosting days to tweet that "Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors" [384][385][386][387]

Egypt[edit]

Egypt's military-dominated government has been widely criticized for a response that has imposed dire economic hardships on ordinary Egyptians without effectively containing the spread, and bullying scientists and the media into accepting the state-approved statistics on infections and deaths. After a team of Canadian scientists published a report estimating that over 19,000 Egyptians had become infected (at a time when the authorities were admitting to only three cases), the Egyptian government retaliated against German journalist Ruth Michaelson, who reported the story, by revoking her press credentials and trying to imprison her (she escaped on one of the last flights out of Egypt after the German embassy tipped her off). The government's opaque behavior, combined with the sudden disruption to daily life, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's unannounced two-week disappearance, and an admission that two senior generals had died of the virus led to an entirely predictable public panic.[388]

Suspicions that the government was misleading the public about the outbreak's severity were confirmed when an anonymous, high-ranking military officer tipped the press off that the state was deliberately manipulating data on disease prevalence. Tricks included withholding tests, falsifying causes of death on victims' autopsy reports, and not reporting cases within the military.[389]

The authoritarianism pandemic[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Authoritarianism

Many countries in 2020 that were either fully authoritarian, or drifting in this direction, have used COVID-19 as an excuse to tighten the reins. Pandemics naturally cause some restrictive responses and policies that normally would be unthinkable during normal times (such as quarantines to help slow the spread of disease), but authoritarian governments used the virus as an excuse to consolidate power in government, and implement restrictive policies well in excess of what is necessary to control the disease.

In Israel in March 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency (conveniently closing courts that were due to hear his own corruption trial) and started implementing mass surveillance of citizens via cell phones. Hungary's parliament voted to cancel elections, suspend its own legislative power, and grant Prime Minister Viktor Orban the right to rule by decree indefinitely, as well as enhancing information suppression methods. Leaders of other countries, such as Serbia, Cambodia and Togo have followed suit in making their country effectively one-leader-rule (in some cases, allegedly temporarily, but the fear among human rights groups is that it very possible that these new arrangements will be permanent). The leader of Azerbaijan, Ilham AliyevWikipedia, warned that he might have to purge the nation of "enemies". Nations such as Cambodia, Chile, Jordan, Thailand, El SalvadorWikipedia[390], and Russia used COVID-19 to enhance measures to crack down on dissent and suppress inconvenient political protest. Tensions between China and Hong Kong rose after prominent pro-democracy activists were arrested on April 18, 2020, violating the island's Basic Law which protects Hong Kong's freedoms. [391] [392][393][394]

The increasing authoritarianism in the world could be good news... for the virus. In the June 6th 2020 edition of The Economist, the magazine performed an analysis of past epidemics comparing authoritarian governments to democracies (using a definition of a "democracy" where most people can vote in free and fair elections). Using epidemic deaths per capita, they found that the lowest death rates tended to be in places where most people could vote in free and fair elections. Although a thorough analysis in this manner could not be performed on COVID-19 yet due to the virus still being an active pandemic at the time, The Economist noted that an Oxford University working paper was able to use Google's index of mobility to estimate the effectiveness of lockdown measures. Democracies overall had a larger reduction in movement in response to lockdown policies, even after accounting for national wealth and other factors. [395][396]

COVID-19 was also convenient for governments known for harassing minority groups. Uganda used "social distancing" as an excuse to crack down on LGBT people.[397] China enhanced their repression of the Uyghurs. [398] India's Hindu nationalists — including some of those in power aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party — blamed Muslims for the disease, causing increased violence against India's Muslim minority population. [399] Even in the United States, Donald Trump couldn't help playing with one of his favorite boogeymen, immigrants — ordering certain classes of new immigration to be suspended despite there being no scientific reason to do so. [400]

The most ridiculous example of this comes from Venezuela (because where else?) where catching the coronavirus is now a crime. [401] Nicolas Maduro (because who else?) has cracked down heavily on anybody who has committed the heinous crime of catching the virus. Returning migrant workers have gotten the brunt of this, being accused by Maduro of being part of a bizarre conspiracy to infect all of Venezuela with COVID-19 to bring down his Government[402] Yes, we wish we were joking too.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. In case you are thinking about it, UVC light is *not* something you want to try at home to help clean surfaces and objects of viruses and bacteria, as concentrated UVC light is extremely dangerous to *all* lifeforms, including humans
  2. short for "Chinese communist"
  3. Bizarrely, Limbaugh also ranted about fentanylWikipedia, declaring the Russians had (in his mind) similarly "weaponized fentanyl", citing the 2002 Moscow hostage theater crisisWikipedia as proof. The general consensus is that much, although not all, of the fentanyl that came into the United States during the opioid epidemic in the 2010sWikipedia actually came from China.[78] That being said, his description in the program of what it is actually like to take an opioid is noteworthy given his personal experience.Wikipedia
  4. The University of Chicago, in an analysis of the two dominant Fox News prime time hosts, was actually able to detect a higher mortality rate among viewers of Sean Hannity, who downplayed the virus until late February 2020, compared to Tucker Carlson, who took the virus more seriously earlier.[82]
  5. Ironically, the conspiracy theorists who are concerned about vaccines implementing some sort of tracking, might actually be utilizing technologies where tracking data is collected (and there is legitimate concerns over the misuse of this data) to spread this conspiracy theory misinformation. This includes cellular networks as a whole[100] and the massive amount of data collected by large social networks like Facebook and the Google-owned YouTube.[101][102]
  6. Chloroquine is a synonym for chloroquine phosphate.
  7. In America, school budgets are largely determined by local property taxes; see the Wikipedia article on public school funding in the United StatesWikipedia for details
  8. Although without an accurate understanding of the pathology of the newly discovered disease, and absent of a robust and independent reporting system, there is little Dr. Li could do as an individual.
  9. Ironic considering COVID-19's threat to smokers in particular.

References[edit]

  1. How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask.) by Reis Thebault & Alex Horton (Feb. 26, 2020 at 9:58 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  2. "Coronavirus disease named Covid-19", BBC News, 11 February 2020
  3. "China pneumonia outbreak: Mystery virus probed in Wuhan", BBC News, 2020 January 3
  4. "A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern" by Chen Wang, Peter W. Horby, Frederick G Hayden and George F Gao, Lancet, 2020 January 24
  5. COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Last updated: April 04, 2020, 22:39 GMT) Worldometer (archived from 24 Apr 2020 08:07:25 UTC).
  6. 6.0 6.1 [1]Bloomberg
  7. CITATION NEEDED
  8. "What is coronavirus and what should I do if I have symptoms?" by Sarah Boseley, Hannah Devlin, and Martin Belam, The Guardian, 2020 Feb 21
  9. CITATION NEEDED
  10. From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel (Jul. 31, 2020 , 1:30 PM) Science.
  11. https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-up-to-80-of-covid-19-patients-have-no-symptoms-health-secretary-says-12004987
  12. Coronavirus reinfections: three questions scientists are asking: Second infections raise questions about long-term immunity to COVID-19 and the prospects for a vaccine. by Heidi Ledford (04 September 2020) Nature.
  13. https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/#age
  14. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107913/number-of-coronavirus-deaths-in-sweden-by-age-groups/
  15. "Coronavirus emergency: here’s what we know so far", UN.Org, 2020 February 3
  16. "China struggles to return to work after coronavirus shutdown" by Ryan McMorrow, Christian Shepherd and Tom Mitchell, Financial Times, 2020 February 10
  17. "A third of the global population is on coronavirus lockdown — here's our constantly updated list of countries locking down and opening up" by Juliana Kaplan, Lauren Frias and Morgan McFall-Johnsen, Business Insider, archived on 2020 April 28
  18. I call it the pathological irony of crisis (happens w/financial crises, too): if you lose your credibility, your statements begin to mean the opposite of what you say. by Austan Goolsbee (5:28 AM - 4 Feb 2020) Twitter (archived from February 5, 2020).
  19. With coronavirus, Trump’s lies and his reassurances backfire by Catherine Rampell (Feb. 27, 2020 at 3:40 p.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary", Center of Disease Control, 2020 February 20
  21. "Coronavirus came from bats or possibly pangolins amid ‘acceleration’ of new zoonotic infections" by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 2020 February 7
  22. "How COVID-19 Spreads", Center of Disease Control
  23. "Chinese CDC study finds Covid-19 virus to be more contagious than SARS or MERS" by James Griffiths and Nectar Gan, CNN, 2020 February 19
  24. "How does the new coronavirus spread? These new studies offer clues." by Julia Belluz, Vox.com, 21 February 2020
  25. "Coronavirus' Top Targets: Men, Seniors, Smokers" by Karen Weintraub, WebMd.com
  26. The Coronavirus Is No 1918 Pandemic - The Atlantic
  27. You're Likely to Get the Coronavirus - The Atlantic, which we hope is wrong about this one
  28. CDC Begins to Test Patients with Flu-like Symptoms for Coronavirus - Contagion Live
  29. How does the new coronavirus compare with the flu? - Live Science
  30. Yes, it is worse than the flu: busting the coronavirus myths - The Guardian
  31. "Coronavirus Disease 2019: Prevention and Treatment", Center of Disease Control
  32. Interim Guidance: Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - CDC
  33. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public - World Health Organization
  34. 34.0 34.1 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mortality Rate, Worldometer.
  35. How Does the Coronavirus Compare With the Flu? As new cases appear on the West Coast, some — including the president — are comparing it to the seasonal flu. Here's a close look at the differences. by Denise Grady (Published Feb. 29, 2020; Updated March 3, 2020, 8:07 a.m. ET) The New York Times.
  36. Rajendran, Dinesh Kumar; Rajagopal, Varthini; Alagumanian, S.; Kumar, T. Santhosh; Prabhakaran, S. P. Sathiya; Kasilingam, Dharun (11 June 2020). "Systematic literature review on novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2: a threat to human era". Virusdisease: 1-13. doiWikipedia:10.1007/s13337-020-00604-z. PMC PMC7288266. Retrieved 30 June 2020. "[...] the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 [...] across different regions might not be as serious as Black death which killed around 75 million people in the fourteenth century and Influenza which resulted in 50 million death in 1918 [...], but if proper precautions are not taken there might be a greater chance of SARS-CoV-2 becoming the most devasting pandemic disease of the twenty-first century." 
  37. Coronavirus: What are the chances of dying? by Robert Cuffe, BBC News, 2020 March 24
  38. Age, Sex, Existing Conditions of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths, Worldometer
  39. "You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus" by James Hamblin, The Atlantic, 2020 February 24.
  40. www.bbc.com/news/amp/health-54296223
  41. Q&A: How to Find Reliable Information About Coronavirus - wikiHow
  42. 42.0 42.1 No, 5G Radiation Doesn't Spread The Coronavirus. Here's How We Know - Science Alert
  43. Kerry Cassidy has a theory - The Emoluments of Mars
  44. "There’s only one type of UV that can reliably inactivate Covid-19 – and it’s extremely dangerous." by Zaria Gorvett, BBC, 2020 March 27
  45. Conspiracy theorists burn 5G towers falsely claiming link to virus by Kelvin Chan et al. (Updated 10:53 am PDT, Tuesday, April 21, 2020) San Francisco Chronicle.
  46. [2]
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  168. HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) … be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE! @US_FDA @SteveFDA @CDCgov @DHSgov by Donald Trump (7:13 AM - 21 Mar 2020) Twitter (archived from 21 Mar 2020 16:28:44 UTC).
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  181. Banner Health experts warn against self-medicating to prevent or treat COVID-19 (March 23, 2020) Banner Health.
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  206. Hydroxychloroquine, a drug promoted by Trump, failed to prevent healthy people from getting covid-19 in trial: The University of Minnesota enrolled health-care workers and others exposed to the disease in the first randomized prevention study of the drug by Laurie McGinley & Ariana Eunjung Cha (June 3, 2020 at 12:05 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
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  208. Trump suggested studying injections of disinfectant to treat coronavirus, then said he was being sarcastic. Here's video and a transcript. by Deb Reichmann et al. (Apr 24, 2020 | 8:34 PM) AP via Chicago Tribune.
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  256. "Texas Politician Suggests Grandma and Grandpa Should Be Willing to Die to Protect Wall Street" by Sanford Nowlin, Guardian, 2020 Mar 24
  257. The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged: From the Oval Office to the CDC, political and institutional failures cascaded through the system and opportunities to mitigate the pandemic were lost. by Yasmeen Abutaleb et al. (April 4, 2020) The Washington Post.
  258. States with Republican Governors Delayed Action on Social Distancing Measures, Study Finds by James Walker (3/31/20 at 3:56 AM EDT) Newsweek.
  259. 259.0 259.1 259.2 259.3 The government has spent decades studying what a life is worth. It hasn't made a difference in the covid-19 crisis. The U.S. government often studies the trade-off between cost and safety. But the White House has failed to release any analysis of the pandemic, which could offer clues to what's ahead. by Todd C. Frankel (May 23, 2020 at 3:29 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
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  262. Far-Right Trump Fan Bill Mitchell May Have Just Duped Followers Out Of $14,000 by Amy Russo (08/13/2019 05:14 pm ET) HuffPost.
  263. We lost 6,000,000 people during the Holocaust. Did we shut down our economy then? Of course not. This is pure insanity. by @michellvii (7:39 PM • 4/5/20) Twitter (as caught by Yale Law Professor Scott Shapiro (archived from 6 Apr 2020 06:55:49 UTC).
  264. "Protesting for the Freedom to Catch the Coronavirus" by Charlie Warzel, New York Times, 2020 April 19
  265. "Fox News host defended anti-lockdown protesters carrying Confederate flags and falsely accused Michigan's governor of calling them Nazis" by Eliza Relman, Business Insider, 2020 Apr 16
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  268. "Conservatives Fuel Protests Against Coronavirus Lockdowns" by Manny Fernandez, New York Times, 2020 April 18
  269. "Trump's Tea Party: Are right-wing "open the country" protests an AstroTurf operation?" by Sophia Tesfaye, Salon, 2020 April 16
  270. "Who's Behind the Reopen Domain Surge?" by Brian Krebs, KrebsOnSecurity, 2020 April 20
  271. The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping. by Isaac Stanley-Becker &Tony Romm (April 22, 2020 at 3:00 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
  272. "This Is How A Group Linked To Betsy DeVos Is Organizing Protests To End Social Distancing, Now With Trump's Support" by Salvador Hernandez, BuzzFeed.News, 2020 April 17
  273. "'It's going to backfire': Fauci says anti-quarantine protesters could prolong shutdown" by Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, 2020 Apr 20
  274. NBC News / Wall Street Journal Survey, Hart Research Associates, April 13-15 2020
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  277. "After her colleagues dismissed the pandemic, ‘Fox & Friends’ weekend co-host contracts the coronavirus" by Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, 2020 April 9
  278. "New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic" by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, 2020 June 25
  279. "Elon Musk and Grimes welcome a baby boy" by Alaa Elassar, 2020 May 5, CNN
  280. "Elon Musk said he isn't the 'biggest fan' of Warren Buffett. The billionaires have butted heads before." by Theron Mohamed, Business Insider, 2020 May 11
  281. "Coronavirus has Elon Musk acting like just another used car salesman" by Julia Carrie Wong, Guardian, 2020 May 1
  282. "Elon Musk claimed Tesla stock was priced 'too high,' causing shares to fall and shareholders to react. It's the latest in a string of controversial comments from the Tesla CEO over the past 2 months." by Avery Hartmans and Paige Leskin, Business Insider, 2020 May 1
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  284. It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM. First sports, then schools and finally commercial businesses. Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out. by SheriffClarke (3:31 PM - 15 Mar 2020) Twitter (16 Mar 2020 02:22:10 UTC).
  285. DR OZ: "Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but … that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider." by Aaron Rupar (8:25 AM - 16 Apr 2020) Twitter (archived from 16 Apr 2020 20:46:55 UTC).
  286. Dr. Oz, Fox’s all-purpose coronavirus pundit, apologizes for pushing the ‘trade-off’ of reopening schools by Paul Farhi & Elahe Izadi (April 16, 2020 at 5:02 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
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  288. "Teachers Are Writing Their Wills" by Gretty Garcia, The Cut, New York magazine, 2020 July 20
  289. "The shift of the coronavirus to primarily red states is complete — but it’s not that simple" by Philip Bump, Washington Post, 2020 June 24
  290. "Florida Teachers Sue To Block School Coronavirus Reopening Mandate" by Greg Allen, NPR, 2020 July 20
  291. "Back To School: Teachers Are Ready To Quit Rather Than Put Their Lives At Risk" by Caroline O'Donovan, Buzzfeed News, 2020 July 16
  292. "Coronavirus concerns nudge some teachers toward classroom exits" by Kantele Franko, Associated Press, 2020 July 21
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  294. "Sen. Kennedy: Those Using Kids As Political Pawns To Close Schools Can "Kiss My Ass" by Ian Schwartz, RealClearPolitics, 2020 July 13
  295. "White House: ‘Science Should Not Stand in the Way’ of School Openings" by Peter Wade, Rolling Stone, 2020 July 16
  296. "As Schools Open, Coronavirus Outbreaks Follow" by Adam K. Raymond, New York magazine, 2020 Aug 7
  297. "5 photos from schools that have reopened show a disaster in the making" by Taylor Borden, Business Insider, 2020 Aug 11
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  300. "Georgia school reverses suspension of teen who shared viral photo of hallway packed with students" by Lateshia Beachum, Washington Post, 2020 August 7
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  303. "Colleges Closing: University Outbreaks and Parental Angst" by Amelia Nierenberg and Adam Pasick, New York Times, 2020 Aug 19
  304. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, Trump’s Close Ally, Dangerously Downplays the Coronavirus Risk by Jon Lee Anderson (April 1, 2020) The New Yorker.
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  313. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/29/so-what-bolsonaro-shrugs-off-brazil-rising-coronavirus-death-toll 'So what?': Bolsonaro shrugs off Brazil's rising coronavirus death toll] by Tom Phillips, Guardian, 2020 Apr 29
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  315. "Brazilian President Bolsonaro's son suspended from Twitch after coronavirus denial: 'What pandemic? This is a media invention'" by Rachel E. Greenspan, Insider, 2020 May 4
  316. "Brazil Must Be Open With Its Coronavirus Data, Supreme Court Justice Rules" by Colin Dwyer, NPR, 2020 June 9
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  319. [https://www.businessinsider.com/brazil-deletes-months-death-data-covid-tracker-bolsonaro-accused-manipulation-2020-6 "Brazil wiped months of data from its official COVID-19 tracker, the latest attempt by Jair Bolsonaro to play down the crisis" by Bill Bostock, Business Insider, 2020 Jun 7
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  326. "A virus that hits all faiths tests religion’s tie to science" By Elana Schor and Marian Fam, AP, 2020 Apr 15
  327. Cellphone data shows coronavirus kept churchgoers at home in every state on Easter by Sarah Pulliam Bailey et al. (April 17 at 6:16 PM) The Washington Post.
  328. "Brazil's Bolsonaro turns to prayer in coronavirus crisis" by Lisandra Paraguassu, Reuters, 2020 April 3
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  330. "Special Report: Five days of worship that set a virus time bomb in France" by Tangi Salaun, Reuters, 2020 March 30
  331. "Nearly 3 dozen who attended Arkansas church event test positive for coronavirus" by Janelle Griffith, NBC News, 2020 March 26
  332. ["CDC tracks cluster of coronavirus cases in rural Arkansas to church, raising alarm on religious gatherings"] by William Feuer, CNBC, 2020 May 19
  333. "One German church service resulted in more than 100 coronavirus infections" by Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, 2020 May 24
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  335. Seoul city seeks murder charges against sect founder over virus AFP March 2, 2020
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  337. "Israel health minister under fire over ultra-Orthodox COVID-19 crisis" by Ben Simon, AFP, 2020 April 8
  338. "Calls to seal off ultra-Orthodox areas add to Israel's virus tensions" by Oliver Holmes and Quique Kierszenbaum, Guardian, 2020 April 6
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  340. https://www.jta.org/2020/04/07/israel/israels-health-minister-has-the-coronavirus-hes-also-under-fire-for-allegedly-defying-his-own-departments-orders "Israel’s health minister has the coronavirus. He’s also under fire for allegedly defying his own department’s orders."] by Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency, 2020 April 7
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  348. "Florida Pastor Arrested After Defying Virus Orders" by Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, 2020 March 30
  349. "Preaching conspiracies: Coronavirus puts Tampa pastor’s beliefs into mainstream spotlight" by Tony Marrero, Tampabay.com, 2020 April 16
  350. "Florida megachurch pastor says he's closing church due to 'tyrannical government'" by Kaelan Deese, The Hill, 2020 April 02
  351. "Second pastor charged with violating public orders says church doors will still be open on Sunday" br Daniel Burke, CNN, 2020 April 1
  352. [https://www.tmz.com/2020/04/08/louisiana-pastor-tony-spell-arrested-coronavirus-worshipers-sacrifice-god/ "If Parishioners Die After Contracting COVID-19 ... IT'S A SACRIFICE FOR GOD AND FREEDOM!!!"] by TMZ, April 8 2020
  353. "Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness, but pastor says it's a lie" by David J. Mitchell, The Advocate, 2020 April 16
  354. "Arrest warrant issued for defiant Louisiana pastor" by WAFB Staff, WAFB 9, 2020 April 20
  355. "Falwell Focuses on Critics as Coronavirus Cases Near His University Grow" by Elizabeth Williamson, New York Times, 2020 April 16
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  357. "Two Liberty University employees test positive for coronavirus" by Richard Chumney, News and Advance, 2020 April 16
  358. "Pastor Who Defied Social Distancing Dies After Contracting Covid-19, Church Says" by Neil Vigdor, New York Times, April 14 2020
  359. "Bishop who defied lockdown to hold sermons is killed by coronavirus" by Jimmy McCloskey, Metro UK, 2020 Apr 14
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  364. 'Hero who told the truth': Chinese rage over coronavirus death of whistleblower doctor" by Verna Yu, Guardian, 2020 February 7
  365. "Obituary: Li Wenliang" by The Economist, 2020 February 13 edition
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  368. "How the Coronavirus Revealed Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw" by Zeynep Tufecki, The Atlantic, 2020 February 22
  369. "Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine" by Li Yuan, New York Times, 2020 February 27
  370. Trump team failed to follow NSC's pandemic playbook: The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration. by Dan Diamond and Nahal Toosi (03/25/2020 08:00 PM EDT) Politico.
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  372. We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook… that they ignored And an office called the Pandemic Preparedness Office… that they abolished. And a global monitoring system called PREDICT … that they cut by 75% by Ronald Klain (6:12 PM - 11 May 2020) Twitter (archived from 12 May 2020 13:41:13 UTC).
  373. McConnell’s claim that Obama left behind no ‘game plan’ for the coronavirus outbreak by Glenn Kessler (May 14, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
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  383. Courtney Kube and Mosheh Gains, Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier. NBC News, April 3, 2020
  384. "Trump Again Casts Doubt On Fauci As COVID-19 Cases Surge" by Barbara Sprunt, Tamara Keith, Franco Orodnez, and Alana Wise, NPR, 2020 July 13
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  386. "As Florida coronavirus cases spike, Ron DeSantis says mask requirement won’t work" by Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times, 2020 June 26
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  388. "Coronavirus and cover-up: Egypt's two-fronted war", Amr Khalifa, Middle East Eye, March 29, 2020
  389. "With a curfew and unreliable virus toll, Egypt faces a cruel Ramadan", Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, March 29, 2020
  390. "El Salvador’s president is using covid-19 as an excuse to abuse his power" by the Washington Post Editorial Board, 2020 May 1
  391. "Authoritarian leaders are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to lock up dissenters and grab power, human rights experts warn" by Cristina Maza, Business Insider, 2020 Apr 9
  392. How coronavirus helps Putin by Alec Luhn, Politico, 2020 March 18
  393. "For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power" by Selam Gebrekidan, New York Times, 2020 March 30
  394. "Would-be autocrats are using covid-19 as an excuse to grab more power", The Economist, 2020 April 23
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  397. "Ugandan police accused of abusing lockdown laws after LGBT arrests" by Jason Burke, 2020 Apr 1, The Guardian
  398. "The coronavirus brings new and awful repression for Uighurs in China" by Josh Rogin, Washington Post, 2020 February 26
  399. "India’s Hindu Nationalists Are Inciting Hate By Claiming Muslims Are Spreading Coronavirus" by David Gilbert, Vice, 2020 April 20
  400. "Trump's coronavirus order scapegoats immigrants and doesn't make us safer" by Linda Chavez and Scott Roehm, USA Today, 2020 April 28
  401. "Venezuela declares war on those infected with coronavirus" by Anataoly Kurmanaev, Isayen Herrera and Sheyla Urdanetta, The Irish Times 2020 August 19
  402. Covid-19 Forces 100,000 Venezuelan Migrants Back to Broken Country by John Otis, The Wall Street Journal 2020 August 30