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News media infecting public with hysteria

By Ray Hanania

There are things about the new strain of coronavirus that bother me. I think most of it has to do with the way we have politicized everything in our very divided and polarized American society.

I will start by blaming the biased mainstream news media. They are the main culprits. The media seems more concerned about using the coronavirus to trash President Trump than they are about the virus itself.

Yet, the media’s assault against Trump has been so different from how they treated their savior, former President Barack Obama when he had to deal with a similar health threat: the swine flu or the H1N1 virus pandemic in April 2009.

From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, there were an estimated 60.8 million cases worldwide, with 274,304 hospitalizations and as many as 151,700 to 575,400 deaths.

Nearly 90 percent of the victims were under the age of 65. An estimated 12,000 Americans died during the swine flu pandemic.

The swine flu as first identified in Mexico in March 2009 and hit the U.S. the same month. The first American diagnosed with swine flu was on April 15, 2009. Obama was reluctant to put a heavy spotlight on it because of the impact it might have on U.S. relations with Mexico. There were also several strains.

Initially, Obama offered the standard warnings, noting that the America was being hit by a lesser threatening swine flu strain. On May 2, 2009, Obama held a press conference urging the temporary closings of schools with swine flu cases. He provided $1.5 billion in emergency funding to “monitor” the virus. He urged Americans to take “the same steps” Americans would do for any other infection or flu: wash your hands, cover your mouth when coughing. He urged individuals who were sick to “stay home from work,” adding parents should keep sick kids at home.

But it wasn’t until nearly seven months later–on Oct. 22, 2009, according to the Pro-Obama website CNN, that President Obama officially declared a “national emergency.”

“The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities,” Obama said at the time.

“Thus, in recognition of the continuing progression of the pandemic, and in further preparation as a nation, we are taking additional steps to facilitate our response.”

Compare that to President Trump’s response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), which was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The Chinese didn’t publicly acknowledge the virus until Jan. 7, 2020.

The very first American COVID-19 death occurred on Jan. 19, 2020 in Snohomish County in Washington State. The victim was an American who returned to Washington on Jan. 15 following a visit to Wuhan, China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic two months later (on March 11) after 114 countries reported 118,000 infections, with 90 percent of the infections reported in four Asian countries.

That same night, President Trump publicly responded, nine weeks after the first U.S. case was identified, declaring a national emergency and detailing widespread actions to combat the virus.

In their obsession with bashing Trump, the mainstream news media has been responsible for fanning the flames of hysteria in American society today. Store shelves have been cleared of bread, cleaning products and canned foods. Hand sanitizer, which isn’t the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 infection, can’t be found.

Oddly, there is a rush on toilet paper. You can’t find it in many stores, making me wonder, what were some people doing before the pandemic? Not using toilet paper, until now?

Schools were closed statewide. Events from sporting events to St. Patrick’s Day parades were cancelled. The stock market is crashing. Businesses are closing. The travel industry is in total disarray.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be vigilant or that COVID-19 is less a concern than the swine flu.

I’m saying that the hysteria, this zombie apocalypse mentality being fueled by the news media and partisan politics, is probably doing more damage to America than the virus itself.

The media and some politicians are willing to damage this country just so they can blame that destruction on Trump.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning syndicated columnist who covered Chicago City Hall for nearly two decades “from Daley to Daley.” Read more of his columns and download his podcasts by visiting Hanania.com. You can read Ray Hanania’s online book “Midnight Flight” by visiting SuburbanChicagoland.com. Email him at [email protected])

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