There’s no end to the way the coronavirus pandemic has been ridiculed into less than it is by what the Flagler health department’s medical director calls “covid minimizers.” The minimizers–a more polite way to say deniers–want to tell us that the pandemic is exaggerated, that the death rate is not much different than that of the flu, that delaying school and business openings is irresponsible even as Florida set daily death records several times this month and the United States has been accumulating deaths at the rate of two 9/11’s a week for six months.
We keep hearing what a good position Flagler County is in. Local boosters think fighting covid-19 is a competition, with the counties with the fewer cases somehow holding a badge of honor that entitles them to be less anxious, less restrictive, which in this pandemic is the surest way to becoming more reckless. It’s why Sun Belt states led by Florida went from boasting about their low numbers in spring to becoming the epicenter of the pandemic after Memorial Day. We learned nothing. We’re still learning nothing if the focus is on getting the numbers down so we can relax again. Our own governor, who’s punted every decision imaginable, peddles the false notion that if you’re not in South Florida, you’re relatively fine. But relative to what?
Looking at certain numbers, Flagler County does seem like it’s in good shape. In total cases per 100,000 population, Flagler has the lowest number among 67 Florida counties: 937 as of today, since the beginning of the pandemic. Great, right? But the comparison reminds me of how the U.S. military rated certain Afghan or Iraqi provinces as so much safer, relative to others, even when you couldn’t step outside without getting your rear shot off. You can always make a place look good when you’re surrounded by hellholes. But you’re just fabricating a vacuum.
Look beyond the fabrication.
That Flagler figure of 937 cases per 100,000 looks good in comparison with other counties in Florida. (All my numbers are based on the New York Times’s tallies by country, state and counties.) But if Flagler were its own country, its rate would rank worse than that of all but 18 countries in the world right now. That means Flagler’s cumulative rate is worse than Spain’s, worse than Belgium’s, worse than Russia’s and Italy’s–worse than all those European countries that months ago mostly tamed the pandemic. It’d be worse than Iran’s and Mexico’s. It’s one notch above Saudi Arabia’s and two notches above Sweden’s, the country that decided to say the hell with restrictions and take the losses.
That’s the cumulative number. If we are to look at Flagler’s rate just for the last seven days, which is actually more telling about where we are as of today (Aug. 10), we’re at 122 cases per 100,000. You can make that number look fabulous in the Florida vacuum: it’s better than the state average of 213, though we’re no longer best in the state, with 11 counties getting a better rate, including Brevard, Seminole and St. Johns. But again, if we were our own country, we’d rank 10th worst in the world, one notch below Colombia (141) and one notch above the United States average of 115–a national average that has been dismal, if you’ve not been paying attention to Fox’s and the president’s Loony Tunes.
The only reason Flagler County looks good is because the rest of Florida is a morgue, though our governor can always apply the same demented calculus and say Florida’s nearly 8,300 dead still look fabulous compared to New York’s 33,000. Flagler could always point to the low number of deaths, but that’s not true anymore either, with deaths more than doubling to 13 in the last month, not counting two out-of-county residents who died here, not counting the untold number of deaths involving people who are not seeking care out of fear of going to the hospital, not counting yet more deaths that aren’t categorized as Covid-related because the testing was never done. More of those certainties are ahead.
Yet we’re planning to reopen schools on the reckless assumption that our measuring stick is where we stand in Florida rather than where we are in the absolute, as if Florida were its own island with its own covid rules and assumptions and delusions. Well, not as if: it very much is. As is Flagler.
We’re planning to reopen city hall, we’re holding plays and parties and looking for every possible way to relax as much as possible while ridiculing stricter measures, calling selfless caution irresponsible and short-changing our health departments of the money and armies they need to fight this pandemic seriously–the one thing that could take control of this pandemic and enable a serious reopening, because that choice between health and the economy has always been a false one. It’s health and the economy. Those new staffers the health department keeps telling you about are a fraction of what it would need to contact-trace and investigate properly, as they’ve done in Europe and East Asian countries where the problem is down to localized flare-ups, not widespread outbreaks. We don’t even have a plan to systematically test students and school staffers. We just don’t have a plan, not nationally, not statewide. We react locally, haphazardly and hopefully, and make up stories about our fabulous numbers, as long as we can rely on other Florida counties’ redder zones as the standard. La Florida as its own fig leaf.
Fabrications, alternative science and endless backpatting at our local government meetings: If this is Trump Country, as some of our more delusional local politico wannabes like to see it, we’re certainly living up to it. But why settle for 10th worst Covid rate in the world? Surely with a little more collective delusion we could be Number 1.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
JOHN BUTLER says
Stop drinking the kool aid mr Tristam your such a drama queen u need a job at cnn or MSNBC get a grip all the numbers are over inflated anyone dies over 70 its automatically a the Chinese flu tagged on it so the hospital gets a check follow the money
Oh thats right no worse than the Flu. Its a hoax created by the The Liberala to gain control it will disappear its under control. Hey John wake up. Reality is right here for you to step into. . SO glad I left people like you behind.
The Voice Of Reason says
Sadly, Flagler County has no shortage of mostly Trumpers who lack the ability to wrap their brains around the point you’re trying to make Pierre. Ignorant, gullible, brainwashed or a combination of these three traits, they just don’t get it. Small minds can’t grasp the exponential realities of a pandemic. Thank you for your valiant efforts to explain this dynamic but sadly it mostly falls on deaf ears around here.
Jean Arnold says
It’s a fact, I’ve been hiding out in my hometown Annapolis for 5 wks, scared to come back to the Trumpers, deniers, and belligerent resisters, one of which yells at me when I pass on my bicycle b/c I requested he and his elderly mom allow me to distance from him when passing on a trail. I loved Palm Coast for it’s scenic beauty and people 16 yrs ago. Now I know my County Councilman Mullins and Governor are mini-Trumps who care only about ensuring his re-election by making the economy look healthy, which makes me want nothing more to do with the County or State. If anyone knows how to file a complaint about Mullins spending his time slandering his opponents and campaigning for Trump during office hours, please advise.
Trailer Bob says
Sounds like you have the Trump Virus.
You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.
I can almost feel your hate sneaking into my kitchen.
The use of terms like “mini-trumps” falls into the “childish” category.
Look at the date of birth section on your driver’s license, then try to respond accordingly.
Name calling doesn’t work.
jean albaugh says
That is what I call it, the Trump Virus, because 145,000 people would still be alive had he not so mishandled it (and still is)… says Trailer Bob (the name speaks for itself, no name-calling required), I wouldn’t come near your kitchen. You are welcome to just pass on by if you don’t agree.
The ‘diminishers’ are doing a great job, if their intent is to cull the weakest out of the American herd.
I know it won’t happen, but if EVERYBODY maintained social distancing, wore a mask properly, took hand washing seriously, we might be able to carefully open some schools by mid September. That would of course depend on the availability of rapid tests, an efficient contact tracing system and parents and kids with enough self discipline to quarantine when necessary. But no chance of that, it would impinge on our inalienable right of self destruction.
Sadly Americans are pretty much abandoned by the government, this country has regresses into a mid- 19th century mindset where anything goes, only wealth matters, people are expendable. So there’s no help in that direction.
Which means that while we wander on with this disinterested virus response, Covid – 19 will ,be with us – FOREVER..
The Voice Of Reason says
To those comparing covid to the seasonal flu, compare numbers. In 6 months since covid hit the USA, there have been 163500 deaths. From 2010 thru 2019, there have been 337000 deaths from seasonal flu. Our death rate is growing higher by percentage daily. Covid has killed half as many people in 6 months than the prior 10 years of seasonal flu combined. Trumpian math and logic should give you no comfort. Instead, you should be horrified. He has bungled the us response to covid compared to most of the rest of the world. The quote about US deaths, “it is what it is” doesn’t cut it. Trump and Desantis have to go, into the dumpster ASAP.
Excellent commentary on how really, really, really bad it is here in Flagler County.
I remember looking at the numbers in the beginning and thinking 15 Covid19 cases in our County is just too many. And now it’s mushroomed to nearly 1000!
Why can’t our citizens wake up and realize how very dangerous situation we are in?
How ridicuous and irresponsible can y’all be. A bar party with 400 patrons AND guns?
Wise men have said that when one is truly in crisis, you can see the real quality of the individual. Well, the wise men, and women, are home tending to their loved ones and hoping like heck that we all can weather this storm.
Be safe and well.
John Staub says
That is funny.
Flu season will be back soon… stay home and never leave… and stay off I-95 too.
Jean Arnold says
It’s actually 1137 cases in Flagler. Here are the real numbers. https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/d2726d6c01c4486181fec2d4373b01fa DeSantis demanded the health department downplay the virus by lying about the numbers.
We have the lowest numbers in central florida!! We have the lowest numbers in central florida!! Thankful for Flagler county residents that do what is best for them and their neighbors!!
Flagler county numbers are steadily going up. That’s what people need to be anxious about, not whether we are highest or lowest or in the middle
People should be aware. I didnt say they shouldn’t. Stating a fact.
Obviously you did not read the article.
I did read the article. I did not say that the numbers aren’t going up and did not imply that people shouldn’t be vigilant about being safe and doing what is best for them. Just stating a fact that Flagler County has some 9f the lowest numbers and I am thankful for the people that are being safe!
Don’t worry Tammy. I get your point .
It shocks me how much anger there is out there. If you don’t think we should shut the entire country down then you must be a “trumpster”!
And the media doing everything they can to cause fear is immoral.
Flagler County could have contain the virus. But they choose to allow vacation rentals to operate. The Club at Hammock Beach is at capacity loaded with tourists. The same goes for Cinnamon Beach. That calculates into the introduction of virus carrying tourist introducing into our stores.
He tried to stop it but democrats failed us once again says
If you’re really afraid of the boogie man go ahead and hide under your bed. I for one will be cautious and wash my hands regularly. Life is full of risk….driving a car, flying, countless diseases, ect ect. Once the elections are over the fear mongering will end and we can get back to life.
Christine Spano says
As a New Yorker, waiting to move to our beautiful new home in Flagler Beach, I appreciate your commentary. We lived through the worst of this pandemic, hopefully, before anyone knew that a mask could save your life. Now our infection rate is below 1%. We all wear masks inside public areas. We are slowly opening back up with outdoor dining being a new experience here that we are all enjoying and are now planning for pedestrian streets and outdoor dining to go on into the future, with or without Covid. Our economy is coming back to life because everyone wears a mask and stores have taken measures to keep workers and shoppers safe.
I warn Floridians and everyone else in this country not taking this virus seriously. When you can’t visit your loved ones, when you can’t go to their funerals, when everyone you know knows someone who passed from Covid, it is a reality that can’t be denied anymore. We didn’t know masks could save lives when New York was hit so hard.
When Florida’s numbers look safe, we’ll move. Until then, we’ll stay in New York, with Cuomo, his lectures and his leadership. Be safe.
Jean Arnold says
There should have been a national lockdown with enforcement in early March for 2.5 wks, but Trump failed us and continues to, choosing instead to place the responsibility on governors. Fla’s governor failed us and continues to by not imposing a state-wide mask mandate. Councilman Mullins defended not opening the beaches to exercisers saying we should be patient to stay safe in March but in early April did a complete about-face, claiming the virus is hype to bring down the economy and make Trump look bad. FAILURE of LEADERSHIP on all levels of government.
Stay in my with your Cuomo who is responsible for all those deaths in nursing homes. To date my has had less positive cases then Florida but over 3x the deaths. And the mask aren’t as effective as you would like to believe.. if they were why would they have to release all the prisoners. They could just make them wear nask
Lance Carroll says
Flagler County is not a country. Flagler is a county amongst 66 other counties in the State of Florida…a state amongst the other 50 states and, I think the other couple or so commonwealths. Apples squeeze into apple juice…oranges into orange juice.
It’s seems to me that this essay, Pierre,….the juice ain’t worth the squeeze. I believe that the sovereign country of Flagler County ain’t buying your cup of juice….
Pleases show the statistics of nationwide deaths, in The United States of America, in the last twelve months, compared to every year over the last decade?
In turn, subsequently, realistically, there is a serious and omniscent pandemic. Please offer the death rate of U.S. citizens as per comparison to this past twelve months to every year this past decade, individually?
Jim R says
I think I heard Desantis say
One death is a tragedy, 8000 is a statistic
Lance Carroll. Those statistics that you’re requesting are available online. I’m surprised your internet doesn’t have Google? Try the Johns Hopkins pandemic page. It has all those numbers you’re looking for.
CDC numbers for the Overall Death rate for ALL causes in the US was approximately 58,000 per weak at the beginning of the year prior to the Rona. June and beginning of July are well below that. End of July numbers and August numbers will continue to adjust up some as time goes on. Life is a risk Pierre. I know you hate hearing that. Driving is a risk. I am more likely to die or be injured because of others shitty driving habits than I am the Rona. Yes Pierre I can catch death from you while on the roads if you are not careful and drive safely. Everyone wear your damn mask, protect the vulnerable but stop the damn fear mongering.
Only Me says
If Florida followed what New York did from the get go and shut down everything a lot longer as well as the rest of the country right now everything in every state would be opened completely. And a lot less innocent people would still be a live. But DeSantis is Donalds water boy and didn’t listen to the experts but listened to Donald who said the virus was a hoax, and will just disappear.
Those that believe in Donald Trump open your eyes and admit to yourself above all Donald Trump failed out country during the biggest pademic in the history of our country. Why did he and continues to act like this virus is no big deal? Those that believe in him have pensions to live on, those that believe in him have stocks and only care that the stock market does well, it is called greed and selfisness.
Absolutely correct. Their bottom line is THEIR MONEY not the well-being of all society. As long as they have financial freedom and stick with “their club” they don’t care about the masses. Status quo is the bottom line not a pandemic!
Not completely analogous, but as a (now retired) lawyer I learned that when the facts are against you, argue the law; when the law is against you, argue the facts; and when the facts and the law are against you, POUND THE TABLE. POUND AWAY SIR!
Not to confuse anyone with actual FACTS and FACT CHECKING:
“There’s an implication here that hospitals are over-reporting their COVID patients because they have an economic advantage of doing so, [which] is really an outrageous claim,” Gerald Kominski, senior fellow at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, told us. And, he said, any suggestion that patients may be put on ventilators out of financial gain, not medical need, “is basically saying physicians are violating their Hippocratic Oath … it would be like providing heart surgery on someone who doesn’t need it.”
Robert Berenson, an institute fellow at the Urban Institute, said the notion that hospitals are profiting off the pandemic — as some of the social media posts may imply — isn’t borne out by facts, either.
Berenson said revenues appear to be down for hospitals this quarter because many have suspended elective procedures, which are key to their revenue, forcing some hospitals to cut staff. He surmised that potential instances of patients being wrongly “upcoded” — or classified as COVID-19 when they’re not — are “trivial compared to these other forces that are affecting hospital finances.”
Berenson and others we spoke with also said that hospitals have profound disincentives for “upcoding,” which can result in criminal or civil liabilities, such as being susceptible to being kicked out of the Medicare program.
All you “know it alls” out there regarding the virus and masks, etc. Remember this—–even the mildest of cases can and probably will damage your airways and lungs to some extent and may not show up for several years when breathing problems and severe asthma like symptoms may appear and it will be permanent. I would suggest that you actually google the corona virus, or covid 19 and read it for yourself and keep in mind you could inflict it on your children , spouses, parents and anyone else and every time they labor a bit to breathe they will think of you if you were the one that gave it to them because of your belief that Trump tells the truth and is the know all.
Trailer Bob says
I can’t see where we are in the top 10.
This is from CNN as of today.
Just saying…that’s all.
Richard G Sweet says
Common Sense Citizen of Palm Coast,
A Pandemic is a fast spreading uncontrollable virus which is a wide spread disease that cannot be cured by natural/normal means. As a country” we have taken this much to lightly because we feel we are immune to its cause. A cure is in the future, however, we are not there yet. Until then, we need to take every precaution to make sure we do not spread the virus during our daily lives. The CDC and Dr. Fauchi are the people who are our leaders in the fight against this enemy. My wife and I are scientists and we deeply believe science will win over this virus. Stay safe
The problem is with this outer limits analogy, Flagler is not its on country, so you’re fairly tell doesn’t fly. . Lets get real here and lay blame to this mess were it is, the overall miss handled reaction to the pandemic by Trump and his lackey DeSantis. And get ready when world Economic leaders try to push the ‘The Great World Reset’ in 2021.
Trailer Bob says
Here is a link to NPRs data. I like facts. And ofcourse I wear a mask and or face shield when in public, my wife and I stay home in the country, we think disbelievers are fools. But we also like to know the “real” facts from experts. Click below ”
Automobile deaths compared to Covid:
There were 33,654 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2018 in which 36,560 deaths occurred. This resulted in 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. While driving each of us is subject to many, many LAWS that were put in place to protect our safety.
Covid: Well over 164,000 souls lost in just over SIX MONTHS. Our FAILED trump and puppet DeSantis government has implemented extremely little in the way of any kind of safety “mandates”, and even those are NOT being enforced, and have very little in the way of any kind of penalty for behaviors that endanger us all.
Simply because there are risks in life does not mean we should mindlessly embrace even HIGHER risk behaviors and do nothing to protect our health and lives. That argument is complete nonsense!
Not doing ALL we can to protect our neighbors and ourselves by wearing a face covering, social distancing and hand washing is nothing short of selfish, lazy, politicized, despicable lunacy!
Next FOX “talking point”?
scott starr says
So, this article just blows his whole case out of the water. Sweden had 811 cases per 100,000 population and Flager’s is 935.
You just proved that the lock down’s don’t work, and he talks about science.
The rest of this article makes no sense whatsoever.
Just read these responses and it’s easy to see that we now have infected science with Political affiliation.
Here are some facts:
1. Nursing homes accounted for ~8% of the total cases but ~40% of the total deaths. Several states forced nursing homes to take new patients without testing or a period of isolation in the early stages. Dumb move.
2. The case fatality rate is dropping.
3. our government is Federalist. Basically, if there were a national “plan” the states would fight back for State Sovereignty. ( kind of like states not complying with Federal Immigration law or Marijuana laws), but since there isn’t a national plan the states are crying for help. ( again, based on politics).
4. The idea that a longer shutdown would have reduced the number of cases is just stupid. Viri don’t disappear, they attenuate. My opinion is we would have been better off sequestering hospitals, nursing homes, and making sure those at risk were safe and allow the healthy population to be exposed, we would have had a high jump in positive cases ( like now) but the immunity would be there.
For those who dismiss Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromyacin+Zn. there have been 71 studies, 42 peer reviewed. I’ve read most of them and when used Pre-Exposure, Post Exposure Prophylaxis,and Early Treatment ( 1-5 days) the results are very good. It is not 100% effective, but the statistical positive outcomes was 100% in each of the early treatments when used as Prophylaxis… ( this only means that statistically the results were better than doing nothing). Late treatment studies, the outcomes were 62% positive.
A vast majority of the studies with poor outcomes and what you heard on the news were not at all close to what the original successful protocols were. in one study they used 10X the clinically useful amount, no wonder it didn’t work and people had adverse affects. The NIH even published a study in 2005 that HCQ could be effective against SARS-COVID. Too bad they didn’t follow their own protocol when running their clinical trial this year.
Now there are other treatments, prednisone, dexamthasone which are also promising.
The point is that there is no reason why these could not be used as a first line of defense while other avenues are evaluated.
Oh, and for Remdisivir… the clinical outcome was that for those who would have lived anyway, you get out of the hospital 3 days sooner. 60% of the patients on Remdisivir experienced side effects which curiously are similar to COVID ( headaches, nausea).
So is the virus a hoax ? no, it is very transmissible.
is this an overreaction? I think so, the entire reason we were told that we had to lock down was so that ICU’s would not be overloaded. ( remember the ships, tents etc sent to NY? didn’t need them). We weren’t locked down because this virus was so terminal, rather we just didn’t have the beds. ( oh, and NY shut down 40,000 hospital beds over the last few years).
I really hope we don’t have to start choosing doctors, nurses, etc. based on political affiliation, but we may have to as Science is no longer the quest for knowledge and understanding, it’s now the tool of opposing political parties.
Far from a know-it-all but I’ve been a Chemist for pharmaceutical companies for 30 years and worked on a lot of pharmaceuticals from AZT to Habitrol to Ritalin.
Jake from statePharm says
To properly rank why are you not converting all counties in America to “countries” and listing