Jim joined Michael for another fantastic edition of the Michael Decon Program.
Jim Fetzer is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and has published extensively in the philosophy of science. Jim has edited three books on the death of JFK which include Assassination Science, Murder in Dealey Plaza, and The Great Zapruder Film Hoax.
A narrative has taken hold since the release of Bob Woodward’s latest book that President Trump was told in late January that the coronavirus was spreading across America at pandemic rates but ignored the dire warnings of government experts.
That narrative is wrong and unfair.
The truth is that during the crucial early weeks of the pandemic, the government’s public health leaders assured Trump that the virus was not spreading in communities in the United States. They gave him bad intelligence because of two catastrophic failures: First, they relied on the flu surveillance system that failed to detect the rapid spread of covid-19; and second, they bungled the development of a diagnostic test for COVID-19 that would have shown they were wrong, barred commercial labs from developing tests, and limited tests to people who had traveled to foreign hot spots or had contact with someone with a confirmed case. As a result, according to former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb, they were “situationally blind” to the spread of the virus.
In an interview Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Gottlieb said officials at the Department of Health and Human Services “over-relied on a surveillance system that was built for flu and not for coronavirus without recognizing that it wasn’t going to be as sensitive at detecting coronavirus spread as it was for flu because the two viruses spread very differently.” Officials were looking for a spike in patients presenting with flu-like respiratory symptoms at hospitals. But there was a lag of a week or more in reporting data, and because many of those infected with the novel coronavirus didn’t develop symptoms, or did not present with respiratory illness, they were not picked up by this monitoring. As a result, officials concluded “therefore, coronavirus must not be spreading.”
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