Coronavirus: the Facts And the Balderdash
All right, everybody calm down...
[BREAKING: U.S. officials reported the first American death of coronavirus over the weekend in Washington State.]
Yes, the coronavirus is a thing. Yes, it's potentially deadly for the more vulnerable among us. And yes, for the moment, it's spreading.
Now for some perspective...
While taking appropriate cautions is always advisable, there has been some serious (and not-so-serious) misinformation spreading as well. What's worse, pandering politicians and bureaucrats have been playing fast and loose with the truth in the interest of their own agendas.
So...let's get on with some debunking (with the help of Eric Boehm of Reason.com):
1) No - the Trump administration has not defunded the CDC. Last week during the primary debate, several of the candidates accused the president of cutting the CDC's coronavirus budget, or something similar. While the president has proposed budget cuts for the organization on a number of occasions (and one can reasonably debate the merits of doing so), in fact Congress would have have to sign off on any such cutback, and so far they haven't.
2) No - Corona Beer is not connected with the virus (and most folks know that). This one has set new standards for silliness, as urban legends go. That customer survey you've been reading about does report that 38 percent of Americans wouldn't buy Corona "under any circumstances," but for most it has nothing to do with the coronavirus.
Under four percent of those people said the beer was a factor. The others say they wouldn't buy Corona "under any circumstances." (Maybe they prefer Dos Equis?)
3) No - you don't have to shave. Your facial hair does not make for a higher infection risk. That chart you've seen on social media supposedly showing the relative risks of various beard and moustache types? It's actually a guide for bearded doctors participating in a charity campaign called "No Shave November."
4) And no - there's not a shortage of medical equipment in the U.S. The president has indeed considered invoking executive powers to increase domestic manufacture of protective masks and clothing in the event of emergency. But he's doing so not due to any current shortage, but as a precautionary measure. And again, it's currently just under consideration.
In any event, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there is little evidence to suggest that any such shortage will play out.
So, everybody relax, OK? No need to panic. Relax. And wash your hands. That the best thing you can do.