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The New York Times just won’t quit its dishonest COVID fearmongering

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When will our state and city officials, and supposedly objective media watchdogs, call out The New York Times for its daily, patently false “Covid-19 risk in your area” tally for New York City?

We first called attention to the Times’ blatant fear-mongering three months ago, but it’s only gotten more obnoxiously alarmist since then, even as the vaccines clearly have the virus on the run.

The Times’ hysterical, out-of-date claims of “very high risk” in the Big Apple are prominently featured every day near the top of the paper’s online home page. (It’s usually under the header “Covid-19 risk in your area.”) It persists in Orwellian-scale falsehoods despite the swelling tide of progress that’s evident to any New Yorker able to read.

The facts are these: Our daily positivity rate has fallen from nearly 9 percent in February to lows unseen since October — 2.01 percent as of May 8 and falling, as per city Department of Health data. The state found a scant 1.29 percent for the five boroughs (the city and state use different methodologies to come up with their numbers).

Confirmed new cases averaged 1,337 daily over the past 28 days, but only 704 in the past seven days, according to the city DOH — an epic improvement. Hospitalizations fell from 137 a day to 66. Confirmed deaths fell from 34 to 23.

The impact of vaccinations has been so profound, and obvious, that even snail-pace reopener Gov. Andrew Cuomo is accelerating the lifting of restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings. Broadway’s on track to reopen in September, restaurants have reopened bar service, and sports stadiums will soon be restriction-free for vaccinated attendees.

Would he do that if there were “very high Covid-19 transmission in New York City,” as the Times claims?

In fact, transmission citywide is very low and has been falling for months.

When the crucial metric known as Rt, or transmission rate, falls below 1.0, it means in plain English that viral spread is DECREASING. The current Rt is 0.79, meaning that infected people will pass the virus to 21 percent fewer uninfected people. Why is the Times allowed to get away with its two-plus-two-equals-five propaganda?

Again, the Times: “Cases have decreased over the past week but are still very high.”

Missing-context alert: Confirmed and probable new cases have decreased not merely over the past week, but since Jan. 7 — four months ago — when they peaked at 6,442. The total was down to 748 on May 6, and only a fool would bet against further decline.

“January 2021 was the worst month for [new] cases” in the city, the Times says.

Huh? How could January possibly have been worse than March and April 2020, when hospitals were overwhelmed and 800 people died in one single day? Simple: testing was sparse in the pandemic’s early phase, whereas it’s now available on almost every block.

New infections in the spring of 2020 were likely many more than during this past January — but there was no way to count them back then. In fact, case-counting didn’t even start until the tail end of March 2020.  

The Times continues to offer helpful tips to “protect yourself and others” from the city’s nonexistent “very high” transmission. Right out of the March 2020 lockdown rulebook, they include: “Indoor activities are very dangerous right now” — e.g., indoor dining, bars, gyms and movie theaters. Grocery-shopping trips should be “as short as possible” and should be avoided altogether in favor of delivery and curbside pickup.

Get real! 

Only in the past few weeks did the Times amend its draconian suggestions to state that they apply to unvaccinated people. Those who are vaccinated can follow looser CDC guidelines. Wow, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit their healthy unvaccinated children and grandchildren!

But by the time a reader gets that far, he or she will be too terrified to leave the house. Which might be the goal of a paper that’s transparently nostalgic for last year’s lockdown hell.

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