A Break from Scheduled Programming

image of Christmas Star by Gerd Altmann

 In my red State, there are several blue counties. I happen to live in one of these, and our chief commissioner issued a stay-at-home order on March 25, 2020. On the same day, the county health department determined there were too few coronavirus test kits, and the intensive care is full.

On March 26, 2020, the mayor of the county seat followed suit issuing a” Stay at Home” executive order. The other nearby blue county-has a blue city in it. You may know of this city, as it is home to the world’s busiest airport and the state capitol. The mayor there issued a stay-at-home order on March 24, 2020. She also made the decision based on health officials’ warnings. They said being too close, and in constant contact with others would increase the duration and deaths in this pandemic. 

image of executive order points
Executive Order Office of the Mayor City of Atlanta

So, why the State’s governor allegedly told the press yesterday, he didn’t know asymptomatic carriers could spread the novel coronavirus is baffling. The virus, experts say, causes COVID-19. Oh, did I mention my State is also home to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Yes, the CDC and the governor are in the same State. So, for the governor to be clueless about the ways the coronavirus spreads was a bit confusing. Especially since on Saturday, March 14, 2020, the Governor signed a “public health state of emergency,” which outlined why this virus is dangerous.

Well, maybe, he wasn’t clueless. Perhaps the governor was referring to the CDC’s April 2 report regarding presymptomatic transmission when he mentioned:

Well, we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours“. 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp

In an early release, the CDC reported on the presymptomatic transmission. The report, dated April 2, 2020, indicates the newly infected person can pass on the coronavirus before they exhibit the first symptom.

Asymptomatic means the infected may never show signs of infection at any stage of the disease.

Presymptomatic means the newly infected hasn’t exhibited any signs yet. Eventually, the infected will experience symptoms. 

The CDC released the presymptomatic report within those 24-hours the governor referenced. Whether it was the slip of the tongue or ignorance, the governor still made the call to announce the state-ordered Shelter-in-Place protocol. The order is in effect beginning at 6 pm April 3 until April 13, 2020. Consequently, the latter is the same end date on the March 14 public health emergency declaration.  

So maybe what’s giving me pause, is why the news media focused their reporting on what he allegedly mentioned and NOT his action.  

Ok, I’m lying.

I know why. It’s “because – ratings.”  

Sensationalism to get high ratings is one of the many things I didn’t like about broadcast news and, I refused to play that role while reporting. I didn’t believe in destroying someone’s reputation to get ratings. Controversy and character assassination take the focus off what matters to the public.

As a news reporter, I had to fact-check my stories before broadcasting. I also had to use primary sources whenever possible. This is especially true of mainstream news media. Journalists research or at least they are supposed to find facts. Not going to other media sources for information but getting it right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Therefore, before running with that story, a conscientious reporter could’ve asked for clarification. Of course, it means taking the chance of not being first. 

Still, fast and wrong is wrong.

And wrong, in this case, meant they missed the plot twist that the Newly INFECTED can pass on the virus before they exhibit their first symptom. 

We can spread this potentially fatal virus as presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and symptomatic carriers. And this new information brings us to today’s protocol of wearing masks when in public.

So, don’t let the news media use legerdemain, on you, to fatten their bottom line. The governor’s “I didn’t know” was a titillating talking point. Still, once you fact-checked his assumption against his actions, you quickly realized his response was in direct opposition to his actions.  

Ergo the reporting wasn’t “fake,” but in their haste to get a provocative news angle, they missed an opportunity to update this still-developing story. 

So how can we, the public, get the story when news reporting goes off the rails? Well, we can focus on what is vital to our health and safety, especially when the news media wants us to look elsewhere.

  • If you’re privileged to have access to the internet – use it! You can fact-check the news gatherers. Begin with primary sources. If your state, county, and municipality are like mine, there will be an interactive government website or websites available to you.  

    -AND if your government is fancy, they will also have a government and public access television station that broadcasts local government information and community activities.

    For example, during today’s viewing of this direct unfiltered information, I learned the Secretary of State sent out absentee ballot applications. All 6.9 million eligible voters can vote in the May 19 presidential primary election by mail or in-person.   
  • If you like your news filtered, however, hyperlocal media might be for you. Hyperlocal news media outlets are popping up across the nation. With hyperlocal news, reporters disseminate government and community information generated in your town or city.
  • The two hyperlocal media groups I know of are Patch and Tapinto that deliver local news as it happens to your email inbox.

Now, back to the governor whose possible misquote landed him and his 2018 gubernatorial democratic opponent as a top trending topic on twitter Thursday into Friday.

He also held the frontpage headline of every primary news website. If I were his press secretary, I’d take the loss. His blunder turned into a big win for the State of Georgia. For a short time, we had the nation’s attention.

According to Patch News, we have more than 1000 residents hospitalized. In my county, as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020, we’ve had three reported deaths and 66 cases related to COVID-19. For our health and well-being, we’re on lockdown until after Easter Sunday. 

In today’s climate, not looking out for your interest could be a matter of life or death. Don’t let the news media or politicians play you for your attention. You have the power at your fingertips.

Be Safe, Be Well.

image of an extraterrestrialQuestion of the day. Is it just me, or have you taken an unusual interest in UFO documentaries during this stay at home period?