NBC ‘Confusion’ Over Red States Handling COVID Better Than Blue States


“Confounding,” “conundrum,” “confusion,” these are the words that NBC’s Today show used on Thursday to describe the good news that COVID cases were declining in certain states. The reason for them being so baffled? Cases of the virus were falling in southern states with Republican governors and spiking in northern states with Democratic governors, leading the network liberal hacks to try to explain away a trend that didn’t fit their partisan narrative.

“Why are COVID cases dropping in states that have eased restrictions, yet climbing in ones with tight restrictions still in place?,” perplexed co-host Hoda Kotb asked while teasing the upcoming report. She promised viewers: “We’ll dig into that trend that have some health experts scratching their heads.”

 

 

In another tease minutes later, Kotb promoted “an inside look at the nation’s confounding trends when it comes to the coronavirus.” Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie explained: “Yeah, we’re going to go behind the numbers and find out why there’s a surge in certain states and a decline in others, and why people in those states could be getting a false sense of security.”

Introducing the segment in the 7:30 a.m. ET half hour, co-host Craig Melvin again declared that “the trends in COVID cases across the country that have health officials really scratching their heads.” Guthrie chimed in: “Yeah, some states with stricter rules are now seeing surges and then many that were reopened right away and abandoned mask mandates are experiencing sizable drops.”

Reporting from Florida, correspondent Sam Brock remarked: “…you look at the backdrop over my shoulder, you can understand what is driving people down here to vacation and spurring fears that we would see an explosion of cases.” However, he then admitted that media doomsday predictions had been proven false: “So far it’s only been a modest uptick.” Brock added: “And from Georgia and Mississippi to Texas and Arkansas, those states with lax rules on COVID protocols have all seen double digit drops in cases.”

As the taped portion of the segment played, Brock proclaimed:

Call it a COVID conundrum. In states with the strictest measures in the country, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and much of New England, cases are on the rise. While in the south, states like Arkansas and Texas, that have reopened businesses and ripped away mask mandates, are seeing their numbers drop.

Much of the report was spent advancing theories that “might explain the apparent contradiction,” everything from suggesting southern states weren’t testing enough to discover supposed hidden COVID surges to arguing young people vacationing in those states were contracting the virus and bringing it back to their home states. Zero evidence was presented to back up any of this speculation.

The notion that Republican governors might be doing a better job responding to the pandemic and distributing vaccines than Democratic governors was not even entertained as a possible explanation for the discrepancy in case numbers.

Instead, Brock worried that the policies of state GOP leaders were being reaffirmed: “Do medical experts worry it’s emboldening those leaders who said this is a good idea to loosen restrictions?” Dr. Neil Gandhi, Regional Medical Director at Houston Methodist Hospital, warned: “We worry about if there’s a perfect storm brewing.”

If cases were declining in blue states and increasing in red states, NBC would likely be crowing, “We told you so!” Instead, with the opposite happening, the network just can’t accept that all their fearmongering about loosening lockdown restrictions might have been wrong.

NBC’s COVID puzzlement was brought to viewers by Lincoln and Dove. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a full transcript of the April 8 segment:

7:40 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: We are back, In-Depth Today at 7:40. And this morning, the trends in COVID cases across the country that have health officials really scratching their heads.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Yeah, some states with stricter rules are now seeing surges and then many that were reopened right away and abandoned mask mandates are experiencing sizable drops.

HODA KOTB: So what is going on? NBC’s Sam Brock is in Florida, he’s digging deeper a into those numbers. Sam, good morning.

SAM BROCK: Guys, good morning, you look at the backdrop over my shoulder, you can understand what is driving people down here to vacation and spurring fears that we would see an explosion of cases. So far it’s only been a modest uptick. And from Georgia and Mississippi to Texas and Arkansas, those states with lax rules on COVID protocols have all seen double digit drops in cases. We wanted to find out what’s going on behind the case count.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: “State” of Confusion; Why Have Some Areas Become Hot Spots?]

Call it a COVID conundrum. In states with the strictest measures in the country, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and much of New England, cases are on the rise. While in the south, states like Arkansas and Texas, that have reopened businesses and ripped away mask mandates, are seeing their numbers drop.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON [R-AR]: I’m announced today that the statewide mask mandate will be lifted.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT [R-TX]: People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.

BROCK: So what might explain the apparent contradiction? One theory, differences in testing rates. Alabama has experiences one of the biggest dips in reported infections, more than 50% in two weeks, but it’s also dead last in the U.S. for COVID testing. Only 56 tests per hundred thousand people. That’s a fraction of what you’ll find in places like Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York, where numbers are surging.

How much does lack of adequate testing have to do with the numbers that we’re seeing right now?

DR. AILEEN MARTY [INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY]: When you don’t test, you’re blind. And when you are not testing, you have a false sense of what the real problem is in your community.

BROCK: Another theory, COVID fatigue. In Michigan, where people are just coming out of lockdown for the first time in months, cases are up more than a 100% as demographics shift.

DR. VINEET CHOPRA [CHIEF OF HOSPITAL MEDICINE AT MICHIGAN]: What’s different in this wave is these are younger individuals between the ages of 30 and 60, the vast majority of which are not currently vaccinated.

BROCK: Texas, on the other hand, began reopening its doors months ago and just jammed 40,000 people into the Rangers ballpark, many without masks.

DR. NEIL GANDHI [REGIONAL MEDICAL DIRECTOR AT HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL]: A lot of individuals in the southern part of the U.S., and especially here in Texas, have already been exposed to the coronavirus. So many individuals already have coronavirus antibodies.

BROCK: That leads us to the risky behavior we’ve seen in places like Miami Beach, Florida. Where numbers have only increased sightly. Theory number three, that young people are acting as carriers, as doctors say they’re returning to other states, taking the virus with them.

DR. MARTY: Those are the least likely to show up for testing. And when those younger individuals infect older individuals or more vulnerable individuals, that takes time.

BROCK: Bottom line, health experts say the falling figures in the south might be giving a false sense of security.

Do medical experts worry it’s emboldening those leaders who said this is a good idea to loosen restrictions?

DR. GANDHI: We worry about if there’s a perfect storm brewing. If we remember, this virus always takes 10 to 14 to 21 days to develop. We might just be seeing the early effects of that right now.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, a lot of those southern states are also quite a bit warmer, too, so people are outside, might be a little bit safer. What about the variants? That’s got to play a role here too, Sam.

BROCK: A significant role. Michigan, for example, Savannah, has a very high prevalence of the U.K. strain. That’s also true of states like Minnesota. Both of them have seen cases skyrocket. But Savannah, there are outliers as well. In Florida, where I am, there are more documented cases of the U.K. strain here than any other state in the country by far. And yet so far, a 17% increase in the last two weeks, very small compared to some of these other states. Savannah?

GUTHRIE: Alright, Sam, thank you.



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