Opinion: Important questions about the pandemic remain unanswered

OPINION

BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor

As the pandemic fades away, we as a society need to take an unflinching look back at what we did to combat Covid so that we don’t make the same mistakes next time.

After 9/11, we had a bipartisan commission investigate what happened. They called witnesses, collected thousands of pages of documents and wrote a report intended to instruct the government on avoiding another terrorist attack. We’ve got to do the same with the Covid crisis. Here’s a rough outline of what I think investigations on the local, state and national level should cover.

How did we miss it?

1. Why didn’t we know this virus was spreading in China before it arrived here? Did China hide information? Did the World Health Organization, which isn’t supposed to be partial to any country, help China in a coverup?

Man-made or natural?

2. Can we tell, by examining the virus, whether it was man-made or naturally occurring? If it was man-made, was it purposefully unleashed on the world or did it accidentally escape from a lab? If it was naturally-occurring, how did that happen and how can it be prevented from happening again?

The whistleblowers

3. What happened to Fang Bin, the citizen journalist in China who warned about this disease and then disappeared? And what about Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to issue the first warning about the coronavirus outbreak but was threatened and harassed by the Chinese government. He died after coming down with Covid, but questions remain about whether he contracted the disease by accident or was purposely exposed to the virus.

Borders

4. Should we have shut down our borders to people from China sooner?

A three-week lockdown

5. In March 2020, government officials — claiming they were “following the science and data” — said people needed to go into lockdown to stop the spread of the disease and not overwhelm hospitals. However, very few hospitals ever got close to being overwhelmed in March 2020. Then the three-week shutdown was expanded for months. Were these officials mistaken when they said they only needed three weeks? Or was it a test to see if people would obey their orders without a backlash?

Who advised Newsom?

6. When Gov. Gavin Newsom decided to order the lockdown, who gave him advice? When you make an important decision like this, you should have a broad array of experts in the room to debate the pros and cons. In 1962, President Kennedy had to respond to the Soviets building launch sites for nuclear missiles in Cuba. When it came time to decide how to respond, he filled the Oval Office with experts from all parts of the political spectrum, doves and hawks. Did Newsom reach out to any economists, successful business owners or experts in childhood development?

Governor’s emergency powers

7. Is it a good idea to give a governor this much power in an emergency? Should other top officials — legislators, the state attorney general, judges — have a say in such decisions?

Nursing homes

8. Newsom, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, ordered nursing homes in March 2020 to take Covid sufferers. It didn’t get as much publicity here in California, but it should be reviewed as part of this investigation. How many people died from this policy in California?

Lying to the public

9. Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted he lied about whether people should wear masks, saying he didn’t want to require them until hospitals could stockpile a supply for their employees. Is lying to the public ever the right choice? Should the government treat the people as children who can’t be told the truth?

Compare responses

10. How did California’s response compare with other states? How did the U.S. response compare with other countries? What was the most successful approach?

Presidential messaging

11. President Trump’s statements about the virus were inconsistent from day to day, to put it kindly. How should a president communicate to Americans on a day-to-day basis about an unfolding crisis like this in the future? Should the political parties have dropped the partisanship during this emergency?

Media responsibililty?

12. Did the news media try to frighten people in order to boost their own ratings? A CNN director was caught on a hidden camera by the conservative outfit Project Veritas admitting the network hyped the virus scare because “fear really drives numbers.” (By the way, he warned that the next big CNN scare story will involve the climate.)

Vaccine rollout

13. Why wasn’t the distribution of vaccines planned better? Vaccines first became available in December, and here we are in May and we’re still administering shots to people. Who screwed this up? Why didn’t we use last summer and fall to plan the distribution?

School closures

14. Was it necessary to keep the schools closed as long as they were? At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told by government leaders that “science and data” would decide all things. But when the science told us — and even Dr. Fauci told us — that schools were safe, why did it take so long to reopen them? This is a case where Palo Alto got it right, and the rest of the country ought to be asking our school leaders how they did it.

Suicides

15. How many people committed suicide or drifted into alcoholism or drug abuse because of the lockdown and the recession it caused? Could that have been prevented?

Targeting churches

16. Who decided in Santa Clara County that it was a good idea to place tougher restrictions on churches than Home Depot or Costco? That’s the analogy the U.S. Supreme Court used when it rebuked the county twice over its unusual restrictions on churches. If lockdowns are ever required again, how do we protect First Amendment rights in this county such as the freedom to worship?

Going rogue

17. Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody would frequently order new restrictions without divulging the science behind those decisions. A state law prevents the Board of Supervisors from firing a county health officer during an emergency, even if the officer goes rogue. Residents’ complaints had no influence on these restrictions, even when they violated the constitution (see above). Should the Legislature change the law that shields health officers?

How do we respond?

Going back to the first set of questions, if we suspect that a person, a company or a country intentionally unleashed the Covid virus on the world, how do we respond to that?

Do we have a trial? Where’s a neutral location for such a trial? What if the accused refuses to participate? Do we try the defendant in absentia?

What laws should apply? Who will be the jury? How do we determine damages? Can you put a price on a human life? What’s the price for the destruction of a business that was a person’s lifetime dream? What’s the price for a lost year of a young person’s life?

How do we collect damages from the perpetrator?

If a country is to blame, how do we punish those who are to blame and not harm innocent people in that country? If China is to blame, how do we prevent violence against Asians in our country?

If we do nothing, does that give a green light to those who want to do us harm?

I’m sure the local, state and federal officials who handled this crisis want to avoid an investigation because they don’t want their decisions scrutinized.

They’ll argue that this was an unpredictable and surprising virus. But they were also the ones saying last year that the critics should back off because their decisions were guided by “the science and the data.” If they were guided by “the science and the data,” how come they made so many mistakes?

We ought to demand an investigation on the local, state and federal level so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated next time.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is price@padailypost.com.

14 Comments

  1. Precisely the questions I had. We should be pushing hard to find out how this virus started, and how such an outbreak can be prevented.

  2. The Santa Clara Co. Dept. of Health (Dr. Cody) was confused about masks too. After the CDC recommended them, the County kept saying they weren’t necessary for about ~3 weeks. I’ll admit that the studies on masks are all over the place about whether they do any good, but the County ought to be able to sort through all of it and come up with a clear recommendation.

  3. Dave Price nails it again. From everything I’ve read that was snuck out of China, this was clearly something that escaped from the Level 4 facility. IF this had been a naturally occurring virus that jumped from a bat to humans, we would never have seen the incidence and level of infectiousness that we have. It takes many intermediate mediums for the virus to impact humans the way this has. Additionally, the infection rate of this virus among bats is minimal, another indicator it was “engineered”.

  4. Every year about 100,000 Americans die from the flu, sometimes as many as 250,000. The Covid death count of 600,000 is exaggerated by about 4/5ths when you take out the people who died of another cause but coincidentally tested positive for Covid. Why was it exaggerated? Trump was sailing to re-election with the economy. Dems needed to sabotage that. And with the media at their back and hard-core leftists like Dr Fauchi, the Dems pulled it off.

    • Another question — what will be the impact on the economy by borrowing so much money? We’re already seeing a jump in inflation. Shortages are predicted this summer for food, electric power and gasoline. Who caused this? Can we stop it?

      • The Biden Administration is lying to everyone. With their math errors, the plan will cost at least $700Billion more than they are telling the people. Initial estimates demonstrate that this “plan” will cost each and every family $48,000 in increased taxes. If you want to look like Venezuela, vote for this plan.

  5. Yes, Dr. Fauci was/is a consummate public-acknowledged liar. But to your question: How should a president communicate to Americans on a day-to-day basis about an unfolding crisis like this in the future? Answer: The president (and I’m writing here specifically about the former president who made a concerted effort of exposing himself to the virus as often as humanly possible) should not make it a goal that lying to the public become an acceptable daily occurrence. Trump is a dimly magnificent but loathsome example of an accomplished dedicated propagator of dishonesty who made lying a recognized high form of art within the public arena of contemporary political discourse.
    Here’s ample journalistic proof:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/11/trumps-lies-about-coronavirus/608647/

  6. I agree that we need an impartial investigation to determine the source of COVID-19. If it is determined that the virus was not naturally occurring, then investigators need to find out who was responsible. Some of the circumstantial evidence points to the United States, though not all of it.

    For three years before the pandemic, the U.S. had been locked in a trade war with China. Coincidentally, China was hit by mysterious diseases during that time — an Avian Flu virus in 2017 followed by a swine flu virus in 2018. In late 2019, COVID-19 appeared.

    The media has immediately dismissed anyone who says COVID-19 was created in a lab as a “conspiracy theorist.”

    China claims that COVID-19 is structurally close to bat viruses, and the U.S. CDC has agreed with that conclusion.

    As support, China, the U.S. and the media cite the March 17, 2020 article “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” which claims the bat’s RaTG13 sequence identity is similar to COVID-19. They say it proves COVID-19 “jumped” from animals to humans in the Wuhan Seafood Market.

    A far more likely scenario is that the native receptor binding domain within a bat coronavirus “backbone” was artificially replaced with one from a pangolin strain, the first step in creating COVID-19.

    After that, came the insertion of the furin polybasic cleavage site, which was found in COVID-19 but hasn’t been found in any bat coronaviruses relatives yet identified.

    A distinctive feature of furin polybasic is its ability to enhance pathogenicity and transmissibility in coronaviruses.

    Finally, COVID-19 is not naturally-occurring because its differential ratio of synonymous to non-synonymous substitution is vastly different compared to that which occurs in nature among bat populations as well as natural factors that would select against the presence of a furin polybasic cleavage site.

    The ability to weaponize a virus is a complex task and can only be done in a handful of military labs around the world. The U.S. has several and China has at least one in Wuhan.

    Obviously, more investigation needs to be done. Will the American public care? Or will they be distracted by the next fabricated crisis?

  7. Thank you for mentioning Fang Bin and Dr. Li Wenliang. It’s important people keep pushing the truth and learn the lesson fr9m the source of this pandemic.

  8. I think you missed the most basic question: do we know for sure Covid even exists? Where is the evidence that the whole virus was ever isolated, rather than short RNA sequences of alleged SARS-CoV-2 virus?

    The other point is the collusive-like behavior by the mainstream media and social media of ignoring or censoring any dissenting viewpoints, some by very prominent epidemiologists and scientists in this field, who question the efficacy of lockdowns, masks, social distancing, and who call out the unreliability of PCR tests with high amplification cycles and warn of the dangers of the so-called Covid “vaccines”. These people have been relegated to alternative media.

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