Welcome to Segment 2 of the debate on "How is disinformation affecting the response to Covid-19, specifically in the United States?" This segment centered on The Role of the Government (Local, State and Federal) in the communication response.
For a refresher, our two debaters are Markus Dazkal and Val Parks.
For some brief introductions:
Markus works in the software industry as a Project Manager. He is progressive and supports political leaders who are committed to solving problems that affect peoples' lives, fully understanding that the system our founders created has checks and balances, and requires compromise and flexibility to get anything done. He has no patience for those who can only attack from the sidelines while accomplishing nothing of value themselves.
Val is a retired Corrections Officer. She works as a crossing guard part time. She wants leaders who respect Democracy and believe that justice is for all people. She believes that no person has the right to usurp the dignity of another. Conservation of our planet is of paramount importance to her.
To begin the segment, Val responded to first some general questions, followed by some more specific questions. Her responses can be found below:
General Questions to begin segment:
Moderator: How have government officials responded to Covid-19, specifically when it comes to keeping the public informed (or lack thereof)? What have they done poorly so far? What have they done well? How can they do better in the future?
Val Parks: I think it is fair to say that President Trump was handed a manure sandwich in the sense that no outcome on either side of the spectrum was going to be a positive one. The trade off is human lives or the lives affected by the economic impact of 22 million people or more facing the challenges of unemployment.
What was positive about his response? Covid- 19 briefings and the formation of the Coronavirus task force was a positive in theory, but in practice, not so much.
The Covid-19 briefings were a source of information but also used as a platform for disinformation as well. Both types of information designed to promote a positive narrative favoring the president's agenda. This is common practice by politicians in general , however it becomes troubling when disinformation affects public health.
The promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a panacea for the treatment of Covid-19 being one of the most egregious .
According to an ABC news article dated April 22 2020 , a doctor named Didier Roalt published a study which was condemned by scientists and academics for not being a double blind study and randomized a widely considered standard for clinical trials. Concerns have been raised regarding the content, the ethical approval trial and the process the paper underwent to be published. The study is now under post publication review.
Enter Gregory Rigano who self published his own article on google docs based on this particular study. According to a Huffington Post article dated 03/03/2020 Riganos own paper garnered the attention of some prominent individuals such as Elon Musk who touted the benefits of the drug on social media.
Rigano went on Fox News show with Tucker Carlson where he touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine. Rigano was introduced as a doctor who also was acting as an adviser to Stanford University School of Medicine .
Rigano as it turns out is neither.
Rigano.stated that his paper was published in consultation with University of Alabama School of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, both refute his claims.
According to an ABC article dated April 22, 2020 the biochemist Tom.Broker who was previously named as a co author had his name removed from the publication as he had nothing to do with it.
Also according to the aforementioned Huffington Post article, Stanford University School of Medicine has actively attempted to get Rigano to stop referencing them as a source stating that his claims are " unproven, overstated and potentially dangerous. ,"
The president promoted the use of the drug several times during White House Coronavirus briefings . In the April 4th briefing he stated " What do you have to lose? Take it, I really think you should take it."
What do you have to lose?
Apparently a lot. According to an AP report dated April 21, 2020, 28% of veterans who were a part of a study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs died when Hydroxychloroquine was added to routine care v/s 11% who received routine care alone. The drug also made no difference in the need for breathing machines.
Specific Question and Answer Segment
Moderator: Should Vice President Biden be addressing this issue?
Val Parks: Maybe. I actually think he will soon.
Moderator: How is the state and local government response and information been for you specifically (Val in California/ Markus in New York)?
Val Parks: California government response. We have testing for Covid locally now. I think that is a plus. I haven't attempted to get tested as of yet but I am considering it. Our local government has been in line with the governor's mandate. About one third of the population is wearing masks in stores and the majority are maintaining social distancing guidelines.
We currently have about 170 confirmed cases, the majority confirmed within the last couple of weeks which is concerning but I am hopeful.
Update: Cases have ballooned to 399 active cases. Our County is now abandoning all restrictions. My son has had exposure from a man who works at a meat processing plant in Hanford California. He is now under quarantine.
Markus participated in a video version, responding to the same questions as above. A copy of this video can be found below:
How do you think the government has done-at all its various levels-in communicating over Covid-19? How has your state officials done? How have the politicians in your community done? Do you agree or disagree with Markus and/or Val's takes? Feel free to comment!