EDITORIAL: The pandemic is deadly, and so, too, are the lies spread about it


The lives of thousands or more in Colorado are in danger not only by the spread of the new coronavirus, but by the deliberate spread of deadly disinformation and lies.

Since the beginning of the pandemic crisis, federal health officials and the Trump administration have mishandled the emergency. The biggest misstep early on was for health officials to wrongly tell Americans to disregard wearing masks. Clearly, the intent was to preserve commercial masks for first-responders, but they also had an erroneous understanding of the critical benefit masks have in preventing the spread of the virus.

But the biggest mistake has been for Trump and his administration to not only fail to push back against dangerous fallacies and disinformation, but to actively participate in dispensing information to Americans that is factually and ethically bankrupt.

Telling Americans to disregard proven science and instead push for so-called “herd immunity” is tantamount to mass murder.

Those actively working to undermine a sane, scientifically proven way through the pandemic aren’t just in the Oval office, they’re your neighbors and co-workers.

Mayor Mike Coffman — who regularly promotes wearing masks and social distancing — unfortunately contracted COVID-19 last week. His infection has illustrated that no one is immune, and while masks and social distancing reduce risk, they don’t preclude it. Sentinel Colorado stories about Coffman’s infection, which he says has fortunately resulted in relatively minor symptoms, compelled a flurry of on-line comments.

“He’s already well… He said he thought he had a cold. The symptoms cleared up after two days… This has been the same story with the vast majority of the people who get this virus. Definitely not worth shutting down society and economy over,” wrote one commenter.

It prompted a rash of comments like this:

“As we can see, you get it even if you wear a mask and most have minor symptoms. Lock downs, quarantines and masks are just postponing the inevitable. The virus will do what it’s going to do. Eventually it will be controlled by herd immunity and mutating itself to a more contagious/less deadly form, like the common cold did thousands of years ago. The hypochondriacs have been unleashed in the Democrat Party and we just need to put them back into the crazy box where they used to do no harm and get back to normal.”

It doesn’t matter whether the comment is just woefully ignorant or deliberately malign. It’s dead wrong, and it’s deadly dangerous.

There isn’t a single credible scientist nor medical expert who doesn’t believe that ignoring the virus and promoting “herd immunity” through mass contamination would result in the death of millions and the collapse of the U.S. economy. It would create panic among savvy Americans who know or have seen first-hand how the new coronavirus can ravage its victims.

It would quickly overwhelm the hospital and medical systems, leaving people to die at home and in hospital parking lots. Millions of healthcare workers would quit their jobs, out of fear for their own lives or out of sheer desperation.

Because of complacency, weariness, irresponsible protest and foolish gullibility, the metro area and much of Colorado is seeing a dangerous resurgence in transmission right now.

Do not believe the science deniers and duped, rank amateurs in their pursuit of this lethal game. The virus is debilitating and deadly to many who contract it, millions. Because it has become a pandemic, it is destroying our economy and lives. The only thing that can make it worse is by allowing, or promoting, more infections.

Push back against specious lies when you see them on social media and in conversations. Demand your elected officials support proven science and back it up with public commentary and deeds.

The pandemic is not a political or partisan battle. It’s a deadly and ruthless disease that threatens our communities, our economy, our lives and our nation like few things ever have.

Demand the truth and insist everyone you know defer to it.