Remember the reasoning questions in our grade school achievement tests? The ones that asked things like: Which statement below doesn't fit with the others?
1) More than 700 employees — 58% of the workforce — at the Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, last week tested positive for the highly contagious COVID-19, according Iowa public health officials.
2) New modeling research from Columbia University shows that even a small increase in the contact rate among individuals will lead to a rebound in the spread of COVID-19 and an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. "These findings indicate that most states are not well-positioned to reopen their economies and simultaneously control the spread of COVID-19 infections," researchers concluded.
3) Real novel coronavirus cases are not flattening but in fact are still growing — to the tune of 20,000 to 25,000 a day (and more than 2,400 deaths). Nationwide, the tally is well over 1.2 million, and in a new hotspot — neighboring Gainesville, Georgia, population 41,464 — new cases increased exponentially each week during April. In the week of March 29, Hall County, where Gainesville is located, recorded 86 new cases, or 12 a day. The daily average increased to 22 the following week, then 47, then 61 and then 95 — more than a seven-fold increase in five weeks.
4) President Donald Trump wants the whole country to reopen and half of the country's governors are onboard — especially the Republican governors of Georgia and Tennessee. What's more, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were considering disbanding the White House coronavirus task force because of what Trump calls "the tremendous progress we've made as a country." (So far, however, the task force remains in place indefinitely.)
If you chose No. 4 as the statement that doesn't fit with the rest — from a reasoned point of view — you are not alone.
Polling indicates that despite our economic turmoil, most Americans are still a long way from ready for a rapid reboot of society. About 82% told a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll that they would not go to a movie theater, 78% said they would be uneasy dining at a sit-down restaurant and 67% said they would be uncomfortable in a clothing store. Just over half, 56%, say they are comfortable making a trip to the grocery store — something many have continued doing out of necessity.
The Post poll also found people in states with looser restrictions — like Tennessee and Georgia — reported similar levels of discomfort to those in states with stricter rules.
Against that backdrop, a former top vaccine official removed from his post last month has filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he was reassigned to a lesser job because he tried to "prioritize science and safety over political expediency." He had raised health concerns about drugs repeatedly touted by Trump and other administration officials — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
A Veterans Affairs study has since found that COVID-19 patients treated with the drugs were more likely to die than those who were not, and three days later the FDA warned that doctors should not use the drugs to treat virus patients outside a hospital or clinical trial because of reports of "serious heart rhythm problems."
It doesn't take a rocket scientists' reasoning ability to understand the disconnect America faces right now.
We are afflicted with a president who will not listen to scientists, physicians or public health experts, but instead is driven by donors, campaign pollsters, Fox News pundits and his own narcissistic arrogance.
And we have an administration and a lot of Republican governors who are either snowed by him or too cowed by him to do anything more than tow his almost always flawed, even false, line of logic.
Thus we watch as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp throws open the doors of the Peach State's restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons — everything. And when the numbers haven't backed up that "reopen all" reasoning, the Kemp administration in recent days began to manipulate the way it reports cases, according to Atlanta Journal Constitution.
In late April, the Georgia Department of Public Health rolled out a new data dashboard that added bar and pie charts, but deleted important information — like a daily count of completed tests, an accountability measure designed to help the public to determine if Georgia is meeting a key criteria for reopening.
Also gone was the county-by-county list of reported deaths by gender and age. Some figures are written in such small type that they are no longer legible. Much is now published in a format that makes it difficult for researchers to use.
What's more, the numbers may not mean what we think they do, according to the AJC. The new "hospitalizations" metric is not the number of people currently hospitalized for the novel coronavirus, it's the number of Georgians who happened to be hospitalized when they were tested. Those hospitalized after they tested positive aren't included. This helps determine if the state has enough hospital beds how exactly?
Here's another reasoning quiz: Complete this statement: I can get comfortable with reopening and returning to work when
1) The governor joins with 100 Gainesville residents to attend a four-hour movie theater presentation of Gone With The Wind.
2) I can look at the data and see for myself that not only does it makes sense, it also shows a flattened curve.