Like all plagues, Covid19 is a problem everywhere, for everyone.
But like most plagues, you need hosts for a plague to spread – and cities are to viruses what a Super Walmart is to humans; vast collections of everything they need to survive.
Plagues don’t care about their victims’ politics – but cities are stuffed full of people for whom politics matters an awful lot. And so most cities are simultaneously a) blue, and b) suffering disproportionally from the Covid plague.
And it’s hard to escape the fact – as, indeed, not a few blue-city dwellers are realizing – that high density and a transit-centered lifestyle make cities susceptible to epidemics.
But you just can’t tell the “evidence based, science-centered” crowd the utterly obvious without expecting a political retort.
I’ve been seeing stories, here and there, for a few weeks now: “JUST YOU WAIT! RED STATES ARE EVEN MOOOOOORE VULNERABLE! THEY’RE OLD AND FAT AND GO TO CHURCH AND THINK HOPES AND TEH PRAYERS ARE A SOLUTION!”
And yeah, Covid’s been filtering out into the square states; people are dying in Montana and North Dakota and other sparsely populated places. But in a sparsely populated area, not full of five-floor apartments and filthy buses and bars full of people jammed into each other’s laps, the death rate – probably the only rate we can trust, since the numbers are relatively hard – is trailing the big, blue cities by quite a bit so far.
(The concomitant effect, in the long term? In a phenomenon first noticed during the CIvil War, soldiers from urban areas tended to be less susceptible to the diseases that ravaged the Union winter camps, the cholera and typhus and other bugs that killed many more soldiers than bullets or artillery, than their rural comrades; the New York and Massachusetts units had developed at least some herd immunity. Expect a certain amount of that in the next year and a half or so).
But I’ve been expecting this phenomenon – let’s call it “Blue Fragility” – ever since New York City started getting hammered with the virus; blue-checks from the blue states trying to transfer some of the ugly to the red states:
The MSM have been in full-court press mode for the last two weeks in accusing President Trump, Fox News, and conservative media outlets of downplaying the Wuhan coronavirus until it was too late to contain it.
But another related talking point has emerged in recent days which involves the press relentlessly bashing red states for their allegedly slow response in comparison to blue states. In a nutshell, the reason they have supposedly been slower to put restrictions in place is that they are taking their cues from Trump, Fox, and Rush.
Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei is a notable example of a media figure who employed this strategy, and he did so in an interview last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Here’s what he said:
What you’re seeing here, and this is a bigger problem for society, is information inequality,’ VandeHei said. ‘Like, why (did) Desantis do what he did? Why did Georgia wait so long? They were listening to President Trump. They were watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh. The information was there. In the information bubble, they were basically getting a lot of sort of noise and news pollution.
Not every blue-state talking head, of course:
Polling guru Nate Silver even took issue with those who were pitting red states against blue states when talking about response times:
People sure like to post things about how there are huge disparities between red states and blue states in social distancing… when if you look a the actual numbers the differences aren’t actually that big and may largely be explained by other variables (e.g. urbanization).
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 4, 2020
It’s almost like people who live in an area with 1/100th the population density may be able to get by with less strict measures.
— binge tweeter (@binge_tweeter) April 4, 2020
If what the government is saying is correct, the country still has several more weeks to go before the worst of this is over. So it remains to be seen where the next hot spots will be after New York City has reached its peak. In the meantime, instead of disproportionately attacking red states, the mainstream media should do the following things: