Since Saturday’s Coronavirus Task Force update, the mainstream media has been drumming home the idea that Dr. Deborah Birx has told Americans not to go grocery shopping or visit the pharmacy for the next two weeks.
Well, I watched the press conference, too, and I know that if you write Birx’s words down on paper, it does look like she said not to shop for food or go to the drug store, but that’s not the way I interpreted her words.
Think about it! Why would a doctor advise people not to fill prescriptions or to buy necessary food? It makes no sense, especially as a casual answer to a reporter’s question instead of as a formal task force recommendation or presidential guideline.
I could be wrong, but I think was saying that beyond essential activities like buying food and drugs, it is time to use common sense and maximize social distancing and hygiene rules.
Here is how Birx’s words are usually presented:
‘”The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing their hands.”
When she said them, I automatically added a parenthesis where I thought she intended one. That grammatical emendation excluded grocery shopping and drugstore refills an exception to the general rule. Think of it this way, with a few slight changes:
“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to (not in regard to going to the grocery store or going to the pharmacy), but in regard to doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing their hands.”
The media often twists President Trump’s words around based on the fact that he speaks off the cuff and his statements may be subject to multiple interpretations, and I think they did the same thing here.
Consider the construction of her statement, with a “but” in the middle of it. Why would she emphasize the importance of social distancing and washing hands if she were really encouraging people not to leave their house even for the essential tasks of buying food and drugs? It just seems logical to me that her point was “This is the moment to … [be] doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing their hands,” with the part about essential shopping being parenthetical and in my opinion misinterpreted.
I had hoped for clarification from Dr. Birx, but didn’t get any on the Sunday morning talk shows. Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” brought up the quote with Dr. Anthony Fauci, but only in passing and not to question its intent. Nor did Fauci confirm the quote by repeating its advice.
Like I say, I can’t prove it, but I just find it hard to believe Birx would actually recommend that Americans be deprived of essential needs like food and drugs.
If she did say it, I’ll add her to the Fear Squad that wants to see America grind to a halt, but I know President Trump isn’t playing on that team.
What do you think?
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