Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who questioned the validity of Dr. Deborah Birx advising Americans to stay out of grocery stores and pharmacies for two weeks.
I’ve experienced higher than usual traffic on my weekend post about Birx, with a number of skeptical queries on search engines leading people to my headline: “Did Dr. Birx really tell people not to shop for food or go to drug stores?”
I argued in that post that it appeared to be more a case of mangled grammar and reportorial overreach than a true upgrade in the disaster declaration. Drudge led with “Birx Warns Do Not Go To Grocery Stores,” but it seemed to me that Birx was just advising the usual precautions.
Well, at Monday’s Coronavirus Task Force meeting, a reporter asked Birx to clarify what she intended by her earlier statement.
“A question that comes from a radio colleague of mine, Tamara Keith [of NPR]. On Saturday it sounded like you said that for the next week people in high risk areas should not even go to the market or drug store. Is that what you meant to say or is that accurate?”
Birx seemed to have expected the question. She didn’t exactly deny that it was accurate, but she sure walked back the media’s interpretation of the statement as something new and scary.
“You know, out of respect for every single health-care worker that’s on the front line … out of respect for them we Americans should be doing everything possible, and what I meant was ‘If you can consolidate, if you can send one person, the entire family doesn’t need to go out on these occasions. … This is a highly transmittable virus. … We want every American to know what they’ve been doing is making a real difference, but we need to have solidarity of commitment from everyone. … So maybe once every two week you can do a grocery store and pharmacy shop for the entire family. We have to do everything we can.”
In other words, I was right that Birx’s earlier comment was not a “call to alarm,” but just a continuation of the task force’s long-standing policy of encouraging social distancing and common sense. The key words in the statement Monday were “what I meant was.” That is her polite way of saying that the media was fear-mongering in their weekend reports that Birx was warning against shopping for essential food and drugs.
If she were Donald Trump, she would have blasted Drudge and other media outlets for promoting “Fake News,” but Birx is old-school polite and she didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.
Still, I’m glad the “clarification” got out there. Of course, most of the corrupt media won’t report it. Situation normal.
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