TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: The emergence of a new and dangerous form of coronavirus became known to the public outside China about three months ago. The first case in this country appeared on January 21. Since the middle of March, much of America has been locked down in response. We’re three weeks into the largest and most disruptive response to a national emergency in our lifetimes. Yet often you get the sense that our leaders are still feeling their way along, making up details ad hoc as they plod forward. More precisely, they’re waiting to receive those details from the professionals they’ve gathered around them for directions. Chief among the experts now crafting national policy is a 79-year-old physician from Brooklyn called Anthony Fauci. Fauci certainly has the credentials for the job. He graduated first in his class from Cornell medical school. He’s spent more than half a century practicing medicine. He’s has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. Those of us who are 50, were freshman in high school when he started there. You can’t say he’s not experienced. We’ve interviewed Dr. Fauci respectfully on this program, and we’d do it again if he came back. We hope he will. He’s an impressive person. But that doesn’t mean he’s never wrong. On the question of this pandemic, he has been repeatedly. On January 21, Fauci appeared on television to reassure the public that the Wuhan coronavirus was not worth worrying about:
GREG KELLY: Bottom line. We don’t have to worry about this one right?
FAUCI: Well obviously we have to take it seriously and follow the things the CDC an DHS are doing but this is not a major threat to the people of the United States and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.
Two days later, Chinese security forces quarantined an entire city of 11 million people. In some cases, they locked residents in their apartments from the outside. Chinese authorities were clearly panicked. But Anthony Fauci wasn’t. He assured Americans that, while they might want to reconsider immediate travel plans to Wuhan, going to the Super Bowl was absolutely fine. As it turned out, it wasn’t fine. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis now says the Super Bowl in Miami may have been a breeding ground for the spread of the virus. But Fauci kept going. On February 17, when coronavirus cases were starting to appear all over the world, he once again reassured the American public that the danger in this country was, quote, “just minuscule.” He said people ought to worry more about the quote, “real and present danger” of the annual flu.
To be clear, we’re not attacking Tony Fauci for getting it wrong on the Coronavirus. Most people did, in and out of medicine. It isn’t easy predicting which faraway problems will become imminent crises at home. Even the experts make big mistake. They’re human beings. They make human mistakes. And that’s exactly the point we ought to remember. Human beings frequently underestimate risk. They also very often overreact to risk once they identify it. We may be watching that now. Less than two months ago, Antony Fauci told us not to worry about this epidemic. Now he’s demanding that the federal government quarantine the entire country:
COOPER: Does it make sense to you that some states are still not issuing stay at home orders? Whether there should be a federally mandated directive for that or not, I guess that's more of a political question, but just scientifically, doesn't everybody have to be on the same page with this stuff?
FAUCI: Yeah. I think so, Anderson. I don't understand why that's not happening. As you said, the tension between federally mandates vs states rights is something I don’t want to get into but when you look at what’s going on, I don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.
How long should a shutdown like this last? Two days ago, Fauci suggested the country could remain under quarantine until there are no more infections of deaths. He did not suggest when that might be, if ever. Politicians followed his lead. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has shuttered his state until June 10. A source with knowledge reports that Andrew Cuomo has privately discussed locking down New York until Fall. Meanwhile, various epidemiologists are talking about putting the entire nation on a year of cycled shutdowns. Americans would be allowed back to work, then ordered home again, then back to work. Over and over again.
These are extreme measures. We can only guess at the social and economic destruction they might wreak, but it would be profound. With this much at stake, it’s important to know more about the science behind these proposed policies. What is it? It begins with sophisticated computer models, that predict where and how quickly the virus will spread. The purpose of these predictions is to quote, “flatten the curve” — in other words, to slow the spread of the pandemic over a longer period of time. If anyone gets sick at once, our healthcare system will collapse, leaving Coronavirus patients and many other sick people without care. Obviously we should work to prevent that. So how reliable have the predictions been so far? Many government policy-makers have relied on a model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the IHME. By some measures, like death rates, that model has been fairly accurate. Yesterday, for example, the model predicted 1,036 deaths nationwide. That was close. Today, it predicts about 1,200. That should be roughly accurate too.
But on other, likely more important, numbers, the predictions have terrible at best. As of yesterday, the IHME model predicted that the country would need 135,000 hospital beds, just to treat coronavirus patients. New York alone, the model predicted, would need 56,000. That was not even close. Yesterday, New York was at about 13,400 coronavirus hospitalizations. That’s not even a quarter of what the model predicted. And even that was closer that what it foresaw in other states. The model predicted Oklahoma would need a thousand hospital beds. They’re using 38. Louisiana had a forecast of 5,800 required beds. The state has had about 1,600 hospitalizations. And so on. Nationwide, just three states had more hospitalizations than the model predicted. In all three cases, they are small states with minuscule outbreaks so far.
Here’s the problem with getting these numbers so horribly wrong: They’ve driven massively disruptive government policy. Our entire national shutdown is based on the fear that Coronavirus patients would overwhelm hospitals. That mostly hasn’t happened. If the model had been accurate, would we have quarantined the country? Good quesion. But it’s too late now. More than ten million Americans have already lost their jobs. Imagine another year of this. That would be national suicide. Anthony Fauci doesn’t want to hurt America. He seems like a decent person. But Fauci is not an economist — or for that matter, someone who fears being unemployed. Like most of the people around him, he’s got bulletproof job security. He has the luxury of looking at the world through the narrow lens of his profession. He doesn’t seem to think much outside it. Watch this exchange, from NBC’s morning show yesterday:
FAUCI: I know it’s difficult. We’re having a lot of suffering and a lot of death. This is inconvenient from an economic and a personal standpoint, but we just have to do it.
Ten million Americans out of work and staring at poverty. That’s not quote “inconvenient,” as Dr. Fauci put it. It’s horrifying. It’s a far bigger disaster than the virus itself. Tony Fauci can’t see that, because he doesn’t think it’s his job to see it. But even a doctor should be able to think beyond the models. Our response to coronavirus could turn this into a far poorer country. Poor countries are unhealthy countries. People die of treatable diseases. They’re far more vulnerable to obscure viruses, like the one we are fighting now. Want to keep Americans from dying before their time? Don’t impoverish them. For all his credentials, experience and apparent decency, Dr. Fauci doesn’t seem to understand that. We should never let someone like that run the country.