Q&A of the Day – Is South Florida overreacting to the coronavirus?

Q&A of the Day – Is South Florida overreacting to the coronavirus?

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Today’s entry: Dear Mr. Mudd, I emailed you a few weeks ago about how much you over-hyped this virus. I am in the camp of opening back up as soon as possible.  

On Friday county commissioners announced they are keeping us locked down for the foreseeable future. We all know of the CEO'S that have given up all or a percentage of their compensation during the lockdown. Why don't government officials do that as well? To be in solidarity with the people they are not allowing to pay their mortgage or put food on the table. I noticed that all the commissioners still have their full salaries and benefits even though they are not allowing us ours. I say get some skin in the game! Let all the commissioners give up 50% of their salaries until we are open! Let them live with the same rules they are forcing on us! Then we will see how bad it really is!!!!

As a matter of fact,how about you do the same? It would make your position more believable if you had trouble paying your bills as well!Reopening can be done safely. It can be done cautiously. But it has to be done. 

By the way, when you didn't tinkle at the words Covid-19 I enjoyed the program very much.

Bottom Line: There's never been a moment I've enjoyed covering the coronavirus. It's awful to see what's happened to the economy and the extent to which people are struggling. If you're suffering, you have my sympathy as well. I suspect you don't really mean to wish harm on others but if it makes you feel better both my wife and I have significant income loss during this crisis along with declines in retirement and investment accounts as most people have experienced. What's interesting is the desire to impugn objective coverage and the decisions of local officials but not President Trump and Governor DeSantis for the actual policy and guidance - which has been the basis for the coverage along with decisions at the local level. 

You've framed the coverage as "hype" but it's been a careful daily depiction of what's known. Here's the current CDC guidance on the virus: 

There is currently no specific treatment for or vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

I'm not sure, especially in the earlier stages of this situation, how one could be responsibly handling this situation much differently than has been done. Without additional information should we just ignore the CDC and hope it all works out? We had a new, highly contagious virus known to be deadly and without a known treatment. Additionally, we’ve known that those with preexisting conditions were especially at risk. According to a national health care study by Avalere, 102 million Americans or 31%, have preexisting healthcare conditions. Florida is also the most at-risk state due to demographics. It’s just not reasonable to have around a third of our population in a life-threatening situation because our current situation stinks. The responsible approach is to operate with the facts in hand, adjusting as more is learned, as opposed to speculation. 

The good news is there's improving news, including the likelihood we’ve passed the peak of the impact in Florida and across the country. We also have a promising treatment option (Remdesivir), for those hardest hit by the virus, and Florida’s potentially in position to begin Phase 1 reopening within two weeks. My coverage will continue to reflect this encouraging news as I track it daily, and as always, going where the facts take us. 

Regarding local officials, we'll see where this goes. It's on my radar. We’ve seen isolated examples of overreaches by local governments across the country – though for the most part local governments are operating in a way that’s consistent with official guidance. In Florida, the only policies I’ve seen crossing the line are those resulting in the releasing of prisoners early. In Hillsborough a man was charged with murder one day after being released early from jail. Otherwise, I feel like some local officials have issued their own redundant guidelines to make it look like they’re doing something...but that’s been the extent of questionable conduct I’ve witnessed thus far. Going forward local governments will have every incentive to want to reopen as soon as possible. Given South Florida’s reliance on the travel, tourism and entertainment industries – there's every reason for them to want to get back to business in the new normal as quickly as possible. Hopefully that’s what happens.

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