How Conservative Media has Covered the Coronavirus

A recent piece by Jeremy W. Peters in The New York Times looks at how conservative media has covered the outbreak of the coronavirus. According to Peters, there have been four stages of coverage, beginning with a persistent need to blame China, and a suggestion that the disease was made in a lab as a weapon. Following that, a trend began where many outlets in conservative media played down the risks of infection. “Flight attendant working L.A.X. tests positive. Oh, my God, 58 cases! Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” radio talkshow host Rush Limbaugh joked to listeners in late February. The next step involved sharing stories of those who had the virus and lived, followed by the current stage: blaming Democrats. “By the middle of March, the story of the virus on the right was one of how Mr. Trump’s enemies had weaponized ‘the flu’ and preyed on the insecurities of an emasculated America. Mr. Limbaugh blamed ‘wimp politics — which is liberalism,’” Peters writes. He also notes a perspective from Breitbart editor Joel Pollak that the virus spread while Democratic lawmakers were focused on impeaching President Donald Trump. PRRI’s latest survey shows that President Trump currently holds a higher favorability among Republicans than he has in the last year. Nearly nine in ten (89%) of Republicans hold a favorable opinion. Earlier data indicates that 19% of the country uses Fox News as the primary news source. 

Despite Stay-at-Home Order, You Can Still Attend Church in Florida 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis willallow church congregations to continue to gather when the state’s stay-at-home order goes into action. DeSantis’ decision comes days after a Tampa megachurch pastor was arrested for encouraging his congregants to come to mass. Rev. Rodney Howard Brown was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a health emergency order after holding mass on Sunday. At the time, the reverend was in violation of a local order from Hillsborough County officials to not hold mass gatherings. Attorney Jeffrey Swartz, a local law professor in Hillsborough County, explains the legal ratifications to ABC Action News. “There is a serious issue as to whether the governor can supersede a lawful order issued by a local government that is an emergency order or public health order,” Swartz explains. “I’m not sure he has the authority to do that. I think he is trying to assert that authority, but I don’t think it exists.” PRRI data shows that 28% of Floridians attend church once a week or more, while 8% say they attend church more than once a week. 

Small Georgia Town Becomes Hotspot for Coronavirus

In Albany, Georgia, where the city population is75,249, two funerals held at the same place in late February and early March appear to have set off a domino effect of coronavirus infections that has caused nearly 500 people in the city to get sick. The sequence of events illustrates how quickly coronavirus can spread, and how important it is to social distance. CNN reports that of the 490 confirmed coronavirus cases in the town, 29 people have died. “It took one person, whoever that was, and there was no intent,” Scott Steiner chief executive officer of Phoebe Putney Health System tells CNN. “It shows this virus can quickly spread.” Some of those infected did not attend the funerals but did attend other services at the Martin Luther King Memorial Chapel. The situation has become serious enough that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has sent the state National Guard to Albany’s largest hospital. State Rep. CaMia Hopson (D) puts the scale of the infection into perspective. “We are not New York, but we are still impacted,” she says. A recent PRRI survey finds that 45% of Americans in the South say they would avoid social gatherings. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Personally Delivers 50,000 Masks to California Hospitals

At the time of a California state budget surplus in 2006, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger initiated a $200 million emergency preparedness effort to stockpile supplies in case the state ever had to deal with a pandemic. Fourteen years later, as California sees its number of coronavirus cases rise everyday, they are doing so without the supplies readied in 2006. When the state faced a massive deficit in 2011 however, former Gov. Jerry Brown pulled the funding for the initiative. Schwarzenegger, for his part, has used his large social media following to raise awareness on social distancing amid the spread of coronavirus. Each day, he posts videos to his social media pages reminding people to stay indoors or offering quick tips on how to stay healthy. According to Politico, the former governor stepped outside this week to hand deliver 50,000 masks to California hospitals. The masks were procured via a GoFundMe set up by Schwarzenegger, which has raised nearly $6 million.