Bill Bennett Doesn’t Think COVID-19’s A Pandemic, Not Sure If Anyone Even Has It

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Conservative pundit Bill Bennett turned up on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning and declared the coronavirus a weak-sauce excuse for shutting down the economy. He claimed COVID-19 isn't even a pandemic, which is like when Pluto was demoted from a planet to an uppity hunk of rock. It's just the piddly ass flu. That's an especially adorable talking point from the days when we could leave our houses without having to wear a Spider-Man mask.

Host Brian Kilmeade asked Bennett what we were “missing" about the coronavirus, and Bennett responded with gibberish. That almost always happens when someone too ignorant to know they're ignorant takes a “step back" on any serious issue.

BENNETT: The estimates now from the University of Washington, which is the model everybody's been going on even though it's been wrong most of the time ... Now they say 60,000 people will die. 61,000 is what we lost to the flu in 2017 - 2018 ... the flu. Now, we all regret the loss of 61,000 people, if that's what it turns out to be. I think it's gonna be less ... But if you look at those numbers and see the comparable, we're going to have fewer fatalities from this than from the flu.

If we manage to keep COVID fatalities at the currently projected 60,000, it's because of the extensive mitigation efforts we've taken. You can't dismiss the lockdowns because of the relatively low fatalities. The lockdowns are why we might have relatively low fatalities. Bennett is auditioning for the lead in a regional theatre production of Catch-22.


I don't know how often health care professionals and infectious disease experts have to tell these dummies that COVID-19 is nothing like the seasonal flu. We have vaccines and treatments for the flu, and the worst flu seasons — like 2017-2018 — don't overwhelm our health care system.

COVID's incubation period is significantly longer than the typical flu, so it's more easily transmitted from people who don't yet know they're infected. Someone with the coronavirus can infect twice as many people as someone with the flu. Can Bennett say “exponential spread"? COVID's hospitalization rate is 20 percent compared to the flu's 2 percent at worst.

BENNETT: For this, we scared the hell out of the American people.

They should be scared. Global pandemics are scary.

BENNETT: We lost 17 million jobs. We put a major dent in the economy.

It's unclear how you maintain record-high employment levels when workers and consumers are sick and dying. I haven't read The Plague since college, but I don't recall a kick-ass economy factoring into the narrative. Maybe it's just a coincidence that conservatives got bored with COVID precautions once we learned that black people were a disproportionate number of the fatalities. Please let it be a coincidence.

BENNETT: We closed down the schools. You heard Dr. Oz say we probably didn't need to do that.

Oh, well if Dr. Oz said it was safe for our nation's children to spread the corona, I don't know why we're taking marching orders from medical experts who aren't pseudoscience promoters. This man was once secretary of Education.

BENNETT: We shut down the churches and so on.

Almost three dozen people who attended an Arkansas church event later tested positive for the coronavirus — one of whom died. A Sacramento, California, church was linked to at least six dozen cases. To steal some links (yes, these words are all separate links) Rebecca already had: Infections keep getting traced back to churches, you dicks.

BENNETT: This was not and is not a pandemic.

The fuck it ain't. I don't know who Bennett thinks he is but he's not WHO. The World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic in March. A pandemic is defined as a “global outbreak" of a disease that spreads rapidly among people with no pre-existing immunity. I've no idea what Bennett thinks the coronavirus is if not a pandemic. It's definitely not a floor wax or dessert topping.

BENNETT: We do have panic and pandemonium as a result of the hype of this, and it's really unfortunate if you look at the facts.

The shriveled-up facts that Bennett exposed to us on national TV are that Americans have an infinitesimal chance of catching the virus (nope), and if you do beat the PowerBall odds and contract the virus, you have a 98 percent chance of survival. That is just banana pants. He's just making shit up like a common Trump. This rhetoric will get people killed.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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