Apoorva Mandavilli, chief Covid correspondent of the New York Times, has a history of spreading coronavirus pessimism, and in May notoriously claimed that the "lab leak" theory had racist origins.
Monday’s lead story was headlined “Shot Refusal Gives Variant Room to Grow – More Vaccinations Key to Halting New Surge.”
She quickly turned the volume knob to 11 in predicting another wave of mass death:
After an all too brief respite, the United States is again at a crossroads in the pandemic. The number of infections has ticked up -- slowly at first, then swiftly -- to 51,000 cases per day, on average, more than four times the rate a month ago. The country may again see overflowing hospitals, exhausted health care workers and thousands of needless deaths.
Then, by contrast, Mandavilli seemed awfully confident in overstating how it might have been:
The more contagious Delta variant may be getting the blame, but fueling its rise is an older, more familiar foe: vaccine hesitancy and refusal, long pervasive in the United States. Were a wider swath of the population vaccinated, there would be no resurgence -- of the Delta variant, or Alpha variant, or any other version of the coronavirus.
Public health experts have fruitlessly warned for months that the virus -- any version of it -- would resurge if the country did not vaccinate enough of the population quickly enough. Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, predicted in January that Florida might have a rough summer. Now one in five new infections nationwide is in Florida.
Florida is the paper’s standard coronavirus boogeyman, but the Associated Press on Saturday reported about Florida: “About 60% of residents 12 and older are vaccinated…equal to the national rate.”
The text box was purely political: “Falsehoods are spread by top conservatives, with a lot of help for social media.”
This passage promotes fear of new variants we don’t know much about yet, and blames conservatives for vaccine hesitancy:
But Delta is by no means the wickedest variant out there. Gamma and Lambda are waiting in the wings, and who knows what frightful versions are already flourishing undetected in the far corners of the world, perhaps even here in America….
After a brisk vaccination campaign in the spring, the pace has slowed to about 537,000 doses per day, according to data gathered by The New York Times. Some responsibility for the lag lies with the frank refusal of conservative leaders -- often Republicans -- to champion the vaccines.
Once again, in the paper’s rush to blame Republicans, it skips how President Biden’s own Centers for Disease Control literally caused vaccination appointments to be canceled in mid-April because of excessive precaution about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, based on extremely rare cases of blood clots among women. The daily vaccination rate has never recovered.
Mandavilli soft-pedaled hesitation among minority groups, blaming economic factors for failure to get a free shot in the arm.
Politics is a driver for only some of these people, noted Dr. Richard Besser, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey, where he lives, the rates vary drastically because of socioeconomic factors. In mostly white Princeton, 75 percent of adults are immunized, versus 45 percent in Trenton, just 14 miles away, which is heavily Black and Latino.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty recognized how vaccine hesitation among minority groups (which is assumed to exist based on vaccination rates in urban areas alone) doesn’t come in for the same condemnation.