Back in April, CBS and NBC threw a fit because President Trump had decided to cut off U.S. tax dollars from flowing to the World Health Organization (WHO), citing their kowtowing to China. They defended the organization as critical to fighting the coronavirus. But, on Monday, the WHO announced that the virus was very rarely transmitted via asymptomatic patients. Due to what was a mystery of who was a carrier, health officials ensured governments and business sunk the global economy, destroying lives. Now that it seemed as though we did all that for nothing, CBS and NBC were nowhere to be seen.
But to their credit, ABC’s World News Tonight did cover the WHO’s new announcement thanks to correspondent and weekend anchor Tom Llamas.
“And tonight, new, important guidance from the WHO they're now saying it is rare for asymptomatic patients carrying COVID-19 to spread the deadly disease,” Llamas reported. “They say the focus should be on people showing symptoms, to quarantine them, and isolate their contacts.”
Instead of reporting on this revelation from the organization they feverishly defended from Trump, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News touted how their city, New York was finally reopening. NBC even wasted time with a segment dedicated to promoting the radical idea of defunding and abolishing police departments.
And there was no reason for NBC to skip the WHO’s announcement since their sister network, CNBC had written up a report on it.
“Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections,” wrote CNBC’s William Feuer and Noah Higgins-Dunn.
The CNBC report included an interesting quote from Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who oversees WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, suggesting global contact tracers were not seeing asymptomatic spread:
“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” she said. “They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare.”
Van Kerkhove also noted that while asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission could possibly happen, they were rare.
On top of being the only broadcast network reporter to cover the WHO’s new revelation, Llamas also covered new evidence that suggested that China was dealing with the virus as early as October of last year.
After pointing out that recently released satellite photos showed as much as a 90 percent increase in Wuhan hospital parking, Llamas noted: “Researchers say they can't prove this increased activity is due to COVID-19, but they also found internet searches in Wuhan for the terms ‘Diarrhea’ and ‘Cough’ spiking in October, two symptoms of the coronavirus.”
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
ABC’s World News Tonight
June 8, 2020
6:44:29 p.m. Eastern
DAVID MUIR: And tonight here, an investigation now revealing that the virus may have struck China months before they let on. Tonight, right here, you will see the satellite images, you’ll also see what the people of China were searching for online as early as October. Here's Tom llamas.
[Cuts to video]
TOM LLAMAS: Tonight, signs the threat from coronavirus is not over. Cases on the rise in 20 states. 1,500 new cases, a record, reported in Arizona on Friday, two weeks after reopening. Texas open for more than a month, seeing a steep increase in new patient admissions. Now, nearly 2,000 hospitalized. Deaths in this country now surpassing 110,000. Kaiser Health News and The Guardian reporting nearly 600 of the victims were U.S. health care workers.
And now, new evidence the virus may have been sweeping through Wuhan nearly three months before Chinese health officials told the world. These satellite photos show various Wuhan hospitals from October. Those red dots, cars packing the parking lots. This is Hubei Women and Children Hospital in October 2018. 393 cars. A year later, 714.
Satellite photos, mirror images, October 2018, October 2019 and you see the number of cars skyrocket.
JOHN BROWNSTEIN (Harvard Medical School/Boston’s Children’s Hospital): So, much greater and greater than any other sort of time period we had looked at.
LLAMAS: At Tongji Medical Center, 112 cars in 2018 compared to 214 a year later, a 90 percent increase.
BROWNSTEIN: More cars to a hospital, the hospital's busier. Likely because maybe something's happening in the community, an infection is growing and people have to see a doctor.
LLAMAS: Researchers say they can't prove this increased activity is due to COVID-19, but they also found internet searches in Wuhan for the terms "Diarrhea" and "Cough" spiking in October, two symptoms of the coronavirus.
ABC spoke with multiple infectious disease experts who told us there is almost always a delay in identifying and then reporting an outbreak. China has adamantly maintained they reported the outbreak in a timely fashion.
[Cuts back to live]
And tonight, new, important guidance from the WHO they're now saying it is rare for asymptomatic patients carrying COVID-19 to spread the deadly disease. They say the focus should be on people showing symptoms, to quarantine them, and isolate their contacts. David?
MUIR: Tom Llamas with us live in New York tonight. Tom, thank you.