The corporate media outlets that bashed southern, often Republican-led states during the Delta-variant surge of COVID-19 are now silent as hospitalizations are falling in the south and have risen in the north.
The total number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 4, which consists of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, is down more than 73% since Sept. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In HHS Region 3 (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia), hospitalizations surged almost 1,000% from late-July to late-September, and have hardly fallen since.
During the Delta wave, some media outlets repeatedly heaped blame on southern states for driving the surge. CNN emphasized that eight states made up half of COVID-19 hospitalizations. MSNBC wrote that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was beginning to “lose the plot.” CBS News said, “Hospitals in Southern states are pushed to the brink.”
New York now has more than double Florida’s rate of new COVID cases per 100,000.
— Abe Greenwald (@AbeGreenwald) October 18, 2021
The south did experience a harsh Delta wave. HHS Region 4 saw an increase in hospitalized patients of 955% from July 1 to Sep. 1. In HHS Region 6 (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana), the surge was over 700%. But both those regions have seen hospitalizations plummet back toward pre-Delta levels in the weeks since. (RELATED: COVID-19 Looks To Be On The Way Out, So Why Aren’t The Restrictions?)
Meanwhile, in HHS Region 3, hospitalizations jumped from 692 on July 15 to a peak of 6,572 on Sep. 19, and today they remain above 5,400. In HHS Region 1 (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut), hospitalizations jumped from 180 on July 13 to 1,330 on Sep. 16, and remain above 1,100 now. In HHS Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), hospitalizations surged from 651 on July 10 to 3,902 on Sep. 8, and only just dropped below 3,000 last week.
The media coverage for these parts of the country, which are still close to their Delta peak in hospitalizations compared to the quickly-recovering southern states, is quite different. Rather than bashing the leadership of New York or Michigan, where hospitalizations are essentially flat and still increasing, respectively, CNN writes that “As Covid cases drop in Georgia and Florida, some states with colder weather see an increase.”
MSNBC is running opinion pieces critical of Florida’s Surgeon General, with little-to-no coverage of the ongoing struggle to contain the virus in the northeast. Like CNN, ABC News is pinning the increase on the weather, not leadership, with headlines like “States with cold weather see uptick in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.”
Over the past two weeks, only four states saw a double-digit increase in COVID-19 hospitalization rate, National Review’s Jim Geraghty writes: Michigan, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Colorado. At the same time, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana all saw reductions in hospitalization rate of at least 30%. (RELATED: Biden Says First Responders, Police Who Refuse Vaccine Mandates Should Be Fired)
Still, the southern recovery is receiving less coverage than the previous surge. As for the entirety of the pandemic, the states with the highest death rates are Mississippi, New Jersey, Alabama, Louisiana, New York and Arizona, states diverse in geography, politics and climate.