Can government COVID data be trusted?
For Hoosiers in every corner of the state, the response to COVID-19 has been confusing, frustrating and, for many, financially costly.
One of the most common complaints is the lack of transparency tied to the decision-making of officials at all levels of government.
As published in an Association of American Medical Colleges journal in February of last year, confusion has surrounded “whether people die ‘of’ COVID-19 or ‘with’ COVID-19.” The journal noted a case in which a man significantly ill from terminal cancer entered a hospital while also infected with COVID-19 and later died. His death was recorded as a COVID-19 death statistic.
Much of the public’s exhaustion with those who hold the levers of power comes from a lack of transparency. That is something I tacitly acknowledged when I raised concerns over COVID-19 statistics in a recent media interview.
Regular Hoosiers lose confidence in government decision-making when there are inconsistencies and a lack of transparency in data. This lack of clarity leaves many to believe government officials are making decisions based more on politics than on data.
In noting these concerns, I did not attack any elected official; I did not call into question the hard work of our medical professionals in Indiana who have been dealing with the effects of this pandemic (in fact, I praised them); and I did not question the motives of everyone who has used these statistics.
What I did do is raise a concern over how these statistics are created, compiled and, more important, how they are presented to the public.
I learned long ago that good leadership means maintaining trust—and that trust is not given but earned. One of the most successful ways to earn the trust of Hoosiers is to install a culture of transparency in the agencies one leads.
And this trust goes both ways. As leaders, we must trust and empower our fellow Hoosiers to make their own medical decisions. As I have said publicly multiple times, including in a recent media interview, whether to get a vaccine is between you and your doctor, not the political bent of elected leaders, the media or your boss at work.
Time and time again, President Biden and his leftist government bureaucrats seem more driven by politics than science in their decision-making.
The left and state officials across the nation have used the guise of the pandemic—often politicizing data—to further their control and reach into the lives of Americans. Mandates, lockdowns and school closures have all been justified by politicization of data. Many Americans are fed up with it.
As public frustration moves against the top-down control pushed by the left, they have changed how they approach COVID data. New York is changing how the state counts COVID hospitalizations to note the difference between those being hospitalized because of COVID and those being hospitalized for other reasons but testing positive for COVID while at the hospital.
Even the president’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, finally admitted to MSNBC that “if you look at the children that are hospitalized, many of them are hospitalized with COVID, as opposed to because of COVID.”
This brings me back to the questions raised about COVID data. No one is above questioning—or answering questions—especially those we have elected to represent us at any level of government. We should celebrate the drive to seek the truth.•
Rokita, a Repubican, is Indiana attorney general and a former member of the U.S. House.
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