Editor's note, April 30, 9:06 a.m: In his appearance on Insight, Rep. Tom McClintock made several statements related to the COVID-19 pandemic which quickly drew a response from our audience, claiming several of his statements were incorrect. The Insight staff fact-checked several of his statements. Here's what we found:
The congressman said, “It takes about 25 days from the time of infection until death in the small percentage of fatalities from this disease.”
In our fact-checking the World Health Organization recently reported that the time between symptom onset and death ranged from about 2 weeks to 8 weeks. You can read the study here.
Congressman McClintock said, “... the flu killed 80,000 Americans last year according to the CDC.” His office provided a link to an article from September 26, 2018 in StatNews.com, a Boston Globe media partner, quoting Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC about the flu. Redfield told the Associated Press:
“I’d like to see more people get vaccinated,” adding “We lost 80,000 people last year to the flu.”
The CDC has since updated those estimates. Here is the most recent data.
2017-18 influenza estimated season stats (deadliest season over the past decade):
- Total estimated U.S. deaths: 61,099
2016-17 influenza season stats:
- Total estimated U.S. deaths: 38,230
2018-19 influenza season stats:
- Total estimated U.S. deaths: 34,157
Congressman McClintock also cited a number of studies and statistics throughout the conversation including that alcohol consumption has increased by 55%.
Multiple sources we found say retail sales are up 55%, which is attributed in part to bars and restaurants being closed.
He also said he thought an April 26 TJ Rogers piece in the Wall Street Journal concluded something similar to a Tel Aviv study that there was no statistical difference in the course of the virus in places where economies were shut down.
We looked at that Wall Street Journal article. It was an opinion piece by TJ Rogers, who was the founding CEO of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation.
While the data in Rogers piece shows there is “no correlation” between shutdowns and lower death rates, it does state that in places like New York, where there is a higher population density, the shutdown possibly helped curb the spread of COVID-19 and lower deaths. The correlation coefficient for per-capita death rates vs. population density was 44% in places like New York.
TJ Rogers suggests not blindly copying New York in shutting down completely for rural areas.
On Insight Wednesday, California Rep. Tom McClintock said that he doesn’t believe COVID-19 is severe enough to justify shutting down businesses and that he’s most concerned about how stay-at-home orders are hurting the economy.
"The coronavirus is a nasty bug and it needs to be taken very seriously, but the steps that have been taken by states like California, I think, have done enormous damage,” he said.
McClintock also suggested that California and other states with orders forcing businesses to close and people to stay home based their decisions too heavily on health risks.
"The medical experts are doing their job,” he said. “Their job is to focus on the health risks. The economists are doing their job. Their job is to focus on the economic risks. Policy makers have got to balance those things, and I don't see a lot of that balance going on at the moment."
McClintock represents the 4th Congressional District in California, which is made up of six rural counties: Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Alpine, Tuolumne and El Dorado.
Congress is working right now on another coronavirus relief package on the heels of last month’s CARES Act, though the House of Representatives has canceled plans to return to Washington May 4.