Hoosiers deserve transparency in reporting of COVID data
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 (AAMC) 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.
A local Orlando TV affiliate found a man who died from a motorcycle crash was tested and found to also have COVID-19. His death was recorded as a COVID-19 statistic until TV coverage caused it to be reversed.
The same AAMC medical journal article quotes the chief medical officer for Indiana University Health’s South Central Region in Bloomington as saying, “It’s usually a cascade of events that lead to death — it’s not one thing,” when a person dies who has also tested positive for COVID-19.
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 is especially true if, like here, the data is so subjective in the first place. 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 importantly, how they are presented to the public. Media report after report lists numbers without any nuance or background to go with those numbers.
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, Biden and his leftist government bureaucrats seem more driven by politics than science in their decision-making.
As Attorney General, I am involved in multiple lawsuits seeking to defend the liberty of Hoosiers in the face of mandate after mandate from the Biden administration, which seems to be more about ruling over the people than defeating an ongoing pandemic.
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.
Having promised during the 2020 campaign to “shut down the virus,” Biden and the Left across the country have changed the benchmarks for success as they have clearly not shut down COVID-19.
As public frustration moves against the top-down control pushed by the Left, they have changed how they approach COVID data. Most recently, the governor of 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.
Los Angeles County hospitals reported “roughly two-thirds of patients” who tested positive at hospitals were admitted for something other than COVID. 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.” It took them nearly two years too long to admit much of the data didn’t reflect the reality of the pandemic, but the distinctions being made are crucial to how we approach it.
My criticism is not limited to the Biden administration, as Americans still demand answers about the origins of COVID-19 and how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) unleashed a deadly virus on the globe. Those in Washington have failed to deliver answers, investigate the matter, or hold the CCP accountable.
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. I hold myself to that standard and in doing so meet with Hoosiers daily as I move around the state. I know their concerns firsthand, and I will never hesitate to share them and help solve the underlying issues causing those concerns.
A hallmark of a republic is the ability to ask questions and seek answers from our government. Asking questions and raising concerns over -reported COVID-19 “statistics” is not about politics but about transparency. We should celebrate the drive to seek the truth.
Todd Rokita is Indiana’s attorney general.