Public affairs strategist and all-star panelist Clint Brewer joined The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Friday morning on the newsmakers line.
At the top of the second hour, Brewer and Leahy discussed Bill Gates’ recent appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper where he called for a complete shutdown to continue for an undisclosed “short period” of time. Brewer disagreed stating that this was something that would be impossible to convince people that lived in rural areas who are not being directly affected like those in major hot spots.
Leahy: We are joined by our good friend and the newest all-star panelist, public affairs strategist Clint Brewer. Good morning, Clint.
Brewer: Good morning Michael how are you?
Leahy: Well, you know I start these things off with the news and the facts of the coronavirus. And I will go through them with you Clint, and we will talk about the fact that this is increasing. So here we go.
Leahy: 85,377 cases of coronavirus as of midnight this morning. That’s six hours and six minutes ago. And an increase in 24 hours of 19,300 cases in the United States and 1,295 deaths in a 24-hour period. That’s an increase of 355. The number tested across the country is 519,000.
This Clint is an increase of 38,000. Here in Tennessee, 957 positive cases and an increase of 175. Three deaths. No increases in 24 hours. The number tested 14, 900. An increase of 3,000. Clint, what do you make of all this?
Brewer: Well everything I’m reading nationally says that testing is really the key at this point. We’ve got to get out in front of it. But the supplies aren’t there. The materials aren’t there to create the tests. There has been a test that gets the result back in 45 minutes. It’s only being reserved for the sickest people.
Until we nationally get on top of the issue of testing so that we can pro-actively separate people who test positive or show no symptoms. It’s going to continue to spread. I think you are seeing some governors do some intelligent things. The Texas governor is quarantining people flying in from New York and New Orleans.
You’re seeing in the Pacific Northwest some officials try to take some measures there to keep hot spots sealed off. And then there’s the other side of this because it’s not just the medical emergency. Its an economic emergency in states that aren’t seeing the numbers like here.
I think the attitude that our governor is taking has been very pragmatic and the data evolves day to day and hour to hour sometimes. And you want to react appropriately but not overreact. An urban area is not the same as a rural area. So I think you’re seeing people deal with it as well as they can.
Leahy: There are divergent views about this. Very divergent views which seem to follow along, for the most part, political-ideological lines. But not exactly. I’ll give you a case in point. Typically, Democratic governors and sort of left-wing icons which I’ll put Bill Gates in that category. I don’t know if you saw him on CNN last night.
Brewer: I did.
Leahy: OK. You saw him. Let’s just pause here for a moment. Because I was asleep by then but you watched it.
Brewer: I’ve read the follow-up.
Leahy: You’ve read the follow up on it?
Brewer: Yeah. I think he’s urging the more extreme measures sort of universally. I think it’s very hard to tell somebody in a rural community or county that’s not experiencing this that they need to stay in their homes. It’s just not feasible. And it’s not necessary.
Leahy: Let’s talk about Bill Gates. People look at Bill Gates. Bill is a guy who is worth 60 billion. Some number of billions. Some billions more than you or I will ever have. And he’s a genius when it comes to software and business from the late 1970s shall we say to early 2000.
He was the guy. But he’s retired from Microsoft now. And he’s spent a lot of his money on these projects that he likes. One of the projects that he loves, by the way, is anything related to Common Core in education. Which is an utter disaster.
CNN has him on and says, well this guy must know everything. I look at him and say well he’s rich, but he’s totally wrong about Common Core. On this particular issue, he wants a national shutdown until the end of May. That seems to me to be utterly impractical.
Brewer: Well if I lived where Bill Gates lived I’d probably be comfortable shutting downtown. (Leahy laughs) But the fact of the matter is here locally Michael if you look at The Tennessean’s not complicated article but I think a very good article today talking to people across the state who are restaurant managers
Leahy: What did you find in that article?
Brewer: It just kind of gets down to the reality which is a lot of folks across this country are two weeks away from being in default on their mortgages. Unable to pay their rent. The point of which I think is we have to be realistic about things that Mr. Gates is suggesting which is a nationwide lockdown in every state and every community.
We’re a nation of 327 plus million people. The entire population of Wuhan is 11 million. The province there in is only 158 million. Italy’s entire population is only 60 million. These apples to apples comparison to other cities and countries across the world are just not apples to apples. That’s the problem.
Leahy: Yeah. That’s exactly right. The problem is that I think these lines are about to cross. The line of economic disaster versus public health crisis. I think right now people are saying, “Ok great.”
Yep, there are going to be more people who are going to die of this but you cannot sacrifice the overall economic health of the country for one person. If it’s one person. The problem is that it’s just not one person. There will be deaths.
And the question is we don’t know how many. There’s already been over 1,000. Most of those deaths, however, have been people over 65 and people with underlying medical conditions. Although I note that there are some really sad exceptions.
I don’t know if you saw this Clint but yesterday there was a report confirming that a 17-year-old in New Orleans died of complications from coronavirus. We don’t know if that person had underlying medical conditions. But that is, of course, a very sad situation. That’s the first very public report of someone under 20 dying.
Brewer: Well yeah. I mean the entire thing is as tragic as can be. I think there is this false narrative out there that we’re choosing between either Wall Street fat cats or people’s lives. And really the issue is not the market or Wall Street.
The issue is the average American who needs to pay their mortgage and their rent and put food on the table or take their truck to get it fixed. The reality of the people on the ground is not the argument that’s being had in Washington, D.C. or in the nation’s major news entities about do we choose the health of the markets or do we choose people’s lives.
That’s not really the discussion. It’s really more about average Americans being able to get by and getting back to work.
Leahy: Did you watch the White House briefing from this Dr. Birx? She really seems to be very sharp. And she made many of the arguments that you’re making here. I don’t know if you watched that. She’s basically said look, all of these doomsday models are based upon assumptions which the data doesn’t quite support at this point.
Brewer: No. They don’t. And it’s not an extinction of that right? I think we’re doing the right things. I think that the drug companies and the pharmaceutical companies are moving as fast as they can. It doesn’t’ get to be a pandemic unless it somewhat sneaks up on you as a country or as a planet.
I don’t know that we should be too hard on ourselves. We do need to be quick and expeditiously and learn more about it. But we also don’t’ need to be putting people out on the street. It doesn’t do a lot of good to stay home if you don’t have a home to come back to. So, that’s the push-pull.
Leahy: You’ve got to cover the four walls right? You have to have a home. You’ve got to be able to eat. You’ve got to be able to move around in a crisis.
Listen to the full segment here:
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