On Thursday, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh addressed the question of why California is not experiencing New York-like percentages of coronavirus cases and suggested that social distancing measures alone would not explain the significant disparity between the two states.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force has seemingly credited early “social distancing” for the major discrepancy between California and hard-hit New York, but Limbaugh is skeptical that a state-wide two-day head start on “social distancing” measures did the trick.

As of Friday morning, there are 215 coronavirus-associated deaths in California (population 40 million), and 2,373 in New York (population 20 million).

“I have to get something off my chest here,” Limbaugh started. “For the past three days, I, El Rushbo, have been asking why California has not had more coronavirus cases and more coronavirus deaths. There are 40 million people.”

“This is the number of COVID-19 cases per million population. And West Virginia number one, 106,” the host detailed. “There are no Chinese there to speak of. Nebraska, ditto. California, 248 cases per million population. Forty million people in California. The number of cases is statistically tiny compared to the size of that state. New York City, 4,312 cases per million population. This is cases, not deaths.”

“Now, I’ve been asking why California hasn’t had more cases given the number of Chinese that come into that state, the large number of Chinese that live there,” he continued.

California officials are crediting their head start on social distancing measures, Limbaugh said. “Okay. Well, when did they start social distancing?” he asked. “Are you ready to be a little surprised? California ordered social distancing only 13 days ago. They didn’t order social distancing in December. They didn’t order social distancing in January. California did not order social distancing in February. They ordered it 13 days ago.”

“Do you know when New York state ordered social distancing?” the conservative asked. “Eleven days ago.”

“We are supposed to believe that two days made all the difference in the number of cases between California and New York?” Limbaugh said skeptically. “California, again, 248 cases of COVID-19 per million population. New York, 4,312. California began social distancing two days before New York. De Blasio wouldn’t even shut down the schools until recently, you remember? I don’t know how two days of social distancing before New York started it, New York state started it, could have this big a difference. It just doesn’t jibe.”

Limbaugh continued: “This time of year in California is warmer than New York. Almost nobody uses public transportation in much of California, particularly compared to the population center of New York state, which is New York City. The number of people walking on the streets in Los Angeles is infinitesimally small compared to the number of people walking on the streets in New York. Los Angeles is in fact a big, gigantic suburb with a little hub of a downtown where very few people live. And yet we’re being told that two days, a two-day head start in social distancing is the difference?”

“It can’t be. There have to be other reasons,” the host emphasized. “Why won’t somebody be honest about what they are, what they possibly are?”

“Well, because we’re being governed right now by social models, which tell us that social distancing is the only thing we can do,” explained the 69-year-old. “And in order to effect social distancing, we have to shut down.”

Limbaugh, clearly unconvinced “social distancing” is the key factor in keeping the COVID-19 death toll low, posited a theory of herd immunity, suggesting the novel coronavirus has already built up significant immunity in the state:

Let me just tell you what I think it is. I’m a layman. I’m just telling you what I think. I’m not a medical guy. I’m not telling you with ontological certitude. I think it is herd immunity that took place in California in December. A lot of people had something; they didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t flu. They lived through it. They got past it. That’s what I think happened in California.

The same theory was floated by politico Victor Davis Hanson at National Review on Tuesday.

“One less-mentioned hypothesis is that California, as a front-line state, may have rather rapidly developed a greater level of herd immunity than other states, given that hints, anecdotes, and some official indications from both China and Italy that, again, the virus may well have been spreading abroad far earlier than the first recorded case in the U.S. —and likely from the coasts inward,” wrote Hanson. “So given the state’s unprecedented direct air access to China, and given its large expatriate and tourist Chinese communities, especially in its huge denser metropolitan corridors in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, it could be that what thousands of Californians experienced as an unusually ‘early’ and ‘bad’ flu season might have also reflected an early coronavirus epidemic, suggesting that many more Californians per capita than in other states may have acquired immunity to the virus.”

However, Akiko Iwasaki, a virologist at the Yale School of Medicine, is skeptical, noting that herd immunity is typically associated with vaccination. The Atlantic reported:

Herd immunity is typically generated through vaccination, and while it could arise through widespread infection, “you don’t rely on the very deadly infectious agent to create an immune population,” says Akiko Iwasaki, a virologist at the Yale School of Medicine. 

source: Dailywire, The Atlantic

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