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The Backstory: Coronavirus facts fight fear

I’m USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is The Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you’d like to get The Backstory in your inbox every week, sign up here.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb was blunt: “We certainly are past containment. We have to think about aggressive steps at mitigation. It’s impossible to avoid an epidemic here in the U.S.” 

The former FDA chief continued during our USA TODAY editorial board meeting Monday: “We do have the potential to limit the scope of the epidemic, but we need to be taking more aggressive steps.”

Steps like social distancing, canceling large events, remote work and continual hand washing. 

Smart.

Earlier that morning, President Donald Trump tweeted: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation…”

Dangerous.

Facts do not inflame. Facts empower. Facts fight fear.

“It’s really important that the communicators are credible, so when those changes happen, people believe them,” Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins University, told our reporters this week. “The risk of inconsistent messages is that people stop believing what they’re hearing, and that means they may do things that put themselves and others at risk.”



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