Welcome to our 3rd Coronavirus Edition of the Huckabee Show, where we practice safe social distancing by keeping our theater empty and our minimal crew and team safely separated. I’m operating from my remote studio 460 miles from our theater. Like you, we are all ready to be back to normal, if there will ever be such a thing, but we also take the virus seriously and you should too. I’ve had friends and acquaintances who have been infected, and know personally a few people who have died from it. Those who scoff at the seriousness need to think about this-do you really think the NBA, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the NCAA, the Masters and all other sports would shut down and lose billions of dollars if not for a real pandemic threat? Would entire nations impose absolute quarantines? Would major corporations close their doors? And would the President urge a virtual shutdown of our nation’s economy during an election year if this weren’t deadly serious?

I know there are some conspiracy theorists who say the scope of the danger is overblown, but few who say such things are public health experts. Perhaps we will find that there was an over-abundance of caution and some things could have been tempered, but in major cities, like NY, Chicago, LA, Detroit, New Orleans, Miami, and yes, Nashville, the cases have multiplied from both a densely populated area with lots of tourists coming in/out, but also because many people just didn’t take it seriously. Most churches in the nation have closed their on-campus services to conduct services online. A few kept open, but took extraordinary measures to try and protect the attenders.

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One such church is The River at Tampa Bay Church. It required attendees to separate 6-10 feet from others, supplied hand sanitizer at every door for every attendee, spent $100,000 for a hospital quality air-flow system, and had every staff member wearing gloves. This week, Sheriff Chad Chronister of Hillsborough County, FL actually arrested Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for having conducted church services. Think about that. A pastor was arrested for having a church service. He didn’t sneeze or cough on people. He didn’t deny the virus was real and in fact, took great precautions to maintain social distancing. But he was arrested and taken to jail for opening his church. No one was forced to attend. The attendees arrived on their own and one wonders why those who attended weren’t arrested? This case will set up a colossal legal battle as to whether the government at any level can tell a church, synagogue or mosque it cannot provide religious services to its members.

My own church is doing services online and not on any of its 5 campuses. Personally, I think that’s the prudent choice. If my church did have services at any of the locations, I’d opt to still be involved online just to protect myself and more importantly my family who is quarantined with me. But should the government actually arrest a pastor for having church? And if government can shut down a church now, when will some government decide that a church is dangerous because it believes what the government deems wrong. If a church who believes the Biblical pattern of marriage of one man/one woman is considered discriminatory, will the pastor be arrested? If a church believes that men and women should have separate restrooms and dressing rooms and gender-separate dorms and showers at youth camp, will the pastor be arrested and jailed for not following what the government deems right?

Mat Staver and our friends at Liberty Counsel are representing Pastor Browne and we will follow the case closely. But while I believe the risks to public safety and life are real from the coronavirus, I also believe that we cannot and must not sacrifice our 1st amendment guarantees of freedom of religion, free speech, and freedom to assemble. I urge you to protect your family during these times, but be equally vigilant that government doesn’t become a deadly virus to kill our liberties and turn us into a police state.

Here is the link to Friday’s daily press briefing on the coronavirus by President Trump and the Task Force.

Just FYI: If you want to avoid blood pressure spikes, you can safely skip over the part when Jim Acosta of CNN tries to act like a bullying sexist jerk.

Speaking of Jim Acosta, an argument could be made that Trump Derangement Syndrome is nearly as dangerous to the public health as the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Because much of the media hate the fact that Donald Trump is President with the raging heat of a thousand suns, they have decided that their job is not to report what he says accurately or objectively, but to take every word and examine it like a bug under a microscope, trying to find any way to declare it wrong, false, racist, etc.

But now, when we’re facing a national health emergency and the public needs the latest and best information from the White House to protect themselves and their families, the anti-Trump press just cannot rein in their rageaholism and admit that maybe the President of the United States knows more about what’s going on than they do. And that stubborn refusal to put the good of the nation before their personal political grudges may be increasing infection rates and deaths.

Think that’s an unfair accusation? When Trump shut down travel from China back in January, he was called a racist and xenophobe. Where would America be now if the kneejerk Trump haters had prevailed and thousands of people from China had been allowed to keep coming into the US? For the answer, look at Italy, where many people from Wuhan work in the fashion industry and kept coming and going for weeks.

Another example: when President Trump said there had been encouraging results treating the virus with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the media reflexively launched into attack mode. The Bad Orange Man was pushing “false hope.” No, worse, he was peddling “unsubstantiated hope in dark times.” He was even to blame somehow when a man died after eating fish tank cleaner with an ingredient that sounded like the drug Trump mentioned.

So after doing everything in their power to convince the public that the drug Trump mentioned was useless, dangerous quackery, the media are now having to backtrack amid all the reports of doctors having success with it.

Of course, it reportedly works best early on in the disease, so I hope you didn’t refuse treatment early on because you actually listened to reporters who got a bigger thrill out of attacking Trump than out of looking into the possibility of a cure for the pandemic.

Just wondering: if it had been Trump who discouraged people from trying a drug that it later turned out might have cured them of a potentially deadly disease, what are the chances these same reporters would savage him and say he has “blood on his hands”? I put them at 100%.

My most recent commentary on COVID-19 drew many reader comments. Here are a few of the more thought-provoking ones...

From Dale:

We need to put the death rate from this virus in perspective with all causes of death. The National Center for Health Statistics (Table B) shows that in 2017 (latest available year) 2,813,503 people died from all causes, the highest being heart disease & cancer, 647,457 & 599,108 respectively.

Suicide was over 47,000! Flu/pneumonia was almost 56,000. So, not to belittle COVID-19, but we are all going to die from something and old folks like me (84), while still enjoying good health, need to be prepared for when the Good Lord calls us home, regardless of the cause of death!

From the Gov:

Thanks for your perspective. You sound a little like that great philosopher Joycelyn Elders, MD, who once said, “We all will probably die of something sooner or later.”

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From Regis:

...My suggestion is this: During this time when most of us can only sit back and observe what is going on, can we show our support of this country and all who are called to duty as first responders, the medical staffs, and also support of the ones affected by layoffs and job loss? We support them all by flying our flag at the front door until this event is over. It's the least we can do. Maybe this is an idea you can promote if you think it's worthy to do so.

From the Gov:

Good idea, Regis. Consider it promoted!

From Linda:

The COVID-19 task force is bragging about the multitude of test kits going out. Why not use these test kits to bring people back to work? Test negative? Back to work you go. Test positive? Stay at home for some more time.

Continue frequent sanitizing of surfaces, door knobs, cabinet handles, light switches...Continue frequent hand washing and refraining from facial touching and hand shaking.

People who deem themselves vulnerable –- the elderly; cancer survivors; those with immunosuppressive diseases, cardiac and respiratory conditions, etc. –- can surely self- quarantine...But for Pete’s sake, get our healthy Americans back to work and save this economy!

It has taken a mere month (or less) to crash the excellent economy that took President Trump three years to build. We’ve made it through other epidemics and pandemics before without shutting down the economy. We can do this too.

From the Gov:

Your last paragraph says it all. In general, what you describe is the way Sweden has responded to the virus. I should mention that their death rate is starting to inch up, but it’s still relatively low. We need the antibody test.

From Judi:

I have thought from the beginning that shutting down a country's economy makes no sense, including not being supported by any scientific data. This is clear infringement of our rights...way over the top in terms of the responsibility of government. I hope President Trump will recognize this since he is a business man and call a halt to this nonsense. Do we need to keep distance, stay home if sick, not gather in groups? Of course. But taking away people's livelihood and forcing them into welfare is just another push for government control of everything.

From the Gov:

You know it!

From Alan (excerpt):

Hi Mike, really love the truth you share –- you are a patriot and our "Paul Revere" to warn us. I was intrigued by your reference to William L. Gensert's article in the AMERICAN THINKER. I believe this COVID pandemic was a dress rehearsal for the invasion & conquering of Taiwan, without a shot being fired by the PRC...Tom Clancy wrote about such a scenario in REDSTORM RISING and in EXECUTIVE ORDERS –- life imitates fiction. Deception, viral pandemic and invasion. I am sure some up-and-coming ChiComm Naval Officer is preparing the plan. Simple, nefarious and swift. (The Wuhan Level 4 Bio Lab will have both the bioweapons prepared and vaccine for their forces available.). Sorry for the length, but i wanted to share this with you, as you have the influence to engage in some discussions with the right people. Thank you and God Bless you and your family.

From the Gov:

Thanks for writing, Alan. We absolutely can’t discount the possibility of such a thing happening. I think most of us take way too much for granted (certainly our freedom) and are naive about how quickly everything can change. But I would imagine that if anyone has already wrapped his head around this kind of scenario, it’s Mike Pompeo. I could send him some Tom Clancy, perhaps, but I’ll bet he’s already read it.

From Janet:

Berenson is right about the possibility that domestic abuse and even suicide may increase if this "lock down" continues too long. There's something else that could happen –- something that I've already had a taste of in my own neighborhood –- and that's people unleashing their frustrations and hostility on vulnerable people in society. After a really bizarre interaction last week, where a couple of neighbors suddenly became quite angry toward me over something they say I did three years ago, it hit me full-force how truly ugly people can get if this goes on too long.

From Lupe:

I've read some Instagram comments on people who stated that back in early January have had a real bad flu and recently got checked and have the coronavirus antibodies. We need to check asap who has the antibodies so we can get back to work. I think it is very political.

From the Gov:

It would be interesting to know where they got the antibody test. We’re reportedly still a week or two away from the one researchers seem to have settled on. Once people can easily get this test, it WILL be a game-changer.

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From Jeffrey (an MD):

It is pretty obvious, from a large amount of empirical evidence and some controlled trials, that HCQ and azithromycin is effective if given early enough. Therefore, if we have enough supply, we should all wear masks, go on about our daily lives, and anybody that is exhibiting symptoms should be treated immediately, which means outpatient treatment. I am sure this pandemic will diminish quickly if we do so. President Trump needs to stick his neck out and call for this now before our economy is needlessly harmed further.

From the Gov:

Thank you, doctor, for a voice of reason.

From Joseph:

I was a missionary linguist working with South American Indian people in the tropics. We used chloroquine, (predecessor to hydroxychloroquine), sometimes donated by the state secretary of health, for malaria and for amoebic abscess (liver) successfully. It saved lives! Bureaucracy is killing people!

From Roberta:

Early treatment would be ideal. But where I live, you can have many symptoms that could be COVID-19, but if cough and shortness of breath are absent, they screen you negative and send you home to fend for yourself. This was the case with me, a 67-year-old retired RN...Thankfully, I am still above ground! My point is, how can you be treated early if they won't test until the symptoms are fully in gear? Thanks for letting me vent! Thank you, Governor Huckabee, for being a beacon of common sense in an insane world!!!

From the Gov:

Excellent question. That will have to change, with automatic testing (as symptoms vary so much) and treatment BEFORE respiratory symptoms get severe. Thanks for writing; so glad you’re “still above ground” after that experience.

1. U.S. # CONFIRMED CASES (As of 6:30 AM): 245,573   DEATHS: 6,058  RECOVERIES: 9,228

TESTS GIVEN:  1,288,013

2.  CDC RECOMMENDATIONS: How to protect yourself  |  What to do if you are sick

3.  CORONAVIRUS DEATHS:  They are mounting everywhere, these are a few names you might recognize. 

4.  WHAT DO YOU THINK: Share your thoughts on President Trump's handling of this crisis

5.  DATA:  We see data emerging NOW, and it may be a "game-changer"

6. A CURE?: Some potential good news on a possible cure for COVID-19.

Yesterday, I wrote about the pressing need for data --- not the long-term data some medical researchers insist on seeing before they advise us to start returning to some semblance of normal, but what we can learn NOW to help us know how to respond. Today, we have more of that.

Of course, we have this piece of data to consider: 6.6 million unemployment claims. In a flash, we’ve gone from virtually full employment in the last year of Trump’s first term to this staggering statistic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, coming from the point of view of a researcher, has said the fight will continue until there is absolutely no new case of COVID-19; of course, he’s looking ahead to a vaccine. Well, a vaccine will be just super, but a proven-safe and effective vaccine for the population at large could be 12 to 18 months away –- though one trial with mice at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is already looking promising –- and we cannot shut America down that long. We can’t shut America down for 12 to 18 more WEEKS. So let’s look at what we can reasonably do in the meantime.

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Alex Berenson, a former NEW YORK TIMES reporter who has been looking hard at available numbers, said as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show Thursday that the computer models predicting apocalyptic effects of this virus in terms of serious illness and death are turning out to be wildly wrong. “In some cases,” Berenson said, “these epidemiological models are extremely new. They’ve gone extremely ‘south’ in a matter of days." He’s daring to ask if there might be some other strategy that would do just as well and might be less damaging to the economy. “We’ve done it [put millions out of work] on the basis of models that don’t seem to line up with reality in real time.”

He cited the University of Washington model, “which was created and released only a week ago.” In other words, its accuracy has never been tested. It predicted that as of now, about 50,000 people in the state of New York would be hospitalized with COVID-19. The real number is about 12-13,000. It’s as I said yesterday, these models really have no predictive value. Garbage in, garbage out.

Berenson contrasted this with the prediction of another model, from the Oregon state government, that was revised on Monday to show that “if Oregon did nothing, ended the lockdown...there would be 90 people in ICU beds at the beginning of May...If the lockdown continued, there would be 30 people.” And so the question becomes, are we going to lock the state of Oregon down, with all the societal disruption that will cause? He’s concerned about other serious problems such as escalating domestic abuse and other deaths, by suicide.

"Do these massive lockdowns make sense,” he asks, “when we can’t even necessarily figure out how they’re working?”

For a case study in how a less-strict approach to containing the virus would work, we can look at Sweden. (Surprising, isn’t it, that a safety-net country like Sweden would decide to take their chances?) People are being trusted to take basic precautions –- keep a distance, wash hands, etc. –- and use their own judgment on the rest. They didn’t take what they consider drastic measures such as closing all schools (they did close high schools and universities) and restaurants. Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, but many are choosing to avoid crowds and work from home if they can. Only people over age 70 are specifically being asked to stay isolated.

Sweden’s death rate from coronavirus has been compared to that caused by “a bad winter flu.” Out of a population of 10 million, 308 have died according to Johns Hopkins University. Of course, Swedish society has some differences that might contribute to the relatively low number; for example, many more people in Sweden live alone, so it’s easier to isolate. Still, this gives us something to think about as we contemplate months of a shut-down economy.

It seems to me that the only way a “lockdown” is even feasible for more than a few more weeks is if there could just be a “pause” button everyone could hit. No one pays anyone. Your business doesn’t pay the rent, say, and the mortgage-holder on the building doesn’t pay the bank, either. It would be like a “holiday” for everyone up and down the line. (This might leave the huge financial institutions holding the bag, but considering how they cleaned up during the bailouts of 2008-2009, it’s hard to cry too much.) Of course, this sort of cooperative effort has never happened; Melissa Francis of FOX BUSINESS NEWS actually brought up the possibility of doing it but noted that it would take “the best financial minds” to figure out exactly how it could be achieved.

Barring something like that, it’s hard to imagine how we can keep so much activity shut down. And some of the rules are getting downright crazy. As I reported yesterday, the state of Vermont has put in place new rules that “non-essential” items can’t be bought in big-box stories, even by people who are already there to buy essentials. This is reportedly happening in some other states as well, such as Massachusetts. (If social media reports are correct, even vegetable seeds can’t be sold --- at a time when people are trying to stay home and be more self-sufficient --- because the garden section is considered “non-essential.”)

The idea is to discourage “wandering” in the store. This is idiocy. It’s definitely the leftist mindset at work: the reflexive micromanaging of every aspect of life.

Some other bureaucratic restrictions absolutely defy common sense. For example, in New York, at least at this writing, a patient can’t be prescribed hydroxychloroquine without being admitted to a hospital. Again, insanity. I understand that the intention is to make sure patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can still get their medication. But New York hospitals are reportedly overwhelmed; if a coronavirus patient can be helped without going to one, it needs to happen. (Plus, it's better to get the treatment before becoming that sick.) Doctors around the world are increasingly using the hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin combination drug therapy with good results.

It’s downright criminal that people might be denied such a promising treatment, for whatever reason. One reason, of course, is shameless politics, with some like the WASHINGTON POST accusing the President of offering “false hope” and peddling “snake oil.” But the President has been right. Some in the anti-Trump media have finally, reluctantly, had to admit that there’s something to it.

If we’re going to survive this mess and get back on track, it won’t be through months of government-imposed quarantine but through identifying those who have immunity --- the definitive antibody test is reportedly 1-2 weeks away --- and the quick, effective treatment of those who contract the virus. This drug therapy, if given early enough, seems to be doing a very effective job of keeping people off ventilators (and only about half of patients, once they’re put on a ventilator, will recover). As has been said, you go to war with the army you have. So praise the Lord and pass the hydroxychloroquine.