Fox News consumers were treated to a rare moment of truth Wednesday evening when Dr. Rishi Desai, chief medical officer at Osmosis, came on the air. Dr. Desai ostensibly was on to discuss the potential merits of a nationwide shutdown of activities in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, aka the coronavirus. Host Martha MacCallum introduced him to her Fox viewership as an infectious disease specialist with years of service at the Centers for Disease Control, and as someone who researched outbreaks to protect Americans from—outbreaks like, say, COVID-19.
Dr. Desai supports a much more enforced stay-at-home national quarantine, and when asked about our wobbly economy, explained that he thought Fox News viewers could draw some inspiration from the reality that if the entire country stayed in their homes for the next two weeks, we would most likely begin to see the number of new cases of COVID-19 begin to fall. The level of relief the collective American psyche would feel from this might very well help to stabilize the panicked markets the president is so much more worried about.
The conversation then turned to the next incredibly important tool needed to contain the outbreak in our country: testing.
Like most (if not all) infectious disease specialists, Desai wants mass testing to be done and done as soon as possible so that health officials can truly understand and then isolate and contain the virus’ spread. MacCallum, like all Fox News performers, needs to thread a fine line of pretending to be reporting the truth while bullshitting and rewriting history at the same time.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Now, what we hear every night is that the test, that there are millions of tests available, and yet, we don’t have that pinprick blood test that you can […] get at your local doctor in 15 minutes.
Before we get into Dr. Desai’s monumental answer, we need to first understand exactly what MacCallum is attempting to do with her question/statement. MacCallum is attempting to promote the false narrative pushed by Donald Trump (and NO ONE ELSE) that we have “millions of tests available.” First, this isn’t a real thing at all. Second, and most importantly, this isn’t a real thing at all because Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and his administration have failed the American people. MacCallum, using a touch of marbles in her mouth, then conflates this lack of testing—because even Fox News viewers realize that not enough people are being tested—with the fact we do not have a “pinprick blood test.” What MacCallum is referencing here is one of a series of blood tests being developed that promise to reveal to medical professionals, in 15 minutes or less, whether or not an individual has had the coronavirus.
These fast and seemingly simple tests have been rushed through the process of FDA approval. However, there are numerous caveats to the FDA’s speedy acceptance of unproven tests. Dr. Desai decided to quickly explain that a speedy blood test, while something we should definitely aspire to have, is not a magic bullet, and definitely not what the experts pushing for mass testing are talking about. As MacCallum finished her question-like statement, she added “but they’re working on it,” to which Dr. Desai gave Fox News producers a hint of what was to come: truth bombs!
DR. RISHI DESAI: Yeah, they’re working on it. They should have been working on it for months. The fact is we knew about this from the WHO when? December 31, 2019! So, last year we knew about this. We knew the coronavirus was coming. We knew it was a respiratory disease. We knew it was person-to-person. Why is it that it’s this week that the FDA finally approved these new Abbot Lab testing—which, by the way, is one test at a time.
It’s a great test, but it’s one test at a time. It’s different than the labs that are doing mass-testing, right? So, this is a wonderful test, don’t get me wrong, but it’s one test for 15 minutes. That’s wonderful, but it’s not the same volume that you need. This is better for outpatient clinics and things like that.
We needed this months ago. You look at South Korea. South Korea and the U.S. had their first official confirmed case on the same date—January 19. Let me say, January 19, you look at what South Korea did and what we did. Their population is one-sixth of ours, look at the cases they have. Look at the mortality they have. It’s a trifle compared to what we are dealing with right now. Because we have had a very weak response and they had a really strong response.
It is here that the slight video delay mixed with what is most likely a producer or two losing their minds in MacCallum’s earpiece treats us, the viewers, to an uncomfortably long pause before MacCallum does what Fox News hosts get paid to do: dismiss the truth as quickly as possible.
MACCALLUM: Very interesting to talk to you Dr. Desai, hope you’ll come back.
Of course, one of the issues with making Americans stay home is that the Trump-led United States government and the Republican-led Senate are not interested in doing the kind of work that is needed to support Americans. For example, forget about sending out a check and making small businesses hope that relief will come from an already overworked and under-equipped government agency. South Korea has been sending out kits to ALL of its citizens that include food, water, and masks.
Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted out this reminder.
And here’s the first and last time Dr. Rishi Desai will likely appear on Fox News.