We've lately seen a new minimizing of the coronavirus from Donald Trump and in other right-wing emissions.
It is the assertion that 94 percent of Americans who have died thus far with the virus had pre-existing conditions and therefore can't be said to have died from it.
These people seem to be saying that 9.4 out of 10 of us could toss our salads in covid-and-oil and be fine.
And what about that other 0.6?
Haven't you ever heard of rotten luck?
Speaking of bad luck: Let's say a guy has an almond allergy that can be fatal. Let's say you bring the dessert to a dinner party at his house, and that the dessert is tiramisu spiked, as is your custom, with almond liqueur.
Let's say the host devours a delicious serving and dies.
Did your tiramisu kill him? Oh, for heaven's sakes, no. His own damned allergy killed him.
If you had a physical malady and I shot you and you died, then I could justifiably beat the murder rap, surely, by arguing that you had a health problem to start with.
After all, I could have shot a healthier man and faced a lesser charge. The death wasn't my bullet's fault. It was your own fault.
Why, if it weren't for pre-existing conditions, most of us would live forever.
It's enough to make you wonder why the Trump administration is in court trying to kill Obamacare with its mandate for equitably priced coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions.
The latest was that the Republicans thought maybe they'd establish a pot of money to match independent state plans to cover pre-existing conditions as defined and provided by those respective states.
But have you seen some of these states--Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas?
Word of advice: If you have a medical condition and Obamacare gets thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court, sell everything and haul out for a blue state.
Anyway, back on point: Some Republican U.S. Senate candidate somewhere--I forget his name on purpose--retweeted that only 6 percent of the so-called coronavirus deaths were really coronavirus deaths, and concluded, "Masks off. Schools open."
Trump retweeted the statistical assertion before Twitter took down the statistical assertion because it misrepresented what the CDC had said.
It was not the first time Twitter had found it necessary to ban a Trump emission. Now if only the election would get that done more broadly.
Yes, alas, it appears from further consideration that a bullet indeed can kill you even if you had health problems to start with.
It is true that the CDC reported updated information 10 days ago that the virus had been listed as the lone cause in only 6 percent of cases of Americans dying with the virus.
But proper understanding often entails more than presidential emissions and short phrases, but additional words and sentences, even paragraphs.
The CDC went on to say that doctors' death reports on the other cases listed "comorbidity" factors, meaning other contributors to the circumstance by which the virus caused the death.
For example: A man suffers from diabetes and a heart condition. He gets the coronavirus, which gets into his respiratory system. He is too weak to fight it. He goes on a ventilator. He dies. The doctor fills out the requisite forms and, to be thoroughly precise, lists the virus, heart disease and diabetes as factors in the passing.
Does that mean the deceased man is not legitimately a coronavirus victim?
Should he instead be dismissed as a garden-variety victim of heart disease and diabetes? Isn't that he was sickly in the first place a political victory for the grotesque president?
The CDC, most of the medical establishment and the preponderance of sane Americans say that the man was sick and vulnerable, for sure, and quite possibly a short-timer, but that the thing that directly caused his demise was that the virus got in and attacked his otherwise diseased system.
Absent the virus, the man likely would be walking around in bad health still, maybe with a chance to get healthier, if he was able to change a few habits and had affordable insurance for pre-existing conditions guaranteed under federal law so that he could get good medical care.
By the way, just for the record: Influenza deaths get reported the same way. A person with medical conditions who gets the flu and dies is reported as dying of the flu and those conditions.
That doesn't acquit the flu.
It's like a margarita. You've got the makings of one without tequila. But it's not the salt and the lime and the crushed ice that make you silly. It's the tequila that ignites the pre-existing conditions.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.