President Joe Biden’s top COVID-19 adviser wrongly predicted that Florida would experience a large, “house on fire” virus outbreak unrivaled by states with lockdown restrictions due to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s reopening orders.
“Florida is ripe for another large outbreak,” Dr. Michael Osterholm told CNN’s Jake Tapper in October. “What they’ve done is opened up everything as if nothing had ever happened there. And you and I could be talking probably in eight to 10 weeks and I will likely bet that Florida will be a house on fire.”
Osterholm also ragged on North Dakota and South Dakota for maintaining anti-lockdown and mask policies that he labeled as political decisions motivated by “pseudoscience.” Despite Osterholm’s previously failed projections and his drastic vacillations on COVID mitigation strategies, Tapper praised the adviser for “being right the whole time” about COVID-19.
“I wish that at one point you had been wrong in any of the things that you’ve projected and predicted, but you’ve been right the whole time and it just must be maddening,” Tapper said, shaking his head.
Despite Tapper’s fawning over Osterholm’s coronavirus opinions, data from October when the doctor first gave his prediction about a surge in Florida COVID cases suggests that other states still under strict lockdown orders experienced similar and even worse hospitalization and deaths attributed to the virus.
Yes, a seasonal case surge was about to happen nationwide, but Florida handled things well despite having among the nation’s highest over-65 population percentages. They also compared quite favorably with Democrat-run California and New York, among others.
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) February 11, 2021
Osterholm made a similar mistake in November when he wrongly predicted that hospitals would be “collapsing” by early December.
“We need somebody to say this is what’s happening,” Osterholm said on MSNBC. “This is how bad it is, we’re going to see hospitals collapsing in the next two to three weeks, and this is what we’ve got to do to address that.”
In addition to his previous failed predictions, such as claiming that there was no reason to believe COVID vaccine production and distribution could “occur quickly,” Osterholm also has a history of flip-flopping his position on lockdowns.
In March, Osterholm wrote a piece for the Washington Post arguing against lockdowns, citing the need for children to be in school and people to return to work. In the same article, he claimed that COVID-19 would only “go away” with the development of a vaccine or herd immunity, neither of which he believed would “occur quickly.” The development of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have since proven that belief to be false.
Months later, Osterholm had a sudden change of heart and began publicly calling for strong, government lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. The doctor also often praised Europe’s lockdown model, claiming that the virus was “largely contained” there without acknowledging the fact that many European countries were experiencing severe case spikes in a second round of coronavirus outbreaks.
Osterholm’s recent targeting of the Sunshine State in late 2020 to fit into the narrative constructed by corporate media outlets, which often focused on shaming GOP-led states for reopening during a pandemic instead of reporting on blue states still under strict lockdowns that were suffering higher case and death counts.
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.