The New York Times has been forced to retract a claim by its reporter Apoorva Mandavilli that “nearly 900,000 children have been hospitalised with Covid since the pandemic began”. This figure isn’t just slightly off the mark – it’s 837,000 cases too high.
Mandavilli has been a controversial figure at the Times for her ideologically-colored pandemic coverage. In May, she tweeted: “Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not today.” She later deleted the tweet but not before adding: “A theory can have racist roots and still gather reasonable supporters along the way. Doesn’t make the roots any less racist or the theory any more convincing, though.”
The theory has not yet been disproved. To the contrary, it has picked up a number of prominent supporters in the scientific community, including former Times reporters Nicholas Wade and Donald McNeil. McNeil was the lead coronavirus reporter at the publication prior to his being fired and smeared by the Times for uttering a racial epithet in the context of discussing its moral valence and grace on an educational trip several years ago.
The correction is notable as the nature of the threat that coronavirus poses to children figures heavily in the continued and often partisan debates over vaccine and mask mandates in schools.
While Republicans such as Florida governor Ron DeSantis maintain that such decisions should be left up to parents, President Joe Biden and American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten have advocated for mandates, insisting that they’re necessary to protect students and staff alike.
Worth reading in full.