News is a curious business.

It is not always easy to understand exactly what it is that drives news outlets to feature the stories they choose to highlight as the top story of the day.

For three months news coverage has been saturated with COVID-19. The novel coronavirus knocked almost every other story out of the headlines. For over 100 days since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic it has seemed as if there was nothing else of importance going on in the world.

Suddenly a shift in the news cycle seems to have taken place. Now the top story is the President of the United States having a temper tantrum because the stadium for his first major re-election rally is sparsely filled.

It may be that news junkies are simply tired of the gloomy saturation reporting on COVID. I heard a news story on a major US outlet last week which concluded with the news anchor saying,

We may be done with COVID but COVID is not done with us.

Or, it may be that there have been good news as a few countries move out of lockdown and cases begin to decline in some of the hardest hit areas. Certainly, good news is less headline making than the frightening and tragic stories that have been a staple of COVID reporting in recent months.

But the reality is that, “COVID is not done with us”, should be the major headline around the world today as the Los Angeles Times announces that,

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count,
at more than 183,000 new cases worldwide in the latest 24 hours.

The U.N. health agency said Brazil led the way with 54,771 cases tallied and the U.S. next at 36,617. More than 15,400 cases were recorded in India… Overall in the pandemic, WHO reported 8,708,008 cases — 183,020 in the last 24 hours.

There may be a number of causes for this sharp increase, including more tests being performed and better reporting. But the increase in deaths is indisputable with a worldwide rise of 4,743 deaths every day with more than two thirds of those deaths in the Americas.

We may be tired of the numbers, but it is unimaginable that something that is killing over 6,000 people per day around the world would not be screaming from the front page of every major news outlet.

Perhaps we simply cannot handle this much reality any more. The months of COVID have been grim. The numbers are incomprehensible. Each of the 465,460 COVID deaths in the world since the beginning of March represents a web of relationships, a network of pain and suffering that is incalculable.

How much tragedy can we hold before we feel compelled to stop listening to the litany of death and disruption?

But we cannot afford to turn away. If an increase of 4,743 daily deaths has any lesson to teach us, surely it is that we cannot afford to entertain any illusions about the ravages of COVID. We need to keep our eyes open and be willing to see clearly and acknowledge boldy the truth of our situation.

Jesus is reported to have said,

you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

The truth Jesus speaks of here is sometimes viewed as doctrinal truth. But, the important thing in this saying is the context in which it is given. Jesus is speaking to a group of people who will respond to his words by picking “up stones to throw at him”. (John 8:59)

They are people who refuse to see the truth embodied in Jesus. They have chosen to deny reality. In an attempt to suppress the truth that stood before them, they inevitably increase the violence and suffering in the world.

As the headlines of empty stadium seats at a political rally rival the reality of an increase of 4,743 daily coronavirus deaths, Republican political spin-masters scramble to deny the message of collapsing support for their candidate and instead cast around in search of anyone to blame rather than face the embarrassment of reality. These same political operatives seem determined now to downplay the severity of the COVID crisis. And, when it comes to COVID, this is a deadly transaction. (nb: lest you think I am over-stating the reality of denial in the face of COVID, see below *)

We must hear the truth and continue to be vigilant in protecting the well-being of our communities. “COVID is not done with us yet”; complacency has no place in the midst of a pandemic.


*  13:23 GMT – “No second wave of coronavirus”, says US White House adviser

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said there is no second wave of the pandemic, even though there are some flare-ups in states such as Florida, and it is unlikely there will be widespread shutdowns across the country.

“There are some hotspots. We’re on it,” Kudlow said in an interview with CNBC. “We know how to deal with this stuff now. It’s come a long way since last winter and there is no second wave coming.”