The Rochester Voice has plenty of respect for the reporters and editors of local Seacoast Online newspapers like the Portsmouth Herald and Foster's Daily Democrat, but we have to call them out for their headline in today's issue that reads "Coronavirus Q&A, March 19: Seacoast surge expected in 2-6 weeks."
Here is one of the questions that was put to Wentworth Douglass Hospital:
"Seacoast Media Group: Based on the information you have, when do your planners believe you could begin to see a sharp increase or surge in COVID-19 patients?
Wentworth-Douglass: This is hard to judge as this is evolving so fast, but we are preparing for increases in the 2- to 4- to 6-week time frame."
So Seacoast Media asks when the surge is expected, and WDH says, "We are preparing for increases in the 2- to 4- to 6-week range."
WDH did not say they "expect a surge" in two to six weeks.
What Seacoast Online did is take the word from their question and use it in their answer even though WDH never mentioned a "surge."
An increase is not a surge.
Webster's defines the noun surge as "to rise suddenly to an excessive or abnormal value"
An increase is not necessarily "excessive" or "abnormal."
Now let's look at the word "expected."
Webster's defines it as to be considered "probable" or "certain."
WDH never said the increases were "probable" or "certain." They said they were simply preparing for an increase.
This is nothing less fearmongering.
Now if WDH had said "We expect a surge in 2-6 week" then the headline would've been fine. But they didn't.
What our readers need now are facts, not hyperbole that needlessly adds to the public's stress level.