What is the significance of putting quotes around experts and fact checkers? If someone has a verifiable background in virology, infectious disease, and or epidemiology , I tend to trust them. If their expertise is as a radiologist or media personality, then not so much.
I'm not sure what "blindly follow" means, (quotes are because I am quoting you) , but I read reports and articles with skepticism. I look at where data was gathered, the size of the study, and if its peer reviewed.
I work in public health and I know first hand how unreliable the numbers gathered by national organizations were and still are to a degree. Every state, and even every local health jurisdiction has it own way of gathering and reporting data. In the beginning we only had paper faxes as a means of reporting, meaning someone had to look at each and every page (sometimes 500 day) to gathering testing data. And it was well reported that at least one state, Florida, was skewing the numbers. So Johns Hopkins was useful, but not the be all, end all.
Media, any media, has bias. The ones that take the time to check multiple sources are going to be more accurate that the ones that cherry-pick sensationalized stories and spread them without investigation.