1. says

    Guardian – “Satellite images show Iran has built mass graves amid coronavirus outbreak”:

    Satellite images of mass graves in the city of Qom suggest Iran’s coronavirus epidemic is even more serious than the authorities are admitting.

    The pictures, first published by the New York Times, show the excavation of a new section in a cemetery on the northern fringe of Iran’s holy city in late February, and two long trenches dug, of a total length of 100 yards, by the end of the month.

    They confirm the worst fears about the extent of the epidemic and the government’s subsequent cover-up. On 24 February, at the time the trenches were being dug, a legislator from Qom, 75 miles (120 km) south of Tehran, accused the health ministry of lying about the scale of the outbreak, saying there had already been 50 deaths in the city, at a time when the ministry was claiming only 12 people had died from the virus nationwide.

    The deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, held a press conference to “categorically deny” the allegations, but he was clearly sweating and coughing as he did so. The next day, Harirchi confirmed that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

    Since then, members of Iranian parliament, the Majlis, a former diplomat and a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, have died. Another Khamenei adviser and one of the most powerful voices in Iranian foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, was reported on Thursday to have been infected. The top ranks of Iran’s clerical leadership are particularly vulnerable because of their advanced age.

    According to the latest health ministry figures, more than 10,000 Iranians have fallen ill from the virus and 429 have died.

    Amir Afkhami, who has written a history of Iran’s experience of cholera epidemics, A Modern Contagion, said the mass graves add weight to suspicions the real mortality figures are much higher and are still being covered by the leadership.

    He added that the close trading partnership between Iran and China, and the government’s fear of disrupting that partnership had contributed to the early and rapid spread of the disease….

  2. blf says

    (This is a slightly-edited repeat of my comment / caution @499 on the previous page.)

    On making your won hand sanitizer: Not a good idea.

    Some quick searching confirms experts suggest you do not make your own hand sanitizer. Broadly, it’s difficult to get the concentrations right; the alcohol is harsh on your skin and you can actually hurt your hands; and the stuff is difficult to use properly. Through washing with soap and water is preferred, albeit carefully-made sanitizers, used properly, do work when hand-washing is not possible.

    For example, from Hand sanitizer or hand washing: which is better against coronavirus?:

    [… M]aking your own sanitizer, while potentially effective against some bacteria, is not something [London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor Sally] Bloomfield would recommend. “It’s very unwise, dangerous, even,” she says. Shop-bought products also contain emollients to make them softer on the skin, without which you run the risk of hurting your hands. Getting the mix right at home would very tricky — so it is a big no-no.


    The best option is soap and water. According to a 2019 study by the American Society for Microbiology, using running water and soap to wash your hands is more effective than a dab of gel that you have not quite rubbed in.


    Also, WHO’s guidelines for making sanitizer, according to a CNN (Don’t try to make your own hand sanitizer just because there’s a shortage from coronavirus), are “intended for populations that do not have clean water or other medical-grade products in place.”

  3. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement the club said Arsenal employees who have had recent close contact with Arteta will now self isolate and that they expect this to be a significant number of people from the London Colney training centre including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.

    Managing director Vinai Venkatesham said: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is. Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”…

  4. blf says

    Pregnant teen dies after falling from US-Mexico border wall:

    A pregnant 19-year-old migrant from Guatemala died after trying to climb over a border fence in Texas, authorities said on Thursday. Doctors were not able to save her child.

    United States media, quoting a statement from Guatemala’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported that the woman, Miriam Estefany Giron Luna, fell on her back from the top of an 18-foot-high (5.5-metre) span of steel mesh fencing while trying to cross with the child’s father. Giron Luna, who was 30 weeks pregnant, died from her injuries on Tuesday.

    Tekandi Paniagua, a Guatemalan consular official based in the state of Texas, told the Washington Post that new restrictions imposed by US President [sic] Donald Trump have been causing asylum seekers to take more risks and that since October, at least five other Guatemalans have suffered broken bones and other serious injuries after falling from the border wall.


    According to the Washington Post report, Giron Luna was a social worker and a beauty pageant winner in her hometown in her country’s Quetzaltenango department. She reportedly slipped while trying to descend from the top of the barrier, landing on her back. The woman’s partner, Dilver Israel Diaz Garcia, 26, carried her away from the scene to seek help and encountered US Border Patrol agents, who radioed for an ambulance.

    According to the newspaper, doctors in El Paso tried to deliver the child via Caesarean section, and Giron Luna underwent multiple surgeries before dying. Her partner, Diaz Garcia, remains in US Border Patrol custody, where he faces deportation.

  5. says

    New York AG Letitia James:

    I ordered Alex Jones to immediately stop selling & marketing products as a treatment or cure for #coronavirus on his website.

    If he doesn’t cease & desist these activities immediately, I won’t hesitate to take legal action & hold him accountable for the harm he’s caused.

    Mr. Jones has been marketing & selling toothpaste, dietary supplements, creams & other products as treatments to prevent & cure the #coronavirus.

    He even fraudulently claims the US government has said his toothpaste “kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-black range.”

    Mr. Jones’ public platform has given him a microphone to shout inflammatory rhetoric, but these latest mistruths are incredibly dangerous & pose a serious threat to the public health of our nation.

    There is NO FDA-approved vaccine or treatment to prevent or cure #coronavirus.

    Similarly – CBS – “Televangelist Jim Bakker sued for selling fake coronavirus cure”:

    Televangelist Jim Bakker is being sued by the state of Missouri for selling fake coronavirus cures on his website. On Monday, the Jim Bakker Show and six other companies were warned by the the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop selling unapproved products and treatments….

  6. says

    Reuters – “Rome Catholic churches ordered closed due to coronavirus, unprecedented in modern times”:

    Rome’s Catholic churches were ordered closed on Thursday because of the coronavirus pandemic, in a move believed to be unprecedented in modern times.

    The decree by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Pope Francis’ vicar for the Rome archdiocese, will remain in effect until at least April 3. There are more than 900 parochial and historic churches in the Italian capital….

    Not to be outdone, “Update: All meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including sacrament meetings, have been canceled the world over.”

  7. says

    Update – G liveblog – “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie has tested positive for coronavirus, AP reports.” Her symptoms started upon returning from the UK.

  8. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #15 –

    Good old BoJo’s “keep calm and carry on” thing working out just splendidly, I see! Bravo!

    (I was hearing Stephen Fry’s General Melchett voice as I typed that.)

  9. blf says

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro “tests positive for coronavirus”:

    The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to local media.


    The positive test comes after Bolsonaro’s press secretary was found to have the disease following a trip to the US. His son Eduardo Bolsonaro, a congressman who was also on the trip, tweeted that his father “is not exhibiting any signs of the disease”

    Bolsonaro dined with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night and videos and photos, including some on Wajngarten’s own Instagram account, showed the press secretary, Bolsonaro and Trump all in close proximity. I’m not concerned, Trump told reporters on Thursday. [notorious & self-admitted germophobe probably doing his usual lying –blf]

    Bolsonaro has downplayed the crisis. On Wednesday, he said Other flus kill more than this and has also called concern over coronavirus oversized.

  10. blf says

    I presume hair furor, Pence, and also, possibly, their stooge Robert Redfield, will have a meltdown about this (current Grauniad Covid-19 pandemic blog):

    The Jack Ma Foundation, the charitable foundation set up by the founder of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, has announced plans to donate 500,000 testing kits and a million masks to the United States.

    Ma said in a tweet:

    Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus. We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic”

    The foundation has already helped sourcing and delivering materials to combat Covid-19 to other countries suffering outbreaks, including South Korea, Italy and Iran. […]

  11. blf says

    Oh good grief, Trump administration reportedly won’t let states use Medicaid to respond to crisis (current Grauniad live States blog):

    States experiencing dramatic coronavirus outbreaks are unable to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the outbreak by expanding medical care, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

    The White House has tools it can use to assist states looking to bolster their healthcare efforts, but so far, the Trump administration has not made any moves to ease the burden on states.

    As coronavirus has intensified in the US over the last few weeks, Trump has tried to downplay the effect that the illness will have on Americans. He called the illness Democrats’ new hoax and has compared it to the flu, which has a far lower mortality rate.

    Additionally, as the LA Times point out, Seema Verna, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has been a champion of conservative states who have been trying to cut the number of people on Medicaid.

    Here’s more from the LA Times:

    Months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic.

    That’s making it harder for states to quickly sign up poor patients for coverage so they can get necessary testing or treatment if they are exposed to coronavirus.

    And it threatens to slow efforts by states to bring on new medical providers, set up emergency clinics or begin quarantining and caring for homeless Americans at high risk from the virus.

  12. blf says

    The sick joke of Donald’s Trump’s presidency [sic] isn’t funny any more:

    The coronavirus outbreak has revealed the full stupidity, incompetence and selfishness of the president [sic] to deadly effect

    […] The humanitarian crisis about to unfold will consume what’s left of this president [sic] and the Republican party that surrendered its self-respect and sense of duty to flatter his ego and avoid his angry tweets.

    Trump was right about one thing, and only one thing, as the coronavirus started to spread across the world. The sight of thousands of dead Americans will hurt him politically. It will also hurt many thousands of Americans in reality.

    Multiple reports have detailed [Trump’s mismanagement helped fuel coronavirus crisis] how Trump did not just ignore the growing pandemic; he actively sought to block his own officials’ attempts to track and stop it. Why has there been such a disastrous lack of testing? Because the president [sic] didn’t want to know the answer, and because his staff were too busy fighting each other to do the right thing.


    How could we have known that Trump would deny the resources to deal with a disaster, deny the truth about the death toll, and denounce anyone daring to tell the truth?

    It wasn’t hard to know. After Hurricane Maria devastated the American island of Puerto Rico in September of his first year in office, Trump gave himself a 10 for his response to the devastation. He also said he couldn’t keep the military in Puerto Rico forever, which was news to the national guard.

    At the very time he was bragging about his response and trashing his own citizens, more than 3,000 Americans were dying on the island because of Trump’s botched response to the hurricane. Those Americans were our most vulnerable citizens: the sick and elderly, who lost power, lacked medicine or needed a hospital bed when the hospitals were stricken.

    Those are the same Americans who face the greatest peril in the coming weeks from the same toxic mix of callousness and incompetence from the same sociopathic president [sic].


    This is a president [sic] who can’t formulate a coherent coronavirus policy, and can’t even read the words written for him on a prompter.

    One paragraph from Wednesday’s disastrous Oval Office address managed to only worsen the political pathogen that is his presidency [sic].

    There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, he explained about his new travel ban from Europe, ignoring the reality that he limited all testing so there are no appropriate screenings.


    These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom. Ah yes, the British immunity to coronavirus is a well-documented medical fact. British people who play golf on a Trump course are especially healthy individuals.

    If Trump was trying to reassure the markets, he failed, like he always does. Even the Federal Reserve magicking $1.5tn out of thin air could not stop the stock market from suffering its worst single day since the 1987 crash.

    […] Joe Biden’s response on Thursday was a stark reminder of what presidents and vice-presidents used to sound like.

    “We’ll lead with science,” the former vice-president said. “We’ll listen to the experts. We’ll heed their advice.” It all sounded so shockingly novel. […]

    In the meantime, before January 2021, the world faces two deadly diseases: a pandemic and a pathetically incompetent president [sic].

    […] Instead of thinking about preparing thousands of new hospital beds, or millions of virus tests, Trump has probably committed the largest part of his brain to thinking about that number [32 deaths in the States]. That very tiny number, so small compared to the rest of the world, that represents the full measure of his compassion.

  13. says

    G liveblog:

    Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, has tweeted to say that his father’s coronavirus test is not yet complete.

    It appear[s] that although Bolsonaro’s initial test has come back positive, he is still awaiting the results of a second, definitive test.

    Meanwhile, however, the Fox Business network is reporting that the White House is due to hold an urgent meeting on Bolsonaro’s positive coronavirus test.

    I’m just flabbergasted by this. He should not be holding any fucking meetings. He should not be meeting with people in the so-called administration or legislators or world leaders. He should not be doing press gaggles. He, his family, Pence, and everyone else who interacted with the Brazilians last weekend should be self-quarantining and getting tested. For the love of fuck. No one should be meeting with them in person.

  14. says

    JESUS FUCKING CHRIST – I just heard on MSNBC that Trump plans to hold a news conference at 3 PM. Absolutely not. The press corps should under no circumstances go to this, and the media organizations should tell them not to. This can be done by video.

  15. blf says

    France24 is reporting the Louvre will be closing at 18h (about an hour from now) and will remain closed indefinitely.

  16. says

    The mayor of Miami who attended an event with Trump and Bolsonaro last weekend has now tested positive for coronavirus.

    They’re saying Trump is expected to announce a national state of emergency at the press conference. He can announce it without holding a fucking press conference.

  17. blf says

    ● Switzerland has just closed all schools.
    ● Local elections in the UK have been postponed by one year until May 2021.
    ● The local elections here in France (this Sunday, with 2nd round next Sunday) are still going ahead. (Macron discussed this in his speech last night.)
    (First two items are from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog.)

  18. says

    Bobby Lewis:

    On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr claims people are “overreacting” to coronavirus, the national response is “their next attempt to get Trump,” and the virus itself is a North Korean bioweapon.

    Really didn’t expect Fox News to return to CORONAVIRUS IMPEACHMENT SCAM but here we are.

    jerry falwell jr ended his dangerously misinformative and misinformed fox & friends appearance by calling on western virginia counties to secede from the commonwealth and join the state of west virginia. cannot make this up…

    Videos at the link.

  19. says

    G liveblog: “The UK government’s coronavirus strategy and the plan to build up herd immunity is facing mounting growing criticism from the scientific community.”

    The plan to what?!!!!

  20. blf says

    France24 recently aired (I watched it at the time) an interview with a John Hopkins researcher discussing data from Big China suggests elderly men are much more likely to die from Covid-19 than women. That’s an angle I wasn’t previously aware of. The show is now available on-line, Gender and the coronavirus: Why are more men dying than women? (video):

    [… E]arly data from China shows that more men than women are dying from coronavirus. Annette Young talks about why with Professor Sabra Klein, a specialist on gender differences in infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health.

    Professor Klein was very clear and articulate, and the journalist, Ms Young, gave her the time to talk and explain.

    AndThe show had two other segments, which I didn’t watch then and haven’t yet:

    Also anger in South Africa over revelations that hospitals sterilised a group of pregnant HIV-positive women without their consent. Plus how a growing number of French business schools are now offering courses on dealing with sexism in the workplace.

  21. lumipuna says

    I just heard on MSNBC that Trump plans to hold a news conference at 3 PM. Absolutely not. The press corps should under no circumstances go to this, and the media organizations should tell them not to. This can be done by video.

    It’s not like he’s going to answer questions anyway.

  22. says

    blf @3, yes, I know that washing my hands with soap and water is preferable. I have glycerol, which is the ingredient that keeps the alcohol from drying out one’s hands. Nevertheless, your cautionary note is correct. Thanks.

    In other news: The next Democratic presidential primary debate will be held in Washington DC, and there will be no live audience. That debate was scheduled to be in Phoenix tomorrow, but it has been moved. CNN has also scrapped the “spin” and “press” rooms.

    There’s also one change in moderators:

    […] Univision anchor and moderator Jorge Ramos was recently in proximity with a person who was in direct contact with another person who tested positive for coronavirus. While Ramos and that other individual are symptom free while Ramos was cleared by medical professionals, he will not participate in the upcoming debate.

    Univision, which is hosting the debate in conjunction with CNN, will instead have anchor Ilia Calderón fill his moderating role.

  23. says

    On this coming Tuesday, four more Democratic presidential primaries will be held. Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio have all added sanitizing and other cleaning measures to the upkeep of polling sites. Those states are also encouraging voting by mail. They have also set up facilities to wash hands with soap and water.

    There will be some confusion about polling sites because some were moved out of nursing homes. Some states spread voting out over several days in order to lessen the chances of large crowds. “Curbside voting” is available in some Arizona locations.

    Some congressional proposals:

    Sen. Ron Wyden did introduce a bill Wednesday that would require states to offer vote-by-mail options or options to drop off paper ballots in person if a quarter of the states declare a state of emergency related to COVID-19 or some other disaster.

    “No voter should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right and putting their health at risk,” the Oregon Democrat said in a statement Wednesday. His bill would provide $500 million in funding for states to implement emergency voting measures. […]

    Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, who is running in Georgia’s open 7th District after nearly unseating retiring GOP Rep. Rob Woodall in 2018, said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp should let people vote by mail if Kemp declares a state of emergency. The Republican governor on Thursday confirmed the state’s first death due to the virus.

    “It’s pretty simple: Voting shouldn’t put your health at risk,” Bourdeaux said.

    Roll Call link

  24. says

    Additional Trump lies, (less consequential than his lies about coronavirus, but still disturbing):

    Donald Trump claimed yesterday that more than 100,000 people had already requested tickets to upcoming event in Tampa. As the Associated Press reported, that’s “an impossibility since the campaign had not yet announced the event or made tickets available.”

  25. says

    Dan Pfeiffer re the Louisiana primary news: “Every state should move immediately to vote by mail and before you scream that this is partisan, just think about which party would be hurt if people over 70 are too scared to go the polls.”

    Related to this, there are good reasons people are calling for a declaration of a state of emergency, but states of emergency are extraordinarily dangerous to democracy and everyone needs to be constantly vigilant about how one is being used.

  26. Akira MacKenzie says

    The humanitarian crisis about to unfold will consume what’s left of this president [sic] and the Republican party that surrendered its self-respect and sense of duty to flatter his ego and avoid his angry tweets.

    Oh, I wish that were true. However, Rank-and-File idiots like my father will continue to support the GOP and right-wing thugs like Trump as long as they promise lower taxes and protect their guns, Christian dogma, and ability to kick minorities around. Besides, we all know its really the Democrats, illegal aliens, Muslim terrorists, and George Soros who are spreading the virus to destroy ‘Murica.

  27. says

    Macron: “Following my call with @realDonaldTrump and all G7 leaders, we agreed to organize an extraordinary Leaders Summit by videoconference on Monday on Covid-19. We will coordinate research efforts on a vaccine and treatments, and work on an economic and financial response.”

  28. says

    Marc Elias: “I am getting a lot of questions about the November election. While states can set their own primary days, the federal general election is set by federal statute as the the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This date cannot be changed by a state nor by the President.”

  29. says

    From BuzzFeed:

    The Trump administration is moving ahead with its plan to enact strict work requirements on people who use food stamps despite the coronavirus pandemic — a move that could result in hundreds of thousands of people losing their eligibility for the program. People could soon be forced to work public-facing jobs when they should stay home or else risk losing access to the assistance they get to buy food.

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services…. [M]onths into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic. That’s making it harder for states to quickly sign up poor patients for coverage so they can get necessary testing or treatment if they are exposed to coronavirus.

    From Sara Rosenbaum, a Medicaid expert at George Washington University:

    Medicaid could be the nation’s biggest public health responder, but it’s such an object of ire in this administration. Their ideology is clouding their response to a crisis.

  30. says

    Oh, FFS. In reference to the coronavirus, Senator Tom Cotton (trumpian lickspittle) said that Americans will “hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world.”

    Cotton’s statement:

    I have every confidence America will once again marshal the resolve, toughness, and genius of our people to overcome the serious threat to our health and well-being posed by the Wuhan coronavirus. We will emerge stronger from this challenge, we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world, and we will prosper in the new day.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] The fact that Cotton repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as “the Wuhan coronavirus” was not an accident. The GOP senator started floating a conspiracy theory about China and the virus last month, and many on the right have effectively tried to rebrand the virus as a way to blame China for the crisis.

    But it was that other line — “we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world” — that stood in unsettling ways.

    It’s also deeply unproductive. Politico reported this morning that the “escalating drumbeat against China is worrying some public health experts, who say the attempts to blame Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak could harm efforts to combat the spreading contagion, while winning praise from others. And it’s come amid conspiracy theories and counteraccusations from Chinese officials, some of whom are alleging the virus’s true origins lie outside China, in what U.S. officials say is a malicious effort to shift blame.” […]

    Trump seems increasingly eager to toe this line: in his Oval Office address this week, the president mentioned China five times in roughly 11 minutes, including the first sentence, which emphasized that the outbreak “started in China.” […]


  31. says

    Bloomberg and NBC are reporting that Trump will invoke the 1988 Stafford Act to declare a national emergency. This will free up federal aid and money to state authorities battling outbreaks around the country.

    The declaration will unlock FEMA funds and resources to help states manage elements of the crisis that exceed their own capacity. The USA currently has $40 billion in the FEMA disaster fund.

    From TPM:

    Obama FEMA administrator Craig Fugate told TPM on Wednesday that this could extend to everything from financial help to field hospitals and quarantine housing.

  32. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 49.

    From TPM reporter Matt Shuham:

    […] “It’s stunning” and “nonsense” to assert that the U.S. has a sufficient stockpile of ventilators to care for the potential spike in novel coronavirus infections in months to come, said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. […]

    Pressed multiple times on the United States’ ventilator capacity, Verma ultimately said that the government had received “a couple requests for ventilators” from hospitals but asserted “we have ventilators in our stockpile.”

    Verma also repeatedly stressed the importance of mitigation measures to ease the stress on hospitals.

    “The stockpile is there and we hope that it is adequate,” Verma told CNN. “But I think it is important to know that’s why we’re focusing so much on the prevention of this and trying to mitigate the spread. So we don’t create a situation where our whole healthcare system is unduly stressed.”

    But Redlener warned that the demand from COVID-19 could overwhelm the current capacity of the U.S. health care system.

    “We are so incredibly under-prepared for a major onslaught to the hospitals, which is basically now inevitable,” he said.

    Redlener said he believed the United States was in “worse shape” than Italy, where some hospitals are currently overwhelmed due to COVID-19. […]


    Seems to me that Seema Verma believes that Trump’s happy talk actually works.

  33. says

    Trump is still more concerned about the ratings on his handling of coronavirus than he is about actually addressing the crisis.

    [This morning], Donald Trump tweeted praise for his handling of the coronavirus, attacks on how the H1N1 virus was handled in 2009, and a claim that his handling of the crisis has a “78% Approval Rating, the highest on record,” while the way Barack Obama and Joe Biden handled a previous pandemic was “lowest.”

    The problem isn’t that Trump is using an approval rating that isn’t from a poll but from an RNC mailing to donors. The problem is that Trump continues to demonstrate not the least bit of concern over the actual damage being done to anything but his ratings. He’s not focused on results. He’s focused on the perception of results. Which is what happens when someone spends his entire life as a huckster and a fraud. […]

    it’s clear at this point that Trump will continue to deal with this crisis not by dealing with it, but by claiming that it’s being dealt with. Trump will continue to claim that tests are available, even when experts on his own coronavirus team are calling the availability of testing a failure. Compare and contrast:

    “We have a tremendous testing set up where people coming in have to be tested”— Donald Trump.

    “The idea of anybody getting [testing] easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. I think it should be, but we’re not.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci

    […] That Trump’s claims are disconnected from the reality around him are clear. His Wednesday night address to the nation sent the stock markets into an immediate crash when it became obvious that, despite more than three months having elapsed since the World Health Organization began warning of the emerging epidemic, Trump had absolutely no plan. Instead, he chose to use the most critical moment of his time in the White House to label the pandemic a “foreign virus” and create a pointless policy meant more to punish leaders who had snickered at him during the last NATO summit than to do anything about stopping the further spread of the virus. […]


    Ah, yes, I had forgotten about the snickering at Trump during the last NATO summit.

  34. says

    Thank goodness for Nancy Pelosi. She is actually getting something done.

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are reportedly on the verge of an agreement on a coronavirus response package that would protect working families from the worst of the pandemic’s economic impact. The deal, as reported, includes versions of many of the provisions of the House Democrats’ bill unveiled earlier.

    “We’ve resolved most of our differences, and those we haven’t we’ll continue to have a conversation […]” Pelosi told reporters.

    The deal, as reported, includes 14 days of paid sick leave for workers who are sick or quarantined, with tax credits to smaller businesses to cover those costs. It expands unemployment benefits, lifts work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, adds funding for food aid programs, and adds funding for Medicaid.

    The key piece still unresolved Thursday night was family and medical leave. The Democrats’ plan had included up to three months of such leave not just for when workers themselves are sick but also for caring for family members, including kids who are home due to school closures.

    Coronavirus testing would be free for everyone, including uninsured people.

    Presumably the devil is in the details, but it sure sounds like Democrats got a lot of what they wanted to do to help people struggling to get by.

    While the House will vote Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has adjourned the Senate for the weekend and gone home to Kentucky, so the Senate won’t take up the bill until at least Monday. […]


  35. blf says

    Lynna@50, Calling Covid-19 the Wuhan coronavirus has been, for some time now, irritating Big China, causing some eejits there to hit back with absurd conspiracies, American coronavirus: China pushes propaganda casting doubt on virus origin:

    Diplomats, state media and officials in China encourage idea that Covid-19 came from the US

    […] Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is asked whether there may have been deaths attributed to influenza that could actually have been the result of Covid-19. Redfield responds in the affirmative: “Some cases have been actually diagnosed that way in the United States today.”

    Redfield’s vague answer was enough to add fuel to a conspiracy theory that has been gaining traction over the past two weeks in China — that the coronavirus did not originate in China but may have come from the US instead.

    The US has finally acknowledged that among those who had died of the influenza previously were cases of the coronavirus. The true source of the virus was the US! one commentator said. The US owes the world, especially China, an apology, another said. American coronavirus, one wrote.

    The theory has gained traction over the past few weeks, after a respected epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, said in a passing remark at a press conference on 27 February that although the virus first appeared in China “it may not have originated in China”.

    Zhong later clarified his statement, saying that the first place where a disease is discovered does not “equate to it being the source”. He told reporters: “But neither can we conclude that the virus came from abroad. Only through investigation and tracing can we answer that question.”

    Yet only Zhong’s first comment has stuck, repeated by Chinese diplomats, state media and officials who have subtly encouraged the idea.

    On Thursday, a foreign ministry spokesman suggested without evidence the US military might have brought the virus to the Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak. Zhao Lijian accused the US of lacking transparency, saying on Twitter: When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!

    A reminder that Big China prevents Island China (Taiwan) from being part of WHO, so Taiwan is having to obtain / report indirectly (via the States, I think). Plus the early antics, like the suppression of whistle-blowers and not acknowledging human-to-human transmission until late January.

    Officials have framed the campaign as a protest against the “politicisation” of the outbreak by countries such as the US, where some officials have continued to use the terms Chinese coronavirus or Wuhan virus, despite the World Health Organization’s discouragement. But analysts say China may be looking to deflect blame as the coronavirus spreads around the world.

    “We might be heading into first global recession caused by Chinese Communist party mismanagement,” wrote Bill Bishop, author of the China newsletter Sinocism. “Previous manmade disasters in China since 1949 never really spread outside the People’s Republic of China’s borders in meaningful ways.”

    “This time looks to be different … And that is likely one of the reasons the propaganda apparatus and PRC officials are pushing so hard the idea that virus may not have originated in China,” he wrote.


    For weeks, Chinese state media pointed to a seafood market in Wuhan as the likely origin for the virus while researchers said the source had not yet been determined, but few have floated the idea that it came from outside of China. Another respected Chinese researcher, Zhang Wenhong, said in an interview with the China Daily that he did not believe the virus had been imported into China.

    “If that was the case, we should have seen patients emerging from different regions in the country around the same time rather than their concentration in Wuhan,” he said, in comments that later appeared to have been removed from the interview.


    “This is a propaganda effort aimed at the domestic audience. Among the Chinese public, there is a general awareness that delays in notifying the public led to many more infections in Wuhan,” said Victor Shih, a politics professor at the University of California, San Diego.

    He said: “This campaign is aimed at distracting the public from the party’s delayed response.”

  36. blf says

    Follow-up to @55 (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    The US State Department has summoned the Chinese ambassador over a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson’s comments about claims that the US military was responsible for bringing the new coronavirus to the province of Wuhan at the start of the outbreak.

  37. says

    Trump, Still Hoping to Slash CDC Funds, Blames CDC for Coronavirus Fiasco

    He also repeated his lie about Obama and the swine flu.

    […] Trump claimed [today], without evidence, that the federal agency had for decades sat idle on efforts to build an adequate testing system—a situation he blamed former President Barack Obama for supposedly exacerbating. Trump’s latest twitter fusillade comes despite the fact that his administration has directly controlled the CDC for more than three years. The president then repeated the lie that his predecessor failed to act on the H1N1 outbreak—commonly known as the swine flu—until thousands had already died.

    The truth: The Obama administration acted months before the World Health Organization declared the swine flu a pandemic. On April 26, 2009—with only 20 confirmed cases of the disease and no deaths in the US—Obama’s Health and Human Services chief declared it a public health emergency. “The emergency declaration in the United States lets the government free more money for antiviral drugs and give some previously unapproved tests and drugs to children,” the New York Times reported at the time. “One-quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million courses of antiflu drugs will be released.”

    In October of that year, Obama declared it a national emergency—in addition to his earlier designation of a public health emergency—in order to allow the US to greenlight plans that included creating offsite emergency rooms.

    Trump now appears to be deliberately distorting the timeline in order to escape the current criticism, adding to an already inflammatory track record of misinformation around the virus. His newest attack against the CDC comes as his administration refuses to drop its plans to slash the agency’s funding, even with the current coronavirus pandemic.

  38. says

    Katie Porter did the math.

    I did the math: a full battery of coronavirus testing costs at minimum $1,331.

    I also did the legal research: the Administration has the authority to make testing free for every American TODAY.

    I secured a commitment from a high-level Trump official that they’d actually do it.

    Video available at the link.

    If you add isolation to the emergency room visit, that will cost approximately $4,000 more.

    Katie Porter’s former law professor was Elizabeth Warren.

  39. says

    Fox News During the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Awful Even by Fox News Standards

    Which is really saying something.

    On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity informed the viewers of his nightly Fox News program that—and I am not being hyperbolic—the thing to know about the novel coronavirus was that the Trump administration had done a great job containing it. “No president has ever done more, acted more quickly, to slow the spread of a disease,” Hannity declared […]

    Since the novel coronavirus first came to America, many marquee Fox personalities have been rushing to diminish its seriousness while simultaneously blaming everyone but the Trump administration for the virus’s rapid spread across the United States […] On Wednesday, as he has done all week, Hannity argued that the novel coronavirus was less of a threat than the seasonal flu. “There have been 1,200 cases of corona versus 34 million cases of the flu,” Hannity said. “As the senior director at Johns Hopkins pointed out this week, the flu is having much more of an impact than coronavirus. These are facts.”


    On her own program Wednesday night, Laura Ingraham echoed Hannity’s skepticism. “Where the risk is minimal, the business of America must go on,” she said. “FDR told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” […]

    On this matter, as on so many other things, Regan, Ingraham, and Hannity are dead wrong. First of all, it beggars belief to say that the Trump administration has done an exemplary job of containing the spread of the coronavirus. “This is an unmitigated disaster that the administration has brought upon the population, and I don’t say this lightly,” Harvard Global Health Institute director Ashish Jha told Bloomberg; on Twitter,

    Georgetown University global health law professor Lawrence Gostin called Trump’s temporary European travel ban “incoherent.” Second, in point of fact, COVID-19 isn’t just a more mild version of the flu. It’s something different, and it is incredibly dangerous for the elderly and immunocompromised. Fox News is risking its aged viewers’ lives by downplaying the risks of COVID-19. The network’s coverage here is grossly irresponsible. […]

    far from canceling out the dreck, the more reasonable takes on Fox News just serve to enable the worst takes.

    There are some situations that even Fox News would be hard-pressed to ignore or wave away: an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, other actual disasters. You’d think that a true global pandemic in which many thousands of Americans might die would rise to that level, and if many thousands of Americans do start dying, perhaps Fox News will shift its tone.

    If the network does start treating the coronavirus outbreak seriously, expect it to do so in the most reactionary way possible: to use the pandemic as an excuse to amplify xenophobic themes, promote gross nativism, bash Democrats as the real villains of the coronavirus story, and argue in favor of consolidating power in the hands of Donald Trump. In times of pandemic and in times of peace, Fox News wants its viewers to be afraid of what it wants them to be afraid of, to believe what it tells them to believe.

  40. says

    More commentary on how the coronavirus pandemic has brought out the worst in Trump:

    […] In most global crises, the United States takes the lead and provides comfort and assurances to the world. In this one, Trump has been mostly AWOL. When he does appear, it is to blame the disease on foreigners and announce policies that are designed to reinforce that view. The broad collapse in global markets is surely in part a reaction to the vast vacuum of leadership in the White House.

    Trump views everything from the narcissistic prism of his ego. He dismisses opposing views and insists that even the senior-most members of his administration repeatedly praise him and his leadership at all times. Watching the heads of America’s leading science agencies prefacing their statements with ritual praise for the “dear leader” has been depressing.

    Come to think of it, the Trump administration has been copying the wrong Korea. Instead of the intelligence and expertise of South Korea, it is emulating the sycophancy, incompetence and propaganda of North Korea.

    Washington Post link

  41. blf says

    In 2012, as part of a UK-wide plan to encourage less carbon emissions, N.Ireland set up a so-called “cash for ash” scheme, intended to subsidize conversion to more sustainable fuels. This went badly wrong when it was noticed the subsidies were unlimited and greater than the cost of wood pellets, so people started burning them like crazy just for payments. Ultimately, when the “D”UP refused to take the blame for the fiasco (Arlene Foster, “D”UP leader, was in charge of the scheme), Sinn Féin walked out of Stormont (N.Irish parliament), leading to years of no-government in N.Ireland and the “D”UPs infamous cash-for-support deal with the nasty party to support brexit. (Both the “D”UP and Sinn Féin got their arses handed back to them in the December elections, with the result Stormont is now meeting again.)

    The long-waited findings of an investigation have now been published. Astonishingly, they claim there was no corruption; otherwise, it is largely what was expected — mismanagement and incompetence — laid out in detail, Cash-for-ash inquiry delivers damning indictment of Stormont incompetence:

    Findings lay bare ‘multiplicity of errors and omissions’ behind bungled green energy scheme

    The official report into Northern Ireland’s cash-for-ash scandal has issued a blistering indictment of incompetence by the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), special advisers and civil servants at Stormont.


    Sir Patrick Coghlin, the inquiry chairman, faulted Arlene Foster, the first minister and DUP leader who presided over the scheme, for not reading her own department’s legislation.

    “To do so is a core part of a minister’s job,” he said, and criticised the behaviour of some ministers and special advisers as “wholly inappropriate”.

    However, Coghlin absolved participants of corruption […]

    “Corrupt or malicious activity on the part of officials, ministers or special advisers was not the cause of what went wrong with the NI RHI [N.Ireland Renewable Heat Initiative] scheme … rather, the vast majority of what went wrong was due to an accumulation of errors and omissions over time and a failure of attention, on the part of all those involved in their differing roles, to identify the existence, significance or implications of those errors and omissions.”


    The scheme started in 2012 as a well-intentioned UK-wide effort to reduce carbon emissions by switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

    But Northern Ireland lifted cost controls, turning wood pellet boilers into a de facto licence to print money — hundreds of millions of pounds over 20 years, according to some early estimates — in the mistaken belief British taxpayers would pick up the tab.

    “Responsibility for what went wrong lay not just with one individual or group, but with a broad range of persons and organisations involved, across a variety of areas relating to the design, approval, management and administration of the RHI scheme throughout its life,” said the report.

    “Across those different areas, there was a multiplicity of errors and omissions. There were repeated missed opportunities to identify and correct, or seek to have others correct, the flaws in the scheme.”


    The scandal’s origins lie in a 2012 decision by Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (since renamed the Department for the Economy), then run by Foster, to make the subsidy more valuable than the cost of wood pellets used to heat boilers. Nor did it cap the total subsidy.

    Word spread that boilers meant profits, and the more boilers and the more you burned, the richer you became. The result was a scramble to install boilers and run them 24/7.


  42. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I also love Camus’ “The Plague”. It represents the most mature presentation of his philosophy and his view of humanity. I think it is ultimately very optimistic–as eventually, at great cost, humans acknowledge reality and do what it takes to survive. I wish I had that optimism.

  43. says


    EXCLUSIVE: Today’s holy wow from @NatGeo @michaelgreshko:

    *ALL* of the Dead Sea Sscrolls in Washington D.C.’s Museum of the Bible are forgeries.

    All. 16. Of. Them.

    Collectors, scholars and museum experts were all duped by fakes made in modern times.

  44. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    So, we have the Yanks calling the Wuhan virus and the Chinese claiming it came from the US. Reminds me of the clap–called the English disease by the French and the French disease by the Brits.

  45. KG says

    “The UK government’s coronavirus strategy and the plan to build up herd immunity is facing mounting growing criticism from the scientific community.”

    The plan to what?!!!! – SC@34

    Yes, this is utterly bixarre and deeply alarming. The UK government appears to have decided that sacrificing lives now in order to build up “herd immunity” is a worthwhile trade – their Chief Scientific Advisor has made it explicit that they don’t want to stop it spreading altogether, just to “flatten the peak”, on the grounds that if it is suppressed hard now, it might recur in autumn and then strain the NHS to breaking point. I disagree, as do the Director-General of the WHO, and most European governments. The experiences of China and South Korea suggest that halting COVID-19’s spread before most of the population are infected may be possible in the UK. I wish I was sure it was too cynical to wonder if the government are seeing some potential advantages in additional tens of thousands* of the old andor chronically sick dying over the next few months**. The decision has come under considerable criticism, both from medical experts and from the chair of the Commons Select Committee on Health, the Tory former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. I hope this criticism will grow to the extent that the policy is reversed.

    *To achieve any useful degree of herd immunity, surely a considerable proportion of the population would have to acquire immunity by being infected. Say a minimum of 10,000,000 in the UK population of roughly 66,000,000. Even if the true death rate from infection is only 0.1%, that means 10,000 deaths. And AFAIK, it’s not even known at this point how far recovered individuals are immune to reinfection, let alone whether improved treatments or preventive measures (e.g. if masks can be shown to work, manufacturing enough for all) could be available by autumn. Those months certainly give time to make more facilities for intensive care available, and to make other preparations for a renewed outbreak.

    **The government’s new immigration policy, which will make it very hard for those without qualifications and good english to enter, are predicted to cause huge problems for the already highly-stressed social care system for the elderly and chronically sick. A reduction in the numbers needing care would of course reduce the pressure on the system.

  46. says

    Wired – “What Emergency Declarations Can (and Can’t) Do in a Pandemic”:

    …Emergency powers change the legal landscape and allow for coordinative efforts among public and private sectors. State governors can allocate resources, tap state funds, make emergency regulations, prohibit price-gouging, and waive or suspend laws impeding effective responses. Health care workers and other front-line responders receive special privileges and limited protections from liability as they implement crisis standards of care. Some states’ emergency declarations confer paid sick and safe time benefits to individuals adhering to public health measures or require insurers to cover costs of Covid-19 tests (as the CDC and Vice President Pence have proposed).

    These and other relatively noncontroversial interventions extend for the duration of the declared emergencies, ranging from a few weeks to several months. Some emergency public health powers, however, raise Americans’ concerns, such as expeditious testing, screening, surveillance, and contact tracing efforts. Other powers to create social distance among individuals through separations, restrictions, closures, and curfews further heighten fears and require proper balancing of individual liberties and other rights….

    (They might want to fix “can be transmitted by asymptotic people.”)

  47. says

    G liveblog: “Nadine Dorries, a junior health minister in the UK’s government who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week, says her mother has now been confirmed as having contracted the virus.”

    Her mother is 84.

  48. says

    Coverage from TPM of Trump’s announcement:

    […] Trump officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a national emergency on Friday afternoon after weeks of downplaying the disease.

    “I am officially declaring a state of emergency,” he said in a press conference front of the White House. “Two very big words.”

    The announcement will trigger the 1988 Stafford Act, which will grant states crucial funding to combat the disease.

    Trump finally made the declaration amid growing pressure from states urging for federal assistance. The President was reportedly reluctant to do so because he was worried that such a declaration would undermine his repeated claim that the coronavirus was less dangerous than the flu.

    The administration had failed to provide clear communication on the outbreak to state leaders or a sufficient number of testing tools to state and local health care workers.

  49. says

    From readers comments on the article mentioned in comment 74:

    I just heard the beginning of his announcement on the radio. He pronounced it the “caronan” virus. It’s probably just me but this breathtakingly stupid son-of-a-[B-word] is not inspiring confidence.

    What struck me was:

    Trump is sniffing even more than usual.

    Alarmingly, the phrase “waive laws” was used multiple times. I’ll look for a transcript.

  50. says

    Trump is actually bringing corporate executives up to the mic for some free advertising and shaking their hands as they approach/walk away. Everyone’s touching the microphone and lectern. It’s disturbing.

  51. says

    Pence in full-out sycophant mode. I didn’t think it was possible for him to lose credibility at this point, but he is. Pretending he never told all of his previous lies. More free ads for the corporations.

  52. says

    A few media outlets are starting to post comments about Trump’s announcement:

    […] Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in his latest bid to combat the escalating coronavirus crisis.

    Trump said the move would free up $50 billion in additional funding. He also said he would allow Health and Human Services to waive certain regulations and laws to more quickly deliver testing and care for coronavirus patients.

    “No resource will be spared,” Trump said.

    Trump’s decision comes after his administration has faced weeks of criticism for failing to adequately respond to the spreading disease, which has killed more than 5,000 people worldwide and infected tens of thousands. […]

    “To unleash the full power of the federal government under this effort today, I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” he said. “Two very big words.”

    But Trump also outlined a series of agreements with private companies, including Google and Walgreen’s, in part to allow Americans to be tested more quickly for the coronavirus. He mentioned a website Google was setting up “to determine whether a test is warranted,” and said major retailers like Walmart would set aside part of their parking lots for testing sites.

    Trump said he expected 1.4 million additional tests to be available next week and five million within a month. [How many times now have we heard promises like that!]

    Trump’s decision comes amid condemnation over the administration’s failure to provide adequate testing and resources for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 5,000 people worldwide and infected tens of thousands. Health experts have also reprimanded Trump for repeatedly downplaying what has now been deemed a global pandemic.

    “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said of the struggles to produce enough tests, blaming existing rules set by prior administration for limiting his options.

    […] “We’re doing a great job,” Trump said. […]


  53. says

    No, there’s not enough testing.

    Colorado health officials turn people away from drive-thru COVID-19 testing as state struggles to meet demand

    At Miami’s public hospital, doctors and nurses ‘begging’ to do coronavirus tests

    Sick People Across the U.S. Say They Are Being Denied the Coronavirus Test, New York Times link, Excerpt:

    […] They said they do think it is possible that I have the virus,” said Ms. King, who spent five hours in the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital on Wednesday. “They said they really want to test me.”

    A doctor told her she did not meet the criteria since she had not traveled abroad or had any contact with a person who had tested positive, but because she was so sick he tried to get an exemption from the state’s Department of Public Health. When it was not granted, doctors sent her home, where she plans to stay in self-quarantine for 14 days.

    The number of tests in Massachusetts were said to be so scarce that even people who were in close contact with some of the dozens who tested positive at a recent Biogen conference have not been given the test. At least one Biogen employee has been ordered to quarantine at home, but he has not been given the test because he is not showing symptoms. […]

    Several state labs in California have been unable to use some of the state’s more than 8,000 test kits because the kits lack chemical ingredients known as reagents, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a briefing on Thursday. […]

    In Washington State, where at least 378 people have tested positive and 31 have died, public health officials spoke of having to ration the tests and living hand-to-mouth with testing supplies. “At this time we are limiting testing to preserve availability for our most vulnerable,” said Debra Carnes, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Columbia Network, a nonprofit health system that operates clinics in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. […]

    One mother in Kitsap County, Wash., said her doctor told her that the state was so low on tests that only one of her children could be tested.

    That left many anxious people with mild symptoms running a never-ending gantlet: primary care doctors referred them to state public health officials, who referred them to emergency rooms, who referred them back to primary care doctors. Some patients said they gave up and went into self-quarantine, and had to make peace with the idea that they will never know for sure if they had the virus. […]

  54. says

    Followup to comment 86.

    […] “We are being crippled by our department of public health and the CDC on our ability to combat this pandemic,” one Boston doctor told CNN, calling the situation “insanity.”

    This is the reality: There are not enough tests, and the CDC’s standards for who should be tested basically ignore the possibility of community transmission. […]

    We can only look at other countries, like Italy, and guess how bad it will be. Those guesses are based on pitifully inadequate information about what’s going on in the United States right now, last week, last month, because Donald Trump did not want to admit there was a problem he hadn’t solved by limiting travel from China.

  55. says

    Coverage from Wonkette:

    […] Trump starts by bragging about all the ways he’s stopped coronavirus, and about the good things he said in his very bad speech Wednesday.

    He looks and sounds unwell, but then again he always does, so it’s hard to tell.

    3:32: Trump just said he’s opening up $50 billion and “very importantly” and “very important” and “SNIFF” and wow, he is really slurring and stumbling over his words. Reading is hard, you guys. Anyway, NATIONAL EMERGY NATIONAL EMERGY NATIONAL EMERGY.

    3:35: They are going to waive requirements for hospital stays and tele-health and some other things, this is all probably fine. Maybe some of it came from Jared’s Facebook coronavirus research, on Facebook!

    3:36: They don’t want “everybody running out” and taking coronavirus tests, that would just be crazy, to test everybody! Only if you are showing “certain symptoms.” That’s cool. Neat.

    Now he’s thanking companies for helping him, thanking Google for making a good website to help people get tested, says Google will make very good website very fast, “unlike other websites of the past.” You just KNOW that was a shithole swipe at the rollout of Obamacare, you just KNOW.

    3:38: “This will pass! This will pass through!” We’ve learned a “tremendous amount”!

    3:39: Now Dr. Deborah Birx, who’s been on Trump’s coronavirus “task force,” such as it is, is talking. She starts by pretending one of the good ideas they have implemented came from Trump’s brain. Gotta kiss the ring!

    3:42: Birx says you couldn’t see all the brilliance Trump’s team was doing behind the scenes, but now you can, because they are finally telling you how awesome everything has been. She has a chart. This is the brilliance they have been working on that you couldn’t see. […]

    And now obviously it is time for Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart, to talk, Jesus Christ. Oh neat, you are going to get to do drive-thrus in the Walmart parking lot!

    And the Walgreens CEO is here and oh boy, everybody is here!

    3:46: Oh yay, guy from Target! And person from CVS! […]

    3:53: Trump did arm bumps with one of the CEOs! Finally somebody got him to stop touching people with his stinky hands!

    Mike Pence says today should be an “inspiration to every American” hahahahahahahahaha fuck off.

    Pence is just licking Trump’s ass now for his coronavirus response so far.

    Trump also announced he’s suspending interest on students loans and gonna buy a BONCHA oil, because it’s cheap right now, FILL ‘ER UP the strategic oil reserves!

    3:54: Wow, even for Pence, this is PRIME asslicking. […]

    3:57: Mike Pence says we gotta take care of the Olds because they took care of us when we were younger and helped us with our homework and stuff, DON’T ABANDON NANA, OK?

    And Seema Verma, that cartoon villain dickhead who oversees Medicare and Medicaid, is now going to talk more about nursing homes.

    3:59: Trump says there is website for coronavirus and it is “very heavily used right now,” he’s gotta say, and he’s just learned a lot about coronavirus lately, oh boy, he’s gotta say, and he doesn’t want people to get coronavirus, and it’s just crazy what’s happen with the sports, “so many of the great sports that we’ve gotten used to” aren’t even playing right now, thank you to sports …

    We’re back to gibberish.

    4:03: Trump says things will get better, but maybe it will get worse! He says the doctors say coronavirus is going to “wash through, flow through,” and he just thinks that’s pretty scientifically accurate, the washing, and also the flowing.

    […] REPORTER: Hey, the fuck is going on with the House bill Pelosi is literally passing this afternoon?

    TRUMP: They’re not giving enough! They’re just not giving enough! […]

    4:06: REPORTER: Bolsonaro has the corona. Lindsey Graham is in quarantine. Where have your hands been?

    [Part of Trump’s reply is that he barely knows any of the people with coronavirus that he has been pictured with recently.]

    4:08: NBC’S KRISTIN WELKER: Dr. Fauci literally said America’s testing so far has been a failure. Do you take responsibility for that?

    TRUMP: No.

    WELKER: When can people actually get tests?

    Dr. Fauci takes over to try to clean up the mess.

    4:09: Oh here we go, Trump’s gonna bitch about swine flu, because blaming Obama for this is his new thing. We knew the real Trump would come out. “Ask ’em how they did with the swine flu, it was a disaster!” […]

    4:10: REPORTER: So your whole travel ban that excludes the UK was basically for your own personal benefit, probably?

    TRUMP: Words that are not really an answer.

    4:13: REPORTER: So Rick Scott and the Miami mayor were exposed the same way you are, are you saying they should not be self-quarantining?

    TRUMP: NO NO NO NO CORONA! NO NO NO NO CORONA! I am skeered the test will hurt. […]

    4:24: YAMICHE ALCINDOR: You said you don’t take responsibility, but you literally killed the office in the administration that deals with this shit.

    TRUMP: Nasty woman! [Yep, he really used the word “nasty,” but it was in the phrase, “that’s a nasty question.”]

    4:28: REPORTER: Please give us some science advice on whether Americans should travel domestically. Also again, you’ve been exposed, what the fuuuuuuck?

    TRUMP: I did hundreds of pictures that night! And then I sat with Bolsonaro for two hours! I could have infected everyone! But I didn’t because […] I am very healthy […]

    DIFFERENT REPORTER: Dr. Fauci literally said if you stood next to somebody with coronavirus you need to be tested, but you’re saying the White House doctor says something different? WTF?

    TRUMP: People say I was in a picture, but I haven’t seen the picture, NO CORONAS! People shouldn’t just get tested because they want to, but probably I will get tested, I don’t know.

    MIKE PENCE: My turn to talk, but quick nobody mention how I was also exposed. […]

    4:36: Trump says he has a good relationship with California Governor Gavin Newsom, because Newsom complimented his very stable genius response to coronavirus.


    CEO: We’ll get some when we get it!

    REPORTER: Seriously?

    Trump also answers a question about the cruise inDUSTry, because that’s how he says it. InDUSTry. Nobody has ever told him that’s not how you fucking say it, and he doesn’t speak good English.

    4:39: Now all the coronavirus task force is taking turns saying “wash your hands.” Awesome. HHS Secretary Azar clarifies that you use hot water and soap. […]


  56. says

    More activation of the National Guard:

    Roughly 400 National Guard personnel have been activated in six states to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus, with another 600 expected to join them within 24 hours, the National Guard Bureau announced Friday.

    “As of this morning, about 400 Air and Army National Guard professionals in six states — Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island and Washington — are providing personnel in support of civil authority at the direction of their governors in response to COVID-19,” the National Guard said.

    “As other states are requested to support civil authorities, those numbers will change rapidly. By the end of the day we expect that number to approach 1,000.” […]


  57. KG says

    Further to my #68, the UK government’s Chief Scientific Officer’s own estimate for the proportion of the population who would need to be infected in order for herd immunity to work is 60% – that’s about 40,000,000 people in the UK. The idea, apparently, is that vulnerable people will avoid infection while these 40,000,000 are getting infected, by staying at home. It’s completely doolally, given that it appears infected but asymptomatic people can pass the infection on, and most of the vulnerable will be living with others who are not so classified. The stupidest decision of all (in the UK – clearly we’re aiming to compete with the USA in this arena) is that testing is now being confined to hospital cases, with community testing ended! This is directly contrary to WHO guidelines. Not only should all traceable contacts of known cases be tested, there should be a programme of random testing to identify areas where there are clusters of cases. If I die (I’m at least on the edge of the “vulnerable” group, due to age and a pre-existing condition), blame Alexander Boris de Pfeffel johnson.

  58. says

    Today’s Guardian coronavirus liveblog.

    From there:

    The Spanish government have drafted a decree to put the country into lockdown, according to reports in the Spanish media.

    The reports say that Spaniards will be told to stay home except to buy food or medical supplies, go to hospital, work or in the case of other emergencies.

    I’ll update you when we get official confirmation on this.

  59. says

    Well done.

    Here’s this week’s episode of Chris Hayes’ podcast – “The Origins of a Disaster with Adam Higginbotham”:

    In April of 1986 a nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the then Soviet Union. The fallout from the accident and the Soviet government’s response compounded into one of the worst manmade disasters of the nuclear era. In his masterful work of nonfiction, Midnight In Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham weaves together the stories of the individuals and systems that contributed to the creation of one of the worst disasters in human history. It is not only a sharp eyed and empathetic look at Chernobyl, but it is a particularly timely story about all the things that fall together to create disaster.

  60. says

    Boris Johnson once said his political hero was the mayor in ‘Jaws’, praising him for defying mass hysteria to keep the beaches open after a constituent is eaten by a shark. As the coronavirus now stampedes across the world, he’s heeding the same principle.”

    NYT link atl.

  61. KG says

    Thanks SC@98. There are now several petitions to the UK Parliament asking for the government approach to be changed – any that reach 100,000 signatures are considered for debate in Parliament. None yet include what I think is the single most important point – the need to test, test, and test.

  62. says

    From last night: “JUST IN: White House puts out memo from Trump’s physician saying his exposure to two people who developed coronavirus doesn’t require self-quarantine or a test.”

    And now he’s doing a press conference in a crowded room and saying he had the test and is awaiting the results.

  63. blf says

    Orac, COVID-19 pandemic: An opportunity for quackery:

    [… U]nder the “leadership” of an arrogant incompetent orange ignoramus with a massive ego that requires constant sycophancy and stroking, who spouts misinformation on an hourly basis and will never, ever try to relieve his black hole density ignorance with actual information that experts have been desperately trying to dangle in front of him to get his interest by coupling it with “Dear Leader”-style overblown praise of his awesomeness, the COVID-19 pandemic appears, by every measure, ready to explode out of control. […]

    The embedded link is to David Frum’s recent article in The Atlantic, The Worst Outcome:

    If somebody other than Donald Trump were in the White House, the coronavirus crisis would not be unfolding this way.

    At every turn, President Trump’s policy regarding coronavirus has unfolded as if guided by one rule: How can I make this crisis worse? [emphasis in original]

    Presidents are not all-powerful, especially not in the case of pandemic disease. There are limits to what they can do, for good or ill. But within those limits, at every juncture, Trump’s actions have ensured the worst possible outcomes. The worst outcome for public health. The worst outcome for the American economy. The worst outcome for American global leadership.


    Here are the things the president [sic] did not do in [the May 11th Oval Office] speech:

    He offered no guidance or policy on how to prevent the spread of the disease inside the United States. […]

    He offered no explanation of what went wrong with the US testing system, nor any assurance of when testing would become more widely available. […]

    […] Any word for those about to lose their jobs? Only the vaguest indication that something might be announced sometime soon.


    The financial markets have plunged into a 2008-style crash, auguring a recession, perhaps a severe one. The Trump administration has had almost two months to think about this crisis. It has trial-ballooned some ideas. But, of course, fiscal policy would require assent from the House of Representatives. Trump is still pouting at Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So — from some preposterously unconvincing happy talk about the economy — again: nothing.

    There was one something in the speech: a ban on travel from Europe, but not the United Kingdom. It’s a classic Trump formulation. It seeks to protect America by erecting a wall against the world, without thinking very hard how or whether the wall can work. […]

    The travel ban is an act of panic. Financial futures began crashing even as Trump was talking […] Among other things, the ban represents one more refutation by Trump of any idea of collective security against collective threats. While China offers medical assistance to Italy, he wants to sever ties to former friends — isolating America and abandoning the world.

    More people will get sick because of his presidency than if somebody else were in charge. More people will suffer the financial hardship of sickness because of his presidency than if somebody else were in charge. The medical crisis will arrive faster and last longer than if somebody else were in charge. So, too, the economic crisis. More people will lose their jobs than if somebody else were in charge. More businesses will be pushed into bankruptcy than if somebody else were in charge. More savers will lose more savings than if somebody else were in charge. […]


    And even now that he has acknowledged the crisis, he still cannot act, because he does not know what to do. His only goal now is to shove blame onto others. Americans have to face the fact that in the grip of this pandemic, the Oval Office is for all practical purposes as empty as the glazed eyes of the man who spoke from that office tonight.

  64. blf says

    Oh hair furor saying he’s been tested and is waiting results: Remember, he lies. Constantly. And is in denial. Constantly.

  65. blf says

    Contrary to Trump’s claim, Google is not building a nationwide coronavirus screening website:

    Instead, Verily is building a triage website just for the Bay Area

    Google is not working with the US government in building a nationwide website to help people determine whether and how to get a novel coronavirus test, despite what President [sic] Donald Trump said in the course of issuing an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, a much smaller trial website […] is going up. It will only be able to direct people to testing facilities in the Bay Area.

    More than an hour after Trump’s press conference, a Google communications Twitter account passed along the following statement from Verily, which is a different company inside the Alphabet corporate umbrella:

    We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing. Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area […]

    Carolyn Wang, communications lead for Verily, told The Verge that the “triage website” was initially only going to be made available to health care workers instead of the general public. Now that it has been announced the way it was, however, anybody will be able to visit it, she said. But the tool will only be able to direct people to “pilot sites” for testing in the Bay Area, though Wang says Verily hopes to expand it beyond California “over time.”

    [… other hair furor lies about the project…]

    In all, the difference between the reality of what is being built and what was promised during the press conference is very large.


  66. blf says

    Will Trump’s coronavirus travel ban work? Scientists express skepticism:

    Public health experts say that once a disease has begun circulating within a community, banning outsiders is mostly futile

    Donald Trump’s dramatic announcement this week that the US would restrict most travel from Europe caused chaos and confusion at airports, shocked the stock market and took lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic by surprise.

    What it didn’t do, according to experts, was help abate the spread of coronavirus in the US.

    [… P]ublic health experts say that once a disease has begun circulating within a community, banning outsiders is mostly futile.

    “Unfortunately, travel bans sound good,” said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health. “But we’re way past the point where simply restricting travel is a reasonable response.”

    Moreover, the US restrictions […] ban most foreign nationals from entering the US but do not bar American citizens, permanent residents or many of their family members.

    That is a “profoundly strange” policy in the face of a global pandemic, Hanage said.

    “An Italian who’s living in Italy, and a French person who’s living in Italy — and an American — and could all be just as likely to carry the virus,” noted Danielle Ompad, an epidemiologist at New York University. “The ban that Trump announced, it’s focused a little more on nationality and not exposure.”


    “[…] I’m not sure a travel ban is the best use of resources right now,” Ompad said. “Regardless of travel restrictions, the number of cases is going to increase, probably dramatically, in the next week or two.”


    If at best a travel ban may be futile, at worst it could be harmful. “It perpetuates the idea the problem is out there, not here,” said Hanage. “It perpetuates the idea that somehow, we might dodge this.”

    Travel bans can and have cause huge disruptions to people’s personal and family lives, and they also fuel racism. There are economic consequences, too, affecting not only those who work for airlines and airports but also those who depend on travel for their jobs.

    “Travel bans are generally more unhelpful than helpful, and there are so many more important things that could be being done,” said Hanage. “And yet, instead we’re talking about this. It’s frustrating.”

  67. says

    Followup to blf @115.

    Trump has now added the UK and Ireland to the European travel ban.

    […] the 30-day European travel ban implemented at midnight Friday would soon be expanded to the include the United Kingdom and Ireland.

    […] Trump confirmed the news at a press briefing Saturday.

    […] Trump said “We’re looking at it very seriously, yeah, because they’ve had a little bit of activity, unfortunately, so we’re going to be looking at that– We actually already have looked at it, and that is going to be announced.”

    The White House faced criticism for not initially including the United Kingdom in its travel ban, due to the high number of confirmed cases in the country. On Saturday, there were more than 1,100 confirmed cases in the country, and 90 confirmed cases in Ireland.

    Vice President Mike Pence said later in the press conference that the U.K. and Ireland suspension would begin on Monday at midnight Eastern Time.

    “All of our health experts presented information,” Pence said, “and made a unanimous recommendation to the President that we suspend all travel from the U.K. and Ireland.”

    Americans and legal residents in those countries, as is the case with the larger European travel suspension, can still come back to the United States, Pence confirmed.

    TPM link

    From the readers comments:

    After ordering the barn door shut two days ago, the Farmer today also ordered that the back door to the barn be shut as well.
    Critics and some Democrats noted that the horse left the barn six weeks ago.
    The farmer retorted that the barn doors were BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT and then blamed the previous barn owner for the loss of the horses, and then ordered all Mexicans to be caged.
    He must have secured “economic considerations” for certain hotel owners.

    Fun Fact: His golf courses in Turnberry and near Aberdeen have yet to turn a profit.
    If people want to be infected they will have to go to Mar-a-lago.
    Does anyone remember any press event during the Obama administration where the price of admission for speakers was to begin by saying something nice about the president?
    Ben Carson says the President is going to recommend a national day of prayer
    Japan has recorded its first case of reinfection of a person who recovered from covid-19 a month ago.

    From Philip Rucker:

    The surgeon general is giving journalists “straight talk” from the nation’s doctor and instructing the press to have no more bickering, no more partisanship, no more criticism or finger-pointing in news coverage.

    He did not mention the president’s twitter feed.

  68. says

    I noticed that during the press conference, Trump, Pence, and Mnuchin, did everything thing they could to take credit for what was really Nancy Pelosi’s work to come up with a bill to address various urgent issues that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a trumpian lickspittle from California, said, “Tonight’s deal is proof that if Republicans and Democrats work together, we can get things done for America.” As if Democrats have not been passing good legislation out of the House … only to see it die in Mitch McConnell’s wastebasket.

    About the bill Nancy Pelosi managed to negotiate with White House reps:

    The package includes additional food assistance funding, additional Medicaid funding, funds for diagnostic testing and services for the uninsured, funding for unemployment insurance, and paid leave provisions — including two weeks of paid sick leave of at least two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay.

  69. blf says

    France24 reports all restaurants, cafes, shops, &tc here in France be shut starting tomorrow; and that people only go out to buy supplies, light exercise, and to vote in tomorrow’s elections (for which a number of measures, such as hand-washing stations have been ordered).

  70. says

    Trump’s take on the result of all his blustering, posturing, lying about Google websites, shaking the hands of CEO’s, etc:


    The stock market bounce is likely to fade. So much had been lost in the preceding week that some bounce was likely. Trump wants credit.

  71. blf says

    Follow-up to @188, France to close most shops, cafes, restaurants and cinemas — [PM] Philippe:

    France will shut down cafes, shops, restaurants and cinemas to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, prime minister Éduoard Philippe has announced.

    Philippe said public transport will be kept open but asked citizens to limit their use, reported Reuters news agency.

    The closures will come into effect at midnight on Saturday. [4 hours from now]

    He told a news conference that exceptions on the shop ban would include food stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

    No idea how long this will last; I haven’t seen much info yet, but it’s also only just been announced.

  72. says

    G liveblog:

    France will shut down cafes, shops, restaurants and cinemas to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, prime minister Édouard Philippe has announced.

    Philippe said public transport will be kept open but asked citizens to limit their use, Reuters news agency reported.

    The closures will come into effect at midnight on Saturday.

    He told a news conference that exceptions on the shop ban would include food stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

  73. says

    California conservatives will hold conference featuring Bannon despite coronavirus concerns.

    […] The conservative group [California Republican Assembly] plans to soldier on with a conference of more than 200 next weekend in Tulare County that includes former White House adviser Steve Bannon and indicted former Trump aide George Papadopoulos on topics that include “the Deep State.”

    As California organizations cancel meetings left and right and the World Health Organization has labeled the Covid-19 spread a pandemic, CRA Executive Director Carl Brickey said that the group will take plenty of precautions to protect members, but dubbed the response to the coronavirus “an overreaction.”

    “What’s going to happen when we truly have a public health crisis?” he asked in an interview. “People will just go, ‘Oh jeez,’ and they won’t take it seriously.”

    Bannon is billed as the keynote speaker Saturday night at the events planned at the Visalia Lamp Liter Inn, where as many as 225 will attend the gathering of the California Republican Assembly of Tulare County, the home base of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Papadopoulos, who served time for lying to the FBI, and who just mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress, will address the group Friday about his book, “Deep State Target.”

    Brickey said Friday that the grassroots group is aware of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call to end gatherings of more than 250 and will advise older members and those with serious health conditions to “use your best judgment” in attending. […]


  74. says

    About the “straight talk” mentioned by Philip Rucker (see comment 116):

    Members of the media ripped Surgeon General Jerome Adams after he reprimanded journalists for their coverage of the White House response to the coronavirus.

    Many journalists suggested Adams was imposing a double standard with his criticism of “partisanship” in the media’s reports of the coronavirus because he did not mention remarks from President Trump that have blamed Democrats for their alleged role in the pandemic’s spread.

    “Quite a prescription from the surgeon general. Reporters are reporting after a series of mess ups by the government in their response to the coronavirus,” said New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman.

    “Um… did the Surgeon General just tell US to take coronavirus seriously (has he met his boss??) and did he just order Americans not to criticize the president?” added MSNBC host Joy Reid. […]


    From Bashar Ali:

    Someone tell the Surgeon General that it is not his place to talk about bickering or partisanship from the White House podium.

    His job is to talk about matters of public health.


    More from the article:

    […] “We really need you all to lean into and prioritize the health and safety of the American people. No more bickering, no more partisanship, no more criticism or finger-pointing. There’ll be plenty of time for that,” Adams said during a White House press conference Saturday.

    Adams appeared to be responding to media reports citing delays in the availability of coronavirus test kits, which critics have said exacerbated the spread of the virus.

    Trump and other officials have maintained that the administration reacted swiftly when cases were first confirmed in the U.S., but state officials have said they did not receive an adequate number of test kits to properly contain the pandemic. Trump has also repeatedly said Democrats are hyping up the coronavirus to hinder his reelection effort.

    Some journalists responded to Adams’s remarks by saying that not holding the government’s feet to the fire would put the country in danger.

    “Surgeon General admonishes reporters that they should not be holding government officials accountable for their actions. The real danger to the nation’s health is not to,” tweeted The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty. […]

  75. says

    Why Trump did not get the payroll-tax cut he wanted:

    Any tax break on paychecks would come out of the Social Security fund: That would risk seriously denting it or even depleting it, meaning people who depend on their Social Security check each month might not get it in a worst-case scenario. That’s the primary reason Republicans oppose a cut, said a senior Republican Senate aide.

    It’s super expensive: Eliminating the payroll tax for both employees and employers would cost the government about $90 billion a month, aides in Congress estimated. Multiply that over the entire year and you’re looking at about $1 trillion in lost government revenue. The New York Times Jim Tankersley put that in perspective: That’s more than the 2008 Wall Street bailout or the 2009 stimulus bill to prop up the economy after the crash that ignited the Great Recession.

    It would increase most paychecks by 7.65 percent, but that doesn’t help shift workers or those who rely on tips, said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday. That’s because most of their money doesn’t come from paychecks.

    It only helps people who are working now: So if you’re unemployed — or lost your job because of the coronavirus — this wouldn’t help you. And from Democrats’ perspective, it could distract from the real goal they want: mandatory paid sick leave.

    “If a single mom gets a notice from school her child has to stay home, her getting a payroll-tax deduction or refund isn’t going to help her if she loses her job,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Friday on MSNBC.

    Here’s how Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) describes the idea of a payroll-tax cut: “We don’t think they should just throw money out of an airplane and hope some of it lands on the people who are affected.”

    Republicans aren’t quite as vocal about their opposition to this, given their reluctance to upset Trump. But behind the scenes, this isn’t something that they’re seriously considering, no matter how much Trump tweets it or asks Congress for it in national addresses. […]

    Washington Post link

  76. says

    CNN – “A Giuliani ally offered cash to lobby US senators on behalf of pro-Russian TV stations”:

    When Republican lawmakers this week abruptly canceled a plan to subpoena a former Ukrainian official in their investigations into the energy firm that hired former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, they said it was to allow more time for senators to receive additional briefings.

    But a Ukrainian magazine editor has told CNN that the target of the subpoena, Andrii Telizhenko, once offered him money to lobby US senators on behalf of pro-Russian media outlets.

    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee called off a vote to subpoena Telizhenko earlier this week, amid accusations from Democrats that the investigation was calculated to damage Biden’s presidential bid.

    Questions also swirled about Telizhenko’s reliability as a witness — the FBI briefed staff on issues connected to the subpoena on Tuesday, the day before the committee was supposed to vote, according to a Senate Democratic aide. Telizhenko says he’s the victim of a smear campaign and flatly denied to CNN he was a “Russian agent.”

    In a development that could raise more questions about Telizhenko’s reliability, Vladislav Davidzon, who runs a magazine called the Odessa Review, has told CNN that Telizhenko offered him $5,000 in 2018 to approach prominent Republicans to speak out against efforts by Kiev to curb the influence of two TV stations.

    CNN has reviewed a series of messages between the two men that came against the backdrop of an attempt by Ukrainian lawmakers to censure two channels, 112 and News One, for allegedly broadcasting Russian propaganda in the years following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

    In October 2018, the same month that lawmakers voted in favor of a resolution to sanction the two stations, Telizhenko wrote to Davidzon, asking: “Have a question do you or your father have contacts with US Senators? I really need a favour for witch (sic) I can pay up to 5k.”

    Davidzon, 35, is the son of influential US-based Russian language media owner Gregory Davidzon — once dubbed “The Kingmaker of Little Russia” in a 2012 profile by The New York Times.

    After expressing concerns about how the new Ukrainian proposals could shut the broadcasters down, Telizhenko then says: “My question is is it possible to get an official comment on a Senators (Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham for example) website next week about this situation of censorship in Ukraine? Really important for me and need fast.”

    Davidzon replies: “Ok. I have a bit of time. But not sure what I can do.”

    Davidzon told CNN that he considered the offer of money to target senators like Graham was “improper” and never reached out to any US lawmakers as a result.

    In a telephone interview on Friday, Telizhenko said he had indeed contacted a small number of people including Davidzon on behalf of 112 and News One. He said the approaches were made on his own initiative and that the money he offered was his own, for expenses incurred.

    Graham’s office declined to comment. Paul’s office did not reply, nor did representatives for the two television stations.

    Republican-led investigations that could entangle Biden have been gathering speed amid the former Vice President’s surge in the Democratic presidential primaries.

    The effort to enlist Telizhenko was launched in December 2019 by a trio of Republican senators — Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Charles Grassley, chairman of the Finance Committee….

    Speaking to CNN before the decision to abandon the subpoena vote, Davidzon said he did not act on Telizhenko’s offer, letting it go “as elegantly as possible.” But in late 2019 he shared what he knew with US authorities after Telizhenko made a series of public comments in support of Giuliani. With Telizhenko poised to provide evidence to the Senate, Davidzon decided to go public. “This type of behaviour absolutely discredits any theories that Mr Telizhenko gives and makes me question his agenda,” Davizdon said.

    “The message was evidence to me that, aside from claiming to be a Ukrainian patriot, Mr Telizhenko was probably working for someone with pro-Russian interests at heart and not in Ukraine’s national security interests,” he said.

    Davidzon concedes $5,000 was not a lot of money for the request but says he believes the offer was serious and speculates that Telizhenko was “likely making a lot more from whoever was paying him.”

    He also claims Telizhenko presented himself to him on other occasions as a go-between for Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch facing charges of bribery in the United States. Firtash’s legal team reportedly assisted Giuliani with his investigations into the Bidens and met with Giuliani’s indicted emissaries to Ukraine, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Firtash’s lawyer declined to comment.

    In a set of private exchanges on Facebook dated June 2019, Davidzon asks whether Firtash will be extradited to the US and asks Telizhenko for an interview with him.

    Telizhenko replies, seemingly on Firtash’s behalf, saying the case was “still in process.”

    “No interviews now (…) he does not give to WSJ even so not for now,” referring to the Wall Street Journal.

    Telizhenko told CNN he did not have any contacts with Firtash and had never worked for him.

    With Telizhenko now apparently out of the picture insofar as the Republican investigations are concerned, it’s unclear what direction these probes will take. But with Biden’s fortunes on the rise, it seems clear that efforts will continue to uncover information that could potentially derail his campaign.

  77. says

    Reporting from Italy:

    […] Now the idea that even funerals cannot be celebrated is a source of further anguish. These days, in Italy, you die in silence and you’ll be buried in silence. […]

    On social networks, threads about the virus are multiplying. I have a couple of very good doctor friends who decided to be on the front lines. It is impossible to describe what they are going through. The lack of intensive-care beds forces them to make impossible decisions: who can be helped and who is too old, or too weak, to even try to save. This can really destroy your resistance as a human being.

    They tell me that if the numbers continue to grow at the current pace, they will soon be overwhelmed. And this is happening in Lombardy, where we have a health-care system that is considered one of the most reliable, advanced and efficient in Europe. […]

    We have learned that this is not just another flu; it’s a terrible new virus that is challenging a whole nation, Europe itself and perhaps the entire planet. And there’s no miracle recipe except for a profound respect for the advice of scientists, the need of a sense of community and a health-care system able to detect the next moves of the virus.

    For now, everything is absolutely still outside my window. No sign of life. The sound of ambulances breaks the silence from time to time.

    In Italy, if you are not busy fighting the virus, you hold your breath. And wait.

    Washington Post link

  78. blf says

    Fox News accused of downplaying coronavirus as it moves to protect staff:

    Fox News, the conservative cable TV network, has been accused of downplaying the threat of the coronavirus to its viewers while at the same time taking measures to protect its own staff from the outbreak’s threat.

    Some guests on the channel have openly speculated that those imploring the US to take more action have a political anti-Donald Trump agenda. Others have promoted baseless conspiracy theories.

    [… numerous examples…]

    Kurt Bardella, a former congressional spokesman, said: “They’re not just downplaying it. They’ve been putting out deliberate misinformation that’s harmful to the public welfare. Fox News has really reached an all-time low in how they’ve covered the coronavirus. The majority of their marquee prime-time talent has been more concerned about carrying water for Trump than the public good.”

    The average Fox News viewer is 67 years old, similar to CNN and MSNBC viewers, making them vulnerable to the coronavirus. Bardella, a former Breitbart News spokesman, said: “It’s entirely possible through their misguided efforts to protect Trump that they’re putting their own viewers in harm’s way.”

    Yet inside Fox News, it is a different story. The company has suspended non-essential business travel for employees and told them to work from home when possible. It will also reduce guest appearances in its studios and no longer allow live audiences at the Fox & Friends show, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    In email seen by the paper, Fox News’s chief executive, Suzanne Scott, and president, Jay Wallace, wrote: “We are reducing the staff footprint at our headquarters in New York and some of our bureaus and will be instituting telecommuting starting Monday, March 16th for all of those departments capable of doing so.”


  79. says

    “If you’re tired of hearing about how Donald Trump’s incompetence continues to damage efforts to respond to a dangerous health crisis, here’s a little break for you: a story about how the Trump team’s rampant corruption continues to endanger everything else.”

    Last November, Democratic Reps. Debbie Stabenow and Raul Grijalva requested a USDA inspector general probe into whether a $2 million State Fire Assistance grant to Alaska was “misused” by the state to instead promote the timber industry. That investigation, reports The Washington Post, is now underway.

    The grant looks dodgy. It just does—there’s no way around it. The state of Alaska requested the $2 million State Fire Assistance grant, money intended for wildfire suppression and preparedness. The state, however, sought the money to help coordinate efforts to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the federal government’s “Roadless Rule,” a preservation measure aimed at keeping wilderness areas intact but which the forestry, oil, and mining industries oppose vociferously.

    By granting the money, the Trump-run federal government essentially gave the state of Alaska $2 million to fight a federal regulation that both Trump’s allies and state Republicans want to see lifted from the Tongass National Forest so that timber harvests and other resource extraction could be increased.

    […] The biggest issue is whether timber industry lobbying counts as fire assistance for the purposes of a federal gran t[…] The cooperating state and federal governments appear to have used one of the hoariest of Republican justifications, an argument that the best way to stop forest fires is to go in and cut the trees down. […]

    Stabenow and Grijalva want a second opinion on that, and have asked the inspector general to give them one. That probe is now underway; we shall see if it gets any further than the dozens of other recent probes that Trump’s team has simply ignored outright.


  80. says

    From text quoted by blf in comment 131:

    They’re not just downplaying it. They’ve been putting out deliberate misinformation that’s harmful to the public welfare.

    That’s the crux of it right there, in my opinion. Fox News does not just downplay coronavirus, they deliberately gaslight everyone. Fox News is manipulating the public with propaganda. Fox News is a menace to public health.

  81. blf says

    Spain to be placed under 15-day nationwide lockdown — [PM] Sanchez:

    Spain is to be placed under nationwide lockdown as part of state emergency measures to control the spread of coronavirus, prime minister Pedro Sanchez has announced.

    Following in the footsteps of France, Sanchez said that shops will close for 15 days. Pharmacies and those selling other basic necessities will be exempted.

    He added that the crisis requires “extraordinary decisions” and confirmed that the government has agreed a state of emergency.

    Armed forces will be available to help in the response effort if needed.

    This was basically expected. I think it’s only 15 days because the Spanish parliament has to approve extensions / anytime longer. (Here in France, the lockdown starts in about 2,5 hours and is of indefinite duration.)

  82. says

    NEW: @JoeBiden’s campaign confirms that he has reviewed @ewarren’s bankruptcy plan closely, and is endorsing her proposal, as he said in his IL town hall.

    That’s a significant shift, as the proposal would largely undo the 2005 bankruptcy bill the two clashed over in Congress.”

  83. says

    Christal Hayes, USA Today:

    …RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel WAS at Senate GOP lunch where Trump presented a variety of ideas to counter the coronavirus’ impact on the economy, an RNC official tells @cmsub

    Event not only featured the President, but members of his administration & most Senate Republicans

    Along with attending lunch with Trump and Senate Republicans on Tuesday, RNC official says Ronna McDaniel attended these events:
    – Mar-a-Lago w/ Trump on March 6
    – Lunch w/ VP Pence on March 7
    – Event w/ Trump in Orlando,Fla. on March 9 (she flew on AF1)

  84. blf says

  85. blf says

    Non-profits brace for the worst as wealthy donors lose billions:

    From food banks to children’s museums, non-profits are left in a funding bind as donor wallets shrink.


    The coronavirus outbreak puts nonprofits in a bind. The needs of charities are set to soar and the financial situations of many wealthy families and foundations that help fund them have deteriorated.

    “We can see charitable contributions starting to slow down,” said Tom Gabriel, chief executive officer of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “We know fundraising events are being canceled. At the same time there’s been an increase in demand for services.”

    Some very rich people are trying to fill the gap.

    Ten minutes into a board meeting Thursday for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Laurie Tisch, who’s been involved with the institution for almost four decades, said she’d give $100,000 if the board matched her. The colorful and educational museum is closing on Saturday, with no date set for a re-opening.

    Part of the family who runs Loews Corp., Tisch wanted to start a fund to help the museum and its employees navigate the shutdown, to do things like pay wages for workers who’ll lose hours and extend online resources for families cooped up at home. The museum, on New York’s Upper West Side, serves families of many income levels, including a program that brings moms incarcerated at Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex, to the museum to spend time with their kids. That program also has been suspended.

    Lauren Tuck, wife of former National Football League player Justin Tuck, and 28 other board members more than matched Tisch’s donation by the end of the day.

    Tisch said the experience of making gifts after 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy served as her guide.

    “A lot of institutions are going to have to scramble,” Tisch said. “We’re all losing money, but the people who have money still have money and they can do something.”


    Wealthy donors may be more preoccupied with their own balance sheets than the financial health of their favorite charities. Foundations, which are required by law to give away 5% of assets a year, could end up slashing their donations as the value of their investment holdings tumble.

    “People are seeing their investment portfolios decline and the natural inclination would be to pull back,” said Alison Powell of the Bridgespan Group, who advises wealthy individuals about philanthropy. […]

    Meanwhile, organizers are being forced to cancel fundraisers and galas that take months to plan and often generate a substantial portion of a nonprofit’s annual budget. One way donors can help organizations is letting them keep contributions made for galas that are canceled, Powell said.


    One concern, borne out by previous crises like hurricanes, is that charities directly responding to coronavirus may get big checks, while other nonprofits are neglected or ignored.


    Donors should “ask the local experts what they need,” Bridgespan’s Powell said, whether “that’s calling a hospital, calling a local community foundation, calling bedrock local institutions. Don’t fly solo.”

    The Muncie, Indiana-based Ball Brothers Foundation, with about $200 million in assets funded by the family that made the famous Mason jars, is doing just that. It’s preparing “rapid grants” for extras like medical supplies, cleaning services or child care. “We are keeping an eye on what we view as a very fluid situation,” said foundation Vice President Jenna Wachtmann.

    Rich donors should remember that charities are on the front lines of the coronavirus, facing realities and risks that their funders don’t, said Henry Berman, chief executive officer of Exponent Philanthropy, an association of wealthy families and foundations with small staffs.

    “We as funders need to remember we’re in a position of privilege to give away money,” Berman said. Even as markets have dropped, these “paper losses” just bring portfolios back to where they were a year or two ago, he said.

    “Let’s keep some perspective here,” Berman said. “There’s still a lot of money available there for philanthropic purposes.”

  86. says

    Yo-Yo Ma: “In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort. The first of my #SongsOfComfort: Dvořák – ‘Going Home’

    Stay safe….”

    Music at the link. Beautiful.

  87. blf says

    Maryland man fatally shot by police while asleep in his bedroom:

    Montgomery county police said Duncan Socrates Lemp confronted officers as eyewitness gave ‘contrary’ account

    A Maryland man who was shot and killed by a police officer was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside his house, an attorney for the 21-year-old man’s family said on Friday. The man’s girlfriend was also wounded.

    The Montgomery county police department said in a news release Duncan Socrates Lemp confronted police and was shot by one of the officers early on Thursday.

    But Rene Sandler, an attorney for Lemp’s relatives, said an eyewitness gave a “completely contrary” account of the shooting. She said police could have “absolutely no justification” for shooting Lemp based on what she has heard about the circumstances.


    The warrant police obtained to search the Potomac home Lemp shared with his parents and 19-year-old brother does not mention any “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, Lemp’s relatives said in a statement released by their lawyers. Nobody in the house that morning had a criminal record, the statement added.

    “Any attempt by the police to shift responsibility on to Duncan or his family, who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home, is not supported by the facts,” the statement says.


    The department’s news release said tactical unit members were serving a high-risk search warrant around 4.30am when one officer fatally shot Lemp. Police detectives recovered three rifles and two handguns from the home. Lemp was prohibited from possessing firearms, police said.


    Sandler said the family believes police fired gunshots, not a flashbang or other projectile, from outside the home, including through Lemp’s bedroom window, while he and his girlfriend were sleeping. Nobody in the home heard any warnings or commands before police opened fire, she said.

    “There is no warrant or other justification that would ever allow for that unless there is an imminent threat, which there was not,” Sandler said.

    [… possibility that Mr Lemp was an Internet troll and/or far-right militia member…]

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    PSA. Got my census 2020 letter via USPS delivered to my address for the resident (me). Contained a 12 character Census ID code, and instructions on how to respond. My Googlefoo indicates it is probably legit. There are, of course, many scammers trying to take advantage of the situation. The census will only use the USPS to communicate with you. Beware of other methods (e-mail), and questions about your finances or demands for payment. Link to a Trib article on known scams.

  89. says

    G liveblog:

    The Spanish government has just announced that the prime minister’s wife, Begoña Gómez, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Both Gomez and her husband, Pedro Sánchez, are doing well and remain at their official residence in Madrid, the Moncloa palace, the government said in a statement.

    Earlier this week, two of Sánchez’s ministers also tested positive for the virus.

  90. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @SC #146:
    Correction: That airforce footage was on YouTube in Nov 2019, so not virus-related.

  91. tomh says

    Raise your hand if you have not been sued by Devin Nunes
    By Dana Milbank

    In these grim times — pandemic spreading, markets crashing, society shutting down — it seems there is nowhere we can turn for good news.

    But there is! Devin Nunes, bless his heart, is still filing lawsuits. The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has, aided by a lawyer with a colorful past and a flair for invective, sued just about everybody who criticizes him.

    Including, just this month, The Washington Post.

    To be specific, Nunes has sued:

    McClatchy. CNN. Hearst Magazines. Fusion GPS. Republican strategist Liz Mair. A watchdog group, Campaign for Accountability. An organic fruit farmer who called Nunes a “fake farmer.” Twitter. A parody Twitter account called “Devin Nunes’ Mom.” A fictitious bovine on Twitter called “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” (“Like Devin Nunes’ Mom, Devin Nunes’ Cow engaged in a defamation campaign,” he alleged in court.)

    Nunes has, through his lawyer, also sent a menacing legal letter to a Fresno County, Calif., deputy district attorney who previously ran against Nunes to cease his support for “the @DevinCow Twitter account.” And he has threatened to sue fellow Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). Lieu’s reply: “Take your letter and shove it.”

    Former Nunes staffer (now administration official) Kash Patel, using the same lawyer, has sued Politico.

    And now, Nunes has sued The Post.

    That’s a lot of litigation for a guy who co-sponsored the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act of 2017. No contagion will stop this man from having his (many) day(s) in court.

    The litigious lawmaker is seeking damages of about $1 billion in his lawsuits.

    More ridicule at the link.

  92. says

    More re #149: “Spain: Begoña Gómez, wife of PM Pedro Sánchez, has tested positive for Coronavirus as has the partner of Pablo Iglesias, deputy PM, and another minister. All were on the March 8th feminist demo that the government encouraged.”

  93. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 138:

    “Claims that streamlining NSC structures impaired our nation’s bio defense are false,” [John Bolton tweeted]

    I am so offended by Bolton’s use of the word “streamlining” to describe his decapitation of the National Security Council unit that was responsible for preparing for pandemics, and which was supposed to ensure biosecurity.

    Also, I think it is highly likely that Bolton and Trump together decided to eliminate the Senior Director position, to close the directorate, and to scatter any remaining staff. That’s not “streamlining.”

    In any case, Trump is responsible. He can say “it wasn’t me” all he wants. It’s his administration.

  94. blf says

    A rather alarming snippet from Trump’s stumbles and testing failures pave way to disaster, experts say (my added emboldening):

    Even a sudden surge in testing, combined with accurate, sober advice from the Trump administration, won’t prevent a huge strain placed upon a fragmented American healthcare system that delivers wildly different outcomes for people depending upon their financial means. Ominously, there are far fewer hospital beds per capita in the US compared to the Lombardy region in Italy, where the coronavirus has overwhelmed the healthcare system.

  95. blf says

    This is an odd one (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    German newspaper Welt am Sonntag has reported that US president [sic] Donald Trump has sought exclusive rights to a vaccine for the coronavirus which is being developed by a German-based company, CureVac.

    The report, which quoted unnamed sources, said Trump had offered large sums of money to German scientists working on the vaccine.

    DW (Die Welt, a different paper) reports, Germany and US wrestle over coronavirus vaccine:

    US President [sic] Donald Trump is attempting to entice a German lab to develop a vaccine exclusively for the US, a German newspaper reported. Berlin health authorities are in intensive talks with the company.

    The governments of Germany and the United States are wrestling over the German-based company CureVac which is working on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, reported German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

    The prominent German media outlet reported, citing unnamed sources, that US President Donald Trump was offering large sums of money to German scientists working on a vaccine. He wanted to secure exclusive rights to their work, the newspaper reported.

    Trump was doing everything he could to secure a vaccine for the United States, “but only for the US,” the newspaper quoted an anonymous German government source as saying.

    The newspaper reported that the German government has tried to offer the company financial incentives to remain in Germany.


    On March 2, CureVac’s then-CEO Daniel Menichella attended a meeting at the White House to discuss coronavirus vaccine development with Trump and members of his coronavirus taskforce.

    On March 11, the company announced Menichella would be replaced by company founder Ingmar Hoerr, without giving a reason why.

  96. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    “John Bolton is a villain.”

    And in other news, water remains wet.

  97. says

    Lynna @ #157, I have a visceral reaction to the word “streamlining.” It’s abstractly culturally appealing in the US, and almost always used in practice as rightwing code for cutting jobs or eliminating regulations and structures that protect people. I can’t remember when I first noticed it – I think it might have been some bill years ago that was to “streamline” financial regulations (which turned out well) – but it always immediately makes me suspicious now. Someone should do a study of the rhetorical exploitation of “streamlining.”

    In this case, as you point out, Bolton’s using the word streamlining to describe the opposite of streamlining.

  98. says

    More re #104 – Guardian – “Boris Johnson’s hero is the mayor who kept the beaches open in Jaws. That’s fine by me.”:

    The coronavirus has turned the UK into an outlier. The rest of the world has seemingly gone into lockdown, shutting schools and public transport in a desperate bid to quell the pandemic. But Boris Johnson has gone in a different direction. According to him, the UK is business as usual.

    But what prompted such a policy? Is he privy to more advanced scientific knowledge than all the other countries? Is he really such a vocal proponent of herd immunity? Or is there something else going on? Perhaps to find out, we should travel back to 2006, when Johnson told an audience that “the real hero of Jaws is the mayor”.

    Ah, Mayor Larry Vaughn, Amity’s foolhardy leader who orders the beach to remain open despite overwhelming evidence that there’s a massive shark in the water determined to eat everyone. Now everything suddenly makes sense.

    But still, at least Vaughn is finally getting his dues. Without him, Jaws would simply be a film about a policeman who spots a shark, imposes a stringent set of beachside social distancing rules and then kills the shark. But Vaughn is the necessary sand in the ointment. He can only see the potential economic losses caused by a beach closure, and pushes on against all arguments. “As you can see, it’s a beautiful day,” he tells the media at one point. “The beaches are opened, and people are having a wonderful time.” Vaughn is the entire reason why Jaws became an enduring classic.

    Look, nobody is saying that Vaughn was perfect. In his ability to willingly send townsfolk to their deaths for short-term financial gain, some might argue that he was actually something of a villain. But to me, he is a figure of ultimate dignity. Was he a good man? No. Did he do his best? No. Is it a good thing that our prime minister is repeatedly being compared to him during a once-a-century global health crisis? No. But did he wear a nice jacket with some anchors on it? Yes. Yes, he did.

  99. says

    Guardian – “Coronavirus: campaign launched offering help to those self-isolating”:

    As coronavirus engulfs the world, with increasing numbers putting themselves in self-isolation as a response to the growing pandemic, it is easy to become swept up in the doom and gloom.

    But some kind-hearted people are shrugging off the sense of apocalypse by offering to lend a helping hand to those in need, notifying them by dropping leaflets through their letterboxes as dozens of “mutual aid” groups spring up across the UK.

    Eighty-seven groups have been formed across the country to offer practical support for those in self-isolation, as well as phone calls. Volunteers are organising WhatsApp and Facebook groups, and are holding meetings online alongside distributing flyers in the street.

    Anna Vickerstaff, one of the coordinators of the national Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK network, said: “No matter what we look like, where we live, or how much money we have, getting sick reminds us that at our core we’re all just human.

    “And in every country it’s the old, the sick and those already struggling who will be affected worse. That’s why we set this network up – because we want to make sure that no one in our communities is being left to face this crisis alone, and because we want to try and redress some of the serious inequalities this outbreak will expose.”

    The groups follow a #viralkindness campaign where postcards bearing the message “Hello! If you are self-isolating, I can help” are being dropped at doorsteps across the UK with the idea already spreading as far as Australia.

    The cards, which are available to download online so people can print them at home, include boxes for neighbours to write their name, address, phone number and state whether volunteers can help with picking up shopping, urgent supplies, posting mail or even just “a friendly phone call”.

    The postcard idea was conceived by Becky Wass, a lecturer in Cornwall who said she felt helpless by the pandemic and was compelled to do something to combat it. Wass, an associate lecturer in creative advertising at Falmouth University, told Cornwall Live: “I was talking to my husband John about how the news was quite hard-hitting and there wasn’t much we could actually do to make a positive difference.”

    Wass, 32, added: “If just one person feels less lonely or isolated when faced with this pandemic, then I’ll feel better about it. Coronavirus is scary. Let’s make kindness go viral.”…

    More atl. The article contains a link to the printable version of the cards, but here’s one on Twitter.

  100. says

    Just a random bit I came across from the Guardian:

    Osterman, 63, picked up a carton of sanitising wipes from the shelves opposite. Was this a sign she was worried about contracting the virus?
    “No! They’re having really cheap flights right now and so I’m thinking, what the heck, I might just go some place. Somebody told me Hawaii was $400. I’m not worried one bit,” she said.

    A 63-year old who decides that this is the perfect time to take a plane ride. Not sure what to even say.

  101. says

    Guardian – “I’m an epidemiologist. When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satire.”:

    …When I first heard about this, I could not believe it. I research and teach the evolution and epidemiology of infectious disease at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health. My colleagues here in the US, even as they are reeling from the stumbling response of the Donald Trump administration to the crisis, assumed that reports of the UK policy were satire – an example of the wry humour for which the country is famed. But they are all too real.

    Let me take the arguments on their merits. The stated aim has been to achieve “herd immunity” in order to manage the outbreak and prevent a catastrophic “second wave” next winter – even if Matt Hancock has tried to put that particular genie back in the bottle this weekend. A large proportion of the population is at lower risk of developing severe disease: roughly speaking anyone up to the age of 40. So the reasoning goes that even though in a perfect world we’d not want anyone to take the risk of infection, generating immunity in younger people is a way of protecting the population as a whole.

    We talk about vaccines generating herd immunity, so why is this different? Because this is not a vaccine. This is an actual pandemic that will make a very large number of people sick, and some of them will die. Even though the mortality rate is likely quite low, a small fraction of a very large number is still a large number. And the mortality rate will climb when the NHS is overwhelmed. This would be expected to happen, even if we make the generous assumption that the government were entirely successful in restricting the virus to the low-risk population, at the peak of the outbreak the numbers requiring critical care would be greater than the number of beds available. This is made worse by the fact that people who are badly ill tend to remain so for a long time, which increases the burden.

    About that second wave: let me be clear. Second waves are real things, and we have seen them in flu pandemics. This is not a flu pandemic. Flu rules do not apply. There might well be a second wave, I honestly don’t know. But vulnerable people should not be exposed to a virus right now in the service of a hypothetical future.

    The UK should not be trying to create herd immunity, that will take care of itself. Policy should be directed at slowing the outbreak to a (more) manageable rate. What this looks like is strong social distancing. Anyone who can work from home, should. People who do not yet work from home should be encouraged to do so. Employers should guarantee sick pay, including for contacts of known cases, and do everything they can to discourage the practice of “presenteeism”. You should not shake hands. Not with anyone. You should wash your hands for 20 seconds several times a day and whenever you enter your home (or someone else’s home). Call a halt to large gatherings. Educate people about masks and how they should be reserved for the medical professionals who need them. All this and more should have started weeks ago.

    Deciding whether to close schools is hard; they do so much more than just education. But this is a pandemic, and so you should expect they will be shut sooner or later….

    The most fundamental function of a government is to keep its people safe. It is from this that it derives its authority, the confidence of the people and its legitimacy. Nobody should be under the illusion that this is something that can be dodged through somehow manipulating a virus that we are only beginning to understand. This will not pass you by; this is not a tornado, it is a hurricane.

    Don’t panic, but do prepare. If your government won’t help you, do it yourself.

  102. says

    I’ve gone back and forth on whether to mention this, but desperate times… I’ve been calling my mother every day to check in. I’m not worried that she’s not taking this seriously – she’s smart and informed and a Democrat – but I was a bit concerned because she has several Trumper friends who might not be. I was relieved when she told me they’re doing the right things. She said one of her friends had gotten a link from another Trump supporter to the Joe Rogan podcast episode with Michael Osterholm. I’d read somewhere that given the size and composition of Rogan’s audience, the episode will probably save lives. I haven’t listened to it, don’t know if it’s all accurate, and don’t recommend Rogan generally; but it seems like potentially a way to get through to some of the family members and neighbors people have discussed here.

  103. says

    Chris Hayes re #168:

    These airport scenes are *infuriating*. A policy designed around propaganda rather than science and announced suddenly is now resulting in possibly exposing *thousands* of Americans to infection right before bringing them into the country. This is almost criminal malpractice.

  104. blf says

    SC@167, There might be something to that suggestion. For instance, the Philly Voice recommends it, Joe Rogan’s podcast goes in-depth on coronavirus pandemic with infectious disease expert:

    Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm dispelled myths and highlighted dangers on a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience”


    One of the best ways to learn about the broader concerns of the coronavirus pandemic — and infectious diseases more generally — is to absorb the wisdom of epidemiologists and other experts who have dedicated their lives to the study of these bugs. In rapidly developing situations, they tend to be able to see both the minutiae and the bigger picture in a way that the public struggles to comprehend under the weight of new information.

    On Wednesday [IMDb says Tuesday 10th March –blf] on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, the everyman host brought in University of Minnesota professor and epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who’s also the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Osterholm has served as an advisor to multiple presidential administrations and closely followed the previous SARS and MERS pandemics, as well as other potentially dangerous pathogens that could present future threats.

    In a wide-ranging interview, Osterholm discusses all things coronavirus: How can public policy and individual actions shape the trajectory of the pandemic? Why is COVID-19 a particularly troubling illness, and how does it compare to past pandemics, both in the US and around the world? How can medical systems handle the volume of patients in need of care over the coming weeks and months?

    Osterholm’s perspective, dispelling myths and highlighting dangers, is one of many that can help make sense of the crisis as it progresses. His opinions, whether they concern cruise ships or the closing of schools, underscore the thought processes and cost-benefit analyses that policymakers are dealing with in a fluid situation.

    “My job isn’t to scare you out of your wits, it’s to scare you into your wits,” Osterholm told Rogan.

    The full interview, which runs more than 90 minutes, is worth a listen for anyone in need of a sobering, yet honest examination of what’s happening in the world today.

    Another recommendation, albeit from a source unknown to me (The Coronavirus Podcasts Have Arrived):

    Major global events also have a way of highlighting the prominence and power of major personality-driven podcasts. The big example here is The Joe Rogan Experience, widely believed to be one of the biggest active podcasts out there and consistently criticized for views deemed as questionable or outright offensive. On Tuesday, Rogan brought on an infectious disease expert, Michael Osterholm, to discuss the virus, and that interview ended up being one of the more useful discussions on the pandemic I’ve encountered as a lay news consumer. It was a somewhat confusing moment of alignment; I was grateful for the conversation, while feeling slightly weird about the whole thing.

    So, yes, many podcasts have been handling the pandemic admirably. But things get significantly dicier when it comes to the rush of newly launched coronavirus-focused podcasts. […]

    Other sources are also recommending the podcast. In my searching I didn’t find anything at all about the podcast from infectious disease or other medical experts, but the snippets of the interview (I also haven’t watched it) found do strongly indicate it’s the real deal.

  105. says

    Metropolitan Opera: “General Manager Peter Gelb announced today that in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of performances, the Met will offer a nightly series of free web streams that will bring opera to audiences while the house is dark—beginning March 16 at 7:30PM ET.”

  106. blf says

    Yikes! Another Covid-19 scam, presumably (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    A package containing suspected counterfeit Covid-19 testing kits [CBP Officers Seize Fake COVID-19 Test Kits at LAX] arriving from the UK was seized by US Customs and Border Protection at LAX airport.

    The fake kits had been labelled as purified water vials. They have been turned over to the FDA for analysis.

    As CBP notes at the embedded link, “diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is conducted in verified state and local public health laboratories across the United States. The American public should be aware of bogus home testing kits for sale either online or in informal direct to consumer settings.”

  107. says

    Jeremy FLATTEN THE CURVE Konyndyk re the airports:

    This is disastrous. Sign of hastily made, poorly planned, terribly executed policy.

    Other airports too. Good God. You could hardly invent a better scenario for superspreading events.

    Any cases of COVID in these crowds will have a far higher chance of spreading to others in these lines than if they were just allowed in unchecked.

    Like the testing debacle, this is hugely revealing about the administration’s crisis approach. Pursuing public health theatrics without thinking through the implications; and diverting finite resources away from higher priorities; thus actively putting people at greater risk.

    And apparently no coordination with the states. Unreal.

    (When we rolled out new Ebola screening procedures there was extensive prior coordination with state counterparts. This is just basic, 101-type stuff.)

  108. says

    Thanks, blf @ #174.

    Speaking of podcasts, here’s yesterday’s Lovett or Leave It: “Trump’s chaotic, bumbling response to the coronavirus pandemic alarms the country. Local and state leaders (and Bernie and Biden) fill the void. And everyone figures out how to act responsibility to protect the community while panic shopping and googling symptoms. We’ve canceled our live shows to be safe, so until we’re on the other side of this, we’re going to be experimenting with some new segments and finding ways to quiz and hear from listeners during the show. It’s Lovett or Leave It: Back in the Closet. Special thanks to Paul Scheer, Rachel Bonnetta, and Rachna Fruchbom for joining, and to the listeners who let me quiz them this week on their coronavirus prep.”

  109. says

    People need to listen: Dr. fauci The nation’s top infectious expert – who we all know by now – told CNN, ‘I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and in bars. Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see’.”

  110. says

    G liveblog:

    There is outrage in Brazil this afternoon after the country’s far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, ignored medical advice to leave his presidential palace and greet supporters outside – despite supposedly having been placed in isolation on Friday because he is waiting to take another coronavirus test.

    At least four close Bolsonaro aides or officials have been diagnosed with the illness since returning from a trip to the US last week and Brazil’s president is set to take another test next week following confused reports last week that initially suggested he had tested positive for Covid-19.

    Despite this, Bolsonaro decided to greet and touch supporters on Sunday during controversial anti-democracy protests which he has been promoting.
    Bolsonaro also tweeted videos and photos egging on pro-Bolsonaro protests across the country – despite the risks of such gatherings given the spread of coronavirus in the South American country.

    Bolsonaro’s decision sparked fury among opponents and ordinary citizens who are increasingly alarmed about the spread of coronavirus in Brazil. Major cities including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have begun announcing strict measures such as the closure of schools and cinemas in a bid to contain the crisis.

    “President Bolsonaro is promoting corona day,” tweeted Vera Magalhães, a prominent journalist and political commentator.

    “Bolsonaro must be detained immediately,” tweeted the rockstar Lobão, a former supporter who has become one of the president’s most ferocious critics.

    In an editorial published on Sunday morning, a leading Brazilian newspaper lamented: “The major crisis Brazil now faces isn’t the stuttering economy or the threat of coronavirus. The real crisis is lacking a government when it is needed most”

  111. blf says

    You know things are serious when Ireland orders its pubs closed (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    All pubs and bars in the Republic of Ireland have been ordered to close from Sunday evening to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

    In a statement, the government said: “Following discussions today with the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), the Government is now calling on all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close from this evening (Sunday 15th March) until at least 29 March.

    “The LVA and VFI outlined the real difficulty in implementing the published Guidelines on Social Distancing in a public house setting, as pubs are specifically designed to promote social interaction in a situation where alcohol reduces personal inhibitions.

    “For the same reason, the Government is also calling on all members of the public not to organise or participate in any parties in private houses or other venues which would put other people’s health at risk.”


  112. blf says

    This seems sensible, and is probably fairly easy for them to do (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    Louis Vuitton owner LWMH has said its cosmetics unit would manufacture large quantities of hand disinfectant gel to help stave off a nationwide shortage across France as the coronavirus continues to spread.

    In a statement the company said: “LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands … to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels from Monday.

    “These gels will be delivered free of charge to the health authorities.”

  113. says

    More re #179 above – thread from Daniel Goldman:

    FINAL UPDATE (thread): My #COVID19 test came back positive.

    I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. It means a lot to my family and me.

    I am almost back to 100%. I’m lucky enough not to fall in the vulnerable category and, for me, it was just like the flu.

    My difficulty in getting a test despite the exact symptoms and a neg flu test underscores how shockingly unprepared this administration is to deal with this pandemic. In fact, I was told that NYC hospitals STILL would not test my wife — with similar symptoms — unless admitted.

    @realDonaldTrump can try to gaslight the American public by repeatedly saying that everyone who needs a test can get one, but that was not true one month ago (when it should have been the case) and it is not true today (when there is no excuse).

    Given his stated desire to “keep numbers down” for his political benefit, it is impossible to reach any conclusion other than that the President is sacrificing the health of the American public for his own personal interests.

    The upshot of my experience is that there are almost certainly hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people walking around the United States with #COVID19. I didn’t take no for an answer to get a test, but many people might. And they go home to transmit it unknowingly.

    And because I did not knowingly come into contact with a “known positive”, docs said my family could go about their business. But we can’t know if people are positive if they can’t get a test! This is the administration’s great failing — the only way to stop this is to test.

    One final note: I may be the first you know who tested positive, but I won’t be the last. Let’s take care of each other, listen to the experts and the cities, states and corporations who are taking the lead in the absence of the fed government, and get through this together.

  114. says

    SC @183, what the ever-loving fuck?!

    When we think Trump can go lower, he sinks further into the fetid swamp of his own mind.

  115. says

    SC, @161, I completely agree.

    This is what we’ve come to, complete Orwellian language infection in Trump’s lickspittles.

    A coronavirus cautionary tale:

    Two emergency room doctors on opposite sides of the country are in critical condition after contracting the novel coronavirus.

    One doctor in his 70s in Paterson, New Jersey, tested positive for the virus after coming down with respiratory symptoms, while another ER doctor in Kirkland, Washington, has symptoms consistent with the virus […]

    Both cases are potential candidates for the first cases of so-called occupational transmission of the disease, by which the novel coronavirus spreads from patients to the doctors treating them. […]

    “This virus is dangerous, and its impact is still unfolding,” ACEP President William Jacquis said in a statement. “As emergency physicians, we answer the call to care for our most vulnerable, even at great personal risk.”

    Seattle-area hospitals are reportedly running low on protective equipment that mitigates the potential for transmission. […]

    “Well-considered measures to keep providers safe are always followed, but with highly contagious disease, sometimes transmission may happen despite our best efforts,” […]

    The new infections come as hospitals around the country brace for what may be an onslaught of COVID-19 patients, stocking up on their protective equipment, canceling elective procedures, and issuing guidance to doctors on how to approach the situation.

    “There’s more anxiety, given how contagious the coronavirus is,” Chris Lee, a professor at Vanderbilt Medical School told TPM. “Everyone has more concern given that our occupation puts us on the frontlines of potentially becoming ill from this virus.”

    The New Jersey doctor leads the emergency preparedness unit of his hospital. The Washington doctor works in his hospital’s emergency room, and was admitted Friday morning. […]

    TPM Link

  116. says

    José Andrés:

    People of America…Important News: All my restaurants in DC area are closed until further notice. Here at @ThinkFoodGroup safety of employees & guests is too priority. Some restaurants will transform into Community Kitchens to offer to-go lunches for those who need a meal.

    These Community Kitchens will be part of @WCKitchen efforts across the country in the coming days & weeks. Not for enjoyment….but a service for people in need of a plate of food during this emergency.

    We are in an unprecedented emergency…and as painful as it is, ALL restaurants, bars, etc. must be closed across America if we are to avoid what’s happening in other countries. This is the only way.

    In this moment, loving each other means staying away from each other. This is about We The People. Each of us has a responsibility to act for others, not just ourselves. We are all together in this fight…and we will win.

  117. blf says

    Today was Round 2 of local elections here in France. The polls closed about 90 minutes ago, so not much yet in the way of results. One thing is for certain, turnout was waaaaay down, somewhere around 40%, compared to the last local elections six years at about 70% (local elections, especially for the local maire, are very popular).

    Apparently, two incumbent le penazi mayors have been reelected, and a le penazi is leading in Perpignan (a large Mediterranean city here in the South, close to the Spanish border), but probably has not avoided Round 2 — if and when that happens.

    Round 2 is scheduled for next Sunday, but the government is known to be taking scientific advice on whether to go-ahead, postpone / cancel, or maybe bring forward to as soon as Tuesday.

  118. says

    NEW: Biden campaign says he’s adopting a version of Sanders’ free college idea. Biden had already backed free community college. Now he adds free public college and univ for families under $125k.

    NOTE that this is the plan that came out of Clinton-Sanders negotiations at the end of the 2016 primary and for which Sanders praised Clinton. Yep, I wrote about that too:…

    Add to this Biden’s recent adoption of Warren’s bankruptcy plan, which would allow student debt to be discharged in bankruptcy, and you see the contours of Biden’s outreach to his opponents’ supporters forming. Will he inch toward Sanders and Warren on climate? Health care?”

  119. says

    More re #185 from the Guardian liveblog:

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro took selfies with supporters and celebrated the thousands of protestors gathering in major cities on Sunday, just days after he had called for a suspension of the demonstrations due to the spreading coronavirus.

    Bolsonaro appeared to shrug off the advice of medical experts suggesting he remain isolated after several members of his delegation to Florida recently tested positive for the virus.

    Bolsonaro strode down the ramp of the presidential palace in a Brazilian football shirt and met a throng of his hardcore supporters at the front gate, where he bumped fists, grabbed cell phones to take pictures and leaned in for selfies with the crowd.

    “Although I suggested (a postponement), I can’t order anything because this protest isn’t mine,” Bolsonaro said.

  120. tomh says

    @ #199
    From the Chicago Tribune:

    Pritzker announces all bars, restaurants will be closed Monday night through March 30, delivery and pick-up will be available

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will order all restaurants and bars across the state to be closed to dine-in customers in a further attempt to curb the coronavirus, effective end of business Monday, sources told the Tribune.

    Restaurants will remain open to drive through and delivery, sources said. In his announcement, he said the closure will be in effect until March 30.

  121. says

    One of these pointless (and often actively harmful) coronavirus task force briefings is coming up shortly. They lie, they praise Trump for bullshit, they give plugs for friendly corporations, they rarely impart any real information, and they needlessly bring task-force members and reporters into close proximity. All while CDC briefings are canceled day after day. It’s totally fucking unacceptable.

  122. blf says

    A snippet from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    It’s probably worth pointing out while we wait for the [Wacko House] presser to start that the James S Brady Briefing Room, where it will be held, is notoriously not very roomy and thus entirely unsuited to social distancing. When full, the press practically sit in each other’s laps.

    For fecks sake, hair furor and your goddamn dalekocrazy, get a sodding clew!

  123. says

    blf @ #203, and now they have by my count 16 people packed on the podium. It’s nuts.

    Trump is announcing that the Fed has slashed interest rates to near zero. Because that’s the important news during a pandemic.

  124. blf says

    Re @202 / @203 / @205, Anyone else hoping one or more of the journalists there throw their shoes at hair furor? (Or a milkshake?)

  125. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    California governor Gavin Newsom announces that the state’s bars, nightclubs, breweries and wineries be closed.

    (Sadly, I’m leaning to spell “pandemic” correctly the first-ish time…)

  126. blf says

    That sodding eejit has no idea of what others say (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    [… Hair furor] thanks Google for substantiating what I said on Friday about a website for self-diagnosis of Covid-19, which the press said was inaccurate. Trump claims he was right all along but it still seems Google, or a company related to it, is actually testing its website in the Bay Area of California and not rolling it out nationally. […]

    Whilst I’m not too fond of Generalisimo Google, I hope they readtweet teh eejit the riot act, so to speak, over repeatedly misrepresenting what they are trying to do. OrAnd throw their shoes at him — which would be over 100,000 pairs. Followed by milkshakes.

  127. says

    Real-time evidence of flattening the curve. Lodi had the first Covid-19 case in Italy, and implemented a shutdown on Feb 23. Bergamo waited until March 8.
    Look at the difference.

    Incredible research by @drjenndowd, @melindacmills & co-authors….”

    Jenn Dowd: “How does #Demography impact #COVID19 deaths? In new pre-print, we illustrate how older population age structure can interact with high mortality rates at older ages to produce a large # of fatalities, as in Italy….”

    They have projections for a few different countries based on age structure. I imagine it would be the same for states, making it imperative that states like Florida (and people in them) be as proactive as possible with social distancing.

  128. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake! According to the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog, hair furor decreed today as a “national day of prayer” (according to Pence, who, as I recall, decided to treat an HIV outbreak when he was governor in the same manner).

    Knowing how incompetent these people are — except at being Daleks — I assume they asked people to go the churches (but not synagogues, mosques, …) to pray away the virus.

  129. blf says

    Health Dalek Alex Azar (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog):

    Azar […] says any pandemic “runs the risk of exceeding our healthcare capacity”. Which seems obvious. He goes on to outline stockpiling and procedural preparations without mentioning many actual numbers.

    We have tremendous supplies but we want to acquire more, he says, adding that for national security purposes he will not disclose concrete numbers of things like, yes, ventilators. A recent Johns Hopkins study suggested the national stock of those was nowhere near enough to cope with what may be coming.

    The number / stockpile of ventilators is a state secret?


    Pence is also — no surprise here — confused by what Google is trying to do (a few minutes later than the above excerpt):

    Pence is […] asked about the testing process and the work with tech companies including Google and that vexed issue of the diagnostic website.

    At some point early in the week there will be a website that goes up, Pence says, where people can fill out a questionnaire to see if they might have coronavirus.

    Generalisimo Google needs to step up and clearly, unambiguously, in simple words that even hair furor might understand, that ain’t the plan.

  130. blf says

    Many of us seem to be using the Grauniad as a reliable, well-written (albeit with a reputation for typos) — and free to view — source of information on the Covid-19 pandemic (and other matters). Here’s a short synopsis by the Reader’s Editor of how they are dealing with situation, How the Guardian is facing the challenges of covering coronavirus (“Millions are visiting the website’s live blog every day and reading the paper. We need to make sure we get things right”). Also, of course, the Grauniad is partly supported by contributions, which — if it’s possible for you to do so — you may wish to consider.

  131. blf says

    Follow-up to @188, Perfume giant LVMH to make hand sanitiser for French hospitals:

    Luxury goods group will dedicate three sites to producing hand gel to help fight Covid-19 outbreak


    Twelve tonnes will be produced as soon as this week, instead of the usual Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy scents and make-up usually made at the three French sites. […]

    The gel will be delivered “at no charge” to French health authorities, in particular the 39 public hospitals in Paris, the group said on Sunday.

    “I wish to thank LVMH for acting so quickly: they made us this offer on Saturday night at 9pm (2000 GMT), and confirmed it on Sunday,” Paris hospitals chief Martine Hirsch told AFP.

    The city’s hospitals have not yet run out of gel but supplies are “strained,” a spokeswoman for the Paris hospital system said, adding that other companies have also said they are ready to donate supplies. […]

  132. says

    This is one of the many reasons I don’t think cable news should air these “briefings” live. (Aside from the fact that they totally violate the very guidelines the CDC simultaneously released – @ #218 above.) Any briefing should be by experts, conveying the necessary seriousness and urgency, organized with public safety in mind, focused on what’s happening and being done on the ground in the present rather than unreliable promises about the future, and respectful of the press and the public.

  133. says

    BREAKING: Governor Baker takes unprecedented steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He has amended the 250+ ban on large gatherings to be 25+. He also orders that MA bars and restaurants “shall not permit on premesis consumption.” Take out orders will be allowed….”

    Long thread with extensive Massachusetts restrictions follows.

  134. says

    BREAKING: Puerto Rico’s governor becomes the first Governor (in comparison to mainland Governors) to issue a round the clock lockdown & shutdown of business & daily life on the island until 3/30/20. Here is a govt official reading the executive order for everyone to understand.”

  135. says

    I was thinking this earlier today: “If the President would not go on TV for 3-6 weeks many lives would be saved.”

    Regretfully I report, in related news, “Boris Johnson to hold daily coronavirus press briefings “:

    Boris Johnson will seek to shore up public confidence in the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday by holding the first of what are intended to be daily ministerial press conferences on the crisis.

    The prime minister, who had been under growing pressure to start holding daily briefings amid criticism of his response to Covid-19 and the media strategy used to explain it, will personally chair many of the daily briefings, which No 10 says will continue “as long as necessary”….

  136. blf says

    France24 has just mentioned that Devin Nunes has encouraged people to go out to restaurants, &tc, “to support local business” (paraphrasing).

    From Time, Go to Your Local Pub: While Experts Call for Social Distancing, Rep Devin Nunes Advises People to Leave Their Homes (dated yesterday, 15th March):

    Rep Devin Nunes of California urged Americans to go out and visit bars and restaurants on Sunday, amid mounting calls by experts for people to avoid public gatherings to avoid spreading coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

    In an appearance on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures , Nunes told that people should “stop panicking here” [yes, albeit that’s not the way to calm people down —blf]. He was concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic could harm the economy, because people are scared to go out [that EXTREMELY LOUD whooshing sound is the point going over yer Dalek’s armoured pinhead –blf].

    If you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to go out and go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in easy. Let’s not hurt the working people in this country… go to your local pub


    In a Sunday appearance on CNN, one of the nation’s leading infectious disease experts, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr Anthony Fauci, discouraged Americans from visiting restaurants and bars.

    “I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and bars. Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see,” said Fauci.


    (Apologies if this particular Dalek’s dumbfeckery has already been noted — I did a quick search and didn’t see anything…)

  137. tomh says

    Because of course he is.

    Trump says he’s ‘strongly considering’ pardoning Michael Flynn
    By Felicia Sonmez and Rosalind S. Helderman
    March 15, 2020

    President Trump said Sunday that he is considering pardoning former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    The tweet from Trump came as the country is in the midst of a national emergency as officials work to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, with schools, businesses and other institutions shutting down.

    “So now it is reported that, after destroying his life & the life of his wonderful family (and many others also), the FBI, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, has ‘lost’ the records of General Michael Flynn,” Trump said in a tweet. “How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!”

    It is unclear what records Trump was referencing when he alleged that the Justice Department had “lost” material related to the case.

    Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. But in a stunning reversal two months ago, Flynn asked a federal judge for permission to withdraw his plea, alleging that prosecutors breached his cooperation agreement by demanding false testimony.

    If Trump pardons his former national security adviser, it would be the latest such move by the president after several recent high-profile clemency announcements. Last month, Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of seven convicted white-collar criminals alongside four others whose cases were not as well known.

    The pardons and commutations focused on the type of corruption and lying charges that Trump’s associates were convicted of as part of the Russia investigation. Among those whose crimes were forgiven were disgraced politician Rod R. Blagojevich, convicted junk bond king Michael Milken and former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik.

  138. says

    My personal take: Biden is doing better in the debate than Sanders so far. He sounds more pragmatic and focused on the immediate crisis, while Sanders is coming across as unyielding and all-or-nothing.

  139. says

    I appreciate that Sanders isn’t approaching the debate the way he suggested he would during his speech several days ago – firing questions at Biden. He’s acting like a candidate. He’s very strong when talking about the need for fundamental change, because he’s 100% right, but it’s not the right moment for opposing it to efforts to deal with the historic crisis. He should start moving in the unity direction Biden’s been signaling.

  140. says

    So I got a phone call and missed all the rest of the debate until a few minutes ago. For some reason, this happens with almost every debate. I never have the heart – and especially not now – to tell my more extroverted and less political friends that it’s even on.

    Debate seems a little silly at this point – fracking, Iraq War votes, the Soviet Union. WE’RE IN THE MIDST OF A FUCKING PANDEMIC AND MINUTES COUNT.

  141. says

    De Blasio statement quoted at the Guardian liveblog:

    Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbours. Now it is time to take yet another drastic step. The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.

    Tomorrow, I will sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery. Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close. The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 AM.

    This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.

    We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.

  142. says

    “Wow. MGM temporarily closing Las Vegas properties starting March 17th:

    Mandalay Bay
    MGM Grand
    New York New York
    Park MGM

    Chris Hayes: “Think of how serious this has to be for MGM to just voluntarily walk away from millions and millions of dollars.”

  143. says

    SC @236, “[…] Iraq War votes, the Soviet Union […]”

    I’m fed up with discussions of votes taken over, what, thirty years or so of each man’s political career. All the old, really old, stuff just falls flat for me now.

    We have two good men up there on the debate stage. Please talk about the here and now.

  144. says

    Followup to comments 159 and 183.

    German officials will hold crisis meetings on Monday to discuss a reported attempt by the United States government to secure the rights to any coronavirus vaccine developed by a German pharmaceutical company […]

    The German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday that the Trump administration wanted to gain the rights to a potential vaccines and move research and development on it to the U.S., according to the Washington Post.

    The German newspaper reported that the vaccine would be developed “only for the USA.”

    German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, asked by The Post to confirm the story, said he “heard from several other members of government today that is the case.”

    Reuters also reported Sunday that German government sources confirmed that U.S. administration is examining how it could access a vaccine developed by the German biopharmaceutical firm CureVac.

    The Monday meeting will also include German health officials and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

    CureVac said in a Sunday statement that it is “focused on the development of a coronavirus vaccine with the goal to reach, help and to protect people and patients worldwide.”

    The company also said it “abstains from commenting on speculations and rejects allegations about offers for acquisition of the company or its technology.”

    CureVac said on its website that CureVac CEO Daniel Menichella met with President Trump and Vice President Pence earlier this month to discuss a coronavirus vaccine. The CEO said at the time he was “very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months.” […]

    An anonymous White House official confirmed to the Washington Post that White House aides were unaware of President Trump sending any communications or offers to CureVac, but the person could not say absolutely if any discussion occurred.

    Richard Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany and the acting director of national intelligence, tweeted Sunday that the German report “was wrong.” […]


  145. says

    G liveblog: “In the US, after New York announced that bars, restaurants and entertainment venues should shut to limit the spread of coronavirus, LA has followed suit. Like New York, LA will allow food takeout and delivery.

    LA mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the executive action takes effect at midnight tonight, in just under four hours’ time.”

  146. says

    Interesting discussion by Dan Kois, writing for Slate: “Policy changes in reaction to the coronavirus reveal how absurd so many of our rules are to begin with.”

    […] The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that due to the coronavirus outbreak, they’re waiving the familiar four-ounce limit for liquids and gels—for hand sanitizer only. You may now bring a bottle of Purell as large as 12 ounces onto the plane to assist in your constant sanitizing of yourself, your family, your seat, your bag of peanuts, and everything else. All other liquids and gels, however, are still restricted to four ounces.[…]

    All over America, the coronavirus is revealing, or at least reminding us, just how much of contemporary American life is bullshit, with power structures built on punishment and fear as opposed to our best interest. Whenever the government or a corporation benevolently withdraws some punitive threat because of the coronavirus, it’s a signal that there was never any good reason for that threat to exist in the first place.

    Each day of this public health crisis brings a new example. People thrown in jail for minor offenses? San Antonio is one of many jurisdictions to announce that, to keep jails from being crowded with sick citizens, they’ll stop doing that. Why were they doing it in the first place?

    The federal government charging interest on loans to attend college? Well, Donald Trump has instructed government agencies who administer loans to waive interest accrual for the duration of the crisis. But why on earth is our government charging its own citizens interest anyway?

    Broadband data caps and throttled internet? Those have been eliminated by AT&T and other ISPs, because of the coronavirus. But data caps and throttling were really just veiled price hikes that served no real technical purpose. Why did we put up with them?

    Police helping landlords evict tenants in times of financial trouble? Due to the coronavirus, not anymore in New York, Miami, and New Orleans. But—and you see where this is going—why do the police aid evictions when tenants are stricken with other, non-coronavirus illnesses?

    The city shutting off your water, or your power, as punishment for hardship? During this public health emergency, plenty of cities and companies have suddenly found a way to keep service turned on. “As long as COVID-19 remains a health concern,” said Detroit mayor Mike Duggan, “no Detroit resident should have concerns about whether their water service will be interrupted.” Why in the hell should any Detroit resident have concerns about their water service being interrupted, ever? Shouldn’t clean water be the absolute base level of service delivered by a city to its residents?

    Sick employees forced to take unpaid leave or work while sick if they want to keep their jobs? Walmart recently announced it would provide up to two weeks of paid leave for any employee who contracts the coronavirus. […] But why should any sick worker fear losing their pay or their job at any time? And why are the most vulnerable to punitive sick leave practices the workers making the lowest wages?

    In every single one of these cases, it’s not just that most of these practices are accepted as “standard.” It’s that they are a way to punish people, to make lives more difficult, or to make sure that money keeps flowing upward. Up until now activists and customers have been meant to believe that the powers that be could never change these policies—it would be too expensive, or too unwieldy, or would simply upset the way things are done. But now, faced suddenly with an environment in which we’re all supposed to at least appear to be focused on the common good, the rule-makers have decided it’s OK to suspend them. […]

    When everything’s back to normal, will we accept cities cutting off their poorest residents’ water, or evicting the sick, or throwing someone in jail because they can’t afford to pay a fine? […]

    Keep your giant bottle of hand sanitizer. You’re gonna need it to deal with all the bullshit that’s coming back when the pandemic finally passes.


  147. says

    Free stuff to help you though your self-imposed isolation due to coronavirus:


    The Metropolitan Opera

    New York City’s Metropolitan Opera has canceled upcoming performances, but they’re tapping their strategic opera reserves to keep the nation’s opera levels high. Since 2006, the company has been transmitting live performances to movie theaters via satellite as part of a series called The Met: Live in HD; now the Met will be streaming those performances for free, one per day, for the duration of the closure. The company has announced the schedule for its first week of free opera:

    • Monday: Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna (2010).
    • Tuesday: Puccini’s La Bohème, conducted by Nicola Luisotti, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas, (2008).
    • Wednesday: Verdi’s Il Trovatore, conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky (2015).
    • Thursday: Verdi’s La Traviata, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey (2018).
    • Friday: Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez (2008).
    • Saturday: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczała, and Mariusz Kwiecien (2009).
    • Sunday: Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, conducted by Valery Gergiev, starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky (2007).

    Each opera will be available on the Met’s website at 7:30 p.m. eastern and will remain available to stream until 3:30 p.m. eastern the next day. They’ll also be available through the Met’s Opera on Demand apps.


    PBS announced Sunday that it would be streaming Ken Burns’ 1994 documentary miniseries Baseball for free. In a video message, Burns explained why he thought Baseball in particular was well-suited for this moment, above and beyond the fact that sports are canceled and America’s dads are going stir-crazy […]

    <a href=”>Slate link

    More at the link.

  148. says

    From Yamiche Alcindor:

    Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital: We need federal govt to make sure production of medical gear like masks & gowns is stepped up. We wouldn’t send soldiers into war w/o helmets. Our healthcare workers need proper gear to do battle against coronavirus.

  149. says

    Kind of irony-meter-breaking:

    Islamic State (ISIS) has adopted a safety-first approach to the coronavirus pandemic and advised its members not to travel to Europe, Homeland Security Today reported.

    In the latest edition of the terrorist group’s al-Naba newsletter, the editors who normally urge followers to carry out attacks on the West instead ask them to “stay away from the land of the epidemic” for the time being.

    In a full-page infographic on the back cover, a list of pro-tips instructs militants on how to stop the pandemic’s spread. ISIS members are advised to “put trust in God and seek refuge in Him from illnesses,” but to also “cover the mouth when yawning and sneezing,” and to wash their hands frequently.

    Those who believe they might have contracted coronavirus are told to stay away from areas under ISIS control in order to preserve the health of others and fulfil the holy “obligation of taking up the causes of protection from illnesses and avoiding them.” […]

    Politico link

    (Apologies for messing up the link in comment 250. I’m sure you can figure it out anyway.)

  150. blf says

    Trigger Warning: There is an extremely distressing image at the link.
    From the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    Many of you who were out at the weekend would have seen scenes of chaos in supermarkets across the world, where people stripped shelves as they stocked up in anticipation of lockdowns.

    Many people also shared pictures online of elderly and vulnerable people, who often cannot move as quickly as the young, staring forlornly at the empty shelves. [… extremely disturbing image…]

    In Australia, the Woolworths supermarket chain has decided to act by launching a dedicated shopping hour for elderly and vulnerable people. […]

    A similar move has been made in France, according to information sent in by a Guardian live blog reader this morning […]:

    I read on Le Monde live blog the following thing taking place in France: Big supermarkets such as Carrefour and Intermarche have decided this week to open their doors half an hour earlier in the morning and let in only customers over 70 (on showing of their ID cards) during that time, thereby allowing those people potentially more at risk to shop, away from the crowds (and possibly away from younger people elbowing them to get to pasta and toilet paper more quickly!). […]

    I can neither confirm nor deny that is happening — I might see that tomorrow when I maybe go out for a bit of shopping — what I’m most concerned about right now is whether or not there’s been any substantial amount of panic buying locally. When I last did some shopping (before Macron’s speech last Wednesday), there were few-to-no signs of any panic shopping. Another big concern is, being a pleasant Mediterranean seaside village (e.g., a nice place to retire to), there are a fair number of elderly / vulnerable people here, so in addition to trying to protect myself, I want to be very very careful about those individuals (well, about everybody, but especially the more vulnerable).

    (Also, damnit, my computer mouse is acting up — I had a helluva time creating and editing this excerpt. Off-hand, I don’t think I have a spare mouse, which is awkward… So apologies if my excerpting, &tc, becomes even harder to read than teh usaul Tpyos oferrringss !)

  151. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    [… Spain, f]aced with an overstretched healthcare system and a coronavirus epidemic that is spreading at one of the fastest rates in the world, the Spanish government has announced sweeping measures that allow it to take over private health care providers and requisition materials such as masks and Covid-19 tests.

    Private health care providers are now the disposition of public health authorities, health minister Salvador Illa said on Sunday evening. As well, any company that has supplies of protective gear that could help the country fight the virus — or any company capable of manufacturing these materials — have been given 48 hours to report to health authorities or otherwise face fines.


    The emergency measures also allow the Spanish government to temporarily requisition property and take over factories and businesses if necessary.

    In the span of three weeks, Spain has gone from having no documented cases of coronavirus to nearly 8,000 confirmed cases and 288 deaths.

    […] Military hospitals will also be put at the disposition of health authorities and military pharmacies have been ordered to increase the production of disinfectant and generic medicines.

    The military will also assist in handing out kits containing hygiene supplies and food to homeless people during the lockdown, while soup kitchens will be opened in order to offer takeaway food to those in need.

  152. blf says

    ‘Sending love’: German music venues emptied by Covid-19 livestream concerts:

    Amid widescale closures of cultural venues across the world in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus, classical music venues in Europe have turned to livestreaming their concerts in an effort to comfort music fans.

    At Staatsoper Berlin the curtain went up on a production of Bizet’s Carmen as planned on Thursday evening, under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, before empty stalls.

    Local broadcaster RBB, in collaboration with the Staatsoper, livestreamed a Geister (ghost) performance, starring Georgian mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, on the opera house’s website and it was also broadcast simultaneously on radio. The performers, all of whom played for free, applauded themselves at the end in place of the usual rousing appreciation and foot-stamping of a Berlin audience.

    “The mood amongst the performers had been extremely down when it became clear we would have to close the house to the public,” Matthias Schulz, the director of the Staatsoper, told the Guardian. “But there was a lot of enthusiasm about the idea of bringing the opera to the people despite the house being ordered to close to the public.

    “During the performance we could see that people had tuned in from around the world, about 160,000 in total, which is a staggering figure for us, and made us realise how important culture is in a time of crisis and ‘Corona-depression’.”

    [… numerous other examples of this happening…]

  153. blf says

    A few snippets from Macron to address nation as official warns French coronavirus situation ‘deteriorating very fast’:

    Earlier Monday, France’s director general of health Jérôme Salomon said that the coronavirus outbreak in France is “very worrying” and “deteriorating very fast”.

    “The number of cases double every three days,” Salomon said on the France Inter radio network.


    “Each Frenchman and Frenchwoman must tell themselves every morning: how can I reduce by a third or fourth the number of people I approach?

    “Remain at home, it’s as simple as that.”

    Apparently, yesterday, there were a disturbing number of people in Paris (at least) out and about (it was a nice sunny day (Paris in the spring)), despite the cafes, &tc, being closed. Locally, I have no idea; there wasn’t much noise at all, suggesting people were taking it more seriously. And today is also astonishingly quiet, e,g., no traffic at all that I can hear.

  154. says

    Daily WHO situation reports. I notice that the latest report (#55 for March 15) shows no new cases found in the US in the last 24 hours. Does that mean no testing is being done or are they just not reporting it to the WHO? I wouldn’t put it past them to just forget to report it. I guess we’ll have to see how the number updates.

  155. blf says

    LykeX@260, May not mean much. From the CDC, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US:

    This page will be updated regularly at noon Mondays through Fridays. Numbers close out at 4 pm the day before reporting.

    The timezone that “4pm” is in is not specified (typical States arrogance (FtB has the same problem)). The page claims to have been last updated on 13th March (last Friday), and indeed the data is only up 4pm ET Thursday 12th March.

    I presume then there simply won’t be any new data presented to WHO until c.12:00 CDC’s local time today (about 30 minutes from now), and it will only cover up to 16:00 CDC local time on Sunday 15th March.

  156. says

    NY Gov. Cuomo is doing a large press conference. He’s coordinating with the governors of NJ and CT. The precautions taken will be standardized across the three states, which is necessary. They’re also very similar to the policies being implemented in MA. He’s calling for more federal leadership and assistance, including deploying the Army Corps of Engineers to build emergency hospital capacity. It’s a very detailed briefing – exactly what’s been lacking at the national level.

  157. says

    Don’t know why I wrote “large press conference” in #264. I meant “long press conference.”

    Testing is scaling up in NY, so of course the number of new cases is increasing.

  158. blf says

    SC@265, “Testing is scaling up in NY, so of course the number of new cases is increasing.”

    Yes. One of the points the experts are making is one reason there are so many known cases in Washington state is because that’s where the first(? known) States-side case was found, and they began testing early, largely before anyone else. I.e., they went out looking for cases, and — unfortunately — found them. (Apologies for the lack of references.)

  159. tomh says

    McConnell Has a Request for Veteran Federal Judges: Please Quit
    The Senate majority leader has encouraged judges thinking about stepping down to do so soon to ensure that Republicans confirm their replacements this year.
    By Carl Hulse
    March 16, 2020

    WASHINGTON — Running out of federal court vacancies to fill, Senate Republicans have been quietly making overtures to sitting Republican-nominated judges who are eligible to retire to urge them to step aside so they can be replaced while the party still holds the Senate and the White House.

    Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation juggernaut for President Trump over the past three years, has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions.

    One of his Republican colleagues said others had also initiated outreach in an effort to heighten awareness among judges nominated by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush that making the change now would be advantageous.

    According to a tally by the Article III Project, more than 90 judges nominated by the three previous Republican presidents are either now eligible or will become eligible this year to take what is known as senior status, a form of semiretirement that enables their slots to be filled even though they can still hear cases, hire clerks and receive full pay.

    Twenty-eight of them are judges on the influential appeals courts, which have been a particular focus of the alliance between the Trump White House and Senate Republicans. One of them, Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, announced last week that he planned to retire in September, giving Mr. Trump the opportunity to make a third appointment to the powerful court in what will most likely be a contentious confirmation fight.

    Mr. Trump has already placed more than 50 appeals court judges on the bench during the past three years — more than a quarter of the overall appellate bench. The aggressive Republican push has been so efficient that only one appellate seat is currently open. Conservatives are eager to see some of the longer-tenured judges make room for younger candidates who could continue deciding cases for decades.

  160. blf says

    UK’s sewage system in danger of gridlock from toilet paper substitutes:

    Consumers have been warned of the dangers of substituting kitchen roll and wet wipes for toilet paper which — if flushed down the loo — could overwhelm the UK’s sewers.

    Innocent consumer substitutions due to shortages caused by fears about the spread of coronovirus could create serious consequences which are critical to society and life, according to leading supply chain academic Prof Richard Wilding.

    The warning comes amid panic buying sweeping UK supermarkets, which has resulted in some people trying to make a massive profit by selling toilet roll and hand sanitiser online.

    The Guardian found one UK-based eBay user selling a 72-pack of Andrex toilet roll for £84.99 on Monday morning — triple its retail price.

    [… more examples of profiteering…]

    During the widespread panic buying of toilet paper and other tissue products it is unlikely that consumers are considering the consequences of using alternative products for tasks they were not designed for, says Wilding.

    The UK’s largest water and wastewater service, Thames Water, is already warning customers not to “feed” so-called fatbergs — formed from a build-up of fat and non-biodegradable matter — by using kitchen towel and wet wipes as a substitute for toilet paper and flushing them down the loo. It says the only things that should be flushed are the 3Ps: poo, pee and (toilet) paper.


    Wilding also warned of the impact of consumers seeking face masks. “As shortages in pharmacies and chemists start to bite, consumers are reported to be turning to building hardware suppliers for face masks and body suits. This means builders, tilers and plasterers or other workers who regularly use masks for protection against airborne particulate matter, for instance, are struggling to get hold of this equipment from certain suppliers.”

  161. says

    Marco Rubio tweeted: “Please stop spreading stupid rumors about marshall law.


    We will continue to see closings & restrictions on hours of non-essential businesses in certain cities & states. But that is NOT marshall law.”

    So now “Marshall Law” is trending on Twitter. (Doesn’t hold a candle to #QuarantineCats.)

  162. johnson catman says

    re SC @271: So now, Marco Rubio has confirmed with “Marshall Law” that he is almost as intelligent as Dan Quayle with “potatoe”.

  163. says

    blf @254, my nephew, who is young and strong, braved the unruly crowds at one grocery store to buy some necessities for me.

    I walk with a cane now, so I am not fast nor agile.

  164. blf says

    SC@271, What has a short-lived Ozland TV series (Marshall Law) got to do with martial law?  ;-)

    (And, of course, he’s correct, even if his speling is woorser then mein.)

    Here in France, similar-ish rumours have been spreading about whatever it is Marcon is going to announce (if anything) tonight. Those rumours have been strenuously denied. One more plausible possibility (along those lines) are measures in the Paris area (at least) to encourage people to self-quarantine as much as possible (which is what they are supposed to be doing anyway); e.g., closing the parks and having roving teams supplying information and advice. (I would like to see public hand-washing stations set up; one of my concerns about the eventual need to go out is I’m unlikely to be able to wash my hands until I return home.)

  165. blf says

    Lynna@273, Good for your nephew! (claps)

    I myself am agile and reasonably fast, but point-blank refuse to engage in a rugby scrum. I’ve been making a list of things I need, and plotting out a route to various shops which should be open, but don’t actually strictly need to do anything for some days. Amusingly, the one thing I’m out of is garbage (bin) bags; normally, I’d just pop out, get some, probably have an espresso or tea, buy a newspaper, … some of that is now impossible, and the remainder can wait.

  166. tomh says

    The Ides of March are Come: A Trump Tweet Causes FISA Authorities to Expire
    Benjamin Wittes Monday, March 16, 2020

    President Trump took a brief break from his busy schedule of bungling the federal response to coronavirus and modeling disasterous presidential leadership in a crisis to, once again, make a fool of his attorney general.

    At 10:44 am on March 12, with the Dow Jones having shed nearly 2,000 points since the markets had opened, the president tweeted:

    Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted “coup” of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!

    Trump did not mention Attorney General Bill Barr in issuing this veto threat concerning the bipartisan compromise bill to reauthorize expiring FISA authorities. He didn’t need to. The day before, on behalf of the Trump administration, Barr had issued a statement that described the bill as follows:

    I have reviewed the House FISA bill and support its passage. The bill contains an array of new requirements and compliance provisions that will protect against abuse and misuse in the future while ensuring that this critical tool is available when appropriate to protect the safety of the American people…This legislation deserves broad bi-partisan support.

    The House had passed the bill with exactly what Barr sought: a broad, bipartisan, 278-to-136 vote. The next morning, with the Senate poised to send it to the president’s desk, Trump publicly slipped a knife between Barr’s ribs, suggesting he might veto the bill his own administration had endorsed.

    More explanation at the link.

  167. says

    Trump’s lickspittles have been claiming that Trump is focused on the federal government ressponse to the coronavirus outbreak. Maybe he is in an intermittent fashion, but I doubt even that.

    […] On Thursday, Trump tweeted that he still wants to know “what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States.” In reality, there was no such attempt, just as there was no criminal scheme against him.

    On Sunday morning, the president tweeted about a potential “treasure trove” of information in Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    On Sunday afternoon, Trump tweeted about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) making intemperate comments about the Supreme Court two weeks ago.

    Also on Sunday afternoon, he tweeted that he’s “strongly considering” rewarding Michael Flynn with “a full pardon.”

    On Sunday night, after the latest Democratic presidential primary debate, Trump embraced his Pundit in Chief role, tweeting, “I must say, that was a VERY boring debate.” This was followed by three more tweets about the debate this morning. […]


    Trump has very little, if any, ability to focus, to set priorities, etc.

    Just today, Trump told governors of states to find their own ventilators, etc.

    Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment—try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.

    Trump said that on a morning call with many governors.

    From New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    You will be not able to flatten the curve to avoid the wave. You will be short thousands of ICU beds, thousands of ventilators. The only way to prevent that today given this time constraint is to deploy The Army Corp of Engineers and use that to capacity retrofit existing facilities to free up hospital beds. The decision is easy when you have no options. Here, the nation has no option.

    But Trump says the governors are on their own.

    Here’s Trump’s take on that phone call:

    Just had a very good tele-conference with Nations’s Governors. Went very well. Cuomo of New York has to “do more”.

    That tweet was later deleted.

    Governors cannot buy what isn’t available. Governors do not have the billions that the feds have. Governors cannot rapidly increase hospital capacity, but the federal government could (with Army Core of Engineers).

  168. blf says

    US migrant deportations risk spreading coronavirus to Central America:

    Concerns are growing that the deportation of migrants from the US and Mexico could accelerate the spread of coronavirus in Central America, after authorities in Honduras suspended repatriation flights and confirmed the first two cases in the country.

    Honduras became the third country in Central America — and the first in the Northern Triangle region which is the largest source of migration to the US — to confirm cases of the virus late on Tuesday.

    The cases both involved people who had recently returned from Europe, but three men deported from the US also arrived presenting symptoms of the virus.


    Health workers have warned that the virus will inevitably find a foothold in US immigration detention centers where overcrowding and limited healthcare are endemic.

    Meanwhile the grueling journey north leaves migrants particularly vulnerable. Lack of food, sleep and constant stress lead to fatigue and weakened immune defenses, said Karen Valladares, director of the migrant rights group Fonamih in Honduras.


  169. says

    Well, it’s happening. A worker in an ICE detention facility has COVID-19 symptoms.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed that a staffer at a New Jersey immigration detention facility that is currently jailing more than 200 people has been tested for COVID-19 and is in self-quarantine, […]

    Emily Kassie of Marshall Project also confirmed the news, tweeting “an ICE field director said a staff member was self-isolating for COVID-19 symptoms. Two facility staff confirmed with me. The supervisor I was transferred to abruptly hung up.” The facility is operated by private prison profiteer CoreCivic, which already has a history of neglecting detainees, including kids. Following the reports, immigrant rights advocates re-upped calls on ICE to use its discretion to parole immigrants now.

    “With the news that a staff member at the Elizabeth Detention Center is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, the moment to take action is now,” advocacy group Make The Road New Jersey said in a statement. “ICE must release all immigrants in detention to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey. … Dozens of immigrants have died in ICE and CBP detention in the past two years due to negligent medical care. Detention is inhumane and unsafe, and ICE is ill-equipped to provide adequate care and ensure the safety of detainees. Detainees must be released for their safety.” […]


    And people thought that cruise ships were “petri dishes” perfectly set up to spread the disease. I think ICE detention centers may be the same … or worse.

    More details:

    […] In a letter last week, House Oversight and Reform Committee Democrats called on ICE and Customs and Border Protection to share their plans for a potential coronavirus outbreak in their facilities, writing, “DHS detention facilities may be especially vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus because of the administration’s excessive use of detention.” That excessive use only exacerbates ongoing conditions: Kassie tweeted the Elizabeth facility “has drawn criticism for its conditions in the past. In 2018, a Human Rights First report noted detainees at the facility complained of maggots in the food and poor medical access.” […]

    ICE has declined to comment on whether other detention facially staff nationwide had been tested for the virus. You know that means that they are not testing at all … anywhere. That lines up with their past behavior when they refused to have people in their custody vaccinated against the flu.

    Even worse:

    The Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Legal Aid Society continued, “we have learned through the people we represent who are incarcerated in these jails that they are not receiving basic disinfectants, soap, hand sanitizer, or even toilet paper.”

  170. says


    […] Pastor Guillermo Maldonado, of King Jesus International Ministry, a megachurch in Kendall, Florida, encouraged his congregation to keep coming to service, downplaying concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, as reported by the Miami Herald.

    “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,” Maldonado, a Trump supporter, said to his congregation, as reported by the outlet. […]

    “If we die, we die for Christ,” Maldonado told parishioners. “If we live, we live for Christ, so what do you lose?” […]


  171. says

    Mitch McConnell is delaying a vote on the much-needed bill to fight the outbreak of COVID-19. Delay!?

    […] The bill, negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will provide sick leave to workers who don’t have it, increase Medicaid funding, pump up unemployment insurance, and ensure food security. As the nation shuts down in response to novel coronavirus, we need that bill. Immediately. So what’s so urgent for Mitch? Not this bill.

    In fact, it now looks like his Senate won’t take up the bill until the last half of this week because there are Republicans who want to vote against it. Let that sink in. They want to vote against it. What could have happened, what should have happened, was two senators going to the Senate floor on Saturday and passing the bill by unanimous consent. If McConnell gave a damn about the nation, he would have made that happen. He doesn’t and he didn’t.

    The most important thing for him was going to Kentucky over the weekend with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to celebrate a newly minted federal judge, Justin Walker. Not just any new judge, but possibly the most unqualified judge McConnell has shoved through, ever. One who’s never tried a case, who the American Bar Association rated unqualified because he had absolutely no courtroom experience and at 37, hadn’t even been out of law school the 12 years that the ABA says is the minimum experience at practicing law judges should have. The ceremony wasn’t even real—Walker was sworn in and seated months ago.

    The delay has given Pelosi and Mnuchin some time to make technical corrections to their package, corrections that should pass in the House later Monday where it will sit. McConnell isn’t going to even consider doing anything with it when the Senate convenes late afternoon on Monday, or even on Tuesday morning, because he wants to wait until after the Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday when Mnuchin is expected to sell the package to grousing members like Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson who don’t want to make anything too easy for the nation’s workforce.

    So that’s what’s so “urgent” for McConnell. Business as usual.


  172. says

    Update on news from Canada, with quotes from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

    […] Speaking to reporters Monday outside his residence, Trudeau said people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will be denied entry into Canada. He noted there are exceptions for airline crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadians and, for now, U.S. citizens.

    “As the virus continues its spread we’ve decided to take increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your family safe,” said Trudeau, who has been in self-isolation and working from home since last Thursday when his wife tested positive for the coronavirus. “These measures will help save lives.”

    Trudeau said U.S. citizens are exempt from the ban because Canada’s southern neighbor is in a category of its own.

    Canada will also strengthen travel restrictions in other areas.

    Trudeau said that, starting Thursday, international flights will only be permitted to land in four cities’ airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. He said flights to Canada from the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Saint Pierre and Miquelon will be exempt from this rule.

    Airlines, he added, will be mandated to test all travelers and to prevent anyone showing symptoms of the virus from boarding a plane.

    The prime minister said Canadians returning home from abroad will have to self-isolate for 14 days. […]


  173. blf says

    Feckwads, US sales of guns and ammunition soar amid coronavirus panic buying:

    Long lines and ‘massive rush’ reported at gun stores across America

    Sales of guns and ammunition are soaring across the US as fears of possible social unrest amid the coronavirus crisis are prompting some Americans to turn to firearms as a form of self-protection.


    One customer told the LA Times: Politicians and anti-gun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need guns. But right now, a lot of people are truly scared, and they can make that decision themselves.

    Larry Hyatt, owner of one of the country’s largest gun shops, Hyatt Guns in Charlotte, North Carolina, told the Guardian that the scenes of mass buying at his store were virtually unprecedented. “This is only the second time in my 61 years of business that we’ve seen anything like this,” he said, adding that the first occasion was the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut in 2012.


    Hyatt said that the type of guns being bought was reflective of the fear prevalent among customers. There was almost no interest in hunting rifles. Instead, people were opting for target guns and there was big demand for AR-15 semi-automatic assault-style rifles.


    Apart from general anxiety surrounding coronavirus, some gun sale spikes appeared to have specific causes. The Trace reported that in Washington state and California, locations of early outbreaks of the virus, gun sales increased acutely propelled by Asian Americans fearful that they could face xenophobic and racist violence against their families given that the original source of coronavirus was China.

    Amid the rush to stockpile lethal weapons, there were concerns for the safety of children. A sudden increase in guns and rifles in domestic homes could put children at risk through lack of safe storage.

    Firearms are already the second most prevalent killer of children in the US after car crashes. In the 14- to 17-year-old bracket, gun injuries are the highest single cause of death, according to research from the University of Michigan school of public health.

    Well, mass murder with machine guns is one way of, perhaps, breaking the virus transmission… (Yes, yes, I know AR-15 Shooty McShootfaces are not machine gun Shooty McShootfaces; if one thinks that’s an important distinction,that WHOOSHING sound overhead is the delievery, by UN black helicopter, of a personalized invitation to buy some bridges a Nigerian prince happens to have for sale.)

  174. says

    Followup to comment 277.

    Response to Trump’s stupid remarks on a phone call to governors, and response to Trump’s equally stupid tweet:

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) fired back at President Trump on Monday after the president tweeted that he needed to “do more” to help fight the coronavirus.

    “Just had a very good tele-conference with Nations’s Governors. Went very well. Cuomo of New York has to ‘do more,’ ” Trump said in a since-deleted tweet.

    “No — YOU have to do something!” Cuomo responded. “You’re supposed to be the President.” […]

    Statistics, an update:

    COVID-19 has infected more than 4,100 people in the U.S., resulting in 71 deaths and 17 recoveries, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. New York state has confirmed 729 cases and six deaths.

  175. says

    blf @283, panic buying of ammunition is also evident in my community. Black humor about using one’s gun to get some toilet paper is also making the rounds.

  176. blf says

    Macron has just finished speaking (I didn’t watch / listen). Apparently, self-quarantine is now mandatory rather than recommended, there will some sort of checks and “punishment” for violations / violators; Round 2 of the local elections is postponed (dunno until when); and probably other stuff (France24 is now showing hair furor’s current babblings…). Details of the checks, &tc, will be issued later tonight. He mentioned being at “war” with Covid-2 multiple times, and is clearly ticked off at the eejits in Paris (and elsewhere?) who didn’t self-quarantine over the weekend.

  177. says

    G liveblog:

    The actor Idris Elba has announced he has tested positive for Covid-19.

    Last week it emerged that Elba met Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at an event in London just over week before she tested positive.

    The wife of the Canadian prime minister was photographed at the Wembley Arena We Day event on 4 March alongside the F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and the actor Elba. Video of the event showed Grégoire Trudeau embracing the former Australia prime minister Julia Gillard. A spokesman for Gillard said she is self-isolating as a precaution.

    On the same day Grégoire Trudeau also went to an International Women’s Day conference attended by the former supreme court president Lady Hale.

    There’s a tweet from him. He doesn’t have symptoms right now.

  178. says

    I can’t watch the Trump presser since it’ll make me too angry. The Guardian liveblog has updates:

    The US president, Donald Trump, is announcing more radical White House recommendations; telling Americans to avoid any gatherings of more than 10 people over the next 15 days and advising all states with evidence of community transmission to close down bars, restaurants, gyms and other facilities.

    The Trump administration’s measures are particularly focused on older people, whom it urged to stay home and keep away from other people.

  179. says

    Trump is wrong about President Obama’s response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, but Trump has been pushing his lies about this so hard that he has some people believing him.

    […] In early March, Trump told Sean Hannity that, despite million of cases and thousands of deaths, the Obama administration “didn’t do anything about” H1N1. On Friday, he tweeted that the Obama response had been “was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now.” And again on Sunday he tweeted, “The USA was never set up for this, just look at the catastrophe of the H1N1 Swine Flu (Biden in charge, 17,000 people lost, very late response time).” It’s become a talking point for his supporters online and off.

    As an infectious disease specialist, I would like to say first that, for the most part, this is not a particularly useful exercise from a medical perspective. Influenza has treatment with anti-virals and a moderately effective vaccine. Plus, because it circulates every year in life-threatening form, much of the population walks around with some level of immunity.

    In contrast, we have neither anti-virals nor a vaccine for COVID-19. Furthermore, though regular coronaviruses circulate every year (they are a leading cause of the common cold), the newer strains (SARS and COVID-19) are completely unfamiliar to our immune system. Right now, it appears that no one has a shred of preexisting protection (except those already infected and recovered).

    But who can resist comparing Obama and Trump? Let’s take a look at where Obama succeeded and where he failed. In short: Even with all the medical differences in diagnosis and management, the claim that the 2009 response was inadequate and led to excess deaths is a gross exaggeration.

    The facts are as follows: On April 21, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first U.S. cases of H1N1. One week later, the Food and Drug Administration approved a diagnostic test. The same day, CDC issued guidance for whether to close schools, resulting in some closures. The actual diagnostic test was shipped on May 1, 2009. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the novel H1N1 to be A pandemic.

    In the months that followed the first cases, CDC sent out multiple updates and guidelines and articulated who was at high risk for death. A vaccine was promised by late summer but not delivered until the autumn, after most of the cases had occurred. By end of the U.S. epidemic, about 60 million people had been infected and approximately 13,000 had died. As the Washington Post points out, in August 2009, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology thought 30,000 to 90,000 people would die.

    […] Most gave the effort good—even very good—marks but said that it fell short of great, citing delays in the vaccine and managing public expectations as areas for improvement. […]

    During and after the pandemic, many claimed that Obama was ginning up the threat, talking about it too much, scaring people too much, being the Nanny State nightmare libertarians had had warned us against. Likely, they said, the faux-crisis was really about developing more support for the Affordable Care Act […]

    More recently, Justin Fox at Bloomberg Opinion wrote a thorough comparison of the Obama and Trump responses. He looked in particular at one popular criticism made by Trump supporters about the timing of Obama’s declaration of “a national emergency.” The facts are that Obama declared a “public health emergency” a few weeks after the first cases in the U.S. This focused public attention and resources on the outbreak. In October, six months later, he declared “a national emergency.” Indeed, there are some subtle differences between the two federal responses, but for doctors and patients and human health, these bureaucratic distinctions are irrelevant.

    So in short: We knew how to diagnose and treat H1N1, even if it was different than normal. Clinicians did not require much help outside of the ordinary—though we got it […] In contrast, the current governmental response to COVID-19 is disorganized, disinterested, dishonest, and, worst of all, cruel to everyone in the country.


  180. blf says

    New vaccines must not be monopolised, G7 tells Donald Trump:

    World leaders at a G7 video summit told Donald Trump that medical firms must share and coordinate research on coronavirus vaccines rather than provide products exclusively to one country.

    The US president has been accused by German political leaders of trying to buy exclusive US access to vaccines being prepared by a German firm, CureVac laboratory.

    The German firm and the US have denied the move, but the episode, first reported in the German press at the weekend, has symbolised fears that Trump does not have an instinct to cooperate with other world leaders to fight the virus.


    The EU commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, added that the G7 had learned lessons from the previous Ebola epidemic on the need to set up a platform of renowned scientists, known as CEPI — Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation — to share research.


  181. says

    Re Lynna’s #s 277 and 284 – Cuomo also tweeted back:

    Happy to do your job, too.

    Just give me control of the Army Corps of Engineers and I’ll take it from there.”

    Trump is profoundly unfit and incapable of doing the job, and it continues to put millions of people in harm’s way.

  182. says

    SC @291, Ha! Great addition.

    If the governors do an exceptional job, or even if any of the state-level responses work, Trump will take credit for that. He doesn’t like to work, but he does like to take credit for other people’s works.

  183. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 293

    He doesn’t like to work, but he does like to take credit for other people’s works.

    Heh! That describes every successful capitalist in history.

  184. says

    Follow up to comments 277, 284, 291 and 293.

    It did not go over well when Donald Trump told governors that, when it came to coronavirus supplies like ventilators, they should “try getting it yourselves.” The New York Times reports that Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham “both reacted angrily to the administration’s slow response to the crisis.”

    “If one state doesn’t get the resources and materials they need, the entire nation continues to be at risk,” Lujan Grisham responded. Trump may not have the capacity to understand that we’re all connected to each other and that a weak response in some areas endangers us all, but Lujan Grisham is absolutely right.

    Additionally, “Ms. Lujan Grisham said the federal government was impeding the states’ ability to respond to the virus and was creating a situation where the states were competing against one another for the needed products.” We need this country’s government to be working as one to keep us all safe, not a situation where governors are trying to climb over each other in a fight for scraps. […]


  185. blf says

    The image / video currently at the top of the Grauniad’s live pandemic blog shows the Wacko House press briefing. I note the reporters are attempting some social distancing, sitting only in every other seat (both along a row and also front-and-back, like the black squares on a chessboard). That’s better, albeit still short of the 2 metres recommended (one metre around each person). However, the eejits on the podium are still jammed together.

  186. blf says

    me@298, Correction (of no importance): The image is currently at the top of the Grauniad’s current live States blog (not the pandemic blog).

  187. says

    BREAKING: U.S. House of Representatives postpones its next session.

    @LeaderHoyer announced Monday’s session no longer expected, and plans are being made to limit future votes.

    Members will be given 24 hours notice.”

  188. blf says

    SC@300, From memory, he could be sort-of correct (gasp!). It’s taken about three months of intensive effort in Big China — and I think the same is true-ish for S.Korea — and three months from now is that general timeframe. However, hair furor and his dalekocrazy still aren’t showing much, if any sign, of taking the matter seriously, putting in place necessary measures and contingency plans, &tc.

  189. says

    blf @ #303, yes, I think the reason it’s being quoted is that it possibly signals a shift to a more realistic if still optimistic stance, which could potentially lead to improved efforts. But finally recognizing the seriousness of the crisis will only fundamentally help if it leads to better plans. As several commentators have been noting, the (relatively) more sober language isn’t being matched by adequate action. But it is useful because it makes it harder for other Republicans and Fox to sustain their denialist propaganda.

  190. blf says

    SC@305, Interesting point about fox & thug blowhards. And yes, “the (relatively) more sober language isn’t being matched by adequate action” is part of what I was trying to point out in @300.


    Here in France, I’ve now decided to not attempt any shopping tomorrow (especially in the morning), since the new measures come into effect at noon — I fear a massive rugby scrum (panic buying) as people try to stock-up before that deadline. Still no news — practical details, actually — albeit they are expected momentarily (it’s now 10pm).

    I made a nice cream-of-veggies thai-style soup for dinner, which means I now have no (fresh) veggies. A nuisance…

  191. says

    Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price (linked at the G liveblog): “Am now self isolating for 14 days after my son showed Covid-19 symptoms. Will continue to work from home and encourage all to follow new social distancing guidelines to protect ourselves and loved ones. Difficult months ahead but we will get through it by supporting each other.”

  192. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Brazilian foreign trade secretary Marcos Troyjo, who was part of the delegation that met with the US president Donald Trump nine days ago, has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office has said.

    Troyjo, who is Brazil’s deputy economy minister, was also in Washington last week. He is showing no symptoms and is working from his home in strict isolation, a statement said.

  193. says

    BUSY BEACH! This is what @MyClearwater Beach looks like right now as spring break crowds flock to the sand. #Clearwater leaders haven’t decided if they should add a curfew or close beaches but they may vote on measures related to the #coronavirus this Thursday.”

    Images atl. From today. In Florida.

  194. blf says

    The French Minister of the Interior is speaking now, and boy is he annoyed at the eejets who ignored or selectively applied the previous measures. “Stay at home! That is essential.” A new form is compulsory to leave your house any any reason, fine of €30 if you don’t have it; applies to car and foot trips. If one must travel to (or for?) work, a new form from your employer is mandatory. Round 2 local elections are postponed for up to six weeks. Assorted international travel restrictions… at French borders, intra-EU, and entering EU(? Schengen Area?). “The measures are really quite simple. STAY AT HOME!” (He didn’t quite shout it, but…).

  195. says

    BuzzFeed – “The UK Only Realised ‘In The Last Few Days’ That Its Coronavirus Strategy Would ‘Likely Result In Hundreds of Thousands of Deaths'”:

    The UK only realised “in the last few days” that attempts to “mitigate” the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would not work, and that it needed to shift to a strategy to “suppress” the outbreak, according to a report by a team of experts who have been advising the government.

    The report, published by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team on Monday night, found that the strategy previously being pursued by the government — dubbed “mitigation” and involving home isolation of suspect cases and their family members but not including restrictions on wider society — would “likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over”.

    The mitigation strategy “focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread — reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection”, the report said, reflecting the UK strategy that was outlined last week by Boris Johnson and the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.

    But the approach was found to be unworkable. “Our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over,” perhaps by as much as eight times, the report said.

    In this scenario, the Imperial College team predicted as many as 250,000 deaths in Britain.

    “In the UK, this conclusion has only been reached in the last few days,” the report explained, due to new data on likely intensive care unit demand based on the experience of Italy and Britain so far.

    “We were expecting herd immunity to build. We now realise it’s not possible to cope with that.” Professor Azra Ghani, chair of infectious diseases epidemiology at Imperial, told journalists at a briefing on Monday night.

    As a result, the report — which its authors said had “informed policymaking in the UK and other countries in the last weeks” — said: “We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time.”

    A suppression strategy, along the lines of the approach adopted by the Chinese authorities, “aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely”.

    It requires “a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members”, and “may need to be supplemented by school and university closures”.

    An “intensive intervention package” will have to be “maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more)”, the report said, painting an extraordinary picture of what life could be like in the UK for the next year and a half.

    On Monday afternoon, the prime minister drastically tightened the measures imposed on the British public — signalling the UK’s move to a suppression strategy.

    Everyone in the UK should now stop “non-essential contact” with other people and avoid pubs, clubs, cinemas, and theatres to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Johnson announced.

    Families have also been urged to stay at home together for 14 days if any member is showing symptoms of the virus — a new, continuous cough or a fever.

    Johnson said that anyone in isolation should avoid leaving the house “even to buy food or essentials” and should exercise outside the house only at a safe distance from others….

  196. says

    Chris Hayes:

    Ok. Someone finally talked some sense into the President two months into this. That’s good. But we need huge amounts of coordinated federal *action* *assistance* and *mobilization* along with the shift in rhetoric.

  197. says

    Aaron Carroll:

    As we start to do social distancing, and we realize how hard it is, I want to take a minute and prep you for the next week. It’s important for everyone to understand that no matter how much we succeed in distancing, the numbers are going to get worse and worse and worse.

    There are a few reasons for that. The first is that we may do most testing. When we a case is announced, it’s not a new infection. It’s a found infection. There’s a lot more out there than we “know” just because we haven’t been able to look. Once we do, we will find it.

    So some of the increased numbers will actually be a “success” in our finally getting testing going.

    Other increases are going to be infections that HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED but are just coming into focus.

    It takes a number of days (up to 2 weeks) for some people to show symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, many people who are now social distancing are already infected. When they get sick – it’s not a failure of the distancing. They were already infected.

    It will take some time for all those “already infected” cases to show. They may also infect people they’re distancing with (ie family). Again – that’s not a failure. They were already sick.

    The flattening of the curve is still sometime off, even with social distancing. So we have to remain committed, even as the numbers go up over the next week or two.

    Don’t see that as a failure. It’s somewhat inevitable. Don’t panic. Prepare yourselves for the news.

    If we commit to real social distancing, the curve will flatten – as it has in other countries. And hopefully testing (at some point) will help. But it’s going to be rough for a while, and we need to stick to this for the longer haul.

    Don’t let horse race reporting confuse you. Know what to expect. Prepare for it. Know that these actions are part of a marathon, not a sprint.

  198. blf says

    This could get interesting / challenging (if true): France24’s live news is saying the new mandatory form to go outside your home is to be filled-in online. That is (1) not what I understood (I understood it would be downloadable and could be printed out); but, as France24 observes, (2) On-line fill-in will be very very challenging in IT (computing) terms (put on my own expert hat, I concur). (The form will not be available until tomorrow morning.) I suspect France24 is conflating two different things: A downloadable form, and a (vague) smartphone-resident “form” / certificate (this smartphone-resident version, as I understood it, was only for employees who cannot work at home?). Obviously there is confusion, fortunately, baring some unforseen problem, I don’t have to deal it for some days.

  199. says

    TPM – “6.7 Million People Ordered To Shelter In Place In Bay Area”:

    Nearly 7 million people have been ordered to “shelter in place” around the Bay Area of northern California.

    Six Bay Area counties announced its “shelter in place” order Monday for all residents, directing them to practice social distancing by staying home for the next three weeks in an effort for public health officials to combat the spread of the coronavirus.The order, which goes into effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, affects more than 6.7 million in San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties. It is effective until at least April 7 and is the most restrictive yet in the country.

    Although the order isn’t a full lockdown, it’s unclear how it will be enforced, but calls for the sheriff or chief of police to “ensure compliance.”

    “The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the (coronavirus) emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the order states. “One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable.”

    The order bans non-essential gatherings of any size as well as non-essential travel “on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit.” However, residents may travel to get necessary supplies, access health care and provide aid to family and friends in need of assistance. While public transit remains operation for only essential travel, people are expected to keep six feet apart.

    The order also advises elderly people and those with underlying health problems to stay inside except for when they need to acquire health care….

  200. blf says

    Trigger Warning: There’s a small number of brief distributing scenes in the video.
    A nice Grauniad video, Coronavirus, racism and solidarity, before and after Italy’s lockdown:

    Meet Sonia Zhou who runs a popular Chinese restaurant in Rome’s Chinatown. She has been forced to shut up shop, in part, due to people avoiding the area after the coronavirus outbreak. Italy has seen increased incidences of anti-Chinese racism but also much-needed acts of solidarity as it goes into national lockdown.

  201. tomh says

    @ #319
    That’s me. They say they will enforce it, but don’t say how. Are they going to drag all us old folks back to our houses and lock the doors?

  202. blf says

    And the loons crawl out… from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    Zimbabwe’s defence minister has described the coronavirus as God’s way of punishing the United States and other western countries for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, prompting the president to issue a statement Monday restating his governments commitment to fighting Covid-19. […]

  203. says

    The governor of Connecticut just said that 200 nurses in his state are currently furloughed because they were in contact with a carrier of coronavirus. He needs to test those nurses immediately, and he needs to get the healthy ones back on the job. He can’t get them tested!

    Trump is still lying about testing.

  204. says

    blf @323, I agree. One small thing I’ve been doing is taking my temperature everyday. It’s not a sure thing, but I feel it is helping me to make sure that I am not likely to infect others. So far, so good. All normal.

    Meanwhile, I have cut my grocery shopping visits in half. When I go, I do so early in the morning when the store is less busy. I don’t touch my face. I wash my hands thoroughly several times: before I go, when I return home, after I have put the groceries away, before I eat.

    I do not think that all of these measures will keep me from contracting coronavirus, I am just trying to improve the odds of staying healthy … and of not infecting others.

    My doctor does NOT have point of care testing available.

  205. blf says

    I was expecting something like this: Around a half an hour ago, the French government sent an SMS (txt) message to my mobile alerting me to the new restrictions. I (vaguely) recall Ireland having a similar capability, but have no idea if, e.g., the States can do anything similar.

  206. says

    Chris Haye’s interview with Elizabeth Warren (going on now) is good. She has good plans to get money into the system. “We need to start now.”

  207. blf says

    Lynna@326, Yes. One item on my “when I go out” list is to see if I can get a thermometer (perhaps astonishingly, I don’t have one). Fortunately, there is a pharmacy on a direct route between where I live and several critical shops, so I don’t have to take any detours. (I don’t expect them to have hand sanitiser — albeit I plan to ask — and have no idea if thermometers are being panic-bought or not.)

  208. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog, Greek Orthodox Church suspends daily services (quoted in full, my added emboldening):

    Against a backdrop of incredulity and consternation, the Greek Orthodox church has, if reluctantly, decided to suspend daily services after a marathon session of its Holy Synod, citing the need to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

    Emerging from the five-hour meeting, the Church’s spokesman said while Sunday mass could continue, daily liturgies would be halted until the Holy week preceding Orthodox Easter on April 19.

    Following the decision, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had implored clergy to listen to scientific advice, overrode the ruling in a tweet that made clear services would have to end. Period. “A government decision suspends operations in all areas of religious worship of any religion or dogma,” he wrote. “Churches remain open only for individual prayer. Protection of public health requires clear decisions.”

    In a country of little separation between church and state, the tweet came as a surprise to many.

    Greek congregations, like most across Europe, are comprised of older people thought to be more susceptible to the disease. As the Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod had steadfastly rejected calls for practices such as Holy Communion to be stopped, saying it would continue to hold services and conduct the sacrament despite public health fears raised by the issue of shared chalices.

    To the alarm of scientists, high-ranking metropolitans had invoked religious belief as a bulwark again Covid-19.

    Today’s decision was taken only after the government’s chief medical advisor on infectious diseases, professor Sotiris Tsiodras, personally intervened, appearing before the church’s top tier to explain the gravity of the situation.

    That, say insiders, paved the way for Mitsotakis to be able to take matters into his own hands.

  209. says

    New G liveblog:

    New Zealand’s government has announced a spending package equivalent to 4% of the country’s GDP in an attempt to fight the effects of Covid-19 on the country’s economy, in what ministers called the most significant peace-time economic plan in the country’s modern history.

    “This package is one of the largest in the world on a per capita basis,” Grant Robertson, the finance minister, told reporters at New Zealand’s parliament on Tuesday.

  210. says

    From Reuters:

    Mexico could consider tightening its northern border to slow the spread of coronavirus into its relatively unaffected territory, health officials said on Friday, with an eye to containing a U.S. outbreak that has infected more than 1,800 people. […]


  211. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump gives himself a “10” for his coronavirus response.

    Asked how he would rate his response to the coronavirus during a press briefing Monday, Donald Trump put himself on a par with ’80s film star Bo Derek: “I’d rate it a 10,” he responded. “I think we’ve done a great job.” […]

    During the press conference, Trump announced new nationwide guidelines to stem the spread of the virus, including recommending against gatherings of more than 10 people. Some media seemed impressed with Trump’s seriousness—as in, the fact that this is a serious and deadly problem seems to have finally breached the barricade to his brain.

    “Trump has been a different person in this presser,” claimed the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.

    Um, sorry, but no.

    One reporter revisited Trump’s “I don’t take responsibility at all” statement from Friday. “Does the buck stop with you, Mr. President?” he asked.

    “Normally yeah but this has never been done before,” Trump responded.

    So, no, not different. Indeed the same person who took no responsibility “at all” last week. Trump claimed of the record-setting contagion that “a month ago [he’d] never even thought about it.”

    And how about his repeated claim that “everything is under control” and “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA” and “we have tremendous control”? Not so much anymore.

    “That’s not under control for any place in the world,” Trump said of the virus Monday, denying that he was really talking about the virus when he claimed things were “under control.”

    Sounds just like a perfect 10. […]


  212. says

    Well, Yikes! and Yikes some more!

    […] I’m a 38-year-old physician. My specialty is surgery, and I’ve been practicing for 12 years including surgical training. I’m a member of three different private coronavirus Facebook groups just for physicians and other health care providers. Each group has anywhere from about 5,000 to 45,000 members. I am not on the front lines right now, but what I’m hearing is really alarming.

    I’ve never seen anything like this in my professional life.

    Early on, from what we were hearing from the media, many of us were sort of thinking this is a disease really for older people. Last week, even one of my own colleagues was in the anti-panic mode, you know, trying to calm everyone down, posting that, “It’s not surprising when grandma gets a cold that she might die.”

    But what I’m hearing from these groups now is that people are seeing folks in their thirties and forties getting severely ill. In the last 24 hours, just in these groups, I have heard of one paramedic and three ICU nurses that have been intubated. Clearly the denominator is huge, but even if it’s just a handful of critical cases of younger people, this is concerning and different from what we first thought.

    A major theme early on last week was the shortage of testing. Last week, one doctor reported a patient whom she could not get tested effectively telling her, “Well, if my government doesn’t think I need to be tested, then I’m not going to quarantine myself.” That highlights the message it sends when you know your doctor can’t get you tested. And I think what we were seeing there was also this scary feeling of the media reporting the number of confirmed cases, but not really the how many more symptomatic patients there were out there who couldn’t get a test.

    That was last week. But in the last couple days I’ve seen a lot of emphasis on the lack of proper protective gear for physicians. A lot of providers are coming into contact with patients who need to be tested so Covid could be ruled out. Now people are feeling like that could be anybody—they’re finding patients coming in for one reason, for example a fever and nausea, and then noting on a CT scan they also have signs of coronavirus infection.

    The government and some hospital administrators are saying, “You don’t need an N95 mask,” which is the kind that protects you from airborne diseases, illnesses that are known to be passed through the air like tuberculosis. We’re told that’s not necessary, that surgical masks are sufficient. However, there’s a lot of concern and anxiety about whether that is true—or whether that’s just because there is a shortage of N95 masks. We saw that with test kits, too. The criteria for testing was very strict. Is that more of a reflection of what the supply chain is rather than reflecting what is best for care and safety of our staff? […]

    People have been desperate to figure out ways that they can get N95s. We know that this virus is a little bit more hardy than normal respiratory viruses.

    A lot of providers are being asked to be on backup duty, also to be on as providers of services that in which they’re not board certified or that are really outside the scope of their normal practice […] What are their legal protections to be able to say, “These are too many work hours for me”? Or, “This is not my scope of practice and I’m not comfortable”?

    I’m seeing a lot of anxiety, especially from providers with young children, women who are pregnant. People in two physician households are really concerned about bringing this home to their kids and having it spread. What happens if they get sick? What happens if their spouse gets sick? […]

    Someone asked yesterday in a post, what else should I be doing or thinking about? Should I be drawing up a will? And other people in the comments said they were also thinking about that. It’s just heartbreaking. One of my best friends right now is on the front lines in New York. And she’s pregnant, and she’s in her second trimester, and she is not able to wear an N95. God bless her. She’s going into work and she’s doing it openly. And she’s very levelheaded about it. She’s just like, “This is my job.”


  213. says


    A week before Inauguration Day 2017, Trump team participated in a tabletop exercise with outgoing Obama team about preparing for a “major domestic incident”

    One incident discussed was a pandemic. I participated in that exercise.

    THREAD 1/6

  214. blf says

    Follow-up to @310 and @318, Here in France, the new mandatory form to justify why you are not self-quarantining at home is available. It’s fairly simple (and obviously put together in a hurry (e.g., not on French government letterhead)); a useful explainer is France’s lockdown permission form: What is it and where do you find it? (English). Like I thought / understood, it’s a one-page downloadable PDF; the “on-line fill-in” confusion is perhaps because it’s a PDF form one can — but does not need to — complete using your browser / viewer.

  215. blf says

    (Cross-posted from Intransitive, Disease Soaked: Communal virus communion, here at FtB.)

    From today’s Grauniad live pandemic blog:

    Iranian police have dispersed crowds who forced their way into two popular shrines soon after they were closed because of the threat from the coronavirus outbreak.

    Shia Muslims entered the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom on Monday night, protesting at the closures announced earlier in the day on Iranian state television.

    The shrines are normally open for prayers around the clock. Health officials had told pilgrims that kissing and touching the shrines could spread the virus, and had urged clergy to close them for weeks.

    Worshippers who entered the shrines chanted objections to the closures. In a statement, religious leaders and a prominent Qom seminary urged pilgrims to rely on wisdom and patience during the crisis.


    The virus has erupted as the world’s most popular religions prepare for important festivals during which large numbers of people usually gather to pray and celebrate. Easter and Passover take place next month, and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan […] begins around 23 April.

  216. says

    I’m finding Cuomo’s daily press conferences pretty comforting, I have to say. I was even annoyed when CNN cut away while he was telling stories about his family.

    Uki Goñi at the G liveblog:

    Far from taking the coronavirus threat seriously, thousands of Argentines, rather than going into self-isolation during the government-mandated two-week leave of absence from non-essential jobs, are rushing to the beach in the last days of Argentina’s southern hemisphere summer.

    A line of cars two kilometres long queued outside the Atlantic beach resort of Monte Hermoso Monday, waiting to get in and take advantage of the warm weather.

    “There’s a lot of irresponsibility and little understanding by people,” Monte Hermoso mayor Alejandro Dichiara, said in a radio interview.

    “We need to stay home and not contaminate.”

    “Can somebody explain to me why so many people are going to Monte Hermoso at this hour? It’s a quarantine.. not holidays! We never learn,” Leandro Grecco, a resident of the city of Ingeniero White, in the same province of Buenos Aires as Monter Hermoso, asked in the caption to a video he tweeted of the long line of cars.

    Argentina reported nine new cases of coronavirus Monday, including a health worker, bringing the total number of cases to 65, including two reported deaths, almost all recent arrivals from Europe, at least one from the US and another from Israel.

  217. says

    From NPR:

    Americans have little trust in the information they are hearing from President Trump about the novel coronavirus, and their confidence in the federal government’s response to it is declining sharply, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll…. Just 37% of Americans now say they had a good amount or a great deal of trust in what they’re hearing from the president, while 60% say they had not very much or no trust at all in what he’s saying.

    From the Washington Post:

    The global outbreak of the novel coronavirus has confronted President Trump with a public health and economic crisis that requires consistent, accurate messaging to guide Americans. But the president often has played down the threats, offering false, misleading or ignorant statements.

  218. says

    Rebranding a virus—yes, Trump is doing that.

    About a week ago, NBC News reported that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, agreed when questioned at a congressional hearing that it’s “absolutely wrong and inappropriate” to use labels such as “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese coronavirus” when discussing the viral outbreak.

    For many conservatives, the guidance was easily ignored. Many on the far-right, including on Capitol Hill, have made aggressive rhetorical efforts in recent weeks to change the nomenclature, apparently in the hopes of shifting public blame toward Beijing.

    Evidently, they’ve persuaded Donald Trump.

    […] Trump drew backlash Monday night after posting a tweet using the phrase “Chinese Virus.” … Chinese officials condemned Trump’s comments, saying his tweet smeared China. “The U.S. should first take care of its own matters,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

    Eight weeks after the United States uncovered its first confirmed coronavirus case, Trump hadn’t used the phrase “Chinese Virus” at all — in social media or in public. Late yesterday, however, he published a tweet with the phrase, and he used it again this morning.

    The xenophobic rebranding isn’t exactly subtle. What’s more, it comes a week after Trump’s widely panned Oval Office address in which he went out of his way to label COVID-19 a “foreign virus.” In literally his first sentence, Trump emphasized that the outbreak “started in China.”

    It’s a deeply unproductive shift in posture. Politico recently reported that the “escalating drumbeat against China is worrying some public health experts, who say the attempts to blame Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak could harm efforts to combat the spreading contagion […]

    What’s more, it’s also a dramatic reversal of sort. As recently as late January and early February, Trump seemed more than happy to defend China and vouch for its efforts to combat the virus.

    As the pressure grew, the American president, burdened by a difficult record on matters of race, apparently changed his mind.


  219. says

    Oh, FFS. Really? Louie Gohmert threw a wrench in the works. Other Republicans are finding ways to delay or weaken the bill to address some urgent issues related to the coronavirus outbreak.

    […] Trump endorsed the bill, which passed the House just after midnight on Saturday morning. Forty members voted against it, and all 40 were Republicans.

    At that point, the process got a little tricky. For one thing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave his chamber the weekend off. For another, there was a glitch in the House bill, which needed to be resolved before the legislation could advance. Because the House is out this week, the fix would need to be approved by a unanimous-consent request, which Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) spent much of yesterday blocking. Eventually, the Texan relented.

    The House on Monday night passed a bill containing technical corrections to the coronavirus relief bill it passed over the weekend, sending it to the Senate to be considered for a vote at some point this week. Around 8:10 p.m. ET, the House passed the corrections by unanimous consent during a pro forma session since the lower chamber is on recess this week.

    So, problem solved? Maybe. Roll Call reported overnight that the bill “is on track despite concerns among the GOP rank-and-file.” Some Senate Republicans indicated yesterday that they intended to make significant changes to the bill, which would require sending the proposal back to the House, which in turn would take more time. […]


  220. says

    Lynna @ #337, it’s infuriating. Some people in the media are a step away from “Trump became president today” absurdity. Weeks into a global pandemic, seeing the bottom drop out of the stock market and facing a wall of determined state governors, he finally acknowledged in a couple phrases the seriousness of the situation. In a press conference with about 16 people on the podium and in which his vapidity, derangement, and incompetence continued to be on full display, after which he tweeted insults at China and some of the governors.

    “Does this mark a change? Will he now take on a real leadership role?” they keep asking. No! He’s not capable of it, in any conceivable way. The best thing he could do would be to shut up and turn things over to Pence and Fauci and the experts and administrators. But he’s not even capable of that. Everyone has to work to limit the damage caused by his stupidity and profound psychological problems. It’s like if your cat meowed one day and it sounded like a word and you started suggesting to everyone that the cat seems to be learning the language and could start conversing in English soon. It’s not gonna happen, and it’s harmful for the media to maintain and share this delusion. They might think they can nudge him in the right direction with positive reinforcement, but they can’t because he’s not intellectually or psychologically capable of doing the job. Even if he wanted to do it, he cannot do it.

    Trump just thanked Chad Wolf at Homeland Security for the “incredible” job they did at the airports, claiming that thousands of people were “very carefully screened.” The execution of this policy was catastrophic, and he’s lying, again, about the screening.

  221. says

    Stupidity on a level that’s really dangerous: ex-Sheriff David Clarke urged his far-right followers to “take to the streets” and to defy coronavirus measures proposed by local, state or federal governments.

    Back when he was a regular on Fox News, then-Sheriff David Clarke’s main schtick involved vicious attacks on Black Lives Matter and the progressive movement, all of which led to Donald Trump very nearly naming him to a top seat in the Department of Home Security.

    Clarke, the onetime sheriff of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, was denied that spot, for reasons—mainly related to his propensity to spout conspiracy theories and “constitutionalist” nonsense—that became all too apparent over the weekend, as Clarke (who has over 900,000 followers) took to Twitter to denounce measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus as “government control” (nefariously manipulated by George Soros) and urging readers to “take the streets” in defiance of it.

    Oh, yes, of course a far right conspiracy theorist has to include George Soros. Sheesh.


    “GO INTO THE STREETS FOLKS. Visit bars, restaurants, shopping malls, CHURCHES and demand that your schools re-open. NOW! If government doesn’t stop this foolishness…STAY IN THE STREETS. END GOVERNEMNT CONTROL OVER OUR LIVES. IF NOT NOW, WHEN? THIS IS AN EXPLOITATION OF A CRISIS,” Clarke tweeted on Sunday.

    That tweet remained up on Monday. However, Twitter had removed three of his related tweets.

    “It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM. First sports, then schools and finally commercial business,” he warned in one since-deleted tweet. “Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out.”

    Clarke’s first tweet, also removed, along these lines was mostly venting: “I am TIRED of all this, ‘we have to err on the side of caution’ BULL SH*T. WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO REASONABLENESS DAMMIT. It’s the DAMN FLU. Stop being afraid and start being SENSIBLE. WASH YOUR FUCK*NG HANDS! STOP BUYING TOILET PAPER. DO YOU FUC*ING HEAR ME????”

    In short order, however, he shifted to figuring out a way to blame liberals for the pandemic’s spread. “Folks, the LEFT has collapsed our institutions that have served us in times of trouble,” he tweeted. “TAKE … TO … THE … STREETS. That is the battlefield the LEFT has defined. I will no longer sit back and watch the destruction of this great republic over the FLU.” (Twitter also deleted that tweet.)

    Clarke—who has participated in the anti-Semitic attacks on financier George Soros in the past—also directed his ire at the Jewish man he believes is the “puppet master” behind “the left”: “Not ONE media outlet has asked about George Soros’s involvement in the FLU panic. He is SOMEWHERE involved in this,” he tweeted Sunday.

    […] Clarke also emphasized his view that “our common enemy” is “the government.”

    Clarke’s subsequent career as a frequent guest on Fox News included segments featuring vicious attacks on President Obama, whom he claimed was attempting to foment racial unrest due to his “divisive policies,” as well as accusing Obama of waging a “war on cops.” He was especially vicious in his attacks on black activists and the Black Lives Matter movement, describing them as “scum” and “subhuman” and calling for their eradication.

    Eventually, after the DHS role was turned away, Fox News quietly scrubbed him from their contributor rolls.


    He still has 900,000 followers.

  222. blf says

    More eejits (see, e.g., @342), Paul Schrader slams coronavirus film shutdown, says he’d rather die on the job:

    Film director Paul Schrader has castigated the producers of his current film after the shoot was shut down after one of the actors was diagnosed with coronavirus.

    In a brief post on Facebook, Schrader said his producers had stopped the production five days before it was due to finish because an LA day player had the coronavirus.

    He added: Myself, I would have shot through hellfire rain to complete the film. I’m old and asthmatic, what better way to die than on the job?

    Mr self-centered egotistic wealthly moron, Other people on the set are not necessarily old, nor asthmatic, and certainly don’t want themselves to be infected; nor do they want to infect their families.

    Perhaps he should be banned from making any more movies, and all of his (admittedly fairly numerous) awards rescinded and revoked; and any prize money clawed back (for which many worthy Covid-19–related causes would have a far better use).

  223. says

    SC @346, Yes. I second everything you wrote.

    Follow-up to comment 345.

    The White House and Senate Republicans are considering melding together a House-passed coronavirus aid bill with President Donald Trump’s request for $850 billion in stimulus spending, creating one massive aid package that the Senate could pass this week.

    The thinking, as described by Senate Republican leadership aides and several Trump administration aides, is that one large-scale package would be easier to push through the Senate immediately. The downside is the House would have to also approve the package, and the House is in recess with no current plan to return. […]

    The White House Tuesday morning began signaling it was aiming for $850 billion in stimulus spending, split between a payroll tax cut, support for the airline industry and $250 billion in loans for small business. […]

    Trump’s favorite baby right now is the payroll tax cut … which has already been rejected by both Democrats and Republicans. It looks to me like Trump is looking for a way to leverage that back into the current, emergency legislation.

    […] The revised legislation — which provides paid sick days and emergency leave to workers who are ill or have family members with coronavirus — is set to be taken up the Senate this week.

    Several senior Democratic aides said combining the two packages into one would be a nonstarter in the House without significant concessions.

    House Democratic leaders are already dealing with rank-and-file anger over a “technical corrections” bill the House passed late Monday that actually included a significant rewrite to the paid leave language in a major concession to the White House.

    The change — which would allow more businesses to seek exemptions from offering their employees paid leave — was pushed by administration officials as necessary to get the bill through the Senate, according to multiple sources. […]

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. Republicans are just looking ways to weaken the assistance the House bill offered, and for ways to insert trumpian, crap policies into the bill.

  224. blf says

    And some people who are not eejits, bravo!
    Snippets from France ‘at war’: how Parisians are coping with life under lockdown:

    [… Suyaka] Sudre said the couple had debated long into the night, after President Emmanuel Macron on Monday evening announced the country’s toughest restrictions on public life outside wartime, whether to leave Paris and stay with relatives in the countryside.

    “In the end, we decided we couldn’t,” she said. “None of them are getting any younger, and we didn’t feel we could take the risk of infecting them. So we’ve stayed. […]”

    On the other hand:

    Those who stayed behind descended on the city’s groceries and supermarkets on Tuesday, clearing shelves of rice, pasta, tinned vegetables and long-life milk even though food stores, pharmacies and banks will stay open during the lockdown.

    I am presuming this also happened locally, albeit I have not been out. I have no known reason to go out for essentials until (estimated) Friday-ish.

    At least some shops are behaving sensibly:

    Outside the Carrefour [a major supermarket chain –blf] on the rue de Maubeuge, a queue of shoppers, each standing carefully an arm’s length away from the next, waited patiently. “They’re letting us in five or 10 at a time,” said Marianne Garçon […]

    Smaller food shops, their staff wearing face masks, were allowing only one or two people inside. A sign in the doorway of the baker’s on rue Condorcet read: “Yup, customers: please keep a safe distance, minimum one metre in the queue. Also, pay with contactless. We’re understaffed, so excuse us for the wait. But we keep smiling.”

    Some shops have hand sanitizer stations at the entrance.

    Yet, there are still eejits:

    On the rue des Martyrs, no one had yet bothered with the interior ministry’s form. [these vox pop interviews seem to have been done in the morning before the form became mandatory –blf] But it was early days. “I reckon I’ll be all right,” said Yvonne Carmoins, 67. “I’ve got my shopping trolley, my dog and a prescription from the doctor. That’s at least three good reasons to be out. If they try and send me home, they’ll be getting an earful.”

  225. says

    NYT editorial – “Stop Saying That Everything Is Under Control. It Isn’t.”:

    …The United States is again faced with a crisis that calls for a national response, demanding a mobilization of resources that the free market or individual states cannot achieve on their own. The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 180,000 people around the globe, and claimed more than 7,000 lives already. Based on what they know about the virus so far, experts say that between two million and 200 million people could be infected in the coming weeks and months, in the United States alone. If the worst came to pass, as many as 1.7 million of our neighbors and loved ones could die. How many people are affected depends on the actions that we as a nation take right now.

    Understandably, many American leaders have been focused on shoring up an economy that’s hemorrhaging money and trust. Many of the measures being advanced by Congress, like paid sick leave, are crucial. But the best hope for the economy, and the nation as a whole, is a strong public health response to the coronavirus.

    Confusion has reigned, among health care professionals and laypeople alike, over when or whether to test patients, quarantine the exposed and isolate the sick — even over how worried to be. Part of the problem is a supply shortage that is already growing dire in some places. But another problem is the lack of consistent messages from leaders, President Trump in particular. For weeks now, clear statements — for example, that the worst is yet to come — have been undercut by blithe assurances that everything is under control.

    It isn’t.

    Much of the country is facing a grave shortage of ventilators, intensive care beds, the equipment and chemicals needed for testing and all manner of medical supplies, including gloves, masks, swabs and wipes. More space is also needed to put these supplies to use healing patients. That means isolation wards for the sick and quarantine facilities for people who are exposed to the coronavirus.

    A number of hospitals and state and local governments are working to secure those resources. Some cities and states have purchased hotels and turned them into quarantine facilities. Others are in bidding wars with one another for ventilators, I.C.U. beds and other essential equipment. If the current projections hold — and if countries in Europe and cities in China are any indication — neither these siloed efforts, nor the nation’s federally maintained stash of medical supplies, will be enough to face what’s coming.

    Worse still, pitting states against each other for limited and essential supplies leaves poorer states at the mercy of the rich ones, and the states hit first against those that will be hard hit in the coming weeks. Yet on Monday, Mr. Trump told a group of governors desperate for equipment like ventilators, “Try getting it yourselves.”

    Instead, the federal government needs to step in to dramatically ramp up production of all these goods, just as it ramped up production of munitions during World War II. That will likely necessitate the use of the Defense Production Act, a law that enables the president to mobilize domestic industries in times of crisis. President Trump has not demonstrated the democratic instincts or administrative competence to inspire the confidence that he ought to be trusted with even more executive authority. But he’s the only president America’s got, and this crisis requires White House action. It’s not hard to imagine, with proper organization and support, American factories producing ventilators, masks, hand sanitizer, coronavirus tests and other medical equipment at a scale that would meet what the crisis demands. But it won’t happen overnight, and it certainly won’t happen without leadership.

    The government will also need to deploy the National Guard or the Army to convert facilities like convention centers, hotels and parking lots into testing sites, isolation units and humane quarantines.

    In the absence of government leadership, companies can still take it upon themselves to help the effort….

    Once supplies and space are secured, human capacity will need to be addressed. There are not enough health care workers who are trained and equipped to treat emergent, contagious lung infections in intensive care units. If those workers fall ill and are themselves quarantined and isolated — as some of them almost certainly will be, given the present lack of protective equipment — more will have to be trained and prepared.

    During World War II, housewives, students, retirees and the unemployed moved into the labor force to help build tanks, planes and armaments. It was a full-scale national effort — and something similar is called for today.

    This will take some creativity….

    But the larger community can also pitch in. The government could train America’s newly unemployed to sanitize hospital equipment or to deliver food to the elderly and the immune-compromised. Child care for hospital workers on the front lines is desperately needed. Through a new public works program, corps of people could implement infection control in nursing homes and other high-risk facilities — or teach workers of all kinds how best to protect themselves. There could even be a network of individuals tasked with making phone calls to combat loneliness for people in nursing homes and prisons while they’re unable to receive visitors.

    These are just a few possibilities for putting people to work confronting the crisis, to be sure. Any such programs stand a much better chance of success if the federal government encourages them and directs them through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In recent days, the president has begun calling on industry leaders to help: to develop vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments for the virus, to develop websites that might clarify and expedite testing and to cede their parking lots to the needs of the public.

    It’s time for him to call on the rest of the country as well. Not just to scrub hands and forego basketball games, Broadway shows and the local bar — but to meet this moment with urgency and altruism. Many Americans are anxious to help their fellow citizens. Would they ration their own consumption to help save them, if that’s what things came to?

    During World War II, the American government raised corporate and personal income taxes, pushed the business community onto a wartime footing, drafted millions into the military or civilian defense forces, rationed civilian goods in service of military goals and drastically reorganized society by offering jobs to women and minorities who had long been excluded from them. The society that emerged from the war was different — stronger — than the one that went into it.

    It is remarkable what the country can do when the lives of its citizens are in peril, and the final outcome is uncertain. What it takes is leadership to summon that spirit to act in the national interest.

  226. says

    Brennan Center report – “How to Protect the 2020 Vote from the Coronavirus”:

    The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) presents a difficult and novel challenge to the administration of the 2020 general election. Recent election emergencies have largely been caused by catastrophic weather events, and our country has done little election planning for pandemics. Unlike a hurricane, a pandemic does not have a discrete and relatively predictable end point. And avoiding large-scale social contact is a central feature of combating the crisis. These elements create distinct challenges for election officials on top of the significant and ongoing threats to the security of our election infrastructure.

    Given the scope of the challenge, large-scale preparation, backed by the concerted support of the government and the public, is needed immediately to ensure that the 2020 election is free, fair, accessible, and secure. We will need substantial modifications to our election procedures, substantial flexibility, and a substantial infusion of resources to ensure that every eligible American can register and vote safely, securely, accessibly, and as conveniently as possible; to ensure that every ballot cast by an eligible voter counts; to maintain the security of the election; and to ensure the safety of election workers. Below we outline the critical changes needed to ensure the election works.

    The key recommendations fall into five categories: (1) polling place modification and preparation; (2) expanded early voting; (3) a universal vote-by-mail option; (4) voter registration modification and preparation, including expanded online registration; and (5) voter education and manipulation prevention. We recommend that each state government establish an election pandemic task force to determine how best to implement relevant policy recommendations in their state. State and local officials must understand the laws and emergency rules applicable to their jurisdictions and consider appropriate adjustments to ensure that election officials have the authority needed to accomplish these modifications. For its part, Congress should immediately appropriate funds to ensure that election officials have the resources needed to make the needed adjustments to their voting systems. Congress should also establish baseline national rules to ensure that every eligible American can vote safely, securely, and accessibly in the midst of the pandemic. In the absence of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, care must be taken to ensure that changes are nondiscriminatory and do not negatively impact access for communities of color….

  227. says

    A majority of Democrats, 52%, say they are very concerned about the spread of coronavirus to their community vs. only 17% of Republicans via new NPR/PBS/Marist poll out today.

    41% of Republicans say they are ‘not very concerned’ or ‘not concerned at all’ about the spread of coronavirus to their community vs. only 16% of Democrats via new NPR/PBS/Marist poll out today.”

  228. blf says

    Another reckless übereejit, Twitter Deleted Sheriff Clarke’s Wildly Reckless Coronavirus Tweets, So He Says He’s Quitting:

    After being punished for promoting coronavirus disinformation on Twitter, the former Milwaukee sheriff claims he’ll move over to a social-media app popular with conservatives.

    Twitter on Monday deleted tweets from former Milwaukee Sheriff and staunch Donald Trump ally David Clarke Jr that downplayed the severity of the coronavirus by calling for businesses to ignore local ordinances aimed at stopping the pandemic.

    On Sunday night, Clarke sent a series of tweets suggesting that the newly enacted measures ordering bars and restaurants to shut down were part of a scheme to destroy capitalism. Clarke urged local businesses to defy the law and stay open.

    It is now evident that this is an orchestrated attempt to destroy CAPITALISM, Clarke wrote in a since deleted tweet. First sports, then schools and finally commercial businesses. Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out.

    Clarke also told his more than 900,000 followers on Twitter, in a now-deleted tweet, that coronavirus is the DAMN FLU. Clarke also suggested that billionaire Democratic financier George Soros, a frequent target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, was somehow involved in the pandemic.


    Clarke […] blasted Twitter for deleting the tweets in a statement to The Daily Beast that his press person demanded be printed in full (but which we’re not doing since we never agreed to do such a thing before he sent it).

    I notice that everytime I get on a roll excoriating liberals and their policies, complaints about my Tweets start to pop up, Clarke told The Daily Beast. I find it interesting that The Daily Beast can actually get a hold of a live spokesperson at Twitter. I nor anybody else can do that as the totalitarian fascist speech suppression bullies at Twitter cleverly have a system that doesn’t allow anyone to reach a human being during its appeal process. All I get are computer generated responses.

    If it is true that you cannot get a human at twitter, it’s probably because you’re a ranting loon who is both incompetent and not bona fide press / reporter, unlike (on all counts) the Daily Beast. (I also note the press are probably contacting twitter’s public relations office, while Clarke claims to trying to contact a different office.)

    Clarke isn’t the only prominent Trump supporter downplaying the risks associated with the coronavirus. On Sunday, former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik suggested that anti-coronavirus measures were hysteria being created to destabilize the country.

    Yep, just like in France, the UK (belatedly and ponderously slowly), Israel, Big China, and dozens of other countries. Some of the many other countries aren’t run by “leftists”, do not have a Muslim majority population, are not predominately brown or black; some even speak English, or do not have a “socialist” health care system. Most do, however, have some form of gun control, and probably all have significantly fewer mass shootings and school shootings.

    Some voices further on the right-wing fringe have also been able to advocate dangerous responses to the coronavirus. An account claiming to belong to Liz Crokin, a prominent promoter of the Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories who has been banned from Twitter in the past, urged her 10,000 followers not to wash their hands. The account claimed the idea of hand-washing to stop the spread of the coronavirus is media propaganda.


    Also, ‘You are criminally stupid’: David Clarke slammed for urging Americans to ignore CDC precautions and visit bars, restaurants, shopping malls (not excerpted).

  229. says

    Breaking News: China said it would expel American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.”

    Trump decided today was a good day to attack the NYT during a pandemic briefing.

  230. lumipuna says

    blf upthread:

    It’s taken about three months of intensive effort in Big China — and I think the same is true-ish for S.Korea — and three months from now is that general timeframe.

    Finland is just closing down, and the local experts say the mitigated epidemic will likely continue here from about now until about June. Only about 1-5 % of the population should get infected during this time. About 0.1 % of population should be hospitalized simultaneously at the peak stage, which seems more or less doable.

    What happens then, I don’t know. I guess we’ll ease the restrictions for a few months, if it seems like the virus doesn’t fare well in summer conditions. Then, there will inevitably be another long, dark winter.

  231. says

    Trump rewrites recent history:

    […] Trump’s habit of claiming world-class expertise in a wide variety of areas is well documented, but there’s a related element of the president’s personality that’s less recognized: he’s gifted with extraordinary hindsight.

    […] he predicted the rise of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, long before the 9/11 attacks, in one of his ghostwritten books. That didn’t actually happen in reality, but Trump nevertheless lamented the fact that people didn’t listen to his wisdom and prevent the attacks.

    Today, something similar happened. At a White House press briefing, NBC News’ Kristen Welker noted the president’s apparent shift in tone yesterday and asked what prompted it. Trump didn’t say he predicted the outbreak, but he questioned the premise of the question:

    “I have seen that where people actually liked [Monday’s tone], but I didn’t feel different. I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic…. I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”

    Yikes! Bullshit detectors are pinging wildly.

    I desperately wish this were true. It’s not. In fact, Trump is rewriting history in ways that are unusually brazen, even for him.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but it was literally eight days ago when the president published a tweet that read, “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.'”

    Are we really supposed to believe that the author of this missive saw the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic “long before it was called a pandemic” and he’s “always viewed it as very serious”?

    As the crisis took shape, Trump downplayed the threat over and over and over again, which leaves us with two possibilities: either he (a) minimized a public-health emergency he considered a pandemic “long before it was called a pandemic”; or (b) engaged in some over-the-top revisionist history this afternoon.

    Either way, given the number of Americans who already find it difficult to trust Trump’s rhetoric on the crisis, this really isn’t helpful.


  232. says

    Campaign news, (tidbits from Steve Benen):

    It’s Primary Day in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. Ohio was supposed to be part of this group, but as of this morning, following a series of confusing developments, the state’s primary date has been postponed.

    * A variety of other states have also decided to move their presidential primaries, including Maryland, which made its announcement this morning.

    * Multiple law enforcement officials confirmed with NBC News that Joe Biden is once again a protectee of the United States Secret Service.

    * In 2020 polling, the latest NBC News/Marist polling found Biden with modest leads over Donald Trump in Ohio and Arizona, both of which supported the Republican ticket four years ago. […]

    * NBC News is projecting that Biden has won the Democratic primary in the state of Washington. It means that of the six nominating contests held on March 10, the former vice president won five (Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington), while Bernie Sanders won one (North Dakota). […]

    Turnout for voting in Illinois is being reported as “extremely low.”

  233. says

    The voting/not voting clusterfuck in Illinois:

    My polling place at 6650 W Belden cancelled (not delayed), unannounced and unauthorized. Even Board of Elections wasn’t aware. So, what will you be doing for the people that literally can’t vote today, now?

    Election judges did not show up. Please contact the county which you live in or the voting website for updates.

    With more than 200 precincts changing locations in the last week, we urge all Chicago voters to visit before they go to vote Tuesday for the latest information. 1/4

    Capable and healthy voters are welcome and encouraged to offer to ask to be sworn in to help in any precinct that is overwhelmed. This is within the law, and judges who are sworn in to serve will be paid. 2/4

    This polling place is still waiting for its election gear. It opened at five this morning, but so far they don’t have any voting machines any card readers or anything else.


    Election Day so far: 5/8 election staff are elderly, we were provided with no cleaning supplies, we are missing an ENTIRE blue box (meaning anyone who comes to this precinct cannot vote), we are missing 2 election judges & nobody is answering our calls.

  234. says

    TPM – “WH Press Sec Is Now Working At Home ‘Out Of An Abundance Of Caution’”:

    White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN Monday that she’s working from home in light of President Trump’s meeting with members of a Brazilian delegation earlier this month, which included individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Grisham told CNN that the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” amid Trump’s increased appearances at White House coronavirus task force briefings….

    Just as easy to be snotty to journalists and not hold press briefings from home.

  235. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna#366 This morning’s Trib indicated that the situation was likely to be bad. Too much happening too fast for any real contingency planning. I voted early last week before the panic set in. Just me and the election judges when I popped in.

  236. says

    G liveblog:

    The actor Idris Elba has said he is “feeling OK” after contracting coronavirus, but that he is worried about it because he suffers from asthma. In a live broadcast on social media, he has said:

    I have asthma, so I sort of fit into the high category of most at risk. I have a respiratory issue and I have had asthma all my life. Catching corona was definitely not on my bucket list at all but even my asthma is OK.

    Of course, I’m worried. I’m worried about having the virus, I’m worried about having asthma and how that could make things really complicated for me really quickly.

    He said he was inspired to share information about what having the virus is like by his fellow actor, Tom Hanks, who has also tested positive for Covid-19 and was released from isolation this week.

  237. says

    So for St. Patrick’s Day, I’m doing a shot from a shot glass my great-…-grandfather brought with him when he came over during the Potato Famine. Drinking to the memory of the previous generations of my family and their struggles, and to everyone’s health. Sláinte!

  238. says

    Wolf Blitzer on CNN is talking to Shimon Prokupecz, who’s in midtown Manhattan. You can see all the people and cars behind him like it’s a fairly normal day. People aren’t appreciating this. They absolutely need to take stronger measures.

  239. says

    G liveblog:

    Ireland expects to see 15,000 or more cases of coronavirus in the Republic by the end of the month and yet more in the following weeks, the taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

    Making a rare live broadcast on Ireland’s state broadcaster RTÉ, Varadkar said it had been a St Patrick’s day “like no other, a day that none of us will ever forget”. He warned the nation:

    This is the calm before the storm, before the surge. And when it comes, and it will come, never will so many ask so much of so few. We will do all that we can to support them.

    Varadkar said there was a global and national emergency caused by a pandemic the like of which had never been seen before.

    In years to come, let them say of us when things were at their worst, we were at our best.

    The taoiseach said more restrictions of social interactions would be introduced. He said the best strategies to deal with the virus focus on testing, contact tracing and social distancing.

    Many of you want to know when this will be over. The truth is we don’t know yet … In short we are asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart.

  240. says

    Elizabeth Warren Calls for Border Wall Money to Be Redirected to Fight Coronavirus

    […] “take every dime that the president is now taking to spend on his racist wall at the southern border and divert it to the coronavirus”

    […] “I’m going to be introducing a plan tomorrow to take every dime that the president is now taking to spend on his racist wall at the southern border and divert it to the coronavirus,” the candidate said during a CNN town hall on Wednesday evening.

    The senator also had harsh words for the president earlier in the week, posting tweets accusing him of “absolutely bungling” the United States’ response to the spreading virus. She accused Trump of “putting our public health and our economy at risk” and said that is “why we need a real plan and an adult in charge.”

    […] Warren has also released a plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious disease in the U.S. […]

  241. says


    * Punting on FISA: “Senators passed Monday a 77-day extension of surveillance authorities that lapsed over the weekend. The passage of a bill by voice vote that would revive and extend surveillance powers — including those under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — until the end of May gives lawmakers breathing room to debate surveillance and privacy issues after the immediate threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.”

    * A once-in-a-century SCOTUS development: “The Supreme Court said it is postponing its next round of oral arguments, scheduled to begin Monday, because of concerns about the coronavirus. It is the first time the court has paused its work since 1918, when the Spanish flu epidemic hit Washington.”

  242. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC#381 MSNBC appears to have started remote guest with their election coverage. Just Rachel, Brian, and Steve a long ways away with his big board in the studio.

  243. says

    I have a friend in San Francisco who says that, when he went out yesterday evening to buy groceries, every bar and restaurant he passed was full of people. So, no, social distancing was NOT working like it is supposed to. People had to be ordered by the local government to obey “shelter in place” restrictions.

  244. says

    Biden has won in Florida and Illinois. Arizona too early to call.

    Biden 75%
    Sanders 18%

    Biden 70%
    Sanders 27%

    Sanders is not really addressing the situation. Instead, he tweeted: “We must waive all student loan payments for the duration of this emergency.”

    Some excerpts from what Biden said:

    […] Tackling this pandemic is a national emergency, akin to fighting a war. And it’s going to require leadership and cooperation from every level of government. It’s going to require us to move thoughtfully and decisively to quickly address both the public health crisis as well as the economic crisis. It’s going to require us to pay attention to the medical, scientific and health experts, and it’s going to require each of us to do our part. Yes, this is a moment where we need our leaders to lead. But it’s also a moment where the choices and decisions we make as individuals are going to collectively impact on what happens […]

    Sen. Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision for the need to provide affordable health care for all Americans, reduce income inequity that has risen so drastically, to tackling the existential threat of our time, climate change. Sen. Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues.

    Together they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country. So let me say especially to the young voters who’ve been inspired by Sen. Sanders: I hear you. I know what’s at stake. I know what we have to do. Our goal as a campaign and my goal as a candidate for president is to unify this party, then to unify the nation. […]

    Today, it looks like once again, in Florida and Illinois — we’re still waiting to hear from Arizona — our campaign has had a very good night. We moved closed to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, and we’re doing it by building the broad coalition we need to win in November. […]

  245. says

    There are now over 900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York.

    The governor of Nevada announced a statewide closure of all “nonessential” businesses for 30 days. “Every social contact increases your threat of exposure. The bigger the group, the higher the risk,” said Sisolak. Fifty-five coronavirus cases have been reported thus far in Nevada. One person has died in the state.

  246. says

    Changes at Amazon:

    Amazon is suspending shipments of nonessential items to its warehouses in the United States and United Kingdom following shortages triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” a spokesperson for the online retail giant said in a statement to The Hill Tuesday. “With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers.”

    The freeze will be effective from Tuesday through April 5, according to Amazon, although an extension has not been ruled out.

    Products already en route to facilities will still be accepted.

    Limiting nonessential items is just one step Amazon has taken in response to increased demand for products to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

    On Monday, Amazon announced it is planning to hire about 100,000 new employees.

    The company also plans to raise wages from $15 to $17 per hour for workers at American locations. […]


  247. says

    Governor Gavin Newsom says California schools will likely close for the remainder of the school year. The Los Angeles district announced it would increase the use of “grab and go” food services for children who might otherwise have no access to food.

  248. says

    More from Joe Biden’s speech tonight:

    […] Senator Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues. Together, they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country. So let me say to all of the young voters inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what’s at stake. I know what we have to do.

  249. Akira MacKenzie says


    I don’t believe you, Mr Biden. Fuck off, you capitalist pig.

    And no lectures from the gallery about “voting blue.” Biden is about as “blue “ as a stop sign.

    Trump or Biden (most likely Trump) this civilization is fucked.

  250. says

    G liveblog (linked @ #386):

    Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London, one of the lead authors on a paper which predicted around 250,000 people could die if the UK did not switch tactics, has said he has symptoms of Covid-19.

    He tweeted: “Sigh. Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self isolated even though I felt fine. Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of COVID-19 in Westminster.”

  251. says

    Guardian – “Japanese flu drug ‘clearly effective’ in treating coronavirus, says China”:

    Medical authorities in China have said a drug used in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appeared to be effective in coronavirus patients, Japanese media said on Wednesday.

    Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, said favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, had produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen involving 340 patients.

    “It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang told reporters on Tuesday.
    Coronavirus latest: at a glance
    Read more

    Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, public broadcaster NHK said.

    In addition, X-rays confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients who were treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% or those without the drug.

    Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, which developed the drug – also known as Avigan – in 2014, has declined to comment on the claims.

    Shares in the firm surged on Wednesday following Zhang’s comments, closing the morning up 14.7% at 5,207 yen, having briefly hit their daily limit high of 5,238 yen.

    Doctors in Japan are using the same drug in clinical studies on coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms, hoping it will prevent the virus from multiplying in patients.

    But a Japanese health ministry source suggested the drug was not as effective in people with more severe symptoms. “We’ve given Avigan to 70 to 80 people, but it doesn’t seem to work that well when the virus has already multiplied,” the source told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    Favipiravir would need government approval for full-scale use on Covid-19 patients, since it was originally intended to treat flu.

    A health official told the Mainichi the drug could be approved as early as May. “But if the results of clinical research are delayed, approval could also be delayed.”

  252. blf says

    Lynn@387, One reason France introduced a mandatory enforced self-quarantine is because (at least in Paris, and very probably elsewhere) it’s clear people weren’t following the previous then-recommendation to do that, but also weren’t social distancing when out. I’m listening to France24 as I type this, and they’ve just reported that in Spain, which has had a similar mandatory self-quarantine for some days now, there were far too many violations on a single day (yesterday?), so there are now(? or soon will be?) even more restrictive measures (didn’t catch the details).

  253. blf says

    (Apologies to Lynna for becoming an ofeering ti Tpyos in @399.)

    Also here in France, Army steps in to help badly-hit eastern France cope with coronavirus:

    France’s army transferred six patients in critical condition due to coronavirus to a military facility on Wednesday as it sought to ease the strain on hospitals in the east of the country that are struggling to cope with the spiralling number of cases.

    The decision to move patients in intensive care to the southeastern city of Toulon, where several military medical hospitals are located, comes as doctors in the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the eastern French cities of Mulhouse and Colmar warn that the system is at breaking point.

    “In the last three days, we have been submerged by emergencies and an incessant flux of patients who need to be hospitalised,” an internal memo from a doctor on the ground and seen by Reuters read.


    Eastern France has been worst hit. Doctors are reporting 10 new critical cases a day, a shortage of equipment and masks, increasing fatigue and growing number of hospital workers also falling ill. They have said they may need to start deciding which patients to prioritise.

    France in total has about 5,000 intensive care beds across the country. Out of more than 7,500 cases in France, Mulhouse has some 1,800 with the numbers increasing by 300 a day.

    […] As a result the government ordered the army to begin using its ‘Morphée system’ [MOdules de Réanimation pour Patients à Haute Élongation d’Évacuation], which has been in use by the military since 2006.

    This involves military transport planes that are equipped with intensive care units and are used to evacuate troops from conflict zones. Until now it has only ever been used five times in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

    “It is the first time that the Morphée system is used for the benefit of civilian patients,” a French military spokesman said. “The critical situation in Alsace justifies this.”

    The transfer is likely to be the first of several. Five other military hospitals across the country are also on alert.


    The French army is also preparing to put in place a field hospital with 30 more intensive care units near the main Mulhouse hospitals.

    “The implementation on the site in Mulhouse should be completed in the coming days,” the army said.

  254. blf says

    New Zealand passes landmark law to decriminalise abortion:

    New Zealand has passed a landmark bill to decriminalise abortion after decades of campaigning.


    The issue was scheduled to be put to a public referendum, but the government scrapped that option late on Wednesday.

    “For over 40 years, abortion has been the only medical procedure considered a crime in New Zealand. But from now abortions will be rightly treated as a health issue,” Little said in a statement.


    Key elements of the bill that passed through parliament included removing abortion from the Crimes Act, allowing women to choose abortion up to 20 weeks after consultation with a GP, and promoting counselling options for women choosing an abortion.


    Previously under New Zealand law, abortion was allowed only in cases of incest, “mental subnormality” or foetal abnormality, or where the physical or mental health of the mother was at serious risk. Other factors that were taken into consideration but were not grounds in themselves included “sexual violation” and “extremes of age”.

  255. blf says

    (Accidentally originally posted to poophead’s What are you doing to keep yourself sane while “socially distanced”? thread.)

    According to France24, apparently the (on-the-spot) fine here in France for violating the mandatory lockdown has risen from 38€ to 135€. Whilst it was warned (when the measures were announced?) that “could” (as I recall) happen, I do not know the reason why it has happened. I speculate too many people are violating, albeit another possible reason is the rapidly growing number of cases, and/or the French authorities taking proactive measures after massive violations in other countries (c.8000 in one day in Italy!). I still have no idea how well things are working here locally, as I still haven’t gone out, and still see no reason to do so until (estimated) Friday-ish.

  256. blf says

    Fun with automatic translation — Whilst checking my understanding of Coronavirus : les boulangeries autorisées à ouvrir 7 jours sur 7, Generalissimo Google provided (spurious spaces removed):

    “We have seen people arrive who want to buy 50 baguettes at once, there is a kind of psychosis in some people,” said Matthieu Labbé, general delegate of the Federation of bakery companies, to our colleagues at Le Point. “We had to explain to them that they had to ask for a limited amount of chopsticks.”

    People want to eat chopsticks?

  257. blf says

    Found via the BBC (Coronavirus: How are lockdowns and other measures being enforced?), One of two new Kentucky coronavirus cases refused to self-isolate. He’s being forced.:

    The patient from Nelson County is a 53-year-old man who tested positive at the University of Louisville, then left against medical advice, [Govenor Andy] Beshear said. The Lincoln Trail District Health Department asked him to self-quarantine, but he refused.

    A law enforcement officer has been posted outside the man’s home, Beshear said.

    “It’s a step I hoped I’d never have to take, but we can’t allow one person who we know has the virus to refuse to protect their neighbors,” Beshear said.

    Nelson County Judge-Executive Dean Watts had to declare a state of emergency in order to invoke a little-known statute that allows him to force a “self-isolation or quarantine.”

    “We’ve got to make sure that people who have tested positive, that we know could be spreading the virus, and simply refuse to do the right thing, do the right thing,” Beshear said.


  258. johnson catman says

    re blf @406: Hmmmmmm. What are the odds that the 53-year-old man in Kentucky is a republican and frequent viewer of Fox “News”? Maybe 100%? They are going to get us all killed. Even though they have changed their tune recently (SC @396).

  259. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s If schadenfreude were a panacea, we could all go back to work thread.)

    Reproduced in full from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog (with minor unmarked changes for formatting / stylistic reasons):

    Factcheck: coronavirus whatsapp messages

    False information on coronavirus has been circulating WhatsApp groups, targeting school and parent groups, writes my colleague Elena Morresi.

    If you have received a Whatsapp message starting like the below, the @guardian team have fact-checked the contents and found it lacking, read more on the global liveblog

    Originally circulating in Italy, it claimed to come from a nurse in Milan, in the US from Stanford University, [and] in the UK from an internal email for staff in St George’s Hospital.

    Here are a number of claims fact-checked:

    Covid-19 hates heat and dies if it is exposed to temperatures greater than 80°F (27°C) Therefore hot drinks such as infusions, broths or simply hot water should be consumed abundantly during the day (…) the Sun’s UV rays kill the virus.

    Soap and water or antibacterial gels used correctly are the only proven method to remove the virus from your hands and surfaces.

    The Coronavirus has a large size (diameter of 400-500 nanometres) so face masks can stop it, no special face masks are needed in daily life.

    Covid-19 [sic] is around 120–160 nanometres. No mask guarantees complete protection.

    If an infected person sneezes near us, stay 10 feet (3.3 metres) away to allow the virus fall to the ground.

    Social distancing will slow the spread, however a sneeze travels around 150 km/h and can stay in the air for some time — there is no precise 3-metre rule. [whilst the claim / reasoning is bogus, the Grauniad should have been more explicit than merely saying “social distancing [is good]” –blf]

    When the virus is on hard surfaces, it survives about 12 hours.

    It is not yet known how long Covid-19 survives on surfaces. Some coronaviruses can remain active outside a host for days.

    You can gargle with disinfectant solutions (…) that eliminate or minimize the amount of virus that can enter the throat.

    Covid-19 is a respiratory virus, mouthwash cannot protect against infection.

  260. says

    Reuters – “Democrat Sanders to ‘assess’ presidential campaign after latest losses to Biden”:

    Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders plans to talk with supporters to “assess his campaign” after bruising losses to Joe Biden in the most recent round of voting, his campaign said in a statement on Wednesday.

    “The next primary contest is at least three weeks away. Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in the statement. “In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable.”

    Biden, the former U.S. vice president, has emerged as the front-runner for the party’s nomination to take on Republican Donald Trump in November’s general election after a string of victories, including a dominating sweep on Tuesday in Florida, Illinois and Arizona.

    The Democratic nominating campaign begins an extended hiatus on Wednesday, with no primary votes scheduled for weeks amidst concerns about the coronavirus outbreak that has forced several states to postpone their contests. …

    I think it would be heroic for Sanders to leave the race.

  261. says

    rted by southpaw – Kamala Harris, February 13:

    Yesterday we had a Homeland Security committee meeting to discuss the coronavirus. No current Trump administration public health officials attended.

    Americans deserve public hearings as soon as possible to know what this administration is doing in response.

  262. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, Fears ‘lockdown parties’ will increase global spread of coronavirus (my added emboldening):

    Young people around the world have been defying official advice and bans to carry on socialising

    Authorities in countries around the world in lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak are warning young people to obey the rules on social distancing amid widespread reports of partying and gatherings.

    Scientists and health officials say that revellers meeting for “lockdown parties” and “end of world” drinking sessions were acting irresponsibly by contributing to the spread of the virus.

    Statistics show that young people are as likely as older people to get infected and spread the virus. But as younger people are far less likely to be badly affected and in 50% of cases will not even have symptoms, according to leading virologists, many young people say they have no reason to be scared of it.

    In Berlin, renowned for its non-stop partying, and a magnet for European clubbers, police have repeatedly broken up gatherings, and last weekend forced more than 60 clubs and bars to close after they defied a decree by local authorities ordering the closure of all entertainment venues.

    The police also report that “corona speakeasies” have been springing up in the city, where owners of closed bars have taped up the windows and locked the doors, only allowing in guests who have registered, or who deliver a specific knock on the door.


    In Dunedin, New Zealand, hundreds of university students have ignored government bans on mass gatherings and are pushing ahead with plans for the annual Hyde street party on 4 April, which is traditionally attended by thousands of first-year university students and infamous for fights, mass drunkenness and public disorder.

    Even though the event has officially been cancelled, on Facebook hundreds have indicated that they plan to flout the ban and party en masse regardless.

    [… more from Princeton (NJ), Israel, Hong Kong, Bangkok, &tc…]

    Virologists say the rules on social distancing, including avoiding unnecessary gatherings, is a highly convincing way to slow down the spread of the virus.

    “The measures are totally appropriate,” said Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, the leading public health body in Germany, urging people to follow them. “If we continue to move around and if we don’t manage to reduce our contacts and keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres between us and the next person, within two to three months we’ll have 10 million infected people in Germany alone,” he said on Wednesday.

    “The huge level of mobility among young people means the closure of clubs and bars is a good idea, and the point is that young people can infect the elderly and vulnerable.”

    A study from South Korea shows that around a third or 2,300 of the estimated 8,100 confirmed infections there are of young people aged between 20 and 29, the highest proportion of any age group. South Korea is believed to have so far carried out more coronavirus tests than any other country — 4,000 per million residents (four times as many as Italy and over 150 times more than the US), so the results are among the most comprehensive available and show that the behaviour of young people has a significant relevance on the development of the pandemic.

    Anyone in South Korea who wants a test is able to get one, and up to 20,000 are carried out every day, in one of around 50 drive-through testing stations across the country.


  263. says

    Reuters – “Coronavirus makes Taliban realise they need health workers alive not dead”:

    Scared by the prospect a coronavirus epidemic in parts of Afghanistan under their control, the Taliban have pledged their readiness to work with healthcare workers instead of killing them, as they have been accused of in the past.

    Back in September, the Taliban lifted a ban on the World Health Organisation and Red Cross from operating in militant-held territory, having warned them off in April because of suspicions over polio vaccination campaigns.

    Whatever reservations the militants held over eradicating that crippling disease, they have clearly grasped the dangers posed by coronavirus pandemic sweeping the rest of the world.

    “The Islamic Emirate via its Health Commission assures all international health organizations and WHO of its readiness to cooperate and coordinate with them in combating the coronavirus,” said Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s spokesman, on Twitter, using the term the group uses to describe itself.

    In a report in December, the World Health Organisation refrained from naming the Taliban or any other militant group as it counted the human and social cost of targeted attacks on healthcare during 2019.

    At least 51 healthcare workers, patients and supportive staff were killed and 142 others wounded. As a result of the attacks 192 health facilities were closed, of which only 34 were re-opened. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attacks that Afghan authorities have blamed on their fighters.

    Afghanistan currently has 22 confirmed coronavirus cases, with concerns growing particularly over the danger of infections among the thousands of Afghans crossing the border with Iran – one of the worst-affected nations.

    The country’s woefully inadequate health system would undoubtedly be overwhelmed if the virus were to take hold. Moreover, after 18 years of war the government only controls about half of the country.

    The rest is either controlled or contested by the insurgents, who have agreed a peace deal with the United States, but have yet to open talks with the government.

    Communities in ethnic Pashtun rural areas where the Taliban hold sway could suffer from the loss of access to health support in their villages as a result of past militant action.

    Access can be even worse for women in these communities due to conservative Pashtun attitudes on gender.

    Waheed Omer, an aide to President Ashraf Ghani, said he was still seeing reports of Taliban harassing health workers in some areas.

    “It should be stopped immediately,” he Tweeted on Wednesday.

  264. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC: “An earthquake just hit Utah and swarms of locusts are forming in parts of Africa and the Middle East.”

    And in DC, we still have Darth Cheeto. I assume they got to pick before we did.

  265. blf says

    Follow-up to @413 (and the discussion in What are you doing to keep yourself sane while “socially distanced”?), and another for feck’s sake, from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    The South American nation of Uruguay has reported 50 cases of coronavirus, a disproportionately large amount for this small nation of under 3.5 million inhabitants. (Argentina, next door, population 45 million, has only 79 reported cases).

    Doctors are talking of an “explosive growth” in numbers, say local press reports, after the first four cases were reported only last Friday.

    About 20 of the cases have been traced back to a single socialite from the capital city of Montevideo who went to a 500-guest wedding the same night after she returned from Spain on 7 March.

    The woman in question, Carmela Hontou, who has been diagnosed with the virus, has been giving interviews defending her assistance and adding that she also had lunch with her 84-year-old mother upon arrival and went to a lunch the next day “where there were also a lot of people.”

    Asked by a reporter if she didn’t consider it unwise to mingle in large crowds, given her situation, Hontou answered: That’s ridiculous, plus, do you know how many people came in that plane?

    Audio WhatsApp messages by friends of the woman and other wedding guests have circulated widely in Uruguay, expressing disbelief and anger at her attitude. The authorities have also intervened in the case of Hontou’s two sons, after security guards at her building reported to the authorities Tuesday that they have been allegedly visiting their mother and then going about their business as usual in Montevideo.


    Typhoid Mary springs to mine, albeit with the difference Ms Mallon “had” to work (but not as cook!) whilst Ms Hontou would seem to be somewhat wealthy?

  266. blf says

    A short excerpt from an interesting read, Daryl Davis: the black musician who converts Ku Klux Klan members:

    After an encounter with a KKK member in the 1980s, the accomplished pianist turned his focus to curing racism through education


    One of Davis’s first and most fabled encounters was with Grand Dragon Robert Kelly, who eventually became the Imperial Wizard of Maryland. After having his secretary set up a meeting with Kelly under the pretense of including him in a book about the KKK, Davis knew he was entering new territory. Kelly was unaware that Davis was black, so the grand reveal was a shock. After a few tense hours of conversation, the two parted ways, but their relationship did not end there.

    Eventually, Kelly began inviting Davis to his home and then to Klan rallies in which ritualistic chants were intoned, giant crosses were burned, and beer and hot dogs were served. Kelly shared everything with him, including the deeply racial stereotypes that help form the foundation of the Klan’s hatred. All the while, Davis listened, asked questions, took notes, and through his actions, slowly dispelled each stereotype one by one. With each conversation, the gap between them narrowed and they were able to become friends.

    Finally, Kelly quit the Klan, shut down his entire chapter and, as a trophy of sorts, gave his robe to Davis. That was not the last Ku Klux Klan robe that Davis would be gifted nor was it the last Klansman he would befriend.

    “I still perform sometimes and though I would much rather be on stage playing happy music all the time and seeing people dance than be talking about the KKK and neo-Nazis,” Davis says with a laugh, “I have found that lecturing and talking and educating people is far more important and necessary today.”


  267. blf says

    Follow-up to @222, French alcohol, perfume producers lend a hand in coronavirus fight:

    Pernod-Ricard, the Paris-based company that owns the Absolut Vodka brand, said Wednesday it was donating 70,000 litres of pure alcohol to Laboratoire Cooper, one of France’s leaders in everyday health products, and the leading supplier of hydroalcoholic gels to pharmacies.

    This would allow Cooper to increase alcohol deliveries to pharmacies to produce hydroalcoholic gel, the equivalent of approximately 1.8 million individual 50 ml vials. In turn, Laboratoire Cooper committed to donating the equivalent of the donation to various health care associations.


  268. says

    Biden statement: ‘Much has been made of changes in the President’s tone in recent days. But with…a virus spreading, our economy on the brink — and so many lives at stake — it’s time to be less interested in the President’s words and more focused on his actions — or inaction’.”

  269. says

    G liveblog:

    Boris Johnson has announced that UK schools will now close, after days of pressure and the announcement of the closure of schools in Wales and Scotland earlier today.

    The prime minister said there is a need to apply further pressure on the upward curve of the disease.

  270. says

    Stock trading has already been suspended once today when it hit the -7% circuit breaker. It’s now down around 10%, and I believe the next circuit breaker is at -13%.

  271. says

    SC @409, “I think it would be heroic for Sanders to leave the race.” Yes. Sanders may be giving the small portion of his supporters who act like cult-of-personality-followers time to get used to the situation as it actually is right now.

    One thing that’s good: Sanders is being an active and engaged Senator right now. Just like Elizabeth Warren. Both Senators are doing their jobs. That’s good.

    When Sanders does decide to suspend his campaign (leave the race), as is inevitable, I hope he does it in a really unifying way. We’ll see.

    Joe Biden now has 1,165 delegates. Sanders has 880, and Warren has 72.

  272. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @430: You forgot to mention that Tulsi has 2 delegates and hasn’t dropped out of the race. (/s)

  273. says

    Hospital ship Comfort based in Norfolk, Va. not able to arrive in New York harbor until mid-April for coronavirus relief: U.S. Navy officials.

    Second hospital ship, Mercy, (there are only two), could set sail from San Diego in 5 days if ordered, officials say.

    Both hospital ships designed for trauma patients, not coronavirus cases, Defense Secretary Esper said Tuesday. Ships would be used to take pressure off general hospitals.”

    Neither is fully staffed.

  274. says

    G liveblog:

    The coronavirus death toll in Italy has increased by 475 in a single day, according to the latest figures from the Civil Protection Agency.

    In total the death toll from the virus in the country, the worst affected in Europe by the outbreak, has now reached 2,978 – an increase of 19%, Reuters reported.

    The total number of cases in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the virus, rose to 35,713 from a previous 31,506, up 13.35%

    Of those originally infected, 4,025 had fully recovered compared to 2,941 the day before. Some 2,257 people were in intensive care against a previous 2,060.

  275. says

    Bernie Sanders: “It’s been estimated that the unemployment rate could hit 20% if we don’t act boldly. A one or two time check isn’t good enough—the government must tell every small and mid-sized business owner that we’ll cover 100% of their payroll if they don’t lay off anyone during this crisis.”

  276. says

    johnson catman @431, so sorry for omitting that important piece of information. :-)

    In other campaign news: NBC News reported overnight that Donald Trump’s primary wins yesterday have “put him over the threshold of delegates needed to officially become the party’s nominee.”

  277. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @435: Yeah, when the RNC only puts one name on the ballot, it is kind of hard for that candidate to lose.

  278. says

    Senators Ron Wyden and Amy Klobuchar are pushing for federal vote-by-mail legislation, with Senate Democrats having introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act to ensure that voting by mail is possible in every state.

    Sounds like a good idea to me. And we need to start preparing for this now.

  279. says

    Tweet o’ the day.

    I was just reading this passage the other day. Weirdly, I only have – and have only read – The Plague in Spanish, but here it is in Spanish:

    A partir de ese momento, se puede decir que la peste fue nuestro único asunto. Hasta entonces, a pesar de la sorpresa y la inquietud que habían causado aquellos acontecimientos singulares, cada uno de nuestros conciudadanos había continuado sus ocupaciones, como había podido, en su puesto habitual. Y, sin duda, esto debía continuar. Pero una vez cerradas las puertas, se dieron cuenta de que estaban, y el narrador también, cogidos en la misma red y que había que arreglárselas. Así fue que, por ejemplo, un sentimiento tan individual como es el de la separación de un ser querido se convirtió de pronto, desde las primeras semanas, mezclado a aquel miedo, en el sufrimiento principal de todo un pueblo durante aquel largo exilio.

  280. says

    johnson catman @436, yep. It’s a “Dear Leader” situation, and it has echoes of other dictator/authoritarian leaders claiming to have received 99% of the vote. Ridiculous, and anti-democratic.

  281. says

    Rand Paul does it again, slowing progress on current coronavirus response bill

    The Senate, finally back in session after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s long weekend off and hours of confusion about the way forward on the COVID-19 response, determined that it would pass the House paid leave bill quickly Tuesday afternoon and work on the next phase. McConnell wasn’t counting on his fellow Kentucky Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, to throw a wrench in the works […] It’s Rand Paul. Of course he’s going to throw a tantrum.

    Paul is insisting on an amendment that won’t pass—just like he did with the first coronavirus bill—to offset costs of the bill. His insistence meant the Senate couldn’t just pass the House bill by unanimous consent and move on. That means much of Wednesday will be spent on procedural maneuvers for that bill, which may get a vote by the end of the day. Meanwhile, McConnell is turning to the next massive package and doing it in the most politicized way he can by shutting Democrats out of the process. […]


  282. says

    “The number of confirmed cases in New York has risen 1,008 in one day to a total of 2,382. The City is hitting the steeper part of its epidemic curve and case counts will rise more quickly as screening is widely deployed.”

    Helpful response: “Any interventions we make today will not show up in our data for 1-2 weeks. The time it takes to show symptoms after being infected is about 5 days, and then it takes a few more days to get diagnosed and counted. For a while it will feel like nothing is working but it takes time.

  283. says

    Coronavirus has been detected in 19 elder care facilities in Florida.

    Appropriate action being taken now, but it is too late:

    […] Mayhew‘s [Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew] agency has dispatched strike teams to affected facilities, contingents that include a nurse, an epidemiologist, an infectious disease prevention specialist and a state facility surveyor from the health agency who has been trained on the coronavirus.

    Her agency is working to set up a statewide, around-the-clock hotline so nursing homes can more easily report suspected cases of the coronavirus, or Covid-19. […]


  284. says

    Foreclosures and evictions have been suspended by some federal agencies.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be suspending foreclosures and evictions for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration until the end of April, President Donald Trump announced today. A HUD source familiar with the stop said the suspension would protect 8.1 million households.

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency also ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for any single-family mortgages they back for “at least 60 days,” the agency said today.

    “This foreclosure and eviction suspension allows homeowners with an enterprise-backed mortgage to stay in their homes during this national emergency,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said in an emailed statement.

    “As a reminder, borrowers affected by the coronavirus who are having difficulty paying their mortgage should reach out to their mortgage servicers as soon as possible,” Calabria added. The enterprises are working with mortgage servicers to ensure that borrowers facing hardship because of the coronavirus can get assistance.” […]


    I mistrust bankers, other lenders, and team Trump’s heads of various agencies so much that I will be watching for them to find ways to make money from this catastrophe—and perhaps to find more ways to squeeze borrowers down the line.

  285. says

    Southern Poverty Law Center reported an uptick in white nationalist groups, and the SPLC issued warnings for potential violence.

    […] The group’s annual report, which counts far-right extremist groups, showed the number of white nationalist groups reached 155 in 2019. Since 2017, there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of these groups, some of which are calling for bloodshed and a race war.

    Several of these groups identify themselves as “accelerationists,” who believe “mass violence is necessary to bring about the collapse of our pluralistic society,” according to the report.

    “Much of the movement’s energy lies in the growing accelerationist wing, which, for the most part, is organized in informal online communities rather than formal groups,” the report continues.

    Other groups identify as “mainstreamers” or the “dissident right,” who attempt to move mainstream politics to accept white supremacist ideas.

    Overall, the report says the number of hate groups reduced by 8 percent to 940 in 2019 after reaching its record high of 1,020 in 2018. But the center says the decrease “does not reflect a significant diminishment of the radical right.”

    The SPLC highlighted an increase in hate groups since President Trump has taken office in 2017, calling the president “an avatar” for the white nationalists’ “grievances.”

    […] White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Associated Press that Trump “has repeatedly condemned racism, bigotry, and violence of all forms.” He designated SPLC as a “far-left smear organization that only wants to libel, slander, and defame this president with its lies.”

    “Their comments are disgusting, particularly while the president demonstrates unprecedented leadership to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Deere said. […]


    Bullshit from team Trump. Just today, Trump insisted on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.” He went on to propose new rules barring all asylum seekers in Mexico from entering the USA. He did that today.

  286. says

    Not getting one’s priorities straight. At all.

    Idaho’s legislature hasn’t properly (thoroughly) addressed the coronavirus. But it has passed 2 anti-trans bills this week.

    The latest bill would reinstitute a ban on gender changes on birth certificates, defying a federal court ruling.

    As of Tuesday morning, Idaho Gov. Brad Little had declared a state of emergency in the state over the coronavirus outbreak. Some school districts have closed. But the state legislature hadn’t yet taken action to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

    It has, though, passed two anti-transgender bills.

    Monday evening, the state Senate passed a bill banning gender changes on birth certificates issued in the state. The bill had already passed the state House of Representatives and will now head to Little’s desk for either a signature or a veto.

    The bill is one of three anti-trans proposals under consideration in the state, including a ban on allowing trans girls to compete in girls’ sports passed Monday and a proposal to make treating trans youth for gender dysphoria a felony that is under consideration in the legislature.

    “Boys are boys and girls are girls,” Republican state Sen. Lee Heider said Monday. “No doctor, no judge, no Department of Health and Welfare is going to change that reality.”

    Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has recommended that the governor veto both the birth certificate bill and the trans girl sports ban to avoid lengthy and costly legal battles in federal courts — particularly given that a measure similar to the new birth certificate bill has already been declared unconstitutional.

    In 2018, a federal court ruled that Idaho’s then-ban on birth certificate gender changes was unconstitutional, ordering that the state create a process to do so containing no “onerous burdens.” The state Department of Health and Welfare soon adopted rules to facilitate that process.

    The new bill attempts to skirt the federal ruling by establishing a “biological basis” for sex markers on birth certificates, citing a government need for accurate record-keeping. But the courts aren’t likely to accept this distinction. Because the state allows changes for other data fields on birth certificates, the court is likely to take a close look at equal protection implications of the potential new law because of the way it singles out transgender people but not others. […]


  287. says

    From Wonkette:

    Marie Newman is great. She has promised to fight for abortion rights, single-payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, and gun control. And last night, she successfully primaried Dan Lipinski, who’s basically a right-wing Republican who happens to have a “D” next to his name.

    Dan Lipinski inherited his seat in Congress from his daddy and has represented Illinois’s Third District since 2005. This is a reliably blue district that encompasses part of the Southwest Side of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. Newman’s primary win ends almost four decades of Lipinski rule of this district. […]

    Lipinski has a long history of voting against women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, workers, and people who need healthcare. He vocally opposed and voted against the ACA. He voted for DOMA, opposed marriage equality, and was the only House Democrat who wouldn’t co-sponsor the Equality Act. He voted against the DREAM Act. In January, Lipinski signed on to a Republican amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2012, he refused to endorse incumbent president Barack Obama.

    So yeah, he’s just a gem.

    But now, he’s gone! And that’s not all — he lost to a badass, qualified, progressive woman! […]

  288. says

    Followup to comments 119 and 429 (SC @429).

    As the stock market nose dives … again, there are even more dire economic indicators.

    […] early numbers, based on state unemployment applications, are already staggering:

    • In Colorado, 6,800 people attempted to file on Tuesday, compared with just 400 a week before.

    • Connecticut residents filed 30,000 unemployment claims between Friday and Monday; the state usually receives 3,000 to 3,500 per week.

    • New Jersey saw 15,000 applications on Monday, a one-day record.

    • In New York, state officials are comparing the spike in claims to what occurred after 9/11.

    • Massachusetts residents filed almost 20,000 claims on Monday alone, more than all of February.

    • In Ohio, where the governor has ordered all bars and restaurants closed, residents filed more than 48,000 claims over two days, compared with 1,825 during the same two days a week before.

    […] the extraordinary surge of layoffs has sent state unemployment websites crashing. The situation is not good.

    These numbers are shocking but not surprising. The entire leisure and hospitality sector, which employs 16.9 million people, or about 10 percent of the entire labor force, is going into hibernation […]

    Congress needs to act now. And it needs to do more than send checks to families, which seems to be the leading plan on Capitol Hill right now. As I argued on Tuesday, the bureaucratic process of actually sending that money to households could take a fair amount of time, which we do not have.

    The current White House plan reportedly calls for sending two rounds of $1,000 payments, which according to Politico would be made on April 6 and May 1. But even the Economic Security Project, a group that advocates for direct cash assistance to families, is pointing out that there will be logistical difficulties. “The IRS does not have the capacity to send checks to all Americans at the same time; based on prior stimulus efforts, we know that the IRS can only send about 9 million checks each week,” its co-chair Natalie Foster said in a statement Wednesday. Beyond that, the sorts of payments the administration is envisioning will only cover a fraction of the income some people are now losing.

    The fastest, most efficient way to help the jobless would be to dramatically boost unemployment benefits, and increase support for states to handle the flood of applications. Sending a check to every family is a useful, catchy idea. But it’s not enough. We have to help the unemployed now.

  289. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 440

    Rand Paul does it again, slowing progress on current coronavirus response bill.

    If that sentence was five words shorter, you can use it to describe ANYTHING Rand Paul does in Congress.

  290. blf says

    Akira MacKenzie@448, referring to Lynna@440:

    Rand Paul does it again, slowing progress on current coronavirus response bill.
    If that sentence was five words shorter, you can use it to describe ANYTHING Rand Paul does in Congress.

    And if that sentence were two words shorter, it’d apply to anything Rand Paul does (and says?), with the notable & significant exception of increasing his bank balance.

  291. blf says

    An example of why Ireland is the other place I’d like to live (well, return to and live there again — even if the pubs are currently shut (see @187)), from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    As many as 24,000 former healthcare workers have contacted the Irish health service to offer their help after the country’s government issued a call to arms.

    Retired doctors, nurses, therapists and university students with sufficient skills to register with the health service have been calling in, Reuters reports.

    The health minister, Simon Harris, has promised there will be no financial limits to the recruitment programme and no constraint on the numbers to be hired, telling prospective candidates: “Your country needs you.”

    When I was living in Dublin, one incident I recall was a petite young lady calmly cursing out — no raised voice or anything, just a brilliant mixture of reasoning and satire, sprinkled with creative curses, all delivered in a very Irish brogue — two men, at least one at obvious visitor, pushing and shoving and yelling (but not swinging) outside a pub. Things like (paraphrasing), “Yer a vistor and most welcome, but boxing clubs are in gyms, not in streets. I suggesting yer fecking masochism go express itself where they know how to channel it.” And on and on. After the brawl ended, we got to talking. I complimented her on her bravery and approach, and she shrugged and said (from memory) “Isn’t that what fecking people do?” Cheers!

  292. blf says

    Speaking of Ireland (see @451), from today’s Grauniad live pandemic blog (some time ago):

    50% of ventilators used in acute hospitals worldwide are made in Ireland

    Trump has spoken about the key role played by Ireland in the pharmaceutical world as the world searches for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, adding that the US was looking to bring a lot more back home [back? –blf]:

    As reported by RTE news, 50% of ventilators used in acute hospitals worldwide are made in Ireland, according to IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for the attraction and retention of inward foreign direct investment into Ireland

  293. says

    In response to SC @450:

    The mayor of Seattle wanted “mass tents” from the federal government to rapidly build shelters to house people in quarantine. The state of New York pleaded for help from the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly build hospitals. Oregon’s governor repeatedly pressed the Department of Health and Human Services for hundreds of thousands of respirators, gowns and gloves, face shields or goggles.

    After so many pleas, President Trump moved on Tuesday to begin enlisting much of his government in what the White House had called for weeks a “whole of government” approach to the rampaging coronavirus.

    “We are starting the process,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, referring to New York’s request to enlist the Army Corps of Engineers. “The state is working on it very hard themselves, but we’ll probably supplement what they’re doing.”

    The shift came four days after an internal report from the Department of Health and Human Services — not yet shared with the public — concluded that the “pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness.”

    The virus, the agency assumed, will likely cause “significant shortages for government, private sector, and individual U.S. consumers,” and coordination by the federal government would be imperative, according to the document.

    Yet despite promises of a “whole of government” effort, key agencies — like the Army Corps of Engineers, other parts of the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs — had not been asked to play much of a role.

    Even after Mr. Trump committed to supporting the states on Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers said it still had not received direction from the administration.

    “We need the federal government to play its role,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Monday. “The federal government has tremendous capacity.”

    Much of that capacity is untapped. Hospital ships are at port. The Department of Veterans Affairs, legally designated as the backup health care system in national emergencies, awaits requests for help. The veterans department has a surplus of beds in many of its 172 hospital centers and a robust number of special rooms for patients with breathing disorders.

    The sprawling system of emergency doctors and nurses ready to be deployed by the Department of Health and Human Services — known as the National Disaster Medical System — is also still waiting for orders, other than to staff locations where passengers offloaded from cruise ships are being quarantined.

    And the Defense Department, home to 1.3 million active-duty troops and a civilian and military infrastructure that has made planning for national emergencies almost an art form, has yet to be deployed to its fullest capabilities. Senior Pentagon officials say they are ready to assist in any way that is ordered, but they also caution that much of the military’s emergency medical care is designed for combat trauma or natural disasters, and not mass quarantine for infections.

    The last time a big infectious disease epidemic emerged, President Barack Obama dispatched nearly 3,000 American troops to Liberia to build hospitals and treatment centers to help fight Ebola. The Pentagon opened a joint command operation at a hotel in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, to coordinate the international effort to combat the disease, and the American military provided engineers to help construct additional treatment facilities and sent people to train health care workers in West Africa to deal with the crisis.

    The Pentagon has been running through plans for how the American military can help: from deploying the Navy hospital ships Comfort and Mercy to the Hudson River in New York or off the West Coast, to building tent cities near urban hospitals to triage cases.

    Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on Tuesday that the Pentagon will make available to the Department of Health and Human Services up to 5 million N95 masks, which can be used to help protect health workers and vulnerable people against the virus. The first 1 million, he said, would be available immediately.

    The Pentagon is also making available 2,000 ventilators for hospitals, a number that would likely fall far short of the expected need. “When you look at how many people who may need it, 2,000 doesn’t put much of a dent into it,” Mr. Esper said.

    While the military has infrastructure to help, there are limits. Field hospitals and the hospital ships Comfort and Mercy are designed for trauma wounds, not viruses, and doctors would have to be assigned from elsewhere to staff them. The ships, each with a 1,000-bed capacity, have helped in natural disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes, not quarantines.

    Defense Department officials said that one possibility for the Comfort would be to station in New York Harbor and absorb non-coronavirus patients in New York, which could free up hospital beds in Manhattan to attend to infectious cases.

    Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said he spoke with Mr. Esper on Tuesday about getting access to resources that could help bolster new medical hospitals. “I would predict that we’re going to be getting real help from the Department of Defense,” Mr. Inslee said.

    Part of the challenge is the unusual role Mr. Trump has assigned to FEMA, which traditionally is designated as the lead federal agency during major disasters to take requests from individual states and then assign other federal players to deliver on the pleas for help. In this case, Mr. Trump has left the Department of Health and Human Services in charge.

    “FEMA is the only agency that has the full breadth of the federal government at its disposal,” said Daniel J. Kaniewski, who in January left FEMA, after serving since the start of the Trump administration as one of the agency’s top officials.

    The disaster is so far-reaching, the federal government would never be able to address all of the requests for help, said W. Craig Fugate, who led FEMA during the Obama administration.

    “Most disaster supplies are set up for localized disaster response,” he said, “not something that is occurring across the nation all at the same time.”

    Oregon sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on March 3 asking for 400,000 N95 masks. For days, it got no response, and only by March 14 received its first shipment, of 36,800 masks. But there was a problem. Most of the equipment they got was well past the expiration date and so “wouldn’t be suitable for surgical settings,” the state said.

    New York City also put in a request for more than 2 million masks and only received 76,000; all were expired, said Deanne Criswell, New York City’s emergency management commissioner. The city is also requesting additional beds for intensive care units and medical teams to staff a convention center that may be turned into a temporary medical facility.

    “It’s been extremely inadequate,” Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon told reporters late last week of the response from the federal government, which offered to send the state only a fraction of the medical supplies she had requested. “We’ve been contacting this administration every single day since then and we have received nothing. Zip. Zero. Nothing from them.”

    Mr. Cuomo expressed appreciation for the rapidly growing capacity to conduct coronavirus tests, which has been the delay that so far has drawn the most attention. But the real need now is for a much broader response, he said. His wants the Army Corps of Engineers to help New York set up temporary hospitals — as he said he fears the state is about to face a disastrous shortage of hospital beds, particularly in intensive care units.

    “They build airports,” he said. “They build the bridges. They build hospitals. This is exactly what they do.”

    A spokeswoman at the Army Corps of Engineers said on Tuesday that the agency — which has had its massive capacity put to use in past disasters like Hurricane Katrina — was still awaiting orders.

    “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to assist the nation in a time of crisis to the very best of its capabilities, and we are postured to lean forward when an official request is received through the Department of Defense,” Raini W. Brunson, an Army Corps spokeswoman said in a statement. “However, at this time, we have not been assigned a mission.”

    Mr. Trump on Tuesday said he had recently spoken with Mr. Cuomo and that discussions had begun with Defense Department officials about possibly building pop-up hospitals, with sites even under consideration. He also suggested that FEMA will soon be playing a more aggressive role.

    “We are working closely and getting FEMA involved,” Mr. Trump said.” They have been involved but we are getting them involved to a different level.”

    But other agencies remain quiet. Veterans groups say the Department of Veterans Affairs has not appeared front and center of any of the emergency response communication efforts.

    “The nation has not embraced the scope of the V.A.” said Randy Reese, the executive director of the Washington headquarters of Disabled American Veterans. “They need to send the message that we are prepared and right now we have not seen or heard that and it brings some sense of concern.”

    FEMA officials said the Department of Health and Human Services remains in charge of the federal response, and it too is waiting for orders from the agency before it moves to ramp up assistance.

    “FEMA will continue supporting all states and territories during this dynamic situation,” Lizzie Litzow, a FEMA spokeswoman, said.

    The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.

    In previous national emergencies, FEMA would be responsible for finding out where to obtain masks, ventilators, hospital beds and tents from either the military or the private sector and ensuring the supplies are delivered to states, according to Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush who oversaw the response to Hurricane Katrina.

    “They have relationships and know where to look for things,’ Mr. Chertoff said. “Without that it’s not clear to me who would be doing the coordination and facilitation function.”

  294. says

    Why are three college seniors in influential White House posts?

    Office of Personnel Management chief Dale Cabaniss left her post this week, it had nothing to do with social distancing or crisis layoffs. Rather, as the Washington Post reported, she resigned because of problems within the Trump administration.

    The federal personnel director quit with no notice Tuesday after five months on the job, leaving the agency that oversees workplace policy for 2.1 million civil servants with no leader amid the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    According to the reporting, Cabaniss, who has extensive experience overseeing civil service issues and enjoys bipartisan backing, was being micromanaged by the White House budget office. She also reportedly classed with John McEntee, Donald Trump’s former personal assistant, who recently returned to the White House to lead the Presidential Personnel Office.

    According to multiple accounts, McEntee has also launched an effort to root out those deemed insufficiently loyal to the president and his agenda.

    […] Politico reported last night, “The departure casts a cloud of uncertainty over the federal workforce as it struggles to decide how to handle the coronavirus outbreak, with growing questions about the Trump administration’s decision to keep most government offices open and how it is handling remote work.”

    The same article added, however, that John Troup Hemenway has been brought on to assist the deputy director of the Presidential Personnel Office, despite the fact that Hemenway is still an undergraduate student who’s expected to graduate in December.

    And if that dynamic sounds at all familiar, it may be because he’s not the only undergraduate student taking on new responsibilities on Team Trump right now.

    Politico reported two weeks ago, for example, that Anthony Labruna is now serving as deputy White House liaison at the Department of Commerce, despite the fact that he’s still a senior at Iowa State.

    A week earlier, we learned that 23-year-old James Bacon, another undergraduate, is also now helping lead the White House Presidential Personnel Office.

    It was tough to have confidence in the president’s team before. It’s a little worse now.

  295. says

    In an attempt to defend his new travel restrictions, Trump pointed at critics who don’t exist.

    The idea that he acted “against the wishes of almost all” may make Trump feel better about his response, but it doesn’t make his claim true.

    […] Trump is apparently feeling a bit defensive this morning, which naturally led to an unfortunate tweet. Most of the missive was wrong in familiar ways, but there was one element that struck me as notable.

    “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China – against the wishes of almost all,” […]

    It’s not easy to pack so many falsehoods into a single sentence. For example, the idea that that he “always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously” — he’s really leaning into the whole rebranding effort — is plainly wrong. As the crisis took shape, Trump downplayed the threat over and over and over again.

    But just as notable is the president’s insistence that almost everyone opposed his decision to impose Chinese travel restrictions in January. It’s gradually become one of Trump’s favorite claims: thanks to his wisdom and foresight, our brave leader defied the conventional wisdom, shook off skeptics, imposed the restrictions, and saved lives.

    Defending his policy on Feb. 28, [Trump] said at a cabinet meeting, “I took a lot of heat from the Democrats.” Trump added a day later, “I took a lot of heat, even from my own people.” As recently as last week, [Trump] told reporters, in reference to the Chinese travel restrictions, “I took a lot of heat, including from you people. A lot of heat.”

    There was no such heat. As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake explained:

    When the Trump administration made the announcement Jan. 31, there was little in the way of a political disagreement about it. I’ve scoured reports from around the time and come up almost completely empty.

    To be sure, much of the administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis has been criticized, and for good reason. But reducing travel from China in late January wasn’t an especially controversial move.

    The idea that he acted “against the wishes of almost all” may make Trump feel better about his response to the viral outbreak, but as the Post’s Blake added, it’s “wildly wrong.”


  296. says

    Thanks so much, Lynna @ #354. I think I’m as angry as I’ve been since the end of 2016. I think of that spectacle of a press briefing on Friday and my blood boils.

  297. says

    “Until April” will not be long enough. The Census Bureau announced today that is suspending field operations until April 1.

    The announcement emphasized the ability of Americans to respond online, by snail mail, or by telephone.

    Officials in New York have suggested that the deadline for completing the 2020 census count should be extended. That sounds like a good idea to me.

    More details:

    […] Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that for now the Bureau was sticking to its July 31 completion deadline, but that the deadline “can and will be adjusted if necessary as the situation dictates in order to achieve a complete and accurate count.” […]

    “As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, we will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities,” [Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham] said.

    TPM link

    From the readers comments:

    They need to suspend for a year, if not a year and a half. Census takers will be risking their lives – and many census workers are older, often retired. Not worth it.
    Go on line and fill out your own form. […] it will help protect the workers and get you and your household counted.
    I was hired as an enumerator and was supposed to start training next week. This is the first I’ve heard of this. There is NO information online for those of us hired. Really poor communication.

  298. blf says

    (I’m listening to France24 as I type this.)
    Apparently, roughly 4000 fines were handed out on the first day or so of France’s lockdown. The fine was originally 38€ but fairly quickly raised to 135€, increasing to 375€ if not paid within seven(?) days.

    Italy has reported 475 new deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours — the highest one-day total of any country to-date. (As mentioned earlier (see @404), there were about 8000 self-quarantine violations yesterday(?).)

  299. says

    STAT – “WHO to launch multinational trial to jumpstart search for coronavirus drugs”:

    The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it would launch a multiarm, multicountry clinical trial for potential coronavirus therapies, part of an aggressive effort to jumpstart the global search for drugs to treat Covid-19.

    Four drugs or drug combinations already licensed and used for other illnesses will be tested, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Ten countries have already indicated they will take part in the trial.

    The mere fact the WHO is sponsoring the trial suggests that efforts in China to test these drugs may not have come up with enough data to indicate whether any were of use to prevent patients from developing severe disease or save those with severe disease from death.

    The study, which Tedros said he hopes other countries will join, has been named the SOLIDARITY trial. Countries that have already signed on are: Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand.

    “Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives,” he said during a briefing in Geneva.

    Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, unit head for the WHO’s research and development “blueprint” group, said the trial design was deliberately kept simple “to enable even hospitals that have been overloaded to participate.”

    “This trial focuses on the key priority questions for the public. Do any of these drugs reduce mortality? Do any of these drugs reduce the time a patient is in hospital and whether or not the patients receiving any of the drugs needed ventilation or intensive care units,” Henao-Restrepo said.

    The four drugs or combinations will be compared to what is called standard of care — the regular support hospitals treating these patients use now, such as supplementary oxygen when needed.

    The drugs to be tested are the antiviral drug remdesivir; a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir; lopinavir and ritonavir plus interferon beta; and the antimalarial drug chloroquine. All show some evidence of effectiveness against the SARS-CoV 2 virus, which causes Covid-19, either in vitro and/or animal studies.

    Remdesivir is made by Gilead. Lopinavir and ritonavir are combined and sold as Kaletra or Aluvia by AbbVie.

    Henao-Restrepo said chloroquine — which is cheap and used regularly around the world — will be tested two ways. Some countries will test chloroquine against the standard of care while others will test hydroxychloroquine, used in parts of the world where malaria is resistant to chloroquine.

    Enrolling patients across a number of countries should speed the world to an answer about which drugs, if any could be effective in reducing the toll of Covid-19. The WHO launched a similar trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in November 2018 to test four therapies against Ebola.

    At the time of that launch, it was thought that the trial might need to draw data from several Ebola outbreaks before it could reach an answer. But the North Kivu outbreak, which could be declared over next month, was so large results were announced in August 2019. Given the high number of cases globally of Covid-19 and the number of countries participating, results should come faster with this trial.

  300. says

    SC @456, I agree. And the trouble is that even now it seems that no one is really in charge. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is nominally in charge, but that department is not doing a good job. FEMA should, perhaps, be in charge, but that agency is not in charge, and they are not receiving timely and clear instruction from DHHS.

    A lot of heads of agencies and departments are waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and/or to coordinate what they are doing with other agencies and departments.

    The governor of Washington state, Inslee, has adopted an approach that works sometimes. He called Esper at the Defense Department directly, and it sounds like he may get some kind of help that way.

    Pence is supposed to be coordinating, but he just can’t get it all done. Pence keeps deferring to Birx, and she is also not in charge. The one thing Pence is doing consistently is praising the Dear Leader, repetitively. Robot Pence. Pence does a few good things, but he is limited.

  301. says

    Let them eat cake.

    Sick people across the United States are being told they don’t qualify for coronavirus testing because they don’t have documented exposure to someone with the disease. People with documented exposure to someone with the disease are being told they don’t qualify for testing because they’re not sick—or anyway, they’re not symptomatic. They might still be spreading COVID-19. But meanwhile, powerful people seem to be getting tested at the drop of a hat.

    In California, a man who gave his wife mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before she died of coronavirus hasn’t been able to get tested because he doesn’t show enough symptoms, while powerful people like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Reps. Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows get tested without symptoms after casual contact with someone who tested positive.

    Trump’s take on the testing inequities: “perhaps that’s been the story of life.” It’s definitely been the story of his life! And one he works every day to keep perpetuating.

    Part of the issue is the lack of available tests, and part is a patchwork system of conflicting rules about who should get tested—rules that all too often seem to adjust to how well-connected the person asking to be tested is.

    In many cases the rules also seem to be designed not to catch the spread of the disease. As of March 10, The Atlantic reported, “In at least 13 states, the rules effectively discourage doctors from testing patients who have no known ties to existing cases—exactly the kind of ‘community case’ that would signal that the pandemic has reached a dangerous new stage in a city or region, and that the virus is now spreading among strangers.” In more than one case, doctors with symptoms couldn’t get themselves tested because they couldn’t document exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case—documentation they lacked because of the lack of testing.

    But somehow 58 people from the Utah Jazz got tested after one player tested positive. The Oklahoma State Department of Health, where the testing was done, assures us that this did not constitute special treatment. And it does make sense to test people who would be exposed to lots of other people! It does—it’s just that testing asymptomatic people because it makes sense to do it is not how testing is being done in general in the United States of America.

    It’s not just the Jazz, either. Four members of the Brooklyn Nets got tested, even though only one is symptomatic. And they should be tested. It’s just that they’re getting tested when other people, less connected people, would not be tested under the same circumstances. […]

    These inequities in testing also have to make us regular people nervous about how it’s going to go when decisions are being made about who gets the last ventilator. […]

    Right now we live in a country where a diabetic senior citizen who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to someone dying of coronavirus can’t get tested even when he gets a fever, because the fever is too low to count as a symptom, while multiple members of Congress and dozens of professional basketball players get tested because of less extreme exposure while showing no symptoms. That has to change, and fast.


  302. says

    G liveblog:

    Angela Merkel has called the pandemic “the biggest challenge since World War Two” as she appealed to German citizens to help protect each other from the virus by restricting their social interactions.

    In her first televised address to the nation in 14 years as chancellor – outside her annual New Year’s address – Merkel warned that all state-run attempts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus would prove futile unless individuals changed their personal behaviour.

    “This is serious, so take it seriously,” the German chancellor said in pre-recorded remarks that will go out on German television just before tonight’s main news programmes.

    Since German reunification, no, since the Second World War there has been no challenge to our country that will require us to act in mutual solidarity.

    Merkel said her government was focused on the main goal of “slowing down the spread of the virus, to stretch it out over months and thus win time”, which could be used to research a vaccine and avoid overwhelming the German health service.

    Earlier in the day, state and federal leaders announced their intention to double the country’s number of intensive respiratory care beds. Germany currently has around 25,000 intensive care beds with respiratory capacity.

  303. says

    Oh, FFS. More god-addled people who are exposing others to danger:

    A Louisiana pastor continued with church services as usual Tuesday night despite an order from Gov. John Bel Edwards banning gatherings of more than 50 people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    “It’s not a concern,” Rev. Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in East Baton Rouge Parish told CBS affiliate WAFB. “The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.”

    Spell said police officers arrived after his Tuesday night service and told him the National Guard would force any services over the 50-person threshold to disperse.

    He said 305 people attended the service and that 1,170 attended Sunday services.

    “I’m a person of faith,” Edwards said in his announcement of the ban on large gatherings in a weekend news conference. “I happen to believe very much in the awesome power of prayer. I also believe in science, and the scientists at the CDC say that the measures we are taking will minimize the spread.”

    Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) has argued applying the ban to religious observances violates the First Amendment.

    “I agree that all our constituents and religious leaders should follow the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC),” Higgins wrote in a letter to Edwards last week. “However, the decision to gather should be the choice of the individual or institution and not a mandate by any government entity. The state has no authority to enforce this proclamation nor any ban on worship.”



  304. says

    G liveblog:

    Another Brazilian minister has tested positive for Covid-19, the country’s president Jair Bolsonaro has announced.

    The energy minister, Admiral Bento Albuquerque, is the second government minister to contract the virus. The institutional security minster General Augusto Heleno’s first test was positive, while the press secretary Fabio Wajngarten has also become infected.

    On Wednesday, Bolsonaro hosted a press conference on the pandemic flanked by nine ministers and top officials – all wearing masks which they removed when talking.

    He attacked the media, called Tuesday’s home-based, pan-bashing protests against him “an expression of democracy” and defended defying medical advice to mingle with demonstrators last Sunday.

    As “leader of Brazilian nation, I have to be at the front together with my people,” said Bolsonaro, a former army captain.

    But he did little to assuage fears the pandemic could overwhelm Brazil’s health service when he said it “is unable to accept a considerable quantity” of people sick with Covid-19. Brazilian states have reported 393 confirmed cases. The defence minister, General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, said:

    This is a war, against an invisible, ferocious and unwavering enemy. Brazilians can depend on the armed forces.

    The health minister, Luiz Mandetta, warned of “tough days” ahead, explaining that reducing the challenge ahead from the size of Mount Everest to a more scaleable Brazilian mountain demanded the cooperation of the population.

  305. blf says

    Why am I not surprised? Russian media ‘spreading Covid-19 disinformation’ (my added emboldening):

    Leaked EU report says pro-Kremlin outlets seeking to aggravate public health crisis

    Pro-Kremlin media have been spreading disinformation about coronavirus with the aim of “aggravating” the public health crisis in the west, the European Union’s diplomatic service has concluded in a leaked report.

    An EU monitoring team collected 80 examples of disinformation from Russian sources in nearly two months up to 16 March. Coronavirus was claimed to be a biological weapon deployed by China, the US or the UK. Other conspiracy theories contended the outbreak was caused by migrants or was a pure hoax.

    “Pro-Kremlin media outlets have been prominent in spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, with the aim to aggravate the public health crisis in western countries, specifically by undermining public trust in national healthcare systems,” states the report, seen by the Guardian.

    [… some examples…]

    Researchers at Cardiff University’s centre for crime and security research, who carried out research with the commission, found an evolution in tactics by pro-Kremlin media.

    Rather than authoring disinformation, Russian sources were amplifying theories that had originated elsewhere, such as China, Iran or the US far right, the researchers said. “This tactic allows them to avoid the accusation of creating disinformation themselves, claiming instead that they are merely reporting what others are saying,” the report stated.


    An internal EU network, where member states share cases, also reported examples of disinformation. In Lithuania there were false claims that a US soldier deployed to the country had been taken to hospital with coronavirus.


    The report noted that the Kremlin-funded media company RT’s Spanish service was the 12th most popular source of information on coronavirus among social media users.


    The report concluded “the more pressing challenge” for public health was misinformation: stories that are inaccurate, often dangerously so, but not created with a political agenda.


    The report concludes that social media companies have taken “strong measures” to combat false claims, but worries they are not doing enough to share information with independent observers. In particular, officials want to know how much time elapses between disinformation being posted and acted upon by social media companies.

    “Whoever is spreading the disinformation is essentially playing with people’s lives,” Stano said. “Every responsible social media or media user should be aware of this: that there is a lot of misinformation circulating around … Double check, triple check, go to a media you really trust and look at the sources.

    As quoted, whilst the emboldened advice is correct, it seems to neglect the “echo chamber” problem, or to put it more bluntly, a brietbart reader is unlikely to consult the Grauniad or indeed, perhaps anything but fox or alex jones. All three will presumably by saying the same-ish thing, therefore “confirming” the (very probably highly dubious) story from brietbart.

  306. blf says

    OH FOR FECK’S SAKE (AND YES I AM SHOUTING), The tech execs who don’t agree with ‘soul-stealing’ coronavirus safety measures (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    If we wish to maintain our productivity, we need to continue working in [our] offices, one CEO told his staff in an email

    Michael Saylor does not often send all-staff emails to the more than 2,000 employees at Microstrategy, a business intelligence firm headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia. So the chief executive’s 3,000-word missive on Monday afternoon with the subject line My Thoughts on Covid-19 got his employees’ attention.

    It is soul-stealing and debilliating {sic} to embrace the notion of social distancing & economic hibernation, Saylor wrote in an impassioned argument against adopting the aggressive responses to the