1. says

    Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) announced Wednesday he tested positive for coronavirus after developing symptoms on Saturday.

    McAdams, 45, is the second lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), 58, announced his diagnosis shortly before the Utah Democrat.

  2. says

    SC (Salty Current) #487
    It’s a technical term. A “chunk” is the number of aides that can productively work in a 10,000 square feet office space. Since aides are fungible and office space is limited, it makes sense to measure them like that.
    /s …maybe

  3. johnson catman says

    re SC @494: That Lou Dobbs poll is typical of pretty much any right-wing poll regarding The Orange Toddler-Tyrant. They do not want an honest evaluation. And then, they can point to the results that 100% of the responses rated his performance as “very good” or better. Yeah, very North Korean-like indeed.

  4. says

    Reuters – “Coronavirus thumps Brazil, prompting nationwide cries of ‘Bolsonaro Out!'”:

    The coronavirus outbreak hammered Brazil on Wednesday, crushing local markets, infecting more members of the country’s political elite and prompting loud protests against President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the mounting crisis.

    Bolsonaro’s national security adviser, the mines and energy minister and the head of the Senate all tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, as the death toll rose to four dead with 428 people infected.

    Bolsonaro has come under mounting criticism for his lax handling of the outbreak, which he initially labeled a “fantasy.” The virus’ spread represents a major headache for the far-right populist who was already struggling to resuscitate the country’s weak economy.

    On Wednesday night, Brazil erupted to the sound of banging pots and pans and shouts of “Bolsonaro out!” with housebound protesters expressing their anger toward the president. The protests took place in major Brazilian cities and even included projections of “Bolsonaro out!” onto the sides of buildings, according to social media videos.

    Bolsonaro says he has twice tested negative for the coronavirus, but 14 people in his entourage to Florida 10 days ago have tested positive. The fallout from the trip, in which he met U.S. President Donald Trump, still haunts the president.

    With criticism mounting, Bolsonaro held an afternoon news conference with ministers – all wearing masks – to announce emergency measures to contain the virus and buttress the economy, including assistance for poorer families and support for a struggling aviation industry.

    Financial markets were rattled by the fast-spreading virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease….

    (Emphasis added.)

  5. says

    From today’s Guardian coronavirus liveblog (support the Guardian if you can):

    France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.

    President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.

    For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.

    But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.

    Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.

    Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.

    “There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.

    Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.

    Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.

    “Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.

    “It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.

    Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.

    More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.

  6. says

    Jonathan Chait in New York magazine – “The Hospital Deluge Is Coming. Washington Has Done Almost Nothing to Prepare.”:

    President Trump has won glowing plaudits for changing the tone of his press conferences from completely unhinged to partially hinged, and reducing his rate of massive Orwellian lies to one or two per appearance. But as the president manages to stumble over a bar set at ground level in his televised communications, the government’s actual performance is a different matter altogether. Even catastrophically failed government enterprises usually manage to project an air of competence. And a growing body of reporting suggests the government has done shockingly little to prepare for the coming public-health crisis.

    The most efficient first step would have been to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from spreading in the first place. As many reports have widely documented, that first step never took place because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to deploy an effective coronavirus test. “This is such a rapidly moving infection that losing a few days is bad, and losing a couple of weeks is terrible,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, tells Bloomberg News. “Losing 2 months is close to disastrous, and that’s what we did.”

    The loss of those two months deprived the government of any chance to prevent the pandemic from sweeping across the entire country. Officials have been forced into reaction mode, deploying blunt measures of closing public spaces to try to slow down the spread. Even so, it is highly likely that, within a few weeks, the number of infected patients will exceed the capacity of the hospital system to treat them.

    Washington has had weeks and weeks to prepare for this surge. The three most obvious and foreseeable shortages are hospital beds, respirator masks to protect medical staff, and ventilators (the machines that are needed to pump air into the lungs of patients with the most serious coronavirus symptoms).

    You would think the government would have spent the last two months scrambling to produce more of all three. There is no evidence this has happened, and a great deal of evidence it has not.

    Begin with the ventilator machines. Jonathan Cohn consulted with a dozen engineers, executives, and physicians about what’s being done to produce a surge of equipment. You might expect an effort equivalent to the frantic production of ships, tanks, and planes following Pearl Harbor. The sources explain to Cohn what sorts of things would have to happen to produce the ventilator surge — regulators would have to fast-track approval of new production facilities, and arrange planes to fly in supplies. That is not happening.

    Several members of Congress sent the White House a letter pleading with the president to use the Defense Production Act to expedite production. A reporter asked Trump yesterday if he had done this. Here was his reply:

    Well, we’re able to do that if we have to. Right now, we haven’t had to, but it’s certainly ready. If I want it, we can do it very quickly. We’ve studied it very closely over two weeks ago, actually. We’ll make that decision pretty quickly if we need it. We hope we don’t need it. It’s a big step.

    At his daily press briefing Wednesday, Trump said he would invoke the Defense Production Act. Later in the day, he insisted he would only reserve it in the future, in case it’s needed:…

    What about getting more respirator masks and hospital beds? The New York Times has an even more harrowing overview of the federal response — or, more accurately, nonresponse. Governors are begging Trump to send more masks for their hospitals, which have desperate shortages. So far they’ve got nothing of value:…

    Experts have proposed preparing the Army to set up mobile hospitals to treat overflow patients — something the Army has done before. A spokesperson reported to the Times that the Army has not been given any orders to prepare for such an eventuality:…

    They have not been assigned a mission.

    What about the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which also has relevant expertise setting up medical facilities during emergencies? “FEMA officials said the Department of Health and Human Services remains in charge of the federal response,” reports the Times, “and it too is waiting for orders from the agency before it moves to ramp up assistance.”

    Trump spent weeks publicly downplaying the coronavirus as an overhyped flu, and then treating it as nothing more than a distraction spooking the stock market. Only in recent days has he made a show of acknowledging the virus as a serious health threat. Watching this, we might have clung to the wan hope that his abdication was merely a surface display of incompetence, and that below his level, the government was still functioning. The evidence before us suggests the government actually followed his lead, following the complacent signals he sent — or, at least, has simply floundered for lack of any direction from the top. The closer you look at the inner workings of Trump’s coronavirus response, the worse it gets.

    (Emphasis added. The Times piece referred to is @ #453 on the previous thread.)

    Trump needs to be removed from office.

  7. says

    Robert Kelly:

    This [remark from Cornyn] is obviously racist, but it’s also an opportunistic gimmick to change the subject away from Trump’s massive managerial failures on corona. The Trump GOP has already discounted the costs of racist signaling; this stuff won’t lose them any voters they haven’t already lost.

    So using race-baiting to shift the debate towards China/race/xenophobia/foreign threats – traditional Trump areas of trouble-making and controversy – has little new downside but does helpfully muddy the waters about Trump’s presidency-breaking failures on corona.

    So commenters are suggesting I am overlooking China’s role; I am not:

    a) The CCP is the most responsible actor for this disaster, obviously. It repressed front-line medical information back when it really mattered late last year; it blocked the WHO from entering China; it fought travel bans. All this helped conrona spread and muddied information about it. China is now lying about all this, because the CCP, like Trump, instinctively, blame-shifts. @brianklaas has called corona Trump’s Chernobyl. That is an even more accurate description of the CCP.

    b) The CCP is happy to play the race game with Trump. The more all of us are talking about race, the more we are not focusing on the gross managerial irresponsibility of both the CCP and the Trump administration.That’s what all this stuff – calling it the ‘kung-flu,’ criticizing Americans as racist for discussing its origins in China – is about. It is a massive misdirection effort, playing respectively on the racism of Trump voters and the antiracism of his opponents.

    c) The CCP is itself grossly racist and reactionary. Its belaboring of racism in the West is entirely self-serving. As the party’s ideology shifted after Tiananmen Square from communism to nationalism, that has been accompanied by the inevitable supremacist thinking (just go watch ‘American Factory’) and the party has engaged in extraordinary, overt systemic racism – internal colonialism really – in Tibet and Xinjiang.

    d) Calling it the ‘China virus’ plays into the hands of both these actors – GOP and CCP – trying to change the subject from their scandalous, death toll-worsening incompetence. Both would prefer a contentious, angry race debate in the West instead of a focus on the mitigation failures, avoidable deaths, and lunatic conspiracy theories both have worsened through their instinctive a**-covering antics. Don’t be manipulated. Just call it corona like everybody else.

  8. says

    A Georgia state senator went to the doctor on Saturday for a cough and mild fever and got a coronavirus test. On Monday, he felt better and showed up to vote. Today, the test came back positive and the entire state legislature is now self isolating….”

    Link to report atl.

  9. says

    G liveblog:

    It is “just a matter of time” before the coronavirus reaches Syria’s last opposition-held pocket, an aid agency warned on Thursday, as civil defence rescue teams worked round the clock to sterilise public facilities and set up containment centres.

    The UN says around 900,000 people are living in makeshift accommodation and overcrowded tents in Idlib province, where adequate hygiene and social distancing measures are impossible. Idlib is home to approximately three million people.

    While the area was granted some respite from a brutal regime offensive when a ceasefire was brokered on 5 March, bombing campaigns by Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers have put 61 medical facilities out of action over the past year, and medicine, equipment and beds are already dangerously scarce.

    A total of 60 beds are now available ahead of a Covid-19 outbreak. The White Helmets have begun disinfecting schools and other public spaces and have held 328 awareness sessions about the risk to the public and best practices for protection, the Syria Campaign said on Thursday.

    “After all the death brought by warplanes and bombs, a new disaster — coronavirus — is chasing Syrians here. Of course people are scared, but they have nowhere to escape to. It’s very overcrowded everywhere and people can’t just stay home or inside their tent,” said Ibrahim al-Haj, a White Helmets volunteer.

  10. says

    TechCrunch – “Twitter broadly bans any COVID-19 tweets that could help the virus spread”:

    You don’t have to go far to find someone online downplaying the severity of a global pandemic that’s shut down entire economies and ground everyday life to a halt. Knowing that, Twitter will take extra steps to remove tweets that put people at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus as it rapidly sweeps through communities around the globe.

    On Wednesday, Twitter updated its safety policy to prohibit tweets that “could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.” The new policy bans tweets denying expert guidance on the virus, encouraging “fake or ineffective treatments, preventions and diagnostic techniques” as well as tweets that mislead users by pretending to be from health authorities or experts.

    Given the new guidelines Twitter has outlined, the platform is going to have its work cut out for it. Under the ruleset, a tweet that claims “social distancing is not effective” would be subject to removal. Twitter will also require users to delete tweets telling followers to do ineffective or dangerous things like drinking bleach, even if the tweet is “made in jest” because that content can prove harmful when taken out of context.

    Twitter has also banned tweets that make calls to action encouraging other users to behave in a way counter to what health authorities recommend, with the example tweet of “coronavirus is a fraud and not real – go out and patronize your local bar!!” Some political figures have faced criticism for similar statements in recent days, including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who encouraged Fox Business viewers “to just go out… go to your local pub.”

    The rules will also ban tweets in which people play armchair doctor and make claims like “if you have a wet cough, it’s not coronavirus — but a dry cough is.” Users will also not be allowed to make coronavirus claims that single out groups of people based on race or nationality, like discouraging followers to eat at Chinese restaurants. Other race-based claims like John McAfee’s tweet that “Coronavirus cannot attack black people” won’t fly either.

    Twitter’s new set of coronavirus-related misinformation rules is as thorough as it will be difficult to enforce. Many, many tweets would appear to fall under the deepened policy designed to prevent health misinformation from spreading on the social network.

    In an effort to rise to the gravity of the situation, Twitter’s policies lay out an aggressive and fluid approach that we don’t always see from social networks. We’ll be following along to see how the platform experiment goes in the coming days and if Twitter can help stem the flow of potentially lethal misinformation as the world wakes up to the global threat of COVID-19.

  11. says

    Reuters – “Special Report: How Korea trounced U.S. in race to test people for coronavirus”:

    In late January, South Korean health officials summoned representatives from more than 20 medical companies from their lunar New Year celebrations to a conference room tucked inside Seoul’s busy train station.

    One of the country’s top infectious disease officials delivered an urgent message: South Korea needed an effective test immediately to detect the novel coronavirus, then running rampant in China. He promised the companies swift regulatory approval.

    Though there were only four known cases in South Korea at that point, “we were very nervous. We believed that it could develop into a pandemic,” one attendee, Lee Sang-won, an infectious diseases expert at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters.

    “We acted like an army,” he said.

    A week after the Jan. 27 meeting, South Korea’s CDC approved one company’s diagnostic test. Another company soon followed. By the end of February, South Korea was making headlines around the world for its drive-through screening centers and ability to test thousands of people daily.

    South Korea’s swift action stands in stark contrast to what has transpired in the United States. Seven weeks after the train station meeting, the Koreans have tested well over 290,000 people and identified over 8,000 infections. New cases are falling off: Ninety-three were reported Wednesday, down from a daily peak of 909 two weeks earlier.

    The United States, whose first case was detected the same day as South Korea’s, is not even close to meeting demand for testing. About 60,000 tests have been run by public and private labs in a country of 330 million, federal officials said Tuesday.

    As a result, U.S. officials don’t fully grasp how many Americans have been infected and where they are concentrated – crucial to containment efforts. While more than 7,000 U.S. cases had been identified as of Wednesday, as many as 96 million people could be infected in coming months, and 480,000 could die, according to a projection prepared for the American Hospital Association by Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

    “You cannot fight what you cannot see,” said Roger Klein, a former laboratory medical director at the Cleveland Clinic and previously an adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on clinical laboratory issues.

    How the United States fell so far behind South Korea, according to infectious disease experts, clinicians and state and local officials, is a tale of many contrasts in the two nations’ public health systems: a streamlined bureaucracy versus a congested one, bold versus cautious leadership, and a sense of urgency versus a reliance on protocol.

    The delayed and chaotic testing in the United States will cost lives, potentially including those of doctors and nurses, many medical experts predict. Already more than 100 people have died overall, and fears of rampant spread have led to extraordinary restrictions on social interaction, upending the U.S. economy, schools, hospitals and everyday life.

    “It makes me feel like I’m living in a farce,” said Dr. Ritu Thamman, a cardiologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Even hospital staff who may have been exposed can’t get a test, she said. “We are a rich country but we don’t have these kinds of things?”

    Bombarded by criticism amid a re-election campaign, Trump vowed on Friday to ramp up production of test kits in partnership with private companies and to make the diagnostic tests more widely available at hospitals and in-store parking lots. This week, the FDA said more than 35 universities, hospitals and lab companies had begun running their own tests, under the agency’s revised policy.

    But it may be weeks before enough tests are on hand to fill the need.

    Despite the new moves, Ruiz said he fears America is still weeks away from approaching what South Korea has accomplished. “I think months have been lost here,” Ruiz said. “Maybe we should look into purchasing South Korea’s tests.”

    That may happen. Both Kogene and SolGent Co, two of the COVID-19 test-makers approved in South Korea, said their companies have an eye on the U.S. market.

    “The FDA asked us to proceed with applications quickly,” Kogene executive Myoah Baek said.

    Much more at the link.

  12. says

    NPR – “Intelligence Chairman Raised Virus Alarms Weeks Ago, Secret Recording Shows”:

    The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned a small group of well-connected constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects of the coronavirus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR.

    The remarks from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr were more stark than any he had delivered in more public forums.

    On Feb. 27, when the United States had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, President Trump was tamping down fears and suggesting the virus could be seasonal.

    “It’s going to disappear. One day, It’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” the president said then, before adding, “it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens.”

    On that same day, Burr attended a luncheon held at a social club called the Capitol Hill Club. And he delivered a much more alarming message.

    “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

    The luncheon had been organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a nonpartisan group whose membership consists of businesses and organizations in North Carolina, the state Burr represents. Membership to join the Tar Heel Circle costs between $500 and $10,000,…

    The message Burr delivered to the group was dire.

    Thirteen days before the State Department began to warn against travel to Europe, and fifteen days before the Trump administration banned European travelers, Burr warned those in the room to reconsider.

    “Every company should be cognizant of the fact that you may have to alter your travel. You may have to look at your employees and judge whether the trip they’re making to Europe is essential or whether it can be done on video conference. Why risk it?” Burr said.

    Sixteen days before North Carolina closed its schools due to the threat of Coronavirus, Burr warned it could happen.

    “There will be, I’m sure, times that communities, probably some in North Carolina, have a transmission rate where they say, let’s close schools for two weeks, everybody stay home,” he said.

    And Burr invoked the possibility that the military may be mobilized to combat the Coronavirus. Only now, three weeks later, is the public learning of that prospect.

    “We’re going to send a military hospital there, it’s going to be in tents and going to be set up on the ground somewhere,” Burr said at the luncheon. “It’s going to be a decision the president and DoD make. And we’re going to have medical professionals supplemented by local staff to treat the people that need treatment.”

    Burr has a unique perspective on the government’s response to a pandemic, and not just because of his role as Intelligence Committee chairman. He helped to write the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which forms the framework for the federal response.

    But in his public comments about the threat of COVID-19, Burr never offered the kind of precise warning that he delivered to the small group of his constituents.

    On Feb. 7, Burr coauthored an op-ed that laid out the tools that the U.S. government had at its disposal to fight Coronavirus.

    “Luckily, we have a framework in place that has put us in a better position than any other country to respond to a public health threat, like the coronavirus,” Burr said in a statement on March 5.

    He pressed a CDC official in early March as to why the nation’s pandemic surveillance capabilities had fallen short despite the millions in funding he had helped secure for that purpose through PAHPA.

    But despite his longtime interest in bio-hazard threats, his expertise on the subject, and his role as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr did not warn the public of the government actions he thought might become necessary, like he did at the luncheon on Feb. 27.

    One public health expert told NPR that early warnings about a coming health crisis and its effects could have made a difference just a few weeks ago.

    “In the interest of public health, we actually need to involve the public. It’s right there in the name. And being transparent, being as clear as possible is very important,” said Jason Silverstein, who lectures at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

    “The type of language that could have come out there at the end of February saying here’s what we ought to expect could have, you know, not panicked people, but gotten them all together to have to all prepare,” Silverstein added.

    Report and recording at the link. So if you happened to work for a company run by a Burr donor you might have avoided travel to Europe based on warnings not given to the general public.

  13. says

    This is really shocking. We live in a nation of such wealth. And we have effectively run out of such a basic protective device at a moment of such need. CDC is offering advice on how medical staff can survive during a contagious disease outbreak without proper facemasks. Wow….”

    CDC “Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks” document atl.

  14. says

    Yahoo – “Wary of official virus claims, Russians brace for worst”:

    While President Vladimir Putin has reassured the public that the virus pandemic is under control, many Russians instinctively distrust the official claims and fear the true situation is much worse.

    They look back to past disasters from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion to 2010 forest fires, when the initial official reaction was to cover up the truth.

    In this case, Russia reacted quickly in late January as the virus epidemic raged in China, closing its border that runs for 4,200-kilometres (miles) and banning entry to most Chinese citizens including tourists.

    As late as March 6, Russia had only 10 cases on its soil. But the numbers then began rising swiftly and on a single day on Wednesday leapt by 29 percent to 147.

    Putin said Wednesday that “the situation in our country looks a lot better” than in other European countries with thousands of cases.

    Touring a centre set up to monitor the pandemic on Tuesday he said the “situation is generally under control” in Russia and outbreaks of infection had been contained.

    Yet few of the measures being imposed are national in scale — except the total closure of entry to foreigners in force from Wednesday.

    Moscow, the country’s largest city with by far the highest number of cases, and a few other cities have limited the size of public gatherings and ordered school closures. But most Russians are not facing drastic changes to their way of life.

    The message that the government is putting out is clear: “There’s no reason to panic. And all the measures we are now taking are preventative,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who is responsible for health.

    Nevertheless, the public anxiety is very real….

    Many question the official number of confirmed cases and believe it is an underestimate.

    Anastasia Vasilyeva, president of an independent trade union called the Doctors’ Alliance and an ally of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, claims the health authorities are hiding cases by recording them as pneumonia or severe respiratory infections.

    Official figures are conflicting….

    The testing methods are also under question. While the state health watchdog says that more than 110,000 tests have been carried out, Moskovsky Komsomolets popular daily questioned their reliability compared to those in other countries, saying that only the severest cases were testing positive.

    Russians have responded with typical black humour to the doubts over official accounts.

    “As soon as it crosses the Russian border, coronavirus turns into seasonal flu,” runs one popular joke.

  15. says

    G liveblog:

    France is closing off access to beaches on the Mediterranean coast and in Brittany.

    The government has also banned cycling outside and asked people to keep walks and runs as short as possible “a few minutes to stretch the legs” and absolutely no longer than 1-2km in total.

    The information, which is vague, has caused widespread confusion as to how far people can go for a walk or run and for how long. Officials have been asked but can shed no light on this.

    “Use common sense and responsibility,” tweeted the Sports Ministry. “The goal is not to bore you but to stem the epidemic so that we can soon all enjoy our favourite sports again.”

  16. blf says

    From today’s Grauniad live pandemic blog:

    France is closing off access to beaches on the Mediterranean coast and in Brittany.

    The government has also banned cycling outside and asked people to keep walks and runs as short as possible “a few minutes to stretch the legs” and absolutely no longer than 1–2km in total.


    I myself have still not ventured out (and have no known reason to do so until tomorrow-ish), so have no idea what the situation here is locally. Since I live in a Mediterranean seaside village, there are beaches here, which are now presumably closed. That reduces the area to take a (short) exercise / walk outdoors (which is still allowed), but I presume some eejits (“imbeciles” a government minister called them) are doing other things (and/or not practicing social distancing). I can understand a desire to do that — today (e.g.) is sunny, c.20℃, with only a slight breeze — but concur with that imbeciles description.

  17. says

    Mediaite – “Gov. Ron DeSantis Says Florida is Shutting Down For Spring Breakers: ‘The Party is Over’”:

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced that he’s putting an end to spring break revelry in his state with the coronavirus pandemic growing in the country.

    In an interview on Thursday with Fox & Friends, DeSantis was asked if state beaches will be closing in light of vacationers who are adamant about going out and partying in public despite the crisis.

    “The message I think for spring breakers is the party is over in Florida,” DeSantis said. “You’re not going to be able to congregate on any beach in the state. Many of the hot spots that people like to go to, whether it’s Miami beach, Fort Lauderdale and Clearwater Beach are closed entirely for the time being…We would tell those folks maybe come back next year when things are better, but that is not what we’re looking for.”

    DeSantis said he wouldn’t close down every beach, but stressed that they will be made to comply with the CDC’s virus prevention guidelines. He also said that the state has seen high levels of cancellations as tourists have abandoned their plans amid the ongoing situation.

    “Regardless of local decisions, you’re not going to be able to congregate like those images that you saw,” he said. “That’s just not something that we are going to allow and so you want to work constructively with the locals to get the best solutions.”

  18. says

    Breaking: #Pelosi urges #Trump to immediately use the powers of the Defense Production Act to mass produce and coordinate distribution' of #healthcare supplies incl ventilatorsbefore the need worsens and the shortages become even more dire. There is not a day to lose. ‘”

  19. says

    G liveblog:

    Louis Vuitton owner LVMH has converted its perfume manufacturing at all its Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy facilities to the production of sanitiser and giving to hospitals in France for free.

    Spanish fashion chain Zara is turning over its logistics and manufacturing facilities to delivering 300,000 surgical masks by the end of the week to the health authorities.

    It is also using its networks to source medical grade fabric for hospital gowns.

    Nivea has started serial production of medical grade disinfectants to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, the German consumer goods firm said on Thursday.

    Parent company Beiersdorf said the medical hand sanitisers are being produced in two plants in Germany and one in Spain that usually produce Nivea and other skincare brands.

    It will provide 500 tons of medical hand sanitisers to clinics, hospitals, medical and nursing staff and other public services.

    Meanwhile, in the US…

    Donald Trump is now taking a Q&A.

    Q Under what condition would you implement the defense production act?

    A “If we were in desperate need of something,” we don’t want to do it when we need it but before we need it, Trump says.

    Q CDC has put out guidelines for hospitals dealing with mask shortages to use them beyone their shelf life or use bandanas

    A Pence says he met with 3M that produces masks in Minnesota. He says the government has extended liability protection so that industrial masks can be used in hospitals. Manufacturers are also scaling up production efforts he says.

    “With construction companies around America heeding the president’s call to donate … we know we’ll meet that need.”

    Why the hell are they letting him think and say that there’s no desperate need right now or that these supplies can’t be made to magically appear?! Why do they think donations could possibly cover the need?! What are the fucking numbers? How many have made it to hospitals? Who’s procuring these and coordinating their delivery to the facilities most in need? Why is Jared Kushner even being allowed in the building? Where is Fauci?

  20. says

    Asha Rangappa: “I think it’s time for the media to address the elephant in the room: Trump may be incapable of understanding the problem. It involves data, graphs, projections, connecting dots, conceptual thinking. I think he fundamentally cannot mentally grasp it.”

    He CAN’T! As I was shouting about yesterday, he’s not intellectually or psychologically capable of handling this crisis.

  21. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, from Steve Benen:

    […] * Bernie Sanders’ campaign canceled all of its digital ad buys yesterday, and according to a Washington Post report, the Vermont senator “signaled” an openness to ending his presidential run.

    * Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, Donald Trump’s only remaining Republican rival, ended his longshot candidacy yesterday, one day after the incumbent president secured a majority of the available GOP delegates. For the record, Weld did earn one delegate in Iowa. […]

    * At least for now, Kansas is reportedly moving forward with its plans for a May 2 primary, but Democratic Party officials in the state are urging voters to participate by mail. The Lawrence Journal-World reported, “Mail-in ballots will be sent to registered Democrats in late March and voters will have until April 24 to postmark and return them, the party said in a Tuesday statement.”

    * On a related note, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this week announced the congressional special election in the state’s 7th congressional district would be held on April 28, but all of the ballots will be cast by mail.

  22. says

    Who is in charge? Continuing the discussion, and also taking a look at Jared Kushner as a complicating factor:

    There’s already been some confusion about who, exactly, is in charge of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Is it Vice President Mike Pence, who’s leading the White House Coronavirus Taskforce? Is it Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who’s described himself as the chair of the taskforce? Maybe it’s Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator?

    Complicating matters, it appears the official White House Coronavirus Taskforce isn’t necessarily alone. The Washington Post reported:

    Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser, has created his own team of government allies and private industry representatives to work alongside the administration’s official coronavirus task force, adding another layer of confusion and conflicting signals within the White House’s disjointed response to the crisis.

    The fact that the president’s young son-in-law is involved in the federal response is not new. Politico reported last week that he’s taking on a key role in guiding Trump on combating the pandemic. CNN’s White House correspondent added the same day that Kushner is “becoming more involved” in the administration’s coronavirus response, with one source telling the network that the president’s son-in-law is “in total control.”

    But now we’re getting a better sense as to what that means as a practical matter. According to the Post’s reporting, Kushner is principally concerned with drive-through virus testing sites, and he’s working with the private sector on the endeavor.

    And while that may sound uncontroversial, some in the administration have apparently begun describing Kushner’s team as a “shadow” taskforce — not to be confused with the actual taskforce — which is “causing confusion among many officials involved in the response.”

    Two senior officials said some government officials have become increasingly confused as they have received emails from private industry employees on Kushner’s team and have been on conference calls with them, unsure what their exact role is in the government response. Several people involved in the response said the involvement of outside advisers — who are emailing large groups of government employees from private email addresses — also raises legitimate security concerns about whether these advisers are following proper government protocols.

    [What about the emails!?]

    One senior official told the Post, “We don’t know who these people are. Who is this? We’re all getting these emails.”

    There’s no shortage of concerns. It’s not clear why Kushner, for example, would be involved in the federal response at all. But this reporting also coincides with a related report from Mother Jones’ David Corn, who noted this week that Kushner and his brother helped launch a company called Oscar, which is “now marketing a website that aims to direct consumers to coronavirus testing locations.”



  23. says

    (Apologies for repeating the “pull the trigger” language @ #34. It was metaphorical, of course, but I should’ve used different words.)

    Joe Biden:

    Yesterday, President Trump said he was invoking the Defense Production Act, then turned around and said he wasn’t planning to use it. The President should exercise these powers now. We need more ventilators, protective equipment, and critical supplies. We need action, not words.

    Doctors and nurses are making their own makeshift face masks today as they risk their lives to care for others. What other finding do you need to see to convince you to use every power you have to expand our supply of essential equipment, Mr. President?

  24. says

    Trump’s press briefing today went completely off the rails. He meandered all over the place when it came to discussing topics, and then he spent several minutes lambasting the media.

    […] Trump repeatedly went after the media during a coronavirus task force press briefing Thursday, saying that he should kick out all but a handful of reporters he likes.

    “We were very prepared. The only thing we did not prepare for was the media,” Trump said when asked about testing shortages as the coronavirus began to spread domestically.

    It’s a stark contrast from the President’s remarks earlier this week, when he said the media had been treating him fairly. […]

    After a reporter from OANN (an outlet Trump said treats him “very nicely”) asked whether he considers the term Chinese food racist because it’s food that originated from that country — drawing comparisons to the President’s defense of using the term “Chinese flu” due to the outbreak’s origins — Trump said he doesn’t think it’s racist for the same reasons he’s previously said.

    Trump went on to rail against the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times after the OANN reporter asked this truly bizarre question:

    “On that note, major left-wing news media, even in this room, have teamed up with Chinese Communist Party narratives, and they’re claiming that you’re racist for making these claims about Chinese virus. Is it alarming that major media players just who oppose you are consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels? And they work right here at the White House with direct access to you and your team?” [OMFG]

    […] Asked whether he could explain the gap between his remarks that tens of thousands of tests are readily available and people saying they’re struggling to get tested even when they exhibit symptoms, Trump responded that he “cannot explain” the gap but that he’s been hearing “very good things” on the ground.

    “They had to ramp up. They had an obsolete system and system simultaneously not meant for this,” Trump said. “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this before.”

    Trump went on to say that his administration is working with local governments and state’s governors, which he added shows that “the system is starting to work out very well.” […]

    Trump rejects the notion that his administration wasn’t prepared for widespread testing for the coronavirus. “We were very prepared. The only thing we did not prepare for was the media,” Trump said. […]

    “It could have been stopped right where it came from, China, if we would have known about it, if they would have known about it,” Trump said. “Now the whole world almost in inflicted with this horrible virus. It’s too bad.” […]


    From the readers comments:

    The only thing this country isn’t running out of during the Trump Pandemic is Trump’s bullshit.
    No dump it did not surprise the whole world only you
    Rambling about hostages, ISIS, Syria. “Chinese virus”, right out of the box.
    Useless, absolutely useless wandering blathering.
    “No other president has done what I’ve done.” Well, yeah.
    Oh God. He’s going to wordsalad about antivirals.
    He is no longer home. There you go folks, our national leader. Mentally locked in the bathroom hoping the bad things go away.
    donnie: “FDA has also approved “compassionate use” You know what that means”

    NO…what the FUCK…they are allowed to kill them? What?
    It’s dangerous the way he’s promoting cures that are not known to be effective yet. Now everybody is going to want chloroquine and hydroxychloroqine. The thing he’s not saying is that current trials of that are for people already on ventilators.
    He takes whatever they have told him and mangles the shit out of it…
    Why is he mentioning private companies? Apparently, his job is to promote the stocks of big pharma.
    “Historic,” “never before,” “never ever before” -did he read anything about the plague or the 1918 Flu epidemic.

    Trump is always reactive. This time it really matters that he and his team are way behind the curve.

  25. says

    From a physician:

    Today’s presser is unbelievable. I am an MD and member of our hospital executive administration in the thick of Covid preparation.

    Remdesivir is currently an infusion drug only- meaning you have to be in a hospital hooked to an IV. The ongoing clinical trials are all in hospitalized patients.

    The enrolled patients are those with evidence of lung disease, meaning that some damage is already present. There is no way that the infusion will ever be a practical solution for the vast majority of infected patients (not in hospitals).

    There is an oral preparation, but it is only now being tried in Phase 1 studies, meaning being determined if it is even safe for human consumption?

    I certainly hope that they do not rush the oral drug to market without even knowing if it is safe. Think Thalidomide, COX inhibitors, Gepants.

    We are at least a year away from effective treatment, unless some miracle cure in existing drugs is identified.

    I know people are scared, but there was a lot of false hope today….

    Best solution is prevention, aggressive public health measures, handwashing, physical distancing.

    Be safe.

  26. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] Each of the daily events from the coronavirus task force has assumed a form that’s straight from a North Korea playbook. First Trump speaks, making mostly announcements that do nothing to address coronavirus—closing the border with Canada! Flight restrictions on Europe!—but do serve the right-wing narrative of this crisis, which is all xenophobia, all the time.

    Then Mike Pence stands up to engage in a level of ass kissing that really should be confined to the bedroom. Or at least to somewhere that the rest of us cannot see. Every sentence of Pence’s segment has to include some form of “thanks to your great leadership, Mr. President…” […] it’s not clear that any information, on any topic at all, is relayed. […]


    I’m starting to think that Trump is making an appearance at all of the coronavirus task force pressers as a substitute for appearing in front of a rally audience. Also, he just wants to be on TV, on everyone’s TV.

  27. blf says

    US sick leave aid leaves millions of workers in the cold:

    Some 20 million American workers could be excluded from emergency paid sick leave.


    The administration of President [sic] Donald Trump has unveiled a $1.3 trillion stimulus plan that includes sending $1,000 cheques to Americans. [I imagine if the typical States-sider got a check labelled “cheque” they’d freak out –blf]

    But legions of workers and small business owners are worried the plan will not be enough to stop the US economy from falling into recession — tanking their livelihoods in the process.

    Among those most at risk of getting sidelined financially are low-wage service industry workers.

    Across the country, service workers have already seen their schedules cut or eliminated as officials urge social distancing and shutter bars, restaurants and non-essential shops in several states. Many are paid below the standard federal minimum wage because they earn tips. […]

    Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told Al Jazeera that the crisis could be “hugely devastating” for service workers.

    “They don’t have the customers; they’re not going to get their wages sometimes. They’re not going to get any paid leave, or in cases that they are, they’re not going to get those tips,” she said. “And we don’t know how long this is going to last.”

    On Wednesday, President [sic] Trump signed into law the The Families First [sic] Coronavirus Response Act extending free coronavirus testing to all who need it, as well as enhancing food assistance, unemployment benefits, and paid sick leave and emergency leave to many American workers who don’t already have it.

    The legislation requires businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave or emergency leave to workers sidelined by coronavirus, and give them the option to take up to 10 weeks off at reduced pay if necessary.

    It also lets the self-employed claim refundable tax credits for expenses if they can’t work because of coronavirus. Companies that employ fewer than 50 people can apply for an exemption.

    But the legislation does not apply to large businesses, many of which may or may not offer paid sick leave. And among large businesses that do, not all offer enough to cover a 14-day coronavirus quarantine should a worker be exposed to COVID-19.

    That potentially leaves more than 20 million American workers without paid sick leave, says Gould.


    Even before the coronavirus outbreak started rampaging across the country, paid sick leave was hugely unequal in the US. Some 94 percent of managers had paid sick leave in 2019, but just 58 percent of service workers did, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. And only about four percent of workers have more than 14 paid sick days per year, which is the minimum time people exposed to the coronavirus are asked to quarantine, according to Gould’s analysis.

    “It’s not nearly enough,” Gould said of the government’s economic response so far. “We also need a lot of other kinds of relief for workers and for households. We need to be giving people cash so they can pay their bills.”

    “When we finally get a handle on the virus and we can get on the other side of the health crisis, it will allow the economy to bounce back even faster if people have been able to pay their bills, continue paying their rent and their mortgages, and that money can be used to put food on the table,” Gould added. “A lot of people are going to be out of work.”


  28. says

    Trevor Bedford, the superstar epidemiologist who figured out how the virus spread in Washington state, has some ideas in this thread:

    I’ve been mulling over the @MRC_Outbreak modeling report on #COVID19 mitigation and suppression strategies since it was posted on March 16. Although mitigation through social distancing may not solve things I believe we can bring this epidemic under control. 1/19


    The only way we’re really going to flatten the curve is:

    a) a massive at-home testing effort

    b) using cell phone location data to tell people who may have been exposed to self-isolate

    c) allowing people who have known immunity (from having had it) back into the workforce once we know via blood test that they can’t get it or spread it anymore. That way, they can keep everything running while others fall sick.

    Bedford based this plan on models in the sobering recent WHO report. The at-home testing component was part of South Korea’s successful response; the cell phone location part comes in part from work by infectious disease modeler Christophe Fraser.

    Would Bedford’s plan take massive government coordination and cooperation by the American people? Sure. But it might be a lot better than the alternatives: complete lockdown or widespread disease.

    “This is the Apollo program of our times,” Bedford writes. “Let’s get to it.”

  29. says

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    President Trump, are your eyes stitched shut? Hospitals need test kits, ventilators, & other medical supplies. That’s why the DPA exists. Stop dragging your feet & burying your head & start helping hospitals that are about to be slammed by this pandemic.

    On her Twitter feed, you can see that Warren blurred out Trump’s obnoxious reference to a “Chinese” virus in his tweet.

  30. says

    From Wonkette:

    Well now, Fox has done an about-face and is pretending like it has always been at war with coronavirus. But there’s good news, because even as they’re starting to figure out how to deliver some actual science knowledge to their viewers, they’re also figuring out how to keep delivering that trademark Fox News garbage bullshit their audience hoovers up like fentanyl-laced Metamucil.

    For an example, we go to Fox News “medical expert” Dr. Nicole Saphier, who knows why all the kids are out there spring-breaking naked in the streets, while coronavirus rages: “They like to take it to the streets, as AOC says, they do protests, they think they are invincible! They’re gonna force themselves into position of martial law where we’re gonna need to quarantine them!”

    Saphier also says there are “fewer older and older people in the hospital now, because people ARE listening to Dr. [Deborah] Birx and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci,” whereas these kids with BAD PARENTS, who like to protest, LIKE AOC SAYS, well, they are definitely the bad ones.

    […] the New York Times that says 38 percent of those hospitalized for coronavirus in the US so far are between ages 20 and 54, giving lie to the myth that this is just an Old Balls disease. (Risk of death is still far higher for olds.)

    That gave the collection of morons, including their “medical expert,” their opening to blame those obnoxious spring-breaking kids on the beach in Florida on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Because Fox News. […]

    Middle-school kids, who apparently have taken to calling corona the “Boomer remover.” Godforsaken little shits, LOL.)

    […] We are just as pissed off at them as anybody else, and they need to GTFO the beach and get the fuck home, but you’re going to blame Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for that, […]

    For the record, here is what AOC the Millennial/Gen Z rabble rouser who makes the kids run around in the streets was saying about coronavirus five days ago.

    To everyone in NYC but ESPECIALLY healthy people & people under 40 (bc from what I’m observing that’s who needs to hear this again):

    PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now. Eat your meals at home.

    If you are healthy, you could be spreading COVID.


    Dr. Nicole Saphier has appeared on Wonkette a couple times. Last time it was because she was complaining that universal healthcare just takes away all the bootstraps incentives for people to make healthy choices. She thinks Obamacare made people less healthy. […]

    But hey, we are glad Fox News is at least trying to keep its viewers from keeling over dead now from what they racistly call the “Chinese virus,” after spending months telling viewers it was a hoax. A self-interested business decision? Surely probably most likely.

    Kinda hard to have a propaganda network if all your viewers are currently dead.


  31. says

    More about Trump’s gutting essential federal departments/agencies that could have helped during this pandemic:

    Much attention has been paid to the Trump administration’s shortsighted elimination of the White House Pandemic Response Team. The frustration with this decision is obvious: In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should have public health experts working with the federal government to tell us that social distancing is the best thing we can do to prevent infections and slow the strain on our health care system.

    But we also need behavioral scientists who can help advise on exactly how to get people to actually follow such instructions. The Obama administration created a White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, or SBST, tasked to use “behavioral science insights to better serve the American people” precisely for this reason. Unfortunately for the U.S., the Trump administration got rid of that too.

    In its brief existence, the SBST tackled a broad range of issues, from fighting food insecurity to helping people save for retirement, through an evidence-based policy approach that drew inspiration from decision-making research. For example, they encouraged households to make their homes more energy-efficient by highlighting the immediate, concrete benefits of saving money on their power bills, rather than trying to appeal to the abstract, distant goal of slowing climate change. Crucially, SBST programs rarely tried to tell people what to do by throwing a bunch of facts and statistics at them—a current coronavirus-fighting approach that has only worked with a subset of the population. Instead, the SBST found ways to encourage better decision-making by capitalizing on the mental shortcuts we take and the biases that we have.

    Though the SBST is no more, findings from decision-making research can still help us understand why people are not taking the threat of coronavirus seriously and how they could be convinced to follow social distancing recommendations.

    While epidemiologists are trying to model COVID-19’s true fatality rate—is it 3.4 percent? 1 percent?—decision scientists already know that people are generally pretty bad at objectively assessing probabilities. Famous behavioral economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky argued that people “discard events of extremely low probability,” simplifying minuscule percentages to basically zero. In other words, regardless of COVID-19’s true case fatality rate, our human brains are tempted to shortcut it to “super unlikely, so probably not me.” […]


  32. blf says

    Egypt targets Guardian, NYT journalists over coronavirus reports:

    Outrage as Egypt revokes Guardian journalist’s credentials and censures Times reporter for sharing incorrect data.

    Egypt has revoked the press credentials of a British journalist with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and censured the New York Times Cairo bureau chief over bad faith reporting on the country’s coronavirus cases.

    The correspondents’ rush to promote incorrect data does not justify them relying on an unpublished … and scientifically unrecognised study, the State Information Service (SIS) said in a statement on Tuesday.

    It shows their intentional bad faith to harm Egyptian interests, said the SIS, which is responsible for foreign media accreditation.

    The statement followed an article published on Sunday by UK journalist Ruth Michaelson, citing Canadian epidemiologists who estimated Egypt’s COVID-19 infections had surpassed 19,000.

    The SIS also denounced tweets by the New York Times Cairo bureau chief, Declan Walsh, referencing the same figures. Walsh later deleted the tweets following a backlash from Egyptians online.

    In a statement on Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the move, accusing Egyptian authorities “of reacting disproportionately and abusing their powers by withdrawing a Guardian reporter’s press credentials and issuing a warning to a New York Times reporter for questioning the official figures for coronavirus cases in Egypt”.

    It added that Egyptians reporters were also being “prevented from covering the coronavirus epidemic properly”.


    Egypt is the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists, according to rights group Committee to Protect Journalists, and has deported foreign journalists in recent years.

    I have not been able to locate any story in the Grauniad on this, and most other sources are more-or-less the same as what Al Jezerra reports (above). A few more details at Egypt shuts Guardian office over ‘offensive’ coronavirus repor.

    The Grauniad’s article which the dictatorship is objecting to is Egypt: rate of coronavirus cases ‘likely to be higher than figures suggest’:

    Infectious disease specialists from the University of Toronto provide grim picture of possible spread


    Infectious disease specialists from the University of Toronto who studied the disparity between official and likely infection rates in places like Iran provided a grim picture of the possible spread of the virus in Egypt.

    “Under the conservative estimate of Covid-2019 burden, where linked and ambiguous cases are eliminated, we estimated an outbreak size of 19,310 cases in Egypt,” they said, using a mix of flight data, traveller data and infection rates. “Egypt likely has a large burden of Covid-2019 cases that are unreported and greater public health clinical capacity may help identify and manage cases.”

    The scientists used data from early March when Egypt officially had three cases of the virus, meaning the numbers are now likely higher. Khaled Megahead, the spokesman for Egypt’s ministry of health, did not respond to requests for comment.

    Egypt has an overwhelmingly young population, meaning that fewer people will display serious symptoms of Covid-19. Many say privately they would opt to self-isolate if they contracted the virus, reluctant to surrender to a government that has quarantined people in a remote area close to the Libyan border, and detained doctors in the past.


    Two doctors in Luxor dismissed the idea they could have overlooked cases, despite tourists leaving the city and reporting symptoms on returning home.

    There is no country in the world that can test the entire population, said one […]. Yet examples worldwide show that widespread testing is essential to understanding and fighting the highly contagious virus.


    Egypt has a population of 100 million people, where 95% live on roughly 5% of the land, a challenge for practising social distancing. The government has taken steps to handle the problem, including shortening prayer times and announcing a £5.2bn fund to combat the “consequences of the virus”. But it has also sought to control the narrative, even as nearby countries banned entry from Egypt.

    Doctors and pharmacists who spoke with the Guardian doubted that Egypt’s public healthcare system is prepared for the impact of Covid-19. Pharmacists, often many Egyptians’ first choice for medical advice, said many fear being diagnosed.

    “I saw a couple of cases, where people come with cold symptoms, and they are afraid to say that they suspect it’s coronavirus,” said one operating in Cairo who declined to give his name. “Since there is no manual or information from the authorities on what to do if you are around someone with symptoms, lots of people just take doses of antibiotics, so they are stable for a couple of days. Then they get sick again.”

    Also, according to the embedded twitter link, “the manuscript just passed the peer review process and is accepted to the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal” (16 March). So Egypt’s claim the journalists [relied] on an unpublished … and scientifically unrecognised study is bullshite (albeit at the time of the article was one day before reported journal acceptance).

  33. says

    From George Conway:

    If you think you’ve been hearing a different President Trump this week — more accepting of the reality of the coronavirus pandemic — don’t be fooled. The new Trump is the same as the old Trump. He can’t help it. He’s incapable of taking responsibility for his role in this crisis — and thus incapable of leading us out of it.

    After weeks of denial and deflection, a seemingly chastened Trump on Monday conceded that the virus was, in fact, “not under control,” and was, indeed, “a very bad one.” What caused the switch in tone? Who knows? Perhaps it was the largest one-day point drop in the Dow Jones in history on Monday. Perhaps it was a study the White House received saying that 2.2 million Americans could die. Perhaps it was that Trump’s beloved Mar-a-Lago is getting a coronavirus-necessitated deep cleaning.

    But the sudden shift can’t conceal the fact that Trump has shown himself to be wholly inept at dealing with the pandemic. It doesn’t change the fact that he puts himself first, always. It doesn’t alter the fact that, as he once told top aides, he thinks of “each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.” It doesn’t dissolve Trump’s compulsion to lie, even when truth would serve him best. It doesn’t diminish his incompetence, ignorance or propensity for administrative chaos.

    And it doesn’t change his inability to accept responsibility. “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said Friday. So too this week, even as he acknowledged the seriousness of the situation he had played down for so long.

    On Monday, Trump said he would rate his performance in confronting the pandemic a 10 out of 10. Tuesday, he absurdly claimed, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” Wednesday, he tweeted that he had “always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously.” He also continued to blame others, lashing out at Democratic governors who bemoan his failing federal leadership.

    Of course, Trump will always take credit for positive developments — even those he didn’t cause, create or do — like the economy he inherited, an electoral “landslide” that never happened and the Christmas holiday he didn’t need to save. If it’s positive, then it’s “thank you President T,” as he once tweeted. […]

    And the common thread between his taking credit and shifting blame? Trump’s standbys: Lying, deceit and exaggeration. All have come into play throughout his presidency, and all now have come home to roost.
    He mendaciously claimed that his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect.” Perversely but fittingly, he has compared his coronavirus response to that call: “The tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect, right? This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good.”

    His absurd, repeated claims that the outbreak wouldn’t be so bad have been almost too many to count. Even as late as the weekend before last, Trump said at his infected Mar-a-Lago resort that: “They’re trying to scare everybody, from meetings, cancel the meetings, close the schools — you know, destroy the country. And that’s okay, as long as we can win the election.”

    As long as we can win the election. […] Which is why Trump wanted a cruise ship with infected passengers to be kept offshore: “because I like the numbers being where they are.” And why Trump kept pretending the virus crisis wasn’t a crisis — to keep the stock market from tanking, to win an election.

    […] Trump’s abject failure of leadership brings to mind the words, borrowed from Oliver Cromwell, that British Conservative backbencher Leo Amery used in 1940 to bring down Neville Chamberlain, a prime minister of his own party: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

    The nation needs a credible, competent president, now more than ever. The surest and best thing Trump could do to come to the aid of his country — to save lives — would be to go, as the hapless Chamberlain did. But that won’t happen. Because that would be taking responsibility, something Trump has never done and will never know how to do. It’s too bad for us.

    Washington Post link

  34. blf says

    It’s now 8pm here in France, with the nightly applauding the health care workers. This is the first time I (that I know of) it happened locally. I think the practice started in Italy, but it is also now happening in Spain and France (at least). There are numerous videos at all the usual sites.

  35. blf says

    I am a regular donor to MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders), and recently received the following e-mail (in translation):

    We hope this message finds you and your family healthy. While France is being hit hard by the epidemic coronavirus Covid-19 which now extends around the world, and that impacts everyone’s daily life, our teams are hard at work to provide support to States in need.

    Given the magnitude of the pandemic, it is clear that health workers need reinforcement. In many countries, [where(?)] we do not usually intervene, we offered to lend a hand to the health authorities to strengthen response capabilities to the epidemic.

    In France, MSF has offered assistance to the infectious diseases and tropical Bichat Hospital in Paris. Discussions are ongoing especially regarding possible actions with vulnerable populations: organize triage, consultation, and confinement for those who are sick but did not require hospitalization. Also under consideration the provision of intensive care doctors and nurses.

    In Italy, the second most affected country after China, MSF began supporting four hospitals located in the epicenter of the epidemic, particularly through supported and infection prevention and control activities.

    In Hong Kong, our outreach to recommended hygiene measures continue to the most vulnerable populations.

    In Greece, our teams are in contact with the National Public Health Organization to coordinate prevention and case management for local residents and asylum seekers. MSF also called for the evacuation of the refugee camps in the Greek islands.

    Beyond the support we want to provide where our help will be useful, our priority is to maintain our current regular medical programs for tens of thousands of patients and extremely vulnerable communities to whom we render assistance worldwide, taking into account the new context of intervention. We are very concerned about how the pandemic might affect these populations.

    In many places where our teams work, the ability to respond to an influx of patients with a new disease that may require intensive care is limited. Our interventions being further complicated by current travel restrictions that limit the flow of our medical personnel from one country to another.

    It is clear that we must do everything to prevent the spread of the virus.

    The pandemic requires showing solidarity at all levels, between States, in logical self-help, cooperation, transparency and sharing of resources, and in the affected areas, to the most vulnerable populations and to caregivers .

    We know from experience that an essential component to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic is trust in health authorities and the response is organized. For this, a communication and clear advice, timely, measured and honest are needed.

  36. says

    A voter “fraud” alarmist group has seized on coronavirus to denounce mail-in balloting. Of course they have.

    As elected officials across the country scramble to figure out how to conduct elections without worsening the coronavirus outbreak, many are emphasizing the importance of absentee voting and even considering expanding mail-in ballot options. […]

    The interest by states to push people towards mail-in voting comes as part of the broader COVID-19-prompted effort to cut down on human contact. Under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Americans are encouraged to avoid gathering in large groups and to stay six feet away from one another — a nearly impossible feat while waiting in line to vote in, say, a school cafeteria.

    Voting fraud alarmist groups claim that an increase in mail-in voting will lead to rampant, election-swinging criminality. While vote-by-mail fraud is more real than virtually nonexistent in-person voting fraud, it is still rare. That has not stopped these groups from grasping at straws to argue that it will create a cataclysmic problem […]

    One group, the Election Integrity Project in California, sent around an email blast urging Los Angeles County residents to “beware the significant risks” to the legitimacy of the election now that Secretary of State Alex Padilla has advised that mail-in ballots be sent to every registered voter in the county for the November 2020 elections.

    Well, that’s certainly ripe fruit for Russian trolls and bots to pick. One can safely predict that Trump is also likely to seize on this kind of conspiracy theory to try to invalidate election results that don’t favor him, or that don’t favor Republicans in general.

    The group’s leader, Linda Paine, confirmed to TPM that the missive was timed to address any possible shifts to a more mail-based system statewide amid the coronavirus outbreak […]

    a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office told TPM that, while no decision has been made, the office is “checking the feasibility of producing an additional 2.5 million vote-by-mail ballots.”

    […] “There is no basis for a spike in actual concern about voter fraud, assuming states get the resources they need and start planning now to make sure the elections are able to run safely and securely,” she [Wendy Weiser, Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law] added.

    States that already switched to an all vote-by-mail system years ago, like Oregon, have fairly intense security measures in place.

    Election officials diligently track death notices, change of address forms and social security records to keep the voter rolls up to date. The absentee ballots and envelopes have barcodes unique to each voter, and larger counties are equipped with machines to ensure that there are no discrepancies between the two, or duplicate barcodes. […]

    After all that, could a ballot for a dead person or someone who moved and slipped through the cracks still be stolen out of a mailbox? Yes. But as former Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling told NBC News, it’d be “one of the stupidest ways to try to steal an election. They’d be committing a felony, vote by vote.”

    Other states could borrow parts of the security systems used in Oregon, or other mail-in states, to prepare for an increase in mailed ballots in the general election. “It’s a tight timeframe,” said Weiser, who recommends a hybrid system of increased mail-in options plus plenty of in-person polls. “But there’s enough time.” […]

    Another group, the Minnesota Voters Alliance, lodged a suspiciously timed lawsuit against Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon pertaining to absentee ballot qualifications. […]

    The complaint, filed on March 13, centers on who qualifies for absentee ballots in Minnesota, a state that has “no-excuse” absentee voting for registered voters. The policy allows any registered voter to request a ballot without providing a reason for being away from the polls on Election Day. […]

    The MVA has sued Simon multiple times, recently in an attempt to get voter roll data to prove their dubious claims of widespread voter fraud.

    Weiser said she was concerned about this election even before the disease broke out […] This general election was likely to see even more disinformation attacks, she added, after […] Trump questioned the legitimacy of the 2016 election — “which he won!” she exclaimed — and brought voter fraud misinformation into the mainstream. […]

    “Now, those concerns are even magnified because there will be a lot of changes in how people are running elections: a lot of disorganization and scrambling and a significant increase in mail balloting,” she added. “All of this is fodder for voter fraud alarmists.”


  37. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #39 above:

    First Trump speaks, making mostly announcements that do nothing to address coronavirus—closing the border with Canada! Flight restrictions on Europe!—but do serve the right-wing narrative of this crisis, which is all xenophobia, all the time.

    *(Non-)Exclusions apply, like to the far-Right Brazilian delegation he hosted at his private club, of which 14 people have since tested positive, which possibly spread coronavirus to politicians in both DC and southern Florida and waves of people beyond.

  38. says

    From Joan McCarter:

    […] Schumer and Pelosi, along with all their rank-and-file Democrats have been insisting that there cannot be bailouts for industry unless the people who make those industries run—all the millions of employees—are taken care of first. From halting student loan and mortgage and rent payments to providing adequate unemployment insurance and food assistance and health coverage—that’s at least as important as the direct cash payments for making sure this society comes out the other end of the crisis even remotely intact.

    That’s the kind of existential thinking our lawmakers have to be doing. Let’s hope they’re up to the task. Thus far, McConnell’s extreme partisanship in the process doesn’t bode well.


  39. says

    Trump accused the press of “siding with China.”

    […] “They [media organizations] are siding with China. They are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. They’re siding with many others. China’s the least of it,” Trump said during a White House briefing on the coronavirus in response to a question from One America News (OAN).

    “So why they’re doing this, you’ll have to ask them,” he added. “If we had an honest media in this country our country would be an even greater place.” […]

    “It amazes me when i read the things that I read,” Trump said, launching into a lengthy diatribe against The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other major media groups that he took questions from just moments earlier. Those same outlets had reporters expelled from China this week as the country cracks down on critical coverage.

    He accused the press of inaccurately reporting on chaos within the administration, even as top administration officials have had their roles in combating the virus reshuffled and the White House press shop has not pushed back on those reports.

    “I hope I came up with the term, but it’s fake news,” Trump said. “It’s more than fake news, it’s corrupt news.”

    “Someday, hopefully in five years, I won’t be here and that’ll be fine,” he continued. “I will have done a great job. Because I don’t think anyone’s done as much in three-and-a-half years as I’ve done.” […]


  40. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #37 above:

    Trump went on to rail against the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times after the OANN reporter asked this truly bizarre question:

    “On that note, major left-wing news media, even in this room, have teamed up with Chinese Communist Party narratives, and they’re claiming that you’re racist for making these claims about Chinese virus….”

    Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were expelled from China two days ago. Trump, Xi, Bolsonaro, Netanyahu, Putin – they share the same playbook. Attack and attempt to discredit journalists, cover up incompetence and mismanagement, create diversions, and lie to the public.

  41. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Did you see the very serious reporter ask if it’s so racist to call coronavirus “Chinese virus” (it is), then is it also racist to say “Chinese food”? (Trump says it’s not. Factcheck true!) Did you see her ask with a straight face if Trump thinks it’s very uncool and unfair for the real media to be “team[ing] up with Chinese Communist Party narratives,” and “consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals, and Latin gangs and cartels” in covering coronavirus?

    These VERY JOURNALISM QUESTIONS led Trump to whine and bitch about all the real media, from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post. He did not comment on the Latin Gangs directing mainstream coronavirus coverage […]

    Good job, Chanel Rion. You sure did do a thing today!

    Wait, Who Or What Is A ‘Chanel Rion’? […]

    According to her website, she is an “author and political illustrator,” on top of her very important work of asking Donald Trump why Politico is doing NO COLLUSION! with Islamic Radicals and communists to make him, who is perfect, look bad during this coronavirus crisis.

    She was home-schooled, and her dad got mad at socialism in the 1990s, so he moved the family out of America so they could suffer under socialism up close, we guess. This was her real schoolin’, y’all.

    When she lived in South Korea, she could see North Korea from her house!

    After that, they lived among the communists of France (y’all, we are reading her biography, we are not making this up) and they ate lots of goat cheese and baguettes and it was just great, her dad loved it, even though it was also BAD and COMMUNIST and all her first-grade classmates, who never actually talked about politics, were COMMUNISTS.

    Rion “has been frequently described as one of Hillary Clinton’s ‘worst nightmares’,” according to her bio. We are not sure by whom exactly, so we’ll just assume it’s pretty much everybody who thinks that.

    As to Rion’s claim to be an author, her website claims she is the author of a popular mystery book series for girls that is totally different from the mystery books for girls that are full of “manophobia, hatred, gender-confusion and blame.” Wonkette investigated these books, and … well, couldn’t find them, outside her website, which is also from what we can tell the only place you’ll find her clearly badass political cartoons.

    If you Google her book series — allegedly called “Mystery By Design” — you’ll get Wonkette links and Media Matters links about WHO THE FUCK IS CHANEL RION, but no hot opportunities to purchase said books. […]

    As of 2018, Rion was the fiancee of a now-failed Missouri GOP Senate candidate named Courtland Sykes, whose claim to fame was that he believes in a lady’s right to make him dinner. […]

    Rion is a Seth-Rich conspiracy theorist, because of course, and a “Spirit Cooking” conspiracy theorist, and of course (OF COURSE) she has conducted “depositions” with very serious corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor friends of Rudy Giuliani’s, in order to “prove” that something something Biden Ukraine something something. But more importantly for coronavirus purposes, on March 14 and 15, OANN ran a documentary-style shitpiece featuring Rion, which, according to Media Matters, “suggested that the novel coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic may have originated in a North Carolina laboratory.”


    Because Rion’s “source” (OANN has the best “sources”) is a conspiracy theorist named Greg Rubini, who has proffered the allegation that maybe Dr. Anthony Fauci — who runs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is one of the world’s leading infectious disease specialists, and is an integral part of Trump’s coronavirus team — is actually a Deep State who funded the creation of coronavirus in that North Carolina lab, after which it was sent to China and Italy so that it could boomerang back to America and frame Trump and make him look stupid so he won’t get re-elected.

    There are a lot of bonkers ideas in that conspiracy theory, but I’ll just point out that Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help to make him look stupid.

    Don’t worry, though, because Media Matters assures us Rion was Just Asking Questions, and that she finally settled on a different conspiracy theory that still involves North Carolina but is way more sane, just kidding no it isn’t.

    [S]he concluded by implying that Chinese scientists, after purportedly helping to create the virus in North Carolina in 2015, then released it from a laboratory in Wuhan near the end of 2019.

    Awesome. […]


    How the heck is she allowed into the White House briefing room?

  42. says

    Hmmm. This might explain Fauci’s absence:

    […] Fauci for the past two days had been saying that chloroquine is not a miracle cure and that we still need to determine its safety.

    Speaking to Laura Ingraham on Fox News on Tuesday, Fauci said, “We have to be careful, Laura, that we don’t assume something works based on an anecdotal report that’s not controlled. And I refer specifically to hydroxychloroquine. There’s a lot of buzz out there on the internet on the social media about that.”

    On Wednesday, he reiterated this message in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, saying he supported large-scale clinical trials but was against “just throwing the drug out there, which is not a good idea.”

    This would not be the first time Fauci has contradicted the president’s messaging during this crisis. Trump has described the testing regime as “perfect”; Fauci last week admitted to Congress that the government’s approach to testing “is a failing.”

    The week before that, during a press event at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Fauci corrected the president’s statement that a vaccine was possibly just “three to four months” away, noting that in fact it would be “at the earliest, a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.”

    And at a time when Trump was still giving cheery assessments of the situation last week, Fauci acknowledged to Congress that “bottom line: It’s going to get worse.”

    Fauci’s repeated contradictions of the president have earned him a reputation as a truth teller in a government that has repeatedly deceived the public about the severity of the pandemic and the effectiveness of the response.

    That’s why, on Thursday, it was curious to see Fauci absent from the podium for a second day in a row. Figures including Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart, constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, and The View co-host Joy Behar all wondered on Twitter why Fauci was not appearing. […]


  43. says

    Italy’s death toll (3,405) has surpassed the death toll in China. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases the USA doubled in two days. On Tuesday, there were just more than 5,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. That number surpassed 11,500 on Thursday. The Trump administration seems to have sidelined Dr. Fauci and the CDC.

  44. says

    Fauci’s repeated contradictions of the president have earned him a reputation as a truth teller in a government that has repeatedly deceived the public about the severity of the pandemic and the effectiveness of the response.

    That’s why, on Thursday, it was curious to see Fauci absent from the podium for a second day in a row.

    Why was that curious? Isn’t that what Trump does with anyone who doesn’t cower sufficiently and tell the dear leader he’s right? Shove them out and replace them with the next rube in line.

    I don’t know why people keep signing up. Trump can’t be guided. He can’t be advised or controlled. He can’t process the information you give him. He literally can’t. It might seem strange, but he has simply never had to learn how to deal with a world that didn’t do what he told it to do. These past few years have probably been the first time in his life were he couldn’t fix everything by either lying, banging the table, or calling in a favor.

    He simply doesn’t know how to handle something like this. You’d have more luck with a random high school student. Just pick a name out of a hat or something.

  45. says

    Politico – “State Department warns Americans: Don’t travel abroad, come home if overseas”:

    The State Department on Thursday issued an extraordinary advisory urging Americans not to travel overseas and to return to the United States if they can, a move that comes amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Level 4 travel advisory for all international travel appears to be unprecedented and is the most severe such warning issued by the department. It urges American citizens who live abroad or otherwise cannot reach the U.S. to essentially stay where they are and avoid crossing international boundaries. POLITICO first reported the plans for the advisory earlier Thursday.

    Numerous U.S. citizens are already in limbo abroad, and the new guidance threatens to stir further anxiety among travelers. U.S. lawmakers have raised questions about the State Department’s ability to aid Americans overseas, but in the new guidance, the department makes clear that U.S. citizens shouldn’t count on it to help.

    “Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. government for assistance,” the travel advisory tells Americans who decide to go overseas or are already there.

    According to several people familiar with the situation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved raising the advisory from its previous status of Level 3. That earlier advisory merely encouraged Americans to reconsider travel abroad.

    The State Department press office did not respond to requests for comment, but announced on Thursday that U.S. passport agencies will only accept applications from customers with life-or-death emergencies who plan to travel within 72 hours.

    Current and former U.S. State Department officials, some of them with several decades of experience, said they did not recall such a travel advisory ever being issued in the past.

    Some Americans are stranded in countries such as Guatemala, which has issued a ban on any flights coming or going, and others are having to pay dearly for what flights are left, often transiting through several countries before finding a way back home.

    And the State Department has largely been absent, according to interviews with several Americans stranded abroad, who reported receiving no help from U.S. embassies.

    Members of Congress said they’re trying to handle pleas for help from constituents and have been pushing the State Department to figure out how to get Americans home.

    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led a letter from 9 Democrats on Wednesday asking the State Department to step up its efforts to help those stuck abroad.

    “We seek an immediate clarification regarding your current efforts to facilitate the return of Americans to the United States, whether by commercial airline flights, charter flights, or other means,” the letter reads.

    Virginia Sen. Mark Warner also reached out to Pompeo on Wednesday, saying he’s heard from “an alarming number of Virginians” unable to return home.

    His spokesperson, Nelly Decker, said that the Virginia Democrat’s office was assisting upwards of 20 Virginians around the world “with the number growing almost hourly.”

    Pompeo wouldn’t even stick up for the Department’s own career diplomats. Of course they’ll leave regular people hanging out to dry.

    MSNBC had some reporting that they’re considering canceling domestic flights, and that Fauci was a supporter of the idea.

  46. says

    TPM with more re #14 above – “Burr Dumped Up To $1.6 Million Of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness”:

    Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 29 separate transactions.

    As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.

    A week after Burr’s sales, the stock market began a sharp decline and has lost about 30% since.

    On Thursday, Burr came under fire after NPR obtained a secret recording from Feb. 27, in which the lawmaker gave a VIP group at an exclusive social club a much more dire preview of the economic impact of the coronavirus than what he had told the public.

    Burr is not a particularly wealthy member of the Senate: Roll Call estimated his net worth at $1.7 million [it’s all relative! – SC] in 2018, indicating that the February sales significantly shaped his financial fortunes and spared him from some of the pain that many Americans are now facing.

    Members of Congress are required by law to disclose their securities transactions.

    Burr was one of just three senators who in 2012 opposed the bill that explicitly barred lawmakers and their staff from using nonpublic information for trades and required regular disclosure of those trades. In opposing the bill, Burr argued at the time that insider trading laws already applied to members of Congress. President Barack Obama signed the bill, known as the STOCK Act, that year.

    Stock transactions of lawmakers are reported in ranges. Burr’s Feb. 13 selling spree was his largest stock selling day of at least the past 14 months, according to a ProPublica review of Senate records. Unlike his typical disclosure reports, which are a mix of sales and purchases, all of the transactions were sales.

    His biggest sales included companies that are among the most vulnerable to an economic slowdown. He dumped up to $150,000 worth of shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, a chain based in the United States that has lost two-thirds of its value. And he sold up to $100,000 of shares of Extended Stay America, an economy hospitality chain. Shares of that company are now worth less than half of what they did at the time Burr sold.

    The assets come from accounts that are held by Burr, belong to his spouse or are jointly held.

  47. says

    Ron Klain:

    This is really important. Some people think that people like me are criticizing Trump for political points or “recriminations.” That’s not the issue.

    The problem is that the response IS STILL MESSED UP. The criticism is aimed at getting it fixed NOW!

  48. says

    Why don’t Trump’s sycophants present serious, meaningful steps to him as “bold” and “decisive” actions which will turn the tide and for which he’ll be praised? It’s bizarre that Trump, an entirely reckless person with no real understanding of risks or consequences, is so hesitant and equivocating and stagnant. Seems like it shouldn’t be hard to convince him that he’ll be praised for actually doing shit (obviously, he‘s not competent to do anything, but he could authorize/allow other people to take action and then take credit).

  49. says

    Daily Beast – “Sen. Kelly Loeffler Dumped Millions in Stock After Coronavirus Briefing”:

    The Senate’s newest member sold off seven figures worth of stock holdings in the days and weeks after a private, all-senators meeting on the novel coronavirus that subsequently hammered U.S. equities.

    Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) reported the first sale of stock jointly owned by her and her husband on Jan. 24, the very day that her committee, the Senate Health Committee, hosted a private, all-senators briefing from administration officials, including the CDC director and Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Health of the United States, on the coronavirus.

    “Appreciate today’s briefing from the President’s top health officials on the novel coronavirus outbreak,” she tweeted about the briefing at the time.

    That first transaction was a sale of stock in the company Resideo Technologies worth between $50,001 and $100,000. The company’s stock price has fallen by more than half since then, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average overall has shed approximately 10,000 points, dropping about a third of its value.

    It was the first of 29 stock transactions that Loeffler and her husband made through mid-February, all but two of which were sales. One of Loeffler’s two purchases was stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and which has seen a small bump in its stock price since Loeffler bought in as a result of coronavirus-induced market turmoil.

    Loeffler’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the transactions and whether they were prompted or informed by information shared at that late January briefing. It’s illegal for members of Congress to trade on non-public information gleaned through their official duties.

    In the weeks after her spate of stock trades, Loeffler sought to downplay the public health and financial threats posed by the coronavirus.

    “Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on #Coronavirus readiness,” she tweeted on February 28. “Here’s the truth: @realDonaldTrump & his administration are doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy & safe.”

    “Concerned about #coronavirus?” she tweeted on March 10. “Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong, & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19 & keep Americans safe.”

    Loeffler is the second known senator to sell off large stock holdings between that Jan. 24 briefing and the dramatic drop in stock market indices over the last week. The Center for Responsive Politics reported on Thursday that Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold between $500,000 and $1.5 million in stock in February, shortly before markets tanked—and before Burr privately warned of the havoc that coronavirus was poised to wreak.

    Loeffler assumed office on Jan. 6 after having been appointed to the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson….

    The full scope of Loeffler’s portfolio and its particular holdings is not yet known. Senators are required to regularly disclose that information, but in January she requested an extension from Senate ethics officials. A full accounting of her finances will not be public until May.

    When Loeffler assumed office she immediately became the wealthiest member of Congress. The Atlanta businesswoman, whose husband is the chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, is worth an estimated $500 million.

    From the beginning of her tenure, she has faced scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest. Her position on a Senate subcommittee that oversees futures markets “gives Kelly Loeffler a direct position in overseeing her and her husband’s financial enterprises,” Craig Holman, lobbyist for the ethics group Public Citizen, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in February. “I find it utterly irresponsible the Senate would choose to put Loeffler on that committee, given her conflicts of interest.”

    Unlike other senators, Loeffler’s finances are directly tied to her electoral fate. She has pledged to spend $20 million on her bid to hold on to her seat when she faces voters for the first time this November.

  50. says

    Guardian – “All Californians ordered to shelter in place as governor estimates more than 25m will get virus”:

    California has extended its shelter-in-place order to cover the entire state, the governor announced on Thursday, in a dramatic escalation of efforts to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

    The order, which will go into force Thursday evening, requires the state’s nearly 40 million residents to remain indoors and limit outdoor movement to what is “absolutely essential”.

    The move came as Newsom on Thursday estimated that 25.5 million people – roughly 56% of California’s population – are likely to become infected with the coronavirus, an alarming projection offered by the governor in a letter to Donald Trump. Newsom called on the president to deploy a navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, and station it in the port of Los Angeles to help the giant metro area deal with a fast-moving health crisis.

    “In the last 24 hours, we had 126 new Covid-19 cases, a 21% increase. In some parts of our state, the case rate is doubling every four days,” Newsom wrote, adding that evidence of community transmission had been found in at least 23 counties.

    “We project that roughly 56% of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period,” he said.

    At a press conference on Thursday evening, Newsom acknowledged the severity of the order and urged Californians to band together. “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time,” he said.

    “We will meet this moment together and we will look back at these kinds of decisions as pivotal decisions. If we will be criticized in this moment let us be criticized for taking this moment seriously, let us be criticized for going full-force and meeting this virus head on.”

    Earlier on Thursday, Los Angeles ordered residents to stay indoors and limit all outdoor movement beyond what is “absolutely essential”. Workers in healthcare, government and the food industry will be able to travel for work, and grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, gas stations and other essential businesses will remain open. Officials said residents can still go outside, enjoy open space and go on walks.

    How Californians respond to the crisis and restrictions in next 8 weeks will determine how hard the state’s hospitals will be hit, the California Hospital Association’s president said at the press conference.

  51. says

    First, coffee.

    :). He’s so angry that he has to be there, not the center of attention for that moment, listening to someone else talk about something unpleasant that he doesn’t understand and can’t follow. He’s annoyed that he has to try to act like a serious person and pretend he cares about any of it.

  52. johnson catman says

    re SC @86: That they were using insider information was disgusting enough, but the fact that AT THE SAME TIME, they were downplaying the effects of the coronavirus TO THE PUBLIC, the people who they have been elected to represent, should cause them to be booted from office and never allowed to hold an elected position again EVER. In addition, they should have to forfeit ALL profits from the sales and be made to pay substantial penalties. This should apply not just to Loeffler, but to Burr and any others who used information that they gained due to their positions to take advantage of the situation.

  53. blf says

    France24 is reporting the police have handed out over 18,000 violations (fines) over the last four-ish days. That’s obviously only the eejits who are caught, and the reporter (who is reporting from home) noted that in their neighborhood, the eejits seem to be coming out at night. They observed some eejits “breaking into” a closed park.

  54. blf says

    Loudspeaker-equipped drones are being used in Spain, and now apparently one is in operation not a million miles from where I live (from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog (quoted in full)):

    The authorities on the French Riviera are using a drone fitted with a loudspeaker to instruct people to “stay home.”

    The drone overflew Nice this morning and has been deployed over Cannes this afternoon.

    “Remember the instructions regarding the Covid-19 epidemic. All movements outside the home are banned except where there is a derogation,” was the message.

    “Please respect a safe distance of at least one metre between each other,” it added.

    The device is being piloted by a local drone business run by former police officer Sabri Ben Hassen.

    “For the moment, we’ve only one and it’s sending out the message with a 100 decibel speaker. To give some idea, an Airbus produces 120 decibels when it is taking off,” Ben Hassen, 33, told AFP.

    The operation was commissioned by the local police prefect.

    I still have no idea exactly what it’s like where I live, as I still have not been out. I anticipate going out to buy essentials sometime in the next few days. I ran out of fresh fruits and veggies a day or two ago, and now am almost out of any fresh food; the various canned, &tc, foods have not really been touched. On other hand, I have now unearthed a variety of mysterious jars and packages from the dark recesses of the refrigerator; most of them seem to be growling and jumping about, so I assume whatever is now inside them is still alive and edible, albeit in need of pacification first (or being dunked in boiling water, whatever). It’s still remarkably quiet, very very little noise from the outside, despite the fine weather (c.17℃, sunny, very light breeze).

  55. blf says

    From today’s Grauniad live pandemic blog:

    A map showing the differing levels of countermeasures has been compiled by Olivier Lejeune, an analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    It includes the latest decisions by Argentina and California to impose a full curfew. Lejeune has tried his best to keep it accurate for every country in the world.

    Darker the colour, deeper the lockdown.

    Fascinating map of global #coronavirus coronavirus countermeasures (compiled by @O_LJ)

    And just a reminder of the John Hopkins Covid-19 dashboard (now with an added FAQ).

  56. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@70, After just half a day of home-schooling, I am officially in awe of all teachers:

    While the world outside panicked over coronavirus, I was to be the calm, efficient teacher to my child. It didn’t last long


    Like salesmanship and writing, teaching is one of those things a lot of people sneakily think they could probably do if they had the time. When the New York school system shut down on Monday, I went into this new period of quarantine fully nursing this delusion. […] This was going to be great.

    This confidence lasted until approximately lunchtime that first day. After the fight about the letter S, I tried to engage with the school’s online maths resources, died a small death at reading the word “module”, got bored after the third paragraph, wondered how teachers cope with the volume of information they have to process, then called snack time.

    Going into this period I already loved my girls’ teachers, but along with a lot of other parents in New York this week, trying to teach my own kids has filled me with an unparalleled sense of amazement. How on earth, in a single kindergarten year, had they got them reading and writing and counting and sitting quietly — and that’s in a class with 20 other kids? I have two and by midweek was exhausted and screaming.


  57. blf says

    ‘Don’t take any chances’: warning of woman with Covid-19 shared online:

    A 39-year-old woman who filmed herself after while being treated in hospital for coronavirus has urged the public to not take any chances amid the pandemic.

    Tara Jane Langston, who lives in London, has been described as a healthy mother of two by her family before she contracted the coronavirus and became seriously unwell.

    In a video, which has been widely shared on social media, Langston warned the British public to take the risks more seriously.

    “If anyone is thinking of taking any chances, just take a look at me. I’m in the intensive care unit. I can’t breathe without this. They’ve had to sew that into my artery. I’ve got a cannula, another cannula and a catheter. I’m actually 10 times better than what I was before. I’ve lost count of the days.

    “If anyone still smokes, put the cigarettes down because I’m telling you now, you need your fucking lungs,” she said.


    Once the video went viral, there were many comments claiming it was fake. [Ms Langston’s sister, Nicole Poppy] Keatley said she was ignoring the negative comments. “Everyone’s going to have an opinion or conspiracy theory.”

  58. blf says

    Not going to stop me: Miami spring breakers unfazed by coronavirus warnings (video): “Crowds of young Americans have flocked to Florida to celebrate spring break, defying guidelines from health officials to practise social distancing and avoid large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic”. I myself have not watched the video as I suspect it will make me start SHOUTING at the eejits. (As a reminder, the Mediterranean beaches (and some others) here in France have been closed.)

    Vaguely related — teh eejit in Wacko House — from the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    De Blasio says Trump ‘should get the hell out of the way’ on coronavirus response


    Donald Trump is once again coming under harsh criticism for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio telling MSNBC this morning that the federal government has been “absent” as the city grapples with thousands of cases.

    “He should get the hell out of the way and let the military do its job,” said de Blasio, who simultaneously praised the work of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    The mayor warned that if Trump does not immediately deploy the military and speed up production of medical supplies, the consequences could be tragic.

    “A lot of people are going to die who don’t have to die,” de Blasio said. “If the president [sic] doesn’t act within days to maximize production, to get surgical masks, if he doesn’t mobilize the US military, people will die.”

  59. blf says

    Coronavirus has taught Italy hard lessons. Other countries must learn from us (by Maurizio Molinari, editor-in-chief of La Stampa):

    My newspaper has found itself on the frontline of the crisis. Free information is more important now than ever

    Last week, Italy became the first European country to go into complete lockdown to protect its citizens from a pandemic attack. Previously, such a scenario was just an academic hypothesis for national security experts. Now what Italy is doing can become a model for other countries threatened by the same enemy: coronavirus.

    Italy remains under attack, as shown by the rising number of infections and deaths, and the battle against the virus is full of unknowns, but there are three aspects of the current emergency that already contain unequivocal lessons.

    The first concerns national security. The pandemic caught Italy by surprise […] We must then invest in health like we do in security — that means rethinking national budgets to dedicate strategic resources to research, development and training in the medical sector and also to the purchase of materials destined to become crucial supplies.

    What this requires of individual democracies as well as of the EU and Nato alliances is to equip themselves urgently with an effective, well-structured and even better funded biosecurity policy. […]

    The second lesson coming from Italy’s experience of the pandemic is the crucial importance of collaboration between citizens and official institutions. If Giuseppe Conte’s government has locked down public life, forced millions of people into a de facto quarantine and faced economic costs that risk recession, it is because this is the only effective prescription to stem […] the virus. But for that to be successful, it is necessary for every individual citizen to play their part responsibly. Since we are a democracy, there is a constitutional limit to the obligations that can be imposed on citizens, hence the importance of personal responsibility. […]

    There is also a third element to the Italian experience: it is reflected in the people at their windows and in balconies, who at midday last Saturday collectively applauded the doctors and nurses who are key figures in the fight against the virus. People are also playing or singing the national anthem from their homes, as well as O Sole Mio and other beloved songs, as a way of uniting against the pandemic in a show of spontaneous patriotism that ultimately makes the nation more cohesive.

    But this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is happening across Italy: from the Turin confectioners who are bringing sweet treats to hospitals for patients and doctors to the young Romans arranging to meet in front of laptops for their evening aperitivo; from the Milanese who are not asking for refunds of their unused theatre tickets to the restaurant owners who are working with home deliveries; from the technicians who are using 3D printers to help doctors to far-off hospitals that are mobilising to support Lombardy, the worst-affected region; from the security workers helping families to find food outlets to the representatives of all faiths who are using the internet to guide their fellow believers.


    Italy is adapting to the emergency by ensuring that passion for life prevails over fear of the virus, and by refuting the image of an anarchic people who are reluctant to respect laws and regulations: the truth is that when life is at stake, even the most rebellious of citizens becomes a patriot. This is a sign of the energy of our nation and the best guarantee of being able to raise ourselves up again when the coronavirus crisis is defeated. Even if the challenge is far from over.

  60. blf says

    Heh, I was idly wondering about this (the local-ish soap-making tradition / industry during the pandemic) just last night, Traditional French soap-maker Savonnerie de la Licorne (pictures): “As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the Marseille tradition of soap-making is enjoying a renaissance, as the French public rediscovers this essential local product”.

  61. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 96

    Ugh! Why do I suspect that when presented with the evidence for why they should go home, these dude-bro Chads and bleach-blond Stacys rationally retorted with a scream of “YOLO!!!”* followed by a blast from an air horn.

    *Is that still being used?

  62. says

    From the press spectacle:

    Pompeo shamelessly still flogging anti-Iran measures in the midst of an enormous humanitarian crisis there. Also, border closures, which are basically a political messaging effort at this point, with the US a major center of the disease.

    Azar, a total political hack, is competing w Pence for obsequiousness. Repeating by now unending claim that Trump deserves great credit for his foresight in blocking flights from China in the face of opposition. Airlines had already stopped flying,and there was no opposition.

    This is a shameful bid to further the migrants as a source of scourges narrative that Trump launched early in his election campaign.

    Pence does what Trump does, just more smoothly, with church-like fervor, gaslighting the public about stuff on its way (masks and ventilators), for the nth day in a row, as the government plays for time.

  63. says

    “Q: ‘What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared?’
    Trump: ‘I say that you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people’.”

    (Here’s the video clip.)

    This is real.

    He can’t do the job. Just can’t do it.”

    He cannot do it. It’s a national emergency.

  64. blf says

    ‘Your move, AL Dubs!’ Lloyd Webber and Hamilton creator in musicals play-off:

    Lin-Manuel Miranda accepts Andrew Lloyd Webber’s self-isolation Twitter challenge, and throws down gauntlet

    Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Cinderella was one of the first theatre productions to delay its opening because of the coronavirus crisis. It is currently slated for October but full-scale pre-rehearsals were still planned for this month with the leading actors. Lloyd Webber has now found himself self-isolating, like so many of us, and in an idle moment asked his Twitter followers which of his songs they’d like to hear him play at the piano. The song that came out on top was All I Ask of You from The Phantom of the Opera and in a video shared on Twitter, Lloyd Webber plays the tune “in C major because my arthritic fingers couldn’t do it in C flat”. He is accompanied by his dog. (“It’s alright, it doesn’t come from Cats,” the composer quips to camera. [I really did LoL at that –blf])


    Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was one of many who enjoyed the video, tweeting: “It’s almost your birthday and you give us gifts. Thanks maestro.” Lloyd Webber, who turns 72 on Sunday, replied suggesting they have a play-off.

    With a Phantom mask on top of his piano and children’s toys in the background, Miranda duly picks up the challenge from “AL Dubs” and plays Everything’s Alright from Jesus Christ Superstar. […]

  65. says

    During his press briefing which wasn’t racist, imparted actual information, and demonstrated compassion and responsibility, Cuomo announced a mandatory 100% workplace reduction except for essential businesses in NY. Said he’s in conversation with several other governors in the region, so similar measures could – and should – be taken in those states. He also discussed stringent social-distancing guidelines for vulnerable people and others, which I’ll try to find.

  66. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Italy announces 627 more coronavirus deaths, the biggest day-to-day increase in the country’s four-week epidemic.

    Boris Johnson is telling cafes, bars, and restaurants to close as soon as possible and not to open tomorrow. He said they can provide takeaway services. He also ordered nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close.

  67. says

    No one at that podium has an answer to the most important question today, yesterday and every day before and after.


    It’s one of the worst, most consequential government failures in American history that many Americans will not recover from.”

  68. says

    TPM – “Fauci Predicts Americans Will Need To Remain At Home For ‘At Least’ Several Weeks”:

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said on Friday morning that Americans shouldn’t expect their self-quarantines amid the COVID-19 outbreak to end anytime soon.

    “If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks,” Fauci told NBC “Today Show” host Savannah Guthrie.

    “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s a chance of that. I think it’s going to be several weeks.”…

  69. blf says

    Similar to @96, I also haven’t actually watched this video due to the risk of me engaging in extreme SHOUTING at the eejits, in the UK Nurse in tears after coronavirus panic buying leaves shelves empty of food (video): “Dawn Bilbrough, a critical care nurse, appeals to people to stop panic buying after she was unable to find basic food items in her supermarket following a 48-hour shift. She urges people to remember that NHS staff like her are the ones looking after patients and need food to stay healthy”.

  70. says

    Maggie Haberman: “Now Trump says ‘I have’ when asked if he’s directed companies to make medical supplies.

    The president has given at least three conflicting answers to this question about the DPA and how it’s been invoked or whether it has been.”

    Which companies? To make what? In what quantities? To go where? By when? Where are the contracts?

  71. blf says

    Follow-up to @103, I just noticed France24 is running a continuous(?) chyron / graphic alternating between a cartoon of homes and staying “STAY HOME” (emboldening in original).

  72. says

    Sen. Schatz: “Alex Azar is lying about tests. He’s acting as though people on the front lines are too stupid to figure it out. It is maddening and I can only imagine the justified rage nurses, docs and healthcare professionals feel at being scapegoated for Trump testing failure.”

  73. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Fortune – Trump outbid governors on coronavirus supplies after telling them to buy their own

    Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told Trump during a video conference on Thursday that his state three times lost out to the federal government on purchases of critical supplies
    “I’ve got a feeling that if someone has the chance to sell to you and to sell to me, I am going to lose on every one of those,” a sheepish-sounding Baker told Trump, who chuckled at the remark.
    When New Mexico’s governor raised similar concerns later in the call, Trump said he would ask FEMA to ensure there were no conflicts with purchases in the future.

  74. blf says

    Follow-up to @48, It’s the 8pm applause for heath-care workers, and tonight the LOUD air horns from the yachts in the harbour are chiming in.

  75. blf says

    I’d noticed earlier that apparently some outdoor markets in Italy, and as I recall, Spain, are still open — albeit only stalls selling food & other essentials, typically with social distancing measures in place. That made me wonder about this village’s weekly markets (there are several, on different days). Checking the village’s local site, all have been closed, which is a good thing, as all of them (with one possible exception) are held in fairly confined spaces with not much room for social distancing.

  76. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@104, Trump throws tantrum over question about coronavirus fears: You’re a terrible reporter:

    Donald Trump has thrown an extraordinary temper tantrum on live television, lambasting a reporter who challenged him for raising hopes about a coronavirus treatment.

    Peter Alexander, White House correspondent at NBC News, asked the US president [sic]: “What do you say to Americans, who are watching you right now, who are scared?”

    Erupting in anger, Trump unleashed a tirade: I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.


    He added: You’re doing sensationalism … That’s really bad reporting. You ought to get back to reporting.

    Trump claimed, I’ve been right a lot,” and barked at Alexander: You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    Other correspondents asked Trump why he was assailing a reporter during a national crisis.

    Trump replied: […] I think Peter is not a good journalist when comes to fairness. This is the time to come together. But coming together is much harder when we have dishonest journalists.

    Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, was asked what message such criticism sends to the rest of the world. He merely echoed his boss’s dissatisfaction with the media. He also joined Trump in using the phrase Chinese virus.


  77. blf says

    Kentucky Republicans quietly tighten voter restrictions as US focuses on Covid-19:

    Lawmakers approved new photo ID requirement that would make it harder to vote days after the governor closed the state capitol

    As states around the country enacted emergency measures to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus, Kentucky lawmakers quietly tightened and approved a new photo identification requirement that would make it harder to vote.

    Lawmakers eliminated a “catch-all” provision that allowed voters to give their own reason for being unable to obtain acceptable identification if they signed an affidavit swearing they were unable to obtain acceptable identification, according to Joshua Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, who said he had reviewed the changes. Now voters have to provide one of the specific and approved reasons for lacking ID to vote. The legislators also tweaked the law so that IDs from other states were not acceptable.


    Kentucky already has a voter identification requirement, but Republicans pushed the new measure after the state narrowly elected Democrat Beshear and want it in effect this fall when Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, faces re-election. The law will probably go into effect this summer.

    “Many Kentuckians will not even have the option to obtain a new ID because county clerk’s offices throughout the commonwealth have closed following the recommendation of public health officials,” Corey Shapiro, the legal director of the Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “It is unconscionable for politicians to move this legislation at a time when Kentuckians are not allowed in the capitol and are losing their jobs, their small businesses, access to childcare and more.”

    The push for additional voting restrictions contradicts a national push to ease voting regulations so that people can vote by mail without having to gather at polling places this year. Kentucky currently requires voters to give an excuse if they want to vote absentee and does not have early voting.

  78. says

    G liveblog:

    At least 11 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil, up from seven on Thursday, the country’s health ministry has said.

    Infections now number 904, the ministry said, compared with 621 the previous day. Brazil is currently Latin America’s hardest hit country by the outbreak.

  79. says

    blf @127, I have friends in NYC who say that the outdoor farmers market is open, and that lines drawn on the pavement enforce social distancing. That’s probably a good place to shop.

    Shopping in my community today, I was able to get most of things I needed. The shelves for paper products were still empty, but the store had baked its own bread, so that was good.

    I like the idea of an outdoor market.

  80. blf says

    Lynna@133, “I like the idea of an outdoor market.” Indeed, so do I, and they are where I do most of my food shopping. As it so happens, two of them are just a few minutes walk from where I live, and the rest aren’t all that far away.

    This image, Marché du dimanche matin à la place de la Bastille à Paris, France, is of a market in Paris (not my village), but is very similar to the local markets and shows the confined conditions that would seem to make social distancing difficult.

  81. blf says

    Eejits in Brazil, Brazilian church wins court battle to remain open despite coronavirus:

    Pastor said church would remain open as Bolsonaro dismissed virus as media fantasy, while Brazil has 654 confirmed cases

    A major evangelical church in Brazil has won a court battle to remain open despite warnings that large gatherings will help spread the coronavirus.

    The ruling came days after a prominent bishop from another evangelical church told followers not to worry about the pandemic because the devil was trying to create fear.


    Even before Thursday’s court ruling, Pastor Silas Malafia, head of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ church — and a vociferous ally of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro — said his church would stay open.

    If everything closes, there will be a little door open in my church and I will be there, Malafia said in a video on Thursday.


    Brazil’s biggest evangelical church, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is also still holding services […].

    Its leader, Bishop Edir Macedo, told followers not to worry about coronavirus in a WhatsApp video. There is an economic interest behind this whole coronavirus campaign, he said, claiming a campaign of fear had been created by the devil.

    Satan works with fear, Macedo said.

  82. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog (quoted in full):

    When billionaire Mike Bloomberg launched his ill-fated presidential campaign in late 2019, he promised staffers that they would be employed through November, whether or not he won the Democratic nomination.

    But since dropping out after failing to win a single state on Super Tuesday (he did win American Samoa, a US territory), the former New York City mayor has reneged on that promise.

    Today, the Bloomberg campaign announced that it is donating $18m to the Democratic National Committee — and laying off staff in six swing states, BuzzFeed News reports.

    The newly unemployed staffers will lose their healthcare at the end of April. “He’s chopping his employees in a pandemic,” one staffer told BuzzFeed.

    The $18m donation to the DNC is large, and could enable the committee to hire the laid-off organizers, but there are no guarantees of employment.

  83. says

    Considering everything that’s going on, this is almost good news: Mar-a-Lago is closed.

    In recent days, the Trump Organization cut staff from hotels in New York and Washington, halted new reservations at a hotel overlooking the Las Vegas Strip and closed golf courses in Los Angeles and the Miami area, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It also closed the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, which normally would be at a peak right now, with regular seasonal visits by Mr. Trump himself.

    NY Time link

  84. says

    With McConnell’s coronavirus bill, the devil is in the details

    Mitch McConnell has unveiled his coronavirus economic package, and it clearly needs some work.

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his initial pitch, […] it includes roughly a half-trillion dollars in emergency aid for distressed industries and small businesses. But it’s the direct cash payments to the public that raised eyebrows.

    The proposal, expected to cost around $1 trillion, calls for direct payments on a tiered scale. Individuals making $75,000 based on a 2018 tax return would be eligible for $1,200 payments, or $2,400 for couples filing jointly. The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples. [Typical Republican move: pay more to those who already have more!] The payments would also increase $500 for each child a person or couple has. However, taxpayers with little or no income tax liability but at least $2,500 of qualifying income would be eligible for only $600 or $1,200 for couples.

    As a matter of propriety, it’s difficult to defend the idea of making direct payments, but imposing limits that tilt the scales in ways that disadvantage those who have the least. And as a matter of economic policy, it’s just as bad: as was obvious during the last economic crisis, those with the lowest incomes are the most likely to spend any benefits that come their way, which necessarily helps boost economic activity at a critical time.

    Yes, it’s obviously callous to shortchange those with the least, but in a proposal intended to boost the economy, it’s also needlessly counter-productive.

    What’s more, this element of McConnell’s plan is a one-time payment. Congressional Democrats have pushed for multiple rounds of payments, which is in line with the position the White House espoused this week.

    […] if this is where McConnell wants the talks to start, it’s going to take precious time to work toward a final solution.

    Postscript: Congress’ top two Democrats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — issued a joint statement late yesterday sketching out their expectations:

    […] “To earn Democratic support in the Congress, any economic stimulus proposal must include new, strong and strict provisions that prioritize and protect workers, such as banning the recipient companies from buying back stock, rewarding executives, and laying off workers. […]


  85. says

    Cartoon: Mitch McConnell’s antisocial distancing



    I’m keeping busy by tinkering with relief bills; adding plenty of cracks for averageAmericans to fall though. It’s important to stay in touch, so I’m sending my biggest donors generous corporate bailouts.

  86. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    WaPo – The Peace Corps isn’t just bringing home 7,300 volunteers because of the coronavirus. It’s firing them.

    “We are acting now to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries.”
    volunteers received dismissal notifications separate from the open letter
    [A 51-year-old, currently homeless, volunteer said] “What is really happening is [Director Olsen] has ended the service of ALL volunteers […] no volunteer activity in any of the 61 countries until the Corona Virus is over, until countries open borders, until countries issue visas and until Peace Corps begins accepting applications to join.”
    Peace Corps volunteers, suddenly jobless, are returning to a country with an economy in free fall. […] They are not eligible for unemployment benefits, because their positions “[…] are not considered in employment,” […] The agency does provide two months of health insurance.
    Olsen ordered the volunteers to self-quarantine when they arrive […] But the agency “refused to spend money on assisting […] with hotel rooms, disinfectants, transportation, and all the necessary supplies for quarantine,” she complained. The agency said volunteers in need “can apply for reimbursement for alternative lodging.”
    Olsen’s letter gave the impression that the volunteers would return to their posts. […] “We are not closing posts, and we will be ready to return to normal operations when conditions permit. […] host country staff will remain […]”

    The volunteers, however, are done, not temporarily suspended.

  87. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    NPR – 9 States Reopen ACA Insurance Enrollment To Broaden Health Coverage

    Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington—have more flexibility than most states to create a special enrollment period because they run their own health exchanges.

    Another such state, California, announced […] its exchange, which had been open for reasons unrelated to the outbreak, will continue to allow residents to enroll through June because of the upheaval […] The District of Columbia is also allowing residents to sign up for coverage for reasons unrelated to the outbreak.
    In most of the nine states updating their policies, people enrolling now will get health insurance coverage that starts April 1.

    The federal government, which runs the marketplaces for 32 states on, has not made a similar offer. [… …] All consumers are allowed to sign up for insurance anytime if they meet certain qualifying conditions, such as losing health coverage, getting married or having a baby.

  88. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Sky Captain,
    When I was in the Peace Corps, I trained with volunteers who eventually went to Liberia. Then came Charles Taylor, and all the Peace Corps volunteers had to leave the country and either accept another assignment or head home. This was during Bush I, and even he wasn’t as heartless as this.
    Peace Corps is one of the few programs the US runs anymore that has nearly universal approval among those it serves. Anywhere in the world you go, if the Peace Corps has served there, mention that you were in the Peace Corps, and it’s likely you’ll get a smile and a fond memory. As a volunteer, I got a lot more out of my service than I was able to give–not for any lack of effort on my part. It’s just that when a single person collides with a continent, the person is going to have the bigger change in direction. It even influences how I do my job as a physicist.

  89. says

    WaPo – “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic”:

    U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting.

    The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.

    Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

    Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.

    “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” this official said. “The system was blinking red.”

    Public health experts have criticized China for being slow to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, and have said precious time was lost in the effort to slow the spread. At a White House briefing Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said officials had been alerted to the initial reports of the virus by discussions that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had with Chinese colleagues on Jan. 3.

    The warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies increased in volume toward the end of January and into early February, said officials familiar with the reports. By then, a majority of the intelligence reporting included in daily briefing papers and digests from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA was about covid-19, said officials who have read the reports.

    A key task for analysts during disease outbreaks is to determine whether foreign officials are trying to minimize the effects of an outbreak or take steps to hide a public health crisis, according to current and former officials familiar with the process.

    At the State Department, personnel had been nervously tracking early reports about the virus. One official noted that it was discussed at a meeting in the third week of January, around the time that cable traffic showed that U.S. diplomats in Wuhan were being brought home on chartered planes — a sign that the public health risk was significant. A colleague at the White House mentioned how concerned he was about the transmissibility of the virus.

    “In January, there was obviously a lot of chatter,” the official said.

    Inside the White House, Trump’s advisers struggled to get him to take the virus seriously, according to multiple officials with knowledge of meetings among those advisers and with the president.

    Azar couldn’t get through to Trump to speak with him about the virus until Jan. 18, according to two senior administration officials. When he reached Trump by phone, the president interjected to ask about vaping and when flavored vaping products would be back on the market, the senior administration officials said.

    On Jan. 27, White House aides huddled with then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in his office, trying to get senior officials to pay more attention to the virus, according to people briefed on the meeting. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, argued that the administration needed to take the virus seriously or it could cost the president his reelection, and that dealing with the virus was likely to dominate life in the United States for many months.

    Mulvaney then began convening more regular meetings. In early briefings, however, officials said Trump was dismissive because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.

    By early February, Grogan and others worried that there weren’t enough tests to determine the rate of infection, according to people who spoke directly to Grogan. Other officials, including Matthew Pottinger, the president’s deputy national security adviser, began calling for a more forceful response, according to people briefed on White House meetings.

    But Trump resisted and continued to assure Americans that the coronavirus would never run rampant as it had in other countries.

    But earlier that month, a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services delivered a starkly different message to the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a classified briefing that four U.S. officials said covered the coronavirus and its global health implications.

    Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response — who was joined by intelligence officials, including from the CIA — told committee members that the virus posed a “serious” threat, one of those officials said.

    Kadlec didn’t provide specific recommendations, but he said that to get ahead of the virus and blunt its effects, Americans would need to take actions that could disrupt their daily lives, the official said. “It was very alarming.”

    Trump’s insistence on the contrary seemed to rest in his relationship with China’s President Xi Jingping, whom Trump believed was providing him with reliable information about how the virus was spreading in China, despite reports from intelligence agencies that Chinese officials were not being candid about the true scale of the crisis.

    Some of Trump’s advisers told him that Beijing was not providing accurate numbers of people who were infected or who had died, according to administration officials. Rather than press China to be more forthcoming, Trump publicly praised its response.

    “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus,” Trump tweeted Jan. 24. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”

    Some of Trump’s advisers encouraged him to be tougher on China over its decision not to allow teams from the CDC into the country, administration officials said.

    In one February meeting, the president said that if he struck a tougher tone against Xi, the Chinese would be less willing to give the Americans information about how they were tackling the outbreak.

    Trump on Feb. 3 banned foreigners who had been in China in the previous 14 days from entering the United States, a step he often credits for helping to protect Americans against the virus. He has also said publicly that the Chinese weren’t honest about the effects of the virus. But that travel ban wasn’t accompanied by additional significant steps to prepare for when the virus eventually infected people in the United States in great numbers.

    As the disease spread beyond China, U.S. spy agencies tracked outbreaks in Iran, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and elsewhere in Europe, the officials familiar with those reports said. The majority of the information came from public sources, including news reports and official statements, but a significant portion also came from classified intelligence sources. As new cases popped up, the volume of reporting spiked.

    As the first cases of infection were confirmed in the United States, Trump continued to insist that the risk to Americans was small.

    On Feb. 25, Nancy Messonnier, a senior CDC official, sounded perhaps the most significant public alarm to that point, when she told reporters that the coronavirus was likely to spread within communities in the United States and that disruptions to daily life could be “severe.” Trump called Azar on his way back from a trip to India and complained that Messonnier was scaring the stock markets, according to two senior administration officials.

    Trump eventually changed his tone after being shown statistical models about the spread of the virus from other countries and hearing directly from Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, as well as from chief executives last week rattled by a plunge in the stock market, said people ­familiar with Trump’s conversations.

    But by then, the signs pointing to a major outbreak in the United States were everywhere.

  90. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian coronavirus liveblog.

    From there:

    Hungary’s government is seeking to indefinitely extend a coronavirus-related state of emergency that would allow rule by decree, as well as introduce prison sentences of up to five years for those who spread false information about the pandemic.

    Hungary’s anti-migration prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has long been accused of democratic backsliding and critics are likely to portray the move as trying to take advantage of a crisis. The government said the measures were necessary in case a large number of MPs became ill and parliament was unable to function. “The government is required to adopt responsible decisions and to introduce, if necessary, unusual and unfamiliar restrictions. Observing these measures, remaining united and maintaining discipline are our most important tasks,” said a government statement.

    The bill is due to be put before parliament on Monday. Although Orbán’s Fidesz party has the 2/3 majority required to pass it, bringing it to a vote out of schedule requires a 4/5 majority, Hungarian news outlets reported, meaning the country’s liberal opposition may be able to block it.

    So far, central and eastern European countries have moved quickly to implement stricter lockdowns and travel restrictions at an earlier stage than western European nations, with most of the region still reporting relatively low levels of coronavirus infections. Hungary is so far reporting 103 cases and four deaths. However, there is concern that the low numbers could be due to underreporting and low testing levels, with the real figures much higher.

  91. says

    Matthew Gertz:

    WEDNESDAY: Lou Dobbs viewer poll asks if Trump’s response to coronavirus has been “superb,” “great” or merely “very good”

    FRIDAY: Lou Dobbs is self-quarantining after one of his team members tested positive for it.

    If you are a millionaire cable news host, you can comfortably bullshit about virtually anything and remain safe in the knowledge that what happens won’t affect you or anyone you care about.

    Pandemics aren’t like that.

  92. says

    Information re industrial planning related to the pandemic:

    ProPublica – “The White House Asked Manufacturers for Help, Then Gave Them No Clear Instructions”: “Vice President Mike Pence wants the private sector to donate critical medical supplies to help during the coronavirus pandemic. But the White House’s chaotic requests have not included consistent information on how exactly businesses can do that.”

    Thread by the author of Planning the Home Front: “TL;DR version of PTHF, tailored to relevance to COVID-19 crisis: The secret to American WWII mobilization was contracting, while maintaining democracy….”

  93. says

    G liveblog:

    Brazil’s far-right president is facing fierce criticism for what is widely seen as his chaotic and cavalier response to the coronavirus crisis.

    But governors of some of Brazil’s most important states are taking drastic action amid warnings that the country’s health service could collapse because of coronavirus in the coming weeks.

    The governor of São Paulo state, João Doria, has just announced that it will begin a 15-day quarantine from this Tuesday.

    “This will mean the order to close all non-essential commerce and services,” João Doria told reporters according to the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.

    São Paulo is Brazil’s most economically important and populous state – home to more than 44 million of the country’s 209 million citizens. Its capital is the megacity of São Paulo which someone in the region of 20 million residents.

  94. says

    Sen. Murphy, February 5:

    Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom line: they aren’t taking this seriously enough.

    Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now.

  95. says

    G liveblog:

    The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy rose by 793 to 4,825 on Saturday, officials said.

    It is the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.

    On Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country to register most deaths from the highly contagious virus.

    The total number of cases in Italy rose to 53,578 from a previous 47,021, an increase of 13.9%, the Civil Protection Agency said.

    The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remains in a critical situation, with 3,095 deaths and 25,515 cases.

    Of those originally infected nationwide, 6,072 had fully recovered on Saturday compared to 5,129 the day before.

    There were 2,857 people in intensive care against a previous 2,655.

  96. blf says

    Follow-up to @176(previous page), About fake Covid-19 testing kits, from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    Man charged with making fake coronavirus treatment kits

    A man ha[s] appeared in court charged with making counterfeit coronavirus treatment kits and sending them across the world, City of London Police said.

    Officers from the force’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) arrested Frank Ludlow […] in a post office near to his home address on Friday and he appeared at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with one count each of fraud by false representation, possession of articles for use in fraud and unlawfully manufacturing a medicinal product. He was remanded in custody until April 20.

    Police said his arrest followed a joint investigation with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the US Food and Drug Administration which was triggered when US customs officers intercepted a package on March 18 containing 60 fake kits labelled as Anti-Pathogenic treatment and sent from the UK.

    The above-mentioned 18th March shipment is clearly not the one mentioned in the previous thread (dated 15th March), so the individual charged is not necessarily the one behind the previous thread’s scam.

  97. says

    SC @158, I noticed that one reader of that tweet thread wrote, “Trump is holding these press briefings because he can’t hold rallies.”

    I agree. Some real information does get delivered. The newly involved FEMA officials offered facts, as did Dr. Fauci. Trump just blusters and repeats himself almost like he would at a rally. Trump takes up most of the time, which means that he wastes most of the time.

  98. blf says

    Early today, the Gaunaid published an article on what it’s like to be one of the team behind their live pandemic blog, which is frequently referred-to in this (and other) poopyhead / FtB threads, Writing a live blog: ‘You’re frantically keeping the plates spinning’, “What’s it like being in charge of a minute-by-minute update on a global pandemic that 7 million people are following?”

    It also has a few insights into the history of live blogging, which apparent the Grauniad was one of the first media to try. An older article on the Grauniad’s live blogging, Development of the live blog at the Guardian (August 2017), “The live blog is one of the Guardian’s signature digital formats. We look at its history and influence on the tools we build”. And please support the Grauniad if you are able to.

  99. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 157:

    “Vice President Mike Pence wants the private sector to donate critical medical supplies to help during the coronavirus pandemic. But the White House’s chaotic requests have not included consistent information on how exactly businesses can do that.”

    Yep. That’s par for the course for the Trump administration. Talk big, offer promises … and then fail utterly when it comes to execution, when it comes to details.

    I am hoping that professionals from FEMA who are now in charge will address the deficits in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.

    Today, Mike Pence suggested that private businesses check their supply closets for N95 masks, and if they find any, put them in the car and drive them to the nearest hospital.

    Meanwhile, the FEMA professionals outlined the contact hierarchy for requesting and distributing supplies.

  100. says

    G liveblog:

    New York’s airspace has been partially closed after a trainee at an air traffic control tower tested positive for coronavirus.

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a ground stop for New York airports as it adjusts its staffing to reopen the airspace.

    blf @ #165, all of their liveblogging is fantastic, but their liveblogging about this has been phenomenal. They’re an essential service to me at least.

  101. says

    In reference to SC’s comment 154.

    This is an opinion piece in the Washington Post, with the following former intelligence chiefs signing: Joseph Maguire, John Brennan (interim), Michael Leiter, Matthew G. Olsen, Nicholas Rasmussen, Andrew Liepman (acting and deputy) and Geoffrey O’Connell (principal deputy) are former directors of the National Counterterrorism Center. Michael V. Hayden is former director of the CIA and former principal deputy director of national intelligence. James Clapper was director of national intelligence.

    The United States — and the world — faces a historic threat to its health, well-being and economy. The global covid-19 pandemic challenges all of us […] But as we collectively fight this deadly disease, the intelligence institutions that help protect us all from current and future threats are also under attack from an insidious enemy: domestic politics. We cannot let the covid-19 pandemic be a cover for the deeply destructive path being pursued by the Trump administration.

    The most recent illustration of this unprecedented attack is the continuing dismissal of career intelligence professionals — officers who have ably served both Republican and Democratic administrations regardless of their personal political stripe. Specifically, the unceremonious removal this week of the leadership of the National Counterterrorism Center. The NCTC, though not as recognized an entity as its intelligence community counterparts such as the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency, is one of the crown-jewel creations of the United States’ post-9/11 reforms.

    Created to “connect the dots” and coordinate U.S. counterterrorism operational planning, the NCTC brings together representatives from across the federal government to maintain critical watch lists, monitor threats in real time and make sure that the disparate elements of the massive federal bureaucracy respond in a coordinated fashion. In short: Since 9/11, the NCTC has helped do for counterterrorism what the U.S. government is now trying to piece together against its new viral threat.

    Although we were heartened to see […] Trump nominate an experienced Special Operations officer to serve as the next Senate-confirmed director of the NCTC, we are deeply dismayed — and perplexed — as to why he would simultaneously gut the center’s leadership of critical institutional knowledge. The NCTC’s just-dismissed acting director, Russell Travers, began his career as an Army intelligence officer more than 40 years ago. He stood up the NCTC’s predecessor organization while the embers of Ground Zero still smoldered. He built the terrorism watch list from a set of index cards into the envy of countries around the world […]. Travers and his deputy, a career National Security Agency officer, were the epitome of what we strive for in national security: nonpartisan experts who serve the president and the American people with no regard to personal politics.

    Now both are gone, to be replaced by as-yet-unnamed acting heads who will undoubtedly know less and who will be more beholden to the intelligence community’s politicized leadership. The next acting heads might or might not be gone themselves in a matter of months if the president’s nominee is ultimately confirmed. In the meantime, who manages the critical security tasks, including watch-listing and ensuring that the government-wide counterterrorism structure remains well integrated?

    Even amid public health concerns, we cannot be distracted from how deeply destructive these removals are to our nation’s safety. To be clear: This is not just about protecting a few senior officers. These unceremonious removals send a damaging message across the intelligence community. Every current officer sees that speaking truth to power in this administration is an immediate career-killer. […]

    We do not suggest that post-9/11 reforms should be etched in stone. All healthy institutions should evolve with changing circumstances, and the NCTC as well as the rest of government must adapt as circumstances change. But the gutting of the intelligence community’s experienced professionals is not reform. It is politicization, pure and simple. It is destructive of our nation’s ideals, and it puts us all at risk.

    Congress must reinvigorate the strictest of oversight to preserve what is left of the country’s prized, apolitical intelligence community. Post-9/11 reforms happened for a critical reason: The U.S. bureaucracy wasn’t prepared for a new era of threats. Indeed, the NCTC is a model of how the government should work in close coordination and with unity of effort in response to a crisis. It provides critical lessons for today’s challenge. The administration’s continued politicization of intelligence pulls the nation further from this goal, making us more vulnerable to the next national security threat regardless from where it emanates.

    Washington Post link

    Bolding is mine.

  102. says

    Wishing the “olds” will die … and thinking it is fine to say that:

    I am hoping that those of you who use social media platforms like Twitter will take a little time to do some housekeeping. Clean-up is needed in certain aisles frequented by warped people. If you are hunkered down at home, self-isolating and have some spare time you can help stop an ugly trend.

    Wishing that us “olds” will die from COVID-19—to usher in a revolution led by youthful adherents—is a “solution” being pushed by certain elements who label themselves “left.”

    Me—I just label them sick.

    I’m 72 years old, have several pre-existing conditions and have been a fighter for civil rights and social justice for well over over 50 years.

    That some twit should wish me dead because I have decided to vote for Joe Biden, or have supported Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or any candidate other than their preferred choice, in the name of “progressivism,” is anathema to me, and should be to you as well.

    You can pitch in by reporting and blocking these posts wherever you see them.

    Some of you will say that this is just the work of troll and bot accounts. I’m sure plenty of them are. That doesn’t make them any less ugly.

    Frankly, I’ve found far too many that come from legitimate accounts.

    At a time when we should be helping, and not harming, the elderly and disabled among us, this vile and distorted perspective on how we make change in our society needs to be shut down—now.

    Some of you who are reading will ask for ‘examples.’ There are plenty. […]

    the super hilarious part will come in the general when there are no olds left alive to vote for sleepy joe […]

    Bernie Sanders supporters are calling the coronavirus the “boomer remover” and telling people they can’t take a joke. […]

    So if you are bored, shut-in, locked-down and have some spare time, donate a little of it to cleaning up this mess, and think of it as a public service.


    Candace Owens: It’s no big deal if 80-year-olds die from coronavirus since life expectancy is 76

    […] “One day, we will look back and study the impact of the coronavirus,” she wrote. “Not the virus itself of course, but the mass global mental breakdown that it inspired. Because people think it’s novel that 80 year olds are dying at a high rate from a flu.”

    In a subsequent tweet, she expanded on that thought, basically saying that if the elderly get taken out by the coronavirus, it’s just business as usual since we all die around 76-years-old anyway.

    “The average age of the hundreds of people that died in Italy— 82 years old,” she wrote. “It is now breaking, terrifying, stop your life and stock up on toilet paper news— that 82 years old, with pre-existing conditions can die from the flu.”

    “The mass hysteria is unreal,” she added. […]

    Candace Owens is also a pro-life activist.

  103. says

    Trump is one huge delaying mechanism, or even a wrench in the system when it comes to responding to the coronavirus outbreak:

    Donald Trump has been rightly excoriated for dragging his feet when it comes to addressing the domestic spread of COVID-19. So what’s he doing now? That’s right — dragging his feet some more. […]

    Bloomberg is reporting that the Trump administration has “signaled a willingness” to lift tariffs on medical supplies from China as health care workers scream at the top of their suddenly endangered lungs for more masks, ventilators, and other crucial equipment.

    The U.S. Trade Representative, in a statement late Friday, invited the public, businesses and government agencies to submit “comments on possible further modifications to remove duties from additional medical care products.” […]

    the White House is coming under increasing pressure to lift those tariffs to let medical supplies flow more freely.

    USTR said the comment period will run until June 25 and won’t replace the process to request exclusions from the tariffs. Comments submitted “are limited to comments on products subject to the tariff actions and relevant to the medical response to the coronavirus,” the USTR said.
    A comment period? I have a few comments. I’m sure you do, too. But they have fuck all to do with Chinese medical supplies.

    Let’s see, […] bogusly cited national security concerns to raise tariffs in the past, and now that we have a real emergency he’s going to sit on his […] hands for a spell?

    That makes sense.

    Of course, when asked earlier in the week whether he’d consider tariff relief as this crisis continues to unfold, Trump trotted out one of his all-time favorite lies: “There’s no reason to do that. China is paying us billions and billions of dollars in tariffs. I can’t imagine Americans asking for that.”

    China is not paying us billions of dollars in tariffs. How many times do we have to explain this to you, you illiterate […]

    Remember when he said he would have run into the middle of a gunfight to save high school students even if he were unarmed? He didn’t mention he’d have to delay action until after a three-month comment period. […]Link

  104. says

    A Report From the Coronavirus Frontline

    As of Friday, Louisiana was reporting 479 confirmed cases of COVID-19, one of the highest numbers in the country. Ten people had died. The majority of cases are in New Orleans, which now has one confirmed case for every 1,000 residents. New Orleans had held Mardi Gras celebrations just two weeks before its first patient, with more than a million revelers on its streets.

    I spoke to a respiratory therapist there, whose job is to ensure that patients are breathing well. He works in a medium-sized city hospital’s intensive care unit. (We are withholding his name and employer, as he fears retaliation.) Before the virus came to New Orleans, his days were pretty relaxed, nebulizing patients with asthma, adjusting oxygen tubes that run through the nose or, in the most severe cases, setting up and managing ventilators. His patients were usually older, with chronic health conditions and bad lungs.

    Since last week, he’s been running ventilators for the sickest COVID-19 patients. Many are relatively young, in their 40s and 50s, and have minimal, if any, preexisting conditions in their charts. He is overwhelmed, stunned by the manifestation of the infection, both its speed and intensity. The ICU where he works has essentially become a coronavirus unit. He estimates that his hospital has admitted dozens of confirmed or presumptive coronavirus patients. About a third have ended up on ventilators.

    His hospital had not prepared for this volume before the virus first appeared. One physician had tried to raise alarms, asking about negative pressure rooms and ventilators. Most staff concluded that he was overreacting. “They thought the media was overhyping it,” the respiratory therapist told me. “In retrospect, he was right to be concerned.”

    […] His account has been condensed and edited for clarity.

    “Reading about it in the news, I knew it was going to be bad, but we deal with the flu every year so I was thinking: Well, it’s probably not that much worse than the flu. But seeing patients with COVID-19 completely changed my perspective, and it’s a lot more frightening.”

    “I have patients in their early 40s and, yeah, I was kind of shocked. I’m seeing people who look relatively healthy with a minimal health history, and they are completely wiped out, like they’ve been hit by a truck. This is knocking out what should be perfectly fit, healthy people. Patients will be on minimal support, on a little bit of oxygen, and then all of a sudden, they go into complete respiratory arrest, shut down and can’t breathe at all.”

    “[…] They suddenly become unresponsive or go into respiratory failure.”

    “It’s called acute respiratory distress syndrome, ARDS. That means the lungs are filled with fluid. And it’s notable for the way the X-ray looks: The entire lung is basically whited out from fluid. Patients with ARDS are extremely difficult to oxygenate. It has a really high mortality rate, about 40%. The way to manage it is to put a patient on a ventilator. The additional pressure helps the oxygen go into the bloodstream. […]

    “Normally, ARDS is something that happens over time as the lungs get more and more inflamed. But with this virus, it seems like it happens overnight. When you’re healthy, your lung is made up of little balloons. Like a tree is made out of a bunch of little leaves, the lung is made of little air sacs that are called the alveoli. When you breathe in, all of those little air sacs inflate, and they have capillaries in the walls, little blood vessels. The oxygen gets from the air in the lung into the blood so it can be carried around the body.

    […] Viruses can injure cells in the walls of the alveoli, so the fluid leaks into the alveoli. […]

    “With our coronavirus patients, once they’re on ventilators, most need about the highest settings that we can do. About 90% oxygen, and 16 of PEEP, positive end-expiratory pressure, which keeps the lung inflated. This is nearly as high as I’ve ever seen. The level we’re at means we are running out of options.

    “In my experience, this severity of ARDS is usually more typical of someone who has a near drowning experience—they have a bunch of dirty water in their lungs—or people who inhale caustic gas. […] I’ve never seen a microorganism or an infectious process cause such acute damage to the lungs so rapidly. That was what really shocked me.”

    “It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is not the flu.’ Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them. They really hyperventilate, really struggle to breathe. When you’re in that mindstate of struggling to breathe and delirious with fever, you don’t know when someone is trying to help you, so you’ll try to rip the breathing tube out because you feel it is choking you, but you are drowning.

    “Holy shit, this is not the flu.”

    “[…] we’re constantly having to suction out the secretions every time we go into their rooms.”

    “Before this, we were all joking. It’s grim humor. If you are exposed to the virus and test positive and go on quarantine, you get paid. We were all joking: I want to get the coronavirus because then I get a paid vacation from work. And once I saw these patients with it, I was like, ‘Holy shit, I do not want to catch this and I don’t want anyone I know to catch this.’

    “[…] Every day, the intensity kept ratcheting up. More patients, and the patients themselves are starting to get sicker and sicker. When it first started, we all had tons of equipment, tons of supplies, and as we started getting more patients, we started to run out. They had to ration supplies. At first we were trying to use one mask per patient. Then it was just: You get one mask for positive patients, another mask for everyone else. And now it’s just: You get one mask. […]

    “But we are trying to wean down the settings on the ventilator as much as possible, because you don’t want someone to be on the ventilator longer than they need to be. Your risk of mortality increases every day that you spend on a ventilator. The high pressures from high vent settings is pushing air into the lung and can overinflate those little balloons. They can pop. […]

    “There is a very real possibility that we might run out of ICU beds and at that point I don’t know what happens if patients get sick and need to be intubated and put on a ventilator. Is that person going to die because we don’t have the equipment to keep them alive? What if it goes on for months and dozens of people die because we don’t have the ventilators?

    “Hopefully we don’t get there, but if you only have one ventilator, and you have two patients, you’re going to have to go with the one who has a higher likelihood of surviving. And I’m afraid we’ll get to that point. I’ve heard that’s happening in Italy.”

  105. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s He’s a liar and a fraud here at FtB.)

    I grew up watching disaster movies. Here’s what I’ve learned (minor edits for formatting reasons (not marked)):

    […] Disaster films teach us that, even while the world becomes scary and unmanageable, there are only half a dozen types of people, and there is something deeply reassuring about that predictability, now more than ever. So ask yourself: which disaster movie cliche do you want to be?

    (1) The noble scientist nobody listens to (until it is almost too late): […]
    (3) The idiot who dies an idiotic death: […]
    (6) The noble president: No matter how bad or chaotic the disaster, as long as we have someone calm and steady in the White House, we will be fine: think of Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, Bill Pullman in Independence Day, Harrison Ford in Air Force One (not quite a disaster film, but it will do). So, good president = good outcome. We’re all doomed.

  106. says

    Uh, oh. This bothers me. Alarm bells.

    The Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General William Barr, has asked Congress for a slew of new emergency powers.

    DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic

    One of the requests to Congress would allow the department to petition a judge to indefinitely detain someone during an emergency.

    […] requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions. […]

    The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.

    The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.

    In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.”

    […] It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ document wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies, but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies “in a consistent manner.”

    The request raised eyebrows because of its potential implications for habeas corpus –– the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release.

    “Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest,’” said Norman L. Reimer, the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

    Reimer said the possibility of chief judges suspending all court rules during an emergency without a clear end in sight was deeply disturbing.

    “That is something that should not happen in a democracy,” he said.

    The department also asked Congress to pause the statute of limitations for criminal investigations and civil proceedings during national emergencies, “and for one year following the end of the national emergency,” according to the draft legislative text.

    Trump recently declared the coronavirus crisis a national emergency. […]

  107. says

    Lynna @ #171, that is horrifying. I read an article about the people in Iran who were victims of Saddam Hussein’s chemical attacks being especially vulnerable, and I keep thinking about the people who worked at Ground Zero. I think about all of the people who aren’t taking this seriously and all of the people going through airports and the people working at airports, and I just hope to hell that the situation a week from now isn’t as bad as it could be.

  108. says

    Politico – “Will spring breakers become super-spreaders?”:

    As Florida officials move to expel the hundreds of thousands of spring breakers who ignored calls for social distancing, public-health specialists are nervously wondering what will happen once the party’s over.

    For much of this week, revelers continued to cram four and five to a hotel room, swarm beaches over hundreds of miles of coastline, and then gather shoulder-to-shoulder in bars and clubs – almost a model process for spreading contagious diseases.

    Now, with their campuses likely shuttered, most spring breakers will return to hometowns across the country where any exposure to coronavirus could set off a contagion, public-health experts warned. They called for greater vigilance in those communities and sharply criticized Florida authorities for their slowness in closing beaches and nightspots.

    “What is happening in Florida with spring break partying-on by students oblivious to the epidemiological implications of their actions is nothing short of tragic,” wrote Gregg Gonsalves, a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, in an email. “While many of us have been hunkering down to try to break the chains of infection in our communities, these young people have decided the pleasures of the moment are worth bringing back the coronavirus to their friends and family.”

    Justin Lessler, a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the crush of swimsuit-clad students consuming large amounts of alcohol could create so-called “super-spreading events” that worsen the pandemic.

    There is some precedent for resort communities being slow to wake up to epidemics. The Austrian village of Ischgl, an Alpine ski destination and party hotspot, was slow to close down its establishments even as other nations issued travel warnings of potential coronavirus exposure. Thousands of revelers returning from vacations in Ischgl spread infections across much of Scandinavia. On Tuesday, Norway said 40 percent of its then-1,400 infections were traced to Ischgl.

    The outbreak has prompted accusations that authorities there acted too slowly out of a fear of harming the local tourist economy.

    Unlike other states, Florida did not initially impose strict controls on crowds and left it up to local officials to take action.

    So far, there’s no sign of a spring break surge in Florida’s safety net hospitals, which would potentially be more likely to take in a struggling spring breaker. But it’s also too early. Infected Florida spring breakers are still incubating the illness, spreading the disease. And, state officials don’t know if there will be a surge in other parts of the country because they’re not tracking anyone who has left Florida without symptoms.

    “There’s the strong possibility that we could start to see cases popping up after the incubation period. And if it’s not the spring breakers, their parents and grandparents are at high risk as well,” said Nitesh Paryani, an oncologist in Lakeland, who said his cancer specialty doesn’t mean anything amid the public health crisis….

    And I’ll point out once again that they’re all going through the airports and interacting with the people working at the airports and everyone else traveling.

  109. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC… @ # 178, quoting Politico: … Florida did not initially impose strict controls on crowds and left it up to local officials to take action.

    Gov DeSantis (a loyal Trumpanzee) emitted a verbose and incoherent statement excusing himself that merits a place of honor in the Museum of Mush-mouthed Mendacity.

  110. blf says

    SC@179, I’m very suspicious of that claim: (1) There is no image, link, or other details of the alleged memo (nor any clew or claim about its date); (2) Searching fails to find any confirmation or other details; and (3) Searching does find local-station fox reports reporting otherwise (how correctly is unknown, but at the least, not as false as the alleged memo would at the current time), albeit I’ve no idea what fox nationally is spewing (at the current time).

  111. says

    blf @ #s 181 and 182, yes, as I read it, the memo was about four confirmed cases amongst the Fox staff (we already knew of one – the person working on Lou Dobbs’ show – so it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that there are others). The person who tweeted it is Ben Smith, who was the EiC of BuzzFeed and is now media columnist for the NYT.

  112. says

    G liveblog:

    The death toll in Spain has climbed to 1,720 – with 394 lives claimed in the past day – as the country’s prime minister warned that the “worst is yet to come” and announced plans to extend the country’s near-total lockdown until the 12 of April.

    Across Spain, the number of confirmed cases sits at 28,572, according to the latest data from the health ministry.

    In the span of a few weeks, Spain has emerged as one of the hardest-hit countries in the global pandemic. After the first full week of near-total lockdown, the country’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, reportedly told regional leaders he would aim to get parliamentary approval to extend the emergency measures for another 15 days.

    The extension comes after Sánchez warned that the toughest days of the crisis still lie ahead.

    “Unfortunately, the worst is to come,” Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday. “We have yet to feel the impact of the hardest, most damaging wave, one that will test the limits of our moral and material capacity, as well as our spirit as a society.”

    A cacophony of sound preceded his address to the nation, as some banged pots and pans to show their dissatisfaction with how his government has managed the crisis.

    Healthcare workers on the frontlines have described a healthcare system pushed to the brink, with intensive care patients outstripping capacity in some hospitals and workers forced to use garbage bags as hospital gowns amid a shortage of protective gear. “We’re at war,” one doctor at Madrid’s La Paz Hospital told the Guardian.

    The government said it had distributed more than million masks and was working on a plan to domestically produce protective gear. As the call for expanded testing grows, Sánchez said the government had acquired more than 640,000 tests and had already begun handing them out.

    On Sunday, paramedics in Madrid began transferring patients to a field hospital set up in Madrid’s main exhibition hall, in a bid to relieve pressure on the city’s most overwhelmed hospitals. The makeshift hospital, mounted in the past days by the military, can be expanded to hold as many as 5,500 patients.

  113. says

    More re my #178 and Pierce R. Butler’s #180 – Miami Herald editorial – “Coronavirus is killing us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like you give a damn.”:

    With Florida’s economy crashing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis is working overtime to preserve our status as the world’s leading exporter of political comedy.

    Friday, DeSantis mounted the bully pulpit to present House Speaker Jose Oliva, with a baseball bat inscribed with the words “Slayer of the healthcare industrial complex.”

    It was a sophomoric bit of messaging on any day. It was inexcusably tone-deaf when the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida topped 500. At least 10 people had died since the crisis began.

    There is no operator’s manual for handling the most singular health threat in this country in more than a century. But if there were, we would urge Gov. Gavin Newsom, of California, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of New York, or Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut to share it with Florida’s governor — quickly….

    Unfortunately, DeSantis, who despite trying to appear large and in charge in front the microphone and TV cameras delivering coronavirus updates, has been a timid leader in the face of the growing scourge — and growing number of deaths — from the disease in his state. By Saturday, the number of confirmed cases had exceeded 700. At least two more people had died bring the state total to at least 12. The governor announced that he was thinking about isolation shelters for people with confirmed COVID-19 or symptoms. Again, no details, no idea when it could happen.

    Like we said, timid.

    On the same day of the baseball-bat nonsense, 14 Republican and Democratic members of Florida’s congressional delegation joined to plead with President Trump on behalf of the medical professionals who stand between us and the virus that has already claimed the lives of 197 Americans and another 10,000 worldwide.

    The names — Matt Gaetz, Ted Deutch, Al Lawson, Michael Waltz, Gus Bilirakis, Bill Posey, Mario Diaz-Balart, Val Demings, Francis Rooney, Daniel Webster, Greg Steube, Charlie Crist, Ted Yoho, Ross Spano and John Rutherford — are worth noting. Politically speaking, they are not anywhere on the same page. They’re not even reading the same book. But they joined to implore Vice President Pence, Trump’s coronavirus czar, to provide the “vital medical supplies, equipment, and personnel required to protect healthcare professionals, treat patients and combat the spread of COVID-19” in Florida.

    The Florida congressional delegation’s bipartisan plea is a welcome development, but it may be too little, too late. After all, the president has clearly washed his hands of this national ordeal. After his administration has known since January that the deadly wave of coronavirus was going to wash ashore; after reportedly seeking to suppress the number of confirmed infections in the country by slow-walking test kits to the states; after taking “no responsibility” for the spread the disease domestically; after telling governors they’re on their own if they need medical supplies; after having no words of comfort at a Friday press conference — Not. One. Word. — for scared Americans, it’s not a stretch to say that this president does not fundamentally care whether we live or die.

    DeSantis must step up, whether he ticks off his benefactor Trump or not. He must add his voice to the bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers and insist Florida get those “vital medical supplies, equipment, and personnel required to protect healthcare professionals, treat patients and combat the spread of COVID-19.” Otherwise, he’s as derelict as the president.

    He must spearhead a plan to help the abruptly out-of-work….

    There are nearly 400,000 people employed in Florida hotels and businesses that support the hotel industry who are out of a job, according to data released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. That number will soar when those employed in just about every other industry hard hit by coronavirus closures lose their jobs, too.

    Unemployment and self-quarantine would be easier to bear if we knew that it would actually reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

    Public health professionals know how to do that, but DeSantis has elected not to put such people in charge. In the absence of coherent, evidence-based marching orders from DeSantis, local officials and industry executives have been making it up as they go along, getting farther out ahead of the curve than the governor.

    On Friday, DeSantis issued the most widespread mandatory statewide restrictions on businesses to date — closing gyms, fitness centers and limiting restaurants to delivery service.

    The virus is so contagious that universities were closed indefinitely, but the college kids were still mobbing Florida beaches for Spring Break.

    Asked to explain, the governor delivered a rambling, incoherent monologue that went on for too long.

    But DeSantis thinks he’s doing a heckuva job. He’s not.

  114. says

    Next week is not going to be easy on the COVID-19 front. If there are green shoots here and there, and I hope there are, they are likely to be overwhelmed by many places where things are getting much worse.

    But this reflects the lag between when curve-bending measures (mostly meaning social distancing) go into effect and when they start to show up in the data. There’s probably something like a 7-10 day lag between infection and when people go to hospitals.

    For jurisdictions that still aren’t doing enough social distancing, this may scare them straight (good). However, the governments who did shouldn’t feel discouraged. In a 2-3 weeks’ time, they’ll likely see the benefits from it in the flow of new patients.”

  115. says

    Garry Kasparov responding to a CNN article asking why Russia has so few coronavirus cases:

    Why is CNN running Putin’s propaganda? Russia’s numbers are “low” because they are lying. They are always lying until proven otherwise. They don’t take down misinformation, they take down the truth. I’m furious.

    Russians’ distrust of the Putin regime isn’t “a legacy of the Soviet past” and Chernobyl. Such bullshit. It’s from 20 years of Putin’s state-controlled media telling us it’s not raining while we get soaked.

    “Social distancing started relatively early” in Russia? A CNN reporter repeats this garbage? This photo is a chess event in Yekaterinburg from 5 days ago! Football stadiums were packed 7 days ago.

    [photos at the link]

    Btw, that banner from the Mar 14 Zenit game in St Petersburg, where they’d already had confirmed COVID-19 cases, says “We’re all infected with football and will die for Zenit”. Tragically it’s true. But most of their deaths won’t be listed as coronavirus.

    Authoritarian regimes must, at all costs, appear to be omnipotent. Putin is the invincible defender of the motherland & every Russian. Of course he defeats a mere virus. That’s fine for state TV, but CNN must do better.

    If you think Russia lying about this doesn’t matter to you, consider that the long list of countries from which flights to the US are banned doesn’t include Russia. Moscow-NYC just landed a few hours ago.

  116. says

    USA Today oped – “We need an immediate five-week national lockdown to defeat coronavirus in America”:

    I am an MIT-trained physicist and complexity scientist who studies pandemics. I have warned about global pandemics due to increasing travel for 15 years. I recommended community based monitoring of symptoms to stop Ebola in West Africa in 2014, and it worked. The fastest and even the only way to contain COVID-19 in the United States is a five-week national lockdown….

  117. says

    Follow-up to comments 173 and 174.

    From Michael steele:

    NO!! This is NOT a slope we want to get on. Suspending Constitutional Rights!? With this crew?! OH HELL NO!

    I can’t stress enough to my fellow citizens, no virus nor efforts to prevent its spread means the gov’t gets to trample on our rights. A.G. Barr wants to suspend Habeus Corpus & now Gov. DeSantis wants “isolation shelters”. This does not end well.

  118. says


    I’m calling on the Federal Government to nationalize the medical supply chain.

    The Federal Government should immediately use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves.

    Currently, states are competing against other states for supplies.

  119. says

    SC @189, yes. Cuomo said the same thing.

    Follow-up on that interview conducted by Tapper:

    FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor couldn’t give a clear-cut answer when asked about key supply shortages as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to overwhelm hospitals, during his Sunday morning TV appearances.

    After telling CNN that FEMA has been shipping from the national stockpile for weeks, Jake Tapper pressed Gaynor on specific numbers on how many masks the federal government has been able to acquire and whether the masks have been shipped to hospitals.

    “It is a dynamic and fluid operation,” Gaynor said. “The President appointed FEMA five days ago to manage federal operations and since I’ve been here, we’ve been shipping continuously from federal warehouses, and again, connecting, you know, those governors that need supplies to those who have it in the commercial sector.”

    When asked if he has an estimate, Gaynor responded that he can’t give a rough number, but that “it’s happening every day.”

    Tapper then pointed out how the inability of the federal government to give a number in terms of masks alarms doesn’t fill people with confidence.

    Gaynor replied that he’s “not sure it’s about an exact number,” before urging the public against getting tested for the coronavirus if they’re not exhibiting symptoms.

    “I ask every American: if you have symptoms, go get a test,” Gaynor said. “If you don’t need a test because you don’t have symptoms, don’t do it. That helps us. It helps governors, it helps your local community.” […]

    Gaynor similarly couldn’t provide a clear answer to ABC News Sunday morning, saying that masks have been distributed without providing details regarding timeline and quantity.

    After telling ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that there are “millions of things” being shipped from the national stockpile, Gaynor said he can’t give details about what every single state or what every single city is doing.

    Pressed about how many masks were in the strategic stockpile, Gaynor reiterated that “there are still supplies” in it and that “we’re prepared to go to zero in the stockpile to meet demand.”

    TPM link

  120. says

    Follow-up to comment 200.

    ICE’s Deportation Team asked for 45,000 N95 masks!

    Bill Kristol reacted:

    Hey, Mr. @VP, since you’re in charge of an all-of-government response, could you PLEASE stop diverting respirator/surgical masks from ICUs to ICE?

  121. says

    20-somethings doing the right thing:

    Liam Elkind’s big heart and his break from college was a highlight of 83-year-old Carol Sterling’s week.

    The retired arts administrator has been sheltering at home during the coronavirus outbreak, unable to shop for herself. Yearning for some fresh food, she found the 20-year-old through their synagogue, and soon he showed up at her door with a bag full of salad fixings and oranges.

    Elkind, a junior at Yale, and a friend, Simone Policano, amassed 1,300 volunteers in 72 hours to deliver groceries and medicine to older New Yorkers and other vulnerable people. They call themselves Invisible Hands, and they do something else in the process — provide human contact and comfort, at a safe distance, of course. […]

    Elkind, the son of a doctor, has watched his father and other caregivers working tirelessly in crisis.

    “I figured, OK, I can go buy some groceries. That I can do.”

    Life has changed radically for Sterling, a widow who lives alone. She’s a people person, a puppeteer who clearly misses human interaction as she busies herself at home with online classes through “something called Zoom, which I had never heard of.” […]

    For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. […]

    Elkind and his fellow volunteers take the name of their project from their vigilance in maintaining social distance from the people they serve, and their meticulous care while shopping and delivering.

    Grocery and pharmacy orders are placed on the Invisible Hands website. Shoppers must not have traveled out of the country for the virus’ 14-day incubation period, have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have come in contact with anybody who has tested positive.

    They must pledge that they have practiced social distancing and other safety measures in their own lives before signing on. They wear gloves while shopping, wipe down bags they’re delivering and use self-checkout when possible.

    Bags of goods are left at doors, and cash can be exchanged the same way, or directly to a store or through a digital transaction. Volunteers make a point to pause and chat as they deliver.

    The effort started on Facebook. Policano, also a New Yorker, put out a call for volunteers. Word spread quickly as they built a website and distributed flyers in seven languages.

    “It’s gone from extremely casual to extremely operational very quickly,” Elkind said. […]

    Now, Elkind said, volunteers have offered to extend Invisible Hands to Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and London. […]

    AP News link

  122. says

    Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves ‘has no intention’ of closing the state’s beaches ‘nor anywhere else’ due to #COVID19 currently, Mississippi Sen. Joel Carter, whose district includes the coast, tweeted. Alabama’s governor closed their beaches last week.”

    Stuckler and Basu, in The Body Economic (2013), describe the decisions by US states during the Great Depression with regard to accepting New Deal policies as forming a natural experiment in terms of health outcomes (you can guess which did better and worse). The same thing is happening now across cities, states, and countries in response to the coronavirus.

  123. says

    Remember this. It happened. Hair Furor used the White House press room to mislead the public.

    When CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond asked Trump about doctors’ accounts of supply shortages across the country, the President claimed his administration was “making much of this stuff now and much of it’s being delivered now.”

    “We’ve also gotten tremendous reviews from a lot of people that can’t believe how fast it’s coming,” Trump said.

    A few minutes later, Fauci stepped up to the podium to tell Diamond that there was indeed a supply crisis, despite Trump’s claims.

    “We don’t want that to happen,” the doctor said. “But it is happening.”

    “You’re not making things up,” he told Diamond. “I know that because I’m experiencing it myself.”

    Trump is in self-promotion mode, as usual. He is spewing bullshit.

    This morning, on AM Joy, David Corn suggested that if media outlets carry Trump’s press briefings live, they should at least attempt to factcheck in almost real time with messages that crawl along the bottom of the screen pointing out lies and inconsistencies.

    “We’ve also gotten tremendous reviews from a lot of people that can’t believe how fast it’s coming,” Trump said. File that bullshi with in the “Sir” fictional tales that Trump is always spouting.

    From a readers comments:

    Rachel Maddow’s suggestion is the best so far: The networks tape the program, NO realtime broadcast. Then they edit out all the nonfactual bits; i.e. every frame where Trump speaks and every time he’s praised. They tighten up and show what’s left.

    It would be best were this done by a pool, which ALL of the networks would tap.

  124. says

    Update on steps Merkel is taking to flatten the coronavirus infection curve in Germany:

    Germany will ramp up efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus by banning meetings of more than two people outside the same household and mandating the closure of nonessential businesses, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

    Speaking after meeting the leaders of Germany’s regions earlier on Sunday afternoon, Merkel was clear the new restrictions are not desirable but necessary. “None of us wished that we would ever have to face the people with such rules,” said Merkel.

    The new regulations, the tightest in modern Germany’s history, will last at least two weeks, and mean restaurants, hairdressers, massage parlors and other nonessential stores should close. The measures stop short of a curfew. […]


  125. says

    Update, Greece:

    The Greek government announced a total lockdown in the country starting Monday morning, as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

    As of 6 a.m., all nonessential transport and movement of people will be prohibited, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address.

    Greeks will only be allowed to go to work, to buy food or medicine, visit a doctor, walk a pet, exercise by themselves or in groups of two. They must carry an ID, and the reason for their movements has to be confirmed by their employer or by themselves.

    Mitsotakis said this step “must be taken on time, so it is not taken in vain.

    “In Italy unfortunately, one person is lost every two minutes … We must not reach the point where we choose who will live and who will be lost.”

    Greece has 624 confirmed cases, with 15 deaths from COVID-19 so far, according to Greek authorities.


  126. says

    Rand Paul is first senator to test positive for coronavirus.

    From Rand Paul’s Twitter feed:

    Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.

    Link to breaking news article on The Hill website.

  127. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 189.

    Trump took time out of his busy schedule to criticize Governor Pritzker, (and, of course, the media):

    .@JBPritzker, Governor of Illinois, and a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News @CNN & Concast (MSDNC), shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!


    […] The tweet came after Pritzker said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that states were overpaying for personal protective equipment. Pritzker told the network that rather than a competition, it “should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government.”

    Pritzker told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Illinois had only received a fraction of the supplies requested and that he had been forced into direct competition with other governors such as California’s Gavin Newsom (D) and New York’s Andrew Cuomo (D).

    Trump has repeatedly hit back at Democratic governors who have criticized the federal response to the virus, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), whom he called “the failing Michigan governor” last week.


  128. says

    Lynna @ #209, that statement is so strange. It’s like they produced it expecting him to test negative and then just decided to go with it anyway. Do they think saying he “was tested out of an abundance of caution” and “was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person” sounds good? Obviously he was in direct contact with an infected person – he’s infected!

  129. says

    Commentary related to Trump’s tweet about the Defense Production Act:

    […] “Even with the infusion of supplies from the strategic stockpile and other federal resources, there will not be enough medical supplies, including ventilators, to respond to the projected COVID-19 outbreak,” the letter reads. “We have heard of health care providers reusing masks or resorting to makeshift alternatives for masks.”

    Interviews with doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic show that there is no time for the confusion surrounding whether Trump actually plans to use the DPA.

    “We do not send troops to war with a gun to share between 20 individuals and when bullets run out, say ‘Well, you need to figure it out,’” said one nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized by her hospital to speak to the media. (Many nurses who spoke with Vox for this story had been told by their managers not to speak with the media.) “We need PPE now and for months to come, and we should not be reusing supplies. It is against everything we have ever been trained as precautionary and scientifically proven as far as containment per diagnosis.” […]


    Trump’s tweet:

    I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!

    More commentary:

    […] In cases where providers must reuse PPE such as N95s, the CDC recommends measures such as hand-washing before adjusting the masks and storing them in clean paper bags when not in use.

    The shortage of hospital masks, gowns, and eye shields poses a health risk to both providers and the patients they’re treating. Reusing masks or wearing the same eye shield when treating multiple patients further contributes to the spread of Covid-19 at a time when the country desperately needs to be slowing down the rate of new infections, or “flattening the curve.”

    While it’s unclear exactly how many health providers in the US have been infected with Covid-19 so far specifically due to the reuse of PPE, Italy’s experience is telling. Equipment shortages have also been dire there, and nearly 4,000 health care workers have been infected. […]

  130. says

    Sen Schatz: “There are a bunch of so-called institutionalists who are resisting remote voting but we could soon lack a quorum due to mandatory self quarantine. We MUST operate like plenty of American corporations and other organizations and enable voting electronically or by phone.”

  131. says

    SC @212, agreed! Also, Rand Paul was in contact with an infected person at CPAC, as were many other Republican elected officials.

    Also galling: he gets a test because he is more important than the rest of us. Meanwhile, some health care workers still can’t get tested.

  132. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #214:

    “We do not send troops to war with a gun to share between 20 individuals and when bullets run out, say ‘Well, you need to figure it out,’” said one nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized by her hospital to speak to the media.

    Or tell generals they have to bid against each other over ammunition! The whole idea is insane.

  133. says

    Update to Lynna’s #211 – JB Pritzger:

    You wasted precious months when you could’ve taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans.

    You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat.

    Where were the tests when we needed them?

    Where’s the PPE?

    Get off Twitter & do your job.

  134. says

    Hobby Lobby is staying open during the coronavirus pandemic because the owner’s wife got a special message from god.

    Wonkette link

    If there is anything Hobby Lobby is known for, it is the way they aggressively do not care about either science or the health of their employees. I guess they also sell some craft stuff there, too, but mostly they just really hate science and health care. In 2014, as we all know, they won a Supreme Court case allowing them to deny giving their employees health care that covered birth control on the grounds of “religious freedom” because they believed that several forms of birth control were abortifacients, which they were not.

    Now, they are requiring their employees to continue showing up for work in the middle of a pandemic. According to a letter posted to Reddit by someone claiming to be a Hobby Lobby employee, this is because Barbara Green, wife of billionaire owner David Green, got a special message from God while she was prayer warrior-ing. […]

    More details:

    […] The letter explains:

    In her quiet prayer time this past week, the Lord put on Barbara’s heart three profound words to remind us that He’s in control. Guide, Guard, and Groom. We serve a God who will Guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now.

    Well if those are not words of wisdom to be transcribed on needlepoint, I don’t know what would be. Although I would question why “God” would want anyone traveling to places never seen before in the middle of a pandemic.

    Look, I may not believe in God, but I do love crafty shit. I would give almost anything to have all of my supplies with me right now so that I could take my mind off the coronavirus and crochet a lovely afghan. But if I did believe in God, I would really hope that God would be more concerned with not letting people die of the coronavirus (or spread it because they work retail and don’t get sick leave) than with me being able to make a lovely afghan or finally take up macrame — or, you know, with some very rich people being able to make a profit. It’s basic triage.

    Granted, lot of stores and restaurants in areas that are not in lockdown mode are staying open. McDonald’s workers don’t get sick leave either, and that, too, is shitty. […]

    if you think God is sending you or your wife special messages about keeping your craft store open without any additional messages about giving your employees paid sick time (a thing you could easily do if you happen to have billions of dollars lying around), it might behoove you to consider that maybe you are prayer warrior-ing wrong.

    Image of the full letter here:

    The letter also warns employees to “tighten their belts.” Hobby Lobby owner David Green has a net worth of $6.4 billion. His employees do not get paid sick leave.

  135. says

    Sorry – Pritzger, cont’d:

    I want to thank the many public servants in the military, in @FEMA
    & other parts of the fed. government who are actually doing the work to keep people safe. My staff and I are grateful for your experience and your willingness to act courageously on behalf of your fellow American.

  136. says

    Ohio Orders Halt to “Nonessential” Abortions in Preview of Battle That Could Go National

    Clinics that provide abortion services in Ohio suddenly find themselves thrust in the middle of an argument with state authorities about whether the procedure should be considered essential. It’s the first view of a battle that could quickly go national amid disagreements about what constitutes essential care at a time when authorities are calling on hospitals to suspend anything that is not crucial to focus all resources on combating the new coronavirus.

    Ohio’s attorney general, Dave Yost, ordered several clinics to stop all “nonessential” surgical abortions, defined as any “that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.” The order applies to all clinics in the state.

    The operator of one of the clinics that was targeted by Yost insisted it can fully comply with the order while continuing providing abortions. “Under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion, and our health centers continue to offer other health care services that our patients depend on. Our doors remain open for this care,” said a joint statement from Iris E. Harvey and Kersha Deibel, respectively presidents and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region. […]

    Abortion-rights advocates make clear there is no such thing as a “non-essential” abortion and the order by Ohio’s attorney general only amounts to the latest in a long-running effort to restrict abortion in the state. In October 2019, a federal judge placed a temporary ban on a law that had been approved by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature that prohibited abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat was detected. […]

  137. says

    Nigeria Reports Chloroquine Poisonings as Trump Keeps Pushing Drug Against Coronavirus.

    Slate link

    There were two cases of poisoning with the anti-malaria drug chloroquine in Nigeria after President Donald Trump praised it as a possible cure for the new coronavirus. Two people were hospitalized for overdosing on the drug in Lagos, Oreoluwa Finnih, senior health assistant to the governor of Lagos, said in an interview with Bloomberg. Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control sent out a tweet Saturday making clear that the World Health Organization has not approved the anti-malaria drug for COVID-19. […]

    The overdoses on chloroquine came after Trump sang the praises of two malaria drugs—chlorquine and a less toxic related pill called hydrochloroquine—and pretty much characterized them as possible miracle cures for COVID-19. That led to people rushing out to buy the drugs and there were reports of high demand in Nigeria leading to shortages in pharmacies. Trump doubled down on the dubious medical advice Saturday, writing on Twitter about another unproven combination of drugs, claiming that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin “taken together” could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.” Trump went on to express optimism that they will be “put in use IMMEDIATELY” because “PEOPLE ARE DYING.” To make his point, Trump cited a report in a scientific journal that only studied 20 patients and was not a controlled clinical trial. […]

    Trump cheerleading of the unproven treatment has led to concerns about possible shortages among doctors and patients with diseases, including lupus, that rely on the drugs. “Rheumatologists are furious about the hype going on over this drug,” Dr. Michael Lockshin, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, tells the New York Times. “There is a run on it and we’re getting calls every few minutes, literally, from patients who are trying to stay on the drug and finding it in short supply.”

  138. says

    Dance “parties” and other forms of social-distancing interactions online:

    […] Biden is planning to begin regular coronavirus briefings on Monday, assuming his staff can figure out how to crank the camera.

    But on Saturday, the age of “daily or at least significant contact with the American people” began. DJ Derrick Jones, better known as D-Nice, hosted a “social distancing dance party” on Instagram, playing classic hip-hop and R&B for hours as musicians like John Legend and Common made guest appearances and other celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, stopped by to check out the music. One of those celebrities was Joe Biden. […]


  139. says

    Coronavirus update from the Washington Post:

    As more governments adopt lockdown measures, a top World Health Organization official said on Sunday such restrictions alone are not sufficient to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

    Here are some significant developments:

    New York state’s death toll has reached 114, surpassing Washington state and accounting for a third of all U.S. deaths.

    Spain will extend its nationwide lockdown for 15 days, while more cities and countries announced restrictions on citizens’ movements, orders to shut down most businesses, and bans on travel.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said lawmakers and the Trump administration are close to finalizing a massive financial rescue package. [I’ll believe it when I see. Nancy Pelosi disagrees.]

    Twenty-three killed in Colombian prison riots as coronavirus fears mount.

    North Korea said Trump offered to help in the fight against coronavirus, while Lebanon called in the army to keep people indoors. […]


  140. says

    When asked if he has an estimate, Gaynor responded that he can’t give a rough number, but that “it’s happening every day.”

    Sounds like something Trump would say. All bravado and no specifics.

  141. says

    Edward-Isaac Dovere:

    an asymptomatic senator was able to obtain a Corona virus test — and took it, was tested positive

    Paul delayed a vote for several days by forcing an amendment on the Corona virus response, and then voted against the final bill. That bill includes a provision making testing free.

    So he got a test that he voted against everyone else being able to get.

    Paul’s office says he is not aware of contact with anyone infected.

    This is why there’s so much focus on widespread testing–of the sort that the administration promised two weeks ago was coming. The lack of it is why the president has urged asymptomatic people not to get tests

    Paul’s father, former Congressman Ron Paul — who is his own political presence, and not part of his staff — published this on March 16:
    “People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus ‘pandemic’ could be a big hoax” [link atl]

    rationale offered by Paul’s staff is that he got the test b/c of his “extensive travel &events.”

    Most of his travel is between Kentucky and DC. If this is the bar for jumping to the front of the line on testing, then many more qualify for fast testing than the govt has said.

    Paul has been in the Senate over the last 2 weeks, so he unknowingly exposed other senators, as well as aides, reporters and more. Will all those be eligible for tests immediately?

    Hopefully he will not develop symptoms at all. But he has exposed a clear stratification already.

    Also: as a senator, Rand Paul is of course eligible for the Senate health care plan. If that’s how he obtained and paid for his jump-the-line Corona virus testing, then that means that it was… taxpayer-funded government health care which gave him an advantage others don’t have

  142. says

    From Harry Moroz (@hrmoroz)

    For the average American the best way to tell if you have COVID-19 is to cough in a rich person’s face and wait for their test results.

    Reposted on Occupy Democrats.

  143. says

    LykeX @227, too true.

    In related news, here is an article by Josh Marshall:

    A new article authored by a group of physicians in Bergamo, Italy proposes a radical theory of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it must be addressed. (It is published in a new peer-reviewed journal from the New England Journal of Medicine. Article here; write up in StatNews here.) The authors write that “Western health care systems have been built around the concept of patient-centered care,” but that doctors must now move to “community-centered care.”

    What does this mean? Concretely it means that hospitals themselves may be a big part of the problem. When lots of COVID-19 patients rush into the hospitals, clinicians are then spreading it within the hospitals. Key quote: “We are learning that hospitals might be the main Covid-19 carriers, as they are rapidly populated by infected patients, facilitating transmission to uninfected patients. Patients are transported by our regional system, which also contributes to spreading the disease as its ambulances and personnel rapidly become vectors.”

    The authors argue that doctors should be treating many patients at home, both via telemedicine and house calls. The implications of this are stark and sobering. They grant that for some patients this will mean inferior care individually though better outcomes for the community at large. Again, these are trade-offs and logics American medicine and society are really not prepared to confront. But obviously we’re also not prepared to confront denying potentially life-saving care to all but those with the best chance to survive.

    To be clear, it’s not all painful tradeoffs and rationing. Many patients who are seriously but not critically ill can be successfully treated in their homes, they argue, with a mix of telemedicine, home visits and bringing critical supplies of things like oxygen and medicine.

    They also recommend creating hospitals exclusively focused on COVID-19 care for those who need critical interventions in order to limit hospitals serving as vectors of spread.


    What makes most sense to me is designating hospitals, or hospital wings, exclusively for COVID-19 patients. One hospital in Texas already did that. Medical personnel from the COVID wing do not ever go into the other wing of the hospital. Ditto for other service providers.

    Some people could be treated at home, but I’m not sure how you decide who those people are. In some cases, the virus becomes more dangerous to a patient very quickly. (See comment 171.)

  144. says

    Guardian – “Brazilians protest against Bolsonaro’s muddled coronavirus response”:

    Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is facing an intensifying public backlash after his muddled reaction to the coronavirus crisis sparked five successive nights of protests and predictions that his political authority had sustained a potentially fatal blow.

    Brazil has recorded 1,128 coronavirus cases and 18 deaths, with the country’s health minister last week saying the country’s public health system is likely to collapse by the end of April.

    But Bolsonaro continues to downplay the pandemic despite more than 20 members of a delegation he recently led to the US becoming infected with Covid-19.

    In an interview on Saturday, he criticised efforts to contain the virus through large-scale quarantines or shutdowns and described the governors of states including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as “irresponsible”, saying they were creating a “climate of terror” by doing so.

    “It’s an excessive dose of medicine – and too much medicine becomes poison,” Bolsonaro said, rejecting criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic. “I’m the manager of the team and the team is playing very well, thank God.”

    A growing number of Brazil’s 209 million citizens appear to disagree.

    Since last Tuesday cities across the country have witnessed nightly panelaço (pan-banging) protests where dissenters express their dissatisfaction with Bolsonaro by pummelling saucepans from windows and balconies.

    Much of the fury has focused on Bolsonaro’s decision to pose for triumphant photographs and mingle with supporters outside the presidential palace last Sunday despite receiving medical advice to self-quarantine because of his possible exposure to the virus during a trip to meet Donald Trump in the US.

    Since then Bolsonaro has come under heavy fire from Brazilian media and political opponents for what they call his reckless and inept behaviour.

    Even former allies have turned on Brazil’s president, with Janaina Paschoal, a rightwing congresswoman once touted as Bolsonaro’s vice-presidential running mate, calling for an end to his presidency. “We are being invaded by an invisible enemy. We need people who are capable of leading the nation,” she said.

    “I find it very hard to imagine how Bolsonaro could recover from this,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an international relations professor at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo. “Bolsonaro is very fragile already and I feel like the pandemic has just made it clear to many people that he will not be able to lead Brazil through this in any satisfactory way.

    “Even if he suddenly says: ‘OK guys – I get it,’ it will be very hard for people not to blame him directly for what will happen – and I think it’s very hard to imagine that this will not be terrible for Brazil.”

    Bruno Boghossian, a columnist for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper in the capital, Brasília, said this week’s pot-banging protests had been highly symbolic rather than huge in scale.

    But, strikingly, they had taken place in wealthy areas that overwhelmingly backed Bolsonaro in 2018 because of anger with the left.

    It was unclear how severely Bolsonaro’s political standing had been shaken. “I can’t tell you if … his popularity is going to collapse in one fell swoop,” Boghossian said. “But I think damage has already been done because people will remember – now and forever – how the president behaved as the seriousness of this [pandemic] became clear in Brazil.”

    Boghossian said Bolsonaro had long believed his presidency was “bullet-proofed” by expectations that Brazil’s economy would improve under his administration. “The problem is that economic meltdown is [now] inevitable,” he said.

  145. says

    A few details regarding what may be a Russian disinformation campaign:

    Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf dismissed the notion of an impending national lockdown or quarantine in the U.S. during an interview on Fox News Sunday morning.

    After saying that he’s been contacted numerous times about text messages and screenshots warning of a national lockdown or a national quarantine, Wolf said the messages are “absolutely false” and that it’s “part of a disinformation campaign.”

    “What we know — whether it’s Russia or whether it’s other cyber actors — they like to sow discord on any controversial issue,” Wolf said. “So, it doesn’t just have to be elections. It can be any issue. And we’re seeing that now with the coronavirus.”

    Wolf went on to urge Americans to not believe or spread the rumors and to get information from state and federal officials.

    On Friday, the White House’s National Security Council tweeted that text messages and emails about an impending national shutdown are “absolutely false.”

    Last month, the World Health Organization, which classified the coronavirus outbreak as a “pandemic,” acknowledged that the response to the outbreak has been accompanied by an “infodemic” — an overabundance of accurate and inaccurate information that impedes the public’s ability to find reliable guidance. […]


    Ripe for Russian amplification of bullshit/vague bluster Trump already said.

    From the readers comments:

    Holy fucking fuck. It’s an easy question: “We are not planning that but are evaluating everything, and watching to see if those efforts are effective in the areas that are implementing them.”
    We don’t need Russia we have Donnie.
    This is where the utter unreliability of anything that Trump’s administration says does real damage to the nation. Starting at the top, they simply lie and dissemble so much that nothing they say is credible, even if it might be true.

    This is just exactly the kind of situation you don’t need in a time of real national crisis. People will die unnecessarily because of this kind of incompetence and dishonesty, and probably already have done.
    it has been amazing how little Ukraine has been mentioned in the last few weeks.

  146. KG says

    In the UK, Johnson and his government have finally instituted serious measures, weeks too late and still with serious gaps, to slow the spread of the virus and support employees as well as businesses (but not the self-employed or unemployed as yet). But medical staff still are not getting anything like adequate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). No-one seems to know why.

  147. KG says

    10 Downing Street have officially denied that Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s Steve Bannon, advocated protecting the economy and relying on “herd immunity” at the expense of lives, until modelling from Imperial College scientists suggested up to half a million would die if that approach was followed. The report appeared in the Sunday Times, which Murdoch owns. Of course, since Johnson is a habitual and shameless liar, the denial tells us nothing.

  148. says

    White Supremacists, as classy as ever:

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office recently sent out an alert to local authorities warning of extremist groups it said are encouraging their members to spread the novel coronavirus to police and Jewish people […]

    the alert, which was reportedly issued on Thursday, said that “members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions.” […]

    The alert also reportedly said some white supremacists and neo-Nazis were also urging members who contract the virus to spread the disease to cops by using spray bottles. […]

    The report comes as the Anti-Defamation League reports some extremists have been pushing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online that blame Jewish people for the spread of the virus. […]


  149. says

    Yeah, I think postponement is inevitable.

    […] The organizers of Tokyo 2020 have started to quietly draft possible alternatives to holding the Olympic Games this summer, reports Reuters. “Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” a source said.

    For now all we know is that the organizers are coming up with a variety of different plans, including the possibility of holding the Olympics without spectators and even delaying the Games for as many as two years. The organizing committee is set to debate all the proposals at the end of March.

    The International Olympic Committee later confirmed that options were being analyzed in a letter that its president, Thomas Bach, wrote to athletes Sunday. “Together with all the stakeholders, we have started detailed discussions today to complete our assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including a scenario of postponement,” Bach wrote. He vowed there would be a decision in the next four weeks. The IOC emphasized that “cancellation is not on the agenda.”

    Earlier, the International Olympic Committee has been insisting that the Games would go on as scheduled. But the calls from athletes to postpone the Games are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. On Friday, U.S.A. Swimming called for a postponement saying athletes aren’t able to train as mucha s they normally would due to coronavirus restrictions. U.S.A. Track & Field called for a postponement the next day. The national Olympic committees of Norway and Brazil also called for a postponement, with the South American country specifically calling for the Games to be held in 2021. […]


  150. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    In the era of social distancing, rising unemployment and constant anxiety, I strongly recommend you not watch […] Trump’s daily press appearances. They will infuriate and sadden you. The president who delayed acting when the coronavirus first appeared, and delayed in activating the Defense Production Act, now insists the shelves at stores are not barren, tests are widely available and he’s deserving of a 10 out of 10 for his response.

    Things have gotten so bad that the renowned immunologist helping us navigate through the crisis, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, can barely stand to watch the president mislead the country. The Post reported:

    When Fauci returned to the briefing room for Friday’s news conference he was there to see Trump tout the potential benefits of a malaria drug that is not yet proved to be an effective treatment for covid-19 and blow up at a reporter who asked a question he considered “nasty.” Despite his admonitions against face-touching, Fauci rubbed his forehead.

    It fell to the doctor to lower the temperature in the room, delicately bridging the gap between Trump’s feelings and his own scientific approach.

    We now know that Trump ignored and suppressed the warning of national security experts who feared the pandemic was on its way. (The Post reports: “U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting.”)

    […] In addition to tuning out Trump, you should tune in to governors’ news conferences, even if the governor is not your own. The briefings by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) have become daily displays of candor, reassurance, unvarnished truth-telling and decisive leadership. My Post colleague Dan Balz reports: “Contrast Trump’s blame-shifting with what Cuomo said on Friday when he announced the stay-at-home restrictions. ‘If someone is unhappy and somebody wants to blame someone or complain about someone, blame me,’ he said. ‘There is no one else who is responsible for this decision.’ ” Those sorts of displays will remind you that for all federal government’s incompetence, the states are making tough decisions and moving to fill the leadership vacuum.

    Beginning this week, you will have another source of reassurance: shadow briefings from the presumptive Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden. His campaign already put out an informative video explaining how we got to where we are and what we should be doing: [See the link for the video]

    […] We will need to muddle through the remainder of the year, relying on Congress, governors and local leadership. The economic picture will look grim. But both the coronavirus and the Trump era will not last forever. Though so much is uncertain and our lives have been put on pause, we will hold elections in November. We will be able to replace Trump and his exasperating band of buffoonish advisers.

    With Biden, we are reminded that a president who embraces science and experts, shows empathy, avoids blame-shifting and can grasp complex information is the norm. It is only in the disastrous Trump era that we have been bludgeoned by ignorance, cruelty, incompetence and narcissism on an unprecedented scale.

    So do yourself a favor, tune out the White House and look to competent leadership wherever you can find it.

    Washington Post link

  151. says

    Hollywood actor Gal Gadot and her celebrity friends have recorded an uplifting take on John Lennon’s song “Imagine” as they — like millions more around the world — find themselves kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The “Wonder Woman 1984” star is joined in her Instagram video by fellow screen stars, comedians and singers, among them Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Natalie Portman, Will Ferrell, Sia, Norah Jones and Chris O’Dowd
    “Hey guys. Day six in self-quarantine. And I’ve got to say that these past few days got me feeling a bit philosophical,” Gadot opens by saying. “You know, this virus has affected the entire world, everyone — doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, we are all in this together.” […]

    Video at the link.

  152. Pierce R. Butler says

    Miscellaneous reactions:

    Should we start a betting pool on when the number of global c-virus deaths will exceed the number of lies told by the “president” since taking office? The former is surging, but the latter is too.

    Check out this recent AP News story about the spate of c-virus misinformation. Inexplicably, it does not name a name that rhymes with “dump”…

    An odd cliché, apparently started within the Trump™ maladministration, has it that Important People isolations and quarantines take place due to an “Abundance Of Caution”. Will they change this whenever somebody finally points out the acronym that phrase creates?

  153. says

    Follow-up to comment 173, 174, and 198.

    From Caroline Fredrickson:

    […] Trump’s Justice Department is seizing on the pandemic as an excuse to push for a major rollback in civil liberties. President Trump has shown an admiration for autocrats around the world from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is a classic move of such leaders to use a crisis to advance policies they have long supported. Indeed, Trump has already instituted tighter border restrictions because of covid-19 and further limited asylum applications.

    Even if Congress does not agree to the new detention policy, Trump is endowed, as president, with other authorities he can use now that must be closely scrutinized. Even a president admired for his leadership during crisis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, ordered people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast to be put in internment camps. After 9/11, Congress gave the Bush administration almost everything it asked for, resulting in flawed legislation with vast civil liberties violations. We must demand Congress not forget those lessons.

    Washington Post link

  154. KG says

    The UK government wants to rush through emergency powers which would run for two years without any provision for review. These would, I understand (I admit I haven’t read the proposed legislation) include indefinite detention without any form of legal process, the right to ban any and all gatherings, etc. A cross-party group of MPs is trying to place some restrictions on the powers, notably limiting them to one year.

  155. says

    Update: So now the strange message from Rand Paul’s office can be explained. He was emphasizing “abundance of caution” and no known close contact with anyone infected in order to lie. He was tested because there was good reason to suspect that he might have been exposed, but he chose not to self-isolate at any point until he received his results, even going to the Senate gym and lunches with colleagues. Several Senators now have to be in isolation after exposure to him. Paul is a doctor.

    Rep. McAdams from Utah, who tested positive last week and has been in quarantine, has been quite sick. He was hospitalized over the weekend but is feeling relatively better now, so hopefully he’s taken a turn for the better and can be released soon.

  156. says

    Science interview with Dr. Fauci – “‘I’m going to keep pushing.’ Anthony Fauci tries to make the White House listen to facts of the pandemic”:

    …Q: The first question everyone has is how are you?

    A: Well, I’m sort of exhausted. But other than that, I’m good. I mean, I’m not, to my knowledge, coronavirus infected. To my knowledge, I haven’t been fired. [Laughs.]

    Q. You stood nearby while President Trump was in the Rose Garden shaking hands with people. You’re a doctor. You must have had a reaction like, Sir, please don’t do that.

    A: Yes, I say that to the task force. I say that to the staff. We should not be doing that. Not only that–we should be physically separating a bit more on those press conferences. To his credit, the Vice President [Mike Pence] is really pushing for physical separation of the task force [during meetings]. He keeps people out of the room–as soon as the room gets like more than 10 people or so, it’s ‘Out, everybody else out, go to a different room.’ So with regard to the task force, the Vice President is really a bear in making sure that we don’t crowd 30 people into the Situation Room, which is always crowded. So he’s definitely adhering to that. The situation on stage [for the press briefings] is a bit more problematic. I keep saying, is there any way we can get a virtual press conference. Thus far, no. But when you’re dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things 1,2,3,4 times, and then it happens. So I’m going to keep pushing.

    Q: You’re standing there saying nobody should gather with more than 10 people and there are almost 10 people with you on the stage. And there are certainly more than 10 journalists in the audience.

    A: I know that. I’m trying my best. I cannot do the impossible.

    Q: Most everyone thinks that you’re doing a remarkable job, but you’re standing there as the representative of truth and facts but things are being said that aren’t true and aren’t factual.

    A: The way it happened is that after he made that statement [suggesting China could have revealed the discovery of a new coronavirus three to four months earlier], I told the appropriate people, it doesn’t comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September. The next time they sit down with him and talk about what he’s going to say, they will say, by the way, Mr. President, be careful about this and don’t say that. But I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.

    Q: You have not said China virus. [Trump frequently calls the cause of the spreading illness, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a “China virus” or a “Chinese virus.”]

    A: Ever.

    Q. And you never will, will you?

    A: No.

    Q: At Friday’s press conference, you put your hands over your face when President Trump referred to the “deep State Department,” [a popular conspiracy theory]. It’s even become an internet meme. Have you been criticized for what you did?

    A: No comment.

    Q: We’ve seen creative ideas about how to respond in other countries that we aren’t adopting. China uses thermometers at supermarkets before letting people in. Should we be considering that?

    A: Yes, of course. I think the logistics of that have to be worked out. That was discussed. All these things are discussed. Not all of them are implemented. This is something that should be considered. I will bring it up at the next task force meeting and see whether there’s some sort of a logistical, bureaucratic reason why it can’t be done. The rationale for doing it is at least worth serious consideration….

  157. says

    G liveblog:

    A sombre warning to Americans has been issued by the US Surgeon General who said “this week it’s going to get bad.”

    Dr Jerome Adams, the operational head of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), was speaking to NBC News’ Today programme, where he said: “I want America to understand this week it’s going to get bad. We really need to come together as a nation…we really really need everyone to stay at home.”

  158. says

    John Mashey: “I notice Senator Rand Paul is in the news again.
    He was a long a member of AAPS, a group or doctors with interesting views on global warming, HIV/AIDs, vaccinations, nicotine.
    Learn more:…”

    Links atl.

  159. says

    Daniel Dale:

    Fox News host Steve Hilton last night: “You know that famous phrase, ‘The cure is worse than the disease’? That’s exactly the territory we’re hurtling towards.”


    Trump, getting more explicit, has now retweeted posts calling for everyone outside “high risk groups” to go back to work in early April to avoid economic damage:…

    Obviously this is insane. The growing numbers of sick people will render this idea moot before two weeks have passed, but it’s the worst possible signal to be sending to his followers.

  160. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Issuing a deadline to a pandemic. Commanding the tides to stay back.

    Yeah, sure. What could possibly go wrong?

  161. johnson catman says

    re a_ray_in_dilbert_space @254: Maybe Congress should just pass a law making the coronavirus illegal similar to the NC Legislature trying to make sea level rise illegal.

  162. says

    G liveblog:

    In an act of international solidarity, Cuba has sent a brigade of more than 50 doctors to Italy to help them in their fight against coronavirus.

    The Caribbean island, one of the world’s last remaining communist states, has a long history of sending medical assistance to countries in need.

    According to the Cuban news agency, Prensa Latina, the group arriving in Italy includes 36 doctors, 15 graduate nurses and a logistics specialist. They will work in a field hospital built in Crema, a city of about 34,000 people, located in the province of Cremona, Lombardy, the region hardest hit by the epidemic.

    Prensa Latina quoted the national coordinator of the Cuban Residents in Italy group as saying:

    Our land does not offer what it has left over, our nation shares what it has.

    Cuba has long provided (and offered only to be rejected, as has been the case with the US) medical assistance to other countries in the region and around the world. Last week, it allowed the British ship Braemar to dock in Cuba and transported its hundreds of passengers, including some with coronavirus, to planes to return home. The ship had already been rejected by several other countries.

  163. KG says

    Correxction and update to my #246. The emergency bill only allows police to detain someone for “a limited period” (I don’t know how long), not indefinitely, if they are known or suspected of being infected with Covid-19. And the governmnet has now agreed that the emergency powers should be subject to a 6-monthly review.

  164. KG says

    Trump, getting more explicit, has now retweeted posts calling for everyone outside “high risk groups” to go back to work in early April to avoid economic damage:… – Daniel Dale, quoted by SC@253

    Read: to avoid damage to his re-election chances. But it won’t: the man is clearly still unable to come to terms with reality. After all, he’s never needed to before.

  165. says

    G liveblog:

    The number of people confirmed infected with coronavirus around the world has passed 350,000, according to statistics collected by Johns Hopkins university.

    According to the tally kept by the university, 350,536 people have now been diagnosed with the virus, of whom 15,328 have died and 100,182 have recovered.

    The country with the most confirmed infections remains China, with 81,496, followed by Italy, Europe’s worst hit country, with 59,138, then the US with 35,225, Spain with 33,089, and Germany with 26,220.

  166. says

    From Daniel Goldman:

    I spoke earlier today with the Dir of Emergency Medicine at the largest hospital in Westchester, who told me that the hospital’s supply of PPE was so dire this week that he drove to Brooklyn and bought 1,000 masks at $6.50/mask with his own money. Where is the federal government?

  167. says

    G liveblog:

    New York governor Andrew Cuomo says the state now has 20,875 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 5,707 cases confirmed today.

    Of those cases, 13% have needed to be cared for in hospital, around a quarter of whom are in intensive care.

    There have now been 157 coronavirus deaths in the state.

    In a press conference on Monday morning, Cuomo said he will sign an emergency order instructing all hospitals to increase their bed capacity by 50%, and also request that hospitals try to expand their bed capacity by 100%.

    He says the state currently has a 53,000 bed capacity, which needs to be doubled according to recent projections to 110,000.

  168. says

    One good development arises out of the Rand Paul fiasco: Lindsey Graham now supports remote voting for Congress critters.

    In other Senatorial news, Amy Kobuchar’s husband has tested positive for COVID-19.

  169. lumipuna says

    Once the 15 day “deadline” is over, expect a lot of conservative pundits arguing that lockdown restrictions don’t work and are waste of precious economy.

  170. says

    SC @263, sorry I didn’t see your comment before I repeated the same information. “Coughing up blood” sounds bad. Reminds me of some of the really difficult situations described in comment 171.

    In other news, Elizabeth Warren has called for the closure of immigration courts:

    Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has joined the chorus of voices calling on the Justice Department to close all 68 U.S. immigration courts nationwide amid the coronavirus public health crisis, telling Attorney General William Barr and Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Director James McHenry that “It is past time to do so.” Warren notes that while the Trump administration’s own guidance instructs the public to try to work from home and avoid even small gatherings, the DOJ has shut down only about a dozen courthouses and is still forcing some asylum-seekers to go to crowded hearings. “Your inaction is irresponsible and is putting people’s health at risk,” she says.

    “EOIR has failed to take the necessary step of closing all immigration courts,” Warren continues. “Reportedly an immigration judge in Denver has reportedly displayed COVID-19 symptoms, and an immigration attorney in Atlanta has tested positive for COVID-19 ‘just one day after he appeared in a crowded courtroom.’ According to a news report based on statements from a court employee in New York City, ‘In recent days members of the public have been showing up at the New York courts looking visibly unwell. Yet only the most basic hygiene measures have been taken.’”

    Warren’s letter notes that “Courtrooms and waiting areas remain full of people,” mirrored in an AP report about asylum seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico by the administration. “Wearing face masks, about 30 asylum seekers who had been waiting in Mexico were escorted by authorities into a federal building in El Paso, Texas, some carrying children,” the report said. “They reported, as instructed, to a border crossing at 4 a.m. Monday and were driven to the court in white vans. Journalists were barred from the courtroom on the grounds that it was too crowded. A lawyer who attended said the judge appeared by video conference, and few, if any migrants wore masks once the hearing began.” […]


  171. says

    Follow-up to comment 267 from lumipuna.

    Trump is trying to threaten and bully the coronavirus. The virus has 15 days to stop sending Trump’s precious stock market plunging!

    After that 15 days, Trump will just command everyone but his family to contract the virus as they go back to work. Then we’ll see who’s special.

  172. says

    From Joe Biden:

    President Trump and Mitch McConnell are trying to put a corporate bailout ahead of families. It’s simply wrong. We need to be focused on helping hardworking Americans, communities, and small businesses — not handing big corporations a blank check.

    Video of Biden speaking is available at the link. There are more details in the video.

  173. lumipuna says

    In my interpretation, Trump admin is still committed to not trying to slow down the epidemic, even while they’re incresingly forced to pretend that something is being done at federal level. At best, they might not be actively sabotaging the state and local level measures behind the scenes.

    They’ve figured that their best re-election chance is to hope that herd immunity builds quickly and the epidemic passes as fast as possible, and most importantly, with minimal damage to economy. The epidemic might pass well before November, but the economy will take longer to even begin to recover.

    They might not fully understand that fast epidemic means higher death rate – Trump himself almost certainly doesn’t. Same with them understanding how bad the epidemic will be. In any case, if they managed to halfway mitigate the epidemic, at the price of destroying the economy, voters will not appreciate that the epidemic could have been worse. Voters are expected to have a short memory, their attention will soon shift from mass graves to mass unemployment.

  174. says

    Trump pumps up the fossil fuel industry:

    […] amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has upended daily life and slashed oil prices, Trump and his team have once again prioritized fossil fuel production.

    The administration is considering bailing out the oil and gas industry, which has been hit hard by an overseas price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and a drop in global demand due to the coronavirus. That relief is expected to include the Department of Energy purchasing 77 million barrels of crude oil from US producers, enough to fill the nation’s emergency reserve to capacity, at a cost of $2.5 billion.

    The Interior Department is also moving forward with fossil fuel lease sales, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offered up a sweeping 78 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for bidders on Wednesday despite environmental groups’ calls to halt the sales during the pandemic. […]

    Wednesday’s auction yielded about $93 million for just shy of 400,000 acres—the “lowest total for any US offshore auction since 2016,” according to Reuters. […]

    That amounts to roughly half the previous lease sale, which took place last August, and marked the first time since region-wide sales began in 2017 that total bidding failed to surpass $100 million. It’s a sign that oil prices are too low for anyone but industry behemoths to make offers, said an analyst for energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. […]

    Indeed, the sale came the same day the price of oil plummeted to its lowest level in 18 years, with West Texas Intermediate, the primary US benchmark for crude, falling to $22.90 per barrel on Wednesday, a 15 percent plunge and the cheapest price since 2002. Brent crude, the global gauge for oil prices, dropped 9 percent to $26.16 per barrel. At those prices, it’s nearly impossible for many US fracking companies, responsible for the majority of the country’s oil production, according to the Energy Information Administration, to pay back steep debts, prompting the Trump administration to consider measures to bail out drillers.

    But analysts told HuffPost last week to expect a wave of bankruptcies of smaller producers that could lead to consolidation within the industry as oil majors, the companies that almost exclusively had the capital to bid in Wednesday’s auction, buy up troubled rivals.


  175. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 178.

    As expected, spring breakers are testing positive:

    The University of Tampa in Florida announced at least five students have tested positive for coronavirus after traveling with other students on a spring break trip. […]

    The multiple diagnoses come as spring breakers flocking to Florida beaches have sparked a backlash, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and people are urged to social distance and to stay at home. […]


  176. says

    Also as expected, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed. The games will not start on July 24.

    […] The IOC will announce its next steps soon, said Pound, a Canadian former swimming champion.

    “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense,” he told USA Today.

    The Olympic Committee has faced growing calls to postpone the summer games, including from Global Athlete, which represents Olympic hopefuls, and USA Swimming and USA Track & Field.

    Australia and Canada had already announced they would not compete in the Tokyo Games if they took place as originally scheduled.

    The IOC said Sunday that officials were considering postponing the games, but they have repeatedly insisted the event will not be canceled. […]

  177. says

    That relief is expected to include the Department of Energy purchasing 77 million barrels of crude oil from US producers, enough to fill the nation’s emergency reserve to capacity, at a cost of $2.5 billion.

    That’s $32.5 per barrel. With that in mind:

    …West Texas Intermediate, the primary US benchmark for crude, falling to $22.90 per barrel on Wednesday, a 15 percent plunge and the cheapest price since 2002. Brent crude, the global gauge for oil prices, dropped 9 percent to $26.16 per barrel.

    Why is the government overpaying for oil in a buyer’s market? How is this different from just giving them money?

    I know, it’s not. I’m still holding on to this ridiculous notion that governments are supposed to work for the people. Silly me.

  178. says

    BREAKING: Dr. Fauci is warning Trump officials NOT to listen to growing push among WH advisers, GOP lawmakers to restart the economy

    But Trump is alarmed by stock market & impact of high unemployment for 2020 election — & weighing easing restrictions

    GOP Senators, WH advisers are urging an easing of restrictions b/c of the economic impact

    More than 30K in US have already tested positive & public health officials say we need more restrictions, not fewer”

    WaPo link atl. As KG points out @ #258, this insanity isn’t even in his own interest. Even his precious stock market is continuing to tank (despite more desperate Fed actions this morning). Things are going to get worse, but they’ll get much worse to the extent that he tries to reverse course on already insufficient public-health measures. He’s an incompetent raging fool.

    Apropos of nothing, I watched the episode of Dirty Money on Netflix about Jared Kushner, “Slumlord Millionaire,” the other day. Recommended.

  179. says

    SC @279, wow! So good to hear someone speak who actually knows what he is doing. Also, I was impressed by his description of the immediate, effective cooperation with Governor Cuomo of NY

    Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite also quickly explained FEMA’s roll in this process. For the most part, Trump has no role, (with the exception of declaring a state of emergency in NY) … and that’s why it works.

    All of government should be like this. Instead, we have bumbling, blustering Hair Furor clogging up the works. (Or, imagine how messed up the process would be if Hair Furor put Jared Kushner in charge of helping NY.)

  180. says

    LykeX @280,

    Why is the government overpaying for oil in a buyer’s market?

    Good points. Good question. Answer, because Trump is world class huckster.

  181. says

    Follow-up to SC @281.

    From Chris Hayes:

    I’m watching the “just let the virus do it’s thing and keep the economy humming” school of thought grow on the right. And it seems worth noting something crucial.

    First, it *is* true that the trade-off right now between a raging pandemic and a Great Depression style hit to the economy is a horrible one, and we need to get to a place where we can manage the virus and also have something like normal life.

    The key to getting there is suppression: testing, tracing and treatment. We’re still a long way from that.

    But let’s say you just think the costs outweight the benefits, and are not morally persuaded by the idea that we shouldn’t let hundreds and thousands if not millions of (disproportionately) the oldest and sickest among us be left to die.

    So just think of the economics of this: if you stopped lockdowns, and sent everyone back to work, lots and lots of people would get sick. You’d have workplaces where half the staff were out. And this would roll through all kinds of places, people who maintain the electrical grid and water treatment and sewage systems, etc… Not only that, as the hospitals filled up and horror stories emerged, you’d have tons of deaths from things other than Covid-19 that couldn’t get treated. This would make ppl more scared of getting the bug and lead to further retreat.

    Which is to say, even if you care about economic activity as the only value here, it’s really not clear that anything like “business as usual” is even a possibility in the midst of a roaring pandemic, even if you let everything stay open.

    In fact, you risk ending up with the worst of both worlds: mass death and sickness AND ALSO an economy that’s essentially shut down.

  182. says

    In response to a WaPo report on Trump’s weak waffling, Lindsey Graham tweeted:

    When it comes to how to fight #CoronavirusPandemic, I’m making my decisions based on healthcare professionals like Dr. Fauci and others, not political punditry.

    Try running an economy with major hospitals overflowing, doctors and nurses forced to stop treating some because they can’t help all, and every moment of gut-wrenching medical chaos being played out in our living rooms, on TV, on social media, and shown all around the world.

    There is no functioning economy unless we control the virus.

  183. says

    Trump says China “should have told us” about coronavirus. He removed the official meant to do that.

    A US epidemiologist was embedded with the Chinese CDC. The Trump administration discontinued the position.

    […] Trump loves to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic, but new information surfaced over the weekend that the administration eliminated a position last July that potentially could have helped the US get an earlier jump on a response to the crisis, suggesting the president may need to place blame a little closer to home.

    The Trump administration told the United States’ embed at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the position would be defunded, causing her to leave her post in July 2019, according to a report from Reuters’s Marisa Taylor. […]

    With the administration planning to discontinue the role, the embed return to the US about five months before China began to see its first Covid-19 cases. Under normal circumstances, the embed likely would have passed information about the novel virus to US officials. Instead, Chinese officials were able for weeks to conceal the virus and the threat it posed, leading to a delay in the world’s response to what was then a matter of great concern and is now a pandemic.

    When asked about his administration’s role in this decision during Sunday’s daily coronavirus press conference, Trump called on US CDC Director Robert Redfield to answer the question before attacking the press, saying, “This is just like the other stuff that you, not you, but the press was asking. We actually gave CDC more money, not less money — they said we defunded, it turned out it was more money. Every one of those things that was said were 100 percent wrong, and this sounds like another one.”

    CDC funding has in fact gone up under the Trump administration — but in direct opposition to the president’s wishes. All of his budgets have requested that funding be cut, requests Congress ignored. It was only last week that the administration retracted its request for CDC funding cuts for 2021. And it has successfully eliminated public health positions it has control over.

    Redfield came to the podium to claim, “The China office is actually being augmented as we speak. And we’ve been embedded there for over 30 years. There’s a reason they call it the Chinese CDC, because we’ve had that productive partnership.”

    It isn’t clear what those augmentations are or when they will take effect. But Trump’s final word on the matter only served to underscore why the position was so critical.

    “I wish [China] told us three months sooner that this was a problem,” the president said. “We didn’t know about it, they knew about it, and they should have told us, we could have saved a lot of lives throughout the world.” […]

    Until July 2019, that embed was Dr. Linda Quick, an epidemiologist. Quick led a program that trained Chinese epidemiologists in methods for discovering, tracking, researching, and containing diseases — like Covid-19.

    She reportedly came back to the US after being told her position would be discontinued in September 2019 in part due to the ongoing trade war between the US and China […]

    Once she came back to the US, she was not replaced by the US or any other foreign government, leading to a series of events that Bao-Ping Zhu, who held Quick’s position during the Obama administration, told Reuters was “heartbreaking to watch.”

    “If someone had been there, public health officials and governments across the world could have moved much faster,” Zhu said. […]

    Regardless of when the administration learned, had the embed been in place, the US — and its allies — could have received factual information about the virus and Covid-19 far sooner than they did. Learning earlier may have led the administration to act earlier, and certainly would have given it more time to make plans around testing and the stockpiling and distribution of medical equipment that is currently in great demand and in short supply, like masks and ventilators. […]


    So that’s the real story. Maybe it is both too true and to nuanced for Trump to understand.

  184. says

    TRUMP: GM and Ford are making ventilators ‘right now’.

    AP FACT CHECK: No automaker is anywhere close to making medical gear such as ventilators and remain months away — if not longer”

    Yahoo link atl.

  185. says

    About the Google website that Trump touted:

    Nearly two weeks after […] Trump announced on March 13 that Google was racing to build a site to help Americans find coronavirus testing, people are still confused about what’s actually going on. […] reports emerged that Google was not fully aware of the plan Trump said the company was participating in. Given the threat the novel coronavirus poses to the US, this is not a good sign.

    Trump said at a March 15 press conference that his earlier comments about Google had been “substantiated” and thanked “the head of Google, a great gentleman.” A few hours later, a site made by Google’s sister company Verily went live with a tool for coronavirus risk screening that directed residents of two counties in Northern California to test centers. It wasn’t long before the Verily site ran into trouble. People with symptoms were told they weren’t eligible for the screening program, and those who were needed a Google login to use the tool. On top of that, the Verily site reached capacity the morning after launch. Google announced a week later that it would expand to two more testing sites in Northern California.

    After being delayed by several days, Google finally launched its coronavirus portal on March 21. The informational website includes “state-based information, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, and further resources for individuals, educators and businesses,” according to Google’s announcement. It does not include the things Trump said the site would include, like information about local testing sites. […] Trump was angry at Jared Kushner for overselling Google’s plans, before the president announced the new website at a White House press conference.

    Now that the Verily and Google sites are live, it’s more clear than ever that the website Trump described is not what the American public will use to find coronavirus testing.

    […] Rather than creating a dynamic site that guides people to testing locations, what Google built is much simpler. […] It does not include much information about how to find testing centers.

    The site Trump initially promised sounds much more like what’s being developed by the life sciences research company Verily, which is related to Google but is a distinct company. After Trump’s speech, Verily said that it was “in the early stages of development” of a tool to triage potential coronavirus patients and “is planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, […]

    The Verily screening site now serves residents of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Riverside, and Sacramento counties in California. With limitations like this in mind, it’s clear that Verily’s new tool is quite different from the site Trump described in mid March.

    Trump announced a website that did not exist

    […] Trump said that “Google has 1,700 engineers working on” a website that would help people figure out if they needed a coronavirus test and to direct them to testing sites. […]

    Within an hour of the president’s Rose Garden speech, the company’s press team pushed back against Trump’s announcement and tweeted a statement from Verily, drawing a distinction between the two companies and clarifying that the Verily site was only nearing a testing phase, rather than being almost ready to launch.

    This is actually a generous depiction of the truth behind the Trump declaration. According to the New York Times, the plan for Verily to build a website to help with coronavirus testing was “in its infancy” at the time of Trump’s announcement. And Verily only has about 1,000 employees. The 1,700 number that Trump claimed in his speech actually refers to the number of Google engineers who, the Thursday before Trump’s speech, filled out a form volunteering to help Verily with its coronavirus triage site in the coming “days and weeks.” Even then, the Verily project was only meant to be used by health care workers. […]


  186. says

    From Wonkette:

    Now that Mitch McConnell has had a good cry about how mean Democrats are being all partisan by not accepting a $425 billion no-strings giveaway to corporations in the Senate’s economic stimulus bill, we learn that — surprise, surprise! — the nearly $2 trillion bill also has an evil little provision written into another part of the bill that appears to be aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, but is so broadly written that it could endanger funding for any small nonprofit that receives funding through Medicaid.

    The Washington Post explains what the Republicans who wrote the bill snuck into the portion that provides $350 billion to keep small business open if they don’t lay off workers:

    According to language in the bill forwarded to me by a senior Senate Democratic aide, this provision excludes “nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures,” which would not be eligible for those loans. […] this language would exclude from eligibility for this financial assistance a big range of other nonprofits that get Medicaid funding, such as home and community-based disability providers; community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers; group homes for the disabled; and even rape crisis centers. [in addition to defunding Planned Parenthood]

    Oh. And that’s bad, right? Yes, it is.

    This appears to be one of those things where you can’t tell whether the bill’s language was meant to only hurt Planned Parenthood and also — oops! — happens to exclude a bunch of other nonprofits, or if it was actually intended to limit funding for other nonprofits that use Medicaid funding to help poor people, because poor people don’t deserve help. […] since the outcome is the same, the motive is irrelevant.

    Mara Youdelman, an attorney with the National Health Law Program in Washington DC, told WaPo columnist Greg Sargent there’s no two ways about it: Small nonprofits serve lots of people already, and during this pandemic, their services will be in even greater demand. Sargent notes that small nonprofits face particular challenges in a crisis like this:

    While they get funding through patients who are on Medicaid and use it to pay for their services, Medicaid historically underpays for those services. With a surge in demand for such services amid the crisis, these providers will need more assistance — and if they’re denied it, some could go out of business at the worst possible time, Youdelman noted.

    “We should be doing everything possible to keep them in businesses, both to help manage the pandemic and to keep people needing routine care healthy and out of overwhelmed hospitals,” Youdelman told me.

    […] Dems see shoring up the safety net as just as important as getting people tested and treated — it’s preventative medicine for the economy and the society.

    [Republican outlook:] It’s survival of the fittest (plus cruise ships), with the fittest being chosen by Donald Trump’s Treasury Department. […]

    Or as some of the leading minds on the Right are suggesting, maybe we should just all go back to work and let those most vulnerable to COVID-19 hurry up and die, then, and reduce the surplus population: […]


  187. says

    G liveblog:

    Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, has just announced that UK citizens are now being ordered to stay in their homes in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. He says people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following “very limited purposes”:

    Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.

    One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.

    Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

    Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

    That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

    You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.

    You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

  188. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Trump is a big fan of the cruise ship industry. Last week, he said it was a “prime candidate” for a bailout, along with actual useful businesses such as airlines and hotels. We’re not monsters here, though. If we let Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines … er sink that would negatively impact countless Americans.

    [From Dean Baker]

    For those wondering about the importance of the cruise ship industry to the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry employs 20,600 people in this country. I don’t know how much cruise line owners contribute to the Trump campaign or Mar-a-Lago

    Oh, I guess we can count them, and it’s 20,600 people. According to Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that is 0.013 percent of total employment in the US. Put in perspective, that’s half the people reading Wonkette on any given day. I confess that even though I wouldn’t take a cruise at gunpoint, […]

    Slate’s Jordan Weissman believes that the “appropriate economic response to the coronavirus crisis” is bailouts for all impacted businesses, but we should exclude cruise ships because they suck (my less-polite wording, not his). The airline, hotel, and restaurant industries are “faultless casualties” of the coronavirus. Cruise ships, however, are not so innocent.

    The luxury cruise industry is different. Cruise ships are notorious petri dishes for pathogens, prone to outbreaks of everything from measles to norovirus, and it was clear that they would be a vector for coronavirus transmission by February, when a terrifying outbreak stranded the Diamond Princess in Japan’s Port of Yokohama. In early March, the Grand Princess sat marooned off the California coast with infected passengers as authorities debated where it should dock (eventually, it landed in Oakland). And yet the boats kept setting sail, often with minimal precautions.

    You might’ve gotten sick after stopping at some sketchy diners while on road trips, but how often did you leave with measles? During the start of this pandemic, cruise ships didn’t always function as responsible actors. A Norwegian Cruise Line employee in South Florida reported that sales staff was asked to flat-out lie to customers about the coronavirus so they could keep their bookings. Leaked emails provided sample “one liners” to help “close” guests who were “on the fence” about love-boating in the age of corona.

    “Mr Becker,” the line reads, “due to the Coronavirus we have cancelled all of our Asia cruises on the Norwegian Spirit. This has caused a huge surge in demand for all of our other itineraries.”

    There was no “huge surge” in demand — quite the opposite, in fact. There were also more lies that would’ve given the salesmen from Glengarry Glen Ross pause.

    “The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise,” one talking point reads.


    “Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus,” reads a second. Another line says coronavirus “cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to.”

    Same bullshit!

    […] The Miami-based Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian sail under foreign flags (Panama, Bermuda, and Liberia) so they can avoid US taxes and labor laws. […]

    [From Sabrina McDaniel]

    All the major cruise lines are asking for bailouts from the U.S. Government.

    Yet, Disney Cruises sails under the Bahamian flag … Celebrity Cruises under Liberian/Maltese flags & Carnival Cruises under the Panamanian flag – all to avoid U.S. taxes & employment law

    Norwegian’s Pride of America is the “only passenger vessel in the entire world that has permission to sail between US ports.” It even sails with an American flag! It’s also legally required to have a crew comprising only US citizens and permanent residents. Let’s make sure any coronavirus rescue package takes care of those employees, but their bosses and the cruise ship industry in general can go fuck themselves.


  189. says

    SC @299, William Barr is an even slicker liar than Trump. To carry any remarks by him live is dangerous to the wellbeing of people in the USA … and detrimental to the survival of democracy.

  190. says

    Prison/jail news from Washington state:

    […] The Washington Supreme Court, which oversees the first state to experience a COVID-19 outbreak, has gone the farthest in mandating a statewide reduction in jail populations. On Wednesday, the court issued an order expediting motions for pretrial release and allowing detainees to cite coronavirus when requesting a reduction or elimination of bail.

    Trial judges must consider the pandemic when defendants—especially those most vulnerable to the virus—request a bail reduction. And judges must “expeditiously” sign release agreements between prosecutors and defendants. The high court also directed judges to prioritize pretrial release and bail modification motions, as well as “plea hearings and sentencing hearings” that will result in a defendant’s release within 30 days. […]


  191. says


    Netanyahu’s loyalist Yuli Edelstein, outgoing Knesset speaker, throws in with Bibi in a showdown with Israel’s Supreme Court, refusing to let the new Parliamentary majority call a vote to replace him. Buckle up: We could have a legit constitutional crisis on our hands. Or worse.”

    Israel in short: The Supreme Court issued an order compelling the Knesset Speaker to adhere to the results of #IsraElex2020. #staytuned”

  192. says

    Josh Marshall: “Everywhere is now on full lockdown. But not the US. Big swathes of the country are still not there. This is a national crisis. Non impact states need to take the brief respite to avoid New York’s fate. But really this is a national crisis. Needs a national response.”

  193. says

    Responding to SC’s comment 310, Trump mentioned during tonight’s briefing that States like Idaho and Nebraska have a very low number of cases, and, he implied, those states don’t need to shut everything down.

    That is so wrongheaded. For one thing, I know that Idaho is not testing at anywhere near the level necessary to actually understand what the situation is. And, the number of cases in Idaho continues to grow exponentially day by day. So now is the time to act, not the time to listen to Hair Furor as he encourages “the country to open up” or to go back to business.

  194. says

    David Fahrenthold: “NEW: What happened before @realdonaldtrump called for re-evaluating lockdowns? His company had to close 6 of its top 7 revenue-generating clubs and hotels….”

    WaPo link atl.

  195. says

    From Trump’s happy-talk briefing today:

    […] Trump said that “if it were up to the doctors,” they would want his administration to shut down the entire globe.

    “Let’s shut down the entire world, because again, you’re up to almost 150 countries,” Trump said. “So let’s shut down the entire world and when we shut it down, that will be wonderful.” […]

    Trump seemed to suggest that there will be more “death” from job losses, if the economy continues to crater, than from the virus itself: “There will be tremendous death from that. You’re talking about death. Probably more death from that than anything we’re talking about with respect to the virus.” […]

    Self-proclaimed germaphobe Trump swiftly backed away upon Dr. Birx saying that she had a “low-grade fever” on Saturday, which caused her to stay home from the White House. [He must have been so relieved when Birx said that her coronavirus test was negative.]

    […] Asked whether the “cure” has been worth than the “problem” of coronavirus, as Trump has warned against, the President said that “I think the cure has been very tough. This has been very tough.” […]

    Trump just compared the threat of mass deaths from COVID-19 to auto accidents.

    “You look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars.”

    From Birx’s more fact-based presentation:

    White House Coronavirus Task Force expert Dr. Deborah Birx just put forward some numbers on the scale of the situation in the New York metro area:

    The New York metro area of New Jersey, New York City and parts of Long Island have an attack rate close to one in a thousand. This is five times what the other areas are seeing. Through the high throughput lab investigations, we are finding that 28% of the submitted specimens are positive from that area, where it’s less than 8% in the rest of the country. So to all of my friends and colleagues in New York, this is the group that needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time. Clearly, the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community.

    William Barr’s presentation was more limited than I had feared, thank goodness:

    Barr announced there will be a prosecutor in every federal district in the country tasked with going after people who hoard and price gouge for supplies relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic — or in his words, those hoarding goods and materials “on an industrial scale for the purpose of manipulating the market and ultimately deriving windfall profits.”

    “If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house this is not something you need to worry about,” he said. “But if you are sitting on a warehouse with masks, surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.”

    More of Trump’s potentially damaging and/or misleading comments:

    Trump continued to hype the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as potential COVID-19 cures. As I reported today, these drugs (sometimes in combination with others) have shown some promise as treatments, though much more study is needed.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s boosterism has created a run on supplies. And today, a man in his 60s died, and his wife is in critical care, as a result of self-medicating with chloroquine phosphate. […]

    Trump said that his administration is not going to let the coronavirus outbreak turn into a “long-lasting financial problem,” arguing that it started out as a “purely medical problem” and that it won’t go beyond that.

    The President went to brag about the U.S. being at its “strongest financial point” before the outbreak.

    The job losses, however, have already started. Jobless claims at the state level are way up.

    “We’ve never had an economy like we had just a few weeks ago, and then it got hit with something that nobody could have ever thought possible,” Trump said. “And we are fixing it — we’re fixing it quickly, and I want to just thank the American people for what they have been through and what they’re doing.”

    Trump keeps suggesting that he wants people out in the streets despite experts saying social isolation is the best way to keep the virus from spreading at a rate that overwhelms hospitals.

    “This is not a country that was built for this, it was not built to be shut down,” he said, before saying that America will “soon” be open for business — “a lot sooner than three or four months, as somebody was suggesting.”

    Trump kicks off the briefing by extending his “best wishes” to the White House reporter who has a “suspected case” of COVID-19 and feels “sure that he or she will be better very soon.”

    Trump says near the top of his remarks that the coronavirus “hardship will end — it will end soon.” That’s not clear at all.

  196. says

    More commentary on Trump’s press briefing:

    […] NBC is calling out Trump for implying that he’s going to end keeping people away from work. He’s repeating the line that “The cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease.”

    Trump droned through the ‘briefing’ like a zombie. He issued lie after lie, and stuff that was frightening. Here’s a sample.
    * Nobody could have predicted anything like this. (Wrong)
    * Plenty of supplies are on the way. (Nope)
    * Vaccines will be here Real Soon Now… (Sure they will)
    * He called this a medical problem, doesn’t want it to become an economic problem.
    * Promised the government will go after hoarding and price gouging.
    * He was talking as though he plans to lift the social distancing — shelter in place guidelines at the end of the 15 days.
    * He’s still pushing the drugs as ready to go right now.

    There was so much disinformation and Trump phrasing (Incredible!) it was hard to watch.

    (Is it a coincidence that the timing on this had the Network cutting away before anyone could start asking questions?)

    It looked like Trump was accompanied by just these people: AG Barr, VP Pence, Birx, and possibly the Surgeon General (just off screen.)

    Missing: Dr. Anthony Fauci — that alone should set off alarms

    The lead story on the NBC nightly news immediately following was that the critical medical supplies are running out.

    Unemployment surges was next.

    The fight for a relief bill on Capitol Hill was next. They do mention the secret slush fund the GOP tried to slip in for Mnuchin. Also Rand Paul being an asshole…

    First story after the break: The U.K. is on lock-down and things are bad in Spain and Italy… China is worried about recontagion from outside. […]

    […] worse than useless. […]


  197. says

    Birx, quoted @ #314 above:

    Clearly, the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community.

    Not everywhere is a city with a high population density and crowded public transportation like New York, but this is so important to recognize.

  198. says

    .@SenatorCollins can keep her crocodile tears.

    She voted & fought HARD to strip pandemic prep funding. She helped drive the lack of preparation that we had leading up to this.

    What’s actually disgraceful is her “I’m a Moderate Lady” dance to cover up brutal policies and votes.

    Collins voted for the GOP tax scam.
    She voted to appoint Kavanaugh.
    She’s defending an utterly corrupt bill to shower public money on friends and donors.

    Susan Collins is not a moderate. She just plays one on TV.

    From Wonkette:

    […] That is just the beginning of AOC’s thread, but she could have dropped the mic after she talked about Collins’s “I’m a Moderate Lady” dance. AOC just told Collins to sit her ass down and shelter the fuck in place.

    So, there was a mighty kerfuffle today on the Senate floor, and it wasn’t because Rand Paul brought himself out of quarantine to play Dutch Ovens with all his fellow senators, like he usually does. (FACTCHECK: We do not know if Rand Paul has ever dutch ovened a fellow senator. We just would not be surprised.)

    The kerfuffle was because Susan Collins was just MAD, because DECORUM REASONS, and also definitely for real not-at-all cynical reasons. You betcha.

    You see, the GOP really thought it could write its own poison bill that was just a handout to its donors and Wall Street, and did little for the actual coronavirus crisis, and that Dems would be like “Welp, gotta pass it, we guess!” Obviously Dems are just so dumb that they think this would be a good time to let Republicans get away with giving Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a half trlllion-dollar slush fund to use without oversight, to pay people off as he sees fit. Good god, even Joe Manchin is against this. […]

    OH THAT’S RIGHT, Susan Collins did personally strip $870 million for pandemic funding back in 2009, when America’s last legitimate president had to do a giant stimulus to save the American economy from what Collins’s party had done to it.

    So, to review, even though AOC did it above. Collins:

    1. Was cool with Brett Kavanaugh, who was credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women, because he pinky swore to her that he wouldn’t kill Roe.

    2. Was cool with Trump extorting a foreign country to help him steal the 2020 election, and thus voted to acquit him in the sham impeachment trial.

    3. Personally killed $870 million in pandemic preparedness funding in 2009.

    4. Is just generally a fucking asshole.

    But she is just really upset — agonizing over it, we tell you! — that Democrats won’t just let Mitch McConnell give Donald Trump and Mnuchin a $500 billion slush fund, so that they might help their buddies out. […]

  199. says

    Regarding Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in SC’s comment 319.

    Why did that asshat keep saying, “We can’t lose our whole country!” Nobody is suggesting that. He set up a false dichotomy. He thinks we have to chose between killing Grandma and “losing our whole country.”

    Simple-minded dunderhead.

  200. KG says

    Here’s video of Boris Johnson discussing the new precautions. At least he had the sense to make a 180-degree turn from the herd-immunity lunacy (which itself will cost lives) – SC@306

    Yes, that is welcome. But medical staff, care workers etc. are still largely without personal protective equipment, due, apparently, to “problems in the supply chain”. The useless numpty Johnson has had more than two months to get this kind of thing sorted – and if he hadn’t spent most of that time dithering, waffling, and listening to the eugenicist Dominic Cummings, many of the lockdown measures might have been unnecessary – or if they had been taken weeks earlier, we could possibly by now be seeing new cases decrease.

    Bizarrely, and shamefully, the Swedish government, led by the Social Democrats and supported by the Greens, appears to be following the Trump strategy. My guess is that they will be forced to reverse course in fairly short order, as the British and Dutch governments have been.

    A consequence of the Trump strategy the “let it rip” right don’t appear to have noticed is that even if they manange to kill off a couple of million “useless mouths”, considerably more people, including middle-aged and even young people, are going to end up with scarred lungs from pneumonia that doesn’t actually kill them. And there could well be other sequels to the infection that we don’t know about yet.

  201. says

    Nobody could have predicted anything like this.

    But a week ago, he was saying he predicted it? Oh, whatever. What’s the point anymore?

    Tweet thread:

    GOP: “If we don’t give corporations $500 billion, Americans will lose their jobs.”
    Dems: “Which corporations need the money to keep people in their jobs?”
    GOP: “SHUT UP!”…

  202. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian coronavirus liveblog.

    From there:

    A spokeswoman from the World Health Organisation has said the US risks becoming the next centre of the coronavirus outbreak as the country is experiencing a “very large acceleration” in cases.

    The driver of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has reportedly been taken to hospital with breathing problems and been tested for coronavirus, reports my colleague Tom Phillips in Rio.

    Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, will propose a one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics during talks with IOC President Thomas Bach.

    Abe said a postponement is unavoidable if the 2020 Games cannot be held in a complete manner amid the coronavirus pandemic. Abe held telephone talks with Bach after the IOC said it would make a decision on the Tokyo Games over the next four weeks.

    Until just a few days ago, the IOC, along with the Tokyo organising committee and the Japanese government, had insisted that there were no plans to delay the Olympics given that they were not due to open for another four months but Japan’s NHK public television reported on Tuesday that Abe wants a one-year delay.

    But Tokyo 2020’s fate was effectively sealed this week when Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to Japan in July, while the British and French governments urged the IOC to make a quick decision.

  203. says

    Daniel Dale at CNN – “Trump uses daily coronavirus briefings to replace campaign rallies”:

    President Donald Trump complained that he is treated unfairly. He touted his tax cuts. He told his usual lie about how he is the one who got the Obama-era Veterans Choice program passed into law. He told a story about how he had never been booed before 2015. He said, three times, that his wife is “very popular.”

    The coronavirus crisis has prevented Trump from holding his signature campaign rallies. So he has turned his daily White House coronavirus briefings, like the one on Sunday, into a kind of special spinoff of the familiar Trump Show — replete with all the usual misinformation, self-promotion and potshots.

    Trump’s marathon Monday briefing ran for more than 100 minutes.

    Like his arena addresses, his appearances in the briefing room tend to follow a rough formula. Here’s what they usually involve….

    Section headings:
    Inaccurate progress reports
    False, dubious or questionable medical claims
    False pronouncements that this was all unforeseen
    Vague economic cheerleading
    An empathy shortage
    Self-promotion, complaints of victimhood
    Trump being Trump

  204. says

    I’m watching the Cuomo press briefing on a delay because I was on the phone. It’s his most important yet. Cases in New York continue to spike. They need the ventilators. Said it’s “inexplicable” that the federal government hasn’t provided the stockpile or used the DPA to get companies to make them on an urgent basis, and that he would take personal responsibility for transporting them to the next state that needs them as it hits its peak.

    I’ll link to a recording later when it’s available.

  205. says

    Trump, and many let-them-die advocates, have compared car accidents to the coronavirus outbreak. That’s a case of false equivalency.

    About a week ago, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) went further than most in arguing that the coronavirus crisis should not shut down the economy, even temporarily. As part of his case, the Wisconsin Republican told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “[W]e don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about.”

    A few days later, Johnson’s argument came up during a White House press briefing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, rejected it categorically, telling reporters, “I think that’s a false equivalency to compare traffic accidents…. I mean, that’s totally way out. That’s really a false equivalency.”

    At the same briefing, Donald Trump was asked about Johnson’s highway analogy, and the president also defended existing mitigation efforts. “You could be talking about millions of lives,” the president said adding, “[W]e can bring our finances back very quickly. We can’t bring the people back.”

    That was Friday. Yesterday, Trump decided to echo the GOP senator’s argument.

    “[Y]ou look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody, ‘No more driving of cars.’ So we have to do things to get our country open.”

    I guess Trump wasn’t listening to Fauci’s “false equivalency” comments from a few days ago.

    There are all kinds of problems with the analogy, but for now, I find myself stuck on a specific part of the president’s pitch: Trump seems to believe the number of people who die in car crashes is “far greater than any numbers we’re talking about” with COVID-19.

    Estimates vary, but the number of Americans who die every year in auto accidents is between 35,000 and 40,000. We take all kinds of measures to prevent these deaths — seatbelts, airbags, speeding laws, federal safety regulations imposed on auto manufacturers — but accidents still happen, and many of them are deadly. It’s true that many Americans nevertheless drive every day and there’s little public demand to shut down the nation’s highways.

    But to assume there will be “far” fewer American deaths from the coronavirus pandemic is wishful thinking based on nothing. In fact, it’s hardly outrageous to think this is dangerously backwards: the number of fatalities could be vastly higher, especially if Trump retreats from the current course, and unlike deaths from car crashes, the deaths would likely come quite quickly.

    Do we shut down highways to prevent 40,000 deaths per year? No, we don’t. Would we temporarily shut down the highways if there were 400,000 deaths in less than a year? I sure as hell hope so.

    The Washington Post’s Philip Bump added this morning, “The scenario we’re in now is that there have been 1,000 serious car accidents on an interstate in a medium-sized city and now the drivers and their passengers are being rushed to several nearby hospitals. The hospitals are triaging patients and figuring out who needs what care, but they are very quickly out of beds in the emergency department and out of doctors to care for the patients. The sheer scale of the problem means that people will die waiting for a bed or waiting to be triaged. People sitting in the waiting room with other ailments might die, too, unable to secure any of the limited resources. Even this analogy doesn’t go far enough, though, because it doesn’t account for the risk of doctors and health-care staff catching the coronavirus themselves, putting them at risk and reducing the available resources at the hospital.”

    The fact that the president and some of his allies find this difficult to understand is frightening in the extreme.


  206. says

    Cuomo tweeted:

    I do not understand the reluctance to use the federal Defense Production Act to manufacture ventilators.

    If not now, when?

    He said they need 30,000 and have 7,000. The federal stockpile has 20,000. FEMA announced that they’re sending 400. “What am I gonna do with 400 when we need 30,000?”

    Asked about the rightwing pathoneoliberal line, he talked about how no one is expendable. There’s a way to get things moving again by intelligently addressing the public health crisis and the economic crisis in tandem.

  207. says

    Sen. Schatz: “Never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine an elected official of either party would talk like Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick did. It is essential for the soul of this nation that he be repudiated in the strongest possible terms by major Republican leaders.”

  208. says

    From readers comments following a TPM article:

    When you are bankrupt, you can recover
    Just ask the Bankruptcy King 5x
    But when you are dead, you can not recover!
    Trump is losing money because his hotels, golf clubs, and restaurants are either shut down, or not generating the same revenue. That’s his motivation; ME, ME, ME, same as it ever was.
    When those checks start rolling in from the Treasury over Trump’s exaggerated losses at hotels and golf courses, 2020 will be the Trump organization’s best year ever!
    Please be sure to deposit your dead relatives on these people’s lawns.
    It’s worth noting that this shift (or them finally openly admitting their preferences) is in the context of the relief package negotiation. The thought of helping the working class for more than a month or so is that unacceptable to them.

  209. says

    From Beto O’Rourke:

    This kind of numbnuttery will kill people in Texas. Young as well as old. We need a state-wide shelter in place order to stop the spread of coronavirus and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

    He was tweeting in response to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick saying he agrees with Trump, and casting the health crisis as an opportunity for seniors to sacrifice in order to keep the country intact for their grandchildren.

  210. says

    From Karine Jean-Pierre:

    This is a ridiculous, dangerous and reckless statement by Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick. We do not and certainly should not sacrifice people’s lives for the economy or anything else.

    Does he own stock in Soylent Green?

  211. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @345: As was pointed out in one of the Twitter threads, Patrick has three grandchildren. According to himself, that means he should step up and go to the head of the sacrifice line. (I don’t think this crosses your line on calling for violence, but if you disagree, I apologize.)

  212. says

    G liveblog (linked @ #327):

    Donald Trump has gone on a retweeting spree, relaying messages in support of his coronavirus response and controversial plan to “reopen” the US economy well before public health experts expect the outbreak to have subsided.

    He managed, however, to apparently commit something of a “self-own”, retweeting footage of Dr Anthony Fauci at a White House briefing last week which most thought showed Fauci expressing clear concern at the president’s words.

    The footage shows Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reacting to Trump’s reference to “the deep state department” during a briefing last Friday.

    Russia is to close nightclubs and cinemas due to the coronavirus, reports the RIA Novosti news agency.

  213. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    Unhappy that the novel coronavirus represents a serious threat to his revenue flow, Donald Trump has been promising miracle cures from the first moment he appeared. He’s suggested a “really good flu vaccine” would work. It won’t. He’s promised that a vaccine will come along much faster than scientists predict. It won’t. He’s claimed that he’s making available many other drugs that will be “game changers” that will put the coronavirus right back in its box. They will not.

    There absolutely may be drugs out there which are helpful for patients dealing with COVID-19. In particular, there may be drugs that help the immune system so that those infected stand a better chance of not becoming critical cases, fighting for a shrinking pool of ventilators. But the way that Trump has promoted these drugs is as irresponsible as the way he has suppressed and distorted information about the virus itself. […]

    Trump seized on reports that the virus could be fought using chloroquine and related drugs that have long been used in fighting malaria and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. The evidence for this is a small set of papers, only a pair of which had faced peer review, and none of which involved a genuine clinical trial. In essence, these results are similar to ones that happen every time doctors are faced with apparently unwinnable situations and novel diseases—they try novel solutions. These solutions may generate apparent success, but they do so in conditions that are anything but a scientific trial.

    Did the doctors give the drugs only to patients most likely to survive in the first place? Did they ignore the results of patients who didn’t have a favorable outcome? Did they report their hopes rather than their results? All of the above appears to have happened when it comes to chloroquine and the 2019 novel coronavirus.

    None of which means that there is no evidence that this class of drugs might not constitute an effective treatment in some cases of COVID-19. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests—suggests—there is something there. Which is precisely the reason that doctors have been seeking to do the small-scale clinical trials that could generate what’s lacking at this point: real data. […]

    What is absolutely not helpful, and is in fact absolutely, quantifiably harmful, is to have Trump stepping in front of the camera touting any of these treatments over the objections of scientists and doctors sharing the stage because he has “a feeling” about their efficacy. […]

    Trump is promoting the use of a drug when no one has determined an effective dose. No one has determined a protocol. No one has determined if it really works at all. But he has set up a situation in which people are absolutely demanding that their doctors give them chloroquine-based drugs when they are positive for COVID-19. Some are even taking it as a prophylactic, believing it will protect them from getting the disease in the first place.

    As a result, people with a genuine need for chloroquine—those hundreds of thousands in Africa and Asia fighting off malaria, and the millions around the world who are prescribed the drug to help with RA—are facing a shortage. This is real misery, real death, being generated because Trump thinks it’s more important that he have some shiny object to wave at America, than he do the hard work of facing this crisis. […]

    And the desperation he’s creating is leading to situations like this one reported by The Washington Post, in which two people in their 60s listened to Trump and noticed that they already had a chloroquine-based drug on their shelves. So they took it. But this drug, chloroquine phosphate, is used for treating fish in ponds. For humans, it’s simply poison. One of the two people who took a sip of chloroquine phosphate is now dead. The other is where no one wants to be right now—in hospital intensive care.

    That death is solidly in Donald Trump’s lap. And it’s far from the only one. Every person now suffering around the world because they can’t get the medicine necessary for the disease where it is known to be effective, because they are competing with the hype coming from Dr. Don’s Traveling Medicine Show, can lay their misery directly at Trump’s feet.


  214. says

    G liveblog:

    The president of Harvard University, Larry Bacow, and his partner Adele have announced that they have tested positive for Covid-19.

    In a statement issued by Harvard, they said: “Earlier today, Adele and I learned that we tested positive for COVID-19. We started experiencing symptoms on Sunday—first coughs then fevers, chills, and muscle aches—and contacted our doctors on Monday. We were tested yesterday and just received the results a few minutes ago. We wanted to share this news with all of you as soon as possible.

    They add: “Neither of us knows how we contracted the virus, but the good news—if there is any to be had—is that far fewer people crossed our paths recently than is usually the case.”

  215. says

    VP Pence says the federal government shipped 2,000 ventilators to NY today, and will ship 2,000 more from the national stockpile tomorrow. Apparently responding directly to Gov. Cuomo’s press conference.”

    Can someone ask him how many are in the stockpile and why they have to be sent in dribs and drabs? Just send the fucking ventilators they need.

  216. says

    This is what happens when far-right fanatics listen to Trump: “Amid Coronavirus’ Spread, an Evangelical University Welcomes Students Back to Campus”

    Jerry Fallwell Jr. says as many as 5,000 students will congregate soon at Liberty University.

    While schools and college campuses around the country remain closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Liberty University is set to allow the return this week of up to 5,000 students. The plan was announced by the private evangelical university’s scandal–plagued president, Jerry Falwell Jr., an ally of […] Trump. Trump in recent days has dismayed public health experts by announcing he may push for the lifting of restrictions on businesses to reduce economic damage as soon as next week.

    In an interview last week with Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes, Falwell said it is fortunate that COVID-19 “doesn’t have a high mortality rate for young people because they’re the ones that are not worried about it. And I’m not worried about it.” Falwell said healthy people should stay away from those “who are high risk” and elderly people. But he accused the media of overhyping the disease. “Thank God we have the best president we could possibly have to deal with a crisis like this,” he said. “Shame on the media for trying to fan it up and destroy the American economy. They’re willing to destroy the economy just to hurt Trump.”

    That’s the evangelical/conservative viewpoint in a nutshell: they think everyone who is not a follower of the Trump cult is trying to destroy the economy just to hurt Trump. This blind tribalism is the real danger.

    This week, Falwell told the Lynchburg, Va., News & Advance that “we have a responsibility to our students — who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here—to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for and to not interrupt their college life.”

    Falwell told the paper that between several hundred to more than 5,000 students will be allowed to return to campus dorms, though they will continue to do work online rather than in classrooms. (Liberty, based in Lynchburg, Va., already caters to a large majority of its students through online courses.) Falwell says he is barring gatherings of more than 10 students.

    […] the Virginia Department of Health announced new coronavirus cases in the Lynchburg area.

    In an op-ed Monday in the Washington Post, Marybeth Davis Baggett, an English professor at Liberty, called for the university’s board to override Falwell’s “foolhardy decision.”

    “Liberty is not a bubble where the virus would be contained,” Baggett wrote. “Instead, its population comes into regular contact with those in the Lynchburg community, putting their health and lives at risk as well. “It is unconscionable that the leadership of the university is fully implementing Falwell’s politically motivated and rash policy that unnecessarily risks an unmanageable outbreak here in Lynchburg.”


  217. says

    Yikes. Disturbing news from Mexico:

    […] if you’d been listening to Mexico’s president, you’d think that there is no such thing as a coronavirus pandemic—and that while the whole world is taking extreme measures to combat this public health crisis, Mexicans are somehow exempt from the virus. “If we grind to a halt, we don’t do any good,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a video message Sunday. “Let’s keep going about our lives as normal.” […]

    “Don’t stop going out—we’re still only in phase one,” López Obrador said. “If you have the means to do it, continue taking your family out to restaurants and diners. That’s what will strengthen the economy.” […]

    Last week, in a series of events in Mexico, thousands of people gathered in the state of Guerrero, and López Obrador was seen shaking hands and hugging people. A video of the president kissing a young girl on her cheek and receiving kisses from women in a crowd of supporters drew criticism at the same time the World Health Organization was encouraging social distancing. During one of the president’s daily press briefings, a reporter asked López Obrador how he would protect Mexico, and he responded by pulling religious amulets from his wallet and saying those were his protective shields.

    Still, there seems to be a disconnect between the president’s public messaging and what his administration is doing. The Department of Education closed public schools nationwide (public and private), the top official in Mexico’s capital asked residents of Mexico City to try to stay home a little more, and the health department started promoting social distancing with an animated heroine cheekily named Susana Distancia. […]

    let’s hope that López Obrador changes his tune sooner rather than later—and publicly recognizes the risk of pretending that life can and should go on as normal.


  218. says

    You pick the 26,000 people who are going to dies in New York:

    “The president said it’s a war … then act like it,” Cuomo said, raising his voice during a morning news conference at the Javits Center in Manhattan. “They’re doing the supplies? Here’s my question: Where are they?”

    If more ventilators aren’t sent within weeks, Cuomo told the feds, “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die.”

  219. says

    Oh, FFS.

    […] Trump on Tuesday said he hopes to have the country’s economy back up and running by Easter — Sunday, April 12 — his most concrete goal to date for easing off restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

    Trump in a Fox News virtual town hall doubled down on his push to reopen businesses in a matter of weeks in order to reinvigorate the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

    “It’s not built to shut down. Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy. They don’t want to be locked in a house or an apartment or some space,” Trump said […]

    You can destroy a country this way by closing it down where it literally goes from being the most prosperous,” Trump said, remarking on the strength of the U.S. economy just three weeks ago before the coronavirus started to have severe impacts in the United States.

    The president on Tuesday repeatedly invoked the common influenza to justify his thinking, arguing the country is not “turned off” because of the thousands of deaths from that disease. But public health experts, including those working on the White House coronavirus task force, have warned the comparison is not analogous and that the coronavirus is significantly more contagious. […]


  220. says

    From Bill Gates:

    […] “There really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts,’” Gates said in an interview with TED Tuesday. “It’s very irresponsible for somebody to suggest that we can have the best of both worlds.” […]

    “The economic effect of this is really dramatic. Nothing like this has ever happened to the economy in our lifetimes,” Gates said. “But bringing the economy back … that’s more of a reversible thing than bringing people back to life. So we’re going to take the pain in the economic dimension — huge pain — in order to minimize the pain in the diseases-and-death dimension.” […]

    And Gates has tried to cast himself as an optimist. He has said that the social distancing measures might need to last as little as six weeks, but said that “we have no choice,” despite the economic impacts.

    “It’s disastrous for the economy,” Gates said. But “the sooner you do it in a tough way, the sooner you can undo it and go back to normal.”

  221. says

    From Wonkette:

    Greetings from one of the states Rachel Maddow keeps mentioning when she talks about places where the governor isn’t doing much of a goddamn thing to stop the spread of coronavirus. (Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, Wyoming. We are in the “Tennessee” one, very close to its border with the “Mississippi” one. Two-fer!)

    The Idaho governor still ain’t doin’ shit. The Missouri governor finally closed the restaurants, so that’s cool, we guess. The Texas lieutenant governor is just suggesting that maybe grandma and grandpa have to die of coronavirus for the greater good Trump’s economy. Libertarian-type bid’ness guy Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is about to get around to gettin’ around to doin’ something, we reckon, even though a couple thousand doctors in the state have already asked him to please do a shelter-in-place order. The response is much smarter in Kentucky, one state north, where the governor is a Democrat.

    But don’t worry about us, at least for now. Tennessee’s blue cities are taking the lead over the state government, just like the blue states are taking the lead over the federal government. Nashville (Davidson County), where the outbreak has been most concentrated so far, closed the bars a while back, and there’s now a shelter-in-place/”safer at home” order in effect. In Memphis (Shelby County), the “safer at home” order goes into effect at 6:00 p.m. today, and all the other municipalities in the county seem to be working in concert, announcing their own orders not long after Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced ours.

    But just 15 minutes south of us in Mississippi, there’s a different governor, and his name is Tater Tate Reeves, and he is a huge fucking idiot. […]

    Tater ain’t doin’ no statewide lockdown order because here’s why: “Mississippi’s never going to be China. Mississippi’s never going to be North Korea,” Reeves responded. He added that “when looking at the numbers China’s putting out, claiming that they have no new cases over a period of time—I’m not entirely sure we can trust that data.” […] “We don’t want to make any decisions that would ultimately do more harm than good,” Reeves said.

    […] while there is ample reason to be skeptical of China the lockdown does seem to have worked, at least so far, according to global health experts. (No new cases in Wuhan province in the last five days, reportedly.) […]

    Tater may not be protecting his people with science, but he is definitely leading prayer time on Facebook: […]

    It’s not that Mississippi is some protected island unto itself here. Its numbers aren’t huge yet. But just next door to Mississippi’s south is Louisiana, which is experiencing the fastest-growing coronavirus outbreak in the country. The hospitals in New Orleans are overrun, and may experience “systemic collapse” in the coming days, according to an ER doctor Vice spoke to. Memphis’s coronavirus outbreak was at least partially (and originally) seeded by people who went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Same goes for cases in Texas and Arkansas and probably much further than that. […]

    It’s also impossible to understand, for those not intimately familiar, how much the culture of southern Louisiana is connected with the culture of southern Mississippi is connected with the culture of the Misssissippi Delta is connected with the culture of Memphis. There’s gonna be a lot of spread. […]

    Louisiana (Democratic) Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide stay-at-home order. In Tennessee, the mayors are doing what the governor won’t, which, to be fair, is also happening in Mississippi.

    But not Tater! […]

    Now if you’ll just sit there and keep your coughing to a minimum, Tater would like to read you another verse from his Bible.

  222. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    […] Trump now suggests Americans effectively defy stay-in-place directives from their governors despite the direct advice of Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Trump declared, “If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world . . . and let’s keep it shut for a couple of years. We can’t do that.” Trump even acknowledged that Fauci objects. “No, he doesn’t not agree,” Trump said. Out of whole cloth, Trump invented a new claim: Continuing orders to stay at home would result in more suicides than the deaths caused by sending people out to infect others. There is zero evidence for this.

    Is this Trump projecting, as usual? Is he contemplating suicide? Or would he be contemplating suicide if he didn’t get to bluster and preen on prime time TV every day? Or is he contemplating suicide if Mnuchin fails to hand him a pile of government money to cover his loses at Mar-a-Lago?

    […] When I said Trump is more concerned about economic numbers than human lives, I was not exaggerating. His uninformed, perhaps self-interested declaration (six of seven of his most lucrative properties have been forced to close) runs contrary to science and common sense. Tom Inglesby, head of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security tweeted out his warning, which read in part:

    In last 24 hrs there’ve been prominent US voices calling for a stop to social distancing, citing rationale that they’re worse than impact of COVID itself. It’s worth looking very closely at that claim, where we are in US COVID epidemic and what happens if we stop.

    There continue to be big diagnostic limitations. Shortages in reagents, swabs. Don’t have rapid diagnostics in many hospitals yet, so it can be days before doctors and nurses can find out if a pt in front of them has COVID.

    We don’t have capacity to diagnose many of the COVID cases that are not sick enough to be in the hospital, so those numbers aren’t counted in our national totals.

    Inglesby explained that social distancing must be given time to work. “To drop all these measures now would be to accept that COVID [patients] will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear,” he explained. “Many models report that health care systems will be completely overwhelmed/collapse by the peak of cases if major social distancing is not put in place.”

    Inglesby continued, “Anyone advising the end of social distancing now, needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that. COVID would spread widely, rapidly, terribly, could kill potentially millions in the [year] ahead with huge social and economic impact across the country.”

    Trump’s anti-scientific assertions and encouragement to disregard scientific advice threaten the lives of thousands if not millions of Americans. But perhaps the problem is that the president simply does not care. For him, it’s always about money — primarily his.

    Washington Post link

  223. says

    From the Washington Post editorial board:

    […] It is smart to think ahead about returning to normal. But the impatience with social distancing expressed by […] Trump and others raises the possibility the president might ease off too soon. This would be a huge mistake. A hard road lies ahead; it is not yet time to exit.

    Mr. Trump tweeted his frustration late Sunday night, saying he did not want to “let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” and declaring he would decide “as to which way we want to go” at the end of his designated 15-day period of social distancing. Then Monday evening, Mr. Trump said, “America will again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A lot sooner.” He signaled his intention to relax his guidelines to limit damage to the economy. Earlier, his former economic adviser Gary Cohn called for discussing “a date when the economy can turn back on.” Lloyd Blankfein, the former chief of Goldman Sachs, proposed that “within a very few weeks [we] let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”

    This is an understandable goal, but if done wrong it will boomerang. The virus is highly contagious. Separating people by social distancing while isolating the sick helps break the chains of transmission and spares hospitals a disastrous overload, at least until a treatment or vaccine is found. In the United States, social distancing has been in place only a week or two. If the restrictions are relaxed now and people start to congregate again, the consequence might be a second explosion of infections and death.

    Judging by China’s experience, this first wave may take 10 weeks or more. Certainly the business leaders who are thinking about how to move on are right; someone should be planning for the reentry of workers into the economy. If our health-care systems survive the first wave and are properly supplied, and testing is widely available, then adjustments can be made to the social distancing regimen to help get people working again. Some careful thought should be given to how those who have recovered and show immunity can work without spreading infection to those who are still vulnerable. It will require a surge in medical supplies and testing; someone should be gearing up for that, even as others manage today’s health crisis.

    But at this stage, it would be wrong to relax the guidelines in pursuit of the chimera of economic rebound.


  224. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 364

    I have a feeling that nightly news just isn’t covering how badly Trump has shat the bed on this matter.

  225. says

    Jonathan Myerson Katz:

    I don’t know how to tell folks this but in two weeks everyone who even gestured toward the “maybe we should end the social distancing now” argument is going to be a pariah.

    Everything that’s happened so far? You staying at home? The toilet paper jokes/panic? The first few positive tests? That is part of “before.”

    All of these arguments will look very different in the “after.”

    In disasters there are stages. There’s the event. There’s relief. Recovery. Reconstruction.

    We’re debating recovery. But the event hasn’t even happened yet.

    If this is a hurricane, it’s just coming on shore. Only the first gentle wave of the quake has hit.

    All disasters are political. This one more so because it reflects on one man and his party’s incompetence and corruption.

    But people trying to game it through the view of an election are kidding themselves. The virus does not give a shit about elections. It just wants to kill.

    Whatever they tell you, if you have any choice in the matter at all, stay your ass home.

    If you don’t have a choice … I’m sorry. Let us know what we can do to help.

    (Slight correction: Viruses don’t “want” to kill but to replicate. They tend to become less lethal over long periods of time because killing a large number of hosts makes them less likely to persist.)

  226. says

    BREAKING: Terrence McNally, one of America’s great playwrights, who won Tony Awards for ‘Love! Valour! Compassion!’ and ‘Master Class’ has died of complications from coronavirus at age 81, his representative says.”

  227. says

    Trump says:

    Easter Sunday is very special to me [bullshit], and wouldn’t it be great if all the churches were packed on Easter Sunday.

  228. says

    G liveblog:

    Speculation is continuing to mount in Brazil over whether its far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has in fact been tested positive for coronavirus.

    On 13 March, there were reports – initially confirmed and then subsequently denied by one of Bolsonaro’s sons – that an initial test on president Bolsonaro had come back positive. More than 20 members of a delegation Bolsonaro led to the United States to meet Donald Trump have been infected, including his ambassador in Washington and two members of his cabinet.

    The military hospital where Bolsonaro and others were tested, in Brazil’s capital Brasília, was this week forced to hand over a list of names of the patients it had treated, amid concerns Brazil’s leader might in fact have tested positive.

    But a leading Brazilian newspaper, the Folha de São Paulo, reported that two names had been omitted for reasons of official “secrecy”.

    Now, another newspaper, the Correio Braziliense, has published a report claiming insiders within the presidential palace believe it is possible those two patients “could be Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro and first lady”.

    The newspaper claimed all discussion of the list of names was now a “taboo” within the palace. “There is an order against revealing any information about the tests of the president and his wife ‘for national security reasons’,” the newspaper claims.

    Bolsonaro has so far refused to make the results of his tests public but is now facing growing calls to do so from political rivals and members of the public.

  229. says

    KG @364, I’m not sure a lot of people are thinking critically about it all. They just see Trump on TV every day giving a press briefing and they conclude from that that he is doing a good job.

    It’s a shame.

  230. says

    Actual words spoken today by Hair Furor:

    Usually we’ll have 50 governors that will call it the same time. I think we are doing very well. But it’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, “Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.” We’re doing a great job. Like in New York where we’re building, as I said, four hospitals, four medical centers. We’re literally building hospitals and medical centers. And then I hear that there’s a problem with ventilators. Well we sent them ventilators. And they could have had 15,000 or 16,000 – all they had to do was order them two years ago. But they decided not to do it. They can’t blame us for that.

    Governors have to treat the Orange Toddler well in order to get what they need to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

    And, wtf?, two years ago? What was happening then that would have prompted Cuomo to order ventilators. Cuomo said that needs 30,000 ventilators and that the federal government send him 400.

    Trump feels that he is not being stroked enough.

  231. says

    Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles in Rancho Palos Verdes, California seems to have spread coronavirus.

    Over the last couple of weeks, the places Trump owns seem to have become a hotbed for people from all over the world who subsequently test positive for COVID-19. According to the Los Angeles Times, two weeks ago a 70th birthday party in a “disco style” was thrown at the Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The event took place in an upstairs ballroom at the golf club and celebrated the birthday of the former mayor of Rancho Palos Verdes, Susan Brooks. After the celebration, she and three other guests tested positive for COVID-19.

    In total, five people from Brooks’ birthday bash have tested positive for COVID-19, while 11 others say they have been feeling ill but have not yet been tested. The party took place on March 8. Brooks—a fixture of the Southern California political scene—and her daughter say they asked Los Angeles County supervisor (and friend of the family) Janice Hahn about whether or not they should still have the party. She reportedly felt that in the period of time before shelter in place orders were given, as long as no guests who were feeling ill came to the party, everything would be fine. […]


    Five people positive for coronavirus so far … and 11 more feeling ill, but they have not yet been tested.

  232. says

    Craig Spencer:

    We were too late to stop this virus. Full stop. But we can slow it’s spread. The virus can’t infect those it never meets. Stay inside. Social distancing is the only thing that will save us now. I don’t care as much about the economic impact as I do about our ability to save lives.

    You might hear people saying it isn’t real. It is.

    You might hear people saying it isn’t bad. It is.

    You might hear people saying it can’t take you down. It can.

    I survived Ebola. I fear #COVIDー19.

    Do your part. Stay home. Stay safe.

    And every day I’ll come to work for you.

  233. says

    Follow-up to comment 375.

    From Wonkette:

    During Donald Trump’s Fox News town hall on the coronavirus outbreak, the Great Man made a shocking accusation: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to put your Nana in front of a DEATH PANEL because Cuomo was too cheap to buy enough ventilators for the state’s hospitals a few years back. Shocking! And Trump even had some serious journalism to cite: The Gateway Pundit, the idiot conspiracy site run by Jim Hoft, the Stupidest Man on the Internet.

    Ah, so that’s where Trump got that particular hard nugget of weapons-grade stupid.

    Here’s Trump, very definitely “not blaming” Cuomo or anything, just reading a Gateway Pundit headline word for word: […]

    From Brian Tyler Cohen:

    Holy shit. Trump just accused Cuomo of establishing “death panels” – an insane, debunked, bullshit Fox News conspiracy theory – AT THE SAME TIME HE’S LITERALLY TRYING TO GET PEOPLE BACK ONTO THE STREETS AMID A PANDEMIC WHICH WILL COST THOUSANDS OF LIVES.

    More from Wonkette:

    […] Trump tried to hand a printout of the piece to Fox anchor Bill Hemmer, who didn’t take it, either because of social distancing or a fear that anything Trump touches turns to shit. Cuomo had criticized the feds earlier today for only sending 400 ventilators to New York, saying, “You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators!? What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators?” Well Trump had his number!

    But he should have ordered the ventilators, and he had a choice, he had a chance because right here, I just got this out, that he refused to order 15,000 ventilators. […]

    It says “New York Governor Cuomo rejected buying recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for the pandemic, for a pandemic, established death panels, and lotteries instead”

    Yep, that’s verbatim from America’s most reliable news source with ads every other paragraph: […]

    it was a retread and big blockquote from a syndicated column by health-conspiracy weirdo Betsy McCaughey, the genius who made up “Death Panels” back when Barack Obama was trying to kill grandma Suzie with socialism. Which is far worse than Donald Trump trying to kill Grandma Suzie for the stock market, because at least that’s capitalism.

    The point here is that you’ve got a couple different levels of Excitable Hyperventilating Bullshit Merchants at work here — McCaughey’s original bullshit filtered through the Stupidest Site On the Internet. […]

    From the Gotham Gazette:

    In 2015, the [New York Department of Health’s] New York State Task Force on Life and the Law developed guidelines for ventilators in a influenza pandemic, which [Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard] Zucker described as “a foreseeable threat” in the report’s introduction. While the task force’s guidelines were designed with a “severe pandemic” in mind, the DOH spokesperson said that it is not a binding policy document steering the state’s response, though it has been well circulated and read recently within the Department.

    The 272-page document lays out guidelines for triaging available ventilators in a severe pandemic, with separate sections devoted to care for adults, children, and babies, with an emphasis on saving the most lives possible given a limited number of ventilators, and identifying factors that would weigh against treatment, such as “immediate or near-immediate mortality even with aggressive therapy,” for instance.

    The Gazette piece also notes, almost as if were writing a pre-buttal to McCaughey, that “Advanced age, disability, [and] ‘social worth,’ are not exclusion criteria under the guidelines.” […]


    More good info, and well-written commentary, at the link.

  234. says

    Meant to include this in comment 382:

    In conclusion, Donald Trump hasn’t screwed up the coronavirus response. Andrew Cuomo did, five years ago, and Trump is very, very disappointed that Cuomo didn’t act when he still had time.

  235. says

    Bolsonaro just went on national TV and urged people to get on with their lives because Covid-19 is just a little cold… #ForaBolsonaro”

    BREAKING: Addressing the nation, Pres. Bolsonaro blamed the media for creating a ‘hysterical’ mood in Brazil. He said only 60+ people are in high-risk group. That is, except for him, thanks to his ‘athleticism’.”

    As Bolsonaro speaks, the pots and pans bang across Brazil.”

    Bolsonaro: ‘In my case, with my history as an athlete, if I were to catch the virus, it wouldn’t affect me, it would be a like a little flu’.

    Streets of Brazil: ‘Fascist!’ ‘Bolsonaro out!'”

  236. says

    Thanks for that link, Saad @ #389. I wasn’t aware of the degree of negligence in Nicaragua.

    From the Guardian liveblog (linked @ #388 above) (support the Guardian if you can):

    According to the World Health Organization, Italy could reach its peak number of coronavirus cases on Sunday, reports my colleague Lorenzo Tondo.

    The death toll from coronavirus in Italy rose by 743 to 6,820 on Tuesday, dampening hopes that a slowdown in the rate of deaths on Sunday and Monday would follow a trend. However, the rate of new infections slowed for a third day, rising by 3,612, compared with 3,780 new cases on Monday.

    ‘’This is an extremely positive factor,’’ told Radio Capital on Wednesday, Ranieri Guerra, WHO assistant director general. ‘’In some regions we are close to the falling point of the curve and therefore probably the peak could be reached this week and then fall. I believe that this week and the first days of the next will be crucial.’’

    Britain’s Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus and is displaying mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health”, Clarence House has said.

    US agrees $2 trillion emergency bill

    The White House and Senate leaders of both major political parties announced agreement on a $2 trillion emergency bill to rush aid to businesses, workers and a health care system hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

    French government scientific advisers have recommended a total of six weeks’ lockdown. France is carrying out 9,000 tests for the virus every day. The country’s health authority has said this will be increased by an additional 10,000 by the end of this week.

  237. says

    Chris Hayes: “Lots of focus on NY right now – rightly! – but NY has also run more tests than any other state. The news about ICU capacity in Atlanta and New Orleans (not to mention Detroit) would seem to indicate they are, possibly, at somewhat similar points in the curve.”

    Rachel Maddow talked about this last night as well.

  238. says

    MSNBC just showed people in Vancouver cheering the healthcare workers from their homes, which they do at the same time each night, when the shifts change. People have been doing this in a number of places – Italy, Spain, France (as blf has discussed),… I don’t understand why people in US cities aren’t doing the same thing.

  239. says

    G liveblog:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has delayed a public vote on constitutional amendments that will allow him to stay in power until 2036 due to the coronavirus outbreak in Russia, writes Andrew Roth in Moscow.

    The plebiscite, which was seen as an important public endorsement of Putin’s ability to remain in power after 2024, were scheduled for 22 April. A new date will be set later, Putin said during a nationwide address. The vote does not have any legal impact and the constitutional amendments have already been accepted into law.

    The announcement came as the Russian president rolled out a series of emergency measures to limit the health and economic impact of the spread of the virus in Russia . While asking Russians to stay home, the Russian president stopped short of issuing a mandatory quarantine or state of emergency.

    Speaking on television, the Russian president announced a nationwide weeklong holiday in order to slow the spread of coronavirus through Russia. The holiday would extend from 28 March until 5 April, he said. Workers across the country would be guaranteed to receive their salaries, he added.

    He also announced a series of economic initiatives, debt relief for those diagnosed with coronavirus, support for the unemployed, additional benefits for families with small children, a tax holiday for small businesses, and a moratorium on some bankruptcies.

    In a direct appeal to Russians, Putin said: “Don’t think this can’t happen to me. It can happen to anyone.” He told the country to stay home.

    The address came one day after a senior Russian official told Putin that government tallies underestimated the number of coronavirus victims in the country and that the Kremlin needed to take urgent measures to address the virus’ spread before it turned into a crisis.

    … [see #334 above – SC]

    Official statistics have now revealed a significant acceleration in the spread of coronavirus in Russia. A record 163 new cases confirmed by officials on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to 658 cases. Most of the new infections were identified in Moscow, which posted a jump of 120, or 43%, overnight. One death has been attributed to the disease.

    Russia’s parliament on Wednesday said that it would review legislation that could put quarantine breakers in jail for a period of 3 to 7 years. Currently, those who return from abroad or exhibit symptoms of sickness are required to self-isolate for 14 days. And those found guilty of intentionally infecting others could even face terrorism charges, a Russian lawmaker said.

    “In the event of intentional causing of one or more deaths as a result of the deliberate violation of sanitary and epidemiological regulations, irrespective of the intentions, such an action will be defined as terrorism, hooliganism or sabotage,” Russian lawmaker Pavel Krasheninnikov told reporters.

    Everything from Putin sounds so ominous. This is a regime known for poisoning critics and opponents.

  240. says

    Trump’s feelings are still hurt, so Trump is still not speaking to Nancy Pelosi. In a time of crisis, Trump is not speaking to House Speaker.

    From CNN:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump have not spoken in more than five months, according to a Pelosi aide, something that’s even more remarkable given the crisis facing the country and the massive rescue packages moving through Congress. The two have not spoken since Pelosi stood up and left at an October 16 meeting after Trump railed at her and insulted her as a “third-grade politician.” Pelosi later said Trump had a “meltdown.”

    From the Daily Beast:

    Two senior Trump administration officials described a president who, out of an intense bitterness toward the House Speaker, has shuddered at the prospect of being in the same room with her during the ongoing public-health crisis and economic reverberations.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Around the same time, CNBC’s Eamon Javers told MSNBC that Trump won’t get in a room with Pelosi because he’s still personally wounded over his impeachment.

    There appear to be some workarounds. The Speaker has, for example, negotiated directly with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin without incident.

    But what does it say about the president’s capacity for leadership that he can’t bring himself to communicate with Pelosi, even in the midst of a crisis?

  241. says

    Schumer makes sure Trump’s business can’t benefit from rescue package

    Could Trump’s business benefit from the economic rescue package? Democratic leaders made sure it won’t.

    […] “Will you commit publicly that none of that taxpayer money will go towards your own personal properties?” a reporter asked. Trump’s answer meandered for a long while, and included an unfortunate amount of whining and self-pity, before he eventually said, “I’ve learned, let’s just see what happens because we have to save some of these great companies.”

    The Republican added, “I have no idea what they’re talking about with regard to the one element. Everything is changing, just so you understand. It’s all changing. But I have no idea.”

    Those waiting for Trump to say, simply, “No, my business won’t benefit” were left wanting.

    But for Democrats who took note of the exchange, this wasn’t just an annoyance; it was also an opportunity to address a problem before it occurs. With this in mind, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) sent out this announcement shortly after reaching a bipartisan agreement on an economic rescue package.

    Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has secured a provision in the agreement that will prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs. The children, spouses and in-laws of the aforementioned principals are also included in this prohibition.

    In an on-air interview this morning, CNN’s John Berman asked the New York senator, “In terms of the president’s own companies, I understand there is some restrictions there.”

    Schumer replied, “We wrote a provision, not just the president, but any major figure in government — cabinet, Senate, congressmen — if they have majority control [in a company], they can’t get grants or loans and that makes sense. Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law.”


    Schumer’s foundational premise is that those who write the law should not benefit financially from that law. That must be such an alien concept to Trump. He would not be able to process it.

  242. says

    Trump, classy as ever, is aiming some of his clumsy sarcasm at Mitt Romney:

    On Wednesday morning, […] Trump congratulated Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for not getting infected with COVID-19 in a tweet dripping with sarcasm.

    “This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak,” Trump tweeted. “He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!” [RINO=Republican In Name Only]

    Romney announced late Tuesday afternoon that he had tested negative for the coronavirus but would remain in quarantine. He took the test after Sen. Rand Paul, whom Romney had sat next to for “extended periods in recent days,” came down with the illness.

    Trump has been raking Romney over the coals ever since the Utah lawmaker broke ranks with the rest of the GOP Senate caucus and voted to impeach the President for abuse of power in February.

    TPM link

  243. says

    Senate Leaders Reach Bipartisan Deal On Sweeping Emergency Coronavirus Package

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced early Wednesday morning that they had secured a deal on a $2 trillion response bill for the COVID-19 outbreak.

    “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic,” McConnell said in a statement. “We’re going to pass this legislation later today.”

    Schumer described the bill as “largest rescue package in American history.”

    “Like all compromises, this bill is far from perfect,” he said during a speech on the Senate floor. “But we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage, and because many Democrats and Republicans were willing to do the serious and hard work, the bill is much better off than where it started.”

    Schumer released a number of details on the plan, including four months of unemployment insurance instead of three. The deal also prohibits “businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.”

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a key negotiator in Congress’ coronavirus relief package on behalf of the Trump administration, told the New York Times that President Donald Trump would sign the bill.

    “I’ve spoken to the President many times today, and he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have,” Mnuchin said.

    White House legislative affairs chief Eric Ueland told Politico that the full text of the bill will be published later on Wednesday.

  244. says

    Walmart Was Almost Charged Criminally Over Opioids. Trump Appointees Killed the Indictment.

    […] just before Halloween in 2018, a group of federal prosecutors and agents from Texas arrived in Washington. For almost two years, they’d been investigating the opioid dispensing practices of Walmart, the largest company in the world. They had amassed what they viewed as highly damning evidence only to face a major obstacle: top Trump appointees at the Department of Justice.

    The prosecution team had come to Washington to try to save its case. Joe Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, led the group, which included Heather Rattan, an over-20-year veteran of the office who had spent much of her career prosecuting members of drug cartels.

    They first went to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s headquarters to meet the acting administrator, Uttam Dhillon. There Rattan laid out the evidence. Opioids dispensed by Walmart pharmacies in Texas had killed customers who had overdosed. The pharmacists who dispensed those opioids had told the company they didn’t want to fill the prescriptions because they were coming from doctors who were running pill mills. They pleaded for help and guidance from Walmart’s corporate office.

    Investigators had obtained records of similar cries for help from Walmart pharmacists all over the country: […] They reported hundreds of thousands of suspicious or inappropriate opioid prescriptions. […]

    In response to these alarms, Walmart compliance officials did not take corporate-wide action to halt the flow of opioids. Instead, they repeatedly admonished pharmacists that they could not cut off any doctor entirely. They could only evaluate each prescription on an individual basis. And they went further. An opioid compliance manager told an executive in an email, gathered during the inquiry and viewed by ProPublica, that Walmart’s focus should be on “driving sales.”

    After they finished their presentation, Dhillon sat back in his chair and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ,” according to five people familiar with the investigation. “Why aren’t we talking about this as a criminal case?”

    That’s precisely what had occurred seven months earlier: Rattan had informed Walmart that she was preparing to indict the corporation for violating the Controlled Substances Act. […]

    Before the Texas prosecutors could file their case, however, Walmart escalated concerns to high-ranking officials at the DOJ, who then intervened. Brown was ordered to stand down. On Aug. 31, 2018, Trump officials officially informed Walmart that the DOJ would decline to prosecute the company, according to a letter from Walmart’s lawyer that lays out the chronology of the case.

    But the Texas prosecutors hadn’t given up. Now, two months later, they still thought they had a chance […]

    Once Walmart’s headquarters knew its pharmacists were raising alarms about suspicious prescriptions, but the compliance department continued to allow — even push — them to fill them, well, that made the company guilty, the Texas prosecutors contended.

    This was not a question of a few rogue employees, Rattan explained. Walmart had a national problem. […]

    Rosenstein’s assistant entered the room to say he had a call. He left. The prosecutors’ push to persuade Rosenstein to revive the criminal case had failed.

    […] the Texas prosecutors focused on bringing criminal charges against individual employees, as Rosenstein and other Trump DOJ officials directed them to do. But later, when the prosecutors sought to indict a mid-level Walmart manager, the Trump officials blocked that, too.

    That left potential civil claims. After the meeting with Rosenstein, Brian Benczkowski, the head of the criminal division, had told Brown, “You have a whopper of a civil case,” according to four people familiar with the investigation.

    But the civil case, too, was stymied by Trump appointees in the DOJ who continued to side with Walmart.

    In its dealings with the DOJ, Walmart pursued a classic strategy. It relied on Jones Day, an influential law firm that has salted officials throughout the Trump administration. […]

    And Walmart and Jones Day added a Trumpian tactic: At a moment when the president had established a habit of attacking the investigators in his own government, the company followed a similarly aggressive approach. Walmart lawyers complained to Washington about the Texas prosecutors, accusing them of seeking to “embarrass” the company while using the threat of criminal charges to extort a larger civil fine. […]

    Walmart’s ability to go over the heads of the Texas office left the U.S. attorney’s team profoundly frustrated […]

    The investigations of Walmart have not been previously reported. This account is based on hundreds of pages of Walmart internal emails and investigative documents, correspondence between the company’s attorneys and the Justice Department, and interviews with nine people familiar with the investigation. […] The DOJ declined to make anyone available for interviews and did not answer an extensive list of questions.

    […] Even as Trump’s DOJ was preventing its own prosecutors from getting tough on Walmart, the Trump administration told the public it was confronting the nation’s opioid crisis. […] (This month, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon appeared in the White House’s Rose Garden to pledge the company’s help in combating the coronavirus.)

    […] Walmart has the fifth-highest pharmacy revenue in the country and was the fifth-largest opioid distributor in Texas from 2006-14, according to the DEA. […]

    The Texas prosecutors broadened their investigation […] Between 2011 to 2017, they discovered, Walmart pharmacists repeatedly filled prescriptions that they worried were not for legitimate medical purposes, including large doses of opioids and mixtures of drugs the DEA considered red flags for abuse. Walmart pharmacists not just in Texas but in Maine, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Kansas and Washington state raised alarms to the company’s national compliance department about doctors.

    Sometimes, these pharmacists requested permission to stop filling opioid prescriptions for certain doctors. […]

    for much of this period, Walmart was operating under a secret settlement, known as a Memorandum of Agreement, with the DEA, reached in 2011 and running four years. (The existence of the MOA has not been previously reported.) According to that agreement, a Walmart pharmacy in California had been filling prescriptions “for other than a legitimate medical purpose and/or outside the usual course of professional practice in violation of federal and state law” and had “dispensed controlled substances to individuals that [the pharmacy] knew or should have known were diverting the controlled substances.”

    As part of the agreement, in which Walmart did not admit or deny wrongdoing, the company agreed to install national procedures to identify bad prescribers and prescriptions not written for legitimate medical purposes and report them quickly to the DEA. […]

    Prosecutors believed that Walmart was not fulfilling the terms of its agreement with the DEA. […]

    Walmart had a powerful team. Karen Hewitt, the partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s California region, was the company’s lead outside lawyer. […]

    Most of the interactions between the government and the Jones Day lawyers were politely choreographed. Hewitt and Balfe were the picture of affability. […]

    The two sides largely agreed on the facts, but differed completely on whether they justified a criminal charge. […]

    The Walmart lawyers outlined the risks to shareholders, employees and the public that could result from a criminal prosecution. But the prosecutors were unmoved. […]

    The country was in a crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people dead and major companies poisoning people like drug dealers, as the prosecution team saw it. To the prosecutors, Walmart’s attitude was not only that it hadn’t done anything wrong, but that Walmart didn’t even need to take the prosecutors seriously. […]

    On Nov. 7, the new deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, summoned the Texas prosecutorial team again to Washington for another meeting, […] The team reprised its presentation of the evidence that it had delivered to Rosenstein about a year earlier. Joe Brown, the U.S. attorney, asked Rosen: “Can you point out what’s wrong with our evidence?” Rosen did not respond.

    In recent weeks, the DOJ’s inaction has begun to raise concerns on Capitol Hill. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Dhillon and Barr expressing “concern regarding the Department’s inability to hold prescription opioid distributors and chain pharmacies accountable.” A hearing may follow.

    Meanwhile, four years after the investigation first began, negotiations on a civil settlement between the government and Walmart continue. […]

    Much more at the link.

  245. says

    G liveblog:

    Spain’s deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo has tested positive for coronavirus, according to the BBC. It comes after she was hospitalised on Sunday with a respiratory infection.

  246. says

    In a show of force, 4 major unions all endorsed Biden in the past 10 days, bolstering his standing as the de facto Democratic nominee & sending a message to his Sanders that the primary is basically over.”

    Politico link atl. National Education Association, United Food and Commercial Workers, American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

    The last of the large public unions, Service Employees International Union, hasn’t yet endorsed. But according to SEIU officials, it’s not because of a division in their ranks or a fear of weighing in; it’s because the coronavirus is requiring it to focus on the safety of its members, many of whom work in health care, custodial, child care and building-security services.

    The AFL-CIO also has not yet endorsed, which is relatively common in presidential primaries, meaning the past four major endorsements Biden landed are likely the last to come in the race.

  247. blf says

    Here in France, the Covid-19 mandatory self-quarantine restrictions were enhanced starting yesterday(?); e.g., a more strict and precise definition of outdoor exercise, and prohibiting stooopid things some eejits were apparently doing (e.g., stopping to chat and/or not social distancing whilst out shopping), and so on; also, too many repeat offenses can result in fines of thousands of euros and/or jail. In addition, the mandatory form — a self-declaration you must carry with to justify why you are outside and/or not in self-quarantine — has changed, in-line with (and to clarify) the enhanced restrictions. Also, nation-wide, the outdoor markets are now closed (they were already closed locally).

    Today, for the first time since before the mandatory self-quarantine was imposed, I went out: I had estimated I’d go out last Friday-ish, but decided I wouldn’t need to until today-ish. Locally, the measures seem to be followed very well (in fact, I only had one problem, an elderly man in the shop wasn’t social distancing at all, everyone else was quite sensible). There was a guard at the door to control the number of people inside (but no hand sanitising), with a nicely social-distanced (small) queue outside, and clearly a reduced number of both staff and customers inside. Very few signs of panic buying — no eggs, not much rice, a few raided pallets of rice(? dried pasta?), but except for the one metre spaced tape markings on the floor and the staff wearing masks & gloves, it just seemed like a quiet afternoon.

    Locally, Wednesday afternoon is one of the times when the small shops are usually closed. That seemed to be case, neither of the two nearest boulangeries were open, nor was the near-by boucher (none of those are normally open, so this was not unexpected). That, in fact, is one reason why I decided to venture out today: I’d read there is supposedly a maximum of one (shopping?) trip per day, and whilst I am unsure that is true, figured I’d get as many essentials as I could (that I need) today at the supermarket, and hit the small shops (as are open) tomorrow. Another reason is it was raining and cold (c.9℃), so I guessed there would be very few people out. (Plus a vague hope the rain might wash away any lingering virus (I have no idea if it could, would, or did).)

    I didn’t see any police checking papers, and indeed didn’t see any police at all, except for a passing patrol car. A few other cars, and a local bus, were all the traffic, and almost no pedestrians.

    Sadly, I did catch myself touching my face twice (and so probably other times). I did try to wear a balaclava in-case-of face-touching, but found mine no longer fit! (And then recalled there is, I think, some sort of a law about face covers (Muslim clothing ban).) Washed thoroughly (including a shower) when I got home, and the clothes are waiting to be cleaned.

    The shop, incidentally, has exclusive hours for older people. In addition, health-care workers have priority (both in the queue to get in, and in the queue to check-out). This is now apparently fairly common here in France, albeit I don’t think it’s part of the enhanced restrictions.

    Whilst nothing has been announced (last I checked), the mandatory self-quarantine, which is due to expire in about a week, is widely anticipated to be extended. There are some reports that the experts are advising it needs to be about six weeks (not clear if that is the extension (for a total of eight weeks) or the total), which seems plausible based on what is known (from Big China, S.Korea, and maybe now, Italy) of the epidemiological curve.

  248. says

    KOUW (Puget Sound):

    KUOW is monitoring White House briefings for the latest news on the coronavirus — and we will continue to share all news relevant to Washington State with our listeners.

    However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.

  249. says

    Science cannot be bullied into submission (though Trump keeps trying)

    “Told that a vaccine will take a while and the unproven treatments aren’t reliable, Trump now appears eager to retreat from even trying to solve the problem.”

    A few weeks ago, as the severity of the coronavirus crisis in the United States was just starting to come into focus, Donald Trump held a meeting with executives from leading American pharmaceutical companies. It was frustrating to watch.

    As regular readers may recall, the president clearly wanted to hear — and be able to say — that a COVID-19 vaccine was right around the corner. “I’ve heard very quick numbers, that of months,” the Republican claimed, pointing to rumors he couldn’t identify.

    The more Trump was reminded about the lengthy, multi-step process — development, testing, clinical trials, and deployment — the more he tried to find someone to tell him what he wanted to hear. “So you’re talking over the next few months, you could have a vaccine?” the president asked one CEO, who explained that a possible vaccine could exist in a few months, but that it would still need many months before it could be ready for the public.

    Private meetings with the White House Coronavirus Task Force appear to follow a similar trajectory. The Washington Post reported overnight:

    One person familiar with task force discussions said Trump has continued to push unproven or experimental drugs as cure-alls — despite little data so far to support their efficacy and against the advice of his own scientific advisers — because he “wants this magical moment when this is all over.”

    We’ve arrived at the intersection of two unfortunate lines. On the one hand, there’s Trump’s indifference to science, which he mistakenly believes he can bully into submission, forcing it to bend to his will. On the other, there’s his instinctual drive to find a quick fix — or, alternatively, a fixer — to make his problems go away, whatever the problem may be.

    […] the combination right now is especially toxic. […]

    Told that a vaccine will take a while and the unproven treatments aren’t reliable, Trump now appears eager to retreat from even trying to solve the problem.

    A Science magazine editorial recently implored the president to “start treating science and its principles with respect.” That’d be a huge step in the right direction, though it appears wholly unlikely.

    blf @404, sounds like your shopping trip went as well as can be expected these days. Simply not going shopping is the best choice, but none of us can do that for an extended period of time. I find myself doing odd things when I go out, like looking for the gas pump where sun is shining on the dispenser handle … hoping that ultraviolet rays have killed the virus there.

  250. says

    Campaign tidbits from Steve Benen:

    * Priorities USA Action, leading Democratic-aligned super PAC, is launching a $6 million ad campaign slamming Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. A Politico report said the ads began running in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida on Tuesday. One of the commercials is available online here. […]
    * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that voters in Georgia “will be mailed absentee ballot request forms for the May 19 primary, a major push to encourage voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.”

    * Though there’s been ample speculation of late about the future of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign, the senator’s team signaled yesterday that he’s remaining in the race and organizing ahead of next month’s New York’s primary. Though there’s still some question about whether there will be another debate during the coronavirus crisis, Sanders’ campaign also said the senator is prepared to participate in such an event.

    * Ahead of the 2020 elections, the National Rifle Association is reportedly cutting staff salaries, canceling its annual gathering, and eyeing possible layoffs. [Good news]

    * Joe Biden sent a letter to Donald Trump this week, making the case that the administration should end its support for a lawsuit that hopes to tear down the Affordable Care Act. The presumptive Democratic nominee told the incumbent president it’s “unconscionable” to support the litigation in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

    * And in California’s 25th congressional district, local voters will receive mail-in ballots from the state ahead of the May 12 special election. This is the seat former Rep. Katie Hill (D) held before her resignation.

  251. says

    Workers in nine Amazon warehouses test positive for coronavirus.

    […] Amazon workers have been complaining that the company’s push to ship orders quickly involves carelessness about their health, with the pressure to hit a high rate of orders picked and packed leaving inadequate time to wash their hands, and management holding meetings that require workers to stand close together. Amazon says it is changing its procedures to, for instance, eliminate those meetings as well as increasing cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in warehouses. But it’s also trying to hire 100,000 more workers to cope with the flood of orders.

    Workers have tested positive in two New York City warehouses as well as ones in Kentucky, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, California, and Connecticut. Amazon warehouse workers in Spain and Italy had previously tested positive. The company has raised warehouse wages by $2 per hour and is expanding paid time off, but it’s clear that workers continue to face pressure to come in to work and just deal with unsafe conditions if they want to keep their jobs. […]

  252. says

    Well, this is not at all helpful: “A Fake Pandemic”: Anti-Vaxxers Are Spreading Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories

    Facebook is full of COVID-19 misinformation from groups that oppose mandatory vaccines.

    […] Facebook groups that oppose mandatory vaccination have turned their attention to the coronavirus. Their feeds are full of posts that downplay the risks of the COVID-19, promote discredited conspiracy theories, and criticize efforts to control the spread of the virus. Here are a few of the ideas they’ve been spreading:

    Criticizing social-distancing campaigns and warning of “police state” tactics. “It is a fact that fear and stress compromise the immune system,” the account Michigan for Vaccine Choice posted on March 21. “Can we keep this mass quarantine up? What about our quality of life?” On March 15, Californians for Vaccine Choice posted:

    What is about to unfold over the next few weeks is a test to see how well we have assimilated the government’s lessons in compliance, fear, and police state tactics; a test to see how quickly we’ll march in lockstep with the government’s dictates, no questions asked; and a test to see how little resistance we offer up to the government’s power grabs when made in the name of national security.

    Claiming the virus might not exist at all. “If you’re still thinking it’s coincidental that a pandemic erupted in the midst of a state by state sweep to REMOVE your right to refuse vaccination, it’s time to get your head out of the sand,” the group Oregonians for Healthcare Choice posted on March 20.

    Also that day, it posted a link to a piece on a site called Green Med Info titled, “Op-Ed: Does the 2019 Coronavirus Exist?” The piece argues that “the coronavirus panic is just that, an irrational panic, based on an unproven RNA test, that has never been connected to a virus.” On March 19, the group published a long and rambling post titled, “How to create a fake pandemic 101.” […]

    Much more at the link.

    Facebook should remove those groups.

  253. says

    Governors are pleading for more financial help from Congress as unemployment claims surge to near-unprecedented levels this month, leaving states incapable of covering the mountainous costs. […]

    The state of Florida received 21,000 applications for unemployment on Monday and 18,000 on Sunday, far exceeding typical daily averages of between 250 and 1,000. New Jersey saw at least 15,000 applications in one day last week, a record high that caused its filing system to crash. And California has averaged 106,000 unemployment claims daily — nearly 750,000 in a week, or 3.8 percent of the entire state workforce.

    Two economic analyses released Tuesday estimated that well over 3 million people filed for unemployment in the last week — by one estimate, five times as many as the worst week of the Great Recession. […]


    More at the link.

  254. says

    Effing cruise ships!

    Cruise ship with 42 sick passengers and crew headed to Florida.

    A Holland America cruise ship carrying at least 42 people with flu-like symptoms is headed to Florida, but it’s unclear if it will be permitted to dock.

    The ship, called the Zaandam, is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, according to a Facebook update from the cruise line. The cruise line said “plans are still being finalized.”

    At least 13 guests and 29 crew members reported flu-like symptoms. The ship does not have any COVID-19 tests on board. Another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, plans to meet the Zaandam off the coast of Panama on Thursday to transfer supplies, staff and coronavirus test kits. […]

    In an emergency meeting Tuesday, some members of the Broward County Commission in Florida said the ship’s docking should be blocked to avoid a potential spreading of the disease. The commission decided to defer action and seek guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NPR reported.

    The Zaandam left Argentina on March 7. Holland America later suspended all cruise line operations with the goal of having passengers disembark its ships as soon as possible. Holland America said Zaandam has permission to disembark at Punta Arenas, Chile, but “we were not permitted to do so.” […]


  255. says

    According to Der Spiegel, the G7 foreign ministers haven’t been able to agree on a joint statement because of Pompeo’s insistence it refer to #coronavirus as the ‘Wuhan virus’. Pompeo did not deny that this morning – said G7 don’t agree on everything.”

    Top diplomat in the US.

  256. says

    G liveblog:

    Britain’s deputy ambassador to Hungary, Steven Dick, has died after contracting coronavirus, writes the Guardian’s Shaun Walker in Budapest.

    Walker tweeted: “Deputy British ambassador Steven Dick, 37, died yesterday after contracting coronavirus. He was a really nice bloke and a great diplomat. Last week he told me he had the virus but was feeling fine. Awful.”

    The rate of new infections in Italy slows for a fourth day

    The death toll from coronavirus in Italy rose by 683 to 7,503 on Tuesday, writes Lorenzo Tondo in Italy.

    The rate of new infections slowed for a fourth day, rising by 3491 compared with 3,612 new cases on Tuesday.

    Civil Protection said 57,521 people in Italy are currently infected with the coronavirus.

    Total cases of Covid 19 in Italy (currently infected, deaths and recovered): 74,386

    More than 400,000 volunteers signed up in just 24 hours to support the NHS in helping vulnerable people who have been told not to leave their homes during the coronavirus crisis, writes my colleague Simon Murphy….

  257. says

    DeSantis was a backbencher who became a Trumpist sycophant to advance his career. It worked, he’s governor. And I guess he figured he could just sign right-wing legislation, appoint judges, and sell the state for parts. But now he has to actually lead, and he’s flailing.”

    Video of DeSantis flailing atl.

  258. blf says

    SC@412, That should be, perhaps: Top “diplomat” in the US. (Note the scare quotes — quite appropriate…)

    Also, to answer your quite valid and sensible question about the “fox 4 cases” tweet of several days ago — “what did I think it was saying?” (paraphrasing from memory) — I read the tweet as not about fox itself (i.e., its staff), but as about something fox was reporting (presumably as “news”). The tweet’s not indicating what / where the tweet was about is part of my my criticisms, albeit my (main) criticism, the lack of any source, meant the tweet was difficult to understand and verify. I.e., as I saidcorrected (paraphrasing from memory), “very poorly written”. That is, if it had been sourced, the confusion could have been minimised; and with slightly better phrasing, confusion perhaps eliminated: “Internal fox memo says four fox staff confirmed to have Covid-19 (source link)”. (In case it’s not clear, my criticism is aimed entirely at the contents of that tweet, not at its authour, you, or anyone else.)

  259. KG says

    Effing cruise ships! – Lynna, OM@411

    At a guess, cruise businesses are going to suffer more than just short-term damage from this crisis – it’s made abundantly clear that they are floating incubators for disease outbreaks. Norovirus outbreaks are common – very unpleasant, but resulting in few deaths; this is on another scale altogether.

  260. says

    KG @417, right! And Hair Furor repeated again just yesterday that the cruise ship industry needed to be bailed out. Trump must be friends with the owners of cruise ship companies, and/or those owners are Mar-a-Lago club members.

    See comment 303 for more information detailing why the cruise ship industry should NOT be bailed out. And see SC’s link in comment 307.

  261. says

    Hillary Clinton:

    Thank you to the medical professionals, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, pharmacy workers, mail carriers, firefighters, police, nursing home employees, and everyone else who is working to save lives and keep us all going right now.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  262. says

    An answer to one of my questions @ #356 – Center for Public Integrity – “The government’s secret ventilator stockpile is nowhere near enough to fight the coronavirus”:

    Only 16,600 ventilators.

    That’s the total number of breathing machines that sit in the Strategic National Stockpile, the government reserve meant to fortify overwhelmed hospitals in a crisis. It’s a small supplement to the U.S. medical system’s estimated 160,000 or so ventilators — many already in use — and not nearly enough to help patients survive a severe outbreak of coronavirus infections, health experts say.

    The previously unreported stockpile number, confirmed by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official who works with the reserve program, shows just how few ventilators are available to a national health system bracing for the full impact of the coronavirus.

    The U.S. could have as many as 742,000 patients who need ventilators in a severe outbreak similar to the 1918 Spanish flu, according to a study by the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, and more than 64,000 in a moderate outbreak.

    New York City alone has said it needs an extra 15,000 ventilators, with Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeting at billionaire Elon Musk begging for his company to start making the medical devices — a sign of the desperation for the breathing machine crucial for combating a virus that targets lungs. New York state had more than 25,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday….

    More at the link.

  263. says

    Followup to comment 357.

    Liberty University, teaching the god-addled how to be stupid, or more stupid, and perhaps dead:

    […] It’s not exactly business as usual. Professors will conduct most classes online, keeping lecture halls empty. But residence halls are open to any students who want to be on campus. And several students who are back on campus or living nearby told me they are not reassured by the university’s response and that many of their fellow students do not seem to be taking the virus seriously. Calum Best, a senior, has been back on campus since last Friday and said other students have been offering him hugs and handshakes, and inviting him into their rooms. On social media, he has seen images of “quarantine parties” and other gatherings of more than 10 people. “They’re creating a space where students can come and be stupid,” said Best, the Student Government Association chief of staff. “There’s a general carelessness, and our leadership isn’t doing what they could be to stop that from spreading.”

    Last weekend, English professor Marybeth Davis Baggett wrote an op-ed for Religion News Service asking the school’s board of trustees to overrule Falwell’s decision and “shut the campus down before it’s too late.” She wrote that instructors without health exemptions were also expected to hold office hours for students who want to meet one on one. Since then, Falwell has said publicly that faculty are working from home. But Liberty’s campus information page about the virus instructs faculty to make individual arrangements with their deans, and many instructors remain on campus.

    Public officials in Virginia have also expressed alarm. A Liberty press release this week claimed that Lynchburg’s city manager and mayor thanked Falwell for moving most instruction online. But the city manager told the Daily Beast that Falwell was not honest with her when they discussed the school’s plans. She said Falwell suggested to her and the mayor, Treney Tweedy, that the dorms would remain open only for international students who could not return home. In fact, Falwell opened the dorms for anyone who wants to return. Tweedy called the decision to reopen “reckless” and said Falwell had not kept his word to the city. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s press secretary said this week that he is “concerned” and that members of his administration had spoken directly with Falwell. (There were not yet any confirmed coronavirus cases in Lynchburg, which includes Liberty’s campus, as of Wednesday morning.) [That won’t last long.]

    Falwell’s public statements about the coronavirus have consistently downplayed its threat. On March 13, before he communicated with students at all about the virus, he gave an interview to Fox & Friends in which he said media was exaggerating it in order to hurt Trump and that the virus might be a bioweapon manufactured by North Korea. In the same interview he said that in-person classes at Liberty would go on. At an all-campus event streamed online later the same day, Falwell again dismissed the virus as “hype.” When a parent of three Liberty students challenged him on Twitter about the decision to stay open, Falwell called him a “dummy.” […]


  264. says

    Rikers Island now has 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

    With beds less than three feet apart and cleaning materials in short supply, the predicted spread of the coronavirus in U.S. jails and prisons is underway.


  265. says

    Republicans Seem to Think They Can Decide Who Dies, by Dahlia Lithwick.

    They are not appreciating the random menace this virus poses—against their own or anyone else.

    […] But the even deeper problem, beyond the catastrophic failure to understand epidemiology, is the increasingly lethal conviction on the part of at least some Americans that—all medical evidence to the contrary—this is a pandemic that will somehow spare the lucky folk. And that Americans are by definition just too darn lucky to become ill. That was part of the wrongheaded thinking that allowed Donald Trump only a week ago to assure Americans that they needed to “just relax” because “it all will pass.”

    It’s also part of the wrongheaded thinking that allowed Liberty University to reopen its doors after spring break, with president Jerry Falwell Jr. insisting that young people cannot catch or spread the virus: “I think we, in a way, are protecting the students by having them on campus together,” he contends. “Ninety-nine percent of them are not at the age to be at risk, and they don’t have conditions that put them at risk.” Maybe Falwell doesn’t understand that his students are all precisely the age to spread the virus and put others at risk. Maybe he can’t be bothered to realize that this will overwhelm small regional hospitals and sicken medical personnel.

    Perhaps Falwell believes that Liberty students are not merely immune and super-duper lucky but also on some kind of Godly VIP list. That seems to be the view of the Hobby Lobby empire as well, which carries with it the added implication that maybe Italians just didn’t pray hard enough about the coronavirus, perhaps the most vile suggestion of them all.

    The problem with Trump and Patrick and Falwell and all those who continue to believe that young Americans or Christian Americans or Americans in red states are somehow not susceptible to the same risks as the rest of us isn’t just that it continues the sordid trend of pitting people against others that has been so politically disastrous for the nation. It also stands as a substitute for actually doing the many, many things that need doing right now, things that needed doing weeks ago, when they could have saved more lives. […]

  266. says

    Congress to bail out firms that avoided taxes, safety regulations and spent billions boosting their stock

    Washington Post link

    Less than a dozen years after the bailouts of the Great Recession, airlines, hotels and a long list of others come calling.

    When airline executives realized a few years ago that they could charge passengers extra fees for just about anything — meals, checking bags, even choosing seats — their businesses seemed bulletproof.

    “I don’t think we’re ever going to lose money again,” American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker told giddy investors in 2017. As such companies continued to thrive, they also undertook share buybacks, boosting investor value. President Trump and congressional Republicans sweetened the outlook for big businesses further when they passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that slashed the corporate rate beginning in 2018.

    That seems so long ago. Now airlines, as well as hotels, cruise lines, coal-mining companies and others strangled by the coronavirus shutdowns, are lining up to receive slices of a $2 trillion aid package funded by taxpayers.

    Yet many of these companies behaved in ways before the current economic crisis that are making a bailout tough to swallow, labor advocates and some economists say.

    The hotel giant Hilton, for instance, announced a $2 billion stock buyback on March 3, weeks after coronavirus cases began affecting the industry. Cruise lines for years have avoided taxes and U.S. safety regulations by registering their headquarters abroad. Coal companies put some of their workers in harms way and are now asking to get out of tax that generates money to compensate former miners who have black lung disease. […]

    The choice is between two options unsavory to many: bail out some of the country’s largest corporations or watch as they put more people out of work.

    Among those seeking assistance from a pot of at least $500 billion in the rescue package are companies employing hundreds of thousands of servers, flight attendants, housekeepers, janitors, security guards and other workers. With unemployment already expected to reach as high as 20 percent this year, no one wants to see so many people lose their jobs. […]

    Indeed writing checks to some of the companies in need of help may require some Americans to swallow hard and look away.

    Airlines and hotel chains have in recent years dramatically increased spending on stock buybacks (which can pump up a share price without building anything or hiring anyone) and sometimes generous dividends (payments to shareholders). […]

    “I don’t want to give a bailout to a company and then have somebody go out and use that money to buy back stock in the company and raise the price and then get a bonus,” Trump said. “So I may be Republican, but I don’t like that. I want them to use the money for the workers.”

    Cruise lines are also facing potential cash shortages, but they are domiciled in Liberia, Panama and elsewhere to avoid nearly all U.S. taxes and safety regulations. […]

    Coal-mining companies also have asked for help, including a request that the government rescind a $220 million tax increase to support 25,700 disabled coal miners and their dependents, many of whom have suffered from black lung disease. […]
    Even Boeing, the aerospace manufacturer that is accused of misleading pilots and federal safety inspectors about lapses that led to two of its 737 Max jets to crash (killing 346 people), is poised to receive a portion of a $17 billion loan program designated for businesses deemed “critical to maintaining national security.”

    With its 737 Max jets still grounded and the novel coronavirus spreading among some of its own workers, Boeing may have to declare bankruptcy if it does not receive a bailout, some analysts said. Critics of the company noted that even if it goes in to bankruptcy, the company could continue operating and paying employees, as airlines have done in the past.

    Boeing and its subsidiaries employ 160,000 people worldwide. “We have to protect Boeing,” Trump said last week. […]

    More at the link.

  267. says

    From Joe Biden:

    […] “Now he’s suggesting he wants to get the country back open by Easter,” Biden said, referring to Trump. “Look, we all want to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but we have a lot to do to make that possible. We have to do it in a smart way, not to meet some arbitrary or symbolic timeline.”

    “It would be a catastrophic thing to do for our people and for our economy if we sent people back to work just as we were beginning to see the impact of social distancing take hold, only to unleash a second spike in infections,” Biden added. […]

    He also pressed Trump to use the Defense Production Act to ensure that the national supply of ventilators and other supplies was available where the virus threatens to overwhelm local health care capacity. Trump so far has resisted using the war-time law.

    “He said he’s a war-time President,” Biden said of Trump. “Well, act like one.”

    Separately, asked what he would tell former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and other Wall Street leaders who’ve called for quickly ending social distancing guidelines, Biden said he would “urge them to the think about the science.”

    “Not the science of Wall Street, the science of medicine.”

    “The idea of arbitrarily setting a time — I’d like to be able to say, we’re going to be back to normal next Friday,” Biden said. “That’d be wonderful, but it can’t be arbitrary. We have to look at the recent history of what happened in other countries.”

  268. blf says

    This Grauniad Q&A / “FAQ” / article, How long does coronavirus survive on different surfaces, has a link to a very useful & interesting (if USA-centric) CDC article, Clean & Disinfect: “Interim Recommendations for US Households […]”. (The Grauniad incorrectly says it’s an FDA article; and the article itself claims to be more about households where there is a known or suspected case, a limitation which I think is inappropriate to the general & sensible advice it contains.)

  269. says

    Objecting to a provision in the Senate coronavirus bill providing unemployment benefits for people in financial trouble, Sen. Lindsey Graham says nurses are “going to make $24 an hour on unemployment” which he claims would incentivize “taking people out of the workforce.”

    From the response we’ve seen from nurses already, I doubt that they would decide too take a long vacation. Lindsey Graham is so irritating.

  270. blf says

    Lynna@406, Thanks. Yeah, I did some “odd” things too — covered my hand with a plastic bag when opening / closing my door, and also to carry the basket in the shop and when entering my credit card PIN. And carefully taking detours around an idling car with a driver and open window, and around a passer-by and other people in the shop.

    Just made myself a fresh cream of potato & onion soup for dinner (with, of course, a nice vin). All the ingredients, except for the spices and vin, were bought today. (And much to my delight and preference, all (except the vin) are organic.) Much better than most of the industrial-prepared stuff I’ve been largely eating since I ran out of fresh food almost a week ago. And I’m now really happy I broke down last year and finally purchased a food processor (a fairly advanced model which can also cook) as a sort-of end-of-year present to myself, it has come in very useful — as well as convenient — during the lockdown. (I still refuse, however, to get a microwave oven!)

  271. says

    Politico – “NYC morgues near capacity, DHS briefing warns”:

    The Department of Homeland Security has been briefed that New York City’s morgues are nearing capacity, according to a department official and a second person familiar with the situation.

    Officials were told that morgues in the city are expected to reach capacity next week, per the briefing. A third person familiar with the situation in New York said that some of the city’s hospital morgues hit capacity over the last seven days. And a FEMA spokesperson told POLITICO that New York has asked for emergency mortuary assistance. Hawaii and North Carolina have asked for mortuary help as well, and the disaster response agency is currently reviewing the requests, according to the spokesperson.

    If the available morgue space in New York City fills up as the number of COVID-19 deaths increases, federal help will be available, a former senior administration official said, noting that the George W. Bush administration sent mortuary assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 attacks.

    The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT), which can help set up temporary morgues. The teams operate in response to requests from local authorities.

    For now, city officials do not seem especially alarmed. Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), said concerns about morgue capacity may be unfounded. OCME’s morgues can store up to 900 bodies across all five boroughs, she said.

    “We have the ability to expand pretty dramatically,” she said. “If you look back at what we did during 9/11, we have the ability to create mobile stations that allow us to house bodies if we run out of space.”

    New York City has not dealt with mass casualties at the same rate as Covid-19 in recent memory, however.

    “All hospitals within the city tend to have small morgue spaces, so it’s possible that with the capacity of hospitals in New York City, there may be an expectation … that they’ll run out of morgue space,” Worthy-Davis added.

    Another issue for responders will be handling significantly more burials and cremations than is typical. Federal assistance may be available to help with that potential challenge, and it would need to work in tandem with state and local officials….

  272. says

    Trump punishes blue states on disaster unemployment aid

    […] He has declared California, New York, and Washington state coronavirus disaster areas, but has so far refused to release a key part of that designation: unemployment assistance.

    That’s specific, disaster-related unemployment insurance to go to workers who aren’t eligible for traditional UI, like gig economy workers. Under the program, they can receive 26 weeks of benefits if their job loss is a result of the disaster, either because their position has been eliminated or they can’t get to their job site. When the disaster was declared—March 20 in New York and March 22 in California and Washington—the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that “federal emergency aid has been made available.” The unemployment funds, however, have not been released.

    Politico reports that the only aid the administration has released to the three states has been for “crisis counseling,” and that a “senior administration official said the administration is holding off on approving requests for disaster unemployment assistance because it anticipates Congress will provide similar protections in the coronavirus stimulus package under negotiation.” Given the flux we’ve seen in the last five days on that legislation, that’s a bullshit excuse.

    “We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public health emergency,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said; however, that declaration did not “unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers.” Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, added, “It is time for the federal government to provide Disaster Unemployment Assistance to New Yorkers.”

    Inslee and three other governors—Mike Dunleavy (R-Alaska), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), and J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois)—wrote to Trump on Tuesday, urging him to free up the funds and move faster in declaring disasters for all their states. “Even as states enact policies to flexibly provide unemployment insurance to those in need,” the governors wrote, “we are still leaving many hourly and independent workers behind who desperately need assistance during this crisis.”

    Typo in comment 432. “too” should be “to” … sorry.

  273. blf says

    Lynna@432, “From the response we’ve seen from nurses already, I doubt that they would decide [to] take a long vacation. Lindsey Graham is so irritating.”

    And projecting. He would decide to take a vacation, and a too long one.

  274. says

    Oh, FFS!

    From Trump:

    The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!

    There were more than 62,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. as of late Wednesday afternoon, and nearly 900 Americans have died from the virus.

  275. says

    From readers comments following an article about Trump’s “LameStream Media” tweet (see comment 437):

    This is what narcissistic rage looks like. It’s a national security threat.
    25th amendment now!

    Just talked to a conservative friend who told me that there’s no evidence anywhere that social distancing works to flatten the curve. He said that anywhere the number of new cases is going down, that’s just what happens with all diseases. Also, he said all of the young people should go back to work so the economy doesn’t crash. He thinks they’ll get sick and then they’ll recover. His view of the economic difficulties was that soon there would be no food, no goods to buy, no electrical power, and no fuel if people don’t go back to work now.

    I didn’t push back much, no point.

  276. says

    Update from the Pentagon:

    All U.S. troop movements overseas will halt for 60 days because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to defense officials. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed an order halting the movements on Wednesday. The order states troops overseas cannot move back to the U.S. and troops in the U.S. cannot move overseas for two months. It applies to uniformed military, civilians and dependents.

    Update from the DOJ:

    The Justice Department has notified the nation’s federal prosecutors that anyone threatening or attempting to spread the coronavirus can be charged with terrorism.