Bring out your dead!

Reading the news from Italy is depressing. It might be us a month from now.

Now I find myself confined in a place where time is suspended. All the shops are closed, except for groceries and pharmacies. All the bars and restaurants are shuttered. Every tiny sign of life has disappeared. The streets are totally empty; it is forbidden even to take a walk unless you carry a document that explains to authorities why you have left your house. The lockdown that began here in Lombardy now extends to the entire country.

For many Italians, the normal warnings about this virus were simply not enough to change behavior. Denial comes too easily, perhaps. It was more convenient to blame some foreign germ-spreader, or pretend that the news was unreal. Then came a reality check: Last Sunday, Pope Francis gave a benediction not from his normal window at the Vatican but via video, in part to avoid the crowd on St. Peter’s Square but also to send a message. That was the first strong sign to snap out of it.

In contrast, here’s Devin Nunes (and by proxy, the entire goddamned Republican party). The concern isn’t about keeping people healthy and alive, it’s about keeping the money flowing in the economy.

Hey, Devin: if you care so much about the “working people and their wages and tips”, why isn’t your party working to guarantee a living wage? Instead, you demand that they get out, sick or not, and service the people who are still going out to restaurants…where, if the workers are not infected, they will be by all the selfish people carrying the disease who are out there transmitting it.

Can we please not get to the point other countries are reaching, where the dead are kept with the living because no one wants to deal with the bodies?

When his sister died after contracting the novel coronavirus, Luca Franzese thought that things couldn’t get much worse.

Then, for more than 36 hours, the Italian actor and mixed martial arts trainer was trapped at home with Teresa Franzese’s decaying body, unable to find a funeral home that would bury her.

“I have my sister in bed, dead, I don’t know what to do,” Franzese said in a Facebook video over the weekend, pleading for help. “I cannot give her the honor she deserves because the institutions have abandoned me. I contacted everyone, but nobody was able to give me an answer.”

Quick, everyone, get to the Wal-Mart before all the body bags are off the shelves!


  1. drew says

    In Italy people have health care. It could be much worse here.
    Also, remember that study a while ago showing in the US there are a great number of people who can’t make it through a $400 crisis? What happens when they’re forced to stay home, or business dries up and they’re let go? It could be much, much worse in the US than in China or Italy. The disease might only be the trigger.

  2. consciousness razor says

    In contrast, here’s Devin Nunes (and by proxy, the entire goddamned Republican party). The concern isn’t about keeping people healthy and alive, it’s about keeping the money flowing in the economy.

    Replace “the economy” with “their own pockets.”
    Trump offers ‘large sums’ for exclusive access to coronavirus vaccine

    The Trump administration has offered a German medical company “large sums of money” for exclusive access to a Covid-19 vaccine, German media have reported.

    The German government is trying to fight off what it sees as an aggressive takeover bid by the US, the broadsheet Die Welt reports, citing German government circles.

    The US president had offered the Tübingen-based biopharmaceutical company CureVac “large sums of money” to gain exclusive access to their work, wrote Die Welt.

    According to an anonymous source quoted in the newspaper, Trump was doing everything to secure a vaccine against the coronavirus for the US, “but for the US only”.

    The German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the vaccine to stay in the country.
    With its headquarters in the south-western German city of Tübingen, CureVac also has sites in Frankfurt and Boston in the US. Linked with the German health ministry, it works closely with the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a research institution and medical regulatory body that is subordinate to the German health ministry.

    On 11 March, CureVac released a statement that its CEO, the US citizen Daniel Menichella, was unexpectedly leaving the firm and would be replaced by the company’s founder, Ingmar Hoerr.

    At the start of the month, Menichella was invited to the White House in Washington to discuss strategy for the rapid development and production of a coronavirus vaccine with Trump, the vice-president, Mike Pence, and members of the White House coronavirus task force.

    If he loses in November, will Trump just go with an insanity plea or what?

  3. consciousness razor says

    The sick joke is that the “German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the vaccine to stay in the country,” as if all they could do was to offer a bigger bribe than the one coming from the US. They could and should just block the deal outright, without this “financial incentives” nonsense. Maybe I’m just naive (and definitely ignorant about German politics), but I did kind of expect them to take this more seriously than we are.

  4. dave57 says

    Is it really necessary to avoid restaurants? Seems like if they are not crowded there would be no problem keeping a reasonable distance from others. Social distancing should not be taken as complete isolation.

  5. says

    @consciousness razor
    Indeed. My first thought was to just nationalize the whole company and take over the development.

  6. jrkrideau says

    6 LykeX

    My first thought was to just nationalize the whole company
    its CEO, the US citizen Daniel Menichella, was unexpectedly leaving the firm

    Done, whether formally or informally ?

  7. blf says

    dave57@5, Thank you for ignoring the restaurant’s staff (waiters and kitchen). And people who are not living together dining together (e.g., company events, dates, friends, …). As just two examples.

  8. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s current Political Madness All the Time thread.)

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

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

  9. raven says

    The story about the German biotech company is an example of complete idiocy.
    Xpost from Dispatches.

    FFS, this is cosmically stupid!!!

    In the field of so-called mRNA therapeutics, CureVac competes with U.S. biotech firm Moderna and German rival BioNTech, which Pfizer has identified as a potential collaboration partner.

    There is absolutely nothing particularly special about the German company CureVac.
    It’s an mRNA therapeutics company.

    .1. There are many such.
    The USA has several.
    “Moderna Ships mRNA Vaccine Against Novel Coronavirus (mRNA-1273) to NIH for …”
    .2. The US company Moderna has already produced and shipped an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to NIH for animal testing and it goes into humans in April.
    .3. The USA has quite a few vaccine producing Big Pharmas, and a lot more biotech startup vaccine producers.
    There are three or four already working on Covid-19 vaccines.
    In fact, both China and the USA are likely the world leaders in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine.

    Trump is as usual, operating from complete ignorance.
    There is little to be gained by dealing with CureVac when we have the same biotechnology.

  10. raven says

    Xpost from Dispatches
    Just for fun, I’ll add a little here about the science.

    The idea is to inject mRNA, messenger RNA into the cells themselves that make up humans. The cells then translate the mRNA to make the viral protein which acts as an antigen to produce an immune response.
    It’s a new technology, there are no approved mRNA drugs, and like all new technology, it could simply fail. It’s a higher risk technology than the older approaches and no one would want to have this as their only choice.

    In fact, the USA is working on many Covid-19 vaccines.
    .1. There is a DNA based vaccine using similar principles to the mRNA technology.
    This is also high risk, and many DNA based vaccines have just flat out failed.
    (Inovia thinks they’ve debugged this problem.)
    .2. There are also the old tried and true subunit vaccines where the relevant viral antigens are
    produced by recombinant DNA technology and put in a vial.
    These are a little slower but have decades of experience to show they work.
    .3. Various recombinant live virus vaccines.
    One of the new Ebola vaccines is a VSV recombinant.

    At this point, with this virus, you have to pursue all these approaches in parallel.

  11. PaulBC says

    Maybe all the toilet paper is for DIY home mummification.

    I read Nunes’s comments, directly contracting Fauci’s expert (if belated) advice to get serious about social distancing. Like WTF? I have an immunosuppressed family member. I’m living in a hotspot. We all feel fine and I can WFH and my kids’ school is out for at least 4 weeks. But how the hell would I know if I am “healthy”? I could be carrying the virus if I picked it up a week ago at work. My kids could be. I will almost certainly survive if I get ill, but my daughter might not. And even if Santa Clara county manages to stop the spread, what good does it do if knuckleheads are still trying to minimize the reaction in the rest of the country?

    Then I see there are lines of people stuck for hours in crowded airports, and I guess they’ll go out and “spread the love” without much monitoring. Nobody who has not been tested can say for sure if they’re healthy. If this spreads to the extent of seasonal flu, millions will die, but we won’t even have the capacity to treat the sick, so even more will die of other causes. How can anyone see news out of Italy, with round the clock crematoria and express-line funerals, and come up with any good reason to believe we won’t escape the same fate if we don’t start getting serious?

  12. consciousness razor says

    Me in #2:

    Replace “the economy” with “their own pockets.”

    More of the same:

    NEW YORK, March 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Oscar, a tech-driven health insurance company, launched the first testing center locator for COVID-19 in the U.S., featuring more than 100 centers today. It is accessible to the general public and more testing centers are being added every day.

    What it doesn’t mention is that one of Oscar’s three founders is Josh Kushner, brother to Trump’s son-in-law Jared. Jared is leading our so-called “task force” but he had no business being a part of it at all.
    Sorry, that’s poor phrasing … he had no reason to be in it, but he did have business.

  13. says

    Nunes wants people to keep going to restaurants to eat beef, under the mistaken impression that the beef in restaurants might come from the kind of cows he keeps suing. His only hope of winning those lawsuits is if the “defendants” are, umm, hamburgers.

  14. kome says

    And then there’s Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party in the UK who are actively encouraging more people get the disease so that they rush through the worst of it sooner.

    Conservatives should not have any power. At all. Unless you’re rich, your life is completely disposable to a conservative.

  15. Matt G says

    “Not all conservatives are stupid people, but most stupid people are conservatives.” – John Stuart Mill. I think the first part is an underestimate.

  16. magistramarla says

    One of our daughters married a trump supporter and has gone right-wing. She told her Dad today that she and her husband are having a great time going out to restaurants in Texas that are offering two for the price of one meals. She simply won’t listen to warnings that she might be putting herself and others in danger, especially her father-in-law, who is being treated for cancer.
    The red states are going to be the places that bring this country down. Unfortunately, I have kids and grandkids living in Texas. I’m worried about them.

  17. publicola says

    Concerning Comrades Trumpski, Nunes et al, as a friend of mine used to say, “What do you expect from a pig but a grunt”.

  18. microraptor says

    I saw a post of Discord today about a far-right church in Indiana that’s ordering people to come to their services if they are showing symptoms so they can receive faith healing.

  19. davidnangle says

    You can almost read Shithole’s mind. He wants exclusive access to the “cure” so he can 1) Stay in power, and out of jail, 2) extort trillions of dollars for himself, 3) punish all his enemies.

  20. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 20

    The red states are going to be the places that bring this country down.

    I’ve been saying that for years, long before COVID-19 came along, but no one listens to me.

  21. Akira MacKenzie says

    If my father–who get’s all of his information solely from “trusted” news sources like Breitbart, Limbaugh, Drudge, his equally-crazy twin brother from rural Washington who enjoys WWII-era German martial music, etc.–is any indicator of how seriously mainstream conservatives are taking this pandemic, a large of portion of the American people are in utter denial. Oh, he’ll take precautions. He’s stopped attending Mass and is hand-washing/sanitizing, but all in all he’s siding with Trump and his “experts” that Coronavirus isn’t any worse than a severe cold and that all the quarantine-orders and toilet paper hoarding is just hysteria generated by the liberal media who’s “politicizing sickness” to ruin Trump and crash the stock market. “FORTUNES ARE GOING TO BE RUINED OVER THIS!” he recently screamed at me after the Dow hit a record low.

    Also, he denies any evidence of how poorly the administration has handled the pandemic. Again, if you criticize Trump, you’re turning the outbreak into a “political” issue, and if you can’t think of a better plan than Trump’s on the spot, you’re wrong.

  22. PaulBC says

    Akira MacKenzie@25 Not only fortunes, but normal peoples’ retirement savings are going to be ruined. I’m fine even with this morning’s rout so far, but anyone who thinks they’ve been seeing buying opportunities over the past two weeks may very well be broke. But, yeah, it’s only money.

    I am just happy that we’ve finally gotten around to the idea of closing things and not pretending that “open for business” is a great plan against an infectious disease. Unlike al Qaeda in 2001, the virus doesn’t care if we show a brave face.

    This curve shows no sign of leveling off. Actually today’s %-increase is a little lower than yesterdays, but it’ll take more time to read anything into it. Italy is in the middle of a public health crisis that is obviously worse than any flu season in living memory.

    China, for some reason (and I can guess what the reason is) is still being portrayed as having an unusually poor response. Yes, they screwed up at the beginning and tried to hide it, but they were building huge emergency hospitals in mid-January. If this was a “Democrat Hoax” then it was sure an expensive one. Did George Soros pay for those? China appears to have contained it while the US government was deep in denial.

    We ought to be looking at China for lessons, because it could have been a lot worse. We don’t have the kind of authoritarian government that can impose quarantines like China did, nor do we want such a government. But I do wonder how we expect to contain it within our model as it actually exists. As for the emergency hospitals, I hope there’s another way that works, because the US literally does not have the capacity to do that kind of construction that fast, we probably don’t have the healthcare providers to fill those hospitals, and as long as we think medical care is a business like selling appliances, we will be unable to deliver the care that’s needed.

    If you follow the current growth curve out another month, millions will die. Are we prepared to admit that we are literally 1000x worse than another nation at something?