Comments

  1. says

    For the record, re #494, here’s Tanden responding to Greenwald’s bad faith tweets, in which he refers to the Democratic Party, which Bernie Sanders, I’ll point out again, is currently campaigning to lead, as “shitty” and its leadership “decrepit.” Greenwald is either one of the easiest marks around or actively campaigning for Trump, and for anyone on the Left to believe or suggest in 2020 that Trump is to the left of the Dems on healthcare is mindboggling.

    I won’t be responding to these sorts of posts further. I don’t believe people like Sirota are credible, and even when a valid criticism is raised, it’s so drenched in hatred and hyperbole that I don’t believe a reasoned discussion can be had.

  2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    More about SC #495:

    Boston Globe – Warren to feds: Why did you take Massachusetts’ medical supplies?

    In a five-page letter Monday, Warren asked Peter Gaynor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, to outline how the agency is ensuring states aren’t outbid for supplies by the federal government
    […]
    Warren also pointed to at least two instances in which Massachusetts lost orders for ventilators and hundreds of respirators after the federal government stepped in
    […]
    the Trump administration also impounded a third order

     
     
    Yahoo – Patriots’ plane ferries a million masks to U.S. from China

    Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker struck a deal to obtain […] masks from Chinese manufacturers, but he needed to get them from China to Massachusetts, and fast.

    Baker called on Jonathan Kraft, son of [the] Patriots owner […] The Kraft family also agreed to pay $2 million, or about half the cost of the estimated 1.7 million masks.
    […]
    The Patriots’ Boeing 767 is a passenger plane […] And it generally only travels as far as Los Angeles or Seattle; a trip to China would require modifications
    […]
    [The crew were allowed bypass quarantine if they stayed in the plane, had a ground crew load cargo, and took off after 3 hours.]. But they would need visas, so the crew had to […] get photos while the plane was getting upgrades. [This involved flights from Ohio to New York, where the Chinese consulate was opened on the weekend for rushed processing, and back.] After an expedited visa process, the crew was off [with a layover in Alaska]
    […]
    a Chinese crew mobilized by tech company Tencent collected, inspected and counted the masks. [The plane loaded as much as it could carry.]
    […]
    300,000 to be sent on to New York […] The masks got a police escort to New York City […] Rhode Island and Massachusetts state police escorted the Patriots trailer truck after it dropped off the 900,000 masks in Massachusetts and 100,000 in Rhode Island.

    ** Extra details in brackets, based on the paywalled Wall Street Journal article.

  3. KG says

    consciousness razor@497,

    In no way disagreeing that in-person voting during the pandemic is a criminally stupid idea, one of your quotes says Sars-CoV-2 is an “airborne virus”. That’s a term with a specific meaning, and it’s not clear whether this virus meets the criteria – spread via the kind of droplets you get froma sneeze or cough is not enough. WHO says there’s no evidence it does, but it seems to me an increasingly large number of experts are saying we should assume it does, and therefore wear masks when outside, as is already mandated in a number of countries. I wore a home-made one (constructed from a waterproof pad intended to be put on the floor if you have a not-yet-housetrained puppy!) on a visit to the supermarket today, but I’m not yet wearing one while walking the dog.

  4. says

    Former DoJ IG Michael Bromwich:

    By law, firing an IG requires the President to provide a reason. That means a valid reason. “Loss of confidence” that results from the IG exercising his independence and doing his job is not a valid reason. This requires immediate oversight hearings.

    Waiting for a single Republican Senator or Member of the Congress to criticize the firing of IG Atkinson as subverting and corrupting the principle of independent oversight and jeopardizing the independence of IGs.

  5. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Chicago Sun Times – Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West’

    Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area
    […]
    One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call […] informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced.

    From the other end, Jeffrey Polen, drove south. Polen isn’t in the medical supply business, but he “knows a guy,”
    […]
    in the parking lot of a McDonald’s […] They made the handoff […] Polen made it back to his bank with 20 minutes to spare.
    […]
    A few days [later], another comptroller’s office employee […] drove to a Road Ranger gas station […] to hand off two more checks totaling $3.7 million to a […] supply company, beating a noon deadline for the purchase of additional masks and safety glasses.
    […]
    [The state Treasurer] said he also has had to intervene with banks to convince them to immediately honor the “warrants” that Illinois issues to pay its bills — and not wait a week for the funds to clear. A warrant authorizes payment on demand and can be issued only if the state has the money to cover it.

  6. says

    WaPo: ‘It may never be known how many thousands of deaths, or millions of infections, might have been prevented with a response that was more coherent, urgent and effective’.”

    WaPo link atl. If anyone has access and can excerpt it would be much appreciated.

  7. says

    CNN – “Fact-check: Trump says some states aren’t in jeopardy from the virus, denies saying it would go away by April”:

    President Donald Trump made yet another series of inaccurate or misleading claims at a coronavirus briefing on Friday.

    He incorrectly asserted that some states are not in jeopardy from the virus, incorrectly suggested that his February claims that the virus would simply go away have been proved correct, incorrectly suggested again that nobody could have foreseen the pandemic crisis and again made medical claims not supported by solid evidence….

    Much more at the link.

  8. consciousness razor says

    in which he refers to the Democratic Party, which Bernie Sanders, I’ll point out again, is currently campaigning to lead, as “shitty” and its leadership “decrepit.”

    When people do shitty or decrepit things, that should be criticized. The political faction here consists of millions of voters, and voters are ultimately the ones who have power in a real democracy. We hire the “leadership” for their positions when they’re elected. If one candidate criticizes another, even in the same party, that may be exactly the right thing to do. There is no coherent reason to care more about their welfare than about all of the people they have an obligation to represent.

    There’s also no good reason for your healthcare to be tied to your employment status. Private health insurance, for anything but “supplemental” plans that the rich may buy on top of the coverage everyone should get as a right, is simply exploitative and doesn’t need to exist. What they basically want to convince people of is that “middle-class tax increase” means the same thing as “your costs will go up” (same with their negations), but that’s all just a confusion wrapped in a scam with a side of nonsense. It’s an even bigger slap in the face, when they’re also projecting 40% premium increases next year. What would be a response to this … more corporate bailouts?

    It’s also absurd to think that Wisconsin should still go forward with in-person voting, and Biden should be ashamed of himself.

    If you like the message but don’t like the messenger who said it, then take a real position about it and become one yourself.

  9. says

    SC in comment 1, good points. Thanks.

    Excerpts from the link in comment 9:

    By the time Donald Trump proclaimed himself a wartime president — and the coronavirus the enemy — the United States was already on course to see more of its people die than in the wars of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

    […] the United States will likely go down as the country that was supposedly best prepared to fight a pandemic but ended up catastrophically overmatched by the novel coronavirus, sustaining heavier casualties than any other nation.

    It did not have to happen this way. Though not perfectly prepared, the United States had more expertise, resources, plans and epidemiological experience than dozens of countries that ultimately fared far better in fending off the virus.

    […] Warnings were sounded, including at the highest levels of government, but the president was deaf to them until the enemy had already struck.

    The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus — the first of many — in the President’s Daily Brief.

    […] it took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force […] That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.

    Trump’s baseless assertions in those weeks, including his claim that it would all just “miraculously” go away, sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts. […]

    The most consequential failure involved a breakdown in efforts to develop a diagnostic test that could be mass produced and distributed across the United States, enabling agencies to map early outbreaks of the disease, and impose quarantine measure to contain them. At one point, a Food and Drug Administration official tore into lab officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telling them their lapses in protocol, including concerns that the lab did not meet the criteria for sterile conditions, were so serious that the FDA would “shut you down” if the CDC were a commercial, rather than government, entity.

    Other failures cascaded through the system. The administration […] left vast stretches of the country’s health-care system without protective gear until the outbreak had become a pandemic. […]

    It may never be known how many thousands of deaths, or millions of infections, might have been prevented with a response that was more coherent, urgent and effective. […]

    Even the president’s base has begun to confront this reality. […] Republican leaders were poring over grim polling data that suggested Trump was lulling his followers into a false sense of security in the face of a lethal threat.

    The poll showed that far more Republicans than Democrats were being influenced by Trump’s dismissive depictions of the virus and the comparably scornful coverage on Fox News and other conservative networks. As a result, Republicans were in distressingly large numbers refusing to change travel plans, follow “social distancing” guidelines, stock up on supplies or otherwise take the coronavirus threat seriously. […]

    Trump has acknowledged that new models suggest that the eventual national death toll could be between 100,000 and 240,000. […]

    “This has been a real blow to the sense that America was competent,” said Gregory F. Treverton, a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the government’s senior-most provider of intelligence analysis. […]

    This article, which retraces the failures over the first 70 days of the coronavirus crisis, is based on 47 interviews with administration officials, public health experts, intelligence officers and others involved in fighting the pandemic. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information and decisions. […]

    The CDC learned of a cluster of cases in China on Dec. 31 and began developing reports for HHS on Jan. 1. But the most unambiguous warning that U.S. officials received about the coronavirus came Jan. 3, when Robert Redfield, the CDC director, received a call from a counterpart in China. […]

    Redfield quickly relayed the disturbing news to Alex Azar, the secretary of HHS, the agency that oversees the CDC and other public health entities. Azar, in turn, ensured that the White House was notified, instructing his chief of staff to share the Chinese report with the National Security Council. […] officials also immediately encountered obstacles.

    […] senior officials at HHS had begun convening an intra-agency task force including Redfield, Azar and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. […]

    U.S. officials began taking preliminary steps to counter a potential outbreak. By mid-January, Robert Kadlec, an Air Force officer and physician who serves as assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, had instructed subordinates to draw up contingency plans for enforcing the Defense Production Act, […] nothing happened for many weeks. […]

    Trump was not substantially briefed by health officials about the coronavirus until Jan.18, when, while spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, he took a call from Azar.

    Even before the heath secretary could get a word in about the virus, Trump cut him off and began criticizing Azar for his handling of an aborted federal ban on vaping products […]

    In hindsight, officials said, Azar could have been more forceful in urging Trump to turn at least some of his attention to a threat that would soon pose an even graver test [graver than impeachment] to his presidency, […]

    Azar told several associates that the president believed he was “alarmist” and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue, even asking one confidant for advice.

    On Jan. 21, a Seattle man who had recently traveled to Wuhan tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first known infection on U.S. soil. Then, two days later, Chinese authorities took the drastic step of shutting down Wuhan […]

    “That was like, whoa,” said a senior U.S. official involved in White House meetings on the crisis. “That was when the Richter scale hit 8.”

    It was also when U.S. officials began to confront the failings of their own efforts to respond.

    Azar […] instructed subordinates to move rapidly to establish a nationwide surveillance system to track the spread of the coronavirus […]

    But doing so would require assets that would elude U.S. officials for months — a diagnostic test that could accurately identify those infected with the new virus and be produced on a mass scale for rapid deployment across the United States, and money to implement the system. […]

    There is no indication that officials sought to escalate the matter or enlist Trump to intervene. In fact, Trump has consistently praised Chinese President Xi Jinping despite warnings from U.S. intelligence and health officials that Beijing was concealing the true scale of the outbreak and impeding cooperation [particularly: not providing a U.S. lab with samples of the virus] on key fronts.

    The CDC had issued its first public alert about the coronavirus Jan. 8, and by the 17th was monitoring major airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, where large numbers of passengers arrived each day from China.

    In other ways, though, the situation was already spinning out of control […] Trump was out of the country for this critical stretch, taking part in the annual global economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. He was accompanied by a contingent of top officials including national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who took a trans-Atlantic call from an anxious Azar.

    Azar told O’Brien that it was “mayhem” at the White House […]

    Azar urged O’Brien to have the NSC assert control over a matter with potential implications for air travel, immigration authorities, the State Department and the Pentagon. […]

    But the rising anxiety within the administration appeared not to register with the president. On Jan. 22, Trump received his first question about the coronavirus in an interview on CNBC while in Davos. Asked whether he was worried about a potential pandemic, Trump said, “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. . . . It’s going to be just fine.”

    The move by the NSC to seize control of the response marked an opportunity to reorient U.S. strategy around containing the virus where possible and procuring resources that hospitals would need in any U.S. outbreak, including such basic equipment as protective masks and ventilators.

    But instead of mobilizing for what was coming, U.S. officials seemed more preoccupied with logistical problems, including how to evacuate Americans from China.

    In Washington, then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Pottinger began convening meetings at the White House with senior officials from HHS, the CDC and the State Department.

    The group, which included Azar, Pottinger and Fauci, as well as nine others across the administration, formed the core of what would become the administration’s coronavirus task force. But it primarily focused on efforts to keep infected people in China from traveling to the United States even while evacuating thousands of U.S. citizens. The meetings did not seriously focus on testing or supplies […]

    The task force was formally announced on Jan. 29. […] The State Department agenda dominated those early discussions, according to participants. Officials began making plans to charter aircraft to evacuate 6,000 Americans stranded in Wuhan. They also debated language for travel advisories that State could issue to discourage other travel in and out of China.

    On Jan. 29, […] China took the draconian step of locking down the entire Hubei province, which encompasses Wuhan.

    That move by Beijing finally prompted a commensurate action by the Trump administration. On Jan. 31, Azar announced restrictions barring any non-U.S. citizen who had been in China during the preceding two weeks from entering the United States.

    Trump has, with some justification, pointed to the China-related restriction as evidence that he had responded aggressively and early to the outbreak. It was among the few intervention options throughout the crisis that played to the instincts of the president, who often seems fixated on erecting borders and keeping foreigners out of the country.

    But by that point, 300,000 people had come into the United States from China over the previous month. […] it is now clear that the virus was spreading uncontrollably.

    Pottinger was by then pushing for another travel ban, this time restricting the flow of travelers from Italy and other nations in the European Union […]

    This time, the plan met with resistance from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others who worried about the impact on the U.S. economy. […]

    Those backing the economy prevailed with the president. And it was more than a month before the administration issued a belated and confusing ban on flights into the United States from Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people crossed the Atlantic during that interval. […]

    A national stockpile of N95 protective masks, gowns, gloves and other supplies was already woefully inadequate after years of underfunding. The prospects for replenishing that store were suddenly threatened by the unfolding crisis in China, which disrupted offshore supply chains.

    Much of the manufacturing of such equipment had long since migrated to China […] At the same time, China was buying up masks and other gear to gird for its own coronavirus outbreak, driving up costs and monopolizing supplies.

    […] Azar and his aides also began raising the need for a multibillion-dollar supplemental budget request to send to Congress. Yet White House budget hawks argued that appropriating too much money at once when there were only a few U.S. cases would be viewed as alarmist. […]

    Azar [drafted] a supplemental request for more than $4 billion, a sum that OMB officials and others at the White House greeted as an outrage. Azar arrived at the White House that day for a tense meeting in the Situation Room that erupted in a shouting match […]

    A deputy in the budget office accused Azar of preemptively lobbying Congress for a gigantic sum that White House officials had no interest in granting. […]

    White House officials relented to a degree weeks later as the feared coronavirus surge in the United States began to materialize. The OMB team whittled Azar’s demands down to $2.5 billion, money that would be available only in the current fiscal year. Congress ignored that figure, approving an $8 billion supplemental bill that Trump signed into law March 7.

    But again, delays proved costly. The disputes meant that the United States missed a narrow window to stockpile ventilators, masks and other protective gear before the administration was bidding against many other desperate nations, […]

    In late March, the administration ordered 10,000 ventilators — far short of what public health officials and governors said was needed. And many will not arrive until the summer or fall, when models expect the pandemic to be receding.

    “It’s actually kind of a joke,” said one administration official […]

    “If you had the testing, you could say, ‘Oh my god, there’s circulating virus in Seattle, let’s jump on it. There’s circulating virus in Chicago, let’s jump on it,’ ” said a senior administration official involved in battling the outbreak. “We didn’t have that visibility.”

    The first setback came when China refused to share samples of the virus, depriving U.S. researchers of supplies to bombard with drugs and therapies in a search for ways to defeat it. But even when samples had been procured, the U.S. effort was hampered by systemic problems and institutional hubris.

    Among the costliest errors was a misplaced assessment by top health officials that the outbreak would probably be limited in scale inside the United States — as had been the case with every other infection for decades — and that the CDC could be trusted on its own to develop a coronavirus diagnostic test. […]

    But the CDC was not built to mass-produce tests.

    […] Stephen Hahn, the FDA commissioner, sought authority in early February to begin calling private diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies to enlist their help.

    But when senior FDA officials consulted leaders at HHS, Hahn, who had led the agency for about two months, was told to stand down. […]

    Relying so heavily on the CDC would have been problematic even if it had succeeded in quickly developing an effective test that could be distributed across the country. The scale of the epidemic, and the need for mass testing far beyond the capabilities of the flu network […]

    The effort collapsed when the CDC failed its basic assignment to create a working test […]

    On Feb. 6, when the World Health Organization reported that it was shipping 250,000 test kits to labs around the world, the CDC began distributing 90 kits to a smattering of state-run health labs.

    Almost immediately, the state facilities encountered problems. The results were inconclusive in trial runs at more than half the labs, meaning they couldn’t be relied upon to diagnose actual patients. The CDC issued a stopgap measure, instructing labs to send tests to its headquarters in Atlanta, a practice that would delay results for days.

    The scarcity of effective tests led officials to impose constraints on when and how to use them, and delayed surveillance testing. […] The limits left top officials largely blind to the true dimensions of the outbreak.

    In a meeting in the Situation Room in mid-February, Fauci and Redfield told White House officials that there was no evidence yet of worrisome person-to-person transmission in the United States. […] But even the country’s top experts had little meaningful data about the domestic dimensions of the threat. […]

    Trump continued to exhibit little concern. On Feb. 10, he held a political rally in New Hampshire attended by thousands where he declared that “by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

    The New Hampshire rally was one of eight that Trump held after he had been told by Azar about the coronavirus, a period when he also went to his golf courses six times.

    A day earlier, on Feb. 9, a group of governors in town for a black-tie gala at the White House secured a private meeting with Fauci and Redfield. The briefing rattled many of the governors […]

    Later in February, U.S. officials discovered indications that the CDC laboratory was failing to meet basic quality-control standards. […]

    On Feb. 29, a Washington state man became the first American to die of a coronavirus infection. That same day, the FDA released guidance, signaling that private labs were free to proceed in developing their own diagnostics.

    Another four-week stretch had been squandered.

    One week later, on March 6, Trump toured the facilities at the CDC wearing a red “Keep America Great” hat. He boasted that the CDC tests were nearly perfect and that “anybody who wants a test will get a test,” a promise that nearly a month later remains unmet. [Trump was lying.] many of the failures to stem the coronavirus outbreak in the United States were either a result of, or exacerbated by, his leadership.

    For weeks, he had barely uttered a word about the crisis that didn’t downplay its severity or propagate demonstrably false information. […]

    At times, he voiced far more authentic concern about the trajectory of the stock market […]

    “The common flu kills tens of thousands each year and “nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he tweeted March 9. A day later, he pledged that the virus would “go away. Just stay calm.”

    Two days later, Trump finally ordered the halt to incoming travel from Europe that his deputy national security adviser had been advocating for weeks. […]

    “[…] the 13th of March is when I saw him really turn the corner. It took a while to realize you’re at war,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. “That’s when he took decisive action that set in motion some real payoffs.”

    Trump spent many weeks shuffling responsibility for leading his administration’s response to the crisis, putting Azar in charge of the task force at first, relying on Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, for brief periods, before finally putting Vice President Pence in the role toward the end of February.

    […] Trump was behind the scenes turning to others with no credentials, experience or discernible insight in navigating a pandemic.

    Foremost among them was his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. A team reporting to Kushner commandeered space on the seventh floor of the HHS building to pursue a series of inchoate initiatives.
    […] the plans have failed to come close to delivering on the promises made when they were touted in White House news conferences. The Kushner initiatives have, however, often interrupted the work of those under immense pressure to manage the U.S. response.

    Current and former officials said that Kadlec, Fauci, Redfield and others have repeatedly had to divert their attentions from core operations to contend with ill-conceived requests from the White House they don’t believe they can ignore. […]

    “Right now Fauci is trying to roll out the most ambitious clinical trial ever implemented” to hasten the development of a vaccine, said a former senior administration official in frequent touch with former colleagues. And yet, the nation’s top health officials “are getting calls from the White House or Jared’s team asking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to do this with Oracle?’ ”

    […] The coronavirus may be the first crisis Trump has faced in office where the facts — the thousands of mounting deaths and infections — are so devastatingly evident that they defy [Trump’s usual tactics]

    After months of dismissing the severity of the coronavirus, resisting calls for austere measures to contain it, and recasting himself as a wartime president, Trump seemed finally to succumb to the coronavirus reality. In a meeting with a Republican ally in the Oval Office last month, the president said his campaign no longer mattered because his reelection would hinge on his coronavirus response.

    “It’s absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days,” he said at his March 31 news conference. “It’s a matter of life and death.”

  10. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Walter Shaub: “I do not understand the federal government collecting taxes from us, using that money to buy medical supplies from the private sector, then giving the supplies to the private sector so the private sector can rip off states that have to purchase the supplies with more tax dollars.”

  11. says

    About those toilet paper shortages:

    […] Collectively, we probably still use the same amount of toilet paper as we did before the pandemic, but suddenly, we’re expected to use more of our own supply. Most people are no longer eating out at restaurants or going to work or school — places where we conveniently use the restroom and the available toilet paper. Georgia-Pacific estimates that the average American household will use about 40 percent more toilet paper than usual if people spend all their time at home.

    As Will Oremus reported for Medium, the toilet paper industry is divided into two markets: consumer (the likes of Quilted Northern, Charmin, or Cottonelle that you use at home) and commercial (bulky rolls of thin, scratchy paper you find in public restrooms). Most toilet paper manufacturers aren’t sure when consumer toilet paper supplies will be “back to normal” because, well, the situation isn’t normal. Businesses, workplaces, schools, and other public spaces that used to order commercial toilet paper have no need for it, while consumer demand has significantly increased. […]

    Since there’s no certain timeline as to when these stay-at-home orders will be lifted, manufacturers don’t have much flexibility to adjust their production capabilities. Plus, most toilet paper mills were already operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week before the coronavirus, […] It’s likely that regular toilet paper will stay in short supply, at least until stay-at-home orders are relaxed or suppliers radically alter their production process to meet demand.

    If you are desperate for toilet paper, you have the option to order commercial-grade TP in bulk online, or you can support local restaurants that have pivoted to selling pantry and kitchen staples, including toilet paper and paper towels. We still have plenty of toilet paper to go around — it just might not be as soft as you’re used to.

    Link

  12. says

    From Wonkette:

    Late Friday night, […] Trump announced that he would be firing intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, whose decision to tell lawmakers about a whistleblower’s assertions about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine resulted in Trump getting impeached. Of course, as an independent watchdog, this was literally an example of Atkinson doing his actual job, but the Trump administration has always been much bigger on loyalty than on people doing their actual jobs.

    In a letter, Trump (or someone writing for him, as is more likely the case) explained that he needs to have the “fullest confidence” in his inspectors general, and that as long as he has the power to fire those he does not have “confidence” in, he will do so.

    Via New York Times:

    “As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Mr. Trump wrote. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.” [Yeah, somebody else definitely wrote that for Trump. There’s even a dependent clause and proper use of commas.]

    The president has long discussed his desire to fire several inspectors general, and he has been talking to aides about his desire to oust Mr. Atkinson since last fall, tarring the inspector general as disloyal because he sought to share information with Congress about the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into delivering him personal political benefits.

    Mr. Atkinson’s fate was sealed after the trial on impeachment charges ended, said one Trump administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a delicate matter.

    Trump then stated that he would soon nominate another inspector general who “has my full confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications.”

    This should not surprise you. It should also not surprise you that technically, the President is not supposed to be allowed to just straight up fire an inspector general out of nowhere. That, in fact, is pretty illegal.

    Under the law that created the position of the inspector general for the intelligence community, the president can only remove that person a month after notifying the intelligence communities of his intentions and rationale.

    But rather than being permitted to serve for another month, the White House told Mr. Atkinson late Friday that he was being placed on administrative leave, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The move effectively circumvents the 30-day safeguard by sidelining him immediately.

    Clearly, the only thing he has true “confidence” in is his ability to do obviously illegal shit with absolutely no consequences.

    Trump also announced the hiring of five new inspectors general, believed to be people who would be a lot more loyal to him.

    The only surprising thing here, really, is that Atkinson wasn’t fired before. Trump has made it very clear that he considers it everyone’s job to be both loyal and “nice” to him, personally — if they want to keep their jobs or get ventilators and masks so that the people in their state don’t die. That means that as long as there is something he can do about it, there can be no such thing as an independent watchdog. The only way to keep one’s job in the Trump administration is to be the Squeaky Fromme to his Charles Manson. […]

    This, unfortunately, is just how things are going to be until he is no longer president. […]

  13. says

    Since it’s a new thread, here again is the link to today’s (April 4) Guardian coronavirus liveblog.

    From there:

    The conspiracy theory that links 5G technology to the spread of coronavirus is “dangerous nonsense”, a British minister said at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing. The bizarre theory has led to phone masts around the UK being attacked.

    You can see Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and medical director of the NHS, Stephen Powis, debunk the theory here:…

    They fostered this credulousness with their Brexit lies. This is the result of their own dangerous nonsense.

  14. says

    Lynna @ #13, thanks so much. I expected I’d probably be enraged by the full report, but still wasn’t prepared for the anger. Same with CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain’s #3.

  15. says

    SC @18, yes. And in the article there are even more examples of Trump’s cluelessness than I included in those excerpts. There are also more examples of infighting, turf wars, and general incompetence on the part of team Trump. There are still a lot of questions about who is in charge of what. Kushner is clogging things up with his cluelessness, and with an arrogance that is hard to comprehend.

    In other news, some people, some industries, are taking advantage of the health crisis to push through their pet projects. This is true of the Keystone XL pipeline:

    Around the world, people are rising to the occasion of the coronavirus pandemic with acts of kindness, sacrifice, and love that remind us why we’re a species worth fighting for. And then there’s the oil industry. Over the past few weeks, it has been working to push through construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The effort began in earnest in mid-March, when several states—including, crucially, South Dakota, which is on the KXL route—passed laws designating pipelines as “critical infrastructure.” South Dakota’s governor went further last week, signing a law that could charge anyone who, with three or more others, acts to cause “damage to property” as a rioter, and made it a felony to “incite” such behavior.

    On Monday, Jason Kenney, [Alberta politician], where the pipeline originates, announced that his government would hand over $1.1 billion dollars to TC Energy, the company building the pipeline. That is enough to cover construction costs for the rest of the year. In addition, Kenney put forward $4.2 billion in credit guarantees, and that was enough for the company, which had been unwilling to commit to the project, to go forward. […] construction will begin immediately, both in Canada and across the border. […] construction workers began arriving in Montana before the state announced a fourteen-day quarantine on travellers arriving from out of state.

    So here’s the situation: in the middle of a pandemic, construction workers will move into isolated rural communities with already strained hospital resources. The “man camps” where many such workers in the industry live are associated with violence against women and other crimes, even in the best of times. Now, with the pandemic, many of the Native communities that live along the pipeline route fear for the worst. “This causes eerie memories for us with the infected smallpox blankets that were distributed to tribes intentionally,” Faith Spotted Eagle, a leader of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, said. (The coronavirus is already wreaking havoc on isolated reservations in other parts of the country, and the chronically underfunded Indian Health Service is struggling to meet the crisis.)

    TC Energy insists that it is building the pipeline now because it will “strengthen the continent’s energy security,” but that’s obvious nonsense—at the moment, a record glut of oil is so overwhelming the market that there’s literally no place left to store it, and Texas (where the Keystone pipeline will terminate) is considering limiting oil production for the first time in fifty years. It’s impossible to think of a less critical thing to be building right now, when we’ve theoretically stopped every business that isn’t “essential.”

    […] Four days after Trump took office, he tried to clear the way for construction to begin again, but, with oil prices tanking, it didn’t happen. (At the moment, West Canada Select, the incredibly dirty tar-sands oil, is worth about four dollars a barrel; it takes a petrostate like Alberta, not a private company, to proceed in those conditions.) It was clear that any action would be met with protest, much like the standoff at Standing Rock that greeted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, in 2016. […] But, of course, no one should be travelling to rural areas now to protest. […]

    […] If the pipeline does get built, it will also serve as a seventeen-hundred-mile-long monument to the power of political influence. Russ Girling, the C.E.O. of TC Energy, thanked not only Premier Kenney but also President Trump, “as well as many government officials across North America for their advocacy without which, individually and collectively, this project could not have advanced.” Truer words are rarely spoken.

    I don’t know if corporations can be evil—I don’t think so, even if the Supreme Court insists on describing them as people. But this is capitalism at its most naked, willing to endanger people in the covid-19 crisis and to heat the earth in the climate crisis, all in search of a bit more profit. In a world running right now on bravery and love, it’s hard to imagine anything much darker.

    The New Yorker link

  16. says

    Humor for a dark time:

    Hello, all,

    Thank you so much for bearing with us as we try to navigate this scary and confusing time. In order to insure the safety and health of our coven, the Siren Sisters of Bramble Grove will now be holding our monthly ritual Satan worship and spell-casting meeting over the video-conferencing platform Zoom. I know you all likely have questions and concerns, many of which I will try to address here.

    On Tuesday, you will be visited by Galgar, cursed raven of the north. Galgar will fly to your window to deliver a scroll containing a nine-digit meeting I.D. and a six-digit passcode, which you can use to log in. A reminder that Galgar is not an I.T. specialist, he is just a bewitched anthropomorphic bird doing his best. We all must go easy on Galgar as he adapts to his new role.

    Once you have logged in to the meeting, make sure that your camera and audio are turned on. If your audio is off and our voices are not in synch, the spells will not work. Please do not pretend that you don’t know how to turn the audio on to avoid participating in the spells. I know we will all be in separate places, but we still need to put in a hundred-per-cent effort, as we would if we were meeting at our rock pentagram in the Hell cave. […]

    Since we cannot gather around our large communal cauldron, we will have to plug our smaller, at-home cauldrons into our computers. If your miniature cauldron is new, you will be able to use wireless Bluetooth connection. I recently realized that my new cauldron also synchs with Spotify!

    Some of you have expressed qualms about the digitization of cauldrons and potion making. Of course I would love to feel the hemlock in my hands instead of just typing “hemlock.” On the bright side, the new technology is able to project the screams of the damned at an even higher volume. Plus, you can decorate your digital potion with fun little gifs of fire and brimstone and people’s skin melting off their face on a loop, which I think is a fun and creative touch. […]

    New Yorker link

  17. says

    More humor for a dark time:

    Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that he had “no idea” who locked Jared Kushner in a White House bathroom.

    Fielding a question at the daily briefing by the Coronavirus Task Force, the esteemed virologist said that it was most likely “a regrettable accident” that resulted in Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law being trapped in the bathroom for nine hours.

    “Doors get locked by mistake all the time,” Fauci said.

    When a reporter pointed out that the bathroom door had been locked from the outside with a padlock, Fauci replied, “Whoa. That’s a different kettle of fish. I had not heard that. Padlock? That’s crazy.”

    Fauci urged the press not to “make too big a deal” of Kushner’s imprisonment in the bathroom, and noted that Vice-President Mike Pence eventually heard Kushner’s screams and came to his rescue.

    Taking another question from reporters, Fauci said he had no idea who locked Representative Devin Nunes in the bathroom.

    New Yorker link

  18. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The press keeps forgetting the Prime Directive. If Trumps’s mouth is open, he is lying….

  19. says

    Dr. Fauci: We don’t have any data to support hydroxychloroquine use.

    Trump: ‘I hope they use the hydroxychloroquine… We have a lot of it… There’s a rumor out there… that people who have lupus haven’t been catching this virus…. I may take it’.”

  20. says

    Excerpts from SC’s link in comment 24:

    “Looks like New York is going to be hit hard,” says Trump, before launching into an attack on New York for requesting “40,000 ventilators,” and insists they could not possibly need that many.

    Trump claims that New York is falsely inflating the number of ventilators it needs: “Sometimes when they know they don’t need it, they want it anyway. It gives them that extra feeling of satisfaction.”

    “We have to open our country again. We have to open our country again. We don’t want to do this for months and months. … We have to open our country again. … We have to open our country again.”

    Trump then reads a list of “great leaders of sport” who also want it opened.

    Trump says he is using the DPA beautifully with companies, even if he doesn’t have to use it, because “the threat of it is usually enough.”

    Trump then notes he will use the DPA as “retaliation” against companies that don’t do what he thinks they should do.

    Trump: “We have to stop playing this game. If a governor says they want 200 ventilators, and then we send 1,000,” the governors then run to the media to whine that they didn’t get what the needed, because that’s how politics works.

    (Trump is just making things up, obviously.)

    There is a lot of noticeable slurring today.

    Trump says that we have “29 million” doses of hydroxychloroquine, Trump’s favorite but completely unproven miracle cure. He says he called India’s PM this morning and asked India to ship us their hydroxychloroquine, because they have a lot.

    In the space of ~60 seconds, Trump says:

    “We have a lot of unity developing that a lot of people didn’t believe it was possible to develop unity like this.”

    “Something no one could have ever projected.”

    “Nobody’s ever seen anything like that.”

    “Things no one even thought of.”

    Dr. Fauci is up now, and is talking about ‘the return to normalcy.’ He says that we’re going to see deaths continue to go up, but that “at the same time we may be seeing an increase in deaths” we should focus instead on new cases, which is a better metric.

    Trump claims that some states have “natural distancing,” because they are spread out, so there’s no need for them to adopt social distancing measures the same way other states are.

    This briefing, Trump is clearly back to his single-minded focus on getting back to normal.

    “As you know, I want the governors to be running things.”

    The only unifying theme of Trump’s coronavirus response is his insistence on taking whatever measures do the most to minimize his own responsibility for any part of it.

    On his decision to fire IG Atkinson: “That’s my decision. I have the absolute right.”

    He then attacks the whistleblower and says “someone should sue his ass off.” A bunch of scary, incoherent nonsense.

    Trump, practically snarling, says that “3M should treat our country well, and if they don’t, they will have a hell of a price to pay.”

    Republicans love it when he does this dictator shit.

    “Mitigation does work, but again, we’re not going to destroy our country. We have to get back.” Trump claims that the mitigation will ultimately kill more people than coronavirus could.

    Trump was slurring his words a lot. Also, he almost pushed Fauci away from the lectern to say, “Mitigation does work, but again, we’re not going to destroy our country. We have to get back.”

    Trump was obsessively repeating things, and was constantly slipping back into the idea of having everyone go back to work, of having the football season start on time, of having all the sports stadiums full of people sitting close to each other, “like they have all my life.”

  21. says

    SC @27 and 28, In interviews on TV news programs, I heard more than one doctor say that they were having trouble getting the right drugs to treat their lupus patients. When Trump claimed to have “29 million” doses of hydroxychloroquine, he was obviously just making shit up. His lies are going to get people killed.

    Today, more than ever, Trump sounded like a patient experiencing early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is not meant to be a diagnosis, but just to emphasize his tendency to repeat himself, to slur his words, and to slip back into old grooves with which he is comfortable. Also, even more than usual, he had trouble focusing.

  22. says

    Fauci said:

    The one thing I am confident in so let’s take this to the bank – that mitigation works.

    Trump rushed Fauci away from the podium, and Trump said:

    Mitigation does work, but again we’re not going to destroy our country. We have to get back. Because you know, at a certain point, you lose more people this way through all of the problems caused than you will with what we’re doing right now.

    We went this extra period of time but I said it from the beginning the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. At a certain point some hard decisions are going to have to be made.

  23. logicalcat says

    @2

    I know Rogan is an idiot, but that’s Breitbart news. I don’t trust them. I wonder if Rogan actually said that at all.

  24. logicalcat says

    @6

    There is some evidence that bits of the virus have been found lingering in the air 3 hours after being expelled from the body. There is no evidence however that those bits (mostly genetic material) can infect someone, but some as you’ve said suggested to assume the worst. This is still not the same as it being an airborne virus, which from what I understand is a virus that attaches itself to dust particles in the air. Measles does this and stays in the air for a ridiculous long time, days even.

    Theoretically(in the colloquial sense) spread of the virus should be low if they follow the rules mentioned in the post you are responding to from the previous thread. That information is legit in slowing the spread. Also Consciousness Razor if your reading this, the person you quoted said scrubbing, not sanitizer lol. Hand sanitizer is whats lacking. Disinfectant is not. I’m an EMT, do you think I scrub my ambulance with sanitizer? Anyways, I wouldn’t risk it anyways. Because this assumes everyone follows the rules effectively, and I can tell you people will not. And even if every poll worker (who are usually elderly and at risk) was educated and practiced enough to do everything correctly, still wouldn’t make the rate of transmission zero. Not worth it. Especially with a virus that grows exponentially like this. Staying home is still the best in limiting the spread.

    The best outcome is for either Biden to push aggressively for only mail in votes and extend the deadline (which already passed), or for Sanders to drop out of the primary since he has no chance of winning. Neither wants to do what they need to do. I blame toxic masculinity.

  25. KG says

    The UK government’s (and particularly Johnson’s) response to the virus has been almost as disastrous as Trump’s – even worse, perhaps, with regard to testing. At the start of the epidemic, Johnson was simply nowhere to be seen, failing to convene the COBRA emergency committee until early March, while his Steve Bannon, dominic Cummings, focused on attacking the civil service and recruiting “misfits and weirdos”. Then there was the switch to the bizarre – and even sinister – “herd immunity” strategy (abandoning testing-and-tracing) on 12th March, which some experts say is still being followed, although they’ve learned not to call it that. We are promised 100,000 tests a day by the end of April, but there’s considerable scepticism about whether that is achievable, and continuing disagreement among experts about whether it should be a priority at this stage. The most prominent critic among politicians has, oddly, not been any of the opposition leaders, but Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s main rival in the Tory leadership contest last year, and, as former Health Secretary, bearing considerable responsibility for the poor state of the NHS – underfunded, understaffed, and repeatedly “reformed” under both “New Labour” and the Tories. Both Labour and the LibDems have been in the throes of leadership contests following their electoral disaster in November. Yesterday, the Labour contest was decisively won by “Sir”* Keir Starmer, a lawyer by profession until 2015, when he entered Parliament. He’s widely considered highly intelligent, but lacking in passion, or at any rate the ability to demonstrate it. He’s avoided identifying closely with any of the party’s factions although he was a strong Remainer, has accepted most of the 2019 manifesto commitments from the left, but the right of the party is delighted by his victory over Rebecca Long-Bailey, viewed as the “Corbyn continuity” candidate. He clearly has a difficult task in holding the government to account without been seen to threaten “national unity”. Johnson has invited the Parliamentary leaders of all the opposition parties to a meeting later this week. Normally one would say this is a good thing in such an emergency, but given Johnson’s dishonesty and narcissism – which rival Trump’s – I suspect it’s just a step in “Operation spread the blame”.

    *Acceptance of this bauble, for his work as Director of Public Prosecutions (I guess the neaerst US equivalent is Attorney General), is a bad sign

  26. KG says

    Keir Starmer was named by his parents after Keir Hardie, Labour’s first Parliamentary leader. It’s been noted that Labour has now had two leaders named Keir, before getting round to being led by a woman. The new deputy leader is Angela Rayner, considered to belong to the “soft left” of the party, but she’s not the first female deputy leader.

  27. KG says

    or for Sanders to drop out of the primary since he has no chance of winning – logicalcat@34

    That’s not certain, because (a) many primaries are being postponed to June, and a lot will happen between now and then (and this could include more women coming forward to testify against Biden), and (b) Biden could die or become too incapacitated to continue – as could Sanders or Trump, of course.

  28. says

    logicalcat @ #33, Guardian – “Joe Rogan would ‘rather vote for Trump than Biden’ after endorsing Sanders”:

    The podcast host Joe Rogan has said he will vote for Donald Trump over Joe Biden in the presidential election, should the former vice-president be the Democratic nominee.

    The comic was speaking on Friday’s edition of his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, which regularly tops the iTunes chart for downloads. Rogan has nearly 6m Twitter followers, regularly appears on television as a commentator on mixed martial arts, and is seen as an influential voice with young and blue-collar male voters.

    During a conversation with guest Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital, talk turned to the election. Weinstein, who works for the Trump-supporting tech mogul Peter Thiel, said he would not vote for Trump or Biden, the probable challenger in November.

    “I’d rather vote for Trump than [Biden],” said Rogan….

    “The pressure of being president of the United States is something that no one has ever prepared for. The only one who seems to be fine with it is Trump, oddly enough.” [Imbecile – SC]

    The president is 73 but Rogan said: “He doesn’t seem to be aging at all or in any sort of decline. Obama, almost immediately, started looking older. George W [Bush], almost immediately, started looking older.”

    Sanders, who took an early lead in the delegate race before losing a string of contests to Biden, is a year older than the former VP.

    Rogan has made many controversial statements. In January the president of the Human Rights Campaign said then Sanders should reconsider accepting Rogan’s endorsement, because the podcaster had “attacked transgender people, gay men, women, people of colour and countless marginalised groups at every opportunity”.

    A Sanders spokeswoman said: “Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we will never compromise our values.”

    Writing for the Guardian, Jacobin magazine editor Bhaskar Sunkara said the Rogan endorsement was “the best endorsement Bernie Sanders could hope for”, as Rogan’s “fans are a group of people we can’t afford to cede to Trump”.

  29. says

    Here’s a link to today’s (April 5) Guardian coronavirus liveblog (support the Guardian if you can).

    From there:

    Isolated from state governors and his own cabinet, in open warfare with his health minister and facing calls for his removal, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has turned today to a new weapon to fight coronavirus: a day of prayer and fasting.

    The president said the plan was for “Brazil to be free of this evil as soon as possible,” during a radio interview on Thursday.

    According to the Rede Brasil Atual site, the suggestion was made by pastors gathered in front of the presidential palace earlier the same day – where evangelical supporters have prayed for the president during his daily conversation with fans and reporters.

    A video published on Bolsonaro’s facebook page on Saturday quoted the bible (2 Chronicles 20:3) and featured a list of famous pastors supporting the move.

    “Sunday is the day of fast,” Bolsonaro said in the video.

    “The biggest evangelical leaders of this country attended a holy proclamation made by the supreme chief of the nation, the president Jair Messias Bolsonar, and invited the biggest army of Christians to the biggest fast and prayer campaign ever seen in the history of Brazil,” the narrator continued.

    “Fast, pray and ask for mercy so that this plague that came over the world ceases,” said Pastor Marco Feliciano, a congressman and leading Bolsonaro ally.

    But as cases of the virus Bolsonaro has dismissed as a “little flu” continuing to rise in his country – Brazil now has 10,278 cases and 432 deaths – not all religious leaders were convinced.

    “The president’s job is to follow the constitution, put all his energy into resolving together with all the other instituted powers, this gigantic crisis,” Lutheran pastor Romi Bencke, general secretary of Brazil’s National Council of Christian Churches, told Rede Brasil Atual.

    Leftist politician Guilherme Boulos tweeted a video of Pope Francis talking about fast. “Does my fast come to help others? If it doesn’t come to help others, it’s pretend, it’s incoherent, and it leads you to a double life,” the pope said in the video.

  30. says

    Reuters – “Exclusive: Pressed by Trump, U.S. pushed unproven coronavirus treatment guidance”:

    In mid-March, President Donald Trump personally pressed federal health officials to make malaria drugs available to treat the novel coronavirus, though they had been untested for COVID-19, two sources told Reuters.

    Shortly afterward, the federal government published highly unusual guidance informing doctors they had the option to prescribe the drugs, with key dosing information based on unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science.

    While Trump, in a series of tweets and press comments, had made his opinions on the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, well known, the nature of his behind-the-scenes intervention has not been previously reported. The guidance, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has received scant notice outside medical circles.

    The episode reveals how the president’s efforts could change the nature of drug oversight, a field long governed by strict rules of science and testing. Rarely, if ever, has a U.S. president lobbied regulators and health officials to focus their efforts on specific unproven drugs.

    “The president is short-circuiting the process with his gut feelings,” said Jeffrey Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School. “We are in an emergency and we need to rely on our government to ensure that all these potential therapies are tested in the most effective and objective way.”

    In a statement to Reuters, the White House said the president had not launched a “pressure campaign” but was taking appropriate action.

    “The President’s top priority is the health and safety of the American people which is why he has brought together the federal government and private sector, including doctors, scientists, and medical researchers, for an unprecedented collaboration to expedite vaccine development,” said the statement, which did not address Reuters questions about the CDC guidance.

    The first official action came March 21, at the height of the president’s efforts, when the CDC prepared a document, Information for Clinicians on Treatment Options for COVID-19 Patients, that included a section on the antimalarial drugs.

    The document describes possible prescription information for coronavirus patients, while at the same time proposing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as an option in coronavirus treatment. It was the first time the federal government’s disease control agency had officially floated the idea.

    “Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown,” the document says, “some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally” about different hydroxychloroquine doses.

    The document does not name the clinicians, say whether their treatment was successful or explain the paper’s sourcing.

    Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, says she was surprised to read the document guidance, after Reuters pointed it out to her. “Geez!” she said. “No references, no nothing! Why would CDC be publishing anecdotes? That doesn’t make sense. This is very unusual.”

    Flier, the former Harvard dean, agreed. “It’s kind of offering these drugs up and suggesting that doctors might prescribe them when it’s obviously not established whether or not they are effective or harmful,” he said.

    The CDC declined to detail the interactions of its director, Dr. Robert Redfield, with President Trump. In a statement, the agency said the guidance was prepared at the request of the coronavirus task force and doctors who “requested CDC review the literature, compose, and post the information as quickly as possible.”

    “The agency did,” the statement said.

    The CDC would not disclose the identities of the authors who prepared the document, nor detail its sourcing. The document said it was reviewed by the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases.

    Trump’s push for action came after Fox News on March 16 reported on a small French study highlighting the effectiveness of one of the drugs, hydroxychloroquine. Fox News interviewed a lawyer it said was involved, Gregory Rigano, who said “we have strong reason to believe that a preventative dose of hydroxychloroquine is going to prevent the virus from attaching to the body and just get rid of it completely.”

    Rigano, appearing on Fox News again two days later, said the president “has the authority to authorize the use of hydroxychloroquine against coronavirus immediately.”

    Rigano did not respond to an emailed request for comment from Reuters.

    On March 19, Trump vowed to make the drugs more widely available. “It’s shown very encouraging – very, very encouraging early results,” he said at a press conference. “And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately….”…

  31. says

    AP – “U.S. ‘wasted’ months before preparing for virus pandemic”:

    As the first alarms sounded in early January that an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China might ignite a global pandemic, the Trump administration squandered nearly two months that could have been used to bolster the federal stockpile of critically needed medical supplies and equipment.

    A review of federal purchasing contracts by The Associated Press shows federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers.

    By that time, hospitals in several states were treating thousands of infected patients without adequate equipment and were pleading for shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile. That federal cache of supplies was created more than 20 years ago to help bridge gaps in the medical and pharmaceutical supply chains during a national emergency.

    Now, three months into the crisis, that stockpile is nearly drained just as the numbers of patients needing critical care is surging. Some state and local officials report receiving broken ventilators and decade-old dry-rotted masks.

    “We basically wasted two months,” Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary during the Obama administration, told AP….

    Much more atl.

  32. says

    Josh Marshall at TPM – “What’s Up with the Feds Seizing PPE Shipments to States and Hospitals?”:

    …There are two key issues to consider here.

    One is that the federal government is telling states that they are responsible for getting their own supplies and should only appeal to the federal government in emergencies. (See the recent debate about who the federal stockpile is for.) But at the same time federal authorities are seizing shipments that states, local governments and major medical organizations have purchased. At best this is a contradictory and poorly communicated policy.

    It’s also very unclear just who is seizing the supplies, what they’re being used for or who is getting access to them. The assumption seems to be that they are being handed over to FEMA for distribution to other parts of the country. As explained by Admiral Polowczyk on Thursday at the White House briefing) or whether they are being distributed to other parts of the country on a preferential basis. We simply don’t know. It’s unclear to me yet whether these suspicions are based on actual information received by those who have had their shipments confiscated or whether it’s just speculation and suspicion in a chaotic and frustrating situation.

    In any case, we need to know more. States have been asking the federal government to take over the process of provisioning the country with these critical PPE goods. That at least would avoid states being forced to bid up prices by bidding against each other. After having FEMA swoop in and purchase ventilators that Colorado was in the process of buying, Gov. Jared Polis (D) said: “Either be in or out. [Either let] us know what we’re going to get and when we’re going to get them or stay out and let us buy them.” But these seizures of shipments are at best causing confusion for desperate states and hospitals. And they seem so haphazard that they are raising legitimate questions about whether they are being allocated to states in a preferential or politicized fashion.

    We need to know more. If you see relevant press reports or if you personally know relevant information please contact us as soon as possible. Confidentiality assured.

  33. says

    G liveblog:

    Italy registered 525 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily rate within the last two weeks and down from the record high of 969 on 27 March.

    For the first time, the total number of people hospitalised across Italy fell by 61 ( from 29,010 to 28,949 in a day). This comes alongside a second day-to-day decrease in the number of intensive care unit beds in use.

    The number of new confirmed cases increased by 2,972, a 3.3% rise compared to Saturday, but almost half the number of new cases recorded on 20 March.

    Italy’s civil protection authority said on Sunday that 21,815 people had so far recovered from the virus, 819 more than on Saturday.

  34. says

    Sen Murphy:

    When I got to Congress in 2007, voting rights was not really an issue that divided Ds and Rs. Helping people vote wasn’t a priority of the left or right, it was just an American priority.

    Now, stopping people from voting is, arguably, the most important goal of the GOP.

  35. consciousness razor says

    logicalcat, #34:

    Also Consciousness Razor if your reading this, the person you quoted said scrubbing, not sanitizer lol. Hand sanitizer is whats lacking. Disinfectant is not.

    They’ll need both, and we don’t need the quote to say so, in order for that to be the case. Many supplies like that were supposed to be distributed to polling locations in the March 17 primaries too, but what they did have was inadequate. Even if they’re actually going to do what they promise this time, it would still not be enough.

    The best outcome is for either Biden to push aggressively for only mail in votes and extend the deadline (which already passed), or for Sanders to drop out of the primary since he has no chance of winning.

    There are down-ballot races, and people have a right to vote on those too. Sanders dropping out (or Biden, or any of the lesser-known candidates) would have no effect on that. The only good option is to cancel in-person voting.

    Neither wants to do what they need to do. I blame toxic masculinity.

    I blame it on the various state officials (in WI and elsewhere) who are responsible for going through with in-person voting, despite the warnings from countless health experts, despite the dramatically reduced number of poll workers and polling locations, and so forth. I don’t think gender has anything to do with that.

  36. johnson catman says

    re SC @44: Fuck Franklin Graham and any other christian that is trying to use the pandemic to push their political agenda to force their religion onto others. I (and many others) don’t want what he is selling.

  37. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The vote of Joe Rogan, professional idiot, doesn’t matter. I believe he lives in CA, which is going to vote blue no matter what. What I worry about is that many of his fanbois will follow his lead. Just have to hope that their vote, similarly, doesn’t matter.

  38. says

    Devin Nunes said some more offensive, stupid stuff:

    […] Rep. Devin Nunes went on Fox and Friends Sunday morning and described his state’s homeless population as a “zombie apocalypse” of “criminals,” while falsely suggesting they had extra protection against coronavirus because they live outside.

    “The situation out here in California with the homeless population is quite dire—that was before the coronavirus,” Nunes said. “It’s almost like zombie apocalypse…You’ve seen the pictures.”

    “I’ve got several thousand just in my district,” the California congressman added. “It’s largely due because we let our criminals out. So we pass laws that let multiple convicted drug abusers out. Now look, unfortunately, a lot of these people—I call it zombie apocalypse, because a lot of these people have done drugs for a long period of time. You know, they’re just not well.”

    “One of the positive things in all this,” he continued, “is if you’re outside in the outdoors, you’re social distancing, we haven’t seen it run through homeless population—at least, that we know of yet—like we’ve seen, to my earlier point, in these group homes with older people that have underlying health conditions.”

    (This is, by the way, the same congressman who last month scoffed at the advice to social distance when he told Fox viewers that the pandemic was a “great time to go out and go to a local restaurant” because “likely you can get in easy.”)

    It’s hard to know which part of Nunes’ comments are most offensive—comparing families without homes to corpses come back to life, or seeming to say that people who struggle with addiction should be incarcerated for the rest of their lives. While it’s true that California has a large population of unhoused individuals, and that a majority of them were incarcerated before becoming homeless, locking people up for decades for nonviolent crimes will only fuel mass incarceration and do little to ease the underlying poverty and poor medical care that force people to sleep on the streets.

    And suggesting that homeless people are in some ways lucky to sleep outside during the pandemic is also contrary to everything that public health experts are saying right now. Homeless people are actually at a higher risk of serious complications to the virus—both because they tend to have preexisting health conditions that haven’t been treated, and because they can’t follow orders to isolate themselves indoors. California is now trying to house hundreds of homeless people in hotel and motel rooms around the state as part of its emergency response. “Homeless Californians are incredibly vulnerable to COVID-19 and often have no option to self-isolate or social distance,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Friday.

    “It’s never been as clear as it is right now that housing is health care and our collective health depends on our ability to stay at home,” Diane Yentel, who leads the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told my colleague Nathalie Baptiste. “If we don’t have homes to stay in we put people at an immediate and extreme risk, and we risk the health of entire communities. As long as there are people who don’t have homes to isolate in, we are not truly containing this pandemic.”

    Link

  39. says

    From musician and artist David Byrne:

    In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behavior accordingly.

    Are we willing to do this? Is this moment an opportunity to see how truly interdependent we all are? To live in a world that is different and better than the one we live in now? We might be too far down the road to test every asymptomatic person, but a change in our mindsets, in how we view our neighbors, could lay the groundwork for the collective action we’ll need to deal with other global crises. The time to see how connected we all are is now.

  40. says

    G liveblog:

    The UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital for tests after showing persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive.

    A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “On the advice of his doctor, the Prime Minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests.

    “This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

    “The Prime Minister thanks NHS staff for all of their incredible hard work and urges the public to continue to follow the Government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

    Johnson remains in charge of the government and in contact with ministers and officials.

    Johnson on March 27 became the first leader of a major power to announce that he had tested positive. He has been isolating in his Downing Street flat since.

  41. says

    More:

    The BBC reports that the prime minister is expected to stay in hospital overnight.

    As the first secretary of state, Dominic Raab is expected to chair the government’s Monday morning meeting.

  42. says

    G liveblog: “Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood has resigned.”

    While advising the public not to travel to their country homes (for those who have country homes), she…traveled to her country home.

  43. says

    Just in: A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for coronavirus, and several other animals are also showing symptoms. ‘Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus’.”

  44. says

    Esper: ‘I’m pleased to report…over half of the ship has been tested. Only 155 sailors have come up positive’.

    Over half is pleasing? Why not all?
    ‘Only 155’. Only!…
    Would be more than 155 if not for Captain Crozier’s courage.”

    Video atl.

  45. says

    Guardian – “Boris Johnson admitted to hospital with coronavirus”:

    Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital with coronavirus after suffering persistent symptoms for 10 days.

    Downing Street insisted it was just a precautionary measure but Johnson’s admission on a Sunday evening comes after days of rumours that his condition has been worsening.

    A Downing Street spokesperson said: “On the advice of his doctor, the prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests. This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.”

    Johnson is reported to be in an NHS hospital in London where he will stay for “as long as needed”.

    It is understood Johnson remains in charge of the government, although Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, is poised to take charge if he should worsen.

    Raab, who is the designated minister to take over if the PM is incapacitated, will chair the 9.15am Monday meeting of the government’s C-19 committee, which leads the response to the pandemic.

    Johnson had been hoping to leave quarantine on Friday after seven days of self isolation but his persistent temperature meant he had to remain inside his flat at No 11 Downing Street.

    The Guardian was told last week that Johnson was more seriously ill than either he or his officials were prepared to admit, and that he was being seen by doctors who were concerned about his breathing.

    But Downing Street flatly denied that the prime minister’s health had seriously deteriorated, and insisted there were no plans at that point for him to be admitted to hospital.

    Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, revealed on Saturday that she had also been suffering from the virus but is recovering.

    Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, was among a string of MPs to tweet their best wishes to Johnson. “Wishing the prime minister well and a speedy recovery,” he wrote.

    Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and Johnson’s main rival for the Conservative leadership last year, tweeted: “Thoughts with Boris Johnson this evening. Whatever political persuasion the whole country is united in wanting our PM to get fit and well as soon as possible.”

  46. says

    Yesterday’s Lovett or Leave It – “Masking My Feelings”: “Alex Wagner, Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, and Saru Jayaraman join for the fourth Back in the Closet episode. Plus we attempt a live audience with our friends in Seattle and Spokane (huge success!), and listeners share their weird new self-care rituals. Bag two of Hershey’s nuggets: done.”

  47. says

    Governors Rip Into Trump’s Federal Government ‘Backup’ Remark

    TPM link

    […] When asked about Trump blaming states for ventilator shortages on CNN, Pritzker responded that the President “does not understand the word ‘federal.’”

    “We have a state Emergency Management Agency, but, if he were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency? It’s because individual states can’t possibly do what the federal government can do,”Pritzker said. “[States] don’t have a Defense Production Act. There’s no way that we could stockpile in anticipation of a pandemic that no one anticipated. And yet the federal government is responsible for doing precisely that.”

    Pritzker also criticized Trump for ignoring intelligence sources in January and February and seeming “not to have acted at all upon it.”

    “If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems that we have today,” Pritzker said. “And, frankly, very many fewer people would die.” […]

    After telling Fox News Sundays’ Chris Wallace that she’s “grateful” for the 300 ventilators that her state received from the federal government, Whitmer added that she finds the lack of a “national strategy” troubling.

    “Not having a national strategy where there is one policy for the country, as opposed to a patchwork based on whomever the governor is, is something that I think is creating a more porous situation where COVID-19 will go longer and more people will get sick and sadly more lives may get lost,” Whitmer said. “And that’s precisely why I think we all have to do our jobs. We’re not one another’s enemy.”

    Whitmer said that combating the spread of COVID-19 involves “all hands on deck.”

    “The enemy is COVID-19 and it has to be all hands on deck from the federal level to the state level to the local level,” Whitmer said. “And that’s precisely what we’re trying to do because COVID-19, as I said, doesn’t discriminate on party line or state line and that’s why we have to have a national strategy and we all have to work on the same team.” […]

    Much like Whitmer’s sentiments, Inslee told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that it’s “ludicrous” to “not have a national effort in this” despite his state having “good communications” with Vice President Mike Pence and the CDC.

    Inslee particularly took aim at Trump’s “backup” remark.

    “To say ‘we’re a backup’ — I mean, the Surgeon General alluded to Pearl Harbor. Can you imagine if Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: ‘I’ll be right behind you, Connecticut. Good luck building those battleships,’” Inslee said. “Look, we need a national mobilization of the manufacturing base of the United States, as we’d started on December 8, 1941.”

    Inslee went on to argue the need to “nationally mobilize” by using the Defense Production Act to ramp up the amount of test kits.

    “We don’t have enough test kits by far in my state or anywhere in the United States,” Inslee said. “So we governors, Republicans and Democrats, have been urging the President to do what he should which is if he wants to be a wartime president, be a wartime president. Show some leadership. Mobilize the industrial base of the United States. That’s what we need.” […]

  48. says

    70 Percent of People Killed in Chicago by the Coronavirus Are Black

    Mother Jones link

    The federal government still isn’t sharing any official statistics regarding the racial breakdown of coronavirus deaths. But this information is starting to seep out at the local level from some states and cities, showing that the pandemic is disproportionately killing Black Americans and other communities of color.

    In Chicago, new data released Saturday showed that 70 percent of people who have died from COVID-19 in the city were Black, according to a report by the radio station WBEZ. Black people make up 29 percent of the city’s total population.

    Similar numbers are emerging elsewhere. In New York, the epicenter for the coronavirus in the United States, the highest concentration of infections has been in low-income neighborhoods with big immigrant populations. In Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, 81 percent of people killed by the virus have been Black, according to a ProPublica investigation, though just 26 percent of the county’s population identifies as Black. In Michigan, where Black people make up 12 percent of the population, 40 percent of those killed have been Black, many of them in Detroit.

    The novel coronavirus is infecting people of all races and income levels, but it is also exposing familiar patterns of racial gaps in health outcomes that stem from systemic discrimination in access to employment, housing, and medical care.

    Black people are more likely than white people to use public transportation to travel to jobs that can’t be worked from home, making social distancing more difficult. They’re also less likely to have health insurance, and more likely to have preexisting conditions like asthma that make them particularly vulnerable to the virus.

    In Chicago, health experts noted that Black people are more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, and respiratory problems, conditions that can stem from and be exacerbated by poverty, environmental pollution, and limited access to doctors.

    For those who can get to a hospital, more problems may await. One study of several states, highlighted by NPR, indicated that doctors may be less likely to refer Black individuals for testing when they come in with symptoms like fever, coughing, and trouble breathing. And in some low-income neighborhoods, it can take longer to get a test because testing centers have struggled to acquire equipment and protective gear. […]

  49. says

    Follow-up to SC @53, (that is a weirdly scary presentation, by the way, at the link provided by SC).

    Rudy Giuliani is to behind at least some of Trump’s touting of hydroxychloroquine.

    Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s attorney, says he has been touting anti-malaria drugs as a possible coronavirus treatment in private conversations with the president.

    Giuliani told The Washington Post on Sunday he has advocated for an anti-malarial drug cocktail to Trump in “three or four” one-on-one phone calls and also to doctors, coronavirus patients and hospital executives. […]

    [Giuliani] has promoted the drug combination on his Twitter account, prompting the social media giant to briefly lock him out of his account after he posted the combination was 100 percent effective.

    Giuliani has cited to the president a small study in France that indicated the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine may help treat the disease. But previous research has found it can cause side effects like fatal cardiac complications.

    Several people, including infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, have cautioned moving forward with the drugs used to treat malaria, but Giuliani cited the prospective death toll numbers of between 100,000 and 240,000 as reasoning to try the combination.

    “We’ve got to take a little risk, god dammit, if we want to save lives,” he said. “We are looking at a slaughter.” […]

    The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency order to approve the use of the anti-malarial drugs for some coronavirus patients.

    “The known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus outweigh the known and potential risks when used under the conditions described in [the order],” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said, according to the Post.

    The president has also publicly praised anti-malaria drugs and encouraged medical professionals to begin using it. Reuters reported Sunday that the president had pressured health officials to make the drugs available for COVID-19 patients.

    “I hope they use it, because I’ll tell you what, what do you have to lose?” the president said during Saturday’s press briefing. “I may take it. I’ll have to ask my doctors about that.”

  50. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @66:

    I may take it. I’ll have to ask my doctors about that.

    Hmmmmm. Maybe he should take LARGE quantities of it to make sure he doesn’t get the virus.

  51. says

    Daniel Dale:

    Trump on hydroxychloroquine: “What do I know, I’m not a doctor…but I have common sense…as you know, they’ve approved it…they gave it a rapid approval.”

    It has not been FDA-“approved” for the coronavirus. The FDA gave it a limited emergency use authorization.

    Some news reports on the limited emergency use authorization used the phrase “FDA approves”; the FDA did allow this emergency use. But “approval” means a specific thing in the medical world, and the FDA has emphasized that no drug has been approved for the coronavirus.

    This is from today – just now. I have to say I don’t love the accounts that portray people like Fauci as “skeptical” of the drug’s effectiveness or safety. It’s undergoing clinical trials right now. Everyone wants this or any of the other drugs being developed or tested to be great, safe treatments, but the only way to know is to test them properly. If any of them prove to be safe and effective, that won’t mean the irresponsible people hyping them now were right or that the people saying there needs to be scientific evidence of effectiveness and safety were wrong.

  52. says

    Guardian – “Johnson’s hospital admission suggests virus may have progressed”:

    Most people recover from Covid-19 within a week and cannot even be certain they had it, as they probably won’t be tested. The advice is to stay home, rest and take paracetamol. In 80% of cases, that is the end of it.

    But NHS advice is that if the symptoms – mainly the dry cough, temperature and fatigue – have not gone by the end of a week, or they get worse, people should seek medical help.

    Unlike Matt Hancock, the health secretary, who revealed he had Covid-19 on the same day as the prime minister, Boris Johnson has not recovered within the first week. He is said to have been admitted to hospital for tests, which may include scans of his lungs to check for pneumonia, as well as blood tests. He had a diagnostic test for Covid-19, so doctors will be looking for progression of the disease and to establish that he has not entered the second phase, where the immune system goes into overdrive.

    Given the increasing pressure on hospitals at the moment, it is unlikely he will have been admitted unless doctors have real concerns. Minor tests could be carried out in Downing Street….

    More general information at the link.

  53. blf says

    SC@52, “I’m amused that when [Ms Windsor] says ‘We will meet again’ it sounds vaguely menacing to me.”

    Heh. In case you didn’t recognise the reference, it was almost certainly to We’ll Meet Again (video), famously sung by Vera Lynn in 1939.

  54. blf says

    ‘Trump is killing his own supporters’ — even White House insiders know it:

    A plague is raging and the president [sic] is leaving the heartlands and blue-collar voters exposed. This could be the endgame

    On Sunday, initially at least, there was no White House briefing on the president’s public schedule. But the bad news kept coming. Coronavirus deaths continued to climb and reports of the heartland being unprepared for what may be on its horizon continued to ricochet around the media.

    In the words of one administration insider, to the Guardian: “The Trump organism is simply collapsing. He’s killing his own supporters.”[]

    Members of the national guard, emergency workers, rank-and-file Americans: all are exposed. Yet Trump appears incapable of emoting anything that comes close to heart-felt concern. Or just providing straight answers.

    Rather, he is acting like Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America: repeatedly letting governors know the burden of shoring up their sick, their doctors and their people falls on their shoulders first. The national government? It’s the world’s greatest backstop.

    […]

    Think Trump University on steroids, only this time we all stand to be the victims.

    [… O]nce again we are reminded that Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s masterpiece, Gladiator, is the movie for this presidency and its tumultuous times. In one scene, a senator, Gracchus, attempts to confront Commodus, the emperor, about a plague spreading through Rome. The emperor declines, threatens the senator and muses about disbanding the Senate.

    […]

    Whether Trump wins reelection is an open question. For now, the economy is cratering and the coronavirus death toll has exploded. Not a promising combination. Herbert Hoover faced a depression, not a plague. Trump may contend with both.

    According to Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and the man who sent Charlie Kushner, Jared’s father, to prison, November will be a referendum on Trump. Joe Biden is nearly irrelevant.

    […]

      † Sadly, this opinion piece does not provide any reference for the quote.

  55. blf says

    Al Jazeera is trying to figure out this live blogging thing. It’s not a patch on the Grauniad, but better than their previous pathetic efforts (which I’ve moaned about before).

  56. says

    blf @ #70, yes, I have several WWII music collections. (Will be watching the US premiere of World on Fire in about a half hour on PBS, of course, and of course I had to go to your link and listen.) It’s something about how she says it that combines the sweetness with an intensity that makes me think of action movies – like “We’ll meet again, my friend.” Made it even better.

  57. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    More of the effects of hydroxychloroquine, the drug being touted by Trump as something that causes no harm, so “we might as well try,”. According to Australia’s Therapeutic Drugs Administration:

    well-known serious risks to patients including cardiac toxicity (potentially leading to sudden heart attacks), irreversible eye damage and severe depletion of blood sugar (potentially leading to coma)”

    The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia wrote to members urging them to “refuse the dispensing of hydroxychloroquine if there is not a genuine need”.

  58. blf says

    Not (currently) political (and not obviously related to the Covid-19 pandemic), ‘Bad news’: radiation spikes 16 times above normal after forest fire near Chernobyl:

    […]
    Ukraine has reported a spike in radiation levels in the restricted zone around Chernobyl, scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident, caused by a forest fire.

    “There is bad news — radiation is above normal in the fire’s centre,” Yegor Firsov, head of Ukraine’s state ecological inspection service, said on Facebook on Sunday.

    The post included a video with a Geiger counter showing radiation at 16 times above normal.

    […]

    On Sunday morning, the fire was not visibly burning and no increase in radiation in the air had been detected, the emergencies service said in a statement.

    […]

    Fires are common in the forests near the disused power plant.

    The mildly deranged penguin disavows having anything to do with the fires. She points to the lack of large smoking craters, and a general lack of cheese in the area, as proof, but suggests Rudy Giuliani will soon concoct a conspiracy theory.

  59. blf says

    SC@74, “Will be watching the US premiere of World on Fire in about a half hour on PBS […].”

    Had to go and look that one up (I’d never(?) heard of it). I can fairly clearly recall watching The World at War when it first(?) aired on PBS. Completely different sort of beastie, of course, World on Fire is a drama, whilst The World at War is, as per the linked Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge article, “a 26-episode British television documentary series chronicling the events of the Second World War [… and] the most expensive factual series ever made.”

  60. blf says

    French factory adapts its ventilator for the fight against coronavirus (video):

    It’s all hands on deck in a factory in eastern France that typically makes a non-invasive ventilator used to treat sleep apnea. The factory’s 35 workers are now producing a version of this machine that allows coronavirus patients to be ventilated outside of intensive care units, reducing the burden on hospitals.“We are overloaded with work and we are on our feet,” one worker told FRANCE 24. “But we’re in good health, so it’s quite right that we put in the hours.”The factory’s first order was marked for Grenoble, France, with successive ones bound for Spain, Poland and Colombia.

    Weirdly, for some reason, the name of the company (Sefam) is ringing a bell — a good bell, not a warning — but I cannot figure out why…

  61. blf says

    As the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog points out, “a month ago today [UK time –blf], on 6 March, the US had confirmed just 214 coronavirus cases, according to Centers for Disease Control data. Now it has 337,274. Almost 10,000 Americans have died as a result of the pandemic […]”.

  62. blf says

    Ben Jennings in fhe Grauniad, Approved sunbathing during lockdown (cartoon).

    One reader’s comment:

    There’s a picture going around Social Media, it is of a US Marine lifting a Donkey on his back through a mine field in WWII.

    It says “This soldier is not lifting the donkey because they were frightened it would get killed in the mine field, but because if the Donkey was allowed to run free, it would step on mines and kill other soldiers too.”

    The last sentence is about Jackasses endangering other people because of their stupidity.

    Which is about right for the ijeets breaking the guidelines today.

    However, according to Snopes, Is This Soldier Carrying a Donkey to Keep It Out of a Minefield?:

    The picture actually dates from 1958, during the Algerian War (i.e., a war for independence waged against French forces in Colonial Algeria). And it depicts a starving donkey that was rescued by a member of the French Foreign Legion who carried it back to his base, where the animal was nursed back to health, given the name “Bambi,” and adopted as a unit mascot […]

  63. says

    Update: I enjoyed the first episode of World on Fire.

    (I also enjoyed bingewatching Elite on Netflix, so make of that what you will. :))

    JUST IN: Striking new statement from IC inspector general Michael Atkinson, who was fired by Trump on Friday. ‘It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations…'”

    Statement atl, with a message to whistleblowers at the end.

  64. logicalcat says

    @46 CR

    Fair enough, canceling in person voting in favor of mail in seems the right thing to do. But as for this not being toxic masculinity; Whats Sanders excuse other than that? He could drop out of the race easy. Hell he has the perfect excuse, there’s a pandemic happening. He is so far behind that it would take a miracle for him to win. Hillary dropped out way before Sanders when it became clear that Obama was winning the primary. Whats his deal?

  65. logicalcat says

    Thanks SC for the link. Tho I shouldn’t be so lazy.

    Joe Rogan

    “The pressure of being president of the United States is something that no one has ever prepared for. The only one who seems to be fine with it is Trump, oddly enough.”

    As a fan of MMA I respect his commentary, but my god he is such an idiot. Trump is not handling the pressure of this pandemic anywhere close to well at all. How stupid do you have to be to believe this? Every tweet of his is so obvious a desperate lie from someone who does not have it controlled or handled well. I mean dear god, Rogan. Wow.

  66. says

    In case you didn’t recognise the reference, it was almost certainly to We’ll Meet Again (video), famously sung by Vera Lynn in 1939.

    It’s also the song playing at the end of Dr. Strangelove, when the whole world is blown to hell due to the incompetence of the people in charge. Oddly appropriate.

  67. Saad says

    SC, #83

    SMH.

    And it worked for him too. We need to get used to this new normal of having a dictator. He openly and in front of video cameras ordered the truth to be suppressed and everyone shrugged and went “yeah, alright.” I’m sure the rest of the reporters continued with their planned questions as if nothing happened, right?

  68. KG says

    Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson has been taken to hospital as a result of his Covid-19. It is claimed that this is “precautionary” and in order to run tests, but he would not have been hospitalised unless his condition was quite serious. Since his dilatory and bungled response to the pandemic and the reckless personal behaviour that likely led to him contracting the disease has probably cost several thousand deaths, plus additional economic damage, I’m finding it hard to feel any sympathy.

  69. KG says

    I hadn’t seen SC’s #69 before submitting #88 – I thought I’d gone back to where I last left off reading comments, but apparently hadn’t.

  70. says

    Guardian liveblog (linked @ #77 above):

    In Spain, the daily number of deaths has declined for the fourth consecutive day, raising tentative hopes that the worst of the country’s outbreak is over.

    The daily death toll on Monday was recorded at 637, the lowest number reported since March 24.

    The country remains one of the world’s hardest-hit by the pandemic, with 13,055 deaths. Another 135,032 people have tested positive for the virus, according to the health ministry.

    The country’s victims include 10 doctors, a nurse and an auxiliary nurse. More than 15,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus, after a shortage of supplies forced them to resort to homemade protective gear as they battled one of the world’s fastest spreading outbreaks.

    The epidemic, which has left Spain with the highest number of deaths per million, collapsed hospitals and plunged the country into a near-total lockdown that is expected to stretch for at least six weeks.

    The Spanish government has said it is now studying the possibility of mass testing and isolating asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

    “These figures continue to confirm the downward trend that we have been seeing,” said María José Sierra of Spain’s health emergency centre, citing a decrease in hospitalisations and critical care cases.

    “We’re seeing the growth rate of the pandemic decreasing in practically all regions.”

  71. says

    NBC – “Government watchdog: Hospitals face severe shortages of medical gear, confusing guidance from government”:

    Hospitals across the country face dire shortages of vital medical equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak — including testing kits and thermometers — and fear they can’t ensure the safety of health care workers needed to treat patients with COVID-19, according to an internal government watchdog report released Monday.

    The alarming findings, based on interviews conducted from March 23 to March 27, represent the first government assessment of how the country’s hospitals are coping with the outbreak and confirm previous media reports and warnings from health workers that the medical system is under unprecedented strain.

    Hospital administrators also said conflicting guidance from federal, state and local governments on how to use personal protective gear and other issues has led to “a greater sense of confusion, fear and distrust among staff that they can rely on hospital procedures to protect them,” according to the report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS.

    Equipment provided to hospitals from the federal government fell far short of what was needed and was sometimes not usable or of low quality, said the report, which was based on interviews with administrators from 324 hospitals and hospital networks of varying sizes.

    According to the report, one hospital received two shipments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with protective gear that had expired in 2010. Another hospital system received 1,000 masks from federal and state governments, even though it expected a much larger delivery, and “500 of the masks were for children and therefore unusable for adult staff,” the report said. Elastic on N95 masks from one state government reserve had “dry-rotted” and could not be used, it said.

    NBC News found its own examples of problems with the federal government’s emergency national stockpile similar to those detailed in the report.

    State officials in Alabama, South Carolina and Pennsylvania said they had received expired medical supplies.

    In Michigan, hospitals were surprised to have made orders with suppliers only to find that they were diverted to the national stockpile, according to Ruthanne Sudderth, senior vice president for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. “Vendors have told us that they need to send whatever they have to the national stockpile,” Sudderth said….

    Much more at the link.

  72. says

    CNN – “Chinese tourist sites packed as country comes out of lockdown, but experts say risk still high”:

    Large numbers of people flocked to popular tourists sites and major cities across China over the country’s holiday weekend, despite warnings from health authorities that the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic remains far from over.

    Images from the Huangshan mountain park in Anhui province on Saturday April 4 showed thousands of people crammed together, many wearing face masks, eager to experience the great outdoors after months of travel restrictions and strict lockdown measures.

    Such was the rush to get into the popular tourist spot, that at 7.48 a.m., authorities took the unusual step of issuing a notice declaring that the park had reached its 20,000 person daily capacity, and would not be accepting any more visitors, according to state media Global Times.

    Meanwhile in Shanghai, the famous Bund waterfront was once again packed with shoppers and tourists, after weeks of being near deserted. Many of the city’s restaurants that were shuttered only days ago also appeared to be doing a brisk trade, with several requiring reservations to enter.

    A similar story played out in the capital Beijing, with locals flocking to the city’s parks and open spaces.

    …While the government is slowly relaxing restrictions, Chinese health experts have urged the public to continue to practice caution.

    Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Health Times on Thursday that China had not seen the end of the epidemic.

    “China is not near the end, but has entered a new stage. With the global epidemic raging, China has not reached the end,” he said.

    After pictures of the crowds at Huangshan emerged on social media, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, issued a stern reprimand on social media warning tourists: “Do not gather!”

    In a commentary published on the newspaper’s website, one opinion writer said while it was understandable people would want to get out after being shut up in quarantine, now was not the time to stop being “vigilant.”

    “If there are asymptomatic carriers present during large-scale gatherings, the consequences would be severe,” the article said.

    According to the paper, Huangshan has since announced it will stop receiving tourists.

    Concerns around whether China is relaxing its coronavirus restrictions too soon have led Hong Kong experts and authorities to warn of the possibility of a “third wave” of infections in the city.

    Speaking to local journalists Sunday, Hong Kong epidemiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said that there could be a “new wave” of cases in mainland China, off the back of imported infections from Europe and the US.

    “So in Hong Kong, we might have a third wave of cases coming from the mainland after a second wave …The epidemic is still serious in the society. At this stage, it is still not optimistic. What worries me the most is inadequate testing on patients with mild symptoms, which prevents us from cutting off the chain of transmission,” he said.

    The global financial hub is still trying to contain a second wave of imported cases after returning citizens and expatriates from Europe and the United Kingdom led to a new outbreak in late March.

    In just under two weeks, the number of local infections has risen from 317 to almost 900.

    The convenor of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, Bernard Chan, told public broadcaster RTHK Sunday that the city’s government still had stricter measures it could bring in to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

    Such measures could include restricting restaurants to “take-out only” or even a citywide lockdown.
    “It could also risk spreading panic but we have to accept that it may be necessary if the alternative is the risk of something worse,” he said.

    Pictures and video atl.

  73. says

    From the Guardian UK coronavirus liveblog:

    Boris Johnson remains in St Thomas’ hospital “for observation”, with No 10 saying he had a “comfortable night” and is “in good spirits”.

    Downing Street is not denying that the prime minister received oxygen treatment last night. Officials are refusing to give any further update on his condition.

    When asked if he had pneumonia, the spokesman said any change in his condition would be made public. No 10 is no longer describing Johnson’s symptoms as “mild”, but confirmed he has a temperature and a cough.

    The PM remains in charge but the daily coronavirus meeting was chaired by Dominic Raab, who will continue to do so while Johnson is absent.

    Raab is still working from the Foreign Office, rather than Downing Street. Johnson is continuing to work through his red box of papers and No 10 is following infection advice in relation to the box.

    There will be no cabinet on Tuesday, instead the daily coronavirus meeting will replace it.

    Johnson went to hospital by private car but No 10 refused to say what type. It was his first visit to hospital since falling ill.

    No 10 insisted it had been “transparent throughout” despite having claimed up until Johnson’s admission that his symptoms were mild.

    A spokesman dismissed a Russian report that Johnson is on a ventilator as “disinformation”. The PM will be guided by the advice from his doctors when it comes to calls for him to stop working and rest, he said.

    Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings is yet to return to work in Downing Street but remains talking with officials, a spokesman said.

    “He is not back in No 10 today. He is in contact with No 10,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

    Cummings was last seen in public running out of Downing Street shortly after Johnson announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

  74. says

    Rebecca Kavanagh:

    Michael Tyson, who died of coronavirus on Sunday, was incarcerated on Rikers Island for an alleged technical violation of parole.

    Meaning he did not commit a crime, but missed a meeting or violated curfew or tested positive for marijuana.

    He should never have been in jail in the first place. There are still hundreds of people on Rikers Island jailed on technical parole violations and thousands in county jails across New York State.

    There are also almost 5,000 people in New York state prisons who have been sentenced because they were found guilty of technical violations of parole.

    @NYGovCuomo who said the other day he had no power to do anything to reduce the state’s jail or prison populations, could release all of these people with the stroke of a pen.

    People are dying who have not even been accused of a crime.

  75. says

    The tweet @ #29 above now has more than 160,000 likes. Stephanie Ruhle just talked about her on MSNBC, concluding: “Gina, right there, that photo – that’s what a patriot looks like.”

  76. KG says

    When asked if he [Johnson] had pneumonia, the spokesman said any change in his condition would be made public. – SC@98, quoting Guardian

    That’s a “Yes”.

  77. says

    G liveblog:

    Black people are underrepresented in high-level decision making about tackling the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a failure to address the specific health risks faced by people of African descent, UN experts have warned.

    The lack of representation also posed the risk that racism and implicit bias could creed into policies to tackle the pandemic, the UN’s working group of experts on people of African descent said in a statement.

    Underlying health conditions that could place people of African descent at greater risk include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, lupus and autoimmune disorders. The working group also pointed to the disproportionate overrepresentation of black people working in service industries.

    Widespread self-quarantine, physical distancing, and health mandates are heavily underwritten by the ongoing availability of a workforce that enables millions of people to reduce transmission by staying at home.

    In many States, people of African descent disproportionately serve as home health aides, carers, and grocery and delivery personnel who help hospitals and health care systems focus on the most serious cases, despite no public efforts to ensure their safety and protection.

    … In this respect, the treatment of people of African descent serving in this crisis as disposable recalls historical exploitation and implies a social mindset that may fail to critically analyse the assumptions it makes about the needs and the risks to people of African descent in this crisis.

    The same point about women (set aside the sharp distinction between sex and gender at the beginning) in the most recent episode of the Johns Hopkins Public Health On Call podcast, “Are Men More Susceptible to COVID-19?” (Today’s other new episode, “Lessons from Liberia: What the US Can Learn from the 2014 Ebola Outbreak,” is also informative.)

  78. says

    Elie Mystal:

    My 7yo is doing a math worksheet and it’s telling him that the eraser (37 cents) costs more than the pencil (18 cents) and he’s OUTRAGED.

    “If you’re poor and you can’t afford the eraser, you can’t correct your mistakes. BUT IF YOU’RE RICH you can erase ALL your mistakes.”

    I feel like my work here is done.

  79. KG says

    The Johnson clique is doing its best to offload blame for the shambles that is the UK response to Covid-19 onto permanent officials. That’s not to say the latter have not made mistakes, but anonymous briefing against people who can’t respond is deeply unpleasant. Although the linked article doesn’t say so, it’s not just an attempt to shift the blame – it’s a continuation of the Trump-like attack on permanent officials who are not Johnson sycophants which was taking up a lot of government time during the early weeks of the pandemic.

  80. says

    CNN on the statement @ #99 above – “Acting Navy secretary blasts ousted aircraft carrier captain as ‘stupid’ in address to ship’s crew”:

    The Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly blasted the now ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt as “stupid” in an address to the ship’s crew Monday morning, in remarks obtained by CNN.

    Modly told the crew that their former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was either “too naive or too stupid” to be in command or that he intentionally leaked to the media a memo in which he warned about coronavirus spreading aboard the aircraft carrier and urged action to save his sailors.

    The acting secretary accused Crozier of committing a “betrayal” and creating a “big controversy” in Washington by disseminating the warning so widely.

    “It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, DC,” Modly said, according to a transcript of remarks Modly made to the crew, copies of which have been provided to CNN by multiple Navy officials.

    In remarks that were piped over the vessel’s PA system, Modly suggested Crozier leaked the memo on purpose or was “too naive or too stupid” to be in command if he didn’t think that sending it to over 20 people would not result in it getting out to the public.

    “If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out to the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly said. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose.”

    Modly went on to say it was a “betrayal of trust, with me, with his chain of command.”

    Crozier had written to Navy leadership to alert them to the challenges of trying to contain the disease aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and to urgently request sailors be allowed to quarantine off the ship.

    “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset: our Sailors,” Crozier wrote in a memo that three US defense officials confirmed to CNN.

    When asked if Modly’s personal attack on Crozier was appropriate, a senior defense official said Monday, “I don’t know what to say.”

    Modly’s use of the word “betrayal” is a loaded because saying an officer has betrayed the Navy is a court martial offense.

    A defense official familiar with Modly’s remarks offered his opinion of Modly’s address, saying the acting secretary “should be fired. I don’t know how he survives this day.”

    As of Monday, 173 of the ship’s crew have now tested positive for coronavirus and 61% of the crew have been tested, according to a Navy official. Approximately 2,000 have been evacuated from the ship and moved ashore.

    The Navy had set a goal of moving 2,700 sailors ashore in Guam by Friday evening and has fallen several days behind schedule.

    Several senior military officials, including the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, recommended against Modly’s decision to fire Crozier before an investigation into the matter was complete and in the midst of an evacuation, two US officials tell CNN.

    Crozier’s popularity with the ship’s crew was on display in videos showing sailors giving him a warm and loud send off, clapping and chanting his name as he left the ship for the final time….

    As noted above, Crozier also has coronavirus.

  81. blf says

    Although the unfortunate individual is an eejit (several times over), for some reason this story made me giggle, Smoker’s trek to Spain for cigarettes ends in mountain rescue (quoted in full):

    Frenchman found ‘exhausted and shivering’ after getting lost in Pyrénées

    A Frenchman caused a major alert this weekend after setting off across the Pyrénées to buy cheap cigarettes in Spain.

    The unnamed man had first left his home in Perpignan in southern France intending to drive to La Jonquera across the border, but was stopped by police at a checkpoint and turned back.

    Instead, he decided to walk across the mountains that separate the two countries, only to fall into a stream, then into some brambles before getting lost and deciding to call the emergency services.

    Mountain rescue teams sent up a helicopter and he was found “exhausted, shivering with cold and lost” above the border village of Le Perthus, according to rescuers.

    On their Facebook page, gendarmes in the Pyrénées-Orientales region said the “unfortunate” smoker was found quickly after phoning for help.

    “The young man left Perpignan by car but was turned back at the border posts between France and Spain as he tried to get to La Jonquera. So he decided to take a path used by walkers, hoping to cross the border in the mountains,” they added.

    After he was rescued, the man was given a €135 (£118) fine for breaking France’s coronavirus lockdown rules.

    “Once again, we remind you: STAY AT HOME,” the gendarmes posted.

    Before the lockdown, many residents of southern France would cross the border into Spain to buy cigarettes, alcohol and vehicle fuel, which are cheaper there.

  82. says

    southpaw re the Modly statement:

    This is such an obviously terrible and dangerous idea it makes me wonder if the acting navy secretary was in his right mind at the time.

    Imagine saying these things to ~5,000 people over an aircraft carrier’s loudspeakers.

    (Technically, I think there are around 3,000 people onboard now.)

  83. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    After close contact with someone who tested positive, it seems likely I’ve had my case of Covid-19. Fairly mild, though worse than my girlfriend’s. Staying home as long as I can manage, though the symptoms have passed. I’m an introvert, who hides from the cold and snow anyway, so it wasn’t too much of an ordeal. I think I have avoided spreading it to anyone.
    We were discouraged by the health line nurses from getting tests, and fair enough, stay in and don’t spread it. But that’s 2 cases that didn’t get counted.
    How many more like us have there been? Whatever the official tally is, it is definitely well below the real number of people infected, even in countries that aren’t deliberately trying to hide the true numbers. And yet there will be plenty of denialists who point to that official number as gospel and proof that we’ve all overreacted.

  84. blf says

    One collection of groups of nutters & loons who are ignoring or actively challenging — and often flat-out denying — the benefits and purpose of social distancing and/or lockdowns are various magic sky faerie believers (religious cults). I am under the impression evangelical xians are especially prominent in this denial-of-reality, albeit they are not the only dangerous denialist cult.

    One set I have no idea about are Muslims, other than I do know some mosques have altered their call to prayer to include something like “stay at home, don’t come to the mosque”. Al Jazeera has a round-up of what some of the largest mosques are doing, Praying in time of COVID-19: How world’s largest mosques adapted: “As mosques ban congregational prayers due to coronavirus, many set up live-streaming to broadcast prayers and sermons.”

    However, not everyone is being sensible; e.g., Coronavirus and Islam: Pakistani clerics refuse to shut down mosques (31st March). And on 20th March, Reuters reported (Mosques face up to pandemic as Friday prayers bring coronavirus risk) some mosques in Egypt and Indonesia, as well as Pakistan, remain open, sometimes in defiance of local lockdowns or similar.

  85. blf says

    In Slovakia (and obviously nothing to do with the pandemic), Ex-soldier jailed for the double murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and fiancée: “The [February 2018] killings of the investigative reporter and his fiancée led to protests that eventually saw the Slovakian prime minister resign”. This does not end the matter, since the individual who allegedly hired the now-convicted hitman is yet to face trial, as well as those allegedly involved in the subsequent cover-up:

    […]
    On Monday a court in Pezinok, north of Bratislava, handed down the sentence to 37-year old Miroslav Marček. He was also convicted of carrying out an unrelated hit on a businessman in 2016. The alleged mastermind of the murder, a businessman who had previously threatened Kuciak, will stand trial in a separate court case.

    […]

    Businessman Marián Kočner is accused of organising and paying for the murder. Three other people are also charged with aiding the murder. Last month, Slovak police said they had arrested 18 people, including 13 judges, who are accused of attempting to obstruct the investigation into the murders.

    […]

  86. says

    CA governor Gavin Newsom:

    In times of crisis, it’s more important than ever we are the UNITED States of America. CA is answering the call for Americans in NY and across the country, loaning 500 state-owned ventilators to those in need. I know, if the tables were turned, other states would be there for us.

    CA will continue to prepare and secure the equipment we need to keep our fellow Californians healthy while standing with other states in their moments of need.

  87. says

    BREAKING: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issues order shutting down Tuesday’s election — delaying until June 9.

    ‘It could end up in the Supreme Court yet today but the bottom line is the people of Wisconsin, they don’t care about the fighting between Democrats and Republicans — they’re scared’, @GovEvers
    said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    ‘I’m standing up for them. I’m standing up for those people who are afraid and that’s why I’m doing this’, he told me….”

    Report atl.

  88. says

    blf @111, that’s a great cartoon! Thanks.

    SC @106, that’s funny! I am appreciative of anything that makes me laugh.

    KG @103, that’s also funny, bitterly funny.

    SC @102: from Josh Marshall:

    As a PhD myself I feel qualified to render the judgement that this is idiotic bullshit.

  89. says

    blf @117, hmmm. A rich businessman/criminal and at least 13 corrupt judges. Murder for hire, and obstruction of justice. A dead journalist. Trump is probably jealous.

  90. says

    SC @75, Trump just didn’t say that the drug was safe, he repeated that “it doesn’t kill anyone,” or words to that effect, indicating that it does no harm to anyone ever. [False! A lie!] And he said that at least a dozen times in a single press briefing. And that press briefing was the latest in a series of press briefings in which he repeated the same misinformation.

    Trump also said he was not promoting the drug … after he had advised people to try it … after he had said “what have you got to lose” dozens of times … after he had said that it is a “very powerful drug” … after he had said “it could be a game changer.”

    With all of this happy talk and overselling Trump is using his tactic of repetition, repetition, repetition — along with the daily bully pulpit he has granted to himself on prime time TV.

  91. blf says

    Crowd in Ivory Coast destroys coronavirus testing centre in residential area:

    Ivory Coast police on Monday clashed with protesters who had begun dismantling a half-built coronavirus testing centre, afraid that people using the facility would spread the epidemic through their district.

    […]

    They want to kill us. We don’t want this centre here, said protester Joel Blehi as he sheltered by a pharmacy after a [tear] gas canister was fired in his direction.

    Police said the hostility arose from a misunderstanding that patients with Covid-19 would be treated at the centre.

    “There’s been a lack of communication. It’s more like a testing centre for residents,” police spokesman Charlemagne Bleu said.

    The centre is one of several being built in Abidjan for voluntary mass coronavirus testing, the health ministry said.

    […]

    I have some sympathy for the protestors. For instance, there are two currently-closed places both not-too-many metres from my front door that could be repurposed as walk-in test centres; however, I’d be unhappy about that, partly due to the (presumed) increased Risk of being infected, but also due to the (possible) noise. And that I can think of other, better-situated and more isolated yet close-by spots which could better serve the purpose (some of which are also suitable for drive-in test centres).

    Nonetheless, I also hope the police spokesperson, Mr Bleu, is correct, that the cause of the riot / sabotage was simply poor communication. That’s solvable, albeit now, after the rioting and rumours, more difficult.

  92. says

    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach @ #114, I’m sorry you’ve had to go through it, but happy to hear you’re recovering. I saw something recently about some people in an Italian town donating blood and (going from memory) none of them thought they’d had coronavirus and it turned out like 40 of 60 had the antibodies. Iceland, which is testing widely, is also finding a lot of people testing positive unaware they even have it. The numbers are much bigger than we know.

  93. says

    Does Trump have to get everything wrong? Yes.

    Does the airplane testing regimen touted by Trump actually exist? No.

    “You know, we’ve talked to some airlines, sir, and they say they don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that,” a reporter told the president.

    […] Trump tried to talk up progress in the domestic transportation sector and pointed to a specific area. “[T]hey’re doing tests on airlines — very strong tests — for getting on, getting off,” the president said. “They’re doing tests on trains — getting on, getting off.”

    At face value, this seemed sensible. Domestic travel has obviously been dramatically curtailed in recent weeks, but conducting testing on air and rail passengers could help with broader mitigation efforts.

    The trouble, of course, is that the “very strong tests” being administered on these passengers don’t appear to exist.

    FFS. Every time Trump uses the qualifier “very strong” to describe something, it’s a tell. He is lying. And he is bolstering the lie by adding “very strong.”

    And yet, there was Trump again over the weekend, once again boasting that officials are conducting “very strong testing” on people after their flights. A reporter asked, “When you say ‘testing,’ do you mean domestic travel or people coming in from outside the country?” The president replied, “Both.”

    It led to one of the more memorable questions from recent White House briefings.

    “You know, we’ve talked to some airlines, sir, and they say they don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that.”

    As is always the case, the details matter. As CNN’s Daniel Dale explained, there’s “enhanced entry screening” — including temperature checks — for passengers returning to the United States from Iran, China, and much of Europe, as well as “a patchwork of state screening at airports.”

    But as Dale added, “[S]creening — which can require as little as filling out a form — is not the same as a test to determine if someone has been infected. And most US passengers are not being screened in any way upon disembarking.” […]

    The problem is not limited to the instances in which the president makes claims that are plainly false; there are also a variety of instances in which he doesn’t appear to know what’s going on.

    For example, it was just last week when [Trump] told a group of governors, “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem,” reflecting a dangerous amount of cluelessness. He’s questioned state-level need for ventilators. He’s described medications as “approved” that haven’t actually been cleared to treat COVID-19.

    He’s also falsely boasted about 1.4 million coronavirus tests that would be completed weeks ago; talked up a Google resource that’s still in the development stage; and overstated the details surrounding plans for drive-through virus testing.

    As part of a harangue against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Trump recently said the Democratic governor “has no idea what’s going on.” It was among the president’s more ironic lines of attack.

    Link

  94. says

    Peter Navarro’s role in the pandemic response draws scrutiny

    “It’s easy to blame Navarro for his apparent arrogance. But I’m equally eager to blame those who let him into the Situation Room in the first place.”

    It was about a month ago when administration officials delivered a coronavirus update in the White House press briefing room, and among the officials standing in front of reporters was Peter Navarro, who advises the president on trade policy. There was no official explanation as to why he was there.

    But his presence apparently wasn’t an accident. As NBC News reported, Donald Trump announced on March 27 that Navarro would serve as the policy coordinator overseeing the administration’s enforcement of the Defense Protection Act.

    And while that poses its own set of questions — the White House’s handling of the Defense Protection Act has been a mess — Axios reported yesterday that Navarro joined members of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce in the Situation Room on Saturday, where the trade adviser reportedly served as an aggressive advocate of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

    …Navarro got up. He brought over a stack of folders and dropped them on the table. People started passing them around. “And the first words out of his mouth are that the studies that he’s seen, I believe they’re mostly overseas, show ‘clear therapeutic efficacy,'” said a source familiar with the conversation. “Those are the exact words out of his mouth.”

    According to the Axios account, Dr. Anthony Fauci, an actual expert on infectious disease, tried to explain the lack of scientific evidence and the flaws in the research Navarro was distributing. The trade adviser reportedly “started raising his voice,” insisting that he was pointing to real science, and arguing that Fauci was critical of the White House’s earlier policy limiting travel from China.

    This apparently left Fauci looking “confused,” since he supported the travel restrictions and said so publicly at the time.

    One of Axios’ sources added, “There has never been a confrontation in the task force meetings like the one yesterday. People speak up and there’s robust debate, but there’s never been a confrontation. Yesterday was the first confrontation.” Another source added, in reference to the private discussion, “It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational.”

    […] Navarro appeared on CNN this morning where he proceeded to argue that he’s fully qualified to debate Fauci on the efficacy of medicinal treatments because of his doctoral degree in economics.

    “I have a Ph.D,” Navarro said. “And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.” He added, “Doctors disagree about things all the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist.”

    To the extent that reality matters, physicians and medical professionals may routinely disagree about treatment options and diagnoses, but it’s best not to throw around the word “doctor” too carelessly. Fauci is a celebrated physician who’s spent the last half-century earning a reputation as a world-class expert on infectious diseases.

    Navarro’s background in epidemiology does not exist. He’s an economist. For him to present himself as a credible expert, qualified to offer a “second opinion” — a phrase he used during this morning’s CNN’s interview — on an unproven treatment is bizarre.

    What’s more, let’s not forget how Navarro entered the president’s orbit. Vanity Fair reported a while back, “At one point during the campaign, when Trump wanted to speak more substantively about China, he gave Kushner a summary of his views and then asked him to do some research. Kushner simply went on Amazon, where he was struck by the title of one book, Death by China, co-authored by Peter Navarro. He cold-called Navarro, a well-known trade-deficit hawk, who agreed to join the team as an economic adviser.”

    It’s easy to blame Navarro for his apparent arrogance. He ought to know better than to pick a fight with Fauci in the Situation Room in the middle of a pandemic.

    But I’m equally eager to blame those who let Navarro into the Situation Room in the first place. Why in the world is Trump’s trade adviser involved with the federal response to the coronavirus crisis at all?

    At the risk of sounding picky, shouldn’t the president be assigning tasks to people who have relevant skills, expertise, and experience?

    Navarro sounds like another Rudy Giuliani. And, of course, it was Jared Kushner that brought Navarro in.

  95. Akira MacKenzie says

    For those interested, Innuendo Studios just dropped a new chapter of their Alt.Right Playbook series. This one of conservatism’s rejection of systemic social and economic problems as merely unsolvable annoyances.

  96. says

    Oh, FFS! Really?

    […] Over the weekend, Kemp [Governor of Georgia] reopened all of the state’s beaches, emulating the kind of lethal cluelessness and disregard for human life we see in the White House press room on a daily basis.

    “As the Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags to store the corpses of Americans killed by the Coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp dictated that Georgia beaches must reopen, and declared any decision makers who refused to follow these orders would face prison and/or fines,” Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions wrote Saturday. “The health of our residents, staff and visitors are being put at risk and we will pursue legal avenues to overturn his reckless mandate.” Sessions shut down Tybee Island beaches on March 20, worried about the town’s aged community and because the town has no hospital and only one, two-lane route to the mainland. […] Opening the beaches while that order [stay-at-home] is in place is “stupid and crazy at the same time,” says Allen Booker, a Democratic county commissioner in Glynn County.

    Republican office holders are pissed, too. Republican state Rep. Jeff Jones, said that “opening Georgia beaches and lifting rules on short term rentals is counterintuitive to mitigating virus spread and supporting local government control. […]

    Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy, a Republican, said that the governor “undid all the good we did in March” with the decision to open beaches. “I’ve talked to some short-term rental operators, and they said they’re being flooded with calls from New York and other hot spots, and we have no way to force them to quarantine,” […]

    Link

  97. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Fauci probably isn’t used to people spouting utter bullshit in public meetings. I have found that when you have someone spouting off on a subject he knows nothing about and in which you are an expert, a more subtle approach can be more effective. I usually give them a chance to walk back from the ledge, usually by saying, “Well, I think what you mean to say is…” I then move what they are saying closer to a defensible position, phrasing things in such a way to make clear I know what I am talking about and that I know they don’t have the foggiest notion. If they take the out, they avoid embarrassment, but then I own their ignorant asses.

  98. blf says

    Follow-up to @127 & many others about teh impeached hair furor and his dalekocrazy pushing quackery, from Orac, Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19: Science-based medicine has no chance against Donald Trump, Peter Navarro, and Dr Oz:

    [… I]t’s no surprise that Trump would have an affinity for Dr Oz, a.k.a. America’s quack. The two are very much alike: hucksters, showmen, con men. It’s not for nothing that I referred to their relationship as a “huckster bromance.”

    Another conspiracy monger who’s been pushing hard to persuade Trump to promote these drugs is Rudy Giuliani, who years ago fully joined the tinfoil hat brigade and has cast himself in a new role, as the President’s personal science advisor (I know, try not to gag) […]

    […]

    Unfortunately, now that Trump propagandists and the usual bunch of scammers and grifters have glommed on to promoting these drugs as a game changer and the beginning of the end of the pandemic, the hope that evidence-based medicine will be allowed to do its work looks increasingly grim. Indeed, I predict that, even if doctors can now get enough patients to agree to possibly being randomized to a placebo in the face of all the media messaging that these drugs work and sufficiently powered clinical trials are negative, no one will believe them, and the same grifters will proclaim the results a conspiracy to keep evidence of a cure for COVID-19 from the people.

    More, more more — it is the self-admittedly verbose Orac, after all — at the link.

  99. says

    About those animals who tested positive for coronavirus:

    […] The Bronx Zoo announced a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, Nadia, tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.

    Six other animals at the zoo — all large cats — are believed to have the coronavirus as well.

    All seven animals have exhibited a dry cough and decreased appetites.

    None of the animals exhibited other symptoms seen in humans, including fever or shortness of breath. […]

    Neither of the dogs that tested positive in Hong Kong — a Pomeranian and a German Shepherd — exhibited any symptoms.

    The infected cat in Belgium, like the zoo’s cats, did exhibit symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and respiratory issues. […]

    For her test, Nadia was sedated with general anesthesia; samples were taken from the back of her throat, nasal cavities, and trachea. Molecular testing confirmed she has Covid-19.

    The dogs and cat lived with owners with Covid-19 and are believed to have been infected by their owners. Similarly, Nadia is believed to have been infected by a caretaker who was asymptomatic, or who cared for the cats before exhibiting symptoms. […]
    There have been no confirmed cases of a pet or animal in captivity infecting a human.

    […] the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requests those who deal with pets and other animals wash their hands after interacting with them […]
    Scientists like Linda Saif have noted other coronaviruses, like bovine CoV, can infect various species. But whether the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can move from animal species to animal species (for instance, if it could move from a lion to an elephant) is not yet understood.

    It also is not yet clear whether transmission in animals must occur from humans — that is, whether the Bronx Zoo’s cats gave it to one another or if all exhibiting symptoms were infected by their caretaker.

    Whether Covid-19 infections among animals make it more likely this coronavirus will become a seasonal one or whether animals might serve as carriers that could lead to a resurgence of the virus; this is something scientists are investigating.

    Experts currently do not believe pets can transmit the virus to humans — but whether this is the case is currently poorly understood.

    Link

  100. blf says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space@130, I basically concur, but based largely on my own experiences, suggest that approach is more likely to work with someone who tends toward the intellectually honest, and(especially, but sometimes or) does not have some sort of an ulterior interest (financial, emotional, reputational, &tc). This Peter Navarro model of dalek seems to lack the former instinct, and probably also the latter, based on Orac (see @131) and the references Orac cites.

  101. blf says

    And speaking of Daleks, ‘Self-isolate’: Dalek surprises residents of UK fishing village (video at the link):

    […]
    The public have been warned tougher measures will have to be implemented if people do not adhere to physical distancing rules, but no one expected it to come in the form of extraterrestrial villains.

    Residents of Robin Hood’s Bay, near Whitby, were surprised to see a Dalek patrolling the streets telling people to stay indoors.

    “By order of the Daleks, all humans must stay indoors, all humans must self-isolate,” the Doctor Who villain screeched as it zoomed along the street.

    […]

    Tayside police in Scotland shared the video, saying: “Our colleagues in Skaro division have deployed their Direct Action Local Enforcement Kops to ensure everyone is following guidelines about isolation and social distancing.”

  102. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    blf, Oh yeah. Navarro is an idiot. He was a third-rate academic before he got the trade gig. He’s not smart enough to back off a ledge.

  103. blf says

    A follow-up to @115, Calls to seal off ultra-Orthodox areas add to Israel’s virus tensions:

    Rules enforcement highlights problem of getting message across to minority community

    It wasn’t a typical police operation. Two Israeli officers were to go undercover, although not posing as drug dealers or arms traffickers. For this particular assignment, they were to disguise themselves as ultra-Orthodox Jews.

    Their mission on Friday was to bust an illegal gathering in a synagogue. People were praying together, a practice that is now against the law in the era of the coronavirus. Once the officers got inside to confirm the crowd, more units barged in and dispersed people.

    Forces left the area, according to police, but: “An hour later, it was reported that people had returned again.” At that point, officers handed out fines amounting to nearly £4,000.

    […]

    Officials fear the result has been an explosion of cases in neighbourhoods populated with the minority, which makes up more than 12% of Israel’s nine million citizens.

    In the most extreme case, an entire city, Bnei Brak, has been surrounded with barricades. Israel’s cabinet declared the city a “restricted zone” last week, sending in 1,000 police officers who blocked residents from leaving except under special circumstances. The army has also be [sic] deployed to deliver food to the elderly.

    One medical expert estimated up to 38% of Bnei Brak’s roughly 200,000 mostly ultra-Orthodox inhabitants could be infected, significantly higher than the national average.

    […]

    There have also been several anecdotal reports that ultra-Orthodox communities in other countries, including the UK, are suffering an above-average infection rate.

    […]

    Attempts by police to enforce quarantine restrictions in religious neighbourhoods of Jerusalem have led to sometimes violent standoffs. Paramedics have been hit with rocks.

    “When a population that regards its religious leaders as infallible are told that the Torah will protect them and that the secular law enforcement agencies are Nazis and anti-Semites, there is no motivation to comply with orders,” wrote Jessica Apple in the progressive local Haaretz newspaper; her article also called for ultra-Orthodox jews to wear face masks.

    Now the cabinet is discussing using the Bnei Brak lockdown as a model for other outbreaks, and local media have cited an unnamed health official as saying more ultra-Orthodox areas could also be sealed off.

    Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemite […] said the government was also slow to communicate with more radical parts of the community, many of whom have no internet, television, radio, smartphones or even newspapers and usually get news from posters stuck to noticeboards.

    […]

    Fecking magic sky faerie botherers…

  104. says

    blf @134, I think the situation is more dire than they are letting on. Boris Johnson is now on day 10 or 11 of having the coronavirus, a time when many older people take a turn for the worse.

    They keep repeating that he is conscious. Low bar for reassurance.

  105. blf says

    US singer Gloria Estefan updates 80s hit for pandemic:

    Gloria Estefan, one of the biggest stars of the Miami music scene during the 1980s and 1990s, has updated her hit “Get On Your Feet” to raise awareness about how to stem infection from the coronavirus.

    Now titled “Put On Your Mask,” the Cuban-American singer’s message features a video showing Estefan facing up to the daily challenges of life during the pandemic, and urges listeners to wear a cloth mask in public to protect themselves from spreading […]

    For some reason, France24 didn’t include a link to the video, Gloria Estefan — Put On Your Mask!, which has a nice message (in both English and Spanish) at the end. A small criticism, however: Both the title and chorus, at least, could be construed as saying wearing a mask is “all” that is necessary. The full contents make the point it may help, but that (e.g.) washing the hands is still really really important. And kudos for pointing out that medical staff need PPE, &tc, and any masks you decide to use should be home-made.

    On that last point, the Grauniad has published what seems to be a reasonable guide, How to make a non-medical coronavirus face mask — no sewing required.

    (I myself am still undecided — I’ll sleep on it, as they say — but I can certainly put together a Grauniad-style mask…)

  106. blf says

    Lynna@138, I totally agree (note, e.g., my “supposedly” in @134). As you say, and as per the reference in SC@69, he’s been ill for long enough now “[t]he problems come for some people in the second week, when their immune system overreacts to the virus and ends up attacking the body’s own organs. That is why the most seriously ill can end up on life support machines with organ failure.”

  107. blf says

    A more serious version of @135, ‘Show me your ID’: Tunisia deploys ‘robocop’ to enforce coronavirus lockdown (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    A police robot is patrolling the streets of the capital calling out suspected violators of the lockdown

    Tunisia’s interior ministry has sent a police robot to patrol the streets of the capital and enforce a lockdown imposed last month as the country battles the spread of coronavirus.

    Known as PGuard, the “robocop” is remotely operated and equipped with infrared and thermal imaging cameras, in addition to a sound and light alarm system.

    [… T]he robot calls out to suspected violators of the lockdown: “What are you doing? Show me your ID. You don’t know there’s a lockdown?”

    Tunisia has been under night-time curfew since 17 March and authorities imposed stricter lockdown orders from 22 March.

    […]

    The PGuard deployed in Tunis has been popular on social media with users posting footage of the machine in several parts of the capital.

    It can be heard voicing pre-recorded messages calling on citizens to “respect the law … and stay at home to limit the spread {of the virus} and safeguard human lives”.

  108. blf says

    This is nice, Seven-year-old Greek piano prodigy pens an ‘isolation waltz’:

    Stelios Kerasidis says his latest work is ‘for people who suffer and isolate because of Covid-19’

    Move over Mozart, here comes Stelios Kerasidis. A seven-year-old Greek prodigy has penned an “isolation waltz” inspired by the pandemic.

    The hypnotic, fugue-like melody has picked up more than 43,000 hits on YouTube since its launch last week.

    “Hi guys! I’m Stelios. Let’s be just a teeny bit more patient and we will soon be out swimming in the sea,” he beams, perched on his piano stool, feet barely touching the floor. “I’m dedicating to you a piece of my own.”

    The work, his third composition, was written especially “for people who suffer and those who isolate because of Covid-19,” he adds.

    […]

    The Greek has shown a flare for composing. His two earlier works were written for his sisters, Veronica and Anastasia, and like Isolation Waltz were met with critical acclaim.

    […]

    Mr Kerasidis’ video is Stelios Kerasidis(7) — isolation valse (το βαλς της απομόνωσης). Despite the probable typo in the name, the production quality is high, and the music itself amazing — albeit I admit I winced some as his small hands just barely hit some of the keys.

  109. blf says

    I’m watching France24 at the moment, and if I heard correctly, there currently only 94 intensive-care Covid-19 patients, relieving pressure on the health services. The trend curve they showed does indeed look like flattening. (This is the start of the fourth week of mandatory lockdown.)

  110. says

    Lynna @ #138 and blf @ #140, just a few hours ago they were saying he could run the government from the hospital. Even if he hadn’t been on the verge of going into the ICU, the idea was ridiculous. They’ve been hiding information from the public and lying about his condition all along.

  111. says

    G liveblog:

    The UK’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the prime minister while he receives intensive care in hospital, says government business will continue.

    Appearing on BBC shortly after the news of the deterioration of Boris Johnson’s condition, Raab said the is an “incredibly strong team spirit” behind the prime minister and that ministers will focus on delivering the plans he put in place.

    He says Johnson is in safe hands at St Thomas’s hospital in London and is receiving excellent care.

    Raab vows that the government will bring the whole country through the pandemic.

  112. blf says

    SC@144, Yes! It’s patently obvious They™ are both lying and delusional. From Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after his condition worsens:

    […]
    Claims that his condition had not deteriorated came under increased scrutiny after it emerged that a bed at St Thomas’ [NHS hospital] was being prepared for Johnson as early as Thursday last week. He spent Sunday night on an empty wing that is normally used for elective procedures, a source said, before being moved to intensive care on Monday evening.

    The Guardian has been told of frustration among ministers over Johnson remaining in charge for so long rather than resting, even after he had received oxygen treatment having failed to shake off Covid-19 symptoms for 11 days.

    […]

    At [today’s] daily Downing Street press conference at 5pm, [foreign secretary Dominic] Raab said it remained the case that Johnson was in charge, he is leading and giving instructions as and when required.

    However, he later admitted not having spoken to Johnson since Saturday — the day before the prime minister’s admission to hospital on medical advice.

    No 10 [Downing Street spokesperson] insisted it had been transparent throughout about Johnson’s medical condition, despite having claimed up until the point of his hospital admission that his symptoms were mild. His spokesman dropped that description on Monday, saying instead that his cough and temperature were “persistent” [probably true, so no eejit quotes –blf].

    […]

  113. blf says

    More analysis of UK PM Borris Johnson’s probable real condition, PM’s move to ICU shows he’s likely to have severe Covid-19:

    Boris Johnson likely to receive mechanical ventilation as he’s admitted to intensive care

    Boris Johnson’s move to the intensive care unit (ICU) of St Thomas’ hospital signals that he has severe Covid-19. Oxygen was available through a mask on the ward he was admitted to on Sunday, but the move to intensive care on Monday strongly suggests that was not enough to help him with the breathing problems caused by the viral pneumonia that the virus triggers.

    […]

    The latest report into patients admitted into critical care so far from the intensive care national audit and research centre (IANARC), showed 2,621 admissions up to 3 April, most of whom are still there. The mean age was 60 and 73% of them were men. More than 35% of them were overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30, and 37% were obese.

    I really really didn’t want to read that, since some of those points put me squarely in the crosshairs (so to speak)!

    Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging at University College London said: “It seems clear that the prime minister went to hospital because he had difficulty breathing. It seems he was initially put on oxygen, and was conscious. But as often happens with Covid-19, his condition has now deteriorated so he has been admitted to intensive care where he is very likely to have been put on a mechanical ventilator to breathe for him.

    “The ventilator could be non-invasive, in the form of a specialised mask, but in Covid-19 cases, invasive ventilation tends to be recommended,” he said.

    “It isn’t yet clear whether Boris Johnson is breathing on his own — with help from the ventilator. Or whether he has been heavily sedated and paralysed and the machine is doing all the breathing for him.”

  114. says

    Vox – “Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too”:

    In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to release a plan for combating coronavirus. In March, she released a second plan. Days later, with the scale of economic damage increasing, she released a third. Warren’s proposals track the spread of the virus: from a problem happening elsewhere and demanding a surge in global health resources and domestic preparation to a pandemic happening here, demanding not just a public health response but an all-out effort to save the US economy.

    Warren’s penchant for planning stands in particularly stark contrast to this administration, which still has not released a clear coronavirus plan. There is no document you can download, no website you can visit, that details our national strategy to slow the disease, transition back to normalcy, and rebuild the economy.

    So I asked Warren to explain what the plan should be, given the grim reality we face. We discussed what, specifically, the federal government should do; the roots of the testing debacle; her idea for mobilizing the post-coronavirus economy around building affordable housing; why she thinks this is exactly the right time to cancel student loan debt; why America spends so much money preparing for war and so little defending itself against pandemics and climate change; whether the Democratic primary focused on the wrong issues; and how this crisis is recasting Ronald Reagan’s old saw about “the scariest words in the English language.”…

    Great interview. Audio is available atl, but I read it instead and heard all of her answers in her voice. Barack Obama tweeted the interview, saying: “As she often does, @SenWarren provides a cogent summary of how federal policymakers should be thinking about the pandemic in the coming months.”

  115. says

    BREAKING: Wisconsin state Supreme Court rules on party lines, 4-2, overrides @GovEvers order to postpone tomorrow’s election. Life or death stakes of GOP-dominated court system on gruesome display. @WisDems will not be mobilizing in-person voting & call on @WisGOP to pledge same.”

  116. blf says

    Here’s an interesting thing being done in some locations in Germany, Fears that Britons self-isolating with Covid-19 may seek help too late:

    Lack of monitoring for those in severe phase of coronavirus could reduce survival chances

    […]

    Health authorities in the southern German city of Heidelberg have introduced a “corona taxi” service, which allows medical personnel to visit patients with the virus at home and assess their progress. This was introduced after virologists and other doctors recognised that it often comes in two waves and that typically on the eighth day, patients’ health can take a turn for the worse.

    Patients with confirmed infections or suspected to have coronavirus are being called on a regular basis by student doctors manning phone lines, and based on their accounts, a taxi crew can then arrange to visit them.

    Four of the taxis — small buses usually used for school runs — are constantly travelling around the city visiting patients.

    “These daily phone calls and house visits would totally overwhelm the doctors here,” said Uta Merle, a medical director for gastroenterology and infections at Heidelberg University hospital, which is why medical students are being drafted in. Eight hundred have so far volunteered.

    Hans-Georg Kräusslich, the head of virology at the hospital, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the visits are necessary because “often patients don’t have the courage to ring up the clinic and don’t actually take their worsening state seriously”.

    Thanks to the taxis, he said, “our colleagues have discovered quite a few patients who they were able to protect from a drastic worsening of their conditions”.

    Many have been brought into hospital and put on ventilators as a result. That crucial move made just in time is believed to have saved many lives in Germany. The taxi crews have received letters of thanks from patients, crediting them with saving their lives.

    […]

  117. blf says

    LykeX@152, Never… oh, sorry, you said “conscious”, not “capable”. (I suppose I should apologise for snarking at an obviously very sick person.)

  118. says

    I suppose I should apologise for snarking at an obviously very sick person.

    Bad people get sick too. Fuck ’em.

  119. says

    Update:

    WOW: By a 5–4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court reverses a lower court order extending the deadline for mail-in ballots in Wisconsin. All four liberals dissent.

    The conservative majority just effectively threw out thousands of ballots. Incredible.

    Link coming soon.

    Here’s a link.

    And here’s the conclusion of Justice Ginsburg’s dissent….

    By a 5–4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court just approved one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern times, allowing Wisconsin Republicans to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to suppress tens of thousands of votes. I am absolutely blown away.

    RBG: “The Court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement. A voter cannot deliver for postmarking a ballot she has not received. Yet tens of thousands of voters who timely requested ballots are unlikely to receive them by April 7, the Court’s postmark deadline.”

    Let me be very clear about this. Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites will not receive their absentee ballots by Election Day BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC, THOUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s five conservatives just said: “Too bad. You don’t get to vote.”

    An election that forces voters to choose between protecting their health and casting a ballot is not a free and fair election. Nor should its results be treated as indisputably legitimate. This is a tragic day for democracy.

    My piece:…

    Slate link atl.

  120. says

    Elie Mystal: “I’ll have a full post on this Wisconsin travesty in the morning, but for now: I literally told you three weeks ago that this was EXACTLY how Republicans would use coronavirus to steal this election.
    SCOTUS just said it was OK for them to do it.”

  121. says

    G liveblog:

    The row over the sacking of the US navy commander, Captain Brett Crozier, who complained that not enough was being done to help his sailors who were stuck on the US Theodore Roosevelt off Guam, with coronavirus onboard last week, has taken another turn.

    In his marathon White House press briefing a few hours ago, President Trump came to Captain Crozier’s defence: “His career prior to that was very good. So I’m going to get involved and see exactly what’s going on there because I don’t want to destroy somebody for having a bad day,” Trump said, while stressing that Crozier should not have circulated the memo that called for more help for his crew because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    Trump’s intervention followed calls from Congress and former officers for the acting US Navy secretary, Thomas Modly (who fired Crozier) to himself resign after an audio recording surfaced of a speech he gave to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in which he denigrated the commander he had fired for having circulated the memo.

    Now Modly has issued a statement apologising to Crozier, saying: “Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive or stupid … I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused. I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier … for any pain my remarks may have caused.”

    Quite a climb down.

    Statement atl.

  122. johnson catman says

    re SC @158: So SCOTUS won’t act to prevent partisan gerrymandering but will step in to prevent voter safety? I just want to thank Moscow Mitch, the people who wouldn’t vote for Clinton, and The Orange Toddler-Tyrant for helping to destroy the sanity of what used to be a force for good. The Supreme Court is now a political arm of the republicans and the rights of all US residents are FUCKED.

  123. johnson catman says

    Posted without comment.

    Sex abuse convictions against Cardinal George Pell dismissed by Australian high court. Australia’s highest court on Tuesday unanimously dismissed the convictions of the most senior Catholic found guilty of child sex abuse. Cardinal George Pell soon will be released from Barwon Prison outside Melbourne after serving 13 months of a six-year sentence.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cardinal-george-pell-sex-abuse-convictions-dropped-australian-high-court-today-2020-04-06/

  124. blf says

    Here in France, wearing masks will become mandatory in some locales (e.g., Nice & Cannes, both not a million miles away from me); see the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog.

    Locally, the yacht shipyard is making masks, and the village council is asking for volunteers to make additional masks (they will supply the pattern & materials, and collect). My current understanding is most or all of the masks being made are for medical staff. And the council has organised a food delivery scheme for those who cannot get out.

    I myself went out this morning, and was a bit concerned by the number of other people out. Ok, ok, Tuesday mornings is, locally, a classical shopping time (e.g., it’s when one of the local outdoor markets would normally be open (currently closed)), and most people seemed to be abiding by social distancing guidelines — albeit, again, I had problems with one elderly gentleman who just didn’t seem to get it. I didn’t see any police.

    The local council’s daily-ish reports indicate the police are doing c.500 checks a day, with (by eyeball) c.10% violations. Most of the checks seem to be on the roads leading into the village, and responding to reports of eejits.

    Apparently about a week ago, the first local Covid-19 cases showed up (unknown how many and unclear if confirmed or suspected). The local hospital has set up a special Covid-19 dedicated reception and treatment wing.

    A few days ago there was a huge number of emergency vehicle sirens, but it turns out that was just the fire department, police, and other services honouring the medical staff at the local hospital. The nightly 8pm clapping is still continuing, albeit once the yacht airhorns start up, those are about all you can hear (they are fecking LOUD)…

  125. blf says

    A snippet from How the right is responding to the coronavirus: denial, realism or dangerous contrarianism:

    If progressives don’t argue forcefully for their response to the crisis, we may exchange neoliberalism for something worse

    […]

    In the US, the denialists and minimisers — including the president [sic] — are about to be confronted with the grim reality of the coronavirus death toll. Even then some will find ways to keep lying to themselves and their audiences. The rightwing e-celeb Candace Owens, for example, is forestalling her own reckoning by putting about the idea that the deaths themselves are hoaxes.

    […]

    There is a link to this Owens loon at the link, which I have deliberately not included. But I did put on a hazmat suit and took a look… GEEEEESH! At least three brave people did try to inject some reality:

    […]
    A huge fraud is being perpetrated upon us in effort to derail @realDonaldTrump
    reelection.

    Are the French and Spanish in on it?

    Yes, and so the other 140 countries with people who have Corona.

    Like Kenya?! Nigeria?! Slovenia?! Iceland?! Latvia?! And Burkina Faso?! They are all taking time out from working to control the infection in their countries to carry out a plot against Donald Trump. How do trump and Putin allow such a thing? Trump has the Special Forces!!
    […]

    The general ghist seems to be as the Grauniad reported, namely, claiming for the flimsiest of “reasons” Covid-19 deaths are fakes.

  126. blf says

    Coronavirus couture: the rise of the $60 designer face mask:

    In line with official guidance, more and more people are wearing masks — allowing some a hint of self-expression amid the pandemic

    […]

    After weeks of claiming otherwise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced new guidelines to protect against the coronavirus, recommending people wear cotton face masks or cloth facial coverings when going outside.

    In just one day, a huge market opened up: the designer face mask. Corona-related demand has even enabled some fashion labels to reopen their factories, providing desperately needed supplies and, for some, self-expression amid chaos.

    […]

    Major brands such as Christian Siriano, Zara, H&M and Prada are using their factories to produce necessities solely for medical staff. Some smaller companies have one-for-one initiatives: for each mask sold, they donate another to essential workers. After the CDC released its new guidelines, Naomi Mishkin, owner of Naomi Nomi, says she has received 5,000 orders for her organic cotton masks, meaning the same number will go to first responders. Like many indie designers, she has been able to re-open her factory and get her team back to work.

    “Fashion brands who have been able to pivot to making masks right now are crucial,” says [fashion writer] Marie Lodi. “Everyone benefits: the brands who are losing money, the healthcare workers, and the civilians who are in need of masks.”

    Yet, as is the case when any moral effort is commodified, some who are familiar with the fashion industry have concerns.

    “As the pandemic continues to spread, I anticipate that some high-end brands might charge higher prices [for masks] and capitalize on the fact that people are scared,” says Gianluca Russo, a style reporter for Teen Vogue.

    There are also sustainability issues plaguing fast fashion manufacturers, from environmental harm to labor abuses. It may only be a matter of time before titans such as H&am;M and Zara, with their “problematic production models”, as [fashion journalist Sara] Radin says, pivot from making medical masks to ones for consumers.

    […]

    For those who want to — or must (see, e.g., @165) — wear a mask, please leave the serious PPE kit for the first responders and medical staff. If you don’t want to or cannot buy “customer grade” masks (for want of a better term), whether or not its the expensive fashion items described in the excerpted article, a reminder: How to make a non-medical coronavirus face mask — no sewing required.

  127. blf says

    I saw a short excerpt of this, Le Boléro de Ravel par l’Orchestre national de France en #confinement #ensembleàlamaison (video) on France24 the other day, but didn’t get around to tracking down the full video until the Grauniad’s French orchestra play ‘together’ in coronavirus lockdown (video):

    The National Orchestra of France has been posting its performances to YouTube while players are confined to their homes under lockdown measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. Using video and audio technology, the musicians recorded themselves playing Bolero alone at home but together online

    The guy on the kettle drums (I didn’t catch his name) looks like he is having a blast. And another drummer has “STAY HOME” (yes, in English) written on his drums.

  128. says

    G liveblog (linked @ #156 above):

    Boris Johnson does not have pneumonia, Downing Street has said, Andrew Sparrow reports.

    Until now ministers and No 10 have refused to give a clear answer to this question. But asked if the PM has been diagnosed with pneumonia, the spokesman at a daily briefing to political journalists said: “That is not the case, no.”

    The spokesman said that Johnson was “stable” overnight and “remains in good spirits”. In a statement about his condition in intensive care, the prime minister’s spokesman said:

    The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits. He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance. He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive [I assume they mean invasive – SC] respiratory support.

  129. blf says

    More ranting from the loons in the Brazilian “government”, China outraged after Brazil minister suggests Covid-19 is part of plan for world domination:

    Beijing demands explanation after ‘highly racist’ tweet by Abraham Weintraub suggests it is part of a geopolitical plan

    China has demanded an explanation from Brazil after the far-right government’s education minister linked the coronavirus pandemic to Beijing’s plan for world domination, in a tweet imitating a Chinese accent.

    In the latest incident to strain ties between the two nations, minister Abraham Weintraub insinuated China was behind the global health crisis.

    Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis? he wrote on Twitter Saturday. Who in Brazil is allied with this infallible plan for world domination?

    In the original Portuguese, his tweet substituted the letter “r” with capital “L” — BLazil instead of “Brazil,” for example — in a style commonly used to mock a Chinese accent.

    […]

    Last week, [Jair Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, a federal lawmaker] tweeted about the Chinese virus, a phrase that infuriates Beijing and that the World Health Organization has advised against. It has also been used by US president [sic] Donald Trump.

    That prompted China’s consul general in Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang, to ask Eduardo Bolsonaro in an opinion column in Brazilian newspaper O Globo: “Are you really that naive and ignorant?”

  130. says

    Supreme Court: We’re going to delay oral arguments for the first time since the Spanish flu because this pandemic is an extraordinary time & also we don’t know how to use Zoom.

    Also Supreme Court: There’s no reason people shouldn’t still have to show up to the polls in-person.”

  131. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s Viral dumping ground thread.)

    A snippet from Hydroxychloroquine: how an unproven drug became Trump’s coronavirus miracle cure:

    With help from Fox News and Elon Musk, a misleading French study prompted a wave of misinformation that made its way to the president

    [… A]n experiment in which 15% of the treatment group and 0% of the control had poor clinical outcomes could end up being reported as showing a 100% cure rate.

    […]

    [One of the bogus study’s “investigators”, quack Didier] Raoult also found a dedicated and effective English-language publicist in Gregory Rigano, the lawyer who appeared on Fox News with a chyron that falsely labeled him an adviser to Stanford Medical School. Rigano wrote a Google document promoting the use of chloroquine with James Todaro, a blockchain investor who received a medical degree from Columbia University but does not appear to practice. (The document initially listed a third co-author, a retired biochemist who disclaimed any knowledge of it when contacted by Wired.)

    The Google document, which was formatted in a way that made it appear to be a scientific paper, found an audience among Silicon Valley’s elite. It was shared on Twitter by a number of influential investors before it hit the virality motherlode: on 16 March, the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted the link to the document to his nearly 33m followers. […]

    That car salesman is pure evil.

    (The entire article is worth reading. And the impeached quack hair furor is still at it, India releases hydroxychloroquine stocks amid pressure from Trump: “US president [sic] called Modi and threatened retaliation if country kept full export ban”.)

  132. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live US pandemic blog:

    George Conway […] offered his take on the president and his team amid the pandemic […]:

    He’s 100% insane, and nobody in the administration has the balls to tell him that.

    Conway’s jab follows reports that one of Trump’s top advisers warned the president of the coronavirus outbreak potentially evolving into a pandemic in late January.

    […]

    Apparently, Conway’s referring to this (quoted in full, short because it is also an entry in the Gruniad’s current live US pandemic blog):

    Trump was warned about pandemic in January

    Donald Trump was warned at the end of January by one of his top White House advisers that coronavirus had the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans and derail the US economy, unless tough action were taken immediately, new memos have revealed.

    The memos were written by Trump’s economic adviser Peter Navarro and circulated via the National Security Council widely around the White House and federal agencies. They show that even within the Trump administration alarm bells were ringing loudly by late January, at a time when the president [sic] was consistently downplaying the threat of Covid-19.

    The memos, first reported by the New York Times and Axios, were written by Navarro on 29 January and 23 February. The first memo, composed on the day Trump set up a White House coronavirus task force, gave a worst-case scenario of the virus killing more than half a million Americans.

    According to the Times, it said: “The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on US soil. This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”

    The second memo went even further, predicting that a Covid-19 pandemic, left unchecked, could kill 1.2m Americans and infect as many as 100m.

    This was not the first time Trump and his White House team were warned that the virus had the potential to devastate the US and needed to be dealt with quickly and firmly. Senior scientists, epidemiologists, and health emergency experts in the US and around the world delivered that message clearly early on in the crisis, only for Trump to continue belittling the scale of the threat which he compared falsely to the dangers of seasonal flu.

    But the emergence of the memos from such a senior aide within the White House will make it much more difficult for Trump to claim — as he has done on multiple occasions — that nobody was able to predict the severity of the disease. As the pandemic has swept across the country, the president has come under mounting criticism for having done too little, too late in response, leading to mass shortages of diagnostic testing, protective gear for frontline health workers and ventilators for the very sick.

    Teh Navarro dalek again… albeit, perhaps, this time in a not-pure-evil role…

  133. blf says

    In Spain, from the Grauniad’s main current live pandemic blog:

    Government ministers in Spain are saying they plan to accelerate plans to introduce a universal basic income, after 302,265 people signed on as unemployed last month as the Covid-19 outbreak led to a fresh economic crisis in the country.

    “There is a huge consensus” within the government “to put in place this measure,” consumer protection minister Alberto Garzon said during an interview with Spanish public radio, AFP reports.

    In a separate interview on Sunday night with private television broadcaster La Sexta, economy minister Nadia Calvino said the government was working to roll out a universal basic income in the nation of around 47 million people “as soon as possible”.

    The goal is for this measure to “stay forever, that it become a structural instrument, a permanent instrument,” she said, adding the income would focus on struggling families.

    […]

  134. says

    G liveblog:

    Brazil’s president has been forced into a humiliating climbdown after a revolt by top members of the country’s political and military establishment forced him to abort plans to sack the health minister with whom he has been sparring over coronavirus, Tom Phillips reports from Rio de Janeiro.

    Jair Bolsonaro was reportedly all set to fire Luiz Henrique Mandetta on Monday after the two fell out over Brazil’s response to Covid-19. Bolsonaro has dismissed the virus as media “hysteria” and criticised lock down containment measures while Mandetta, a doctor by training, has backed a science-based response including social distancing measures.

    On Sunday, Bolsonaro dropped a huge hint that Mandetta’s days were numbered, warning that certain unnamed ministers who lacked “humility” would soon get their comeuppance.

    But to the delight of Mandetta’s supporters and Bolsonaro’s political foes that sacking never came.

    Fernando Haddad, a left-wing politician who lost to Bolsonaro in the 2018 election, tweeted: “I have never seen a president put himself in such a humiliating situation.”

    Political commentators described Bolsonaro’s failure to follow through on his threat to axe Mandetta as good news for the health of Brazilian citizens but a devastating blow to the president’s authority.

    “He’s a president who no longer presides,” one Brazilian commentator wrote in the newspaper O Globo.

    Another pundit tweeted: “In practice Bolsonaro was deposed today”.

    A photograph tweeted out by the mayor of Ecuador’s largest city gives a sense of the scale of the coronavirus tragedy it is now facing, writes Tom Phillips, the Guardian’s Latin America correspondent.

    Hundreds of people are feared to have died in Guayaquil in recent days with hospitals and mortuaries so stretched that corpses have been dumped on the streets or outside homes.

    “The things we have seen are straight out of a horror film,” one local doctor told the Guardian last weekend.

    On Monday night mayor Cynthia Viteri, who has herself been self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, said two cemeteries were being built for victims – with a total size of nearly 30 acres (the equivalent of nearly 15 football pitches).

    “These spaces will be dedicated to the memory of the guayaquileños who have died during this health emergency,” Viteri tweeted.

  135. blf says

    More in Brazil, this time good news, from the Grauniad’s main live pandemic blog:

    Brazil’s president [sic] has been forced into a humiliating climbdown after a revolt by top members of the country’s political and military establishment forced him to abort plans to sack the health minister […].

    Jair Bolsonaro was reportedly all set to fire Luiz Henrique Mandetta on Monday after the two fell out over Brazil’s response to Covid-19. Bolsonaro has dismissed the virus as media hysteria and criticised lock down containment measures while Mandetta, a doctor by training, has backed a science-based response including social distancing measures.

    On Sunday, Bolsonaro dropped a huge hint that Mandetta’s days were numbered, warning that certain unnamed ministers who lacked humility would soon get their comeuppance.

    But to the delight of Mandetta’s supporters and Bolsonaro’s political foes that sacking never came.

    […]

    Political commentators described Bolsonaro’s failure to follow through on his threat to axe Mandetta as good news for the health of Brazilian citizens but a devastating blow to the president’s [sic] authority.

    [ ]

  136. blf says

    Hee hee, Celebrities, coronavirus has exposed how irrelevant you have become:

    With no red carpet premieres or awards shows, the only stars being clapped for are healthcare workers every evening as people rely on each other for unity

    […]

    With the entire global population in varied stages of coronavirus quarantine in 2020, the time has never been been more opportune for our favorite artists to relieve the world once again [referring to 1985’s “We Are The World” –blf]. Unfortunately for those with blue checkmarks on Twitter and Instagram, the era of star-studded thoughts and prayers appears to be over.

    When Elton John and some of biggest musicians in the world livestreamed a Covid-19 benefit concert in front of 8 million, the other 7.45 billion captive viewers opted out.

    The celebrity tune-out continued on social media.

    […]

    When tips on maintaining physically safe-distanced fitness routines from their indoor pools and remote personal trainers on video chat failed to save the world, the cultural elite wised up to content people were actually seeking.

    Through multiple failed attempts at prying relevance from the vice grip of a global pandemic, the celebrity industrial complex quickly pivoted its outreach strategy from unification and togetherness to one of cautious utility and ominous warning.

    […]

    To date, not one star has been able to approach the meteoric Covid-19 stardom of Dr Anthony Fauci, longtime US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director. Fauci’s press conferences and messaging have inspired trending hashtags, fan pages, memes and even bobbleheads and prayer candles. Holding his role since 1984, Fauci never had any cause to become a household name, until now.

    […]

    With no red carpet premieres or glamorous awards shows, the only stars being clapped for are healthcare workers every evening at 7pm [in the States? It’s at 8pm here in France –blf].

    […]

  137. blf says

    An example of magic sky faerie botherers being reasonable, and for good & plausible reasons (assuming they aren’t lying (even if they are trying to protect themselves from being sued)), from the Grauniad’s current live UK pandemic blog:

    Vicars have been urged to stop live streaming services from their empty churches over the Easter weekend, with the country remaining in lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak […]:

    It feels extremely hard to ask this of you, this week of all weeks.

    But you will know that some people believe that being in our churches to stream, even if it is accessed by a door in your home, is encouraging others to want to travel to their church, and for others to ask for churches to be open to the public.

    We would not want to be seen to encourage any laxity in the requirement to stay indoors except for designated reasons, because this will save lives, and protect the NHS.

  138. says

    MoJo – “Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan to Protect Your Right to Vote from the Coronavirus”:

    In recent days, Wisconsin has been thrown into political chaos, with the state’s Democratic governor pushing to delay Tuesday’s election amid rising cases of the coronavirus, and Republican leaders in the legislature refusing to either postpone voting or mail a ballot to every registered voter. On Monday, the state Supreme Court blocked a late executive order from Wisconsin’s governor that would have delayed the election, and the US Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, overturned a lower court order that would have extended absentee balloting. As a result, thousands of voters could be disenfranchised and the others left in a perplexing and potentially dangerous mess.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to make sure such a scenario never happens again. Today, Warren is releasing a new plan—shared in advance exclusively with Mother Jones—that calls for a series of provisions in Congress’s next coronavirus recovery package that would protect voters’ ability to safely cast a ballot during the pandemic. The proposals would require states to mail a ballot to every registered voter with a pre-paid return envelope, as is standing practice in states like Oregon and Washington; outline $4 billion in federal funding to help states transition to universal vote-by-mail before November (ten times what Congress allocated in its first recovery package); and say states should refrain from removing voters from registration rolls unless they can prove the person has moved or died since it will be very difficult for anyone removed to re-register during the outbreak.

    “In this moment, when peoples’ lives and livelihoods are on the line, it’s powerfully important that we protect our right to hold government and elected officials accountable at the ballot,” Warren told me. “What’s happening in Wisconsin is another clear signal to Congress that it must immediately pass much-needed reforms and equip states with the funding they need to protect the health and safety of voters, ensure our elections proceed during this pandemic, and secure our electoral institutions for the long haul. That’s what my plan is about.”

    Her plan comes as a rebuke to recent statements by President Trump, who said on Friday that he opposed mail voting—even though he himself requested an absentee ballot to vote in Florida’s March primary—because “a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting,” and reiterated his support for requiring voter ID. The week before, Trump said that if voting reforms Democrats had suggested be included in the first recovery package were adopted “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” The Trump campaign and the Republican Party are planning a legal onslaught to oppose efforts to expand voting during the pandemic.

    “We must not allow Republicans to exploit the pandemic to engage in voter suppression when people are least equipped to fight back because they are staying home, caring for loved ones, or struggling to make ends meet—and many government offices are closed,” Warren wrote in a post detailing the plan. “Republicans are using the crisis to accelerate an undemocratic power grab and disenfranchise millions.”

    To prevent looming disenfranchisement, Warren is pushing for legislation that require states to ban onerous requirements, like ones in Wisconsin that require voters to include a copy of a government-issued photo ID with their mailed-in ballot and find a witness to observe them signing their ballot. The plan also calls for a major infusion of funding for the United States Postal Service to handle huge numbers of mailed ballots; she also envisions tools that would allow citizens to track their ballots to make sure votes are counted and reduce the possibility of fraud.

    In recognition that not everyone will be able to vote by mail or feel comfortable doing so, Warren’s also is calling on every state to set up 30 days of in-person early voting to help avoid lines and large gatherings on Election Day. Poll workers should receive hazard pay, she says….

  139. blf says

    Impeached quack hair furor offered to “help” severely ill UK PM Borris Johnson… You should be able to see this one coming from the Andromeda Galaxy, Donald Trump’s drugs to help Boris Johnson not tested against coronavirus:

    Some of the drugs only available on named patient basis or not properly tested yet

    None of the treatments the four US genius[] drug companies that Donald Trump claims could help Boris Johnson recover from Covid-19 are clinically tested for coronavirus or available on the market, it has emerged.

    […]

    Downing Street has indicated it does not wish to take up Trump’s offer of experimental drugs.

    [… details…]

      † Possibly a fair, if childish, description, but it was teh impeached constant liar who bellowed it, hence the eejit quotes.

  140. says

    Politico – “Trump’s ‘Hail Mary’ drug push rattles his health team”:

    Top health officials are increasingly unsettled by President Donald Trump’s continued championing of an unproven drug in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, even as some of the president’s political and policy advisers and outside allies cheer him on.

    A growing number of senior Trump appointees have moved toward viewing hydroxychloroquine, a pill typically used to treat malaria and lupus, as a potential salve for the Covid-19 outbreak — adding it to the national stockpile, urging manufacturers to ramp up its production and sending huge shipments of the drug to hospitals and pharmacies in hot zones like New York City where doctors are free to prescribe it to patients.

    Trump has become an avid promoter of the drug from the White House podium. “What really do we have to lose?” he told reporters over the weekend. “It is a very strong, powerful medicine. It does not kill people. We have some very good results and some very good tests,” he added, glossing over concerns from some of his own officials, who fear that the evidence of the drug’s efficacy is anecdotal at best.

    The nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, has repeatedly warned in public and private that no definitive evidence exists about the drug. Behind the scenes, career health officials have raised even stronger warnings about the risk to some Americans’ heart health and other complications, but been warned not to publicly speak out and potentially contradict Trump, said two officials.

    The divide highlights widening tensions in the Trump administration between protecting the American public against the spread of the coronavirus and reopening the economy as soon as possible. The president and many of his economic, policy and political advisers within the White House are trying to overrule scientific experts who increasingly worry that touting the drugs could harm Americans and cost valuable time to research other treatments. Interviews with more than a dozen officials for this story highlighted tensions within the administration that are occupying increasing amounts of time among health officials and drawing attention away from other critical issues.

    Many health experts have worried about creating shortages for proven uses of the drug for patients with other conditions. And some have issued explicit warnings against widespread use of the drug. “I would not prescribe it,” Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, told CNN on Sunday. “You could lose your life. It’s unproven.”

    Trump’s focus on the drugs — driven by his faith in scant evidence that they work to speed recovery from Covid-19 — has increasingly warped his administration’s response. Health officials have been told to prioritize the anti-malaria drugs over other projects that scientists believe have more potential to fight the outbreak.

    The rush to focus on unproven drugs also comes after months of lost opportunities to contain the spread of the outbreak. “There’d be less focus on [hydroxychloroquine] now if we had planned better then,” said one official, who added that the drug is seen by some career scientists as a “Hail Mary” effort to find a Covid-19 cure.

    Trump is as enthusiastic about the drug in private as he is in public, said one senior administration official. He talks about the drug so often, another official added, because he views it as a potential therapy for the coronavirus when people have no other options.

    “He thinks that it’s the drug that’s going to get everyone back to work. Do you have a supply?” joked one Republican close to the White House….

  141. says

    Greg Sargent:

    Let’s be blunt: Trump’s depraved attack on the IG at HHS displays a mindset that could lead to more deaths.

    It’s *hospitals* who told the IG that they badly need lifesaving equipment. Yet all Trump can hear is an effort to make *him* look bad.

    New piece:…

    WaPo link atl. As he’s noting, Trump’s response to the HHS IG report on severe hospital shortages has been to attack the HHS IG.

  142. says

    CNN – “Fact Check: Trump baselessly disputes HHS IG report, repeats several other false claims at Monday’s coronavirus briefing”:

    President Donald Trump made yet another series of false and misleading claims at his Monday coronavirus briefing, during which he repeatedly criticized reporters and frequently departed from his prepared text.

    Trump repeated false claims about coronavirus testing and about the Obama administration’s response to the H1N1 pandemic, baselessly dismissed a new report about hospital shortages of critical supplies, and played down early problems with a new small business lending program. He also repeated some of his old false claims about trade with China….

  143. says

    Peter Kilmarx:

    WIN-WIN! Representatives @SusanWBrooks (IN) and @RepBera (CA) call for a #COVID19 Response Corps to help stop the pandemic and create jobs mobilizing returned @PeaceCorps volunteers w/@fema @CSIS Commission on #HealthSecurity #COVIDResponseCorps A thread.

    U.S. COVID-19 Response Corps (CRC): trained, deployable workforce for urgent needs of national response with skills in health education, logistics, social program delivery, education, communications, data analysis, and other fields.

    Deployed to state and local areas to support contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, social support, logistical support, testing, decontamination, call centers, at-risk populations, elderly, homeless – critical activities to #FlattenTheCurve and mitigate the economic impacts

    Ready-made personnel: 7,000+ evacuated @PeaceCorps volunteers who have lost incomes and coming home to very limited job market. Highly dedicated, vetted, ready, trained, motivated for community service, culturally competent, flexible, and accustomed to austere conditions

    State and local authorities clamoring for workforce to combat #coronavirus and provide jobs. Smart solution to national crisis.

    Also called for in letter to @fema, @NationalService, and @PeaceCorps from *40* Senators and Representatives led by @VanHollenForMD and @SenatorCollins.

    Here’s the link to the CSIS document.

  144. says

    Politico – “Trump removes independent watchdog for coronavirus funds, upending oversight panel”:

    President Donald Trump has upended the panel of federal watchdogs overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus law, tapping a replacement for the Pentagon official who was supposed to lead the effort.

    A panel of inspectors general had named Glenn Fine — the acting Pentagon watchdog — to lead the group charged with monitoring the coronavirus relief effort. But Trump on Monday removed Fine from his post, instead naming the EPA inspector general to serve as the temporary Pentagon watchdog in addition to his other responsibilities.

    That decision, which began circulating on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, effectively removed Fine from his role overseeing the coronavirus relief effort, since the new law permits only current inspectors general to fill the position.

    “Mr. Fine is no longer on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee,” Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon inspector general’s office, confirmed. She added that Fine will return to his Senate-confirmed post as principal deputy inspector general of the Pentagon.

    Fine’s removal is Trump’s latest incursion into the community of independent federal watchdogs — punctuated most dramatically by his late Friday ouster of the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose handling of a whistleblower report ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.

    Trump has also begun sharply attacking Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm, following a report from her office that described widespread testing delays and supply issues at the nation’s hospitals….

    There’s an ongoing coup attempt.

  145. blf says

    Oh for fecks sake, the loons are on the march against reality yet again (also see @166), Why Trump’s media allies are turning against Fauci amid the pandemic:

    His critics [sic] allege Dr Anthony Fauci is recklessly damaging the economy and blocking supposed wonder treatments like hydroxychloroquine

    In recent days, Donald Trump’s closest conservative media allies have been pursuing an increasingly strident case against Dr Anthony Fauci […].

    Critics close to the president [sic] have recently been alleging that Fauci is recklessly damaging the economy, preventing the use of supposed wonder treatments like hydroxychloroquine, and now, mid-pandemic, some of them appear to be calling for his job.

    The most prominent and stinging [sic (“deluded” is more accurate) –blf] attack on Fauci came last Friday, when the Fox News talkshow anchor Tucker Carlson devoted an entire segment to Fauci’s recommendation for a sustained lockdown, calling it a recipe for national suicide.

    Carlson accused Fauci of getting it wrong on the coronavirus, and claimed that Anthony Fauci told us not to worry about this epidemic. Now he’s demanding that the federal government quarantine the entire country.

    He criticized his reliance on models like those produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) which had, according to him, overestimated the scale of the crisis. As a result, the economy was shut down, and the resultant mass unemployment would be a far bigger disaster than the virus itself.

    Carlson […] had previously interviewed Fauci on his program, and until now had seemed well disposed towards him.

    But his shifting attitude echoes the increasing criticism of Dr Fauci from other people who have been close to the president [sic] — including Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani.

    [… deluded nutcases ranting…]

    Political commentators have noted that similar pile-ons have preceded the departures of James Mattis, Rex Tillerson and John Kelly from the administration. But experts say that much more would be at stake in the removal of Fauci in the middle of a public health crisis.

    […]

    Associate professor Ben Harris-Roxas, from the centre for primary health care and equity at the University of New South Wales, is an expert on public health. […] “Public health experience is most important during epidemics. Each epidemic is different, but having experienced and respected public health experts in charge allows quicker action and more effective communication,” Harris-Roxas said.

    “Firing public health managers during this pandemic would meaningfully impair the effectiveness of the response,” he added.

    […]

    Should Fauci go, there will be little impediment to the misinformation which is already exerting a powerful influence on the US federal government’s health policy.

    Contrary to the title, the article does not go into precisely why the loons are piling-in on Dr Fauci, other than (maybe) Dr Fauci’s prudent warnings about the hydroxychloroquine quackery. The loons say it’s due to the economy or grandstanding, but all that’s either (and typically both) entirely made up or nothing to do with Dr Fauci,

  146. says

    SC @182, I like that plan, (which is actually several plans rolled into one). Elizabeth Warren has come up with a practical solution. Now all we have to do is get it done.

    BTW, voters are turning out to stand in line, six feet apart, to vote in Wisconsin despite all of the Republican nonsense that included forcing them to vote during the height of a pandemic, and that included reducing the number of polling places drastically in Milwaukee.

    SC @179, I see Trump has found yet another press secretary willing to lie for him.

    blf quoting George Conway @173:

    He’s [Trump is] 100% insane, and nobody in the administration has the balls to tell him that.

    Yes. I think that’s why Trump has seized on hydroxychloroquine like a toddler with a security blanket. Also, and this is weird but true, Trump likes saying hydroxychloroquine. It’s a big word and he has mastered it … and he can remember it. Big moment for him.

  147. blf says

    And a follow-up of sorts to @193, from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    Donald Trump has launched an attack on the World Health Organisation, calling it China-centric and accusing it of issuing bad advice at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic: The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?

    China is under fire in Washington, particularly from Republicans, over the way it handled the pandemic and Trump has expressed doubt over the accuracy of Chinese statistics for cases and deaths […]

    Impeached quack hair furor, teh dalekocrazy, and Putin’s trolls at fox, &tc, are flinging mudshite around hoping some of it will stick (as they they say), distracting focus on hair furor’s massive pandemic failure.

  148. says

    Follow-up to all of the comments up-thread about the Republican perfidy manifest in insisting on voting today in Wisconsin: Trump supports Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly.

    Vote today, Tuesday, for highly respected Republican, Justice Daniel Kelly. Tough on Crime, loves your Military, Vets, Farmers, & will save your 2nd Amendment. A BIG VOTE!

    Do you think that you will ever see Trump waiting in one those hours-long lines to vote … and during a pandemic? (See comment 195.)

  149. says

    Trump’s twitter feed now features Fox News interviews that show survivors of the coronavirus thanking Trump and hydroxychloroquine for saving them.

  150. says

    Representative John Lewis, hero of the civil-rights movement, endorsed Joe Biden last night. Lewis also urged Biden to choose a woman of color as a running mate.

  151. blf says

    That’s a new(?) one, starting just before tonight’s 8pm clapping & yacht airhorns, and continuing throughout as far as I could tell, the local church(s?)’s bells were ringing.

  152. says

    JUST IN: SCHIFF is demanding the Ric Grenell, Trump’s top intelligence official, provide a slew of details about his management of IC by April 16.

    In a 4-page letter, Schiff expresses concerns that Grenell, an acting official, has made sweeping organizational changes….”

  153. says

    Lynna @ #194:

    Also, and this is weird but true, Trump likes saying hydroxychloroquine. It’s a big word and he has mastered it … and he can remember it. Big moment for him.

    Totally.

    Lynna @ #198:

    Trump’s twitter feed now features Fox News interviews that show survivors of the coronavirus thanking Trump and hydroxychloroquine for saving them.

    Nonsurvivors given hydroxychloroquine not available for comment.

  154. says

    Follow-up to SC @182, and to my comment @194.

    From Barack Obama:

    As she often does, @SenWarren provides a cogent summary of how federal policymakers should be thinking about the pandemic in the coming months.

    Commentary:

    It’s not every day that our last real president singles out a former presidential candidate like this, and we know that “impulsive” is not a thing former president Barack Obama does. So what is this really about?

    Sure, we can take it at face value—Obama is merely pointing out that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren just happens to have a great plan. Supporting evidence? Warren has a great plan.

    Thing is, Obama knows darn well that anything he says will carry extra importance, it will be analyzed to death (by pieces like this one, and comments like the ones below). As noted, he is measured, cautious in his words, and methodical in his approach. He didn’t write those words for the fun of it. He doesn’t do casual fun.

    Also, note that Joe Biden has a coronavirus plan. Obama didn’t endorse it. He didn’t even mention it. But he mentioned Warren’s.

    Here’s my theory, and feel free to tell me how wrong I am:

    Obama has nothing against Biden’s plan. It’s likely a perfectly fine plan. But Biden has the nomination sewed up. The next step is selling the Democratic ticket. And that will require several pieces to fall into place.

    Remember, the vice president has one important job: to help win the presidential race. Everything else is secondary. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is a perfectly competent technocrat, and he would’ve made a fine vice president, but he did zero to help Hillary Clinton win her election. So first things first: help win an election.

    There are three top contenders for vice president: Sen. Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. All three fulfill the one litmus test that Biden has laid out: that the VP be a woman.

    All three are crazy smart, charismatic, and competent. […]

    My point? All three would be amazing. All three are qualified. All three would bring something to the ticket that the others won’t. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. We win with all three.

    But …

    That Obama tweet didn’t arrive in a vacuum. If the goal is to allow Biden to pick a white woman as his second, having the first Black president lay some groundwork could be incredibly helpful.

    The theory goes like this: Biden already runs strong with the Black community. Obama would have his back. But Biden is still weak with the party’s progressive wing. Hillary Clinton did a poor job of uniting the party in 2016, and that decreased turnout cost her. Biden can’t afford to make the same mistake. And no qualified woman has more credibility with the party’s progressive wing than Warren. Picking her would bring together all but the most ornery and irredeemable Sanders supporters. […]

    Link

    I think that Obama’s tweet may have been just what it appears to be on the surface, just a way to support a real plan for federal policymakers to get us through, and then out of, this pandemic.

  155. says

    johnson catman @200, True! I agree. Abrams has said she is not going for that position, but we’ll see.

    SC @203:

    Nonsurvivors given hydroxychloroquine not available for comment.

    HA! Quite true. Dark humor very appropriate here. Also a good point when one is referring, yet again, to anecdotal reports, NOT evidence. That’s Trump’s and Fox News’ favorite kind of alternative facts.

  156. says

    blf @ #196, “YOU BLEW IT” is now trending on Twitter. This has been happening for several days – whenever Trump tries to project his own failure onto others, people turn it around like this and it trends.

  157. says

    Drug pusher Trump has a share in the malaria drug he keeps overselling for coronavirus.

    From the moment he pivoted from “soon down to zero” to claiming that killing a quarter of a million Americans would show that he has done “a very good job,” Donald Trump has been pushing America to swallow a megaton of chloroquine. […]

    Trump has pushed the drug in the face of almost no evidence that it has any positive effect helping against coronavirus. He has pushed it even though chloroquine is a serious drug with serious side effects including heart attacks. He has pushed it even though people have already died from following his suggestion to gobble down the pills. He has pushed it even to people who are not infected with COVID-19 on the pretense that it will help prevent them from becoming infected. And he’s pushed it without revealing that he has a personal stake in the company that manufactures the drug.

    On Monday evening, The New York Times ran an article headlined “Trump’s Aggressive Advocacy of Malaria Drug for Treating Coronavirus Divides Medical Community” which is an absolutely miserable and incorrect headline. The medical community is not “divided” over Trump’s daily use of the national airwaves to push an untested remedy for a deadly disease. Everyone agrees that Trump’s actions are foolish, dangerous, and completely unethical. […]

    Very early on, doctors desperate to find anything that might help in an ICU filled with COVID-19 patients gave a very small number of them chloroquine. Some of those patients got better. But this was not a random trial or double-blind study. Attempts to replicate this benefit in more scientific tests are ongoing, but so far there is scant evidence that attempting to fight a virus with a drug typically used against a single-celled plasmodium has any positive effect. An early study has been rejected from publication after reviewers found several problems. And that first published paper had issues including the possibility that some of those who “left the study” before its conclusion may have done so by dying. […]

    Trump’s daily advocacy of the drug is driving up a gray-market demand that is making it harder and harder for those who really do need the drug for malaria, or for its anti-inflammatory effects against lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, are finding it nearly impossible to get their prescriptions refilled. […]

    Why is Trump causing genuine harm to push a drug that may or may not have any benefit? Hidden several paragraphs down in the Times story about the supposedly “divided” medical community comes this information: “Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.”

    A small interest in a drugmaker may not seem like the kind of thing that would put Trump in front of a camera every day, encouraging Americans to treat a dangerous drug like Tic Tacs and tossing on his trademark “What have you got to lose?” But this is Trump. This is the guy who tried to stiff every small contractor, on ever trivial task, in the middle of billion-dollar construction projects. […]

    Of course Trump is willing to push a possible worse-than-worthless drug on America for a small gain—and that’s assuming the known stock ownership is the limit of how Trump is benefiting from this deal. Trump isn’t alone in this, his whole criminal gang, including well-known medical expert Rudy Giuliani, are out there both touting this drug and using it as a means of lining their own pockets.

    […] Trump’s actions are completely unethical and definitely harmful. Anyone on the other side of that divide is someone looking to make a profit from misery and fear.

    Link

  158. says

    Taking a look at the current/next actions taken by the Trump & Jared super scam:

    The Trump administration has gone from telling governors they’re on their own in fighting coronavirus to sweeping in and taking equipment that state or local governments or hospitals—or other countries—have ordered. From Jared Kushner insisting that “the federal stockpile is supposed to be our stockpile, not supposed to be state stockpiles,” to the federal government preventing states from getting equipment anywhere other than the federal government.

    But as the federal government, in the form of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, finally, finally gets ramped up to obtain the amount of personal protective equipment and ventilators that it should have been acquiring in January or early February, it’s repeatedly screwing over states, local governments, and hospitals. […]

    “FEMA realizes that prioritizing P.P.E. deliveries to Covid hot spots can have the unintended consequence of disrupting the regular supply chain deliveries to other areas of the country that are also preparing for the coronavirus,” a spokesperson said. But that statement calls on the listener to trust that the Trump administration is a fair broker, sending supplies to where they are most needed rather than to the states that Donald Trump personally favors.

    We cannot trust that. We’ve watched as Trump has demanded that governors suck up to him and punished states if their governors didn’t do so, as states like Florida and Oklahoma have gotten as much or more equipment as they asked for while states like Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maine have gotten only a fraction of what they needed. So, no. Hearing that the reason Colorado didn’t get 500 ventilators it was trying to buy is that FEMA got it instead does not instill confidence that those ventilators are going where they are most needed.

    We especially cannot trust it when The New York Times reports things like this: “Advisers to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, have surprised FEMA officials in recent weeks to deploy supplies to communities after the area’s representatives got through to Mr. Trump, even if the state had not yet gone through the formal process to secure supplies.”

    The Trump administration continues to run the government according to who sucks up to Donald Trump most effectively and most recently. Right now, it’s doing that through FEMA, to make it look like things are very efficient and regularized. But that doesn’t change the corrupt basic nature of what’s going on.

    Link

  159. says

    This sounds like a good idea: Finland is rolling out its random nationwide testing for coronavirus antibodies. Nationwide testing.

    Finnish health officials will begin offering voluntary tests for coronavirus antibodies this week as the country seeks to determine how many asymptomatic carriers may be in the country.

    […] the country’s top health authority, the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will begin offering tests to as many as 750 people per week in the coming days. The tests will first be available in the country’s capital city of Helsinki and the surrounding areas, where the country has reported the most cases.

    “The idea is to get a picture of the situation across the entire country,” a THL official, Jussi Sane, told YLE. “The results of the study is one part of assessing the epidemic and will also affect [shelter-in-place and other] restrictions as well as when they can be lifted.” […]

  160. blf says

    I’m a black man in America. Entering a shop with a face mask might get me killed:

    I trust the CDC’s guidance. But my fear of being mistaken for an armed robber is greater than my fear of Covid-19

    […]

    On Saturday I thought about the errands I need to run this week, including a trip to the grocery store. I thought I could use one of my old bandannas as a mask. But then my voice of self-protection reminded me that I, a black man, cannot walk into a store with a bandanna covering the greater part of my face if I also expect to walk out of that store. The situation isn’t safe and could lead to unintended attention, and ultimately a life-or-death situation. For me, the fear of being mistaken for an armed robber or assailant is greater than the fear of contracting Covid-19.

    The authour has a good point, but I must point out that “consumer grade” masks aren’t so much to stop one’s self from being infected (albeit they may help), but to decrease the chance you will infect someone else (and remember, you could be an asymptomatic carrier, or only recently infected before any symptoms start to show). This is why I’m slightly surprised the WHO declined to recommend wearing masks (I haven’t read up on this yet, so apologies if my initial understanding of the WHO’s declining is incorrect).

    These are the fears that black Americans have to constantly face. Where we can go, how we can show up, what we can wear, what we can say — it never ends. The world is upside down right now with the coronavirus pandemic and we are living in a dystopian nightmare come to life. Still, we are living in an America where history dictates that, even in the most absurd times, hatred and bigotry continue to reign. We are still judged, convicted and sentenced by race, by gender, sexual orientation and class.

    Early reports highlight what many have predicted: those who are affected by Covid-19 are overwhelmingly people of color, poor people, the homeless and those living with disabilities. This stems from a lack of equitable access to healthcare.

    […]

    I will not be covering my face until I am able to obtain a face mask that is unmistakable for what it is. Let me be clear: this is not because I do not trust the advice of the CDC — I do. I believe in science, and I have followed all of its guidelines up to this point. I know masks work, and I trust the CDC’s recommendation.

    What I do not trust is the innate biases and lack of critical thought about the implications of these decisions. I do not trust that I can walk into a grocery store with my face covered and not be disturbed. I do not trust that I will not be followed. I do not trust that I will be allowed to exist in my black skin and be able to buy groceries or other necessities without a confrontation and having to explain my intent and my presence. I do not trust that wearing a makeshift mask will allow me to make it back to my home.

    […]

    The CDC(?)’s “handkerchief face mask” (one of the two models presented) in How to make a non-medical coronavirus face mask — no sewing required might be suitable (but being homemade could still be misconstrued by a bigot), but the other model, “T-shirt face mask” is very probably too tempting of a target for a police officer (or other bigot’s) Shooty McShootface.

  161. says

    From Senator Tammy Duckworth:

    “I can reach no other conclusion than this situation has overwhelmed Modly’s ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed most. We do, and we should, expect more from those in charge of our Armed Forces, and Acting Secretary Modly must resign immediately.

    Duckworth is a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

  162. says

    Yikes.

    https://twitter.com/mattsmith_news/status/1247493559068000257

    Polls open in minutes. Here’s a look at the line in Waukesha, the city’s only polling location
    —————-
    Only ONE polling location in a city of 72,500 people?!!

    They REALLY don’t want people to vote today.

    From Wonkette:

    […] In Waukesha, where there is only one polling location, voters stood pretty close together and most of them didn’t wear masks. That’s definitely gonna end well.

    […] people were behaving a lot better at one of the five polling stations open in Milwaukee … but also there are only five polling stations open in Milwaukee. Normally, there are 180. […]

    From the Washington Post:

    Seething anger mixed with resolve at the end of the line of voters that stretched to about 400 people waiting outside Milwaukee’s Riverside University High School, which stretched for many blocks and snaked into nearby Riverside Park.[…]

    “We decided to risk our lives to come vote,” said Ellie Bradish, 40. “I feel like I’m voting for my neighbors, all the people who don’t have the luxury to wait this long.”

    John Carter, a retired bus driver, stood a few spots back in line. Normally, the 71-year-old walks four blocks to his neighborhood polling site, and it takes 20 minutes, tops.

    “I have to wait,” he said about today’s vote. “I have to cast my ballot. I don’t have anything going on, except the legs get tired. I’m an old man.”

    Like many, Carter felt angry.

    “I think the Republicans in Madison wanted this,” he said, shaking his head.

    Good info:

    1) Absentee ballot must be postmarked or dropped off TODAY, April 7.
    2) If you need help, call this hotline: 608-336-3232
    3) Find curbside voting & absentee ballot dropoff locations here:
    https://wisdems.org/voter-information-page/curbside-voting-information/

  163. blf says

    Lynna@208, I’d been wondering what ulterior motives teh impeached quack and his kleptomaniacal extended family & their privatised dalekocrazy had in, as one example, hydroxychloroquine. (Someone — Kuchner? — has an interest in a ventilator(?) manufacturer(?), which I (obviously vaguely!) recall has already been mentioned in this series of poopyhead threads.) Also see @172, and especially the referenced article.

  164. blf says

    Lynna@206, SC@203’s joke is actually extremely close to what really did happen in the bogus hydroxychloroquine study by French quack Didier Raoult (again, see @172, Hydroxychloroquine: how an unproven drug became Trump’s coronavirus miracle cure; my added emboldening):

    Forty-two patients were initially included in the study. Three were transferred to the intensive care unit; one died, one left the hospital, and one stopped taking the treatment due to nausea. The other 36 eventually recovered, and those who received the drug cleared the virus from the system faster than those who did not.

    If you had only heard about this study from the Fox News assertion of a 100% cure rate, you might assume that the four patients with poor clinical outcomes (the three ICU visits and one death) had been unlucky enough to be in the group that did not receive the “cure”.

    And yet, those four patients, as well as the patient with nausea and the one who left the hospital early, were all part of the treatment group. They were excluded from the topline results of the study because of the way that the researchers chose to measure and report the results: strictly based on the measurable presence of viruses in nasal swabs taken each day of the study. Since the patients were in the ICU or dead, their samples could not be taken and they were left out of the final analysis. Based on the nasal swabs of just the 36 patients who completed the study, those who received the drug cleared the virus from their systems faster than those who did not.

    This is how an experiment in which 15% of the treatment group and 0% of the control had poor clinical outcomes could end up being reported as showing a 100% cure rate.

    The so-called study was not blinded, not randomised, and had numerous other flaws, in addition to the clearly biased measurement & reporting. Yet this garbage is what Musk, hair furor, and some (probably most) of the others are using to justify their dangerous hype.

  165. says

    NJ Gov. Murphy: “California is sending 100 lifesaving ventilators to New Jersey.

    We are beyond grateful to @GavinNewsom and the people of California.

    From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We will repay the favor when California needs it.”

  166. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 215

    Why am I not surprised that Trump choose a Fox (Business) News Girl From Brazil as his new press secretary?

  167. Akira MacKenzie says

    Edit… whoops! Sorry, she only appears on Fox Business News once. Otherwise she’s just another right-wing squawker.

  168. says

    blf @218, thank you for that clear, concise analysis. Now we can see exactly what happened here. And we can conclude, once again, that Trump is easily bamboozled.

  169. says

    From Wonkette: “White House Econ Loon Peter Navarro Wants To Be The Good Guy Here. NOPE.”

    With the bill coming due for the White House’s spectacularly botched coronavirus response, the leaks have begun.

    “Don’t blame me,” Trumplanders text frantically to their favorite reporters. “I tried to tell the old man what was coming, but no one would listen.” And when that call comes, you know Maggie Haberman is there. In today’s Edition of NOT IT, memos from White House economics crank Pater Navarro warning of the coming coronavirus pandemic magically found their way to Haberman and Axios’s Jonathan Swan.

    First, credit where it’s due: Navarro seems to have grokked before most of the Trumpworld goons that COVID-19 was about to be a big fuckin’ deal. In a January 29 memo to the National Security Council, Navarro postulated that “We face two stylized outcomes: A relatively modest, ‘seasonal flu-like’ outcome with relatively low rates of transmission and mortality versus a more deadly ‘pandemic flu’ such as witnessed with Asian, Hong Kong, and swine flus.” While Trump was telling HHS Secretary Alex Azar to quit yammering about “caronavirus” and bring back those tasty mango Juul pods, Peter Navarro was warning that a highly contagious virus coming might cost the US economy $3.8 trillion and kill 500,000 Americans in a “No Containment/Pandemic scenario.”

    Unfortunately, he buried it in his usual annoying jargonese, and proposed the same ONE WEIRD TRICK he prescribes for every other problem on earth.

    If the probability of a pandemic is greater than 1%, a game-theoretic analysis of the coronavirus indicates the clear dominant strategy is an immediate travel ban on China.

    That’s right, the guy who had just blundered us into a disastrous trade war wanted to fight the pandemic by kicking the shit out of China some more. Which is why everyone in the White House ignored Peter when he started ranting again about the Chinese wolf about to eat all America’s sheep.

    […] Axios even dug up Steve Bannon, who decried the “naiveté, arrogance and ignorance” of the National Security Council, which collectively rolled its eyes at Navarro and told him to quit jinxing the markets with that shit.

    “In this Kafkaesque nightmare, nobody would pay attention to him or the facts,” swooned Bannon, who is presumably quarantined in a bathtub full of Beefeater gin. You know, for anti-viral purposes. […]

    Here’s Maggie Haberman at the Times:

    Mr. Navarro was at odds with medical experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who had argued that such travel bans only delay the eventual spread.

    Mr. Navarro alluded to that debate on Saturday during a separate argument with Dr. Fauci in the Situation Room about whether the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was effective in treating or preventing the virus, according to two people familiar with the events.

    And here’s Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev at Axios:

    Our thought bubble: Axios’ health care editor Sam Baker says Navarro’s concern about the severity while acknowledging the speculative nature of modeling viruses was largely correct.

    “These memos place a very big emphasis on banning travel specifically from China — which, of course, Trump did,” Baker says. But by Jan. 29, there were confirmed cases in 15 countries, including the U.S.

    “This is not to say they’re a bad idea, only that this is why public-health experts don’t lean as heavily on travel restrictions. People come into the U.S. from a lot of places, and with two globalized countries, simply stopping people coming in from Wuhan was not bad but it shouldn’t be shocking that it was insufficient.”

    Hey, look! It’s actually possible to do access journalism without swallowing as gospel what your source tells you and then bootstrapping that unchallenged credibility to undermine medical professionals and hype untested, potentially dangerous drug regimens. Who knew!

    If Navarro’s January 29 memo was intended for an audience familiar with terms like “R naught” and “antigenic shift,” his February 23 “Memorandum to the President” was pitched squarely toward the Toddler Id in Chief.

    “There is an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1.2 million souls,” he began in his request for a $3 billion budget allocation. Then it was time to lay on the the flattery.

    This is NOT a time for penny-pinching or horse trading on the Hill. Uncertainties associated with developing a vaccine and viable treatment options should NOT slow down investment in these high, risk high reward ventures. In this Administration, we take appropriate risks to protect the public. We move in Trump Time to solve problems.

    We always skate where the puck might be — in this case a full-blown pandemic.

    We CAN develop a vaccine and treatment therapeutics in half the usual time. We MUST get appropriate protective gear and point of care diagnostics.

    Any member of the Task Force who wants to be cautious about appropriating funds for crisis that could inflict trillions of dollars in economic damage and take millions of lives has come to the wrong administration.

    Oooooh, TOUGH GUY! But for all his talk about go fast, go big, or go home, this is the same guy who completely screwed the pooch on the medical supply chain. He’s the one who was at the negotiating table when the deal with GM to retool its plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to make ventilators in partnership with Ventec fell through because the White House balked at the $1 billion price tag. Navarro may have been privately bragging about skating to the puck in February, but just last week he went on CNN and demanded credit for face masks made out of underpants and promises to get ventilators to market in June. […]

    Today the US death toll passed 11,000. There were 1,400 deaths today alone as of 3 p.m., before California, Michigan, and Illinois reported. This week is going to be horrible.

    So Navarro can GTFOH with his stealth publicity tour. Warnings whispered behind closed doors in no wise redeem his months of public support as the Trump administration pissed away the chance to prepare for this crisis. The fact that he knew what was coming makes it even worse that he is currently presiding over a medical supply chain where the federal government drives up the price by bidding against the states, and then seizes shipments at the border, commandeering them for private companies. All of that is at Navarro’s feet, and no amount of self-serving leaking will prevent that deadly cock up from being the first item in his obituary. […]

    Link

  170. blf says

    ‘Gruffalo stayed in the cave’: Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson’s coronavirus cartoons (picture / cartoon essay): “The creators of the Gruffalo have produced a series of cartoons to encourage people to stay home during the crisis”.

    One (minor) criticism, the panel about sneezing into a paper hanky did not mention not reusing it, nor then throwing it away (safely, ideally, with other “possibly contaminated” waste).

    If, like me, you have no idea what “Gruffalo” is (albeit it features in some of the panels), the embedded link explains:

    Who has terrible tusks and terrible claws, purple prickles all over his back — and always maintains a strict two-metre distance from others when outside his cave?

    The answer, as any young child knows, is the Gruffalo, but not as you have ever seen him before.

    Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the creators of the beloved children’s storybook monster, have reimagined some of their best-known characters in the light of the coronavirus crisis, creating a series of images showing how Zog, Stick Man and others are coping with social distancing, home schooling and isolation.

    […]

    The cartoons at the first link are apparently this new book in full.

  171. blf says

    Lynna@229, Ah, that perhaps explains “[t]eh Navarro dalek again… albeit, perhaps, this time in a not-pure-evil role…” of @173. He happened to be correct (about the coming pandemic), but twisted it into pure-evil (“kicking the shit out of China some more”).

  172. says

    blf @231, right.

    Change of subject: Eric Lach, writing for The New Yorker, took a look at the Wisconsin election that is being held today:

    […] For the past decade, members of the Republican Party in Wisconsin have gerrymandered the state’s electoral maps, foisted onerous voter-I.D. requirements onto citizens, and stripped government workers of their collective bargaining rights. The Party’s goal, as the writer Dan Kaufman, who has chronicled the state’s recent political history, puts it, has been “engineering its own dominance.” Even in this context, Vos and Fitzgerald’s [State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos] recent decisions stand out for their nihilism. There was no reason Wisconsin had to vote on Tuesday. Republican leaders simply decided that it was in their interest for the election to proceed. No amount of posturing or cynical press-releasing should distract from that fact. […]

    On Monday, Evers [Tony Evers, the Democratic governor] admitted that he’d been trying to compromise with uncompromising foes. “At every turn, they have fought, even all the way to the Supreme Court, even the most basic and commonsense proposals to ensure a safe and fair election,” he said of Republicans during a press conference. “There’s no shame in changing course to keep people safe. And, quite frankly, to save lives. Our allegiance cannot be to party or ideology. It must be to the people of Wisconsin and their safety.”

    But Republicans were not swayed by Evers’s earlier rhetoric, and they were not swayed on Monday. A seat on the state Supreme Court will be decided on Tuesday—the same court whose conservative majority overruled Evers’s postponement order on Monday—as will thousands of races for local offices around the state. […] The state’s election commission has said it will take until April 13th to count all of the absentee ballots and announce the results.

    The bigger picture here, though, is that resistance to safe elections is quickly becoming a national Republican position. In response to the coronavirus crisis, good-government groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice have begun to recommend that changes be implemented to election administration now, to safeguard the November, 2020, election. Among their recommendations are universal vote-by-mail options and expanded voter registration and early voting. In Congress, Democrats pushed for such reforms as part of the stimulus negotiations, and Senators Ron Wyden, of Oregon, and Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, have introduced legislation that would fund such measures.

    On Monday, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, published an op-ed on Fox News’s Web site warning that such efforts would “undermine” democracy. Late last month, criticizing the same proposals, President Trump declared that “if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” […]

    Link

    The excerpt above are from a much longer article. More details are available at the link.

  173. says

    From Jelani Cobb, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Trump’s attempts to tie the crisis to other parts of his agenda have been as clumsy and inept as the Administration’s response to the crisis itself. On March 10th, he tweeted, “We need the Wall more than ever!”—presumably to stem the spread of covid-19, despite the fact that air travel was the primary means by which infected people were arriving in the United States.

    In a bizarre digression during a press briefing, last Wednesday, he held that the spread of the virus occasioned a renewed commitment to the war on drugs. There is, however, an area in which the novel-coronavirus pandemic dovetails exceptionally well with part of Trump’s agenda and that of the Republican Party in some states: voter suppression.

    From the outset of Trump’s term, his canards, such as his claim that three million people voted illegally in the 2016 Presidential election, have been used to bolster attempts to make voting more difficult. Speaking on “Fox & Friends” last week, Trump denounced aspects of the two-trillion-dollar stimulus package that are meant to shore up voter access in order to offset the impact of the virus on the upcoming elections. […]

    Republicans, owing in part to their faith in Trump, who downplayed the threat of covid-19 for weeks before and during the outbreak in the United States, are still less likely to see the coronavirus as a serious threat. […]

    The G.O.P.’s approach to matters of voting can be broadly described as efforts to curate the electorate in its favor. In Wisconsin, the pandemic may facilitate and amplify those efforts. All this is given added weight by the fact that retaining Wisconsin is key to Trump’s reëlection bid. Both the G.O.P. and the Democrats have been playing close attention to a state Supreme Court race there in which a Dane County Circuit Court judge, Jill Karofsky, is challenging the conservative Justice Daniel Kelly for a seat on a court that will likely hear an ongoing case regarding the legality of an attempt to purge more than two hundred thousand voters from the Wisconsin rolls ahead of November. […]

    An invisible microbe has illustrated, more than any of the other serial debacles of the Trump era, the immense dangers posed by a President with Trump’s limitations. It’s possible that his abysmal handling of the crisis will tank his reëlection chances. But it’s also worth considering the possibility that the same microscopic antagonist could facilitate a tide of voter suppression that would help him keep his job, even as he demonstrates how unfit he was for it in the first place.

    Link

  174. blf says

    Lynna@233, quotes “reëlection” — Huh? Is that a typo, some meme / snark, a copy-and-paste glitch, or spider food (e.g., a fly) on my screen?

  175. says

    Jack Dorsey:

    I’m moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief. After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and UBI. It will operate transparently, all flows tracked here:…

    Why UBI and girl’s health and education? I believe they represent the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world. UBI is a great idea needing experimentation. Girl’s health and education is critical to balance:…

    Why is #startsmall a LLC? This segments and dedicates my shares to these causes, and provides flexibility. Grants will be made from Start Small Foundation or the LLC directly based on the beneficiary org. All transfers, sales, and grants will be made public in tracking sheet.

    Why the transparency? It’s important to show my work so I and others can learn. I’ve discovered and funded ($40mm) many orgs with proven impact and efficiency in the past, mostly anonymously. Going forward, all grants will be public. Suggestions welcome. Drop your cash app ;)

    Why pull just from Square and not Twitter? Simply: I own a lot more Square. And I’ll need to pace the sales over some time. The impact this money will have should benefit both companies over the long-term because it’s helping the people we want to serve.

    Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime. I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now.

  176. says

    Lynna and blf, that’s how the New Yorker does it. You can find an umlaut in almost every NYer article. It’s almost like they go out of their way to choose umlautable words.

  177. says

    I stand corrected: it’s a diaeresis.

    “The diaeresis indicates that two adjoining letters that would normally form a digraph and be pronounced as one are instead to be read as separate vowels in two syllables. The diaeresis indicates that a vowel should be pronounced apart from the letter that precedes it. For example, in the spelling coöperate, the diaeresis reminds the reader that the word has four syllables co-op-er-ate, not three, coop-er-ate. In British English this usage has been considered obsolete for many years, and in US English, although it persisted for longer, it is now considered archaic as well. Nevertheless, it is still used by the US magazine The New Yorker.”

  178. blf says

    SC@238, That makes it sound like a copyright trap or Mountweazel (ironically, a term invented by The New Yorker itself (see link)).

    However, multiple sources explain that what The New Yorker is using is not an umlaut, but a diaeresis, an archaic(?) diacritic marking “a vowel letter is pronounced separately from an adjacent vowel and not as part of a digraph or diphthong.” Which, indeed, is precisely what is happening in reëlection.

    So whilst it perhaps does serve as a sort-of Mountweazel given that it is so rare, it’s actually a near-obsolete aid to pronunciation.

  179. says

    Cory Booker: “Milwaukee is home to the largest African-American community in Wisconsin. Don’t tell me that forcing people to choose between their health and their right to vote today is anything but an appalling act of voter suppression.”

  180. blf says

    As others (e.g., Conway (as previously noted)) have observed, impeached quack hair furor has completely lost it. From the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    […] US President [sic] Donald Trump is briefing [sic] media at the White House. He has said he plans to put a hold on the US contribution to the World Health Organization. Trump blamed the WHO for the crisis, noting that they blew it. […]

    Followed by:

    […]
    Trump [is] asked again whether he is going to freeze funding [for WHO] during the pandemic and whether he thinks that would be wise.

    I didn’t say I was going to do it, he says (he did). He says he’s looking into it.

    And lots more idiocy, e.g., The side effects [of hydroxychloroquine] are the least of it, […] There are people dying all over the place.

  181. blf says

    Giggles from Rhiannon’s blog Intransitive here at FtB, Word Plays: Making light of the morally empty:

    Cheetolini has appointed a new Minister of Truth…I mean, propagandist…no wait, press secretary, that’s it. Her name is Kayleigh McEnany. Putting that in an anagram finder:

    Ye name: Lying Hack

    […]

  182. says

    MSNBC:

    President Trump: “I think mail-in voting is horrible, it’s corrupt.”

    Reporter: “You voted by mail in Florida’s election last month, didn’t you?”

    Trump: “Sure. I can vote by mail”

    Reporter: “How do you reconcile with that?”

    Trump: “Because I’m allowed to.”

    It goes on. It’s a tidal wave of bullshit. Thousands of people are dying in the US.

  183. johnson catman says

    re SC @247:

    Because I’m allowed to.

    Because he is SPESHULL!
    .
    Fucking rat-fucking asshole.

  184. says

    Guardian – “Human impact on wildlife to blame for spread of viruses, says study”:

    Hunting, farming and the global move of people to cities has led to massive declines in biodiversity and increased the risk of dangerous viruses like Covid-19 spilling over from animals to humans, a major study has concluded.

    In a paper that suggests the underlying cause of the present pandemic is likely to be increased human contact with wildlife, scientists from Australia and the US traced which animals were most likely to share pathogens with humans.

    Taking 142 viruses known to have been transmitted from animals to humans over many years, they matched them to the IUCN’s red list of threatened species.

    Domesticated animals like cattle [sic], sheep, dogs and goats shared the highest number of viruses with humans, with eight times more animal-borne viruses than wild mammal species.

    Wild animals that have adapted well to human-dominated environments also share more viruses with people. Rodents, bats and primates – which often live among people, and close to houses and farms – together were implicated as hosts for nearly 75% of all viruses. Bats alone have been linked to diseases like Sars, Nipah, Marburg and Ebola.

    The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that the spillover risk was highest from threatened and endangered wild animals whose populations had declined largely due to hunting, the wildlife trade and loss of habitat.

    “Human encroachment into biodiverse areas increases the risk of spillover of novel infectious diseases by enabling new contacts between humans and wildlife … We found that species in the primate and bat orders were significantly more likely to harbour zoonotic viruses compared to all other orders,” it said.

    “Spillover of viruses from animals are a direct result of our actions involving wildlife and their habitat,” said lead author Christine Kreuder Johnson, director of the EpiCenter for Disease Dynamics at the One Health Institute, a programme of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

    “The consequence is they’re sharing their viruses with us. These actions simultaneously threaten species survival and increase the risk of spillover. In an unfortunate convergence of many factors, this brings about the kind of mess we’re in now,” she said.

    “We need to be really attentive to how we interact with wildlife and the activities that bring humans and wildlife together. We obviously don’t want pandemics of this scale. We need to find ways to co-exist safely with wildlife, as they have no shortages of viruses to give us,” said Johnson….

    For a useful perspective, see David Nibert’s Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict. Any real and effective response to this crisis will require a fundamental reordering of our relationship with our fellow animals.

  185. chigau (違う) says

    Not that John Prine is more important than all the others but….
    …I am sad

  186. Saad says

    America: The president is allowed to remove watchdog overseeing $2 trillion spending

    Trump: removes watchdog

    America: What the hell?!?!

  187. says

    NEWS: Gov. Gavin Newsom: California has inked deal for 200 million masks (150 million N95, 50 million surgical) per month, enough to meet state’s needs and potentially export to other states.”

    Video clip from his interview with Rachel Maddow atl.

  188. says

    Bruce Springsteen: “Over here on E Street, we are crushed by the loss of John Prine. John and I were ‘New Dylans’ together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the lovliest guy in the world. A true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family.”

  189. says

    Stephen Colbert last night on Modly’s lecturing the sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt (audio @ #116 above):

    First of all, don’t imply that the crew is a bunch of cowards because they don’t want to catch a deadly virus. They signed up to serve their country, not endanger their lives for no reason on a ship. If they wanted to do that, they’d go on a cruise.

  190. Akira MacKenzie says

    Well then. Be it Biden or Trump, everyone prepare to bend over for yet more figurative anal rape from the capitalist system.

  191. says

    Brian Beutler at Crooked – “Democrats Can Change History or Doom Us To Repeat It”:

    …Democrats can insure against a future like this in two ways. First, protect the election from the pandemic, and then win it by a wide-enough margin to pick up the Senate; second, create the tools they’ll need now to prevent Republicans from shutting down the rescue unilaterally next year. They can do it, they have the means. But they have shown no appetite for making either goal non-negotiable in their negotiations with Republicans. Part of the point of tediously imploring Democrats to confront Trump and Republicans the way they deserve to be confronted is to prime them for moments like this, when everything turns on whether they’re willing to use their leverage in an uncompromising way.

    Trump needs Congress to pass more emergency spending measures. His irredeemable handling of the coronavirus pandemic will be all the more apparent to voters if the high and climbing unemployment rate never comes down. That need should allow Democrats to make two straightforward demands—first, that the key provisions of the rescue span administrations and won’t phase down until the economy has recovered; second, that everyone in America be allowed to vote easily by mail so that plague conditions don’t render the 2020 election illegitimate.

    The cardinal importance of these demands has been evident since before lockdowns began, and have gained wider traction on the left in the weeks since. Against the backdrop of the plague election in Wisconsin, and Republican efforts to hobble the response there, they should be obvious, and easy to make. The virus shouldn’t destroy the economy no matter which party controls the presidency, the virus shouldn’t destroy democracy, no matter which party benefits from stay-at-home orders.

    But with everything on the line, Democrats still have not made them.

    Joe Biden went only so far as to say, “We should…have all the experts—both political parties, and academia—laying out what it would take to have voting by mail, I’d much prefer to have in-person voting, but it depends—it depends on the state of play.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told members of her caucus that she would seek to “extend unemployment aid and small-business assistance for additional months,” rather than for as long as is necessary to support the recovery, no matter who occupies the Oval Office.

    Republicans by contrast seem to have a better grasp of Democratic power than Democrats do and are methodically thinking through how to neutralize it. They’ve now proposed extending key provisions of the existing recovery effort in piecemeal form, because they know Democrats will be hard pressed to vote against needed aid, but also that getting money out the door in one-off bursts will arrest the crisis, run out the clock, and grind Democratic leverage down to nothing. They also know that by moving first, they can set the terms of the debate over the next phase of the recovery—just as they did last time around—and dismiss post-hoc Democratic demands as desperate efforts to load the coronavirus response up with non-germane poison pills. In response, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered Republicans more money than they asked for, but made no conditions of their own. Not vote by mail, not automatic stimulus, not even for Trump to reinstate the coronavirus-relief watchdog he fired, thumbing his nose at the oversight Democrats demanded in the last relief package.

    There are signs that the Wisconsin fiasco has awakened at least some Democrats to the perilousness of this situation.

    House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn—a top Biden surrogate and Pelosi ally—has consistently counseled a non-confrontational course for the party, but he characterized the GOP antics in Wisconsin in appropriately withering terms, concluding, “Congress must make sure all states allow all eligible voters to vote by mail in November.” But the only way for Congress to accomplish this would be to make protecting the election a condition of further aid, so that Republicans can’t make Wisconsin a model for the country.

    That won’t happen absent a major and abrupt change in the Democrats’ approach to opposition politics. And unless it’s a lasting one, it will only delay our collision with the reactionary forces Republicans have lined up against us, rather than allow us to transcend them. Whether Democrats fight more aggressively or not isn’t a matter of posturing or aesthetics or fleeting election tactics. It’s the difference between whether they will shape history or doom us to repeat it.

  192. militantagnostic says

    SC @266

    Saying “The war against coronavirus is over” is like saying WW II on the western front was over on June 7, 1944 (the day after D-Day) and the fighting on the Esatern front ended after the Battle of Moscow.

  193. microraptor says

    The US Presidential Election has officially become Okay Boomer Vs Nothing About That Boomer Is Okay.

  194. says

    Mehdi Hasan at the Intercept – “After Coronavirus, Let’s Never Forget: Republicans Recklessly Put Our Lives in Danger”:

    …Never forget what these ridiculous and reckless people on the right said and did, how dangerously and shamefully they behaved, as American jobs were lost in their millions and American lives were lost in their thousands. Never forget — and, most important of all, never listen to any of these people about anything ever again.

    Much more atl. I honestly think some of them should be tried for crimes.

  195. says

    G liveblog (linked @ #253 above – support the Guardian if you can):

    As of 5pm on 7 April, of those treated in hospital in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 7,097 have died, the Department for Health and Social Care said. That is a rise of 938, up from 6,159 the previous day – the highest day-on-day rise so far….

  196. says

    Medium – “Statement From Vice President Biden”:

    Today, Senator Sanders announced he was suspending his campaign. Bernie has put his heart and soul into not only running for President, but for the causes and issues he has been dedicated to his whole life. So, I know how hard a decision this was for him to make — and how hard it is for the millions of his supporters — especially younger voters — who have been inspired and energized and brought into politics by the progressive agenda he has championed. Bernie has done something rare in politics. He hasn’t just run a political campaign; he’s created a movement. And make no mistake about it, I believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future.

    Senator Sanders and his supporters have changed the dialogue in America. Issues which had been given little attention — or little hope of ever passing — are now at the center of the political debate. Income inequality, universal health care, climate change, free college, relieving students from the crushing debt of student loans. These are just a few of the issues Bernie and his supporters have given life to. And while Bernie and I may not agree on how we might get there, we agree on the ultimate goal for these issues and many more.

    But more than any one issue or set of issues, I want to commend Bernie for being a powerful voice for a fairer and more just America. It’s voices like Bernie’s that refuse to allow us to just accept what is — that refuse to accept we can’t change what’s wrong in our nation — that refuse to accept the health and well-being of our fellow citizens and our planet isn’t our responsibility too. Bernie gets a lot of credit for his passionate advocacy for the issues he cares about. But he doesn’t get enough credit for being a voice that forces us all to take a hard look in the mirror and ask if we’ve done enough.

    While the Sanders campaign has been suspended — its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over. We will address the existential crisis of climate change. We will confront income inequality in our nation. We will make sure healthcare is affordable and accessible to every American. We will make education at our public colleges and universities free. We will ease the burden of student debt. And, most important of all, we will defeat Donald Trump.

    At this moment, we are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis in American history. There is enormous fear and pain and loss being felt all across the country. There are also untold stories of heroism — of nurses and health care workers and doctors and first responders and grocery store workers and truck drivers and so many others on the front lines of this crisis. Putting their own lives in danger for the rest of us. If we didn’t know it before, we know it now: This is the backbone of our nation.

    Our first job is to get through the immediate crisis threatening the public health and getting help into the pockets of America’s workers. But we also need to take a hard look at what we need to fix and change in this country. Many of the biggest cracks in the social safety net have been laid bare — from health care to paid sick leave to a more extensive and comprehensive system of unemployment benefits. We will need to address these. Just as we need to address rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. And we all know — the clock is ticking — we don’t have a moment to waste in combating the climate crisis.

    As friends, Jill and I want to say to Bernie and Jane, we know how hard this is. You have put the interest of the nation — and the need to defeat Donald Trump — above all else. And for that Jill and I are grateful. But we also want you to know: I’ll be reaching out to you. You will be heard by me. As you say: Not me, Us.

    And to your supporters I make the same commitment: I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.

    Together we will defeat Donald Trump. And when we do that, we’ll not only do the hard work of rebuilding this nation — we’ll transform it.

  197. says

    SC @238 and 239; and blf @241: Thanks for the explanations and information. Hey, I learned something today.

    About Bernie Sanders exiting the presidential primary stage:

    Bernie Sanders won’t be president, but his leadership changed a party and a political model, and that’s no small thing. […]

    as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) exits the 2020 stage, his departure doesn’t fit neatly into the usual boxes. He didn’t exactly defy expectations — the senator was expected to be a top contender and he was — and given the Vermonter’s age, he won’t be able to parlay his campaign into some other candidacy.

    But to think Sanders walks away from the zero-sum affair emptyhanded would be to miss the scope of influence. I’m reminded of a pre-crisis column the New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie wrote after Super Tuesday.

    It looks like [Joe Biden] will secure the nomination, but Sanders won the policy argument. Democrats in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina support Medicare for All; Democrats in California, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia support free college. And the future of the Democratic Party — the youngest voters — are with Sanders.

    […] Sanders excelled in ways few could’ve imagined, cultivating a large base of die-hard supporters, and pushing Democratic politics in his direction. After the race, the senator used his success to draw even more attention to his policy priorities, picking up new allies, and building new support for his ideas. […]

    There’s ample room for discussion about why, after leading the field in February, the senator’s candidacy ultimately fell short. There’s also reason to speculate about what the near future holds in terms of Sanders’ possible unifying role in trying to defeat Donald Trump in the fall. All of these questions matter, even if their answers aren’t altogether clear.

    But today, as Sanders makes the painful decision to walk away, give the guy his due.

    Link

  198. says

    Good news for voters in Florida:

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his allies lost another round in court yesterday as part of their effort to prevent released felons from voting: “U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said a previous ruling he made that allowed felons to vote, even if they owe fines and fees stemming from their convictions, covers all individuals statewide, not just the 17 people who originally sued DeSantis.”

  199. says

    Good news for voters in Montana:

    Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) announced this week that the state’s primary elections, currently scheduled for June 2, will be conducted by mail in each of the state’s 56 counties.

    Possibly, hopefully, good news for voters in Kentucky:

    In Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, Amy McGrath (D) raised a surprisingly robust $12.8 million in the first quarter of 2020, more than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) $7.5 million over the same three-month period. The Republican incumbent, however, still has more cash on hand.

  200. says

    Trump versus the World Health Organization:

    There was an odd moment during yesterday’s White House press briefing in which Donald Trump accidentally made some news: the president declared that his administration is “going to put a hold” on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization. He added, “We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it.”

    It was, to be sure, a curious announcement. After all, cutting off money for the WHO during a global pandemic makes about as much sense as trying to cut CDC funding during a pandemic. (Oh wait, Trump wanted to do that, too.)

    But a little later in the same briefing, a reporter asked whether such a move was wise. “Maybe not,” the president replied. “I’m not saying we’re going to do it but we’re going to look at it.” Reminded that he’d said 15 minutes earlier that he’s “going to put a hold” on funding, Trump replied, “No, I didn’t.”

    As strange as it was to hear the president denying he said what everyone had just heard him say, there was a larger, more substantive takeaway: the American president appears to have settled on a new foe. The New York Times reported:

    In effect, Mr. Trump sought to denounce the W.H.O. for the very missteps and failures that have been leveled at him and his administration…. In fact, the W.H.O. sounded the alarm in the earliest days of the crisis, declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” a day before the United States secretary of health and human services announced the country’s own public health emergency and weeks before Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.

    For those inclined to take the president’s gripes seriously, the basic nature of Trump’s complaint is that he sees the WHO as being too closely aligned with China. Of course, if the White House cut off funding for the international organization, it would likely push the WHO even closer to China.

    […] Trump seems to realize that someone will be blamed for the United States’ response to the coronavirus crisis, and he’s desperately scrambling to make sure the responsibility doesn’t fall on him. […]

    Trump — who seems to feel most comfortable when he has a target for his grievances — has spent weeks lashing out at Democrats, governors, journalists, China, the Obama administration, and even General Motors. […] even turned his sights on hospitals, suggesting New York medical centers were lying about needed resources.

    The Washington Post last week published a list of “everyone and everything Trump has blamed for his coronavirus response.” It was not an especially short piece.

    And now the president — who famously declared, “I don’t take responsibility at all” — appears eager to add the World Health Organization to his growing list of culprits.

    Trump needs an enemy. He just can’t seem to settle on one.

    Link

  201. says

    Trump’s take on Bernie Sanders having suspended his presidential campaign:

    Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!

    Wow, Bernie is unwilling to give up his delegates, and wants more of them! What’s that all about?

    Can’t see AOC plus 3 supporting Sleepy Joe!

    Typical. And also right in line with Putin’s playbook.

    BTW, AOC already announced that she will support Joe Biden.

    Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale is also singing along with the Russians:

    […] Biden represents the old, tired way and continuing to coddle the communist regime in China. Democrat elites shoved Bernie Sanders to the side for a second time, leaving many of his supporters looking for a new home.

    TPM link

    From the readers comments:

    This is just the regime in the WH trying to divide Dems and looking really lame in the process. The entire regime is nothing more than one large, online Russian troll. Nothing more.
    ———————–

    Yes. Bernie should join the Republican Party because, as we all know, his entire life has been built around fighting for rapacious corporate greed, lowering taxes on billionaires while everyone else fights for the crumbs, destruction of the environment, Darwinian healthcare policies, and a government run by fascists.

    This is Trump projecting, of course. His only North Star are his personal interests. He could roll in either Party in terms of policy -because he doesn’t care -but Democrats have too much integrity to ever have him.

    From Jill Stein:

    Now it’s clearer than ever: establishment Dems’ top priority is sabotaging progressives to maintain their own power. Green Party US welcomes all who understand […]

    And that’s why I don’t like the constant repetition of the “establishment Democrats” (or “Democrat elites”) in order to create an enemy. Jill Stein is also playing by Putin’s playbook. Democrats from all walks of life, all across the U.S., voted for Joe Biden. You can disagree with Biden’s policies, or with his plans to achieve Democratic goals, but you can’t say that only “establishment Dems” voted for him or worked to aid his campaign. That’s just not true. Oversimplification is often used to create a bogus enemy-of-the-people. Don’t fall for that propaganda.

    From the reader’s comments:

    the motherfucker [Trump] is stupid. If he was capable of even the cosplay of decency and emotional maturity, he could peel off a bunch of Bros to vote Trump in ’20.

    But he’s too stupid, and too much the sociopathic narcissist.
    ———————-
    “Join us, Bernie! Yours will be an important voice in the New Order—second only to my own!”
    General Zod
    ———————-
    As Fox calls for VC Day (victory against Coronavirus), 80% feel the worst is yet to come.

    The worst is yet to come in my state, that’s for sure. We are still on the steep uphill side of new cases every day.

  202. says

    Trump Claims Hospitals Are In ‘Great Shape’ With Ventilators Because Hannity Said So

    […] During an interview with the conservative anchor on Tuesday night, Trump claimed that hospitals battling the coronavirus outbreak are “not needing nearly as many” beds and ventilators “as they thought.”

    “In fact, I just saw on your show–and a couple of other people just reported back to me–that everyone is in great shape from the standpoint of ventilators,” he told Hannity. “Which is very hard because they’re very expensive and they’re big and they’re very high-tech.”

    But contrary to Trump’s claim on Tuesday and his previous complaints that ungrateful governors are overstating how many ventilators they need, the crucial machines are still very much in short supply. […]

    Trump and Fox News: Deadly lies in a feedback loop

    […] Trump also declared that he wanted to “open” the country by Easter, April 12: “I would love to have that. It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’d love to make it an important day for this…Easter’s a very special day for me. Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full? You’ll have packed churches all over our country…I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

    Neither host from Fox’s “news” side summoned the moxie to challenge Trump. Instead, one replied: “Oh wow, OK…That would be a great American resurrection.”

    They even sat silent when Trump held up a story from a crackpot right-wing conspiracy website that accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of refusing to buy 16,000 ventilators in 2015. They didn’t ask Trump to name or vet his source, or to explain where that (fake) information came from or how it was supposedly substantiated.

    So it’s no wonder that Fox News fans are more out to lunch about reality than everyone else. In a poll released last week by YouGov and The Economist, roughly 70 percent of the people who get most of their news from national papers, CNN, MSNBC, and network broadcasts are worried about the coronavirus. Only 38 percent of Fox consumers say they’re worried.

    In other words, most Fox fans are a threat. I hope none of them sneeze on us in the grocery line.

  203. says

    Hmmm. Maybe somebody finally got wise at the CDC.

    CDC Site Deletes Anecdotal Reports Of Docs Using Trump’s Touted Anti-Malaria Drugs

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quietly deleted large chunks of its guidelines on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two anti-malaria drugs […] Trump has claimed to be potentially effective treatment for COVID-19 (they have not been proven to treat the virus).

    Eli Lee, a researcher at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) watchdog organization, flagged on Tuesday that the CDC’s advisory on coronavirus treatment no longer includes details of how “some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally different hydroxychloroquine dosing,” and that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are “reportedly well-tolerated in COVID-19 patients.” […]

    The section on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine has now been whittled down to one paragraph explaining that they are merely “under investigation in clinical trials.” […]

  204. says

    Representative Katie Porter demonstrates her intelligence … again.

    Rep. Katie Porter has been all business since being elected to office. Today, Rep. Porter released a report showing that in spite of growing concerns and warnings about the potential oncoming pandemic threat of the COVID-19 virus from top officials and experts, Donald Trump not only did nothing about it, he allowed ramped up exportation of much-needed medical supplies. The report, titled “EVERYONE BUT US,” charges Donald Trump with misapplying and mismanaging our nation’s medical supplies in the months leading up to our current crisis.

    Rep. Porter, like many Democratic officials, has long pleaded with Trump to use the powers afforded him under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ramp up production and supply chains for much-needed medical supplies. These essential medical supplies were needed weeks ago at the front lines of the battle to save lives. […]

    while Trump’s incompetence and criminal negligence has been well covered, Porter’s team has analyzed “previously unreported government trade data” that paints an even darker picture of how complicit in our country’s misery Donald Trump is. According to the report, the United States was not simply ill-prepared for the coming pandemic—they were actively making big money depleting our medical resources, making us even less prepared: […]

    It is clear that one of the fundamental tragic flaws of conservatism in America is how shortsighted its greed for money and power is. By not being more serious in January and February, and even in March, the Trump administration and the Republican power apparatus in general has worsened the economic problems we now face, and will continue to face in the not so distant future. What this report shows is that this short-sightedness is pathological in nature, […].

    Link

  205. says

    Say, what now?

    Forget church-state separation: U.S. government to pay pastors’ salaries with relief funding

    Well, here’s something we didn’t know was part of the $2 trillion federal relief package: a provision that makes it possible for some of that relief money to be directed toward religious institutions, according to NPR.

    That’s right, churches and other faith-based organizations have been designated within the legislation as “businesses,” making them eligible to receive a portion of the $350 billion dedicated to helping small businesses weather tough economic times. Those are taxpayer dollars, folks, going to help faith-based organizations pay their pastors and utility bills.

    “Faith-based organizations are eligible to receive SBA loans regardless of whether they provide secular social services,” the SBA said in a statement. “No otherwise eligible organization will be disqualified from receiving a loan because of the religious nature, religious identity, or religious speech of the organization.”

    This seems a pretty clear-cut flouting of the Constitution. The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    “The government cannot directly fund inherently religious activities,” Alison Gill, legal and policy vice president of American Atheists, told NPR. “It can’t spend government tax dollars on prayer, on promoting religion [or] proselytization. That directly contradicts the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This is the most drastic attack on church-state separation we have ever seen.”

    […] “Because those regulations bar the participation of a class of potential recipients based solely on their religious status, SBA will decline to enforce these subsections and will propose amendments to conform those regulations to the Constitution,” the SBA said.

    Wow. That seems like a pretty major policy change.

  206. says

    Chris Hayes’ podcast Why Is This Happening – “The Last Great Pandemic with John M. Barry”:

    What did we learn from the last great pandemic? You don’t have to dig deep into the 1918 influenza before finding eerie similarities to today – be it the White House downplaying the severity of the virus or the social distancing measures recommended by public health officials. Author John M. Barry’s meticulously researched account of the 1918 pandemic in his book “The Great Influenza” was so affecting that it inspired then President George W. Bush to develop a comprehensive pandemic plan after reading it. There’s no one better to discuss the similarities and differences to what played out a century ago – and the far reaching reverberations this moment will have – than John M. Barry.

    50-minute podcast atl. One thing they don’t discuss is what I mentioned here back in February: that the Spanish Flu killed an estimated 18 million people in India. (I notice that in other comments at that time Lynna was reporting on Trump’s attempts to drastically cut funding for the CDC and NIH in the proposed budget and I was sharing Trump’s remarks about how “A lot of people think [the coronavirus] goes away in April with the heat. As the heat comes in. Typically that will go away in April. We’re in great shape, though.”)

  207. says

    Jill Stein quoted in Lynna’s #282: “Now it’s clearer than ever: establishment Dems’ top priority is sabotaging progressives to maintain their own power. Green Party US welcomes all who understand…”

    Jill Stein is a Russian asset. I don’t know if it’s intentional or she’s just a useful idiot, but I incline towards the former.

    Lynna @ #285, Julia Davis is reporting that Russians are furious about Putin’s propaganda stunt of sending the US medical supplies that are desperately needed in Russia.

  208. KG says

    SC@287,

    I can’t recall if you mentioned (back in February) Laura Spinney’s Pale Rider (2017), another book on the “Spanish” influenza (It was “Spanish” because that’s where most of the earliest reporting of cases occurred, and that was because news of the pandemic was suppressed in those countries involved in WW1). Spinney deals with the heavy toll in poorer countries – both politically independent ones, and those that were part of European (and American and Japanese) empires.

    The disparity may be even greater with Covid-19. It’s now fairly clear that rich countries can, if they follow the right policies, prevent infection spreading to most of their populations, and keep the death rate among those infected low – maybe less than 1%. The same will not be true in places where “social distancing” and even regular hand-washing are impossible for millions, and “lockdown” would mean starvation for those living day-to-day (already the case in India, where Modi’s sudden and extreme lockdown in the interests of the elite has set off a migration reminiscent of Partition); let alone in active war zones. Moreover, I foresee a grim scenario in which the epidemic is effectively over in Europe, North America and East Asia, but still raging elsewhere, with travel bans to delight Trump and his fans. A global effort to assist the poorest countries with testing, medical equipment, and whatever treatments or vaccines become available is essential, and we in rich countries need to be campaigning for it now.

  209. says

    Despite lack of testing strategy, Trump seeks ‘congratulations’

    Trump doesn’t yet have a national testing strategy, but he apparently doesn’t see that as a problem in need of a solution.

    At Monday’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked Donald Trump when American hospitals should expect to see a quicker turnaround on coronavirus test results. The president wasn’t pleased with the question.

    “Are you ready? Are you ready? Hospitals can do their own testing also. States can do their own testing. States are supposed to be doing testing. Hospitals are supposed to be doing testing. Do you understand that? We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing. They go to doctors. They go to hospitals. They go to the state. The state is a more localized government; you have 50 of them…. And they do the testing.”

    Why does Trump use, “are you ready” to silence reporters before he spews more misinformation. I guess I just answered my own question.

    […] Speaking directly to the reporter who asked the question, he said, “And you should say, ‘Congratulations. Great job’ — instead of being so horrid in the way you ask a question.”

    As over-the-top answers go, this one was a doozy. For example, his line about “old” and “obsolete” tests was substantively incoherent: this is a new virus, so there was no way for Trump to inherit faulty tests from his predecessors. There were flawed tests the administration used earlier this year, but they were created by Trump administration.

    But perhaps more important was the president’s argument that a federal testing policy isn’t the White House’s problem. A new Washington Post report offers a very different perspective.

    Three months into the coronavirus epidemic, the Trump administration has yet to devise a national strategy to test Americans for the deadly disease — something experts say is key to blunting the outbreak and resuming daily life. In the absence of a national plan, several states are developing their own testing systems, but the emerging picture varies widely. States with more money and robust medical sectors have devised comprehensive plans, while others lag far behind.

    Partners in Health medical director Joia Mukherjee told the Post, “Unfortunately, states really are on their own. It’s problematic at best and egregious at worst, because some states have more resources than others; some states have more leadership than others.”

    To hear Trump tell it, this is, for all intents and purposes, a feature, not a bug. If states are developing their own testing systems, good. The president doesn’t want the responsibility.

    But the result is a national problem with a patch-work, state-based solution, responding to a pandemic that’s indifferent to state boundaries.

    Barack Obama added on Twitter this morning, “Social distancing bends the curve and relieves some pressure on our heroic medical professionals. But in order to shift off current policies, the key will be a robust system of testing and monitoring — something we have yet to put in place nationwide.”

    It’s against this backdrop that his successor declared this week, “We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.”

    Link

  210. says

    Follow-up to comment 291.

    The state of New Mexico does it right. This could be a blueprint for Trump to follow if Trump was not so adamant that the federal government should Not set up nationwide testing:

    In much of the country, even those with COVID-19 symptoms are struggling to get tested for the virus. But in New Mexico, a rural and low income state, the governor announced last week that certain residents without symptoms can now get tested.

    New Mexico’s expansion of its testing eligibility — which now allows testing for asymptomatic people who are exposed to COVID-19 or who live in group living facilities like nursing homes — is a testament to how quickly the state was able to scale up its testing.

    Until last week, only New York, Washington and Louisiana were turning around more tests on a per capita basis than New Mexico, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. A few other states have since caught up, but New Mexico has remained in the top 10 — a remarkable achievement for a state where four-in-10 residents live under 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

    A spokesperson for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) told TPM that the decision to expand testing eligibility was driven in part by “growing body of evidence showing benefits of testing asymptomatic people and keeping those confirmed positive patients home” […]

    She and others involved in the testing ramp-up effort described a coordinated campaign between the governor’s office, health officials and the state’s congressional delegation. Officials moved quickly, setting up drive-through testing sites just three days after first positive case was confirmed. Laboratories in New Mexico have developed a diverse set of testing tools with the aims of both meeting demand and being prepared if individual manufacturers see shortages in their supplies.

    On March 23, Governor Lujan Grisham ordered that each of New Mexico’s 33 counties have at least one testing site. The state’s Department of Health website now lists 51 different locations. […]

    […] The state-run laboratory and a private Albuquerque-based laboratory called TriCore Reference Laboratories have been two of the state’s biggest test processing sites.

    TriCore began processing the CDC-style of coronavirus tests on March 12, the day after New Mexico’s first presumptive case, and by the end of the month was expanding its capabilities to process three other types of tests. The lab can now process 1,000 tests a day and has no significant backlog.

    […] the state decided early on not just to rely on the federal government to deliver testing supplies.

    But the federal government still got in New Mexico’s way by reportedly interfering in its attempts to purchase more materials for the TriCore laboratory, according to the governor’s office, prompting Lujan Grisham to voice her frustrations on a mid-March call with President Trump. She secured a follow-up call with Vice President Mike Pence, who assured her the federal government would get New Mexico what it needed, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

    […] making sure remote New Mexican communities have access to care has been a long-standing priority.

    A third of the state is on Medicaid, which was expanded under the Affordable Care Act in 2013. Another 15 percent of New Mexicans are on Medicare. […]

    […] “really listening and going through all of our contacts with the rural hospitals and other hospitals in the district and asking them what their big challenges were. Testing came up to the top right away,” she said.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/new-mexico-covid-19-testing

    From the readers comments:

    Michelle Lujan Grisham has done this exactly right from Day 1.
    —————
    Look what happens when people actually rely on science to shape policy.
    —————
    Democratic leadership in action. This is what happens when you vote for smart, competent, caring people versus voting for lying con men. Well done NM!
    ——————
    Hardly anyone is getting tested in Texas and results take 3 weeks in some instances.
    ——————-
    Michelle Lujan Grisham is of Mexican-American ancestry. Her forebears in New Mexico are said to go back 12 generations, to the original Spanish settlers in the 17th century–back to Mayflower/Plymouth Rock times. And she could really help bring Latinx voters to the polls in critical states like Arizona and Texas.

    She is a former Congresswoman and state health commissioner. I have heard only good things about her political talent.

    Joe Biden: Put her on your short list for VP.

  211. says

    More advice from Trump … advice that you should not take:

    Once we OPEN UP OUR GREAT COUNTRY, and it will be sooner rather than later, the horror of the Invisible Enemy, except for those that sadly lost a family member or friend, must be quickly forgotten. Our Economy will BOOM, perhaps like never before!!!

  212. says

    Hosts on Fox News are claiming that the coronavirus death count is inflated. The truth is the opposite.

    Fox anchor Harris Faulkner is joining the chorus of Fox figures suggesting perhaps the coronavirus death toll is over-inflated

    Fox anchor: “How many of those people had other risks at play and maybe, in fact, it wasn’t COVID-19 that caused their death.”

    https://twitter.com/LisPower1/status/1247948603059994628

    That’s just one example among many.

  213. says

    KG @ #290, the article I linked to in that February comment was by Spinney (I could read it in full at the time, but unfortunately there’s now a paywall). It was very good. I put the book on my list last year, but haven’t yet read it.

    From the Guardian liveblog a few hours ago:

    The European Union has reshuffled its aid budget and promised €20bn (£17.5bn) to help countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific tackle coronavirus, as well as near neighbours in eastern Europe, Jennifer Rankin reports from Brussels.

    Following a conference call of EU development ministers, the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, told journalists he expected more than €20bn would be available to help countries around the world.

    “Unless the virus is defeated everywhere, it will not be defeated anywhere,” he said.

    The funds come from reorganising the EU’s existing aid budget. EU officials have insisted no country will get less than promised before the outbreak, while vital programmes on nutrition, sanitation, health and education will continue.

    Earlier on Wednesday the EU announced €15.6bn in coronavirus aid, which includes €5.2bn in loans from the EU’s lending arm, the European Investment Bank.

    Africa has been earmarked €3.25bn, while a further €3.07bn is for countries on or near the EU’s southern and eastern borders, including some Middle Eastern nations, as well as Belarus, Ukraine, the Caucasus, Turkey and the Balkans.

    Borrell said Africa was a priority for the EU, as the coronavirus could have “consequences of an entirely different scale than in other parts of the world”.

    The World Health Organization warned this week that cases were “increasing exponentially in the African region”, while local experts have stressed that sub-Saharan Africa lacks intensive care facilities, which could bring devastating results.

    They also provide a tweet reporting: “The first Covid-19 deaths are announced in Rio’s favelas: five people in Rocinha and three in Manguinhos.”

    The scenario you present, in which ” the epidemic is effectively over in Europe, North America and East Asia, but still raging elsewhere, with travel bans to delight Trump and his fans,” seems terrifyingly plausible. The WHO has called for a global strategy to address this and any future pandemics, which will be necessary.

  214. says

    Excerpts from the article SC mentioned in comment 275.

    Elena Aprile was in a race against time.

    Her Xenon experiment, one of the world’s largest and most expensive investigations into the nature of dark matter, was coming together beneath Gran Sasso, a mountain in Italy. But Dr. Aprile, a Columbia University physics professor, was stuck in her apartment in Brooklyn as New York entered an indeterminate period of lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, and she was “living on Cheerios and milk,” she said.

    In Italy, about a month into its own lockdown, a skeleton crew was trying to finish assembling her experiment’s expensive and delicate detector and safely seal it in place deep below the mountain’s rocks, before the virus brought down the hammer on even this much group activity.

    What followed was an illustration of how some science is managing to get done during a plague. […]

    Astronomers have […] concluded over the last half-century that most of the matter in the universe is invisible. They suspect that this invisible stuff consists of giant cosmic clouds of subatomic particles called “wimps,” for weakly interacting massive particles, left over from the Big Bang.

    Mostly impervious to normal forces like electromagnetism, these particles drift through the world, and through us, like ghosts through a wall.

    In the quest to spot them, physicists have built a succession of bigger and bigger detectors. But as they’ve gained greater and greater clarity, they have seen no wimps, […].

    The wimp experiments keep improving. But eventually they could reach a limit called the “neutrino floor,” becoming so sensitive that they are overwhelmed by neutrinos, ghostly super-elusive particles that flood the universe from the sun, the stars and the Big Bang. Any wimps passing through will be impossible to discern in this sea, […]

    Dr. Aprile and her team — a globe-spanning confederation — planned to record the pit-pat of dark matter particles raining into a tank of liquid xenon lined with 500 photomultipliers and other sensors, and placed far underground to shield it from cosmic rays. The hope was that her team’s device would spot the rare collision of a wimp with a xenon nucleus, an event she estimated might happen about once a year per ton of xenon.

    […] Her new detector will have 8.5 tons.

    A rival experiment called the LZ Dark Matter Experiment, also using eight tons of xenon, was being assembled in an old gold mine that is now the Sanford Underground Research Facility, in Lead, S.D. And there is a whole alphabet soup of other experiments stashed in old mines and tunnels around the world, with names like PandaX, DarkSide and SuperCDMS. […]

    Dr. Aprile said, “All of us will have delays due to this damn thing [coronavirus]. If one of my people gets sick, I will feel so bad.”

    Dr. Aprile was born in Milan. To say that she lives a peripatetic life would be an understatement. She teaches at Columbia but commutes regularly to L’Aquila, a town in central Italy near the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, which lies off a tunnel through the mountain of the same name, beneath nearly 4,600 feet of rock.

    Until March she had been living the typical jet-setting life of particle physicist. In November she attended a physics conference in South Korea. In February, after a brief stop in New York, she was in Italy at Gran Sasso for three days. From there she went to a conference in South Africa, and on to the University of California, San Diego, where she was a visiting professor.

    Then the universities shut down. Worried about her two daughters, who live in New York, Dr. Aprile returned home. She had planned to return to Gran Sasso in early May after her professorship was done, when they would start testing and running their detector. But the virus had other plans.

    […] there were only about half a dozen scientists on site in March when the coronavirus hit Italy.

    It is safer and easier to keep experiments running, rather than shut them off and later switch them back on, he explained, so the lab’s experiments have continued to operate as they would during the winter holidays. […]

    “Xenon was amid critical ongoing operations,” Dr. Ragazzi said in an email. “We asked them to come to a safe stopping point and to pause operations.”

    That stopping point would come once the detector had been sealed in its cryostat — a big thermos bottle that could keep the xenon inside at minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit — and all the air had been pumped out, […]

    “We close this detector for the first time inside this big water tank,” she said. “Then we spend a few months, if everything goes well, commissioning it to understand how the hell it works. Hopefully it works as you designed. You start to see if there’s a signal. And that’s when you declare OK, and then you start to work.”

    All did not go well.

    An important step occurred on March 5, when a team led by Luca Grandi of the University of Chicago installed the detector underground. It had arrived in pieces at Gran Sasso from all over the world,[…]

    The finished detector, known as a time projection chamber, is about five feet long and five feet wide, and weighs half a ton without the xenon in it. The team had to rent a special truck and get a police escort to move it to the underground part of the lab, which is accessible through a highway tunnel under the mountain. […]

    There the detector was installed under the dome of the cryostat. But the cryostat was not ready to be closed. “We were almost done, but now we needed special permissions,” Dr. Aprile said.

    Failure to finish installing the detector would leave the tank open to the air, which would increase the chance of contamination by radon, a radioactive gas found in underground spaces and the main source of contamination in experiments like this one.

    A minimum of three or four people were needed to handle these final steps. Dr. Aprile had a half-dozen scientists and technicians at the site, so the margin was getting thin. […]

    Dr. Aprile promoted Petr Chaguine, a scientist from Rice University who had been living in Gran Sasso, to direct the team. He reported back to his friends and family in Houston that his Italian colleagues were “kindly translating news and new government regulations” as they appeared, which was often. […]

    Another rule required a Glimos — Group Leader in Matter of Safety — to visit every day to make sure everything was in order. Roberto Corrieri was doing the job, then announced that he would follow governmental instructions and stay home in Assergi; then he changed his mind and stayed. The only other person who could have done the safety inspection had left to join his family in Naples.

    “I did not want to push the boundary if he felt he wanted to stay home,” Dr. Aprile said of her conversations with Mr. Corrieri. “Luckily he is a good guy and realized that doing it was important for many people, so he agreed to do it.”

    She added, “I fear, what happens if the team gets infected or gets hurt. The lab gets the blame.”

    That left enough people in the lab to continue working. “I had to do a lot of encouraging,” Dr. Aprile said. It helped that they knew each other, and that there were no strangers on the team […]

    On March 20, Dr. Aprile received a photo by email of a pair of her scientists, Masatoshi Kobayashi and Danilo Tatananni. They were garbed much like E.R. doctors, in “bunny suits” and masks, which are standard apparel for the clean rooms where sensitive scientific gadgets are assembled. The men were standing in front of her detector, which they had just closed up.

    “We did it,” the email said.

    The physicists will now spend two weeks pumping air from the vat, down to a vacuum, at which point it can be monitored remotely. The task of filling the vat with liquid xenon must wait.

    “We cannot test drive our new car,” Dr. Aprile said. She was happy and relieved to no longer have to reluctantly urge her colleagues to enter a field of danger.

    “They feel like heroes,” she said. “Was it worth it? I’m wondering myself.”

  215. says

    Corononavirus update for the USA:

    In the U.S., the virus has now killed 12,849 people as of 2:50 am ET Wednesday, according to NBC News’ tally, while the number of confirmed cases is nearing 400,000.

    Legislative news:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called Wednesday for hundreds of billions of dollars for hospitals, state and local governments and food stamp recipients in response to the Trump administration’s urgent request for $250 billion more for small businesses. […]

    The House could pass a small-business aid package as early as Friday and a broader coronavirus relief package as soon as late April, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told CQ Roll Call in an interview Tuesday.

    National Rifle Association news:

    The National Rifle Association has laid off more than 60 employees in recent weeks, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The move comes as the gun rights group faces acute financial challenges during the economic crunch caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The association recently took a large financial hit when the pandemic forced the NRA to cancel its massive annual meeting.

  216. says

    G liveblog:

    Concerns about a potential outbreak in Yemen, where no cases have been reported so far, are partly behind a decision to call a halt to the military action there that has left tens of thousands died and spread hunger and disease, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki has said.

    The coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has said it will call a nationwide ceasefire in support of UN efforts to end the five-year war.

    The move aims to facilitate talks sponsored by the UN’s special envoy, Martin Griffiths, for a permanent ceasefire. It will go into effect at midday on Thursday for two weeks and is open to extension, al-Malki has said.

  217. says

    From this morning: “NEW. PM chief adviser Dominic Cummings is still experiencing #coronavirus symptoms after 10 days: ‘He is not working in no 10. He has been in contact with no 10, but not working in no 10 at the moment’, Johnson’s spokesman says.

    No mention of a potential hospitalisation.”

    People have commented on another tweet in that thread mentioning the government’s noting that Johnson is “in good spirits,” noting that this seems like a canned refrain and not useful information. It’s also pretty weird – they announced around the same time 938 confirmed coronavirus deaths. Not exactly a moment for a prime minister to be in “good spirits.”

  218. says

    I don’t understand why people in the media keep talking about whether Trump is going to “open things up” in a desperate bid to get the economy going, or on what date he might do that. The decisions are made by state and local officials. The federal government could add further restrictions on top of those governors, mayors, etc. have put in place, but it can’t subtract them.

  219. says

    Media Matters – “Bill O’Reilly: ‘Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway'”:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I want life back to normal, can you fix that in a simple way?

    BILL O’REILLY: Oh man I wish I could, you know?

    HANNITY: Oh, me too.

    O’REILLY: But we’re making little steps. Bernie Sanders, you know, he’s — he’s gone, that’s really good for everybody. The projections that you just mentioned are down to 60,000, I don’t think it will be that high. 13,000 dead now in the USA. Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway, and I don’t want to sound callous about that.

    HANNITY: You’re gonna get — hold on, you’re going to get hammered for that.

    O’REILLY: Well, I don’t care. I mean, a simple man tells the truth.

    Audio at the link. It goes on. He talks about how people who’ve died were “damaged” in other ways and blames the deaths in Europe on socialized medicine.

  220. says

    Politico – “Bipartisan group of senators demands Trump explain intel IG firing”:

    A bipartisan group of senators is demanding that President Donald Trump explain why he fired the intelligence community’s top watchdog, writing in a letter late Wednesday that the president’s stated reasoning was “not sufficient.”

    The letter, signed by eight senators from both parties, represents Congress’ clearest denunciation yet of Trump’s decision to sack Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general.

    “Congressional intent is clear that an expression of lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the statute,” the lawmakers, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), wrote in the letter to Trump.

    The senators cited a 2008 law mandating that the president provide Congress with a detailed explanation of his decision to fire Atkinson, who defied Trump last year when he turned over to lawmakers a whistleblower complaint that led to the president’s impeachment.

    Last weekend, Trump defended the firing of Atkinson, calling him a “total disgrace” over his handling of the whistleblower complaint, which detailed Trump’s conversations with Ukraine’s president. Atkinson was required by law to transmit the complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees.

    In his letter informing lawmakers of Atkinson’s termination, Trump said only that he had lost confidence in Atkinson. That wasn’t enough for the senators.

    “As supporters of the Inspector General community, and as advocates for government transparency and accountability, it is our responsibility to confirm that there are clear, substantial reasons for removal,” the senators wrote, asking for an explanation no later than April 13 and citing a 2008 Senate report about ensuring that watchdogs “are not removed for political reasons.”

    The lawmakers also accused Trump of going around Congress when he placed Atkinson on administrative leave when he fired him, effectively sidestepping the mandatory 30-day notice to the congressional intelligence panels.

    “By placing the IG on 30 days of administrative leave and naming an acting replacement, the administration has already effectively removed that IG and appears to have circumvented Congress’s role in this process,” the senators wrote.

    They added that the purpose of the 30-day requirement was “to provide an opportunity for an appropriate dialogue with Congress in the event that the planned transfer or removal is viewed as an inappropriate or politically motivated attempt to terminate an effective inspector general.”

    In their Wednesday letter, the senators said inspectors general should “only be removed when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing or failure to perform the duties of the office, and not for reasons unrelated to their performance, to help preserve IG independence.”

    In addition to Grassley, two Republicans signed the Wednesday letter: Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, who both criticized Trump’s posture toward Ukraine. Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict the president in his impeachment trial.

    The Democratic signers were Gary Peters of Michigan, Mark Warner of Virginia, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Dianne Feinstein of California and Jon Tester of Montana.

  221. says

    “AG Bill Barr, on Fox News, refers to current restrictions as ‘draconian measures’ and says at end of April, he thinks we should ‘allow people to adapt more than we have, & not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed’.”

    Rachel Maddow: “More than 14-thousand Americans have already died. One American died every 45 seconds today. But sure, Mr. Attorney General, go on.”

  222. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The UK government has given an update on the condition of the prime minister, Boris Johnson, who last night spent his third night in intensive care after falling ill with Covid-19, Rowena Mason reports.

    The prime minister’s spokesman said Johnson continues to receive standard oxygen treatment, adding

    Boris Johnson has a good night and continues to improve in intensive care at St Thomas’s hospital. He is in good spirits.

  223. says

    6.61 million unemployment claims were filed last week in the US, so more than 16 million in just the past three weeks. And many people have been unable to file due to systems that were either set up to make it difficult or just overwhelmed by the numbers or both. There were pictures yesterday of people standing together in long lines in Florida trying to file in person.

  224. says

    Raw Story – “Taxpayers spent $243,000 on disgraced ex-Navy Secretary’s trip where he insulted relieved captain: report”:

    On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that prior to resigning, disgraced Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s trip to Guam for the speech that upended his career cost the taxpayer $243,000.

    “For taxpayers, the cost of the flight alone was at least $243,151.65, according to a Navy estimate,” reported Dan Lamothe. “The figure was based on 35 hours of flight time to and from Guam, with refueling in Hawaii. Modly traveled on a C-37B at a cost of about $6,946.19 per hour, according to the estimate, which was obtained by The Washington Post. The jet is a military version of the Gulfstream G550.”…

  225. says

    Gene Baur in The Hill – “We have no one to blame for the coronavirus but ourselves”:

    …As tragic as this pandemic is, perhaps it will serve as a wake-up call.

    Humans have exploited and obliterated natural ecosystems all over the world, replacing biodiversity and balance with extractive industries like factory farming and the live animal trade. Animals caught up in the destruction of these systems are forced from their natural habitats and with them comes the unleashing of viruses potentially deadly to humans.

    By upsetting nature’s balance [don’t care for this phrase – SC] we are contributing to “zoonotic spillover,” which is the transmission of a pathogen from a vertebrate animal to a human (and a term that everyone should get familiar with, fast). This devastating transfer of viruses between species is the genesis of COVID-19. By some accounts there are tens of thousands of viruses that could potentially crossover, representing a global health threat that is poorly understood. These new unknown genetic strains are very difficult to combat and their impacts could be lethal. With the destruction of natural habitats for animal agriculture, these emerging pathogens that were once found deep in nature are more readily able to jump the species barrier between wild animals and humans.

    Our actions have consequences, and when we abuse the environment and other animals, we undermine our own wellbeing. We have acted recklessly and rationalized gross misconduct, despite warnings from experts concerned about planetary health. We need to acknowledge and learn from mistakes, and then make adjustments.

    Right now, we need to focus on immediate threats from COVID-19. We must respond by following social distancing measures and washing hands, while also doing what we can to protect those most vulnerable, health care workers and others on the front lines.

    Ultimately, however, personal and planetary health and resilience can be best served by learning to live more kindly. Three out of every four new infectious diseases that sicken people come from animals, and these commonly emerge when we abuse other animals. We need to reshape our relationships to be more respectful and empathetic.

    Our fate is inextricably linked to the health and resilience of the earth and our fellow earthlings, and when these are harmed and made to suffer, so are we. The good news is that just as the disease of cruelty can be contagious and spread, so too can compassion.

    Baur is the co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary. Here’s their sheep livecam, which is wonderful.

  226. says

    Ashish “I’m still focused on testing” Jha:

    2 weeks ago, we tested about 100,000 people in a day.

    Today, we tested 135,00.

    That is a measly 35% increase. In 2 weeks!

    During that time, # of cases has increased nearly 500%

    # of daily new cases has increased 82%

    And the % positive has gone from 17% [to] 23%

    We have fallen behind in the last two weeks.

    Instead of ramping up vigorously and getting ahead of the virus, testing is falling behind.

    Social distancing is good. It is helpful. It is helping. But…

    But I’d argue our lousy testing capacity is making social distancing less effective.

    Because we can’t identify and quarantine all those who are infected, they continue to spread disease…just less bc of social distancing.

    And with this kind of testing capacity…

    Without a lot greater testing capacity, there is no way we can safely open up again.

    Don’t take my word for it — read this excellent @aaronecarroll piece (@BarackObama did and he loved it)…

    [NYT link atl]

    So I know tweets about testing are getting boring.

    But testing is the linchpin for getting our lives back.

    No, testing alone won’t be enough. But it is essential.

    I wrote about it @Forbes today….

    [Forbes link atl]

    The barriers are plenty — not enough swabs, reagents, PPEs, infrastructure, etc.

    But each is surmountable.

    Some states are doing it. More need to.

    Congress should put real $ towards incentives for testing in next stimulus.

    This is how we’ll get our lives back.

  227. says

    SC @315, in his press briefing today, Cuomo also made the point that testing is essential if we want to get our lives back. I cannot understand why testing is not a nationwide imperative, organized and paid for by the federal government.

  228. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Africa’s top health official has issued a warning to wealthy countries hoarding medical equipment that if the coronavirus is left to spread in Africa the whole world remains at risk.

    “We cannot be neglected in this effort,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

    “The world will be terribly unsafe, and it will be completely naive, if countries think they can control Covid-19 in their countries but not in Africa.”

    African nations are being forced to compete with wealthier countries for testing kits, as well as ventilators for patients having difficulty breathing and protective equipment for frontline health workers.

    Nkengasong warned that the very future of the continent will depend on how this matter is handled as cases, now over 11,000, quickly rise. “We may not actually know how big is the size of the problem without scaling up testing,” Nkengasong was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

    A hospital consultant who publicly pleaded the UK prime minister for more personal protective equipment for frontline staff in British hospitals has died from the coronavirus, Matthew Weaver reports.

    Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a consultant urologist at Homerton hospital in Hackney east London, died after spending 15 days in Queens hospital, Romford.

    Last month he wrote a Facebook message to Boris Johnson outlining the urgent need for PPE for frontline staff and calling for testing for healthcare workers to be fast-tracked.

    He wrote: “Dear and respectable prime minister Mr Boris Johnson, Please ensure urgently PPE for each and every NHS health worker.”

    New York broke its record for the largest single-day coronavirus death toll for the third consecutive day, the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo announced at his daily briefing.

    New York recorded 799 deaths from coronavirus yesterday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 7,067. New York has lost about the same number of people to coronavirus as the UK.

    Cuomo said the state would be bringing in additional funeral directors to help deal with the surge of deaths.

    As the state mourns the loss of several thousand New Yorkers, there are also signs that social distancing is flattening the curve.

    Yesterday, the state recorded the lowest number of new hospitalisations since the crisis started. The number of ICU admissions and intubations are also down.

    “We are saving lives by what we are doing today,” Cuomo said.

  229. says

    Lynna @ #318, and meanwhile Kushner’s off on some evil tech lark that will never accomplish anything other than possibly fat contracts for their cronies and donors, and the WH is talking about “unveiling” a new, separate task force focused on the economy and including Mark Meadows, CEOs, and the like. All while Trump lies to the public about the quality and availability of tests and hawks unproven cures.

    They’re actively sabotaging efforts to save lives.

  230. says

    SC @316, I know it is not possible, but I wish that Seth Meyers video could be played on Fox News every hour.

    Thanks for the link. That video was both funny and accurate.

  231. says

    Yay, Steve Benen wrote a book. This should be good. It will be available June 16, 2000, and it can be preordered now.

    […].It’s called The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics […]

    The idea behind the book is that many Americans have traditionally believed the nation has two governing parties, their philosophical differences notwithstanding. My argument is that over the last decade, the Republican Party has made it clear that it’s time to reevaluate those assumptions.

    The current iteration of the GOP is indifferent to the substance of governing, becoming what I call a “post-policy party […]

  232. says

    Trump utterly failed when he tried to discredit voting by mail.

    At a White House press briefing this week, Donald Trump denounced mail-in balloting as “horrible” and “corrupt.” It led a reporter to remind the president of an inconvenient detail: he voted by mail in the election cycle. Offered a chance to reconcile the contradiction, it didn’t go well.

    “Sure, I can vote by mail,” Trump declared. “Because I’m allowed to.”

    Unfortunately, this did not end the debate, and at yesterday’s briefing, [Trump] renewed his offensive against the very idea of allowing Americans to cast ballots through the mail — despite the fact that five states already conduct elections by mail without incident. Asked for evidence to substantiate his “fraud” claims, Trump told reporters, “I think there’s a lot of evidence, but we’ll provide you with some, okay? And there’s evidence that’s being compiled just like it’s being compiled in the state of California, where they settled with Judicial Watch, saying that a million people should not have been voting.”

    The president’s claims about the California case have already been thoroughly discredited.

    But he couldn’t let the subject go. Literally just a couple of minutes after the White House briefing wrapped up, Trump turned to Twitter to keep the campaign against mail-in balloting going:

    “Absentee Ballots are a great way to vote for the many senior citizens, military, and others who can’t get to the polls on Election Day. These ballots are very different from 100% Mail-In Voting, which is ‘RIPE for FRAUD,’ and shouldn’t be allowed!”

    Putting aside the simple fact that Trump’s “fraud” allegations are clearly baseless, note the difficulty Trump is having coming up with a coherent principle. By the president’s own telling, when some Americans — including people he’s inclined to like — vote by mail, it’s “great,” but when other Americans do the exact same thing, it’s “corrupt.”

    Why? Because he says so. It seems ridiculous because it is.

    That said, to assume that Trump’s arguments are being presented in good faith is a mistake — in part because he’s been lying about voting irregularities for years, and in part because the president has already given away the game.

    Responding to something he apparently saw on Fox News, Trump tweeted yesterday morning that his party “should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting” at least in part because it “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

    And for the president and many in his party, that effectively ends the conversation. Even during a pandemic, as the CDC touts the benefits of voting by mail, Trump and his allies believe mail-in balloting “doesn’t work out well for Republicans,” and as such, the idea is a non-starter.

    He’s not even being subtle about the partisan, self-interested motivation behind the White House’s position.

    Link

  233. says

    I cringe every time Trump claims that a project is “way ahead of schedule.” That’s a tell. He’s lying.

    […] Trump brought up the Paycheck Protection Program, a small-business aid initiative in the CARES Act, and boasted about it in a specific way. “We’re way ahead of schedule, by the way,” [Trump] said. “We’re way ahead of schedule. The Paycheck Protection Program has been incredible.”

    To be sure, there’s a lot to like about the Paycheck Protection Program, but “the schedule” called for the initiative to kick into gear last week. As the Associated Press reported yesterday, in reality, “There have been substantial delays, with few loans issued.”

    The $349 billion emergency lending program just began operating Friday, but the rollout has been plagued by a host of problems. Small-business owners have complained that they are unable to get through to the Small Business Administration or the banks to apply for loans or that they are being rejected by banks that say they are accepting applications only from businesses that are already customers of the bank. Two of the nation’s largest banks, JPMorgan Chase and Citibank, weren’t initially set up to take applications. The SBA’s loan processing system then stopped working early in the week, making it impossible for loans to be approved and money distributed, while confusion spread about the documents that lenders needed from customers to complete loan transactions.

    Maybe the president is unaware of these highly relevant details. Maybe he knows about the problems plaguing implementation, but he’s hoping the public won’t know the difference.

    Either way, when Trump says something is “ahead of schedule,” it’s a bit like when he tells stories about big, unnamed crying men, calling him “sir”: it’s best not to believe him. […]

    In January, for example, the president commented on a military aid package to Ukraine — the one he blocked as part of an illegal extortion scheme — and told reporters, “[I]t got there two or three weeks ahead of schedule.” He echoed the point soon after, adding, in reference to officials in Kyiv, “They got their money long before schedule.” That wasn’t true.

    It was part of a larger pattern. Roughly a year into his term, Trump spoke at a religious right gathering where he boasted, “I didn’t have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.”

    […] Before adding an inch of border barriers, for example, Trump told supporters, “We’re building the wall…. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule. Way, way, way ahead of schedule.”

    The president added that his plans to overhaul veterans’ care were “ahead of schedule.” He insisted that his proposed changes to U.S. education policy were “ahead of schedule.” Before the Republican tax plan even existed, Trump assured the public that his plan was “actually ahead of schedule.”

    None of these claims were true, but they seemed to make him feel better.

    Link

    So Trump is massaging himself, making himself feel better by falsely claiming that his plan is “ahead of schedule.” How is that helpful to anyone but Trump?

  234. says

    CNN – “Pence’s office blocks public health officials from appearing on CNN”:

    Vice President Mike Pence’s office has declined to allow the nation’s top health officials to appear on CNN in recent days and discuss the coronavirus pandemic killing thousands of Americans, in an attempt to pressure the network into carrying the White House’s lengthy daily briefings in full.

    Pence’s office, which is responsible for booking the officials on networks during the pandemic, said it will only allow experts such as Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci to appear on CNN if the network televises the portion of the White House briefings that includes the vice president and other coronavirus task force members.

    CNN often only broadcasts President Donald Trump’s question and answer session, which sometimes includes the health care officials, live on-air.

    After Trump leaves the podium, CNN frequently cuts out of the White House briefing to discuss and fact-check what the President had said. A CNN executive said that the network usually returns to such programming because of the extensive length of the full briefing that includes Pence, which can run in excess of two hours.

    CNN did, however, air the vice president’s portion of the briefing Wednesday night.

    Regardless, Pence’s office has declined to make the nation’s top health care officials available to CNN for the last seven days.

    “When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air,” a Pence spokesperson told CNN.

    Fauci, Birx, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have all appeared on NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox during the last week, despite the fact that the broadcast networks have generally not covered the briefings that have included the vice president and health officials.

    But the Vice President’s office has blocked all CNN appearances since last Thursday night….

    The US public pays for that building, the salaries of those experts, the budgets of their agencies, Pence’s salary, Pence’s spokesperson’s salary, and the medical supplies and tests we’re not getting. They don’t fucking belong to Trump or Pence to withhold from us.

  235. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 310.

    With pandemic commentary, AG Barr strays far outside his lane.

    “For Barr to tell a national audience about his expectations for public-health guidelines and untested medical treatments is, to put it mildly, problematic.”

    Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to NBC News this morning, making the case that the total number of coronavirus fatalities may be as low as 60,000, thanks to ongoing mitigation efforts such as physical distancing. “Having said that,” the NIH specialist added, “we better be careful that we don’t say, ‘OK, we’re doing so well we could pull back.'”

    I don’t think William Barr paid enough attention to what Fauci said.

    Attorney General William P. Barr said Wednesday that some of the government-imposed lockdown measures meant to control the spread of covid-19 were “draconian” and suggested that they should be eased next month.

    As the Washington Post report on this added, [Barr] told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that the government has the power to restrict interactions during a pandemic, but he wants federal officials to be “very careful to make sure that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified.”

    Barr added, “When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have, and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed.” Pointing to the upcoming expiration of the White House’s social distancing guidance, he went to say, “I think we have to consider alternative ways of protecting people.”

    By the end of April?! Current modeling that assumes “only” (only!) 60,000 deaths assumes that social distancing is in effect through the end of May!

    On average, an American died from COVID-19 yesterday every 45 seconds, but the attorney general apparently wants people to be allowed to “adapt.” I don’t know what that means.

    Barr also raised concerns on state-level restrictions on religious gatherings, made necessary to prevent the virus from spreading within congregations. “A free society depends on a vibrant religious life by the people,” he said. “So any time that’s encroached upon by the government, I’m very, very concerned.” […]
    What’s more, Barr took aim at journalists, with a specific focus on news organizations reminding the public that when Donald Trump touts hydroxychloroquine, he’s pushing a medication that hasn’t been proven to be an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

    “As soon as [the president] said something positive about it, the media’s been on a jihad to discredit the drug,” Barr said.

    I spent a little time this morning reviewing the attorney general’s background, and as best as I can tell, he has literally no background in epidemiology or public-health, though he seemed eager to present himself as an authoritative voice during his latest conservative-media appearance. Indeed, Barr even felt compelled to weigh in on the amateur president’s medicinal advice.

    It’s more than a little bizarre to see so many prominent figures from Team Trump operating far outside their lanes. If the attorney general wanted to use his office to crack down on price gouging and fraud during the pandemic — steps that the Justice Department is, to its credit, already taking — that would make perfect sense. […]

    Link

    Barr thinks fact-checking Trump is a “jihad” on the part of the media.

  236. says

    From Josh Marshall: “PPE and Ventilators Becomes Patronage in Trump’s Hands”

    As we work to find out the scope and goals of the White House’s seizure of medical goods across the United States, a simpler pattern is coming into view: the White House seizes goods from public officials and hospitals across the country while doling them out as favors to political allies and favorites, often to great fanfare to boost the popularity of those allies.

    […] Last week, as we reported, a shipment of 500 ventilators to the state of Colorado was intercepted and rerouted by the federal government. Gov. Jared Polis (D) sent a letter pleading for the return of the equipment. Then yesterday […] Trump went on Twitter to announce that he was awarding 100 ventilators to Colorado at the behest of Republican Senator Cory Gardner, one of the most endangered Republicans on the ballot this year. As the Post put it, “[…] Trump is treating life-saving medical equipment as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It’s the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives.” […]

    “Will be immediately sending 100 Ventilators to Colorado at the request of Senator Gardner! [Trump tweeted]

    Were these a subset of the same [500] ventilators? Like money, amidst the COVID-19 Crisis, all ventilators are fungible. It’s hard to know whether Trump even knew in this case that his pandemic task force had swiped away five times as many ventilators just days before. Indeed, we still don’t whether this is all a central part of the White House’s crisis strategy – grabbing supplies from blue states to hand out to endangered Republicans or red state allies – or simply a layering of corruption over the general chaos.

    New examples of confiscations or rerouted orders crop up almost every day. Here’s one about a shipment of test kit materials bound for the PeaceHealth hospital system in the Pacific Northwest seized and shipped, purportedly, to the East Coast. The supplies would allow hospitals like Bellingham, Washington’s St Joseph’s Hospital to do tests on premises and more quickly ascertain who is COVID-positive and who’s not. “Our analyzers remain idle, while we continue to send specimens to outside laboratory testing sites, prioritizing labs based on the shortest turnaround times,” a spokesman for the hospital system told The Bellingham Herald.

    For all the confusion, what is clear is that the federal government is demanding that states, localities and hospital systems find their own supplies while systematically interdicting those they do purchase and rerouting them in other directions while providing no explanation of what standards are being used to distribute them. At the same time, Republican officeholders keep turning up announcing windfalls of medical supplies courtesy of the President. In many cases, like Gardner, they’re Republicans within blue or purple states.

    On April 4th, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) appealed to Jared Kushner and former congressional colleague turned White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for an infusion of supplies. (Zeldin represents New York’s 1st district, which covers most of the eastern half of Long Island.)

    “Thank you to Jared Kushner and @MarkMeadows at the White House for your quick response with this tonight! Amazing how fast you are making the wheels turn here. Wow. ” [Lee Zeldin tweeted]

    […] As The Easthampton Star reported on the 6th, “Representative Lee Zeldin has established himself as a liaison between Suffolk County and the White House by speaking directly to Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of and senior adviser to […] Trump, about Suffolk’s needs as one of the country’s Covid-19 hot spots.”

    We still know too little about what is happening and on what basis the White House is intercepting and distributing these scarce materials. One reason is that those who lose their shipments are afraid to speak out because they fear antagonizing the White House and losing any chance to get their masks and supplies returned.

    We need more information, more explanations of what standards the White House is using to distribute these goods. The consistent refusal to explain speaks volumes.

    TPM link

  237. says

    CNN – “Sailor from USS Teddy Roosevelt found unconscious, transferred to intensive care”:

    A sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt who had tested positive for coronavirus was admitted to an intensive care unit in Guam Thursday after being found unresponsive, according to a Navy official.

    The sailor tested positive for coronavirus on March 30 and was found unconscious Thursday, he has been admitted to the intensive care unit of the US Navy Hospital on Guam, the Navy said in a statement Thursday.

    As of Wednesday, 97% of the Theodore Roosevelt’s crew have been tested for the virus and 416 sailors have tested positive, according to the Navy, representing more than 20% of all coronavirus cases within the entire US military.

    “We’ve tested almost the whole crew now. We still have about 1,000 tests to report out. But 3,170 tested negative, 416 tested positive, 187 of those were symptomatic, 229 were asymptomatic. We still have 1,164 pending results,” the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

    “Sadly this morning we had our first hospitalization of the one sailor,” Hyten added, saying that crew members who had been moved ashore and placed in isolation were checked on by military medical personnel twice a day.

    “We’re hoping that that sailor recovers, we are praying for him and his family and his shipmates,” he said.
    Hyten said the US military needed to plan for these type of outbreaks in the future as the Defense Department works to cope with the pandemic’s impacts.

    “I think it’s not a good idea to think the Teddy Roosevelt is a one-of-a-kind issue. We have too many ships at sea, we have too many deployed capabilities. There’s 5,000 sailors on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. To think it will never happen again is not a good way to plan. What we have to do is figure out how to plan in these kind of Covid environments,” Hyten said.

    Nearly a week after Modly fired Crozier, the Navy had only evacuated 2,329 of the aircraft carrier’s nearly 4,800 sailors.

    The Navy initially said that it had intended to move 2,700 sailors ashore by April 3. Officials say the process has been slowed due to testing as the government of Guam is requiring that sailors test negative before they can be moved into hotels on the island.

    Hyten said that the 2,700 target had been reached Thursday, nearly a week behind schedule.

    Oh I see – 97% have been tested but they’re still waiting for 1,164 results.

  238. says

    Trump to launch second pandemic task force, one that does away with irritating medical experts

    Trump’s Mike Pence-led pandemic task force may still be a bungling mess with no clear objectives, still-murky powers, and a continued inability to put together any coherent message that can last longer than it takes Trump to wander back to the podium, but now it’s getting a spin-off. CNN reports that Trump is “preparing to announce” a second coronavirus task force, this one devoted to “reopening the nation’s economy.”

    If you’re wondering whether that’s good news or bad news: This is Team Trump. It’s bad news. Though we’re not yet even at the pandemic’s peak, Team Trump is getting together a team to speed the “reopening” of the economy that would assemble not pandemic experts, but economic officials and advisers. Freed from having to deal with the irritating facts and figures spouted by pandemic experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the new task force would devote themselves to the goal shared by forever-catastrophically wrong Trump advisers like Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro to put everyone back to work and see what happens.

    Other than the major gaping hole in this new “task force”—the seeming lack of any voice who might tell them which of their proposals are medically insane—there are two other reasons to be especially alarmed here.

    The first is that it’s fairly clear that the task force’s mandate is to start reopening things next month, whether that is advisable or not. Trump has signaled, repeatedly, that he believes we are on the home stretch of a pandemic that experts warn will likely be with us for at least another year, and he is bent on declaring victory, then campaigning on the same. By separating out Trump’s economic voices from the medical experts, Team Trump can give those advisers a weight equal to government pandemic voices—with, perhaps, double the daily rally time for Trump.

    Double the daily “press briefing” time for mendacious Trump.

    […] So we can expect the “economic” task force to quickly be promoted alongside—or perhaps to eclipse—the current Pence-led Birx-Fauci group. It will also provide a venue for the Peter Navarros of the White House to promote fraudulent medical cures and similar without having a Fauci alongside to rebut […]

    That brings us to the second major reason for alarm: Trump’s continued devotion to surrounding himself with some of the biggest idiots in America. If anything, the new “task force” seems bent on doubling their ranks. CNN reports that the administration is eyeing nongovernment types such as CEOs and “even major sports teams and well-known athletes” to fill out the group. Floated as the task force’s leader:

    Art Laffer.

    Yes, that Art Laffer. The same. The napkin guy.

    Now, Art Laffer’s prescriptions for “reopening” the economy have been […] what for simplicity we shall call Batshit Insane. A partial Reuters rundown of his recommendations: “Tax non-profits. Cut the pay of public officials and professors.” Laffer is an opponent of stimulus and relief to workers left unemployed by business closures during the pandemic, saying we instead need to “make it more unattractive to be unemployed.”

    Instead, he’s a proponent of a “payroll tax holiday” for those who still have jobs. That and taxing nonprofits. And … cutting professors’ pay, for some reason?

    He wants to cut PZ’s pay?

    To say these are not serious policy prescriptions is an understatement. […]

    So no, none of this looks like good news. As the Trump administration zeros out federal funds for COVID-19 testing, a vital component of actually getting businesses back open and the economy back on track, the Trump Team’s latest reactionary twitch is to start up a new coronavirus task force that leaves out all the irritating medical expertise of the current version and is instead focused on cutting salaries, raising taxes, and putting a knife to the back of unemployed workers, telling them to find new work during the pandemic or else.

    The only way it does not end in disaster is if by some miracle the pandemic does indeed disappear over the next few weeks, as Trump is demanding of it. If not? All hell breaks loose. Yet again.

  239. says

    Reuters – “Cut salaries, taxes to reopen U.S. economy says Laffer, conservative fave”:

    Republican economist Art Laffer, an architect of the Reagan era tax cuts that paved the way for historic budget deficits in the United States, has a plan to rejuvenate today’s pandemic-crippled economy.

    Tax non-profits. Cut the pay of public officials and professors. Give businesses and workers who manage to hold on to their jobs a payroll tax holiday to the end of the year.

    What about the extra aid funneled to newly jobless workers by the $2.3 trillion fiscal rescue package? Such government spending, Laffer told Reuters in an interview, will only serve to deepen the downturn and slow the recovery.

    “If you tax people who work and you pay people who don’t work, you will get less people working,” Laffer said. “If you make it more unattractive to be unemployed, then there’s an incentive to go look for another job faster.”

    Laffer’s unconventional plan isn’t just an academic exercise. First of all, he says he has presented it to his contacts at the White House. They include presidential economic advisor Larry Kudlow, who considers Laffer a mentor.

    Laffer is also being floated in influential right-wing circles as a good candidate to head a proposed new industry task force aimed at re-opening the U.S. economy as soon as possible. “Bring in the minds like Art Laffer,” Sean Hannity, the Fox News host said April 6 of the proposed task force.

    Trump tweeted his support for the new economic task force on April 4, calling it a “good idea.” He hasn’t yet mentioned Laffer, but on Tuesday reiterated his support for a payroll tax cut, saying it would be a “fantastic time” to deliver it.

    Trump awarded Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year….

    Populism!

  240. blf says

    Here in France, France sees first decrease in ICU patients as virus death toll passes 12,000:

    France’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 12,210, with care homes accounting for more than a third of all fatalities, health officials said Thursday, though the number of people in intensive care has fallen slightly for the first time since the start of the outbreak.

    […]

    France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic, with only essential trips allowed that must be justified with a signed piece of paper.

    The lockdown, which was supposed to run until April 15, will be extended beyond that date, the French presidency announced on Wednesday, without saying for how long.

    President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the coronavirus situation in an address to the nation on Monday, the Élysée Palace added.

    Locally, the effort to recruit volunteers to make masks has apparently been very successful with several hundred recruited (see @165). The village council is now delivering, for free, food / essential orders to those who cannot get out.

    (I’m listening to France24 at the moment…) For unknown(?) reasons, Marcon has traveled to Marseilles to talk — apparently in private (or at least with no media present, no idea about advisors / experts) — quack Didier Raoult (see @172).

  241. says

    Aiyiyiyiyi!

    Fox News Is Promoting a Viral Video About How Coronavirus Spreads. Take It With a Grain of Salt.

    Take it with a fuckton of salt. Or better, yet, post correct information that debunks Fox News’ favorite video.

    […] In an hourlong Zoom video call posted to Vimeo, Cornell Weill Medical Center pulmonologist Dr. David Price assures viewers that the coronavirus isn’t nearly as contagious as we’ve been led to believe. The video, which has amassed nearly 5 million views and was touted by Fox News commentator Jesse Watters, includes one particularly empowering tip: You can’t get the coronavirus unless you’ve had sustained, close contact with someone who has been infected.

    While the advice may comfort viewers at a time of uncertainty, the truth is more complicated. We broke down the science behind some of the assertions in the video.

    “The thought at this point is that you actually have to have very long, sustained contact with someone—and I’m talking about over 15 to 30 minutes in an unprotected environment, meaning you’re in very closed room without any type of mask—for you to get it that way.”

    Not exactly. Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant director of infectious disease at Baylor College of Medicine, explained that sustained contact with an infected person may indeed increase a person’s likelihood of contracting the virus. “That’s why we talk about physical distancing, because the closer you are in contact with somebody in terms of your physical distance—and for a longer period of time, where you’ll be exposed to more of those particles—the more likely you will contract the virus.” But the idea of setting a time limit of 15 or 30 minutes isn’t based on science. It’s entirely possible for someone to become infected within a much shorter timeframe.

    “The overwhelming majority of people are getting this by physically touching someone who has this disease or will develop it in the next one to two days and then touching their face.”

    Actually, we’re not sure how exactly the majority of people are contracting coronavirus—that would be almost impossible to prove. “Those risks are really difficult to quantify,” said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. “The droplet transmission depends on so many different variables.”

    “We know that if you keep your hands clean, that you’re not gonna get this.”

    Dr. Joshua Petrie, a research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, points out this claim is “somewhat in contradiction to the earlier [point] that you have to have direct contact with people.” He adds, “Hand washing is also important, but social distancing is definitely the most important thing to be doing.” […]

    “When you know that the only way you’re gonna get this disease is if your hands are dirty, and that if you touch your face, and that if you are way too close to that person, that becomes incredibly liberating. All of a sudden, the person at the store is not your enemy. They’re someone who’s going through this with you.”

    It’s a little more complicated than that. Petrie describes essential activities like going to the grocery store or pharmacy, when done cautiously and infrequently, as “relatively low risk.” […]

    “Any time that you’re going to be in crowds and public spaces, there’s always going to be a risk of viral transmission between people,” Weatherhead says. “When you’re doing those activities, you still need to have stringent protocols that you’re following. When you go in, you’re washing your hands. You’re trying to keep distance between people while you’re there.”

    Of course, your risk depends on how long you spend at the store, and how many people you interact with there. Since the video was made, several grocery store workers across the country have died of COVID-19 and many more have been infected, the Washington Post reports. […]

  242. says

    A slew of hotels are heeding cities’ pleas for help. Trump’s aren’t.

    Local and state officials are asking hotels to volunteer to house patients or first responders, but Trump’s businesses have yet to step up.

    New York City needs more space — additional field hospitals, rooms for medical workers, shelters for the homeless. But President Donald Trump’s flagship property remains open and isn’t among the 20-plus hotels that have offered up empty rooms.

    It’s a situation playing out across the country. In the seven American cities with Trump luxury hotels, no local officials said the Trump properties were in discussions to house overflow patients or medical personnel.

    In three cities — New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — the president’s properties are still open, even though they have few guests, according to hotel, union and city officials and industry representatives. In four other cities — Las Vegas, Miami, Honolulu and Charlottesville, Va. — Trump’s properties are closed. […]

    At the White House podium, Trump has repeatedly praised private businesses for their assistance in helping the federal government fight coronavirus — talking up projects to help people get tested, efforts to overhaul assembly lines to make much-needed medical supplies and projects to feed children who are home from school.

    The White House’s official Twitter account has even praised hotels for housing medical workers during the pandemic. “Thank you to hotels around the country for providing healthcare workers and first responders a place to stay while they’re on the front lines of the pandemic,” the post read. […]

  243. says

    Follow-up to blf @336.

    Macron meets with controversial chloroquine doctor touted by Trump.

    French President Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly flew to Marseille Thursday afternoon to meet with professor Didier Raoult, who has been pushing for a controversial chloroquine-based treatment for coronavirus.

    Raoult has been touting the use of an antimalarial drug as a treatment for COVID-19, challenging health authorities who have been much more cautious about the use of chloroquine and its compounds as clinical trials have not proven its effectiveness.

    Patients have lined up outside the hospital where he works in Marseille hoping to access his treatment, even though Raoult’s initial results were based on a small sample of patients and not up to scientific standards for published studies — drawing criticism from the medical community.

    Raoult shared with Macron his latest results, based on a larger sample of patients, according to an Elysee official.

    “A visit doesn’t legitimize a scientific protocol, a visit marks interest by the head of state, for the executive, for clinical trials, whether they are promising or not,” the official said. […]

    Link

  244. says

    Postmaster General warns that Postal Service will run out of money by end of fiscal year without aid

    Postmaster General Megan Brennan told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the U.S. Postal Service would run out of money by the end of the fiscal year unless it received financial assistance from the federal government.

    Brennan noted the Postal Service expects to lose $13 billion from the COVID-19 pandemic and an additional $54.3 billion in additional losses over the next decade.

    There are over 31,600 Post Offices around the country and more than 650,000 employees. The mailing industry generates almost $2 trillion a year.

    During the meeting, Democratic House Oversight Committee members also made the case for federal funding for the service.

    “The Postal Service is holding on for dear life, and unless Congress and the White House provide meaningful relief in the next stimulus bill, the Postal Service could cease to exist,” Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

    “Every day, the dedicated employees of the Postal Service are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure all Americans receive their mail and packages, as well as critical medical supplies that are being shipped across the country,” Committee Member Brenda L. Lawrence (D-Mich.) said.

    “During a Census and election year, it is imperative that we have a fully functional Postal Service to ensure Americans across the country can participate in our democracy,” she added.

    In the meeting, Brennan requested that the Treasury give the Postal Service $25 billion in “unrestricted borrowing authority.” […]

    What about all of those payments associated with the CARES bill that was recently passed? Some of those payments will be made via snail mail.

  245. says

    Biden releases plans to expand Medicare, forgive student debt

    […] Biden announced Thursday he would lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60 and forgive federal student debt for low-income and middle-class people who attended public colleges and universities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), and underfunded minority-serving institution (MSI). […]

    “I believe that as we are being plunged into what is likely to be one of the most volatile and difficult economic times in this country’s recent history, we can take these critical steps to help make it easier for working people to make ends meet,” Biden wrote. “Senator Sanders and his supporters can take pride in their work in laying the groundwork for these ideas, and I’m proud to adopt them as part of my campaign at this critical moment in responding to the coronavirus crisis.”

    Under Biden’s plan, Americans would have the option of opting into Medicare when they are 60 or stick with the plans provided by their employers. The proposal is intended to complement Biden’s overall health care plan to provide a public option to any American who wants it while expanding the Affordable Care Act.

    Biden’s student debt plan calls for forgiving all federal undergraduate student loans from two- and four-year public colleges and universities and any private HBCUs or MSIs for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. The plan builds on Biden’s existing student loan plan to cancel $10,000 of student debt per person, forgive federal student loans after 20 years and more.

    A Biden administration would pay for the student debt plan by repealing the “excess business losses” tax cut in the recently passed $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. […]

  246. says

    An excerpt from the link provided by SC in comment 340:

    As my colleague Dr. John Gartner pointed out, if Trump were walking around wearing a tinfoil hat and talking about Martians controlling his mind, it would be easy for the public to recognize how severely ill he is. Trump is the most dangerous person we could have as a president precisely because his delusional core is not as obvious. When he makes these claims about ventilators and the coronavirus, they need to be understood as delusional beliefs that he summons from his imagination to protect himself, and which he is incapable of altering when presented with reality.

    The entire article is worth reading.

  247. says

    Trump’s priorities remain the same:

    The Wall Street Journal always “forgets” to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are “through the roof” (Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale, according to @nytimes) & is only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across. WSJ is Fake News!

    Commentary:

    […] In an opinion piece published Wednesday night titled “Trump’s Wasted Briefings,” the Journal’s editorial board bemoaned that the daily press conferences ostensibly intended to focus on the latest news surrounding the coronavirus had become “more about the many feuds of Donald J. Trump.”

    The editorial board wrote that Trump’s frequent attacks on the press, governors and his critics during the briefing were “off-key” given the severity of the pandemic, which has killed thousands of people in the U.S.

    The board urged Trump to cede center stage at the briefings to Vice President Pence and top health officials, who have regularly appeared at the briefings but have primarily waited to provide updates until the president delivers his own remarks.

    Trump’s tweet Thursday — which marked a rare shot from the president at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal — highlighted the president’s fixation on how his briefings are playing in the media. He frequently boasts about their popularity, and White House officials have complained about networks that do not air them in their entirety.

    The president has typically opened the briefings with a prepared statement before taking questions from reporters. That format has led to sparring with journalists, criticism of likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden and a question on Wednesday about the Netflix series “Tiger King.” […]

    Link

  248. says

    Update on airline travel:

    Airline travel has dropped 96 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported Thursday, citing multiple metrics.

    Only about one in 10 seats on U.S. domestic planes are occupied, the outlet reported citing Airlines for America, an industry group that represents airlines including American, Delta, Southwest and United.

    On the limited number of international flights operating, only one in five seats are occupied, the group said. […]

    Link

  249. says

    From Wonkette:

    The White House and Republicans in the Senate are playing politics again with coronavirus relief, mostly so they can accuse Democrats of playing politics and “holding working Americans as political hostages,” as Mitch McConnell put it earlier today.

    You see, the $350 billion portion of the recent relief bill that’s supposed to go to aiding small businesses affected by the economic shutdown is already starting to run dry, so Republicans want to pass a quick addition of $250 billion that would go to provide more loans through the “Paycheck Protection Program” run through the Small Business Administration. But Democrats point out that it’s not just small businesses (and also churches, haha, what fun!) that need additional infusions of cash, so while Dems don’t oppose the extra PPP funds, they also want a new package of $250 billion in aid for hospitals, state and local government, and food assistance to needy families.

    McConnell forced votes on both proposals in a pro-forma session of the Senate this morning, and, as expected, Democrats blocked the small business-only version, while Republicans said no to the expanded funding measure put forward by Democrats, and then McConnell got to blame Democrats for not being helpful during a crisis. That disingenuous fuckhead. […]

    The really stupid thing is that McConnell had already acknowledged that the Democratic priorities are worthwhile, but just not right now, you see, and also this way he can accuse anyone saying the bill should fund anything beyond PPP of being a terrible obstructionist […]

    And why can’t it possibly pass this week? Because McConnell doesn’t want it to, and because he says the funds for the PPP program are already running short, while the earlier stimulus bill’s funding for hospitals and state and local government “are still coming online and have not yet been exhausted.”

    Well gosh, we’d better wait until the needle is closer to E before we get gas.

    Since the House and Senate are both in recess, any deal would have to pass in both chambers by unanimous consent, […]

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear that no matter what McConnell pulls in the Senate, the House won’t rush through the small business funding without making sure those additional priorities are also met. […] Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday they’d be happy to boost the funding for small business loans, but in a shockingly partisan demand that the bill help more people, they want Republicans to accept some Democratic priorities too:

    $150 billion for state and local governments’ pandemic response, as well as for an increase in the amount of food aid families can claim during the state of emergency.

    $100 billion for hospitals and health centers, which still don’t have adequate supplies of medical equipment or testing capacity.

    A guarantee that half of the funding for the small business loans would be directed to community-based financial institutions that primarily serve businesses owned by women and minorities. […]
    […] get everything funded, you weasels.

  250. says

    From Dahlia Lithwick, writing for Slate: “We’re Now Living the American Carnage Trump Promised Would End at His Inauguration”

    Trump is not responsible for the virus itself, but he must be held accountable for his horrifying response to it.

    […] In a 16-minute inaugural address […] Trump gave a speech about the “American carnage” that was hollowing out the country. In some respects, the carnage he described that day was real: “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge.

    But in many ways, he was depicting a dark hellscape of an America that was not really congruent with reality. Nor did it seem to bother itself much with the notion of constitutional checks, or with the basic promise of equality, justice, or oversight, or the rule of law. Instead, it was a populist promise to invisible Americans: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Trump said. “We are one nation—and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success.” No more would Washington insiders abandon the inner cities to fester in “crime and gangs and drugs.” America would be returned, finally, to “the people.”

    For those of us who didn’t quite recognize the shattered ruins of a once-great country that the president described at the time, it’s now arrived on our doorsteps.

    Even without the juddering trauma of a coronavirus that has closed streets and schools, and asphyxiated the economy, and killed thousands, the world he painted then ended up becoming our world now, but with his response to this crisis, it’s grown ever worse.

    […] Today we watch as his son-in-law’s attempts to help himself and others profit off the coronavirus, as the federal government strangles states’ efforts to purchase protective equipment. We watch, horrified, as the president fires the inspector general hired to oversee the $2 trillion stimulus package; we watch as our taxes pay for his golf junkets; we watch as his businesses profit from pay-to-play lobbyists and elected officials; and as his cronies profiteer from an immigration policy that stuffs money into the pockets of private prisons.

    […] as the United States has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, its citizens wait for tests, for hospital beds, and for relief. Jared Kushner insists that stockpiled emergency equipment that should go to front-line workers in fact belongs to the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been hollowed out by Kushner’s disaster hobbyist cronies,

    […] and the federal government is backing out of its testing support by week’s end. […]

    Meanwhile, Trump’s administration is muzzling health officials and distorting public information, such that the American people are left in the dark in the middle of the most devastating public health disaster we’ve seen in a century. The invisible people are no longer merely invisible. Now they are invisible and dying. […]

    this government is not controlled by the people; it is controlled by a single, seemingly drunk and increasingly deranged party that is hellbent on cashing in on this pandemic, using it to harm women and the poor, and decimating the right to vote.

    The party that controls the government is using the excuse of the pandemic to cram judges onto the courts and build a metaphoric wall between the United States and Mexico. Having used his inaugural address to insist that there were no parties, only people, the president has gone on to vilify his own military, his own intelligence apparatus, and his own Justice Department. He spends his daily briefings trashing Democrats and everyone who votes for Democrats. There is only one party left, in his universe, and it’s the party of him. […]

    Link

  251. consciousness razor says

    Under Biden’s plan, Americans would have the option of opting into Medicare when they are 60 or stick with the plans provided by their employers.

    The slogan is “Medicare, for those who want it, if they’re baby boomers” now? It doesn’t seem like he should be aching for even more support from that particular group.

    Biden’s student debt plan calls for forgiving all federal undergraduate student loans from two- and four-year public colleges and universities and any private HBCUs or MSIs for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. The plan builds on Biden’s existing student loan plan to cancel $10,000 of student debt per person, forgive federal student loans after 20 years and more.

    This leaves out most who are enrolled in private colleges or universities. I was trying to get a quick estimate, but I’m not sure where to look….

    Based on these figures (but excluding the public ones in the table, coded “1” and “2” in the third column), private HBCUs look like they have a little more than 1% of private school undergrads. (about 70,000 out of 5,100,000 in 2018.) When you account for other MSIs, maybe double or even quadruple that number … but it’s still a very long way from 100%.

    (Most do earn less than $125k, but this is just using enrollment numbers, before the means-testing would cut it down a little and make things more complicated for no good reason.)

  252. says

    Reuters – “Trump family loses bid to move marketing scam lawsuit to arbitration”:

    A federal judge in Manhattan rejected an effort by U.S. President Donald Trump and his adult children to send a lawsuit accusing them of exploiting their family name to promote a marketing scam into arbitration.

    In a Wednesday night decision concerning the American Communications Network, U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield accused the Trumps of acting unfairly by seeking arbitration after first obtaining “the benefits of litigating in federal court,” including the dismissal of a racketeering claim.

    “This conduct is both substantively prejudicial towards Plaintiffs and seeks to use the [Federal Arbitration Act] as a vehicle to manipulate the rules of procedure to Defendants’ benefit and Plaintiffs’ harm,” Schofield wrote.

    Defendants included Trump’s adult children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and an affiliate of the Trump Organization.

    Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an email she looked forward to pursuing the proposed class action on behalf of her clients and “thousands of others like them who were defrauded by the Trumps.”

    Last July, Schofield said the plaintiffs could pursue state law claims of fraud, false advertising and unfair competition against the Trumps, despite dismissing the racketeering claim.

    The case is Doe et al v Trump Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-09936.

    I’ll once again recommend reading the original complaint here, filed on October 30, 2018.

  253. says

    More re #350 – Hollywood Reporter – “MGM Ordered to Deliver Unaired ‘Apprentice’ Footage in Marketing Scam Lawsuit Against Trumps”:

    Journalists, litigants and even actor Tom Arnold for years have been trying to get their hands on unaired footage from The Celebrity Apprentice that allegedly incriminates Donald Trump — and on Thursday a New York federal judge ordered MGM to hand over tapes in a lawsuit over an alleged multilevel marketing scam. Whether they’re those tapes remains to be seen.

    During a Thursday teleconference, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield told the studio it has to find a way to give plaintiffs access to footage from two episodes related to their suit. In October 2018, four unidentified individuals filed a class action complaint against Trump, The Trump Corporation, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump. They claim the Trumps convinced people to become independent business owners for ACN Opportunity, which was promoted by the Trumps in various mediums, including on episodes of Celebrity Apprentice, without disclosing that their endorsements of the company were paid.

    The decision was first reported by Bloomberg and has been confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter….

    In a February filing, MGM argued the tapes weren’t relevant because the complaint is centered on what actually aired on television and it would be a tremendous burden to search through “hundreds of hours of video footage” that’s stored “in obsolete formats.” It also characterized the request as a “speculative fishing expedition.”

    Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who accuses Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007, is also fighting to get unaired footage in her defamation lawsuit. Multiple former contestants, including Arnold and Penn Jillette, have said Trump regularly made sexist and “racially insensitive” comments on set.

  254. says

    Pence Lets Health Experts Appear On CNN After Initially Banning Them

    Vice President Mike Pence has walked back a decision to restrict top health experts from appearing on CNN in an effort to pressure the network into airing the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings in full.

    Pence’s office reversed course Thursday afternoon after CNN reported that morning that his office would only permit experts such as Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci to appear on the network on the condition that it airs the portion of the briefings featuring the vice president and other coronavirus task force members.

    According to CNN, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield will participate in the network’s coronavirus town hall Thursday night and Fauci is scheduled for a Friday interview on “New Day.”

    […] The network often ends its live broadcast of the briefing to air its analysis of Trump’s latest remarks.

    […] Within the last seven days, Pence’s office has declined to make public health experts available for interviews on CNN. The network also noted that Fauci, Birx, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have appeared on news networks NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox in the past week. […]

    From the readers comments:

    Media are criticized for carrying the daily task force briefing because Trump has turned much of it into a campaign rally and gripe-fest, about the media. It’s said the focus of the pressers should be limited to the actual pandemic and measures to deal with it.
    —————–
    Someone please tell Pence that he can be impeached too!
    ——————
    FFS. The PETTINESS and REVENGE FILLED BS that emanates from this WH is incredible.
    ——————
    They need to stop airing Trump’s campaign event at the top of the briefings.

  255. says

    Trump Moves To Kneecap Oversight Of COVID-19 Stimulus

    There are trillions of taxpayer dollars in the trunk, Donald Trump is at the wheel and the cops are nowhere in sight.

    The congressional coronavirus relief measures for taxpayers and businesses passed in recent weeks are the largest in U.S. history. Members of Congress, understandably, made an effort when writing the legislation to ensure all that money was spent responsibly, and according to the law.

    But over and over in recent days, […] Trump has sought to kneecap those checks.

    For example, the relief bill included a “special inspector general for pandemic recovery,” or SIGPR, to oversee the Treasury secretary’s spending of $500 billion.

    But in a signing statement accompanying the bill, the President made clear he wasn’t much interested in the oversight effort.

    The bailout package, Trump wrote, “authorizes the SIGPR to request information from other government agencies and requires the SIGPR to report to the Congress ‘without delay’ any refusal of such a request that ‘in the judgment of the Special Inspector General’ is unreasonable.”

    Trump wasn’t having it: “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3.”

    And as we found out this week, writing off the law’s oversight efforts as unconstitutional was just the beginning.

    After trashing the SIGPR post, Trump nominated a White House lawyer to fill it. Brian Miller is currently a special assistant to Trump and senior associate counsel in the White House counsel’s office — the same office that would have helped Trump draft his signing statement.

    Then Trump made another move — demoting the bailout’s top watchdog by replacing him.

    On March 30, a group of inspectors general selected the Pentagon’s acting top watchdog, Glenn Fine, to oversee the trillions Congress had allocated to buoy the economy as chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, or PRAC.

    But on Monday, just days after the appointment, Trump removed Fine from his post at the Pentagon, demoting him to his previous position as Principal Deputy Inspector General — therefore making him ineligible to watch over the bailout money.

    He hardly seems done: There are others on the committee that have earned Trump’s ire, and in light of Fine’s demotion, their jobs appear at risk as well.

    Christi Grimm, principal deputy inspector general at the Health department and another PRAC member, was also on the receiving end of a presidential volley.

    Why? Grimm’s office had released a report finding that “severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited hospitals’ ability to monitor the health of patients and staff” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In a tweet the day after ranting about Grimm at a press conference, Trump focused on Grimms’ “8 years with the Obama Administration” even though she’s served every president since George W. Bush. “Another Fake Dossier!” he said of Grimm’s report.

    Like Fine, Grimm is only leading her office in an “acting” capacity — and Trump has said he likes such “acting” officials, because, well, “It gives me more flexibility.” That’s for sure.

  256. says

    Trump Claims Mass Testing Isn’t Needed As He Itches To Reopen The Economy ‘Very Soon’

    Within the roughly 20 minutes that he spent at the podium of Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump reiterated that he would like to reopen the economy “very soon.”

    After touting that 2 million “highly sophisticated and highly accurate” COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the country, Trump downplayed the need for mass testing for all Americans when the country goes back to work.

    “We want to have it and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” Trump said. “We’re talking about 325 million people and that’s not gonna happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else, either.”

    Trump went on to say that although “other countries do it,” they do so in “a limited form” and that the U.S. will “probably be the leader of the pack.” […]

  257. says

    Follow-up to comment 355.

    Mixed messages from Team Trump when it comes to testing:

    Asked how the administration could discuss potentially “reopening” the country when officials and health workers say testing continues to fall short of demand, Trump said at Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing that “we have a great testing system … the best testing system in the world.”

    “It’s not necessary, but it would be a good thing to have,” Trump said of mass testing, which federal officials have struggled to roll out. Tests for 325 million people — about the population of the United States — “is not going to happen,” Trump said.

    Vice President Pence’s statements seemed at odds with the president’s on Thursday, as he said that “more widespread testing” — which “we’re scaling up each and every day” — would be important to reopening the country.

    According to Pence, more than 100,000 people are being tested for the virus each day nationwide. More than 2 million tests have been performed, he said.

    “We’re moving every day toward meeting that moment,” Pence said when asked whether the United States had sufficient testing.

    Epidemiologists and infectious-disease specialists, as well as former top agency officials, have put out their own ideas for how to ease back into normalcy — in preprint papers online, via Twitter and in op-eds.

    The Washington Post reported last month that a consensus had begun to coalesce around several key proposals for an American strategy to move forward while minimizing human and economic casualties.

    The flurry of recommendations includes mounting a large-scale contact-tracing effort, widespread testing, building up health-care capacity before easing restrictions, making future quarantines more targeted and allowing those who have recovered to go back to work.

    Washington Post link

  258. KG says

    Locally, the effort to recruit volunteers to make masks has apparently been very successful with several hundred recruited – blf@336

    My son is now taking part in a project at a local arts/culture centre which has a number of 3D printers, to produce medical-quality visors. Currently at 500/day, hoping to get up to 1,000. Ironically, there are so many individuals with a single printer and probably a slower process trying this, they are having trouble sourcing the raw materials!

  259. KG says

    Lynna@333 (quoting Dailykos),

    How far is it in Trump’s power to “reopen the economy” through his floated “economic taskforce” of far-right whackos and prominent athletes? I understood from what SC said yesterday that he can’t countermand state or city lockdown provisions, and it seems likely even many Republican governors and mayors would refuse to follow any “Presidential” push to lift them next month. Of course, if that happens he’ll be able to blame state and city leaders for the recession/depression that is already inevitable (and that even in the best case, will take longer than November to resolve itself), so maybe that’s the actual plan.

  260. says

    Guardian liveblog (linked @ #349 above):

    Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, a vociferous critic of social isolation who has dismissed coronavirus as “a little flu”, was booed and jeered by people in the capital Brasília after he went to a bakery for a donut on Thursday night, writes Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro.

    “Go home!” people shouted from nearby apartment buildings, and “Bolsonaro out!” Others could be heard banging pots and pans in videos widely shared on twitter, echoing the protests many make from home at 8.30pm every night.

    “IN FULL PANDEMIC. Bolsonaro went back to circulating in Brasília and created a tumult in a bakery,” tweeted photojournalist Lula Marques, sharing the videos. “It was another irresponsible act by Bolsonaro putting the population’s life at risk.” The incident was covered on Brazil’s biggest nightly news show, Jornal Nacional, and by Brazil’s biggest magazine Veja.

    Cries of “Bolsonaro out” were even audible in a video tweeted by the president’s congressman son Eduardo Bolsonaro from the Pão Dourado – ‘Golden Bakery’ – store, where the far-right populist ate a donut with his infrastructure minister Tarcísio de Freitas, joked with employees – who unlike the president were wearing masks – and put his arms around people for photos. He is one of just four world leaders denying the health threat of Covid-19, along with the despots of Belarus and Turkmenistan and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.

    It was the third time Bolsonaro has mingled with people in Brasília, contravening World Health Organisation advice. He has told Brazilians to get back to work and nearly sacked his health minister for telling them to obey state governors who closed shops, schools and businesses.

    But Bolsonaro’s rhetoric has influenced Brazilians among signs that clear signs that social distancing is disintegrating in big cities while coronavirus cases soar, with more people on the streets of Rio and São Paulo, Reuters reported on Thursday. Brazil had 17,857 confirmed case and 941 deaths as of Friday morning.

    They show Lula Marques’ tweet with video of the neighborhood jeering Bolsonaro.

  261. says

    Trump is participating in an ‘Easter Blessing’ [today] with Bishop Harry Jackson, per the WH. Worth noting: Jackson is a prominent activist against same-sex marriage and the LGBT community. In 2009, he (unsuccessfully) led the movement against legalizing same-sex unions in D.C.”

  262. says

    New Yorker – “How Did the U.S. End Up with Nurses Wearing Garbage Bags?”:

    …What they did not foresee was that the federal government might never come to the rescue. They did not realize this was a government failure by design—not a problem to be fixed but a policy choice by President Trump that either would not or could not be undone. “No one can believe it. That’s the No. 1 problem with the whole situation: the facts are known, but they are inconceivable,” Ries told me. “So we are just in denial.”…

  263. blf says

    Apparently the UK, like France, is having problems recording Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, Ministers urged to include care home deaths in daily UK coronavirus toll:

    [… T]he industry body Care England estimated that the coronavirus death toll in care homes was likely to be close to 1,000, despite the only available official figure being dramatically lower.

    Unlike hospital deaths, statistics for coronavirus fatalities in the community are only released weekly. The Office for National Statistics published figures for deaths in care homes for the first time on Tuesday, saying 20 people had died across the whole of England and Wales in the week to 27 March.

    That figure is 12 days behind the daily hospital death rate and relies on registered death certificates, which take an average of five days to process. With a time lag of around 17 days, social care operators say the scale of infection and fatalities is not being grasped.

    […]

    Despite the low official figure, more than 120 residents of the UK’s largest charitable provider of care homes are thought to have died from the virus in the last three weeks, while another network of care homes is reported to have recorded 88 deaths.

    Care industry leaders and the Alzheimer’s Society told the Guardian that they believed the virus to be active in around half of care settings, which look after about 400,000 people in the UK. […]

    Here in France it is a known — and acknowledged — glitch that Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes were not being counted. They™ are trying to fix that, and since earlier this week have been able to include some data from the nursing homes, but are still having problems.

  264. says

    Trump’s new anti-Biden, anti-China attack ad is wildly wrong

    This is one of the first ads of the general-election phase, serving as a reminder that this campaign season will be unpleasant for all sorts of reason.

    The basic idea behind the Trump campaign’s new attack ad is that Joe Biden is somehow soft on China. And before even considering the contents of the commercial itself, it’s worth appreciating the degree to which Donald Trump is picking the wrong fight: [Trump] has repeatedly backed down in confrontations with Beijing, on everything from currency manipulation to ZTE to the “One China” policy.

    It reached the point that China’s state-run media, mocking the American president as a paper tiger, ran a headline a few years ago that read, “Trump slaps self in face, again.”

    […] As the New York Times noted, that effort is off to a rough start.

    A new attack ad by President Trump’s re-election campaign portraying former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as soft on China includes an image of an Asian-American former governor of Washington State that appears to falsely suggest he is Chinese. The image, which appears briefly, was pulled from a 2013 event in Beijing, where Mr. Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, shared a stage with Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington, who also served as President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary and ambassador to China.

    Gary Locke, for the record, is an American who was born in Seattle, the suggestion of Trump’s ad notwithstanding.

    Alas, that’s one of many problems with the online ad. A Washington Post analysis, which described the Republican commercial as “a complete and utter mess,” went on to note that the Trump campaign was also wrong about Biden’s position on coronavirus travel restrictions, while featuring a series of Biden quotes about China that were quite similar to Trump’s own rhetoric. […]

  265. says

    Trump on TV:

    […] Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a close ally and golf partner of the President, told the Times that Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message” and said he has encouraged Trump to decrease his appearances to “a once-a-week show.” Other Republican senators were willing to openly cringe at the daily briefings on-the-record as well: Sen. Shelly Moore (WV) said they tend to go “off the rails a little bit” and Sen. Susan Brooks (IN) criticized the length.

    But the TV President is unlikely to be swayed. Administration officials told the Times that he’s expressed to aides he enjoys the free air time, which is unsurprising for a president who tweets about the “ratings” of his pandemic mitigating press conferences as thousands of Americans die of the virus.

    Trump is expected to participate in today’s briefing, which is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, instead of the usual 5 p.m. We hypothesize the rationale for the time change is two-fold: Trump wants to cater to his evangelical base, who will join all Christians in recognizing Good Friday this evening and 5:00 p.m. on a Friday is not exactly the most popular TV viewing time slot. […]

    TPM link

  266. says

    Dunderheads in Idaho have plans to spread COVID-19 … actually, I don’t think they understand that they are spreading the virus. This is dumb on top of stupid.

    The anti-government activist Ammon Bundy and a crew of Idahoans angry at the state government’s anti-coronavirus orders are fighting back — with an Easter service, followed by a potluck.

    For weeks, Bundy, who’s best known for leading the 10-day armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon, has been holding crowded meetings meant to defy Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s (R) recent order against large gatherings.

    The latest, on Thursday night, included upwards of 70 people crammed into a room no larger than a basketball court. Speakers performatively coughed and wheezed, shared a microphone and, at one point, recommended that those with flu symptoms drink tonic water. (Quinine has not been proven effective against the disease at all.)

    Toward the end of Thursday’s meeting, a former state senate candidate and marketing consultant in Bundy’s crew announced the latest effort to “further snub our noses in the faces of all these morons who are telling us what we can and cannot do”: An Easter service, followed by a potluck.

    “Bring your own food, bring your own chair,” said Diego Rodriguez, who also previewed an attack ad against Little and asked for donations to get the ad on Rush Limbaugh’s show.

    “Your dollar will go further right now than it can ever go in the history of time!” Rodriguez exclaimed at one point on Thursday.

    Rodriguez said he’d be delivering the “very short” sermon Sunday.

    “I don’t care if you’re Christian, Catholic, Mormon, atheist, Libertarian, hare-brained conspiracy theorist,” he said — all are welcome.

    “Our goal is to get enough people together and secure our rights,” Bundy told CNN, describing the service. “We are not trying to provoke, we want people to be able to worship.”

    Bundy, who lives in the small town of Emmett, Idaho, said he’d received the contact information of hundreds of people who were willing to — physically, if necessary — stand up for those committed to violating the state’s “stay-at-home” orders, which Little announced late last month.

    After the meeting Thursday, Bundy plugged the website Rodriguez had announced earlier: BradLittleIsADisgrace.com. Bundy also suggested at the meeting that he might try to put together a class action lawsuit related to the stay-at-home order, though wasn’t clear whether there were any serious plans to pursue it.

    “Whatever the recourse is, I don’t know,” he said. “But it is going to be a very stout effort.”

    TPM link

  267. blf says

    The dalek Peter Navarro: what Trump’s Covid-19 tsar lacks in expertise, he makes up:

    […] China hawk shares president’s [sic] brittle traits and wrote books quoting expert who turned out to be fictitious version of himself

    […]

    The 70-year-old White House trade adviser was first recruited by Trump because he wrote a string of books about the Chinese strategic threat — one called Death by China — despite having spent almost no time in the country and having no grasp of the language.

    Five of Navarro’s books cited a China hand with a particularly pithy turn of phrase called Ron Vara, who turned out not to exist. The name is an anagram of Navarro and the imaginary expert operated as an alter ego, confirming the author’s views.

    [… T]here is nothing in his career to date that suggests he has the credentials or experience to manage the state intervention necessary to steer US industry towards producing the masks, gowns, ventilators and other life-saving supplies the country will need over the course of this pandemic.

    Before coming to the White House, Navarro was a west coast academic economist with views on trade far outside the American mainstream and a failed political career behind him, have lost five elections and won none in his adoptive home town of San Diego.

    His former campaign adviser, Larry Remer, said: “I wouldn’t trust him to go out to get lunch and come back with everybody’s sandwich and drink order correctly. I don’t know how he could be put in charge of logistics.

    “On one level it’s amusing but on another level, it’s really dangerous,” added Remer, a San Diego political consultant.

    […]

    Navarro’s rollicking 1998 memoir, San Diego Confidential, displays some of the bravado that appears to have attracted Trump, who is said to refer to him as my Peter.

    In the book Navarro acknowledged his reputation as the cruelest and meanest son-of-a-bitch that ever ran for office in San Diego, adding: I don’t have any concern at all about making stuff up about my opponent that isn’t exactly true — I know that bastard running against me doesn’t have any scruples either.
    […]

    A projecting authoritarian with a strong case of Dunning-Kruger.

  268. blf says

    The dalek Peter Navarro: what Trump’s Covid-19 tsar lacks in expertise, he makes up (some redactions are due to poopyhead’s filter):

    […] China hawk shares president’s [sic] brittle traits and wrote books quoting expert who turned out to be fictitious version of himself

    […]

    The 70-year-old White House trade adviser was first recruited by Trump because he wrote a string of books about the Chinese strategic threat — one called Death by China — despite having spent almost no time in the country and having no grasp of the language.

    Five of Navarro’s books cited a China hand with a particularly pithy turn of phrase called Ron Vara, who turned out not to exist. The name is an anagram of Navarro and the imaginary expert operated as an alter ego, confirming the author’s views.

    [… T]here is nothing in his career to date that suggests he has the credentials or experience to manage the state intervention necessary to steer US industry towards producing the masks, gowns, ventilators and other life-saving supplies the country will need over the course of this pandemic.

    Before coming to the White House, Navarro was a west coast academic economist with views on trade far outside the American mainstream and a failed political career behind him, have lost five elections and won none in his adoptive home town of San Diego.

    His former campaign adviser, Larry Remer, said: “I wouldn’t trust him to go out to get lunch and come back with everybody’s sandwich and drink order correctly. I don’t know how he could be put in charge of logistics.

    “On one level it’s amusing but on another level, it’s really dangerous,” added Remer, a San Diego political consultant.

    […]

    Navarro’s rollicking 1998 memoir, San Diego Confidential, displays some of the bravado that appears to have attracted Trump, who is said to refer to him as my Peter.

    In the book Navarro acknowledged his reputation as the cruelest and meanest [redacted] that ever ran for office in San Diego, adding: I don’t have any concern at all about making stuff up about my opponent that isn’t exactly true — I know that [redacted] running against me doesn’t have any scruples either.
    […]

    A projecting authoritarian with a strong case of Dunning-Kruger.

  269. says

    Follow-up to comment 367.

    From the readers comments:

    Horribly, they will also go infect a bunch of non-stupid people who knew better than to share food during a pandemic, and some of those smart people will die. For that, the stupid people who don’t die ought to go to jail.
    —————-
    Headline: “At least 70 people infected with coronavirus linked to a single church in California”.
    This is in one church in Sacramento, CA. They held services against the order to avoid such gatherings
    Have a ball, Ammon.
    —————-
    Ammon bought into trump’s assertion that the virus is a hoax. He will continue to believe it up to the time he gets ill with covid-19. And even then he may still concoct some implausible conspiracy idea that “them ferriners did this to me”
    ——————–
    Take names.

    Block them at the hospital door.
    ———————–
    I believe the correct charge for this bozo will be manslaughter.
    ———————–
    “So passes Aamon, son of Cliven…”
    ————————-
    Problem is, every one of them will return home throughout ID and possibly travelling across state lines, spreading infection as they go. I think they should be quarantined on site for 14 days for public health and safety reasons if their attendance exceeds that of the ID Stay at Home order.The Bundy group always ends up costing the public lives, money, and time that could be spent far better elsewhere.

  270. says

    Florida Man: Gov. DeSantis Falsely Claims COVID-19 Doesn’t Threaten Children

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wrongly asserted on Thursday that COVID-19 doesn’t pose any danger to people under 25 while he was making a case for having kids go back to school even as the virus continues to spread across the country.

    During a press conference, DeSantis claimed there hasn’t been “a single fatality” in that age group from the illness in the U.S. as he was explaining why he was looking at reopening the schools in his state.

    “For whatever reason it just doesn’t seem to threaten kids,” the governor said.

    DeSantis acknowledged that the coronavirus is dangerous to those who are 65 and over, but argued that that wasn’t the case for young people.

    “If you’re younger, it just hasn’t had an impact,” he said. “So that should factor into how we’re viewing this.”

    However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Friday that there have been 2,572 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among children under 18 from February 12 to April 2. 147 of those cases led to hospitalization, including the ICU, and three children have died from the disease.

    Additionally, public health officials have warned that while young Americans are less likely to become seriously ill from the disease, they risk transmitting it to older people and must therefore adhere to social distancing guidelines.

  271. says

    blf @368, the more we learn about Peter Navarro, the more alarmed I am by seeing Trump team up with him. From the text you quoted, this made me laugh:

    Five of Navarro’s books cited a China hand with a particularly pithy turn of phrase called Ron Vara, who turned out not to exist. The name is an anagram of Navarro and the imaginary expert operated as an alter ego, confirming the author’s views.

    Of course. Remember “John Barron,” Trump’s alter ego that Trump used to brag about himself?

    This is cogent and succinct :

    “I wouldn’t trust him to go out to get lunch and come back with everybody’s sandwich and drink order correctly. I don’t know how he could be put in charge of logistics.”

    People’s lives and livelihoods are in the balance here. Navarro is the wrong man for the job.

    Also, Navarro summed himself up well:

    “I don’t have any concern at all about making stuff up …”

  272. says

    From Barack Obama:

    Mayors have been working hard to help us get through this pandemic, and they’ll have just as big a task to help people through hard times ahead. I spent some time with many of them today to thank them for their efforts, and asked them to keep up the good work.

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/joncoopertweets/status/1248382880482357249

    And:
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/politics/obama-mayors-coronavirus/index.html

    Speak the truth. Speak it clearly. Speak it with compassion. Speak it with empathy for what folks are going through.

    […] The more smart people you have around you, and the less embarrassed you are to ask questions, the better your response is going to be.

  273. blf says

    (I’m watching France24 now…) There’s surreal scene of magic sky faerie brotherers holding a cult something-or-other in an empty Notre Dame in Paris: Wearing hardhats, socially-distanced, and in suits to protect against the lead pollution problem.

  274. says

    Trump is trying to kill the USPS as vote-by-mail becomes the best chance to save our democracy

    This is a full-on red flashing, siren sounding, alarm to me.

    Though the novel coronavirus has Americans more reliant on package delivery than ever—including for prescription medications—it has put the future of the U.S. Postal Service in danger. Not distant, far-in-the-future danger, but could-stop-operating-in-June danger. And the Trump administration, which wants to bail out foreign-flagged cruise lines, is saying the postal service is on its own.

    “I spoke with the Postmaster General again today,” Rep. Gerry Connolly tweeted Thursday afternoon. “She could not have been more clear: The Postal Service will collapse without urgent intervention, and it will happen soon. We’ve pleaded with the White House to help. @realDonaldTrump personally directed his staff not to do so.

    What’s on the line here? Those prescription medications so many people get by mail. Delivery to rural areas that the for-profit companies don’t think are worth delivering to; in many cases, the USPS brings UPS or FedEx packages the last leg to people’s actual doors, or to tiny rural post offices. Vote-by-mail, which will be essential this November, is—as David Nir put it—“our last best chance to save democracy.”

    Why is the novel coronavirus crisis such an immediate, life-or-death crisis for USPS, a part of the federal government that is actually written into the Constitution? Mail volume is already down by nearly a third and could be down by half by the end of June. But the origin of the crisis comes from Congress—specifically from a congressional mandate for the USPS to prepay its retiree health obligations decades into the future and from congressional blocks on the postal service doing things like online bill-paying, money transfer services, postal banking, copy and fax services, phone cards, notary public services, and hunting and fishing licenses. There are so many things that post offices, which are located in nearly every community in the nation, could do that would help Americans out by providing affordable services they need, and at the same time the USPS would be strengthened. But Congress won’t allow it. [Republicans in Congress won’t allow it.]

    And now in the current crisis, Congress would have passed a bill including at least part of what the USPS needs to survive—but Donald Trump wasn’t having it, in part because he’s angry that the postal service doesn’t charge enough to deliver packages for Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, which has published stories Trump didn’t like.

    So the postal service’s ability to continue delivering the mail as it has done for hundreds of years is in immediate danger at the moment when, without vote-by-mail, we might face the choice between risking our lives and giving up our democracy.

    From the readers comments:

    The republicans have long hated the post office because they are a unionized workforce. And of course they also want to privatize it to enrich their business buddies.
    ——————-
    Emergency USPS funding and funding for expanded voting access in November are two musts in the next phase of COVID-19 relief. As well as another round of payments to every American.
    ——————–
    a lot of Amazon’s third party vendor catalog comes by USPS.
    ———————-
    The Democrats in DC had better come up with a way of saving the USPS, or a whole lot of bills will never get mailed back to those who expect payment— all over the US. Doubt that’s what the GOP wants.

    And also— we need Democrats to refuse any more biz bailouts until the USPS is secure. Period.

    Just because Trump wants to kill the largest single employer of veterans in the US doesn’t have to mean he gets his wish, unless Congress lets him.

    And oh yeah, with the virus likely to return vigorously come Fall, voting by mail is going to have to be a thing, no matter what the Republicans want.

    The there’s the little matter of Congress having the power to establish a postal service resident in the Constitution. There is no provision therein for disestablishment.

  275. says

    Almost 300 inmates in a Chicago jail have tested positive for coronavirus.

    The Cook County Jail reports that 276 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said Friday, fueling fears about outbreaks among the highly contained populations in prison.

    The 4,500-person Chicago suburb has the largest reported outbreak within a U.S. prison, The New York Times reported this week. In addition to the nearly 300 inmates, 115 prison staff have also tested positive for the virus.

    “First and foremost, no one should be locked up if they’re not a danger to the community or a flight risk,” Lightfoot said on CNN’s “New Day.” “And certainly not because they can’t afford to pay bail.” […]

    Link

  276. consciousness razor says

    KG:

    How far is it in Trump’s power to “reopen the economy” through his floated “economic taskforce” of far-right whackos and prominent athletes? I understood from what SC said yesterday that he can’t countermand state or city lockdown provisions, and it seems likely even many Republican governors and mayors would refuse to follow any “Presidential” push to lift them next month. Of course, if that happens he’ll be able to blame state and city leaders for the recession/depression that is already inevitable (and that even in the best case, will take longer than November to resolve itself), so maybe that’s the actual plan.

    Stay-at-home orders and so forth are primarily up to state governments. Constitutionally at least, the president doesn’t have that kind of authority.

    On the other hand, Trump and his administration have been pretty much ignoring the Constitution since his election (or his whole life, really). Congress has in effect legitimized this: on top of the impeachment theatrics, it has for a long time been in the habit of failing to do its own job and allowed the executive branch to exercise that power instead.

    More concretely, Trump did say states (or their officials) “have to treat us well” as a condition of getting federal support, which is of course being administered by his administration. This is especially a concern for states which have Democratic governors, who are (generally) less likely to fall in line with his party’s orthodoxy. Trump has also claimed for himself the power to act as “oversight” for the funding which would go the various states, with his signing statement on the bailout bill and his dismissal of the inspectors/watchdogs who were supposed to be the ones who conducted this oversight. Even though he doesn’t, he at least acts as if he’s holding all of the cards, and that may be enough to convince many (politicians, pundits, voters etc.).

    Does a governor dealing with an emergency have the time or the inclination to go into a messy court battle over this, which itself could be made to look like they’re hurting their own state and/or the country? Not so clear what the result of that would be. And even if that’s not how it’s perceived by most people, it could still be a way to stall their funding and put them in a very difficult position. Or, if it turns into a fight for control between the administration and some in the Congress, that’s also likely to be messy, risky, time-consuming, etc.

    Even if Trump “loses” the battle, he may still translate it into a “political” victory to satisfy his base. This is often how it goes with many politicians…. He recently announced that he’d cut funds to the WHO — red meat for Trump’s followers — but only a few minutes later in the same briefing, the backsliding and dissembling had already begun. Doesn’t matter: they will take what they want from that exchange and leave aside the rest.

    So, even if he can’t legally do any of it, he can still at least pretend to have a lot of leverage, which counts for a lot more than it should. He might be able to put a lot of pressure on states to lift their stay-at-home orders, whenever he thinks it’s in his interests to do so, because they know and he knows that they need all sorts of funding and resources which he can (legally or not) dangle in front of them. Congress could still work against this, but … it’s Congress. They always act like they’re helpless, despite the fact that they are only ones who aren’t helpless.

  277. says

    States that are not in the news as often as New York are also seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.

    […] Iowa — one of a handful of states where the governor has not enacted a stay-at-home order — had its highest number of new cases per day on Thursday with 125 confirmed cases.

    Minnesota also had its highest number of new cases with 88 confirmed cases reported and 11 deaths. The state has had a total of 1,242 cases and 50 deaths.

    Arizona had 292 new cases on Thursday, marking the highest number of daily new cases that the state has seen so far and a nearly 11 percent increase from Wednesday. […]

    Colorado had 547 new cases and 35 deaths — the highest it’s seen on either metric thus far. New Mexico, meanwhile, had 124 new cases, its biggest number of new cases per day, though the state is still under a total of 1,000 confirmed cases.

    Texas also had its worst day yet with 1,472 new confirmed cases and 33 deaths. Health officials warned earlier this month that the state was likely to be among the country’s next “hot spots” that would see a rapid increase in cases.

    In the South, Alabama also saw its worst day yet when it comes to the number of new cases, with 339 new cases on Thursday. […]

    South Carolina and Mississippi also had their highest number of new cases on Thursday, with South Carolina reporting 240 new cases and Mississippi 257 cases.

    Further up the east coast, Massachusetts had its highest number of daily new cases, with 2,151 new cases reported on Thursday. The state has seen 503 deaths due to the coronavirus with half of those, 243, happening within the last three days.

    Rhode Island reported 277 new cases on Thursday, its highest number of daily new cases. Pennsylvania had 1,965 new cases and is expected to have more than 20,000 total confirmed cases on Friday.

    Link

    Idaho, home of Ammon Bundy, reports 1,353 cases, with 121 new cases reported today, and 24 total deaths. Idaho reports 143 cases among healthcare workers.

  278. blf says

    (I’m watching France24 now…) Apparently, in Israel, the health minister, who is ultra-orthodox, had some time ago during the last magic sky faerie holiday weakened the recommendations of his own ministry. He was infected. As a result, there are now some very strict restrictions for Passover. And people he came in contact with — the PM, most(?) of the rest of the cabinet, the heads of Mossad and other agencies, an entire(?) TV studio’s staff, and presumably others — were forced into self-quarantine.

  279. says

    From New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

    We need an unprecedented mobilization where the government can produce these tests in the millions.

    We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. We need more than several thousand tests per week if this is going to happen anytime soon.

    [Cuomo said private sector companies have tests, but they don’t have the resources to transition to production on a macro scale without help from the federal government.]

    Let’s get the testing up to scale quickly so we can start building the bridge to reopening the economy.

    What Trump said:

    We want to have it [testing] and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We’re talking about 325 million people. And that’s not going to happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else either.

    Despite Trump’s claims that the U.S. has the best and the most testing, the U.S. is far behind in coronavirus testing.

    The U.S. has tested only about 0.2 percent of its population. For example, Norway has tested more than 2.0 of its population. Germany has tested 1,317,887 people. See: Link

    As of April 8, 2020, Germany had conducted the highest number of coronavirus (COVID-19) tests in Europe at 1,317,887. The significant test capacity in Germany has been referred to as a reason for the relatively low coronavirus mortality rate in comparison to other countries. At the latest available data, Russia and Italy had carried out approximately 910 thousand and 807 thousand tests respectively. Many European countries have been ramping up their testing programs recently in an effort to limit the spread and damage of the coronavirus pandemic.

  280. says

    Quartz – “China just upgraded the status of dogs from ‘livestock’ to ‘pets'”:

    In a newly published list of animals categorized as livestock in China, the country’s agriculture ministry made a surprising announcement tucked away at the bottom of the policy document: dogs are no longer to be treated as mere livestock, but as loyal companions.

    “Alongside the development of human civilization and the public’s care toward protecting animals, dogs have now evolved from being traditional livestock to companion animals,” the notice dated April 8 read (link in Chinese), adding that dogs aren’t typically regarded as livestock worldwide.

    The official announcement follows on the heels of February’s nationwide ban on the trade and consumption of wildlife in China. The country’s top legislature fast-tracked the enactment of the ban in large part due to widespread suspicions that the Covid-19 outbreak stemmed from a novel coronavirus being transmitted from wild animals to humans….

    Although Beijing has said that the consumption of wild land animals not included in this list will be banned (link in Chinese), it is unclear whether dogs, which traditionally are not counted as wild animals, would also be protected from this fate after the “upgrade” of its status by the ministry. Calls to the ministry went unanswered, while it did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

    However, given the clear classification of dogs as companion animals by the ministry, local governments in China could follow suit to set up regulations banning the consumption of not only wild life, but also pets. Shenzhen, the southern Chinese city bordering Hong Kong, became the first city in the country to ban the eating of cats and dogs, as well as state-protected and other terrestrial wild animals, days before the ministry’s announcement.

    Around 10 million dogs and four million cats are estimated to be slaughtered and eaten in China every year, according to Hong Kong-based animal welfare group Animals Asia, but the practice is coming under increasing criticism from the country’s growing ranks of pet lovers. In 2016, a group of dog lovers tried to stop a truck that was carrying 320 dogs headed for a slaughterhouse on a highway in Hebei province. They ended up getting into a fight with the truck driver and causing a massive traffic jam.

  281. says

    From Wonkette: “Poor Man’s Roy Cohn Bill Barr Says Trump’s Dictator-Style Purges Are F*ckin’ AWESOME”

    One terrible thing about the coronavirus crisis in America — you know, aside from the almost-17,000-and-counting deaths Donald Trump could have done something to prevent — is that the same evil people are still behind the scenes doing the same evil things they were doing before. There’s just less of a light on them, because of how the media is rightfully obsessed with the pandemic.

    So what is the embodiment of rightwing evil, Attorney General Bill Barr, up to? […] he thinks Trump’s purge of inspectors general, especially his firing of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, was just awesome. Atkinson was fired because he followed the law and, when presented with a whistleblower’s evidence that Trump was trying to force Ukraine to help him steal the 2020 election, he didn’t do cover-ups for Trump like Bill Barr did.

    BARR: I think the President did the right thing in removing Atkinson.

    Barr whined that Atkinson “was told […] in a letter from the Department of Justice” that he wasn’t supposed to be doing anything with whistleblower complaints involving Donald Trump’s crimes, BUT YET HE PERSISTED and “tried to turn it into a commission to explore anything in the government and immediately report it to Congress without letting the executive branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem.”

    Which, again, was the law (the inspector general going to Congress […]).

    Even so, Bill Barr’s Justice Department did look at Trump’s crimes, for like four seconds, and he did see that whistleblower complaint, where Trump tried to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election on his behalf, and Barr decided that Trump is allowed to commit crimes because (Republican) presidents are above the law because that is what Bill Barr actually believes because Bill Barr is an evil un-American piece of shit.

    Ingraham [Fox News host] noted that Trump is firing a lot of IGs right now, and said, “Of course that’s used to say, ‘Well the President just doesn’t want a watchdog.'” (People say that because of how it is true.) Barr responded that Trump “wants responsible watchdogs.”

    Of course, for Trump and Barr “responsible watchdogs” are the kind that let Trump commit crimes without consequences, […]
    Speaking of Trump’s IG purge, the Daily Beast reported Thursday morning that, as with Trump’s earlier ongoing purge of witnesses who told Congress the truth about Trump’s impeachable and impeached crimes against Ukraine and against American democracy, the IG purge is being spearheaded by that dumbshit fresh-faced 29-year-old Trump loyalist idiot Johnny McEntee.

    You remember Johnny. He’s the one who used to be Trump’s “body man” at the White House, until one day in 2018 when he got ass-walked off the premises because he was being investigated for Serious Financial Crimes. […]

    He landed at the Trump campaign, but Trump brought him back to the White House recently, and ever since he’s been hiring college kids to help him do his purges, which now include IGs, the lifelong public servants who act as nonpartisan watchdogs rooting out crime and grift and graft and dysfunction where they find it.

    In the past two months, Trump and McEntee have discussed the topic of replacing inspectors general—a number of whose nominations require approval by the Senate—along with various other positions in the federal government. The president has made clear that he is adamant about quickly filling those posts (there are more than 70 such watchdogs across the government) with those more submissive to him […]

    Hey, Americans are dropping like flies from a pandemic. How is that not a good time for Donald Trump to consolidate power and make some real moves to become the world’s stupidest despot in human history he’s always dreamed of being? […]

    And obviously, Bill Barr is helping, in more ways than one!

    Back in the before-times, one of Barr’s appalling, democracy-destroying tasks was his spearheading of a number of efforts to investigate the investigators, in an effort to completely erase the Russian attack on the 2016 election to help install Trump in the presidency, which the Mueller Report called “sweeping and systematic.” In this way, Barr is not only Trump’s manservant, but also Vladimir Putin’s manservant. […]

    Last night, Barr gave Laura Ingraham an update on the so-called Durham investigation, named for John Durham, the US attorney Barr picked to find the real truth about Hillary Clinton and James Comey colluding to create a conspiracy to deny her the presidency so she could frame Trump as a Russian plant:

    In the interview, Mr. Barr also said that some of the people who were involved in the decision to investigate the Trump campaign in 2016 could face federal criminal prosecution.

    John H. Durham, the veteran federal prosecutor assigned to look into the origins of the campaign investigation, “is looking to bring to justice people who were engaged in abuses if he can show there were criminal violations,” Mr. Barr said.

    “My own view is that the evidence shows that we are not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness,” Mr. Barr said. “There is something far more troubling here. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it. And if people broke the law and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.”

    “His own view” is that there was a criminal Deep State conspiracy to take down Trump, and he’s going to prosecute Trump’s political enemies, even though the IG and everybody else who’s looked at it has found that the Russia investigation was correctly predicated and factually sound, and oh yeah, we still don’t know for sure that the president is *not* a Russian asset. […]
    FUCKING VOTE IN NOVEMBER.

    Link

  282. says

    From Wonkette: “Seven Dudes Overrule Kansas Gov Laura Kelly’s ‘No Churching’ Order Because She’s A Democrat Lady”

    […] a panel of the Republican-led Kansas state legislature decided Holy Week would be a great time to get all pissy about Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision to include churches in her stay at home order banning gatherings of more than 10 people in one place. Kelly, a Democrat — yes, in Kansas, her opponent was Kris Kobach for gosh darn’s sake — issued the order Tuesday, and Republicans on the Legislative Coordinating Council — a seven-member body that’s doing legislative business while the full Lege is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak — voted Wednesday to overturn Kelly’s order, because What About Religious Freedom. The vote was widely criticized as terrible and bad for public health, and now Kelly has sued to have the vote thrown out by the Kansas Supreme Court.

    “The last thing I want right now is a legal battle […] But as I said yesterday, Kansas lives are on the line and I took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution.”

    The Republicans, meanwhile, are insisting that they really really do think the virus is a serious threat to public health, and that people should continue social distancing, and for that matter, that the state’s churches should hold their Easter services online instead of in person. But there’s a matter of principle here, and that principle is that Republicans have to insist they love Jesus more than the godless Democrats. Although they put that a little differently in their public statements, instead saying they merely want to make no decent churchgoing folks get “arrested for practicing their faith.”

    Under Kansas’s emergency management law, the Lege has the power to revoke the governor’s emergency orders, but Kelly’s lawsuit argues that only the full Lege can do that, not the Legislative Coordinating Council.

    Last month, the Legislature approved a concurrent resolution – not a law – giving the council the power to review and revoke her orders.

    So they voted to give themselves the power to revoke the Governor’s orders? Talk about shady. And unconstitutional.

    Kelly’s attorneys argue that the Lege, in setting up the council to work in its place, had unconstitutionally tried to hand its authority to a body that has no legal standing, in violation of the state constitution. […] The attorneys ask for a quick ruling “with the utmost speed given the need to resolve this matter before the Easter Holiday” this Sunday. […]
    The whole idiotic wingnut Passion Play drove Dr. Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to send out an angry tweet Wednesday, telling Kansans not to back off from good health practices just because Republicans wanted to pretend Kelly had declared War on Easter:

    Nothing fun, nothing fancy. Whatever Kansas legislators do doesn’t reverse what The Public needs to do. Stay home so we can beat this scourge. Despite what the “leaders” of the Legislature say. We are so close, and they are doing politics. Don’t fall for it! I am SO angry! Shame!

    Norman discussed the holy mess further on Thursday’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” explaining this isn’t about religious freedom, it’s about saving lives, particularly since three clusters of COVID-19 cases in Kansas had been traced to church gatherings.

    […] Counties, for the most part, have been acting as if the full stay-home order is in effect; officials in Johnson County and Sedgwick County, just to be on the safe side, said that even if the statewide order had been rescinded, the counties’ own bans on public gatherings remained in place.

    Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner went a little farther and said that while most churches were already complying by livestreaming their services, nobody should panic about cops busting heads at an Easter service:

    So far, he said, there have not been any law enforcement sent to churches to break up services. […]

    Yr Wonkette wondered whether the loonies at Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church were complying with the no-church-meetings order, and you’ll all be glad to know the loonies are complying with it. and that Westboro won’t be canceling Easter services because the God Hates Fags crowd believes Easter is “pagan idolatry” anyway. […] since the Bible says God set up civil authorities, and as long as it doesn’t involve people fucking in a way that’s an abomination before God, the order is lawful. Also, you’re all going to Hell, the end.

    Link

  283. blf says

    Both France24 and the Grauniad are reporting there is a new case of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just days before they would have declared the end to the latest Ebola outbreak:

    A case of Ebola has been detected in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, more than six weeks after the last case, the government said in a statement.

    The central African country planned on Sunday to declare an end to the second biggest outbreak of the disease in history, which had killed more than 2,200. […]

    A doctor(? health official?) from DRC was on France24, and was saying they had no idea were this case came from, it was very very much a surprise. And, of course, facing two serious health emergencies at the same time was not what they needed. The were planning to move resources from Ebola to Covid-19.

  284. blf says

    In Barcelona, Spain, Pakistani taxi drivers give free rides to Spanish health workers:

    Barcelona’s Pakistani diaspora also providing food parcels to homeless and people in need and producing protective gear.

    […]

    The initiative started at the beginning of Spain’s lockdown, in mid-March, as six Pakistani taxi drivers led by Shahbaz Ahmed discussed how medical workers would be able to return at night to their homes.

    Since then, their effort has expanded to about 200 volunteers, including some drivers from other nationalities.

    They started by sharing their contact details with hospitals and organised their schedules to cover the city centre and more remote facilities, such as the Can Ruti Hospital.

    “Medical staff work too many hours and we saw that they were going to their jobs using public transport,” said Asim Gondal, a driver volunteering his services.

    “For this reason, as they are working on the frontline for humanity, we began this service also to save them more time and, in this way, they don’t spend it on public transport.”

    […]

    About 43,000 Pakistanis live in Barcelona, and almost 89,000 in Spain overall, according to the Spanish Statistical Office.

    The drivers follow preventive measures: they wear masks, gloves and have disinfectant gel in their cars.

    […]

    In addition to the taxi drivers’ inititative, over the past two weeks, the local Pakistani community has stepped in to help.

    Grocery store owners have converted industrial warehouses into spaces taxi drivers can use to organise food parcel distribution to the homeless and families in need.

    Hundreds of masks and robes for medical workers are being sewn together at pace at the the Catalan Islamic Cultural Centre.

    […]

    Apparently, each taxi driver is allowed to work only once a week under Barcelona’s lockdown regulations.

  285. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s One Theory to rule them all thread.)

    5G coronavirus conspiracy theory driven by coordinated effort:

    […]
    Marc Owen Jones, a researcher at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, who specializes in online disinformation networks, analyzed 22,000 recent interactions on Twitter mentioning “5G” and “corona,” and said he found a large number of accounts displaying what he termed “inauthentic activity.” He said the effort bears some hallmarks of a state-backed campaign.

    “There are very strong indications that some of these accounts are a disinformation operation,” Jones said.

    Jones said the campaign uses a strategy similar to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, which was behind a disinformation campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. But he said he hasn’t yet concluded that Russia, or any other government or organization, is behind the effort.

    Blackbird.AI, a New York-based company that monitors online disinformation campaigns, […] hasn’t determined who is behind the effort, nor have the researchers at the Global Disinformation Index, a non-profit that tracks disinformation online. “We’ve definitely seen plenty of organized disinfo around 5G-coronavirus,” said Danny Rogers, the index’s co-founder.

    […]

    Conspiracy theories about health risks associated with 5G have circulated since at least 2016. They were first spread on internet forums and YouTube, and were later picked up by the website InfoWars and Russian state broadcaster RT, which published stories cautioning that 5G could be a global catastrophe, causing cancer in humans and wildlife.

    Earlier this year, as Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, began to spread from China to the rest of the world, fringe groups began claiming that the virus was linked to 5G technology. The claims may have originated with comments made by a doctor in Belgium, saying he believed 5G was life-threatening and connected to the coronavirus, while noting that he had not done a fact-check, according to an article in Wired magazine. The newspaper that printed his comments retracted the story, but that didn’t stop the conspiracy theory from gaining traction.

    [… U]sers of online forums such as 4chan have encouraged people to vandalize 5G equipment.

    In recent days, at least 20 mobile phone masts have been attacked in the UK, some set on fire, and British telecommunications companies have issued statements saying the 5G conspiracy theory has led to abuse of their employees. Some users of 4chan celebrated the news that 5G mobile phone masts had been targeted by arsonists and encouraged copycat actions.

    There is no scientific basis for the concerns, according to Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading. “The idea that Covid-19 is caused by 5G mobile phone signals is complete rubbish,” said Clarke. “5G radio signals are electromagnetic waves, very similar to those already used by mobile phones.”

    “Electromagnetic waves are one thing, viruses are another, and you can’t get a virus off a phone mast.”

    […]

  286. says

    Trying to reopen society without widespread testing is ridiculous

    When it comes to talk of re-opening society, experts and Trump have very different ideas in mind.

    […] The threat will not have disappeared, and the prospect of a vaccine is still on the horizon. Common sense suggests the response after social distancing will require, among other things, extensive testing and everything associated with it — expanded availability of supplies, far more testing facilities, an army of qualify lab technicians, etc.

    Without testing, we could see society re-open, only to invite a deadly second wave.

    Except, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to agree. [Trump] told reporters yesterday, “Hopefully we’re going to be opening up — you can call it ‘opening’ very, very — very, very soon.” When a reporter asked about the importance of making sure people are safe before re-entering workplaces, Trump was … vague.

    “We want to have it, and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We’re talking about 325 million people. And that’s not going to happen, as you can imagine.”

    At the same briefing, a reporter reminded the president that Scott Gottlieb, who led the FDA during the first two years of the Trump administration, has talked about 750,000 tests per week being needed before the economy is opened.

    “I don’t like using the word ‘needed’ because I don’t think it’s ‘needed,'” the president replied, adding that the administration would “try” to reach such a figure, though it’s “a very high number.” […]

  287. says

    More Attorney General William Barr’s stupidity and partisanship:

    […]he made clear that he’s still upset about the investigation into the Russia scandal. In fact, the Republican lawyer used some rather striking language, insisting the federal probe calling it “was one of the greatest travesties in American history,” involving federal law enforcement taking actions intended to “sabotage the presidency.”

    But just as importantly, Barr said the investigation itself was started “without any basis.” And that, by any fair measure, is a difficult position to take seriously. […]

    As an Associated Press report noted today, the attorney general “offered no support for his assertion that the FBI lacked a basis for opening the investigation and made no mention of the fact that the bureau began its probe after a Trump campaign adviser purported to have early knowledge that Russia had dirt on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.”

    What’s more, let’s not forget that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a report months ago on the origins of the investigation into the Russia scandal, and he found largely the opposite of what Barr claimed this week.

    The 434-page report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI and the Justice Department launched their investigation into the 2016 campaign not for political reasons, but because of evidence the Russian government was using cutouts to reach out to the Trump campaign as part of its efforts to influence the election…. Horowitz found that political bias did not taint the actions of former FBI leaders who have frequently been the subject of presidential attacks.

    While the inspector general also pointed to application mistakes the FBI made, and those missteps matter, Horowitz nevertheless found that the FBI’s Russia investigation was legitimate, fully justified, and untainted by political bias.

    And yet, there’s the attorney general saying the opposite.

    At this point, some of you are probably wondering why anyone should care. After all, the Russia probe appears to have run its course. Bill Barr peddling false claims on Fox News about a scandal from the recent past is annoying, but perhaps it’s not altogether relevant.

    Except, it is, because as far as the attorney general is concerned, this remains a live issue. In fact, Barr tapped John Durham, a top federal prosecutor in Connecticut, to investigate the investigation based on his faulty assumptions about a “travesty” of historic proportions.

    Barr even suggested this week that he’s prepared to bring prosecutions against those Durham targets.

    I care that the attorney general is wrong, but I care more about what Barr intends to do about his misguided assumptions.

    Link

  288. says

    G liveblog:

    Apple and Google have announced an unprecedented collaboration to open up their mobile operating systems to allow for the creation of advanced contact-tracing apps, the two companies have announced.

    In theory, such apps could help allow nations to lift their lockdowns earlier, by letting authorities much more readily identify new clusters of infection and help those who have been exposed to a person with Covid-19 self-isolate before they themselves become infectious.

    They would work by using the bluetooth technology in mobile phones to keep track of every other phone a person comes into close contact with over the course of a day; if that person later finds they have Covid-19, they can use the same system to alert all those people, dating back to before they would have become infectious.

    Similar apps have already been trialled in nations including Singapore, but they have been held back by a combination of reduced uptake – the Singaporean app is used by 12 percept of the city, limiting its effectiveness – and difficulties in working around privacy protections built into the iOS and Android operating systems.

    It is those limits that Apple and Google will be lifting, the companies announced today.

  289. says

    Franklin Graham Tries To Explain Necessity Of Filling Central Park Field Hospital With Bigots

    In late March, it was announced that Samaritan’s Purse, the non-profit “humanitarian aid organization” run by evangelist Franklin Graham, would be setting up a field hospital in Central Park in order to help people sick with COVID-19. This would have been a very lovely thing for them to do, were it not for the requirement that any doctor or nurse who wanted to volunteer to work at the facility sign a contract swearing that they not only believe in Jesus, but that they also believe abortion is bad and gay people don’t deserve the right to get married.

    Beyond anything else, this just seems like an inefficient way of going about things in the middle of a pandemic. There can’t be too many doctors and nurses out there who are both still really steamed about gay people getting married — especially in New York. One would think that in a situation like this, they’d take what they can get. But choosy beggar that he is, Franklin Graham is doubling down on this. He explained in an interview with the Charlotte Observer that this was fine and normal because he also wasn’t allowing “drunks or drug addicts” or people who swear or try to pick up girls to volunteer either.

    Via The Charlotte Observer:

    “All of our doctors and nurses and staff, (they’re) Christians,” he said. “We believe it’s very important that — as we serve people and help people — we do it in Jesus’ name. […]

    “Of course, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s part of who we are. So we have a long list of things we want people to understand and agree with before we take them to work with us. I don’t want a person who is going to be on the job and drinks; that’s not a good witness. I don’t want a person who’s going to be using drugs to be part of our team. I don’t want someone who’s going to be swearing to be part of our team. I don’t want someone who is trying to pick up girls, and using this as an opportunity to do those kinds of things.

    “So, we try to screen the people that work with us. And we want men and women who believe the way we do and have the same core values that we have.”

    Now, one can see why it might be a bad idea to have drunks or drug addicts working in a field hospital. My mom worked in an ER and I’ve heard some stories! I can even see why one might think it was a bad idea for doctors and nurses to go around swearing. or picking up ladies. That’s not really appropriate professional behavior. But what on earth does Graham think is going to happen if people who don’t hate gay people — or even gay people themselves — volunteer? Or people who believe in abortion? What on earth does that have to do with anything? What possible scenario does he think this could lead to?

    […] They would have far more volunteers at their field hospital if they weren’t being gross bigots. An Episcopal church that is considered to be the largest cathedral in the world was going to be used as a field hospital — until church leaders found out that Samaritan’s Purse was involved and requiring all volunteers to be gross bigots. […]

    “When God made man, he never intended for man to have disease. And to have death. He put us in a perfect world. The climate was perfect. The conditions were perfect. The food to eat. But man rebelled against God. And the Bible is very clear that, as a result of this rebellion against God, we live in what we call ‘a fallen world.’ So we have cancer. We have the coronavirus. We have diabetes. We have all of the other problems we have as a society. We have murder, we have thefts. […]

    “But that wasn’t God’s intention. That’s why God sent his son Jesus Christ to take our sins. And Christ died for our sins. That’s why we celebrate Easter.”

    Let me get this straight. God invented man and everything was good and perfect, but one day Adam and Eve “rebelled” by eating an apple they weren’t supposed to eat, so God was like “That’s it! You guys all get cancer now! And diabetes! And coronavirus!”

    That then continued on for however many years, until 2000 years ago when God sent his kid who was also himself down to earth to be crucified, in order to “take our sins,” but we still get cancer and diabetes and coronavirus? And then just a few months ago, God was like, “That’s it! People are not paying enough attention to me and doing stuff I don’t want them to do! I’m gonna give them all a super deadly virus!”

    Shit, no wonder these people love Donald Trump. He acts exactly like they imagine God does.

    It should be noted that this field hospital Franklin’s group set up is the field hospital where the QAnon people think all of the “mole children” are being held. I’m not sure that any of these things are related, but you never know.

  290. says

    Whatever cr is on about @ #376, there is no evidence governors, mayors, businesses, or people who are making reasoned decisions about lockdowns have made or would make those decisions on the basis of anything Trump promises or threatens. In any event, the point is that the decisions are made by governors, mayors, businesses, and people, and a president can’t cancel them. This is from a post in the Guardian liveblog just now: “Asked [during today’s endless propaganda session] whether he would open up the US again next month if his advisers presented him with evidence that there would be a dramatic spike of coronavirus cases,…” Why the hell are reporters constantly asking him about this and treating it like it’s a thing? It’s not. It’s so strange. They could revise the CDC guidelines, although as I’ve said I think Fauci and Birx would resign or be fired before they went along with it if it wasn’t warranted by the science. But local officials, businesses, and people have been setting policy and making decisions regardless of the guidelines all along. Trump can’t decide to “open up the US.” That’s not our system.

  291. says

    G liveblog: “In Washington, Trump has said that deciding whether to ease recommendations on social distancing might be one of the biggest decisions, if not the biggest one, he’ll have to make.”

    LOL. Please let him continue to think his “recommendations” are hugely relevant.

  292. says

    Further to #360 above – G liveblog:

    Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro – already under fire for his cavalier reaction to the pandemic – has sparked further outrage by ignoring social distancing rules twice in the last 48 hours and being caught on camera shaking the hand of an elderly woman just seconds after wiping his nose with his wrist.

    The nose-wipe handshake was caught on camera by one of Brazil’s major TV networks, Globo, and quickly went viral on social media.

    Bolsonaro’s political foes and critics responded immediately. Humberto Costa, a leftwing senator, accused Brazil’s president of being “an ally of the virus” and “repeatedly committing crimes against public health”.

    Another critic, the journalist William De Lucca, tweeted: “I think perhaps this is the best video showing how NOT to act during a pandemic”.

    Bolsonaro has repeatedly attacked what he calls the media “hysteria” over coronavirus and thumbed his nose at his own health ministry’s social distancing guidelines on Thursday and Friday with high-profile trips to a bakery and a pharmacy. During both outings Bolsonaro was booed by detractors.

    On Friday, Brazil’s coronavirus death toll rose to 1,057, up from 941 the previous day and nearly three times higher than last Friday’s figure.

  293. says

    G liveblog:

    Trump promises to listen to expert advice on reopening the economy. The US president says he is creating a second task force that will include a council tasked with deciding when to ease restrictions. But Donald Trump, who has repeatedly pushed the idea, insists he is not determined to reopen the economy if he is advised that to do so would endanger public health.

    Is everyone high? He literally cannot do this.

  294. says

    Reuters – “Moscow mayor warns city of ‘serious test’ as coronavirus numbers climb”:

    The mayor of Moscow urged residents of the capital to brace for a “serious test” from the new coronavirus and said the city would introduce a system of permits for movement to help enforce a lockdown, as infection numbers shot up across Russia.

    The country reported 1,786 new cases, bringing its tally to 11,917, even as Moscow and many other regions neared the end of their second week in a state of lockdown aimed at halting the contagion. Ninety-four people have died, authorities say.

    In the bustling capital of more than 12.5 million that has become the focus of the Russian outbreak, new cases not only jumped 1,124 to almost 8,000, but the number of patients being hospitalised has also doubled in recent days, one official said.

    “I can tell you for sure that there has been no peak yet whatsoever. We are at the foothills of the peak, not even in the middle,” Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency published on Friday.

    “I can only say that a serious test lies before us and we need to be preparing for it,” he said.

    In a televised address on Friday, Sobyanin said the city would gradually begin introducing a system of passes for residents wanting to move around the city so that authorities could enforce the shutdown.

    In Moscow, the influx of patients is already pushing hospitals and ambulances towards their limit, said Deputy Mayor Anastasiya Rakova….

  295. says

    NEW: Trump spoke of his ‘absolute authority’ to re-open the economy, calling it ‘the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make’.

    Governors, mayors and economists are rolling their eyes:

    ‘The government can’t force you to take risks you don’t want to take’.”

    This!

  296. KG says

    blf@364,

    The care/nursing home system in the UK was already in crisis before the pandemic. Staff shortages (unsurprising given the low pay), many commercially-run chains close to bankruptcy – partly because local authorities don’t pay the full cost of residents they pay for (those who have less than £20,000 in assets), partly because some of them have been taken over by exploiters who load them with debt, repeated scandals of neglect and mistratment. The government is (still) planning to make things worse with new restrictions on immigration, only allowing “skilled workers” with well-paid jobs in – of course, looking after frail, in many cases demented old people in a way that protects their comfort and dignity doen’t require any skills at all (/s, if it’s really necessary). Care home workers are almost universally working without PPE. So it’s hard not to suspect that some in