Tell me the truth, doc

I’ve been hearing so much pollyannaish bullshit from the highest offices in the land that it’s shocking when the CDC just speaks the truth. We’re fucked.

The coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to bring it under control, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

The U.S. has set records for daily new infections in recent days as outbreaks surge mostly across the South and West. The recent spike in new cases has outpaced daily infections in April when the virus rocked Washington state and the northeast, and when public officials thought the outbreak was hitting its peak in the U.S.

“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” she said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner. “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”

The Republicans want to stop testing, because it reveals an increasing number of infected. Tracing? What’s that? There’s no serious investment of resources that we’d need to do thorough tracing. The President belittles the idea of wearing a mask, and refuses to wear one himself. Conservative citizens freak out at the idea of wearing a mask. Texans marched on their capitol under the banner of “Bar Lives Matter”, committing a double self-own: refusing to police their own behavior to limit the spread of a disease, and mocking a serious social justice movement. The United States of America is now the deadliest place to live and risk COVID-19 infection, and our numbers are rising. We are in big trouble, and way too many people are refusing to take it seriously, which means the trouble is only going to get worse.

I fear the November elections will be the spark that makes this country explode…unless we’re moribund with disease by then.


  1. cartomancer says

    The British people thank you for showing us how to do things an order of magnitude worse than we are. Without you lot (and the Brazilians) we’d be the laughing stock of the world by now. Even our late, lacklustre and broadly incompetent effort has worked to get the virus somewhat under control.

    I feel deeply sorry for our family friend Randall, who lives here in rural Somerset but was visiting his family in Florida when the virus hit. He’s now right in the middle of a disaster of epic proportions, and very worried.

  2. aquietvoice says

    This is extremely morbid for me to say, but as a filthy foreigner (Australia) I’ve got to say this has really put a lid on the assorted idiots who would have said “We did all that social distancing then not many died! What a beat-up!”.

    Social distancing is still being effected very well here in part because of the stream of news about the merry citizens of the USA refusing to bow down before the tyranny of functioning lungs and getting unsurprising results.

  3. mastmaker says

    Passed through Texas once 15 years ago. The (border?) guard at the Immigration Check Station outside of El Paso did not know what a H1B renewal paper looks like and how it works! He was about to freak out that the visa on my passport had expired. I had to give him a lesson on all of this before he let us through. A very lasting impression if you ask me.

  4. raven says

    While the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases is worrying a lot of people with good reasons, the other problem is the economy.
    Unemployment right now is 15%.
    The Federal Reserve predicts that the US economy will shrink 6.5% this year.

    At this point, when the Second Great Recession is over is just a guess.
    I don’t see it happening soon.
    The choice between the economy or containing the Covid-19 virus was always a false choice.
    AFAICT, you can’t have a growing economy and a raging pandemic killing people at the same time.

    In my local area on the west coast, supposedly things have sort of partially opened up.
    Followed by an increase in Covid-19 cases.
    I’ve been out and about a few times, not actually going anywhere but looking around.
    The restaurants, bars, and coffee houses might be open, but they don’t have many customers.
    People might be free to go places but they aren’t actually…going places.

    The stresses on our society are just going to get worse as more and more people who were living pay check to pay check find themselves living from unemployment to what, food stamps and living in their car???

  5. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s current [Pandemic and] Political Madness all the Time thread.)

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic and politics live blog:

    Fauci comes under fire

    As coronavirus cases surge across the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, who lead’s the CDC’s pandemic response, is facing growing backlash from conservative leaders fed up with his warnings about states’ reopening efforts.

    He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t need his advice anymore, Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.


    Ingraham went on to accuse Fauci of working for Donald’s Trump Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

    The backlash comes following Fauci’s testimony at a senate hearing Tuesday, where he said he’s certain that more new Covid-19 cases among young Americans can be attributed to bars opening back up, and large social gatherings — even though that same demographic marched side-by-side in major cities.

    [… T]he data backs up Fauci: parties, not protests are the cause for spikes in young people.

  6. raven says

    I fear the November elections will be the spark that makes this country explode…unless we’re moribund with disease by then.

    Not too sure I’d worry about the right wingnuts and their freedumb to drink in bars and get sick with Covid-19. Or the ooged boogedy xians who have started so many large clusters of disease in their churches that it is getting hard to count them.

    Right now we are on track to have a raging pandemic in November, the children’s schools and universities will either be partially closed or all closed, and the economy will still be in a major recession.

    People are going to be too broke and too scared of going out in groups to do much.

  7. raven says

    Death threats target L.A. County health director – Los Angeles … › california › story › la-county-healt…

    Jun 22, 2020 – Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she’s received threats … across the state who are receiving additional security following threats…

    This isn’t helping.
    Public health officials have been getting death threats.
    To the point, where some now have body guards.

    Health care workers are also being attacked in the USA.

    Not too sure what is going on here.
    It looks like someone is literally trying to shoot the messengers here.

  8. jrkrideau says

    @3 aquietvoice
    I’ve got to say this has really put a lid on the assorted idiots who would have said “We did all that social distancing then not many died! What a beat-up!”.

    I had not thought of it that way and despite a few very stupid people—including politicians who probably are human—here in Canada we seem to have a lot less kickback about safety measures. Our next-door neighbour is a good object lesson.

    The worst part is that we may have to set up a sort of Iron Curtain to protect ourselves from our biggest trading partner and closest neighbour. Visiting friends and relations may remain a dream for a long time.

  9. Saad says

    This is basically the culmination of the “I got mine, fuck you” mentality. Also they consider any personal inconvenience to be a violation of their human rights and an attack on what it means to be American, blah blah blah.

  10. R. L. Foster says

    Exactly. Where’s the tracing? A much younger acquaintance of ours had a high fever, went to the ER, was tested and found to be infected with the virus. He did not require hospitalization, so they told him to take ibuprofen and sent him on his way and that was that. Did anyone come knocking to ask him about his contacts? Of course not, this is America and we don’t do that. He’s supposed to quarantine for the next two weeks, but that’s up to him. It’s pretty much optional. There are no sanctions if he goes out and infects a hundred others and 5% of them succumb to the disease.

    A quick aside. My wife teaches at W&M and the gallows humor joke among the faculty is that the first frat party of the new school year will kill us all.

  11. microraptor says

    It’s like a zombie movie, where the cast insists that zombies aren’t real and continually walks out to the shambling hordes in order to scream at them that they need to get back to work.

  12. VolcanoMan says

    When we look back at this crisis and start to assign blame and demand changes in policy resulting from the lessons learned here, I really hope that people will not forget that the only people who could have (maybe) prevented the worst of this are the Chinese government (which was more interested in censoring doctors than listening to their urgent warnings – decisive action in China could have saved most of the Chinese people who died from this virus, nevermind the rest of the world), and more importantly (from a global perspective), the WHO. As soon as it was obvious that this virus could spread from person to person, there was no excuse for not making a serious attempt to prevent its spread across borders. If the WHO had done the right thing and put their JOB (protecting peoples’ health) ahead of politics by strongly and clearly recommending ON January 21st (when person-to-person spread was officially confirmed) that ALL countries immediately stop flights from (and to) China (with exceptions for repatriation that included mandatory 14-day quarantine), there MIGHT have been a chance that this didn’t turn into a global pandemic (Italy banned flights on January 31st, and it didn’t work, so there was a VERY narrow window of time in which decisive action could have stopped this virus in its tracks). Doing this would absolutely have caused some minor economic damage, but NOT a recession. Now obviously, the WHO doesn’t have the power to force countries to comply and some may not have, but I think giving Trump an opportunity to dunk on China with a ready-made EXCUSE (the WHO told me to) virtually guarantees that America would have followed the advice. Furthermore, if some countries didn’t implement these restrictions, it would have been feasible for the countries that DID to also prevent flights from THOSE countries in response. And if the EU nations, America, Canada, the UK, etc. were all amongst the places that took the advice, and were threatening to cut off any nation that did not, there is every reason to believe that the rest of the world would’ve followed suit. Hopefully the world has learned its lesson from this chaos…it’s just too bad that it’s cost so many lives (incidentally, it’s darkly amusing to me that the world was totally willing to seal off the West African countries during the Ebola pandemic, but not China during this one…hmm, I wonder what’s the difference between Liberia and China…I wonder…..).

    Anyway, it’s important to note that while an early flight ban would have been a good thing, it would NOT have prevented this from spreading elsewhere. In fact, there were at least one or two cases of CoViD in America BEFORE person-to-person spread was confirmed. However, if American politicians had done the right thing and made this their number 1 priority, instituting large-scale testing and contact-tracing in early February, and passing mandatory stay-at-home orders in late February (if there had still been some community spread that wasn’t stopped by their initial measures), not only would this have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, it would have minimized the economic damage. This didn’t have to be a MASSIVE recession. Taiwan took decisive action and their economy is now virtually back to normal (South Korea too, although they have seen a small second-wave). If America had listened to the medical and scientific communities, this would be basically OVER right now (and with vigilance, any second and third-waves would also have minimal effect). And then, to make things even worse, they went and tried to re-open the economy back in May (against the advice of every single credible epidemiologist) creating the chaos that we see today.

    All of this leads me to wonder if the American response would have been the same had this not been an election year. Politicians (especially the GOP) have been denying reality for years with no ill effects (to them anyway – plenty of other people have been harmed by their campaigns of anti-science nonsense). It’s no surprise that they tried to hope and pray this virus away, rather than biting the bullet and accepting SOME economic damage in order to prevent wide-scale death and a catastrophic recession. So it’s very clearly not just China and the WHO who need a reckoning here – there is PLENTY of blame to go around, and plenty of cultural changes that need to be made. I just hope that the lessons learned will not be quickly forgotten, because this virus is not nearly as bad as it could have been. If it had been both easy-to-spread AND more fatal than 1 to 2% (or whatever the current estimation is), we’d be FAR more screwed than we are now. And there is every chance that there is a virus out there that is just one or two mutations away from becoming a worst-case scenario for humanity. Maybe all of this death will be worthwhile if we learn from our mistakes and refrain from making them again.

  13. mnb0 says

    “The Republicans want to stop testing”
    That perfectly fits in their program to take down the USA as a superpower (the previous step being electing a clown into the White House).

    “the spark that makes this country explode”
    Many non-Americans will lookforward to it.

    “The United States of America is now the deadliest place to live”
    Nah, only second after Brazil and that Bolsonaro guy.
    You know, I begin to suspect that COVID-19 is a plague send by some god or another after all. Granted, the instrument is blunt, but still sensible people run considerably less risk.
    (pulls tongue out of cheek)

    In the meantime I’m waiting for the second wave, which hit Suriname very hard.

    @14 Volcano Man: ” If the WHO had done the right thing and put their JOB ….”
    The WHO totally did by urging to test, test and test from the very beginning. It’s the American and Dutch governments who didn’t listen, which is why The Netherlands are 5th or 6th on the list of deadly casualties in Europe.

  14. garnetstar says

    I’m more afraid than I was at the beginning. My state, mercifully, used lockdown to get things under control and is now doing very well, cases are down and down every day. But, what’s next? The governor builds a wall around the border and stations archers on the turrets? Next we’ll be pouring boiling oil over the walls.

    I think that they’re going to bring it back here again, and it’ll be the same thing, all over again, except that everyone will end up getting it, because when it’s this out of control there is no other outcome.

  15. unclefrogy says

    I fear the November elections will be the spark that makes this country explode…unless we’re moribund with disease by then.

    who says we can’t have both kind of an explosion in garbage dump
    If this particular set of circumstances helps the countries of the world get better organized to face these types of world wide challenges there will be some good come out of it. Have no doubt this will not be the last time it is just the begging of the challenges yet to come brought on by population growth, international travel ease and global warming/climate change.
    uncle frogy

  16. jrkrideau says

    @ 10 blf

    …US citizens are crossing border on pretext of visiting Alaska

    Yes, I saw somthing similar on CBC the other day but complete with RCMP charging the US idiots but only with ~$1,500 fines. If it gets more common there is probably a way to seize property such as vehicles until a trial if needed. And there is always the likelihood of a prohibited weapons charge since US residents often don’t take our weapons laws seriously.

    I suspect that this is one thing that will get Canadians a bit annoyed. We already have reports of cars with US licences getting keyed, and these are cars that are legitimately in the country. Heck, in some cases out-of-province cars are being vandalized.

    I suspect that a US accent and licence may result in a lot of calls to the police in the next little while.

  17. jrkrideau says

    @ 14 VolcanoMan

    the Chinese government (which was more interested in censoring doctors than listening to their urgent warnings


    Dr Li, who was somewhat unfairly reprimanded,was on WeChat after the Wuhan CDC had been notified and one day before Beijing CDC was notified on the 31st of December 2019.

    On roughly 02 or 03 Jan 2020 Beijing notified WHO of an unknown repository disease.

    On January 7, 2020, China confirmed what COVID-19 was to WHO.

    By this time countries such as Taiwan, Mongolia, South Korea, Singapore, were on full alert, testing, contact tracing,etc.

    On January 15, 2020, a bit belatedly the Public Health Agency of Canada activated the Emergency Operation Centre to support Canada’s response to COVID-19.

    dog knows what the Gov’ts of countries such an tho UK and the USA were doing.

  18. springa73 says

    Unfortunately, it seems like most people’s instinctive reaction will be to blame another country (China, the US, Brazil, whoever) rather than to look critically at mistakes made in their own country. Not helpful at all, but the path of least resistance for most people.

  19. KG says

    clearly recommending ON January 21st (when person-to-person spread was officially confirmed) that ALL countries immediately stop flights from (and to) China (with exceptions for repatriation that included mandatory 14-day quarantine), there MIGHT have been a chance that this didn’t turn into a global pandemic (Italy banned flights on January 31st, and it didn’t work, so there was a VERY narrow window of time in which decisive action could have stopped this virus in its tracks) – Volcano Man@14

    By January 21st, the virus had already been present in Europe for more than a month:

    18 December
    “The Italian National Institute of Health looked at 40 sewage samples collected from wastewater treatment plants in northern Italy between October 2019 and February 2020. An analysis released on Thursday said samples taken in Milan and Turin on Dec. 18 showed the presence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.”
    27 December
    Respiratory samples from a man hospitalized in Paris, France were retrospectively diagnosed as having SARS-CoV-2 virus present.

    So no, it makes no sense at all to claim that halting flights from China on January 21st would have stopped the pandemic. It might have slowed it down – it depends where other countries got their first infections from, but for the USa and most European countries that seems to have been the earliest European countries to have an outbreak, primarily Italy. I favoured banning all but essential air travel anywhere sometime around late January or early February (I can’t recall exactly), but the governments that failed to lockdown fast – particularly those in rich countries that could afford to do so and provide support for their people – have at least an equal share of the blame with China. The WHO could possibly have acted a bit sooner on information from Taiwan, but only if they’d been prepared to risk doing so without confirmation.

  20. says

    @#1, cartomancer:

    Adjusted for population size, the UK certainly gives the US a run for its money, so don’t get too smug.

    @#5, raven:

    Yep. And the Democrats are running a budget hawk who thinks the Green New Deal is too expensive to implement, and that your health insurance should be linked to your employment, so this problem is not going away. The US has been destroying its own future for decades, and we have reached the point where apparently most citizens are just totally incapable of telling the difference any more, and somehow think our two parties are opposites when they’re really just different flavors of the same thing.

    @#11, Saad:

    Nah, this isn’t the culmination yet, just a notable milestone along the way. The actual culmination will be roughly 30 years from now, when climate change really starts killing people on a large scale and the economy is still dead (which it pretty certainly will be, basically because we’re going to stick with capitalism no matter how thoroughly it demonstrates itself incapable of dealing with any of this).

  21. says

    Here in Australia most states have the virus pretty much under control, except for some poorer suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. Apparently the authorities didn’t realise that only publishing guidelines in English wouldn’t reach families who don’t speak much English. So, so long as borders stay controlled (and visitors are tracked) we are free to do just about anything within our states. Travel to and from the USA remains on the banned list.

  22. cartomancer says

    The Vicar, #26

    I didn’t say we haven’t suffered badly. What I said was even our efforts have just about got the virus under control. The UK hasn’t (yet?) seen the curve flick upwards again like the US has. We’re down to about 100-200 deaths per day by now (down from over 1000 at the start of April), and new infections per day under a thousand. We have taken far longer than comparable countries like France to do this (they’re down to about 30 deaths per day), the rate of decline seems to have slowed almost to nothing, and we may go backwards in future, but at the moment the UK is going in the right direction as far as getting on top of the virus goes, and the US is going in the wrong direction.

    Which is not to big up or excuse our piss-poor response in any way. My point was that, thanks to Trump and his goons, even the world’s third-worst response to the virus is streets ahead of his.