Saturday, March 14, 2020

Last Call That Poll-Asked Look, Con't

Your political beliefs, like everything else in America in 2020, drives your beliefs involving COVID-19.

Two-thirds of Americans are concerned that they or someone they know will be infected with the novel coronavirus, but in a country with a growing partisan divide, political tribalism is having a large impact when it comes to anxiety over the disease, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

Although unease over the coronavirus is high, it also strongly breaks along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 83% are concerned about getting coronavirus, including 47% who are very concerned, and among Republicans, 56% are concerned, including only 15% who are very concerned. Only 17% of Democrats are not concerned while a larger 44% of Republicans are not concerned.

And here's why there's no hope in flattening the curve to prevent the virus from overwhelming hospital resources:

Partisanship appears to be the most decisive factor of Americans' concerns, even more than age. While 29% of 18-29-year-olds are very concerned about catching the illness, 25% of people over 65 years old said the same
Currently in the United States, there are at least 1,663 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

A majority of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the president's handling of the response to the coronavirus, while 43% approve. Still, partisanship continues to fuel attitudes towards the White House's response, with the same amount of Democrats disapproving of Trump's managing of the health crisis as Republicans approving, 86%. Only 14% of Democrats approve, and 11% of Republicans disapprove.

It gets much, much worse.

But overall, relatively few Americans have changed their behavior since the coronavirus has landed here.

Only 3% said they are now working from home due to the coronavirus. And while about one-quarter of Americans said their lives had been disrupted in some way, either by canceling going out to dinner, taking a vacation, or opting to not vote in person, among other options, 73% have not canceled or postponed activities or events in their daily lives.

The vast majority of Americans are going about their daily lives as if there is no virus.  They don't believe they will catch it.  They believe everything is a massive overreaction, especially if they are a GOP voter, and that they believe Trump is doing a great job.

There is no hope of flattening the curve at this point if this is even remotely true.  None.  A week from now everyone will be stir crazy and back at their favorite watering hole, restaurant, movie theater, club, VFW post, gym, whatever.

By the time people realize that we're screwed as a country, it will be far, far too late.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

The actual leader of the United States has arrived with a real plan to help all Americans through COVID-19, and that leader is Nancy Goddamn Pelosi.

The House overwhelmingly passed an economic relief bill early Saturday for the coronavirus, dedicating tens of billions of dollars for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, free testing and other measures to help Americans impacted by the crisis. 
The 363-40 vote — gaveled down just before 1 a.m. — capped two days of volatile negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that threatened to fall apart entirely for hours Friday amid GOP misgivings. But even after President Trump criticized House Democrats at an afternoon news conference Pelosi and Mnuchin kept at it, speaking by phone 13 times in the course of the day Friday and finally clinching a deal. 
Not long thereafter Trump endorsed the legislation over Twitter, ensuring widespread GOP support.
“This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers,” Trump wrote, adding that he was directing Cabinet secretaries to issue regulations ensuring small businesses would not be hurt by mandates in the bill.

“I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES! I will always put the health and well-being of American families FIRST,” the president wrote. “Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!”

The House vote sends the legislation to the Senate, which is expected to pass it next week after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled a planned recess so senators could act on the issue. All of the “no” votes Saturday came from Republicans, while one lawmaker — Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) — voted “present.”

The best part?

The deal was negotiated without Pelosi and Trump ever speaking, with Pelosi telling reporters Friday: “There was no need for that,” as she was working through details with Mnuchin.

The bill does provide both paid sick leave and unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 and requires companies to pay that sick leave to employees.  It also suspends state work requirements for SNAP eligibility, and does a number of other things.

...except that the sick leave isn't a guarantee, and that was the price for Republican cooperation.  The NY Times Editorial Board takes both parties to task on it, and for once, both sides did it actually applies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi early Saturday celebrated passage of legislation she described as providing paid sick leave to American workers affected by the coronavirus.

She neglected to mention the fine print.

In fact, the bill guarantees sick leave only to about 20 percent of workers. Big employers like McDonald’s and Amazon are not required to provide any paid sick leave, while companies with fewer than 50 employees can seek hardship exemptions from the Trump administration.

“If you are sick, stay home,” Vice President Mike Pence said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. “You’re not going to miss a pay check.”

But that’s simply not true. Sick workers should stay home, but there is no guarantee in the emergency legislation that most of them will get paid.

The White House and congressional Republicans, who insisted on the exemptions as the price of bipartisan support for the legislation, bear the primary responsibility for the indefensible decision to prioritize corporate profits in the midst of a public health emergency.

Instead of pressing executives to support a comprehensive sick leave law, President Trump held a Rose Garden pep rally for corporate America on Friday afternoon, showering praise on the chief executives of big employers including Walmart, Target and Walgreens.

But House Democrats also failed to act in the public interest. Paying sick workers to stay at home is both good policy and good politics. Why not pass a bill that required all employers to provide paid sick leave and then force Republicans to explain their objections to the public?

The bill does require some employers to provide full-time workers with up to 10 days of paid leave. But the requirement does not apply to the nation’s largest employers — companies with 500 or more workers, who together employ roughly 54 percent of all workers.

After a Waffle House employee tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, the company refused to promise it would pay other sick workers to stay home. Now, under the new bill, it would qualify for the big-company exemption. Would Ms. Pelosi please explain why the House decided not to require Waffle House to protect its workers and customers by paying for sick leave?

The legislation also provides some compensation for workers who need to take longer leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act — but this too excludes workers at big companies.

And the bill allows the Labor Department to grant hardship exemptions to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. That category includes another 26 percent of the work force, meaning that fully 80 percent of workers may not be able to cash in on Ms. Pelosi’s rhetoric.

That sick leave for 20% of workers, at least.  It's something. It's better than nothing.

But man, it's...not optimal, you know?  It was the price demanded by the GOP, as the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass thanks to arcane congressional appropriations rules.  Republicans took their pound of flesh from American workers and who knows if the Senate GOP will exact more.

It's going to be up to states and local governments to take charge on this.  Congressional Democrats have their hands tied and Republicans are going to do at little as possible.

Most of all though, I agree that the country's reaction to COVID-19 is a vicious and complete indictment of American disaster capitalism

You wanted government run like a business?

You got it, America.

I Want My FOX News State TV

The funny thing about the COVID-19 virus is that it's exactly the kind of thing FOX News State TV wants to cover, because it's a ratings gold mine for them, so the last couple of weeks where various FOX cable hosts have been blasting the media for "excessive coverage" of the global reaction to the pandemic as a "hoax" is not going over well with FOX execs, who have pulled the plug and have changed up the lineup.

Fox Business Network said it would scrap most of its primetime schedule by putting two of its programs on hiatus “until further notice” in order to staff coverage of the coronavirus crisis elsewhere within Fox News Media.

The network said in a statement that its 8 p.m. hour, “Trish Regan Primetime,” and 9 p.m. hour, “Kennedy,” would be replaced by long form programming.

“Due to the demands of the evolving pandemic crisis coverage, we are deploying all resources from both shows for staffing needs during critical market hours,” the network’s statement said.

Regan, who hosts a show that tends to focus on the political, has generated some criticism in recent days for hosting segments suggesting that liberals were overstating the effects of the spread of coronavirus to discredit President Donald Trump. A graphic that accompanied one segment that aired Monday read “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.”
Regan launched her program in the fall of 2018, part of a bid by Fox News Media to add more live programming to the network, which also airs an early-evening program from host Lou Dobbs, and shows focused on business news during the day led by anchors such as Liz Claman, Maria Bartiromo, Stuart Varney and Neil Cavuto. Kennedy, the public name of Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, who first rose to fame as an MTV DJ, joined Fox Business as a contributor in 2012, and then began hosting a show called “The Independents.”

But Fox Media’s top executives made clear in a memo released Thursday that coronavirus coverage was going to take up more bandwidth. Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and Fox News President Jay Wallace urged employees to “keep in mind that viewers rely on us to stay informed during a crisis of this magnitude and we are providing an important public service to our audience by functioning as a resource for all Americans.” The duo said that the network would make some programming change and recalibrate its newsgathering operation to accommodate the change in the news cycle.

FOX wants to amp up the coverage, especially since it's the prime demographic of FOX News State TV viewers -- aging Boomers -- who tune in.  Don't for a second think FOX is going to have actual news on, they're just going to stoke the racist flames of "Wuhan Flu" and blaming Biden and the Democrats and their Chicom Socialist allies for the disease.

It was a "hoax" before Trump declared an emergency.  Now it's fear, fear, fear 24/7, and fear and panic sells these days.

Of course FOX News State TV was going to become the very thing they've accused the rest of the media of being.

Deportation Nation, Con't

How's this for upside-down: Mexico's Health Minister is definitely hinting that they might close the border with the US in order to stop COVID-19.

For once, the conversation over closing the US-Mexico border is being driven by Mexican health officials who say they are considering shutting out Americans to keep coronavirus out of their country.

There are currently more than 2,000 cases of the virus in the US and it is spreading rapidly. Forty-three people have died from it.

By contrast in Mexico, there have only been 16 confirmed cases and no deaths.

At a press conference on Friday, health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said: 'Mexico wouldn't bring the virus to the United States, rather the United States would bring it here.

'The possible flow of coronavirus would come from the north to the south.

'If it were technically necessary, we would consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance,' he said

I'd close the border with us, too.

I mean, have you seen the guy in charge of that whole America hellhole?

Meanwhile, that whole "deport refugees to Guatemala" thing is shelved indefinitely after the first known cases of COVID-19 were detected today because of undoubtedly the thousands of untested cases of COVID-19 sweeping through ICE detainment camps.

Guatemala will from Monday widen travel restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus, banning arrivals from the United States and Canada, President Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday. 
"We are therefore announcing that everyone who arrives from Canada and the United States between now and midnight on Monday will be subject to quarantining," Giammattei said in a televised address. 
The president said he had also asked the Mexican government to halt deportations of migrants by land to Guatemala. 
No cruise ships will be allowed to dock, but public events and school classes would go ahead for the time being, he added. 

Yankees, go home!

And stay home. 
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