Sunday, March 22, 2020

Last Call For Trump Goes Viral, Con't

The official position of the Trump regime on COVID-19 is now "It's all Communist China's fault!"

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow at a rapid pace in the U.S., the White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a “cover-up” and creating a global pandemic, according to two U.S. officials and a government cable obtained by The Daily Beast. 
The cable, sent to State Department officials Friday, lays out in detail the circumstances on the ground in China, including data on coronavirus cases and deaths, the local business environment and transportation restrictions. But it also issues guidelines for how U.S. officials should answer questions on, or speak about, the coronavirus and the White House’s response in relation to China. 
The talking points appear to have originated in the National Security Council. One section of the cable reads “NSC Top Lines: [People’s Republic of China] Propaganda and Disinformation on the Wuhan Virus Pandemic.”

“Chinese Communist Party officials in Wuhan and Beijing had a special responsibility to inform the Chinese people and the world of the threat, since they were the first to learn of it,” the cable reads. “Instead, the... government hid news of the virus from its own people for weeks, while suppressing information and punishing doctors and journalists who raised the alarm. The Party cared more about its reputation than its own people’s suffering.”

If this sounds like the Trump regime is projecting its sins onto Beijing, that's because they are.  It doesn't mean Beijing didn't lie about COVID-19 and allowed it to escape globally and that they endangered the globe, but it doesn't let Trump off the hook for the same thing, you know?

The cable was disseminated to officials at a time when the administration is engrossed in a communications battle around how to disseminate the flow of crucial health information to the American public while at the same time deflecting criticism that the White House was unprepared for the pandemic and that President Trump is at odds with members of his coronavirus task force.

One of the results of those internal deliberations appears to be a renewed focus on underscoring China’s missteps. Two U.S. officials working on the administration’s coronavirus response said the White House is pushing federal agencies to stick closely to the national security council’s talking points, especially when senior officials take to the podium, to ensure continuity with President Trump.

“These talking points are all anyone is really talking about right now,” one official said. “Everything is about China. We’re being told to try and get this messaging out in any way possible, including press conferences and television appearances.”

It's also a ready-made vehicle to attack Joe Biden with for being "soft on China" the way "soft on Russia" is a problem (and Trump is soft on Russia, and it's a problem.)  Expect Trump to attack China relentlessly and for Chinese-Americans (and Asian-Americans in general, because racist prick Trump voters can't tell a Laotian from a Laplander) to bear the brunt just like American Muslims have since 2001 and black folk have since 1619.

It's comically obvious, and it will work to keep Trump slavering hordes on his side through the deaths and the economic collapse. He'll need it too.  He's the least liked incumbent since Truman at this point, and Truman literally nuked two Japanese cities. CNN's Harry Enten (formally Nate Silver's numbers guy) gives Biden in 2-in-3 chance at this point.

Of course, Hillary had even better numbers...and lost.

Oh, and top of everything else, Sen. Rand Paul, the lone Senate vote against the COVID-19 packages so far, has now tested positive for the virus and most likely has exposed several members of Congress to it.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office announced on Twitter Sunday.

Why it matters: He's the first U.S. senator to test positive. According to his office, Paul is asymptomatic and was not aware of making direct contact with an infected person.
Paul, a licensed physician and notorious deficit hawk, was the only senator to vote against a bipartisan $8 billion deal to provide emergency coronavirus funding earlier this month. 
He sought to introduce an amendment that would take the funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, but it was voted down 80-16. 
Paul may be considered a high-risk patient for coronavirus. In August 2019, the senator tweeted that he had part of his lung removed during surgery after it was damaged in a 2017 assault by his neighbor.

What they're saying: 
"Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person. He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time. Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul."— Rand Paul's office on Twitter

But senators have come in contact, particularly Republican senators.

The Senate is set to vote on a massive "Phase 3" coronavirus relief package on Monday. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have proposed a resolution calling for remote voting, which could potentially be prioritized now that a senator has officially tested positive for the virus.

Bet this will get passed.

The Tri-State Area Shuts Down

Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine is joining several large states in issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order beginning Monday night through April 6.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in his update Sunday Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton is ordering a stay at home order or shelter in place order for all Ohioans. The order is in effect beginning 11:59 p.m. Monday and is in effect through April 6.

"We are at war," he said. "And in a time of war we have to make sacrifices."

He said we are at a crucial time in the war and what we do now will slow the invading virus and buy time for hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.

Ohio stay-at-home order exceptions include leaving home for essential activities for health and safety, necessary supplies and services, outdoor activity (but playgrounds closed), "essential" work to take care of others such as a family member, friend or pet in another household.

The governor is also ordering nonessential businesses to close.

This follows orders a week ago to bars and restaurants, and other businesses, such as barber shops, hair and nail salons and movie theaters, bowling alleys and other recreation venue.

There are health, safety, and food exceptions:

  • If it's a matter of health and safety: This includes seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional.
  • For necessary supplies and services: To obtain groceries or food, household consumer products, supplies needed to work from home get auto supplies (including dealers, parts, repair and maintenance).
  • For outdoor activity: These include walking, hiking, running or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open recreation areas, however, playgrounds are closed.
  • Certain types of work: To perform work providing essential products and services
  • To take care of others: Including a family member, friend or pet in another household and to transport those as allowed by the order. This includes weddings and funerals.

We'll see how seriously people take this order.  I expect that for the most part, everyone will comply, but I also expect a hell of a lot of panic buying and people in the Cincinnati area driving to Indiana and Kentucky to do things.

Speaking of Kentucky, Gov. Beshear is also shuttering all non-essential businesses "to in-person traffic" as of Monday night, but stopping short of shelter-in-place.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 16 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky Sunday as the number of cases rose to 103, reaching triple digits for the first time with more cases expected to come. He also said all non-essential businesses in Kentucky must close to in-person traffic by 8 p.m Monday.

At least three of those novel coronavirus cases are in Fayette County, bringing the total in Lexington to 15. There were five new cases in Jefferson County, one in Christian County, one in Hardin County, one in Henderson County and one in Northern Kentucky. The location of four new cases has not yet been reported.

“The number of people that get the coronavirus isn’t going to be nearly as important as the number of people who get better after getting the coronavirus,” Beshear said.

Beshear’s numbers do not appear to include new cases reported Sunday in Jessamine and Madison County. Also Sunday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 despite having no symptoms.

While grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores and gas stations will be allowed to stay open, Beshear’s order will shutter places like clothing stores, book stores, sporting good stores and all other places that sell items that aren’t considered critical.

Beshear said unemployment applications are up 30 times compared to this time last year, which he said is a good thing because there should be no stigma in receiving public assistance.

Oh, and there's still no test kits in the area.

We'll see if any neighboring states follow suit.  Pennsylvania already has. Michigan would probably be next but Gov. Whitmer is not considering going that far.  For my Ohio and Kentucky readers, stay at home, stay safe, follow the guidelines.  Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a similar order for his state effective 5 PM tomorrow, I would expect Indiana to get around to it at some point too.

Every needs to pay attention, the situation is moving quickly.

Sunday Long Read: Passing The Test

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant has been fighting the world's deadliest communicable diseases for decades, and his interview with Wired Magazine's Steven Levy is both informative and sobering. Our Sunday Long Read is on what to expect from COVID-19 from the man who helped eradicate smallpox.

LARRY BRILLIANT SAYS he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick," he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.” 
Now the unthinkable is here, and Brilliant, the Chairman of the board of Ending Pandemics, is sharing expertise with those on the front lines. We are a long way from 100 million deaths due to the novel coronavirus, but it has turned our world upside down. Brilliant is trying not to say “I told you so” too often. But he did tell us so, not only in talks and writings, but as the senior technical advisor for the pandemic horror film Contagion, now a top streaming selection for the homebound. 
Besides working with the World Health Organization in the effort to end smallpox, Brilliant, who is now 75, has fought flu, polio, and blindness; once led Google’s nonprofit wing,; co-founded the conferencing system the Well; and has traveled with the Grateful Dead. 
We talked by phone on Tuesday. At the time, President Donald Trump’s response to the crisis had started to change from “no worries at all” to finally taking more significant steps to stem the pandemic. Brilliant lives in one of the six Bay Area counties where residents were ordered to shelter in place. When we began the conversation, he’d just gotten off the phone with someone he described as high government official, who asked Brilliant “How the fuck did we get here?” I wanted to hear how we’ll get out of here. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Steven Levy: I was in the room in 2006 when you gave that TED talk. Your wish was “Help Me Stop Pandemics.” You didn't get your wish, did you? 
Larry Brilliant: No, I didn't get that wish at all, although the systems that I asked for have certainly been created and are being used. It's very funny because we did a movie, Contagion— 
SL: We're all watching that movie now.

LB: People say Contagion is prescient. We just saw the science. The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn't a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when. It's really hard to get people to listen. I mean, Trump pushed out the admiral on the National Security Council, who was the only person at that level who's responsible for pandemic defense. With him went his entire downline of employees and staff and relationships. And then Trump removed the [early warning] funding for countries around the world.

SL: I've heard you talk about the significance that this is a “novel” virus.
LB: It doesn't mean a fictitious virus. It’s not like a novel or a novella.
SL: Too bad. 
LB:It means it's new. That there is no human being in the world that has immunity as a result of having had it before. That means it’s capable of infecting 7.8 billion of our brothers and sisters. 
SL:Since it's novel, we’re still learning about it. Do you believe that if someone gets it and recovers, that person thereafter has immunity? 
LB: So I don't see anything in this virus, even though it's novel, [that contradicts that]. There are cases where people think that they've gotten it again, [but] that's more likely to be a test failure than it is an actual reinfection. But there's going to be tens of millions of us or hundreds of millions of us or more who will get this virus before it's all over, and with large numbers like that, almost anything where you ask “Does this happen?” can happen. That doesn't mean that it is of public health or epidemiological importance. 
SL: Is this the worst outbreak you’ve ever seen?

LB: It's the most dangerous pandemic in our lifetime.

Stay safe out there, folks.

Social distancing is important, but communicate with your friends and loved ones.  Check up on them, really check up on them.   We don't know how long this is going to go.

We don't know how long any of us might have.

Testing America's Patience With Patient Testing

When we look back at 2020 and the COVID-19 epidemic, when those of us who wish to learn about what went horrifically wrong in America and how we can better deal with the next inevitable pandemic, we can start with the story of Natasha Ott's death at age 39.

On March 10, Natasha Ott, 39, felt the beginnings of a cold coming on.

She had a slight fever. CrescentCare, the medical clinic where she worked, had only a handful of tests for the new strain of coronavirus on hand. She initially passed on the chance to take one, after being told she was low-risk for the serious disease. 
When her symptoms didn't shake, she did take the test on Monday. By Thursday, she felt "something in her lungs," she told longtime partner Josh Anderson. But she still felt well enough by then to join Anderson as the pair walked her dog.

On Friday, Anderson found Ott dead in her kitchen.

Her test results have still not come back. The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office has not released a cause of death; state health officials have not said whether they believe it was a case of coronavirus. 
Anderson, 40, believes that's exactly what it was. What happened to his girlfriend, he said, should be a wake-up call for anyone who still believes COVID-19 isn't as deadly as experts have claimed. 
Speaking in an interview Saturday, after his social media post recounting Ott's experience was shared hundreds of times, he said the dearth of tests shows how ill-equipped New Orleans is to handle a pandemic that has already claimed 16 lives and infected nearly 600 people across the state. 
"She could have gotten a test last Friday, but they only had five tests, and she didn’t want to use one of them," Anderson said. 
Less than a week ago, he was one of those who believed younger, relatively healthy people like Ott and himself would be fine amid the outbreak.

"I believed that people should stay home, but I don’t think I fully understood what the consequences could be if they didn’t," he said. 
Noel Twilbeck, the CEO of CrescentCare, confirmed on Saturday that Ott was a former employee and that she had died, but he declined to say anything more, citing respect for her family.

Ott tested negative for the flu before being swabbed for COVID-19, Anderson said. Her symptoms — respiratory cold, fever and loss of appetite — persisted as she tried to take care of herself while waiting for the swab results, up until she died.

New Orleans health care professionals have complained about similar long turnarounds for results as well as the paltry number of test kits provided to the state by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
The situation forced them to turn away sick people who didn’t qualify for what until recently was a fairly high bar for a test. At first, only recent travelers with fever and respiratory trouble that required hospitalization could be swabbed, although the government has since allowed doctors to use more of their own discretion. 
But private testing has finally started to ramp up, and with that should come far more tests and shorter wait times for test results. “What we are really hoping for is to have a much faster turnaround than what we have seen so far,” Dr. Robert Hart, Ochsner’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday.

Again, if the Trump regime had chosen to ramp up testing six weeks ago, Natasha Ott would probably be alive.  Maybe COVID-19 wasn't the cause of death, but the clinic she went to was overwhelmed and couldn't get the treatment she needed in the middle of a pandemic.

People are still going to die of seasonal flu, strokes, trauma, accidents, heart failure in the age of COVID-19.  But because we have to spend so many resources on it, because this administration was more worried about politics than people?

Those people would be far more likely to survive. Medical resources, personnel, bed space, these are all limited things. COVID-19 cases overwhelming your local hospital means non-COVID-19 problems may not get treated either.

And people will die from that, too. It's a cascade effect.

But you can trace the source all the way to the Oval Office.
Related Posts with Thumbnails