Friday, May 1, 2020

Last Call For One Hell Of A May Day

Everything's fine.

Everything's great.

We'll be back to normal in a couple of months at the most.

Also the Pentagon has ordered another 100,000 body bags because we're fucked.

The federal government placed orders for well over 100,000 new body bags to hold victims of COVID-19 in April, according to internal administration documents obtained by NBC News, as well as public records. The biggest set was earmarked for purchase the day after President Donald Trump projected that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus might not exceed 50,000 or 60,000 people. 
That batch is a pending $5.1 million purchase order placed by the Department of Homeland Security on April 21 with E.M. Oil Transport Inc. of Montebello, California, which advertises construction vehicles, building materials and electronics on its website. The "human remains pouches" have not been paid for or shipped to the Federal Emergency Management Agency yet, according to the company's marketing manager, Mike Pryor. 
"I hope to God that they don't need my order and that they cancel it," Pryor said in a text message exchange with NBC News. 
Body bag contracts bid by Homeland Security and the Veterans Affairs Department are just one illustration of how Trump's sunny confidence about the nation's readiness to reopen is in conflict with the views of officials in his own administration who are quietly preparing for a far worse outcome. 
Around the same time it wrote the contract for the body bags, FEMA opened up bidding to provide about 200 rented refrigerated trailers for locations around the country. The request for proposals specifies a preference for 53-foot trailers, which, at 3,600 cubic feet, are the largest in their class. 
The cache of internal documents obtained by NBC News includes an April 25 "pre-decisional draft" of the coronavirus task force's "incident outlook" for the response, a summary of the task force leaders' meeting the same day and various communications among officials at several agencies. The documents show that task force members remain worried about several major risks ahead, including insufficient availability of coronavirus tests, the absence of a vaccine or proven treatments for the coronavirus, and the possibility of a "catastrophic resurgence" of COVID-19.

We're still having a 9/11's worth of deaths every day from this virus.  People talk about "plateau" and "the other side" and "we're getting through this" but that is wishful thinking.

It's going to go from disaster to catastrophe, and the Trump regime's cover-up is already underway.

The White House is blocking Anthony S. Fauci from testifying before a House subcommittee investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response, arguing that it would be “counterproductive” for him to appear next week while in the midst of participating in the government’s responses to the pandemic.

The White House issued a statement about Fauci’s testimony shortly after The Washington Post published a story Friday afternoon quoting a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, who said the White House was refusing to allow Fauci to appear at a subcommittee hearing next week.

“While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counterproductive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. “We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”

In fact, Fauci is expected to appear at a Senate hearing related to testing the following week, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

“It’s not muzzling, it’s not blocking, it’s simply trying to ensure we’re able to balance the need for oversight, the legitimate need for oversight, with their responsibilities to handle Covid-19 work at their respective agencies and departments,” said the official, who noted that health risks entailed in moving around in public places were also a factor.

"But it's not a cover-up, he's going to testify before the Senate and he's just too busy."

Sure. Whatever guys.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

While it's still a long shot for the Dems, Cook Political Report officially has Sen. Lindsey Graham's seat in SC in play, and Jaime Harrison at least has a shot at the upset.

Harrison has a unique story to be able to reach both black voters and potentially peel off former Graham voters, especially white college-educated women that were Republicans' Achilles heel in 2018. That combination can be targeted with his money and could make this race a closer one than the state's seen in over 20 years.

Born to a single mother in impoverished Orangeburg, Harrison was raised by his grandparents. He went on to attend Yale University and Georgetown Law School. In between those two, he taught at his old high school and worked with an organization to help low-income students attend college. Then he moved to D.C. to work for Rep. Jim Clyburn, serving as his floor director when the longtime congressman first became Majority Whip after Democrats captured the House in 2006. He also lobbied for the Podesta Group — a tie Republicans are eager to highlight — before returning home again to South Carolina. In 2013, he was elected chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, the first African-American ever to hold that post. In 2017, he made a failed bid to be DNC chairman, dropping out to endorse eventual winner Tom Perez. He did get a slot as the national committee's associate chairman, though.

Most impressively, Harrison had a record-setting fundraising haul during the first quarter of this year, bringing in $7.37 million to Graham's $5.68 million (which also would have set the record for the most raised in a quarter in the Palmetto State before Harrison eclipsed it).

Both candidates raised most of their cash from out of state — Graham around 80%, compared to about 92% for Harrison, according to our analysis of FEC reports. And Graham's campaign points out that he suspended fundraising amid the pandemic for the closing weeks of the quarter. The incumbent also still has a cash on hand advantage of about $4.8 million over Harrison.

Graham's political skills should not be underestimated, and he's clearly taking this race quite seriously, as he should. However, we also can't overlook the considerable resume that Harrison also brings to the race, and even South Carolina Republicans admit he is a strong candidate.

One GOP operative in the state told me those fundraising numbers from Harrison's campaign have left Republicans in the state "stunned" and that it is absolutely on track to be the most expensive race in South Carolina history, expected to top upwards of $40 million.

"He's a very dangerous candidate to Sen. Graham," the Republican strategist said, calling Harrison "the best Democratic candidate I've seen here in a very long time."

Others, understandably, remain skeptical, even given Harrison's strengths.

"I just don't think the math works out in Jaime's favor at this point," another South Carolina GOP strategist said. However, the operative did admit that "Lindsey is going to have to work harder than he ever worked before," but that "Jaime would have to run a perfect race, and Lindsey would have to make a lot of mistakes" to win.

Harrison's compelling ads highlight his early biography. He's used his money to run positive spots in every major media market in the state, talking about the challenges his grandparents faced trying to make ends meet in the state's "Corridor of Shame," eventually losing their home; Harrison eventually buys them one. Notably, though, his ads don't mention his party.

I mean with Republican Tim Scott as the state's other senator, that's definitely intentional.

Politics in the South are weird.  Take a look at Georgia, for instance.

An internal poll conducted for the Georgia House GOP Caucus points to troubling signs for Republican leaders: President Donald Trump is deadlocked with Joe Biden and voters aren’t giving the White House, Gov. Brian Kemp or the Legislature high marks for the coronavirus response.

The poll also suggests trouble for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, showing the former financial executive with 11% of the vote and essentially tied with Democrats Matt Lieberman and Raphael Warnock. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins leads the November field with 29% of the vote, and outdoes Loeffler among Republicans by a 62-18 margin.

The survey, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was conducted by the political polling and research firm Cygnal between April 25-27 and it involved 591 likely voters. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Loeffler is toast. Among the poll's findings:

  • Voters are evenly split on Trump, but Kemp’s disapproval rating (52%) outweigh his approval rating (43%). Loeffler is deeper underwater after grappling with an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic, with an approval of 20% and disapproval of 47%. Collins’ approval rating is about 10 percentage points higher than his disapproval.
  • Georgians say their top priority is controlling the spread of the coronavirus and returning life to normal (35%), followed by rebuilding the economy (25%) and providing access to affordable, quality healthcare (17%).
  • Trump and Biden are in a statistical tie in the race for president, with Trump at 45% and Biden at 44%. Only about 5% of Georgians are undecided, and another 6% back a third-party candidate.
  • U.S. Sen. David Perdue leads Democrat Jon Ossoff 45-39 in a head-to-head matchup, with 12% of voters undecided.
  • More Georgians said they were most concerned with public health (60%) than the economic impact (36%) of the pandemic.
  • A majority of voters disapprove of the way Trump (51%) and Kemp (54%) are handling the pandemic. The General Assembly barely breaks even on the question, and many voters signaled they don’t know what lawmakers are doing.
  • About 58% of voters said Georgia is moving “too quickly” to ease restrictions, though most (54%) back social-distancing measures and business closures.
  • A plurality of votes (34%) think the “worst is yet to come” from the pandemic, while only about 22% think the worst is over. About 30% feel “we’re in the middle of the worst right now.”
  • Most Georgians feel social distancing policies should continue at least a few more weeks, if not months, and only about 15% contend the state should “open everything now.”

I understand the theory among the right-wing noisemakers is "The people will make social distancing moot and will go back to work, school, and worship as normal in May" but I'm pretty sure after cases and deaths start skyrocketing in red states like Georgia, Florida and Texas -- and that's almost 100% guaranteed at this point -- that things will change very quickly among the Patriot Dot Eagle Freedom crowd.

Rent's Due And The Devil's Too, Con't

It's May 1 and the rent's due for tens of millions without any sort of fallback protections, as the number of unemployment claims has now hit 30 million over the last six weeks, and millions more unemployed are going uncounted because of overloaded systems. Against this backdrop, Florida is reopening businesses and beaches on Monday as the state records its highest number of COVID-19 deaths to date.

Florida will reopen certain businesses throughout much of the state on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said. 
"We will get Florida back on its feet by using an approach that is safe, smart, and step by step," DeSantis said on Wednesday. 
DeSantis said restaurants and retail spaces could let customers inside, but only at 25% capacity, and people must adhere to social distancing guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
Restaurants can offer outdoor seating if tables are 6 feet apart. 
"Outdoor transmission, as far as we've seen, has been more difficult than the indoor climate controlled transition," the governor said, adding that medical officials recommended the outdoor seating change. 
Movie theaters can't reopen yet. 
"I just think it's practically difficult to do the social distancing," the governor said. "Indoor environments I think are more likely for transmission, so even though you could have done that on phase one, I think prudence dictates that we go a little slow on that."
Bars, fitness centers and places that offer personal services, likes hair styling, also will open later. 
People can schedule non-urgent surgeries again, he said, though it depends on a hospital's ability to handle surges in cases and availability of protective equipment.
Schools will continue to hold online classes, he said. 
DeSantis said the new measures he announced would not include three of the counties hit hardest by coronavirus. They are Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, which account for about 6.2 million of Florida's residents, according to US Census data

Texas too is opening up businesses and public areas starting today, and yes, that state just hit a new high in recorded COVID-19 deaths as well.

Texas reported 50 more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, the most in any one day since the state reported its first deaths in mid-March.

The state also reported it had added more than 1,000 new positive cases of COVID-19, the biggest one-day increase in infections since April 10.

The numbers came out less than 9 hours before Gov. Greg Abbott was set to lift restrictions on many businesses, allowing malls, movie theaters, retail stores and restaurants to begin operating at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Those types of businesses can only operate at 25 percent of their maximum capacity for the next two weeks under Abbott’s phased re-opening plan. After that, if things are going well, Abbott has said those places can go to 50 percent occupancy.

Abbott’s statewide stay-at-home order expires at the end of Thursday.

Georgia makes three Southern red states.

Gov. Brian Kemp will lift a statewide shelter-in-place order for most of Georgia’s 10.6 million residents starting Friday as he continues to roll back coronavirus restrictions, though he urged Georgians to stay at home when possible to contain the pandemic.

The order requires elderly and “medically fragile” residents to shelter in place until June 12, and it calls for businesses to follow existing restrictions through May 13 in order to remain open.

But Kemp told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was time to lift other measures to help revive Georgia’s tattered economy, emphasizing that an increase in testing and greater hospital capacity factored into his decision.

“What we’ve done has worked,” Kemp said in the interview. “It’s given us time to build our hospital infrastructure capacity, get ventilators and ramp up testing. That’s what really drove our decision.”

Democrats and others criticized the move, warning that Kemp’s decision risks spreading a disease that’s already killed more than 1,100 Georgians. Some offered a reminder that President Donald Trump was “totally” opposed to Kemp’s earlier steps.

Pushing back, Kemp said Georgians “can have confidence even if they disagree” with him that he’s relying on advice from health experts to arrive at his decision

In all three states millions of people, and tens of millions more in the weeks ahead as more states "reopen" like Ohio and Kentucky, must now face the choice of returning to work during an ongoing pandemic or losing unemployment.  For some of them there is no choice.

Somebody still has to take care of the kids.

As of this writing, 43 states have closed schools through the end of the academic year. That list does not include New York state, where Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to joust over the issue. But if you are a tri-state area resident who expects to send your kid to school before the fall, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

For most families, there is no child care without school. In America, school is pretty much the only free or subsidized child care our government provides. Without reliable, affordable, and Covid-free child care, going back to work is simply not an option for many parents.

The school closings only deepen a reoccurring problem most parents face: the summer. In a society that has decided to outsource child care responsibilities to the school system, the fact that this system goes on an annual months-long holiday is already a nightmare for working parents.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic is blowing apart the kinds of summer child care relief that parents rely on. Summer school is not happening. Summer camp is not happening. Summer youth sports leagues are not happening. The coronavirus makes it dangerous to dump your little disease vectors with their grandparents. Where the hell are parents supposed to put their kids during long summer days when they’re supposed to go back to work?

Don't know, don't care.  Work's open, daycares aren't. Go to work, wear your mask, pray you don't get sick, cause if you do, you get fired.  Rent's due, serfs. Get to work or you're all out on the streets.

Or maybe, maybe it's time for a general strike.

Just saying.


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