Lazy Caturday Reads: Trump Calls Coronavirus a “Hoax”

Aleksey Venetsianov, In the ploughed field. Spring. Cats at work

Good Morning!!

Today’s images are from an old favorite, Svetlana Petrova, the Russian artist who incorporates her ginger cat Zarathustra into iconic paintings.

Today’s news is less charming. As the world faces the possibility of a global pandemic, Trump has decided on a coronvirus strategy–calling it a “hoax.”

Politico: Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.’

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation.

He blamed the press for acting hysterically about the virus, which has now spread to China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy and the U.S, and he downplayed its dangers, saying against expert opinion it was on par with the flu.

The cards players, Paul Cezanne

“The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it,” he said. “They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”

Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.”

He also tried to link the virus to immigration. The Guardian:

Donald Trump attempted to link the coronavirus outbreak to Democratic immigration policies, labeling Democratic attacks on his handling of the crisis a “new hoax” in a rambling speech in South Carolina, the night before the state’s crucial Democratic primary….

“Whether it’s the virus that we’re talking about, or the many other public health threats, the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”

Trump cited no evidence to link the virus with migration at the southern border, where he has focused much of his anti-immigration policy. The first case of coronavirus in the US with no known origin was diagnosed in northern California on Wednesday night, hundreds of miles from the border. Additional such cases in California and Oregon were confirmed on Friday.

About the new cases, The New York Times reports: New Unexplained Cases Reported in Oregon and California.

Two new and unexplained cases of coronavirus emerged in Northern California and in Oregon on Friday, and health officials in both states quickly moved to contact people who might have been exposed. Experts warned that the cases could indicate signs of spread within the United States.

The Furry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

Oregon health officials said they had identified a school employee in the Portland area who appears to have contracted the coronavirus more than a week ago. The patient, who had not recently traveled to China, has had symptoms since Feb. 19 and may have exposed students and staff at a school in Clackamas County, officials said.

Oregon’s announcement followed one earlier Friday in Santa Clara County, Calif., where officials said a patient with no known risk factors had tested positive for the virus.

The findings hint that the coronavirus may already be circulating locally in the United States, passing from person to person.

According to OregonLive, the elementary school where an employee tested positive for the disease has been closed temporarily while the health authorities investigate.

More details from The Washington Post: Coronavirus is spreading through three more communities on the West Coast.

California reported its second case of community transmission of the coronavirus Friday, and Oregon and Washington announced others just hours later, providing fresh evidence that the deadly virus is circulating in the United States.

Authorities in Santa Clara County, Calif., said a 65-year-old woman had come down with the covid-19 disease without traveling to any countries hit hard by the outbreak or coming in contact with anyone known to have the infection.

In Oregon, officials said a person from Washington County, in the northwest part of the state, had tested positive under similar circumstances. The positive test was conducted by the state’s laboratory and is considered “presumptive” until it is confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Love is Gold, Gustav Klimt

The unnamed Oregon individual spent time in an elementary school outside Portland and may have exposed students and staff there, state health authorities said. The school was ordered closed through Wednesday for cleaning, a local television station reported.

In Washington, state health officials said a high school student in Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, received a “presumptive” positive test in another case of unknown origin.

The Jackson High School student was not in school most of this week, but was on campus briefly Friday morning, according to a statement from Everett Public Schools. Students who were in contact with the patient will remain home for 14 days while health authorities monitor their symptoms, and the school will close for three days, the school district said.

The developments mean the virus is spreading in at least four separate communities — two of them about 90 miles apart in California, and two others farther up the West Coast.

This is just the beginning folks. And the Trump administration enabled the spread of the virus with its ho hum response to a health crisis. Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: Trump Didn’t Just Botch the Coronavirus Response. He Enabled Its Spread.

Even as China was announcing that its deaths from the novel coronavirus had surpassed its toll from SARS, President Donald Trump released a proposed budget for 2021 that slashed funding for our chief defender against epidemics by 18 percent.

Within the overall proposed cuts detailed on Feb. 10 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was a reduction in spending to guard against “emerging and zoonotic diseases” from $635,772,000 to $550,464,000.

‘Three Graces’ by Peter Paul Rubens

Zoonotic diseases are those that have crossed from animals to humans, as the novel coronavirus is believed to have done….

We might have had earlier warning of the outbreak, but previous budget cuts caused the CDC to end its global security program in China in 2017.

In another failure of foresight two years ago, the White House eliminated the National Security Council’s position for combating global health crises. The NSC’s Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biothreats post was held by the highly regarded Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer—whose sudden departure in May of 2018 happened to coincide with a new Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Also check out this piece at ProPublica: Key Missteps at the CDC Have Set Back Its Ability to Detect the Potential Spread of Coronavirus.

As the highly infectious coronavirus jumped from China to country after country in January and February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lost valuable weeks that could have been used to track its possible spread in the United States because it insisted upon devising its own test.

The federal agency shunned the World Health Organization test guidelines used by other countries and set out to create a more complicated test of its own that could identify a range of similar viruses. But when it was sent to labs across the country in the first week of February, it didn’t work as expected. The CDC test correctly identified COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But in all but a handful of state labs, it falsely flagged the presence of the other viruses in harmless samples.

As a result, until Wednesday the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration only allowed those state labs to use the test — a decision with potentially significant consequences. The lack of a reliable test prevented local officials from taking a crucial first step in coping with a possible outbreak — “surveillance testing” of hundreds of people in possible hotspots. Epidemiologists in other countries have used this sort of testing to track the spread of the disease before large numbers of people turn up at hospitals.

Read the rest at ProPublica.

Lady with an Ermine’ by Leonardo da Vinci

That’s not all, of course. The Trump administration decided–against the advice of the CDC–to bring back Americans who had been exposed to the virus cruise ship in Japan and then they sent HHS workers with no protective clothing and no training to receive these people at U.S. air bases in California. Some of those workers then went out into the community, to hotels, and even commercial flights.

From today’s Washington Post: DHS employee told to report to work in Newark after China travel, in violation of coronavirus quarantine, complaints say.

A Department of Homeland Security employee who returned from travel to China was told by her supervisor to report to her workplace in early February in apparent violation of a mandatory 14-day coronavirus quarantine period, according to complaints filed Friday by the union that represents the woman’s co-workers.

The DHS employee, who was not identified, works for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Newark, according to the complaint. After arriving from China, she called a supervisor to ask if she should remain at home under quarantine, but she was told to report to work Feb. 10, according to Ward Morrow, an attorney for the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents USCIS employees.

Can you tell I’m obsessed with the coronavirus story? There’s also a primary today in South Carolina. I’ll be keeping an eye on that too.

What stories are you following today? This is a wide open thread.


45 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads: Trump Calls Coronavirus a “Hoax””

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!

  2. dakinikat says:

    Warning! This can not be unseen!

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    Well, we can guess who Trump is supporting in this race …

    • NW Luna says:

      Adam Schiff and the Pope. What the helllllll???

      • quixote says:

        Well, Adam Schiff is obviously The Enemy. But that Pope …. Can’t take your eye off him either. I mean, he talks about taking care of the sick and the poor. And he doesn’t even think climate change was invented in China.

        I believe he’s told Stephen Miller to look into figuring out a way of getting him fiyahed.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      We already have hundreds of thousands of people in the US who get illnesses due to contact with sick workers who can’t afford to stay home when sick. Many people in poorly paid jobs are in the service industry and come in contact with large numbers of people during their workdays. It’s so short-sighted not to provide paid sick leave. Too often people with sick-leave benefits are pressured to continue working even when sick, and that results in yet more sick people.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Trump is having a press conference at 1:30 to discuss coronavirus developments. That should be interesting….

    • NW Luna says:

      Awwwckgh!!! Either he’s single-handedly stopped the virus or it’s still a hoax. Or he’s putting Diamond and Silk on the task force.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Make sure you’re sitting down before you read this.

    • NW Luna says:


      It’s as if he’s got the whole public health epidemiology management manual backwards.

    • quixote says:

      How can anyone be so totally, determinedly, perseverently STUPID? How can *everyone* around him be stupid enough to do these idiocies? How can I be stupid enough to still be surprised by anything this Weird Growth does?

    • NW Luna says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    Could it get anymore demoralizing knowing that Trump is “in charge” of anything other than the remote control?

    I have been mostly tuning out these days as I have little faith in most of these candidates to beat that moron but I will vote on Tuesday for Warren just to keep Bernie’s numbers down.

    Admittedly the current slate of candidates is underwhelming but if Sanders gets the nomination and we find either Tulsi Gabbard or that Sanders spokesperson, Nina SomebodyOrOther as his running mate as has been hinted at, we can more than likely kiss off the House and Senate and watch Trump take another victory lap.

    Underwhelmed. Unenthused. Dispirited. My mood.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    So far Trump is using this press conference to talk about Afghanistan while health officials stand by wondering what’s happening.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Well, that’s reassuring as hell.

    • NW Luna says:

  12. NW Luna says:

    Two people connected to a Kirkland [Washington] long-term care facility have tested positive, officials said Saturday afternoon. A resident in her 70s is in serious condition, and a health employee in her 40s is stable. The long-term facility in Kirkland has 108 residents and 180 employees, according to the CDC. Twenty-seven residents and 25 employees have symptoms.<

    Assistance and personnel from the national @CDCgov are expected to arrive here Sunday

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/coronavirus-death-seattle-washington-state/

    Also: CDC confirms the patient who died is a man in his 50s and had underlying heath conditions.

    • NW Luna says:

      Really glad to have a governor who believes in science and preparedness.

      Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon in response to the new cases of COVID-19, telling agencies to use all resources necessary to respond to the outbreak. He also authorized the use of the Washington National Guard if necessary.

      “This will allow us to get the resources we need,” Inslee said. “This is a time to take common-sense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state. Our state agency directors have been actively preparing since the nation’s first case appeared in Snohomish County. Washingtonians can be assured we’ve taken this threat seriously and have been working in collaboration with our health care partners to develop plans and procedures to prepare for what could likely be a world-wide pandemic.”

      https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/department-health-confirms-first-coronavirus-death-washington-state/XIDPHMLVOJAAREQ5YCL75367PU/

    • dakinikat says:

      Kirkland is just north of Jean’s hospital.

      • NW Luna says:

        The healthcare worker with coronavirus is at Overlake Hospital now. I’m sure they have excellent protocols.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yup. They’re really good. One of my brother in law’s sisters is on the Board there. We got my Dad in there because they’ve got great geriatric care like the best in the region at the time. There was a huge waiting list so she helped Dad get access. I will be calling my dr kids today though. They’re both young and healthy but since there is this huge geriatric population as well as the baby boom there I would assume they’d have to have really strict protocal.

  13. dakinikat says:

    Flav ain’t playing on Bernie’s team … lol

  14. NW Luna says:

    South Caroline — currently Biden at 54.0% and Bernie at 14.3%. Only about 10% of the votes in so far, though. Hope Joe keeps his landslide over Bernie!

  15. NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      All I can think with the Dump handing this hopeless (for him) assignment to Pence is that he (the Dump) must really hate him (the Pence).

      Probably trying to make sure nobody gets ideas about how nice it would be for Dump to take his dementia and go home and Pence takes over.

      • roofingbird says:

        Yeah, what I think of is that drumf must be worried if he is willing to sacrifice Pence as his line of defense and use the christian fundi card. He chose to draw a parallel by sending the anti scientist into the battle of the apocalypse, so he could deflect concern over the hemorrhaging stock market.

  16. MsMass says:

    Good news about Biden win. That helps depress Sanders. Good blog post from people’s view on strategy for Tuesday. https://www.thepeoplesview.net/main/2020/2/28/instructions-for-super-tuesday. I’m voting for Warren here in Mass. I hope we can keep Sanders down.

  17. NW Luna says:

    Interesting thread from a research virologist at a top medical research org.

  18. roofingbird says:

    I feel it’s worth noting that Travis Air Base, in Solano County, is a long time, firmly Democratic district. So, having found ourselves as host to COVID-19, I heartily approve of Congressman Garamendi’s desire to punch Don Jr’s nose, in regards to his asinine comments.