Terrified Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

We are in deep trouble folks. The “president” is insane. We’ve known that for years, but now we are facing a global pandemic under a chief executive who cares nothing for other humans. His businesses are tanking because of this health crisis and he is panicking because he is incapable of thinking logically, planning for the future, controlling his impulses, or seeing the consequences of his actions. He obviously has severe frontal lobe deficits from dementia in addition to his lifelong malignant narcissism.

Republicans in the Senate had an opportunity to remove him and instead they chose to stick with an insane “leader” in order to line their pockets. Now we are all going to pay the price for their selfishness and short-term thinking.

I watched in horror yesterday as Trump held another “coronavirus briefing” in which he advocated for “reopening the economy” as if that were actually possible. In essence, he was saying that millions of us need to sicken and die in order to save the “economy.” Because of his severe brain damage and his lack of empathy, he cannot understand that if people go back to work the disease will spread and workplaces will end up decimated.

No intelligent person is going to go out to restaurants and clubs no matter what Trump says. So the economy will still crash and the pain will be unimaginably worse than if we had a nation-wide shutdown for two or three weeks. Of course states with rational governors will continue their shutdown policies, but if red states like Florida stay wide open, the disease will still spread even to states where people are acting responsibly.

Some people are actually suggesting that old people must die so young people can live. But that is not what is likely to happen. In the first place, we now know that young and healthy people can die of this disease. If young and middle-aged people return to their normal work and play routines, they are going to get sick and give the disease to people they interact with.

Meanwhile, older people like me who are intelligent enough to see what is happening and no longer have to go to work will stay home and protect themselves. I live alone and I intend to continue social distancing as long as it is necessary. It’s nothing new for me. I have always liked being alone and being social is hard work for me. I know intellectually that I need other people and I have learned to get myself out to spend time with them, but it won’t kill me to stay home for several weeks with just quick trips out to buy food and other necessities. I will miss seeing people, but I’ll survive. I’m not ready to die yet.

Some stories to check out today:

Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: White House: We’re Going to Have to Let Some People Die So the Stock Market Can Live.

One of the major reasons the United States is in the midst of a
health crisis that has killed 427 people and infected at least 34,354 so far is the fatty mass inside Donald Trump’s head that told him If you pretend like none of this is happening, it’ll all just go away. Singularly obsessed with the stock market, the president squandered his opportunity to contain the novel coronavirus out of fear that taking strong action would damage the economy, telling advisers in February not to “do or say anything that would further spook the markets.” Obviously that plan of “action” backfired so spectacularly that it would be quite funny if not for the whole life and death thing; weirdly, not doing anything about a deadly disease and insisting it was a hoax didn’t actually make investors feel better. Terrified about the fact that the Dow and S&P were still regularly recording some of their worst days since the crash of ’87, Trump decided roughly eight days ago to stop calling the pandemic “fake news” and actually advise people to take it seriously and stay home. One week, however, apparently represented the president’s upper limit for acting quasi-responsibly. Last Thursday, he reportedly began talking privately about getting people back to work, just three days after the CDC rolled out a campaign to encourage everyone to stay home for at least 15 days. On Sunday, he all-caps tweeted, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

Needless to say, telling people to get back to their normal lives within a fortnight is not at all what health experts have recommended. In fact, many agree we’ll have to practice social distancing for at least a year and perhaps up to 18 months, the alternative literally being the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Faced with that choice, most people would probably go with the former, even if it meant major damage to economy. And then you have the ghouls of Team Trump…

Click the link and read the rest at Vanity Fair.

Why has Trump suddenly pivoted after just a few days of advocating social distancing? It’s about his own bottom line. David A. Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow and Jonathan O’Connell at the Washington Post: Before Trump called for reevaluating lockdowns, they shuttered six of his top-earning clubs and resorts.

President Trump’s private business has shut down six of its top seven revenue-producing clubs and hotels because of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, potentially depriving Trump’s company of millions of dollars in revenue.

Those closures come as Trump is considering easing restrictions on movement sooner than federal public health experts recommend, in the name of reducing the virus’s economic damage.

In a tweet late Sunday, Trump said the measures could be lifted as soon as March 30. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he wrote on Twitter.

In his unprecedented dual role as president and owner of a sprawling business, Trump is facing dual crises caused by the coronavirus. As he is trying to manage the pandemic from the White House, limiting its casualties as well as the economic fallout, his company is also navigating a major threat to the hospitality industry.

That threatens to pull Trump in opposite directions, because the strategies that many scientists believe will help lessen the public emergency — like strict, long-lasting restrictions on movement — could deepen the short-term problems of Trump’s private business, by keeping doors shut and customers away.

Remember, Trump is deep in debt–he borrowed $2 billion from Deutsche Bank to prop up his businesses. And he isn’t actually a billionaire.

Don’t miss this one. Donald McNeil at The New York Times: The Virus Can Be Stopped, But Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say.

Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel.

Whether they can keep it suppressed remains to be seen. But for the United States to repeat their successes will take extraordinary levels of coordination and money from the country’s leaders, and extraordinary levels of trust and cooperation from citizens. It will also require international partnerships in an interconnected world.

There is a chance to stop the coronavirus. This contagion has a weakness.

Although there are incidents of rampant spread, as happened on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, the coronavirus more often infects clusters of family members, friends and work colleagues, said Dr. David L. Heymann, who chairs an expert panel advising the World Health Organization on emergencies.

No one is certain why the virus travels in this way, but experts see an opening nonetheless. “You can contain clusters,” Dr. Heymann said. “You need to identify and stop discrete outbreaks, and then do rigorous contact tracing.”

But doing so takes intelligent, rapidly adaptive work by health officials, and near-total cooperation from the populace. Containment becomes realistic only when Americans realize that working together is the only way to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that will happen here in the U.S. Please read it anyway.

Marc Lipsitch at The Washington Post: Far more people in the U.S. have the coronavirus than you think.

As an infectious disease epidemiologist who has worked on pandemics for two decades, I’ve talked in recent days to journalists and health officials in the United States and from halfway around the world about how to stop the novel coronavirus that causes the disease covid-19. They all have the same questions: How many tests do we need? How should we use tests? For each case we know about, how many more cases are out there? What’s the best way to find undiagnosed cases? Should we do “active case finding,” which involves testing everyone who is mildly ill, then isolating known cases and quarantining and isolating their contacts? Instead — or in addition — should we implement intense social distancing, close schools and take other similar measures?

Everyone asks the same important, interrelated questions. In one respect, the answer is the same for all of them: We must vastly expand our testing capacity. No country has controlled transmission effectively without massive testing capacity. The United States currently has a sliver of the capacity we need, which is a tiny fraction of that available in other countries. South Korea has performed over 320,000 tests — almost one for every 150 people. That is 30 times the testing per capita that we have done in the United States. Exceptional teams are racing to solve testing bottlenecks at local and state levels — Massachusetts is just one example — filling the vacuum left by the complete absence of federal leadership.

Regulatory and technical hurdles accounted for early delays. Now that we’re past those, several shortages are getting in the way. We don’t have enough protective equipment for testers, nor swabs for sampling or reagents to extract genetic material from the virus. We don’t have enough physical test kits, or enough human power to run large-scale testing. The result is that we have no idea how many people are infected with the coronavirus or how fast the virus is spreading.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More reads, links only:

Politico: Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions.

Mediaite: Dr. Fauci Reportedly Warning Trump Administration Not to Prematurely Restart Economy.

The New York Times: Trump Has Given Unusual Leeway to Fauci, but Aides Say He’s Losing His Patience.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Trump Is Back to Waging War on Science, at the Worst Possible Moment.

Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Trump Won’t Order Vital Coronavirus Supplies Because Corporate CEOs Asked Him Not To.

CNBC: CDC says coronavirus survived in Princess Cruise ship cabins for up to 17 days after passengers left.

The Washington Post: Italy’s coronavirus deaths are staggering. They may be more preview than anomaly.

Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel: Air Traffic: A Lesson on Pandemic Economics from the Airlines. 

Stay safe and healthy Sky Dancers! Please stay home as much as you can. 


61 Comments on “Terrified Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • dakinikat says:

      so, over there in texas … fools to the right of us fools to the left, stuck in Louisiana in the middle.

      • palhart says:

        He is saying, healthy or not, seniors should sacrifice themselves and die. He’s full of it; seniors, not children, pay taxes, dummy! Give up your rocking chair, granny, for little children?! I’m having none of this right-wing insulting talk of who should live and who should die! That’s one decision, these pro-lifers,I expect, don’t get to make!

        • quixote says:

          I keep thinking of some anthropology work on early humans I read about many years ago.

          It’s one of the earliest evidences for upright walking: footsteps in volcanic ash. No way to know just from that if these were apes who’d transitioned to walking upright or early humans.

          Except for one thing. There were traces of them dragging a travois as the group made their way out of whatever disaster had caused all the fallen ash.

          This was long before farming. They weren’t dragging provisions. It was long before pottery of any kind, or the ability to make bags or anything they might want to carry.

          The likeliest explanation is they were carrying someone injured or elderly who couldn’t walk that far.

          And I bet your mind, like mine, instantly said, “Oh. So they were humans.”

          The Repubs seem to work overtime at proving they aren’t.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Thank for that Quixote. Yes, I choose to remain human despite these evil monsters efforts to turn us all against each other.

          • palhart says:

            quixote, I’ve read that reacting with compassion begins in humans at a very early age. I’ve been impressed when, in war-time, soldiers run back through battle lines to rescue injured men, buddy, or not.

          • quixote says:

            That’s true, palhart. Real toddlers, ordinary toddlers react to other kids’ and adults’ distress by helping or sharing. (Not always terribly effectively of course, but it really is the thought that counts.) That’s why I always feel cross when Dump is called a toddler. He isn’t! Not even metaphorically. If only he were.

          • jane says:

            yes, i agree, I have a daughter with an IQ of less than 10 but she watches kids play and yells if they get to close to the traffic. She watches over little kids with a passion. I say she is smarter than drumpf!!

      • NW Luna says:

  2. palhart says:

    WHO official, Margaret Harris, warns that the U.S. could surpass Italy and become the new coronavirus epicenter after a large acceleration in infections and 100 people dying in a day. My hunch is we are already there.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I’m bringing this up from below so people understand who is in charge of the administration’s coronavirus response. Even the “scientists” are questionable.

    Just keep in mind that Birx is a right wing evangelical in the Mike Pence mode. So are the head of the CDC Redfield and the woman who heads Medicare and Medicaid. I do not trust any of them. Dr. Fauci is better, but he also had to be dragged kicking and screaming into dealing with the AIDS epidemic back in the ’80s

    https://www.salon.com/2020/03/09/is-the-christian-right-now-in-charge-of-public-health-inside-the-trump-administration/

    https://khn.org/news/religious-conservatives-ties-to-trump-officials-pay-off-in-aids-policies-funding/

    • bostonboomer says:

      More on Birx–it’s mixed, but she is associated with right wing religious nuts.

      • bostonboomer says:

      • Sweet Sue says:

        Honestly, I could tell that just by looking at her: the constant affirmative head nodding and stupid signature scarves. I call her “The Ghost of Phyllis Schlafly.”

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

    • palhart says:

      The majority of governors who put in place early and timely executive orders to slow the viral spread were Democrats. Put that in a presidential ad this fall.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Three at least are Republicans. Charlie Baker, Larry Hogan, and Mike DeWine. Even in these ugly days, there are still some humans in the GOP.

        • dakinikat says:

          I believe Gov John Bel Edwards is doing a good job. I think his background as an army Ranger and his family’s experience in law enforcement is helping him organize this and he totally lets the doctors tell him what to do in terms of the pandemic science and needs.

      • NW Luna says:

        • bostonboomer says:

          Supposedly the bill they’ve agreed on lets them apply for unemployment and get the bonus. We’ll see.

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      No need to wonder if they’ll get better care than the 42-y.o. Georgia mammogram tech who died in her home.

  12. NW Luna says:

  13. dakinikat says:

    Patient Infected With Two Strains of COVID-19 In Iceland

    https://grapevine.is/news/2020/03/24/patient-infected-with-two-strains-of-covid-19-in-iceland/?fbclid=IwAR2AKt_AaBQEuOO0qHJ3ZejvUpQOmxdMnhafQpssE_r61XUquCF-4xpbBGA

    It’s been confirmed that an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 in Iceland has been infected by two strains of the virus simultaneously. The second strain is a mutation of the original novel coronavirus. It is thought that this could be the first recorded dual infection case of this kind.

  14. NW Luna says:

    • palhart says:

      When I was 26, I went on a 2 1/2 month trip to Europe with a 2-month Eurail pass and “Europe on $10 a Day” in hand. so you know it was many moons ago and not a luxurious tour. Denmark and the Netherlands were 2 of my favorite countries (of the 10 I visited.) These Scandinavian countries have high VATs and taxes, but the government is extremely helpful and in-tune with its citizens’ needs which is why one of them is always first in the “Happiest Nation” list.

  15. MsMass says:

    I think Trump needs to be Sectioned 12- here in MA it’s a way to hold on to a patient if they are “a danger to themselves and others”. (Might have a different label now)
    Now where to put him?? Psychiatric jail?

  16. MsMass says:

    Never thought I’d appreciate Liz Cheney but she’s speaking truth- and taking some shit from her side over it.
    https://www.democraticunderground.com/100213165082

  17. bostonboomer says:

    • palhart says:

      Being the movie lover that i am. I can’t read this and not leave a comment. I saw and enjoyed 4 of these plays made into movies: 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th. What a wide-ranging talent which deserved praise and awards.

  18. dakinikat says:

    Poor Dr Fauci is being held captive at this presser/Rally/propaganda session

    • bostonboomer says:

      He has surrendered to Trump. He needs to resign if he wants to maintain his reputation. He’s 79. He could retire or work as a consultant. Trump is going to fire him soon anyway.

  19. palhart says:

    NW Luna,

    Have you heard about Avi Schiffmann, a Washington state 17-year-old who set up a homemade
    Web site to track the coronavirus as early as December 29th? The site, ncov2019.live, has more than a hundred million visitors. He uses a coding tactic, known as “web-scraping”, which collates data from different sources around the world, like W.H.O., C.D.C., and Yonhap NewsAgency in South Korea. The data automatically updates every minute.

  20. NW Luna says:

    The medical center where I work hasn’t tested very many people, as only those symptomatic get tested. Here are the stats as of yesterday.

    209 patients – 14 positive – 6.7%
    147 employees – 7 positive – 4.8%

    We’ve also been told:

    if you have a known low-risk exposure (i.e., indirect/brief interactions with an individual testing positive for COVID19) and are asymptomatic, you will likely be asked come to work. You will be asked to wear a standard face mask for two weeks and monitor your symptoms closely. … Only utilize PPE when indicated.

    Note that the exposed staffer doesn’t get an N-95 mask, and isn’t asked to wear gloves. WTF amount of time interacting with someone infected with covid-19 is “low-risk” when we’ve got a potentially deadly disease? If you’re asymptomatic and positive, that just means you won’t show symptoms for up to 2 wks. By the time symptoms show you’ve already infected everyone and it’s too damn late.

    Oh yeah, we’ve also been told that even if we can do, and have been doing our jobs remotely, they’d prefer to have us in the building in case they have to pull us “into the labor pool.”

    • quixote says:

      /*endless screaming*/ (This can’t be doing my vocal cords any good.)

      Good god. If this is the rxn from administrators in the medical field, there’s no hope at all.

      • NW Luna says:

        I’m reporting this to the union if it hasn’t already been reported, and if it’ll do any good. Maybe relate it to some other places; perhaps because of whom we serve it may get some adverse publicity. Unfortunately I’ve heard about so many similar situations in other medical organizations.

        I will use my at-risk status and reference my state’s guidelines to decline any re-assignment to risky duty or to coming in to the facility when I can work just as well remotely. (spits in management’s direction) I despite administrators’ use of healthcare workers’ altruism to guilt us into unsafe practice. It doesn’t only put ourselves at risk but our patients also.

  21. NW Luna says:

    One spot of good news:

  22. NW Luna says:

    (Snort!)

    • quixote says:

      Indeed. What’s wrong with that guy? That’s the problem with the Repubs. They never think anything through. Grab the immediate thought, profit, whatever, and go.