ClusterFuck Friday Reads: Can the Trumpist Regime get any more Incompetent?

Bourbon Street (a rare empty time) - Picture of New Orleans ...

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m waiting for a phone call from Doctor Daughter who was on call last night at her hospital in the Seattle Burbs.  Youngest Daughter joined my graduate class in Derivatives on Wednesday night to talk about Options strategies and the consumer retail brokerage market from Denver to the students held up here in New Orleans.  I’m beginning to feel superfluous which is fine but I worry about them both.  I especially fret about the doctors in Seattle and I can only imagine the stories that I will hear today.

My paychecks continue and I’m paying my bills which keeps me in the thankful old lady range.  I’m trying like crazy not to get sick again although I–like BB–wonder if the Mardi Gras Flu that kept me sick and home for 3 weeks last month was COVID 19 instead of Influenza Type B.  At this point, I’d be glad to have some antibodies because my lean/mean blue cross blue shield ACA health plan keeps me from doing anything but the required annual visits, etc.  I’m having to hold out to get sick or whatever until the less expensive–but still not inexpensive–Medicare becomes available to me in the fall.

 

So now the narrative is that my city is supposedly to  blame as the supposedly evil place that gave it to the rest of the country because Mardi Gras.  This is from the NYT.  We’ve reached the demonize the cities with all those people of color portion of deflecting blame from the Orange Snot Blob.

In a grim irony, there is a rising suspicion among medical experts that the crisis may have been accelerated by Mardi Gras — the weekslong citywide celebration that unfolds in crowded living rooms, ballrooms and city streets — which this year culminated on Feb. 25.

It is the city’s trademark expression of joy — and an epidemiologist’s nightmare.

“I think it all boils down to Mardi Gras,” said Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr., a former health director of New Orleans and a specialist in infectious disease. “The greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator at the perfect time.”

The feeling is at once familiar and distinct for a city whose history is punctuated with epic disasters, including the deadly yellow fever outbreaks of 1853 and 1905, and Hurricane Katrina a century later in 2005. Once again, New Orleanians are afraid they could be neglected by national leaders, only this time because the coronavirus is a worldwide calamity.

“This hurricane’s coming for everybody,” said Broderick Bagert, an organizer with the community organizing group Together Louisiana.

Mr. Edwards, who, like most other Louisiana governors, has extensive experience dealing with hurricanes, said the state was struggling to confront this new kind of disaster. “We don’t really have a playbook on this one,” he said.

“If you have a flood or a hurricane it’s only a small part of the country that’s affected, so you can get the full attention of the federal government and you can get a lot of help from sister states,” he said. “That’s not possible right now because this is in every state in our country.”

As a kind of ghostliness settles over a locked-down nation, the effect of social distancing feels particularly jarring in New Orleans, a city that runs on intimacy — from the deep webs of kinship and geography that connect families and neighborhoods to the fleeting threads that bind strangers and regulars in storied restaurants and packed, sweaty clubs.

 

The fact that the Trumpist regime underplayed this disease at a time it was arriving in places like Seattle, Boston, NYC and yes, New Orleans cannot be underplayed right now. Nor can the fact that Trump refuses to truly act to flatten the curve and step up the production of hospital supplies and ICU beds in first, the worst hit cities, and then seeing that it continues to go to the next wave of places.

None of our cities are to blame. The Federal Government clearly botched this from the very beginning.

The Next Coronavirus Hot Spot: Louisiana Races to Prepare for the ...

From WAPO: “From party to pandemic: New Orleans fears Mardis Gras fueled coronavirus outbreak as cases spike”.

More than a million dancing, singing, bead-catching celebrants packed the streets of the French Quarter and other venues across this city in the weeks leading up to the sprawling open-air party that is Mardi Gras.

There was little worry during the February festivities about the new virus that had infected a few dozen people in other parts of the country. The city’s top health official believed the flu “is far more dangerous right now than the coronavirus,” she told the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate newspaper.

Thirteen days later, on March 9, Louisiana reported its first case of covid-19. Then came another, and another. Clusters broke out in several nursing homes. The cases popping up across the state were not easily linked to each other, meaning that a galloping community spread was already underway.

A terrible realization began to dawn on residents and political leaders: The famous bonhomie of the world’s biggest free party may have helped supercharge one of the most rapid spreads of the coronavirus, which is now threatening to overwhelm Louisiana’s health-care system and potentially make the state one of the next epicenters.

“We had people from all over the world. We also had the spread of this virus, and people did not realize it was spreading,” said Rebekah Gee, a former state health secretary now on the faculty of Louisiana State University’s medical school. “So people not only caught beads, but they caught covid-19.”

As of Thursday, Louisiana had reported 2,305 cases and 83 deaths related to coronavirus — with about two-thirds of the cases and deaths in the New Orleans metro area. During the first two weeks of known infections, the virus was coursing through Louisiana at an extraordinarily rapid pace, according to an analysis by Gary Wagner, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He found that the rate of growth in that period was the highest in the world.

Gov. Edwards: 'Our Trajectory Is Basically The Same As What They ...

One of the biggest barriers to progress is Jared Kushner’s Shadow Task force which CREW says violates multiple laws.

Jared Kushner’s shadow coronavirus task force appears to be violating both the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by using private email accounts with no assurance their communications are being preserved and by meeting in secret, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The failure of the White House to comply with any of the PRA and FACA requirements leaves the public in the dark about the work the shadow task force has done and the influence of private industries on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kushner’s task force, composed of a team of allies from within the government and representatives from private industries, has operated adjacent to the official government task force spearheaded by Vice President Pence. With confusion over the shadow task force’s role and who its members are, and reports that the members of the shadow task force communicate using private email accounts, CREW has reason to believe the White House is not creating and maintaining accurate and complete records of the shadow task force’s activities as required by the PRA.

“If there was ever a time we need records and transparency, this is it. As the seriousness of this pandemic continues to grow, the public needs to understand who in the White House is making policy decisions, who from private industry is influencing those decisions, and how decisions to address this pandemic are being made,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “After this crisis has passed, we will need to be able to look back at how this administration responded to the situation and have the full picture of what was going on behind closed doors in order to understand what we could do better in the future.”

The PRA requires the president and his staff to document, preserve and maintain records of “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the President’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.” With Kushner at the head, the shadow task force’s development and implementation of federal strategies to address the coronavirus pandemic fall within these requirements.

The shadow task force also appears to fall under FACA provisions, which are triggered whenever a committee within the Executive Office of the President is advising the president and is not “composed wholly of full-time, or permanent part-time, officers or employees of the Federal Government.” The FACA prohibits such committees from being “inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest.” Contrary to the FACA’s requirements, the shadow task force is operating in secret, with neither the members of Kushner’s committee nor their interests fully disclosed to the public. Understanding and preserving the committee’s actions and conversations will be key in understanding how the administration ultimately decided to approach its COVID-19 response efforts.

Notice the part about Kushner’s private emails.

Photos: New Orleans' French Quarter Deserted With COVID-19 Social ...

Trump has pulled back the offer of ventilators to NYC, demonized Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, and now appears to be attacking GM and FORD who are simply waiting for the proper channels to get activated.  WTF?

The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.

The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.

Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals. And they contend that an initial promise that the joint venture could turn out 20,000 ventilators in short order had shrunk to 7,500, with even that number in doubt. Longtime emergency managers at FEMA are working with military officials to sort through the competing offers and federal procurement rules while under pressure to give President Trump something to announce.

But in an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity, the president played down the need for ventilators.

Fear and uncertainty in New Orleans: A city in the grip of ...

This is an interesting headline from a Michigan: “‘After Trump Attacks Whitmer, She Says Vendors Aren’t Sending Desperately Needed Coronavirus Supplies. “They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan.”‘  

After President Donald Trump issued scathing comments about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying she’s “not stepping up,” and “doesn’t know what’s going on,” she told WWJ 950 the state is having trouble getting the equipment they need to fight the novel coronavirus.

“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer said live on air. “It’s really concerning, I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

The other stuff was Trump speaking with Sean Hannity on FOX News about Whitmer, a Democrat who has said very pointed things about the federal government’s lack of coordinated response to the coronavirus crisis. Trump said of Whitmer, “She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant … “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints.”

Michigan’s request for disaster assistance has not yet been approved by the White House, and Trump told Hannity he’s still weighing it.

“She doesn’t get it done, and we send her a lot. Now, she wants a declaration of emergency, and, you know, we’ll have to make a decision on that. But Michigan is a very important state. I love the people of Michigan.”

In her public addresses closing schools, bars and restaurants, and issuing a shelter in place order, Whitmer has complained about the federal’s government lack of organization and state assistance, but she told WWJ she has never personally attacked the president.

“It’s very distressing,” she said about Trump’s attack, noting that she was only one of several governors who noted “the federal preparation was concerning.”

But she apparently struck a nerve with the president. And now the question is whether the leader of the free world could possibly take it out on medical professionals, patients and communities who desperately need help.

“I’ve been uniquely singled out,” Whitmer said. “I don’t go into personal attacks, I don’t have time for that, I don’t have energy for that, frankly. All of our focus has to be on COVID-19.”

This continued pettiness ruling our National Public Health Policy and Actions should be called out immediately.  I still believe no press outlet other tha CSPAN should be carrying the Trump’s political and disinformation-laden pressers.  They can edit him out and play the Science portion and quit scaring the rest of us.  But look, he didn’t cancel his damned rallies during the same Mardi Gras period.

So, I guess if me sitting home is the best I can do to help this, here I sit.  Still, we rely heavily on our Congress Critters to do the right thing right now.  You still might want to give them a ring and an earful.  Please be safe!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


34 Comments on “ClusterFuck Friday Reads: Can the Trumpist Regime get any more Incompetent?”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Here’ something you may want to check while staying at home!

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      She sounds as snippy and hateful as Dump.

      I can’t begin to express how livid it makes me the Dump is withholding aid to U.S. citizens out of pique over some perceived slight. This has never been about anyone other than himself as far as he is concerned.

      I don’t know how many people really still support this travesty of a human being, or are just afraid to tell anyone they don’t’ anymore – but if we re-elect him I give up with this country.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    I said this before and I’ll say it again. I don’t trust a single word Deborah Birx says.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    dakinikat, looks like Washington state’s interventions are making a difference here.

    UW model says social distancing is starting to work

    Modeling from the UW’s [University of Washington’s] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts that hospitalizations will generally peak in mid-April…Earlier in the epidemic, the model’s forecasts for Washington were much more ominous, Murray pointed out. But it seems as if the state’s early actions — including companies shifting to remote work, school closures and limits on gatherings — have already had an impact. Hospitals across the state also moved quickly to cancel most elective surgeries and free up beds.

    “If you go back even a week ago or 10 days ago, the case predictions from those models suggested we should have had many more cases by now,” Murray said.

    Ten days ago, the models were predicting that the UW Medicine System could expect as many as 950 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at the the epidemic’s peak, said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics. The latest modeling shows a 20 to 30 percent reduction, or an expected maximum of 750 to 650 patients with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

    Since UW Medicine and its four hospitals already prepared for the earlier, worst-case scenario — identifying where to squeeze in extra beds and how to mobilize additional staff — Brandenburg said she’s increasingly confident they will be able to handle the surge.

    “Generally speaking, it’s very good news for us that the curve seems to be flattening here in Washington state, but it doesn’t mean we don’t still have a substantial amount of work to be done, in terms of taking care of people in the region.”

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/uw-model-says-social-distancing-is-starting-to-work-but-still-projects-1400-coronavirus-deaths-in-the-state/

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s great news.

      Unfortunately the red states are going to keep spreading it.

    • NW Luna says:

      the percentage of positive tests in Washington is 7 to 8%, compared to the 25 to 30% in the New York area, and the deaths are rising at a slower rate here than other states, he said.

      In fact, Washington’s mortality rate for positive cases — which spiked amid an early outbreak at a Kirkland nursing home — has dropped from about 8% on March 11 to 5% on Thursday. Meantime, New York’s death rate has climbed — from about 0.4% of positive cases on March 14, to more than 1% as of Thursday.

      Yet, even when Washington reaches the apex of its curve, public health officials have warned that social-distancing measures will still be necessary to prevent a new surge of positive cases.

      The UW virology lab, which at a high tested 2,857 individual patient samples in one day on March 18, has been able to keep up with the testing demand with a typical turnaround of test results in 10 to 12 hours, Greninger [assistant director of UWMC’s clinical virology laboratories] said. The lab also will expanding its capacity soon, he added.

    • NW Luna says:

      Where coronavirus outbreak started in Washington state, officials see hope as cases appear to be leveling off

      The suburban hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago — a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national health crisis — is now offering cautious optimism to people across the United States who are searching for an end to the springtime nightmare: They believe they might have flattened the curve here.

      At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals.

      “We don’t know if this last two weeks has been a calm before the storm or if the social distancing and all those things that are being practiced are working,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Jeff Tomlin, whose hospital has handled 40 of Washington state’s more than 130 virus-related deaths. He said the hospital is no longer overwhelmed, though it still lacks needed supplies.

      In the state that saw the nation’s first confirmed covid-19 case on Jan. 31, and the first recorded coronavirus-related death on Feb. 29, initial dire predictions of massive spikes have waned even as testing has increased rapidly. While the number of cases in Washington state grew by as much as 28 percent in one day on March 15 — it has since slowed significantly statewide, as have hospitalizations and deaths.

      State authorities said there have been 2,580 positive cases and 132 deaths, and as testing in Washington has ramped up, the percentage of positive cases has remained low — holding at about 7 percent.

      “We know this is still a dire challenge, we know we have not turned the corner and we are not even close to the end of this battle, but we do think there is some evidence that our community mitigation strategy — to close schools, restaurants and theaters, to prohibit gatherings — we think these things have slowed the rate of increase in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties,” [Gov.] Inslee said during a news conference Thursday, pointing to a graph showing Washington’s rate of new cases beginning to flatten while most other states trend upward.

      • bostonboomer says:

        This is great news. I’ll have to tell my sister who lives in Portland, OR. Lots of Washington people commute there for work and she is worried.

        • NW Luna says:

          The hot spots were much further north, so probably not much difference between Portland and Longview.

    • dakinikat says:

      Gosh I hope so … I know my sister is only doing walks now and is staying inside but Jean’s practice is only the OB patients right now so volume on everything seems way down. A friend just got laid off with her unit from a high tech company. Every one is watching you and New York and hoping for the best.

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. NW Luna says:

    When you think he can’t say anything more cringe-inducing, he goes lower.

    Trump orders GM to manufacture ventilators under the Defense Production Act

    “As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump tweeted. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.”

    “Always a mess with Mary B.,” he added, referring to Mary T. Barra, the company’s chief executive. “Invoke P,” Trump said in the tweet.

    In a subsequent tweet, he explained that “Invoke ‘P’ means Defense Production Act!”

    “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!” he wrote. “FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!”

    The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Trump’s intentions.

    • quixote says:

      Whiplash. Was it two hours ago? Or yesterday? I dunno, it’s all running together. Didn’t the Orange Stain say Nah, he changed his mind, he didn’t want no stinkin ventilators? There might be a couple left over and that would be a waste.

      Now he’s jumping up and down and screaming that they have to make ventilators.

      What did I miss?

  9. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

  10. dakinikat says: