Thursday Reads: Living Through a Pandemic with a Lunatic in Charge

Good Morning!!

Finally, after months of dithering, Trump has settled on a strategy for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. He has decided to force businesses to reopen and let tens of thousands–maybe millions–of Americans sicken and die in a futile attempt to save the economy. This goal will be aided by a massive cover-up of scientific information and a propaganda campaign to claim victory. Of course it won’t work, but we are all going to pay the price for Trump’s insane delusions.

Let’s examine the evidence.

AP Exclusive: Admin shelves CDC guide to reopening country.

A set of detailed documents created by the nation’s top disease investigators meant to give step-by-step advice to local leaders deciding when and how to reopen public places such as mass transit, day care centers and restaurants during the still-raging pandemic has been shelved by the Trump administration.

The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.

It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it.

That’s right. Trump tried to cover-up the CDC’s plan for a safe reopening of state economies.

Traditionally, it’s been the CDC’s role to give the public and local officials guidance and science-based information during public health crises. During this one, however, the CDC has not had a regular, pandemic-related news briefing in nearly two months. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has been a member of the White House coronavirus task force, but largely absent from public appearances.

The dearth of real-time, public information from the nation’s experts has struck many current and former government health officials as dangerous.

“CDC has always been the public health agency Americans turn to in a time of crisis,” said Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard professor and former health official in the Obama administration during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. “The standard in a crisis is to turn to them for the latest data and latest guidance and the latest press briefing. That has not occurred, and everyone sees that.”

The Trump administration has instead sought to put the onus on states to handle COVID-19 response. This approach to managing the pandemic has been reflected in President Donald Trump’s public statements, from the assertion that he isn’t responsible for the country’s lackluster early testing efforts, to his description last week of the federal government’s role as a “supplier of last resort” for states in need of testing aid.

Putin couldn’t have made a more authoritarian decision. Fortunately, we still have remnant of a free press.

Peter Baker at The New York Times: Trump’s New Coronavirus Message: Time to Move On to the Economic Recovery.

Confronted with America’s worst public health crisis in generations, President Trump declared himself a wartime president. Now he has begun doing what past commanders have done when a war goes badly: Declare victory and go home.

The war, however, does not seem over. Outside New York, the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is still growing, not receding. The latest death toll estimates have more than doubled from what Mr. Trump predicted just weeks ago. And polls show the public is not ready to restore normal life.

But Mr. Trump’s cure-can’t-be-worse-than-the-disease logic is clear: As bad as the virus may be, the cost of the virtual national lockdown has grown too high. With more than 30 million people out of work and businesses collapsing by the day, keeping the country at home seems unsustainable. With the virus still spreading and no vaccine available until next year at the earliest, though, the president has decided that for life to resume for many, some may have to die.

“Hopefully that won’t be the case,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday when asked if deaths would rise as a result of reopening, but added, “It could very well be the case.”

That’s pretty clear. Trump is willing to sacrifice our lives because he thinks opening the economy will help his reelection prospects.

A bit more from Baker:

The president has made little effort to reconcile his increasing pressure to reopen with the increasing death toll, instead boasting that the government is now in better shape to deal with new cases with more ventilators, masks and other equipment.

“I think he has given up on the hard stuff and as a consequence is writing off people’s lives,” said Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama and now a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

“Not, unfortunately, in exchange for a better economic outcome,” he added. “The economy — hiring, consumer spending, buying cars, getting on airplanes, signing leases — isn’t going to happen. It’s not going to happen until we have demonstrated we can navigate this global health crisis.”

Most Americans do not have confidence in that yet, preferring that the president and their states take a slower course in the name of public health. By a ratio of two to one, those surveyed by Monmouth University in a poll released this week were more concerned about lifting restrictions too quickly rather than too slowly. And 56 percent said the more important factor should be making sure as few people get sick as possible, while 33 percent said it was more important to prevent the economy from sinking into a profound downturn.

Erin Banco at The Daily Beast: Trump Wants a Quick Reopening. Data His Own White House Is Examining Shows It Could Be a Disaster.

One of the studies that the Trump administration is relying on as it moves ahead with plans to reopen the U.S. economy warns that even if states take the necessary steps to ease social distancing restrictions, counties across the country—both big and small—will see a significant spread of coronavirus.

The study, which was put together by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is in the hands of top coronavirus task force officials and people working with the team, sources confirmed to The Daily Beast. It projects that if officials move too quickly and too aggressively to reopen in mid May, individual counties could witness hundreds, if not a thousand-plus, more coronavirus cases reported each day by August 1. Just two weeks more social distancing, the study projects, could reduce infections substantially—with potentially hundreds of thousands of fewer cases if the projections are conservatively expanded out to all 3,000-plus counties across the country.

The modeling shows that those counties exist in various parts of the country, in both urban and rural communities. In almost all cases, counties would see notably fewer cases per day if they waited to ease social distancing restrictions until June 1, according to the study’s projections. The model also suggests that states moving to ease restrictions should consider allowing individual counties to craft their own policies. Under the projections, one county could experience significantly different daily case numbers than others in the state—even those nearby—merely by continuing to adhere to social distancing protocols.

“There’s going to be transmission if people stop sheltering in place,” Dr. Rubin, the director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in an interview. “It’s not that all [counties] are safe to reopen. Every area is extremely sensitive to the amount of distancing you’re doing. The more cautious you are the better.”

But Trump is so delusional that he’s going to ignore all the warnings. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that the people who have to do the actual work of the economy and people who will buy goods and services may not want to go along with his plans.

Another part of Trump’s plan is to try to cover up the numbers of infections and deaths. Axios: Trump and some top aides question accuracy of virus death toll.

President Trump has complained to advisers about the way coronavirus deaths are being calculated, suggesting the real numbers are actually lower — and a number of his senior aides share this view, according to sources with direct knowledge.

What’s next: A senior administration official said he expects the president to begin publicly questioning the death toll as it closes in on his predictions for the final death count and damages him politically.

— The U.S. death toll has surpassed 71,000, with more than 1.2 million confirmed cases, according to the latest figures.

— Trump’s engagement could amplify a partisan gulf we saw in this week’s Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index over believing the death statistics.

Reality check: There is no evidence the death rate has been exaggerated, and experts believe coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are being undercounted — not overcounted.

Behind the scenes: The official said Trump has vented that the numbers seem inflated and has brought up New York’s addition of more than 3,000 unconfirmed but suspected COVID-19 cases to its death toll.

The propaganda is working on Trump’s followers, who likely get most of their “information” from Fox News and other right wing sources.

NBC News: ‘What are we doing this for?’: Doctors are fed up with conspiracies ravaging ERs.

At the end of another long shift treating coronavirus patients, Dr. Hadi Halazun opened his Facebook page to find a man insisting to him that “no one’s dying” and that the coronavirus is “fake news” drummed up by the news media.

Hadi tried to engage and explain his firsthand experience with the virus. In reply, another user insinuated that he wasn’t a real doctor, saying pictures from his profile showing him at concerts and music festivals proved it.

“I told them: ‘I am a real doctor. There are 200 people in my hospital’s ICU,'” said Halazun, a cardiologist in New York. “And they said, ‘Give me your credentials.’ I engaged with them, and they kicked me off their wall.”

“I left work and I felt so deflated. I let it get to me.”

Halazun, like many other health care professionals, is dealing with a bombardment of misinformation and harassment from conspiracy theorists, some of whom have moved beyond posting online to pressing doctors for proof of the severity of the pandemic.

And it’s taking a toll. Halazun said dealing with conspiracy theorists is the “second most painful thing I’ve had to deal with, other than separation of families from their loved one.”

Several other doctors shared similar experiences, saying that they regularly had to treat patients who had sought care too late because of conspiracy theories spread on social media and that social media companies have to do more to counteract the forces that spread lies for profit.

“Folks delaying seeking care or, taking the most extreme case, somebody drinking bleach as a result of structural factors just underlines the fact that we have not protected the public from disinformation,” Maru said.

I don’t know what the solution to this is for those of us who are sane and think logically. We are stuck will Trump until at least January 2021 unless Republicans wake up and realize that people in red states are as vulnerable as those in blue states. Even then, would Republicans stand up to Trump?

Sorry this post is such a downer, but we have to face reality. We are on our own, and our only defense is to stay at home as much as possible and try to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Please take care Sky Dancers!

43 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Living Through a Pandemic with a Lunatic in Charge”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The Washington Post: Top Republican fundraiser and Trump ally named postmaster general, giving president new influence over Postal Service.

    A top donor to President Trump and the Republican National Committee will be named the new head of the Postal Service, putting a top ally of the president in charge of an agency where Trump has long pressed for major changes in how it handles its business.

    The Postal Service’s board of governors confirmed late Wednesday that Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman who is currently in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, will serve as the new postmaster general.

    The action will install a stalwart Trump ally to lead the Postal Service, which he has railed against for years, and probably move him closer than ever before to forcing the service to renegotiate its terms with companies and its own union workforce. Trump’s Treasury Department and the Postal Service are in the midst of a negotiation over a $10 billion line of credit approved as part of coronavirus legislation in March….

    Trump has indicated he wants the Postal Service to dramatically raise fees for delivering packages for customers such as Amazon in exchange for tapping the line of credit. Trump has long argued that Amazon doesn’t pay the Postal Service enough, a charge the agency has fiercely contested. (Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post.)

    • NW Luna says:

      Has absolutely no experience for the job. He’ll be a disaster, which is what Trump wants. And voting by mail suddenly looks very vulnerable.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    This is an old post, but it’s even more relevant now. Why is Trump doing everything he can to kill Americans?

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      At the very least the military knows what we all know:

      we know almost nothing about this disease.

      So we don’t know what the downstream complications can be if you survive. What’s becoming obvious is that it can attack multiple organ systems. A recruit who signs up and then has to get kidney dialysis or whose lungs turn out to be too damaged to carry a 50 lb pack is not much use to the military.

      Nor are they going to have an easy life in general, and it’ll be worse without national health care.

      All of this is obvious. The question, to me, is why, even with death staring them and us in the face, the media insists on this idiotic framing of “Oh gee whiz we have no idea what the answers might be.”

      • Enheduanna says:

        It’ll be interesting if social security disability can be used for future victims with these issues.

      • NW Luna says:

        Also question of reactivation after the disease has been quiescent.

    • Enheduanna says:

      BB that link tells me the tweet is no longer available? It’s probably me…

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. Enheduanna says:

    Thanks for posting BB – I know its hard to distill all this horror on a daily basis.

    My theory on Dump’s scuttling the CDC report is his friends at Merd-a-Lardo and top donors want businesses to be immune from responsibility for their employees and customers by having to adhere to CDC guidelines.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    Here’s an example of that NBC article:

  9. NW Luna says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    Okay. We are a Banana Republic thanks to Trump and to Barr …

    • dakinikat says:

      • NW Luna says:

    • dakinikat says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

    This is a really detailed story about a reporter who has been working on the Tara Reade story for a couple of years and has tried and failed to corroborate the story or account for the many revisions Reade has made. She points out that no other women have come forward with stories of sexual assault like Reade’s latest story. She also notes that Reade is “an ardent Bernie Sanders supporter.”

  12. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      Yes. Why is it not obvious to *anyone* that your only choice is people AND the economy.

      The economy depends on people. It’s made up of people, for god’s sake. It’s BOTH/AND.

      Never either/or.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Especially here. Our economy is largely based on consumer spending. Now people have no money to spend even if they wanted to go out and risk their lives.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      I wonder if *this* will finally get red state attention??

      Probably not. They’ll just up the compensation they have so much practice with. Bigger trucks. Bigger tires on the trucks. More conspiracy theories. (They can’t do bigger guns. They’re already at the max.)

      • NW Luna says:

        (They can’t do bigger guns. They’re already at the max.)

        Don’t mention it to them or they’ll try.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    What a shame this woman never had a chance to run in a single primary. She’s brilliant.

  15. NW Luna says:

  16. NW Luna says:

    He could try wearing a mask.

    • NW Luna says:

    • Well, just as a precaution, maybe they should both mainline some clorox … it knocks our the corona virus in a MINUTE.

  17. NW Luna says: