Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

As I sat down to write this post, the sound of a jackhammer began somewhere inside or outside my building. Just what my frazzled nerves needed at 7:30AM in Trump’s dystopian nightmare America.

After midnight last night Trump sent out one his idiotic all-caps tweets:

And this morning, “Criminal Intent” is trending on Twitter. A sampling of the mocking replies:

This is the world we live in now. A killer virus is running rampant, the economy is a dumpster fire, and the “president” is a doddering but corrupt fool who is mocked unmercifully in the media and on-line forums.

Yesterday, Dakinikat told us about a study that suggests that recovering from Covid-19 probably doesn’t provide us with long-term immunity. Today another researcher tells us that cloth masks probably do nothing to protect us from the virus. The Asahai Shimbun: Cloth face masks offer zero shield against virus, a study shows.

Kazunari Onishi, an associate professor at St. Luke’s International University in Tokyo, found that cloth masks had a 100-percent leakage rate in terms of airborne particles penetrating the fabric and through the gap between masks and faces, substantially raising the risk of infection.

Onishi, a specialist in environmental epidemiology, tested numerous types of masks to ascertain which ones are effective in preventing infection from COVID-19.

Non-woven masks which passed filtering performance tests had a 100-percent leakage rate when not worn properly. Worn correctly, the leakage rate dropped to about 50 percent….

Onishi tested a range of masks: those made from cloth, non-woven masks, dust masks which met the N95 standard and other types, even the “Abenomasks” made of gauze distributed to every household in Japan by the central government.

Given that non-woven masks and dust masks have largely different leakage rates depending on whether they are worn correctly or not, they were compared on the basis of when they were worn casually and perfectly.

Onishi found that cloth and gauze masks had 100-percent leakage rates.

Dust masks had the lowest rate, 1 percent, when they were worn correctly. When they were worn casually, the rate was 6 percent.

With regard to non-woven masks, the type that passed the filtering performance tests had a 52-percent leakage rate when worn correctly. Masks that did not undergo the tests had an 81-percent rate.

We also recently learned that the virus is very likely spread through airborne particles. This is from MIT’s Technology Review: If the coronavirus is really airborne, we might be fighting it the wrong way.

This was the week airborne transmission became a big deal in the public discussion about covid-19. Over 200 scientists from around the world cosigned a letter to the World Health Organization urging it to take seriously the growing evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through the air. WHO stopped short of redefining SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes covid-19) as airborne but did acknowledge that more research is “urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19.”

“I honestly don’t know what people are waiting for,” says microbiologist Chad Roy of Tulane University in the US. “It doesn’t take WHO coming out to make a proclamation that it’s airborne for us to appreciate this is an airborne disease. I don’t know how much clearer it needs to be in terms of scientific evidence.” [….]

The evidence that this type of transmission is happening with SARS-CoV-2 arguably already exists. Several big studies point to airborne transmission of the virus as a major route for the spread of covid-19. Other studies have suggested the virus can remain in aerosolized droplets for hours. One new study led by Roy and his team at Tulane shows that infectious aerosolized particles of SARS-CoV-2 could actually linger in the air for up to 16 hours, and maintain infectivity much longer than MERS and SARS-CoV-1 (the other big coronaviruses to emerge this century).

We still don’t know what gives SARS-CoV-2 this airborne edge. “But it may be one reason this is a pandemic, and not simply a small outbreak like any other coronavirus,” says Roy.

What can we do to be safer? The gist is that we need to be wearing masks and staying away from crowded spaces; and repeatedly cleaning surfaces is a big waste of time and energy. Head over to Tech Review to read the details.

Naturally, Trump is doing nothing to help us deal with the pandemic and everything he can think of to make things worse. Right now the focus seems to be on attacking Dr. Fauci.

Stephen Collinson at CNN: White House turns on Fauci as disaster grows out of aggressive state openings.

Instead of focusing on the out-of-control coronavirus disaster in Florida and other early opening states, the White House is trying to destroy the reputation of one of America’s most respected public servants, Dr. Anthony Fauci, for telling the truth about how bad things are getting.

President Donald Trump is meanwhile highlighting claims that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors, media and the Democrats are lying about the country’s pandemic — the world’s worst — in order to crush the economy on which he is relying for reelection.

The new campaign of deception is accelerating a day after Florida recorded the highest-ever single daily caseload of new infections for any US state and as the daily total of confirmed cases nationwide hits a staggering 60,000. The surge is raging across southern and Western heartlands, also including Texas, Georgia and Arizona which tried to get back to normal before the curve of infections was suppressed. The resulting torrent of new cases is exposing Trump’s call for early openings, embraced by many Republican governors in defiance of CDC guidelines, as one of the worst political and economic decisions in modern history….

The campaign against Fauci, who has been one of America’s most highly regarded public health officials for decades and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush, tells an extraordinary tale of administration priorities amid a national crisis and of the brutal approach it uses to discredit any official who challenges Trump’s false narratives.

On Sunday, a White House official told CNN that several top aides to Trump were concerned about “about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things” citing his past comments on the threat from the virus and the use of masks. Sources told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Monday that the President, who hasn’t met Fauci for weeks, was annoyed with the top infectious disease specialist’s public statements and “good press.”

And there’s more scapegoating of Fauci to come, according to The Daily Beast: Top Trump Ally Preps a New Assault on Fauci.

Stephen Moore, a conservative economist who informally advises Trump on economic matters, said on Monday evening that he is working on a new policy memo that would “go after Fauci,” not just for the doctor’s proclamations on the still-raging coronavirus pandemic, but for his decades of work for the U.S. government prior to the current crisis.

“We are working on a memo that shows how many times Dr. Fauci’s been wrong during not just [this pandemic], but during his entire career,” Moore told The Daily Beast, adding that he and his team at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity had been working on it for weeks. Moore, whose failures at political and economic prognostication are routine grist for his critics, added that he and his group intend to send their final product to the White House and Trump and to “publicize it,” once ready.

Moore said that the current title of the memo is: “Dr. Wrong.”

“It will document how often his predictions have been not just wrong, but in many cases, fabulously wrong…[and it’ll be] looking at his whole career of making predictions about disease, and trying to show a pattern,” he continued. “Fauci’s been ‘Dr. Doom’… and I don’t have a problem with him being ‘Dr. Doom,’ but I have a problem with him being wrong, wrong, wrong… He’s been a detriment to getting the economy reopened, with a lot of his false predictions.”

At The Washington Post, there’s an op-ed by four former leaders of the CDC, Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher, and Richer Besser: We ran the CDC. No president ever politicized its science the way Trump has.

As America begins the formidable task of getting our kids back to school and all of us back to work safely amid a pandemic that is only getting worse, public health experts face two opponents: covid-19, but also political leaders and others attempting to undermine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the debate last week around reopening schools more safely showed, these repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk.

As of this date, the CDC guidelines, which were designed to protect children, teachers, school staffers and their families — no matter the state and no matter the politics — have not been altered. It is not unusual for CDC guidelines to be changed or amended during a clearance process that moves through multiple agencies and the White House. But it is extraordinary for guidelines to be undermined after their release. Through last week, and into Monday, the administration continued to cast public doubt on the agency’s recommendations and role in informing and guiding the nation’s pandemic response. On Sunday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos characterized the CDC guidelines as an impediment to reopening schools quickly rather than what they are: the path to doing so safely. The only valid reason to change released guidelines is new information and new science — not politics.

One of the many contributions the CDC provides our country is sound public health guidance that states and communities can adapt to their local context — expertise even more essential during a pandemic, when uncertainty is the norm. The four of us led the CDC over a period of more than 15 years, spanning Republican and Democratic administrations alike. We cannot recall over our collective tenure a single time when political pressure led to a change in the interpretation of scientific evidence.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More stories to check out today:

Jacob Stern at The Atlantic: This Is Not a Normal Mental-Health Disaster. If SARS is any lesson, the psychological effects of the novel coronavirus will long outlast the pandemic itself.

ABC News: Down-ballot races across Alabama, Maine and Texas revolve around Trump: 5 things to watch on Tuesday.

Salon: Dr. John Gartner: “Donald Trump is the most successful bio-terrorist in human history.” Psychologist and former Johns Hopkins professor on Trump’s pandemic conduct: “He is a first-degree mass murderer.”

The New Yorker: The Study That Debunks Most Anti-Abortion Arguments.

Politico: House to quickly revive legal effort to get Trump’s financial records.

Axios: House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony.

Karen Attiah at The Washington Post: The Texas Rangers’ team name must go.

Vox: What the police really believe. Inside the distinctive, largely unknown ideology of American policing — and how it justifies racist violence.

Stay home as much as you can, Sky Dancers. As Dakinikat suggested yesterday, I hope you’ll briefly check in from time to time to let us know how you’re doing. We love you all and want you to be safe!


24 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Speaking of people we miss, I wonder what MABlue is doing these days? Is he still in Germany or back in Boston? I wish I knew.

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    I received Mary Trump’s book on my Kindle this morning and am devouring it page by page.

    The entire family is without a moral compass. She is blaming Fred Trump but in all honesty, these are adults who make their own decisions. Trump is just the biggest example of a man in search of a conscience.

    Fauci’s turn in the barrel. I have no idea what it will take to unloosen the “deplorables” from supporting the fraud POTUS since it appears nothing gets through their empty heads.

  5. Enheduanna says:

    BB thanks for all the information in your post today. The mask article is terrifying. I finally ventured out to get cloth masks just yesterday (sigh). I don’t know what to do. They have an insert pocket, but I don’t know what to put in there or how to get it. Anyone know where you can get dust masks? I have one but it’s old. To think I went weeks using a bandana….

    It’s July and we still don’t have tests or masks.

    And thank you again for being a safe place to come and get information and vent our feelings!!!

    • jslat says:

      The insert pocket is for a filter. Easiest place to get them is on the big A.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Yes I realize I need a filter. My sister is using a charcoal one I think. I have filters used for vacuum cleaners I can cut up. But I’m just guessing and floundering. My frustration is the lack of a coordinated effort to inform and equip the population in this country.

        What is the big A? Internet scams scare me.

    • quixote says:

      I’m very sceptical about the mask article. When there’s over 80% mask-wearing in an area (eg Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan) infection rates drop way down.

      Unless they’re all doing something else that’s magic that nobody talks about, those masks are doing *something*.

      Obviously, social distancing and handwashing are also important, but the masks are more than face decorations.

      I’m sure experts on mask-wearing will be along in a minute to discuss the discrepancy between the lab and real world results, but something is screwy in those masks-are-useless conclusions.

      • Enheduanna says:

        I hope you are right. I am perfectly willing to wear any old one to keep my droplets in check but would obviously be happier with one that protects me from others as well. Had to stand in line at the pet store yesterday with the guy behind me 3 feet away and no mask – plus two kids. I will have to step up the stuff I have delivered.

        Still, I want an N95 mask dammit. Sorry to whine!

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m skeptical too. The guy admits the masks block droplets. They still should help if you don’t go to crowded places. I definitely don’t.

  6. lililam says:

    This is a very detailed study showing the differences in populations wearing masks and us.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/10/2009637117?fbclid=IwAR1gIEpvGYhN3YtfZmJbPeFqaT4VDhuvbvTiAB3J-ZdR_eosEceQeZvk7fM

    • quixote says:

      Excellent article. I hadn’t seen that one yet.

      Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the pandemic trends in the three epicenters. This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections, that is, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9. Other mitigation measures, such as social distancing implemented in the United States, are insufficient by themselves in protecting the public. We conclude that wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

      • lililam says:

        The sad part is those reduced case numbers look like a drop in the bucket now that we are seeing that number of cases on a daily basis. They were significant then (and still are, morally if not statistically).

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. quixote says:

    Christ on oxygen. This is apparently the Dump. AGAIN. (I think this is a recent clip. ?)

    Trump: As an example, we’ve done 45 million tests. If we did half that number, you’d have half the cases, probably around that number. If we did another half of that, you’d have half the numbers. Everyone would be saying we’re doing well on cases.