Posted: October 10, 2020 Filed under: just because | Tags: 2020 presidential election, Amy Coney Barrett, caturday, coronavirus, Donald Trump, superspreader events
Photo by Cecil Beaton, 1930s
The election is just 23 days away, and Trump is desperate. It’s difficult for Democrats traumatized by the 2016 horror to trust the polls, but things really are looking bad for the Covid-weakened orange lunatic.
Sahil Kapur at NBC News: ‘The president is likely toast’: Trump’s woes raise GOP fears of a blue wave.
A series of setbacks for President Donald Trump has left some Republican operatives and donors fearing that the race for the White House is slipping away and proposing that the party shift focus to protecting seats in Congress.
Vulnerable GOP candidates are currently tethered to an unpopular president, fighting for survival against a potential blue wave after Trump’s widely panned performance in the first debate, his coronavirus diagnosis and his erratic behavior on economic stimulus talks.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Trump has topped 10 points in the NBC News national polling average. Across the country, Trump is hemorrhaging support among seniors and faces widespread defections among white college graduates, particularly women.
“The president has had possibly the worst two-week stretch that a candidate could have going into the final month of an election,” Ken Spain, a Republican strategist, said.
Sailor on board the HMAS Melbourne holding two ship’s cats, 1917I
Spain, who worked for the party’s House election arm during Barack Obama’s blowout 7 percentage point first presidential victory, said he sees “echoes of 2008” in the current landscape, with growing chances of a tsunami that drowns congressional Republican candidates.
“In 2016, the president was a buoy. In 2020, he’s more of an anchor. There’s no question there are going to be losses down the ballot,” he said. “Six months ago, Republicans were hoping that we would be talking about Senate races in Colorado, Arizona and Maine. Instead, there’s concern about the potential outcomes in states like South Carolina, Georgia and Kansas.”
Politico: Republicans are finally ready to diss Don.
For Republicans, fearful of a possible electoral disaster just weeks away, it has become safe at last to diss Donald Trump — or at least to distance themselves from him in unmistakably purposeful ways.
A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.
* Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas acknowledging in a Friday interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he’s “worried” about the election, which he warned could be a “bloodbath of Watergate proportions” for his party, depending on how voters view the pandemic and economy on Election Day.
* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters Thursday he has not been to the White House in more than two months, since Aug. 6, because he doesn’t have confidence that Trump and his team are practicing good coronavirus hygiene. McConnell said, “my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”
* Sen. Thom Tillis, in a perilous fight for reelection in North Carolina, telling POLITICO in an interview that one reason to vote for him is to help Republicans keep their Senate majority as “the best check on a Biden presidency.”
* Sen. Martha McSally, running behind in her bid to keep her Arizona seat, refusing to say at a debate with challenger Mark Kelly — despite being pressed repeatedly by the moderator — whether she is proud of being a backer of Trump. “Well, I’m proud that I’m fighting for Arizonans on things like cutting your taxes … ” she filibustered.
* Sen. John Cornyn, still ahead in polls but facing a tougher-than-usual race in Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that Trump did not practice “self-discipline” in combating the coronavirus, and that his efforts to signal prematurely that the pandemic is receding are creating “confusion” with the public. Trump got “out over his skis,” Cornyn said.
Meanwhile, Trump will resume his superspreader events today, even though we have no way of knowing whether Trump is still contagious, because the White House will not provide results of any recent tests or the date of his last negative test before contracting the coronavirus.
Bijin with a Kitten 1907
The Washington Post: Trump will speak at a public event at the White House; it is not clear if he’s still contagious with coronavirus.
The afternoon event — scheduled to feature Trump speaking from a balcony to a crowd of supporters on the South Lawn — has already caused concern among some officials in the White House, which has been rocked by an outbreak of the deadly disease, according to administration officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans.
But Trump has brushed aside his advisers’ calls for caution, instead embracing a political strategy built on playing down the virus and using his own battle with it to argue that the nation has already overcome the pandemic.
“People are going to get immediately better like I did. I mean, I feel better now than I did two weeks ago. It’s crazy,” Trump told Rush Limbaugh on his talk radio show Friday, a day when more than 850 Americans died of the coronavirus. “And I recovered immediately, almost immediately. I might not have recovered at all from covid.”
Speaking from the balcony like Mussolini again–brilliant.
Trump’s campaign announced that he would lead a rally in Florida on Monday at an airport hangar, similar to the events he had been doing before his diagnosis. There was no indication that extra safety precautions would be in place or that social distancing would be encouraged.
“All attendees will be given a temperature check, masks which they are encouraged to wear and access to hand sanitizer,” the campaign said, using language similar to previous announcements before events where few attendees wore masks.
Woman holding cat, 1940s
And, get this: the rally will be in Sanford, FL! Will George Zimmerman be invited?
Results are still coming in from Trump’s previous superspreader events.
Politico: Nine coronavirus cases tied to Trump Minnesota rally.
Nine people who have contracted the coronavirus reported attending a Donald Trump rally in Bemidji, Minn., last month, state health officials said Friday, including two who were hospitalized.
One of them remains in an intensive care unit.
Doug Schultz, a Minnesota Department of Health spokesman, said in an email that the department cannot say definitively that the infections were acquired at the rally, due to widespread community transmission of the disease — “only that they attended the rally during the time when they were likely to have been exposed to the virus that made them ill (i.e. 14 days prior to illness onset).”
At least one person was likely infectious while at the rally, the department said.
Two other people who contracted the virus reported attending a protest in response to the rally.
The Washington Post: Two students and a teacher at school attended by Barrett children test positive for coronavirus.
Seaman with a cat and kitten, c 1910, Australian Maritime Museum
A private school in South Bend, Ind., attended by some children of President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, notified parents late Thursday that two students and a teacher had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The emails from the Trinity School principal came less than two weeks after the Barrett family was honored at a White House event attended by several people who subsequently tested positive for the virus, including President Trump. The principal’s announcement alarmed some school families, though there is no evidence linking the school infections to the White House event.
Two of Barrett’s children are of high school age.
At USA Today, two experts speculate about what could be happening with Trump’s health: Trump’s COVID prognosis: 3 scenarios based on sparse facts from an opaque White House, by Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Dr. Vin Gupta
At a minimum, there will be 3.5 months between when President Donald Trump first contracted coronavirus and when a president will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. While this seems a brief time, the world is a dangerous place. President Trump’s health matters.
What can the American public anticipate regarding his expected clinical course over this time period? The answer to this question is absolutely vital, since many survivors of severe COVID-19 pneumonia (which the president had) have experienced setbacks, hospital readmissions and prolonged intensive care stays requiring months of rehabilitation.
An English Woman and her cat
►Scenario One: Trump rapidly recovers from his pneumonia with no residual effects in approximately two weeks’ time from the onset of his symptoms (Oct. 1). This is the best case outcome for him, his inner circle and the country’s national security. The shortage of information makes the likelihood of this scenario ultimately unknown, although Trump planned to resume public events as early as Saturday. He is unique in receiving the Regeneron cocktail almost immediately after diagnosis in combination with Dexamethasone and Remdesivir.
►Scenario Two: Trump is readmitted to Walter Reed for recurrent shortness of breath and low oxygen levels, an outcome that would amount to a guilty verdict that the president’s physicians were uniquely cavalier in permitting discharge when virtually every other expert argued otherwise.
What’s clear about COVID-19 is that its course is unpredictable across demographics and even within the same age or ethnic category. Yet, there’s consensus that those older than 65 years of age, particularly those like the president who are technically obese, are hospitalized and ultimately die at far higher rates than the rest of the population. Of these victims, many have variable courses. Some initially improve, as in the case of the president, only to decline again 7-10 days after symptom onset, often with severe manifestations requiring ICU-level care.
Stopping short of speculating on probabilities for this scenario, the data is clear: More than 90% of individuals who end up hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one cardiovascular risk factor like obesity and are primarily elderly (65 or older).The president meets both criteria. Therefore, a friendly pre-recorded TV interview aside, vigilance is demanded, particularly as the president continues to be symptomatic as evidenced by his coughing on the phone Thursday night with Fox’s Sean Hannity.
►Scenario Three: Trump recovers from the acute episode but goes on to develop chronic symptoms. This is the vaguest of possibilities but physicians are seeing a growing number of “long-haulers” — individuals who’ve survived severe COVID-19 pneumonia after a hospitalization, but months after their initial recovery, they have not regained full functionality and their normal activity level. In addition to fatigue and shortness of breath, many experience some mental fog or slowness. Only time will tell if this outcome is the president’s fate, but as we learn more about COVID-19’s impacts on the human body, it is one to keep closely in mind.
More stories to check out, links only:
CNN: Biden enters final weeks in commanding position as Trump wastes precious days.
The New York Times: Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled.
Olivia Nuzzi at New York Magazine: The Entire Trump Presidency is a Superspreading Event.
The Daily Beast: Sixteen ‘Boogaloo’ Followers Have Been Busted in 7 Days.
NBC News: Regeneron board member and executive sell $1 million in stock after Trump touts treatment.
USA Today: Live updates: Delta weakens to tropical storm; 780K without power as heavy rains, winds continue to pound Louisiana.
NBC News: North Korea holds military parade with missiles.
New York Daily News: Trump, Pompeo hope to release Hillary Clinton emails the president has been ranting about for years.
Have a nice Indigenous People’s Day weekend and please drop by Sky Dancing blog if you have the time and inclination. We love to hear from you!
Posted: October 8, 2020 Filed under: just because | Tags: Chris Christie, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Crede Bailey, Donald Trump, gold star families, Kamala Harris, Mike Pence, New England Journal of Medicine, presidential debates 2020, superspreader events, White House hot spot
I’m not going to spend much time on the vice presidential debate in today’s post. CNN’s post-debate poll showed Kamala Harris was the winner.
I don’t think Mike Pence did a very good job of defending Trump, and that’s what he needed to do. He lied again and again with a straight face–that has always been his modus operandi. He refused to answer a question about what states should do about abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and–worst of all–he dodged a question about whether there will be a peaceful transition of power if Trump loses. From The Daily Beast:
At the tail end of Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate—one that was noticeably less fiery and chaotic than last week’s presidential clash—Vice President Mike Pence completely avoided answering what he would do if President Donald Trump refuses to step down if he loses the election….
The veep first said that he thinks his ticket will win re-election before accusing Democrats of not accepting the outcome of the 2016 election, bringing up the Russia investigation and the impeachment of the president. After invoking former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s advice that Joe Biden shouldn’t concede on election night if the results are close, Pence reiterated his belief that Trump would be re-elected.
“President Trump and I are fighting every day to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from changing the rules and creating a massive opportunity for voter fraud,” he concluded. “If we have a free and fair election, we’ll have confidence in it.”
Matt Flegenheimer and Annie Karni at The New York Times: Pence, Peerless Trump Defender, Confronts His Limits.
Vice President Mike Pence approached his task on Wednesday as he has approached his four years as the executive straight man to an unruly leader: not merely defending President Trump but effectively insisting, with poker-faced conviction, that those who doubt his boss should not believe their eyes and ears.
The trouble this time was not Mr. Pence’s skill set on this front, which remains peerless. It was the fact set underpinning this debate, which remains inconvenient to an administration so overwhelmed by the virus that its own West Wing has become a hot spot.
And so Mr. Pence — stripped of most politically palatable explanations for the White House pandemic response — set off on a curious charge when Senator Kamala Harris said that the Trump team’s leadership “clearly” has not worked: He chose to hear it as a direct affront to the American people.
“When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn’t worked,” Mr. Pence said gravely, as controlled as his president is rambunctious onstage, “that’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made.”
At last, the strain seemed to be showing, at least a little. Perhaps that is what a full term of wear-and-tear can do to even the most accomplished rhetorical gymnast.
Or perhaps the reality is simply too bleak for any administration to explain away entirely: The president has contracted the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans on his watch. His behavior, since leaving the hospital on Monday, appears to be a continuation of the kind of scientifically dubious happy talk that has left the Trump-Pence ticket at a significant polling disadvantage four weeks before Election Day.
Yes, the story today and every day until the election will be about Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the deaths of 211,917 Americans as of this morning. In addition, Trump either doesn’t understand or simply refuses to admit that the pandemic is killing the economy.
IMHO, the biggest story this morning is the coronavirus outbreak at the White House and the obvious fact that Trump and his Trumpists have likely spread the virus very widely. Here’s the latest.
ABC News: 34 people connected to White House, more than previously known, infected by coronavirus: Internal FEMA memo.
The coronavirus outbreak has infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts” in recent days, according to an internal government memo, an indication that the disease has spread among more people than previously known in the seat of American government.
Dated Wednesday and obtained by ABC News, the memo was distributed among senior leadership at FEMA, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security and the agency responsible for managing the continuing national response to the public health disaster.
The memo also notes that a senior adviser to the president is among those infected. Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, both senior aides to the president, have tested positive in recent days.
The new figures underscore both the growing crisis in the White House and the lengths to which government officials have gone to block information about the outbreak’s spread. ABC News had previously reported that a total of 24 White House aides and their contacts had contracted the virus. It was not clear in the FEMA memo with the larger number what “other contacts” referred to.
Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg: White House Security Official Contracted Covid-19 in September.
A top White House security official, Crede Bailey, is gravely ill with Covid-19 and has been hospitalized since September, according to four people familiar with his condition.
The White House has not publicly disclosed Bailey’s illness. He became sick before the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event President Donald Trump held to announce his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that has been connected to more than a dozen cases of the disease.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Bailey. He is in charge of the White House security office, which handles credentialing for access to the White House and works closely with the U.S. Secret Service on security measures throughout the compound.
Chris Christie is still in the hospital and there has been no news about how he is doing. NJ.com:
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remains hospitalized at Morristown Medical Center, where he was admitted Saturday after testing positive COVID-19.
Christie’s current condition is not known. Hospital officials declined comment Tuesday….
Christie, who has struggled with his weight and has a lifelong history of asthma, tweeted that he checked himself into the hospital Saturday. Because of his conditions, he’s at higher risk of developing complications from the virus.
The Daily Beast: White House Quietly Told Vets Group It Might Have Exposed Them to COVID.
On the same day President Donald Trump acknowledged contracting the coronavirus, the White House quietly informed a veterans group that there was a COVID-19 risk stemming from a Sept. 27 event honoring the families of fallen U.S. service members, the head of that charitable organization told The Daily Beast.
The White House warning, which came on Oct. 2, is the earliest known outreach to visitors of the complex that there was a risk of coronavirus emerging from the grounds where the president, the first lady, and at least 17 of his aides, according to Politico, have now tested positive for the virus.
The Sept. 27 event to honor Gold Star families came the day after the White House hosted a celebration for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that appears to have been an early source of the White House outbreak, though West Wing officials have quietly disputed that linkage. It is unclear to the head of the veterans charity—the Greatest Generations Foundation—which participant’s potential positive coronavirus test sparked the warning.
USA Today: White House coronavirus outbreak may have exposed thousands from Atlanta to Minnesota.
President Donald Trump and other White House insiders infected with COVID-19 carried the virus across the country in a matter of days, potentially exposing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people as they went about their business, a USA TODAY investigation found.
From a religious summit outside Atlanta to a campaign rally at a Pennsylvania airport and a private fundraiser in Minnesota, Trump, his aides and political allies attended events with thousands of people, often without masks and little regard for social distancing….
USA TODAY reporters examined hundreds of photos and videos from news coverage and social media posts and scoured attendance logs to identify people who came in contact with those individuals.
At least 6,000 people attended meetings, rallies and other gatherings with them within a week of the Supreme Court nomination ceremony Sept. 26 in the White House Rose Garden, pegged as a potential “superspreader” event….
Epidemiologists and public health experts said USA TODAY’s analysis shows that the White House outbreak has put more people, in more places, at risk than has been previously known. It illustrates just how quickly and how far a superspreader event can carry COVID-19.
“I don’t think we know the extent of this outbreak yet … people could die,” said Danielle Ompad, an associate professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. “It’s the height of irresponsibility for people who are supposed to be leaders.”
Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t been seen in public since he returned to the White House on Monday evening. Instead he has been posting videos of himself wearing heavier make-up than usual and babbling nonsense, including claiming he has been “cured” of the virus and may be immune to it. We haven’t been told what medications Trump is still taking, and the White House and Trump’s doctors have refused to say when Trump last tested negative for the virus. ABC News reports:
The White House has repeatedly refused to disclose when President Donald Trump last tested negative for COVID-19 before he announced his infection — information that could help determine who he exposed to the virus and the severity of his illness.
The White House has also declined to confirm when and how Trump was tested before last Tuesday’s presidential debate with Joe Biden, even though both campaigns certified to debate organizers that the candidates and everyone who traveled with them to Cleveland tested negative within 72 hours of the debate.
The White House, which has made contradictory statements about when and how often Trump is tested, said the president first tested positive Thursday evening, and first discussed symptoms with his doctor at that time. Studies have shown that coronavirus patients are infectious up to two days before the onset of symptoms.
“People ought to have the right to know whether or not they should be quarantining themselves, if they’re at risk,” Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. “Potentially the president and his team have put others in harm’s way.”
While it’s not clear when Trump was infected with the virus, the White House’s silence raises questions about its compliance with debate rules, the frequency of Trump’s tests, and whether the president or his aides had concerns about him having the virus before he tested positive — as he kept up his busy schedule of campaign events.
And what about the next presidential debate? The debate commission announce that it will be done virtually, and Trump says he won’t participate and instead will hold a superspreader rally! The New York Times: Trump Objects to Commission’s Virtual Debate Plan.
President Trump, in an extraordinary break from the norms of modern campaigning, said on Thursday that he would refuse to participate in the next presidential debate after organizers changed the event to a virtual format because of health concerns about the coronavirus.
His withdrawal from the Oct. 15 event came shortly after the Commission on Presidential Debates, citing the “health and safety of all involved,” abandoned plans to stage the next in-person debate in Miami, saying that Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. would instead participate remotely from separate locations.
But Mr. Trump, whose recent contraction of the coronavirus was a significant impetus for the commission to modify its plans, immediately dismissed the idea of a remote debate as “ridiculous” and accused the debate commission without evidence of seeking to protect his Democratic opponent.
“No, I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” Mr. Trump told the Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo in a television interview. “That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it’s ridiculous.”
And this is extraordinary: the editors of The New England Journal of Medicine have publicly stated that Trump should not get a second term: Dying in a Leadership Vacuum.
Here’s the gist:
Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy….
The United States came into this crisis with enormous advantages. Along with tremendous manufacturing capacity, we have a biomedical research system that is the envy of the world. We have enormous expertise in public health, health policy, and basic biology and have consistently been able to turn that expertise into new therapies and preventive measures. And much of that national expertise resides in government institutions. Yet our leaders have largely chosen to ignore and even denigrate experts.
The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate. The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was the world’s leading disease response organization, has been eviscerated and has suffered dramatic testing and policy failures. The National Institutes of Health have played a key role in vaccine development but have been excluded from much crucial government decision making. And the Food and Drug Administration has been shamefully politicized,3 appearing to respond to pressure from the administration rather than scientific evidence. Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government,4 causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies….
Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.
I think this post is getting too long; but I can’t be sure, because the new WordPress editor doesn’t provide a word count. I’ll post a few more stories in the comment thread below. I hope you all have a peaceful day. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and please check in with us if you have the time and inclination.
Posted: August 27, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Antony Fauci, Biogen Conference, CDC, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19 testing guidelines, Donald Trump, FEMA, hurricane laura, Jacob Blake, Kenosha WI, Kyle Rittenhouse, Mike Pence, police brutality, Racism, Republican National Convention, Sturgis motorcycle rally, superspreader events
Hurricane Laura damage in Lake Charles, LA
Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana overnight. I haven’t been able to find a lot of information on the damage so far. Right now Russel Honore is on MSNBC attacking the lack of action by FEMA. He explained that the areas that have been hit hardest are the poorest in the state; many live in mobile homes.
CBS News is posting live updates. The latest:
“Extremely dangerous” Hurricane Laura made landfall overnight near Cameron, Louisiana, bringing “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding” to portions of the state, the National Hurricane Center said early Thursday. The storm had intensified rapidly into a Category 4 hurricane before slamming into the Gulf Coast near the Louisiana-Texas border.
Several hours after it came ashore, the storm was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, although the storm was still extremely dangerous. The hurricane center said life-threatening storm surge was continuing early Thursday along much of Louisiana’s coastline.
As of 7 a.m. local time, the storm was located about 20 miles north of Fort Polk, Louisiana, moving north at 15 mph. It was forecast to move across western and northern Louisiana through this afternoon and over Arkansas tonight, and become a tropical storm later on Thursday.
Trump recently took funds from FEMA to pay for his stupid executive orders.
Rolling Stone: Trump Looted $44 Billion From FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund in the Middle of a Record-Setting Hurricane Season.
…less than three weeks ago, instead of working with Congress to craft comprehensive legislation to address the ongoing crisis and deliver desperately-needed aid, President Trump looted FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to the tune of $44 billion — authorizing the agency to pay for a $300 per week supplement to regular unemployment benefits.
The $300 a week benefit supplement is similar to the $600 one that was included in the CARES Act passed at the start of the pandemic. An extension of that $600 benefit was included in second relief package that the House has already approved, but that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t hold a vote on. And because the Senate won’t sign off on the House bill and Trump didn’t work with lawmakers to reach a compromise, the unemployment supplement isn’t coming from money appropriated by Congress. It’s coming from the government account meant to cover natural disasters like the one presently bearing down on Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
“I am extremely concerned about the health and safety of Americans when Hurricane Laura comes ashore,” Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), head of the subcommittee on emergency preparedness, response, and recovery, said in a statement. “The fact that President Trump would take up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund right before a possibly record-setting hurricane season shows his inability to protect our country during a crisis. If he had convinced his Senate allies to pass our Heroes Act, we would have extended unemployment benefits and still had plenty of money for FEMA and states to use to help Americans recover from a natural disaster, like Hurricane Laura.”
Meanwhile, Trump has been busy trying to reduce Covid-19 testing so that fewer cases will be discovered.
CNN: CDC was pressured ‘from the top down’ to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says.
A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration, a federal health official close to the process tells CNN, and a key White House coronavirus task force member was not part of the meeting when the new guidelines were discussed.
“It’s coming from the top down,” the official said of the new directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was in surgery and not part of the discussion during the August 20 task force meeting when updated guidelines were discussed….
“I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is,” he said.
The new guidelines raise the bar on who should get tested, advising that some people without symptoms probably don’t need it — even if they’ve been in close contact with an infected person.
Previously, the CDC said viral testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday that changes to the testing guidelines were made after “updated recommendations” from the White House coronavirus task force.
This will lead to more cases and deaths, because people can transmit the virus when they are not yet having symptoms. Trump couldn’t care less how many Americans sicken and die as long as he has a chance of being reelected.
If this guidance is followed there will be more super-spreader events like this:
PharmaLive.com: Biogen Conference Led to 20,000 Covid-19 Cases, Study Suggests.
A Biogen corporate meeting held in Boston in March that was initially connected to about 100 cases of COVID-19 could have led to a significantly higher number of infections. A new study suggests the meeting could have contributed to about 20,000 cases across four Massachusetts counties.
A new, 64-page study that has not been peer-reviewed, extrapolates the number of infections that stemmed from the company’s corporate meeting held at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel in February, the early days of the pandemic in the United States. According to The Boston Globe, researchers studied the genetic makeup of confirmed COVID-19 cases from 772 patients in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk counties in the Bay State and concluded the meeting was a super-spreader event that infected “tens of thousands.” Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the researchers involved in the study told the Globe he is confident in the method used to reason out the high number of infections associated with the meeting.
The research team analyzed the genetic sequence of the 772 patients and identified more than 80 distinct SARS-CoV-2 genomes that plagued the Boston area through the month of May. The origin of most of the genomes in those patients could be identified as having come from Europe or other parts of the United States. But, as the Globe reports, one virus had a unique genetic signature found in 289 of those patients. That particular signature was traceable to the Biogen meeting in February, the researchers said.
“By multiplying the proportion of conference-related viral genomes in each of the four counties by the total number of coronavirus infections in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk, the scientists estimate that 20,000 infections could be linked to the Marriott event,” the Globe reported.
According to WBUR, this event “Seeded 40% Of Boston Coronavirus Cases.”
Business Insider: The Sturgis motorcycle rally that experts warned would be a coronavirus superspreader event has been linked to 100 new cases in 8 states.
Cases stemming from the 460,000-person event, which kicked off on August 7, have now been spotted in eight states: Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Washington. That’s in addition to the cases spotted in South Dakota, where new cases spiked to 251 on August 22 and the seven-day average of new cases continues to climb. Altogether, the cases total more than 100, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Attendees have traveled to more than half of all the counties in the US since the festival wrapped up on August 16, according to anonymous cellphone data from Camber Systems, which was tracking their departures. CNN first reported the location data.
Ahead of the rally, as city officials said there was no way to stop people from coming even if the rally had been canceled in an official capacity, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem welcomed the event with open arms. She’s also voiced doubt about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines detailing the effectiveness of masks.
Once the revelers arrived, photos showed few masks and crowded bars, despite warning signs throughout the area. On stage at a packed concert, Smash Mouth’s lead singer mocked the pandemic: “We’re being human once again. F— that COVID s—,” he says in a video.
The crisis continues in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the police shooting of another innocent black man, Jacob Blake. Police in Illinois apprehended Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old boy who shot three protesters in Kenosha. Kenosha police failed to arrest Rittenhouse after the shooting even though he was approaching them with his hands up. He was white, so he was allowed to leave the state.
Rittenhouse was a Trump fan.
The Washington Post: An inescapable echo between Trump’s campaign rhetoric and the deaths of protesters in Kenosha.
If he was there at all, something prompted 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse to grab his rifle and make the short trip from his home in Antioch, Ill., to Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday. If photos shared on social media are accurate, something spurred him to walk around the town with that rifle in his hands as protests over a police shooting continued into the night. If police are correct that Rittenhouse fired that rifle, if he did shoot three protesters, killing two of them, there was something that caused him to be there to pull the trigger.
This alleged chain of events came from somewhere. Most 17-year-olds don’t see it as their duty to protect the streets of their hometowns, much less of nearby towns where they don’t even live. If Rittenhouse shot those two people dead, there was some spur for him to do so that simply doesn’t exist for most other people.
It’s facile to assume that we can identify that spur as the rhetoric offered by President Trump and his reelection campaign. But it’s impossible not to notice how that rhetoric echoes in what appears to have happened in Kenosha.
The night before those protesters were shot, five different speakers at the Republican National Convention, including the president’s son, decried uncontrolled violent mobs that they claim have taken over the nation’s streets.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha
The New York Times traced Rittenhouse’s movements on the day of the shootings:
Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, appeared on multiple videos taken throughout the night by protesters and bystanders who chronicled the events as peaceful protests gave way to chaos, with demonstrators, armed civilians and others facing off against one another and the police in the darkened streets.
The New York Times’s Visual Investigations unit analyzed hours of footage to track Mr. Rittenhouse’s movements in the moments leading up to, and during, the shootings….
About two hours before the first shooting, the producer of a video livestream interviews Mr. Rittenhouse at a Kenosha vehicle dealership.
Mr. Rittenhouse is there at the same time as several other armed men. Some of them are positioned on the building’s roof overlooking the parking lot where vehicles were burned the day before.
In a brief exchange on the livestream, he identifies himself as “Kyle.”
Read the rest at the NYT link.
There is so much more news. I haven’t even touched on the DNC hate-fest, which concludes today. Last night’s episode focused on Mike Pence pretending that Trump has defeated the coronavirus and saved America.
CNN: Pence reinvents Trump’s presidency on a disorienting night of crises.
Only voters can decide the political fate of Donald Trump. But the evidence of a dark, dispiriting election year suggests unequivocally that the President has failed to find answers equal to the magnitude and complexity of America’s two great crises — over health and race.
So at the shape-shifting Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Trump’s most loyal subordinate Vice President Mike Pence had little option but to do what he does best. He twisted the facts, spun a more pleasing alternative national reality and showered his boss with praise.
Even by the standards of 2020, it was a disorienting night. Adding to the awfulness of another police shooting of a Black man and the shooting of two protesters (by an apparent Trump supporter) and the pandemic about to claim its 180,000th American victim, a monstrous hurricane tore towards the Gulf Coast.
Already, there are doubts whether the President’s big acceptance speech and a fireworks display Thursday at the White House in front of a pandemic-defying crowd of more than 1,000 people will be appropriate given what forecasters say are “unsurvivable” conditions facing those in the path of Hurricane Laura.
My guess is Trump won’t want his final night of glory postponed. Whether his advisers can convict him to do it is questionable.
I’ll post a few more stories in the comment thread. I hope anyone in the path of Laura will stay safe. Take care everyone!