Nel's New Day

April 27, 2020

Why 4 Percent of World’s Population Has 30 Percent of COVID-19 Cases

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 10:53 PM
Tags: , ,

The beaches and businesses in two Southern states are opening up in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic. On April 27, the number of U.S. confirmed cases is 1,010,507, and the number of deaths is 56,803, just short of the 58,220 U.S. military fatalities in the 20 years of the Vietnam War. The actual number of deaths from COVID-19 may be double or more of those thus far recorded.  

The following is a commentary about the large percentage of the world’s COVID-19 cases within the United States. “COVID-19 Casualties You Should Wish For,” by Chris Gay in Who. What. Why.

[Right: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis liberate the beaches. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey]  

There’s a growing sense that the US after COVID-19 will be a far different place than it was before — just as it changed irreversibly after 9/11, the world wars, and other transformative calamities. But how different depends on whether the crisis puts a stake through the heart of certain faith-based certitudes that help explain why 4 percent of the world’s population accounts for 30 percent of diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

These include the notion that individual freedom is always the highest priority, that “experts” are villains, and that all government does is “get in the way” of infallible markets. Note that each of these is a cherished conviction of the populist right, which, if you’re in the hunt for idiot mythologies, is what military folks call a target-rich environment.

Let’s start with the notion of the marketplace as the faultless engine of all human progress. You might know this as the “invisible hand,” Adam Smith’s venerated term for the idea that the unimpeded pursuit of profit always aggregates to the public good. Though Smith himself heavily qualified this idea, laissez-faire purists treat it as an article of faith in the self-serving catechism of unfettered profit-seeking.

But it was precisely the profit motive that exacerbated a shortage of ventilators amid the pandemic that prudent people had long warned was inevitable.  \

Exhibit A: what happened when the Department of Health and Human Services tasked the private sector in 2010 with producing ventilators for the national stockpile through an initiative called Project Aura. According to accounts by the New York Times and ProPublica, Newport Medical Instruments, the small device maker contracted by HHS, was making progress toward the goal of mass-producing a class of cheap, portable ventilators that would cost per unit about a third of the prevailing $10,000 price.

Then the Gods of Profit stepped in. In 2012, a larger device manufacturer, Covidien, bought Newport and immediately put its ventilator project on the back burner. Government officials and industry executives told the Times that they suspected Covidien simply wanted to prevent Newport from building a product that would challenge Covidien’s. Covidien ultimately abandoned the project, even after the government topped up its funding, complaining that it was “not sufficiently profitable,” in the Times’s phrase.

Note that Covidien produced perverse social consequences not because it was evil but because it was rational, in an Adam Smith sort of way. It did exactly what free-market high priest Milton Friedman famously argued that large corporations are supposed to do: make profit-maximization its highest priority. You prefer market outcomes? The ventilator shortage is a market outcome. As the Times helpfully noted, a focus on “maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.”

You think?

It’s not hard to find other ways in which profit incentives conflict with public-health goals. There is, for example, the whole realm of “orphan drugs” for treatment of diseases so rare that they don’t offer profitable markets, so government subsidizes their production. A good example is Revlimid, a treatment for multiple myeloma. Don’t subsidize them and a profit-maximizing private sector won’t produce them, for the same reason that for-profit insurers won’t cover the sickest people if they don’t have to. In either case, the unpleasant consequences would be rational, efficient outcomes by the logic of the marketplace.

It’s that same logic that incentivized “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli to buy the manufacturing license for the antiparasitic drug Daraprim and jack up the price 56-fold to $750 a pill. You can argue that poor regulation played a role in Shkreli’s scam, but it did so by accommodating the sort of feral greed that Gordon Gekko assured us is a social virtue. Shkreli went to prison, of course, but for securities fraud, not for trying to hold sick people hostage to his bottom line. That remains perfectly legal.  

Abetting the cult of the marketplace is the idea that any constraint on personal freedom, no matter the reason, is a first step toward the Gulag. This is partly what explains protests in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia against state lockdowns ordered by Democratic governors. (Since no populist uprising is complete without the specter of a nanny-state anschluss, Lansing’s march reliably featured a “Heil Witmer” placard, presumably a reference to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.)

There is a similarly juvenile complexion to the determination of Republican Governors Ron DeSantis (FL) and Brian Kemp (GA) to reopen for business, damn the science, and the petulant refusal by GOP champions of personal responsibility to wear face masks for a House vote. Let freedom ring.

Another staple of right-wing populism that ought to die in the pandemic, but probably won’t, is a reflexive vilification of “experts” — the quote marks are mandatory — that conservatives have exploited at least as far back as Joe McCarthy. Knowing stuff and discussing it in depth is as big a liability for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) today as it was 65 years ago for Adlai Stevenson, the very symbol of eggheaded erudition.

That didn’t just happen by itself. It took hard work, as Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch could tell you. Murdoch and sidekick Roger Ailes astutely leveraged synergies between mass electronic media and the sort of people who think Glenn Beck is a sage philosopher. That allowed them to profit by moving the national conversation “southward from the brain to the Gut,” as Charles Pierce put it, deftly mining the cultural stratum that historian Richard Hofstadter explored in his 1963 tome Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Hofstadter regarded contempt for expertise as more a feature than a bug, but that was before people like Donald Trump dialed it up to lethal amplitude.

As Trumpist know-nothings joust daily with science, COVID-19 provides the clearest contest of reason and Gut since maybe the Scopes trial. Trouble is, these battles are waged in a messaging marketplace where it’s not the strongest argument that wins but the loudest noise machine, and we all know who owns that. This should worry anyone not delirious with populist swamp fever, which, like COVID-19, may not confer its own immunity.

It should be clearer after November 3 whether COVID-19 will bolster regard for science, or whether the political culture will surrender more ground to the tyranny of the Gut. The question for Gut voters, as author Michael Lewis put it recently, is whether they have “backed themselves into such a corner that changing their mind is tantamount to changing their identity.”

[A response: Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market sweeps under the rug that the big players in the market control it through price-fixing, controlling supplies, having more power than their workers, giving their workers a take-it-or-leave it working conditions, sheltering their businesses from taxes by incorporating where taxes are low or negative and worker-protection laws are the weakest.]

April 26, 2020

‘You Couldn’t Make This Up’ Snippets

While the media attempts to caution the world that a deadly idea from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to drink bleach as a cure for COVID-19—and Dr. Deborah Birx puts her spin to protect DDT—other stupidities come out of the federal government and the nation that DDT has created.

DDT doesn’t have enough money for pandemic needs, even testing, but he can provide exorbitant amounts for his wall with no bids. On April 25, Fisher, DDT’s beloved company under investigation by the Defense Department inspector general, got a contract for $7.63 million for 800 linear feet of the slatted design of DDT’s choice—about $73,301 per foot. bid. Earlier this month, the Army gave a big GOP donor $569 million to build 17 miles of his wall–$33 million per mile and far above the $20 billion per mile average thus far. The original contract was only 25 percent of that amount, $141.8 million. The company already got over $1 billion is less than a year for 37 miles–$27 million per mile.  

Last year, DDT wanted to buy Greenland; now he’s opening a consulate there, supposedly to block growing Russian and Chinese interests in the Arctic. Maybe an end-run to still purchase the Danish territory?

DDT plans to keep people from getting disaster money.  Last Monday, the IRS gave recipients of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits not filing a 2018 or 2019 tax return 48 hours to file for $500 COVID-19 “stimulus” payments for dependent children. Anyone who doesn’t meet that deadline has to wait until next year for payment.

About half the tweets about the virus are from bots feeding gullible people over 100 fake conspiracies like 5G towers cause COVID-19, the U.S. developed the virus as a bioweapon, and U.S. politicians issued “mandatory” lockdowns. Three-fourths of them concern false and often deadly cures such as drinking Corona beer and bleach. DDT re-tweeted a video from his golfing buddy John Daly that alcohol cures COVID-19.

Ignoring the danger of illness or death for his audience, a Louisiana pastor bused in people for Sunday services because they were too poor to have online services to watch his ministrations. Now he wants their $1,200 disaster relief checks, supposedly for non-profit and faith-based ministries so that they don’t have to apply for the paycheck protection program.

A week ago when networks showed a two-hour fundraiser for the World Health Organization, Ivanka Trump tweeted a suggestion for what to do instead of watching the variety show:

“Looking for a Saturday night activity? Try making shadow puppets from Henry Bursill’s recently unearthed 1860’s book of engraving…”

Ivanka received a variety of “interesting” responses, needless to say some of them rather graphic. In one of the more printable responses, Jodie Moss picked up on the “puppet” theme. 

NCAA whined about the vast sums that it lost from the cancelation of March Madness and paid out only $225 million to conferences and schools this year instead of the usual $600 million after insurance paid NCAA only $270 million. Its “financial problems” came in 2015 from university presidents on the board of governors who spent over 80 percent of its $500 million that had been set aside for a contingency such as the pandemic.

The Dow Jones went down less than 500 points last week, but crude oil hit a negative zone for the first time in history. After a new low, the futures trading price went to a minus $37.63

DDT and other conservatives hate the UN, which includes the World Health Organization, but Secretary of State is begging the UN to renew the international arms embargo expiring on October 18, 2020. Without a renewal, supply, sale, and transfer of military weapons, vehicles, and aircraft will no longer require UN approval, leaving countries such as Russia and China free to sell these items to anyone. But according to DDT, the U.S. doesn’t need the UN.

The object of DDT’s war as a “wartime president” is the First Amendment. DDT, who has released thousands of lying ads, is suing small media outlets across the United States because of a composite ad of his statements. The goal is to bankrupt them although the media are precluded by the Supreme Court interpretation of the First Amendment. Like other public officials, he cannot recover damages unless he proves the statements are made with “actual malice”—that they are made with the knowledge that they are false or with “reckless disregard” of whether they are true or false. Like DDT’s ads are.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, responsible for the safety of over 2 million people in the military, learned something about COVID-19 a week ago: normal, healthy appearing people who show no symptoms of the disease can still infect others. That information was made public in the U.S. at least three months ago.

One of DDT’s arguments against Joe Biden is that electing him president means that “China will own the United States.” China already owns part of DDT himself. A refinanced loan in 2012 for DDT’s 43-story Manhattan skyscraper, the Avenue of the Americas near Trump Tower, put DDT in hock to the state-owned Bank of China for $211 million. The loan is due in 2022.  

DDT is back to buddying up with Vladimir Putin as the two of them block a UN global ceasefire to help the pandemic. DDT wants to keep the right to attack other countries, including Iran. More than 50 governments back the UN initiative. DDT has finally dropped his demand that the resolution call COVID-19 the “Wuhan Virus” after telephone calls with China’s president Xi Jinping.

College students who haven’t graduated have an excellent possibility of filling DDT’s influential positions. Recent hires still working on their degrees will do outreach and build relationships with agencies and outside organizations, director of operations for the personnel office, White House liaison with the Department of Commerce, and assistant to the deputy director of the personnel office. The 29-year-old personnel picker must like people who are younger than he is.

Michael Caputo, new HHS spokesman and associate of Roger Stone, is no spring chicken, but he couldn’t hide his ignorant, bigoted tweets with racist and derogatory comments about Chinese people, claims that Democrats wanted COVID-19 to kill millions of people, and accusations that the media intentionally created panic to hurt DDT. Appointed this month, he erased over 1,300 tweeted insults, profanity, and conspiracy theories, but they are still available at Internet Archive’s “The Wayback Machine.” A few of them are here.

Bad enough that evangelicals have James Bakker selling fake treatments for COVID-19 and DDT touts a drug that can kill people. Now Rep. Louie Gohmert, elected by Texas Republicans, promotes a nonexistent “mist” that kills the virus. He said:

“It is being used in Germany as a mist. Health care workers go through a misting tent going into the hospital and it kills the coronavirus completely dead not only right then, but any time in the next 14 days that the virus touches anything that’s been sprayed it is killed.”

Dr. Jörn Wegner, the head of the German Hospital Association, said nothing about Gohmert’s claim is true. Thomas Ruttkowski, the spokesman for the German Society of Hospital Hygiene, laughed at Gohmert, who claimed that an Arizona plant is manufacturing the powder that should be mixed with water to make the mist. Gohmert also likes DDT’s lethal magical drug for a cure. The U.S. representative is known for wacko claims such as the caribou enjoying the warmth of the Alaska oil pipeline for their “dates.” Even Alaska’s conservative Rep. Don Young chortled when he heard Gohmert’s defense of the pipeline.

Mark Meadows, now DDT’s chief of staff and the fourth in less than one presidential term, may have bitten off more than he can chew, with his job to cater to DDT’s moods. Known for being emotional, he has cried in two different meetings with White House staff, and he is trying to reorganize the staff. Meadows angered Stephanie Grisham’s supporters when he replaced her and may cause more problems if he carries through with plans to put speech-writing, composed of only bigoted Stephan Miller, under the communications department. Jared Kushner upset Meadows by providing names of corporate executives as advisers of re-opening the country who hadn’t been asked and some who didn’t agree to be part of the project. People may be making bets on how long Meadows stays. In the meantime, his departure from the House for his new job leaves his North Carolina district without anyone to vote for the people’s interests until the general election.

Today is the second day in a row that DDT had no press briefing (aka campaign rally), and the United States had over 27,000 more confirmed cases, even without much testing, and another 1,250 deaths. Totals are 987,322 cases and 55,415 deaths. Total number of tests in the U.S. is 5,470,555—16.5 tests per 1,000 people.

April 25, 2020

DDT: Week 170 – Press Briefing Disappears, Wisconsin Voters Sicken, USPS Attacked

The biggest news of the week may be that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) called off his press briefing (campaign rally) today after his huge debacle of two days ago when he recommended that people inject their bodies with bleach as a COVID-19 treatment. Even the ultra-conservative Breitbart website admitted its lie that DDT hadn’t made this statement. The correction was rather limp: Breitbart stated that the commentary should have been “Opinion” rather than “Fact Checking” because “nobody in their right mind would think that Trump was literally suggesting that people should inject disinfectant into their bodies.” Breitbart is right about that statement in describing the “right mind” of those who still follow DDT.

Today was the first time that DDT held no rally since Easter, 13 days ago. Since March, DDT has droned inane comments on television each afternoon, in “briefings” up to three hours long, praising himself and his administration before ending with insulting and attacking reporters who ask for information. Yesterday’s event was 22 minutes long with no questions for the press. The announcement calling off the event came three hours and 11 minutes after it was scheduled. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (sometimes called “Not Ivanka” because of their resemblance) said that canceling a briefing is DDT’s decision, but she believes “the president is at his best when he’s speaking directly to the American people.” Evidently he’s really worse than his briefings. https://www.theguardian.com/us-Shortly after the cancelation, DDT’s angrily tweeted about his rallies, “Not worth the time & effort.” Previously, DDT’s advisers told him to stop appearing at briefings except for special announcements, but he said he was continuing because of good television ratings.

In past briefings, DDT either pressured doctors to lie at briefings to say that he was right about recommendations for drugs, stopping shelter-in-place programs, and predictions of re-occurrences of the virus or flat-out contradicted what medical experts said. For example, he badgered Dr. Deborah Birx to say that the virus “might not come back at all.” Earlier, he had pushed Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, to repudiate the “possibility that the assault of the virus on the U.S. next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” Redfield, however, said that he had been “accurately quoted in The Washington Post.” Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted DDT, telling reporters that he is “convinced” that “there will be coronavirus in the fall.”

While DDT is killing people through stupidity and inaction, conservative judges on the Wisconsin and U.S. supreme courts may also be responsible for infecting people with COVID-19. On April 7, they agreed with GOP lawmakers to force an in-person vote at the Wisconsin primary, yet hid from the virus as people were disenfranchised if they didn’t go to the polls. Milwaukee has identified at least 40 positive coronavirus cases linked to in-person voting. The city closed down 175 of its 180 polling locations for the day, and 19,000 people vote in person, giving an average of 3,800 people at each of the open five locations in lines that stretched around the block. The Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously last Tuesday to create a program under which all of the city’s approximately 300,000 registered voters would receive an application for an absentee ballot in the mail. The “SafeVote” program also provides voters with a postage-paid return envelope so they can participate in the fall election.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision changing Wisconsin’s voting rules the day before the election was even anonymous, but the four dissenters came out publicly to object to the ruling. Unsigned rulings are usually for uncontroversial, unanimous rulings; previously the high court had contended that anonymity weakens accountability for decisions and shield contentious rulings written by unwritten justices. A legal scholar wrote that past per curiam cases have been “so easily resolvable, so lacking in complexity or disagreement among the justices, that it requires only a brief forthright opinion that any member of the Court could draft.” Still unknown is who wrote the majority opinion in the Wisconsin case although Brett Kavanaugh first received the case. The same lack of courage from the high court may be used in the future for the opinions regarding abortions, gun stores, and religious services connected to stay-at-home and business closure orders.

DDT and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are compounding the voting issue even more with their blackmailing the United States Post Office (USPS). Disaster bill #3 last month authorized a $10 billion loan to USPS, but Mnuchin rejected the bailout to gain control of the agency to the Treasury Department. Mnuchin wants to select the postmaster general (now the responsibility of a five-member board) and review other hiring decisions at senior levels, lower USPS employee wages and benefits, remove their ability to negotiate through their union, and raise package rates. DDT threatened to withhold all COVID-19 relief funding unless package shipping prices are raised four-fold—maybe five times.

USPS financial problems come from a 2006 congressional mandate requires the agencies to fund retirees’ health benefits through 2056—36 years from now. Retirement benefits must be prepaid for 75 years.

No other federal agency is required to turn a profit. Even so, the USPS had gradually paid down $15 billion of debt to $12 billion until the pandemic, when it went up $2.4 billion to $14.4 billion. Airlines get at least $25 billion, and large businesses, under the guise of small businesses, are receiving billions of dollars more.

Despite the quarantine, USPS has continued to deliver the mail, and 1,219 workers of 630,00 employees tested positive for COVID-19, with 44 of them dying.

The USPS has promised to deliver absentee and mail-in ballots “even if no postage has been affixed or it the postage is insufficient.”

The USPS delivers a letter for $.55, much less than the $25 or $30 cost from UPS or FedEx.

The USPS is overwhelmingly viewed favorably with majorities believing it does a good or excellent job.

The only piece of USPS increasing in mail volume, the package business, is also the only USPS profitability in recent years; its $22.8 billion in 2019 was one-third of the agency’s revenue. Higher rates would put costs above those charged by UPS and FedEx, perhaps causing the USPS to lose all that business. 

Higher prices on packages would hurt people most in rural areas because they count on USPS for essential package deliveries such as medicines. They would also pay the most without the USPS, more than people in urban areas.

DDT’s biggest beef with the USPS is the fact that his arch enemy, owner of the Washington Post Jeff Bezos, also owns Amazon and has a shipping contract with the USPS. DDT frequently calls the WaPo “fake news” after it reported unfavorable information during his campaign and presidency. Using donations as a consideration, USPS employees prefer DDT as president—at least until they get fired. Amazon will survive with DDT’s ideas, but the U.S. Post Office may not.

More big news came this week from some states’ rolling back the shelter-in-place, frequently without valid statistics. Meat plants, especially in states such as South Dakota and Iowa lacking any shelter-in-place orders, are the newest and worst hot zones for the virus. Employees in other states hide problems with infections. Employees at the Wisconsin Smithfield meat plant, facing an outbreak, say managers hid the growing number of infections and pressured workers to avoid quarantine measures.

Some governors may face a lose-lose debacle with “opening” their states, especially by doing it without the input and against the wishes of their own medical and emergency management staff. Georgia’s GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, eager to please DDT, is reopening gyms, tattoo parlors, hair salons, and bowling alleys reopen but got thrown under DDT’s bus a couple of days later when DDT, pressed by his pandemic task force, criticized him for the opening. Two days before DDT said he “strongly” disagreed with the move, he had called Kemp a “capable man who knows what he’s doing.”

DDT skipped disapproval of opening gyms after a call from billionaire owner Stephen Ross of Equinox Sports Clubs, a big DDT donor and massive fundraiser. Gyms—places with people close together, sweating, coughing and sneezing, breathing heavily, snorting droplets on everyone else, and touching everything, all of them indoors. DDT made his recommendation on opening gyms the day after a telephone call with 16 business leaders including Ross and Bahram Akradi, chief executive of health club chain Life Time.

A few poll results from the past week: 

  • 80 percent: strict shelter-in-place measures are worth it in order to protect people and limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • 51 percent: “the worst is yet to come” when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
  • 23 percent: the number with a high level of trust in DDT’s information about COVID-19.
  • 60 percent: DDT isn’t listening to health experts enough.

On April 25, the U.S. has 960,896 confirmed COVID-19 cases, almost one-third in the world, and 54,265 deaths, over one-fourth of those in the world, as well as countless others who weren’t tested, another 15-percent increase in deaths during the past three days. World wide, confirmed cases are almost three million and over 200,000 deaths.

April 24, 2020

Killing: From Drugs to Bleach

The inaction of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his suggestion that people take deadly, unrecommended drugs without authentic medical advice has killed tens of thousands of people during the past two months because of DDT’s incompetency and selfishness. In protest, “funeral processions” drive by his hotels in both New York and Washington, D.C., and people drop off home-made body bags as a symbol of his refusal to protect the people of the United States.  Yesterday, he hit a new low in ignorance and stupidity at his press briefing (aka campaign rally).

DO NOT TAKE DDT’S ADVICE! By now, most people have probably heard about his yesterday’s recommendation that people get injections of disinfectant (the Clorox cure?) and beam ultraviolet light “inside the body” (maybe by cracking ribs?) or looking straight at the light (like DDT did with the sun before the eclipse). [Note: he’s not the only idiot. Before a fraud was stopped, people bought “miracle” UV “sanitizer” lights from Facebook from ads promising “a proven impact on COVID-19” and the “most effective way to kill viruses” from Facebook. In March, the World Health Organization warned that “UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.”]

Today, DDT claimed that his comment was “sarcastic” but not until he was defended by conservative media and officials. This video of reactions from Dr. Deborah Birx to DDT’s statements prove no sarcasm in the deadly recommendation. The White House even had to issue a correction to its false transcript after the first one read Birx agreeing “that is a treatment” to DDT’s question, “Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?” The new transcript reads, “Not as a treatment.”

About DDT’s recommendation for an injection into the lungs with Lysol or another disinfectant, Breitbart lied:

“Trump was speaking generally about new information about sunlight, heat, and disinfectant killing the virus. Trump used the word ‘inject,’ but what he meant was using a process—which he left ‘medical doctors to define—in which patients’ lungs might be cleared of the virus, given new knowledge about its response to light and other factors.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins gave an excellent putdown of the conservative spin:

“So after there was criticism from the doctors, and as you [anchor Brianna Keilar] noted, Lysol had to put out a statement saying not to pursue this route, the White House put out a statement saying that reporters were taking the president out of context, and he said that people should consult with doctors before pursuing treatment. What that statement did not say was that the president was being sarcastic, which is now what he was arguing as he did in the Oval Office not long ago.

“I was in the room. The president was not asking that question to reporters, he was turning to the officials to his right, Dr. Birx and this official from the DHS about, it works on surfaces and in the air, and the president suggested that doctors should look into this, noting that he himself was not a doctor so we should note that as well.”

DDT needed a new plan for curing COVID-19 after his “game-changer” drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, were solidly debunked. Because of his stock ownership and donor demands, DDT touted a drug, currently prescribed for lupus, malaria, and rheumatoid arthritis, as the miracle treatment for the virus.  On March 18, the German drug manufacturer Bayer offered millions of doses of a chloroquine drug called Resochin to the U.S. The FDA ignored its own safeguards about taking the drugs from an uninspected plan in Karachi (Pakistan), and Bayer announced it was “working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug’s use in the U.S.,” and Fox started promoting the drug. Three days later, DDT made his first reference to hydroxychloroquine during his campaign rally, citing its “very, very encouraging early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”

While people sickened and died from coronavirus, DDT used his daily campaign rallies to press people to use chloroquine, even those who weren’t sick. On March 24, the government’s top clinicians and scientists at HHS recommended its use in only controlled, hospital-based clinical trials because of “potential risks.” Yet 11 days later, Brett Giroir, HHS assistant secretary for health, emailed a group “to flood Ny and NJ with [chloroquine] treatment courses… Millions per week?”

Four weeks after Giroir’s email, DDT fired Rick Bright, head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a small HHS agency with private scientific ventures to create vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. Bright said that the reason was his opposition “to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.” DDT’s political appointees exerted great pressure on career health officials, and they sought the help of billionaire Larry Ellison, founder of technology company, to build an app tracking responses to experimental treatments and make chloroquine drugs available through pharmacies with no plan for physician oversight or monitoring. By late March, FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to allow chloroquine drugs from the Strategic National Stockpile to be administered to hospitalized COVID-19 patients who could not access clinical trials.

Since the onset of DDT’s propaganda, studies and other reports have cast gloom on the success of chloroquine for COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health issued guidelines about “insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.” The agency cautioned careful monitoring for adverse effects, including cardiac risks. Two Maine licensing boards governing Maine doctors warn that prescribing DDT’s touted drugs for themselves or for family members is considered “unprofessional conduct.” The tipping point was a study of 368 patients at veterans’ hospitals: 28 percent of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine died compared with 11 percent of those who didn’t take the medication. (The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to continue use of the drug despite the warning that it doesn’t work and could cause deadly side effects.)

Today, the FDA warned consumers against taking hydroxychloroquine outside a hospital or formal clinical trial because of deaths and poisonings although it is still recommended as prescribed for approved reasons. The peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association also released a new study reporting that researchers cut short a study testing chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 over safety concerns, citing a “primary outcome” of death. Nearly two dozen patients died, and some developed irregular heart rates after taking daily doses of the drug.

A new study shows that Sean Hannity may also be responsible for spreading COVID-19. Fox consistently downplayed the danger of coronavirus until the middle of March when DDT seemed to catch on to the potential infections and deaths. Economists Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott used data from Fox network programming in February and early March when Hannity’s show ignored or downplayed the virus while Tucker Carlson warned viewers about the disease’s risk in another prime-time Fox show. Hannity viewers were more likely than Carlson viewers to ignore social distancing rules and had higher local rates of infection and death—“approximately 30 percent more cases on March 14 and 21 percent more deaths on March 18.”

The study’s rigorous findings support wide research that media consumption and Fox viewership has a powerful effect on individual behavior. A survey of 1,045 Republicans 55 and older indicated that Hannity watchers “changed their behavior five days later than viewers of other shows [while] viewers of Tucker Carlson Tonight changed their behavior three days earlier than viewers of other shows.” Greater Hannity viewership also meant more virus cases and more deaths, but the relationship weakened after Hannity’s reference of the disease’s danger in mid-March. The researchers know that the findings must be taken with caution, but general research finds that the virus response has been greatly affect by partisan attitudes: Republicans are far less likely to practice social distancing than Democrats. Fox also has a great influence on politic behavior, and television affects people’s decisions about health.

One source of the Clorox Cure may be a letter from Mark Grenon, leader of Florida’a profit-making Genesis II Church of Health & Healing in which he wrote that lethal industrial bleach can be a “miracle cure” for the virus. Grenon’s “church” is the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a “miracle cure” in the U.S. that he brands MMS, “miracle mineral solution.” He also fraudulently claims that his product can cure 99 percent of all illnesses including HIV/AIDS and cancer as well as autism. His prescription—DON’T DO THIS!—is for anyone, including children to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it. Grenon said that 30 of his supporters had also written DDT about the cure and posted on his Facebook page that he had sent his MMS to the White House: “Lord help others to see the Truth!” Former GOP presidential candidate has also promoted MMS on his online TV show. DDT’s FDA has obtained a federal court order banning Genesis II from selling “an unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19.” Last summer, the FDA issued a warning that drinking MMS can lead to death. “What do you have to lose?”

As more negative studies about hydroxychloroquine are published, DDT refuses to address problems about his drug of choice for COVID-19 treatment. “I don’t know of the report,” he said. When asked yesterday, the day that he suggested disinfectant injections, about why he no longer promotes his favorite drug, he said, “I haven’t at all.” But he has. Today, he abruptly left the press briefing before reporters could ask any question.

DDT may lose his daily campaign rallies if his advisers have their way with changing the format. He gets bad press from his combative approach toward reporters, and yesterday’s disaster may have been the last straw. Today’s presentation had no health experts. When two reporters were told to change seats at the press briefings, putting the CNN reporter farther back, the reporters refused. Tomorrow will tell.

April 22, 2020

You Can Save the Earth

Today in the midst of the worst pandemic for more than a century, Earth Day spent its 50th anniversary. For over three years, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), elected by a minority of the U.S. voters, has assaulted the environment to favor his friends. In the same way that prominent Republicans say that people should die in order to keep them rich, DDT pollutes and poisons the world. In his most recent efforts, the ones after he stopped the enforcement of most environmental regulations “indefinitely,” he now permits life-threatening chemicals on products used for cooking and argues that any control of mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants isn’t “appropriate and necessary.”

On April 22, 1970, twenty million people marched and rallied to clean up the country. Fifty years later, the destruction of habitats has displaced wildlife that brought viral outbreaks. Past ones such as AIDS, Ebola, and SARS have moderate control; with no leadership in the United States, the current one, COVID-19, has swept across the nation, infected millions and killing an unknown number because only a little over one percent of the people in the U.S. have been tested.

On Earth Day 2020, the entire leadership of the United States, including 75 percent of environmental managers working for the fossil fuel industries, promotes fossil fuel production at the loss of all alternative energies and roll back auto emissions standards. For example, Head of the BLM William Perry Pendley believes that the Endangered Species Act is “rural genocide” meant to drive residents off the land. For decades, the United States has seen the escalation of the militia movement that wants county sheriffs to arrest federal employees who enforce environmental rules and the purge of environmental Republican in Congress.

The one bonus of the current pandemic is the lessening of pollution which kills about 4.2 million people throughout the planet from stroke, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. In just New York, carbon monoxide from cars during the past couple of month has been reduced by nearly 50 percent compared from the same months last year. The massive decline of pollution and greenhouse gases in China for just two months probably saved the lives of 4,000 young children and 73,000 elderly adults in just China.

Seimologists from Belgium to New Zealand can better track tremors with people staying home. They determine the lessening of noise pollution means people can avoid stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, sleep disruption, etc. The lack of noise pollution from cruise ships makes marine animals healthier and increases their reproduction by decreasing stress-hormone levels.

Other sea creatures may be making a comeback. For almost a decade, the sea stars, vital to preserving the kelp forests by eating sea urchins, have been wasting along the West Coast, possibly from a virus. One theory about the disappearance of sea stars is the large number of people on the beaches. Nature may have gotten to the tipping point of survival with the human invasion.

The frantic search for a solution to COVID-19 may lead to saving the environment. As researchers push to find information about pathogens and their human hosts may discover answers to the disappearing coral reefs, possibly from highly contagious bacterial diseases. The 50 percent of pathogenic bacteria and coral diseases in sea grass found in Indonesian waters could be from human sewage. Researchers are replicating the sea grass in Puget Sound for human defenses in medicines and diet. They already determined that mangrove sea squirts have antimicrobial agents and anticancer drugs. Algae and the blue blood from abalone can stop herpes and flu viruses.

The shrinking of the ozone layer over Antarctica shows that people can make a difference in climate change if they try. By 2000, the 1987 Montreal Protocol to stop ozone-depleting substances (ODS) reversed the jet stream direction to head back to the north. The change in the jet stream had pushed rain away from the coastal areas of Australia, causing drought and ensuing wildfires. The decreasing rainfall may change with the shift in jet streams and ocean currents.

After 50 years of honoring the environment on Earth Day, the majority of people say they take at least seven of 15 actions to help the environment during the past year, beginning with 85 percent who voluntarily recycle. Over half reduced use of energy, tried to use less water, used reusable shopping bags, avoided products harming the environment or bought products better for the environment, and replaced  incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent or luminescent ones.

Last month, people shared a poem that went viral across the internet. They claimed that it was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara and reprinted for the 1918 flu pandemic. The author is actually a retired Wisconsin teacher and palliative care chaplain, Catherine O’Meara, who wrote it in March 2020 because of the current pandemic.  

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.

“And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

In 2017, Jane Hirschfield wrote this poem for Earth Day. Its prescience is even more important in 2020 when the anti-science leadership of the United States avoids finding solutions for the current health disaster.

“On the fifth day/the scientists who studied the rivers/were forbidden to speak/or to study the rivers.

“The scientists who studied the air/were told not to speak of the air,/and the ones who worked for the farmers/were silenced,/and the ones who worked for the bees.

“Someone, from deep in the Badlands,/began posting facts.

“The facts were told not to speak/and were taken away.

“The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

“Now it was only the rivers/that spoke of the rivers,/and only the wind that spoke of its bees,/while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees/continued to move toward their fruit.

“The silence spoke loudly of silence,/and the rivers kept speaking,/of rivers, of boulders and air.

“In gravity, earless and tongueless,/the untested rivers kept speaking.

“Bus drivers, shelf stockers,/code writers, machinists, accountants,/lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

“They spoke, the fifth day,/of silence.

Poet Lynn Ungar wrote her response to the current sheltering at home. The first few lines: 

“What if you thought of it/as the Jews consider the Sabbath—/the most sacred of times?

“Cease from travel.

“Cease from buying and selling.

“Give up, just for now,/on trying to make the world/different than it is.”

The United States is now facing an economic disaster over twice as bad as the one caused by George W. Bush in 2009—and it’s combined with a health disaster. During the Great Recession over a decade ago, people modified their buying habits—mending instead of trashing, cooking instead of always eating out, buying second-hand instead of from elite stores—trying to conserve because they had no money. President Obama pulled the United States people out of this disaster, but they went back to their wasteful ways. If only people will keep patterns of saving after COVID-19 is really under control instead returning to destroying the planet through their extravagant lifestyles.

[Thanks to Ann Hubard and Sue Hardesty for photos of an environment we need to preserve.]

On April 22, the U.S. has 849,092 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 47,681 deaths, as well as countless others who weren’t tested. That’s a 12-percent increase in deaths during the past two days.

April 20, 2020

Governments Starve, People Die

For over two decades, Republicans have fought to shrink the government. Published on April 10, 2020 is “When You Drown the Government in the Bathtub, People Die” from respected middle-of-the-road Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank:

I had been expecting this for 21 years.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” the legendary epidemiologist D.A. Henderson told me in 1999 when we discussed the likelihood of a biological event causing mass destruction.

In 2001, I wrote about experts urging a “medical Manhattan Project” for new vaccines, antibiotics and antivirals.

Reporting on a congressional briefing in 2005, I quoted public health experts predicting a pandemic that would overwhelm hospitals and exhaust respirator supplies. “I want to emphasize the certainty that a pandemic will occur,” the Mayo Clinic’s Gregory Poland said.

In 2009, during the swine flu scare, I relayed warnings about “the nation’s patchwork of a public health system” and the need for better “vaccine and public-health infrastructure before a more severe pandemic comes along.”

I repeat these things not to pretend I was prescient but to show that the nation’s top scientists and public health experts were shouting these warnings from the rooftops—deafeningly, unanimously, and consistently. In the years after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush and Obama administrations seemed to be listening.

But then came the tea party, the anti-government conservatism that infected the Republican Party in 2010 and triumphed with President Trump’s election. Perhaps the best articulation of its ideology came from the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who once said: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

They got their wish. What you see today is your government, drowning—a government that couldn’t produce a rudimentary test for coronavirus, that couldn’t contain the pandemic as other countries have done, that couldn’t produce enough ventilators for the sick or even enough face masks and gowns for health-care workers.

Now it is time to drown this disastrous philosophy in the bathtub—and with it the poisonous attitude that the government is a harmful “beast” that must be “starved.” It is not an exaggeration to say that this ideology caused the current debacle with a deliberate strategy to sabotage government.

Overall, entitlement programs continued to grow, and the Pentagon’s many friends protected its budget. And Trump has abandoned responsible budgeting. But in one area, the tea party types, with their sequesters, debt-limit standoffs and other austerity schemes, did all too well. Between 2011 and 2018, nondefense discretionary spending fell by 12 percent—and, with it, the government’s already iffy ability to prevent and ameliorate public health emergencies unraveled.

John Auerbach, president of Trust for America’s Health, described for me the fallout: Over a dozen years, the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grants to state and local public health departments were cut by a third and the Hospital Preparedness Program cut in half, 60,000 jobs were lost at state and local public health departments, and similarly severe cuts were made to laboratories. A $15 billion grant program under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, was plundered for other purposes.

Now Americans are paying for this with their lives—and their livelihoods.

If the United States had more public health capacity, it “absolutely” would have been on par with Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, which have far fewer cases, Auerbach said. South Korea has had 4 deaths per 1 million people, Singapore 1 death per million, and Taiwan 0.2 deaths per million. The United States: 39 per million—and rising fast.

To have mitigated the virus the way Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan did would have required spending about $4.5 billion a year on public health, Auerbach estimates. Instead, we’re spending trillions to rescue the economy.

Democrats aren’t blameless in pandemic preparedness. And some Republicans tried to be responsible–but the starve-the-beast crowd wouldn’t hear of it.

After Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) voted for the 2009 stimulus bill because he secured $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, he was essentially forced out of the GOP. Rising in the party were people such as Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), whose far-right Republican Study Committee in 2011 proposed a plan, applauded by GOP leadership, to cut NIH funding by 40 percent.

In 2014, NIH chief Francis Collins said there likely would have been a vaccine for the Ebola outbreak if not for a 10 percent cut in NIH funding between 2010 and 2014 that included halving Ebola vaccine research. Republicans jeered.

In 2016, when President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus, Republicans in Congress sat on the request for seven months and then cut it nearly in half.

Since then, Trump has proposed cuts to the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so severe even congressional Republicans rejected them. And last month they fed the “beast” a $2.2 trillion feast to fight the pandemic.

Now they know: When you drown the government in the bathtub, people die.

Jonathan Chait points out that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is starving state government in a blackmail scheme to force them to open their states.  He told his aides to develop economic plans allowing him to take credit for successes while creating flexibility for him to blame others for any failures. DDT’s task force gives him cover, and DDT’s allies are coordinating flag-waving protests to open the country through open violence, protests that DDT supports.

The last piece of DDT’s plan bringing states to heel starving them with no additional funding in the current disaster relief plan. According to DDT’s officials, any funding for these governments might keep them opening up their economies. Public health officials and business leaders want testing to find COVID-19 hot zones before opening other areas, and even DDT’s newest plan says that testing is the gate to all his amorphous ideas. Governors may be forced to omit testing to restart the economy because DDT wants to “starve the beast.” Public officials are concerned with long-term health of people; DDT needs success for only six months to get re-elected.

In defiance of health officials and subservience to DDT, some GOP governors are starting to lift restrictions:

  • Florida’s Jon DeSantis had already declared wrestling as “essential” and then opened the beaches under restricted hours, assuming that the virus can tell time as well as know how to stop at state borders. [The scene at Jacksonville two days ago.]
  • In Georgia, Brian Kemp opened such really important businesses as body art studios and massage therapy establishments along with their beaches. Kemp’s declaration has brought criticism because “it doesn’t meet the most basic guidelines,” according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
  • Tennessee and South Carolina followed Kemp’s example, including South Carolina’s beaches, although it doesn’t meet the White House criteria for doing so.
  • Oklahoma is now permitting elective surgery although the state has enough PPE for only ten percent needed for the virus.
  • Oklahoma elective surgeries but has only 10 percent of PPE it needs for the virus.
  • Texas has opened the parks and elective surgeries.
  • Nebraska is opening up a giant mall outside Omaha.  
  • Other states such as Alabama plan to meet DDT’s May Day deadline to open up their businesses.
  • States across the Midwest plan to keep its meat plants open.   

Even Democratic governors of Illinois and Louisiana, fourth in the nation for its rate of deaths from the virus, said that parts of their states might reopen.

DDT is getting antsy about being the White House for “months” and can’t remember his campaign rallies in February and March. Instead of working on more testing, he decided that he’ll lower the COVID-19 rate in the U.S. by banning immigration while opening businesses. At today’s briefing, DDT blamed calls for testing from states as a way to politically damage him. Concerns about lifting restrictions with no testing come from both GOP and Democratic states.

On April 20, the U.S. has 792,913 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 42,517 deaths. Fifty-eight percent of people polled are more concerned about rapid re-opening of the than how stay-at-home orders affect the country’s economy. Only 10 percent say people “should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy, even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus.” Large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats disagree with this statement.  

April 19, 2020

DDT, the COVID-19 Mob Boss

To evangelical Christians: Your god, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), not only lies, cheats, and sexually assaults women, but he also steals.

Most states suffer from a serious lack of supplies, and DDT, the pandemic patron, runs the United States like a mob boss. At every campaign rally, he proclaims his generosity and the Democrats’ ingratitude: his Army Corps of Engineers building hospitals, his hospital ship moored outside New York for more patients, his money with his name being sent to people. Historian Jon Meacham said:

“Trump has cast himself in the role of generous monarch who is saying, ‘I have given you this, dear subjects’—and it’s a remarkably selfish and self-referential performance.”

Earlier in the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. took supplies from the states by underbidding them. Now he confiscates supplies ordered by states and then whines his false claim that President Obama left him without any supplies—over three years ago. State and health leaders in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas, and Florida have openly accused the federal government of intercepting and diverting their equipment orders without reasons.

  • Massachusetts ordered three million respirator N95 masks that federal agents confiscated at the port of New York.
  • Another 35,000 N95 masks ordered by New Jersey were commandeered by the federal government.
  • After 20,000 tests were purchased from a Chinese manufacturer and delivered to a Laredo (TX) emergency room, health workers discovered they were antibody tests to see if the subject had encountered the virus and not diagnostic tests for active infection. Within a week, six people died in the city, and federal investigators seized the tests after a Democrat lawmaker serving the area worked to get approval from the FDA and U.S. Customs and paid $500,000 for the tests.
  • Last month, federal agents seized 200 COVID-19 tests on their way to Portland (OR) for home use.
  • In California, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) believed it had found 39 million masks to donate to health care workers, but the FBI discovered the deal was a scam—because the federal government planned to confiscate the masks.
  • DDT bragged about sending 100 ventilators to Colorado from “his stockpile” after he ordered the company to cancel the state’s order of 500 ventilators. He gave GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, facing a difficult re-election, the credit after refusing to comply with requests from the Democratic governor and a Democratic representative.  

DDT also takes supplies from countries. In Bangkok, the U.S. federal government took 200,000 N95 masks headed for Germany. The U.S. bought masks headed for France from China at three to four times the going price. The U.S. federal government seized 20 ventilators ordered by Barbados.  Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, called these events acts of “modern-day piracy.”  

Of the confiscated supplies, about half go to hot spots where DDT likes the governor, and the other half goes to the commercial market.

“Empty shelves,” that’s all DDT says. That’s before he says that states are totally responsible for obtaining their own supplies, that whatever DDT gets from confiscated state orders belongs to a federal stockpile that states cannot access. About the stockpile, a HHS website described the stockpile as “the nation’s largest supply of lifesaving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out” and available to states and localities requesting them. That language disappeared after Jared Kushner’s claim of “our stockpile.”

The supply chain task force, a subcommittee of the coronavirus task force, should be helping the federal government obtain desperately-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and shields, along with life-saving medical equipment like ventilators, at a lower cost, and distributing it to the areas that need it the most. Kushner’s “federal” supply chain task force has no accountability and operates in the dark, releasing almost nothing about arrangements with big companies. Its corruption, including a delay of weeks, has killed thousands of people.

Almost three weeks ago, DDT bragged about “Project Airbridge,” using help from private companies to get supplies for his stockpile. Here’s how it works. The supply chain task force spent $1 million on each of 40 chartered FedEx flights in a deal for chemical giant DuPont to send Tyvek material, made in the U.S., to Vietnam where it becomes body suits. The federal government pays $15 each for $5 suits in addition to the $40 million for the flights. Military aircraft would have cost less than half, $410,000 per flight. DuPont sold only 60 percent of the suits to the government.  And DDT announced the deal as a success in bringing medical equipment to the U.S. The project has turned out to be a scam for these companies to price-gouge.

The government is also paying four times the price for ventilators from a Dutch company that received millions in tax dollars to develop an affordable one for pandemics.

DDT’s maintains this control for revenge and appreciation. Be nice to me, DDT says, and you might get some of what you need. Criticism of him, however, leads to no supplies for the states and more deaths their residents. His quid pro quo during the health crisis matches his threats for the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. DDT did the same thing when he tried to get exclusive access to a possible COVID-19 vaccine from a German company.

A few weeks ago, DDT constantly smeared 3M when the corporation sent 10 million N95 masks from its manufacturing plant in Singapore to Asian markets after DDT insisted that they be added to his personal stockpile. DDT also demanded that 3m “cease exporting respirators to Canada and Latin America; he cares nothing about 3M’s legal and humanitarian reasons. He finally deployed the Defense Protection Act to force 3m to comply because “we need the masks, we don’t want other people getting them.” DDT described using the DPA as “retaliation.”

In mid-March, the U.S. discouraged people from wearing masks, telling them that healthy people didn’t need them and protective gear should be saved for front-line medical workers. Yet two weeks before he reversed this guideline, DDT took 3,600 masks from a donated Taiwan shipment of surgical masks for healthcare workers to keep for the White House staff. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told people they faced low risk of infection but wearing masks would increase their risk and were “NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus.” Taiwan, where people mostly wore face coverings in public, has one of the lowest rates of confirmed cases and deaths in the world.

States are fighting back. Minnesota used a local company’s global connections to airlift N95 masks from a Chinese factory. Washington bought 750,000 test swabs hoping that the unapproved product will get through and bet that an outdoor gear company can refigure backpack and parka manufacturing to N95 respirators. Twice, Illinois staff physically drove seven-figure checks from their Springfield office to meet vendors. One of them was an official who took a check for $3.2 million to a handoff at a McDonald’s Parking lot for a bank deadline. Individual masks that used to go for 50 cents now cost as much as $13. Some states consider using local law enforcement and/or the National Guard to meet chartered FedEx planes with millions of masks from China, but they stay anonymous to keep DDT from taking their shipments.

Illinois J.B. Pritzker flew millions of masks and gloves to the U.S. from China on secret chartered flights to keep the federal government from taking supplies that he ordered. DDT had told Pritzker that he had to get his own supplies. Pritzker complied, and DDT complained. 

As DDT commandeers supplies ordered by states, FEMA isn’t publicly reporting their acquisitions, paid for with taxpayer dollars, and the federal government doesn’t reveal what supplies it seizes and where they are rerouted.   FEMA ‘s failure in providing supplies to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is being replicated throughout the current health crisis.

This is his scam. If governors succeed in re-opening the states from the COVID-19 crisis, DDT takes credit. If governors fail because the confirmed cases and deaths from the virus spike, DDT blames the governors. DDT calls himself a “wartime” president. And like the American Revolution and Civil War, soldiers are told to go out and find their own gear, supplies, and weapons. Even worse, DDT steals these from the fighters.

On April 19, the U.S. has 764,265 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 40,565 deaths–and DDT wants to open the country in less than two weeks. Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!

April 18, 2020

DDT: Week 169 – More News from the Disaster Relief Act

Slime keeps crawling out of the $2.2 trillion disaster relief bill. Over 80 percent of the GOP tax change–$86 billion in just 2020—goes to 43,000 millionaires who annually earn more than $1 million, each of these millionaires receiving an average of $1.6 million. The law temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The 2017 GOP tax law did the opposite to offset other tax cuts in the legislation. Less than three percent of the benefits go to people making less than $100,000 a year, and most of the beneficiaries are hedge-fund investors and real estate business owners.  

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told banks they can seize the $1,200 that 70 million people making under $75,000 may get from the plan for debts. The law supposedly prevented the garnishment of wages except for overdue alimony, but that was only for government debts. Private debts were excluded from the law. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order preventing creditors or debt collectors from garnishing money from the disaster recovery law unless the debts came from criminal conviction. Thus far at least Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Washington governors have signed similar orders, but Mnuchin, who has the same power, refuses to keep private businesses from taking money meant for food and shelter. 

USAA, a veteran-serving financial institution with a membership of about 13 million mostly current and former members of the military and their families, stopped taking veterans’ $1,200 checks after a reporter went public.  issued a statement to the reporter that the seized money would be returned and pause its collection for 90 days.  

Mnuchin announced that 80 million people received their $1,200 this week, but the dispersal from the IRS was filled with its own disasters.

  • Parents didn’t receive the promised $500 for up to three independent children under the age of 17.
  • Up to 21 million people who filed their taxes via H&R Block, TurboTax, and other services couldn’t get payments because the IRS didn’t have direct deposit information from them on file. Those people must input bank information on the website used for payment tracking. A TurboTax spokesperson said the IRS has the necessary information for its users, but customers still report problems.
  • People using the “Get My Payment” website to track their payment status received the message “Payment Status Not Available.” One reason may have been that people on Social Security aren’t entered in that website yet, but people who don’t fall into any IRS categories explaining why they have no tracking information still can’t use the website.
  • Pursing the information several times during one day locked out people looking for information.
  • People who don’t normally file tax returns because of making too little but are eligible for $1,200 must enter information in a a new non-filers tool at IRS.gov. but may not have access to computers because libraries are closed.
  • The IRS said that any SSA, SSI, and SS disability must go to the non-filers website to get payments for children.
  • People who owed nothing in taxes cannot move forward to pursue questions.
  • Checks may be sent to deceased people if they were listed on the 2018 or 2019 tax returns. (According to the conservative National Taxpayers Union Foundation, that money does not legally need to be returned because it is “a clerical or math error” by the IRS.)

These problems are only for direct deposits; checks to another 70 million people will be delayed. Some people may not receive them until September. An immediate delay is that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told Mnuchin in March that he wants his signature on the checks. A month later, DDT “doesn’t remember” his request, but Mnuchin followed through. DDT cannot legally sign the checks because he’s not an authorized signer of Treasury Department payments so his name appears on the memo line. In order for DDT’s name to appear, the computer code had to be changed on the check template which DDT’s administration claimed didn’t take any extra time. At a campaign rally, DDT said:

“I don’t know too much about it. I don’t imagine it’s a big deal. I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check and my name is on it.”

Because the federal government doesn’t send checks to undocumented workers—not even legalized family members of undocumented workers—California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $125 million fund, $50 million from donations, to help people shut out of the disaster relief with individuals up to $500 and families up to $1,000. Clients canceled 94 percent of domestic workers. Newsome will also permit reimbursement for undocumented immigrants to be tested at community clinics and be treated. As can be expected, some outraged conservatives tried a Twitter protest with #RecallGavinNewsom. It backfired, especially in changing the definition of “recall”:

Mayma Raphael: “I live in California and proud that my tax dollars will be supporting one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our state, undocumented laborers. California produces 40% of our nations produce with 70% undocumented workforce. It’s the right thing to do. #RecallGavinNewsom”

Steve Holzer: “Oh, I #RecallGavinNewsom.  He’s that guy who has an 83% approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in the state that has only seen 758 deaths in total when New York State is seeing that in one day.  I recall him. Love him. @GavinNewsom” https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/most-americans-like-how-their-governor-is-handling-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

Mike Chen: “Hi, if you know anyone complaining that California should #RecallGavinNewsom because undocumented residents ‘don’t pay taxes etc’ gently remind them that 50-75% of undocumenteds pay taxes using an ITIN, including soc sec even tho they’ll never get it. https://www.vox.com/2019/3/1/18241692/undocumented-immigrants-pay-state-local-taxes  Undocumented immigrants pay millions of dollars in state taxes — even in the reddest states. Here’s how much tax dollars unauthorized workers pay in your state.”

Hysterical Raisins: “#RecallGavinNewsom You don’t have to remind me to recall Gavin Newsom. I recall him very well. He’s that smart and handsome governor who kept the California death toll much lower than expected.”

Walker Bragman: “For those tweeting #RecallGavinNewsom over the $125M fund to give stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants, remember this: Your health could well depend on theirs. We are only as safe as the least protected person in America.”

Jerry James Stone “RU tweeting #RecallGavinNewsom over the $125M fund to give stimulus checks to “illegal” immigrants, remember this: 70% farm workers are undocumented. Cali grows 40% America’s produce. Farms are literally throwing away food right now. This is bigger than your xenophobia.”

And more slime:

The $350 billion in relief for small businesses was largely gone in the first five minutes of reviewing 60,000 applications with a process of “first come, first served.” Wealthy hedge-fund owners applied for funding with the claim that they have “small businesses” just like restaurants, dry cleaners, and hair salons. If 75 percent of actual small- and medium-sized businesses under mandatory shutdowns don’t get a $55,000 infusion by May 1, they cannot successfully restart. Head of a financial research business said that their needs require $18 trillion.

Hedge-fund billionaires aren’t the only ones who want a piece of the $2.2 trillion pie. Medical staffing companies owned by wealthy investors who cut salaries of doctors on the COVID-19 say the virus is bad for business because non-critical ill people avoid the ER. Visits are down 30 percent, and those who come in are sicker and more expensive to treat. The American College of Emergency Physicians wants $3.6 billion in aid. Co-founders of Envision, cutting pay for some of its 27,000 clinicians are worth $5.6 billion and $5.8 billion. Medical staffing companies benefited from tax relief and advance Medicare payments in the stimulus package before it cut doctors’ pay and hours.

Insurers are also asking for federal relief in paying claims, threatening to raise premiums if they aren’t on the federal dole. Activists paid attention and called for nationalized health insurance.

Another hand stuck out for a handout comes from the nuclear industry wanting a $23 billion gift from a 30-percent tax credit, sick leave for employees, and “prioritized access” to testing and masks.

Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco—who already pay no taxes and get huge subsidies—might get almost $20 billion from the disaster relief act because the Federal Reserve plans to buy up $750 billion in corporate debt. Energy companies are 11 percent of the entire U.S. market. Twelve fracking companies could get $24.1 billion, and DDT plans to spend billions of taxpayer money to “fill up” the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The Labor Department, under the guidance of Eugene Scalia, gave states permission to exclude gig workers such as Uber drivers and other “independent contractors” from the expanded unemployment benefits. New Labor Department guidelines leaves out workers forced to suspend operations “because there is reduced demand for their services” due to the coronavirus pandemic, the purpose for disaster relief act’s unemployment benefits. The application process is also not set up for self-employed people.

Tip of the iceberg?

On April 18, the U.S. has 738,913 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 39,015 deaths, over 36 percent increase in three days. The number of deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 for less than two months is thus far 5,000 more than the estimated number of deaths from flu with no testing.

April 17, 2020

‘I Don’t Take Responsibility at All.’ – DDT

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:00 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Earlier this week, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced at his press briefing (aka campaign rally) that he will stop funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) $400 million a year. He accused the group of lack of transparency, failure to take early action, and praise for China’s work—all mirroring his own behavior. DDT even lied about WHO claiming that the virus is not contagious. For the first three weeks of January, WHO relied on information from China and stated “no clear evidence” regarding human-to-human spread. WHO alerted the world about possible human-to-human transmission two weeks after the first death was reported in China; DDT waited two months after that death to express any concern.  In January DDT tweeted praise about China’s work on COVID-19:

“The United States greatly appreciates [China’s] efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”

As the stock market sank, DDT’s criticisms of WHO and China rose. market sank. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said:   

“The WHO didn’t make any mistakes that the Trump administration didn’t make.”

On January 19, DDT learned of a man with a confirmed COVID-19 case coming to the U.S. from Wuhan (China) but asserted he had the problem “under control,” that everything was going to be “just fine.” Two days later, WHO announced that COVID-19 is definitely contagious; on January 28, senior VA medical adviser Dr. Carter Mecher wrote public health experts through the country about his concern regarding “the projected size of the outbreak.” At the same time, DDT’s trade adviser Peter Navarro warned DDT, in a memo that DDT says he cannot remember, about potential risks of a half million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses. And HHS Secretary Alex Azar warned DDT, for the second time in two weeks, about the chance of a pandemic. Traveling around the Midwest to make campaign speeches, DDT called him an alarmist and took no action for another five weeks.

U.S. failures in February included a delayed “surveillance” system in five U.S. cities to determining hot spots; failed test kits sent to states; and DDT’s refusal to recommend social distancing. In the 19 days after the first 15 confirmed cases of the virus on February 26, the number grew to 4,226. And now, one month later, that number is now over 700,000—the number based on the country’s completely inadequate testing system.

Deflated by concerns about his re-election by mid-March, DDT regained his arrogance when he began daily press briefings (aka campaign rallies) in which he rewrites history and drop bombshells, one of them being the defunding of WHO. Even after seemingly recognizing part of the pandemic’s serious effects, DDT failed to address testing, supplies, or funding in preparation for wide-spread infection. While the U.S. needed the supplies, he kept sending them overseas, and his only action on testing has been bragging about the failed program. As soon as the country shut down, DDT set Easter, April 12, as the time everything would go back to normal. Instead of calling for mitigation, DDT went back to declaring total success, again squandering time that killed and infected people.

DDT’s decision has caused serious public backlash, and a draft memo from officials to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, labeled “Sensitive But Unclassified” and “Information Memo for the Secretary,” describes the dangers of withdrawing the funding—eroding U.S. standing in the world, endangering U.S. lives, and crippling global efforts to combat the virus. The memo contains a detailed list of the ways that U.S. funding helps Middle East countries manage the pandemic. Yemen, Algeria, and Libya will suffer, but DDT plans to send supplies to Russia. At this time, Russia has one death per million population.

Even some Republicans joined angry Democrats, business groups, health groups, and foreign leaders in opposition to DDT’s pulling the funding. The conservative Chamber of Commerce said that DDT is cutting U.S. interests. DDT’s decision cuts off funding for other world health problems including polio and HIV. The Lancet medical journal editor in chief called pulling the funding a “crime against humanity.” Bill Gates tweeted:

“Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them.”

DDT wants to save money by not giving money to WHO, considering the group corrupt, but he gave a $55 million contract for N95 masks to Panthera with no experience producing medical supplies and whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last year. The company has had no employees for two years and is not listed as an LLC in Virginia, location of its main office.

Another DDT bombshell this week was that he would close Congress so that can appoint many more judges without the need for confirmation. He cited a never-used power to do so if the two chambers disagree about adjourning. They aren’t in disagreement so that idea seems to have been dropped. He slammed the pro forma sessions to keep Congress open, a practice that Republicans began during President Obama’s first term. 

The biggest uproar about DDT’s claims this past week, however, was his assertion that he has “total authority” to open the country by doing away with closed businesses and sheltering in place. “It’s total. It’s total. And the governors know that.” That’s what DDT said about his personal authority because he decided the entire country would open up on May Day.  When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.” Governors, who have had their ordered supplies stolen by the federal government and sent overseas, didn’t agree and started forming regional pacts to develop and carry out strategies to keep people alive while opening up their states.

By the next day, DDT decided his “total authority” was to order governors in charge of opening their states when they felt is appropriate. Then he announced his plan—a lot of sheltering in place as long as necessary and determine the correct time by testing and tracking contacts with infected people. His plan has a major flaw: he has no plan for testing or tracking.

Asked how many tests are available for states at a rally, he turned the question over to Dr. Deborah Birx who waffled for several minutes before having no answer. Testing in the U.S. is now up to about 146,000 a day. At that rate, testing of everyone in the U.S. would require over 2200 days, 6.2 years. People who say that not everyone needs to be tested may consider that only 16 percent of the U.S. population could be tested within the next year, even if a person were tested only once. At this time, the U.S. has tested about 19 people per 1,000.

This past week, DDT sent each state 15 rapid coronavirus test machines but only 100 test cartridges. That’s a total of 5,000 tests, equivalent to 3.5 percent of tests for one day. The company making the cartridges send them only to the federal government. 

 

Again today, the lie of having enough tests was repeated by VP Mike Pence, who consistently says that people shouldn’t get tests. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that problems of testing are being fixed, but he didn’t give a timeline.  Yet labs repeat that they still face persistent shortages of supplies for testing, such as swabs, which DDT refers to as “just cotton.” HHS assistant secretary Brett Giroir said that the government would be getting 5 million swabs by the end of April, enough for 1.5 percent of the U.S. population if each person takes only one test, which isn’t the case. In a conference call with Pence today, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) called DDT’s lack of a nationwide testing regime a dereliction of duty.  

While refusing (or unable) to send states testing supplies, DDT tweeted, “The States have to step up their TESTING!” As testing is required for reopening strategy, the number of tests is going down, dropping 30 percent last week.  [visual testing]

A leaked report from CDC and FEMA on re-opening the country cautions “a significant risk of resurgence of the virus” with even a careful, phased approach. The criteria for easing guidelines tied to public gatherings in a region include a “genuinely low” number of cases; a “well functioning” monitoring system capable of “promptly detecting” spikes of infections; a public health system capable of reacting robustly to new cases; and local health systems with enough inpatient beds to rapidly scale up if cases surge. None of these appeared in DDT’s plan

The CDC also recommends a COVID-19 Response Corps of 670 people to help track down contacts with infected people and require those in contact to quarantine, far short of the 100,000 trackers recommended by an Ebola expert. Another suggestion was a certificate of immunity for recovered COVID-19 infected people although there is no indication that having the disease causes immunity.

For DDT, dead people are not a problem if the economy is fixed in time for the election. He cannot appreciate the COVID-19 deadliness and doesn’t want testing and tracking. In addition, he hasn’t comprehended that asymptomatic people can spread the virus. 

DDT has once again totally abdicated the responsibility of leadership to cast the blame on others. 

April 15, 2020

DDT Wants Hydroxychloroquine, Needs Drug for Anti-Narcissm

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 11:10 PM
Tags: , , , ,

 (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Satirist Andy Borowitz has written several pieces about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) within the past few months; this humor deals with DDT’s need for an anti-narcissism drug:

Stating that “time is of the essence,” Dr. Anthony Fauci is imploring the nation’s pharmaceutical companies to fast-track the development of a drug to treat narcissism.

Acknowledging that narcissistic-personality disorder has historically been resistant to medication, the esteemed virologist said that a breakthrough drug was “urgently needed.”

“I have seen the toll that narcissism takes, day in, day out,” Fauci said. “The human cost is incalculable.”

Without offering scientific evidence or data, Fauci argued, “Successfully treating one narcissist could substantially reduce the misery and suffering of millions.”

The epidemiologist said that, as soon as a promising anti-narcissism drug is developed, he would “personally mastermind” its clinical trials.

For the purpose of those trials, Fauci said, it would be optimal to manufacture the drug as a pill or anything else “that could be easily crushed and dissolved in a Diet Coke.”

Asked about the use of hydroxychloroquine on CBS’ Face the Nation, Fauci responded, “In terms of science, I don’t think we could definitively say it works.”

A major problem for people who want to keep living is DDT’s incessant promotion of a dangerous drug as a magical cure for COVID-19.

“What do you have to lose?” DDT frequently says about his pushing the drug. For DDT, the answer is donations. He’s received millions of dollars in political support from the founder of a pharmaceutical industry-funded group pushing him to promote hydroxychloroquine. The latest COVID-19 hot spot, South Dakota, which refuses to shut down the state, is using federal money from the $2.2 trillion bill for the drug. Billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, also founder of the Job Creators Network and promoted by DDT at one of his press briefings (campaign rallies), gave more than $7 million through outside groups for DDT’s 2016 election. Marcus’ Network has been funded by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), that includes Novartis, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Bayer—manufacturers of DDT’s favorite drug. Network’s hydroxychloroquine campaign also partners with Physicians for Reform which works with the Koch brothers’ FreedomWorks to deregulate healthcare policies.

The Network partners with nonprofit Physicians for Reform, which works with FreedomWorks to promote deregulatory health care policies. FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group that was founded by the Koch brothers, also receives money from PhRMA. According to tax documents PhRMA gave $100,000 to FreedomWorks in 2018.

The FAA prohibited pilots from flying if they have used chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine within 48 hours for COVID-19 prevention before reporting for flight. Pilots with arthritis have limited exceptions to take small doses of the drug if they meet other criteria and taken an eye examination. The FAA guidance states that there is “no satisfactory scientific evidence that use of these medications decreases the severity of the virus” and noted “there is no standardized protocol,” such as how much and how frequently to take the drug. Three U.S.-based cardiovascular groups warned doctors to consider “potential serious implications for people with existing cardiovascular disease” if prescribing the treatment. Dr. Penny Giovanetti, the director of the Medical Specialties Division within the Office of Aerospace Medicine, signed the order. Giovanetti has special diplomas from the American Board of Preventive Medicine.

Some CIA leaders agree with the FAA and Fauci. On March 27, a CIA website for employees warned that hydroxychloroquine could have dangerous side effects such as “sudden cardiac death.” The CIA added, in boldface, “Please do not obtain this medication on your own.” The post was put on the website after an employee asked about taking the drug without a prescription.

In addition to small failed studies in France, Sweden, and Brazil, a study of 150 patients in China shows that DDT’s drug of choice doesn’t help patients more than standard care but has problem with side effects. Researchers think that anti-inflammatory effects helped alleviate patients’ syndromes. A later French study that compared over 180 patients in 12 hospitals and public research institutes found almost identical outcomes between those with hydroxychloroquine. Researchers reported:

“These results do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalized for documented Sars-CoV-2-positive hypoxic pneumonia….

“In conclusion, we found that hydroxychloroquine did not significantly reduce admission to ICU or death at Day Seven after hospital admission, or acute respiratory distress syndrome in hospitalized patients with hypoxemic pneumonia due to COVID-19. These results are of major importance and do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalized for a documented Sars-CoV-2 pneumonia.”

Dr. Robin Armstrong, medical director of the Texas City (TX) extended care nursing home, is giving hydroxychloroquine to his patients. At “The Resort,” 87 people have tested positive for COVID-19, currently one of the biggest outbreaks in the state. Armstrong lies about DDT’s drug of choice having “virtually no side effects” and told a reporter that “some” of the 39 patients on the drug show signs of improvement. He has only anecdotal evidence with no random trial for his claims: he just pops pills, even to patients with dementia who cannot consent. He also didn’t tell families, and in some cases the patients, what he was doing. About notification of giving new medication, he said, “It’s not required.” His justification comes from studies from Europe and China, many of which have failed.

At the most recent inspection by the state Health and Human Services on July 25, 2019, the nursing home received 14 violations of state standards including lack of proper care for residents needing special services such as injections, colostomy, ureterostomy, ileostomy, tracheostomy care, tracheal suctioning, respiratory care, foot care, and prostheses; lack of storage, preparation, and provision of food in a clean and safe way; and lack of design, construction, equipment, and protection for the health and safety of residents, workers, and the public.

In a series of political roles, Armstrong, who got his drugs during a shortage by calling GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, is Vice Chair of Texas’ GOP. Patrick is known for saying on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Show, that old people should volunteer to die so that the wealthy in the United States can keep their way of life.

Anti-narcissism medication might help people other than DDT. The stupidity and arrogance of South Dakota’s first-term governor, Kristi Noem, is also killing people. She will give no shelter-in-home order because it represents a “herd mentality.” People should have the right, according to Noem, to work, worship, play, and even stay at home. Her solution for the virus is to stop watching national news because—as other conservative governors claim—the state is not New York. Thanks to Noem’s blindness, her city of Sioux Falls faces one of the largest COVID-19 clusters in the nation: 640 people connected to a Smithfield Foods plant have confirmed cases. The plant, supplying five percent of the pork eaten in the U.S., employs 3,700 people who have no restrictions to keep them safe. It is closed for two weeks.

Noem’s only move to protect people is a shelter-in-place in two counties for people over 65 and with underlying health conditions. All other people are encouraged to demonstrate “personal responsibility” and “resiliency.” And take hydroxychloroquine. She is spending her money from the $2.2 trillion disaster relief law to buy the drug. Her advisers have warned her that up to 70 percent of her residents can be infected with the virus by its peak. Mayors in cities such as Rapid City try to enforce stay-at-home restrictions, but businesses consider the order unfair because the state doesn’t have the mandate.

With a population of only 885,000, South Dakota is 15th from the top in confirmed cases per one million people.

Residents and health officials in Nebraska, South Dakota’s southern border state, are angry with GOP Gov. Peter Ricketts for the surge of confirmed cases and the lack of stay-at-home orders. The 197 cases in one town, Grand Island, are six times per capita as that of the state, and the area has four deaths. Testing shows a positive rate of 20 to 25 percent in three nursing homes.

DDT’s senior counselor Kellyanne Cnway is also badly in need of an anti-narcissism drug. Since her interview on Fox & Friends this morning, people debate whether Conway is stupid or just desperately trying to appeal to DDT’s base. Blaming the World Health Organization to make DDT happy, she said that WHO should have learned from the first 18 strains of COVID—because it’s called COVID-19. The name comes from 2019, the year that COVID-19 was first identified. “People should know the facts,” she concluded her idiocy. That goes for the entire DDT administration.

On April 15, the U.S. has 587,155 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 28,529 deaths, as well as countless other unidentified cases and deaths. DDT wants restrictions lifted, making the number of hospitalizations and deaths skyrocket.

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