Nel's New Day

June 25, 2020

COVID-19 Hits the News After Massive Increases in Infections

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has doggedly avoided the COVID-19 disaster while the pandemic worsens, especially in the United States. On June 24, the U.S. reportedly had its highest number of new infections—45,557 cases—which brings the total number in the nation to almost 2.5 million. The high daily count of over 9,000 more than the second highest number—25 percent more—was traced to southern and western states’ reopening businesses for Memorial Day.

By contrast, the Northeast demonstrated significant decreases in cases using social distancing and mask wearing. To keep the number of infections down, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut require 14-day quarantines for travelers from eight states having spikes in their COVID-19 numbers. DDT plans to violate the new ruling when he goes to his Bedminster golf club this weekend after having gone to Arizona, one of the travel advisory states, earlier this week, where he also violated a city ordinance by not wearing a mask. He claims that he’s “not a civilian.” Only New York will punish violators, specifically with fines beginning at $2,000. The quarantine also applies travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas.

In northern Phoenix (AZ), Dream City megachurch, where DDT gave a speech to an audience of 3,000 seated closely together mostly without masks, bragged about the installation of a product killing “99.9% of COVID within 10 minutes. Created by some church members, the technology used bogus advertising: the analysis was on Coronavirus 229E—responsible for the common cold—in empty rooms, not with crowds of 3,000 in proximity shown in this photo. Dr. Philip Tierno, clinical professor of pathology at New York University, responded to the church’s claim:

“You will ABSOLUTELY NOT BE SAFE AND PROTECTED. When you are dealing with hundreds or thousands of people in an AUDITORIUM, some of whom will carry the virus you WILL NOT BE absolutely PROTECTED.”

Evangelical religion is still killing people, and Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham is promoting these deaths. In an attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading expert on COVID-19 in the U.S., Graham said,

Science isn’t truth. God is.”

Thanks to DDT, the COVID-19 crisis is so horrific in the U.S. that Europe is considering a travel ban from the U.S. this summer because it “has failed to control the scourge” along with visitors from Russia and Brazil.

DDT’s definition of “zero” seems to be 16,600, the number of ventilators “on the shelves” when he was inaugurated. Although DDT also complained how ventilators were obsolete, they couldn’t be used for the epidemic because DDT didn’t pay for their upkeep. Even VP Mike Pence wrote last week that the stockpile had 10,000 ventilators on hand.

States with high spikes are suffering from overwhelming hospital use. Florida, with the worst spike per capita, has only 21 percent for adult intensive care units, and only 12 percent of Arizona’s ICU beds are available.

According to CDC Director Robert Redfield, the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is probably ten times higher than those reported. He added that the recent surge in the South and West is driven by young people. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has promoted the re-opening of his state, announced a pause in the process and suspended elective surgeries in four counties.

Sick workers can’t stay home because 40 percent of essential workers—69.4 million people—aren’t covered by the congressional paid sick leave law passed in March. The number includes 17.7 million healthcare workers. One-third of these healthcare workers are people of color, and 75 percent are women. Thus far, 40 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths—over 50,000—are nursing home residents and workers.

Larry Kudlow is still spreading misinformation by saying he doesn’t expect a second wave of the virus. People “just have to live with” the new hot spots across the country, he said. The day before, virus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testified that the U.S. is still in the first wave and used the term “disturbing surge” for new cases in states such as Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

Meanwhile, DDT is still pushing the myth that the numbers increased because of “GREAT TESTING,” a theme at his Tulsa rally where he said he told his people to “slow down the testing.” Despite Republicans’ attempt to protect him by saying it was a joke, DDT said it wasn’t. He held up the $14 billion Congress allotted for testing three months ago and removed support from 13 testing sites in five states, including seven sites in Texas. Dr. Anthony Fauci also said the federal government abruptly canceled funding to important research on bat coronaviruses by the National Institutes of Health. The project collaborates with a virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In opposition to conspiracy theorists, scientists claim that the WIV is not the source of COVID-19.

Expert statistician Nate Silver tweeted the positive percentage of infections from testing went up to 5.3 percent on June 21, up from 4.4 percent a week earlier on June 14. Even GOP senators think that more testing is important.

Creative scammers are endangering the health of people in the U.S. For example, a Silicon investor and his business partner hired workers to take Chinese KN95 masks from packages labeled “MEDICAL USE PROHIBITED” and put them into packages without the warning which were then sold to Texas. Masks filter as little as 39 percent of particles, and China was blamed for sending faulty products. Details of the scam are here.

DDT’s determination to expand COVID-19 in Tulsa has been a success. Despite six DDT campaign staffers infected with COVID-19 pulled from attending the rally, another two infected people were in attendance. Now, dozens of Secret Service officers (the ones who DDT calls “SS) are in self-quarantine because of exposure. Two Secret Service agents were among the first six discovered with the virus among the advance staff and ordered to stay away. The day before their diagnosis, they met with dozens of other staff, and another two campaign staffers tested positive. When campaign spokesman said “no COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials,” he evidently didn’t consider a meeting to be “immediate contact.” Yesterday, four days after DDT’ campaign rally, Tulsa had a new record number of new infections. With no evidence, the city’s GOP mayor said the 259 newly infected people got it from “people going to weddings and funerals and family gatherings and bars and other things like that, that are causing this uptick.” Another week will provide more information.  

In a devastating turn of events for the unemployed and those on furlough, insurance companies don’t have to pay for COVID-19 test required to return to their jobs. DDT signed the Families first Coronavirus Response Act in March which mandates insurers and employer-provide plans cover “Covid-19 testing and related services without cost-sharing.” In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated employers are legally permitted to force employees to take Covid-19 viral tests to determine whether it is safe for them to return to the workplace. The administration’s guidance, however, maintains that the law covers only “medically appropriate” coronavirus screenings, not tests “conducted to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as employee ‘return to work’ programs).” Several states, including New York and New Jersey, require the hot spots of nursing homes to test employees, but these places tried to bill insurance companies because they couldn’t pay for the costs. Some insurance companies refuse.

Last night, DD’s administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act in an effort to leave more people without insurance. It’s another attempt to destroy health care during a surging pandemic.

For a second day, COVID-19 surged across the U.S. to 40,184 new coronavirus infections and a spike of 2,500 deaths. Texas, Alabama, Missouri and Nevada reported daily highs.

Sixty percent of Jacksonville (FL) residents don’t want DDT to bring the GOP convention there in late August, and 61 percent, including a majority of Republicans, believe that doing this will cause a new coronavirus outbreak. A newer poll from the University of North Florida surveying Duval County voters upped the concern to 71 percent who are “very or somewhat concerned” the convention would result in COVID-19 transmission.

Two months ago, VP Mike Pence, then head of the coronavirus task force, predicted that the epidemic will be “largely past” by Memorial Day weekend. It isn’t. Pence will lead the first press briefing in almost two months tomorrow afternoon at HHS. With the November election looming, DDT wants to distance himself as much as possible with his failure in managing the epidemic.

June 25: number of COVID-19 cases – 2,504,588; number of COVID-19 deaths – 126,780. Or more.

May 25, 2020

DDT Golfs, Spreads Hate during Time of Remembrance

On Memorial Day weekend, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) celebrated the dead–both in wartime and in his COVID-19 disaster–by golfing on both Saturday and Sunday.

DDT’s furious Sunday tweets before Memorial Day also reflect his obsession with himself on the day set aside to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. Combat fatalities of over 432,000 since World War I may share with the almost 100,000 COVID-19 fatalities because DDT calls himself the “wartime president.” In addition to playing golf, however, DDT managed to tweet a large number of vicious statements against his perceived enemies and in favor of false conspiracy theories:

  • Mocked former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight, tweeting she had “visited every buffet restaurant in the State” in a doctored retweet of Abrams.
  • Ridiculed the looks of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), retweeting a statement about using duct tape instead of PolyGrip: “she won’t be able to drink booze on the job as much.” (According to Pelosi’s office, she, like DDT, does not drink alcohol.)
  • Retweeted a message callins former Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State a “skank.”
  • Insinuated through his repetition of the debunked conspiracy that MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough murdered a staff member after an affair with her.
  • Declared, with no evidence, that mail-in voting routinely stuffs the ballot box.
  • Claimed “tremendous rave reviews” for hydroxychloroquine, shown to be dangerous to life for COVID-19 patients and retweeted the day before hydroxychloroquine “Is Most Effective EARLY” for treating COVID-19—a completely false statement.
  • Blamed former AG Jeff Sessions, who he nominated, of having “no courage.”
  • Mandated the immediate opening of schools after hearing this request from Fox’s Steve Hilton, who also called social distancing rules “over-prescriptive” and “arbitrary.” DDT ignored social distance during his golf games. 
  • Lied about “cases, numbers and deaths … going down all over the country!” (This was the only tweet about the epidemic—no reference to people dying on his watch.)

Rural counties with some of the highest rates of covid-19 cases and deaths in the country are topping infection and death rates of even the hardest-hit New York City boroughs as states lift shelter-in-place mandates. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported a “second peak” in infections, and North Carolina had its biggest one-day increase of confirmed cases. Ohio’s number of deaths doubled on Saturday from Friday.  determined. Nine days ago, Texas, determined to be open, reported 1,801 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest single-day jump in cases since the pandemic began, from a growing outbreak in the Panhandle. Maryland hit a new high mark with 1,784 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on one day, just four days after reopening its economy. The number was one-fourth of tests performed that day. Many of the cases were between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

Numbers of infections and deaths in the U.S. are higher than May 10-11

Four days ago, the coronavirus still spread at epidemic rates in 24 states, particularly in the South and Midwest and in states that had reopened. The model shows what happens if people move around as they did before the epidemic and fail to take precautions. Many of these place are depending on individual responsibility for actions. As one leader in western Iowa said, “Families need to make their own decisions.” Bad decisions created pockets of infections as this tourist spot in Missouri soon will provide 

I live in a popular tourist area on the Oregon coast. Over the weekend, I drove around to see what was happening since the county was granted Phase I permission to open lodging and restaurants. The Bayfront had many people not observing social distancing, and the parking lots were packed where people were launching their boats. No masks and no seeming concern—back to “normal” on a Memorial Day weekend.

Although DDT read a speech with no voice inflection this morning at Arlington Cemetery, he continued his threats and ranting throughout the day, four of them about moving the RNC from Charlotte if North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) tries to limit capacity at the August event through social distancing to protect workers and attendees from the virus. He tweeted if the arena can’t be “fully occupied,” the GOP will take “all of the jobs and economic development” someplace else. Social media has suggested that DDT may try to move the RNC to one of his resorts, even Mar-a-Lago, because he already suggested that the event can be held in “a hotel ballroom in Florida.” The RNC is considering limiting convention goers to delegates, leaving alternative delegates at home for the August 24-27 event.

After the DNC postponed its convention in Milwaukee (WI) from July to August 17-20, it plans to vote by mail to leave final convention decisions to a state and local team of health and elected officials. Five days ago, city health commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said she preferred a “more virtual” convention. An alternative might be smaller regional events for delegates and party leaders accompanying a minimized main event, preferably held in five or six battleground states. Several DNC-related venues have been canceled, and a large number of delegates report not attending

Another all-about-DDT event was his speech at Fort Henry after Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore’s mayor Bernard C. Young asked him not to come to the state during the health crisis. Republican Hogan did not attend the speech. Young said the city couldn’t afford the costs of his visit and DDT’s “deciding to pursue nonessential travel sends the wrong message to our residents.” DDT’s spokesman justified DDT’s presence at Fort Henry by comparing him to the military service members because he didn’t “stay home” just as they didn’t.

In an interview with ultra-conservative Sinclair before golfing, DDT called himself the victim—not the 100,000 dead people and the almost 1.7 million infected people—because a model shows that two weeks’ earlier action on stopping COVID-19 could have saved about half these lives. DDT complained that Fox is “doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd.” He sees that as the responsibility of a news network that has claimed to be “fair and balanced” until three years ago. About Fox, Rolling Stone reported:

“The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism. The result is one of the most powerful political machines in American history. One that plays a leading role in defining Republican talking points and advancing the agenda of the far right.”

Gone is the builder of Fox, Roger Ailes, who was media consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush before he advised DDT’s 2016 campaign. DDT wants to switch to the king of conspiracy theories, OANN, especially after the family of Tommy Hicks, RNC co-chair and close friend of DDT’s son Donald Jr., is negotiating to buy the network.

CDC officials say that science is taking a back seat to politics, and DDT’s latest maneuver to put all COVID-19 decisions under his thumb in the State Department demonstrates the CDC complaint. Because Dr. Deborah Birx has been effective at agreeing with DDT about his outrageous comments and doesn’t argue against him, DDT may move the global pandemic response from an infectious expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and give it to Birx in a State Department health organization. That puts decisions under the control of far-right evangelical anti-science Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State comfortable with lying to give DDT anything he wants. The World Health Organization would be gone, and the State Department would be in charge of COVID-19 treatment and vaccines. The new State Department authority on the virus even has a name—PRO, or President’s Response to Outbreaks. It just has no experts in epidemiology, health policy, and medical logistics. 

On May 25, 2020—Memorial Day—confirmed deaths from COVID-19 are just 195 short of 100,000 although the number is more because some states are lying to keep their numbers down and their reopening more possible. That’s an average of 1,111 a day since the first recorded death in the U.S. on February 26. Seven states hit hard by COVID-19 reported almost 50 percent higher total deaths—9,000 more—than normal between March 8 and April 11. That was almost seven weeks ago (another 15,000 extra deaths?) and before states like Florida, Georgia, and South Dakota were shown to be hiding some of their cases.  

Combat fatalities in Gulf Wars from both Bushes—5,818—averaged .75 each day. At an average of at least 1,111 fatalities per day during the past 90 days, the 100,000 in DDT’s “war” is higher than the under 87,000 combat fatalities in all the “conflicts” since 1950 in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East are under 87,000.

That’s the record for Memorial Day 2020. We have another year for hundreds of thousands of more deaths if DDT continues to value his stock market over people’s lives.

May 22, 2020

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Somebody Else’s Death

Protesters paid by far-right organizations have been carrying their assault rifles across the nation and encouraging people to infect others. A study using cellphones show they may be successful as they travel hundreds of miles to events and take infections back home. A Denver event showed participants heading back to neighboring states such as Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Utah.

Shutdown orders crossed the nation on March 15, beginning with Illinois, Ohio, and New York City. Starting social distancing just one week earlier—while DDT was still denying COVID-19 was any problem—could have prevented 36,000 deaths, over 36 percent of fatalities reported today. Two weeks earlier, these measures could have saved 54,000 lives. Other than banning some travel from China on January 28 and from Europe on March 13, DDT took no steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Researchers said the U.S. needs to remember this lesson for the future because DDT says he will not be closing down the nation even with a resurgence of COVID-19. A CDC official said the agency was “muzzled.”

Other dangers to human life continue from the federal government. The federal government—including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—fought against giving Native American tribes the money allotted by Congress. He finally gave the tribes the money instead of to related organizations, but Native Americans still get substandard treatment. DDT’s former chief of staff Zach Fuentes got a contract to sell masks to the government just days after registering his company and bought possibly faulty masks from China. Navajo hospitals got $3 million of these respirator masks; 247,000 of the masks, valued at $800,000, are perhaps unsuitable for medical use. Another 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the kind specified in the order. Fuentes charged the Navajo Nation $3.24 per mask, compared to the $1.31 he charged the Bureau of Prisons. Pre-pandemic cost per mask was $1. As of today, the Navajo Nation reported 4,434 COVID-19 cases and 147 death—a higher rate than New York’s worst rate.

The government’s incompetence also lets people go hungry. The Northeast, hardest hit by COVID-19, received $46 million, the second-lowest funding of any region, from DDT’s $1.2 billion fresh food aid program. The Southwest, including Texas, received over five times as much money as the Northeast for one-fourth as many coronavirus cases. In short, the Northeast has 10 percent of the country’s population, 33 percent of COVID-19 cases, and 4 percent of food relief dollars. The USDA claimed one rejected Maine distributor was missing a signature, but the distributor said signature was present when he rechecked his paperwork. Food bank demand in Maine increased 35 percent, but USDA blocked Maine’s growers from selling their fresh produce to the program. The USDA also refused both bids from Alaska, meaning the state could not take part in the program until Food Bank found one way to get a winning bidder for fruits and vegetables. Shipments, however, can’t go outside Anchorage, and no meat or dairy is included.

Instead of using the three largest food distribution companies and nonprofits with long histories of feeding the poor on a large scale, USDA hired inexperienced private contractors–$107 million to a San Antonio event planner, an avocado mail-order company, a health-and-wellness airport kiosk company, and a trade finance corporation. The only criterion on where the food was distributed was who won the bids, some of them companies with no USDA license. California Avocados Direct, which received $40 million, can’t start until it pages a road to its facility, buy three cargo containers, and hire 130 people.

DDT plans to keep what he calls his “badge of honor” for a high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths if the virus returns this fall. When illegally touring a Michigan Ford Motor factory making masks without wearing a mask, he announced he would keep the nation open. DDT also attacked the Michigan Attorney General who had asked him to wear a mask, citing a “legal responsibility” under state law and a “social and moral responsibility.” He excused his refusal by saying, “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” In a tweet, DDT called the female AG, Dana Nessel, “The Wacky Do Nothing Attorney General of Michigan” and gave himself credit for bringing back auto companies to Michigan. Ford Motor closed two U.S. assembly plants because COVID-19 has not been contained.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, DDT’s virus expert, said a second wave would be “inevitable.” CDC Director Robert Redfield said any decision on shelter-in-place would be “data-driven.” ER physician Megan Ranney, researcher at Brown University, testified before Congress the U.S. is not “currently prepared for a second wave” because of lack of financial support and adequate science. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll cited 77 percent saying they worry about a second wave of coronavirus happening as more businesses across the country reopen.

In an attempt to regain his voting base, DDT said he will “override” governors to open churches this Sunday. He lacks the power to do so but declared houses of worship as “essential places that provide essential services.” At least two reopened churches in Georgia and Texas closed because of attendees testing positive for COVID-19, and three dozen cases spread by a pastor and his wife after a March opening in a rural Arkansas church also killed three people thus far. DDT also indicated he was ordering CDC to make churches essential because he thinks the “timeline that I think is right.” DDT’s desperation comes from his dropping polls with white evangelicals (-11 percent), white Catholics (-12 percent), and white mainline Protestants (-18 percent).

DDT also panics about his re-election because it may require a good economy. Even Larry Kudlow, top economic official, said any economic rebound numbers “are downright bad in most cases” because of the virus’ unpredictability. Another 2.4 million people filed jobless claims last week, bringing the total to almost 39 million in less than two months. months. Mortgage delinquencies skyrocketed to 6.45 percent in April, three times the previous single-month record of 2008, and over double that of 3.06 percent in March. Only 21 percent of the 4.75 million homeowners in forbearance made their May payments. DDT is still claiming the stock market comeback at a “V,” but forecasters are predicting a “Nike swoosh” taking well into 2021 or beyond.

New guidance from CDC states one-third of infections are asymptomatic, and 40 percent of transmission occurs before people feel sick. Its “best estimate” is 0.4 percent of people who show symptoms and have COVID-19 will die, but estimates are based on data collected almost a month ago. Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington called the projected mortality rate “optimistic,” “way out of line” with estimates of numbers infected in places such as New York City and don’t reflect “behavioral changes, social distancing, or other interventions.”

Counties with DDT’s base are the new hot zones of COVID-19. During the past four weeks, counties who voted for DDT in 2016 are more likely to show a high prevalence of the virus—100 or more cases per 100,000 people. From May 10 to May 17, 176 new counties joined the list of hundreds of counties in that category. All the new ones voted for DDT by a 12 percent margin in 2016, and he won 151 of them outright.

An analysis determining where people are most at risk for COVID-19 looked at above-average rates of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obesity. Risks on this map go from lowest (white) to highest (darkest purple).  [visual COVID-19 risk]

Six months ago, DDT claimed his unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital and staying out of public view for two days was a head start on his annual physical. No report on the results was ever made, and DDT hasn’t completed his mandatory annual examination. In early March, he said he was “so busy, I can’t do it” when asked when he would complete the physical. Since that time, he has dodged reporters’ questions about the timing. His 2018 physical showed heart disease common for men in his age group. Normal presidents have this examination at the beginning of a new year.

According to a new study of 96,000 people, Covid-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine, DDT’s drug of choice he claims to be taking, showed no special improvement and were significantly more likely to develop dangerous heart conditions.

The Merriam-Webster word-of-the-day for yesterday, “per capita,” was defined as “per unit of population; by or for each person” and “equally to each individual.”   Earlier, DDT tried to explain almost 100,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 aren’t too bad in response to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore statistics that the U.S. has the ninth highest coronavirus death rate, per capita, in the world and the highest numbers of coronavirus deaths period:

“And, you know, when you say “per capita,” there’s many per capitas. It’s, like, per capita relative to what? But you can look at just about any category, and we’re really at the top, meaning positive on a per capita basis, too. They’ve done a great job.

On May 22, the U.S. had 1,645,094 COVID-19 cases and 97,647 deaths with some states lying to lower the numbers. Florida fired the person in charge of COVID-19 data because she wouldn’t doctor it to get the state opened. An analysis of deaths for five weeks ending April 25 show 1,358 to 1,831 unexpected deaths, suggesting that the epidemic death toll could be 17 percent to 58 percent higher.


May 20, 2020

DDT Plays Doctor, Goes Goofy

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 10:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

President Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half and that the White House physician knows he is taking the anti-malaria drug despite the fact he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. No one knows if he’s taking the drug or just lying. His doctor’s memo of May 18, 2020, merely said that that he had discussed the issue with DDT, and they “concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.” Even without saying that he had prescribed the drug, the doctor helps persuade vulnerable and gullible people to take a drug that can kill them. Fox’s Neil Cavuto made that very clear by tweeting:

“If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.”

DDT made his fury at Cavuto and Fox very clear in a tweet barrage last Monday. One of DDT’s retweets showed that he missed the black humor from the tweeter:

Neil Cavuto: It’ll kill you!!!

Laura Ingraham: Take it! Take it! Take it!

Fox has had a reputation for attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, who disagrees with DDT about the efficacy of a dangerous unapproved drug for COVID-19.  The GOP website Bulwark compared medical expert Fauci with DDT and asked, “To whom would you go if you get sick?” But DDT needs to get rid of 29 million dosages that he’s stockpiled.

DDT’s claims seems to be just another simple assertion that he’s right, no matter what, and that he needs to distract people from his weekly firing of an inspector general.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, has some questions for the doctor who wrote a memo indicating approval of DDT taking hydroxychloroquine. He has these questions:

Is DDT’s “statement that he is taking the drug … true?” Prominent pundits think not.

“If it is not true that Trump is taking the drug, why has Dr. Conley lied in violation of (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines, medical standards, ethics and professionalism? Who instructed or encouraged him to lie?” (It should be noted that the FDA is covering for Conley by softening the guidelines in prescribing the drug.)

“The 25th Amendment was passed, in part, because the White House physician for President Franklin D. Roosevelt covered up his debilitating heart disease. Is Dr. Conley violating the spirit of that constitutional amendment?”

Will Conley’s actions “be reviewed and held to account by the Department of Defense given that he is a military officer?”

Could the drug have an affect on DDT’s mental health?  Blumenthal wrote, “Medical researchers have concluded that hydroxychloroquine may cause neuropsychiatric symptoms, ‘including agitation, insomnia, confusion, mania, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, catatonia, psychosis and suicidal ideation. Has Dr. Conley properly assessed his patient, President Trump, for his susceptibility to these symptoms? Since Trump has been taking the drug, has Dr. Conley observed that it has produced or exacerbated any of these symptoms in President Trump?”

DDT’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, frantically trying to keep his job after DDT’s re-election polls keep dropping, approves of DDT’s taking the drug because the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons endorses hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. Anyone who hears that also needs to know that the 2,500-member organization doesn’t believe in the connection between AIDS and HIV, considered “scientifically conclusive” since 1988 by the National Academy of Sciences. Judd Legum also reported the AAPS published an article in 2008 claiming Jewish people were hypnotized to vote for Barack Obama and his campaign logo “resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.” According to AAPS, nicotine is not addictive, and Michael L. Marlow’s paper criticizes “government efforts to encourage people to stop smoking as costly and ineffective”—research financed by Philip Morris.”

If DDT is truly taking a dangerous drug, it’s his problem. VP Mike Pence is waiting in the wings. But millions of people see DDT as a leader; some of them even swallowed bleach after his deadly advice. DDT’s vigorously push of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 leads to a public health hazard when he reassures his audiences that the drug “doesn’t harm you.”

According to research, seriously adverse side effects include heart problems, an issue for DDT because of his medical history, leading to death. Yet DDT refuses to accept any problems from hydroxychloroquine: this week he called the research from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs a “Trump enemy statement.” He accused VA scientists of conspiring against him, also claiming at a Cabinet meeting, “That study was a phony study put out by the VA.” Far from being “political,” as DDT claimed, the research has no evidence of VA researchers involved in a political conspiracy. Mental problems caused by taking hydroxychloroquine include sudden bouts of anger, depression, and even suicidal impulses. White House officials have reported that DDT has recently been have severe changes in mood. He became worse after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) referred to him as “morbidly obese.”

DDT may be behaving even more strangely these days. During his unveiling of a $19 billion COVID-19 agricultural aid package covering farmers’ losses of over five percent, he declared:

“We’re going after Virginia, with your crazy governor. They want to take your Second Amendment away. You’ll have nobody guarding your potatoes.”

Virginia has the smallest potato crop of any state, and there have been no reports of anyone attacking potatoes in the state.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths from COVID-19 is still rising although several states are hiding their data. As of May 20, the U.S. has almost 95,000 deaths in almost 1.6 million cases; the world just topped 5 million.              

May 15, 2020

Just a Few COVID-19 Disasters from DDT

How is Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) coping with COVID-19? An editorial in the respected British medical journal, the Lancet, lambasted DDT for his “inconsistent and incoherent national response.” Several administrations, according to the editorial, used “conservative politics” to erode CDC’s “ability to mount effective, evidence-based public health responses,” and DDT “further chipped away at the CDC’s capacity to combat infectious diseases.” The editorial listed DDT’s disastrous mistakes for the past few months, “especially on testing in the early stages of the pandemic.” It further stated that “only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency.”

Other “conservative politics” exacerbating the health crisis:

Two months after DDT appeared to take COVID-19 seriously in mid-March, he has announced a “Operation Warp Speed” program to develop a vaccine right after the 2020 election. At his roll-out event, however, he said there may be no need for a vaccine because the virus might “go away.” The last “speed vaccine” was in 1976 for a new strain of swine flu. Concerned about costs and liability, manufacturers persuaded Congress to pass a law waiving liability. By October, reports of deaths and cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome appeared. The program was shut down after 94 reports of paralysis.  

DDT complained about the media not reporting that the U.S. has more cases than other countries because “when you test, you find something wrong with people.” He wants the media to report that “if we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” He is making the “case” that people have COVID-19 only because they are tested. The media is definitely reporting his statement. As for DDT’s accusation that the U.S. does the most testing, the U.S. ranks 39th in the world in testing people for COVID-19. Testing is not the reason that the U.S. has one-third the number of confirmed cases in the world with under five percent of the population. DDT also said that frontline nurses and doctors “running into death” is “a beautiful thing to see.”

Instead of following advice from medical experts, DDT is “pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic.” With the help of Dr. Deborah Birx, DDT wants the CDC death and case counts to exclude people who likely had COVID-19 but no test confirmation and people with COVID-19 but had other health issues when they died. She fed DDT the idea that CDC inflated the number of deaths as much as 25 percent whereas medical experts believe that the U.S. may have an undercount of up to 100 percent on deaths from the virus. The Abbott coronavirus rapid test, praised by DDT and used in the White House, missed one-third of positive tests in a comparison with the diagnostic company Cepheid.

Hiding information about the virus is DDT’s pattern. Earlier this year, he didn’t want to prepare for the health crisis because the stock market might go down. DDT listened to advice from his son-in-law Jared Kushner instead of scientific experts.

Florida was the first state to blatantly announce it would reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19 by attributing them to something else. Now Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is hiding the number of confirmed cases in the state by no longer publicly sharing announced that state health officials would no longer publicly share the number of workers at the state’s meat packing plants who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Washington Post stated, “Of the 30 counties in the United States with the highest per capita prevalence of the coronavirus last week, 10 are home to major meatpacking plants. Of those 30 counties, four are in Nebraska.”

Going mask-less at a mask-making plant, DDT repeated his complaint, “cupboards were bare.” He shows a high degree of incompetence for not filling he cupboards after he was inaugurated over three years ago.

DDT has also demanded the cautious CDC guidance on safely reopening states be changed to less definitive statements. Also missing is the statement that reopening would cause resurgences of COVID-19 and customization is vital. The White House plan lacks a comprehensive approach, and CDC guidance was released after some states reopened. 

House Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to back down from his lie that President Obama didn’t leave a plan for a pandemic—and he did it on Fox. Yet, he didn’t address whether DDT failed to follow the 69-page document, complete with charts, graphs, plans, and decision making rubrics. (You can see it here.) The cover and tables of contents. Press Secretary “I-won’t-lie-to-the-media” Kayleigh McEnany called President Obama’s 69 pages “a thin packet of paper.”

A leaked unreleased White House coronavirus task force report showing spikes of cases across the county contradicts DDT’s claim that cases “are coming down very rapidly all throughout the country.” Cases are rising in nine states, and lack of testing in 28 other states show undercounting of cases. On May 7, the top ten cities saw cases increasing by 72 percent over seven days—for example, 650 percent in St. Louis and Central City (KY). Counties with over 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents has grown from 59 at the end of March to over 700 in mid-April. At that time, the majority of residents of counties that becoming high-coronavirus areas are in the South, Midwest and West. Under half reside in urban cores; more than half live in suburban, outer-suburban, small-metro and rural areas. Nearly half of those counties’ voters picked DDT in 2016. This map of COVID-19 flashpoints by county shows the large incidence of increases in the South.   

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote, “Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, is ‘arrogantly forcing the residents of her state to remain alive,’ Attorney General William Barr charged on Friday.” After armed protesters demanding the state open up shut down the Michigan capital in a third event, the number of COVID-19 cases jumped over 1,000 on that day along with 73 more deaths. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is gradually opening up the state, but the protesters demanded it be done immediately and completely. About the protest, Whitmer said:

“When people are showing up with guns, when people are showing up with things like Confederate flags, it tells you this really isn’t about the lockdown or about a perception of a stay-home order. It’s really an organized political statement.”

As Whitmer pointed out, the fringe protesters, 14 percent of the public, and Republicans such as the Wisconsin state Supreme Court can hurt the economy and extend the time for staying at home because it will cause spiking numbers of cases. DDT says they are “responsible” people. Three weeks ago, flyers announced an anti-shutdown rally on Staten Island telling people to “bring your children,” “no mask” was needed, and come “if you’re sick.” Only the police showed up.  

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker pointed out that nationwide protests for opening up the states is fading because big money behind them is disappearing. She wrote “the Koch network … decided to run with scientists instead of the gun-toting provocateurs trampling the spring-green grass around state capitols.” Spiking cases from ignorantly reopening state will hurt their businesses.

Like the Tea Party movement of a decade ago, the protesters are controlled by wealthy far-right organizations who want to create chaos. The Convention of State—backed by politicians such as Ken Cuccinelli (acting director of immigrations services), Ben Carson (HUD secretary), Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ adviser Greg McNeilly—is behind the protests.

Truckers have been protesting for over two weeks because of the lack of stimulus aid, inadequate PPE, and low shipping rates. Today, they drove by DDT’s press briefing at the White House to express their frustration, but DDT said they were showing him “a sign of love.” Yesterday, they drowned out DDT’s interview with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo as truck horns drowned out their conversation. Shipping rates are lower 54 percent for April 2020 from April 2019, and truckers got no help from the $2.3 trillion disaster bill. About 20 percent of truckers are independent, and many others work for small companies desperate for help.  

DDT is also fighting to take food stamps from people during the pandemic by appealing a court ruling protecting hundreds of thousands of people’s access to food stamps during this time of crisis. Children, elderly, and disabled are the majority of food stamp recipients.

From Rasmussen, the country’s more conservative mainstream polling service, 23 percent of Republicans don’t want DDT as the GOP nominee. As DDT pushed the country to open up, his approval rating fell from 49 percent in February to 45 percent in April. Approval rating among voters over the age of 65 fell 20 points between March and the end of April, perhaps he said that they should die to save his economy. Only 23 percent of people trust what he says about COVID-19—maybe a reaction of his recommendation to swallow bleach for a cure.

Almost all governors have an excellent approval rate for their handling the health crisis with three states the exception. In those states, people thought governors lifted restrictions too quickly: Florida (48 percent), Texas (59 percent), and Georgia (65 percent.) The only governor rating below DDT, Georgia’s Brian Kemp was one of the last to close the state and one of the first to reopen it.

With a rough average of 2,000 additional deaths each day, the U.S. has 1,484,285 confirmed cases (until Birx changes the way CDC computes them) and 88,507 deaths as of May 15.

May 9, 2020

DDT’s Shift to Economy Kills

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 7:47 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last Sunday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) held a freewheeling interview with two Fox interviewers in a setting that made him look very small—the Lincoln Memorial. Always the TV producer, he loved the set but maintained that he hadn’t told the Interior Department to clear if for him although he was responsible. DDT did talk about whether to protect people or kill them to protect his economy. He claimed that “you can really have it both ways,” but he picked the latter. He claimed about his unity in the U.S. after siding with the 14 percent, mostly white guys protesting while carrying assault rifles and pushing people around.  

DDT said he wanted to end social distance so he could “sit next to people”—and probably feel loved at his roaring crowds.

DDT wants to kill people by hiding information. Dr. Anthony Fauci has been largely muzzled in the White House, yet he’s still giving interviews, for example when he said on CNN:

“How many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be some form of normality sooner rather than later?”

This past week, DDT was comfortable killing about 100,000 people with COVID-19. Back on the campaign trail in Arizona, DDT referenced how it’s okay with him if people are “affected badly” to make the stock market go up. “The people of our country are warriors,” he said, and “we have to get our country open.” He ignored signs telling people to wear masks at a factory that makes masks in Arizona which had is highest number of deaths from the virus on the day of his visit.

Looking like a fool at his White House campaign rallies, DDT said he would disband the coronavirus task force. After severe backlash, he said he had no idea that his daily performances were so popular. He plans to keep the task force but change its focus to the economy instead of COVID-19 .

DDT is blocking testimony from his coronavirus task force to the House, claiming that they are “Trump haters.” Testimony might reveal Jared Kushner’s directive to supply-chain vendors to prioritize orders from “VIPS” (aka conservative journalists) and use inexperienced volunteers.

The disease control experts at CDC spent weeks developing guidance for reopening communities in the safest ways possible, and the White House buried their guidelines. The report included flow charts to help local leaders make decisions about reopening or staying closed. DDT’s new press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, she of the “I won’t lie to the media” claim, said that CDC Director Robert Redfield hadn’t approved the documents. She lied. Redfield approved the document, and DDT shelved it on April 30. Also in the document was a set of phased guidelines, “Steps for All Americans in Every Community,” about testing, contact tracing, and other infection controls. DDT may not mind tracing contacts, but without tests that don’t exist, there’s no one to trace.

Redfield heard nothing after he sent the approved report to the White House for approval on April 27 although he kept asking about its status. The White House killed the document on April 30, saying that it “would [not] ever see the light of day.” On May 7, part of the report emerged into the light when AP published an article about part of it. Yesterday, they got the rest of it. The White House then called CDC and told them to take out the church flow chart.  The guide recommends three phases of reopening, including social distancing, but DDT rejected the guide because it was too cautious.

Governors are helping DDT kill more people. Hours after Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey announced his grand reopening plan, the state’s Department of Health ordered Arizona’s two major universities to “pause” compiling data and creating models about COVID-19 cases in the state. The university statistics argued that opening the state wasn’t safe until the end of May. After a public hue and cry, the state backed off from its demand. Arizona’s deaths from COVID-19 is skyrocketing.

COVID-19 infections and deaths are also skyrocketing at meatpacking plants, but HHS Secretary Alex Azar, working hard to please DDT, explained: all their infections happen at other places, and they just happen to be working at the plants. And they get infected because they aren’t “regular folks,” according to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack during oral arguments suing the government for his stay-at-home order. Location of the meatpacking company under discussion, Brown County HHS Department said no one should blame the meatpacking industry for the outbreak that went from 60 cases to 800 in two weeks.

Health officials in Grand Island (NE) wanted to shut down the meat plant to develop a when they saw the devastating effects of infection at JBS, but Gov. Pete Ricketts refused their pleas. Employers told workers were told to go to work even if they were sick, and rural areas are unprepared for infections in at least 10,000 workers at over 100 meat plants. With a population of 58,607, almost 90 percent living in Grand Island, Hall County has 1,285 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths, 38 percent of all the deaths in Nebraska, population about two million.

Four other GOP governors joined Ricketts in bragging how their refusal to issue stay-at-home orders is a “model for success”: Govs. Mark Gordon (Wyoming), Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas), Kim Reynolds (Iowa), and Mike Parson (Missouri). Over 1,600 workers at four Iowa meatpacking plants have been infected; Missouri’s 368 infections on Monday reported the highest number of new cases in one day; Nebraska’s infections in Grand Island is a higher per capita rate of infection than New York; and the virus infected over 100 prisoners and a staff member.

With the help of his sycophants, DDT uses COVID-19 to kill people through lack of transparency, lying, incompetent appointments, failure to care for country’s infrastructure, elimination of health care, restriction of supplies, favoritism, pressure to open the country for rewards, and indifference to human life except for his own.

DDT doesn’t care about anyone else’s health or death, but his Navy valet’s COVID-19 infection sent DDT to “lava-level mad,” accusing his staff of not protecting him. Close to DDT throughout the day, the personal valet serves DDT’s meals, brings him beverages, and ensures that DDT’s clothes are ironed and shoes shined, but DDT claimed he had “very little contact, personal contact with this gentleman.” CDC protocol is that anyone having close contact with an infected person stay home for 14 days since that exposure, check their temperatures twice a day, and stay away from people are high risk of getting seriously ill.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

After DDT discovered his valet tested positive for the virus, he met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Neither wore a mask. Abbott, over 60, has a weaker immune system after a 1984 accident left him partially paralyzed with a spinal cord injury. DDT’s meeting with two dozen GOP congressional leaders did not require masks and had limited social distancing. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said they had tests. After exposure to the infection, DDT also met with seven World War II veterans, ages 96 to 100. No one wore masks. DDT said he won’t wear a mask because he might look ridiculous.

Katie Miller, VP Mike Pence’s spokeswoman, has also tested positive. She frequently travels with Pence and can often be found at his side in meetings. She recently married Stephen Miller, the xenophobic author of DDT’s anti-immigration decrees. DDT said her test shows why “the concept of tests aren’t necessarily great…. Something can happen between a test where it’s good and then something happens and all of the sudden.” CDC recommends that anyone exposed to an infected person stay in quarantine for 14 days and maintain six feet social distance from all other people. Pence met with faith leaders yesterday before a roundtable on securing food supply.

Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant also tested positive, but she’s been teleconferencing from home for two months.

DDT is getting pushback on his reopening states:

  • 63 percent worry that states will lift restrictions too fast (Monmouth University Poll).
  • 70 percent of adults avoid large gatherings, and 556 percent regularly wear masks in public, including almost half of registered Republicans.  (Reuters-Ipsos poll last week)
  • Only 16 percent said they would be comfortable going to a restaurant or bar, and only 10 percent would be comfortable at public events or large gatherings. Only 32 percent said they would definitely or probably go to church services if restrictions were lifted. (Navigator Research poll in late April)
  • 43.9 percent approve of DDT’s handling the crisis; 52.3 percent disapprove. (RealClearPolitics average of polls)
  • 42 percent approve of the job DDT is doing, down 6 points from mid-April (Reuters-Ipsos poll last week). Monmouth has the same 42 percent, down 8 points from March, and only one-third said that DDT’s advice was helpful with 42 percent saying it was harmful.

And more polls. Other polls disapproving of DDT’s handling the virus.

Most people in the U.S. aren’t comfortable with opening the businesses with so many infections and deaths. The majorities are in both parties, for example, 59 percent of Republicans don’t want sit-down restaurants opening. Over 80 percent think that movie theaters should not open.

On May 9: United States – COVID-19 confirmed cases, 1,347,309; deaths, 80,037

                  World – COVID-19 confirmed cases, 4,100,788; deaths, 280,432


May 6, 2020

If Only COVID-19 Could Talk

Imagine if the novel coronavirus could talk. That’s what Christian Schneider did in this piece: “The Novel Coronavirus Praises the Plan to Reopen America.” He wrote:

“The following is a transcript of a press conference given by the coronavirus earlier this week.” [Right: Collage by Hannah Yoest / photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock]


Thank you all for joining me today. I just wanted to tell you all what a great year it’s been and what a huge success I am. When people were downplaying my importance back in February, I worried about making a splash in the greatest economy on Earth, but I never had any doubt it would be big.

In spite of those who ignored me, I’ve literally grown from zero to a million cases in two months – I’ve basically gone platinum.

And people can’t get enough of me! Now Americans are cramming into state capitols, shopping malls, and public parks to lobby on my behalf! Some people are actually bringing guns to protect their right to pass me around from person to person. A literal armed militia has risen to defend me!

And I’ve been able to achieve all this with 95 percent of the media against me. Seriously – how many pro-COVID-19 stories do you see? Nobody has been treated this unfairly since the Spanish Flu.

The fake news media aren’t giving me nearly enough credit. Even your president, Donald Trump, called me a “very brilliant enemy” and said I was a “genius!” Sure, I’m microscopic, but I have a very big brain. 

Just think of all the wonderful things that have come about since I showed up. People are baking bread and sewing masks and playing Monopoly and talking to their children. Nature is healing!

And just look at the ratings I’m getting! I’m not saying this, but I’ve heard other people say, that the press conferences the president is holding rival those of the Bachelor finale and Monday Night Football!

And just think of all the things I haven’t done. I haven’t suggested people drink bleach (I don’t even have a brain and that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard), and I haven’t Tweeted well wishes to Kim Jong Un. That guy’s an asshole.

Anyway, it’s clear the people want more of me. Some of the president’s favorite supporters have tweeted that the states’ stay-at-home orders are like “slavery” and that they’d refuse to take any vaccine once it’s developed. In the meantime,  I can get millions of dollars’ worth of free public relations. Name someone else born from a medium-rare bat that could achieve that!

See, Americans love an underdog – I’m like the nerdy kid that catches the game-winning touchdown in that Charlie Sheen movie Lucas from the ‘80s. (Shout out to Charlie Sheen – a big supporter of the anti-vax community.)

What can I say – I agree with Donald Trump’s optimism that great times are ahead. Re-opening America is more than any infectious disease can ask for. All I ask from America is that you keep manufacturing phony drama between Doctors Birx and Fauci and Trump – getting rid of the experts will be the viral equivalent of sending me out on tour.

In closing, I would like to thank all the impatient Americans for their support. If anyone ever challenges you on your love of the virus, just compare not being able to eat in a restaurant to Japanese internment camps during World War II,* yell “herd immunity!” and run out of the room.

I have provided a complimentary Clorox smoothie for all of you on your way out.


* In Wisconsin, Rebecca Bradley, a conservative state Supreme Court justice who forced state voters into danger by making them vote in person for the primary, compared Gov. Tony Evers’ order to close business and schools to the U.S. incarceration of Japanese people during World War II. State GOP lawmakers are suing Evers and the state Department of Health Andrea Palm to strike down Evers’ order to protect people from COVID-19. Evers has stated that overturning his order would needlessly put residents’ health and lives at risk. Even with the shelter-at-home order, Wisconsin has had 8,901 confirmed cases and 362 cases.               

The state GOP also sent out a mailer stating that voters can request an absentee ballot for a special election on May 12 on a pre-paid postcard, but the postcard didn’t mention that the applicant must also submit a photo ID. The largely rural district election includes a state senator, school board president, and closely-watched contest for Ho-Chunk Supreme Court justice. The deadline is tomorrow.

Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale epidemiologist, tweeted that the U.S. negligent response to COVID-19 is close to genocide because of the high percentage of deaths among people of color. The government sent body bags to a Native American health center when it requested tests to help them fight the virus.

First, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested improving the economy by killing off older people; now Gov. Greg Abbott said he knows his opening the state will increase the spread of COVID-19. The information was leaked from a private telephone call. Commenters on social media were furious about Abbott’s indifference to his constituents’ lives. exploded with fury at Abbott’s seeming lack of concern for the health of his constituents. One person tweeted:

“When it comes to abortion, Governor Greg Abbott says he’s pro-life. When it comes to actual people, not fetuses, he says he’s willing to kill thousands.”

COVID-19 should be quite happy with its progress in the United States. As of today, May 6, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. is 1,263,183 with 74,807 deaths. Outside New York, the number of cases is rapidly rising while states are caving into the small percentage of protesters who want to open up all the businesses and stop any other mitigation. Meat plants, which Secretary of Agriculture ordered to open, are infecting and killing more people. As of ten days ago, 145 inspectors stayed home from work because of virus illness, and another 130 were under self-quarantine after being exposed to infected people. Three inspectors based out of New York, Chicago, and Mississippi have died from the virus.

In the midst of a huge number of infected cases and deaths, DDT has promised to kill the Affordable Care Act, leaving tens of millions of people without health care.

Congratulations, COVID-19!

May 4, 2020

DDT Wears Mask

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 11:09 PM
Tags: , ,

“Getting great reviews, finally, for how well we are handling the pandemic.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted this self-evaluation about himself this morning. Over the weekend, DDT tweeted conspiracy theories while almost 5,000 people died:

  • MSNBC host Nicole Wallace was thrown off ABC’s The View “like a dog” for saying that Joe Biden was the victim of a smear campaign.
  • George W. Bush, Wallace’s former employer, was wrong for not defending DDT during the impeachment trial after Bush called for political unity during the pandemic.
  • Rapist billionaire Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself (a retweet from QAnon follower and former congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine).

On Monday morning, DDT said that Florida should “open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case” against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, DDT’s former friend, over the 2001 death of one of the employees in then-Rep. Scarborough’s district office. The coroner ruled that Lori Klausutis, 28, had an undiagnosed heart condition causing her to pass out and hit her head when she fell, resulting in a fatal brain clot in her brain.

The government estimates that COVID-19 deaths will rise to over 3,000 a day by June 1 after VP Mike Pence stated that the virus problem will be over by Memorial Day. (DDT’s and Pence’s predictions are always on holidays—Good Friday, May Day, and now this one.) This figure is much higher than DDT’s projections yesterday that the eventual total could be as high as 100,000. Right now, it’s 70,000, an increase of 16,000—30 percent—in nine days. At this rate, the country will hit 100,000 in only 18 days and just keep growing.

DDT also said “the United States has produced dramatically better health outcomes than any other country, with the possible exception of Germany — and I think we’re as good or better.” Germany has only ten percent that the U.S. has and a rate of 83 deaths per million compared to 211 per million in the U.S.

One model indicates that U.S. will have almost 135,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths by August. And that’s if the country complies with extensive testing and tracking contacts, something that won’t happen. Earlier models predicted lower death rates based on the assumption that the entire government would mandate stay-at-home orders and people would work together to follow the requirements. Instead, eight states never incorporated these, some people in the other 42 states ignored them, and at least 30 states are beginning to open up businesses and recreational areas this week. You can track models for countries and states in the U.S. 

Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of DDT’s coronavirus task force, said that “our projections have always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost, and that’s with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.” Many people don’t comply. 

Epidemiologists estimate the death toll is likely much more than DD’s top number of 100,000. One analysis found 20,500 excess deaths for the five weeks from the first of March with another 16,600 in just one week between April and April 11. About the differences, epidemiologist Larry Brilliant tweeted:

“Confirmed and ‘possible’ COVID-19 deaths now exceed 100,000 in the U.S. How? Many U.S. states did not report deaths (even if doctors diagnosed COVID-19) without largely unavailable lab tests. Adding these ‘excess deaths’ underscores how deadly this disease really is.”

The reason for all these deaths? DDT’s incompetence and the GOP lawmakers’ incompetence keeping him in office. How is he killing tens of thousands of people?

Failing to close off Europe early on while taking out his anger on China with a ban for only some people coming from China to the United States. Tens of thousands of people still traveled to the U.S. after the ban; CDC found COVID-19 coming from Europe in early February to mid-March when he finally placed a ban on travel from Europe.

Downplaying the seriousness of the virus to keep the stock market high.

Pressing states to reopen to make his economy look good.

Supporting a lawsuit from a Virginia evangelical church against the governor’s stay-at-home order. AG Bill Barr, the man who has done nothing but abuse power since he got the job, threatens any state that uses too much “authority to stop the spread of COVID-19.” Barr will define “too far” in “exercise of authority.”

Neglecting testing and refusing to share his “stockpile” of medical supplies and equipment.

Always ignoring science and medical evidence for decision-making.

Pressuring people to be loyalists and hiring people who desperately create flawed tests, hide information about the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S., and permit unproven treatments and testing such as the FDA allowing fake or defective antibody tests to flood the U.S. market.

Creating a culture in which people falsely compare COVID-19 with the annual flu. According to ER physician Jeremy Samuel Faust, the annual flu mortality figures from CDC correct undercounting test-confirmed deaths with a mathematical model by including people whose diagnosis met certain clinical and epidemiological criteria. In recent flu seasons, the directly confirmed flu deaths vary from 3,448 to 15,620 deaths, much lower from the CDC estimates which DDT continually quoted. The current death count from COVID-19 are confirmed cases. The chart shows that in a little over two months, over four times the number of people have died from the coronavirus as died in the entire year of the worst flu season—and the U.S. will have at least tens of thousands more deaths. 

DDT has consistently refused to wear any protective gear, but he consistently masks his behavior. During the health crisis, he continues to attack intelligence while demanding that they lie for him to conceal his own agenda and mistakes. Talking to Fox, DDT said that intelligence told him on January 23 “that there could be a virus coming in but it was of no real import.” Intelligence had said the opposite throughout January and February. Intelligence officials who briefed the Senate called the virus “serious,” and WHO declared COVID-19 an international public health emergency on January 30. DDT declared that reports of the virus was a “deep state” plot to bring him down.

The biggest danger from COVID-19 at this time are the meat plants around the nation. Employees are crowded together with no protective gear and then go home to their families and out into the communities. With no benefits, they are forced to work, even if they feel sick, and the meat plants provide almost no testing. With poor wages, they crowd together at home: 45.1 percent of them are considered low-income.  

Public officials are horrified at the multiplication of virus cases in the places producing the greatest number of cases the virus except for prisons and nursing homes. CDC reports 20 deaths and 6,500 infected employees at 115 meat and poultry plants in 23 states.  In Iowa and South Dakota meat plants, up to 18 percent of workers in meat and poultry plants are infected with the coronavirus, and workers in the Pennsylvania and Nebraska industry account for 25 percent of the cases nationwide. The Smithfield Food slaughter plant in Sioux Falls (SD) is tied to 853 infections among 3,100 workers. CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provide “guidance” without serious intent to provide safety for workers.

DDT made what he hoped was great press for him by using the Defense Production Act to keep all meat plants open no matter how much his action would increase the COVID-19 infections and deaths. Yet his mandate didn’t require this happen. The order explained that “it is important” that meat plants stay open before ordering:

“The Secretary of Agriculture shall take all appropriate action under that section to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations consistent with the guidance for their operations jointly issued by the CDC and OSHA.”

In other words, he thought he looked strong and decisive but can still waffle out of any personal difficulty if the publicity gets bad for him. His motto—always blame someone else.

DDT has also pushed Mexico to keep factories supplying the U.S. open despite their infections and deaths. Without testing, no one knows the extent, but anecdotal evidence indicates employers falling sick on the floor and some of them dying. A letter sent to the government stated that the U.S. wanted factories kept open for the U.S. supply chain—TVs for “communication,” grates for air flow in hospitals, Sharpie and Papermate for doctors and nurses, etc.  

DDT’s biggest problem is whether to lose voters by reopening states for economic reasons or lose voters by protecting people from infection and death. Voters over 65 believes in stopping the spread of COVID-19 by 6 to 1. Their support for DDT has dropped 20 points and become lower than any other age group except the youngest age group. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t care about killing them. His strategy to open the country—and kill people—in an attempt to help his re-election: Remove income support so that people must return to work despite danger; hide facts by not testing and concealing the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths; pretend he’s supporting freedom by supporting white supremacist protests; protect businesses against lawsuits. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) summarized DDT’s strategy: Delay, Denial, Death.

On May 4, the U.S. has 1,212,900 confirmed COVID-19 cases, almost one-third in the world, and 69,921 deaths, over one-fourth of those in the world, as well as countless others who weren’t tested. World wide, confirmed cases are 3,646,341 and 252,425 deaths.


May 1, 2020

DDT Does Nothing about COVID-19, Brags about It

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 9:21 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The first 100 disastrous days of do-nothing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his non-response to COVID-19. A must read!

At her first formal press briefing today, Kayleigh McEnany’s biggest news was that she wouldn’t lie to journalists. Mostly she stuck to spin, misrepresentations, and (possibly) ignorance of the facts, but 15 minutes after her claim, she lied, calling the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh in his Senate confirmation for Supreme Court hearings “verifiably false.” The last White House press briefing was one year, one month, and three weeks ago.

DDT has declared himself a success regarding the virus, claiming that he had saved hundreds of thousands of lives through “aggressive response.” Last week, he considered fewer than 60,000 deaths a success. When the number went above 60,000, he switched to a success of under 100,000 deaths. If the U.S. continues its daily average of 2,000 or more deaths, DDT will be forced to again change his goalposts in under three weeks. DDT said:

“The testing and the masks and all of the things, we solved every problem. We solved it quickly. It’s been really spectacular. So, yeah, I don’t think anybody has done a better job with testing, with ventilator, with all of the things that we’ve done. And death totals, our numbers per million people are really very, very strong. We’re very proud of the job we’ve done.”

DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner joined him in crowing about the “success” of COVID-19 on the day that the economy contracted (aka dropped) by 4.8 percent in the first quarter with much worse results predicted for the second. May 1, the confirmed cases are 1,131,452 and deaths, 65,776. A prediction of deaths two days ago was 73,000, a total possibly reached in the first week of May. Kushner said on Fox & Friends:

“The federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story. And I think that that’s really, you know, what needs to be told.”

The White House Gift Shop is selling commemorative coin for only $125 to demonstrate DDT’s only “success” during his first term. Another coin in the collection has DDT’s face. Advertising states the coin “symbolizes the genius level thinking & proven successes of President Donald J. Trump.” DDT’s campaign also plans to advertise COVID-19 with a red face mask

Afraid of what Dr. Anthony Fauci knows, DDT is blocking him from testifying before an Appropriations Committee about the administration’s response to the pandemic now. Maybe another time.

The federal government believes that the death rate will continue to be “really very, very strong”: it has ordered over 100,000 more body bags—the biggest order on April 21, the day after DDT said the COVID-19 death toll might not be over 50,000 or 60,000 people. At the same time, FEMA opened bidding for 200 rented 53-feet refrigerated trailers throughout the country. Each one would be 3,600 cubic feet; a human body is 1.76 cubic feet. Although Republicans follow DDT’s lead in saying that COVID-19 is no worse than the annual flu, the U.S. doesn’t normally have bodies lying around in U-Haul trucks; rent large numbers of refrigerated truck trailers; and order hundreds of thousands of body bags in a few months for one disease. 

A requirement for opening up businesses and states is extensive testing. Contravening DDT’s claim that “testing is not going to be a problem at all,” FEMA and HHS listed these problems:

“Limited number of diagnostic supplies. Limited capacity of test facilities. Limited trained response personnel to administer the tests. Unknown epidemiological information regarding COVID-19. Access to testing sites by underserved areas and at-risk populations. Effective vaccines and therapeutics will not be available in sufficient quantities to meet the need. PPE is required by [medical countermeasures] developers and manufacturers.”

Tuesday, DDT said that the U.S. can carry out 5 million tests a day, but Brett Giroir, the federal testing official, said current technology doesn’t allow that number. In the U.S., a total of five million people have been tested since March 21—40 days. When the Senate returns to Washington, D.C. in a couple of days, there aren’t enough tests for those 100 people.

DDT refuses to tell where his administration sends supplies for the COVID-19 response and permits six multi-billion medical supply companies receiving taxpayer money to block the data. Also secret is information about financial terms with these companies that reported over $2 billion in profits last year. The White House has also ordered all resource request forms from state, local, and private-sector officials to be routed though the White House.

Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

The federal government is still stealing supplies ordered by state and local governments, but in one case it failed. DDT was furious with Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan who finalized a purchase of 500,000 test kits from South Korea because DDT believes that all COVID-19 belong to him. Yumi Hogan, the governor’s wife who was born in South Korea, used her native language to negotiate the sale of the kits to Maryland. The Hogans and members of the state National Guard met the chartered 777 Korean Air flight at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to take the kits and lock them up in an undisclosed place where the Guard is still watching over them. Larry Hogan said: 

“The administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead, …, and that’s exactly what we did.”

The federal government succeeded in hijacking one million N95 masks for firefighters in a Florida program to test people in their homes if they cannot get to drive-through testing. The company told them that the federal government took them, according to Frank Rollason, director of Emergency Management for Miami-Dade County. FEMA denied that they had seized any PPE from hospitals, states, or local governments but then said they seize the supplies “from individual bad actors and businesses hoarding PPE.” Yes, and from governments.

While DDT constantly denies that hospitals have any supplies shortages, Richard Stone, in charge of the VA healthcare, admitted that the country’s largest health-care system has a serious shortage because masks and other supplies were diverted to what Jared Kushner calls “our stockpile.” FEMA ordered vendors to send the masks to them instead of the VA. After VA Secretary Robert Wilkie begged, FEMA gave VA ten percent of their order so that employees working with COVID-19 could have more than one mask a day.

ProPublica has an in-depth piece on VA’s effort to find six million N95 respirators, the dissolving of a $34.5 million deal to get them to the VA hospitals, and the deaths of 20 VA staff from COVID-19 without the masks. The company given the procurement contract was inexperienced, and the VA agreed to a 350 percent markup for the costs of the masks. This contract wasn’t an isolated instance: DDT’s administration has paid $5.1 billion in no-bid contracts for COVID-19 supplies. Yet the VA has awarded most large contracts to little-known vendors for orders in which local, state, and federal agencies bid against each other. The end of the exposé:

“On the up side, the VA paid no money to [the company promising to procure masks for the VA] …

“As of [April 29], more than 2,200 VA employees had tested positive for COVID-19.”

New York wasn’t as fortunate. Based on advice from the White House coronavirus task force, the state paid an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley, Yaron Oren-Pines, $69 million for ventilators but never received them. Oren-Pines had tweeted the task force he could make the ventilators for $47,656 apiece—at least three times the going price for ventilators.

DDT blamed Sweden’s large mortality rate for no “lock-down. Late last month, he called on states to “liberate” its resident by lifting shelter-in-place and said he would not continue that recommendation in the U.S.

According to DDT, however, the people who go to Michigan to force their way into the capital with assault rifles and without masks, who violate the social distancing policy and scream at law enforcement, are “very good people.” As satirist Andy Borowitz wrote In “Michigan Governor Arrogantly Forcing Residents to Remain Alive,” satirist Andy Borowitz wrote:

“In a blistering takedown, Attorney General William Barr said the governor was ‘depriving Michiganders of their constitutionally enshrined right to die before their time.’”

The protests came the day after a Michigan court ruled that stay-at-home directives do not violate residents’ constitutional rights. In Kentucky, COVID-19 cases spiked after a week of protests.

 It’s Election Year, and DDT’s blame game goes on while he does nothing to contain the coronavirus.

DDT also declares he will retaliate against China for deliberately creating COVID-19 in a lab, something that U.S. intelligence agencies said did not happen after an investigation. Nevertheless, DDT believes the conspiracy theory and sent his agents to find “proof.” Under DDT’s orders, U.S. officials are exploring demands of financial compensation from China or considering not paying back debts to them. DDT also considers stripping China of “sovereign immunity” so that the U.S. government and virus victims can sue China, an action that might be illegal or require congressional approval. This threat came after DDT’s accusation that President Obama was responsible for “broken tests” for a virus that wasn’t discovered three years after DDT was elected.

DDT wants to go to Arizona this coming week. No doubt he’ll be back to rallying.

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.]

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