Nel's New Day

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.

March 15, 2020

Covid-19: DDT Prays, Concentrates on Businesses While Cases Grow

Evangelical Christians are providing dangerous disinformation about the covid-19 epidemic. On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr, head of Liberty University, accused DDT’s enemies, listing the media as among them, of wrongly giving information about the virus and its spread. He also blamed the disease on totalitarian regimes such as North Korea. (Falwell is also urging western Virginia counties to leave the state and join West Virginia, saving them from Democrats, in a movement called “Vaxit.” Even highly conservative Strom Thurmond used the word “traitorous” for telling a county to secede from a state.) When a parent questioned the wisdom of Falwell keeping the university open during the healthcare crisis, Falwell called him a “dummy.” Jonathan Shuttlesworth, the co-founder of Revival Today TV, called coronavirus prevention measures the work of the devil and said that only “sissies” and “pansies” use hand sanitizer or wash their hands to prevent the virus’ spread.

Having failed to block covid-19 in the U.S., Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has declared today as a day of prayer for all the people afflicted through his ignorance and his desire to minimize problems during his ploy for reelection this fall. Last week, he gave a tone-deaf speech that declared a travel ban from 26 European nations that didn’t have his businesses. By Saturday, he gave in to include the UK and Ireland where numbers of infections and deaths are growing faster than in the U.S.—at this time.

DDT, who has avoided press briefings like the plague, has had three of them in three days. Today’s comments bragged about the prime rate lowered to 0.0 percent, destroying people’s savings, in his attempt to save the stock market for his reelection campaign. He also commented about how his actions result in “more buying than at Christmas,” priding himself on the consumerism. He failed to point out that the buying is done for hoarding because of the extreme fear in the U.S. and that buying will shrink when people use the supplies that they are collecting. He left VP Mike Pence to make a few comments, such as the risk of contacting covid-19 is “extremely low,” and take questions.

DDT’s travel ban, which was corrected to exempt U.S. residents, created a panic among people in Europe with huge crowds by inadequate staffing to process them when they arrived in the U.S. before tonight’s deadline. One person tweeted:  

“Confirmed cases in Illinois more than doubled between Friday and Saturday. Inbound travelers are stuck at O’Hare for six-hour waits.”

Acting DHS director Chad Wolf tweeted that he’s working to “expedite the process” but “the health and safety of the American public is first & foremost.” People exposed to covid-19 in the airport will still be regarded as not infected until later.

Hospital leaders report that DDT’s rolling back some regulations in his “national emergency” declaration won’t help their serious shortage of supplies and risk to workers, especially with a prediction of 1.9 million ICU admissions within the next few months. The U.S. health system has approximately 100,000 ICU beds. This problem could be somewhat alleviated through rental of hotels or other arrangements, but that would require federal funding for hospitals to keep operating. DDT has refused, however, to meet with hospital leaders to discuss their issues while DDT meets with retail and financial CEOs.

Emergency medical providers also lacked guidance; CDC waited almost four weeks after the World Health Organization announced the outbreak in China and over two weeks after confirmation of the first known U.S. case to give the responders guidance. The 20,000 emergency medical service agencies in the U.S. vary greatly in oversight and assets; about one-third of them depend on volunteers. 

Public pressure finally pushed DDT into taking the covid-19 test after he wandered around shaking hands with many people and is known to spend hours with people who have tested positive. DDT said he took the test “because the press is going crazy.” After over two months, the White House has decided to take the temperature of people “in close contact” with DDT and VP Mike Pence.  

DDT attacks CDC, Fed Reserve, President Obama, Joe Biden, and others for the disaster that he created, but his obsession with personal ratings led him to brag that his handling of the health crisis has a “78% Approval Rating, the highest on record.” That number came from an RNC mailing to donors

On Saturday, he bragged about Friday’s stock market having the largest increase in history but didn’t mention that the day before had the biggest drop in 30 years. Friday also had the biggest one-day U.S. increase in new covid-19 cases—almost 500. Without widespread testing in the U.S., the figures show an increase of cases from 89 to 2,131 in only two weeks.

The CDC is woefully behind in tracking statistics about cases and deaths from covid-19 so many people turned to a website from Johns Hopkins University. Russia hackers now use the site to spread password-stealing malware by advertising a digital coronavirus infection kit, and Chinese hackers, known as Vicious Panda, trick people into sharing sensitive personal information with a fake document supposedly from the Mongolian Health Ministry.

Even my favorite website for statistics has indicated it suffered cyber attacks and has taken action to stop these malicious acts. As of early evening, it has indicated 3,752 cases and 68 deaths in the United States. Another, more specific, website was developed by 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior on Mercer Island. His site trails the one above by just a few numbers. He developed his site in late December when fewer than 1,000 cases of covid-19 existed. The website updates about every minute through “web scraping” from the websites that he has entered. To make the information more positive, he also includes the number of people who are recovering. The site has about 35 million viewers with only 60 percent from the U.S.   

Conservative voters claim that they want to elect someone who runs the government like a business. They got DDT. David Atkins wrote:

“At every step of the way, Trump and the conservative media have treated the coronavirus as a PR problem, a political problem, and a business problem. They have tried to downplay the severity of the disease, tell people to continue life like everything is normal, continue flying and going on cruise lines, and boost the markets however possible. Friday’s bizarre press conference was little more than an infomercial for some of the top health-related businesses in the Dow Jones average, with a parade of CEOs talking about their commitment to doing vague somethings about the pandemic right before the closing bell. It worked, at least for now: the Dow surged as a result of the upbeat corporate presentation. For weeks now the administration has slow-played testing under the theory that lower reported numbers would somehow look better and magically change the actual reality on the ground until the problem went away.

“Like so much of modern American business culture, the ethic here is short-sighted and self-serving at best, and cruel, callous, and malevolent at worst. Today’s fast-moving capital markets are explicitly designed to be reactive rather than proactive, and every incentive built into them is to push for growth at all costs. Problems are meant to be pushed to the side and out of sight so the good times can keep rolling at the top; inconvenient costs are externalized and socialized on the backs of workers, the impoverished, and the environment. In the best of times, this dynamic creates massive inequalities and injustices that the market doesn’t notice, because the victims most affected are insignificant to—and go unnoticed by—the invisible hand. In the worst of times, however, it utterly hobbles a society’s ability to respond to crises that require active management before they can be directly felt in the marketplace.”

For decades, Republicans have swept problems under the rug, including the trillions of dollars that George W. Bush’s war cost. At the same time, they push against solutions for the future such as a Green New Deal, universal healthcare or even a pandemic response office. The incompetence became worse with DDT’s insistence on hiring only ignorant loyalists, his refusal to learn, and his pathological lying.

An example of this lying is his false claim that Google has 1,700 engineers quickly working on a website to help people figure out if they need testing and give them information about where to get the test, the “stores” for testing “in virtually every location.” Part of his long spiel was an attack on the Affordable Care Act website. Google said it is NOT building a website, and another company of 400 people is in “early stages of development” of building a covid-19 website nothing like DDT’s description and only for the Bay Area.  

With good reason, 53 percent of U.S. voters worry that someone in their immediate family might catch covid-19, and 60 percent think the worst is yet to come in the U.S. Over 40 percent believe the virus will change their day-to-day lives. Only 30 percent of Republicans, however, plan to avoid gatherings.

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