“Covid-19 is now killing about as many people each day in FL as it is in the whole EU, which has 20 times as many people.”
— Paul Krugman, New York Times (7/15/20)
By Dan Peak
Commoner Call (7/15/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
One hundred thirty-two people died in Florida from the coronavirus in a single day, on July 14. On the same day, California was 141, Texas 136, Arizona 91. For California and Florida these were new records; Arizona was the second highest day, Texas the third.
But there is always coronavirus push back, a voice saying it’s a ‘hoax’, ‘people aren’t dying’, ‘doctors are lying’, ‘masks don’t work’. The facts are that the US has 140,000 deaths to date and three of the last eight days have been just shy of 1,000 deaths per day (957, 948, 954)- – deaths are increasing following an increase in seven-day average for daily new cases to 62,000 per day compared to 52,000 per day only one week ago. The total for the US is now 3.6 million confirmed cases. Florida alone is outstripping the number of new cases compared to the entire European Union with a population twenty times greater.
Why are masks a point of cultural divide? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that if we all wore masks for four to eight weeks we’d bend the curve and bring the spread under control. I witnessed a Florida Facebook discussion where people were more interested in conjuring anti-mask ‘research’ than making the simple gesture of donning a mask. But as of July 15 , even Walmart will require customers to wear masks.
Increasingly I hear people accusing doctors of lying. I am old enough to remember former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (R-WI) divisively making teachers the enemy of the people to break the back of public sector unions; so are doctors now that equivalent? Imagine questioning the integrity of the people who are overwhelmed and at risk as they face a tsunami of cases. Arizona Dr. Quinn Snyder has some feedback for you as he suggests letting doctors explain the pandemic instead of the politicians as he offers, “the virus doesn’t care about your feelings…seeing people at restaurants (without masks) feels really hard… is insulting.”
Attacking those who know what to do
What do the politicians do? Trump’s administration is implementing a new method for coronavirus reporting, bypassing the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and feeding data directly to Health and Human Services (HHS) — a database without public access; in other words, just trust Trump to tell you what you need to know. And in typical Trumpian fashion – attacking the science. During a week where the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that US public health infrastructure is in “tatters”, the White House — and especially Trump’s trade policy advisor Peter Navarro — launch a campaign to discredit Fauci. Navarro, who is not a doctor, went as far as authoring an opinion column for USA Today criticizing Fauci. But even Trump’s golfing buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered, “We don’t have a Dr. Fauci problem. We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly.”
The ‘anti’ administration with Navarro competing to become the leading anti-doctor, anti-science voice alongside Sec. of Education anti-public education Betsy DeVos.
The nature of pandemics is by definition researching the unknowns once the virus is first detected. The rush is on to discover as much as possible about how it attacks the body and spreads across the population. In the category of things we’re learning, “Scans Reveal Heart Damage in Over Half of COVID-19 Patients in Study”, we know little about the health impact over time.
We are also seeing a clear pattern for who has been most impacted by the coronavirus. Ninety-five percent of deaths have been persons 65-years or older. But while whites represent 60.1% of the US population, they are only 35% of the deaths, whereas Blacks are 13.4% of the population but 24.9% of the deaths. There is a similar but not as severe skewing for the Hispanic population. Scroll here for Politico’s Patterson Clarke’s graphic to explain US deaths by race and age.
Team Trump flunking the competency test
We can’t have safe school reopenings when testing is not up to par, or — as Fauci observed — it’s falling further behind what is needed. The biggest failure is capacity, but also the delay in test results. What good is testing if you can’t get the results for a week? How do we provide safe reopenings for schools or offices without meeting proper standards for one of the most important tenets? Here’s an opinion piece from former Trump acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney relating his own family experience waiting 5-7 days for test results for his son, while his daughter was denied testing as she didn’t meet the criteria, and advising ‘caution’ with next steps.
Some of the largest school systems in the nation are already pushing back reopening or working towards some flexible or hybrid form of reopenings. Parents are concerned for the well-being of their children. Polls show 71% of the population are concerned, including 53% of Republicans. School systems and parents are not cowed by the Trump non-science belligerence, they want a plan for a safe return.
This after DeVos made the rounds of the Sunday political talk shows and tried to command and happy-talk school reopenings unto being — unconvincingly. Unintentionally she communicated the lack of a plan and simply repeated the administration mantra that children, “need to be back in school”. This week VP Mike Pence offered his oh-so-concerned soft talk version by assuring us that, “we don’t want CDC guidance to be a reason why people don’t reopen their schools”. I’m convinced, these people are not thinking about what they say before they say it.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered an unambiguous summary, “I’ve just had it. We need a Secretary of Education that’s going to work with teachers, states, and districts to develop reopening plans that actually work and are based in science. We need to get rid of Betsy DeVos.”
The US is the world coronavirus failure. We are fed lies, voices of science are attacked, threats and coercion are offered instead of plans and resources. I highly recommend this voice on what we face from Pulitzer prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett on Michael Moore’s “Rumble” podcast.