“Short term, I think it’s fair to say we really have not distinguished ourselves in a positive way by how we responded to the crisis when it was upon us. And the proof of the pudding of that is simply that we have five percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s deaths due to covid-19. And there’s no way to spin that in a positive light.”
— Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) (8/14/20)
“Mr. President, after three and a half years, do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done to the American people?”
— S.V. Dáte, HuffPost’s White House correspondent (8/13/20)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (8/17/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
We are not doing a good job managing the pandemic. We are failed by Donald Trump, by our politicians and our political system, by our unwillingness to collectively do the things that will help; we just want to do what we want to do. We call out children or young adults presuming them to be selfish or a desire for ‘now’. Younger adults should be turning that judgement back on us for our selfishness and unwillingness to be inconvenienced for many things including our failure in managing the pandemic.
S.V. Dáte did us all a favor as he called Trump out during a White House briefing — in front of everyone — for his persistent lies about … everything. Trump clarified the question and then chose not to answer, the entire exchange can be seen here.
The full briefing included Trump assurances that he has the pandemic well in hand; that all is under control. To his credit, Dáte took the extra step of communicating to his peers, “be more concerned about getting lied to as a matter of course — and the American public getting lied to, through us — than about access.”
Writing this from Florida — where I grew up — I especially appreciate his assurance that in his lengthy career he has never witnessed actual criminals or politicians as “aggressively dishonest as these … and that includes a dozen years covering the Florida legislature.”
America’s human sacrifice
Many people are doing the heavy lifting of trying to help us be safe and well fed during this national emergency. Early on, we celebrated ‘essential workers’ like grocery store clerks who were truly on the frontline. That was then: Grocery workers say morale is at an all-time low: ‘They don’t even treat us like humans anymore’
Even sadder, “At least 130 U.S. grocery workers have died, and more than 8,200 have tested positive for covid-19 since late March…” Consider this the next time you witness someone yelling at a clerk over their perceived inconvenience about a simple thing like wearing a mask. Clerks interviewed for the article cite “rude” shoppers and the unknown risks they confront as many increasingly quit.
Consider epidemiologist Michael Osterholm’s latest weekly podcast. Osterholm starts each podcast with a dedication, this time to the medical professionals who are also putting themselves at risk while keeping us safe. Osterholm notes — like the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci — he’s received threats. Osterholm calls for dramatic action, a hard lockdown, predicting a steep pandemic price in the fall if we don’t. Osterholm is realistic and I’m sure he realizes there is little likelihood his call to action will be heeded knowing he’s up against Trump who pinballs between pandemic messages of, ‘under control’, ‘hoax’, and ‘vaccine in October’.
Longhaulers and missing numbers
In the face of five million confirmed cases and 170,000 related deaths we still have friends, family, neighbors that ‘know better’. ‘It’s a flu’, ‘only the high-risk die’… It’s not just ‘persons at risk’, we now have a coronavirus word, longhaulers, for persons of all ages who are dealing with serious symptoms for months, if not for the rest of their lives. The Centers for Disease Control report an increase of cases among children.
I am in Miami and the August 9 front page of the Miami Herald carried an article about a middle-aged healthcare worker at Jackson Memorial Hospital who was one of the first to become ill. Five months later she is still in the hospital and may lose both hands to amputation, her fingers are black, her hands are rotting; she has a 10-year old son. forty-five hundred of the hospital’s 12,500 employees have been tested since March with a 13% positivity rate.
Turning to Texas, a state experiencing a 20% positivity rate, the worst in the nation, we see even Red state governors are confused when Trump limits testing and withholds coronavirus reporting.
“More than one in five Texans who are tested for coronavirus are positive, the worst statewide rate in the country. But the number of people getting tests has plummeted in the last two weeks, which could understate just how widespread the virus really is as schools reopen and hospitalizations and deaths remain near record highs, health care reporter Dan Goldberg writes.
“That’s left Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in a tough spot, forced to make decisions about reopening his state based on incomplete and possibly faulty data. Abbott said today he’s instructed his administration to figure out which numbers can be trusted, why positive tests have doubled this month and what the trends could signal as Labor Day approaches and students start filling classrooms.”
As thousands die and many face lifelong health complications and local and state officials scramble to manage the crisis with lack of federal support and reliable data, Trump has a long list of whiny grievances. Consider these 42 from a recent Fox Business interview. Trump could randomly act on any of these and more. BTW, if you’re a lefty apparently you hate cows; maybe you didn’t know that.
A more helpful list is here, where reporter Emily Oster writing for New York magazine answers many questions from persons trying to assess their personal risk, age-related, health-related, activity-related, and what the road ahead could look like.
One myth many persist in claiming is about the number of coronavirus deaths — it is not overstated In fact, it is seriously undercounted, something that is easy to verify and here is a latest review:
“Nationwide, 211,500 more people have died than usual from March 15 to Aug. 1, according to C.D.C. estimates, which adjust current death records to account for typical reporting lags. That number is 56,000 higher than the official count of coronavirus deaths for that period.”
Citing Florida again, the state has 11,000 ‘excess’ deaths. Early on Florida had a huge increase in deaths by pneumonia. Florida is also reporting a backlog of determination of deaths. Here at home, Wisconsin is reporting 1,047 deaths and an additional 1,500 excess deaths.
There is now proof that airborne transmission plays a significant role in the spread of coronavirus. You may not have known this was subject to ongoing debate, but University of Florida virologist Linsey Marr notes, “It’s unambiguous evidence that there is infectious virus in aerosols.”
Practice basic decency and commonsense
Don’t yell at essential workers, don’t post conspiracy theories, both are irresponsible Many laugh about drinking bleach while many are hurting themselves by drinking bleach. That’s an easy example, the real question should be about our own habits and motivations. Here is a link to a recent Washington Post article that helps with identifying fake pandemic news. You will also find examples of how researchers work and the tools used from Politifact to broader research in the face of overwhelming false claims on social media and it’s certainly not limited to the coronaviurs.
BREAKING NEWS: Malaysia Finds More Infectious Virus Strain Seen In Europe
By Yudith Ho
Bloomberg News (8/16/20)
Malaysia has detected a strain of the new coronavirus that’s been found to be 10 times more infectious.
The mutation, earlier seen in other parts of the world and called D614G, was found in at least three of the 45 cases in a cluster that started from a restaurant owner returning from India and breaching his 14-day home quarantine. The man has since been sentenced to five months in prison and fined. The strain was also found in another cluster involving people returning from the Philippines.
The strain could mean that existing studies on vaccines may be incomplete or ineffective against the mutation, said Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah. …
Inside The COVID-19 ICU Red Zone — Cameras On The Frontlines Against Coronavirus!