In order to post while also making it possible for readers to ignore the pandemic while they are on this site.
9 July 2020, from The Atlantic, an article about why death rates are still lower than increasing diagnoses seem to predict (hint: it’s mostly lag time between infection and death, younger patients, and better treatment). “After all the graphs, statistics, science, and interpretations, we’re left with a simple fact: Hundreds of Americans are dying every day of a disease that is infecting several hundred thousand of them every week. If that’s success, let’s pray we never see failure.”
and from yesterday’s The Guardian: Covid-19 patients show more serious brain complications as described in a study by UK doctors. “A dozen patients had inflammation of the central nervous system, 10 had brain disease with delirium or psychosis, eight had strokes and a further eight had peripheral nerve problems, mostly diagnosed as Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune reaction that attacks the nerves and causes paralysis. It is fatal in 5% of cases.”
“ ‘We’re seeing things in the way Covid-19 affects the brain that we haven’t seen before with other viruses,’ said Michael Zandi, a senior author on the study and a consultant at the institute and University College London Hospitals NHS foundation trust.”
And finally this: “With tears in his eyes, the director of the World Health Organization pleaded Thursday for international unity to fight the pandemic, after President Trump announced his intention to quit the organization. “How difficult is it for humans to unite to fight a common enemy that’s killing people indiscriminately?” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked. “Can’t we understand that the divisions or the cracks between us actually are to the advantage of the virus?”
7 July 2020. from TheWaPost: ” ‘Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that about 45 percent of patients with underlying conditions were hospitalized, compared with 7.6 percent of those who did not have significant preexisting conditions,’ my colleague Lena H. Sun reported. ‘Deaths were 12 times as high among patients with these underlying conditions (19.5 percent) compared with those without reported conditions (1.6 percent).’ ” Older, overweight, living with chronic illness? About 1 in 5 chance of dying. Younger and in perfect health? About 1-2 in 100 chance of dying.
In order to develop a more real-world understanding of risk, I always used to think in real life terms. I applied statistics to the number of students in my classroom (30) and the total number of students I saw in a day (120—though in some terrible years there were over 200) or the total number of adults and teenagers in my small rural high school (520). In perfect health
If they were in perfect health that would mean two of the students I saw each day in my classroom would die (2/120), and at least eight or nine of the people in my school (9/520). Not all the students and adults at my school were in perfect health.
There is also growing evidence that dying is not the only risk associated with covid-19. There is often prolonged damage to health . . . and shortened life expectancy. And why is everyone just now talking about airborne infection? Surely that was obvious from the beginning? Why else advise masking? How else to explain the well-documented cases spread in restaurants and choir practice that we have known about for months?
3 July 2020, from TheWaPost: “A strawberry daiquiri now, or school in the fall. A sun-soaked holiday weekend, or the college football season.
“Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor, defined the decision this way in a recent appearance on Fox News: ‘Do you want to open the bars now, or do you want to open the schools and the day-care centers in a few short weeks? I vote for the latter.’
“In Georgia, Kemp threatened to take away college football, saying this year’s season would be a ‘tall task’ if the state’s numbers kept rising.
“South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) invoked the favorite pastime as an incentive. ‘Let me make it very clear,’ he tweeted Wednesday. ‘Wear a mask and social distance now so we can enjoy high school and college football in South Carolina this fall.’
” ‘We’ve all been looking at these charts of Europe and the U.S.,’ said David O’Sullivan, a former Irish civil servant who served as ambassador from the European Union to the United States from 2014 to 2019. ‘At one point, we were more or less at the same point on the graph, but then we’ve gone down and down, even with opening back up, and in the U.S., the numbers are soaring.’ ”
2 July 2020, from TNYT: Growing calls for schools to reopen. “ ‘Widespread school closures come with devastating costs,’ Joseph G. Allen of Harvard University wrote in The Washington Post, citing risks to learning, children’s health and parents’ ability to work. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a similar warning this week. In a new Times piece, Deb Perelman writes: ‘Let me say the quiet part loud. In the Covid-19 economy, you’re allowed only a kid or a job.’ ”
“One way to offset the health risks is to delay the reopening of other industries. ‘If we truly want to prioritize schools opening and staying open, some other parts of our society might just have to wait,’ Helen Jenkins, a Boston University epidemiologist, tweeted. Or as Jennifer Nuzzo and Joshua Sharfstein put it in a Times Op-Ed, the country should focus on opening schools, not bars.”
also, “Gilead just announced that it will charge privately insured Americans more than $3,000 each for a five-day COVID-19 treatment [remdesivir] that was developed with financial support from the government. That’s a $3,000 price tag for a government-sponsored drug treatment that experts say the company could offer at $10 and still make a profit. . . . [a] price . . . significantly higher than the one charged to customers in other countries, whose governments — unlike Medicare — are permitted to negotiate lower prices for all of their residents.”
30 June 2020, from NPR: “Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., urged people to take CDC guidelines to wear a face covering seriously and lamented the politicization of mask-wearing.
” ‘Unfortunately, this simple life-saving practice has become part of the political debate that says if you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask, if you’re against Trump, you do,’ Alexander said. ‘That’s why I’ve suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, even though in most cases it’s not necessary for him to do so. The president has plenty of admirers. They would follow his lead.’
” ‘There’s no doubt that wearing masks protects you,’ Dr. Fauci said. ‘Anything that furthers the use of masks, whether it’s giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.’ ”
27 June 2020, from NPR: “Citing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, a federal judge has ordered that all children currently held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17.
“U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California issued the scathing order Friday afternoon, saying the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic.
“She described the ICE-operated facilities as being ‘on fire,’ adding that ‘there is no more time for half measures.’ . . .
“The order essentially forces ICE to adhere to existing laws established in the Flores agreement, which limits how long minors can be held in ICE custody.”
26 June 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson:
“Today the United States registered 44,702 new coronavirus cases, a single-day record. Six states– Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and Utah– also set new single-day highs. In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, officials in Florida and Texas, where governors have been aggressive about reopening, have both reversed course, announcing that bars must close immediately.
“Incredibly, that’s not the day’s biggest story.
“This evening, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both broke extraordinary news. Months ago, American intelligence officials concluded that during peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence group offered to Taliban-linked fighters bounties for killing American troops. They paid up, too, although it is unclear which of the twenty U.S. deaths happened under the deal.
“The military intelligence unit officials judge to be behind this program, the G.R.U., is the same one that is engaged in a so-called ‘hybrid war’ against America and other western countries, destabilizing them through disinformation, cyberattacks, and covert military operations and assassinations. Urging deadly attacks on American and other NATO troops is a significant escalation of that hostility. New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz tweeted ‘it’s hard to overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia. Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing. Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something entirely new.’ ”
25 June 2020: Early in May, Treasury announced that checks sent to dead people should be returned, but did not release the number of payments and took no steps to ensure it is returned. (The IRS had access to Social Security info about dead people, but Treasury did not access that filter.) Today it was revealed that Treasury “sent coronavirus stimulus payments to almost 1.1 million dead people totaling nearly $1.4 billion, Congress’ independent watchdog reported Thursday.”
Yeah, oversight. What a concept.
PS It is interesting to review the previous and recent public history of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is no better than you might expect.
This is just too depressing:
Donald J. Trump
“Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!”
He claimed just the other day that he was joking about this. Fauci said he was never asked to slow down testing, so maybe that part of it was a joke.
20 June 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson:
During his speech in Tulsa on the first day of summer, Trump “told the audience falsely that the recent spikes in infections are because there has been more testing: ‘When you do more testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases. I said to my people, “Slow the testing down, please.” ‘
“This is an astonishing admission. More than 120,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 so far, and while in some states hard hit early on numbers of cases are declining, cases are right now spiking in a number of other states in far higher numbers than increased testing would show. Experts agree that the administration’s odd reluctance to test for coronavirus cost American lives.”
15 June 2020, from The Washington Post:
“Some governors are threatening to shut their states back down as covid-19 cases and hospitalizations climb. . . . In Arizona and Florida, restaurants are re-closing to indoor dining after employees have tested positive.
“The increase in cases is not necessarily because of increased testing. In some places, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise even as testing rates fall. In six states, the seven-day average of new cases has increased since May 31 while the average number of daily tests being conducted has declined. In 14 others, the rate of new cases is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests. There are many warning signs in the data that the U.S. is entering a resurgence of the pandemic after states lifted restrictions.
“The Food and Drug Administration has revoked the emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of covid-19, after numerous studies led the agency to conclude that it “is no longer reasonable to believe” they are effective.”
and a journaling writer on the Brevity Blog wrote “Friday May 8, 2020. Day #? I don’t care what day it is. Wildly contradictory messages emerge from different sources; no consensus and no leadership. Today it seems entirely plausible that our president is trying to kill us.”
8 June 2020, from The Atlantic:
One question, answered: Coronavirus cases are up in Arizona, California, and other states. Is it just because we’re testing more? Robinson Meyer, who helped build the COVID Tracking Project explains:
“No, unfortunately. The evidence suggests that those states truly are deteriorating—and that the pandemic may be intensifying in the Sunbelt and the West more generally. We know this, first, by looking at cases and hospitalizations together. If cases are rising simply because the health-care system is testing more people, we’d expect most of the newly diagnosed people to have relatively mild infections, because someone with a more serious illness would have likely gone to a hospital in May. If cases are rising and more people are going to the hospital with COVID-19, we’d expect that more people are getting seriously sick. And in Arizona, alas, cases and hospitalizations are both at all-time highs. Cases and hospitalizations are also rising in Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
“Second, we can ask a question of the data: How many people do you need to test to find a positive case? This metric—the number of tests per positive result—was first proposed by Tong Wang, a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. In Arizona, through most of May, about one in 16 coronavirus tests came back positive. Today, Arizona is testing more people, but about 1 in 10 tests is coming back positive. This is also true across the South, the Southwest, and the West: Finding a positive coronavirus case is easier than it used to be.
“These two signs make us worry that the pandemic is about to get worse in some parts of the U.S.”
7 June 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson:
“The protests that were sparked by Mr. Floyd’s murder are about more than Mr. Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, killed in a botched police raid as she slept in her own bed, or the many other African Americans murdered by police. They are an outpouring of outrage against a government that privileges a few at the expense of the many. But while that outrage is clearly deep and powerful, it has yet to change the government itself. The November elections are five months away. What happens between now and then will determine whether the past two weeks are remembered as the breaking point that turned the course of American history.”
and from The Washington Post:
“In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) joined a civil rights march Thursday while wearing a facial covering. More than 1,200 medical professionals have signed an open letter, drafted by doctors and researchers at the University of Washington and posted online, stating that the importance of protests outweighs the risks of massive gatherings.
“ ‘Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported,’ the letter states, adding that demonstrators should still follow ‘public health best practices’ such as social distancing and wearing masks.”
4 June 2020, from The Atlantic:
“Our science writer Ed Yong explains:
“I wrote about COVID-19 long-haulers—the thousands of people who’ve been struggling with months of debilitating symptoms. Most of them haven’t been hospitalized, so their cases technically count as “mild.” But their lives have nonetheless been flattened by rolling waves of symptoms, including weeks of fever, delirium, and crushing fatigue. Many have faced disbelief from friends and medical professionals because they don’t fit the typical profile of the disease. Many have doubted themselves, been gaslit and dismissed, been told that it’s all in their heads. But they are a crucial and overlooked part of the pandemic narrative.
2 June 2020, from the news:
“I took six rubber bullets, but do you know what didn’t happen to me?” Elizabeth Ferris, a 36-year-old Georgetown University student, told The Washington Post. “No one kneeled on my neck.”
Ashley Gary of Minneapolis said: “We’ve been through Jamar Clark, we’ve been through Philando Castile, and there was no justice whatsoever. We’re tired of it, we are very tired. My son, he’s 16 and six feet tall, and I don’t want him to be taken as somebody bad because he’s a bigger black man.”
“I came out peacefully to show my support, and the police are aiming right at me,” Mariana Solaris, a 20-year-old from San Bernardino, Calif., told The Los Angeles Times, after the police fired foam pellets at her. “I saw this on the news earlier tonight,” she said, “and I thought, ‘No way is it really like that out there with the police.’ So I came out to see. And, yeah, it’s really like that.”
“We seem to have forgotten that governments and police forces are there to serve the people NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.”
from Heather Cox Richardson: Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania tweeted: “I want to be super clear about what happened tonight in Washington: The President of the United States deployed tear-gas, rubber bullets and military personnel on peaceful protesters so that he could cross the street for a photo op. There is no excuse.” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon straight up said “the fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens. I fear for our country tonight and will not stop defending America against Trump’s assault.”
30 May 2020—What we seem to know so far: Isolation of those sick, testing and tracing of contacts, and isolation of those contacts will stop the spread. The strategy works and without it, the disease will spread to everyone. Animals can be infected by humans (a tiger in a zoo, pet dogs etc.) and humans can be infected by animals (on a mink farm in the Netherlands). People can pass on the disease even when asymptomatic and while testing shows them as clear of th disease. Many people never seem to get sick while being infectious and developing antibodies to the disease. Despite death rates in the US averaging 5% and up to 12% in some first world nations, the death rate is likely around 1% (a reminder that influenza kills no more than 0.1% snd we can vaccinate against influenza). Covid-19 does more than make people sick the way influenza does, with long-lasting and sometimes permanent damage to other organs and the nervous system.
It is not going away.
23 May 2020. I took today off from reading the news, but could not resist this WP headline and kicker: “N.D. governor makes emotional plea to anti-mask crowd: Stop this senseless culture war.”
On NPR: ” ‘If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,’ North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, said in an emotional statement Friday. His voice started to break and he started to tear up, as he continued, ‘They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life, who currently have COVID and they’re fighting.’ ”
22 May 2020: the highly respected Lancet reported today a study reviewing treatment of 96,000 covid-19 patients. They found among “those given hydroxychloroquine, there was a 34 percent increase in risk of mortality and a 137 percent increased risk of a serious heart arrhythmias. For those receiving hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic — the cocktail endorsed by Trump — there was a 45 percent increased risk of death and a 411 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.” (I know what you’re thinking and will not write it here.)
“The CDC estimates more than a third of coronavirus patients don’t have any symptoms at all, and 40% of virus transmission happens before people feel sick.” Republicans are less likely to wear masks or take other precautions and are more likely to advocate early opening of businesses. That person arguing about wearing a mask in Costco? Likely Trump supporter.
20 May 2020, from The New York Times:
“Much of the rest of the world — including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and South Korea — has followed one strategy on coronavirus stimulus. Governments have temporarily paid the salaries of workers in order to prevent millions of layoffs.
“The United States has taken a different path. It created a complicated mix of different stimulus policies, including loans to businesses and checks for families. This approach doesn’t appear to be working: The U.S. has had a sharper rise in unemployment than other countries. Many jobless Americans have also lost their health insurance — in the midst of a pandemic.
“Now Congress may be on the verge of changing its approach.”
18 May 2020, from The New York Times, scientists caution about covid statistics:
“With more parts of the U.S. starting to reopen, many people will be tempted to look at the data this week and start proclaiming victory over the virus. But this week’s data won’t tell us much. It will instead reflect the reality from early May and late April, when much of the country was still on lockdown.
” ‘The data are always two or three weeks old,’ Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania told me. ‘And we have a hard time understanding that things are different from what we’re looking at.’ Crystal Watson of Johns Hopkins University told The Associated Press that we wouldn’t really know how reopening had affected the virus’s spread for five to six weeks.
“It’s possible that the reopenings won’t cause the outbreaks that many epidemiologists fear — because many people will still stay home, or because they will venture out cautiously, or because the virus may spread more slowly in warmer air. But it’s also possible that the country will find itself suffering through a new wave of outbreaks in June.
“Either way, I’d encourage you not to leap to premature conclusions.”
The Washington Post offers an interesting free-to-the-public article demonstrating how modelers figure out how many will get sick, how many will be hospitalized, and when it’s safe to reopen after a pandemic or an imaginary disease they call Simulatis. Click and learn.
16 May 2020, from NPR: “It’s not just the clusters of gun-toting protesters at state capitols. In sporadic incidents across the country, disputes over emergency measures have turned into shootings, fistfights and beatings. Stories abound of intimidation over masking. And armed right-wing groups have threatened contact tracers and people who they say “snitch” on neighbors and businesses violating health orders.
“Researchers who study the links between polarization and violence stress that these incidents are still rare and extreme reactions; polls show that the majority of Americans support and are abiding by distancing measures. But there are fears that the pandemic — especially landing in an election year — has the potential to inflame divisions to dangerous levels if left unchecked.”
14 May 2020, from The New York Times: “The Republican attorney general in Texas moved to stop five urban counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The state election code, he said, ‘does not permit an otherwise healthy person to vote by mail merely because going to the polls carries some risk to public health.‘ ” So it’s “merely” dying that is the problem. I don’t know, change the law?
- And on a related subject from The Washington Post: “Trump’s company has received at least $970,000 from U.S. taxpayers for room rentals. Taxpayers have paid for more than 1,600 nightly room rentals at Trump properties, including 530 nights at the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
- from The Hill: “President Trump on Thursday suggested the practice of widespread coronavirus testing may be “overrated,” even as health experts insist it is critical to safely loosen restrictions and reopen businesses.”
- from National Public Radio: ” ‘FDA Cautions About Accuracy Of Widely Used Abbott Coronavirus Test’ The test has been promoted by the Trump administration as a key factor in controlling the epidemic in the U.S. and is used for the daily testing at the White House.”
- from The Guardian: “US President Donald Trump saying that he could ‘cut off’ the relationship with China following the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview wth Fox Business, Trump expressed his disappointment with China for failing to contain the Covid-19 outbreak before adding he maintained a good relationship with leader, Xi Jinping, but ‘right now, I don’t want to speak with him’ “
- from DW (Germany): “Coronavirus latest: Death toll surpasses 300,000
Nearly 4.5 million COVID-19 infections have been confirmed worldwide, while the number of fatalities reached another grim milestone.”
- and better news from New Zealand, though they are very worried about that one new case: “New Zealand has one new case of Covid-19 today – a patient linked to the Marist College cluster and who had previously tested negative. This means New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable cases is now 1498 – of which 1148 are confirmed. There are now just 56 active cases across the country. Today’s confirmed case is linked to the Marist College cluster in Auckland and was identified through recent follow-up testing of the school community, the ministry said.”
13 May 2020, from CNN: “President Trump says he hopes the effort will produce up to 300 million vaccine doses by January, but experts have warned meeting such a benchmark could be much further away. Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a vaccine would likely not be ready for students returning to school in the fall. Trump said that response was ‘not an acceptable answer.’ ” Notice anything off about planning for vaccines by January 2021 and also expecting this to help students returning to school in September 2020?
11 May 2020, from “80,000 Americans have died. Trump is still engaged in magical thinking” by Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post:
“This is the part of the horror movie when we realize that the phone call from the psychotic killer is coming from inside the house — and yet those being stalked convince themselves that somehow, things will work out just fine.” Two people in the West Wing have covid (plus members of the Secret Service and top military who attend meetings).
9 May 2020, from The Guardian:
“The US has blocked a vote on a UN security council resolution calling for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic, because the Trump administration objected to an indirect reference to the World Health Organization.”
8 May 2020 [VE Day]
from The Atlantic:
“Years of low wages and ideological efforts to gut social welfare programs left the American workforce especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic damage. ‘A Federal Reserve report last year … warned that nearly 40 percent of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 for an emergency,’ our business desk reported. ‘The emergency has now hit, and millions of people are lining up at food banks, pleading for help on social media and going to work in the midst of a pandemic because they need the money.’ The story is based on interviews with a single mom trying to sell her house after being furloughed from her job at a spa, and other Americans slipping toward poverty.
“As the coronavirus continues its steady spread across the country — 1.27 million infections and more than 76,000 deaths as of Friday afternoon — President Trump is encouraging Americans to leave quarantine and ‘be warriors’ against a disease that has no cure and can spread invisibly without symptoms.
“Trump’s quest to unfreeze the economy has in recent days includedpraising a woman who was jailed for operating her Dallas salon against stay-at-home rules; dismissing calls to increase viral monitoring because, he said, ‘by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad’; and suppressing information about the pandemic’s severity as he tries to convince a frightened public to go back outside, back to business, back to work.”
[ The bolding above is not mine. Easy for him to say—everyone around the man is tested daily.]
5 May 2020
Polls indicates that most Americans oppose opening “back to normal” a this time.
KNEADING BREAD WHILE DYINGNot a loaf from antiquity forwardhas ever been formed by handsthat were not dying—it’s notthat I’ve forgotten that, but hereI refer to the special quality imbuedto the feel of the yeast springing aliveunder your palms when the breadmakingis an attempt to distract yourselffrom the Covid symptoms thatthat have flared, and receded, flaredand receded within you now for weeks.At 3 a.m., pacing, jittery, bellowingyour lungs in deep five-second breaths,you find yourself pondering whata life means, living, what isthe import of new morningswhen the darkness surrounds youelementally as oxygen?Remember that time on the plane,the pilot preparing you foremergency landing, twentyminutes until we are “on the ground,”see you on the groundthe pilot said and you curled intoyourself, folded into stasis, unableto imagine what could one ever doequal to the last twenty minutes of your life,a question you knew even then had no answer.And now, the window of time leftless definite, you fill the hours:walk out into the cold springto breathe the chill air and visitthe nodding daffodils, or you FaceTimethe grandchildren, or you kneadthe living dough, hands pressed deepinto the rising warmth of our daily bread.
—from Poets Respond
May 3, 2020
Christine Gelineau: “My symptoms have been ‘atypical,’ so for the first two telemedicine visits both doctors were sure it could not be Covid-19 and so would not authorize testing, given the shortage of tests. Now that it has became clear that there were no other diagnoses that fit, and more has been learned about what is and is not typical, it is apparently too late for the test to be accurate. So, I’m in that area so many are in where the patient and the doctor have decided that must be it but you’re on no official rolls of confirmed cases. Since they have no treatment anyway, anyone not in an immediate emergency just stays home and does their best to support their immune system. And keep their spirits up.”
2 May 2020. Being scared about the right things about now would actually be helpful. In Stillwater, Oklahoma, a restaurant received threats because workers were masked. “In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse.” The reaction of the city was to remove the masking requirement. Home grown terrorism anyone?
A Harvard hospital doctor explains “flu mortality is not reported as a tally but as an estimated range, which is far different from the individual counts, based on testing and diagnoses, used for covid-19.” The deadliness of covid-19 becomes obvious if you compare only confirmed deaths from flu to confirmed deaths from covid-19, rather than the estimated deaths “because the CDC plugs the confirmed deaths into a model that attempts to adjust for what many epidemiologists believe is a severe undercount.” We are also undercounting cover deaths. And we are comparing an entire season of flu to just a few weeks of covid-19. Scared yet?
Masking does save lives because covid-19 is a killer spread primarily by droplets during coughs and speech. Yeah, talking can kill. So can threats by wackos and bullies that result in people being unable to protect themselves and the public.
1 May 2020, The Washington Post reports that new cases continue because people working in services such as groceries, housekeeping, and care cannot afford to stay home, and “interviews with doctors and public health officials, and data that has been made public, paint a portrait of a pandemic that increasingly is infecting those who have limited ability to socially distance.”
from 27 April 2020, The Atlantic:
Let’s begin by recapping a fraught five days in Washington:
On Thursday, the president’s daily press briefing took a dangerous turn when Trump wondered aloud if bleach injections might be used to treat COVID-19. (Doctors quickly issued warnings.)
On Friday, he dismissed the comments as sarcasm.
By Saturday, he threatened to cancel these briefings altogether.
Yesterday, Trump “fired off” what my colleague David Frum called “a sequence of crazy-even-for-him tweets and retweets,” including a deepfake video featuring a likeness of Joe Biden. He also called for journalists to be stripped of their “Noble” prizes, both misspelling the award and, apparently, conflating it with the Pulitzers.
And today, the White House made good on Saturday’s threat, but only for a blip, canceling, then uncanceling, the afternoon press briefing.
Here’s how to think about these daily dispatches from the White House:
They aren’t press conferences so much as “reality shows with no winners.” Trump is using them to build a dystopia in real time, Megan Garber argued last week.
Trump clearly loves the format. “In fact, it’s one of the few presidential duties he actually seems to enjoy,” our politics staff writer David A. Graham points out.
These briefings, by design, keep attention on the president. And with the 2020 contest looming, “incentives to further politicize the stage will only grow,” Peter predicted back in early April.
Trump’s foes watch the spectacle from afar, shot glasses nearby. “I start off with a beer and, depending on the magnitude of crazy, I could be on tequila before too long,” Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman and an MSNBC commentator, told Peter.
[me again] Yeah, that last one had me laughing. I am a happier person for never having watched any of these
political rallies briefings.
26 April 2020: The good news?
We do not know how long the new coronavirus was moving around in the world. It’s likely that it was here in the United States for much longer than we can prove. What it took to backdate the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak to a woman who died of a “heart attack” on 6 February:
- California law requires an autopsy for anyone dying outside direct medical supervision
- testing existed for a “new” disease through the CDC but was available only for people who had traveled recently to China and showed a particular profile of symptoms
- a coroner who was nevertheless suspicious of cause of death chooses to send tissue off to the CDC anyway
- the CDC finds and reports presence of coronavirus in tissue sample
Want to bet we could find even earlier cases if we actually looked for them? The “Spanish Flu” probably originated in Kansas. What if Wuhan was not the original site?
22 April 2020 from The Washington Post:
“The use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for Veterans Affairs coronavirus patients had no benefit and was linked to higher death rates, according to a study by VA and academic researchers. … The study ‘analyzed outcomes of 368 male patients nationwide, with 97 receiving hydroxychloroquine, 113 receiving hydroxychloroquine in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, and 158 not receiving any hydroxychloroquine. … Rates of death in the groups treated with the drugs were worse than those who did not receive the drugs, the study found. Rates of patients on ventilators were roughly equal, with no benefit demonstrated by the drugs.’ ” Unsurprising that a panel of experts is recommending against using the drug to treat covid19.
Once again, Trump’s guesswork has been proven misguided, his “common sense” fatal to others.
And a reminder that as Trump urges people to fight state stay-at-home orders, no one gets near the president (forget six feet, no one gets into the building with him) without a negative test result.
In the mean time, Johns Hopkins reports over 45 thousand Americans have died from diagnosed covid19. Oh! And the first U.S. case was found in autopsy tissue samples from a person who died at home in Northern California on 6 February 2020.
20 April 2020, from The Atlantic:
One question, answered: Why are America’s COVID-19 numbers flat?
One possible answer: “There is clearly some group of Americans who have the coronavirus but who don’t show up in official figures,” Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer, who launched a project tracking state-by-state testing progress, write.
One statistic highlights the extent of the cases that the U.S. could be missing. Alexis and Rob evaluated a metric called the test-positivity rate, which estimates how many people who are tested for the virus are found to have it. In the U.S., that rate is 20 percent. That’s very high—and implies that doctors are testing only those patients with a very high likelihood of having the virus.
The positivity rate doesn’t tell us the proportion of coronavirus cases in the U.S., but it can give us a general sense of how drastic a particular outbreak is. In America’s case, it shows that the outbreak is far from under control.
16 April 2020: I began writing about Vietnam early on because they had only a double handful of cases and no death even though the nation borders China. They took early and extremely rigorous action, saw their first cases to recovered, but also announced they knew there would be more. To date: 268 cases and still no deaths. Close oversight by the US officials reveals these are accurate counts. Vietnam took the tough road and survives.
13 April: On 13 March there were a bit over 2100 cases confirmed in the U.S. and a few dozen people had died, mostly in Washington. One month later on 13 April, there were 581,679 confirmed cases and 23,604 dead, and in every single state. South Korea saw its first case on the same day as the US. That nation reacted quickly and firmly, flattened their curve immediately and to date 10,537 have been confirmed positive. Only 217 have died. The percentages alone are telling: 2% death rate in South Korea compared to over 10% in the UK which initially resisted lockdown, and 4% in the US which still has no national leadership making the courageous hard choices.
Trump’s public coronavirus failures begin: Jan 21: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
Jan 30: “We think we have it very much under control.”
Feb 02: “We pretty much shut it down, coming from China.”
Feb 14: “We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12… Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”
Feb 25: “People are getting better, they’re all getting better.”
Feb 26: “And the 15 in a couple of days is gonna be down to close to zero.”
Feb 28: “Coronavirus. This is the new hoax… You’ll be fine.”
Feb 28: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”
Mar 02: “They’re going to have vaccines very soon.”
Mar 03: “Not only the vaccines, but the therapies. Therapies is sort of another word for cure.”
Mar 04: “We’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.”
Mar 06: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault… I like the numbers where they are.”
Mar 06: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect…”
Mar 07: “It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down. We stopped it.”
Mar 08: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House.” Mar 10: “It’s really working out, and a lot of good things are gonna happen. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Mar 12: “It’s gonna go away.”
Mar 13: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Mar 16: “I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job.”
Mar 17: “This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
I have said enough. Four thousand dead Americans as of April 1st. Don’t be a fool. Read Letters from an American: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/march-31-2020?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=copy
Sunday, 29 March 2020
Over 135 thousand confirmed cases of covid19 in the United States—doubled in 5 days. And none of the short term rental organizations seem to have noticed that Clatsop County has disallowed all such rentals. Affluent people sneaking off to rural communities to hide from the virus is happening all over the country. Small, rural communities have limited resources and resent the influx.
Friday, 27 March 2020
UPDATE as of 1pm, 97,028 confirmed cases in the United States; 1475 dead; 816 recovered.
The U.S. has more confirmed cases of covid19 than anywhere in the world, 86,012 showing an increase of 31% since Wednesday and 1,301 deaths showing an increase nearly as large. Since yesterday. I suspect people would take this more seriously if we broke out in a rash or spots or streaming sores. Somehow a dry cough, even a fever does not sound so bad.
Eventually, everyone will be exposed. Everyone. With the best of care we might manage Germany’s death rate. With an overtaxed medical system we might suffer as Italy has. Will be see 0.5% or 10%? So far, about 1.5% of confirmed cases have ended in deathwith only the tiniest fraction (753 people) declared “recovered.”
For a while, the president was was making an ill-advised comparison of covid19 to flu.
- 5% to 20% — Percentage of the U.S. population that will get the flu, on average, each year.
- 200,000 — Average number of Americans hospitalized each year because of problems with the illness.
- 8,200 to 20,000 — Number of people who die each year from flu-related causes in the U.S.
- $10 billion+ — Average costs of hospitalizations and outpatient doctor visits related to the flu.
NOTE: The flu is far less contagious, has a much lower death rate, and we can vaccinate for flu.
At least half of Americans are vaccinated against flu, so double the first number and then double it again. The death rate must be multiplied by a factor of fourteen—flu kills about 0.1%, but covid10 is estimated to kill 1.4%. In a population the size of the United States, 1.4% is millions. That’s why we’re being careful, folks.
Thursday, 26 March 2020
We got up, dressed for our walk, and drove to Cannon Beach. John at the post office unloaded our packages onto the counter and I loaded them into a plastic trash bag, carried them to the car. Gary opened the back door for me, I dumped them behind the passenger seat and he squeezed Purell into my palm. Then I got into the car. Gary unloaded our recycling at the recycling center (no one was closer that fifty feet and he touched only our own cardboard and glass. At the grocery store, it was my turn again. I carried my bags in, found what I wanted (ww flour, eggs, milk, yogurt, sunflower oil, brown sugar, oranges, and juice). Same routine as the PO except groceries went into the back behind the driver’s seat. At home, I stripped naked and carried the milk into the fridge. All the new stuff (mail and food) will sit for 72 hours, mostly in the garaged car with only the milk in the house.
My neighbor warned about two vacation rentals still renting to tourists. She called CERT and VBRO, and I called the sheriff. Gary was not in favor, but “It BUGS me that adults and kids play ball on our narrow street so [our 70+ year old neighbor with recent heart surgery] has to wait for things to settle down so that he can get his walk done for the day. He has not complained but this has been my observation.”
The only reason the confirmed cases are only half a million cases is the lack of testing. The state of Oregon has identified fewer people than have died in New York City.
From Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center data: 22,295 dead world wide. U.S. confirmed cases have risen to 69,684 confirmed cases; 619 recovered; 1049 dead, and the man in the White House thinks we might have to allow that number to escalate because money matters more than people. . . . and yet his popularity has gone up?
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
A little satirical bite? Try Alexandra Petri’s satire in The Washington Post yesterday: “This is rude and selfish of you, to say that your life is worth more than someone’s money.” She regrets she has “but one grandparent to give for my country.”
“Here is your chance to serve! And there is still a place in the line for the people who did not ask to be volunteered — but you must help them! You can sacrifice them, too, by your decision, because this disease conveniently does not understand who is stepping up and who is not.
” Just as we do not make any attempt to regulate traffic so that people do not perish needlessly in car accidents, just as when buildings are aflame we do not keep people from congregating inside them, so, too, must we now rush back to normalcy, at an unthinkable cost, to no purpose whatsoever.
“We’ll have the country open by Easter! Think what more glorious fate there could possibly be than to die for nothing at all!”
From Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center data: 836,159 confirmed cased in the world; 111,847 recovered; 19,648 dead. After two months of lockdown (81,661 confirmed cases; 73,773 recovered; and 3,285 dead), China is beginning to reopen Hubei because new cases amount to 0% over the past two days. U.S. confirmed cases have risen to 55,238 confirmed cases; 354 recovered; 802 dead.
Stats for Oregon remain: 4559 tested in Oregon; 209 positive; 8 deaths.
For an excellent review of the functions and failures of philanthropy in addressing public needs, read this essay at Wired: “The Dangers of Relying on Philanthropists During Pandemics”.
Just for fun, I read an article on NPR about cooking during lockdown. The advice about spicing up dishes and substitutions was really helpful, but the recipes were not. Each one contained ingredients most people are guaranteed not to have on hand such as several fresh ears of corn. Where are the recipes that include only what is canned, frozen, dried, or at least in season?
Tuesday, 24 March 2020
4559 tested in Oregon as of 8am; 209 positive; 8 deaths.
NPR interviewed five of the worlds premier experts in economics. Surprise! None of them advises what our President plans to do. (Instead, see Denmark’s Minister of Employment below. They are investing in workers, supporting people not fire but on leave with 90% pay. Our economy runs on paychecks and spending, not merely Wall Street.)
Yesterday I baked a huckleberry cake from James Beard’s recipe.
From The Washington Post: “Health experts are screaming warnings. As Tom Inglesbe, the director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, powerfully argues, the failure to test has dramatically undercounted the true numbers of those infected. This, plus a looming exponential surge in cases, almost certainly means that, if we don’t continue major social distancing, our health system will soon be overwhelmed.”
As of 24 March 2020, my husband and I are healthy. I have not driven anywhere, nor been in contact with or within 20 feet on the beach of anyone for the past two weeks. Theoretically, I am fine and should be coronavirus-free.
Despite the county shutting down all short term rentals, there are tourists on the beach and cars parked in front of local rentals. Though many of the owners of these rentals claim to be “long-time residents,” they have never lived here, but in cities some distance away in Washington or Portland. Their attitude seems to be that laws only count if you are caught. The American way? The President if the United States considers scrapping social distancing because it’s hurting Wall Street. He is more worried about the economy than the health of me or my neighbors. I get that. We wouldn’t vote for him anyway.
In the mean time, Denmark is taking remarkable steps to ensure people stay home if they are not essential workers (health, food, utilities).
Derek Thompson of The Atlantic: In the U.S., we still don’t have an emergency relief deal. What’s your message to American lawmakers?
Peter Hummelgaard, the Employment Minister of Denmark: Do more—fast. Don’t wait. The main focus should be to bridge partisan divides and to make sure that the rescue package for the economy is a rescue for Main Street, not just for Wall Street. Preserve the income and jobs for ordinary working people, and also preserve small businesses. The jury is still out on our initiatives, but I’m confident in our approach.
As of 9:38am PDT, Tuesday, 24 March 2020, The Atlantic reports 46,481 diagnosed cases and 593 deaths of covid19 in the U.S., up 40% from Sunday (less than 48 hours). Six weeks ago there were 12 cases of covid19 in the U.S. The earlier and current figures are not accurate, of course, because we have tested a relatively tiny proportion of our citizens. Unless you are hospitalized or wealthy, it is unlikely that you will have access to a test.
By contrast, Denmark has 1,703 diagnosed cases and 32 deaths with a growth of 17% since Sunday. Below are old figures, old because they are a couple of weeks out of date. Note South Korea and the United States had their first diagnosed case at about the same time and that our President has asked for help from South Korea, a nation successfully fighting covid19 with 1% increase in identified cases since Sunday.
In the charts below, confirm that dates, the first is a couple of weeks old, the second from yesterday.
As of 24 March, there have been 3,649 coronavirus tests in Oregon, with 191 positives, and 5 deaths. Our numbers here have not moved much, but I will update.
I bake, usually from my own recipes. I make soup about once a week, always vegetable soup, and usually combining a legume with a grain to gain a complete protein, since we are vegetarian.
I also knit, weave, and stitch quilts. The weaving goes back to childhood when my step-grandmother, Genevieve encouraged me to weave. I took classes while in college and I have owned several looms. Just now, I am using a Schacht Baby Wolf gifted to me by a friend to weave wool, mostly Koigu from Canada.
We have two sons and three grandchildren and my husband and I walk most every morning on the beach. We gather trash and hunt for pebbles, shells, and sea glass.
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