Multiple Hundreds of Thousands of Deaths

black death

Washington Post, Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’

A lengthy—and terrifying—article, published this morning, has lots of news, none of it good:

The coronavirus is spreading at dangerous levels across much of the United States, and public health experts are demanding a dramatic reset in the national response, one that recognizes that the crisis is intensifying and that current piecemeal strategies aren’t working.

This is a new phase of the pandemic, one no longer built around local or regional clusters and hot spots. It comes at an unnerving moment in which the economy suffered its worst collapse since the Great Depression, schools are rapidly canceling plans for in-person instruction and Congress has failed to pass a new emergency relief package. President Trump continues to promote fringe science, the daily death toll keeps climbing and the human cost of the virus in America has just passed 150,000 lives.

“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” declared a report released this week by Johns Hopkins University.

Another report from the Association of American Medical Colleges offered a similarly blunt message: “If the nation does not change its course — and soon — deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands.” …

An internal Trump administration briefing document prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and obtained Friday by The Washington Post counted 453,659 new infections in the past week.

Alaska is in trouble. And Hawaii, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma. Those are the five states, as of Friday, with the highest percentage increase in the seven-day average of new cases, according to a Post analysis of nationwide health data.

“The dominoes are falling now,” said David Rubin, director of the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has produced a model showing where the virus is likely to spread over the next four weeks. …

The coronavirus has always been several steps ahead of the U.S. government, the scientific community, the news media and the general public. By the time a community notices a surge in patients to hospital emergency rooms, the virus has seeded itself widely.

Meanwhile, as the article lays out, authorities in a number of states continue to embrace ideologically driven misunderstandings of epidemiology and to reject scientific advice.

Welcome to the New Middle Ages.

 

Trump’s in Deep Doodoo, But Not to Worry, ‘Cause the Market’s Doing Really Well

monopoly animated

Axios, Wall Street is no longer betting on Trump

Good news: the market is up, despite (because?) they now expect Trump to fall down the crapper.

More good news: if you are a busy hedge fund manager—or maybe a mom working from home while trying to tutor your three brats, I mean beautiful children—Axios lets you know that their article only takes two minutes to read. If you are a slow reader.

And, Speaking of Orange Man’s deep doodoo, Greg Sargent lets us know that helium balloons still rise and water still flows downhill:

For many weeks, the basic story that President Trump told the country — and himself — went like this: The only thing restraining us from roaring back to greatness is the oppressive restrictiveness of overzealous officials, mostly Democratic governors and pointy-headed health experts.

In this narrative, by tweeting things such as “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” Trump aligned himself with the proposition that once lockdowns were lifted, Americans chafing to resume normal activity would instantly do so by the millions, unleashing a miraculous “V-shaped recovery.”

CNN reports that Trump allies and top Republicans are “only now coming to the realization” that mask-wearing will be key to containing the coronavirus’s resurgence. With cases rampaging once again, White House officials are “discussing taking a more active role in encouraging masks.”

Now gaze upon this, and try not to slam your head violently into the nearest wall:

The bungled response has caused grave damage to the President’s political outlook — with his reluctance on masks only deepening the impression that Trump is not taking the pandemic seriously. Many of Trump’s closest allies now say in private that wearing a mask in public could help him appear more attuned to the crisis.

They fear his failure to do so — and to encourage his supporters to follow suit — could threaten the economic recovery Trump is counting on to fuel his reelection, because further outbreaks could roll back the reopenings he desperately needs to have a chance in November.

Do You, Like Me, Hear a Non-Barking Dog Here?

Like maybe these “top Republicans” don’t give two hoots about whether their delusional base actually lives or dies?

The Plutocracy Whisperer

whisperer

Y’all may not know this, but I am the Plutocracy Whisperer. So I would like to translate for you what the Business Roundtable, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Retail Federation are trying to tell Orange Man.

They are trying to tell him,

Yo, Orange Man!

Would you please tell your cult followers to stop acting like idiots and jerks, because they are killing themselves and they are killing lots of other people.

And worse, far worse than that, far, far worse than that, they are killing our profits.

Actually, the Morgue is Half Empty

morgue

AND THAT WOODEN HORSE OUTSIDE OUR GATES SHOWS THAT THE TROJANS HAVE DEFEATED THE GREEKS

Paul Waldman, 115,000 Americans are dead. The administration says its performance is ‘cause for celebration.’

Alexandra Petri, ‘The Greeks Are Gone from Troy for Sure,’ by Mike Pence: We are far better off than Cassandra would have you believe:

Thanks to the leadership of King Priam and the courage and compassion of the Trojan people, our walled city is far stronger and even less pregnable than it was nine years ago, and we have won the fight against the Greeks. And if you doubt that, just look at this enormous and beautifully constructed wooden horse they have left for us, which is definitely not hollow and will absolutely not be filled with handpicked soldiers ready to pour out and devastate our city.

Mike Pence, There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’: With testing, treatments and vaccine trials ramping up, we are far better off than the media report:

In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a “second wave” of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.

While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable. Every state, territory and major metropolitan area, with the exception of three, have positive test rates under 10%. And in the six states that have reached more than 1,000 new cases a day, increased testing has allowed public health officials to identify most of the outbreaks in particular settings—prisons, nursing homes and meatpacking facilities—and contain them.

Lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6% of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus. Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000—down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May. And in the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago—and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.

The truth is that we’ve made great progress over the past four months, and it’s a testament to the leadership of President Trump. When the president asked me to chair the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the end of February, he directed us to pursue not only a whole-of-government approach but a whole-of-America approach. The president brought together major commercial labs to expand our testing capacity, manufacturers to produce much-needed medical equipment, and major pharmaceutical companies to begin research on new medicines and vaccines. He rallied the American people to embrace social-distancing guidelines. And the progress we’ve made is remarkable.

We’ve expanded testing across the board. At the end of February, between Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs and state public health facilities, the U.S. had performed only about 8,000 coronavirus tests. As of this week, we are performing roughly 500,000 tests a day, and more than 23 million tests have been performed in total.

We’ve also vastly expanded our supplies of crucial medical equipment. In March, there were genuine fears that hospitals in our hot spots would run out of personal protective equipment like N95 masks, gloves or, even worse, ventilators for patients battling respiratory failure. The Strategic National Stockpile hadn’t been refilled since the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, and it had only 10,000 ventilators on hand.

Since then, we’ve increased the supply of personal protective equipment by the billions. Our administration launched Project Air Bridge—a partnership between the federal government and private companies—that, as of June 12, had conducted more than 200 flights from overseas to deliver more than 143 million N95 masks, 598 million surgical and procedural masks, 20 million eye and face shields, 265 million gowns and coveralls, and 14 billion gloves. In addition, we’ve worked with the private sector to ramp up ventilator production. Today, we have more than 30,000 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile, and we’re well on our way to building 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. No American who required a ventilator was ever denied one.

We’ve also made great progress on developing therapeutics and a vaccine. Last month, the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences announced it would donate about 940,000 vials of its new drug remdesivir to treat more than 120,000 patients in the U.S. Under Operation Warp Speed, the federal government is already funding researchinto multiple vaccine candidates, and we are well on our way to having a viable vaccineby the fall.

But our greatest strength is the resilience of the American people. From the outset of this pandemic, the American people have stepped up and made great personal sacrifices to protect the health and safety of our nation. And it’s because of their embrace of social-distancing guidelines that all 50 states have begun to reopen in a safe and responsible manner.

The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different. The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success. We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering.

Mr. Pence is vice president of the United States.

Do You Believe in Magic?

In his op-ed, Joe Biden got one thing wrong. (And I certainly hope the glitch was intentional—that it didn’t reflect a failure of perception on Joe’s part.)

Biden implied that Trump is putting political gain over the lives of Americans.

That is not a valid way of looking at the situation. The rational way for Trump to advance his own political interests—even now; yes, even now—would be to lead a national effort to implement testing and contact tracing.

Trump does indeed think he is promoting his political interests. But he is delusional.

Today, we are heading to a massive confrontation between the Senate testimony by Dr. Fauci and the massive display of delusion at yesterday’s news conference.

The irresistible force is about to collide with the immovable object.

You are advised to stand well away from the fan.

We’re All Swimming to the Other Side

Here is the music they sang a few minutes ago, during the virtual worship service down at my local Church of the Two Holy Heresies.

Next week, folks from the National Guard, dressed in space suits, are coming to Happy Acres to make sure we’re disinfected and to test all of us.

This morning, the Washington Post Editorial Board reminds us, We are nearing the end of the beginning of the covid-19 crisis. Bigger challenges lie ahead:

WHAT NOW? We are six weeks into a national pandemic emergency, an extraordinary period of disruption in which the American people have sheltered in their homes and seen one-sixth of their jobsvanish. Horrifyingly, more than 50,000 people have died. An effective vaccine is at least a year away, and that is optimistic. So what should and can be done? The incompetence of national leadership notwithstanding, we must find a realistic way forward for the next phase.

The goal was, and remains: save lives and resume economic activity without igniting dangerous new flare-ups. Restoring the economy and the health of the nation both are priorities. Neither can be breezily ignored or dismissed.

The first requirement is to set reasonable expectations. Some degree of sheltering in place and social distancing will continue longer than expected, perhaps for months. Wearing masks, attending video meetings, keeping six feet away, grabbing takeout and avoiding crowds must be accepted as part of the daily routine for some time to come. These tactics have successfully flattened the curve and, so far, avoided the worst-case health-care meltdown.

Sadly, the time gained with this sacrifice has been largely squandered by President Trump. The next set of challenges are: test millions more people, identify the sick, trace their contacts, and isolate the ill so that those who are able can return to work and school. These elements — testing, diagnosing, contact-tracing, isolating — are tactics that work. But to perform them at needed scale is a far more complex challenge than what has been achieved so far. It now seems clear that a huge, national wartime mobilization to meet the challenge, which many have suggested, will not take place. It will fall on 50 state governors and on localities. They must make the best of it.

Diagnostic testing is the biggest gap. It is essential in the coming months to know who is infected, especially because a large number of people may be spreading the virus without showing symptoms. Mr. Trump and his aides promised millions of diagnostic tests but did not deliver. The number of tests has been rising, but far more slowly than will be needed. Key supplies, especially swabs and reagent chemicals, are in short supply. When the pandemic hit, the global supply chain was overwhelmed and has never recovered. Nations are battling for every shipment.

Mr. Trump made clear in the last week that he is not going to mobilize industry, World War II-style, for this purpose, and instead has pushed the testing problem to the governors. However, as New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) told Mr. Trump on Tuesday at a closed White House meeting, states “can’t do international supply chains.” Mr. Cuomo said he wanted to “let the federal government take responsibility for that federal supply chain.” Mr. Trump said he agreed with the governor on testing. We hope he was serious. Rhode Island can’t compete against France. The federal government must help.

The just-passed stimulus bill provides $25 billion for testing, including $11 billion for the states, accompanied by a vague requirement that “not later than 30 days” after enactment, the administration must provide Congress with a “strategic testing plan.” While the funds will help, that plan was needed last month. Front-line health workers still need protective equipment. Recent reports suggest that institutions such as prisons, meatpacking plants, and probably many offices and other factories would be better protected with high-level surgical masks. Can we make more for them? The hour is late.

Fortunately, on contact tracing, state public health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expertise, and hopefully states can carry out the essential door-knocking. But here, too, they will need financial help.

Job losses in March and April have been appalling. Those who have suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves unemployed are surely suffering their own pandemic of anger and despair. The nation must be shown a realistic and persuasive road to economic recovery, not the fairy tale of Vice President Pence that in June, everything will be behind us. The reopening must be calibrated in a way that assures worker safety. That will demand creative thinking by employers about touchless surfaces, distancing in the office and factory, staggered shifts and more.

The American people responded with alacrity, cohesion and remarkable goodwill in the face of danger over the past six weeks. They deserve straight talk about what lies ahead. Clarity and transparency are vital. We are at the end of the beginning of the worst national crisis since Pearl Harbor. The nation’s success, its resilience and recovery, depend in great measure on public confidence that the sacrifices have purpose, that there is a path out and that we will stay on it. As Mr. Trump cannot instill such confidence, it falls to other officials — local, state and federal — to plan soberly and speak honestly. It falls to each of us to help, and keep faith with, one another.

Lysol Would Like You to Know: Do Not Swig Lysol

Lysol

Improper use of Disinfectants

Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).  As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.

We have a responsibility in providing consumers with access to accurate, up-to-date information as advised by leading public health experts. For this and other myth-busting facts, please visit Covid-19facts.com.

For more information on our response to COVID-19, visit this link: Coronavirus information

And, Also, By the Way

Do Not Use Lysol for its Original Advertised Purpose, as a Vaginal Douche

Lysol douche

The Great Unraveling—Some Postscripts

unraveling

Apropos the Great Unraveling, many have remarked on how, last night, the Evening Gaslighting Show reached a new low, as Orange Man publicly failed to bully his science advisers into joining his medical fantasy world.

And this morning—in fact, just a few minutes ago—the fivethirtyeight.com rolling average of Trump approvers and disapprovers showed him underwater by a full nine points.

Thus far, Lizard Brain has shown a certain animal cunning: he is in fact capable, sometimes, of switching positions and going against his notorious “gut” when he perceives a dire political threat.

One assumes he now perceives a dire political threat. Witness the public unraveling at the Evening Gaslighting Show.

He may well understand that his effort to turn the virus into a culture war has put him squarely on the side of, maybe, 15 percent of the population, and squarely against, say, 65 to 70 percent.

Politically, the wise choice would be a no-brainer: reverse course by 180 degrees.

But doing so would create a big problem: possible loss of financial and political support from the loonier fringe of the political class.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

I see three possibilities.

Possibility One: Trump sees that the right thing is also the politically expedient thing—stop gaslighting, invoke the full powers of his office, find a competent person to take control, get the hell out of the way, and claim credit for the whole thing.

Possibility Two: just keep on slipslidin’ away, until he’s down to Obamacare repeal level of approval, around 36 percent, or maybe lower.

Possibility Three: take no coherent action, sink more deeply into incoherence and public display of severe mental illness.

I have idea on God’s green earth which of these will come to pass. But I would be willing to bet some spare change on Possibility Three.

The Merry, Merry Month of May

I gaze into the crystal ball, and here is what I see.

By early May,

  • many of the cities will be reopening, with social distancing,
  • Trump will begin to hold mass rallies once again, and they will come by the thousands, coughing and sneezing, and
  • outbreaks in rural areas and Red States will become serious.

As May rolls on, and turns into June, the deaths among the MAGA crowd will continue to rise.

Because Trump is not Pogo,

the enemy

he will lust for someone to blame.

But remotely plausible targets will, by then, be as scarce as hens’ teeth.

Probably, he will start blaming the Jews.

Here’s a Howdy Doo, Here’s a Pretty Mess, Here’s a State of Things, Here’s a Pretty, Pretty Howdy Doo

Greg Sargent writes,

Only hours after President Trump released his vague new plan for reopening the economy, one that does not include anywhere near the testing we’ll need, Fox News host Laura Ingraham tried to get Anthony Fauci to trash Joe Biden’s response to Trump’s new rollout.

It did not go as planned.

The exchange perfectly captures a profound problem bedeviling Trump and his media allies. They urgently need to minimize the continuing threat of coronavirus, to buttress Trump’s case for reopening the economy quickly — in keeping with his reelection needs.

But pushing that line risks making Trump appear cavalier about the virus while deaths mount past 30,000 and experts warn that a rush to reopen could prove catastrophic. So they also must demonstrate that Trump’s call for a reopening is the argument that’s truly grounded in science.

The trouble is that there’s no way to reconcile these two things. Either Trump is taking coronavirus seriously enough, or he is not.

The Coven Will Meet Via Zoom

Coven

Maeve Dunigan, Owing to Coronavirus Concerns, We Will Now Be Holding Our Coven Meeting on Zoom:

Hello, all,

Thank you so much for bearing with us as we try to navigate this scary and confusing time. In order to insure the safety and health of our coven, the Siren Sisters of Bramble Grove will now be holding our monthly ritual Satan worship and spell-casting meeting over the video-conferencing platform Zoom. I know you all likely have questions and concerns, many of which I will try to address here.

On Tuesday, you will be visited by Galgar, cursed raven of the north. Galgar will fly to your window to deliver a scroll containing a nine-digit meeting I.D. and a six-digit passcode, which you can use to log in. A reminder that Galgar is not an I.T. specialist, he is just a bewitched anthropomorphic bird doing his best. We all must go easy on Galgar as he adapts to his new role.

Once you have logged in to the meeting, make sure that your camera and audio are turned on. If your audio is off and our voices are not in synch, the spells will not work. Please do not pretend that you don’t know how to turn the audio on to avoid participating in the spells. I know we will all be in separate places, but we still need to put in a hundred-per-cent effort, as we would if we were meeting at our rock pentagram in the Hell cave.

Side note—if you left something in the Hell cave, DO NOT go back to retrieve it. You were given explicit instructions not to leave anything behind in the Hell cave. You will have to wait to retrieve your items until the Hell cave has been sanitized and commuting to the Hell cave is safe again.

Since we cannot gather around our large communal cauldron, we will have to plug our smaller, at-home cauldrons into our computers. If your miniature cauldron is new, you will be able to use wireless Bluetooth connection. I recently realized that my new cauldron also synchs with Spotify!

Some of you have expressed qualms about the digitization of cauldrons and potion making. Of course I would love to feel the hemlock in my hands instead of just typing “hemlock.” On the bright side, the new technology is able to project the screams of the damned at an even higher volume. Plus, you can decorate your digital potion with fun little gifs of fire and brimstone and people’s skin melting off their face on a loop, which I think is a fun and creative touch.

Obviously, we are going to try our best to get Satan on the call, but please don’t be too disappointed if he is unable to join. As you know, he is very old and has trouble operating newer technology. (To be fair, Hell only recently upgraded to iOS 10.)

I know you were all looking forward to drinking goat’s bile together. Maybe it could be fun to each pour individual cups of goat’s bile at home and drink them on camera? We can clink our glasses against the screen as if we were at a real goat’s bile happy hour. That could be really cute.

Stay well!

Allegra the Infernal

Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixieland

Margaret Renki, In the American South, a Perfect Storm Is Gathering: In states with many uninsured citizens, few hospitals and leaders who have not required citizens to stay home, a disaster is looming.

Politico, Virus hot spots in South poised for disproportionate suffering: With equipment shortages coast to coast, local officials are left begging residents to stay indoors.

Also in Politico: how Trump made the situation much worse by refusing to accept advice to open Obamacare enrollment.

Over at The New Republic, Nick Martin strongly advises against Sneering While the South Is Dying: From Georgia to Florida, the malice and incompetence of Republican leadership will get people killed. Save your stereotypes. But it’s not a matter of sneering, Nick, it’s a matter of pointing out that people are reaping what they sowed. I don’t sneer, but I do grieve–with eyes wide open, to understand what led to this crisis in the South.

Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbissimus

Washington Post, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who resisted strict coronavirus measures, says he just learned it transmits asymptomatically: Health officials have been saying that for two months:

After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.

Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.”

It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.

Georgians, this is what you get when you reject a highly qualified black woman and pick, instead, a good old boy who is dumb as a stump. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. You have sowed the wind, and you have inherited the whirlwind.

As It Were

2 plus 2

The one thing that I have been saying that never came across particularly clearly in the way some people — and I’m not mentioning names — have expressed this: We are in the escalating phase of a very serious pandemic. That is a fact. We have got to realize that and to prepare and respond. It is not, as it were, under control.

Interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci

A Theologian Weighs In

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 11.17.28 PM

If, by chance, you do not know who the Reverend Ralph Drollinger is, then permit me to tell you. Rev. Drollinger is the spiritual leader of the White House Bible Study Group, which includes ten Cabinet members.

Recently, Rev. Drollinger applied his high theological wisdom to the question whether the coronavirus represents the wrath of God on America—a topic I addressed in my last post. His detailed taxonomy of the various forms of divine wrath may be found in an essay titled Is God Judging America Today?

Great theological minds, it is said, think alike. I am, accordingly, more than gratified to find that, after much hemming and hawing, zigging and zagging, toing and froing, Rev. Drollinger concludes, with me, that we are experiencing the form of divine wrath that comes from sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.

Regrettably, the reverend does not describe in any detail the nature of  wind that we have sown, i.e., the exact source of the whirlwind we now reap. For that, you will have to turn to my theological analysis.