The COVID-45 Summer
July 22, 2020 11:34 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, the US reported more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths for the first time since May 29, and on Monday, Axios reported on the surge in coronavirus hospitalizations. Also on Tuesday, The Guardian reports Trump said the pandemic “will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better,” and urged Americans to wear masks, but laid out no strategy for how to reverse the country’s recent rise in new cases. In the meantime, the Guardian reports on a recent Axios-Ipsos poll finding the US public is increasingly skeptical of the Covid-19 death toll, even as public health experts, including those interviewed by Scientific American, explain how coronavirus death tolls are likely an underestimate. However, USA Today reports we'll need enormous numbers of Americans to test COVID-19 vaccines, and a 'very encouraging' 138,600 have signed up.

Previously: A full moon American fever dream, The coronavirus invades Trump country, Strange defeat, The Wørd: Truthiness In Action

Want to chat? The politics room of MeFi Chat and the Unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack are available. • Thanks to Sweet for helping create this post.
posted by katra (604 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
In NYC it's currently taking 7-14 business days to receive test results. Why? Who is responsible for this? Trump? Cuomo? In what world are we able to effectively test and trace people with that kind of delay?

If someone works in an essential job, they have to get tested and either quarantine until they receive their results or just keep going to work until they get their positive result back, in which they alert their coworkers to go get tested and wait another 7-14 days. Total absurdity.
posted by windbox at 11:43 AM on July 22 [17 favorites]


Note that the Politics Chat is a separate tab in the webchat application than the room that you get put in by default. also you have to wait for more that 30 seconds for people to come into chat before you leave, or nobody is ever in there.
posted by Dr. Twist at 11:50 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


According to Quest it's a nationwide delay. Non-priority tests are dragging out a week or more due to equipment and reagent shortages and also the FDA dragging their heels on sample pooling. (And also due to the overwhelming number of infected persons due to the regime's indifference and/or malice.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:56 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, around here (state in the Northeast), the priority tests (hospitalizations, ones linked to known outbreaks, etc.) that are getting done locally are still seeing a day or two turn around; non-priority tests that are sent out of state to national labs are taking much longer--a week to a week and a half. It means we've basically lost asymptomatic screening and contract tracing around here, which has me worried.
posted by damayanti at 12:00 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


katra, thank you for the new thread.

Few things are as baffling and depressing to me as reading in the Guardian link that 31% of Americans think we are UNDERcounting COVID-19 deaths. The Scientific American article is a nice counterpoint to that nonsense.
posted by cheapskatebay at 12:01 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


also the FDA dragging their heels on sample pooling

But note that it's probably too late for sample pooling to work in the US. The idea is to test large numbers of probably-negative samples together and then only test them individually if there's a positive in the pool. But now the virus is so common in much of the US that so many pools would be positive that it may no longer be a net gain in efficiency or turnaround.
posted by jedicus at 12:03 PM on July 22 [17 favorites]


I got a "classic" test (long nasal swab) 9 days ago and still haven't gotten the results. A few days later I was lucky enough to find another provider who had a rapid testing machine (short nasal swab) and got results in 15 minutes. (Negative, whew) I'm in the NE US.
posted by O Time, Thy Pyramids at 12:05 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


a recent Axios-Ipsos poll finding the US public is increasingly skeptical of the Covid-19 death toll

Saw this soul-breaking article earlier. Thirty-one percent in the poll agreed with this evidence-free fantasy. Now where would they get such an idea?
posted by thelonius at 12:07 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Now where would they get such an idea?

The Guardian notes:
Republicans have been sowing doubt about coronavirus statistics for at least two months. The White House recently moved to make coronavirus figures more opaque, ordering hospitals to submit data on cases and deaths to the Department of Health and Human Services, led by a Trump loyalist, instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
posted by katra at 12:10 PM on July 22 [29 favorites]


Thirty-one percent in the poll agreed with this evidence-free fantasy

This is also the approximate # of people who don't believe Russia interfered with the 2016 US election

Or that racism isn't a problem in America

Climate change #s used to be similar but have been improving.

It's almost like you need repeated personal experience for a problem to ever be considered to be true.
posted by O Time, Thy Pyramids at 12:13 PM on July 22 [67 favorites]


So I am a big joiner: I'd love to get called for jury duty, I used to donate blood platelets, and I volunteer and stuff.

But to be on the vaccine tests...I draw back. I mean, do they give you a random dose and then expose you? Or give you a random dose and see whether you get infected "naturally"?

And I wish I was braver because I know how desperately important it is, but...I just don't know. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 12:30 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Do we think if Trump had gone all in on the virus at the beginning, however he wanted to spin it (China's fault, etc,) but had ordered lockdowns, masking, huge national response, that the same amount of people would have doubted?
posted by chaz at 12:31 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I was able to get a mouth swab test in Chicago for free and get the results in under 48hrs. Several of my friends have done the same - none of us with symptoms or other priority other than, you know, sometimes being out in the world doing things and whatever natural exposure that could be. I wonder why there is such a difference from city to city. I did finish the experience thinking if it were this easy everywhere we'd have a much better handle on things.
posted by misskaz at 12:33 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


cheapskatebay, I think you meant to say that 31% think we are OVERcounting COVID-19 deaths, i.e., these people think that there have really been fewer deaths than reported, which is obvious hogwash.
posted by rikschell at 12:34 PM on July 22 [41 favorites]


Few things are as baffling and depressing to me as reading in the Guardian link that 31% of Americans think we are UNDERcounting COVID-19 deaths. The Scientific American article is a nice counterpoint to that nonsense.

This is backwards. The Guardian article says "Thirty-one percent of respondents in the survey said they believe the number of Americans dying from Covid-19 is in reality smaller than public data portrays." In other words, they think the number of deaths is being overreported.

If people think we're UNDERcounting deaths, they're saying what the Scientific American article says: "data on excess deaths in the United States over the past several months suggest that COVID-19 deaths are probably being undercounted rather than overcounted."
posted by Lexica at 12:39 PM on July 22 [29 favorites]


I am so glad I am not in the US right now bc at least here I don’t speak enough of either prominent language to understand this stuff in passing. It’s so infuriating when there is the random english speaker near me spouting some gibberish about it being made up etc etc.

If I was the US I’d probably be getting in fights at the store. Well from a safe distance.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:40 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Or give you a random dose and see whether you get infected "naturally"?

It's not a random dose but rather based on the Phase 1 safety trials. To my knowledge no challenge studies have been approved and all of the vaccine tests are based on natural exposure. That's part of why they need so many volunteers for Phase 2 and 3 trials, so that the benefit of the vaccine can be clearly shown. And also so that any rare side effects that might come up can be observed in the study rather than after we give it to most of the world's population...
posted by jedicus at 12:41 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


But to be on the vaccine tests...I draw back. I mean, do they give you a random dose and then expose you? Or give you a random dose and see whether you get infected "naturally"?

I signed up to be considered for a vaccine test locally here. There was a good amount of detail around what the vaccine actually did, how I'd be tested, expectations around availability, if I'd be exposed to the virus, risks, etc. Contact information for more questions was readily available. The trial I found was run out of University of Washington, but I can't imagine any entity not offering basic information along these lines and ability to answer questions -- I think it's actually required by law. (Someone who's actually dealt with human subjects and faced an IRB might be able to go into better detail!) But yeah -- you're not just going to have Mystery Substance Applied and then Mystery Thing Happen.
posted by kalimac at 12:41 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


My son starts college this fall in Massachusetts; his sister goes back to school in New Hampshire for her senior year. I noticed strong similarities among his school's web site at that of Boston College recently: they're both using the Broad Institute for weekly testing of students, and have similar policy statements posted online. From what I can tell, a bunch of schools in Mass. got together and worked out plans that seem a lot alike.

While I snort every time I read the neologism "de-densifying" about reducing the number of people in classrooms, dorms, gyms, and other facilities, I must say that they're offering a very clear and specific set of plans. I pray that the students have the self-discipline to wash hands and wear masks, and that vaccines go into clinical trials SOON. The college president was on a long web conference with students & families, and said very distinctly that everyone needs to wear a mask, and that professors will call campus security to remove anyone who doesn't comply.

I bring this up not to stir the pot about campus safety, but to point out that it doesn't require a moon-shot to form a policy, promulgate it, and promise to enforce it. Why the hell couldn't the president and his coterie set aside their job-protection and race-baiting long enough to do this -- or even to get out of the way of the people who could and would do it?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:43 PM on July 22 [18 favorites]


A few weeks ago I found out I had been working with a guy who tested positive. I got a test the next day, and got the result (negative) two days later. This is in the city of Chicago. What the hell is going on that tests are taking 7+ days now?

There's a weird Catch-22 going on now, too. This co-worker who tested positive was only outwardly ill for a couple days. He quarantined and now wants to return to work. But he cannot get a test, because he tested positive before, so now cannot be considered a priority. So he's not outwardly sick, he followed all the rules, he quarantined and cannot even come back to work (it's an hourly, no benefits job, so he's not making any money) because he cannot get a test. He's trying to get some doctor's approval to get tested (???) but in the meantime it's a big runaround for him.

We are so fucked.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:45 PM on July 22 [36 favorites]


Hi wenestvedt, I feel your pain. Pause to reflect on the March '06 Northwick Park TGN1412 testing debacle - in which 6 young chaps were injected with an anti-CD28 antibody that had been harmless in mice; and experienced a near-fatal "cytokine-storm" over-reaction of the immune system. One of the peculiar upshots was an uptick in the number of medical testing volunteers: in the extensive news coverage it was let slip that you could net £2,000 in folding money just for putting your life-time health at risk. The Lads did that getting hammered every weekend for nothing.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:47 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


The terrifying but not-unexpected result of the Republican strategy to sow doubt in all leadership and science is now that those Republican leaders are now being doubted even when reality sets in and they're trying to exert some control over the pandemic.

They've basically created a generation of sovereign citizens and conspiracy theorists.
posted by meowzilla at 12:48 PM on July 22 [57 favorites]


Due to a plethora of factors we may never know the true death toll from COVID, but we can measure excess moralities over time (that is, that amount +/- of deaths in a given time period that differs from that time period in years past) Here is one site that offers this data at the state level. Digging deeper you can see what states are likely most under-reporting deaths due to COVID.
posted by O Time, Thy Pyramids at 12:48 PM on July 22 [12 favorites]


It's almost like you need repeated personal experience for a problem to ever be considered to be true.

On one hand, the press spent yesterday talking up Trump's "new tone", while ignoring months of him calling the disease a hoax and dissuading his cult from wearing masks. So far as I last heard, he still is fighting funds for testing and tracing, and the press is not calling that out, either.

On the other hand, we're finally starting to see more coverage of hospital patients, hooked up to breathing apparatus, dying or dead. It is going to take imagery that is visceral and real to shake people, get them to wake the fuck up, and put on a mask.

The countless many opportunities we squandered to get this under control is the real tragedy. It was all so avoidable:
Matt Apuzzo
Well, I mean, so I’m in Belgium. And here’s a practical example. Belgium locked down nursing homes and said, you can’t visit if you’re sick. And thousands of people in nursing homes died. And they think that symptomless visitors and symptomless care workers brought the disease in, and they just had no idea that was even a possibility. We had the Diamond Princess cruise off the coast of Japan, where one of the reasons that people were allowed to mix and mingle and go to the buffet, even after a former passenger tested positive, was because, well, we don’t think he was symptomatic when he was on board. And then February 29, we get a tweet from the U.S. surgeon general, all caps: “Seriously, people, stop buying masks. They are not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus.” And it’s hard to imagine the surgeon general weighing in like that if there was kind of a growing acceptance in the medical community that, boy, this might actually be spreading before symptoms.

Michael Barbaro
And of course, now we know that symptomless spread can be curbed, and a primary way to curb it is masks.

Matt Apuzzo
Yeah, and now good luck messaging that when you’ve been telling the public, in all caps, masks don’t help. As you look at these moments, it just cost us time. And that’s kind of the story of Covid right now. We lost time.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:54 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


I'm in Minnesota.

My high school age daughters have been in contact with a classmate who has tested positive (and is asymptomatic). I am trying to get them both a test this week. My first attempt I was given this screen:

* are you experiencing symptoms? (no)
* are you < 3 months old? (no)
* are you having surgery in the next 48 hours? (no)

A: you can't have a test

I'm not giving up and expect I can either argue my way or lie my way to getting them tested, but this is incredibly stupid. They were in contact with someone who has Covid.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:55 PM on July 22 [29 favorites]


Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines
  • 24 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation (with 4 or 5 in Phase 3)
  • 142 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:57 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


I'm worried about a spike-protein based vaccine. The peak for antibody production after an infection is about 8 weeks. This is also the same time that people with auto-immune disorders that have had covid start showing other symptoms (the endothelial tissue damage that includes organ damage, heart attacks, and advanced rheumatoid arthritis). I worry that the spike-protein antibody may be as much Bad News as the virus itself. Is this a thing? Toxic antibodies?
People for whom it's been 'no big deal' might be forming (safer) antibodies to other proteins on the virus' surface. It might also explain some of the unreliable testing if the tests are only looking for that one antibody. Are any of the vaccine trials working on a different protein?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:01 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Thirty-one percent in the poll agreed with this evidence-free fantasy

There's a catchy name for this that escapes me at the moment, coined in a tongue-in-cheek discussion that compared the floor of Bush's popularity ratings and the percentage of the vote earned by Alan Keyes in his 2004 Senate race against Barack Obama. The gist is that roughly 30% of the American population (they pegged it at 29%) is just unavoidably way off the deep end for whatever reason and you work around it as best you can.

So, an alarming statistic but entirely normal.
posted by figurant at 1:02 PM on July 22 [14 favorites]


how are we doing on that HIV vaccine?
posted by robbyrobs at 1:03 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]




There's a catchy name for this that escapes me at the moment,

The Crazification Factor
posted by scorbet at 1:05 PM on July 22 [29 favorites]


As I understand it from taking the contact tracing training course, they don't care about testing asymptomatic people who've been in contact with someone who has COVID because where they're actually doing the tracing, at that point you're supposed to self-isolate and it doesn't matter to them whether you have it or not, in the practical sense, if you don't get sick. This is why the numbers are a mess, in part, from what I can gather...people aren't being counted because contract tracing isn't being done across the board and even when it is being done there's no requirement to test.
posted by wellred at 1:06 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


this is incredibly stupid

The position we're in is stupid, but the strategy here is to ration tests. Most people don't display symptoms, and there's not much they can do differently for you if you aren't displaying symptoms yet. There are no approved drugs to administer early on. For example, the emergency use authorization for remdesivir is only for "suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease".

In the meantime, everyone who is exposed has to assume they got it until enough time has passed.
posted by jedicus at 1:07 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


The Crazification Factor

Thank you! Completely ungooglable if you can't remember the name.
posted by figurant at 1:07 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Novavax executives could get big payday even if vaccine fails [Reuters]
One of the leading U.S. firms developing a coronavirus vaccine, Novavax Inc (NVAX.O), has awarded executives stock options that could pay out tens of millions of dollars even if its efforts fails Novavax CEO Stanley Erck and three other executives would earn the options, worth $101 million at Tuesday’s closing stock price, if the company’s vaccine candidate enters a mid-stage clinical trial – regardless of its eventual success, according to a company filing. The incentive plan, which has not been previously reported, allows the executives to start exercising the options a year after Novavax starts the so-called Phase 2 trial, as it expects to do soon. …
In a statement to Reuters, Novavax said the stock options were awarded to retain its top talent and recognize their intense effort. …
posted by robbyrobs at 1:19 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


That HCCI link is interesting. Nationally, it shows a peak decline in deaths of 6% (barely outside the confidence interval) in mid-March, then a spike in mid-April roughly corresponding to NY's peak. But some states like CA and WA show a 10%-20% decline in total deaths during most of the year. Maybe the strict lockdowns prevented a lot of non-COVID-related deaths?

Also, Arizona looks really bad right now.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:21 PM on July 22


I've been trying to schedule a test as well, and keep getting told no, despite being an essential worker. I am so scared that I (or someone I work with) is asymptomatic and of the risk I'm bringing to the vulnerable people in my life.

I wish I could afford private testing, and the time off work to get privately tested.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:23 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


Is this a thing? Toxic antibodies?

Autoimmune diseases can be caused by so-called autoantibodies, which attack the body's own proteins, triggering a larger immune response. Treatments often involve immunosuppressants of the kind given to organ transplant recipients, like cyclophosphamide, rituximab, azathioprine, and corticosteroids like dexamethasone, which is given to very seriously-ill Covid patients for that very reason.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:24 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]


Why the hell couldn't the president and his coterie set aside their job-protection and race-baiting long enough to do this -- or even to get out of the way of the people who could and would do it?

That would've meant setting aside their grift, which supersedes all other concerns.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:28 PM on July 22 [14 favorites]


"there's not much they can do differently for you if you aren't displaying symptoms yet"

I don't want healthcare, I want to know whether self-isolation is required.

"everyone who is exposed has to assume they got it until enough time has passed."


As a population, Americans have clearly failed at this. I might be able to convince my family to self-isolate because of possible exposure, but this isn't a viable thing for the U.S. population.

It's a tragic scandal we couldn't make adequate testing for this happen by now.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:35 PM on July 22 [11 favorites]


Whoops! Thanks to rikschell and Lexica for politely pointing out my inability to clearly state that 31% of Americans think we are overcounting, not undercounting, COVID-19 deaths here in the U.S. It’s a staggering figure.
posted by cheapskatebay at 1:37 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]




Also for those pissed off about the testing debacle, here's a great TWiV with Michael Mina advocating for daily cheap ($1) tests to detect active spreaders, even if they are not as sensitive as the RT-QPCR assay. This is the kind of thing that could actually make school and work attendance possible.
posted by benzenedream at 1:42 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


ProPublica put together a great explainer on "How to Understand COVID-19 Numbers."
posted by PhineasGage at 1:45 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


As a population, Americans have clearly failed at this. I might be able to convince my family to self-isolate because of possible exposure, but this isn't a viable thing for the U.S. population.

It's a tragic scandal we couldn't make adequate testing for this happen by now.


I 100% agree. And unfortunately at this point we are so far behind the curve that we won't get ahead for a very long time, if ever, absent an effective, widely-distributed vaccine. Early on we needed to roughly double our test output in order to catch up, but we took far too long to get to that point and premature reopenings, lack of mask orders, etc has made the problem much worse.

Now we would need to increase testing by almost 1000% to catch up. This is frankly impossible in any kind of near-term timescale, no matter how much money we threw at the problem. It's not a matter of running the test factories 24/7. It's not even a matter of building more machines to make tests. A 10x increase means we would have to build whole new factories to make the machines that make the machines that make the tests. And by the time we got those online, the virus will have kept spreading.

Our only viable moves at this point are mandatory masking and returning to closing down the non-essential economy. The lack of a federal mask mandate (explicit or implicit through funding control) will inexorably kill tens of thousands of people in a highly racially and class discriminatory manner. It is absolutely on purpose. The Republicans and the capitalist class have done the math and they see a net political and financial benefit to them in conducting mass murder by inaction.
posted by jedicus at 1:46 PM on July 22 [26 favorites]


Testing in AZ, as reported by my family who live there, is taking 11-14 days for results. And you have to have symptoms or live with someone who has had a positive test to even get tested.

Meanwhile, in OH, my family was tested without issue. No symptoms, walk-in clinic, covered by insurance, results in 3 business days.

This state-by-state discrepancy is infuriating, and it's not going to work. It isn't working.

At least more states are now mandating masks, OH included. It was county-by-county for us for a few weeks; who knew viruses could cross county lines?? The statewide mandate goes into effect tonight, I think. I've heard IN and MN are close to follow.
posted by cooker girl at 1:50 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Covid testing is only generally useful when the results are positive. A negative result only means that the subject did not have Covid *at the time of testing*, nothing more nothing less. I suppose a positive antibody test atleast can be construed to mean some amount of immunity but that is far from known as well. So, while it is good for NBA where the players are immediately isolated/quarantined after a negative test to prevent infection, it doesn't help much in rest of the general world unless it is adminsitered daily or some such.
posted by asra at 2:00 PM on July 22


a great TWiV with Michael Mina advocating for daily cheap ($1) tests to detect active spreaders, even if they are not as sensitive as the RT-QPCR assay. This is the kind of thing that could actually make school and work attendance possible.

There are 56.6 million K-12 students in the US and roughly as many essential workers. Did they give a sense of the practicality of producing, distributing, and administering ~110 million of these tests per day? I'm not saying it's impossible, but that would be on the scale of the number of diabetic test strips used per day (~30 million diabetics, who typically test 1-5 times per day depending). That's an enormous industry to build out in just a couple of months. I just don't see any chance that this administration could organize something like that even if it wanted to, and the states don't have the money.
posted by jedicus at 2:00 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


how are we doing on that HIV vaccine?

The International AIDS society has a really good article talking about how decades of HIV research has helped lay the ground work for the COVID vaccine push. I read some longer twitter thread that I can't pull up right now talking about why the viruses are very different in some important ways and why people are more optimistic about a COVID vaccine.
posted by jessamyn at 2:10 PM on July 22 [26 favorites]


One of the leading U.S. firms developing a coronavirus vaccine, Novavax Inc (NVAX.O), has awarded executives stock options that could pay out tens of millions of dollars even if its efforts fails Novavax CEO Stanley Erck and three other executives would earn the options, worth $101 million at Tuesday’s closing stock price.

Novavax said the stock options were awarded to retain its top talent and recognize their intense effort.

Oh, and just what key talent does CEO Stanley Erck bring to the intense scientific effort besides his business degree from the University of Chicago?
"Novavax has been awarded $1.6 billion by the federal government to complete late-stage clinical development."

Oh, I see their point.
posted by JackFlash at 2:15 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


My fear is that a spike-protein vaccine might be dangerous for those with autoimmune disorders, diabetes, HIV, heart and kidney problems, severe allergies, etc. and thus require 100% compliance for everyone else in order to work, including the "crazification factor," and yeah I do not see that happening ever. :(
posted by sexyrobot at 2:17 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I'm somewhat encouraged that pooled testing has (FINALLY) been approved. This lets multiple people's samples get mixed for a single test, and then a followup test is applied to everyone if the pooled test comes back positive. It's excellent for testing groups that you expect to have high correlation (eg, families, co-workers with prolonged physical proximity every day, etc), and should HOPEFULLY increase testing throughput significantly, as it gets picked up.

I'm in the East Bay, and we've been waiting for a housemate's test result for nearly a week now, I think, even after they had to spend a few days looking for a place to get tested in the first place. It's pretty horrifying...
posted by kaibutsu at 2:21 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


To sexyrobot's point, I wish there was more press about research into treatments (which must be also going on). I can't get the 'flu shot (I have had it twice, got severe hives both times, and have been advised not to try a third time), and I know I'm not alone. I hope there is also going to be some kind of Tamiflu-like medicine for treatment in those who can't/won't get the vaccine.
posted by anastasiav at 2:22 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I hope there is also going to be some kind of Tamiflu-like medicine for treatment in those who can't/won't get the vaccine.

The endless hydroxychloroquine battle is still ongoing and there are like a dozen other drugs that are being currently used as potential treatments, and the in-hospital treatment protocols are much better now than they were back in March, which has probably saved many lives.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:27 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Did they give a sense of the practicality of producing, distributing, and administering ~110 million of these tests per day? I'm not saying it's impossible, but that would be on the scale of the number of diabetic test strips used per day (~30 million diabetics, who typically test 1-5 times per day depending). That's an enormous industry to build out in just a couple of months.

RT-QPCR requirements: RT-QPCR machine, reverse transcriptase enzyme, Taq-like polymerase, oligo probes, sterile tubes, PCR buffers, sterile q-tips or sample containers
Lateral flow test : antibody, cardboard, nitrocellulose, color changing dye particles

This is the same technology used in pregnancy tests and users can just spit on the test strip or put it in their mouths, readout is in 15 minutes. They are much less complicated than diabetic test strips. The downside is they are not that sensitive, so there may be false negatives. The main point is that active spreaders are making 10000x more virus than RT-QPCR can detect. The diagnostic tests do not need to detect people with 1 RNA molecule per ml; they are either too early or too late in the cycle to be infectious. If you can test daily, and the sensitivity is good enough to catch active spreaders, it doesn't matter if you lose people on the lower ends of the tails when they aren't making much virus.
posted by benzenedream at 2:27 PM on July 22 [23 favorites]


Lateral flow test : antibody, cardboard, nitrocellulose, color changing dye particles

This is the same technology used in pregnancy tests and users can just spit on the test strip or put it in their mouths, readout is in 15 minutes.


That makes sense, and self-administration would be essential. But again for a sense of scale there are about 20 million pregnancy tests produced in the US each year, so we would have to build factories and a distribution network for 2000x as many if the goal is daily tests for students and in-person workers.

Obviously this is the kind of thing where some is better than none, and I don't at all mean to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But universal (or anywhere close to universal) testing is likely infeasible. At more realistic levels of production it could be used for testing a random sample of high risk workers, though.
posted by jedicus at 2:42 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Right now we're super-highly prioritizing tests which are very accurate, but that is increasingly seen as a mistake. What we should be prioritizing is fast with a side order of cheap.

Basically a test which can immediately tell you if you probably do or do not have the rona is orders of magnitude better than a test which can definitively tell you if you do or do not have the rona... but takes 5-7 days to return a result.

But there's a lot of institutional inertia biased towards accuracy above all else.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on July 22 [14 favorites]


I saw a Facebook post from a "friend", who was questioning the numbers from Texas. I called him out, knowing he is a Republican/Libertarian sort, expressing disbelief that he was quibbling about numbers being reported, given their Govenor's actions. He responded back, saying he was not being political, but whattabout the discrepancies in those numbers...

I suggested that perhaps he was "just asking questions", that going into the weeds on specific numbers was akin to denialism, and asking what he was trying to accomplish by posting this to Facebook, and what he thought was "really going on"?

Pretty sure he is in that 31%, and haven't gotten a response yet.
posted by Windopaene at 2:44 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


Ghostride The Whip's analysis from 2011 will haunt me for the rest of my days, and are is as germane as ever

"The people that believe wrestling is real are called marks. They're the ones that would be horrified if they saw Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper at the airport together because they're mortal enemies and also one was totally hospitalized after Wrestlemania. And the way politics used to work is you'd go back to your district for the election and rail against the treasonous socialists or the poor-hating fascists and once you were elected, you'd get into office and chuckle with the rest of the press and elite about the rubes and marks back home that actually bought this shit, then get on with the business of governing.

However, in the last couple of decades, this spin doctor class has gotten so good at what it does that the marks are now so goddamn terrified that they're in charge and, like, the marks are starting to run for occupy office. It's like having a wrestler who ACTUALLY BELIEVES the fiction and doesn't pull his punches because he really thinks he's fighting noted terrorist The Iron Sheik rather than a guy playing a role. Which is why the elites all seem baffled by this because, jesus, you're not actually supposed to believe it.

Unfortunately, the monster they've created and continually poked has gotten into such a frenzy it's broken free from its chains and storming across the metaphorical countryside and some members continue poking it because they make their money by keeping the rubes riled up and angry......"
posted by lalochezia at 2:44 PM on July 22 [106 favorites]


But again for a sense of scale there are about 20 million pregnancy tests produced in the US each year, so we would have to build factories and a distribution network for 2000x as many if the goal is daily tests for students and in-person workers.

The link under "lateral flow test" goes to a manufacturer of such tests; dipstick tests are used daily to ensure food supplies are not contaminated in many industries. Pregnancy tests are just the consumer facing tests that everyone is familiar with. Once you make the giant batch of antibodies, the rest is not as hard to scale up.

As to cost, we are setting fire to $1T dollars every few months and spending billions each on dozens of vaccines that we don't know will work; $350 million per week is chump change compared to that.
posted by benzenedream at 2:47 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


If I'm reading this correctly, in some states, there are not excess deaths, but less deaths. I'm assuming for a state like California it's because less people are driving so there are less car accidents?
posted by chaz at 2:55 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


But universal (or anywhere close to universal) testing is likely infeasible.

Infeasible how? We've already spent $3 trillion just on mitigation measures and about to spend another $3 trillion because we haven't yet gotten a grip on the pandemic.

That's almost $20,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. And we've had 6 months to gear up for it. There is no physical or economic excuse that we don't have the capability of testing everyone every two weeks.

It isn't infeasible. It's just incompetence.
posted by JackFlash at 2:56 PM on July 22 [26 favorites]


Windopaene, I live in Texas. My best friend works for a shipping company and got tested for the virus on Monday, July 13. Her entire work shift went to get tested after 3 Covid-positive coworkers near the end of June turned into 27 active Covid cases by the second week of July.

She still has not received her test results as of 5pm on July 22, 2020. She is now being forced to quarantine without pay and several others were written up or fired for refusing to come back and work until their test results come in.

Fortunately, she filed a union complaint so she is protected right now from termination. But many people with young kids are going to work side by side with people who have active Covid infections every night. Each shift to unload the planes requires 40 workers to complete. There is no AC inside a dormant plane, and temps regularly get above 100 in the cargo holds.

While there is a mask requirement in Texas, the company allows people to go without them during work shifts because there is zero legal enforcement of this mandate. Especially in areas that are closed off to the general public, and employees are forbidden to have their phones on their persons (which means there's no way to document mask-wearing violations or people coughing on their coworkers because they're actively ill).

I pray on a daily basis that all of us manage to survive this mess until January 21, 2021 -- our first real chance for competent governance in the near-term future.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:03 PM on July 22 [23 favorites]


The whole point in shutting down the country for 4-8 weeks was supposed to being surging capacity for everything we needed. The materials in order to get a proper picture of infection, timely results on mass testing, and recruiting a contact tracing army to get people into isolation when they had been in contact with someone else infected. Then we could reopen the economy while curbing any outbreaks at lightning speed.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:04 PM on July 22 [28 favorites]


In NYC it's currently taking 7-14 business days to receive test results.

Wouldn't it be better, from a test-trace-isolate perspective, to throw 80% of these tests in the trash and get a 1-2 day delay on the tests that remain? Tests with fast results allow contact tracing before further spread. Week-long delayed tests don't. Does a large number of long-delayed tests have more value than doing no tests at all?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:05 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


$350 million per week is chump change compared to that.

I absolutely agree, and I think there's a great use case even if universal testing isn't feasible. The cost isn't at all the issue. I only asked about the "practicality of producing, distributing, and administering" hundreds of millions of tests per day. Administering seems easy enough, since even a child can self-administer a spit test or mouth swab test.

Production and distribution are the problem. Sigma Aldrich says "hundreds of millions of lateral flow tests are used each year". Even assuming that it's actually a billion per year, even testing 5% of essential workers and K-12 students 5 days per week would require 1.4 billion tests per year. More than doubling production of an entire industry is not a small task.

It isn't infeasible. It's just incompetence.

I agree. But now we're at the point that incompetence has led to infeasibility, at least in the near term.
posted by jedicus at 3:05 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Our only viable moves at this point are mandatory masking and returning to closing down the non-essential economy. The lack of a federal mask mandate (explicit or implicit through funding control) will inexorably kill tens of thousands of people in a highly racially and class discriminatory manner. It is absolutely on purpose. The Republicans and the capitalist class have done the math and they see a net political and financial benefit to them in conducting mass murder by inaction.

Trump was maskless in the lobby of his D.C. hotel. The city plans to investigate. (WaPo / Houston Chron reprint)
The president’s maskless appearance at Trump International Hotel this week — in apparent defiance of D.C. coronavirus regulations — has caught the attention of local authorities, who say they plan to investigate the hotel’s compliance with city rules. [...] President Trump did not wear a mask while greeting GOP congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn on Monday at his downtown Washington hotel, according to video of their interaction. Nor did multiple guests standing near one another in the lobby, the video shows. [...]

ABC News reported Tuesday that guests at Trump properties have repeatedly flouted face-covering mandates. A Facebook invitation for a birthday party scheduled Saturday at the D.C. hotel featured a “NO MASKS ALLOWED” disclaimer, the network reported. [...] An inspector from the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which fines businesses with liquor licenses that don’t comply with city regulations, visited the hotel on Wednesday afternoon. [...] Trump has recently softened his long-standing resistance and hostility to the use of masks to reduce coronavirus transmission. On Monday, he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask and called it patriotic — hours before he showed up at his hotel without one.
posted by katra at 3:26 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Up here in Canada I feel like we really haven't done that great a job addressing and/or containing the virus in a lot of ways (and certain provincial Premiers - the Conservative ones, of course - seem to be envious of the American model), but I just looked it up and yesterday we reported 4 deaths across the entire country, while the U.S. reported 1039. It beggars my imagination, but not as much as the fact that anyone who lives there could continue to think Trump has done a good job on this. I'm so sorry for the tens of millions of Americans whose lives are being held hostage and endangered by this lunatic administration and its enablers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:27 PM on July 22 [35 favorites]




Testing backlogs are sadly to be expected. A result of elementary queuing theory, Little’s Law, shows that once a resource, such as testing, exceeds about 80% utilization that backlogs will explode. The only way to prevent backlogs is to have excess capacity. Places with short turnarounds have excess capacity locally, but most places are overwhelmed.

It isn’t clear that test results delayed over a week have much utility, but the only solution to reduce those delays, short of increasing capacity, is to ration the tests by prioritizing who can get them.

Increasing testing capacity is pretty difficult since it requires more equipment, reagents, trained staff and supporting organization. We should definitely be building that up, but even if we had the will to do so it’s challenging.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:48 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Increasing testing capacity is pretty difficult since it requires more equipment, reagents, trained staff and supporting organization. We should definitely be building that up, but even if we had the will to do so it’s challenging.

Or, using pooled testing, which uses fewer tests for more people.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:53 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Good post, ty. The SA column is revealing.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:59 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


If I'm reading this correctly, in some states, there are not excess deaths, but less deaths.

Interesting. I wish they just plotted the 2014-2019 years instead of an average and 95% confidence interval. Five lines are visually digestible and I don't know how meaningful a 95% confidence interval is when applied to five data points per day. California looks weird in their graph, but maybe it also looks a lot like, say, 2018.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:04 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I hope there is also going to be some kind of Tamiflu-like medicine for treatment in those who can't/won't get the vaccine.

We can hope. But the problem is that effective antivirals are much harder to create than effective vaccines. While Tamiflu and the other flu antivirals aren't useless, and they will probably have some place in managing a future flu pandemic (which, when it arrives, we will hopefully, as a planet, respond to properly, unlike this shitshow), there is, at best, weak evidence that they reduce hospitalisations or prevent severe complications of influenza. Investing significant research capacity in trying to produce antivirals for SARS-CoV-2 is probably just not a great use of resources.

We need herd immunity to protect the vulnerable, and that will almost certainly only happen if we have compulsory vaccination for everyone medically capable.
posted by howfar at 4:09 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Agreed on pooled testing, though someone pointed out upthread that it only helps when positivity is low enough.

I may have missed it in the discussion, but surely the testing backlog negatively effects testing accuracy as well. It has to be better to test a fresh sample than one weeks old.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:11 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Colleges Are Getting Ready to Blame Their Students (Julia Marcus, Jessica Gold, Atlantic, Jul. 21, 2020)
As campuses reopen without adequate testing, universities fault young people for a lack of personal responsibility.
With new coronavirus cases on the rise in most states, the notion that universities can reopen safely for in-person instruction in the fall is questionable, maybe even fantastical. According to a soon-to-be-published study led by Yale and Harvard researchers, outbreak control would require testing all students every two or three days—a tall order when the federal government is blocking the funding needed to do so. And universities that do intend to screen students for the virus are creating those plans without federal guidance: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, somewhat mysteriously, has failed to recommend testing for students without symptoms or exposure.
posted by katra at 4:15 PM on July 22 [13 favorites]


If you're in the UK, it looks like the Oxford vaccine trial is recruiting volunteers.

Some of the testing is in my town. I'm thinking about maybe signing up.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:15 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Oops. Never mind. Their screening form ruled me out. I'm guessing either I'm in the wrong age group or checking "Yes" to "Have you ever had a severe allergic reaction?" rang an alarm bell somewhere. :P
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:25 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


US labs buckle amid testing surge; world virus cases top 15M (AP)
Some labs are taking weeks to return COVID-19 results, exacerbating fears that asymptomatic people could be spreading the virus if they don’t isolate while they wait. [...] [Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other public health experts have called on states to publicly report testing turnaround times, calling it an essential metric to measure progress against the virus. [...] Guidelines issued by the CDC recommend that states lifting virus restrictions have testing turnaround time under four days. The agency recently issued new recommendations against retesting most COVID-19 patients to confirm they’ve recovered.

[...] Health experts assembled by the Rockefeller Foundation said last week that the U.S. should scale up to testing 30 million Americans per week by the fall, when school reopenings and flu season are expected to further exacerbate the virus’ spread. The group acknowledged that will not be possible with the current laboratory-based testing system.
posted by katra at 4:26 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


The saliva testing being done in AZ by ASU is still qPCR, but doesn't require a swab. The page I found about it though was posted a few weeks ago, so I'm not sure if their claimed 1-2 day turn around for high exposure people is still accurate (or whom they're counting as high exposure). I do know some university employees with known exposure have been able to get results quickly, but I don't know about their general public tests.

Seems like they do also use swabs, at least for some people, in order to calibrate their saliva test against a more traditional swab qPCR. Saliva testing is at the very least more comfortable, but it'd be great to know if it's less resource-using (beyond just not needing the long cotton swabs) or more deployable.
posted by nat at 4:43 PM on July 22


What about factorial pooled testing? Three samples from each of 64 people, grouped into 8 tranches and combined, grouped elsewise and combined, and one more grouping combined? 24 tests and everybody knows yes or no? Or did I miss and you need another re-grouping? Still only 32 tests.

More paperwork overhead, but seems like a pretty solid result. Better living through mathematics?
posted by notsnot at 4:51 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


More than doubling production of an entire industry is not a small task.

Not a small task, but it seems like it could be manageable. If some facilities aren’t working 24/7 at full output, if some other tests they make are less urgent, etc, it could be a matter of fully utilizing existing capacity.
posted by snofoam at 4:54 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


What about factorial pooled testing? Three samples from each of 64 people, grouped into 8 tranches and combined, grouped elsewise and combined, and one more grouping combined? 24 tests and everybody knows yes or no? Or did I miss and you need another re-grouping? Still only 32 tests.


Trump’s health officials are trying to speed up testing. Here’s why their plan won’t work.

But the U.S. outbreak is now so out of control that health experts and testing labs say it won’t work here. In areas where the virus is widespread, many pools would test positive — requiring additional tests of each person in those pools.

“I think we’d be in pool testing hell because you would have so many positives showing up,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Barack Obama’s HHS secretary. “Pool testing I think is not going to be helpful until we get to the point where the virus load is way down.”

posted by Comrade_robot at 4:57 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


Is pooled testing really that helpful though when a positive is more than a rare event?

I (among other jobs) sample things for radioactivity, and sometimes have hundreds or thousands of samples of paint chips or concrete or whatever. If my limit is X, and I expect them all to be below the limit, it's way, way faster to combine them all and count them at once. If the total is less than X, then no sample can be more than X. Huge win.

But if the total is more than X, I have to go unpackage and segregate those sample and count them individually to see where my problem is. That's a giant pain in the ass even when it's possible. It's often easier to just resample everything.

I'm not sure I'd want to be called in a day or so and told to come back for a resample because they gambled and lost on the pooling strategy. I guess they could do two samples and pool one of them, with one as a backup.
posted by ctmf at 5:00 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Or what Comrade_robot said.
posted by ctmf at 5:01 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]




okay but also optimizing pooled testing to minimize number of tests used is such a fun little algorithm design problem, if i were teaching algorithms and if that algorithms class had a stats prereq i would totally put together a homework problem around this theme.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:10 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Pooled tests of people with high covariance helps, though. If you test a household, it's ok to throw them all in quarantine and not test individually if their pool comes back positive. It's a lower accuracy, higher throughput approach than requiring a second test, but avoids gumming up the works if the prevalence is too high.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:16 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


(I think this is a step further than the FDA approval, though.)
posted by kaibutsu at 5:18 PM on July 22


Pre-print PDF article in Nature:
SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity in cases of COVID-19 and SARS, and uninfected controls
That is, people who were infected with SARS 17 years ago show immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
posted by ShooBoo at 5:20 PM on July 22 [24 favorites]


I'm assuming for a state like California it's because less people are driving so there are less car accidents?

Less driving: fewer accidents.
Fewer parties, concerts, raves, conventions: fewer drinking/drug overdoses, fewer "fell off the roof" incidents, fewer people trampled or suffocated in crowds.
Bars closed: no bar fights.
Restaurants closed: fewer food allergy attacks.
Fewer people at work: fewer machinery accidents.
No kids at school: no playground accidents.
Fewer social interactions: less contagion of everything else that can kill people.

...and so on. All of the deaths caused by "rush everywhere, do things in crowds" are down. It's not a sustainable change, but we can take a solid look at the safety problems with many areas of modern life, in ways that weren't imaginable last year.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:24 PM on July 22 [13 favorites]


ShooBoo: that's huge if it gets verified.
posted by bumpkin at 5:29 PM on July 22


Trump tried to blame Black Lives Matter protests for the coronavirus surge. Data doesn’t support his claim. (Philip Bump, WaPo)
A working paper released last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research found “no evidence that urban protests reignited COVID-19 case growth during the more than three weeks following protest onset.” Nor are the states where cases surged the most ones in which the largest protests occurred. The eight states that added the most new daily cases relative to the daily average on the day Floyd died were Montana, Alaska, Idaho, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Oregon and Arizona. While there were protests in each of those states, most were fairly small. [...]

It’s admittedly often hard to trace the source of these outbreaks with specificity. [...] Shortly after Trump spoke to the press, though, another expert weighed in. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, was interviewed by Fox News’s Bret Baier. She noted that the recent surge was unlike the surge that engulfed the Northeast in March and April. “This time we saw wide virus spread across counties, across rural areas, across small metros and big metros, all the way across the South, Southwest and West almost simultaneously,” she said. “So this is an event that we think can be traced to Memorial Day and opening up and people traveling again and being on vacations.” The same mention of Memorial Day — but none of the protests. Of course, she’s not running for reelection.
posted by katra at 5:39 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


A recent Axios-Ipsos poll finding the US public is increasingly skeptical of the Covid-19 death toll

I've seen this first-hand. It was based on a combination of two things, 1) a conspiracy-like suspicion that doctors/hospitals were "reimbursed" for reporting cases, and 2) a real-life story (in Texas, I believe) where a city had to revise its count downwards.

The latter case, which "proved" overcounting, was actually about a misunderstanding in CDC requirements for different test types, and required two paragraphs of explanation to detangle the subtleties, which were naturally lost on the person making the claim.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:48 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


According to the CDC, accidents are about 6% of the national death toll, even if all of them went away it wouldn't explain those graphs.

The CDC's Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 has lots of ways to slice the data, one is "Change in the Number of Deaths by Cause". It shows a big spike (30%-45%) in Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and diabetes. That's interesting.

But I don't see the decrease in California deaths I see on the HCCI site. There's a caveat in the notes ("This method is useful in detecting when jurisdictions may have higher than expected numbers of deaths, but cannot be used to determine whether a given jurisdiction has fewer deaths than expected given that the data are provisional")
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:04 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Strategies like Fibonacci pooling are great in theory, but assume a level of organization that’s beyond what can be achieved in America’s fragmented and profit-driven healthcare system. And that’s even before taking into account the fact that the federal response has been hobbled from the get-go. If we learn anything from this debacle it should be that America’s healthcare system needs a complete overhaul.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:13 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


okay but also optimizing pooled testing to minimize number of tests used is such a fun little algorithm design problem,

The unfortunate real world problem is that every manipulation you do with a liquid handler introduces another chance for cross-contamination especially with PCR based systems. If an 10d active infection has 10000x more virus than a 2d old infection you only need aerosol volumes from the 10d sample to mimic a 2d sample. These are all well-known problems in the PCR testing world but methods to mediate them cost extra time, money, or controls. As others have pointed out, pooled testing has the greatest advantage when prevalence is low which is no longer the case in the US.
posted by benzenedream at 6:19 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]


I'm stunned to hear about rationed tests and long turnarounds. My wife and I have been PCR-tested four times (our governor is basically encouraging us to get tested, retested, and keep on using the testing capacity we have). One of the tests was part of a study (dual PCR/antibody testing), and the other three were free state-supported testing sites. Two were in Louisville, KY, and one was in a tiny town in the south central part of the state. In all cases we got our results within 72 hours, one of them even over the Memorial Day weekend.

I don't know if Kentucky is unusually on-the-ball here or what (we usually aren't, but Governor Beshear is pretty on top of things but bowed to pressure to reopen too early, and this week it looks like we're reaping a post-July-Fourth shitstorm) but here tests are plentiful, easy to get, and processed quickly.
posted by jackbishop at 6:23 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


So on June 7 I mused about the lose-lose position I saw with my city re-opening up with 50 cases/day . . . well, now the daily case count shows Newsom's March-May shutdown wasn't an overreaction, not at all.

My stupid local government, May 27:

"In reality, we're better off not saying anything because [Newsom]'s lost control and sticking it in his face that 'Hey, you've lost control. We're going to do what we want to do,'" [Chairman] Mendes said. "We're going to do what we want to do anyway."
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:26 PM on July 22


It shows a big spike (30%-45%) in Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and diabetes. That's interesting.

My friend's grandmother, early 80s with some mild dementia but otherwise in reasonable health, developed a UTI in April and had to be admitted to hospital. Because of COVID guidelines, none of her family members were allowed into the hospital to be with her.

If you've ever known an 80-year-old with dementia and a UTI you probably know what comes next. Without any recognizable people or context around her she had a nearly immediate, catastrophic decline in cognitive functioning; she stopped eating; she stopped walking; she died with nobody by her side.

COVID's death toll probably includes more people like her than we'll ever know.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:31 PM on July 22 [72 favorites]


katra > Trump was maskless in the lobby of his D.C. hotel. The city plans to investigate. (WaPo / Houston Chron reprint).

Earlier this morning in the previous Trump/Covid thread, ZeusHumms also linked to the same fundraising event: Trump Held A Fundraiser Mask-Free Hours After Praising Himself For Finally Wearing A Mask (Cristina Cabrera, TPM; 07/22/2020).

In Trump's first 'new' Coronavirus briefing yesterday (C-SPAN, 7/21/2020), he explained he's now carrying a mask (and took it out of his pocket) to wear whenever he feels it's necessary.

Obviously there are times when Trump's on his own turf (his hotel, the White House, at rallies, etc.) — when he takes it off: let others beware and steer clear of him. Better he should wear a mask at all times when he's around other people, tested or not, but at least he's making a small gesture.
posted by cenoxo at 6:32 PM on July 22


It really pains me that Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer's plan (in short, ramp up testing and test nearly everybody every 2 weeks until we have a vaccine) came out in mid April and was functionally ignored. So, so many lives could have been saved had we at least started down that path.

If you're curious, there's a good interview with Romer on Healthcare Triage where he answers questions about the plan.
posted by Cogito at 6:41 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]


I'm in a city, county, and state that all have high-functioning and proactive governments and public health departments. This is a center for medical research and innovation -- there isn't any lack of MD/PhDs in town, and at least one of the leading vaccines is being developed here. But the supply shortage for the tests means that testing is still being rationed (basically, if you don't have symptoms, you don't get a test), and while a few of the labs can turn test results around really fast, most of them are taking a lot longer.

It's not quite right to call it a "national failure," though that is the outcome -- this is a specifically determined set of policies and decisions implemented by the current administration. States are mostly doing the best they can, but without the horsepower of the federal government, the results are abysmal and embarrassing at the national scale.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:58 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


America's problem was never the quality of its healthcare professional or research facilities, especially in wealthier areas. If you can afford it, American healthcare is as a good as or better than anything on the planet. The problem is, as it always was, affordability and equity. Related to the current pandemic, it certainly doesn't help that American healthcare remains fragmented and largely oriented towards preventing disease after it occurs. One of the working class counties outside Philly didn't even have a board of health at the start of the pandemic.

That being said, I'm glad that This Week in Virology Podcast about testing is circulating. The expert they interviewed seemed to think his suggestions were feasible, and he likely knows more about the logistics than anyone commenting here. I'm all for arguing that radical reforms to our healthcare system and government would help prevent future failed pandemic responses such as this one, but right now we have the healthcare system we have, and we have the President and Senate we have until January. I wish organizations and state governments would stop using the lack of coherent national response as an excuse and instead start listening to these suggestions. As I wrote, the experts seemed to think they were feasible, and they would know better than anyone else. It's certainly cheaper than shutting down the economy for the next 1 to 2 years and treating the millions of people who would catch SARS-COV 2 otherwise. To me, it's also better than scapegoating teens and 20 somethings. They are going to be affected by the economic and social aftermath of this more than anyone.
posted by eagles123 at 7:13 PM on July 22 [11 favorites]


One of the working class counties outside Philly didn't even have a board of health at the start of the pandemic.

Still doesn't, we've been using a neighboring county's board of health on a contract basis since the start of the pandemic. Local Democrats had been pushing for a county board of health for many, many years, but until 2019 Republicans controlled the county government and kept killing it. Democrats finally won control in the 2018 election, and started work on finally creating a county board of health as an early legislative priority, but of course that takes time, and COVID-19 hit before they'd managed to get it passed and set up. I believe there's now a plan to finally have one set up sometime next year. WHYY has more information.
posted by biogeo at 7:39 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


At the beginning of this I posted about an ER doc that I'd just been on a date with and was really excited about. He's got COVID. Is 47. I'm not sure how to pretend like everything is okay anymore.
posted by lextex at 7:47 PM on July 22 [31 favorites]


Better he should wear a mask at all times when he's around other people, tested or not, but at least he's making a small gesture.

No credit for him from me. “Making a small gesture” in the face of what he’s wrought in this country means less than nothing at this point, and I’d bet folding money that the only reason he’s doing even that much is that he knows his poll numbers are in the crapper.
posted by holborne at 8:04 PM on July 22 [50 favorites]


The White House’s arguments against Trump wearing a mask are severely flawed (WaPo Analysis)
Asked why the president has so often been reticent to wear a mask, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued Tuesday it was because of how frequently he was tested for the virus. [...] In other words, since the White House is confident he's not infected and since the point is to prevent someone from infecting others, no mask needed. [...] Regardless, the White House has been consistent. Trump generally doesn’t need a mask, because he’s tested all the time, as are the people around him.

That, however, is not the protection it seems, for him or for those he comes into contact with. I spoke by phone with Lisa Maragakis, an infectious-disease physician at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the senior director of infection prevention within the Johns Hopkins Health System. She said that, among other things, a negative coronavirus test is by itself no guarantee that someone isn’t contagious to others. “We have certainly seen individuals that have clinical symptoms, for instance, and we know that they look like they have covid-19,” the disease the virus causes, she said, “and yet repeated tests are negative. And we do believe that that person has the disease and is capable of passing on the infection.”

“In those instances, we have been able to later recover the virus or to recover the virus from other means of testing,” she added, “like getting a sample from lower in their lungs.” The example she gave was explicitly setting aside questions about the reliability of the tests themselves. [...] There isn’t a hard and fast timeline on which people are infected with the virus and then are either contagious or able to be affirmatively tested for it. [...] It can take from two to 14 days before an infected person who is contagious or can be positively confirmed to have contracted the virus, meaning that someone could be in contact with an exposed person, test negative repeatedly for days afterward and yet still have contracted the virus — again, setting aside unusual circumstances like the one described by Maragakis.
posted by katra at 8:55 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


... We can measure excess moralities over time. ...

Can't have too much of that clean living, now ...
posted by NotLost at 10:22 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


Cafeteria worker in White House complex tests positive (WaPo live blog)
A cafeteria worker in the White House complex tested positive for the coronavirus, which prompted the dining facility to close due to exposure. The employee worked in Ike’s Eatery in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, according to CNN and NBC News. The building houses the offices of the vice president, White House senior officials and the National Security Council. An email to administration staff members warned that the cafeteria would close but that “there’s no reason for panic or alarm” due to precautions taken including mask-wearing, CNN reported.
posted by katra at 10:32 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


This is a center for medical research and innovation -- there isn't any lack of MD/PhDs in town, and at least one of the leading vaccines is being developed here.

I live 2 miles from Emory University Hospital and the CDC. And yet our governor is suing our mayor for requiring masks, and our governor was also the last person in the world to learn that asymptomatic people can be contagious. The cognitive dissonance when I wake up every day is painful.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:34 AM on July 23 [26 favorites]


AZ now has around a two week turn around time for results. Due to a contract signed with Banner, who now owns the hospital that University of Arizona's med school is housed, UA is barred from offering services that "compete" with their contracted testing center, Sonora Quest. My lab, a clinical genetic facility, is not allowed legally to offer covid testing. We have a FDA validated test that the clinical team got validated in incredibly quick time, they worked 12+ hour days and weekends to get us ready to offer it. I am so furious. This is insane. There are lawyers doing lawyery things to help us, but I hope that when this is over people get tried for war crimes.
posted by lizjohn at 6:38 AM on July 23 [58 favorites]


There are lawyers doing lawyery things to help us, but I hope that when this is over people get tried for war crimes.

This is one of the problems with America and its mix of state and local federalism. There’s not one reckoning to be had, there are tens of thousands. If someone screws up the buck stops at the person who can order it and can’t be countermanded. Those people are ridiculously numerous in the US.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:29 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


but I just looked it up and yesterday we reported 4 deaths across the entire country, while the U.S. reported 1039.

Canada has roughly one tenth the population of the USA, so in per capita terms, you may want to raise our toll to forty. In other words, we had one-twenty-sixth the number of deaths.

I raise this point because as recently as early May, I guess, which is when I stopped tracking things, the USA death toll was more like three to four times as bad Canada's. Bad obviously but not off the meter bad.

Words start to fail me past this point beyond an obvious, "what the fuck happened?" to which I already know the answer anyway. You reopened too soon, America. Blame it on, Trump, I guess. Or more particularly, his groundless optimism, bound up, of course, in a veteran grifter's exploitation of populism.

If I've learned anything from all of this, it's that a pandemic laughs long and loud at optimism.
posted by philip-random at 7:40 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Republicans scrap Trump’s demand for payroll tax cut as they cobble together draft coronavirus bill (WaPo / MSN reprint)
“It won’t be in the base bill,” Mnuchin conceded. He said the decision was made to instead focus on sending another round of stimulus checks to Americans, because that approach would put money in people’s pockets more quickly. [...] Democrats and Republicans had already supported sending another round of stimulus checks, and now that idea appears to be one of a few areas where there is bipartisan support. [...] Republicans have struggled to unite behind a single plan, and their infighting comes as coronavirus cases surge in much of the nation. The number of covid-related deaths has also risen markedly in recent days.

[...] Trump said Wednesday that the economy was making a remarkable recovery, but economic data has not supported this. The stock market does remain high, in part because of enormous interventions by the Federal Reserve, but the labor market is still in very bad shape, with 20 million to 30 million people unemployed. And the situation appears to be worsening.
posted by katra at 7:47 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


This is one of the problems with America and its mix of state and local federalism. There’s not one reckoning to be had, there are tens of thousands. If someone screws up the buck stops at the person who can order it and can’t be countermanded. Those people are ridiculously numerous in the US.

Or, more accurately during this national crisis:

Trump faces criticism over lack of national plan on coronavirus (The Hill, May 16, 2020)
Public health experts, business leaders and current administration officials say the scattershot approach puts states at risk and leaves the U.S. vulnerable to a potentially open-ended wave of infections this fall.
'States duking it out for supply': Lack of federal plan leads to coronavirus testing delays (USA Today, Jul 18, 2020, updated Jul. 20, 2020)
"It's the Wild, Wild West," said Blair Holladay, CEO of American Society for Clinical Pathology. "There's been no national testing strategy ... so states are duking it out for supply chains. That's a problem." [...] "It's the failure of a federal strategy that led us to this point," said [Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a former health commissioner for Baltimore and the state of Maryland], a professor and vice dean at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Financial incentives would help to get more tests done quickly. Additional funding to guarantee the market would also help to grow capacity for testing over time." [...] Whatever the solution, epidemiologist Brian Castrucci called shifting testing responsibility to states the "worst misuse of federalism ever" and "a national leadership disaster."
posted by katra at 7:53 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Due to a contract signed with Banner, who now owns the hospital that University of Arizona's med school is housed

There's a lot of blame to go around for this shitshow, but a lot of it should be heaped on the assholes who have gradually privatized a huge chunk of US hospitals.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:59 AM on July 23 [22 favorites]


There are lawyers doing lawyery things to help us, but I hope that when this is over people get tried for war crimes.

The essence of the American mindset: Everything is fucked, largely due to elected officials basically carrying out the crazed platforms they were elected on and our only hope is that... somehow we can put someone in prison for breaking a law that doesn't exist?
posted by atrazine at 8:03 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


somehow we can put someone in prison for breaking a law that doesn't exist?

Traditionally when the law lets incompetent elites get away with murder through completely legal indifference the resolution has been some sort of separation of elite heads from bodies.

I heartily support things like democracy, the rule of law, and the abolition of the death penalty but I gotta tell you, this whole incompetent fucks who only sought power for power's sake being obstinant and failing to help the people who have given them responsibility and depend on them for leadership and competent governance is really testing my resolve.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:47 AM on July 23 [13 favorites]


Also, this isn't only on Trump. If this was happening on Obama's watch there'd still be governors and counties willing to let their citizens die rather than accept help from the (Democratic) feds. Then they would loudly blame Obama for the deaths on whatever media gives them a platform.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:49 AM on July 23 [9 favorites]


I dunno, there's precedent for capital punishment coexisting with valuing democracy/rule of law/human life/punishing mass-murderers (Nuremberg).
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:53 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


COVID's death toll probably includes more people like her than we'll ever know.

Absolutely. My wife is a primary care physician. There's been a huge shift in both doctors and patients in terms of how they handle a wide variety of conditions - the example she gave was with regard to how aggressively one decides to pursue cancer treatment. The more risk factors the patient has (general risk factors, not covid-specific), the less likely you'll see aggressive treatment.

And we also know that a lot of folks with chronic conditions have been staying away from both ERs and primary care providers because they're scared, meaning when (or if) they do present their situation is a lot more severe.

The deaths caused by covid go way beyond the people who die from covid.
posted by nickmark at 9:13 AM on July 23 [30 favorites]


"Financial incentives would help to get more tests done quickly. Additional funding to guarantee the market would also help to grow capacity for testing over time."

Capitalism and markets are the absolute worst way to fight a pandemic. Capitalism and markets are the absolute worst way to run a healthcare system.
posted by JackFlash at 9:53 AM on July 23 [47 favorites]


The world needs a 'people's vaccine' for coronavirus, not a big-pharma monopoly (Helen Clark and Winnie Byanyima, Guardian Opinion)
AstraZeneca and others should not own a lucrative patent on a medicine that is needed by poor as well as rich nations
Once a safe and effective vaccine is discovered, the only barrier to providing sufficient doses should be the world’s manufacturing capacity. But other artificial barriers stand in the way. The intellectual property laws that grant pharmaceutical companies the exclusive rights to produce a particular medicine for a certain number of years are intended to reward investment and innovation into new medicines. These intellectual property rights are often abused and create monopolies, and in the case of the Covid-19 vaccine they threaten to limit the supply, causing deadly shortages and unnecessary delays.

Granting one company exclusive rights to the science, knowhow and intellectual property of a coronavirus vaccine will prevent us from getting the billions of doses that the world needs. No private company, however committed it might be to delivering a vaccine, should have a monopoly over this public resource. A global pandemic is not the time to artificially ration the supply of a medicine because of failed ideas about the sanctity of intellectual property. Nor should the market be protected simply to serve the interests of pharmaceutical corporations. [...] Current distribution plans for the Oxford vaccine are an alarming reminder of what happens when you leave a public resource in the hands of a single company. Around 300m doses have been promised for developing countries by the end of this year – a welcome step, but one that pales in comparison with the 400m doses that will go to the US and UK.
posted by katra at 10:06 AM on July 23 [14 favorites]


As aspersioncast notes, the privatization - and agglomeration - of hospitals is a major issue underlying so much of what is wrong in our health care system, much more than the insurance companies who get most of the heat. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are four main hospital networks: UCSF (public), Kaiser (HMO), Dignity (Catholic), and Sutter Health. The Sutter system is technically a not-for-profit - actually the the descendant of a medical system founded as a response to the 1918 pandemic(!) - but now it's basically a loathsome, self-enriching vehicle for its executives.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:51 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


The CDC's Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 has lots of ways to slice the data, one is "Change in the Number of Deaths by Cause". It shows a big spike (30%-45%) in Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and diabetes. That's interesting.

My father, who lived with us, died of non-COVID pneumonia a little over a month ago. He had stage 4 Parkinson's. I'm absolutely convinced his death was COVID-related, in the sense that, without the lockdown, he'd've gone to the doctor earlier for his symptoms: Increased pain, inability to sleep, couple of other things. And when he was in the hospital, we would've visited him so he didn't have a full week of "just sit here in the dark and quiet alone doing nothing, while his body locks up because there's not even minimal walking around." (We got to see him for the final two days. He couldn't talk, but recognized us.)

All the diseases that have end-stages of "less able to take care of self, needs an attendant nearby but not necessarily constant care" are going to have higher death rates, because attendants are more limited and medical facilities are doing fewer visits to address symptoms before they hit emergency-room levels. All the conditions that are mitigated by regular activity, especially regular social activity, are going to get worse.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:04 AM on July 23 [51 favorites]


I'm really sorry, ErisLordFreedom.
posted by nickmark at 11:15 AM on July 23 [21 favorites]


Meatpacking workers file lawsuit against OSHA, accusing agency of failing to keep them safe (WaPo / Press Herald reprint)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is failing to do its job properly, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by three meatpacking workers, who say the agency’s inaction has left them in danger. The lawsuit accuses OSHA of leaving the workers in imminent danger due to what they say are hazardous working conditions at the factory where they work, run by Maid-Rite Specialty Foods in Pennsylvania, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. [...] The lawsuit is one of several legal challenges seeking to compel OSHA, as well as private businesses, to act more forcefully to uphold protections around worker safety. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Pennsylvania, is based on a complaint that attorneys working on behalf of the workers filed with OSHA in May.

The complaint accused Maid-Rite of failing to provide adequate protective gear or social distancing on the processing lines. The Maid-Rite workers also said in the complaint that the company did not handle ill employees in a safe manner, failing to separate sick employees and to inform all of those who worked closely with them when there were infections. The complaint also said the company gave workers incentives to work while sick, by offering bonuses to those who didn’t miss days. The attorneys who filed the lawsuit, David Muraskin, at the nonprofit Public Justice, and David Seligman, executive director of the worker legal group Towards Justice, say that the case will serve as another test of whether OSHA can be held accountable in court.
Meat Processing Workers Seek Order Forcing OSHA to Intervene to Protect Them from COVID-19 Contraction at Work (Public Justice Press Release, July 23, 2020) [complaint pdf]
posted by katra at 12:44 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


I've put up my weekly number-crunching and graphs on the infection rates for each state.

Among the trends: There are signs things may be letting up in Arizona and South Carolina. Florida's rates are above those experienced by New York at its peak. The increases in Nevada and Idaho are particularly striking. North Dakota and Oklahoma continue to climb.

I do want to note that while Alaska's numbers are rising, they put out a huge number of tests for a state with their population. This past week they had 10% more tests per capita than the second highest testing state (Rhode Island).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:18 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


AP-NORC poll: 3 in 4 Americans back requiring wearing masks (AP)
Three out of four Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor requiring people to wear face coverings while outside their homes, a new poll finds, reflecting fresh alarm over spiking coronavirus cases and a growing embrace of government advice intended to safeguard public health. The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds that about two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the outbreak, an unwelcome sign for the White House in an election year shaped by the nation’s battle with the pandemic. [...] Support for requiring masks is overwhelming among Democrats, at 89%, but 58% of Republicans are in favor as well. The poll was conducted before Trump, who for months was dismissive of masks, said this week that it’s patriotic to wear one.
AP-NORC poll: Very few Americans back full school reopening (AP)
Only about 1 in 10 Americans think daycare centers, preschools or K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. Most think mask requirements and other safety measures are necessary to restart in-person instruction, and roughly 3 in 10 say that teaching kids in classrooms shouldn’t happen at all.
The racist effects of school reopening during the pandemic — by a teacher (Valerie Strauss, WaPo Perspective)
Nataliya Braginsky is a high school teacher who has been working in public schools since 2007. Based in New Haven, Conn., she teaches African American and Latinx history, and facilitates workshops in anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy development. [...] With concrete examples and data, she analyzes unequal funding, environmental racism, and toxic stress to which students of color are exposed, showing how the comorbidity is white supremacy. [...] Braginsky is a core member of New Haven Educators’ Collective. Her website is nataliyabraginsky.com, and you can follow her on Twitter: @nataliyabrgnsky
posted by katra at 1:38 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Only about 1 in 10 Americans think daycare centers, preschools or K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions,

I want to know how many of those have school-age children.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:40 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


*without restrictions
posted by HyperBlue at 1:52 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Medcram Testing Video

Medcram video summarizing the rapid/cheap testing ideas discussed on TWiV.

They talked more about testing on the latest TWiV. It sounds like they are in the process of generating bullet points for people to send to their representatives.

Latest TWiV

Personally, I want state governments, our healthcare system, and other institutions to initiative and respond to this, even if our federal government won't. That's supposed to be part of our federal system, after all. (eyeroll)
posted by eagles123 at 1:54 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


US surpasses 4m Covid-19 cases as states dial back reopening (Guardian)
The US surpassed a record 4m coronavirus cases on Thursday, after more than 1,100 new Covid-19-related deaths were reported in a single day on Wednesday for the first time since late May. As states continue to dial back reopening efforts, nearly every metric for tracking the outbreak has shown a worsening spread. [...]

In Florida, the nation’s largest hotspot, cases rose by nearly 35% in the days since the state started releasing that data. At least 53 hospitals in 27 counties confirmed running out of beds in their ICUs, with more than 9,500 people hospitalized statewide. On Wednesday, California surpassed New York state’s previous record for the highest number of aggregate cases in the country, with more than 12,800 Californians testing positive. State health officials noted the pace and depth of the surge complicates efforts to track the coronavirus’s spread. “At the level of transmission we’re seeing across the state, even a very, very robust contact tracing team in every single county will have a hard time reaching out to every case,” Dr Mark Ghaly, health and human services secretary, said in a press conference. “No one has anticipated building a program to contact trace the level of cases we’re seeing here.”
A public health employee predicted Florida's coronavirus catastrophe — then she was fired: 'This is everything I was trying to warn people about' (Yahoo, Jul. 22, 2020)
In a whistleblower complaint Jones filed last Thursday with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, her attorneys alleged that she was fired by the state’s Department of Health for “refusing to publish misleading health data.” DeSantis’s office did not respond to requests for comment. “We wanted to be wrong,” Jones told Yahoo News. “What we’re seeing right now is actually far worse than what we anticipated.” Back in May, DeSantis’s combative press secretary dismissed as “alarmist” new projections showing the state suffering 4,000 mortalities from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Florida now has more than 5,000 coronavirus fatalities.
posted by katra at 3:33 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Guardian: Trump cancels the Jacksonville Republican national convention
Trump said that it is “not the right time” for a big convention in Jacksonville. [...]

Jacksonville, Florida residents filed a lawsuit against the city, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign earlier this month to stop the convention in August, concerned that a big event would accelerate the spread of disease in a state that is already a coronavirus hotspot.
posted by katra at 3:37 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


The RNC's cancellation is amazingly good news. It means, aside from all the covid superspreading that's being prevented, that DJT may be dialing back his toxic bravado, and that he may be reading the room and *may* even be listening to experts. If only for one day, it's a good thing.
posted by witchen at 3:42 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Also it's going to make him feel soooooooo baaaaaaaad and that's a good thing too
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:45 PM on July 23 [18 favorites]


Marine in helicopter squadron that transports the president has tested positive for coronavirus, officials say (WaPo live blog)
A Marine assigned to the helicopter squadron in which the president and other top government leaders travel has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials say, in the latest instance of the virus potentially threatening the White House. [...] “Out of an abundance of caution, Marines who may have had contact with the infected Marine have been removed from the detachment,” Butterfield said. “The infected Marine was never in direct contact with the president’s helicopter, Marine One.” According to Butterfield, the Marine — who is asymptomatic — was tested Tuesday and received the results Thursday. Butterfield said that “close contact tracing is being performed in coordination with the White House Medical Unit.” The squadron, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, does 80 to 100 “random and targeted” coronavirus tests each week, he added.
Trump administration renews public health emergency after urging from states (Politico)
The Trump administration has renewed the public health emergency for the coronavirus, ensuring that critical resources to fight the pandemic can continue while much of the country battles rising caseloads. The news will come as relief to health care groups who worried that President Donald Trump would let the emergency declaration lapse when it was set to expire July 25, despite previous assurances from top administration officials it would be renewed. [...] The emergency powers have helped the administration usher in a massive scale-up of telehealth visits, emergency approval of new drugs and tests and new flexibility for government-run health insurance programs. They have also let cash-strapped state and local health departments deploy federally funded personnel to focus on the virus. [...] Public health emergencies last for 90 days, so the latest renewal will expire in late October without another extension.
posted by katra at 4:18 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


he may be reading the room and *may* even be listening to experts.

I suspect it's closer to, "does not want a repeat of the Tulsa rally where the building winds up at 1/3 capacity and the media gets pictures of him speaking to an empty room."

He may also have a growing number of staffers unwilling to work in crowded conditions. And of course, he doesn't want to deal with Jacksonville's mask law, and doesn't want to deliver speeches to crowds of masked people where he can't see them smiling at him.

I doubt he's paying attention to health conditions, but he is always paying attention to media optics.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:47 PM on July 23 [31 favorites]


I doubt he's paying attention to health conditions, but he is always paying attention to media optics.

Yup. 100% caused by the steady trickle of prominent Republicans already saying, "Sorry, won't be able to attend the convention, I have to wash the dog that day."
posted by bcd at 5:06 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


Argh! Evidently Sinclair Broadcasting will be pushing a, "Did Dr. Fauci Create Covid-19?" special this weekend. Eric Bolling hosting with the Plandemic idjits.

Really. I thought they were a bad memory.
posted by bcd at 5:14 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Aww. I wanted them to all hang out outside in Jacksonville in August in suits.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:16 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


As somebody (I forget who? Scalzi? Someone on late night news?) said, if even Trump is acknowledging now, it's bad enough that he can't imagine a lie out of it or BS it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:23 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Yes, Trump cancels Republican convention activities in Jacksonville (CNN, July 23, 2020), but:

Pared-back events in Charlotte will still be held, Trump said.

I wish North Carolina could follow suit and file a lawsuit. In May, Charlotte worried about being sued by the RNC: [...] under a contract the city signed two years ago, RNC organizers could ask the courts to force Charlotte to host the event or pay millions of dollars in damages if city leaders don’t allow the event to happen, according to Charlotte’s head attorney and three city council members. (The Charlotte Observer, May 29, 2020) The 'pared back' events seem to fall under that contract; last week: Republicans fear coronavirus will force scaling back Trump's Florida convention (USA Today, July 16, 2020) Under the plan, party officials will hold a series of meetings in Charlotte because the RNC is contractually obligated to do so after it initially chose that city for its convention. Because of coronavirus restrictions, only 336 of 2,550 delegates will meet in Charlotte to adopt rules, approve a platform and formally nominate Trump and Pence.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:27 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I’m a nurse and we are expected to work even if we have a known exposure if we don’t have symptoms. Because asymptomatic transmission isn’t a thing? But if you DO go get tested you then are supposed to tell HR, stay home until you get the results either without pay or you can use your PTO. Sooooo since Nevada is surging and tests are taking forever, we are forced to choose between losing a paycheck or working exposed. Guess what everyone is doing? This wave of patients is younger and sicker than the initial group and honestly...it’s sorta...soul crushing? Everyone is dying, there’s minimal support and then you have to listen to people you know tell you they think it’s not even real and wtf. We talk a lot at work about how we are stressed and scared and tired. And there’s no end on sight, how long can they expect the medical workers to keep doing this? Don’t even get me started on PPE or the fact that we are out of meds. It’s just, this isn’t new anymore so can someone help us? Please.
posted by yodelingisfun at 6:00 PM on July 23 [94 favorites]


Because asymptomatic transmission isn’t a thing? But if you DO go get tested you then are supposed to tell HR, stay home until you get the results either without pay or you can use your PTO.

This is literally fucking insane.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:16 PM on July 23 [32 favorites]


Many low-wage workers in San Francisco aren’t getting tested because they’re too afraid of how they’d survive economically if they get bad news. In response, the city will pay two weeks of minimum wage to anybody who tests positive and needs income to survive isolation.
SF Chronicle.
posted by fragmede at 6:42 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


That's miserable all around, yodelingisfun. I know it doesn't help with anything practical, but thank you for being there in the thick of it and continuing to care for the patients.
posted by bcd at 6:45 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Two weeks? They think the effects of this infection could include chronic conditions, two weeks is squat in the face of that.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:51 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


> Is pooled testing really that helpful though when a positive is more than a rare event?

Well, for one thing--and believe it or not--there are actually countries around the world that haven't made a complete hash of the CV-19 response. This could be tremendously helpful in places like Germany (currently about 400 new positive tests per day in a country of 83 million) or Italy (currently about 200 new cases per day in a country of 60 million).

Not to get all face-rubby or anything, but that puts the U.S. at something like 45-65X the number of new daily infections per capita of those countries.

So yeah, they're living in a different and far better reality now.

In places like that, a technique like doing just a few pooled daily tests to cover, for example, an entire school or a large workplace (meat packing plant, anyone) could give you an early signal to close down the entire school or plant and close in with the contact tracers.

And that could free up a bunch of tests for use in the more ill-governed countries where they're really needed.

Even in the U.S., there are still a large number of geographical areas with few or no infections.

And pooled testing could be a useful technique even for U.S. schools, for example. A lot of people would be willing to send their kids to school if, for example, they were doing 2X weekly pooled tests of the entire school population and sending everyone back home the second one positive comes back.

This is a no brainer for everyone who thinks there are actually no infections out there & nothing to be worried about. Fine--then they'd be willing to pay for 10 pooled PCR tests weekly covering the entire population of (say) the local Elementary School just to prove that to everyone's satisfaction, right?
posted by flug at 7:37 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Here is a link to the NYTimes opinion piece by Michael Mina and Laurence Kotlikoff calling for the simple $1 daily CV19 test solution. And a followup by Kotlikoff in Forbes: A Manhattan Project To Capture And Kill COVID-19 With Rapid Home Testing.

> There are 56.6 million K-12 students in the US and roughly as many essential workers. Did they give a sense of the practicality of producing, distributing, and administering ~110 million of these tests per day?

A few points on this:

#1. This is a test that is developed and ready to go to production. Not a pipe dream, not something that could or should be developed at some hazy time in the future. It's ready to go to production, now. The holdup is in bureaucracy and political will--plus the fact that everyone, including test developers, is worried about the fact that it's not as sensitive as PCR. But that is irrelevant when the cost is $1 and turnaround time 15 minutes, compared with 2 weeks and $150.

But right now, this is a problem of political and bureaucratic will, not "is it possible!??!?"

#2. As benzenedream pointed out, the ingredients for this are dead simple: antibody, cardboard, nitrocellulose, color changing dye particles.

So the antibody can be produced literally in vats, and the remainder is a matter of printing dye and antibody onto cardboard. Per Michael Mina's comments on TWIV #640, literally any company that could print ink onto cardboard could produce these.

Like, is it possible for the U.S. to produce 1 billion paper matchsticks in the next three months?

These are actually cheaper/easier to produce than a paper match book, and (furiously checks google) it looks like the U.S. was able to produce 35 billion paper matchbooks annually at our peak.

We are fully capable of doing this.

#3. We're not talking about hospital-grade medical equipment here. The whole idea is to make literally billions of them available for informal home use. Just for example, I routinely purchase urinalysis test strips that test 14 different parameters and cost less than 20 cents a stick.

They're not super-accurate or super-consistent in their results. Guess what? It doesn't matter at all. They are a quick and dirty way to tell if you have protein, sugar, etc in your urine or not.

If the 20 cent test returns a positive you head to the doctor, where they perform a $400 in lab testing to get far more accurate results on those 14 parameters.

But I can use a 20 cent stick every day of the week if I want to. Daily monitoring at $1.40/week--it's already available for a few dozen medical conditions not nearly as pressing as COVID-19.

This is the type of thing we're talking about--you spit on the stick, it turns blue or not blue. It costs $1, you do it every day. We have 25 different printing plants across the country churning the things out at top speed.

With so many manufacturers, maybe quality control suffers, maybe there are production problems along the way. It literally doesn't matter. If the things have a 20% spoil rate they are still worth 1000X the current PCR testing regimen for the purpose of stopping the pandemic in the U.S. (and all similar countries with runaway COVID-19 problems).

You get a spoiled one, it gives you a bad result. You repeat (as usual) the next day and that one isn't spoiled. You get your positive result and go to the doctor. <Checks watch> - that's still 12 days faster than PCR turnaround time, even with the occasional bad test strip.

We can do this. Because we already are doing similar things that are much, much harder.

#4. There are just a few things that have had the capability of actually turning the tide with COVID-19. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, travel restriction, contact tracing & quarantine (for places with small enough case load), masking, vaccinations.

That's 5 effective things that are available now and one that might be available in the next 6-12 months.

Now to this very short list we can add one more: Inexpensive, widespread, easily available, instant-result, daily testing.

Like masks--even more so--this is an initiative that is really achievable.

And--if enough resources were put behind it--really has the potential to turn things around within the next couple of months.

#5. How is it possible to get this done? You don't half-ass it. You don't dither around and make excuses. You put it on a war footing and you put resources behind it and you GET IT DONE.

One thing I appreciate about TWIV host Vincent Racaniello is he really makes the case that a pandemic like COVID-19 is like a war.

Not "like" a war, actually. It is a war--against an extremely wily and insidious foe: A virus.

In a war, you don't just pussy-foot around and take half-measures and drive the economy into the dumpster because you're too weak-kneed to put the country's resources behind real solutions to the problem.

When the U.S. went into World War II we didn't all sit around whining about how we didn't have the industrial capacity to produce a couple of ships and tanks and airplanes (not to mention boots and socks and rations and all the rest). We put the whole country on a war footing, we instituted rationing, we reconfigured entire sectors of the economy to produce the things we needed for national survival, while cutting back things that were less necessary to the bare minimum.

And in very short order, we produced literally thousands of all those things.

In WWI, random women in Australia got together and hand-knitted over a million pair of socks for soldiers. Guess what: printing a billion test squares on bits of cardboard would actually be easier than knitting a million pair of socks (have you ever tried knitting a pair of socks? Takes a l-o-n-g time . . . )

When you're going into a war for your survival, you don't fool around with half-measures.

You commit money and devote the resources you need to produce the essentials you need for survival. You get it done and you don't make excuses.

This pandemic is a war. Don't fool around. Just get it done.

And yes, the U.S. is perfectly capable of producing a few billion printed cardboard strips every month.

It won't even take putting the whole country on a war footing, or instituting rationing, closing 3/4 of the economy, or locking up everyone inside their house or apartment.

We produced 35 billion matchbooks per year, for $Deity's sake. And that took a whopping 25 plants and 2000 workers.

I just ran the numbers: To produce enough test strips for every single U.S. resident to take a test every single day for a year would cost $120 billion. That is exactly 0.3% of annual U.S. industrial output.

I'm pretty sure we can afford to commit 0.3% of our industrial production to the task of producing test strips that will reopen all our schools, all businesses, all workplaces, etc etc etc.

(And in really the total would come to a lot less than even the measly $120 billion or 0.3% of industrial output, for a variety of reasons.)

So it's not a matter of whether we can or not. It's whether we can get together literally an ounce of national fortitude and political leadership to make it happen.
posted by flug at 8:59 PM on July 23 [100 favorites]


Thanks for the spirited advocacy flug. For anyone interested in emailing their reps, TWiV has started a collection of form letters to use for advocacy of cheap testing.
posted by benzenedream at 11:16 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


> There are 56.6 million K-12 students in the US and roughly as many essential workers. Did they give a sense of the practicality of producing, distributing, and administering ~110 million of these tests per day?

In addition to flug's excellent points above, all of which I heartily endorse,

#6. We start to benefit way before we reach target production levels

In the first month of starting up mass production, we won't be producing enough for everyone who wants to have a daily test. That's ok. Start by flooding them into Covid hotspots, use them every other day rather than every day, every early detected case is an interrupted transmission chain.

It's really worth listening to the Mina interview on TWiV or to the MedCram summary but the basics are this:

-Simple tests are less sensitive than PCRs, in many cases less than 80%, some less than 50%. The key question is: 50% of what?

-But PCR is insanely sensitive

-The simple tests are not randomly missing 50% of cases. They're missing cases with very low levels of RNA and those people are probably not infectious

-Work done by (among others) Christian Drosten's lab shows that RNA and infectious virus (not the same!) peak 0.7 days before symptom onset and decline drastically within four days. No infectious virus could be cultured from symptom onset + seven days. PCR was still detecting RNA in many cases months later, at which point they are unlikely to be infectious.

-If you look at what screening tests are actually for, which is to find people who are infectious, the sensitivity of the cheap tests shoots up. That's because the periods where the cheap test is -ve but PCR is +ve are: a very short period when viral load is on the way up, just before infectiousness, and a very long period when RNA is detectable but the person is not actually infectious.

-Therefore if you test every day in the morning, the worst case is that someone is just below detection threshold on day 1, the person becomes infectious towards the end of day 1 and may be able to infect some people by the evening. They are above detection threshold on day 2 and are able to immediately quarantine and to notify their contacts from the evening before.

The Mina testing paper is here.
posted by atrazine at 6:49 AM on July 24 [22 favorites]


2 > 0
posted by fragmede at 7:25 AM on July 24


[wrt Trump masking]..the only reason he’s doing even that much is that he knows his poll numbers are in the crapper.

Amen — may public opinion smite Trump with ever worse polls, and may he never recover no matter what he does. Whatever his optics or self-serving motives are at any moment, Trump’s ongoing Covid-19 debacle will squeeze him into doing some of the right things.

How Trump went from a massive convention bash to no party at all — The about-face indicates that the president finally realizes how serious the coronavirus problem is for the country and his reelection prospects., Politico; Alex Isenstadt, Matt Dixon, Gary Fineout; 7/23/2020:
On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump convened his top political advisers, including campaign manager Bill Stepien and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, for a conference call to consider a move that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago: cancelling his party’s upcoming convention in Jacksonville, Fla.

By Thursday afternoon, with the coronavirus raging in the state, the president who all year envisioned a boisterous send-off to the final months of his reelection campaign, had made up his mind: It was a no-go. It was a stunning reversal for an optics-obsessed president, who'd been so adamant about a massive convention that he moved it from Charlotte, N.C., to Florida to ensure it would happen.

But for Trump, who for months has resisted pleas to take the virus seriously, the decision reflected a sudden shift in posture. Over the past week, the president has resuscitated his coronavirus briefings, urged people to wear masks and conceded that the virus would “probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.”...
Without a doubt, it will get worse, and it won’t stop when Trump loses (or wins) the 2020 election.
posted by cenoxo at 10:32 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Just my own bit of chatty news, Vermont decided to have a mask ordinance which was announced today by our Republican governor. Thanks to a small and kinda-remote population, COVID numbers are down (no COVID deaths in over a month) and testing and tracing are working the way they are supposed to. The fact that he decided to do this before a new surge hits here was absolutely the right thing to do and may bode well for his re-election. He's not my favorite guy for a number of reasons but it's nice to see him be right about this, finally.
posted by jessamyn at 11:19 AM on July 24 [13 favorites]


Failure. A Lincoln Project video that is a timeline with Trump quotes and a graph of new deaths.
posted by rdr at 11:28 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


People with milder symptoms report issues weeks after testing, CDC report says (WaPo live blog)
Many people with milder covid-19 symptoms continue to report decreased health two to three weeks after testing positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a new report that sheds light on how the virus’s effects can linger, even in young adults without chronic medical issues. The study, based on phone surveys of American adults conducted between April and June, focused on patients who were symptomatic but got outpatient testing, suggesting that their cases were less severe. Follow-up interviews with 274 patients two to three weeks after testing found that 35 percent “reported not having returned to their usual state of health,” the CDC report states. That figure includes 26 percent of patients ages 18 to 34, 32 percent of those ages 35 to 49, and 47 percent of those 50 or older, the report says.
Virus Can Travel 26 Feet at Cold Meat Plants With Stale Air (Bloomberg / MSN, Jul. 23, 2020)
Researchers reconstructed the likely cause of the outbreak at a Toennies Group slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, where about 1,500 workers contracted the virus. Similar conditions at plants globally are a reason they’ve become virus epicenters, according to the report from groups including the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research. Meat plants from the U.S. to the U.K. and South America have seen the rapid spread of the virus, infecting thousands of employees who often work in close proximity on processing lines. Dozens of workers have died, and labor advocates have said that a lack of social distancing could continue to put people at risk. Outbreaks also forced American meat plants to close earlier this year, sparking some protein shortages.

[...] Workers at meat plants represent some of the populations facing a disproportionate hit from the health crisis and its economic fallout. In the U.S., about half are immigrants, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Employees also come from relatively low-income families, and about 44% of them are Hispanic and a quarter are African Americans, a demographic seeing a devastating toll both physically and financially. Minority workers at the U.S. plants have seen the biggest blow from the outbreaks. In a July Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that showed infection tallies through the end of May, data showed that of the of the cases that disclosed race and ethnicity, 87% involved minority workers -- with employees identified as Hispanic accounting for 56% of infections despite making up less than a third of the overall workforce. [...] Housing conditions -- also often pinpointed as a factor in the outbreaks -- were not found to play a significant role in the disease’s initial spread.
posted by katra at 3:47 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Washington Post's The Fact Checker: DeVos’s claim that children are ‘stoppers’ of covid-19 Claim: “More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don’t get it and transmit it themselves, so we should be in a posture of — the default should be getting back to school kids in person, in the classroom.” — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in an interview on “The Conservative Circus” (iHeart radio), July 16.

An Education Department spokesperson supplied four reports from outside the US to support DeVos's assertion. "We’re mainly looking at the German study — one of the people who helped run it is the one who first said that kids can act as ‘brakes’ on virus transmission,” the Education Department spokesperson said. [...] The German study has not been peer-reviewed; it is still in preprint review by the Lancet, meaning it should not be used to guide clinical practice. Moreover, the German researchers told The Fact Checker that the results do not apply to a country such as the United States, where infections have been soaring. Germany, by contrast, is among the countries that are considered to have handled the outbreak with skill and diligence, keeping infections per million people relatively low.

Without paywalls, but ABC loves an auto-play video: Trump, DeVos downplay risks of reopening schools, claim children don't spur transmission (ABC News, July 23, 2020) DeVos has falsely claimed the children are "stoppers" of COVID-19. Betsy DeVos just crossed another line. She's an ongoing danger to teachers and students. (USA Today Opinion piece, July 22, 2020) Schools must look inward, assess local COVID-19 conditions and ignore pressure from DeVos. They have authority over whether to reopen. She doesn't. NAACP sues Betsy DeVos over COVID-19 aid rule, claiming it benefits private schools at the expense of public ones (ABC News, July 22, 2020) DeVos says CARES act funds must be equally given to private and public schools. NAACP press release; NAACP v. DeVos filing .pdf at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:24 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Calculations show U.S. is likely to reach 5 million cases in August, mathematician says (WaPo live blog)
Based on data published by The Post and the Covid Tracking Project, [Martin Magid, professor emeritus of mathematics at Wellesley College,] said he devised a formula showing that if the number of infections continues unfettered, the United States will reach 5 million cases between 14 and 18 days after hitting 4 million cases — 20 days at most. That estimate would place the 5 million mark between Aug. 6 and 12. Magid’s projections are consistent with other calculations. The Covid-19 Pandemic Navigator, run by the New York-based management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, predicted that the U.S. case total will hit 5 million in August and 6 million by September. Magid added that his calculation is an extrapolation and could be affected by human behavior, like mask wearing and social distancing, as well as lags in testing and reporting results. A universal mask mandate, for example, would cause the number of daily infections to decline, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which projects the pandemic’s trajectory.
New Jersey COVID-19 Cluster Linked To High School House Party, Gov. Murphy Says Teens Aren’t Cooperating With Tracers (CBS NY, Jul. 23, 2020)
Some of those teens, according to Gov. Phil Murphy, are not cooperating with contact tracers and that, he says, is a problem. He believes they’re choosing not to share information to help contact tracers out of fear they’ll be punished for illegal drinking. “This isn’t a witch hunt. You know, we don’t condone that, but this is a public health pursuit,” the governor said. “We don’t condone illegal behavior, but on the other hand, these folks are trying to do good and trying to contain a public health crisis.” [...] In the meantime, the mayor of Middletown is pleading with young adults to come forward, telling them they just want information so they can save lives.

“We’re not looking to get anyone into trouble. No one is getting into trouble, and that’s the common misconception with this contact tracing, is that this isn’t about getting people, you know, some type of, you know, summons or anything like that. It’s about the health and wellness of our residents,” Mayor Tony Perry said. “Telling them that may in the end save someone’s life.”
posted by katra at 4:30 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Fauci says "serious threats" have been made against him and his wife and daughters (CBS News, July 24, 2020). Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades, has grappled with several public health crises, including the AIDS epidemic and now, COVID-19. In an interview with CNN's David Axelrod, Fauci said the magnitude of criticism he is receiving now is different than in the past, and that he and his family have been seriously threatened.

Not to be confused with springtime reporting concerning Fauci's safety, like:

Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right (NYT, March 28, 2020),
Anthony Fauci to get a security detail after facing threats (USA Today, April 2, 2020),
Fauci gets security detail after receiving multiple threats, reports say (CNBC, April 2, 2020),
Fauci Says Threats to His Personal Security 'Secondary' to Curbing Coronavirus (US News and World Reports, April 2, 2020),
Nation's top coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci forced to beef up security as death threats increase (CNN, April 2, 2020),
Anthony Fauci Is Facing Online Attacks And COVID-19 Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories (Forbes, May 10, 2020), or
Dr. Fauci talks protests, second wave & threats to his family (FOX 5 DC, June 8, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:02 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, those who said that mask ordinances would end up being used capriciously by childish cops were right: No one is safe from Miami-Dade’s new $100 no-mask fine. Not even people wearing masks (Miami Herald AMP link)
Ronald Setoute was in a barber shop on July 17 in North Miami waiting for his turn to get a haircut when he says he pulled the face mask he was wearing down to his chin to take a drink of water.

Just at that moment, a police officer walked in and told him he was wearing his mask incorrectly and wrote him up for a $100 fine.
I highlight this particular situation because it isn't actually a violation of the county's mask order, which explicitly exempts those who are actively consuming food or drink, smoking, or exercising, among a few other things.

An earlier version of the story had a quote from someone who was fined when their mask slipped off their nose while they were speaking to an officer. Not sure why that one went away.
posted by wierdo at 7:29 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


Now where would they get such an idea?
George Nori on Fox Coast to Coast
posted by Mesaverdian at 7:44 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Michigan State's entire football team to isolate for 14 days after positive tests (Guardian)
“As part of the athletic department’s return to campus policy, student-athletes quarantine when coming into close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19,” the school said in a statement. “The university has designated areas available to house individuals in quarantine as needed based upon the living arrangements for student-athletes.” [...] Earlier Friday, senior offensive lineman [Jordan Reid] shared his concerns over the team’s continuing to practice amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, tweeting: “Guys are testing positive across the country left and right...why is there still discussion on a season? Why is it taking so long to make a logical decision? Hmm let me guess REVENUE #NCAA #B1G10”
Some big retailers won’t deny entry to people who flout their mask rules (WaPo live blog)
Walgreens, CVS Health and Home Depot, three of the top 10 retailers by worldwide sales, told The Washington Post that they generally do not plan to bar or remove people who flout their new policies, saying they do not want to push staff into risky confrontations. Businesses have reported instances of employees facing vitriol and even physical aggression for trying to enforce mask mandates. [...] Other major chains that require customers to wear masks, including Lowe’s, Kroger, Costco and Target, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. Lowe’s told CNN it would also avoid confronting people about masks. While most states have mandated face coverings in many public settings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there is no nationwide mandate.
posted by katra at 7:51 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Public health group calls for standardized data collection to more clearly track Covid-19 (Helen Branswell; Statnews; July 21 2020)
The assessment, released Tuesday by the nongovernmental organization Resolve to Save Lives, calls on states and communities to start recording and sharing standardized data on 15 key metrics, so that people — and health departments — can get a clearer picture of how the response to the pandemic is working in their area.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:55 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


CDC director concedes schools in ‘hot spots’ face tougher call on reopening (WaPo)
A senior administration official said the White House expects public mood on schools to shift as officials make their case for how students will be hurt if schools do not reopen. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education Committee, replied it is ridiculous to debate the benefits of in-person schooling because nobody questions them. The issue is whether it can be done safely, he said. “Obviously it’s much better to have in-person instruction if it can be done safely,” Scott said. “If you can’t do it safely, you shouldn’t do it at all.” [...] On Thursday, Trump said schools may need to delay reopening in places that are “current hot spots,” and on Friday, Redfield echoed the thought. [...] Redfield was then asked for a definition of “hot spots.” He said it would include places where more than 5 percent of coronavirus tests come back positive. Looking county by county, he said “the majority of the nation” is not a hot spot. Yet by his definition, large sections of the country are in fact hot spots. Johns Hopkins University shows that over the past week, 33 states and Puerto Rico have “positivity rates” above 5 percent. In 12 states, the rate was more than 10 percent. [...] Nationally, the positivity rate is 10 percent, the CDC says.

According to an unpublished report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force this week, 772 counties or parishes across the United States are “red zones,” meaning they have test positivity rates above 10 percent — double the metric Redfield set — and are weekly adding more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents. That tally does not include Puerto Rico or D.C. There are just over 3,000 counties in the United States.
posted by katra at 8:33 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Supreme Court denies plea from Nevada church that it is hurt while casinos reopen (WaPo / Seattle Times reprint)
The vote was 5 to 4 [pdf], with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s liberals in the majority. They did not give a reason for rejecting the emergency plea from Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church in Dayton, Nev. That is not unusual in the court’s treatment of such petitions and in line with what the Supreme Court did in rejecting a challenge to California’s restrictions in May.

[...] The Supreme Court in May rejected a similar challenge to California’s restrictions, saying local and state officials deserved some leeway in balancing constitutional rights such as freedom of religion with government’s responsibility to protect the public in a pandemic. In that case, Roberts said judges should defer to local and state officials who are faced with a historically difficult task of preventing the deadly virus while attempting to reopen sectors of American society that have been shuttered for weeks. Protecting public health is a “dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement, but one the Constitution principally entrusts to elected officials,” Roberts wrote at the time. Generally, he said, “they should not be subject to second-guessing by an unelected federal judiciary, which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” [...] In its May decision, Roberts said the question for the court is whether similar activities are treated equally. In that case, California imposed similar or more restrictive requirements on comparable secular gatherings, such as lectures, concerts, sports events and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time, he wrote. The court’s four liberal justices did not endorse Roberts’s reasoning, but agreed with the outcome.
posted by katra at 8:49 PM on July 24


Appalling.

Fuck these anti-science authoritarians. 100k deaths on their heads.
posted by Windopaene at 10:28 PM on July 24


Yeah, I was at a Walgreen's yesterday, picking up a prescription, because the drive up window was blocked by a giant delivery truck. OK! I have a mask and gloves. The pharmacy was about to close for lunch, which is a new thing. They said they would bring it to me, and closed the pharmacy door, sliding metal wall thing..

As I'm waiting, in comes an old guy. Wearing a back brace/support wrap thing, a sweet leather hat, no mask...

WTF? Told him they were closed for lunch. He hobbled off. No enforcement of any kind. Not that I want Walgreen's employees trying to enforce shit, but, WTF? All kinds of signs saying masks requiredby state mandates...

Stay safe mefites.
posted by Windopaene at 10:39 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


The headline at the NYT reads C.D.C. Calls on Schools to Reopen, Downplaying Health Risks

But the story says something quite different: A federal official familiar with the group said it included minimal representation from the C.D.C. ... instead an agency within the Health and Human Services Department took the lead in writing the statement. ... Experts on the subject at the C.D.C. were cut off from direct communication with the working group after their input on the statement was interpreted as being too cautious, the official said.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:33 AM on July 25 [14 favorites]


Ireland offers a hundred thousand welcomes – unless you’re American.
Hotels and restaurants are turning away US guests, citing high Covid-19 rates and lax quarantine.
American tourists are openly flouting Ireland's Covid-19 quarantine rules.
posted by adamvasco at 7:43 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Self quarantine is crap. People suck. Most of the states in Australia are doing mandatory quarantine. All the incoming visitors get 2 weeks in a guarded hotel and tested on arrival and at day 11.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:38 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


>Calculations show U.S. is likely to reach 5 million cases in August

5 million detected, maybe 50 million actual.

GOP bullshitters were acting like we're in the 4th Quarter, but this is more like the 2nd inning, and as somebody said, nature bats last . . . the more the virus replicates in its hosts, the more chance a new strain will emerge -- either less harmful, or more!
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 9:38 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


In Era of Sickness, Doctors Prescribe Unusual Cure: Voting (NYT)
Dr. Martin’s project, VotER, has taken on new urgency as the pandemic has curbed traditional in-person voter-registration efforts, and as the link between public policy failures and death has become especially clear. Now, despite a global pandemic — or perhaps because of it — his project is spreading across the country. Since May, more than 3,000 health care providers have requested kits to register their own patients to vote, including at flagship hospitals across the country in Pennsylvania, Kansas and Arizona. VotER is part of a larger movement that pushes medical professionals to address the underlying social conditions — such as hunger, drug addiction and homelessness — that make their patients sick in the first place. At its core, it amounts to nothing less than an effort to change the culture of medicine by getting doctors and nurses to view the “civic health” of their patients as part of their professional duties.

Supporters of this movement say the health care system tends to work best for communities that vote, so encouraging voting is a strategy for improving patient health in the long term. Jonathan Kusner, a fourth-year medical student who is co-chair of Med Out the Vote, a get-out-the-vote initiative started by the American Medical Student Association, said his group was encouraging primary care doctors to include “Are you registered to vote?” on intake screening questionnaires, similar to questions about domestic violence. [...] “Previously, physicians taking a political stance was seen as possibly unprofessional,” said Kelly Wong, a medical student who is part of Patient Voting, a Rhode Island-based effort to provide hospitalized patients with information that can help them navigate the gauntlet of voting from a hospital bed. “Civic engagement of our patients and our communities is really important to changing health outcomes.”
posted by katra at 10:20 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


I think we need named units for spreading activity. For radioactivity, we have the Curie (3.7 x 1010 disintegrations per second) and half-life. This is almost the same, it's exponential, we have cases per day, and a half life. Except for the half life is negative.

I vote for the Trump as 100,000 new cases per day. He might think that's a compliment to have his name on something, but it would ensure he is never forgotten as the pandemic loser.

Looks like the next 2 top countries have about 400 milliTrumps of COVID-19 (91-DIVOC)
posted by ctmf at 10:20 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


'Shut it down now:' U.S. health experts call for 2nd coronavirus shutdown (ABC13)
"Shut it down now, and start over" is the message from health experts across the country as COVID-19 cases surge in more than 40 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the U.S. could see 175,000 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths by August 15. More than 150 doctors endorsed an open letter to lawmakers, urging them to hit the restart button. The letter, published on the United States Public Interest Research Group's website and penned by its public health campaigns director Matthew Wellington, blames the push to reopening the economy on the country's worsening health crisis and calls for all nonessential businesses to close.

[...] The letter includes a list of recommendations for what's needed to reopen American cities -- once it's safe -- calling for enhanced testing capabilities, more contact tracers and more personal protective equipment. Understanding a second shutdown would be devastating for many, Porco explained, "I think a lot of people would love to comply with the orders, but they need to put food on the table. A lot of small businesses need help. So I think as long as we support people that we're asking sacrifices of, people will understand." "We need you to lead," the open letter says. "We remind you that history has its eyes on you." To read the full letter, click here.
US agency vows steps to address COVID-19 inequalities (AP)
On Friday, the CDC issued a racial equity strategy document vowing better data collection on how the virus is impacting minorities. It also calls for improvements in testing, contact tracing, and safely quarantining, isolating and treating minorities at risk. The agency also said it will take steps to diversify the public health workforce responding to the epidemic. The agency did not immediately provide details about any added funding for this work. But it’s more than has been done by the agency in the past, some health experts said.

[...] Data collection will be key. When doctors order coronavirus tests for patients, standard forms ask for important patient information, said Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Atlanta-based Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. But physicians often don’t ask. Race and ethnicity data is missing 80% to 85% of the time, and patient address and phone number is missing as much as 50% of the time, Hamilton said. Advocates have pushed for improvements for years, she said, “but it’s never been prioritized or incentivized.” Public health officials “find it painful — quite honestly — at how incomplete the data is,” she said.
posted by katra at 10:43 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


'Shut it down now:' U.S. health experts call for 2nd coronavirus shutdown (ABC13)

Individualism just isn't working. There needs to be green zones established and restricted travel between green zones and others. I know in MA as we're dropping down to minor case levels there's been a big push to get people back to in person work where they could otherwise work from home. Some executives are just "old school" (read: dicks) and if they can't see employees working they can't trust them. We need mandates to specifically short circuit dumb policy decisions like these by self-interested assholes that could damage the eradication of the virus.

A competent federal government would probably be already doing this but we don't have competence right now. The mind boggles at just how many people can die or be permanently scarred or incapacitated between now and January 20th, 2021.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:51 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


FEMA acknowledges Puerto Rico lacks rebuilt homes and a hospital to survive COVID-19 (NBC News, July 24, 2020) FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor responded to concerns about why thousands still lack a safe home and why Vieques has no hospital since Hurricane Maria. [...] A federally funded program administered by local officials carried out relatively small repairs to about 108,000 homes in 2018, while churches and nonprofits patched up thousands with private funds. Puerto Rico’s first major program to rebuild houses hasn’t completed a single one even though tens of thousands of homes still have damaged roofs nearly three years after Maria. Miguel Soto-Class, founder and president of the Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates that about 20,000 people in Puerto Rico are still living under blue tarps.

Florida lawyers offering free living wills to teachers returning to school during the pandemic (NBC News, July 24, 2020) "You have to weigh the opportunity costs," one lawyer said. "Opening schools means sick and dead children and delaying opening means inconvenience."

CDC: One-third of COVID-19 patients who aren't hospitalized have long-term illness (NBC News, July 24, 2020) One patient whose symptoms have lingered for months called the report "monumental."
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:54 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


How to fix the Covid-19 dumpster fire in the U.S. (STAT News, Jul. 14, 2020)
“One thing I notice is that when people ask me a question, they say ‘yet.’ ‘Can I do this yet?’’’ said Amesh Adalja, an expert on emerging infectious disease and pandemic preparedness at Johns Hopkins. “And I say, ‘There is no ‘yet.’” [...] We need to learn to live with SARS-CoV-2, said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy.

[...] Enough with the “but the flu” and “it’s getting better” and “it’s going to go away on its own” talk. There needs to be consistent communications from all levels of government about the risk the virus poses, said Alessandro Vespignani, director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. “I know it sounds trivial,” Vespignani said, “but I have the feeling that is impossible to win the fight if a large fraction of the population is not believing there is something to fight.”
New Travel Order Requires Quarantine Upon Entering Massachusetts, Includes $500 Fine (CBS Boston, Jul. 24, 2020)
“Since March, the people in Massachusetts have made great sacrifices and shown great discipline. And as a result, our state has made great progress to slow the spread of COVID-19 and gradually reopen,” said [Gov. Charlie] Baker. “Every traveler coming to Massachusetts, no matter where they’re from, has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the Commonwealth.” [...] The order also said Mass. residents are “urged to limit out-of-State travel only to those State included on the DPH list of COVID-19 lower-risk States and are strongly discouraged from traveling to other States or to international destinations.” [...] Baker said, “There are no shortcuts when it comes to containing COVID-19. For months the residents of the Commonwealth have been vigilant and disrupted their daily routines. They’ve had to adopt new habits and we cannot and we must not let up now.”
posted by katra at 11:26 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


New testing shortages hit California's vulnerable hardest amid record Covid-19 infections (Guardian)
“Mathematically, testing and contact tracing alone can’t suppress the pandemic any more,” said Thomas Tsai, of the Harvard’s Global Health Institute. Regions where infections are surging should consider localized shutdowns, he said, to get the outbreak back under control. The Global Health Institute’s risk map ranks California at an orange threat-level – just under the most severe – with some regions colored red for critical.

Whereas the virus during the first months of the pandemic hovered around major cities, it has now infiltrated all communities, big and small, that may or may not have the infrastructure and resources to test and treat patients. “I worry about rural hospitals and small health clinics,” Tsai said. [...] It doesn’t help that American’s tolerance for risk appears to have shifted since the crisis first struck, Tsai added. In March and April, it seemed – anecdotally – that people who suspected they were sick were more likely to quarantine themselves, he said. “They were behaving as if they had the infection, until proven innocent. Now it seems like it’s the opposite. People tend to be going about their business, until they find out they’re infected.”
The simple question that can help schools make hard decisions about covid-19 (William R. Harvey, WaPo Opinion, Jul. 24, 2020)
William R. Harvey is president of Hampton University.
There is one question we can ask ourselves about everything from holding in-person classes to conducting a football season that, if we answer it honestly, can make all of our decisions easier: Is this safe? If the answer is yes, we can proceed. If the answer is no, or unclear, our choice is obvious. [...] Safety comes before money. College presidents and their teams must plan for the lost revenue from a canceled football season without compromising educational objectives and understand that this is what leaders do. [...] As coronavirus cases climbed, colleges and universities responded with precautionary measures ranging from mandatory face coverings to massive testing. Testing is extremely important and necessary, but it is not a panacea. An individual can be tested one day and contract the disease later that same day.

I understand how difficult this is, and how badly students and administrators want to find a way to return to normal. Everyone is trying to balance politics, health, safety, finances, a desire for social interaction and a psychological need to get back to “normal.” However, although getting students back to school is important, it is more important to get them back safely. There is no normal until our campuses, workplaces and neighborhoods are safe again.
posted by katra at 11:53 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Since March, the people in Massachusetts have made great sacrifices and shown great discipline.

In general, perhaps, but people are beginning to relax their guard. Take, for example, a recent house party in Chatham on Cape Cod that involved a lot of folks working at local restaurants: 3 more COVID-19 cases linked to house party in Chatham; testing scheduled for attendees.
Duncanson said there were between 30 and 50 attendees who did not wear masks and did not practice physical distancing.
posted by adamg at 12:31 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not sure I would be patting myself on the back yet if I was Baker. New cases have been gradually rising from ~200 per day to ~300 per day over the last few weeks in MA. Premature self-congratulation was one of the (many) mistakes the southern states made a couple months ago.

New Travel Order Requires Quarantine Upon Entering Massachusetts, Includes $500 Fine.

I also don't quite get these bans. By most models, MA probably has around a 0.5% infected rate, or maybe 30,000 infected right now. I don't really see how infected visitors can be anything other than a drop in the bucket compared to this.

At least, until 50,000 college students come back in September...
posted by chortly at 1:58 PM on July 25


Other states have a higher rate of incidence and the people visiting from other states are much more likely to be out in public if left to their own devices, whether it be eating at a restaurant, shopping for antiques, or working in some office somewhere.
posted by wierdo at 2:05 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


A fine of $500 a day for violators. That’s part of the strict new rules for people traveling to Massachusetts (Boston Globe, Jul. 24, 2020)
Dr. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, called Baker’s executive order “absolutely the right approach.” Although he did not know of studies showing the effectiveness of such travel restrictions, Tsai said, “It makes epidemiological sense. It makes intuitive sense.” [...]

Since March, Baker had issued only travel “guidance,” with no threats of a fine, urging people to quarantine if they traveled from other states. But he and Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, said state data showed travel picking up on the state’s roads and at Logan International Airport. More than 50 flights arrive each day from Texas, California, and Florida, where the virus has flared to dangerous levels and forced officials to pull back on their reopening plans.
posted by katra at 2:05 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Good news, everyone! A full 2 weeks after my friend in Dallas got tested, they just called with her results. She's negative. How useful of a testing timeline is that?! Her nasal swab was on the 11th. Ah well, I'm sure it'll be no problem that her job just cut off her health insurance for being unable to work for a 14-day period.

*goes back to day drinking and screaming into the void*
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:55 PM on July 25 [20 favorites]


Other states have a higher rate of incidence and the people visiting from other states are much more likely to be out in public if left to their own devices, whether it be eating at a restaurant, shopping for antiques, or working in some office somewhere.

Sure, but even if the current infection rate in another state were something huge like 5% (around where FL is right now), so few of those folks are visiting MA at any given time that it can't amount to more than a tiny fraction of the 30,000 currently infected.
posted by chortly at 3:27 PM on July 25


'Nobody’s ever seen anything like this': how coronavirus turned the US election upside down (David Smith, Guardian, Jul. 25, 2020)
Now it seems the old maxim of “It’s the economy, stupid” will be replaced by “It’s the virus, stupid” as the defining issue for voters, not least because the suffering and death have a direct impact on the economy itself: Americans have filed 52.7m unemployment claims over the past four months. [...] Against the implacable foe of the virus, Trump has repeatedly sought to divert and distract. He seized on the Black Lives Matter protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis not with healing and compassion but by attempting to stoke “culture war” divisions over crime and Confederate statues. Still, the pandemic persisted.

[...] But there may be no greater demonstration of the pandemic’s reach than polling day itself, due to take place on 3 November amid health fears, a surge of mail-in voting and a prolonged count that Trump might seek to discredit and exploit. This week more than 30 advocacy groups and grassroots organisations joined Protect the Results, a project to mobilise millions of people should Trump “contest the election results, refuse to concede after losing, or claim victory before all the votes are counted”.
18 states set single-day case records over the last week, driving the U.S. toward another national high. (NYT live blog)
More than 73,500 cases were reported on Friday, according to a New York Times database, approaching the country’s record of 75,697 cases, set on July 16. Since June 24, the seven-day average has more than doubled, to more than 66,100 on Friday from 31,402.
Florida coronavirus infections pass 400,000 with 12,444 new cases (Orlando Sentinel, Jul. 24, 2020)
Statewide, the latest positivity rate made available by the Florida Department of Health, for Thursday, was 13.3%.
posted by katra at 3:36 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Messaging is key, and some of our best marketing minds are hard at work. The SF Chronicle asks some experts how to persuade people to wear masks.
posted by PhineasGage at 3:42 PM on July 25


And in a tiny shred of good news, "Sinclair pulls show where Fauci conspiracy theory is aired."
posted by PhineasGage at 3:44 PM on July 25 [13 favorites]


'Nobody’s ever seen anything like this': how coronavirus turned the US election upside down

True for those of us alive today, but for those who lived — and died — during the 1918 Flu Pandemic (WP), things were worse. From BallotPedia (WP), the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle (updated July 24, 2020) discusses American elections during its first national health emergency:
...The November 1918 midterm elections were unlike any other. World War I was raging in Europe. The Influenza pandemic started in the spring of 1918, but a second wave would hit the county in September of that year, and be far deadlier. 195,000 Americans died of influenza in October of 1918 alone.[1] That year, voters elected members of the 66th Congress, 34 out of 50 states elected their governors, and many states elected members for state and local offices.

Prior to the election, Congress and the White House were both Democrat-controlled, under President Woodrow Wilson. After the election, Republicans gained control of both chambers, taking 25 seats in the House and five seats in the Senate. It was the first time since 1908 that Republicans had control of both the House of Representative and the Senate.[2]

Voter turnout for the 1918 elections was low. Voting turnout that year was 40 percent, unlike the midterm elections that took place in 1910 (52 percent) and 1914 (50 percent). The Influenza pandemic and WWI were partly to blame.[2]...
More details and links in the BP article, with quotes from 1918 newspapers and modern analysis.
posted by cenoxo at 5:54 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Trump's fragmented pandemic response may undermine push to address racial disparities (Politico)
In 20 interviews across multiple states, health workers, civil rights advocates and state and local officials told POLITICO that efforts by the CDC and the broader Trump administration to mitigate the impact of the virus on communities of color are falling short. They cited cultural misunderstandings and asserted that mixed messages from the White House have made it harder for counties to get a handle on the disease. [...] Above all, health experts cited the federal government’s failure to back up its recommendations on testing, tracing and quarantines with the funding that communities need to implement them. [...] As the virus disproportionately sickens and kills people of color, the CDC has sent several hundred staffers on missions to states including Georgia, North Carolina, California and Arkansas. They’ve embedded in overburdened local health departments, held focus groups with workers of color and made recommendations to states on targeted testing, bilingual contract tracing and culturally sensitive outreach.

But then they’ve left the communities to figure out how to come up with the funds necessary to put those plans into action. [...] The coronavirus has laid bare these racial divides, but they have long been present, driven by inequities that are structural and pervasive. Health workers and community advocates on the front lines of the pandemic say the federal government has abdicated its responsibility for addressing this systemic problem by turning much of the pandemic response over to the states. [...] At the same time, they say the Trump administration has made the problem worse by going after the social safety net, restricting access to food stamps and housing vouchers.

[...] John Auerbach, the president of Trust for America's Health and a former associate director at the CDC, says months of Black Lives Matter protests could also bolster the CDC’s efforts and make states less likely to ignore or dispute their recommendations. “Everyone is completely strapped right now, but in the post-George Floyd era there is greater awareness about structural racism and how it has led to a wide range of problems including public health,” he said. “So there’s greater receptivity right now for governments to be asking, ‘Are we doing everything we can do?’”
posted by katra at 9:31 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


White House pushes for slashing expanded jobless benefits despite rises in unemployment, coronavirus (NBC News)
More than 30 million people are currently unemployed, with unemployment numbers on the rise as coronavirus continues to grip much of the country. Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases have led some states to delay or roll back their economic reopenings.

[...] Democrats, who released their most recent relief package more than two months ago, blasted Republicans for not having a proposal ready before the expanded unemployment benefits were set to expire at the end of July. "Republicans have had the HEROES Act for two months," Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., told CNN's "State of the Union." [...] Earlier this month, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, two former chairs of the Federal Reserve, pushed lawmakers to extend the $600 expanded unemployment benefit rather than let it expire at the end of July. Speaking before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Yellen said it "would be a catastrophe" not to do so.
White House chief of staff details plan for unemployment benefits; pins recovery on therapeutics and vaccine (ABC News)
With positive COVID-19 cases continuing to surge across much of the United States, President Donald Trump faces calls to slow down his push for schools to reopen this fall and issue a nationwide facemask mandate. On "This Week," Meadows maintained that the administration's attention is fixed on long-term solutions, saying that he was "hopeful" the administration may have "very good news on the therapeutic and vaccine front ... in the next couple of days." Meadows further argued that intermediate steps, such as facial covering mandates and a rollback of economic reopening plans, while potentially helpful, would not be the efforts that end the pandemic. "It's not masks. It's not shutting down the economy. Hopefully it is American ingenuity that will allow for therapies and vaccines to ultimately conquer this," Meadows said.
US records more than 1,000 Covid deaths a day as Republicans mull relief (Guardian)
Donald Trump’s first contribution to the debate was to call Pelosi “crazy” while crowing about his decision to implement travel restrictions on China early in the pandemic.
posted by katra at 10:39 AM on July 26 [5 favorites]


Top White House officials say Congress might need to rush narrow relief bill to avoid unemployment aid lapse (WaPo)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that Congress might have to pass a narrow piece of legislation this week to ensure enhanced unemployment benefits don’t expire for millions of Americans. But they both also said the slimmed down legislation should include sweeping lawsuit protections demanded by businesses, a provision that Democrats have opposed for weeks. Democrats also oppose the White House push to extend the unemployment benefits at a dramatically reduced amount.

[...] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the GOP inaction and said Democrats have been waiting to negotiate. “We’ve been anxious to negotiate for two months and 10 days when we put forward our proposal,” Pelosi said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “They’re in disarray and that delay is causing suffering for America’s families.” [...] Pelosi on Sunday declined to say whether Democrats would accept an amount lower than $600 per week. “You don’t go into a negotiation with a red line,” Pelosi said. “But you do go in with your values.” Pelosi also said the liability protections the GOP wants to put in the legislation would put workers at risk, removing the onus from companies to ensure that workers don’t contract the coronavirus while they are on the job. "What they’re saying to essential workers, ‘You have to go to work because you’re essential. We place no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe and if you get sick you have no recourse,’” she said.
posted by katra at 10:58 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


“ Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
posted by snofoam at 11:00 AM on July 26 [6 favorites]


Minority Essential Workers Protest Racial Disparities During Pandemic (NBC 6, Jul. 20, 2020)
On Monday, other minorities providing health care at assisted living facilities and nursing homes drove in a caravan to care locations in North Miami-Dade and Broward County. This group says that Black and Hispanic people have the lion’s share of these jobs at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, saying they could use better and more protective personal equipment. The workers also say while other employees are able to work from home, they don’t have that choice.

Hospitality workers say the same thing. [...] “A lot of our workers have been out of work for 15 weeks and haven’t received a dollar in unemployment — like nothing," said union vice president Kandiz Lamb with Unite Here. "So people are desperate right now ... We represent hospitality workers and a lot of our workers have lost their health insurance during the pandemic ... We feel like our workers have a knee on their neck, not just from the hospitality employers, but also from the governor.” The workers say this is an example of how the Black Lives Matter movement cuts across the board and is more than about minorities and their interactions with police.
posted by katra at 11:04 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


Essential Workers Hold Walkouts And Protests In National 'Strike For Black Lives' (NPR, Jul. 20, 2020)
The planned day of strikes and protests was organized by 60 different labor unions and racial and social justice organizations, from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to the Movement for Black Lives to the U.S. Youth Climate Strike Coalition. Organizers listed four primary demands on their website: "Justice for Black communities, that elected officials use their authority to rewrite the rules so that Black people can thrive, that corporations dismantle racism, white supremacy and economic exploitation including at work and that every worker has the opportunity to join a union."

[...] A number of Democratic politicians joined in, expressing support in person and through written statements. [...] Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union — which represents nearly 2 million members in the public sector, health care and property services — told Here & Now that essential workers were inspired by the movement for Black lives in response to Floyd's death, and sought to unite the fights for racial and economic justice. She said they want corporations not just to say they value Black lives, but to show it, such as by paying employees living wages and making sure essential workers have all of the protective equipment they need to safely do their jobs during a pandemic. [...] Henry told Here & Now that the dangers posed by the public health crisis have highlighted the need for a unified fight for racial and economic change, which Monday's widespread demonstrations represent. "I think it's a historic moment, a new level of intersection between our fights," she said. "The labor movement is owning that until Black communities can thrive, none of us can thrive."
Previously.
posted by katra at 11:31 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


So 16 million people getting an additional $600/wk for 13 more weeks would "cost" $120B (this money would go right back into the economy so would be immensely stimulative).

Hell, the average COVID treatment is around $70,000, which 10% of serious cases require.

10% of 16 million is 1.6 million, and $120B/$70k = 1.7 million, so the $600/wk would almost pay for itself that way (avoiding 1.7 million serious cases).

Plus Uncle Jerry could just print the money if we want, and you couldn't even find the bump on the graph.

Something that Rand Paul said recently hit me hard:

"This is insane. ... There's no difference now between the two parties."

These people huff their own farts so much they can't believe anybody else has the right approach.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:51 AM on July 26 [7 favorites]


Far more Americans see ‘very strong’ partisan conflicts now than in the last two presidential election years (Pew Research Center, Mar. 4, 2020)
About nine-in-ten Americans (91%) say that conflicts between the party coalitions are either strong or very strong, according to a Pew Research Center survey in January. About seven-in-ten (71%) say these conflicts are very strong. [...] Americans are now substantially more likely to see very strong conflicts between Democrats and Republicans than they were in the past. When the Center first asked the question in December 2012, 47% of Americans characterized partisan conflicts as very strong. Four years later, in December 2016, 56% said this, and 71% see these conflicts as very strong today.
posted by katra at 12:18 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


So 16 million people getting an additional $600/wk for 13 more weeks would "cost" $120B

It's not about the cost. After all, Republicans are perfectly happy to give another $1,200 check to middle class families that don't even need it, if it will help Trump get re-elected.

It's about starving poor people into going back to work, no matter how unsafe. That's the beginning and the end of why Republicans want to cut unemployment benefits.
posted by JackFlash at 1:04 PM on July 26 [34 favorites]


Some US police resist enforcing coronavirus mask mandates (AP)
Lang Holland, the chief of police in tiny Marshall, Arkansas, said he thinks the threat of the coronavirus has been overstated and only wears a face mask if he’s inside a business that requires them. He doesn’t make his officers wear them either. So the day after Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an order requiring masks to be worn in public throughout Arkansas, Holland made it clear his department wasn’t going to enforce the mandate in the Ozarks town of about 1,300, calling it an unconstitutional overreach. “All I’m saying is if you want to wear a mask, you have the freedom to choose that,” said Holland, who said he supports President Donald Trump. “It should not be dictated by the nanny state.” Holland is among a number of police chiefs and sheriffs in Arkansas and elsewhere who say they won’t enforce statewide mask requirements, even within their departments. Some say they don’t have the manpower to respond to every mask complaint, treating violations of the requirement as they would oft-ignored minor offenses such as jaywalking. Others, including Holland, reject the legal validity of mask requirements.

[...] The most vocal police pushback to mask requirements is coming from Republican-led states that aggressively reopened businesses or previously opposed stricter measures such as mask requirements. Hutchinson, who was among a handful of governors who didn’t issue a stay-at-home order, long resisted issuing a mask mandate in Arkansas, but he relented in the face of the state’s worsening numbers.
Florida to discuss reopening bars, official says (ABC News blog, Jul. 25, 2020)
The same day Florida became the state with the second-highest number of cases, [Halsey Beshears, Florida’s secretary of Department of Business & Professional Regulation,] announced that discussions would begin on how to reopen bars "as soon as possible."
Hundreds of Texas bar owners pledge defiance to governor's order (ABC News blog, Jul. 25, 2020)
Approximately 800 bar owners have promised to participate in an event organized by Fort Worth bar owner Chris Polone called the "Freedom Fest" where bar owners have pledged to open their doors in defiance of the governor's orders which could place their state liquor licenses in jeopardy. [Gov.] Abbott had previously allowed bars to reopen with restrictions but ordered them to close again on June 26 after the state experienced a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
posted by katra at 1:08 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


So knowing the words to "O Canada" gives you 100 points on their visa system yes?
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 4:09 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


🎶Ô Canada! Terre de nos aïeux, ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!🎶

(You only get full points for the bilingual version that starts in French.)
posted by bcd at 4:22 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


AP-NORC poll: US course at record low, Trump sinks on virus (AP)
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds Trump’s approval for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic falling to a new low, with just 32% of Americans supportive of his approach. [...] The AP-NORC poll makes clear the challenge ahead for Trump on that front: 8 in 10 Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction. That’s more than at any point since Trump took office. The poll also finds just 38% of Americans say the national economy is good, down from 67% in January, before the pandemic upended most aspects of everyday life. [...] Overall, 38% of Americans approve of the president’s job performance — well within the narrow range that Trump’s approval ratings have stayed throughout this presidency, but down slightly from earlier this year before the pandemic. Most Republicans — 81% — approve of Trump’s job performance, but just 68% of Republicans support his handling of the pandemic.
Azar blames testing delays on states (Politico)
The Trump administration has frequently sought to put the responsibility for the coronavirus response on governors and local officials, even as many public health officials as well as governors have called for a coordinated national emergency response. [...] In a tweet, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted that “Public health labs are in the covid fight, and can be doing even more if they had adequate supplies to run their high capacity systems.”
posted by katra at 4:43 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


It’s like these bar owners have a death wish, if not for themselves, then for their patrons.
posted by haiku warrior at 4:43 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


for me, it's as simple as having a vested interest. You run a business, have a livelihood that depends on things going back to "normal" -- you're inclined to view the situation through that filter. I've been watching it play out in my small, isolated community from the get-go. The people with a stake in this thing not being as bad as the experts keep saying it is -- they're very good at plucking the clues, making the arguments that suit what amounts to their bottom line.

It's transparent.
posted by philip-random at 5:37 PM on July 26 [14 favorites]


Your perspective makes sense, philip-random. But the defiance of authority and disregard of potential consequences (health and legal) are still striking.
posted by haiku warrior at 5:54 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


if we lived in a hard-money world where we actually had to pay for the increase in Federal borrowing since January 1 -- all of $3.5T of it, ~$30,000 per household -- we all might be engaging in some motivated reasoning to get the economy aggressively-ASAP reopened . . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:52 PM on July 26


Not really. The long term, with say a six month horizon, of reopening in our current state will be much greater than taking the time and effort to reopen correctly. It's true that there's no chance of the current administration doing things right but we shouldn't lose sight of what is possible.
posted by rdr at 9:15 PM on July 26 [8 favorites]


It would be completely possible to open up the whole USA given a 6 week shelter in place where person-to-person contacts went down by 90-95% like in Wuhan. It will not work if the shelter in place has dozens of exceptions and basically the lowest quartile of workers still has to go to work at Amazon and supermarkets with minimal PPE (which is what happened the first time in California).
posted by benzenedream at 11:38 PM on July 26 [22 favorites]


So 16 million people getting an additional $600/wk for 13 more weeks would "cost" $120B

The way I think about this is best expressed by Byrne Hobart:

"All these decisions are costly, at least in dollar terms, which naturally brings up the question: how are we going to pay for this? But that’s the wrong question, or rather the wrong pronoun referent: the “this” we’re going to pay for is a pandemic that will kill countless people and disrupt everyone else’s lives. “How” we pay for it is either the affordable way, where the Fed prints money so Treasury can borrow it at 0.8% for ten years, and then spends it to counteract the massive deleveraging involved in putting the economy in hibernation—or the expensive way, where this year’s problem is a plague and next year’s problem is a rolling financial crisis."

Those are the choices. Borrow and pay for it over time with cheap credit or pay for it with economic collapse.
posted by atrazine at 2:08 AM on July 27 [47 favorites]


Trump's national security adviser tests positive for Covid-19 (Politico)
Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has tested positive for Covid-19, making him the highest profile Trump official to get the virus, an administration official confirmed. It’s unclear how O’Brien was exposed to the coronavirus or how much in-person contact he’s had recently with Trump. Anyone who is near the president is tested regularly for the disease.
2 MLB games postponed as Marlins deal with virus outbreak (Politico)
Two major league games scheduled for Monday night were postponed after more than a dozen Miami Marlins players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus in an outbreak that stranded the team in Philadelphia. [...] The Marlins’ outbreak raised anew doubts about MLB’s ability to finish a 60-game season barely underway amid a pandemic.
'The whole church has got it, just about': dozens with Covid-19 after Alabama Baptist revival (Guardian)
More than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus after attending a multi-day revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church, according to the congregation’s pastor. [...] [Pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist church] said the services were shut down by Friday after one of the members who attended tested positive for the virus. The member presented no symptoms, but got tested when several of his co-workers received positive tests, according to the pastor. [...] He said some social distancing measures were in place during the services, which were held multiple times a day, and most members skipped the events out of concern for the virus. Those that attended sat with their own families. Masks were not required, [AI.com] reported. “We let everybody do what they felt like. If you were comfortable shaking hands, you shook hands. If you didn’t, you didn’t,” the pastor said.
posted by katra at 10:11 AM on July 27 [9 favorites]


Why Is It Taking So Long to Get Another Coronavirus Relief Package? • Mary Harris, Slate; July 27 2020 •
Slate’s Jim Newell has covered the dysfunction in Washington for years. But what’s happening now? For him, it’s another level. Republicans have had months to put forward their vision for what a new coronavirus relief package should look like. Instead, they are still working on their vision board. [...] I spoke to Newell about what’s taken so long and what the sticking points are.
Principles and private agendas serving themselves and their benefactors, seemingly. I guess for some, being a deficit hawk is close to religion.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:49 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


2 MLB games postponed as Marlins deal with virus outbreak

The players decided by text to play yesterday after three of them tested positive. I watched the three Pirates / Cardinals games over the weekend. Few if any player wore masks in the dugout (even the ones who wore one on the field -- insanely, this is not a violation of protocol). High-fives (against protocol), spitting (against protocol), players, including the pitchers sitting in the stands, not following distancing protocols. Coaches constantly taking their masks off or wearing them below the nose. I saw the Pirates manager remove his mask while walking down the tunnel at the end of the game. This is at once the world's biggest shitshow and a perfect example of America's response to the pandemic.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:58 AM on July 27 [25 favorites]


150,000. Fifty 9/11s on Trump's watch, and no end in sight.

I'm so sorry, America.
posted by flabdablet at 11:18 AM on July 27 [13 favorites]


Two major league games scheduled for Monday night were postponed after more than a dozen Miami Marlins players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus in an outbreak that stranded the team in Philadelphia. [...] The Marlins’ outbreak raised anew doubts about MLB’s ability to finish a 60-game season barely underway amid a pandemic.

And this is exactly what is going to happen every day 100,000 times over if 100,000 public schools open.
posted by JackFlash at 11:36 AM on July 27 [13 favorites]


States with stricter covid-19 restrictions watch lax neighbors warily, knowing the virus does not respect borders (WaPo)
Half the workforce in Malheur [County, Ore.], where the minimum wage is $4 higher than across the border, lives in Idaho. Other Idahoans come for Oregon’s sales-tax-free shopping and legal marijuana. But the intermingling looks more menacing to Poe and other Malheur officials these days — because unlike in Oregon, masks are not mandated across the border and the coronavirus metrics there are far bleaker. Now, the public health department in that Oregon county has traced cases to origins in Idaho.

[...] To officials in these adjacent places, and to many experts, the tensions illustrate problems inherent with a highly fragmented national response to a virus that knows no boundaries. “I’ve said from Day 1, it would have been a lot easier for the decision-makers if everyone would have been on the same page, and we’d have shut down this or that type of business in our county and state, and the bordering states would have done the same. That’s the only sure way of doing it,” said Herb Simmons, emergency management director in St. Clair County, Ill., which sits across the Mississippi River from Missouri, where restrictions are lower. “What we needed is a national-level plan.”

[...] Even as some states, such as New Mexico, trace cases to neighbors, the extent of cross-jurisdiction spread nationally remains unclear, because gleaning such trends depends on intense contact tracing that is not happening in most places, epidemiologists say. John Graves, a Vanderbilt University researcher who works on modeling for Tennessee, called it “a huge blind spot of a lot of modeling, which assumes a contained population. But given the amount of commuting that happens across state borders, it just stands to reason that we’re not isolated in our own cocoon.” [...] “People are going to Idaho to do restricted activities,” said [Malheur County health director] Poe, echoing a concern officials on the Washington-Idaho border have also expressed. Such gatherings “are very concerning, because it absolutely impacts our population, too.”
posted by katra at 11:38 AM on July 27 [8 favorites]


Republicans have had months to put forward their vision for what a new coronavirus relief package should look like.

Pelosi and the Democrats in the House passed their bill two and half months ago. It's been sitting on McConnell's desk ever since.

It's like Republicans pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare, but in 10 years they still haven't come up with a replacement plan. 10 years.
posted by JackFlash at 11:41 AM on July 27 [14 favorites]


>Why Is It Taking So Long to Get Another Coronavirus Relief Package?

McConnell was not the Majority Leader during the 2008-2011 unemployment crisis with its repeated UEB extensions, but if had been he'd have regularly taken the millions of unemployed as hostages to armtwist concessions out of Pelosi, like he is now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:32 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Mnuchin: We're not gonna use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home.

If we thought the civil instability was bad before, wait until the masses run out of bread. They won't have any circuses on the street either when they get evicted from their homes. I swear this country is going to have a revolution just from the sheer greed of the rich during this crisis.

Even if we do end up evicting 20 million people, what do landlords expect will happen exactly? All of these tenants are going to have evictions and landlords are picky people about who they rent to. 20 million people with evictions for non-payment on their credit/tenant records. I wouldn't be surprised if the rental market collapses while at the same time we're going to have 20 million homeless and 20 million people's worth of unoccupied homes! Then we're going to have foreclosures of landlords who leveraged themselves up to their ears in positively geared debt which is about to flip into grossly negative territory. Some might not even have equity if they're been using interest only loans or using HELOC to get into these markets.

I don't think The Fed has realized this isn't going to be something they can cut and inflate their way out of. We're already at zero bound interest rates.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:33 PM on July 27 [30 favorites]


>wait until the masses run out of bread

AFAICT this is their plan. Chicago '68, LA '92 everywhere. Vote for us for only we can protect you in the widening gyre of violence.

A sane party in power would stuff $1000/wk in everyone's pockets through Election Day to get that feel-good-feeling back.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:37 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


>they can cut and inflate their way out of

printing still works, there's another $2T ($15k/household) where that came from
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:44 PM on July 27


Mnuchin: We're not gonna use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home.

Note that since we're talking unemployment benefits -- and during a pandemic where people can't work or work safely! -- this money goes to taxpayers. And paying them to stay home makes sense.

I strongly doubt the Republican strategy will make them more popular at the voting booth even if it does trigger yet another Trump-created crisis.
posted by Gelatin at 12:45 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


printing still works, there's another $2T ($15k/household) where that came from

The problem is how does this money have any way to get to the populace on the streets to actually cause inflation? The stock market might be fine as they artificially inflate the prices by stuffing money into the market but how exactly are they going to rebuild the underpinnings if the money the Fed is printing is going straight into the pockets of the 1%? 90% have close to zero direct exposure to the expansion of the money supply so they won't benefit at all. We're stuffing the fat cats with so much money so that the crumbs from the table hopefully do something.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:48 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Re Fed intervention, Debt-to-the-Penny has expanded $3.5T since Jan 1; the Fed bought a large piece of that.

This is the Japan road to ruin, or what looks like it at this point, but we're not really Japan I don't think, since we are a net debtor not creditor.

More like the USSR ca. 1990 maybe.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:52 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


“Mitch better have my money”: Protesters march to McConnell’s home as he weighs 80% unemployment cut • Igor Derysh; Salon; July 23, 2020 •
Protesters marched to the Washington home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday to call for an extension of federal pandemic unemployment benefits before they expire next week.

The protesters were accompanied by a caravan of supporters, including a band on a trailer with a banner reading, "Mitch better have my money," which is a play on the Rihanna song "B*tch Better Have My Money."
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:58 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


McConnell was not the Majority Leader during the 2008-2011 unemployment crisis with its repeated UEB extensions, but if had been he'd have regularly taken the millions of unemployed as hostages to armtwist concessions out of Pelosi, like he is now.

Yes, back then McConnell was Minority Leader and exercised filibusters to regularly take millions of unemployed hostages to armtwist concessions out of Pelosi, no different than now.
posted by JackFlash at 1:21 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


I can't help but be struck by the underlying raw capitalist message of the current administration that Americans should just wait for the ability to purchase yet to be developed products and treatments (vaccines and therapeutics) that will handle this pandemic rather than doing things that cannot be as thoroughly privatized and commercialized such as acting like a community or a civilization.

You want to live? Just wait for the market to create while trying not to die then hope you can afford the price if and when it does.

So very American to think that you can make people buy their way out of pandemic.
posted by srboisvert at 2:33 PM on July 27 [29 favorites]


A stingy new GOP plan for unemployment benefits reflects Trump’s twisted vision • Greg Sargent; WaPo OpEd; July 27, 2020 •
The problem isn’t just that Republicans are aiming to slash supplemental benefits to remove the supposed incentive to refrain from returning to jobs, when there are 15 million fewer of them in the economy.

To be sure, that’s bad: As Martin Longman points out (link), this is a standard manifestation of GOP ideology, but at a particularly grotesque moment. Indeed, as John Stoehr notes (link), amid the crisis, people are acutely aware of individual economic precarity, the contributions of essential workers and our dependence on one another, so it will appear particularly reprehensible and out of touch with the moment.

But there’s another layer to this as well. It’s that Republicans are operating from the assumption that people will want to resume economic activity at the level needed to vault us back to normalcy whether or not the coronavirus has been tamed. That’s Trump’s stated assumption. And it’s wrong.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:37 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


But there’s another layer to this as well. It’s that Republicans are operating from the assumption that people will want to resume economic activity at the level needed to vault us back to normalcy whether or not the coronavirus has been tamed. That’s Trump’s stated assumption. And it’s wrong.

This. People don't go splashing out on new TVs and patio furniture when shit is busy hitting the fan (if you could get them in the store). They squirrel away everything they can and hoard cash. Another problem with trying to stop a deflationary spiral.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:48 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Yep. People want "the economy" to open - but don't want to die for it, or transmit the virus to people who'll die. What good is a new TV if you're on a ventilator? Nothing's going "back to normal" without a huge, scientifically well informed response, including testing, contact tracing, masks, distancing, staying home, and relief money / rent & mortgage relief to people who need it and so on - all of which needs to be coordinated on a federal level at least, because as good as some states are, state by state isn't working.

And trump's administration won't do that.

Without that strong federal response, we're not getting a "second wave" in the fall, because the first wave will still be in full force. The U.S. doesn't have even a slight chance of containing COVID-19 until next spring, and that's assuming trump loses in November - it's going to take months to clear the trump administration rot and put people in place who can actually run such a program.
posted by mrgoat at 4:13 PM on July 27 [13 favorites]


Our household has been splurging on gardening supplies and seeds, which may not be entirely prudent but at least feels useful. We know we'll never be able to feed ourselves out of two 4x5" patches in a raised planter behind our apartment building, but it's been very good for our mental health to spend time with the plants every day. And eating the food we've grown, even when it's just a small handful of peas and some arugula over pasta, also seems to be good for our mental health. More so than our physical health, I think.
posted by Lexica at 4:14 PM on July 27 [22 favorites]


Target joins Walmart in ending Thanksgiving store shopping (AP)
Target is joining Walmart in closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day, ending a decadelong tradition of jump-starting Black Friday door buster sales. The move, announced Monday, comes as stores are rethinking this year’s Black Friday shopping bonanza weekend — along with other key retail days during the holiday season — as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic. [...] “Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds,” Minneapolis-based Target said in a corporate blog posted. It said its holiday deals would come earlier than ever — starting in October. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced its move last week.
posted by katra at 4:21 PM on July 27 [10 favorites]


“We let everybody do what they felt like. If you were comfortable shaking hands, you shook hands. If you didn’t, you didn’t,” the pastor said.
The Guardian article katra linked to above left out the most telling part of the pastor's comments (source article from AL.com) :
“We knew what we were getting into,” Ross said. “We knew the possibilities. But, my goodness, man, for three days we had one of the old-time revivals. It was unbelievable. And everybody you ask, if you talk to our church members right now, they’d tell you we’d do it again. It was that good.
1,778 new cases in Alabama overnight, and 1,446 deaths in the state so far, but who cares long as we still got that old time religion!
posted by TwoToneRow at 4:23 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


"And everybody you ask, if you talk to our church members right now, they’d tell you we’d do it again. Except for the ones on ventilators, I mean. It was that good."
posted by chortly at 4:32 PM on July 27 [12 favorites]


Lexica > ...We know we'll never be able to feed ourselves out of two 4x5" patches in a raised planter behind our apartment building, but it's been very good for our mental health to spend time with the plants every day. And eating the food we've grown, even when it's just a small handful of peas and some arugula over pasta, also seems to be good for our mental health....

America’s Patriotic Victory Gardens, History.com, Laura Schumm, 8/31/2018:
During World War I, a severe food crisis emerged in Europe as agricultural workers were recruited into military service and farms were transformed into battlefields. As a result, the burden of feeding millions of starving people fell to the United States. In March of 1917¬—just weeks before the United States entered the war—Charles Lathrop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission to encourage Americans to contribute to the war effort by planting, fertilizing, harvesting and storing their own fruits and vegetables so that more food could be exported to our allies. Citizens were urged to utilize all idle land that was not already engaged in agricultural production—including school and company grounds, parks, backyards or any available vacant lots.

Promoted through propaganda posters advocating that civilians “Sow the seeds of victory” by planting their own vegetables, the war garden movement (as it was originally known) was spread by word of mouth through numerous women’s clubs, civic associations and chambers of commerce, which actively encouraged participation in the campaign. Amateur gardeners were provided with instruction pamphlets on how, when and where to sow, and were offered suggestions as to the best crops to plant, along with tips on preventing disease and insect infestations...
Victory Gardens (more at WP) were also popular shortly after America entered WWII. Plant some seeds against Covid-19 and Make America Grow Again!
posted by cenoxo at 6:27 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


Texas death toll grows by 675 after state changes its death reporting methodology (WaPo live blog)
The Texas Department of State Health Services acknowledged that the revision is an improvement over the agency’s old system, which for months advertised a virus death toll that was far too low. The new total — 5,713 — is about 12 percent higher than the state previously reported. From June 1 to July 1, Texas reported 803 covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled in real time and analyzed by The Washington Post. But after changing its methodology, the state says 1,384 people died in that period — a toll 72 percent higher than disclosed at the time, a crucial period during which Texas pursued but then called off its aggressive reopening strategy. The change amounts to a course correction for a state that experts said was undercounting its dead, and it comes after Texas has spent weeks in the national spotlight for a surge in coronavirus cases and fatalities.

The state health department said it will use death certificates now to identify covid-19 fatalities, instead of counting them as they were reported by local officials. [...] The state claims it now knows the race and ethnicity of nearly everyone who has died. According to the updated numbers, Hispanics account for 47 percent of the state’s deaths, despite making up about 40 percent of its population. The data does not include people who had covid-19 but “died of an unrelated cause.” The health department did not respond to questions about how many cases are among that group and what constitutes an unrelated cause.
posted by katra at 7:26 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Yeah, we're on our second crop of lettuce, and the snow peas and sugar peas were OK. Have some cucumbers growing for pickles, and got a few legacy raspberries. Half of our old Blueberries are going gangbusters as well. Feels like a bit of a Victory.
posted by Windopaene at 7:31 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


150,000. Fifty 9/11s on Trump's watch, and no end in sight.

That's Benghazi x 37,500.
Fucking hearings are gonna take decades...
posted by pee tape at 9:01 PM on July 27 [14 favorites]


So it looks like the numbers are almost certainly being fudged after the change from them being reported via the CDC to HHS.

Video here from Dr Jeff Hester and twitter thread discovering the same thing here from @dcpetterson.

The graphs they're using do also seem to match up with those from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/.

It's particularly stark when split into red and blue stated (per previous election), the blue states keep the more or less same trajectory whereas the red ones go from what looks like an exponentially increasing curve to a decreasing one at a sharp angle.
posted by Buntix at 5:49 AM on July 28 [8 favorites]


Trump has downplayed the virus and opposed basic public health measures not simply because of his default anti-science stance, but because he wanted to project a sense of normalcy to secure his re-election. The violence these decisions have caused against the American people, the suffering and death, is an unfortunate side effect.

However, he has a new campaign strategy. The projection of normalcy didn't work. In the globally unique resurgence of the American epidemic, the chaos visible around us is being attributed to Donald Trump's incompetence, and his polling is bad. So, the Federal Executive is now trying to instigate a different kind of chaos: sending in paramilitary forces to inflame conflict related to protests in American cities. This time, the violence is not a side effect; violence is the point. This is a form of chaos and violence which they can blame on the left, and which can act as a distraction from Trump's continuing epidemic, and which can strike fear into the hearts of voters who will hurry home to that supposed paragon of law and order, famous non-criminal Donald Trump.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:07 AM on July 28 [14 favorites]


New Jersey Covid-19 cases rising amid outbreaks fueled by large gatherings, house parties (Politico)
Some of New Jersey’s rising daily case totals could be attributed to backlogs of test samples submitted to commercial labs. Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing companies in the U.S., reported average delays of up to seven days on Monday. However, compliance with social distancing guidelines also appears to be wavering. Flare-ups of new cases have been linked to house parties in Long Beach Island, Middletown and Stone Harbor. Large gatherings at restaurants, bars and beaches, with limited adherence to face covering requirements, have been also been reported. According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released earlier Tuesday, 66 percent of the 809 New Jerseyans questioned favor keeping coronavrus restrictions in place until a vaccine or treatment is available. Just 29 percent favor a return to normal. At the same time, 77 percent support mandatory mask requirements in public, while 20 percent say masks should be optional and a “reflection of one’s personal freedom.”
14 in Texas family test positive for coronavirus after small gathering, 1 dies (NBC News, Jul. 27, 2020)
Tony Green, who lives in Dallas and hosted the event, wrote a column titled, "A harsh lesson in the reality of COVID-19," in which he said he was a former COVID-19 denier. The column was published online July 24 in the "Dallas Voice," which describes itself as "a media source for LGBT Texas." "I admit I voted for Donald Trump in 2016. I admit traveling deep into the conspiracy trap over COVID-19," Green wrote. "All the defiant behavior of Trump’s more radical and rowdy cult followers, I participated in it. I was a hard-a-- that stood up for my 'God-given rights.'" Green added: "In great haste, I began prognosticating the alphabet soup about this 'scamdemic.' I believed the virus to be a hoax. I believed the mainstream media and the Democrats were using it to create panic, crash the economy and destroy Trump’s chances at re-election." [...] Green said he decided to publicly document his family's diagnoses because he knows many people in the Dallas area who are unconvinced the virus can be deadly and of the importance of social distancing.
posted by katra at 11:51 AM on July 28 [10 favorites]


It's disgusting how many people ignore science and public health warnings in service to the cruelest president and administration in years, with ideologies of "I am better than everyone else" and only care when their own people and themselves suffer and die. I am so inside-out angry about it every day.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:16 PM on July 28 [29 favorites]


Trump again pushes disproven drug as COVID-19 treatment (AP)
President Donald Trump’s attempt to project a more serious tone about the coronavirus lasted for about a week. On Tuesday, he resumed spreading misinformation about how to fight the virus and amplifying criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who said he’d keep his head down and do his job. [...] Trump retweeted a series of tweets advocating for the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to be used in COVID-19 patients, including a video of a doctor claiming to have successfully used the drug on hundreds of patients. [...] Trump also shared a post from the Twitter account for a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, a former top White House adviser to Trump, accusing Fauci of misleading the public over hydroxychloroquine.

[...] Facebook, Twitter and YouTube began scrubbing their sites of the video Monday because it includes misleading claims about hydroxychloroquine, and glosses over the dangers of taking it. But dozens of versions of the video remain live on their platforms, with conservative news outlets, groups and internet personalities sharing it on their pages, where users have viewed them millions of times. [...] Facebook is trying to remove the video because it is “sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” according to Andy Stone, a spokesman for the platform. Twitter also said it is working to remove the video. A tweet from the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., describing one version of the video as a “must watch!!!” Monday night was also taken down by the platform. Twitter put Trump Jr.’s account on a 12-hour timeout, meaning he cannot tweet or retweet during that period. He’s also required to delete the tweet before he will be reinstated. Twitter declined to say when the timeout began. Fearing internet untruths about coronavirus cures or treatments could jeopardize lives, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube earlier this year began cracking down on dangerous misinformation about the coronavirus on their sites.

In the video, Dr. Stella Immanuel, a physician from Houston, Texas, promotes hydroxychloroquine as a sure-fire cure for the coronavirus. She claims to have successfully treated 350 people “and counting,” including some with underlying medical conditions. “You don’t need masks, there is a cure,” Immanuel says in the video. “You don’t need people to be locked down.” She was among a group called “America’s Frontline Doctors” who made misleading claims about the virus at a news conference Monday in Washington. Several Trump allies, groups and conservative news outlets shared the video of the event on Facebook and Twitter.
posted by katra at 12:26 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


If you aren't aware of this Stella Immanuel from other coverage already, this Daily Beast article gives some relevant background:
Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.
So, there's that. Oh, and her response (on Twitter) to Facebook taking down her video:
Hello Facebook put back my profile page and videos up or your computers with start crashing till you do. You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name.
Not going to link that one, but I am going to assume it tells me everything I need to know about the rest of the “America’s Frontline Doctors” folks.
posted by bcd at 12:53 PM on July 28 [16 favorites]


HOW DOES SOMEONE LIKE THAT STILL GET TO TESTIFY TO CONGRESS? I swear, I am losing my damn mind.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:55 PM on July 28 [8 favorites]


As far as I'm aware, she wasn't testifying to Congress. They were just speechifying out on the steps in front of the Supreme Court. Would be illuminating to know who paid for them to travel to DC though, wouldn't it?
posted by bcd at 12:58 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]


Ah lobbying Congress, apologies.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:59 PM on July 28


How does someone like that still have a medical license?
posted by Windopaene at 1:00 PM on July 28 [36 favorites]


California investigates Amazon's treatment of workers during pandemic (Guardian, Jul. 27, 2020)
California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and the San Francisco department of public health “have all opened investigations into Amazon’s practices” around the pandemic, San Francisco superior court judge Ethan Schulman wrote in a court filing on Monday. [...] The online retailer is accused of putting workers at “needless risk” by having them share equipment, such as freezer suits, and not allowing extra time in order to respect social distancing, the filing said. The filing originates from a case brought by Chiyomi Brent, a worker at Amazon’s San Francisco fulfillment center. Schulman on Monday refused to issue a preliminary injunction that would have closed the warehouse Brent works at until more precautions are taken. He said Brent had failed to show immediate harm was possible and that three government bodies investigating Amazon were better suited to handle her concerns.
'Egregious' distancing violations at Chainsmokers charity concert – Cuomo (Guardian)
New York health authorities will investigate a charity concert in the Hamptons, which included performances by the Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon and DJ duo the Chainsmokers, over what Governor Andrew Cuomo called “egregious” social distancing violations. [...] The state health commissioner, Howard Zucker, wrote that he was “greatly disturbed” by reports of an event “which apparently involved thousands of people in close proximity, out of their vehicles, a VIP area where there was no pretense of a vehicle, and generally not adhering to social distancing guidance”. The Hamptons, a summer enclave for wealthy New Yorkers, has become a hideout from a metropolis ravaged by Covid-19, with tens of thousands decamping to second homes and pricey rental properties.
‘It’s constant verbal abuse’: San Francisco bus driver recounts assault after enforcing mask rule (Guardian)
A San Francisco bus driver who was assaulted last week said that both he and his Asian passengers have faced racist abuse when they have asked other riders to wear their face masks during the pandemic. [...] Since the early weeks of the pandemic, bus drivers across the United States have spoken out about anger and assaults from passengers, particularly when they try to enforce public health rules about social distancing and mask-wearing. [...] Roger Marenco, the president of the local chapter of Transit Workers Union of America, confirmed that bus drivers in San Francisco have faced verbal assaults and racial slurs “on a daily basis”.
posted by katra at 3:48 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]


Handled correctly, even a large, public nursing home for some of the most at-risk populations can have success at fighting the coronavirus: "How SF’s Laguna Honda averted coronavirus disaster."
posted by PhineasGage at 4:13 PM on July 28 [3 favorites]


It's disgusting how many people ignore science and public health warnings in service to the cruelest president and administration in years, with ideologies of "I am better than everyone else"

It's not just "I am better than everyone else" (though there's certainly that), it's also "I am just as smart as anyone else." Fox News, I believe, likes to say "you decide" as a slogan. No! When an epidemiologist, or environmental scientist, or expert on racism or fascism tells you a thing, you don't decide! You're not an expert. Your dumbass opinion is not just as good as theirs. If it seems fishy to you, you can decide to research some more. You are not qualified to decide they are wrong out of hand because you don't like the answer.

It's incredible how many unqualified people will argue law with lawyers, medicine with doctors, etc. on the internet, and not for fun! They legit believe they're qualified to have opinions and so sure they're not the crazy one. What a world.
posted by ctmf at 4:21 PM on July 28 [31 favorites]


National teacher union supports strikes over reopening plans (AP)
One of the nation’s largest teachers unions is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic. The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans. In providing its blessing, the union is also offering local chapters access to its financial and legal resources as they navigate a return to the classroom. Union officials said they will provide legal support, communications support and staffing to local chapters that vote to strike.

Although the measure says strikes should be considered only as a “last resort,” it lists conditions the organization wants met for schools to reopen. It says buildings should reopen only in areas with lower virus rates, and only if schools require masks, update ventilation systems and make changes to space students apart. In announcing the measure, the union’s president blasted President Donald Trump for pressuring schools to reopen even as the virus continues to surge. Randi Weingarten called Trump’s response “chaotic and catastrophic,” saying it has left teachers afraid. “We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators,” Weingarten said. “But if authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table.”
posted by katra at 4:25 PM on July 28 [19 favorites]


A few comments back I wondered, "Would be illuminating to know who paid for them to travel to DC though, wouldn't it?"

Evidently I wasn't the only one who was curious. NBC news reports:
That Monday's so-called news conference had more speakers than attendees was of little matter. Livestreamed by the far-right website Breitbart News, the video spread quickly, initially through conservative, anti-vaccination and government conspiracy groups. Within hours, it had reached over 20 million Facebook users.

The event was hosted and funded by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing political nonprofit group led by Jenny Beth Martin, the group's co-founder, who spoke at the news conference. The group, which collects funds through two nonprofit groups and a political action committee, has raised over $24 million since 2014 to support Republican causes and candidates.
Astroturf all the way, as expected.
posted by bcd at 7:07 PM on July 28 [14 favorites]


Estimated 40% of Mumbai residents have had the infection.
posted by Gyan at 10:40 PM on July 28


'One big wave' – why the Covid-19 second wave may not exist (Guardian)
The Covid-19 pandemic is currently unfolding in “one big wave” with no evidence that it follows seasonal variations common to influenza and other coronaviruses, such as the common cold, the World Health Organization has warned. [...] With no agreed-upon scientific definition, the term “second wave” has been used to mean anything from localised spikes in infection to full-blown national crises, leading some experts to avoid it. [...] Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control, is among those arguing that the concept is unhelpful for “implying that Covid-19 will act as the flu acts”.

Complicating the issue is perspective. Seen from a global viewpoint – such as that of the WHO – the pandemic appears as a single, large and still-accelerating outbreak, with worldwide numbers doubling in the past six weeks. [...] What can appear like a second wave is sometimes different areas of the same country simply being out of phase with each other in experiencing the epidemic, as in the US where a strong but uneven first wave moved initially in fits and starts and then more quickly.
Trump defends sharing video on discredited drug and falsely claims much of U.S. is ‘corona free.’ (NYT live blog)
He claimed that “you can look at large portions of our country — it’s corona-free,” even as federal officials distributed a new report finding that 21 states had outbreaks so severe that they were in the “red zone.” Twenty-eight states were in the “yellow zone,” and only one state, Vermont, was in the “green zone.” [...]

At the briefing Mr. Trump was asked about one of the speakers in the video, who identified herself as Dr. Stella Immanuel. She claimed “you don’t need masks” to prevent the spread of the virus and spoke of treating hundreds of virus patients with hydroxychloroquine. He called her “impressive.” [...] When a reporter mentioned Dr. Immanuel’s background to the president, including comments attributed to her that “doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens,” Mr. Trump responded, “I know nothing about her,” and abruptly ended the briefing moments later.
posted by katra at 11:03 PM on July 28 [6 favorites]


only one state, Vermont, was in the “green zone.”

That's too easy. Vermont is the green zone.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:44 AM on July 29 [6 favorites]


He claimed that “you can look at large portions of our country — it’s corona-free,”

Of course, he's doing the same damn thing he did with his "look how bigly I won the election" maps - confusing land with people. (Whether he is doing so intentionally or not, well . . .)
posted by soundguy99 at 5:30 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Trump simply cannot help himself. One week of appearing to take the outbreak more seriously, and then he goes off the rails again. Not surprising, perhaps, but still astounding.
posted by haiku warrior at 6:00 AM on July 29 [10 favorites]


The grift continues. Kodak, essentially an IP holding company at this point, which had previously attempted a pivot to cryptocurrency, will receive a $765 million government loan to create a pharmaceutical division. The loan amount represents ~63% of its annual revenue. The announcement has created an enormous spike in Kodak's share price. Suspiciously, trading volume in Kodak stock doubled on July 27th, which was the day before the announcement on July 28th. Trading volume has since increased massively, fueled in part by users of the Robinhood investment app.

Kodak has not been in the pharmaceutical business since 1994.
posted by jedicus at 9:20 AM on July 29 [26 favorites]


Louie Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask, tests positive for coronavirus (Politico)
Rep. Louie Gohmert — a Texas Republican who has been walking around the Capitol without a mask — has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple sources. Gohmert was scheduled to fly to Texas on Wednesday morning with President Donald Trump and tested positive in a pre-screen at the White House. The eighth-term Republican told CNN last month that he was not wearing a mask because he was being tested regularly for the coronavirus. [...] Reps. Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Tom Rice (R-S.C.) have tested positive for the virus, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

[...] Gohmert attended Tuesday's blockbuster House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr in person, where lawmakers were seated at some distance from one another. But footage from before the hearing shows Gohmert and Barr walking together in close contact, with neither wearing a mask. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr will be tested for coronavirus on Wednesday.
posted by katra at 9:33 AM on July 29 [10 favorites]


Average age of U.S. Senator 63 years old.
Average age of U.S. Representative is 58 years old.
(source)
You'd think these geezers would show more caution.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:40 AM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Both Gohmert and Barr are in my thoughts and prayers, in addition to many of their colleagues.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:46 AM on July 29 [13 favorites]


US coronavirus deaths near 150,000 as 21 states declared 'red zones' (Guardian)
The nation recorded the deadliest day of the summer in the last 24 hours, with more than 1,200 confirmed coronavirus deaths, the highest daily toll reported by the country since May, according to a tally by Reuters. [...] White House coronavirus taskforce coordinator Deborah Birx on Tuesday said hotspots threaten regions where cases are controlled. Birx warned: “We can see the virus moving north. What we’re seeing across the south right now is both rural infections, as well as small metros and major metros, simultaneously.” [...] In Illinois, 73 people are among a Covid-19 outbreak in Lake Zurich which has been traced back to several Fourth of July gatherings. “We have identified multiple smaller gatherings where Covid-19 infections occurred,” said Hannah Goering, of the Lake county health department. [...] An internal Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) memo obtained by ABC News reports that nationwide new cases are going down but deaths are increasing. In the seven days ending Monday, new cases nationwide have decreased 0.6% from the previous week, but that time period also saw a 30% increase in deaths from the disease, and deaths have been increasing steadily in recent days, the TV network reported on Wednesday.

[...] Meanwhile, Republicans in the White House and Congress were in disarray over their own plan for providing $1tn in new coronavirus aid on Tuesday, as negotiations aimed at reaching a compromise bill with Democrats also sputtered. The Democratic party House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said she would meet the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on Wednesday for an “airing of our differences”, after Democrats called the latest GOP rescue plan now caught up in fraught negotiations and infighting among conservatives “totally inadequate” on Monday.
posted by katra at 10:00 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


More coronavirus grifting. The Senate coronavirus bill has $2 billion to remodel the FBI building. Nobody seems know, or is willing to admit, how it got into the coronavirus bill.

There has been a long term plan to build a new FBI headquarters in the suburbs as the downtown office space is inadequate. The old building is a block away from the Trump Hotel. Trump was interested in buying the vacated FBI building, but that became impossible when he became president. So now Trump just wants to make sure no other developer can buy the property and build a competing hotel a block from the Trump Hotel.

So Trump demands $2 billion from taxpayers to make sure the FBI building stays occupied even though that is not what the FBI wants.
posted by JackFlash at 10:04 AM on July 29 [14 favorites]


Louie Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask, tests positive for coronavirus

And why was he tested? Well, of course, because he was scheduled to fly on Air Force One to Texas with Trump today.

Funny how everyone who gets within 20 feet of Trump can get tested and have instant results but the rest of the U.S. has to wait two weeks. "Slow the testing" he said, "except for me."
posted by JackFlash at 10:27 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]



In the US, as of the middle of the day, July 29th, 2020:

Number of states with more than 10,000 confirmed cases: 39
Number of states with more than 50,000 confirmed cases: 24
Number of states with more than 100,000 confirmed cases: 13

Number of states with less than 2,500 confirmed cases: 2
Number of states with less than 1,000 confirmed cases: 0

Number of states with more than 1,000 COVID deaths: 27
Number of states with more than 5,000 COVID deaths: 9

Number of states with less than 100 COVID deaths: 5

(source: worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us)
posted by gwint at 10:34 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


in my thoughts and prayers

Somehow, I had never noticed the inherent ambiguity of this phrase.
posted by Not A Thing at 10:36 AM on July 29 [21 favorites]


Both Gohmert and Barr are in my thoughts and prayers, in addition to many of their colleagues.

Bless their hearts.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:43 AM on July 29 [23 favorites]


Hateful incidents against Americans of color surge amid pandemic (Guardian)
About four in 10 Black and Asian adults reported increased racial tension since the pandemic began, according a survey released this month from the Pew Research Center. Some in Asian communities have reported facing xenophobic attacks, while some Black Americans have reported targeted harassment for wearing masks. Black and Asian Americans were most likely to report being subject to racist slurs or jokes than their white and Hispanic counterparts. At 31%, Asian respondents reported being the target of slurs or jokes compared with 21% of African Americans, 15% of Latinos and just 8% of white people. [...] According to Pew, about three in 10 Black adults under 50 feared someone might threaten or physically attack them, and a quarter had been subject to slurs or jokes since the coronavirus outbreak.

Across the country, organizations tracking racial targeting and hateful attacks reported surges in hateful incidents. Arusha Gordon, associate director of the James Byrd Jr Center to Stop Hate with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, noted increased “flyering” – which is when groups “leave hateful flyers around targeted communities”. [...] “We see trends of pseudo-intellectualism on message boards with white supremacists using what is happening with the coronavirus to make unfounded claims of biological superiority or to mock what’s happening to the Black and Asian communities affected,” Gordon said. [...] The president has faced mounting criticism for his record on race, including responses to both the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests. Gordon noted that “much of the racist rhetoric surrounding the pandemic” the center found in white supremacist message boards were “direct insults first hurled or tweeted by the president”.
posted by katra at 11:20 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


So Trump demands $2 billion from taxpayers to make sure the FBI building stays occupied even though that is not what the FBI wants.

Demands it, yes, but not even the rabid right is agreeing to it at this moment.
posted by Melismata at 11:25 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


From Masking Naysayer To Covid Victim, The Louie Gohmert Story

How many of the fearless R true believers are taking "prophylactic" hydroxychloroquine like Trump was?
posted by benzenedream at 11:40 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]




Demands it, yes, but not even the rabid right is agreeing to it at this moment.

Then we can only assume that the provision was written into the text of the Republican Senate bill by some sort of immaculate conception.
posted by JackFlash at 12:28 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Chris Hayes: HE BROUGHT HIS STAFF INTO A ROOM WITH HIM TO TELL THEM ALL HE HAS COVID AYFKM?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:31 PM on July 29 [21 favorites]




Trump dismisses virus aid for cities, lashes out at GOP (AP)
President Donald Trump on Wednesday dismissed Democratic demands to include aid for cash-strapped cities in a new coronavirus relief package and he lashed out at Republicans, saying they should “go back to school” if they reject money for a new FBI headquarters in the nation’s capital. [...] “It’s the best piece of property in Washington,” Trump added. “Republicans should go back to school and learn,” he said. ”You need a new building.”

[...] Trump and Republicans are resisting giving cash to states and cities, complaining about their management. At one point this year, McConnell said states could just declare bankruptcy. His home state, Kentucky, is among many facing deep wells of red ink. It’s clear that Democrats hold sway because Republicans are so deeply divided over the prospect of big government spending that McConnell is left with a severely weakened hand.
posted by katra at 12:49 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


The Texas Tribune profiles "Last Responders" in the Rio Grande Valley.

This is useless speculating, but the demon sperm news makes me think things wouldn't have been much better if Clinton had won. The official response would have been good, with far fewer deaths if the New York outbreak was caught early. But the right wing would have gone all-in on chaos. The senate would be obstinate, state/local leaders strident, the astroturfing relentless, and media could spin both "worst government failure ever" and "dem's excuse to muzzle you" as they sell fake cures. I mean, even more than they are.
posted by netowl at 12:56 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


Yes, netowl, I was thinking about this, too, as the similar counterfactual, "What if Obama were President when this happened." Fox News, which went nuts when Obama wore a tan suit, would have gone completely bonkers at anything he did to try to contain the virus, while simultaneously shrieking at him for not already having contained it. They really are an irrational death cult.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:00 PM on July 29 [14 favorites]




SFGate: California withholds virus money from 2 defiant cities
Atwater's City Council declared itself a “Sanctuary City” for businesses and made it clear it won't enforce the state’s public health order. Coalinga's City Council approved a resolution calling all businesses “essential” and thus able to remain open despite the state's shutdown orders.

“It’s just politics, that we have the word ‘sanctuary’ for businesses and faith-based (organizations)," Creighton said, adding that, “We support ‘open and safe’ — masks, social distancing.”

The money from the state fund would have gone to help local businesses hard hit during the pandemic, to buy more personal protective equipment, and to more education and outreach, he said.

"Everything we need that money to do, we’re not going to be able to do now,” Creighton said.

City officials would like to sue the state, he said, but can't afford to fight that battle.
posted by Lexica at 2:56 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


Misinformation on the virus is proving highly contagious (AP)
“It is a real challenge in terms of trying to get the message to the public about what they can really do to protect themselves and what the facts are behind the problem, said Michael Osterholm, head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. He said the fear is that “people are putting themselves in harm’s way because they don’t believe the virus is something they have to deal with.”

Rather than fade away in the face of new evidence, the claims have flourished, fed by mixed messages from officials, transmitted by social media, amplified by leaders like Trump and mutating when confronted with contradictory facts. [...] Social media has amplified the claims and helped believers find each other. The flood of misinformation has posed a challenge for Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, which have found themselves accused of censorship for taking down virus misinformation. [...] Of all the bizarre and myriad claims about the virus, those regarding masks are proving to be among the most stubborn. [...] Many of the claims around masks allege harmful effects, such as blocked oxygen flow or even a greater chance of infection. The claims have been widely debunked by doctors. [...] Yet trusted medical authorities are often being dismissed by those who say requiring people to wear masks is a step toward authoritarianism. [...] Trump’s reluctant, ambivalent and late embrace of masks hasn’t convinced some of his strongest supporters, who have concocted ever more elaborate theories to explain his change of heart. Some say he was actually speaking in code and doesn’t really support masks. [...] That’s not surprising, according to University of Central Florida psychology professor Chrysalis Wright, who studies misinformation. She said conspiracy theory believers often engage in mental gymnastics to make their beliefs conform with reality. “People only want to hear what they already think they know,” she said.
posted by katra at 4:28 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


This is useless speculating, but the demon sperm news makes me think things wouldn't have been much better if Clinton had won.

I mean maybe or maybe the Trump dismantled pro-active infectious disease infrastructure would have still been in place resulting in the U.S. leading an international effort to contain the virus almost immediately in cooperation with China leading to it to burn out locally and never even become a world wide pandemic.
posted by srboisvert at 4:30 PM on July 29 [22 favorites]


Are you serious? You really think Clinton would have ignored the experts, not worn a mask, suggested bullshit remedies, and done nothing but grift? Are you a NYT subscriber or what?
posted by Windopaene at 4:45 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


The proposition is more that Clinton and lefty voters not having a Trumpian meltdown wouldn't have prevented the right from going ahead and having a weird meltdown anyway with all the deleterious effects that come with it. To what extent that would be enough to mean similarly bad numbers vs. a better outcome with not much less cultural coalrolling, hard to say, but I think it's a fair point that Trump isn't the sole cause of reactionary anti-mask, anti-closure, anti-anti-F R E E D O M agitation in the US.
posted by cortex at 4:50 PM on July 29 [14 favorites]


And they would have looked like dumbass shitheads, as they are with the majority of Red Freedom States taking the top spots for new cases of late. 13 of the top 15 states with new cases are red states, with 3 or 4 purple states. Only California, largest population and Illinois, are Blue states. Neither of which were anti-mask, WE NEED TO REOPEN states...
posted by Windopaene at 4:57 PM on July 29


Since sometimes I see a number of new cases in a particular state and wonder whether that is bad news or at least an improvement, I put together an analysis of How Many Daily New Coronavirus Should Your State Have?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:15 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


I concur that the Republicans in general would have been just as bad, but the actual government response wouldn't have been this bad or ridiculous if literally anyone else was in charge.

Only California, largest population and Illinois, are Blue states. Neither of which were anti-mask, WE NEED TO REOPEN states...

I can't speak for Illinois, but California was at least a WE NEED TO REOPEN state, hence why we are as bad as we are.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:34 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


The Govenor wasn't. Lots of municipalities perhaps, but, the state is now denying them funding. And there were those northeastern counties that were rebelling that way.
posted by Windopaene at 5:41 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


California is overall a blue state, but some parts of the state are intensely red. This article about California’s Political Geography 2020 has some data about that.

As a Californian, my perception is that right-leaning Californians deeply resent that the state overall is blue.
posted by Lexica at 5:44 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


Any normal president would have followed the pandemic playbook and led a competent federal response. Trump is more of a symptom than the cause of an unhinged right wing, and they have firehoses spraying crazy everywhere, maybe enough to overwhelm the feds in places. Then again, the fact that US is #1 and Brazil is #2 points to presidents themselves causing the worst outbreaks.

... leading to it to burn out locally and never even become a world wide pandemic.

Given how it spreads we would have to been really on the ball, but it's plausible. That's really sad to think about.
posted by netowl at 5:45 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Considering that nearly every other country in the world led by non-narcissists has controlled covid, the conclusion is that most of the US deaths were avoidable by just consulting public health experts (eg the New York bloom was caused by the stupid recall of infected citizens from Italy and France with no quarantine). Trump also managed to cripple the CDC by preventing the public communications experts from doing their job whereas any rational person would have stepped back and let them do their jobs. We still would have had a few NO MASK nuts and COVIDGHAZI investigations but not what we have now -- 150000 preventable deaths laid at the feet of a reality TV buffoon who thought the virus was a distraction from a "good news" economy reelection campaign.
posted by benzenedream at 6:17 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Los Angeles reopened way too early, and it's not Republican at all. Thats why we have the most cases in the US (which has the most cases in the world, so I'm literally in the worst place in the world for COVID...). And they're already talking about being able to reopen again more soon...

Orange County reopened even more aggressively, and they're purple (voted for Clinton over Trump, but still lots of Republicans).

It's not just the rural/Republican areas.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:19 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


I think the international airports in Chicago had a big effect on Illinois numbers, causing an early and sustained outbreak. I assume there is a lot domestic travel (and some international )going through Chicago airports still which will cause problems even if the locals do everything right.

Downstate Illinois started out ok, but case levels are creeping up. The earlyish mask mandate helped us, but downstate hasn't been taking it seriously enough.

And Illinois is surrounded by states that are doing a worse job of handling the pandemic. So even if we could mostly get it under control, we'll continually get new infections spread by travelers without national/regional shut-downs and/or travel restrictions.
posted by Blue Genie at 6:34 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


Orange County reopened even more aggressively, and they're purple (voted for Clinton over Trump, but still lots of Republicans).

I can remember walking past a white power rally being held in the quad of Garden Grove high school in the 90s. Orange County has some pretty insidious right-wing roots.
posted by ishmael at 6:41 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Six months and 150,000 deaths: the defining Covid-19 moments in the US – timeline (Guardian)
30 January

The World Health Organization (WHO) labels the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. But Trump continues to downplay it, telling a crowd in Iowa: “We only have five people. Hopefully, everything’s going to be great.”
U.S. covid-19 deaths could be in ‘the multiple hundreds of thousands’ if not controlled, group says (WaPo live blog)
Coronavirus deaths in the United States could be in “the multiple hundreds of thousands” if the country does not reverse the continued rise of new cases, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The nonprofit representing medical schools and teaching hospitals outlined an 11-step plan of action that the country could adopt to address the virus that has infected more than 4 million people and killed over 152,000.

Its suggestions include making sure there is an adequate stock of lab supplies, personal protective equipment and medications, detailing how to increase testing and ensure its accessibility and creating national standards for face coverings. The United States should establish and enforce criteria for local stay-at-home orders and reopening measures and create a school reopening standard for K-12 schools, according to the AAMC. Longer-term solutions include broadening health insurance and strengthening the public’s health infrastructure.
posted by katra at 7:31 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Dr. Fauci: Wear goggles or eye shields to prevent spread of COVID-19; flu vaccine a must (ABC News)
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested Wednesday that Americans should consider wearing goggles or a face shield in order to prevent spreading or catching COVID-19. "If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it," the nation's top infectious disease expert told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton during an Instagram Live conversation on ABC News. When asked if we're going to get to a point where eye protection is recommended, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases responded, "It might, if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces."
Pelosi mandates wearing masks on the House floor after Gohmert case (Politico)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she would now require all members to wear masks on the floor. [...] "Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times in the hall of the House. Except that members may remove their masks, temporarily, when recognized,” she said. "The speaker has the authority to direct the sergeant at arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of decorum," Pelosi said, adding that not wearing a mask would be considered a "serious breach of decorum." [...]

While House Democrats implemented proxy voting in an effort to discourage at-risk members from flying back and forth to Washington, Republicans have for the most part refused to participate. The result is hundreds of lawmakers traveling from across the country — many coming from hot spots like Florida, Texas and Arizona — to vote and attend committee hearings in person. Later Wednesday, retiring Rep. Francis Rooney from Florida became the first Republican to vote by proxy since the House changed its rules in mid-May, specifically citing Gohmert's positive test as a reason to do so. Rooney had previously signaled he wanted to use proxy voting only to be discouraged by Republican leaders, who are suing Democrats over the constitutionality of remote voting. [...] The House's rules, overall, go further than the Senate's; McConnell opposes the use of proxy voting on the floor. [...] Gohmert is one of several Republicans who has openly flouted the request for members to wear masks, despite nine lawmakers testing positive for the coronavirus in recent months. Dozens of staff inside the building, including Capitol Police officers, have also tested positive. [White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows told reporters Gohmert was asymptomatic.
posted by katra at 9:02 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


Meadows told reporters Gohmert was asymptomatic.

Those are the worst. The spreaders. If he hadn't been scheduled to join Trump on Air Force One and screened you still wouldn't know.
posted by JackFlash at 9:24 PM on July 29 [8 favorites]


That Fauci comment about eye protection is really scary. Now that fomites have been downgraded as a major risk factor, I was hoping masks would be enough to keep one safe until there is a vaccine.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:59 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


When I make my weekly shopping trip, and see the grocery workers wearing the face shields, I'm like, yeah. But, then they seem to go maskless. I'd do both. They are also heros. But, not abiding by the rules TBH.
posted by Windopaene at 10:25 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


From the Guardian live blog on July 15, 2020: "Reuters is reporting that the top doctor in the Swiss mountain region that includes St Moritz and Davos told restaurants yesterday not to rely on plastic visors to protect their employees from Covid-19 infections, saying they “create a false sense of security”. [...]
Marc Tischhauser, director of the Grisons restaurant industry association, told Reuters the doctor’s warning was a reminder that visors play a “complementary role” in protecting against Covid-19 infections, and that proper social distancing and face masks are also necessary to be effective. [...] Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health said masks are better because they “slow the speed of breath or the dispersion of spit and slime drops” while visors “just capture drops that land on the screen”.
posted by katra at 10:46 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Lancet editor Richard Horton has harsh words for Trump, hope for science (WaPo)
In May, his editorial board — based mostly in Britain — stirred controversy by wading into U.S. politics and advocating that Americans should elect a president “who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.” Now Horton is out with a new book, “The Covid-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop it Happening Again.” [...] He accuses President Trump of a “crime against humanity” for cutting World Health Organization funding during a pandemic. He blames British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for thousands of excess deaths. Horton spoke via Zoom with The Washington Post to explain why he thinks politicians and scientific advisers in the United States and Europe got so much so wrong. He also shared what he expects from research on vaccines and treatments. [...]

Q: And not everyone will accept a vaccine? [...] How can science address these concerns?

A: Yes, the anti-vaccine movement is mobilizing again. [...] There are different elements within the anti-vaccination community. There is the extreme anti-vaccination wing, and you’re never going to convince them with any science. [...] There’s a much larger group of concerned citizens who want to do the right thing, but they’re scared. They see the debate and don’t fully know what to make of it. We need to be as transparent and honest as possible about the evidence. We need to put every vaccine through the correct safety and effectiveness testing. We don’t cut corners, and we listen to what people are saying. We don’t call them crazy or nuts or any other epithet. Our task should be to build confidence by giving information and answering legitimate questions.

Q: [...] The pharmaceutical companies are going to make billions of dollars. Are these folks looking after our best interests [...]?

A: I have confidence that the science is going to give us reliable answers. But I’m not confident that the system we have in place is going to deliver a fair outcome. We’re seeing your government and my government buying up vaccines that are not yet ready, not yet available, but buying up options on vaccines to protect their populations. That isn’t the way we should be thinking. We have to have a global response and need to protect those most at risk. We know who those people are. They’re older. People with chronic diseases. They’re from black and minority ethnic populations, and workers in the health system. They’re the people who need to get the vaccine. Not me.
posted by katra at 11:37 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


After his organization downplayed the threat of COVID, Turning Point USA co-founder dies of coronavirus-related complications
posted by gwint at 5:20 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]




Everything's fine. Send the kids to school. Oops, too dangerous to hold an election.

Nice timing on this distraction tweet...almost exactly the same time as stories break about US economy posting its worst drop on record.
posted by HyperBlue at 6:51 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


Six months and 150,000 deaths:

Media complaint #639: Everywhere it's being reported that "OMG 150,000 deaths!!" which of course is terrible, BUT nowhere are they mentioning DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE, which I have to look up myself. The full context of a tragedy would be much appreciated, papers of record!
posted by Melismata at 7:03 AM on July 30


My understanding is that delaying the election would only shorten the time until January 20, the date set in the Constitution for the end of presidential terms. Seems like it would be more to Trump's advantage to move up the election day, if that were possible, instead of running down the clock. But I'm not the one with the galaxy brain.
posted by emelenjr at 7:30 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]




The true cause of death was overdose of populism from an incompetent charlatan severely out of his depth.

RIP to him.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:56 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Turns out the private company awarded the contract for gathering COVID data via/for HHS has some pretty serious links to the Trumps. And everyone's favourite financial establishment:
And Richard Horowitz, one of the company's principals, is credited with helping connect the Trump Organization with Deutsche Bank, the German bank that has financed over $2 billion in Trump projects over the past two decades.
Full article Irregularities in COVID Reporting Contract Award Process Raises New Questions [NPR]

Not helping the conspiracy disbelieving part of me that wants to think that the sudden dip in the case numbers for Trump voting states at the CDC/HHS changeover was just a wild coincidence and really just mask wearing legislation and similar kicking in.
posted by Buntix at 8:19 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


The true cause of death was overdose of populism from an incompetent charlatan severely out of his depth.

According to the obit, he also went to the Tulsa campaign rally. Ah well.
posted by Melismata at 8:28 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I can’t say anything nice, so: May his memory be a cautionary tale.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:30 AM on July 30 [15 favorites]


i admire montgomery and cain's commitment and sincerely wish that more people who share their beliefs were willing to go to such length to own the libs.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:17 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


The most charitable thing I can manage regarding Herman Cain: May God have mercy on his soul.
posted by holborne at 9:42 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Iowa is full steam ahead on opening schools. Today marked our highest death number since sometime awhile ago. Test positivity percent has been rising and rising, today it was over 10% on the 7 day rolling, I believe. Our governor just moved the goal posts to 10% positive test rate as FINE AND DANDY and would not say masks work in a pointed question.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:53 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


i admire montgomery and cain's commitment and sincerely wish that more people who share their beliefs were willing to go to such length to own the libs.

Every person who gets the disease can infect two or three others, including healthcare workers. That's not good for anybody.
posted by JackFlash at 9:54 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


2nd US virus surge hits plateau, but few experts celebrate (AP)
Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska College of Public Health said the trend could also be due to natural dynamics of the virus that scientists to do not yet understand. Without robust testing and other measures to keep the virus in check, a third peak is possible — or even likely — given that only an estimated 10% of Americans have been infected so far, experts said. And there’s no reason to believe the peak can’t be larger than the first two. “This disease will continue to hopscotch around until it finds tinder — susceptible individuals — like any good fire,” said Khan, a former top infectious-disease outbreak investigator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Republicans flat-out reject Trump's suggestion to delay election (Politico)
Trump does not have the power to unilaterally push back the date of the Nov. 3 election; only Congress holds that authority under the Constitution. Lawmakers from both parties on Thursday said they oppose delaying the election, and many Republicans in particular have touted the merits of voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. “He can suggest whatever he wants. The law is what it is. We’re going to have an election that’s legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as we’ve always done it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters. In bipartisan public reports, the Senate Intelligence Committee has emphasized that American officials, including the president, should not seek to undermine faith in U.S. elections, arguing that such statements aid malign efforts by foreign countries to meddle in campaigns. [...] “He’s always trying to divert attention from his overwhelming failure on Covid,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a brief interview. “And it’s not going to happen.”
posted by katra at 10:17 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


I can’t say anything nice

A response to this sort of situation sometimes apocryphally attributed to Harry Truman: "It's a shame when anyone dies."
posted by jackbishop at 10:18 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Head of retail workers union calls for companies to take burden of enforcing mask use off employees (WaPo live blog)
As retail workers nationwide are confronted by unruly and sometimes violent customers who refuse to wear masks while shopping, the head of the largest union representing those employees said companies have unfairly burdened workers with the responsibility of mask enforcement — to the detriment of both workers and customers. It’s the employers’ responsibility to provide safe workplaces, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. He told The Washington Post on Thursday that companies should hire security or entrust store managers with enforcing mask policies.

“Employees should not be expected to put their safety and their life on the line for the employer. That’s an unreasonable expectation,” Appelbaum said. The union was able to negotiate ahead of New York’s Phase 3 reopening in early July for eligible workers at stores such as Macy’s to bow out of interactions with customers flouting a mask rule without reprisal. But workers without such protections, Appelbaum said, are unfairly put on the front lines of the culture war over mask-wearing that could endanger them and customers.
posted by katra at 10:59 AM on July 30 [15 favorites]


Herman Cain has died from COVID-19

What's the quote from Clarence Darrow? "I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:52 PM on July 30 [14 favorites]


Republicans flat-out reject Trump's suggestion to delay election

Democrats counter-proposal. Let's have the election next week!
posted by JackFlash at 1:00 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


That headline on about the new COVID reporting contract is infuriating. "Irregularities in COVID Reporting Contract Award Process Raises New Questions"? Fuck you, NPR, if you can't do any better than sound like Sen. Susan Collins. (And I won't even pile on by pointing out the shitty grammar.)
posted by PhineasGage at 1:21 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I read a tongue-in-cheek social media suggestion to the problem katra describes above, but the more I think about it the more logical it seems -

Hire the out-of-work bouncers from the closed-down bars to enforce mask-wearing at the entrances to various shops. This lets the employees go back to being employees and gives the bouncers work. Also, they've had experience dealing with belligerent, illogical customers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:42 PM on July 30 [40 favorites]


Herman Cain’s death reminds me of a song about plagues from my youth;
🎶
Die by my hand
I creep across the land
KILLING ALL YOUR FAM

I rule the INDOOR air
The destroyer.
BORN! I shall soon be there.
Deadly mass
I creep the steps and floor
Final darkness
MASK!
CLOTH MASK, COVERED FACE

I shall pass

🎶
—Metallica, “Creeping Death”
I mady be paraphrasing slightly there.

People like Cain and Tony Green who told people this was a scam and not to wear masks, they need to wear this like an albatross. Their grief does not earn them a pass on this one, not when we’re still struggling to get people to mask the F up.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:44 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I count about 6 people without masks sitting next to Cain in the Tulsa photo. If at least half of ‘em don’t catch The ‘Rona, I will be surprised AF.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:50 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Our governor just moved the goal posts to 10% positive test rate as FINE AND DANDY and would not say masks work in a pointed question.

It's worth pointing out that even in a Stalinist state where there is an absolute ruler and the truth changes every week, you would not have this level of incompetence. You might have 180 degree policy U-turns, but not this helpless flailing. The governor is scared that mercurial Trump will go back to being anti-mask next week so he'd better not go pro-mask because everyone thinks Trump is a bullshitter and you can't believe anything he says, so you might as well take your cues from the most rabid Trumpists instead.
posted by benzenedream at 1:54 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Herman Cain sacrificed his life, reminding all people of the importance of following public health guidelines. The fact that he did this involuntarily in no way lessens the magnitude of his achievement. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:54 PM on July 30 [28 favorites]


At best, his life will serve as a cautionary example of what happens when you join up with the Republican death cult. At best.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:57 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


The magnitude of Cain’s achievement is tempered rather substantially by the amount of damage he caused by telling people not to wear masks.

On balance, his life did more harm than his death will do good. He is an object lesson in consequences, not some fucking martyr to the greater good, and a lot of us are not here for his canonization.

Like, at all.,
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:24 PM on July 30 [19 favorites]


I learned about Herman Cain's death while watching John Lewis' funeral. So there you go.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:28 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


(I believe EMRJKC'94 was indulging in a bit of drollery...)
posted by PhineasGage at 4:12 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Vanity Fair: How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air,” by Katherine Eban.

"Though Kushner’s outsized role has been widely reported, the procurement of [a million contaminated and unusable] Chinese-made test kits is being disclosed here for the first time. So is an even more extraordinary effort that Kushner oversaw: a secret project to devise a comprehensive plan that would have massively ramped up and coordinated testing for COVID-19 at the federal level....Rather than have states fight each other for scarce diagnostic tests and limited lab capacity, the plan would have set up a system of national oversight and coordination to surge supplies, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks....But no nationally coordinated testing strategy was ever announced. The plan, according to the participant, “just went poof into thin air.”"
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:20 PM on July 30 [14 favorites]


I've just noticed that Cain's media team was posting mask denialism to his account in the hours around his death. Fucking republicans, I can't even.
posted by Catblack at 5:05 PM on July 30 [18 favorites]


Fuck you, NPR

You do realize that it was an NPR investigation that uncovered the irregularities and that it's NPR that's drawing attention to the issue, right? But yeah, fuck them I guess.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 5:19 PM on July 30 [16 favorites]


Half of the COVID19 patients in Spain are developing neurological disorders.

Surviving The ‘Rona may be a lifelong chronic neuropathological condition.

But, you know; open the schools, and we can’t do without sports.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:21 PM on July 30 [22 favorites]


Thank you for the Vanity Fair link, MonkeyToes, it seems to fill in a blank I don't recall seeing reported elsewhere:
The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point. Simply working together as a nation on it “would have put us in a fundamentally different place,” said the participant. But the effort ran headlong into shifting sentiment at the White House. Trusting his vaunted political instincts, President Trump had been downplaying concerns about the virus and spreading misinformation about it—efforts that were soon amplified by Republican elected officials and right-wing media figures. Worried about the stock market and his reelection prospects, Trump also feared that more testing would only lead to higher case counts and more bad publicity. Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, was reportedly sharing models with senior staff that optimistically—and erroneously, it would turn out—predicted the virus would soon fade away.

Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force. Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

On April 27, Trump stepped to a podium in the Rose Garden, flanked by members of his coronavirus task force and leaders of America’s big commercial testing laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, and finally announced a testing plan: It bore almost no resemblance to the one that had been forged in late March, and shifted the problem of diagnostic testing almost entirely to individual states.
posted by katra at 5:44 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


“The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,”

Psychopaths.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:48 PM on July 30 [51 favorites]


Yes, ultraviolet catastrophe, I'm delighted at the NPR investigation, truly. But the "raises questions" tone of the headline is antiquated and inappropriate for the current moment, as has been discussed, oh, in several hundred threads here on Metafilter, and by Margaret Sullivan, Jay Rosen, and every other media commentator in the past decade.
posted by PhineasGage at 6:52 PM on July 30 [10 favorites]


NPR and NYT get no credit from me.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:58 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Skimming the Vanity Fair article, I got the impression that Kushner & friends were occasionally close to doing something right, but one slip up or another always led to big failure after big failure. This is more optimistic than they deserve.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:25 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Public health experts issue urgent call for change of course as U.S. economy tanks (WaPo)
Public health experts called for urgent new measures Thursday to halt the spread of the coronavirus amid warnings the U.S. economy is in a historic and devastating contraction as covid-19 is killing Americans at the rate of about one every minute. The stock market took a dive after the Commerce Department reported the economy shrank by 9.5 percent in the second quarter, the biggest recorded decline since the government began keeping track 70 years ago. The government also reported jobless claims climbing again last week by 1.4 million, another sign the recovery is fizzling. GDP shrank at an annual rate of 32.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

[...] At an evening news briefing, President Trump tried to swat away the raft of bad news about the economy and the disease, which he referred to as the “China virus” and compared to a plague. “It’s China’s fault,” he said flatly. [...] But in deflecting any blame for the spread of the virus he once predicted would miraculously vanish in days and now has killed nearly 150,000 Americans, Trump offered several misrepresentations. For example, he said children were “immune” to the disease and should return to school this fall. In fact, immunologists have said that while children under the age of 10 are unlikely to transmit the novel coronavirus, children older than 10 can spread it as easily as adults. Trump also predicted a rapid economic recovery from the precipitous drop in employment and consumer spending caused by the pandemic. [...] Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said any recovery depends on whether Americans are willing to embrace behavior that can beat back the virus. “The path of the economy is going to depend, to a very high extent, on the course of the virus and on the measures we take to keep it in check,” he said Wednesday. “Social distancing measures and a fast reopening of the economy actually go together. They’re not in competition with each other.”

[...] The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security released a report [pdf] Wednesday with 10 recommendations for action and another stark warning. “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,” six scholars wrote.
posted by katra at 7:28 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]


oh, herman cain
your pizzas were bad
your politics

were bad
also
but now

you are a
cautionary tale of man's
hubris
so thanks

- rupi kaur
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:57 PM on July 30 [10 favorites]


Trump knows that if he loses in November and they actually get him out of office, he goes to jail.

So he has no reason not to let the whole country burn if there’s a chance he can be president of the ashes. This is why all the public health experts you can line up will make no difference if what they’re talking about isn’t keeping trump out of jail.

Anything else really isn’t on the agenda.

Honestly, what we’re going through feels surprisingly like what the fiction I was reading in the 90s predicted for 2020, minus cyberjacks behind the ears.

But as far as America just collapsing into an incompetent heap of destitution, recrimination, plague, and ecological degredation while the rest of the world just gets own with their business... that’s a story arc I’ve seen before.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:58 PM on July 30 [8 favorites]


Unless NPR and NYT start calling for impeachment hearings about someone who is disappearing people off the streets of major cities, and who said he would not honor the results of an election, nor guarantee to hold that election, they are also a part of the problem. They were a part of the problem in October 2016 and they are definitely a part of the problem now in July 2020, in the middle of a pandemic and the attendant economic collapse.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:07 PM on July 30 [15 favorites]


Officials dispute Trump’s claim that the US military is preparing COVID-19 vaccine distribution, McClatchy News, Michael Wilner & Tara Copp; 7/29/2020:
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says the U.S. military has an elaborate plan to distribute a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine across the country at rapid speed. But defense and administration officials say otherwise.

It is unlikely the military will be involved, either in the distribution of a vaccine or in deciding who gets those precious initial deliveries, [two unidentified] officials from both the White House and Defense Department said. ...the military commands most likely to have a stake in establishing a delivery strategy — including U.S. Northern Command, which is responsible for homeland defense, or the U.S. National Guard — had not been asked to plan or prepare for distribution.

White House officials said the Defense Department stands “ready and able to assist,” but did not detail a plan for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed by the military. And an official at the Department of Health and Human Services went further, stating that military assistance in distributing a vaccine would be the exception — not the norm....
That runs contrary to repeated statements from Trump, who said the military was being mobilized as early as May and has made similar assertions at several events throughout July, the most recent this week.

More vaccine distribution details in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 9:26 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Did Trump stay up too late watching Contagion?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:38 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Johns Hopkins Experts Address COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges, Realistic Timelines (CBS 13)
Johns Hopkins public health experts laid out challenges in distributing and administering coronavirus vaccines. “A vaccine isn’t going to work if you’re not going to receive it,” Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev of the Johns Hopkins Bloomber School of Public Health said. “Most likely, older adults will be prioritized. Health care workers will clearly be prioritized on the front line. The question then becomes what about essential workers? What about keeping the economy going?”

[...] A reasonable timeline for wide distribution of vaccines is likely the end of 2021, according to Dr. Bar-Zeev. “Even after we have a vaccine that works and even after we demonstrate its safety and efficacy and even after we’ve produced enough doses to go around, at least for the first round, we still need to get it delivered and that’s going to be a big challenge,” Dr. Bar-Zeev said.
posted by katra at 9:44 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


> On balance, his life did more harm than his death will do good. He is an object lesson in consequences, not some fucking martyr to the greater good, and a lot of us are not here for his canonization.
...

It took until 1966 for advocates to win a base wage for tipped workers, and that amounted to only 50 percent of the minimum wage already guaranteed to other workers. Congress continued to raise the subminimum tipped wage until 1996, when Herman Cain, who headed the National Restaurant Association at the time, offered legislators a bargain: The industry would accept a small increase in the minimum wage as long as the tipped wage was frozen at $2.13 an hour.

Congress agreed to the deal, and the tipped minimum wage remains just $2.13 to this day. Employers are supposed to pay the difference if tips don’t bring workers to the full regular minimum wage. But too often that law is not enforced. When the Department of Labor conducted an unusual compliance sweep of 9,000 full-service restaurants between 2010 and 2012, they found that 84 percent had violated the subminimum wage system.

...

politico: The Racist History of Tipping


via motherjones: Herman Cain’s Enduring Lobbying Triumph - It has kept restaurant workers poor for decades.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:59 PM on July 30 [23 favorites]


To me, tipping reducing the minimum wage has been one of the most obviously evil laws in America since I got here, so I'm delighted to learn Herman Cain was responsible.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:07 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Trump knows that if he loses in November and they actually get him out of office, he goes to jail.

a point I've been arguing for a while now. He'll probably opt for an insanity plea, end up in a padded mansion.
posted by philip-random at 11:27 PM on July 30


Skimming the Vanity Fair article, I got the impression that Kushner & friends were occasionally close to doing something right, but one slip up or another always led to big failure after big failure.

I disagree. My reading of the article is that Kushner’s team came up with a coherent and ambitious testing plan and brought it to Trump. Trump said “I don’t like testing because big numbers of cases are bad for my ratings. Also this disease only affects Democrat states.” And then he buried the plan.

The article places the blame for this catastrophe directly and entirely on Trump.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:48 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


philip-random: "Trump knows that if he loses in November and they actually get him out of office, he goes to jail.

a point I've been arguing for a while now. He'll probably opt for an insanity plea, end up in a padded mansion.
"

But none of this, though? Nowhere inside of Trump's solipsistic reality is there even the remotest possibility of him going to jail (and he's probably right about this one thing). There are no consequences for him. It's only the ego-wound that he's protecting against. There's no way he could be a loser, he's the greatest person to ever live! If he's not getting everything that he wants, it can only be because someone is cheating him out of it. That's as far as his brain goes.
posted by team lowkey at 12:36 AM on July 31 [15 favorites]


Here comes such an action alert: It is still useful for anyone who has the momentary gumption to report to your crowds on how you're still doing masks, how you're still staying apart, how it's hard, how you appreciate everyone doing the same. It is good to keep encouraging folks to hold the line. Everyone is craving "normalcy" and it seems good to normalize the weird new stuff to do to keep everyone a bit safer. Normalizing this weird keeps everyone a bit saner. My home state's papers are tired of my letters to editors. Keep it up, though. If you're in a place that complies and you have the capacity, please check in with the people in wilier climes. They need the social encouragement and normalizing. Masks, hands, physical (not social!) distance.

If you have tiny money and some free time, it would make sense to buy a radio ad here and there in any rural climes you might care about. They're cheap as hell and you can hire an actor friend (take one of mine, please) to record a gentle thank-you to the people who wear a mask and stay apart. I bet some Mefite has radio advertising experience, and that's real good for rural areas where people are still driving to work and full of resentment at being genuinely neglected by American politics for quite a while now.

Keep going. Keep doing. Sign up as a poll worker or census taker, if you can. Hang in, if you can't. Love to all of you.
posted by lauranesson at 1:19 AM on July 31 [26 favorites]


lauranesson's comment above is great, and I'll toss in a charming little idea our youngest passed along recently: paying your small children 50¢ to point and loudly announce, "Mommy/Daddy, why isn't that person wearing a mask??" Seems way more effective than confronting them directly.
posted by bcd at 1:49 AM on July 31 [29 favorites]


A U.S. President will never do jail time. That is a lovely fantasy, but I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:51 AM on July 31 [15 favorites]




2nd US virus surge hits plateau, but few experts celebrate (AP)

Plateau? When you think you’ve reached the peak of a mountain enshrouded in fog, all you really know is beneath you. Wait a few weeks after U.S. schools reopen and that minuscule 3% rate decline will vanish.
posted by cenoxo at 6:46 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


Plus, it only looks like a plateau because the numbers from the red states suddenly, sharply, headed downwards the very day the reporting switched from CDC to HHS. Funny how that works.
posted by bcd at 6:53 AM on July 31 [23 favorites]


Thank you, lauranesson, for your exhortation to us all. I am doing contact tracing for a county government. Hearing the voices every single day of people who are suffering from this brutal disease makes it easy to keep to my own safety discipline. Everything each of us does to encourage others to do the same is absolutely vital.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:21 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


I don't think the switch from CDC to HHS is truly impacting the reporting. Johns Hopkins is showing a similar plateau, and if I understand their data set correctly, they aggregate from multiple sources for national reporting, and on a state-by-state level, they get it from each State's health department directly. I think it'd be too dismissive to just assume the recent slowdown is because the federal government is somehow juking the stats.
posted by Room 101 at 7:21 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


From the COVID 19 Tracking Project (at The Atlantic), @COVID19Tracking:
And we find no evidence to support a popular online conspiracy theory that the switchover from the CDC system to the Health and Human Services system explains a national plateau in new coronavirus cases. The theory is unsupportable: As we explain below, hospitals do not report case count or testing data to the federal government, and those trends in the data are reflected across too many different independent sources to be subject to centralized tampering. ”

They get case, testing, and death numbers from the states directly. The hospitalization numbers are messed up, but they already were messed up.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:23 AM on July 31 [24 favorites]


We Need to Talk About Ventilation: How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?

The “superspreader” events seem to be about the three Vs: venue, ventilation, and vocalization. Indoors, poor ventilation, and people singing/chanting/talking loudly. This summer could be dangerous when it gets hot and people go where the air conditioning is.

I wonder if karaoke as I have come to know it will ever be a thing again in my lifetime. Ain’t nobody gonna be sharing a microphone in a poorly ventilated bar singing any time soon.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:43 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


COVID-19 Data Dives: Why Arguments Against SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol Transmission Don't Hold Water • Jose-Luis Jimenez, PhD; Medscape; July 30, 2020 •
It is unfortunate that key deciding bodies in major health organizations, that have concluded that SARS-CoV-2 does not transmit through the aerosol route, lack researchers with expertise in aerobiology, aerosols, and building science, among other disciplines. In this case, a general lack of awareness can lead to incorrect conclusions.

Going forward, major medical publications should engage aerosol experts to review papers that involve aerosol transport. More important, it is critical that medical researchers collaborate with aerosol researchers and related fields.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:41 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


The Risk That Students Could Arrive at School With the Coronavirus (NYT)
The estimates assume that children are as likely to carry and transmit the virus as adults — “a large assumption, given the unknowns about children,” said Spencer Fox, a member of the research team. “This is meant to be a rough guide, a first step,” Dr. Fox said. Some preliminary studies have suggested that children are infected less often, or that young ones do not transmit the disease as readily, which could reduce the risk, said Carl T. Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington. But those questions remain unresolved, he said.

[...] In eight states, most people live in counties where even a school of only 100 people would probably see an infected person in the first week if school started today, the estimates say: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, Arizona and Georgia. The list is even longer for schools of 500 people: The vast majority of people in 19 states, including California, Texas and Illinois, live in counties where at least one infected person would likely show up to school in the first week if in-person classes were held. Many of those areas have elected to hold classes online for now.
posted by katra at 8:44 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


I wonder if karaoke as I have come to know it will ever be a thing again in my lifetime. Ain’t nobody gonna be sharing a microphone in a poorly ventilated bar singing any time soon.

If that were true, the pandemic wouldn't be burning through the US like wildfire. The fundamental problem is that people are not actually avoiding activities that obviously present a heightened risk.

I wouldn't suggest taking part if you value your health and the health of those around you, but plenty of people are willing to take the risk. :(
posted by wierdo at 8:45 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Fauci: Virus rampant in U.S. due to inadequate, patchwork shutdowns (Politico)
The Trump administration's decision to leave coronavirus shutdown decisions to the states created a patchwork of policies that effectively only imposed restrictions on about half of the country, NIH infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci told a House hearing on Friday. “There were some states that did it very well, and there were some states did not," Fauci told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Friday morning without elaborating.
Guardian: Anthony Fauci sets out his “five basics” for curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Masks (yes), Crowds (no), Distancing (yes), bars (cheers, but nope), washing hands (yes). He said that congregating in any crowds can increase the risk of catching Covid-19.

New York Democrat Nydia Velázquez pointed out that “it does not matter what you say if it’s undermined by the President of the United States.”
posted by katra at 8:50 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Trump tweets falsely about testing during House hearing (WaPo live blog)
President Trump appears to be watching the House committee hearing on his administration’s response to the pandemic, tweeting his debunked claim that America has more positive cases of coronavirus than other countries because it tests more. [...] Public health experts, even those within Trump’s administration, have challenged the president’s excuse for the country’s surging cases, saying that while more testing will uncover more cases, the testing is revealing a higher percentage of people testing positive, which represents a real increase in cases, not an artificial one as Trump claims.

During the hearing, Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) presented a line graph that shows Europe’s cases dropping and staying low while America’s cases rise exponentially in the same period, and asked Fauci why the United States was lagging so far behind in managing the crisis. Fauci said one key factor was the lack of a universal standard for wearing masks, avoiding crowds and keeping physically distant. Trump has resisted any kind of national standard, leaving it to individual states to make their own rules. Later in the hearing, Clyburn read Trump’s tweet and asked Fauci to respond to it.

“I stand by my previous statement that the increase in cases was due to a number of factors," Fauci answered, "one of which was that in the attempt to reopen, that in some situations, states did not abide strictly by the guidelines that the task force and the White House had put out and others that even did abide by it the people in the state actually were congregating in crowds and not wearing masks.”
posted by katra at 8:55 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


The theory is unsupportable

Maybe, maybe not.

This week, I started comparing a Benford's law distribution against raw data published by a government clearinghouse. This distribution has been used to validate integrity of election tallies, financial data, and scientific data. Perhaps it could be used here.

There's a metric that gives a numerical value to the distance between what is observed and what one would expect to see, using the Benford distribution as reference.

Over the entire dataset, until 7/22, things across all 50 states and their counties look fine. Before and after 7/15 (pre-HHS/post-HHS) look mostly fine.

One way to measure what "fine" means, perhaps, is to take the ratio of KL distances before and after, which should hover around one for random subsamples taken from clean data.

Once you break things down on a per-state basis, larger 10-fold+ differences begin to appear in this before/after ratio in Republican states, including Florida and some others key to Trump's re-election.

Notably, the leaders of some of these states have also worked tirelessly to call the pandemic a hoax, dismiss wearing masks, dismantled public health reporting, and have been combative with unions about employee safety, while also forcing economies to reopen.

I have some more eyes to dot, etc. but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss malfeasance, just yet. Selective underreporting could be a consequence of broken data collection and reporting practices, or it could be a sign of election year-motivated tampering.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:15 AM on July 31 [7 favorites]


US sheriffs rebel against state mask orders even as Covid-19 spreads (Guardian)
At least eight county sheriffs in Texas have said they will not enforce Governor Greg Abbott’s mask mandate. Tracy Murphree, the Denton county sheriff, explained to a local newspaper he believed “the constitution trumps everything”, and, “when people are told to do something that violates their civil rights, it invites chaos and protest”. At least three sheriffs in Michigan, three in North Carolina, three in California, two in New Mexico and one in Nevada made similar announcements about state orders. At least one Tennessee sheriff has questioned the constitutionality of local government mask orders which the state has made provision for. In North Carolina, Jimmy Thornton, the Sampson county sheriff, called Democratic governor Roy Cooper’s mask order “not only unconstitutional, but unenforceable” in a Facebook post on 24 June, adding that “my deputies will NOT enforce an executive order that I feel violates the constitutional liberties of citizens”. In that state, earlier in the course of the pandemic, at least 10 sheriffs had said that they would not enforce the state’s lockdown restrictions.

At least two sheriffs who refused to enforce lockdown orders – in Arizona and California – subsequently contracted Covid-19. [...] According to Cloee Cooper, a research analyst at Political Research Associates, this is not coincidental. All of these sheriffs are members of organizations associated with the constitutional sheriffs movement, or under their growing influence. With its origins in ideas of “county supremacy” first pushed by far-right groups opposed to desegregation, the idea that county sheriffs have a “legal and ethical duty to refuse to enforce state and federal policies and laws they believe to be unconstitutional” has become the basis of a nationwide network, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) headed by Richard Mack. In an email, Cooper said that her research had revealed that “Richard Mack was encouraging sheriffs to defy shelter-in-place orders and support reopen protests”. While the CSPOA was founded to resist Obama-era firearms restrictions, they had pivoted to resisting mask and lockdown orders, defining them as signs of “impending tyranny”. She added that constitutional sheriffs had moved to deputize posses in response to Black Lives Matter protests, or had fueled false rumors about busloads of “Antifa” activists rolling into rural areas.
posted by katra at 9:25 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


(The two specific raw counts I looked at were publicly-reported new, confirmed Covid-19 cases, and reported deaths in the United States. I was motivated from personal interest/skepticism and this Nature correspondence.)
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:25 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Testing czar: Getting all results in 2 to 3 days not possible right now (WaPo live blog)
Brett Giroir, who leads the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing efforts as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged Friday that getting results back to all patients within two to three days is not possible at this time. “It is not a possible benchmark we can achieve today, given the demand and the supply,” Giroir said in response to a question from Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), who quoted a constituent who has been waiting nine days for a test result. Giroir added that the administration hopes to get there, in part through new technology that allows testing outside of laboratories. Giroir said 75 percent of test results are coming back within five days. Experts say test results that take longer than a few days to arrive are useless for contact tracing and other suppression efforts.

Later in the hearing, infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci acknowledged that “there’s no doubt” that if test results that take multiple days to come back “it in many respects obviates the whole purpose of doing it.” [...] He suggested health officials tell people to “assume that it might be positive and essentially isolate themselves until they go back and get the results.”
posted by katra at 9:31 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Fauci denounces ‘flawed study’ on hydroxychloroquine touted by Trump (WaPo live blog)
Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, gave a forceful denunciation at a House subcommittee hearing Friday of a study — touted by President Trump — that claimed the drug hydroxychloroquine has saved the lives of coronavirus patients. Scientists have widely criticized the study, conducted by Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) raised the study as evidence of the drug’s efficacy; earlier in the hearing, Fauci had said hydroxychloroquine has been shown to have “no therapeutic efficacy” with the coronavirus, echoing other top health officials. “That was a flawed study,” Fauci responded. Luetkemeyer countered that the study had been peer reviewed. “You can peer review something that is a bad study,” Fauci responded. “It was not a randomized, placebo-controlled trial — which is the gold standard.”
Fauci optimistic COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available (AP)
“I believe, ultimately, over a period of time in 2021, that Americans will be able to get it,” Fauci said, referring to the vaccine. There will be a priority list for who gets early vaccinations. “I don’t think we will have everybody getting it immediately,” Fauci explained. But “ultimately, within a reasonable time, the plans allow for any American who needs the vaccine to get it,” he added.

[...] Fauci, Giroir and Redfield are calling on Americans to go back to public health basics such as social distancing and wearing masks. [...] Fauci’s public message in recent days has been that Americans can’t afford a devil-may-care attitude toward COVID-19 and need to double down on basic measures such as wearing masks in public, keeping their distance from others and avoiding crowds and indoor spaces such as bars. [...] In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, Fauci said he was “disturbed” by the flat-out opposition in parts of the country to wearing masks as a public health protective measure. “There are certain fundamentals,” he said, “the staples of what you need to do ... one is universal wearing of masks.” [...] Fauci said there’s evidence the surge across the South may be peaking, but upticks in the Midwest are now a concern. “They’ve really got to jump all over that because if they don’t then you might see the surge we saw in some of the Southern states,” he told the AP.
posted by katra at 10:03 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


(1/2) NEW from CDC: #COVID19 outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia infects *at least* 260 campers & staff.
-51% of positives 6-10yo
-44% 11-17 yo
-Camp required a test <12 days before arriving & attempted "pods"
-Masks required for staff but NOT campers

(2/2) -*Out of 597 campers & staff, 344 were tested and 76% of those tests were positive

-26% positives report no symptoms

-Bottom line from @CDCgov: Children of *all* ages are susceptible to #SARSCOV2 & "might play an important role in transmission"

Paper online soon & here

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:14 AM on July 31 [10 favorites]


Study finds higher viral load in young children, raising questions about how likely they are to transmit the coronavirus (CNN, Jul. 30, 2020)
Children younger than 5 have between 10 and 100 times more genetic material from the novel coronavirus in their noses compared to older children and to adults, according to a small study published Thursday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. While the study didn't measure transmissibility, it raises questions -- just as schools start to reopen -- about how easily the new coronavirus may be spread by the under-5 set. [...] [Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago,] says more studies need to look at transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 in children. "So far this transmission doesn't seem to be primarily coming from children," said Heald-Sargent. But her team noted in the paper that because of the stay-at-home measures implemented in mid-March, many young children had fewer opportunities to transmit.
posted by katra at 10:27 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


I'd like to hear why the sheriffs think that the Constitution doesn't give you, say, an absolute right to drive an unregistered car.
posted by thelonius at 10:29 AM on July 31 [10 favorites]


Northeastern University unveiled its student testing plan today: Students can only attend classes in person after getting negative results on three tests given over their first 5 days back in Boston - and then will have to take tests like every 5 days afterwards. The school has built its own lab to analyze the test results; says it can handle up to 5,000 tests a day (nearby Boston University has also built its own lab; other Boston-are schools will send their samples to an MIT-affiliated lab in Cambridge).

The testing requirement applies to all students, which is stricter than the Massachusetts state ruless, which let people from other New England states, New York, New Jersey and Hawaii just come right in.

To "de-densify," Northeastern is renting hundreds of rooms in two nearby hotels and increasing the number of apartments it leases in several buildings near campus. It's also talking to one of the hotels (the Westin in Copley Square) about using several of its ballrooms, conference rooms and a couple of in-hotel stores for classrooms and professor offices.
posted by adamg at 10:32 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Students can safely return to college if tested for coronavirus every two days, study says (WaPo)
Covid-19 infections can be controlled at universities this fall if students are tested for the coronavirus every two days, according to a study published Friday. The study, by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Open Network, used computer simulations to show how the virus might spread among a hypothetical cohort of 5,000 students.

In the simulations, 4,990 students were assumed to be coronavirus-free, while 10 were assumed to be infected. Researchers found screening every two days using a rapid, inexpensive test — even one that was not always accurate — would “maintain a controllable number of covid-19 infections” if coupled with “strict behavioral interventions” like quarantining positive students in isolation dormitories. The study estimated screening costs would be $470 per student per semester, and did not consider the effects of reopening schools on staff and communities where colleges are located. It also said monitoring students for symptoms was not sufficient, and logistical challenges like the availability of tests or isolation dormitories “may be beyond the reach of many university administrators and the students in their care.” [...] A. David Paltiel, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health and the study’s lead author, said the study was undertaken as a consortium of university presidents in the Boston area looked for a way to safely reopen.
posted by katra at 10:55 AM on July 31 [8 favorites]


But a huge part of the crux is that schools are being super shady on what they consider "a controllable number of covid-19 infections" whereas many faculty and staff consider that the optimal number can only be "zero."
posted by TwoStride at 11:06 AM on July 31 [16 favorites]


Should I send my child back to school? This is the latest science on coronavirus and kids (USA Today, Jul. 29, 2020)
Recent studies of COVID-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent [...] 2% to 4% of deaths [...] A preprint study focusing on five-day closure of nearly all schools in the Seattle metropolitan area estimated that the school closure resulted in a reduction of [...] a little over 5% in coronavirus infections. [...] Experts continue to say schools should make that decision primarily on whether COVID-19 is spreading in their region. In much of the country, coronavirus is spiking right now.
posted by katra at 11:41 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


At this point, as university staff, I'd be grateful for a study that remembers that I exist and will be affected by thousands of students returning to my city and campus, which apparently...isn't this one.
posted by Stacey at 11:54 AM on July 31 [20 favorites]


Teachers fearing in-person schooling make wills, retire or plan strikes (Guardian)
A report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation on 10 July found 1.47 million teachers in the US – some 24% of the profession – are at greater risk of serious illness if infected with coronavirus because they have conditions that make them vulnerable.
posted by katra at 12:08 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Live Coronavirus Updates: Here’s the Latest (Chronicle of Higher Education)
2:29 p.m. Eastern, 7/31/2020 30 Tenured Professors Tell UNC Students to Stay Home

Thirty tenured professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill urged students of the flagship in an open letter to stay home for the fall semester even as the institution resumes in-person operations. “Under current conditions, it is not safe for you to come to campus — to live in dormitories and apartments, to sit in classrooms, and to socialize with your peers in the way that college students usually do,” the professors wrote.

[...] 8:28 p.m. Eastern, 7/29/2020 UNC Workers Plan Suit to Delay In-Person Classes

[...] The workers are readying a class-action lawsuit for an injunction to postpone the resumption of in-person classes at the system’s 16 campuses until the university can guarantee employees’ safety. Their lawyer, Gary Shipman, says the campuses’ existing safety plans do not comply with North Carolina employment law, which specifies that workplaces to be “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious injury or serious physical harm” to employees. [...]

1:32 p.m. Eastern, 7/29/2020 6,300 Cases Linked to Colleges as Fall Reopening Looms

The New York Times today published the results of an expansive survey of higher education that tied more than 6,300 cases of coronavirus to 270 colleges in the United States. The newspaper contacted nearly 1,000 institutions — every public four-year college, every private college that competes in Division I athletics, and every member of the Association of American Universities — yet it describes its alarming finding as “almost certainly an undercount.” Hundreds of colleges did not even respond to the survey, while others, citing privacy concerns, “refused to answer basic questions.” Some of the colleges were more transparent, providing numbers or even posting case information online. “What is clear,” the article states, “is that despite months of planning for a safe return to class, and despite drastic changes to campus life, the virus is already spreading widely at universities.”
posted by katra at 12:18 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


I'd like to hear why the sheriffs think that the Constitution doesn't give you, say, an absolute right to drive an unregistered car.

Sovereign Citizen types believe there's a "right to travel", therefore all car registration and driver's licenses are optional.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:54 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]


We Need to Talk About Ventilation: How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?

I agree with the idea that the public discussion (ie, media) has focused on personal protection, surface cleaning, distancing, etc. and less on ventilation. However, that doesn't mean that nobody is thinking about it. ASHRAE has developed building readiness and reopening guidance. The trouble is, a lot of what ASHRAE puts out is primarily aimed at engineers and folks with larger buildings or portfolios of buildings - I worry that a lot of the people in charge of things like school plans won't have the resources or sophistication to access or understand what ASHRAE is saying.

Given that the recommendations seem (to my non-technical eye) to mainly boil down to running ventilation systems more (to increase air changes) and keeping filters well-maintained, it's likely to rub against what we've been trying to tell building managers to do in order to conserve energy. So I worry about that, too.
posted by nickmark at 12:58 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Q: Why is it important for the United States to have a national COVID strategy rather than leaving it to state governors?
A: People move around.

It's that simple. Regulating inter-state travel is practically impossible. Good luck trying to stop people from Kansas City, Kansas spreading the virus to Kansas City, Missouri. We can say with confidence that the uniquely terrible resurgence of COVID in the United States, compared to other rich countries, is due to President Trump's abdication of leadership, as well as his cultivation of anti-intellectual and anti-public-health sentiment as a tribal shibboleth.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:19 PM on July 31 [17 favorites]


With Hurricane Isaias bearing down on Florida's east coast state COVID testing sites are closed until next week. Expect fools to try to use the drop in new cases to push the narrative that things are getting better. Also expect a new peak in a couple of weeks given the inevitable crowding at grocery and home improvement stores that comes along with any hurricane.
posted by wierdo at 2:50 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Isolating until COVID-19 test results come back could dramatically slow its spread, CDC says (NBC News)
Self-isolating while waiting for COVID-19 test results could dramatically slow the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In fact, data from CDC models are so compelling that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will now reimburse doctors who encourage people to self-isolate until their test results come back. The financial incentive, announced Thursday by the CDC and CMS, rewards doctors who tell patients to stay away from others from the time they are tested until they receive their test result.

[...] The CDC models suggest that if people can separate from others while they await results, it could reduce transmission of the coronavirus by up to 86 percent. Experts praised the government's decision to reimburse doctors who advise patients to self-isolate. "If Americans with suspected or known COVID-19 do not self-isolate, the virus will continue to spread unabated," said Dr. Pieter Cohen, a physician with the Cambridge Health Alliance Respiratory Clinic near Boston. "In settings where health care systems are not providing this essential counseling at the time of testing, the change in reimbursement will hopefully provide sufficient incentive to change practices immediately," he added.
How Accurate Is Coronavirus Testing? It Depends On The Test You Take (WBUR, Jul. 30, 2020)
Between pop-up testing sites, doctors offices, worksite testing and self-administered tests, most patients don't know what type of coronavirus test they're taking, either. [Dr. Shira Doron, infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center,] says that's important and patients should ask, especially if a test is related to an urgent health care issue.
posted by katra at 3:09 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Self-isolating while waiting for COVID-19 test results could dramatically slow the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In fact, data from CDC models are so compelling that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will now reimburse doctors who encourage people to self-isolate until their test results come back.

What a ridiculous waste of people's time and money when 90% of the time the test is going to be negative. The Trump administration has had 6 months to fix the testing capacity so that everyone could get tested and get their results the same day.

This is just an epic failure and by Trump's orders, intentional.
posted by JackFlash at 3:16 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Panic in the White House as Staffers Discover There Is Some Sort of Pandemic Happening:
The death this morning of Herman Cain, the Islamophobic former Republican presidential candidate and guy who quoted the Pokémon movie in ending his campaign, may have prompted reconsiderations for these beleaguered White House staff. Jake Sherman, the author of Politico’s premier newsletter for Washington wankers, tweeted not long after the announcement of Cain’s death that his team was receiving intel from “deep inside the Trump administration” that aides “feel like they cannot work safely during COVID, and are being told not to wear masks.”
Relatedly:
well, well, well, if it isn't the consequences of my own actions
posted by Ouverture at 3:28 PM on July 31 [11 favorites]


Students can safely return to college if tested for coronavirus every two days, study says

Matt O'brien points out, everyone says high schools and bars are too risky to open but don't they realize that colleges are just high schools with bars.
posted by JackFlash at 3:35 PM on July 31 [25 favorites]


Road trip? Quarantines mess with Americans’ travel plans (AP)
Before the outbreak, Americans were expected to take 2.3 billion domestic trips this year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. But that’s expected expected to drop about 30% to 1.6 billion, the lowest level since 1991. Normally nearly a third of domestic travel happens in the summer.
Travel Watch: COVID-19 Is Spreading Along Interstate Highways, Per New Research (Forbes, Jul. 2, 2020)
New COVID-19 case projections released by PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) suggest that the novel coronavirus is spreading along the nation’s interstate highways. The researchers paint a sobering picture for much of the United States over the next four weeks in a statement released yesterday. “Travel is certainly a huge driving factor,” the researchers wrote in a blog post. [...] The team at PolicyLab at CHOP conclude that interstate travel is creating renewed risk to regions that had successfully flattened the curve of the novel coronavirus. “We need to admit that we are losing the battle nationally to contain this dangerous virus as it engulfs more communities across the country, including those in the Northeast and Midwest that worked so hard to reduce cases and get back to a relatively normal way of life,” said David Rubin, MD, MSCE, director of PolicyLab at CHOP and a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

“During a heavy travel season, the absence of a strong national response, including a nationwide masking mandate, will continue to threaten the viability of our economy and the ability of our schools to reopen in the fall, while depleting and surpassing available health care resources to care for the sick,” said Rubin. [...] “Our national collective response is failing,” wrote the researchers. “We’re beginning to question how well the areas that are being vigilant with distancing and personal protection can succeed if their neighboring states are not following suit. How well can North Carolina, for example, continue to mitigate transmission if South Carolina and Florida remain slow-footed in their response?”
Interstate Transmission of COVID-19 Is Now Most Urgent Threat (Yale School of Medicine, Apr. 3, 2020)
“Domestic spread of the virus has serious policy implications,” said Assistant Professor Nathan Grubaugh, a genomic epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health and the study’s senior author. “We must shift our focus to improving local disease surveillance rather than banning international travel. This is no longer a ‘foreign’ virus.” [...] “If interstate introductions (of the virus) are not curtailed in the U.S. with improved surveillance measures, more robust diagnostic capabilities, and proper clinical care, quelling local transmission between states will be a Sisyphean task,” the scientists wrote in their report. [...] “The large volumes of daily travel within the U.S. indicate that domestic spread of SARS-CoV-2 has become, and will likely continue to be, the primary source of new infections,” said Joseph Fauver and Mary Petrone, two researchers from Grubaugh’s lab who served as the study’s lead authors.
posted by katra at 4:44 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Travel Watch: COVID-19 Is Spreading Along Interstate Highways, Per New Research (Forbes, Jul. 2, 2020)

Torn between being even more upset about all this, and giggling over “Travel is certainly a huge driving factor,”
posted by Mchelly at 5:02 PM on July 31 [19 favorites]


It's time for the NFL to accept that trying to hold a season would be a serious risk to players' health. And then there's coronavirus
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:03 PM on July 31 [47 favorites]


House hearing underscores U.S. failure to stop spread of coronavirus (WaPo / MSN reprint)
The Trump administration decided to leave state and local officials to determine what kind of restrictions to impose, with mixed results. “When you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent in the sense of the totality of the country,” Fauci said. [...] Brett P. Giroir, the federal health official overseeing coronavirus testing, touted the Trump administration’s efforts but added, “We cannot test our way out of this or any other pandemic.”
Guardian: "Many have noted that many among the small group of supporters greeting Donald Trump when he touched down in Florida were not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing guidelines. [...] The president reportedly greeted dozens of supporters after his plane landed, working his way down a small rope line with no mask himself. Trump is there to meet with the governor regarding the explosion of Covid-19 infections in recent days."

Guardian: Florida has seen four successive days of record deaths from coronavirus.
The state has reported yet another record for Covid-19 deaths — 257 listed on Friday’s pandemic data report. Nearly 100 of the victims were from Miami-Dade County, the Sun-Sentinel reports. [...] The paper has published an editorial, meanwhile, calling on governor Ron DeSantis to take more action to tackle the raging outbreak, with the headline “Help us out, Governor DeSantis, we’re dying.”
Guardian: No comprehensive national plan to control pandemic
California internal medicine specialist Dr Jorge Rodriguez told CNN after the hearing that he believed the gap between the White House and public health scientists was dangerous and that the experts should speak out more loudly about this and the lack of a comprehensive national plan to bring Covid-19 under control.
posted by katra at 5:47 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Pandemic’s weight falls on Hispanics and Native Americans, as deaths pass 150,000 (WaPo)
The contours of the crisis have not changed much: The virus has continued to deepen the country’s divides and exploit its systemic inequities. The willingness to wear a mask, perhaps the most basic precaution, varies widely by political affiliation. And those hurt most by the rampant spread are still overwhelmingly elderly and disproportionately people of color. New numbers published recently by the CDC present one of the most complete pictures yet of the pandemic’s evolving impact and shifting burden. When the virus first swept across the country, it devastated Black communities, killing African Americans at a disproportionately high rate in nearly every jurisdiction that published race data. In recent weeks, Hispanics and Native Americans have made up an increasing proportion of covid-19 deaths. The disease now accounts for nearly 20 percent of all deaths among those groups, higher than any other race or ethnicity in recent weeks, according to a Post analysis of the CDC data.

[...] Official government tallies tell only part of the story. The true toll probably exceeded 150,000 weeks ago. Epidemiologists say the country’s shoddy testing infrastructure has allowed virus fatalities to go undiagnosed. [...] Poor data reporting, which initially masked the disease’s disproportionate burden on Black communities, has continued to hinder researchers trying to study consequences for Hispanics. A recent report, however, links long-standing inequality to the surges in Hispanic infections and deaths. Crowded housing, exposure to air pollution and jobs in the meatpacking industry, which President Trump declared were “essential,” put Latinos at a particularly high risk for coronavirus infection and death, said Carlos E. Rodriguez-Diaz, a George Washington University professor who is the lead author of a recent paper published by the journal Annals of Epidemiology. [...] The researchers called for Medicaid expansion to address disparate access to health care and for better outreach, testing and infectious-disease surveillance to serve the diverse experiences of the country’s Latino communities.

[...] “These numbers will continue to accelerate. Our nation is in free fall right now with no federal plan,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University. [...] The pandemic is so destabilizing, Hotez argued, that the best way to think about it is as a homeland security threat. He recently published an editorial in the journal Microbes and Infection urging a simple approach: The country should set a containment goal — one new case daily per 1 million residents, say — and impose stay-at-home orders until it’s reached. At that point, he wrote, contact tracing would be possible and officials could stamp out any remaining infections.
posted by katra at 7:23 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


"The country should set a containment goal — one new case daily per 1 million residents, say — and impose stay-at-home orders until it’s reached. At that point, he wrote, contact tracing would be possible and officials could stamp out any remaining infections."

Then, let us do that.
posted by cultcargo at 7:42 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]


The New York Times: A School Reopens, and the Coronavirus Creeps In
Just hours into the first day of classes on Thursday, a call from the county health department notified Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana that a student who had walked the halls and sat in various classrooms had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Administrators began an emergency protocol, isolating the student and ordering everyone who had come into close contact with the person, including other students, to quarantine for 14 days. It is unclear whether the student infected anyone else.

“We knew it was a when, not if,” said Harold E. Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, but were “very shocked it was on Day 1.”
why
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:09 AM on August 1 [34 favorites]


Greenfield is in Hancock County where Trump got 69% of the vote. Nice
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:11 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force. Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.


Kushner and Trump stopped the national testing program because they thought that the coronovirus would only kill people in Democratic states which would be to Trump's benefit. This is the equivalent of "He gassed his own people."

Genocide and crimes against humanity. Trump and his family are psychopaths.
posted by JackFlash at 9:22 AM on August 1 [33 favorites]


And shouldn't Harold E. Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, be facing criminal charges, given his public confession?
posted by PhineasGage at 10:32 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


"We knew it was a when, not if,” said Harold E. Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, but were “very shocked it was on Day 1.”
...
why


Traditionally, Covid doesn't infect anyone on the first day back at school; Day 1 is generally just for covid to find its locker, get syllabi, maybe do a Learning Everyone's Names game. Kind of fucked up that nowadays covid has to just start infecting people right off the bat, but I guess school is less chill these days.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:52 AM on August 1 [49 favorites]


On a call with SEC leaders, worried football players pushed back: ‘Not good enough’ (WaPo)
College football’s most powerful conference, the SEC, announced Thursday that it plans to forge ahead with a season this fall. But a day earlier, in a private meeting with conference leaders and medical advisers, several football players raised concerns about their safety, only to be told that positive cases on their teams were a “given,” according to an audio recording obtained by The Washington Post. The meeting, which took place Wednesday, included more than a dozen SEC football players, members of the conference’s medical advisory board and SEC officials, including Commissioner Greg Sankey. It was designed as a “confidential free exchange,” an SEC spokesman said in an email, where the league’s medical advisers could “hear questions and our student-athletes were able to hear answers."

But the recording offers a window into how conference officials — keen on keeping a multibillion dollar industry afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic — are, and aren’t, reassuring the athletes they need to make the season a reality. “There are going to be outbreaks,” one official told players on the call. (The official didn’t identify himself, and the SEC spokesman declined to identify him to The Post.) “We’re going to have positive cases on every single team in the SEC. That’s a given. And we can’t prevent it.” [...] MoMo Sanogo, a linebacker at the University of Mississippi, asked the officials on the call why his school planned to bring thousands of students to campus for fall classes. Sanogo said he has four classes per week, and he fears some of those classmates will go to bars and parties at night, then unknowingly infect football players during class. [...] The official told Sanogo that class sizes would be smaller so students can sit six feet apart from one another, and that face coverings should help keep students safe. But he admitted the arrangement was “not fair” to athletes, who might take every precaution but still be infected by the students who don’t. He suggested that Sanogo, 21, remind the people around him to behave responsibly. “As un-fun as it sounds,” the official said, “the best thing that you can do is just try to encourage others to act more responsibly and not put yourself in those kinds of situations. I’m very comfortable with what we’ve done on campus. I’m concerned about what happens from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m.”
posted by katra at 11:08 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Just hours into the first day of classes on Thursday, a call from the county health department notified Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana that a student who had walked the halls and sat in various classrooms had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Pro tip for anyone designing protocols for school reopenings: wait until you get the tests back before you reopen.
posted by rdr at 11:10 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’ (WaPo)
The country is exhausted, but the virus is not. It has shown a consistent pattern: It spreads opportunistically wherever people let down their guard and return to more familiar patterns of mobility and socializing. When communities tighten up, by closing bars or requiring masks in public, transmission drops. [...] 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.

[...] “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. His team sees ominous trends in big cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, with Boston and New York not far behind. And Rubin warns that the expected influx of students into college towns at the end of this month will be another epidemiological shock. “I suspect we’re going to see big outbreaks in college towns,” he said. [...] “This is not a natural disaster that happens to one or two or three communities and then you rebuild,” said Beth Cameron, vice president for global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a former White House National Security Council staffer focused on pandemics. “This is a spreading disaster that moves from one place to another, and until it’s suppressed and until we ultimately have a safe and effective and distributed vaccine, every community is at risk.”
posted by katra at 11:34 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


The Latest: Judges consider Louisiana bar order amid virus (AP)
Two Louisiana federal judges have refused to immediately stop enforcement of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus order prohibiting bars from letting customers drink onsite. U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette on Friday denied the temporary restraining order requested by 11 Acadiana area bar owners who filed a lawsuit challenging Edwards’ decision limiting bars to takeout and delivery. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans rejected a similar restraining order sought by 22 southeast Louisiana bar owners who filed the same lawsuit in their regional federal court. [...] The White House coronavirus task force recommended Louisiana close bars to reduce public health risks and lessen the spread of the virus.
Arizona congressman tests positive for virus; 2nd this week (AP)
The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee said Saturday he tested positive for the coronavirus days after he sat close to another member of the panel, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who also tested positive. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said in a statement that he has the virus but, like Gohmert, has no symptoms. He is at least the 11th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. [...] “While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously,” Grijalva said in the statement. “Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.” [...] Gohmert also attended a hearing with Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, and was captured on video walking closely behind Barr without a mask on as the attorney general entered the hearing room. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr was tested Wednesday and the test came back negative. At least two other lawmakers have quarantined after coming into contact with Gohmert last week — Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who sat next to Gohmert on a Sunday flight to Washington, and Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who had dinner with Gohmert on Monday.
Texas 'wide open for business' despite surge in Covid-19 cases (Guardian)
Texas schools and universities are due to resume in-person learning for the fall semester. The University of Texas announced plans to start football season on 5 September at 50% capacity, with an estimated 50,000 fans in the stands. Nonye Imo, a resident physician in Dallas, said the state’s response had been terrible. “The economy was prioritized over human life. The desire to make money was prioritized over human life,” Imo said. “That is terrible. The current people who are in charge who fumbled this response need to be voted out.”
posted by katra at 11:55 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


It came up in a local reddit feed I keep tabs on - Conservative politician from the suburbs of Hamilton, Ontario tweeted (then deleted) a terribly photoshopped image, purporting to show her being served at a local restaurant. Such a weird thing to do.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:28 PM on August 1 [8 favorites]


Trump slams Fauci over testimony on Covid-19 surge.
“Wrong!” Trump wrote in a retweet of a video where Fauci explained to a House subcommittee that the U.S. has seen more cases than European countries because it only shut down a fraction of its economy amid the pandemic. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases,” the president added.
He really is the stupidest MF on the planet.
posted by PhineasGage at 3:03 PM on August 1 [24 favorites]


Can Gohmert be censured, impeached, or even sued for putting lives around him at risk of serious illness and death? This is dangerous behavior that merits real consequences.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:13 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Next time Trump touts testing as an explanation for having more cases I'd like to see someone shove a graph of daily deaths normalized by population in his face and ask him how testing explains that.
posted by Reverend John at 3:23 PM on August 1


Next time Trump touts testing as an explanation for having more cases I'd like to see someone shove a graph of daily deaths normalized by population in his face and ask him how testing explains that.

What, you think he'd be dumbfounded and come to his senses? The man does not make decisions based on facts and evidence.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:31 PM on August 1 [13 favorites]


The guy has gone bankrupt six times. He does not even understand elementary school math - addition and subtraction.
posted by JackFlash at 3:52 PM on August 1 [8 favorites]


I wonder if Trump shouts at whoever is testing him daily for COVID, as that means it's one more test! Another bad number! We should stop testing! Etc etc.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:57 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


His tests are always negative, so that's a good number. Which explains the bankruptcies, come to think of it.
posted by wierdo at 4:15 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Can Gohmert be censured, impeached, or even sued

Yes. To all 3. Sucessfully? If the sued option was a thing who would pick that fight? People in congress going after another congress member in civil court would seem to be a line no one wants to try and cross. And, well, I'm not sure I support congresspeople suing other congresspeople as that seems a path too fraught with future problems.

Considering Rand Paul was infecting people if there was a "I'm not making new caselaw or even harder trying to overthrow OLD caselaw" obvious path there would have been op-eds or a posts from a law blog or 2. I didn't see any, but that doesn't mean there are no such web pages.

It doesn't mean someone should not try or go the civil route over the maskless in a mask mandated store if someone becomes infected. All kinds of issues with a preponderance of evidence with the counterparty but as we don't have universal paid for health care there would be an economic loss and the courts like loss of money as a damage. Would be quite the gift from Mr. Trump - Universal Healthcare because people don't want to be sued/subject to 3rd party discovery over causing economic damage due to heathcare expenses from a disease.

I'm still hoping the gift of actual change in politics from the 4 years of Mr. Trump but it seems he's gonna get the George Bush Moveon treatment and not the Nixon caused change treatment.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:42 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Prosecuting Purposeful Coronavirus Exposure as Terrorism (Manal Cheema, Ashley Deeks, Lawfare, Mar. 31, 2020)
On March 24, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen sent U.S. attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies a memo informing Department of Justice officials that they should consider prosecuting certain “purposeful exposure or infection of others with COVID-19” under federal terrorism-related statutes. The memo followed warnings from the FBI that white supremacist groups were encouraging members who become sick to spread the virus to Jewish people, minorities and police officers—suggesting that members could use spray bottles, leave bodily fluids on door handles or even spit on elevator buttons. Meanwhile, local news continues to report on cases in which individuals purposefully have coughed on or touched other people and products in grocery stores and other venues across the country. [...] As concerns about the coronavirus increase, prosecutors may seek to charge such individuals with simple assault (as a Maryland prosecutor has), breach of peace (as a Connecticut prosecutor has) or even attempted murder (as prosecutors in South Africa have).
What Are the Legal Consequences if You Knowingly Infect Someone With COVID-19? (Richard Dahl, Findlaw, Apr. 3, 2020)
The key word in the headline above is "knowingly." [...] The case of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) fits in nicely here. [...] Apparently not showing any symptoms, he took a test on March 16 and, without knowing the results, did not self-quarantine. Six days later, the results came back as positive, prompting furious responses from Democrats and Republicans alike and self-quarantines by those he'd been around. Washington, D.C. didn't issue its order to stay home and not congregate in groups until March 25, but critics contend that if he thought he needed the test, that's reason enough to self-quarantine. Sen. Paul doesn't face any legal consequences for these actions [...]. Unlike other educational leaders, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., ordered the school to remain open as usual. Writing in Slate, Delaware Law School professor John Culhane suggested that Falwell could face a negligence suit because he could be putting people at risk when safer alternatives, like remote classroom arrangements, exist. The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin says that arguably "bad actors" of this type need to be aware that they could face civil liability lawsuits once the COVID-19 dust settles.
posted by katra at 5:17 PM on August 1 [8 favorites]


You realize Trump has stumbled upon the cure for cancer: never diagnose it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:26 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Montgomery County health officials tell private schools to start school online (WaPo)
The county’s health officer, Travis Gayles, announced the decision late Friday evening, writing that it would take effect immediately and continue through at least Oct. 1. He cited climbing novel coronavirus cases nationwide, in Maryland and in the county. Gayles is one of the first health officials in the United States to require that private schools shutter this fall. Violating the order would count as a misdemeanor, according to a county news release. Those who break the rule could face up to one year in prison, a fine of $5,000 or both.

[...] Less than 24 hours after the order came out, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) denounced it on social media. In a statement posted to Twitter, Hogan wrote that he “strongly” disagreed with closing private and parochial schools. “As long as these schools develop safe plans that follow CDC and state guidelines, they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community,” he wrote. “This is a decision for schools and parents, not politicians.” Schools affected include St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, the posh, private prekindergarten through 12th-grade institution in Potomac attended by Barron Trump, the president’s youngest child. The order creates the awkward spectacle in which President Trump’s son could begin the fall semester online, even as his father ramps up pressure on school districts nationwide to reopen their doors as normal. [...] Like Gayles, school leaders elsewhere argued that they had to act because the United States has failed to contain the coronavirus.
posted by katra at 6:03 PM on August 1 [6 favorites]


Media to be banned from Republican convention due to coronavirus restrictions (Guardian / AP)
Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as possible. If the GOP decision stands, it will mark the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters. “Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed [to] press Friday, August 21–Monday, August 24,” a convention spokeswoman said. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”

Privately, some GOP delegations have raised logistical issues with traveling to either city, citing the increasing number of jurisdictions imposing mandatory quarantine orders on travellers returning from states experiencing surges in the virus. The subset of delegates in Charlotte will be casting proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 official delegates to the convention. Alternate delegates and guests have already been prohibited.
Trump’s campaign in crisis as aides attempt August reset before time runs out (WaPo / MSN reprint)
On a strictly political level, Republicans are worried that the president’s onslaught against mail-in voting could hamper their efforts to turn out the vote. Trump’s attempts to draw a distinction between universal mail-in voting and individually requested absentee voting, while welcomed and encouraged by party officials, have not had the intended effect on Republican voters. GOP party officials have struggled to convince voters to request mail-in ballots. “He has denigrated mail-in voting to the point that Democrats are dominating requests for absentee ballots,” said David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

[...] T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, said Trump is losing because “he abandoned the American people” and lacked “any coherent strategy” to address a pandemic that has cost 150,000 lives and millions of jobs. “There,” he said in a statement. “Message assessment complete.”
posted by katra at 7:24 PM on August 1 [6 favorites]


“He has denigrated mail-in voting to the point that Democrats are dominating requests for absentee ballots"

That's hilarious. The Dumbass in Chief has convinced all the old geezers watching Fox News who normally vote by mail that it is rigged and crooked so they aren't requesting mail-in ballots. They probably won't vote at all if it means having to leave their homes and stand in line.
posted by JackFlash at 7:47 PM on August 1 [9 favorites]


I think that's giving them too much credit. They will stand in line, maskless, and be dead three weeks later....

We can only hope their sacrifice will be in vain, and their candidate still loses. Then we can deal with that.
posted by Windopaene at 8:55 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Can Gohmert be censured, impeached, or even sued

Yes. To all 3. Sucessfully? If the sued option was a thing who would pick that fight? People in congress going after another congress member in civil court would seem to be a line no one wants to try and cross. And, well, I'm not sure I support congresspeople suing other congresspeople as that seems a path too fraught with future problems.


Presumably it would be Gohmert's staff members who were berated for wearing masks in the office, or their next of kin.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:24 PM on August 1


Impact of coronavirus will be felt for decades to come, WHO says (Reuters, Jul. 31, 2020)
“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come,” Tedros told a meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee, according to remarks released by the agency. [...] The United States, Brazil, Mexico and Britain have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks by the disease COVID-19, as their governments have struggled to come up with an effective response. [...] Meanwhile, more than around 150 pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccines, although their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, the World Health Organization said last week
Expect 'lengthy' coronavirus pandemic, warns WHO (AFP / Yahoo, Aug. 1, 2020)
The committee warned countries to prepare their health systems to cope with seasonal influenza and other disease outbreaks alongside the new coronavirus. They were also urged to "encourage global solidarity" on COVID-19 and address "mis/disinformation" about the virus.
Trump struggles to stay on script, frustrating GOP again (The Hill, Aug. 1, 2020)
The whiplash was on full display this week, as Trump made a series of trips to underscore his administration’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic and economy. [...] “He’s never going to change,” said one Republican operative who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “The most important thing is the state of the economy, the state of COVID and all things health … and in terms of his messaging, the only thing that matters is his messaging over the last 30 days.”
posted by katra at 6:42 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]


Pelosi accuses Trump, Birx of spreading misinformation about coronavirus (Politico)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down on her claims that President Donald Trump and coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx are spreading misinformation about the pandemic Sunday. Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week,” that because Dr. Birx is a Trump appointee, and because the president himself ”is spreading disinformation about the virus,” she does not have confidence in Birx. “I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus and she's his appointee,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don't have confidence, no.”

[...] But Birx said she has “tremendous respect for the speaker” when asked about Pelosi’s comments Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I have tremendous respect for her long dedication to the American people,” Birx told host Dana Bash. Birx also urged Americans to take the appropriate precautions as the virus is becoming “extraordinarily widespread.”

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April ... It's into the rural as equal urban areas, and to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus and that is why we keep saying no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance, do the personal hygiene pieces.”
Previously: Trump teases new coronavirus distancing guidelines based on county risk (Politico, Mar. 26, 2020, "Dr. Deborah Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, brushed aside concerns that county-by-county criteria would be easily permeable."), Previously: For Dr. Deborah Birx, Urging Calm Has Come With Heavy Criticism (NYT, Mar. 27, 2020, "Dr. Ryan A. Stanton, a board member at the American College of Emergency Physicians, said Dr. Birx sounded like “the builders of the Titanic saying the ship can’t sink.”"), Previously: Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders (The Hill, Apr. 2, 2020), Previously: Interstate Transmission of COVID-19 Is Now Most Urgent Threat (Yale School of Medicine, Apr. 3, 2020), Previously: As virus takes hold, resistance to stay-at-home orders remains widespread — exposing political and social rifts (WaPo, Apr. 3, 2020), Previously: Virus hot spots in South poised for disproportionate suffering (Politico, Apr. 4, 2020), In the American South, a Perfect Storm Is Gathering (Margaret Renkl, NYT Opinion, Apr. 4, 2020)
posted by katra at 8:12 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]


That only works if they don't take all the mail in votes and burn them. Nothing is certain in this horrible timeline.

There are plenty of down-ballot options where one could seed write-in names to go back and check what happened* along with the option of using tracking on the mail to at least know the ballot left the USPS in case of a problem.

There are very few audits of the electronic voting machines so who's to say they don't come pre-tampered or get totals modified?

Election watchers are going to be needed more than ever and the kind of people who do that strike me as the kind who are at risk so they won't want to. All the calls to vote are nice, but calls for people to watch the election should also be made.


*assumes your county/state enters write ins in the final tally. Check your statues/past voting results.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:53 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Despite virus threat, Black voters wary of voting by mail (AP)
For many, historical skepticism of a system that tried to keep Black people from the polls and worries that a mailed ballot won’t get counted outweigh the prospect of long lines and health dangers from a virus that’s disproportionately affected communities of color. Ironically, suspicion of mail-in voting aligns with the views of President Donald Trump, whom many Black voters want out of office. [...] Decades of disenfranchisement are at the heart of the uneasy choice facing Black voters, one of the Democratic Party’s most important voting groups. Widespread problems with mail-in ballots during this year’s primary elections have added to the skepticism at a time when making Black voices heard has taken on new urgency during a national reckoning over racial injustice. [...] Reasons vary, from ballots being received after the deadline to voters’ signatures not matching the one on file with the county clerk. Multiple studies show mail-in ballots from Black voters, like those from Latino and young voters, are rejected at a higher rate than those of white voters.

[...] The Rev. Earle Fisher, senior pastor at Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis and a prominent Black civil rights activist, is one of the plaintiffs in a state lawsuit calling for mail-voting access for everyone. He said he’s not pushing his community to vote by mail but wants to ensure it’s an option given the health dangers. To ease doubts, he wants voters to be able to drop off their ballot at a polling place so they won’t have to worry about the post office delivering it on time. “I would like to see every righteous and creative method and measure taken, but we are up against a voter suppression apparatus that oftentimes is orchestrated by, or at least sustained by, people who are elected or appointed to office,” Fisher said. [...] The extent to which Black voters adopt it in November is likely to be dictated by the coronavirus. As infections surge, there are signs more Black voters may be willing to consider the option. In Detroit, for example, about 90,000 requests for mail-in ballots have been made so far — the most ever, City Clerk Janice Winfrey said.
posted by katra at 10:00 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


The plan seems to be to declare victory on election night ("Must know Election results on the night of the Election"), and then when the totals turn blue after mail-in ballots come in, to claim fraud.

At that point, they can push it and try to convince gerrymandered Republican state legislatures to certify a state-level Trump victory based on the in-person votes alone. If the mail-in ballots are all Burisma Hunter Biden China Fake Votes, then state legislatures might just decide they don't count.

It's happened before.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:06 AM on August 2 [15 favorites]


Announcing a New Series on Healthy Elections (Nathaniel Persily, Charles Stewart, III, Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, Jul. 31, 2020)
We are pleased to announce a new partnership between Lawfare and the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections project, designed to bring Lawfare readers an up-to-date stream of granular and detailed content related to election integrity in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project aims to assist election officials and the public as the nation confronts the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic poses for election administration. Through research, tool development, and direct services to jurisdictions, the project focuses on confronting the logistical challenges faced by states as they make rapid transitions to mail balloting and the creation of safe polling places. [...] While Lawfare does not intend to cover election law issues as such, the site has made an editorial decision to treat the ability of American democracy to hold these elections under the current circumstances as warranting Lawfare’s sustained attention. Consequently, Lawfare will be publishing condensed versions of the student research that appears on the HealthyElections.org website. [...] Each of these subjects and inquiries will yield a lengthy memorandum, available on the project website, and Lawfare will be publishing article-length versions of these memoranda in the Healthy Elections feed on the site.

[...] There are reasons to be hopeful, however. Local election officials are dedicated public servants who are aware of the problems and are working diligently to combat them. They need more resources—money, equipment, personal protective equipment, space and staff—to adapt their systems to the coronavirus environment. The one resource they will never have enough of, however, is time. And it is running out.
posted by katra at 10:29 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


[bunch of worst-case scenario comments and follow-ups deleted]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:08 AM on August 2 [17 favorites]


How the Media Could Get the Election Story Wrong
I spoke last week to executives, TV hosts and election analysts across leading American newsrooms, and I was struck by the blithe confidence among some top managers and hosts, who generally said they’ve handled complicated elections before and can do so again. And I was alarmed by the near panic among some of the people paying the closest attention — the analysts and producers trying, and often failing, to get answers from state election officials about how and when they will count the ballots and report results.
Come for the discussion about the media, stay til the end for a description of an election war game that ended with Biden (played by John Podesta) refusing to concede.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:00 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


and then when the totals turn blue after mail-in ballots come in, to claim fraud.

Ok. Declare the election void. Guess what, on Jan 20 2021, he's still not the elected president. We don't have to prove him the loser, he has to prove he is the winner. Inconclusive result is still GTFO.
posted by ctmf at 5:20 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


just read a Facebook post from a friend of a friend, reporting in from a summer tourist destination not far from where I live. He'd recently talked to a cop who was patrolling a beach area. A friendly enough discussion. At some point, the topic of riots etc came up. The cop hadn't personally been involved in anything that's made the news, but he shook his head anyway. "It's crazy everywhere this summer. Every night's a full moon."
posted by philip-random at 7:06 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


WA's primary election deadline is August 4th. I dropped off our ballots today at the mailbox outside my local post office, and the box door could barely be opened and closed, because of it already being stuffed with others' ballots.

It's an n=1 experience, granted, but if turnout is this high for the general election in November, here and elsewhere, our odds have to be good for turning things around. People are energized. Gotta have hope we can try to undo the damage and find our way back to some kind of better future.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:59 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]


Yep. Drop box in front of the Ballard library was pretty packed this morning. Let's make it egregious America.
posted by Windopaene at 9:50 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


I spoke last week to executives, TV hosts and election analysts across leading American newsrooms, and I was struck by the blithe confidence among some top managers and hosts, who generally said they’ve handled complicated elections before and can do so again.
They learned nothing from the last time, didn't they?
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:33 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


How the Media Could Get the Election Story Wrong

I just started the article, but it's not inspiring confidence. This early passage isn't correct:
In 2018, cable news commentators spent election night suggesting that the “blue wave” hadn’t arrived. But they were simply impatient: The Democratic surge showed up when the final California races were called weeks later.
The coverage I watched had some complaining in the first hour that the wave wasn't going to happen. And then it quickly became apparent that the wave was happening. The final count was a bit in flux until weeks later for some of the California seats, but everyone knew the Democrats had gained the House majority on Election Night. It might have been rather late that night. I can't remember the specifics of the timeline, but I do remember we didn't have to wait days or weeks.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:31 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


MedCram MIchael Mina interview with live Q/A upcoming on August 5th 3PM EST. Mina is the Harvard epidemiologist advocating for cheap daily low-sensitivity daily self-administered color change tests.
posted by benzenedream at 12:24 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


"Will Covid Spell the End of the Call Centre?" With large numbers of mainly young and asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic workers occupying open plan, poorly ventilated buildings - call centres have served as covid-19 incubators the world over. Most will be difficult to operate safely while the pandemic lasts. At the same time the technology allowing most call centre operations to take place from home - is here.
posted by rongorongo at 3:39 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Rongorongo, that seems like such an obvious job to make nearly/fully remote permanently, and yet the thing that drives me up the wall here in the US is that there has been ZERO meaningful political will to improve our broadband systems long-term. People like me (I work in broadband advocacy) have been shouting for years about the woeful insufficiency of most people's residential access, and we've just kicked the can down the road and down the road and down the road, as we have with so many things, and left it almost entirely up to the will of the private sector. And now we're reaping what we've sown, because way too many people living in cities and suburbs can't even access/afford the kind of connection that would allow them to do school or work from home. To say nothing of rural communities. The best we've been able to offer this year is voluntary commitments from ISPs to offer expanded access to discounts, and cities/school systems scrambling to get mobile hotspots out to people. School buses wired with wifi hotspots and parked in neighborhoods. It's shameful and infuriating and ENTIRELY unecessary, and I don't see anything changing any time soon. Maybe if Dems win the White House and Senate in November, but even then I think so much political capital will be expended just trying to keep people alive and reverse the worst of the damage of the last four years that there won't be much left for a really brave and bold reimagining of telecommunications regulation and funding systems in the country, which we are at least a decade overdue for. I follow so many incredibly scrappy people MacGuyvering solutions for people in need and it's infuriating that it's needed at all. What a waste of human potential. This is a solvable problem.

(This comment brought to you by the Monday morning shot of pure white-hot rage I got from our daily stand-up on the status of coronavirus aid legislation negotiations! Things are, uh, not going well!)
posted by bowtiesarecool at 6:33 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]


Some companies have had call center folks working from home for a long time already, like JetBlue. And now many, many more.
posted by PhineasGage at 6:41 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


The Atlantic cover story by science journalist Ed Yong: How the Pandemic Defeated America
posted by gwint at 7:55 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]


BungaDunga > It’s happened before.

WP > Electoral Commission (United States):
The Electoral Commission was a temporary body created on January 29, 1877 by the United States Congress to resolve the disputed United States presidential election of 1876. Democrat Samuel J. Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes were the main contenders in the election...
What a mess, with one result being The End of Reconstruction:
One major outcome of the electoral commission and the Compromise of 1877 was the return of the South to "local rule" via the removal of federal troops, effectively ending the Reconstruction era and efforts; the federal government's enforcement of post-bellum equality in the South was no more.

This resulted in Democrat takeovers of the Southern legislature—typically by the same kind of fraud and violence that had previously been counteracted by federal troops under President Grant's command. These new White Supremacist governments quickly implemented Jim Crow laws—effectively reversing all the effects of Reconstruction, disenfranchising virtually all Black people in the South for most of the next century, and imposing an apartheid from which the South has yet to fully recover.
More details and links in the WP article. The history of nations and their governments seems mostly composed of major outbreaks of unintended consequences.
posted by cenoxo at 9:26 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


A coronavirus vaccine won’t change the world right away (WaPo / MSN reprint, Aug. 2, 2020)
In the public imagination, the arrival of a coronavirus vaccine looms large: It’s the neat Hollywood ending to the grim and agonizing uncertainty of everyday life in a pandemic. But public health experts are discussing among themselves a new worry: that hopes for a vaccine may be soaring too high. The confident depiction by politicians and companies that a vaccine is imminent and inevitable may give people unrealistic beliefs about how soon the world can return to normal — and even spark resistance to simple strategies that can tamp down transmission and save lives in the short term. [...]

As the plotline advances, so do expectations: If people can just muddle through a few more months, the vaccine will land, the pandemic will end and everyone can throw their masks away. But best-case scenarios have failed to materialize throughout the pandemic, and experts — who believe wholeheartedly in the power of vaccines — foresee a long path ahead. “It seems, to me, unlikely that a vaccine is an off-switch or a reset button where we will go back to pre-pandemic times,” said Yonatan Grad, an assistant professor of infectious diseases and immunology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. [...] The declaration that a vaccine has been shown safe and effective will be a beginning, not the end. Deploying the vaccine to people in the United States and around the world will test and strain distribution networks, the supply chain, public trust and global cooperation. It will take months or, more likely, years to reach enough people to make the world safe.
Getting a coronavirus vaccine in record time is hard. Distributing it to tens of millions may be equally daunting. (WaPo)
Getting shots into the arms of millions of Americans is a massive undertaking, they say, requiring extraordinary coordination, planning and communication. But with only six months to the government’s target date for approving a vaccine, the administration has shared limited and often confusing information about its plans for distribution, making it difficult for overwhelmed state and local officials, including those who run immunization programs, to prepare.

“It’s probably the hardest thing they’re going to do,” Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of a federal vaccine advisory group, said of the effort to distribute vaccines to every corner of America and immunize as many people as quickly as possible. [...] “This is a slow-motion train wreck,” said one state official who has been involved in planning efforts and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. [...] State officials say they also don’t have a clear picture of how much responsibility they will have to shoulder at a time when the federal government has shifted virtually every aspect of the pandemic response to them.
posted by katra at 10:28 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


Top Federal Reserve official says US needs another lockdown to save economy (The Hill)
Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said the nation needs to control the spread of the virus, which is increasing across much of the country, to get back on a path to economic health. “That's the only way we're really going to have a real robust economic recovery. Otherwise, we're going to have flare-ups, lockdowns and a very halting recovery with many more job losses and many more bankruptcies for an extended period of time unfortunately,” Kashkari said on CBS’s “Face the Nation." To do so, he suggested strict shutdowns, which is contrary to what President Trump and many of his allies have been pushing in recent months as measures to aid the economy.

“I mean if we were to lock down really hard, I know I hate to even suggest it, people will be frustrated by it, but if we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it the way that it's happening in the Northeast right now,” Kashkari said. “They had a rocky start, but they're doing a pretty good job right now.” [...] He also said that Congress can afford large sums for coronavirus relief efforts, though Republican lawmakers are looking to lessen the amount of supplemental aid for unemployed Americans as part of the next relief bill. “Right now, the U.S. can fund itself at very, very low rates. Congress should use this opportunity to support the American people and the American economy. I'm not worried about it,” he said. “If we get the economy growing, we will be able to pay off the debt.”
Birx says in an interview that the virus is in a ‘new phase’ and Trump calls her performance ‘pathetic.’ (NYT live blog)
A day earlier, Dr. Birx bluntly said that the virus is in a “new phase,” and that it is “extraordinarily widespread” even in rural areas in the country. Speaking on CNN, she also said that people living in areas of the country where outbreaks are spreading with little sign of improvement should consider wearing a mask at home if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable.
As the world races for a vaccine, the W.H.O cautions that there is ‘no silver bullet’ and ‘might never be.’ (NYT live blog)
The head of the World Health Organization said that while there was great progress in the global search for a vaccine for the coronavirus, people should not expect the crisis to end anytime soon. [...] The comments by Dr. Tedros seemed intended to guard against premature declarations of success that cause people and countries to stop taking prudent interventions to slow the spread of the virus. “For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control,” he said. “Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.” “The message to people and governments is clear: do it all,” he said.
posted by katra at 10:37 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


U.S. election will be Nov. 3 as planned, Trump advisers say (Reuters, Aug. 2, 2020)
The White House and Donald Trump’s campaign on Sunday sought to shut down the Republican president’s musings on delaying the 2020 vote, saying there will be an election on Nov. 3. [...] The coronavirus crisis is expected to drive a surge in mail voting in November. State election officials are working to ensure tens of millions of ballots can reach voters in time to be cast and are returned in time to be counted.
Honest Government Ad | A Message from the White House (The Juice, Twitter, Jul. 30, 2020) (PG version / YouTube)
The US Government has made an ad about its response to the pandemic, and it’s surprisingly honest and informative.
posted by katra at 10:56 AM on August 3 [10 favorites]


‘I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy’ (WaPo, Aug. 1, 2020)
Jeff Gregorich, superintendent, on trying to reopen his schools safely
I dream about going back to normal. I’d love to be open. These kids are hurting right now. I don’t need a politician to tell me that. [...] I get phone calls from families dealing with poverty issues, depression, loneliness, boredom. Some of these kids are out in the wilderness right now, and school is the best place for them. We all agree on that. But every time I start to play out what that looks like on August 17th, I get sick to my stomach. More than a quarter of our students live with grandparents. These kids could very easily catch this virus, spread it and bring it back home. It’s not safe. There’s no way it can be safe. If you think anything else, I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy.
‘This Push to Open Schools Is Guaranteed to Fail’ (Adrienne LaFrance, Atlantic, Aug. 2, 2020)
It is time to stop pretending. Our children are staying home.
In March, we were all living in 15-day increments. Working from home and distance learning, for those who had the terrible luxury of such things, would be a weeks-long affair, surreal but temporary. Fifteen days to flatten the curve. Fifteen days to slow the spread. Scientists warned us even then that a return to normalcy would take longer, but the telescoped timeline had obvious appeal. You can put up with almost anything for just 15 days. Acting on the chance to get it right was essential, but we now know it was not temporary. We’ve seen the failures—in testing, in containment, in federal and state leadership—compound in catastrophic ways. And as our pandemic summer has stretched on, many of us have let go, one by one, of experiences from the world we used to inhabit. We bid goodbye to sleepaway camp, to live music, to distant travel, to boisterous weddings, and to spontaneity in general. Today, a new realization is dawning, and as the debate over schools reopening rages, we must acknowledge it plainly: We aren’t going back to how it was. And we shouldn’t.

“This push to open schools is guaranteed to fail,” says Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and molecular virologist, and the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. [...] “The social-distancing expectations and mask requirements for the lower grades are unrealistic,” Hotez told me. “In communities with high transmission, it’s inevitable that COVID-19 will enter the schools. Within two weeks of opening schools in communities with high virus transmission, teachers will become ill. All it will take is for a single teacher to become hospitalized with COVID and everything will shut down.”
posted by katra at 1:22 PM on August 3 [10 favorites]


A coronavirus vaccine won’t change the world right away (WaPo / MSN reprint, Aug. 2, 2020)

It would be nice if it did, but in reality, expecting it to work like they're depicted on TV is a big, big push.
... the polio vaccine came at a distinct moment in American history, Markel said, when people had great faith that scientists, medicine and government institutions could change their lives for the better. For the coronavirus, a relatively small setback — a miscommunication about vaccines, an unpleasant side effect, a much-hoped-for candidate that fails in large clinical trials or a vaccine that is only partly protective — could have outsize effects, especially with anti-vaccine activists already working to sow distrust.
The consequences of a setback in a coronavirus vaccine could fuel a new anti-vax wave.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:53 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


I just found out that a man I used to work with, who claimed the virus was a myth and that the Devil was behind the news reports of its spread, has died of COVID-19. Apparently he had it, was diagnosed late, still went into his work even after the diagnosis, and died a few days later.
posted by chaz at 3:28 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


As some students and teachers go back to school in the U.S., they’re bringing the virus with them. (NYT live blog)
On Saturday, the superintendent of the Elwood Community School Corporation in the central part of the state sent a note thanking students and parents for “a great first two days of school!” But the optimistic tone quickly gave way: Staff members had tested positive, and the high school was forced to close its doors and move all students in seventh through 12th grades to online learning for at least a week. [...] At a high school in Corinth, Miss., someone also tested positive during the first week back, and exposed students there were asked to stay home for 14 days. And in the Atlanta area, more than 200 employees of a single school district in Gwinnett County tested positive or were in quarantine last week before classes even resumed.

[...] Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland on Monday issued an emergency order counteracting Montgomery County’s health department, which on Friday said that all private schools needed to start the year remotely in the fall, just as public schools in the region plan to. Montgomery County is home to some of the nation’s most prestigious private schools, including St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, attended by Barron Trump, the president’s youngest child. Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said the county’s closure order was overly broad and “inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”
Students at Indiana school back on campus after classmate sent home with positive Covid-19 test (CNN)
Greenfield-Central Junior High isn't the only school in the state, or the county, to navigate a positive coronavirus test so early in the school year. In the southern portion of the county, a football player at New Palestine High School tested positive last week. [...] Another football player -- at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, where classes are slated to begin Thursday -- tested positive, spurring the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township to direct anyone who had close contact with the player to quarantine for 14 days, district spokesman Dennis Jarrett said. [...] In the Indianapolis suburb of Avon, a staff member at Avon High School, which reopened Wednesday, tested positive but had no contact with students or other staff members, Avon Community School Corp. spokeswoman Stacey Forcey-Moore said.
Parents struggle as schools reopen amid coronavirus surge (AP)
The Georgia High School Association, in a memo last week, said it has received reports of 655 positive tests since workouts for football and other sports started on June 8. [...] Many teachers are uneasy, dismayed that the Paulding district refused to mandate masks or push back the start date for in-person classes, as other Atlanta-area districts have done. But with Georgia’s weak unions, there has been little organized opposition.
posted by katra at 3:34 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


College Greek life has already been stricken by coronavirus outbreaks, but canceling parties may not be enough to keep people safe, Insider, Inyoung Choi, 7/27/2020:
  • In early July, several universities witnessed large clusters of coronavirus outbreaks associated with Greek life, putting university reopening plans to question.
  • Students told Insider that the outbreak served as a "learning experience" for the community to take coronavirus seriously, canceling all social events and creating more refined housing plans.
  • But the challenges of enforcing more secure guidelines — coupled with the limited authority many universities have over Greek housing — remains a barrier.
  • Campus Greek life leaders told Insider it's unlikely they can ensure "100% safety."
Details and examples in the article. Students traveling during holidays and breaks provide opportunities to cross-transmit Covid-19 between school and home, across state lines, and to/from other countries.
posted by cenoxo at 4:33 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Educators join National Day of Resistance to fight for safe and equitable schools (NBC News)
Educators gathered Monday in demonstrations across the country addressing twin concerns of a safe and equitable school environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide reckoning around racial justice after the killing of George Floyd. The demonstrations, held in dozens of cities, including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, were part of the National Day of Resistance, organized by a coalition of teachers unions, social justice organizations and the Democratic Socialists of America. They took place in a combination of socially distant rallies and car caravans. Educators who planned to participate in the day of action spoke to NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team in advance of the rallies. Many explained that their major concerns centered around the disproportionately negative impact COVID's new distance-learning modules had on students of color and low-income students, their concern about equitable access to online learning and, ultimately, concern about the lack of clarity in plans to reopen schools safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
US economy needs more stimulus and more masks, Fed policymakers say (Guardian)
“Four months ago, when we did the first stimulus, we thought the economy faced a pothole and the stimulus put a plate over it so we could navigate. Now escalation of the virus may be making that pothole into a sinkhole and creating a need for a longer plate,” Richmond Federal Reserve Bank president Thomas Barkin said in webcast remarks to the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Reuters writes. “Quickly pulling away the support that consumers and businesses are receiving would be a pretty traumatic move for what’s happening in the economy.”

Echoing those sentiments, though in slightly different terms, were Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. Kaplan pushed back on the notion that the extra $600 weekly benefits to the unemployed had made it harder for businesses to hire, while Bullard said earlier efforts to keep businesses and households whole through the crisis have paid off so far. “We’ve looked at a number of studies, we’ve done our own work: we don’t see it as much in the data but I can tell you I’m hearing it from business people,” Kaplan told Bloomberg TV earlier Monday when asked about whether the enhanced jobless aid was deterring people from returning to work. “While it may have made it hard for certain individual businesses to hire, it has helped create jobs, because it has helped bolster consumer spending, so the net effect still has probably been positive for the economy for employment.”
posted by katra at 5:12 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Fauci backs Birx’s warning of a ‘new phase,' pointing to ‘insidious’ community spread (WaPo live blog)
Top infectious-diseases expert Anthony S. Fauci on Monday underscored his medical colleague Deborah Birx’s declaration that the United States has reached a worrying “new phase” in the coronavirus pandemic, pointing to rampant spread that cannot be pinpointed to limited hot spot locations. “Nursing home outbreaks, meatpacking plant outbreaks, prison outbreaks — it’s unfortunate that they occur, but you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and you can go in there and try and suppress the infection and contain it,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a news briefing with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D). “Whereas when you have community spread, it’s insidious.”

With people throughout the community spreading the virus, potentially without any symptoms, it’s much harder to identify cases, isolate patients and then conduct contact tracing, Fauci said. “The reason why [Birx is] saying it’s a new phase is because throughout the country, when you have community spread, it’s much more difficult to get your arms around that and contain,” Fauci said.
University of Texas at Austin bans parties for the fall semester (WaPo live blog)
It’s unclear how the university will enforce the rules, which apply not only to campus events and dorms but off-campus gatherings like fraternity and sorority parties. The school has a site where students can report others for violations.
Trump criticizes Covid lockdowns and falsely claims US 'doing very well' (Guardian)
Focus is now switching to states in the heartlands of the country such as Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri, where the virus is spreading fast. Trump tried to assuage fears for those areas, saying: “I think you’ll find they are soon going to be very much under control.”
posted by katra at 6:03 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


At the same time the technology allowing most call centre operations to take place from home - is here.

While this is the kind of thing it seems obvious to support, I wonder about the possible data privacy and data security implications of letting call center workers access customer data from home.
posted by Slothrup at 6:08 PM on August 3


12 security tips for the ‘work from home’ enterprise (ComputerWorld, Mar. 13, 2020)
One way to secure data as it moves between your core systems and externally based employees is to deploy a VPN.
posted by katra at 6:13 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Uh, if your workplace needs a ComputerWorld article to tell them to deploy a VPN, that's your first and most important problem
posted by BungaDunga at 6:20 PM on August 3 [33 favorites]


It’s unclear how the university will enforce the rules, which apply not only to campus events and dorms but off-campus gatherings like fraternity and sorority parties. The school has a site where students can report others for violations.

Translation: UT Austin is setting up their students to take the blame when the whole campus inevitably shuts down after a superspreader event.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:22 PM on August 3 [26 favorites]


In Canada, there are telehealth services with virtual receptionists who work from home via webcam and pre-screen (taking down information such as your medical services number, your symptoms), book your appointments, and call in prescriptions for you (it might be the doc that does the actual transmission, but the receptionist attaches your current preferred pharmacy to your file).

The security requirements, I'd imagine, would be less onerous for non-medical customer services.
posted by porpoise at 6:37 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Kids these days, can't even follow BSL-4 safety protocols
posted by benzenedream at 7:08 PM on August 3 [9 favorites]


It is useful to us godforsaken Americans to hear how they're handling things in other places. Please keep this up. We get a lot of USian news in the USA and so much of it tries to hard to make all this-gestures-round somewhat normal when it's maximally clear it's not (and shockingly/unsurprisingly has never been, especially regarding racism and classism). So thank you.

I think a number of people who are reading here could use the small ideas from other places regarding the stuff that they are trying to make safe. It seems like we should know it already, but unless we straight-up look for foreign-to-USA news, it's not really easy information to get here. Seems like most of my friends who understand any of the science lean hard on foreign sources of news or on medical professionals in the US that get published occasionally.

Mostly, I think I'm just asking for non-Americans to lean in hard on this thread (if you have the bandwidth) to share your expertise so that we can lean on you for it in various small ways. We Americans know the ways our political system is a pile of garbage, but mitigating the current trash pile with useful information from Not Here is something we may need more exposure to. How does your job keep or not keep you safe? This seems like an AskMe, but also more important than an AskMe?

Again, thank you. And hi! I hope I get to see you/your place again or for the first time someday.
posted by lauranesson at 7:40 PM on August 3 [10 favorites]


(And on rereading, oh, boy, did that seem like the most privileged pile of nonsense. Please don't take time out from your good or scary or both life to answer anything. The fires are just so hot here at present that I hoped maybe a couple of people had a couple of lifelines to throw regarding how to teach or librarian or road-pave or paint or serve food or something that we maybe hadn't seen yet. It's Trump TV all the time over here, what a hero, what a war criminal, and we're especially good at pinning stuff on one useless human scrap. Better to use time figuring out how to sing/pray/work/whatever together so the US can catch up on being human, I guess? Anyway, thanks for any help you offer. I miss you.)
posted by lauranesson at 7:48 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission (NYT, Jul. 30, 2020 / MSN reprint)
In a new report, a research team based at Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology has tried to tease out the ways in which the virus passed from person to person in the staterooms, corridors and common areas of the Diamond Princess. It found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets that were light enough to float in the air, for several minutes or much longer. [...] The new paper has been posted on a preprint server and submitted to a journal; it has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it was shown by Times reporters to nearly a dozen experts in aerosols and infectious disease. The new findings, if confirmed, would have major implications for making indoor spaces safer and choosing among a panoply of personal protective gear.
Two cruise ships hit by coronavirus weeks after industry restarts (Guardian, Aug. 2, 2020)
At least 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and authorities are trying to contact trace hundreds of passengers from two recent Arctic voyages the ship took. Four crew members on the MS Roald Amundsen were hospitalised on Friday when the ship arrived at the Norwegian port of Tromsø, and later diagnosed with the respiratory illness. Tests showed another 32 of the 158 staff were also infected. But 178 passengers were allowed to leave the ship in Tromsø, triggering a complex operation to locate them in order to contain any potential spread. So far, four of the 387 passengers who travelled on the ship on two separate cruises since 17 July have been found to carry the virus, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) and the Tromsoe municipality said. “We expect that more infections will be found in connection to this outbreak,” Line Vold, a senior FHI executive, said. Passengers have been told to self-isolate.
Outbreak hits Norway cruise ship, could spread along coast (AP)
“A preliminary evaluation shows that there has been a failure in several of our internal procedures,” Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said in a statement. [...] since the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s western coast, the virus may not have been contained onboard. Some passengers disembarked along the route and may have spread the virus to their local communities. A total of 69 municipalities in Norway could have been affected, Norwegian news agency NTB reported. Officials in the northern city of Tromsoe are urging anyone who traveled on the ship or had any contact with it to get in touch with health authorities. Police in Norway are opening an investigation to find out whether any laws had been broken.
posted by katra at 9:30 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Lessons learned will prove crucial in preventing a second wave of COVID-19 [Globe and Mail, Canada]
Lesson one: Masks work. If everyone wears them, they should contribute to controlling a second wave
Lesson two: Testing, tracing and isolating works, but only if deployed quickly and only when community transmission is low
Lesson three: Preserve critical-care capacity in hospitals but don’t shut down all scheduled operations again – because you can’t
Lesson four: To protect nursing homes, cut down on crowding.
posted by benzenedream at 10:42 PM on August 3 [8 favorites]


Mostly, I think I'm just asking for non-Americans to lean in hard on this thread (if you have the bandwidth) to share your expertise so that we can lean on you for it in various small ways.

Maybe when this thread closes we could have a general covid thread? The non-US one got pretty slow last time but the virus is rising pretty much across Europe now with localised preventative measures varying a lot.

And on rereading, oh, boy, did that seem like the most privileged pile of nonsense. Please don't take time out from your good or scary or both life to answer anything.

I for one have some bandwidth and appreciate there being somewhere to see up to date info (e.g. the article about aerosol spreading on the cruise ship above). There's a lot of Euro-centric articles I have shared but would in a different thread).
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:06 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, yes, roolya_boolya, it seems like a great idea and a great time to have a general covid thread, especially if we US persons can keep it down on the US-politics front. I gotta hit some hay but will try for this tomorrow if no one in a better time zone has hit it first.
posted by lauranesson at 12:23 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


It is useful to us godforsaken Americans to hear how they're handling things in other places. Please keep this up.

The sovereign citizens of Victoria are handling it much as you'd expect.
posted by flabdablet at 12:48 AM on August 4


800 Victorians not at home after being told to self-isolate

So it's not just you. Fuckwitism is a worldwide pandemic spreading every bit as fast as SARS-CoV-2.
posted by flabdablet at 12:51 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


it seems like a great idea and a great time to have a general covid thread, especially if we US persons can keep it down on the US-politics front.

I have been trying to keep track of Covid-related FPPs on the MeFi Wiki Disaster Planning & Recovery page, and it looks like we typically have had a general Covid thread and a US/Trump Covid thread, but we just don't have one now. With the US election coming up, I don't think it will be feasible to not post about Trump-related news, because his leadership is so directly related to the US experience with the pandemic. But I think it would be great if someone would make a general Covid FPP similar to what we've had in the past - I likely won't be able to do it tomorrow but could try to do it soon if someone else doesn't.
posted by katra at 3:23 AM on August 4 [10 favorites]


we typically have had a general Covid thread and a US/Trump Covid thread, but we just don't have one now. With the US election coming up, I don't think it will be feasible to not post about Trump-related news, because his leadership is so directly related to the US experience with the pandemic.

I totally agree that it is not realistic to have a covid thread incorporating the US without Trump, however it's also hard to have a general thread without the US because it's the hotspot for covid right now... However, I will happily contribute to trying to keep a general thread active and alive if someone else makes one.
posted by roolya_boolya at 4:30 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I don't think it will be feasible to not post about Trump-related news, because his [habitual lack of] leadership is so directly related to the US experience with the pandemic.

Agreed. Even if The Donald loses the 2020 election, he’s infected the office of the U.S. presidency and seriously damaged the reputation of the United States for years to come. Whoever succeeds Trump will inherit a hell of a mess to recover from, in addition to mounting a coherent national effort against Covid-19.
posted by cenoxo at 5:26 AM on August 4 [6 favorites]


When Covid subsided, Israel reopened its schools. It didn’t go well

Confident it had beaten the coronavirus and desperate to reboot a devastated economy, the Israeli government invited the entire student body back in late May. Within days, infections were reported at a Jerusalem high school, which quickly mushroomed into the largest outbreak in a single school in Israel, possibly the world.

The virus rippled out to the students’ homes and then to other schools and neighbourhoods, ultimately infecting hundreds of students, teachers and relatives. Other outbreaks forced hundreds of schools to close.

Across the country, tens of thousands of students and teachers were quarantined. Israel’s advice for other countries? “They definitely should not do what we have done,” said Eli Waxman, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and chairman of the team advising Israel’s National Security Council on the pandemic. “It was a major failure.”
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:41 AM on August 4 [19 favorites]


The Atlantic cover story by science journalist Ed Yong: How the Pandemic Defeated America - posted by gwint
Despite its epochal effects, COVID‑19 is merely a harbinger of worse plagues to come. The U.S. cannot prepare for these inevitable crises if it returns to normal, as many of its people ache to do. Normal led to this. Normal was a world ever more prone to a pandemic but ever less ready for one. To avert another catastrophe, the U.S. needs to grapple with all the ways normal failed us. It needs a full accounting of every recent misstep and foundational sin, every unattended weakness and unheeded warning, every festering wound and reopened scar.
This article is such an accounting, exposing key aspects of American culture and recent history that kindled the pandemic. Interestingly, Ed Yong also wrote a very relevant, and slightly less grim Dec 2016 article:

How a Pandemic Might Play Out Under Trump (Ed Yong, Atlantic; Dec 2016)
Bioethicist Art Caplan from the New York University School of Medicine envisages a quick slide towards isolation and authoritarianism. [...]
It seemed like fanfiction then.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:25 AM on August 4 [14 favorites]


There's a pic on the tweet here that (claims to) shows a fairly crowded school hallway in the state of Georgia from the first day back, very little in the way of mask wearing, no distancing.

Someone from there further down says that in their district while they do have the option for their kids to attend virtually, only about 9000 out of ~30000 have chosen to do so.

With Georgia (pop. 10 million) currently averaging around 3500 new cases a day, compared to the ~20 a day Israel (pop. 9 million) had when reopening this just seems to be a disaster in the making.
posted by Buntix at 7:22 AM on August 4 [11 favorites]


The Chaotic Design of Trump’s Mail-In-Voting Rants: Voting by post requires a functioning delivery service and sufficient funding for states—two things that the President is determined to sabotage., The New Yorker, Sue Halpern, 7/31/2020:
On Thursday, when Donald Trump casually suggested on Twitter that the November election be delayed because “Universal Mail-In Voting” would make it “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” he was either setting the stage to contest the outcome or to explain away his impending defeat, or both. As the President should know by now, in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic is dangerous, especially for older Americans and those with underlying health conditions. Yet he and his chorus of enablers have made a habit of trash-talking voting by mail, claiming, erroneously, that it promotes fraud. It’s no accident that Trump’s tweet specifically assailed “Universal Mail-In Voting,” since the word “universal” is triggering for anyone who is afraid of the will of the people.

So far, only five states have nearly universal mail-in balloting. For most of them, it took years of legislative wrangling before it was adopted, and years of preparation before it was deployed. Additionally, thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have no-excuse absentee balloting (meaning that anyone can request an absentee ballot for any reason). And every state has the infrastructure to enable military and overseas voters to cast ballots from afar. (Inexplicably, according to Thursday’s tweet, Trump believes that absentee ballots are good and mail-in ballots are bad, even though they are the same thing.) All told, nearly eighty per cent of the electorate would be able to vote by mail in November....
More details in the article: there are problems and vulnerabilities that The Donald his minions may try to exploit.

See USA.gov > Absentee and Early Voting for current mail-in voting information and links to state election offices.
posted by cenoxo at 7:54 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Two decades of pandemic war games failed to account for Donald Trump

Beth Cameron, a biosecurity expert at the Nuclear Threat Initiative in Washington DC, which focuses on national-security issues, says that coordination could have been aided by a White House office responsible for pandemic preparedness. Cameron had led such a group during Barack Obama’s presidency, but Trump dismantled it in 2018.

In March, the CDC stopped giving press briefings and saw its role diminished as the Trump administration reassured the public that the coronavirus wasn’t as bad as public-health experts were saying. An editorial in The Washington Post in July by four former CDC directors, including Frieden, described how the Trump administration had silenced the agency, revised its guidelines and undermined its authority in trying to handle the pandemic. Trump has also questioned the judgement of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading scientist on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Confusion emerged in most pandemic simulations, but none explored the consequences of a White House sidelining its own public-health agency. Perhaps they should have, suggests a scientist who has worked in the US public-health system for decades and asked to remain anonymous because they did not have permission to speak to the press. “You need gas in the engine and the brakes to work, but if the driver doesn’t want to use the car, you’re not going anywhere,” the scientist says.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:04 AM on August 4 [11 favorites]


The Coronavirus Is Never Going Away (Sarah Zhang for The Atlantic, non-paywalled)
If there was ever a time when this coronavirus could be contained, it has probably passed. One outcome is now looking almost certain: This virus is never going away.

[discussion of best- and worst-case scenarios with various academics]

“I think this virus is with us to the future,” Ruth Karron, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins, told me. “But so is influenza with us, and for the most part, flu doesn't shut down our societies. We manage it.”
posted by box at 8:20 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Trump actually doesn’t appear to understand how bad the pandemic is (Phillip Bump, WaPo Analysis)
“You don’t know that,” Trump replied, suggesting that South Korea was perhaps hiding its true death toll. Which, of course, is nonsense. South Korea’s case totals and death toll are low because it tested often and early, containing the virus during the spring and stamping out new occurrences as they arose. This is also a reason that the country has not had to do as much testing: it has far fewer possible cases to sort out. [...] [Axios’s Jonathan] Swan's point [during the interview last week], of course, is that having 470 out of every million Americans die of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, reflects a far worse situation than South Korea seeing six out of every million residents die. You can’t make that comparison, Trump insists — for no other apparent reason than that it makes the situation in the United States look appropriately dire. [...] “There's never been anything like this,” Trump said. “And by the way, if you watch the fake news on television, they don't even talk about it. But, you know, there are 188 other countries right now that are suffering— some proportionately far greater than we are.” The example he used was Spain, which he said was “having a big spike.” Spain has been averaging 2,600 new cases a day over the past seven days and five deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The United States has seen nearly 60,000 new cases per day and a bit over 1,000 deaths. Looking at those number as a function of population — which Trump endorses here — we see that Spain is seeing 56 new cases per million residents each day and 0.1 deaths, compared to 184 cases and three deaths in the United States.

[...] On Tuesday morning, Politico published an article looking closely at how the White House operates under its new chief of staff, former North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows. One White House staffer who spoke with Politico’s reporters said that Meadows and his team were protecting Trump from bad political news. “I don’t know if they’re giving him the whole picture,” the official said, calling the group “Kool-Aid drinkers.” The Swan interview certainly suggests that someone is keeping Trump from understanding what’s actually happening with the pandemic. The odds are that the person who is doing so is Trump.
posted by katra at 8:37 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


Trump actually doesn’t appear to understand how bad the pandemic is (Phillip Bump, WaPo Analysis)

This kind of headline drives me fucking crazy. NO FUCKING SHIT, SHERLOCK!! Which part of "he's a mentally ill, age-deteriorating narcissistic sociopath who has no understanding whatsoever of politics, nuanced or otherwise, or much of anything else for that matter" don't you understand? Stop trying to make this psychopath fit your neat presidential narrative!! Stop pretending that he's normal! By minimizing his behavior, you're just making it worse. Argh *chews on edge of plastic cup*
posted by Melismata at 9:28 AM on August 4 [34 favorites]


The Swan interview certainly suggests that someone is keeping Trump from understanding what’s actually happening with the pandemic.

That person is Birx. She's the one who has been feeding Trump the happy talk all along. She's the one who prepares the misleading charts and tables that Trump hauls out at the press conferences proclaiming "best in the world". Pelosi called her out for "enabling coronovirus disinformation."
posted by JackFlash at 9:35 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Scientists Uncover Biological Signatures of the Worst Covid-19 Cases

And the quality of these cytokines may matter as much as the quantity. In a paper published last week in Nature Medicine, Dr. Iwasaki and her colleagues showed that patients with severe Covid-19 appear to be churning out signals that are better suited to subduing pathogens that aren’t viruses.

Although the delineations aren’t always clear-cut, the immune system’s responses to pathogens can be roughly grouped into three categories: type 1, which is directed against viruses and certain bacteria that infiltrate our cells; type 2, which fights parasites like worms that don’t invade cells; and type 3, which goes after fungi and bacteria that can survive outside of cells. Each branch uses different cytokines to rouse different subsets of molecular fighters.

People with moderate cases of Covid-19 take what seems like the most sensible approach, concentrating on type 1 responses, Dr. Iwasaki’s team found. Patients struggling to recover, on the other hand, seem to be pouring an unusual number of resources into type 2 and type 3 responses, which is kind of “wacky,” Dr. Iwasaki said. “As far as we know, there is no parasite involved.”

It’s almost as if the immune system is struggling to “pick a lane,” Dr. Wherry said.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:43 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


Two decades of pandemic war games failed to account for Donald Trump

There has to be an accounting for stupid in any war planning. Clearly, their pool of future war game participants needs to include fools, morons, and egomaniacs.
posted by cenoxo at 9:55 AM on August 4 [13 favorites]


Regeneron’s Monoclonal Antibody Cocktail in Primates

By contrast, look at what happens if you try the one-antibody-only technique of treating a pathogen with an injected monoclonal antibody: you’ll hit the target hard, but at the same time you’re applying strong selection pressure for any viable mutants that can escape the attack. And that’s what Regeneron saw in their model systems with single antibody treatments – mutants that would normally have a low profile with no particular advantage suddenly had a chance to amplify if they escaped the binding of the monoclonal antibody. Thus the mixture of two monoclonals, which bind to non-overlapping regions of the Spike protein. Now a virus needs two separate escape mutations, which is extremely unlikely.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:03 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Probably the best pre-COVID war planning in the age of Trump is Jeffrey Lewis' "2020 Commission Report" which is a (fictional!) account of a war with North Korea under President Trump.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:03 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


What if J. Edgar Hoover Had Been a Moron? (Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, Aug. 4, 2020)
It was on the ninth day of the Trump presidency, writing in response to the new president’s new travel ban executive order, that I coined the phrase “malevolence tempered by incompetence.” I never imagined in doing so that the phrase might aptly describe the Trump administration’s behavior towards me personally. [...] So let’s look at both the incompetence, which is simple and easy to understand and genuinely amusing, and then the malevolence beneath it—which is more complicated and is not amusing at all.
Opinion: Ableism remains implicit in leftist anti-Trump rhetoric (Grace Pulliam, Reveille, Jun. 26, 2020, updated Jun. 29, 2020) (via)
Across cultures, disabled people have consistently been undervalued and discriminated against by their able-bodied peers. [...] After four years, it’s still pretty fun to ridicule Donald Trump. And so, so easy. But when the punchline really just boils down to “Trump isn’t walking normally,” what exactly is the joke? That certain individuals indeed have limited physical capabilities? Why is it that joking about disability is suddenly considered acceptable as it pertains to Donald Trump?
James Kwak is a law professor at the University of Connecticut and the chair of the board of the Southern Center for Human Rights. His latest book is “Take Back Our Party: Restoring the Democratic Legacy.” (NYT Opinion, Jul. 24, 2020) (via)
[...] it can feel good to poke fun at Donald Trump’s incoherence, narcissism and singular ability to embarrass himself. But he is also launching a deadly serious attack on our democratic values.

Let’s not forget which one is more important.
posted by katra at 10:50 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Clearly, their pool of future war game participants needs to include fools, morons, and egomaniacs.

Or autocrats who keep a copy of Hitler's speeches on their bedside table, who are using Covid-19 to practice genocide.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:51 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Rep. Judy Chu: How to talk about China's role in pandemic in racially sensitive way (NBC News)
The chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif, has released a toolkit to guide her colleagues on how to avoid inciting or emboldening anti-Asian sentiment and racism tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The toolkit, which Chu disseminated to her fellow members of Congress last week, lays out language to help lawmakers push back on rising anti-Asian bias, offering suggestions on how to discuss China's role in the pandemic. [...] "Absolutely it is possible to condemn China without putting AAPIs in danger, and that is what is so infuriating about Republicans' insistence on using racist slurs like 'kung flu' or 'China virus,'" Chu said, referring to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. "They claim they're being tough on China when, in actuality, they're just hurling insults and name-calling without articulating substantive arguments." She added: "That's what prompted me to issue this guidance urging my colleagues in Congress to be specific in their criticisms of China rather than race-baiting simply to deflect blame. ... We need details, not diatribes."

The toolkit recommends that lawmakers avoid associating the virus with a country, region or ethnicity and conflating the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, with all Chinese people or the broader Chinese diaspora. The resource says using terms like "the Chinese" could prompt people to believe that those who are of Chinese descent are to blame for the virus. Instead, it advises legislators to be specific, saying exactly which "particular policy or decision and explicitly naming the CCP, or a specific CCP leader." "Speaking about the problem in specific terms helps you to be more accurate and responsible, while simultaneously providing better clarity to constituents about your concerns with the CCP and its policies," the toolkit reads. [...] "Intentionally vague criticisms against a whole country of over 1 billion people reinforce outdated and dangerous Cold War mentalities that the entire country is an enemy," the guidance reads. "We should not repeat the mistakes of World War II and the Cold War by fomenting fear of an entire nation again today."
posted by katra at 10:58 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


That person is Birx. She's the one who has been feeding Trump the happy talk all along.

I liked her in Birx Law.

(((Burke's Law, American TV series starring Gene Barry, a millionaire chief of detectives who solves crime while chauffered around in his Rolls Royce.)))
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:37 AM on August 4


The Daily 202: Birx argues privately against Trump’s push for reopening schools, a major coronavirus flashpoint (WaPo)
Deborah Birx was at a vacation home in Delaware when White House communications staffers called to say they needed to put her on the Sunday shows. Ever the good soldier, the coordinator of President Trump’s coronavirus task force appeared remotely on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Asked whether schools should fully reopen, Birx answered: “If you have high caseload and active community spread … we are asking people to distance learn at this moment, so we can get this epidemic under control.” Administration officials say Birx has been arguing this privately, citing recent studies to make her case, but saying so publicly was one of the factors that put her crosswise with Trump. The president responded to the interview by calling her “pathetic!” in a tweet on Monday morning and continued his aggressive push to fully reopen schools during an afternoon news conference, disregarding warnings against doing so from a chorus of public health experts while ignoring mounting evidence that this could lead to potentially deadly outbreaks.

[...] “Birx finds herself isolated with increasingly few allies even as she remains responsible for overseeing the nation’s response to a cataclysmic crisis,” Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb report. “Trump has grown exhausted by the dismal coronavirus news and just wants the issue to be behind him. … In recent weeks, her time in the Oval Office has dropped, officials said, and she is not always part of decision-making meetings led by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. [...] Meanwhile, Birx’s reputation has taken a hit in the public health world where she has spent her career because she is perceived as too much of a cheerleader for the administration’s response.
posted by katra at 11:48 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


BungaDunga > ...Jeffrey Lewis' "2020 Commission Report" which is a (fictional!) account of a war with North Korea under President Trump.

For those who don’t know, Dr. Jeffrey Lewis (WP bio) also founded the Arms Control Wonk blog in 2004 (his archived posts).
posted by cenoxo at 11:52 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Yet [Trump] and his chorus of enablers have made a habit of trash-talking voting by mail, claiming, erroneously, that it promotes fraud.

Not erroneously. Falsely. Fraudulently, if you will.

"Erroneously" implies that one wants to get it right and make a mistake. Trump doesn't care what the truth is if he has a story that makes him look better.

Much of the media is still no better able to handle Trump than the rest of the nation is the pandemic, and they've had more than four years to figure it out.
posted by Gelatin at 1:01 PM on August 4 [11 favorites]


I think that generally it's pointless to pay attention to any interview with Trump. However, the Axios interview is incredible. Trump is completely out of his depth on basic facts. His staff should stop him from doing sit down interviews.
posted by rdr at 3:08 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Gary Shteyngart (@Shteyngart): "There are 91 days until the election and trump should be interviewed every single damn day."
posted by PhineasGage at 3:19 PM on August 4 [20 favorites]


However, the Axios interview is incredible

I kept seeing it posted everywhere this morning. I genuinely and honestly do not get the gushing praise. Trump kept speaking over the interviewer, and then the interviewer fawned over him while trying to stammer out a question — and still never got any real answers.

I was able to stomach about first eight minutes of it, and the last 20 seconds, where the interviewer again kissed his ass, before I had to turn it off out of disgust.

The harm Trump does to our country every day has grown incalculable. I wish we had a media that would do their jobs and get straight answers out of him, without these games.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:25 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


I wish we had a media that would do their jobs and get straight answers out of him

He's not going to give straight answers regardless of who asks. I'm not even sure he could if he wanted to, he has no idea whats going on.

The best case is the media being tough and he will simply stop meeting with them [for the most part this already happens, one reason you never see a "tough" interview is he already won't meet with many news orgs]. Unfortunately I suspect this just leads to status quo --- his supporters will continue to watch fawning interviews on Fox, and the rest of us will continue to get no info from him.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:00 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]




Nevertheless when he gives an interview, the interviewer should demand straight answers and push him on it. If he has a tantrum, if he spews incoherent word salad, that further helps drive home his incompetence to anyone who's paying attention. If he stops giving interviews because they're tough that can be hung on him, too, as cowardice.

And Sarah Cooper needs material.
posted by Reverend John at 7:13 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


fyi, I put together a starting point FPP for international/non-Trump news and analysis about the pandemic:

"but what normal looks like varies dramatically."
posted by katra at 8:14 PM on August 4 [13 favorites]


Fact-checking 22 claims from Donald Trump's Axios interview, PolitiFact, 8/4/2020: In a rare sit-down interview at the White House, President Donald Trump repeated a slew of misleading claims aimed at painting a rosy picture of the United States’ coronavirus response.

One example:
At Trump’s Tulsa rally "we had 12,000 people, not 6,000, which you reported and other people reported."

Trump doubled the official count. Arena officials, who scanned tickets of people entering Trump’s June 20 rally, said the crowd totaled around 6,200.

Multiple media outlets including Axios reported that Tulsa fire department spokesman Andrew Little said the crowd size was fewer than 6,200. That count did not include staff, suites and media at the 19,200-capacity BOK Center.

We spoke to Little on Aug. 4, and he told us that the fire department did not come up with the crowd size on its own. Little said that the number came from the BOK Center based on the scanned tickets of participants entering the center.

"That number was not tallied by us," Little told PolitiFact. "It was relayed by us with approval by the venue."

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh disputed the 6,200 figure the day after the rally saying, "12,000 people went through the metal detectors so that number is way off."

— Amy Sherman
New tone same lies as the old tone.
posted by cenoxo at 10:13 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


Nevertheless when he gives an interview, the interviewer should demand straight answers and push him on it. If he has a tantrum, if he spews incoherent word salad, that further helps drive home his incompetence to anyone who's paying attention. If he stops giving interviews because they're tough that can be hung on him, too, as cowardice.

No, it just encourages his followers that Big Liberal Media is being mean to him. And he's not capable of deciding to stop giving interviews, because he's a narcissistic psychopath.

By constantly insisting that Trump follow their narrative instead of the other way around, the media is doing more harm than good.
posted by Melismata at 6:48 AM on August 5




Clearly a large proportion of his followers will see an honest, forceful interview as persecution of their hero, but there are still some who can be reached. We shouldn't write off those who can see his incompetence when its put on display. Some of these people, though, are inclined to forget, or live in communities where Democrats have been so thoroughly demonized that they need to be reminded, over and over, by the man's own displays of incompetence that he is, indeed, the greater evil.

Groups like Republican Voters Against Trump show that there are some people out there who are receptive to the message that they should turn against Trump even if they would usually be inclined to support him. Honest journalism holding him to account can help amplify that message.
posted by Reverend John at 7:36 AM on August 5 [7 favorites]


Agreed, Reverend John. I just hate the way the media normalizes Trump with headlines such as the one I quoted above; Oh Noes the President is Not Acting Presidential.

By doing this, the media is normalizing Trump's behavior. Even if the article is a thoughtful analysis of what's happening, too many people only glance at the headlines. And I agree that it's better to have such articles than to not have them.

But we're normalizing Trump's abuse. Isn't part of Metafilter 101 the idea that you Do Not Engage With The Abuser? Walk away. Do not respond. Any response will just make it worse. The Gift of Fear. Don't feed the troll. Maybe all these headlines just trigger me or something.
posted by Melismata at 8:00 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I've never read the Gift of Fear, but I have spent several years representing survivors of domestic violence who couldn't just walk away, and needed to fight for their lives, and the lives of their children. So I would help them expose the abuse, and obtain restraining orders, and advocate for prosecution, and help them find support and public benefits so they could heal and move forward.

But I respect your reaction and empathize with it, more than I can adequately communicate in a flat-text comment here. I posted the article despite its title because I thought that Bump was ultimately making the point that Trump needs to be held personally accountable. As a lawyer, I recoil from ableist-style commentary about Trump's mental health and cognitive capacity, because it sounds like excuse-making and minimization to me, and I know how high a bar it is to actually avoid liability due to mental illness. I would much rather use clear and precise language to describe his malevolent behavior and his racist actions, so I appreciated what I saw as Bump's analysis of Trump's inability to defend his own propaganda, even though I agree that the headline was misleading.
posted by katra at 8:49 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


Chasm grows between Trump and government coronavirus experts (AP)
In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, President Donald Trump was flanked in the White House briefing room by a team of public health experts in a seeming portrait of unity to confront the disease that was ravaging the globe. But as the crisis has spread to all reaches of the country, with escalating deaths and little sense of endgame, a chasm has widened between the president and the experts. The result: daily delivery of a mixed message to the public at a moment when coherence is most needed. [...] “Right now, I think it’s under control,” Trump said during an interview with Axios. He added, “We have done a great job.” But the surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths tells a different story. And it suggests that the president is increasingly out of step with the federal government’s own medical and public health experts. [...] His positive self-evaluation gives short shrift to the fact that the U.S. has the world’s fourth highest per capita virus death rate, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. [...] “It’s not a bragging right that over 3% in your country that’s infected is dying,” Georgetown University’s Gostin said.

[...] “It’s a very dangerous place for the country to be,” said Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary under President Barack Obama. “The reason I say it is very dangerous, is that we continue to have a White House that has made a public health crisis in this country into a debate about whether people like Donald Trump or not. We have never seen a situation like this before, and we are paying the price.”
Trump Says Surging Virus ‘Will Go Away Like Things Go Away’ (Bloomberg / MSN)
“This thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away,” Trump said Wednesday morning in a telephone interview with Fox News. He said the U.S. is in “very good shape” while touting economic indicators. Trump also reiterated his push for schools to reopen, saying inaccurately that children are “almost immune” to the virus but that “the teachers are a different story.” He recommended that older teachers not return to work until the pandemic passes.
Poll: Voters much more likely to trust family, Fauci than Trump on vaccine (Politico)
Only 14 percent of voters said they would be more likely to take a coronavirus vaccine if President Donald Trump recommended it, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Voters were far more likely to say they'd take a vaccine based on the advice of their family (46 percent); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (43 percent); or the government's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci (43 percent). One-third said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if the World Health Organization encouraged Americans to do so.
posted by katra at 9:38 AM on August 5 [6 favorites]


Both Sanjay Gupta and Anthony Fauci are still seeing patients. My mind is blown. Medical professionals are something else.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:37 AM on August 5 [7 favorites]


Gupta: "Has the administration failed the American people?"
Fauci: "Sanjay, you know if I say that we've failed the American people, that will be the headline, that will be the takeaway from this interview. I really want to focus on how people can behave in a way that contains this epidemic."
(that's a yes)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:37 AM on August 5 [23 favorites]


Virus testing in the US is dropping, even as deaths mount (AP)
U.S. testing for the coronavirus is dropping even as infections remain high and the death toll rises by more than 1,000 a day, a worrisome trend that officials attribute largely to Americans getting discouraged over having to wait hours to get a test and days or weeks to find out the results. An Associated Press analysis found that the number of tests per day slid 3.6% over the past two weeks to 750,000, with the count falling in 22 states. That includes places like Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Iowa where the percentage of positive tests is high and continuing to climb, an indicator that the virus is still spreading uncontrolled. [...] Testing demand is expected to surge again this fall, when schools reopen and flu season hits, most likely outstripping supplies and leading to new delays and bottlenecks.

[...] A proposal from the Harvard researchers calls for the federal government to distribute $1 saliva-based antigen tests to all Americans so that they can test themselves regularly, perhaps even daily. Even with accuracy as low as 50%, researchers estimate the paper strip tests would uncover five times more COVID-19 cases than the current laboratory-based approach, which federal officials estimate catches just 1 in 10 infections. But the approach faces resistance in Washington, where federal regulators have required at least 80% accuracy for new COVID-19 tests.
There’s no national testing strategy for coronavirus. These states banded together to make one. (WaPo, Aug. 4, 2020)
The governors, three Republicans and three Democrats, say other states and cities may join them and that talks have already begun with one of the two companies approved by the FDA to sell point-of-care antigen tests that can detect the virus in less than 30 minutes. [...] Each state — Virginia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio, in addition to Maryland — would request 500,000 tests, for a total of 3 million tests that could be deployed to address outbreaks. Having access to that many rapid tests would reduce the need for states to rely on traditional testing infrastructure, which primarily involves private labs that have been beset by long delays.
posted by katra at 10:54 AM on August 5 [9 favorites]


Viral photo of crowded Georgia high school hallway lacks context, superintendent says (WaPo live blog)
Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott sought to reassure parents after a photo of students packed into a Georgia high school hallway was shared widely on social media, saying in a Tuesday letter that while the photo “does not look good,” the situation complied with the state’s school reopening policy. [...] The school opened its doors on Monday to students, who are not required to wear masks or practice physical distancing. [...] The conditions were permissible under the Georgia Department of Education’s health recommendations, he said. The superintendent also misleadingly cited a state health department document listing the different ways people can become infected with the coronavirus. He claimed that exposure occurs after "Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 15 minutes,” but omitted other factors, such as being coughed on, that can cause the virus to spread faster and more directly.

Stephen Kissler, a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said students were at higher risk of exposure when clustered together. Limiting close contact to 15 minutes or less was “a good rule of thumb,” he told The Washington Post, "but if you have a bunch of students crowding into classrooms without masks, there is still a chance of spread.” [...] Otott said his schools have received a lot of feedback about mask use. “Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” he said. "What we will do is continue to strongly encourage all students and staff to wear masks.” [Ravina Kullar, an infectious-disease specialist and epidemiologist and spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America,] said that statement was “mind-boggling.” “You get detention for not tucking in your shirt. It is possible to impose certain rules," she said.
posted by katra at 11:08 AM on August 5 [11 favorites]


the photo “does not look good,” the situation complied with the state’s school reopening policy.

Then maybe they need to rethink their policies of that's compliant.
posted by octothorpe at 11:14 AM on August 5 [6 favorites]


The conditions were permissible under the Georgia Department of Education’s health recommendations, he said.

He then added the maximum allowed mercury contamination to the drinking water.
posted by srboisvert at 11:20 AM on August 5 [14 favorites]


“Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” he said. "What we will do is continue to strongly encourage all students and staff to wear masks.”

This clown 100% has a bunch of rules for both students and staff about skirt length and the width of shoulder straps and t-shirt slogans and backwards baseball caps and shit, and anyone in his position that is remotely competent is perfectly capable of enforcing those rules.
posted by box at 12:05 PM on August 5 [60 favorites]


Dr. Fauci: My family gets death threats

Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he has had to get security protection after his family received threats and harassment.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:04 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


While this whole situation is worse in the U.S. because of Tr*mp and Fox "News", all over the world there are significant policy failures as well as masses of individuals refusing to wear masks and practice other safe behavior. It feels like humanity as a whole is vying to win the ultimate Darwin Award.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:42 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


While this whole situation is worse in the U.S. because of Tr*mp and Fox "News", all over the world there are significant policy failures as well as masses of individuals refusing to wear masks and practice other safe behavior.

I'd bet Nigel Farage is in touch with all the dumbass anti-mask movements world-wide.
posted by srboisvert at 2:40 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


This clown 100% has a bunch of rules for both students and staff about skirt length and the width of shoulder straps and t-shirt slogans and backwards baseball caps and shit, and anyone in his position that is remotely competent is perfectly capable of enforcing those rules.

Yep (2018 school policy pdf). Seems to entirely target female school kids.
posted by srboisvert at 2:54 PM on August 5 [6 favorites]


someone in the district should ask about this discrepancy...

On the record
posted by Windopaene at 4:26 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


The Truth Behind A Viral Picture Of A Reopening School Is Worse Than It Looked (Buzzfeed)
Behind a viral photo of a crowded hallway at a high school in Georgia, a potentially dire situation is brewing. Students, teachers, and parents fear the Paulding County school’s rushed reopening plans may be spiraling out of control just two days after students — who said they were told they could face expulsion for remaining home — returned to class despite reports of positive coronavirus cases among students and staff. North Paulding High School, about an hour outside Atlanta, reopened Monday despite an outbreak among members of its high school football team, many of whom, a Facebook video shows, worked out together in a crowded indoor gym last week as part of a weightlifting fundraiser.

[...] And multiple teachers at North Paulding say there are positive tests among school staff, including a staff member who came into contact with most teachers at the school while exhibiting symptoms last week. Teachers and staff said the school won’t confirm coronavirus infections among district employees, citing privacy reasons. "That was exactly one week ago, so we are all waiting to see who gets sick next week,” a North Paulding teacher told BuzzFeed News of her exposure to the virus. [...] Some students at North Paulding say they were forced to attend school in person because all of the slots for the district’s virtual learning option were filled. A narrow sign-up window for virtual classes meant many parents missed their opportunity to enroll their children online.

[...] Amy, a school nurse, resigned from Paulding County Schools in July over concerns about virus safety. She said under the school district’s plan, school nurses were supposed to act as contact tracers for thousands of kids and staff, and that a district plan to sequester children believed to be exposed until their parents could pick them up seemed insufficient. “I did not want to have any part of that,” she said. “It was completely and totally irresponsible.” [...] On Wednesday, the school addressed the controversy that had swirled around the viral photograph via an intercom announcement from North Paulding High School principal Gabe Carmona. In it, according to two people familiar with the situation, he stated that any student found criticizing the school on social media could face disciplinary consequences.
posted by katra at 5:00 PM on August 5 [17 favorites]


Yep (2018 school policy pdf). Seems to entirely target female school kids.

No. It targets Black kids, too.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:35 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


Facebook removes Trump post over false Covid-19 claim for first time (Guardian)
The post included video of Trump falsely asserting that children were “almost immune from Covid-19” during an appearance on Fox News. There is evidence to suggest that children who contract Covid-19 generally experience milder symptoms than adults do. However, they are not immune, and some children have become severely ill or died from the disease. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from Covid-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful Covid misinformation,” a Facebook spokesperson said. During a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Trump repeated his false claims about children and the disease.
Facebook, citing virus misinformation, deletes Trump post (AP)
This is the first time that Facebook has removed a post from Trump entirely, rather than labeling it, as it has done in the past. Several studies suggest, but don’t prove, that children are less likely to become infected than adults and more likely to have only mild symptoms. But this is not the same as being “virtually immune” to the virus. A CDC study involving 2,500 children published in April found that about 1 in 5 infected children were hospitalized versus 1 in 3 adults; three children died. The study lacks complete data on all the cases, but it also suggests that many infected children have no symptoms, which could allow them to spread the virus to others.
‘The kids will forget’: Custodians, housekeepers and other support staff brace for college reopenings (WaPo, Aug. 4, 2020)
[Penny] Elliott’s own mask was making it difficult for her to breathe as the late-morning sun began to bear down Friday, but the 37-year-old housekeeper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill refused to take it off. With three children to care for at home, getting sick was not an option, and neither was calling in sick. But with every corridor she cleaned as students filed past into their dorm rooms, Elliott couldn’t help but worry. No one kept their distance. No one was wearing a mask, despite a university mandate.

[...] At least one custodian at the University of Texas at Austin has died of the coronavirus, while custodians at the University of Missouri and a housekeeper at the University of Maryland at College Park have contracted the virus. [...] Thirty-seven people in Chapel Hill’s athletics department tested positive for the coronavirus last month, yet the housekeeping staff that cleaned their living quarters and locker rooms say they were not informed. Six housekeepers working throughout the Chapel Hill campus have tested positive for the virus, according to the UE 150 Workers Union at UNC, which is asking the university to provide more gloves, face shields and gowns.
posted by katra at 5:45 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


your attendance at school is of such paramount importance that you will be expelled for not showing up.
your school's attendance policy is of such paramount importance that you risk suspension if you criticize it.
posted by 20 year lurk at 5:46 PM on August 5 [17 favorites]


From katra's Buzzfeed link, emphasis mine: "James, a North Paulding senior, said he came to school Tuesday because his mother was unable to enroll him in virtual learning. He wore a mask, but many of his classmates did not. And while some classes practiced distancing, in one, a teacher had pushed together students’ desks to allow for group work." North Paulding High School is an hour's drive from the CDC's headquarters.

One Death Every 80 Seconds: The Grim New Toll of COVID-19 in America (NBC, Aug. 5, 2020) Over the last seven days, a grim new COVID-19 calculus has emerged: one person died every 80 seconds from the coronavirus in America. And the pace at which those 7,486 people died appears to be accelerating, a new NBC News tally revealed Wednesday.

California Virus Cases Underreported, Health Official Says (NBC San Diego, Aug. 4, 2020) Figures showing California has slowed the rate of coronavirus infections may be in doubt because a technical problem has delayed reporting of test results, the state's top health official said. For days, California hasn't received full counts on the number of tests conducted nor the number that come back positive for COVID-19, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday.

He blamed an unspecified technical problem affecting the state's database that provides test results to local health departments. Ghaly said it's unclear when the issue would be fixed, adding that the state is relaying information manually to county health officials.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:50 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


“Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” he said.

What he means is that there is no way of mandating it without MAGA-hatters in the community yelling at him. And that would make him sad.
posted by JackFlash at 5:58 PM on August 5 [12 favorites]


Facebook removes Trump post over false Covid-19 claim for first time

All this means is that Zuckerberg has finally come around to the tactical calculation that Trump might not win the election. He would never do this if he expected Trump to be the next president. It would be bad for business.
posted by JackFlash at 6:22 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


All of us at the county-level contact tracing program I am working with here in California are upset and terrified about the apparent glitch in reporting of new COVID cases through the state system. We had a slight, unexpected drop in cases in the past few days (relatively speaking), which at first sparked optimism but of course now is prompting the realization that there is going to be a deluge of new cases and their contacts to try to reach soon. And all of those cases will be getting to us even more delayed from the actual testing dates.

As they sing in "Hamilton,"
We are outgunned (What?)
Outmanned (What?)
Outnumbered
Outplanned
posted by PhineasGage at 6:28 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


Twitter bans Trump campaign from tweeting until it removes post containing virus misinformation (WaPo)
Facebook removed from Trump’s official account the post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he said that children are “almost immune” from covid-19. Twitter required his Team Trump campaign account to delete a tweet with the same video, blocking it from tweeting in the interim. The twin actions came three months before the elections in which Trump’s performance on coronavirus is a key issue, and the social media companies have made it clear in recent months that they will not tolerate misinformation on the global pandemic.
Rep. Rodney Davis diagnosed with Covid days after warning lawmakers about safety (Politico)
Davis has taken greater care than many of his Republican counterparts to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing rules. That, he said in a statement, is because his wife is a nurse and a cancer survivor, “which puts her in an at-risk category like so many Americans.” Davis said his office has “always followed and will continue to follow CDC guidelines, use social distancing, and wear masks or face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained.” [...] Last week, Davis spoke to Republicans about staying safe amid the coronavirus pandemic after Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, known for walking the halls of Congress without a mask, tested positive for Covid-19. Urging his colleagues to follow recommendations for staying safe, Davis told his fellow Republicans: "Don’t be stupid and become the news story of the day."
posted by katra at 6:51 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


Trump again claims Covid-19 will 'go away' as Fauci warns of long road ahead (Guardian)
Donald Trump on Wednesday repeated that he believes coronavirus will “go away”, despite his top public health expert warning that it could take most of 2021 or longer to get the pandemic under control and that it is “unlikely” the virus can ever be eradicated. [...] Trump has made numerous versions of this assertion over the more than six months that the US has been battling the outbreak, despite vast evidence otherwise and frequent contradictions from public health leaders.
Trump praises Arizona as 'model' for pandemic as cases, deaths remain high (Politico)
Arizona has a test positivity rate of about 18 percent — far higher than the 5 percent that the CDC says indicates sufficient testing and control of the virus. It’s an improvement, however, on the nearly 25 percent test positivity rate the state was reporting two weeks ago. The state’s ICU beds are also more than 80 percent full.
The U.S. has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world: ‘The numbers don’t lie,’ Dr. Fauci says (CNBC)
“Yeah, it is quantitatively if you look at it, it is. I mean the numbers don’t lie,” Fauci said when asked during an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta whether the U.S. had the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak. [...] The U.S., which accounts for less than 5% of the world population, leads all other countries in global coronavirus infections and deaths. The nation represents more than 22% of global coronavirus deaths and more than 25% of infections as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

[...] When the U.S. was hit with the coronavirus earlier this year, it didn’t respond in a coordinated effort, Fauci said. The nation was able to bring cases down to a plateau of 20,000 new infections per day, which Fauci said wasn’t an adequate “baseline” figure and allowed the virus to resurge in some states across the country as they reopened. [...] Fauci reiterated that the U.S. needs a unified response and that people of all ages, including young people, have to work to suppress coronavirus outbreaks across the country. “Any demographic group that’s not seriously trying to get to the endgame of suppressing this, it will continue to smolder and smolder and smolder,” he said.
posted by katra at 7:39 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


The coronavirus halted the RNC's plans for North Carolina and Florida; in yet another trial balloon, Trump said he may deliver convention speech from White House (CNN, Aug. 5, 2020) "Well we are thinking about it. It would be easiest from the standpoint of security," he said during an interview with "Fox and Friends." [...] Convention planners were considering the White House South Lawn for the acceptance speech, The Washington Post reported Tuesday night, citing a Republican familiar with the talks. Those involved with the convention also told the Post a decision has not been made on the location of the celebratory events that will be held during the convention. They also said the South Lawn and Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, were also under consideration for convention celebrations, the paper reported.

[Previously: Financial records related to President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel can be kept on hold, a federal appeals court said Thursday, while Trump asks the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a lawsuit that accuses him of illegally profiting off the presidency. The ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond means the records sought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia will likely not be released until after the November election. The two jurisdictions filed a lawsuit in 2017, alleging that Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel. (US News & World Report, July 9, 2020)]

Covid-19 rates are significantly higher among minority children and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, study finds (CNN, Aug. 5, 2020) The study of 1,000 patients tested at a Children's National Covid-19 testing site in Washington D.C. found that just 7.3% of White children tested positive for coronavirus, in contrast to 30% of Black children and 46.4% of Hispanic children. Three times as many Black children reported known exposure to the virus as White children, the researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics Wednesday. Dr. Monika Goyal of Children's National Hospital and colleagues used test data taken between March 21 and April 28.

Of 1,000 people tested, 207 were positive for coronavirus. About 9.7% of those in the highest income quartile were infected, while 37.7% in the lowest quartile tested positive, Goyal's team found. [...] Of the patients tested, about one third were Black and about a quarter were Hispanic. The team found that the inequities existed even after they adjusted for age, sex and median family income. Inequalities could be in part due to limited access to health care and resources, as well as bias and discrimination, but the researchers said that further research is needed to understand the cause. Goyal and colleagues note that these findings may underestimate the inequities in coronavirus rates, because a physician referral was needed for testing, and minority and lower socioeconomic populations have less access to primary care physicians.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:08 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


Facebook removes Trump post over false Covid-19 claim for first time

All this means is that Zuckerberg has finally come around to the tactical calculation that Trump might not win the election. He would never do this if he expected Trump to be the next president. It would be bad for business.


Tik Tok is a huge threat to Facebook, and I've been seeing Trump's attack on Tik Tok as a down payment to Zuckerberg for letting Trump and the far right run amok on Facebook during election season, but I don't think letting Microsoft buy it at a bargain price would make Zuck all that happy.

Maybe that utter bilge about "getting a cut" of the deal is meant to warn Microsoft and everybody else off and prevent any deal from going through, though — unless Facebook itself buys it, in which case 'the cut' scenario will evaporate as if it never existed.
posted by jamjam at 9:12 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Yep (2018 school policy pdf). Seems to entirely target female school kids.

No. It targets Black kids, too.


The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the richwhite as well as the poorblack to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal breadwear combs, rakes, curlers, or picks in the hair.

(There are some other rules that you can be sure are implemented in a very biased way, but that bit stood out.)
posted by bcd at 10:15 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


Party houses defying COVID-19 orders may have utilities shut off, mayor says, Los Angeles Times; Leila Miller, Richard Winton, Luke Money; 8/5/2020:
Following reports of large parties that violate health orders aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday that he will authorize the city to shut off water and power services to residents who hold such gatherings.

Beginning Friday night [8/7/2020], if Los Angeles Police Department officers respond to and verify that a large party is occurring at a property, and there’s evidence that the venue has repeatedly engaged in such behavior, the department will request that the city shut off water and power services within 48 hours....
Related: A wild party at Mulholland Drive mansion, a deadly shooting and fears of COVID-19 spread, Los Angeles Times, 8/3/2020.

Party like it’s 1999 COVID-19.
posted by cenoxo at 2:56 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


New York City will set up checkpoints to enforce quarantine for travelers, Politico, Erin Durkin, 8/05/2020:
New York City will set up checkpoints at entry points to the city to find travelers from states with high coronavirus infection rates and order them to quarantine for two weeks, officials said Wednesday. The new checkpoints at bridges and tunnels will stop cars and seek to enforce quarantine orders imposed by New York State, which require people coming from 34 states and Puerto Rico to self isolate for up to 14 days to avoid spreading Covid-19.

The city Sheriff’s Office will run the checkpoints and stop a random sampling of cars entering the city, reminding drivers of the quarantine order and requiring them to fill out a registration form if they’re coming from a high risk state. People caught violating the quarantine — which applies to both residents of the high-risk states and New Yorkers returning from visits — can be hit with fines up to $10,000....
The city’s Test & Trace Corps will also deploy to Penn Station on Thursday to stop travelers, remind them of the quarantine rules and make sure they fill out the traveler health form. The state has been focusing its enforcement efforts on airports.
posted by cenoxo at 3:46 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


All this means is that Zuckerberg has finally come around to the tactical calculation that Trump might not win the election.

Praise the Lord, hallelujah.
posted by Melismata at 6:23 AM on August 6


Previously: Financial records related to President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel can be kept on hold, a federal appeals court said Thursday, while Trump asks the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a lawsuit that accuses him of illegally profiting off the presidency.

Related to this previously - New York AG Letitia James indicated that she will be making a "Major National Announcement" today, August 6th, at 11:30 am EDT. This announcement comes shortly after Deutsche Bank complied with the NY AG office subpoena for Trump's financial records.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:43 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


New York AG Letitia James indicated that she will be making a "Major National Announcement" today, August 6th, at 11:30 am EDT. This announcement comes shortly after Deutsche Bank complied with the NY AG office subpoena for Trump's financial records.

Don't do this to my heart.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:44 AM on August 6 [9 favorites]


Live YouTube link for the NY AG announcement (currently just saying live in 64 minutes).
posted by Buntix at 6:56 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Don't do this to my heart.

I'm reserving judgement as well. Still - before she was New York AG, Tish James was my district's rep in NYC City Council, and she's pretty damn bad-ass, so I'm reserving judgement with a slightly more hopeful look on my face.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


i attended dekalb county schools, which is on the opposite side of metro atlanta, growing up.

there absolutely were teachers and administrators who would clamp down on spaghetti straps or other tops that bared shoulders, shorts and skirts being "too short" (which they'd measure with rulers, natch), pants that weren't worn around the waist, basketball jerseys...

they'd spend a half-day at the beginning of every year going through the student conduct handbook with special focus on that shit.

mandate masks you fucking cowards
posted by anem0ne at 8:23 AM on August 6 [17 favorites]


Live YouTube link yt for the NY AG announcement (currently just saying live in 64 minutes).

NY is filing a lawsuit against the NRA to dissolve the organization for self-dealing and violating laws for non-profit charities.

At last.
posted by Gelatin at 8:39 AM on August 6 [12 favorites]


[Folks this is a coronavirus-response-in-the-US thread, not a Trump's-other-crimes thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:41 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


Georgia district to begin year online amid staff virus cases (AP)
More than 90 staff members in one Georgia school district have been quarantined due to coronavirus exposure or infection, prompting the district to plan to begin the year entirely online. Barrow County Schools officials announced Wednesday that the district about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta would abandon plans to have both in-person classes and distance learning when the school year begins Aug. 17, and instead have all students attend classes virtually. [...] [Superintendent Dr. Chris ] McMichael said the district took “every precaution” and staff members were required to wear masks during preplanning before students returned to buildings. But dozens of employees were still infected or in quarantine due to a suspected case or direct contact with a confirmed case. [...] The district is the latest in Georgia to face complications as the new academic year begins. About 260 employees for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the state’s largest public school district, reported testing positive for the coronavirus or possibly being exposed to it ahead of the year’s start on Aug. 12, officials confirmed to news outlets this week.
Trump says, without evidence, vaccine could be ready by Election Day (NBC News)
President Donald Trump said Thursday that a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready before Election Day, contradicting the timeline that many health experts have said is realistic. [...] Experts say the development, testing and production of a vaccine for the public is still months away, and it would take a medical miracle for one to be available this year, much less before Election Day.
The summer of spread is here (Politico, Aug. 5, 2020)
“People are wanting to take their normal summer vacations. But how do you get the public to realize that this is the new normal?” said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “Some people aren’t ready to accept that yet.” Some blame the public’s increasingly risky behavior on the lack of a coherent public health messaging strategy in the [United States]. President Donald Trump only recently embraced face masks and has largely downplayed the seriousness of the virus while holding a campaign rally in a packed arena. “We're hearing a tremendous amount of mixed messages from the president on down,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director for the American Public Health Association. “You hear people saying, let’s get people back to school, and then they think well, if kids can go back to school, I guess I can go to the beach. ... We’ll be floundering all summer.”
posted by katra at 9:11 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]




The big, ugly disconnect hanging over Trump’s response to the crisis (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
Remember, the position of the White House and some Republicans has been that overly generous unemployment benefits might discourage the return to work. That dramatically plays down the scale and severity of both the economic and health crises: by blithely assuming jobs are still there for those tens of millions, and by suggesting a mere failure of will is holding them back from rejoining the economy. In fact, the economy cannot fully resume until the coronavirus is tamed. Meanwhile, Democrats want to spend far more on assistance to fiscally brutalized states. But Trump is claiming this would merely “bail out states that have been poorly managed by Democrats.” This entirely airbrushes away the massive role of the coronavirus crisis in such huge state shortfalls, which are rooted in unemployment and declining revenue, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities illustrates.

[...] You can see the deeper ideological impulses here on display in this new Wall Street Journal editorial. It urges Trump to reject Democrats’ demand for robust aid, similarly blaming “profligate Democratic-run states” for fiscal travails, claiming aid to them would encourage more lockdowns, and deriding aid to individuals as “income-transfer payments.” Here again the editorial barely acknowledges the role of the coronavirus in creating our current economic calamity (to the degree that the seriousness of the latter is acknowledged at all), allowing that people might not “feel safe to shop and travel,” but blithely suggesting all this will just somehow recede. And the editorial urges Trump to take “his own economic agenda” to voters, as if they won’t connect his disastrous handling of the virus to the ongoing economic catastrophe or even see that catastrophe as much of a problem. Trump has no agenda for the current disaster. The editorial assumes voters will just evaluate the vague plutocratic promise of more tax cuts and deregulation in an alternate universe where that disaster isn’t nearly as serious as it really is. [...] Jonathan Chait wrote recently that our domestic response to the coronavirus has been crippled mainly by “the pathology of the American right." Mired in hostility to science, empiricism, trial-and-error learning and collective problem-solving, the right simply refuses to grapple with large public problems as they really exist.
A growing side effect of the pandemic: Permanent job loss (Politico)
Economists argue the growing trend toward permanent job losses highlights a need for further federal spending to support laid-off workers, to keep consumer spending close to normal levels and to help small- and medium-size firms in particular weather the shutdowns.
The Latest: US deaths predicted at nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1 (AP)
A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1. The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.
posted by katra at 10:39 AM on August 6 [7 favorites]


“People are wanting to take their normal summer vacations. But how do you get the public to realize that this is the new normal?... Some people aren’t ready to accept that yet.” Some blame the public’s increasingly risky behavior on the lack of a coherent public health messaging strategy in the [United States]. President Donald Trump only recently embraced face masks and has largely downplayed the seriousness of the virus while holding a campaign rally in a packed arena. “We're hearing a tremendous amount of mixed messages from the president on down,...You hear people saying, let’s get people back to school, and then they think well, if kids can go back to school, I guess I can go to the beach. ... We’ll be floundering all summer.”

This is being far too generous on the US. Half the country hates Trump and if they pay any attention at all to his pronouncements, it's to do the opposite of them. Yet here in my blue state, everyone has decided entirely on their own that they can go to the beach, go to a summer house for a few weeks, go to the playgrounds, outdoor dining, backyard parties, etc. They wear masks and try to socialize outside, but otherwise they are granting themselves little exceptions every day in the name of normalcy. The Republicans are an extreme version of this, but it's a syndrome that seems prevalent across the political spectrum, and it's not because of Trump that so many liberals I know are letting their guard down.
posted by chortly at 10:56 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


The Republicans are an extreme version of this, but it's a syndrome that seems prevalent across the political spectrum, and it's not because of Trump that so many liberals I know are letting their guard down.

After a Backyard Dinner, Coronavirus Chaos Ensues (Reyhan Harmanci, NYT Opinion, Aug. 5, 2020)
It started with a text. Or perhaps it was the phone call. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say it really started the week before, when my husband mentioned that his cousin S., who lives far away, would be visiting the area and wanted to come over for dinner in our Hudson, N.Y., backyard, and I paused. “Don’t forget, my parents come next week,” I said. But by the time the day came for S.’s visit, the desire for normalcy had pushed past thoughts of safety, and she arrived wearing a mask. She spent the next couple of hours in our backyard eating takeout Thai and talking without a mask. Then she put it back on as she left. That was on a Wednesday. My parents pulled into town on the next Sunday. We got the text on the following Tuesday that S., who asked that only her first initial be used, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Unknown to us, she had taken a test two days before she ate in our backyard, and now, more than a week later, the results had come back. [...] It was left to us — the 17 people whom S. had come into direct contact with between the date of the test and the result, and the many more who had come in contact with us and then with others — to do it ourselves. That came to almost 70 people. [...] My own family is white and privileged; we have access to doctors and sick days and smartphones. [...] We have two babysitters, Alicia and Tami, who come into our house at different times during the day to watch our young children, and they both live with people who have compromised immune systems. Not only that, on Thursday, the day after we had seen S., a friend from Brooklyn had come up for lunch in our backyard. That evening, we had gone to a drive-in movie with two other friends, Antonia and Bradley. On Friday, the same couple had Alicia babysit for their 2-year-old. [...] My babysitter Alicia’s mother, who also has diabetes, works as an assistant for a close friend of ours in her 80s. That friend lives with a partner who is in her 60s. They are all now quarantining themselves, as are a smattering of other people with whom they have been in close contact. [...] Then our 8-month-old daughter came down with a fever and some diarrhea. [...] We should have clear protocols. We should have faster results from testing. We should have … something.

We could live in President Trump’s fantasy of out of sight, out of mind. If S. had not gotten tested, no one would be concerned. But because we have that one fact — that her initial test came back positive — I am left to try to comprehend the meaning behind another fact, that a week after we saw S., my baby has a fever and stomach trouble.
But how do you get the public to realize that this is the new normal?
posted by katra at 11:20 AM on August 6 [16 favorites]


Earlier in the pandemic, California Gov. Newsom focused one of his daily COVID-19 briefings on mental health after asking California's Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, to create a series of guides to help people manage stress during this time of crisis. This crisis is incredibly trying on all humans, regardless of their political leanings. In a rational world, support and guidance like this would be coming from our national leadership, as well.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:43 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


‘Worst nightmare’: Laid-off workers endure loss of $600 aid (AP)
An unemployed makeup artist with two toddlers and a disabled husband needs help with food and rent. A hotel manager says his unemployment has deepened his anxiety and kept him awake at night. A dental hygienist, pregnant with her third child, is struggling to afford diapers and formula. Around the country, across industries and occupations, millions of Americans thrown out of work because of the coronavirus are straining to afford the basics now that an extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits has expired. [...] “Members of Congress may have the luxury to come to an agreement this week and vote next week and then roll it out over several weeks,” said Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide. “Families don’t have that luxury — they are out of money tomorrow.”
For the unemployed, rising grocery prices strain budgets even more (WaPo, Aug. 4, 2020 / MSN reprint)
Long-standing supply chains for everyday grocery items have been upended as the pandemic sickened scores of workers, forced factory closures and punctured the carefully calibrated networks that brought food from farms to store shelves. Even while some of the sharpest price hikes have eased somewhat, the overall effects are being felt most acutely by the nearly 30 million Americans who saw their $600 enhanced unemployment benefit expire last Friday — exacerbating concerns that the recession’s long tail could worsen food insecurity for years to come.

[...] “Cutting back on food budgets is one of the first things people do,” said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “It’s a strategy for trying to cope with an economic shock, or persistently limited resources." More than 1 in 6 adults were food insecure in May, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. That gap had moderated slightly since earlier in the pandemic, in part due to the $600 employment benefit, Waxman said.
posted by katra at 11:53 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


“Don’t forget, my parents come next week,” I said.

Whaaaat? Why? Your parents are presumably olds...?

But by the time the day came for S.’s visit, the desire for normalcy had pushed past thoughts of safety,

Really? How do I get there? I can see how the desire to swim with the sharks or climb Everest and whateverall could push past thoughts of safety, but just the desire to backyard barbecue, huh? Wild.

and she arrived wearing a mask. She spent the next couple of hours in our backyard eating takeout Thai and talking without a mask.

She did? Was she a mile from you at the time? Aaaparently not! Also, how about your own carefree asses? Were you wearing masks?

Then she put it back on as she left.

what the hell for? What good was it doing you then? Why didn't she throw it in your faces while laughing like pick your Batman villain?

That was on a Wednesday. My parents pulled into town on the next Sunday.


Sweet, did they know you'd been hosting randos of unknown viral status in your back yard?

We got the text on the following Tuesday that S., who asked that only her first initial be used, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Unknown to us, she had taken a test two days before she ate in our backyard,

So she took a test for some reason. If that reason was something other than "employer mandated all employees be tested," like, if she voluntarily went and got a test for a REASON, then she should've been quarantining 'til the results came back. If you're seeking a test, that means you think you might have been exposed. If you might have been exposed, you do not go among other people. Period.

and now, more than a week later, the results had come back. [...] It was left to us — the 17 people whom S. had come into direct contact with between the date of the test and the result, and the many more who had come in contact with us and then with others — to do it ourselves.

To do WHAT your damn selves? Behave like growns? The time to do that was quite a while back.

[...] We have two babysitters, Alicia and Tami,

WHAT.
who come into our house
WHAAAAT?
at different times during the day to watch our young children, and they both live with people who have compromised immune systems.
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? You employ people IN YOUR HOUSE who live with immune compromised people and you know they do and nevertheless you're having unnecessary get-togethers in your backyard? Did you tell your babysitters what you were doing? Did you think of them and their families at all?

Not only that, on Thursday, the day after we had seen S., a friend from Brooklyn had come up for lunch in our backyard.
no.

That evening, we had gone to a drive-in movie with two other friends, Antonia and Bradley.

NO.

On Friday, the same couple had Alicia babysit for their 2-year-old.

NO. NO. NO.

[...] We should have clear protocols.
We should. We really should. But we should also be able to follow the superobvious not murky at all guideline of "Avoid unnecessary contact with people outside your COVID bubble; keep your COVID bubble small; remember, care about, and do not expose vulnerable people" like the elderly or sick relatives of people you employ or your own infant child omg.

We should have faster results from testing.
Yes! Then we could go eat Thai food with friends sooner! After a shorter period of waiting and going without fun recreation like eating Thai food with friends in order to prevent passing a deadly disease to other people! Does the fact that we have to wait more days mean that we are entitled to break quarantine before we get our test results? NO NO NO NO NO it does not you selfish nightmare people!

We should have … something.

You should have two common things that you lack: Sense. Decency.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:00 PM on August 6 [30 favorites]


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he’s tested positive for coronavirus

Once again, worth pointing out that the only reason DeWine was tested was because he was scheduled to meet Trump on the tarmac in Ohio and Trump demanded it. Just like the only reason Gohmert was tested was because he was supposed to travel with Trump on Air Force One and Trump demanded it.

Trump has everyone around him tested daily with results within minutes or hours. He denies that same benefit to the public. It's about making Trump safe, not anyone else.
posted by JackFlash at 12:29 PM on August 6 [15 favorites]


...You should have two common things that you lack: Sense. Decency

At the end of that NYT article:

"The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com."

Don Pepino, I hope you send a form of your comment to the NYT. You'd think by now that they'd start to be a little less tone deaf about the little people, but I guess not.
posted by Melismata at 12:33 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


I don't know how they thought their contact tracing was gonna go, if they were connected to so many people. Like, they could have thought about all of that before they had a possible exposure. "If I see this person and they test positive, what will contact tracing look like" is a pretty basic thing everyone should be thinking about! Come on!
posted by BungaDunga at 12:33 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


We got the text on the following Tuesday that S., who asked that only her first initial be used, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Unknown to us, she had taken a test two days before she ate in our backyard,

So she took a test for some reason. If that reason was something other than "employer mandated all employees be tested," like, if she voluntarily went and got a test for a REASON, then she should've been quarantining 'til the results came back. If you're seeking a test, that means you think you might have been exposed. If you might have been exposed, you do not go among other people. Period.


Yes, it's true, we as individuals have to self-quarantine until results come back.

But when many individuals are failing, it's time to look at the systemic problem behind the failures. Here, it's twofold: (1) lack of rapid testing. If we were testing at the rate and rapidity required, then she would have already had her test results before 2 days had passed, and never would have gone to the dinner. To me, this story is a great example of why we need more extensive and faster testing. (2) Lack of strong centralized messaging. It's not very useful to blame individual people for not hearing a message that isn't being said clearly.
posted by nat at 12:36 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


But when many individuals are failing, it's time to look at the systemic problem behind the failures.

Is This the Beginning of the End of American Racism? (Ibram X. Kendi, Atlantic, Sept. 2020)
We are living in the midst of an anti-racist revolution. [...] What’s more, by early June, roughly three out of four Americans were saying that “racial and ethnic discrimination” is a “big problem” in the United States—up from only about half of Americans in 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign. It would be easy to see these shifts as the direct result of the horrifying events that have unfolded in 2020: a pandemic that has had a disproportionate effect on people of color; the video of George Floyd dying beneath the knee of an impassive Minneapolis police officer; the ghastly killing of Breonna Taylor, shot to death in her own home.

Yet fundamental shifts in American views of race were already under way before the COVID-19 disparities became clear and before these latest examples of police violence surfaced. [...] The America that denied its racism through the Obama years has struggled to deny its racism through the Trump years. From 1977 to 2018, the General Social Survey asked whether Black Americans “have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people … mainly due to discrimination.” There are only two answers to this question. The racist answer is “no”—it presumes that racist discrimination no longer exists and that racial inequities are the result of something being wrong with Black people. The anti-racist answer is “yes”—it presumes that nothing is wrong or right, inferior or superior, about any racial group, so the explanation for racial disparities must be discrimination.

In 2008, as Obama was headed for the White House, only 34.5 percent of respondents answered “yes,” a number I’ll call the anti-racist rate. This was the second-lowest anti-racist rate of the 41-year polling period. [...] It has become harder, in the Trump years, to blame Black people for racial inequity and injustice. It has also become harder to tell Black people that the fault lies with them, and to urge them to improve their station by behaving in an upstanding or respectable manner. In the Trump years, the problem is obvious, and it isn’t Black people’s behavior. [...] And just as the 1850s paved the way for the revolution against slavery, Trump’s presidency has paved the way for a revolution against racism.
Do we suffer ‘behavioural fatigue’ for pandemic prevention measures? (Vaughn Bell, Midhacks, Mar. 20, 2020)
In past pandemics, people started to drop their life-saving behavioural changes as the risk seemed to become routine, even as the actual danger increased. This is not inevitable, because in some places, and in some outbreaks, people managed to stick with them. We can be like the folks who stuck with these strange new rituals, who didn’t let their guard down, and who saved the lives of countless people they never met.
posted by katra at 1:49 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


It would be interesting to find out who Trump has doing all the advance work testing people Trump plans to be in contact with. Are they White House staffers or does he make the Secret Service do it?
posted by JackFlash at 2:04 PM on August 6


Both, and neither? As Trump downplays Covid-19 testing, White House begins requiring it (Politico, August 3, 2020) It was not immediately clear whether there would be consequences for aides who decline to be tested for the virus or fail to show up when summoned to the White House Medical Unit.
--
Since the days of our first president, the Office of the Physician to the President has served to preserve the health and fitness of our Nation's Chief Executive. Today, this tradition continues in the challenging environment of leadership in a global community. To meet the challenge, the White House Medical Unit (WHMU) provides worldwide emergency action response and comprehensive medical care to the President, the Vice President, and their families. The WHMU ensures the continuity of the Office of the Presidency through seamless integration with the U.S. Secret Service and White House Military Office elements. (White House Military Unit --> White House Medical Unit, GWB's WhiteHouse.gov archives)
--
[Previously: Several White House medical unit staffers describe pressure to hand out meds (CNN, April 27, 2018); Sean Conley: the doctor who agreed to Trump taking hydroxychloroquine (The Guardian, May 19, 2020) The medical unit at the White House is typically staffed by doctors drawn from the US military and Conley found himself in line to become the president’s own physician after the departure of Ronny Jackson, who had previously raised eyebrows by praising Trump’s “good genes” and for saying that if the president had had “a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old”.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:16 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


We should have clear protocols.
We should. We really should. But we should also be able to follow the superobvious not murky at all guideline of "Avoid unnecessary contact with people outside your COVID bubble; keep your COVID bubble small; remember, care about, and do not expose vulnerable people" like the elderly or sick relatives of people you employ or your own infant child omg.


The only people I am willing to be in a bubble with are people who realize that a bubble doesn't work with people you are not living with.
posted by srboisvert at 4:20 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Don Pepino, somebody on fb with whom I have no known MeFi connection just linked your excellent comment.
posted by theora55 at 4:22 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]


[California] State spent millions on arena hospital that saw 9 patients (AP, August 6, 2020) Doctors arrived at an arena-turned-medical center in Sacramento in mid-April and were told to prepare for 30 to 60 coronavirus patients to arrive within days. They spent the weekend working feverishly to get ready. State officials envisioned the cavernous Sleep Train Arena and an adjoining facility as a place where hundreds of patients could be treated, but in the first week just one arrived. The pace never increased, and the 250 assembled medical workers — physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative staff — found themselves wondering what to do. [...]

Ultimately, just nine patients arrived over 10 weeks. The cost to care for them was a staggering $12 million. The Sacramento site was one of 15 temporary medical facilities set up around California in anticipation of a surge of cases that never materialized. It shut down on July 1, as did most others.


The AP breaks down costs (including arena rental fees, facility improvements, pharmacy services, staffing with "housing, benefits and per diem allowances") and has this priceless line: At one point, doctors brainstormed on whether they could be doing some type of public outreach to let people know the facility existed. Two weeks before the facility began receiving patients (or, rather, that one patient), Gov. Newsom held a press conference on-site on April 6.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:38 PM on August 6




Ultimately, just nine patients arrived over 10 weeks. The cost to care for them was a staggering $12 million.

Staggering? It's a drop in the bucket. Congress has already spent $3 trillion on this pandemic which is enough to fund 250,000 of those temporary hospitals. That's exactly the kind of emergency preparedness you expect from a functioning government.

Epidemiologists always say that if they do everything exactly right so that people don't die, it means that people will say their work was unnecessary.
posted by JackFlash at 5:13 PM on August 6 [27 favorites]


Alameda County Offering $1,250 Stipend To Help COVID-19 Patients During Quarantine (CBS 5, Aug. 5, 2020)
Alameda County has launched a new program to help patients stay home once they’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus. County officials hope to slow the spread of COVID-19 by helping families that face a sudden financial crisis when a test comes back positive. “So literally every single person that we have spoken to through our contract tracing program, they have all asked for either food, help with rent, or access to be enrolled in healthcare,” says Andrea Schwab-Galindo, CEO of Hayward’s Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center. Schwab-Galindo has watched the pandemic land squarely on her community of working class neighborhoods, primarily people of color.

“Most people that test positive are usually the members that are out there working and able to do that,” Schwab-Galindo says. “You know, they are construction workers, they are grocery workers, so they are more exposed compared to some of the other family members they are trying to support, including their children.” That is exactly who Alameda County plans to help with a $1,250 stipend program for people who have to self-isolate after a positive test. The stipend is for those who do not receive unemployment benefits or sick leave, and requires a referral from one of five approved clinics.
Healthcare workers of color nearly twice as likely to contract Covid-19 – study (Guardian)
Healthcare workers of color were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, more likely to report inadequate or reused protective gear and nearly twice as likely as white colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School. [...] The study was based on data from more than 2m Covid Symptom Study app users in the US and the UK from 24 March through 23 April. The study, done with researchers from King’s College London, was published in the Lancet.

[...] The study’s findings follow other research showing that minority healthcare workers are likely to care for minority patients in their own communities, often in facilities with fewer resources, said Dr Utibe Essien, a physician and core investigator for the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Those workers may also see a higher share of sick patients, as federal data shows minority patients were disproportionately testing positive and being hospitalized with the virus, said Essien, an assistant professor of medicine with the University of Pittsburgh. [...] Healthcare workers of color also reported inadequate or reused PPE at a rate 50% higher than what white workers reported. For Latinx people, the rate was double that of white workers.
posted by katra at 5:26 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Mind you, the connection will be made.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 PM on August 6


Rumor has it that the students who posted the Paulding, Georgia school hallways photos have been suspended...
posted by Windopaene at 6:35 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


Alameda County has launched a new program to help patients stay home once they’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus.

That's better than nothing but not good enough. You don't want to quarantine patients in their own homes. That is exactly where most of the transmissions occur to other family members.

What South Korea did was take over private facilities and use them as quarantine centers. There are thousands of hotel rooms in California going vacant right now where out-patients could be quarantined and isolated from healthy family members. That's one of the reasons South Korea has had a total of 300 deaths and the U.S. has had 500 times as many. You don't send infected people back to their homes. That's just crazy.
posted by JackFlash at 6:41 PM on August 6 [9 favorites]


Rumor has it that the students who posted the Paulding, Georgia school hallways photos have been suspended...

If I was being made to go to an unsafe place like that, that sounds like a great way to get out of it (without the expulsion they were threatened with for not showing up).
posted by Marticus at 6:43 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


Given the posts upthread about masking versus other school dress code rules and such...

Missing the point.
posted by Windopaene at 6:47 PM on August 6


Virus keeps spreading as schools begin to open, frightening parents and alarming public health officials (WaPo / reprint)
Mississippi, now experiencing the country’s highest rate of positive tests, is emblematic of the pandemic’s new reality. The virus is no longer principally an urban problem: It is present throughout every state, and those infected often don’t know it, leading to what top public health officials call “inherent community spread.” [...] The situation in Mississippi is unfolding as well in other largely rural parts of the country, including in Alabama and California’s Central Valley, places where so much viral material is circulating that when people get infected, many are unsure when or how it happened — so the outbreaks cannot be easily traced and contained. [...] “My fear is if we don’t see some decline in hospital caseloads, we’re going to be really, really challenged when we’re faced with increased caseloads due to schools reopening,” said Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “I hope I’m wrong but I don’t know of any biological reason I’ll be wrong.”

[...] Tim Moore, president of the Mississippi Hospital Association, has urged caution, citing the ICU predicament. More than half the state’s ICU beds are filled with covid-19 patients, and only about a quarter of the state’s total ICU beds are available, he said. [...] “I’m not quite as optimistic right now as maybe the governor is,” he said in an interview. “It’s a bad move to open up all these schools right now. Have you ever tried to socially isolate a second-grader? It’s like trying to keep frogs in a wheelbarrow.”
DeSantis says Florida’s unemployment system was built to frustrate jobless people (WaPo live blog)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged this week that the state’s troubled unemployment system appeared intentionally designed to frustrate jobless people, making it more difficult for financially vulnerable Americans to seek government assistance during the covid-19 pandemic. In an interview Tuesday with CBS4 Miami, DeSantis (R) said: “I think the goal was, for whoever designed, it was, ‘Let’s put as many kind of pointless roadblocks along the way, so people just say, oh, the hell with it, I’m not going to do that.’” [...] More than 32 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that 1.19 million people filed new jobless claims last week, the 20th consecutive week of more than 1 million claims.
posted by katra at 6:50 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


morbidity and mortality weekly report: SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Infection Among Attendees of an Overnight Camp — Georgia, June 2020
A total of 597 Georgia residents attended camp A. Median camper age was 12 years (range = 6–19 years).... The median age of staff members and trainees was 17 years (range = 14–59 years).... Test results were available for 344 (58%) attendees; among these, 260 (76%) were positive. The overall attack rate was 44% (260 of 597), 51% among those aged 6–10 years, 44% among those aged 11–17 years, and 33% among those aged 18–21 years (Table). Attack rates increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp, with staff members having the highest attack rate (56%). ... Among 136 cases with available symptom data, 36 (26%) patients reported no symptoms; among 100 (74%) who reported symptoms, those most commonly reported were subjective or documented fever (65%), headache (61%), and sore throat (46%). (emphasis added)
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:29 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


Rumor has it that the students who posted the Paulding, Georgia school hallways photos have been suspended

It’s hard to imagine a dumber strategy than telling high school students that they had better shut up about adult incompetence, or else. It's practically daring them to up the ante, and I myself would bet folding money that kids that age will rise to the challenge.
posted by holborne at 7:46 PM on August 6 [16 favorites]


School Discipline for Off-Campus Speech and the First Amendment (Daniel J. Solove, HuffPost, Jun. 20, 2011)
John Marshall Harlan Research Professor, George Washington University Law School
The Internet is making the line between off-campus and on-campus speech is increasingly more blurry. But a line is important to maintain, or else a school’s power to regulate student speech would extend way too far beyond the schoolhouse gate. The substantial disruption standard is a meaningful compromise, where school officials must make a compelling demonstration how off-campus speech interferes with life on campus. School officials do not have to wait for an actual disruption if one is reasonably predictable. But the lesson drawn from these cases is that schools must document a really compelling case, one that is not based on speculation or very loose linkages between the speech and on-campus activities. Real disruption, beyond occasional chatter and beyond the ridicule of school officials is required. The area where there is the most difference involves crude and vulgar speech. On-campus, school officials have a wide latitude to regulate it. Off-campus, there is little latitude to regulate it. Vulgarity and mocking speech alone — especially about school employees — will rarely cause a substantial disruption without other factors present.
Your 1st Amendment Rights (Judicial Learning Center)
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969

Three public school students wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. They were suspended from school for refusing to remove them. John Tinker and Christopher Eckhardt were high school students, and Mary Beth Tinker was in 8th grade at the junior high. Upon hearing about their plan to wear the armbands, the school district created a policy forbidding armbands. The three students wore the armbands anyway, and they were suspended from school. They sued the district for violating their 1st Amendment rights. [...]

The school did violate the students’ rights. Non-disruptive, passive, symbolic speech cannot be censored just because it makes others uncomfortable. The symbolic wearing of armbands could not be shown to interfere with school discipline. The Supreme Court established the "Tinker Test", the standard that public schools must meet before legally restricting free speech or expression of students. The free expression of public school students can only be restricted if it threatens a material and substantial disruption of the educational process, or invades the rights of others.
Free Speech Lawsuits Involving Public Schools (Findlaw, Dec. 1, 2017)
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

[...] In writing in favor of the students for the majority, Justice Abe Fortas wrote these iconic words: "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate … School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are 'persons' under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect … In the absence of specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views."
posted by katra at 8:17 PM on August 6 [9 favorites]


In the previous COVID-19 thread, lauranesson suggested buying airtime on rural radio stations to thank people for wearing masks. The hope is that positive reinforcement might move non mask wearers who are merely lazy, not entrenched right wing fanatics.

Reader, I'm doing it. My rural radio station--the one everyone listens to for local gossip-- offered me 50 30-second spots per week from now through November 3rd for a little less than $3k. MeMail me if you have ideas about how to make the content effective.
posted by carmicha at 11:01 PM on August 6 [45 favorites]


carmicha: for what it's worth I've had success even with science deniers with this strategy: Look. I'm not a scientist. You're not a scientist. You can find a study that says whatever you want it to say. But here's the thing. Countries that have done masks are doing better than ones that don't. States that do are doing better than ones that don't. Our own county has rising cases, while within our gates where masks are mandatory, none. All of ours have come from outside, and then not spread to anyone else.

I can't prove it to you with science, but use your eyes. Something about masks works. People who wear them get covid less. People wearing masks are not keeling over from lack of oxygen or whatever the fuck. Please just press the "i believe" button on this one.
posted by ctmf at 12:22 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


Inviting people to "show that we care while we find out what works" will probably incur less pushback than suggesting that they should actually believe something.
posted by flabdablet at 5:47 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


A visitor once came to the home of Nobel Prize–winning physicist Niels Bohr and, having noticed a horseshoe hung above the entrance, asked incredulously if the professor believed horseshoes brought good luck. “No,” Bohr replied, “but I am told that it works even if do not believe in them.”
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:57 AM on August 7 [14 favorites]




Anti-maskers explain themselves (Vox)
Currently, 34 states have mask mandates, and polls show a hefty majority of Americans would support a national mask mandate, as well.

For those who disagree, that’s partially where the problem resides: They insist they’re not anti-mask, they’re anti-mandate. “If you want to wear a mask, great. I will never look down on you, have anything bad to say to you, do what you want. But the mandates are what I disagree with and I don’t think are right, especially now,” Gina said.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:22 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


“If you want to drive on the right side of the road, great. I will never look down on you, have anything bad to say to you, do what you want. But the mandates are what I disagree with and I don’t think are right, especially now,” Gina didn't say, because she knew how stupid it'd sound.
posted by Gelatin at 7:36 AM on August 7 [21 favorites]


To be fair, there's no scientific proof that driving on the left causes car accidents. Australians do it all the time and our accident rate is lower than the US's.
posted by flabdablet at 7:42 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


If mask-wearing is about rights then anti-maskers simply need to stay away from public places because without a mask they are encroaching on everyone's rights to avoid spread. There is no evidence that mask-wearing is detrimental to health in general (exceptions/asthma etc). However, there is substantial evidence that without them others will be infected.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:47 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


To be fair, there's no scientific proof that driving on the left causes car accidents. Australians do it all the time and our accident rate is lower than the US's.

Until some idiot comes along driving on the right.
posted by Gelatin at 7:50 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


It's not about rights. It's about pissing off the libs. It literally always is.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:51 AM on August 7 [15 favorites]


Especially now, Gina? So it would be more acceptable if we weren't in the middle of a pandemic?
posted by amarynth at 7:55 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


A pandemic is not the right time for mask mandates. A mass shooting is not the right time to talk about gun control. The third "100-year" storm in a decade is not the right time to talk about climate change.

That's the problem with progressives, you know? We just have terrible timing.
posted by saturday_morning at 8:05 AM on August 7 [44 favorites]


Now is not the right time to bring that up, though.
posted by flabdablet at 8:45 AM on August 7 [24 favorites]


Judge dismisses Republican lawsuit seeking to block proxy voting (Politico)
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy's lawsuit seeking to overturn the House's adoption of proxy voting — a measure embraced by Democrats to permit members to cast votes from their district to avoid traveling during the coronavirus crisis. Washington, D.C., federal district court Judge Rudolph Contreras determined that McCarthy's suit was out of bounds because courts have no ability to review purely legislative functions, affirming the sweeping power of the House to set its own rules and processes without other branches of government getting involved.
Judge dismisses lawsuit to invalidate proxy voting in the House (CBS News)
"The Court can conceive of few other actions, besides actually debating, speaking, or voting, that could more accurately be described as 'legislative' than the regulation of how votes may be cast," Contreras wrote in his opinion Thursday evening. He also noted that none of the rules in question deprive members of their votes, but merely change the way votes may be cast. [...] In a statement after the ruling, Pelosi said the dismissal of the lawsuit was "welcome news and hopefully the end of this sad Republican effort to obstruct the House from meeting the needs of the American people during the coronavirus crisis."
posted by katra at 10:09 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


If I was being made to go to an unsafe place like that, that sounds like a great way to get out of it (without the expulsion they were threatened with for not showing up).

It would be a pretty good college admission essay topic to boot!
posted by srboisvert at 10:14 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


The student from North Paulding that was suspended has been unsuspended. Her record will be cleared of the incident.

The superintendent of the district stated "Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them”.

Which is interesting, because Paulding sure has a lot of dress code restrictions already in place.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:20 AM on August 7 [18 favorites]


It's a shame Herman Cain didn't live to see this:

Daily Beast: ‘Screw COVID’: 250,000 Bikers to Defy Common Sense for Nine Days at Sturgis Rally

They don't have to wear masks OR helmets, the latter of which seems more justifiable because smashing your head on the pavement doesn't spread to other people exponentially
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:08 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


You should have two common things that you lack: Sense. Decency.

Oh boy. Do I have FEELINGS about this.

These people are practically my neighbors, (or, actually, no they're not—they're from BROOKLYN and this is their "COUNTRY" HOUSE), and I am FUHUUUURIOUS.

Like! Like, I've been essential worker-ing since the start, getting up at 2 am, driving our farm's produce down to a Brooklyn farmers' market, practically traumatizing myself dealing with terrified, grieving customers, frantically trying to source scarce PPE every week—

And their privileged asses are shitting up my FULL-TIME, chosen home?? They're not even humble about the privilege of being able to flee the City. No, they sped right past that, thinking it's their right as property owners to just swan about, and invite MORE PEOPLE FROM OUT OF STATE to also shit up our towns? Like, christ, just because you own a house somewhere doesn't mean you BELONG. You're still a guest, dude.

AND. And and. Saying that she had to do her own tracing legwork is practically an insult to my county. We were one of the first counties in the state to get our tracer threshold on lock. By comparison, our county is doing GREAT (knock wood). And as far as testing, why the hell would she even think go to the City?? There's a hospital that does free testing RIGHT THERE in Hudson. Like a 5 minute WALK from literally wherever in town her house is.

YEAH. I agree—the US approach is abysmal. No shit, NEWS AT 11. But that means they're above the common prevention stuff we DO know works? I guess??

Heh. Tempted to save up all of the icky tomatoes from our garden, find her, and just PELT AWAY. (I won't but the thought's making me feel better.)

Thank you. Fin.
posted by functionequalsform at 12:43 PM on August 7 [19 favorites]


METAFILTER: (I won't but the thought's making me feel better.)
posted by philip-random at 1:52 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]


The White House Paid Up to $500 Million Too Much for These Ventilators, Congressional Investigators Say (ProPublica, August 7, 2020) Citing “evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse,” a congressional subcommittee investigating the federal government’s purchase of $646.7 million worth of Philips ventilators has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to launch its own investigation of the deal.

The House subcommittee launched its review after ProPublica stories in March and April showed how a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Philips N.V. received millions in federal tax dollars years ago to develop a low-cost ventilator for pandemics but didn’t deliver it. Instead, as the coronavirus began spreading around the globe and U.S. hospitals were desperate for more, Philips was selling commercial versions of the government-funded ventilator overseas from its Pennsylvania factory. Then in April, despite having not fulfilled the initial contract, the Dutch company struck a much more lucrative deal to sell the government 43,000 ventilators for four times the price.

Under this new deal, ventilators that the Obama administration had agreed to buy for $3,280 each suddenly cost $15,000. When the deal was announced in April, neither HHS nor Philips would say how the more expensive ventilators differed from the cheaper ones. It turns out that they were “functionally identical,” according to investigators with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, and the “waste of taxpayer funds” may have reached $500 million. The investigators reviewed thousands of pages of emails and other records obtained from Philips and concluded that “inept contract management and incompetent negotiating by the Trump Administration denied the country the ventilators it needed.”


The subcommittee's report ("The Trump Administration’s Failures in Contract Management and Inept Negotiation by Senior White House Officials Denied Americans Ventilators During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Squandered Up to $504 Million in Taxpayer Funds," July 31, oversight.house.gov) named Peter Navarro (Trump's director of trade & manufacturing policy) as the main incompetent manager/negotiator, with useless assists from Jared Kushner and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:01 PM on August 7 [8 favorites]


I wonder if there were any kickbacks that went to anybody from that $500 million.
posted by droplet at 2:11 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Daily Beast: ‘Screw COVID’: 250,000 Bikers to Defy Common Sense for Nine Days at Sturgis Rally

I'd never heard of the rally before, but it has webcams. The crowds aren't very large at the moment (although some of the shots have *a lot* of parked bikes so I assume everyone's in bars and that this being only day 1 most people will arrive on the weekends.) Best I can tell on the webcams (hard given distance), yeah not seeing a lot of obvious mask wearing..including on the group of police officers stationed on the corner standing around talking to each other....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:33 PM on August 7


Low mask wearing on those webcams. But, they are badass, rugged individualist, bikers, so I'm sure they will be fine...

Ugh
posted by Windopaene at 3:09 PM on August 7


Coronavirus relief favors white households, leaving many people of color at risk of being evicted (Politico)
Federal housing aid during the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately benefits white households over minorities, with Black households most at risk, a POLITICO analysis has found. The federal assistance favors homeowners over renters, and because white households are more likely to own homes — a long-standing trend with roots in racist housing policy — they have more access to aid. Black households are more likely to rent than any other group, so they will be hardest hit with evictions likely to proceed in states without moratoriums, including Texas and Georgia. Added to this are a number of complications, including the difficulty of carrying out eviction proceedings in-person in courtrooms and the public health implications of higher evictions in the southeast as the summer heat and hurricane season loom. “If [a hurricane] gets piled on top of what we’re dealing with this year, it’s going to be bad,” said Cindy Kelley, executive director for the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless, based in Savannah, Ga.
US reports show racial disparities in kids with COVID-19 (AP)
Racial disparities in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic extend to children, according to two sobering government reports released Friday. One of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports looked at children with COVID-19 who needed hospitalization. Hispanic children were hospitalized at a rate eight times higher than white kids, and Black children were hospitalized at a rate five times higher, it found. The second report examined cases of a rare virus-associated syndrome in kids. It found that nearly three-quarters of the children with the syndrome were either Hispanic or Black, well above their representation in the general population. The coronavirus has exposed racial fractures in the U.S. health care system, as Black, Hispanic and Native Americans have been hospitalized and killed by COVID-19 at far higher rates than other groups. [...] Experts say genetics has nothing to do with why some racial and ethnic groups are more likely to be infected by the virus, get seriously sick from it or die from it.
Facebook removes troll farm posing as African-American support for Donald Trump (NBC News, Aug. 6, 2020)
Facebook removed hundreds of accounts on Thursday from a foreign troll farm posing as African-Americans in support of Donald Trump and QAnon supporters. It also removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times that pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about coronavirus and protests in the U.S.
posted by katra at 3:16 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


WBZ: Baker Reduces Massachusetts Outdoor Gathering Limit To 50; ‘People Are Simply Not Being Responsible’

He also authorized state and local police to start fining people who violate the regulations - including bars that put out some pretzels to let them qualify as "restaurants, which, unlike bars, are allowed to re-open (unlike in other states, we don't have to worry about sheriffs, who, while elected, pretty much only run jails). Also, he's a Republican, although he would probably not be recognized as such west of the Berkshires.
posted by adamg at 3:58 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I was just looking at the MA travel restrictions. The restricted states are those with more a daily new case rate of more than 6 per 100,000, or more than 5% test positivity rates, based on covidexitstrategy.org. Right now the daily case rate in MA is 5.7 per 100,000 and rising. What are you going to do in a week, Mr. Responsible Republican Governor?
posted by chortly at 4:20 PM on August 7


Virus ‘Checkpoints’ in N.Y.C. to Enforce Travel Rules? Well, Not Exactly (NYT, Aug 5, 2020, updated Aug. 7, 2020)
Ted Long, the executive director of the city’s testing and contact-tracing program, said New York was moved to act after recent data suggested a fifth of the city’s new coronavirus cases were attributed to travelers entering New York City from other states.
Bikers pour into South Dakota for rally expected to draw 250,000, stoking virus fears (WaPo / Chron reprint, Aug. 6, 2020)
Backing up local leaders’ decision is the governor, who has been disdainful of coronavirus restrictions throughout the pandemic. [...] “We hope people come,” Noem said of the motorcycle rally. “Our economy benefits when people come and visit us.”
Trump continues to flout social distancing guidelines even as he urges others to follow them (WaPo / MSN reprint)
Even the White House’s testing regime has had lapses. During his trip to the Tampa area last week, Trump presided over a coronavirus and storm preparation roundtable with federal and local officials at a private golf club where he was later set to hold a campaign fundraiser. [...] Among those in the confined space, according to people familiar with the event, was a local, three-member ABC News television crew that had been admitted by the White House to join Trump’s traveling press pool — which included a Washington Post reporter — despite not having been tested for the virus. [...] During the return flight to Washington, Trump entered the press cabin to speak with reporters. Two days later, a journalist who was on the plane tested positive for the virus, though it is unclear how and when the person contracted it. That evening, the White House informed several journalists that they should enter self-quarantine out of precaution and would be barred from the White House grounds for two weeks.
posted by katra at 4:21 PM on August 7


I just read the subcommittee report linked above on the fleecing Philips pulled on the federal government in the sale of ventilators. It is utterly devastating. The complete incompetence on display in handling that contract by the administration, both in the first three years of Trump's administration, and when the pandemic finally hit, is staggering.

This is about more than just wasted tax dollars. They sat on their ass for three years and could have had 10,000 ventilators in hand by the original contractually obligated delivery date of November 2019.

People died because the administration is full of toadies who can't hold down real jobs, including, oh lookie here:
Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President, participated in a telephone call with Philips’ CEO on March 18, and at least two other telephone calls with Philips on March 30 and April 1;
posted by Room 101 at 4:43 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Early in the outbreak, health experts stressed that older adults were most at risk, but new data from the World Health Organization shows that most cases -- by far -- are among people 25 to 64 years old. The proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up six-fold, and in very young children and babies the proportion has increased seven-fold, WHO said.

The increase might be explained by broader testing, greater detection of milder cases and shifting demographics of hot spots, but "a rise in risky behavior after easing of public health and social measures" is also to blame, WHO said. But testing is actually down in 29 states, with "no perfect test available to us" and too many false negatives, said Anne Rimoin, a professor at UCLA's Department of Epidemiology on Friday. "Testing needs to be expanding, not contracting. And we really need to keep an eye on positivity rates."
(CNN, August 7, 2020)

Recent developments, per WaPo's Live Update page:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Friday that schools in the state can open for in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year if community covid-19 infection rates are low — but it is up to the more than 700 districts to decide when and how they will begin. New York, once the nation’s epicenter of the covid-19 pandemic, now has one of the lowest novel coronavirus infection rates of any state — about 1 percent.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced late Thursday that he had tested negative for the virus, hours after a positive result from a different test prevented him from meeting with President Trump. The initial positive came from an antigen test, which is faster but thought to be less reliable than a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, the method that delivered the negative result.

Researchers warned that the U.S. death toll could climb to nearly 300,000 by December — nearly double the current tally. But if 95 percent of people nationwide wear masks in public, approximately 66,000 U.S. lives could be saved, they said.
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posted by Iris Gambol at 4:52 PM on August 7


Chronic fatigue syndrome a possible long-term effect of Covid-19, experts say (CNN, August 7, 2020) A chronic disease, [Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] ME/CFS can last for decades. It often takes root following some form of viral infection, for instance Epstein-Barr virus or Ross River virus. The novel coronavirus is just one more virus that can potentially trigger the onset of this debilitating condition.

"Even after you clear the virus, there are post-viral symptoms. I know, because I follow on the phone a lot of people who call me up and talk about their course," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a July 17 interview with Medscape. "It's extraordinary how many people have a postviral syndrome that's very strikingly similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome."

Article links to a CDC info page with a list of common symptoms, the IOM [Institute of Medicine, now the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)] 2015 Diagnostic Criteria for ME/CFS, and key facts as of February 2015 (ME/CFS affects 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans; [a]n estimated 84 to 91 percent of people with ME/CFS have not yet been diagnosed, meaning the true prevalence of ME/CFS is unknown).
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:12 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Health officials ramp up effort to convince public that vaccine decisions will be based on science, not politics (WaPo / MSN reprint)
But Trump immediately undercut them by hinting a coronavirus vaccine might be available ‘right around’ Election Day.
Top Food and Drug Administration officials, in published articles and interviews, said they would approve a vaccine only after rigorous review and would consult an outside advisory committee — something that lawmakers and nongovernment scientists have been clamoring for. Agency officials insisted decisions will be based “solely on good science and data.” [...] As officials race to stop the pandemic, they are increasingly worried that public skepticism could spur a substantial number of people to reject a vaccine, undermining the nation’s ability to return to some semblance of normal life. To try to counter those concerns, lawmakers and health experts are demanding the FDA adhere to stringent standards and be as open as possible in considering any vaccine. [...] Steven Joffe, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that what is important now is what the FDA does, not what it says. “Specifically, I think transparency about the data and about the process for decision-making are going to be critical for public and professional/scientific confidence in the vaccine,” he said.
Covid-19: lack of diversity threatens to undermine vaccine trials, experts warn (Guardian)
Both of these vaccine projects are moving onto larger, more advanced phases, with Moderna enrolling 30,000 volunteers for its latest stage and Oxford holding a phase three trial in India. But the lack of diversity in the early trials risks blind spots in developing a vaccine for a condition that has disproportionately hospitalized and killed people of color in the UK and US, according to Oluwadamilola Fayanju, a surgeon and researcher at Duke University. “It’s disappointing because … they are countries where there are known huge disparities along racial lines,” she said. “Diversity is important to ensure pockets of people don’t have adverse side-effects. People of color disproportionately have co-morbidities such as hypertension and diabetes and you need to know how these things interact with any vaccine. “I recognize getting this vaccine is an urgent priority and we all want it quickly but we can’t cut corners because something may be missed. They are causing more difficulties for themselves by not including diversity from the beginning.”

[...] Marjorie Speers, executive director of Clinical Research Pathways, a charity that promotes ethical research, said it is “essential” that vaccine trials involve sufficient numbers of black and Latino people to help curb a disease that has surged through minority communities. [...] “Right across the board there are inequalities in who is getting support in this pandemic,” said Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician and child and community health advocate. “Health insurance tiers people, which racially stratifies the care, while the allocation of resources is deeply rooted in racial disparities. Right now, we are making decisions based on legacies of racism.”
posted by katra at 5:34 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Right now the daily case rate in MA is 5.7 per 100,000 and rising.


Where are you seeing this? The state itself reported a positivity rate of 1.9% today. The governor's announcement, though, was keyed to some highly publicized incidents and the past week's worth of results, which showed numbers of between 2.1% and 2.2%, which was an increase over the rates a month ago.
posted by adamg at 6:18 PM on August 7


I was talking about daily new cases, not the test positivity rate. Unless I'm misreading it, according to covitexitstrategy.org, the authority cited in the MA travel documents, the "New Cases per Million per Day" in MA is currently 57, or 5.7 per 100,000.

(And re the "publicized incidents," I've expressed skepticism here before about Baker or other governors blaming external visitors or specific events for case rises; there are likely tens of thousands of infected people in MA at any given moment, of which a pretty small percentage is due to visitors or famous superspreader events. The gradual rise in many blue states (let alone red states) is likely due to overall social distancing diminishing, more than visitors or a few bad actors or regions.)
posted by chortly at 6:28 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Dozens of Bedminster club members gather in ballroom for Trump news conference (WaPo live blog)
Dozens of members of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a ballroom there Friday before a news conference from President Trump, according to a pool report and photos on social media. [...] After reporters posted on Twitter about the crowd, White House staff members distributed masks and asked the club members to spread out. [...] Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa asked the president about the club members’ presence in the ballroom. “You said that the pandemic is disappearing, but we lost 6,000 Americans this week,” Olorunnipa said. “And just in this room, you have dozens of people who are not following the guidelines in New Jersey, which say — ” As the club members drowned out the question with booing, Trump said New Jersey’s exception for political activity exempts his news conference from the lower capacity limit. [...] After continuing to criticize the news media, Trump ended the news conference.
Here’s How to Crush the Virus Until Vaccines Arrive (Michael T. Osterholm and Neel Kashkari, NYT Opinion)
Dr. Osterholm is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Mr. Kashkari is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
We believe the choice is clear. We can continue to allow the coronavirus to spread rapidly throughout the country or we can commit to a more restrictive lockdown, state by state, for up to six weeks to crush the spread of the virus to less than one new case per 100,000 people per day. [...] To successfully drive down our case rate to less than one per 100,000 people per day, we should mandate sheltering in place for everyone but the truly essential workers. By that, we mean people must stay at home and leave only for essential reasons: food shopping and visits to doctors and pharmacies while wearing masks and washing hands frequently. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 39 percent of workers in the United States are in essential categories. [...] If we aren’t willing to take this action, millions more cases with many more deaths are likely before a vaccine might be available. In addition, the economic recovery will be much slower, with far more business failures and high unemployment for the next year or two. The path of the virus will determine the path of the economy. There won’t be a robust economic recovery until we get control of the virus.

[...] This pandemic is deeply unfair. Millions of low-wage, front-line service workers have lost their jobs or been put in harm’s way, while most higher-wage, white-collar workers have been spared. But it is even more unfair than that; those of us who’ve kept our jobs are actually saving more money because we aren’t going out to restaurants or movies, or on vacations. Unlike in prior recessions, remarkably, the personal savings rate has soared to 20 percent from around 8 percent in January. [...] Congress should be aggressive in supporting people who’ve lost jobs because of Covid-19. It’s not only the right thing to do but also vital for our economic recovery. If people can’t pay their bills, it will ripple through the economy and make the downturn much worse, with many more bankruptcies, and the national recovery much slower. There is no trade-off between health and the economy. Both require aggressively getting control of the virus.
posted by katra at 6:43 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]


If you are gathering for a political activity, the virus can't get you...

Just ask Herman Cain...
posted by Windopaene at 7:31 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Virginia sets record for coronavirus infections after backlog caused by technical problem (WaPo)
The 2,015 new daily infections marked the state’s highest daily total but included numbers that should have been reported Wednesday and Thursday. Distributing the cases among recent days still lifted Virginia’s seven-day average caseload to 1,142 — second only to a record set May 31. [...] The Virginia Department of Health blamed the reporting problem on a technical issue in its coronavirus database. Officials said that it was discovered late Thursday by the department’s Office of Information Management and that the problem was fixed. [...] Anne Monroe, an epidemiologist at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, said that the Washington area is still seeing ups and downs in its caseloads and that residents should continue to be cautious. The seven-day average of new daily cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia more than doubled in July, ending above 2,000. Monroe called the increases over the past month “disheartening.”

“There are still groups of individuals who are congregating without masks and in close quarters,” she said. Monroe said some people are traveling out of the region to attend gatherings in parts of the country considered hot spots, then returning home and testing positive. She said other spread is happening locally among essential employees such as health-care workers, grocery store clerks and bus drivers. “They’re doing their best, but their jobs just put them at higher risks,” Monroe said.
California sorts through coronavirus data as glitch stymies policy decisions (Politico)
California's top health official said Friday the state has identified why its infectious disease reporting system failed and is working through a backlog of 250,000 to 300,000 records — a glitch that has stymied decision-making at the state's highest levels. “Bottom line, our data system failed,” said Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, offering an apology to residents for the blunder. [...] Ghaly said the state has resolved the issues with the CalREDIE system, but acknowledged that it wasn’t built to handle the volume of lab results created by the pandemic. He said the state is looking to develop a new lab system specifically for Covid-19. [...] The state health leader said Friday for the first time that the state froze its watch list a week ago due to a separate issue — transitioning to new federal reporting requirements for hospital data. The state relies on those metrics to help determine whether a county must remain on a watch list and impose stricter requirements on businesses and activities.
posted by katra at 7:47 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


re: mail-in voting upthread...
@KenLayne: "Friday Night Massacre at the US Postal Service, with Trump postmaster general getting rid of 23 USPS executives as a 'sweeping overhaul of the nation's mail service.'"

@TheProspect: "The Postal Service has informed states that they'll need to pay first-class 55-cent postage to mail ballots to voters, rather than the normal 20-cent bulk rate. That nearly triples the per-ballot cost."
posted by kliuless at 1:49 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


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