The COVID-45 Fall
August 21, 2020 11:08 AM   Subscribe

In the United States, the coronavirus has killed more than 170,000 people and caused over 5.5 million confirmed infections, with deaths rising by more than 1,000 a day on average. As schools reopen, Reuters reports on increasing concerns about children and the coronavirus, Ed Yong describes how long-haulers are redefining COVID-19, and The Guardian reports millions of Americans are scraping by. As noted by Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris in her 2020 DNC speech, "while this virus touches us all, let's be honest, it is not an equal opportunity offender. Black, Latino and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately. This is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism." Politico reports Trump continues to insist his adminstration has "done a great job" handling the coronavirus, while the U.S. record is among the worst in the world.

Previously: The COVID-45 Summer

Related: "but what normal looks like varies dramatically." (international coronavirus news)

Thanks to Seth Lakeman for helping create this post.
posted by katra (308 comments total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
 
thanks katra! appreciate you.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:11 AM on August 21 [29 favorites]


Excess deaths in the US so far this year seem to be about 215,000 with people of colour making up about 52% of them even though they account for about 40% of the population.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:24 AM on August 21 [21 favorites]


Was pleasantly surprised to see rapid testing mentioned in Biden's speech. Hopefully he is aware of the possibility of realtime testing rather than just speeding up RT-QPCR queues (although that needs to be done too).
posted by benzenedream at 11:28 AM on August 21 [11 favorites]


I've mentioned before about my friend who drives a bus for one of Indy's wealthiest suburbs (which is, of course, a huge Trumpland, and has reopened their schools) He told me last week that close to half of their bus drivers decided not to return when the schools reopened. They didn't feel like risking their lives. The drivers that did come back (including my friend, who is only 2 years away from getting his pension) are driving double routes now. So, if you need a job and don't mind riding around inside a big yellow petri dish, they're hiring!
posted by Thorzdad at 11:33 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


'Severe inhumanity': California prisons overwhelmed by Covid outbreaks and approaching fires (Guardian)
California’s raging wildfires have created a crisis at multiple state prisons, where there are reports of heavy smoke and ash making it hard to breathe, unanswered pleas for evacuation, and concerns that the fire response could lead to further Covid-19 spread. [...] “I’m furious at the incompetence and severe inhumanity of this,” said Kate Chatfield, policy director with the Justice Collaborative, a group that fights mass incarceration. “Covid is allowed to rage through the prison system and kill people, and then they have tent hospitals set up … and now with wildfires, they take down the tents and put these people back in the Covid-infected building?”

[...] Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, has released thousands of people early to alleviate overcrowding in prisons (which has also contributed to the prisoner firefighter shortages.) But public health experts have argued that the only way to prevent Covid outbreaks is to cut the population by at least half, releasing 50,000 or more people. Advocates have also called for the state to release elderly and medically vulnerable people en masse, and the fires, they said, have dramatically increased the urgency.
posted by katra at 11:34 AM on August 21 [14 favorites]


Excess deaths in the US

I still worry about my parents on the other side of the country. But as the numbers climb, it starts to get a bit abstract. I've found it useful to refocus by thinking about these figures in units of cities. For instance, 215k deaths would be equivalent to everyone in Tacoma, Salt Lake City, or Baton Rouge disappearing off the earth, within the space of a few months. I wonder if our behaviors would be different, if these kinds of numbers were reported in a way more relatable to people and where they live.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:49 AM on August 21 [33 favorites]


'Very proud': Jacinda Ardern defends New Zealand Covid response after Trump comments (Guardian, Aug. 20, 2020)
New Zealand’s prime minister has hit back at Donald Trump’s focus on the nation’s new coronavirus outbreak, saying it’s not just about how many cases of Covid-19 your country has – but how you deal with them. The US president has spent the week talking up New Zealand’s recent coronavirus resurgence. [...] Ardern’s response comes after repeated public attacks by Trump. [...] Ardern responded to the criticism on Tuesday, saying there was “no comparison” between the Covid-19 situations in the US and her country. Currently, the US has more than 5.2 million cases and 170,000 deaths, the highest in the world. “Obviously, it’s patently wrong,” Ardern said of Trump’s comments. “I think anyone who’s following Covid and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand’s nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States’ tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world,” she said.
posted by katra at 11:49 AM on August 21 [19 favorites]


New Zealand's total number of cases are less than the day-to-day variance in most US states.
posted by benzenedream at 12:20 PM on August 21 [16 favorites]


I don't follow the days of the week anymore, but the Covid-19 death count has become my new reference of time.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:28 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


We are all, as societies, undertaking a marshmallow test of epic proportions right now. But instead of minutes, it’s days/weeks/months, and instead of sweet garbage treats, it’s discretionary excursions and bare-faced social gatherings.

New Zealand seems to be acing the test over and over. The United States, on the other hand...
posted by armeowda at 12:32 PM on August 21 [24 favorites]




Our district was going to reopen in September, allowing both teachers and students to choose whether they wanted to do distance or in-person. I was so happy to see them recently change their minds and go all distance learning for the fall term.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:43 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Thank you so much for putting this post together, katra, and for all your extremely informative updates on these threads.

Your work is very valuable, and I appreciate it very much.
posted by kristi at 12:43 PM on August 21 [43 favorites]


I think of the deaths like this: it's been 165 days since 3/1/2020, and we've lost 170,000 people to COVID since then. That's a little over 1000 dead a day, or roughly 3 to 4 commercial plane crashes *per day*, or a 9/11 every few days. Horrifying.
posted by msbutah at 12:47 PM on August 21 [39 favorites]


I'm pretty pessimistic about near-term fixes, but that's not a particularly depressing account of the state of the art. There's only one nod to the "lights your kidneys on fire and turns your lungs into watermelon taffy" response to potential vaccines, and hopefully that's due more to the success of trials so far. I'm skeptical that the first ones out of the gate will be the most successful (AZT...), but options are options.

However, while I can't be surprised because it may only exist in my own imagination, but I continue to be struck by a lack of moonshots regarding distance learning and the other life-continuity problems that people and families have had to endure and hack for themselves in a tremendous waste of energy all around. Contingency planning, outside of the military and some parts of private enterprise, is not a US strong suit.
posted by rhizome at 12:48 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


Sooo glad I got that buzzcut in early July when CA was tentatively opening up in the face of rising community spread (I was the only customer in the store).
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 1:05 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


The political messaging around even the sane local re-openings is inadequate. Too many people think "Your area's COVID statistics have dropped enough to allow these types of businesses to reopen" means they don't need to wear masks any longer. It really is this simple: until we have an effective vaccine widely distributed, everyone needs to wear a damn mask outside their home, no matter what businesses are open.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:13 PM on August 21 [24 favorites]


9 reasons you can be optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available in 2021.

This is your weekly scheduled reminder that the best thing you can do, as a non-researcher, to ensure the USA has a safe daily distributed vaccine soon is donate / volunteer to the Biden campaign or help take back the Senate. If Trump gets reelected we'll be bidding for vaccine lots with Jared as the auctioneer, and Red states getting priority.
posted by benzenedream at 1:24 PM on August 21 [49 favorites]


America’s College Towns Are Facing an Economic Reckoning (Bloomberg CityLab)
Curtis Shulman is the director of operations for Hotel State College, a hospitality company that runs a group of six bar-restaurants in State College, Pennsylvania. Home to Penn State’s University Park campus, the town depends heavily on the 45,000-student campus, largest of Penn State’s 24 outposts. “We make 20% of our revenue just from football weekends,” said Shulman. “About 60% of the remaining revenue we make during the school year.”
posted by PhineasGage at 1:42 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


I think the marshmallow test analogy is pretty apt.

The original interpretation of the test was that children who do well at it had more self control and did better in life. The newer interpretation, after being redone with a larger sample size, is that children who are economically secure and stable do well at it and do better in life.

So it isn't that Americans have less self-control than New Zealanders and so are experiencing higher Covid cases but rather that New Zealanders, with a more robust social safety net, are more economically secure and stable, and so are able to stay home and be locked down in a way that a lot of Americans aren't. Still a failure of American culture, but a different kind of failure.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:43 PM on August 21 [162 favorites]


A couple from the Bronx assaulted a 17-year-old Sesame Place employee and broke his jaw. The employee had reminded them to follow Pennsylvania (and park) policy to wear masks; later that day, still at Sesame Place, they saw him again and attacked.

The employee needed surgery, lost teeth, and was hospitalized for a week; a co-worker who tried to come to his aid was injured, too.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:43 PM on August 21 [22 favorites]


from the article...
A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for the victim’s medical bills.

because Sesame Place is short on money to cover when employees are attacked asking customers to follow park policy?

speaking of failures of American culture
posted by kokaku at 1:46 PM on August 21 [78 favorites]


Metafilter: Still a failure of American culture, but a different kind of failure.
posted by some loser at 1:48 PM on August 21 [21 favorites]


New Zealanders also had a direct mandate from a single, reliable source, not 28,527 contradictory, morphing recommendations from several sectors.

on preview: kokaku, worker's comp takes a while to process even when it's not a pandemic, and yes, absolutely, that's part of those failures
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:49 PM on August 21 [16 favorites]


If Trump gets reelected we'll be bidding for vaccine lots with Jared as the auctioneer, and Red states getting priority.

'Conmen, grifters and criminals': why is Trump's circle so at odds with the law? (Guardian)
“I believe it unprecedented in any US administration for so many of the closest circle of persons around the president to have been shown to be conmen, grifters and base criminals,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino family boss John Gotti, in an email.
Syringe shortage could hamper delivery of Covid-19 vaccine, experts warn (Guardian)
The biggest danger for shortage will not come in the first wave of any potential vaccination program, but in the second and third waves in 2021. Then, manufacturers will need to roughly double capacity to meet demand in the US alone. [...] In May the whistleblower and former Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) director Rick Bright filed a complaint alleging the US national stockpile had only 15m syringes. Five companies make up most of the US syringe market, manufacturing roughly 663m syringes a year, all of which are already allocated for other programs such as flu shots. The Trump administration has estimated the US could need an additional 850m syringes to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine en masse.

[...] What’s more, some distributors worry that regardless of capacity, panic buying and stockpiling are undermining the supply chain. “People are so afraid of what happened with N95s that it’s just going to continue from product to product,” said Michael Einhorn, president of Dealmed, the largest medical equipment distributor in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. “We’ve seen requests come in from one particular governmental agency that wanted to stockpile syringes, and the governmental agency does not provide healthcare services directly,” said Einhorn. “When people are panicked … people don’t act rational.”
posted by katra at 1:50 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Fantastic. Fingers crossed for nasal-spray vaccine? It's leaving money on the table, otherwise.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:00 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


I don't follow the days of the week anymore, but the Covid-19 death count has become my new reference of time.

I have been watching a few archived late night monologues on YouTube recently. It’s not easy to see when they were uploaded (at least, when I am watching on my phone) but I realized bleakly that I could always peg it to within a couple of days by when Colbert or Meyers or whoever says “with more than _______ thousand Americans dead of the virus, the president has chosen instead to focus on...”.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:04 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


Wait. So the Long Haulers are separate from the group of people with long term damage like scarred lungs and kidney damage? I had heard the term, but didn’t realize there was a large population with persistent symptoms.
posted by KGMoney at 2:11 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I was rolling my eyes in April when people were asking "Is the event in [June/July/August] cancelled?". It was guaranteed, as China was just starting to undo its lockdowns in Wuhan after four or five months, and the US hasn't hit that point. History is a pretty good predictor.

What I did not anticipate was those events likely being cancelled in 2021, as the country has actually gotten worse in most areas since the initial pandemic. And we've been so burned by previous claims of "Mission Accomplished!" that even a miracle will be followed by months of caution.
posted by meowzilla at 2:12 PM on August 21 [8 favorites]


New Zealander here. Yes there are issues of basic competence in political leadership and governance. But also, the structural factors include a unitary government with no states, a single legislative chamber, Westminster style govt where cabinet and PM are elected members of Parliament also; a comprehensive if underfunded social welfare system; universal healthcare with a Ministry of Health overseeing public health policy; a political culture that accepts the state paying employers a subsidy to retain workers during lockdown. Undoubtedly the US of the 1960s or 70s could have done very much better than the US of 2020, but it wouldn't do it the same way NZ has because our societies and political institutions are so different.

Despite being part of the Anglosphere NZ is very, very unlike the US in almost every way that matters in this present situation.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:35 PM on August 21 [68 favorites]


>...but rather that New Zealanders, with a more robust social safety net, are more economically secure and stable, and so are able to stay home and be locked down in a way that a lot of Americans aren't.

>>New Zealanders also had a direct mandate from a single, reliable source

I do agree with these. Key points for me were that our Director-General of Health had the legal power to order everyone to stay home, and did so (no worrying about regional/local government). Combined with the rapid roll-out of a wage subsidy scheme for affected businesses. Note here that NZ is consistently rated one of the easiest countries in the world for doing business, suggesting to me that we had the capacity to roll this out easily. [And electronically! No-one was waiting for cheques to come in the mail].

Would also add that enforcement of lockdown by police was very much based around education first, not punishment, which I think helped with social acceptance [sure, our police have problems, but I think that approach worked better than the stricter response we've seen in even a similar country like Australia].

Also though, our weaknesses became strengths. Our health system is very... efficient, in the sense that it doesn't have much excess capacity, around staff and equipment - we routinely max out capacity during flu season. Our houses are damp and poorly heated. Our population has a high rate of underlying issues that would be impacted by Covid (asthma, diabetes, etc), and a large percentage of Pasifika and South Asian people who appear to be harder hit by Covid. We were coming into winter. All of this meant that if Covid became widespread , the death rate would be awful - we would quickly run out ventilators and staff to run them. So we had to react quickly and rigorously. And luckily (so far) did so. [Sorry for relatively long rant on NZ in the US thread...]
posted by Pink Frost at 2:36 PM on August 21 [48 favorites]


katra: "'Very proud': Jacinda Ardern defends New Zealand Covid response after Trump comments (Guardian, Aug. 20, 2020) "

I felt a bit sorry for Jacinda Ardern as I watched her comments; I mean, she was so obviously being trolled by Trump it would have been perfectly fine for her to just step up to the mic and roll her eyes, giggle maniacally, and walk away.
posted by chavenet at 2:39 PM on August 21 [11 favorites]


Trump offers rebuttal to Democratic convention (WaPo live blog)
Trump also blamed the coronavirus for making his reelection campaign more challenging, bemoaning that he has to prove himself all over again and claiming he was headed for victory before the pandemic hit. (In late March, a Washington Post-ABC poll had him and Biden in a statistical tie. The same poll this week had Biden leading Trump by double digits.)
posted by katra at 2:43 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I would like a Covid Pandemic shirt in the style of 80's Ocean Pacific.
posted by srboisvert at 3:22 PM on August 21 [18 favorites]


So it isn't that Americans have less self-control than New Zealanders and so are experiencing higher Covid cases but rather that New Zealanders, with a more robust social safety net, are more economically secure and stable, and so are able to stay home and be locked down in a way that a lot of Americans aren't. Still a failure of American culture, but a different kind of failure.

This could go some way to explaining why Sweden's still standing, despite there having been no shutdown (other than events over 50 people) and mask-wearing being almost unknown here.
posted by acb at 3:23 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


The employee had reminded them to follow Pennsylvania (and park) policy to wear masks; later that day, still at Sesame Place, they saw him again and attacked.

My wife works in a retail store and has to enforce their mask policy. They reopened in May and I've been worrying about this happening to her every day since.
posted by biogeo at 3:26 PM on August 21 [15 favorites]


Wait. So the Long Haulers are separate from the group of people with long term damage like scarred lungs and kidney damage? I had heard the term, but didn’t realize there was a large population with persistent symptoms.

Nobody really knows how large the number of Long Haulers is and maybe we never will given the symptoms seem to track along with other immune system dysfunctions like Fibromyalgia and their ilk which are notoriously hard to pin down and also so many people who have had covid-19 never actually got tested so even the initial illness often isn't properly confirmed.

I wish there were stats on this.
posted by srboisvert at 3:28 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Sweden is doing worse than the other Scandinavian countries. Probably better discussed in the non-U.S. COVID thread...
posted by PhineasGage at 3:28 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


Trump also blamed the coronavirus for making his reelection campaign more challenging, bemoaning that he has to prove himself all over again and claiming he was headed for victory before the pandemic hit.

How my heart bleeds for him.
posted by ocschwar at 3:30 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


We are all, as societies, undertaking a marshmallow test of epic proportions right now. But instead of minutes, it’s days/weeks/months, and instead of sweet garbage treats, it’s discretionary excursions and bare-faced social gatherings.

New Zealand seems to be acing the test over and over. The United States, on the other hand...


What New Zealand got was to never have to wait for a second marshmallow because the person they were in the room with was not a huge asshat.
posted by srboisvert at 3:40 PM on August 21 [13 favorites]


I wish there were stats on this.

> "We desperately need larger, more comprehensive studies, and, thankfully, they’re in the works — one of the largest and the best will follow 10,000 British patients."
posted by katra at 3:40 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


I would like a Covid Pandemic shirt in the style of 80's Ocean Pacific.

Or maybe Hypercolor? And it can be an IoT thing, where it changes color not based on your temperature but on how your city/state/country is doing?
posted by Snowishberlin at 3:49 PM on August 21 [11 favorites]


biogeo, I'm sorry. NBC's "Retail workers shouldn't be tasked with enforcing store mask rules, union head says" article from July 31 quotes the president of a retail workers' union which was able to win some concessions for its members.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:53 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


The US seems to be suffering from the terrible convergence of multiple failures. When looking at other countries with much lower deaths/etc in isolation its easy to point to one factor, but then you can find a different one that succeeded for a different reason. The unifying point is that the US fails on pretty much every one of these factors.

So -- for NZ people talk about a unified message, etc. Japan on the other hand has had a terrible failure of leadership, especially at the national level [a handful of prefectures have done better --- in other words, similar to the US. Although to be "fair" to Abe at least he mostly just ignored it, unlike Trump's active sabotage]. But mask-wearing compliance is super high (90%+), combined with a sort of default social distancing, which is the most likely reason for the drastically lower mortality rate. And of course a better / more accessible healthcare system than the US [common in most countries that are doing well --- but of course common in pretty much all "developed"/"rich" countries anyway except the US].

Looking at the national level, it's hard to find a single thing the US has done well or right. Some states have managed to do a little better, but when people can look to the President for a counterexample it means you'll have a high rate of noncompliance even in a generally non-Trump state [like California].
posted by thefoxgod at 4:13 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


The original interpretation of the test was that children who do well at it had more self control and did better in life. The newer interpretation, after being redone with a larger sample size, is that children who are economically secure and stable do well at it and do better in life.
Martha Gill wrote a funny article in the Times the other day arguing that children who take the one marshmallow immediately are wise enough to understand that "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush". If you wait for a second marshmallow you're taking a risk that the adult will come back and say "sorry kid, I know we promised you a couple of marshmallows, but we ran out". So it's not just about impulse control, but about trust, and it's easy to see how the child's environment could influence both their behaviour in the test and how they do later in life.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:26 PM on August 21 [85 favorites]


We must learn the lessons of the pandemic. A bipartisan commission can help with that. (WaPo Editorial Board)
THE UNITED STATES must draw critical lessons from the flawed response to the coronavirus pandemic. A broad investigation by a bipartisan commission could help guide the next generation when calamity strikes. Ideally, a commission would investigate for a year or so and report only after the presidential election. The 9/11 Commission provides a useful model of what is possible. A number of proposals, roughly similar, have been introduced on Capitol Hill — so far by Democrats. Republicans should not absent themselves. The best way to ensure that a commission does not become one-sided is for Republicans to contribute.

[...] The probe must examine how the United States performed so poorly in grappling with the onset of the pandemic, including the president’s chaotic and negligent management of the crisis. It should also examine the ill-fated and costly decision to reopen prematurely in May. The probe must also look at systemic issues in the U.S. health-care system, global supply chains, biomedical innovation and funding priorities. [...] Finally, a commission must take a long, hard look over the horizon. If the nation wants a robust and working government ready to protect the public against the next pandemic, what must be done to get there?
How the virus spent the convention (Politico)
Since Monday, the first day of the Democratic convention that nominated Joe Biden for president, about 4,000 people have died of Covid in the United States. The country is averaging about 50,000 new infections and more than 1,000 deaths per day in August, according to Johns Hopkins University. [...] Cases have been slowly coming down after a July peak, but school and college reopenings and the return of normal activities like attending parties or going to restaurants is threatening that incremental progress, said Jeffrey Shaman, an professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University. [...] “Given what we know, we should not have gotten to this point,” [Nina Fefferman, a disease modeler and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee,] said. “All epidemiologists feel this way — just screaming into the void.”
posted by katra at 4:32 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


Our ongoing Color of Coronavirus project monitors how and where COVID-19 mortality is inequitably impacting certain communities—to guide policy and community responses to these disproportionate deaths. (APM Research Lab, Aug. 21, 2020) The coronavirus has claimed nearly 171,000 American lives through Aug. 18, 2020—about 15,000 more than our last update two weeks ago, or averaging about 1,100 deaths per day. We know the race and ethnicity for 95% of the cumulative deaths in the United States. [...] We have been tracking these deaths for more than four months now, revealing COVID-19’s growing toll on all Americans, but with the heaviest losses among Black and Indigenous Americans. In addition, Latinos and Blacks have seen the sharpest rise in their actual mortality rates during the past two weeks, as shown below.[...]

1 in 1,125 Black Americans has died. Black Americans continue to experience the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide—more than twice as high as the rate for Whites and Asians, who have the lowest actual rates. If they had died of COVID-19 at the same actual rate as White Americans, about 19,500 Black, 8,400 Latino, 600 Indigenous, and 70 Pacific Islander Americans would still be alive.

posted by Iris Gambol at 4:32 PM on August 21 [14 favorites]




The only thing the Marshmallow Test ever proved is little kids are cute while they wait patiently in front of a marshmallow.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:59 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


I think of the deaths like this: it's been 165 days since 3/1/2020, and we've lost 170,000 people to COVID since then. That's a little over 1000 dead a day, or roughly 3 to 4 commercial plane crashes *per day*, or a 9/11 every few days. Horrifying.

170,000 deaths = 42,500 Benghazis.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 5:09 PM on August 21 [19 favorites]


Heck, New Zealand's total number of cases is probably less than the White House's alone.
posted by bz at 5:10 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


California wildfires send evacuees scrambling toward another threat: covid-19 (WaPo)
Californians are facing [dual] crises now, as wildfires, still raging largely out of control across a large swath of the state, force tens of thousands of people from their homes during a similarly uncontrolled pandemic. People who have been told for months to stay in and avoid others are now fleeing to different cities, filling hotels and trying to maintain some semblance of social distancing at makeshift shelters, as officials find urgent relief efforts complicated by the ever-present threat of the novel coronavirus. [...] Evacuations from several communities surged during the day and night Thursday into Friday, with some of the fires growing rapidly. Some might not be able to return to their homes for weeks.

Evacuees at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Cruz line up to sanitize their hands and have their temperature taken each time they enter. Staff dispense masks and are constantly reminding people to keep them on, Hunt said. Emotions are raw — some people here lost their homes to the flames — but there is no hugging. [...] Most people in the shelter have been vigilant about coronavirus precautions. But some said they remain wary. With widespread community transmission in parts of California, experts have repeatedly warned against indoor gatherings as particularly risky.
posted by katra at 5:14 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


Long-hauler here; my wife too. We got sick at the end of March, with a few weeks of really bad, and then we were "recovered" by the end of April or so. Never had to go to the hospital (except one ER trip on an early Friday night when it felt acute; thankfully no admission), oxygen was never below 95%, heart and lungs are by all accounts okay. But pre-COVID health seems like a pipe dream for now.

I am a cyclist and haven't been on my bike for months. We just started walking last week, and after two good days on the third one I had to stop halfway through and just sit down. We are adjusting to the "new normal" of not knowing what any given day will bring: sometimes you can go on a nice walk and manage the day and stay up until bedtime and all is well. Other days you get back from an errand run and go straight to bed. I have a full-time job that is thankfully work from home, but there's some element of managing the schedule/zooms so that I don't appear to be as flaky and unreliable as I feel.

In the early weeks we were a cautionary tale/anomaly/curiosity to friends and to doctors (well, the ones who believed us). Now we read the long-hauler articles like that terrific Atlantic one above and screenshot every other paragraph and text them to each other with "yes!" or "this" or "OMG."

I think back to whatever things we were doing pre-lockdown and wish like hell we hadn't gone...wherever it was. I hope like hell that in a year we can look back and see that the tunnel is well behind us. But like so many others, it feels like this will influence the rest of our lives.
posted by AgentRocket at 5:27 PM on August 21 [103 favorites]


According to Fallon, the good news is that if you missed Michelle Obama's great speech you can hear it again next week from Melania.
posted by JackFlash at 5:41 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


New Zealand seems to be acing the test over and over. The United States, on the other hand...

It is great that NZ is kicking ass and taking names on this. But, at the same time, I'm honestly really tired of the comparisons between the US and small island nations. It's just not particularly relevant.

The applicable lessons to the US (were we to actually want to learn from anyone, which is clearly not the case...) would come from geographically large, populous, diverse, and administratively-complex countries with land borders. But other than Germany (which is still really small, just bigger than most of its neighbors), how many semi-comparable countries are genuinely handling this well?
posted by Dip Flash at 5:45 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


The EU as a whole is not a bad comparison point for the US. They are not quite as good as New Zealand but it is still not a flattering comparison for Americans.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:53 PM on August 21 [17 favorites]


The EU as a whole is not a bad comparison point for the US. They are not quite as good as New Zealand but it is still not a flattering comparison for Americans.

I completely agree, and the variations within the EU also have lessons for the US (again, were we willing to learn).
posted by Dip Flash at 5:57 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


geographically large, populous, diverse, and administratively-complex countries with land borders

If you're also limiting that to rich industrialized countries, then sure there is basically NO country that compares with the US. Germany's population is a fraction of the US, same with Canada/etc. Larger population countries like Japan have no land border. etc. Very few countries approach the US in geographic size.

The EU is an interesting comparison because its far MORE decentralized than the US, but yeah its doing better so I guess thats the one comparable entity? But I'd argue the US should be doing significantly better than the EU since we do have a much more powerful central government.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:58 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


We aren't that populous, and we only have the one land border (although it's a doozy), but Canada is diverse, geographically quite large, and I promise you quite administratively complex, and our daily per capita death rate is running about 95% lower than the US's right now.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:05 PM on August 21 [23 favorites]


The applicable lessons to the US (were we to actually want to learn from anyone, which is clearly not the case...) would come from geographically large, populous, diverse, and administratively-complex countries with land borders. But other than Germany (which is still really small, just bigger than most of its neighbors), how many semi-comparable countries are genuinely handling this well?

America needs to learn from every country and do all the things. Particularly now with one of the world's largest uncontrolled outbreaks. The constant "Yeah buts" of American exceptionalism are a huge factor that contributed to the initial negligence that seeded this outbreak in the first place. It's time to drop all the beliefs about America being special and having excuses. It simply doesn't have excuses. It needs to face its many harsh failures and do the hard work to fix it.

And we need to do it not just for the sake of Americans because if America has uncontrolled covid-19 so does the world because we will constantly reseed the pandemic in other countries unless they really do build a 100% impermeable wall around us and amputate the largest part of the global economy.

I'm not sure why you are hung up on land borders at this point. The Canadian and Mexican land borders are already pretty much closed and the only international travel is by air ( and that includes New Zealand). Interestingly the recent NZ outbreak's first case was a worker for an American company that ran a cold shipping warehouse.
posted by srboisvert at 6:13 PM on August 21 [29 favorites]


I want to urge everyone reading this to REGISTER VOTERS. Go through your contacts, call or text EVERYONE. Make sure they're registered, know their polling place, or are getting a mail in ballot. MAKE SURE THEY'RE DOING THE SAME THING: REACHING OUT.

The sacred fire of liberty is lit with a single, tiny spark.

YOU BE THE SPARK!

REGISTER VOTERS!
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 6:29 PM on August 21 [13 favorites]


@Dip Flash above: Um, about 90% of New Zealand pop is urban, fully a third of people live in the largest city Auckland which is more ethnically diverse than say London. I think it's fair to say the US is not importing COVID from Canada at least. The geography of NZ is a red herring. The administrative complexity is the standout difference.

Re the Mexican border yes you have a major headache. One happy coincidence is that at the same time the pandemic killed international tourism in NZ, it freed up hotels near international airports to be used as impromptu quarantine facilities and the reduced inbound flights meant there is nearly enough capacity. I understand there's no political will to quarantine returning US citizens but even if there were, where would you do it?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:31 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


As for applicable lessons: Ontario Premier Doug Ford, a superlatively dickish narcissistic everything-phobic populist bully whose idiot fellow-traveler brother Crack Mayor Rob Ford was Toronto's regrettable claim to international fame playing the role of John the Baptist to President #45 — even Premier Ford is not bashing masks, backing pseudoscience, or playing xenophobic blame games about the origins of the virus, and despite the admitted and regrettable existence of MAGA kooks on this side of the border, Canadian political culture is not punishing him for declining to do these things.

What exactly is different between the two countries such that this guy can at least acknowledge a crisis and attempt to deal with it using something approaching reason, while Republicans would probably respond by primarying him out... who knows for sure, but I know the answers are very sad.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:38 PM on August 21 [11 favorites]


geographically large, populous, diverse, and administratively-complex countries with land borders

*cough* CHINA *cough*

India - 4 times US population, a little over one half the number of cases.
Nigeria - 2/3 the US’s population, 1/60th the number of cases.
posted by rodlymight at 6:48 PM on August 21 [31 favorites]


Listen, every campaign I've ever approached has rejected my "American Exceptionalism! we're exceptionally lousy" slogan out of hand.

COVID-19’s Toll on People of Color Is Worse Than We Knew (The Marshall Project, Aug. 21, 2020) New data shows deaths from all causes—COVID and otherwise—have gone up 9 percent among White Americans, but more than 30 percent in communities of color. As many as 215,000 more people than usual died in the U.S. during the first seven months of 2020, suggesting that the number of lives lost to the coronavirus is significantly higher than the official toll. And half the dead were people of color—Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and, to a marked degree unrecognized until now, Asian Americans.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:05 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


America's one island-state is doing worse than NZ, despite having a third of its population. But Hawaii is also run by a federal government that is not doing it any favors.
posted by meowzilla at 7:24 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


*cough* CHINA *cough*

That was my first thought too, though I doubt China is as diverse or as "administratively complex" as the US. However, with regard to covid at least, many of the complications arising from the system of government have been, shall we say, self-generated?

As in, the system may allow for the President and every State to pull in all different directions, but surely it doesn't make that *have* to happen?
posted by pianissimo at 7:32 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Quarantines, closures: Confusion reigns as schools reopen (AP)
For countless families across the country, the school year is opening in disarray and confusion, with coronavirus outbreaks triggering sudden closings, mass quarantines and deep anxiety among parents. Schools in at least 10 states have had students and staff test positive for the virus since they began opening. The outbreaks have occurred in a variety of school settings: marching bands, high school football teams, elementary classrooms, high schools. [...] The K-12 clusters have mirrored the situation at colleges and universities that have had to shut down in-person learning and switch to virtual classes, albeit for different reasons. Many of the college outbreaks have been traced back to fraternity and sorority gatherings, crowded bars and a lack of masks and social distancing. Students around the country have been suspended for violating bans on campus parties and gatherings.
Student papers say administrators share blame for virus outbreaks: ‘Don’t make us write obituaries’ (WaPo / MSN reprint)
Don’t make us write obituaries” and “Blame Admin” are the latest blistering stances campus editorial teams are printing as their colleges and universities reopen for in-person instruction during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The editorial board for the Observer, the student-run newspaper for the University of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College, said culpability for coronavirus outbreaks is shared. “The blame for this does not lie with just one party,” the Observer editorial staff wrote Friday. [...] The Observer in Indiana said blame toward students isn’t completely misplaced, but it does allow for school leaders to deflect how unprepared they were to safely reopen.

[...] The Diamondback, the student-led newspaper for the University of Maryland, was even more direct in its criticism as the school is set to reopen Aug. 31. Students there said the move is motivated by the school’s reliance on room-and-board money as public funding has become scarcer since the start of the pandemic. “But chasing that money means literally risking lives and contributing to the spread of the virus in the state and the county — an area that has already been hit hard. Jeopardizing the health of the community by reopening is unconscionable, especially considering that, with about 86 percent of undergraduate course sections already fully online, there is no need to invite most students back at all,” Diamondback editorial staff wrote.
posted by katra at 7:36 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


We're likely in for a third wave, says Dr. Bob Wachter, Chair of the UCSF Dept. of Medicine: "Sadly, the precedent for three waves was well established by the 1918 flu pandemic. Since SARS-CoV-2's characteristics haven't changed materially, a third surge in the fall seems likely." (Twitter thread - link is to first tweet)
posted by PhineasGage at 7:57 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


"“Don’t make us write obituaries” [wrote] The editorial board for the Observer,"

This has been the talk of The Observer alumni group (WaPo styled it wrong, it's The Observer), and we are very dang proud of those kids.

(And it's not just student-run; it has no faculty or "adult" oversight, and it's independent of all three schools -- although most notably of the University, which is much larger than the Colleges -- and that means the only leverage the administrations have over student journalists it gets pissed at is threatening to expel them, which it has done in the past. So not a front page entirely without risk.)

Always tickled pink to see one of the most formative institutions of my entire life make the national news (not only did I cut my teeth, form my politics, permanently fuck up my sleep cycle, and make my life-long friends there, but my mom was a founding editor!). Even more tickled to see it pop up on MetaFilter!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:57 PM on August 21 [22 favorites]


I doubt China is as diverse or as "administratively complex" as the US.

Shoot, they’ve got everybody on the same time zone over there!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:23 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


The applicable lessons to the US (were we to actually want to learn from anyone, which is clearly not the case...) would come from geographically large, populous, diverse, and administratively-complex countries with land borders. But other than Germany (which is still really small, just bigger than most of its neighbors), how many semi-comparable countries are genuinely handling this well?

I keep hearing this with the US on several fronts (almost always those to do with social wellbeing, medical care, or education or something like that.) And it's just crazy to me because you don't get this kind of response to questions like "why is the US a military powerhouse?" or "why is the US a tech epicentre?"

The US is a wealthy, diverse, big country with huge resources. It still has buried in it somewhere, a massive brain trust with some of the world's top research and educational institutions. But it lacks the willpower and the leadership to engage those resources, probably because the pandemic is health related and requires social cohesion to manage, two things that have been, in the first case, made into a profit centre and in the second, dismantled for a long time, with an acceleration after Reagan.

However, saying it's too big or too diverse is nuts. Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America by population, and Montreal is the 8th; we both had outbreaks but they were managed differently. Canada could not manufacture its own PPE though and I think our economic recovery will be longer, although we may share it better. I'm not sure I'm putting Canada forward as a great example, either; our long term care stats are shameful and our societal inequities run just as deeply in many ways.

But this thing where Americans are like "it's just not possible!!!!" - no, it is. Powerful people chose not to. They chose not to address the pandemic, either for their citizens or to take a leadership position in the world. From just north of you, where in Toronto we are under a mask order and obsessing about our 32 new cases of the day, I am horrified at the numbers that are being normalized down there.

I say this warmly, like to someone who has given up on themselves: It is not a lack of ability that you are suffering.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:42 PM on August 21 [86 favorites]


Administratively complex: you don't even know.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:08 PM on August 21


Epistemic closure is a real thing; membership in the ruling political party is limited to people who will believe at least five lies a day. You can have all the brains and military might you want but nothing will help you if you buy into your own bullshit. The last generation Rockefeller Republicans spouted a bunch of crap but never believed it themselves; the current generation was raised on that crap and believe it's fertilizer.
posted by benzenedream at 9:19 PM on August 21 [18 favorites]


How the Pandemic Defeated America (Ed Yong, Atlantic [free access], Sept 2020)
Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic. [...] the COVID‑19 debacle has also touched—and implicated—nearly every other facet of American society: its shortsighted leadership, its disregard for expertise, its racial inequities, its social-media culture, and its fealty to a dangerous strain of individualism.
posted by katra at 9:37 PM on August 21 [24 favorites]


Canada has 4x the population of Michigan. The Covid stats for both in comparison are similar except Canada's death rate is higher.
If Toronto is having 23 cases a day, is 3x larger then Genesee county, but have similar cases per day...I'd say y'all are doing 3.5 x better then us.
posted by clavdivs at 9:40 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


"But it lacks the willpower and the leadership to engage those resources"

Yes. I 100% agree; this is a GOP-led federal failure. But also, Illinois has had excellent leadership during the pandemic. I'd quibble with some things (CLOSE THE FUCKING BARS), but Illinois has done everything right. And yet we still border on Indiana and Wisconsin and Iowa and Missouri, who have not taken the pandemic seriously, and we Constitutionally cannot close those borders. Comparing US states to EU countries is in some ways very illuminating and helpful, but the fact is that Germany could (and did) close its fuckin' borders. Illinois can't. (This is also the problem with Illinois gun control, gun stores build literally right across the border in Indiana, Indiana sells with basically no restrictions to anyone who wants a gun for funsies and/or crime-ing, and the Supreme Court strikes down all Illinois restrictions on importing guns from Indiana via the Commerce Clause and Indiana grandstands in really racist waysabout how Illinois is an epicenter of violence WITH THE GUNS FROM FUCKIN' INDIANA that we keep trying to ban but aren't allowed to.)

So it is both a massive federal leadership failure AND an issue of being a big and diverse country WITH NO INTERNAL BORDERS where jackasses get to go sneeze across state lines as much as they want to. States ARE allowed to do some types of things that, for example, allow California to become a tech powerhouse. But blue states are largely at the mercy of red states when it comes to Covid, because the feds have refused to respond and states with good responses can't close their borders to people from states with bad responses.

The majority of Illinois hotspots are in border counties where jerks are going into Missouri or Iowa or Wisconsin and catching Covid while wandering around maskless because Freedom. We can't prevent them from going, or coming back, and we can't prevent people from those hotspots from coming to Illinois. We can issue orders, and even ticket people, but we can't close those borders. There are more than 320 "border crossing" points between Illinois and Wisconsin, and I don't know how many more, that's just the big roads. Zero of them are staffed. Far more into Indiana. Again, zero staffed, because it's not a border.

There's about 15 road bridges between Illinois and Iowa; 18+ between Illinois and Missouri. A bunch of those are federal and cannot be closed by the state. There are also train bridges, and of course no regulation of small watercraft. And that's a BIG FREAKING RIVER that's hard to cross and has bottlenecks. Still a wide-open border.

A popular meme says that America's response to Covid is basically the nerds (blue states and/or researchers) frantically doing the group project really well so that loafers (red states) can coast to good grades on other people's hard work, but WE DON'T WANT TO DIE/get an F, so those of us in states with good responses are going to have lengthy, painful, and ineffective shutdowns to try to compensate for the jerks who don't believe in Covid.

(And to be clear, a lot of freaking people -- including close friends of mine! -- in Wisconsin and Iowa and Missouri and Indiana are FIGHTING LIKE CRAZY for a better response, and to NOT DIE. But if we're talking state-level response, that's what my comment's about.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:46 PM on August 21 [60 favorites]


Deep breath, Eyebrows...

EDIT: These times... We are all in this together...
posted by Windopaene at 9:49 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


being a big and diverse country WITH NO INTERNAL BORDERS

True, seems the peninsula effect has keep Michigan to half of Illinois infection rate.
Like, who's going to drive through Niles to shop in Chicago.
posted by clavdivs at 10:19 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I'm beginning to question the idea that the United States is a "wealthy" country. The traditional measure of a country's wealth is GDP, or the sum of everything sold in that country. By that measure, sure the US is number two in the world.

But those numbers are just the sum of all the business conducted in that country. Just because Apple sold a lot of phones in the US doesn't mean that the federal government is specifically responsible for those sales. It definitely doesn't mean that the federal government can use those Apple profits to fight the pandemic.

Even all the tax money we bring in from companies and individuals doesn't go into a huge banking account that would be recorded as "wealth". That money (and more) is already spent before it's collected, going into programs like social security, medicare, military, and education.

And a lot of those programs aren't remotely close to world-leading. Life expectancy is flat or declining; our colleges may be great but they cost a crazy amount; our unemployment programs are weak.

If you knew a person who made a ton of money, but spent all their money on a tiny apartment and their teeth were falling out, you may not consider them wealthy at all.
posted by meowzilla at 10:44 PM on August 21 [19 favorites]


I'm in Utah and the response here has been so disheartening. I am chronically ill and disabled and it hurts to know everywhere doesn't care if I die. I've only been to appointments (and surgery) and once to the store because it's unsafe for me. I'm grateful for some of the online appointments and healthcare seems to be on top of distancing/masks.

I got mono in highschool and started getting sick(er) about 1-2 years later. I finally got diagnosed with CFS/ME and POTS among a bunch of other issues years later.

I honestly predict that Covid will create a new subset of post-viral illness similar to CFS/ME but will have its own distinction under that umbrella. Because the Post-Covid issues I've seen mimic CFS but have some things - like organ or lung damage - that make it unique. I worry about all the people - especially marginalized groups that will not be believed and be unable to seek care. I'm a privileged cishet, educated white woman and I was still (and continue to be) dismissed by so many doctors. (And no, "bad doctors/nurses" don't get fired.) Their entire lives may change - like mine did. It's not just about death. It's about the death of the life you thought you could have, too.

But back to Utah. We seemed really prepared at first. There were mandates, things shut down, there were testing sites. While it was hard to get a test, we seemed more on top of things than other places. And then - chaos. The leaders put profits and "normal" above lives.

The governor keeps refusing mask orders, keeping the goals for issuing those orders somehow right above where cases end up. We are hovering around 400 new cases per day - down from a bit ago. But things are bad. And it's maddening to see them not care and think that 400 new cases being below their new goal is acceptable enough to not issue mask orders, distancing, and restricted business.

Schools are starting to open. Elementary and high schools have reported being given a single rag and a single bottle of cleaner. The University of Utah has students in dorms who have tested positive.

One positive - which you may not see in news coverage is we are automatically vote by mail. I know it doesn't make it accessable for everyone and there is the major USPS issue. But that's one thing that's been pretty automatic as a response.

There's also the issue of people saying or thinking, "well, it's only in Salt Lake City..." or the differing rules for Salt Lake City proper from the local leadership. They have more restrictions - within city limits. Which if you are in the area ever, you'll know you literally drive down a street and you're in another "city". So many people travel in and out for work. Therefore arbitrary lines around a "city" that you can literally walk in and out of do nothing for the populated metro area.

The race disparities are huge here. Utah is only 13% Latinx, Hispanic, or Spanish. (as of 2010, it may be higher now) But of the nearly 50K cases, that demographic makes up almost 18K of them. That's 36%+ of total cases.

Apologies if any of this has been covered. I haven't had the spoons or mental/emotional capacity to deal with many of these threads.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:30 PM on August 21 [33 favorites]


I'm beginning to question the idea that the United States is a "wealthy" country. The traditional measure of a country's wealth is GDP, or the sum of everything sold in that country. By that measure, sure the US is number two in the world.
Any time someone quotes an average, it’s best to recognize that they’re trying to confuse you (possibly unintentionally) and ask for the median or percentiles to avoid skew from the massive inequality we have. By that measure, we’re something like #6:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_income

Once you account for the huge difference in healthcare costs, however, we drop considerably because Americans are asked to pay for many things out of pocket. Similarly, not investing in infrastructure means most of the country approaches a ratio of one car per person with the corresponding thousands of dollars per year in expenses just for basic functioning.
posted by adamsc at 6:55 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


AdamSC - while it is true Americans have to pay more out of pocket for certain things (most notably, health care and education) than citizens of other first world countries, Americans also pay less for many other things (fuel, food, pretty much anything subject to a VAT or GST in other countries, and in most parts of the country housing), and also get more by some important measures (square feet of housing).

I'd say that you have the car thing upside down in cost of living terms. People have and use cars elsewhere in the first world, unless they live in densest of metros and pay through the nose in higher taxes for acquisition and fuel vs what American pay. Also, lots of Americans greatly value low density suburban / exurban development plans that makes transit uneconomic, and the cost of a car is a price worth paying for that.

The best measure of all of this of course is net migration / expatriate worker flows among first world countries. These flows tilt massively in favor of first-world foreigners moving to the U.S. permanently or temporarily vs. the reverse, implying that the effective incomes are far better in the U.S. than elsewhere.
posted by MattD at 7:12 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


The sort of person who can choose what country to live in is well positioned to take advantage of the US's inequitable distribution of resources, yes. The sort who isn't gets to subsidize the first type.
posted by rodlymight at 8:18 AM on August 22 [32 favorites]


.
posted by limeonaire at 8:42 AM on August 22


Hint of COVID-19 immunity: 3 sailors with antibodies spared in outbreak at sea
The study is small and tricky to interpret, but it offers inklings of COVID-19 immunity.

The numbers are small and the finding is not definitive. Additionally, the study appeared this month on a pre-print server, meaning it has not been published by a scientific journal or gone through peer review. Still, experts say the study was well done and significant for netting data that hint that potent, pre-existing immune responses from a past infection can indeed protect someone from catching the virus again.

“While this is a small study, it offers a remarkable, real-life, human experiment at a time when we’ve been short of hardline, formal, proof that neutralizing antibodies genuinely offer protection from re-infection, as predicted by animal models,”
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:46 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


How QAnon rode the pandemic to new heights — and fueled the viral anti-mask phenomenon (NBC News, Aug. 14, 2020)
Shannon Foley Martinez, a reformed neo-Nazi who now works to deradicalize extremists, said there's been a substantial uptick in people approaching her during the pandemic, asking for ways to reach family members who have become consumed by extremist content on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. "I believe that we actually are living amidst another pandemic — a trauma pandemic," Foley Martinez said. "America right now is very unstable. It feels precarious. People are carrying huge amounts of stress, both financial and personal." "People in these situations want something that has very clear rules, where there's a very clear definition of enemies; friends and foes," Foley Martinez added. "There's an allure to it, a feeling of empowerment when people are feeling abjectly disempowered." In a QAnon world, where those enforcing mask mandates are perceived as part of a movement that includes Satanic child sacrifices, that good-versus-evil narrative can provide a strange sort of comfort. Doing the opposite of public health advice can give conspiracy theorists a sense of control.

[...] For many wannabe anti-mask influencers, the confrontation is the point. While comedians poke fun at the viral rants, anti-mask conspiracy theory communities on Facebook cheer them on, often in private groups with tens of thousands of members. Renee DiResta, the technical research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory, which studies information technologies and social media, said that staging confrontations for niche online audiences was cribbed directly from the anti-vaccination movement. DiResta said that the point of these outbursts can be for attention, money, or both, but ultimately "they're performing for the audience at home," not the people at the supermarket or the town meeting. "They're getting tons of likes, positive feedback and positive reinforcement. It helps to inspire donations, as well as to inspire other people to go and do this within their own communities," DiResta said.
posted by katra at 8:54 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]


I'm beginning to question the idea that the United States is a "wealthy" country.

A good question. I thought this one day May and saw a story were residents of Michigan had over $50 million in unreturned bottles and cans. That number rose until stores had to start taking them back per law. For a month or so, bottle return was like a mini gold rush. Folks even make a fiver if they sell 100$ in change to some small stores.

good question.
posted by clavdivs at 8:57 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Trump calls out FDA chief, suggests agency is slow-walking Covid clinical trials (Politico)
President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested that his own FDA is making it difficult for drug companies to enroll people in clinical trials for vaccines and therapies to treat Covid-19, part of a "deep state" plot to hinder his re-election prospects. The president did not provide any evidence to support the accusation. [...] The FDA is not in charge of whether people enroll in a drug trial; that’s handled by the drug companies. [...] The president’s behavior has fed fears that the FDA will succumb to political pressure and approve a vaccine or drug that is not yet ready for prime time. [FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen] Hahn has made concerted efforts over the last two weeks to allay those concerns, asserting the agency's independence in a series of op-eds and appearances. Despite those efforts, Americans appear wary of a prospective coronavirus vaccine, with nearly 20 percent of people, according to recent polls, saying they would refuse one if available, in part, because of fears that its approval was rushed to please the president.
The bully pulpit: Trump pushes Washington, but virus resists (AP)
[...] Trump has often ended up his own worst enemy, unwilling or unable to check his impulses. The campaign he now faces is less a choice between candidates than a referendum on himself, a weighting he will try to reverse before November. And his most lasting legacy might be undermining Americans’ trust in institutions, said Brian Ott, who heads the communication department at Missouri State University and has done extensive research on the president’s social media rhetoric. “He has waged war on science, fact and truth,” Ott said. “He has, in short, debased the office he holds and the entire nation with his endless lying.”
posted by katra at 9:06 AM on August 22 [7 favorites]


Lawsuit accuses nation’s largest hospital firm of not protecting workers from covid-19 (WaPo, Aug. 20, 2020 / MSN reprint)
Several hospital workers and their union filed a lawsuit Thursday against the nation’s largest health-care chain, alleging the company and one of its Southern California hospitals failed to protect employees, patients and the community against the novel coronavirus. The lawsuit accuses HCA Healthcare and Riverside Community Hospital of creating a public nuisance “through knowing and reckless acts and omissions” that increased the risk of coronavirus infection and led to two employees’ deaths. The case, filed in Superior Court of the State of California, is the first that attempts to hold a national hospital company legally responsible for allegedly inadequate protective gear and for policies requiring employees to work while infected, according to the Service Employees International Union, which initiated the suit.

At least one other health-care labor organization, New York’s largest nurses union, brought similar lawsuits against their state’s health department and two New York-area hospitals in April. [...] The question of health-care workers’ possible exposure to the novel coronavirus has been a thread running through the country’s greatest public health calamity in more than a century. [...] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 138,000 coronavirus cases have been reported among health-care workers, including 637 deaths, though the federal agency says those figures are an undercount because the data it collects does not always specify people’s work.
Complaint [pdf] via CNBC.
posted by katra at 9:25 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]


Teachers Know Schools Aren’t Safe to Reopen (Katie Moylan and David Schepard, Atlantic)
Officials claim that they have purchased enough “electrostatic disinfectors” and personal protective equipment for every school. And yet the budget is in such crisis, due to shortfalls in tax revenue and potential cuts, that 22,000 city workers and 9,000 teachers may face layoffs as soon as October 1. The department promises accountability and transparency, but will not even disclose how many educators became ill in the spring. It’s Schrödinger’s reopening: The city both can afford to do it all and can’t afford what we had before. Teachers are in an exceedingly difficult position if unsafe buildings reopen. No wonder the union is considering a strike, an extraordinary action that would have detrimental consequences for teachers in the city. [...]

But the alternative to striking might be worse. [...] The city’s case rate may be low now, but to presume that COVID-19 can’t resurge here, when a “second wave” has already begun in Europe, is reckless beyond belief. Who will be hit the hardest? The families who have disproportionately shouldered the suffering of the pandemic already. [...] The teachers union recently released its safety plan, developed with the input of health experts. [...] Until the education department has come up with a comparable plan or adopts the union’s, school buildings need to stay closed. [...] Once a school building meets the standards, students should return slowly. Mark Treyger, the chair of the city council’s education committee and a former educator, shared a smart plan for a phased reopening: Start by sending back to school full-time the youngest children and those most in need of in-person support, using additional space to allow for proper social distancing, and keep high schools closed until the city knows it can keep transmission low.

[...] Some have claimed that teachers are abdicating their duty. Mayor de Blasio recently compared us to health-care workers and first responders who “found a way” to work when the crisis began in March. Our collective memory seems to omit the lawsuits by and protests from those same workers, when they too were denied the safety precautions they needed to face this pandemic.
posted by katra at 10:57 AM on August 22 [7 favorites]


Trump calls out FDA chief, suggests agency is slow-walking Covid clinical trials

President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested that his own FDA is making it difficult for drug companies to enroll people in clinical trials for vaccines and therapies to treat Covid-19, part of a "deep state" plot to hinder his re-election prospects.

So, reading between the lines: he's been trying to put his thumb on the scales at the FDA, they're pushing back effectively, he can't figure out how to make them do what he wants, and he's throwing a temper tantrum about it. Yay?
posted by saturday_morning at 11:42 AM on August 22 [15 favorites]


Teachers Know Schools Aren’t Safe to Reopen

The imminent school year seems to be the mostly widely fumbled thing everywhere. My hometown school board is futzing about with online learning plans and setting up classrooms in vacant storefronts and church basements. This is the same school board that in June 2019 closed two high schools and shipped their students to a brand new school (built on the site of a previous high school torn down in 2015 and a block away from another high school torn down in 2014). The two that closed in 2019 are still fully intact, and have not had their utilities turned off or anything (one is on the market, one is being partially used as office space by the school board); each of these two schools in the Before Times had a capacity of ~1200 students.

Both schools were in full use fourteen months ago. Both are empty today.

The school board that oversaw my education is desperately scrambling to rent out church basements while literally dozens of school rooms in buildings they own stand vacant. There must be some scheme of logic here, but I am at a loss to see what it is.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:40 PM on August 22 [11 favorites]


So, Sturgis happened. Next is Bike Week in New Hampshire. New England is about to get hosed.
posted by ocschwar at 1:58 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


Watching the webcams at Sturgis was probably not a wise choice for me to have made...

Can't imagine how someone would go there and do that maskless. And now we all pay with another couple of months of rampaging infections.

And yesterday I took my daughter and her girlfriend to the airport, as she has to report for her Ph. D program in Ohio. And they had to fly to Atlanta, transfer there to get to Roanoke VA to get the car, and then drive to Ohio. Where, today, as she was trying to pick up new Ikea furniture, had to deal with people not wearing masks in line... WTF

Sorry for the Rant
posted by Windopaene at 2:20 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


Covid-19 cases tied to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota have reached across state lines (CNN, Aug. 21, 2020)
At least seven Covid-19 cases in Nebraska's Panhandle region have been tied to the rally, Kim Engel, director of the Panhandle Public Health District, confirmed in an email to CNN. The department said that contact tracing had been completed, and it declined to comment further. [...] Minnesota also confirmed 15 cases of Covid-19 connected with the rally, according to Kris Ehresmann, director of the Minnesota Health Department Infectious Disease Division. Of those 15 cases, one person has been hospitalized. Health officials say they expect to see additional cases in the next few days, Ehresmann said.

South Dakota state health officials announced Thursday that a person who worked at a tattoo shop in Sturgis had tested positive for the virus and could have possibly exposed people during the event last week. [...] Earlier this week, officials said a person who spent hours at a bar during the rally had also tested positive. [...] South Dakota Department of Transportation officials tracked more than 462,000 vehicles entering Sturgis during the rally. [...] South Dakota reported 193 new cases on Friday. It's one of several states that have seen an increase in new cases this past week compared to the week prior, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
posted by katra at 2:25 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Can't imagine how someone would go there and do that maskless. And now we all pay with another couple of months of rampaging infections.


One of the things that make long cross country drives somewhat bearable is middle aged waitresses at diners. It's a very comforting cliche. ("Filler up?" "Yes please." "Say when." "When".)

They'll be first.
posted by ocschwar at 2:48 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


Biden says he'd lock down country if spread of coronavirus warranted it (Politico, Aug. 21, 2020)
“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden told ABC’s David Muir in a joint interview with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, to air Sunday. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to save lives.” Biden’s comments represent the strongest potential action the Democratic presidential nominee has proposed to stanch the spread of the virus that has killed at least 175,000 people across the U.S. as of Friday evening.

[...] "We won't be closing the country again. We won't have to do that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News in June. Biden, appearing in his first interview since officially becoming the Democrat’s nominee for president this week, strongly disagreed with Trump’s reasoning. “We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with,” he said. “In order to keep the country running and moving — and the economy growing and people employed — you have to fix the virus.”

[...] "I think that there is so much about what comes out of the Donald Trump's mouth that is designed to distract the American people from what he is doing every day, that is about neglect, negligence, and harm to the American people," Harris said.
Trump hits Dems for virtual convention in appeal to Wisconsin voters (Politico)
“Biden and the Democrats have greatly disrespected the Great State of Wisconsin by not even paying a small visit to Milwaukee, the designated site of the DNC,” Trump tweeted. “The State & City worked very hard to make sure things would be good. Not nice.” [...] The Democratic National Committee announced in July that its planned Milwaukee convention would instead go all-virtual as outbreaks in coronavirus cases worsened across the country. [...] The bulk of Republicans’ programming will take place in and around the Washington, D.C., area — mostly on federal property.
posted by katra at 3:08 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Trump looks to Republican convention for optimistic campaign reboot (WaPo)
The party intends to present itself entirely in Trump’s own image, and the stakes for him could hardly be higher. [...] While the Democrats reimagined their convention for the pandemic as a completely virtual affair, the Republicans are devising a hybrid model. The GOP event will not take place in a cavernous arena as planned, but some of the marquee speeches — including Trump’s on Thursday night on the South Lawn of the White House — still are set live before hundreds of people, even at the risk of flouting public health guidelines.

Republican strategist Mike DuHaime said Trump’s top priority should be to deal with negative judgments about his handling of the pandemic. “If you’re an incumbent, you get reelected if you do a good job and thrown out if you don’t,” DuHaime said. “So challenge one for the president is to communicate what he’s doing on coronavirus and what he’s going to do to get the country back on a normal track.” [...] A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in July found 64 percent of Americans saying they do not trust what Trump says about the coronavirus, with 46 percent saying they trust him “not at all.” When speaking about the pandemic, Trump often has projected the image of a flamboyant salesman, offering claims that are exaggerated or wrong. On recent occasions when he has spoken more seriously about wearing masks and practicing social distancing, he has read from a script and, in the words of GOP strategist Michael Steel, delivers the message “with the energy of a limp windsock.” [...]

Trump’s political advisers have signaled that the president and others will focus on his accomplishments, hoping to persuade people not to base their votes entirely on the pandemic and the economic crisis. [...] Republicans have released relatively little information about their convention programming, and officials have sought to preserve the element of surprise.
posted by katra at 3:31 PM on August 22 [3 favorites]


I bet he actually thinks Chachi is going to light up his poll numbers.

Trump’s political advisers have signaled that the president and others will focus on his accomplishments

They say the convention is going until Thursday?
posted by rhizome at 3:59 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


Maybe he'll do that nifty drinking glass demo again?
"We won't be closing the country again." The country was never closed.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:10 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Trump struggles to use power of presidency to counter Biden (AP, Aug. 21, 2020)
Traditionally, an incumbent would devote the week of his rival’s convention to bolstering his own credentials as a leader. But rather than focusing on his command of the job or using its power, Trump hit the campaign trail, where he flouted his own administration’s pandemic safety guidance and expressed gratitude for support from adherents to an extremist conspiracy theory, QAnon.

[...] Ten weeks out from Election Day, as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged Trump’s reelection chances, aides have recognized that a vote on his presidency is not one he is likely to win. Acting “presidential” — holding briefings and leading negotiations — won’t suit him, in the view of many aides, if his presidency is what is holding him back.
posted by katra at 4:21 PM on August 22


Oh, for the love of Pete, he's got me doing it, too, when I ought to know better.
"We"
As in, the current occupant of the Oval Office, who has done nothing helpful at the Federal level, is now taking the credit for the handful of places in the US where local leadership did implement stay-at-home orders (as he fought with those politicians over doing so, excoriating them in public statements and withholding crucial supplies and funding).
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:24 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


and officials have sought to preserve the element of surprise.

Hmm, this might be bad. One of my hunches is they're going to use the RNC to hype Operation Warp Speed/the vaccine.
posted by FJT at 4:25 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Hmm, this might be bad. One of my hunches is they're going to use the RNC to hype Operation Warp Speed.

The WaPo article seems to support that hunch:
Ron Kaufman, a veteran Republican National Committee member who was part of that 1988 campaign, said of Trump on the eve of this year’s GOP convention: “He’s a vaccine and three good debates away, and I believe he will prevail,” explaining that he does not mean mass distribution of a vaccine before the election, but only that Americans believe an effective one is coming.
But as noted earlier by Politico, "Americans appear wary of a prospective coronavirus vaccine, with nearly 20 percent of people, according to recent polls, saying they would refuse one if available, in part, because of fears that its approval was rushed to please the president."

Guardian: Pelosi says Trump's rush for Covid-19 vaccine is 'very dangerous'
House speak Nancy Pelosi has pushed back on Donald Trump’s tweet from earlier today, in which he said the Food and Drug Administration was too slow in producing a Covid-19 vaccine. “The FDA has a responsibility to approve drugs judged on their safety and efficacy, not by a declaration from the White House on speed,” said Pelosi. “This was a very dangerous statement from the president ... that went beyond the pale.” In Trump’s tweet, the president suggested the “deep state” was behind a plot to delay the vaccine and harm his chances in November’s election.
posted by katra at 4:47 PM on August 22 [3 favorites]



From the Atlantic Article Katra posted:

How the Pandemic Defeated America (Ed Yong, Atlantic [free access], Sept 2020)

Compared with the average wealthy nation, America spends nearly twice as much of its national wealth on health care, about a quarter of which is wasted on inefficient care, unnecessary treatments, and administrative chicanery. The U.S. gets little bang for its exorbitant buck. It has the lowest life-expectancy rate of comparable countries, the highest rates of chronic disease, and the fewest doctors per person. This profit-driven system has scant incentive to invest in spare beds, stockpiled supplies, peacetime drills, and layered contingency plans—the essence of pandemic preparedness. America’s hospitals have been pruned and stretched by market forces to run close to full capacity, with little ability to adapt in a crisis.

Kind of burying the lead in the middle of the paragraph. As the article points out, other countries have "populist" leaders, such as the buffoonish Boris Johnson, but they still had a national healthcare system capable of responding better to the virus. And the phrase "administrative chicanery" carries a lot of explanatory weight. The waste and mismanagement the author identifies occurs because healthcare is long identified as an area of market failure. Other countries don't rely on competition amongst insurance companies to hold down costs as we do and will continue to do even under current Democratic healthcare reform plans.

Moreover, the idea that the primary issue of healthcare reform is overutilization and overall cost is deeply problematic. During the debate over the ACA, it sometimes seemed "bending the cost curve" and American's ordering biopsies for fun were bigger issues than saving lives through improvements in health care delivery. As a result, the disortations inherent in competition based healthcare systems went unaddressed.

Let's look at how this impacts racial disparities in health, an issue the article touches upon but does not fully elaborate:

Why Surviving COViD Might Come Down to Which Hospital Admits You

In its first four months in New York, the coronavirus tore through low-income neighborhoods, infected immigrants and essential workers unable to stay home and disproportionately killed Black and Latino people, especially those with underlying health conditions.

Now, evidence is emerging of another inequality affecting low-income city residents: disparities in hospital care. .....

Still, mortality data from three dozen hospitals obtained by The New York Times indicates that the likelihood of survival may depend in part on where a patient is treated. At the peak of the pandemic in April, the data suggests, patients at some community hospitals were three times more likely to die as patients at medical centers in the wealthiest parts of the city.

Underfunded hospitals in the neighborhoods hit the hardest often had lower staffing, worse equipment and less access to drug trials and advanced treatments at the height of the crisis than the private, well-financed academic medical centers in wealthy parts of Manhattan, according to interviews with workers at all 47 of the city’s general hospitals.


If your primary concern in healthcare costs, is addressing this issue going to be a priority?

Another interesting paragraph from the Atlantic article:

Today, the U.S. spends just 2.5 percent of its gigantic health-care budget on public health. Underfunded health departments were already struggling to deal with opioid addiction, climbing obesity rates, contaminated water, and easily preventable diseases. Last year saw the most measles cases since 1992. In 2018, the U.S. had 115,000 cases of syphilis and 580,000 cases of gonorrhea—numbers not seen in almost three decades. It has 1.7 million cases of chlamydia, the highest number ever recorded.

Since the last recession, in 2009, chronically strapped local health departments have lost 55,000 jobs—a quarter of their workforce. When COVID‑19 arrived, the economic downturn forced overstretched departments to furlough more employees. When states needed battalions of public-health workers to find infected people and trace their contacts, they had to hire and train people from scratch. In May, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan asserted that his state would soon have enough people to trace 10,000 contacts every day. Last year, as Ebola tore through the Democratic Republic of Congo—a country with a quarter of Maryland’s wealth and an active war zone—local health workers and the WHO traced twice as many people.


Ah, so the part of the mystery regarding the complete failure of the US response compared to the EU starts to resolve itself. The US never had much of a public health infrastructure to begin with; it isn't profitable after all. To make matters worse, state-level austerity embraced on a bipartisan basis after the Republicans took control of the House in 2010 - and really even before then because Democrats seemed really eager to pivot to deficit reduction once it was clear the worst was over for the stock market and the banks were saved - cut what meager pubic health infrastructure states possessed.

Of course, the Democrats could have addressed this when the passed they ACA in 2010. They wouldn't even have needed to endure the controversy passing the public option entailed. Instead, they created a "committee" to handle pandemics, which Trump disbanded. It wouldn't have done any good anyway. The time to set up a competent public health infrastructure is before a pandemic hits, not during it. In all, they knew the problem existed, but they weren't willing to expend the money and political effort to address it fully.

Will we see a repeat? Right now, the Democrat's healthcare reform proposal is pretty thin gruel in that department.

Joe Biden: Healthcare and Communities of Color

Joe Biden Overall Healthcare Plan

I heard a lot of arguments in the primary that Biden was proposing a healthcare system similar to that of the German system, which also includes a small amount of private insurance. This is nonsense. The German system includes boards made up of public insurers (sickness funds), medical professionals, and neutral parties manded to set healthcare prices and ensure adequate supplies of healthcare professionals and resources (e.g. hospital beds and ventilators) based on the needs of a given area. The Democrats healthcare plan doesn't come within a country mile of this. Instead, as with the ACA, it relies on competition between insurers - this time including a public option of as yet undetermined quality - to control costs. Thus, I fear the inequities and lack of preparedness that characterized our COVID response will remain unaddressed.

Why am I being an evil online lefty about this? Why can't just blame it all on Trump? Because I'm afraid. I'm afraid that just like after 2008 we'll just pass a series of reforms that merely give lip services to addressing problems but in fact just paper them over. Already I can see it starting to happen. Editorials that Biden is smart for realizing the Democrats are a big tent party. Blue Dog and DLC aligned groups putting pressure on Pelosi to agree to a "skinny" stimulus that will remove her leverage to get badly needed economic aid to states; remember those public health cuts in the Atlantic article? And, that Washington Post editorial proposing a bipartisan commission to investigate what went wrong with our COVID response. Just what are Republicans supposed to contribute at this point beyond "abolish the ACA and let insurers sell across state lines" or "Fauci made the virus in a chinese lab to help the globalists." Are we seriously going to pretend that we can address the failure to respond effectively to the Coronavirus with the same type of thinking that led to it?

We had the chance to better prepare for this at levels, never mind Trump's incompetence, but we blew it. Reality doesn't care about politics. It doesn't care about schedules of incremental reform. A virus either exists or it doesn't. Whether we have the public health infrastructure to control its spread or the doctors and medical equipment to treat it is up to us. You can substitute any other problem - climate change, infrastructure decay leading to lead in water ect.

And, of course we have to vote Trump out first. If we can't, god help us. I doubt my criticisms on a left-leaning message board are somehow going to sway undecideds.
posted by eagles123 at 4:56 PM on August 22 [9 favorites]


Like, I would not be surprised when Trump is talking about the vaccine at the RNC we'll see in the background chemistry table sets with dry ice emerge behind him and a bunch of actors dressed in lab coats and goggles pretend to be busy mixing liquids and writing on clipboards.

I'm not even completely joking about this. Remember he has stood next to a big pile of steaks and wine to show how great his businesses were and another time stood next to a big stack of papers to show how he's cutting regulations AND a totally separate time standing next to another big pile of papers showing how he was transferring his businesses over to his family before becoming president.
posted by FJT at 5:00 PM on August 22 [10 favorites]


The bulk of Republicans’ programming will take place in and around the Washington, D.C., area — mostly on federal property.

I'd mention the Hatch Act, but it requires a functioning DOJ, which we don't have the luxury of at the moment.
posted by mikelieman at 5:25 PM on August 22 [12 favorites]


Remember he has stood next to a big pile of steaks and wine to show how great his businesses were and another time stood next to a big stack of papers to show how he's cutting regulations AND a totally separate time standing next to another big pile of papers showing how he was transferring his businesses over to his family before becoming president.

And on the South Lawn of the White House, when he made "a political point by setting up a crane lifting the weights of regulation from the bed of a "red" truck, while showing the burden of regulations weighing down a "blue" truck." h/t Sarah Cooper, who also has a nifty pandemic-related GOTV message.
posted by katra at 5:32 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in July found 64 percent of Americans saying they do not trust what Trump says about the coronavirus, with 46 percent saying they trust him “not at all.”

I’m very curious about the 18% (give or take) who reckon him to be generally a sterling exemplar of truth but who think he may be shading the truth a bit on the virus.

Of course, I don’t have the poll results in front of me, so maybe there is a step down from “not at all.” Perhaps 11% of respondents trust him “as far as I could kick him uphill in the dark.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:35 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


"This is the same school board that in June 2019 closed two high schools and shipped their students to a brand new school (built on the site of a previous high school torn down in 2015 and a block away from another high school torn down in 2014). The two that closed in 2019 are still fully intact, and have not had their utilities turned off or anything (one is on the market, one is being partially used as office space by the school board); each of these two schools in the Before Times had a capacity of ~1200 students. ... The school board that oversaw my education is desperately scrambling to rent out church basements while literally dozens of school rooms in buildings they own stand vacant. There must be some scheme of logic here, but I am at a loss to see what it is."

I'm spitballing, but I'm going to guess it's a Health/Life/Safety issue. You know how when you own a house you generally don't have to keep bringing it up to code when code changes, unless you sell it or it becomes super-actively dangerous so that code enforcement notices? Schools in most states have to bring their schools up to code every 10 years or so. All of them, to all the code. It's very expensive! And it reaches a point, typically when schools are between 80 and 120 years old if well-built, but a lot of schools from the 60s Baby Boom were so shittily built that they're a problem already (the 80s had a lot of bad school contracting too, that I'm vaguely aware was related to S&L money needing laundering or something?), where it costs substantially less to knock down the old school and build a new, safe one that meets current safety codes. This is what's happening when you see a school start building a new school on part of their property during the school year, then real quick knock down the old school in the summer and try to finish the new school in time for school to open, often with the school board shifting the end date and start date of school that summer to give themselves a couple extra weeks. If they're a suburban school they might build the new school on the soccer field and then knock down the old one (even if now the school is situated very weirdly on the lot); urban schools do weird things to fit around their old building shapes, or cross their fingers and pray there are no summer construction delays.

But, yeah, it's very expensive to keep schools up to code (and is often levied separately into a Health/Life/Safety fund that isn't capped the way other levies might be), and states will not give you waivers if your H/L/S isn't done on time, because buildings that aren't doing their H/L/S are often deathtraps. Asbestos, fire hazards, black mold -- nobody wants to be the politician who said "I guess they can stay in their building that's a fire trap" and then have the fire happen. The local fire department will absolutely declare the building hazardous and refuse to let anyone inside it if their H/L/S isn't up-to-date. Converting old schools into admin offices is one way around it, since adults are allowed to work in firetraps that children are not permitted to attend school in. It feels really frustrating when perfectly good schools are sitting empty or getting demolished, but they can be crazy, crazy dangerous. (You should also be suspicious if a public school system unloads and building and builds new, and a private school buys the building. Don't send your kids there until you've seen the H/L/S reports. Some states don't require private schools to meet the same standards as public schools.)

We had one 110-year-old-ish building so bad in Peoria that the city refused to condemn it because then they would have had to pay to knock it down and it was totally going to be a brownfield site. We couldn't use it, we couldn't get rid of it. We finally sold this gorgeous, ginormous building on a HUGE piece of property for $10. The developer who bought it found out it was too expensive to demolish and too unsafe to use, and has since then been paying big fines every year for not demolishing it, but it's cheaper than demolishing it and he can't sell it.)

If you memail me I'll totally go flip through your past board agendas and find out the deal. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:34 PM on August 22 [19 favorites]


Republicans Rush to Finalize Convention (‘Apprentice’ Producers Are Helping) (NYT)
A stage has been built at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, a neo-Classical event space where most of the speakers will address a live audience. Current regulations in Washington prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people; Republican aides say they have hired “Covid experts” to determine how many onlookers can enter the auditorium and what audience participation could look like.

The list of speakers is heavy on the president’s relatives and White House staff members, including Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s former caddy who is now deputy chief of staff for communications, and Larry Kudlow, the national economic adviser. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, will also speak, according to a person involved in the planning. The lineup also includes Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Missouri couple that toted weapons at Black protesters and have since become right-wing media stars, and Nicholas Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who sued news outlets over coverage of his encounter last year with a Native American protester in Washington.

[...] The president is set to accept his party’s nomination on Thursday from the White House, with fireworks above the South Lawn. The first lady, Melania Trump, will speak on Tuesday from the Rose Garden, and Vice President Mike Pence will appear on Wednesday from Fort McHenry in Maryland, site of a battle in the War of 1812. All of the sites are controlled by the federal government, meaning the Republican event is likely to violate the Hatch Act, a Depression-era ethics law that bars the use of public spaces for political activities. Some of Mr. Trump’s aides scoff at the Hatch Act and say they take pride in violating its regulations.
posted by katra at 7:18 PM on August 22 [10 favorites]


Republicans have released relatively little information about their convention programming, and officials have sought to preserve the element of surprise.

This reads to me like they don't know exactly how they're filling the four nights yet. It's amateur hour all the way down, no matter how venal.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:25 PM on August 22 [13 favorites]


The Aristocrats!
posted by katra at 7:56 PM on August 22 [9 favorites]




This reads to me like they don't know exactly how they're filling the four nights yet. It's amateur hour all the way down, no matter how venal.

Welp. Trump is going to speak every night.
posted by rhizome at 10:53 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I was talking to my mother, who lives in a different state, and just casually threw out there that I wouldn't mind going to Red Robin* to eat my weight in garlic fries again sometime soon since I haven't been in over five months. "I thought restaurants were open there," she said and I replied that yes, they are. "Why don't you go?" Because sitting in a medium-sized room with poor ventilation occupied by people talking around each other and not wearing masks is about as risky a thing I can do related to COVID?

She was horrified (not hyperbole) that I wouldn't consider going out to eat if I wanted to. "Your dad and I go out to eat a few times a week. I'm not scared of the virus." Not for the first time, I bit off my retort that we can't come visit them if they die from this thing.

But it's thinking like this that's sending me up a wall. In slightly-less-blue-than-Metafilter western Washington, people are piling into restaurants and clamoring back to gyms that recently reopened. The two malls near me are full.

Yet our transit system is staring down the barrel of 15-20% service cuts every six months for the next three years and at least one group has started with the "hey, just asking the question, buses are super terrible for COVID so how about we cut some funding and give our poor restaurants a break on sales tax?" Never mind that (indoor) restaurants are quite risky and transit has never been linked to an outbreak (SLNYT).

I feel like this is emblematic of how we've approached this virus in the States. We were OK with some sacrifice in the beginning but if it gets in the way of doing what we want to do, too damn bad. And everything else, from schools to transit, can just burn.
posted by fireoyster at 12:42 AM on August 23 [36 favorites]


On the heels of news reports of Georgia having the worst Covid rates in the country, my workplace has decided to announce a “staggered return to the office” for people who have been working from home.

I thought they had been relatively smart up until now, but it seems like management has just decided to throw our safety out the window. After all, management all have their own individual offices. I sit in a room with two other people and we are maybe 6 feet apart.

I dunno guys it feels like we are headed for a second wave before the first one is over.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:41 AM on August 23 [11 favorites]


I feel like this is emblematic of how we've approached this virus in the States. We were OK with some sacrifice in the beginning but if it gets in the way of doing what we want to do, too damn bad.

Yeah, and also a lot of people refuse to wait years/indefinitely to do what they want--even if it kills them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:18 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


even if it kills them

And untold others. It’s the lack of empathy that annoys me, although it no longer surprises me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:08 AM on August 23 [12 favorites]


How our brains numb us to covid-19’s risks — and what we can do about it (Elizabeth Svoboda, WaPo, Aug. 22, 2020)
Our tendency to view risk through the prism of emotion also hurts us during a pandemic. To gauge whether to take a particular risk, we usually look to how we feel about it: Most of us don’t feel safe doing a cartwheel on the edge of the Grand Canyon, so we sensibly hang back. On the other hand, a lot of us now feel safe crowding into bars or flying on a full airplane, even though those feelings bear little relation to facts about viral transmission. Still, emotion-based risk assessment is highly dynamic, [University of Washington environmental policy professor Ann Bostrom, whose research focuses on risk perception,] said: If cases spike or hospitals get crowded in a given city, people might grow fearful again and start behaving in more risk-averse ways.

Because risk perception fails as we learn to live with covid-19, [Dale Griffin, a professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia in Canada,] and other researchers are calling for the renewal of tough government mandates to curb virus spread. They see measures such as strict social distancing, enforced masking outside the home and stay-at-home orders as perhaps the only things that can protect us from our own faulty judgment. But these kinds of measures aren’t enough on their own, Griffin said. It’s also important for authorities to supply in-your-face reminders of those mandates, especially visual cues, so people won’t draw their own erroneous conclusions about what’s safe. “A few parks have drawn circles [on their lawns]: ‘Don’t go out of the circle,’ ” Griffin said. “We need to take those kinds of metaphors and put them throughout the entire day.”

Whether governments decide to reinstitute stricter rules, each of us can learn to argue against our own snap judgments about covid-19’s dangers, [University of Oregon psychologist Paul Slovic, author of “The Perception of Risk,”] said. “The first step is awareness that sometimes you can’t trust your feelings.” For people considering how to assess covid-19 risks, Slovic advised pivoting from emotionally driven gut reactions to what psychologist Daniel Kahneman — winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics for his integration of psychological research into economic science — calls “slow thinking.” That means making decisions based on careful analysis of the evidence. “You need to either do the slow thinking yourself,” Slovic said, “or trust experts who do the slow thinking and understand the situation.”
posted by katra at 9:19 AM on August 23 [12 favorites]


Metro loses first employee to covid-19 (WaPo, Aug. 22, 2020)
Metro said the employee died sometime late Thursday or early Friday and worked as a manager in the Rail Operations Control Center before falling ill several weeks ago. While many transit agencies across the United States have experienced several deaths due to the virus, Metro, the nation’s third-largest transit system, with more than 12,000 employees, had been fortunate. [...] “Joseph [Reid] is a reminder of the continued dangers of covid-19 and the outsized impact it has had upon the working people of this country,” [Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689] said in a statement. “Transit workers are just one part of the essential workforce that have kept this region moving even during a global pandemic.”

[...] Transit agencies across the country have mourned fallen colleagues, who have kept public transportation systems running so essential workers such as doctors, grocery workers and first responders could get to their jobs. New York has been hit hardest, with more than 130 Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers having died of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. [...] More than 300 Metro employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since March; 285 have returned to work and one remains hospitalized. Nearly 40 Metro employees remain out of work, fighting or recovering from the virus, according to the transit agency. [...] ATU, North America’s largest transportation union, said 83 of its members have died since March. Union officials continue to push for better personal protective equipment for transit workers, while transit agencies have taken unprecedented steps to keep employees safe. [...] At one point, Metro had closed nearly 30 of its 91 stations, several entrances to operating stations and more than 200 bus routes. Ridership correspondingly dropped to record lows that have remained consistent since mid-March. Last week, Metro began a plan to restore service to nearly normal levels after it began seeing an increase in riders, many of whom were federal workers returning to their offices.
posted by katra at 9:38 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Guardian: Donald Trump is set to travel to Charlotte on Monday, to attend in person as delegates to the Republican National Convention renominate him for US president, and the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, says the event does not pose a health risk.
“We tested everybody [for Covid-19] before they came to Charlotte, we tested everybody onsite,” McDaniel told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “We are doing things that allow people to live their lives, have a convention and do it in a healthy and safe way, which most Americans are doing.”
Is Your State Doing Enough Coronavirus Testing? (NYT, updated Aug. 23, 2020)
The number of daily coronavirus tests being conducted in the United States is only 52 percent of the level considered necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus, as many states struggle to increase testing and catch up to the recent surge in cases. [...] An average of 727,000 tests per day were performed over the past week, according to data collected by the Covid Tracking Project, far below the current nationwide target of 1.4 million daily tests. The target, which is based on a methodology developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is different for each state and varies over time as infection rates change.

[...] Their estimates for the testing required to suppress the spread of the virus are much higher.
posted by katra at 10:15 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


That Washington Post article is a good example of why I don't want to relax my current levels of high alert so I don't start relaxing and getting comfortable going outside.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:29 AM on August 23 [6 favorites]


Wary of COVID-19, Utah teachers measure the space between desks. In one class, there’s only 20 inches.
A Utah teacher has an average of 25 kids in elementary school or 29 for junior high and high school. Her classroom is 900 square feet. Can she fit all of the students in at 6 feet apart, to be socially distant during the pandemic?

The answer, according to many who’ve tried it, is a resounding no.

With most schools reopening across the state this week, The Salt Lake Tribune spoke to several educators to see how much space they could realistically get between desks. One teacher said she’s tried everything she can think of and can separate her students by just 20 inches. Another said he’s got a smaller than average number of kids who will be attending in person, but he can still only get a little more than 3 feet between them.

Part of the issue is that Utah’s average class sizes are the largest in the nation. Some classes are much larger than the average, with close to 40 kids in one room. Both the governor and the Utah Board of Education have acknowledged that will make distancing a challenge in returning to classrooms this year.


This will dramatically harm students, teachers, and families. This will kill people. I am so broken at the choice to open schools.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:11 AM on August 23 [15 favorites]


Emails show businesses held sway over state reopening plans (AP)
As South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster prepared to announce the end of a coronavirus stay-at-home order, his top staff received an email from the state health department. The message, highlighted in bold, was clear: Wait longer before allowing customers back inside restaurants, hair salons and other businesses where people will be in close contact. Instead, McMaster pressed ahead with a plan written by the state restaurant association to resume inside dining on May 11. The guidelines made masks optional for employees and allowed more customers inside than the health agency had advised. A few days later, the Republican governor opened the doors to salons, fitness centers and swimming pools. He did not wait to gauge the effect of the restaurant reopening on the virus, as public health officials had suggested. Like many states, South Carolina later experienced a surge in infections that forced McMaster to dial back his reopening plan.

He was hardly alone. Thousands of pages of emails provided to The Associated Press under open-records laws show that governors across the U.S. were inundated with reopening advice from a wide range of industries — from campgrounds in New Hampshire to car washes in Washington. Some governors put economic interests ahead of public health guidance, and certain businesses were allowed to write the rules that would govern their own operations.
‘Not just a low-wage recession’: White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze (Politico)
Lower-paid workers are losing their jobs at about three times the rate of higher-wage employees. But the drop in overall employment that white-collar industries like real estate, information and professional and technology services have seen in five months is already on par with or worse than the hits they took during the Great Recession — underscoring how even highly paid workers with the ability to telework are vulnerable now. [...] Job postings for higher-wage occupations — those offering roughly $50,000 or more annually — remain 28 percent below last year’s trend, while lower-wage postings for jobs offering around $30,000 or less are down only 12 percent, according to the hiring platform Indeed. The trend suggests that white-collar employers are increasingly unwilling to take expensive risks and hire more higher-wage employees at a time when the economy is precarious at best, economists say.

[...] Data suggests that layoffs in white-collar industries are more likely to be permanent than those in frontline sectors such as restaurants or retail. The so-called core unemployment rate, which excludes all layoffs that are classified as temporary, has increased more for workers with more education, even as the unemployment rate has generally increased more rapidly for those with less education, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by Jed Kolko, Indeed’s chief economist.
posted by katra at 11:14 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Crystalinne, you’re too right.

Utah has been especially cavalier about the whole pandemic so far. The young-skewing population has admittedly buffered our case-fatality rate. That false confidence, combined with our class sizes, will spell our doom this autumn.
posted by armeowda at 11:18 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Trump to announce emergency authorization of convalescent plasma as ‘breakthrough’ covid-19 treatment (WaPo / MSN reprint)
Many scientists and physicians believe that convalescent plasma might provide some benefit but is far from a breakthrough. It is rich in antibodies that could be helpful in fighting the coronavirus, but the evidence so far has not been conclusive about whether it works, when to administer it and what dose is needed. On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the blood product — derived from patients who have survived covid-19 — is “probably beneficial” for covid-19 patients. The issuance of an emergency authorization would make it easier to get in some settings. But he also said it already is widely available, so the change would be “incremental.”

[...] The treatment’s effectiveness for covid-19 has appeared promising but has remained unsettled because scientists don’t yet have results from rigorous clinical trials. The tens of thousands of patients already treated have been enrolled in an expanded access program sponsored by the FDA and run by the Mayo Clinic. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory School of Medicine, said that it was an exaggeration to call plasma a “breakthrough.” He called plasma an “interesting strategy” and said the data so far was a “nice hint” that it could be helpful, but stressed that it was “not going to win the game.”
posted by katra at 2:39 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


I feel like this is emblematic of how we've approached this virus in the States. We were OK with some sacrifice in the beginning but if it gets in the way of doing what we want to do, too damn bad.

Yeah, and also a lot of people refuse to wait years/indefinitely to do what they want--even if it kills them.


I'm going to, gently, push back a little on this line of thought even if it gets me destroyed on here. The United States government failed its citizens in controlling the virus. Trump's response was reprehensible, and that Atlantic article Katra posted indicated US state public health departments faced cuts since 2009 due to post recession austerity; they faced additional cuts at the start of the pandemic due to the recession. Moreover, the US doesn't have anything resembling a national health bureau capable of quickly coordinating a pandemic response and allocating or reallocating resources quickly to ensure equitable distribution of health care resources. Last, the US also doesn't have automatic economic stabilizers capable of ensuring

Other developed countries are taking precautions like mask wearing and other forms of social distancing, but other than that their citizens are able to go about their lives in a semi-normal fashion because their governments succeeded in controlling the virus. When you hear about "surges" in those countries in the US media, you are talking about increases in cases that are a fraction of the size of the daily case number in some US states. Those increases will likely be dealt with using local, targeted lockdowns and contact tracing.

So, I'm not gonna blame people for acting on human desires for social interaction and some degree of normality if they obey recommendations of their local health authorities. As far as I can tell, Jay Inslee isn't some cowboy hat wearing yahoo out there saying we can sacrifice grandma for the economy. Washington appears to have had one of the more aggressive and competent responses in the US at both the level of government and business. It's not perfect, but there is only so much you can do with an incompetent federal government and overall broken healthcare system.

I'm also not gonna get on college students lacking fully developed frontal lobes for acting like college students, especially considering their institutions decided to go in person without a testing plan to ensure everyone came to campus virus free. I remember my college dorm: Multiple people per room, communal bathrooms, and closely packed lunchrooms and classes. The only way to prevent spread in that environment if you can't create a "bubble" like the NBA did would be to lock the students in their rooms, have all instruction be virtual, and have them eat at staggered times sitting alone at tables. That's cruelty; that's prison. And then, after they graduate, what? Have fun, you just missed the best years of your life, good luck in the post Corona depression economy lol?

Socialization is a human need. Novelty and fun are human needs. Lack of stress and terror is a human need. Money to buy food and a job/business are nice too. I'm not gonna blame people for wanting to meet basic human needs when their government failed them. If I'm gonna blame them for anything, its going to be for not holding their government to account before the pandemic to create a better public health system and not to elect Trump.

My biggest fear is that social distancing is a privilege. People who live in multi-family dwellings, multigenerational households, use communal spaces like laundry rooms and laundromats, and work in "essential industries" always were at greatest risk for contracting the virus. After contracting the virus, they are then more likely to die from because of healthcare inequities.
And, after the pandemic finally ends, and it will end, all pandemics do, those groups will face the brunt of the education cuts, healthcare cuts, transit cuts, and general economic fallout as well.

So, I'm not gonna blame people for doing the best they can to muddle through and keep things going as best they can given the circumstances. Life has always been cheap in this country. People have died from causes they wouldn't in other developed countries. People die from auto accidents they wouldn't in other countries because of lack public transit. People die from violence they wouldn't in other countries because of lack of gun laws. People die from diseases they wouldn't in other countries because of lack of health insurance and inequities in healthcare they recieve. Hell, the fact that high fructose corn syrup and other sugers aren't regulated in the US as they are in some countries certainly added to the fatality rate of the current epidemic. The coronavirus is well on its way to being another hazard Americans live with that don't exist else.

I only hope that we can find the courage and will to change these things. In the meantime, the moral calculus isn't at all clear.
posted by eagles123 at 2:54 PM on August 23 [24 favorites]


Twitter flags ‘misleading’ tweet in which Trump suggested voters could contract coronavirus from ballot drop boxes (WaPo live blog)
Twitter on Sunday flagged a tweet in which President Trump suggested voters could contract the coronavirus by placing their mail-in ballots in drop boxes, calling his message misleading and in violation of the platform’s rules. “We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting,” the company said in a tweet Sunday afternoon. [...] Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, can be spread by exposure to surfaces but is more often spread by person-to-person contact, according to experts.

George Conway, a conservative lawyer and frequent critic of the president, responded to Trump’s tweet by noting [...] “Recently I dropped my wife’s primary ballot off in a dropbox in front of the Bergen County, NJ municipal building,” he tweeted. “There were security officers there. The dropbox was clean, but I didn’t have to touch it because there was a narrow, clearly marked slot to put the ballot in!”
Guardian: Poll: 75% of Republicans think US is better off than four years ago
A CBS poll has found that 75% of Republicans think the US is better off now than it was four years ago, and 82% of those say it is due to their confidence in Donald Trump. In addition, 67% of Republicans think the economy is in good shape, 73% think Covid-19 is being handled well by the government and 64% think deaths from the virus are lower than the numbers reported. As for the recent anti-racism protests across the US, 81% of Republicans say too much attention has been paid to discrimination.

Among all voters, the picture was different. Only 35% think the country is better off than it was four years ago, 35% think the economy is good, 38% say the battle against Covid-19 is going well, and 44% think too much attention is paid to discrimination.
posted by katra at 3:11 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Financial Times / CNBC article-about-the-FT-article, Trump considers fast-tracking UK Covid-19 vaccine before US election:
according to three people briefed on the plan ... the US Food and Drug Administration [would award] “emergency use authorisation” (EUA) in October to a vaccine being developed in a partnership between AstraZeneca and Oxford university, based on the results from a relatively small UK study if it is successful
posted by jedicus at 3:15 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Re: Guardian, reporting on CBS poll. "The CBS News national survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,226 U.S. registered voters interviewed between August 19-21, 2020." Moreover, "About three in five (58%) Republican registered voters say the main reason they are a Republican is because they like what the party stands for, compared to 42 percent who say they are a Republican because they dislike what Democrats stand for." Small sample, likely dominated by older white people, but boy howdy:

"About four in 10 registered voters (44%) say that deaths from coronavirus are higher than reported, while over three in five (64%) of Republican say COVID-19 deaths are fewer than reported." &

"Republicans (57%) are more likely than Independents (33%), and Democrats (10%) to say the number of US deaths from the coronavirus has been acceptable. Democrats (90%) are more likely than Independents (67%), and Republicans (43%) to say the number of US deaths from COVID-19 has not been acceptable."
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:40 PM on August 23 [5 favorites]


FDA authorizes plasma treatment after scientists raised objections (Politico)
Janet Woodcock, the head of FDA's drug division who is now working on Operation Warp Speed, an interagency effort to accelerate coronavirus treatments and vaccines, on Friday told POLITICO that plasma has not been "proven as an effective treatment." And unlike Gilead's remdesivir, which received an emergency use authorization months ago and has shown to benefit hospitalized patients, convalescent plasma "does not yet represent a new standard of care based on the current available evidence," FDA said in a statement. [...] It's not clear when definitive evidence on plasma's effectiveness will emerge. Janet Woodcock, head of therapeutics for Operation Warp Speed, told an NIH scientific summit on Thursday that 162 convalescent plasma studies are underway, but only six could produce the type of data needed to support an emergency authorization or approval from the FDA. [...] other outside experts — including at least four former FDA chiefs — have urged the agency to hold off an emergency authorization until there is clear data that plasma works. "Let's get the trials done & if the results are life saving, let's make it standard of care, thus benefiting hundreds of thousands to millions," former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf tweeted this week. "If not we can avoid the huge expense & effort & keep looking for best treatments."
Guardian: The US has crossed the threshold of 176,000 confirmed deaths from Covid-19
The American death toll is the highest in the world by a significant margin and reached 176,645 on Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins University world coronavirus tracker. The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
posted by katra at 3:43 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


When Republicans say that 177,000+ deaths is “acceptable” I suspect that what a lot of them mean is “preferable to giving any thought to my worldview or what my words and actions have led to for even a second.”
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:16 PM on August 23 [13 favorites]


He was hardly alone. Thousands of pages of emails provided to The Associated Press under open-records laws show that governors across the U.S. were inundated with reopening advice from a wide range of industries — from campgrounds in New Hampshire to car washes in Washington. Some governors put economic interests ahead of public health guidance, and certain businesses were allowed to write the rules that would govern their own operations.

Chicago had volunteer consultants from McKinsey & Boston Consultancies to "help them with the spreadsheets" for Chicago's reopening plan.

Shortly after they volunteered their services the city prematurely reopened bars and restaurants for indoor customers while 3 predominately visible minority Chicago zip codes still had positivity rates over 10%. Our case rate has been climbing ever since.
posted by srboisvert at 4:42 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


I put up a new blog post with the COVID-19 numbers analyzed for the week ending August 15th. I'm always a week late on these, there is a lot to process.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:50 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


DOD Awards $750,000 to Plasma Technologies, LLC for Manufacturing of Convalescent Plasma Products Using a Novel Process in Support of the U.S. COVID-19 Response (defense.gov, Aug. 17, 2020) On 14 August 2020, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF), supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), entered into a $750,000 cooperative agreement with Plasma Technologies, LLC. The agreement is to develop and optimize a process to produce higher yielding anti-COVID-19 immune serum for scale-up and manufacturing, if successful. A higher yield hyperimmune serum would be an improvement over the current standard method. Convalescent plasma, which is collected from a person who has recovered from a disease, may be beneficial in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19.

ProPublica's COVID-19 project, Tracking Federal Purchases to Fight the Coronavirus; "Department of Defense contracting data is subject to a 90-day delay before it appears in the data."; four contracts related to "convalescent plasma":
Quantitative Serology of Convalescent Plasma Samples, Mt. Sinai Hospital, total committed value of federal contracts $1.4M, effective July 18, 2020
Support EAP to Facilitate the use of the Human Convalescent Plasma to Treat Hospitalized Coronavirus-2 (SARS-COV-2) COVID-19 Patients, Mayo Clinic, total committed value of federal contracts $48.9M, effective May 1, 2020 (more on the collaboration below)
Convalescent Plasma Units, America's Blood Centers, total committed value of federal contracts $187M, effective April 27, 2020 (Organization's July 30 statement)
Convalescent Plasma Coordination and Payment, American National Red Cross, total committed value of federal contracts $69.1M, effective March 27, 2020

Safety Update: COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma in 20,000 Hospitalized Patients (via uscovidplasma.org) Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators have found investigational convalescent plasma to be safe following transfusion in a diverse group of 20,000 hospitalized patients transfused with investigational convalescent plasma as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s national Expanded Access Program (EAP) for COVID-19.

The safety report assessed the seven days following transfusion for hospitalized patients between April 3 and June 11, 2020, who were deemed at risk of progressing to a severe or life-threatening condition. This update provides safety data from 20,000 patients, including the initial 5,000 and subsequent 15,000 transfused patients. Highlights:
-Seven-day mortality rates declined to 8.6 % compared to 12% in a previous safety study of the first 5,000 transfused patients.
-The recruitment of a diverse population has improved over the course of the study. Nearly 40% of study participants were women; 20% African Americans; with nearly 35% Hispanic and 5% Asian.
-The study was not designed to evaluate the efficacy of convalescent plasma. This safety report does not provide any findings on the effectiveness of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19.

The initial 5,000: Early safety indicators of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in 5000 patients (Journal of Clinical Investigation, June 11, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:16 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Returning from overseas or out of state? The CDC removes its 14-day quarantine recommendation (USA Today, August 23, 2020) Travelers returning from a trip outside the country or their state no longer face recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.

The CDC updated its travel requirements online Friday, advising travelers to "follow state, territorial, tribal and local recommendations or requirements after travel." Previous guidelines recommended a 14-day quarantine for those returning from international destinations or areas with a high concentration of coronavirus cases.

posted by Iris Gambol at 7:16 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Civil rights protest, political demonstrations and fireworks: D.C. to host thousands amid coronavirus pandemic (WaPo, Aug. 22, 2020)
The jam-packed week comes as the D.C. area continues to navigate a still-raging pandemic. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has doubled down on instructions to out-of-state visitors: Wear a mask, keep your distance and, if you’re traveling from one of the 29 states deemed a hot spot, quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
posted by katra at 7:37 PM on August 23


If you memail me I'll totally go flip through your past [school] board agendas and find out the deal. :)

Thanks for the offer, but I have already spent hours reading every word of the board agendas and minutes for the calendar year 2020, along with those of the finance and facilities committee, the audit committee, and the policy and procedures committee (on the off chance). I reckoned I could skip the HR committee.

Not one word about any consideration of temporary usage of the two closed high schools. The finance reports for the last few years make fascinating reading. One of the schools closed in 2019 was my alma mater, in fact, sent out of service because it would have cost ten million to upgrade, and as a matter of economy, it was thought more prudent to spend $24 million on a new building. This eventually ballooned to $32 million, because reasons. I was living far away at the time and was not following the construction saga closely: I do know that part of the overage was an extra $1.2 million for a parking lot. Again, I am not in construction, so I am doubtless naive, but this was for a square of asphalt for seventy parking spots on land the board has owned for decades. Another new high school under construction (budget: $33 million) has already seen an additional line item of $2 million for a turf sports field. A little eye-watering, not least because an existing school is in the news for just having spent $800,000 to replace its own field with natural grass, and for most of a million dollars, still has only a bare field to show for it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:41 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Kellyanne Conway to leave the White House at the end of the month, citing the need to focus on her family (WaPo)
“We disagree about plenty,” she wrote of her and her husband, “but we are united on what matters most: the kids. Our four children are teens and ‘tweens starting a new academic year in the middle school and high school that will be conducted remotely from home for a least a few months. As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times.”
I’m a New York public-school teacher. A safe return to school simply isn’t possible right now. (Amanda Geduld, WaPo Opinion, Aug. 21, 2020)
On Wednesday afternoon, New York City’s Education Department hosted a virtual town hall for teachers and administrators to discuss plans for the fall. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza opened the meeting with a moment of silence to honor the 79 teachers and staff lost to the coronavirus pandemic. What went unmentioned: Many of these deaths might have been prevented if the city and state had worked swiftly in the spring to shut down schools and protect students and faculty.

It appears that government officials have not learned their lesson: The city plans to reopen public schools for its 1.1 million students on Sept. 10. After the town hall’s ominous start, it continued in a similar vein. The schools chancellor discussed budget cuts, layoffs and his desperate hope to receive last-minute state or federal funding. That didn’t inspire confidence that Carranza or his staff had adequately prepared for our return to school buildings in three weeks. [...] Parents are becoming increasingly aware of this disgraceful chaos. In the past week, my school and others with similar demographics have seen a surge of parents shifting their children into remote learning.
posted by katra at 7:59 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


FDA authorizes plasma treatment after scientists raised objections (Politico)

It's all of a piece: to sow and maintain confusion. PPE mis-distribution. Inconsistent mask policies. Variable shelter-in-place requirements. Scattershot reopening plans. Schools. Events. Unemployment and income supplements. Confusion.

It's a truism that a confused consumer is more receptive to advertising messages, and I believe this has been the organizing principle all along: if nobody knows what's going on, if there's a sense of emergency, then Trump can come in and save the day with a minimum of work. All he has to do is supply some "maybes" and even "if you're nice to me"'s and hold up the only 20pc box of N95s in the state, and juice enough hope out of people to get their votes....then he can continue looting the nation while everybody dies starving, poor and unemployed, though not dying of starvation.
posted by rhizome at 8:02 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


Fuck you, Kellyanne, just fuck you. You can have the luxury of working from home (or not working professionally for a while) and take care of your kids, while millions of families are forced into catastrophic situations because the boss you so ardently defended lives in a fantasy world.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:19 PM on August 23 [29 favorites]


^The social media influencer has made headlines in recent months for her anti-Trump stances online and even replying to her mother's tweets. "Herman Cain led a remarkable life and will be missed. He loved his family, the country and the Lord. He triumphed in business, beat cancer and was a voice for freedom. God bless you and yours, Herman," Kellyanne Conway wrote following the death [from coronavirus] of the late Tea Party activist in July.

"Yes it is sad but wasn’t your administration complicit in his death ?? yikes," her daughter responded
.
--
July/August in DC (its third-hottest July on record), and Melania Trump unveiled her overhaul of the White House Rose Garden Saturday, a month-long project that included digging up trees, replacing vibrant floral beds with white and pastel roses and laying down paved walkways. (Vox, Aug. 23, 2020) Trump’s revamp was designed, in part, to “fulfill the dynamic needs of the modern presidency,” including making the space more amenable to TV cameras and other tech needs of the press corp. Donald Trump has been holding press conferences in the garden rather than inside the briefing room in recent weeks because of Covid-19. It’s expected to serve as the backdrop for Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention address on Tuesday, a controversial choice of venue that Democrats say is an illegal use of the White House grounds.[...] The White House said less-noticeable changes include improvements to make the garden more accessible for people with disabilities.

The crab apple trees, central to the previous, JFK-commissioned design, were removed, but are to be replanted elsewhere on the grounds. This work on the WH anti-climb fence wall is recent, too. More before & after Rose Garden photos on Digg.

A wedding reception spread coronavirus to 53 people, killing a woman who didn't attend the event (Business Insider, Aug. 23, 2020) A wedding reception in Millinocket, Maine, led to 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. One woman who did not attend the event died on Friday after being infected with COVID-19 after coming in close contact with a guest, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Sixty-five people went to the August 7 reception, which was largely indoors, Maine's CDC director Nirav Shah said in a press conference on August 20. The venue, "Big Moose Inn," exceeded the state's limit on indoor gatherings, which is 50 people, Shah said. [...] In Millinocket, nearly half — 23 — of the reported cases linked to the wedding are among people who didn't attend, according to the Press Herald. But efforts to contract-trace, or identify those who've come into contact with infected people, are still underway, Maine's CDC said.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:19 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


Trying to buy a desk or a chair? As more kids go to school virtually, there's a COVID-19 fueled desk shortage (USA Today, Aug. 24, 2020)

Long-tail COVID details in novelist Yvonne Cassidy's Aug. 24 Marketwatch column for its Dispatches from a Pandemic series. ‘I tried walking more than 3 blocks, paying the price with chest pains and crippling fatigue’: One woman’s long recovery from COVID-19: New York City — Today is day 141. I’ll save you doing the math: Day 1 was April 3. It was a Friday, a month before my 46th birthday when the doctor at my local walk-in clinic told me to consider this Day 1 of COVID. [...] over a decade, I’ve been running five or six miles several times a week. Pre-COVID me could run up the steps from Riverside Park to street level without a problem and do a decent time in a 10-kilometer race. Pre-COVID me did not get short of breath sitting on the couch as I had done the night before.[...] Back at the walk-in clinic on Day 14, a chest X-ray revealed secondary pneumonia. My wife and I are the same age and neither with underlying conditions. Her COVID presented as body aches, nausea and fatigue. We had been dealt totally different versions of this chameleon virus.[...]

Looking back, those days — in the 60s — were the worst, when the fear that I might never get better really started to take hold. By then, I’d gotten my life back — I was working from home and, on a good day, I could walk 10, even 12 blocks. But the trade-off was a fatigue that kept me couch-bound for hours, intermittent chest pains and the need for an inhaler. My days set aside for writing became recuperation days and my novel remained untouched. Popping out to get something from the shop, making dinner, even talking on the phone were activities that were out of reach. Sure, I had my life back, but it wasn’t my life. It was someone else’s life. At least, that is how it felt.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:59 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


[A few deleted. We aren't doing all-the-US-politics megathreads, so let's stick to Covid-19 updates and info here, please. If you want to make separate posts about the RNC or Kellyanne Conway leaving, that's fine.]
posted by taz (staff) at 11:58 PM on August 23 [5 favorites]


This is very UK-specific and won't apply elsewhere, but here's the official Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on schools and childcare reopening.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:30 AM on August 24 [3 favorites]


'Mind-bogglingly irresponsible': meet the Republican donors helping QAnon reach Congress (Guardian)
[White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows was given the opportunity to disavow or denounce QAnon in multiple television interviews on Sunday, but he demurred, claiming not to know what it was.
QAnon is More Important Than You Think (Adrienne LaFrance, Atlantic, June 2020)
[...] as reports of a fearsome new virus suddenly emerged, and with Trump now president, a series of ideas began burbling in the QAnon community: that the coronavirus might not be real; that if it was, it had been created by the “deep state,” the star chamber of government officials and other elite figures who secretly run the world; that the hysteria surrounding the pandemic was part of a plot to hurt Trump’s reelection chances; and that media elites were cheering the death toll. Some of these ideas would make their way onto Fox News and into the president’s public utterances. As of late last year, according to The New York Times, Trump had retweeted accounts often focused on conspiracy theories, including those of QAnon, on at least 145 occasions.

[...] Adherents are ever looking out for signs from on high, plumbing for portents when guidance from Q himself is absent. The coronavirus, for instance—what does it signify? [...] Three days before the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic, Trump was retweeting a QAnon-themed meme. “Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me!” the president wrote on March 8, sharing a Photoshopped image of himself playing a violin overlaid with the words “Nothing can stop what is coming.” On March 9, Q himself issued a triptych of ominous posts that seemed definitive: The coronavirus is real, but welcome, and followers should not be afraid. [...] Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become an object of scorn among QAnon supporters who don’t like the bad news he delivers or the way he has contradicted Trump publicly. [...] In the final days before Congress passed a $2 trillion economic-relief package in late March, Democrats insisted on provisions that would make it easier for people to vote by mail, prompting Q himself to weigh in with dismay: “These people are sick! Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing.”
posted by katra at 9:39 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


AP-NORC poll: Trump faces pessimism as GOP convention opens (AP)
Most Americans think there isn’t enough being done to help individual Americans, small businesses or public schools as the pandemic stretches on, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Overall, just 31% of Americans approve of Trump’s leadership on the pandemic, a significant drop from 44% approval in March, when the virus began sweeping through the United States.

[...] Yet Trump has shown little willingness to acknowledge that a course correction of any kind is needed. He’s repeatedly cast the virus as all but defeated, even when cases were sharply increasing, including in states he needs to win in November. He’s also insisted the U.S. has vastly outperformed other countries in tackling the pandemic, despite the fact the U.S. has the most confirmed cases (more than 5.7 million) and most confirmed deaths (more than 176,000) of any country in the world.
The enduring Trump mystery: What would Trump do in a second term? (Politico)
Looming over his speech is the pandemic and the way it has upended life and decimated the economy — Trump frequently boasts that he can resurrect America’s finances but is evasive about the rising coronavirus caseload, insisting Americans should start to resume their lives. [...] Fallout from the coronavirus, which has put millions of people out of work, is taking away the president’s plan to campaign on declining unemployment, a focus that helped incumbents like Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush win reelection. [...] Yet there has been frustration among some Trump allies that the president remains too focused on things not related to the coronavirus or the economy, like his ongoing fixation with the Russia probe and evidence-free allegations of a government plot to undermine his campaign.
posted by katra at 9:57 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


‘Think of your life just prior to the plague’: Trump celebrates renomination in Charlotte (Politico)
In the moments after his adopted home state of Florida awarded him its 122 delegate votes, Trump took the stage inside the Charlotte Convention Center — encouraging supporters to chant “12 more years” and urging Americans to “think of your life just prior to the plague.” In his speech, Trump positioned himself as uniquely situated to guide the nation through a recovery from the pandemic, making no mention of his administration's widely criticized handling of the coronavirus or of the hyperpartisan atmosphere that has seized Washington since he assumed office.

[...] The president claimed that were it not for the coronavirus pandemic — an ongoing public health crisis that has killed more than 170,000 people, cratered the U.S. economy and imperiled Trump’s electoral prospects — Americans would still be enjoying what he recalled as an era of unmatched achievement and civic goodwill. [...] Trump appeared intent on Monday to cast the coronavirus as the only obstacle preventing him from restoring and reunifying the country — all while speaking dismissively of the pandemic’s threat and deflecting blame for its massive toll onto Democrats. Trump contended that “most of the country” is “doing very, very well” with regard to the coronavirus, and he pledged that Americans will “soon see vaccines pouring out.”
Republicans nominate Trump for re-election on first day of convention (Guardian)
The physical layout of the Republicans’ Charlotte event reflected months of negotiations with state health officials, who insisted on coronavirus mitigation measures. Delegates were arranged in rows of spaced tables facing an understated stage with flags against a blue curtain. But not every picture broadcast concern about the pandemic. Although attendees were required to undergo testing and masks were required, many delegates wore theirs on one ear or under their chins – or wore no mask at all.
posted by katra at 1:21 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


"...encouraging supporters to chant “12 more years” "

Has it really become that naked? And that's not being treated as the bigger issue than ignoring the virus?

I know that it's been proven again and again that Trump supporters can't be reasoned with using facts, that they like him just because and literally nothing he does or doesn't do is a problem for them - but how can we ever fight this?
posted by Mchelly at 2:15 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]


Has it really become that naked? And that's not being treated as the bigger issue than ignoring the virus?

The way the game is played is, when you take it seriously, that's because you are insane with Trump Derangement Syndrome and you have wild fantasies that Trump would actually do that.
posted by thelonius at 2:27 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Are we going to make this a general Trump political thread? There were a bunch of other gems today...
posted by PhineasGage at 2:56 PM on August 24


I don't think so, no.
posted by jessamyn at 2:58 PM on August 24 [8 favorites]


Aw, fiddlesticks.
posted by Reverend John at 3:06 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


This is designed to be the potus-45/US/covid thread, and the general/worldwide/non-Trump covid thread is here.
posted by katra at 3:22 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


[Just to restate this in mod voice: this is a thread about COVID and US response to COVID, it's not a catchall US politics thread and shouldn't become one. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:40 PM on August 24 [8 favorites]


Trump questions election integrity as he’s renominated (AP)
“The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” Trump told hundreds of Republican delegates gathered in North Carolina, raising anew his unsupported concerns about Americans’ expected reliance on mail voting during the pandemic. Experts say mail voting has proven remarkably secure. [...] The president has sought to minimize the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and he barely addressed it on Monday, but its impact was plainly evident at the Charlotte Convention Center, where just 336 delegates gathered instead of the thousands once expected to converge on this city for a week-long extravaganza. Attendees sat at well-spaced tables at first and masks were mandatory, though many were seen flouting the regulation.

Trump also panned the state’s Democratic governor for restrictions put in place to try to prevent the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 175,000 people in the country and infected millions. The president accused Gov. Roy Cooper of “being in a total shutdown mode,” and claimed the restrictions were aimed at trying to hurt his campaign. Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said she had “shared concern about the lack of mask wearing and social distancing in the room” with RNC staff and had “been assured that they are working hard to address these issues.”
Guardian: Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, repeatedly shook hands and kissed cheeks at the president’s event in North Carolina today, raising concerns about the Trump team’s coronavirus safety protocols. Meadows was not wearing a mask
posted by katra at 3:43 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


You can get reinfected with Covid-19 but still have immunity. Let’s explain. A 33-year-old man was confirmed to be reinfected with Covid-19. This likely isn’t as bad as it sounds.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:57 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


In lieu of a party platform, Republicans express ‘strong support’ of Trump. (NYT live blog)
The Republican National Committee said that it was forgoing a new platform because fewer people were attending the convention this year because of coronavirus restrictions, and it “did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement.” The Democrats, who held their convention remotely, nonetheless adopted a new platform last week.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump released a list of broad statements about his agenda for a second term, under the heading “President Trump: Fighting for You!” They included promises of millions of new jobs, a vow to “hold China fully accountable for allowing the virus to spread around the world” and a “return to normal in 2021.”
Democrats are ‘using Covid to steal the election,’ Trump says in an inflammatory R.N.C. speech. (NYT live blog)
While the Democrats at their convention last week made the death toll from the pandemic — now past 175,000 — a centerpiece of their case, and tried to lay the blame for it at Mr. Trump’s feet, the president mentioned the virus’s victims almost as an afterthought at the end of his rambling, nearly hourlong speech. “We will never forget the 175,000 people — that will go up,” he said, adding the toll would have been millions more without travel bans he implemented.
posted by katra at 4:05 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


A judge struck down a state order requiring most Florida schools to open for in-person instruction. (NYT live blog)
A Florida judge ruled on Monday that the state’s requirement that public schools open their classrooms for in-person instruction violates the Florida constitution because it “arbitrarily disregards safety” and denies local school boards the ability to decide when students can safely return. The ruling was a victory for the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, and one of its affiliates, the Florida Education Association. The unions sued Gov. Ron DeSantis and Richard Corcoran, the education commissioner, last month in the first lawsuit of its kind in the country. [...] “The districts have no meaningful alternative,” Judge Charles W. Dodson of the Leon County Circuit Court wrote of the rest of the state’s schools. “If an individual school district chooses safety, that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county, it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught.” Later Monday, the state filed an appeal to the ruling, prompting an immediate stay.

[...] During a three-day hearing last week, the unions presented testimony from public health experts and teachers concerned about risking their health. One teacher said he would quit to avoid exposure to the virus. Another, who is quadriplegic, said he could not afford to leave his job, though his doctor had warned him that Covid-19 would threaten his life. “In a pandemic, none of these things are great victories, but it is a reprieve for human life,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “It is a pushback on reckless disregard of human life. It is a pushback on politics overtaking safety and the science and the well-being of communities.”
posted by katra at 4:41 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


A 33-year-old man was confirmed to be reinfected with Covid-19. This likely isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Toward the end of that same Vox article: Could asymptomatic infections spread the virus? Unclear.

It may also depend on how often reinfections lead to more clusters of cases. A few days ago, I asked Shane Crotty, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, about this very scenario. “Could there be an ‘immunity’ scenario,” I asked, “where, after having recovered from Covid, a person could get infected again but not feel sick at all, and also be able to spread it?”

“It is a good question, and the answer is that no one knows,” Crotty replied. “There are cases with other diseases where asymptomatic immune people can be infectious. There is definitely a lot to learn still about immunity to SARS-CoV-2.”

-

In New Mexico, a federal investigation found that Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque "violated patients’ rights by singling out pregnant Native American women for COVID-19 testing and separating them from their newborns without adequate consent until test results became available," per ProPublica's Aug. 22 follow-up to its June article, "A Hospital’s Secret Coronavirus Policy Separated Native American Mothers From Their Newborns": Pregnant Native American women were singled out for COVID-19 testing based on their race and ZIP code, clinicians say. While awaiting results, some mothers were separated from their newborns, depriving them of the immediate contact doctors recommend.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:14 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]



You can get reinfected with Covid-19 but still have immunity. Let’s explain. A 33-year-old man was confirmed to be reinfected with Covid-19. This likely isn’t as bad as it sounds.

From the article, to explain why it likely isn't as bad as it sounds:

On this topic of reinfection, we can be reassured: The report, if corroborated, is in line with what immunity experts have been telling us is possible with this virus. The most important detail: The man was not symptomatic during his second infection, which shows that his immune system did respond to the virus.

“This is no cause for alarm,” Yale immunologist Akiko Iwasaki tweeted about the new results from Hong Kong. “This is a textbook example of how immunity should work.”




Apparently they detected the infection during a COVID screening because they man was traveling. If he hadn't been screened, we might not have known about the infection. As the excerpt Iris Gambol printed about above indicates, the big question is how contagious these reinfections are.

Reposted link to Vox article

Personally, in the absence of a vaccine, I think its likely SARS COV-2 would become one of the commonly circulating coronaviruses that cause relatively mild cold-like symptoms in humans. After the original SARS, it was suggested that the "Russian flu" of the late 19th century might have been caused by one of those coronaviruses jumping to humans.

Did a coronavirus cause the pandemic that killed Queen Victoria's Heir?"

The study was led by Belgian biologist Leen Vijgen and her team’s results were published in the Journal of Virology several years ago. Their work, which has re-emerged with the appearance of Covid-19, suggests the coronavirus linked to the 1890 outbreak is likely to have leapt from cows to humans before spreading worldwide. In the case of Covid-19, it is thought bats were the source of the virus.

The Vijgen argument is based on the close genetic match between the human coronavirus OC43, a frequent cause of the common cold, and another coronavirus that infects cows. By studying mutation rates in the two viruses, researchers concluded they probably shared a common ancestor from around 1890, indicating the virus jumped from cows to humans at that time. Thus, that year’s epidemic “may have been the result of interspecies transmission of bovine coronaviruses to humans,” the researchers say.


Luckily, this adds to a growing list of evidence that suggests to me that even a vaccine that doesn't offer complete protection from SARS-COV 2 infection will nevertheless dramatically reduce infection severity and likely will increase the number of people who never experience symptoms.
posted by eagles123 at 6:46 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Case of man reinfected with coronavirus stokes immunity fears (Guardian)
A young man has been diagnosed with coronavirus more than four months after he recovered from a first episode of the disease, suggesting that immunity to the virus can be short-lived and raising more questions about vaccines against Covid-19. [...] Dr Kelvin Kai-Wang To and colleagues say people who have recovered from Covid-19 should not be assumed to be immune. They should still be offered vaccination, once it is available, and should also comply with mask-wearing and social distancing restrictions.
Additional sources and discussion have been posted in the worldwide covid thread.
posted by katra at 7:22 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


RNC tries to reshape Trump’s handling of the pandemic (WaPo live blog)
Early in Monday’s Republican Nation Convention, organizers tried to reshape the view of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, painting his administration’s response as a roaring success despite a summer resurgence in infections and deaths that led to the reimposition of restrictions in Southern and Western states. For at least 40 minutes, speaker after speaker praised the president’s handling of the health and economic crises, making exaggerated claims about the levels of testing and personal protective equipment used by first responders. Several video images cast Democratic governors as the ones to blame for the haphazard response.
Guardian: Tonight’s attacks on Democrats for downplaying coronavirus have caused some to do a double-take, as Donald Trump has been consistently dismissing it for months, and doing very little to stop its spread. MSNBC even had to cut away at one point, and have a doctor provide a fact-check of one segment:
MSNBC (@MSNBC) Dr. Vin Gupta on coronavirus statements at #RNC2020: "For anybody listening to what the RNC is doing right now, it's all propaganda. There's no truth to it." pic.twitter.com/Di1KDePntI August 25, 2020
posted by katra at 7:40 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]


How Trump’s win-at-all-costs vaccine strategy could backfire (Politico)
“If a vaccine isn’t trusted, it’s not going to be used. And if it’s not used, it’s not effective,” said John P. Moore, a vaccine expert at Weill Cornell Medicine who has worked for years on developing an HIV shot. “[Trump is] completely missing the point — the point is that the FDA exists to give the public confidence that the product they are being asked to take is safe and effective.”

[...] Concerns about a so-called October Surprise, or Trump declaring vaccine victory weeks ahead of the upcoming presidential election, have percolated for months as he alternately downplays the pandemic and assures the public it will soon be resolved. [...] The nuance of working vaccines is lost on the press briefing stage, where Trump appeared without administration scientists for weeks before Hahn accompanied him Sunday to tout convalescent plasma. While the therapy is considered safe, plasma has not yet been proven effective against the coronavirus. The president said otherwise; Hahn did not correct him. [...] In that press briefing, Hahn also overstated the benefits of plasma, saying it would result in far more lives saved than the data indicated. The comments, which drew wide rebuke from the medical community, were also amplified on Twitter by numerous administration officials, including spokespeople for the FDA, HHS and Vice President Mike Pence. More than 24 hours later, Hahn on late Monday night issued a mea culpa on Twitter, saying criticism of his statements on plasma’s benefits "is entirely justified."

[...] The availability of a Covid-19 vaccine this year is one bullet point on a short list of goals for the Trump reelection campaign. As the president’s campaign heads into the Republican National Convention this week, experts are raising alarms that the political rhetoric will only increase.
Some Trump administration claims on effectiveness of convalescent plasma are wrong or dubious, scientists say (WaPo)
The FDA declined to answer questions Monday about Hahn’s statement. But the controversy comes at a particularly fraught moment. In recent weeks, Hahn has been trying to convince the public that the FDA will make upcoming coronavirus vaccine decisions based only on data and science. Scientists say it is a dangerous time for the FDA to take a hit to its credibility.
posted by katra at 8:19 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Biden, Democrats focus their RNC counterattack on Trump's 'failed' COVID-19 response (NBC News)
Democrats didn't engage with the red meat GOP speakers tossed to the virtual crowds and instead just referred back to the chaos they say Trump has caused in office. "What they (voters) will hear from Donald Trump this week are the last things our country needs: more desperate, wild-eyed lies and toxic division in vain attempts to distract from his mismanagement," said Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Democratic nominee. "What they won't hear is what American families have urgently needed and been forced to go without for over seven consecutive months: any coherent strategy for defeating the pandemic."
Fact check: Trump Jr. praises father's fast response to COVID-19 threat. The U.S. lagged. (NBC News live blog)
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, said Monday night that as the coronavirus "began to spread, the president acted quickly and ensured ventilators got to hospitals that needed them most.” He claimed that Trump “delivered PP and E to our brave frontline workers” and that “he rallied the mighty American private sector, to tackle this new challenge.”

Doctors, public health experts and a prominent Republican governor on the front lines of the pandemic have sharply criticized how slowly the Trump White House responded to the coronavirus, including the delays in the distribution of ventilators and personal protective equipment. Trump Jr.'s remarks omit Trump's own comments from January to March, months in which the president downplayed the threat and predicted the virus would disappear — time public health experts have contended cost the U.S. in terms of all-important testing. [...] In April, most Americans agreed that that Trump was too slow in his initial response to the threat, according to Pew Research.
posted by katra at 8:55 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


USA Today, Aug. 24 headlines:
California's air quality is worse than India's. That's not good in a pandemic
RNC live: Republicans spent much of Day 1 defending Trump's response to coronavirus
It's crucial to get a flu shot this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, doctors say

From Friday, Aug. 24: Churchill Downs will no longer allow fans at the 146th Kentucky Derby, though the storied horse race will be run.

In an about-face, Churchill Downs announced on Friday that it is not allowing fans because of growing concerns about how to keep a crowd safe, even with social distancing rules in place, during the growing coronavirus pandemic. [...] The decision to run the Sept. 5 races without fans also applies to the Kentucky Oaks and all live racing at Churchill Downs during Derby Week. Tickets for all races and related programming will be automatically refunded, the race track said in its announcement. On Aug. 12, Churchill Downs released a 62-page operations plan that limited attendance for the Derby to fewer than 23,000 guests.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:18 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Fact-checking the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention (WaPo)
President Trump’s son overstates the impact of Trump’s actions. On Jan. 31, the president announced that effective Feb. 2, non-U.S. citizens were barred from traveling from China, but there were 11 exceptions. [...] The virus was already spreading through the United States, and there is little evidence the travel restrictions saved lives, especially because the Trump administration did not rapidly set up an effective testing regime like many other countries.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump, GOP distort on health care, vote fraud (AP)
[Trump] didn’t shut down travel from China. He restricted it. [...] Additionally, more than 27,000 Americans returned from mainland China in the first month after the restrictions took effect. U.S. officials lost track of more than 1,600 of them who were supposed to be monitored for virus exposure.
Fact-Checking Day 1 of the Republican National Convention (NYT live blog)
Many people in New York, for example, were infected by travelers returning from countries in Europe. President Trump did not block travelers from most European countries until March — long after New Yorkers had already begun traveling home with the virus in tow.
posted by katra at 7:27 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


RNC tries to rewrite pandemic history, casting Trump as decisive leader (Politico)
[Trump] talked to one man who got the coronavirus and asked him what medications he took. “I won't even ask you about the hydroxychloroquine,” Trump said, referring to a malaria drug that has been discredited as a coronavirus therapy, which Trump had continued to support and even took himself despite mounting evidence that it didn’t help. “It's a shame what they did to that one.”
F.D.A. ‘Grossly Misrepresented’ Blood Plasma Data, Scientists Say (NYT, Aug. 24, 2020 / MSN reprint)
“For the first time ever, I feel like official people in communications and people at the F.D.A. grossly misrepresented data about a therapy,” said Dr. Walid Gellad, who leads the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh. It is especially worrisome, he said, given concerns over how Mr. Trump has appeared to politicize the process of approving treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus. [...] On Monday, the chief scientist for the World Health Organization, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said at a news conference in Geneva that only a few of these convalescent plasma trials had reported findings, and that the trials had been relatively small. “The results in some cases point to some benefit but have not been conclusive,” she said. “At the moment it’s still very low-quality evidence.”
posted by katra at 8:07 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Oleandrin: Trump allies pitch extract from poisonous plant to fight Covid (Guardian)
Allies of Donald Trump have promoted a plant extract called oleandrin to people seeking to ward off Covid-19. The plant the extract is derived from, oleander, is poisonous and there is no proof the compound is either safe or effective to treat or prevent Covid-19, experts say. But unlike other unproven and potentially dangerous Covid-19 “cures” pitched by Trump and his supporters, including the prescription antimalarial hydroxychloroquine, experts fear this compound could easily reach the public as a dietary supplement. [...] While pharmaceutical companies must show the FDA drugs are safe before they go to market, dietary supplements are considered “food” in the US and thus must be proven unsafe before they are removed from the market. Because of this regulatory structure, [Martin Ronis, a professor in Louisiana State University’s department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics,] said it would be possible for the company behind the plant compound – Texas-based Phoenix Biotechnology – to bring the extract to market. [...] One of Phoenix’s board members is Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump backer, pitchman, and CEO of MyPillow. Lindell chairs Trump’s re-election effort in Minnesota.

[...] Oleandrin has not been approved to treat any medical disorder. The supplements industry has also opposed introducing oleandrin to the market. “The unanimous opinion is that this is a stupid idea and no one should allow an oleander supplement to get close to their mouth,” ​said Loren Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance, in a statement to a trade publication. Phoenix Biotechnology has released only one study on oleandrin’s use against Covid-19. The study was published in what is called a “pre-print”, which means it is not peer-reviewed. Two of the authors had a financial stake in Phoenix Biotechnology. The study, called an “in vitro” study, examined oleandrin’s effect on monkey cells in the laboratory. [...] Phoenix has conducted two clinical trials for safety of oleandrin in cancer treatment, but both were small. [...] The company appears to be moving ahead in its efforts to monetize oleandrin. The “pre-print” was published on 15 July. The company filed for patents in the US on 18 July and earlier in Australia. The American patent was reportedly granted on 29 July, and Phoenix told the US Securities and Exchange Commission it received $5m from a single, unnamed investor on 7 August.
posted by katra at 8:59 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I think they do this on purpose, to delight in the deaths caused by taking the thing they know is dangerous. Cruelty is the point. And they get to tout "cures."
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:26 AM on August 25


“The unanimous opinion is that this is a stupid idea and no one should allow an oleander supplement to get close to their mouth,” ​said Loren Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance, in a statement to a trade publication.

Of course, neither the United Natural Products Alliance nor the Natural Products Association went so far as to actually say that the government should regulate the sale of oleandrin-containing products. That would get uncomfortably close to their own golden geese.

Also: imagine the movie Contagion except it's the president hawking forsythia on social media while claiming that his own government is trying to keep it from you.
posted by jedicus at 9:32 AM on August 25 [11 favorites]


I think they do this on purpose, to delight in the deaths caused by taking the thing they know is dangerous.

I think that's too complicated, and posits far too much clue.

I don't think they actually think it is dangerous, even though oleander is notoriously toxic.

I think giving these people credit for knowing that oleander is notoriously toxic is too generous.

I think everybody involved, from Trump on down, is completely devoid of critical thinking skills. What they do instead of considering the evidence and the quality of the evidence is talk amongst themselves and sell each other on the Boneheaded Notion of the Day, then reflexively take any pushback from anybody who doesn't appear to be 100% on board as a politically motivated attempt to discredit. This reflex response solidifies both the internal credibility of the BNotD and the perception that those pushing back against it are political enemies.

This kind of You're Either With Us Or You're With The Terrorists thinking style is, it seems to me, the most plausible way to account for the manifestly obvious overlap between Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists.
posted by flabdablet at 10:39 AM on August 25 [5 favorites]


Nah, it seems like plain old nastiness to me. Someone in the administration has to float this stuff. And not all are as stupid as Trump.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:43 AM on August 25


Someone in the administration has to float this stuff.

Quite a lot of it seems to float into the administration via Fox News, which many of the people who work for it still appear to believe has something to do with journalism.

And yes, there are some indisputably horrible people associated with this administration, but for most of them I still think deep incompetence is a better thumbnail description than overt malice.
posted by flabdablet at 10:46 AM on August 25


Yep.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:47 AM on August 25


RNC night one: Republicans argue only Trump can save America (Guardian)
The “campaign said the convention would be about hope and light but so far most of the speeches are extreme fear porn”, one veteran Republican presidential campaign operative told the Guardian. A video of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic featured multiple Democratic governors complimenting Trump and the federal government, editing out the fierce criticism of the administration’s response from those same speakers.
posted by katra at 10:48 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Extreme weather threatens pandemic response in hard-hit states (WaPo, Aug. 23, 2020 / reprint)
Two tropical storms are expected to strike the Gulf Coast in rapid succession this week, compounding public health concerns in states fighting to keep new coronavirus cases down after a surge of infections earlier in the summer. [...] “It should not be lost on any Louisianian that in addition to twin tropical weather threats, we still have to deal with the covid-19 pandemic,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who requested a federal emergency declaration from the White House on Saturday. “Covid-19 does not become less of a threat because of tropical weather.” As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a state disaster declaration, he told reporters on Sunday that the Texas military division was preparing to operate mobile coronavirus testing squads, sheltering teams and disinfection teams.

[...] California is facing a similar crisis, with some of the largest wildfires in the state’s history raging around the Bay Area. Residents are packing into shelters, virus testing centers have been forced to close, and teams of prisoners who typically help fight the blazes are not available after the inmates were released because of the virus, which has infected more than 650,000 people in the state.
Hundreds of thousands ordered to flee coast ahead of Laura (AP)
More than half a million people were ordered to evacuate the Gulf Coast on Tuesday as Laura strengthened into a hurricane that forecasters said could slam into Texas and Louisiana with ferocious winds, heavy flooding and the power to push seawater miles inland. [...] Officials urged people to stay with relatives or in hotel rooms to avoid spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. [...] Shelters opened with cots set farther apart to curb coronavirus infections. People planning on entering shelters were told to bring just one bag of personal belongings each, and a mask to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
posted by katra at 11:37 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Beleaguered Texas Republicans' latest threat: Coronavirus (Politico, Aug. 24, 2020)
Democrats are looking to flip as many as seven GOP seats, spanning the suburbs from San Antonio to Dallas to Houston, with several more in play that were hardly seen as competitive a few months ago. But the coronavirus, which has killed more than 11,000 Texans and infected a half million more, has permeated the tightest races on issues from mask orders to health insurance to school openings, according to candidates and strategists in Texas. [...] The state’s shift from a conservative bedrock to a major political battleground can be attributed to a mix of GOP retirements, changing demographics and a suburban revolt against President Donald Trump. But the coronavirus is further scrambling the landscape for Texas Republicans, who for decades made up one of the most powerful, tight-knit delegations in Congress. The state is still battling alarmingly high infection rates — among the worst per capita in the country — even as some key metrics, like hospitalizations, have begun to improve. [...] Democrats have also campaigned on the fact that the Texas Republicans are leading a lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — during a pandemic — in a state that already has the highest number of uninsured people.
‘It’s been Covid, Covid, Covid’: Pro-Trump super PAC plans ad blitz on the economy (Politico)
Even as voters cope with the ongoing blows from Covid-19, [America First Action, the largest super PAC supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection,] is betting that most Americans will still vote their pocketbooks this November — supporting the candidate they believe is best equipped to rebuild an economy that has been devastated by coronavirus-related shutdowns and faltering consumer confidence. Next week, the PAC will launch an $18.6 million ad buy across North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania questioning Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s plan to fix the economy. [...] With U.S. unemployment still sitting at its highest level in decades, the September ad buy is a telltale sign of which swing states are giving Trump allies anxiety after Biden rocketed to the top of national polls earlier this summer and surpassed the president in states Trump won narrowly in 2016.
posted by katra at 1:36 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Universities sound alarm as coronavirus cases emerge just days into classes — 530 at one campus (WaPo)
More than 500 cases at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Nearly 160 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Dozens at the University of Southern California. Colleges and universities that brought students back to campus are expressing alarm about coronavirus infections emerging with classes barely started and raising the possibility that everyone could be sent home.

“The rise we’ve seen in recent days is unacceptable, and if unchecked, threatens our ability to complete the rest of the semester on campus,” University of Alabama President Stuart Bell said at a news conference Monday, five days after classes resumed, as the mayor of Tuscaloosa temporarily closed bars and warned the local health system could become overwhelmed. [...] Speaking Monday, Bell declined to blame young people’s lack of caution and emphasized that it is on the university to work with everyone to minimize infections. “Our challenge is not the students,” Bell said, though he acknowledged multiple students are facing discipline for breaking coronavirus rules. “Our challenge is the virus.”

[...] The University of Missouri described a “new normal” as campus reopened — from thinned-out lecture halls to an educational campaign from student leaders and influencers — but found itself with 159 coronavirus cases among students by the first day of class.
posted by katra at 1:44 PM on August 25 [7 favorites]


Guardian: Kudlow downplays ongoing financial consequences of the pandemic
White House senior adviser Larry Kudlow praised Trump for acting “swiftly and effectively” to save the US economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Eerily referring to the pandemic as if it were over, Kudlow warned that Joe Biden’s economic policies would “pick the pockets of taxpayers and drain money from their wallets and purses”. The message struck many as odd, considering the US unemployment rate is currently at 10.2%, and tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed because of the financial effects of the pandemic.

Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) Larry Kudlow is out here making stuff up. This didn't happen. pic.twitter.com/sywd5yPI3v
August 26, 2020
Larry Kudlow gave Trump exaggerated credit for coronavirus relief efforts. (NYT live blog)
Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, in a speech at the Republican convention on Tuesday boasted that President Trump had led an “extraordinary rescue” to “successfully fight the Covid virus” and save the U.S. economy — failing to mention that the virus was still raging, and glossing over the immense unemployment and economic pain that the coronavirus crisis has created. [...] Like other speakers at the convention, Mr. Kudlow appeared to refer to the pandemic in the past tense. “It was awful. Health and economic impacts were tragic. Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere,” he said, before adding that “presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively.”
posted by katra at 7:33 PM on August 25


Melania Trump’s Unique Role at the R.N.C.: Expressing Sympathy on the Virus (NYT)
She used [her headlining speech] as an opportunity to acknowledge the lives lost to the coronavirus, in the middle of a convention where most of the speakers were addressing the pandemic in the past tense. Speaking directly to Americans who lost a loved one to the virus, Mrs. Trump told them, “you are not alone.” She acknowledged that “the invisible enemy swept across our beautiful country and impacted all of us.”
Guardian: Melania Trump appears to be the first speaker tonight to offer sympathies to Americans suffering through the coronavirus pandemic – a reality that her husband, his administration officials and supporters have denied.
“I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically,” Melania Trump said. “My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers with those who are suffering.”
posted by katra at 8:04 PM on August 25


COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act (Time Magazine, Aug. 25, 2020) Many diseases, including COVID-19, infect most effectively at close proximity. Since droplets are visible and fall to the ground between 3-6 feet, we can readily see and understand this route of infection. In fact, it was thought for decades that tuberculosis was transmitted by droplets and fomites, based on ease of infection at close proximity, but research eventually proved that tuberculosis can only be transmitted through aerosols. I believe that we have been making a similar mistake for COVID-19.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:08 PM on August 25 [5 favorites]


Additional sources and discussion about aerosol transmission from several sources have been posted in the worldwide covid thread.
posted by katra at 8:43 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


People who need to take medication for high blood pressure appear to have improved survival rates for those suffering from COVID-19 and a less severe infection, according to new research from a team of scientists at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. and published Monday in the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports*, a bimonthly peer-reviewed medical journal. (MarketWatch, Aug. 24, 2020) The researchers studied 28,000 patients taking antihypertensives — a class of drugs that are used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) — and said the risk of death and a severe response to coronavirus infection was reduced for patients with high blood pressure who were taking Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB).

*Effect of Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System Inhibitors in Patients with COVID-19: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of 28,872 Patients
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:01 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


That study seems relevant to other blood vessel-related science news posted in the worldwide covid thread.
posted by katra at 9:09 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


How the RNC Is Erasing the Pandemic (Russell Berman, Atlantic)
Never has the simple tense of a verb revealed so much about a political party—or seemed so plainly out of touch with reality. [...] If the pandemic were truly in the past, however, Kudlow would have been delivering that message to a packed, roaring crowd at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Instead, Kudlow was speaking from a wood-paneled room at his home in Redding, Connecticut—a rural community with a population of fewer than 10,000 in one of the few states that has brought the coronavirus outbreak under control. He introduced himself as someone familiar to viewers who have seen him frequently “on TV and radio,” but so too was the tableau: a talking head surrounded by book shelves and the comfort of a home it is not safe to leave. The myth that Trump vanquished COVID-19 and launched the nation into what Kudlow called “a V-shaped economic recovery” is central to the president’s reelection pitch, and it’s been a theme of the convention so far. That gobsmacking framing is belied by the 1,147 Americans who died from the disease today alone, by the 36,679 who tested positive for it, and by the huge swaths of the country where the virus’s uncontrolled spread has closed schools and businesses alike.

[...] Kudlow’s rosy speech was just one small example of how Republicans have tried to downplay, if not outright erase, the pandemic from the public consciousness during the convention. Until First Lady Melania Trump devoted the opening of her speech to the pandemic—even referring to it in the present tense, notably—the virus received only glancing mentions during most of the speeches, and those speakers who did allude to it spoke, as Kudlow did, of recovery more than they did of an ongoing crisis. Masks were nowhere to be found—not on any of the speakers, nor on Trump or any of the varied people he appeared with, in close contact, at the White House. [...] Trump is down in the polls, and the public overwhelmingly disapproves of his response to the pandemic. He seems to be making a risky bet that in a mere two months, reality will catch up to his vision of a cured America, and that the virus he has wished away will not be a present-tense part of voters’ lives. But tonight, the dissonance between how the president and his advisers see this pandemic and how it continues to ravage the country was apparent in more than the slippage of tenses or a grisly set of statistics: It was inherent in the virtual convention itself.
posted by katra at 9:24 PM on August 25


The CDC quietly modified coronavirus testing guidelines to exclude people who are asymptomatic, potentially limiting our understanding of the true scope of the virus (Business Insider, Aug. 25, 2020) Last week, the World Health Organization said the virus is mainly being spread by young people who are unaware that they are infected. In July, the CDC itself said that 40% of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and that the transmission rate from those who show no symptoms was 75%.

CDC Guidelines, "Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)" updated Monday, Aug. 24, 2020
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:33 PM on August 25 [5 favorites]


The CDC quietly modified coronavirus testing guidelines to exclude people who are asymptomatic

It seems the CDC is simply acknowledging the awful truth that the Trump administration is never going to provide them adequate testing capacity to support contact tracing and quarantine. So they are restricting testing to only the most acute cases to prevent backlogs. They've just resigned themselves to the unpleasant situation and given up.

Trump said it out loud -- "Slow down the testing."
posted by JackFlash at 9:49 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


Their Friday advice update eliminating 14-day self-quarantining after travel, when all the mask-less RNC delegates were descending on DC (only to head home after this week), was a pretty gross abdication of duty.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:57 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


That study seems relevant to other blood vessel-related science news posted in the worldwide covid thread.

katra, back in June I'd posted about problems with studies relying on Surgisphere data. A New England Journal of Medicine study had indicated blood pressure meds didn't worsen COVID-19 outcomes, and that study had an "Expression of Concern" issued for it. I was cheered a bit by this large meta-analysis, and wanted to include it in the US thread even though this study's from the UK.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:04 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Oh! I appreciate the additional background, and I do admire your laser focus on exposing corruption - I saw the study as further evidence that could be relevant to a larger discussion that has been happening in the worldwide covid thread about the nature of the coronavirus. In the worldwide thread, the science tends to get more of an opportunity to shine, because it is specifically designed to avoid all things Trump, while this thread has a focus on the impact of Trump and the US experience.
posted by katra at 10:17 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


How the RNC Is Erasing the Pandemic

Ta-frickin-da. Biden's camp put out a statement about how the RNC/Trump isn't presenting any plans for COVID, without even a nod to the fact that Trump is presenting it as a non issue. Remember, anything that doesn't benefit Trump must be destroyed. Every failure will simply not exist.
posted by rhizome at 2:06 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


How Mike Pence slowed down the coronavirus response (Politico)
[...] interviews with 21 people involved with Pence’s coronavirus task force painted a detailed picture of the vice president, who will formally accept his renomination at the Republican National Convention Wednesday, as he steered the administration’s evolving response to the pandemic. [...] Many said Pence’s consensus-building approach drained urgency from the mission, pitted interests against each other and gave inappropriate weight to opinions outside the public health realm. For instance, Pence quickly expanded the size of the task force, roping in agencies and officials who had little connection to public health. He then initiated a process in which each participant had roughly equal opportunity to air their views, while the vice president and his staff — who had little experience in public health — struggled to chart a way forward amid the competing interests. In some cases, they said, Pence felt pressure to appease Trump as well. [...] “By the time we locked down the cruise ships [on March 14], it was too late,” said one former official involved in the task force meetings. “The entire country was seeded with virus.”

[...] Trump spent much of late February and early March issuing wild and inaccurate claims about the outbreak, such as repeatedly telling the nation that the virus would soon disappear — a promise that his vice president would find impossible to keep. [...] On March 3, there were about 100 confirmed cases in the United States. By March 12, there would be more than 1,500 confirmed cases and about 40 confirmed deaths — with tens of thousands of other infections going undetected, scientists now believe. [...] “Everything had to go through the task force so people who should not have had a voice at the table — Homeland Security, CBP, Education, Commerce, all these other people who don’t have a reason — are suddenly killing ideas from health experts during a pandemic,” said a former official who attended the meeting. “Everyone had an equal say when they shouldn’t have. And it slowed the process.” [...] Two people involved in the task force’s development of new public health guidance also described a process in which Pence’s office frequently stepped in to revise guidance that was already being revised by other agencies, leading to days of delays as the documents ping-ponged back and forth. That’s continued across the summer and hampered the ability to speed the ever-evolving public health advisories to Americans, they said. “They’re making edits on edits,” one individual said. “I don’t know if Pence knows how often White House officials spend weeks fighting over CDC guidance.”
posted by katra at 7:34 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]


The CDC quietly modified coronavirus testing guidelines to exclude people who are asymptomatic

It's curious that Trump requires asymptomatic people in the White House and anyone who gets within 20 feet of him to be tested daily.

"Testing for me but not for thee."
posted by JackFlash at 10:17 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities (NYT) (WLNS6 report)
As college students and professors return to campus in the midst of a pandemic, coronavirus cases are turning up by the thousands. A New York Times survey of more than 1,500 American colleges and universities — including every four-year public institution, every private college that competes in N.C.A.A. sports and others that identified cases — has revealed at least 26,000 cases and 64 deaths since the pandemic began. Many colleges have reported major spikes in recent weeks as dorms have reopened and classes have started.

[...] This data shows where the virus has been identified over the course of the pandemic, not necessarily where it is prevalent now. The Times has counted more than 20,000 additional cases at colleges since late July. Many of those are new infections from this month, but others may have emerged earlier in the pandemic. Some universities just started reporting data, and The Times contacted others for the first time in August. [...] With no national tracking system, colleges are making their own rules for how to tally cases. While this is believed to be the most comprehensive survey available, it is also an undercount.
posted by katra at 10:35 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Democrats seek to prevent Trump from rewriting his performance on the pandemic (WaPo live blog)
The Democratic Party’s top Congressional leaders on Wednesday focused attention on the administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to prevent Trump from rewriting how it performed on the issue. [...] [Senate Minority Leader Charles] Schumer said Republicans “have spent their convention trying to paper-Mache over reality” in a bid to “cover up the fact that Donald Trump has failed to contain covid-19.” [...] Schumer accused Trump of downplaying the virus and ignoring the advice of experts. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered a similar message about Trump. “He is about chaos. We’re about science,” Pelosi said.
Crowd of 1,000 expected for Trump’s nomination acceptance speech (WaPo live blog)
It was not immediately clear what steps the White House might take to ensure the safety of attendees amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, attendees seated “in the rows near the President and vice president" were tested before Melania Trump’s speech, the first lady’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN.
Masks and social distancing are mostly absent from Republican convention events. (NYT live blog)
No masks when Mr. Trump recognized frontline workers. No masks when Mr. Trump presided over a naturalization ceremony. No masks during the made-for-TV pardoning of a former inmate. And when Melania Trump, the first lady, gave a keynote speech on Tuesday night in front of a crowd in the White House Rose Garden, very few members of the audience wore masks. The attendees, who the White House said had been tested for the virus, also did not practice social distancing. The Republican convention has not been completely devoid of masks. On Monday in Charlotte, N.C., all of the 336 delegates who took part in nominating Mr. Trump were required to wear masks.
posted by katra at 11:33 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


I've been following up on South Dakota COVID-19 cases since Sturgis. (Yes, I know the bikers came from far and wide to where they returned, but at least one firestorm of infections could be the hosting state.)

Sturgis rally: Aug. 7 to Aug. 16.

New cases in South Dakota for the seven day period week ending:

Aug. 8 650 new cases
Aug. 15 669 new cases
Aug. 22 1002 new cases.

North Dakota (nearby)
Aug. 8 906 new cases
Aug. 15 936 new cases
Aug. 22 1292 new cases

Wyoming (nearby)
Aug. 8 244 new cases
Aug. 15 214 new cases
Aug. 22 316 new cases

The testing rate has remained roughly even in each state from the first week to last.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:18 PM on August 26 [7 favorites]


Trump officials pressured CDC to change virus testing guidelines (Politico)
Top Trump administration officials involved with the White House coronavirus task force ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Protection to stop promoting coronavirus testing for most people who have been exposed to the virus but aren't showing symptoms, according to two people with knowledge of the process. [...] Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said the change could send the wrong message. "I'm worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern," Fauci said in a statement read by CNN's Sanjay Gupta on-air Wednesday afternoon. "In fact, it is." [...] Other public health experts questioned the scientific basis for the testing changes, which they said could make it harder for the United States to contain its outbreak — especially with students heading back to schools and universities across the country in the coming weeks.
Fauci says he 'has some concern' about change to COVID-19 testing guidelines (NBC News)
"It truly makes no sense," Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, said. "The CDC itself estimates that 40 percent of people with coronavirus are asymptomatic. And if we are unable to identify asymptomatic individuals, we cannot stop this pandemic." [...] Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, suggested the guidance was "dangerous." "If we're not testing these people, they will infect others, and the viral transmission and outbreak will only get worse over time," he said.

[...] Doctors on the front line acknowledged that testing people too early after an exposure could provide a false sense of security. "Even if you get a negative test result, it doesn't get you out of quarantine," said Dr. Christopher Ohl, a professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He and other public health experts encouraged people to quarantine for the full 14 days after being in close contact with an infected person.
posted by katra at 4:08 PM on August 26 [4 favorites]


Pence speech-goers won’t be tested for coronavirus beforehand (WaPo live blog)
The hundreds of attendees at Pence’s speech tonight will not be tested beforehand for the coronavirus. Instead, they will have their temperatures checked and answer questions about their health before entering, a person with knowledge of the process said.
More than 100 coronavirus cases in 8 states linked to massive Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota (CBS News)
So far, state health departments have reported 103 cases in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Washington, according to the AP [...] On August 7, the first day of the rally, South Dakota had 9,371 total confirmed coronavirus cases. South Dakota now has 11,505 cases, according to state health data on Wednesday.
posted by katra at 5:23 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]


I've been following up on South Dakota COVID-19 cases since Sturgis.

NBC Boston: 6 NH Residents Test Positive for COVID After Attending Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
posted by adamg at 6:33 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Fact Checker: Pence dramatically overstates impact of Trump’s ‘China ban’ (WaPo live blog)
“Before the first case of coronavirus spread within the United States, President Trump took the unprecedented step of suspending all travel from China. That action saved an untold number of American lives.”

[...] Pence greatly overstates the impact of Trump’s action, which did not halt all travel from China and was not much different from what other countries did. [...] The New York Times estimated nearly 40,000 people traveled from China to the United States in the two months after Trump imposed restrictions on such travel — and at least 430,000 people have arrived in the United States on direct flights from China before the restrictions. The virus was already spreading through the United States, and there is little evidence it saved lives, especially since the Trump administration did not rapidly set up an effective testing regime like many other countries.
“No who required a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States.” (NYT live blog)
— Vice President Mike Pence
False. Hospitals across the nation experienced ventilator shortages when inundated with coronavirus cases in the spring, prompting local leaders to plead with the federal government for assistance.
Guardian: "Pence also took issue with Joe Biden’s comment last week that “no miracle is coming” to save the US from the pandemic."
posted by katra at 8:16 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]


“Before the first case of coronavirus spread within the United States, President Trump took the unprecedented step of suspending all travel from China. That action saved an untold number of American lives.”

First confirmed case in the U.S. was in the state of Washington from a patient returning from China on January 15. Case was confirmed on January 21. Trump did not issue his travel restrictions until January 31.

I think we can rate this as "Pence is a lying sack of shit."

This is the way it's going to be all the way to the election -- a total rewrite of history.
posted by JackFlash at 9:27 PM on August 26 [8 favorites]


Germany imposes tougher measures to curb coronavirus:
German leaders have announced they will extend a ban on major public events until next year, as part of a raft of measures aimed at reducing the number of coronavirus cases in the country...

Other measures include a minimum fine of €50 ($60) for anyone caught not wearing a mask in shops and on public transport as well as restrictions on smaller gatherings.

Private events are set to be limited to 25 participants, whereas celebrations outside private property could be restricted to 50 people.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:04 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


Idaho weighs whether to adopt new CDC testing guidelines (AP)
The CDC guidelines have drawn widespread criticism from scientists who said it runs counter to what is necessary to control the pandemic. [...] The American Medical Association in a statement called the change “a recipe for community spread.” And the Association of American Medical Colleges called it “a step backward in fighting the pandemic.”

[...] Experts say wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and staying quarantined after COVID-19 exposure are critical steps for stopping the spread of the virus. Now, more than six months into the pandemic, people weary of the rules could become complacent, especially as the number of new cases begins to flatten. “Don’t look at the recent trends and numbers and conclude that we’re winning,” Dr. Jim Souza, St. Luke’s Health System chief medical officer, said Tuesday. “Look at our recent trends and conclude that it’s working.”
NYT live blog: "The C.D.C. director backtracked on a recommendation advising some people — who were in contact with someone who had the virus — not to get tested. He now says “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.”"
posted by katra at 7:26 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


‘Nation of miracles’: Pence pledges coronavirus vaccine by year’s end (Politico)
“Last week, Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming,” Pence told supporters in his speech at the historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore. “Well, what Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles,” he said.
Chemical experts question EPA’s approval of coronavirus disinfectant (WaPo, Aug. 26, 2020 / Seattle Times reprint)
With great fanfare, the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday gave emergency approval to a disinfectant it said would kill the coronavirus on surfaces for up to a week. [...] But health and chemical experts say the cleanser might actually harm passengers and flight attendants and do little to protect against the virus, which is mainly transmitted through the air in closed spaces.

“It would be great if this was a miracle solution, but it’s not,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There’s plenty of risk here and too much we don’t know about how this chemical could actually harm people.” [...] People most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus — those with asthma, chemical intolerances or certain allergies — may have greater irritation from exposure to the disinfectant, according to Claudia S. Miller, an immunologist, allergist and professor emeritus at the University of Texas. SurfaceWise2′s data sheet labeled the percentages of the active ingredients “a trade secret.” But the document does share what the symptoms of exposure could be, including irritation, which could cause inflamed airways and increase risk of infection to viruses, Miller said.
posted by katra at 8:24 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


Harris excoriates Trump for coronavirus response: ‘He froze’ (WaPo live blog)
Kamala D. Harris offered a detailed prosecution of Trump’s response to the covid-19 pandemic Thursday afternoon, telling a room full of reporters and national television cameras that he “failed at the most basic and important job of a president of the United States — failed to protect the American people” from the novel coronavirus. Harris spent the majority of her first non-nomination-related speech excoriating the Trump administration’s failures in dealing with the covid-19 pandemic — a prebuttal, of sorts, for whatever Trump says about the issue when he accepts the Republican presidential nomination Thursday night. “The Republican convention is designed for one purpose: to soothe Donald Trump’s ego. To make him feel good,” Harris said. "But here’s the thing: He’s the president of the United States, and it’s not supposed to be about him.”

[...] “Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze,” Harris said. “He was scared, and he was petty and vindictive.” Harris then addressed Trump directly: “By its nature, a pandemic is unforgiving. If you get it wrong at the beginning, the consequences are catastrophic. And it’s very hard to catch up. You don’t get a second chance at getting it right,” Harris said. “Well, President Trump, you got it wrong from the beginning. And then, he got it wrong again and again. And the consequences have been catastrophic.”
Guardian: "As Harris delivered her searing criticism, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News all carried her remarks live."

CNBC Youtube: Kamala Harris speaks on Trump's Covid-19 agenda and economic fallout – 8/27/2020
posted by katra at 2:16 PM on August 27 [12 favorites]


Redfield issues a statement after a storm of criticism over the new C.D.C. guidelines involving potentially asymptomatic people. (NYT live blog)
The statement by [Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Dr. Robert R. Redfield was issued to some news outlets late Wednesday, and more broadly Thursday morning, after a storm of criticism over the new C.D.C. guidelines — involving potentially asymptomatic people — that were the product of the White House Coronavirus task force and not the C.D.C.’s own scientists. Dr. Redfield made the statement in an effort to clarify the new policy, an official said. However, the guidelines issued earlier this week remained on the C.D.C.’s website as of Thursday morning, and it appears unlikely that the agency will change them.
As virus rages, US economy struggles to sustain a recovery (AP)
In a question-and-answer session after a speech Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that “if we can keep the disease under control, the economy can improve fairly quickly.” But he cautioned that sectors of the economy that have been hardest hit, notably travel and tourism, will take longer to recover. “That is a lot of workers — we need to support them,” Powell said.
Guardian: Democratic congressional leadership and the White House are still at odds over the next coronavirus relief package.
[...] according to Pelosi, Meadows rejected Democrats’ compromise offer of a $2.2 trillion top line cost for the next relief package. “This is not about dollars, this is about values. These investments will not only help crush the virus, they will also help bolster the economy,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The Administration’s continued failure to acknowledge the funding levels that experts, scientists and the American people know is needed leaves our nation at a tragic impasse.”
posted by katra at 3:34 PM on August 27 [2 favorites]


More than 1,000 guests expected for Trump speech on South Lawn, where chairs are only inches apart (WaPo live blog)
The overwhelming majority of attendees at tonight’s South Lawn convention speech will not be tested for the novel coronavirus, campaign and convention officials say. More than 1,000 guests are expected on the South Lawn, where chairs have been placed next to each other, only a few inches apart, ahead of the president’s acceptance speech. A White House official said people expected to be close to the president for extended periods of time will be tested. An attendee on Thursday night said there was no temperature check or coronavirus test. Some guests arriving are wearing masks, but most are not, the attendee said. Two officials said it would be impossible to administer coronavirus tests to so many guests.
Guests for Trump acceptance speech get guidance, but not Covid-19 testing (Politico)
The “guest guidance” document obtained by POLITICO notes that audience members must wear protective face coverings upon their arrival at the White House, and in high traffic areas, but can eschew masks during the president’s speech — when cameras are likely to pan to the crowd gathered on the South Lawn.
Despite the virus, Trump will speak in front of a large crowd, seated closely together on the South Lawn. (NYT live blog)
“This is deeply irresponsible,” Ashish K. Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said of the images on Thursday. “It goes against all that we know about keeping people safe. We should expect better from our national leaders.”
posted by katra at 5:42 PM on August 27 [3 favorites]


New cases in South Dakota for the seven day period week ending:

Aug. 8 650 new cases
Aug. 15 669 new cases
Aug. 22 1002 new cases.

North Dakota (nearby)
Aug. 8 906 new cases
Aug. 15 936 new cases
Aug. 22 1292 new cases

Wyoming (nearby)
Aug. 8 244 new cases
Aug. 15 214 new cases
Aug. 22 316 new cases


I've just run the numbers for the week ending Aug. 22 and these three states rank one two and three for most new cases per million population. North Dakota has moved up to the second worse position for cases per population. Both North and South Dakota seem to be increasing even more this week. Wyoming is down.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:47 PM on August 27 [5 favorites]


Despite the virus, Trump will speak in front of a large crowd, seated closely together on the South Lawn. (NYT live blog)

Ever since this whole covid thing started, I have always made a conscious effort, any time I hear about gatherings which are so clearly unsafe, of not letting my brain go to a place of hoping people will get infected, or wishing it on them as punishment for their stupidity so that they'll finally get it.

Just this once I'm reeeeally tempted to make an exception, though.
posted by Mchelly at 5:49 PM on August 27 [9 favorites]


As my grandmother used to say, "Such a shame - it couldn't happen to nicer people..."
posted by PhineasGage at 5:58 PM on August 27 [4 favorites]


Relatedly: "Nearly every California GOP senator in quarantine after coronavirus exposure."
Nearly every Republican in the California Senate was forced to stay away from the Capitol on Thursday as they quarantined after coming into close contact with a fellow senator who later tested positive for the coronavirus...

The unprecedented move, during legislators’ pivotal final week in session, came a day after Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee (San Diego County), tweeted that he had been infected with the virus.

Republican senators gathered with Jones on Tuesday at a caucus lunch, where they removed their masks to eat, Capitol staffers said. Many also attended a Monday night social dinner where Jones was present.
posted by PhineasGage at 6:03 PM on August 27 [6 favorites]


What virus? At GOP’s convention, pandemic is largely ignored (AP)
“It is the height of hypocrisy for this self-proclaimed law and order president and vice president to flout my lawful Executive Order, dated August 7, 2020, intended to keep our residents safe during what continues to be a raging pandemic that they have politicized and failed to control,” [Baltimore’s mayor, Bernard C. “Jack” Young] said in a statement. [...] while Washington, D.C., mandates that masks be worn in public places, guidance sent to those invited to Thursday’s event specified that masks would not be required on the South Lawn [...]

“The president and the entire RNC, they had an opportunity to show the seriousness of this pandemic, which is the worst public health crisis in our lifetimes, and it’s extremely concerning that only did they not discuss precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, they are going against all of our public health guidance,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy at The George Washington University and the former health commissioner of Baltimore. Wen noted that mass gatherings pose the highest risk for transmitting the disease, and expressed concern both that Baltimore could see an increase in cases and that the display might lead viewers to believe that, they, too, can gather in groups and not wear masks.
Trump says goodbye to MAGA rallies (Politico, Aug. 26, 2020)
After he formally accepts the Republican nomination for president Thursday night, Trump will launch a general election campaign with a new playbook: short speeches, mostly outdoors, multiple times a day, with the occasional stop at a diner or store to greet people, minus the handshakes. Many of these events, described by four people familiar with the plans, will take place at airports. Trump will fly in on Air Force One to greet crowds of no more than a few hundred people, as his campaign playlist blares and U.S. flags wave around him. [...] He’s expected to travel a couple times a week, with the number of trips increasing as Election Day draws closer. [...] “He’ll dominate the local media market in multiple stops a day,” said a Republican who speaks to the president.
posted by katra at 7:26 PM on August 27


Jake Tapper had a good/horrific way of characterizing the situation this evening:
From the beginning of the GOP convention on Monday until 5 pm ET today, 3,688 people in the U.S. died from coronavirus. More than died on 9/11 -- just since the convention began.
posted by bcd at 7:53 PM on August 27 [7 favorites]


Guardian: Earlier today, four Latino advocacy groups circulated an “indictment” of the Republican party.
“With Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and the near-total capitulation of Congressional Republicans to his party takeover, today’s Republican Party is the party of white nationalists,” the statement reads. UnidosUS Action Fund, Voto Latino, League of United Latin American Citizens (Lulac) and Mi Familia Vota asked Republicans “who still believe in a bigger tent, an inclusive and unified society” to “reject blind obedience” to Trumpism. “The Latino community is hurting because of the horrible mismanagement of this pandemic by Trump, his administration, and those in the Republican party who enable them,” added Hector Sanchez Barba, the CEO of Mi Familia Vota, in a statement. “We must say Basta Trump this election cycle.” While the RNC did make a pitch to Latino voters this week, speakers ignored the unequal toll of the coronavirus pandemic on Latino Americans.
posted by katra at 10:27 PM on August 27 [6 favorites]


A senior White House official, according to Jim Acosta, explaining the lack of social distancing at the White House rally.

Everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.

I have no clue how this administration remains as popular as it is.
posted by rdr at 5:54 AM on August 28 [20 favorites]


4 people at the RNC in Charlotte test positive for coronavirus, county says (The Charlotte Observer)

"Two attendees and two support staff at the Republican National Convention tested positive for COVID-19, Mecklenburg County officials announced Friday morning.

Those people were instructed to isolate immediately, and close contacts were also told to quarantine, officials said in a statement.

The disclosures come after county health officials raised concerned about a lack of social distancing and mask wearing during the business meeting of the RNC in Charlotte on Monday — despite strict coronavirus protocols that were supposed to be followed."
posted by valkane at 7:33 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Everybody is going to die eventually: the new motto for the Republican party.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:40 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


> I have no clue how this administration remains as popular as it is.

If you're a member of the Trump Cult, the U.S. is Peaksville and Trump is Anthony.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:45 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Although I will continue to dolefully shake my head at these examples, there is of course a limitation to these "4 people tested positive after a gathering of knuckleheads this week" stories. People are getting infected all kinds of places, and infections identified yesterday could have occurred as long as 14 days ago.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:21 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I think the idea isn't that those four people necessarily contracted the virus at the event in question, but rather to highlight that there were at least four people at the event who likely already had the virus and were thus spreading it among the crowd.
posted by nobody at 9:31 AM on August 28 [18 favorites]


> A senior White House official, according to Jim Acosta, explaining the lack of social distancing at the White House rally.

>> Everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.

> I have no clue how this administration remains as popular as it is.


ooh ooh this is where i get to post the last line of walter benjamin's the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. one of his key arguments in this piece (written in 1936) was that communism aimed to politicize aesthetics while fascism aimed to aestheticize politics; regardless of what you think of actually-existing-socialism in the soviet union, you kind of have to admit that he had the fascists' number. anyway, the quote:

Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.

(emphasis added)

mad max: fury road (the best movie of the 2010s) showed this idea in the behavior of the war boys, and especially through how they'd shout "witness me!" right before doing something spectacularly stupid and suicidal. the dream of the fascist rank-and-file is to be witnessed by their fellow fascists (and especially by the führer himself) during the moment that fascism demands their deaths.

tl;dr: some people don't mind dying for their cause, or actively prefer dying for their cause, even (or especially) when we the outsiders recognize both the cause and the death as idiotic.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:04 AM on August 28 [21 favorites]


(i think it's telling that so many of the trumpists are contracting covid while out at bars, or at booze-soaked rallies like sturgis, since the contemporary american equivalent of "witness me!" is "hold my beer")
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:06 AM on August 28 [12 favorites]


This virus isn't (mostly) killing lunk-headed Trumpists. It is disproportionately killing minorities and poor.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:11 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


oh, certainly. that's the other side of "witness me!" — the aesthetic of destruction indulged in by the warboy, or the brownshirt, or the trumpist is always a destruction of both self and other.

and i'm not saying that the self-destruction angle is happening at a conscious level, not exactly, i'm just arguing that the potential for death that the maskless trumpist revelers expose themselves to is something that — whether or not they'd describe it in these terms — makes it even more appealing to them.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:47 AM on August 28


FDA ousts top spokesperson after 2 weeks (Politico)
[FDA Commissioner Stephen] Hahn officially removed [Emily] Miller, a fellow Trump appointee, from her post on Friday morning, ending a tenure that was marked by infighting and a damaging controversy this week over the FDA's emergency authorization of convalescent plasma as a Covid-19 treatment. [...] The FDA had also faced growing criticism over its hiring of Miller, a former reporter for far-right One America News who has no science or medical background, has worked in Republican politics and is known for her extensive writings on gun rights advocacy. The agency’s top communications role is traditionally filled by a career civil servant, and the job opening was initially listed as a role for career civil servants in April before being taken down.

[...] One of FDA's first communications rollouts during her tenure was the agency's emergency authorization of convalescent plasma, with the press release — billing it as "Another Achievement in Administration’s Fight Against Pandemic" — a breach of FDA's historic focus on science. In the wake of the plasma announcement, Miller fiercely defended Hahn’s misstatements, falsely asserting on Twitter that the treatment “has shown to be beneficial for 35% of patients.” Hahn has since apologized for overstating the benefits of the treatment, which has not been proven effective.
Previously: F.D.A. ‘Grossly Misrepresented’ Blood Plasma Data, Scientists Say (NYT, Aug. 24, 2020 / MSN reprint), Previously
posted by katra at 10:50 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


and i'm not saying that the self-destruction angle is happening at a conscious level, not exactly, i'm just arguing that the potential for death that the maskless trumpist revelers expose themselves to is something that — whether or not they'd describe it in these terms — makes it even more appealing to them.

Time once again to link to that terrifying Umberto Eco essay?

"In [the fascist] perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Falangists was Viva la Muerte (in English it should be translated as “Long Live Death!”). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death."
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:15 AM on August 28 [16 favorites]


Guardian: Harris hits Trump over lack of masks, distancing at convention speech
The California senator and vice-presidential nominee also discussed a national mask mandate she and Joe Biden have proposed. “It’s really a standard,” Harris told NBC. “I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on. Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ‘Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks?’ No.” The rule would instead be about “what we as responsible people who love our neighbor … have to do right now”, she said. “God willing, it won’t be forever.”

[...] Harris told NBC she and Biden would campaign “In every way we can, in a way that will be safe for the people that we are meeting with. It would be irresponsible of us to try and pack people into a situation where they cannot safely social distance. “And that’s one of the problems, frankly with the way Donald Trump conducts himself. Because it … appears to be more about the people around him and himself doing what is necessary to feed his ego as opposed to what is necessary to feed the needs of the American people.”
posted by katra at 11:32 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Hundreds of Thousands of Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able to Vote in November Because of the Pandemic (ProPublica, Aug. 26, 2020) Family and friends who helped them vote in prior elections can’t visit them — and may have taken ill or died from COVID-19 themselves. Swing states such as Florida and Wisconsin have suspended efforts to send teams to nursing homes to assist with voting. Despite a federal law that residents must be “supported by the facility in the exercise of” their rights, two states — North Carolina and Louisiana — prohibit staff from actively doing so. While many other states allow voters to appoint a helper of their choice, voting assistance may be a low priority for understaffed institutions struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks. And polling places are being moved from nursing homes and assisted living facilities to sites less affected by the virus.

This article tracks a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s vote by mail restrictions and ballot accessibility laws. One plaintiff was inventor Walter Hutchins, a nursing home resident: "Walter Hutchins cast his first vote for president for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, and he has voted in every election since. The last thing he wants is for his “68-year streak,” as he proudly calls it, to end in November." Walter, historically a registered Republican, has been married to Margaret, formerly a registered Democrat, for decades. "Today, Walter and Margaret are registered Independents; they declined to say whom they would support in November."
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:56 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


COVID-19 reinfection reported in Nevada patient, researchers say (NBC, Aug. 28, 2020) The case is detailed in an online preprint [with The Lancet], a study that has not yet been peer reviewed before officially being published. The case involves a 25-year-old man living in Reno, Nevada, who first tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-April. He recovered, but got sick again in late May. The second time around, his illness was more severe, the case report said. Researchers reported that genetic sequencing of the virus revealed that he had been infected with a slightly different strain, indicating a true reinfection.

His second bout of COVID-19 required hospitalization. In addition to the Hong Kong patient, two European patients, one in Belgium and one in the Netherlands, were also reported this week to have been reinfected with the virus; those three patients did not get sick the second time around, or they developed much milder forms of the illness than their first infection.

The six strains of SARS-CoV-2 (Science Daily, Aug. 3, 2020) Summary: The virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, presents at least six strains. Despite its mutations, the virus shows little variability, and this is good news for the researchers working on a viable vaccine.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:08 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Health agencies’ credibility at risk after week of blunders (AP)
Trump’s own factual misstatements about COVID-19 are well documented, but the back-to-back messaging blunders by public health officials could create new damage, eroding public trust in front-line agencies. [...] “I do worry about the credibility of the FDA and CDC, especially at a time when the capacity of the federal government to advance public health should be a priority for all policymakers,” said Daniel Levinson, the former longtime inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees both the FDA and the CDC.
Texas struggles with Covid tests as contact tracers bombarded (Guardian)
“It was never a situation we were gonna contact trace our way out of,” said Chris Van Deusen, the director of media relations at the Texas department of state health services (DSHS). “We were seeing so many cases throughout July that doing that alone wasn’t going to stop the outbreak from spreading.” Now, discrepancies between state and county data abound in Texas. Local contact tracers are bombarded by exponentially more confirmed cases than they are equipped to handle, and Texans are still struggling with the deceptively simple distinction of which test actually confirms whether they’re infectious. Some students are already heading back to campus, including the state’s gargantuan public universities, despite pushback from students and employees. Testing has dropped off in recent weeks, possibly because people are letting their guard down.
Tillis: 'I fell short' on mask wearing at RNC (Politico)
"Sen. Thom Tillis criticized folks for not wearing masks, until Washington Republicans were the culprits. His attendance last night shows North Carolinians that the rules don’t apply to his colleagues in Washington — and that his talk about fighting this pandemic is just that: talk," [former North Carolina state Sen. Cal Cunningham, a Democratic challenger for Tillis' Senate seat,] tweeted Friday morning.
posted by katra at 1:33 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Biden knocks Trump for holding ‘super spreader event’ (WaPo live blog)
More than 1,500 supporters gathered for Trump’s speech to cap off the Republican National Convention, and most were not wearing masks, even as they were seated closely together in white folding chairs. “Mr. President, Americans are canceling weddings and holding funerals without family,” Biden tweeted on Friday. “They’re sacrificing so more Americans don’t have to die. But instead of leading by example, you hosted a super spreader event on the South Lawn. When will you take the presidency seriously?”
Top general says no role for military in presidential vote (AP)
Faced with polls showing he is trailing Biden, Trump last month said it was too early to guarantee he’d accept the election results. [...] Trump later suggested that the election should be postponed, since the coronavirus pandemic has made it likely it could take days or weeks to count mail-in ballots. But that idea was immediately slapped down, including by top congressional Republicans, since the election date can only be changed by Congress.
posted by katra at 1:44 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Mostly maskless crowd awaits Trump in New Hampshire (WaPo live blog)
About 500 supporters crowded in an outdoor airport hangar here on Friday night ahead of President Trump’s appearances, with some people wearing masks but most choosing to go without. [...] Chairs were crowded together close to the stage, and attendees were not tested for the coronavirus, though at least some guests had their temperatures taken outside. Some volunteers handed out masks and water bottles near the entrance to the event. Boos rang out when an emcee encouraged people to wear masks. [...] The crowd was wildly enthusiastic, hollering and clapping for a woman in the front of the room who kept standing on a chair to rile them up and waving their “Make America Great Again” hats at the flag after the national anthem concluded.
When It Comes to Covid-19, Most of Us Have Risk Exactly Backward (Aaron E. Carroll, NYT Opinion)
My daughter argues that as long as she’s seeing all of her friends together in school, they should be able to gather together in their houses as well. Unfortunately, she has risk exactly backward. She’s not alone; lots of Americans do. [...] Too many view protective measures as all or nothing: Either we do everything, or we might as well do none. That’s wrong. Instead, we need to see that all our behavior adds up. Each decision we make to reduce risk helps. [...] But rather than focus on the cumulative benefits of individual actions, our attention too often rests on the few who refuse to act safely. [...] If we want to make it safer to send kids back to school, we might need to consider reducing the number of people who can drink in bars or eat in restaurants, for example. [...] Instead of asking why we can’t do certain activities, we might consider what we’re willing to give up to do them more safely. Even better, we might even consider what we’re willing to give up so others can do them, too.
posted by katra at 4:15 PM on August 28 [10 favorites]


Secret Service copes with coronavirus cases in aftermath of Trump appearances (WaPo)
When President Trump gave a speech to a group of sheriffs in Tampa late last month, his decision to travel forced a large contingent of Secret Service agents to head to a state that was then battling one of the worst coronavirus surges in the nation. Even before Air Force One touched down on July 31, the fallout was apparent: Five Secret Service agents already on the ground had to be replaced after one tested positive for the coronavirus and the others working in proximity were presumed to be infected, according to people familiar with the situation. The previously unreported episode is one of a series of examples of how Trump’s insistence on traveling and holding campaign-style events amid the pandemic has heightened the risks for the people who safeguard his life, intensifying the strain on the Secret Service. In the past two months, dozens of Secret Service agents who worked to ensure the security of the president and Vice President Pence at public events have been sickened or sidelined because they were in direct contact with infected people, according to multiple people familiar with the episodes, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the incidents.
Trump amplifies convention warnings about Biden in NH rally (AP)
Trump held a rally in New Hampshire on Friday evening as he continues to flout coronavirus guidelines and launches an aggressive travel schedule heading into the fall campaign as he looks to close Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead in public and private polling. [...] While the coronavirus kills 1,000 Americans each day, Trump defied his own administration’s pandemic guidelines on Thursday to speak for more than an hour to a tightly packed, largely mask-less crowd. In New Hampshire, a campaign advisory said masks for attendees are “required” in accordance with Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s executive orders, and would be provided. Similar indoor-outdoor rallies at aircraft hangars in recent weeks have seen limited compliance with face covering mandates. The event format has become the Trump campaign’s go-to amid the pandemic.
Biden, Harris prepare to travel more as campaign heats up (AP)
“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.” [...] “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.
posted by katra at 4:58 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


I'm really surprised that nothing has happened given the short-staffedness, financial abuse, and now coronavirus catching of the Secret Service.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:08 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Guardian: Meadows dismisses concerns about spread of coronavirus among convention crowd
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows dismissed concerns about the possible spread of coronavirus among the large crowd that gathered on the South Lawn last night to hear Trump accept the Republican presidential nomination. “I think the vast majority of Americans are more concerned about what’s happening in their backyard than the backyard of the White House,” Meadows told an NBC News reporter.
College towns growing alarmed over outbreaks among students (AP)
As waves of schools and businesses around the country are cleared to reopen, college towns are moving toward renewed shutdowns because of too many parties and too many COVID-19 infections among students. With more than 300 students at the University of Missouri testing positive for the coronavirus and an alarming 44% positivity rate for the surrounding county, the local health director Friday ordered bars to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close by 10 p.m. [...] “What we’re seeing in our violations is they’re coming late at night,” said Stephanie Browning, head of the health department for Columbia, Missouri. “Big groups gathering. They’re not wearing their masks, they’re not social distancing.”
posted by katra at 8:20 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


College towns growing alarmed over outbreaks among students (AP)

I am extremely concerned not only about colleges and universities heavily seeding the virus for a third wave but also for the devastation that their administrations are inflicting on the reputation of science. The very institutions where the majority of science is done are ignoring the science in the obvious pursuit of dollar bills. You though the "ivory tower" criticisms were problematic before? Just wait until the ivory towers have obvious responsibility for killing people in their towns and states. And don't think for a moment that Republican politicians and board members who pushed for them to reopen will defend them. They'll lead the attack. It's going to be a self-inflicted reputational blood bath.
posted by srboisvert at 6:20 AM on August 29 [15 favorites]


Trump still faces skepticism in suburbs following convention (AP)
Trump aides are warily watching the calendar as Labor Day approaches, concerned that the three-day weekend, traditionally marked by parties and sizable gatherings, could trigger a spike in infections just like they believe Memorial Day did at the other bookend of summer, according to three White House and campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
New York City nervously braces for another ‘explosive spread’ (Politico, Aug. 28, 2020)
[...] with cold weather approaching, schools tentatively reopening and many forced back indoors, the threat of a new outbreak is never far from the minds of public health officials — and this time they know outside help will be harder to come by. “The second wave is a misconception: It’s the omnipresent risk of explosive spread,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC director and current president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “That’s what we’re facing.” [...] “Given what’s happening nationally, I don’t think we’d have access to the same resources,” said Dr. Fritz Francois, chief medical officer and patient safety officer at NYU Langone Health.
Politico (updated Aug. 28, 2020) (Previously)
[Emily] Miller’s ouster came shortly after HHS officials separately canceled the contract of consultant Wayne Pines, who had counseled [FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn] on communications and had advised him to walk back inaccurate claims about convalescent plasma that he made in a press appearance with Trump on Sunday. But Hahn’s late-night mea culpa on Monday angered health department officials. After discovering Pines had aided that decision, they began the process of severing his contract, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The removal of Pines was "not routine," said the person, but a specific action driven by frustration over his advice that Hahn apologize.
posted by katra at 7:53 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


The removal of Pines was "not routine," said the person, but a specific action driven by frustration over his advice that Hahn apologize.

Keep in mind that these are the same Trump political people who are going to determine whether a vaccine is safe to release.
posted by JackFlash at 9:07 AM on August 29 [8 favorites]


I just finished up another blog post about state-by-state case and test rates.

I noted here that North and South Dakota were way up since the Biker's Rally at Sturgis. I included data through today for them and their case rates have gone through the roof, nearly tripling for South Dakota and nearly doubling for North Dakota.

Event: Aug. 7 to 16th.

New cases in South Dakota for the seven day period week ending:

Aug. 8 --- 650 new cases (6944 new tests)
Aug. 15 -- 669 new cases (7877 new tests)
Aug. 22 -- 1002 new cases (7986 new tests)
Aug. 29 -- 1807 new cases (8876 new tests)

For North Dakota

Aug. 8 --- 906 new cases (11182 new tests)
Aug. 15 -- 936 new cases (10778 new tests)
Aug. 22 -- 1292 new cases (10893 new tests) (second highest rate per population among U.S. states)
Aug. 29 -- 1748 new cases (10709 new tests)
(I don't have all the data from other states to rank this number, but it would be first in the nation per population if it were this week.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:46 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Wayne Pines seems to be a standard FDA consultant, not a wacked out Trump appointee like Emily Miller:

Mr. Pines formerly was Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs at the FDA. He also served as Chief Media Spokesman for the FDA for seven years, and as FDA's Director of Consumer Education and Information. He founded FDA's award-winning consumer magazine, FDA Consumer.

I assume Pines was fired in retaliation for advising to fire Miller (?).
posted by benzenedream at 8:18 PM on August 29




After much fanfare about its launch, the vaccine trial for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County is on pause because of "political pressure," its principal investigator says.
The vaccine was developed by AstraZeneca and scientists at England’s Oxford University. One among many vaccines currently in Phase 3 trials, the AstraZeneca vaccine appears to be especially hopeful because it not only creates antibodies to block the virus, but it also creates T cells that could destroy it.
posted by adamvasco at 11:38 AM on August 30 [5 favorites]


On the coattails of dances_with_sneetches's excellent (and petrifying) post: As of two days ago, Colorado attributes more than 20 local COVID-19 cases to the Sturgis, SD 10-day motorcycle/super-spreader event, and "At least eight other states have reported COVID-19 cases linked to Sturgis, bringing the known total to more than 100 so far" (CBS Denver). The South Dakota DoT final tally for vehicles (not only bikes) entering Sturgis for the 80th annual rally: 462,182. CBS reports that figure is "down only 7.5% from the previous year." (Most of the time, Sturgis has a population of 7,287, making it the 15th largest city in the state. Demographically, South Dakota is about 85% white and Sturgis is even more so at 95%. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe denies Sturgis bikers entrance [through the reservation] to fight coronavirus, The Hill, Aug. 10; COVID-19 and Native Americans in South Dakota.) The DoT figure is one of five sources used to calculate the total number of rally attendees.

South Dakota sees 343 new COVID-19 cases Thursday; Recent data under-reported due to ‘reporting aberration’ (Dakota News, Aug. 27) The South Dakota Department of Health reported its biggest one-day increase in new COVID-19 cases yet on Thursday, recording 343 additional cases. Health officials also said a data aberration led to under-reporting case numbers over the previous two days - adding 280 more total cases to Tuesday and Wednesday’s tally.[...] Officials also confirmed more cases related to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Clayton said 88 people associated with the rally have tested positive. This only includes South Dakota residents, and does not factor in people from outside the state who may have been infected at the rally.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:38 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, I forgot that South Dakota reports their data using information from the previous day. For the week ending Aug. 29 they had even more cases than I reported above: 2046 up from the previous week's number of 1002. The new tests were 8891, up from the previous week's total of 7986.

So South Dakota did more than double in a week.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:51 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Having spent a bit of time watching the webcams, and seeing maybe 8 people wearing masks in an hour and a half or so of watching, this was totally expected...
posted by Windopaene at 2:55 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


Update: it's now at least 123 cases(so far) and 1 death of Covid from 1 wedding in the small, isolated town of Millinocket, Maine. 60 guests (10 more than regulations allow), few masks.

There was a related outbreak(Staff and Residents) at a Rehabilitation Center in Madison, Maine and at the York County Jail, where the sheriff was not requiring guards, staff, or inmates to wear masks. The wedding officiant was the pastor of an evangelical church in Sanford, Maine that now has an outbreak of Covid cases. Six families from the church attended the wedding. Despite the outbreak connected to the church, Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford still held Sunday service.

There have surely been more than a few weddings or events where people ignored the rules, and this is a great example of why listening to epidemiologists and Governors with common sense is a good idea. Somebody just happened to bring Covid, and because Maine has been doing well, the spread has been obvious.
posted by theora55 at 7:00 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


New Trump pandemic adviser pushes controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy, worrying public health officials (WaPo, Aug. 31, 2020) The approach’s chief proponent is Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist from Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, who joined the White House earlier this month as a pandemic adviser. He has advocated that the United States adopt the model Sweden has used to respond to the virus outbreak, according to these officials, which relies on lifting restrictions so the healthy can build up immunity to the disease rather than limiting social and business interactions to prevent the virus from spreading.

Sweden’s handling of the pandemic has been heavily criticized by public health officials and infectious-disease experts as reckless — the country has among the highest infection and death rates in the world. It also hasn’t escaped the deep economic problems resulting from the pandemic. But Sweden’s approach has gained support among some conservatives who argue that social distancing restrictions are crushing the economy and infringing on people’s liberties.


For SARS-CoV-2, herd immunity is a homicidal strategy.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:39 AM on August 31 [8 favorites]


New Trump pandemic adviser Scott Atlas pushes controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy

A couple million dead? Atlas shrugged.
posted by JackFlash at 11:46 AM on August 31 [13 favorites]


according to these officials, which relies on lifting restrictions so the healthy can build up immunity to the disease rather than limiting social and business interactions to prevent the virus from spreading.

Ah yes, "the healthy." Is that people who are naturally resistant or immune, or just "people with health insurance?" What ain't eugenics is genocide, and that there are still people who push in that direction has to be seen as a failure of the global education system.
posted by rhizome at 11:46 AM on August 31 [6 favorites]


Florida's governor is pushing the Atlas method too (Orlando Sentinel, 8/31/2020). I'm high risk with preexisting conditions and multiple near-death experiences due to my crappy body crapping out on me. I wasn't supposed to live to see age 30, but I turn 40 next year. Now I'm afraid I'll never be able to go outside again at this rate.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:09 PM on August 31 [11 favorites]


Dr. Atlas’s most recent books include "Restoring Quality Health Care: A Six Point Plan for Comprehensive Reform at Lower Cost" (Hoover Institution Press, 2020, 2nd ed.) and "In Excellent Health: Setting the Record Straight on America’s Health Care System".
His six points:
Reform #1: Expand Affordable Private Insurance ["Let's reduce Obamacare's "minimum essential benefits"]
Reform #2: Establish and Liberalize Universal Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) ["HSAs will be automatically opened for everyone... extending uses to include elderly parents"]
Reform #3: Instill Appropriate Incentives with Rational Tax Treatment of Health Spending
Reform #4: Modernize Medicare for the 21st Century ["Reformed Medicare will contribute to the private health premium of the enrollee's choice."]
Reform #5: Overhaul Medicaid and Eliminate the Two-Tiered System for Poor Americans ["My plan transforms Medicaid into a bridge program geared toward enrolling beneficiaries into affordable private insurance"]
Reform #6: Strategically Enhance the Supply of Medical Care While Ensuring Innovation [Summary: Relax regulations and licensing standards]

Having fewer people in general will also drive down costs.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:11 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Prosecutors have dismissed a criminal charge against a southern Illinois man whom they accused of endangering public safety when he entered a busy gas station store after he was ordered to self-isolate because of coronavirus-like symptoms. (ProPublica, Aug. 31, 2020) Jason Liddle, of Richland County, had reported chest pains at a respiratory clinic in March, but was not tested for COVID-19. He posted his resulting mandatory isolation order on FaceBook; 3 days later, Liddle, driving to his in-laws with his family, stopped at the store so his four-year-old son could use the bathroom. A former high-school classmate working at the station remembered Liddle and his post and notified a supervisor, who then reported the 36-year-old Liddle.

At the time Liddle was cited, the case was thought to be the first of its kind. At least one more case has emerged since then. This month, Richland County prosecutors charged a woman with reckless conduct after she reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus and allegedly violated a stay-at-home order, according to news reports.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:18 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


"My plan transforms Medicaid into a bridge program geared toward enrolling beneficiaries into affordable private insurance"

otherwise known as letting everyone with expensive unprofitable preexisting conditions die on the hospital steps.
posted by benzenedream at 1:32 PM on August 31 [11 favorites]


While they're patting themselves on the back a little too hard, all things considered: University of Arizona Stops a Covid-19 Outbreak by Following the Feces (Smithsonian, Aug. 31, 2020) Some people infected with the novel coronavirus shed fragments of its genetic material in their feces, which can then be detected in wastewater even if they’re asymptomatic. This method can offer health officials an early warning because the virus may show up in sewage days before infected people show symptoms and submit themselves for testing. This monitoring technique has been used by cities and even national parks across the country and the world.

At the University of Arizona (UA), researchers were collecting samples of sewage from 20 buildings on campus as part of the school’s testing regimen as roughly 5,000 students returned to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year, reports Jaclyn Peiser for the Washington Post. This week, the technique detected coronavirus genetic material in the Likins dorm’s wastewater. On Wednesday the school tested all 311 people associated with the dorm. Those tests revealed two students who were experiencing asymptomatic infections, and UA swiftly quarantined them, per the Post.

posted by Iris Gambol at 4:47 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


"The United States has reported more than 6 million known coronavirus cases [including] at least 180,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Iowa averaged about 500 cases a day until last week, when daily totals rose to more than 1,000 cases for several days straight. Outbreaks at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are probably major contributing factors, epidemiologists say." (Washington Post, August 31, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:54 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


WTF NANCY?! (BBC)
A mask-less Pelosi captured on film at a salon that was supposed to be closed by ordinance.
posted by HyperBlue at 5:02 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


While they're patting themselves on the back a little too hard, all things considered: University of Arizona Stops a Covid-19 Outbreak by Following the Feces

Test poo-ling.
posted by srboisvert at 5:50 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I work at UA, and no kidding (patting themselves on the back a little too hard). The push for in-person classes has been very strong, and from the top, all summer. Thankfully while students are back in dorms, we're going into week three of all online classes unless taught outside in groups smaller than 10, sitting apart, or very spread out in person labs. Every student gets two UA branded masks, and a thermometer. My poor new student worker was told that he wouldn't have a roommate in his dorm room, and they sprung one on him second day of move in. He says that no one is following the rules limiting capacity in elevators, congregating without masks, etc. His roommate is now rushing, in person! and it's stressing him out.

If you look at my previous comments, you can see my ranting about how the testing is going (my lab was torn in half, lawsuits, incompetence) - thankfully even though we're a molecular lab, we're not doing the pooled sewage testing.

What I don't get is the number of students shopping maskless. We've had a mask ordinance for months now, and sure, maybe you've come from a state without one, but you were given so much information about how Tucson is 100% on masks. How do you not feel weird as the only ones without? Do you not see the huge signs out front of every entry way about mandatory masks? And stop partying! Look at ASU, already in triple digits of infections, almost entirely linked to house parties. Be a fucking citizen.
posted by lizjohn at 8:40 AM on September 2 [14 favorites]


I also work at a University (thankfully made the last minute call to go all virtual) and I definitely share your frustration with anyone, student or otherwise, that doesn't where a mask when appropriate.

I am reserving the vast majority of that anger for the University administrations, though. It's just foolish and irresponsible for Universities to be pushing the responsibility for not worsening a pandemic onto young college kids. Of course they are going to party. Of course they are doing to ignore social distancing rules. They are barely adults.

The Board of Directors should be shouldering the responsibility for keeping their communities safe, not throwing two masks and a thermometer at these kids and then blaming them when some subset inevitably act up. It's the most predictable thing in the world. I just hope they didn't slip in any liability shield language into financial aid / admission packages.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:21 PM on September 2 [11 favorites]


lazaruslong, absolutely! I 100% am not on board with what the University is doing irt to "welcoming" back the student community to live in dorms, eat university food, take virtual classes with the promise of in-person classes soon.

One of the welcoming back emails opened with the Mr. Rogers quote about "Look for the helpers" - it initially ticked me off, because college students aren't literal children, they are at the age where they should *be* the helpers. But also at the same time their brains haven't finished forming, they've been told by all campus authority figures that campus is safe, then I can easily see a rationalization that if I'm well behaved on campus, perhaps that allows one permission to relax a little (in the community).

One of the men high up on the "campus reopening committee" has an office in our cubical area. I just now heard him enter our office area and someone pipped up and asked him politely if he needed a mask, since he has now passed through 3 or 4 doors that asked for mandatory masks without wearing one. He said no, I have one in my office. This man is my boss' boss and makes 5X what I do, but us little guys still have to pester him to follow commonly agreed safety protocols. Sorry I feel like every comment I make just gets ranty.
posted by lizjohn at 12:58 PM on September 2 [9 favorites]


Gettysburg College quarantines all students to their rooms because of COVID-19 (PennLIve).

"To respond to the current situation, beginning immediately, we are moving to an all-student quarantine effective 10 p.m. tonight through at least the end of the week.”

"Ramsey said all buildings on campus will be closed and all classes and labs will be taught remotely.

"Students were told to stay in their rooms and leave only to get food, use the bathroom or go to a scheduled COVID-19 testing appointment."
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:53 PM on September 2


Oh hey, problem's solved: CDC tells states to prepare for 'large-scale' distribution of COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1. (NBC, Sept. 2, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:59 PM on September 2


A mask-less Pelosi captured on film at a salon that was supposed to be closed by ordinance.

Reminds me of the time I was on a team scheduled to fly home early in the morning before the chili dog place opened but we decided at 2 in the morning they we really wanted to have some dogs for the trip home, so somebody called up the owner of the restaurant and had them go in early and make us a bunch of chili dogs at 7 in the morning.

If there wasn't a pandemic on with an associated epidemic of people refusing to take precautionary measures, Nancy Pelosi paying someone to open up for her wouldn't matter. Unless it's being done for a lot more people than just her, the actual risk is pretty damn low. Unfortunately, we are in a situation where it is imperative that those in power lead by example and be seen to accept the inconvenience so that everyone else is encouraged to do the same.
posted by wierdo at 2:24 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


I mean, CA had opened hair salons, iirc. And that a millionaire can pay to have her hair done in a pandemic, not a surprise. The only reason we know Nancy walked from shampoo basin to chair with her mask off, is because the owner of the salon is a Magahadist and she was pissed that the stylist let Pelosi make an appt. The stylist said that 15 seconds was the only time that Nancy wasn’t wearing a mask, but the salon owner was selective in what footage she released. It’s just a hit job.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:15 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


On the plus side, maybe this will make the Democratic leadership finally realize that their opponents are operating in bad faith -- "my friends on the other side of the aisle" my ass. I genuinely don't think they've been taking any of this seriously enough.
posted by aramaic at 8:50 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


I mean, CA had opened hair salons, iirc.

Not in San Francisco. SFGate:
Pelosi told reporters at an event in Noe Valley on Wednesday that she was set up.

"I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I’ve been to over the years many times," the Speaker said. "And that when they said, 'We're able to accommodate people one person at a time, and that we can set up a time,' I trusted that. As it turns out, it was a set up, and I take responsibility for falling for a set up.”

She added, “I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up.”

Pelosi did not acknowledge that the arrangement she described is still a violation of the city's health order, as hair salons in the city are not allowed to serve anyone indoors, even one at a time.
As one of her constituents, I'm angry that nobody on her freaking team thought to check whether this was legal, or to consider the optics.
posted by Lexica at 9:26 AM on September 3 [10 favorites]


It does sound like the owner was a MAGA head and had a Fox news video ready to go immediately - she did set up Pelosi, but Pelosi should realize shit like this is going to happen and watch out for it.
posted by benzenedream at 10:03 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


The thing about the Pelosi story is, Fox and the republicans genuinely don't care that she went to the salon. As always, they care about the "hypocrisy" of it. When we pick up where they left off and get angry over what she actually did, it's yet another self-own that they set us up for.

The only response to their faux-outrage over something a democrat does wrong that's similar to what they do worse, is to turn it back into "since you think that's reprehensible, you must really hate how Trump is creating these superspreader events that violate the same laws, one after the other." We need to stop taking the bait.
posted by Mchelly at 11:18 AM on September 3 [20 favorites]


Why does Nancy Pelosi go to a hair salon that's owned by a MAGA head?

Nancy Pelosi has a whole lot more money than I do, and I switched to a different oil-change place after the old one started playing Fox News.
posted by box at 12:40 PM on September 3 [16 favorites]


Pelosi's relationship was with the stylist not the salon owner. Also, if you own a high-end hair salon in San Francisco you don't go around wearing your MAGA hat.
posted by rdr at 2:17 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Why does Nancy Pelosi go to a hair salon that's owned by a MAGA head?

Because it's in Cow Hollow, which is the part of SF where politicians and Republicans congregate.

The thing about the Pelosi story is, Fox and the republicans genuinely don't care that she went to the salon. As always, they care about the "hypocrisy" of it.

Republican are 110% made of poor character these days, so that's the basis of their attacks. Always be projecting. The aren't going to go after haircuts (or salons for that matter), because they like and use them. But attacking an opposing party's leader? HOW DARE SHE.
posted by rhizome at 3:13 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


I put up another weekly post with some more data on the Sturigs effect. I also did a ranksum analysis of red states versus blue states regarding new case rates (reds are higher), testing rates (no statistical difference) and positivity rates (reds are higher). This along with the case rates and rankings of all states through the week ending August 29.

I'm a little worried about my ability to keep this up. While I have a high tolerance for data-induced pain, I noticed I made about ten mistakes last week. (When I review a typical week I catch one or two). None of them mattered much (like less than 10% in the numbers), but these numbers are no good unless they are accurate.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:21 PM on September 3 [9 favorites]


It does sound like the owner was a MAGA head and had a Fox news video ready to go immediately - she did set up Pelosi, but Pelosi should realize shit like this is going to happen and watch out for it.

It really doesn't matter how aware you are or how much groundwork you do to prepare.

If an asshole Trump fan can't find a reason to complain, they'll just make one up. They are not acting honestly and in good faith.
posted by mikelieman at 4:37 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


We all appreciate your posts, dances_with_sneetches. An interesting, scientific, perspective I always enjoy reading.
posted by Windopaene at 4:50 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


This was inevitable and yet more reason for why the NCAA should just be shut down: Penn State doctor says 15% of Big 10 athletes with COVID have myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle.
posted by TwoStride at 6:47 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


The NCAA has no real authority. If the SEC, ACC, decide to go forward, there's nothing the NCAA can really do. Pac-12 getting tons of shit for putting off the season until the spring. Because look at the SEC...
posted by Windopaene at 10:19 PM on September 3


Per wordometer, the United States passed a grim milestone lat week.

Worldometer link

We're now ahead of the dreaded of the dreaded Sweden in deaths on a person person basis. You have to click on the header of the "death's per million" column to sort. Sweden is at 577; we are at 583 as of September 7th.

I thought maybe calculations comparing individual states with a dense urban area and a large rural hinterland might be a more apt comparison, so I calculated the per person rate of New York. I figured NYC might be analogous to Stockholm and upstate might be analogous to the rest of the Sweden. The results were .............. even more depressing. I didn't feel like looking at other states.

At this rate we'll soon pass Italy, the UK, and likely Spain. Only Belgium looks like it will have fared worse by the end of the year.
posted by eagles123 at 12:35 AM on September 7 [3 favorites]


So here in Seattle, some "Christian musician"/failed congressional candidate from California, who had a rally here recently, was planning another maskless "protest". So the city entirely shut down the city park, on Labor Day, where it was going to happen. So instead, they all gathered a few blocks away, to have their Christian maskless protest, because they have a right to worship as they see fit.

Christ, what an asshole...

If I lived on that corner, I would have had my hose running, with the sprayer attachment, for the entire "worship" session...
posted by Windopaene at 10:24 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


The protesters are clearly pro-droplet, so that would be just fine.
posted by flabdablet at 8:50 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]


The salon owner that set up Pelosi, has just made 300k on kickstarter based on that 10 seconds of film. The GOP are grifters all the way down.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:28 AM on September 8 [7 favorites]


Last month's Sturgis motorcycle rally was a super-spreader event, responsible for over a quarter of a million COVID-19 infections and about $12.2 billion in public health costs, according to a report from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, an independent economic research group. "That dollar amount is based on another estimation that an average of $46,000 is spent on each patient who tests positive for COVID-19. Researchers concluded that more than 266,000 cases were tied to the event attended by more than 460,000 individuals (The Hill, Sept. 8 2020). Over at US News & World Report, $12.2 billion = "This amount would have been enough to pay each rally goer over $26,000 not to attend, the report said."
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:22 PM on September 8 [9 favorites]


Pelosi should realize shit like this is going to happen and watch out for it.

Thing is, though, is that she broke a perfectly reasonable public safety law. It sucks that Dems are held to a higher standard, but it isn't a standard if we don't maintain it.

Pelosi just can't own up to anything she does wrong, and that's as much a problem as the salon owner who brazenly broke the same law.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:11 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Oh, my God, Pelosi can be found in one in one thousand photos without a mask. Trump can be found in one in one thousand photos wearing a mask.

I'm sorry, it's not about her breaking the rules. It's not just a higher standard, it's an impossible standard. If it wasn't Pelosi, the right-wing press would have found someone to make their poster-boy (girl).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:51 AM on September 9 [9 favorites]


And that the GOP has to sit around until some MAGA fan pops up with a security video they were monitoring for just such an opportunity tells me they really have nothing. How much of that $300K do you think is going to go to her out of work employees? Oh, but instead of a tragedy where she was trying hard to stay in business despite the TYRANNY of health regulations, they're probably now just a bunch of chair-renting 'independent contractors' she can write off as gig workers.
posted by rhizome at 11:38 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I would like to think that $300K is not going to make up for the fact that she will be losing her business due to no one wanting to be spied on while having their haircut.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:45 AM on September 9


Really? I like the place I (used to) get my hair cut. I hope they have cameras for security.
posted by rhizome at 11:47 AM on September 9


We're in the middle of a pandemic showing no sign of abatement. These public health measures are in place for valid reasons.

Those reasons are valid ethically — and even legally: court challenges across the US have given state governors wide brief to lock down public businesses.

Do we enforce these measures equally — is everyone accountable to the rules we make as a society to deal with an emergency — or do some people get to be above that?

The problem isn't whether Republicans regularly violate ethical-legal-societal norms — we all know that they do.

The problem isn't whether or not she wore a mask, or what FOX News or low-information Trump voters think about that.

The problem is that she chose to frequent a business that should not have been operating indoors, per the guidelines set up to keep infections down, and she's upset she got caught.

If she had went to a business that did not break the rules and had operated outdoors, this would not be an issue. She could have gone without a mask for however X number of minutes and it would have been just fine. It's not about the mask.

This is not "impossible" — this is just one small burden among several that everyone is supposed to share, and leaders are supposed to behave by example.

"Everybody does it" normalization will not help us get through a public health crisis. We already have enough video footage of people who storm into stores without protection, emboldened by choices made and behaviors displayed by politicians with poor impulse control.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:10 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


I'm not arguing that everybody does it is a justification.

I don't mean it is impossible for Nancy Pelosi to follow the rules. It is an impossible standard that no prominent Democrat will break them. That is what is being held up here. If not Pelosi, then Schumer, etc. . .

I believe the left sets near impossible standards and that plays into the right wing's playbook which says that we'll find someone, somewhere to disappoint you.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:20 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


It is both true that the Republicans are arguing in bad faith and that it is desirable for people in positions of power to model good behavior in these fraught times. Republicans are hypocritical ratfuckers nearly to a one, Pelosi is getting ratfucked, and she should have done better.

That said, it is not unreasonable to say that the primary focus of outrage should be businesses operating in violation of public health orders, not those patronizing said businesses. There is such a patchwork of regulation thanks to the federal government's refusal to lead that it takes a lot of effort to keep up with what is allowed at any given time in any given locality and those nearby. It isn't unreasonable for an individual to rely on the representation of a business as to what rules actually apply at any given time.

All of these things can (and are, to my way of thinking) true at the same time.
posted by wierdo at 1:31 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


The Washington Post has Trump on tape talking about his lies to the public regarding to COVID.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

-----

Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.

posted by paper chromatographologist at 2:13 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


Too bad it's paywalled. We all know the lies are still free!
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:58 PM on September 9


WTF is he doing chatting with Bob in March 2020, when "Fear: Trump in the White House" was published in Sept. 2018, and its sequel is due out later this month?
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:50 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


He's not very bright...
posted by Windopaene at 4:02 PM on September 9


Sweet honey in the rock, the two spoke eighteen times between December and July and Bob Woodward merely collected the various pieces of damning information for his book.

In New Orleans, hospitals sent patients infected with the coronavirus into hospice facilities or back to their families to die at home, in some cases discontinuing treatment even as relatives begged them to keep trying. (Pro Publica, Sept. 2, 2020) Nationally, coronavirus patients aged 85 and older died at home only 4% of the time, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; local coroner records show that in New Orleans, it was 17%.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:48 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Probably why they have so many deaths per 1M population. #5.

#1 in cases per million.
posted by Windopaene at 5:39 PM on September 9


too bad it's paywalled

cnn had some middling coverage and absolutely stunning excerpts from the recordings here.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:25 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I made an FPP about Woodward and Trump, Trump on Feb. 7: You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. He knew the novel coronavirus was highly contagious, transmitted asymptomatically, airborne, and posing a danger to all ages, all before the first day of spring.

Addressing the other COVID crisis: Corruption (The Brookings Institute, July 22, 2020)

Kids ravaged by COVID-19 show unique immune profile (Nature, Sept. 8, 2020) Most children infected with the new coronavirus show few signs of illness, if any. But a few children are struck by a severe form of COVID-19 that can cause multiple organ failure and even death. Now, scientists have begun to tease out the biology of this rare and devastating condition, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Doctors have diagnosed hundreds of cases of MIS-C, which shares some similarities with the childhood illness Kawasaki’s disease.

[...] researchers found that compared with children with Kawasaki’s disease, those with MIS-C have lower levels of an immune chemical called IL-17A, which has been implicated in inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Unlike all the other children studied, children with MIS-C had no antibodies to two coronaviruses that cause the common cold. This deficit might be implicated in the origins of their condition, the authors say.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:53 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


I've put up another week of new case rates, this time including graphs for testing rates, death rates and positivity rates.

The Dakotas, North and South, lead the nation in new cases per million population this past week.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:57 PM on September 10 [10 favorites]


Thank you, dances_with_sneetches.

As of today, that Aug. 7 wedding and reception in the Millinocket area of Maine has been connected to 161 cases and three deaths in the state -- it is the source of Maine's largest coronavirus outbreak. The recent COVID-19 outbreak in York County Jail (in Alfred) is linked to an employee who attended the wedding; it’s not clear if the other [smaller] outbreaks in that county are related to each other or to the Millinocket event. (Press Herald, Sept. 10, 2020).

Before COVID-19 swept through the York County Jail in what has now become the largest outbreak of the disease in a Maine correctional facility, its management didn’t require inmates or staff to wear protective face coverings. (Bangor Daily News, Sept. 3, 2020) Staff also weren’t regularly required to have their temperatures taken when they entered the jail, and now that the disease has run rampant, it’s not clear that the Alfred facility has anywhere else to send newly arrested inmates.

Those are among the factors that state corrections officials now say may have contributed to an outbreak that has infected at least 85 people connected to the lock-up, including 46 inmates, 22 staff and 17 of their household members, according to the latest state and county figures. [...] The Maine CDC now thinks the York County Jail outbreak originated after a worker returned from an Aug. 7 wedding in the Katahdin region that’s become the source of the state’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

posted by Iris Gambol at 4:15 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Agreed. Thank you d_w_ss

Just affirms everything I think about Sturgis, and Red State voters in general...

Ugh.
posted by Windopaene at 4:36 PM on September 10


And didn't mean to diss Red State residents who are actually trying.
posted by Windopaene at 3:00 PM on September 12


COVID-19 was in US as early as December, study says; NYC lockdown led to 70% drop in spread (USA Today, Sept. 15, 2020)

The study, out of UCLA: Excess Patient Visits for Cough and Pulmonary Disease at a Large US Health System in the Months Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Time-Series Analysis

Winter flu-like illnesses could have been COVID-19 (Medical News Today, Sept. 2, 2020) An analysis based on re-tested throat swabs from people in Wuhan, China, and Seattle, United States, suggests that thousands of people who had flu-like symptoms last winter could actually have had COVID-19.The researchers estimate that there were many undiagnosed COVID-19 cases in Wuhan and Seattle, WA, even before the implementation of lockdowns in these cities.

The study, led by The University of Texas at Austin: A study led by The University of Texas at Austin has applied a new method to estimate the early spread of COVID-19, which is based on the ratio of COVID-19 to influenza cases.

Pfizer reports 'potential' with COVID-19 candidate vaccine after expanding trial from 30,000 to 44,000 people (USA Today, Sept. 15, 2020).

AstraZeneca's UK trial was briefly halted, after a participant suffered spinal cord damage; Britain's regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, reviewed the case and has allowed the trial to resume in the United Kingdom. The company's US trial had just begun when that injury was reported, and it is still suspended: NIH 'very concerned' about serious side effect in AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trial (CNN, Sept. 15, 2020) The Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to follow British regulators in resuming a coronavirus vaccine trial that was halted when a participant suffered spinal cord damage, even as the National Institutes of Health has launched an investigation of the case. [...] A great deal of uncertainty remains about what happened to the unnamed patient, to the frustration of those avidly following the progress of vaccine testing. AstraZeneca, which is running the global trial of the vaccine it produced with Oxford University, said the trial volunteer recovered from a severe inflammation of the spinal cord and is no longer hospitalized.

The NIH has yet to get tissue or blood samples from the British patient [...] U.S. scientists could look at samples from other vaccinated patients to see whether any of the antibodies they generated in response to the coronavirus also attack brain or spinal cord tissue. [...] A volunteer in an earlier phase of the AstraZeneca trial experienced a similar side effect, but investigators discovered she had multiple sclerosis that was unrelated to the vaccination, according to Dr. Elliot Frohman, director of the Multiple Sclerosis & Neuroimmunology Center at the University of Texas.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:41 PM on September 15 [5 favorites]






Another week's report on COVID-19 infection, test and death rates in the U.S.

I also look at the question Is the United States Really Doing the Worst in the World in Containing the Virus?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:56 PM on September 18 [5 favorites]


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