As expected, the number of coronavirus cases continued to skyrocket yesterday.  In New York City the number more than doubled from 1,871 Wednesday to 3,954 Thursday, partly because more tests were becoming available, though still not nearly enough.  The Washington Post reported there were 14,000 cases in the USA as of last night.  Hospitals in New York City say they have two to three weeks of supplies on hand and are desperately trying to source more so they don’t run out.  Doctors in Boston are literally running out of protective gear and asking citizens if they have 3-D printers that might help them.  The White House continued to lie during their daily Covid-19 presser Thursday, saying that masks were coming, that gear was on the way, that tests were finally available.  But they clearly were not, at least on any meaningful scale.  Imagine a week from now when the case load has tripled.  Disaster.  All because of the incompetent and impotent Trump regime.  Trump’s job and the job of his HHS is to direct medical resources in a time of medical crisis, yet Trump flippantly said, “We are not shipping clerks.”  Trump’s refusal to acknowledge or respond to the crisis when it first emerged and his inability to manage a competent federal response now could amount to the most consequential failure in presidential history.

Meanwhile California issued a state-wide order for all citizens to stay at home except for essential tasks and emergencies.  California Governor Newsom wrote in a note to the White House that his experts predict as many as 56% of Californians, equaling 25.5 million people, could contract the virus.  (It’s not clear if that prediction took into account social distancing.)  If the worst case happened, at least 250,000 people would die, roughly 5 million would need hospitalization and 1.3 million would need ICU care.  These are staggering numbers that would crush the hospital system and perhaps dramatically increase the mortality rate above the observed rate in other nations of 1-3%.  Governor Cuomo has not yet instituted a formal stay-at-home policy, but many of our citizens are socially distancing in the same way, so we can only hope it bends the outbreak curve to produce a better outcome than the prediction in California.

The House coronavirus bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday was signed into law yesterday, offering paid sick leave, layoff benefits, and free testing.  The Senate yesterday released a follow-on coronavirus stimulus bill that aimed to send $1,200 directly to every American with income less than 75k last year, and also provided payments to small businesses, loans to devastated industries, and financial support for the healthcare industry.  Here’s a great summary of their bill from the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/19/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan-stimulus/

The most galling news to break yesterday was a report that North Carolina Senator Richard Burr and Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler sold stocks in the days and weeks after a closed briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on January 24th.  Burr’s sales included large positions in Wyndham Hotels and Extended Stay Resorts.  Burr then told a private meeting of wealthy constituents that the virus could be as contagious as the Spanish Flu and could crush business travel.  Senator Loeffler is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, married to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and their stock sales started the day of the briefing, though she insisted to the media that she has no control over her portfolio.  So it was just a lucky coincidence, right?  Both Senators continued to insist to the public that the coronavirus was being handled by the Trump team and was nothing to worry about.  Leoffler tweeted this on Feb 28th, long after selling millions in stocks:

“Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on the #coronavirus readiness. Here’s the truth: @realDonaldTrump & his administration are doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy & safe.”

It takes some gall to suddenly sell a bunch of stocks to avoid a pending market wipeout and then accuse others of hyping a crisis and misleading the public.  Both of these Senators should resign (and there were probably others who did the same thing), but they won’t because they are morally bankrupt and belong to a party that has become a soulless shell of its former self.  It’s not clear if their actions were illegal, but it is very clear that their actions were unethical and a betrayal of our citizens.  Public servants who put their own private interests before the health and safety of their constituents are despicable and undeserving of public office.  But this is who the feckless Republican party has become under a corrupt, lying president.  Favors for the wealthy insiders and the privileged, crumbs for everyone else.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his (corrupt) ass out of office.”

Have a safe weekend.

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