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Day 1167 – Trump Was Scared

After yesterday’s White House presser, several high-profile reporters remarked that for the first time Trump was scared.  He finally acknowledged that the best case scenario for the United States is between 100,000 and 240,000 fatalities from the virus, referring to the outbreak as a “plague” and saying the next two weeks will be really bad.  He did his usual blustering, boasting and blaming, but his overall demeanor seemed different.  He seemed to fully grasp what’s coming and knows he will be blamed for some of it.  This was in striking contrast to his determined claim just last week that we would be back to normal by Easter.

To combat the criticism that Trump wasted at least eight weeks calling the coronavirus a hoax and doing nothing to prepare, Trumpublicans were absurdly claiming that the impeachment trial was at fault, distracting Trump and his regime from the danger coming from China. If you hear anyone spreading this nonsense, be sure to mention that during the same period Trump held nine rallies and golfed at least six times.  Surely a stable genius can multitask!

In a tweet yesterday, Barack Obama made a subtle dig at Trump’s failure to respond while urging us to heed the warnings about coronavirus and climate change, referencing a story in the LA Times about fuel economy standards weakened by Trump:

We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall.  https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-03-31/trump-rolls-back-fuel-economy-standards

On the local front, New York City now has over 40,000 confirmed cases and the death toll was over 930–almost surely exceeding 1,000 by the time you read this–but hundreds of nurses and doctors from around the country are arriving at NYC hospitals to help with the tsunami of cases that will continue to grow and hopefully peak sometime in the next two weeks.

Dutchess County has also been seeing a steady rise in Covid-19 cases, closing in on 400 with three deaths thus far, the majority centered around Poughkeepsie.  The County has produced a very simple and informative coronavirus dashboard with daily updates and maps that you can find here:

https://dcny.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/8905f4428f3148d0bffd50a2f3e4db11

It seems likely that the CDC will urge all Americans to wear a mask while running essential errands, especially in places where it’s difficult to stay 6-feet away from others.  Since medical masks are in such dire shortage at the moment, it’s likely we will have to make or re-purpose our own.  The New York Times published a useful guide to this yesterday that you can find here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/opinion/coronavirus-n95-mask.html

Nobody is safe and nobody is protected from Covid-19 (except perhaps those who’ve already had it and recovered).  The CDC now says that at least a quarter of the people infected with coronavirus have no symptoms and don’t know they have it.  Most of the people who get it will be okay.  But one in five will need to go to the hospital, one in 20 will need to be in the ICU, and one in fifty will die.  Absolutely everyone should take this outbreak seriously.

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

 

 

Day 1166 – Another Embarrassing Presser

State governors around the country yesterday continued their call for supply coordination from the Federal Government, which still can’t get its act together to assess and deliver critical medical equipment, supplies and tests where they are most needed.  Hospitals in New York City are already overwhelmed and bracing for more cases, but it does seem that the stay-at-home policy is starting to slow the outbreak by reducing the rate of increase of new cases.  The death toll has yet to slow, with over 1,200 deaths in New York State thus far and over 66K testing positive. We still don’t know the full extent of the outbreak because tests are still not widely available but the testing situation is slowly improving despite the lack of competence from the Feds.

It’s hard to foresee how this will all end, but an excellent article in the New Yorker by Lawrence Wright takes a detailed look at different strategies to combat the virus, including vaccines, treatments and the use of blood plasma–which is likely the most promising tool we will have for a while:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/can-survivors-of-the-coronavirus-help-cure-the-disease-and-rescue-the-economy

It’s also worth noting that the scientific community has another new tool at its disposal that might eventually be a game-changer.  Several different labs including IBM and the US Government’s own NNSA are using their supercomputers–often linked with supercomputers in other labs–to try to design treatments for Covid-19. The virus’s genome has already been decoded and scientists are racing to identify compounds that will have the highest likelihood of slowing or deactivating it.

Trump tried again yesterday to beat back criticism of his delayed response to the outbreak, attacking and cutting off reporters at his daily coronavirus/campaign presser.  He also bizarrely invited Mike Lindell–the “MyPillow” Guy–to speak at the presser because Lindell kisses Trump’s ass.  It was embarrassing to watch. But with each passing day a new video appears from a progressive political group exposing Trump’s historic failure to act.  This video from CapAction (Center For American Progress Action Fund) appeared yesterday and it’s powerful:

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanProgressAction/videos/623289208252604/

We simply can’t let Trump get away with whitewashing his catastrophic failure to respond quickly and competently to the pandemic.  Trump was warned, he blew it off, he scoffed at this detractors, he called it a hoax, and now he’s saying that if we only lose 100,000 to 200,000 citizens it will be a big win for him. Outrageous. Video’s like the one above should fill the airwaves as we approach the 2020 election.

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

 

Day 1165 – Failure Of National Leadership

Last week much was made of Trump’s reckless desire to ‘get things back to normal’ by Easter.  But with coronavirus cases soaring, the death toll mounting, and hospitals in New York City (and elsewhere) besieged, Trump and his cabinet scrambled to keep a positive face on an outbreak out of their control. By Sunday, Doctor Fauci was explaining to Trump and the public that millions would probably contract Covid-19 and anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 would likely die.  In yesterday’s daily presidential presser and hate rally, Trump acknowledged that social distancing would need to continue until at least the end of April.  He also lost his cool with several reporters and hurled insults at them and their networks rather than answer basic questions about the competence of his response.  Across social media this weekend pundits and experts were excoriating Trump for botching this pandemic from the beginning and lying about it now.  Jeremy Konyndyk, who led our government’s response to international disasters from 2013 to 2017 as the head of USAid, including our response to the Ebola outbreak, said this:

“We are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times.”

Brett McGurk, a foreign affairs analyst who served under both Bush and Obama posted this on Twitter:

FailureToLead1

 

It’s an extraordinary statement, but it’s also an extraordinary graph.  South Korea and the United States learned about the outbreak in China at almost the exact same time.  And South Korea put their pandemic playbook into action: they mobilized their resources, produced medical supplies, and implemented widespread testing to flatten the curve and keep their outbreak isolated and under control.  Trump, in the other hand, whined about a hoax and wasted time while the virus took hold on our shores and ran rampant. An article in GQ this weekend by Julia Ioffe about domestic coronavirus testing companies reveals that testing professionals believe the highly contagious virus was spreading long before we thought:

“Northwell’s astronomical positivity rate–nearly 70 percent–across such a wide swath of the greater New York area indicates that the virus has been spreading and reproducing for weeks under the radar, and we’re only seeing a fuller picture now.”

It’s a depressingly informative article:

https://www.gq.com/story/northwell-labs-coronavirus

When nationally recognized policy experts and former insiders say things like “catastrophic failure of national leadership” and “greatest failures of basic governance” it should get our attention.  From the beginning Trump utterly failed in his duty to take this pandemic seriously and now we are locked into paying a heavy and tragic price. It’s even more disgusting and reprehensible that he now tries to play favorites with Federal aid to the states.  But pretty soon this outbreak will reach every corner of our nation and people who were told by Trump and the Fox Network that this was a hoax or “just a flu” are going to be negatively affected in ways that hadn’t imagined.

Meanwhile, many of our neighbors are out of work and terrified.  Most will be getting checks from the government–but not soon enough.  Our first priority is to look out for them and do what we can to ease the burden.  Donating to food pantries is a good start. It’s going to be difficult for landlords to evict tenants en masse, but if out-of-work people don’t have money or credit, they can’t eat, and this must be our biggest concern.

We are still closer to the beginning of this outbreak than its resolution so brace yourself for a marathon and stay safe.  Don’t go out among other people unless for groceries or an emergency.  Covid-19 mainly spreads through the air when someone infected coughs or sneezes, or when they contaminate a surface that we touch and then spread the germs to our mouth or face.

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

Day 1162 – Moon Succeeded, Trump Failed

Rachel Maddow last night expressed clearly what many infectious disease experts and others are now concluding.  That the Federal government under Trump’s direction is utterly failing to do its job and coordinate a national response to the coronavirus.  It’s bad enough that Trump dithered while the virus gained momentum, but now, in the absence of Federal coordination and direction, states are competing against each other and against FEMA for scarce critical medical equipment.  Trump and his cabinet knew about this virus by January 20th, same as South Korean President Moon Jae-in.  But unlike President Moon, Trump and his people did nothing.  They called the virus a hoax and said it would be over soon.  They could have used the Defense Protection Act to push manufacturers to ramp up production of tests, PPE, and ventilators. But instead they took to the airwaves to bash the “libs” for creating hysteria. And to this day, they still play no effective role in coordinating resources despite the unique reach and authority the Federal Government carries.  Where are the millions of tests?  Where is a central hub to coordinate resources between states?  In a phone call with Governors, Trump said his regime would serve as “backup” to the states, to which Washington State Governor Inslee replied, “We don’t need a backup, we need a Tom Brady.” Tragically, Trump is no Tom Brady–and the comparison between us and South Korea proves it.  They are fighting the outbreak the right way with results to prove it. President Moon has done an adequate job whereas Trump has failed.

Trump still doesn’t even seem to understand the scope of what is happening.  He continues to prattle about getting people back to normal by Easter. On Hannity last night he said, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.” Yet the United States yesterday registered the highest number of infected of any country in the world at 83.5K, surpassing China’s total of 81K, and our death toll rose above 1,000.  New York City alone has 20,000 cases, and while the rate of new cases in NYC seems to be declining a bit, the tidal wave is nowhere near its expected peak.  Many hospitals are at maximum capacity already and one in Brooklyn had to hire a refrigerated truck to store their overflow dead.

Meanwhile, there were 3.28 million jobless claims reported yesterday shattering the all-time record of 695k from October of 1982. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Most of the other capitalist nations dealing with coronavirus have guaranteed their citizens full pay for the duration of the crisis.  Thus far, our government has guaranteed a single payment based on your income.  But the outbreak will continue to roll on, spreading through all communities.  Nothing can change until we have comprehensive testing–hundreds of millions of tests–and can figure out who and where the virus is affecting.  An excellent report appeared in The Atlantic two days ago by Ed Yong titled “How The Pandemic Will End,” where he summed up our overall response:

Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I’ve spoken with had feared.

He went on to make this powerful observation

Aspects of America’s identity may need rethinking after COVID-19. Many of the country’s values have seemed to work against it during the pandemic. Its individualism, exceptionalism, and tendency to equate doing whatever you want with an act of resistance meant that when it came time to save lives and stay indoors, some people flocked to bars and clubs. Having internalized years of anti-terrorism messaging following 9/11, Americans resolved to not live in fear. But SARS-CoV-2 has no interest in their terror, only their cells.

Here’s the link (all their Covid-19 reporting is outside the paywall!):

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/

At the very least, the next few months will be difficult and tragic.  And we have to remember one thing–it wouldn’t be nearly as bad nor as stressful if a competent president were in charge.  We have to vote Trump out in November, along with as many corrupt Republican Senators and other conservative politicians as possible.  We can’t let the right wing media whitewash Trump’s catastrophic failure to set self-interest aside and attack this pandemic adequately.

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

Wishing all a safe weekend.

 

 

 

Day 1161

The coronavirus raged on as the number of cases in New York City last night passed 20,000 with 280 deaths thus far.  As many of us have been doing recently, I’ve been calling friends and touching base, making sure everyone is safe and sane.  I called a buddy yesterday and he picked up the phone…from his hospital bed at Mt. Sinai in Manhattan. He had Covid-19 and pneumonia, though he only needed oxygen and seemed to be recovering.  But he sounded horrible.  And he’s only 64.  So I now have a personal connection to the outbreak.  Regardless of what any Fox Network nitwit says, nobody should want to risk getting or spreading this virus.

And yet, several governors around the country are steadfastly against shutting down their states despite the dire warnings.  Florida governor De Santis is resisting calls for a statewide shutdown even though the Spring Break crowds were a national scandal of viral spread.  De Santis believes that because two-thirds of Florida counties have no cases, there’s no need.  So apparently De Santis has not noticed what has happened in every other populated state, and he clearly doesn’t understand the math of exponential functions, so many more Floridians are now at risk.  Even worse, Mississippi governor Reeves has declared any city or local shutdowns invalid.  He wants his residents to continue to work even though Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising there.  If there were a stature for reckless endangerment, he would be guilty.  And this kind of reckless and irresponsible governing will ensure that we won’t follow the path that South Korea has taken, but will instead go the way of Italy and now Spain–where it has been reported that they are taking respirators away from people over 65 and leaving them to die so younger critical patients can be saved.

The Senate last night formally passed the final text version of the coronavirus stimulus/relief bill that will now go to Trump’s desk.  The bill passed unanimously and provided $2-trillion in subsidies, payments and loans to individuals, small businesses and corporations.  The good news is that money is going directly to workers–not indirectly through their employers–but the bad news is that Trump’s companies will surely get some of the relief money.  The stock market yesterday continued its rally right up until the closing bell, when it quickly gave back about half of its day’s gain, and has been moving sideways overnight.  Perhaps the downdraft was due to the fact that the Senate bill will just barely be enough to help to prop up the economy (Ari Melber demonstrated this using actual numbers on Twitter last night) but it won’t be enough to stimulate the economy beyond where it was two weeks ago.  Which brings me back to the point I made last night, a point I’m going to continue to make.

As long as Covid-19 is circulating in your area, you are playing Russian roulette every time you go out in public.  If you catch it, you roughly have a 1 in 20 chance of being hospitalized and a 1 in 50 chance of dying.  And that’s not going to change until we have an effective anti-viral treatment or a vaccine–or until we are able to completely contain the virus through widespread virus testing plus widespread antibody testing plus effective contact tracing.  So our economy won’t even be able to start recovering until people have confidence in one of two things.  (1) The virus has been fully contained, or (2) people will not die if they get it.  We are a long way from either.   Until then, who would go to a restaurant, an event, get on an airplane or take public transportation? Not me.

Rep Delgado has been hard at work trying to support our local farmers and small businesses through this catastrophe.  But as the number of Covid-19 cases rose in NYS and cases began to occur in our district, he penned an op-ed in the Times Union two days ago urging the Trump regime to use the Defense Protection Act to produce medical equipment.  In case you missed it, here it is:

https://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Commentary-Trump-must-invoke-Defense-Production-15154489.php

Inexplicably, Trump has yet to put the DPA to use while dozens–soon to be hundreds–of our fellow citizens die daily from the pandemic.

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

 

Day 1160 – Not A Sprint, A Marathon

Some good news.  In the early hours of the morning the Senate finally agreed to a $2-trillion bipartisan stimulus/relief bill.  Senator Schumer tweeted this at 2:40AM:

We have a bipartisan agreement to address this public health and economic crisis. It is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity. We fought to send much-needed resources to fight coronavirus and to put people and workers first. The agreement now reflects those priorities.

Details have not yet been released but they will surely be all over the airwaves this morning.  Let’s hope Democrats were able to keep Trump from getting an opaque slush fund to shower his corporate cronies with, not to mention bailing out his own properties. And let’s hope direct payments make it to our friends and neighbors most in need, including small businesses.

The stock market rose several thousand points yesterday in anticipation of the stimulus, and rose again in overnight markets, but it’s hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.  We are at the beginning of a marathon, not a sprint.  Trump is still clinging to the notion that we should end the shutdown soon, saying he hopes churches will be full on Easter–though more congruent with his brand would be that strip clubs will be full by Easter.  Luckily for us, Trump didn’t start the shutdown and he won’t be able to end it.  That will be up to the states, in concert with medical professionals and scientists. But it’s already becoming clear that different states will take different approaches at different times, which is a recipe for long-term disaster.  As long as the virus is circulating somewhere in the USA, we are all at risk.

Think about this.  A vaccine won’t be ready for at least a year, maybe longer.  And a viable treatment–like “tamiflu”–for the coronavirus is still not near.  It needs to be identified, then tested, then mass produced.  So that’s, what, two months at a minimum?  Four to six months, more realistically?  Until such a treatment is available, and with the virus not quarantined (which won’t be possible without hundreds of millions of tests and a country-wide shutdown), who in their right mind would go to a restaurant, or a concert, or a sporting event, regardless of what Trump said?  Who would get on a plane, or take the subway, or take a taxicab, unless they absolutely had to?  Who would enter a small store if others were inside?  Who would stay in a hotel or visit a movie theater?  This economy won’t be able to start recovering until people have confidence in one of two things.  Either the virus has been fully quarantined, or people will not die if they get it.  We are a long way from both.

Trump’s efforts to get people back to a normal life will only hamper our ability to resolve this deadly outbreak.  Meanwhile, people are dying.  And because of Trump’s dithering and incompetence, many are about to die who could be saved if only Trump had ordered ventilators and PPE six weeks ago.  Governor Cuomo gave an impassioned speech from the Javits Center yesterday, where they are preparing a makeshift overflow hospital.  New York is getting 400 ventilators from FEMA.  We need 30,000.  That’s the scale of tragedy that is unfolding in our state.  So please, only go out for food, medicine or emergencies, and keep a safe distance from others.  Stay safe and keep your fellow citizens safe.

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

Day 1159 – Half Measures Ensure Disaster

The only news that mattered yesterday came during Trump’s daily emotional therapy press conference where he pretends to be presidential while bloviating about the coronavirus.  Trump said he was considering lifting restrictions and ending the “shutdown” after 14 days because the economy needed to get moving again–even though the outbreak was accelerating.

In other words, Trump wanted to risk millions of deaths to protect the stock market.

But the situation is complicated.  Individual States control the length of their shutdowns, so Trump could be picking an eventual fight with states like New York over how long to shelter in place.  And Trump is going against the opinion of almost every expert.  Virologists agree that the longer we stay at home, the sooner we will allow the virus to ebb and allow widespread testing to become available so we can begin to isolate the asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19.  Only then can life begin to normalize.  If we loosen controls, Trump could actually ensure the worst possible outcome–a financial depression AND mass death.

Game it out.  Trump persuades states to lift restrictions too soon and people begin mixing, the virus regains momentum, many thousands more get sick and die, and we are forced back to another round of shelter in place.  This scenario produces more sickness and death while hammering our economy again, and it lays the foundation for mistrust.  The more people who mistrust the science or the recommendations, the more carriers for Covid-19.  And the more mistrust and death, the more people will stay away from businesses where people gather and a depression will become inevitable.  Like it or not, we can’t battle Covid-19 with half measures. If we pay now, we won’t have to pay a hell of a lot more later.  And every expert says so.  The  best article written so far on this topic was published in the New York Times two days ago by Donald G. McNeil Jr.:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/22/health/coronavirus-restrictions-us.html

Democratic leaders need to feel our support as they face an increasingly desperate White House that in turn makes Republicans in Congress feel increasingly frantic and desperate.

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