COVID-19: Day 4

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The US has 9415 cases and 150 deaths (10:00 am) uh, make that 10,755 and 157 deaths (1:30 pm). That is more than 2,700 new cases from yesterday morning. But that doesn’t necessarily reflect a spread in the virus. It is because we are testing more.

NC has 93 cases and no deaths. As of 10:00 am.

As of 10 am today, the Dow is down 250.

The good news is that China reported its first day with no new locally transmitted coronavirus infections, three months after the first case was detected.

Sadly, this thing could come in waves. The federal government is now preparing for a pandemic that could last up to 18 months or longer and “include multiple waves of illness,” a report obtained by CNN shows.

The $1 trillion relief package from the White House proposes payments of $1,000 for adults and $500 for children. Lawmakers urge remote voting for Congress, and doctors and nurses plead for protective gear.

At his daily press briefing yesterday, Trump said he would invoke the Defense Production Act. Later in the day, he insisted he would only reserve it in the future, in case it’s needed:

Trump is describing the need to ramp up production of equipment for a pandemic that is going to flood hospitals within days as a “worst case scenario in the future,” requiring no current action. Does he understand how the timing of this works?

What about getting more respirator masks and hospital beds? The New York Times has an even more harrowing overview of the federal response — or, more accurately, nonresponse. Governors are begging Trump to send more masks for their hospitals, which have desperate shortages. So far they’ve got nothing of value:

Oregon sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on March 3 asking for 400,000 N95 masks. For days, it got no response, and only by March 14 received its first shipment, of 36,800 masks. But there was a problem. Most of the equipment they got was well past the expiration date and so “wouldn’t be suitable for surgical settings,” the state said.

New York City also put in a request for more than 2 million masks and only received 76,000; all were expired, said Deanne Criswell, New York City’s emergency management commissioner.

Experts have proposed preparing the Army to set up mobile hospitals to treat overflow patients — something the Army has done before. A spokesperson reported to the Times that the Army has not been given any orders to prepare for such an eventuality:

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to assist the nation in a time of crisis to the very best of its capabilities, and we are postured to lean forward when an official request is received through the Department of Defense,” Raini W. Brunson, an Army Corps spokeswoman said in a statement. “However, at this time, we have not been assigned a mission.”

They have not been assigned a mission.

What about the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which also has relevant expertise setting up medical facilities during emergencies? “FEMA officials said the Department of Health and Human Services remains in charge of the federal response,” reports the Times, “and it too is waiting for orders from the agency before it moves to ramp up assistance.”

Trump spent weeks publicly downplaying the coronavirus as an overhyped flu, and then treating it as nothing more than a distraction spooking the stock market. Only in recent days has he made a show of acknowledging the virus as a serious health threat. Watching this, we might have clung to the wan hope that his abdication was merely a surface display of incompetence, and that below his level, the government was still functioning. The evidence before us suggests the government actually followed his lead, following the complacent signals he sent — or, at least, has simply floundered for lack of any direction from the top. The closer you look at the inner workings of Trump’s coronavirus response, the worse it gets.

Fox News is still getting raked over the coals, justifiably:

Senator Burr from NC is in hot water. Three weeks ago, he told a private, exclusive audience just how lethal and devastating coronavirus is, but said nothing to the general public.

“There’s one thing I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything we have seen in recent history,” Senator Burr says in the secret audio recording (below) obtained by NPR.

Trump’s press conference this afternoon — just embarrassing:

UPDATE: That OAN reporter….

Turns out she was spreading news based on a guy on Twitter

On the plus side, you can see dolphins swimming in Venice:

UPDATE: Dow closes up 188.27 or 1%. A less volatile day.

Italy passes China in terms of overall deaths.