COVID-19: Day 5

Ken AshfordCongress, Crime, Ebola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Political Scandals, Republicans, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

As of 12:30 pm: US cases are 14,322 (with 210 deaths). That’s quite a leap over yesterday’s 9,000 or so, but we are testing more.

NC has 123 cases, zero deaths. Five cases in my county.

Dow is down 200 points. Again, seems to be veering from huge changes.

The biggest development — GOP scandal:

Senator Richard M. Burr sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in major companies last month, as President Trump and others in his party were still playing down the threat presented by the coronavirus outbreak and before the stock market’s precipitous plunge.

The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time, disclosure records show.

However, if Burr’s actions were bad enough to have even Republicans—and even Fox News hosts—calling on him to resign, Loeffler’s may be worse. As The Daily Beast reports, the Senate’s newest member didn’t even wait a day before translating what she heard in that private January 24 briefing into a series of transactions. Starting with a sale on that day, Loeffler and her husband made 29 transactions over the next two weeks, selling off millions of stock in industries across the board.

Loeffler is claiming that these were all managed transactions, that the fact that they drew millions from a market that was still moving upward at the time was coincidence, and that none of it had anything to do with her private, insider knowledge that the CDC director and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci provided in an all-senators briefing.

That might be easier to believe except for the fact that of those 29 transactions, two were actually purchases. One of those two was a sizable investment in Citrix, a company that specializes in providing online meetings and other tools for remote workers. In other words, one of the few stocks that seems like a good purchase in the face of a threat that was about to send huge parts of the nation into lockdown. Exactly the kind of transaction that someone who was trading on insider information unavailable to the public might make.

Exactly the kind of transaction that might come if someone violated the law against senators using their insider information to boost their own wealth, even as most people in the nation were about to see 401Ks and life savings evaporate. 

And Trump gives another press conference:

Here’s the big exchange which shows Trump can’t take it:

Trump dropped in on the FDA to explain how excited he was about the COVID-curing powers of the malaria drug chloroquine. Trump made it known the drug would be available “immediately” and that he was buying many, many doses for Americans.

Naturally, this generated some questions on Friday, including one directed at the National Institute of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, about whether chloroquine could really act as a cure, or even as a “prophylactic” to prevent COVID-19 from taking hold in the first place.

In reply, Fauci made it clear he was very skeptical about the claims being made. “The answer is no,” said Fauci. He explained that all of the so-called proof of chloroquine’s effectiveness against the virus was “anecdotal evidence” and that while the government was going to make the drug available for further testing, those tests needed to be done in a way that provided genuine information on whether the drug was either safe or effective when used in treating COVID-19.

But no sooner had Fauci surrendered the podium than Trump stepped up to declare himself a “fan” of chloroquine. “I have seen things that are impressive. We’ll see.”