COVID-19 Update: The Very Beginnings Of Turning A Corner Maybe Perhaps

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



The good news here is that IMHE model, which assumes social distancing, now looks at a US death total of 60,415 — about 20,000 deaths fewer than predicted a few days ago.


North Carolina has at least 3,321 reported cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday morning, and 54 people have died, according to state and county health departments.

At least one case of the virus has been reported in 92 of the state’s 100 counties.

Health officials say the actual number of people in North Carolina with COVID-19 is likely higher, as some counties choose not to test everyone who is sick.

Nearly one-fourth of the state’s reported cases — 810 — are in Mecklenburg County, which has seen eight deaths.

A piece of good news for NC — a study released yesterday showed we are not likely to have medical capacity exceeded.

In COVID news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quietly deleted large chunks of its guidelines on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two anti-malaria drugs President Donald Trump has claimed to be potentially effective treatment for COVID-19.

Eli Lee, a research at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) watchdog organization, flagged on Tuesday that the CDC’s advisory on coronavirus treatment no longer includes details of how “some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally different hydroxychloroquine dosing,” and that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are “reportedly well-tolerated in COVID-19 patients.”

The site also previously stated that the two drugs “are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries.”

The section on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine has now been whittled down to one paragraph explaining that they are merely “under investigation in clinical trials.”

Trump is doubling down on hydroxychloroquine though.

NY may be getting over the hurdle:

Yesterday there was much talk about the disparate racial impact on COVID treatment. Black communities are being disproportionately affected by the public health crisis, according to the preliminary numbers we have available today. While comorbidities and environmental factors may certainly play a role, it’s also important to remember that on a structural level, black Americans face long-standing bias and discrimination when seeking medical care across the board.

First, let’s look at the numbers we have so far. As reported by Vox, in Louisiana, for example, black Americans make up 70% of coronavirus deaths. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards described the numbers in his state as “disturbing,” and added it, “deserves more attention, and we’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that trend down.” 

In Chicago, 72% of COVID-19 related deaths are black Americans; which is close to six times the rate of white Chicago residents. Another haunting similarity to Louisiana? In both areas, only about 30% of the population is black. In Illinois as a whole, black Americans are 14% of the population—and 41% of coronavirus deaths. 

“This new data offers a deeply concerning glimpse into the spread of COVID-19 and is a stark reminder of the deep-seated issues which have long created disparate health impacts in communities across Chicago,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

In Michigan, a startling number of coronavirus cases are in Detroit, a majority-black city. Black Americans are less than 15% of Michigan’s entire population—but comprise close to 40% of coronavirus-related deaths and 35% of cases. ProPublica reports that in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, 81% of people killed so far by the virus are black Americans. 

These disturbing numbers lend to a major question: Why? As The New York Times suggests, some possible explanations are fairly obvious when we consider structural inequalities—black Americans may have higher rates of preexisting health conditions, such as asthma and high blood pressure, as well as less access to health insurance through an employer. Environmental pollution is a reasonable factor. Michigan state Rep. Tyrone Carter, for example, stated: “This pandemic just magnifies what we already knew: Access to health care, environmental issues in certain communities, air quality, water quality. We think about Flint and think about my district who has air issues, asthma.”

As NPR points out, however, bias may also be a factor. Black Americans, as it is, routinely experience discrimination and anti-black bias when seeking medical care. This systemic discrimination can impact black communities in everything from accessing pain medication to maternal survival rates. It’s not surprising—though it is horrifying—that this trend may continue in the face of a global pandemic. As NPR reports, according to recent billing data in a few states, physicians may be less likely to test black Americans who have cough and fever symptoms for the coronavirus.  

Updates as the day continues:

One of the most obnoxious talking points I’m seeing more and more from people on the right is this argument that the virus was overhyped because “we were told 2 million people in the US would die,” not noting that the number represented what would happen if we made zero changes.

UPDATE — Normally, this would be a post of its own, but it can’t be separated from the plague — BERNIE DROPS OUT.

The hoax thing is back. From Brian Stelter’s newsletter:

Some of the biggest names in right-wing media are questioning the official Covid-19 death toll. Indeed, they’re suggesting the numbers might be inflated in an effort to paint President Trump and/or the crisis in the worst possible light. In recent days, a version of this theory has been floated by personalties such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Tucker Carlson, Brit Hume, and “Diamond & Silk.” 

Hume, who previously tweeted that New York’s “fatality numbers are inflated,” tweeted on Tuesday evening, “Well Dr. [Deborah] Birx just said it. Anyone in U.S. who dies with Covid-19, regardless of what else may be wrong, is now being recorded as a Covid-19 death.” (This is not quite what Birx said. She explained that if someone who goes into the hospital to be treated for the virus also “had a pre-existing condition” that eventually caused the individual to die, that would be counted as a Covid-19 death.)

Hume later appeared on Carlson’s show and offered the same message he did in his tweet. “There may be reasons people seek an inaccurate death count,” Carlson replied. The Fox News prime time host added, “When journalists work with numbers, there sometimes is an agenda.”

Hume and Carlson are not alone. Levin tweeted Tuesday evening that he has “suspected this for weeks.” And Limbaugh, who initially dismissed the coronavirus as the “common cold,” said recently, “It’s admittedly speculation, but … what if we are recording a bunch of deaths to coronavirus which really should not be chalked up to coronavirus?”

The death toll is likely *UNDERSTATED*

Right-wing media luminaries are advancing their theory in the face of reporting which indicates that the coronavirus death toll is being understated. An April 5 NYT story noted, “Across the United States, even as coronavirus deaths are being recorded in terrifying numbers — many hundreds each day — the true death toll is likely much higher.”

The NYT story cited hospital officials, doctors, public health experts and medical examiners who said the official death toll doesn’t account for many people: “The undercount is a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision making from one state or county to the next.”

NYC Council health committee chair Mark Levine also said on Twitter the official NYC death toll “is certainly an undercount.” Levine explained, “Only people who die at home who are known to have a *positive coronavirus test* have the disease listed as the official cause on their death certificate. We know there are many others going uncounted.”

Trump was asked on Tuesday at the White House briefing about the accuracy of the death count, with a reporter suggesting it is a possible undercount because of the reasons outlined above. Trump pushed back, saying, “I think they’re pretty accurate on the death count. Somebody dies, I think the states have been pretty accurate.” Trump added, “No, the death counts, I think they are very, very accurate.” That said, given how the speculation about death counts being inflated are saturating right-wing media, it would not surprise me one bit if Trump later repeated the theory.

Of course he’s going to go with it. It may not be tomorrow or the next day. But he’ll get there.

And the fact that all those Fox News loonies are disseminating this crap to their millions of Trump cultists is simply horrifying. They are people without character or integrity who simply cannot ever, ever admit they are wrong. It’s one thing to engage in dirty politics. But this is next level.

They will say anything to keep Trump’s numbers down.

Ugh… the press briefing