Friday, March 13, 2020

"Smoking Gun: Trump Suppressed Coronavirus Testing to Keep the Numbers Low and Boost His Chances at Reelection" — More Commentary

Here's some more commentary about the coronavirus pandemic and, in particular, the situation in the US that I've come across in the past several days, and would like to share:

Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the Harvard Global Health Institute, "U.S. federal response to coronavirus a 'fiasco,' says global health expert":

If today, I, as a physician, wanted to test somebody that I was worried might have coronavirus, I can't, generally, largely. Most Americans can't get that test who need it. 
And, you know, the doubling time of this disease is six days. And another way of thinking about it is, my guess is, about 10,000 Americans probably have the infection today. Officially, it's only about 1,400, but my best guess is 5,000 to 10,000 Americans. That number is going to double in six days. It's going to double again in another six days."

Ed Pilkington, "Anger grows at Trump administration's coronavirus testing failures":

Donald Trump claimed 'We have tested heavily' but in fact just eight tests were carried out on Tuesday, as even allies speak out.

My understanding is he [i.e., Donald Trump] did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that's partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear - the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential reelection this fall.

Here he is from a few moments ago claiming that all people returning from Europe are being tested for Coronavirus and being quarantined if they are positive. Obviously this is completely false. To the best of my knowledge people are not even being questioned or having their temperatures taken, let alone being tested. The country doesn't have remotely the testing capacity to do that even if we wanted to.

Sure, Trump's personal incompetence is a serious factor in the coronavirus crisis. But the people actually driving executive policymaking aren't so different from who they'd be under any other conservative government. Wouldn't other right wingers look for ways to make a buck, or flatly refuse to use the federal government's vast powers to protect the public? Would we be surprised if a President Pence or Cruz appointed a task force including religious figures with shameful histories in the HIV crisis? Wouldn't they also scaremonger about the border?  
The Republican operatives on the COVID-19 response team disdain expertise, adore profiteering and are loath to help the needy. That’s what got them this far in their careers. 

"I'm very puzzled by what's happened. The CDC did a really good job with H1N1 and Zika in exactly this thing: sending out huge quantities of test kits very rapidly to every state in the US and more than 100 countries around the world," Tom Frieden, who led the CDC under President Barack Obama, told Vox. "The world came to rely on the CDC."

 "It seems that it’s been blown out of proportion. … People are too worried. The flu has killed more people than the coronavirus, and people haven't been as concerned over the flu. 

This month's survey reinforces that frequent Fox News viewers are deeply disconnected from mainstream Americans.

David Frum, "The Worst Outcome":

More people will get sick because of his presidency than if somebody else were in charge. More people will suffer the financial hardship of sickness because of his presidency than if somebody else were in charge. The medical crisis will arrive faster and last longer than if somebody else were in charge. So, too, the economic crisis. More people will lose their jobs than if somebody else were in charge. More businesses will be pushed into bankruptcy than if somebody else were in charge. More savers will lose more savings than if somebody else were in charge. The damage to America’s global leadership will be greater than if somebody else were in charge. 
There is always something malign in Trump’s incompetence. He has no care or concern for others; he cannot absorb the trouble and suffering of others as real.

Social distancing, which is being called for by global health agencies to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus—kept per capita flu-related deaths in St. Louis to less than half of those in Philadelphia, according to a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The concept of "flattening the curve" is now a textbook public health response to epidemics, including the spread of Covid-19. Once a virus can no longer be contained, the goal is to slow its spread. Exponential growth in infections leaves health care systems struggling to handle the surge.

Almost two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants in the US believe "their side" is winning politically under the Trump administration, according to a new survey. ...
The survey, published by the Pew Research Center on Thursday, found that a big majority of white evangelical Protestants in the US – a key part of Trump's electoral base – believed the president was good for their interests, but they had more mixed views on his personal attributes.

On our walk with our dogs today, a neighbor of ours stopped and talked as he walked his dog. He's a medical doctor in the field of public health, with a specialization in epidemiology — a distinguished career in that field.

My husband Steve, who has worked with this doctor and has high regard for him, asked him what he thinks of the coronavirus pandemic. He replied:

"It's bad. It's going to get very, very bad. A lot of people are going to die." 

This is not information we did not already have, but to hear it from a neighbor who's a distinguished epidemiologist is sobering. 

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