Thursday, April 16, 2020

Facts, Numbers, Trump's Real Pandemic Record — and Continued Truth-Skirting of "Pro-Life" White Christians as Death Tolls Mount


"One of the themes we’ve been talking about for the last month is that the official American death toll right now is almost certainly an undercount which will eventually be revised upwards after the epidemic has passed and we have time to sift through the records. 
Why? Because most localities seem to be ascribing deaths to COVID-19 only in the presence of a positive test. And since we've had a persistent shortage of tests, many patients in serious condition are admitted without being tested, since they are presumed positive cases and the test can be better used on someone else. 
Also we have home-deaths, in which case no testing is performed.

Excess mortality is the number of deaths in a given region over a particular period of time which is in excess of the average number of deaths in previous years. We;ve looked closely at analyses from Italy and Spain which show dramatic discrepancies between the reported number of COVID19 fatalities and actual amount of excess mortality during the periods in question. In many cases, when this full excess mortality is calculated the number is two, three or even four times higher than the official COVID19 death toll.

In a subsequent statement entitled "More on Excess Mortality and COVID19’s Hidden Toll," Josh Marshall offers more information based on careful accounting and statistical studies strongly indicating that, in country after country, the actual death toll is at least twice as high — and often much more than that — than what is actually being reported.

Coronavirus death counts are based on positive tests and driven by hospital deaths. But data from major metropolitan areas shows a spike in at-home deaths, prompting one expert to say current numbers were just "the tip of the iceberg."

J. David Goodman and William K. Rashbaum, "N.Y.C. Death Toll Soars Past 10,000 in Revised Virus Count":

The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.

The official death toll from the coronavirus soared in New York City on Tuesday after officials began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested. 

Judd Legum, "Someone to blame": 

Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most catastrophic failures in American history. Throughout February and into March, Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat. Worse, Trump did not mobilize the government to increase testing capacity, stockpile protective equipment, or produce ventilators. Instead, he claimed the coronavirus would magically disappear by April. 
As of Wednesday, there are 637,196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the United States, which have resulted in 27,866 deaths. By the time you click those links, both numbers will be higher.  
Trump did not issue social distancing guidelines until March 16. A new model, published in the New York Times, found that had Trump acted just two weeks earlier, 90% of coronavirus deaths could have been avoided. 

That’s how Donald Trump described the coronavirus pandemic in early March, during a televised visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
For weeks he had been giving Americans the same advice: "We have it totally under control"; "USA in great shape!"; and, of course, "Fake news". 
But privately, Trump was being warned of a "full-blown Covid-19 pandemic" and "1-2 million" American deaths, according to internal emails, memorandums and other recently unearthed evidence documenting internal deliberations. 
It turns out that Trump was personally warned, repeatedly, about the growing crisis beginning in mid-January. But he continued to give false assurances to the American public. 
Here's a timeline of the main notifications Trump received and the disinformation he was simultaneously spreading.

During a press briefing on March 19, Donald Trump inexplicably told reporters (and the world) how surprised he was by this deadly pandemic. Despite having access to and briefings by the world’s foremost experts on pandemics, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Donald Trump stood behind the podium with the presidential seal and said, "I would view it as something that just surprised the whole world." He added, "Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion."
That, of course, was a lie. On April 11, The New York Times published an absolutely stunning takedown of that statement. Not only did many, many scientists and doctors around the world warn of this kind of deadly pandemic—many in Trump's own administration were warning him as well.

[As the warnings mounted and he was given private briefings about what was coming and need to act] Donald Trump continued to hold rallies. Donald Trump continued to play golf. And Donald Trump continued to blow off the threat of the coming pandemic during the days and weeks when action could have saved tens of thousands of lives. 
It wasn't until March 16 that the White House released suggested guidelines for social distancing. By that time there were already 4,000 cases in the United States and the idea of stopping the chain at the beginning was long gone. The mathematics of exponential increase are unrelenting, and so is the consequence of Trump's inaction: Had Donald Trump acted just two weeks earlier, over 90% of the deaths in the United States could have been avoided.

It's now clear that so many people have died, and so many more are desperately ill, simply because our politicians refused to listen to and act on advice. Scientists like us said lock down earlier; we said test, trace, isolate. But they decided they knew better.

Magical thinking is to be expected in religion, literature and among audiences at shows where conjurers pull rabbits out of hats, but not as a substitute for professional medicine and settled science. ... 
Today's chaotic and bumbling response to this emergency is no accident, but deeply rooted and systemic, the direct result of a pattern of callow benightedness that verges on the criminal and that goes back to the very start of Trump's regime, embedded in the very recalcitrant anti-intellectual DNA of this president and his followers.

Though evidence piled on evidence shows that churches have been the seedbeds of serious infections during this pandemic, in which not only church members but many people beyond church walls have been infected, the Opus Dei-affiliated Catholic man Donald Trump placed in the attorney general's office wants to pretend that asking churches to stop meetings to protect the public health infringes on religious liberty. And some pastors are listening to the dog whistle because they adore Trump. She writes, 

Constitutional experts say there is little legal ambiguity that the government has the ability to protect the public from a dire public health threat. The question, said Caroline Mala Corbin, a professor and First Amendment expert at the University of Miami School of Law, is whether these orders "could be viewed as singling out or persecuting congregations. And the answer is no."  
Across the country, state and local orders have banned all large gatherings, not just religious ones. What's more, she added, "there's no interest more compelling than saving people's lives." Last week, a federal judge in California denied a church's emergency request to hold Easter services, ruling that the state has the authority to “limit the exercise of religion when faced with a public health crisis.”  
Despite the clarity of the constitutional analysis, the Christian right sees the Trump administration as an unprecedented champion of its goals. Last week, Attorney General William Barr told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that he was "very, very concerned" about the impact of stay-at-home orders on religious liberty. …  
As the state's [i.e., Kentucky's] health commissioner, Steven Stack, put it: "At what point do our rights to gather entitle us to have other people die as a result?" 

More recent studies, from the Pew Research Center and the Public Religion Research Institute, two nonpartisan institutions, have found white Christians now account for only about two-fifths of the population. Adults unaffiliated with any religion have grown to represent one-fourth of the total, in both groups' studies, about the same share as racial minorities who identify as Christian. 
But while white Christians have fallen below majority status nationwide, they still represent 64% of all self-identified Republicans, according to data Pew provided me last year from some 170,000 survey interviews conducted in 2018 and 2019. … 
Some surveys that allow for comparisons along religious lines have found that white evangelical Protestants stand apart from other major groups in their attitudes toward the coronavirus outbreak. 
In polling conducted late last month by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, more than two-fifths of white evangelical Protestants described the outbreak as only a minor threat to the health of the US population; that was a larger share than among other major religious groups, such as white Catholics, African American Protestants or those who described themselves as belonging to no religious tradition. White evangelical Protestants were also much less likely than any other groups to say Americans were not taking the threat seriously enough and much more likely to say both that the media was exaggerating the danger and that they approved of President Donald Trump's handling of the crisis.

As J. David Goodman and William K. Rashbaum report (above), one of the most gut-wrenching aspects of being in New York City right now is hearing ambulance sirens wailing up and down empty streets all day long, all night long.

I hope someone is making recordings of the sirens. Already there are American citizens, a large percentage of them "pro-life" white Christians, who placed Donald Trump in the White House, who are every bit like Holocaust deniers trying to pretend nothing is happening, no one is dying, it's all made up by Trump-haters and the media. 

These "pro-life" white evangelicals and their influential, well-placed Catholic fellow travellers (see: William Barr) claim to be "pro-life" and to follow God's commandments (see: "Thou shalt not bear false witness"). I hope someone is saving recordings of the ceaseless ambulance sirens in New York to play — like footage of the crematoria at Auschwitz full of human ashes and bones — when these lying servants of the Lord begin lying in the future, as they absolutely will do, about what they set into motion by electing their "pro-life" president.

P.S. For a subsequent statement of Facebook's choice to censor a link I just shared to the posting above, see here. Please feel free to share far and wide both this posting and my statement about how Facebook continues to censor postings pointing to this Bilgrimage blog.

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