May 022020
 


Yevgeny Khaldei – 75 years ago the Soviet banner was raised over the Reichstag. 11 million Soviet soldiers died in WW2 and three-quarters of German losses were suffered at the hands of the Red Army – May 2 1945

 

 

Opening Up (Yaneer Bar-Yam et al, New England Complex Systems Institute)
New Yorkers Face Back-to-Work Commuting Nightmare (R.)
US Approves Remdesivir for Coronavirus Treatment (GR)
80 Patients, Staff Infected at Texas Nursing Home, HCQ Saves All But 1 (GP)
Manhattan Nursing Home Reports 98 Coronavirus Deaths (G.)
New Research Suggests Significant Undercount Of Children With Coronavirus (IC)
White House Blocks Dr. Fauci From Testifying To Congress (R.)
No. 2 CDC Official Says US Missed Some Chances To Slow Virus (AP)
Cardiologists Forced To Adapt To COVID-Linked Surge In Heart Symptoms (TPM)
Over 70% Of UK COVID19 Patients In Critical Care Are Men (PA)
Hong Kong Airport Is Rolling Out Full-Body 40-Second Disinfectant Booths (BI)
Sen. Hawley Calls Out United Airlines For Cutting Wages, Benefits (DC)
Amazon Tells Investors They ‘May Want To Take A Seat’ (CNBC)
Bone-Chilling WTF Charts of the Collapse in US Fuel Demand (WS)
Slouching Toward Resolution (Jim Kunstler)
Why Julian Assange Must Urgently Be Freed (Stella Moris)

 

 

• At this point in time, the US has 5% of the world’s population, 33% of its COVID19 infections and 26% of deaths.

• The coronavirus death toll in the US climbs by 1,883 in the past 24 hours

• Death rates are slowing in most of Europe, but its virus death toll is over 140,000 out of 235,000 globally

 

 

 

Cases 3,417,482 (+ 93,547 from yesterday’s 3,323,935)

Deaths 239,895 (+ 5,424 from yesterday’s 234,471)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – Among Active cases, Serious/Critical fell to 2%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

They thought it through.

Opening Up (Yaneer Bar-Yam et al, New England Complex Systems Institute)

Before you begin to restart the economy make sure you are not starting another economic collapse. Premature relaxation of restrictions will guarantee loss of all that was gained. A premature relaxation, even briefly, would seed new transmissions that cannot be undone within weeks. Conditions and process to follow:

1) Relax restrictions locally by geographically isolated regions (not by industry group, trade or occupation). 2) Assure that travel restrictions prevent new cases from entering. Fines or repatriation may help reduce the motivation to sneak in. 3) Stop community transmission (travelers or prior case contacts that are in quarantine when they become ill do not prevent opening up). 4) Make sure sufficient testing gives ability to identify regions free of the virus. Even after cases drop sharply, widespread testing should be continued for at least another 2 weeks to prevent clustered transmission caused by individuals with a long incubation period or false negative tests.

5) There should be no new locally transmitted cases within last incubation period of 14 days. 6) Assure facilities for isolation and medical care of positively identified cases. 7) Set up contact tracing. 8) Multiple steps should be taken to stage the relaxation of restrictions and monitor for new cases. 9) Ensure masks are worn for several weeks after opening up. 10) The last steps to take in opening up are to allow public transportation and large meetings to avoid superspreader events, and to relax restrictions on high risk institutions and vulnerable populations.

Still, while restrictions are present, some things are still possible: 1) Going outdoors in an area where other people are very rare. 2) Meeting one or two people outdoors but staying 18-27 ft (6-9 m) apart (6 ft is not enough). Closer distances are possible when wind is blowing. 3) Driving and staying in your car in low density areas.

Opening schools: 1) Start with meetings outdoors with no contact between teacher and student one on one. 2) Arrange small group meetings outdoors with no contact in areas with excellent ventilation. 3) Arrange play dates with two students, preferably outdoors. If indoors, then restrict only to connection between two families that have been safely isolating for 14 days.

Read more …

Subways and elevators are Russian roulette systems.

New Yorkers Face Back-to-Work Commuting Nightmare (R.)

Staying compliant with public safety norms in particular will push the city’s subway system, which is normally used by 1.3 million commuters every day, beyond capacity, said Kevin Kelly, a senior managing director who wrote the report for Savills, a leading broker in global commercial property sales and leasing. The report was written specifically about New York but is relevant for other large cities hobbled by the pandemic and where mass transit accounts for a majority of commuter travel. Kelly called mass transit an enormous barrier to getting people back to work in Manhattan, where the car is only used by 12% of workers commuting to jobs in the U.S. financial capital.

“The biggest bottleneck is mass transit because there’s simply no good way to get people into an office in Manhattan avoiding public transit,” said Kelly, who in a prior job helped with the spatial analysis of how disease spreads geographically at the Public Health Department of Epidemiology in Los Angeles county. Understanding where people are and how they are likely to travel is critical when studying commuting, Kelly said. The mass transit constraints will force more employees to continue working from home as companies decide how best to return to offices that until a coronavirus vaccine is found need to be less dense with new rules for everyday office etiquette.

[..] Temperature screenings in lobbies, abundant hand sanitation dispensers and one- or two-person limits in elevators are some of the changes awaiting employees on their return to the office. “The subway and mass transit are a huge variable as we start to think about coming back to work, and there really isn’t any simple answer that any one business can fix,” Kelly said in an interview. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, city buses and two commuter rail lines, is hiring 100 monitors to check for overcrowding on trains and to ensure stations are functioning properly, an MTA spokesman said. The MTA also is waiting for guidance from public health authorities and has reached out to other mass transit systems around the world to glean best practices to ensure public safety, the spokesman said.

Public transportation is limited in New York during the pandemic for essential business or urgent medical appointments. On May 6, subway service will be halted daily for five hours starting at 1 a.m. so trains and stations can be disinfected. While a common subway train with 10 units typically moves up to 2,000 people at once, under social distancing that number shrinks to 200, or about what one car carries during rush hour, Kelly calculated in the report Savills published on Wednesday. The number of people who will be needed to regulate how many commuters travel in each subway car is another concern, he said. “Just the mechanics of that alone is pretty wild,” Kelly said.

Read more …

The only thing remdesivir is claimed to do is shorten hospital stays (and you would still need to ask how that is measured).

It does nothing to enhance chances of survival.

US Approves Remdesivir for Coronavirus Treatment (GR)

The experimental anti-viral drug remdesivir has been granted emergency authorization by the US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday to be used to treat coronavirus.The decision comes after a recent clinical trial showed the drug improved the outcomes for patients with severe Covid-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US released data showing the remdesivir reduced hospitalization stays by 31% compared to a placebo treatment. However, the drug did not significantly improve chances of survival. Remdesivir was created by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Science, which said it will donate 1.5 million vials of the drug to help patients in hospitals in US cities hardest hit by the coronavirus.


The donation is expected to be enough for at least 140,000 patients, depending on the number of days they need to be treated. The company said due to a limited supply, hospitals with intensive care units and other hospitals the government deems most in need will receive priority. Speaking in the Oval Office on Friday, Donald Trump praised the drug and called it a “very promising situation.” Remdesivir was also touted earlier in the week by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease specialist, who said that clinical trials in the United States and a number of other countries, including Greece, “shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.”

Read more …

So you have remdesivir which does nothing really, and you have HQC which saves lives but about which all of a sudden after 70 years warnings are issued.

80 Patients, Staff Infected at Texas Nursing Home, HCQ Saves All But 1 (GP)

A nursing home in Texas has a hopeful story for those suffering with coronavirus. The Resort at Texas nursing home had an outbreak of coronavirus that infected 56 residents and 33 staff members. Dr. Robin Armstrong immediately administered hydroxychloroquine to the residents and staff members along with Zpac and Zinc. Only one nursing home patient died since the doctor prescribed the hydroxychloroquine. 55 made it. FOX7 Austin reported:

“Dr. Armstrong and others at the Resort at Texas City Nursing home knew time wasn’t on their side. “Two of our residents had symptoms and that’s when we tested everybody,” said nursing home Executive Director Jan Piveral. 56 residents and 33 staff members were COVID-19 positive. “Our Goal was to make sure we could shelter them in place so we don’t spread it to other people,” Armstrong said. “Then also at the same time treat them so they would get better.” Armstrong says he knew residents who ended up in the hospital had a higher mortality rate. “Our goal was to keep them here and treat them with the medications we had available,” he said.

When Armstrong began administering Hydroxychloroquine to it was controversial but appeared promising. “If we didn’t make the decision quickly then we could potentially lose 15 to 20% of the residents which was not an option,” said the Doctor. Armstrong’s approach was to begin administering Hydroxychloroquine a Zpac and Zinc just as soon as a resident first started showing symptoms. The patients were being monitored daily. “We did EKGs on each of these patients to make sure they didn’t have the cardiac side effects that everyone talks about,” Armstrong said. “None of our patients did.”

Armstrong doesn’t call the Hydroxychloroquine a cure and is aware of all the recent reports that say the drug shouldn’t be used to treat COVID-19. But he points out only one of the nursing homes COVID-19 patients has died. “Everyone who got on treatment who started on treatment is actually doing really well,” he said.

Read more …

One nursing home compared to another.

Manhattan Nursing Home Reports 98 Coronavirus Deaths (G.)

A nursing home in New York has reported a “horrifying” death toll of 98 people from the coronavirus as residential facilities continued to emerge as a deadly source of outbreaks across the world. The death toll at the Isabella Geriatric Center in Manhattan is one of the worst such outbreaks in the United States and caused a shock even in hard-hit New York after an official state tally of nursing home deaths listed only 13 at the home as of Friday. But officials at the 705-bed centre later confirmed that up to 46 residents who tested positive for Covid-19 had died, as well as an additional 52 people suspected to have the virus, Associated Press reported. Some died at the nursing home and some died after being treated at hospitals.

“It’s absolutely horrifying,” mayor Bill de Blasio said. “It’s just impossible to imagine so many people lost in one place.” The number of bodies became so overwhelming the home ordered a refrigerator truck to store them because funeral homes have been taking days to pick up the deceased. “Isabella, like all other nursing homes in New York City, initially had limited access to widespread and consistent in-house testing to quickly diagnose our residents and staff,” Audrey Waters, a spokeswoman for the nursing home, wrote in an email. “This hampered our ability to identify those who were infected and asymptomatic, despite our efforts to swiftly separate anyone who presented symptoms.”

Isabella also encountered staffing shortages, prompting it to hire from outside agencies and early challenges securing personal protective equipment for employees. Waters said the home finally is getting more access to testing now. A survey last month of nursing homes in New York state found that 19 had reported 20 or more deaths linked to the pandemic, raising the prospect of hundreds of unattributed Covid-19 deaths in a state where almost 24,000 people have died from the disease. The state’s health department said it has received outbreak reports from 239 nursing homes, including at least six facilities with death tolls of 40 patients or more. “The one thing we now know about the nursing homes is the status quo cannot continue to say the least,” de Blasio said. “Something very different has to happen.”

Read more …

Little killers. “..the number of kids testing positive for the virus in the U.S. is greater than the total number of confirmed cases in many countries, including Singapore, Ireland, and Mexico ..”

New Research Suggests Significant Undercount Of Children With Coronavirus (IC)

In the US, the vast majority of serious Covid-19 cases — and eight out of 10 deaths — occur in people who are at least 65. Yet newly tabulated data show that the virus is also affecting young people across the country — and in very rare cases, killing them. At least 201 infected children under age 18 have been admitted into pediatric intensive care units in the U.S., according to data from a national registry called Virtual Pediatric Systems. And at least 20 people under the age of 20 have died from the coronavirus. In New York state, which has the largest number of children severely affected by the virus, 10 children who tested positive had died as of April 30, and at least 56 children had been admitted into pediatric intensive care units.


Across the U.S., more than 24,000 children have tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to state health department data compiled by a new project, CovKid, which tracks the effects of Covid-19 on children. That total represents everyone under age 20 and includes data from New York City but not New York state and Nebraska, which have not yet reported the age breakdown of coronavirus cases. While most states are not reporting the race and ethnicity of children with the coronavirus, data from California and Illinois show that more than one third of 3,049 children who tested positive were Latino.

While the number of kids testing positive for the virus in the U.S. is greater than the total number of confirmed cases in many countries, including Singapore, Ireland, and Mexico, it is probably only a small fraction of all who have the disease, because of a shortage of tests and very limited testing of children. “The big question is how many kids are being tested?” said Elizabeth Pathak, an epidemiologist and director of the CovKid project. Without that information, it’s impossible to know how many are infected. So Pathak and several colleagues used clinical data from China to gauge infection rates in the U.S. and estimate that the total number of children infected in the U.S. is now at least 478,000.

Read more …

After all the recent hearings, why should they comply?

White House Blocks Dr. Fauci From Testifying To Congress (R.)

Top US health official Anthony Fauci will not testify next week to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said on Friday, calling it “counterproductive” to have individuals involved in the response testify. The White House issued an emailed statement after a spokesman for the House of Representatives committee holding the hearing said the panel had been informed by Trump administration officials that Fauci had been blocked from testifying.


“While the Trump administration continues its whole-of-government response to Covid-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counterproductive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.” Fauci’s testimony was being sought for a May 6 hearing by a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health programmes, said spokesman Evan Hollander.

Read more …

Good cop bad cop.

No. 2 CDC Official Says US Missed Some Chances To Slow Virus (AP)

The U.S. government was slow to understand how much coronavirus was spreading from Europe, which helped drive the acceleration of outbreaks across the nation, a top health official said Friday. Limited testing and delayed travel alerts for areas outside China contributed to the jump in U.S. cases starting in late February, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We clearly didn’t recognize the full importations that were happening,” Schuchat told The Associated Press. [..] The CDC on Friday published an article, authored by Schuchat, that looked back on the U.S. response, recapping some of the major decisions and events of the last few months. It suggests the nation’s top public health agency missed opportunities to slow the spread.

Some public health experts saw it as important assessment by one of the nation’s most respected public health doctors. The CDC is responsible for the recognition, tracking and prevention of just such a disease. But the agency has had a low profile during this pandemic, with White House officials controlling communications and leading most press briefings. “The degree to which CDC’s public presence has been so diminished … is one of the most striking and frankly puzzling aspects of the federal government’s response,” said Jason Schwartz, assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health.

[..] in her article, Schuchat noted that nearly 2 million travelers arrived in the U.S. from Italy and other European countries during February. The U.S. government didn’t block travel from there until March 11. “The extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importations and the rapid spread,” she told the AP. ”I think the timing of our travel alerts should have been earlier.”

Read more …

Crazy choices to make.

Cardiologists Forced To Adapt To COVID-Linked Surge In Heart Symptoms (TPM)

Apart from the disease’s more well-known ravaging of the respiratory system, significant numbers of COVID-19 patients arrive at hospitals with serious heart problems, many of which first appear to be those of a heart attack but turn out to be symptoms of the coronavirus or the body’s response to it. So doctors on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic have adapted, relying on new medical research from foreign hotspots like Wuhan and Lombardy to contend with how little we still know about the virus itself. Many hospital cardiology departments, for example, have begun to take potential heart attack patients with suspected COVID-19 into their ERs to first determine whether they have contracted the virus before moving “them back into the cardiac care path,” Thomas Maddox, chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Science and Quality Committee, told TPM.

He added that in hotspots like New York City, hospitals had “moved to a lower threshold: to test, and wait until it comes back, before doing anything with the patient.” Maddox described the dilemma to TPM as a decision between bad variables. On the one hand, treating a COVID patient presenting heart symptoms as if he had a heart attack could expose the doctor. On the other, treating all patients as if they were infected with COVID could deprive those suffering from heart attacks of precious minutes. “It’s been so hard to solve,” Maddox added. “Because, at the same time, you don’t want to take somebody who is short of breath because they’re having a heart attack and delay their treatment because you send them to a COVID unit, and miss the opportunity to help out their heart.”

The symptoms appear in different ways, experts told TPM. Some patients struggle with blood clots that course throughout their body, while others have severely inflamed hearts. Others still face organ failure amid spiraling blood oxygen levels. “There’s not an easy way to tell, though, if they’re presenting so much like a heart attack,” Gulati told TPM. “We’re seeing reports of myocardial infarction when they have COVID-19, but often they aren’t always having blockages of the coronary arteries that we traditionally expect.” She added that, in COVID-19 patients, lack of blood oxygen can creep up fast, overtaxing the heart. “They are sitting there talking to you, and suddenly they go incredibly bad,” Gulati said, speaking of patients with dangerously low blood oxygen levels.

“That is a big demand on the heart, if the heart is not getting enough oxygen, and the organs aren’t getting enough oxygen. As a result, everything is compromised.” Preliminary mortality data released by the Centers for Disease Control suggests that, as the pandemic peaked in New York City, the number of people dying due to what the CDC classifies as “diseases of the heart” also peaked.

Read more …

Critical care is not a happy place.

Over 70% Of UK COVID19 Patients In Critical Care Are Men (PA)

More than 70% of patients with coronavirus admitted to critical care are men, according to new data. The figures come from the UK’s Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) and were based on a sample of 7,542 critically-ill patients confirmed as having Covid-19. Researchers found that 5,389 of these patients were men and 2,149 were women. The report, published on Friday, also found that men were more likely to die in intensive care, with 51% dying compared to about 43% of the women who were admitted. The report analysed data on patients with confirmed Covid-19 from 286 NHS critical care units in England, Wales and Northern Ireland taking part in the ICNARC programme up to 4pm on Thursday.

The new data echoes comments of a leading expert who said that Covid-19 was just as deadly as Ebola for people admitted to hospital in the UK. Prof Calum Semple from the University of Liverpool, a consultant respiratory paediatrician at Alder Hey children’s hospital and chief investigator on a study published on Wednesday, said the data highlighted the danger of coronavirus. Research by Semple and his team found that of the total number of coronavirus patients admitted to hospital, 17% required admission to high dependency or intensive care units and of these, 31% were discharged alive, 45% died and 24% continued to be treated in hospital.

Semple explained: “Some people persist in believing that Covid-19 is no worse than a bad dose of flu. “They are gravely mistaken. Despite the best supportive care that we can provide, the crude case fatality rate for people who are admitted to hospital – that is, the proportion of people ill enough to need hospital treatment who then die – with severe Covid-19 is 35 to 40%, which is similar to that for people admitted to hospital with Ebola. It’s a really nasty disease.” The new ICNARC data also showed that around 56% of 60 to 69-year-olds, 67% of 70 to 79-year-olds, and 65% of people aged 80 and over admitted to critical care died there, compared to about 24% of people aged under 50.

Read more …

The article talks about bacteria, microbes, but not viruses. Do the people at Business Insider know the difference?

Hong Kong Airport Is Rolling Out Full-Body 40-Second Disinfectant Booths (BI)

In an effort to prevent further spread of coronavirus, Hong Kong International Airport is testing a new machine that would effectively sanitize passengers head to toe. The CLeanTech machine acts as a full-body disinfectant, killing bacteria on people’s bodies and clothing. The cleaning, which takes 40 seconds, uses an antimicrobial coating on the interior surface of the machine as well as sanitizing spray for “instant disinfection,” according to a press release shared by the airport. The machine is kept at “negative pressure to prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment.” Anyone who steps inside first goes through a temperature check.


The machine is currently being used by airport staff who specifically handle public health issues for arriving passengers there. [..] In addition to the full-body machine, the Hong Kong airport has introduced other cleaning measures to assure passengers. The AA said it was piloting an invisible antimicrobial coating sprayed in all passenger facilities, including high-touch surfaces like check-in kiosks and baggage carts. And cleaning robots equipped with ultraviolet light and air sterilizers are being deployed to public areas. According to the AA, the robots can sterilize up to 99.99% of bacteria in the air and on surfaces in 10 minutes.

Read more …

It doesn’t get more American than this. Cash in the billions and fire them anyway.

Sen. Hawley Calls Out United Airlines For Cutting Wages, Benefits (DC)

Sen. Josh Hawley railed against United Airlines on Friday after employees supposedly told him the company is cutting back their wages and benefits after receiving stimulus money amid economic lockdowns. “Employees have told me the company is cutting their hours, pay & benefits immediately,” he wrote on Twitter after recalling an interaction with United Airlines employees at an airport on his way to Washington, D.C. UA, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines were among a handful of airline companies that accepted stimulus money, reports show. Hawley added: “This is AFTER United took billions in bailout money that was earmarked for workers. This has better not be true.”


[..] President Donald Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus bill in March, which, among other things, includes more than $58 billion to bolster the aviation industry, with a sizable portion of it sectioned off to fund employee payroll costs through September, CNN reported April 14. The airline industry saw enormous losses after governors and mayors instituted lockdowns to slow the pandemic spread. Passenger counts have dropped nearly 100%, forcing airlines to cancel more than 70% of their flights as the international airline association estimates worldwide industry losses of $314 billion. Hawley, for his part, has been on a tear against corporate entities recently.

Read more …

Ok, maybe this is even more American. It is May, and Amazon is finally going to protect the workers it has exposed to the virus in slavery-like conditions.

But the company is not going to pay for that. The shareholders are.

If Bezos were a normal person, he would have paid for it all from his own pocket months ago, but you don’t get to be the richest man in the world if there’s a conscience in the way.

Amazon Tells Investors They ‘May Want To Take A Seat’ (CNBC)

Long-time Amazon investors shouldn’t have been surprised by a jarring quote in the company’s first-quarter earnings report Thursday: “If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat.” That’s because Amazon has been giving investors some version of that warning since it went public in 1997, letting them know it would prioritize long-term business advantages over short-term gains. Amazon said Thursday it would invest its expected $4 billion second-quarter profit in coronavirus-related efforts, including buying personal protective equipment for workers, stepping up cleaning in its facilities and building its own testing capability.

The company said that due to the investment, it expects operating income for the quarter to be as high as $1.5 billion or as low as a loss of $1.5 billion. The bold step is reflective of CEO Jeff Bezos’ approach since starting the business. “We believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder value we create over the long term,” Bezos told shareholders in a letter shortly after its IPO. “This value will be a direct result of our ability to extend and solidify our current market leadership position.” Even back then, with the stock trading in the low double digits, Bezos warned shareholders its decisions would not look like those of other companies.

“We will make bold rather than timid investment decisions where we see a sufficient probability of gaining market leadership advantages,” Bezos wrote in the 1997 letter. “Some of these investments will pay off, others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case.” Thursday’s earnings report acknowledged “these aren’t normal circumstances” and Amazon is “not thinking small.” “There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, and the best investment we can make is in the safety and well-being of our hundreds of thousands of employees,” Bezos said in a statement in the earnings release.

Read more …

There are other things in the news today that I would reserve the term bone-chilling for.

Bone-Chilling WTF Charts of the Collapse in US Fuel Demand (WS)

For gasoline, it started in mid-March when the measures to tamp down on the spread of the coronavirus took effect. For jet fuel, it started in mid-February as flight cancellation from the US to China, and then to other countries took effect. We can see this in the weekly data provided by the EIA. The EIA measures weekly consumption in terms of product supplied, such as by refineries and blenders, not by retail sales. Consumption of motor gasoline was still up 3.1% in the week ended March 13, compared to the same week last year, according to EIA data. But then demand just collapsed. In the week ended April 3, gasoline demand was down 48% compared to the same week a year earlier:

In terms of barrels per day (b/d), demand for motor gasoline was well above 9 million b/d in the four weeks up to mid-March, but then demand collapsed, down to 5.07 million b/d in the week ended April 3. Then demand ticked up. By the week ended April 24, demand was 5.86 million b/d. Those last four weeks were by far the lowest on record in the EIA’s data going back to 1991:

Consumption of jet fuel (kerosene type) collapsed even more, peaking, if you will, in the week ended April 10 with a 72% year-over-year plunge. The decline in jet fuel demand started earlier than with gasoline, as flight cancellations were starting in the second half of February:

In terms of barrels per day, demand for jet fuel collapsed to just 463,000 b/d in the week ended April 10. The last four weeks – ranging from 463,000 b/d to 800,000 b/d – were by far the lowest in the data going back to 1991:

[..] Combined, gasoline, jet fuel, and distillate consumption, plunged by 22% to 43% over the last four weeks. In terms of barrel per day, the combined consumption collapsed to a low of 8.3 million b/d in the week ended April 10 and has ticked up since then. The last four weeks, ranging from 8.3 million b/d to 9.8 million b/d, were by far the lowest in the data going back to 1991:

Read more …

There was never anything wrong with Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Strzok, Page, Comey, McCabe, Brennan should be forced to compensate Flynn out of their own savings. But he’s going to ask for $1 billion, so the state will have to pay instead.

Slouching Toward Resolution (Jim Kunstler)

General Flynn had been an irritant to the Obama administration in his role as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He disagreed with a lot going on around him and he said so, especially the nuclear deal that was percolating with Iran. Mr. Obama canned General Flynn in 2014. Afterward, CIA chief John Brennan and DNI James Clapper put him under surveillance and played entrapment games with him, using some of the same shady characters (Stefan Halper, Richard Dearlove) who later showed up as RussiaGate players. In early 2016, Gen. Flynn joined the Trump campaign as a foreign affairs advisor and that summer made the mistake of leading the “Lock her up,” chant to a delirious crowd at the Republican Convention.

Perhaps he knew a thing or two about the activities of the Clinton Foundation. Perhaps he also knew what Jeffrey Epstein was up to. Then Mr. Trump shocked the world and won the election. Gen. Flynn was soon appointed incoming National Security Advisor. One can imagine the anxiety crackling through a Democrat-controlled Deep State on the verge of surrendering power to its enemies. The alarm bells that went off through the vast US Intel underground must have been deafening. In a panic, the Intel Community set in motion a suite of operations to get rid of both Flynn and Trump. On December 29, late in the transition-of-power, President Obama lit up a diplomatic flare by confiscating country retreat properties in Maryland and Long Island owned by the Russian embassy and expelling 35 embassy employees, supposedly as payback for Russia “interfering in the 2016 election.”

This prompted a conversation between incoming National Security Advisor Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That cued the FBI to entrap General Flynn. The news media played along with the preposterous falsehood that high American officials should not communicate with diplomats posted to the USA. The shady gotcha interview about that with Flynn, conducted by FBI officers Peter Strzok and Joseph Pientka, has been dissected to death, so I’ll spare you that, except to say that it was carried out in obvious bad faith.

Read more …

The mother of Julian’s children.

Why Julian Assange Must Urgently Be Freed (Stella Moris)

Forming a family with Julian under the circumstances was always going to be difficult, but our hopes eclipsed our fears. Initially, Julian and I managed to carve out a space for a private life. Our firstborn visited with the help of a friend. But when Gabriel was six months old, an embassy security contractor confessed to me that he had been told to steal the baby’s DNA through a nappy. Failing that they would take the baby’s pacifier. The whistleblower warned me Gabriel should not come into the embassy anymore. It was not safe. I realised that all the precautions I had taken, from piling layers on to disguise my bump to changing my name, would not protect us. We were totally exposed. These forces operated in a legal and ethical vacuum that engulfed us.

I could write volumes about what happened in the months that followed. By the time I was pregnant with Max the pressure and harassment had become unbearable and I feared that my pregnancy was at risk. When I was six months pregnant Julian and I decided I should stop going into the embassy. The next time I saw him was in Belmarsh prison. The image of Julian being carried out of the embassy shocked many. It struck a blow to my chest, but it did not shock me. What happened that morning was an extension of what had been going on inside the embassy over an eighteen-month period. After Julian was arrested a year ago, Spain’s High Court opened an investigation into the security company that had been operating inside the embassy.

Several whistleblowers came forward and have informed law enforcement of unlawful activities against Julian and his lawyers, both inside and outside the embassy. They are cooperating with law enforcement and have provided investigators with large amounts of data. The investigation has revealed that the company had been moonlighting for a US company closely associated with the current US administration and US intelligence agencies and that the increasingly disturbing instructions, such as following my mother or the baby DNA directive, had come from their US client, not Ecuador. Around the same time that I had been approached about the targeting of our baby, the company was thrashing out even more sinister plans concerning Julian’s life. Their alleged plots to poison or abduct Julian have been raised in UK extradition proceedings.

Read more …

 

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May 012020
 


René Magritte L’avenir (the future) 1936

 

Wall St. Caps Best Month In 33 Years With Broad Sell-Off (R.)
Dr. Fauci Says Developing A COVID Vaccine By January Is ‘Doable’ (SAC)
Hydroxychloroquine Has About 90% Chance of Helping COVID-19 Patients (AAPS)
Turkey Claims Success Treating COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)
WHO ‘Not Invited’ To Join China’s COVID-19 Investigations (Sky)
Sweden Forced To Admit Significant Under-Counting Of Coronavirus Deaths (Wsws)
Russian PM Mishustin Tests Positive For Virus (BBC)
American Airlines, Delta, United To Require Facial Coverings On US Flights
Ten Reasons Why A ‘Greater Depression’ For The 2020s Is Inevitable (Roubini)
Deflation Fears Creep Back In Japan (R.)
UK Factory Output At Risk Of More Than Halving (R.)
ECB Prepares For More Stimulus, Hints At Junk Bond Buys (R.)
Trump Says He Could Bring Back Fired Ex-National Security Adviser Flynn (R.)
Sidney Powell: More Evidence Shows FBI Set Up Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (SAC)

 

 

• According to Johns Hopkins University there are at least 1,069,534 cases of coronavirus in the U.S.; at least 63,001 people have died in the U.S. from coronavirus.

• On Thursday, JHU reported 29,625 new cases and 2,035 deaths.

 

 

 

Cases 3,323,935 (+ 90,943 from yesterday’s 3,232,992)

Deaths 234,471 (+ 5,951 from yesterday’s 228,520)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – Among Active cases, Serious/Critical fell to 2%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

50 million Americans unemployed and Wall Street has a record month. What is wrong with this picture? Why would we want to re-open this system?

Wall St. Caps Best Month In 33 Years With Broad Sell-Off (R.)

U.S. stocks lost ground on Thursday as grim economic data and mixed earnings prompted investors to take profits at the close of the S&P 500’s best month in 33 years, a remarkable run driven by expectations the economy will soon start recovering from crushing restrictions enacted to curb the coronavirus pandemic. While risk-off selling pulled all three major U.S. stock averages into the red, the S&P 500 and the Dow posted their largest monthly percentage gains since January 1987, with the Nasdaq having its best month since June 2000. The three indexes remain well within 20% of record highs reached in February, having quickly rebounded since shutdown efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a grinding halt.


The five-week tally of unemployment claims topped 30 million and consumer spending has plummeted, according to the latest round of dismal indicators providing another snapshot of the crushing economic effects of the widespread shutdown. “We’ve had a tremendous run but we’ve had the worst economic data since the Great Depression,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. “Business and earnings might not be snapping back as quickly as the v-shaped recovery on Wall Street would imply.” The Federal Reserved announced that it would broaden its “Main Street Lending Program” by lowering the minimum loan size and expanding eligibility. “Wall Street is liking all the programs that the government and the Fed are putting together,” Nolte added. “So Wall Street is doing fine but Main Street is going to be a longer process.”

Read more …

Does he have info we don’t? If not, this is a crazy statement.

Dr. Fauci Says Developing A COVID Vaccine By January Is ‘Doable’ (SAC)

The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie Thursday that developing a vaccine to combat the coronavirus outbreak by January is “doable.” “What the plan is right now is, as I mentioned to you a couple of times on this show, we’re in the early phases of a trial, Phase 1. When you go into the next phase, we’re gonna safely and carefully, but as quickly as we possibly can, try and get an answer as to whether it works and is safe,” Fauci said.


He added, “And, if so, we’re gonna start ramping up production with the companies involved. And you do that at risk. In other words, you don’t wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing. You at risk proactively start making it assuming it’s gonna work, and, if it does, then you could scale up and hopefully get to that timeline. So we want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it’s safe and it’s effective.” The Trump Administration announced “Operation Warp Speed” to accelerate the development of a vaccine, Bloomberg News first reported Wednesday. The report states. “The project’s goal is to have 300 million doses of vaccine available by January, according to one administration official. There is no precedent for such rapid development of a vaccine.”

Read more …

Perhaps when the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons speaks, we should pay attention?

Hydroxychloroquine Has About 90% Chance of Helping COVID-19 Patients (AAPS)

In a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) presents a frequently updated table of studies that report results of treating COVID-19 with the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ, Plaquenil®). To date, the total number of reported patients treated with HCQ, with or without zinc and the widely used antibiotic azithromycin, is 2,333, writes AAPS, in observational data from China, France, South Korea, Algeria, and the U.S. Of these, 2,137 or 91.6 percent improved clinically. There were 63 deaths, all but 11 in a single retrospective report from the Veterans Administration where the patients were severely ill.

The antiviral properties of these drugs have been studied since 2003. Particularly when combined with zinc, they hinder viral entry into cells and inhibit replication. They may also prevent overreaction by the immune system, which causes the cytokine storm responsible for much of the damage in severe cases, explains AAPS. HCQ is often very helpful in treating autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Additional benefits shown in some studies, AAPS states, is to decrease the number of days when a patient is contagious, reduce the need for ventilators, and shorten the time to clinical recovery.

Peer-reviewed studies published from January through April 20, 2020, provide clear and convincing evidence that HCQ may be beneficial in COVID-19, especially when used early, states AAPS. Unfortunately, although it is perfectly legal to prescribe drugs for new indications not on the label, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that CQ and HCQ should be used for COVID-19 only in hospitalized patients in the setting of a clinical study if available. Most states are making it difficult for physicians to prescribe or pharmacists to dispense these medications. As the letter to Gov. Ducey notes, “Many nations, including Turkey and India, are protecting medical workers and contacts of infected persons prophylactically.

According to worldometers.info, deaths per million persons from COVID-19 as of Apr 27 are 167 in the U.S., 33 in Turkey, and 0.6 in India.” After Morocco and Algeria began using HCQ, a trend break and sharp reduction in their COVID-19 case fatality rate occurred. Vaccines and results of randomized double-blind controlled trials of new drugs are at best months away. But patients are dying now, while affordable, long-used drugs would be available except for government restrictions, AAPS states. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has represented physicians of all specialties in all states since 1943. The AAPS motto is omnia pro aegroto, meaning everything for the patient.

Read more …

The FDA “cites an observed risk of heart complications”. Okay, okay, but let’s see the reports on heart complications among 70 years of malaria-, lupus-, and RA sufferers.

By the by, HCQ was never a controversial drug until Trump mentioned it.

Turkey Claims Success Treating COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)

Turkey has the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 117,000 confirmed infections. More than 3,000 people have died. But the government claims to have a lower fatality rate than the global average estimated by the World Health Organization at over 3%. The Turkish government imposed weekend-only lockdowns and banned only those under the age of 20 and over 65 from leaving their homes during the week, in an effort to limit the economic impact of the pandemic. Turkey’s Ministry of Health says the relatively low death toll is thanks to treatment protocols in the country, which involve two existing drugs — the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine touted by President Trump, and Japanese antiviral favipiravir.

“Doctors prescribe hydroxychloroquine to everyone who is tested positive for coronavirus” Dr. Sema Turan, a member of the Turkish government’s coronavirus advisory board, told CBS News. Hospitalized patients may be given favipiravir as well if they encounter breathing problems, she said. Turan said the combination of drugs appeared to “delay or eliminate the need for intensive care for patients.” But it’s important to note that Turkey’s use of the drug is not a clinically controlled trial; there’s no control group of patients not given the medication to compare the results against. Clinical trials have been underway in the U.S. and elsewhere, but the results aren’t yet clear. Preliminary studies on hydroxychloroquine have yielded uninspiring results thus far.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients, but has warned it should only be used in clinical trials or under the close observation of doctors, citing an observed risk of heart complications.

Read more …

They refused entry to the WHO team for many weeks in January-February. Anyone remember how long, and what dates?

WHO ‘Not Invited’ To Join China’s COVID-19 Investigations (Sky)

China has refused repeated requests by the World Health Organisation to take part in investigations into the origins of COVID-19, the WHO representative in China has told Sky News. “We know that some national investigation is happening but at this stage we have not been invited to join,” Dr Gauden Galea said. “WHO is making requests of the health commission and of the authorities,” he said. “The origins of virus are very important, the animal-human interface is extremely important and needs to be studied. “The priority is we need to know as much as possible to prevent the reoccurrence.” Asked by Sky News whether there was a good reason not to include the WHO, Dr Galea replied: “From our point of view, no.”

The Australian government has said that an independent public enquiry should be held into the origins of COVID-19, a measure EU countries are reportedly considering publicly endorsing. China has reacted angrily, saying that the investigation into the virus should be a matter for scientists. Dr Galea also told Sky News that the WHO had not been able to investigate logs from the two laboratories working with viruses in Wuhan, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan CDC. “From all available evidence, WHO colleagues in our three-level system are convinced that the origins are in Wuhan and that it is a naturally occurring, not a manufactured, virus,” he said.

Nevertheless, according to Dr Galea, the laboratory logs “would need to be part of any full report, any full look at the story of the origins”. Dr Galea defended the WHO’s role in the early days of the novel coronavirus outbreak. “We only know what China is reporting to us at that period in time.” From 3 January to 16 January, Wuhan officials reported no new coronavirus cases beyond the 41 already published. “Is it likely that there were only 41 cases for that period of time? I would think not,” Dr Galea told Sky News. [..] The WHO has been criticised for a tweet it posted on 14 January, saying “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission”. The same day, in Geneva, a WHO official said there had been “limited” human-to-human transmission.

Dr Galea told Sky News that, at the time, the “WHO was increasingly worried and convinced, suspecting strongly there would be human-to-human transmission. But as yet the cases that had been presented to us and the investigations had not yet confirmed that 100%.”

Read more …

The difference between underestimated and undercounted.

Sweden Forced To Admit Significant Under-Counting Of Coronavirus Deaths (Wsws)

Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare released figures Tuesday revealing that the death toll from the coronavirus has been underestimated in public figures. This came as total infections in the country of 10 million passed 20,000 yesterday, with almost 2,500 deaths. The discrepancy is due to the Public Health Agency’s policy of only counting deaths following a positive COVID-19 test confirmed by a laboratory. However, the National Board of Health and Welfare noted that as of 21 April, only 82 percent of the deaths it linked to coronavirus had a positive lab test. Assuming that this difference has persisted over the last week, there would have been approximately 400 more deaths from the virus than the 2,462 officially recorded yesterday by the Public Health Agency.

This significant under-counting of deaths is not to be explained by an error, but is the direct product of the Swedish government’s “herd immunity” strategy. Unlike its Nordic neighbours and other European countries, Sweden avoided imposing a general lock-down and even delayed for some time the issuing of limited social distancing guidelines. Gatherings of up to 50 people are still permitted, and shops, restaurants, schools, and non-essential businesses of all types remain open. As a result, the population has been subjected to a reckless experiment that some scientists have likened to playing “Russian roulette.” Even taking the lower official death toll as a point of comparison, the death rate in Sweden dramatically exceeds neighbouring countries.


In Norway, for example, which has a population approximately half the size of Sweden’s, 7,660 cases and 206 deaths have been recorded. Sweden therefore has a death rate more than five times higher than its neighbour per head of population. The refusal to impose strict social distancing measures is stretching the health care system to its limits. At Tuesday’s daily briefing, Johanna Sandwall, crisis manager at the National Board of Health and Welfare, stated that across the country, intensive care units have 30 percent spare capacity. However, she acknowledged that in some areas, there was zero spare capacity. Asked where these were, she refused to answer.

Read more …

Putin doesn’t meet anyone outside his closed quarters anymore.

Russian PM Mishustin Tests Positive For Virus (BBC)

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has gone to hospital after he was diagnosed with coronavirus. His positive test came on the same day that Russia recorded a record 7,099 cases, taking the total number of infections above 100,000. Mr Mishustin was given the role of prime minister in January and has been actively involved in Russia’s handling of the epidemic. Russian TV showed him telling President Vladimir Putin of his diagnosis. “I have just learned that the test on the coronavirus I took was positive,” the prime minister said during the video call.


Mr Mishustin suggested that First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov should take his place and Mr Putin agreed. Mr Mishustin will now go into self-isolation. “What’s happening to you can happen to anyone, and I’ve always been saying this,” Mr Putin told him. “You are a very active person. I would like to thank you for the work that has been done so far.”Despite the sharp rise in cases, the Moscow-based coronavirus headquarters says 1,073 people in Russia have now died of coronavirus, a relatively low number for Russia’s size. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia’s reaction to the pandemic has enabled it to avoid an “Italian scenario”.

Read more …

American Airlines, Delta, United To Require Facial Coverings On US Flights

Three of the largest four U.S. airlines said Thursday they will require passengers to wear facial coverings on U.S. flights, joining JetBlue Airways in taking the step to address the spread of the coronavirus and convince reluctant passengers to resume flying. United Airlines, Delta Air and American Airlines, along with the smaller Frontier Airlines, which is owned by private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC, announced they will require facial coverings next month. Delta and United’s new rules start May 4, while Frontier’s start May 8 and American’s requirements begin May 11. The policies exempt young children from wearing masks or other facial coverings.


Many U.S. airlines are also requiring pilots and flight attendants to use facial coverings while on board aircraft. Airlines in the United States have seen a nearly 95% drop in U.S. passengers and have slashed flight schedules. They are now working to reassure customers about the safety of air travel by instituting new cleaning and social distancing procedures. Some airline unions and U.S. lawmakers have urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require facial coverings for all passengers and crew. United said it will provide complimentary masks to passengers. Southwest Airlines), one of the largest U.S. airlines, has not required facial coverings.

Read more …

Dr. Doom should feel right at home in today’s world.

Ten Reasons Why A ‘Greater Depression’ For The 2020s Is Inevitable (Roubini)

After the 2007-09 financial crisis, the imbalances and risks pervading the global economy were exacerbated by policy mistakes. So, rather than address the structural problems that the financial collapse and ensuing recession revealed, governments mostly kicked the can down the road, creating major downside risks that made another crisis inevitable. And now that it has arrived, the risks are growing even more acute. Unfortunately, even if the Greater Recession leads to a lacklustre U-shaped recovery this year, an L-shaped “Greater Depression” will follow later in this decade, owing to 10 ominous and risky trends.

The first trend concerns deficits and their corollary risks: debts and defaults. The policy response to the Covid-19 crisis entails a massive increase in fiscal deficits – on the order of 10% of GDP or more – at a time when public debt levels in many countries were already high, if not unsustainable. Worse, the loss of income for many households and firms means that private-sector debt levels will become unsustainable, too, potentially leading to mass defaults and bankruptcies. Together with soaring levels of public debt, this all but ensures a more anaemic recovery than the one that followed the Great Recession a decade ago.

A second factor is the demographic timebomb in advanced economies. The Covid-19 crisis shows that much more public spending must be allocated to health systems, and that universal healthcare and other relevant public goods are necessities, not luxuries. Yet, because most developed countries have ageing societies, funding such outlays in the future will make the implicit debts from today’s unfunded healthcare and social security systems even larger. A third issue is the growing risk of deflation. In addition to causing a deep recession, the crisis is also creating a massive slack in goods (unused machines and capacity) and labour markets (mass unemployment), as well as driving a price collapse in commodities such as oil and industrial metals. That makes debt deflation likely, increasing the risk of insolvency.

Read more …

Those fears should be global.

Deflation Fears Creep Back In Japan (R.)

Consumer prices in Japan’s capital city fell for the first time in three years in April and national factory activity slumped, data showed on Friday, increasing worries the coronavirus pandemic could tip the country back into deflation. The darkening outlook in the world’s third-largest economy is already heightening calls for bigger spending, even after parliament approved an extra budget to fund a $1.1 trillion stimulus package to cushion the blow from the pandemic. “The government will work with the central bank to ensure Japan absolutely does not slip back into deflation,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a news conference on Friday.


Core consumer prices in Tokyo, a leading indicator of nationwide inflation trends, slipped 0.1% in April from a year earlier, government data showed, dashing expectations for a 0.1% rise and following a 0.4% increase in March. It was the first year-on-year decline since April 2017. While the drop was largely due to slumping energy costs following the collapse in the crude oil price, it has consolidated expectations that Japan will see consumer prices fall in coming months as the economy feels a sharper hit from the pandemic. A separate business survey on Friday confirmed Japan’s factory activity shrank at its fastest pace in more than a decade in April, as the coronavirus hurt output and new orders.

Read more …

As the government keeps bumbling its actions.

UK Factory Output At Risk Of More Than Halving (R.)

British factory output risks falling by more than half during the current quarter after 80% of manufacturers reported a collapse in orders due to the coronavirus, trade body Make UK said on Friday. Make UK said a survey of 297 members, conducted from April 20-27, showed that more than three quarters had already suffered a drop in sales. Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility said on April 14 that factory output could fall by 55% in the second quarter, as part of a scenario for the broader economy that showed a 35% plunge in total output if lockdown restrictions stay in place. “The extent of the collapse in demand is such it means that the recent OBR forecast could be an underestimate unless there is a quite remarkable turnaround which, to be frank, just isn’t going to happen,” Make UK chief executive Stephen Phipson said.


A separate survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed that private-sector activity fell by the most since July 2009 during the three months to April, and that output expectations were the weakest on record. Britain’s government ordered non-essential businesses to close to the public on March 23 and urged staff to work from home if possible. It is due to review the measures on May 7 but officials have said it is too soon for a major easing. Some 87% of manufacturers are still carrying out some operations, but more than a third had put staff members on leave under a government wage guarantee scheme which was likely to be needed beyond its planned end-June closing date, Make UK said.

Read more …

ECB Prepares For More Stimulus, Hints At Junk Bond Buys (R.)

The European Central Bank tweaked policy around the edges on Thursday but kept the door wide open to further stimulus — including potentially controversial purchases of junk debt — to help an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Facing an unprecedented recession, the ECB said it would make loans to banks even cheaper but kept the terms of its hallmark asset purchase scheme unchanged, disappointing investors who had bet on even more money-printing. Lockdowns in place across Europe to curb the spread of the virus have already cost millions their jobs and governments are borrowing record amounts just to keep their economies going until restrictions on businesses and households can be eased.


ECB President Christine Lagarde made clear the central bank for the 19 countries that use the euro currency would do its part but said political leaders must agree on more ambitious and coordinated action, a goal that has so far eluded them. “The euro area is facing an economic contraction of a magnitude and speed that are unprecedented in peacetime,” Lagarde told a news conference held via webcast. Speaking to an empty press room, Lagarde said the euro zone economy could shrink by 5 percent to 12 percent this year and may contract by 15 percent in the second quarter alone, a rate that would far outpace any decline during the global financial crisis a decade ago.

[..] As part of Thursday’s moves, the ECB said it would allow banks to borrow long-term funds for rates as low as minus 1 percent and it would set up a new shorter-term liquidity operation. Even if markets were disappointed with the measures, Lagarde made clear the ECB would do its job, a signal that more action is coming, perhaps as soon as June. She said the ECB could increase the size of its Emergency Pandemic Purchase Scheme (PEPP) and even extend it beyond 2020. When asked if the ECB could buy bonds below investment grade, she hinted at flexibility. “We have been very clear … we will not accept fragmentation of monetary transmission in the euro area or any pro-cyclical tightening of financing conditions,” Lagarde said. “With these two principles in mind, we will adjust as and when needed.”


The hint at future junk bond purchases is significant as Italy, the euro zone’s third-largest economy, is rated in the lowest investment-grade bracket and seen at risk of downgrades that could lose it access to ECB help just as it needs it most. Letting go of Italy would be politically unacceptable, however and the ECB’s recent decisions to temporarily buy Greek debt and accept bonds recently downgraded to junk as collateral from banks were seen as a way of preparing the ground.

Read more …

Obviously.

Trump Says He Could Bring Back Fired Ex-National Security Adviser Flynn (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would consider bringing his fired former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a key figure in the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, back into his administration. The president’s comments, the latest in a string of remarks about Flynn, go beyond prior suggestions by Trump that the retired general could be in line for a presidential pardon. “I would certainly consider it, yeah. I think he’s a fine man,” Trump told reporters, without specifying which role he might give to Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements in a charge brought by then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He is now insisting he did not lie and wants to back out of the plea.


Internal FBI documents turned over by the Justice Department on Wednesday showed FBI officials debated whether and when to warn Flynn that he could face criminal charges as they prepared for a January 2017 interview with him in the Russia probe. Trump blamed Flynn’s predicament on “dirty cops” and said the documents show Flynn was a victim. “He’s in the process of being exonerated. If you look at those notes from yesterday, that was total exoneration,” Trump said.

Read more …

To be continued. People will go to jail.

Sidney Powell: More Evidence Shows FBI Set Up Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (SAC)

In another dramatic twist of events 15 documents unsealed Thursday show that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team and senior FBI officials had worked diligently behind the scenes to target former National Security Advisor for President Trump Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has withdrawn his guilty plea and is fighting for his case to be dismissed by the courts. Further, the text messages reveal that there was an original 302 interview with Flynn that was never turned over to the defense. In those text messages between former FBI lovebirds Attorney Lisa Page and FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, they discuss the interview that was conducted with Flynn at the White House and allude to the alteration of the document.

Those explosive documents suggest that the FBI was planning on closing the case on Flynn because there was no proof that he committed any crimes. In fact, the case against Flynn was closed on January 4, 2017 but reopened, according to text messages unsealed and obtained by Powell. The documents, which reveal his FBI code name ‘Crossfire Razor,’ expose that the Department of Justice withheld large amounts of exculpatory evidence from his defense team and, according to his attorney Sidney Powell, reveal egregious government misconduct. “To be clear, we now know by the production of new text messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok that there in fact exists an original 302 document created by SSA 1 from his own notes of the January 24, 2017 ambush interview of Gen Flynn,” said Powell.

“Further, we know in fact that SSA 1’s original 302 document went to Stzrok who rewrote it substantially, but tried not to “completely re-write it so as to save [redacted] voice” and then was shared by Stzrok with a “pissed off” Page who revised it substantively yet again, crafting the narrative to charge Gen Flynn with a crime he did not commit.” She noted that as repugnant as this conduct is on its face, “the travel of this vital document establishes continuously – and until this day – the original FBI agents, the prosecutors, and FBI management’s determination to withhold exculpatory evidence required under Brady, among other violations of Gen Flynn’s civil rights. They withheld it not only to try to convict an innocent man, but to hide their own crimes.”

Read more …

 

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Apr 272020
 


Dorothea Lange On the road to Los Angeles, California 1937

 

Sweden’s Stay-Open Approach Is Creating Herd Immunity Quickly – Ambassador (JTN)
European Shares Rise On Airline Surge, Upbeat Earnings (R.)
Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, Pandemic Profiteers (IPS)
Over 100,000 Virus Deaths in 2020 If UK Lockdown Ends Early – Ferguson (St.)
UK Economy Will Take Three Years To Recover From Coronavirus – EY (G.)
One In Three UK Doctors Left Without Protective Gear (Ind.)
Italy To Reopen Factories In Staged End To Coronavirus Lockdown (R.)
Fauci Says US Coronavirus Testing Likely Will Double In The Coming Weeks (JTN)
US To Cap How Much Each Bank Can Lend Under Emergency Coronavirus Program (R.)
Not The End Of The Road For US Health Secretary Azar, Trump Says (JTN)
How the Unicorn Blowup & Oil Bust Bleed into CMBS (WS)
When Oil Became Waste (R.)
EU’s COVID Recovery Spending Should Be Guided By Green Finance Plan (R.)
Minks Test Positive For COVID19 At Two Dutch Farms (EN)
Israel’s Top Court Says Government Must Legislate COVID-19 Phone-Tracking (R.)
Assange: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition (Lauria)

 

 

We passed 3 million global cases.

 

• US records 1,330 #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins

• The US now has an overall death toll of 54,841, with 964,937 confirmed infections, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday)

 

• Sweden is the favorite of the anti-lockdown crowd, but contrary to what they claim, Sweden isn’t doing very well at all, so it’s a bit of a mystery why.

• Sweden is no. 8 (out of 200+) in the world in deaths per million people, in which it is 3 times worse than neighbors Denmark and 6 times worse than Norway and Finland. It’s even worse than the US.

• Deaths per million population (Worldometer):
Belgium 612
Spain 496
Italy 441
France 350
UK 305
Netherlands 261
Ireland 220
Sweden 217
Switzerland 186
US 167

 

 

NOTE: lowest number of global deaths for a long time.

Cases 3,008,196 (+ 73,557 from yesterday’s 2,934,639)

Deaths 207,361 (+ 3,678 from yesterday’s 203,683)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – Among Closed Cases, Deaths have fallen to 19%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

As an aside: the ambassador claims that “About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity..” The only numbers of any antibodies I’ve seen on this globally were in the region of 5% or less. How then do the Swedes measure it?

Sweden’s Stay-Open Approach Is Creating Herd Immunity Quickly – Ambassador (JTN)

Sweden’s decision to keep schools, malls and restaurants open with limited restrictions during the pandemic is yielding success, with its capital city about to reach herd immunity in the next few weeks, according to the country’s ambassador to the United States. “About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity,” Ambassador Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter told NPR in an interview published Sunday. “We could reach herd immunity in the capital as early as next month.” Herd immunity means between 60% and 80% percent of a country’s population has become immune to a virus, either recovering from it or through immunization. Sweden banned gatherings of over 50 people but otherwise left schools, restaurants and malls open, provided citizens observe social distancing.


Facilities that don’t comply have been aggressively closed down. Sweden has reported more than 18,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,194 deaths as of Sunday. The country’s approach to the pandemic has bucked much of the Western world, and generated controversy. “We share the same goal as all other countries, and that is of course to save as many lives as possible and protect public health,” Olofsdotter explained to NPR. “So we face the same reality as everyone else. But what’s different, and I think it’s important to underline that all countries are different, is that politicians take the measures that they think works best for their country and their general public.”

Read more …

Airlines receive hand-outs, their shares surge. Why oh why should this proft go to shareholders, when it’s made possible only through taxpayer dollars?? The Airfrance/KLM CEO was set to get a huge bonus because he managed to get the state bailouts; only at the very last minute did a few parliamentarians prevent that from happening? Doesn’t anybody care anymore that we don’t have financial markets but pretend we do?

European Shares Rise On Airline Surge, Upbeat Earnings (R.)

European shares rose on Monday, as airline stocks soared on hopes of state support, while a slew of upbeat earnings added to optimism over signs many countries would soon ease tough lockdown measures. Shares of Lufthansa jumped 7.2%, with Berlin expected to decide on state support, while Air France KLM rose 5.2% after the government said it would give a 7-billion-euros ($7.6 billion) aid package. Positive quarterly reports also helped. German drugs and pesticides company Bayer gained 2.8% and Deutsche Bank jumped 7.7% after their first-quarter earnings topped market expectations.


The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 1.7% by 0720 GMT, following gains in Asian markets after the Bank of Japan pledged to buy unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low. The European benchmark ended with weekly losses on Friday, hit by the lack of details in a trillion-euro emergency fund agreed by the euro zone leaders. However, investors are pinning hopes on further stimulus expansion by the European Central Bank, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday. Shares in Adidas, however, fell 1.6% as it reported a 93% plunge in first-quarter profit, and warned of a deeper hit to second-quarter revenue as lockdowns forced it to close stores.

Read more …

From March 18 to April 10, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15%.

Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10% gain.

Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, Pandemic Profiteers (IPS)

Billionaires dominate our politics, culture, and economy. Their wealth, as this report shows, has concentrated mightily over the last four decades — even as the number of U.S. households with zero or negative net worth is increasing and most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s “pre-existing condition.” In this report, we show how billionaire wealth has grown astoundingly over the last few decades — and, for some “pandemic profiteers,” even more dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis — even as billionaire tax obligations have plummeted. If this inequality isn’t treated with both short and long-term tax reforms and oversight, America’s “pre-existing condition” of extreme inequality could overwhelm not only our economy, but our democracy itself.

• Between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the nation’s wealthiest 170 billionaires saw their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars. Eight have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.

• As of April 15, Jeff Bezos’s fortune had increased by an estimated $25 billion since January 1, 2020. This unprecedented wealth surge is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Honduras, $23.9 billion in 2018.

• Between March 18 and April 10, 2020, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15 percent. Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10 percent gain.

• Billionaire wealth rebounded quickly after the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2010 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth increased 80.6 percent, more than five times the median wealth increase for U.S. households.

• Between 1990 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth soared 1,130 percent — an increase more than 200 times greater than the 5.37 percent growth of U.S. median wealth.

• Measured as a percentage of their wealth, the tax obligations of America’s billionaires decreased 79 percent between 1980 and 2018.

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The UK is in no position to relax.

Over 100,000 Virus Deaths in 2020 If UK Lockdown Ends Early – Ferguson (St.)

The UK death toll could jump past 100,000 by the end of the year if lockdown is lifted too early, a top professor has warned. Imperial College epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson said if the healthy go back to work while the vulnerable remain in lockdown there will be a huge increase in virus fatalities. The expert said social isolation will need to be kept in place until a pharmaceutical intervention is found, whether that is a vaccine or treatment drugs, and one is unlikely within the next year. His warning comes as the British Government faces intense pressure to reveal its Covid-19 lockdown exit strategy .


Speaking to UnHerd, Prof Ferguson said he is sceptical that the UK can achieve a level of shielding that will be effective. “If you just achieve 80 per cent shielding – and 80 per cent reduction in infection risk in those groups – we still project that you would well over 100,000 deaths this year from that kind of strategy,” he said. The Government is under pressure from senior Tories to relax the strict social-distancing measures amid concern at the damage they are doing to the economy. Sir Keir Starmer has also called on the Prime Minister to produce a clear lockdown exit strategy.

https://twitter.com/ThePalpitations/status/1254529121134264322

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Modeling in finance is as bad as in epidemiology.

UK Economy Will Take Three Years To Recover From Coronavirus – EY (G.)

It will take the UK economy three years to fully recover from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading forecasting group. As the damage for jobs and growth unfolds, the EY Item Club said it would take until 2023 for the the economy to return to the level reached at the end of last year due to the depth of the crisis. One month on from the imposition of lockdown measures across Britain, effectively bringing large swathes of the economy to a halt, the group warned that almost half of all consumer spending in 2020 – the major engine of UK growth over recent decades – is at risk of either being delayed or lost completely.


The group of economists said GDP was set to collapse by 6.8% in 2020, before returning to positive growth of 4.5% in 2021 as businesses try to make up for lost time and consumers ramp up their spending again. The forecast is based on the assumption that some lockdown restrictions will start to be eased in May, with controls relaxed further in June. As such, the Item Club believes the economy should benefit later in the year from a degree of pent-up demand as people are allowed to travel again and return to the shops. Howard Archer, the chief economic adviser to the Item Club, said the report assumes that the government’s measures aimed at supporting businesses and saving jobs would have a significant positive impact. “[The support] is absolutely crucial to limiting the potential longer-term damage to the economy,” he said.

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After all the lockdown- and economic recovery talk, there’s still the real world.

One In Three UK Doctors Left Without Protective Gear (Ind.)

More doctors are being forced to treat coronavirus patients without protective equipment, it has been revealed, as Dominic Raab refused to say when shortages would finally end. A third of physicians working in high-risk settings have reported running short of long-sleeved gowns or full-face visors – a situation that has “worsened over the past three weeks”, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said. Of those working in other hospital areas, 40 per cent are not always equipped with eye protection, while 15.5 per cent are sometimes left without fluid-repellent face masks. They are faced with the “awful” choice “between protecting our own lives or protecting those of the patients we treat”, one physician said.


The grim survey results were disclosed as Mr Raab admitted the government has fallen short on protecting frontline NHS and care staff, more than a month after Boris Johnson insisted PPE would be provided. Asked when there would be “enough”, the stand-in prime minister said: “It’s very difficult to say that with precision and the kind of reliability that you want as a guarantee.” And asked to acknowledge that some medical and care staff had been let down, Mr Raab replied: “I think we’re not in the place on PPE that we’d want to be.”

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Can’t do anything that involves crowds. Not for a very long time. Forget about soccer games.

Italy To Reopen Factories In Staged End To Coronavirus Lockdown (R.)

Italy will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday. More than two months after the first case of COVID-19 appeared in a small town outside Milan and following weeks of lockdown, Italy is looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a new wave of infections. “We expect a very complex challenge,” Conte said as he outlined the road map to restarting activities put into hibernation since early March. “We will live with the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible.”

Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen fully from the beginning of June, although takeaway business will be possible earlier. “The reopening is allowed on condition that all companies involved strictly respect security protocols in the workplace,” Conte said, adding that the reopening would lay the ground for deeper reforms of the economy in the months ahead. In addition, parks will be allowed to reopen and limited family visits and funerals with no more than 15 people present will be permitted. But movement between regions remains suspended and people moving about will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reasons for their journeys.

Museums and libraries can reopen from May 18, when sports teams will also be able to resume group training, although Conte said conditions would have to be assessed before any decision on resuming the top-flight Serie A soccer championship. Schools will remain shut, however, until the start of the new academic year in September, leaving families facing childcare problems for months to come.

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Let’s make a deal: stop talking about relaxing lockdowns until you can test 1 million people per day. That would still mean it takes a year to test every American just once. Which is nowhere near enough.

Fauci Says US Coronavirus Testing Likely Will Double In The Coming Weeks (JTN)

The current amount of COVID-19 testing likely will double in the coming weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a National Academy of Sciences panel about the virus. “We’re doing about 1.5, 2 million per week,” said Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will. “Testing is an important part of what we’re doing, but is not the only part,” Fauci noted. “But no doubt it is important to be able to do the identification, isolation and contact tracing.”


Fauci, who has factored prominently in the daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House, said it is important to have “enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases.” As the nation moves toward reopening in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has issued Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, which include three phases.

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aka lend to the big boys until there’s nothing left.

US To Cap How Much Each Bank Can Lend Under Emergency Coronavirus Program (R.)

The U.S. government notified lenders on Sunday that it will cap how much each bank can lend under the emergency loan program designed to keep workers on payrolls amid the coronavirus pandemic, hours ahead of the reopening of the lending program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will impose a maximum dollar amount for individual lenders at 10% of Paycheck Protection Program funding, or $60 billion per lender, and pace the applications filed, according to SBA guidance on Sunday to lenders that have received a significant number of applications. The steps are “prudent and reasonable” due to the unprecedented demand for the loans, the memo said. U.S. banks were girding over the weekend for another frantic race to grab $310 billion in fresh small-business aid due to be released by the government.


The SBA was due to reopen PPP funding at 10:30 a.m. ET (1430 GMT) on Monday, allowing lenders to resume processing piles of backlogged applications from businesses hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. The SBA will also take applications in one bulk submission with a minimum of 15,000 loans, the SBA said in the memo. The PPP came under criticism after a number of publicly traded companies with thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales got loans, while smaller businesses did not. Nearly 5,000 lenders, including big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup as well as community banks, participated in the prior, $349-billion round of funding. No lender accounted for more than 5% of that total, the SBA said previously.

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US media need this kind of topic; they’d be completely lost without Trump.

Not The End Of The Road For US Health Secretary Azar, Trump Says (JTN)

President Trump emphatically denied Sunday that he is planning to fire Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar, calling reports of an impending dismissal “fake news.” Trump made the comments on Twitter, after multiple reports surfaced over the weekend that Azar’s job is in jeopardy, including in The Wall Street Journal. “Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be “fired” by me are Fake News,” Trump tweeted. “The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask.


He added for emphasis: “Alex is doing an excellent job!” White House spokesman Judd Deere also called the reports inaccurate. “The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the President’s priorities,” Deere said. “Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19.”

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CMBS = Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities. The Fed will bail them out.

How the Unicorn Blowup & Oil Bust Bleed into CMBS (WS)

The office segment of the commercial real estate market – and the debt and the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) that are backed by it – are going through serious gyrations on a combination of factors. Companies have figured out how to make work-from-home manageable. Other companies are moving out, leaving buildings vacant, or are deferring rent payments. Landlords whose cashflow from rents has suddenly crashed are failing to make their mortgage payments or are asking for forbearance. And CMBS are at the receiving end of the process.


That any return to the old normal for landlords, banks, and holders of CMBS is just a dream is now being increasingly accepted, including by Larry Fink, CEO of mega asset-manager BlackRock: “I don’t think any company’s going to go back to 100% of the workforce in the office,” he said at an online event. “That means less congestion in cities. It means, more importantly, less need for commercial real estate.” This new era of office real estate comes on top of the problems currently erupting: Tenants moving out for nicer digs, now that there are plenty available, or tenants laying off people and possibly shutting down. So here are two specific examples of how this is bleeding into CMBS.

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Given the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, plus the ubiquity of plastics made from oil, its overall effect has always been at least 90% waste.

When Oil Became Waste (R.)

The magnitude of how damaged the energy industry is came into full view on April 20 when the benchmark price of U.S. oil futures, which had never dropped below $10 a barrel in its nearly 40-year history, plunged to a previously unthinkable minus $38 a barrel. In just a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed so much fuel demand as billions of people curtail travel that it has done what financial crashes, recessions and wars had failed to ever do – leave the United States with so much oil there was nowhere to put it. While the unusual circumstance of negative oil prices may not be repeated, many in the industry say it is a harbinger for more bleak days ahead, and that years of overinvestment will not correct in a period of weeks or even months.


“What happened in the futures contract the other day indicated things are starting to get bad earlier than expected,” said Frederick Lawrence, vice president of economics and international affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “People are getting notices from pipeline companies that say they can’t take their crude anymore. That means you’re shutting down the well yesterday.” Evidence of the erosion of value for a product that has been a mainstay of global society since the late 19th century abounded across the world last week. In Russia, one of the world’s top producers, the industry is considering resorting to burning its oil to take it off the market, sources told Reuters.

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And who are the experts? Investors. Who only want “to go green” because it promises a big profit.

Green is turning into a swearword, but so many people are invested in it they fail to notice.

The Green New Deals will destroy our ability to save anything, not help it. They will be a huge pool of malinvestment and gobble up what we have left.

EU’s COVID Recovery Spending Should Be Guided By Green Finance Plan (R.)

Planned European Union rules requiring investments to be in line with climate policy should be used to guide economic recovery measures after the coronavirus pandemic, despite not yet being law, the bloc’s expert advisers said on Monday. With the bloc headed for a steep recession and its executive, the European Commission, drawing up a trillion-euro recovery plan, calls are growing from politicians, companies and campaigners to make sure the money does not prop up environmentally damaging industries. The Commission had planned to introduce rules on which investments can be called “green” from 2021, forcing providers of financial products to disclose which investments meet the criteria – known as the EU “sustainable finance taxonomy”.


However, the Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG), a 35-member panel of investors, business leaders and climate policy experts, said the rules – designed by the TEG, at the Commission’s request – should inform stimulus plans now. “The opportunity for a resilient, sustainable and fair economic recovery is right before us. We encourage all governments, public institutions and the private sector to use the right tools for the job,” it said in a statement. The TEG has also drawn up a green bond standard for the EU and a framework to assess whether financial instruments, contracts or investment funds conform with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “There’s going to be, potentially, a surge of public and private spending to reboot the economy,” said Nathan Fabian, chief responsible investment officer at the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment investor group and member of the TEG.

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“Authorities “assume that people infected animals”…

Minks Test Positive For COVID19 At Two Dutch Farms (EN)

Two Dutch mink farms have reported cases of COVID-19 among their animals, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture confirmed on Sunday. Minks at the two farms located within 15km of each other in southern Netherlands “showed various symptoms including respiratory problems,” the ministry said in a statement. Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals bred for their furs. An investigation has been launched to determine the source of the infections. Authorities “assume that people infected animals” as the two farms had employees with symptoms for COVID-19 and stressed that although “human to animal contamination is possible, the impact of this mink contamination on human health is currently negligible”.


To prevent the spread of the disease to other farms, both animals and manure are banned from leaving the infected farms. Samples are being collected from healthy and infected animals with authorities also collecting air and dust samples in the vicinity “as a precaution”. The ministry said public roads around the two frame have been closed and advised people not to walk or cycle within a 400-metre radius until the samples have been analysed.

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They didn’t even bother about legislation. Betcha that’s true for most countries.

Israel’s Top Court Says Government Must Legislate COVID-19 Phone-Tracking (R.)

Citing grave dangers to privacy, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that the government must bring its use of mobile phone tracking deployed in the battle against the new coronavirus under legislation. Circumventing parliament in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved emergency regulations that enabled the Shin Bet internal security service to tap into cellular data to retrace the movements of people infected by the virus. The technology, customarily used for anti-terrorism, has since yielded data used by the Health Ministry to locate and alert those who have been in their vicinity. The practice has been subjected to some parliamentary oversight following a subsequent court ruling.


Accepting petitions from Israeli rights groups, the Supreme Court said the government must begin legislation by April 30 and complete it within a few weeks if it wanted to continue tracking people’s phones in its bid to stop the virus spreading. “The state’s choice to use its preventative security service for monitoring those who wish it no harm, without their consent, raises great difficulties and a suitable alternative, compatible with the principles of privacy, must be found,” the court said. Citing freedom of the press, the court also ruled that monitoring of journalists confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus can only be done with their consent. If they refuse, members of the media could seek an injunction against the practice, in order to protect their sources.

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After this morning, proceedings have been adjourned until 4 May. Defense and prosecutors both want the May 18 hearing pushed forward to September at the earliest. Even highly partial judge Vanessa Baraitser says question of 18 May start date now “at best uncertain”.

The next period the court would be available for 3 weeks is from 2 November. She should order him freed on bail until then. No threat to his environment, no flight risk.

Assange: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition (Lauria)

The United States has had two sedition laws in its history. Both were repealed within three years. Britain repealed its 17th Century sedition law in 2009. Though this crime is no longer on the books, the crime of sedition is really what both governments are accusing Julian Assange of. The campaign of smears, the weakness of the case and the language of his indictment proves it. The imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher has been indicted on 17 counts of espionage under the 1917 U.S. Espionage Act on a technicality: the unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified material—something that has been performed by countless journalists and publishers over the decades. It conflicts head on with the First Amendment. But espionage isn’t really what the government is after. Assange did not pass state secrets to an enemy of the United States, as in a classic espionage case, but rather to the public, which the government might well consider the enemy. Assange revealed crimes and corruption by the state.

Punishing such legitimate criticism of government as sedition has deep roots in British and American history. Sedition was seen in the Elizabethan era as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority.” Punishment included beheading and dismemberment. “In their efforts to suppress political discussion or criticism of the government or the governors of Tudor England, the Privy Council and royal judges needed a new formulation of a criminal offence … This new crime they found in the offence of sedition, which was defined and punished by the Court of Star Chamber.… If the facts alleged were true, that only made the offence worse,” wrote historian Roger B. Manning. Sedition fell short of treason and did not need to provoke violence.

Though the Star Chamber was abolished in 1641, the British Sedition Act of 1661, a year after the Restoration, said, “…a seditious intention is an intention to bring into hatred or contempt, or to exite disaffection against the person of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, or the government and constitution of the United Kingdom.” Under President John Adams, the first U.S. Sedition Act in 1798 put it this way: “To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the United States, or to stir up sedition, or to excite unlawful combinations against the government, or to resist it, or to aid or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.”

While WikiLeaks publications have never been proven false, the U.S. government is certainly portraying its work as “scandalous and malicious writing against the United States” and has accused him of encouraging “hostile designs” against the country. Congress did not renew the Act in 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson pardoned those serving sentences for sedition and refunded their fines.


1918 protest in front of the White House against the Sedition Act.

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Apr 132020
 


John M. Fox WCBS studios, 49 East 52nd Street, NYC 1948

 

Obesity The Single Biggest Factor In New York COVID19 Hospitalizations (ZDN)
Coronavirus Spreads At Least 13 Feet, Travels On Shoes: CDC (NYP)
Fauci: US Given Wrong Information About Virus “Right From The Beginning” (JTN)
102-Year-Old NY Woman Beats COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)
New Zealand Preparing To End Lockdown (Metro)
America Should Be Ready For 18 Months Of Shutdowns – Fed’s Neel Kashkari (MW)
China Is Censoring Research On COVID-19 Origins (NW)
Experts See Worrisome Link Between Coronavirus, Pollution (Hill)
After The Lockdown, Europe Debates Exit Strategies (AFR)
Giant Oil Output Cuts Make Ripple, Not Big Waves (R.)
Greek Government To Go After Priests Flouting Quarantine (K.)
Lockdown: Not Novels And Family Time But Food Parcels And Hardship (G.)

 

 

I must admit I’m getting fed up with the stories and narratives. People may have short attention spans, but how is that a reason to just go and invent narratives about something as serious as a pandemic? The disgusting morally hollow Brits celebrating the recovery of Boris Johnson as he’s thanking the same NHS he actively helped defund, at the same time that he’s murdering Julian Assange, get a life.

From Dr. Fauci I don’t expect anything else anymore than putting the blame on anyone but himself. “We got the wrong infomation!” If you were an investor, that would be your fault, not someone else’s. See, the WHO will make the same argument: the Chinese gave us false info, don’t blame us. But if you’re in positions like that, it’s your own responsibility to get your info right. And if you fail at that, to be open and honest about it.

The pedestal upon which New Zealand PM Jacintha Ardern is placed -“a masterclass in crisis management!- while one look at a timeline shows that she, too, like all the rest, was way too late in her reaction. The WHO was criminally slow in declaring a pandemic, they finally did so on March 11, and STILL New Zealand didn’t lock down. Ardern closed the borders only on March 19 and locked down the country on the 26th. She’s just lucky New Zealand has the geographical advantages it has, far away from anyone else.

 

 

The next narrative has already started: what are we going to do after it’s all over. But how are you going to do the right thing today when all you think about is tomorrow? Moreover, the virus hasn’t even started for the next 5 billion people, who often live in the most vulnerable places. And we’re going to forget about that just because the West, China, Japan, can’t keep focused for more than 2 weeks?

 

 

Cases 1,862,584 (+ 72,011 from yesterday’s 1,790,573)

Deaths 114,982 (+ 5,328 from yesterday’s 109,654)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% !-

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

If this is why the US gets hits so hard, watch out for Mexico. Chronic inflammation sounds like a credible factor.

Obesity The Single Biggest Factor In New York COVID19 Hospitalizations (ZDN)

For months, scientists have been poring over data about cases and deaths to understand why it is that COVID-19 manifests itself in different ways around the world, with certain factors such as the age of the population repeatedly popping up as among the most significant determinants. Now, one of the largest studies conducted of COVID-19 infection in the United States has found that obesity of patients was the single biggest factor in whether those with COVID-19 had to be admitted to a hospital. “The chronic condition with the strongest association with critical illness was obesity, with a substantially higher odds ratio than any cardiovascular or pulmonary disease,” write lead author Christopher M. Petrilli of the NYU Grossman School and colleagues in a paper “Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with Covid-19 disease in New York City..”


Among other things, the presence of obesity in the study points to a potentially important role of heightened inflammation in patients, a phenomenon that has been a topic of much speculation in numerous studies of the disease. Petrilli and colleagues at the Grossman School, and doctors at the NYU Langone Health center, studied the electronic patient records of 4,103 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the New York City healthcare system between March 1st and April 2nd. It is “the largest case series from the United States to date,” write Petrilli and colleagues. The motivation of the work, they write, was that “Understanding which patients are most at risk for hospitalization is crucial for many reasons,” such as how to triage patients and how to anticipate medical needs.


click to enlarge in new tab

Half of those patients were admitted to a hospital. What the researchers found is that “In the decision tree for admission, the most important features were age >65 and obesity.” Obesity, in this case, was measured as weight relative to a person’s height. The authors use a metric scale, so a body mass index of 30 kilograms of weight and higher is considered obese. The “decision tree” in this case refers to the statistical method they used to analyze the patient data. A decision tree is a way to group members of a sample based on their shared characteristics. “For a given population, the decision tree classification method splits the population into two groups using one feature at a time, starting with the feature that maximizes the split between groups relative to the outcome in question.” They keep splitting groups into smaller and smaller groups until they arrive at groups that “[have] similar characteristics and outcomes.”

https://twitter.com/StephanieKelton/status/1249465834029932545

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Twitter: “Which is right? CDC officially says 6’ for #SocialDistancing . But a new CDC report, says #COVID19 can travel through the air at least 13 feet. Meanwhile, WHO says 3’ should be enough. And Dr Fauci rejects recent research, wherein virus could travel up to 27 feet.”

Coronavirus Spreads At Least 13 Feet, Travels On Shoes: CDC (NYP)

The coronavirus can travel through the air at least 13 feet — more than twice as far as social distancing guidelines, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research published in the federal agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal shows the contagion spreading far further than previous official suggestions — and also getting spread on people’s shoes. “The aerosol distribution characteristics … indicate that the transmission distance of [COVID-19] might be 4 m,” the report says, translating as more than 13 feet. “Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive,” the researchers wrote of samples taken at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers.” The report, based on research by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, appears to reaffirm fears that the current social distancing guidelines of 6 feet may not be enough. It also suggests people — especially medical staff on the frontlines — could inadvertently be spreading the bug away from its source, recommending stringent disinfecting measures.

High levels were also found on frequently touched surfaces like computer mice, trashcans and bed rails. The CDC recommends 6 feet for social distancing, while the World Health Organization claims just 3 feet should be enough, less than a quarter of the distance the current study suggests it spreads. Research last month said the virus could travel up to 27 feet. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, however called that “terribly misleading,” saying it would require a “very, very robust, vigorous, achoo sneeze” to travel that far and the scenario was “not practical.”

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First WHO warning was December 31.

Fauci: US Given Wrong Information About Virus “Right From The Beginning” (JTN)

The U.S. was given inaccurate information about the coronavirus at the beginning of the crisis Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Saturday. When Fox News host Jesse Watters asked Fauci if he believes China or the World Health Organization “misled” him or if the WHO leader himself could have been “deceived,” Fauci noted that while he does not know the details behind the inaccurate information, it was disseminated from the start of the crisis. “You know I don’t know where the missteps went, the only thing I know what the end result was, that early on we did not get correct information,” Fauci said.


“And the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning because you know when the first cases came out, that were identified I think on December 31st in China and we became aware of this, they said this was just animal to human period.” “Now we know retrospectively that there was ongoing transmission from human to human in China, probably at least a few weeks before then,” he said. Fauci said once the illness hit the U.S. it became evident “that was misinformation right from the beginning.” He added that “whosever fault that was, you know, we’re gonna go back and take a look at that when this is all over, but clearly it was not the right information that was given to us.”

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She’s Greek, and those guys are all doing well. It’s the olive oil.

102-Year-Old NY Woman Beats COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)

A 102-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the coronavirus defied the odds and is now recovering. At 102 years old, Sophie Avouris, of Yonkers, has seen a lot in her life, entering this world in 1918 at the start of the Spanish flu. “She survived it, thank goodness,” her daughter, Effie Strouthides, said. Strouthides says back in March, doctors at a Manhattan nursing home and rehab facility called to tell her Avouris, who was recovering at the facility from hip surgery, tested positive for COVID-19. “And we were thinking at 102 years old, at high risk, she might not make it,” Strouthides said. Because the facility was on lockdown, Strouthides called her mom to have a conversation that she thought would be the last.


“Once or twice I managed to let her know how much I loved her and she told me how much she loved me,” she said. According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been adults who are 65 and older. Dr. Taimur Mirza oversaw Avouris’ care and says her prognosis initially was not good. “Her course in the beginning, it was a little bit rough. For a while there, she required some oxygen, then we started her on the combination of the hydroxychloroquine and the azithromycin,” Mirza said. After a week of treatment, Avouris started showing signs of improvement. By week three, she no longer had the virus. “She didn’t have the cough anymore, and, you know, it was just miraculous to see a woman of her age recover from this,” Mirza said.

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Waaaay too late.

New Zealand Preparing To End Lockdown (Metro)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country is ‘turning a corner’ in the battle against coronavirus after recording the lowest number of new cases in three weeks. She praised residents for mounting a ‘wall of defence’ which is ‘breaking the chain of transmission’ following the swift implementation of lockdown measures. The country has recorded 992 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with just one death so far. Health officials said there were 29 new cases on Thursday, the fourth successive daily drop since 89 were recorded on Sunday and the latest sign of a flattening of the curve. Ms Ardern suggested the four-week lockdown could be softened in just over a weeks’ time, allowing some to return to work if social distancing rules can be maintained.

The PM said New Zealanders’ strict adherence to the rules during the four-week lockdown had ‘saved lives’. She added: ‘At the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge. ‘In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence. ‘You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.’ But she cautioned against taking a foot off the pedal, adding: ‘We have what we need to win this marathon. You have stayed calm, you’ve been strong, you’ve saved lives, and now we need to keep going.’ Ms Ardern said the government will decide on April 20 whether to relax or extend lockdown measures, which are currently due to expire on April 22.

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But don’t worry about Kashkari, he’ll be fine. No matter how many trillions he wastes.

America Should Be Ready For 18 Months Of Shutdowns – Fed’s Neel Kashkari (MW)

‘This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine. It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.’ That’s Neel Kashkari, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, painting a rather gloomy picture in a CBS interview on Sunday morning of what lies ahead for the U.S. economy as the country continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak. Kashkari, while acknowledging the downside of what a prolonged shutdown could mean for the economy, said the U.S., ‘barring some health-care miracle,’ is looking at an 18-month strategy of rolling shutdowns based on what has happened in other countries.


“We could have these waves of flareups, controls, flareups and controls until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “We need to find ways of getting the people who are healthy, who are at lower risk back to work and then providing the assistance to those who are most at risk, who are going to need to be quarantined or isolated for the foreseeable future.” Looking ahead, Kashkari doesn’t envision a quick rebound for the U.S. economy, which has already endured more than 16 million job losses in the past three weeks. “This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.”

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This started back in December.

China Is Censoring Research On COVID-19 Origins (NW)

The Chinese government appears to be censoring research on the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic by requiring scientists to run their studies by the Ministry of Science and Technology, a since-deleted page on a university website shows. According to a cached version of that page from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan that Newsweek reviewed, requirements were updated so that scientists would need to have their study approved by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology before publication: “1. Academic papers on the traceability of the new coronavirus must be reviewed by the academic committee of the school before publication, focusing on the authenticity of the paper and whether it is suitable for publication.

After the review is passed, the school reports to the Ministry of Science and Technology, which can only be published after the review by the Ministry of Science and Technology.” China has faced repeated internal and external accusations of censorship surrounding research into COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Local Chinese officials in Wuhan also are known to have suppressed information about the initial outbreak, even detaining whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang. Wenliang later died from COVID-19, and Chinese authorities offered a “solemn apology” to the medical practitioner’s family for how he had been treated. Back in February, The New York Times shared videos of Chinese citizens warning that research into coronavirus was being censored and removed from the internet.

“My purpose is to make sure that all this information is not lost or deleted,” one of the unidentified Chinese nationals said with her face covered in the clip. “We don’t know what information and when the authorities will censor,” another unidentified person said. “So we are trying to be faster than the authorities.” U.S. government officials, and other international leaders, have criticized China for not being transparent about the coronavirus pandemic. Toronto-based cyber research group Citizen Lab reported in early March that Chinese social media had begun censoring keywords associated with the coronavirus as well as criticism of the government’s response to the crisis, according to Reuters.

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Since there is such a link between pollution and literally everything else on the planet, feel free to consider this a piece of empty fluff.

Experts See Worrisome Link Between Coronavirus, Pollution (Hill)

Advocates and Democratic lawmakers are raising concerns over new research that suggests air pollution, water access and other environmental conditions are exacerbating the effects of the coronavirus on low-income and minority communities. A recent Harvard study found that people who live in areas with more exposure to air pollution are more likely to die from the pandemic, while other research shows that black and Latino communities people are disproportionately affected by the disease. “In public health, it’s often said that your ZIP code is more indicative of your health outcomes than your genetic code,” Lubna Ahmed, the director of environmental health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, told The Hill.


Polluting industries are frequently located near low-income and minority communities. One assessment published by the American Public Health Association in 2018 showed that nonwhite and low-income communities are harder hit by pollution. Authors of the more recent Harvard study on the coronavirus said their results “suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes.” That study added to a growing body of research on the overall health risks to communities exposed to high pollution levels, neighborhoods that are often occupied by people of color and low-income residents.

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“But first they need to actually work.”

After The Lockdown, Europe Debates Exit Strategies (AFR)

Across Europe there are signs that observance of stringent social distancing measures by the vast majority of the public – better compliance than many experts had expected – has led to a big decline in viral transmission. The key figure is the “reproduction number” R, measuring the average number of new cases generated by an infected individual. If R is above 1, an outbreak spreads; if it is below 1, it contracts. For COVID-19, R was between 2.5 and 3 in most places before any measures were introduced. According to a leading scientist in the UK’s fight against the disease, the latest evidence shows a steep fall in the R rate to around 0.6 now, which would quickly suppress the pandemic. However, deaths are still rising fast because of the delay between infection and when serious symptoms develop.

[..] If the UK can achieve its target of carrying out 100,000 tests a day by the end of April and ramp up capacity further over the following months, it will be possible to test individuals in the community who report COVID-19 symptoms. In theory, this would then be followed by the tracing, testing and isolating of people who have been in contact with them if they are infected. This type of contact tracing, which involves questioning patients directly, took place when the first UK cases were reported but soon stopped when the pandemic swamped the country’s extremely limited testing capacity. “Evidence suggests that countries that are able to do very high levels of testing have many more options to allow people greater social mobility,” says Steven Riley at Imperial College London. “Some really innovative solutions will play a part. Contact tracing based on a mobile phone app is being looked at.”

[..] For many scientists, the key to ending the lockdowns is mass testing for COVID-19 infection, which detects the presence of the virus. Paul Romer, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has outlined a plan for mass testing in the US that he believes would allow for much of the economy to reopen. However, this requires each person being tested every 14 days – or 22 million tests a day – a mammoth undertaking in terms of labs, chemicals, health workers and data analysis, even if such tests are constitutionally acceptable. In the UK, the epidemiologist Julian Peto has made a similar proposal – weekly tests, running to 10 million a day. Large-scale antibody testing, to show whether individuals have been infected in the past and still have some immunity, is a more tantalising prospect because they would only need to be conducted occasionally and could potentially be bought at a pharmacy.

But first they need to actually work. Specialised labs are carrying out studies to determine antibody levels in samples of the population but no one has yet developed an antibody kit reliable enough for widespread use in homes. Kits evaluated by the UK government have failure rates of 30 to 50 per cent. Eventually antibody tests could give individuals “immunity passports” to show that they are safe from infection, Professor Riley says, “but there’s some very important science to do first”. The key questions that have still to be answered are how different antibody levels relate to resistance to infection and how long any immune protection is likely to last.

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Demand is down 20%, production maybe 10%. You do the math.

Giant Oil Output Cuts Make Ripple, Not Big Waves (R.)

Muted oil price gains on Monday show record output cuts by giant producers will still leave them with a mountain to climb to restore market balance, industry watchers said, with the coronavirus pandemic decimating demand just as stocks swell. The morning after OPEC and allies led by Russia agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June – equal to nearly 10% of global supply – prices gained less than 5% and are still 50-60% down for the year so far. That headline cut by the grouping known as OPEC+ may be more than four times deeper than the previous record set in 2008, and may provide a floor for prices according to some analysts, but the reduction still dwarfed by the near 30 million bpd drop in demand in April already anticipated by forecasters like Goldman Sachs.

What’s more, governments in countries around the globe are considering extending travel and social lockdown measures that have sapped fuel use in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. “Even if these cuts provide a floor to prices they will not be able to boost prices given the scale of inventory builds we are still staring at,” Energy Aspects analyst Virendra Chauhan said, referring to storage tanks and ships around the world the are filling up fast amid the slide in demand from end-users. “The absence of hard commitments from the United States or other G20 members is (a) shortcoming of the deal.” G20 nations have been urged to help reduce the supply glut, but there was little detail on the outcome of Friday talks between energy ministers from the group and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile analysts said that while the core number in the deal suggests a near 10 million bpd cut, Middle East producers like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will likely have to reduce by more than the 23% cut to which they signed up, as they had begun to ramp up output in April amid a price war before the agreement was struck. “This 9.7 million b/d ‘headline’ deal represents a 12.4 million bpd cut from claimed April OPEC+ production (given the Saudi, UAE, Kuwait ongoing surge) but an only 7.2 million bpd cut from 1Q20 average production levels,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note.

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It’s not just Texas where various religious sects feel exempt from society at large. Remember the one that started the epidemic in South Korea? Nice thing in Greece is the government actually pays the salaries of the priests.

Greek Government To Go After Priests Flouting Quarantine (K.)

The government has asked for a prosecutor to press charges against two priests who provided communion to the faithful Sunday despite a ban on church attendance. One of the priests, in the Athens neighborhood of Koukaki, was photographed from a nearby building secretly giving communion to people through the back door. The other incident happened in St. Spyridon Church in the city of Corfu. “What happened today in churches in Koukaki and Corfu is a violation of the law and of the Holy Synod’s orders and put the lives of citizens and public health in great danger. I contacted the Minister of Justice so that he can ask the prosecuting authorities to intervene,” said Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister of Civil Protection.


Authorities’ main concern remains attempts to flout strict quarantine measures during the week up to Orthodox Easter, which is celebrated next Sunday, by attending church and engage in the customary exodus from the cities to the countryside. From 6 am to 3 pm Sunday, 38 people were stopped trying to leave cities and fined 300 euros each.

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The mortally lost British nation cheer their PM’s health as he’s slow-murdering Julian Assange and letting people starve.

Lockdown: Not Novels And Family Time But Food Parcels And Hardship (G.)

Last week, I spoke to Anna Rogers, a Polish-born Londoner who lives in Brixton. She works for a charity called Money A+E, which operates across the south of the capital. It offers advice about debt, benefits and other financial issues to people who are often facing extreme hardship. It is a small set-up, with only four dedicated advisers. Since the coronavirus crisis began, the number of people getting in touch has tripled and is rising all the time. Rogers spoke matter-of-factly about the defining feature of many who now need her help. “They are people without any income,” she said. Many are migrant workers who have been sacked by small businesses or had cash-in-hand work – in, say, the building trade – suddenly withdrawn. In desperation, some say they would like to return to their countries of origin to be with their families, but that option is cut off right now.

A lot of them have no experience of the British benefits system, and few of the language skills and insider knowledge needed to navigate it. “The universal credit system never worked terribly well,” Rogers said. “But now people are saying that the system crashes, or they can’t upload documents.” Not everyone has internet access, and the sudden closure of public libraries has meant that even fewer people can get online. Even if they manage to do so, there is now an ominous sense that with the system under such pressure, the standard five-week wait for universal credit is bound to increase.

So, for now, Rogers and her colleagues have to introduce people to the most basic kinds of help. One fairly reliable source of food assistance, she said, was the array of new mutual aid groups that have sprung up at the most local level: “Fingers crossed, they can get people some food parcels.” When she spoke about the details of her work, her words had a palpable sense not just of sadness, but of urgency and a clear sense that things were only going to get worse, and quickly. The fact that we now rarely leave our homes means few people are aware of what is actually going on all over the country. Our field of vision is replete with statistics, and broad-brush warnings about the near future: from the daily death toll to the warnings from big banks of $5.5 trillion in lost global output, to the million or so people said to have newly applied for benefits in the UK. A very human crisis caused by Covid-19 is already here, beyond the illness itself, and it demands our attention.

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It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of the process.

Thanks everyone for your generous donations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth. It’s good for your mental health.

 

Apr 112020
 


Dorothea Lange Six tenant farmers without farms, Hardeman County, Texas 1937

 

115-Year-Old Supreme Court Opinion Could Determine Rights In A Pandemic (CNN)
Fauci: Immunity Cards Option For US, Antibody Tests To Come Next Week (Hill)
Fauci: World Health Organization Boss ‘Really An Outstanding Person’ (JTN)
New York Gov. Cuomo Tells Giuliani Coronavirus Modeling ‘100% Wrong’ (JTN)
Democrats Want To Drop Joe Biden For Andrew Cuomo – Poll (NYP)
New York Gov. Cuomo Joins International Criticism Of WHO (JTN)
Progressive Caucus Demands Pelosi Unveil Bold Coronavirus Package (CD)
68% Of COVID-19 Patients Improve After Gilead Drug Remdesivir: NEJM (R.)
New Jersey Loosens Restrictions On Hydroxychloroquine In Nursing Homes (NJ.com)
Less Than 1% Of Austrians ‘Acutely’ Infected With Coronavirus (G.)
French Coronavirus Toll Over 13,000 As Nursing Home Deaths Jump (R.)
Deaths Soar At Britain’s Care Homes As COVID-19 Stalks Elderly (R.)
2,000 Extra Deaths: Dutch Coronavirus Toll May Be Far Higher Than Known (RT)
Refusing To Share Debt Across The Eurozone Threatens EU’s Future (Varoufakis)
Risings and Fallings (Kunstler)
What if Ignored COVID19 Warnings Had Been Leaked to WikiLeaks? (Ray McGovern)

 

 

• The US becomes the first country to record more than 2,000 #coronavirus deaths in one day, with 2,108 fatalities in the past 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally

• The US has now recorded 18,586 deaths, closing in on the toll of 18,849 dead in Italy which has seen the most fatalities so far,

• US records more than 500,000 coronavirus cases: Johns Hopkins as of 0030 GMT Saturday, up 35,098 in the past 24 hours

• U.S. Bureau of Prisons reports that 318 federal inmates and 163 employees have tested positive for coronavirus.

• Top 10 States – Positive Tests 4/10/20
1) NY/ 170,512;
2) NJ/ 54,588;
3/ MI/ 22,783;
4) MA/ 20,974;
5) CA/ 20,917;
6) PA/ 20,251;
7) LA/ 19,253;
8) FL/ 17,968;
9) IL/ 17,887;
10)TX 11,671.

 

 

Cases 1,710,152 (+ 95,103 from yesterday’s 1,615,049)

Deaths 103,506 (+ 6,715 from yesterday’s 96,791) (of 6,715 new deaths, over 2,000 were in the US)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% !

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

The legal game is definitely on.

115-Year-Old Supreme Court Opinion Could Determine Rights In A Pandemic (CNN)

When a US appeals court ruled this week that Texas could prevent physicians from performing abortions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the judges leaned heavily on a 1905 Supreme Court decision against a Massachusetts man who had refused vaccination during a smallpox outbreak. That case could be invoked more in the months ahead. It is the high court’s touchstone for state power during public health crises. But it is a decision with limits. The 1905 court warned against “arbitrary” or “oppressive” regulation and expressly connected mandatory vaccination to ending the spread of smallpox. Today, the question is how bluntly the case, known as Jacobson v. Massachusetts, might be wielded to justify curbing individual liberties without caveat.

In the first decision of its kind during the coronavirus crisis, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals relied wholly on the 1905 case to permit Texas to include abortion clinics in its ban on non-essential medical services and surgeries. The panel, ruling by a 2-1 vote, rejected arguments regarding the right to abortion ingrained by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and subsequent rulings. “Jacobson instructs that all constitutional rights may be reasonably restricted to combat a public health emergency,” wrote Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan for the majority. The 5th Circuit has a record of decisions against abortion access, including in a Louisiana dispute over physician regulations, begun long before the current pandemic and now pending at the US Supreme Court.

Dissenting in the new case, Judge James Dennis argued that the majority had taken the Jacobson precedent too far. Unlike in the early 1900s, Dennis wrote, when vaccination would stop the smallpox outbreak, “the thread connecting (the Texas measure) to combatting COVID-19 is more attenuated—premised not on the idea that abortion providers are spreading the virus, but that their continuing operation requires the use of resources that should be conserved and made available to healthcare workers fighting the outbreak.”

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Something tells me a few gun-toting Americans will not like those cards.

Fauci: Immunity Cards Option For US, Antibody Tests To Come Next Week (Hill)

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said it’s possible that in the future Americans may carry documents to prove they are immune or not infected with the coronavirus. Fauci, who is one of the public health officials on the administration’s coronavirus task force, said such a system is one of several options they are discussing. “That’s possible,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure who the vulnerable people are and not,” Fauci added. “This is something that’s being discussed, I think it might actually have some merit.”


The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also said that within a period of “a week or so” there will be a large number of new antibody tests, which allow users to discover whether they possess a unique immune response to the virus. “As soon as they get validated, they’ll be out there for people to use,” Fauci said. “It’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know.”


Coney Island 1940

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This is just nonsense. Ask Fauci why the WHO declared a pandemic only on March 11.

Fauci: World Health Organization Boss ‘Really An Outstanding Person’ (JTN)

The World Health Organization has landed in President Trump’s crosshairs for its handling of the coronavirus, yet Dr. Tony Fauci, a senior adviser on the White House’s coronavirus task force, has recently praised the group’s top leader. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has come under fire for allegedly failing to warn the world about the speedy, lethal nature of the coronavirus originating in China. Multiple U.S. lawmakers, as well as Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, have called for Ghebreyesus’s removal. A Change.org petition has garnered nearly 780K petition signers urging Tedros’ ouster. “Tedros is really an outstanding person,” Fauci said during the March 25 coronavirus task force briefing. “I’ve known him from the time that he was the minister of Health of Ethiopia.


“I mean, obviously, over the years, anyone who says that the WHO has not had problems has not been watching the WHO. But I think, under his leadership, they’ve done very well.” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), praised Ghebreyesus’ handling of the coronavirus epidemic. “He has been all over this,” Fauci said. “I was on the phone with him a few hours ago leading a WHO call.” “The W.H.O. really blew it,” Trump recently tweeted. “For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”

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Cuomo called for a lot of ventilators that turn out to be not needed.

New York Gov. Cuomo Tells Giuliani Coronavirus Modeling ‘100% Wrong’ (JTN)

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been the stoic face of the state’s battle against the deadly coronavirus, but he recently acknowledged that his efforts to save residents’ lives and keep the regional economy afloat have been hampered by “100 percent wrong” projections. “All of the projections, by the way, and the statisticians have been 100 percent wrong at this point,” Cuomo on Thursday told former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on his radio show.


The roughly 9-minute interview on WABC-AM was all pleasantries between the longtime New York pols, as the state, now the epicenter of the virus, appears to be near the height of infection cases and related deaths. “Thank you for asking about Chris, Mr. Mayor,” said Cuomo, who now gives daily TV briefings, when Giuliani inquired about his brother, Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor recovering from the virus. Giuliani started the interview by telling his audience that his guest is Gov. Cuomo “who, I think, is known to every American as a person who has supplied great, great leadership for his state and for his country.” Giuliani also added: “You’re doing a great job.”

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I have a question. Cuomo is governor of a state where the virus has run way out of hand. But nobody even tries to hold him accountable, it’s as if everything happened beyond his view, or power. It’s everybody’s fault but his. Why is that?

Democrats Want To Drop Joe Biden For Andrew Cuomo – Poll (NYP)

A majority of Democrats want to nominate New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for president instead of Joe Biden, according to poll results shared exclusively with The Post. The national poll found 56 percent of Democrats prefer Cuomo, with 44 percent wanting to stick with presumptive nominee Biden — a 12-point margin well outside the 4.8 percent margin of error for the Democratic sample. Hispanic voters, young people, women and self-identified liberals are most likely to favor dumping the former vice president for Cuomo. The poll, conducted April 3-6, was commissioned by the conservative pro-market Club for Growth, which generally supports Republican candidates.


Cuomo denied last month that he wanted to run for president, but some Democrats still are clamoring for an alternative to Biden, who faded from public view during the coronavirus outbreak, which elevated Cuomo in daily press conferences. Club for Growth vice president of communications Joe Kildea told The Post that the results highlight Biden’s weakness as a candidate. “With every major news event, Democrats realize more and more how bad of a candidate Joe Biden is, and Democrats now preferring Cuomo is just another example,” Kildea said.

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Here Cuomo is blaming yet another party. Not himself.

New York Gov. Cuomo Joins International Criticism Of WHO (JTN)

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday joined the bipartisan – and international – criticism of the World Health Organization’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “Where were the warning signs?” Cuomo asked at his daily briefing. “Who should have blown the whistle?” President Trump has been among the most vocal of world leaders on the issue of the WHO’s response, which they argue was slow and less than exact in its reporting and guidance. But the backlash against China appears global. Taiwan officials have suggested the WHO excluding it from membership has hurt the country’s response to the pandemic. Trump has vowed to withhold U.S. support for the group and said Friday that he’ll make a decision on the matter next week.


Cuomo pointed out Friday that headlines appeared in December and January about a new virus emerging in China, while the WHO failed to issue formal warnings. “Did we really need to be in this situation where the United States winds up having a higher number of cases than the places that came before?” he asked. Also in the U.S., congressional bills are being proposed by a number of GOP legislators, including Sens. Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), and Rep. Mike Gallagher (Wisconsin), to encourage U.S. companies to source ingredients and goods outside of Chinese markets.

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This is as close as you can get to UBI without naming it that.

Progressive Caucus Demands Pelosi Unveil Bold Coronavirus Package (CD)

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to meet the coronavirus crisis with the urgency it deserves by advancing another sweeping stimulus package that—unlike the previous business-friendly legislation—guarantees economic security for all, protects public health, and ensures election safety. “Our actions now can lay the foundation for a just and resilient recovery, but only if we recognize the scale of this unprecedented crisis and fashion a response that meets that scale,” the two dozen members of the CPC Executive Board wrote in a letter sent to Pelosi on Thursday. With the U.S. economy rapidly deteriorating as the coronavirus continues to spread—nearly 17 million Americans filed jobless claims between March 15 and April 4—the CPC urged Pelosi to quickly assemble a relief package that provides robust assistance to workers and the unemployed until the coronavirus pandemic completely subsides.


To ensure that Americans will not have to wait for further congressional action if the economic and public health crisis deepens, the CPC called for a legislative package that contains automatic triggers so that “assistance continues based on economic conditions throughout the duration of the pandemic.” CPC’s list of specific demands includes: • Monthly direct cash payments of at least $2,000 to every adult in the U.S., and an additional $1,000 for every child for up to a year; • A nationwide moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures; • At least $30,000 in student debt relief; • Suspending collection of all consumer debt, including medical debt; • Opening Medicare to all people who are unemployed and uninsured; • Ensuring that no one in the U.S. faces out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment; • Increasing federal nutrition assistance benefits; • Creating a “federal Paycheck Guarantee program” to stop mass layoffs; and • Guaranteeing nationwide vote-by-mail to make sure elections don’t contribute to the spread of COVID-19.


Top right: the Rest Of Us

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I’d go for hydroxychloroquine. 68% is hardly spectacular.

68% Of COVID-19 Patients Improve After Gilead Drug Remdesivir: NEJM (R.)

More than two-thirds of severely ill COVID-19 patients saw their condition improve after treatment with remdesivir, an experimental drug being developed by Gilead Sciences, according to new data based on patient observation. The analysis, published on Friday by the New England Journal of Medicine, does not detail what other treatments the 61 hospitalized patients were given and data on eight of them were not included — in one case because of a dosing error. The paper’s author called the findings “hopeful,” but cautioned that it is difficult to interpret the results since they do not include comparison to a control group, as would be the case in a randomized clinical trial.

In addition, the patient numbers were small, the details being disclosed are limited, and the follow-up time was relatively short. There are currently no approved treatments or preventive vaccines for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 100,000 people worldwide. Gilead last month sharply limited its compassionate use program for remdesivir and is conducting its own clinical trials of the antiviral drug, with results expected in coming weeks. Researchers in China as well as the U.S. National Institutes of Health are also testing the drug in COVID-19 patients. The new analysis includes patients in the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan who received a 10-day course of intravenous remdesivir.

Before the treatment, 30 patients were on mechanical ventilators, and four were on a machine that pumps blood from the patient’s body through an artificial oxygenator. After a median follow-up of 18 days, 36 patients, or 68%, had an improvement in oxygen-support class, including more than half of the 30 patients receiving mechanical ventilation who had their breathing tubes removed. A total of 25 patients, or 47%, were discharged from the hospital. Seven patients, 13% of the total, died. Twelve patients, 23%, had serious side effects including multiple-organ-dysfunction syndrome, septic shock and acute kidney injury.

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If people use it anyway, might as well.

New Jersey Loosens Restrictions On Hydroxychloroquine In Nursing Homes (NJ.com)

The state on Friday loosened restrictions on using a controversial malaria drug for COVID-19 patients, making it more readily available for people in nursing homes and other facilities. The decision comes amid reports of nursing home residents dying from complications of the disease and after some doctors, politicians and pharmacists had called for a change in the state’s rules. Until Friday’s order, doctors had been barred from prescribing hydroxychloroquine and some other drugs to treat COVID-19 outside of hospitals unless patients tested positive for the virus. Officials have reported that 262 of 375 of the state’s long-term care facilities have had at least one case of coronavirus, with reports of multiple deaths at some homes.


On Thursday, the National Guard arrived at the New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus to help its staff cope with an outbreak of the virus that has infected 40 veterans and killed 10. The same home has had nearly 30 other deaths over the last two weeks, but a lack of testing for Covid-19 means they might not be attributed to the disease. The new regulations list a number of settings outside of hospitals “where the prescribing limitations” of the old order “do not apply,” according to a statement released Friday evening by the Division of Consumer Affairs. Doctors already had been prescribing hydroxychloroquine to patients in hospitals, where a positive test was not required by the state. The new regulations add post-acute care facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, field hospitals and “other locations designated as emergency health care centers by the Commissioner of Health.”

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The Guardian left the word ‘Acutely’ out of the headline, That makes all the difference. The article also mentions a “World Health Organization report in February suggesting truly asymptomatic cases were relatively rare”. We now know they could be 50%.

Less Than 1% Of Austrians ‘Acutely’ Infected With Coronavirus (G.)

Less than 1% of the Austrian population is “acutely infected” with coronavirus, new research based on testing a representative sample of more than 1,500 people suggests. The government-commissioned study, reportedly the first of its kind in continental Europe, was led by the polling company Sora, which is known for projecting election results, in cooperation with the Red Cross, the Medical University of Vienna, and other institutions. The study made it possible to estimate the prevalence of acute coronavirus infections in Austria among those not in hospital at the beginning of April, and was designed to provide a clearer picture of the total number of infections, given gaps in testing.

The research, if replicated and confirmed elsewhere, would appear to scotch hopes of countries being remotely close to relying on “herd immunity” – where enough of the population is exposed to the virus to build up a combined immunity – as a viable policy option. The study stands in contrast to controversial modelling by researchers at Oxford University who, in one scenario they examined, suggested most people in the UK might already have been infected with Covid-19. The co-founder of Sora, Christoph Hofinger, told a news conference: “Based on this study, we believe that 0.33% of the population in Austria was acutely infected in early April.” Given the margin of error, the figure was 95% likely to be between 0.12% and 0.76%. The Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who saw initial findings a few days ago, said on Monday that the rate of infection was around 1%.

This disproved the idea of herd immunity, which requires widespread infection, as a viable policy option, he said. However, researchers, speaking at a press conference to release the results, said the study provided only a “snapshot” and did not account for asymptomatic infections, or people who were immune. “We did not find out how many people are immune, but only how many people in Austria are currently acutely infected,” said Günther Ogris, from Sora. The issue of the proportion of asymptomatic infections in the population remains highly contested, with a World Health Organization report in February suggesting truly asymptomatic cases were relatively rare. However, another small Chinese study, reported in the British Medical Journal earlier this month, posited that up to four-fifths of all infections could be without symptoms

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Nursing homes, care homes, whatever you call them, they’re petri dishes.

French Coronavirus Toll Over 13,000 As Nursing Home Deaths Jump (R.)

The number of people who have died from coronavirus infection in France jumped by nearly 987 or 8% to 13,197 as nursing home deaths swelled but fewer people were in intensive care as the effect of nationwide confinement started to show. The total number of confirmed and probable coronavirus infections in the country rose by 7,120 to 124,869, although the ministry does not provide a total, splitting the number instead between cases in hospitals and cases in nursing homes. That total number is set to increase as just under 5,000 out of 7,400 homes so far have reported coronavirus cases to the government, a ministry official told Reuters.


The health ministry said on Friday that 7,004 people were in intensive care, a fall of 62 or 0.9% following a 1% fall on Thursday. “We seem to be reaching a plateau, albeit a high level,” health ministry director Jerome Salomon told a daily press briefing by video. But the death toll picked up again, with the number of people dying in hospitals up by 554 or 7% to 8,598 on Friday, after increasing 5% on Thursday. The number of people who died in nursing homes – according to incomplete data that cover several days and do not include all nursing homes – went up by 433 or 10% to 4,599 and now make up more than a third of the total toll.

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They should really publish case numbers among their staff as well.

Deaths Soar At Britain’s Care Homes As COVID-19 Stalks Elderly (R.)

Thousands of care homes across Britain were locked down last month to stop COVID-19 from spreading among their frail and elderly residents. For Jamshad Ali, 87, it came anyway. Ali and six other residents at Hawthorn Green Care Home in east London died with “symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” with 21 others also possibly infected, said a spokesman for the home. With growing reports of COVID-19 deaths and cases at other homes, experts fear the disease, caused by the new coronavirus, which has already ripped through the care sector in the United States and the rest of Europe is now doing the same in Britain. Care workers and advocacy groups are calling for more equipment to keep themselves and their residents safe, and for testing to get self-isolating staff back to workplaces already understaffed when the pandemic struck.

They’re also calling for more support for a sector whose workers are, like Britain’s National Health Service, fighting the coronavirus up close, but with less pay, training and recognition. Jamshad Ali’s daughter, Luthfa Hood, is heartbroken but also angry that care homes are considered such a low priority. “Young people, if they get the virus, they can fight it,” she said. “But (with) older people, it just seems like we’re saying, ‘We don’t care about you – you’re too old.’” Reporting delays and lack of testing make the death toll in care homes hard to pinpoint. Over 9% of them had reported cases and the number would continue to rise, said England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty on Tuesday.

“If you have a virus this infectious in a setting with lots of vulnerable older people, then it’s very bad news,” said Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, which supports older people. “The mortality rate is likely to be very high.” On Monday, France announced there had been more than 2,400 deaths in its care homes. About 433,000 people live in Britain’s 11,000 care homes, which have over 450,000 beds – three times more than the National Health Service.

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2,000 extra people died last week. 881 were COVID19. That leaves 1,119 “undeclared” deaths. Every country should look at these numbers in their own jurisdiction.

2,000 Extra Deaths: Dutch Coronavirus Toll May Be Far Higher Than Known (RT)

The Netherlands suffered 2,000 more deaths than usual during the first week of April, the country’s statistics office has said. The spike suggests the Covid-19 toll might be significantly higher than officially registered. Figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on Friday show that around 5,100 deaths were registered across the country in the week ending April 5. The number is abnormally large and exceeded expectations, which were based on an average taken of the past several years, by some 2,000 people. Over the same period, the country’s National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) registered 881 coronavirus deaths – and the extra deaths overall in early April may also be due to the dreaded disease.


“The rising mortality rate coincides with the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis in the Netherlands,” the organization said. A more complete picture emerges by looking at the total weekly number of deaths as based on the data received by CBS, regardless of the cause of death. In some municipalities, the weekly death toll exceeded the average twofold and even fourfold, the CBS said. The abnormally large figures alone, however, cannot conclusively show that Covid-19 is to blame, and the spike may be “coincidental and not necessarily related to the coronavirus crisis,” the statistics body noted.

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The complaints about the EU become a broken record. What are the odds it will ever change?

Refusing To Share Debt Across The Eurozone Threatens EU’s Future (Varoufakis)

Most of continental Europe using the euro is in lockdown. The economic shockwaves caused by a lockdown do not care what currency we use. Just as in the United Kingdom, the United States or Japan, the precipitous falls in private incomes must be counterbalanced by substantial increases in public expenditure. If governments fail in this, the sum of private and public expenditure (which equals aggregate income) will crash even faster, bankruptcies will burgeon and government tax revenues will collapse further in the medium turn. The challenge facing the 19 countries of the eurozone is unique. The massive boost in public debt that is now so necessary is hampered by the quaint arrangement of sharing a central bank that, on the one hand, has no common treasury to lean against and, on the other, is banned from backing directly the 19 treasuries that must borrow in euros to fight the crisis.

The euro crisis that began in 2010 stretched this monetary architecture to its limits. The coronavirus recession is now pushing it beyond them. With the countries worst hit by Covid-19, such as Italy, being the most indebted and thus the least able to shoulder the necessary new debt, an impossible conundrum emerges: the new debt needed to revive the private sector will push the state into default, so destroying the banks whose capital is mostly government debt and, in short order, the rest of the private sector. The only way out of this trap is for the new debt not to fall on the weak shoulders of the most indebted eurozone countries but to be shared across the eurozone. Except that this debt-sharing is banned by the treaties that created the eurozone, at the insistence of the northern european countries running a trade surplus with the rest.

[..] The message today to Italians, Spaniards and Greeks is: your government can borrow large amounts from Europe’s bailout fund. No conditions. You will also receive help to pay for unemployment benefits from countries where employment holds up better. But, within a year or two, as your economies are recovering, huge new austerity measures will be demanded to bring your government’s finances back into line, including the repayment of the monies spent on your unemployment benefits.

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“..readers are twanging on me to declare the whole Covid-19 story “a hoax,” which I’m not ready to do.”

Risings and Fallings (Kunstler)

In the corkscrewing anguish of the social sequester, with careers, savings, futures, and dreams whirling down the drain, voices rise above the din of conflicting statistics to ask: what is going on here? To some, it looks like a deliberate attempt to demolish what’s left of the economy for political advantage. Clouds of suspicion gather over the two medical superstars of the Daily Briefing show, Doctors Fauci and Birx, as they somewhat sheepishly revise their numbers for contagion and death downward and attempt to “balance” the formula of modeled projections versus mitigation efforts. Was the stay-at-home panic necessary, after all? Will it save the day or kill off modern life as we knew it? Well, everyplace else in the world was shutting down, weren’t they? Did they all go off their rockers, too?

At least a hundred doctors died in Italy heroically tending the stricken, so they say. South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore opted for flat-out medical Gestapo action. Britain, Spain, France, and Germany about the same, but minus testing at the grand scale and tracing of contacts. Honestly, how is it possible the whole planet punked itself? I certainly don’t know the answer to all this, though readers are twanging on me to declare the whole Covid-19 story “a hoax,” which I’m not ready to do. I do know this: America has become utterly intolerant of uncertainty. And in the absence of certainty, that age-old human cognitive skill called pattern recognition, which has made us such a successful species, kicks into high gear scanning the field-of-view for answers. Any string-of-dots that affords even the slimmest plausibility goes on the table for review, including a lot of stories tagged as “conspiracy theories.”

[..] And meanwhile, the American public sequesters and festers, waiting for those $1,200 checks that will fix… everything! Let’s face it: this is a twilight zone between stupor and fury. Nobody is paying anything to anyone. All obligations are suspended: salaries, rents, mortgages, bills, loans, bets, and vigs, all up in the air somewhere, but definitely not moving to their assigned destinations. The velocity of money is zero and all the various new term facilities and structured vehicles conjured by the Federal Reserve and Congress amount to a mere shadow of money moving – even though they are represented by trillions of brand-new alleged dollars.

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It’s Free Assange Day today.

What if Ignored COVID19 Warnings Had Been Leaked to WikiLeaks? (Ray McGovern)

As I think of my good friend Julian, what comes to mind are the desperate words of Willy Loman’s wife Linda in “Death of a Salesman”: “He’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.” (On the chance you are wondering, The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal — as well as National Public Radio — have paid zero attention to the extradition hearing in recent weeks — much less to Judge Baraitser’s Queen of Hearts-style, “off-with-his-head” behavior.)

The pitiable Baraitser, of course, is simply a cog in the imperial machinery, a self-impressed, self-interested, rigid functionary aping the role of Caiaphas, the high priest beholden to an earlier Empire. “It’s better that one man die,” he is said to have explained, when another nonviolent truth-teller dared to expose the cruelties of Empire to the downtrodden of his day — including the despicable accessory role played by the high priests. Here is how theologian Eugene Peterson’s renders Caiaphas’s words in John 11: “Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man die … rather than the whole nation be destroyed.” (“Nation” in that context meant the system of privilege enjoyed by collaborators with Rome — like the high priests and the lawyers of the time.)

The lesson meant to be taken away from Assange’s punishment are as clear — if less bloody — as the crucifixion that followed quickly after Caiaphas explained the rationale. The behavior of today’s empire pretends to be more “civilized” as it manufactures stories of rape, leans on ratty satraps in Sweden, England, and Ecuador, and ostentatiously thumbs its nose at official UN condemnations of “arbitrary detention.” And, if that were not enough, it also practices leave-no-marks torture.

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Thanks everyone for your generous donations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apr 092020
 


Edward Hopper The railroad 1922

 

Fauci: I Don’t Think We Should Shake Hands ‘Ever Again’ (Hill)
The Limits of Location Tracking in an Epidemic (ACLU)
Coronavirus and the Future of Surveillance (FA)
China Seeks To Contain ‘Silent Carriers’ Of Coronavirus (R.)
Rapid Health Declines In COVID-19 Patients Jar Doctors, Nurses (R.)
New Projections Show Virus Spreading Twice As Fast As Expected (ZH)
US Nurses Who Can’t Get Tested Fear They Are Spreading COVID-19 (R.)
NY Hospital Sends ‘Borderline’ COVID19 Patients Home With Oxygen Monitors (R.)
What The Data Really Shows About Two Treatments For COVID-19 (F.)
Miss England Hangs Up Her Crown To Return To Work As A COVID19 Doctor (C24)
U.S. GDP Will Contract 30% In Second Quarter, 5% In 2020 – PIMCO (R.)
Thinking Outside of the “V” Shaped Recovery Box (RIA)
Americans Not Making Their Mortgage Payments Soar By 1064% In One Month (ZH)
Virgin Islands At Odds With Epstein Estate Over ‘Broad’ Liability Releases (R.)
Vindictive Court Rulings Prove British State Wants Assange Dead (WSWS)
Democrats Salivate Over Obama Coming Off Sidelines (Hill)

 

 

Confirmed coronavirus cases.
• Spain: 148,220
• Italy: 139,422
• Germany: 113,296
• New York State: 151,000

• US records 1,973 #coronavirus deaths on April 8. “The record-breaking figure is slightly higher than the previous day’s toll of 1,939 and brings total US fatalities to 14,695”

• Africa tops 10,000 cases, 500 deaths. Let’s see what the numbers are 3 weeks from now.

Nice discussions about testing and surveillance. But too many people appear to have their minds made up before the discussion starts. It’s not as easy as some may think.

One man’s freedom is another man’s prison, and finding the middle ground takes a lot of effort. However, we do that every day. The internet and smartphones have already brought a lot of added surveillance, but most people still feel free. Even though they don’t have the freedom to rape and murder. There are sliding scales here as far as the eye can see.

 

 

Cases 1,529,078 (+ 82,097 from yesterday’s 1,446,981)

Deaths 89,411 (+ 6,321 from yesterday’s 83,090)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% ! NOTE 2: the number of active cases that are critical or severe is going down. 4% now.

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

And no dancing either, y’hear?!

Fauci: I Don’t Think We Should Shake Hands ‘Ever Again’ (Hill)

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, on Wednesday suggested that Americans should never shake hands again. “When you gradually come back, you don’t jump into it with both feet. You say, what are the things you could still do and still approach normal? One of them is absolute compulsive hand-washing. The other is you don’t ever shake anybody’s hands,” Fauci told The Wall Street Journal’s podcast.


“I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease; it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country,” the doctor added. Fauci also said he hopes to see a “light at the end of the tunnel” by the end of April. The NIAID head said Wednesday morning on Fox News that he thinks the number of U.S. deaths from the virus will be lower than initially predicted. Last week, Fauci and other members of the task force had signaled that anywhere between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the illness, even if social distancing was successful.

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This appears very clumsy.

The Limits of Location Tracking in an Epidemic (ACLU)

The CDC warns against comingin “close contact” with apersonwho has tested positive for the virus, defining close contactas“being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters), of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time.” None of the data sources discussed above are accurate enough to identify close contact with sufficient reliability. None are reliably accurate to within 6feet. Using the wrong technology to draw conclusions about who may have become infected might lead to expensive mistakessuch as twoweek isolation from work, friends, and family for someone —perhaps even ahealth care worker or first responder —who was actually not exposed. Israel’suse of location data has already sparked complaintsabout accuracy.

A location tracking system over time can be accurate enough to place a person near a bank, bar, mosque, clinic, or other privacy-sensitive location. But the fact is, commercial location databases are compiled for advertising and other purposes and are simply not accurate enough to reliably determine who was in close contact with whom. The algorithms are not likely to be reliable.Even if we were to imagine a set of location data that had pinpoint accuracy, there would still be problems translating that in any automated way into reliable guesses about whether two people were in danger of transmitting an infection. The Israeli system apparently acts on the basis of nothing more than an automated look at proximity. In Israel, one woman was identified as a “contact” simply because she waved at her infected boyfriend fromoutside his apartment building —and was issued a quarantineorder based on that alone.

Such a system is likely to make many such mistakes; it won’t know that a bank teller is shielded from transmission because they’re behind plexiglass, or that two people close togetherin a building are actually in separate apartments divided by a wall. The alternative is to try to make more educated guessesby taking account of such circumstances as well as such factors as the duration of a contact and the numberof days the positive-testing person has been infected. But those guesses will inevitably be highly unreliable.

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All over East Asia.

Coronavirus and the Future of Surveillance (FA)

Consider the strategies of five East Asian countries—ranging from the democracies of South Korea and Taiwan to the authoritarian Chinese state—that all relied on prominent surveillance methods. South Korea has so far successfully curbed the spread of COVID-19 using classic public health surveillance through large-scale testing. But Seoul has also intrusively tracked down potentially infected individuals by looking at credit card transactions, CCTV footage, and other data. Local authorities have released personal data, sometimes with the consequence that individuals can be identified publicly. Korean officials can enforce self-quarantine through a location-tracking smartphone app.

Taiwan has kept the number of cases very low by employing strict surveillance of people coming into the country and widely distributing that information. In February, for instance, Taiwan announced that all hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the country could access their patients’ travel histories. Integrating public- and private-sector databases in such ways would prove difficult in the United Kingdom or the United States or under existing European Union regulations. Just as in South Korea, officials in Taiwan use phone apps to enforce the self-quarantine of suspected infected individuals. Hong Kong issues all new arrivals an electronic wristband that monitors whether they violate quarantine.

Singapore has kept a lid on the pandemic using CCTV footage and the investigative powers of the police: refusal to cooperate with public health requirements is illegal. China’s sheer size makes it the most significant case. Beijing has successfully curbed the spread of the disease. Yes, the pandemic originated in China, but that doesn’t diminish the tangible success of China’s strategy of heavy surveillance. Its “grid management” system divides the country into tiny sections and assigns people to watch over one another. Over a million local monitors log movements, take temperatures, and enforce rules about residents’ activities.

At the same time, China has also harnessed its panoply of digital tools. State-run rail companies, airlines, and the major telecom providers all require customers to present government-issued identity cards to buy SIM cards or tickets, enabling unusually precise mass surveillance of individuals who traveled through certain regions. Color-coded smartphone apps tag people as green (free to travel through city checkpoints) or as orange or red (subject to restrictions on movement). Authorities in Beijing have employed facial recognition algorithms to identify commuters who aren’t wearing a mask or who aren’t wearing one properly.

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Not testing grinds economies to a halt. Airlines, restaurants, everyone will want to be safe from infection or they don’t show up. That doesn’t make it an easy or a settled topic, but it’s still true. Can you run London, New York, Tokyo without a subway system? Nope.

China Seeks To Contain ‘Silent Carriers’ Of Coronavirus (R.)

China released new measures on Wednesday to try and prevent asymptomatic “silent carriers” of coronavirus from causing a second wave of infections, as the country reported another modest rise in new confirmed cases. Mainland China reported 63 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, up from 62 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said. Of those, 61 were travellers arriving from overseas, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in China to 81,865. While new infections have fallen from their peak in February after China locked down several cities and imposed strict travel restrictions, authorities have called for continued vigilance amid fears of a fresh wave of infections.

Aside from curbing an influx of infected travellers from abroad, China’s other concern is managing asymptomatic people, or virus carriers who exhibit no clinical symptoms such as a fever or a cough. China reported 56 new asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of such cases to 657 since data for such infections were published daily from April 1. The State Council, or Cabinet, on Wednesday published new rules to manage asymptomatic coronavirus carriers, or what some state media described as “silent carriers” of the virus.

Under the regulations, medical institutions must report detection of asymptomatic cases within two hours of their discovery. Local governments must then identify all known close contacts of the case within 24 hours. Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined collectively for 14 days, and will be counted as confirmed cases if they start to show symptoms. People who have had close contact with them must also be quarantined for two weeks. Earlier this week, a new function appeared on Tencent’s ubiquitous (0700.HK) WeChat mobile platform allowing people to check if they have ever sat on trains and planes near an asymptomatic carrier who later became a confirmed case.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1248072025492635648

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Sometimes you realize how little we still know about the virus.

Rapid Health Declines In COVID-19 Patients Jar Doctors, Nurses (R.)

One medical worker called it “insane,” another said it induces paranoia – the speed with which patients are declining and dying from the novel coronavirus is shocking even veteran doctors and nurses as they scramble to determine how to stop such sudden deterioration. Patients “look fine, feel fine, then you turn around and they’re unresponsive,” said Diana Torres, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, where the virus has infected more than 415,000 people. “I’m paranoid, scared to walk out of their room.” It isn’t just elderly or patients with underlying health conditions who can be fine one minute and at death’s door the next. It can happen for the young and healthy, too, health professionals told Reuters.

A young woman died unexpectedly while nurse Laurie Douglas was on duty at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After 34 years on the job, Douglas said she normally has “an intuition of who is going to fade and who may improve.” “But these people are throwing that out the window,” Douglas said. “Last week, she was planning her wedding. This week, her family is planning her funeral,” she said, referring to the deceased patient. Patients might enter the hospital with strong oxygen levels and be engaged in happy conversation, said a resident emergency doctor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, only to be “gasping for breath” and intubated a few hours later. “The scary thing is there are no rules to it,” said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

These scenes are playing out everywhere as COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, has infected more than 1.4 million worldwide and killed more than 83,400 as of Wednesday. The quick turns for the worse are likely products of an “overly exuberant” reaction by the immune system as it fights the virus, said Dr. Otto Yang, an infectious disease specialist at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Called a cytokine storm, it occurs when the body overproduces immune cells and their activating compounds – cytokines – causing dangerously high blood pressure, lung damage and organ failure. Emily Muzyka, 25, a nurse in the New York suburbs, said she reached her breaking point last week, when a relatively healthy 44-year-old woman needed sudden intubation.

“I had a meltdown that night,” she said. “I cried to my boyfriend.” In the case of COVID-19 patients, intubation refers to inserting a tube into the mouth and through the airway of a patient struggling to breathe, so they can be hooked to a mechanical ventilator. Associated Press journalist Anick Jesdanun, who was in good health and had run 83 marathons, died last week from COVID-19, according to a post on Facebook by his cousin, Prinda Mulpramook. Jesdanun, who was 51, at first didn’t need hospitalization, according to the post. He had begun to recover and showed clear lungs and strong vital signs during a doctor’s visit in late March. But “a sudden setback” sent him to the emergency room on April 1, and “13 hours later we lost him,” Mulpramook wrote.

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Again, we know very little.

New Projections Show Virus Spreading Twice As Fast As Expected (ZH)

[..] around the world, there are probably dozens of sets of projections, all produced by “credible” researchers, all saying slightly different things. And now, one of those researchers has caught the attention of Bloomberg by announcing that it may have underestimated the virus’s velocity by half, meaning it’s been spreading twice as quickly through China – and will therefore likely follow (or has followed) a similar pattern in the US. This set of projections was produced by researchers at Los Alamos, BBG said. As the CPC lifts travel restrictions on “healthy” residents of Wuhan – sending tens of thousands scrambling to escape the city – the team of researchers has determined that the virus likely spread through the country twice as quickly as initially believed.

New assumptions produced by the team including the average number of people infected in the early days of the epidemic in Wuhan: they have been revised to 5.7, more than twice the number the WHO has projected. Of course, the team’s results are specific to the Chinese outbreak. But although Beijing hesitated during the early days of the outbreak, it’s heavy handed response likely won’t be mimicked by the West, meaning if the virus spread more quickly in China, it’s reasonable to expect that it could travel through the US at around the same speed. At any rate, with this new rate of spread, researchers determined that some 82% of the population would need to be immune, either via a vaccine or because they’d already had the disease, in order to stop the virus from spreading.

Without such protection, high levels of social distancing would be needed, since as many as 1/5 people infected present as asymptomatic, a factor that has terribly complicated the response to the virus. [..] Notably, the Los Alamos report, which was initially published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, relied on anonymized mobile phone travel data and case reports of coronavirus outside the early epicenter in China’s Hubei province to calculate the spread, all things considered, that should be some pretty accurate data, if the authorities haven’t tampered with it. Then again, if they had, the numbers would probably look a lot better than they do.

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They’re Marvel heroes, they don’t need testing.

US Nurses Who Can’t Get Tested Fear They Are Spreading COVID-19 (R.)

In New York City, an intensive care nurse treated patients for three days after she started displaying symptoms of COVID-19 – but couldn’t get a test from her hospital. In Georgia, a nurse was denied a test after treating an infected patient who died. In Michigan, one of the few hospital systems conducting widespread staff testing found that more than 700 workers were infected with the coronavirus – more than a quarter of those tested. More than a month after the pandemic hit the United States, the persistent test shortages mean that health workers are treating patients while experiencing mild symptoms that could signal they are infected themselves, according to Reuters interviews with 13 nurses and 2 doctors who described testing shortages at their hospitals. Many medical centers are testing only the workers with the most severe symptoms, according to the frontline workers and hospital officials.

As a result, nurses and doctors risk infecting patients, colleagues and their families without knowing they are carrying the virus, medical experts say. The New York City nurse works at Mount Sinai Hospital, a major institution in the national epicenter of the pandemic. Her nausea, upset stomach and low-grade fever did not qualify her to get a test in late March, she told Reuters on condition of anonymity. She continued to work because her fever – at 100.2 degrees Fahrenheit (37.9 Celsius) – was just below the threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for sending health workers home. But she had the virus, an infection she confirmed when she took it upon herself to get tested at a private clinic, she said.“I knew something wasn’t right,” the nurse said, “but I didn’t really think I had it.”

[..] In Michigan – a leader among states in establishing testing programs that deliver quick results – more than 700 staff in the Henry Ford Health hospital system have tested positive out of some 2,500 employees tested since March 12, chief clinical officer Adnan Munkarah said on April 6. While the infected workers represent just 2% of the system’s overall staff, the high percentage of positive tests in the initial round signals that further testing could reveal many more infections. Until rapid testing is widely available, hospitals face a dilemma: Do they test staff with mild symptoms and keep them home for days as they await results? Or do they keep mildly ill – but desperately needed – staff at work to treat the rush of patients? “It’s a different kind of triage,” said Caplan, the bioethics professor. “It’s precaution versus, ‘I need staff.’”

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Not quite sure what’s safer.

NY Hospital Sends ‘Borderline’ COVID19 Patients Home With Oxygen Monitors (R.)

Some coronavirus patients who would have been admitted into the emergency department at a New York hospital are being sent home with an oxygen-monitoring device as the city’s medical system struggles to reserve resources for only the sickest people. The new program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is an example of how doctors are adapting and loosening normal protocols to ease the strain on emergency rooms and intensive care units in New York state, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Since last week, more than 200 people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, have been sent home with a pulse oximeter to track their oxygen levels.

A doctor or nurse practitioner follows up with them via video conference. “Some of these patients might have been on the borderline of admission,” Dr. Rahul Sharma, who is overseeing the program as the chief of emergency medicine at Presbyterian’s Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in an interview. An oximeter is a small electronic device that clips onto a fingertip to indirectly measure the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood. In severe COVID-19 cases, the virus can block up the lungs, hindering their ability to pass oxygen from the air into the bloodstream. While most who contract the virus recover, it has killed at least 4,900 people in the city, according to a Reuters tally.

Some of the NewYork-Presbyterian patients are also being sent home with a 30lb (14 kg) portable oxygen concentrating machine which sends oxygen-rich air through a nasal cannula, a two-pronged tube inserted into the nostrils. The patient is asked to log their oximeter readings to share with a doctor or nurse practitioner at 12-hour and 24-hour consultations. The patient may be re-admitted to the hospital if they take a turn for the worse.

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The chloroquine discussion continues. In the meantime, people will continue taking it.

What The Data Really Shows About Two Treatments For COVID-19 (F.)

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a derivative of chloroquine, and was approved in 1955 as an antimalarial treatment in the United States. More recently, HCQ has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, two autoimmune diseases characterized by a damaging inflammatory response. HCQ’s ability to modulate the inflammatory response is one reason why it’s caught the eye of researchers. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to invasion by bacteria, viruses, or other substances. It’s caused by your immune system “attacking” and destroying infected cells or the foreign bodies directly. But sometimes that response can get out of control. In autoimmune disorders, the body mistakenly attacks itself. In COVID-19, the inflammatory response can be so great that it causes severe damage to the lungs, which is why patients with severe cases often need ventilators.

Surprisingly, how HCQ works to diminish the inflammatory response is not fully understood. Current research suggests that it interferes with the normal functioning of two Toll-like receptors, which are “signaling” proteins that your immune system uses to regulate inflammation. This interference may be why HCQ can work to reduce it. Because HCQ has been used for over half a century, its side effects have been well-documented. Most notably, use, especially long-term use, has been associated with an increased risk of retinopathy, or damage to the retina. Some recent studies have also indicated that it may cause toxic side effects in patients taking other common drugs, such as metformin.

Remdesivir (RDV) was designed by the pharmaceutical company Gilead as a possible treatment for hepatitis C virus and respiratory syncytial virus. Some studies have shown that RDV may also inhibit other viruses that possess an RNA genome, including those that cause Ebola, SARS and MERS. Right now, it looks like RDV is effective because it looks very similar to a chemical that viruses need to reproduce. But when the virus errantly uses RDV, the replication stops. When it comes to the safety of RDV, the data are less clear. In limited human trials, elevated liver enzymes were reported, but a full assessment of its side effects have not been determined.

Read more …

Your happy news for the day.

Miss England Hangs Up Her Crown To Return To Work As A COVID19 Doctor (C24)

Miss England 2019, Bhasha Mukherjee, is hanging up her crown to return to the front-line amid the coronavirus crisis. Last year, while competing in the Miss World pageant, the 24-year-old stepped away from her post as a junior doctor in the medical field, reports People, and shortly after, started doing charity work which was set to go on until later this year. But that all changed when she started receiving messages from her colleagues at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston in the UK, detailing the extent of the crisis. “When you are doing all this humanitarian work abroad, you’re still expected to put the crown on, get ready… look pretty,” she told CNN, which she said just didn’t feel right anymore.


“I wanted to come back home. I wanted to come and go straight to work,” she said. “I felt a sense of this is what I’d got this degree for and what better time to be part of this particular sector than now.” Bhasha has since returned to the UK from India where she was working as an ambassador for Mercia Lions Club to provide resources to a home for abandoned girls. She will start work in the medical field though after she is done self-isolating in the next two weeks.


Miss England 2019, Bhasha Mukherjee, during the 69th Miss World pageant. Photo: Getty Images.

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If you would have told anyone this on January 1…

U.S. GDP Will Contract 30% In Second Quarter, 5% In 2020 – PIMCO (R.)

The forced closure of businesses across the United States and surge in unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic will force U.S. growth to contract by 30% in the second quarter and 5% overall in 2020, Pacific Investment Management Co (PIMCO) wrote on Wednesday. In a blog post, Tiffany Wilding, a North American economist at PIMCO, wrote that evidence from recent jobs reports suggests the unemployment rate may rise as high as 20%. The 30% contraction in growth in the second quarter would likely be followed by two quarters of recovery, Wilding wrote. While two quarters of contraction is shorter than the four recorded in the 2008 financial crisis, the depth of the shock is far greater – quarterly contractions did not rise above 8% during that time.


California-based PIMCO is one of the world’s largest investment firms with $1.91 trillion assets under management as of Dec. 31 2019. “The speed and magnitude of the U.S. labor market disruption has been sharper than any we’ve seen in recent history, suggesting that the decline in overall activity has also likely been much more severe,” wrote Wilding. In spite of the already enormous spate of layoffs, the number of jobs lost is likely to continue to rise as more states close non-essential businesses. The figures are also expected to rise as unemployment offices work through a backlog of claims. Wilding notes that the government’s March employment report showed that layoffs had begun earlier than suggested by weekly unemployment data, and were spread across industries, including healthcare, which PIMCO had expected to remain resilient.

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Old ideas for new times.

Thinking Outside of the “V” Shaped Recovery Box (RIA)

It seems the entirety of the financial media and many on Wall Street believe a “V” shaped economic recovery is in our future. While we hope they are right, we would be foolish to take such analysis and, quite frankly, unwarranted optimism, at face value. If history teaches us one thing, it is that significant, life-altering events are rarely if ever followed by a quick return to normality. In this article, we raise a few considerations that may make you reconsider popular economic narratives. Today, the importance for investors to think outside of the box cannot be overstated.


Or to put it another way, the parameters of “the box” have likely changed and, if so, we should be cognizant of those changes in our decision making. If the future economic recovery does not resemble the “V” shape that the financial markets are depending on, the stock market may be even more over-valued than we think. To that end, consider the following graph showing where the S&P 500 could trade based on a range of historical valuations.

The COVID-19 Crisis may be short-lived or not. Although it seems as though progress is being made, there is nary a sign that a full-fledged cure or vaccine is at hand. Social distancing and mass closures of commercial enterprise appear to slow the exponential spreading of the virus considerably. While very effective in saving lives, these measures come with immense economic costs. The productive output of the global economy has ground to a near-total halt. As the virus appears to have peaked in Asia and is starting to show signs of peaking in Europe, we are hopeful the U.S. will also peak shortly. Then what? From a health standpoint, the answer depends on whether a cure or vaccine is discovered.


If a cure or vaccine is found and can be produced, distributed, and administered quickly, then mandatory and self-regulated social distancing will end, and people will hopefully resume normal activities. This may be the rationale backing a “V” shaped recovery, but as we discuss later in the article, normal may not be the same normal we knew before February 2020. If the spreading of the virus is significantly curtailed, but there is no cure or vaccine developed, the outcome may be very different. Just ask yourself, are you ready to stand in a crowded elevator, hop on a packed train, or stand shoulder to shoulder with other fans at a sporting event or concert? It is quite likely that in the bleaker scenario with no cure or vaccine, there will be some recovery, but most people will dramatically alter their everyday life. Such a change will radically reshape the outlook for human behavior on a vast scale.

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How to keep a bubble inflated against all odds.

Americans Not Making Their Mortgage Payments Soar By 1064% In One Month (ZH)

According to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association Forbearance and Call Volume Survey which highlights the “unprecedented, widespread mortgage forbearance already requested by borrowers affected by the spread of the coronavirus”, the total number of loans in forbearance grew to 2.66% as of April 1; just one month ago, on March 2, the rate was 0.25%, or a 1,064% increase in just one month. For loans backed by Ginnie Mae, which serves low- and moderate-income borrowers, the surge was much greater, with total loans in forbearance soaring to 4.25% from 0.19% one month ago. Overall, the MBA reports that total forbearance requests grew by 1,270% between the week of March 2 and the week of March 16, and another 1,896% between the week of March 16 and the week of March 30.


According to Bloomberg, borrowers with relatively low credit scores, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, are most likely to seek relief. Over the past two years, Ginnie Mae has guaranteed $583 billion of 30-year mortgages with FICO scores below 715, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. However, the longer the coronavirus shutdown lasts, the higher the FICO cutoff for those borrowers unable (or unwilling) to make mortgage payments. “MBA’s survey highlights the immediate relief consumers are seeking as they navigate the economic hardships brought forth by the mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “The mortgage industry is committed to providing this much-needed forbearance as mandated by law under the CARES Act. It is expected that requests will continue to skyrocket at an unsustainable pace in the coming weeks, putting insurmountable cash flow constraints on many servicers – especially IMBs.”

[..] lenders – like everyone else – are operating in the dark, with no way of predicting the scope or duration of the pandemic or the damage it will wreak on the economy. If the virus recedes soon and the economy roars back to life, then the plan will help borrowers get back on track quickly. But the greater the fallout, the harder and more expensive it will be to stave off repossessions. “Nobody has any sense of how long this might last,” said Andrew Jakabovics, a former Department of Housing and Urban Development senior policy adviser who is now at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit affordable housing group. “The forbearance program allows everybody to press pause on their current circumstances and take a deep breath. Then we can look at what the world might look like in six or 12 months from now and plan for that.”


But if the economic turmoil is long-lasting, the government will have to find a way to prevent foreclosures – which could mean forgiving some debt, said Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree. And with the government now stuck in “bailout everyone mode”, the risk of allowing foreclosures to spiral is just too great because it would damage financial markets and that could reinfect the economy, he explained. “I expect policy makers to do whatever they can to hold the line on a financial crisis,” Kapfidze said hinting at just a trace of a conflict of interest as his firm may well be next to fold if its borrowers declare a payment moratorium. “And that means preventing foreclosures by any means necessary.”

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The estate is trying to protect Ghislaine.

Virgin Islands At Odds With Epstein Estate Over ‘Broad’ Liability Releases (R.)

Women who say they were abused by deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein should not be required to sign broad liability waivers in order to get payouts from his estate, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands said on Wednesday. The office of Attorney General Denise George said in a statement that the estate was demanding the “broad releases,” which would shield not only the estate but potentially other individuals from legal liability, as part of a proposed victim compensation fund. A spokeswoman for George said people covered by the releases could include anyone linked to Epstein who was involved in trafficking or abusing girls. “With this demand still in place, the Fund cannot ensure a fundamentally fair and legally sufficient process for victims who choose to participate,” the attorney general said.


George’s office has asked the Virgin Islands probate court, which is overseeing the estate, to resolve the dispute. The estate was valued at $636.1 million before the recent global market plunge. [..] George sued the estate in January, saying Epstein’s sexual misconduct there stretched from 2001 to 2018 and included raping and trafficking in dozens of women and girls. At least two dozen Epstein accusers have filed civil lawsuits against the estate. Some named Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell and other alleged enablers of Epstein’s abuses as defendants. Ghislaine, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, has denied the allegations against her.

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It’s as simple as that.

Vindictive Court Rulings Prove British State Wants Assange Dead (WSWS)

In a London court hearing yesterday, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared that the extradition show trial of Julian Assange will proceed in May, despite the fact that Britain is under a national lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly spreading through the country’s prison system. Baraitser’s ruling was the second in a fortnight that places Assange’s life and safety in jeopardy and underscores the travesty of justice being perpetrated against him. On March 25, she rejected an application for bail made by Assange’s legal team, which detailed the “very real” and potentially “fatal” threat posed to his health by the coronavirus pandemic. Assange is currently held on remand in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.


[..] In an open letter last month, Doctors for Assange wrote: “Julian Assange’s life and health are at heightened risk due to his arbitrary detention during this global pandemic. That threat will only grow as the coronavirus spreads.” Speaking for the group, Dr. Stephen Frost told the World Socialist Web Site: “Mr. Assange must be assumed by doctors to be severely immunocompromised and therefore at greatly increased risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus in any prison, but especially in a prison such as Belmarsh. Every extra day Mr. Assange is incarcerated in Belmarsh prison constitutes an increased threat to his life.”

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I’m thinking the NYT, WaPo, CNN hugely prefer four more years of Trump over four dull Biden years. There’s no money for them in Biden.

Democrats Salivate Over Obama Coming Off Sidelines (Hill)

The decision by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to suspend his campaign means former President Obama is about to get back into the political spotlight. Sources close to Obama and Biden say the two men have spoken “quite frequently,” as one put it, in recent days as Biden pivots to the general election. Obama has also spoken to Sanders in recent days, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations. The former president has stayed out of the Democratic primary, but sources say he is anxious to endorse his former vice president, Joe Biden, and become an active player in the general election campaign against President Trump. Democrats across the country are also ready for his entry.

“IT IS TIME,” Doug Landry, a former Hillary Clinton aide, wrote Wednesday, tweeting a cartoon image of Obama as superman. “RELEASE THE SUPER SURROGATE.” Sources say the former president is ready but that he and Biden are also conscious of the coronavirus pandemic dominating the country and changing the nature of politics. Biden actually spoke by phone with Trump on Monday to discuss the pandemic, and Sanders made it clear that the spreading virus was one reason he ended his campaign on Wednesday despite the urgings of some supporters to continue. “He’s eager to go,” said one source close to Obama. “He’s been waiting for this election for almost four years.”

The pandemic also affects the basics of campaigning. Large rallies and handshakes are impossible, and Biden has been working for the last several weeks from his basement recreation room. “Like everyone else, Obama is going to have to appear on video or on television, but the biggest question is how?” one source said. “That’s all being ironed out.” Sources on both sides said they expect Obama — and former first lady Michelle Obama — to begin to appear in upcoming virtual fundraisers to help build excitement around Biden’s campaign and activate some bundlers who remained on the sidelines until now. “No one has heard from him in a long time, and people will pay a lot of money to hear from him, even on a computer,” one longtime Obama ally said.

Read more …

 

It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of the process.

Thanks everyone for your generous donations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. It’s good for your health.

 

Apr 062020
 


John M. Fox WCBS studios, 49 East 52nd Street, NYC 1948

 

Coronavirus Has Lit The Fuse On A Time Bomb In China’s Economy (SCMP)
Consider the Possibility That Trump Is Right About China (Schadlow)
Head Of WHO Accused Of Putting Lives At Risk By Parroting China’s Lies (DM)
China Owes US £351 Billion (DM)
It Started In China, But Europe Is The Hub For Global Coronavirus Spread (IC)
Japan To Declare State Of Emergency On April 7 (ZH)
Tracking Site Suggests White House Model Overestimates Hospitalizations (JTN)
Illinois Adjusts On The Fly To Meet Medical Supply Needs In ‘Wild West’ (CST)
Mexico’s President Has ‘Unorthodox’ Coronavirus Plan To Help Economy, Poor (R.)
Bailing Out the Bailout (Matt Taibbi)
Boris Johnson Received Oxygen Treatment After Being Admitted To Hospital (BI)
Dr.Zelenko Has Now Treated 699 Coronavirus Patients With 100% Success (TSU)
COVID-19 Attacks The 1-Beta Chain of Hemoglobin (Chemrxiv)

 

 

Are things actually calming down a little? Seems much too early to say. Some countries may apprear to be slowing down, but others have just started.

And perhaps some numbers have been exaggerated, but we all know many numbers have been lowballed for a long time too.

If the US has less than 3,000 deaths in 10 days, then maybe.

 

 

Cases 1,282,383 (+ 67,896 from yesterday’s 1214487)

Deaths 70,183 (+ 4,578 from yesterday’s 65605)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% !

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Someone called it the end of the Asian century.

Coronavirus Has Lit The Fuse On A Time Bomb In China’s Economy (SCMP)

The coronavirus outbreak has already taken a great toll on the Chinese economy, with all headline readings pointing towards a record slowdown in growth during the first two months of the year. But there is an even greater danger for what was once the world’s fastest-growing major economy: that Covid-19 will become the catalyst that will bring its many long-simmering problems to the boil. At the centre of these problems is a rising systemic risk in its banking and financial systems caused by a high level of debt accrued over the past decade. The outbreak could not have occurred at a worse time. The past 10 years have not only seen the economy saddled with this debt, but it has also involved a steady structural slowdown that last year saw the growth rate fall to 6.1 per cent, the lowest in decades.


Now, just at the very time the country might consider spending more to prop up that growth rate, a raging pandemic means it will be making much less money than usual. The latest data from the Chinese Ministry of Finance shows fiscal revenue plunged by 9.9 per cent in the January-February period, the steepest drop since 2009. Overall tax revenue fell 11.2 per cent, driven by a 19 per cent slump in value-added tax (VAT) revenue, the main source of fiscal income. These drops come just as the government has offered a handsome tax cut in response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the escalation of the pandemic in the rest of the world will only further weigh on China’s economic growth, corporate profits and personal income. In turn, this will inevitably drag down government revenue in months to come.

Beijing’s proposed stimulus spending will only exacerbate China’s already-massive debt pile, which had reached 310 per cent of gross domestic product by the end of last year, according to the Institute of International Finance. Many economies that have experienced such levels of debt have gone on to suffer a financial crash or economic crisis. China now accounts for about 60 per cent of the US$72.5 trillion emerging market debt. A deleveraging campaign had reduced Beijing’s debt mountain in 2018. But it has since returned to credit-driven stimulus to support growth and combat the effects of its trade war with the United States. About 80 per cent of China’s debt stock was accumulated over the past decade as the country strived to achieve the politically significant milestone of doubling its economic sizefrom 2010 to 2020. The milestone was a key goal in President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream of “national rejuvenation”.


While the coronavirus threat has receded in China itself, any hope of an early recovery is forlorn as Covid-19 is still ripping through the major developed economies – essentially, China’s customers and trade partners. Plunging demand from abroad will create a second shock wave that will hit China’s export-oriented economy just as it is recovering from the first shock of having to lock down its cities. China’s balance sheet will be hit by both dwindling revenue and a spiralling demand for spending. Rising corporate debt, surging local government borrowings, and soaring non-performing loans for commercial banks are three areas that could wreck its fragile financial and banking systems. The non-financial corporate debt-to-GDP ratio jumped from 93 per cent in 2009 to 153 per cent last year [..]

Read more …

Nadia Schadlow is a former deputy national-security adviser for strategy.

Consider the Possibility That Trump Is Right About China (Schadlow)

China, America’s most powerful rival, has played a particularly harmful role in the current crisis, which began on its soil. Initially, that country’s lack of transparency prevented prompt action that might have contained the virus. In Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, Chinese officials initially punished citizens for “spreading rumors” about the disease. The lab in Shanghai that first published the genome of the virus on open platforms was shut down the next day for “rectification,” as the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported in February. Apparently at the behest of officials at the Wuhan health commission, news reports indicate, visiting teams of experts from elsewhere in China were prevented from speaking freely to doctors in the infectious-disease wards.

Some experts had suspected human-to-human transmission, but their inquiries were rebuffed. “They didn’t tell us the truth,” one team member said of the local authorities, “and from what we now know of the real situation then, they were lying” to us. Now China’s propagandists are competing to create a narrative that obscures the origins of the crisis and that blames the United States for the virus.

This irresponsible behavior and lack of transparency revealed what Trump’s National Security Strategy had identified early on: that “contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of others.” Instead of becoming a “responsible stakeholder”—a term George W. Bush’s administration used to describe the role it hoped Beijing would play following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001—the Chinese Communist Party used the advantages of WTO membership to advance a political and economic system at odds with America’s free and open society. Previous National Security Strategy documents had tiptoed around China’s adversarial conduct, as if calling out that country as a competitor—as the 2017 document unequivocally did—was somehow impolite.


[..] Dependence on China for crucial medical equipment throughout the pandemic has illuminated the dangers of a hyper-globalized economy. Experts had warned of American dependence on key drug ingredients from China. The Wall Street Journal has reported that China is the only maker of key ingredients for certain classes of drugs, including established antibiotics that treat a range of bacterial infections such as pneumonia. American reliance on Chinese suppliers for other pharmaceuticals and medical supplies is also worrisome. Americans should not depend on an authoritarian rival state for its citizens’ health—any more than the United States and other free and open societies should give Chinese companies, and by extension the Chinese Communist Party, control over communications infrastructure and sensitive personal data.

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The Daily Mail does not take prisoners.

“The British and US governments fund about a quarter of WHO’s $2.2 billion annual budget, while China gave $44.3 million last year.”

Head Of WHO Accused Of Putting Lives At Risk By Parroting China’s Lies (DM)

It seems the new virus first began appearing in Wuhan last November to the bafflement of local doctors. On December 31, China reported a cluster of pneumonia-like cases to the WHO. On the same day, Taiwan tipped off the Geneva-based body that it had learned of medical staff in China falling ill – a clear sign of human-to-human transmission. Yet it said the information was not shared since the nation is excluded from a key WHO platform. Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s vice-president and an epidemiologist, said the WHO’s failure to obtain first-hand information on human transmission led to crucial delay. ‘An opportunity to raise the alert level both in China and the wider world was lost.’

The WHO confirms receiving an email mentioning ‘news reports of atypical pneumonia reported in Wuhan, and that Wuhan authorities said they believed it was not SARS’ but denies there was any mention of medical staff falling ill. There are suggestions Chinese authorities knew of human-to-human transmissions early in January, even as they detained doctors desperately trying to warn about a potential epidemic and accused them of spreading false ‘rumours’. Taiwan sent its own team to Wuhan in mid-January after failing to obtain clarification through official channels, which confirmed human transmission. There have also been credible claims on Chinese social media, repeated by online news reports, that an infected disease specialist in Wuhan alerted a senior WHO official in Asia because they had trained together and remained friends.

On January 11, a Chinese government respiratory expert who initially said the virus was ‘under control’ admitted he might have been infected in Wuhan. Media reports show medical staff were being treated in hospital for symptoms by January 15. Yet on January 14, the WHO confidently told the world that ‘the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan’. It seems the new virus first began appearing in Wuhan last November to the bafflement of local doctors. On December 31, China reported a cluster of pneumonia-like cases to the WHO. On the same day, Taiwan tipped off the Geneva-based body that it had learned of medical staff in China falling ill – a clear sign of human-to-human transmission.

Yet it said the information was not shared since the nation is excluded from a key WHO platform. Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s vice-president and an epidemiologist, said the WHO’s failure to obtain first-hand information on human transmission led to crucial delay. ‘An opportunity to raise the alert level both in China and the wider world was lost.’ The WHO confirms receiving an email mentioning ‘news reports of atypical pneumonia reported in Wuhan, and that Wuhan authorities said they believed it was not SARS’ but denies there was any mention of medical staff falling ill. There are suggestions Chinese authorities knew of human-to-human transmissions early in January, even as they detained doctors desperately trying to warn about a potential epidemic and accused them of spreading false ‘rumours’.

Taiwan sent its own team to Wuhan in mid-January after failing to obtain clarification through official channels, which confirmed human transmission. There have also been credible claims on Chinese social media, repeated by online news reports, that an infected disease specialist in Wuhan alerted a senior WHO official in Asia because they had trained together and remained friends. On January 11, a Chinese government respiratory expert who initially said the virus was ‘under control’ admitted he might have been infected in Wuhan. Media reports show medical staff were being treated in hospital for symptoms by January 15. Yet on January 14, the WHO confidently told the world that ‘the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan’.

Read more …

More Daily Mail. Because it’s a quiet Monday morning.

China Owes US £351 Billion (DM)

Britain should pursue the Chinese government through international courts for £351 billion in coronavirus compensation, a major study into the crisis has concluded. It comes as 15 senior Tories led by former Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green write to Boris Johnson to demand a ‘rethink and a reset’ in relations with Beijing. The first comprehensive investigation into the global economic impact of the outbreak concludes that the G7 group of the world’s leading economies have been hit by a £3.2 trillion bill that could have been avoided if the Chinese Communist Party had been open and honest about the outbreak late last year.

Britain’s slice of the compensation sum includes the full cost of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic bailout and hike in NHS spending in response to the crisis. The landmark study also directly highlights crunch British policy decisions made earlier this year – such as not cancelling flights from London to Wuhan in January – that were hampered or directly affected by misinformation from China and the acquiescent World Health Organisation. The report, to be published tomorrow by the Henry Jackson Society, a British foreign policy think-tank, says there is evidence that China directly breached international healthcare treaty responsibilities, and outlines ten legal avenues major nations could take to pursue damages from them.


It is titled ‘Coronavirus Compensation: Assessing China’s potential culpability and avenues of legal response’ and concludes: ‘The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) sought to conceal bad news at the top, and to conceal bad news from the outside world. Now China has responded by deploying an advanced and sophisticated disinformation campaign to convince the world that it is not to blame for the crisis, and that instead the world should be grateful for all that China is doing. ‘The truth is that China is responsible for Covid-19 – and if legal claims were brought against Beijing they could amount to trillions of pounds.’ Legal avenues include bringing a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague against China for breaking sanitary commitments, going to the UN and International Court of Justice, or the WTO.

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Europe was very late. Maybe Americans should take note.

It Started In China, But Europe Is The Hub For Global Coronavirus Spread (IC)

When the coronavirus began to spread, Mongolia took sensible precautions. It halted border crossings from China, with which it shares a 2,877-mile border. Mongolia also imposed travel bans on people from South Korea and Japan, the other epicenters of the pandemic at the time. Yet the virus nonetheless found its way to Mongolia, where the first infected person — known as the “index case” — was a Frenchman who had come to the country from France via Moscow. The story is the same for many other countries that became part of the pandemic due to infected people carrying it from Europe. South Africa’s first coronavirus cases had gone to northern Italy for a skiing trip. South America’s first case was a Brazilian who had traveled to Italy’s Lombardy region, and Bangladesh’s first cases were Bangladeshis who had also come from Italy.


Panama’s index case was imported from Spain, and Nigeria’s first experience with coronavirus was an Italian business traveler. Jordan’s was imported from Italy. As Covid-19 cripples the U.S. and ravages many countries in the world, politicians are battling to craft a narrative of who is to blame for its damage. The virus started in China, of course, but narratives of how it went from epidemic to global pandemic often leave out a crucial element: the role of Europe. European countries have been hit much harder than Asian nations and have spread the virus significantly more than other regions. The Intercept went through news reports of Covid-19 index cases across the world, and the results were startling. Travel from and within Europe preceded the first coronavirus cases in at least 93 countries across all five continents, accounting for more than half of the world’s index cases.

Travel from Italy alone preceded index cases in at least 46 countries, compared to 27 countries associated with travel from China. One of the reasons European travel facilitated the spread of the coronavirus was because those countries were late to close air links. Italy closed one terminal of Milan’s main airport on March 16, when the northern region of Lombardy already had 3,760 cases in a population of 10 million people. By contrast, China had shut down flights out of Hubei province on January 23, when there were 500 reported cases worldwide and 17 deaths in Hubei among a population of 58 million. London’s Heathrow and Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airports are still open as cases soar in both of those cities, while Spain’s air operators only closed major terminals in Madrid and Barcelona when air traffic had ground to a halt anyway.

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Any state of emergency that doesn’t start the moment it’s announced is suspicious. Why not next week, month?

Japan To Declare State Of Emergency On April 7 (ZH)

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to declare a coronavirus emergency, according to the Nikkei, as new cases in the capital surged at a record pace. And while the Japanese publication notes that the government will hold an unofficial meeting of a panel of experts and start preparing for the declaration, Kyodo reported moments ago that Japan will declare a state of emergency on April 7, which would take effect on April 8. An emergency declaration gives governors in the areas covered formal powers, such as issuing requests that people stay home; Tokyo and surrounding areas, as well as Osaka, are expected to be affected by the declaration.

Abe has been criticized for not having already declared an emergency – a hesitance thought by many to stem from a strong desire to hold the Olympics this summer in Tokyo as originally planned. The International Olympic Committee decided in late March to postpone the games to 2021 after consulting with the prime minister and others. And yet, a conflict is set to emerge almost instantly because Japan’s constitution does not permit the government to demand that individuals stay home, owing to civil liberties concerns. Is Japan – which already buys billions in stocks just to avoid a market crash and preserve social order – about to also have a constituational crisis?


In any case, we find it strange that there were almost “no cases” in the weeks leading up to Japan’s reluctant decision to postpone this year’s Olympics, only to see a sudden record surge afterwards as Japan’s cases “mysteriously” soared, demonstrating once again that the coronavirus – or rather the tracking of its case and death toll – is first and foremost a political priority. Abe met with parties including Health Minister Katsunobu Kato and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the economic and fiscal policy minister, on Sunday to discuss the spread of infections. “If necessary, we will decide [to declare an emergency] without hesitation,” said Nishimura, who heads the government’s coronavirus response, on a show of public broadcaster NHK on Sunday. “We are looking for signs of an overshoot,” he said, referring to an explosion in cases, and noted that the atmosphere has grown extremely tense.

Read more …

After going through model after model to make accouncements and set policy, Fauci says: “disease models “don’t tell you anything. You can’t really rely upon models..”

Tracking Site Suggests White House Model Overestimates Hospitalizations (JTN)

A web site that tracks actual hospital beds in use suggests the model used by top White House health officials to project the trajectory of the coronavirus has so far overestimated the number of Americans hospitalized by the disease by tens of thousands. Those projections, popularly known as the “Murray” model after the model’s lead author, University of Washington professor Christopher Murray, were explicitly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, at a press conference in the last week. Birx told reporters that Murray’s model, which predicts a shortage of tens of thousands of hospital beds throughout the country by the middle of April, underscored the task force’s “concern that we had with the growing number of potential fatalities” based on the model’s projections.

Yet a comparison of actual hospitalized patients by state and nationally suggests the model has so far overestimated the number of beds needed to treat pandemic patients. The forecast predicted, for example, that the United States would need around 164,750 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients on Saturday. Yet the COVID Tracking Project, a team of journalists and data analysts who collect and tabulate coronavirus data from state tallies around the country, reported only around 22,158 currently hospitalized coronavirus patients nationwide on Saturday. The discrepancies are also stark when looked at on a state-by-state basis. The model estimated that 65,434 patients would need hospital beds in New York State on Friday. In reality, there were 15,905 hospitalizations in that state by Sunday morning, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Notably, the model touts its predictions as occurring under “full social distancing” through May of this year, meaning the projected hospitalizations are meant to occur even with significant quarantine measures. It is unclear why the model’s numbers are so significantly higher than the actual numbers observed in hospitals across the country. Officials have offered explanations for various model fluctuations ranging from data assumptions to the impact of stay-at-home orders. [..] at a White House press conference on Saturday, Birx said that coronavirus modelers are “re-evaluating all of their models in light of the level of the impact of the mitigation.” “Just to be clear, we won’t know how valid the models are until we move all the way through the epidemic,” she said.


Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, reportedly said during a recent meeting that disease models “don’t tell you anything. You can’t really rely upon models.” Fauci has elsewhere indicated a preference for overestimating the possible effect of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, telling reporters in March: “I think we should be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting.”

https://twitter.com/AndyGrewal/status/1247010974974054406

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The entire west is wild. Most organizational models are horror material. No money in them, no political gain.

Illinois Adjusts On The Fly To Meet Medical Supply Needs In ‘Wild West’ (CST)

In a state where the government usually operates on the basis of buy now, pay later (often much, much later), the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic has required a decidedly different approach. About two weeks ago, Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them. One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced.

Realizing there was no way the supplier could get to Springfield and back by the deadline, Illinois assistant comptroller Ellen Andres jumped in her car and raced north on I-55 with a check for $3,469,600. From the other end, Jeffrey Polen, president of The Moving Concierge in Lemont, drove south. Polen isn’t in the medical supply business, but he “knows a guy,” an old friend who specializes in working with China’s factories. As they drove, Andres and Polen arranged to meet in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant just off the interstate in Dwight. They made the handoff there. Polen made it back to his bank with 20 minutes to spare. Illinois already has received part of the mask shipment. There’s more on the way.

That’s just a taste of the “Wild West” world of emergency procurement taking place over the past several weeks as the state fights for equipment and supplies to protect frontline workers and patients in the battle against COVID-19. Most of that work is being performed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration through a rapid-procurement strike team, pulling together procurement specialists from around state government under the auspices of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. [..] They’re all looking for what we have come to know as PPE or personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns and face shields — plus coronavirus testing kits and swabs and, most prized of all, ventilators to help those most seriously ill keep breathing.


There’s a separate team working just on ventilators, said Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell, who is overseeing the procurement efforts for Pritzker. When they find what they need, they have to move immediately to complete the purchase before losing out to another bidder — even as the competition causes prices to jump to levels that would have been ridiculous just a month ago.

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Not everybody had endless pockets. PEMEX must be hurting something bad.

Mexico’s President Has ‘Unorthodox’ Coronavirus Plan To Help Economy, Poor (R.)

Mexico’s president unveiled a plan on Sunday to lift the economy out of the coronavirus crisis, vowing to help the poor and create jobs, but his promise of fiscal discipline sparked criticism that the measures fell far short of what was needed. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged Mexico would create 2 million new jobs in the next nine months and boost small business and housing loans. He also vowed to tighten public sector austerity to avoid debt. Governments worldwide have unleashed unprecedented spending pledges to minimise damage to their economies from the coronavirus, including a $2-trillion package by Mexico’s top trading partner, the United States.

But Mexico’s leftist leader, targeting measures for the “most vulnerable”, said he would use a budget stabilization fund and cash from public trusts to fund plans to shield the poor from a slump economists expect to be severe. “This crisis is temporary, transitory,” Lopez Obrador said in a televised speech. “Normality will return soon. We will defeat the coronavirus, we will reactivate the economy.” Last week, Lopez Obrador said about $10 billion was available from various rainy day funds, while the finance ministry said “buffers” for the economy included a stabilization fund of about $6.6 billion available from the end of 2019.


Known by his initials “AMLO”, the president said Mexico would announced next week investments in the energy sector worth 339 billion pesos ($13.5 billion) to boost the economy, which some private analysts forecast to contract by up to 10% in 2020. That sum is far less than $92 billion in energy investments the private sector has proposed to the president.

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“The coronavirus emergency is probably temporary. The bailout looks like forever.”

Bailing Out the Bailout (Matt Taibbi)

Congress needed a year of intense infighting to approve a $4.7 trillion budget, but just a single week to draft this $2 trillion deal. Although members quibbled over numbers before the vote — Bernie Sanders insisted on more unemployment insurance, while others worried about creating a “slush fund” for airlines and other industries — the bill ultimately cruised through, passing in a voice vote in the House and 96-0 in the Senate. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the only comparable “We need a gazillion dollars in 10 minutes” legislation in recent history, passed after a bitter battle, with 63 House Democrats and 91 House Republicans opposing. Analysts and politicians insisted the new bailout, in the broad strokes, was uncontroversial, a fire hose of money for virus-ravaged hospitals, workers, and small businesses.

Even critics of Wall Street agreed that this one isn’t a complete washout compared with the last disaster, when the taxpayer was asked to bail out the very people who’d caused the crisis. “At least this bailout has a Main Street component,” says Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, a financial watchdog group. There are serious logistical questions about how money is supposed to get to Main Street — like, for instance, the use of the tiny Small Business Administration to push $377 billion in emergency loans out the door — but the larger problem has to do with the meat of the bill: the backstopping of the financial sector. As happened in the run-up to September 2008, Wall Street in recent weeks warned of Armageddon if the Fed did not immediately start spending billions per minute to buy every conceivable kind of financial product.

The Fed responded by dusting off emergency lending facilities like the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, and the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, all of which saw action after the crash of 2008. Each would be used to step in and buy financial products in the various markets frozen due to virus panic.The Fed furthermore announced that on March 23rd it would begin buying $50 billion in government-backed mortgage securities, in addition to $75 billion in Treasury bills, every day.

They’ve since lowered those numbers, but the scale of these interventions dwarfs any of the Fed’s actions post-2008. A $50 billion buying spree roughly represents as much Fed support of mortgage markets in one day as was done across a month at the peak of the last round of Quantitative Easing. Taken in conjunction with the CARES Act, the Fed and the Treasury were now positioned to become a major ongoing buyer of everything from mortgages to U.S. government debt to exchange-traded funds to corporate bonds to money-market funds.

[..] The Fed “balance sheet” as of Friday was already at $5.3 trillion, nearly $800 billion higher than its previous peak in May 2016. Wall Street analysts are predicting this number will eventually reach $10 trillion, and why not? Fed chief Jerome Powell signaled that assistance would be unlimited when he said the central bank “would not run out of ammunition.” As with 2008, the emergency support is supposed to be temporary, but there’s less belief that this is even ostensibly true this time around. There will be a lot of howling over the irony: Trump when he ran for president in 2016 said then-Fed chief Janet Yellen should be “ashamed” of creating a “false stock market” for Barack Obama. Our future will be a parody of the Yellen economy. Short-term loans to make payroll and keep tenants in storefronts are only a part of the rescue. The coronavirus emergency is probably temporary. The bailout looks like forever.

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Bad sign. Who’s going to run the country appears up for grabs.

Boris Johnson Received Oxygen Treatment After Being Admitted To Hospital (BI)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will remain in hospital on Monday after being admitted for “persistent symptoms of coronavirus,” ten days after first testing positive for it. The prime minister was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster at 8pm on Sunday on the advice of his doctor after continuing to exhibit a high temperature. A spokesperson insisted on Sunday that Johnson’s hospital admission was not an “emergency” measure but had merely been for precautionary reasons in order to carry out tests. However the Times of London newspaper reported that the prime minister was treated with oxygen on arrival. Downing Street has repeatedly insisted that Johnson was only experiencing “mild symptoms” of the virus.


However, aides have reportedly become “increasingly worried” about the prime minister’s health in recent days, according to multiple reports, with Johnson heard “coughing and spluttering” his way through conference calls. Johnson was “more seriously ill than either he or his officials were prepared to admit,” according to the Guardian, which reported a source suggesting that Johnson “was being seen by doctors who were concerned about his breathing.” The Sun newspaper reported a Downing Street source suggesting that Johnson would remain in hospital “as long as necessary.” Asked about the prime minister’s condition on Monday the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC that Johnson was “still very much in charge of the government.”

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He’s down to 99.9% now. One person died who wouldn’t stick to the regimen.

Dr.Zelenko Has Now Treated 699 Coronavirus Patients With 100% Success (TSU)

Last Wednesday, we published the success story from Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a board-certified family practitioner in New York, after he successfully treated 350 coronavirus patients with 100 percent success using a cocktail of drugs: hydroxychloroquine, in combination with azithromycin (Z-Pak), an antibiotic to treat secondary infections, and zinc sulfate. Dr. Zelenko said he saw the symptom of shortness of breath resolved within four to six hours after treatment. Hydroxychloroquine is now being used worldwide, according to a map from French Dr. Didier Raoult. In the meantime, scientists at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe they’ve found potential vaccine for coronavirus.

Now, Dr. Zelenko provides updates on the treatment after he successfully treated 699 COVID-19 patients in New York. In an exclusive interview with former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Vladmir Zelenko shares the results of his latest study, which showed that out of his 699 patients treated, zero patients died, zero patients intubated, and four hospitalizations. Dr. Zelenko said the whole treatment costs only $20 over a period of 5 days with 100% success. He defines success as “Not to die.” Dr. Zelenko first posted his Facebook video message last week calling on President Trump to “advise the country that they should be taking this medication.”

There are many other success stories about hydroxychloroquine across the country. Last week, Dr. William Grace, an oncologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said they’ve not had a single death in their hospital because of hydroxychloroquine. “Thanks to hydroxychloroquine, we have not had a death in our hospital,’ Dr. Grace said.


Also, in a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) also confirmed some of Dr. Dr. Zelenko’s findings. The study by NIH showed that Zinc supplementation decreases the morbidity of lower respiratory tract infection in pediatric patients in the developing world. A second study also conducted by NIH titled: “In Vitro Antiviral Activity and Projection of Optimized Dosing Design of Hydroxychloroquine for the Treatment of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),” also showed hydroxychloroquine to be more potent in killing the virus off in vitro (in the test tube and not in the body).

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One for our medical commenters. A Chinese study that suggests the virus in first instance attacks blood cells, not lungs. This could also explain why chloroquine is effective. By the way, word has it that doctors are taking hydroxychloroquine on a regular basis to protect themselves. Note: It is no use when taken either too early or too late.

@yishan on Twitter: “Virus is disrupting the hemoglobin’s oxygen capacity. It is attacking our BLOOD first, not the lungs. It is NOT a respiratory ailment (primarily), lung breakdown symptoms are a consequence of the attack on blood hemoglobins. Hypoxia is happening BEFORE lungs are affected.”

COVID-19 Attacks The 1-Beta Chain of Hemoglobin (Chemrxiv)

The novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) is an infectious acute respiratory infection caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus is a positive-strand RNA virus with high homology to bat coronavirus. In this study, conserved domain analysis, homology modeling, and molecular docking were used to compare the biological roles of certain proteins of the novel coronavirus. The results showed the ORF8 and surface glycoprotein could bind to the porphyrin, respectively. At the same time, orf1ab, ORF10, and ORF3a proteins could coordinate attack the heme on the 1-beta chain of hemoglobin to dissociate the iron to form the porphyrin. The attack will cause less and less hemoglobin that can carry oxygen and carbon dioxide.


The lung cells have extremely intense poisoning and inflammatory due to the inability to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen frequently, which eventually results in ground-glass-like lung images. The mechanism also interfered with the normal heme anabolic pathway of the human body, is expected to result in human disease. According to the validation analysis of these finds, chloroquine could prevent orf1ab, ORF3a, and ORF10 to attack the heme to form the porphyrin, and inhibit the binding of ORF8 and surface glycoproteins to porphyrins to a certain extent, effectively relieve the symptoms of respiratory distress. Favipiravir could inhibit the envelope protein and ORF7a protein bind to porphyrin, prevent the virus from entering host cells, and catching free porphyrins. Because the novel coronavirus is dependent on porphyrins, it may originate from an ancient virus.

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It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?

Thanks everyone for your wonderfully generous donations over the past days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for your health.

 

Mar 312020
 


Vincent van Gogh The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 (stolen yesterday)

 

Fauci Offers More Conservative Death Rate In Academic Article Than In Public Briefings (JTN)
Hospital Equipment Shortages Renew Spotlight On Supply Chain Middlemen (JTN)
US COVID19 Job Losses Could Be 47 Million, Unemployment May Hit 32% (CNBC)
Trump Rips Pelosi For Criticizing His Handling Of Coronavirus Pandemic (NYP)
Pelosi Aims To Move Fast On Next Rescue Package (Pol.)
Rachel Maddow’s Recent Predictions Get Roasted (JTN)
Political Distancing (Turley)
Many Brick & Mortar Stores Will Not Reopen, CMBS will Default (WS)
How Will COVID-19 Impact US Manufacturing? First Indications Are Ugly (WS)
“We Are Temporarily A Company With No Product And No Revenue” (WS)
Airbnb To Pay Out $250 Million To Hosts To Help Ease Cancellation Pain (R.)
China Says Manufacturing Activity Expanded In March (CNBC)
Hungary’s Viktor Orbán Wins Vote To Rule By Decree Indefinitely (Pol.)
Portugal Gives Migrants, Asylum-Seekers Full Citizenship Rights (CNN)
Five Days Of Worship That Set A Virus Time Bomb In France (R.)
People Get Ready! (Kunstler)
Italian Politicians Criticize Netherlands Over Lack Of Solidarity (NLT)

 

 

More countries are demanding people wear face masks, even the CDC in the US talks about making it obligatory, but masks are no more available in many places than tests are. We’re three months into this thing -though I know for most people it’s been just 2 weeks-, and we’re still debating this.

In the US, half the people have it easy, they can just blame everything on Trump, it’s a entire industry, even though his approval numbers rise at the same time. But in all those other countries, who do you blame when you have face the coordinated efforts to praise your government of the day? Life isn’t easy. Maybe you can blame Trump too.

Meanwhile, we’re sadly waiting for US cases and death numbers to explode. 15,000 new cases and close to 1,000 new deaths is devastating, but nowhere near what we expect the trend to become.

 

 

Cases 799,723 (+ 64,792 from yesterday’s 734,931)

Deaths 38,720 (+ 3,940 from yesterday’s 34,780)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-. Note: Turkey’s in the ascendancy (though not in the zodiac)

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 19% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

 

 

Sharyl Attkisson noticed something too. Fauci must be more careful.

Fauci Offers More Conservative Death Rate In Academic Article Than In Public Briefings (JTN)

You’ve probably heard that COVID-19 is far deadlier than the flu. But it could turn out to be more akin to a severe flu season. Surprisingly, both of those assessments come from the same authority at the same time: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease specialist. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly cited more jarring figures in public. For instance, Fauci declared in March 11 congressional testimony that the current coronavirus “is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu,” which would be about 1 percent. His testimony generated news headlines that blared across the internet and television news, and it remains frequently cited today. But among his learned colleagues in academia, he has provided the more conservative analysis.


“[T]he case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%,” Fauci wrote in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 26. “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.” A day after the NEJM article was published, Fauci was back to repeating the higher fatality number in public rather than “considerably less than 1%.” “The mortality of [COVID-19] is about 10 times [flu],” Fauci told Comedy Central host Trevor Noah on March 27.

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A lot of things won’t happen without kickbacks. The system is one sick puppy.. and no reform in sight, since both parties are beholden to the industry as a whole.

Hospital Equipment Shortages Renew Spotlight On Supply Chain Middlemen (JTN)

Healthcare providers facing medical equipment shortages and exorbitantly high drug prices during the coronavirus outbreak are captive to kickback-receiving “middlemen” who lock up hospitals in exclusive contracts that enable price gouging and supply bottlenecks, according to a network of physician advocacy groups representing 3,000 physicians. Nearly 90% of U.S. mayors who responded to a national survey released Friday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors said they lack enough protective equipment for their coronavirus medical workers, and 85% said they do not have enough ventilators for their hospitals.


Dr. Marion Mass, a Duke-educated physician who founded Practicing Physicians of America (PPA), told Just the News that so-called “safe harbor” (legal protection) provisions allowing for payments from medical equipment and drug manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and group purchasing organizations (GPO) — what Dr. Mass calls the “middlemen” between providers and manufacturers — amount to “kickbacks.” The “safe harbor” payments are overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), monitored by the HHS Inspector General (IG), and are currently protected by law, but Dr. Mass and her physician network argue they should be repealed.

“After significant consolidation, four behemoth GPOs now control 90% of the entire chain of hospital and nursing home supplies, and we are in the grip of an unspeakably corrupt, pay-to-play system of financial kickbacks,” Mass wrote in a white paper co-authored by the Physicians for Reform and Texas Public Policy Foundation. “If the law that established the ‘safe harbor’ for kickbacks to the GPOs (and extended to PBMs in 2003) was repealed, the cost for medical supplies and medications would fall by an estimated 25% to 30%. The cost of prescription medications would fall by 35% to 43%. Additional declines in prices are projected as true competition replaces a rigged marketplace. We estimate this reform would save Medicare and Medicaid an estimated $75 billion each year.”

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DiMartino Booth tweet: “(Bloomberg) 3 days after President Trump signed $2T stimulus, Kohl’s, Macy’s & Gap joined growing number of retailers to halt pay for much of their workforce while preserving some benefits. With these furloughs, total number of employees out a paycheck at major US chains >500,000”

US COVID19 Job Losses Could Be 47 Million, Unemployment May Hit 32% (CNBC)

Millions of Americans already have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis and the worst of the damage is yet to come, according to a Federal Reserve estimate. Economists at the Fed’s St. Louis district project total employment reductions of 47 million, which would translate to a 32.1% unemployment rate, according to a recent analysis of how bad things could get. The projections are even worse than St. Louis Fed President James Bullard’s much-publicized estimate of 30%. They reflect the high nature of at-risk jobs that ultimately could be lost to a government-induced economic freeze aimed at halting the coronavirus spread. “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years,” St. Louis Fed economist Miguel Faria-e-Castro wrote in a research paper posted last week.


There are a couple of important caveats to what Faria-e-Castro calls “back-of-the-envelope” calculations: They don’t account for workers who may drop out of the labor force, thus bringing down the headline unemployment rate, and they do not estimate the impact of recently passed government stimulus, which will extend unemployment benefits and subsidize companies for not cutting staff. However, the jobless picture already looks bleak. A record 3.3 million Americans filed initial jobless claims for the week ended March 21. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect another 2.65 million to join them this week. Friday’s nonfarm payrolls count for March is expected to show a decline of just 56,000, but that’s largely due to a statistical distortion [..]

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Pelosi falls innto the Chuck Todd “blood on his hands” trap. It’s a cheap political game that should not now be played. Sure, Trump was way off. But so were his advisers (Fauci), all other western and other leaders, and Pelosi herself, who was busy fiddling with impeachment when she could have been focusing on what she now says Trump should have been doing.

Trump Rips Pelosi For Criticizing His Handling Of Coronavirus Pandemic (NYP)

President Trump unleashed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an early morning phone interview on “Fox & Friends,” slamming her comments about his “deadly” handling of coronavirus. Speaking to the Fox News hosts Monday morning, the commander-in-chief described the California Democrat as “a sick puppy,” who has “a lot of problems,” when asked about Pelosi’s criticism of his response to the virus. Trump added that her remarks were “a horrible thing to say.” “When I stopped some very, very infected, very, very sick people — thousands coming in from China — earlier than anyone thought [was necessary], including the experts.

Nobody thought we should do it, except me,” Trump said, adding that he was praised by government infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci for his decision to close the borders. “If I didn’t do that, you would’ve had deaths like you have never seen before,” he continued before knocking Pelosi for not crediting him for the move. Trump went on to call San Francisco, a city that is part of Pelosi’s district, a “slum,” adding that the federal government may need to address the city’s problems. Speaking about Pelosi’s impeachment crusade against the president — which passed the House but failed in the Senate — Trump said, “Don’t forget, she was playing the impeachment game where she ended up looking like a fool.”

On Sunday, Pelosi slammed Trump’s response to the pandemic, telling CNN, “We should be taking every precaution. What the president, his denial at the beginning was deadly.” “As the president fiddles, people are dying. And we just have to take every precaution,” she continued. CNN host Jake Tapper pressed the speaker on whether she believed Trump’s downplaying of the crisis had cost American lives, to which Pelosi responded, “Yes, I am. I’m saying that.”

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More games. Scheduled to take at least another month. Posing and posturing.

Pelosi Aims To Move Fast On Next Rescue Package (Pol.)

House Democrats are moving rapidly on ambitious plans for a fourth coronavirus relief package, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi eager to put her imprint on legislation that she says could be ready for a vote in the coming weeks. Pelosi told reporters Monday that Democrats are in the early stages of drafting another major bill that will not only shore up health systems and protect frontline health care workers but could include substantial investments in infrastructure. “Our first bills were about addressing the emergency. The third bill was about mitigation. The fourth bill would be about recovery. Emergency, mitigation, recovery,” Pelosi said on a conference call. “I think our country is united in not only wanting to address our immediate needs — emergency, mitigation, and the assault on our lives and livelihoods — but also, how we recover in a very positive way.”


But Democrats’ approach could put them on a collision course with senior Republicans, who say they are very much in wait-and-see mode when it comes to another potential multi-trillion-dollar bill and are warning Pelosi not to try to jam the Senate with a progressive plan. “They’re approaching it — it seems like — as an opportunity to pass their political and ideological agenda. We’re approaching it as, ‘How do we protect the public health and our economy?’ And those are pretty divergent goals,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) [..]

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RussiaRussiaRussia is speeding up those hospital boats just to make here look bad. Actually, I don’t want to talk about Maddow.

Rachel Maddow’s Recent Predictions Get Roasted (JTN)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on March 20 cast doubt on the notion that two Navy hospital ships would soon reach ports on the East and West coasts to relieve hospitals combatting the coronavirus pandemic as President Trump had promised. The ships have since arrived at their respective destination ports in California and New York where they will serve non-COVID-19 patients in an effort to decrease pressure on the hospitals ashore. “In terms of the happy talk we’ve had on this front from the federal government, there is no sign that the Navy hospital ships that the president made such a big deal of, the Comfort and the Mercy, there’s no sign that they’ll be anywhere on site helping out anywhere in the country for weeks yet,” Maddow said on her television show.


“The president said when he announced that those ships would be put into action against the COVID-19 epidemic, he said one of those ships would be operational in New York harbor by next week. That’s nonsense, it will not be there next week,” Maddow asserted. The USNS Comfort arrived in New York harbor on Monday March 30, while the USNS Mercy arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday March 27 and began accepting patients on Sunday March 29. Republicans on Monday highlighted the Maddow clip.

It isn’t the first time the popular liberal host has faced criticism — both on the left and the right — for her prognostication or promotion. Maddow was criticized in March 2017 when she over-hyped a story about Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns, underwhelming many viewers once she finally divulged the information she had been teasing. “In positioning it as a grand revelation, a vital step in comprehending Trump’s corruption, MSNBC created an exceedingly cynical spectacle,” Willa Paskin wrote on Slate.com.

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Lesson in federalism. There are lots of things the federal government can’t do that are normal in other countries.

Political Distancing (Turley)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to take control of the medical supply market. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker demanded that President Trump take charge and said “precious months” were wasted waiting for federal action. Some critics are even more direct in demanding a federal takeover, including a national quarantine. It is the legal version of panic shopping. Many seem to long for federal takeovers, if not martial law. Yet like all panic shopping, they are buying into far more than they need while not doing as much as they could with what they have. For decades, governors tried to retain principal authority over public emergencies, but they did very little with those powers.

While many are doing impressive work now, some governors seem as eager to contain the blame as the coronavirus. Call it political distancing. Even if Trump nationalized the crisis by deploying troops, imposing price controls, and forcing production of ventilators, the Constitution has left most police authority and public health safety to the states in our system of federalism. The Framers believed liberties and powers were safest when held closest to citizens in local and state governments. Elected officials at the local and state levels are more readily held accountable than unknown Washington bureaucrats. Of course, with authority comes responsibility, and the latter notion is not always as welcomed as the former.

Despite all the hyperbole of the last few days, the federal authority of the president to act is much more limited than many appear to believe. Trump cannot, and should not, simply take over the crisis. While he may want to “open for business” by Easter, he has no clear authority to lift state orders for citizens to stay at home. His greatest authority is supplying assistance in the production and delivery of necessary resources such as ventilators. While he can put conditions on some assistance, he cannot commandeer the authority of governors in their responses to the pandemic.

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The virus will change the entire country. But people find it hard to comprehend. Wolf Richter doing well. “Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line”

Many Brick & Mortar Stores Will Not Reopen, CMBS will Default (WS)

Macy’s announced today that it would lay off “the majority” of its 123,000 employees after it had closed all its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury stores on March 18. Even before the lockdowns, its headcount was already down 17% from four years ago, in line with the decline of its brick-and-mortar operations. It said these stores would “remain closed until we have clear line of sight on when it is safe to reopen.” Whenever that may be. But “at least through May,” the furloughed employees who were already enrolled in its health benefits program “will continue to receive coverage with the company covering 100% of the premium.” And it said, “We expect to bring colleagues back on a staggered basis as business resumes.” That is, if business at these brick-and-mortar stores resumes.

Department stores have been on a 20-year downward spiral that has ended for many of them in bankruptcy court where they got dismembered and sold off in pieces. The survivors, which have been shuttering their brick-and-mortar stores for years, are now getting hit by the lockdowns. The chart depicts the brick-and-mortar business that Macy’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Bon-Ton Stores, Barney’s and others are in – or were in. Over the past 20 years, department store revenues declined by 43%. And now they’re getting whacked for good by the lockdowns. That declining line of revenues is going to make a 90-degree downward kink in Q1, Q2 and Q3, to violate the WOLF STREET beer-bug dictum that “Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line”:

As many brick-and-mortar stores have shut down, and as people are fearful about going to those stores that are still open (such as grocery stores), ecommerce sales have exploded. Americans have long been reluctant to buy groceries online. But that has changed overnight. Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers have gone on a hiring binge to deal with the onslaught of online buying, including the stuff people normally bought in grocery stores. Online retail is the huge winner of COVID-19. When the Q1 and Q2 ecommerce revenues emerge, we will see a historic spike in online sales even as brick-and-mortar sales went straight to heck.

Read more …

More from Wolf. Depression.

How Will COVID-19 Impact US Manufacturing? First Indications Are Ugly (WS)

Most of the economic data is released weeks and months after the fact. But surveys of manufacturing and service companies foreshadow what will happen with the official data when it finally appears. The Texas manufacturing production index, for which data was collected between March 17 to 25 from 110 Texas-based unnamed manufacturers, plunged from +16.4 in February to -35.3 in March, the largest month-to-month drop in the history of the index going back to 2004, the Dallas Fed reported this morning:

Many manufactures in Texas supply the oil and gas industry, where mayhem had broken out long before the coronavirus lockdowns started impacting the economy. Manufacturer’s perceptions of broader business conditions collapsed from an already low 1.2 reading in February to -70.0, the lowest in survey history. The report observed laconically: “Perceptions of broader business conditions turned quite pessimistic in March”:

The price of crude-oil grade West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has now plunged into the range of $20 per barrel, which is catastrophic for the entire oil and gas sector. This is down from a range of $80 to $110 per barrel from 2010 through mid-2014. In an effort to stay alive a little longer, exploration-and-production companies and oil-field services companies are cutting operations, and as they’re running out of funds, they are slashing orders for equipment and supplies. And this ripples through the Texas economy. The comments made by the executives in the survey ranged from: “We are mostly just concerned.” …to something more apocalyptic: “If we see this downward trend continue, we will run out of cash within four months. New orders and inquiries have stopped instantly. Our work in-house will be finished mid to end of April, with no new orders coming in, all due to this real or imagined shutdown. I believe the country will be in a depression by the fall unless the work environment changes dramatically.”

Read more …

Cruise companies lining up for bailouts. Support people instead. The companies go, but the people will remain.

“We Are Temporarily A Company With No Product And No Revenue” (WS)

TUI, the global travel and vacation giant that owns six European airlines, 1,600 travel agencies, over 300 hotels and 14 cruise ships, desperately needs help. And it appears to have got it. On Friday, the company announced that the German government had approved a €1.8 billion loan to help keep the group afloat as COVID-19 brings the global travel sector to a literal standstill. The bridge loan, which still needs to be approved by TUI’s creditors, would be one of the biggest ever issued through German state-owned lender KfW. “We are currently facing unprecedented international travel restrictions. As a result, we are temporarily a company with no product and no revenue. This situation must be bridged,” TUI CEO Fritz Joussen said in a statement. The same could be said for millions of companies around the world. But unlike TUI, many of them don’t have the ear of their national government.


Even as giant travel companies like TUI line up with airlines and cruise owners for multi-billion dollar bailouts, huge question marks loom over the global travel industry’s future. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in its updated assessment of the potential impact of COVID-19 — based on the optimistic assumption that the tourism industry will experience a swift recovery over the next 3-4 months — projects that for the whole year 2020, tourist arrivals will have fallen 20-30% from 2019, and international tourism revenues will have plunged by $300 billion to 450 billion, almost one third of the $1.5 trillion generated in 2019. Taking into account past market trends, this would mean that between five and seven years’ worth of accumulated industry growth will have been wiped out in one fell swoop.

Read more …

Why on earth does Airbnb need a $250 million war chest?

Airbnb To Pay Out $250 Million To Hosts To Help Ease Cancellation Pain (R.)

U.S. home rental firm Airbnb said on Monday it was allocating $250 million to help offset losses by hosts around the world whose guests have canceled bookings in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The aid, which will pay hosts 25% of their normal cancellation fees, is being offered globally except for China, the company said in a letter sent to hosts by Chief Executive Brian Chesky. The payments apply to the cancellation of reservations with check-in dates between March 14 and May 31. Because hosts can choose different cancellation policies – some requiring a penalty payment, with others allowing free cancellation up to a certain date before check-in – not all canceled reservations will qualify.


Airbnb had earlier announced that guests would receive a full refund for the cancellation of reservations made on or before March 14 for check-in between March 14 and April 14, which angered many hosts. Airbnb also said that hosts could cancel reservations without a charge. Airbnb said it is funding the program for hosts itself and will begin to issue the payments in April. Airbnb’s revenue in 2019 exceeded $4.8 billion, up 35% on the year, and it has $3 billion in cash, a source told Reuters last week. [..] Airbnb also said it is creating a $10 million relief fund for its Superhosts – so-named for meeting certain requirements including good ratings – who rent out their own home and need help paying their rent or mortgage, and some Experience hosts who charge for sharing an experience like food tours.

Read more …

Not much has changed. China still cares little about credibility.

China Says Manufacturing Activity Expanded In March (CNBC)

China on Tuesday said the official Purchasing Manager’s Index for March was 52.0, beating expectations for an economy hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the official PMI to come in at 45 for the month of March. In February, the official PMI hit a record low of 35.7. PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that level signal contraction. China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in its announcement of the PMI reading that there was continued improvement in the prevention and control of the outbreak in March, with a significant acceleration in the resumption of production. Sub-indices for production, new orders and employment expanded, the bureau said.


The bureau attributed the expansionary PMI reading to the low base in February, but cautioned that it does not mean that the country’s economic activities have returned to normal levels. Earlier this year, manufacturing activity slowed dramatically in China as the government instituted large-scale lockdowns and quarantines to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, formally known as COVID-19. Qian Wang, Asia Pacific chief economist at Vanguard Investment Strategy, said March’s manufacturing PMI reading was “totally expected” as activity improved during the month. “In February, the Chinese economy was at a full stop. It doesn’t take much to rise from such a low base,” she told CNBC’s “Street Signs.”

Read more …

The EU will have to throw out Hungary.

– State of emergency w/o time limit
– Rule by decree
– Parliament suspended
– No elections
– Spreading fake news + rumors: up to 5 yrs in prison
– Leaving quarantine: up to 8 yrs in prison

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán Wins Vote To Rule By Decree Indefinitely (Pol.)

The Hungarian parliament on Monday voted by a two-thirds majority to allow the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree without a set time limit. While the new legislation remains in place, no elections can be held and Orbán’s government will be able to suspend the enforcement of certain laws. Plus, individuals who publicize what are viewed as untrue or distorted facts — and which could interfere with the protection of the public, or could alarm or agitate a large number of people — now face several years in jail. In the vote, 137 members of parliament were in favor, 53 against and 9 did not cast a ballot. The new rules can only be lifted with another two-thirds vote of the parliament and a presidential signature.

The legislation has elicited deep concern both among civil rights groups in Hungary and international institutions, with officials from the Council of Europe, United Nations and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe publicly expressing fears about the bill. The legislation also drew criticism from members of the European Parliament. Critics say that emergency measures to address the coronavirus crisis should be temporary and time-limited to allow for checks and balances. Hungary is currently facing Article 7 proceedings under the EU Treaty, used when a country is considered at risk of breaching the bloc’s core values.

“Civil society, journalists and international and European organizations will have to step up their efforts even more in this new situation to ensure that the potential for grave abuses by government overreach are monitored, documented and responded to,” Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights NGO, said following the passage of the bill. “It’s now essential that the idea that executive power cannot be unlimited is reinforced by action,” she said. “The health crisis cannot be allowed to turn into a constitutional crisis.”

Read more …

To make sure they have access to health care.

The opposite of Orban.

Portugal Gives Migrants, Asylum-Seekers Full Citizenship Rights (CNN)

Portugal has temporarily given all migrants and asylum seekers full citizenship rights, granting them full access to the country’s healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus escalates in the country. The move will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” with applications pending with Portuguese immigration, meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, the Portuguese Council of Ministers said on Friday. The Portuguese Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken to “reduce the risks for public health” of maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, for both the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.


Portugal declared a State of Emergency on March 18 that came into effect at midnight that day and was due to last for 15 days. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said during a news conference that “democracy won’t be suspended.” The country was a dictatorship for decades, with democracy being restored in 1974. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the Covid-19 pandemic “a true war,” which would bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.” Rebelo de Sousa also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” reflecting “a country that has lived through everything.”

Read more …

Mass gatherings. Religious, soccer, carnival. That’s where most infections originate in Europe.

Five Days Of Worship That Set A Virus Time Bomb In France (R.)

From the stage of an evangelical superchurch, the leader of the gospel choir kicked off an evening of prayer and preaching: “We’re going to celebrate the Lord! Are you feeling the joy tonight?” “Yes!” shouted the hundreds gathered at the Christian Open Door church on Feb. 18. Some of them had travelled thousands of miles to take part in the week-long gathering in Mulhouse, a city of 100,000 on France’s borders with Germany and Switzerland. For many members of this globe-spanning flock, the annual celebration is the highpoint of the church calendar. This time, someone in the congregation was carrying the coronavirus. The prayer meeting kicked off the biggest cluster of COVID-19 in France – one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries – to date, local government said.

Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to it. Worshippers at the church have unwittingly taken the disease caused by the virus home to the West African state of Burkina Faso, to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, to Guyana in Latin America, to Switzerland, to a French nuclear power plant, and into the workshops of one of Europe’s biggest automakers. Weeks later, Germany partially closed its border with France, suspending a free-movement pact that has been in place for the past 25 years. The church cluster was a key factor, two people familiar with the German decision told Reuters. Church officials told Reuters that 17 members of the congregation have since died of complications linked to the disease.

[..] As the faithful gathered on a clear Tuesday evening in the church, an old shopping centre converted into a 2,500 seat auditorium, the disease seemed remote. France had 12 confirmed cases, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data. There were none in the Mulhouse area. France, like other governments in northern Europe, had imposed no restrictions on big meetings. There was no alcohol gel for the congregations to clean their hands, no elbow bumps instead of handshakes. “At the time, we viewed COVID as something that was far off,” said Jonathan Peterschmitt, son of the lead pastor and grandson of the church’s founder. His father, Samuel, was unavailable for an interview because he had been sickened by the virus, his son and a church spokeswoman said.

Read more …

“The world is still here. We’re just going to have to learn to live in it differently.”

People Get Ready! (Kunstler)

The cable news announced the other day that Covid-19 patients placed in critical care may have to be on ventilators for 21 days. Only a few years ago, I went in for an ordinary hip replacement. A month or so later, I got the hospital billing statement. One of the line-items went like this: Room and board: 36 hours…$23,482.79. I am not jiving you. That was just for the hospital bed and maybe four lousy hospital meals, not the surgery or the meds or anything else. All that was billed extra. Say, what…? Now imagine you have the stupendous good fortune to survive a Covid-19 infection after 21 days on a ventilator and go home. What is that billing statement going to look like? Will the survivors wish they’d never made out of the hospital alive?

Right now, we’re in the heroic phase of the battle against a modern age plague. The doctors, nurses, and their helpers are like the trembling soldiers in an amphibious landing craft churning toward the Normandy beach where the enemy is dug in and waiting for them, with sweaty fingers on their machine guns and a stink in the pillbox. Some of the doctors and nurses will go down in the battle. The fabled fog-of-war will conceal what is happening to the health care system itself, while the battle rages. After that, what? One thing will be pretty clear: That the folks in charge of things gave trillions of dollars to Wall Street while tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 survivors got wiped out financially with gargantuan medical bills.

Do you think the Chargemaster part of the hospital routine will just stop doing its thing during this emergency? The billings will continue – just as the proverbial beatings will continue until morale improves! In the aftermath, I can’t even imagine the ‘splainin’ that will entail. The rage may be too intense to even get to that. For some, it may be time to lubricate the guillotines? Meantime, of course, the global economy has shut down which suggests to me, anyway, that any prior frame of reference you may have had about money and business and social normality goes out the window. The world is still here. We’re just going to have to learn to live in it differently.

Read more …

“..the Netherlands will “no longer be a rich country in the North if the South falls.”

Italian Politicians Criticize Netherlands Over Lack Of Solidarity (NLT)

A group of 12 Italian politicians lambasted the Netherlands on Tuesday, angered by Dutch reticence to support European financial assistance to countries most affected by coronavirus. The Netherlands blocked emergency aid to EU member states, despite “using its tax system to withdraw tax revenue from major European countries for years,” they wrote in an open letter published in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. At issue are “coronabonds”, where the funds raised from selling such bond instruments would be used to help all member states overcome economic hurdles during the ongoing health crisis. The money could then be invested in supporting any EU member state, while repayment obligations would be the responsibility of the entire EU.

Nine nations supported the plan. “However, the Netherlands are currently leading a group of countries that oppose this strategy, and Germany also seems to want to follow this group,” the politicians said, accusing the Dutch tax regime of siphoning money away from other member states which would otherwise have allowed them to assist “the socially week… who are most affected by the crisis today.” The politicians, led by Member of Europea Parliament Carlo Calenda, called for the German public to recall the unified support it had to rebuild after World War II, up through the country’s reunification. “The Dutch attitude is an example of a lack of ethics and solidarity in every respect.”

That sentiment was echoed by the leader of Dutch political party ChristenUnie, one of the parties in the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “[Italy] is in ruins. The first message, in my opinion, would be: we are going to help you,” said Gert-Jan Segers. He also called for an approach like the U.S. Marshall Plan which promoted the reconstruction of European nations after the War. The large European rescue fund could be structured similarly to the billions of deutschmarks Germany needed even though it “could never have repaid the accumulated debts,” the Italians stated. Former Dutch Central Bank leader Nout Wellink was also critical of the Dutch approach, saying that the crisis and the debt needed to get past it is “a shared responsibility.” He said, “the Netherlands will “no longer be a rich country in the North if the South falls.”

Read more …

 

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Thanks everyone for your wonderful and generous donations over the past days.

 

 

 

 


Jennifer Baer

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for you.

 

Mar 302020
 


Hasui Kawase Mimhae Pavilion, Kyongju, Korea 1940

 

Earlier today in the March 30 Automatic Earth Debt Rattle aggregator I promised to come back to this. I wrote:

Dr. Fauci, Trump’s main medical/epidemic advisor, said yesterday that 200,000 Americans could die from COVID19. The same Fauci, as I quoted two days ago, recently changed his case fatality rate prediction from 1% to 0.1%. I had to let that sink in for a while, because if those 200,000 people represent that 0.1%, he now apparently believes that 200 million Americans could be infected with the coronavirus. The official number of infected Americans right now according to Worldometer is 142,735. The official death number is 2,489.

On top of that, Trump said, undoubtedly after conferring with Fauci among others, that the coronavirus peak in the USA is expected to take place in two weeks (Easter). You get where I’m going with this: how on earth are the numbers supposed to add up? In proven Trumpian fashion, Fauci did cover himself: “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.“ We’re going to have millions of cases, but don’t hold me to that…”


I think most people see these numbers flash by without realizing what they mean.

I found that remarkable not only because of the 200 million number implied, But also because Dr. Fauci had said a number of different, varying things off late. Here I am from the March 28 Debt Rattle:

Weird turnarounds: Fauci goes from a 1.0% CFR to 0.1% in 2 weeks, Neil Ferguson takes just 10 days to move from 500,000 [UK] deaths to under 20,000. Oh, and Deborah Brix claims the US have “..enough data now of the real experience with the coronavirus on the ground..” and, well, after all: “Models are [just] models”.


Now, she of course in fact merely has new models based on new data (so why diss models?), and it’s not nearly enough; re: testing. What Fauci and Ferguson hope to accomplish in risking their credibility with their sudden “moodswings” is unclear, but they’re not sufficiently supported by new data either. Not in that amount of time. Political pressure perhaps?

Dr. Fauci mentioned the 0.1% case fatality rate here on March 24:

Dr. Fauci: Coronavirus Death Rate Like Very Bad Flu

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, co-authored an article published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine predicting the fatality rate for the coronavirus will turn out to be like that of a “severe seasonal influenza.” In an exceptionally bad flu season, the case fatality rate is about one-tenth of 1 percent, the authors write. Regarding the current coronavirus pandemic, they said: “If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%.”

While the reference to Dr. Fauci talking about a 1% case fatality rate comes for instance from this, on March 4 (a view he didn’t correct until the March 24 piece above):

Fauci Says It’s Too Early To Determine US Death Rates From Coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Appropriations subcommittee in Congress on Wednesday [March 4] that it remains difficult to determine accurate mortality rates of the new coronavirus outbreak, given that we simply do not know yet how many have been infected with the disease. [..] amid the coronavirus outbreak, many representatives took the opportunity to grill Fauci on the latest developments.

“We don’t know the denominator,” Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., noted to Fauci when asking whether mortality rates are reliable. “You said it, sir,” Fauci responded [..] “If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities, in China, and you just do the math — the math is about 2%. If you look at certain age groups, certain risk groups, the fatality is much higher.”


[..] Amid continuing questions around the numbers, Harris asked Fauci about the accuracy numbers published by the WHO on Tuesday stating the death rate is 3.4% globally. [..] In the U.S., the administration is still working to ascertain the full number of Americans infected by the disease. The administration has been hamstrung by a slow rollout of testing, making it difficult to track. “I’m torn,” Fauci said. “If we get enough data to have a big [numerator] it’s gonna be bad news for us.” “You know as well as anybody that the mortality for seasonal flu is .1%,” he added. “So even if it goes down to 1%, it’s still 10 times more fatal.”

And then yesterday, the good doctor says the following:

Dr. Fauci Says 200,000 Americans Could Die From The Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday as smoldering hot spots in nursing homes and a growing list of stricken cities heightened the sense of dread across the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities on CNN, adding that millions in the U.S. could become infected. “I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” he said, correcting himself to say he meant deaths. “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.”

 


Graph by Mike Shedlock based on data from Covid Tracking Project. (Mind the scale)

 

What I find remarkable is that I haven’t seen a single reporter, TV, newspaper, add that up to the “200 million Americans infected” number. It’s a simple 2+2=4. If 200,000 people die with an 0.1% infection rate, total infections are 200 million.

Unless Dr. Fauci would now claim that either the 0.1% OR the 200,000 deaths claims or wrong. And I obviously know he also said ‘the pandemic is “such a moving target”’, But he should know he’s in the public eye, and adjust his claims to that fact. Besides, he just changed his claims.

Granted, I also wrote this morning:: “Wonder if he’s included the effects of a health care system collapse. Ironically, that might make his numbers more realistic.”, but that wouldn’t negate his claims.

And then of course you get the following, given that Dr. Fauci is the no. 1 medical/epidemic advisor to President Trump, or at least the most visible -with Dr. Deborah Brix:

Trump: Keeping US COVID-19 Deaths To 100,000 Would Be A ‘Very Good Job’

Donald Trump has extended America’s national shutdown for a month, bowing to public health experts, and scientific reality, and warning that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the US president claimed that, if his administration keeps the death toll to 100,000, it will have done “a very good job” – a startling shift from his optimistic predictions of a few days ago when he said he hoped to restart the economy by Easter.

It’s easy to slam Trump for these things, and part of that will be justified and well deserved, but Trump relies on his medical staff to a large extent, even if he deviates from what they say from time to time. If only because as you now know, his medical team change their opinions quite a bit. And he never “predicted” the economy would reopen by Easter, he merely said he hoped it would.

Moreover, in this case he’s right: if Dr. Fauci predicts 200,000 fatalities, limiting it to half that number would be a good thing. But more importantly, as Trump predicts a peak by Easter, after talking to Dr. Fauci, but we’re still 200,000 deaths minus 2,600 removed from Dr. Fauci’s “goal”, and 200 million cases minus 144,000, why don’t we read and hear about the gigantic numbers closely ahead of us in the press?

Perhaps you don’t have to be halfway at the peak, but you certainly must be quite a ways there. What would that mean for the next two week though? Dr.? And I know, Dr. Fauci said between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, but given the gap between today and either of those numbers, it hardly even seems to matter.

15 days to Easter to -only?!- get to 100,000 deaths means 6,667 deaths a day, or maybe a little less. Because otherwise you can’t credibly claim a peak. Your homework for the day: Color the pictures and finish the story.

 

 

In my view, it must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?

Thanks everyone for your wonderful and generous donations over the past few days.

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for you.

 

Mar 302020
 


L.S. Lowry The mill, Pendlebury 1943

 

Dr. Fauci Says 200,000 Americans Could Die From The Coronavirus (MW)
Trump: Keeping US COVID-19 Deaths To 100,000 Would Be A ‘Very Good Job’ (G.)
Coronavirus Patients In UK Intensive Care Have 50% Survival Rate (G.)
What We Still Need To Know (Stat)
FDA Gives Emergency Approval To Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine (Solomon)
FDA Greenlights COVID-19 Point-of-Care Test (Y!)
Trump In The Time Of COVID-19: Slashing Red Tape Again Like He Was 39 (JTN)
Italy Says Europe Needs ‘Great Marshall Plan’ To Battle Pandemic Crisis (RT)
Two Gene Tweaks That Turned COVID-19 Into A Killer (Age)
US Health Care Failed To Heed Repeated Warnings Of Supply Shortages (JTN)
Italians Wait For The Coronavirus Surge To Finally Peak (MW)
Six Months Before We Can Return To ‘Normal Life’ (Ind.)
DoJ Reviews Stock Trades By Lawmakers After Coronavirus Briefings (R.)
Forced Liquidation (Kunstler)
Astrophysicist Gets Magnets Stuck Up Nose While Inventing Virus Device (G.)

 

 

Something I’ll try to write a separate article about later today, but that I would like to leave you with for now: Dr. Fauci, Trump’s main medical/epidemic advisor, said yesterday that 200,000 Americans could die from COVID19. The same Fauci, as I quoted two days ago, recently changed his case fatality rate prediction from 1% to 0.1%.

I had to let that sink in for a while, because if those 200,000 people represent that 0.1%, he now apparently believes that 200 million Americans could be infected with the coronavirus. The offical number of infected Americans right now according to Worldometer is 142,735. The offical death number is 2,489.

On top of that, Trump said, undoubtedly after conferring with Fauci among others, that the coronavirus peak in the USA is expected to take place in two weeks (Easter). You get where I’m going with this: how on earth are the numbers supposed to add up? In proven Trumpian fashion, Fauci did cover himself: “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.“ We’re going to have millions of cases, but don’t hold me to that…

I think most people see these numbers flash by without realizing what they mean.

 

 

Cases 734,931 (+ 57,283 from yesterday’s 677,648)

Deaths 34,780 (+ 3,043 from yesterday’s 31,737)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 18% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info: (Note: Spain already has twice as many deaths as China, it will pass it in total cases too in a bit. Oh wait, it did as I wrote that)

 

 

 

 

Wonder if he’s included the effects of a health care system collapse. Ironically, that might make his numbers more realistic.

Dr. Fauci Says 200,000 Americans Could Die From The Coronavirus (MW)

The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday as smoldering hot spots in nursing homes and a growing list of stricken cities heightened the sense of dread across the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities on CNN, adding that millions in the U.S. could become infected. “I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” he said, correcting himself to say he meant deaths. “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.”


By evening, the U.S. had over 135,000 infections and 2,400 deaths, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unreported. Worldwide, more than 710,000 infections were reported, and deaths topped 33,000, half of them in Italy and Spain, where hospitals are swamped and the health system is at the breaking point. New York state — where the death toll closed in on 1,000, up by more than 200 from the day before — remained the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with the vast majority of the deaths in New York City. But spikes in infections were recorded around the country, not only in metropolitan areas but in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.


Graph by Mike Shedlock based on data from Covid Tracking Project.

Read more …

A shutdown, not a lockdown, extended to April 30.

Trump: Keeping US COVID-19 Deaths To 100,000 Would Be A ‘Very Good Job’ (G.)

Donald Trump has extended America’s national shutdown for a month, bowing to public health experts, and scientific reality, and warning that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the US president claimed that, if his administration keeps the death toll to 100,000, it will have done “a very good job” – a startling shift from his optimistic predictions of a few days ago when he said he hoped to restart the economy by Easter. Trump also undermined his plea for unity by uttering falsehoods, verbally abusing reporters and making incendiary allegations that implied health care workers were stealing masks, without providing evidence.

The extended deadline marked a humiliating retreat for the president who, having squandered six precious weeks at the start of the pandemic, more recently complained that the cure is worse than the problem and floated Easter Sunday as a “beautiful timeline” for reopening big swathes of the country. On Sunday he claimed this had only been “aspirational” as his advisers urged him not to move too hastily. He announced the initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government, which was due to expire on Monday, would be extended to 30 April, and said he hoped normality might return by 1 June.

The guidelines recommend against big group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay at home. People were also urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips. “The modelling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump told reporters, with the toll already at more than 2,400. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all.”

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This is scary. Very. Add that 50% to all the people who are not admitted to an ICU in the first place, because their survival chances are deemed too low.

Coronavirus Patients In UK Intensive Care Have 50% Survival Rate (G.)

The mortality rate for patients put in intensive care after being infected with Covid-19 is running at close to 50%, a report has revealed. Data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) showed that of 165 patients treated in critical care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the end of February, 79 died, while 86 survived and were discharged. The figures were taken from an audit of 775 people who have been or are in critical care with the disease, across 285 intensive care units. The remaining 610 patients continue to receive intensive care. The high death rate raises questions about how effective critical care will be in saving the lives of people struck down by the disease.

As a top priority, the NHS is opening field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester, which will incorporate some of the biggest critical care units ever seen in Britain. “The truth is that quite a lot of these individuals [in critical care] are going to die anyway and there is a fear that we are just ventilating them for the sake of it, for the sake of doing something for them, even though it won’t be effective. That’s a worry,” one doctor said. The report also found that though the majority of those who have died from coronavirus across the UK were over 70, nine of the 79 who died in intensive care were aged between 16 and 49, as were 28 of the 86 who survived.

The audit suggested that men are at much higher risk from the virus – seven in ten of all ICU patients were male, while 30% of men in critical care were under 60, compared to just 15% of women. Excess weight also appears to be a significant risk factor; over 70% of patients were overweight, obese or clinically obese on the body mass index scale. [..] The former health minister Dan Poulter, who works as a psychiatrist in wards with many cases of the virus, says widespread testing could be a “game-changer” that would prevent staff who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus from passing it on to patients in hospital for other reasons.

Widespread testing of those who are self-isolating with mild symptoms would also allow them to get back to work if they tested negative. Writing in the Observer, Poulter says: “NHS staff sickness levels are already high, and they are only going to increase as the Covid-19 outbreak intensifies. “Many of us are also worried that we may be infected, yet asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and therefore could be a potential risk to our patients, colleagues and families. That is the last thing that we would want, but we simply do not know.

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Long article, good snippet.

Asymptomatic, presymptomatic, paucisymptomatic, 40+% of cases is transmitted before symptoms develop. Much of this can be prevented if people wear masks, which should be worn to protect others, not -just- yourself. But that’s not what people are made to think they’re for. And anyway, where are the masks? There was a news item in Holland yesterday that 500,000 masks purchased from China and sent to hospitals had been returned because they were no good at all.

What We Still Need To Know (Stat)

When people have a disease that is only contagious once they start to get sick, it’s much easier to order them to isolate themselves the moment they feel unwell. But that doesn’t work with this virus. A number of studies have reported that a significant portion of people are even spreading the virus while presymptomatic — in the day or two before they start to feel ill. Presymptomatic spreaders are, well, gonna spread. It’s not their fault. (It’s also why safe physical distancing — the preferred term for what you’ve seen described as social distancing — is important. It reduces the risk of presymptomatic spread.) How much this type of transmission is driving the pandemic is unclear but it could be significant.

Gabriel Leung, dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, has estimated about 40% of cases transmit before symptoms develop. A recent preprint — a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed — from China pooled data from seven countries and estimated a very similar 43%. Unless public health authorities can find all — or at least most — cases and then quarantine the vast majority of their contacts, it’s hard to see how this kind of transmission can be stopped. Likewise, a big portion of cases, perhaps as many as 40%, have very mild symptoms. Some people who had no idea they were infected have tested positive. Italian authorities say 6% of people there who have tested positive had no symptoms and another 12% were — barely symptomatic. It’s still unclear, though, how often these people spread the virus to others.

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”..Sandoz and Bayer, had donated 31 million doses of the two medicines to the government’s emergency stockpile..”

FDA Gives Emergency Approval To Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine (Solomon)

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday gave doctors emergency permission to use the anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat the coronavirus. The agency’s action allows the medicines “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” according to a Department of Health and Human Services statement. “Although there are no currently approved treatments for COVID-19, both drugs have shown activity in laboratory studies against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).


Anecdotal reports suggest that these drugs may offer some benefit in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Clinical trials are needed to provide scientific evidence that these treatments are effective,” HHS said in making the announcement. Officials also announced that two drugmakers, Sandoz and Bayer, had donated 31 million doses of the two medicines to the government’s emergency stockpile to be used by doctors. Medical research dating to 2003 has suggested the two drugs might be helpful in fighting coronavirus symptoms, and President Trump as well as several foreign allies have promoted their use as a potential break-though. But the medical community never completed formal clinical trials, which only began in recent weeks and will take months to complete.

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See, when I read: “The time for a positive result is 5 minutes, and a negative result will return in 13 minutes”, I can’t help wondering what happens in the intervening 8 minutes. One long drumroll?

FDA Greenlights COVID-19 Point-of-Care Test (Y!)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use for a portable, fast, swab test for the coronavirus Friday which can provide results in less than 15 minutes. The IDNOW, from Abbott (ABT), is the first approved portable test and allows for an existing testing instrument used in 18,000 locations around the U.S.,to be used at a point-of-care in doctor’s offices, urgent care and hospitals. This same instrument is already used for flu and strep swabs. It also has the potential to be used at drive-thru tests, according to company officials.


Norman Moore, Abbott’s director of infectious diseases and scientific affairs, told Yahoo Finance that the device can also be used in parking-lot testing facilities currently being used by urgent care facilities. The device weighs 6.6 pounds and tests a swab taken from the nose or throat, using a cartridge made by Abbott. The time for a positive result is 5 minutes, and a negative result will return in 13 minutes. Abbott will be able to provide 50,000 tests by April 1 and will be able to provide 1 million per month of this test, Moore said. ‘The more we can test, the better we can isolate those that need to be isolated,” Moore said.

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Stephanie Gutmann in full-out praise of Trump. I just can’t help myself from poking the Orange Man Bad crowd.

On the other side of the Orange spectrum, you had Chuck Todd ask Joe Biden if Trump has blood on his hands. Even Biden wouldn’t touch that one.

Todd just makes sure America remains a house divided. Because that sells.

Trump In The Time Of COVID-19: Slashing Red Tape Again Like He Was 39 (JTN)

In Washington, leaders typically respond to crises by expanding federal power — drafting new laws and regulations, leaning heavily on federal muscle. The COVID-19 pandemic is revealing President Trump to be a different kind of animal, with instincts and alliances that were forged over years in the private sector, where initiatives tend to move faster and finding creative ways to save money is considered a bragging point. (After all, it is usually one’s own money.) If the president’s popular approval ratings are reaching new highs, it may be due in part to the Trump the public is seeing on display at the daily briefings of his Coronavirus Task Force. This Trump represents in many ways a return to form for the president, a rebirth of the hard-driving, can-do developer who famously slashed through red tape to restore New York’s iconic Wollman Skating Rink under budget and ahead of schedule 34 years ago.

The president has assembled a Coronavirus Task Force studded with federal agency heads like Dr. Stephen Hahn of the FDA, but their marching orders are clear. As National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed it in a Task Force briefing back on March 13: “We’re going to be able to remove the constraints so that people at the state and the local level — the individual physician all the way up through the federal government … [are able] to do everything they possibly can.” Indeed, the medical equipment shortage which has so panicked health care workers from the onset of the crisis often seems to be largely logistical. In other words, a lot of the ventilators and masks are out there — just in unexpected and formerly off-limits places.

With a more liberated FDA and CDC, there’s a whole lotta creative repurposing going on. Animal hospitals, for instance, are full of ventilators — and they are just like the kind humans use. “Many people on the human side don’t realize we use ventilators on animals,” a vet told ABC News. “They hadn’t even thought that that would be a place to look.” But on March 22, the FDA sent out omnibus emergency guidance on ventilators and other respiratory devices, which included permission for ventilators to be “used outside of traditional use.” News reports of veterinary hospitals shipping ventilators to human hospitals promptly began to proliferate. More ventilators (or ventilator-type machinery) may come from the anesthesiology department down the hall from the ICU.

It turns out that anesthesia gas machines — the kind that keep patients asleep during surgery — can be converted to supply oxygen to conscious patients. That use has now been approved by the FDA, qualified with a recommendation that they be operated or supervised by anesthesia providers “because of significant differences between the anesthesia gas machine and traditional critical care ventilators.” In guidance issued on March 2 the FDA opened up supplies of the coveted N95 face mask. “Why on God’s green earth can I go to Target and buy these items when so many hospitals are running out?” railed one doctor to the New York Times when he found a box of N95s in the construction supply section of an Illinois Walmart.

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Simple: Germany and Holland are keeping corona bonds from happening, southern Europe is getting angrier about that by the day.

Italy Says Europe Needs ‘Great Marshall Plan’ To Battle Pandemic Crisis (RT)

Italy’s economy minister has clashed with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen after she said that the EU is not planning to issue ‘corona bonds’ to help countries decimated by Covid-19. “The commission president’s words were a mistake and I regret that she made them,” Italian Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri told reporters at a news conference on Saturday, stressing that Europe needs “a great Marshall Plan” to keep its economy afloat. The historic Marshall Plan was a massive US-led economic aid package to rebuild Western Europe after the devastation of WWII. Italy proposed that Brussels issue so-called ‘corona bonds,’ a common debt instrument aimed at funding the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has made a significant dent in Europe’s economies by forcing businesses to shut down due to quarantine measures.

In an interview with DPA, von der Leyen did not rule out the idea of ‘corona bonds’ but said that they were “not the plan” the EU was working on. “The word corona bond is actually just a buzzword,” she said. The option was similarly dismissed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that creating ‘corona bonds’ was “not… the view of all EU countries.” Von der Leyen’s words raised some eyebrows not only in Rome but inside the European Parliament, whose leader David Sassoli immediately asked the European Commission chief to clarify her stance. Italy has been hit hardest by the coronavirus within the EU, with nearly 92,500 confirmed cases and over 10,000 deaths. On Saturday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte unveiled a €4.3 billion ($4.79 billion) stimulus package to help local authorities and regular citizens survive through the pandemic.

The ECB, in turn, pledged to spend €750 billion ($836.2 billion) in bond purchases. However, officials in Italy and Spain, which is the second-hardest hit EU nation, insisted that a more common approach is needed. “This is a crisis that is affecting all of the EU. We need to articulate a grand Marshall Plan of reconstruction,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last week, after the ECB plan was released.

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Long article returns to the bat/pangolin route. But still taking that as gospel today seems a bit out of sync.

Two Gene Tweaks That Turned COVID-19 Into A Killer (Age)

[..] CoV-2 wants to do two things: bind to a human cell and then get inside it. The virus binds to a cellular receptor – think of them as little antennae that stick off the side of human cells – called ACE2. ACE2 receptors are designed to listen for signals that change our blood pressure. Fine adjustments to blood pressure are really important in our lungs, so our lung cells are covered in ACE2 receptors. SARS was able to bind to ACE2. But small genetic changes mean CoV-2 binds almost perfectly, at least 10 times more tightly than SARS. “It’s beautifully adapted to do that,” says Holmes. But that’s not enough. Once CoV-2 is stuck on a cell, it needs to get in. That’s where the second tweak comes in.

CoV-2 is covered in spikes. They act like tiny harpoons. The virus needs to stick to the cell and then fire a harpoon. The harpoon pulls the surface of the cell and the virus together, allowing them to fuse. That’s how the virus gets inside. “But you don’t want the harpoon firing off randomly,” says Professor Stephen Turner, head of microbiology at Monash University. “You only want it to fire when it’s ready to infect the cell. If it’s going off too early or too late, the virus would not be able to infect us.” To trigger the harpoon at just the right time, viruses rely on human enzymes, little proteins in our blood. Some enzymes trigger the harpoon too early, others trigger it too late.

Among the best enzyme triggers – the one that fires the harpoon at exactly the right time – is an enzyme called furin. Our bodies produce heaps of furin. “Basically, you can work out if a virus is going to be highly pathogenic or not if it is activated by furin,” says Turner. Bird flu is triggered by furin. We got lucky, though, because it wasn’t very good at sticking to our cells. CoV-2 is great at sticking to our cells. And it’s triggered by furin, among the best triggers a virus can have. “The combination is what makes it so infectious,” says Turner. How does a bat virus pick up these tricks?

Bats live essentially symbiotic relationships with their viruses. The viruses don’t want to kill the bats, because then they’d have nowhere to live. When scientists test bats, they find lots of different viruses but at very low levels. “Often it’s really difficult to find a virus in a bat,” says Baker. And these viruses are, in evolutionary terms, very stable. They don’t change much. It is unlikely RaTG13 turned into SARS-CoV-2 within a bat, Baker says. But things change when a bat virus jumps to another animal.

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Health care for profit.

US Health Care Failed To Heed Repeated Warnings Of Supply Shortages (JTN)

As the Bush administration entered its final months in office, its Occupation Safety and Health Administration examined whether hospitals were prepared to protect frontline doctors and nurses in the event of a catastrophic viral pandemic. The nation was four years removed from the scare of the SARS coronavirus and two years removed from the creation of a national pandemic plan designed to heighten awareness and preparedness. What OSHA found was not only alarming, but prescient to the crisis America now endures in 2020. “It is expected that there will be a worldwide shortage of respirators if and when a pandemic occurs. Employers and employees should not count on obtaining any additional protective equipment not already purchased and stockpiled,” OSHA warned in a report.

OSHA’s warning to stockpile was not an isolated event. A Just the News review found more than a dozen government investigations, congressional reports and pandemic preparedness reviews dating to the 1990s warned that America’s health care system was woefully unprepared for a fast-moving outbreak. But the pleas of stockpiles, better training, better coordination and more testing of potential remedies fell on the deaf ears of policymakers, congressional overseers and hospital administrators and the chronic inertia in Washington, according to experts who raised the alarm.

“Hospitals were focused on their bottom lines to make more money and not addressing an issue that was going to cost them money in the long run and save lives,” said former Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., who called attention to the gaps in America’s pandemic preparedness with hearings. “Everyone knew from the White House to Congress – Democrats and Republicans – everyone knew this was becoming a very serious problem.” The tragic scenes playing out in emergency rooms in New York and elsewhere, where nurses are making gowns from garbage bags and doctors are washing used respirator masks in bleach in hopes of sterilizing and recycling them, did not have to be, as The New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo aptly noted a few days ago.

“The answer to why we’re running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies — the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the healthcare industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs,” the columnist wrote. The crisis sweeping America was not one of surprise. The warnings and plannings were repeatedly offered. The crisis is one of past inaction, the experts say.

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“In a few short weeks, everything has changed — people’s habits, their hobbies, their social life, their reality. School corridors lie empty. Paintings in art classes are left unfinished.”

Italians Wait For The Coronavirus Surge To Finally Peak (MW)

Our world has been turned outside in. It’s now almost six weeks since the university in Milan has been closed, and three weeks since the official lockdown was announced. We have daily music lessons in the bedroom, English lessons in the kitchen and high-school classes in the living room. As a language teacher, I have been literally run off my fingers. Moving courses online has been a mammoth task, and there have been barely enough hours in the day to get things done. But now, six weeks in, the workload is finally easing off. The number of coronavirus contagions here in Italy, on the other hand, is not. My area of Lombardy is still the worst affected, accounting for over a third of the 97,689 nationwide cases to date, with 969 deaths reported in just one day.

The peak we had been expecting two weeks ago has yet to arrive and, according to Silvio Brusaferro, Commissario Straordinario of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, warned Friday, “We have neither reached it, nor surpassed it.” There are the faintest glimmers of hope. The number of confirmed cases reached 97,689 on Sunday, up from 92,472 the day before. That was the lowest increase in infections since last Wednesday. The rise in the number of deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, slowed on Sunday for the second consecutive day. As of Sunday, the virus has killed 10,779 people in Italy, accounting for one-third of the worldwide total number of fatalities (33,968), and is more than three times the number of deaths from the virus in the U.S. (2,489).


“The measures that were due to expire on April 3 inevitably will be extended,” Regional affairs minister Francesco Boccia told Sky TG24 television on Sunday. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will ultimately make that decision, he said. People are, for the most part, resigned to the fact that they have to wait the lockdown out. Some people who have relatives who tested positive or are in high-risk groups are going into extended quarantine, so still having to rely on friends and family to replenish their supplies.

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Well, we can dream.

Six Months Before We Can Return To ‘Normal Life’ (Ind.)

Britain has been braced to expect a partial lockdown of society “for six months or longer”, following another sharp rise in the number of coronavirus deaths. Only “some” of the harsh restrictions will be lifted in the weeks to come, the deputy chief medical officer warned – even if a review after Easter judged they are working. “Three weeks for review, two or three months to see if we’ve really squashed it,” Dr Jenny Harries told a Downing Street press conference. “But three to six months, ideally – but lots of uncertainty in that – to see at which point we can actually get back to normal. And it is plausible it could go further than that.”

In a bleak message – on the day a further 209 deaths were announced, taking the UK total to 1,228 – the deputy chief medical officer warned it would be “dangerous” to revert to normal too quickly. “If we stop, then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak,” she urged the public to recognise. The comments came as Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said all parts of the UK were now on an “emergency footing”, a status unprecedented in peacetime. [..] Ms Harries said that, although the review would take place after Easter, it would then be two to three months before it was possible to judge if the NHS had “squashed the peak” of coronavirus cases.

“We anticipate our numbers will get worse over the next week, possibly two, and then we are looking to see whether we have managed to push that curve down and we start to see a decline,” she told the press conference. “This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but, as a nation, we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we’re all doing until we’re sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions.” That lifting would be “spaced, based on the science and our data, until we gradually come back to a normal way of living”.

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How was it again? They can’t be prosecuted while sitting?

DoJ Reviews Stock Trades By Lawmakers After Coronavirus Briefings (R.)

The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported on Sunday, citing two people familiar with the matter. The inquiry is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the report. The FBI has reached out to at least one lawmaker, U.S. Republican Senator Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades, CNN reported, citing one of the sources. Earlier this month, Burr said he relied solely on news reports to guide decisions on stock sales, amid reports he and other senators sold off shares after being briefed on the risks of the coronavirus crisis.

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“Perhaps the key is how long the ordinary folk agree to their orderly confinement..”

Forced Liquidation (Kunstler)

The world is locked down and in hock up to its eyeballs. It faces what the bankers euphemistically call, ahem, a “work-out,” which is to say, a restructuring. The folks in charge are resisting that work-out with all their might, because it will change many of the conditions of everyday life (especially theirs), but it is coming anyway. When debt can’t be paid back, money vanishes. Money isn’t capital, but it represents capital when it is functioning. When it isn’t functioning, it stops being money. Now the whole world realizes that the debt can’t be paid back, will never be paid back… and that’s the jig that’s up.

The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is the black hole in the financial universe where money goes to die. Money is rushing in there at a fantastic rate these days, and the Fed is trying to spew out new money at an equal rate to replace it – raising the question: is it even money anymore, or just a figment in the larger hallucination? Kind of seems that way, a little bit. They brought out their biggest money-launching bazookas only a few days ago, and it may only be few days more before that gigantic salvo proves inadequate. What then?

Perhaps the key is how long the ordinary folk agree to their orderly confinement, even in the face of the corona virus. That moment may be a bit further out, with the melodrama mounting especially in New York City right now, numbers of sick people going all hockey-stick, and frightful scenes in the hospitals. But then, whether it’s a week from now, or Easter Sunday, or sometime after that, what will the ordinary folk do when they decide en masse to de-confine and come roaring out in the streets?

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Hey, hey, there’ll be no shooting the messenger. I didn’t write this. Or do it.

Astrophysicist Gets Magnets Stuck Up Nose While Inventing Virus Device (G.)

An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak. Dr Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at Melbourne’s Swinburne University, was building a necklace that sounds an alarm on facial contact, when the mishap occurred on Thursday night. The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets. “I have some electronic equipment but really no experience or expertise in building circuits or things,” he told Guardian Australia.

“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face. A bit of boredom in isolation made me think of that.” However, the academic realised the electronic part he had did the opposite – and would only complete a circuit when there was no magnetic field present. “I accidentally invented a necklace that buzzes continuously unless you move your hand close to your face,” he said. “After scrapping that idea, I was still a bit bored, playing with the magnets. It’s the same logic as clipping pegs to your ears – I clipped them to my earlobes and then clipped them to my nostril and things went downhill pretty quickly when I clipped the magnets to my other nostril.”

Reardon said he placed two magnets inside his nostrils, and two on the outside. When he removed the magnets from the outside of his nose, the two inside stuck together. Unfortunately, the researcher then attempted to use his remaining magnets to remove them. “At this point, my partner who works at a hospital was laughing at me,” he said. “I was trying to pull them out but there is a ridge at the bottom of my nose you can’t get past. “After struggling for 20 minutes, I decided to Google the problem and found an article about an 11-year-old boy who had the same problem. The solution in that was more magnets. To put on the outside to offset the pull from the ones inside. “As I was pulling downwards to try and remove the magnets, they clipped on to each other and I lost my grip. And those two magnets ended up in my left nostril while the other one was in my right. At this point I ran out of magnets.”

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