May 292021
 


John Collier Lady Godiva c1897

 

National Horror Story Hour (Kunstler)
Chinese Scientists Created Covid-19 In A Wuhan Lab – Study (DM)
Fauci Backed Virus Experiments ‘Despite Pandemic Risk’ (Lauria)
Broken Parts Of COVID-19 Vaccines Mutate To Trigger Blood Clots (GGI)
European Regulators OK Pfizer Vaccine For Children 12-15 (AP)
For The Young: Choose Wisely (Denninger)
Oklahoma House Bans Mask Mandate, Vaccine Requirements in Schools (ET)
Georgia Bans Mask Mandates In Public Schools (JTN)
Employers Get Green Light To “Incentivize” Workers To Get Vaccinated (ZH)
The Fed Keeps Expanding Its Powers; That’s Making Some People Nervous (Cox)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Science.

National Horror Story Hour (Kunstler)

In the early going of the War on Covid-19, The Science told its soldiers, the doctors, to jam ventilators down patients’ throats. Whoops, that didn’t work so well. The Science told everybody to fuggeddabowt Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, Zinc, and Vitamin D. The Science told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to stash Covid-19 infected patients in nursing homes. The Science told everybody don’t bother with masks, then to definitely wear masks, then to maybe not wear masks, then to wear double masks, then to get vaccinated and wear masks. Golly, what to believe? Some people began to think that The Science was full of shit — which is, let’s face it, a dangerous thought, and something which, thank Gawd, Facebook, Twitter, and Google corrected for us.

One thing The Science remained adamant about for a whole year was that Covid-19 did not come from the Wuhan, China, Institute of Virology, where-and-to-which, it just happened, one of the US government’s Knights of The Science, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was funneling US taxpayer-funded grant money for the purpose of doing gain-of-function research on exotic bat corona viruses. Gosh, why would you even do that? (Doesn’t gain of function = make it more deadly?)

Supposedly to gain knowledge so that mankind will be prepared to fight the emergence of deadly bat viruses that somehow manage to sneak into the human population at some future date. These things can happen, you know. We’ve already tangled with bird flu and swine flu, so deadly bat flu could hardly be out of the question. Of course, one of the dangers, when you are playing with deadly respiratory viruses in a lab, is that lab workers might inhale a virus or two and become infected with a specimen that The Science has engineered to be especially troublesome… but that was very unlikely, maintained Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Science Advisor to the President.

Until this month when Dr. Fauci conceded to a Senate Committee that perhaps an investigation was warranted to find out if, perchance, Covid-19 escaped from the Wuhan lab — since, it turns out, the Wuhan lab was such a sloppy-ass operation that its level of safety was comparable to an ordinary dentist’s office. It also turns out, according to a Wall Street Journal report this week, that three Wuhan lab workers did indeed need to be hospitalized in November 2019, which was around the time the bug got loose among the civilians of Wuhan City, while Chinese tourists and workers were still winging around the world on airplanes by the tens of thousands — prompting one to wonder whether, also perchance, this was something that the CCP wanted to happen? ¿Quién sabe?

Now that “safe and effective” vaccines are available against Covid-19, The Science is urging everybody to take it, pronto, and the government is assisting in the distribution and deployment of vaccinations even to the very borderline of coercing citizens into it by turning the “vaccine hesitant” into social pariahs. No restaurant meals or ballgames for you Science-offending trolls! How’s that working? According to Dr. Fauci, and several other Knights of The Science, more than half of the people on their staffs got vaxed voluntarily. More than half! Now that’s a ringing vote of confidence in The Science!

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“..then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus..”

Chinese Scientists Created Covid-19 In A Wuhan Lab – Study (DM)

An explosive new study claims that Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats. The paper’s authors, British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen, wrote that they have had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year – but were ignored by academics and major journals. Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at St George’s University, London, and is best known for his breakthrough creating the first working ‘HIV vaccine’, to treat diagnosed patients and allow them to go off medication for months.

Sørensen, a virologist, is chair of pharmaceutical company, Immunor, which developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate called Biovacc-19. Dalgleish also has share options in the firm. The shocking allegations in the study include accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs, and it notes the silencing and disappearance of scientists in the communist country who spoke out. The journal article, exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com and slated for publication in the coming days, is set to make waves among the scientific community, as the majority of experts have until recently staunchly denied the origins of COVID-19 were anything other than a natural infection leaping from animals to humans.

While analyzing COVID-19 samples last year in an attempt to create a vaccine, Dalgleish and Sørensen discovered ‘unique fingerprints’ in the virus that they say could only have arisen from manipulation in a laboratory. They said they tried to publish their findings but were rejected by major scientific journals which were at the time resolute that the virus jumped naturally from bats or other animals to humans. Even when former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove spoke out publicly saying the scientists’ theory should be investigated, the idea was dismissed as ‘fake news.’

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“..in December 2017 Fauci unilaterally reversed an Obama administration 2014 ban on such experiments precisely because of the danger that a leak could cause a pandemic.”

Fauci Backed Virus Experiments ‘Despite Pandemic Risk’ (Lauria)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote in an academic paper nine years ago that he supported “gain-of-function” research on viruses despite admitting a “remote” possibility that such “important work” could lead to a global pandemic if such a fortified virus escaped from a lab, The Australian newspaper reported on Friday. In October 2012, Fauci wrote a paper for the American Society for Microbiology, in which he said: “In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic? Many ask reasonable questions: given the possibility of such a scenario – however remote – should the initial experiments have been performed and/or published in the first place, and what were the processes involved in this decision?

Scientists working in this field might say – as indeed I have said – that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks. It is more likely that a pandemic would occur in nature, and the need to stay ahead of such a threat is a primary reason for performing an experiment that might appear to be risky.” The newspaper’s revelation comes as President Joe Biden announced this week an investigation into whether the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)’s lab in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic first broke out. Fauci, who had dismissed that possibility and insisted the virus had natural transmission from another species to humans, on May 11 reversed himself, saying at a conference that he was “not convinced” of the coronavirus’ natural origins and said authorities needed to learn “exactly what happened.”

[..] in December 2017 Fauci unilaterally reversed an Obama administration 2014 ban on such experiments precisely because of the danger that a leak could cause a pandemic. The Australian quoted former Trump administration officials as saying that no one at the Trump White House knew that Fauci had lifted Obama’s ban. “It kind of just got rammed through,” one official told the newspaper. “I think there’s truth in the narrative that the (National Security Council) staff, the president, the White House chief-of-staff, those people were in the dark that he was switching back on the research.”

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“..parts of it break off and create mutated versions of themselves. The mutated versions then enter the body and trigger the blood clots.”

Broken Parts Of COVID-19 Vaccines Mutate To Trigger Blood Clots (GGI)

German scientists have found out how the broken parts of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines branded as Covishield in India mutate to trigger blood clots in recipients. Scientists say the vaccine is sent into the cell nucleus instead of surrounding fluid, where parts of it break off and create mutated versions of themselves. The mutated versions then enter the body and trigger the blood clots. Two vaccines, one manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca branded as Covishield in India and the other by Johnson & Johnson, have been linked to blood clotting disorders, particularly among women under the age of 50.


Earlier, German scientists found the exact 2 step process how the COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clots in recipients. They describe a series of events that has to happen in the body before the vaccines create these large clots. Now, researchers at Goethe-University of Frankfurt and Ulm University, in Helmholtz, have found the problem which they say lies in the adenovirus vector — a common cold virus used so both vaccines can enter the body. Scientists believe that in some people, the immune system sees the vaccine as a threat and over-produces antibodies to fight it. These lead to the formation of clumps in the blood, which can become deadly if the clots move towards vital organs and cut off supply.

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Bhakdi is clear: this is criminal.

European Regulators OK Pfizer Vaccine For Children 12-15 (AP)

The European Medicines Agency on Friday recommended that the use of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech be expanded to children ages 12 to 15, a decision that offers younger and less at-risk populations across the continent access to a Covid-19 shot for the first time. The vaccine was the first one granted authorization across the European Union when it was licensed for use in anyone 16 and over in December. So far, about 173 million doses of the shot have been administered in the 27-nation bloc, about three quarters of the total given. “Extending the protection of a safe and effective vaccine in this younger population is an important step forward in the fight against this pandemic,” said Marco Cavaleri, who heads the EMA body that reviewed the vaccine.

The EU regulator had received the necessary data to authorize the vaccine for younger teens and found it to be highly effective against infection, he said. In a study involving 2,000 adolescents in the United States, none of those who received the vaccine got Covid-19, compared with 16 in a control group who received a placebo, said Cavaleri. “The vaccine was well tolerated and the side effect in this age group were very much similar (to) what we’ve seen in young adults and not raising major concern at this point in time,” he added. The EMA decision needs to be rubber-stamped by the European Commission, and individual national regulators must decide whether the vaccine will be administered to children under 16.

The recommendation follows similar decisions by regulators in Canada and the US last month, as rich countries slowly approach their vaccination targets for adults and look to immunize as many people as possible. Researchers will continue to monitor the shot’s long-term protection and safety in the children for another two years.

Bhakdi

https://twitter.com/wakeupfromcovid/status/1398293941305450499

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“Isn’t the first question to be asked “how dangerous is it if I say no and get infected, assuming I haven’t been already?” It should be.”

For The Young: Choose Wisely (Denninger)

Most young people — healthy people under the age of 30 — have no symptoms of significance associated with getting infected with Covid-19. They either get a mild head cold that could be mistaken for anything else or no symptoms at all. Obviously, if you don’t know you are sick or think it’s allergies, asthma or whatever because you never run a fever or really are significantly ill you have no reason to get tested, no reason to believe you had it, and no doctor sees you. You do not show up in the data but you did indeed have Covid-19. Some young people get what seems like a flu and very, very few get really sick or die.

If you had Covid, whether you were tested positive or not, you are presumably protected. The science is that the minimum protection is about 84%. This is a minimum number because not everyone who got it and seroconverted silently was known. This study was among health-care workers who obviously have very high risk as they’re around actively sick people all the time, and they were tested regularly so many “silent” infections were caught, where yours probably wouldn’t have been. Further a recent study funded by Fauci’s NIH showed that most people pick up memory of the infection in their bone marrow (incidentally, getting people to volunteer for that had to be quite a trick; the operation to get the marrow to test is quite painful, which is why the size was very small) which means that protection from at least moderate disease is likely to last decades if not your entire remaining life.

In short there is no science that says you should take the shot if you’ve already had Covid. There are plenty of people saying that but they cannot point to any scientific study that shows you actually lose protection from prior infection any faster than you do from the shots themselves. This is why someone who had the measles does not take a measles shot; you’re presumably protected by fighting off the infection. But what if you haven’t had Covid-19? What do you decide if you’re in that 0-25 age group and someone is trying to demand you get the jab, or all your friends are doing it? Isn’t the first question to be asked “how dangerous is it if I say no and get infected, assuming I haven’t been already?” It should be.

mRNA and pregnancy

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How many people will end up still wearing masks and getting “vaccinated”?

Oklahoma House Bans Mask Mandate, Vaccine Requirements in Schools (ET)

The Oklahoma House has passed a bill banning mask mandates in public schools and requirements for students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The bill, SB 658, passed the state House by 76–18 and was sent to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on May 26. The state Senate had passed the bill by 38–8 a day earlier. “For the sake of children throughout the state, I’m glad this bill is one step closer to becoming law,” Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge said in a statement. “With this legislation, vaccine passports for Oklahoma students will not exist.” Standridge is also one of the authors of the bill. SB 658 would prohibit the boards of education of all public school districts and technology center school districts—including those of higher education—from requiring vaccination against COVID-19 as “a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution.”


It would also prevent vaccine passports or similar documentation from being required. Standridge explained during the session that the COVID-19 vaccine is different from other vaccines that are currently required, like those against diphtheria or tetanus, because it’s “still under emergency use authorization,” News9 reported. SB 658 further forbids implementing a mask mandate for students who haven’t received COVID-19 vaccines. Exceptions include when the governor declares an emergency or after the boards of education consult with their local county health department, but the mask mandate must be reconsidered at each regularly scheduled board meeting.

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State after state.

Georgia Bans Mask Mandates In Public Schools (JTN)

Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Friday that bans masks mandates inside Georgia public schools. The order also lifts most existing COVID-19 restrictions in the state. It blocks schools from implementing policies that would require students and staff to wear masks. Students and teachers still can wear masks if they choose, but they would be optional. “Georgians don’t need the government telling them what their children should do,” Kemp tweeted Thursday. Six Cobb County parents who sued the Cobb County School District over the district’s mask mandate have dropped the lawsuit in response to Kemp’s announcement.


Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had a public dispute last summer over Kemp’s order that restricted local governments from issuing face covering rules that were more restrictive than his. Kemp filed a lawsuit against Atlanta officials in July after the city enacted a face mask-wearing mandate when his executive order encouraged but did not require face coverings. Kemp later abandoned the lawsuit and issued an executive order that allowed certain local governments to issue the mandate. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported Friday the lowest COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. State records show 99 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. According to the state’s daily status report, 9.9% of the tests returned were positive Friday for COVID-19.

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Playing footsie with anti-discrimination laws.

Employers Get Green Light To “Incentivize” Workers To Get Vaccinated (ZH)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has just quietly given American companies the green light to to do whatever it takes to “incentivize” American workers to accept the coronavirus vaccine. As vaccinations continue to slow, and states beef up incentives including lotteries and cash prizes to any adults who agree to get vaccinated who haven’t already, the EEOC has just issued some long-awaited guidance on how far companies can go in pushing workers to be vaccinated. Some companies, including Delta Air Lines, have said they won’t hire anyone who hasn’t already been vaccinated. The updated guidelines say employers may offer incentives for employees to provide documentation showing they have been vaccinated since requesting this proof “is not a disability-related inquiry” or an “unlawful request” under federal anti-discrimination laws.

What’s more, companies who choose to offer the vaccine on-site, or who incentivize employees to get vaccinated elsewhere, can’t offer perks or punishments substantial enough to be “coercive”. The questions, which were by far the most important pieces of the new guidance, were tucked away at the bottom of the update, making the changes an easy thing for reporters to miss before a long holiday weekend.

K.16. Under the ADA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a vaccination on their own from a pharmacy, public health department, or other health care provider in the community? (5/28/21) Yes. Requesting documentation or other confirmation showing that an employee received a COVID-19 vaccination in the community is not a disability-related inquiry covered by the ADA. Therefore, an employer may offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of a vaccination received in the community. As noted elsewhere, the employer is required to keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.

K.17. Under the ADA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees for voluntarily receiving a vaccination administered by the employer or its agent? (5/28/21) Yes, if any incentive (which includes both rewards and penalties) is not so substantial as to be coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information. As explained in K.16., however, this incentive limitation does not apply if an employer offers an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a COVID-19 vaccination on their own from a third-party provider that is not their employer or an agent of their employer.

Employers including Dollar General, Aldi and Instacart have already moved to reward their employees for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine by offering paid time off and cash stipends. And in April, President Joe Biden called on every employer to offer paid time off for workers to recover from potential vaccine side effects.

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But independent it is not.

The Fed Keeps Expanding Its Powers; That’s Making Some People Nervous (Cox)

Bernanke’s successor, Janet Yellen, worked closely with Geithner. Yellen’s successor and current Chairman Jerome Powell had a tight relationship with former President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Now, the dynamic has gotten even more intense. Powell and Yellen, who worked together on the Fed for nearly six years, now run the Fed and Treasury respectively. That’s never happened before, and it’s what has some on the Street nervous that the Fed may be tasked with implementing the White House’s economic program. The Fed has long been considered immune to outside pressures, free to move interest rates and otherwise implement policy in the way it deems most appropriate, outside of political concerns. The fear is that the Powell-Yellen dynamic could change that.

“You have the current Treasury secretary who was the boss of the current Fed chairman not so long ago. There’s obviously a very close relationship there,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. “They’re still in lockstep. They’re espousing very similar philosophies that go beyond tradition.” Indeed, there’s not much difference between where Powell and Yellen stand on most matters germane to their respective roles. Powell has committed to keep interest rates low until the economy is farther along on the road to recovery, and Yellen has remarked on the pivotal role low rates play so the Biden administration can finance the trillions in spending that it wants. Yellen has been a leading advocate for that muscular fiscal policy, and Powell has said there are economic problems that low interest rates and money printing can’t solve.

But it’s their positions on social issues that have drawn much of the negative attention. The Fed has in the past several months stressed the importance of banks’ planning for climate change-related events. The central bank’s leading advocate for that cause has been Governor Lael Brainard, a close Yellen ally when they served on the Fed together. Along with that, Yellen has been outspoken on the importance of spreading economic benefits evenly at a time when the lowest earners have suffered the worst during the pandemic-era shutdowns. At the same time, the Fed last August changed its mission statement to say it is no longer focused merely on maximizing employment but now has a “a broad-based and inclusive goal” that goes to disparities in how gains are distributed.

“You certainly see some things that at a minimum are very different than how we’ve run things in the past, and it very much gets to the heart of independence in the Fed from overwhelming political influence,” Leuthold’s Paulsen said. “The most egregious departure from the past is the adoption by the Federal Reserve of several which I think many people would consider political goals or a political agenda of the current administration,” he continued. “They’re suddenly going far beyond a macro backstop for the cyclical economy to very much micro-oriented policy implementation.”

Read more …

 

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Apr 152020
 


Harris&Ewing National Press Club Building newssstand, Washington DC 1940

 

First, The People Die; Then, The Stories (Rusty Guinn)
Trump Announces ‘Halt’ In US Funding To WHO Amid Pandemic (USAT)
WHO Urges China To Close ‘Dangerous’ Wet Market As Stalls In Wuhan Reopen (Ind.)
COVID19 Twice As Contagious As Previously Thought – Los Alamos Lab (SCMP)
New Coronavirus Outbreak Hotspots Emerging Across US (SCMP)
Universal Screening for COVID19 in NY Women Admitted for Delivery (NEJM)
New Zealand PM, Ministers Take 20% Pay Cut For Six Months (R.)
Chinese Study Suggests Airco Helps Spread Coronavirus (SCMP)
The Next Stage Must Be To Let The Virus Spread (AFR)
California Meat Factory Workers Strike For Right To Be Tested (CN)
California Governor Newsom Says Mass Gatherings Unlikely Through Summer (R.)
South Korea Holds Parliamentary Election Under Strict Safety Measures (R.)
UK Government Loans Not Reaching Businesses (Sky)
US Military Says Coronavirus Likely Occurred Naturally But Not Certain (R.)
Iraq Suspends Reuters For Three Months Over Report On Coronavirus Cases (R.)
Trump Oil Deal Raises Question For Mexico: At What Cost? (R.)
GOP Senator Aims To Release Hunter Biden Investigation Report This Summer (NYP)

 

 

• Past day: U.S. reports 26,540 new cases of coronavirus and 2,384 new deaths.
– Yesterday it had 27,243 new cases and 1,555 new deaths.
– Total: 608,458 cases and 25,992 deaths.

• New York adds over 3,700 deaths, of people who were never tested but are now presumed to have died from corona. Similar ‘recounts’ occur in multiple countries

• Coronavirus update, Americas:
– USA: 26,540 new cases
– Brazil: 1,509 new cases
– Canada: 1,383 new cases
– Peru: 519 new cases
– Chile: 392 new cases
– Mexico: 385 new cases
– Colombia: 127 new cases
– Dom Rep: 119 new cases
– Panama: 102 new cases
– Ecuador: 74 new cases

 

 

Cases 2,014,000 (+ 79,872 from yesterday’s 1,934,128)

Deaths 127,592 (+ 7,155 from yesterday’s 120,437)

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live: (Note: this indicates 6090 new US deaths, that can’t be true)

 

 

 

 

On Ben Hunt’s Epsilon Theory website, Rusty Guinn does an very extensive overview of who failed where: WHO, FDA, CDC, Universities, Media, Boards, Wall Street, Congress, Donald Trump.

There goes your afternoon.

First, The People Die; Then, The Stories (Rusty Guinn)

The first World War was bloody and vicious. By its end, it had taken the lives of more than 20 million people. That number a few times over perished in the Spanish Flu that followed in its wake. It is a story that has been retold a lot lately. There were other casualties of the Great War, too. The narratives of a protective ruling class across Europe. Fervent embrace of trade and economic models based on colonialism and imperialism. Oligarchies and monarchies, yes, but belief in the capacity of oligarchies and monarchies to act benevolently and competently in the defense of the people, too. First, the people die; then, the stories.

The human toll of COVID-19 is unlikely to approach even a mean fraction of the pain visited on humanity in the first quarter of the 20th century. But what about the stories we tell about our global institutions, our shared values, and our own orthodoxies and authorities? Those stories are dying. They are dying because the institutions built on those stories failed us all, and all at once. First, the people die; then, the stories. The failures of these institutions were not simple mistakes, evidence of wrongness of one kind or another. The failures of these institutions were failures of narrative, devastating revelations of each institution’s fundamental inability to do what they said they would do. Revelations that their purpose was something other than the story they told about themselves.

In various ways they each held power over us through those stories, told using the language of our needs and values and beliefs. In a single event, the world proved those stories false on their faces. Whether we allow the world-as-it-is that was revealed by COVID-19 to change our commitment to these institutions and ideas is up to us; this is a time in which the world may be reshaped. In the past month and for the first time in most of our lives, each of us looked around and knew that everyone else had seen the same thing. We saw the emperors of our world standing naked as the day they were born. If the ravages of war and disease are humanity’s birthright, so too is the opportunity that comes along ever so rarely to seize something different. Something better.

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I found it hard to find coverage of this that did not immediatedly and extensively point to Trump’s own failings. But whatever those may be, they say little to nothing about the WHO’s failings. Can’t we keep these issues separate anymore?

Trump Announces ‘Halt’ In US Funding To WHO Amid Pandemic (USAT)

President Donald Trump said Tuesday his administration will “halt” U.S. funding to the World Health Organization as it conducts a review of the global organization’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “We have deep concerns about whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” the president said in a Rose Garden press conference. “The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.” Trump has accused the organization of not moving quickly enough to sound the alarm over COVID-19 and of being too China friendly. He has attacked the agency for advising the U.S. against banning travel from China to other parts of the world amid the outbreak.

“And the World – WHO – World Health got it wrong,” the president told reporters at the White House last week. “I mean, they got it very wrong. In many ways, they were wrong. They also minimized the threat very strongly and – not good.” Trump has previously said he was considering cutting WHO funding, but on Tuesday he accused the organization of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread of the coronavirus after the initial outbreak in Wuhan,China. The U.S. paid $893 million to the WHO during its two-year budget window, according to the organization’s website. That money represents about 15% of the WHO’s budget. Established in 1948, the WHO is an autonomous organization that works with the United Nations and is considered part of the U.N. system.

During Tuesday’s briefing, the president asked whether it was appropriate to freeze WHO’s funding in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed more than 125,000 lives worldwide with over 2 million cases confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins University data. “This is an evaluation period, but in the meantime, we’re putting a hold on all funds going to World Health,” Trump said. Trump said the review would last between 60 and 90 days. He said the administration would “channel” the money into other areas to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but declined to provide any specifics.

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What have they said about this since December, or in the past 10 years, for that matter?

WHO Urges China To Close ‘Dangerous’ Wet Market As Stalls In Wuhan Reopen (Ind.)

The World Health Organisation is urging countries across the world to close “dangerous” wet markets amid warnings about the risks posed by environments where humans are in close contact with animals. Wet markets in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged, have begun to reopen following the lifting of lockdown restrictions. This move comes despite the virus being linked to the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. But WHO, as well as other public health organisations and campaigners, have said the markets pose a “real danger” as pathogens can spread easily and quickly from animals to humans. Dr David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy on Covid-19 and special representative of the United Nations secretary general for food security and nutrition, said the world health body “pleads with governments and just about everybody” to be respectful of how viruses from the animal kingdom are rife.


Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Nabarro said while WHO is not able to tell governments what to do, their advice is to close wet markets. He replied: “You know how WHO and other parts of the international system work – we don’t have the capacity to police the world. Instead, what we have to do is offer advice and guidance, and there’s very clear advice from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and WHO that said there are real dangers in these kinds of environments. “75 per cent of emerging infections come from the animal kingdom. It’s partly the markets, but it’s also other places where humans and animals are in close contact. Just make absolutely certain that you’re not creating opportunities for viral spread,” added Dr Nabarro.

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To add to the long list of what is still not known about the virus. Epidemiology may not be very useful at this point.

COVID19 Twice As Contagious As Previously Thought – Los Alamos Lab (SCMP)

The new coronavirus could have been twice as contagious as previously thought when it spread from its initial epicentre in central China, a fresh look at the early stages of the outbreak has suggested. Epidemiologists had previously estimated that each person with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, infected two to three people on average, based on early cases in the city of Wuhan. But researchers in the United States have said that the chaos in Wuhan as infections there rose at the start of the year may have produced incomplete data and a distorted picture. The new estimation by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is that those who carried the coronavirus in Wuhan were passing it on to 5.7 people on average. The finding could help public health experts to refine their containment and vaccination strategies.

In their study, published last week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, the researchers, led by Steven Sanche and Lin Yen-ting, wrote: “Unavailability of diagnostic reagents early in the outbreak, changes in surveillance intensity and case definitions, and overwhelmed health care systems confound estimates of the growth of the outbreak based on data.” The Los Alamos research analysed about 140 early patients outside Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, to project how intensely the coronavirus was spreading from the epicentre. Most of the initial cases in other provinces had epidemiological links or exposure to Wuhan. “By the time cases were confirmed in provinces outside Hubei, all of the provinces of China had access to diagnostic kits and were engaging in active surveillance of travellers out of Wuhan,” the researchers said.

“The health care systems outside Hubei were not yet overwhelmed with cases and were actively searching for [their] first positive case, leading to much lower bias in the reporting.” Many provinces’ health commission or local Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would also release basic epidemiological information on how each patient could have been related to another, or where they had shared exposure. The US researchers also used mobile phone data to estimate the numbers of daily travellers in and out of Wuhan. Their projection was then compared back with the death rate pattern in Wuhan, which was more clearly defined and consistent than the city’s other data on the outbreak. They found that instead of taking six to seven days for the number of infected people to double, as was previously thought, it took only 2.3 to 3.3 days to do so.

[..] In late January, researchers from mainland China and Hong Kong, including China CDC chief George Gao, had estimated that a Covid-19 patient could infect an average of 2.2 people, based on studying 425 patients in Wuhan. A more recent estimate of this reproduction number, by Imperial College London last month, found the figure for 11 European countries including Britain to be 3.87 people. Also last month, research at Payame Noor University in Tehran, which was subject to peer review, found that an average of 4.86 people could be infected per patient in the first week of the outbreak in Iran.

[..] The authors of the new Los Alamos study added that a higher level of infectiousness meant that if asymptomatic carriers accounted for a substantial proportion of transmission, then quarantine and tracing of contacts of those showing symptoms would not be enough to halt the virus’ spread. “When 20 per cent of transmission is driven by unidentified infected persons, high levels of social distancing efforts will be needed to contain the virus,” they said. “The decline in newly confirmed cases in [mainland] China and South Korea in March 2020 and the stably low incidences in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, strongly suggest that the spread of the virus can be contained with early and appropriate measures.”

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Reached a peak? I doubt it.

New Coronavirus Outbreak Hotspots Emerging Across US (SCMP)

As infection rates begin to level out in New York and California finds success in flattening the curve, other states across the US are starting to reel as their coronavirus numbers spike in communities large and small. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned three weeks ago that his state was “the canary in the coal mine” presaging outbreaks around the country, and some now fear the worst is only starting to come. According to The New York Times, while half of the 10 US counties with the highest amount of coronavirus infections per residents remain in New York, the second highest per capita infection rate is in Blaine County, Idaho, in the intermountain West.

Home to fewer than 22,000 people, the county is best known for the Sun Valley ski resort, which draw a steady stream of skiers, outdoor recreation enthusiasts and owners of second homes from across the country – and is now making headlines for a coronavirus infection rate that is one of the highest in the world. In fact, as of Tuesday one of the largest single coronavirus clusters in the country was in the sparsely populated Great Plains state of South Dakota, where more than 300 workers at a giant pork-processing plant in Sioux Falls became sick with the virus over the weekend. While the total number of cases can seem more alarming in larger cities, for smaller towns the virus can be especially devastating both to their already overtaxed health care systems and fragile local economies.

Many smaller towns are kept afloat by only a few major employers, and when they close the effects can be catastrophic. In the south, Louisiana has been especially hard-hit, with Orleans Parish, home to New Orleans, battling the eighth largest degree of infection in the nation. Three relatively rural counties in Georgia make up the rest of the top 10 counties list — a clear reminder that not only large urban areas are at risk. While there is evidence that the rate of new cases and deaths is flattening out in Louisiana, the reality on the ground remains daunting. On Tuesday, the state health department reported 884 deaths and 21,016 positive cases across the state, with the virus now present in every one of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

New Orleans alone has had 5,718 cases, and 244 deaths — with the contagion thought to have initially spread during the city’s Mardi Gras celebration in late February. Georgia, too, is reeling, with 14,223 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 501 deaths, with most of the deaths, 71, coming from Dougherty County, which has fewer than 100,000 people.


‘Welcome to Wuhan’ is spray-painted on a bridge in Highland Park, Michigan. Photo- AP

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Infected pregnant women is a scary idea. “Maybe third trimester immunosuppression has a role to play.”

Universal Screening for COVID19 in NY Women Admitted for Delivery (NEJM)

Between March 22 and April 4, 2020, a total of 215 pregnant women delivered infants at the New York–Presbyterian Allen Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center . All the women were screened on admission for symptoms of Covid-19. Four women (1.9%) had fever or other symptoms of Covid-19 on admission, and all 4 women tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Of the 211 women without symptoms, all were afebrile on admission. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from 210 of the 211 women (99.5%) who did not have symptoms of Covid-19; of these women, 29 (13.7%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Thus, 29 of the 33 patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 at admission (87.9%) had no symptoms of Covid-19 at presentation.

Of the 29 women who had been asymptomatic but who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 on admission, fever developed in 3 (10%) before postpartum discharge (median length of stay, 2 days). Two of these patients received antibiotics for presumed endomyometritis (although 1 patient did not have localizing symptoms), and 1 patient was presumed to be febrile due to Covid-19 and received supportive care. One patient with a swab that was negative for SARS-CoV-2 on admission became symptomatic postpartum; repeat SARS-CoV-2 testing 3 days after the initial test was positive.


Our use of universal SARS-CoV-2 testing in all pregnant patients presenting for delivery revealed that at this point in the pandemic in New York City, most of the patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 at delivery were asymptomatic, and more than one of eight asymptomatic patients who were admitted to the labor and delivery unit were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Although this prevalence has limited generalizability to geographic regions with lower rates of infection, it underscores the risk of Covid-19 among asymptomatic obstetrical patients. Moreover, the true prevalence of infection may be underreported because of false negative results of tests to detect SARS-CoV-2.

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Commendable, but in reality this is what every government should do, and 20% is not so much.

New Zealand PM, Ministers Take 20% Pay Cut For Six Months (R.)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ministers in her government and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months amid the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. New Zealand’s offices, schools and non-essential services have been closed for the last three weeks, and economic activity is at a standstill as the country undertakes one of the strictest lockdowns globally. The government has forecast joblessness to surge because of the global and domestic slowdown.


“This is where we can take action and that is why we have,” Ardern said in a news conference announcing the decision. “We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsides, taking a pay cut, and losing their jobs as a result of the global pandemic,” she added. New Zealand on Wednesday recorded 20 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 1,386. It has recorded nine deaths so far.

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Let summer begin!

Chinese Study Suggests Airco Helps Spread Coronavirus (SCMP)

A study of 10 coronavirus cases from three families who dined at the same restaurant in southern China has suggested that air conditioning aided droplet transmission between them. “Strong airflow from the air conditioner could have propagated droplets” between three tables, according to the report of the research, based on the infections in the city of Guangzhou in late January. Droplet transmission alone could not explain the infections, it concluded. Restaurants should increase the space between tables and improve ventilation to reduce the risk of infection, according to the report of the research, led by Jianyun Lu of the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research is revealed in an early-release article for the July edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the open-access and peer-reviewed journal published by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States. Family clusters of infections have helped the spread of a pandemic in which the world’s total cases are approaching 2 million and the death toll has passed 120,000. The first patient of the 10 cases studied in Guangzhou had on January 23 returned from Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first reported in December. The person had lunch with three family members the next day at a windowless restaurant with an air conditioner on each floor. Two other families sat at neighbouring tables, with about one metre between each and an overlap in dining time of about an hour, the report said.

The first patient had a fever and cough later that day and went to hospital. Within two weeks, four further members of their family, three members of the second family and two of the third family had become ill with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. After detailed investigation, it was found that the only known source of exposure for the second and third families was the first patient in the restaurant. “From our examination of the potential routes of transmission, we concluded that the most likely cause of this outbreak was droplet transmission,” the report said. “We conclude that in this outbreak, droplet transmission was prompted by air-conditioned ventilation. The key factor for infection was the direction of the airflow.”

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The idiot who wrote the next article should be quarantined without any means of communication. Whenever you read about a cost-benefit analysis of the virus, stop reading. Luckily, this tweet has the right approach to this:

The Next Stage Must Be To Let The Virus Spread (AFR)

Last week, the government released the modelling it uses to inform its pandemic response. It appeared reticent; in press conferences, the government was keen to stress its limitations, its use of overseas assumptions and so on, as if to say: “We are not relying on models to decide what to do”. It should not have been. Disease modelling is one of the best tools we have for shaping our pandemic response. The government’s modelling is sound. It aligned closely with ours (I would hope so); we predict 32,000 daily ICU admissions at the peak if we do nothing, the government predicts 35,000. It presents a coherent picture of why we are “flattening the curve” and strong justification for what is being done today.

Australia is containing COVID-19 for now but needs to move on to the next phase. That requires an understanding of the costs and benefits of different social distancing measures and how best to change them as the pandemic proceeds. Our modelling sheds light on both, pointing to faster rather than slower relaxation. I was struck by the announcement that governments are expanding ICU capacity three-fold to 7000 beds. It is worth exploring the implications. Assuming patients admitted to ICU need eight days of treatment, 25 per cent of patients admitted to ICU will die, and that the case fatality rate for COVID-19 with treatment is about 0.5 per cent, it looks like governments are preparing for a peak of around 44,000 new infections a day, much higher than the number today.

I am encouraged by this. It signals that governments are contemplating a managed increase in the spread of the disease. As I said in The Australian Financial Review last week, in the absence of a vaccine or a cure, the best policy involves a managed increase in spread so that some degree of herd immunity develops, seeking to protect those most at risk while it does. How might we achieve this? One policy that is unlikely to work is to try to prevent every death. Why not? Because to do so we would need to eliminate infections entirely. That can only be done with severe and prolonged social distancing at prodigious economic cost (2 per cent of GDP per month for at least 10 months, at least $400 billion).

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What it really means to be an essential worker.

California Meat Factory Workers Strike For Right To Be Tested (CN)

Dozens of One World Beef employees lined up in front of Valley Urgent Care to get tested for coronavirus Monday. Many of them participated in a strike that led to their employer granting this test to even occur. The employees say they decided to strike after some began getting sick and sanitary precautions weren’t being taken. Karicia Aguilar’s husband works for the company and said that their main fear was that her husband would contract the virus and spread it to their family. “My husband told me about a young man, who was his neighbor at the lockers who right now is on a ventilator. And so that situation really scared them and they realized they had to do something. They thought we could be taking the virus to our home and our families could get sick,” she said.


Some employees say they were told by HR if they did test positive they would be able to keep their jobs however the time off they took would be discounted from vacation and sick days. “We’re scared for our families. Our families are quarantined in our homes and we’re here working. And we’re in and out of the house. The one thing I hope is we still have a job. We work hard and we care about our job but we’re also concerned about our health,” said one factory worker. The fear of waking up every morning for work and not knowing whether or not you will contract the virus is a reality for many essential workers.

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A new world has arrived.

California Governor Newsom Says Mass Gatherings Unlikely Through Summer (R.)

Mass gatherings of hundreds or thousands of people will likely be banned in California at least through summer, as the state plots reopening its economy and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic despite a spike in deaths, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday. Incremental steps to loosen stay-at-home orders could begin after “a few weeks” of evidence that the rates of infection and hospitalization from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are decreasing, Newsom told a news conference in the state capital, Sacramento. But he warned that socialization in the most-populous U.S. state would look very different for a long time even after the rules are eased.


“You may have dinner where the waiter is wearing gloves and maybe a face mask, where menus may be disposable, where your temperature is checked as you walk into the restaurant.” School start times may be staggered so children are not crowded together, and lunch and physical education periods may also change. Restaurants will likely have fewer tables – and forget about big celebrations for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. “The prospect of mass gatherings,” Newsom said, “is negligible at best.”

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Massive testing campaign equals 1% of people?!

South Korea Holds Parliamentary Election Under Strict Safety Measures (R.)

South Koreans began going to the polls on Wednesday to elect members of parliament under strict safety guidance in one of the first national elections held amid the coronavirus pandemic. About 14,000 polling stations were open at 6 a.m. (0900 GMT) around the country after disinfection, and voters were required to wear a mask and have a temperature check upon arrival. Anyone whose temperature was higher than 37.5 Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) was led to a special booth. All voters must use hand sanitizer and plastic gloves when casting ballots and maintain 1 meter (40 inches) distance between each other.


The election is set to decide control of parliament and shape President Moon Jae-in’s ability to push through his agenda in the final two years of his administration, including looser fiscal policy aimed at creating jobs, raising the minimum wage, and continued re-engagement with North Korea. Globally, South Korea was one of the first countries to hold a national election since the coronavirus epidemic began, while many others postponed votes. Once grappling with the first large outbreak outside China, South Korea has largely managed to bring its cases under control without major disruptions thanks to a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 27 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total infections to 10,564. The daily tally has hovered around 30 over the past week, most of them from overseas travelers.


Media members cover inside a polling station for upcoming parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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I’m stunned. Stunned, I tell you.

“Just 2% of the businesses questioned said they had successfully accessed the government’s loan scheme..”

UK Government Loans Not Reaching Businesses (Sky)

Around one in three British businesses have furloughed at least 75% of their workforce due to the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey. The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) found that two-thirds of businesses it spoke to said they had to put some staff on the furlough scheme, which covers 80% of salaries up to £2,500 a month. But just 2% of the businesses questioned said they had successfully accessed the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the BCC said many need cash, quickly. It comes after the chancellor’s announcement in the Downing Street briefing on Tuesday that we are in “tough times” economically and that he “can’t protect every business and every household” throughout the pandemic.


Speaking to Sky News, the BCC’s Co-Executive Director Hannah Essex said: “If businesses don’t have the money in their accounts they’re going to have to look at all of their costs and make some really difficult decisions. “One of those will be if they continue to employ people even if they have the furlough scheme or not. “It’s so important to get the money into firms accounts so that they can take the time to make the best decisions for them, looking at what the future holds and what decisions come out this week about the lockdown, whether it continues or not.” She added: “This will be a hugely worrying time for businesses in Britain and especially for the people they employ. The economy has had an extraordinary impact across the country.

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The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shoots from the hip and largely misses.

US Military Says Coronavirus Likely Occurred Naturally But Not Certain (R.)

U.S. intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, but there is no certainty either way, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday. The remarks by Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could fan speculation about the coronavirus’ origins — something China has dismissed as a conspiracy theory that is unhelpful to the fight against the pandemic. Asked whether he had any evidence that the virus began in a Chinese laboratory and was perhaps released accidentally, Milley was non-committal at a Pentagon news briefing.


“There’s a lot of rumor and speculation in a wide variety of media, the blog sites, etc. It should be no surprise to you that we’ve taken a keen interest in that and we’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that,” Milley said. “And I would just say, at this point, it’s inconclusive although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain.” Milley’s comments could again stoke tension with Beijing, where Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian wrote on Twitter last month that the U.S. Army might have “brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”

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“Iraqi President Barham Salih said it was a “regrettable decision” taken by a commission which is independent of the government…”

Iraq Suspends Reuters For Three Months Over Report On Coronavirus Cases (R.)

Iraq has suspended the licence of the Reuters news agency after it published a story saying the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country was higher than officially reported. Iraq’s media regulator said it was revoking Reuters’ licence for three months and fining it 25 million dinars ($21,000) for what it said was the agency’s violation of the rules of media broadcasting. In a letter to Reuters, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) said it had taken the action “because this matter is taking place during current circumstances which have serious repercussions on societal health and safety.”


Reuters said it regretted the Iraqi authorities’ decision and that it stood by the story, which it said was based on multiple, well-placed medical and political sources, and fully represented the position of the Iraqi health ministry. “We are seeking to resolve the matter and are working to ensure we continue to deliver trusted news about Iraq,” the news agency said in a statement. Asked about the Reuters suspension in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN, Iraqi President Barham Salih said it was a “regrettable decision” taken by a commission which is independent of the government. “From my vantage point you would not get me in a situation where I would defend that. I’m working with our legal team in order to revoke that and manage the situation,” Salih said.

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“There was no secret agreement,” he told reporters at a regular news conference. “Nothing.”

Trump Oil Deal Raises Question For Mexico: At What Cost? (R.)

Mexico’s president has incurred a debt with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump by accepting U.S. help to end a standoff over global oil cuts, triggering concern the American will in return make the country pay on issues like migration and security. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist oil nationalist, had balked at a demand by the OPEC+ group of oil producing nations to cut output by 400,000 barrels per day. Instead, he offered a cut of 100,000 bpd and said Trump “generously” agreed last week to help Mexico make up the rest. Trump has angered Mexicans by insisting the country will pay for a border wall he is building to keep out illegal immigrants. He has imposed a series of migration and trade-related demands on Lopez Obrador, and said Mexico would “reimburse” the United States for the oil cuts.


He has not yet said how. It could easily mean more demands on immigration and security, Sergio Alcocer, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister for North America, told Reuters. “This could become a joker, a sort of blank check,” for Trump, Alcocer said. Under U.S. coercion, Mexico has had to spend extra money on border policing, looking after asylum seekers and security. The thought of Trump having additional leverage has sown disquiet among both supporters and adversaries of Lopez Obrador. Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he had not agreed to anything in return for Trump’s help on the oil cuts. “There was no secret agreement,” he told reporters at a regular news conference. “Nothing.”

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But! The Russians!

GOP Senator Aims To Release Hunter Biden Investigation Report This Summer (NYP)

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson says he is aiming to release a status report on his investigation into Hunter Biden’s work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings “sometime this summer,” saying that the coronavirus pandemic “hampered” the probe. “We’re in the process of writing different sections of the report that I’d like to make public sometime this summer,” Johnson (R-Wis.) told Politico in an interview Monday. “But obviously, [the coronavirus] has not been helpful and hampered our efforts,” he added. The Wisconsin Republican told the outlet that committee staffers have been going through documents provided by the State Department and National Archives.

The National Archives’ documents include information from the Obama administration. “I’ve got staff that have been devoted to that and they’re working on that stuff from home. We — and I — can walk and chew gum at the same time here. This is not taking up massive amounts of staff time,” he said. Staffers are quarantining at home as the Senate remains in recess until April 20, a deadline that appears to be in flux. During that time, the committee is unable to take multiple actions regarding the probe, including being able to subpoena Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic consultancy firm that was hired by Burisma Holdings.

[..] Senate Republicans argue that Joe Biden may have acted inappropriately as vice president when his son — who had no material experience for the job — was given a high-paying seat on the board of Burisma when the elder Biden was in charge of US policy toward Ukraine. Senate Democrats, however, have argued that the investigation could aid efforts by Russians to spread disinformation and act as a smear campaign for the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden.

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