Sunday, August 2, 2020

Covid Chronicles Episode 3

Well another week ends and another begins or does any of that time space continum matter anymore? Space the final frontier is actually looking like a good idea, maybe the crackpots Bezos and Musk, are right to hit the rocket and get the fuck out.  Ad Astra does a great job of showing what insanity looks like in space and Tommy Lee Jones could be our space leader, there is something very Trumpian about him.

Trump has returned to our nightly schedule and the ratings are off the roof! I have no idea I just read the recaps as doing anything, cleaning my toilet, going about the street cleaning dog shit has to be more important that watching a doddering crazy old man ramble on incoherently about bullshit that he makes up to validate that he is  doddering crazy old man.  The Lincoln Project is doing a great job highlighting just how crazy he is but they fail to mention the enablers of the GOP who allow this to continue.  All of the worst players in this game are the Southern leadership cohort from Senators Mitch McConnell,  Lindsay Graham, Marsha Blackburn, Thom Tillis are all vociferous cock suckers in ways that defy how I have said repeatedly that the South will bury race, sexual identity and dignity for money.  Look at Mitch McConnell's wife and just ask Miss Lindsay about his love for his former work husband, John McCain.  Blackburn was a former beauty queen, aka, cum dumpster, and Tillis is the 15th richest in the Senate and tried to cash in on Trump's impeachment.   The South has a special kind of trash sleaze unlike any other. Again they have the Noble Cause as they refer to the Civil War to justify well being losers. Again they like the idea that the war between the States was an economic one and the right to secede from the Union. Okay then go with that lie.  Again I have never met more prodigious liars than I have met, better than Southern liars.

As for our Congress on both sides of the aisle, they have made Prostitution legal for years they just fuck everyone over for a fee. As for William Barr he is all that John Bolton wishes he was, for Barr is not about Trump, it is about the office and the agenda of establishing a path for clear Presidential powers in the future when the GOP Rise again like the dicks they are fueled on Viagra.   Trump is their seat filler and a great cover for the politics they do in the darkness, seat Judges, change laws, redistricting, voting right suppression, reproductive access and other economic policies that keep the rich and the checks flowing.

So we are down to less than a 100 days and we are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and this tunnel is looking more like the ones the Thai boys were stuck in when Elon Musk was the craziest person in media, declaring their Coach a Pedophile.  Good pre-pandemic times!  Is there a Lifetime movie coming out on this? I could use one right now.

As Europe has done a fairly good job leveling Covid but the Southern Hemisphere deep in winter has found themselves now facing a risk they thought they could New Zealand it and shove it back into the closet with the Gays, Liberal Women and Black people.  Oh wait that is the GOP.  Melbourne, Australia is now declaring a state of emergency, and meanwhile Brexit Johnson the PM of Britain is circle jerking with his man-boys to get that country back to his agenda, whatever that was, as folks are jumping off that sinking ship like the Lusthania.

And on the celebrity front, Madonna has finally proven that her talent has largely been appropriated from others, from Gay folks, from Black folks, from sane folks, as she descends into Covid meltdown.  I give her Kayne two stars crazy, as well again I am not sure how much of his descent into madness is real or for Keeping it 100 with the Kardashian real.  They could invite Dr. Immanuel over for one of Kayne's Sunday Meetings.  I would enjoy that as an episode she could discuss the qualities of how a bleach bath removes ashiness, along with your skin, but hey whatever works!

Is any of this shocking? No, not really. Given the lack of education of most Americans, from poor schooling to the individual who has no access to a library (remember those where the homeless hung out all day) or to newspapers where reading is fundamental is a part of the problem.  The inter webs and the magic 3x5 cards don't lend well to reading while searching Facebook for misinformation.  I was told by a friend that he could not handle reading news where it continues on another page and having to do that on his phone.  I gave him the app info for the Daily, the Times podcast, as a source and reprint now all news on single pages to inform him. His colleague had never heard about Podcasts and what they are, so well, sigh and shakes head,  one down one thousand more to go before I lose it with the quarantine. But it won't matter  as the press is banned from the GOP convention which again darkens the message to policy and plans of the GOP.  Ah yes Democracy really is being done in darkness.

And this brings me back to our current state and that is state by state crazy and the quiet uptick in Covid numbers which the Crazy Dopey Grandpa denies and then wanders off to make another claim: Change the election date, ban Tik Tok, Fauci is wrong, I'm the baby Jesus.  All of this throw down is a distraction to keep the great unwashed from focusing on the problem at large - Covid.

By day one, not week one, but day one, a school immediately had to go into lockdown in Indiana when a Student's covid test came back positive.  Proving once again that personal responsibility is zero when it comes to handling yourself during a pandemic.  As that parent knew a test was pending, clearly was not sure if they had been exposed but enough to get tested and then in turn said to their kid, "Go to school you are fine, will be fine and fuck this I can't take one more minute of your pre-teen bullshit." Again proving that education is second place to finding a place to day care your kids the same way you institutionalize your old, you dump them into dumpsters and then they scrounge around for something to do all day from Bingo to disrupting a classroom, at least we can see the circle of life in real time.   But let's just deep clean it into hygiene perfection as that is the solution. Yeah sure, washing hands in a public school with no soap, no paper towels but shitloads of cockroaches, worn out buildings and windows that won't open. Not a problem.  Again the hysteria over all this cleaning is another goal post that moves with the wind when it comes to theories about how its spread.  Its blood borne without the fucking.. herpes folks without dick. Well a big one or small one given what we know about Trump. Irony that the Golden State Killer also small dicked, explains that rampage that lasted over 40 years before amateurs stepped in to revive the crime.  Here is another podcast, Man in the Window, aside from the subject of the GSK, it reminds you why we are protesting the Police, they are IDIOTS -too//two/to. (My Trump tweet for the day). The Book, I'll be Gone in the Dark, also touches on how long and insidious that maniac terrorized California.  This is what white men do, fuck you over until they don't.    You know what?   I am just going to wash that man right out my hair; If I can get a hairdressing appointment before the next lockdown. And yes that is the next phase of the endless moving goal post on this episode of Friday Night Lights.

But the real drama I have contrasted this to repeatedly - Mary Shelley's, Frankenstein. Yes the Monster is free and Igor and the Bride cannot restrain him, the Villagers have risen their Tiki torches and lit the way for the Monster to cross the bridges to the South and he has brought with him the best gift to give to a host - Covid - its the gift that keeps on giving. Taking re-gifting to new heights. So the only way to stop it is to crush it and how? Shut it down and put in the dumpster with all the rest of the shit we put in there and take it to the crusher versus recycling and renewing. I know we need to go green and all but its time to actually do something of use.  Right now we have done nothing but to end each episode with the dramatic musical cue to leave us to wait for the next episode. And anyone whoever watched a soap knows that is not possible or how else could it go on.  Shit I watch the British one East Enders it now has the kids of the former kids who are now the Adults doing the same shit that they did 20 years ago.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Yeah I do need to go to a hairdresser.

Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’

The Washington Post
By Joel Achenbach, Rachel Weiner and Chelsea Janes
August 1, 2020

The coronavirus is spreading at dangerous levels across much of the United States, and public health experts are demanding a dramatic reset in the national response, one that recognizes that the crisis is intensifying and that current piecemeal strategies aren’t working.

This is a new phase of the pandemic, one no longer built around local or regional clusters and hot spots. It comes at an unnerving moment in which the economy suffered its worst collapse since the Great Depression, schools are rapidly canceling plans for in-person instruction and Congress has failed to pass a new emergency relief package. President Trump continues to promote fringe science, the daily death toll keeps climbing and the human cost of the virus in America has just passed 150,000 lives.

“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” declared a report released this week by Johns Hopkins University.

Another report from the Association of American Medical Colleges offered a similarly blunt message: “If the nation does not change its course — and soon — deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands.”

The country is exhausted, but the virus is not. It has shown a consistent pattern: It spreads opportunistically wherever people let down their guard and return to more familiar patterns of mobility and socializing. When communities tighten up, by closing bars or requiring masks in public, transmission drops.

That has happened in some Sun Belt states, including Arizona, Florida and Texas, which are still dealing with a surge of hospitalizations and deaths but are finally turning around the rate of new infections.

There are signs, however, that the virus is spreading freely in much of the country. Experts are focused on upticks in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests in the upper South and Midwest. It is a sign that the virus could soon surge anew in the heartland. Infectious-disease experts also see warning signs in East Coast cities hammered in the spring.

“There are fewer and fewer places where anybody can assume the virus is not there,” Gov. Mike DeWine (R) of Ohio said Wednesday. “It’s in our most rural counties. It’s in our smallest communities. And we just have to assume the monster is everywhere. It’s everywhere.”

Dire data

An internal Trump administration briefing document prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and obtained Friday by The Washington Post counted 453,659 new infections in the past week.

Alaska is in trouble. And Hawaii, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma. Those are the five states, as of Friday, with the highest percentage increase in the seven-day average of new cases, according to a Post analysis of nationwide health data.

“The dominoes are falling now,” said David Rubin, director of the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has produced a model showing where the virus is likely to spread over the next four weeks.

His team sees ominous trends in big cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, with Boston and New York not far behind. And Rubin warns that the expected influx of students into college towns at the end of this month will be another epidemiological shock.

“I suspect we’re going to see big outbreaks in college towns,” he said.

Young people are less likely to have a severe outcome from the coronavirus, but they are adept at propelling the virus through the broader population, including among people at elevated risk. Numbers of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the United States went from 36,158 on July 1 to 52,767 on July 31, according to The Post’s data. FEMA reports a sharp increase in the number of patients on ventilators.

The crisis has highlighted the deep disparities in health outcomes among racial and ethnic groups, and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week showed that hospitalization rates due to the coronavirus are roughly five times higher among Black, Hispanic and Native Americans than Whites.

Thirty-seven states and Puerto Rico will probably see rising daily death tolls during the next two weeks compared with the previous two weeks, according to the latest ensemble forecast from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst that combines more than 30 coronavirus models.

There are glimmers of progress. The FEMA report showed 237 U.S. counties with at least two weeks of steady declines in numbers of new coronavirus cases.

But there are more than 3,100 counties in America.

“This is not a natural disaster that happens to one or two or three communities and then you rebuild,” said Beth Cameron, vice president for global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a former White House National Security Council staffer focused on pandemics. “This is a spreading disaster that moves from one place to another, and until it’s suppressed and until we ultimately have a safe and effective and distributed vaccine, every community is at risk.”

A national strategy, whether advanced by the federal government or by the states working in tandem, will more effectively control viral spread than the current patchwork of state and local policies, according to a study from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The coordination is necessary because one state’s policies affect other states. Sometimes, that influence is at a distance, because states that are geographically far apart can have cultural and social ties, as is the case with the “peer states” of New York and Florida, the report found.

“The cost of our uncoordinated national response to covid-19, it’s dramatic,” said MIT economist Sinan Aral, senior author of the paper.

Some experts argue for a full six-to-eight-week national shutdown, something even more sweeping than what was instituted in the spring. There appears to be no political support for such a move.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said fresh federal intervention is necessary in this second wave of closures. Enhanced federal unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, with no agreement on a new stimulus package in sight.

“Congress, on a bipartisan basis, was trying to create a bridge to help individuals and businesses navigate the period of a shutdown,” Bradley said. “Absent an extension of that bridge, in light of a second shutdown, that bridge becomes a pier. And then that’s a real problem.”

With the economy in shambles, hospitals filling up and the public frustrated, anxious and angry, the challenge for national leadership is finding a plausible sea-to-sea strategy that can win widespread support and simultaneously limit sickness and death from the virus.

Many Americans may simply feel discouraged and overtaxed, unable to maintain precautions such as social distancing and mask-wearing. Others remain resistant, for cultural or ideological reasons, to public health guidance and buy into conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

DeWine is struggling to get Ohio citizens to take seriously the need to wear masks. A sheriff in rural western Ohio told the governor Wednesday that people didn’t think the virus was a big problem. DeWine informed the sheriff that the numbers in his county were higher per capita than in Toledo.

“The way I’ve explained to people, if we want to have Friday night football in the fall, if we want our kids back in school, what we do in the next two weeks will determine if that happens,” DeWine said.

The crucial metric

The coronavirus has always been several steps ahead of the U.S. government, the scientific community, the news media and the general public. By the time a community notices a surge in patients to hospital emergency rooms, the virus has seeded itself widely.

The virus officially known as SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted by people who are infectious but not symptomatic. The incubation period is typically about six days, according to the CDC. When symptoms flare, they can be ambiguous. A person may not seek a test right away. Then, the test results may not come back for days, a week, even longer.

That delay makes contact tracing nearly futile. It also means government data on virus transmission is invariably out of date to some degree — it’s a snapshot of what was happening a week or two weeks before. And different jurisdictions use different metrics to track the virus, further fogging the picture.

The top doctors on the White House coronavirus task force, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, are newly focused on the early warning signs of a virus outbreak. This week, they warned that the kind of runaway outbreaks seen in the Sun Belt could potentially happen elsewhere. Among the states of greatest concern: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Fauci and Birx have pointed to a critical metric: the percentage of positive test results. When that figure starts to tick upward, it is a sign of increasing community spread of the virus.

“That is kind of the predictor that if you don’t do something — namely, do something different — if you’re opening up at a certain pace, slow down, maybe even backtrack a little,” Fauci said in an interview Wednesday.

Without a vaccine, the primary tools for combating the spread of the virus remain the common-sense “non-pharmaceutical interventions,” including mask-wearing, hand-washing, staying out of bars and other confined spaces, maintaining social distancing of at least six feet and avoiding crowds, Fauci said.

“Seemingly simple maneuvers have been very effective in preventing or even turning around the kind of surges we’ve seen,” he said.

Thirty-three U.S. states have positivity rates above 5 percent. The World Health Organization has cited that percentage as a crucial benchmark for governments deciding whether to reopen their economy. Above 5 percent, stay closed. Below, open with caution.

Of states with positivity rates below 5 percent, nine have seen those rates rise during the last two weeks.

“You may not fully realize that when you think things are okay, you actually are seeing a subtle, insidious increase that is usually reflected in the percent of your tests that are positive,” Fauci said.

The shutdown blues

Some governors immediately took the White House warnings to heart. On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said at a news conference that he had met with Birx the previous day and was told he was getting the same warning Texas and Florida received “weeks before the worst of the worst happened.”

To prevent that outcome in his state, Beshear said, he was closing bars for two weeks and cutting seating in restaurants.

But as Beshear pleaded that “we all need to be singing from the same sheet of music,” discord and confusion prevailed.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said Thursday she wasn’t convinced a mask mandate is effective: “No one knows particularly the best strategy.”

Earlier in the week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) demurred on masks and bar closures even as he stood next to Birx and spoke to reporters.

“That’s not a plan for us now,” he said. He added emphatically, “We are not going to close the economy back down.”

The virus is spreading throughout his state, and not just in the big cities. Vacationers took the virus home from the honky-tonks of Nashville and blues clubs of Memphis to where they live in more rural areas, said John Graves, a professor at Vanderbilt University studying the pandemic.

“The geographical footprint of the virus has reached all corners of the state at this point,” Graves said.

In Missouri, Gov. Michael L. Parson (R) was dismissive of New York’s imposition of a quarantine on residents from his state as a sign of a worsening pandemic. “I’m not going to put much stock in what New York says — they’re a disaster,” he said at a news conference Monday.

Missouri has no mask mandate, leaving it to local officials to act — often in the face of hostility and threats. In the town of Branson, angry opponents testified Tuesday that there was no reason for a mask order when deaths in the county have been few and far between.

“It hasn’t hit us here yet, that’s what I’m scared of,” Branson Alderman Bill Skains said before voting with a majority in favor of the mandate. “It is coming, and it’s coming like a freight train.”

Democratic mayors in Missouri’s two biggest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis, said that with so many people needing jobs, they are reluctant to follow Birx’s recommendation to close bars.

“The whole-blanket approach to shut everybody down feels a little harsh for the people who are doing it right,” said Jacob Long, spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. “We’re trying to take care of some bad actors first.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also got a warning from Birx. On Wednesday, he said all bar drinking must move outside.

“We don’t want to be heading in the direction of everybody else,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of the infectious-disease epidemiology division at the Minnesota Department of Health. She acknowledged that some options “are really pretty draconian.”

The problem is that less-painful measures have proven insufficient.

“The disease transmission we’re seeing is more than what would have been expected if people were following the guidance as it is laid out. It’s a reflection of the fact that they’re not,” she said.

‘A tremendous disappointment’

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) tried to implement broad statewide measures early in the pandemic, only to have his “Safer at Home” order struck down by the state’s Supreme Court.

With cases in his state rising anew, he tried again Thursday, declaring a public health emergency and issuing a statewide mask mandate.

“While our local health departments have been doing a heck of a job responding to this pandemic in our communities, the fact of the matter is, this virus doesn’t care about any town, city or county boundary, and we need a statewide approach to get Wisconsin back on track,” Evers said.

Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s chief medical officer, said he is dismayed by the failures of the national pandemic response.

“I really thought we had a chance to keep this suppressed,” Westergaard said. “The model is a good one: testing, tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine. Those things work. We saw this coming. We knew we had to build robust, flexible systems to do this in all of our communities. It feels like a tremendous disappointment that we weren’t able to build a system in time that could handle this.”

There is one benefit to the way the virus has spread so broadly, he noted: “We no longer have to keep track of people traveling to a hot spot if hot spots are everywhere.”

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