Friday Talking Points -- We're Number One (Hundred Thousand)!

[ Posted Friday, March 27th, 2020 – 18:12 UTC ]

[Program Note: I am pre-empting our normal column format today (as well as our use of the editorial "we") in order to make room for a straight-up rant. After finishing it, I don't think I've ever written such a lengthy one before, and after finishing I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of the criminal incompetence and lies emanating from the White House in shameful fashion during the worst crisis of Donald Trump's presidency. Books will be written later about this monumental screwup, when we all have time to examine the many, many things that have gone wrong... and are still going wrong. But until then, I just felt the need to get this rant off my chest. You have been warned.]


We're number one! Well... number one hundred thousand and climbing, at any rate....

Yesterday, the United States of America took the lead on the world stage, but not in a good way. We're now the most-infected nation on the planet, and are now the number one epicenter of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Today, the number of cases in this country surpassed 100,000 -- a grim milestone indeed. We still have a ways to go before we are the country with the most deaths from the disease, but at the rate we're going that won't be long either.

What is really worrisome, at least for those who can read what the numbers are saying, is how fast we're increasing. With any exponential progression, what really matters is the rate of doubling. At the moment, the United States is doubling the number of cases every three days. So while we're on track to hit 110,000 or so today, three days ago there were only 54,856 cases. Three days before that, there were only 24,192 cases. This is truly frightening because if it keeps up, we're on track to hit over 400,000 cases by this time next week. The week after that, we could be getting close to 2 million cases. So far, that curve hasn't been bending in a good direction at all -- it's been rocketing up instead.

Perhaps the rise in cases isn't sustainable. Perhaps the social distancing is going to start to have an effect on the numbers. As I wrote earlier in the week, there's a lag time of more than a week between when people actually contract the disease and when they get entered into the statistics. So maybe next week will finally have some good news -- which, at the moment, would only be that the rate of doubling has begun to slow down a little bit. We'll see.

The other truly frightening thing about the numbers is that they may be severely undercounting the actual cases. So far, there just haven't been enough test kits to go around. They've had to be rationed. Even if you're sick, you can't get tested in many places unless you are actually hospitalized, due to the scarcity of the tests. This could begin to get better, as the tests are finally (finally!) being made more widely available, but up until this point supplies have been woefully inadequate. The governor of California announced just yesterday that only 66,000 tests had been performed in the state, but that of those 48,000 had no results yet because they had just been administered. That means only 18,000 had been given prior to this week -- which is quite obviously not enough in the most-populous state in the country.

Everyone trusts the governor when he conveys such important information, because he is honestly telling us the truth. Everyone trusts their governor in all the other states as well, one assumes, because the governors have been at the front lines and are providing the only honest leadership to be found in this time of crisis.

No one in their right mind trusts anything President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, or anyone else in the Trump administration is telling them -- with the sole exception being Dr. Anthony Fauci. This is because all we are getting from Trump and his minions are lies. Lies, damned lies, and faulty statistics -- we're getting them all by the truckload from Trump. What we're not getting by the truckload is anything they've promised to deliver. Which is why nobody believes all their happy-talk horse manure any more.

At this point, I don't even care if all the lies Trump is telling are conscious attempts to deceive, things he just doesn't know much of anything about, or just garden-variety ass-covering. It really doesn't make much difference anymore. The absolute vacuum of leadership at the top is approaching the point where it could be called criminal, in fact, and when things get this bad you really stop caring what his actual motive may be.

This all enrages me, and it should enrage anyone who can remember the lies that were being told just last week. Trump's inaction and inability to lead a one-car parade are becoming painfully acute, and they have directly contributed to the increase in cases. Let's run down the most egregious mistakes and lies we've had to put up with yet:


The worst lies yet

Nobody could have ever seen something like this coming, but now we know, and we know it can happen and happen again. And if it does, somebody is going to be very well prepared because of what we've learned and how we've done.

President Trump has used some form of this blanket excuse over and over and over again. But it is not true -- not by a longshot. Experts in the field knew it could happen, and they all told the Trump administration how serious a problem it could be. Trump ignored them.

Two stories put this into focus in stunning fashion, although I have yet to see either one of them mentioned by the talking heads on television, or asked about during one of Trump's now-daily press conferences. Here's the whole sordid story, from Politico (click on the link to see the full playbook that Team Trump totally ignored):

The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus -- a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should've begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago.

"Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?" the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. "If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?"

The strategies are among hundreds of tactics and key policy decisions laid out in a 69-page National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics, which POLITICO is detailing for the first time. Other recommendations include that the government move swiftly to fully detect potential outbreaks, secure supplemental funding and consider invoking the Defense Production Act -- all steps in which the Trump administration lagged behind the timeline laid out in the playbook.

"Each section of this playbook includes specific questions that should be asked and decisions that should be made at multiple levels" within the national security apparatus, the playbook urges, repeatedly advising officials to question the numbers on viral spread, ensure appropriate diagnostic capacity and check on the U.S. stockpile of emergency resources.

The playbook also stresses the significant responsibility facing the White House to contain risks of potential pandemics, a stark contrast with the Trump administration's delays in deploying an all-of-government response and President Donald Trump's recent signals that he might roll back public health recommendations.

"The U.S. government will use all powers at its disposal to prevent, slow or mitigate the spread of an emerging infectious disease threat," according to the playbook's built-in "assumptions" about fighting future threats. "The American public will look to the U.S. government for action when multi-state or other significant events occur."

Got that? An easy-to-follow guide exists which tells the political leaders of our country exactly what to do and when to do it. It was utterly ignored, which led to losing two months of lead time that could have been used to fight the spread of the disease.

That's pretty astonishing stuff, which is why I wonder why nobody has even mentioned it on television or in the White House press room. But even more astonishing is that it wasn't even the only pandemic disaster preparedness effort that was ignored by Trump. Also uncovered by Politico was the following:

The Department of Homeland Security stopped updating its annual models of the havoc that pandemics would wreak on America's critical infrastructure in 2017, according to current and former DHS officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

From at least 2005 to 2017, an office inside DHS, in tandem with analysts and supercomputers at several national laboratories, produced detailed analyses of what would happen to everything from transportation systems to hospitals if a pandemic hit the United States.

But the work abruptly stopped in 2017 amid a bureaucratic dispute over its value, two of the former officials said, leaving the department flat-footed as it seeks to stay ahead of the impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on vast swaths of the U.S. economy. Officials at other agencies have requested some of the reports from the pandemic modeling unit at DHS in recent days, only to find the information they needed scattered or hard to find quickly.

And while department leaders dispute that, others say the confusion is just the latest example of the Trump administration's struggle to respond to an outbreak that has sickened more than 50,000 Americans and threatens to overwhelm hospitals and other health care providers. Officials are now scrambling to secure enough masks, respirators and ventilators to meet the rapidly exploding need. Doctors and nurses are reusing their protective gear as supplies dwindle; governors are begging the administration for federal help that has been slow to arrive.

. . .

Some of the modeling unit's analyses looked at what would happen if a large portion of the U.S. workforce -- say, 40 percent -- got sick or couldn't show up at work to maintain and operate key aspects of the national infrastructure, such as the systems that keep planes flying safely. The reports were meant to guide policymakers toward areas that would demand their attention in the event of an outbreak.

One 2015 DHS report... warned that America's public and private health systems might "experience significant shortages in vaccines, antivirals, pharmaceuticals needed to treat secondary infections and complications, personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical equipment, including ventilators."

Got that? Ventilators. So two different agencies had created sophisticated models for how the country should react to a pandemic, and they were both ignored by the Trump administration. And, to add insult to injury (or perhaps to rub some salt in the wound -- choose your metaphor), Team Trump is still absolutely ignoring the one playbook they should be paying attention to, by "breaking every rule in the Center for Disease Control's 450-page handbook for a health crisis." No wonder their response has been so pathetic. Because, as always, Donald Trump refuses to listen to anyone who knows more than he does about any subject under the sun -- and that includes a whole bunch of smart people.

There are two other big lies worth highlighting right up front. The first came from Donald Trump, on March 6:

Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That's what the bottom line is.... Anybody right now and yesterday -- anybody that needs a test gets a test. We -- they're there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.

This was not true three Fridays ago, and it is not true now. Everyone that needs a test still can't get a test, although the situation has improved in the past week. Even so, it's nowhere near even where Mike Pence promised we already were over two weeks ago, on March 9:

Over a million tests have been distributed... before the end of this week, another 4 million tests will be distributed.

That was not even close to being true when he said it, and it still isn't true. Just two days ago -- seventeen days later -- Mike Pence tried to brag that 432,000 tests have now been done nationwide. So it took two-and-a-half weeks to even get to half of what Pence promised had already occurred back then. As for "another 4 million," we're obviously nowhere close to that, even though the "end of the week" came and went two Fridays ago. Now, with Donald Trump you always have to wonder if he's intentionally lying or just ignorant as a bag of hammers, but Pence is smart enough to know when he's lying. And lying is precisely what he was doing, back then. I heard the surgeon general say this morning in an interview that "one million tests" had now been performed, but seeing as how he's been nothing but a toady for Trump, I simply don't believe him in the slightest. If Mike Pence lied about it back on March 6, why should I believe any of them now? I'll wait until I hear such a figure from someone trustworthy, like a governor or maybe Johns Hopkins University. Because the only thing you can trust from the Trump administration is that if their lips are moving, they are lying -- and most likely lying about critical issues that will lead to more deaths. This is why the phrase "criminal neglect" keeps coming back to me.


The callous indifference and inaction

Already, polling shows that 58 percent of the American people think Trump acted too slowly to combat the coronavirus outbreak. And they're right.

From the start, Trump has been playing catchup, and this has not been going well at all. The airlines -- on their own initiative -- halted flights to the epicenter in China very early on. Trump jumped on board this bandwagon and announced a "travel ban" for people coming from China.

However, this was a lie. There was no "travel ban" at all. There was a ban on non-Americans travelling from China to the United States. That's it. Americans were still allowed to fly back home. Here's a hint as to why this was pretty much like doing nothing at all: viruses don't check passports. Americans get infected in exactly the same way Chinese people get infected. So the "China travel ban" that Trump loves to now brag about was, essentially, ineffectual. A quarantine is only as good as its loopholes.

Trump doesn't seem to understand that he actually would get a lot more credit for his China travel ban if he had then sprung into action. He didn't. He dithered for over a month afterwards. In fact, he spent most of this time talking down the danger, at times even refusing to admit that it even existed. He brushed the whole thing off as nothing more than the flu. Exactly one month ago, he said: "It's going to disappear. One day -- it's like a miracle -- it will disappear." This was a lie, because it has obviously not miraculously disappeared.

Trump then swore up and down, over and over, that everything was "totally under control." Only 15 Americans were sick, Trump told us, and that number "would soon be zero." That was over 100,000 cases ago. Obviously, the virus was not "under control" in any way, obviously the travel bans did not work, and we're now quite obviously leading the world in infections.

This might not have been the case if Trump had moved more quickly on the issue of testing, instead of endlessly dithering. When the first cases arrived in America, there was already an existing test for COVID-19 which was approved by the World Health Organization and was being successfully used in dozens of countries. The Trump administration decided to create their own test kits from scratch. This delayed providing the tests for weeks, and then (even worse), the tests were faulty. Adding to the ineptitude, private industry wasn't called in to help until things had already gotten so far behind the curve that catching up was now impossible. As we can plainly see, from the fact that even today there are not enough tests to go around. So it wasn't just Trump himself who didn't take the coronavirus seriously, it was the entire federal government he controls.

Here's where we are now, according to what Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology expert at Harvard University wrote this Monday: "The United States currently has a sliver of the [testing] capacity we need, which is a tiny fraction of that available in other countries. South Korea has performed over 320,000 tests -- almost one for every 150 people. That is 30 times the testing per capita that we have done in the United States."

South Korea, interestingly enough, had their first coronavirus case detected on the same day we did. Their reaction was to immediately leap into action and open 600 test centers and 50 drive-through test centers. By acting so quickly, they avoided having to institute the social distancing that we're now experiencing. All the while, we were essentially doing nothing but listen to lies from Trump about how the whole thing was going to be no big deal. That is the difference between a country led by people who know what they are doing and one "led" by Donald Trump and his circus of clowns.

Trump was finally shamed into announcing a rather weak version of "social distancing," after multiple governors (from both parties) had already instituted such restrictions in their own states. But then Trump blew any advantage this might have given by utterly failing to provide the supplies necessary to successfully combat an infectious disease. There isn't just a critical shortage of ventilators, there is also a critical shortage of all the basic personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, gowns) that should have been provided by the federal government.

The experts were saying back in February that a million Americans could be hospitalized by even a moderate pandemic. But Trump did nothing. If he had utilized the Defense Production Act back then, we simply would not be where we are now -- we'd be in a lot better shape. But Trump has resisted doing so for weeks. He seemed to think using this power meant "nationalizing companies," which is not true at all. It means the federal government orders equipment and they are the highest priority customer -- they get all the factory can make. The feds then divvy up what is made and send it to where it is needed the most. This still has yet to happen because Trump is happy to see all the governors compete with each other over the limited supplies. This has reportedly driven up the price of N95 masks from pennies each to five bucks a pop. All of this could have been avoided if Trump had acted sooner. The governor of Illinois correctly said this was "like the Wild West." Senator Chris Murphy probably put this disastrous policy the best, though (after he told the president to "stop whining and tweeting and start acting," for good measure): "Today, we are in a Lord Of The Flies environment in which every single hospital and every single state is competing with each other."

Meanwhile, the White House forges ahead by just flat-out denying reality. Here's what they had to say yesterday, after reports began to appear in the media of doctors and nurses begging for equipment:

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House's coronavirus task force, said during a press update on Thursday that there was no "evidence" that hospitals were facing a severe shortage of ventilators.

As I sat down to write this, the news broke that Trump finally had used the D.P.A., to order General Motors to make respirators. But, like everything else in this fiasco, Trump had to be shamed into doing so. The New York Times reported yesterday that GM had been in talks with the Trump administration to make up to 80,000 ventilators, but that the deal fell through "after FEMA said it needed more time to assess how much the ventilators would cost." Trump was more interested in haggling over the price than he was with getting the ventilators made as quickly as possible. Because this was revealed, Trump was shamed into doing what he should have done weeks ago, and put the federal government in charge of at least one portion of the supply chain for hospitals.


The pettiness and ego-boosting

With Donald Trump, everything and anything is always -- always -- about one thing and one thing only: how it will affect Donald Trump. Period. Throughout the crisis, rather than showing the tiniest shred of leadership, Trump has been obsessed with how this is all going to affect his chances of re-election.

To Trump, the most important thing for anyone else to do -- any state governor, any medical expert, any of his toadies, bootlickers, or minions -- is to praise Trump with every breath they take. And Trump uses this as leverage, which he fully admitted this week on Fox News, when asked about several tantrums he's been having over what the nation's governors are saying about him: "It's a two-way street," Trump said. "They have to treat us well, also. They can't say, 'Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.'"

In other words, to get any attention from the Dear Leader, you absolutely must first kiss the Dear Leader's ass. This should outrage every decent human being in this country, but it's just par for the course for Trump. Trump just does not know how to behave like a decent human being, period. When told that Mitt Romney was self-quarantining last weekend, Trump responded with a sneer: "Gee, that's too bad." No, it was not sincere in the slightest. When he learned that Romney had tested negative, Trump's response was to tweet: "This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak. He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!" Trump wouldn't know what is expected of a decent human being if his own life depended on it.

Every time a governor (or anyone else, for that matter) dares to point out that all the promises from Trump and his team have proven to be nothing short of criminal lies, Trump attacks the messenger. The governor of Michigan was the most recent, although governors of Illinois, Washington, New York, Maryland, and plenty of other places have also found this out. Here's what Whitmer just pointed out:

Whitmer recounted that the most recent delivery of masks, gowns, face shields and gloves from the federal government's national strategic stockpile that was earmarked for a Michigan hospital on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis -- in southeast Michigan -- was woefully short of what is needed.

"With the exception of the gloves, that allotment is barely enough to cover one shift at that hospital," Whitmer said. "Not even a whole day's worth of shifts. One shift."

Officials in the Michigan governor's office tell me the situation is quite dire. They believe they need 400,000 new N95 masks a day for at least the next few weeks. Given how few have come in from the federal government, they've put out an order through other sources -- some international -- for millions of masks. Due to delays, they've received none of them.

Trump, of course, immediately attacked Whitmer.

Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington (the first epicenter of the disease in our country) apparently got tired of Trump encouraging the Lord Of The Flies competition between the states for supplies (where Trump says the federal government should just be the "backup" line of defense), and told Trump on a phone call: "We don't need a backup. We need a Tom Brady." But, obviously, all we've got to work with is a mentally-challenged waterboy, not a first-string quarterback.

Earlier, Andrew Cuomo got downright incensed after requesting 30,000 ventilators and getting only 400 from the federal government.

"The president said it's a war... then act like it," Cuomo said, raising his voice during a morning news conference at the Javits Center in Manhattan. "They're doing the supplies? Here's my question: Where are they?"

If more ventilators aren't sent within weeks, Cuomo told the feds, "You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die."

Cuomo went on to call on Trump to do what he finally (finally!) did today, to invoke the D.P.A. to get the ventilators, saying "not to exercise that power is inexplicable." He mocked Trump's insistence that he was using the power as "leverage" to get private companies to help:

"When we went to war we didn't say, 'Any company out there want to build a battleship?'" he said, mocking the federal government's current stance.

He argued business would welcome such an order.

"You know what business wants? They want to make money... let them open their factory and make money, help them do that by ordering the supplies you need," Cuomo said. "That's what the Defense [Production] Act was all about and at the rate they are going -- it is not happening. FEMA says we're sending 400 ventilators. Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?"

Trump immediately attacked Cuomo, because of course he did. It took many more days before Trump finally (finally!) used the act's power. In the meantime, a high-ranking official at the DHS was removed from her position because she was deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

In fact, there is only one man who even appears remotely trustworthy in the entire Trump coronavirus team, and that is Dr. Anthony Fauci. There was a scare this week, however, when all of a sudden he wasn't present at the daily briefings for a few days, right after an interview came out where Fauci pretty much admitted how tough it was to deal with the Toddler-in-Chief:

When asked Sunday by Science magazine's Jon Cohen about having to stand in front of the nation as "the representative of truth and facts" when "things are being said that aren't true and aren't factual," the 79-year-old said there is only so much he can do.

"I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down," Fauci said, referring to Trump. "Okay, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time."

He was even asked about whether he'd be fired for saying stuff like this, and he correctly pointed out that the Trump administration would lose their one remaining shred of believability if it happened:

"I don't think they're going to try to silence me. I think that would be foolish on their part," he said. "I think, in some respects, they welcome my voice out there telling the truth. I'm going to keep doing it. And no matter what happens to me, I'm going to keep doing it."


What we've lost

We've lost a lot of time, while Trump dithered. That time could have been spent getting ready, but instead Trump spent most of it telling everyone that this wasn't a big deal and he had it "totally under control." Neither is true. We're going to lose a lot of lives because of this criminal negligence. A lot more people are going to get sick as a direct result.

But it's not only what we're losing here at home. We're also losing our status as a world leader. Here is how the rest of the planet now sees us:

Planeloads of Chinese medical equipment, masks and protective gear have been landing in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Iran and Iraq, among others. Jack Ma, China's wealthiest man, donated test kits, masks and protective suits to each of Africa's 54 countries.

African heads of state took to social media to profusely thank him, and headlines of major newspapers gushed with gratitude. "The perception across much of the continent today is that the Chinese are stepping up to deliver the kind of public goods that the U.S. used to provide," said Eric Olander, the director of the China-Africa Project

. . .

"In international crises, America has always been the country to which other countries have turned for leadership and to steer the ship. And now, which country is looking to the United States? No one," said Elisabeth Braw of the London-based Royal United Services Institute.

. . .

Meanwhile, the chaotic American response to the spread of the virus in the United States is undermining its reputation as a global leader in science and technology. TV footage of New Yorkers queuing in the cold for scarce virus tests has been broadcast worldwide, accentuating the sense that America can't manage its own coronavirus epidemic, let alone lead other countries out of theirs.

American enemies have seized the opportunity to take digs. "Spend it on yourself," said Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as he rejected an offer of U.S. assistance to help Iran fight the coronavirus. "You have shortages yourself."

Ouch. That's pretty sad, but that's where Trump's abysmal failure to provide even the pretense of leadership has left us. Even worse? Hope Trump doesn't hear about this one:

Mexican protesters blocked a port of entry that connects Nogales, Ariz., with Nogales, Mexico. They expressed worries that U.S. travelers could bring the pandemic into Mexico and demanded more screenings on traffic from the U.S.

Got that? The Mexicans are trying to shut down their border to prevent us from entering their country. Hoo boy. Like I said, hope Trump doesn't hear that anecdote.

You know what message we're sending to the world, instead of providing leadership? That all Trump is interested in is the blame game. Here's how a recent meeting of the foreign ministers of the G-7 went:

Meeting by video conference because of the outbreak, the ministers agreed on the need for joint efforts to halt the spread of the virus, known as COVID-19. But U.S. and European diplomats said the ministers were unable to agree on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call for COVID-19 to be identified by name as the "Wuhan virus."

As a result, just a day after G-7 finance ministers and central bankers issued a joint communique referring to "COVID-19," the foreign ministers opted against releasing a group statement.

That is what we're losing. Being taken seriously on the world stage. The world used to just be laughing at us, but it's even worse now because they are reduced to pitying us.



America needs leadership in times of crisis. We are not getting it now -- not even close. We are instead getting petulance and indifference and lots and lots and lots of outright lies. Trump lies about things both great and small. He lies about current things and history. He could learn the actual facts in an instant, by calling any number of experts up to get his story straight. He doesn't bother to do so because he is incapable of correctly learning new facts. On Fox News this week, he was asked about the last major pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago. This is how he responded:

Excuse me, just one second. You can't compare this to 1918, where close to 100 million people died. That was a flu -- it's a little different -- but that was a flu where if you got it, you had a 50/50 chance or very close of dying.

That's not even close. Estimates vary (record-keeping was rudimentary back then), but they range from a 2.5 percent death rate to perhaps 10 percent from the Spanish Flu. To put it another way, that is between a 1-in-40 chance of dying and a 1-in-10 chance of dying. Neither one is anywhere near "50/50." This is a basic fact that anyone can discover in about five seconds spent online, but even though Trump is surrounded by medical experts, he hasn't bothered to either listen or retain the truth. This is but one small example of his callous indifference to reality, but it is pretty representative of his entire approach.

And, of course, the rest of his team takes their cues from the boss. Steve Mnuchin responded to the news that at least 3.3 million workers filed for unemployment last week by brushing it off: "I just think these numbers right now are not relevant, and you know, whether they're bigger or smaller in the short term." Not relevant. Got it. This is so far away from "I feel your pain" as to not even be in the same moral universe.

Trump doesn't feel anyone's pain but his own, period. He's now pushing to get the whole country open again in time for Easter, because as a showman he can't resist the imagery (of "packed churches" as he put it). He doesn't really care if this means that tens of thousands more people get sick, or thousands more die. And the rest of the Republican Party just rolls right along, insisting that grandma and grandpa should just make the sacrifice of possible death in order to get the stock market ticking up again. This, from the political party that makes such a honkin' big deal about how deeply they care about "the sanctity of life," mind you.

However, luckily not everyone is a GOP toady willing to sacrifice anything -- or anyone -- just to improve Trump's chances of being re-elected. Trump is not showing leadership at all during this crisis -- he's doing whatever the opposite could be called. In direct response to Trump's irresponsible call for everyone to get the economy moving again, a whopping 800,000 doctors just signed a letter begging him not to prematurely end the social distancing.

And, as they used to say in advertisements, 800,000 doctors can't be wrong.

-- Chris Weigant


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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


95 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- We're Number One (Hundred Thousand)!”

  1. [1] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Excellent rant. You expressed every single thought I've had on this issue for the past week or ten.

    I wish I could believe enough of the country had the same feelings, to ensure that the president will lose the coming election. Frankly, I wish I could believe the election itself will take place as it should whether via mail-in ballots or any other correct protocol.

    I would say the media isn't mercilessly mocking and shaming the president and his crew because "the country needs to come together in a crisis." Except the media hasn't really mocked and shamed them in the previous three years (except the liberal opinion bubble) because "the country needs to respect and honor the man who was sworn in as president on January 20, 2017, no matter how shamefully, incompetently, venally, and corruptly he acts, speaks, and behaves."

    Sorry to be so down. Thanks for the 'Talking Points' of tell it like it is.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    When Trump was elected, this is precisely what worried us the most - how would he deal with a crisis? We all intuitively knew the answer: not well.

    Now that this intuition has been frightfully confirmed, what do we do now?

  3. [3] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Elizabeth [4],
    We suffer and die.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Predictable. And, just one example of an AmeriCan't.

    Is that the best you got?

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think the Governors need to coalesce and work as one group to get the PPE and ventilators and other supplies that their states need.

    They also need to act as one in instituting shelters in place or whatever they want to call it.

    They need to fill the leadership void in the country and act as if there is no federal government.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    They need to listen to Bill Gates. In fact, they need to enlist him!

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Sorry, John … I know you were just trying to inject a bit of gallows humour. I chuckled. :)

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Frankly, I wish I could believe the election itself will take place as it should whether via mail-in ballots or any other correct protocol.

    Now, THAT is no joking matter!

    You don't really think the election may not happen, do you?

    Well, all the more reason the governors need to start acting as one to get beyond the plague and, FAST!

  9. [9] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    What pisses me off:

    After the 2009 swine flu and the Ebola outbreak, Obama created the pandemic preparedness office at the National Security Council. Trump disbanded it.

    In the transfer of power between administrations, the ingoing and outgoing staffs are required to participate in gaming a few exercises that the outgoing administration thinks are the most pressing danger. A pandemic was one of those exercises. The incoming staff barely paid attention.

    The U.S. intelligence community warned Trump in a 2019 annual threat report for 2019 that a pandemic was one of the greater threats we faced. Trump did nothing.

    And on and on.

    I think once the bodies start piling up, Trump will be lucky to make it to November. The 25th amendment or another impeachment, this time with full support of the Senate Republicans is going to look like a really good option all around.

    Not that Pence is much better…

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, let's hope and act to ensure the bodies don't keep piling up.

  11. [11] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: At this point, I don't even care if all the lies Trump is telling are conscious attempts to deceive, things he just doesn't know much of anything about, or just garden-variety ass-covering. It really doesn't make much difference anymore.

    Right out of the gate, OMG thank you, Chris! We needed a rant, and my apologies and a warning that I am going to add to it. I confess I haven't read the remainder of the post yet so you'll understand if my rant repeats some of your rant. Off we go.

    About that "Trump administration ass-covering," we are currently receiving by the boatload what can only be described as ass-covering propaganda email, some from quite high up the chain. Emails praising teams "working for months quietly behind the scenes" to prepare "blah, blah, blah." You wouldn't even believe it. All total bullshit. The tenor of the latest communications are cheerleading types, and I would like to share a few sentences lifted verbatim:

    For those of us in this fight, while we are certainly feeling the burden of what we face, we are fortunate to not be out of work feeling powerless. We are in fact powerful, and extremely fortunate to be contributing to the nation’s response....

    As we go through these few weeks that will surely go down in history, I wanted to look back on this week in military history. This past Wednesday, March 25, was Medal of Honor Day, commemorating the first Medals of Honor being awarded on March 25, 1863. The very first was presented to Private Jacob Parrott of the 33rd Ohio Infantry, who participated in a daring raid behind Confederate lines to capture a railroad train at Big Shanty, GA. He was captured and severely beaten but refused to talk, and then managed to escape. He eventually made it back to friendly lines and remained in the Union Army the remainder of the war.

    Did you catch that description of "few weeks"? Few weeks. M'kay. This isn't the only recent communication suggesting this will end in a "few weeks." Now y'all have another idea of what might be coming next.

    Did you catch those messages of "you're lucky to have a job" and "be good soldiers and keep your mouth shut"? Nice, huh?

    We have boatloads of these CYA communications praising the "early preparation" of "leadership" and the pathetic cheerleading variety. Meanwhile, facts on the ground are a veritable shitstorm.

    Rant over.

  12. [12] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Chris, I read the first few paragraphs of your rant and then had to stop. Perhaps I'll pick it up later. Not because I disagree with anything you wrote. Rather because I've felt increasingly impotent to do anything to prevent the U S from following the same path as Italy.
    Italian politicians dithered and minimized COVID-19, fearful of the economic impact. But they did finally listen to the advice of the medical experts. The country went into 'lockdown' on 8 March and we are STILL seeing 5,000+ new cases per day.
    Not even ONE U S State has approached the 'extreme measures' that Italy did almost 3 weeks ago.

    Trump of course makes any situation worse, so it should surprise no one that the United States isn't at the 'beginning of the beginning' of COVID-19 cases.

    But of course each of us has a personal responsibility in this pandemic. Too many Italians are STILL not following the law. My family members in the U S, who I beg and plead to take COVID-19 seriously, continue to go out to eat and ignore facts. (And not just true-blue Trumpsters, either!)

  13. [13] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW- Bing has opened up a comprehensive COVID-19 tracking site that has better presentation and is a bit easier to navigate than WorldOMeter.

    Any beer lovers in the audience (rhetorical question mark).

    Pity the poor craft beer businesses. There are 8 of them in my home town and lots more regionally. All of them produce righteous product and a couple are downright world class. Only one of the 8 distributes in cans. All them rely on bars and restaurants to distribute their product. They are dying. I am looking into craft brew take out - haven't found any yet.

    Beer is minor in the grand scheme, but know some of these folks and it's sad to see. They put souls and pretty much all of their capital into their business. Just when things were looking good----.

  14. [14] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW- "there's a lag time of more than a week between when people actually contract the disease and when they get entered into the statistics."

    Important, but don't forget there is roughly a 2-14 day period from opening an individual case to closing that case. Our estimates of mortality and length of stay in hospital are currently based on about 4000 closed cases. The last time the number of known cases was that small was about 12 days ago. Given the time lag and nonlinear growth model I suspect prediction intervals are pretty, pretty broad. Not good news for logistical planning purposes.

    This is Pearl Harbor sized intelligence failure owned by Trump and his hunches.

    What do you think the chances are the pews are filled on Easter?

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I predict that the US will be in very bad shape for a very long time if it doesn't completely shelter in place for the next couple of months, at least.

    What do you suppose the prediction interval for that is?

  16. [16] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Our local newspaper (if you guys don't know what newspapers were, maybe you can Google it, there are still a few out in the boondocks) that there have so far been 4 C-virus fatalities in my area, all were my own generation, old-timers with "underlying issues" - read "teetering on the brink". Appears to me that every single person who dies these days dies of the C-virus, cause it 'makes news'!

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  18. [18] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Five doublings until Easter. Assuming doubling times remain at current 3 day intervals and fatality rates remain the same, a reasonable prediction is roughly 3 million active cases and 50,000 dead by Easter. Pretty sure the hospitals can't handle the case load, so fatalities may be much higher. Believe me, I really hope I'm overestimating...but I stand by what the numbers tell me.

    Anybody think the pews are going to be loaded with people? Anybody think Trump is going to be in a public pew with real citizens....unless he's wearing a moon suit?

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    What is your country doing to prevent the scenario you outline?

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Let me rephrase that … do you think your country is doing enough so that it will avoid the numbers you project?

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I get that, Don.

    The US and Canada are still reacting to this outbreak in piecemeal fashion.

    When will we finally start being proactive, taking the good advice of Bill Gates and instituting nationwide shelter in place orders for two months with the obvious exceptions for essential services.

    The quarantines that Trump is talking about make no sense whatsoever.

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It was encouraging to hear Governor Cuomo today talk about 50 governors acting as one with regard to purchasing PPE and ventilators. Same with the mandate for hospital systems in the state to come together instead of each hospital acting as individual entities.

    He talked about both of these efforts continuing beyond the plague.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    France has ordered one billion face masks from China.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Do I hear a trillion!?

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    But of course each of us has a personal responsibility in this pandemic. Too many Italians are STILL not following the law. My family members in the U S, who I beg and plead to take COVID-19 seriously, continue to go out to eat and ignore facts. (And not just true-blue Trumpsters, either!)

    That is very concerning.

    I am seeing the opposite here where I live … people smiling but getting out of your way to stay 6 feet apart.

    You are so right our own personal responsibility. People should know better but, many don't. This is where leadership from the top down is essential.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, I think y'all are having way too much fun.

  27. [27] 
    TheStig wrote:


    Not nearly enough.

    EM - 26

    Gates' quarantine in place is a sound idea. Essential personnel in essential professions should be fire walled from other: like water tight compartments in a a breach in one compartment doesn't compromise the entire effort. The states and counties are sort like compartments - our governmental apparatus isn't entirely irrational. Build on what you have and do it quickly.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What I don't understand is why you don't just do what Gates advised - a nation-wide shelter in place order/guideline - and do it for 2 months, at least.

    Isn't that the only way to prevent the spread and ensure the healthcare system doesn't go into overload?

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I mean, at this point when the virus is everywhere, what else could possibly work better?

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Just to be clear, those death panels were for financial institutions that needed to be put out of their misery, and ours. :)

  31. [31] 
    TheStig wrote:

    EM 35-36

    I have read Gates' proposal as presented on his blog and he is very flexible with regards to details such as times, distances and pretty much everything. He's all for expanding mass testing of the public for viral much of it as possible With testing you get a lot of flexibility about defining boundaries.

    I don't think he wants to run a program, he is just advocating distancing as needed.

    I think Gates' primary goal is pour cold water all over Trump's "We have to focus on the economy" nonsense. I think he would like to see Trump as far from the COVID-19 War Room as possible. Maybe a nice golf course in Scotland.

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think Gates is a bit more serious than all of that with regard to what needs to happen now.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, remember, this virus is very likely to come back in a second and more severe wave.

    AS Gates warns, rich countries who do not have a serious shutdown now will likely have to do it all over again in fall/winter, no matter how they may hope that they've stopped the virus.

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    (from the Gaming Out A Future Pandemic column)

    Sorry, Liz, but you could not be more wrong [about testing seeming quaint, at this point]! Testing is the key to defeating this virus.

    Oh, I agree … I just meant 'quaint' in the context of testing without a serious nationwide shutdown and not enough testing kits means the virus is going to spread everywhere and testing, will just confirm that now.

    The virus is so far ahead of any surveillance/testing/containment/mitigation efforts in the US that only a serious national shutdown is going to defeat it.

    Of course, that shouldn't stop the surveillance effort in the meantime, I suppose … but the US doesn't even have a prioritized testing protocol at this late stage!!!

  35. [35] 
    Kick wrote:

    You Make the Call

    Now it's time to play a quick round of that exciting new game show that puts you in a real-life situation and asks: You Make the Call. Anyone can play along... so put on your thinking caps, and off we go.

    The time is early February 2020, and you are a member of the Trump administration. The world and your country is facing a novel caronavirus situation where thousands of people from multiple countries have already lost their lives. In the United States (you have sworn to protect and defend), 11 of your citizens have already tested positive for the disease so you already know the deadly virus is here.

    And now, your mission: You are the Trump Administration tasked with the decision regarding the distribution of medical supplies to fight the impending pandemic... so what do you do? Keep in mind that you are the Trump Administration, and...

    You Make the Call:


    Time's up, contestants... and now let's see how you did.


  36. [36] 
    Kick wrote:

    ... continued

    If you said you donated the medical supplies of the United States to China, you are correct.

    Bonus points if you said you donated 17.8 tons of it.

    The United States Announces Assistance To Combat the Novel Coronavirus



    FEBRUARY 7, 2020

    This week the State Department has facilitated the transportation of nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials. These donations are a testament to the generosity of the American people.

    Today, the United States government is announcing it is prepared to spend up to $100 million in existing funds to assist China and other impacted countries, both directly and through multilateral organizations, to contain and combat the novel coronavirus. This commitment – along with the hundreds of millions generously donated by the American private sector – demonstrates strong U.S. leadership in response to the outbreak.

    This assistance only adds to what the United States has done to strengthen health security programs around the world. For the last 20 years, the United States through USAID has invested over one billion dollars to strengthen the capacity of more than 25 countries to prevent, detect, and respond to existing and emerging infectious disease threats. Since 2015, under our commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), this support has helped improve surveillance and laboratory systems, risk communication, outbreak response, and address the rising threat of anti-microbial resistance.

    The United States is and will remain the world’s most generous donor. We encourage the rest of the world to match our commitment. Working together, we can have a profound impact to contain this growing threat.

    Double bonus points if you said you then blamed the Obama administration for the United States lack of medical supplies.

    Thank you for playing. :)

  37. [37] 
    TheStig wrote:

    COVID trackers seem to be a burgeoning cottage industry, but the John Hopkins version has some nice features and the are particularly nice.

    It looks like the exponential growth rate of confirmed cases in the United States has been declining slightly over the last 9 days....but not by much. We went from near 0 to 120,000 confirmed case in less than 30 days.

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Now, with all of our rants off of our chests, hopefully - it's time to look forward and finally move to get ahead of the virus.

    If governments refuse to take this fight seriously and institute national shutdowns with all the essential exceptions and at the necessary expense of economies, then we all know at an individual level what we need to do.

    It's a scary proposition, nevertheless, when citizens understand how to respond to a pandemic in a more serious manner than their leaders. It certainly doesn't bode well for what we will inherit, beyond the plague.

  39. [39] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Kick [43,44]

    I am curious how many ventilators were sent to China. Trump thought he could keep the virus out of America simply by ignoring it. That might have worked for keeping his daughter Tiffany out of his life, but viruses don’t need or want your attention to thrive.

    We need to institute mandatory blood tests for everyone. It has shocked scientists how many people have been found to have anti-bodies for the virus that never showed any signs of the illness — meaning that we’ve had countless “typhoid Mary’s” (or “COVID Chris’ and Christie’s” to get with the times) walking around infecting people for weeks. It also means that our estimates for how long this virus stays contagious in a person are probably way off!

    So very happy to hear that you are better! That you weren’t able to get tested to confirm if you had it is infuriating! As a person who has suffered from asthma my whole life, this is one illness I am definitely hoping to avoid. Big hugs to you, my friend! Stay well!


  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Issues of testing aside, it's past time for everyone to start behaving as if they are already infected with this novel coronavirus and just stay home.

    Testing protocols should probably be changed to include everyone involved in essential services. But, there aren't even enough tests for that.

    This is what being put behind the eight ball looks like ...

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Don, that last bit is easy … elect Biden for president. :)

    As for the rest of it, I may be confusing the Canadian and American relief packages but aren't people entitled not to go to work in order to protect their health and that of their family members? If not, then that needs to be added to the legislation.

    As individuals we can stop the spread by staying home and following all of the guidelines set out by public health departments. Frankly, I trust the CDC less today than I did a few months ago.

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There's only one, Don.

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    One of us has a bad sense of timing. :)

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speaking of which, has Bernie dropout out of the race, yet?

  45. [45] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    People like you, Don, will be responsible - and held accountable - for re-electing Trump, should that scenario come to pass.

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Sorry, but this calls for the language you do not like.

    There is a time and place for every kind of language, Don. :)

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'll let you know when I think you've figured out where and when that is.

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    As for three Bidens, the thing is that you wouldn't know any of them if they all stepped up separately and slapped you upside the head.

    And, that is why your arguments on this issue all fall down.

  49. [49] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I like Biden just the way he is.

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This is past tedious. And, I have offered you my counter-arguments … based primarily on the timing issue, you will recall. I haven't changed my mind.

  51. [51] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [43] & [44]


    If this is true, what a catastrophic decision!

    Don Harris,

    What does CMP stand for?


    Why have you not come out to play? I don't suppose it's because CW's "Trump botched it big-time" rant is especially irrefutable, is it? I notice you rarely challenge what CW writes. Is that what being a troll is like, just hoping to annoy someone in the comments section rather than addressing the subject (in this case, CW's rant) at hand? Typical Repug, won't answer a direct question. Sigh.

  52. [52] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller,

    Thank you for being, as always, the soft voice of civility. I was born across the river from Windsor, Ontario, and the majority of my North American family tree live in Oh, Canada! If the States don't work out I'd be delighted to live in Canada. Although I live in Southern California I live at 7000' so it's not like I'm afraid of a few feet (6-7 feet and counting this winter) of snow, haha!

  53. [53] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    But using swear words...and cussing 'em out can be so... so...


    I suppose it's no excuse, but we're MEN! Dammit Scotty, self control is not a Hallmark of our gender!

  54. [54] 
    Patrick wrote:

    I hope this brings a smile.

    I live in a small town in Nebraska. Our county has not been affected by the virus. On my way to the gas station yesterday I noticed whole blocks of houses had put their Christmas lights back up. This makes people smile and gets your mind off the pandemic, if only for a while.

    I hope this catches on to other areas.

  55. [55] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It has caught on in my house - you have no idea! :)

    Thanks, Patrick.

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    This one's for you!

    The planet dies... No one cries
    So hard to believe
    If there was somewhere else to go
    You know I'd be the first to leave

    I don't mean to sound ungrateful
    But I'm afraid that I just can't stay

    I had a dream the other night
    And as the dream unfurled
    I took a trip in a rocket ship
    And I found another world

    They told me about their Kaptin
    They'd have to ask him could I stay - I said

    Take me to the Kaptin
    And tell him why I'm here
    I want to stay in your world
    While my world disappears

    I'm not sure if the days of plague are to blame but, I've been revisiting an old favourite Canadian rock band out of Vancouver.

    The band has undergone many changes since their first release in 1977 and they are still performing today, albeit without their gold standard lead singer, Ron Tabak, who left the band in 1981 and subsequently died in a cycling accident in 1984, days before a planned reunion.

    Anyway, here is an audio clip of the tune ...

  57. [57] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    You are SUCH a party pooper. :)

  58. [58] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    It's time for citizens to end the partisan "games" and fix the blame where it belongs- both CMPs and their dependence on big money that put Trump in office to begin with.

    This may come as a veritable shock to you, Don, but not everything going on in the world is related to your failed attempt at political activism.

    Wake up.

    Great idea... you first.

  59. [59] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    While there is no point in playing the game offered here as if I were Trump, I will play as if I were me.

    Oh, shocker... Don Harris is going to take the completely unrelated topic of the Trump administration's decision to send almost 18 tons of personal protection equipment to China and blame others for the shortage we're facing here in the United States and turn that into a discussion about himself... again.

    If you doubt I would have done this and you have the time to LOOK IT UP YOURSELF, you may be able to find the letter to the editor I wrote on this subject many years ago published in the Newark Star-Ledger.

    If you doubt I couldn't care less to discuss Don Harris in regards to a wholly unrelated topic, maybe you can find the multiple years of comments that I, multiple other posters, and even the author of this blog have written on this subject for many years and published right here in the comments section.

    This may come as a shock to you, Don, but:

    Everything isn't about you.

  60. [60] 
    Kick wrote:


    I like that JHU version myself. There are similar versions for multiple states. Example:

    Good to "see" you, TS. :)

  61. [61] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I hope michale is ok. He's in very at risk demographic.

  62. [62] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    So, you live on a mountain? Are you also a caddy? Inquiring minds want to know.

  63. [63] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I've been a bit worried about him, too.

  64. [64] 
    Kick wrote:


    I am curious how many ventilators were sent to China. Trump thought he could keep the virus out of America simply by ignoring it.

    Yep. We discussed it before, and here we go again: Trump cannot con himself out of this virus. While he's obviously not responsible for the virus, he and the right-wing echo chamber and their downplaying of this disease and choruses of "hoax" and bashing of the media and anyone who deigned to try to inform the public regarding the seriousness and the lies too numerous to list... it's downright criminal! The Fox News and right-wing types continue to underestimate the seriousness of this disease, frequently refer to it as a "Democrat hoax" because they have the unfortunate bad sense to believe President Pathological and the Fox News propaganda echoing Trump.

    We need to institute mandatory blood tests for everyone.

    Yes! Or at the very least, the sputum tests they keep claiming there are (what number are they up to now?) ~5 million and everyone who wants a test can get a test (total bollocks).

    So very happy to hear that you are better!

    Thanks, Russ! I just wish I knew whether or not I already had it. We were exposed to a person they wouldn't test, and they wouldn't test us either; however, we all did test negative for flu. We had the vast majority of symptoms, but none of us could prove we had been around a person who tested positive for the C-19. Fast forward to last week, I was finally informed I had been exposed to a person who actually did get a test that came back positive for C-19, but now I'm not sick and therefore the sputum test would likely be useless. Like you said, we definitely need the blood testing wherein we could make sure we had the antibodies and be put on the front lines helping instead of sheltering in place. We could donate blood with antibodies too! It's so frustrating.

    That you weren’t able to get tested to confirm if you had it is infuriating!

    You know it!

    As a person who has suffered from asthma my whole life, this is one illness I am definitely hoping to avoid.

    I'm sure I don't have to tell you, but you being in contact with a first responder puts you at greater risk. You absolutely must avoid getting this crud if you have asthma.

    Big hugs to you, my friend! Stay well!

    Hugs right back at you and yours, and I better hear from you that y'all are staying well. :)

  65. [65] 
    TheStig wrote:

    From the Guardian:

    "Trump says keeping US Covid-19 deaths to 100,000 would be a ‘very good job’

    President extends social distancing rules to 30 April, saying open for Easter plans were only ‘aspirational’"

    Trump treats COVID-19 like he plays golf - he moves the ball if thinks you aren't looking.

    As of 8am today there are 142,000 open cases in the USA. Approximately 35% of open cases have resulted in patient death to date. It's reasonable to expect about 50,000 deaths are still in the pipe line as of today...and growing exponentially every day. It is still 12 more days to Easter Sunday.

  66. [66] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    It's very important to refrain from adding to the dissemination of bad information.

    Where are you getting that 35% figure?

  67. [67] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I just took a quick look at DU and say just one reply.

    It said more than a hundred or more ever could and not a word was written.

    So sad ...

  68. [68] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Liz 93 Happy to oblige.

    I use three web sites for collecting raw data. I think I have posted all them on before , but to consolidate:

    All three sites are gathering data from automated internet searches of public health sites around the world. At any given time their numbers are virtually identical. The reason I use three is that each has little features I like: better mapping, superior data plotting, one has what amounts to a moderated discussion section among health care professionals.

    None of the sites currently compute estimated mortality of the virus. The WorldOMeter site used to do so, and I crossed checked my computations against them to validate what I was doing *. WorldOMeter still had a section devoted to the math behind estimating mortality rates DURING an epidemic...I think it's still buried there somewhere - but haven't checked and it's a bit hard to navigate.

    The most important rule is to only include closed cases in your mortality analysis. A closed case is one where a patient is known to have had the disease and either lived or died from it. An open case is one where the patient is known to have contracted the disease, but has not yet died or recovered. Hospitals etc keep track of this stuff. During the early exponential phase of an epidemic, the fate of most patients is still open, you don't know if they will live or die.

    If you assume all the open cases will recover, than you dramatically underestimate projections of mortality. This what many early reports of COVID-19 in the US were doing. They were projecting 2% mortality when the unbiased rate was more in the range of 30-40%. That may comforting, but it is not realistic. Trump and Trump supporters really latched onto it though...

    This 2% low ball was actually pretty close to what China reported. Except China really did have a very low mortality rate compared to nearly everywhere else, and they were doing their computations correctly! By the way, China runs the WorldOMeter site. It checks out against other sources of info around the globe.

    * My profession uses the same math, so I'm pretty comfortable with it.

  69. [69] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I guess I got a bit wordy. :) Awaiting moderation.

  70. [70] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Oh...posted three links. Been away for while.

  71. [71] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Watch those links!

  72. [72] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You may have to re-post in multiple parts … one link per part … one link only … :)

  73. [73] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Nah, I just copied them from my bookmarks and forgot to disarm them.

  74. [74] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, don't keep me in suspense for too long ...

  75. [75] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Thanks for taking the time to post that. I'm quite familiar with your first and second links.

    Unfortunately, I'm still wondering where you got the figure of a 35 % mortality rate!?

  76. [76] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Damn … hit submit instead of preview … I got more!

    So, these mortality rates are based on closed cases. But, doesn't that give you an over-estimate, inherently.

    Sorry, but this just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

  77. [77] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    While it's infinitely easier to get defensive rather than introspective, the paragraphs you're taking issue with are an accurate depiction of you and your modus operandi, and to that I would simply add:

    You're a wee small piss-ant in New Jersey taking issue with a dead on balls accurate description of your multiple years of attempts to turn nearly every totally unrelated issue on this forum into a discussion about yourself and your own personal obsession. You are so persuaded that your personal chosen course of action is special/unique/optimal that you therefore routinely blandly dismiss the opinions and counterarguments of others as flawed or unsuitable. After countless years of the same dynamic performed ad nauseam, you still seem to be expecting some sort of surreal success from following these methods of yours that have repeatedly failed.

  78. [78] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Don means well and, his heart is in the right place.

  79. [79] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    New column up!

  80. [80] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    Don means well and, his heart is in the right place.

    I "mean well" too so I hope you'll get on board defending me and the ginormous blood-pumping nucleus of my circulatory system as we attempt to shine a little introspective light onto the board trolling conversational narcissist attempting to hijack and devolve near every subject of political commentary into a discussion about himself and his obsession, creating an infinite number of chances for him to monologue about a topic he's interested in: Don Harris.

    In the alternative, I will be happy to join Don Harris in similar author-trolling exertions that would make his "big money" repetitive verbal diarrhea seem infinitesimally small: You Make the Call.

  81. [81] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  82. [82] 
    Kick wrote:

    Why are you commenting on an old thread?

  83. [83] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    For old times sake, you might say. :)

  84. [84] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You see, I was lambasted and slapped upside the head - figuratively speaking, of course - on many more than one occasion, no less, for distracting the owner of a blog that no longer exists, sadly, in its original form, that is … if you know what I mean, and I'm sure that you don't.

  85. [85] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    "Slapped upside the head," were you? That would explain lots of things. *grin*

    Lighten up, Liz. All that taking it upon yourself to play board mother and determine/pronounce whose heart is in the right place has obviously taken its toll. You should allow yourself to stop doing it; although I'm sure you believe you mean well.

  86. [86] 
    TheStig wrote:


    It is: Mortality = deaths/(recovered+deaths)

    In other words the closed case population. During the early stages of an epidemic the number of open cases is much larger than the recovered cases.

    Early in the US epidemic many news outlets reported
    death rates as: Mortality = deaths/total cases.

    This mixes open and closed cases. It assumes nobody in the open cases is going to die! It dramatically underestimates mortality during the exponential phase of an outbreak - creating a lag effect.

    By coincidence the flawed popular press US estimate of around 2% closely matched the Chinese estimate which was computed correctly (WorldOMeter is a Chinese site). Early on, WorldOMeter showed the computation. I don't know why they stopped doing so.

    The US is finally catching a bit of a break: the US exponential growth rate has been slowly but steadily declining over the last 10 days or so. You can see this at the Johns Hopkins site if you select the exponential view option.

    The break may be temporary - New York and New Jersey were early hot spots and the rest of the US population is in its early exponential phase.

  87. [87] 
    TheStig wrote:


    Example from the Johns Hopkins website: 8:00 am Eastern Time

    Total confirmed cases: 164610
    Total deaths:3170
    Total recovered:5945

    Number of open cases = 164610-(3170+5945)=155495
    Number of closed cases = (3170 + 5945) = 9115

    Only 5% of confirmed are closed cases. In 95% of the cases we don't know if the patient is going to recover or die.

    Percent Mortality in closed cases = 3170/9115=.348

    Percent Mortality in closed + open cases = 3170/155495 = .020 or 2%

    Hey what a Co-ink-dink! That is close to the correctly computed Chinese Estimate! The US is doing as well as China. Nothing to worry about.


  88. [88] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are you trying hard to be, ah, funny or does it come pretty much naturally for you!?

    Now explain your percent mortality in closed + open cases = 35%.

    You know what, TS? Don't bother.

  89. [89] 
    TheStig wrote:

    .348 is 34.8% Sorry to bother you. I didn't convert it to percent. Should be clear from the context, but you're right, I should been consistent. I don't have an editor handy.

    The method is well accepted in the public health community. It's in text books. It is not perfect. It assumes the likelihood of dying from a disease is relatively constant over the sample period. You can test this assumption by breaking your analysis into smaller time fragments but it won't buy you much this early in the epidemic. It uses up too many degrees of freedom and I'm not going to bother to explain that to you.

    For a Canadian you are awfully twitchy.

  90. [90] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You mean, you don't know me by now?

  91. [91] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    For the record, I'm done with this old thread. :)

  92. [92] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Why Elizabeth, thank you! Prism, eh?

    I've lived in the San Bernardino mountains since 1985.

    I'm originally from Dee-troit, the Motor City.

    I picked up the nickname "Cadillac" at Army Basic Training because my last name rhymes with Cadillac.

  93. [93] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm getting a strong sense of deja vu. :)

  94. [94] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that, over the course of the next several months worth of FTPs, Biden will be the unworthy recipient of more than one MDDOTW award for his alleged sexual whatever and will be just one more reminder of the hypersensitization - no, make that the original FEMINIZATION of America.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  95. [95] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oops … wrong thread!

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