This is an archive of the March entries for the Covid19 news feed. You may return to the current page here.
From The Atlantic: about the high drama of border closings | Added March 31
We were just sent this piece from The Atlantic.
That same day, we called our college-freshman son in the United States and told him to get to the airport. He had been planning to stay with friends and family after his university closed. Instead, we gave him 30 minutes’ notice to get on one of the last flights to London, connecting to one of the last flights to Berlin. By the time he landed in Europe on Sunday, Poland had shut its borders to all public transportation. He took a train from Berlin to Frankfurt an der Oder, a town at the Polish-German border. Then he got out and walked across, carrying his luggage, as if in a Cold War movie about a spy exchange. He saw roadblocks, soldiers with guns, men in hazmat suits taking temperatures. My husband picked him up on the other side.
Personal thoughts | Added March 31
We’ve been doing this blog for four weeks today. There’s a team of about seven people behind this content stream, plus all of you who are writing in to contribute your suggestions and your thoughts. Thank you. It’s been really, really weird being so totally immersed in this, evaluating every scrap of news, science and political speech.
To those Planet Waves customers waiting for your RESPECT written readings or your chart key readings, thank you for your patience. I’m sorry. I would rather have been doing your astrology. It’s more fun than dealing with abject evil.
Downward Revision of Death Estimates
Much of the news we’ve been tracking today is an extension of what we reported in the morning. I am still wrapping my mind around what is revealed in the CDC document and the FDA document, which state that presence of the virus is not proof of infection, that the virus may not be a vector, and that there may be some other vectors.
One of our top investigative reporters, Samuel Dean, has been busy today constructing a timeline associated with the novel coronavirus test. He made a lot of progress, and I suggested he take his time.
Given what has been done to the world on the basis of a supposedly irrefutable straight line between virus -> transmission -> infection -> death, with no possible variance, this is all the more astonishing. I am troubled that this is now irrefutable orthodoxy. The scenes of death and devastation would seem to justify two government agencies admitting that what everyone thinks is going on may in fact not be going on — not the way we are told, anyway.
I still recommend honoring the precautionary principle and assuming that this is a transmissible disease. Please take all of your usual precautions. Take care of yourself. And — keep your mind and your senses engaged. Give up your freedom only under duress. Do not do so willingly. While there are bad situations some places, we are being lied to.
One week ago, at the Aries New Moon, I figured out that I had been duped. This was not an intellectual observation. It was a revelation.
It was as if something split open and I could see through the facade. I am aware that people are sick and some are dying. I am aware that New York City hospitals, and those in other urban areas, are a mess. I am aware something is afoot. The question is what. We do not know.
The Need to Justify Their Actions
The pandemic in the United States is now at the stage where government officials must justify their actions. They need to justify keeping everyone inside and apart for another month or more. They need to justify shutting down the economy, the baseball season, the basketball season and every college, university, school system and shopping mall.
Let’s remember that this is the day that we were promised by Pres. Trump that from 100,000 up to 240,000 Americans would die. Mark your calendar: March 31, 2020.
That by the way is a rewrite of the original projection, which said that a minimum of 30% or 40% would catch the virus and that 3% of them would die. That’s about a third of the country — let’s say 100,000,000 people who were going to get infected. Therefore, 3% would be 3,000,000 people dead — on the low side. On the high side, we would need to double that — more than 6,000,000 dead (potentially more) — in the United States alone.
That was the original promise that got us into this.
Today, this was revised to between 100,000 and 240,000 — shocking but greatly scaled back estimates. Any loss of life is tragic, and my training in Holocaust studies says to think of the individual, not the statistic. Yet the statistic is what’s being used against us now, to make sure that we willingly give up our freedom of movement, and our economic ability, which for many is the privilege of buying food for their children.
Plenty of people, otherwise unaffected by a virus or whatever this is, are going to go to bed hungry night after night, when they had food before. Some people who took 20 years to build a business, or families that took generations, will lose everything. Broadway shows it took a decade to create will vanish like they never existed.
Now, let’s see for what.
It’s Tuesday all day | Added March 31
Hello from Kingston, the first capital of New York State.
Here’s a scan of this morning’s headlines. The United States is expected to release unsettling statistical models for how many people are expected to die of coronavirus.
Even if all of the social distancing guidelines are followed “perfectly,” said White House advisor Dr. Deborah Birx, the death toll in the nation could reach 100,000 to 200,000. Normally, about 7,500 people a day die in the U.S. Note that it remains to be seen what will actually happen. Epidemics do not have limitless momentum; nothing does.
Note that the fear of a high death toll is necessary to maintain the lockdown.
Tomorrow is the 1st of the month. That means that for millions of unemployed Americans, the rent and many bills are due. I have not seen unemployment statistics past the initial 3 million from a week and a half ago.
STAT News has published an article describing how the ending the United States lockdown could be accomplished. “Both road maps are predicated on the United States sharply ramping up testing for the disease and hospitals acquiring sufficient supplies at a time of extraordinary global demand and growing shortages — both of personal protective equipment to shield health workers from infection and ventilators to help the gravely ill to survive.”
There are Problems with the U.S. Test — And With the Virus as a Vector
Speaking of testing, several of our reporters are digging into the documents footnoted in this blog post. The post analyzes admissions in government documents that the coronavirus test being used in the United States is not accurate. These same documents admit that the virus may not even be the cause of COVID-19 disease.
Taken in summary, these documents admit that whether the test result is negative or positive does not determine anything — and that there may be other disease vectors. I recommend honoring the precautionary principle in the face of missing information.
According to a CDC document pertaining to the only test being used in the United States, “Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms.”
Translation: A positive test doesn’t guarantee that the COVID virus is causing infection at all. A positive test does not indicate that the virus is in the patient’s body, either.
Similarly, according to one FDA document, “Positive results are indicative of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA; clinical correlation with patient history and other diagnostic information is necessary to determine patient infection status.”
In other words, presence of the virus does not determine patient infection status. Said another way, the results are meaningless. Note, some are objecting to my use of the word “meaningless,” to which I would say, OK, let’s say someone has a positive test. What does that mean? It means they may or may not be infected with SARS-CoV2, and that they may or may not be contagious. In what sense of the word “meaning” is that information meaningful?
The FDA document continues, “Positive results do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”
Meditate on this for a moment, Grasshopper. Did I just read the words bacterial infection?
Presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA is not necessarily the cause of disease. That however is why you are washing your hands, wearing a mask, not going to Little League practice, and standing six feet away from everyone. The language implies that some other agent may be the cause of the disease. That suggests the killer is still at-large. Is anyone looking for it? Do we have any idea what it may be?
Further, “Negative results do not preclude SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.”
In other words, people who test negative does not rule out infection. That requires confirmation by “clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.” It’s another way of saying the results are meaningless.
Note, these are government documents from CDC and the FDA. If you are tracking this issue, please contact us. For Planet Waves coverage on how the FDA historically functions, here is an article you may find enlightening.
COVID-19 as World War | Added March 30
Our friend Andrew McLuhan has written this article on Covid-19 as world war. Here’s a quote from the top:
COVID-19 is, in effect, World War III (or later) in terms of the level of innovation we’re seeing. Almost every aspect of society is faced with significant challenges, forced to adjust, to adapt.
We are in a period of change equal to the introduction of smartphones and high speed mobile internet, and the lasting effects will be as great. There will be no return to normal, only new norms. It will surely be a matter of pre- and post-COVID-19.
Wartime is always a period of maximal innovation and growth. In response to extreme threat, governments remove many of the usual barriers, relaxing regulations and throwing money at research and development.
The result is a frenzy of activity and innovation across all sectors as, on the one hand, an arms race is on to keep technologically ahead of the enemy, offensively and defensively; and on the other hand, efficiencies are sought to conserve resources. In both cases, we respond with novelty, innovation, as we seek to do new thinks, to do more with less.
Monsanto, BASF predicted farm failure from their new “crop systems” and hoped to “stay out of jail” | Added March 30
On yesterday’s Planet Waves FM, in the third segment I gave a long rant about Roundup and GMO seed systems. Our environmental desk has just sent this around:
The Guardian is reporting: The US agriculture giant Monsanto and the German chemical giant BASF were aware for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would probably lead to damage on many US farms, internal documents seen by the Guardian show.
Risks were downplayed even while they planned how to profit off farmers who would buy Monsanto’s new seeds just to avoid damage, according to documents unearthed during a recent successful $265m lawsuit brought against both firms by a Missouri farmer.
The documents, some of which date back more than a decade, also reveal how Monsanto opposed some third-party product testing in order to curtail the generation of data that might have worried regulators.
And in some of the internal BASF emails, employees appear to joke about sharing “voodoo science” and hoping to stay “out of jail”.
The new crop system developed by Monsanto and BASF was designed to address the fact that millions of acres of US farmland have become overrun with weeds resistant to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, best known as Roundup. The collaboration between the two companies was built around a different herbicide called dicamba.
Hello, it’s Monday morning | Added March 30
Welcome to another week of the New Weird. USNS Comfort has arrived in New York City, with its 1,000 hospital rooms and 100 operating rooms. This is designed to take some stress off of the existing hospital system. From what I understand, patients other than COVID-19 are going to be moved there, taking some stress off of the hospital system in New York City, which is about to buckle.
Pres. Trump has extended social restrictions for one full month. In the words of the Old Gray Lady: “Americans were told to avoid nonessential travel and gatherings of more than 10 people until at least April 30.”
We are hearing from our Asian Affairs Bureau Chief (Lanvi, who takes all those gorgeous photos [mostly of Asia] you see on our website), things are up and running again in China, and all travel restrictions have been lifted. She says that life is going back to normal “as if nothing happened,” based on correspondence with her friends there (she used to work for Abercrombie in China).
No travel bans except that authorities are monitoring people coming into the country so as not to re-spread the virus, which can apparently re-spread.
China facing economic shock from the rest of the world
Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post is reporting: China’s industrial engine is set for another economic shock, as coronavirus lockdowns around the world hit export demand.
China’s economic situation could get worse before it gets better, amid a second wave of demand shock that is set to hit both domestic and foreign trade, a Chinese government official has warned.
Addressing a press conference in Beijing on Monday, the day after President Xi Jinping toured businesses in Zhejiang province, vice-minister of industry and information technology Xin Guobin delivered a candid and downbeat assessment of the economy, in a subtle break from recent optimistic rhetoric about economic recovery.
“With the further spread of the international epidemic, China’s foreign trade situation may further deteriorate,” Xin said. “Overseas and domestic demand are both slumping, having a significant impact on some export-oriented companies. These companies might face a struggle to survive.”
Covid-19 is showing us that when humanity is united in common cause, phenomenally rapid change is possible. None of the world’s problems are technically difficult to solve; they originate in human disagreement. In coherency, humanity’s creative powers are boundless. A few months ago, a proposal to halt commercial air travel would have seemed preposterous. Likewise for the radical changes we are making in our social behavior, economy, and the role of government in our lives. Covid demonstrates the power of our collective will when we agree on what is important. What else might we achieve, in coherency? What do we want to achieve, and what world shall we create? That is always the next question when anyone awakens to their power.
More about the mystery gastrointestinal illness in Oregon last year (graphic description):
“I was listening to Planet Waves tonight and you mentioned that some people, last fall, in western Oregon had severe gastrointestinal problems that came on suddenly. I believe I was one of those people. I am normally healthy, seldom get a cold, and can’t remember when I last had the flu, but last September 25, 2019 at about 8:30 in the morning after feeling my normal self at work I started getting nauseous, my stomach started growling, and I developed severe diarrhea. I made my way to the a restroom vomited, and had diarrhea for 45 minutes. I also had severe abdominal and lower back cramps. I was so weak I couldn’t stand up so I waited until I could force myself to stand. I just wanted to lay down so I left the stall hoping to lay on the carpet in the hallway, but I was so weak I just layed on the bathroom floor and radioed for help, I carry carry radio as part of my job as a data center engineer. When my boss arrived he immediately called 911. I was laying on the floor shaking uncontrollably. When the EMTs arrived I was still shaking, but feeling stronger so I opted not to take the ambulance because of the cost, instead I called my wife who took me to the ER at Kaiser Sunnyside. I was still shaking in the ER with intense back pain and stomach cramps. A nurse gave me something help my nausea. After a hour or so I saw a doctor who ordered blood work to check my organs for various problems. The found nothing, told me I had a bug and released me. It took about 3 days before I regained my strength and felt normal. I have no complaints about the hospital except I wanted a better answer. Which is the reason I am emailing you. It was just to damn weird I felt as though I had been treated to some black magic or something because it came so quick, was so disabling, and then went away, and the answer was “must have been a bug”. It just fits the description of the illness you mentioned so if you have any more information or know someone here in Oregon that may have had the same thing I be interested in contacting them.”
Department of Interior moves on Mashpee Wampanoag land | Added March 29
From the official tribal website: Mashpee Wampanoag tribal chair: “At 4:00 pm today — on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic — the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished & that our land be taken out of trust. Not since the termination era of the mid-20th century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation.”
Mashpee tribal chair: “These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always.“
“We the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago.”
Fauci warns US death toll could be 200K | Added March 29
Here is The Wall St. Journal’s version of this story: The top U.S. infectious disease official warned Sunday that the new coronavirus could kill up to 200,000 Americans and sicken millions, as federal authorities issued more urgent warnings about limiting travel between New York and surrounding states.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a new federal advisory announced Saturday night urging New York City area residents not to travel to other states would help slow the virus’s spread. But he said projections he has examined showed the disease would kill between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans and infect far more, “looking at what we’re seeing now.”
He called worst-case scenario projections of more than a million U.S. deaths “very, very unlikely” and said any estimate could easily turn out to be wrong. He said he was certain that the number of confirmed infections would rise from the current figure of 125,000 cases reported by Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re going to have millions of cases,” Dr. Fauci said on CNN’s State of the Union program. He said infection rates would begin rising outside of New York soon.
“We have a very difficult problem here,” he said. “We’re going to see places like Detroit and other cities starting to get into trouble.”
The U.S. death toll from the Covid-19 disease caused by the new virus reached 2,191 on Sunday, reaching nearly 700 in New York City, the American epicenter of the pandemic, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins. Globally the death toll quintupled over the past two weeks to 30,852 on Sunday, with more than two-thirds of the fatalities in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins. Deaths reached nearly 10,800 in Italy.
Right wing-nut lunatic fringe turns on Fauci | Added March 29
From Saturday’s New York Times: At a White House briefing on the coronavirus on March 20, President Trump called the State Department the “Deep State Department.” Behind him, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dropped his head and rubbed his forehead.
Some thought Dr. Fauci was slighting the president, leading to a vitriolic online reaction. On Twitter and Facebook, a post that falsely claimed he was part of a secret cabal who opposed Mr. Trump was soon shared thousands of times, reaching roughly 1.5 million people.
A week later, Dr. Fauci — the administration’s most outspoken advocate of emergency measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak — has become the target of an online conspiracy theory that he is mobilizing to undermine the president.
That fanciful claim has spread across social media, fanned by a right-wing chorus of Mr. Trump’s supporters, even as Dr. Fauci has won a public following for his willingness to contradict the president and correct falsehoods and overly rosy pronouncements about containing the virus.
We keep hearing about Event 201 | Added March 29
Data on this has come through my inbox a dozen times. Anyone who says this took us all by surprise is clueless or lying. Here’s an article from December, and here is a long quote:
The horrors associated with a worldwide pandemic are arguably unimaginable. However, thanks to a team of experts at the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University we don’t have to dream up doomsday scenarios. And, hopefully, because of their enterprising work—including the staging of global preparedness exercises—we may be better able to respond to eventualities such as a worldwide epidemic of an infectious disease.
“Our exercises are primarily educational tools,” Eric Toner, MD, senior scholar with the Center for Health Security and a Senior Scientist in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, told Contagion®. “One of things we try to demonstrate through these exercises are economic and societal consequences, as well as the public health consequences, of a severe pandemic. We want to show policymakers, business leaders, and global public health organizations that a severe pandemic may be as disruptive to a country as a national security event can be.”
For its most recent “exercise,” called Event 201 which was held in New York City in October, the Center for Health Security partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to engage 15 leaders in business, government, and public health to model response to a worldwide coronavirus pandemic. At the start of the exercise, the world was 3 months in, and there were already more than 500,000 cases globally.
By its end, worldwide leaders were faced with a pandemic that involved more than 10 million cases, with the disease spreading rapidly through low-income districts of “mega-cities” around the world. Governments had issued travel bans, crippling the global travel and tourism industries. Thanks to these and other factors, the global economy was in “freefall,” with financial markets in tatters.
Of course, this was a worst-case scenario—but, sadly and most concerning, it is all too realistic. According to Toner, we only need think back less than 20 years, to events such as the 2003 SARS or the 2005 H5N1 bird flu outbreaks, or the influenza pandemic in 2009 to see the potential for global catastrophe. During Event 201, as in these real-world cases, the challenges included resolving the economic issues while ensuring health care services—and antivirals—were available and accessible to those who needed them.
Silent Spring — and Summer, Autumn and Winter | Added March 28
By ERIC FRANCIS
We who write about the environment invest a lot of energy into convincing people to care, or trying to. It’s not easy, it rarely works, and it’s a good way to make enemies (and not such a good way to get writing gigs). That’s because our job is to describe invisible threats that would be extremely inconvenient and expensive to respond to, and which most people seem willing to live with. Solving the problems is a threat to our way of life.
We have to talk about extremely unpleasant possibilities, like nuclear meltdowns near major metropolitan areas. We have to remind people they’re still imbibing bits of Chernobyl in their Turkish figs and dates. We know things that make eating tacos extremely unpleasant, and that would make you never want to go out for sushi again.
It’s easier not to care, and some would say that denial is an essential survival mechanism. Everyone who writes about environmental issues is confronted by this barrier. At some point (maybe usually), environmental writers feel like others perceive us as claiming that the sky is falling.
To do this work, one risks arrest, excommunication, being accused of anything whatsoever, having one’s brake line cut, and getting one’s house and documents burned down. Speak up about an environmental problem and you can be made into an enemy of the people.
Report of mystery respiratory illness in Virginia in summer 2019 | Added March 27
Our friend Loraine Hutchins found this in the Washington Post, from July 17, 2019. Three people are said to have died; 17 samples were taken. I imagine some or all of them were split and frozen for future analysis. We might check and see if these test positive for Sars-2 corona.
Note from Oregon
Now, our editor Carol van Strum (near Salem, OR) has sent this to our editors’ list: “Here also we had a mystery illness last fall — it started with absolutely no warning at all, suddenly a person would be violently sick to its stomach, vomiting with diarrhea and passing out between vomits, two people had this happen while driving and one had a luckily minor accident driving into a ditch. Two were hospitalized overnight and given IVs and anti-nausea drugs, another waited it out at home. All three (one was myself) were neighbors who cared for the first one; the others occurred at one-month intervals. We were never told if samples were taken or what the cause was, though I heard of other cases in the county. We may have had other symptoms but the gut violence overshadowed everything.
“The second mystery illness started in December/January with a 6-year-old girl in Portland who had a cough, high fever, and was hospitalized for pneumonia and given antibiotics. She seemed recovered a week or so later and visited her grandmother, a friend near here. While there, the child had a relapse and ended up back in hospital; a week or two later the grandmother came down with it, a virulent cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. I don’t know if she saw a doctor, as a retired R.N. she apparently didn’t think it serious enough, but it took her almost three weeks to recover.”
Note from a contact in Alfred, N.Y.
“We had a respiratory infection of some kind going around the Alfred area in early to mid-January. I had it for about 10 days starting the second week of January and felt dragged out for another week.
“It was very unlike anything I’ve had before. The symptoms I had, and then my wife, were quite similar to what is being described now. We know several other people who had something similar. A couple of friends visited their daughter and her family in Washington, DC about the same time. Our doctor said he had a number of other patients who were asking if it could have been the virus. He said he’d order antibody tests when they were available.”
At least eight strains of coronavirus are roaming the globe | Added March 27
SAN FRANCISCO — At least eight strains of the coronavirus are making their way around the globe, creating a trail of death and disease that scientists are tracking by their genetic footprints.
While much is unknown, hidden in the virus’s unique microscopic fragments are clues to the origins of its original strain, how it behaves as it mutates and which strains are turning into conflagrations while others are dying out thanks to quarantine measures.
Huddled in once bustling and now almost empty labs, researchers who oversaw dozens of projects are instead focused on one goal: tracking the current strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that cause the illness COVID-19.
Labs around the world are turning their sequencing machines, most about the size of a desktop printer, to the task of rapidly sequencing the genomes of virus samples taken from people sick with COVID-19. The information is uploaded to a website called NextStrain.org that shows how the virus is migrating and splitting into similar but new subtypes.
Investigation into possible early Italy cases | Added March 27
Reuters is reporting that Italian authorities are investigating possible early cases in Italy, back to last quarter 2019. We have been hearing quite a lot of this (not just in Italy but UK, New York area, Hawaii and elsewhere) through anecdotal reports even from our our own readers. Were samples of these patients saved? Probably not. Note, the earliest HIV/AIDS case is now known to have been in Chicago in 1968 — 14 years before “Gay Related Immune Dysfunction” or GRID, was discovered. Doctors attending that early case saved samples on that patient because his syndrome was so weird. Was there anything remarkable about early Covid-19 cases? I guess all we need is one sample from one of those patients last fall.
I have prepared a list of suggestions for how to handle yourself, your family and your small business in a crisis.
Good morning! | Added March 27
I am on monthly horoscope duty today. I’ll post a few new bits when I get a chance, though I’ve seen this about U.S. troops being ‘infected’ and non-critical training being suspended; I’m tracking this issue of a British virologist walking back his infection estimate (there are a few sides to that story — here is another one); and this video by Thomas Cowan MD, discussing and dismantling the many problems with the early science and the whole virus theory. Cowan says that a causal link between the novel coronavirus and the Covid-19 disease has never been established — not even close. This is not about conspiracies, it’s a critique of the published science that the world is depending upon to do things like shut every cafe between Los Angeles and Kyiv. Meanwhile, per this NY Times daily summary, Boris Johnson has “it,” there may be a delay in the $2T house vote; and de Blasio has proposed that New York city may stay shut for two more months.
OK, now to finish the monthly horoscope and write the lead, all of which I expect to be out by noon Saturday Eastern Time.
I have prepared a list of suggestions for how to handle yourself, your family and your small business in a crisis.
Report: hospitals consider blanket DNR orders for Covid-19 patients | Added March 26
Note, this is based on a Washington Post report. We are checking with our own sources to confirm the extent of this situation. Thank you Spencer for this write up:
According to the Washington Post, there is a discussion taking place at a number of hospitals across the country on whether or not to instate a blanket order of do-not-resuscitate at their individual institutions.
The crux of the issue, as the article describes, is that health care workers are put at great risk when a coronavirus patient “codes” (i.e. their heart or breathing stops) and they need to be resuscitated. The risk stems from the lack of personal protective equipment, and, as an anonymous ICU physician in the Midwest is quoted as saying, “It’s extremely dangerous in terms of infection risk because it involves multiple bodily fluids.”
Another issue is the number of health care workers who respond for resuscitation “When a code blue alarm is activated, it signals that a patient has gone into cardiopulmonary arrest and typically all available personnel — usually somewhere around eight but sometimes as many as 30 people — rush into the room to begin live-saving procedures without which the person would almost certainly perish.”
In response, The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, is limiting the number of responders to coronavirus patients who code. Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital has been “discussing a do-not-resuscitate policy for infected patients, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family members.”
And Atrium Health, Geisinger, and regional Kaiser Permanente networks “are looking at guidelines that would allow doctors to override the wishes of the coronavirus patient or family members on a case-by-case basis due to the risk to doctors and nurses, or a shortage of protective equipment” but do not intend to “[impose] a do-not-resuscitate order on every coronavirus patient.”
I have prepared a list of suggestions for how to handle yourself, your family and your small business in a crisis.
Questions about virus origins | Added March 26
I am particularly interested in “virus origin” stories. I continue to hear numerous reports of early cases, particularly around late December before any were reported outside of China. We have been seeing a good bit about the 5G rollout as well, which means the electrical / EMF connection. Keep those cards and letters coming.
Here’s an interesting read from The Conservative Review: A mortality rate of 0.75% would still be three times higher than H1N1, which is very serious, but does it warrant a nationwide shutdown indefinitely, with governors closing school for the remainder of the year and others, like Gov. Cuomo, taking about this going on for nine months?
Given the evidence in front of us on the mortality rate, the fact that so many more likely have had it or were exposed to it, and the fact that the Asian countries are already getting over the worst of it, why would we continue destroying our economy without studying more data? Why pass bankrupting legislation presupposing such a long-term shutdown? Even in Italy, the virus is showing signs of peaking after four weeks.
Shouldn’t this be the top debate item in Congress, given that the truth behind these questions will determine our needed fiscal response? Let’s face it, either way, Congress’ proposals will bankrupt us, but if our governments continue demanding indefinite lockdown, no amount of money in the world could solve this problem.
What about Italy? Why is its mortality rate so high? Some have suggested that it’s due to the high elderly population, but that doesn’t explain why the Diamond Princess had elderly mortality rates in line with the rest of the world. I don’t have the answer to that, but a plausible theory has been offered by Prof. Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health, that Italy is overcounting deaths.
“On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” said Ricciardi, according to the U.K. Telegraph.
Thursday morning update | Added March 26
One of our readers sent in this virus handy disinfo source tracker. We have reposted stuff from Zerohedge, said to have a pro-Russia bias; we’ll be cautious in the future. I was surprised to see The Epoch Times get such a good review. Please let us know if you have information contradicting the assessments on this evaluation. Thank you.
From The New York Times: Empty slots and high turnover have left parts of the federal government unprepared and ill equipped for what may be the largest public health crisis in a century, said numerous former and current federal officials and disaster experts.
From the Daily News: 3.28 million file for unemployment, blowing away the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982 — that was after the prior Saturn-Pluto conjunction at the dawn of the Reagan era, by the way. The Dow jumped 500 points, beginning to recover from its three-year low. Saturn-Pluto events tend to represent contractions in the economy. But be cautious as they also represent reactionary, conservative political movements.
After Mardi Gras, New Orleans is facing a particularly deadly outbreak. According to one study, Louisiana, with nearly 1,800 cases as of Thursday morning, is experiencing the fastest growth in new cases in the world; Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Tuesday that the current trajectory of case growth in Louisiana was similar to those in Spain and Italy. This week, President Trump approved the governor’s request for a major disaster declaration, which unlocks additional federal funding to combat the outbreak.
The Washington Post is publishing a useful news roundup page. Much of the world’s population is now living under some sort of pandemic-related restrictions as the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide approaches 500,000. The death toll in Spain continues to surge, with 655 additional fatalities reported Thursday. More than 4,000 people have been killed by the novel coronavirus in Spain; only Italy has recorded more deaths during the outbreak. Nearly 1,000 people in the United States have died from complications of the virus, according to tracking by The Washington Post.
Hospitals in hot spots | Added March 26
Here is a bit of The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of hospitals in hot spots: Hospitals in U.S. pandemic epicenters have passed a tipping point in the fight against the new coronavirus as the relentless climb in infections forces some to move patients to outlying facilities, divert ambulances and store bodies in a refrigerated truck.
New York, home to the nation’s largest outbreak of Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, is rushing to build a temporary hospital in a Manhattan conference center in the hope of staying ahead of the fast-spreading disease.
Hospitals in parts of New York City have become so full of critically ill patients that they have steered ambulances elsewhere. The full-to-capacity morgue at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens is using a refrigerated truck to hold some of the dead. Thirteen people died in the hospital in the last 24 hours, said NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates Elmhurst.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that hospitalization rates are showing signs of slowing, but he cited a continued rise in the rate of infection. In the Seattle area, where the West Coast’s largest outbreak has claimed 94 lives, according to Johns Hopkins University data, hospitals are transferring patients to where beds are available.
What the hell is going on with coronavirus testing in the U.S.? | Added March 25
Technology Review writes: Coronavirus symptoms share a very large overlap with what you’d expect from the common cold or the flu. So if you go to your doctor or the local clinic to get checked out, it would seem to make sense that health staff would want to test you for Covid-19.
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test,” World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters March 16. “Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too.”
I’ve added this video, which teaches about how the mathematical epidemiology models work | March 25
Seasonal flu shot may increase risk of other respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 | Added March 25
The National Institutes of Health has published a paper saying the flu shot may increase the risk of other respiratory viruses, we have learned. Flu shots are available nearly everywhere for five bucks or free, such as at Walmart, CVS, etc. The seasonal flu shot is not based on a scientific principle; rather, developers take a guess what influenzas might arise in the coming season, select two or three of them, and inject the public.
From the abstract: “Receiving influenza vaccination may increase the risk of other respiratory viruses, a phenomenon known as virus interference. Test-negative study designs are often utilized to calculate influenza vaccine effectiveness. The virus interference phenomenon goes against the basic assumption of the test-negative vaccine effectiveness study that vaccination does not change the risk of infection with other respiratory illness, thus potentially biasing vaccine effectiveness results in the positive direction. This study aimed to investigate virus interference by comparing respiratory virus status among Department of Defense personnel based on their influenza vaccination status. Furthermore, individual respiratory viruses and their association with influenza vaccination were examined.”
Carol van Strum on my team says, “I’ve been telling you that forever!” Okay, not forever, but for the past four or five months.
Infection rates soar in New York City | Added March 25
From The New York Times: Governor Cuomo said that with cases doubling every three days in New York City alone, as many as 140,000 people might need urgent care in the next few weeks.
And the state was still in dire need of critical equipment, particularly the ventilators needed to keep critically ill patients alive long enough for them to fight off the virus. The Trump administration promised to send 4,000 from the national stockpile, but Governor Cuomo said the state needed tens of thousands more.
Stats from New York Magazine: Thousands of new COVID-19 infections are now being reported in New York every day. As of Wednesday morning, there have been at least 26,376 confirmed cases of the coronavirus discovered in the state, including more than 15,597 in New York City. At least 271 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — more than half — of confirmed cases in the U.S.
Nationwide, more than 55,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories. At least 802 people have died from the virus in the country. COVID-19 has killed more than 19,000 worldwide.
Until more widespread testing is done, the full scope and scale of the New York (and national) outbreak will not be clear, and in the meantime, spikes in the number of confirmed cases will likely reflect an increase in testing, though it is also clear that the virus continues to spread. Below is what we know about the reported cases and consequences in New York thus far.
Novel coronavirus could be ‘chimera’ of two different pathogens, study says | Added March 25
We’ve been tracking various conflicts in the source of coronavirus, how it was transmitted to humans, and where it began. I can tell you that the official, simple story of one virus that began in China is unlikely to be the whole truth. We have heard multiple reports (through my social media network) of an illness similar to COVID-19 going around in late autumn and through the holidays, far from China.
This article from Science Alert provides some additional questions. From the article:
“In the space of a few weeks, we have all learned a lot about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it: SARS-CoV-2. But there have also been a lot of rumors.
“And while the number of scientific articles on this virus is increasing, there are still many grey areas as to its origins.
“In which animal species did it occur? A bat, a pangolin or another wild species? Where does it come from? From a cave or a forest in the Chinese province of Hubei, or elsewhere?
“In December 2019, 27 of the first 41 people hospitalised (66 percent) passed through a market located in the heart of Wuhan city in Hubei province. But, according to a study conducted at Wuhan Hospital, the very first human case identified did not frequent this market.
“Instead, a molecular dating estimate based on the SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences indicates an origin in November. This raises questions about the link between this COVID-19 epidemic and wildlife.”
Congress tentatively agrees to $2T virus bailout for businesses, individuals | Added March 25
Congress reached a $2 trillion aid deal at about 1 am Wednesday morning, a bailout worth more than a year of the entire federal budget.
I watched a presentation on C-Span this morning, and in theory this does what it’s supposed to do — get money to small businesses to pay salaries, rent and even debt service, at near zero interest. Cash payments to individuals are also included, as are expanded unemployment benefits.
“At last, we have a deal,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader. “In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our nation.”
Stocks increased on the news, after having their best day Tuesday since the 1933. The S&P 500 was again up in early trading Wednesday.
Multiple sources are reporting that Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, has tested positive and that his wife Camilla has not. The two are self-isolating separately. The Queen, 93, remains in “good health” and is “following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Wednesday.
And borrowing from The Washington Post summary:
COVID-19 deaths in Spain surpassed those reported in China, making it the world’s hardest hit country after Italy.
The White House coronavirus task force, citing concern about the soaring infection rate in and around New York City, is asking anyone who has left the area recently to self-isolate for 14 days. Still, President Trump said he wants America “opened up” by Easter (April 12) and continued to play down the dangers of the pandemic even as experts warned of a worsening crisis.
India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, began the world’s largest lockdown, although prominent political leaders appeared to be flouting the directives.
More than 435,000 people around the world have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. But it is not mutating significantly as it circulates through the human population, according to scientists who are closely studying the pathogen’s genetic code. That relative stability is encouraging news for researchers hoping to create a long-lasting vaccine.
Personal note: I have heard from a witness that absolutely nothing is happening outside the Javits Center in New York City. Are there any other witnesses to that who can write in?
FDA will allow covid survivors to donate plasma to critically ill patients | Added March 24
NBC News and other outlets are reporting: The Food and Drug Administration will allow doctors across the country to begin using plasma donated by coronavirus survivors to treat patients who are critically ill with the virus under new emergency protocols approved Tuesday.
The FDA’s decision comes a day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s health department planned to begin treating the sickest coronavirus patients with antibody-rich plasma extracted from the blood of those who’ve recovered.
The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, dates back centuries and was used during the flu pandemic of 1918, in an era before modern vaccines and antiviral drugs. Some experts have argued that it might be the best hope for combating the coronavirus until more sophisticated therapies can be developed, which could take several months.
Coronavirus RNA found on Princess Cruise ship up to 17 days after infected passengers left | Added March 24
Note, I am now listening to a panel hosted by Bernie Sanders, and one of the commentators said that just because it can “survive” 17 days does not mean it can transmit up until that time. He said these studies, including the one described below, need to be handled with caution.
NBC News and others are reporting: Coronavirus RNA survived for up to 17 days aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, lasting far longer on surfaces than previous research has shown, according to new data published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study examined the Japanese and U.S. government efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess ship in Japan and the Grand Princess ship in California. Passengers and crew on both ships were quarantined on board after previous guests, who didn’t have any symptoms while aboard each of the ships, tested positive for COVID-19 after landing ashore.
The RNA, the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19, “was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted,” the researchers wrote, adding that the finding doesn’t necessarily mean the virus spread by surface.
Tuesday evening update | Added March 24
At the press briefing that ended a few minutes ago, Trump is saying he wants things back to normal by Easter. Fauci, his infectious diseases chief, said not so fast. We need to evaluate the data day by day. Infection rates double every three days in New York City and the field hospitals are not even built — and Trump is talking about back to normal.
Anyone (as in a few of my friends and readers) who remembers the SUNY New Paltz PCB disaster of 1991 remembers that phrase. Back to normal! They would have been except I got onto the story and made them drag it out until 1997.
I mean, it would be nice to have our routines back. Today, despite the rolling disaster down in the city, was the first day I didn’t feel like I was living in a zombie film. I had to do something utterly normal, which was get a few things taken care of on my Subaru. So I saw the guys at the service department…but was asked to roam around town while they worked on the car, which was a lot more pleasant than the waiting room.
Supermarkets up here seem like nothing is going on, except for the paper aisle being sold out. I’ll keep an eye on the news and add anything relevant later. We saw an interesting scientific piece today giving some details about how this strain of the virus was created, where it might have recombined, and how there may be two strains going around. I am also hearing more and more reports of dry cough, and/or knockdown flu, in the United States, England and Australia as early as December.
I’m on astrology duty tonight though I will tack that to the top of the blog when I update around midnight or so.
Tuesday morning update re NYC | Added March 24
This morning was the turning point/tipping point New Moon in Aries. I’ve covered that on the astrology section of the website. I woke up today feeling like some pressure had lifted off of my psyche. I wish the same for the people on the front lines 100 miles south of here in New York City, where things are not going so well.
As I write, Gov. Cuomo is on live, saying that, “The increase in the number of cases increases unabated.”
The rate of new infections in New York City is doubling every three days. He is saying that New York City will need more than 100,000 hospital beds and 40,000 intensive care beds — an astonishing number.
The National Guard is converting the Javits Convention Center as a field hospital. I can barely believe I’m writing this. New York has 25,665 diagnosed people carrying the new coronavirus — many times more than any other state. In New York there are currently 3234 hospitalized, and about 756 in intensive care units.
SUNY and CUNY Dorms Will Be Used
Emergency hospitals are also in progress at SUNY Westbury and SUNY Stony Brook, and dormitories at any SUNY or CUNY campus could be used. “I would turn this state upside down to get the number of beds that we need, but we need the staff for those beds,” which he says are useless without personnel. The state is contacting all retired health care personnel to get them on the job, and seeking “equipment, equipment, equipment.”
He added, “The greatest critical need is for ventilators” for people under respiratory distress. He said the state is trying to acquire another 30,000 ventilators in a time of extremely high demand. He said that ventilators would be modified for use by two patients.
The state’s prevention strategy, he says, is to reduce street density, close businesses and increase testing, which he claims is the highest rate per capita in the world. New drugs are being experimented with, including plasma transplants. (I have not heard a word about testing the blood supply otherwise. If you’ve seen coverage of the blood supply, please pass it to us.)
In other news items, the Olympics have officially been postponed. This blog began 21 days ago with the news, the IOC was adamant that the games would go on.
Trump is Going Deeper Into Denial
The White House, in deep delusional denial, is trying to get back to business, which plan could kill millions. It now appears that Tony Fauci, who runs the National Center for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, has been sidelined for treating this problem as what it is: a global pandemic. Trump is reciting the line about how the cure can’t be worse than the disease.
The federal government is not using a special provision of law, the Federal Defense Production Act, to compel manufacturers to make necessary equipment. Cuomo is saying that HHS Secretary Azar is not releasing any of the 20,000 ventilators in the federal stockpile. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has released 400 from its stockpile.
A perspective on how countries have handled coronavirus, by Spencer Stevens | Added March 23
Looking over this timeline of the coronavirus outbreak and initial cover-up in Wuhan, its intriguing to see what could have been, especially in light of Saturn conjunct Pluto on January 12th.
According to the article, “A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited.”
From January 11 to the 17th the Wuhan Health Commission insisted there were no new cases. This was at a time when the U.S. government was occupied with the impeachment trial — a true call to integrity for both nations. If Trump had been removed from office, the current pandemic might have been handled with some modicum of sanity. If China had told the truth from the start, the severity may have been lessened to some degree. Both would have been preferable.
[It’s my view that Jan. 31st was the final nail in the coffin. I remember on that day that: Brexit took place, it was the final chance for Democrats to call witnesses for the trial, and the virus still hadn’t been exported widely.]
Lastly, from the article, “The bottom line: China is now trying to create a narrative that it’s an example of how to handle this crisis when in fact its early actions led to the virus spreading around the globe.”
As of now, China is leveraging their increase in surveillance to their advantage. According to a report from The Guardian “Getting into one’s apartment compound or workplace requires scanning a QR code, writing down one’s name and ID number, temperature and recent travel history.” Seemingly, one’s physical health is now being rolled into the administrative police state, and the concern is that it will be a permanent addition.
In regards to international politics, China (and Iran) quickly went on the offensive and claimed that the U.S. was to blame for the virus, chiefly via tweets from both bots and government officials. This narrative was being pushed before NPR’S March 19 report of possible cases in Italy, in November.
To tie all of this together, this tweet March 22nd from Richard Ebright shows the virus’ rate of spread around the world via graph, and how China and Asian democracies have managed to control their rate of spread.
Ebright captioned the graph with “Geopolitical transformation in real time.” The Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 1947 could easily have been described with that phrase in light of the post-WWII, redistribution of global power. All that remains to be seen is how the West handles this, today.
Full disclosure, it seems that Hong Kong recently let their guard down and has had an uptick in their number of cases.
And Japan has largely been quiet during all of this, which is concerning given how they were not taking proper precautions when handling the Diamond Princess. This article speaks to a few reasons why Japan may not be having a visible crisis. [It features a few good comments, too.]
The Olympics being on the line gave Japan a reason for keeping things under wraps. Although this may change now that the Olympics have been postponed.
Monday morning update | Added March 23
Most of today’s news involves a battle in congress over what to do with a couple of trillion dollars, and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to shore up the stock market. Also, we have Trump saying that we need to stay in for just two weeks (which they consider half over) and the president getting annoyed with Anthony Fauci, who actually knows a lot about how to slow down epidemics.
Here is my article on the Aries New Moon, which happens Tuesday morning in most time zones where our readers live.
Sunday night update | Added March 22
It’s been quite a day. Here’s some of what I’ve seen over the weekend.
From Politico: The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the United States.
From The Daily Mail and others: Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel will quarantine herself at home after being treated by a doctor who has since tested positive for coronavirus – as the country bans gatherings of more than two people to stop the spread of the disease.
From Zerohedge: Russia’s Defense Ministry announced over the weekend that starting Sunday the military will deploy medical help to hard-hit Italy, the coronavirus epicenter in Europe which has seen its death toll take record jumps in the past days, now approaching 5,000 killed from the disease.
From The Washington Post: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, becoming the third member of Congress and the first senator to confirm infection. Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney, both Utah Republicans, announced Sunday that they would self-quarantine because of their recent contact with Paul.
From The Wall Street Journal: The new coronavirus’s spread in America has prompted corporations to close offices, factories and stores, sending tens of millions of people home, where a swath of the workforce—from customer-service representatives to chief executive officers—have had to figure out new ways to work.
From The Washington Post: Senate Democrats blocked a massive coronavirus stimulus bill from moving forward Sunday in the Senate, as partisan disputes raged over the legislation that’s aimed at arresting the economy’s precipitous decline.
From The Daily Times: Philadelphia is the latest city that must stay at home. That’s the word from city officials as they instituted a strict new Stay-at-Home Order restricting business activity as they continue to battle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new restrictions take effect Monday, March 23 at 8 a.m. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household are now prohibited.
Where did this begin? | Added March 22
Today’s mystery meme is that cases of an aggressive pneumonia and difficulty breathing being reported in multiple parts of the world late last year — so far, in the UK, Hawaii, Italy and China. This contradicts the Wuhan wet market theory, as do a number of other facts.
Here is what I can tell you about debunking the “official theory” or “official version of events.” You don’t do it by proving something else is correct. That is not your role, at this time.
You do it first by demonstrating that the official line is not plausible. Yes, this raises questions, and many will jump right to “You’re a conspiracy theorist!” But that is not true. To note your observations and follow the perfectly logical questions is not to propose a conspiracy. It is merely to be aware, and note what your attention tells you.
I’m interested in any thing you see about where this mysterious breathing issue manifested in November and December 2019. As I am sure you understand, if it manifested several places at the same time, the seafood market theory has a problem.
NPR: Covid-19 cases were seen in Italy as early as November | Added March 22
We at last have a clue as to why the virus situation is so intense in northern Italy: it may have stated there. NPR is reporting that there were cases of a strange pneumonia reported by doctors in northern Italy before they were seen in China, possibly as early as November. If that is true, it’s possible that the path of migration may have been from Italy to China and not the other way around.
The first official case is listed as being in China on Nov. 17.
From the article: Remuzzi says he is now hearing information about it from general practitioners. “They remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November,” he says. “This means that the virus was circulating, at least in [the northern region of] Lombardy and before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”
Sunday update | Added March 22
Saturday night’s headline in The New York Times reveals that we are in a preparedness crisis: “As supplies dwindle, governments and companies race to make masks.” Wow, what a bunch of Boy Scouts, ready for anything! I guess we had to use all those trees and plastic to make supplies for takeout meals.
Subheader: “Trump resists appeal for more aggressive action.”
President Trump on Saturday sought to assure an anxious American public that help was on the way to overwhelmed hospitals, and that private companies had agreed to provide desperately needed medical supplies to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus.
But Mr. Trump resisted appeals from state and local officials and hospital administrators for more aggressive action, saying he would not compel companies to make face masks and other gear to protect front-line health workers from the virus.
Speaking at a White House briefing with Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence said the federal government had placed orders for “hundreds of millions” of the N-95 face masks that can shield medical workers from the virus. Mr. Trump said the clothing company Hanes was among those that had been enlisted to start churning out masks, although the company said they would not be the N-95 masks that are most effective in protecting medical workers.
Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Pence would say when the masks would be ready. And it is unclear whether enough new masks and other protective gear will be available before health care facilities start getting overwhelmed by a flood of infected patients. More than 21,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States, and that number is expected to soar in coming weeks.
Saturday update | Added March 21
Note to Readers: I am preparing a new edition of Planet Waves FM for tonight. I can usually get that onto the server at about 9 pm, and I update the program’s tab above, as well as the program’s homepage, the front page, and social media. If you’re interested in hearing tonight’s program, please stop back then. Our musical guest will be Rosanne Cash, who has graciously offered her contribution tonight. Before that, I’m going to ride out to the kimchee farm with my dogs and get some supplies.
Looking at this morning’s news, I don’t see much to update that is much different from last night. As I mentioned yesterday, my source in emergency planning for New York was correct — state officials are planning to deploy SUNY dormitories (and also some hotels) to care for the sick. There is space; there is not equipment and supplies.
Thank you for sending in news items. Please check in with the conditions in your local area, availability of food and supplies, and the mental and emotional environment around you. Lots more good stuff on the front page. We’re presenting daily astrology and birthdays in a new format on their tab. Astrology fans — I will have full coverage of the Aries New Moon, along with a weekly horoscope, on Sunday evening.
New York hospitals feeling patient surge; US intel warned of pandemic | evening update for March 20
Illinois, California, Florida and New York have increased travel and business restrictions, and soon one in five Americans will be living under an official stay-at-home order.
New York City is now the focus of the coronavirus epidemic. While Italy’s death toll has exceeded that of China, the mathematics for NYC are not looking good, and hospitals are already running out beds and respirators as infections grow exponentially.
Earlier today I spoke with a trusted longtime source high up in New York’s health care system, who said that there is no surge capacity and that State University dormitories in the city would be used as makeshift hospitals.
My source, who has long been involved in disaster planning with unions and hospital associations, said that the city would face a crisis over where to put corpses of the deceased.
Upstate, county officials were preparing to use the gymnasium at SUNY Ulster as a makeshift hospital.
However, lack of beds and respirators is compounded by the lack of the most basic, inexpensive protective equipment: gloves, N95 masks and visors among them. Bottom line is that despite all of the advanced warnings, studies, past pandemics and relatively mild ones, health care systems in the United States simply did not prepare for this inevitable outcome. Everyone knew that this was coming sooner or later, yet hospitals cut back surge capacity, attempting to run with the efficiency of a sardine factory.
Here is some dire language from The New York Times: “The coronavirus has infected far more people in the United States than testing has shown so far, and stringent measures to limit social contact in parts of the country not yet seeing many cases are needed to significantly stem the tide of illness and death in the coming months.
“Those are the conclusions of Columbia University researchers who used a New York Times database of known cases and Census Bureau transportation data to model how the outbreak could evolve based on what is known about the virus. The estimates are inherently uncertain, and they could change as America adopts unprecedented measures to control the outbreak.
“But they offer a stark warning: Even if the country cut its rate of transmission in half — a tall order — some 650,000 people might become infected in the next two months.
“The growth is driven by Americans with mild symptoms who are carrying and spreading the virus without being aware that they have it, the researchers say. The number of undetected cases — 11 times more than has been officially reported, they estimate — reflects how far behind the United States has fallen in testing for the virus.”
U.S. Intelligence Agencies Received Warnings in January and February, while Administration Officials Downplayed Problem
From The Washington Post: “U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting.
“The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.
“Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.”
Cuomo orders New Yorkers to stay inside; shutters most businesses starting Sunday | Added March 20
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told New Yorkers to stay indoors as much as possible and ordered all nonessential businesses to keep all their workers home in a wide-ranging executive order, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state jumped to over 7,000. Here are the highlights of his executive order, which takes effect Sunday.
What doesn’t kill you makes you strong | Added March 20
Bloomberg is reporting: The drug touted by the U.S. President Donald Trump as a possible line of treatment against the coronavirus comes with severe warnings in China and can kill in dosages as little as two grams.
China, where the deadly pathogen first emerged in December, recommended the decades-old malaria drug chloroquine to treat infected patients in guidelines issued in February after seeing encouraging results in clinical trials. But within days, it cautioned doctors and health officials about the drug’s lethal side effects and rolled back its usage.
This came after local media reported that a Wuhan Institute of Virology study found that the drug can kill an adult just dosed at twice the daily amount recommended for treatment, which is one gram.
A sensible opinion in The Wall Street Journal | Added March 20
When I was a young reporter, I learned that The Wall Street Journal is an essential go-to newspaper in a crisis. I’ve long been in love with the writing and especially the editing of the news pages. The editorials, not so much — until today. I’ve taken the liberty of republishing this on Planet Waves so you can read it. The newspaper’s editorial board writes:
“The costs of this national shutdown are growing by the hour, and we don’t mean federal spending. We mean a tsunami of economic destruction that will cause tens of millions to lose their jobs as commerce and production simply cease. Many large companies can withstand a few weeks without revenue but that isn’t true of millions of small and mid-sized firms.
“Even cash-rich businesses operate on a thin margin and can bleed through reserves in a month. First they will lay off employees and then out of necessity they will shut down. Another month like this week and the layoffs will be measured in millions of people.
“The deadweight loss in production will be profound and take years to rebuild. In a normal recession the U.S. loses about 5% of national output over the course of a year or so. In this case we may lose that much, or twice as much, in a month.”
More information on virus origins | Added March 20
We’re continuing to see data coming through related to the origin of the new coronavirus, and most of it points to bats. In the interview with Ward Stone, above, he confirms that this is a high-probability event, under the right circumstances. Yet we also know that the original cases in Wuhan cannot be traced to the marketplace where wildlife was sold as food. Note this article on the topic from Science Daily.
Here is an interesting read, from Scientific American. Note, this magazine has been duped before, though so have most major media. I think the most eye-popping line in the article is that its main subject, a leading scientist at the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology, named Shi Zhengli, asked of the early infections at the epicenter, “Could they have come from our lab?”
From the article: “It’s incredibly important to pinpoint the source of infection and the chain of cross-species transmission,” says disease ecologist Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York City–based nonprofit research organization that collaborates with scientists, such as Shi, around the world to discover new viruses in wildlife. An equally important task, he adds, is hunting down other related pathogens—the “known unknowns”—in order to “prevent similar incidents from happening again.”
Note, we continue to receive information on the 5G cellular technology connection, which seems to be a likely cause or cofactor. In viral epidemics, there are always immune-compromising cofactors, and in our society, electromagnetism is not the only one. They include spraying the world and most food with glyphosate, as well as contamination by PCBs, dioxins, DDT and other chemical agents.
We just received this interesting article pertaining to cofactors of overlapping 3G, 4G and 5G microwave technologies, the novel coronavirus, and the toxic body burden of the individual involved. [Note that most of those who died in Italy suffered from other diseases, so that is a mortality factor as well.]
Please keep an eye on closed-down schools and campus buildings, and notice whether there are any installations of electronic equipment happening. This video covers the topic.
Friday morning update | Added March 20
The entire state of California has been issued a stay-at-home order. According to The New York Times, “The order, which is in place until further notice, exempts travel to essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. In large swaths of the state, nonessential businesses like movie theaters, gyms and bars had recently been ordered to close. Restaurants have been limited to takeout or delivery only.”
Pennsylvania issued an order ordering all non-life-sustaining businesses to shut down. Apparently “life sustaining” includes beer distributors, who may remain open. What about pot dealers?
Here is Pennsylvania’s list of what can stay open and what must close.
Italy has sent the United States 500,000 coronavirus test kits, which were received Monday.
Speaking of Italy, 99% of those who died of coronavirus had other illnesses.
From Bloomberg News: “The new study could provide insight into why Italy’s death rate, at about 8% of total infected people, is higher than in other countries.The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities, finding that just three victims, or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions. More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.”
Pres. Trump has canceled the G7 summit at Camp David over coronavirus.
From Reuters: President Donald Trump will cancel an in-person meeting of G7 leaders at Camp David in June because of the coronavirus and will hold a video-conference instead, the White House said on Thursday. The decision comes as nations around the world seal their borders and ban travel to stop the virus’ spread. Trump held a video-conference with the leaders of the world’s major industrialized countries earlier this week and plans to repeat that in April, May and June, when the physical meeting at the presidential retreat in Maryland was scheduled to take place.
Reuters is also reporting that low-cost generic drugs may be effective in the treatment of the new coronavirus. The report states that U.S. researchers, following the lead of scientists in other countries, have launched studies to see whether widely-available, low-cost generic drugs can be used to help treat the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
There are currently no vaccines or treatments for the highly-contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness, so patients can only receive supportive care for now. But a 1,500-person trial, led by the University of Minnesota, began this week to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of COVID-19. Two other trials are studying the blood pressure drug losartan as a possible treatment for the disease.
The malaria drug, also being tested in China, Australia and France, was touted earlier this week by Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, who recovered from malaria in 2000 after taking the medication.
Thursday morning update | Added March 19
I’m on Planet Waves duty today, so I don’t have an update, save for the ongoing unraveling of the world continues. Last night I added the interview with Dr. Ward Stone, which is above. Today this came in — additional confirmation that the Wuhan wet market cannot be connected to the early cases in Wuhan via contact tracing. So now we are back to an “other than” scenario, which brings up disturbing possibilities. I was in doubt of that story, though Ward assured me it was plausible. The contract tracing is the issue. If that’s not correct then there is another source.
Spencer Stevens writes in | Added March 18
I live in Florida near Panama City Beach, a popular Spring Break dest. Up until a few days ago, people were still unconcerned here and some of the beaches were still packed. (But someone did try to take out $1.5 million at the bank yesterday.)
[Note, our cartoonist Jen Sorensen has had a go at spring break in her new cartoon strip.]
I’ve been following this since the end of January. Steadily bought supplies over the weeks. Have enough for about a month to two months. Hurricane Michael taught me a lot: dump your trash now in case there’s no pickup; clean your fridge and freezer, because if the power goes out it smells really bad; radio is indispensable for info; running water is a godsend.
Money-wise, I got a settlement check late last year so I’m using that. Staying with my parents currently. Initial plans this year were to move out, and work out a trip to Italy, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My mom works for the school district. They’re gone until April 15th. Being paid while gone. My dad works at the Air Force base here. Their CPU servers are struggling to handle everyone working from home.
I have a cousin who is a truck driver. He says it’s eerie how empty the roads are. Called me yesterday to ask how bad things are/how prepared to be. He buys in bulk anyway though and has enough for 6 months. Money-wise should be fine. Expects to keep driving. Fiancée is a nurse. Most of my friends were aware of the virus but not too prepared. For some money was an issue.
One friend in OKC said shelves are bare. Don’t think he’s been following this; he works ridiculous hours. Still going to work, but boss is out “sick”.
Another friend outside St. Louis said shelves were the same. She has a small daughter, but is now working from home. Her brother lives in the same area. Lost his job a few days ago, and is worried about rent. Ordered a few supplies.
Ironically, my friends and family in California seem the most unruffled by all of this.
Navy activates hospital ships | Added March 18
Daily Wire and other sources report: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper revealed to the press Tuesday that the Pentagon has initiated the process of activating two Navy hospital ships — one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast — to help with the federal coronavirus response.
“We’ve already given orders to the Navy… to lean forward in terms of getting them ready to deploy,” Sec. Esper told reporters Tuesday, as reported by U.S. Naval Institute News.
The two hospital ships that have begun activation are USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), which are homeported at Naval Station San Diego, CA, and Naval Station Norfolk, VA, respectively, and both have a 1,000 bed-capacity.
Activating the hospital ships, Sec. Esper explained, will help “take the pressure off of civilian hospitals when it comes to trauma cases, to open up civilian hospital rooms for infectious diseases.”
Here is a science update via Carol van Strum, of the Planet Waves Gemstone team | Added March 18
From Science Daily: A new study on the median incubation period for COVID-19, the disease associated with novel coronavirus, says “the median incubation period for COVID-19 is just over 5 days and that 97.5% of people who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of infection.” the magazine also has published a report saying that the virus has a natural origin. “An analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.”
In not sure which is more disturbing, that this situation might have got loose from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or that it came from bat soup.
Wednesday morning update | Added March 18
One thing I’m not hearing much about is how individual people are faring. It’s relatively early in the crisis, though with school systems shutting down and companies not allowing their employees in, I’m interested in how people are doing at home. What preparations have you made, how are you handling home schooling, and how are you prioritizing your finances? We are also interested in hearing about word from any relatives you may have who are in prison.
Meanwhile in world news, The New York Times greeted us today with the headline, Nations Pledge Trillions to Stave Off Economic Catastrophe. Meanwhile, this article from July last year is circulating among our editors, revealing that billionaires in France failed to come through in the cause of rebuilding Notre Dame cathedral. That answers the question, “Why put a roof on an old building when people need a roof over their heads?”
Belgium has joined the list of European nations to impose full lockdown measures. Within the E.U., borders checkpoints have reappeared after a generation of unhindered travel among nations within the Shengen Treaty area. From the Times: “Romanian and Bulgarian citizens trying to return home from Austria via Hungary were denied entry to Hungary on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that his country would close its borders to non-Hungarians.”
The European Union has closed its borders to all nonessential travel. I’m not sure how that is defined. United States and Canada also have closed their 5,000+ mile border to all “nonessential” travel.
Markets Still in Freefall
As of tis writing, stocks and oil had dropped price in sync as economic fears deepened. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped below 20,000 points to 19,989, down from a high of 29,551. This is troubling in the context of economic stimulus offered by countries, which was supposed to make Wall St. feel better.
Note, we are now seeing what a house of cards the stock market was, soaring away at near 30,000. This has to stop being the core of the economy and the “only” measure of prosperity and value. I think the whole thing has been knocked back to 2016 levels or so.
New York City and New York State
New York City’s Mayor de Blasio told New Yorkers to get ready to shelter in place. “It is definitely a possibility at this point,” he said at a City Hall news conference, acknowledging that such a move had to be coordinated with state officials.
But according to the Times, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo tamped down any suggestion that a shelter-in-place order was imminent. “There’s not going to be any quarantine, where we contain people within an area, or we block people from an area,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Individual mobility is what we’re all about. There’s not going to be any you-have-to-stay-in-your-house rule.” The state has the final say in this matter, not the city.
Meanwhile, the Times is reporting that more than 200 people gathered for a wedding in Williamsburg on Tuesday, dancing in the street after the Fire Department broke up the party following complaints from neighbors (and one of the wedding musicians). Gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned in New York State since Monday.
I’ll have more specific news as the day progresses.
Trump was only planning to be voyeur Sunday | Added March 18
From CNN: President Donald Trump wasn’t planning to come before cameras Sunday, according to two people familiar with his plans. Thinking he’d only be meeting members of his coronavirus task force, the President put on a suit jacket, button-down shirt with an open collar and a blue “USA” baseball cap before heading downstairs to the West Wing.
But when he realized the team he had assembled was heading to the briefing room to update reporters on the latest, Trump decided at the last minute that he wanted to join.
“I’ll sit in the front row,” he told his team, several of whom responded with puzzled looks since those seats are typically reserved for members of the press. Trump insisted he “just wanted to watch.”
Instead, the President entered the room and headed directly to the podium, which until last week had gone almost entirely unused for a year.
Tuesday, March 17
Contract tracing related to claimed origins at South China Seafood Market; Nature piece about Wuhan bio lab | Added March 17
I was looking around for contact tracing back to the open market in Whuan market and found this gem. I’ve also acquired this article from Nature establishing Whuan Institute of Virology as the first and only one of its kind in China.
Personal note | Added March 17
After watching a million articles go by, and getting emails from lots of with-it, thinking and aware people, I have this odd feeling that several things are going on here at once. Several things, first and foremost, meaning medically, which are being lumped together. Then I also mean politically.
(The spiritual piece is the easiest to understand — if not the intended meaning, the one that is likely to manifest — more on that in my Thursday article to the Core Community.)
But as for the “several things at once” element — have you noticed that? Like everything running in parallel to something else? —efc
Afternoon news update | for March 17
Daily life continues to be upended across the United States and throughout the world. In one example, Iowa’s governor has closed all fitness centers, theaters, casinos, mass gatherings, bars and restaurants to dine-in at noon today, giving one hour’s notice.
Pres. Trump has asked Republicans in congress to approve $850 billion in bailouts, much of which would go to airlines.
From The New York Times: In a briefing on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is talking to Congress about sending cash payments to Americans over the next two weeks to cushion the economic blow from coronavirus. “The president has instructed me we have to do this now,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence asked construction companies to hand over the scarce N95 masks, also used by health workers, to hospitals and refrain from ordering new ones for now.
From The Wall Street Journal: U.S. stocks pushed higher after a punishing Monday selloff as the Trump administration pitched senators on a stimulus package to cushion the economy from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 gained 5.9%, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 6.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.7% recently, after it dipped below the 20,000 mark at one point in the morning.
From the Associated Press: U.S. researchers in Seattle gave the first shot to the first person in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday — leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges. With a careful jab in a healthy volunteer’s arm, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle begin an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded from China and fanned across the globe.
Monday, March 16
China appoints bioweapons expert to lead Wuhan lab | Added March 16
From the Daily Mail: China has reportedly appointed its top military biological weapon expert to take over a secretive virus laboratory in Wuhan after the outbreak of a new coronavirus, sparking conspiracy theories that the health crisis could be connected to the army.
Chen Wei, a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army, was flown in to Wuhan by the central government late last month before officially taking the helm of Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to a report.
The 54-year-old’s designation prompted some people to speculate that the epidemic could have been spawned in the little-known lab and that the lab is run by Beijing’s military.
Of note: Chen, also a leading specialist in genetic engineering vaccines in China, developed a medical spray during the SARS outbreak in 2003. The product prevented around 14,000 medical workers from contracting the virus, said another state-media report. She is also known in the country as the ‘terminator of Ebola’ for leading a team to create a vaccine against the fatal virus.
San Francisco to go on lockdown Tuesday | Added March 16
San Francisco will become the first American city to go on lockdown over coronavirus. “This is going to be a defining moment for our city,” Mayor London Breed said Monday. “We all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our neighbors and slow the spread of this virus by staying at home unless it is absolutely essential to go outside.”
From the San Francisco Examiner: With the coronavirus pandemic rapidly spreading throughout communities around the nation, city leaders are taking the unprecedented step of placing San Francisco on lockdown for three weeks beginning Tuesday at midnight.
The City will legally prohibit residents from leaving their homes except to meet basic needs including visiting the doctor, or buying groceries or medicine, until at least April 7, Mayor London Breed announced Monday.
The dramatic restrictions, imposed under a city-issued Public Health Order, will also require non-essential businesses like bars and gyms to close. But pharmacies, banks and other businesses that perform an “essential” role for society will be allowed to remain open.
In a statement ahead of a City Hall press conference with city officials, Breed urged the public to remain calm and emphasized “that all essential needs will continue to be met.”
These people know something we do not know.
Evening News Summary | Added Monday, March 16
Governments scrambled to contain damage of the stock market’s latest disaster. That came in the form of today’s 3,000 point loss in the Dow Jones Industrial Average — a decline of 13%, the second worst day in the 124-year history of the leading stock index. The S&P 500 lost 12% of its value, on top of prior losses.
All told, markets have lost about a third of their value in just over one month.
This came the very day after the Federal Reserve dropped its interest rate to zero, specifically to shore up the hopes of investors.
In a Monday news conference begun at 3:21 pm, the coronavirus task force outlined its efforts, which seemed minimal.
The White House denied rumors of a national curfew, quarantine or lockdown that have been circulating on the internet.
This report by USA Today is interesting. “Unlike during his Rose Garden appearance on Friday, when his decision to declare a national emergency appeared to drive prices up, the president’s remarks Monday did not appear to ease investor concerns. Instead, the market selloff continued as the president and other officials suggested that Americans would have to continue to practice social distancing into the summer.”
The federal CDC, or Centers for Disease Control, has recommended delaying gatherings larger than 50 people for eight weeks, till mid-May. Trump suggested that gatherings be limited to 10 people.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have all officially banned gatherings of 50 or more as schools close across the region. Six California counties have ordered everyone to stay home.
And then this, from The New York Times: President Trump told a group of governors Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to help people diagnosed with coronavirus. “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.
From The Guardian: Boris Johnson has unveiled a series of hugely stringent new restrictions to slow what he said was the now-rapid spread of coronavirus in the UK, including a 14-day isolation for all households with symptoms, a warning against “non-essential” contact, including trips to pubs and clubs, and an end to all mass gatherings.
Flanked by Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, and Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, Johnson raised the likelihood of those over 70 and more vulnerable people, such as those with prior health conditions, soon needing to be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks.”
From The Washington Post: French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday evening the imposition of a total lockdown of at least 15 days to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The lockdown will begin Tuesday at noon and will severely limit the freedom of movement throughout the country. People will be allowed to leave their homes only to purchase food, see doctors and to walk to work if their jobs require it. But Macron reiterated an earlier call for all businesses to embrace telecommuting as much as possible.
That’s what I’ve got for you — sorry it’s not happier news. Please stay in touch.
Issues We’re Tracking | Added Monday, March 16
In the midst of all the chaos, I’ve got my eye on a few specific issues. I’ll spell them out here, in case someone else has seen data. First, does anyone have direct or close secondhand knowledge of the ER webinar that supposedly happened Sunday?
I’m interested in the “superspreader” issue. There seem to be certain individuals who spread the virus faster than others, such as Patient 31 in Korea, or the lawyer in New Rochelle? There are other less extreme examples, though these two stand out.
Also: has anyone seen data on how long from exposure to seropositive test? That is, how long (minimum and maximum) till a person who has the virus shows a positive result for the virus? This is crucial if we want the test results to be meaningful.
Why is Italy such an epicenter? Is there any speculation about that? I understand Wuhan — there’s a coronavirus lab there, from which it likely escaped. But what was going on in Italy? If you have information about any of these, please pass it forward to firstname.lastname@example.org
Morning Update | Added Monday, March 16
Schools, restaurants and bars in New York City are closing today. New York’s is the largest school system, with 1.1 million students. Schools are now closed in 33 states and DC.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States has recommended against gatherings of 50 or more for the next eight weeks. Most nations have closed their borders and whole cities are closing theaters, bars and restaurants.
The point seems to be about slowing the acceleration of new infections, so that the growth rate levels off and is no longer exponential. The more we do now, the fewer cases there will be at the other end of the equation.
Dig this, from the Washington Post, from an article about an acceleration in new cases and deaths, featuring U.S. Rep Devin Nunes (a big star of the impeachment). He thinks people should go out drinking:
“Despite such alarming trajectories, and a new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Americans cancel or postpone events of 50-plus people for the next eight weeks, some Republican lawmakers still shrugged off the urgent warnings.
“Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a close Trump ally, encouraged Americans to go out dining or drinking, directly contradicting public health officials’ admonitions for social distancing to slow the rate of infection.
“’It’s a great time to go out and go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in easy’, Nunes told Fox News viewers. ‘Let’s not hurt the working people in this country . . . go to your local pub’.”
In other news, a Tennessee Amazon reseller in possession of 17,000 bottles of perfectly useless hand “sanitizer” has donated them, along with a bunch of hand wipes too.
He did so “on Sunday just as the Tennessee attorney general’s office began investigating him for price gouging,” according to a New York Times report.
At least the wheels of justice keep on turning. Other places (such as in Oregon) police are not responding to 9-1-1 calls unless it’s a life threatening situation, according to our Oregon bureau chief.
Speaking of things losing their value, the stock market plunged Monday morning even after the Federal Reserve slashed its interest rate to near zero (see Sunday evening’s update for details).
From The Wall Street Journal: “Investors shifted funds into the shelter of U.S. government bonds, reflecting continued anxiety about global growth prospects. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note dropped to 0.791%, from 0.946% at Friday’s close. The Fed took several steps last week to calm the Treasury market, which is the most liquid and actively traded bond market in the world, as outsize swings in yields and other safe-haven assets added to the global turbulence.”
Your Evening News Update | Added Sunday March 15
So let’s see what happened today. The Federal Reserve Bank cut interest rates by a full percentage point, to 0 to .25 percent. “The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the central bank said in a statement. The problem is, it does not have many others.
Cafes and restaurants in Paris were closed today, creating a surreal scene in a city noted specifically for those things. The number of French cases passed 5,420 on Sunday, with 127 deaths. On Saturday, 300 coronavirus patients were in critical condition — half of them under 60 years of age.
Italy’s death toll rose to 1,809, a 25% increase over the day before — 368 deaths were reported Sunday by Italian authorities. Italy is the hardest hit country outside of China, whose highest single-day death toll was reported at 254 on Feb. 13.
From The New York Times: “The staggering caseload in Italy topped 24,700, even as the entire country has been locked down for a week, an escalation that is only likely to increase, raising urgent questions about how overloaded hospitals, particularly the hard-hit north, will cope.”
Also: Germany will close its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the country’s interior minister said on Sunday, following several other European Union member states in restricting the freedom of movement across the continent.
And: On Sunday, Spanish officials reported nearly 8,000 cases of coronavirus and 288 deaths. The country ordered all residents to confine themselves to their homes — and to leave only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or assist older people and others in need. The government also ordered all schools, restaurants and bars to close.
Local news in New York: School systems are shutting down one after the next. Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and New York City schools will close this week. Mayor Di Blasio updated that to say schools will be initially closed through April 20.
Onward Into the New Weird | Added March 15
Pres. Trump has tested negative for the novel coronavirus despite several exposures to people who had been infected. Press reports say his doctor made the statement of the results. I have not seen data on the time after exposure required for seroconversion, that is, to get an accurate response if positive.
Spain and France have moved toward total lockdown, with France closing all but the most essential stores and other businesses, including restaurants. This is every bit as astonishing as New York City closing down Broadway theaters. Spain has ordered citizens into what is basically house arrest.
Pres. Trump extended the travel ban to the UK and Ireland, as the E.U. ban took effect. Mexico still might build a big, beautiful wall. It will be a perfect wall.
A single conference has been linked to most Massachusetts coronavirus cases, in what is being called a “superspreading event.”
WBUR radio reports: “Among the coronavirus numbers that Massachusetts officials have shared recently, one is particularly striking: Of the state’s 95 cases detected as of late Wednesday, they say 77 stemmed from a meeting that the Cambridge biotech company Biogen held in late February.” [Well gee whiz, it’s name is Biogen.]
Stat News is reporting: “A high-profile scientific paper that found that a patient with the new coronavirus had transmitted it to other people in Germany before showing any symptoms was based on faulty information, health officials say.”
From The Wall Street Journal: “Georgia on Saturday postponed its March 24 primary until May 19 and paused in-person early voting, which had already begun. Louisiana said Friday it was postponing its April 4 primary, pushing it into June, and later-voting states such as Maryland and Pennsylvania are trying to figure out how to safely hold primaries as events across the U.S. are being rapidly canceled to limit the virus’s spread.”
And from The Onion: Saying he was on top of the situation and the disease would not be spreading any further, President Donald Trump assured the nation Friday that he had called 911 to report the coronavirus pandemic and that help was on its way. “I just got off the phone with 911, they are aware of the situation, and we’ll soon have this thing taken care of,” the commander-in-chief said during a televised address on Covid-19, urging all 330 million Americans not to worry because emergency response personnel should be arriving to assist them any minute now.
The New Planet Waves FM has been posted | Added March 14
Here is the link. I’ll do a news summary in the morning.
Good morning: what we woke up to today | Saturday, March 14
First, remember it was only Friday — yesterday, March 13 — that the President declared a national emergency. (If it makes you feel better, so did the mayor of Kingston. I got a dramatic robocall yesterday. They had the voice set to ‘mild angst’ setting.)
From The New York Times: “At the news conference, Mr. Trump followed none of the safety protocols recommended to combat the spread of the virus, shaking hands with multiple administration officials and chief executives and sharing a microphone with them.”
The S&P 500 soared during the remarks and closed the day up by more than 9 percent. This is good news, as markets lost one third of their value between late February and yesterday, the worst crash since 1987.
Early Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a sweeping relief package to address the virus situation. It’s expected to be taken up by the Senate next week. Apple closed all of its stores outside of China. New Zealand will require all entering the country to be self-quarantined. the Pentagon will shut its doors to visitors starting Sunday (in case you were planning a picnic there).
Ukraine banned crowds over the virus, but protests went on.
Regarding Korea: “For a second day in a row, the number of coronavirus patients released from South Korean hospitals has exceeded the number of newly confirmed infections, a potential sign that the country’s aggressive test-and-treatment approach is paying off.
Unlike China and Italy, which have locked down entire cities, South Korea has not blocked the movement of people in and out of regions heavily affected by the outbreak. Instead, it has launched an aggressive campaign of tracking, testing and treating patients, conducting more than 10,000 diagnostic tests a day.”
Statistics and their meaning – flagged | Added March 14
Note to Readers: We’ve been circulating this article for a few days, and our fact team has now flagged it as potentially problematic. It’s too complex of an article or us to verify every claim; if you are in the field of epidemiology, please let us know if it passes muster. For now, we post it with a yellow flag. Here is a rebuttal.
Thomas Pueyo writes on Medium.com: You might have fears today: What if I overreact? Will people laugh at me? Will they be angry at me? Will I look stupid? Won’t it be better to wait for others to take steps first? Will I hurt the economy too much? But in 2–4 weeks, when the entire world is in lockdown, when the few precious days of social distancing you will have enabled will have saved lives, people won’t criticize you anymore: They will thank you for making the right decision. This article gives a look at the statistics, country by country. The author is updating it regularly. And this is creepy: check out Patient 31, the Korean case who spread the virus to 1,500 contacts: a superspreader. She well exceeded the claimed pass-along rate R-naught) of 2.5 by doing things like going out for lunch at a buffet bar with a high fever.
Trump may exploit the virus for authoritarian ends | Added March 14
Andrew Gawthorpe of the [UK] Guardian writes what many of us have been thinking all all along. This may the most critical issue overall, apart from caring for the seriously ill.
From New England School of Homeopathy, re persistence of coronavirus aerosolized in the air | Added March 13
At this moment we understand that this corona virus spreads via the large droplet contact version of transmission. You are likely to read how a group recently was able to show that they can aerosolize the virus into much smaller particles. However, this was done artificially. There is still no evidence that this happens in nature. We keep an eye on this topic. We do not want to do anything that inadvertently causes this virus to aerosolize. With aerosol transmission and no other changes we might see a 60%-70% infection rate. But with good public policy, and if we have the real numbers now, and if transmission is only through contact via droplets, it is still very likely that most people will never get this virus. I still believe that the effective and urgent steps forward lie with good public health policy.
Trump declares national emergency | Added March 13
Pres. Trump has declared a national emergency due to the cornoavirus crisis. He said the words “national emergency” at 3:33 pm EDT in the Rose Garden. I’m listening live; they are trying to put a happy face on the whole business.
On one level this is a technical designation that activates government powers. It’s also a strong symbolic statement that there is a real issue and this is not a Democrat hoax to devalue the stock market and make him look bad.
Mexico may build a beautiful wall | Added March 13
Daily Mail says: For once, the conversation over closing the US-Mexico border is being driven b Mexican health officials who say they are considering shutting out Americans to keep coronavirus out of their country.
There are currently more than 1,900 cases of the virus in the US and it is spreading rapidly. Forty-two people have died from it. By contrast in Mexico, there have only been 16 confirmed cases and no deaths. At a press conference on Friday, health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said: ‘Mexico wouldn’t bring the virus to the United States, rather the United States would bring it here.
Europe is now epicenter of virus | Added March 13
Daily Mail is reporting: Europe is now the epicentre of coronavirus with more daily cases on the continent than China was suffering at the height of its outbreak, the World Health Organisation said today.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the stark assessment today as he bemoaned the ‘tragic milestone’ of 5,000 global deaths from Covid-19.
He added that Europe now has ‘more reported virus cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China’.
The claim that Europe is now outpacing China at its peak is particularly striking because the continent’s population, at around 740 million, is well below China’s population of nearly 1.4 billion.
Oregon governor shuts all K-12 schools | Added March 13
From our bureau in Five Rivers, via KTAU
Trump administration blocks states from using Medicaid to respond to cornoavirus crisis | Added March 13
Los Angeles Times reports: Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services.
In previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs.
But months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic.
What we woke up to today | Added March 13
Basically, American society is shutting down. Sports leagues, cultural events in all of New York City, school districts, university systems including the entire State and City universities of New York (SUNY and CUNY), spring training for MLB, the NBA, some retail businesses…even the Superbowl was canceled retroactively. This is going to be an interesting time in history as all normal facets of life are suspended.
There is no precedent for this, except maybe World War II, though much of American life proceeded as normal as the U.S. was not being bombed.
With high-impact cultural events like 9/11 or the assassination of JFK, many things went dark, but only for a few days. Longterm disruption was isolated locally to lower Manhattan.
Meanwhile, the cover of The New York Times features disinfectant squad workers in Beijing looking like a DEVO video. The stock market as rebounded a bit as investors get used to the new abnormal.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the federal agency supposedly in charge of this kind of thing, issued a worst case scenario wherein up to 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected and up to 1.7 million could die. This would be spread over time — how long, nobody knows — though still, it’s a stunning number, especially considering that one in five people are expected to be symptomatic.
Even if the totals are much smaller, that’s still a lot of hospital beds; a lot of respirators needed. And people have all the same other ailments that have kept the health care system busy up till now.
These are outside numbers — the high estimates. Nobody knows how this is actually going to play out. At top universities and medical centers, epidemiologists are running their computer models that extrapolate based on the known data.
I’m planning to write an article today explaining this the context of the Age of Aquarius, which is about patterns we live by, and I’ll be back with another update in a little while.
Coronavirus gig economy opportunity: get infected for money | Added March 13
Scripps News Service is reporting: A London laboratory is looking for some human guinea pigs willing to contract the coronavirus.
Hvivo, which operates the quarantine lab at Queen Mary BioEnterprises Innovation Centre, is seeking 24 volunteers to inject with the coronavirus and participate in its flu camp. Volunteers will be paid about $4,500 for their participation. The human lab rats will be given two weaker strands of the virus, which can cause mild respiratory symptoms, and then be given new or existing vaccines. This experiment will help researchers develop new vaccines to combat the coronavirus. According to its website, most trials last between 11 and 14 days.
No kidding: Click here to learn more or apply for flu camp. Do not say we sent you.
Question, how is this even legal?
Lights go out on Broadway as Gov. Cuomo bans gatherings of 500 or more in New York City and upstate | Added March 12
From The New York Times: New York will ban most gatherings of more than 500 people, including at Broadway shows, and restrict smaller gatherings in an extraordinary step to fight the growing outbreak of the coronavirus in the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Thursday. Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared an emergency in New York City [watch video].
The restrictions represent New York’s most forceful move yet to try to mitigate the spread of the virus. They are expected to have a profound impact on the city’s cultural institutions, including Broadway, a multibillion dollar industry at the heart of New York’s tourist trade.The ban will take effect at 5 p.m. Thursday for Broadway theaters and will go into effect for other venues on Friday at 5 p.m., Mr. Cuomo said.
The ban also includes upstate, according to the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, which is in the process of postponing all of its shows. New York joins Washington and Oregon in similar bans, though events above 200 and 250 respectively were restricted by those states. These numbers seem ineffectual and entirely arbitrary.
Canadian PM Trudeau in self-quarantine at home while wife awaits coronavirus test | Added March 12
POLITICO reports: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau entered self-isolation Thursday as his wife, Sophie, awaited test results on whether she contracted the coronavirus. A statement from Trudeau’s office said he was not showing symptoms of the virus and would continue working from home.
Trump says he may restrict domestic travel | Added March 12
The New York Times reports: President Trump said on Thursday that he could restrict domestic travel to regions of the United States where the coronavirus becomes “too hot.”
Asked by a reporter in the Oval Office whether he was considering limits on travel inside the country to hard-hit states like Washington or California, Mr. Trump said the subject had not yet been discussed, before adding: “Is it a possibility? Yes, if somebody gets a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot.”
Welcome to another exciting day as a character in a Stephen King novel. Here’s the news, in roundup form | Added March 12
The day began with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing another 10% of its value in the first minutes of trading. This was a predictable reaction to Trump announcing closing off access to the United States from Europe in his Oval Office speech last night.
In addition to stocks, the bond market was experiencing wild swings, as fears of liquidity issues mounted — that is, enough liquid cash to keep the economy going. Various central banks are trying to stem the tide, though so far with little success.
A senior Brazilian official who met with Trump five days ago, and stayed at Mar-a-Lago, tested positive for the virus, Brazilian media are reporting. This is yet another close brush with infection by the president personally.
United States bans travel from Europe | Added March 11
In a televised speech tonight, Pres. Trump said that Europeans would be banned from entering the United States for 30 days, as part of the worldwide struggle against the novel coronavirus. Note, the ban does not affect goods, only people, contrary to what I reported previously. Also, Europe does not include the U.K. — I guess they brexited in time.
On a personal note, I’ve been in some surreal situations as a reporter. I can’t even believe I’m writing this stuff. Thank you for reading and for your news leads, and your thoughts.
From The Wall Street Journal: The president’s comments come as the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, roiled markets and disrupted daily life across the country and around the world. The sober address, which was carried live on television, marked his most direct response to date, though Mr. Trump again tried to sound an optimistic note and defended the actions that have already been taken by his administration.
“This is not a financial crisis,” Mr. Trump said. “This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation, and as a world.”
COVID-19 aerosol may linger for up to three hours | Added March 11
Via The Hill: Federally funded tests conducted by scientists from several major institutions indicated that the novel form of coronavirus behind a worldwide outbreak can survive in the air for several hours.
A study awaiting peer review from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted online Wednesday indicated that the COVID-19 virus could remain viable in the air “up to 3 hours post aerosolization,” while remaining alive on plastic and other surfaces for up to three days.
“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days,” reads the study’s abstract.
Note, it is for this reason that maintaining the strength of your immune system is critically important.
NBA cancels games ’till further notice’ | Added March 11
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement issued shortly after 9:30 p.m. ET. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Attendees of today’s White House meeting | Added March 11
Today, President Donald J. Trump will meet with banking leaders to discuss how the financial services industry can meet the needs of their customers who may be affected by COVID-19, particularly consumers and small businesses.
The Trump Administration continues its aggressive whole-of-government approach while also leading a whole-of-America strategy to bring public health officials, academia, non-profits, and the private sector together to protect the American people.
The following individuals are expected to attend:
The White House
President Donald J. Trump
Vice President Mike Pence
Jared Kushner, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
Christopher Liddell, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination
Marc Short, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President
Larry Kudlow, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council
Andrew Olmem, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Tim Pataki, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Liaison
Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Department of the Treasury
Administrator Jovita Carranza, Small Business Administration
Deputy Secretary Muzinich, Department of the Treasury
Rob Nichols, President and CEO, America Bankers Association
Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Bank of America
Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman and CEO, Blackstone
Ken Griffin, CEO, Citadel
Michael Corbat, CEO, Citi
Richard Hunt, President and CEO, Consumer Bankers Association
David Solomon, Chairman and CEO, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Rebeca Romero Rainey, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Community Bankers of America
Gordon Smith, Co-President and COO, JPMorgan Chase
Kelly King, Chairman and CEO, Truist Financial Corporation
Andrew Cecere, Chairman, President and CEO, U.S. Bank
Charlie Scharf, CEO and President, Wells Fargo & Company
Oh, for fuck’s sake – get a load of this | Added March 11
Via our old, old friends at Alternet: On Wednesday morning, medical experts, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, were testifying before the House Oversight Committee on what to expect from the coronavirus epidemic in the United States.
According to Fauci, “The bottom line: It is going to get worse.” Again and again, the information provided in the hearing completely contradicted the rosy statements that have been coming from Donald Trump and other White House officials and warned of a dire situation ahead.
But before the House could learn too many details, the hearing ended in an abrupt and astounding manner, as the witnesses simply got up and left. At 11:30 ET, Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney was told that the witnesses had to depart. In an attempt to explain what was happening, Fauci said they were going to an “emergency meeting” at the White House.
Then, to add extra confusion, the White House immediately claimed that the meeting was not an emergency … it was just something that Fauci and Redfield didn’t know about and that was so urgent that they had to leave in the middle of congressional testimony.
Reuters report: White House told federal health agency to classify coronavirus deliberations | Added March 11
WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) — The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials.
The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus.
Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said.
“We had some very critical people who did not have security clearances who could not go,” one official said. “These should not be classified meetings. It was unnecessary.”
Novel coronavirus is officially a global pandemic, says World Health Organization | Added March 11
From The New York Times and other sources: The spread of the coronavirus across more than 100 countries now qualifies as a global pandemic, World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday, confirming what many epidemiologists have been saying for weeks.
Until now, the W.H.O. had avoided using the term to describe the epidemic leapfrogging across the world, for fear of giving the impression that it was unstoppable and countries would give up on trying to contain it. The organization had said earlier in the outbreak that it no longer officially declared when an epidemic reaches pandemic proportions, preferring instead to declare global public health emergencies.
Here is the most serious problem: Quarantined health care workers due to potential exposure | Added March 11
National Public Radio reports: “As the U.S. battles to limit the spread of the highly contagious new coronavirus, the number of health care workers ordered to self-quarantine because of potential exposure to an infected patient is rising at an exponential pace. In Vacaville, California, alone, one case — the first documented instance of community transmission in the U.S. — left more than 200 hospital workers under quarantine and unable to work for weeks.”
So if one infected person take out 200 hospital workers, who is going to take care of sick people? Sooner or later, every health care worker will be “potentially exposed.”
Hand washing and avoiding hand-face contact remain best defenses against exposure | Added March 11
Personal comment from Eric: Keeping your hands clean and avoiding touching your face remain the best methods of preventing infection, from everything we’ve been reading. Therefore, make a habit of keeping clean hands, and notice how often you touch your face, so you can slow that down.
Speaking from a scientific standpoint, I see no reason to believe that hand sanitizer accomplishes anything — and it may make matters worse. This is one area where I depart entirely with “experts” and lots of amateurs who believe otherwise. Wash your hands; keep a little container of Dr. Bronner’s in your bag, so you don’t wear down your skin on detergents. Dry your hands and touch the lavatory door handle only through the paper towel (this is good advice any day).
Additionally, the virus seems to move fast in crowds because it can linger in the air for a while (see article about Chinese study below). Therefore, social distancing (such as cancellation of festivals and conventions, and avoiding crowds any time you can) will help considerably until this runs its course. If you are in a crowded area, do what you can to step away from people. This is not always possible but often, it is.
New Yorkers who love to converse speaking loudly eight inches from one another’s faces will need to step back a little. No, we are not arguing, we are friends. When this is over, we can resume our amicable yelling at one another.
Note that if up to 70% of the population may be infected, determine that you will be among the 30% There are plenty of ways to prevent infection.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says up to 70% of Germans could be infected | Added March 11
Echoing the projections of Harvard epidemiologist Mark Lipsitch, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that up to 70% of the German population could be infected by the novel coronavirus. There is nothing special about Germany except the excellent beer and all the fantastic astrologers.
Lipsitch told The Wall Street Journal on Feb. 16 that “it’s likely we’ll see a global pandemic” of coronavirus, with 40 to 70 percent of the world’s population likely to be infected this year.
“What proportion of those will be symptomatic, I can’t give a good number,” added Lipsitch, who is the Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The figure, generally written as R0 and pronounced “R naught,” is an estimate of how many healthy people one contagious person will infect. Because viruses spread exponentially, a few cases can quickly blow up to an overwhelming number. An R0 of two suggests a single infection will, on average, become two, then four, then eight.
NY’s Gov. Guomo admits problem is bigger than we think | Added March 11
Gov. Cuomo admitted in a TV appearance that the current statistics “are a multiple of the real number.” Over the weekend, the federal CDC denied New York labs the right to test for the virus; together, they could have handled an extra 14,000 tests per day.
NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio said Tuesday that cases are coming in “so intensely now that being able to give you a detailed case breakdown, we’re not in that position to do that at this moment because there are so many coming forward,” de Blasio said, speaking at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
State and local responses can fill the leadership and information void left by the federal government, though all statements by public officials need to be checked for their logic and compared to the known facts. [See articles below for information about communicability.]
Primary Source: Document explaining coronavirus / COVID-19 procedures to doctors in the U.K. | Added March 11
We have obtained this document in the “Red Whale” series providing advice to general practitioners (primary care doctors) from Public Health England. It includes clinical procedures considered valid up to that date. Opens as PDF.
Cornavirus ‘highly sensitive’ to high temperatures but don’t count on summer killing it off, studies say | Added March 10
South China Morning Post reports: The virus that causes Covid-19 may have a temperature sweet spot at which it spreads fastest, a new study has suggested, but experts say people should avoid falling into the trap of thinking it will react to seasonal changes in exactly the same way as other pathogens, like those that cause the common cold or influenza. Here is an interesting infographic from SCMP.
Sanders and Biden cancel primary night events in Cleveland; first major primary-related cancellations | Added March 10
From The New York Times: ROMULUS, Mich. — In the first major cancellations of the presidential campaign because of concerns about the coronavirus, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. both called off primary night campaign events Tuesday as they awaited the results of voting in six states.
“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” said Mike Casca, a Sanders campaign spokesman. “We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak. Senator Sanders would like to express his regret to the thousands of Ohioans who had planned to attend the event tonight.”
Mr. Casca added: “All future Bernie 2020 events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”
Report: Feds order 500 million N95 face masks for medical workers | Added March 10
From The Intercept: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just put out a request for contracts for 500 million face masks. Now the bad news: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just issued its request on Wednesday for contracts for the masks that can give health care workers some measure of protection against a new coronavirus — more than three months after the virus, now sickening and killing people worldwide, began to spread in China. And the proposals aren’t due back until March 18. The mask request is just one of several efforts on behalf of federal agencies to round up basic supplies for dealing with the new coronavirus that should have been made much, much earlier.
After cutting much of the infrastructure necessary to protect the U.S. from the virus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2 and which causes a disease called Covid-19, the Trump administration is now scrambling to play catch up, according to a survey of recently released documents. A request for information from the Domestic Strategic National Stockpile’s Office of Resource Management asks vendors of medical supplies how much protective gear they have in stock.
The survey, which went out to government contractors on February 24, queries the companies about their current and projected inventory of “N95 Respirators, Surgical N95 Masks, Coveralls, Tyvek Suits or equivalent Coverall, Gowns, Non-Splash Goggles, and Face Shields” to assist with the outbreak. Responses are due on March 24.
New Rochelle, New York establishes containment area, believed to be the first of its kind in U.S. | Added March 10
The Wall Street Journal reports: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state would deploy National Guard troops and establish a “containment area” in a Westchester County suburb at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the state.
“Starting Thursday, the state plans to close facilities for two weeks in a roughly three-square-mile area of New Rochelle and limit large public gatherings, officials said. People would be able to enter and exit the zone and move about within it.
“Mr. Cuomo said Tuesday the National Guard would be deployed to the area to help with cleaning, food delivery for people under quarantine, and transportation. Northwell Health, a private hospital system with a private lab, will set up a satellite testing facility in the area.”
Here’s a partial list of public event cancellations | Added March 10
Pearl Jam tour, South by Southwest, Google’s I/O developer event scheduled for May (and all of Italy), are among the casualties. Read coverage here.
Stocks, futures, crude and T-Bills revive slightly | Added March 10
After the worst losses in 10 years and a rare computer-triggered shutdown of trading in New York, global stocks and oil prices rebounded a bit today. Part of the panic of what will be known as the March 9 crash involved an oil price war between Russia and Saudi, with oil losing a quarter of its value over the weekend.
Highly recommended | Added March 10
You may watch the whole March 9 press briefing featuring Trump, Pence, Azar, Fauci and the gang. This is the official version of events — from a reporting standard, an important benchmark to work with. It’s 47 minutes and worth it.
China claims coronavirus cases level off | Added March 10
From the South China Morning Post: “Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Wuhan – epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – on Tuesday morning, as the number of new infections in mainland China continued its downward trend on Monday, with just 19 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.” There were no new cases reported elsewhere in China, the article says.
Thailand Medical News responds: “Seriously? Out of a population of 1.4 billion Chinese, where in the rural sites, people are filthy with no proper regards for hygiene standards or social behavior.”
Virus can travel twice as far as official ‘safe distance’ and stay in air for 30 minutes, says Chinese study | Added March 10
From the South China Morning Post: “The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can linger in the air for at least 30 minutes and travel up to 4.5 metres – further than the “safe distance” advised by health authorities around the world, according to a study by a team of Chinese government epidemiologists.
“The researchers also found that it can last for days on a surface where respiratory droplets land, raising the risk of transmission if unsuspecting people touch it and then rub their face.”
This runs contrary to the claims of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who suggested today on Morning Joe that it’s relatively safe for people to be in close proximity.
Dangerous Delays in U.S. Coronavirus Testing Continue | Added March 9
The Atlantic writes: Nearly two weeks after the new coronavirus was first found to be spreading among Americans, the United States remains dangerously limited in its capacity to test people for the illness, an ongoing investigation from The Atlantic has found.
After surveying of local data from across the country, we can only verify that 4,384 people have been tested for the coronavirus nationwide, as of today at 4 p.m. eastern. These data are as comprehensive a compilation of official statistics as currently possible.
The lack of testing means that it is almost impossible to know how many Americans are infected with the coronavirus and suffering from COVID-19, the disease it causes. While our analysis has tracked state and local announcements that more than 570 people in 36 states are infected, experts say that number is almost certainly too small to reflect the full extent of the disease’s spread in the U.S. Not enough Americans have been tested for officials to know how many people are ill, they say.
Italian PM Extends Lockdown to Entire Country | Added March 9
The Guardian reports: More than 60 million people in Italy are to be put under lockdown after the country’s government extended emergency measures across the entire country in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, announced the drastic measures at an evening press conference late on Monday, during which he told people to “stay at home” and banned all public gatherings – including Serie A football matches.
“There is no more time. I will take responsibility for these measures. Our future is in our hands,” he told reporters.
Italy is struggling to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of Covid-19, which has claimed 463 lives and infected 9,172 people.
Congressman who made gas mask joke was exposed to person with Covid19 and then hung out with Prez on Air Force 1 | Added March 9
Business Insider and others are reporting: GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz on Monday announced he’s self-quarantined, just days after Democrats accused him of making light of coronavirus by wearing a gas mask on the House floor as he and other lawmakers voted to approve $8.3 billion to help combat the outbreak.
Gaetz interacted with an individual at the the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last month who’s been infected with coronavirus.
“Congressman Gaetz was informed today that he came into contact with a CPAC attendee 11 days ago who tested positive for COVID-19,” the Florida Republican’s staff said in a series of tweets. “Congressman Gaetz had expected COVID-19 to impact Congress, given the elevated frequency of travel and human contact, and demonstrated his concern last week on the House Floor.”
So much for the journalist theory, see next item.
Vanity Fair: Trump Afraid Journalist Will Give Him Virus | Added March 9
Now why would we want to do that? Anyway, here is a snip of a current Vanity Fair piece on Trump, an admitted germophobe, being frantic about the current situation. To wit:
“Stories about Trump’s coronavirus fears have spread through the White House. Last week Trump told aides he’s afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One, a person close to the administration told me. The source also said Trump has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening program and bar anyone who has a cough from the White House grounds. ‘He’s definitely melting down over this’, the source said.”
Port Authority Chief Tested Positive for Coronavirus | Added March 8
Rick Cotton, who is in charge of the Port Authority for New York and New Jersey, has tested positive for coronavirus. This brings the total number of cases in New York to 142, most of which are located in Westchester County (just north of New York City). New York now has more confirmed cases than Washington State, which has had 136 confirmed cases so far.
Varying Estimates on Durability of Virus on Surfaces: Finally a Bit of Good News | Added March 9
Business Insider has published a new article suggesting that the current coronavirus may not be as durable as has been said. We’ve been reading that it can stay alive for a week to nine days. “The rough range is ‘likely hours to a day or so’, Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, told Business Insider.”
The article continues: “A study published this week in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at the lifespans of other coronaviruses found in humans on various surfaces. The SARS coronavirus, at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), lasted for two days on steel, four days on wood and glass, and five days on metal, plastic, and ceramics. (The researchers also found that one strain of SARS lasted up to nine days on a plastic surface at room temperature.)
“SARS survived for two to eight hours on aluminum and for less than eight hours on latex.
“According to Graham, these findings likely apply to the new coronavirus, since smooth, nonporous surfaces like doorknobs and tabletops are better at carrying viruses in general. Porous surfaces — like money, hair, and fabric — don’t allow viruses to survive as long because the small spaces or holes in them can trap the microbe and prevent its transfer, Graham said.”
U.S. Corporate Bonds Could Face ‘Minsky Moment’ | Added March 9
In response to fears of a worldwide recession, The Guardian (UK) is reporting that we could be facing another subprime mortgage crisis — this time instigated by risky borrowing by oil companies, followed by a market panic. The Guardian writes:
“Deutsche Bank has just issued a note warning there could be a ‘Minsky moment’ for high-yield American bonds – in a nod to the economist Hyman Minsky’s theory on how markets can crash amid widespread panic following periods of speculative investment.”
Here’s a Wall Street Journal roundup of current events | Added March 9
Wall Street Journal reports: “The novel coronavirus epidemic reached a new stage globally, with confirmed cases outside China tripling over the past week and governments warning of more infections among people who recently traveled to countries where infection rates are rising.
“Financial market turmoil intensified. Stock markets around the world plunged again on Monday, though also behind the selloff was a crash in oil prices caused by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Investors worried that this could trigger broader financial problems just as the global economy takes a severe hit from the virus outbreak. Oil prices fell more than 20%, and the 10-year Treasury note yield dipped below 0.4%, a historic low.
“The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases was more than 110,000 Monday, with infections in 108 countries and regions, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There were 29,306 cases outside mainland China, versus around 10,000 a week ago. The U.S. tally rose to 554 cases, with 21 deaths.
“The world-wide death toll stood at 3,825—the bulk of which were in China, especially in the central city of Wuhan, which first reported the pneumonia-like virus in December. Italy has the second-highest number of deaths at 366, and the total number of confirmed infections in the Mediterranean country climbed to 7,375 over the weekend, almost catching up with South Korea’s 7,478 cases.”
Coronavirus Said to Have Three Binding Modes | Added March 9
Thailand Medical News is reporting that SARS-Cov-2, an official name for the current coronavirus, has three binding modes rather than the two previously thought by researchers. The article states, in part:
“A genomic researcher and virologist from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, who wanted to comment under conditions of anonymity said that already when researchers were studying the ACE-2 receptor entry mode, it was discovered that this new coronavirus could utilize not only the protease called TMPRSS2 to enter the cells but at least 8 different other proteases, making things highly difficult when trying to develop inhibitors and drugs. With the advent that it could also use furin as a gateway it made things more complicated. He said that if this pre-print study is confirmed, it would really add a major obstacle to developing proper therapeutics to cure the disease.”
Saudi-Russian Oil Price War Deepens Market Turmoil | Added March 9
An oil price war between Saudi and Russia has sent financial markets into further turmoil. Some markets are down nearly 20% from their high points earlier this year and all are well below ‘correction’ territory of 10%. And now a price war, punishment inflicted by Saudi against Russia for refusing to join OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is creating more chaos in a market mentality already driven by fear.
Here is how the Wall Street Journal is describing the scenario today:
“Markets shuddered Monday in the face of a price war for oil and the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, with frightened investors seeking shelter in the safety of government bonds and propelling yields to unprecedented lows.
“Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 4.9%, pointing to a decline of over 1,200 points in the blue-chips gauge after trading opens in New York. The futures contracts earlier hit the 5% maximum allowed in a single session, breaching the limit for the first time since shortly after President Trump’s 2016 election victory.
“Saudi Arabia’s decision over the weekend to instigate a price war as it escalates a clash with Russia sent oil prices down by the most since the Gulf War in January 1991. Crude prices, along with U.S. government bond yields, are typically viewed as key barometers of economic health and confidence, said Gregory Perdon, co-chief investment officer at private bankers Arbuthnot Latham.”
Factcheck.org roundup of social media rumors | Added March 9
Factcheck.org writes, “Multiple social media posts are spreading a bogus conspiracy theory about the deadly Wuhan virus. The posts falsely claim that the virus has been patented and a vaccine is already available. That’s not true; the patents the posts refer to pertain to different viruses.”
Scarsdale, NY Schools Closed Through March 18 | Added March 8
New York Times reporting: “New York City suburb in Westchester County, announced that it would close schools from Monday through March 18 after a faculty member at the district’s middle school tested positive for the virus.”
CBS Philadelphia reporting: “A Montgomery County school will close for three days after a student’s relative tested presumptive positive for coronavirus. Germantown Academy will be closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, officials announced on Sunday.” Bucks County has also had a closure.
WaPo roundup piece describes travel restrictions in Saudi and Italy, Iran suspends flights, and lots more unfortunate stuff | Added March 8
Washington Post reports tonight: Governments intensified their efforts Sunday to combat the global spread of the novel coronavirus, as Saudi Arabia followed Italy in enacting new travel restrictions, Iran suspended flights to Europe, and the United States, where the number of cases topped 500, warned citizens against cruise travel.
NYT Reporting that “Regional Lockdowns are Possible” | Added March 8
The New York Times says in one ominous paragraph, “A top U.S. health official says regional lockdowns are possible and warns the most vulnerable against travel. A cruise ship prepares to dock.”
New York’s Gov. Cuomo Blasts CDC for Refusing to Allow Private Labs to do Coronavirus Testing | Added March 8
Gov. Cuomo today denounced the CDC’s refusal to grant permission to seven private labs in New York to perform automated coronavirus testing, even though they would be able to test up to 2,000 people a day. While it is unclear why the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is preventing these tests, the president has stated that keeping the reported numbers of infected people low is a priority of his.
Italy Locks Down Northern Region to Prevent Covid19 Spread | Added March 8
SUNDAY’S NEW YORK TIMES IS REPORTING: ROME — Italy’s government early Sunday took the extraordinary step of locking down much of the country’s north, restricting movement for about a quarter of the Italian population in regions that serve as the country’s economic engine.
The move represents the most sweeping effort outside China to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and is tantamount to sacrificing the Italian economy in the short term to save it from the ravages of the virus in the long term.
Planet Waves FM Late Tonight will Cover These Issues | Added March 7
I’m planning Planet Waves FM tonight that will unravel some of the issues I’ve been writing about in my recent articles, including the one I published Thursday. I’m planning this as the season finale of FM, as I’m intending to take off next week’s program and resume with the first show of the new season, at the equinox in two weeks. As for tonight — I’ve usually got the program on the FM tab above by about 10 pm.
New York State Declares Emergency | Added March 7
The New York Times is reporting: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York rose to 76.
The governor’s announcement came as concerns about the spread of the virus increased in New York City, which has 11 confirmed cases. The newest one appeared to involve a driver for taxi or ride-sharing services in Queens, officials said.
Psychology Today Piece from Feb. 27 May Be Outdated | Added March 7
This is an interesting piece from Psychology Today, which sometimes has some progressive blog posts. It’s arguing that the real issue is fear, based on the numbers. But it’s a bit “soft science” in that it’s not using epidemiological models that suggest 40% to 70% of the population could get the virus. I’m not saying I believe that, though I’m also looking for factors that might intervene, and I don’t see any on this plane of existence.
City of Austin Shuts Down South-by-Southwest Festival | Added March 6
SXSW has issued the following statement: The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.
We are devastated to share this news with you. “The show must go on” is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.
As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.
We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.
We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts.
We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love. Though it’s true that our March 2020 event will no longer take place in the way that we intended, we continue to strive toward our purpose – helping creative people achieve their goals.
Everything is Going Beautifully; Infected Patient in Georgia Sent Home Without Testing | Added March 6
A woman infected with coronavirus was sent home from a Georgia hospital without being tested for the disease, because she did not meet the CDC’s testing requirements that were in place at the time. When her symptoms worsened, she returned to the hospital, where doctors then insisted on testing her even though she still did not meet the CDC’s criteria. That test result came back positive. The CDC loosened the requirements on Wednesday, which now allow doctors to administer tests at their discretion. See article below about problems with test inconsistencies.
Cases of infection pass 100,000, and W.H.O. calls for wider action | Added March 6
From The New York Times: The world’s leading health official implored international leaders to unleash the full power of their governments to combat the new coronavirus outbreak.
“This is not a drill,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. “This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”
But around the world, as the number of cases passed 100,000, governments have displayed signs of paralysis, obfuscation and a desire to protect their own interests, even as death tolls passed 3,200 and global capitals were so threatened by infection that politicians and health officials tested positive for the illness.
In the United States, a survey of nurses found that only 29 percent had a plan to isolate potentially infected patients. Across the nation, as the number of new cases passed 200, public health labs anxiously awaited diagnostic kits, which will allow for a fuller sense of the scale of the crisis.
New York State Orders Televangelist to Stop Selling Colloidal Silver as Cure for Coronavirus | Added March 6
The New York Attorney General has sent a cease and desist order (PDF) to televangelist Jim Bakker, requiring him to stop marketing his silver solution as a coronavirus cure. On Feb. 12, Bakker had a guest on his television show who made the fraudulent claims that the silver solution he sells can kill coronaviruses within 12 hours and heal infected people by boosting their immune systems. The false claims violated several New York state laws which prohibit fraudulent and deceptive business practices and false advertising. Jim Bakker is no stranger to being on the wrong side of the law, having spent time in federal prison after being found guilty of eight counts of mail fraud, fifteen counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy, for his previous scams.
Editor’s Note: We don’t know what colloidal silver can and cannot do about the current problem, though a medical source tells us that generally results are connected to the quality and freshness of the product. Nobody should be advertising it as a guaranteed cure, and certainly not in 12 hours.
Statement by a quarantined nurse from a northern California Kaiser facility (distributed by California Nurses Association) | Added March 6
Published March 5, 2020 | Link to PDF
As a nurse, I’m very concerned that not enough is being done to stop the spread of the coronavirus. I know because I am currently sick and in quarantine after caring for a patient who tested positive. I’m awaiting “permission” from the federal government to allow for my testing, even after my physician and county health professional ordered it.
I volunteered to be on the care team for this patient, who we knew was positive. I did this because I had all the recommended protective gear and training from my employer. I did this assuming that if something happened to me, of course I too would be cared for. Then, what was a small concern after a few days of caring for this patient, became my reality:
I started getting sick.
When employee health told me that my fever and other symptoms fit the criteria for potential coronavirus, I was put on a 14-day self-quarantine. Since the criteria was met, the testing would be done. My doctor ordered the test through the county.
The public county officer called me and verified my symptoms and agreed with testing. But the National CDC [Centers for Disease Control, a federal agency] would not initiate testing. They said they would not test me because if I were wearing the recommended protective equipment, then I wouldn’t have the coronavirus.
What kind of science-based answer is that? What a ridiculous and uneducated response from the department that is in charge of our health in this country.
Later, they called back, and now it’s an issue with something called the “identifier number.” They claim they prioritize running samples by illness severity and that there are only so many to give out each day. So I have to wait in line to find out the results.
This is not the ticket dispenser at the deli counter; it’s a public health emergency! I am a registered nurse, and I need to know if I am positive before going back to caring for patients.
I am appalled at the level of bureaucracy that’s preventing nurses from getting tested. That is a health care decision my doctor and my county health department agree with. Delaying this test puts the whole community at risk.
I have the backing of my union. Nurses aren’t going to stand by and let this testing delay continue; we are going to stand together to make sure we can protect our patients—by being protected ourselves.
News Reports Shed Light on Test Inconsistencies | Added March 5
Even though potentially infected people have been reentering the public, trusting that their negative test results mean they don’t have the infection, those results may not actually mean anything. A San Francisco man was tested for coronavirus seven times in two weeks. His results? Two negatives, two positives and one inconclusive (he is still waiting for the final two results).
UPDATE: They are using PCR and also antibody. PCR amplifies the DNA. Antibody looks for the immune products of exposure.
Note, here is a BBC piece on problems with the tests.
Seattle Area Acts to Contain Virus Spread | Added March 5
From The Wall Street Journal: Seattle-area companies and schools began implementing contingency plans Thursday to help contain the new coronavirus in the region, where the number of confirmed cases jumped to 70 from 39 a day earlier.
New coronavirus cases continued to climb globally, and some health officials warned it would be impossible to fully contain the pathogen now that infections are spreading within many communities.
Washington, the hardest-hit U.S. state and where all but one of the country’s 11 deaths have occurred, took more aggressive measures to combat the virus’s spread Thursday.
Gov. Jay Inslee encouraged residents and organizations to give “serious consideration” to canceling or postponing large events as the virus spreads to new parts of the state, and advised more vulnerable populations—like elderly residents or those with underlying illnesses—to avoid large public gatherings. He also directed state insurance providers to waive copays and deductibles for anyone qualified for testing for the new coronavirus.
Getting the Flu Can Land Prisoners in Solitary Confinement | Added March 5
Solitary Watch has published an article warning that prisoners who get the flu can be sent to solitary confinement. Solitary is considered a form of torture. Influenza can race through a prison population. Our editor Carol van Strum writes, “This is typical of the alleged health care at prisons and jails nationwide. You can imagine coronavirus sweeping through any or every one of them. And no one cares, because prisoners are considered subhuman.”
Trump Disputes Mortality Numbers; Contradicts WHO | Added March 5
In a phone call to his unofficial adviser Sean Hannity’s television show, broadcast on the program, President Trump declared that the World Health Organization’s estimated COVID-19 fatality rate of 3.4% was a “false number.”
The president did not cite any evidence that contradicted the WHO’s data-driven assessment, instead admitting that his position that the true rate of a “fraction of 1%” was merely based on a “hunch.” President Trump also suggested that people with the virus could “go to work,” contradicting the unanimous advice of health experts and those familiar with germ theory. Experts caution anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the virus to stay home and minimize human contact, in order to avoid infecting others. See the CDC’s complete list of prevention and treatment strategies.
Stocks Open Lower in Trading Thursday | Added March 5
The Wall Street Journal is reporting as of 10 am: U.S. stocks and bond yields dropped Thursday, reflecting continued volatility in markets as investors around the world remain jittery about the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 650 points, or 2.5%, shortly after the opening bell, erasing much of the gains notched Wednesday. A strong Super Tuesday performance by former Vice President Joe Biden and growing signs of a coordinated response to the coronavirus led to a sharp rally in U.S. stocks. The S&P 500 fell 2.3%. The Nasdaq Composite shed 1.9%.
California Declares State of Emergency | Added March 5
The New York Times is reporting: “Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced on Wednesday that a cruise ship returning to the state from Hawaii that had suspected links to two coronavirus cases, one of them fatal, was being held off the coast of San Francisco, as public health officials prepared to screen everyone on the ship. Eleven passengers and 10 crew members on the boat were showing symptoms on Wednesday, the governor said.”
Crisis Reveals Serious Gaps in American Health Care System | Added March 5
The Washington Post reports: “The growing coronavirus outbreak in the United States is revealing serious gaps in the health system’s ability to respond to a major epidemic, forcing hospitals and doctors to improvise emergency plans daily, even as they remain uncertain how bad the crisis will get.”
Comment on the Muzzling of Public Health Experts | Added March 4
Mike Halpern writes for EcoWatch: “The Trump administration is scrambling to reconcile the president’s contradictions of statements made by federal health scientists about the emerging coronavirus crisis. Their solution: muzzle scientists, require that all statements be politically vetted through Vice President Pence, and punish federal employees who draw attention to gross negligence. This is a highly dangerous power grab that undermines both emergency response and public faith in the reliability of information coming out of the government. And it speaks to the incompetence and incoherence of the response to this crisis so far.”
NPR Has Done a Roundup of Hand Washing Videos | Added March 4
The world is changing. Hand washing is now a thing, and an objet d’art. National Public Radio has gathered the best of the genre. If you love Asia…
Coronavirus is an Evolving Story — and Virus | Added March 4
The coronavirus has evolved into two major types, with differing transmission rates and geographical distribution, according to a study published in the National Science Review on Tuesday. According to South China Morning Post:
“A group of Chinese scientists analysed 103 coronavirus genomes and identified mutations in 149 sites across the strains.
“They found that one type, which they called the L type, was more prevalent than the other, the S type, meaning it was more infectious. They also found that the L type had evolved from the S type, and that the L type was far more widespread before January 7 and in Wuhan, ground zero of the outbreak.”
At least something is evolving on the planet.
China is Reporting Reinfections Among Recovered Patients | Added March 4
Thailand Medical News is reporting that there are cases of reinfection in China. We heard about this a few weeks ago as well.
Coronavirus May Render Certain Men Infertile | Added March 4
Exposure to the current version of coronavirus may render certain men infertile, even if they recover, according to Thailand Medical News. This also implies that the virus is sexually transmitted, which is a no-brainer. From the article:
“Coronavirus research by medical scientists from Nanjing Medical University and Suzhou Hospital lead by Dr Jianqing Wang, head of the Department of Urology, at Suzhou Hospital say that certain males affected by the SARS-Cov2 coronavirus which causes the Covid-19 disease might likely become infertile even if they recover from the infection.
“The team of urology researchers that comprised of Dr Jianqing Wang, Dr Caibin Fan, Dr Kai Li, Dr Yanhong Ding and Dr Wei Lu focused primarily on renal and testicular tissues as these were also ‘rich’ with ACE2 receptors especially the renal tubular cells, Leydig cells and cells in seminiferous ducts in the testis.”
French Satire Site Claims Trump Orders Closing of Pizzerias | Added March 4
A French satire website has claimed that due to the high number of infections in Italy, Trump has ordered closings of pizzerias in the United States. We know so little. It could be the tomato sauce. [Editor’s note, do they even have pizza in Italy?]
Mike Pence May Be Especially Qualified as Coronaczar | Added March 4
Vice President Pence may hold a special qualification to head the nation’s effort to combat coronavirus — exposure to the pathogen. According to Tampa Bay News:
“When Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida for a fundraiser just days after he was named the nation’s point person on coronavirus, he met 44 students from the Sarasota Military Academy.
“Now one of those students’ classmates is under a self quarantine because he was possibly exposed to coronavirus. According to a leader at the school, Pence’s office has reached out to ask: Could the vice president also have come into contact with the illness?” Read more here.
Audio, Video Equipment Banned from Virus Press Briefing | Added March 3
Topping off an exciting first day of publishing on this topic, we learned tonight that audio and video equipment were banned from a federal press briefing about coronavirus, according to Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.
Were reporters also required to be blindfolded and to wear hearing protection?
Veep Mike Pence was one of the speakers.
According to Raw Story:
“During the briefing, according to correspondent Katie Rogers, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the CDC will be broadening its testing program. He also announced that the Office of Management and Budget will be issuing a directive for all federal agencies to follow State Department advisories and review their internal travel policies.
“Yesterday, the Defense Intelligence Agency became the first federal agency to ban all nonessential domestic government travel, including for meetings, training, and backfill work.”
On the Topic of Hand Sanitizer | Added March 3
My friend Beth when in nursing school took microbio lab with a prof name Dawn Holsapple. Every semester they did the same experiment — test the efficacy of household disinfectant and cleaning products, one of which was Purell.
Every time they got the same result — Purell made matters worse. Remember that this is what nurses are told will sanitize their hands as they go from bed to bed. Handwashing is an issue in nursing; a retired nurse recently told me that through her career, she washed her hands into being 10 years older than she is.
Anyway, here is the upshot of the experiment’s results, which Beth said were repeated every semester:
1. Using sanitizer means not washing.
2. Using sanitizer means not mechanically removing anything, as with soap and water. Rather, all the original material stays in place and is merely smeared around a little.
3. Purell contains polysaccharides to thicken it. This is an adhesive and it also feeds microbes. So the original microbes remain; they are fed additionally by body heat and perspiration; and the adhesive attaches new microbes as you contact other surfaces. These are fed by the product. Then those microbes are spread from contact to contact, i.e., from bed to bed.
4. Contact with alcohol kills some microbes, but it must be sustained contact with greater than 70% alcohol. Purell is not sustained contact, it is momentary contact. Sustained, depending on the pathogen, might mean 15 minutes. Or five minutes. Purell is neither.
5. BONUS: Beth Bagner read this article and adds, “Also kills healthy bacteria (probiotic) that protects your skin.” It’s the perfect product!
Side note, Purell tried to sell surgeons on its product, in lieu of the five-minute scrub. They said no way.
Now, if you think, how could the chemical manufacturer claim it works, well, PCB transformers were required by insurance companies as safety equipment well into the 1970s when it was well known (within the electrical industry) that they would not only not prevent fires, but explode.
But still, the marketing department could say, “They’re so safe the insurance company requires them,” which was the product of another dirty deal.
And on a Historical Note: Lysol was Contaminated with Dioxin
Also in disinfectant news, for many years, Lysol was contaminated with dioxin, out of the factory. The active ingredient was Santophen made by Monsanto. This is your morality tale if you don’t think that a wholesome-seeming product touted as perfectly safe just might have a problem…Lysol had a big problem, and it was advertised as safe for dogs and kids, and your kitchen and your sink…and it was spreading the Vietnam War-era toxin dioxin.
This quotation is from the appellate brief in the case Kemner v. Monsanto circa 1989. The term “2,3,7,8” is a technical nickname for dioxin, referring to the positions of the chlorine molecules in the most toxic form of the substance (a chlorine byproduct), formally called 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-para-dioxin. It is considered the most toxic chemical known to science. Lysol was laced with 2,3,7,8 for years, possibly decades.
“Monsanto’s Santophen is the active ingredient in Lysol disinfectant and cleaning products. Monsanto’s analytical chemist, Fred Hileman, testified that Monsanto knew that Lysol is recommended for cleaning babies’ toys and for various other cleaning activities involving direct contact with the human body. Yet, there is no dioxin warning on the Lysol package. Hileman testified that he knew people who used Lysol were contacting three parts per billion of 2,3,7,8 and that 2,3,7,8 is extremely toxic. Hileman testified that he knew people were spraying their lawns with products containing Monsanto’s 2,3,7,8 and that these people didn’t even know it because they had not been told the products contained dioxin, let alone 2,3,7,8.”
Personal Note: I Am Not Sold on Hand “Sanitizer” | Added March 3
I am concerned that so many resources are advocating hand sanitizer. I am aware of research that says it backfires (like many products of the chemical industry). My primary concern is that it dissuades hand washing and gives a false sense of security.
There is no substitute for having actually clean hands. (Then, notice how often you touch your face.) Hand-washing works (20 seconds, good rinse, nice and dry — change home hand towels often and do NOT use public hand towels). I will believe in “sanitizer” when I see actual data that a moment of contact can kill a virus that can survive exposed to oxygen on a dry surface for a week.
Wash your hands as many times a day as possible, particularly before eating (and eating out). Wash them when you come in from public spaces. If you want something on the go, keep alcohol and hand-towels or paper towels with you. At least the benefit of that is mechanical removal of whatever is on your hands, rather than just smearing it around with “sanitizer,” which I have long considered evil. — efc
Paper on Coronavirus Science & Protocol by Stephen Buhner | Added March 3
We are tracking both scientific AND holistic angles of this situation and will keep you posted with any information that seems relevant. I explained in my Monday subscriber newsletter that this situation pretty much demands we step out of the authoritative medicine model, and into what is called “alternative” medicine. This requires careful thought, study, research and discernment. I offer you this white paper by Buhner for your consideration. He seems well versed on the scientific level.
Brown Professor Refused Test Despite Exposure Abroad | Added March 3
The Rhode Island Department of Health refused to test Brown University Professor Onésimo Almeida for COVID-19 after his recent trip to Portugal, even though he had been exposed to an infected person there and was exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Although he has mostly recovered at this point, the RIDOH’s unwillingness to administer the test is part of a concerning pattern across the United States, where many are finding it extremely difficult to get tested. As of March 1, 2020, the CDC reported that only 472 people in the country had been tested.
Pope Francis Tests Negative for Coronavirus | Added March 3
Pope Francis tested negative for COVID-19. There was some worry that he might have been infected after he displayed cold symptoms, but the 83-year-old Holy Father tested negative for the virus after canceling a slew of public appearances.
New York City Has Tested 12 People for Coronavirus; Feds Remove Data from CDC Website | Added March 3
As of March 3, New York City has tested just 12 people for the virus, according the Department of Health website [see little graphic on page]. Therefore, the official ‘infected’ count is way under reality. Testing for this epidemic has been beset by problems since the beginning, including a botched protocol that was getting false positives. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control removed testing data from its website, according to U.S. Rep Mark Pocan.
Fed Cuts Prime Rate by One-Half Percent | Added March 3
The Federal Reserve has cut the prime rate as long-term concerns with coronavirus mount. The prime rate is the interest rate banks pay to borrow from the Federal Reserve Bank. Cutting the prime rate is though to help create economic stimulus. Some have called this insane, with the Fed using one of the few available tools it has before it’s needed, when it won’t do much good. By any measure, at any time, a half-point cut in the prime is massive.
Pathologist Says COVID-19 is a Snake-Related | Added March 3
A pathologist named Dr. James Robb, one of the early researchers of coronaviruses, posted a now-viral “dear colleague” letter. We have high confidence that it is authentic and have re-posted it to Planet Waves.
Dr. Robb has been researching coronaviruses since the 1970s.
The letter gives most of the usual advice for avoiding infection, including avoiding public contact surfaces, no handshaking, hand washing, cleaning surfaces with disinfectant wipes and so forth. He notes that the virus can survive on dry surfaces or cloth for up to one week.
The most interesting thing in the letter is that he says that the origin is snakes. It’s been previously reported as being conveyed to humans from bats.
He writes, “Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defense against it. Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved.”
From a homeopathic standpoint, its origin as a snake virus should provide some clues as to the genus epidemicus, or remedy for the epidemic itself.
Respiratory Virus that Only Infects Lung Tissue | Added March 3
This is worth taking note of. Dr. Robb writes,
“This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon.
“This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.”
We Have Received a Recommendation for a Colloidal Silver Source | Added March 3
One of our clients who is a holistic physician in Europe has recommended a brand of colloidal silver that she prefers. It is available on Amazon in Germany.
Colloidal silver is a suspension of silver particles in distilled water, created through electrolysis. It has long been reported to have antimicrobial properties, but from a capitalist standpoint, it has two problems: it’s inexpensive and nontoxic.
Look at the research and make up your mind; be mindful that there are going to be lots of articles claiming it does not work. This will always be the case where a natural or alternative remedy is concerned.
International Olympic Committee Says Games Will Go On | | Added March 3
The International Olympic Committee has said that the games will go on, according to press reports.
The 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to be played from Friday, July 24, to Saturday, Aug. 9 and are planned for Tokyo. As of Tuesday, there was no announcement on the Olympic Committee’s website.