Covid19 News from Planet Waves — April 2020 entries

We’ll be keeping track of what we determine to be the most relevant updates on the coronavirus situation. New items will go at the top. If you have something to report — news, science news, or a check-in from your local area — please send to Stay in touch and help us out by sharing this resource with others. This blog is published by Chiron Return, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, which is an affiliate of the Pacifica Radio Network.

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This is an archive of the April 2020 entries for the Covid19 news feed. You may return to the current page here.

USNS Comfort makes its exit from New York Harbor on April 30. It’s good we really didn’t need her. The purpose of the Comfort was to take non-covid cases to clear up the predicted over the top overwhelm of NYC hospitals, which never happened — not as threatened. Neither were SUNY or CUNY dorms used, as threatened. Hotels were abandoned immediately — terrible idea. We forget how intense the drama of dire predictions was two months ago. The world was going to end and the bodies were going to be piled high. My friend Dave Hoffman (high level medical/union/HMO attorney) was saying that droves of people might have to be turned away from NYC hospitals due to overcrowding, in violation of the law. That did not happen. The real problem turned out to be lack of basic equipment — gloves, masks, face shields, etc.

Censorship in the time of the coronavirus | Added April 30

Journalist Matt Taibbi has a new article wherein he observes and discusses the ongoing transformation of discourse on the internet, and how opinions that do not adhere to mainstream views are being demonized and cancelled. What follows below is the intro of his article, from his website:

Earlier this week, The Atlantic magazine – fast becoming the favored media outlet for self-styled intellectual elites of the Aspen Institute type – ran an in-depth article of the problems free speech pose to American society in the coronavirus era. The headline:

Matt Taibbi, one of my fave journalists ever.

Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal

“In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.”

Authored by a pair of law professors from Harvard and the University of Arizona, Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Keane Woods, the piece argued that the American and Chinese approaches to monitoring the Internet were already not that dissimilar:

“Constitutional and cultural differences mean that the private sector, rather than the federal and state governments, currently takes the lead in these practices… But the trend toward greater surveillance and speech control here, and toward the growing involvement of government, is undeniable and likely inexorable.”

They went on to list all the reasons that, given that we’re already on an “inexorable” path to censorship, a Chinese-style system of speech control may not be such a bad thing. In fact, they argued, a benefit of the coronavirus was that it was waking us up to “how technical wizardry, data centralization, and private-public collaboration can do enormous public good.”

Perhaps, they posited, Americans could be moved to reconsider their “understanding” of the First and Fourth Amendments, as “the harms from digital speech” continue to grow, and “the social costs of a relatively open Internet multiply.”

Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Michael J Fromholtz

Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents | Added April 30

In what seems like a measure that was long overdue, free testing for Covid-19 is now available in at least one major US city. That city is Los Angeles, and although it was later clarified that testing will not be offered to low-risk or asymptomatic individuals, and despite the untrustworthiness of the tests, the fact that the tests are widely available may be a problem of its own. The PCR test being used does not reliably prove a person is infected. It establishes they may potentially have a substance in epithelial tissue in their nose. However, as many have pointed out credibly, this is not proof of infection, of disease, or of being a disease vector. One is not a “case” if they test positive, though they are counted as one.

This story comes to us from the Washington Post:

All Los Angeles city and county residents will now have access to free coronavirus tests at city-run testing sites regardless of whether they have symptoms, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) announced Wednesday.

Previously, testing in Los Angeles was limited to individuals showing symptoms, front-line workers and those who lived or were employed at institutional facilities such as nursing homes. By opening the city’s testing centers to the broader population, Garcetti said officials hope to stem the spread of the potentially deadly infection by identifying asymptomatic carriers while also gaining a better understanding of the virus’s impacts on the community.

“As long as this disease spreads, we have to continue to scale, and as long as this disease takes lives, we must test,” Garcetti said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “We know that coronavirus is a silent killer that moves quietly through the population, and many of the people who transmit the disease, this is why it is so deadly, don’t know that they have it.”

Armed protesters in Michigan demand end to lockdown | Added April 30

“You aren’t allowed to bring in posters to the Michigan State Capitol, but you can bring guns and rifles.” This pretty much sums up what happened on April 30 when, according to an article from Common Dreams, armed protesters “stormed the Michigan state house” in defiance of the stay-at-home order currently in place and called for said order to end.

What follows is from the article:

The right-wing movement against public health measures designed to stave off the coronavirus pandemic escalated on Thursday as armed gunmen were among those who stormed the Michigan state house and tried to enter the legislative chamber.

The protesters entered the building after holding a small rally outside the State House in Lansing, calling for an end to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order in accordance with guidance from public health experts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The so-called “American Patriot Rally” was organized by the recently-formed group Michigan United for Liberty and came two weeks after a similar protest dubbed “Operation Gridlock” created a traffic jam outside the government building.

US spy agency speaks out on virus origin | Added April 30

The top U.S. spy agency said for the first time on Thursday the American intelligence community believes the COVID-19 virus that originated in China was not manmade or genetically modified.

The American intelligence community has announced that based on their investigation so far, they do not believe that the novel coronavirus was manmade or modified. Reuters has a report on this, and we add this story for our collection of assertions and denials that the virus was made in a lab.

From Reuters:

The top U.S. spy agency said for the first time on Thursday the American intelligence community believes the COVID-19 virus that originated in China was not manmade or genetically modified.

The Office of Director of National Intelligence statement contradicted conspiracy theories floated by anti-China activists and some supporters of President Donald Trump suggesting the new coronavirus was developed by Chinese scientists in a government biological weapons laboratory from which it then escaped.

It also echoed comments by the World Health Organization (WHO), which on April 21 said all available evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in animals in China late last year and was not manipulated or made in a laboratory.

Environmental destruction may lead to worse pandemics | Added April 30

Biodiversity experts recently came together to speak out against the destruction of nature, and they warn that continued environmental degradation will most likely result in further pandemics.We have coverage on this from EcoWatch. Through this crisis, we’ve been arguing that it’s part of the wider environmental situation. This article makes the point better than anything we’ve read, here is a short segment from it:

Writing an article published Monday by The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the authors put the responsibility for COVID-19 squarely on our shoulders.

“Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people,” they wrote in their article.

With that in mind, the authors suggest three facets that should be considered for COVID-19-related stimulus plans. Countries should strengthen environmental regulations; adopt a ‘One Health’ approach to decision-making that recognizes complex interconnections among the health of people, animals, plants, and our shared environment; and prop up healthcare systems in the most vulnerable countries where resources are strained and underfunded. “This is not simple altruism – it is vital investment in the interests of all to prevent future global outbreaks,” the scientists argue in their IPBES article.

More cases of coronavirus-related syndrome in children being found | Added April 30

The French health minister, Olivier Veran, said on Wednesday that the country had more than a dozen children with inflammation around the heart, and while there was insufficient evidence to prove a link with coronavirus, he said the cases were being taken “very seriously.”

We have previously reported on the cases of severe inflammatory syndrome that were being found in children in the UK, and now more cases are being reported throughout the world. This comes to us from the Guardian where it is said that nearly 100 cases have emerged and doctors in Britain, France, the US, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland are now investigating.

From the article:

The first cases came to light this week when the NHS issued an alert to paediatricians about a number of children admitted to intensive care units with a mix of toxic shock and a condition known as Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory disorder that affects the blood vessel, heart and other organs. So far 19 children have been affected in the UK and none have died.

The French health minister, Olivier Veran, said on Wednesday that the country had more than a dozen children with inflammation around the heart, and while there was insufficient evidence to prove a link with coronavirus, he said the cases were being taken “very seriously.”

Many of the children having treatment for the new syndrome have tested positive for coronavirus, but others have not. That could mean that the syndrome is not related to coronavirus, that the children had cleared the virus before they were tested, or that the test missed the infection.

Kern County lawyers claim shelter in place order is unconstitutional | Added April 30

Lawyers in California have called into question the legality of their current stay-at home-order based on case law. 21 residents also signed on to the letter that the lawyers sent to the Board of Supervisors.

From ABC News in Bakersfield:

A group of lawyers in Kern County sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors saying the shelter in place order is unconstitutional.

The letter begins thanking the Board of Supervisors for their work during the pandemic.

“First and foremost we the undersigned as residents and business owners in Kern County want to thank you for your dedication and service during this difficult time,” said the letter

The letter says its purpose is to address concerns about the stay at home order. The letter says that based on case law the order violates the U.S. constitution and that the board and the county health department need to consider revoking and replacing the order.

UFO admission by the Pentagon | From April 29, retrieved June 9

In the midst of everything else going on in the world, the Pentagon officially released video footage of a few Unidentified Flying Objects back in April.

From CNN:

The Pentagon has officially released three short videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” that had previously been released by a private company.

The videos show what appear to be unidentified flying objects rapidly moving while recorded by infrared cameras. Two of the videos contain service members reacting in awe at how quickly the objects are moving. One voice speculates that it could be a drone.

The Navy previously acknowledged the veracity of the videos in September of last year. They are officially releasing them now, “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” according to Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough.

Interview regarding what scientists have learned about Covid-19 so far | Added April 29

Here is an interview from KCRW out of Santa Monica, California with epidemiologist Janet Hamilton where they discuss different facets of the coronavirus and what they know about it so far. There’s a question regarding the efficacy of testing. Take a look below:

If you have symptoms that track closely with COVID-19, but you received a negative test result, should you believe that result? Or could it be a false negative?

“There are now over 100 different tests out there, and the tests perform in different ways. And so what I will tell you is that if you get a positive result, the performance or the predictive value [of] positive is very high.

Just like with influenza, on some of the tests that are available for flu, a negative result does not necessarily mean you’re negative.

… It’s also true for a lot of tests that they perform better when there’s a lot of virus circulating. And so I think particularly if we see the virus circulating less, it will probably also result in a higher proportion of people having negative results when actually they are infected.”

Surge hospital for Covid-19 patients in Philadelphia shutting down | Added April 29

A field hospital at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in North Philadelphia has been shut down due to the low amount of patients. This report is brought to us by Philly Voice:

Temple University’s Liacouras Center. Photo by Matt Rourke

Philadelphia officials are moving to shut down the COVID-19 surge hospital set up at Temple University’s Liacouras Center less than ten days after it accepted its first patients.

The city’s current progress with the coronavirus, along with the ability of hospitals to manage the case load, have made the field hospital in North Philadelphia unnecessary, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Wednesday.

The Liacouras Center had capacity for about 180 patients, but it never ended up treating more than 10 at a time. The site will remain open until its patients have fully recovered and are ready to return home, Farley said.

Remember the early days when Covid-19 patients wouldn’t stay off of planes? There’s a new plan to use planes to treat patients | Added April 29

As reported by Engadget, there’s a new plan making the rounds to use grounded planes as “hyperbaric treatment centers” seeing as how planes are able to be pressurized. This potential solution for treatment is based off of the theory that the real issue with Covid-19 is “organ failure through chronic hypoxia,” which the Engadget article explains as a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream which causes patients to suffocate.

Here is a little more detail from the article:

Photo by Cameron Spencer.

Grounded aircraft may be useful in reducing the high mortality rates of patients with COVID-19 on mechanical ventilation. That’s the idea behind a scheme proposed by a British company that makes diving equipment. It believes that planes could be emptied out and turned into specialized field hospitals and reduce the need for ventilators.

A peer-reviewed study, published April 22nd, found that the majority of COVID-19 patients who require mechanical ventilation do not recover. Researchers looked at 5,700 patients in the New York City area and learned that patients on ventilators had a mortality rate of 88.1 percent. Correlation is not entirely causation, however, since those people may have already been in poor health. Even so, the number of patients dying while on ventilators is a cause for concern.

Hyperbaric chambers work by increasing the pressure outside the body, and they’re commonly used to treat breathing-related conditions. First, the lungs work less to breathe because the air pressure is so much greater that air forces itself in. Second, at higher pressures, oxygen is more soluble, so every breath gets more oxygen into the bloodstream. And higher levels of blood oxygenation, according to the Mayo Clinic, can “promote healing and fight infection.”

Sex hormones being used as treatment for coronavirus | Added April 29

Because women seem to be faring better with Covid-19 than men, doctors have opted to try treating men with estrogen and other sex hormones. The clinical trials are taking place on both coasts of the United States.

This comes to us from the New York Times:

Men are more likely than women to die of the coronavirus, so scientists are treating them with something women have more of: female sex hormones.

As the novel coronavirus swept through communities around the world, preying disproportionately on the poor and the vulnerable, one disadvantaged group has demonstrated a remarkable resistance. Women, whether from China, Italy or the U.S., have been less likely to become acutely ill — and far more likely to survive.

Last week, doctors on Long Island in New York started treating Covid-19 patients with estrogen in an effort to increase their immune systems, and next week, physicians in Los Angeles will start treating male patients with another hormone that is predominantly found in women, progesterone, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can potentially prevent harmful overreactions of the immune system.

Scientists who express different views on Covid-19 should be heard, not demonized | Added April 29

Society faces a risk even more toxic and deadly than Covid-19: that the conduct of science becomes indistinguishable from politics.

Responding to the alarming devolution of discourse regarding the recent work of Dr. John Ioannidis, two doctors have chosen to publicly weigh in on the value of vigorous debate as an essential tool for discovering truth.

Scientific consensus is important, he argues, but they remind us that it isn’t uncommon when some of the most important voices turn out to be those of independent thinkers whose views were initially doubted.

We as a society are in a dangerous place indeed when we rely on polarization along party lines in lieu of logic and sound reasoning — most especially when making public policy descisions. Keeping open the space for skepticism, curiosity and debate is essential for managing this crisis.

From STAT News, First Opinion feature, published April 27:

“Covid-19 has toppled a branching chain of dominoes that will affect health and survival in myriad ways. Health care is facing unprecedented disruption. Some consequences, like missed heart attack treatment, have more immediate effects while others, like poorer health through economic damage, are no less certain but their magnitude won’t immediately become evident. It will take years, and the work of many scientists, to make sense of the full effects of Covid-19 and our responses to it.”

“A plausible objection to the argument we are making that opposing ideas need to be heard is that, by giving false equivalence to incorrect ideas, lives may be lost. Scientists who are incorrect or misguided, or who misinterpret data, might wrongly persuade others, causing more to die when salutatory actions are rejected or delayed. While we are sympathetic to this view, there are many uncertainties as to the best course of action. More lives may be lost by suppressing or ignoring alternate perspectives, some of which may at least in part ultimately prove correct.

“Society faces a risk even more toxic and deadly than Covid-19: that the conduct of science becomes indistinguishable from politics. The tensions between the two policy poles of rapidly and systematically reopening society versus maximizing sheltering in place and social isolation must not be reduced to Republican and Democratic talking points, even as many media outlets promote such simplistic narratives.”

One million ‘cases’ reached in US | Added April 29

On April 28 the number of COVID-19 ‘cases’ in the US was estimated to have reached one million, and some modeled estimates propose up to 10 million to be infected. We would like to point out that these models have proven incorrect many times in this situation. Also, what exactly is a ‘case’? A person who tests positive seems to be the definition — including with no symptoms and no confirmatory tests. PCR can generate false negatives and false positives depending on the day the sample is taken, among other variables. This definition of ‘case’ is over-broad. But — now there are a million of them.

From the New York Times’ Tuesday, April 28 Live Updates :

The United States on Tuesday surpassed one million known coronavirus cases, showing how an outbreak that began with a small trickle of cases in January has exploded into a national crisis.

The bleak milestone was yet another sign of how the virus has upended life in America, taking lives, destroying families, spreading through meat plants, prisons and nursing homes, forcing businesses and schools to close, and causing more than 26 million people to lose their jobs in the past five weeks. The country’s death toll is now more than 50,000.

Some disease researchers have estimated that the true number of infections may be about 10 times the known number, and preliminary testing of how many people have antibodies to the virus seems to support that view.

187% increase in Covid-19 diagnoses for Texas county jail inmates | Added April 29

In the span of only 8 days, the number of jail inmates with Covid-19 in Texas rose precipitously. This coverage comes from Grits for Breakfast:

Governor Abbott may want to open the economy back up, but in county jails, the problem is only getting worse. The number of Texas county jail inmates diagnosed with Covid-19 increased by 187% in just over one week!

As of April 19th, 180 Texas county jail inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as 153 jailers, Grits had reported based on documentation from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

As of yesterday, April 27th, TCJS reported that a whopping 518 jail inmates have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus, along with 219 staff. An additional 33 inmates and 384 jail staff are in isolation awaiting test results. And more than 5,000 other inmates – about 9% of the statewide jail population – have been quarantined or put into isolation but are not being tested.

Nearly half the reported inmates with positive diagnoses, 243 of them, were in Harris County. But other counties saw significant increases. The number of cases in Tarrant County, for example, jumped from seven to 47. Dallas went from 64 inmates testing positive to 155.

Evening news roundup | Added April 28

We’ve got a short, evening roundup of today’s news mostly focusing on administrative concerns in the US. Here’s a snippet of what we’ve come across:

Hospitals receive desperately needed federal aid

We’ve previously reported on how hospitals that are not currently seeing influxes of patients are struggling to stay open due to their lack of income. Now, funds are being distributed to medical providers who missed the first round of congressesional medical funding. This story comes to us from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Mr. Casey estimated Pennsylvania would receive $50,000 per COVID-19 case, while other states with significantly fewer cases would receive more than $300,000 per COVID-19 case.

A Kaiser Health News report on April 10 estimated states like Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana are getting more than $300,000 per COVID-19 case while New York would receive only $12,000 per case.

Democrats disagree with McConnell’s proposal for coronavirus aid

From Politico:

Democratic leaders are panning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offer to marry new liability protections with aid to state and city governments, signaling a tough fight for Congress’ next round of coronavirus aid.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview on Monday afternoon that he is “going to insist” that providing liability protections to businesses and employees be part of the next bill that will provide billions to local governments. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) may not go along.

On MSNBC on Tuesday morning, Schumer said McConnell’s proposal is “subterfuge” and “wrong” by making it more tricky to get the aid for local governments, though he did not rule it out of a potential deal. Still, Schumer and Pelosi made clear Tuesday that Democrats are cool to what McConnell is talking about.

A chicken in every pot (and a car in every garage)

Today, Trump is expected to order meat processing plants to keep pumping out meat, despite recent COVID-19 cases, through his use of the Defense Production Act. We have this coverage from both NBC Philadelphia and Common Dreams. The following quotes are from NBC Philadelphia:

President Donald Trump said he will take executive action Tuesday to order meat processing plants to stay open amid concerns over growing coronavirus cases and the impact on the nation’s food supply.

The order will use the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to keep production plants open and prevent a shortage of chicken, pork, and other meat on American supermarket shelves.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 1.3 million food and retail workers, said Tuesday that 20 U.S. food-processing and meatpacking union workers in the U.S. have died of the virus. An estimated 6,500 are sick or have been exposed to the virus while working near someone who tested positive, the union says.

Wall Street Journal reports on ‘Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires’ working to to find solutions for the coronavirus | Added April 28

On its face, the story isn’t as nefarious as the wording may make it seem; a collection of scientists, billionaires, and industry leaders have banded together to provide the White House with suggestions and solutions regarding the coronavirus. Yet because of the unofficial nature of their assistance and their access to the government through backdoor channels, we put this story here as reference.

With the increasing closeness of this group and the government, it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on who all is involved in order to be aware of the origins of proposals which might be taken up, such as daily testing or the symptom tracking app mentioned below.

From the Wall Street Journal:

A dozen of America’s top scientists and a collection of billionaires and industry titans say they have the answer to the coronavirus pandemic, and they found a backdoor to deliver their plan to the White House.

The eclectic group is led by a 33-year-old physician-turned-venture capitalist, Tom Cahill, who lives far from the public eye in a one-bedroom rental near Boston’s Fenway Park. He owns just one suit, but he has enough lofty connections to influence government decisions in the war against Covid-19.

These scientists and their backers describe their work as a lockdown-era Manhattan Project, a nod to the World War II group of scientists who helped develop the atomic bomb. This time around, the scientists are marshaling brains and money to distill unorthodox ideas gleaned from around the globe.

With much of their scientific proposals under advisement, or already in the process, the group has an eye on the post-Covid-19 world. Mr. Pagliuca pushed the scientists to add a fourth phase to the plan—reopening America.

The ideas include development of a saliva test, and scheduling tests at the end of the workday so results are available by morning. They also have suggested a nationwide smartphone app that requires residents to confirm each day that they don’t have any of 14 symptoms of a cold or fever.

“Anti-vaxxers” are Russian agents, according to The Guardian | Added April 28

On April 27 the Guardian featured the headline: “US was warned of threat from anti-vaxxers in event of pandemic”

And in a few short paragraphs, anyone who has ever expressed concerns about the safety of any of an expanding roster of vaccines, the wisdom of an extended shuttering of the economy, the value of exploring dissenting ideas in math modeling, or in the legislative houses of US State government had been neatly explained: they’re all Russian agents bent on the disruption of US national security. Or so says Jason Wilson of The Guardian in his send up of a paper posted by InfraGard – a national security group affiliated with the FBI.

The paper, jointly written by Christine Sublett, a health industry-focused cybersecurity consultant, and Dr Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer, senior vice-president and associate chief medical officer at Northwell Health (New York State’s largest hospital network), warned: “The biggest threat in controlling an outbreak comes from those who categorically reject vaccination.”

The paper, entitled The Anti-Vaxxers Movement and National Security, remarkably lays out a pandemic scenario eerily similar to the one now afflicting the US along with most of the world, including that “social distancing and isolation have impacts that include loss of manufactured goods, reduced food supply, and other disruptions to the supply chain” – and then goes on to explain how it would be the “anti vaxxers ” who would hobble the effort to reach herd immunity.

As further proof of their nefarious intent, the paper explains how “such movements” received a boost in recent years due to their “alignment with other conspiracy movements including the far right.”

Note, there are several ways to attain herd immunity — including naturally.

Four out of five patients on ventilators die, and some doctors are trying to stop using them | Added April 27

Initially, we were reading reports that one-third of patients on ventilators died, which seemed like a lot at the time. Then in April, Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell, an ER physician at Maimonides, said in a video that that patients need oxygen, not air pressure. A month later, reported facts seem to be catching up with his observations.

From Associated Press:

As health officials around the world push to get more ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, some doctors are moving away from using the breathing machines when they can.

Hospital room with ventilator. AP photo

The reason: Some hospitals have reported unusually high death rates for coronavirus patients on ventilators, and some doctors worry that the machines could be harming certain patients.

The evolving treatments highlight the fact that doctors are still learning the best way to manage a virus that emerged only months ago. They are relying on anecdotal, real-time data amid a crush of patients and shortages of basic supplies.

From Washington Post:

Throughout March, as the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum in the United States, much of the preparations focused on the breathing machines that were supposed to save lives.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and President Trump sparred over how many ventilators the state was short. DIYers brainstormed ways to make modifications to treat more patients. And ethicists agonized over how to allocate them fairly if they ran out.

Now five weeks into the crisis, a paper published in the journal JAMA about New York state’s largest health system suggests a reality that, like so much else about the novel coronavirus, confounds our early expectations.

Researchers found that 20 percent of all those hospitalized died — a finding that’s similar to the percentage who perish in normal times among those who are admitted for respiratory distress.

System biologist Shiva Ayyadurai | Added April 27

Shiva Ayyadurai is an Indian-American scientist and MIT alumni. He holds four engineering degrees from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and primarily focuses on system biology.

NOTE — This video is being attacked as right-wing propaganda, and the subject is being attacked as lacking credibility. That does not speak to the content of the video or the ideas it contains, which deserve analysis and scrutiny. We are not endorsing it, only presenting it.

Luc Montagnier, discoverer of HIV, says novel corona was created in a lab | Added April 27

Nobel prize winning scientist Luc Montagnier, the French scientist who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, said in an interview on the French TV program “20 Minutes” he believes the virus originated in a lab.

He said that it’s part natural bat virus, and contains genetic elements of HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. On April 12 (below) we reported that could kill the powerful immune cells that are supposed to kill the virus instead. On April 15 (below), we reported that Czech researcher Dr. Sona Pekova, said the virus has elements of its genetic code she described as severely altered.

The version of events where the virus started in a market in China is fully debunked; the first cases precede the outbreak at the market. Therefore, it had to come from somewhere else.

Here is the article from the Dr. Rath Foundation, and here is the original video with subtitles. Here is a French version linking back to 20 Minutes.

From the text of the article:

Asked by the CNews interviewer what the goal of these molecular biologists was, Montagnier said it wasn’t clear. “My job,” he said, “is to expose the facts.” While stressing that he didn’t know who had done it, or why, Montagnier suggested that possibly the goal had been to make an AIDS vaccine. Labeling the virus as “a professional job…a very meticulous job,” he described its genome as being a “clockwork of sequences.”

“There’s a part which is obviously the classic virus, and there’s another mainly coming from the bat, but that part has added sequences, particularly from HIV – the AIDS virus,” he said.

Montagnier also pointed out that he wasn’t the first scientist to assert that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory. Previously, on 31 January 2020, a research group from India had published a paper suggesting that aspects of the virus bore an “uncanny similarity” to HIV. Taken together, the researchers said their findings suggested the virus had an “unconventional evolution” and that further investigation was warranted. While the researchers subsequently retracted their paper, Montagnier said they had been “forced” to do so.

American face meat shortages while farmers dispose of animals | Added April 27

Bloomberg News is reporting that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the food supply chain to its limits. Part of the problem is a high level of infection in slaughterhouses, which has not yet been explained. From the article:

Plant shutdowns are leaving Americans dangerously close to seeing meat shortages at grocery stores. Meanwhile, farmers are facing the likely culling of millions of animals and mass burial graves could soon be dug across the heartland.
“The food supply chain is breaking,” said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat company.

Outbreaks are forcing the closure of some of the country’s biggest slaughterhouses, where tens of thousands of animals are processed daily. As the plants shutter, producers are left with nowhere to sell their livestock. It’s forcing farmers to make gut-wrenching decisions to dispose of their animals. The situation is so severe that the U.S. government is setting up a center partly to assist on “depopulation and disposal methods.”

“Millions of pounds of meat will disappear” as plants close, Tyson said in a blog post on the company’s website. “In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue. Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation. Millions of animals – chickens, pigs and cattle – will be depopulated.”

Volunteers lining up to test Vaccines aimed at SARS-COV-2 | Added April 27

Momentum is building to speed the development of coronavirus vaccines by intentionally infecting healthy, young volunteers with the virus. A grass-roots effort has attracted nearly 1,500 potential volunteers for the controversial approach.

Despite the continued promise that the world is 12-18 months away from a viable vaccine for the SARS-COV-2 virus, there are efforts are being made to speed up that timeline. Researchers are forging ahead with trials on various fronts: traditional trials have quickly ramped up in Europe — remember, that might be the whole point of this exercise we’re going through.

As reported in The Vaccination Reaction, an April 27 online newsletter from NVIC, human trials had begun at Oxford on April 23, 2020, on an experimental vaccine, designated ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.5. The vaccine has been made from a weakened cold virus which has been genetically modified to mimic the glycoprotein of the SARS-COV-2 virus.

Meanwhile, reported on April 22 that “Momentum is building to speed the development of coronavirus vaccines by intentionally infecting healthy, young volunteers with the virus. A grass-roots effort has attracted nearly 1,500 potential volunteers for the controversial approach, known as a human-challenge trial” via a group called 1Day Sooner.

Though noted as not directly affiliated with groups or companies developing or funding coronavirus vaccines, 1 Day Sooner is offered by co-founder Josh Morrison in the “hopes to show that there is broad support for human-challenge trials, which have the potential to deliver an effective coronavirus vaccine more quickly than standard trials.

Chicago doctors discover better alternative to ventilators: high nasal flow prongs | Added April 27

In recent weeks through the Covid scenario, the debate over whether ventilators help or harm has been raging. Many are saying that they do more harm than good, including lung damage.

From a University of Chicago Medical School press release:

Doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine are seeing “truly remarkable” results using high-flow nasal cannulas rather than ventilators and intubation to treat some COVID-19 patients.

High-flow nasal cannulas, or HFNCs, are non-invasive nasal prongs that sit below the nostrils and blow large volumes of warm, humidified oxygen into the nose and lungs.

A team from UChicago Medicine’s emergency room took dozens of COVID-19 patients who were in respiratory distress and gave them HFNCs instead of putting them on ventilators. The patients all fared extremely well, and only one of them required intubation after 10 days.

“The success we’ve had has been truly remarkable,” said Michael O’Connor, MD, UChicago Medicine’s Director of Critical Care Medicine.

“Avoiding intubation is key,” Spiegel said. “Most of our colleagues around the city are not doing this, but I sure wish other ERs would take a look at this technique closely.”

This approach is not without risk, however. HFNCs blow air out, and convert the COVID-19 virus into a fine spray in the air. To protect themselves from the virus, staff must have proper personal protective equipment (PPE), negative pressure patient rooms, and anterooms, which are rooms in front of the patient rooms where staff can change n and out of their safety gear to avoid contaminating others.

US death rates went up in March | Added April 27

Death rates in the US were higher than usual from roughly around March, to April 4; they were higher than annually expected, as well as higher than was expected in light of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at that time. (Okay, this is weird. —efc)

From the Washington Post:

In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year — occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported.

The excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They could include people who died because of the epidemic but not from the disease, such as those who were afraid to seek medical treatment for unrelated illnesses, as well as some number of deaths that are part of the ordinary variation in the death rate. The count is also affected by increases or decreases in other categories of deaths, such as suicides, homicides and motor vehicle accidents.

Coronavirus-related condition growing among children, some requiring intensive care | Added April 27

This came up on our radar. We have not heard about this yet.

The Paediatric Intensive Care Society warns: Severe inflammatory syndrome in children now being reported in the UK.

Defying previous understanding that Covid-19 does not for the most part affect children, there are a growing number of cases of children on the UK presenting with alarming symptoms, says Adam Bienkov in The Business Insider. Kawasaki disease (an inflammation of the walls of the blood vessels), as well as abdominal pain, severe gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation are putting kids in the ICU. While PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 is an inconclusive explanation of origin, serology evidence suggests possible links to preceding SARS-CoV-2 presence.

From The Business Insider: “The alert added that ‘there is a growing concern that a [COVID-19] related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases.’

The Paediatric Intensive Care Society, which issued a separate ‘urgent alert’ about the condition, called for an ‘early discussion’ of all new cases to identify its origin and limit its spread, the report said.

The alerts said that ‘this has been observed in children with confirmed PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as children who are PCR negative,’ referring to the official name of the coronavirus. It added that ‘serological evidence of possible preceding SARS-CoV-2 infection has also been observed.'”

96% of inmates tested in four US state prisons without symptoms | Added April 27

And in another story from Reuters we find that in four US state prisons 96% of prisoners, out of almost 3,300 who were tested, were without symptoms. This report touches on the issues of: what is the criteria for determining a “case,” how reliable are these tests, and just how widespread is the coronavirus.

Here’s a small selection from their report:

As mass coronavirus testing expands in prisons, large numbers of inmates are showing no symptoms. In four state prison systems — Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — 96% of 3,277 inmates who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic, according to interviews with officials and records reviewed by Reuters. That’s out of 4,693 tests that included results on symptoms.

The numbers are the latest evidence to suggest that people who are asymptomatic — contagious but not physically sick — may be driving the spread of the virus, not only in state prisons that house 1.3 million inmates across the country, but also in communities across the globe. The figures also reinforce questions over whether testing of just people suspected of being infected is actually capturing the spread of the virus.

“It adds to the understanding that we have a severe undercount of cases in the U.S.,” said Dr. Leana Wen, adjunct associate professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, said of the Reuters findings. “The case count is likely much, much higher than we currently know because of the lack of testing and surveillance.”

Global leaders band together to develop treatments; US steps aside | Added April 27

We have this story from Reuters where it is reported that world leaders have agreed to work together to develop tests, drugs, and vaccines that can treat the coronavirus. The question is, who is leading the world leader? And why is a vax the only solution? The United States has refrained from taking part in this WHO lead initiative. From the article:

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO billed as a “landmark collaboration” to fight the pandemic.

The aim is to speed development of safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19, the lung disease caused be the novel coronavirus – and ensure equal access to treatments for rich and poor.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the objective at a global pledging effort on May 4 would be to raise 7.5 billion euros ($8.10 billion) to ramp up work on prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

‘Strategic Drawdown’ planned for Javits Center and USNS Comfort | Added April 26

We have previously reported that the USNS Comfort is scheduled to depart from New York, and according to this article from Gothamist the federal government also plans to “shutter the little-used field hospital inside the Javits Center, as the rate of COVID-19 hospitalization in New York continues to decline.” The article goes on to report that the Comfort will return to its base in Virginia and that questions remain over why neither facility was made available to symptomatic nursing home residents.

From the article:

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Wikpiedia..

“We are encouraged by the data which suggest the curve is flattening in New York and we are working with the city and state to begin the strategic drawdown of resources,” a spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency told Gothamist on Friday.

The spokesperson said there was no set date for either closure. But according to a FEMA official who spoke with ABC News, the Navy ship will leave New York as soon as April 30th. The Javits Center is slated to close on April 30th, according to the unnamed official.

The two facilities have treated 1,100 patients in total, and never came close to approaching their full capacity. As of Friday, just 32 patients were receiving care aboard the Comfort, which has space for 1,000 people, the FEMA spokesperson said. Of the 2,500 beds inside the Javits Center reserved for COVID-19 patients, only 141 were full.

Hospital workers have previously complained about the strict intake procedures at the two Department of Defense facilities, pointing to a 25-point checklist that excluded many would-be patients from being transferred from overrun hospitals, according to the Post.

Some newborns of mothers with COVID-19 being whisked away minutes after birth | Added April 26

PhillyVoice brings us this April 24 coverage of how it is being recommended that mothers who may have COVID-19, or are suspected to be infected, be temporarily separated from their newborn. According to the article, this was per CDC guidelines that initially advised separation “across the board” for mothers who are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, but they have since updated their guidelines and suggest that separation be considered on a case by case basis.

The article begins with this story of one woman’s experience:

Mallory Pease’s contractions grew stronger as her husband, Mitchell, drove her to Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall, Michigan, to give birth to their second child. It had been a routine pregnancy, but she told her doctor she’d recently developed a sore throat, aches, coughing and shortness of breath — symptoms her provider knew could indicate COVID-19.

So, when she arrived at the hospital, she was taken to an isolation area, tested for the coronavirus and given oxygen. She took shallow, panting breaths as she delivered her daughter on March 23 in about five hours.

But she could hold little Alivia for only five minutes before the newborn was whisked off to a nursery. Pease, 27, was transferred to a COVID-19 floor, where she was told her test came back positive. By the next morning, she was so ill that her doctors discussed putting her on a ventilator.

As she struggled to breathe and worried for her life, her heart ached to hold her newborn. Instead, she held tight to the memory of that brief glimpse.

When she finally got to cradle Alivia in her arms four days later, she said, “it was kind of like meeting her all over again.”

The Sacred Union of Twin Flames by Lanvi

Fear Will Not Save You | New Planet Waves FM for April 26

Mobile device | Download | Please Support Planet Waves FM

Here is tonight’s program. The file is replaced with a minor audio issue cleaned up.

Free Mumia! Cause near to the heart of Rage Against the Machine
Dr. Dan Erickson news conference part one, 50 mins
Showdown looms between Silicon Valley and states
Article about David Crowe challenging the current official pandemic theory
David Crowe’s paper, which is being updated regularly
Did this virus come from a lab, from Independent Science News
The Chinese lab at the center of the coronavirus controversy
Why US outsourced bat virus to Wuhan
Israeli professor offers alternate coronavirus prediction

Opinion piece on possible hospital closures | Added April 25

The efforts to shore up medical personnel across the country in the event of a surge of Covid-19 cases may actually be hurting the medical infrastructure. Newsweek offers an opinion piece on how orders to temporarily halt non-emergency procedures may end up hurting hospitals financially in the long run, which does not bode well for those facilities staying open.

A few quotes from the article:

Tens of thousands of health care workers across the United States are going without pay today, even as providers in the nation’s hot spots struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic

This “tale of two hospitals” is a function of clumsy, if well-intentioned, federal and state directives to halt all non-emergency procedures, which appeared at first blush to be a reasonable precaution to limit unnecessary exposure and safeguard staff, beds and equipment.

But instead of merely preserving hospital beds and other resources, this heavy-handed injunction has created a burden of its own design: a historic number of empty beds in systems left untouched by the pandemic.

Those hospitals have resorted to unprecedented levels of furloughs to stave off temporary budget shortfalls, but industry and economic trends point to more lasting outcomes unless immediate action is taken.

What isn’t infected with the coronavirus? | Added April 25

As if it wasn’t ubiquitous enough, scientists in Italy have claimed to have detected the coronavirus on particles of air pollution. This comes from a report from The Guardian which cites two studies, neither of which have been peer-reviewed yet. They are also still questioning whether these particles of Covid-19 can actually cause infection in light of their small size.

This is pollution. Via wikimedia commons.

As alarming as this may sound, this isn’t unique to the coronavirus; the article mentions that air pollution has been shown to harbor microbes and carry viruses. But we would like to pose the question: if we keep looking for this, will we continue to find it everywhere we look? But the deeper question,s in what is “this”?

From the article:

Coronavirus has been detected on particles of air pollution by scientists investigating whether this could enable it to be carried over longer distances and increase the number of people infected.

The work is preliminary and it is not yet known if the virus remains viable on pollution particles and in sufficient quantity to cause disease.

The Italian scientists used standard techniques to collect outdoor air pollution samples at one urban and one industrial site in Bergamo province and identified a gene highly specific to Covid-19 in multiple samples. The detection was confirmed by blind testing at an independent laboratory.

Another expert, Prof John Sodeau at University College Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, said: “The work seems plausible. But that is the bottom line at the moment, and plausible [particle] interactions are not always biologically viable and may have no effect in the atmosphere.” He said the normal course of scientific research might take two or three years to confirm such findings.

WHO speaks against ‘immunity passports’ | Added April 25

The WHO has suggested that governments not issue ‘immunity passports’ or “risk-free certificates.” This is based, in part, on their earlier statement that there is “no evidence” that antibodies necessarily mean protection from the virus. Their reasoning for speaking out against ‘immunity passports’ is that those who believe themselves to be immune could possibly engage in risky behavior as well as the fact that, according to their own research, it is difficult to determine the accuracy of one’s immunity status.

This report comes to us from the BBC. A few quotes from the article:

As of Friday no study had evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to the virus conferred immunity to subsequent infection by the virus in humans, the WHO said.

“At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate’,” it said.

In Belgium, which has one of the highest death rates per capita but is planning to gradually relax lockdown restrictions from 11 May, a government adviser told the BBC he strongly opposed the idea of immunity passports.

“I abhor the fact that we would give people passports, a green one or a red one, depending on their serology status,” said virologist Professor Marc Van Ranst, a member of the Belgian government’s Risk Assessment Group and Scientific Committee on the Coronavirus.

“That will lead to forgeries, that will lead to people wilfully infecting themselves to the virus. This is just not a good idea. It is an extremely bad idea.”

Wuhan Virology Institute, essentially a virus factory, is located in the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus.

US outsourced bat-coronavirus research | Added April 24

In another piece from Asia Times the reasons for the US government both funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in part, and outsourcing gain-of-function research to Wuhan are explored. In this instance, gain-of-function refers to making diseases and viruses deadlier as is explained in one of the quotes below. Also referenced below is a topic we have previously covered: the US embassy cables which warned about Wuhan lab safety.

From the Asia Times article:

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded bat-coronavirus research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China to the tune of US$3.7 million, a recent article in the British newspaper Daily Mail revealed.

Back in October 2014, the US government had placed a federal moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research – altering natural pathogens to make them more deadly and infectious – as a result of rising fears about a possible pandemic caused by an accidental or deliberate release of these genetically engineered monster germs.

This was in part due to lab accidents at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July 2014 that raised questions about biosafety at US high-containment labs.

In the face of a moratorium in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci – the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and currently the leading doctor in the US Coronavirus Task Force – outsourced in 2015 the GOF research to China’s Wuhan lab and licensed the lab to continue receiving US government funding.

It is understandable that the Chinese lab likely struggled with safety issues given the fact US labs share similar problems, and indeed in January 2018 the US Embassy in Beijing sent cables warning about the safety of the Wuhan lab and asked for help.

Moreover, could some strains of the coronavirus have originated in US labs, given the fact the US government lifted the ban in December 2017 on GOF research without resolving lab-safety issues?

Israeli professor claims that virus spread peaks after 40 days | Added April 24

Contrary to the data which the United States, and most other countries, base their pandemic plans on, Israeli professor Yitzhak Ben-Israel suggests that coronavirus spread peaks at 40 days then fades away after 70. This is in contrast to the prevailing notion in the U.S. that a timeline on the spread of the virus is difficult to plot for certain. Asia Times has a report on this from April 18.

A few, brief quotes from the article:

An Israel professor does not believe the global approach of enforcing a lockdown to contain the coronavirus is the right solution, based on virus infection data he has analyzed. His finding shows that the coronavirus spread peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days, a result that is at variance with health professionals in many countries, including the United States.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that “the virus makes its own timeline.”

By contrast, Professor Yitzhak Ben-Israel, who also is a retired Air Force Major General, says, “The data speak for themselves – there is a fixed pattern here: after six weeks the graph starts to decline and you see a declining trend of the plague.”

Ben-Israel told the Jewish Journal: “This is how it is all over the world. Both in countries where they have taken closure steps, like Italy, and in countries that have not had closures, like Taiwan or Singapore. In such countries, there is an increase until the fourth to sixth week, and immediately thereafter, moderation until during the eighth week, it disappears.”

Cuomo cites research that virus spread to New York via Europe, not China | Added April 24

For all the hoopla President Trump makes about the China travel bans that he enacted, Governor Cuomo has recently cited research that asserts that the coronavirus entered New York from Europe, instead of China. This story comes to us from Reuters where it is also pointed out that Cuomo has “thrust himself into a heated and politically fraught debate about when and how the virus first entered the United States” by making these comments.

A flight landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo by Amit Gupta

We would like to point out that the issue of false positives in testing is at the heart of this; PCR testing is unreliable to determine if someone has the virus and underscores the when’s and how’s of how the virus entered the United States. Death rates, by comparison, are reliable. But death doesn’t necessarily have to mean death due to the coronavirus as testing positive may be meaningless.

From the article:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday pointed to research showing that strains of the novel coronavirus entered his state from Europe, not China, and said that travel bans enacted by U.S. President Donald Trump were too late to halt its spread.

Cuomo cited research from Northeastern University estimating that more than 10,000 New Yorkers may have contracted the disease by the time the state had its first confirmed case on March 1. He said he believed Italy was the likely source.

The governor noted that Trump ordered a ban on travel from China on Feb. 2, more than a month after news reports had emerged about an outbreak in the city of Wuhan, and decided to restrict travel from Europe the following month. By that time, the virus had spread widely in the United States…

He said it was too early to reopen his state, which is in lockdown until at least May 15. He said the three-day rolling average for people newly admitted for COVID-19 was holding stubbornly around 1,300 per day, a worrisome sign.

But on a positive note, he said hospitalizations for COVID-19 totaled 14,258 on Thursday, declining for the tenth straight day. He reported 422 additional deaths, the lowest daily total since March 31.

Trump suggests ingesting light or disinfectant to treat coronavirus | Added April 24

In what was an outlandish White House press conference on the coronavirus, the administration reached all new lows as we watched Trump come unhinged. On April 23 President Trump had a few choice suggestions for ways to eradicate the virus including large amounts of sunlight, or simply injecting patients with disinfectants. Understandably these suggestions weren’t taken all that well; Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House’s task force, attempted to maintain her composure as she watched from the sidelines.

Here is an overview of the whole ordeal from Vox:

At the briefing, William Bryan, under secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), discussed preliminary government research indicating that “heat and humidity suppress Covid-19” and “commonly available disinfectants work to kill the virus.”

After Bryan’s presentation, Trump took to the podium and made a deeply bizarre inference.

“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light … and then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re gonna test that,” Trump said, addressing Bryan. “And then I see disinfectant, where it knocks it [coronavirus] out in a minute — one minute — and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”

Vaccination rates drop amid stay-at-home orders; pediatric docs have administrative and health concerns | Added April 24

Apparently the “stay home” message was too well received for the comfort of those responsible for keeping vaccination rates high: US parents are skipping vaccination appointments for fear of Covid-19 and those in healthcare are troubled.

Doctors fear outbreaks, office administrators fear solvency and future catch-up scheduling nightmares, while state’s health policy officials contemplate having to temporarily relax requirements for school attendance. Yet it is curious to note that some report the fear around Covid-19 as increasing the interest parents have in vaccination.

This April 23 report comes to us from the New York Times; here are a few, select quotes below:

“We know our vaccine rates were already tenuous, so any additional hit to that is a great worry,” said Dr. Elizabeth Meade, president of (Washington) state’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Meade leads calls twice a week with physicians throughout the state about how to maintain immunizations and stay solvent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians have each been urging doctors to maintain vaccination schedules as rigorously as reasonably possible, particularly for the youngest children. Vaccinate Your Family, a national nonprofit group*, is pushing families to set reminders to reschedule canceled vaccine appointments.

Many doctors already report that the backlog from canceled appointments for younger children is staggering…. Pediatricians, who report that visits have dropped by 50 to 70 percent, are laying off staff; they do not know whether they will be able to handle the rush of last-minute visits in a few months.

Dr. Menzin, an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said the pandemic was a wake-up call for doctors to rethink their messaging:

“It no longer suffices for us to say, ‘We’re open if you want to come in,’ said Dr. Menzin.

Despite parents’ reluctance to bring in their children to be vaccinated now, several doctors remarked on a noticeable positive shift in attitude toward immunizations, after years of a vocal anti-vaccine movement raising questions in parents’ minds.

There’s something called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and it’s super interesting! | Added April 23

I am a proud subscriber to this really interesting thing paid for by your tax dollars.

How DO journalists do it?

Well, one way is to tap into free information from the government. For medical reporters, and all kinds of other people like the county coroner, there is something called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Yes, it’s a little morbid. The editor used to be Morticia Addams.

The page I’ve linked is their collection of studies on who Covid-19 makes sick and kills. I have not gone through it, but you will find some interesting stuff and if you do, please email us at Thank you!

CDC warns of potential for a much worse second wave of coronavirus, Trump remains hopeful | Added April 23

President Trump still seems to have a good feeling about the prospects of the coronavirus suddenly dematerializing. But the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, warned on April 21 that a second wave of the virus could potentially be more deadly than the first.

This is reminiscent of a now-famous warning from back in February. The director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonnier said, “We will expect to see community spread in this country,” and that it wasn’t “a matter of if, but a question of when, this will exactly happen.” Trump was on a trip to New Delhi at the time and remarked: “The virus is very well under control in our country.”

Here is a closer look at Redfield’s recent warning as covered by the Washington Post:

Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season.

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.

Why isn’t everyone already dead? | Added April 23

More and more reports are coming in of the virus spreading throughout the U.S. much earlier than was previously considered. And if that’s the case then the models of growth, rate of spread, an infection rate, if they’re to be relied on, should be applicable now. By that, I mean that efforts to flatten the curve were seen as being implemented nearly too late to begin with, but if the spread had been much worse than previously assumed then why aren’t we seeing much worse results, now?

This article from the New York Times prompts this question, but neglects to ask it. In the article, it is pointed out that New York City’s first case was confirmed on March 1, yet one of the models that is mentioned found that the first 10 infected people could have been spreading as early as the last week of January. And New York is not the only city were such spread was assumed to have happened.

From the article: Hidden outbreaks were also spreading almost completely undetected in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, long before testing showed that each city had a major problem, according to a model of the spread of the disease by researchers at Northeastern University who shared their results with The New York Times.

Even in early February — while the world focused on China — the virus was not only likely to be spreading in multiple American cities, but also seeding blooms of infection elsewhere in the United States, the researchers found.

Is this shocking? Cuomo says 21% of New Yorkers have antibodies for virus, in random study | Added April 23

More than one in five New York City residents tested positive for coronavirus in a new random study, Gov. Cuomo said during his press briefing Thursday. Finally we’re seeing some antibodies data; till now, all we’ve had is flawed viral load data from the polymerase chain reaction test.

Having antibodies means that one’s immune system is responding. It does not mean that one is sick, or will get sick, or is contagious. Also, the data will be biased by the fact that people who are out and about are being tested — not the ones holed up in their apartments.

From the NY Daily News: Cuomo said 21% of people from the five boroughs who were tested outside supermarkets had the disease, including a slightly larger number of men than women. If accurate, this means that up to two million New Yorkers in the city have gotten the virus, assuming that the numbers are accurate.

“What you do in a place with 21% is very different,” he said. “The facts dictate the action.” Statewide, 13.9% of New Yorkers tested positive for the antibodies that are produced when people fight off the virus. Long Island had a 16.7% rate. Westchester and Rockland — New York’s first epicenter — clocked in at 11.7%. Read more in the NY Daily News

Johnson & Johnson and U.S. government form $1B deal to produce vaccine | Added April 23

Johnson and Johnson and the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) are expanding their vaccine research and clinical testing partnership. That’s a bit wordy; said another way, corporation and government are working hand-in-hand to make a Covid-19 vaccine. This March 30 story comes to us from the New York Post.

You may be familiar with BARDA as it was recently in the news when the former head of the organization, Rick Bright, was dismissed. You may also be familiar with Johnson and Johnson as they were recently in the news over the $750 million verdict in the talcum powder lawsuit against them, or for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic in the U.S. They’re not necessarily the most ethical company there is.

From the the New York Post coverage, regarding the $1B deal:

As part of the arrangement, the US government will pay $421 million to support the company’s efforts to build new manufacturing capacity in the US.

J&J said it had selected its own lead vaccine candidate and would start human testing by September, with an eye on having it ready under an emergency use authorization in early 2021, far quicker than the typical 18 month period that it takes for vaccines to be tested, approved and then manufactured.

[J&J Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels] said J&J is starting to build a plant in the United States now so it can be ready to manufacture vaccines by the end of the year, when data from its clinical trials will show whether the vaccine works.

Nearly half of the $1 billion will come from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is looking to expand on J&J’s previous collaboration with the agency.

Vaccine market worth $35 billion | Added April 23

There is a lot of money in vaccines and, to that, it is incumbent upon us to track the issue of profit versus truth. The self-same pharmaceutical companies that produce the medications with laughable commercials and ridiculous, harmful side effects also produce vaccines, so there should already be a level of scrutiny.

In light of the coronavirus this Feb, 23 report from CNBC takes a look at which corporations will be the major players to develop a vaccine in what is a $35 billion dollar market.

From the article:

The vaccine market has grown sixfold over the past two decades, worth more than $35 billion today, according to AB Bernstein. The firm said the industry has consolidated to four big players that account for about 85% of the market — British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and U.S.-based Merck and Pfizer.

“For every dollar invested in vaccination in the world’s 94 lowest-income countries, the net return is $44. Hard to argue against,” Wimal Kapadia, Bernstein’s analyst, said in a note. “This oligopoly has been built through significant market consolidation driven primarily by the complexities of the manufacturing and supply chain.”

Sanofi is teaming up with the U.S. government to develop a vaccine for the new virus, hoping its work on the 2003 SARS outbreak could speed up the process. GlaxoSmithKline said this month it is partnering with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for a vaccine program.

Barr threatens legal actions against Democratic governors | Added April 22

The Justice Department will consider taking legal action against governors who continue to impose stringent rules for dealing with the coronavirus that infringe on constitutional rights once the crisis subsides in their states, Attorney General William Barr said.

Blunt means to deal with the pandemic, such as stay-at-home orders and directives shutting down businesses, are justified up to a point, Barr said Tuesday on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” Eventually, though, states should move to more targeted measures, Barr said. He said he supports the approach laid out by President Donald Trump.

“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce — our common market that we have here — then we’ll have to address that.”

Barr’s comments come as the Trump administration and states are struggling — and at times fighting with each other — over the best approach to deal with the crisis. Trump has stoked tensions with some Democratic governors who are dealing with protests against stringent social distancing rules, even as his administration backs guidelines that call for states to open up gradually.

Bloomberg pledges $10 million to fund coronavirus tracking program| Added April 22

We are following carefully all attempts to infringe on basic rights that can be accomplished through the use of technology, using the virus as an excuse. Digitally tracking those who do not pass a highly questionable “test” (which can come out one way one day, and a different way the next day, and where there may be 80% false positives) are a direct affront to your freedom and that of everyone else. This may not seem like much today; it may seem like good common sense because after all there is a virus going around. Yet look closely and you will see that it’s truly creepy that the government wants to declare a certain class of people worthy of digital tracking usually reserved for the likes of Harvey Weinstein when he’s out on $1 million bond. The notion of implanting a kind of chip into “vaccinated” people is reminiscent of tattoos and work camps — too much for comfort. Pay attention. — efc

According to Gov. Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg will pay $10 million for a plan to test and trace coronavirus infections in New York. This story comes to us from New York Daily News. Here are some highlights:

Cuomo, after announcing Wednesday that ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg will pay for a $10 million initial plan to test and trace coronavirus infection rates across the state, acknowledged the next steps in this fight will be difficult almost beyond belief.

“You will trace as many positives as you can, and as the testing number goes up, that number of possible people to be traced is going up,” said the governor. “That’s why it’s an extraordinarily impossible task, and you do the best you can.”

The governor, while asserting the statewide testing would be “ramped up,” admitted he has no time frame for achieving the goal. And de Blasio acknowledged the city isn’t close to having enough coronavirus test kits to fully execute his plan to “ultimately defeat” the lethal virus.

The governor did not detail how the Bloomberg-run pilot plan would interact with federally funded plans or how they would collate and share information.

Antibody test being introduced in Japan, and infected cases in China remain ‘positive’ after recovery | Added April 22

We’ve got two stories from the Japan Times which relate to testing. In this first one, Japan is considering introducing an antibody test or, as they refer to it in the article, an antigen test. To clarify, antigens are a particle or substance which cause the body to produce antibodies. Here are a few quotes:

The health ministry is considering introducing an antigen test to more quickly screen for the new coronavirus amid a rise in the number of people who need testing, government sources said Wednesday.

The ministry may approve an antigen test kit in May that uses mucus taken from nose. But as the new test is less precise than the existing polymerase chain reaction test, the dominant testing method which takes hours before results come out, officials will study under what circumstances to use it, they said.

An antibody test is also considered a quick testing method but it requires antibodies to build up in a person, meaning it takes time before people start testing positive after becoming infected with the virus.

And in this second piece from the Japan Times, they look into a situation that seems to be rather common around the world regarding positive test cases remaining positive, even after they have recovered. Although I should point out that immunity after infection still has not been demonstrated. From the article:

“I really can’t take it anymore,” he said. Diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in early February, the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, had been treated at two hospitals before being transferred to a quarantine center set up in a cluster of apartment blocks in an industrial part of Wuhan.

Chinese doctors in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, say a growing number of cases in which people recover from the virus, but continue to test positive without showing symptoms, is one of their biggest challenges as the country moves into a new phase of its containment battle.

Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said. Many have done so over 50-60 days.

In South Korea, about 1,000 people have been testing positive for four weeks or more. In Italy, the first European country ravaged by the pandemic, health officials noticed that coronavirus patients could test positive for the virus for about a month.

A perspective on clinical trials | Added April 22

Here’s an interesting take from STAT on clinical trials and drug testing, (and how drug and medical companies largely run the show, as opposed to public health authorities):

The gold standard method of testing drugs is what is known as a randomized controlled trial, in which patients receive either an experimental drug researchers think will work or the standard care that is already available — a selection that is based, effectively, on a coin flip.

…researchers have learned the hard way that this is often the only way to figure out if a treatment works. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have put a stop to routine mastectomies in breast cancer, the belief that common arrhythmia drugs saved lives, and a common knee surgery that was no better than physical therapy. A decade ago, Pfizer spent more than a billion dollars developing a heart drug that an RCT showed resulted in more patients dying.

…Part of the problem is technology. Electronic health record software in the U.S. is not set up to make clinical research faster and easier..

The reason involves another part of the problem. Clinical trials are principally run by drug and medical device companies in order to obtain regulatory approvals, with public health authorities only picking up the slack in rare examples. But the result is that we have not built a system that would make studies simpler; most patients have little opportunity to participate in research; and we are too slow to figure out what works.

Americans remain in favor of stay-at-home orders | Added April 22

We have this story from the Associated Press which includes a survey that found that “a majority of Americans say it won’t be safe to lift social distancing guidelines anytime soon.” The actual article has some lovely, colorful graphs, but for now we’ll resolve to share a few important quotes:

Americans remain overwhelmingly in favor of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a new survey finds, even as small pockets of attention-grabbing protests demanding the lifting of such restrictions emerge nationwide.

About 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer — numbers that have largely held steady over the past few weeks.

Just 36% of Republicans now say they strongly favor requiring Americans to stay home during the outbreak, compared with 51% who said so in late March. While majorities of Democrats and Republicans think current restrictions where they live are about right, Republicans are roughly four times as likely as Democrats to think restrictions in place go too far — 22% to 5%.

More Democrats than Republicans, meanwhile, think restrictions don’t go far enough, 33% to 19%

Reader report on the possible early spread of virus | Added April 22

Here is a reader report that we received from near Santa Clara County:

I live and work in San Mateo County, which is sandwiched between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. I am a certified Rolfer™ and Craniosacral Therapist, so I talk to many people about their health. In late January thru February of this year, a small handful of people related stories to me about being sick with a particularly severe cough for two or more weeks. One person believed that she had dislocated a rib due to coughing. Concurrent symptoms consisted of severe headaches and body aches. At least two of my clients told me they could not get out of bed for over a week for the first time in their lives. San Mateo County went into lockdown on March 16, and at the time, I remarked to several people that I believed the virus had already been active here in January.

Possible spread of virus as far back as December | Added April 22

The anecdotal stories we’ve heard of what may have been early cases of Covid19 in the U.S. seem to be gaining some attention from other news outlets. There is an April 22 report from the Washington Post which details how two deaths in February in Santa Clara County, California were recently deemed to have been caused by the virus. And there is also this New York Times piece from April 22 that similarly covers the same ground. Here are a few quotes from the Washington Post piece:

At least two people who died in early and mid-February had contracted the novel coronavirus, health officials in California said Tuesday, signaling the virus may have spread — and been fatal — in the United States weeks earlier than previously thought.

A photo of San Jose in Santa Clara County, CA Photo by Elaina Karen

Tissue samples taken during autopsies of two people who died at home in Santa Clara County, Calif., tested positive for the virus, local health officials said in a statement. The victims died on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17, respectively.

Initially, the nation’s earliest coronavirus fatality was thought to have occurred on Feb. 29, in Kirkland, Wash., a suburb of Seattle that rapidly became a hot spot. In March, health officials there linked two Feb. 26 deaths to covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus. [end quote]

But this story isn’t new, the Los Angeles Times originally reported on this on April 11 and it contains a quote from Dr. Jeff Smith which the others do not. We have made part of it bold, for emphasis:

“The virus was freewheeling in our community and probably has been here for quite some time,” Dr. Jeff Smith, a physician who is the chief executive of Santa Clara County government, told county leaders in a recent briefing.

How long? A study out of Stanford suggests a dramatic viral surge in February.

But Smith on Friday said data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local health departments and others suggest it was “a lot longer than we first believed” — most likely since “back in December.”

“This wasn’t recognized because we were having a severe flu season,” Smith said in an interview. “Symptoms are very much like the flu. If you got a mild case of COVID, you didn’t really notice. You didn’t even go to the doctor. The doctor maybe didn’t even do it because they presumed it was the flu.”

Missouri sues China | Added April 22

The headline pretty much says it all. Missouri is suing China. According to this article from the BBC Eric Schimtt, Missouri’s Attorney General, alleges that “China did little to stop the spread of the virus”. Schmitt went on to claim that in terms of economic damages, Missouri has suffered in tens of billions of dollars.

Missouri’s state capitol in Jefferson City. Via wikimedia commons.

China isn’t taking this too seriously and has denounced this as a “frivolous lawsuit [that] has no factual or legal basis.” A spokesperson called the move “Really absurd. Based on the principle of sovereign equality, US courts have NO jurisdiction over the Chinese government.”

The BBC article notes that the civil lawsuit is “against the Chinese government, Chinese Communist Party and other Chinese officials and institutions.” However, the legality of all of this is in question. We’ll end this with a few quotes from Schmitt on his reasoning for the lawsuit:

“In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real – thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table.”

“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease.”

“They must be held accountable for their actions.”

NYC no longer in need of USNS Comfort | Added April 22

Here is another story from Gothamist where Governor Cuomo is quoted as saying that New York no longer needs the USNS comfort, alongside another comment on the possibility of a return to normality for the city. A few quotes from the story, below:

The USNS Comfort Photo by Arthur de Gaeta/Brooklyn Eagle

The Comfort was helpful in case New York City hospitals had an overflow of patients, Cuomo explained, but then he added, “We don’t really need the Comfort anymore… If they need to deploy that somewhere else, they should take it.”

The Comfort has treated at least 163 patients, including those with COVID-19.

Cuomo also commented on whether those who live in NYC will ever feel comfortable doing the things that were part of their lives before the pandemic—like going out to restaurant, riding the subway. “Whatever we do, whatever government says, I just think people are going to be very wary before they walk into a Broadway theater or they get in a crowded subway car. They’re going to want to know there’s a therapeutic, a vaccine… or some real safety measure before they subject themselves to a situation like that.”

Amazon workers in New York seek better working conditions | Added April 22

In a bid to secure better conditions, Amazon workers are calling out sick in protest. Amazon doesn’t seem too concerned though, as demand rises and employees are a dime a dozen. This report comes from Gothamist, here are a few quotes:

Amazon is hiring tens of thousands of workers during the pandemic. More than 2,800 employees have been hired in New York, including 500 at the Staten Island facility, where 5,000 people work, according to Amazon spokesperson Rachael Lighty.

Flowers said. “I could still go back and work inside but just because of my health reasons, I’m not going back right now. They’re just going to kick me to the side and hire the next person. And then just keep hiring and hiring until this pandemic is over.”

As retail storefronts shutter and people are sheltered at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bezos has gotten $24 billion richer in 2020, according to Fortune. Amazon senior vice president of operations, Dave Clark, said in a memo reviewed by the Wall Street Journal that there had been a “significant increase in demand.”

Reports of at least 30 strains of the coronavirus…does that mean 30 different vaccines? | Added April 21

A report from the Jerusalem Post has brought attention to a new study from China, which claims that the Coronavirus has mutated into 30 different strains. The published study is, as of yet, non-peer reviewed. Quotes from the article:

The study was carried out by Professor Li Lanjuan and colleagues from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and published in a non-peer reviewed paper released on website on Sunday.

Li’s team analyzed the strains from 11 randomly chosen coronavirus patients from Hangzhou, where there have been 1,264 reported cases, and then tested how efficiently they could infect and kill cells.

More than 30 different mutations were detected, of which 19 were previously undiscovered.

“Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity,” Li wrote in the paper.
The team discovered that some of the mutations could lead to functional changes in the virus’ spike protein, the South China Morning Post reported. Spike protein is the protein that the coronavirus uses to attach itself to human cells.

“Drug and vaccine development, while urgent, need to take the impact of these accumulating mutations into account to avoid potential pitfalls,” the scientists said.

Testing in New York | Added April 21

In New York supplies are very much an issue and, to add to that, the plans for testing are confusing and lacking a bit in logic. This comes to us from Gothamist. We’ve focused on the antibody test a considerable amount today, so here are two quotes from the article in response to the query “So should I go get an antibody test?”

Almost certainly not from a commercial lab, unless you have good reason to believe that lab is using a proper test. That’s difficult to know, so stick with a hospital or blood donation center. Again, this won’t really tell you what level of immunity you have, so the value for the time being is very limited. But as more data rolls in, the antibody level revealed in your test might become more meaningful.

In the meantime, testing positive for antibodies could qualify you to donate plasma that may help some people hospitalized with COVID-19 recover. The New York Blood Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York Presbyterian, SUNY Downstate and other hospitals are offering the antibody tests. But there are big caveats: they have limited capacity, most are only offering them to people who tested positive for the virus, and you have to be willing to donate plasma. Due to limited virus testing, many people who are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 were never lab-verified. SUNY Downstate is allowing people to take the antibody tests and donate plasma if they say they had the illness but it was never confirmed.

More on the troubles with antibody test | Added April 21

This comes from Bloomberg:

The tests search for antibodies — the immune system’s often long-lasting response to an infection — in the blood, instead of testing for the virus itself. The tests are typically conducted with drops of blood from a finger or a drawn from a vein.

But, like the diagnostic tests that use a nose or throat swab to check currently infected patients, the blood antibody tests are proving to be a complex endeavor hamstrung by many of the same issues, as well as new ones.

Because of the desire to get more of the tests to market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has relaxed the usual assessment criteria for them. But not all of the tests have performed perfectly. The FDA has allowed dozens of tests to come to market without the usual vetting. There is evidence many underperform: The agency issued a warning last week urging awareness that not all such tests have been approved and that health-care providers should “be aware of their limitations.” Just four tests have received official emergency authorization from the agency.

“The technology behind antibody tests is fundamentally distinct and generally harder to get right,” Anna Petherick, a public policy expert at the University of Oxford wrote recently in the journal, The Lancet.

Developing antibody tests requires more knowledge of a specific virus’ structure than a diagnostic test does. To make the tests, researchers produce sections of proteins from the virus that the human immune system responds to. Different tests check for different antibodies, but these antibodies can vary from person to person. And not all of them are the type of antibodies that indicate potential immunity. There also are concerns that the tests could pick up antibodies from other strains of coronavirus that cause different, milder illnesses — like a common cold. And even with the right test, findings can vary significantly from region to region.

Antibody tests continue to prove unreliable throughout U.S. | Added April 21

Testing for the Covid virus remains one of the most scandalous aspects of this crisis. One issue, as we’ve documented below, is that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the test being used to get the “case count,” currently at 2.54 million, is enirely unreliable. I’ve been doing my best to educate myself on the science behind this test, which was the subject of a world war involving HIV and AIDS in the early 1990s.

This is supposedly a test of viral load. But the test’s protocols call for a series of steps, including idenfiying the pathogen, seeing it visually using an electron microscope, performing experiments to make sure that it causes the sickness, and that it’s not present in healthy people (among others). Without these measures, the test is meaningless — as is all data that is based on it. So this is a little like saying the speed limit is 65 mph, but we don’t know how long an hour is, or how far a mile is. Therefore, 65 mph could mean 35 mph or 90 mph.

There is also the false positive problem. As many as 80% of PCR positives are likely to be false, rendering the 2.54 million “case” number meaningless. On the other hand, many people may have antibodies, showing that their immune system has responded to the presence of the virus (assuming it exists, and this is the subject of a debate behind the scenes of what you’re seeing on television or Twitter).

When you hear discussion of an antibodies test, that is one answer to the problem, and will solve many of the mysteries left unsolved by PCR. The antibodies test determines whether the immune system has responded to the pathogen. But these tests have proven to be unreliable as well.

The video below from NBC News takes a look at the problems with the antibodies test, otherwise known as serology tests, across the country. Although the video points out that the kits that are providing faulty test results are those that aren’t FDA approved, we have noted earlier that the FDA’s test kits aren’t much more reliable, being that they were contaminated after the FDA violated their own lab standards in producing them. Take a look at the video:

And then there’s this: nearly one in three Massachusetts residents have antibodies | Added April 21

From the National Review: Meanwhile, other researchers patrolled the streets of Chelsea, Mass., asking if they could take blood samples, and holy wow:

Nearly one-third of 200 Chelsea residents who gave a drop of blood to researchers on the street this week tested positive for antibodies linked to COVID-19, a startling indication of how widespread infections have been in the densely populated city.

Sixty-four residents who had a finger pricked in Bellingham Square on Tuesday and Wednesday had antibodies that the immune system makes to fight off the coronavirus, according to Massachusetts General Hospital physicians who ran the pilot study.

The 200 participants generally appeared healthy, but about half told the doctors they had had at least one symptom of COVID-19 in the past four weeks.

Of course, though, this has similar problems. It focuses on people who are out and about, while those holed up at home are (A) less likely to acquire the disease but (B) sometimes holed up precisely because they have it and don’t want to spread it. And this is a hard-hit area that doesn’t represent the rest of the country. Still, like the Stanford study, it gives us a little piece of information we didn’t have before.

But wait, does everyone already have it?

National Review is also covering the “everyone’s got it” theory, which I count as plausible. Meaning, everyone has some blood level of whatever this thing is that they’re looking for.

They don’t sound too sure: coronavirus ‘likely’ to have come from animals — not a lab, WHO says | Added April 21

The WHO has now spoken out at after Pres. Trump’s announcement that the U.S. was investigating into whether the coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan. The lab denied this a few days ago (they cannot do anything but).

The quote below is from a CNBC piece wherein a WHO spokesperson is quoted as saying that it is “likely” that the virus has an animal origin, and that it was not manipulated or lab constructed. We’re watching this go by with great interest. Why does a virus that came from a lab have to be manipulated or made there? Maybe it was just a sample they were growing. Maybe someone in the lab got sick. What we do know for sure is that it didn’t come from the Huanan “wet market.”

That theory is debunked because none of the early cases can be traced to having contact with the market. So the virus was imported TO the market before it went FROM the market — and there is no assurance that the original cases of illness were even infected with the “novel coronavirus.” The pathogen was never identified. It is basically a theory. What is not a theory is that there are at least two labs that process coronaviruses in Wuhan, one of which (a government lab) is 400 yards from the market.

The article is a short read, but here’s the gist of it: Evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in bats in China in late 2019 and was not made in a laboratory, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The comment from the United Nation’s health agency comes days after Pres. Donald Trump said the U.S. was trying to determine whether the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.

“All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not a manipulated or constructed virus in a lab or somewhere else,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing in Geneva, Reuters reported Tuesday.

“It is probable, likely that the virus is of animal origin,” she said, adding that there had “certainly” been an intermediate animal host before the virus was transmitted to humans.

WHO staffed with Americans while Trump cried foul over the sharing of data | Added April 20

Despite president Trump’s claims that the WHO was working to keep the U.S. in the dark about the coronavirus in an effort to protect China, the Washington Post released a report on April 19 that casts a little doubt on that. Specifically, because the WHO had so many U.S. officials working full time at the headquarters in Geneva. Here a few quotes:

More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials.

A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said.

Covid-19 is a syndrome, not a clearly defined disease | Added April 20

The list of symptoms associated with Covid-19 keeps growing. At first it was described as flu-like. Then gastrointestinal issues were noted in as many has half of the cases. Doctors have struggled for approaches to treating the respiratory symptoms, which seem more like altitude sickness than pneumonia. This is not a clearly defined disease; it’s a syndrome, or collection of them. There seem to be a wide diversity of neurological issues.

Consider this, from the Japan Times:

A pattern is emerging among COVID-19 patients arriving at hospitals in New York: Beyond fever, cough and shortness of breath, some are deeply disoriented to the point of not knowing where they are or what year it is.

At times this is linked to low oxygen levels in their blood, but in certain patients the confusion appears disproportionate to how their lungs are faring.

Jennifer Frontera, a neurologist at NYU Langone Brooklyn hospital seeing these patients, told AFP the findings were raising concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on the brain and nervous system.

By now, most people are familiar with the respiratory hallmarks of the COVID-19 disease that has infected more than 2.2 million people around the world. Or this from The New York Times:

Neurologists around the world say that a small subset of patients with Covid-19 are developing serious impairments of the brain.

Although fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the typical hallmarks of infection with the new coronavirus, some patients exhibit altered mental status, or encephalopathy, a catchall term for brain disease or dysfunction that can have many underlying causes, as well as other serious conditions. These neurological syndromes join other unusual symptoms, such as diminished sense of smell and taste as well as heart ailments.

In early March, a 74-year-old man came to the emergency room in Boca Raton, Fla., with a cough and a fever, but an X-ray ruled out pneumonia and he was sent home. The next day, when his fever spiked, family members brought him back. He was short of breath, and could not tell doctors his name or explain what was wrong — he had lost the ability to speak.

Here’s a link to a study from JAMA on neurological manifestations from patients in Wuhan in 2019. And what exactly are “Covid toes”? We had never heard of that, either.

The Infectious Myth – David Rasnick on the Coronavirus | April 20

This is an episode of The Infectious Myth with David Rasnick. It follows our coverage of the polymerase chain reaction test and its many problems.

Here is the official show’s writeup: David Rasnick and David Crowe (who have to call themselves ‘Raz’ and ‘Crowe’ to avoid confusion) discuss the coronavirus, particularly the RT-PCR testing. Raz is a PhD in chemistry who worked on protease inhibitors (being used in coronavirus, although the Chinese trial was an admitted failure). The test is really important because without it there wouldn’t be any Covid-19 cases, so they spend a lot of time discussing it. They also discuss confusion with other diseases, reasons not to shut down the economy, probable exaggeration of the mortality rate, dangerous treatments, the politics, and more.

Hotels and chain restaurants drain money from government grants, leaving none for small businesses | Added April 20

A $349 billion program meant to provide small businesses with much needed funding has run out of money as chains and franchises found loopholes to secure the money. This report from the Washington Post gives the details, here are few quotes:

Thousands of traditional small businesses were unable to get funding from the program before it ran dry. As Congress and the White House near a deal to add an additional $310 billion to the program, some are calling for additional oversight and rule changes to prevent bigger chains from accepting any more money.

Shake Shack, a $1.6 billion burger-and-fries chain based in New York City, received $10 million. After complaints from small business advocates after the fund went dry, company founder Danny Meyer and chief executive Randy Garutti announced Sunday evening that they would return the money.

As the program ran out of money, however, leaving thousands of small businesses without money to pay their workers, criticism mounted about some of the money going to national brands.

The initial PPP “was flawed from top to bottom,” said Florida small business owners Duncan and Rita MacDonald-Korth. “The program has done very little to help genuine small businesses and instead has benefited large companies who have used subsidiary entities to benefit disproportionately and unfairly.”

The couple created a petition asking that the program be limited to companies with fewer than 250 employees and that half of it be reserved for those with 50 employees or fewer.

Contribution of air pollution to Covid deaths | Added April 20

The Guardian has a report on the links that have been found between air pollution and Covid19 deaths. Appropriately, the most recent episode of Planet Waves FM featured an interview with Stephanie Seneff and Jennifer Margulis, and a discussion on the connection between the burning of diesel fuel and the levels of glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) on corn. Here’s a sample of the article:

Air pollution is bad for you.

High levels of air pollution may be “one of the most important contributors” to deaths from Covid-19, according to research.

The analysis shows that of the coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, 78% of them occurred in just five regions, and these were the most polluted.

The research examined levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced mostly by diesel vehicles, and weather conditions that can prevent dirty air from dispersing away from a city. Many studies have linked exposure to health damage, and particularly lung disease, which could make people more likely to die if they contract Covid-19.

“The results indicate that long-term exposure to this pollutant may be one of the most important contributors to fatality caused by the Covid-19 virus in these regions and maybe across the whole world,” said Yaron Ogen, at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, who conducted the research. “Poisoning our environment means poisoning our own body, and when it experiences chronic respiratory stress its ability to defend itself from infections is limited.”

The masculine medical paradigm |Added April 20

The work of Wade Frazier recently came up in discussion. Frazier is a self described generalist, akin to Buckminster Fuller, with writings essays on a number of diverse topics. Here is an essay of his which he finished revising in 2014. It charts the development of our modern medical industry (or, as he calls it, the medical racket) over the course of history, with citations. Even though it was just recently discussed between the editors, this has been Planet Waves’ position from the get go. Here’s a selection focused on the medical paradigm:

Feminine medicine operates from the principle that prevention is best, that well treated bodies take care of themselves, and are their own best medicine. When the body needs healing, feminine medicine is gentle. Remedies such as herbs and nutrition coax the body back to health.

Masculine medicine sees the body as a soldier on a battlefield. Not gentle, masculine medicine does not see the body as able to care for itself. As in cowboy movies, it is always riding to the rescue. It is the body versus the hostile world, or even against itself. The body becomes a battlefield that needs the intervention of medical violence. It is life-taking, instead of life-giving. It uses antibiotics to kill off “invading” microorganisms. It violates the body with knives. It uses powerful drugs that violently manipulate the body’s chemistry. It does not give the body what it needs to heal itself. It does not trust the body’s wisdom, certain that it is clever and powerful enough to manipulate the body into health. It operates from the victim principle.

In the case of cancer and vascular disease, masculine medicine sees the body itself as the enemy. With cancer, parts of the body “turn traitor” and the goal of masculine medicine is annihilation. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation all operate under the paradigm of attacking the body while asserting that it is discerning enough to kill the “bad guys” and spare the “good guys.”

The issue of masculine versus feminine medicine is a conflict between paradigms. That mentality can be seen throughout Western Medicine, from childbirth interventions (and even before, as with amniocentesis) until a patient’s deathbed.

Fatality rate shaping up as comparable with seasonal flu | Added April 20

This comes from a post by Off-Guardian and features the work of Dr. John Ioannidis, from Stanford University. Ioannidis has recently reported the findings of his serology study in Santa Clara County. As we reported previously, the WHO has stated there is no evidence that serology tests can accurately determine the presence of antibodies or immunity. Nonetheless, here is a direct link to the video and the attached summary:

Dr John Ioannidis of Stanford University has released the results of a serology study done on a sampling of Santa Clara County residents. He sat down with John Kirby from Journeyman Pictures to explain the results.

The study found that between 2.5% and 4.2% of residents have antibodies relating to Sars-Cov-2, a far greater percentage than ever previously thought, between 50 and 85 times higher than initial estimates.

This would mean that the infection-fatality ratio (IFR) of Covid19 has potentially been substantially overestimated and that it actually falls in line with seasonal influenza. (which many experts have previously suggested, and other studies have found).

Dr Ioannidis previously wrote an article for STAT magazine regarding the importance of good data when reacting to a new disease, as well as sitting down for a feature-length interview with Journeyman Pictures in late March. He was also featured on our original collection of medical experts whose opinions clashed with mainstream coverage of the current coronavirus outbreak.

Big issues exist with virus as ‘cause of death’ | Added April 20

New York City is now counting people with unknown virus status as having died from Covid-19, the disease purportedly caused by the novel coronavirus. There are many causes of death from people who are known to test positive for the virus; now if it seems like they may have had it, they will be added to the death rolls.

This is not a scientific approach. Note, we have yet to see a single postmortem or guidelines related to Covid. Cause of death is not supposed to be arbitrarily decided. It is a serous legal matter.

Here are two articles related to the topic. Please send us others if you know of them.

Physicians Weekly Calls Out ‘Covid-19 or Equivalent’

From Physicians Weekly

U.S. public health authorities have generally only attributed deaths to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, when patients tested positive for the virus.

New York City’s Health Department said it will now also count any fatality deemed a “probable” coronavirus death, defined as a victim whose “death certificate lists as a cause of death ‘COVID-19’ or an equivalent.”

March 11 was used as the starting point because that was the date of the first confirmed coronavirus death, the city said.

How Are Medical Professionals Deciding Cause of Death?

From WTVM in Georgia

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said right now it seems like if someone is positive for the virus when they die, they are being included on the list of those who died from the virus. In some of these cases, he said the coronavirus is probably a contributing factor to someone’s death rather than the main cause.

“She’s on the list as the youngest to die and I guess it’s because she did test positive, but, to me, they shouldn’t state she died from the virus because at this point we don’t know that,” Bryan said. “I don’t think she did.”

In this tragic death, an infant is left behind to grow up without a mother. Bryan reports just four days before Wilson’s passing, she had an emergency c-section the same day she tested positive for the virus. Bryan believes her death could be a result of complications from that procedure.

Nat Geo Repeats ‘Wet Market’ Virus Origin Lie | Added April 20

We’ve been following the many problems “wet market” theory of the creation of the virus for many weeks. This article from National Geographic in April repeats that deception. The “wet market” theory is disproven because none of the early cases in Wuhan can be contact traced to the market; therefore, the disease was imported to the market rather than originating from the market. Note that the only competing theory is that the virus escaped from several labs in Wuhan where coronaviruses are studied.

We are reposting the Nat Geo article, for the record. Here is a sample:

UNTIL EARLIER THIS year, most people had never heard of the term “wet market,” but the coronavirus pandemic has thrust it into the limelight. A wet market in Wuhan, China, called the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, is believed to be the source of COVID-19.

Somewhat akin to farmer’s markets and found around the world, wet markets are typically large collections of open-air stalls selling fresh seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Some wet markets sell and slaughter live animals on site, including chickens, fish, and shellfish. In China, they’re a staple of daily life for many.

More rarely, wet markets also sell wild animals and their meat. The Huanan market, for example, had a wild animal section where live and slaughtered species were for sale: snakes, beavers, porcupines, and baby crocodiles, among other animals.

Why “wet” markets? One explanation has to do with the liquid in these places: live fish splashing in tubs of water, melting ice keeping meat cold, the blood and innards of slaughtered animals. Another is simply that they deal in perishable goods (thus wet) instead of dry, durable goods.

Although most wet markets don’t sell live wild animals, the terms “wet market” and “wildlife market” are often conflated, according to Aron White, a China specialist at the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based nonprofit.

The conflation of “wet markets” and “wildlife markets” has caused confusion during the coronavirus pandemic, with some U.S. leaders making public calls for the closure of wet markets and lambasting China for continuing to allow them.

China never ordered the closure of its wet markets—they’re an important source of affordable food and a livelihood for many.

April 19, 2020 | Covid-19, Roundup, Drugs and the Environment

Mobile device | Download | Please Support Planet Waves FM

Since the beginning of the Covid situation, I’ve been treating it as a holistic issue, making the connection to the immune crisis, and the environmental toxins crisis — the ground of the environment, rather than the figure of the novel coronavirus. This week I have a special edition of Planet Waves FM, consisting of an interview with an MIT researcher and a journalist who are investigating environmental connections to Covid-19. They’ve been looking into the glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) problem for many years. (So have several Planet Waves writers, including Carol van Strum.)

(For background, here is my Feb. 11 Planet Waves TV on this topic — more than two long months ago. And here is our interview with Juror #4 on the first jury to ever hold Monsanto liable for Roundup.)

Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. She has a BS degree from MIT in biology and a PhD from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science. Her recent interests have focused on the role of toxic chemicals and micronutrient deficiencies in health and disease, with a special emphasis on the pervasive herbicide, Roundup, and the mineral, sulfur. She has authored over 30 peer-reviewed journal papers over the past few years on these topics.

Jennifer Margulis is an award-winning journalist, Fulbright grantee, and sought-after speaker. She is the author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family and co-author, with Dr. Paul Thomas, of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan. She has been researching and writing about health-related issues for over 15 years. She has worked on a child survival campaign in West Africa, taught literature classes to non-traditional students in Atlanta, and appeared live on prime-time television in France.

This article is Dr. Seneff’s proposal for connecting glyphosate to Covid, which we have reviewed. We consider this article a starting point and would like to see more specific empirical data to back up the theory.

Here is a collection of articles on the connection between human health and glyphosate.

Mobile device | Download

Testing still an issue in the U.S. | April 19

In the U.S. chaos over testing persists as many states still need test kits, others have them and are misusing them, and on top of all of that they are often inaccurate. On Friday April 17 the WHO issued a warning that there’s no evidence that serological tests, otherwise known as the antibody test, can actually show “whether a person has immunity or is no longer at risk of becoming reinfected.”

The Washington Post reported on the CDC violating its own laboratory standards in making test kits, and contaminating them:

“The failure by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quickly produce a test kit for detecting the novel coronavirus was triggered by a glaring scientific breakdown at the CDC’s central laboratory complex in Atlanta, according to scientists with knowledge of the matter and a determination by federal regulators.”

“The CDC facilities that assembled the kits violated sound manufacturing practices, resulting in contamination of one of the three test components used in the highly sensitive detection process, the scientists said.”

Lastly a lengthy article from the New York Times published today details how, to make up for demand, “dubious” test kits are being rolled out, and just how much trouble the U.S. is having with all of the above issues:

“Even Cellex’s F.D.A.-authorized test has a false positive rate of about five percent. That is still a significant margin of error: In a community where five percent of people have had the virus, Dr. Osterholm said, there would be as many false positives as true ones.”

Director of Wuhan Institute of Virology denies coronavirus originated from there | April 18

After months of silence an official from the virology lab which happens to be in the city of Wuhan spoke out and denied that the coronavirus originated from the lab. This comes to us from New York Daily News:

Wuhan Institute of Virology

A laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, located just miles away from the wet market where officials said the novel coronavirus first emerged, has denied accusations the disease originated at the institute before it spread and infected millions worldwide.

Yuan Zhiming, vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in an interview with Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, dismissed the claims as a “conspiracy theory” designed to “confuse” people. Scientists at the facility do research on coronaviruses that originate in bats, which has prompted speculation regarding the Wuhan lab in recent weeks.

Yuan, a microbiology and biotechnology expert who trained in France, Denmark and the United States, also noted that a man-made coronavirus resembling the one ripping across the globe is beyond the scope of human intelligence.

The Chinese government has long denied that the lab was to blame and almost immediately pointed to a wet market in the city of Wuhan as the virus source. But there have been several questions raised about that theory since the illness has killed more than 156,000 people worldwide.

Rutgers scientist warned of lab accidents in 2004 and has many times since | Added April 18

Not that lab accidents were invented in the 21st century, though they were warned about. Now famous for such cautions and for his efforts to bolster lab safety, Richard Ebright gave an interview to The New York Times in 2004. Here is a sample of the article.

Dr. Richard H. Ebright

“The government and many security experts say one crucial step is to build more high-security laboratories, where scientists can explore the threats posed not only by deadly natural germs, but also by designer pathogens — genetically modified superbugs that could outdo natural viruses and bacteria in their killing power. To this end, the Bush administration has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars to erect such laboratories in Boston; Galveston, Tex.; and Frederick, Md., among other places, increasing eightfold the overall space devoted to the high-technology buildings. ”

“Dr. Ebright, on the other hand, views the plans as a recipe for catastrophe. The laboratories, called biosafety level 4, or BSL-4, are costly, unnecessary and dangerous, he says.”

“In addition, he says, the laboratories could leak. They could put deadly pathogens into irresponsible hands and they will divert money from other worthy endeavors like public health and the frontiers of biology. Moreover, their many hundreds of new employees would become a pool of deadly expertise that could turn malevolent, unleashing lethal germs on an unsuspecting public.”

Scientists developing a supposedly ‘non-invasive’ DNA-based vaccine | Added April 18

This report comes from Futurism:

A team of scientists is working on an experimental vaccine that hijacks your DNA to build up resistance to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

It’s still a work in progress, but the idea is to insert genetic material into a patient’s body that commissions their cellular machinery to churn out little virus-like particles, explained lead researcher and University of Waterloo pharmaceutical expert Roderick Slavcev.

“The concept of a DNA-based vaccine is that the genetic cargo has to be delivered to cells first after which the gene is expressed and can generate the proteins of interest,” Slavcev told Futurism, “in this case the proteins making up a viral shell called a virus-like particle.”

Slavcev and his team are trying to figure out how to engineer those virus-like particles to end up looking almost exactly like a harmless version of the coronavirus. If they sort out that remaining challenge, then the recipient’s immune system can go into overdrive and build up a resistance to the real coronavirus.

“When complete, our DNA-based vaccine will be administered non-invasively as a nasal spray that delivers nanomedicine engineered to immunize and decrease COVID-19 infections,” Slavcev said in a press release on the vaccine project, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed or accepted into an academic journal.

Doctor who discovered HIV claims that the coronavirus is man made | Added April 18

Here’s part of an April 16 piece from Gilmore Health:

Contrary to the narrative that is being pushed by the mainstream that the COVID 19 virus was the result of a natural mutation and that it was transmitted to humans from bats via pangolins, Dr Luc Montagnier the man who discovered the HIV virus back in 1983 disagrees and is saying that the virus was man made.

Professor Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Prize winner for Medicine, claims that SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated virus that was accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Chinese researchers are said to have used coronaviruses in their work to develop an AIDS vaccine. HIV RNA fragments are believed to have been found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

We knew that the Chinese version of how the coronavirus emerged was increasingly under attack, but here’s a thesis that tells a completely different story about the Covid-19 pandemic, which is already responsible for more than 110,000 deaths worldwide. According to Professor Luc Montagnier, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for “discovering” HIV as the cause of the AIDS epidemic together with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, the SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that was manipulated and accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, in the last quarter of 2019. According to Professor Montagnier, this laboratory, known for its work on coronaviruses, tried to use one of these viruses as a vector for HIV in the search for an AIDS vaccine!

“With my colleague, bio-mathematician Jean-Claude Perez, we carefully analyzed the description of the genome of this RNA virus,” explains Luc Montagnier, interviewed by Dr Jean-François Lemoine for the daily podcast at Pourquoi Docteur, adding that others have already explored this avenue: Indian researchers have already tried to publish the results of the analyses that showed that this coronavirus genome contained sequences of another virus, … the HIV virus (AIDS virus), but they were forced to withdraw their findings as the pressure from the mainstream was too great.

Influential Covid-19 model uses flawed methods and shouldn’t guide U.S. policies, critics say | April 17

“By the first week of June, we project that the number of new cases will be close to zero if current social distancing policies are maintained.” That model predicted two weeks ago that the number of new daily cases would peak around now, as seems to be the case.

This article is from STATnews, a medical industry publication that has proven to be reliable. Jumping right into the middle of the article, about the current statistical model:

“It’s not a model that most of us in the infectious disease epidemiology field think is well suited” to projecting Covid-19 deaths, epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told reporters this week, referring to projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Statistical models galore!

“That the IHME model keeps changing is evidence of its lack of reliability as a predictive tool,” said epidemiologist Ruth Etzioni of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, home to several of the researchers who created the model,

The chief reason the IHME projections worry some experts, Etzioni said, is that “the fact that they overshot” — initially projecting up to 240,000 U.S. deaths, compared with fewer than 70,000 now — “will be used to suggest that the government response prevented an even greater catastrophe, when in fact the predictions were shaky in the first place.”

According to a critique by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London, published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine, the IHME projections are based “on a statistical model with no epidemiologic basis.”

“Statistical model” refers to putting U.S. data onto the graph of other countries’ Covid-19 deaths over time under the assumption that the U.S. epidemic will mimic that in those countries. But countries’ countermeasures differ significantly. As the epidemic curve in the U.S. changes due to countermeasures that were weaker or later than, say, China’s, the IHME modelers adjust the curve to match the new reality.

Please check out this piece from Mother Jones, which shows the extent of food lines across the United States.

U.S. government getting raw deal on ventilators | Added April 17

In at least two separate instances the Trump administration has found itself making deals with a company to produce ventilators, followed by the company being called into question. Business Insider details how the administration awarded a $55 million contract to a company that filed for bankruptcy last year and has no employees. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the company has no experience making medical supplies or equipment; they’re a self described “tactical training company for the US military and other government agencies.”

In another deal, a congressional subcommittee is looking into possible price gouging now that the U.S. government is having to pay quadruple the price for ventilators than was initially negotiated. ProPublica reports that Royal Philips N.V. received millions in tax dollars to develop an affordable ventilator back in 2014 for the Strategic National Stockpile.

“As ProPublica previously reported, Philips never produced any of those devices for the stockpile. Instead, as the coronavirus spread, the company manufactured commercial versions of the ventilator at its factory outside Pittsburgh and sold them for far higher prices overseas. Then, rather than pushing the company to accelerate the delivery of the ventilators developed for the stockpile, HHS this month agreed to buy 43,000 of the commercial version at a price of $15,000 per ventilator.

Leaked State Department memo warned against halting of WHO funding | Added April 17

Not everyone in the Trump Administration was on board with the President’s decision to cut funding to the World Health Organization. ProPublica in an April 15 piece reported on a draft of a state department memo that warned against such action.

The memo was written by members of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. As such, the memo included information on how the United States’ funding of the WHO impacts the ability of countries in the Middle East to handle the pandemic. And, how such a move of refusing to fund the organization could “cede ground” to China and hamper the global response to the pandemic.

As for why it may have been written:

“One U.S. official with knowledge of the State Department memo said it was likely written so that Pompeo could justify waiving parts of Trump’s order, allowing U.S. funding to the WHO to continue. The emphasis on how the halt in funding could bolster China was likely meant to appeal to anti-China hawks in the administration, this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.”

China’s influence on the WHO and international public health | Added April 17

Here is an April 2 piece from Foreign Policy that analyzes China’s efforts to position itself as a “public health superpower” with the help of the WHO. Excerpted below:

“After initial denials and cover-ups, China successfully contained the COVID-19 outbreak—but not before it had exported many cases to the rest of the world. Today, despite the falsehoods it initially passed on, which played a critical role in delaying global response, it’s trying to leverage its reputed success story into a stronger position on international health bodies.”

“Most critically, Beijing succeeded from the start in steering the World Health Organization (WHO), which both receives funding from China and is dependent on the regime of the Communist Party on many levels. Its international experts didn’t get access to the country until Director-General Tedros Adhanom visited President Xi Jinping at the end of January. Before then, WHO was uncritically repeating information from the Chinese authorities, ignoring warnings from Taiwanese doctors—unrepresented in WHO, which is a United Nations body—and reluctant to declare a ‘public health emergency of international concern,’ denying after a meeting Jan. 22 that there was any need to do so.”

“While the rising number of cases elsewhere shows that China isn’t alone in failing in the initial stages of an outbreak, the full story of the Chinese loss will probably never be known—and certainly not recognized by WHO or other bodies.”

Republican-affiliated groups organized Michigan protests | Added April 17

The Guardian is reporting that rightwing fringe groups pulled together Wednesday’s protests in Michigan. Republican-connected not-for-profits created the event to to cause gridlock in the city, and for a time blocked the entrance to a local hospital.

It was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which Michigan state corporate filings show has also operated under the name of Michigan Trump Republicans. It was also heavily promoted by the Michigan Freedom Fund, a group linked to Trump cabinet member Betsy DeVos.

But the protest also attracted far right protest groups who have been present at pro-Trump and gun rights rallies in Michigan throughout the Trump presidency.

Placards identified the Michigan Proud Boys as participants in the vehicle convoy. Near the state house, local radio interviewed a man who identified himself as “Phil Odinson.”

In fact the man is Phil Robinson, the prime mover in a group called the Michigan Liberty Militia, whose Facebook page features pictures of firearms, warnings of civil war, celebrations of Norse paganism, and memes ultimately sourced from white nationalist groups like Patriot Front.

China once again denies virus lab release theory; Huanan wet market theory still dead | Added April 17

Nobody has claimed credit or taken responsibility for releasing the novel coronavirus that has shut down much of the world’s economy and sent 22 million Americans to the unemployment lines.

A major street in Wuhan, a few blocks east of Chongwen Plaza, at night (pre-coronavirus.) Photo by Vmenkov.

While there is no evidence that it came from the Huanan fish and wildlife market, BBC is reporting that there is currently also no evidence that any research institute in Wuhan was the source of SARS-CoV-2. This is one of many denials of what at minimum seems to be a potential source. The Wuhan Virology Institute is located close to the market.

On Thursday, China foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian addressed the matter at a news conference, telling journalists the World Health Organization’s officials “have said multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory.”

(Not all researchers agree. See video and interview below: Czech molecular biologist describes ‘messy genes’ in SARS CoV-2, says they are evidence of tampering.)

President Donald Trump, who has been coming under fire over his administration’s response to the pandemic, said the US government is investigating the lab theory. China has repeatedly been accused of lacking transparency in the early stages of the outbreak, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Beijing “needs to come clean” on what they know.

ALSO: China says WHO has said no evidence coronavirus was made in a lab | Added April 17

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Presser | Added April 16

See full interview

RIA Novosti: Fox News reported citing multiple sources that the novel coronavirus was leaked from a lab. I wonder what is China’s comment on this publication?

Zhao Lijian: China’s position with regard to the origin and transmission routes of the novel coronavirus is clear. It is a matter of science on which we should only rely on the findings of scientists and medical experts.

I’d like to remind you that the WHO has repeatedly stated that there is no evidence showing the virus was made in a lab. Many renowned medical specialists in the world have also debunked the “lab leakage” theory as not science-based at all.

Infectious diseases are common enemies to human beings. The international community can only defeat them with concerted efforts. China will continue to stand in solidarity and render mutual assistance with other countries to jointly overcome the pandemic.

From Kentucky to Utah, protests over stay-at-home orders across the US | Added April 16

Stir-crazy yet? Recently, protesters have left their homes and spoken out against stay-at-home orders, across the U.S. On April 16, CNN reported:

Wow, what a colonial fuss! Earl Gray, cream & sugar pls.

“Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah — states led by both Republican and Democratic governors — have all seen protests in recent days as people grow more concerned about the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.”

In Michigan, some, but not all, protesters stayed in their cars and crowded the streets in what was dubbed “Operation Gridlock.” In Ohio, a crowd gathered outside the statehouse. And, in St. Paul Minnesota some protesters meet outside the governor’s mansion.

The general concern for most of the protests seem to be a concern for small businesses, and the general “economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.” Protester Tom Hughey in Michigan is quoted as saying, “I realize how important this virus is, but now we’re getting to the point where we’re shutting too much stuff down.”

Celia Farber explains why the polymerase chain reaction test is meaningless as a diagnostic tool for Covid-19 | Added April 16

This article is by Celia Farber, one of the fiercely independent writers of the AIDS-era (she wrote in Spin). As with HIV, different countries have different standards. For HIV, one be positive in Canada (“have it”), and negative in Australia (“not have it”). At the same time.

Before I go on: this article is long and it might seem meandering, though it’s relevant, important stuff to know. We are blessed with one of the few writers who actually covered AIDS helping us figure out what is happening now with a similar situation (and the same test being used).

Celia Farber

Polymerase chain reaction, the PCR process, is a replicating machine that keeps manufacturing (multiplies, or copies), well, I guess pretty much anything, but in this case a genetic marker for a virus until a level is reached in the device.

It makes new copies in cycles, doubling the number each time. The test can be turned off at any cycle in the sequence, and different states and countries have different cutoffs for how many cycles constitutes a valid test (just like for HIV).

This translates to how one sample can be negative, positive and indeterminate, all at the same time — depending on what standards you use. You might say, oh, well, what is the reference standard? That’s the problem — there isn’t one. The PCR test gives a measurement but no basis for the meaning of that number. In labtalk, this is the “gold standard” issue of the PCR test as it’s used, not as it was designed. It was designed to have a references for the isolated purified known pathogen, viral load outcomes and so on — and none of that exists.

Therefore, to “have the virus” (after allegedly flunking the test) does not necessarily mean evidence of infection or of disease — and this is per those CDC and FDA documents I’ve referenced in a recent post. To make a valid diagnosis, one must study the symptoms and do contact tracing.

Hence the term “case” is arbitrary and in a sense, a local term. In New York, everyone who tests “positive” is a case, whereas in other places, there are other definitions.

Celia’s article contains extensive interviews from the 1990s with Kary Mullis, who invented and set up the protocols for the polymerase chain reaction.

And then she has this:

“In one paper,” Crowe says, “I found 37 cycles. If you didn’t get enough fluorescence by 37 cycles, you are considered negative. In another, paper, the cutoff was 36. Thirty-seven to 40 were considered “indeterminate.” And if you got in that range, then you did more testing. I’ve only seen two papers that described what the limit was. So, it’s quite possible that different hospitals, different States, Canada versus the US, Italy versus France are all using different cutoff sensitivity standards of the Covid test. So, if you cut off at 20, everybody would be negative. If you cut off a 50, you might have everybody positive.”

Hey Celia — I’ve missed you.

Robert Kennedy Jr. takes on CNN’s vaccine advocacy | Added April 16

RFK Jr., John Kennedy’s nephew, has challenged Sanjay Gupta and CNN on their ongoing advocacy of vaccines, and their misinformation campaigns. Kennedy is excellent at showing how the government’s own data contradicts the government’s position. This letter is eye-opening, and it may challenge your views on the wisdom of mass, compulsory vaccination. From the letter:

Robert Kennedy Jr.

Another study published in 2011 in the Journal of Virology confirmed that annual influenza vaccination indeed hampers the development of a robust cell-mediated immunity. Annual vaccination for influenza, the authors concluded, “may render young children who have not previously been infected with an influenza virus more susceptible to infection with a pandemic influenza virus of a novel subtype.”

A 2018 CDC study found there was an increase of acute respiratory infections caused by non-influenza respiratory pathogens following influenza vaccination compared to unvaccinated children during the same period. The authors recommended that potential mechanisms for this association warrant further investigation.

Kary Mullis tribute

The inventor tells the story of PCR | April 16

We have been hearing a lot about the polymerase chain reaction test these days — currently the only test being used for the novel coronavirus. It’s a genetic amplification test. It was invented by a man who won the Nobel Prize for doing so, at the height of the AIDS pandemic. We’ve retrieved his book, and reprinted the chapter on his invention of the PCR method for readability. Kary died last year. He’s one those people I would have been happy to meet, or spend an afternoon with.

David Katz NYT opinion piece: “Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?” | Added April 16

This March 20 New York Times opinion piece by David L. Katz makes the argument for surgical precision in dealing with the Coronavirus. in order to, as he put it, to “[minimize] resources and unintended consequences alike.”

Katz is the president of True Health Initiative and the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. When he wrote this piece in March, he noted that by using shutdowns to “[slow] the spread of coronavirus from torrent to trickle,” the virus would continue to persist, and the question would remain of when is it safe to return to life as normal; “When does the society-wide disruption end?”

The heart of his proposed, “surgically precise” method was to “preferentially [protect] the medically frail and those over age 60, and in particular those over 70 and 80, from exposure.” Meanwhile, the rest of society could develop natural herd immunity to the virus and not pass it on those most vulnerable.

FEMA and the CDC’s plan to reopen the United States | Added April 16

Here are a few excerpts from this April 14 Washington Post piece, quoted directly:

A team of government officials — led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has created a public health strategy to combat the novel coronavirus and reopen parts of the country.

Other agencies and White House officials have drafted similar planning documents, a White House aide said. The version obtained by The Post appears to be an early draft by FEMA and contains granular instructions for a phased reopening of institutions such as schools, child-care facilities, summer camps, parks, faith-based organizations and restaurants.

The plan lays out three phases: Preparing the nation to reopen with a national communication campaign and community readiness assessment until May 1. Then, the effort through May 15 would involve ramping up manufacturing of testing kits and personal protective equipment and increasing emergency funding. Then staged reopenings would begin, depending on local conditions. The plan does not give dates for reopenings but specified “not before May 1.”

If you stay inside don’t drink, if you go outside don’t breathe | Added April 16

In an April 16 report from The Post Millennial, it’s said that the World Health Organization has kindly pointed out that alcohol can be rather bad for you, especially when you’re stuck at home in the midst of a health crisis. They have asked that governments around the world limit citizens’ access to alcohol due to the negative health complications that can arise.

The article cites the WHO’s European website as saying “Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes.” Not something you’d particularly want in the midst of a pandemic.

Don’t do this at home, says the WHO.

A few of other highlights:

“The WHO also set out to clear up the ‘dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill’ the coronavirus, publishing a fact sheet to disprove it.”


“…in the United States, people are buying in bulk. Alcohol sales have gone up 22 percent for the week ending March 28 when compared to the same week a year ago. There has also been an increase of Americans drinking at home.”

As if potentially poisoning ourselves at home wasn’t enough, the Trump administration has gone full steam ahead with deregulating industrial soot emissions. This is according to an April 14 New York Times report, and an April 16 piece that further explored the ongoing push for deregulation. Here is a quote from the second piece:

“Over the past few weeks as the nation struggled with the coronavirus, the administration has also rushed to loosen curbs on automobile tailpipe emissions, opted not to strengthen a regulation on industrial soot emissions and moved to drop the threat of punishment to companies that kill birds ‘incidentally.'”


Testing woes continue as Trump pushes to reopen the country | Added April 16

Despite mismanagement in supplying tests, the questionable efficacy of the tests, and a general lack of federal support, President Trump is optimistic that some states could reopen before May 1, according to this New York Times report from April 15.

“As President Trump pushes to reopen the economy, most of the country is not conducting nearly enough testing to track the path and penetration of the coronavirus in a way that would allow Americans to safely return to work, public health officials and political leaders say.”

“From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, lapses by the federal government have compromised efforts to detect the pathogen in patients and communities. A diagnostic test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proved to be flawed. The F.D.A. failed to speed approval for commercial labs to make tests widely available.”

Lab escape story goes mainstream | April 16

I was looking for my Sally Brompton horoscope Wednesday night when I found this article in the New York Post: “U.S. Officials looking into whether coronavirus escaped from a lab in China.” [Note, as of 2:24 am NY time, CNN is carrying the story too.]

The lab is the Wuhan Institute of Virology, funded by the United States. As the name implies, it’s located in Wuhan, the same place the novel coronavirus allegedly broke out.

Once it’s in the Post, it’s mainstream.

There will be people who read this and say, yeah, right. It will sound like someone else for Trump to blame. Or you might say it’s a tabloid, this is the NY Post, not the Washington Post, don’t trust it.

Yet the Washington Post (you know, Woodward and Bernstein) had something similar over the weekend — a piece on diplomatic warnings associated with safety problems at the U.S. funded facility going back years.

If you’ve been following this here blog, you’ve seen this story develop over the past six weeks. It’s plausible (lab accidents happen, and we live in The Age of the Royal Fuckup) and there is no barrier to it being true that must be solved hypothetically.

Two Competing Stories, and One is Proven False

From an existential standpoint, here’s the issue. The “wet market” story — the tale of the alleged bat virus that somehow gets into human biology at a fish market — falls apart when you check the facts. The Lancet has reported that the earliest patients had no contact with the market or anyone associated with it. This logically implies that the truth must be something else; some other method of outbreak. How did the first patient get it?

CCN on Jan. 27 published an article contrasting two theories, one of which is the market theory and the other is the potential lab escape. These are the two competing narratives.

At that point in late January, CCN still has the notion that came from bat soup, or maybe some other form of bat snack, which is not a thing in China. The story morphed to the “bats were scavenging at the market, not being sold as food” version of what they were doing there; and then their blood or whatever got into another animal which got into a human (direct transmission is said to be unlikely).

Or, in the alternate, CCN suggested, the virus got out of the lab where they study those very kinds of viruses. This story has been making the rounds. It has legs, it has a life, and though it’s taken a little time to gather momentum, here we are. Beware of one thing however: with an incident like this, we must ask whether the bottle fell, or was pushed. One could be a cover for the other. If it came from the lab, we have to know how it came from the lab.

Here’s a Fox timeline of China’s coronavirus coverup.

Czech molecular biologist describes ‘messy genes’ in SARS CoV-2, says they are evidence of tampering | Added April 15

We are carefully tracking all of the genesis-related materials we come across — that is, information related to the origins of the virus that is causing us to all stay indoors, away from work, and school, and one another. Below is a sample of an interview with Dr. S, Pekova. Read the full interview here. Note, governments have labs where they make lethal viruses, and the lab in Wuhan was funded by a grant from the United States.

The laboratory in Wuhan conducts research of deadly virus such as SARS which is very closely related to SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19). You have said that SARS CoV-2 has certain genetic sequences that are not natural. Do you stand firm on your claim?

Dr. Pekova, a Czech medical doctor, molecular biologist, and geneticist,

Dr. Pekova: Yes, I stand behind my claim. RNA viruses mutate and their genome is unstable. They have high rates of mutations, and they are not very accurate in replication.

The virus RNA usually mutates in areas that are responsible for protein production used as building blocks for “the body” of the virus. This part fulfils certain functions of the virus, such as cell penetration and interacting with the infected cell.

Then there is the regulatory area of the virus genome, it can be seen as the command centre that governs virus replication.

This part of SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) genome appears unusually messy, as if it was severely altered.

I have a hard time believing that such intensive restructuring, insertions and deletions of the virus RNA code, would happen in nature and that the virus would survive such severe restructuring.

The regulatory portion of the virus genome usually has a low mutation rate. SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) has an atypical degree of mutation, which is usually done by genetic modification.

When I worked in research, cloning viral mutation was my daily work, and we used to clone different gene variations on cultured media.

For example, we have seen a harmless gene turn into a lymphoma-inducing gene. A mutation can turn something that is benign into something very damaging. We have tools in genetic engineering that are capable of such modifications.

Genetic modification can be used, for example, to create so-called “designer babies” which was done by a Chinese scientist who created two embryos that were genetically modified. He was later fined and went to prison.

I can imagine there are other scientists who have done the same thing, they will just never admit to it. This all depends on the ethics of the scientist and I am not sure if ethics is a sufficient guarantee.

Advice and Consent: Trump threatens to dump congress | Added April 15

What better way to celebrate Income Tax Day than for the president to threaten to dismiss both chambers of Congress.

From The Hill: President Trump on Wednesday threatened to use his executive power to force both chambers of Congress to adjourn if the Senate did not confirm his nominees for vacancies across the administration.

That’s brilliant.

The president, during a coronavirus briefing in the Rose Garden, offered a lengthy diatribe against what he described as congressional obstruction and argued confirming his nominees was more urgent than ever amid the pandemic.

“The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments,” Trump said. “We have a tremendous number of people that have to come into government. And now more so than ever before because of the virus and the problem.”

Lawmakers in both chambers are not expected to return to the Capitol until May 4 but both the House and Senate have been conducting pro forma sessions in the meantime. That means the Senate is technically in session and Trump may not make recess appointments.

“The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people can not afford during this crisis,” he said. “It is a scam, what they do. It’s a scam. And everybody knows it and it’s been that way for a long time.”

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution grants Trump the power to “on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper.”

That means that in order for the president to step in and dismiss both, the GOP-controlled Senate would have to adjourn while the Democrat-held House objected. Senate Democrats also have procedural tools to prevent the Senate from adjourning.

The National Constitution Center noted that “no President has ever exercised” the authority.

Cuomo signs order requiring New Yorkers to wear masks in public, at risk of being fined | Added April 15

According to an April 15th report from NY Daily News, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order on Wednesday that will require New Yorkers to mask up when they go out in public spaces where one “cannot maintain social distancing.” Violators could be fined.

The Lips edition safety mask in production, by our textiles editor, Cheryl Corson. It features the kisser of Patricia Quinn (Magenta) and is of course from the opening sequence of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

If you’re in the New York area and don’t have an official mask, then not to worry, “bandanas, scarves and other makeshift face coverings are acceptable under the new executive order.”

Enforcement of the executive order is not due for another three days and Cuomo reassured that penalties will only be issued, essentially, if there is “flagrant noncompliance.”

In light of the delay before the order goes into effect, the article reported further on Cuomo’s clarification as to how enforcement will be carried out. He was quoted as saying “Local government should start to enforce it and they should come up and say…’Where’s your mask, buddy?’ in a nice, New York kind of way.” The article stated that he “also compared the risk for a face mask fine to how people can be penalized for ‘jaywalking erratically.'”

So, if you happen to live in New York, remember to wear a mask, buddy. And no smiling with your eyes!

Chinese laboratories ordered to suppress information about virus in December | Added April 15

On top of the safety issues with Wuhan’s virology labs, this March 1st report from The Times details how Chinese labs were ordered to destroy proof of the virus back in December, to keep the news of it from spreading:

Chinese Laboratories identified a mystery virus as a highly infectious new pathogen by late December last year, but they were ordered to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news, a Chinese media outlet has revealed.

A regional health official in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak, demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China dd not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.

The detailed revelations by Caixin Global, a respected independent publication, provide the clearest evidence yet of the scale of the cover-up in the crucial early weeks when the opportunity was lost to control the outbreak.

Censors have been rapidly deleting the report from the Chinese internet.

In addition, this March 17 piece from National Review similarly points out how regional health officials in Wuhan deliberately did not inform a health team from Beijing during a January 8 visit that local medical staff had already been infected by patients, in an attempt to keep its contagiousness under wraps.

State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses | Added April 15

We are closely following all matters related to the Wuhan virology institute.

This was just published in the Washington Post on April 14:

Two years before the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the world, U.S. Embassy officials visited a Chinese research facility in the city of Wuhan several times and sent two official warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats. The cables have fueled discussions inside the U.S. government about whether this or another Wuhan lab was the source of the virus — even though conclusive proof has yet to emerge.

The Chinese researchers at [the Wuhan Institute of Virology] were receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other U.S. organizations, but the Chinese requested additional help. The cables argued that the United States should give the Wuhan lab further support, mainly because its research on bat coronaviruses was important but also dangerous.

Here some new studies about Covid-19 | Added April 15

  • Stanford professor of medicine John Ioannidis concludes in a new study that the risk of death from Covid19 for people under 65 years of age, even in global “hotspots,” is equivalent to the risk of a fatal car accident for daily commuters driving between 9 and 400 miles.
  • In a serological pilot study, German virologist Hendrick Streeck comes to the interim result that the lethality of Covid19 is at 0.37% and the mortality (based on the total population) at 0.06%. These values are about ten times lower than those of the WHO and about five times lower than those of Johns Hopkins University.
  • A Danish study with 1500 blood donors found that the lethality of Covid19 is only 1.6 per thousand, i.e. more than 20 times lower than originally assumed by the WHO and thus in the range of a strong (pandemic) influenza. At the same time Denmark has decided to reopen schools and kindergartens next week.
  • A serological study in the US state of Colorado comes to the preliminary conclusion that the lethality of Covid19 has been overestimated by a factor of 5 to a factor of 20 and is likely to be in the range between normal and pandemic influenza.
  • A study conducted by the Medical University of Vienna concluded that the age and risk profile of Covid19 deaths is similar to normal mortality.
  • A study in the Journal of Medical Virology concludes that the internationally used coronavirus test is unreliable: In addition to the already known problem of false positive results, there is also a „potentially high“ rate of false negative results, i.e. the test does not respond even in symptomatic individuals, while in other patients it does respond once and then again not. This makes it more difficult to exclude other flu-like illnesses.
  • A Swiss biophysicist has for the first time evaluated and graphically displayed the rate of positive tests in the US, France, Germany and Switzerland. The result shows that the positive rate in these countries is increasing rather slowly and not exponentially.

Obesity is seen as single largest risk factor for critical illness in New York study | Added April 15

A study of 4,013 patients admitted to hospitals in New York City has concluded that the highest risk of death is for people who are obese. Age and comorbidities (that is, other illnesses) are powerful predictors of hospitalization; however, admission oxygen impairment and markers of inflammation are most strongly associated with critical illness.

Here is the Physicians Weekly article, and here is the full text of the study.

Eight meters, or kissy kissy kissy? | Added April 14

I don’t know if they do April Fool’s Day in Thailand, but the other day I found this article, dated April 1, in the Thailand Medical News (which has been a reliable source of interesting news through this crisis. This is not labeled opinion. It’s tagged “Breaking News,” and is in the “how far does it spread” genre.

From the article (long quote):

“Many are still wondering who is the charlatan who came up with the idea that social distancing of 1 to 3 meters would suffice to prevent the spread of the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus despite no official scientific studies to show that it true and is fully safe.

“To make matters worse, since the beginning of this Covid-19 breakout, we have allowed government authorities, health officials, unreliable medical experts and academics, social media platforms and search engines and also health organizations to get away with fake news and misinformation. Many of these ignorant charlatans have been advocating social distancing and misleading the public that it is safe as long as distances of between 1 to 3 meters is maintained although there are no supporting scientific studies to say it works.”

But they warn:

“A new research by qualified experts in their field from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) lead by Dr Lydia Bourouiba, an Associate Professor at MIT, have researched the dynamics of exhalations (coughs and sneezes, for instance) for years at The Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory and found exhalations cause gaseous clouds that can travel up to 27 feet (8.2 meters).”

Oh really? Now we have to stand 27 feet apart? The Farmer’s Market would take up three football fields and everyone would need a self-enclosed golf cart. We could ride trains, but only two people to the car, at opposite ends.

Then this morning, I opened my email:

“The WHO (World Health Organization) concluded at the end of March that, contrary to earlier assumptions, Covid19 is not transmitted by aerosols (“through the air“). Transmission mainly takes place through direct contact or by droplet infection (coughing, sneezing).”

The link goes to the WHO’s report on the study. Here is part of an analysis from a Swiss website, which squares with the report:

“A recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine has evaluated virus persistence of the COVID-19 virus.10 In this experimental study, aerosols were generated using a three-jet Collison nebulizer and fed into a Goldberg drum under controlled laboratory conditions. This is a high-powered machine that does not reflect normal human cough conditions. Further, the finding of COVID-19 virus in aerosol particles up to 3 hours does not reflect a clinical setting in which aerosol-generating procedures are performed—that is, this was an experimentally induced aerosol-generating procedure.”

Droplets are different from aerosolized particles of 2019-nCoV RNA. Medical procedures require close contact and release sputum, and therefore require PPE protection.

The WHO report was published (and not reported further), of course, after more than three billion people were told to stay indoors and stand six feet apart from one another, including out of doors, where the air is circulated by wind. Additionally, the notion of wearing a cotton bandanna as a mask to “catch” these fraction-of-a-micron particles is like trying to catch a bird using the Grand Canyon as a net.

Prelude to secession? Eastern, Western states form coalitions to work out re-opening economy; Trump claims his authority is “total” | Added April 14

Here’s the version that appeared in our favorite newspaper, the Lincoln County News in western Oregon:

Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced an agreement on a shared vision for reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future.

Joint statement from the west coast Governors:

COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness. In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 – with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities.

We are announcing that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies – one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business.

While each state is building a state-specific plan, our states have agreed to the following principles as we build out a West Coast framework:

Our residents’ health comes first. As home to one in six Americans and gateway to the rest of the world, the West Coast has an outsized stake in controlling and ultimately defeating COVID-19.

The Colonies Reunite

On the East Coast, from The New York Times:

Governors of seven states in the Northeast — Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — have formed a coalition to fight the virus and to start early planning to reopen businesses. The governors of California, Oregon and Washington reached a similar pact.

Those moves apparently enraged Mr. Trump, who, in his extended diatribe, said it was up to him to decide when it would be safe to ease restrictions.

In response, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York questioned how Mr. Trump could claim the authority to open the economy when he had earlier said that he lacked the authority to close it down.

“When someone is president of the United States, the authority is total,” he tweeted in response on Monday evening.

In an interview with CNN, the governor added: “You don’t become king because of a national emergency.”

Conservatives have always been quick to hang their hats on the 10th Amendment, which leaves many rights “to the States, or to the People.” But I guess not now.

Social distancing and weird shopping rules | Added April 14

It’s a little like going shopping in New Jersey on Sunday.

Throughout the United States, big box stores such as Target, Costco, and Walmart are being banned from selling items deemed “non-essential.” This piece from Markets Insider details how some local governments are taking steps to insure that items such as clothing and electronics are not sold at “big box” stores.

Such stores, which many people are now dependent on for groceries are “required by law in some parts of the US to remove any non-essential items from their stores or rope off areas of the store so that customers are unable to access these products.”

Vermont is one such state doing this. One reason this gained traction was that “Retail workers in the area…complained that customers were congregating in stores and browsing non-essential goods because they were ‘bored at home,’ thus filling up the aisles and putting these workers at greater risk.”

Another reason is that other businesses, that sell mostly “non-essential” items, complained that it was unfair that they had to close, while big box stores remained opened and continued to sell said “non-essential” items. The piece ends describing how some customers are content with the efforts, but that others have taken issue with the changes.

For example, as detailed in this Business Insider piece, Kerri Dennis, a Walmart customer shopping for groceries in Big Rapids, Michigan, attempted to buy an infant car seat for a pregnant friend due to give birth in May. “When Dennis stepped inside, she said, she found portions of the store — including the shelves stocked with baby gear — wrapped in yellow caution tape, with signs saying the store was prohibited by the state from selling ‘nonessential’ items.”

Despite the tape, Dennis attempted to buy the car seat but was told that it was illegal for her to leave the store with it because it came from a taped-off area. Dennis shared her story on Facebook, and Walmart’s corporate office attempted to clear up any confusion assured Michigan customers that they could purchase infant products from the store. Still, it’s a rather murky topic of which goods and businesses are “essential” and which are “non-essential.”

According to Business Insider, several lawsuits have been filed over the closure of businesses deemed non-essential including a number of gun stores, and “a small business in Pennsylvania that makes handbells for musician.”

An unusual tweet from the World Health Organization | Added April 13

On Jan. 13, well in to the novel coronavirus crisis in China, with much research having been done, and the genome already having been unraveled, WHO issued the following from its official Twitter account:

“Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China”

“Clear evidence” cannot be presumed to mean “anecdotal evidence,” of which there was plenty at the time; there was an epidemic in Wuhan.

We must presume this statement to mean scientific evidence based in data. And if that is true, then we might want to see what the follow up is, proving that 2019nCoV is indeed the vector.

Others have asserted that the virus, as identified, is not a proven vector of transmission. FDA and CDC in its own documents have admitted that it may not be a vector of transmission, or of evidence of disease. Dr. Tom Cowan has demanded data proving that it’s a known vector, which would partially validate the polymerase chain reaction test that is the exclusive test for the virus.

It’s time to start asking what the truth is, and what is in fact causing so much illness around the world, if not 2019-nCoV.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists addresses vaccine-created polio outbreak in Africa | Added April 13

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is published by an organziation insisting on ethics in the use of science. We are aware of this article they published in 2018, an interview with Christopher K. Brown, which confirms some of the statements of fact made in the letter below by RFK Jr. From the article:

Polio, once among the most dreaded diseases even in the richest countries, has seemed on the verge of eradication for years now—but only on the verge. In a small handful of nations, the virus is holding on stubbornly despite a major vaccination effort backed by the United Nations and philanthropists such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Perversely, a current polio outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is caused by the polio vaccine itself. What explains this seeming paradox? What are the implications for polio eradication? To gain some insight, the Bulletin posed a few questions via e-mail to Christopher K. Brown, a scientist with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Brown holds degrees in biodefense, biostatistics and epidemiology, and biology—and just weeks ago wrote about Ebola vaccine for the Bulletin. A lightly edited version of his answers to the Bulletin’s questions appears below.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: A current polio outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is caused not by a “wild” poliovirus but rather by a virus derived from oral polio vaccine. How does a vaccine end up causing the very illness it’s intended to prevent?

Christopher K. Brown: There are several different ways to make a vaccine, one of which involves weakening the pathogen that causes the disease so that, ideally, it triggers the vaccine recipient’s immune system to recognize and fight off the pathogen without actually causing a case of disease. Because weakened—or attenuated, as they are called—vaccines still include a live, virulent organism, they are in very rare instances linked to disease, whether in a single individual or as the culprit behind an outbreak. Scientists do not fully understand why the intentional infection that the oral poliovirus vaccine causes might lead to unintended disease in an extremely small number of vaccinated people, but it is likely that having a weakened immune system may contribute to someone experiencing paralysis after getting the attenuated vaccine.

The process by which an attenuated vaccine leads to a larger outbreak is more complicated. When someone gets the vaccine, the viruses it contains replicate in the small intestine. The weakened viruses can then spread from person to person. This can be a good thing in that it offers immunity to people who are exposed through this type of transmission even though they didn’t get the vaccine themselves—and thus it increases the proportion of the population that most likely will not get polio even if exposed to poliovirus (that is, it bolsters herd immunity).

But if a vaccine-derived strain of the virus continues to spread and replicate, mutations in its RNA (the genetic material that controls the virus) can over time allow it to revert to a form capable of causing disease, including paralysis, as we are seeing among children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If most of a population is not immune to the particular strain, then more people may start to develop disease as a result of the vaccine strain becoming virulent again.

Humans as experimental test subjects: RFK Jr. on Bill Gates, the Vaccinator | Added April 13

From his Instagram account


Vaccines, for Bill Gates, are a strategic philanthropy that feed his many vaccine-related businesses (including Microsoft’s ambition to control a global vac ID enterprise) and give him dictatorial control over global health policy—the spear tip of corporate neo-imperialism.

Gates’ obsession with vaccines seems fueled by a messianic conviction that he is ordained to save the world with technology and a god-like willingness to experiment with the lives of lesser humans.

Promising to eradicate Polio with $1.2 billion, Gates took control of India ‘s National Advisory Board (NAB) and mandated 50 polio vaccines (up from 5) to every child before age 5. Indian doctors blame the Gates campaign for a devastating vaccine-strain polio epidemic that paralyzed 496,000 children between 2000 and 2017. In 2017, the Indian Government dialed back Gates’ vaccine regimen and evicted Gates and his cronies from the NAB. Polio paralysis rates dropped precipitously.

In 2017, the World Health Organization reluctantly admitted that the global polio explosion is predominantly vaccine strain, meaning it is coming from Gates’ Vaccine Program. The most frightening epidemics in Congo, the Philippines, and Afghanistan are all linked to Gates’ vaccines. By 2018, ¾ of global polio cases were from Gates’ vaccines.

In 2014, the Gates Foundation funded tests of experimental HPV vaccines, developed by GSK and Merck, on 23,000 young girls in remote Indian provinces. Approximately 1,200 suffered severe side effects, including autoimmune and fertility disorders. Seven died. Indian government investigations charged that Gates funded researchers committed pervasive ethical violations: pressuring vulnerable village girls into the trial, bullying parents, forging consent forms, and refusing medical care to the injured girls. The case is now in the country’s Supreme Court.

In 2017, the World Health Organization reluctantly admitted that the global polio explosion is predominantly vaccine strain, meaning it is coming from Gates’ Vaccine Program. The most frightening epidemics in Congo, the Philippines, and Afghanistan are all linked to Gates’ vaccines. By 2018, ¾ of global polio cases were from Gates’ vaccines.

In 2010, the Gates Foundation funded a trial of a GSK’s experimental malaria vaccine, killing 151 African infants and causing serious adverse effects including paralysis, seizure, and febrile convulsions to 1,048 of the 5,049 children.

During Gates 2002 MenAfriVac Campaign in Sub-Saharan Africa, Gates operatives forcibly vaccinated thousands of African children against meningitis. Between 50-500 children developed paralysis. South African newspapers complained, “We are guinea pigs for drug makers”

Nelson Mandela’s former Senior Economist, Professor Patrick Bond, describes Gates’ philantropic practises as “ruthless” and “immoral.”

In 2010, Gates committed $10 billion to the WHO promising to reduce population, in part, through new vaccines. A month later Gates told a Ted Talk that new vaccines “could reduce population”. In 2014, Kenya’s Catholic Doctors Association accused the WHO of chemically sterilizing millions of unwilling Kenyan women with a phony “tetanus” vaccine campaign.

Independent labs found the sterility formula in every vaccine tested.

After denying the charges, WHO finally admitted it had been developing the sterility vaccines for over a decade.

Similar accusations came from Tanzania, Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines.

A 2017 study (Morgensen et.Al.2017) showed that WHO’s popular DTP is killing more African than the disease it pretends to prevent. Vaccinated girls suffered 10x the death rate of unvaccinated children.

Gates and the WHO refused to recall the lethal vaccine which WHO forces upon millions of African children annually.

In 2010, Gates committed $ 10 billion to the WHO promising to reduce population, in part, through new vaccines. A month later Gates told a Ted Talk that new vaccines “could reduce population”. In 2014, Kenya’s Catholic Doctors Association accused the WHO of chemically sterilizing millions of unwilling Kenyan women with a phony “tetanus” vaccine campaign.

Independent labs found the sterility formula in every vaccine tested.

Global public health advocates around the world accuse Gates of hijacking WHO’s agenda away from the projects that are proven to curb infectious diseases; clean water, hygiene, nutrition and economic development.

They say he has diverted agency resources to serve his personal fetish – that good health only comes in a syringe.

In addition to using his philanthropy to control WHO, UNICEF, GAVI and PATH, Gates funds private pharmaceutical companies that manufacture vaccines, and a massive network of pharmaceutical -industry front groups that broadcast deceptive propaganda, develop fraudulent studies, conduct surveillance and psychological operations against vaccine hesitancy and use Gates’ power and money to silence dissent and coerce compliance.

In this recent nonstop Pharmedia appearances, Gates appears gleeful that the Covid-19 crisis will give him the opportunity to force his third-world vaccine programs on American children.”

from The New York Times video

On the front lines in New York City | Added April 13

One of the most truly horrendous issues is that the patients are often alone and afraid, are surrounded by agony and attended by medical workers whose faces and eyes they cannot see. From The New York Times – video included.

This is not a time to die.

Terror, pain and loneliness mingle in the air with the coronavirus in the “hot zone” of the emergency department at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx. The room is jammed with patients whose frightened eyes peer above their oxygen masks as they struggle to breathe, feel that they are drowning, wonder if they will ever again see loved ones.

No family members are allowed here, yet the space is more than twice as crowded as normal. About 80 coronavirus patients, ranging in age from 31 to 97, are squeezed into the room, bed-to-bed, some near death. A group of newly arrived patients sit in chairs in a corner to await stretchers, and they look around in alarm. Doctors and nurses hurry about so sheathed in protective garb — some of it makeshift, such as welding helmets over ski goggles — that even co-workers cannot recognize them.

The truth is that the doctors too are frightened and exhausted, overwhelmed by death and their own helplessness. Dr. Nicole Del Valle, 29, told me that what shattered her was treating a 30-year-old woman with Covid-19 whose 23-year-old sister had just died of it; Dr. Del Valle called her own younger sister and ordered her not to leave her home.

Videos Worth Watching | Added April 11-12

This video by Dr. Thomas Cowan contains an analysis of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test (the exclusive one being used today to test for the novel coronavirus) — and an explanation of why this is not a valid measure of the virus. I have verified Cowan’s claim that the inventor of the PCR test, Kary Mullis, that his protocol for valid testing is not being followed in the current crisis. Mullis invented the PCR test in the midst of the HIV “pandemic” and is the recipient of the Nobel Prize.

You can learn about that in this 18-minute video interview with him. The protocol calls for three things: one is isolating the pathogen as a proven cause of the illness; then figuring out how many sick people have it; and then establishing some baseline levels on the validity of those stats. None of this has been done; there are no reference standards. But the PCR test is still being used as the sole basis for determining infection. Once you watch the Mullis interview, Cowan’s position will make much more sense.

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept interviews Edward Snowden and others | Added April 12

This video is worth watching — it’s an analysis of the question of civil liberties versus protecting health interests. Greenwald and Snowden are working from the premise that this is indeed a viral pandemic. They are not questioning whether the most important level of coverage — what scientists know and do not know — is accurate.

So in that sense they are accepting the consensus view, which actually serves the discussion well. In that context, they evaluate the problems with giving governments and massive corporations more power. It’s a little long, but once you get up to Ed Snowden’s portion you will be hooked.

Greenwald is articulate on the point that dissent is being pathologized, and that we have to create the space for a discussion about what government measures make sense. Snowden notes that we are being asked to give up everything, and that this could be a permanent situation.

Suspicion grows that virus emerged from Wuhan lab; U.S. grant funded research | Added April 12

NOTE: Once we had proof that the early cases of Covid-19 did not come from a bat at the Huanan fish and wildlife market, we were on notice that the official consensus version of events was not true. Said another way, once the official story is debunked, all bets are off — though the next step is a little more difficult: figuring out what really happened. Fish market fish tale is still being repeated by government officials even in the article below. But according to Britain’s own leading medical journal The Lancet, the first cases had no contact with anyone at the market; the market cluster was imported to the market, not from it.

This is from The Mail on Sunday.

The laboratory at the centre of scrutiny over the pandemic has been carrying out research on bats from the cave which scientists believe is the original source of the devastating outbreak.

Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday show the Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan – funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government.

Sequencing of the Covid-19 genome has traced it to bats found in Yunnan’s caves.

It comes after this newspaper revealed last week that Ministers here now fear that the pandemic could have been caused by a virus leaking from the institute.

Senior Government sources said that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ was still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, an accident at the laboratory in the Chinese city was ‘no longer being discounted’.

According to one unverified claim, scientists at the institute could have become infected after being sprayed with blood containing the virus, and then passed it on to the local community.

Now The Mail on Sunday has learned that scientists there experimented on bats as part of a project funded by the US National Institutes of Health, which continues to licence the Wuhan laboratory to receive American money for experiments.

Results of the research were published in November 2017 under the heading: ‘Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus.’

The exercise was summarised as: ‘Bats in a cave in Yunnan, China were captured and sampled for coronaviruses used for lab experiments.

New Planet Waves FM evaluates coverage of scientific facts related to Covid | Added April 12

In the new Planet Waves FM, I explore whether scientific issues are being reported correctly by cable networks and the major news websites. I also (somewhat late in the show) look into the astrology, and in Tantra Studio, discuss the impact of social isolation on relationships and our relationship to ourselves.

Bat virus? Bioweapon? What the science says about Covid-19 origins | Added April 12

I believe the most important issue in this crisis is the origins of the virus — the genesis point. Incredibly, this is not known, and instead, the myth that it started at the Huanan fish market in Wuhan has been accepted without much question. This is from the South China Morning Post:

As the Covid-19 pandemic has infected its way through human populations around the globe, it has been followed by a web of speculation about where the new coronavirus actually came from.

Some possibilities are scientific hypotheses based on genetic data while others borrow from dark conspiracy theories with little or no basis in fact.

Laboratory researchers have established solid genetic links between the new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, and one found in a horseshoe bat in southeastern China.

Further genetic detective work – and what is known about the evolution of past coronaviruses that have infected people – indicates the pathogen may have passed through another animal species first. There, scientists believe, it mutated or combined with another virus before finding its way into a human body, latching onto cells and spreading.

But science has not stopped other theories from percolating. One theory – debunked last month by a genetic analysis from a group of the world’s top epidemiologists – is that the virus was bioengineered in a laboratory in Wuhan, the pandemic’s first epicenter.

The latest theory, laid out in a recent article by The Washington Post, has another spin on this: the virus source could have been a researcher infected by a bat, or the sloppy disposal of hazardous materials at a Wuhan Centre for Disease Control facility near the wet market linked to many early cases in the outbreak.

Scientists are quick to acknowledge that when so little is known about the evolution of the new virus there are endless possibilities for its origins. But, they say, groundless speculation is no help, and point to the role played by probability in the emergence of new diseases. What we do know about the coronavirus family points to other, more likely, paths of transmission to humans. [Coutinued.]

Researchers said to warn that SARS-CoV-2 has HIV-like properties | Added April 12

Going back to the virus theory, here’s the second round of coverage I’ve seen about SARS-CoV-2 having HIV-like properties. But to be valid, one would need a lot more knowledge about HIV and moreover, HIV as the cause of AIDS. I have long wondered about these questions, and finally got some information in this 18-minute video interview with Kary Mullis, the inventor of one of the most important HIV tests. This is from the South China Morning Post:

The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 could kill the powerful immune cells that are supposed to kill the virus instead, scientists have warned.

The surprise discovery, made by a team of researchers from Shanghai and New York, coincided with frontline doctors’ observation that Covid-19 could attack the human immune system and cause damages similar to that found in HIV patients.

Lu Lu, from Fudan University in Shanghai, and Jang Shibo, from the New York Blood Centre, joined the living virus, which is officially known as SARS-CoV-2, on laboratory-grown T lymphocyte cell lines.

T lymphocytes, also known as T cells, play a central role in identifying and eliminating alien invaders in the body.

They do this by capturing a cell infected by a virus, bore a hole in its membrane and inject toxic chemicals into the cell. These chemicals then kill both the virus and infected cell and tear them to pieces.

Digital surveillance threatens privacy | Added April 12

Here is an analysis of balancing the use of digital technology to stop the pandemic, versus threats to the most basic civil rights. From The Conversation:

Israel’s top spy agency has been using secretly collected cellphone data to retrace the movements of those who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Polish government launched the “Home Quarantine” app so that people in quarantine can upload geo-located photos proving they’re at home.

The South Korean government is using a combination of mobile phone data, credit card information and facial recognition software to track the movements of people who test positive for Covid-19. The government posts the details publicly to alert people who might have come in contact with the infected person.

Public health benefits? Certainly. Privacy risks? Certainly as well.

As a technology, law and security scholar at American University Washington College of Law, I study questions of privacy and surveillance. The pandemic is confronting Americans with important questions about how much and what kinds of surveillance and tracking to accept in support of better health, as well as a revitalized economy.

Deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus are projected to reach six digits, which adds urgency to decisions that have long-term consequences. Should location data be used to identify and warn those who have been exposed to the virus? Data be used to enforce quarantines? Can digital information be used to serve compelling health needs without boosting the reach of the surveillance state?

Already, cellphones, apps and digitally connected devices provide a range of data that can be used to track movements and associations with varying degrees of specificity. Though some of this digital surveillance requires users to opt-in to data collection, a lot is already in the hands of companies that are now using it to predict trends.

A smart thermometer company, for example, is using real-time temperature data to forecast the next COVID-19 hot spots, something it’s done successfully to predict the seasonal flu. Google has been compiling data from Google Maps to chart shifts in people’s movement over time. The company is repurposing data used to predict traffic flows to help officials determine how well the population is engaging in social distancing. Both are examples of population-level analysis, using aggregated data to assess trends in ways that, if designed and implemented properly, can provide important health information while also protecting personal privacy.

Research from China indicates virus attacks hemoglobin, affecting oxygen transport | Added April 10

This research out of China seems to support the assertion of Cameron Kyle-Sidell, MD, the Brooklyn doctor who has asked whether we’re treating the wrong disease. He has said it’s more like altitude sickness.

From Thailand Medical News: Findings from a new study released by Chinese researchers , Dr Wenzhong Liu from Sichuan University and Dr Hualan Li from Yibin University has revealed that the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus attacks hemoglobin in the the red blood cells through a series of cellular actions, that ultimately renders the red blood cells incapable of transporting oxygen.

Though the virus is able to attack the ACE2 receptors in the lung tissues and cause damage and also while cytokine storms are creating more damage, it is most probability of the body’s inability get enough oxygen along with carbon dioxide build up that is creating the so called ARDS symptoms and stress and current protocols could be all wrong including the usage of ventilators in a non-proper manner way that could actually aggravate already ‘injured’ and inflamed lungs.

Red blood cells are critical oxygen carriers to the various cells in the body. Inside the red blood cells is a molecule called hemoglobin that contains heme groups. Each of these heme groups is molecular “ring” (porphyrin) that holds an Iron ion or FE ion. It is the FE ions that helps to transport oxygen in the bloodstream depending on states of oxidation.

Typically the red blood cells pick up oxygen from the lungs to transport to other parts of the bodies.

Once inside a human host cell, the virus’s RNA also codes for a number of non-structural proteins that are created during the replication process. These proteins are not part of the virus itself but helps the virus to ‘hijack” other cellular pathways or actions to facilate its survival in the host.

UK’s coronavirus epidemic may have seeded from outside China, new study suggests. Cambridge University researchers have found a variant of the virus that initially infected Britain was not found in mainland China | Added April 10

We are tracking carefully all articles that cover the “different strains” and “did not start at the Huanan wet market.” Note, The Telegraph is still publishing the debunked “came from a bat in China” theory of the origins of the virus. It may have, though this is not sufficiently established to state as a fact. It did NOT come from the Huanan fish market; people outside the market had it first. In any event, this report is interesting. The Telegraph published today:

Britain’s coronavirus epidemic may have been seeded from Singapore, South Korea or Hong Kong – rather than China – the first genetic analysis of virus evolution suggests.

Using ‘phylogenetic’ techniques that are usually reserved for tracing the origins of our early human ancestors, researchers at Cambridge University discovered that there have been three distinct variants of coronavirus since the disease emerged in Wuhan in December.

Dubbed A, B and C, the three types have followed different paths throughout the globe, possibly because they have mutated to be better at infecting specific populations

Variant ‘A’ is the ancestral strain and is most closely related to the coronavirus found in bats and pangolins. Scientists believe the disease jumped into humans from one of the creatures at Wuhan Market.

The second type ‘B’ – which is most common in mainland China – is derived from ‘A’, and separated by two mutations, while ‘C’ is in turn a ‘daughter’ of ‘B’.

But interestingly it is type ‘C’ that initially infected Britain and Europe and that variant is not found in mainland China at all.

In fact, it is most common in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea suggesting that it spread to Europe from those regions. One English case also came directly from Australia.

Geneticist Dr Peter Forster, the lead author from the University of Cambridge, said: “You have the ‘C’ type, which is not directly from China associated with Singapore and offshore East Asia and that’s where English cases come from. We know of an engineer visiting a Singapore conference and then returning via a chalet in The Alps, so that comes up in the network.

“We usually use this analysis in tracing prehistoric human migrations, to allow you to see when they left Africa and populated the rest of the world, but nobody had thought to use it with a virus.

“The viral network we have detailed is a snapshot of the early stages of an epidemic, before the evolutionary paths of Covid-19 become obscured by vast numbers of mutations. It’s like catching an incipient supernova in the act.”

The technique has confirmed the importance of known infection routes, such as businessman Steve Walsh – the 53-year-old Brighton super-spreader who travelled to Britain from Singapore via The Alps in early February.

Surprisingly, it appears that the countries who now seem to be doing the best at controlling the spread of the virus inside their own borders, are the ones from which the disease spread initially.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong are yet to have a localised pandemic and are hopeful one might not happen. They have achieved containment through rigorous testing, contact tracing and localised quarantines.

Likewise, despite recording more than 110,000 cases, Germany has seen just 2,349 deaths.

But the new study shows that Singapore and Germany may have sparked the devastating outbreak in Italy, which has since spread to Britain.

The analysis suggests that one of the earliest introductions of the virus into Italy came via the first documented German infection on January 27, and that another early Italian infection route was related to a “Singapore cluster”.

Cases in Mexico, also appear to have spread from Italy, and in turn from the first German cluster in Munich – known as the Webasto case – which until now was believed to have been contained by German quarantine measures.

After the first wave of infections from east Asia in Britain, a large number of new cases were imported by people who had been to ski resorts in Northern Italy during the half-term break. Northern Italy appears to have also been initially seeded by the German cluster.

In contrast to Europe, the initial US outbreaks were of the ancestral ‘A’ variant. Mutated versions of ‘A’ were seen in Americans reported to have lived in Wuhan, and a large number of A-type viruses were found in patients from the US and Australia.

The A strain is largely absent across the Atlantic.

The team used data from 160 virus genomes sampled from across the world between 24 December 2019 and 4 March 2020.

Further work that has not yet been peer-reviewed using the analysis, suggests that the first infection occurred in humans somewhere between mid-September and early December.

The research also shows that mutations in the virus appear to have sped up as it swept across the globe.

The major Wuhan ‘B’ strain has not mutated much, which could mean it is immunologically or environmentally adapted to a large section of the East Asian population.

In contrast, the other types appear to have speeded up the mutation rate, perhaps to adapt to changing populations.

“If the virus wishes to infect someone from the US or Europe, these people have a different immunological response so you have predominantly type A and the English C type, so these are potentially to evade the immune response,” he said.

“If you are in a very localised part of China then will meet with a homogeneous population who have come through a similar disease progression, but once you get outside then Europeans have gone through a different disease history and also possibly there is a more diverse genetically diverse population, so you get more mutations.”

The team is keen to find out if certain strains are more aggressive than others, which could explain why some countries have much lower death rates.

However researchers are struggling because countries like Spain and Germany have only sequenced a few dozen virus genomes and Italy fewer than 10.

Dr Forster added: At the moment there are no clinical outcomes associated with the genomic sequences so we don’t know if the mutations are making some variants more lethal.

“Phylogenetic network analysis has the potential to help identify undocumented COVID-19 infection sources, which can then be quarantined to contain further spread of the disease worldwide,” added Dr Forster.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

One issue that I missed: S and L strains, with differing syndromes, was reported in March | Added April 10

In March, the National Science Review published a manuscript describing two distinct strains of the novel coronavirus, with two different sets of symptoms. The older S strain is less aggressive and also less pervasive; the newer L strain is more aggressive and also more pervasive, according to the study. [The way it was described to me anecdotally is that the S strain is the one with the runny nose and scratchy throat. The L strain is the one with severe respiratory disease. We have previously reported a third syndrome — rapid, acute gastrointestinal disease, principally in Oregon, that is NOT covered in this discussion.]

Before I proceed, obviously this issue needs followup, and we are looking for what’s available. In a crisis like this, there are often issues that arise and then mysteriously disappear. Often those issues are never discussed in TV coverage, and only rarely in newspaper coverage. The fact that any angle such as this does not have traction does not indicate that it’s not valid; sometimes the most important issues vanish and are forgotten.

Note, I am aware of the European vs. Chinese strains of the virus issue that was reported by the New York Times this week. I don’t know if there’s a relationship between these issues. We also need to be asking about bacterial co-infection, which was an issue during the 1918 “Spanish Influenza” outbreak.

Here is the language from the synopsis of the scientific paper reporting S and L strains:

Population genetic analyses of 103 SARS-CoV-2 genomes indicated that these viruses evolved into two major types (designated L and S), that are well defined by two different SNPs that show nearly complete linkage across the viral strains sequenced to date. Although the L type (∼70%) is more prevalent than the S type (∼30%), the S type was found to be the ancestral version. Whereas the L type was more prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, the frequency of the L type decreased after early January 2020. Human intervention may have placed more severe selective pressure on the L type, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly. On the other hand, the S type, which is evolutionarily older and less aggressive, might have increased in relative frequency due to relatively weaker selective pressure.

Here is the writeup from Science Focus:

Scientists in China claim to have identified two main strains of the coronavirus that is circulating in humans, indicating that the virus is mutating.

Researchers at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institute Pasteur of Shanghai say the COVID-19 virus, which has since been renamed SARS-CoV2, has evolved into two major lineages, known as “L” and “S” types.

The newer and more aggressive L type strain accounted for about 70 per cent of the analysed cases, the researchers said, while the rest were linked to the older S type version.

The L type strain was found to be prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first detected late last year.

But its frequency decreased from early January, which the researchers attributed to human intervention.

The S type strain, meanwhile, is continuing to infect new patients, which experts believe could be because it is less severe, meaning people carry it for longer before going to the hospital, increasing the risk of it passing it on.

Writing in the journal National Science Review, the researchers said: “These findings strongly support an urgent need for further immediate, comprehensive studies that combine genomic data, epidemiological data, and chart records of the clinical symptoms of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Here is how New Scientist reported the development:

Two strains of the new coronavirus are spreading around the world, according to an analysis of 103 cases. But the World Health Organization insists that “there is no evidence that the virus has been changing”. So how many strains are there, and why does it matter?

Viruses are always mutating, especially RNA viruses like this one, coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. When a person is infected with the coronavirus, it replicates in their respiratory tract. Every time it does, around half a dozen genetic mutations occur, says Ian Jones at the University of Reading, UK.

When Xiaolu Tang at Peking University in Beijing and colleagues studied the viral genome taken from 103 cases, they found common mutations at two locations on the genome. The team identified two types of the virus based on differences in the genome at these two regions: 72 were considered to be the “L-type” and 29 were classed “S-type”.

A separate analysis by the team suggests that the L-type was derived from the older S-type. The first strain is likely to have emerged around the time the virus jumped from animals to humans. The second emerged soon after that, says the team. Both are involved in the current global outbreak. The fact that the L-type is more prevalent suggests that it is “more aggressive” than the S-type, the team say.

Study finds that only half of Seattle patients had fever on admission, and 58% were diabetic | Added April 10

From the New England Journal of Medicine: We identified 24 patients with confirmed Covid-19. The mean (±SD) age of the patients was 64±18 years, 63% were men, and symptoms began 7±4 days before admission. The most common symptoms were cough and shortness of breath; 50% of patients had fever on admission, and 58% had diabetes mellitus. All the patients were admitted for hypoxemic respiratory failure; 75% (18 patients) needed mechanical ventilation. Most of the patients (17) also had hypotension and needed vasopressors. No patient tested positive for influenza A, influenza B, or other respiratory viruses. Half the patients (12) died between ICU day 1 and day 18, including 4 patients who had a do-not-resuscitate order on admission. Of the 12 surviving patients, 5 were discharged home, 4 were discharged from the ICU but remained in the hospital, and 3 continued to receive mechanical ventilation in the ICU.

Moscow to require hall passes for travel | Added April 10

Our contacts in the region say this was not mentioned in the Moscow newspapers.

Washington Post is reporting: Moscow will require citizens to download mobile passes to leave their homes for certain reasons, with the city’s mayor announcing stricter coronavirus measures Friday.

The capital is in its second week of a stay-at-home order, and after Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the government would be holding off on asking Muscovites to download a mobile pass each time they go out, a surge in cases has necessitated them, he said in a video address. The rollout of the pass system will occur gradually starting Monday, he said.

“On the first stage, we will introduce it for travel to work,” Sobyanin said, “on the second stage, for trips made for any other purposes, and on the third stage, if needed, for movements inside a district.”

Muscovites can only leave their homes to walk the dog within 100 meters of their residence, to take out the trash, to visit the doctor or to shop at the nearest grocery store or pharmacy. Sobyanin also announced that all construction and repair work in Moscow will be suspended next week; the construction of health-care facilities and the metro system are exceptions.

Google, Apple will use phones to help people figure out if they came in contact with an ‘infected’ person | Added April 10

From the Washington Post: Apple and Google unveiled an ambitious effort Friday to help combat coronavirus, introducing new tools that could soon allow owners of smartphones to know if they have crossed paths with someone infected with the disease.

The changes the two companies announced targeting iPhone and Android devices could inject valuable new technological support into contact tracing, a strategy public-health officials say is essential to allowing people to return to work and normal life while containing the spread of the pandemic.

Apple and Google are hoping to harness Bluetooth, which is typically used to connect device-owners’ wireless speakers and keyboards. With the aid of the technology, public-health officials soon can deploy apps with the ability to sense other smartphones nearby. If a person learns they have coronavirus, they could indicate on their app they’ve been infected — and people whose smartphones have been in their vicinity would be notified, regardless of whether their devices run on Apple’s or Google software.

Data firm says it can predict where next Covid-19 outbreak will occur | Added April 9

We are very interested in the technical angle of this whole issue. This includes any sort of digital certification of “immunity,” AI modeling, use of devices to track social distancing, and so on — you get the idea. This article is about how an AI model supposedly predicted a spike in covid cases.

From, with others sources indicated:

An artificial intelligence created by New York-based risk detection firm Dataminr was able to predict where the next spike in coronavirus cases will be in the UK and US by analyzing social media posts, The Next Web reports.

According to the company’s website, “growth in clusters of eyewitness, on-the-ground, first-hand public social media posts on COVID-19” allowed their algorithm to detect “hotspots 7-15 days prior to exponential growth in COVID-19 official case count.”

These social media posts include “posts ranging from people indicating they tested positive, people indicating they are experiencing symptoms, people indicating they have been exposed but not tested, first-hand accounts of confirmed cases” and so on.

Dataminr also predicted future spikes in 14 different US states. Seven days later, all 14 states were hit hard by the coronavirus, TNW reports.

From USA Today: Oversight erased, Supreme Court hijacked: Trump turns the presidency into a dictatorship | Added April 9

This is from USA TODAY: When former Vice President Joe Biden entered the Democratic presidential race a year ago, he introduced the now familiar theme that the “soul of this nation” was at stake in the 2020 election. Judging by what we’ve seen from President Donald Trump over the past few days, Biden is right.

It began Friday night, when Trump informed Congress that he was firing Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general. This was nothing more than a vile act of political retribution that had been months in the making.

Atkinson fulfilled his legal responsibilities by informing Congress about a whistleblower complaint that exposed Trump’s impeachable crimes. What everyone else recognizes as following the letter of the law, the president views as cause for termination.

On Monday, Trump turned his attention to the inspector general who oversees the Department of Health and Human Services, who had just released a report revealing the extent to which hospitals were struggling to meet the health care demands associated with treating COVID-19 patients. The thorough review included interviews from 323 hospitals across 46 states and stood in stark contrast with the rhetoric coming from the president. Naturally, Trump labeled the report a “Fake Dossier” and suggested “politics” influenced it.

Editor’s Note: I love USA Today.

Some doctors moving away from ventilators for virus patients | Added April 9

We are tracking this issue closely. Here is a new article from the Univesity of Chicago about helmet-based ventilators being preferable to masks or intubation. Here is a hospital industry publication commenting on the issue. This coverage is from Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — As health officials around the world push to get more ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, some doctors are moving away from using the breathing machines when they can.

The reason: Some hospitals have reported unusually high death rates for coronavirus patients on ventilators, and some doctors worry that the machines could be harming certain patients.

The evolving treatments highlight the fact that doctors are still learning the best way to manage a virus that emerged only months ago. They are relying on anecdotal, real-time data amid a crush of patients and shortages of basic supplies.

Am I reading this correctly? NPR is reporting that the federal government will stop funding testing sites as pandemic peak nears | added April 9

From NPR: Some local officials are disappointed the federal government will end funding for coronavirus testing sites this Friday. In a few places those sites will close as a result. This as criticism continues that not enough testing is available.

In the Philadelphia suburbs, Montgomery County has a drive-through site that has tested 250 people a day since March 21.

“It has been a very successful site. We are hoping by the time it closes Friday afternoon that we will have tested a little over 5,000 individuals,” says Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, who chairs the commission in the county of more than 825,000 people.

Montgomery County has been hit hard by the pandemic. By Tuesday the county identified 1,294 positive cases and reported 32 COVID-19-related deaths.

U.S. intel agencies warned White House, Joint Chiefs, of possible cataclysmic event back in November | Added April 9

Evidence that the White House knew about a cataclysmic event developing in China continues to collect. ABC News is reporting:

As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population, according to four sources briefed on the secret reporting.

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia — forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.

“Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. “It was then briefed multiple times to” the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House. Wednesday night, the Pentagon issued a statement denying the “product/assessment” existed.

Gotta blame someone: Trump threatens to cut funding to World Health Organization | Added April 9

The WTO is funded at just over $2 billion. It is a public/private partnership, with about half of its money coming from governments, and the other half coming from non-governmental organizations — NGOs, meaning massive charities. The United States is the biggest funder, followed close second by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

From NBC News: The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is working on a possible plan to cut U.S. aid to the World Health Organization, administration officials said Wednesday, as President Donald Trump tries to deflect blame for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Administration officials said they also plan to look into the timeline of the WHO’s reaction to the coronavirus after it first appeared in China, as well as “links” to China. “What the WHO knew and how it reacted to that knowledge is relevant to the U.S. government’s response to the crisis,” a senior administration official said.

Trump’s focus on the WHO comes as he continues to face questions about his early statements playing down the virus and how unprepared his administration has been. The president’s embrace of a broadside against the WHO echoes similar criticism from hosts on Fox News Channel, including Tucker Carlson, and some Republican lawmakers.

Trump said Tuesday that he was putting U.S. aid to the WHO “on hold.”

“We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it,” he said, although he said later that his administration would review it. He also accused the WHO of being “China-centric” and slow to sound alarms about the coronavirus. “They could have called it months earlier,” the president said.

The director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, responded Wednesday by essentially accusing Trump of politicizing the virus.

From The New York Times: Replying to criticism from President Trump, the head of the World Health Organization made an impassioned plea for solidarity on Wednesday, warning that politicizing the coronavirus pandemic would result in “many more body bags.”

Mr. Trump unleashed a tirade against the organization on Tuesday, accusing it of acting too slowly to sound the alarm, and of treating the Chinese government too favorably. While the president, who threatened to withhold American funding for the W.H.O., spoke in unusually harsh terms, he was not alone in such criticism.

Asked about Mr. Trump’s comments on Wednesday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O. director-general, said, “We want to learn from our mistakes,” but added, “for now, the focus should be on fighting this virus.”

Apple, Google develop app to tell you if you’ve come in contact with with an ‘infected’ person | Added April 10

This goes under the general heading of “digital interventions,” which include using phones to enforce social isolation, digital immunity certificates, and others.

From the Washington Post: Apple and Google unveiled an ambitious effort Friday to help combat coronavirus, introducing new tools that could soon allow owners of smartphones to know if they have crossed paths with someone infected with the disease.

The changes the two companies announced targeting iPhone and Android devices could inject valuable new technological support into contact tracing, a strategy public-health officials say is essential to allowing people to return to work and normal life while containing the spread of the pandemic.

Apple and Google are hoping to harness Bluetooth, which is typically used to connect device-owners’ wireless speakers and keyboards. With the aid of the technology, public-health officials soon can deploy apps with the ability to sense other smartphones nearby.

If a person learns they have coronavirus, they could indicate on their app they’ve been infected — and people whose smartphones have been in their vicinity would be notified, regardless of whether their devices run on Apple’s or Google software.

Only half of hospital admitted cases had fever in Seattle, study says | Added April 10

This is filed under “potential evidence of different syndromes.” Also note that 58% of admitted cases were diabetic. From the New England Journal of Medicine:

We identified 24 patients with confirmed Covid-19. The mean (±SD) age of the patients was 64±18 years, 63% were men, and symptoms began 7±4 days before admission. The most common symptoms were cough and shortness of breath; 50% of patients had fever on admission, and 58% had diabetes mellitus. All the patients were admitted for hypoxemic respiratory failure; 75% (18 patients) needed mechanical ventilation. Most of the patients (17) also had hypotension and needed vasopressors. No patient tested positive for influenza A, influenza B, or other respiratory viruses. Half the patients (12) died between ICU day 1 and day 18, including 4 patients who had a do-not-resuscitate order on admission. Of the 12 surviving patients, 5 were discharged home, 4 were discharged from the ICU but remained in the hospital, and 3 continued to receive mechanical ventilation in the ICU.

Reports of sabotage to 5G towers in England | Added April 9

This one is interesting. For about two weeks, we’ve been hearing numerous reports of people sabotaging 5G towers in England. Apparently, word is getting out that there may be a connection between Covid-19 and the ramping up of millimeter wave technology.

Advances in other types of radar and microwaves have been associated with mass illness in the past, including during the 1918-1921 pandemic of Spanish Flu. But this is never an officially admitted or acknowledged cause of a problem. Communication technology is always presumed harmless, even if it’s a repurposed weapons system that will spew heat and radiation on every street in the world

Note that if you think that any of this is something other than one virus causing one disease, you can be called a “conspiracy theorist.” If you ask questions, you can be called a conspiracy theorist. We need to be asking questions, so I guess wear the title proudly. EMFs are considered “probable carcinogens.” That is a problem.

From IT News for Australian Business: A conspiracy theory that links 5G mobile telecommunications masts to the spread of the novel coronavirus is dangerous fake news and completely false, Britain said on Saturday after masts in several parts of the country were torched.

When asked by a reporter about the so called “theory” that 5G telecommunications masts could play a role in the spread of the disease, British Cabinet Officer Minister Michael Gove said: “That is just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.”

Mobile phone masts have in recent days been vandalised and telecoms staff abused in Birmingham in central England and Merseyside in northern England, damaging connectivity at a time when people are relying on it more than ever.

An arson attack at a tower in Birmingham owned by BT, Britain’s biggest telecoms company, caused significant damage. It provided 2G, 3G and 4G services to thousands of people, but did not have 5G capability, the company said.

Ventilators may be doing more harm than good | Added April 9

I’ve been waiting for this one. All over the world, there are demands and competition for ventilators. It’s every other word out of Gov. Cuomo’s mouth. However, I’ve read a diversity of articles that indicate there may be problems with using ventilators for Covid-19. The problem was raised recently by STAT News.

Getting hooked up seems to be the thing that happens right before patients die. For a greater understanding of how complex the use of a ventilator is, you can read this opinion piece in The New York Times. There is a lot about this syndrome that doctors do not understand, though it’s refreshing to see this:

From NBC News: As health officials around the world push to get more ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, some doctors are moving away from using the breathing machines when they can.

The reason: Some hospitals have reported unusually high death rates for coronavirus patients on ventilators, and some doctors worry that the machines could be harming certain patients.

The evolving treatments highlight the fact that doctors are still learning the best way to manage a virus that emerged only months ago. They are relying on anecdotal, real-time data amid a crush of patients and shortages of basic supplies.

Mechanical ventilators push oxygen into patients whose lungs are failing. Using the machines involves sedating a patient and sticking a tube into the throat. Deaths in such sick patients are common, no matter the reason they need the breathing help.

Generally speaking, 40% to 50% of patients with severe respiratory distress die while on ventilators, experts say. But 80% or more of coronavirus patients placed on the machines in New York City have died, state and city officials say.

Higher-than-normal death rates also have been reported elsewhere in the U.S., said Dr. Albert Rizzo, the American Lung Association’s chief medical officer.

Similar reports have emerged from China and the United Kingdom. One U.K. report put the figure at 66%. A very small study in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the disease first emerged, said 86% died.

The reason is not clear. It may have to do with what kind of shape the patients were in before they were infected. Or it could be related to how sick they had become by the time they were put on the machines, some experts said.

But some health professionals have wondered whether ventilators might actually make matters worse in certain patients, perhaps by igniting or worsening a harmful immune system reaction.

That’s speculation. But experts do say ventilators can be damaging to a patient over time, as high-pressure oxygen is forced into the tiny air sacs in a patient’s lungs.

Evening Roundup | Added April 8

WebMD has picked up the discussion of Cameron Kyle-Sidell, video of which we posted below. He is an ER and critical care doctor from Brooklyn who says that we’ve been treating the wrong illness.

From the article: One doctor treating COVID-19 patients in New York says it was like altitude sickness. It was “as if tens of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers are stuck on a plane at 30,000 feet and the cabin pressure is slowly being let out. These patients are slowly being starved of oxygen,” said Cameron Kyle-Sidell, MD, an emergency room and critical care doctor at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn who has been posting about his experience on social media.

“A whole bunch of these patients really have low oxygen, but their lungs don’t look all that bad,” says Todd Bull, MD, director for the Center of Lungs and Breathing at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora. Doctors in Italy have noticed the same thing. And in some cases, that might mean patients need to be treated a little differently to ensure the best outcome.

Bernie Drops Out of Race

Here is an analysis from The Intercept: With Sanders out of the race, the progressive organizing effort is shifting to pressure Biden to make particular policy commitments and, more importantly, to shift his personnel in a more liberal direction and away from corporate allies. In a letter, eight organizations led by young people — Justice Democrats, March for Our Lives Action Fund, Alliance for Youth Action, NextGen America, Student Action, Sunrise Movement, If Not Now, and United We Dream Action — called on Biden to work to rectify his debilitating lack of popularity among people under the age of 45. “While you are now the presumptive Democratic nominee, it is clear that you were unable to win the votes of the vast majority of voters under 45 years old during the primary,” the letter notes. The groups, in an accompanying statement, detailed the failure:

As documented in extensive polling and a number of primary contests, Biden struggles to garner the support of voters under 45 years old, while Bernie Sanders’ base is made primarily of voters under 45. On Super Tuesday, Biden won only 17 percent of voters under 45. Bernie Sanders won voters under 30 in Michigan and Missouri by 76 points and 57 points respectively, according to exit polls. Democratic voters under 45 tend to be more progressive than their older counterparts.

Fauci says US may ease ‘back to normal’ if efforts work

Reuters is reporting: U.S. health officials are planning ways for the country to return to normal activities if distancing and other steps to mitigate COVID-19 this month prove successful in curbing the outbreak, the top U.S. infectious disease official said on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has called for 30 days of measures, including staying at least six feet away from other people, that have upended American life as most people stay isolated at home, shuttering schools and closing businesses through at least the end of April, with some states continuing certain closures through May and June.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said such steps must continue but that there are hopeful signs they are working.

“If in fact we are successful, it makes sense to at least plan what a re-entry into normality would look like. That doesn’t mean we’re going to do it right now, but it means we need to be prepared to ease into that,” Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told Fox News in an interview.

Possibly Interesting: Brix Interview

A video interview with Dr. Deborah Brix. She says that over 90% of people are testing negative for the virus, but are told they may have Covid, or some other infectious disease– and should wear a mask at home, and self-quarantine at home — even if they test negative. They are concerned that negative may not mean negative, and that there may be some other infectious disease involved. Essentially they are lying to people.

Wisconsin holds election during pandemic | Added April 7

From tonight’s New York Times: Tuesday’s mess of an election in Wisconsin is the culmination of a decade of efforts by state Republicans to make voting harder, redraw legislative boundaries and dilute the power of voters in the state’s urban centers.

The Republican-dominated state legislature, which has held a majority since 2011, due in part to gerrymandered maps, refused to entertain the Democratic governor’s request to mail absentee ballots to all voters or move the primary. Then the State Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices, overturned the governor’s ruling to postpone the election until June.

Now Wisconsin is conducting an election that the state’s largest newspaper — which previously endorsed Republican leaders including former Gov. Scott Walker — called “the most undemocratic in the state’s history.”

Here’s a look at how it came to this point.

Why are Republicans fighting so hard to hold an election in the midst of a pandemic?

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders are on the ballot in Wisconsin, but the main event is the State Supreme Court race between the conservative incumbent justice, Daniel Kelly, and a liberal challenger, Jill Karofsky.

The winner will be in position to cast a deciding vote on a case before the court that seeks to purge more than 200,000 people from Wisconsin’s voter rolls — in a state where 2.6 million people voted in the last governor’s race. When the matter was first before the court in January, Mr. Kelly recused himself, citing his upcoming election. He indicated he would “rethink” his position following the April election, which comes with a 10-year term.

Trump upends virus relief funding oversight, removing key official | Added April 7

Associated Press is reporting: President Donald Trump is moving aggressively to challenge the authority and independence of agency watchdogs overseeing his administration, including removing the inspector general tasked with overseeing the $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package that passed Congress with bipartisan support.

In four days, Trump has fired one inspector general tied to his impeachment, castigated another he felt was overly critical of the coronavirus response and sidelined a third meant to safeguard against wasteful spending of the coronavirus funds.

The actions have sent shock waves across the close-knit network of watchdog officials in government, creating open conflict between a president reflexively resistant to outside criticism and an oversight community tasked with rooting out fraud, misconduct and abuse.

The most recent act threatens to upend scrutiny of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue effort now underway, setting the stage for a major clash between Trump, government watchdogs and Democrats who are demanding oversight of the vast funds being pumped into the American economy.

“We’re seeing since Friday a wrecking ball across the IG community,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group.

The latest broadside came Tuesday when the Defense Department revealed that Trump had removed acting inspector general Glenn Fine, an experienced official, from his role as head of a coronavirus spending oversight board. It was unclear who might replace Fine, who also lost his title as acting inspector general.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Fine’s abrupt removal “part of a disturbing pattern of retaliation by the president against independent overseers.” Trump, she said, is attempting to “disregard critical oversight provisions that hold the administration accountable to the law.”

Trump himself shed little light on the decision as he spoke to reporters Tuesday evening, saying he doesn’t know Fine, but had “heard the name.”

Morning Roundup: British PM Boris Johnson is in ICU; American official warned Trump of “worst case scenario” in January | Added April 7

In a sign of how serious this problem is, Boris Johnson, the rockstar prime minister of the UK, is in the intensive care united of St. Andrews Hospital. According to multiple news reports, his condition deteriorated rapidly on Monday.

It’s my understanding that Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, also tested positive and was successfully treated by a homeopath. However, this seems to be the topic of a factchecking debate.

In 2019, Charles became a patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy. Homeopathy is a form of medical science developed in the 18th century by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann specifically to address the toxicity of allopathic or “regular” medicine.

Trump has said many times that nobody could have predicted this, but someone close to him did: trade advisor Peter Navarro

A senior White House official warned the Trump administration in January that a pandemic would cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars.

The warning, in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.

“The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” Mr. Navarro’s memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”

Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States. He later went on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome.

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Eric Francis Coppolino has served as editor of Health Professions Report and New York Education Law Report. His coverage of mass poisoning incidents and legal issues related to PCBs and dioxins has been published by The New York Times, Sierra, The Village Voice, Woodstock Times, The Ecologist and The Las Vegas Sun.

Eric is also an internationally renowned astrologer whose horoscopes have appeared in newspapers, magazines and websites across North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Asia. Today he is the horoscope writer for The Mountain Astrologer, the editor of Planet Waves, and host of Planet Waves FM – Pacifica.

A few of my personal protocols | Added April 7

As you may know, I’m in the flow of a lot of information, both scientific and holistic, about the coronavirus issue. I’ve been reading and interviewing practitioners for months, to figure out the best protocol. I highly recommend staying in contact with herbalists, naturopaths and homeopaths in your area (or network to them outside your area) for coherent information. Make sure you ask questions and understand what you’re told.

I can’t share these practices as “recommendations” though here are a few of the things I’m doing, in the event that that the virus theory turns out to be true. Besides basic hygiene, and wearing a mask as a protest against Trump, who won’t wear one:

— I’ve been taking elderberry in some form twice daily (usually syrup or tincture). I agree with Susan Weed that this plant must call you. That can include getting some and keeping it in your kitchen; trying it and see how you agree with it; or some form of feeling a pull or friendly invitation. Elderberry called me. Someone told me about it and immediately its diva was living in my apartment.

— Next, I learned from an early coronavirus researcher that these viruses hate zinc. It kills them dead. So I have some zinc tincture that I gargle with, along with warm salt water, twice a day. Labcoat contingent says that the virus colonizes the throat before it gets to the lungs. Keep it out of the throat and you keep it out of the lungs. Get zinc tincture at any health food store or decent drug store. Lozenges also work; I prefer tincture plus warm salt water.

— Next, I have learned from studying the 5G/EMF side of the issue that part of the problem is the depletion of melatonin. That’s also true for people with lots of screen time. So I’m taking a high dose of melatonin (5mg) every night.

— Next, I use the homeopathic remedy Gelsemium 30 to treat anxiety related to this issue. I have also had good results treating others. This was the “Spanish Flu” remedy that saved many lives from 1918-1921. One can pick this up in many health food stores or a homeopathic lab like Hahnemann Labs in San Rafel or Helios in the UK (though there’s currently a run on it, I imagine Hahnemann is cranking it out; it’s not hard to make). Another place that may have it is Homeopathic Education Services. I’m not experiencing much anxiety but it’s happened a few times. Also useful for thinking “oh I feel like I’m getting this.” Homeopaths have also recommended Aconitum 200 and Bryonia Alba 30, in the event of the onset of symptoms.

I’ll be writing more about the homeopathic angle. When a health situation is weird, nondescript, murky and has a deceptive or elusive feeling, homeopathy is your friend.

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New from Jen Sorensen | Added April 7

By Jen Sorensen

Highly relevant comment from The Intercept | Added April 7

From our friends at The Intercept:

THE POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES of this moment are different than anything we have ever experienced. We possess a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the United States a more humane country. But if we fail to seize it, we will face mortal danger from the right.That’s not hyperbole. The anger of Americans, once they figure out what’s being done to them right now, is going to be volcanic. The fallout from 9/11 and the great recession of 2007-2010 will be imperceptible in comparison.

Not long from now, almost everyone will have a family member or friend who died of Covid-19, many of them suffocating in isolation wards with insufficient treatment, perhaps deprived of a ventilator that would have saved their lives. Huge swaths of the country are plummeting into desperate penury, even as they witness large corporations unlock the U.S. Treasury and help themselves to everything inside.

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JAMA study says SARS-CoV-2 spreads in warm, humid weather | Added April 7

Which we know because the virus is spreading in New Orleans, however, here is an article on the study from Medical and Life Sciences News. The study appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association; here is the original.

A new study explores the possibility that the novel coronavirus, which is ravaging the world, can spread in hot and humid conditions, dispelling the view held by some investigators that the virus is more easily transmissible in colder climates.

The study published in the JAMA Network Open examines the possibility that the virus could have been spread by one infected person to 8 other people and showed no signs of weakening in warm and humid conditions. All nine people having used or worked at the same indoor public bath center.

The novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 that causes the acute respiratory condition called COVID-19, emerged in China’s Wuhan city in Hubei province in December 2019. Since then, it has spread to 200 countries and territories all over the world, causing over [death and devastation, in original data slightly dated, meaning from last week].

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Trump and associates have financial interest in anti-malaria drug | Added April 7

Notice how Trump always has a “gut feeling” or “just knows” that hydroxychloroquine will work? Well, now we know what he means:

From the Daily Beast: President Donald Trump has a “small financial interest” in the drugmaker of an anti-malarial drug that he has been touting as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Over the past two weeks, Trump and his Fox News allies have aggressively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure despite top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci urging caution and noting that there was not enough evidence of the drug’s efficacy.

The Times reports that the president’s family trusts all have investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi, the manufacturer of Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. Associates of the president, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, have also run funds that hold investments in the pharmaceutical firm.

From The Times: Mr. Trump made clear on Sunday whose side he took in Mr. Navarro’s confrontation with Dr. Fauci. At his briefing after the meeting, he said it was wrong to wait for the kind of study Dr. Fauci wanted. “We don’t have time,” the president said. “We don’t have two hours because there are people dying right now.”

Some associates of Mr. Trump’s have financial interests in the issue. Sanofi’s largest shareholders include Fisher Asset Management, the mutual fund company run by Ken Fisher, a major donor to Republicans, including Mr. Trump. A spokesman for Mr. Fisher declined to comment.

Another investor in both Sanofi and Mylan, another pharmaceutical firm, is Invesco, the fund previously run by Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. Mr. Ross said in a statement Monday that he “was not aware that Invesco has any investments in companies producing” the drug, “nor do I have any involvement in the decision to explore this as a treatment.”

As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.

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Finnish study shows coronavirus aerosols remain airborne for minutes | Added April 7

We keep reading different estimates of how long SARS-CoV-2 lingers in the air. It’s been getting longer and longer. I thought the next article I read would say they float across the ocean and land on the designated person’s tongue. However, now a study from Finland says that it’s a few minutes. From the article:

Coronavirus droplets ejected when a person coughs, sneezes or even speaks can remain suspended in the air for minutes rather than immediately sinking to ground, according to new research data.

The finding comes from studies conducted by researchers from Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), the state-owned technical and innovation centre VTT and Helsinki University.

The organisations investigated how extremely small aerosol particles are released and travel on air currents when people cough, sneeze or even speak. The research teams included dozens of scientists from flow physicists to virologists, as well as experts in medical technology and infectious diseases.

The study modeled how novel coronavirus might spread using a trip to the supermarket as an example. For example if a person who has been infected with the virus sneezes between the aisles at the supermarket, they release a cloud of droplets that may also contain the virus. The model suggests that the cloud spreads some distance from the infected person.

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Courtesy Simon Ressner, via Propublica

Evening news roundup | Added April 6

We — all of us on the Planet Waves Eco List — are reviewing about 20 to 30 articles a day, not counting what people read and don’t post.

In addition to a wide general scan, we are tracking selected major issues, including the testing problem, the “it may not be a virus” (or just a virus) issue, and the well established “potentially escaped from the Wuhan Virology Institute theory” (see second story on feed). We we see just about everting else, too. Cindy, Victoria, Sam, Amy, Yuko, Lanvi, Carol, Peter and others are working from behind the scenes. We are the world’s only astrology team with more than a century of total experience covering chemicals, toxins, mass poisoning issues, FDA, CDC, EPA and other agencies. I wish we could do more.

Here is some of what we’ve seen today:

Coronavirus from the viewpoint of FDNY chief

From Proublica, a nonprofit investigating reporting organization that I love: “I was a fireman here 25 years ago and now have returned as chief towards the end of my career. I thought that surviving Sept. 11, 2001, would be the part of history I would tell grandchildren, but COVID has clearly surmounted even that disastrous and heartbreaking day. The department lost 343; at least 50 of them were people I knew, including my chief, Dennis Cross. He taught me how to fight fires, but also how to sail a boat, and after his death his widow gave me use of his 25-foot Catalina.”

States restrict abortion using virus as pretext

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that some states are moving to restrict abortion, using the virus as a pretext. Note, if you were impressed by how 9/11 was used as a pretext, you will be stunned by how coronavirus becomes the excuse for absolutely anything and everything. From the article:

Six Republican-led states are moving to dramatically curtail access to abortion amid the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a wave of lawsuits that could soon bring the dispute to the Supreme Court.

While several states and the federal government have discouraged nonessential medical procedures like cosmetic surgery and elective dental work during the national health crisis, six states — Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas — went a step further, prohibiting abortion, unless to protect the life or health of the woman.

The Republican governors say their orders are vital to preserving hospital capacity and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers treating COVID-19 cases.

But abortion rights supporters say the states are exploiting the crisis to block or delay access to abortions, perhaps until a pregnancy is so far along it will be harder or impossible to end. They say the orders violate Supreme Court rulings first spelled out in Roe vs. Wade that states cannot ban abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb, about 24 weeks.

This is already happening: data tracking using phones to monitor social distancing

This is charming: from the Daily Mail — a new use for metadata: The US government is talking to tech giants like Facebook and Google to see if users’ location data could help track and slow the spread of COVID-19. The data would be anonymous and could allow officials to see whether groups of people are keeping enough distance from each other.

Officials wants to see if private-sector companies could compile the data in a way that would allow them to map the spread of the deadly virus. Data collected on users’ locations would be used to track patterns and groups, rather than monitor any single individual, according to a report by the Washington Post.

And then there’s digital proof of immunity

On a similar tac, even more charming: “they” might make us carry “digital proof” of immunity. Oh, Bill Gates said so. For what it’s worth. From Off-Guardian:

In a recent candid interview, Bill Gates outlined that, despite the comparatively small threat of Coronavirus, he and his colleagues “don’t want a lot of recovered people” who have acquired natural immunity. They instead are hoping we become reliant on vaccines and anti-viral medication.

Shockingly, Gates also suggests people be made to have a digital ID showing their vaccination status, and that people without this “digital immunity proof” would not be allowed to travel. Such an approach would mean very big money for vaccine producers.

Penn study of anti-malaria drug (but see article above from April 7 about Trump financial interest in the product

Finally, Penn Medicine (University of Pennsylvania) is doing a trial of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug. From the article:

Penn Medicine is leading a new clinical trial evaluating hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug hyped as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus.

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine are enrolling patients into the study, which will examine the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine, which also can treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, is among various drugs that scientists say may prove effective at treating COVID-19. President Donald Trump particularly has pushed it, noting the federal government has stockpiled 29 million pills. But much remains unknown about its potential.

Initial research has produced mix results. In one study, the medication showed no significant benefit. In another, HCQ appeared to improve symptoms in COVID-19 patients, but the study’s small sample size and methodology have been criticized.

And thats what we’ve got for you for tonight. Stay safe. Stay sane. GET OUTSIDE FOR A MINUTE! Love from the Eco List.

PS — Cameo by Russian white supremacists

The Trump administration on Monday designated a Russian white supremacist group a “foreign terrorist organization” and hit its members with sanctions. This is from Associated Press:

The move against the Russian Imperial Movement is the first time the designation has been made for a white supremacist group and comes amid doubts the administration believes extremist organizations of that type merit such sanctions. It was not immediately clear what the practical impact will be as the group is relatively small and does not have major international reach.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales announced the step, which makes it illegal to provide the group or its identified members with any kind of “material support.” Those penalties can include asset freezes and travel bans and can apply to non-Americans.

“These designations are unprecedented,” Sales said. “This is the first time the United States has ever designated white supremacist terrorists, illustrating how seriously this administration takes the threat. We are taking actions no previous administration has taken to counter this threat.”

Trump and his administration have been criticized for not appearing to take the threat of white supremacism seriously, either overseas or domestically. Trump came under fire for not responding more forcefully to violence provoked by some neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 and has been called out for supporting European nationalist politicians

Monday’s designations will make it easier for national security prosecutors at the Justice Department to bring terrorism-related charges against anyone who supports or provides aid to people affiliated with the Russian group. It’s illegal to provide money, equipment or even less tangible aid, to people connected with the movement.

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Coronavirus escape from Wuhan Virology Institute theory gets new life | Added April 6

Hazard suits hang at the National Bio-safety Laboratory, Wuhan, the first lab on the Chinese mainland equipped for the highest level of biocontainment, BSL-4. Photo from the journal Nature.

When I interviewed wildlife pathologist Dr. Ward Stone [see fourth program down], he would not rule out that the novel coronavirus escaped from a lab — even if the chances were 99 to 1 against. Now the “lab escape” hypothesis has new life, as the Daily Mail has raised the question for a very wide audience.

We’ve been discussing it on these pages since we began publishing. The hypothesis is taken seriously because a Rutgers University professor named Richard Ebright has been warning of it for years, and it’s happened several times before.

Yes, the Wuhan Virology Institute Exists

What originally got my attention was The Wall Street Journal’s article acknowledging that there is indeed a Level 4 biohazard lab located right in Wuhan, where the first known or admitted outbreak occurred (that is linked somewhere; the article is not remarkable and considers lab-escape to be a conspiracy theory). Previously, the existence of the lab might have been considered sketchy, though that is unquestionably true: it’s there, it handles coronaviruses, and it appears to be the only facility of its kind in China.

It is also documented that the first case cannot be tracked back to the Huanan seafood market. Only the first cluster can, and the two are not related. This means that the official story has a logic problem. If it started in the market, it could not have started somewhere else. If it did not start in the market, it did start somewhere else. So we are now on alert to find out where that might be.

Recently, The Washington Post has confirmed that the Huanan seafood market story does not hold up to scrutiny, citing The Lancet (the leading British medical journal).

Then I read an article in the journal Nature which quotes the bat virus expert at the Wuhan Virology Institute as questioning whether the virus came from her own lab. The scientist, Shi Zhengli, assures the public that that the virus did not leak from her Wuhan lab, saying that its spread was “nature punishing the human race for keeping uncivilized living habits.” Perhaps.

This Has Happened Before

Yet the Nature article also acknowledges previous problems with the SARS virus. To quote (in italics):

But worries surround the Chinese lab, too. The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, notes Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Tim Trevan, founder of CHROME Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting in Damascus, Maryland, says that an open culture is important to keeping BSL-4 labs safe, and he questions how easy this will be in China, where society emphasizes hierarchy. “Diversity of viewpoint, flat structures where everyone feels free to speak up and openness of information are important,” he says.

Ebright takes issue with Zhengli’s denial. “A denial is not a refutation,” Ebright told the Tennessee Star. “Especially not a denial based on ‘nature punishing the human race for keeping uncivilized living habits’.”

So it’s not like this has not happened before — in China, and you can be sure, elsewhere. Today I learned that there is also a public health lab in Wuhan that does experiments with coronaviruses — a second lab where this could have escaped from.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Then we found an article by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the people who keep the Doomsday Clock (the one that tells us how close the world is to nuclear annihilation).

This article also quotes Ebright. Here is a big swath (I am leaving out quote marks to avoid the quote within a quote issue that will take a lot of editing to fix): QUOTE:

Professor Richard Ebright of Rutgers University’s Waksman Institute of Microbiology, a biosecurity expert who has been speaking out on lab safety since the early 2000s, does agree with the Nature Medicine authors’ argument that the new coronavirus wasn’t purposefully manipulated by humans, calling their arguments on this score strong. Ebright helped The Washington Post debunk a claim that the COVID-19 outbreak can somehow be tied to bioweapons activity, a conspiracy theory that’s been promoted or endorsed by the likes of US Sen. Tom Cotton, Iran’s supreme leader, and others.

But Ebright thinks that it is possible the COVID-19 pandemic started as an accidental release from a laboratory such as one of the two in Wuhan that are known to have been studying bat coronaviruses.

Except for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, two deadly viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past, coronaviruses have been studied at laboratories that are labelled as operating at a moderate biosafety level known as BSL-2, Ebright says. And, he says, bat coronaviruses have been studied at such labs in and around Wuhan, China, where the new coronavirus first emerged. “As a result,” Ebright says, “bat coronaviruses at Wuhan [Center for Disease Control] and Wuhan Institute of Virology routinely were collected and studied at BSL-2, which provides only minimal protections against infection of lab workers.”

Higher Safety Labs Would Be Appropriate

Higher safety-level labs would be appropriate for a virus with the characteristics of the new coronavirus causing the current pandemic. “Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection at BSL-2 with a virus having the transmission characteristics of the outbreak virus would pose substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker, the public,” Ebright says.

Ebright points out that scientists in Wuhan have collected and publicized a bat coronavirus called RaTG13, one that is 96 percent genetically similar to SARS-CoV-2. The Nature Medicine authors are arguing “against the hypothesis that the published, lab-collected, lab-stored bat coronavirus RaTG13 could be a proximal progenitor of the outbreak virus.” But, Ebright says, the authors relied on assumptions about when the viral ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 jumped to humans; how fast it evolved before that; how fast it evolved as it adapted to humans; and the possibility that that the virus may have mutated in cell cultures or experimental animals inside a lab.

The Nature Medicine authors “leave us where we were before: with a basis to rule out [a coronavirus that is] a lab construct, but no basis to rule out a lab accident,” Ebright says.


I am concerned that this substance that’s running around — if indeed it is — seems to have a superbug quality. While “coming from a lab” does not necessarily mean bioengineered, that possibility has not been not ruled out. Sharing 96% of the genome is quite small. Humans share 99% of the genome of bonobo apes, and we are rather different (though I reckon we would benefit from being more like them).

This blog is paid for by the Planet Waves Core Community

Eric Francis Coppolino has served as editor of Health Professions Report and New York Education Law Report. His coverage of mass poisoning incidents and legal issues related to PCBs and dioxins has been published by The New York Times, Sierra, The Village Voice, Woodstock Times, The Ecologist and The Las Vegas Sun.

Eric is also an internationally renowned astrologer whose horoscopes have appeared in newspapers, magazines and websites across North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Asia. Today he is the horoscope writer for The Mountain Astrologer, the editor of Planet Waves, and host of Planet Waves FM – Pacifica.

Pastor who defied social distancing (and claimed to have an anti-coronavirus machine) has been dropped by his insurance carrier | Added April 5

Friendly Atheist is reporting: Nothing and no one could make Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne listen to reason.

Louisiana officials pleaded with him to close his church, and he ignored them. News outlets and social media users held him up as a prime example of religious irresponsibility, and he shrugged.

The sheriff’s office threatened his arrest, then made good on that warning, and still Browne vowed that he’d keep gathering the flock at his Tampa Bay temple.

But suddenly the pigheaded pastor has had a change of heart. Alerted to news reports of his dangerous and possibly costly intransigence, the church’s insurance company canceled his policy. And Browne finally bowed his head and announced that he would close the place down for now (it’s all the result of relentless “religious persecution” and “government tyranny,” he continues to sputter).

He may be a jerk, but let’s check back with his constitutional theories in three months and see where we’re at.

New York’s numbers may be leveling off | Added April 5

New York City is now Ground Zero in the coronavirus scenario. Today, the Daily News is reporting: Nearly 600 additional people in New York state died of coronavirus Saturday, bringing the grim toll to 4,159 but suggesting the toll could be around the “apex” of the outbreak, Gov. Cuomo said.

“We could be either very near the apex or the apex could be a plateau and we could be on that plateau right now,” he told reporters Sunday in Albany. “We won’t know until you see the next few days. Does it go up, does it go down?”

Italy’s numbers may be leveling off as well. In any healing situation, “not worse” is a form of better. Better is also a form of better.

We are tracking articles on respiratory issues | Added April 5

This segment will be a work in development. Articles on respiratory-related issues are flying on the Eco list. Please see the video by the ER doctor, tagged as urgent.

This article appreciates clinical data published on COVID-19 in the context of another respiratory illness – high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Both conditions have significant similarities that portend pathophysiologic trajectories. Following this potential treatment options emerge.

According to this article on Chinese medicine: Absence of Phlegm (wutan) or Low Phlegm Production (shaotan): Typical symptomology includes either a dry cough or no cough. Because on one hand the normal way of phlegm expulsion by coughing is missing and on the other turbid damp pathogens are obstructing the middle burner, the resultant blockage of normal transformative pathways causes turbid phlegm to congeal into a rubbery and glue-like material that severely interferes with proper airway function and has no way out. This is the most important reason for the lingering “stalemate” quality of the disease, as well as the tendency to take a sudden turn for the worse.

This article focuses on gastrointestinal symptoms. We’ve heard quite a bit about the “mystery Oregon disease” from last fall with severe G-I issues; some of it reported below.

In my opinion, there continues to be a legitimate debate over whether SARS-CoV-2 is in fact a disease vector. The presenter discusses why a virus is not a vector — it’s a byproduct of another biological function. This is similar but more scientifically grounded than the presentation by Dr. Thomas Cowan that has been making the rounds. The issue of viral RNA potentially not being a vector or even a sign of infection is admitted in FDA and CDC documents, linked below. I think we might all agree that this is a question.

The other side of this debate involves whether what we’re calling SARS-CoV-2 is a weaponized virus. It has some very strange properties that are not garden variety. Pay no mind to the people screaming that it’s not, and cannot be. That is false certainty. They do not know. It might be, it night not be. Viruses are messed with all the time here in the age of Big Science. There is a coronavirus lab in Wuhan. That is ridiculous.

One of our correspondents, an ER nurse in New York, writes:

“I am seeing better outcomes with the patients that are being proned [placed in prone position, searchable issue] on the vents. The mortality rate with comorbidities is high [everyone is saying this], and intubation is definitely risky as we know some of these people will not make it.

“One of the most common symptoms that I am seeing with people on the sicker end of the spectrum is hypoxia with oxygen saturation’s much lower then where they should be.

“We are also limited with certain treatments like BIPAPS and nebulizers witch most often work well for people with underlying respiratory diseases, we can’t use albuterol treatments….. because aerosol….

“We are treating a lot of these patients as we would for ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) sans the aerosols due to the risk of aerosolizing the virus.”

Aircraft carrier captain tests positive; Trump pushed for his dismissal above objections | Added April 5

From the Daily Mail: Captain Brett Crozier, the officer who was relieved of command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after a letter warning of a coronavirus outbreak on board the ship leaked to the press, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier who remain close to the family revealed the diagnosis to The New York Times on Sunday. The classmates told the Times that Crozier began to show symptoms of the disease before he was dismissed by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Thursday.

Are viruses alive? Not like your pet iguana

From Scientific American

From Livescience

From Microbiology Society

From Khan Academy

From Woodward and Bernstein

Eric Francis Coppolino has served as editor of Health Professions Report and New York Education Law Report. His coverage of mass poisoning incidents and legal issues related to PCBs and dioxins has been published by The New York Times, Sierra, The Village Voice, Woodstock Times, The Ecologist and The Las Vegas Sun.

Eric is also an internationally renowned astrologer whose horoscopes have appeared in newspapers, magazines and websites across North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Asia. Today he is the horoscope writer for The Mountain Astrologer, the editor of Planet Waves, and host of Planet Waves FM – Pacifica.

I consider this of top-level importance | Added April 4

Check out this video. (I don’t know how to frame it). I’ve been reading stuff that supports this for weeks. It comports with the issue of the virus potentially not being a disease vector, as the FDA and CDC have admitted.

Actual scientific testing out of Iceland shows that half of all positive results are from asymptomatic people | Added April 4

We may have some real data to work with. Iceland has been testing a large proportion of its total population — about 5% — and has made a few discoveries. This is from CNN:

“The results of the additional tests performed by deCODE have given an indication that efforts to limit the spread of the virus have been effective so far,” the government wrote last week, adding “testing in the general population will continue to elicit a much clearer picture of the actual spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Iceland.”

Some of the revelations have been stark. Although fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive for the virus, the company’s founder Dr. Kári Stefánsson told CNN that around 50% of those who tested positive said they were asymptomatic, confirming multiple studies that show that asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, people have played an important role in spreading the virus.

“What it means in my mind, is that because we are screening the general population, we are catching people early in the infection before they start showing symptoms,” Stefánsson said.
“Keep in mind that the screening is now randomized, but voluntary so there is some bias in the data,” the Directorate of Health said in a statement, adding that a “randomized screening program has started and a blood serum screening for antibodies is planned.”

President Trump, reflected in a television camera, speaks with the coronavirus task force at a White House briefing on March 18. Photo by Jabin Botsford.

Washington Post compares coronavirus response debacle to unheeded 9/11 warnings | Added April 4

It did not have to happen this way. Though not perfectly prepared, the United States had more expertise, resources, plans and epidemiological experience than dozens of countries that ultimately fared far better in fending off the virus.

From the Article: By the time Donald Trump proclaimed himself a wartime president — and the coronavirus the enemy — the United States was already on course to see more of its people die than in the wars of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

The country has adopted an array of wartime measures never employed collectively in U.S. history — banning incoming travelers from two continents, bringing commerce to a near-halt, enlisting industry to make emergency medical gear, and confining 230 million Americans to their homes in a desperate bid to survive an attack by an unseen adversary.

Despite these and other extreme steps, the United States will likely go down as the country that was supposedly best prepared to fight a pandemic but ended up catastrophically overmatched by the novel coronavirus, sustaining heavier casualties than any other nation.

It did not have to happen this way. Though not perfectly prepared, the United States had more expertise, resources, plans and epidemiological experience than dozens of countries that ultimately fared far better in fending off the virus.

The failure has echoes of the period leading up to 9/11: Warnings were sounded, including at the highest levels of government, but the president was deaf to them until the enemy had already struck.

Morning roundup: wearing a face mask is no longer considered terrorism | Added April 4

Wasn’t it a few years ago that wearing a mask could get you accused of being a terrorist protestor? Well, now it’s been recommended by the government.

As a result, discussion of face masks is the trending topic on Medium. Wear them or not? What is the scientific truth? If I use a bra, should I wash it first? Will Cuomo send the National Guard for my bandannas and deliver them down to the city? And so on. According to the newspaper of record, the mask market is a total mess. We didn’t know there was one.

The Lips edition safety mask in production, by our textiles editor, Cheryl Corson. It features the kisser of Patricia Quinn (Magenta) and is of course from the opening sequence of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Anyway, CDC has recommended (not mandated) that everyone in the entire United States of America wear a mask when they go outside.

It’s made headlines in The New York Times like one of the big days of the impeachment, across six columns as they say. [See graphic below.] The header should really read, “Feds emphasize home-made masks, not laboratory testing.”

In response, Planet Waves has joined the war effort and has sparked up the “Lips” edition of the mask featuring those of Patricia Quinn (Magenta).

In other news, I learned watching TV today that the reason USNS Comfort has so few patients is that they have to prove they’re corona-negative before they are allowed aboard, and apparently, this is not so easy to establish (a topic I’ve been covering).

Pink is pissed off that celebrities can get tested but most regular folks cannot, and has pitched in $1m to the cause.

The Times is reporting that “tensions” exist between Trump and his medical advisors. Yes, if you consider a reality gap the size of that canyon on Mars to qualify as tension. Don’t miss the latest portrait of Trump by our official favorite photographer, Doug Mills (who is assigned to follow the president).

The Washington Post has a piece about scientists’ concern over the failure of federal response to the growing crisis way back in January.

New York City is a Shitshow Right Now

New York City reported its highest death toll from the virus today as Jupiter approached a conjunction to Pluto [see Daily Planets for details]. The current count is nearly 3,000, with 562 dying in the past 24 hours. During that time, 1,427 newly sickened patients poured into hospitals, according to Times.

A continued surge in confirmed cases across America pushed the Trump administration to recommend Americans wear face masks when in public to reduce transmission.

“It is hard to put fully into words what we are all grappling with as we navigate our way through this pandemic,” Vicki L. LoPachin, the chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, wrote in an email to the staff on Friday. “We are healing so many and comforting those we can’t save — one precious life at a time.”

Note, I’m writing this blog about two hours north of the city, in Kingston. This is a heartache for everyone and especially for those of us who grew up there, seeing New York City take the brunt of this crisis.

New York Times headline across six columns: wear a mask; you will no longer be charged with terrorism.

Half the world under stay home order | Added April 3

The New York Times reported today that half the world — about four billion people — is under a stay-at-home order. Today’s update includes an underutilized hospital ship in New York City, digital tracking strategies to do contact tracing, and political blame going around. Last night I posted an article to subscribers, called The Road Ahead, the Road Beyond. I look at the astrology of the situation, through the major turning point in late December. Here’s an interesting piece from the Times on profiteering and mayhem in the mask industry. Note, it seems like everyone but the Wall St. Journal has lifted their paywall.

Comfort resting comfortably at Pier 90; tests negative for coronavirus | Added April 3

The New York Times is reporting that USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, only has 20 patients after sitting at Pier 90 for a week, ready for action. I would call up my friend David, who works in this field, and ask him what he thinks, but I know what he’s going to say.

From the article:

Such were the expectations for the Navy hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort that when it chugged into New York Harbor this week, throngs of people, momentarily forgetting the strictures of social distancing, crammed together along Manhattan’s west side to catch a glimpse.

On Thursday, though, the huge white vessel, which officials had promised would bring succor to a city on the brink, sat mostly empty, infuriating executives at local hospitals. The ship’s 1,000 beds are largely unused, its 1,200-member crew mostly idle.

Only 20 patients had been transferred to the ship, officials said, even as New York hospitals struggled to find space for the thousands infected with the coronavirus. Another Navy hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Mercy, docked in Los Angeles, has had a total of 15 patients, officials said.

“If I’m blunt about it, it’s a joke,” said Michael Dowling, the head of Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system. “Everyone can say, ‘Thank you for putting up these wonderful places and opening up these cavernous halls.’ But we’re in a crisis here, we’re in a battlefield.”

U.S. and Europe turn to phone tracking strategies to keep us all safe | Added April 3

From The Wall Street Journal: welcome to the new ankle bracelet. Maybe this would have been a good idea in January. From the article —

Western governments aiming to relax restrictions on movement are turning to unprecedented surveillance to track people infected with the new coronavirus and identify those with whom they have been in contact.

Governments in China, Singapore, Israel and South Korea that are already using such data credit the practice with helping slow the spread of the virus. The U.S. and European nations, which have often been more protective of citizens’ data than those countries, are now looking at a similar approach, using apps and cellphone data.

“I think that everything is gravitating towards proximity tracking,” said Chris Boos, a member of Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing, a project that is working to create a shared system that could take uploads from apps in different countries. “If somebody gets sick, we know who could be infected, and instead of quarantining millions, we’re quarantining 10.”

This is where this is all going | Added April 3

It’s been three weeks since Trump declared a national emergency? I guess this was leap year where March had 3,491 days. From the Washington Post:

In the three weeks since declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, President Trump has delivered a dizzying array of rhetorical contortions, sowed confusion and repeatedly sought to cast blame on others.

History has never known a crisis response as strong as his own, Trump says — yet the self-described wartime president claims he is merely backup. He has faulted governors for acting too slowly and, as he did Thursday, has accused overwhelmed state and hospital officials of complaining too much and of hoarding supplies.

America is winning its war with the coronavirus, the president says — yet the death toll rises still, and in the best-case scenario more Americans will die than in the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

The economy is the strongest ever and will rebound in no time, he says — yet stock markets have cratered and in the past two weeks a record 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance.

Working from home and other conditions create internet security problems…who knew | Added April 2

From the South China Morning Post’s N.Y. bureau: Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the US at an especially vulnerable time during the war against the coronavirus outbreak.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the United States, another invisible enemy is threatening America’s data security.

From stealing data to disseminating misinformation, hackers are taking advantage of the US at an especially vulnerable time during the war against the deadly outbreak.

Millions of Americans have been ordered to work from home to contain the spread of the virus and thus an unprecedented amount of data is now being transmitted outside secure business networks, making it a treasure trove for hackers.These unsecured home portals also provide opportunities for hackers to spread misinformation.

Martha McSally calls on WHO director to resign over false China data | Added April 2

From Politico: Sen. Martha McSally is calling on the World Health Organization director general to step down over what she deems his assistance in covering up China’s underreporting of the coronavirus, part of an escalating series of GOP criticisms of the organization.

The Arizona Republican said on Fox Business on Thursday that Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should resign over the organization’s handling of the virus, which originated in China. While China has claimed it has essentially flattened new cases of the deadly virus now killing thousands of Americans, new reporting has questioned China’s rosy data.

The latest N-95 mask approved by the Trump administration

Trump may order Americans to wear masks | Added April 2

Editor’s Note: Sorry, this is NOT an April 2 April Fool’s joke.

From STAT News: The White House is expected to announce a new policy, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that would urge Americans to wear cloth masks in an effort to prevent coronavirus spread, according to a federal official familiar with the policy.

In a draft document obtained by STAT, the CDC recommended that the public use homemade face coverings when in public, reserving higher-grade protective equipment like N95 masks for hospitals and health care workers, who have faced severe shortages in personal protective equipment as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated through the United States.

Tien Vu and Dan Mancini, both 30, take part in a demonstration in Boyle Heights on Wednesday calling for rent forgiveness for the month of April because of the coronavirus pandemic. The couple, who live in Echo Park, work as independent contractors, Vu as a hairstylist and Mancini in the film industry. “We don’t work, we don’t get paid. We don’t have the benefits others have,” Mancini said. Vu said they have some savings to provide a cushion for a while, but “that goes quick.” “Especially when the future is unforeseeable,” Mancini added. Photo by Christina House / Los Angeles Times

Good morning world, it’s Thursday | April 2

Thank you for a day off from this oh-so-exciting madness. News that’s dominating the morning shows involves problems with federal supply lines getting equipment, masks, gloves and other PPE to the states. This is occurring during what is believed will be the apex of the crisis in the United States, where the death toll is expected to be the highest.

Montana’s governor described the problems in detail on CNN, saying he had received more supplies from North Dakota as he had from the federal government. Chuck Schumer described similar problems this morning on MSNBC.

After the federal government’s performance during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and every one since, nobody should be too surprised.

Social Security Recipients Will Get Checks

Important stimulus news from the Washington Post: The list of people who won’t get $1,200 stimulus checks is growing, though the Trump administration reversed itself and now says that Social Security recipients who don’t usually file taxes will still get checks. The Trump administration is now requiring additional steps for one group and others don’t qualify at all. I have read that people who have not filed recently will need to submit a short-form tax return for 2019 to be eligible.

Record 6.6 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Last Week

Some of the last openings for travel across borders are closing, as the number of reported cases of the new coronavirus world-wide approaches one million.

U.S. Considers Grounding Some Domestic Flights

From the Wall Street Journal: President Trump said Wednesday that he was considering grounding flights to and from U.S. cities that are virus hot spots. The U.S. has 216,722 reported cases of the coronavirus, which has spread with ferocious speed across the world, driven initially by global travel.

Also from Wa Po: More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic.

Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is.

This was all a simulation | April 1

The Trump administration issued a statement today thanking everyone for participating in REX20, also known as Readiness Exercise 2020, a worldwide pandemic simulation.

Some of the last openings for travel across borders are closing, as the number of reported cases of the new coronavirus world-wide approaches one million.

U.S. Considers Grounding Some Domestic Flights

From the Wall Street Journal: President Trump said Wednesday that he was considering grounding flights to and from U.S. cities that are virus hot spots. The U.S. has 216,722 reported cases of the coronavirus, which has spread with ferocious speed across the world, driven initially by global travel.

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