Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Donald Trump tries to erase his mishandling botched response to the coronavirus pandemic

Trump cannot be forgiven his belatedness....
How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence
By David Remnick published in the March 30, 2020, The New Yorker magazine.

Be sure to watch this YouTube report:

COVID-19 is unimpressed and unimpeded by the President’s bluster. And the prolonged process of his humbling has put untold numbers of Americans at risk.

Early last week (i.e., mid March 2020), the Trump era—which defined itself by a lurid celebration of “alternative facts,” a contempt for science, and an assault on global institutions and the “administrative state”—came to an end. Regrettably, Donald Trump remains in office, but, at least for the moment, he appears to have ceded the argument: he cannot bend the harshest realities of the world to his fantasies. The aggressive and deadly coronavirus is unimpressed and unimpeded by the bluster of a con. 

Yet the prolonged process of Trump’s humbling, the time it took him to recognize the power of the global pandemic that has emptied our streets, has put untold numbers of Americans at risk.

The disease now known as covid-19 was first identified three months ago, in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Much like sars, which flared eighteen years ago, the likeliest breeding ground for the new coronavirus was a live-animal market. Like sars, H.I.V., and Ebola, covid-19, scientists believe, is a zoonotic (i.e., how animals can sometimes carry deadly germs) disease, one that “jumps” from mammalian animal hosts to human beings.

In fact, the coronavirus that causes covid-19 soon made its way to nearly every corner and crevice of the planet.

For many weeks, Trumpzi resisted understanding the magnitude of the problems and the responsibilities of his office. In late January, he declared, “We have it totally under control. . . . It’s going to be just fine.” A month later, he told attendees at a White House celebration of Black History Month, “One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.” Was he doing a good job? He gave himself “a ten.” Those who raised concerns about the Administration’s cuts in emergency preparedness or the outrageous failure to supply testing kits were promulgating “a hoax.”

This blithe unconcern for the looming crisis was hardly limited to Trump. His satraps in the “alternative fact” industry took their cues from him to rest easy in a warm bubble bath of denialism. Rush Limbaugh, who received a Presidential Medal of Freedom at Trump’s latest State of the Union address, told his immense radio audience that the virus was “the common cold, folks.” And, by the way, “Keep in mind where the coronavirus came from. It came from a country that Bernie Sanders wants to turn the United States into a mirror image of: Communist China.” Mark Steyn, filling in for Limbaugh one day, said that a shelter-in-place order had been issued in the Bay Area because “it’s a big gay town, San Francisco, and they’re the ones with all the compromised immune systems.”

On “Fox & Friends,” Ainsley Earhardt dismissed any cautions against travel––“It’s actually the safest time to fly”––and her sidekick Pete Hegseth mentioned that he was starting to think that the Democrats were “rooting for the coronavirus to spread.” Over on Fox Business, Trish Regan accused the liberal media and Democrats of trying to manipulate the news of the coronavirus as “yet another attempt to impeach the President.”

Sean Hannity, who has the biggest ratings on cable news, invited Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most visible public-health official on the White House coronavirus task force, to appear on his show. But, in Hannity’s world, as in Trump’s, bloviation precedes fact. And so Hannity went first. “The standard flu every single year kills tens of thousands of Americans. Now, does truth matter? Does perspective matter?” Fauci, just as he does when standing beside the President, betrayed no sign of disdain, as he politely corrected the misinformation. “Sean, to make sure your viewers get an accurate idea about what goes on,” he said, covid-19 is “ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu.”

Fake news and conspiracy theories are opportunistic viruses, and for many weeks there was no end to their spread. Jerry Falwell, Jr., one of Trump’s leading evangelical supporters, repeated a theory suggested to him by a restaurant owner he knows: “You remember the North Korean leader promised ‘a Christmas present for America back in December’? Could it be they got together with China and this is that present?” Ron Paul, a former Republican Presidential candidate and a physician, wrote, “People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus ‘pandemic’ could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit––financially or politically––from the ensuing panic.”

During this dangerous period, a range of polls revealed that Republicans, in particular, trust Trump’s information on the virus more than that of the “lame-stream media.” A Marist College-NPR-PBS poll found that more than half of this group thought the risk was being “blown out of proportion.” The Trumpian efforts to downplay the threat to public health held fast among “the base.”

What finally shattered Trump’s serene confidence and the consensus of his followers? Fauci and other officials on the White House task force certainly began to cut through his dismissals in their briefing sessions. An analysis from epidemiologists at Imperial College London, forecasting as many as 2.2 million American fatalities and a health-care system under siege, reportedly helped advance the argument for strict social-distancing measures. And, because this is Trump World, the President listened attentively when he received a visit at Mar-a-Lago from Tucker Carlson, who broke ranks with his Fox News colleagues and urged serious action.

Trump cannot be forgiven for his preening and his belatedness. And yet this least trustworthy of Commanders-in-Chief is entrusted by the authority of his office to make a series of critical decisions. In order to “flatten the curve,” we have rightly set in motion a set of edicts that, while necessary to control the pandemic, will continue to batter the economy, create deep atomization, and cause all manner of suffering. The human need for solidarity is frustrated by the need for social distancing. An economy that seizes up entirely could, in theory, produce nearly as much suffering as the virus itself, particularly for the most vulnerable among us. A host of well-judged policy decisions must be made and executed effectively if the country is to be spared the worst. As recently as Friday, however, the President spent much of his briefing berating a reporter and further alarming the public. It is better to be lucky than good, the old saw has it. Trump is not good; we must hope that he will be lucky.

Right now, as we sit in our homes, washing our hands yet again, as we try to read the querulous expressions of our children, scientists and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop antiviral treatments and—what will be our most valuable weapon—a vaccine. But no such deliverance is likely to arrive in this calendar year. In the meantime, another form of protection has become more urgent than ever. Misinformation and cant, along with a kindred scorn for science and professional expertise: these things are pathogens, too. Counterfeit facts can polarize, alienate, disaffect, rouse misdirected rage, and foment social division. They have long come at a cost to our civility; at a time of pandemic, especially, they also come at a cost in human lives.

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Donald Trump's serial denialism finally comes full circle with coronavirus and "the jig is up"

Finally, the pernicious "denialism" that's endemic in the fraudulent Republican party and the Trumpzi administration has come full circle when they have been forced to accept the  medical science called "virology". In other words, coronavirus is not a hoax.

An article published in The Week March 20, 2020
Caronavirus cases and deaths spike across the U.S.
What happened?
Donald Trump appeared to undermine federal efforts to contain the new coronavirus when the pandemic began, insisting that the virus will "go away", even as cases of the respiratory illness skyrocketed across the U.S., spooking markets and sparking fears of a recession.

Then, health officials had reported more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus in 38 states and the District of Columbia and at least 30 deaths.

To stem the spread of the virus, known as Covid-19, universities across the country scrapped in person classes, major events such as the South by Southwest festival were canceled and companies began mandating that employees work from home. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the closure of schools and gathering places in New Rochelle, a New York City suburb, that has seen dozens of cases and he sent the National Guard to sanitize a 1 mile wide "containment zone".  The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 3,000 plus points in one day, the worst daily showing since the 2008 financial crisis. Globally, officials reported more than 125,000 cases and at least 4,500 deaths.

With multiple states declaring emergencies, the Trumpzi denier tweeted that 17,000 Americans die from the flu each year and "nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on".  Influenza* typically kills 0.1 percent of the people it infects every year, the World Health Organization estimates that the Covid-19 has a mortality rate of up to 3.4 percent.  Trump dismissed the WHO's fatality figures as "a false number", and during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he boasted about his "natural" scientific ability. He attributed this to his "super genious uncle" sho had one corked at MIT!  (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 
Moreover, the Trumpzi administration's top public health officials were grilled in Congress over the sluggish rollout of Covid-19 testing kits. Only about 4,300 people had been tested since the start of the outbreak. However, the South Koreans had been conducting up to 10,000 tests a day.  "There's not enough equipment," CDC (Center for Disease Control) Director Robert Redfield said about public labs' capabilities.  "There's not enough people."  

Brian Monahan, Congress' in house doctor told Capitol Hill staffers in a closed door meeting that 70 million to 130 million Americans will likely contract the virus. 

What the editorials said
Trumpzi's Pollyannaish predictions and outright falsehoods "will cost lives," said The Washington Post.  To boost the stock market and his re-election chances, Donald Trump is contradicting the advice offered by his own health-care experts. They urged people to practice social distancing, but he has told them to live life as usual.  In China, a viral catastrophe ensued when the authoritarian Community Party emphasized its image at the expense of the nation's health.  Now, we're seeing the same here in the U.S. 

"So far, in this crisis, Trumpzi himself has obviously failed to rise to the challenge of leadership," said National Review. He delayed making the virus a priority for as long as possible- "refusing briefings, downplaying the problem and wasting precious time".  He failed to empower subordinates and rather than trust the information they handed him, recycled favorable figures he eard on cable T.V.  This behavior is familiar, it's how Trumpzi has handled scandals and fiascoes for three failed years. But, those were largely self created crises. The coronavirus "demands a new level of seriousness from the inept tRump".  

What the Columnists said
Trump views the coronavirus case totals as if it were an approval polls, said Dan Diamond, in  He left some 2,500 passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship,"marooned off the coast of California, for days, even as "coronavirus infections rapidly multiplies". Why not evacuate and isolate the cruise goers?"  "I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault," the stupid Trumpzi explained to the media.  
Trumpzi- Stupid is as Stupid Does (#SIASD)

This disaster was fast turning into "Trump's Chernobyl," said Brian Klaas in The Washington Post.  Just like Soviet authorities in the wake of the 1986, nuclear plant explosion, the #SIASD Trumpzi was trying "to construct a reality that simply did not exist. Those lies will eventually kill people." 

MaineWriter- Unfortunately, 103 passengers on the cruise ship The Grand Princess tested positive for the coronavirus and at least two of them subsequently died from the infection (reported the The Mercury News).  

But, Michael Fumento reported in The New York Post that American had succumbed to "pure hysteria".  It's possible that the coronavirus will soon peak and start to die down, just as it has in China, where new cases have dropped from 4,000 a day to 200. And, the reported mortality rate of 3.4 percent is highly misleading, given that most infected people "have symptoms so mile, if any, that they don't seek medical attention and don't get counted in the caseload".  (Maine Writer - I wonder, where did Michael Fumento buy his zeroxed public health diploma?)

This kind of uninformed opining is "wanonly irresponsible", said Yascha Mounk, in The  We know this disease spreads like lightening. Italy had 6.2 identified cases on FEbruary 22, 888 cases by Feb. 29, and 4, 636, by March 6th.  The case rate here will soar in coming days and if even the mortality rate is only 1 percent, that will mean "the soronavirus is 10 times as deadly as the flu".

China finally arrested the virus", exponential spread by canceling all public gatherings, asking most citizens to self-quarantine, and sealing off the epicenter in Wuhan province. 

The U.S., must follow that example and "cancel everything".  It's the only way to stop this killer.  

Maine Writer note - Interesting to see that on March 28, 2020, since the number of coronavirus cases in the US are now exponentially accelerating, the trending hashtag on Twitter is #Trump_genocide.

Whats next?
American's health-care system could be in for "a reckoning", said Dan Goldberg and Rachel Roubein in  

In other words, "the jig is up".  

So far, there's no sign of hospitals "cracking under pressure," but, the industry has undergone "long term consolidation," and "years of cutbacks" as it emphasized short-patient stays in an effort to arrest runaway health-care spending. That's left the system vulnerable and means that administrators might have to ration equipment, like ventilators, acute care beds, protective equipment (PPE) and even oxygen as patients flood into emergency rooms. "There is still a chance that state and local efforts to contain the virus can succeed," said Ross Douthat, in The New York Times, but, if the current trajectory of infection rates holds, we will see "rising death rates and overwhelmed hospitals, shuttered schools and empty stadiums."

Combine the economic consequences of such a scenario, "with the optics of the Trumpzi's blundering response, and the coronavirus seems very likely to doom Trumpzi' re-election effort, no matter where he casts the blame.

*Maine Writer note- with Influenza, there is evidence of an acquired immunity to the virus because of many years of exposures and the help of preventive annual vaccines.  Moreover, Tamilfu is a drug now available to help treat influenza.  Yet, as of now, there is no proven coronavirus vaccine and no access to drugs to combat the virus.

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Capitalism on Hospice Care

Since this blog was posted and published on the History News Network, the U.S. Congress passed a progressive pandemic relief package.  Thank you to the Democrats in the Congress especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for creating a "workers first",  Protecting America's Workers Act. It's the pandemic relief 2 Trillion $$ Dollar relief package.  I'm wondering when the payment for this deal will come due; but my opinion is that the relief will be offset by a roll back of the "tax cuts for the rich" bill passed by greedy Republicans two years ago.  In fact, the caronavirus pandemic is proving to be the universal social and economic equalizer!

" quarantine, left to contemplate what our economy is and who it is for. For the moment, truck drivers and nurses are doing the essential work to keep us all alive..."

No event has so starkly revealed the brutal inequalities of contemporary capitalism as the coronavirus pandemic. The professional-managerial class gets to work-from-home and tweet busily about how tough it is to be under lockdown, at home with their kids – while still being paid. Meanwhile, low-wage workers either have to go to work and risk their lives, or lose their jobs and everything else too: their homes, their savings, their health insurance 
(if they even have any). 

 As CNBC’s Annie Nova pointed out in 2019, “40% of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 for an unexpected expense” – and are thus one lost paycheck or accident or illness away from complete destitution.

Here comes one big, big accident- the coronavirus!

It also feels like the end of an era. The belle epoqueof neoliberal capitalism may be sputtering out. Since the 1970s, liberalized trade and new technology made the world ever more interconnected; most of the former Communist world was swept into the global market system. Hundreds of millions in countries such as India and China rose out of dire poverty, even as deindustrialization, offshoring, and automation gutted the stability that the working class and middle class in North America and Western Europe had come to expect in the years after World War II.

Everything was faster, cheaper, more efficient, and more innovative, and anyone who complained about the new order needed to get back in line. “There is no alternative,” neoliberal icon Margaret Thatcher said in the 1980s. “The world is flat,” intoned the mustachioed tribune of elite conventional wisdom in the 2000s. (Curiously, the original cover of Thomas Friedman’s 2005 book shows old-fashioned ships sailing off a cliff – a more fitting metaphor than the author perhaps realized.)

The 2008 financial crisis was the first big shock to the system. The Great Recession showed how rapacious greed and a state too attenuated or unwilling to regulate it could cause the infrastructure of global capitalism to buckle and nearly collapse. The United States government rushed to shove hundreds of billions of dollars into its financial institutions and stave off a crisis of Great Depression scale – and American capitalism essentially returned to business as usual during the presidency of Barack Obama. His successor could crow about a go-go economy in early 2020, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its highest ever value (29,551.42) on February 12th. 

With a historically low unemployment rate, the sitting president seemed like a formidable incumbent in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.  But here is the "emporor has no cloths" moment - it's the canonavirus, stupid!

Few could have guessed that we would be discussing potential unemployment of 20% or more just a month later.

I sketch out this story to bring attention to the critical fact of economic inequality. Historians and social scientists have long recognized that the gap between the very affluent and everyone else has been growing since the 1970s, as forces such as deindustrialization, globalization, the decline of the labor movement and the deregulatory policies of the Reagan-Clinton era have led to dazzling gains at the top of the income spectrum, and stagnant wages for the middle class and working poor. All of this was cause for angst among critics on the Left, as figures ranging from writer Barbara Ehrenreich (in 2001’s Nickel and Dimed) to economist Thomas Piketty (in 2013’s fluke hit Capital in the Twenty-First Century) pointed out the dangers of an increasingly unequal capitalist economy.

Defenders of the status quo had their own arguments. It didn’t matter, they said, how the pie was divvied up as long as the pie kept getting bigger. Economic inequality, in this view, is only relative: it might bother me that Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon have vastly greater wealth than me, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing badly. And neoliberal capitalism seemed to keep growing that pie. The experts in Silicon Valley and Wall Street were smarter than us, and with their new apps and financial “products” they would make us all happier, healthier, and richer. (“Fitter, happier, more productive…”)

Trust the smart people. Their innovations will save us all.

Brain Magnet, is about how all this came to be – how Americans developed a vision of the world, beginning in the 1950s, that elevated a class of highly educated “knowledge workers” to preeminent status and held technological innovation as its highest value. Scientists and engineers, artists and experts – the group that urbanist Richard Florida would dub the “creative class” in his influential 2002 book – were the driving force of the new capitalism, particularly as the deindustrialization of the 1970s and 1980s gave way to an information economy. My book used North Carolina’s Research Triangle as a case study of how this view of the world evolved and came to dominate policy and public discourse in the late twentieth century, but it is the story of all our lives in the capitalism of recent decades.

But, the creative class is, by and large, at home under quarantine right now, and we are left to contemplate what our economy is and who it is for. For the moment, truck drivers and nurses are doing the essential work to keep us all alive. Science will, hopefully, lead to a cure or vaccine for the virus in due time, and we will again be grateful for technological innovation. But the crisis also shows that the neoliberal world of global free trade and fast capitalism is far more vulnerable than most of us realized.

And a political economy that only rewards, protects, and prioritizes the most educated knowledge workers, while leaving the working class behind to suffer and die, is not as sustainable as most elites were content to believe just a few weeks ago. When it comes to matters of equity, justice, and basic human decency, there is not “an app for that.”

Alex Sayf Cummings is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University, whose work deals with technology, law, public policy, and the political culture of the modern United States. 

Alex's writing has appeared in Salon, the Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, Al Jazeera, and Southern Cultures, among other publications, and the book Democracy of Sound was published by Oxford University Press in 2013 (paperback, 2017). 

*belle epoque- the period of settled and comfortable life preceding World War I.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Donald Trump fired the White House pandemic task force and now facing public health disaster

Opinion echo letter published in the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina

US needs a stronger public health system. Reinstate the pandemic task force: Let the caronavirus pandemic be a wake-up call.
The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for America. Lessons learned include the need for a stronger public health system to coordinate such events. A hodgepodge of private health and insurance companies cannot do this. We need to re-institute the pandemic task force that was recently dismantled.

Also, it is time we all agree to make sure everyone has affordable health care so as not to have untreated people spreading disease. Health professionals and scientists, not politicians, should be the ones disseminating health information. This pandemic can be a force to unify our country in addressing our health care issues.

Dr. Vince Keipper, Concord North Carolina

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Donald Trump's incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic

This echo opinion letter is published in the New Jersey newspaper The Trentonian 

Donald Trump's incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic is causing a worsening of the economy. His failed leadership is causing crises after crises in communities and individuals who are being affected in shocking ways. In fact, the second pandemic after the vector virus is the incompetence coming out of the mouth of Donald Trump. First Trump said the virus was a hoax, then he labeled the Governor of Washington State as a "snake" because he dared to challenge the Trumponian denial about the seriousness of the caronavirus.

Many Americans don't know the facts about the enormous threat of the dangerous caronavirus and how much worse Trump has made the pandemic through his bungled response.  Early in his administration, Trump literally shut down the office responsible for responding to pandemics, then falsely claimed that he did not know the office was eliminated.  If Trump had been prepared and taken swift action during the first crucial days this epedimic could have been contained. He was warned about threats of pandemics the day he was inaugurated , ingored this unfolding crises, failed to secure tests, and intentionally downplayed the level of infections.  

Apparently, he believed that this impending crisis would interfere with his re-election campaign.

Moreover, Donald Trump has defied the reality of virology by stating how warmer weather the higher temperatures will somehow make the coronavirus "disappear" "like a miracle". In fact, there were warnings for months that this was coming.  This is not the usual Trump circus of lies and insults.  This is a public health disaster in part created by Trump himself.  

From Ed Vreeswyk from Yardville, New Jersey 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Republicans must stop calling Social Security an entitlement because the beneficiaries pay for it!

An opinion echo published in the Odessa Texas newspaper "Odessa American".

MaineWriter - it baffles me to realize how Republican are able to get away with giving Social Security the label of being an "entitlement". Everybody who earns a paycheck is paying for Social Security and we beneficiaries have earned every cent of this retirement benefit.

Letter to the editor from Charles Cotten, Odessa, Texas
I am so tired of hearing news media and politicians referring to Social Security and Medicare as entitlements. They are not entitlements, they are earned benefits that we paid for and continue to pay for in the case of Medicare.

My family has paid for five generations into the system that the government mandated and made us an explicit promise that they would honor when we retired until death. That promise has been kept for my grandparents, parents and me so far, but I worry for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

It is not their fault or the fault of the people that our elected officials chose to corrupt the system for reasons other than what it was designed to do and used the money for other purposes and left us with worthless IOU’s that they are now having to borrow billions to cover and increase the national debt.

We need to wake up (!) and elect officials that are going to do what is best for the American people and not their particular party.

If the media and the politicians continue to refer to earned benefits as entitlements then, by God, I am entitled and so is every other working person who made this country what it is today!

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Coronavirus in the world - we are all in this together

March 24, 2020
Associated Press |
“Every day we have eight to 12 people who arrive. We don’t know what to do,” said Dr. Patrick Vogt, a general practitioner at the hospital in Mulhouse, France"

This article is an echo published in the Odessa American, a Texas newspaper. This article is a vivid example about how "we are all in this together". Coronavirus is indiscriminate about its victims.....

A victim of the Covid-19 virus is evacuated from the Mulhouse civil hospital, eastern France, Monday March 23, 2020. The Grand Est region is now the epicenter of the outbreak in France, which has buried the third most virus victims in Europe, after Italy and Spain. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. Photo credit Jean-Francois Badias
Solidarity: Foreign hospitals help French virus hotspot cope

Today’s scenes in and around Mulhouse are sadly reminiscent of the bloodiest moments in the border region’s turbulent history. It was the stomping ground for armies in the 19th-century Franco-Prussian war and a site of intense battles during the 20th century’s two world wars
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The eastern French border city of Mulhouse was fought over by France and Germany across two centuries, but the horrors of the new coronavirus cluster tearing through this community of 110,000 is inspiring unusual solidarity.

While many countries have shut their borders to stem the march of the pandemic — even some nations within the borderless European Union are instituting ID checks — three German states have opened their hospitals to patients from eastern France. 

Hospitals in bordering Switzerland have done the same.

The Grand Est region is now the epicenter of the outbreak in France, which has buried the third most virus victims in Europe, after Italy and Spain. The crisis there can be traced largely to a dayslong evangelical church gathering in Mulhouse attended by hundreds of people at the end of February.

In a sign of the devastating toll, the local newspaper in Mulhouse has had to add extra obituary pages as the deaths from the coronavirus increase — as has been done in some areas of Italy. In France, only the area around Paris had confirmed more cases than Grand Est as of Sunday, but the capital region has a population more than twice the size.

“Every day we have eight to 12 people who arrive. We don’t know what to do,” said Dr. Patrick Vogt, a general practitioner at the hospital in Mulhouse who recalled a shift just two weeks ago answering the city’s emergency hotline when call after call came in for respiratory problems.

In Germany, the states of Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg have offered spare hospitals beds to treat French patients.

The spokesman of Baden-Wuerttemberg state's health ministry said the state would "naturally try to help our French neighbors," and authorities have asked all hospitals with free capacity to take in French patients requiring ventilators.

While Germany has many more confirmed virus cases than France, it has a much smaller number of deaths: 123, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, compared to France's 1,100.

Today’s scenes in and around Mulhouse are sadly reminiscent of the bloodiest moments in the border region’s turbulent history. It was the stomping ground for armies in the 19th-century Franco-Prussian war and a site of intense battles during the 20th century’s two world wars, which included bitter territorial disputes over the Alsace region, now part of what's called the Grand Est. The city was the site of France's World War I opening attack against Germany in 1914's Battle of Mulhouse, while bloody battles and burning villages tore it apart again during World War II as German and U.S. forces fought each other.

The countries are again fighting an enemy, the new coronavirus — but this time together. Regional health officials say that Grand Est is approximately one week ahead of the rest of France in terms of infection rates. As of Monday, according to French government data, the region had recorded over 4,900 cases in an area with around 5.5 million people. In contrast, the area around France's capital of Paris, home to more than 12 million, had nearly 6,800 confirmed virus infections.

The analysis serves as a warning for France, where the population of 67 million people already is locked down, that the worst could be yet to come.

In addition to the help offered from abroad, Mulhouse has drawn the focus of French President Emmanuel Macron, who ordered a field hospital built to help tend to the sick.

Dozens of soldiers put up the temporary medical facility, which has equipment designed to make surgery possible in combat zones retrofitted to treat people with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Authorities readied the five tents, each with six beds, to start taking patients this week. About 100 military health personnel — anesthetists, nurses and nursing assistants — were assigned to operate the field hospital.

In an unprecedented move during peacetime, the French army has also started evacuating critical coronavirus patients from the country's east.

On Tuesday, France's defense minister announced another military airlift of patients hospitalized in Mulhouse. The first of several took place last week.

“The epidemic is in full swing. The virus continues to spread. The patients keeping coming in serious condition,” said Vogt, the doctor in Mulhouse. “So far, there are no signs of hope.”

Adamson reported from Leeds, England. Associated Press writers Sylvie Corbet and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

No medical plan response- physicians sadly doing work arounds - echo opinion

"...We are out of sanitizing wipes in the hospital, largely because many of them were stolen," Dr. Caitlin Bonney 

Echo Commentary published in the Portland Press Herald in maine: ‘Our health care system is about to become completely overwhelmed’
An emergency physician with roots in Maine describes 'a turning point' on the COVID-19 unit of the out-of-state ER where she works.

By Dr. Caitlin Bonney
Worried well tie up emergency rooms

Just finished my fifth shift in a row in our Emergency Department COVID-19 unit, and I have to say, I’m spooked. I’m pretty worried about what’s coming. Our health care system is about to become completely overwhelmed. And I know that in some parts of the country it already is.

In the ED we think a lot about “volume,” or how many people are coming through who need to be seen. We’re getting a big surge in what is called the “worried well,” who take up a lot of time and a moderate amount of resources. We’re doing everything we can to keep these people from tying up the Emergency Department, but there is no place else for them to turn. They are terrified. They want to get tested. We don’t have any tests. It makes my job easy. In my mind, anyone who felt sick enough to come to the Emergency Department during a pandemic is sick enough to quarantine at home for 10 days. It will help with social distancing and keep people from coughing on each other while they fight over toilet paper at Costco. But they have no place else to get information. Every urgent care and primary care office is terrified and sends them directly to the Emergency Department to “get tested,” but we don’t have any tests. It overwhelms the system.

Another issue we have had is people in group living situations: patients sent in from homeless shelters and detox or sober living programs. They can’t quarantine where they live. But if we tell the program we can’t rule out COVID-19, they could lose their bed and be on the street during a time when all businesses and restaurants are closed. We don’t have a plan. We have been secretly testing some of these people – sending tests to California, telling them to wear a mask when they go back and calling them with their results. I hope. I can’t get the results because they’re run in a lab in California, so a nurse in Infection Control is supposed to get their results and call them. I can’t see the results myself.

Also, seeing a fair number of people with mental health issues who are having trouble with quarantine. Their therapists offices are closed, or if they try to get treatment, their insurance company is closed. They are stressed and anxious about being quarantined and losing their social support.
Influx of young COVID-19  patients

Today was a turning point. Much higher volumes; the staffing plan we put in place five days ago has started to fail. We’re going to need to shift more doctors and nurses over from the main ED into the isolation unit as volume picks up. At the beginning of my shift it was a lot of the worried well, but as the night went on, we started to see some sick patients. What’s spooky is that a lot of them are young, and they go downhill really fast. My worry is that because we are seeing a skew toward younger patients in the beginning, there will be no beds or ventilators left when the surge of older patients comes.

Intubation is another issue.
Normally, intubation (inserting a breathing tube) is a fast process. Maybe five minutes for setup, 30 seconds for procedure, 10 minutes for post-procedure care. Can be even faster if needed. But intubating a COVID-19 patient is very dangerous for staff because it creates aerosols and makes it much more likely that the virus will spread. It takes much longer to set up and perform. Everyone needs to be in real full protective gear.

One of the big changes in emergency medicine and critical care over the past few decades was the introduction of BiPap (
Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure), a kind of breathing machine that helps patients breathe without them needing a breathing tube inserted or needing to be sedated. It helps patients who are too tired to breathe, it helps push fluid out of the lungs, it helps patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. We can’t use BiPap on COVID-19 patients because it creates aerosols that spread the virus. And since we don’t know who has COVID-19, we can’t use BiPap on anyone. We also can’t give nebulized breathing treatments, the mainstay of therapy for asthma and COPD exacerbations, because those create aerosols. I’ve had to learn how to use alternate medications that have been out of practice for decades to treat these conditions.

Hospital workers are unprotected

On top of all this, none of us knows how to protect ourselves. There is a lot of confusion about what personal protective equipment we should be wearing, but that debate is kind of settled because we don’t have high-level PPE available anyway. We still have N95 masks and I get one of those per night (recommended wear time is five hours, I wear mine for 10). I save all my used masks for the day when we run out of clean ones. I wear safety glasses, which may or may not be the right level of protection. I wear one gown through my whole shift and take it off if I leave the unit and put it back on when I get back; that is not the way you are supposed to handle PPE, even of this level. We are out of sanitizing wipes in the hospital, largely because many of them were stolen. These are what we use to sterilize beds and equipment between patients. I have a Ziploc bag with a few wipes in it that I have been bringing with me to each shift to reuse on my stethoscope between each patient. I fully expect to get infected and just hope that my relatively young age is protective against severe disease.

I see videos online of people who have no daily contact with the virus getting packages from Amazon: going outside, wiping down the outside of the box with a wipe, opening the box, wiping down the contents with a wipe, then taking off their shoes and going inside. I work every day with patients I’m 100 percent sure have the virus, and I don’t have the time or resources to live like that. I’ve started stripping my scrubs off into the wash when I get home, but there’s really no way for me to avoid contamination. I don’t wash my hair every day (once a week is good at this point), but I wear a bouffant. I drive to and from work in my car and touch the inside. My phone is marginally cleaned by one of the few wipes I have. I carry my bag to and from work and leave it outside the unit, but there are things I put in and take out of there that I can’t wipe down. I definitely can’t spend my energy focusing on whether I touch my face. The message here is not that you shouldn’t be cleaning things, but it seems skewed that people with no exposure to the virus are able to clean everything and those of us actually caring for COVID-19 patients are not.

My daily schedule is like this: Wake up, attend a Zoom meeting about COVID-19 for several hours, read about COVID-19, drive to work, work in the COVID-19 unit for 10 hours, drive home in silence thinking about the day or decompressing with a friend on the phone, shower, sleep three to five hours, repeat. Having friends going through the same thing around the country is my only sanity saver. We’re all scared.

When I do get some time to run errands, the grocery stores are empty. I can’t get basics I would like to have to continue taking care of myself while I work tons of extra hours. The grocery stores are sold out. Scarcity is a powerful human motivator and the hoarding and stealing are making my life difficult. 

I’ve decided that I’m going to try to switch to ordering takeout and delivery during the business shutdown to support local businesses, in the hopes that they will be able to open normally again when this is all over.

In the U.S., we’re making changes that are destroying our economy, but we haven’t taken the steps that will actually slow transmission. We’re not checking people’s temperatures. In the rest of the world, your temperature gets measured at every exit and entry point including pizza shops and your own apartment building. In the U.S., we’re not monitoring for symptoms and we’re doing any surveillance testing. We don’t have tests.

My boyfriend lives in another state. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see him again. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my parents again, because of their age. All my life plans are on hold. I was planning on visiting my boyfriend next month. Now I’m not sure if I should go because every day we have more shifts to fill as doctors get stuck out of state due to flights being canceled, or are self-quarantining because they have symptoms, or are removed from the schedule because their risk of severe disease is high if they are infected due to their age or underlying medical conditions, or we simply need more doctors to work in the department. I feel like it would be irresponsible to leave and risk getting stuck out of state. Everything I do now feels irresponsible because I could be carrying the virus at any time.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Kentucky irresponsible coronavirus denier! Ron Paul is now the father of a victim.

Obviously, the coronavirus is not a hoax! Instead, the "hoax" is in the deniers who have made irresponsible claims to minimize the risk of the virulent coronavirus COVID-19 spread.

U.S.  Rand Paul US Senator tests positive for the Coronavirus just days after his (stupid!) father dismissed panic about the disease as a hoax. Published in Newsweek by Christina Zaho

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul's father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, penned an article titled "The Coronavirus Hoax," just six days before his son became the first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19.

"Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19," Paul's office announced on Twitter Sunday. "He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person."

Paul's office said that the senator "expected to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time." They also noted that no staff has been in contact with Paul as his D.C. office went remote 10 days ago.

Prior to Paul's diagnosis, a recent article titled "The Coronavirus Hoax," by his father Ron Paul was published on March 16. In the piece, Ron Paul said that "governments love crises because when the people are fearful they are more willing to give up freedoms for promises that the government will take care of them."

He also (irresponsibly!) called Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, the "chief fearmonger" who "did his best to further damage an already tanking economy," when Fauci appeared on the TV program Face the Nation.

"Over what? A virus that has thus far killed just over 5,000 worldwide and less than 100 in the United States?" Ron Paul wrote.

"By contrast, tuberculosis, an old disease not much discussed these days, killed nearly 1.6 million people in 2017. Where's the panic over this?" he also said, before adding that individuals should "ask themselves whether this coronavirus 'pandemic' could be a big hoax."

Although he went on to say that the disease isn't "harmless," Ron Paul also noted that governments have overhyped a "threat as an excuse to grab more of our freedoms" in the past.

Newsweek reached out to the (immoral) Ron Paul Institute for comment.

Last August, Rand Paul tweeted that he underwent surgery to remove part of his lung after it was damaged in an assault that took place two years prior. The surgery may elevate Paul, 57, to the status of a high-risk coronavirus individual*.

Earlier this month, Paul, a licensed physician, voted against a bipartisan $8 billion emergency coronavirus funding bill. He was the sole senator to vote against.

As of Sunday, there were over 311,000 confirmed coronavirus cases globally, with over 13,000 deaths and at least 93,000 recoveries.

The U.S. became the country with the fourth-most number of cases this weekend following China, Spain and Italy after domestic confirmed cases exceeded 26,000, with at least 340 deaths and 176 recoveries.

*Aug. 5, 2019 By Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Monday that he had surgery over the weekend to remove part of his lung that was damaged when his neighbor assaulted him in 2017.

Paul, 56, made the announcement on Twitter and said that because of the operation, he would have to limit his activities in August, during the House and Senate’s recess.

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