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🤮 Coronavirus (Community Thread)


#902

Calling out for their meager response to CoronaVirus pandemic - CDC Director Redfield; FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; and of course, President Trump.

Dithering over the economy and T’s electable abilities as well as the HHS, CDC, FDA’s failures, this group deferred to T.

What a mess…what a tragedy.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, flanked Donald Trump at the podium in the White House briefing room. It was February 29th, the day of the first reported U.S. death from the coronavirus, and the president fielded an urgent question: “How should Americans prepare for this virus?” a reporter asked. “Should they go on with their daily lives? Change their routine? What should they do?”

In that moment, America was flying blind into a pandemic; the virus was on the loose, and nobody quite knew where. The lives of tens of thousands hinged on the advice about to be delivered by the president and his top public-health advisers. Trump began: “Well, I hope they don’t change their routine,” before he trailed off, and, quite uncharacteristically, called on an expert to finish the response. “Bob?” he said. “Do you want to answer that?”

…Even as he spoke, Redfield knew the country should be taking a different course. The Coronavirus Task Force had resolved to present the president with a plan for mitigation efforts, like school and business closures, on February 24th, but reportedly reversed course after Trump exploded about the economic fallout.

Patty Murray is the ranking member of the Senate’s top health committee, and represents Washington state, the nation’s first coronavirus hot spot. She blames the administration for a delay that “overwhelmed the health care system and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.” And she singles out Redfield, in particular, for “dereliction of duty.”

Despite months of alarms that the coronavirus was lurking at our doorstep, the Trump administration failed to mount an urgent response until the nation was engulfed and overwhelmed by the pandemic.

We had ample notice to get our country ready,” says Ron Klain, who served as President Obama’s Ebola czar, and lists the rolling out of testing, securing protective equipment, and building up hospital capacity as necessary preventative steps. “We spent all of January and February doing none of those things, and as a result, when this disease really exploded in March, we weren’t prepared.”

The government leaders who failed to safeguard the nation are CDC Director Redfield; FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; and of course, President Trump. Together, these men had the power to change the direction of this pandemic, to lessen its impact on the economy, and constrain the death toll from COVID-19. Each failed, in a series of errors and mismanagement that grew into a singular catastrophe — or as Jared Kushner described it on Fox & Friends, “a great success story.”

A tall man, with a tan, freckled head, and a snow-white chinstrap beard, Redfield stepped to the podium. “The risk at this time is low,” Redfield told the country. “The American public needs to go on with their normal lives.”

THE ZEALOT

The front-line agency built to respond to a pandemic, the CDC, was placed in unreliable hands. Dr. Robert Redfield is a right-wing darling with a checkered scientific past.

Redfield, a devout Catholic who was then a prominent HIV researcher in the Army, wrote the introduction, calling for the rejection of “false prophets who preach the quick-fix strategies of condoms and free needles.”

THE INSIDER

The CDC reports to the Department of Health and Human Services, led by Alex Azar, a former executive for the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly who gained infamy, in his five-year tenure, by doubling the price of insulin.

Azar is a creature of the GOP establishment: He cut his teeth as a Supreme Court clerk to Antonin Scalia, worked with Brett Kavanaugh on the Clinton-Whitewater investigation under special counsel Ken Starr, and served as a deputy HHS administrator in the George W. Bush era, before becoming Eli Lilly’s top lobbyist. Azar, 52, is the type of corporate leader Republicans have long touted as capable of driving efficiencies in the unwieldy federal bureaucracy.


Rick Bright directed HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority until his ouster in April. In a whistleblower complaint, he reveals he warned Azar on January 23rd that the virus could already be spreading in the U.S. but “we just don’t have the tests to know one way or the other.” Bright accuses HHS leadership of “a lax and dismissive attitude” toward the coronavirus, and singles out Azar for “downplaying this catastrophic threat.”

UNREADY AT THE FDA

Stephen Hahn had been on the job at the FDA for barely a month. A bald, 60-year-old of modest height, Hahn has an impeccable résumé — he served as chief medical executive at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center — but he had no experience running a government agency.

THE BLACK-SWAN EVENT

With the private sector offline, the stakes for the CDC test could not have been higher. The CDC had a peerless reputation. Despite its underfunding, it was considered a crown jewel of public-health agencies.

“Starting with the CDC test makes perfectly good sense,” says Kathleen Sebelius, who served as HHS secretary in the Obama administration. The CDC performed ably during the H1N1 outbreak on her watch. “Within two weeks of knowing what H1N1 looked like,” she recalls, “the CDC had millions of test kits to push out to the states and around the world.” There was little reason to think that the CDC could not perform the same in this crisis.

The CDC — itself subject to FDA regulation — obtained emergency approval of its own test on February 4th and began shipping out kits, manufactured in its own laboratories, to roughly 100 public-health labs across the country. The CDC test was complex, including two steps that tested for genetic markers of the novel coronavirus, and a third meant to rule out other known coronaviruses. But when state labs began testing, the unthinkable happened: The third prong failed, providing inconclusive results.

The crisis was acute: The U.S. had a single test for the coronavirus, and it could only be run at the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters, as well as a handful of state labs that had been able to make assay work. This bottleneck would require extreme rationing of tests, to patients who’d traveled to foreign hot spots and tested negative for other diseases. The criteria were so strict that the CDC allegedly refused a test to a nurse who fell ill after treating COVID patients.

One might excuse Alex Azar for his failure to manage up. At the time the CDC tests began to fail, Trump was in the throes of denial, praising President Xi of China on Twitter — “He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus” — and predicting the disease “goes away in April with the heat.”

But Azar proved equally hapless at managing down. Instead of engineering a workaround to the unreliable CDC test, or leaning on his private-sector connections to jump-start commercial testing, Azar insisted that the original kit be fixed. He reportedly rejected use of the WHO test, out of concern that the test was unreliable. (CDC and HHS officials also underscored that the WHO test, itself, would have had to go through the sticky wicket of FDA regulation.)

The impulse at Redfield’s CDC was to slow down, Becker says, to guard against producing a second, flawed batch of test kits. Hahn’s FDA, meanwhile, was focused on its role as the CDC’s regulator, intent on rooting out the flaw in the original test it had approved. The agencies were soon enmeshed in a bureaucratic struggle so toxic that an FDA diagnostic expert sent in to troubleshoot was briefly locked out of CDC facilities. (HHS blames a scheduling conflict.)

In interviews with Rolling Stone, FDA officials accused the CDC of providing incomplete and misleading information, of downplaying the number of public labs that were unable to run the test, and of signaling to the FDA that the CDC would be able to fix the problem on its own. A CDC representative, in turn, claimed that the FDA slowed the CDC’s response by throwing up redundant regulatory hurdles. The FDA would ultimately conclude that the “CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol” and that a “manufacturing issue” — believed to be contamination at the CDC’s lab — rather than a design defect, was responsible for the flawed results.

Sebelius says it is par for the course for bureaucracies to seize up in a crisis: “The default position is do nothing, to stand behind the regs, and say, ‘We can’t move.’ ” But she insists that the foot-dragging and finger-pointing had a solution: leadership at the parent agency, HHS, by Azar. “I can guarantee you that the secretary can get their attention,” she says.

Behind closed doors , top administration officials were starting to grapple with the seriousness of what the United States was facing — and to understand, at least intuitively, what the CDC’s failed testing regime was hiding: Containment of the coronavirus was failing, and economy-crippling mitigation would soon be necessary.

By Valentine’s Day, the National Security Council had reportedly developed a memo offering social-distancing guidelines, including school closures, “wide-spread ‘stay at home’ directives” and “cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings.” The role of asymptomatic carriers in spreading the coronavirus was becoming clearer, leading a top HHS official to warn of “a huge hole on our screening and quarantine effort.” By February 24th, the Coronavirus Task Force, Redfield included, had reportedly resolved to recommend a plan to Trump called “Four Steps to Mitigation.” But before Trump could be briefed, Messonnier had the grave misfortune of telling the truth. In a February 25th briefing with reporters, she warned of a wide coronavirus outbreak in the United States: “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when.” She cautioned that under social-distancing measures, many Americans could lose income and that “disruption to everyday life may be severe.”

“Dr. Messonnier’s statements were right on,” says Frieden, the former CDC head, who says he relied on her as one of the nation’s top public-health specialists in respiratory viruses. But after Messonnier’s comments contributed to massive stock-market losses, Trump thew a fit. He exploded at Azar and reportedly threatened to fire the CDC scientist.

Trump soon announced a major change of course. Pence would be taking over the task force, sidelining Azar. Trump himself minimized the threat of the disease, calling coronavirus “a flu,” and insisted that infections had peaked: “We have a total of 15 people” diagnosed with COVID-19, he said. “The 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero.”

The testing breakdown had left the nation blind to the true scope of the outbreak. By March 1st, the CDC’s official tally of coronavirus cases had spiked from the 15 cases touted by Trump to 75. But researchers at Northeastern University have now developed models showing there were likely 28,000 infections at the time, in just five major cities, including New York and Seattle. The Seattle Flu Study — bucking red tape from the FDA and CDC — had begun a rogue effort to test swab samples it had collected using its own lab-developed test. By early March, the testing had uncovered a bevy of undiagnosed coronavirus infections. Dr. Helen Chu, the project’s lead scientist, told The New York Times that she realized then, with horror, “It’s just everywhere already.”

At this moment, shutting down the economy was inevitable — it was just a question of when the measures would be implemented. But scientists believe up to 90 percent of the human toll was still avoidable, had the government moved immediately to implement social-distancing measures. Instead, the administration persisted in its “Do nothing” message parade.

A PRESIDENT ADRIFT

Having plunged the nation headlong and unprepared into the deadliest disease outbreak in a century, President Trump is now proving to be one of the greatest obstacles to an effective national response.

Sebelius ultimately blames Trump for failing to end the infighting and fix the testing failure. “The White House has a unique way to get agencies’ attention, by making it clear that they want a solution, and everybody at the table with that solution within 24 hours,” she says. “If the president wants this to happen, it will happen.” But on his visit to the CDC in Atlanta, Trump had made an extraordinary admission: That he did not want to let passengers from a cruise ship, then suffering an outbreak off the California coast, to come on shore because the tally of patients would rise. “I like the numbers being where they are,” Trump said

Trump has extraordinary powers to set the country on a better course — but he hasn’t used them. “What has been really terrifying to watch is that the federal government has refused to use the unique purchasing authority, the unique production authority, that no state can mobilize,” Sebelius says. What’s more, rather than supporting governors, Trump has been undermining them, “creating a system of chaos and competition, as opposed to collaboration, that has made the situation worse for most states.”

In the event that Trump is still president when a vaccine becomes available, Sebelius argues that the loose confederations that have formed in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific states to coordinate their reopenings may need to band together in a shadow government to sidestep Trump. “Maybe governors will put together their own system,” she says, “and ignore what’s happening in the White House.”situation worse for most states.”.


#903

This is absolutely wild!

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority strikes down state stay-home order

Read the whole thing, it’s baffling.


#904

Oh here it fucking comes, Trump’s criticism of Fauci’s testimony. People are dying by the thousands and he still won’t listen to his own fucking team.

He’s just going to let the virus rip through every community, across the country. Doesn’t even fucking care about American lives! I really hope he goes through some things karma-wise.


(M A Croft) #905

@Windthin

Jared Kushner is pushing the idea of postponing the election, sparking long-held fears. This is pure distraction, designed to prey on our fears to help distract from the things Trump himself fears right now.


#906

Watch Thursday 5.14.20 7a PST/10aEST

Dr. Rick Bright Testimony on Coronavirus Pandemic Response

Dr. Rick Bright, the recent director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority who says he was removed from his job, testified before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

KELLY: Tell us a little bit more about Rick Bright. I know you have read his complaint, all 63 pages of it, and you have verified a lot of it. Give us the gist.

DIAMOND: Rick Bright, who was abruptly transferred about three weeks ago to a smaller role at the National Institutes for Health, has alleged that his transfer was politically motivated, that he had been raising concerns for months about the Trump administration’s problematic response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some of his concerns were about supplies, about not enough masks. And I think his warnings have been borne out. The U.S. was caught flat-footed. And had the U.S. followed some of the concerns that Dr. Bright was raising and acted on them, we would’ve been in a better position.

KELLY: He was also one of the ones raising concerns about the malaria drug that President Trump was trumpeting for a while there as a possible way out of all this, right?

DIAMOND: That’s right. That’s right. And that’s really the crux of his complaint and what I was trying to get to the bottom of. Dr. Bright says that he was the one helping block efforts to make that malaria drug widely available despite scant evidence that it would be effective for COVID-19.

KELLY: OK.

DIAMOND: It’s not clear, though, that he went as far as his allegations suggest that he did. And there’s some evidence that he may have actually been more favorable to using the drug than Dr. Bright alleged in his complaint.

KELLY: Right. I mean, you have found as you reported this out - you’ve interviewed a bunch of people. You have found, as one often does, that it’s complicated. What are some of the people saying who question some of Rick Bright’s claims?

DIAMOND: Well, I think there are two areas, Mary Louise. One would be that Dr. Bright, while certainly not the biggest fan of using these malaria drugs, did help make it possible for the federal government to acquire them in the first place. He did play a role. He did not lie in the road and stop that project from moving forward.

I think a second issue is that Dr. Bright and his ouster - that was months in the making. I, as a political reporter, cover the agency pretty closely, and I talked to officials dating back to last year about frustrations with Dr. Bright and plans to move him early this year, even before we knew that COVID-19 was on the horizon.


(David Bythewood) #907

Infection rates were climbing at Nebraska meatpacking plants, at well over a thousand.

Then health officials stopped reporting the numbers & won’t say which plants have outbreaks.

Workers and families say they have a right to know.


#908

Dr. Rick Bright’s comments in front of Congress today. Whistleblower and former head of BARDA Director 2016-2020

This


#909

Testing…all we need is testing. What about accurate testing? It looks like the Abbott device is not giving us the most accurate results - "it may miss as many as half of positive cases."

prognosis

False Negatives Raise More Questions About Virus Test Accuracy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-13/false-negatives-raise-more-questions-about-virus-test-accuracy

  • Abbott device in use at White House had false negatives: study

  • Second analysis finds many inaccurate results from tests

New research is raising more questions about tests used around the U.S. to diagnose Covid-19 patients, with some of the tests producing a surprisingly high rate of false negatives that incorrectly show a person isn’t infected.

One study released Wednesday examining an Abbott Laboratories test that’s used at the White House to get rapid diagnoses indicated it may miss as many as half of positive cases. A second peer-reviewed study released hours later suggested that results for another type of widely used diagnostic test are particularly unreliable early on in an infection.

The first study found that Abbott’s ID NOW machine missed at least one-third of positive cases detected with a rival test, and as many as 48% when using the currently recommended dry nasal swabs, according to the report on BioRxiv, a server where researchers post early work before it has been reviewed by other scientists.


#910

Sheer nihilism…rejecting all norms…preface to where this societal breakdown begins and ends. WTF

NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters) - Accused criminals across the United States have started using the threat of deadly COVID-19 infection as a weapon in attacks on police, retail clerks and grocers trying to keep the nation fed during lockdown.

Threats of spreading COVID-19 have occurred from coast to coast, raising questions about whether states will move to criminalize the weaponization of the novel coronavirus, the way more than half of U.S. states made undisclosed HIV exposure a crime when the AIDS crisis erupted in the 1980s.

A Michigan man wiped his nose and face on the shirt of a store employee who was trying to enforce a mask-wearing requirement. The 68-year-old man was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and, if convicted, faces three months behind bars and a $500 fine.

In St. Petersburg, Florida, a man coughed and spit on police and threatened to spread the virus as they responded to domestic violence calls to his home. He faces up to five years in prison on federal charges of perpetrating a biological weapons hoax after his test results came back negative.

A San Antonio, Texas, man claimed in a Facebook post that he paid someone to spread coronavirus at grocery stores. While his threat was deemed false, he too was arrested and charged with a biological weapons hoax. He claimed he was trying to deter people from visiting stores in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, federal prosecutors in Texas said.

New Jersey is among the first states to consider making it a crime to issue a "credible threat to infect another with COVID-19 or similar infectious disease that triggered public emergency," said a spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Advocates for HIV-positive people said states drafting such laws should be careful not to make them so broad that they punish poor and minority communities, as studies show HIV criminalization has, according to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law.


(David Bythewood) #911

Fourth USDA Inspector Dies From Virus Amid Meat Plant Outbreaks

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-14/fourth-usda-inspector-dies-from-virus-amid-meat-plant-outbreaks

After Wisconsin court ruling, crowds liberated and thirsty descend on bars. ‘We’re the Wild West,’ Gov. Tony Evers says.

‘If Obama was POTUS, this would not have happened’: GOP Veteran unloads on Trump virus response

Wow.


(David Bythewood) #912

Texas manufacturer reveals Trump’s Pentagon ordered masks from MEXICO

  • Mike Bowen, the vice president of a Texas-based mask-making company, testified Thursday he tried for years to get U.S. government business
  • ’I continually lose to masks that are made in Mexico because the DOD does not obey the Berry Amendment and buy foreign masks made in Mexico,’ Bowen said
  • Bowen said for 13 years he was alerting government officials, including President Obama and Trump, that there would be an N95 mask shortage




(David Bythewood) #913



#914

All right, by my count; based on the first day of Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay @ Home Order, this is now Day 60 of our Social Distancing Experience.

There’s all sorts of Coronavirus/Covid-19 information, conspiracy theories, and details all over the place, but few thoughts, forecasts, or predictions about what our future’s going to be like. Someone pointed out the other day that Mike Ryan from the WHO said COVID-19 could become endemic like HIV and may never go away. Swell. And North Korea or somebody MAY fire a missile at us, what kind of value is a message like THAT to us? To guard against HIV, one wears a prophylactic. So to guard against the Coronavirus, what, we wear oxygen masks? Remember that old Timbuk3 song, “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades?” What would be a modern day version, the Future’s So Grim I gotta Wear O2?

What are your thoughts about the future? What’s keeping me going is the Pandemic of 1918, which lasted a year and then blew over without a vaccine or anything. So, based on that, 60 Days Down, and ‘just’ 305 Days to go.


#915

The next five years will be harder than the 2008 recession. The coronavirus will alter most of our lives forever. Everything from cultural norms to even architecture will change slightly to facilitate society new needs. I’m hopeful but feeling cautious. Humans are extraordinary creatures, we will adapt but how quickly is the real question.

Stay home if you can, wear a mask in public, and wash your damn hands. The future can still be ours if we hold on to hope.


#916

Yeah, I know about staying at home, and wearing a mask, and washing my hands, but while I’m sure the financial hit will linger for a while, I’m hoping the social distancing thing will end faster than that.

I was streaming Al Di Meola on Pandora last night, and was thinking “DAMN he’s good with a guitar!” And then I started thinking about the local jazz club where I saw him perform twice, each with a strikingly different style. There’s a wonderful bartender there named Kelly, and she said he’s like that EVERYTIME he plays.

Well, there WAS a wonderful bartender there named Kelly, that club’s shut down now. Maybe this is going to be like a Rip Van Winkle kinda thing; whenever it’s safe to venture out, we’ll have to rediscover our new world.


#917

My guess is that it will be touch and go for a while, some hot spots will have to open and close as they struggle with containment. From what I’ve been reading, the virus is not contained right now and we have no national plan to contain the virus, so it’s up completely to the states when to end the stay home orders. No state is currently meeting any benchmark for reopening. In Wuhan, I believe I read they were under stay home orders for 76 days. I have a feeling it’ll be a bit longer for us. We don’t have a strong healthcare infrastructure in the states, it’s all piecemeal and Americans hate being told what to do—wearing masks, staying six feet apart, etc.

I have hope but I fear the worst, containment of the virus has been politicized to the point of endangering people’s lives. This will not be easy.

Here’s the latest forecast from the CDC


#918

Agreed, while the Washington State Governor is trying to be proactive and emulate the South Korean methodology, it’s all voluntary, and there’s no travel restrictions across the border. So…I think THAT part, at least, is doomed to fail. AND, there’s certainly not going to be any nationally organized and/or enforced strategy for at LEAST another 250 days.

The other dynamic though is, as time goes on, more and more people will have been exposed, and start developing antibodies. That’s what happened in 1918. There was no vaccine, there WERE about 675,000 deaths in the United States alone, but it was pretty much all over after a year’s time.


#919

Yes! The Port could put in place fever screenings at the very least, more people come in through our ports than from than they Idaho or Oregon borders. I worry about the cruise ships in late summer docking downtown. They should keep the Market closed, this is no time for tourism. :pensive:

It’s my understanding that this pandemic will be similar but not as many deaths due to better mitigation practices and other advances in medical technology.


#920

That’s what happened in 1918. There was no vaccine, there WERE about 675,000 deaths in the United States alone

It’s my understanding that this pandemic will be similar but not as many deaths due to better mitigation practices and other advances in medical technology.

Well, we’ll see what happens when they put those better mitigation processes on hold, without changing anything else. I’m expecting an upswing. You’ve got a good point though, about the advances in medical technology; even during THIS experience. Like, how they’re found out that, at least in some cases, those sought after ventilators might be doing more harm than good.

And that’s “good” news that this pandemic will be similar to what happened in 1918; as it suggests that it WILL just run its course naturally, no chugging Clorox required! :grin:


#921

Yes good point but what I was actually referring to is the great leap we’ve made in the last hundred years alone. Read, from NYT’s

In 1918, the world was a very different place, even without the disruptive influence of World War I. Doctors knew viruses existed but had never seen one — there were no electron microscopes, and the genetic material of viruses had not yet been discovered. Today, however, researchers not only know how to isolate a virus but can find its genetic sequence, test antiviral drugs and develop a vaccine.

In 1918, it was impossible to test people with mild symptoms so they could self-quarantine. And it was nearly impossible to do contact tracing because the flu seemed to infect — and panic — entire cities and communities all at once. Moreover, there was little protective equipment for health care workers, and the supportive care with respirators that can be provided to people very ill with coronavirus did not exist.

With a case fatality rate of at least 2.5 percent, the 1918 flu was far more deadly than ordinary flu, and it was so infectious that it spread widely, which meant the number of deaths soared.

Researchers believe the 1918 flu spared older people because they had some immunity to it. They theorize that decades earlier there had been a version of that virus, one that was not as lethal and spread like an ordinary flu. The older people living in 1918 would have been exposed to that less lethal flu and developed antibodies. As for children, most viral illnesses — measles, chickenpox — are more deadly in young adults, which may explain why the youngest were spared in the 1918 epidemic.

Regardless of the reason, it was a disaster for life expectancy, which plummeted. In 1917, life expectancy in the United States was 51 years. It was the same in 1919. But in 1918, it was just 39 years.

Everything was different, all the great medical advances of the 20th century happened after the “Spanish flu” pandemic, so at least we’ve got that going for us. We just have to get through this, it’s shit now but it’s better than dying or infecting others who could die.