The world passes two million confirmed cases, Donald Trump is a global embarrassment (again!), and much more news from a busy Tuesday!
* Washington state now has 11,055 confirmed cases, with 546 deaths. Local counties: King, 4,612 cases/303 deaths; Pierce, 963/23; Snohomish, 1,916/77. The number of new cases each day in our state has been steadily declining for several days now.
* New modeling shows that transmission in the three counties above has slowed almost to the 1:1 ratio – that is, on average an infected person only gives the virus to one other person. Early in the local spread of the disease, that ratio was almost 1:3 – meaning that social distancing measures are working. But it would be very, very easy for those numbers to backslide if restrictions are lifted early. Local health officials, in announcing the modeling, say they expect existing restrictions will need to remain in place for another month.
* In Everett, the first local drive-thru testing site is closing after the federal government ended funding for such sites last Friday. Lucky thing Snohomish County has hardly any cases. Well, actually…
* Western State Hospital in Lakewood, the state’s largest psychiatric hospital, is now up to six patients and 27 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19.
* Remember the much-heralded Navy hospital ships sent to Los Angeles and New York? The L.A. one, the USS Mercy, now has only 20 patients on board, 18 days after arriving. For context, Los Angeles County alone has nearly 10,000 confirmed cases. Today, 116 medical staff were evacuated from the Mercy and placed in quarantine after seven staff members tested positive. Overall, the Mercy has at least 1,000 crew members – with over 50 staff for each patient. The Navy has no idea how their medical staff got infected; none of the Mercy’s patients have had COVID-19.
* Los Angeles County also announced plans to test residents randomly – an important step in understanding how prevalent the virus is, and thus how safe it is to “reopen” the economy anywhere. The US remains woefully short of testing capacity even for symptomatic patients and medical staff, let alone the sort of capacity for testing that would be needed to reopen anything anywhere.
* In New Jersey, the second-hardest-hit state after New York, labs are so backlogged and short on supplies that there is a two week backlog in test processing – and it’s getting worse, not better. But, as Trump reiterated today, that’s the governor’s problem, not his. Just like the ventilators.
* Donald Trump’s “Coronavirus Task Force” daily briefing didn’t feature any actual task force members today, or any actual medical information. There was only Trump, whose bizarre fixation with blaming the WHO for his own failures reached its logical conclusion as he announced he was withholding all new US funding for the organization – in the midst of the worst global pandemic in the WHO’s history. Perhaps he thinks other national leaders are like him and don’t like expert opinions or outside resources. But at the very times he claims the WHO was too trusting of China, which seems to be his main complaint, Trump himself was lavishing praise on China’s containment efforts and “transparency.” As usual, Trump seems blissfully unaware that video archives are a thing.
* Trump continued to press for the reopening of the economy, though he backed off yesterday’s claim that he could force governors to take such action. He did, however, claim that “at least 20 states are in excellent shape” and thus could reopen before the end of the month. That’s simply false. The state with the 30th most cases today is Kentucky, with 2,210 confirmed cases and a bad outbreak at a Louisville nursing home.
* Today the World Health Organization published a recommendation of six steps a country should have met before beginning to reopen its economy. Needless to say, the US, with the world’s worst outbreak, is not even close to meeting any of them.
* The Washington Post was the first to report today that people receiving actual checks rather than direct deposit for those stimulus payments will have the checks delayed by “several days” because the Narcissist-in-Chief insisted on having his name printed on each check. It will need to go in the memo field, since, of course, Trump’s not paying for it himself. Much like the “President Trump’s coronavirus Guidelines,” postcards mailed to every US household, this is essentially a reelection campaign expense being paid for by US taxpayers.
* The Treasury Department is also apparently letting creditors seize up to the full $1,200 payment to pay off debts. Otherwise, according to a Washington Post story tonight, most people receiving the money plan to spend it on food. Ruh-roh. But hey, Treasury reached a “deal” with airline industry executives to sink another $25 billion into bailing out that industry.
* A University of Missouri report is estimating that the pandemic will cost US farmers a *net* loss of $20 billion. That’s on top of losses from Trump’s China trade war, and THAT’s on top of record climate change-induced rainfall and flooding caused widespread crop damage last year.
* That pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota? It’s now up to over 500 confirmed cases. South Dakota remains one of the only states with no stay at home order.
* Meanwhile, a Tyson Foods beef plant in Louisa County, Iowa has 186 confirmed cases. Tyson magnanimously announced that employees at another plant, in Waterloo, wouldn’t be fired if they missed work. In Tama County, an outbreak centered on another beef plant has over 100 confirmed cases. Iowa also has no stay at home order.
* But not to worry. The Trump Administration announced that outside the health care industry, the feds will not require employers to keep track of workplace outbreaks. That’ll be up to states to figure out – a process that generally will take health officials longer to figure out, allowing worksites to remain open longer and the virus to spread further. As with almost every aspect of the Trump Administration’s response, this seems designed to maximize the pandemic.
* Another of those Republican-controlled states without stay at home orders is Nebraska – even though a major cluster in the Grand Island area is overwhelming the local hospital there, which has begun transferring patients to other hospitals. No worries! A suburban Omaha shopping mall proudly announced today that it will be the first – and hopefully only, but I’m not optimistic – mall in America to reopen its doors.
* A clinical trial for Trump’s favorite drug investment, hydroxychloroquine, was halted over the weekend due to serious cardiac complications.” Another one, in France, found the drug ineffective.” Ignorance kills.
* A group of Harvard University epidemiologists estimated today that off and on social distancing restrictions may be needed into 2022 to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
* A new study suggests that ordinary face masks or other facial coverings fail to filter the novel coronavirus in coughing patients.
* Remember that riot the other night at a prison in Lansing, Kansas? Kansas inmates are now suing the state to try to force better safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in that state’s prison system.
* Long-term care facilities remain vulnerable to large number of cases, and deaths. The death toll at a Richmond, Virginia nursing home is now up to 45, with only two nurses remaining to care for the residents still trapped there. Another death in Richmond was that of an evangelical preacher who defiantly kept holding services in defiance of the state’s stay at home order.
* Two major nursing home outbreaks are underway in Oklahoma. In Norman, near Oklahoma City, 72 people have been infected with COVID-19, with 10 deaths. In rural Grove, Oklahoma, near the Missouri border, 44 residents and 19 staff have tested positive so far. And 39 have been infected in yet another nursing home outbreak in Bartlesville, north of Tulsa.
* A nursing home in Wayne, West Virginia, near Huntington, now has 66 confirmed cases. West Virginia was the last state in the country to confirm a case of COVID-19.
* Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in suburban Philadelphia, has almost 2,400 confirmed cases, and over 60 percent of its deaths are from nursing homes. The jurisdiction is one of the few in the country to track long term care facility cases. The federal government? Don’t even ask.
* A Veterans Administration hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts, near Springfield, has recorded 44 COVID-19 deaths.
* In case Trump-loving rural areas somehow think they’re immune: All but the two tiniest of Georgia’s 159 counties now have confirmed cases.
* New York City changed how it was counting COVID-19 deaths today, adding to its numbers some 3,700 deaths of people who were symptomatic but could not be tested before they died. That leaped NYC’s death toll over 10,000. The change was not yet reflected in the overall numbers today for New York state (below), which passed 200,000 cases today.
* Top ten states for cases/deaths (Monday’s total cases/deaths in parentheses).
New York 203,020/10,842 (195,749/10,058)
New Jersey 68,824/2,805 (64,594/2,443)
Massachusetts 28,164/957 (26,793/756)
Michigan 27,001/1,768 (24,638/1,487)
California 25,537/783 (23,585/689)
Pennsylvania 25,465/691 (24,292/589)
Illinois 23,248/868 (22,025/798)
Florida 21,628/571 (20,601/470)
Louisiana 21,518/1,013 (21,016/844)
Texas 15,022/343 (14,041/300)
* The International Monetary Fund predicted today that the global economic downturn caused by the pandemic will be the worst since the Great Depression, with global productivity likely to drop by at least three percent.
* The global total of confirmed cases is 2,004,383, in 185 countries, with 126,761 deaths.
* Countries with over 10,000 cases; (Monday’s total cases/deaths in parentheses):
USA 609,516/26,057 (577,842/23,232)
Spain 174,060/18,255 (169,628/17,628)
Italy 162,488/21,067 (159,516/20,465)
France 143,303/15,729 (137,875/14,986)
Germany 132,210/3,495 (129,207/3,118)
UK 94,845/12,129 (89,569/11,347)
China 83,351/3,346 (83,213/3,345)
Iran 74,877/4,683 (73,303/4,585)
Turkey 65,111/1,403 (61,049/1,298)
Belgium 31,119/4.157 (30,589/3,903)
Netherlands 27,580/2,955 (26,710/2,833)
Canada 27,063/903 (25,551/767)
Switzerland 25,936/1,174 (25,688/1,138)
Brazil 25,684/1,662 (23,430/1,328)
Russia 21,102/170 (18,328/148)
Portugal 17,446/567 (16,934/535)
Austria 14,234/384 (14,041/368)
Israel 12,046/123 (11,586/116)
India 11,555/396 (10,453/358)
Ireland 11,479/406 (10,647/365)
Sweden 11,445/1,033 (10,948/919)
South Korea 10,591/225(10,537/217)
Peru 109,393/230 (<10,000) That's it for tonight. Much more tomorrow. WASH YOUR HANDS!!