Monthly Archives: April 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE: FRIDAY EVENING, APRIL 3

LOCAL

* Statewide: 6,966 confirmed cases, up nearly 1,000 from the previous total released March 31, and 284 deaths. Local counties through Tuesday: King 2,711 cases/188 deaths, including 23 since yesterday; Pierce 433/7; Snohomish 1,317/38.

* Seattle is temporarily eliminating metered parking on city streets during the state’s stay at home order, now scheduled to last until May 4. Other parking restrictions, including restricted parking zone time limits, disabled spots, and load zones, will continue to be enforced.

* Metro and Sound Transit announced further cuts in service as ridership plummets.

* Celebrity local restaurateur Tom Douglas says he is closing his 13 restaurants because he is broke from the cost of closing his businesses. Douglas estimated that “It’s going to be tough for 50 percent of our restaurants to come back.” The move underscores the thin profit margin most restaurants operate with, and the difficulty many will have surviving the pandemic.

* State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued a 60-day grace period for all stand-alone dental plans.

NATIONAL

* As expected, the CDC issued new guidelines today recommending that all people wear cloth masks or other face coverings in public. Trump immediately undercut the CDC, saying, ‘I’m choosing not to do it.”

* Trump’s daily press briefing was once again a sh*tshow, with the president insulting reporters and rejecting Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendation for a national stay at home order, instead blaming state governors for the pandemic.

* To nobody’s surprise, Trump also came out as opposed to national voting by mail for the November election, claiming without evidence that it would lead to vote fraud. The likely Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has called for states to prepare to make voting by mail an option in November.

* Stocks dropped again Friday, as March’s monthly employment numbers were unsurprisingly bad and Europe recorded its biggest-ever one-month drop in economic activity.

* More than 10,000 loans worth more than $3.2 billion were processed by the Small Business Administration today, in the first day of small business loans under the $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill passed by Congress last week. Another emergency bill is being worked on by House Democrats.

* A West Virginia bank became the first bank failure in the US attributed to the impact of the pandemic.

* Alabama became the 41st state to issue a stay at home order. The remaining nine states all have Republican governors: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.

* Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a stay at home order only yesterday, scheduled to take effect this evening. But he also quietly issued an order overturning more stringent local restrictions – and exempted churches from his stay at home order. The Tampa megachurch whose pastor was arrested last weekend for defying a county restriction on large gatherings appears to be back in business this Sunday. Packed churches for Easter – only nine days away!

* Amidst a nationwide blood shortage, the FDA has eased the ban on blood donations by gay men, a ban that dates to the early days of AIDS almost 40 years ago. There are still steep restrictions. Gay men in a committed relationship with an HIV-negative partner still aren’t eligible. Bigotry dies hard.

* The Trump Administration’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has quietly toughened rules for workers seeking union representation, amidst a national wave of labor organizing in workplaces with serious public health concerns.

* The WNBA women’s pro basketball league postponed the beginning of its season, which was set to start May 15.

* 134 inmates at Cook County (Chicago) Jail, the nation’s largest single-site jail, have tested positive.

* An outbreak at a San Antonio nursing home has infected 67 of the facility’s 84 residents, with one death. Eight staff members have also tested positive, and authorities are scrambling to conduct tests at seven other area nursing homes where the staff also worked. Texas, finally, issued a stay at home order yesterday; most of its major cities, including San Antonio, have had such orders in place for at least two weeks.

* New York state passed 100,000 confirmed cases today. Only three *countries* – Spain, Italy, and, of course, the US – have more. The situation in New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey hospitals became increasingly desperate today. New York City alone has nearly 50,000 cases. One out of every six NYPD officers either has tested positive or is in quarantine. One out of every 4 EMS personnel in the city has also tested positive.

* Four states passed the 10,000 mark in confirmed cases: Michigan, California, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.

New York 102,985 (84,046)
New Jersey 29,895 (22,255)
Michigan 12,744 (9,315)
California 11,898 (9,937)
Massachusetts 10,402 (7,738)
Louisiana 10,297 (6,424)
Florida 9,585 (7,773)
Illinois 8,904 (6,980)
Pennsylvania 8,570 (6,063)
Washington 6,670 (5,984)

GLOBAL

* In Thailand, The United States intercepted a shipment of 200,000 masks for health care workers, made by 3M and bound for the city of Berlin, in an incident a German official described as “modern piracy.” The Trump Administration is also trying to use the Defense Protection Act to bar 3M from exporting medical supplies from the US to any other countries, including Canada and Mexico.

* French authorities also accused the US of outbidding, on a Chinese airport runway, a supply of masks about to be shipped from China to Paris. So what’s to stop, say, China, from refusing to export protective gear to the US? So far, 68 countries have put limits on their own export of medical supplies.

* A doctor who leads a Russian doctors’ union has been detained for challenging the country’s official count of COVID-19 cases. Russia currently reports 4,149 confirmed cases, a total that has grown rapidly this week. Critics have cast doubt on the accuracy of the official case and death counts of several authoritarian countries, especially Russia, China, and Iran – and North Korea, which claimed, this week, it still has no cases.

* The global total of confirmed cases is 1,098,848 and 59,131 deaths – up almost 8,000 deaths from yesterday.

* Amidst encouraging signs that Italy is finally beginning to slow its pandemic, Spain – whose outbreak began in earnest about a week after Italy’s – was poised to pass it for the second-most confirmed cases in the world. Meanwhile, South Korea – which a month ago had the second highest number of cases in the world – passed 10,000 cases. It now ranks 15th globally.

* Countries with over 5,000 cases (Thursday’s total in parentheses):

USA 277,828 (236,339)
Italy 119,827 (115,242)
Spain 119,199 (110,238)
Germany 91,159 (84,600)
China 82,511 (82,432)
France 65,202 (59,929)
Iran 53,183 (50,468)
UK 38,690 (34,765)
Turkey 20,921 (18,135)
Switzerland 19,606 (18,827)
Belgium 16,770 (15,348)
Netherlands 15,821 (14,784)
Canada 12,439 (11,114)
Austria 11,524 (11,108)
South Korea 10,062 (9,976)
Portugal 9,866 (9,034)
Brazil 9,194 (7,031)
Israel 7,428 (6,808)
Sweden 6,731 (5,466)
Norway 5,370 (5,131)
Australia 5,330 (<5000) Your COVID-19 musical accompaniment of the day. GO WASH YOUR HANDS

COVID-19 UPDATE: THURSDAY, APRIL 2

The new US unemployment numbers for the past week are really, really bad. The world exceeds 50,000 deaths, and is exceeded a million confirmed cases today. The numbers are rising hourly. The Democrats postponed their Milwaukee convention by a month, and now say they’ll hold it in August. They’re still in denial. Joe Biden will likely be the nominee. They’re still in denial about his fitness as a candidate, too…

LOCAL

* Washington state is finally releasing new numbers, which it hadn’t done since March 28. Now we have state totals through March 31: 5,984 confirmed cases, and 247 deaths. Local counties through Tuesday: King 2,468 cases/165 deaths; Pierce 352/7; Snohomish 1,221/38.

* That federal investigation of Life Care Center of Kirkland, the nursing home that became the first epicenter of the US outbreak? It’s resulting in $611,000 in fines for multiple ongoing safety violations during the outbreak – at $123,585 per day over six weeks. The home also faces loss of eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid payments. And that”s before state regulators weigh in. Life Care is one of the country’s largest nursing home chains, and has also had resident deaths at some of its other locations nationally.

* Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) has launched an interactive online map of food resources during the crisis: food banks, senior centers, student meals, and other locations that are open. It’s at https://public.tableau.com/…/city.of.seattle.human.services….

* The Northwest Folklife Festival announced that it is postponed from its annual four-day Memorial Day weekend dates. No new dates for the festival were given.

* Seattle has booked an entire downtown hotel, for three months as a place for first responders to self-isolate or quarantine. The Executive Hotel Pacific, at 4th & Spring, was converted from an SRO in the early ’90s. Downtown hotels, which rely on tourism and conventions, are virtually empty now due to the outbreak.

* So far, six SPD officers and 10 Seattle firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19, and 167 SPD employees and 86 SFD employees had been quarantined or isolated. American Medical response, the private company that provides the city’s ambulance service, has not released data.

NATIONAL

* There were 6.6 million unemployment claims filed last week in the US – doubling the record-shattering number of the previous week. 10 million in two weeks. That’s more than the entire length of the 2008-09 recession. In Washington state, another 190,000 filed claims. And it’s likely all an undercount of the number of people losing their incomes, given the large number of people who rely on the gig economy and who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. We’re heading into uncharted economic territory.

* The Democratic National Convention has been postponed from mid-July to mid-August. Most remaining primaries have been postponed to early June (the previous DNC deadline for awarding delegates – that may change). Democrats will need to wrestle with how the entire arc of the campaign has been upended with only two candidates remaining. Joe Biden had one good week that gave him an overwhelming lead in delegates, but his performance as a frontrunner this month – when his whole campaign has been based on his being an experienced leader who can handle a crisis – has not been very confidence-building. Meanwhile, Trump is on prime time TV Every. Single. Day. The Dems have a big, big problem.

* House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formation of a bipartisan House Committee to oversee the Trump Administration’s pandemic response. The committee will be led by veteran South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, likely a reward for saving Joe Biden’s candidacy. The committee will have subpoena power, but good luck getting Trump to honor any. Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the committee “unnecessary,” because foxes ALWAYS behave themselves in the henhouse. #MostCorruiptAdmiistrationEver.

* In signing last week’s $2.2 trillion relief bill, Trump made clear that he rejected the bill’s provisions that would check the administration for any potential abuses or conflicts of interest: “I am the oversight.”

* The House is already working on another, potentially even larger bill. Today’s unemployment numbers will lend still more urgency to that effort.

* The FDA approved the first antibody test for COVID-19 today. That will help determine whether antibodies from a recovered patient can be used to treat current patients – an unproven but potentially huge development. And it could give epidemiologists a much better idea of how widespread the virus is – IF the test is widely administered, something the US hasn’t exactly had a great track record with this past month.

* Cell phone GPS data is showing that in states which failed to enact stay at home orders promptly, such as Florida, Georgia, and Texas, residents continued to travel widely – including to other states, compromising the entire country’s response. The data underscores the problem with the lack of a federal stay at home order, and the US reliance on a patchwork of often politicized state-level responses.

* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his state only has a six day supply of life-saving ventilators left – and that he did not think the federal government could help. New York has had 442 deaths in the last day.

* Meanwhile, Trump again blamed New Yorkers for their problems, saying the area’s doctors and hospitals are “never satisfied” with the federal response. Yeah, bodies piling up, and Trump wants them to be, uh, satisfied? Sociopath.

* Hobby Lobby has drawn the ire of Colorado officials for failing to comply with business closure orders. The craft chain re-opened its stores this week, apparently because Trump said they should, or God did, or both, or something. Colorado now has 3,342 cases, 14th among the states.

* Here’s the top ten states in confirmed cases, with last night’s total in parentheses.

New York 84,046 (83,712)
New Jersey 22,255 (22,255)
California 9,937 (8,813)
Michigan 9,315 (7,615)
Florida 7,773 (6,741)
Massachusetts 7,738 (6,620)
Illinois 6,980 (5,998)
Louisiana 6,424 (6,424)
Pennsylvania 6,063 (6,009)
Washington 5,984 (the state has now updated through 3/31)

GLOBAL

* The global total (UPDATED 2:45 pm) of confirmed cases is 1,009,159 and 51,485 deaths. 181 countries now have the virus.

* Greece has quarantined a (mostly Syrian) refugee camp of 2,600 people after 20 residents tested positive. Portugal extended residency status to refugees and asylum seekers during the crisis. Ireland has said it will not prosecute illegal migrants seeking health or other state services.

* A day after Spain became the third country to reach 100,000 cases, it recorded its highest death toll yet: 950 dead in one day, pushing the country over 10,000 dead. economist projected that Spanish unemployment could reach 35 percent.

* Countries with over 5,000 cases (Wednesday evening’s total in parentheses):

USA 236,339 (206,049)
Italy 115,242 (110,574)
Spain 110,238 (104,118)
Germany 84,600 (77,981)
China 82,432 (82,361)
France 59,929 (57,756)
Iran 50,468 (47,593)
UK 34,765 (29,865)
Switzerland 18,827 (17,768)
Turkey 18,135 (15,679)
Belgium 15,348 (13,964)
Netherlands 14,784 (13,696)
Austria 11,108 (10,711)
Canada 11,114 (9,560)
South Korea 9,976 (9,887)
Portugal 9,034 (8,251)
Brazil 7,031 (6,836)
Israel 6,808 (6,092)
Sweden 5,466 (<5000) Norway 5,131 (<5000) Go for a walk - at a safe distance from other people, of course. It's a nice spring day! We're in this together for the long haul. Mental self-care will be hugely important. And when you get back home, WASH YOUR HANDS AGAIN

COVID-19 UPDATE: WEDNESDAY EVENING, APRIL 1

LOCAL

* Gov. Jay Inslee said today that he is likely to extend our state’s stay at home order through the month of April.

* Due to data overload, the Washington Department of Health still has not updated its COVID-19 case counts since last Saturday, when it reported 4,896 confirmed cases.

* DSHS has purchased a closed Judkins Park nursing home, with the intent of converting it into use by non-COVID-19 hospital patients by early May – freeing up area hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

* A construction worker at Sound Transit’s new University District light rail station tested positive for COVID-19.

NATIONAL

* The stock market was down 4.4 percent today, one day after finishing the worst quarter since 2008.

* You mean Trump was lying? Department of Homeland Security officials said today the national reserve of critical PPE supplies is “nearly depleted” – leaving FEMA, states and other countries to bid against each other in the private marketplace, frequently bidding up the price. Only a “tiny slice” of the national stockpile of PPEs remains, equipment that is being saved for federal first responders.

* Trump has consistently bragged about how there was plenty of PPEs in reserve, plenty being manufactured, etc. Governors have been complaining about being outbid by the feds for needed equipment for weeks, even though Trump pledged a week ago to end federal outbidding and up the price against the states.

* One governor complained yesterday that a $25,000 ventilator cost their state $50,000. During World War Two, price gouging of necessary commodities was prosecuted fiercely. Today, not so much. #DisasterCapitalism.

* The federal government is reporting a surge of online and phone scams related to the stimulus checks – along the lines of “In order to receive your stimulus deposit, we need to confirm your banking information…” DON’T DO IT.

* The Navy reversed itself today and announced that some 3,000 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt would be evacuated from the ship by Friday. About 100 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19. The ship is docked in Guam, and the Navy is working with Guam’s government to try to identify enough motel rooms to accommodate crew members.

* The Coast Guard has ordered all cruise ships to remain at sea “indefinitely,” an order impacting “dozens” of ships mostly at or near South Florida. Most of the ships only have crew aboard, but Carnival has three ships with about 6,600 passengers off the Florida coast now. The ships include the troubled Zaandam, which has had two passengers die from COVID-19, nine test positive, and another 190 with symptoms consistent with the virus.

* Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, as well as the governors of Mississippi and Nevada, finally got around today to issuing long-overdue statewide stay at home orders for their hard-hit states. President Trump went out of his way yesterday to praise DeSantis’ “early” response, and criticize New York Gov, Andrew Cuomo, who was far more proactive in addressing the pandemic.

* Trump, today, reiterated that he did not want a national stay at home order, or, apparently, any kind of coordinated federal response. Public health experts continue to warn that the pandemic could last six or more months; so far, at least publicly, the administration appears to have no plan for a prolonged public health crisis. Only a handful of states, including Texas, do not yet have stay at home orders.

* Today West Virginia became the 15th state to postpone its presidential primary, from May 12 to June 9. Likely nominee Joe Biden said it was “hard to envision” the Democratic Party holding their July convention in Milwaukee as scheduled. As of yet, the DNC has not announced any fallback plan if the pandemic is still afoot in three months.

* Twenty-eight University of Texas students who helped charter a plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to party during Spring Break have now tested positive for COVID-19.

* The New York City metro area’s death toll surged again today, to 2,381.

* CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of New York’s governor, has tested positive.

* The US blew past 200,000 cases today, and now has nearly double the number of confirmed cases of any other country. The top ten states:

New York 83,712
New Jersey 22,255
California 8,813
Michigan 7,615
Florida 6,741
Massachusetts 6,620
Louisiana 6,424
Pennsylvania 6,009
Illinois 5,998
Washington 5,498 (the state has not reported updated numbers in four days)

GLOBAL

* This year’s United Nations climate change summit, scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland, has been postponed due to the pandemic.

* As bad as Donald Trump’s crisis response has been, it looks positively prescient compared to far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. He remains the last major world leader to be denying the severity of the pandemic. As cases have grown the last week in Brazil, Bolsonaro claimed his country’s people were somehow uniquely immune to the virus, saying that they could be dunked in raw sewage and “don’t catch a thing.” He has accused state governors of inflating their case numbers to make him look bad. This week, as the number of cases accelerated, he demanded Brazilians go back to work. Politicians across Brazil’s political spectrum are begging the public to ignore their president. In major cities, the nightly banging of pots and pans from windows is not to support health care workers, but to support Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

* So it can be worse.

* Another hero of the far right, the Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte, today threatened to shoot protesters who have been locked down in the sprawling Manila metro area. The protesters are primarily poor people saying they are running out of food and other essentials.

* Russian president Vladimir Putin sent a planeload of masks and medical supplies to the US to assist in dealing with its outbreak.

* The global total of confirmed cases is now 932,605, in 180 countries, with 46,809 deaths. The world almost certainly will exceed a million cases and 50,000 deaths tomorrow. Spain became the third country to reach 100,000 cases.

* Countries with over 5,000 cases (Tuesday evening’s total in parentheses):

USA 206,049 (189,624)
Italy 110,574 (105,792)
Spain 104,118 (95,723)
China 82,361 (82,294)
Germany 77,981 (71,808)
France 57,756 (52,836)
Iran 47,593 (44,481)
UK 29,865 (25,481)
Switzerland 17,768 (16,605)
Turkey 15,679 (13,531)
Belgium 13,964 (12,775)
Netherlands 13,696 (12,667)
Austria 10,711 (10,180)
South Korea 9,887 (9,887)
Canada 9,560 (8,551)
Portugal 8,251 (7,443)
Brazil 6,836 (5,812)
Israel 6,092 (5,258)

April is here in all its glory. Keep 6 ft between you and others and WASH YOUR HANDS!

COVID-19 UPDATE: APRIL 1 EDITION

LOCAL

* Construction of an emergency field hospital under CenturyLink Field was halted last night after outraged Seahawk fans claimed that the holy site had not been properly consecrated for that purpose. After a late-night waiver of the governor’s ban on religious services, this morning faith leaders from across the region gathered for a brief ceremony. Construction has now resumed.

* Seattle City Council voted unanimously yesterday to give every adult Seattleite a 60-day supply of weed to help with the stress of the pandemic. The bill was immediately vetoed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, who remains the only person over age 12 in Seattle who doesn’t partake. Council easily overrode the veto. Councilmember Sawant raised a concern that landlords didn’t deserve the benefit, but after a brief recess she returned to council chambers feeling much better. The weed will be given out using the same distribution network now being used for school lunches.

* Mayor Durkan announced an emergency order that on public health grounds bans all homeless people from Seattle. “I’ve been wanting to do this for years,” Durkan explained, adding, “They’re just icky, icky people.”

* Amazon, enjoying record home delivery sales, announced that they would cancel the Amazon Prime memberships of anyone who lived in a jurisdiction that dared to tax it. A panicked Congress hastily passed a new federal law prohibiting any taxation of the tech giant, and a coughing Donald Trump signed it into law. In a show of corporate responsibility, Amazon donated “dozens and dozens” of face masks to area morgues. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was not available for comment, having launched into space yesterday in an act of social distancing welcomed by all.

* In a little-noticed development, the Seattle Mariners cancelled their season.

* Puget Sound pods of orca whales were spotted Tuesday frolicking and celebrating, happy that the water was cleaner, the noise wasn’t as bad, and the humans finally had something to worry about, too.

NATIONAL

* The White House Medical Office announced that both President Trump and Vice President Pence had tested positive for COVID-19. At her weekly press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a wry smile on her face, said she would pray for them.

* Trump, defiant, tweeted that he has “Never felt better!! NOBODY ELSE HAS EVER HAD THIS VIRUS BEFORE ME!!!!! I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Vladimir and other Great Americans in fighting this virus! Make America Wait Again!!” Trump appeared at his daily press briefing, sneezing onto the podium microphone, which Dr. Anthony Fauci would then fastidiously wipe clean.

* Pence deferred hospitalization, fearing that too many nurses might be single women, and is praying at home instead.

* Two other Cabinet members tested positive: HHS Secretary Ben Carson, who is attempting to heal the virus through the laying on of hands, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is self-kwarrunteening. The remainder of the Cabinet is in self-isolation, reflexively praising Trump via Zoom.

* DeVos’ brother, former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, announced the formation of a new mercenary army to go shoot the virus.

* The city of Las Vegas, out in the middle of the desert with no purpose any longer, simply vanished yesterday.

* Frustrated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “Now I know how Puerto Rico felt.”

* With tens of millions of Americans stuck at home, major porn sites were crashing all day on Tuesday.

GLOBAL

* Fearing a second wave of infections, China took its most stringent measure yet today, banning anyone under the age of five from the People’s Republic. A spokesman explained that “while this may cause some parents to become distraught, we simply cannot afford the public health risk of having those adorable little walking, sniveling, sneezing disease vectors around.”

* North Korea announced that Kim Jong-Un had found a cure for COVID-19 while launching a ballistic missile and shooting hoops.

* Total confirmed cases worldwide jumped today to 7,774,824,639.

It’s a lot easier to compile these updates if I don’t need to check sources! An actual update coming again later today.

COVID-19 UPDATE: TUESDAY LATE NIGHT, MARCH 31

Well, March was interesting, wasn’t it? Not exactly going out like a lamb…

LOCAL

* Still no new numbers from the state as it works to resolve its data issues. Local counties: King 2,330 cases/150 deaths; Pierce 377/6; Snohomish 1,286. The Snohomish Health District does not appear to provide death totals on its web site, so I’ll need to wait for the state breakdown on that.

* DSHS purchased Paramount Rehabilitation and Nursing, a skilled nursing facility in Seattle that closed in February, for $13.5 million. It will house up to 165 residents who are currently in area hospitals, test negative for COVID-19 and could receive the level of care they require at a nursing home instead of a hospital.

* The Department of Licensing is closing all locations to the public effective today. No word on whether they’ll waive late fees for people needing to renew or get licenses, etc.

* Seattle City Council passed, unanimously, a resolution Monday urging the state and federal governments to cancel rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic. Councilmember Tammy Morales sponsored the non-binding resolution.

* Snohomish County, like King County, has postponed its deadline for property tax collection for individuals from April 30 to June 1.

* A Whidbey island nursing home is the latest center of the Puget Sound outbreak. Careage of Whidbey in Coupeville has had two residents die, and 44 other residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

NATIONAL

* A study by University of Nebraska researchers suggests that there may be airborne transmission of COVID-19. Researchers found genetic material from the virus from both inside and outside confirmed COVID-19 patients’ rooms. The findings don’t confirm airborne spread, but they offer enough of a possibility of it that more rigorous (and larger) studies are needed.

* ProPublica reports that five years ago, the Obama-led Department of Health and Human Services identified ventilators as in potentially critically short supply during a pandemic. To address that shortage, HHS signed a $13.8 million contract with a Pennsylvania manufacturer to create a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilator to stockpile for emergencies.

* Last summer, the ventilator design finally won FDA approval. But the Trump Administration hasn’t bought any of them. Instead, a higher priced “commercial” version has been sold around the world for nearly a year. And while that 2015 Obama-era HHS-identified shortage is looking prescient, American supply companies are now selling overseas the ventilators that were developed – with taxpayer funds – for as much as five times the price of the original low-cost version.

* Donald Trump’s latest campaign rally today got headlines for the estimate of 100,000 to 240,000 US deaths, but, like just about everything he says, that range is deeply misleading. The UW epidemiological modeling that range is based on assumes
THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS TAKING MITIGATION MEASURES. But, of course, it’s not, and Trump has ruled out taking national measures to mitigate COVID-19’s spread, preferring to leave it to the states (so that he can blame governors when things go pear-shaped, as he did today).

* Six states still have no stay at home measures of any kind, either statewide or locally. Another 11, including two of the three most populous states, Texas and Florida, have such orders in some urban centers but not statewide. Yet Trump went lout of his way today to praise Florida’s Republican governor for his “swift” response. One of the epidemiologists who authored that UW study says he told Florida’s governor yesterday that he needs to implement a statewide stay at home order ASAP. Not holding my breath.

* It should go without saying, but this is not the time to be playing political games.

* Yet that’s exactly what Trump appears to be doing. Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont complained today that his state – which includes part of the NYC metro area – had asked the feds for 1,500 ventilators, and gotten 50. Fifty. Louisiana wanted 5,000 ventilators. That state’s Democratic governor says he got 150, even though the New Orleans area has one of the fastest growths of cases, per capita, in the country. Other Democratic governors have made similar complaints. Meanwhile, Florida, Oklahoma, and Kentucky – home of, respectively, two Republican governors and Sen. Mitch McConnell – have reportedly gotten everything they asked for.

* Without any evidence, Trump accused “some” governors – by which he clearly meant New York’s Andrew Cuomo – of not only overstating the number of ventilators the states need, but “hoarding” them. He bragged that the national stockpile of reserve ventilators totaled 10,000 leaving out that New York state alone estimates it needs 30,000 – and insisted that the ventilators would be allocated by states’ need, which doesn’t line up at all with what’s happening on the ground.

* Trump also took the opportunity to press (again) for an infrastructure plan (“But not the Green New Deal. I won’t do that,”) and took credit for pressuring the FDA last weekend to approve chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatments. Because science is useless when what you want is to score political points. He also took credit for stopping the entry of Chinese and European travelers (“Nobody’s ever done anything like that!”), conveniently forgetting his Muslim travel ban. He blamed Obama, of course. And he blamed New York’s pandemic on Cuomo’s allegedly late start. Pot, meet kettle…

* The New York City area continued to deteriorate, with Gov. Cuomo estimating that the peak of the outbreak is at least two to three weeks away. The field hospital that began to be erected in Central Park this past weekend is, remarkably, now open. The massive Queens tennis complex, where the US Open is played, is also being converted into a field hospital.

* Yet with all of this, New York has only managed to increase its number of hospital beds from 53,000 to 75,000; the state estimates it will need 140,000 at the peak of the pandemic. Queens alone now has over 10,000 cases. Overnight New York state had over 700 new deaths, with over 1,000 now in the city alone. The state now has over 75,000 cases – only four *countries* have more.

* Boston is emerging as yet another urban hotspot. New Orleans is estimating it will run out of critical medical equipment by the end of the week. Convention centers in New Orleans, Chicago, and Detroit are being converted into field hospitals.

* A true horror show is playing out in Guam, where the massive (but cramped) aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is now docked. Over 100 of its 4,000 sailors have COVID-19, after the first sailor got sick only a week ago. Guam only has 21 ICU beds. The ship’s captain has begged the Navy to evacuate the ship; so far, the Navy has refused.

GLOBAL

* A study from China with a very small sample size indicates that COVID-19 patients treated with antibodies from recovered patients showed improvement. The technique has also appeared promising in animal studies. It needs a real clinical trial, of course, but that’s extremely promising.

* The global total of confirmed cases is now 860,181, in 180 countries, with 42,365 deaths – up nearly 5,000 in the last day. The world almost certainly will exceed a million cases Thursday.

* Countries with over 5,000 cases (Monday evening’s total in parentheses):

USA 189,624 (161,807)
Italy 105,792 (101,739)
Spain 95,723 (87,956)
China 82,294 (82,198)
Germany 71,808 (66,885)
France 52,836 (45,170)
Iran 44,481 (41,495)
UK 25,481 (22,453)
Switzerland 16,605 (15,922)
Turkey 13,531 (10,827
Belgium 12,775 (11,899)
Netherlands 12,667 (11,817)
Austria 10,180 (9,618)
South Korea 9,887 (9,661)
Canada 8,551 (7,398)
Portugal 7,443 (6,408)
Brazil 5,812 (4,579)
Israel 5,258 (4,695)
Norway (4,445)
Australia (4,361)
Sweden (4,028)

I didn’t even get to everything tonight. Much more tomorrow, and WASH YOUR HANDS!