Well, March was interesting, wasn’t it? Not exactly going out like a lamb…
* 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.
* 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.
* 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)
I didn’t even get to everything tonight. Much more tomorrow, and WASH YOUR HANDS!