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…
* 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.
* 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)
* 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