Happy Easter! Washington state passes 10,000 cases, and approaches 500 deaths.
More later today – still catching up on yesterday’s news. There was a lot of it!
* Washington state now has 10,224 confirmed cases, with 491 deaths. Local counties: King, 4,241 cases/284 deaths; Pierce, 884/17; Snohomish, 1,798/68
* The Washington State Supreme Court ordered* Gov. Inslee to take “all necessary steps” to protect the state’s inmates from COVID-19. For weeks, Inslee has resisted calls to release early those inmates near the end of their sentences and who are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.
* All 50 states now have federal emergency declarations – the first time in US history that’s happened.
* The US passed Italy yesterday and now has the most COVID-19 deaths (as well as the most cases) in the world.
* For the first time Saturday, Donald Trump skipped his usual press briefing. He probably didn’t want any questions about churches on Easter. Factcheckers across the land breathed a sigh of relief.
* Friday, after again pushing for the country to “reopen,” Trump was asked by a reporter what metrics he would use in making such a decision – which public health experts unanimously oppose. Trump pointed to his own head and said the only relevant metrics were “right here.”
* That, in a nutshell, is why the federal pandemic response has gone so terribly wrong.
* The White House Saturday denied the US Postal Service’s request for an $80 billion bailout. USPS estimates that with the impact of the pandemic, it will go broke by September without federal help.For decades, congressional Republicans have been trying to defund the post office and break its unions. Maybe this time they’ll succeed.
* A month after Donald Trump claimed, much to Google’s surprise, that the company was developing a web site for COVID-19, Saturday Google and Apple announced a joint project which would allow voluntary users to download an app that will show them whether they’ve been near someone diagnosed with COVID-19. China and South Korea have used similar, government-issued apps in contact tracing efforts as part of their response to those countries’ outbreaks.
* Saturday morning, Kansas’ Supreme Court upheld the governor’s ban on religious gatherings after she filed suit yesterday to overturn Republican legislators’ decision to exempt packed Easter services from that state’s stay at home order.
* The Republican governors of Florida and Texas are parroting President Trump’s calls to “reopen” the economy in their states. Both have among the nation’s top ten caseloads despite relatively little testings having been done. Texas has the second-lowest testing rate per capita in the country; Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, has only four testing sites. Both Texas and Indiana are suffering shortages of the swabs needed to administer tests. Manatee County, Florida, on the southern edge of Tampa Bay, announced that it was reopening public boat ramps.
* Texas abortion providers are appealing to the US Supreme Court a lower federal court ruling that upheld the state of Texas’ classification of abortion as “elective surgery,” and thus effectively banned during the pandemic. Alabama, Ohio, and Oklahoma – all Republican-controlled, of course – have enacted similar bans.
* For the past two days, I’ve been highlighting stories from prisons and nursing homes – the two types of facility perhaps most vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks. In both cases, more stories have emerged.
* NBC News tallies over 2,200 nursing homes, veterans’ homes or long-term care facilities, in 36 states, with confirmed COVID-19 cases among its residents and/or staff. Overall, the US has about 15,000 such facilities.
* A Southeast Portland nursing home is the source of 10 COVID-19 deaths, and nursing homes overall account for nearly half of Oregon’s deaths from COVID-19. A home in Alabama has 36 cases. Twenty-nine were infected, and five have died so far, at a home in Louisville, Kentucky.
* Three nursing homes in Elizabeth, New Jersey have, among them, 45 confirmed cases.
* A nursing home in Anderson. Indiana has 24 deaths.
* Another prison disturbance yesterday, this one at a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, one of the worst-hit facilities in the federal prison system. At the Otay Mesa detention center near California’s Mexican border, a private for-profit facility, inmates say they were pepper-sprayed for trying to make homemade masks – and were asked by CoreCivic, the company that owns the prison, to sign a waiver absolving the company of any responsibility should the inmates fall ill. CoreCivic dropped the waiver demand when it was made public. So far, 16 people have tested positive at Otay Mesa.
* Michigan’s main state prison, the Parnell prison in Jackson MI, now has 194 confirmed cases.
* Inmates at the Franklin County, Pennsylvania jail have begun a hunger strike to get better safety measures in place against the spread of the virus.
* The New York Times counts a total of 1,324 confirmed cases – that’s with almost no testing – and 32 deaths behind bars, as of Saturday, during the pandemic.
* More evidence that the pandemic is hitting non-white communities much, much harder than it is whites: In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, which is 28 percent black, 73 percent of all deaths have been black. Similar disparities have been recorded in Chicago, in Michigan, and in Louisiana.
* In New York City, 1/3 of all COVID-19 deaths have been of Latinx people. On on the Navajo Nation, the country’s most populous reservation, there are as many confirmed cases as there are in the entire neighboring state of New Mexico – which has 18 times its population.
* These figures are local and anecdotal precisely because the federal government isn’t tracking such data.
* The musician and producer Babyface announced that he had contracted COVID-19, but has now recovered.
* Top ten states (Friday’s totals in parentheses).
New York 188,902 (161,807)
New Jersey 58,151 not updated
Michigan 23,993 (21,504)
Pennsylvania 22,938 (18,633)
Massachusetts 22,860 (18,941)
California 22,424 (20,069)
Louisiana 20,595 (18,283)
Florida 19,347 (16,826)
Illinois 19,180 (16,422)
Texas 13,509 (11,483)
* The global total of confirmed cases is 1,835,373, in 185 countries, with 113,362 deaths. The total number of cvases will likely pass two million tomorrow.
* The World Health Organization says it will investigate a South Korean report that scores of recovered COVID-19 patients have fallen ill with the disease again. South Korean officials have said they doesn’t believe the patients were reinfected; rather, they believe the virus may have gone dormant for a period.
* As in the United States, leaders around the world are needing to navigate the tension between what’s best for the economy, and what’s best for public health. In Europe, a number of hard-hit countries believe they are at or near their peak. France saw a drop in ICU cases yesterday for the third day in a row. Italy will allow some businesses to reopen Tuesday. Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Norway are considering similar measures. Spain will allow some nonessential employees to return to work tomorrow.
* Meanwhile, Iran – which few experts believe is anywhere near its peak – is beginning a “phased reopening” of businesses on Monday. Globally, all eyes are on China, which was the first to ease social distancing restrictions, to see whether that country acted too soon.
* Other countries with, generally, still expanding outbreaks took additional measures Saturday. Israel halted all air traffic. India extended its lockdown an additional three weeks. Turkey imposed a two-day curfew in 31 of its provinces.
* France passed Germany for fourth place globally, and the United Kingdom passed both Iran and China and is now sixth, meaning that five of the six worst-hit countries in the world are in Europe. (The other, of course, is the US). Russia and India are adding cases at an alarming rate. Countries with over 9,000 cases (Friday’s total in parentheses):
USA 547,681 (473,093)
Spain 166,019 (157,022)
Italy 156,363 (143,626)
France 133,669 (118.790)
Germany 127,007 (119,401)
UK 85,199 (65,883)
China 83,134 (82,941)
Iran 71,686 (68,192)
Turkey 56,959 (42,282
)Belgium 29,647 (26,667)
Netherlands 25,746 (23,245)
Switzerland 25,407 (24,427)
Canada 24,290 (21,243)
Brazil 21,065 (18,176)
Portugal 16,565 (15,472)
Russia 15,770 (11,917)
Austria 13,945 (13,520)
Israel 11,145 (10,095)
South Korea 10,512 (10,450)
Sweden 10,483 (9,685)
Ireland 9,655 (6,574)
India 9,205 (<6,000) Go suck an egg. By yourself. And then WASH YOUR HANDS!