Confirmed cases in the US approach half a million, and worldwide, 1.5 million – meaning the richest country in the world also has almost a third of its COVID-19 cases. And the fractured, state-by-state approach has made things much, much worse.
* Washington state now has 9,097 confirmed cases, with 421 deaths. Local counties: King, 3,668 cases/242 deaths; Pierce, 759/15; Snohomish, 1,651/62.
* That much-touted field hospital under CenturyLink Field? Gov. Inslee announced today that the facility, built in record time by the Army Corps of Engineers only last week, is being disassembled without ever seeing a patient, to be redeployed in another area where the need is greater. The Army Corps has also built field hospitals in the past week in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and other hard-hit cities. Inslee cautioned that the decision didn’t mean that the Seattle area was “out of the woods” – only that other parts of the country now have a greater need.
*Twenty-seven people have tested positive for COVID-19 in King County homeless shelters, according to King County Health.The Lazarus Center in North Beacon Hill, a shelter run by Catholic Community Services, has 12 confirmed cases; a temporary county overflow shelter at Boeing Field, also run by CCS, has another six.
* Kaiser Permanente’s hospital pharmacy at its Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, a western suburb of Portland, has been closed after seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19. In a hospital pharmacy? How does this happen?
* The Trump press briefings have continued to be a window into the president’s soul, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
* Cautious optimism: The new hospitalizations in New York today are less than one-third those of yesterday – 1,886 Tuesday to 586 today. Tuesday’s total was, in turn, down from the apparent peak this past weekend. Hopefully that’s because fewer people are getting seriously ill, rather than the hospital beds being too full for new admissions.
* While New York may be nearing its peak, the governor of New Jersey says his state’s peak is at least ten days away – and they are desperately short of ventilators. Cases among New Jersey medical staff have doubled in the last six days. More people have died in the New York City metro area than in the rest of the US combined.
* More racial disparities: COVID-19 is twice as deadly among blacks and Latinos in New York City as among whites. Yesterday, Trump completely dodged a question on the topic. The CDC is not tracking racial data during the pandemic.
* The federal Office of Civil Rights said today that Alabama’s guidelines for who should receive prioritized medical care were discriminatory. The guidelines list, among the criteria for withholding care, “profound mental retardation” and “moderate to severe dementia.” Age is also mentioned as weighing against elderly patients. The state has agreed to pull the guidelines from its materials on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
* California sent additional ventilators today to Nevada, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that of the 41,000 additional ventilators the state had obtained for the pandemic, only 1,000 of them came from the federal government.
* Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an order for at least a week, the first of its kind in the country, requiring anyone entering an essential business to be wearing a face mask. Some European countries had already taken that step.
* Arkansas is one of the last states to resist stay-at home orders. Today its Republican governor issued an order preventing local jurisdictions from issuing more stringent restrictions. Kansas, home of infamous Westboro Baptist Church, went Arkansas one better: its Republican-controlled state legislature not only overturned the Democratic governor’s social distancing measures, but specifically exempted churches – just in time for packed churches on Easter! “G̶o̶d̶ ̶h̶a̶t̶e̶s̶ ̶f̶a̶g̶s̶!” “God hates viruses!”
* The government of Puerto Rico is now trying to get back a $19 million deposit it says it paid on a $38 million order for one million COVID-19 tests that weren’t FDA-approved and didn’t arrive on time. Puerto Rico has 513 confirmed cases – but on a crowded, impoverished island of three million, fewer than 5,000 people have been tested. But, you know, it’s a really big ocean. I’m sure paper towels would help.
* The Cook County Jail in Chicago, the largest one-site jail complex in the US, is now the largest known source of US infections. At least 353 cases can be linked to the jail, including 238 inmates and 115 staff members at the facility itself. The actual numbers are likely much higher due to a lack of testing. Ten days ago, the facility only had two confirmed cases. Advocates and family members have filed a lawsuit seeking the early release of older inmates and those whose medical conditions which make them vulnerable. Several other states have already released such prisoners.
* A Chicago Tribune article points out what is likely a problem in many other states beyond Illinois, and is likely affecting millions of people: SNAP (food stamp) recipients must pay for groceries in person – depending on the grocer, they might still be able to get groceries delivered, but the food can’t be paid for online. The SNAP programs are administered individually by states, with funding being steadily whittled down by the Trump Administration.
* Food banks are also being hit hard during the pandemic. Demand nationally is up about 60 percent, while donations that food banks rely on from grocery stores are down due to the high demand. Food banks are also often running short of volunteers.
* Top ten states (Monday’s totals in parentheses). Georgia and Texas have passed Washington, which is now 12th. New York state would now have the second-most cases in the world (after the US, of course); New Jersey would be ninth.
New York 149,428 (131,815)
New Jersey 47,437 (41,090)
Michigan 18,970 (17,221)
California 17,775 (16,310)
Louisiana 17,030 (14,867)
Pennsylvania 16,631 (13,127)
Florida 15,446 (13,629)
Massachusetts 15,202 (13,837)
Illinois 13,553 (12,262)
* A day after Donald Trump inexplicably attacked the World Health Organization as “China-centric” and threatened to withhold US funding from the UN agency, the head of the WHO warned today against “politicizing” the pandemic: “If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.”
* The WHO criticized Trump in late January for his decision to block travel from China – a move Trump continues to take credit for, even though *at best* it only bought additional time for the US to prepare – time the Trump administration failed to use. At all.
* Trump’s threat to defund the WHO also ignored that his administration already eliminated US funding for the WHO’s office for epidemic response – for the last three years.
* Scientists in at least 45 different countries are now working on a COVID-19 vaccine.
* A Harvard University study of over 3,000 US counties found that even a slight increase in long-term exposure to air pollution – even controlling for factors like smoking and population density – can have up to a 15 percent increase in the likelihood of patients dying from COVID-19. The findings have implications far beyond major US cities; countries like India and China, for example, would expect to have higher mortality rates.
* Cal Tech seismologists say the quieting of the world’s cities has been so profound that seismometers are picking up the difference – from 20 to 40 percent quieter, depending on the location.
* After a marathon 16-hour teleconference meeting, the foreign ministers of 19 European Union countries failed to agree on an economic plan to help the many EU countries whose economies have been decimated by the pandemic.
* UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care tonight and is “responding to treatment,” according to a British spokesman
* Up to 150 members of the Saudi royal family may also have contracted COVID-19, including a prince who is the governor of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia also announced a cease-fire to its brutal five-year-long, US-supported war in Yemen. Yemen is one of only a handful of remaining countries with no confirmed COVID-19 cases – but with widespread poverty and hunger and no real public health system remaining, it is one of the countries feared to be most vulnerable to the pandemic.
* The South Korean government says that at least 51 COVID-19 patients in Daegu, South Korea – the center of that country’s outbreak – have tested positive for the disease after they were thought to have recovered. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it believes that the patients were not reinfected, but rather, that the infection was re-activated after remaining dormant in the patients.
* Mexico announced today that it had lost nearly 350,000 jobs since mid-March due to the pandemic. Areas that rely on North American tourism were hit particularly hard.
* The global total of confirmed cases is 1,484,811, with 88,538 deaths in 184 countries.
* Countries with over 6,000 cases (Monday’s total in parentheses):
USA 432,132 (368,376)
Spain 148,220 (136,675)
Italy 139,422 (132,547)
Germany 113,296 (103,375)
France 112,950 (98,984)
China 82,867 (82,697)
Iran 64,586 (60,500)
UK 61,474 (52,279)
Turkey 38,226 (30,217)
Belgium 23,403 (20,914)
Switzerland 23,280 (21,657)
Netherlands 20,682 (18,926)
Canada 19,290 (16,667)
Brazil 16,188 (12,232)
Portugal 13,141 (11,730)
Austria 12,492 (12,297)
South Korea 10,423 (10,331)
Israel 9,404 (8,904)
Russia 8,672 (6,343)
Sweden 8,419 (7,206)
Ireland 6,074 (5,364)
Norway 6,042 (5,865
Australia 6,019 (5,846)
WASH YOUR HANDS AGAIN!