Just hours after both houses of Congress passed a 5,000 page COVID-19 relief bill; President Trump threatens to veto the legislation because it does not go far enough to help economically disadvantaged Americans.
In a brief Twitter video, Trump calls the relief bill, which passed with a vote of 92-6 in the Senate and 359-53 in the House, a “disgrace,” citing the skinny nature of the stimulus to American families and small businesses, and how long it took to pass. Almost every nay vote was cast by Republicans.
Trump criticized Democrats for ‘cruelly blocking’ COVID-19 relief legislation over the summer “in an attempt to advance their extreme left-wing agenda and influence the election.”
The bill proposes a $600 one time stimulus check for every American earning less than $75,000, and is gradually reduced for people earning less $99,000, half that of the $1,200 stimulus check earlier this year. Qualifying families will receive a $600 check for each child under 18. The relief package also includes a $300 per week unemployment insurance enhancer lasting 11-weeks.
The Paycheck Protection Program will also receive new funding to grant loans to businesses with fewer than 300 employees.
Trump said despite its name, the bill “has almost nothing to do with COVID.” He cites billions of dollars allocated for foreign aid and federally owned facilities.
“The $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments and not enough money is given to small businesses.” Trump adds, “Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries lobbyist and special interest while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn’t their fault, it was China’s fault.”
Trump is calling on Congress to increase the stimulus check from $600 to $2,000 per person, or $4,000 for a married couple, and to cut out pork from the bill.
Congress passed the COVID Relief Act with a veto proof majority, gathering together more than 2/3 of each house to vote in favor of the legislation, so regardless of Trump’s veto the bill will likely be passed into law unless Congress decides on a last minute revision.
Shortly after Trump’s Twitter statement, Speaker Pelosi came out in full support of increasing the stimulus to $2,000 per person.
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000,” Pelosi tweeted. She added that Democrats would throw “unanimous” support behind the measure.
With the Coronavirus pandemic tragically picking up steam as we head into the holiday season, many governors and mayors of major cities have introduced new restrictions on how residents celebrate their favorite holidays.
Your Thanksgiving table may be surrounded by empty chairs this year, and not because your favorite uncle insists on eating his turkey in front of the TV. In response to the feared second wave, many governors have pushed their states back into lockdown, and some, including California Governor Gary Newsom, are forcing through more draconian measures than others.
States such as New Mexico have already announced new lockdown measures while North Dakota, among others, are renewing mask mandates and travel restrictions.
On the cusp of the holiday season, many elected officials are taking more pointed approaches to limit festive activities and traditions.
Private California gatherings, like family parties, have been limited to no more than 3 households including the host family. The California Department of Public Health is also suggesting hosts “collect names of all attendees and contact information in case contact tracing is needed later.”
The CDPH is also instructing that “all gatherings must be held outside” and be limited to a duration of no more than 2 hours. Though if someone has to use the restroom, they’re allowed indoors so long as the bathrooms are frequently sanitized. Attendees must also wear masks in between bites of food, and are strongly discouraged from “singing, chanting, and shouting.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state suffered the most deaths from COVID-19, issued less specific restrictions, but still limited gathering to 10 people. New restrictions also required bars, restaurants, and gyms to close by 10:00 PM each night.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged residents to “cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans,” joining Gov. Cuomo in limiting gathering to no more than 10 people. Though she did not make these restrictions mandatory, Lightfoot left the door open to using the power of the city to enforce limitations.“I hope we don’t have to go any further than this,” she added.
No more than 3-days ago Mayor Lightfoot was seen partying in the street with a tightly compacted crowd numbering in the thousands celebrating the projection election of Joe Biden. Clearly these rules don’t apply to left-wing political protests.
Lightfoot defended her actions by saying, “everybody was wearing masks.”
“Yes, there are times when we actually do need to have … relief and come together, and I felt like that was one of those times.” Though she later made clear Thanksgiving and family gatherings are not one of those times. “That crowd was gathered whether I was there or not, but this has been a super hard year on everyone. Everyone feels traumatized.”
There is no way of knowing how strictly these rules will be enforced, if they’ll even be enforced at all.
The 7-day moving average for new Coronavirus cases has spiked from 36,000 daily cases 2-months ago to over 140,000 new cases every day. Daily deaths have risen from 761 in September to 1,100 today.
After debate arouse whether America will see a Coronavirus vaccine anytime soon, the country’s most well known infectious disease specialist and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, entered the conversation with optimistic news.
The discussion over a potential vaccine’s timeline intensified Wednesday when CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told lawmakers during a Congressional testimony on capitol hill that Americans may have to wait another year before they can get vaccinated.
“I think there will be vaccine that will initially be available some time between November and December, but very limited supply, and it will have to be prioritized,” Redfield told lawmakers. “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”
However, after the President suggested Redfield “made a mistake” with his prediction later that afternoon, the CDC released a statement somewhat backtracking on what Redfield said during the testimony.
“In today’s hearing, Dr. Redfield was answering a question he thought was in regard to the time period in which all Americans would have completed their Covid vaccination, and his estimate was by the second or third quarter of 2021,” the statement read. “He was not referring to the time period when Covid-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans.”
When asked whether Trump or Redfield were correct in their assertions, Facui said, to an extent, both were.
“The president was saying is that it is entirely conceivable that we will have an answer by October. My projection is that it would likely be November or December,” Fauci said about a COVID-19 vaccine. “Let’s say it is November, you could start in December, and you could start giving individuals who are in the high-risk (category), as well as health care workers, vaccines already starting in December into January, February. So, many of the people who actually would need the vaccine the most, the more vulnerable, could already be getting them in the beginning of the year.”
With a disease that disproportionately kills a small subgroup of Americans – the sick and elderly – while largely leaving the young and healthy with bad flu symptoms, properly allocated vaccine distributions could go a long way in cutting down virus deaths.
Unfortunately, if we focus on vaccinating the most at-risk Americans, many will have to wait in line.
“If you want to ask the question, what about getting everybody vaccinated so that we can say vaccines have now had a significant impact on how we are able to act in the sense of going back to some degree of normality — that very likely would be in the first half to the third quarter of 2021,” Fauci said.
Fauci’s timeline is shorter than Redfield, but much longer that Trump’s, leaving some room for optimism.
The federal government is hoping to distribute hundreds of millions of doses within the first few months of vaccine availability.
However, as conspiracy theories circulate, and prominent political characters such as Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris telling voters she would not trust a vaccine released during Trump’s presidency, almost half of all Americans are now telling pollsters they will not take the vaccine.
According to Pew Research, 49% of Americans would not get vaccinated, up from 27% in May. Though Republicans are more anti-vaxx than Democrats, with 56% refusing to get vaccinated compared to 42% of Democrats, both parties seem unwilling to accept the record speed medicine.
Despite the seemingly strong recovery, more than half of the businesses closed due to the COVID-19 shutdowns will not be opening their doors once life returns to normal.
Yelp’s September economic report confirmed what many of feared: small businesses lost to Coronavirus inspired shutdowns may be gone forever, or at least those listed who’re listed on the popular review website are.
Yelp’s analysis of businesses on their site found not only was there a 23% increase in closures since July 10th, but 60% of them are permanent.
By recording all the businesses open on March 1st, Yelp saw almost 180,000 businesses shut down by April 10th, 36,700 of which were already permanently out of business. While the total business shutdowns decreased significantly to 132,500 on July 10th, the number of businesses that permanently closed spiked to almost 73,000. That number continued to rise to 98,000 on August 31st, whereas 65,700 closed businesses still hope to reopen their doors one day. As states continue to relax their restrictions, it’s becoming apparent that their efforts are too little too late for many entrepreneurs.
Not all industries were hit equally, but all are struggling. “Yelp closure data shows that businesses providing home, local and professional services have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic particularly well. But despite bright spots in some sectors, restaurants and retail continue to struggle and total closures nationwide have started to increase,” the report reads.
Sectors faring relatively well “includes lawyers, real estate agents, architects, and accountants [and healthcare specialists]– all with only two to three out of every thousand businesses closed, as of August 31.”
“In fact,” Yelp adds, “the share of consumer interest in home and local services is up 24% between March 1 and August 31, relative to all categories on Yelp, compared to the same time last year.”
While home, local, professional, and auto services see less pressure, restaurants and retail stores are facing between 25 and 60 closures per 1,000 businesses. Restaurants alone account for 32,109 closures with 19,590 being permanently shut down. 3,499 bars and nightlife businesses have permanently closed as well.
Where the business is located matters too. “Bigger states and metros with higher rents and more stringent local operations for small businesses throughout the last six months have felt a greater toll.” Hawaii, California, and Nevada are the hardest hit whereas West Virginia and the Dakotas have the lowest closure rates.
“Las Vegas in Nevada, Honolulu in Hawaii, and several of the largest California urban areas all are among the metro areas with the highest total closure and permanent closure rates (San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and others), with roughly 20 businesses per thousand temporarily or permanently closing their doors since March 1.”
Though a bit outdated, Axios reported “the number of business owners between February and April [decreased by] least 3.3 million,” giving us a broader perspective of the real world impact of Coronavirus shutdowns crafted to minimize the number of illness related deaths. Back in April, MSNBC reported, “nearly 7.5 million small businesses are at risk of closing their doors permanently over the next several months if the coronavirus pandemic persists.”
“Around two-thirds of entrepreneurs said they may have to shut forever if business disruption continues at its current rate for up to five months,” consistent with Yelp’s findings four months later.
Despite the troubling findings, the U.S. unemployment rate continues to drop month over month from its high of 14.7% in April to 8.4% in August. While the unemployment rate is still higher than the sub 4% unemployment rate prior to the pandemic, it remains impressive nonetheless. However, studies like Yelp’s leaves many wondering whether we can continue this V-shaped recovery.
As America slowly reopens with many governors still heavily restricting businesses and residents, the CDC released a new report indicating almost every person who died from COVID-19 had an underlying condition.
The going notion about COVID-19’s danger to the general public has morphed from all being at equal risk of death and serious complications from this unknown adversary to researchers and scientists acknowledging the danger from Coronavirus is substantially lower for young people without preexisting conditions.
As of the end of August, 185,000 Americans have tragically died from COVID-19 or COVID-19 related complications. According to the CDC’s latest findings, “for 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned” on death certificates. However, 94% of deaths attributed to COVID-19 had multiple causes. “For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19,” the report reads, “on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”
The CDC lists the following ailments as qualifying underlying conditions:
Influenza and pneumonia
Vascular and unspecified dementia
Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events
Other medical conditions
The report also broke down the number of deaths by age and gender, once again confirming those primarily at risk from COVID-19 are the sickly and elderly. According to the report, people under the age of 24 accounted for 337 of the 164,000 reported deaths (CDC data often lags more than the up-to-date reporting by John Hopkins University) despite making up 146 million Americans whereas people over 75 accounted for over 95,000, or 58% of deaths.
Children under 15 are six times more likely to die from influenza or pneumonia than COVID-19. As K-12 schools across the United States remain closed for the 20-21 school year, one must wonder whether the fear for student safety is misguided or based on misinformation.
The CDC reports 15-24 as one age group, so we’re unable to make a full analysis of all school aged kids relative risk to Coronavirus, but even this age block mixed with teenagers and young adults is 17% more likely to die from the the flu or pneumonia than COVID-19.
While there are 84,000,000 K-College aged Americans, only 308 deaths have been associated with that age group, less than 0.002% of COVID-19 deaths nationwide.
A revelation like this has major implications for policies recommended by governors and health officials throughout the country. For starters, the decision to indiscriminately shut down industries and businesses with no real timeline for a complete reopening will be questioned as this virus does not affect all Americans equally. It’s becoming more clear that shutting down the entire economy rather than selectively shielding the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions was the wrong choice.
The average person is now left wondering whether COVID-19 is as severe on its own as we were originally told, or if it’s a disease that primarily exacerbates other already dangerous ailments.
While critics rightfully point out that even one death is tragic and too many, many fail to weigh countervailing risks. According to the New York Post, there is a “37,000 increase [in death] for each percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate. It comes from a book called Corporate Flight: The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation by Barry Bluestone, Bennett Harrison and Lawrence Baker.”
“Here’s the paragraph from Thomas’ book that applies,” the NY Post continues, “According to one study [the one by Bluestone et al.] a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate will be associated with 37,000 deaths [including 20,000 heart attacks], 920 suicides, 650 homicides, 4,000 state mental hospital admissions and 3,300 state prison admissions.”
“I would hesitate to extrapolate from the old estimates of corporate flight as a means of quantifying present circumstances,” Thomas told the NY Post in an email, adding that “there are too many variables involved now to assert definitive cause and effect between unemployment and the litany of health consequences cited in the 1981 study.” But “it informs our thinking about some of the potential problems that may accompany this wave of joblessness.”
Though factors are different now than back in 1981 when the study was conducted, the effects of lockdown will likely last for decades to come.
After a second Coronavirus wave started in mid-June, which resulted in a recent rise in deaths, the number of new cases finally began to drop, especially in states hardest hit in this ‘second wave.’
While states like Florida, Arizona, and Texas have had a fraction of the number of nationwide deaths nationwide and were have seen far fewer deaths than states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, who combined account for almost 40% of the United State’s COVID-19 deaths, the trio, along with California, have led a three fold spike in new daily cases.
However, over the last week, all four states’ new daily cases have been on the decline. That decrease is being echoed on the national level as well.
While New York and New Jersey were hit fast and hard in the pandemic’s early days, resulting in over 48,000 deaths, almost all happening before June, Southern states were spared from the virus’s early rampage. When politicians aimed to ‘flatten the curve,’ Cuomo and Murphy oversaw the high peaked case and death curve Fauci warned us to avoid while DeSantis and Abbott avoided having their healthcare system and nursing homes overrun by patients before being able to increase hospital capacity.
Up until the start of the second wave, Texas’s daily death count hovered around 75, Florida saw an average of 40 deaths per day, and Arizona lost less than 20 lives a day. During the same period, Northern states lost nearly 1,000 lives each day.
Though the increase in cases can be partially attributed to an increase in tests, which shot up from approximately 150,000 tests a day during the first wave to over 800,000 tests each day now.
While some of the recent spike can be explained by higher testing availability, a higher percent of new tests are positive compared to the recent trough of new daily cases and deaths which spanned from early May to Mid-June. Though the recent increase in percent positive tests pale in comparison to the early days of the pandemic.
Nonetheless, it’s very likely, considering the lack of early testing and information gathered through antibody survey’s of hotspots like New York and California, that the supposed first wave of cases grossly unestimated the daily infections. The IHME estimates nearly 250,000 people were infected each day in late March while approximately 115,000 people are infected daily in late July. Both estimates surpass confirmed cases, but it suggests the early outbreak was more severe – case-wise – than our second wave. Because deaths are a lagging indicator it’s too early to make that call.
While recorded cases did spike, they’ve started a slow and early decline, and that decline is most evident in state identified by the media as leaders in the second wave.
Deaths, a lagging indicator, which didn’t start its climb until almost 6-weeks after cases spiked, are still rising, but that’s to be expected. Wednesday’s daily death count of 1,450 is still less than half of the high point back in April.
According to Worldometer, the 7-day rolling average of new cases is down from 69,000 to 66,000 and has remained flat and slightly on the downtrend for 2-weeks. New Florida cases peaked on July 17th with almost 12,000 and has since declined to barley 10,000 new cases. Texas followed a similar path, declining from an average of 10,000 new cases on July 15th to about 8,000 new cases today. In Arizona, that number decreased from 3,700 daily cases to 2,500 cases today, and California peaked last week with 10,250 cases and fell to a 7-week average of 9,700 cases each day today.
Both deaths and new cases appear to be cyclical. High points are usually Tuesday and Wednesday while low points are Sunday and Monday. Week over week, deaths are still ticking up, but new cases are falling.
Deaths are still rising in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, but the three states combined only make up 10.8% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. despite being the center of the media’s attention over the last two months.
According to IHME’s mobility estimates, American’s decreased their mobility – which means they spend less time outside, in stores, at work, etc. – by 55% between March 1st and April 9th. From there, people began returning to their normal lives. On May 1st, the first lockdown restrictions were lifted nationwide in Georgia with Texas, Florida, and Colorado soon to follow. California, where cases also spiked, were much more reluctant to lift any restrictions. But it would take over six weeks for cases to rise despite the Coronavirus incubation period only lasting 3-days before patients start showing symptoms. The spike in cases only started about two weeks after Memorial Day weekend and after millions of Americans congregated coast to coast in Black Lives Matter protests. IHME estimates our mobility was down 25% from March 1st when cases began to climb on June 17th and remained consistent over the following 6-weeks.
The stock market rallied on Tuesday after a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed one Coronavirus vaccine in development was effectively able to produce antibodies in every person who was administered the new drug.
In the race to develop a viable vaccine against Coronavirus, the U.S. based pharmaceutical company Moderna seems to be pulling ahead. On July 14th the company announced the conclusion of a limited Phase 1 trial where all 45 participants developed antibodies following two rounds of injections. This is the first of soon to be many Coronavirus vaccines tested on humans.
Antibodies are molecules developed within the immune system designed to inhibit foreign bacteria and viruses from spreading within the body. In some cases the immune system can take weeks or even months to naturally produce antibodies after being infected leaving the body at the mercy of the virus. “The Moderna vaccine uses genetic material from the virus, called mRNA, to prompt the immune system to fight the coronavirus,” according to the New York Times.
Vaccines work by introducing weakened portions of the virus into the body so our immune system can develop antibodies long before we ever encounter the full powered virus. Having these antibodies will shorten and lessen the intensity of a Coronavirus infection if the virus is able to take root at all.
The New York Times added, “Moderna’s vaccine, developed with researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans, and the company announced on Tuesday that large Phase 3 tests of it would begin on July 27, involving 30,000 people. Half of the participants will be a control group who will receive placebo.”
In order to speed up what would otherwise be a long and tedious study, Moderna may deploy the testing into newly formed Coronavirus hotspots where the odds of a vaccinated person coming into contact with an infected person in amplified.
Even though Moderna seems to be leading the pack, “experts agree that more than one vaccine will be needed, because no single company could produce the billions of doses needed,” the NY TImes added.
In the study, “all of the participants developed so-called neutralizing antibodies, which can inactivate the virus in lab tests. The levels of those antibodies were similar to those in the upper range in patients who had recovered from coronavirus infections.” People taking the vaccine had the same antibody response and production as those who were already infected and successfully fought off the Coronavirus.
Side effects included, fatigue, chills, headaches, muscle aches and pain at the injection site, and fever, but this list is similar to that of the annual flu vaccine, and all symptoms seem much less severe than actually getting infected.
Though vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, a person who already has antibodies is better prepared to either fight off the infection for the first time or combat reexposure.
A U.S. district judge ordered ICE on Friday to release children held with their parents at immigration detention centers due to perceived the risk of detained children contracting Coronavirus.
According to Fox News, “U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s order applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some have been detained since last year.” This ruling comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump Administration’s move to rescind the Obama-era DACA policy giving immunity to illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children if they meet certain requirements,
Judge Gee set a deadline of July 17th for children to be released from the three U.S. holding facilities if they’ve resided there for more than 20 days to either their parents or an approved sponsor. Two of the three family detention centers – two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania – have seen about a dozen combined confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus. Over 2,500 people detained by ICE have tested positive for Coronavirus this year.
Currently, 124 children are detained at the centers in questions, “which are separate from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services facilities for unaccompanied children that were holding around 1,000 children in early June.”
The Trump Administration has been swiftly expelling migrants who attempt to enter the U.S. illegally in recent months because of the threat Coronavirus infection poses to U.S. citizens. The Associated Press reports, “border agents have been quickly placing children and teenagers on deportation flights instead of turning them over to federal facilities for placement with sponsors.” The administration’s swift removal of border crossers contributes to the lower than usual population in holding facilities.
According to Fox, “Gee’s order says ICE can decline to release a child if there is not a suitable sponsor, the child’s parent waives rights under the Flores agreement, or if there is a ‘prior unexplained failure to appear at a scheduled hearing.'” However, most migrant parents have refused to designate a sponsor for their children.
Advocates for the migrant children are calling for a de facto release of all migrants who enter the U.S. with children, claiming it would be wrong to both separate children from their families in order to live with sponsors and to keep families detained together leaving no viable option other than releasing all detainees.
Despite complaints, the Associated Press also wrote, “ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.”
“In court filings last month, ICE said it considered most of the people in family detention to be flight risks because they had pending deportation orders or cases under review,” according to Fox News.
Statistically, children under 18 have the lowest risk of contracting Coronavirus and developing complications from the illness. They’re also the most likely to recover as this illness primarily affects the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
Rule #1 for mitigating the spread of and deaths from the Coronavirus has always been ‘protect the nursing homes’. It should go without saying a facility that houses the elderly, the sick, and the sickly elderly who are no longer able to care for themselves would be the easiest target for a virus that disproportionately kills the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
According to CDC data, those over the age of 85 accounted for over 1/3 of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide. This trend is reflected in all states and all areas where outbreaks are present. 40% of New York’s COVID-19 deaths were people over 80, and 65% were over 70. New York is considered the epicenter of the U.S.’s outbreak, accounting for a quarter of America’s infections and 1/3 of deaths.
Still in New York, 89% of patients who succumbed to COVID-19 had a preexisting condition ranging from diabetes to heart disease, obesity, and frequently cancer. Of New York’s 23,000 deaths, only 14 were under the age of 20. Only 406, or 1.8% of deaths, were under 40.
New York’s huge wave of infections and subsequent deaths may be partially explained by their high population density. Cases are concentrated in the Big Apple with relatively low rates of infection in the far more rural upstate New York. Places where people are indoors and in close proximity are the most at-risk.
New Jersey, an equally dense state, experienced an equally massive number of infections and deaths. New York saw 18,500 cases and almost 1,500 deaths per million residents so far while New Jersey has a close 17,200 cases and 1,300 deaths per million residents; both are more than 4x higher than the national average.
States are seeing a common theme of where cases and deaths are taking place: nursing homes. The writing was on the wall for weeks and months leading up to the peak. Nursing homes are notorious for disease outbreak: old people with a laundry list of preexisting conditions and weakened immune systems from age, illness, and medications is who the virus primarily kills. This is true with COVID, this is true with the flu, this is true with every infectious disease; COVID’s preferred target is nothing new to doctors.
In New Jersey, the second hardest hit state, NJ.com reported, “more than 40% of the coronavirus deaths in the state have been tied to long-term care settings,” or approximately 1 in 13 residents of NJ nursing homes. That’s a shocking figure, and extremely preventable.
While NJ Gov. Phil Murphy [D] is blaming the owners of nursing homes, saying “the performance by the operators has been extremely disappointing — not in every case, but in too many cases. Uneven. Disappointing. Lacking in communication, lacking in basic blocking and tackling.”
An investigation into Murphy’s reponse to Coronavirus found:
Knowing nursing home residents were at grave risk, state inspectors did not begin making on-site inspections until April 16, according to officials — 36 days after New Jersey reported its first death and not until reports surfaced that one nursing facility was storing 17 bodies in a makeshift morgue. Asked why teams were not sent earlier, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in mid-April they did not have proper-fitting masks. She later said the state gave hospitals first dibs on protective equipment, leaving a short supply of ill-fitting masks for nursing home inspectors.
Nursing homes were short-changed for weeks on deliveries of protective masks and other equipment, known as PPE, which state and nursing home officials concede remains in critically short supply at dozens of facilities — increasing the chances of viral spread from resident to resident, according to nursing home operators and industry officials. “We were told flat-out, ‘No PPE for you, just hospitals,’” said the president of the state’s long-term care industry association.
When nursing home operators urgently called for staffing help, they said they received little assistance. Unlike other states, the Murphy administration did not move to deploy the National Guard into nursing homes until early May, and Guard members did not arrive until May 7 — weeks after at least six other states and more than two months after the first death in New Jersey.
The state Health Department did not announce until earlier this month it would conduct widespread testing of nursing home residents, even as an increasing share of the coronavirus deaths were coming from long-term care facilities. Nursing home operators said they desperately needed test kits, but said the state failed to respond to repeated requests.
The Health Department refused to publish a list of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths by facility until three weeks after families — prevented from visiting their loved ones since March 14 — pleaded with officials to force operators to let them know what was going on inside the nursing homes. Families desperate for information claimed in many cases, the first word they got was after a loved one was already critically ill.
A startling number of nursing home workers have succumbed to the virus. State data compiled by the Department of Health provided to NJ Advance Media show as of May 11 at least 89 nursing home employees have died from the coronavirus. Nearly 9,000 have tested positive for COVID-19.
Murphy ignored nursing home’s request for PPE and testing, forced potentially infected patients into the facilities, focused resources on closing public parks and issuing citations to protestors, leading to unnecessary death.
Unfortunately NJ is not unique. According to WKYC “70 percent of all Ohio COVID-19 deaths were patients of long-term care facilities, a toll so high the state is now conducting mass testing of residents and staff.” 81% of Minnesota’s COVID deaths are in nursing homes, and that number hits 90% in Connecticut. States with lower population densities are seeing almost all of their deaths in these facilities whereas states with large numbers of densely populated cities are seeing a lot of cases not associated with nursing homes because so many people are in such close proximity of each other; another primary cause of the spread. Though most young people are asymptomatic, widespread infections in densely populated urban settings increase the odds of a higher sum of death.
According to the New York Times, “at least 28,100 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States.” At the time of publication, there were 81,000 deaths nationwide; nursing home fatalities accounted for 1/3 of all nursing home deaths.
“In 14 states, the number of residents and workers who have died accounts for more than half of all deaths from the virus.”
While every death is a tragedy, not traunching populations by risk level when infection risk and death rates is pure negligence and incompetence resulting in the failure to take preventative action to protect people most susceptible to the virus. Yet while Gov. Cuomo [NY-D], Gov. Murphy [NJ-D], Gov. Newsom [CA-D], etc. worried about ventilators, they actively put the most vulnerable at risk.
While states requested tens of thousands of ventilators, the peak came and went. Governors and Mayors, like NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio [D] openly admit they only needed a fraction of what was expected. According to PolitFact, “there hadn’t been any cases where their hospitals couldn’t provide ventilators to COVID-19 patients who needed them, or they weren’t aware of any.” The media had criticized Trump for both not deploying enough ventilators during the early weeks of the outbreak and for suggesting the models predicting how many will be needed was too high. He was right.
It’s no surprise Democrats in major states are being trotted out as heros of the pandemic while making crucial errors resulting in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of old people. Cuomo, who’s been put on a media pedestal since late March, told reporters “my mother is not expendable” when asked about possible reopenings of the state, insisting any initiative to do so would put the elderly at risk.
However, according to the New York Times, “California, New Jersey and New York have made nursing homes accept Covid-19 patients from hospitals,” putting the elderly and most vulnerable at substantially greater risk than opening beaches, a move which drew heavy criticism to Gov. Ron DeSantis [FL-R] and has not resulted in any spikes in infection.
In fact, Florida has not seen any spike in cases or deaths since partially reopening with social distancing measures in place.
According to the National Review, “Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.” Yet, DeSantis was blasted on a daily basis by media pundits who blamed him for the tsunami of new infections that never came whereas Cuomo’s approach was littered with failures from his nursing home policy to waiting until early May to close and clean the subway system. Guess who’s praised as the ‘strong leader of the pandemic’ by the media.
DeSantis focused on protecting vulnerable populations without imposing overburdened regulations and restrictions on the rest of the population, successfully resulting in one of the lowest rates of infection and death for such a major state.
Under these directives, each implemented by their respective state’s health department, nursing homes were required to admit COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals. It’s hard to estimate how many deaths were caused by these policies and how many lives could have been saved if COVID positive patients weren’t required to be admitted, but in retrospect these policies fail the initial smell test. It’s a rotten idea on its face considering the demographics and risks associated with the elderly. Though because these directives were put in place by Democrats, the failures are swept under the rug.
The Port of Seattle Police Department placed an officer on administrative leave earlier last week for posting a video online urging fellow officers to not enforce Washington State’s ‘stay at home’ order.
In his May 6th video posted on Instagram, Officer Graham Anderson said he was outraged by witnessing fellow law enforcement officers enforcing “tyrannical orders against the people.” Everyday activities like going to church, walking in a park, opening up your business, going to the beach, etc. are being strictly prohibited in states across the country due to the ongoing lockdown from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Though some states have begun easing restrictions, Officer Anderson said governors and mayors had no right to enact mandatory lockdowns to begin with.
“I don’t know what crime people are committing doing nails in their own house,” he continued, citing a case where undercover officers forced a woman who was running nail services from her own home to cease operation.
“We need to start looking at ourselves as officers and ask if what we’re doing is right. Regardless of where you stand on Coronavirus we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or governor tells you otherwise,” he added.
“We don’t get to violate people’s constitutional rights… its not how this country works.”
Anderson called the enforcement of lockdowns “de facto arrests” for practicing constitutional rights. He calls restrictions against attending church services and bans on public assemblies violations of our 1st Amendment rights. Police have been setting up checkpoints where officers check for documentation proving those on the road are “essential workers,” which Anderson called “illegal” as they’re unwarranted searches and violate the 4th Amendment.
He’s also concerned with public perception arising from unjust enforcement of lockdowns and any potential tension that may aries. Arrests and citations for going to the beach are “widening the gap between public trust and law enforcement” making his job harder and more dangerous as people begin resenting officers for the laws they enforce. He fears this can also cause an uprising from people.
Anderson later posted a second video explaining the fallout from the situation.
Initially, Anderson’s commanding officers supported his message, but as the video started gaining traction he was ordered to take it down. After refusing to do so, he was placed on paid administrative leave for “insubordination,” according to Graham’s follow-up video.
In a statement, Chief Rod Covey of the Port of Seattle Police Department said, “Officer Greg Anderson is on paid administrative leave while we look into allegations that he violated our policy on the use of social media.” He added, Anderson “is clearly a good police officer and an exceptional American. That said, as a police officer wearing one of our uniforms, his right to speech has limitations on which he has been well-trained and that he has understood since joining the policing profession.”
Chief Covey continues, “Greg has always had the ability to express his opinions on what is going on in the country like all other Americans. However, he is not allowed to do so while on duty, wearing our uniform, wearing our badge and while driving our patrol car. Every police officer in the country understands that. I personally told this to Greg and told him that I would support his right to talk about these issues as long as he did so while not claiming any affiliation to our police department. Greg has chosen this course of action even after he and I spoke and while also knowing that his actions were outside of well-established policy.”
According to The Hill, Washington, “the site of one of the first outbreaks of the virus in the U.S., has relaxed some restrictions in its rural areas, but the Seattle lockdown order remains in place, and both Seattle and King County residents will be encouraged to wear masks in public beginning May 18. King is not among the counties that have been approved to begin phase two of Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) reopening plan, projected to begin no earlier than June 1.”