NY Attorney General Accuses Cuomo of Covering up 4,000 COVID Deaths from Nursing Homes; Cuomo’s Response: ‘Who Cares?’

Republican leaders call for resignations of Cuomo, Zucker after nursing  home report | WRGB

After months of being lauded by the media for his response to New York’s coronavirus outbreak, a new report by the state’s Attorney General claims that not only did NY Governor Andrew Cuomo cover up the number of nursing home deaths, but his policies may have directly resulted in the state’s unnecessarily high death count.

Earlier this week, NYS Attorney General Letitia James released a detailed report detailing how the state undercounted the number of nursing home deaths by nearly 50%.

According to the New York Times, James “reported on Thursday morning that Mr. Cuomo’s administration had undercounted coronavirus-related deaths of state nursing home residents by the thousands.”

Up until now, New York State only included nursing home resident deaths occurring inside nursing homes as ‘nursing home deaths.’ Residents who contracted COVID-19 inside a nursing home, but sadly died in a hospital or anywhere offsite were not counted.

“Health Department officials made public new data that added more than 3,800 deaths to their tally,” the NY Times added, “representing nursing home residents who had died in hospitals and had not previously been counted by the state as nursing home deaths.”

The Associated Press detailed Cuomo’s secrecy around nursing home deaths back in August, acknowledging this led “to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire.” The numbers being reported seemed too fishy and too low to be complete.

Total nursing home deaths were believed to be just shy of 9,000 statewide. Following the publishing of James’ report, NY Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released a revised death count. NY Department of Health now estimates 12,743 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 as of January 19th, representing 30% of state deaths.

State directives may have been a contributing factor to this high death toll. “A New York state mandate [required] nursing homes to accept those recovering from COVID-19, even if they still might be contagious,” NBC reported back in April. On March 25th, Cuomo’s health department required nursing homes to admit recently recovered COVID patients, possibly exposing still contagious individuals to the most vulnerable population.

As of May, 2020, 6,300 recovering COVID patients were sent back into nursing homes. Cuomo’s directive was reversed in early May after widespread outcry. The Governor lied on multiple occasions about the nature of this directive, enough for even CNN to fact check his statements.

Few regular network news viewers would tell you they haven’t seen Cuomo’s daily Coronavirus briefings and PowerPoints broadcasted from Albany. The governor’s daily presentations were so popular among media pundits and left wing viewers that Cuomo actually won an Emmy for them.

While the media gawked at the supposedly “facts first” messaging, New York was ravished. By early April, 1,000 New Yorkers were dying each day from Coronavirus related complications. No other state, even at their worst, has come close to that number. California’s worst day saw no more than 750 deaths; Texas maxed out below 500. Florida, a state criticized by every major outlet for allegedly botching their response, never surpassed 300 COVID-19 deaths a day.

On a per capita basis, New York, which experienced a cumulative 2,238 deaths per million residence is the second worst state, behind only New Jersey with 2,416 deaths per million residents. Florida, the media’s punching bag, is ranked 26th with 1,227 deaths per million residents. Every death is tragic, even one is too many, but it’s clear some states handled their response better than others.

When confronted Friday about AG James’ new report during his Emmy winning daily briefings, Cuomo gave a dismissive and unsympathetic response, telling journalists “who cares” about getting the number of nursing home deaths correct.

“If you look at New York state, we have a lower percentage of deaths in nursing homes than other states,” Cuomo said after reporters brought up the report.

“A third of all deaths in this nation are from nursing homes. New York state, we’re only about 28 percent — only — but we’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes.”

“But who cares — 33 [percent], 29 [percent] — died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”

His uncaring response led many on social media to share their stories of loved ones who died in NY nursing homes.

Trump Signs Executive Order Prioritizing U.S. Patients for COVID Vaccine

Trump signs 'America First' COVID-19 vaccine executive order

As Britain administers the world’s first non-clinical trial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, President Trump signed an executive order earlier today demanding pharmaceutical companies prioritize U.S. patients when distributing doses.

“We must ensure that Americans have priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government,” the order reads. After American needs are met by the “free” vaccine, “it is in the interest of the United States to facilitate international access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines.”

The administration’s plans to mobilize the Department of Defense in tandem with the Department of Health and Human Services to aid in efficient distribution.

President Trump also threatened to invoke the National Defense Production Act if drug manufacturers fail to provide an adequate supply of the vaccine. “If necessary, we’ll invoke the Defense Production Act, but we don’t think it will be necessary,” the President said at a Tuesday press conference.

Activating the NDPA grants the federal government a special priority status with all orders and contracts, and gives the administrations the authority to force drug companies to increase production. It could also be used to halt the export of any vaccine produced domestically, establishing a federal government monopsony on the vaccine market.

The FDA is expected to grant emergency use authorization to the American drug manufacturer Pfizer as early as Thursday for their mRNA based vaccine. An FDA hearing for Moderna, using a similar technology, is scheduled for the 17th. Both vaccines have shown to be 95% effective in clinical trials, outshining all competitors.

During the summer, the administration ordered 100 million doses of the two-dose vaccine from both Pfizer and Moderna, with the option to purchase an additional 500 million and 400 million doses, respectively. The initial purchase from Pfizer would vaccinate up to 50 million Americans. The two manufacturers are expected to produce a total of 2.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

The U.S. would need more than 600 million doses to inoculate every American. According to the NY Times, the Pfizer deal “was one of six contracts that the Trump administration signed with vaccine makers in a strategy intended to hedge its bets and maximize the chances of success.” Contracts were formed over the summer, well before results of each trial were made public and Pfizer emerged as the first company to seek FDA approval.

If Moderna’s vaccine is approved, the two companies are expected to produce enough doses “to vaccinate about 22.5 million people before the end of the year.”

Pfizer also scaled back their initial production estimates from 100 million by the end of December to 50 million doses. Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, and Sanofi, three of the six Operation Warpspeed participants, do not have an estimate on when they’ll complete clinical trials.

The U.S. secured 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine back in May. The British company is expected to seek emergency use from the FDA as early as late January. Unlike Moderna and Pfizer, AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be kept in standard refrigerators, making it the easiest of the big 3 to transport and store.

NYC Bar Owner Arrested after Declaring his Business an ‘Autonomous Zone’ to Avoid Lockdown Restrictions

- Officers from the Sherrif's office stand outside Mac's Public House on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 at around 6:46 p.m. (Staten Island Advance/Irene Spezzamonte)

Danny Presti, Co-owner of NYC bar Mac’s Public House, was arrested Tuesday evening after defying New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reinstated lockdown rule which called for the banning of indoor dining in some areas.

The bar is located in an area of Staten Island with rising COVID-19 cases and has subsequently been designated as an Orange Zone, prohibiting indoor dining. In defiance of Gov. Cuomo’s new lockdown orders, Presti and fellow co-owner Keith McAlarney kept Mac’s Public House open, declaring the building “an ‘autonomous zone,’ a nod to protesters who claimed control over a Seattle neighborhood in June,” the AP reports.

Back in June, thousands of BLM protestors were left to their own devices by the orders of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan after the group forcibly took over 6 blocks in Capitol Hill, establishing barriers to keep people out. Despite the ongoing pandemic and lack of social distancing, it took weeks for the city to clear the area. Durkan went on air to encourage CHAZ to continue.

Despite already being fined “thousands of dollars” for remaining open later than 10:00 PM, violating another lockdown order, the bar owners unsuccessfully tried finding a legal loophole to continue operating. Instead of actually paying for a meal, patrons would provide a mandatory donation $40 and in turn would receive food and drinks.

This didn’t fly with undercover officers who signaled for uniformed officers to come in, issue tickets, and shut the place down. Presti was later arrested following a confrontation with responding officers.

Presti “was uncooperative and was charged with obstruction of governmental administration in addition to the charges stemming from unauthorized food and beverage service,” the AP continued.

Videos show a massive crowd of supporters who gathered outside the tavern in support of Presti as he was escorted from the building in handcuffs.

Republican State Senator Andrew Lanza joined supporters, condemning the actions as unnecessary. “This order simply says that they need to cease and desist,’’ Lanza told officers with the order in hand. “Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant, nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property. So I’ll ask, [and] you don’t have to answer … why was he arrested? I was told you would tell me why he was arrested and now I’m asking for that answer.”

Protest over shutdown of New York's 'autonomous zone' bar for COVID rule  violations draws large crowd - ABC News

“From what I understand, he’s arrested because he didn’t want to leave [his business], and at that point … they considered it trespassing,’’ Lou Gelormino, an attorney for Mac’s Public House said. “I’d like to know why his (other) attorney got three summonses for just being there and being peaceful and respectful and calm, and every one of these officers can attest to that.”

Presti, who appeared on Fox & Friends, said they’re keeping their business open to survive, and in these trying times, they need help that Cuomo and De Blasio failed to provide. “At this point we are losing faith, and kind of lost faith in the ability for our local and city governments to help us,” he said. “We just need in some way to either be assisted or to get our places open and these state agencies and city agencies that come in and threaten to fine us or pull our licenses every single day, it’s not right.”

Instead of helping struggling businesses like theirs, state agencies are “kicking open the door and then threatening tens of thousands of dollars of fines every single day. This is what we’re saying to our governments, and Governor Cuomo and the mayor, is you have to stop this and you need to assist us,” he said. “

Even with mounting legal challenges, the owners of Mac’s Public House will not stop fighting to save their business.

Trump Told Woodward he ‘Played Down’ Coronavirus Pandemic in March during Interview; Fauci Disagrees

Readers React: Bob Woodward's Trump interview revelations should outrage  everyone - The San Diego Union-Tribune

New audio recordings of an interview between President Trump and life long investigative reporter Bob Woodward reveal Trump attempted to “downplay” the Coronavirus during its early days, but is that the whole story?

As part of his research for his latest book, Rage, Woodward interviewed the president 18-times on the record between December and July. Woodward, who famously broke the Watergate story during Nixon’s second term, recorded him and the president discussing a wide range of topics from his foreign policy to dealings with his cabinet, but the tapes he released Wednesday from February and March are making headlines.

On February 7th, Trump told Woodward, the Coronavirus “goes through the air. That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” 

Throughout February, Trump repeatedly told the public not to worry, that the virus and its transmission was under control, that it was only spreadable on hard surfaces. He assured us the case count would soon approach zero.

More than six-weeks later, after originally telling Woodward that the virus was airborne and it was much deadlier than originally thought – initial estimates pegged the mortality rate above 3% – Trump said “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Trump, media critics say, lied about the virus’s threat to the public to prevent panic and in turn contributed to an unnecessarily high death count for the sake of preserving the economy.

However, that view is narrow and incomplete. Yes, Trump’s early communications of the virus’s severity were completely off, the continued spread and deaths act as a tragic reminder, and the behavior of many could have been altered if he took a different approach to addressing the American people. But, the contextualized data around the time of these statements show that while Trump should have been more blunt about the potential dangers, his approach was not all entirely erroneous and our current apocalyptic scenario was far from certain.

As of February 7th, when the first controversial interview was conducted, less than 10 Americans were infected with COVID-19, and there were zero domestic deaths. Cases were relatively contained in China, with about 3,500 global new cases and 86 deaths that day.

By March 19th when the second interview took place, only 15,000 Americans were confirmed to be infected, and 240 died from the disease. At that point, we were far from the first virus peak and those numbers are dwarfed by where we are today. By then, Americans were more aware of the risk and were taking voluntary precautions.

Taking a step back, the Trump administration wasn’t ignoring the growing pandemic. The CDC began issuing warning as early as January 6th, and began screening passengers from Wuhan, China, the virus’s known point of origin, on January 16th, five days before the first case was reported in the U.S. On January 31st, Trump was one of the first to ban travel from China. He would later restrict travel from Europe after cases began spiking over there.

Between the creation of the Coronavirus Task Force and Trump’s second interview in question with Woodard, Trump repeatedly told the public through tweets and press conferences that the virus was under control and would soon be vanquished in the United States. However, according to Trump’s interview, he knew this was a lie, but he said what he said in order to avoid panic.

We had multiple points of information coming in. The CDC, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birks, the WHO, state and local health agencies, they all fed the American people information, and by all available information, Trump never tried to suppress their research.

Whether that’s a justifiable reason to delay the inevitable coast to coast panic is hotly contested, even among his supporters. If the goal were to slow the spread, Trump should have been blunt with the American people. The virus is 5x deadlier than the flu, but the risk is not equal. Older Americans with preexisting conditions are far more susceptible to complications. Telling the public it is no more dangerous than the flu is a lie and likely increased the initial transmission by negatively influencing people’s behavior.

But was Trump’s initial assertion accurate? Trump implied the virus was airborne, but that wasn’t common knowledge in February. It wasn’t until July when the World Health Organization released findings indicating the virus can linger in the air after leaving the body, which changes the dynamic of how we approach social distancing. If Trump announced the virus was airborne five months before researchers made those findings public, he would have been discredited by the media.

Woodward agreed with that assessment, telling the AP “he tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” He added, “If I had done the story at that time about what he knew in February, that’s not telling us anything we didn’t know.” 

The information regarding its health risks were already being disseminated by the CDC. Trump never hid the facts.

At the time, the estimated death rate hovered around 3%-4%, but it was later downgraded by the CDC to an average of 0.6%. Still much deadlier than the flu, but far less dangerous than originally believed.

Again, no one knew what we were dealing with. After China’s misinformation campaign to hide the virus from the rest of the world, officials weren’t sure what was propaganda and what was fact.

Nonetheless, two big questions remain: was Trump justified in trying to prevent panic, and did Trump’s dismissive rhetoric match his official actions?

The first answer is mixed. Again, he should have been straightforward; Americans can be trusted with creating our own risk assessments based on real data. Many Americans turn to the president as the funnel for expert analysis. But Trump was not the only one attempting to deintensify the conversation. Throwing the country into a panic over a disease with a dozen infections that could very well have blown over would be have been a disaster.

Dr. Fauci, the de facto expert on how to address Coronavirus according to the media, also attempted to prevent panic in the early onset of the pandemic by telling people masks did not work. According to The Hill, Fauci “acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE.”

Public health experts “were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” Fauci said. 

“We wanted to make sure that the people, namely the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shared Trump’s approach, telling reporters on March 2nd he didn’t think New York’s outbreak would be as bad as other countries, adding the virus was primarily affecting the elderly. The next day, Cuomo continued by saying New York couldn’t contain the spread, but there’s no reason to panic.

But we already knew Trump’s angle. During a White House press conference on March 30th, Trump told reporters “I want to keep the country calm. I don’t want panic in the country.” Woodward’s revelations are nothing new from what Trump had been telling reporters for months. He’s been open about his attempts to quell fear.

Trump’s rhetoric at the time was both in line with heath experts and mirrored that made by other public officials. Other than comparing it to the flu, Trump was not dishonest in his attempts to prevent panic.

Did Trump’s attempt to cool the country interfere with his official actions? I’ve always said, look at what Trump does, not the stupid stuff he tweets on the toilet. Despite the rhetoric, the Trump administration took early action toward combating the spread of disease, including screening overseas travelers and halting travel from China all together, actions that were criticized by Democrats as fear mongering and unnecessary.

Existing FDA guidelines on testing prevented the use of new testing devices and the use of existing testing methods at unauthorized labs. The administration allowed for more labs to test and new tests to fly through FDA approval.

He would later temporarily ban travel from Europe, promise government funded COVID-19 treatment, declare a national emergency, and initiate the 15-days to lower the curve stay at home order in between the two interviews with Woodward.

In fact, while we can all point out Trump’s silly commentary, Dr. Fauci disagrees with the assertion that Trump ‘downplayed’ the virus. “Fauci denied that he ever heard the president ‘distort’ the threat of the coronavirus and maintained that Trump’s presentations to the public were largely in line with discussions he’d had with medical experts,” Politico reported after the audio was released on Wednesday. “When asked whether he ever felt Trump was downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, Fauci said no.”

“I didn’t get any sense that he was distorting anything,” Fauci said. “In my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had. We related that to him. When he would go out, I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things.”

Back in April, Fauci admitted Trump took his advice in when to and how to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus. Reuters reported, “top U.S. health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday that President Donald Trump listened to his advice when he recommended that mitigation efforts be taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

Based on the actions taken by the White House, Trump did not act to play down the outbreak and did what was recommended to combat the still largely unknown virus. Sure, he’s not perfect, and his attempts to maintain calmness amid early signs of disaster could have been done differently, hindsight is 20/20, but we knew for months, from his own public admission, that Trump was using his position as President to prevent panic.

NYC Survey Suggests 14% of the Population already Infected with COVID-19; Much Lower Mortality Rate

600 iPads Donated to New York Hospital Are 'Lifeline' to ...

In a very limited survey, one NYC hospital found 13.7% of pregnant women who came in to give birth were infected with COVID-19; almost 90% of which were asymptomatic.

After two pregnant women scheduled for delivery were found to be COVID-19 positive after being admitted to the hospital, doctors “implemented universal testing… to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in women who were admitted for delivery,” according to a Letter to the Editor written by the doctors at the hospital. This being the closest the United States has gotten to a random, serological study in which a random group of the population is tested for Coronavirus in order to see how widespread the virus truly is. Typically, the subset of the population being test is biased in that people who are already experiencing symptoms or knowingly came into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 self select to be tested. Because this hospital tests every pregnant woman, and there’s little evidence so far to suggest they are any more or less likely to contract the disease, this survey could provide helpful insight into the spread of the virus.

In a letter to New England Journal of Medicine, doctors said their results were from tests done on the 215 women being admitted to the hospital between March 22 and April 4, 2020 for childbirth.

Of the 215 women tested, 4 (1.9%) were showing symptoms upon admission. All eventually tested positive for COVID-19. Of the remaining 211 women, 210 were tested where 29 (13.7%) of the asymptomatic women also tested positive. Based on these numbers, 88% of infected pregnant women who were admitted to the hospital were asymptomatic carriers. Three women later developed a fever during their stay at the hospital.

While the authors of the letter say “this prevalence has limited generalizability to geographic regions with lower rates of infection,” they do note that total COVID-19 numbers could be greatly underreported.

This testing is the closest to a random sample of New Yorkers – the state most seriously hit by the pandemic – that healthcare professionals have done. Though, again, it’s very small and isolated sample.

What’s most surprising is that these numbers mirror a German study of infection rates. German researchers tested 80% of the population of the Town of Gangelt and found 15% of the residents had either been infected or gotten over the illness. The similarity in outcomes between these two distinct areas might be coincidental, or it could be a trend worth noting.

Approximately 1.5% of NYC population has tested positive for Coronavirus, and of those cases, approximately 7% have died. If the number of infected people were actually 13.7%, not 1.5%, that would bring the mortality rate down to 0.7%, much lower than previously estimated.

China Falsified Number of Coronavirus Cases and Deaths; U.S. Intelligence Report Says

China virus death toll rises to 56, with nearly 2,000 infected ...

According to a classified report delivered to the White House sometime last week, China falsified the total number Coronavirus cases and deaths in an attempt to shield the actual impact on the communist nation from the ever intensifying global pandemic.

Three top White House officials told Bloomberg that the intelligence community concluded “China has concealed the extent of the Coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease.”

This report would be the first evidence towards something we all knew: China blatantly lied to the world about their success with stopping the spread of Coronavirus.

The numbers released by China, which tallied 81,550 cases and over 3,300 deaths, were “intentionally incomplete.” If the numbers were true, the highly densely populated country with low health standards would have one of the lowest rates of infections and deaths per capita. By all available data, China, who claims to have completely stopped the spread, has 57 infections and only 2 deaths per million people. The United States, for example, is on the lower end of the global infection rates yet was still inflicted with 636 cases and 14 deaths per million people. Italy is faring much worse with 1,829 cases and 218 deaths per million people. It’s easy to see how China’s numbers seem oddly low.

According to Bloomberg, “the Chinese government has repeatedly revised its methodology for counting cases, for weeks excluding people without symptoms entirely, and only on Tuesday added more than 1,500 asymptomatic cases to its total.” A nation known to lie has lied. Big surprise. This brings far more questions into the mix about whether that 1,500 is inaccurate as well. China’s top down control of information, and their expulsion of western media outlets from the country makes verifying anything the CCP says extremely difficult.

Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to the outbreak, said Tuesday that China’s public reporting influenced assumptions elsewhere in the world about the nature of the virus.

Bloomberg

China’s withholding of valuable and accurate data may have cost the rest of the world more lies through delayed responses, and downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak in its early days. If the CDC and other health organizations had a better picture of what they were dealing with, our course of action may have been different.

Iran, Russia, Indonesia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are suspected of also misrepresenting their cases.

According to the National Review, “based on the aggregation of funeral and cremation numbers, authorities likely know the real number and are keeping it under wraps.”

Though the Chinese government may report fake numbers, that doesn’t change the reality on the ground. The National Review added, “funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains to families every day, but rumors began circulating after one funeral home received two shipments of 5,000 urns over the course of two days.”

A massive influx of urns and overcrowding in funeral homes that coincides with a global pandemic claimed to have been contained in China certainly raises some eyebrows.

One resident claims the government is bribing Wuhan residents who lost loved ones with 3,000 Yuan to keep quiet.

China’s lies surrounding the Coronavirus did not begin with infection reporting. For weeks, the CCP repeatedly lied about the existence of this disease, likely causing the outbreak to get out of hand.

Government officials in Wuhan ordered researchers to destroy samples of the Coronavirus in early January and to cease all testing on the virus in order to cover up news of the new disease. While Xi Jinping was briefed on the virus on January 7th, it took the dictator two weeks to publicly address the outbreak.

Chinese researchers also hid the Coronavirus’s genome for a week before sharing the data with scientists around the globe.

On January 14th, China lied again to the WHO, claiming COVID-19 cannot be transmitted from person to person, information that would have certainly shifted early response efforts.

Beijing led a failed propaganda campaign claiming U.S. military forces, not Wuhan’s unsanitary wet markets or faulty bio-research facilities, were the true origin of the outbreak.

At every stage of the pandemic response, China littered the global exchange of information with misinformation, coverups, and falsifications. China lied; people died.

*Sign the petition to Sanction China HERE*

Jobless Claims Hit Historic Levels: 3.28 Million Unemployment Claims in 1 Week

China coronavirus: Empty streets of Wuhan | AFP - YouTube

The second major indicator of the economic impact from the Coronavirus driven extreme social distancing was released Thursday morning. The Department of Labor, which publishes weekly unemployment claims, reported there were 3,280,000 unemployment claims during the week ending on March 21st.

A major economic recession was all but obvious when the Trump administration in unison with most states encouraged, and in some cases mandated, stay-at-home orders for non-essential employees, essentially shutting down large swaths of the economy.

CH weekly ui claims march 21
CNBC Graph of weekly jobless claims.

According to CNBC, “the number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982.” The effects of the Coronavirus shutdown is hitting the U.S. economy like a freight train; “the previous week, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, was 282,000, which was higher than expected at the time.”

The stock market was the first to face the reaper with major stock indexes dropping by more than 1/3 over the course of 6-weeks.

Despite the shocking report, the Dow Jones shot up by 6.38% today, indicating the sudden and widespread layoffs was expected. The general prediction across Wall Street was 1.5 million jobless claim, but this week’s relatively strong, but volatile, market bounceback may indicate traders do not expect the situation to get much worse.

The $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate earlier today will be a much needed lifeline to the millions of people suddenly without jobs due to existential circumstances.

All this raises the very real question of whether destroying the economy and putting millions of people out of work will actually slow the spread and flatten the curve.

Democrats Block Coronavirus Aid Bill in Senate

Image result for coronavirus bill blocked

The vote for a massive $1.4 trillion stimulus package designed to pump much needed life into the stagnate American economy was blocked earlier today by Senate Democrats in a 47-47 vote.

In order for a bill to come up for vote in the Senate, 60 Senators [3/5] need to vote in favor of the measure. Though Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, five senators are currently self-isolating after coming in contact with others who were infected with COVID-19, including Senator Rand Paul [Ky-R], who tested positive for Coronavirus earlier today.

In recent days, there appeared to be bipartisan support for a bailout of the American economy after, at the Federal government’s suggestion, most states have demanded all nonessential businesses shut down, put moratoriums on travel, and restricted public gatherings. The world’s voluntary social distancing is expected to severely damage the economy; some estimate a drop in GDP of up to 15% in the second quarter.

After the surprising vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [Ky-R] said, referring to Chuck Schumer [NY-D] and Nancy Pelosi [CA12-D], “the build-up to this is that we had a high level of bipartisanship over the last 48 hours… And then, all of a sudden, the Democratic leader and the speaker of the House shows up…and we’re back to square one.” He added, “I want everybody to understand that if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it’s because of our colleagues on the other side, continue to dicker.”

McConnell believes Pelosi overstepped her boundaries in influencing the Senate vote. “She’s the speaker of the House, not the speaker of the Senate,” he said.

McConnell concluded by saying, “hopefully some adults will show up on the other side of the room and understand the gravity of the situation before the markets go down further…we’ve never been confronted by anything like this before.”

According to a press release yesterday, McConnell said the proposed package “will send direct relief to the American people, deliver historic assistance to small businesses so workers can keep getting paid, help secure our economic foundations and prevent layoffs, and ­surge more resources onto the front lines of our brave healthcare professionals’ fight to defend Americans and defeat the virus.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shot back on Twitter, saying “we voted no on the McConnell-GOP bill because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and healthcare workers who need our help.” He added, “these changes need to be made.”

In response to the Democrat’s vote, McConnell said, “the American people are watching this spectacle. I’m told the futures market is down 5 percent. I’m also told that’s when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd.” He added, “the American people expect us to act tomorrow, and I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dither when the country expects us to come together and address this problem.”

According to The Hill, “Democratic senators argue that the GOP bill includes several ‘non-starter’ and walks back areas of agreement, such as expanding unemployment insurance, they thought they had reached with Republicans.” Democrats are also upset with what they view as corporate bailouts over direct worker benefits.

According to Politico, “Schumer and Pelosi are also seeking an additional $200 billion for hospitals and other health-care providers as part of a supplemental government spending bill included in the overall rescue package.” Whereas, “the White House had initially sought $48 billion for federal agencies, and Republicans upped that total to $242 billion, including $75 billion for hospitals. Democrats want to further increase it to $450 billion.”

Politico also reported, “Pelosi pushed a ‘laundry list’ of demands at that meeting, according to a GOP official, including a proposal to wipe off $10,000 from anyone who owns federal student loans, as well as election-security funding.” While it’s obvious that these issues are irrelevant to the Coronavirus crisis, “Republicans countered those issues were not germane to the stimulus debate; Democrats say they have insisted these matters needed to be discussed all along.”

The bill voted on today was what’s known as a ‘shell bill,’ and will be replaced with the full text of the package tomorrow, if it had passed this procedural hurdle.

33,000 Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and over 400 have died from the virus.

It’s Time to Sanction China for their Cover-Up of COVID-19: Petition

*This article was taken from a Change.org Petition; found HERE*

China lied; people died. After enduring weeks of global economic shutdown due to the rampant spread of COVID-19, it’s become apparent that China covered up the initial outbreak, silenced whistleblowers, and lied to the world delaying research, costing well over 10,000 lives, and tens of trillions of dollars to the global economy leaving millions without jobs and wiped out savings as the world’s economy contracts and companies fold in on themselves. If the totalitarian regime’s abhorrent treatment of their own people wasn’t enough, then their blatant disregard for the people of the world should be enough to finally impose sanctions on China.

According to a timeline compiled by Axios, Wei Guixian, one of the first known cases of COVID-19, first fell ill on December 10th. As a worker at one of Wuhan’s infamous wet markets, his close proximity to the exotic, uncooked meats where sanitary regulations are all but nonexistent put him and others at an increased risk of contracting unknown diseases. Guixian was admitted to a hospital on December 16th, where, on December 27th, Wuhan health officials first learned a new virus was causing his severe symptoms.

On December 30th, Ai Fen, a director at Wuhan Central Hospital, and Dr. Li Wenliang discussed the new virus independently of each other on WeChat. Both doctors were called in for questioning by the Communist party and were reprimanded by the police.

Li Wenliang later died of complications from the coronavirus.

On January 1st, “an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission orders labs, which had already determined that the novel virus was similar to SARS, to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples.”

On January 2nd, Chinese researchers map the complete COVID-19 genome. They don’t release this information until January 9th, leading to massive delays in creating vaccines and other preventative treatment.

On January 7th, China’s dictator, Xi Jinping becomes involved in a responsive effort. He does not make a public statement about the disease until January 21st.

On January 14th, Chinese authorities lied to the WHO, telling them there’s no evidence of human-to-human transmission. We now know the coronavirus is far more infectious than the flu. According to the NY Post, “news of the virus’ highly contagious nature didn’t surface publicly until Jan. 20.”

The first case of COVID-19 outside of China was reported on January 13th in Taiwan. The Communist Party did not place Wuhan under lockdown until January 23rd. At that time, 5 million people left Wuhan without being screened, likely spreading the disease across China and across the world.

China now has the audacity to claim American troops, not Wuhan wet markets selling disease-riddled animals, are responsible for the introduction of coronavirus in the Wuhan province.

China did everything in its power to downplay and hide the pandemic until they couldn’t hide it any longer. A quarter-million people are now infected with a disease that has a mortality rate between 10x and 30x higher than the flu. Why would China do this? Maybe to save face, maybe to maintain power, but who cares. The fact remains, China’s top-down actions and reckless oversight of wet markets are to blame.

In response to reports of China’s mishandling of the virus, the communist party expelled 5 major American news outlets – Voice of America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Time – from the country, in what can only be viewed as further attempts to cover up what really happened.

According to the National Review, wet markets are “open-air sites selling fresh meat, seafood, and produce. The meats often are butchered and trimmed on-site.” Unlike other countries, Chinese wet markets are home to “a wide variety of wild animals, including exotic and endangered species. Many are quite unsanitary, with blood, entrails, excrement, and other waste creating the conditions for disease that migrates from animals to people through virus, bacteria, and other forms of transmission.” They added, “such ‘zoonotic diseases’ that have emerged from China and other regions of the world include Ebola, HIV, bird flu, swine flu, and SARS.”

Though wet markets were just recently banned in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, such restrictions have come and gone in China’s past, and there’s no telling whether this ban on selling exotic meats will last. The markets were responsible for H1N1, SARS, and now COVID-19. No details about the new restrictions have been made public.

The National Review continued, so far, “we may just be seeing a repeat of the ‘crackdown’ after the SARS epidemic, which was quickly and quietly lifted.”

In the U.S., banks are predicting the 2nd quarter contractions to be in the neighborhood of 12%, and a loss of 1 million jobs each month the world is on lockdown. The Dow Jones is sinking to the lowest level in 4 years, losing over 30% of its value over a couple of weeks. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warns if the U.S. doesn’t respond with the trillion-dollar stimulus packages proposed, we could suffer 20% unemployment rates.

Also, China imprisoned over a million Muslims in reeducation camps. Why does no one talk about this, or China’s long history of shipping dissidents off to gulags for questioning the communist government? If the country didn’t own so much U.S. debt and if our factories weren’t stationed there, we would treat China like North Korea or Iran.

China is a bad actor on the world stage. The oppression and restriction of their own people are second to none. Their cover-ups have cost too many lives and destroyed too many businesses globally for their actions to go unpunished. Until China apologies to the world, permanently shut down their wet markets, and takes an active role in fixing the problems they’ve created, the U.S. and the world need to sanction this oppressive dictatorship. There are more than enough poverty-stricken nations who would be absolutely thrilled to have global supply chains transferred to them. China’s economy is so intertwined with the world that even before the West began hunkering down, we faced massive supply shortages over Chinese factories closing. Dependence on an evil empire for our economic wellbeing is a grave mistake we can’t afford to make anymore. It’s time to diversify out of China. China must be held accountable, and no other punishment would fit their laundry list of crimes like sanctions.

Why Coronavirus Testing in the U.S. is so Slow

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While the United States succeeded where many failed in the early global fight against the novel coronavirus, which originally spread out of the Chinese city, Wuhan, in late December of 2019, one major failure faced by the U.S. is the national shortage of COVID-19 test kits; an issue almost unique to this country.

The United States was one of the first countries to put travel restrictions in place to limit the number of potentially infected people coming into the country, which, according to many experts, delayed the spread of disease. A little over a week after the first infection was confirmed in the U.S., flights coming out of Wuhan were blocked. While it bought the country some time, the virus nonetheless persisted and took root on U.S. soil.

Federal, state, and local governments in cooperation with the private sector essentially shut down most if not all forms of public gatherings, leading to the previously unheard of cancellation of every major sporting organization’s seasons, and other mass gatherings where infections can spread like wildfire. There’s also been a very successful national work from home initiative pushed by private companies.

However, all these measures can do is delay the inevitable. The disease will surely continue to spread, and unless health officials can identify carriers, quarantine and treatment efforts will fall flat.

But why has the US failed to implement mass testing of at risk people? The short answer is government. While countries like South Korea were able to test well over 200,000 people, the CDC has tested barely 5% of that number. Because South Korea was able to quickly identify everyone who was infected, they were able to isolate carriers before they spread the virus to others, and their new infections number reflects this.

According to The Atlantic, “the Food and Drug Administration has a protocol called emergency use authorization, or EUA, through which it clears tests from labs around the country” to test patients. Authorizing more labs to actually test for the coronavirus has been uniquely slow during this pandemic. Unlike previous outbreaks, “the requirements for getting an EUA [are] so complicated that it would have taken weeks to receive one, says Alex Greninger, the assistant director of the virology division at the University of Washington Medical Center.” Red tape and bureaucracy have been the biggest struggle to getting more facilities up and running.

Until a lab gets authorization they cannot begin testing, regardless of how effective internal testing is.

Greninger wrote a letter to Congress on February 28th, saying “many of our clinical laboratories have already validated [tests] that we could begin testing with tomorrow, but cannot due [to] the FDA EUA process.”

“The Chinese government does not allow specimens to be shipped outside its borders,” according to The Atlantic, so labs are having a hard time getting samples of COVID-19 to actually create test kits.

“The type of test Greninger is making is called a lab-developed test. To be used in other labs, his test requires special instruments that extract and then amplify the RNA that makes up the virus. However, labs across the country—like those at many county hospitals—don’t have the tools to do this. They can only run a simple type of test called a sample-to-answer test. As late as this week, several lab directors told me that no sample-to-answer versions of the coronavirus test had been approved in the U.S.”

Even the tests being approved and created require specialty instruments not widely used by most hospitals. The FDA has not approved any tests which would be easier for most healthcare providers to use.

Other issues include shortages in the chemicals used in the testing process. According to the LA Times, the chemicals needed, known as reagents, are used to extract genetic material from a nasal swab sample, among the first steps in the testing process. Demand for reagents has left a key supplier struggling to keep pace with orders from countries around the world.”

However, though there are massive delays in getting approvals, the FDA issued a new policy for “certain laboratories that develop and begin to use validated COVID-19 diagnostics before the FDA has completed review of their Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) requests.” The government is working to lower the largest hurdle to testing… itself.

Scientific tool manufacturer Thermo Fisher said it plans on producing up to 5 million test kits for novel coronavirus in the next few weeks. Trump said in a statement Thermo Fisher could produce up to 1.4 million of those tests in the next week. They’re hoping to hit maximum production by April 3rd. Roche, another pharmaceutical company, says it can manufacture 400,000 tests a week. They were recently approved by the FDA to begin production.

Roche began production ahead of their approval, so tests will hopefully be sent out soon.

Unlike the U.S., “Korean officials enacted a key reform, allowing the government to give near-instantaneous approval to testing systems in an emergency” long before the current outbreak. “Within weeks of the current outbreak in Wuhan, China, four Korean companies had manufactured tests from a World Health Organization recipe and, as a result, the country quickly had a system that could assess 10,000 people a day,” Pro Publica reports.

South Korea’s rapid deployment of testing has given them one of the world’s lowest mortality rates for the novel coronavirus.

Though a vaccine could be only weeks away from trials, according to Dr. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases, the spread of COVID-19 will get much worse as time goes on, and our only hope is to identify the infected, and maintain social distancing and personal hygiene in order to mitigate the spread of disease.