Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Ahmaud Arbery
May 8, 1994 – February 23, 2020

Regardless of their mundane activity–walking, jogging, dancing, or simply standing–Black men have been and still are often targets. So was the case for Ahmaud Arbery. A 25-year old who, like millions of other young people, loved to run.

A father and a son saw that love as a threat. They pursued, shot, and killed Ahmaud.  And it was weeks before their actions came to national light.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Pursuit permitted

February 23, 2020: Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64, shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery who had been jogging near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Ga.

Gregory McMichael told the police that he thought Arbery looked like a man suspected in several break-ins in the area. The Brunswick News, citing documents obtained through a public records request, reported that there had been just one burglary in the neighborhood since January: the theft of a handgun from an unlocked truck parked outside Travis McMichael’s house.

February 27, 2020: the Brunswick[GA] District Attorney’s Office and the Glynn County Police Department conducted the initial investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

On this date, the Brunswick district attorney, Jackie L. Johnson, recused herself from the case, pointing out that Gregory McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer, had been a longtime investigator in her office until his retirement in May 2019.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Limited investigation

April 1, 2020: after a public records request, The Brunswick News [GA] reported details of the Glynn County Police Department’s records on the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. The police report was based almost entirely on the responding officer’s interview with Gregory McMichael. The records claimed that after the McMichaels pursued Arbery, Travis McMichael and Arbery “started fighting over the shotgun, at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot.”

George E. Barnhill, the Waycross district attorney, took over the case and advised the police that there was insufficient cause to arrest Mr. Arbery’s pursuers. He argued that they had acted legally under Georgia’s citizen arrest and self-defense laws, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

Under pressure from Arbery’s family, Barnhill then recused himself from the case because his son had worked in the Brunswick prosecutor’s office with Gregory McMichael. Mr. Barnhill asked the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to help find another district attorney to handle the case.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

A Third Prosecutor

April 13, 2020: the Aubery case was transferred to a third prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit.

April 26, 2020: for two months, the shooting received little attention outside Brunswick, GA. As the coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines and shut down communities around the country, The NY Times spoke with Mr. Arbery’s friends and family, who were by then concerned the case might quietly disappear in their Deep South community, because social distancing restrictions had made it difficult for them to gather and protest.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Video Emerges

May 5, 2020: a video of the encounter had begun to circulate online. Recorded from inside a vehicle, it showed Ahmaud Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he came upon a white pickup truck, with a man standing beside its open driver-side door. Another man was in the truck bed. Arbery ran around the vehicle and disappeared briefly from view. Muffled shouting could be heard before Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.

That same day,  District Attorney Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit.said that he wanted to send the case to a grand jury to decide whether to bring charges. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that night that it would be taking over the case at Durden’s request.

CBS News report:

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Arrests

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

May 7, 2020: according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, authorities arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael and booked them into a jail in Glynn County, Both were charged with murder and aggravated assault.

May 8, 2020: to commemorate his birthday, supporters of  Ahmaud Arbery’s family ran 2.23-mile — a reference to the date of his killing. And at a time when many people were prevented from gathering in person to rally, some were connecting instead on social media using the hashtag #IRunWithMaud.

DOJ asked to investigate

May 10, 2020: Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked the Department of Justice on Sunday to conduct an investigation  into the handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case. [NPR story]

Fourth Prosecutor

May 11, 2020: Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr named Joyette M. Holmes to oversee the case of Ahmaud Arbery

Holmes, comes from Cobb County in the Atlanta metropolitan area, where she was the first African-American to serve as district attorney. She was the fourth prosecutor assigned to lead a case that has bounced among district attorneys and law enforcement agencies. [NYT article]

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

William Bryan arrested

May 21: the NY Times reported that authorities had arrested William Bryan, 50, the man who filmed the pursuit and shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. Bryan was arrested  in connection with the killing, Georgia authorities said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a statement that the  Bryan was arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Bryan, who is white, had recorded the confrontation.

Lawyers for Mr. Arbery’s family said they were “relieved” by the arrest. “His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us, to many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the G.B.I. as well,” the statement said.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Sufficient Probable Cause

June 4: Richard Dial, an assistant special agent in charge for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified that William Bryan, a neighbor one of the three white, heard defendant Travis McMichael, 34, use a racist slur moments after firing the three shotgun blasts  that killed Aubery.

The  revelation, suggesting overt racism was at play in the case, came in a hearing in Brunswick, Ga., that ended with Judge Wallace E. Harrell of Glynn County Magistrate Court determining that sufficient probable cause existed to support the murder charges brought against the three men.

There were several fiery moments in the hearing. At one point, after a lawyer for one defendant referred to the Book of Amos, the special prosecutor Jesse Evans cited another Bible verse.

“I’ve got one,” he said. “What about ‘Love thy neighbor’?” The three defendants, Mr. Evans said, had hunted down a “defenseless” man. “He was tormented, he was hunted, he was targeted,” Mr. Evans said. [NYT story]

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Indictments

June 24, 2020: CNN reported that Cobb District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes had announced that Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William R. Bryan were indicted by a grand jury.

“We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues,” said Holmes, the specially appointed prosecutor in the case.

The charges also include aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, according to the indictment.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Memorial shot up

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

July 16, 2020:  Police investigated the destruction of a memorial to Ahmaud Arbery on the front lawn of a home on Route 304, Winfield, GA. .

“About 10 p.m our roommate heard three pops and looked out the window,” said Samara Halperin, who was staying at the house as well. “A car with its headlights off zoomed away. It was pretty clear that was who shot at the memorial.”

“We called in the state police,” Halperin said.

“It’s so sad, and proves a point,” she said. “These racists are very cowardly and out of control. This is why the memorial was put up in the first place.”

“This is very disturbing,” Shoemaker said on Friday. “The act of it itself proves the need for this kind of art, or this kind of conversation — people talking to their neighbors, their family, about racism because it is here. Bringing it into focus can only help change it.”

Trooper Mark Reasner, State Police, Milton barracks spokesman, said the incident is under investigation.

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Not-guilty pleas

July 17, 2020:  Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan entered the not-guilty pleas through their lawyers. They faced a litany of charges, including murder for killing Aubrey as he jogged through their neighborhood.

The hearing was partially virtual because of the coronavirus. The defendants joined from the jail via video conference. And several lawyers appeared on computer. Those in the courtroom wore masks and sat far apart. Georgia was under a judicial coronavirus emergency, which has delayed the case. And as Judge Timothy Walmsley noted, those delays will continue. [NPR story]

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Not-guilty pleas again

October 16, 2020:  Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and William Bryan pleaded not guilty in Chatham County Superior Court docket.  Gregory , 64, and Travis, 34, were charged with homicide and aggravated assault.  Bryan ,50, was charged with homicide and try and illegally detain and confine. [Gruntstuff article]

One Year Later

February 23, 2021: Wanda Cooper, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, filed a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against several people involved in the killing or the subsequent investigation.

Cooper filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia exactly one year after her son’s killing.

The suit named Gregory and Travis McMichael, father and son, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan.

The suit said the men “willfully and maliciously conspired to follow, threaten, detain and kill Ahmaud Arbery.”

The court filing also named law enforcement officials and local prosecutors and alleged they were intimately involved with an alleged cover-up in the investigation. [NPR article]

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Federal Charges

April 28, 2021: the Justice Department brought federal hate crimes charges in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, were charged along with a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan. The father and son who armed themselves, chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black Arbery after spotting him running in their Georgia neighborhood. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

The Department charged Bryan with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. [AP story] (next BH, see ; next B & S, see ; next AhA, see or see AA for expanded chronology)

Ahmaud Arbery Running While Black

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

May 7, 1948 –  August 11, 1991
Grease Bassist Alan Spenner
From Spenner’s Facebook tribute page https://www.facebook.com/Alan-Spenner-Tribute-Page-187632051408132/photos/?ref=page_internal&path=%2FAlan-Spenner-Tribute-Page-187632051408132%2Fphotos%2F
Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Guitar Gift

Bruce Eders AllMusic.com biography of Alan Spenner begins this way: Alan Spenner was a bassist whose career across a 25-year period put him in the center of some of the most popular and critically acclaimed music acts and recordings to come out of England. 

Like many musicians whether having a very famous moment or period or not, Alan Spenner played with a lot of people, but first he had to be born.

That was done in Dalston in East London.  His dad gave a guitar to him to keep him out of trouble. Later Alan decided to play bass.

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Wynder K Frog

His first love was blues and his first main band was Wynder K Frog, a blues-jazz band that included future Grease drummer Bruce Rowland. The band released two albums before splitting up in 1969.

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Grease Band > Spooky Tooth

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner
Alan Spenner at Woodstock

His second band was the Grease Band. Chris Stainton had been the band’s bassist, but he switched to keyboard. They became Joe Cocker’s backup.

Joe Cocker and the Grease Band did not last long (personal and management issues). Alan and Grease guitarist Henry McCullough joined Spooky Tooth. The band released the Last Puff album while he was with them, but the Grease Band reformed (minus Cocker) and he left Spooky Tooth.

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Jesus Christ Superstar

The Grease Band’s first job was to be the main band for the studio recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s and Tim Rice‘s Jesus Christ Superstar.

Despite the fame of other contemporary bassists such as John Entwistle, Jack Bruce, and Paul McCartney, Spenner was well respected and his performance on “What’s the Buzz”  inspired many young bassist.

Besides Cocker, Spenner played with many other well-known known rock musicians:  Alvin LeePaul Kossoff of FreeDonovan, and Ted Nugent.  Sometimes he was with other Grease members, other times not.

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Kokomo

While still doing such session work,  Spenner formed Kokomo, in 1975. Dave Thompson writes: Following in the footsteps of Gonzalez and the Average White Band, but frequently out-performing either of those acts, Kokomo has been described as the most authentic, and certainly the most traditional, funk band Britain produced during the 1970s. Whereas other acts of their ilk seemed more concerned with echoing the precision and musicianship of the best American performers, Kokomo were more concerned with the actual feel of the music, a distinction which was not lost on either critics or audiences.

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

Even more

While still with Kokomo, Spenner continue to play with other musicians and bands such as Brian Ferry, Steve Winwood, Whitesnake, Fairport Convention, and Roxy Music.

He played on all the following Roxy Music albums:  Manifesto (1979), Flesh + Blood (1980),  Avalon, (1982),  The High Road (1983), and Heart Still Beating (1990).

When Roxy Music was inducted into the Rock and roll Hall of Fame in  2019, Bryan Ferry included Alan in his thanks.

Unfortunately, Alan had died of an heart attack in 1991 at the age of 43.  A 1993 Chicago Tribune article quoted Ferry, “He lived very hard, Alan, and he had problem asthma. He played right from the heart.”

According to the peoplepill siteSpenner typically played Fender Precision, Fender Precision Fretless and Wal electric basses through an Ampeg amplification system. His Wal bass was a 78 JG Series that, coupled with his playing style, provided a signature sound heard on many Roxy Music songs, such as “Same Old Scene” and “Avalon”.

Grease Bassist Alan Spenner

May 2020 COVID 19

May 2020 COVID 19

Winter was over in the northern hemisphere. The COVID-19 virus that had been born then continued grew; then it became a pandemic  in FebruaryMarch brought lock-downs. Thousands died daily.

April’s arrival suggested some light at the end of the horror. Some said the warm weather in the northern hemisphere would bring relief. Others said there was no way to know.

Many countries and some American states began to relax their quarantine. Protesters  shouted to open everything again. Protesters shouted to keep everything closed. Governors tweaked the definition of “essential” and some of their constituents tweeted “No.”

May 2020 COVID-19

Remdesivir

May 2020 COVID 19

May 1: the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency approval for the antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for patients with Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus. [NYT article]

May 2020 COVID-19

The Trump administration projects about 3,000 daily deaths by early June

May 4: the NY Times reported that as President Trump pressed for states to reopen their economies, his administration was privately projecting a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the next several weeks.  According to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, the daily death toll would reach about 3,000 on June 1, , nearly double the current number of about 1,750.

The projections, based on government modeling pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases a day currently.

The numbers underscored a sobering reality: While the United States had been hunkered down for the past seven weeks, significant risks remained. And reopening the economy will make matters worse.

“There remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow,” the Centers for Disease Control warned.

Pushback

NPR reported that that same day, the administration  pushed back against that report,

“This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

It also included: “This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed. The president’s phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with. The health of the American people remains President Trump’s top priority and that will continue as we monitor the efforts by states to ease restrictions.”

Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who reportedly created the model reported by the Timestold The Washington Post that the work contained a wide range of possibilities and modeling was not complete.

May 2020 COVID-19

253,401 deaths worldwide

May 5: cases: 3,673,387; deaths: 253,401

White House to wind down coronavirus task force

May 5: the NY Times reported that President Trump said that the White House’s coronavirus task force would be shut down and replaced with “something in a different form” as the country moved into what he called Phase 2 of a response to a pandemic that has killed nearly 70,000 Americans.

“We will have something in a different form,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he toured a Honeywell mask manufacturing plant in Arizona, where he wore safety goggles but no mask. The president praised the work of the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, but said it was time to focus on safety and reopening the country.

May 2020 COVID-19

Dr. Rick Bright

May 5: the NY Times reported that Dr. Rick Bright, who was the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority until his removal in April, said in a formal whistle-blower complaint that since 2017 he had been protesting “cronyism and award of contracts to companies with political connections to the administration,” including a drug company executive who is close to Mr. Kushner,  Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

The 89-page complaint, filed with the Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal whistle-blowers, also said Dr. Bright “encountered opposition” from his Health and Human Services superiors — including Mr. Azar — while pushing as early as January for the necessary resources to develop drugs and vaccines to counter the emerging pandemic. (see May 8 below)

Trump contradicts his administration’s plans to shut down the coronavirus task force.

May 6: President Trump, contradicting his comments from May 5, said the White House coronavirus task force would “continue on indefinitely,” though perhaps with different members.

His announcement, made on Twitter, came one day after Vice President Mike Pence, who has led the group for two months, said it would probably wrap up its work around the end of the May.

But in a series of Wednesday morning tweets, Mr. Trump appeared to contradict that, and emphasized his desire to reopen the economy despite a continued rise in coronavirus cases and public health warnings that more commerce will mean more deaths.

Mr. Trump wrote that, because of the task force’s “success,” it would “continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.”

May 2020 COVID-19

US Infection Source

May 7: the NY Times reported that new research had revealed that  as thousands of infected people traveled from New York City they seeded the outbreaks around the country.

The research indicated that a wave of infections swept from New York City through much of the country before the city began setting social distancing limits to stop the growth. That helped to fuel outbreaks in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and as far away as the West Coast.

The findings were drawn from geneticists’ tracking signature mutations of the virus, travel histories of infected people, and models of the outbreaks by infectious disease experts.

265,668 deaths worldwide

May 7: worldwide cases: 3,843,555; worldwide deaths: 265,668

May 2020 COVID-19

Insufficient Testing

May 7: NPR reported that the Trump administration had said on April 27 the U.S. would soon have enough capacity to conduct double the current amount of testing for active infections.

As of May 7, according to the nonprofit Covid Tracking Project, the country had done nearly 248,000 tests daily on average in the previous seven days.

The Harvard’s Global Health Institute, proposed that the U.S. should be doing more than 900,000 tests per day as a country.

An accompanying chart showed that of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, in rank of testing insufficiency, the first 31 places were insufficient before the first was–North Dakota. Eleven states followed before the next state with sufficient testing (Utah). All told, only 7 states had met what most testing models predict necessary.

Dr Bright/Office of Special Counsel

May 8: CNN reported that the former federal vaccine chief Dr Richard Bright’s lawyers said the investigative office reviewing the whistleblower complaint of Dr. Richard Bright had determined there was reason to believe he had been removed as retaliation.

The office recommended he be reinstated during the investigation, the lawyers said. Bright had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority since 2016 when he was reassigned last month to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health.

The Office of Special Counsel “advised that in light of this determination, it would contact the Department of Health and Human Services (‘HHS’) to request that it stay Dr. Bright’s removal as Director of BARDA for 45 days to allow OSC sufficient time to complete its investigation of Bright’s allegations,” Bright’s lawyers said in a statement.

May 8:  the NYT reported that in an  advancement that promised to greatly expand the nation’s testing capacity, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first antigen test that could rapidly detect whether a person had been infected by the coronavirus.

The FDA gave emergency use authorization for the test, by the Quidel Corporation of San Diego, according to a notice on the agency’s website.

May 2020 COVID-19

277,087 deaths worldwide

May 9: cases: 4,044,795; deaths: 277,087

Administration quarantines

May 9: three top public health officials in the Trump administration began partial or full self-quarantine for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive: Representatives for Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

May 2020 COVID-19

Top health experts testify that the U.S. is not ‘out of the woods’ and warn against reopening too fast.

The day after President Trump had declared, “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed,” experts of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response warned of dire consequences if states did not proceed with caution in reopening

They painted a grim picture of the months ahead, warning a Senate panel that the United States does not yet have control over the pandemic and lacks crucial capabilities to contain an inevitable surge in cases that could arise if the nation moves too quickly to reopen the economy.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “but we are more prepared.”

Dr. Redfield’s remark along with comments of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, made clear that the country was still facing steep challenges in responding to the pandemic. [NYT article; CNN article]

May 2020 COVID-19

291,354 deaths worldwide

May 12: cases: 4,318,171; deaths: 291,354

May 2020 COVID-19

Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug against the virus.

May 18: President Trump said  that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug whose effectiveness against the coronavirus is unproven, for about a week and a half as a preventive measure.

“All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK,” he said, explaining that he takes a daily pill. The White House physician said later that Mr. Trump had no symptoms and had regularly tested negative for the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a safety warning in April about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, malaria prevention drugs that have been repeatedly promoted by Mr. Trump and widely used to treat virus patients despite the lack of evidence that they work. [NYT article] (see May 25 below)

320,795  deaths worldwide

May 19: cases: 4,924,023; deaths: 320,795

May 2020 COVID-19

WHO reports largest single-day increase in coronavirus 

May 20: CNN reported that Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, on Wednesday said that more cases had been reported to the agency in the last 24 hours than any time since the novel coronavirus outbreak began.

“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” Tedros said at a briefing in Geneva. “In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO – the most in a single day since the outbreak began. Almost two-thirds of these cases were reported in just four countries.”

Those four countries, WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove confirmed to CNN in an email, are: the United States, Russia, Brazil and India.

Disease models suggest tens of thousands of U.S. deaths could have been prevented

May 21: the NY Times reported that according to new estimates from Columbia University disease modelers, if the United States had begun imposing social-distancing measures one week earlier in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the pandemic.

And if the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than when most people started staying home, a vast majority of the nation’s deaths — about 83 percent — would have been avoided, the researchers estimated.

320,795  deaths worldwide

May 21: cases: 5,112,010; deaths: 330,255

May 2020 COVID-19

Drug touted by Trump as treatment linked to greater risk of death, study finds

May 22: CNN reported that seriously ill Covid-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die or develop dangerous heart arrhythmias, according to a large observational study published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Researchers looked at data from more than 96,000 Covid-19 patients from 671 hospitals. All were hospitalized from late December to mid-April and had died or been discharged by April 21. Just below 15,000 were treated with the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, or one of those drugs combined with an antibiotic.
Those treatments were linked with a higher risk of dying in the hospital, the study found. About 1 in 6 patients treated with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone died in the hospital, compared to 1 in 11 patients in the control group. (see May 25 below)
May 22: as it tracked the coronavirus’s spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was combining tests that detected active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 — a system that muddied the picture of the pandemic but raised the percentage of Americans tested as President Trump boasted about testing.

With serology tests, which look for antibodies in the blood of people who had recovered, were more widespread, C.D.C. officials said  they would work to separate them from the results of diagnostic tests, which detected active infection. One of the agency’s data tracker websites had been lumping them together. [NYT article]

May 2020 COVID-19

May 23: the NY Times reported that worldwide, the pace of new infections still climbed with over 100,000 new cases reported daily since May 21. The numbers were among the very worst since the pandemic began, second only to a single day in April, according to data compiled by the Times.

The list of countries seeing sharp increases was not limited to those in Central and South America. In India, infections had surged to over 125,000 people, and Iran, which experienced one of the earliest and most significant outbreaks, was undergoing a resurgence of new cases.

342,396  deaths worldwide

May 23: cases: 5,369,351;  deaths: 342,396

May 2020 COVID-19

Citing safety concerns, W.H.O. pauses tests

May 25: the World Health Organization said  that safety concerns had prompted it to temporarily remove the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine — which Mr. Trump said he had taken in hopes of warding off the coronavirus, despite the lack of evidence that it works — from a global drug trial aimed at finding treatments for Covid-19.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director-general, said officials had decided on a “temporary pause” in testing the drug after The Lancet published an observational study last week that found that people who took the drug were more likely to die. Several earlier studies had also found no benefit — and possible harm — when the drug was used by Covid-19 patients.

Dr. Tedros said his agency would review safety data. [NYT article]

348,334  deaths worldwide

May 26: cases: 5,611,601; deaths: 348,334

May 29: the NY Times reported that after spending weeks accusing the World Health Organization of helping the Chinese government cover up the early days of the coronavirus epidemic in China, President Trump said that the United States would terminate its relationship with the agency.

There was no evidence that the W.H.O. or the government in Beijing hid the extent of the epidemic in China, and public health experts generally view Mr. Trump’s charges as a way to deflect attention from his administration’s own bungled attempts to respond to the virus’s spread in the United States.

Supreme Court/Churches/COVID

May 29, 2020: the Supreme Court  turned away a request from a church in California to block enforcement of state restrictions on attendance at religious services.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority.

“Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion concurring in the unsigned ruling. [NYT article]

367,230  deaths worldwide

May 30: cases: 6,049,380; deaths: 367,230

Hydroxychloroquine  to Brazil

May 31: the NY Times reported that the White House had announced that United States had delivered two million doses of hydroxychloroquine  to Brazil for use in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The two countries were embarking on a joint research effort to study whether the drug was safe and effective for the prevention and early treatment of Covid-19.

The announcement came after months of controversy over the drug, hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump had aggressively promoted, despite a lack of scientific evidence of its effectiveness as a treatment for Covid-19. Mr. Trump had stunned public health experts by saying he was taking a two-week course of the medicine.

May 2020 COVID-19

Previous COVID-19 posts: