Tag Archives: COVID-19

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 cames 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
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April 2020 COVID 19

April 2020 COVID 19

The United States entered it’s second month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders and medical experts continued to speak of “flattening the curve,” but at the local level, stress and anxiety dominated the quotidian lives of most Americans. We hid from this invisible enemy that seemed to kill certain people more (the elderly, those with preexisting health conditions), yet often killed the apparently healthy as well.

This post covers the topic in a more general way. See Trump April for a post that deals more with President Trump and his administration’s policies regarding the disease.

Trump claims…

April 1, 2020: CNN reported that President Donald Trump had made another series of false, misleading or dubious claims at a  coronavirus briefing that began with an off-topic discussion of his administration’s efforts to fight drug trafficking.

Trump again said that “nobody” could have foreseen a pandemic crisis leading to a shortage of ventilators, for which there were numerous warnings. He predicted that the virus would no longer be a concern after about a month, a timeline at odds with assessments of experts. And he implied some states are basically fine when it comes to the coronavirus.

Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread

April 2, 2020: the NY Times reported that stay-at-home orders had nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast and other places that waited to enact such orders had continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerated according to an analysis of cellphone location data

COVID 19 April 2020

April 2020 COVID 19

Trump Claims Testing For Coronavirus Most Per Capita

April 2: Trump again said that “nobody” could have foreseen a pandemic crisis leading to a shortage of ventilators, for which there were numerous warnings. He predicted that the virus would no longer be a concern after about a month, a timeline at odds with assessments of experts. And he implied some states are basically fine when it comes to the coronavirus.

During his  briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump repeated a claim that the United States has done more testing for the contagion on a per-capita basis than any other country.

“We’re now conducting well over 100,000 coronavirus tests per day,” Trump said. “It’s over 100,000 tests a day. And these are accurate tests, and they’re moving rapidly, which is more than any other country in the world, both in terms of the raw number and also on a per-capita basis, the most.”

Given the population of the U.S. (about 327 million), that’s roughly one in every 273 people, as of April 2.

South Korea, with its population of 51.5 million, has done 431,743 tests, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s approximately one in every 119 people.

Germany had tested about one-in-90 people — 918,460 with a population of 82.8 million. Germany also happens to have one of the lowest fatality rates from COVID-19.

With 581,232 tests conducted, according to the Italian health ministry, and a population of roughly 60.5 million, Italy’s testing per capita is on par with South Korea — about one in every 104.

COVID 19 April 2020

Navy Captain Relieved of Duty

April 2020 COVID 19
Capt. Brett Crozier

April 2: acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly relieved Capt. Brett Crozier who had written a letter to his superiors about a coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier.

“I lost confidence in his ability,” acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said of Crozier.

Modly charged that by having “widely distributed” a letter highly critical of the management of a coronavirus outbreak Crozier had “allowed emotion” to color his judgment” and that the captain’s letter “was sent outside the chain of command.” (see April 6 below)

April 2020 COVID 19

1,000,000+ infections

April 3:  at least one million infections had been detected worldwide, but experts suspected that the true number was far larger because of asymptomatic cases and delays in widespread testing. The Australian medical chief estimated that there are between five million and 10 million cases.

The number of recorded deaths in the United States topped 1,000 in a single day for the first time. In New York City, the center of the country’s outbreak, both hospitals and morgues struggled to meet surging demand.

April 2020 COVID 19

April 2019

On April 3, 2020 CNN reported that at the at the BioDefense Summit on April 17,  2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council said, “Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

Such a statement undercut President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the coronavirus pandemic was an unforeseen problem.

C.D.C. says all Americans should wear masks.

Trump says he won’t.

April 3: President Trump said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was urging all Americans to wear a mask when they leave their homes, but he undercut the message by repeatedly calling the recommendation voluntary and saying he would not wear one himself.

“With the masks, it is going to be a voluntary thing,” the president said at the beginning of the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it. It may be good. It is only a recommendation, voluntary.”

“Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I don’t know,” he added, though he stopped receiving foreign dignitaries weeks ago. “Somehow, I just don’t see it for myself.” [NYT article]

April 2020 COVID 19

Trump Continues To Claim Drug Can Treat Coronavirus

April 3: NPR reported that President Trump continued to claim that hydroxychloroquine was a promising treatment for COVID-19.

“Hydroxychloroquine, I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s looking like it’s having some good results. I hope that, that would be a phenomenal thing.”

But the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine had just recently started, and the scientists in charge of them have not reported any results as yet, either positive or negative. Seeing any positive effect from the drug is likely to take some time, perhaps weeks.

Dr Anthony Fauci

April 3: during a CNN interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci , the nation’s top infectious disease expert said  he doesn’t understand why every state hasn’t issued stay-at-home orders as novel coronavirus cases continue to surge across the US.

“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during CNN’s coronavirus town hall.

April 2020 COVID 19

Surge yet…

April 4: the NY Times reported that President Trump predicted a surging death toll in what he said may be “the toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic before also dispensing unproven medical advice. He suggested again that Americans might be able to congregate for Easter services next Sunday.

“There will be a lot of death,” he said at the White House, where he and other American officials depicted some parts of the United States as climbing toward the peaks of their crises, while warning that new hot spots were emerging in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

April 2020 COVID 19

What do you have to lose?

April 5: NPR reported that President Trump doubled down on the suggestion that people facing the coronavirus should consider taking an anti-malaria drug that has not been proven to be an effective treatment.

In a news conference he repeated a line he has said many times before — “what do you have to lose?” — when detailing that the federal government had stockpiled 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for potential use to treat the virus. He also suggested doctors take the drug before treating coronavirus patients.

What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? And a lot of people are saying that when … and are taking it, if you’re a doctor, a nurse, a first responder, a medical person going into hospitals, they say taking it before the fact is good, but what do you have to lose? They say, take it, I’m not looking at it one way or the other, but we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early. But we have some very good signs. So that’s hydroxy chloroquine and as azithromycin, and again, you have to go through your medical people get the approval. But I’ve seen things that I sort of like, so what do I know? I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor, but I have common sense. [full transcript]

April 2020 COVID 19

70,525 deaths

April 6:  cases: 1,287,112 [view by country]; deaths: 70,525

April 6: Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said you can’t lift a lockdown all at once. “You need to say, ‘We will stop doing this element of the shutdown, and then we will wait, and we will look at the data. If that works, we go to the next stage and the next stage.’ So a careful, calibrated stepwise exit from lockdown.” [NPR timeline]

April 2020 COVID 19

More Modley Mishaps

April 6: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly flew to Guam where the the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt  was docked. On board, Modly excoriated the fired commander of the ship to its crew via the ship’s internal loudspeaker system according to a transcript that was leaked online. The New York Times obtained an audio recording that supports the transcript’s authenticity.

In a profane and defensive address that one crew member described in an interview as “whiny, upset, irritated, condescending,” Modly took repeated shots at the integrity of Capt. Brett E. Crozier.

He also rebuked the crew for having cheered their captain as he left the ship. [NYT article]

April 7: Modly resigned. (see April 24 below)

Trump Attacks WHO

April 7: The NY  Times reported that President Trump threatened to cut funding from the World Health Organization, accusing it of not being aggressive enough in confronting the dangers from the virus.
“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O.,”  Trump said.
In fact,  on January 30  the W.H.O. officially declared COVID a  “public health emergency of international concern.”weeks before Trump declared a national emergency. In fact, on that same day, Trump said, “We think we have it very well under control.”

76, 323 deaths

April 7:  Cases: 1,361,674 [view by country] Deaths: 76,323

83,512 deaths

April 8: cases: 1,450,950 (view by country); deaths: 83,512

April 8: “Please don’t politicize this virus,” Tedros said in a briefing in Geneva after he was asked about Trump’s remarks the day before. He later urged political leaders to “please quarantine politicizing COVID.” [NPR timeline]

89,426 deaths

April 9: cases: 1,529,968 (view by country) ; deaths: 89,426

April 2020 COVID 19

Mid-February in NY

April 9: the NY Times reported that new research indicated that the coronavirus began to circulate in the New York area by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, and that travelers brought in the virus mainly from Europe, not Asia.

“The majority is clearly European,” said Harm van Bakel, a geneticist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who co-wrote a study awaiting peer review.

A separate team at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine came to strikingly similar conclusions, despite studying a different group of cases. Both teams analyzed genomes from coronaviruses taken from New Yorkers starting in mid-March.

The research revealed a previously hidden spread of the virus that might have been detected if aggressive testing programs had been put in place.

97,192 deaths

April 10: cases: 1,622,049 [view by country] deaths: 97,192

107,644 deaths

April 11: cases, 1,760,853 [view by country] deaths: 107,644

114,053 deaths

April 12: cases, 1,849,473 [view by country] deaths: 114,053

April 2020 COVID 19

US Has Most COVID Deaths 

April 12: NPR reported that the death toll in the United States from the coronavirus  surpassed Italy’s, putting America at No. 1 worldwide for the number of people killed by the strain.

Data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center show the U.S. lost more than 20,600 patients to the virus. At the same point, Italy had nearly 19,500 deaths.

Chloroquine Study Halted

April 13: the NY Times reported that a small study of chloroquine, which is closely related to the hydroxychloroquine drug that President Trump has promoted, was halted in Brazil after coronavirus patients taking a higher dose developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal arrhythmia.

The study, which involved 81 hospitalized patients in the city of Manaus, was sponsored by the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Roughly half the participants were prescribed 450 milligrams of chloroquine twice daily for five days, while the rest were prescribed 600 milligrams for 10 days.

Within three days, researchers started noticing heart arrhythmias in patients taking the higher dose. By the sixth day of treatment, 11 patients had died, leading to an immediate end to the high-dose segment of the trial.

117,785 deaths

April 13: cases: 1,898,018 [view by country] ; deaths: 117,785

April 2020 COVID 19

Where it IT come from?

April 13: CNN reported that despite evidence from infectious disease experts suggesting otherwise, nearly 30% of Americans in a new Pew poll said they believe the novel coronavirus was likely created in a lab.

The latest poll from the public opinion fact tank shows that misinformation around the virus is still king, even as fact checkers and public health officials work furiously to dispel it and save American lives.
A total of 23% of adults polled said they believe the virus was created intentionally. This was almost certainly not true, according to the genetic detectives studying the virus’s origins.
And 43% — a plurality, but not an overwhelming majority — said the virus likely came about naturally. This is most likely the truth, according to virus experts.

123,481 deaths

 April 14: cases: 1,956,457 [view by country]; deaths: 123,481

COVID 19 April 2020

April 14: the NY Times reported that recent polls had show that more Americans disapproved of  President Trump’s handling of the virus than approve.

On this date, the president tried to shift the blame elsewhere, ordered his administration to halt funding for the World Health Organization and claimed the organization had made a series of devastating mistakes as it sought to battle the virus. He said his administration would conduct a review into whether the W.H.O. was responsible for “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread.

“So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” the president told reporters during a White House briefing.

António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, defended the World Health Organization, saying it “must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.”

Guterres added that it was “possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities,” but he said that the middle of a pandemic was not the time to resolve those differences.

“It is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus,” he said.

Patrice A. Harris, the president of the American Medical Association, said that the move was “a dangerous step in the wrong direction.” [2nd NYT article]

133,276 deaths

April 15: cases: 2,067,900, [view by country] ; deaths: 133,276

144,313 deaths

April 16: cases: 2,164,984 [view by country]; deaths: 144,313

China revises its figures

April 17: the NY Times reported that faced with mounting skepticism over its official figures, China  revised upward its death toll in the city where the coronavirus first emerged.

Officials placed the new tally at 3,869 deaths from the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, an increase of 1,290, or 50 percent, from the previous figure. The number of confirmed infections in the city was also revised upward to 50,333, an increase of 325.

Officials in Wuhan said the revised death toll included those who died at home in the early days of the outbreak, as well as deaths that had not been properly reported by hospitals or registered on death certificates.

152,398 deaths

April 17: cases, 2,225,394;  [view by country]; deaths: 152,398

April 2020 COVID 19

Global Citizen Virtual Concert

April 18: Former first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama made an appearance on the Global Citizen “One World: Together At Home” televised concert special, separately, from their own homes, sharing messages of thanks and hope.

“Michelle and I are thrilled to join you tonight in your homes for this special program,” said Bush.
The concet’s goal was to honor front-line healthcare workers and support the World Health Organization (WHO).
The hours-long event began online before being simulcast on the major TV networks. Musicians and entertainers from around the world, including Lady Gaga, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Maluma and Lizzo, made appearances. [Forbes article]

US exports PPE

April 18: according to a Washington Post analysis of customs data, US manufacturers exported roughly $17.6 million in face masks and other vital medical supplies in January and February of 2020.  That was a 1,000% increase from the same period last year, where exporters shipped $1.4 million worth of the products, according to The Post.

161,270 deaths

April 19: cases: 2,350,075  [view by country]; deaths: 161,270.

169,943 deaths

April 20: cases: 2,470,893, [view by country] ; deaths: 169,943

April 2020 COVID 19

Earlier COVID Deaths

April 21: the NY Times reported that the medical examiner of Santa Clara California revealed that autopsies of two people who died at their homes on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 were infected with the coronavirus — weeks before the first officially recorded death in Seattle. The revelation gave public health detectives trying to retrace the path of the coronavirus across America another clue  to that path.

Neither of the victims had a travel history, meaning that in all probability they were infected in the community, indicating that the virus was already spreading at that time.

178,669 deaths

April 22: cases: 2,575,875 [view by country] deaths: 178,669

191,899 deaths

April 24: cases: 2,746,954 [view by country]; deaths: 191,899

April 24: the NY Times reported that the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday, and the acting Navy Secretary, James McPherson recommended that Capt. Brett E. Crozier should be restored to command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

But Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, who was briefed on the recommendations, has asked for more time to consider whether he would sign off on the reinstatement.

April 2020 COVID 19

Immunity?

April 23: the Irish Times reported that the World Health Organisation (WHO) said  that there was currently “no evidence” that people who have recovered from coronavirus and have antibodies are protected from a second coronavirus infection.

In a scientific brief, the United Nations agency warned governments against issuing “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to people who have been infected as their accuracy could not be guaranteed.

The practice could actually increase the risks of continued spread as people who have recovered from the illness, also known as Covid-19, may ignore advice about taking standard precautions against the virus, it said. [NPR story]

WHO dissed

April 24: Reuters reported that a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva announced that the United States would not take part in the launching of a global initiative on May 1 to speed the development, production and distribution of drugs and vaccines against COVID-19.

There will be no U.S. official participation”, he said in an email reply to a query. “We look forward to learning more about this initiative  in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

198,532 deaths

April 25: cases: 2,855,699 [view by country]; deaths: 198,532

200,000+ Deaths

April 26: cases: 2,953,699; deaths: 204,723

228,828 deaths

April 30: cases: 3,237,600; deaths: 228,828

April 2020 COVID 19
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Trump COVID 19 Continue

Trump COVID 19 Continue

This is the second post that deals primarily with President Trump and his administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find the first one here.

In that post I related that on January 18, Health and Human Services  Secretary Alex M Azar had had his first discussion about the virus with President Trump.

More than a month later, President Trump continued to suggest that the COVID-19 crisis was not nearly as serious as many stridently stated. He would continue downplaying issues that medical authorities talked about the rest of the month.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

False Claims

March 4:  ian interview with Sean Hannity, Trump called the WHO’s estimate of the global death rate “false,” described the coronavirus as “very mild,” and suggested that those infected can get better by “sitting around” and “going to work.”

March 4: House passed $8.3 billion emergency bill, aimed mainly at the immediate health response to the virus.

In a Fox News interview, Trump deflected criticism to his response by saying the Obama administration (including the vice president, Joe Biden) “didn’t do anything about” swine flu. Politifact rated the claim False.

Trump continued to blame the Obama administration in an exchange with reporters at the White House.

“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing.”

Politifact also rated that claim false also because the process dated back to 2006, before Obama took office.

March 5: in a WHO briefing, Tedros Adhanom praised China and the U.S. for taking “the right approach.” He said: “After our visit to Beijing and seeing China’s approach, and President Xi leading that, and also in the U.S., President Trump himself, and also for regular coordination, designating the vice president. These are the approaches we’re saying are the right ones, and these are the approaches we’re saying are going to mobilize the whole government.”

In a Fox News town hall, Trump said, “It’s going to all work out. Everybody has to be calm. It’s all going to work out.” [NPR timeline]

Trump COVID 19 Continue

Grand Princess

March 6: Grand Princess cruise ship with over 2,000 passengers waited to dock off the California coast because at least several of those passengers had tested positive for the coronavirus and many showed symptoms.

Asked about the docking of the Grand Princess, Trump said : “I would rather (Grand Princess passengers stay aboard) because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.” 

Trump went on to say that he thought it was more important for passengers to debark than to keep the numbers down.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

Testing?

In a news conference, Trump downplayed the concerns around testing:

“Anybody that wants a test can get a test.”

With tests in short supply, Politifact rated the claim False.

The same day, Trump tweeted out blame to the media and the Democrats for trying to “inflame” the situation “far beyond what the facts would warrant.”

The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, “The risk is low to the average American.”

March 7: the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassed 100,000.

President Trump said,  “No, I’m not concerned at all/ No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.

March 8: over 100 countries report cases of COVID-19.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

Pandemic?

March 9: WHO moved closer to declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” Tedros says during a press

Trying to minimize the crisis, President Trump tweeted:

Trump COVID 19 Continue

March 10: in a meeting with Republican senators at the U.S. Capitol, Trump said, “This was unexpected. … And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” [NPR timeline]

March 11: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

President Trump used a prime-time Oval Office address to announce a ban on travel for non-Americans from most of Europe. He misstates a freeze on cargo and falsely said the health insurance industry has “agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments.” In reality, getting tested would be free, but treatment would not be covered.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

National Emergency

March 13: President Trump declared a national emergency to access $50 billion for states and territories, and clear the way for fast-track waivers for hospitals and doctors as they respond to the virus.

He also tweeted falsely: ” “President Trump, COVID-19 coronavirus: U.S. cases 1,329; U.S. deaths, 38; panic level: mass hysteria. President Obama, H1N1 virus: U.S. cases, 60.8 million; U.S. deaths, 12,469; panic level: totally chill. Do you all see how the media can manipulate your life.”

March 14: The House passed a worker and business relief bill with paid leave guarantees for certain workers, expanded food assistance and unemployment insurance benefits, and employer tax credits. Trump signedit four days later.

March 15: President Trump advised citizens to avoid groups of more than 10. New York City’s public schools system, the nation’s largest with 1.1 million students, also announced that it would close.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

Work From Home

March 17: President Trump said in a news conference that for the next 14 days, “we’re asking everyone to work at home, if possible, postpone unnecessary travel, and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people.”

Trump falsely claimed that there was no shift in tone from the White House.

“I’ve always known this is a real, this is a pandemic. I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

Asked if the World Health Organization had offered detection tests to the United States, Trump falsely said WHO had not, and that the WHO coronavirus test “was a bad test.”

March 18: in comments made during a White House media briefing, President Trump falsely claimed that “The coronavirus “snuck up on us,” adding that it is “a very unforeseen thing.”

Trump COVID 19 Continue

False Hope

March 21: President Trump over enthusiastically praised the possible use of hydrooxychloroquine and azithrommycin as treatments for COVID-19 even though the  substance, also known as chloroquine phosphate, had not gone through rigorous scientific testing as a coronavirus treatment.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

March 23: following the “advice” of President Trump, a Phoenix-area man died  after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, thinking it would protect against the coronavirus.

March 24: President Trump said on Fox News he wants the U.S. economy to “open” back up by Easter Sunday, even as the number of coronavirus cases in the country accelerates.

In another Fox interview, Trump said, “You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

Trump COVID 19 Continue

More testing

March 27: NPR reported that when asked why the United States did not import coronavirus tests when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran into difficulty developing its own,  Trump government officials had questioned the quality of the foreign-made alternatives referring to a Chinese study that reported nearly half false-positives.

NPR  learned that that study was retracted just days after it was published online in early March.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

Two Trillion $

March 27: President Trump signed into law a $2 trillion measure designed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. In the largest economic stimulus package in modern American history, the government will deliver direct payments and jobless benefits for individuals, money for states and a huge bailout fund for businesses battered by the crisis.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

The NY Times reported that President Trump had announced that the federal government would buy thousands of ventilators from a variety of makers.

His announcement came shortly after authorizing the government to “use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act,” a Korean War-era authority allowing the federal government to commandeer General Motors’ factories and supply chains, to produce ventilators.

Just 24 hours before, Trump had dismissed the complaints of mayors and governors who said that they were getting little of the equipment they needed for an expected onslaught of serious cases.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

CNN Press Conference evaluation

At a news conference that day,  Trump continued to make claims that were weakly true or not true:

  • Trump claimed that 22 days ago, “everything was going beautifully” before the US got hit by what he called “the invisible enemy.” He said, “22 days ago we had the greatest economy in the world, everything was going beautifully, the stock market hit an all-time high”

Facts First: While the market had previously set all-time records under Trump, on March 5, 22 days before Trump’s comments, the Dow dropped 3.6% or 970 points, then its fifth-worst single-day point drop on record, adding to a 3,000-point drop since its peak on February 12. That day’s fall in the Dow followed drops of 1,000 points and 800 points earlier that week.

  • Multiple times throughout the press briefing, the President claimed the current situation was unprecedented and unforeseen. According to Trump, “nobody was prepared for this,” not even past presidents. He added, “In all fairness to all of the former presidents, none of them ever thought a thing like this could happen.”
Facts First: This is false. The US intelligence community and public health experts had warned for years that the country was at risk from a pandemic. Experts had also warned that the country would face shortages of critical medical equipment, such as ventilators, if a pandemic occurred.
Here is a link about some of the pandemic warnings. Here is a link about warnings about the need for additional ventilators in a pandemic.

 

  • As he did on Twitter earlier on Friday, Trump suggested at the briefing that General Motors should manufacture ventilators at its plant in Lordstown, Ohio: “…frankly, I think that would be a good place to build the ventilators, but we’ll see,” Trump said.

Facts First:General Motors sold the shuttered Lordstown facility in November 2019. Trump had applauded the potential sale in a tweet in May 2019. Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said on Twitter after Trump’s Friday tweet but before the briefing: “General Motors sold Lordstown. If the President cared about its former workers, he would know that.”

  • Trump said of the coronavirus: “You can call it a germ, you can call it a flu, you can call it a virus, you know you can call it many different names. I’m not sure anybody even knows what it is.”
Facts First: You cannot accurately call the coronavirus “a flu.” They are, simply, different viruses with different characteristics, though they share some symptoms the coronavirus has a much higher mortality rate.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday during an online chat with NBA star Stephen Curry that the coronavirus is “very much more transmissible than flu and more importantly, it’s significantly more serious” — with a mortality rate approximately 10 times higher than the 0.1% for the flu.
It’s also obviously untrue that there is not “anybody” who knows what the coronavirus is. Though it was initially seen as a mystery virus when it emerged in China, we knew its genetic information by early January.
  • Trump said, “We sent thousands of ventilators to New York and they didn’t know about it at the time, they were complaining. Thousands. We had 2,000 and then 2,000 and then 4,000, and they were going there in large numbers.” Trump also said at the briefing that New York had been unaware of thousands of ventilators sitting in “a warehouse.”

Facts First: There is no evidence that New York did not know ventilators had arrived from the federal government when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was demanding additional ventilators. “Not true,” New York state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday night. “We knew the ventilators arrived — and we need more ventilators. This is just the beginning of addressing the problem that we have.” Zucker specified that a total of 4,000 ventilators had been received, not the 8,000 Trump suggested here.

Here’s a rough timeline of what happened.
Cuomo said last weekend that the state needed 30,000 ventilators. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that 400 ventilators had been secured for New York City. Cuomo replied at a news conference that 400 ventilators were not cause for self-congratulation, adding, “What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” It was later on Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence announced that 2,000 additional ventilators had been shipped to New York that day and that 2,000 more would be shipped the following day.
Cuomo told CNN on Friday that Trump was “incorrect and grossly uninformed” in his comments about New York having been unaware of a stockpile of ventilators sitting around in New York. Cuomo said the state does not need to dip into the stockpile at the moment; he said his estimate of 30,000 ventilators needed is about the expected peak of the crisis in approximately 21 days, not about the present moment.
“So the point is, ‘Well they’re in a stockpile, you must not need them’ is just ignorant — of course you don’t need them today!” Cuomo said. “You need them when you hit the apex, which is 30,000. We’re not there yet.”
Trump COVID 19 Continue

Quarantine/No Quarantine

March 28: the NY Times reported that President Trump had said on  that he would not impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and Connecticut but would instead issue a “strong” travel advisory to be implemented by the governors of the three states.

Mr. Trump made the announcement on Twitter just hours after telling reporters that he was considering a quarantine of the three states in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus to Florida and other states.

Later that same night, the C.D.C. issued a formal advisory urging the residents of the three states to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.”

Trump COVID 19 Continue

March 29: the NY Times reported that President Trump said that the federal government’s guidelines for social distancing would last until April 30, backing down from his previous comments that he hoped the country could go back to work by Easter.

He had clashed with public health experts around the country when he suggested on March 24 that the guidelines — which urge people to stay at home and not to gather in groups of more than 10 — might be relaxed by April 12. His announcement  indicated that he had backed down from that suggestion.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

March 30: the NY Times reported that President Trump said that he and his advisers expected the number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus to peak around Easter, though he cited no data to back up his claim.

That’s going to be the highest point, we think, and then it’s going to start coming down from there,” Mr. Trump said during an interview on Fox & Friends. “That will be a day of celebration, and we just want to do it right so we picked the end of April.

At this point, the United States led the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

Trump COVID 19 Continue
No shortage/severe shortage

March 30: the NY Times reported that President Trump had told governors on a conference call: “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks. We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world. We’ve got these great tests and we’re coming out with a faster one this week.”

Trump added, “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem.” suggesting that a chronic lack of kits to screen people for the coronavirus was no longer a problem.

But governors painted a different picture on the ground.

Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, a Democrat, said that officials in his state were trying to do “contact tracing” — tracking down people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive — but that they were struggling because “we don’t have adequate tests,” according to an audio recording of the conversation obtained by The New York Times.

“Literally we are one day away, if we don’t get test kits from the C.D.C., that we wouldn’t be able to do testing in Montana,” Mr. Bullock said.

Trump COVID 19 Continue

See Trump April for continued chronology…

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