Beastie Boys Story has a little bit of everything. Billed as a ''live documentary,'' the film'--out Friday on Apple TV+'--is a companion to Beastie Boys Book, written by Adam ''Ad-Rock'' Horovitz and Mike Diamond, better known as Mike D'--a massive 590 pages crammed with in-jokes, essays, maps, lists, recipes, memories, and amazingly candid photos. The movie, directed by Beastie Boys' longtime collaborator and friend Spike Jonze, was shot last year, over the course of three nights at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. But it has the feel of a ''one-night-only'' special: Cues are botched, marks are missed, and some (admittedly lame) jokes don't land.
Therein lies the charm of Beastie Boys Story, and of the Beastie Boys' four-decade career. They started as Budweiser-swilling party monsters; they grew into introspective, respected elders of the hip-hop scene, without ever losing their sense of humor.
The only pallor hanging over the proceedings is the early death of the third Beastie Boy, Adam ''MCA'' Yauch'--who lost his life after a nearly three-year cancer battle in 2012. It was Yauch's vision that helped form the group; in the film, Horovitz gets choked up remembering the 2009 Bonnaroo performance that would become their last.
I spoke with Horovitz, Diamond, and Jonze via Zoom, for a rollicking, 55-minute interview that was a bit like moderating a reunion between three old college friends'--or three littermate puppies that have been separated for the day. After several wardrobe changes and Zoom backdrop adjustments, our conversation veered from Yauch's culinary skills to Madonna, the 1997 Bulls to Mike D's desire to make a documentary about farts.
Watch Beastie Boys Story:
Vanity Fair: Spike, tell me about the day you met Adam and Mike. What clicked?
Spike Jonze: I was shooting photos of them for a magazine that me and my friends had, called Dirt, in 1991. We were recording the interview on a cassette recorder, and they brought one too. They said, ''We're going to record this interview too, to make sure our quotes are printed correctly. Jerry Lewis used to do it, and he told us to do it too.''
Mike Diamond: I'd like to talk about what didn't click right away with Spike [laughs]. It's our own fault, really. We were about 21 when we met Spike, and he was only 19. When you're 21, and we had Licensed to Ill come out'--which was incredibly successful and sold millions of copies'--you kinda think you're the shit. We were in Los Angeles, recording our follow-up, Paul's Boutique, and we were still jerks a little bit. We showed up to do this magazine photo shoot, and they sent us this kid. ''How dare they send a kid to shoot us!''
You wanted Annie Leibovitz?
Diamond: At that point, we certainly didn't know who Annie Leibovitz was. We were just expecting someone in leather riding boots with eight assistants. It was just Spike, this kid with a huge camera bag and tons of equipment.
To Spike's credit, he has this thing where he's very unflappable. We used to put him through these mini-tests, or mini-quests, of fucking with him. Nothing threw him off. We also had a lot of shared, cultural reference points, coming from punk rock and skater culture. That stuff was so important to us.
Adam Horovitz: He was always just around. This guy, again? Ahh'...ok.
Jonze: That was 95% of it, probably.
Part of the charm of the documentary is that when a cue is missed, or a joke doesn't land, you show your nerves. Is this the first time you've felt nervous onstage since the early days?
Horovitz: It was out of our comfort zone, for sure, but I wasn't nervous to be doing stupid shit onstage. That's easy. In our lives, we all tell the same stories over and over to our friends. But when you write it down, then have to stick to a script and say it out loud to a bunch of people, it's weird. We're not necessarily very good at it.
You weren't nervous on your first tour opening for Madonna?
Diamond: No, because we had a plan, which was just a full-on assault on the audience. We wanted to make them hate us as much as we could in 10 minutes. We were pretty good at executing that plan.
Being in a band gives you confidence, because you're like a team, or a gang. There is strength in those numbers. Every time we played Madison Square Garden, which is the place that all of us grew up going to see the circus or Knicks games as little kids, it was always a huge deal, and that made us a little nervous. Bottom line, for decades as friends, we got very comfortable playing music in front of an audience. What Adam and I realized playing the Kings Theatre for the documentary was that we were using a completely different part of our brains, having to stick to the script.
The documentary spans several decades. Do any parts of it make you cringe now?
Horovitz: It wasn't so much the fashion in the '80s, because we looked great. It was mostly the things we were saying and doing during that time that makes me cringe. It's one thing to look back on mistakes you've made, which is important to do so you can move forward. It's a completely different feeling to do that in front of a massive screen showing me being a fucking idiot, in front of a thousand people. Add in the fact that we were working with such a tremendous filmmaker like Spike Jonze'--that's what made me nervous. If I didn't hit my mark onstage, I'd never be able to work in this town again.
Spike directed several of your music videos, including ''Sabotage.'' Who came up with the idea of doing a '70s cop theme?
Jonze: The band had always wanted me to shoot photos of them as cops. I remember I had grown a mustache; I tried to talk you guys into growing them too. I give Adam credit because he's the only one that actually [did]. We had to buy a bunch of fake ones from the East Side mustache district. I don't know if you know this, but there's a whole mustache district in East Los Angeles.
I want to go back to Madonna for a minute'...
Horovitz: What is it with you and Madonna?
Diamond: Have you written a lot of features about Madonna? Have you talked to a therapist about her? What's the deal?
I want to know if there are any celebrities that have left you starstruck.
Jonze: I get starstruck with Adam Horovitz a lot. It's intense. Adam is hot in a way that is hard to comprehend.
Horovitz: Yep. I just ooze heat.
Diamond: Adam has a great starstruck story from when we were on tour. Adam went up to the pool or the gym of whatever hotel we were at, and saw Shaquille O'Neal. Instead of saying, ''Hi, I'm Adam Horovitz from Beastie Boys,'' he pointed at Shaq and squealed, ''Ooh-Ooh-Ooh!''
Have you been watching ESPN's The Last Dance, a documentary about Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls, in quarantine?
Diamond: I was watching episode two last night, and what I found really interesting is that there's so much timeline crossover. During the decades when they were winning championships, we were putting out records and touring. We were playing the sports arenas where they played the same week. I realized that there's such a fragile chemistry between a basketball team and management, and all the pieces that make a band. It's very different personalities from very different backgrounds, all having to make a team work. It's a very fragile, little ecosystem.
Horovitz: Who do you see yourself as on that Bulls team, Mike?
Diamond: Scottie Pippen, 100%. I'm underpaid. You're B.J. Armstrong, Adam. You've got a good-looking dribble and shot.
Horovitz: Fuck you, Mike.
Is there anything you wanted as a band, but never got'--maybe a project or collaboration that never happened? Or did you leave it all on the court?
Diamond: One thing that led to us doing the book was that Yauch always wanted to do a The Kids Are Alright''type documentary of the band, using archival footage. Sadly, he didn't live to execute that, but I think we've checked that box with the book and documentary.
Horovitz: This is a bummer, but it's true. On our last record [2011's Hot Sauce Committee Part Two] we had a song called ''Make Some Noise.'' For us, it was our best instrumental playing and rap song. It was the best combination of the two'--but we never got to perform that song live. I really would have liked to have done that.
Do you get hip-hop in 2020, or have you aged out of it?
Horovitz: There's a lot of great rap music being made, and it's interesting to hear what producers and artists are doing with the instruments that we used, and how they're doing it now. I can't listen to a song and not notice that they've got hi-hats going on 32 notes, and where the bass comes in. Listening to a song is different for us.
Diamond: It's about craft. Us listening to a record is not like someone else listening to that record. We're analyzing how they're approaching it, and what's going into making it. I have friends working on the new Kendrick Lamar, so I'm looking forward to that. That's going to be an exciting record.
Did Yauch always seem like an old soul, even as a kid?
Horovitz: I don't know about old soul, but he always knew things. He knew things that I had never even thought about. A long time ago as kids, we were running through the streets at night, and I was diving on trash bags, because that's what you did as a New York kid. Yauch was like, ''Oh, you shouldn't do that again.'' I asked why, and he said, ''Because there could be broken glass in there.'' I had never thought about that. Even as kids, he was a really good cook. He was a different type of person.
Diamond: That's very true. If we were eating at each other's houses, which we did a lot as high school kids, I'd know how to put together a grilled cheese. Yauch would say, ''Tonight I'm making chicken cordon bleu.'' Horovitz and I were the youngest of three siblings, and Yauch was an only child, so he had the space to fulfill his own curiosity. Horovitz and I were fighting for our share of food and attention.
Between you three and Yauch, was there ever a clear, democratic decision about who is the funniest? Or is it always a game of one-upmanship?
Horovitz: It's definitely a game of one-upping each other, for sure.
Diamond: I don't know how people make records and films if they're not friends. We always made our records for each other. We always had each other as the audience. For me, it was a challenge of trying to crack up these other two people in the room. Working on this documentary, I felt the same thing with Adam and Spike.
Jonze: I picture you guys like a volleyball team in short-shorts, where one of you lobs the ball, and the other spikes. But the main thing is that you always look great in short-shorts.
Horovitz: Honestly, I'm not sure if Mike is that funny. When Mike is about to say something that he thinks is funny, it takes him 42 minutes to spit it out, because he's laughing to himself so hard that tears come down his face. When he finally gets it out, he says something like, ''I farted.'' That's the joke.
Diamond: Which is funny! There should be a documentary about farts.
Let's end this like a therapy session. Mike, what do you still find fascinating about Adam after all these years? What keeps the relationship fresh?
Diamond: Adam will always, relentlessly, diss the shit out of me every single time. He does it in a way that nobody else could, because he's known me for longer than anybody else. He will automatically cut to the chase, and just lay into me every time.
Horovitz: Do you remember those cartoons where the baby is walking around the construction site, and is about to fall off the building but lands on a girder that carries him to safety? That's Mike, and he's still like that. It's fascinating. He's a miraculously bulletproof baby.
All products featured on Vanity Fair are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
'-- Where Are Tiger King Stars Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin Now?'-- The Human Toll: The Artists Who Have Died From the Coronavirus'-- How to Watch Every Marvel Movie in Order During Quarantine'-- Why Doesn't Disney+ Have More Muppet Stuff?'-- All the New 2020 Movies Streaming Early Because of the Coronavirus'-- Tales From the Loop Is Stranger Than Stranger Things'-- From the Archive: The Making of the Cultural Phenomenon That Was Julia Child
Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hollywood newsletter and never miss a story.
The Anti-Mask League of San Francisco was an organization formed to protest the requirement for people in San Francisco, California, to wear masks during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Background Edit Cases of the Spanish flu began to appear in San Francisco during the fall of 1918. The first documented case was in late September; by mid-October, the city had more than 2,000 cases. The city's Board of Health enacted various measures to try to curb the disease, such as banning gatherings, closing schools and theaters, and warning citizens to avoid crowds. Professions that served customers (barbers, hotel and rooming house employees, bank tellers, druggists, store clerks, and any other person serving the public) were required to wear masks. Then on October 25, the city passed an ordinance that "every resident and visitor of San Francisco would be required to wear a mask while in public or when in a group of two or more people, except at mealtime."
Initial compliance with the mask ordinance was high with an estimated 4 out of 5 people wearing masks in public. The Red Cross sold masks at the terminal for people arriving by ferry. People who failed to wear a mask or wore it improperly were charged with "disturbing the peace" and then warned, fined, or jailed. The city health officer and the mayor both paid fines for not wearing masks at a boxing match.
The mask ordinance was annulled effective November 21, however cases of the flu began to increase again. A new ordinance mandating masks took effect January 17, 1919.
League formation Edit Although there were some complaints from citizens during the initial period of mask-wearing, the new ordinance in 1919 galvanized more serious opposition and the Anti-Mask League was formed. Members of the league included physicians, citizens, civil libertarians, and at least one member of the Board of Supervisors. An estimated 4,000''5,000 citizens attended the meeting on January 25. Some members of the league wanted to collect signatures on a petition to end the mask requirement, while others wanted to initiate recall procedures for the city health officer. The debate was heated. Some objections to the ordinance were based on questions of scientific data while others considered the requirement to infringe on civil liberties.
In addition to complaints from the Anti-Mask League, some health officers from other cities also contended that masks were not necessary. The San Francisco city health officer criticized the secretary of the state's Board of Health for questioning the efficacy of masks, saying "The attitude of the state board is encouraging the Anti-Mask League."
On January 27, the league presented a petition, signed by Mrs. E. C. Harrington as chairman, to the city's Board of Supervisors, requesting repeal of the mask ordinance. Newspapers across the world took note of the protesting organization. San Francisco lifted the mask requirement effective February 1, 1919, on the recommendation of the Board of Health.
See also Edit Anti-mask lawProtests over responses to the 2020 coronavirus pandemicReferences Edit ^ a b c d e "San Francisco, California and the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic". University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine: Influenza Encyclopedia . Retrieved 2020-04-19 . ^ a b c d Crosby, Alfred W. (2003-07-21). America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918. Cambridge University Press. pp. 112''113. ISBN 978-0-521-54175-6. ^ Torrey, E. Fuller; Yolken, Robert H. (2005-02-03). Beasts of the Earth: Animals, Humans, and Disease. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-3789-4. ^ "Big Mass Meeting Condemns Masks". Logansport Daily Tribune. February 14, 1919. p. 8. ^ Canales, Katie. "Photos show how San Francisco emerged from a lockdown too soon during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, leading to an even deadlier second wave that rampaged through the city". Business Insider . Retrieved 2020-04-22 . ^ Jr, Samuel K. Cohn (2018). Epidemics: Hate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS. Oxford University Press. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-19-881966-0. ^ Municipal Journal. Municipal Journal and Engineer, Incorporated. 1919. p. 111. ^ Supervisors, San Francisco (Calif ) Board of (1919). Journal of Proceedings, Board of Supervisors, City and County of San Francisco. p. 50. ^ "Anti-Mask League in San Franciso". Perth Truth. April 27, 1919. p. 11. ^ "18 Jan 1919, 1 - The Victoria Daily Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com . Retrieved 2020-04-20 . ^ "19 Jan 1919, Page 8 - Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com . Retrieved 2020-04-20 . ^ "You Don't Say So". The Macleay Chronicle, New South Wales. April 30, 1919. p. 4.
At the same time, we are impressed with how the world is coming together to fight this fight. Every day, we talk to scientists at universities and small companies, CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, or heads of government to make sure that the new tools I've discussed become available as soon as possible. And there are so many heroes to admire right now, including the health workers on the front line. When the world eventually declares Pandemic I over, we will have all of them to thank for it.
This is the full-length version of this post. You can read the condensed version, which appeared as an opinion article in the Washington Post, here.
The coronavirus pandemic pits all of humanity against the virus. The damage to health, wealth, and well-being has already been enormous. This is like a world war, except in this case, we're all on the same side. Everyone can work together to learn about the disease and develop tools to fight it. I see global innovation as the key to limiting the damage. This includes innovations in testing, treatments, vaccines, and policies to limit the spread while minimizing the damage to economies and well-being.
This memo shares my view of the situation and how we can accelerate these innovations. (Because this post is long, it is also available as a PDF.) The situation changes every day, there is a lot of information available'--much of it contradictory'--and it can be hard to make sense of all the proposals and ideas you may hear about. It can also sound like we have all the scientific advances needed to re-open the economy, but in fact we do not. Although some of what's below gets fairly technical, I hope it helps people make sense of what is happening, understand the innovations we still need, and make informed decisions about dealing with the pandemic.
Exponential growth and decline
In the first phase of the pandemic, we saw an exponential spread in a number of countries, starting with China and then throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. The number of infections was doubling many times every month. If people's behavior had not changed, then most of the population would have been infected. By changing behavior, many countries have gotten the infection rate to plateau and start to come down.
Exponential growth is not intuitive. If you say that 2 percent of the population is infected and this will double every eight days, most people won't immediately figure out that in 40 days, the majority of the population will be infected. The big benefit of the behavior change is to reduce the infection rate dramatically so that, instead of doubling every eight days, it goes down every eight days.
We use something called the reproduction rate, or R0 (pronounced ''are-nought''), to calculate how many new infections are caused by an earlier infection. R0 is hard to measure, but we know it's below 1.0 wherever the number of cases is going down and above 1.0 wherever the number of cases is going up. And what may appear to be a small difference in R0 can lead to very large changes.
If every infection goes from causing 2.0 cases to only causing 0.7 infections, then after 40 days you have one-sixth as many infections instead of 32 times as many. That's 192 times fewer cases. Here's another way to think about it: If you started with 100 infections in a community, after 40 days you would end up with 17 infections at the lower R0 and 3,200 at the higher one. Experts are debating now just how long to keep R0 very low to drive down the number of cases before opening up begins.
Exponential decline is even less intuitive. A lot of people will be stunned that in many places we will go from hospitals being overloaded in April to having lots of empty beds in July. The whiplash will be confusing, but it is inevitable from the exponential nature of infection.
As we get into the summer, some locations that maintain behavior change will experience exponential decline. However, as behavior goes back to normal, some locations will stutter along with persistent clusters of infections and some will go back into exponential growth. The picture will be more complex than it is today, with a lot of heterogeneity.
Have we overreacted?
It is reasonable for people to ask whether the behavior change was necessary. Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. There might be a few areas where the number of cases would never have gotten large numbers of infections and deaths, but there was no way to know in advance which areas those would be. The change allowed us to avoid many millions of deaths and extreme overload of the hospitals, which would also have increased deaths from other causes.
The economic cost that has been paid to reduce the infection rate is unprecedented. The drop in employment is faster than anything we have ever experienced. Entire sectors of the economy are shut down. It is important to realize that this is not just the result of government policies restricting activities. When people hear that an infectious disease is spreading widely, they change their behavior. There was never a choice to have the strong economy of 2019 in 2020.
Most people would have chosen not to go to work or restaurants or take trips, to avoid getting infected or infecting older people in their household. The government requirements made sure that enough people changed their behavior to get the reproduction rate below 1.0, which is necessary to then have the opportunity to resume some activities.
The wealthier countries are seeing reduced infections and starting to think about how to open up. Even as a government relaxes restrictions on behavior, not everyone will immediately resume the activities that are allowed. It will take a lot of good communication so that people understand what the risks are and feel comfortable going back to work or school. This will be a gradual process, with some people immediately doing everything that is allowed and others taking it more slowly. Some employers will take a number of months before they require workers to come back. Some people will want the restrictions lifted more rapidly and may choose to break the rules, which will put everyone at risk. Leaders should encourage compliance.
Differences among countries
The pandemic has not affected all countries equally. China was where the first infection took place. They were able to use stringent isolation and extensive testing to stop most of the spread. The wealthier countries, which have more people coming in from all over the world, were the next to be affected. The countries that reacted quickly to do lots of testing and isolation avoided large-scale infection. The benefits of early action also meant that these countries didn't have to shut down their economies as much as others.
The ability to do testing well explains a lot of the variation. It is impossible to defeat an enemy we cannot see. So testing is critical to getting the disease under control and beginning to re-open the economy.
So far, developing countries like India and Nigeria account for a small portion of the reported global infections. One of the priorities for our foundation has been to help ramp up the testing in these countries so they know their situation. With luck, some factors that we don't understand yet, like how weather might affect the virus's spread, will prevent large-scale infection in these countries.
However, our assumption should be that the disease dynamics are the same as in other countries. Even though their populations are disproportionately young'--which would tend to mean fewer deaths from COVID-19'--this advantage is almost certainly offset by the fact that many low-income people's immune systems are weakened by conditions like malnutrition or HIV. And the less developed a country's economy is, the harder it is to make the behavior changes that reduce the the virus's reproduction rate. If you live in an urban slum and do informal work to earn enough to feed your family every day, you won't find it easy to avoid contact with other people. Also, the health systems in these countries have far less capacity, so even providing oxygen treatment to everyone who needs it will be difficult.
Tragically, it is possible that the total deaths in developing countries will be far higher than in developed countries.
What we need to learn
Our knowledge of the disease will help us with tools and policies. There are a number of key things we still don't understand. A number of studies are being done to answer these questions, including one in Seattle done with the University of Washington. The global collaboration on these issues is impressive and we should know a lot more by the summer.
Is the disease seasonal or weather dependent? Almost all respiratory viruses (a group that includes COVID-19) are seasonal. This would mean there are fewer infections in the summer, which might lull us into complacency when the fall comes. This is a matter of degree. Because we see the novel coronavirus spreading in Australia and other places in the Southern hemisphere, where the seasons are the opposite of ours, we already know the virus is not as seasonal as influenza is.
How many people who never get symptoms have enough of the virus to infect others? What about people who are recovered and have some residual virus'--how infectious are they? Computer models show that if there are a lot of people who are asymptomatic but infectious, it is much harder to open up without a resurgence in cases. There is a lot of disagreement about how much infection comes from these sources, but we do know that many people with the virus don't report symptoms, and some portion of those might end up transmitting it.
Why do young people have a lower risk of becoming seriously ill when they get infected? Understanding the dynamics here will help us weigh the risks of opening schools. It is a complicated subject because even if young people don't get sick as often, they might still spread the disease to others.
What symptoms indicate you should get tested? Some countries are taking the temperature of lots of people as an initial screening tool. If doing this helps us find more potential cases, we could use it at airports and large gatherings. We need to target the tests we have at the people at greatest risk since we don't have enough tests for everyone.
Which activities cause the most risk of infection? People ask me questions about avoiding prepared food or door knobs or public toilets so they can minimize their risk. I wish I knew what to tell them. Judgements will have to be made about different kinds of gatherings like classes or church going and whether some kind of spacing should be required. In places without good sanitation, there may be spread from fecal contamination since people who are infected shed the virus.
Who is most susceptible to the disease? We know that older people are at much greater risk of both severe illness and death. Understanding how gender, race, and co-morbidities affect this is a work in progress.
The Gates Foundation's role
In normal times, the Gates Foundation puts more than half of its resources into reducing deaths from infectious diseases. These diseases are the reason why a child in a poor country is 20 times more likely to die before the age of five than one in a rich country. We invest in inventing new treatments and vaccines for these diseases and making sure they get delivered to everyone who needs them. The diseases include HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, and pneumonia. Whenever there is an epidemic like Ebola, SARS, or Zika we work with governments and the private sector to help model the risks and to help galvanize resources to create new tools to stop the epidemic. It was because of these experiences that I spoke out about the world not being ready for a respiratory epidemic in my 2015 TED talk. Although not enough was done, a few steps were taken to prepare, including the creation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, which I will discuss below, in the vaccine section.
Now that the epidemic has hit, we are applying our expertise to finding the best ideas in each area and making sure they move ahead at full speed. There are many efforts going on. More than 100 groups are doing work on treatments and another 100 on vaccines. We are funding a subset of these but tracking all of them closely. It is key to look at each project to see not only its chance of working but also the odds that it can be scaled up to help the entire world.
One urgent activity is to raise money for developing new tools. I think of this as the billions we need to spend so we can save trillions. Every additional month that it takes to get the vaccine is a month when the economy cannot return to normal. However, it isn't clear how countries will come together to coordinate the funding. Some could go directly to the private sector but demand that their citizens get priority. There is a lot of discussion among governments, the World Health Organization, the private sector, and our foundation about how to organize these efforts.
Innovation to beat the enemy
During World War II, an amazing amount of innovation, including radar, reliable torpedoes, and code-breaking, helped end the war faster. This will be the same with the pandemic. I break the innovation into five categories: treatments, vaccines, testing, contact tracing, and policies for opening up.Without some advances in each of these areas, we cannot return to the business as usual or stop the virus. Below, I go through each area in some detail.
Every week, you will be reading about new treatment ideas that are being tried out, but most of them will fail. Still, I am optimistic that some of these treatments will meaningfully reduce the disease burden. Some will be easier to deliver in rich countries than developing countries, and some will take time to scale. A number of these could be available by the summer or fall.
If in the spring of 2021 people are going to big public events'--like a game or concert in a stadium'--it will be because we have a miraculous treatment that made people feel confident about going out again. It's hard to know precisely what the threshold is, but I suspect it is something like 95 percent; that is, we need a treatment that is 95 percent effective in order for people to feel safe in big public gatherings. Although it is possible that a combination of treatments will have over 95 percent effectiveness, it's not likely, so we can't count on it. If our best treatments reduce the deaths by less than 95 percent, then we will still need a vaccine before we can go back to normal.
One potential treatment that doesn't fit the normal definition of a drug involves collecting blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, making sure it's free of the coronavirus and other infections, and giving the plasma to people who are sick. The leading companies in this area are working together to get a standard protocol to see if this works. They will have to measure each patient to see how strong their antibodies are. A variant of this approach is to take the plasma and concentrate it into a compound called hyperimmune globulin, which is much easier and faster to give a patient than unconcentrated plasma. The foundation is supporting a consortium of most of the leading companies that work in this area to accelerate the evaluation and, if the procedure works, be ready to scale it up. These companies have developed a Plasma Bot to help recovered COVID-19 patients donate plasma for this effort.
Another type of potential treatment involves identifying the antibodies produced by the human immune system that are most effective against the novel coronavirus. Once those antibodies have been found, they can be manufactured and used as a treatment or as a way to prevent the disease (in which case it is known as passive immunization). This antibody approach also has a good chance of working, although it's unclear how many doses can be made. It depends on how much antibody material is needed per dose; in 2021, manufacturers may be able to make as few as 100,000 treatments or many millions. The lead times for manufacturing are about seven months in the best case. Our grantees are working to compare the different antibodies and make sure the best ones get access to the limited manufacturing capacity.
There is a class of drugs called antivirals, which keep the virus from functioning or reproducing. The drug industry has created amazing antivirals to help people with HIV, although it took decades to build up the large library of very effective triple drug therapies. For the novel coronavirus, the leading drug candidate in this category is Remdesivir from Gilead, which is in trials now. It was created for Ebola. If it proves to have benefits, then the manufacturing will have to be scaled up dramatically.
The foundation recently asked drug companies to provide access to their pipeline of developed antiviral drugs so researchers funded by the Therapeutics Accelerator can run a screen to see which should go into human trials first. The drug companies all responded very quickly, so there is a long list of antivirals being screened.
Another class of drugs works by changing how the human body reacts to the virus. Hydroxychloroquine is in this group. The foundation is funding a trial that will give an indication of whether it works on COVID-19 by the end of May. It appears the benefits will be modest at best. Another type of drug that changes the way a human reacts to a virus is called an immune system modulator. These drugs would be most helpful for late-stage serious disease. All of the companies that work in this area are doing everything they can to help with trials.
Vaccines have saved more lives than any other tool in history. Smallpox, which used to kill millions of people every year, was eradicated with a vaccine. New vaccines have played a key role in reducing childhood deaths from 10 million per year in 2000 to fewer than 5 million per year today.
Short of a miracle treatment, which we can't count on, the only way to return the world to where it was before COVID-19 showed up is a highly effective vaccine that prevents the disease.
Unfortunately, the typical development time for a vaccine against a new disease is over five years. This is broken down into: a) making the candidate vaccine; b) testing it in animals; c) safety testing in small numbers of people (this is known as phase 1); d) safety and efficacy testing in medium numbers (phase 2); e) safety and efficacy testing in large numbers (phase 3); and f) final regulatory approval and building manufacturing while registering the vaccine in every country.
Researchers can save time by compressing the clinical safety/efficacy phases while conducting animal tests and building manufacturing capacity in parallel. Even so, no one knows in advance which vaccine approach will work, so a number of them need to be funded so they can advance at full speed. Many of the vaccine approaches will fail because they won't generate a strong enough immune response to provide protection. Scientists will get a sense of this within three months of testing a given vaccine in humans by looking at the antibody generation. Of particular interest is whether the vaccine will protect older people, whose immune systems don't respond as well to vaccines.
The issue of safety is obviously very important. Regulators are very stringent about safety, to avoid side effects and also to protect the reputation of vaccines broadly, since if one has significant problems, people will become more hesitant to take any vaccines. Regulators worldwide will have to work together to decide how large the safety database needs to be to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.
One step that was taken after the foundation and others called for investments in pandemic preparedness in 2015 was the creation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Although the resources were quite modest, they have helped advance new approaches to making vaccines that could be used for this pandemic. CEPI added resources to work on an approach called RNA vaccines, which our foundation had been supporting for some time. Three companies are pursuing this approach. The first vaccine to start human trials is an RNA vaccine from Moderna, which started a phase 1 clinical safety evaluation in March.
An RNA vaccine is significantly different from a conventional vaccine. A flu shot, for example, contains bits of the flu virus that your body's immune system learns to attack. This is what gives you immunity. With an RNA vaccine, rather than injecting fragments of the virus, you give the body the genetic code needed to produce lots of copies of these fragments. When the immune system sees the viral fragments, it learns how to attack them. An RNA vaccine essentially turns your body into its own vaccine manufacturing unit.
There are also at least five leading efforts that look promising and that use other approaches to teach the immune system to recognize and attack a viral infection. CEPI and our foundation will be tracking efforts from all over the world to make sure the most promising ones get resources. Once a vaccine is ready, our partner GAVI will make sure it is available even in low-income countries.
A big challenge for vaccine trials is that the time required for the trials depends on finding trial locations where the rate of infection is fairly high. While you are setting up the trial site and getting regulatory approval, the infection rate in that location could go down. And trials have to involve a surprisingly large number of people. For example, suppose the expected rate of infection is 1 percent per year and you want to run a trial where you would expect 50 people to be infected without the vaccine. To get a result in six months the trial would need 10,000 people in it.
The goal is to pick the one or two best vaccine constructs and vaccinate the entire world'--that's 7 billion doses if it is a single-dose vaccine, and 14 billion if it is a two-dose vaccine. The world will be in a rush to get them, so the scale of the manufacturing will be unprecedented and will probably have to involve multiple companies.
I am often asked when large-scale vaccination will start. Like America's top public health officials, I say that it is likely to be 18 months, even though it could be as short as nine months or closer to two years. A key piece will be the length of the phase 3 trial, which is where the full safety and efficacy are determined.
When the vaccine is first being manufactured, there will be a question of who should be vaccinated first. Ideally, there would be global agreement about who should get the vaccine first, but given how many competing interests there are, this is unlikely to happen. The governments that provide the funding, the countries where the trials are run, and the places where the pandemic is the worst will all make a case that they should get priority.
All of the tests to date for the novel coronavirus involve taking a nasal swab and processing it in a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine. Our foundation invested in research showing that having patients do the swab themselves, at the tip of the nose, is as accurate as having a doctor push the swab further down to the back of your throat. Our grantees are also working to design swabs that are cheap and able to be manufactured at large scale but work as well as ones that are in short supply. This self-swab approach is faster, protects health care workers from the risk of exposure, and should let regulators approve swabbing in virtually any location instead of only at a medical center. The PCR test is quite sensitive'--it will generally show whether you have the virus even before you have symptoms or are infecting other people.
There has been a lot of focus on the number of tests being performed in each country. Some, like South Korea, did a great job of ramping up the testing capacity. But the number of tests alone doesn't show whether they are being used effectively. You also have to make sure you are prioritizing the testing on the right people. For example, health care workers should be able to get an immediate indication of whether they are infected so they know whether to keep working. People without symptoms should not be tested until we have enough tests for everyone with symptoms. Additionally, the results from the test should come back in less than 24 hours so you quickly know whether to continue isolating yourself and quarantining the people who live with you. In the United States, it was taking over seven days in some locations to get test results, which reduces their value dramatically. This kind of delay is unacceptable.
There are two types of PCR machines: high-volume batch processing machines and low-volume machines. Both have a role to play. The high-volume machines provide most of the capacity. The low volume machines are better when getting a result in less than an hour is beneficial. Everyone who makes these machines, and some new entrants, are making as many machines as they can. Adding this capacity and making full use of the machines that are already available will increase the testing capacity. The foundation is talking to the manufacturers about different ways to run the big machines that could make them more than twice as productive.
Another type of test being developed is called a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT). This would be like an in-home pregnancy test. You would swab your nose the same way as for the PCR test, but instead of sending it into a processing center, you would put it in a liquid container and then pour that liquid onto a strip of paper that would change color if it detects the virus. This form of test may be available in a few months. Even though it won't be as sensitive as a PCR test, for someone who has symptoms it should be quite accurate. You would still need to report your test result to your government since they need visibility into the disease trends.
A lot of people talk about the serology test, where you give blood and it detects whether you have antibodies against the virus. If you do, it means you have been exposed. These tests only show positive results late in your disease, so they do not help you decide whether to quarantine. Also, all the tests done so far have problems with false positives. Until we understand what level of antibodies is protective and have a test with almost no false positives, it is a mistake to tell people not to worry about their exposure to infection based on the serology tests that are available today. In the meantime, serology tests will be used to see who can donate blood and to understand the disease dynamics.
A lot of countries did a good job focusing the PCR capacity on the priority patients. Most countries had their government play a central role in this process. In the United States, there is no system for making sure the testing is allocated rationally. Some states have stepped in, but even in the best states, the access isn't fully controlled.
Testing becomes extremely important as a country considers opening up. You want to have so much testing going on that you see hot spots and are able to intervene by changing policy before the numbers get large. You don't want to wait until the hospitals start to fill up and the number of deaths goes up.
Basically, there are two critical cases: anyone who is symptomatic, and anyone who has been in contact with someone who tested positive. Ideally both groups would be sent a test they can do at home without going into a medical center. Tests would still be available in medical centers, but the simplest is to have the majority done at home. To make this work, a government would have to have a website that you go to and enter your circumstances, including your symptoms. You would get a priority ranking, and all of the test providers would be required to make sure they are providing quick results to the highest priority levels. Depending on how accurately symptoms predict infections, how many people test positive, and how many contacts a person typically has, you can figure out how much capacity is needed to handle these critical cases. For now, most countries will use all of their testing capacity for these cases.
There will be a temptation for companies to buy testing machines for their employees or customers. A hotel or cruise ship operator would like to be able to test everyone even if they don't have symptoms. They will want to get PCR machines that give quick results or the rapid diagnostic test. These companies will be able to bid very high prices'--well above what the public health system would bid'--so governments will have to determine when there is enough capacity to allow this.
One assumption is that people who need to get tested will isolate themselves and quarantine those in their household. Some governments police this carefully, whereas others simply assume people will follow the recommendation. Another issue is whether a government provides a place for someone to isolate themselves if they can't do it at their home. This is particularly important if you have older people in close quarters at your house.
I mentioned in the testing section that one of the key priorities for testing is anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. If you can get a list of these people quickly and make sure they are prioritized for a test like the PCR test (which is sensitive enough to detect a recent infection), then these people can isolate themselves before they infect other people. This is the ideal way of stopping the spread of the virus.
Some countries, including China and South Korea, required patients to turn over information about where they have been in the last 14 days by looking at GPS information on their phone or their spending records. It is unlikely that Western countries will require this. There are applications you can download that will help you remember where you have been; if you ever test positive, then you can voluntarily review the history or choose to share it with whoever interviews you about your contacts.
A number of digital approaches are being proposed where phones detect what other phones are near them. (It would involve using Bluetooth plus sending a sound out that humans can't hear but that verifies that the two phones are reasonably close to each other.) The idea is that if someone tests positive then their phone can send a message to the other phones and their owners can get tested. If most people voluntarily installed this kind of application, it would probably help some. One limitation is that you don't necessarily have to be in the same place at the same time to infect someone'--you can leave the virus behind on a surface. This system would miss this kind of transmission.
I think most countries will use the approach that Germany is using, which requires interviewing everyone who tests positive and using a database to make sure there is follow-up with all the contacts. The pattern of infections is studied to see where the risk is highest and policy might need to change.
In Germany, if someone is tested and confirmed positive, the doctor is legally required to inform the local government health office. The doctor must provide all personal data'--name, address, phone number'--so that the health office can contact the person and ensure they isolate themselves.
Then the local health office begins the process of contact tracing. They interview the infected person, find out how to contact all the people he or she has met in the past couple of weeks, and contact those people to ask them to self-isolate and get a test.
This approach relies on the infected person to report their contacts accurately, and also depends on the ability of the health authorities to follow up with everyone. The normal health service staff can't possibly do all this work even if the case numbers are fairly low. Every health system will have to figure out how to staff up so that this work is done in a timely fashion. Everyone who does the work would have to be properly trained and required to keep all the information private. Researchers would be asked to study the database to find patterns of infection, again with privacy safeguards in place.
Most developed countries will be moving into the second phase of the epidemic in the next two months. In one sense, it is easy to describe this next phase. It is semi-normal. People can go out, but not as often, and not to crowded places. Picture restaurants that only seat people at every other table, and airplanes where every middle seat is empty. Schools are open, but you can't fill a stadium with 70,000 people. People are working some and spending some of their earnings, but not as much as they were before the pandemic. In short, times are abnormal but not as abnormal as during the first phase.
The rules about what is allowed should change gradually so that we can see if the contact level is starting to increase the number of infections. Countries will be able to learn from other countries that have strong testing systems in place to inform them when problems come up.
One example of gradual reopening is Microsoft China, which has roughly 6,200 employees. So far about half are now coming in to work. They are continuing to provide support to employees who want to work at home. They insist people with symptoms stay home. They require masks and provide hand sanitizer and do more intensive cleaning. Even at work, they apply distancing rules and only allow travel for exceptional reasons. China has been conservative about opening up and has so far avoided any significant rebound.
The basic principle should be to allow activities that have a large benefit to the economy or human welfare but pose a small risk of infection. But as you dig into the details and look across the economy, the picture quickly gets complicated. It is not as simple as saying ''you can do X, but not Y.'' The modern economy is far too complex and interconnected for that.
For example, restaurants can keep diners six feet apart, but will they have a working supply chain for their ingredients? Will they be profitable with this reduced capacity? The manufacturing industry will need to change factories to keep workers farther apart. Most factories will be able to adapt to new rules without a large productivity loss. But how do the people employed in these restaurants and factories get to work? Are they taking a bus or train? What about the suppliers who provide and ship parts to the factory? And when should companies start insisting their employees show up at work?
There are no easy answers to these questions. Ultimately, leaders at the national, state, and local levels will need to make trade-offs based on the risks and benefits of opening various parts of the economy. In the United States it will be tricky if one state opens up too fast and starts to see lots of infections. Should other states try to stop people moving across state boundaries?
Schools offer a big benefit and should be a priority. Large sporting and entertainment events probably will not make the cut for a long time; the economic benefit of the live audience doesn't measure up to the risk of spreading the infection. Other activities fall into a gray area, such as church services or a high school soccer game with a few dozen people on the sidelines.
There is one other factor that is hard to account for: human nature. Some people will be naturally reluctant to go out even once the government says it is okay. Others will take the opposite view'--they will assume that the government is being overly cautious and start bucking the rules. Leaders will need to think carefully about how to strike the right balance here.
Melinda and I grew up learning that World War II was the defining moment of our parents' generation. In a similar way, the COVID-19 pandemic'--the first modern pandemic'--will define this era. No one who lives through Pandemic I will ever forget it. And it is impossible to overstate the pain that people are feeling now and will continue to feel for years to come.
The heavy cost of the pandemic for lower-paid and poor people is a special concern for Melinda and me. The disease is disproportionately hurting poorer communities and racial minorities. Likewise, the economic impact of the shutdown is hitting low-income, minority workers the hardest. Policymakers will need to make sure that, as the country opens up, the recovery doesn't make inequality even worse than it already is.
At the same time, we are impressed with how the world is coming together to fight this fight. Every day, we talk to scientists at universities and small companies, CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, or heads of government to make sure that the new tools I've discussed become available as soon as possible. And there are so many heroes to admire right now, including the health workers on the front line. When the world eventually declares Pandemic I over, we will have all of them to thank for it.
T he antiviral medicine remdesivir from Gilead Sciences failed to speed the improvement of patients with Covid-19 or prevent them from dying, according to results from a long-awaited clinical trial conducted in China. Gilead, however, said the data suggest a ''potential benefit.''
A summary of the study results was inadvertently posted to the website of the World Health Organization and seen by STAT on Thursday, but then removed.
''A draft manuscript was provided by the authors to WHO and inadvertently posted on the website and taken down as soon as the mistake was noticed. The manuscript is now undergoing peer review and we are waiting for a final version before WHO comments on it,'' said WHO spokesperson Daniela Bagozzi.
Gilead spokesperson Amy Flood said the company believes ''the post included inappropriate characterization of the study.'' Because the study was stopped early because it had too few patients, she said, it cannot ''enable statistically meaningful conclusions.'' However, she said, ''trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease.''
The data (for details, see screenshot below) will be closely scrutinized but are also likely imperfect. The study was terminated prematurely, which could have affected the results. The context that would be provided by a full manuscript is missing, and the data have not been reviewed as normally occurs before publication.
Many studies are being run to test remdesivir, and this one will not be the final word. Results are expected soon from a Gilead-run study in severe Covid-19 patients, although that study may be difficult to interpret because the drug is not compared to patients receiving only standard treatment. Encouraging data from patients in that study at the University of Chicago were described by researchers at a virtual town hall and obtained by STAT last week. However, unlike those data, these new results are from a randomized controlled trial, the medical gold standard.
Gilead is also running a study with a control group in more moderate Covid-19 patients, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is running a study that compares remdesivir to placebo. There are even more studies of the drug ongoing.
According to the summary of the China study, remdesivir was ''not associated with a difference in time to clinical improvement'' compared to a standard of care control. After one month, it appeared 13.9% of the remdesivir patients had died compared to 12.8% of patients in the control arm. The difference was not statistically significant.
''In this study of hospitalized adult patients with severe COVID-19 that was terminated prematurely, remdesivir was not associated with clinical or virological benefits,'' the summary states. The study was terminated prematurely because it was difficult to enroll patients in China, where the number of Covid-19 cases was decreasing.
An outside researcher said that the results mean that any benefit from remdesivir is likely to be small.
''If there is no benefit to remdesivir in a study this size, this suggests that the overall benefit of remdesivir in this population with advanced infection is likely to be small in the larger Gilead trial,'' said Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University.
He added that the results of the study should be pooled with larger studies being conducted by Gilead using a technique called meta-analysis to allow for ''a balanced view of the efficacy of remdesivir from all randomized trials.''
STAT contacted the lead investigator of the study but did not receive an immediate response.
As originally designed, the China study was meant to enroll 453 patients. The patients were allowed to enter the study up to 12 days from the onset of Covid-19 symptoms. Once enrolled, the patients were randomized in a double-blind fashion and were treated with daily infusions of remdesivir or a placebo for 10 days.
The primary goal is to show that the drug is better than placebo at improving symptoms within 28 days. That improvement is measured with a six-point scoring system ranging from hospital discharge (a score of 1) to death (a score of 6). In order to count as someone who responded to the drug, a patient must improve by at least two points. Patients can remain hospitalized at the end of the 28-day period of the clinical trial but still improve enough clinically '-- no longer needing intubation or supplemental oxygen, for example '-- to count as a responder.
According to the abstract, 158 patients received remdesivir and 79 patients were in the control arm; one patient in the control arm withdrew before receiving treatment. The abstract said that for time to clinical improvement, the hazard ratio was 1.23, which would normally mean the patients on remdesivir improved more slowly than those in the control group.
However, in a previous note to investors preparing them for the data, Umer Raffat, a biotech analyst at Evercore ISI, had said to expect the opposite arrangement: that a hazard ratio of 1.2 would show patients were doing better. It is not certain how the hazard ratio is being described in the abstract. Whether or not the drug benefit is trending in a positive or negative direction, the difference described in the abstract is not statistically significant, meaning that the study failed.
There are differences in the enrollment criteria of Covid-19 patients and the way remdesivir is being used that make extrapolating results from this China study to the ongoing studies difficult.
Flood, the Gilead spokesperson, said the company regrets that ''the WHO prematurely posted information regarding the study, which has since been removed'' and emphasized that the researchers running the study ''did not provide permission for publication of results.'' She said the data are expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal soon.
A screenshot from the WHO website. Screen capture
Drugmaker tripled price of antidiarrheal pill as it pursued coronavirus use - Axios
This month, Jaguar Health more than tripled the price of its lone FDA-approved drug, right after asking the federal government to expand the use of its drug to coronavirus patients.
Why it matters: Jaguar Health drastically raised the price of a drug during the height of the pandemic, but executives argued the move was needed to stave off the company's collapse.
By the numbers: Going into this year, the list price of a 60-pill bottle of Mytesi '-- an antidiarrheal medication specifically for people with HIV/AIDS who are on antiretroviral drugs '-- was $668.52.
On April 9, Jaguar Health raised the price to $2,206.52, according to pricing data from Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database.Between the lines: The price hike coincides with the company's push to get its drug to more patients '-- specifically those diagnosed with COVID-19.
On March 21, Jaguar Health asked the FDA to authorize emergency use of Mytesi for COVID-19 patients who were experiencing any diarrhea or "diarrhea associated with certain antiviral treatments" including remdesivir, among others.Jaguar Health argued Mytesi, which is made from the sap of trees in the Amazon rainforest, should be used more widely because researchers suggested diarrhea was a common symptom in coronavirus patients.On April 7, the FDA denied that request. The agency declined to comment about why it denied the company's request.Jaguar Health is still in discussions with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases about evaluating Mytesi's effectiveness against this coronavirus.The big picture: Jaguar Health disclosed earlier this month that "there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern as we do not currently have sufficient cash resources to fund our operations" for another year.
Mytesi generated less than $6 million of revenue last year. Raising the drug's price threefold and shooting for a bigger patient population, especially coronavirus patients, would substantially increase revenue.What they're saying: Jaguar Health CEO Lisa Conte told Axios the company decided in December to raise the price of Mytesi in April because it was losing too much money. She also blamed health insurers for making the drug difficult for people to get.
"The reimbursement barriers are so huge. It's impossible for us to make a business out of it," Conte said. If the FDA granted emergency use for Mytesi during the coronavirus pandemic, the company would have held off on the price increase, Conte said. It delayed the price hike scheduled for April 1 until after it heard from the FDA. When asked if the company would have increased Mytesi's price after any emergency use period lapsed, she replied: "Likely.""[The price increase] is absolutely the right decision for everyone," Conte said.Go deeper: Jaguar Health isn't the only drug company that has raised prices amid the outbreak. The U.S. drugmaker of chloroquine doubled the price of its product last month, the Financial Times reported.
Bleach UV and HCQ
UV-light cleaning shown to cut superbugs hospital-wide | CIDRAP
A new study led by researchers from Duke University has found that adding short-wavelength ultraviolet-C light (UVC) to standard room cleaning strategies modestly decreases hospital-wide incidence of two common healthcare-associated infections.
The randomized controlled trial, conducted at nine hospitals in the southeastern United States, found that enhanced terminal room disinfection with UVC in a subset of rooms previously occupied by patients colonized or infected with multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) led to a decrease in hospital-wide incidence of Clostridium difficile and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). The results, published yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, were from a secondary analysis of a 2017 study that found that adding a UVC device to standard room disinfection in high-risk rooms decreased the risk of subsequent acquisition of C difficile and other MDROs.
The researchers say the findings provide further evidence of the benefit of using enhanced terminal room disinfection methods, as standard methods have proven ineffective at eliminating pathogens that can survive on hospital surfaces for days and put other hospital patients at risk of infection. According to the most recent estimates, healthcare-associated infections sicken more than 700,000 a year in US hospitals; C difficile is the most commonly reported pathogen.
In addition, the investigators add, the findings indicate that enhanced disinfection not only benefits the next patient who enters a high-risk room but also indirectly benefits other hospitalized patients.
"These findings are important, because they suggest that strategies targeting high-risk rooms might have benefit for the larger population of patients admitted to hospital by reducing the burden of pathogenic organisms in the hospital microbiome," the authors write.
Enhanced disinfection methodsIn the study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers conducted a prespecified secondary analysis of the Benefits of Enhanced Terminal Room (BETR) Disinfection study, a cluster-randomized trial that assessed four different strategies for terminal room disinfection in rooms of discharged patients known or suspected to have colonization or infection with C difficile, VRE, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter spp.
The four strategies were standard disinfection with quaternary ammonium (except for C difficile, in which bleach was used); standard disinfection and disinfecting UVC; bleach; and bleach and UVC.
The UVC device used in the study was a machine that emits a lethal dose of UV light into an empty hospital room. The light waves kill bacteria by disrupting the molecular bonds that hold their DNA together.
The sequence of cleaning strategies was randomly assigned to each hospital, where they were each used for a period of 7 months from April 2012 to July 2014. The prespecified secondary outcomes were hospital-wide, hospital-acquired incidence of all target organisms (calculated as the number of patients with hospital-acquired infection per 10,000 patient days), and hospital-wide, hospital-acquired incidence of each target organism separately.
Overall, there was no significant difference between the standard cleaning method (the reference period) and the enhanced methods for hospital-wide risk of target organism acquisition of all target organisms. But of all the enhanced cleaning methods, the decrease in risk was greatest during the UVC study period compared with the reference period (incidence 17.2 per 10,000 patient-days vs. 18.1 per 10,000 patient-days; relative risk [RR] 0.89). Incidence also decreased with the other strategies, but the differences were not significant.
Although the effect was modest, the decrease in hospital-wide acquisition of target organisms during the UVC study period was mainly driven by decreases in C difficile (incidence 9.13 per 10,000 patient-days vs. 10.1 per 10,000 patient-days in the reference period; RR 0.89) and VRE (3.23 per 10,000 patient-days vs. 3.24 per 10,000 patient-days in the reference period). Incidence of MRSA and multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter was not significantly affected by UV light or the other two enhanced cleaning methods.
The researchers suggest there are several direct and indirect explanations for how enhanced disinfection of targeted rooms with UV light could lead to a decrease in hospital-wide acquisition of MDROs. By reducing pathogens in targeted rooms, enhanced disinfection cuts down on the potential for subsequent patients in those rooms, and adjacent rooms, to become infected or colonized. And since patients with one type of MDRO are often colonized with other MDROs, an intervention targeting a specific organism, like C difficile, could decrease the risk of colonization or infection with others.
In addition, rooms of infected or colonized patients can serve as epicenters for transmission within a hospital through contamination of shared medical equipment and healthcare workers' hands and clothes. More effective decontamination of these rooms, therefore, could cut down on that risk.
"We believe enhanced room disinfection interventions that decrease the overall cumulative burden of baseline environmental contamination in a hospital result in a secondary, indirect decrease in the hospital-wide incidence of hospital-acquired multidrug-resistant organisms," they write.
Additional prevention strategies neededBut the authors also acknowledge that while the findings show that disinfection does have a role to play in preventing infections, they also that show additional strategies to prevent transmission of multidrug-resistant pathogens are needed. One strategy, they suggest, is decreasing the use of unnecessary antibiotics.
Matthew Crotty, PharmD, and Marie H. Wilson, RN, of Methodist Dallas Medical Center, writing in an accompanying commentary, agree. They argue that antimicrobial stewardship could help further limit the incidence of epidemiologically important pathogens, most notably C difficile, an infection associated with use of high-risk antibiotics like clindamycin, fluoroquinolones, and cephalosporins. Crotty and Wilson note that efforts targeting reduction of these agents, which disrupt the normal gut flora and allow toxigenic strains of C difficile to proliferate, have been shown to reduce C difficile incidence.
"Enhanced terminal room disinfection using UV is only one piece of the puzzle," they write. "Although UV light might help put a stop to the transmission of epidemiologically important pathogens, continued efforts in coordinating the optimal use of antimicrobials will be crucial for any successes in the ongoing battle to curb antibiotic resistance."
Jun 4 Lancet Infect Dis study
Jun 4 Lancet Infect Dis commentary
January 2017 Lancet Infect Dis BETR Disinfection study
As Trump Promoted Drugs, Prescriptions Surged in Spite of Risks | Togi Blog
It was at a midday briefing last month that President Trump first used the White House telecast to promote two antimalarial drugs in the fight against the coronavirus.
''I think it could be something really incredible,'' Mr. Trump said on March 19, noting that while more study was needed, the two drugs had shown ''very, very encouraging results'' in treating the virus.
By that evening, first-time prescriptions of the drugs '-- chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine '-- poured into retail pharmacies at more than 46 times the rate of the average weekday, according to an analysis of prescription data by The New York Times. And the nearly 32,000 prescriptions came from across the spectrum '-- rheumatologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, psychiatrists and even podiatrists, the data shows.
A Surge in PrescriptionsPreviously, first-time prescriptions for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had been nearly the same for over a year.On March 19, prescriptions topped 31,000 after President Trump discussed his hopes for the drugs at a briefing.
Source: IPM.ai, a subsidiary of Swoop
While medical experts have since stepped up warnings about the drugs' possibly dangerous side effects, they were still being prescribed at more than six times the normal rate during the second week of April, the analysis shows. All the while, Mr. Trump continued to extol their use. ''It's having some very good results, I'll tell you,'' he said in a White House briefing on April 13.
The extraordinary change in prescribing patterns reflects, at least in part, the outsize reach of the Trump megaphone, even when his pronouncements distort scientific evidence or run counter to the recommendations of experts in his own administration. It also offers the clearest evidence yet of the perils of a president willing to push unproven and potentially dangerous remedies to a public desperate for relief from the pandemic.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration warned against using the drugs outside a hospital setting or clinical trial because they could lead to serious heart rhythm problems in some coronavirus patients. Days earlier, the federal agency led by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci '-- one of Mr. Trump's top advisers on the pandemic '-- issued cautionary advice on the drugs, and stated that there was no proven medication to treat the virus.
As the prescriptions surged in the second half of March, the largest volumes per capita included states hit hardest by coronavirus, like New York and New Jersey. Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky were other states with relatively high per-capita figures. In absolute numbers, California and Washington, the earliest-hit states, were among the largest. The biggest number in either category was in Florida, where nearly one prescription was written for every thousand residents.
Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, said the surge created shortages that ''put patients at risk who depend on these medications'' to treat other illnesses.
''The fact that people reacted to what the White House said in such a way '-- in the 35 years I've been in pharmacy and pharmacy regulation, I've never seen that before,'' he said.
More than 40,000 health care professionals were first-time prescribers of the drugs in March, according to the data, which is anonymized and based on insurance claims filed for about 300 million patients in the United States, representing approximately 90 percent of the country's population. The data is current through April 14.
The data was compiled by IPM.ai, a subsidiary of Swoop, a company in Cambridge, Mass., that specializes in health care data and analytics based on artificial intelligence. It does not include drugs prescribed to patients in hospitals, where some doctors have administered the medication, or those released to hospitals from the Strategic National Stockpile.
After Mr. Trump's remarks last month, retail pharmacies across the country reported a run on the drugs, which are mostly prescribed by a small subset of medical specialists. Within days, states began issuing emergency orders to restrict the new prescriptions.
Gwendolyn Young walked into her pharmacy in Los Angeles four days after the president's March 19 briefing, trying to pick up a 90-day prescription of hydroxychloroquine. She has taken the medication for more than 30 years to treat lupus. The drug, while approved for malaria, is also used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Hundreds of thousands of patients across the United States rely on it to keep painful symptoms at bay.
At the pharmacy, Ms. Young said, she was told to start rationing her pills because the drug was being given only to patients who had Covid-19. She was eventually able to get a 14-day supply, but the uncertainty has made her anxious.
''Will I have to keep doing this every 14 days?'' she said. ''What happens to those people who don't push the way I do?''
Although the availability of hydroxychloroquine has improved in recent weeks, the Food and Drug Administration still lists it as being in short supply.
Mike Donnelly, vice president of communications for the Lupus Foundation of America, said that the organization received calls and emails daily from patients who were told their prescription could be filled only in part or not at all. A spokesman for the Arthritis Foundation said some patients received their refills only after calling around to as many as a dozen pharmacies.
In the past month, about 40 states have intervened in some manner to quell the frenzy.
Idaho was the first to take a hard line, issuing a temporary rule on the same day that Mr. Trump first mentioned the drugs in his daily briefing. The rule banned pharmacists from dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine unless the prescription included a written diagnosis of a condition that the drugs had been proved to treat. The rule also limited prescriptions to a 14-day supply unless a patient had previously taken the medication.
The director of Idaho's State Board of Pharmacy said at the time that many of the prescriptions were being written by doctors for themselves and their family members, a trend reported by other state boards as well.
Some of those writing prescriptions for themselves may have been on the front lines treating patients; the data shows an uptick among health care practitioners working in emergency medicine. More broadly, the analysis indicates a major shift in the kinds of medical practitioners writing the prescriptions, based on prescribing patterns in retail pharmacies since 2016.
Historically, the majority of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine prescriptions have come out of a narrow band of specialties like rheumatology. That changed last month, when the specialties reflected in the data included larger numbers of those working in dermatology, ophthalmology, podiatry, urology and other areas.
More Prescriptions From More DoctorsBefore the pandemic, most first-time prescriptions for antimalarial drugs came from within a few specialties, but in March, medical professionals across the spectrum prescribed them in record volumes. Source: IPM.ai, a subsidiary of Swoop · Note: IPM.ai calculates specialty by analyzing prescriptions written and procedures performed by medical practitioners.
In the past six weeks, Dr. Niran Al-Agba, a pediatrician in Silverdale, Wash., has prescribed chloroquine to a handful of adults she considered high risk for Covid-19 '-- among them, her 76-year-old mother, who works in her medical office.
Dr. Al-Agba said she began researching the drugs in early March after the death of a Seattle-area man, who at the time was the first known virus-related fatality in the United States. She concluded from her research that chloroquine might help, and she didn't see any harm in writing a short prescription.
''It's just really hard to look at your mother and not try,'' she said.
Dr. Al-Agba instructed her mother to take the pills only if she spiked a fever, which she has not. She still has the pills.
For Dr. Blake Williamson, an ophthalmologist in Louisiana, it came down to writing a prescription for himself. He worries about his close contact with patients and with his 84-year-old father-in-law, who is undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer and helps care for his three children.
He took a short, prophylactic course of hydroxychloroquine after reading studies from Europe that he thought were promising, and on advice from other physicians.
Dr. Williamson said he thought he did the right thing, especially given his continued exposure to emergency patients in an area hit hard by the pandemic.
''My goal was simply not to be an asymptomatic carrier who could harm patients or at-risk family members and not even know it,'' he wrote in an email.
The interest in taking chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment did not originate with Mr. Trump.
Reports from doctors in China and France that the drugs might help patients fueled interest in scientific and medical communities in the United States. Conservative media, in particular, trumpeted the drugs' potential effectiveness, and the data shows prescriptions had already increased two and a half times over the weekday average during the week before Mr. Trump's March 19 briefing.
Mr. Trump soon extended his interest to a combination of one of those drugs, hydroxychloroquine, with an antibiotic, azithromycin.
''HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,'' he wrote in a post to Twitter around 10 a.m. on March 21, a Saturday.
The tweet coincided with a weekend flood of prescriptions for the two antimalarial drugs. By the end of the day, the prescriptions had increased 114 times at retail pharmacies compared with the average weekend day, according to The Times analysis.
On Tuesday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, led by Dr. Fauci, issued guidelines against the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin except in clinical trials, with experts citing ''the potential for toxicities.
Enthusiasm for the drugs has been waning over the past couple weeks, including at Mr. Trump's own news conferences and among researchers.
A small trial in Brazil of chloroquine was halted after coronavirus patients taking higher doses developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia. A study of 368 patients in U.S. veterans hospitals found that hydroxychloroquine was associated with an increased death rate; the drug, used with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, also did not help patients avoid the need for ventilators. (The veterans study was not a controlled trial, and neither study has been peer-reviewed.)
Mr. Trump was asked about the veterans study at his briefing on Tuesday.
''Obviously, there have been some very good reports and perhaps this one is not a good report,'' he said.
By Thursday, Mr. Trump had moved on to a different subject, raising a question at his White House briefing about the use of disinfectants to kill the coronavirus inside the body. The remarks were followed by dire warnings from state health officials, who were inundated with requests for information about such a course of action. The president's press secretary tried to make the case the comments were taken out of context by the news media, and Mr. Trump later insisted he had only been kidding.
Jennifer Valentino-DeVries contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.
The media is lying about increased emergency calls about drinking bleach in order to blame Trump '' The Right Scoop
And just like clockwork, the media is stepping in to help Democrats and other critics of Trump in their attempt to exaggerate what he said about injecting disinfectants to kill coronavirus.
No, Poison Control Calls Aren't Suddenly Spiking After Trump's Disinfectant Comments https://t.co/gadhbvuPHT via @ENBrown
'-- Robby Soave (@robbysoave) April 25, 2020
The good people at Reason.com dismantle the headlines to show that this is all being exaggerated too:
One article making the rounds, from the New York Daily News, is headlined ''A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump's controversial coronavirus comments.'' But the article makes no mention of anyone deliberately consuming household cleaners. It simply states that 30 people called the city's poison control hotline ''over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners.''
Fearing that you ingested something doesn't jibe with having intentionally consumed that substance.
The authors of the Daily News piece, Anna Sanders and Chris Sommerfeldt, try to circumvent this inconvenient fact by noting that over the same time period in 2019, the Poison Control Center ''only handled 13 similar cases.'' And while this time, nine calls were about possible Lysol exposure and ten about bleach, last year's calls contained ''no cases reported about Lysol exposure and only two were specifically in regards to bleach.''
The writer goes on to explain how the increased calls are more likely due to our current pandemic and everyone being obsessed with disinfecting everything, not something directly attributable to Trump.
This makes a lot of sense. If you present me with evidence that legions of MAGA-fans are injecting chlorox because Trump said it, that's one thing, but this is a completely different thing.
Here's another one:
But the Daily News piece is far from the only poison-control story being framed misleadingly. A story out of Kentucky that's being shared as ''evidence'' people have been consuming household cleaners following Trump's Thursday statements is actually about calls to Kentucky poison control centers in March.
''Poison control centers around the country, including here in Kentucky, are seeing a spike in calls related to COVID-19,'' says the WDRB.com story. Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center, told the outlet that ''just in March, we saw about a 30% increase in hand sanitizer exposures and about a 50% increase in household cleaners.''
How are those the fault of Trump? If anything, it proves that most increases in calls are going to be because of coronavirus and not what the president said.
If you need a reminder of what Trump actually said, here's a funny Tik Tok:
How to medical pic.twitter.com/0EDqJcy38p
'-- Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) April 24, 2020
Or.. you could see our previous post here.
Trump Threatens To End Daily White House Coronavirus Briefings Over ''Hostile Questions'' '' Deadline
President Donald Trump is threatening to stop the daily White House coronavirus briefings '-- not because of public outcry over his comments about injecting disinfectants, or because his statements are being used against him in Joe Biden attack ads '-- but because reporters ask too many ''hostile questions.''
Trump took to Twitter Saturday evening to criticize the briefings, saying they are no longer ''worth the time,'' although he did note they get ''record ratings.''
''What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort,'' Trump tweeted at 6:01 p.m. ET.
The president's comments came a day after he walked back a controversial statement about injecting disinfectants into people to fight COVID-19.
''I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning,'' Trump said, according to the White House transcript from Thursday evening's briefing. ''Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you're going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds '-- it sounds interesting to me.''
After he floated the idea, health officials and disinfectant makers scrambled to warn the public against such uses.
''Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),'' Lysol wrote in a lengthy statement Friday on Twitter.
Trump later said he was joking when he made the comments. ''I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen,'' he told reporters Friday at an Oval Office bill signing.
Still, the New York City Poison Control Center said calls for exposure to household chemicals spiked right after Trump's remarks. An agency spokesperson told the New York Daily News that the center was notified of ''30 cases of possible exposure to disinfectants between 9 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday.'' That's compared to 13 cases over the same time period last year.
NYC Poison Control now has a warning on the front page of its website saying: ''Do not ingest or inject Lysol or any other disinfectant as a treatment for COVID-19. Household disinfectants are poisonous and can cause serious harm or even death if swallowed or injected.''
Dear John and Adam
Hello from the land of the rising sun. Obligatory I love the show, which is true,
and I kick myself often for not finding it until 2016. NJNK.
I am a card-carrying biostatistician. This is similar in ilk to those recently
fitting models to data and then extrapolating way past those data. Kind of like
what climate scientists do. (BTW my meteorologist former college classmate
assured me a while back that the climate science predicting global warming was
Although I am a lowly UCLA Bruin – one whose
inferiority complex was assuaged somewhat by the knowledge that, just like an
exalted California Golden Bear, I thought chaos was pronounced “cha-os” well
into high school – I want to point out that your characterization of Dr. Birx’s
statements about 99% specificity (show 1237) as gobbledygook was a little off
One can quibble about the assumptions, but let’s
assume that an antibody test was designed to detect COVID-19 virus antibody and
only that. And let’s say that the test
has 99% sensitivity and 99% specificity.
This means that among individuals who have antibody, only 1% will be
missed (false negative), and among individuals who do not have antibody, 1%
will show positive (false positive).
This would not be a terrible screening test.
Now let’s say that only 1% of the people in the
population truly have COVID-19 antibody.
If you randomly select 100,000 people and test them, you will find that
of the 1000 truly positive people, 990 will test positive, and of the 99,000
truly negative people, 990 will look positive.
So that only 50% of those testing positive will be true positive, and
the estimated population rate of positivity will be 1,980 / 100,000 ~ 2%, double
the true rate. This is not to say
this was not obfuscation on her part, since with higher true prevalence rates,
which we are interested in, the error becomes ignorable (see attached
calculator if you are interested*).
Also, we don’t know the operating characteristics of the test used by
USC/LADH, which may be better or worse than this.
A final note, I have thought about hitting my wife in
the mouth, but the last time I discussed these COVID-19 issues with her, she
said “[you are crazy, and getting more conservative all the time]”. We live in Los Angeles (although I am
currently not there).
Keep up the great work.
Hiroshima City, Japan
'A disaster': Roche CEO's verdict on some COVID-19 antibody tests - Reuters
ZURICH (Reuters) - Some blood tests being marketed to tell people if they have had the new coronavirus are a ''disaster'', Roche (ROG.S ) Chief Executive Severin Schwan said on Wednesday as he prepares to launch the drugmaker's own antibody test next month.
Roche's (ROG.S ) diagnostics business has moved out of the shadow of its main medicines unit during the pandemic, as the Swiss pharma giant confirmed its 2020 sales and profit outlook amid rising demand for COVID-19 testing.
Countries around the world hope such blood tests - meant to show whether people exposed to the disease have developed antibodies thought to offer some immunity - will guide efforts to restart their economies and keep healthcare workers safe.
An erroneous false-positive result could lead to the mistaken conclusion that someone has immunity. In developing its test, Schwan said, Roche scrutinised some existing products for reliability before rejecting them.
''It's a disaster. These tests are not worth anything, or have very little use,'' Schwan told reporters on a conference call. ''Some of these companies, I tell you, this is ethically very questionable to get out with this stuff.''
Schwan said there were about 100 such tests on offer, including finger-prick assays that offer a quick result. The Basel-based company declined to specify which rival tests it had studied, but said it was not referring to tests from established testing companies.
Roche also makes separate tests to determine if a person has an active coronavirus infection, with a sample taken via a swab from nasal passages.
Sales of those tests helped push first-quarter sales in its Molecular Diagnostics business up 29% in the first three months of the year, it said.
AMATEURS IN GARAGES By contrast, Roche's planned antibody test relies on intravenous blood draws taken by a nurse or a doctor.
Schwan did not release figures for its test's ''specificity'', or how many false-positives can be expected, but promised it would be reliable because Roche had successfully found the antibody produced by the body after exposure to the novel virus.
''This is really what matters,'' he said. ''Every kind of amateur could produce an antibody test. The two of us could do it overnight in the garage. That's not the problem.''
''The question is, does it really work? And for that, you have to do testing and validation,'' he added.
Slideshow (2 Images) Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N ) also said last week it launched a new coronavirus blood test similar to Roche's. And, like Roche, Abbott is seeking emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Roche confirmed its existing 2020 forecast for sales to grow in the low-to-mid single-digit percentage range, with core earnings growth per share matching that, after first-quarter sales rose 7% to 15.1 billion Swiss francs ($15.57 billion).
While most of Roche's coronavirus activity has been focused on testing, it is also studying if its older arthritis drug Actemra will help critically ill patients hit by severe immune system reactions, also called cytokine storms. The medicine has already been deployed for such cases on a limited basis, including in China.(This story corrects launch for Abbott Laboratories' test in 14th paragraph to last week, not June, clarifies that Abbott is seeking U.S. emergency use authorization)
Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields and Pravin Char
Lab get shitty anti bodies for tests
Disclaimer: if you talk about this during the show, please
don’t identify me.
I just wanted to forward a boots on the ground report. I've
been doing covid research for the past couple months, and I've been developing
ELISA assays for testing serum for the presence of the spike protein found on
the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We used a vendor called Sino Biological for our
antibodies for developing these tests. We discovered that the antibodies
are poorly manufactured, and have given us false positives as we develop our
kits. I thought maybe I was just fucking up, but we verified that the
antibodies we faulty when we purchased the SAME antibodies from a different
vendor (Genscript, amazing company) and those ended up working. Sino’s
headquarters are in Beijing, and was funded by Bill Gates. When we called them
they lied about their production process, and even delayed sending us a product
until we called them because they thought we were closed. Yet they sent us
their other shitty products. I was so unbelievably pissed off. Their shitty
rushed products aren't cheap, so we wasted thousands of dollars and a ton of
time trying to use their antibodies when they were garbage. Why would this company
be selling faulty antibodies to researchers, especially with the extra funding
they received from Bill Gates? I can’t imagine how many other labs have
run into this same problem. Btw, the other company we got our antibodies from
are out of San Diego (down the street from where I work actually) and weren’t
funded by the Gates foundation.
Antibody study finds 21% of New York City residents has had COVID-19
New York City may have had nearly 2 million cases of COVID-19, according to an antibody study that revealed that 21% of tested NYC residents has had the virus, according to the New York Times.
The information comes from testing done on 1,300 supermarket shoppers in New York City this week, and the results were announced Thursday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"What does it mean? I don't know," Cuomo said during his daily press briefing. "These are people who were out and about shopping. They were not people who were in their homes, they were not people who were isolated, they were not people who were quarantined."
The numbers: The study had a sample size of 1,300 people in New York City. Of those, 21% tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. If that percentage held true through the entire population, that would amount to approximately 1.7 million cases '-- far more than the current count.
The statewide study tested 3,000 people total in the state, and the percentage of people in that sample that tested positive was 14%, which would amount to 2.6 million cases if applied to the entire population. The current number of total cases in New York is about 250,000.
If those numbers are accurate, the infection mortality rate in New York would be about 0.5% Cuomo said.
Are the numbers reliable? Some experts have reservations about the accuracy of antibody tests right now, including Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, one of NYC's top disease control officials. From NYT:
Hours before Mr. Cuomo's presentation, a top New York City health official cautioned against making too much of the usefulness of the test results in making critical decisions about social distancing and reopening the economy, particularly in identifying immunity.The city's top disease control officials, Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, wrote in an email alert on Wednesday that the tests "may produce false negative or false positive results," pointing to "significant voids" in using the science to pinpoint immunity.
Pa. removes more than 200 deaths from official coronavirus count as questions mount about reporting process, data accuracy
HARRISBURG '-- Twice in the last week, Pennsylvania's official COVID-19 death count spiked.
Then, on Thursday, the number plummeted.
Officials from the state Department of Health provided several justifications for the fluctuations, citing technical issues, lengthy investigations, and the addition of ''probable'' deaths '-- those considered to be caused by the coronavirus but without confirmation from a test.
But facing mounting questions about the accuracy of the count, officials on Thursday removed more than 200 probable deaths from the tally, further complicating the state's accounting of the pandemic. Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the change was made in an effort to be transparent.
''We realize that this category can be confusing, since it does change over time,'' Levine said.
''At times, there are things we need to review, and potentially revisit the way the data is being analyzed,'' she said. ''And this is one of those times.''
The coronavirus surge in Pennsylvania has posed major technical challenges for the Health Department, the clearinghouse for the data critical to make decisions about what policies to implement to keep people safe. In addition to inconsistencies around death counts, the department has struggled to attain complete and accurate demographic data for positive patients, as well as those who have been tested.
At the same time, the state's coroners '-- tasked with investigating suspicious deaths '-- have grown increasingly frustrated by the Health Department's reluctance to seek their help.
Some have said the department's numbers did not match what coroners were seeing. Those concerns caught the attention of State Sen. Judy Ward (R., Blair), who is advocating for a bill that would give coroners a bigger role in the crisis.
''There's a discrepancy in the numbers,'' Charles E. Kiessling Jr., president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association and coroner in Lycoming County, said Thursday. ''I'm not saying there's something going on.... I'm not a conspiracy theory guy. But accuracy is important.''
It's a matter of public safety, Kiessling said.
The confusion began Sunday, when Pennsylvania raised its coronavirus death toll to 1,112 '-- an increase of 276 overnight. On Tuesday, the department reported another spike, from 1,204 to 1,564 deaths.
In both cases, Levine said the surges reflected deaths that occurred days, even weeks, in the past.
''These deaths did not happen overnight,'' Levine said Sunday.
The jump that day, first blamed on a computer glitch, was explained as a ''reconciliation'' of multiple reporting systems and the ''culmination of that data-validating effort.'' Levine also said the ''significant increase'' included ''probable positive'' COVID-19 deaths, as well as deaths confirmed with a test.
On Tuesday, Levine reported 300 probable deaths in the day's count but appeared to indicate the situation was new.
''We will now be reporting probable deaths related to COVID-19 in addition to confirmed deaths,'' she said.
That same day, department spokesperson Nate Wardle told Spotlight PA some probable deaths had been included in the count for at least a week or maybe longer.
Then, on Wednesday, Wardle backtracked, saying that although probable deaths had been added to the reporting systems as of April 13, the day before federal guidance changed, they weren't included in the state's official count until Tuesday.
Wardle added that despite Levine's public comments, none of the deaths reported Sunday were considered probable, meaning the first surge was due almost entirely to lags in reporting.
The issues with the data go hand in hand with a month-long dispute with the coroners association over how to handle suspected COVID-19 cases.
For weeks, coroners have said their relationships with first responders, funeral directors, and county officials allow them to properly handle investigations where the presence of COVID-19 is unconfirmed '-- whether the death occurs at home or a care facility.
Despite coroners' claims that they are well equipped to manage probable cases and legally obligated to be notified of suspected COVID-19 deaths, the Health Department hasn't budged, insisting the majority of deaths caused by the virus do not need to be reported to a coroner.
''This is why I'm so upset,'' Kiessling said. ''Our job is to investigate.'... We do this every day.''
If the dispute had been resolved a month ago, with coroners included in the department's COVID-19 investigations, Kiessling said, the public trust in the state's numbers would be stronger.
''I know who died. They know who died,'' he said. ''We have accurate numbers. We don't scare everyone to death.''
Jeffrey Conner, the coroner in Franklin County, said he was blindsided by the department's news on Tuesday that 10 people had died of COVID-19 in the county. As of Wednesday afternoon, he said, he was aware of only one death.
''Coroners are frustrated,'' Conner said. ''There is a lack of leadership from the Department of Health and a lack of definitive answers.''
On Thursday, the state's revised data reported just one death for the county.
At Wednesday's news conference, Spotlight PA asked if there were other situations under investigation by the department that might lead to additional surges in the count.
''No,'' Levine responded. ''Those were the two epidemiological reconciliations that we had to do. First, to bring together our different data sources, and then to have the determination and be at the place where we could add the probable deaths.''
''Those are the only changes that we'll be making,'' she said.
Because death data are coming from multiple sources, Levine said, the department's numbers may not match those of the coroners. She said the department would work with them to ensure everyone is ''on the same page.'' That statement echoed one she made April 13, when asked about concerns from Westmoreland County's coroner about a potential miscount of COVID-19 deaths.
"We'll try to collaborate with the coroners and the hospitals to work out those details,'' she said.
As of early Thursday, Kiessling, the association president, said that the department had not yet reached out to his office about the matter. Levine said that afternoon she would hold a call with coroners next week, giving the department time to understand ''the different nuances'' of the issue.
Correction: Due to an editing error, the county that state Sen. Judy Ward represents was originally misstated.
Angela Couloumbis of Spotlight PA contributed to this article.
One third of people in Massachusetts study tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies | Daily Mail Online
Nearly one third of 200 Massachusetts residents were infected with antibodies linked to the novel coronavirus, according to a pilot study.
Physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital said they found evidence of widespread COVID-19 exposure in the city of Chelsea.
Chelsea, located just north of Boston, had the state's rate of coronavirus infections at 1,900 cases per 100,000 residents.
Researchers collected drops of blood from residents in Bellingham Square on Tuesday and Wednesday after advertising the study.
Of the 200 voluntary participants, 64 had antibodies created by their immune systems to fight the coronavirus.
Physicians in Chelsea, Massachusetts, learned that nearly one third of people who participated in a coronavirus study had COVID-19 antibodies. Pictured: Medics check on a patient who declined to go to the hospital amid the coronavirus disease in Chelsea
Although researchers noted that the participants appeared healthy, around half told doctors they experienced at least one COVID-19 symptom in the past four weeks.
Additionally, researchers determined that 32 percent of participants have already had COVID-19 and several had no idea.
Residents who previously tested positive for COVID-19 were excluded from the study and identities remained anonymous.
Unfortunately, this means none of the 200 participants received individual test results.
Physicians used a diagnostic device to analyze blood droplets and said results were available in around 10 minutes.
The pilot study was conducted by physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital (pictured) this week
A city official previously referred to Chelsea as the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in Massachusetts. Pictured: A caregiver walks past as an undertaker removes the body of a deceased person from the Eastpointe Rehab and Skilled Care Center in Chelsea
The device is not FDA approved, but researchers said that Massachusetts General Hospital deemed it reliable.
Dr. John Iafrate, the study's chief investigator and vice chairman of MGH's pathology department, explained that the findings were partially good news.
'I think it's both good news and bad news,' he said.
Dr. John Iafrate (pictured): 'There's a raging epidemic in Chelsea, and many people walking on the street don't know that they're carrying the virus'
'The bad news is that there's a raging epidemic in Chelsea, and many people walking on the street don't know that they're carrying the virus and that they may be exposing uninfected individuals in their families.
'On the good-news side, it suggests that Chelsea has made its way through a good part of the epidemic. They're probably further along than other towns,'
As of Friday, Maryland recorded 32,181 COVID-19 cases and 1,245 deaths.
Thomas Ambrosino, Chelsea's city manager, said he wasn't surprised by the findings. He previously referred to the city as the coronavirus epicenter of Massachusetts.
'We've long thought that the reported numbers are vastly under-counting what the actual infection is,' Ambrosino said.
'Those reported numbers are based on positive COVID-19 tests, and we're all aware that a very, very small percentage of people in Chelsea and everywhere are getting COVID-19 tests.'
He admitted that it was 'sobering that 30 percent of a random group of 200 people that are showing no symptoms are, in fact, infected.'
Scientists think that people who've recovered from COVID-19 could be temporarily immune from catching it again.
Pictured: The BioMedomics Rapid IgM-IgG Combined Antibody Test for COVID-19 at rapid blood fingerstick study site in Chelsea
Laboratories and biotech companies have asked recovered citizens to donate blood with the hopes that their antibodies could launch a vaccine or treatment.
Still, physicians who tested residents said those who had antibodies could still be contagious.
'Just because you have the antibodies doesn't mean you've cleared the virus,' Dr. Vivek Naranbhai told the Boston Globe.
The pilot study's test results have not been shared with Massachusetts officials yet as of Friday, but researchers admitted results couldn't apply to Chelsea's 40,000 residents.
Rather, it allowed researchers a glance into a hyper-localized case of coronavirus cases.
Physicians hope to place a medical tent outside the Mass. General Chelsea Healthcare Center to conduct more antibodies test.
Maryland, one of the countries leading COVID-19 epicenters, recorded 32,181 cases and 1,245 deaths
They also want to expand the testing into other local cities.
Those participants will reportedly receive test results, but physicians still have to determine the guidelines for what the next course of action should be if people test positive for antibodies.
'Knowing how many people are infected is critical,' said Dr. Dean Xerra, a study investigator and medical director of the Mass. General Chelsea Healthcare Center.
'We need to get them isolated. We need to get masks delivered to the city. We need to launch more safe isolation sites. We need to be able to identify cases and then give people the things they need to prevent perpetuation of the spread.'
Ambrosino said that many residents in Chelsea, which covers about two square miles, work in the hospital industry or health care careers.
Many of them must work throughout the pandemic and several residents live in three-decker houses, which can make it hard to properly self isolate.
Massachusetts officials extended stay-at-home orders through May 4.
Wisconsin BOTG Report
Attached is an 'open up' chant I recorded while at the rally.
Here are my observations:
A lot of American flags, and quite a few 'don't tread on me' flags. No mention
of bad data or bad science. A lot of anger around small businesses remaining
closed while the large retailers either stayed open or will get to reopen soon.
Churches being closed was a hot topic. Health care professionals talked about
the empty hospitals and their concern that real health issues are not being
addressed. The whole thing devolved into governor bashing towards the end.
Two most interesting speakers to me:
A woman talked about how she had three negative tests, and was still
categorized as a Covid-19 patient. She has asthma and allergies which when
combined have similar respiratory symptoms of Covid-19. She also mentioned they
wanted to put her on a ventilator, which she refused.
A farmer talked about how although they are considered essential, most of their
customers are closed. The castle costs more to feed now than they produce in
profit. They are forced to sell dairy cows at a fraction of their cost to
slaughter houses, which are being overwhelmed by farmers doing this.
As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods.
Watch the overview
ContextThe dramatic spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses worldwide. All stakeholders, especially global business, must urgently come together to minimize its impact on public health and limit its potential for further disruption to lives and economies around the world.
But the sum of many individual actions will not add up to a sufficient response. Only coordinated action by business, combined with global, multistakeholder cooperation '' at exceptional scale and speed '' can potentially mitigate the risk and impact of this unprecedented crisis.
Our contributionThe spread of COVID-19 demands global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community. This multistakeholder cooperation is at the centre of the World Economic Forum's mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
In this context, the new COVID Action Platform will focus on three priorities:
Galvanize the global business community for collective action
Protect people's livelihoods and facilitate business continuity
Mobilize cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response
Get the latest insights on the coronavirus and its effect on global health, the economy, and more.You can embed our special COVID-19 transformation map on your intranet or website, enabling your employees or stakeholders one-click access to the latest strategic trends, research, analysis and data. In order to accelerate learning and knowledge across the world, we have also removed the need to register in order to view this map for users that land there from the widget.
President Trump announces Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels will perform air shows honoring health care workers
Health care workers have been on the front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic that has infected 850,000 Americans. So how do you show appreciation for medical workers who put themselves in jeopardy to battle the deadly COVID-19 virus? Parades aren't an option with the social distancing and elimination of group events. The Trump administration will pay tribute to brave health care workers with air shows all across the country by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds.
President Donald Trump announced that Blue Angels and Thunderbirds will be doing flyovers above major U.S. cities in honor of "American medical workers" in what is being called "Operation America Strong."
"I'm excited to announce that in the coming weeks, the Air Force Thunderbirds '-- are incredible '-- and the Navy Blue Angels '-- equally incredible '-- will be performing air shows over America's major cities," President Trump said.
"What we're doing is we're paying tribute to our frontline health care workers confronting COVID."
"And it's really a signal to all Americans to remain vigilant during the outbreak," Trump added. "This is a tribute to them, to our warriors. Because they are equal warriors to those incredible pilots and all of the fighters that we have for the more traditional fights that we win and we win."
"Operation America Strong was the idea of our great military men and women," Trump said. "The Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels crews who wanted to show support to the American medical workers who, just like military members in the time of war, are fiercely running toward the fight. It's gonna be great. I want to see those shows."
President Trump did not specify which cities the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels would fly over, but added that the jet fighter squadrons would also soar over some areas that "aren't major cities."
The Air Force's Thunderbirds already performed a tribute to health care workers last week. The Thunderbirds first did a flyover of the Air Force Academy's graduation in to Colorado Springs on Saturday.
But the Thunderbirds weren't done. The fighter jets refueled in mid-flight so they could fly around medical facilities and metropolitan areas in Colorado to show their support to health care workers and lift the spirits of Americans who have been locked down for weeks.
"We salute Colorado's healthcare workers and first responders who are at the forefront of our nation's fight against COVID-19. They are an inspiration for the entire country during these challenging times and it was an honor to fly for them yesterday," the Thunderbirds' official Twitter account wrote.
On April 11, the Thunderbirds performed aerial demonstrations over 18 hospitals and medical facilities in their "home city of Las Vegas to honor the frontline medical personnel combatting COVID-19."
On Wednesday, President Trump also said he planned to bring back his "Salute to America" celebration that was held last Independence Day on the National Mall.
"And on July 4th, we'll be doing what we had at the mall, as you know, we're going to be doing it," Trump said. "Last year was a tremendous success. And I would imagine we'll do it '-- hopefully I can use the term 'forever.' It was a great success, as you remember, even though it was pouring."
Last year's celebration featured U.S. military vehicles, fireworks, and a flyover by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.
State Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor stands in the Senate chamber on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
State Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, walks through the House floor on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist wears an Everybody vs. COVID-19 t-shirt on the Senate floor on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Lawmakers stand in the Senate chamber on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Sen. Dayna Polehanki stands int the Senate chamber on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, stands on the Senate floor on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, stands in the chamber on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, stands at the House podium on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
The State Senate meets on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
A sign on the House floor on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
State Sen. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, stands in the Senate chamber on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Media members have their temperatures taken as they enter on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
The State Senate meets on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Media members have their temperatures checked as they enter on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Lawmakers check in one by one in the State House on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, stands on the Senate floor for the pledge of allegiance on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist presides over the Senate on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
A lone man walks in the Capitol hallways on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, stands at the House podium on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
State Rep. Cynthia Neeley, D-Flint, checks in on the House floor on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
Protestors gather outside on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at the Capitol in Lansing. Both the house and senate met under social distancing guidelines.
The Republican-led Michigan legislature on Friday approved measures to limit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive authority to declare a state of emergency and to create a panel to investigate the state's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After roughly an hour of passionate debate, the Michigan Senate voted 22-15 along partisan lines to pass Senate Bills 857 and 858, which, respectively, would repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 and limit the number of days the governor can unilaterally declare a state of emergency under a separate law from 28 days to 14.
Whitmer's office ahead of Friday's session said she'd veto the bills if they reached her desk, and reiterated that stance during a morning news briefing: ''The powers of the executive office are incredibly important, especially in times of crisis where lives are on the line.''
She said she found it ''odd'' the legislature was continuing to congregate and go against the spirit of the stay-at-home order, which she extended through May 15, albeit with several revisions on allowed activity.
''I think that they should be focused on making sure that people who've lost their jobs have access to health care if they're doing anything together,'' she said. ''I think that they should be focusing on paid sick leave, if they are determined to congregate in Lansing."
Both the House and Senate also approved a resolution to create a joint legislative oversight committee with both Republican and Democrat lawmakers serving to investigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attempted amendments from Sens. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, to put an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the board and expand the committee's scope to include federal handling of the pandemic were not adopted.
On the Senate bills limiting emergency authority, bill sponsor Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, said the legislation was necessary to ensure the balance of government. Some systems of government provide total authority to one person, he said: ''Thankfully, the state of Michigan is not one of them.''
But several Senate Democrats - many of whom represent Southeast Michigan, where COVID-19 has hit the hardest - called the bills political, and questioned the need to come into session for them and potentially risk additional exposure and spread.
Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, shared his personal experience with coronavirus on the Senate floor, telling his colleagues that his father got sick and tested negative for COVID-19, but it could have been a false negative. His father is now healthy, he said.
Moss said lawmakers from around the state shouldn't assume the governor is trying to punish constituents by implementing measures like the stay-at-home order, nor should they assume the coronavirus is a problem only Southeast Michigan is facing.
''The governor is doing everything she can to mitigate its spread,'' he said. ''These bills callously second guess her motivations.''
Precautions including limiting staff on the floor, restricting press to the House and Senate galleries and checking lawmakers and visitors to the Capitol for COVID-19 symptoms upon entry continued Friday.
Earlier Friday, Whitmer extended the state's stay-at-home order through May 15, although certain restrictions previously included like bans on motorized boating, golf and certain retail operations were lifted.
Landscapers, lawn-service companies, nurseries and bike repair shops will be allowed to return to work subject to strict social distancing, and big-box stores will be allowed to reopen closed sections of the store. Other retailers will now be allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up or delivery.
And residents will be allowed to travel between their residences again, although such travel is ''strongly discouraged," according to a press release from the governor's office.
Public-facing businesses like gyms salons, bars and in-person dining at restaurants remain off-limits under the order.
COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.
Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.
Carry hand sanitizer with you, and use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and when you go into places like stores.
Read more Michigan coronavirus coverage here
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to extend stay-at-home order through May 15, but relax certain restrictions
Michigan must be 'nimble enough to go backward,' says Whitmer after relaxing stay-at-home restrictions
Michigan garden centers, landscaping can resume with safety restrictions
Tee it up! Governor rules Michigan golf courses can open for play
Drive-by protest planned to urge ICE to release detainees during coronavirus outbreak
Michigan Senate to take up limits on governor's emergency powers Friday; Whitmer vows veto
Despite crashes, 820,000 of 1.1M Michiganders filing for unemployment have gotten paid
Judge rejects bid by landscapers, garden shops to reopen immediately
Michigan restaurants projected to lose $1.2B in April, survey indicates
Dozens of bodies found in hospital's temporary morgue prompts Wayne County investigation
As Michigan expands coronavirus testing, issues with test accuracy remain
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer eases stay-at-home order after protests
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced she would begin reopening parts of the state's economy on Friday '-- the decision coming amid armed protests outside her home and the threat of a mutiny by state lawmakers.
Whitmer signed a new executive order extending the Wolverine State's stay-home order by another two weeks until May 15, but eased some other restrictions, which have been met with rancorous protests.
''The new executive order will allow some workers who perform lower-risk activities to go back on the job,'' Whitmer said at a Friday morning press conference, including occupations such as landscaping.
''We will consider this the preliminary stage of economic re-engagement. We will measure, we will collect data, we will continue to ramp up testing and tracing and we will make informed decisions in coming days about potential further re-engagement,'' she continued.
Activities such as golfing and boating are back on the table, while people will be able to travel between their homes, a previously outlawed activity that incensed Michiganders.
Restaurants and bars will remain closed while all travel continues to be banned.
Protesters gather outside the Governor's Mansion. ReutersMichigan has been the third-hardest-hit state by the coronavirus virus, recording more than 35,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths.
But the state's restrictive stay-home order sparked angry protests by residents who said it was not only a violation of their constitutional liberties but a wrecking ball to small businesses.
Whitmer, a Democrat, has faced fierce backlash from President Trump and the state's Republican lawmakers '-- with Trump calling for Michigan to be ''liberated'' as some states look to reopen sooner.
As stay-at-home order extended, Chicagoans enter next phase of life under COVID-19 - Chicago Tribune
And don't forget your booties. Because it's cold out there today.
It's just another Groundhog Day in Illinois, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker has extended the stay-at-home order another 30 days to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As its earliest conclusion, the state will have been grounded for 10 weeks, a once unimaginable time frame in which people will continue to lose loved ones, lose jobs and, in some cases, lose patience.
Golf courses and state parks will open again. Nonessential stores can offer curbside pickup. Some elective medical procedures will resume.
Pritzker loosened the previous restrictions on one condition: Everyone must cover their faces in public, unless they are younger than 2 or medically unable to do so.
Despite Pritzker's repeated encouragement to be ''all in'' on the order, Illinois enters this next phase of life under the virus as a truly bifurcated state, a population split into those who are fighting bankruptcy and those fighting boredom. With each passing day, the two sides drift further apart as they deal with their own very real struggles.
''We have become a divided nation,'' said Tammy McCarthy, an Aurora restaurant owner. ''It feels like neither side can understand the other's point of view anymore because we're not experiencing this moment the same way."
McCarthy, who owns the popular Double Yolk restaurant off Butterfield Road and Farnsworth Avenue, decided to keep her business open for carryout orders after the governor issued a statewide ban on inside dining March 16.
Without the post-church crowd on Sundays, it has been a financially devastating time. She says she has lost money every week since, including $20,000 in perishable food that she bought prior to Pritzker's directive and ended up donating.
Faced with the extended order, she cut back her employees' hours Friday. She has promised the rest of the staff that she'll try to keep the breakfast joint open until May 15. After that, McCarthy intends to close and doubts she'll be able to reopen after the ban lifts.
''I'm going to lose my business," McCarthy said as her voice choked with tears and other complicated emotions. ''I don't want to seem bitter or like I don't care about other people '-- because I care a lot '-- but this is costing me everything.''
Dena Dodd Perry gardens in the backyard of her Lake Forest home as her dog Haven hangs out, April 24, 2020. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)
For Dena Dodd Perry, a wellness blogger, author and yoga instructor in Lake Forest, the stay-at-home order extension was no surprise. With a background in industrial engineering, she says she followed the projections and knew additional time would be needed to slow the spread.
Establishing routines has been key to making the extraordinary situation work for her family: an accounting firm partner husband now working at home, two sons back from college and a daughter in high school.
To augment regular family meals, ''we order out for a local dinner every Friday and sometimes Sunday,'' said Perry, 51, who blogs at denadodd.com and whose book, ''Detoxelicious,'' covers food, fitness and mindfulness. The kids get chore assignments every Saturday morning, and she has Zoom meetings on Friday evenings with her three siblings and 87-year-old father in Detroit.
Wednesdays at noon, she teaches online yoga classes through vivayalive.com '-- a practice she had quit awhile back, but realized was a perfect thing to start up again when the state began closing things down, she said.
''It's just getting used to the new normal,'' Perry said.
Pritzker acknowledged the toll his orders have taken on Illinois residents, saying it was a difficult, but necessary, decision given the projections he has seen. The state confirmed 2,724 new cases Friday and 108 more deaths, bringing the total to 39,658 positive tests and 1,795 people dead.
The numbers only bolster Woodridge resident TeRhonda McGee's belief that Pritzker made the right decision when he extended the order.
''I'm grateful the governor actually cares about people and their well-being,'' said McGee, who works for the American Medical Association in Chicago and has been doing her job from home since March 17. ''I really feel everything should have been shut down for a solid two weeks, with the exception of hospitals.''
During the extra month at home, McGee said she will continue to take online courses in project management and Microsoft, as well as catch up on work. She also has taken advantage of twice-a-week meditation exercises her employer offers.
''It really helps with the stress of what is happening around us," she said.
Tiffany Man, the youth outreach director at the Pui Tak Center in Chinatown, witnesses the stress every day. She has heard from many neighborhood families who are suffering because restaurants, one of the community's main industries, are suffering.
''I do have families telling me that they are worried about next month's rent,'' Man said. ''Even if the shelter-in-place is lifted soon, they don't foresee that (both parents) would be able to get jobs right away.''
Mary Pappalardo, who lives in South Chicago Heights, was furloughed from her job at an eye doctor's office in mid-March. She was able to file for unemployment before others started reporting delays and has had no problems in the weeks she's been out of work.
''I'm not naive to the fact there are people struggling, but I think that for all of us to survive, it's worth it,'' she said. ''I'm much more comfortable staying home and sucking it up and not doing anything for a month '... to possibly live.''
She passes the time with Netflix, home workouts, jogging and long walks with her 10-year-old beagle, Gus.
''(Gus) enjoys that,'' she said. ''It's a month, hopefully. For the time being, it's 30 more days to keep people safe. I'm more than happy to do my part and stay home.''
Malcolm Elliott stands at the Hermitage Park Fieldhouse on April 24, 2020, in Chicago. Elliott was planning to work for the Chicago Park District park, but that is now uncertain because of the extension of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)
Before the pandemic, Malcolm Elliott's sanctuary was his local park clubhouse, where he volunteered as a tutor about three times a week. Since March, the 20-year-old hasn't been able to catch up with the children who came to Hermitage Park in Englewood with questions about homework, and left him with laughter and a sense of fulfillment.
Elliott understands the need to socially distance, especially given the way the virus is devastating neighborhoods on the South and West sides, but that knowledge doesn't fill the hole in his life since volunteering was suspended.
Breaking News Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our breaking email alerts
''Stay-at-home for another month is really messing with me because I can't continue to do what I continue to do on a regular basis,'' Elliott said. ''I look forward to seeing the faces that I'm used to seeing because I miss everybody that I volunteer with.''
Antioch resident Remi Ivanovas also is growing restless. A Lithuanian immigrant, he started his own business, Remi Painters, in 1999 and has had steady work until the pandemic hit. Now, customers no longer want people in their homes. He has struggled to find jobs the past two months.
On the bright side, he's been working on kitchen and bathroom projects his wife has been ''asking me to do for several years.'' The projects not only earn him domestic points, they also allow him to give some of his crew work.
''But from another side,'' Ivanovas said, ''I have four kids. To pay the bills when you have no income, this is a problem."
He thought he'd be back at work in mid-April, like the governor's initial order suggested. With at least five more weeks of a stay-at-home winter ahead, he hopes the weather warms up so he can find some exterior work.
''It's really tough,'' he said. ''It's scary.''
How Illinois became America's failed state - POLITICO
Illinois has compiled $14.6 billion in unpaid bills. It's running a deficit of $6 billion, and its pension liability has soared to $130 billion.
That's not the worst of it. The state's nearly two-year failure to pass a budget has sent its bond ratings careening toward junk level, downgraded a staggering eight notches below most other states.
With university enrollments plummeting, large-scale social service agencies shuttering and the Chicago Public Schools forced to borrow just to stay open through the end of this school year, Illinois is beginning to devolve into something like a banana republic '-- and it's about to have the most expensive election the state has ever seen.
Democrats have flooded the primary to challenge GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, with billionaire J.B. Pritzker among them. Pritzker has already poured $14 million into his campaign for a general election that's still 15 months away.
''Illinois is operating in a way 49 other states would never try to operate,'' said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group. ''There is permanent damage that is being done that will take decades to repair.''
The devastation of the state's finances has taken its toll on Rauner politically, despite his investing heavily on TV, digital and robocall messaging '-- in 2016 alone, Rauner contributed more than $50 million to his upcoming campaign. In March, 58 percent of those polled reported having an unfavorable view of the Republican, according to a poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, up from 32 percent in 2015.
One of just five blue-state Republican governors, Rauner is widely viewed as the most vulnerable incumbent in the nation.
To troll Rauner about the budget, Pritzker's campaign created "Tick Tock the Budget Clock," a character dressed as a clock, who follows Rauner at his public events carrying a sign that displays the number of days the state has gone without a budget.
As of Friday, it stood at 709 days, an unprecedented amount of time for a state to go without an operating budget.
''Illinois is a real outlier in the most striking way. The sheer size of the state's unfunded pension liabilities '... just looking at the state's finances, its habit of deferring payments from one year to the next, has created a vicious circle,'' said Ted Hampton, vice president with Moody's Investment Services. ''Illinois has had a very large negative balance both in absolute terms and relative to its budget for many years.''
What does the crisis all boil down to? It began with an ego-laden brawl between two powerful men: Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan. Rauner was elected in 2014 as the first Republican governor in Illinois in more than a decade, vowing to ''shake up Springfield'' in a campaign that demonized Madigan '-- the longest serving House speaker in state history '-- and targeted ''corrupt union bosses.''
Upon taking office, Rauner, a multimillionaire businessman, laid out a list of policy demands that initially included right to work elements as a condition of signing a budget into law. Rauner wanted changes to laws affecting workers' compensation, collective bargaining and state property taxes, among others. Democrats considered the agenda an attack on unions, which the governor had vilified, saying they had too much power in Illinois politics. Rauner called the measures pro-business and necessary to address decades of financial mismanagement.
But Madigan, who has served as speaker under governors from both political parties, was loath to condition the passage of a budget on the governor's political agenda. Each side dug in, with unions rushing behind Madigan and Republicans '-- tired of being shut out for years by Madigan and thrilled to have a generous donor to their campaigns in the governor's office '-- lined up behind Rauner.
Today, Madigan's Democratic-majority House and the Republican governor remain entrenched in the war to end all political wars. The exception is the Democratic-controlled Senate, which ultimately voted on a tax increase before May 31 adjournment.
Both Rauner and Madigan counted on the other to cave. Neither has. Meantime, the state is drowning in debt, deficit spending and multiple bond-rating downgrades.
It's increasingly possible that Rauner '-- who promised that he carried negotiation credibility and the know-how to fix the state's finances '-- could complete his four-year term in office without ever having passed a budget. At that point, economic forecasts indicate the state's unpaid bill pile would soar beyond $20 billion. The bill backlog was at about $6 billion when Rauner first took office.
To put it into perspective, the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature just overrode a veto by its governor from the same party that reversed the governor's tax cuts and created $1.9 billion in revenue. Lawmakers there panicked after the state found itself $900 million in the hole '-- a drop in the bucket compared to Illinois.
Few Illinois state pols seem to be panicking. That could be a reflection of voters who don't seem rattled.
Instead of voting on full-fledged budgets, including possibly increasing revenue, the governor and the General Assembly have signed off on stopgap spending plans. That means they're cherry picking certain areas to fund '-- keeping schools open and roads paved.
''This impasse has been sort of cleverly positioned to diminish the immediate, obvious impacts on your middle-class voters,'' said Andrea Durbin, chief executive officer of Illinois Collaboration on Youth. ''Those voters are being deceived, because every single one of us is going to pay more every single day that this goes on. Having the DMV open, state parks, highway construction and K-12 open, it allows your sort of average middle-class voter to be deceived about what is going on.''
Illinois was creative in how it pays its bills long before Rauner took office. It has for years taken the politically palatable option of avoiding tax hikes while borrowing from pension funds, allowing its pension backlog to balloon and failing to sock away money for emergencies. Illinois is just one of nine states to not have a rainy day fund, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
Last month, a group of protesters was so fed up with the stalemate that it took drastic measures to draw attention to the crisis. They walked 200 miles from Chicago to Springfield, stopping in towns along the way to talk about the budget. Once inside the capital, some demonstrators were dragged from the House chamber. In the evening, another group tied their wrists together, chanted traditional protest chants and sat in a circle outside the governor's office before about three dozen were arrested.
The next day, the Illinois House adjourned without even calling a budget bill for a vote. A week later, the governor was touring the state '-- to talk about a property tax crisis. As for Madigan, he authorized public hearings, underway now, to continue discussions '-- on a budget.
''No one has tried to do what Illinois is doing. Every other state has relied on the pressure that comes to bear on the governor and state legislators,'' said the Civic Federation's Msall.
This year, Rauner balanced his budget proposal by relying on $4.5 billion in savings from a so-called Grand Bargain compromise in the Illinois Senate. That compromise was born out of Senate leaders in both parties revolting against Madigan and Rauner and putting together their own budget.
But just as the Senate lawmakers neared a series of bipartisan votes, Rauner pulled the plug, saying the deal didn't go far enough. Senate Democrats eventually passed their own budget, including voting on a huge tax hike as well as $3 billion in spending cuts to balance the budget before sending it to the House.
Rauner not only promised a veto, but the Republican Party '-- which he funds almost entirely himself '-- also began running robocalls in targeted House districts, attempting to shame Democrats from casting a vote for the measure.
With no solution in sight for the almost-two-year budget standoff, both Rauner and Madigan have sought to flood political campaign accounts with record amounts of cash aimed at broadening their grasp over the Democratic-controlled Legislature. But to pin the blame on Rauner and Madigan is to simplify the crisis, observers say.
''Every single member of the General Assembly has a vote. We've been asking for a long time, who do we blame? When we started, we went and visited over 40 legislators in both parties and said, please don't do this. Exclusively, they'd say: 'It's their fault,' and point to the other chamber. The other leader. I'm like: You are elected, you have a vote,'' Durbin said. ''So for us to boil it down to two individuals is a bit of a cop-out. Right now, the General Assembly and the governor '-- none of them are choosing to do what's in the best interest of the state.''
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning '-- in your inbox.
Austin is one of the best cities to be quarantined
WEATHER WATCH Austin is one of the best cities to be quarantined
by Rachel Bowman
Thursday, April 23rd 2020File image of the Downtown Austin skyline. (CBS Austin)
Austin, TX '--Austin has been listed as one of the top 10 cities to live while in quarantine.
According to a study by Zippia, there are four key components that best determine quality of life during quarantine:
Apartment SpaceInternet speedTake-out optionsPark accessRanking each city based on data obtained from RENTCafe, DoorDash, and the US Census, here's how Austin held up against the competition:
Apartment Size: 859 sq ftBroadband Internet: 80.9%Park Land Per 1k People: 22.9Take-out Options: 1564The study credits Austin with having the second smallest apartments of the top 10 ranked cities (San Diego being the smallest), with fast internet and substantial green space.
View This Story on Our Site
Violent protests in Paris suburbs reflect tensions under lockdown - The Washington Post
PARIS '-- The riots began after a man on a motorcycle crashed into the open door of an unmarked police vehicle, a collision that landed him in the emergency room with a broken leg.
In the midst of a global health crisis, the April 18 incident in the Paris suburb of Villeneuve-la-Garenne might have gained little attention '-- even while there was some debate between witnesses and police about whether the door had been opened on purpose.
But, coming five weeks into a lockdown that has exacerbated inequalities, the incident brought simmering tensions to a boiling point in France's poor and densely populated suburbs.
Video footage from Villeneuve-la-Garenne this past week showed protesters aiming fireworks at police, who responded with tear gas. The violent demonstrations spread to other Parisian suburbs, including Hauts-de-Seine, where an elementary school was set on fire on Tuesday night. Additional clashes with police, involving projectiles thrown at officers or the torching of trash cans and cars, were reported as far away as Toulouse in southern France and Lyon and Strasbourg in the east.
These protests have been small '-- nothing on the scale of the ''yellow vest'' demonstrations that rocked France for months in 2018 and 2019. But the violence stands out within Europe, where streets have been largely deserted and people have been largely accepting of the coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by their governments.
The riots in France have been first and foremost about heavy-handed policing '-- a preexisting controversy. But they are also about the strains of the outbreak and lockdown on working-class families, many of immigrant origins, who live in small apartments within crowded public housing buildings.
Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.
France's restrictions on movement '-- in place since March 17 '-- allow people to leave home once a day for either exercise or essential shopping, but advocates say police have been monitoring for infractions in the suburbs more frequently than in the streets of central Paris.
Some of those who live in communities like Villeneuve-la-Garenne are essential workers '-- bus drivers, postal workers, grocery cashiers '-- who have had no choice but to continue working, and putting themselves at risk, through the lockdown.
Others have been confined to their apartments, with children home full-time, and with little ability to create any social distance from their neighbors.
These communities have been devastated by the coronavirus in ways wealthier Paris has not.
Police officers stand ready during clashes in Villeneuve-la-Garenne. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)
Directly north of Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis '-- colloquially known as ''the 93,'' after its administrative number '-- is the poorest department in the country and serves as something of a national metaphor for all of France's suburbs. The total number of deaths recorded in the 93 between March and April 2020 is 128 percent higher than it was in the same period of 2019, according to data released by Insee, France's national statistics agency. This is the second highest figure in France '-- behind only the Haut-Rhin, where France recorded its first major coronavirus cluster.
How a prayer meeting at a French megachurch may have led to scores of coronavirus deaths
As a point of comparison, Paris saw a total mortality increase of about 68 percent during the same period this year '-- nearly half the amount of Seine-Saint-Denis.
If not all of those deaths would necessarily have been related to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, experts are now turning to these figures for a fuller, if still imprecise, sense of the pandemic's scope. The umbrella totals, the reasoning goes, also include the deaths of those who were never tested for the coronavirus or who died at home without seeking medical care.
''It's true that today, inequalities are killing in Seine-Saint-Denis,'' wrote a group of six mayors and elected officials from the department in an open letter published in France's Le Monde newspaper earlier this month.
The mayors blamed spending cuts that have whittled away at the department's infrastructure for years and that, before the arrival of the coronavirus, were still a priority of President Emmanuel Macron's government.
''These deep injustices, which no one can choose to ignore, will have to be tackled head on, with action,'' the mayors wrote in their letter. ''The new world, one after the pandemic, which even members of the majority are calling for, will no longer be able to follow the logic of budgetary austerity that sacrifices lives.''
French Civil Protection volunteers respond to an emergency call linked to a suspected coronavirus case in Rosny sous Bois, a northern Paris suburb. (Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
''What the confinement has done is reveal huge inequalities that existed before,'' said Goundo Diawara, a middle school counselor in Garges-l¨s-Gonesse, another northern suburb of Paris.
She said she and her colleagues have been regularly in touch with families by phone since the school closed, and she's heard from parents who feel guilty about having to continue to work and not be available to supervise their children's lessons, or about not being able to provide the tools their children need for remote learning, such as computers and Internet access.
These students, Diawara said, are ''the least able to follow their courses, and they are the ones who need them the most.''
Macron's government has taken these critiques to heart, promising to reopen schools first when France begins a slow emergence from its lockdown.
''Many children are missing out of school,'' Macron said, ''and there is an inequality in that there are those who don't have Internet access and who can't be helped by their parents.''
The plan is for the youngest students to return starting the week of May 11, with most schools back in session by May 25.
But that is unlikely to resolve tensions. While Macron has said going back to school will be voluntary, that parents concerned about the virus can continue to keep their kids home, lower-income working parents may not have that flexibility. Meanwhile, teachers' unions are threatening to strike, potentially leaving the most disadvantaged students with even less support than they have now.
People queue as they wait to receive donated food in Clichy-sous-Bois. (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)
''When we compare ourselves to the U.S., we try to think, we French, that we're way ahead of you guys,'' said Eros Sana, a political activist in the Paris suburbs and the editor of bastamag.net, an online magazine that covers ecology and social justice. ''You have people in so many states lining up to get food. But, the thing is, we have the same thing here. In Seine-Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers, people are queuing because they need to eat. We have the same issues.''
For Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist and anti-racism activist, the lockdown period has exacerbated already high tensions between the banlieues' black and Muslim residents and the French police.
The lockdown requires all who leave their homes to carry ''attestation'' forms that justify the reason for their trip, in theory for police inspection. What this means in reality, Diallo said, is more frequent contact between two groups that historically do not trust each other.
''This just exposes people to additional police screening, when police don't always treat them fairly,'' she said.
The Paris suburbs have been the site of protests against police brutality before.
In 2005, for instance, violent riots followed the deaths of two teenagers who were being chased by police and ended up being electrocuted at a power substation in Clichy-sous-Bois, an eastern suburb of Paris.
France also saw Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2016, after a 24-year-old black construction worker, Adama Traor(C), died in police custody in Beaumont-sur-Oise, a town about an hour north of Paris.
But now, there's the added danger that such demonstrations may advance the spread of the coronavirus.
The 30-year-old man injured in last weekend's motorcycle incident, whose name has not been disclosed, has filed complaint against the police, while local authorities have opened an investigation. But the man called for an end to the protests in a video statement from the hospital.
''I ask you to go back to home, to stay calm,'' he said. ''Justice will be served.''
How the coronavirus is igniting riots, releases and crackdowns in world's prisons
'Les Mis(C)rables' is a film about France and race. Its creators hope it can resonate in America.
Today's coverage from Post correspondents around the world
Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news
Austin police: Man dead after Southeast Austin officer-involved shooting | FOX 7 Austin
Austin police: Man dead after Southeast Austin officer-involved shootingA man has died after an officer-involved shooting in Southeast Austin, says Austin police.
AUSTIN, Texas - A man has died after an officer-involved shooting in Southeast Austin, says Austin police.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley briefed the media near the scene at the intersection of Oltorf Street and S. Pleasant Valley Road.
APD reported at 6:40 p.m. on Twitter that AIR1 was responding to the 2600 block of S. Pleasant Valley Road to assist patrol units with a gun urgent call of a suspect holding a gun in the air. Manley said that the description of the vehicle in the call may have matched one involved in an incident on Thursday where the suspect escaped police custody.
APD first arrived on the scene at 6:35 p.m., says Manley, and waited until several officers were there before approaching the vehicle. Officers gave commands to the occupant in the vehicle.
The suspect described in the gun urgent call then got out of the vehicle and had his hands up in the air and Manley said he was not complying with the officers' commands and that the officers then discussed using a less lethal method, such as a beanbag shotgun, to gain compliance.
An officer fired a beanbag shotgun at the suspect and at that point, Manley says the suspect got back in the vehicle and attempted to leave the scene. As the vehicle pulled out of the parking space and turned, another officer fired his rifle and the vehicle drove down a short distance and crashed into a parked car.
EMS at the scene transported the suspect to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Manley says the deceased is believed to be a 42-year-old Hispanic man.
Two officers were involved in the shooting, according to Manley. The one who fired the beanbag shotgun had recently graduated in the last APD cadet class and has been on the street for three months. The one who had fired the lethal rifle has been with the department for five years.
Manley says the case is under investigation and that based on the description of the vehicle and the people involved and officers' knowledge of incidents over the last week, this incident may be linked to recent burglaries and the police evasion on Thursday.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
Download for iOS or Android
There are many videos of the incident including body camera footage. Manley says he reviewed one camera's footage and that the footage follows the timeline he shared in the briefing.
Manley says APD will likely obtain a search warrant to locate the gun described in the initial 9-1-1 call.
The lengthy multi-prong investigation into the shooting will involve the District Attorney's office, the APD Special Investigations Unit and the APD Internal Affairs Unit with the involvement of the Office of Police Oversight, says Manley.
California Will No Longer Issue Permits for Rallies at the State Capitol, Effectively Banning Protests - Big League Politics
Following a successful protest on Monday at the State Capitol against the quarantine, the state has now banned similar protests, according to an announcement from the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
''Permits are issued to provide safe environments for demonstrators to express their views,'' the CHP said in a statement. ''In this case, the permit for the convoy was issued with the understanding that the protest would be conducted in a manner consistent with the state's public health guidance.''
''That is not what occurred, and CHP will take this experience into account when considering permits for this or any other group,'' they added.
Trending: HUGE: Gen. Mike Flynn Requests to Withdraw Guilty Plea
On Monday, individuals convened in the downtown area for an ''Operation Gridlock'' protest, based off of last week's wildly successful demonstration in Michigan against anti-Trump Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whose lockdown policies are among the most strict in the nation.
take our poll - story continues below
California Governor Gavin Newsom might be giving Whitmer some competition, as his state bureaucrats have arbitrarily banned a certain type of rally. It is unknown whether they plan to lock up protesters if they disobey the new edict.
''In the interest of public safety and the health of all Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately the California Highway Patrol will deny any permit requests for events or activities at all state facilities, to include the State Capitol, until public health officials have determined it is safe to gather again,'' the CHP said.
Because protesters did not comply with arbitrary social distancing mandates and protested as they wished, California is punishing them as a consequence.
The same OPEN CALI NOW sign is making the rounds '' spotted in Huntington Beach last week, and DTLA today (and, though I can relate to abbreviating where space is limited, nobody calls CA "Cali") pic.twitter.com/ky65YxZxCj
'-- StreetsblogLA (@StreetsblogLA) April 23, 2020
The protest was put on by the Freedom Angels, a group that organizes to prevent mandatory vaccinations. They are urging people to stand up to prevent their rights from being taken away during these troubling times.
''This is the time for people to take notice and really evaluate the freedoms they're giving up, all in the name of perceived safety,'' said Freedom Angels co-founder Heidi Munoz Gleisner in a Facebook video.
''People need to get back to work, get back to life, get back into contact with their loved ones who they're isolated from, they need to be able to have a paycheck,'' group co-founder Tara Thornton said to The Sacramento Bee, which interviewed her during the demonstration. ''This is the grounds they will enslave us upon.''
The protest forced the state's hand, and they have effectively made the State Capitol a 1st Amendment-free zone as a result.
Bypass Tech Censorship!Facebook, Twitter and Google are actively restricting conservative content through biased algorithms. Silicon Valley doesn't want you to read our articles. Bypass the censorship, sign up for our newsletter now!
Have a hot tip for Big League Politics?
Got a hot news tip for us? Photos or video of a breaking story? Send your tips, photos and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org. All hot tips are immediately forwarded to BLP Staff.
Have something to say? Send your own guest column or original reporting to email@example.com.
Palantir tapped for White House coronavirus data analysis, report says - CNET
Data-mining firm Palantir is reportedly set to contribute to a US government program that crunches coronavirus information and helps inform policy decisions.
Graphic by Pixabay; illustration by CNET For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the
Data-mining company Palantir will contribute to a US government program that helps top officials make recommendations to President Donald Trump, according to a Daily Beast report Tuesday. The program, reportedly called HHS Protect Now, crunches data to help officials understand the coronavirus pandemic , in which more than 850,000 people in the states have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, and more than 47,000 people have died from the disease.
The company's founder, Peter Thiel, is a longtime supporter of the president and brokered a meeting with several other Silicon Valley leaders at the start of the Trump administration. Palantir has counted government agencies as customers, and has worked on counter-terrorism efforts .
The move appears to put Palantir at the heart of a program that could be central to White House decision-making. Officials on the president's coronavirus task force reportedly told the Daily Beast that Trump relies on presentations from task force leader Deborah Birx when making policy plans, and Birx gets information from HHS Protect Now.
Palantir and the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Keep track of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now playing: Watch this: Coronavirus lockdown: Why social distancing saves lives
Scale of 'army' needed to trace NYC infections would be unprecedented, experts say | PBS NewsHour
NEW YORK (AP) '-- New York's plan for taming the coronavirus hinges on taking a time-tested practice to an extraordinary level: hiring an ''army'' of people to try to trace everyone who might be infected.
In the coming weeks, the state and city plan to build up a massive system to interview thousands of newly diagnosed people and track the places they visited and people they met.
It's part of a common approach to controlling infectious diseases '-- testing, tracing contacts and isolating those infected. But the scope is staggering even for a public health system that used the technique to combat AIDS and tuberculosis.
''The scale is just unprecedented,'' says Denis Nash, a City University of New York epidemiology professor who formerly worked at the city health department.
While several nations have mounted huge efforts to get ahead of the virus by identifying people who might have been exposed, New York state faces special challenges because infections are already rampant. More than 270,000 New Yorkers already have tested positive.
Still, with COVID-19 hospitalizations on a slow decline, state and city officials are preparing to hire thousands of tracers, contending that getting people who might be infected to isolate themselves is essential to choking off the spread of the disease.
''We do have to think big here,'' said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former city health commissioner and Centers for Disease Control director who is providing expertise for the state effort.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for creating a ''tracing army,'' and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his foundation are aiding the state's effort. That force could number from 4,000 or 5,000, to start, according to Dr. Kelly Henning of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
New York City, which has its own disease detectives, could expand to 5,000 or even 10,000 tracers, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The mayor said Friday that the initiative would go far beyond previous disease-tracking efforts and include using technology ''to trace the maximum number of people.'' He didn't give details, saying specific plans would be laid out later.
Tracing involves isolating everyone who tests positive and interviewing them about recent ''close contacts,'' which health officials define as people who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious.
Then, tracers connect with those contacts. If they prove to have the virus, the process is repeated.
Mostly, the work entails phone calls, though disease detectives sometimes venture out to find people when phone numbers aren't available. The job requires discretion and a feel for engaging with people on an anxiety-provoking subject.
WATCH: Stories from Americans struggling with the pandemic's economic fallout
''Yes, it's really hard. It's not perfect,'' said Frieden, president and chief executive officer of Resolve to Save Lives. ''Some cases will be missed, some context will be missed. But it can make a big difference, and it can help us get out sooner and safer.''
To construct a timeline, a tracer might ask: Was there any time in the last five days you went to a grocery store? You went to the post office Tuesday; did you go anywhere else that day?
''Often you have to jog the person's memory about where they've been,'' said Henning.
Similar buildups are going on around the country '-- California wants to train up to 10,000 tracers '-- and around the world.South Korea paired robust testing with high-tech tracing that included cellphone tracking, surveillance camera footage and even credit card transactions. Not only is that information collected by authorities, it is stripped of some identifying information and made public, so people can see for themselves whether they have been in proximity to someone with the virus.
India is planning to use wristbands outfitted with a contact-tracing app that also would monitor infected people's body temperatures and movements. Israel assigned its domestic security agency to use smartphone location data to track virus carriers' movements over the two weeks before diagnosis.
Experts envision New York's force relying on longstanding sleuthing methods, but with better data systems and technology. Officials are taking a look at whether cell phone apps can help with status check-ins. Frieden said New York could follow the lead of Singapore and employ video calls to help establish human bonds.
Another technology still under development could help people retrace their steps. With a person's consent, sleuths could generate a list of potential contacts through texts, email, social media data and other information available on phones, said Frieden.
For now, the problem in New York City and the surrounding suburbs is too many cases and too few tracers.
The city has a few hundred disease detectives, while new cases are being confirmed by the thousands every day.
De Blasio said this week the caseload is still too big and testing capacity too limited to make a ''test and trace'' strategy workable, and experts agree the number of new cases needs to come down for effective tracing.
''There's not a magic number,'' Henning said. ''But it needs to be in the few hundred per day maximum, not in the thousands.''
Even at that level, many more tracers will be needed in the city and surrounding suburbs. And workers employed by the state, the city and neighboring states must coordinate to account for contacts among commuters.
The pool of new tracers may come partly from reassigned city workers, people who work for social-service groups with city contracts, the state health department and public university students in medical fields.
While technology can save labor and can smooth potential pitfalls, from missed calls to reluctance to share information, it also raises questions about privacy.
One increasingly prominent technology relies on GPS and Bluetooth signals to track the proximity between individuals and inform potential contacts. Frieden calls that technology unproven and ''really scary to people.''
People involved with the ramp-up on the city and state level say up-to-date technology will be needed to make the logistically daunting task more efficient, but the core job remains one person talking to another person.
''At the end of the day,'' Henning said, ''we still need to have a cadre of contact tracers who can have that interaction with the person who is ill.''
Hill contributed from Albany, N.Y.
Apple and Google Strengthen Privacy of COVID-19 Exposure Notification System, Targeting Next Week for Beta Release - MacRumors
As a result of feedback from officials around the world, Apple and Google today have disclosed a series of changes to their upcoming COVID-19 contact tracing initiative, with a focus on even stronger privacy protections and accuracy.
Apple and Google are now referring to "contact tracing" as "exposure notification," which the companies believe better describes the functionality of their upcoming API. The system is intended to notify a person of potential exposure, augmenting broader contact tracing efforts that public health authorities are undertaking.Keys will now be randomly generated rather than derived from a temporary tracing key, making it more difficult for someone to guess how the keys are derived and use that information to try and track people.Bluetooth metadata will be encrypted, making it more difficult for someone to try and use that information to identify a person.Exposure time will be recorded in five minute intervals, with the maximum reported exposure time capped at 30 minutes.The API will include information about the power level of the Bluetooth signal in the data that is exchanged between phones. This can be used in conjunction with the RSSI ("Received Signal Strength Indication") to more accurately estimate the distance between two phones when contact was made.Apple and Google will allow developers to specify signal strength and duration thresholds for exposure events.The API will now allow for determining the number of days since the last exposure event to better determine what actions the user should take next.The API's encryption algorithm is switching from HMAC to AES. Many devices have built-in hardware for accelerating AES encryption, so this change should help performance and efficiency on phones.Further changes to the API specifications will be made over time based on continued feedback from public health authorities.
Apple and Google are targeting next week for the release of the seed version of iOS and Android operating system updates, which will support these APIs to enable testing by public health authority developers. The software update will support iOS devices released in the last four years, dating back to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Apple and Google revealed plans for this exposure notification initiative two weeks ago. The joint effort will use Bluetooth to alert users when they have potentially come in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, on an opt-in basis. The companies have shared an updated FAQ for users with more details about the system.
Exposure Notification FAQ by MacRumors on Scribd
Gurman: Redesigned iMac, Smaller HomePod, New Apple TV, and More Coming This YearWell-connected Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman recently took questions from followers on Periscope about Apple's product roadmap. Gurman's sources are usually very reliable, and the journalist is known for breaking Apple stories, so we took it as an opportunity to summarize his current expectations of the company in the near term.Unsurprisingly, many viewers asked Gurman about the so-called...
Bloomberg: Apple's First ARM Mac to Launch by 2021 With 12-Core ProcessorIn line with a timeframe shared by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last month, Bloomberg today reports that Apple is planning to release at least one Mac with its own custom-designed ARM-based processor by 2021.The report claims that Apple is developing three Mac processors based on the A14 chip in upcoming iPhone 12 models. At least one of these processors will apparently be much faster than the...
Testing Apple's New Magic Keyboard for iPad ProApple last week surprised us with the early launch of the new Magic Keyboard designed for the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro models, and as of this week, orders are arriving to customers. We picked up one of the new Magic Keyboards for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and tested it out to see how it works and whether it's worth the $350 selling price.Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
Teardown Video Compares New iPhone SE to iPhone 8When it comes to design, the iPhone SE is identical to the iPhone 8, featuring a 4.7-inch LCD display, thick top and bottom bezels, a single-lens rear camera, and a Touch ID Home button.Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 8 also looks a lot like the iPhone SE inside, as detailed in a teardown video by a Chinese YouTuber who has one of the devices on hand. The video, which has subtitles, was shared...
Screenshots Reveal Facebook iOS App Has Hidden Dark ModeFacebook appears to be working on a dark mode for its flagship iOS app. WABetaInfo managed to enable the hidden setting, which is still under development and not yet available to public or beta users.9to5Mac followed suit, and their screenshots suggest Facebook is aiming for a theme that's closer to greyscale than the true blacks used in Apple's dark mode for iOS 13. Facebook offers a...
PSA: New Character Bug in Messages Causing iOS Devices to Crash [Updated]There appears to be a new character-linked bug in Messages, Mail, and other apps that can cause the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch to crash when receiving a specific string of characters. Image from Twitter In this particular case, the character string involves the Italian flag emoji along with characters in the Sindhi language, and it appears the system crash happens when an incoming...
Apple Releases iOS 13.4.1 for iPhone SE Ahead of LaunchApple today released the iOS 13.4.1 update for iPhone SE owners, suggesting iPhone SE models arriving to customers tomorrow will have iOS 13.4 installed and will need a day-one software update.iPhone SE owners can install the new update over-the-air tomorrow through the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update.iOS 13.4.1 was released for other...
Lower-Priced 23-Inch iMac and 11-Inch iPad Models Rumored to Launch in Second Half of 2020Apple plans to introduce a 23-inch iMac in the second half of 2020, with mass production set to begin in the third or fourth quarter, according to a China Times report spotted by Mac Otakara. Apple could likely achieve this display size by simply reducing the thickness of the bezels on the current 21.5-inch iMac.The report claims that the new iMac will be one of several lower-priced...
iPhone SE Reviews: High-End Performance With Budget-Friendly PriceFirst impressions and reviews of the new iPhone SE are now out, with many praising the device's flagship performance at a budget-friendly price.The second-generation iPhone SE has a similar design as the iPhone 8, including a 4.7-inch display and a Touch ID home button, but it takes a big leap forward in performance. Despite starting at just $399, the device is powered by the...
World leaders due to launch COVID-19 drugs, vaccine plan: WHO | Article [AMP] | Reuters
GENEVA (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will help launch a global initiative on Friday to accelerate work on drugs, tests and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the world, the World Health Organization said.
The WHO said late on Thursday it would to announce a "landmark collaboration" on Friday to speed development of safe, effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a U.N. briefing on Friday that Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would take part in the 1300 GMT announcement, led by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
British foreign minister Dominic Raab and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are also to take part, diplomatic sources told Reuters.
"Today is a kind of political commitment from all these partners to make sure that when we have all these new tools no one is left behind, that those who can afford vaccines or therapeutics can buy them and (put) them at the disposal of the population," Chaib said.
"It is very important to make sure that you have equitable access to quality, efficient, new tools for COVID-19," she said.
More than 2.7 million people have been infected with the disease, which has claimed nearly 190,000 lives since emerging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to a Reuters tally.
More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including six already in clinical trials, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, a public-private partnership that leads immunisation campaigns in poor countries.
"We need to ensure that there are enough vaccines for everyone, we are going to need global leadership to identify and prioritise vaccine candidates," he told a separate Geneva news briefing before taking part in the formal WHO announcement.
Global manufacturing capacity must be ramped up ahead of choosing "a winner" vaccine, Berkley said, noting that GAVI and the World Bank were looking at the issue.
"We can't have a repeat of what happened in 2009, the H1N1 vaccine, when there was not enough supply for developing countries or when supply did come it came much later," he said.
Another important questions was how well a vaccine would work in people most at risk from COVID-19, Berkley said.
"How well do they work in the elderly, are they single or multiple dose etc?" he said, noting that older people had weaker immune systems.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Michael Shields in Zurich; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Nick Macfie)
It is the third multibillion-euro lifeline extended this past week by the French government to companies battered by the pandemic.
An Air France aircraft taking off at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris last month. Air France-KLM, one of Europe's biggest airlines, got a multibillion-euro lifeline from France and the Netherlands. Credit... Benoit Tessier/Reuters April 25, 2020, 7:49 a.m. ET PARIS '-- France and the Netherlands will provide an unprecedented taxpayer-funded bailout of 10 billion euros, about $10.8 billion, to salvage Air France-KLM as the fallout of the coronavirus on the travel industry exacts a devastating toll on global air carriers.
Air France-KLM, one of Europe's biggest airlines, will receive a '¬4 billion bank loan backed by the French state and a '¬3 billion direct government loan, Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister, said late Friday. The Dutch government said it would provide an additional '¬2 billion to '¬4 billion in public aid.
The aid infusion falls short of nationalizing the company, in which the French and Dutch states each own a 14 percent share. The European Commission '-- the executive branch of the European Union, which has thrown out restrictions on state support amid a deep economic downturn '-- swiftly approved the bailout.
It is the third multibillion-euro lifeline extended this past week by the French government to companies battered by the coronavirus.
The government is working on a '¬5 billion state-backed loan package for the flagship French automaker Renault, Mr. Le Maire said on Friday. Sales at Renault '-- which is part of the world's biggest auto alliance, with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors '-- have been hammered after quarantines closed dealerships and factories across Europe. The company had already been flagging in recent months as the arrest and subsequent escape of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, from Japan in January took a toll on the group.
The state also backed a '¬500 million loan this past week for the French electronics retail giant FNAC-Darty, which employs tens of thousands in France, to help it secure cash flow and prepare for recovery after the pandemic.
Since the crisis hit, the French government has backed more than '¬20 billion in loans for 150,000 companies, part of a huge fiscal package to support the economy and limit mass joblessness until businesses can safely start operating again. The French economy is expected to contract by at least 8 percent this year, the sharpest drop since the end of World War II.
Few industries have been dealt as sharp a blow as the airlines, as worldwide travel bans bring fleets to a standstill. The International Air Transport Association cautioned this week that European airlines would see demand drop 55 percent in 2020 compared with 2019, with potential totaling $89 billion.
Flights around Europe have slumped 90 percent, and most carriers don't expect service to resume before June. The rollout of air traffic may depend on the introduction of government-mandated social distancing measures inside aircraft, the air transport association said.
The Trump administration reached a deal with major U.S. airlines this month over the terms of a $25 billion bailout to help the companies pay flight attendants, pilots and other employees.
Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Southwest Airlines will participate in the bailout, which is part of an economic stabilization package that Congress passed last month.
European airlines were affected earlier than in the United States, after President Trump on March 12 shut America's borders to most European travelers. While the travel ban helped slow the spread of the outbreak in the United States, European carriers have struggled to cope.
The German airline Lufthansa said on Thursday that it would require government bailouts after plummeting sales led to a loss of more than a billion euros in the first quarter, and investors are no longer willing to lend the company money. Passenger traffic has fallen to almost nothing, and the second quarter will be even worse, Lufthansa said in a statement.
Norwegian Air is seeking creditor support for a rescue plan that would convert up to $4.3 billion of debt into shares and raise new equity after it announced temporary layoffs last month of 7,300 employees, about 90 percent of its work force, and asked Norway's government for help.
Air France, in which the government holds a 14 percent stake, put employees on part-time paid furlough for six months, complying with a government demand not to lay off workers. The carrier has lost about '¬25 million a day since then, pushing it into a critical financial state.
With almost all of the company's planes grounded, the financial lifeline is needed ''to save the 350,000 direct and indirect jobs that go with them,'' Mr. Maire said.
Air France-KLM's chief executive, Ben Smith, told pilots this month during a videoconference call that it would probably take two years to regain the level of traffic seen in 2019. The carrier, which hopes to gradually restore flights over the summer, warned recently that with absence of ticket sales, it would urgently need cash in the July-September quarter to stay afloat.
In a statement, the finance ministers of France and the Netherlands said they would ''take all necessary measures'' to help the carrier ''overcome this severe pandemic crisis.'' The loans to the company and fresh government money are aimed at preserving the carrier's financial and operational situation, they said.
The support ''is not a blank check'' Mr. Le Maire said on Friday, adding that the governments had set profitability conditions on the carrier.
''It is the money of the French, therefore it is necessary that the company make an effort to be more profitable,'' he said. The company will also be required to become ''the most environmentally friendly company on the planet,'' he added.
Updated April 11, 2020
When will this end?This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: ''How will we know when to reopen the country?'' In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.
How can I help?The Times Neediest Cases Fund has started a special campaign to help those who have been affected, which accepts donations here. Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities. More than 30,000 coronavirus-related GoFundMe fund-raisers have started in the past few weeks. (The sheer number of fund-raisers means more of them are likely to fail to meet their goal, though.)
What should I do if I feel sick?If you've been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
Should I wear a mask?The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don't need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don't replace hand washing and social distancing.
How do I get tested?If you're sick and you think you've been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there's a chance '-- because of a lack of testing kits or because you're asymptomatic, for instance '-- you won't be able to get tested.
How does coronavirus spread?It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
Is there a vaccine yet?No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.
What makes this outbreak so different?Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions '-- not just those with respiratory diseases '-- particularly hard.
What if somebody in my family gets sick?If the family member doesn't need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there's space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don't forget to wash your hands frequently.
Should I stock up on groceries?Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Can I go to the park?Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don't live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
Should I pull my money from the markets?That's not a good idea. Even if you're retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year's worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.
What should I do with my 401(k)?Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions '-- don't! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you're at least saving as much as you can to get that ''free money.''
Harvard, Yale under investigation for $375 million secret funding from China, Saudi Arabia
Harvard University - Cambridge, MA(Shelby L. Bell/Flickr)
The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that it is launching an investigation into Harvard and Yale after they failed to disclose about $375 million in gifts and contracts from China and Saudi Arabia in the past four years.
Harvard and Yale are the latest in the Education Department's continuing efforts to crack down on foreign influence, particularly from China. According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. universities have failed to report they brought in $6.5 billion from foreign nations since 1990.
A major aspect of the alleged foreign influence on universities is through gifts and grants, which can come with strings attached and might compromise their academic independence.
''This is about transparency,'' U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement Wednesday. ''If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom. Moreover, it's what the law requires. Unfortunately, the more we dig, the more we find that too many are underreporting or not reporting at all. We will continue to hold colleges and universities accountable and work with them to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent, as required by the law.''
On top of failing to disclose possible financial conflicts to academic freedom, Harvard even sponsored a 30-year old Chinese national who've attempted to steal research.
The Chinese national, Zaosong Zheng, was recently arrested at Boston Logan International Airport allegedly with stolen 21 vials of cancer research material he was attempting to smuggle to China. Prosecutors alleged he attempted to steal the material to bring to China so he could conduct his own research in his laboratory.
In addition to Zaosong's arrest, Charles Lieber, the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard, was arrested on Jan. 28 on charges he lied about his ties the Chinese government's Thousand Talents Plan.
Lieber also allegedly admitted that Harvard lacks the ability to track very large donations, a point echoed in the Education Department's statement.
''The Department is also concerned Harvard University may lack appropriate institutional controls over foreign money and has failed to report fully all foreign gifts and contracts as required by law,'' the Education Department statement read.
The Boston region is in itself a hotbed for Chinese government espionage and research theft, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling claimed last month.
''This is a small sample of China's ongoing campaign to siphon off American technology and know-how for Chinese gain,'' he said. ''Chinese economic espionage and theft is a real and daily occurrence that we must begin to confront.''
''As demonstrated by these cases, on the academic side, the Chinese government uses partnerships and exchanges with U.S. schools and research institutions to access cutting-edge research and equipment,'' Lelling added. ''Obviously, most visiting Chinese academics and researchers are here to work in good faith in U.S. institutions. But some of them are not.''
Wuhan was a fentanyl capital. Then coronavirus hit - Los Angeles Times
For drug traffickers interested in getting in on the fentanyl business, all roads once led to Wuhan.
The sprawling industrial city built along the Yangtze River in east-central China is known for its production of chemicals, including the ingredients needed to cook fentanyl and other powerful synthetic opioids.
Vendors there shipped huge quantities around the world. The biggest customers were Mexican drug cartels, which have embraced fentanyl in recent years because it is cheaper and easier to produce than heroin.
But the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan late last year before spreading across the planet has upended the fentanyl supply chain, causing a ripple effect that has cut into the profits of Mexican traffickers and driven up street drug prices across the United States.
Few industries '-- illicit or not '-- have been unscathed by the pandemic that has upended the global economy and killed more than 190,000 people worldwide.
The narcotics trade, which relies on the constant movement of goods and people, has been stymied by lockdowns, travel bans and other efforts to contain the virus, according to government officials, academic researchers and drug traffickers.
Mexican production of fentanyl and methamphetamine appears especially hard hit.
Fentanyl pills disguised as prescription pain killers.
Both drugs are made with precursor chemicals that are typically sent on planes or cargo ships from China, where despite U.S. pressure to ban them, they continue to be sold legally.
That supply chain was shut down in January when authorities in Wuhan enacted a lockdown that forced residents to stay inside for more than two months.
In February, after a major manufacturer of the chemicals closed, vendors began posting apologies on the online sites where chemicals are typically sold, said Louise Shelley, a professor at George Mason University who tracks global fentanyl production.
''They were saying: 'We're not producing or selling or shipping,''' she said.
Logan Pauley, a researcher at C4ADS, a Washington-based think tank focused on transnational security, also noticed a decrease in advertisements for fentanyl precursors. He said vendors switched to selling other products, including face masks and anti-malarial drugs that some doctors and politicians initially hoped would help treat the coronavirus.
The drop in exports has left some Mexican drug producers with less access to needed chemicals.
Simultaneously, cartels have encountered another colossal challenge: new restrictions on entry to the United States '-- the world's biggest market for illegal drugs.
Normally, more than a million people cross the U.S.-Mexico border legally each day. But that number has fallen significantly since March, when President Trump closed the border to all nonessential traffic, reducing opportunities for cartels to smuggle drugs north.
1 / 28
APTOPIX Virus Outbreak France (Jean-Francois Badias / AP)
2 / 28
APTOPIX Virus Outbreak South Africa (Themba Hadebe / AP)
3 / 28
RUSSIA-HEALTH-VIRUS-HISTORY-WWII (Alexander Nemenov / AFP via Getty Images)
4 / 28
Virus Outbreak Mideast Iran (AP)
5 / 28
ITALY-HEALTH-VIRUS ( Miguel Medina / AFP via Getty Images)
6 / 28
Virus Outbreak South Africa ( Themba Hadebe / AP)
7 / 28
CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS ( AFP via Getty Images)
8 / 28
The UK Adjusts To Life Under The Coronavirus Pandemic ( Justin Setterfield / Getty Images)
9 / 28
Virus Outbreak South Korea ( Ahn Young-joon / AP)
10 / 28
Virus Outbreak Canada (Paul Chiasson / AP)
11 / 28
APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Argentina (Natacha Pisarenko / AP)
12 / 28
Virus Outbreak Nigeria (Sunday Alamba / AP)
13 / 28
Virus Outbreak Ukraine (AP)
14 / 28
Virus Outbreak Hawaii (Marco Garcia / AP)
15 / 28
Turkey Virus Outbreak ( Emrah Gurel / AP)
16 / 28
Italy Virus Outbreak ( Claudio Furlan / AP)
17 / 28
Virus Outbreak Mexico ( Christian Chavez / AP)
18 / 28
APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Spain ( Manu Fernandez / AP)
APTOPIX Virus Outbreak South Korea ( Lee Jin-man / AP)
24 / 28
A Day in Rio de Janeiro as the City Begins to Shut Down ( Wagner Meier / Getty Images)
25 / 28
Virus Outbreak India ( Channi Anand / AP)
26 / 28
Tut ( Hamada Elrasam / AP)
27 / 28
Virus Outbreak Sweden ( Anders Wiklund / AP)
28 / 28
Virus Outbreak Germany ( Marcel Kusch / AP)
Some cartels are hurting financially, said Falko Ernst, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group. He said he has interviewed gang members who complain that cartel bosses have not paid their salaries.
''They're being told that business is bad, that finances aren't flowing smoothly,'' he said.
Other factors are also hurting organized crime. Experts say quarantines have slowed the movement of cocaine from South America to Mexico and harmed legal industries, such as the avocado trade, from which cartels extort money. Meanwhile, the downturn of global oil prices has been a blow to gangs that resell stolen gasoline.
That loss of income could be exacerbating violence in Mexico, which saw 2,585 homicides in March, more than in any month in nearly two years.
In the United States, reduced drug production and less trafficking across the border appear to have resulted in rising retail prices.
Kameron Korte, a spokeswoman for the San Diego field division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, said fentanyl pills in her region now sell for $7 each, up from $5 a few months ago.
The average cost of methamphetamine has risen from $1,000 per pound to $1,400 per pound, she said.
Similar price hikes have been seen in other parts of the country.
Drug users have grumbled about rising prices on online forums. On a message board on the website Reddit, one person complained that prices of fentanyl pills in Phoenix had nearly doubled. ''Border shut = less trafficking,'' it said.
Despite that, drug treatment experts say they are seeing a surge in drug use.
Jeffrey Holland, who runs a nonprofit rehabilitation facility in Albuquerque, said anxiety about the pandemic and the economic recession is a potent trigger. It doesn't help that Narcotics Anonymous meetings and other recovery programs have been moved online, he said.
''This is cultural trauma on a global scale,'' he said. ''And when people have more anxiety, they turn to alcohol and drugs.''
Nursing homes have been especially hard hit.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The country's opioid crisis began more than a decade ago with prescription painkillers and heroin, but in recent years it has been dominated by fentanyl.
In 2018, more than 31,000 people in the United States died after taking fentanyl or one of its close chemical relatives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No other drug in modern history has killed more people in a year.
Holland said he's seen no sign of a slowdown in New Mexico during the pandemic.
''Drug dealers are still driving around, and they're still selling from their houses,'' he said.
Jaime L"pez-Aranda, a Mexican security analyst, said that drug traffickers are accustomed to disruptions in the supply chain and that they would bounce back from the pandemic the same way they rebound from cartel infighting or law enforcement crackdowns.
''It's part of the business cycle,'' he said. ''This has never been a stable market. The rule is strife and conflict.''
In Mexico, there has been some evidence that cartels have been trying to adapt.
Miguel Angel Vega, a journalist and expert on the Sinaloa cartel, said multiple drug producers have told him of efforts '-- so far unsuccessful '-- to manufacture the precursor drugs needed to make fentanyl and methamphetamine in Mexico.
Wuhan ended its 76-day lockdown on April 8, and many of the city's 11 million residents have returned to work. According to Shelley, some online websites have already resumed selling fentanyl ingredients.
Ben Westhoff, who traveled to Wuhan in 2018 while researching the opioid trade for his book ''Fentanyl, Inc.,'' said it's likely that Mexican cartels are already designing more resilient supply chains.
The only reason they relied on Chinese manufacturers for precursor chemicals in the past was because it was easy, he said.
''The reason they buy these ingredients from China is the reason everybody buys things from China: because it's cheap.''
Coronavirus: China faces fight to hang onto foreign manufacturers as US, Japan, EU make Covid-19 exit plans | South China Morning Post
The coronavirus has again highlighted an over-reliance on China, with the United States, Japan and the European Union drawing up separate plans to lure their companies away. Illustration: Adolfo Arranz
Three of the world's four largest economies, the United States, Japan and the European Union, are drawing up separate plans to lure their companies out of ChinaBut business figures warn not to conflate political statements with the economic realities of manufacturingTopic | Coronavirus outbreak
Published: 10:00pm, 24 Apr, 2020
Updated: 1:09am, 25 Apr, 2020
China-Owned Smithfield Foods Closing Plants, Threatening US Meat Supply
America's meat supply might be in jeopardy as workers at slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are diagnosed with COVID-19, leading to closures across the country.
The effects of such closures are complex and could have far-reaching consequences across the food supply chain, putting America's livestock farmers in jeopardy of going under as wholesale prices take a dive.
Even more alarming is the fact that the largest provider of pork in the U.S. is owned and held by a corporation based in China.
Smithfield Foods is the country's largest producer of pork products, and its products are sold under the popular brands Nathan's Famous, Farmland, Eckrich, Armour and Healthy Ones, to name a few.
The longtime Virginia-based company was acquired in 2013 by Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. (now WH Group Ltd.).
TRENDING: Saudis Turn on America, Send Flotilla To Sink US Shale and Oil
Smithfield, with plants across the country that employ tens of thousands of Americans, announced last week it had closed multiple locations due to COVID-19 outbreaks among its workforce.
The company addressed the closures of plants in Cudahy, Wisconsin; Martin City, Missouri; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in recent news releases.
Traveled to Sioux Falls, SD, where this Smithfield Foods pork plant has closed indefinitely.
518 employees here tested positive for #COVID19.
55% of ALL cases in South Dakota can be traced to this *single* plant. pic.twitter.com/WB98Th7SBN
'-- Blayne Alexander (@ReporterBlayne) April 15, 2020
''The closure of our Martin City plant is part of the domino effect underway in our industry,'' Smithfield CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan said in a news release Wednesday. ''It highlights the interdependence and interconnectivity of our food supply chain.
Are you bothered by America's largest pork provider being owned by a company in communist China?
98% (5237 Votes)
2% (89 Votes)
''Our country is blessed with abundant livestock supplies, but our processing facilities are the bottleneck of our food chain.''
In an April 12 release on the Sioux Falls closure, Sullivan wrote, ''The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.
''These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation's livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.''
The company, founded in the town of Smithfield, Virginia in 1936, was sold to Shuanghui International Holdings for $4.7 billion, according to Forbes.
RELATED: Watch Gushing MSNBC Host Tout Biden Ad as 'All True' - But It's Actually Misleading
Now it is warning of a potential meat shortage nationwide that would harm no individual more than the American farmer.
The American Farm Bureau Federation notes that the country's farmers are ready to meet the challenge of supplying the country with food throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
''Whether they're readying the soil for spring planting, tending to crops that have already sprouted, feeding and milking their dairy cows or looking after their cattle, chickens and pigs, farmers and ranchers take very seriously their commitment to fill grocery store shelves with safe, affordable food,'' the AFBF stated.
Still, strict shutdowns and tumbling meat prices are putting a strain on the men and women who raise the country's livestock.
Iowa cattle farmer Brian Sampson told Des Moines-based KCCI-TV he is ''going broke'' because of low prices from packing plants.
''If you have cattle to sell right now, you're losing your shirt,'' he said.
Illinois pork farmer Thomas Titus told WICS-TV in Springfield that prices for his livestock have plummeted and he isn't sure if he will make it out on the other side of the country's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
''The bottom of the barrel really doesn't have any light in it,'' Titus said. ''The market is continuing to drop way below the cost of production for any hog farmer, depending on their overhead, it doesn't matter at this point in time.''
Illinois Pork Production Association Executive Director Jennifer Tirey told WICS the consequences for farmers during the crisis are ''devastating.''
When looking at the struggles of American farmers, it really should open some eyes as to why China '-- the United States' greatest geopolitical rival '-- was allowed to get a huge stake in such a critical portion of America's food supply chain.
While Americans are forced inside their homes by a virus born in China, what is to say our meat supply isn't vulnerable to being held hostage by China's authoritarian regime?
WH Group describes itself as ''a Hong Kong-based privately held company that owns a variety of food and logistics enterprises.''
But exactly how private is a privately owned Chinese company?
The U.K. Guardian reported in 2019 that in his first term in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping ''has overseen a sea change in how the party approaches the economy, dramatically strengthening the party's role in both government and private businesses.''
Have we ignored yet another potential danger from China by allowing its corporations to buy and own vital American businesses and industries, especially those that relate to national supply chains?
Why is such a valuable asset, such as Smithfield, in the hands of a Chinese company?
What happens if China's government uses its influence over private enterprise as a strategic tool of the state to wage an economic war against the U.S.?
It has become abundantly clear that China is no ally to Americans '-- or to American farmers.
The potential power of Chinese interests over America's farmers and food supplies is yet another reason Americans need to consider the far-reaching implications of being tethered to their country's largest geopolitical and economic rival.
I am reminded of late radio icon Paul Harvey's ''So God Made a Farmer'' speech to the Future Farmers of America in 1978 when considering the plight of the men and women who work to put food on our tables as they struggle with the implications of events beyond their control.
Farmers play a vital role in American business and culture and provide essential food and other products to all Americans.
Without a timely and safe reopening of America's economy, a short-term meat shortage could force many of them out of business and prolong the crisis even further.
This is also an appropriate time to have a discussion about why any Chinese company should have a controlling interest in the country's food supply chain '-- and whether the men and women on the frontlines of American agriculture should find themselves as pawns in an international chess match between Beijing and lawmakers in Washington.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Chinese activists detained after sharing censored coronavirus material on crowdsourcing site Github | South China Morning Post
Cai Wei, one of the three missing volunteers. Photo: Handout
Source close to Beijing-based trio says they are being held an at unknown location on suspicion of 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'The three were contributors to a project that aimed to preserve material censors had tried to wipe from the webTopic | Censorship in China
Published: 10:24pm, 25 Apr, 2020
Updated: 2:30pm, 26 Apr, 2020
Democrats plan to censure lawmaker who credited Trump for COVID-19 recovery
Detroit Democrats plan to vote Saturday to censure and bar any future endorsements of a Democratic lawmaker who credited President Donald Trump with advocating for the drug that she said cured her of COVID-19.
State Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, broke protocol by meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during an April 14 meeting of COVID-19 survivors, during which she credited hydroxychloroquine for saving her life.
''Thank you for everything that you have done,'' Whitsett told Trump at the meeting. ''I did not know that saying thank you had a political line. '... I'm telling my story and my truth, and this how I feel and these are my words.''
The meeting and other comments Whitsett made prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic have landed her in hot water with the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization.
The group, as first reported by Gongwer News Service, plans to vote Saturday via Zoom on a resolution to censure Whitsett, a first-term lawmaker representing the 9th Michigan House District.
The admonition means she will not get the group's endorsement for this year nor will she be able to engage in the group's activities for the next two election cycles.
''At the end of the day, we have political systems,'' said Jonathan Kinloch, chairman of the organization. ''We have political parties, and political parties exist for a reason."
''They do not belong to themselves,'' Kinloch said of endorsed candidates and elected officials. ''They belong to the members and precinct delegates of the Democratic Party.''
Up until March, Kinloch was Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's community liaison to southeast Michigan.
The development drew the ire of Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted Thursday: "What a joke. Remember folks, the narrative can only be against Trump and if you break those rules the left will turn on their own."
'I will continue to fight'
Whitsett, meanwhile, said she plans to continue working for the district, adding that she has been delivering food and cleaning products to those in need throughout the pandemic.
"I will continue to fight for the city of Detroit and the people in Detroit who need it the most, and that is the black community," Whitsett said. "We're the voiceless, and I don't care who I got to go up against to do that.
"I'm a Democrat, and I plan on continuing to be a Democrat, but they will change their ways. I have my First Amendment right, and no one will take that away from me.''
It's not unusual for there to be strife within parties but those differences usually play out at the state or local level, said Greg Bowens, a Detroit-area Democratic political consultant and a member of the executive board for the 14th Congressional District.
In Whitsett's case, the issue quickly rose to the national stage and could be used as a wedge to peel off Democratic supporters in Michigan, Bowens said. Whitsett's actions, he said, could be "undermining the party's ability to win Michigan."
''She is in her own way trying to champion the inequities in our system," Bowens said. "But everybody knows Trump's a user. If you give him any praise, he's going to use it in his campaign to win the state.''
Several lawmakers in Detroit or elsewhere have been censured in some way by their parties over the years because of "serious trouble with the law," but the idea of zinging a lawmaker for meeting with the president is "unheard of," said Bill Ballenger, a longtime political analyst, a Republican former state lawmaker and head of the online Ballenger Report.
"They obviously feel this is something that cannot be tolerated," he said.
Kinloch said the party's problems with Whitsett date back to comments she made about House Democratic leadership and the Democratic legislative caucus at large.
In February, Whisett told WWJ-AM (950) that House Democratic Leader Christine Greig of Farmington Hills was a racist because she wouldn't consider an urban agenda for the caucus. Greig also pulled Whitsett's communications staff because of an unfavorable vote on an early rendition of the no-fault auto reform bill, Whitsett said.
A later version of the no-fault auto reform legislation received overwhelming support in the state House and was signed into law by Whitmer.
Slammed for misrepresenting Dems
The resolution Detroit Democrats will vote on notes she has "misrepresented the needs and priorities" of Democratic leadership to the president and public.
The resolution also notes she's participated in events with the Republican Women's Federation of Michigan to express gratitude to the president.
Whitsett, the resolution said, "has repeatedly and publicly praised the president's delayed and misguided COVID-19 response efforts in contradiction with the scientifically based and action-oriented response" from Michigan's Democratic leadership, "endangering the health, safety and welfare of her constituents, the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan."
Michigan State Medical Society President Dr. Mohammed Arsiwala prescribed hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic for Whitsett after she visited one of his Michigan Urgent Care clinics in Wyandotte. She had symptoms of COVID-19 and an underlying condition, he told The Detroit News.
The Trump administration has deployed about 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine from the federal government's Strategic National Stockpile. While hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, the drug can be dangerous for people with certain heart conditions.
On Sunday, after Whitsett continued to make negative comments about the party and Whitmer, the 13th Congressional Democratic group asked her to come in for a ''screening'' of candidates for her house district. Whitsett refused, Kinloch said.
''Don't play with us,'' Kinloch said. ''This is very serious when we ask to have a conversation with you and you choose not to.
''We're not going to accept that. How they handle you in Lansing as far as the Democratic caucus that's on them. But how we handle you back at home, that's on us.''
Whitsett said she didn't have time for the screening.
"I don't have time for politics," Whitsett said. "That's ridiculous, during a pandemic, that they think I have time for a screening. ... I have people that need me.''
Trump's tough talk on Iran 'boosts' oil prices '' but demand & storage issues persist '-- RT Business News
Traders credited US President Donald Trump's threats to sink Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf for the sharp increase in oil futures, just days after lack of storage and low demand drove the US benchmark WTI below zero.
June contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude went for $16.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday, rising 19 percent for the second straight day. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was also up by almost five percent to $21.33 a barrel. This comes after May WTI contracts traded for -$37.63 a barrel on Monday.
Also on rt.com US oil market crashes to NEGATIVE in historic plummet International analysts and oil brokers alike attributed the rise in part to Trump's aggressive rhetoric towards Tehran.
''Threats of war have always been an important factor in increasing the oil prices,'' Hamidreza Azizi, Visiting Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has told RT earlier.
Trump's revelation that he had ordered the US Navy to sink Iranian patrol boats if threatened ''boosted the possibility of renewed tension in the Middle East, a major oil producing region, which traders always translate to reductions in the region's production and exports if things escalate,'' said Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy, in a daily research note quoted by MarketWatch.
However, most were convinced that the threat of actual war between the US and Iran remained relatively low.
Also on rt.com 'Trump only wants to look strong & raise oil prices by threatening to shoot at Iranian gunboats' While the price of WTI futures was driven mostly by a glut of oil in warehouses and depressed demand due to coronavirus lockdowns across the US, the global index had taken a beating from a price war initiated by Saudi Arabia ostensibly against Russia, with US shale producers catching the brunt of the fallout.
The war ended in a tentative truce last week, as OPEC, Russia and other oil producers agreed on cutting production by 10 million barrels a day, starting in May. With no end in sight to Covid-19 shutdowns from the US and Europe to India, however, the demand is likely to stay low.
''The storm for oil isn't over but at least for the time being it is less volatile than the headline-grabbing moves of the last few days,'' notes Carlo Alberto De Casa, chief analyst at ActivTrades, but added that in the long-term he sees the need for further production cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and others.
Also on rt.com Will Trump go to war with Iran to save America's oil industry? For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
How COVID-19 Has Transformed What We Hear and See on TV | RealClearPolitics
How is television news changing in the COVID-19 era as news channels run wall-to-wall pandemic coverage, newsreaders, reporters and guests increasingly call in from home, and the imagery of society -- empty streets and a masked public -- itself changes?
Across media generally, mentions of ''experts'' are soaring as outlets increasingly interview medical and academic professionals; phrases like ''social distancing'' are part of every discussion; and outlets talk increasingly of a ''new normal.'' An early focus on ''the elderly'' has given way to discussion of ''immunity,'' while coverage of ''death'' and ''rationing'' of care are declining as countries ramp up their responses.
Media coverage has also shifted from ''flattening the curve'' to ''reopening'' the economy, as seen in the timeline below (Y-axis reports standard deviations from mean or ''Z-scores''). March 12 saw both terms begin increasing in usage, but since April 5 mentions of ''reopening'' have surged while mentions of ''flattening the curve'' have steadily fallen since April 12. (Click to enlarge.)
Even the pronouns used by the media have shifted from ''I" and ''me'' to ''us'' and ''we.'' The timeline below shows the percentage of all words spoken on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News since July 2009 (and BBC News since January 2017) that were ''us'' or ''we.'' Fox appears to have long preferred such terms more than its peers, but sharply increased its usage after the election of Donald Trump. All four channels have dramatically increased their usage in 2020.
The timeline below zooms into the January 2020-to-present period, showing that ''us'' and ''we'' began increasing around Feb. 25 and have surged since about March 11, stabilizing at elevated levels since March 17.
Mentions of ''I'' and ''me'' show no such change, indicating that the COVID-19 era is more about ''us'' than ''me.''
What about the visuals-first world of television news? Google's Video AI was used to ''watch'' CNN since Jan. 25 of this year and describe the objects and activities it observed second by second. The source of all the broadcasts was the Internet Archive's Television News Archive and they were analyzed by the GDELT Project in a special non-consumptive digital library system.
The volume of on-screen text has increased 55% to more than 18 million characters per day since March 18, peaking around March 27 and continuing through present, as CNN airs live infection and death counts for nearly a third of its airtime every day.
Since March 9, a growing percentage of CNN's airtime each day comes via Cisco's Webex video conferencing software, totaling as much as three hours a day. Alongside its increasingly remote reporters and guests are fewer speaker changes (in which one speaker yields to another to respond) from around 6,000 to around 5,000 per day, with longer monologues replacing the traditional back-and-forth of host and guest.
As CNN increasingly relies on homebound guests and personalities, bookcases have become a familiar sight since late March, especially as a backdrop, while buzz cut hairstyles have steadily increased since early April as a quarantined public apparently tries its hand at home haircutting.
Imagery of crowds have largely faded away since mid-March, as the rallies and protests of the 2020 presidential race all but disappeared in early March (only to stage a comeback , of sorts, since April 18 as reopening protests have taken place across the country).
Finally, who is telling the COVID-19 story on CNN? Chyron mentions (typically used to display the name and affiliation of guests during their appearances) of ''professor'' have increased nearly three-fold since early March, while ''doctor'' and ''nurse'' have increased since Feb. 26 from a minute or two per day to between an hour and a third of the day, every day, showing just how much the channel is relying on the medical community to inform its viewers and recount their experiences on the frontlines.
RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. His past roles include fellow in residence at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.
General Mike Flynn Breaks His Silence After Government Releases Brady Documents Showing He Committed No Crimes
China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on him, according to three people familiar with the situation. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army
(photo credit: REUTERS)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's health is reportedly in a vegetative state after undergoing a failed cardiovascular procedure earlier this month, according to the medical team treating him.
Amid conflicting reports about Kim's health, Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Gendai reported on Friday that a Chinese medical team member on the mission to North Korea briefly explained the situation to its senior writer, Kondm Daisuke.
The medical expert said during a visit to the countryside earlier this month, Kim clutched his chest and fell to the ground. A doctor accompanying Kim immediately carried out CPR and took him to a nearby hospital for emergency care.
China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on him, according to four people familiar with the situation.
Reuters was unable to immediately determine what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim's health. However Shukan Gendai's report claims they were called to the leader's aid by his accompanying doctor after the incident.
A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, two of the people said. The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighboring North Korea.
The sources declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.
The Liaison Department could not be reached by Reuters for comment late on Friday. China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Friday.
Daily NK, a Seoul-based website, reported earlier this week that Kim was recovering after undergoing a cardiovascular procedure on April 12. It cited one unnamed source in North Korea.
South Korean government officials and a Chinese official with the Liaison Department challenged subsequent reports suggesting that Kim was in grave danger after surgery. South Korean officials said they had detected no signs of unusual activity in North Korea.
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump also downplayed earlier reports that Kim was gravely ill. "I think the report was incorrect," Trump told reporters, but he declined to say if he had been in touch with North Korean officials.
On Friday, a South Korean source told Reuters their intelligence was that Kim was alive and would likely make an appearance soon. The person said he did not have any comment on Kim's current condition or any Chinese involvement.
An official familiar with U.S. intelligence said that Kim was known to have health problems but they had no reason to conclude he was seriously ill or unable eventually to reappear in public.
A U.S. State department spokeswoman had no comment. U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, when asked about Kim's health on Fox News after
Trump spoke said, "I don't have anything I can share with you tonight, but the American people should know we're watching the situation very keenly."
North Korea is one of the world's most isolated and secretive countries, and the health of its leaders is treated as a matter of state security. Reuters has not been able to independently confirm any details on Kim's whereabouts or condition.
North Korea's state media last reported on Kim's whereabouts when he presided over a meeting on April 11. State media did not report that he was in attendance at an event to mark the birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on April 15, an important anniversary in North Korea.
Kim, believed to be 36, has disappeared from coverage in North Korean state media before. In 2014, he vanished for more than a month and North Korean state TV later showed him walking with a limp. Speculation about his health has been fanned by his heavy smoking, apparent weight gain since taking power and family history of cardiovascular problems.
When Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, suffered a stroke in 2008, South Korean media reported at the time that Chinese doctors were involved in his treatment along with French physicians.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping made the first state visit in 14 years by a Chinese leader to North Korea, an impoverished state that depends on Beijing for economic and diplomatic support.
China is North Korea's chief ally and the economic lifeline for a country hard-hit by U.N. sanctions, and has a keen interest in the stability of the country with which it shares a long, porous border.
Kim is a third-generation hereditary leader who came to power after his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011 from a heart attack. He has visited China four times since 2018.
Trump held unprecedented summits with Kim in 2018 and 2019 as part of a bid to persuade him to give up North Korea's nuclear arsenal.
var cont = ` Sign up for The Jerusalem Post Premium Plus for just $5 Upgrade your reading experience with an ad-free environment and exclusive content Join Now >
A female vice-director of HKSTV Hong Kong Satellite Television, a Beijing-backed broadcast network in Hong Kong, claims that Kim Jong-un is dead, citing a ''very solid source.'' TMZ reports the woman is a niece of the Chinese foreign minister.
HKSTV is not owned by the Chinese government, nor is it an official media outlet of the government. But it allowed the Hong Kong-based network to broadcast its programming into mainland China.
The report is not on the HKTV website. It appeared on the Chinese messaging app Weibo. There is a viral image that includes a picture of Kim supposedly lying in a glass coffin, but that appears to be a faked image from 2017.
There are other unconfirmed reports that Kim's heart surgery was so botched that he slipped into a coma and is now in a vegetative state.
The outlet reports -- citing a Chinese medical expert privy to the situation -- that Kim had clutched his chest in early April and fell down while visiting the countryside there. He needed a stent procedure done, but apparently ... it either wasn't done rapidly enough, or it was botched completely by the surgeon -- with some reports saying he had shaky hands.There's a lot of rumors swirling about the guy's condition -- and the fact is ... he hasn't made any major public appearances looking to be okay in several weeks now. About a week or so ago, CNN reported Kim was in "grave danger" after a medical procedure.
How good is this rumor? The fact that the woman's own network isn't reporting the story says something. And you would expect some outward manifestation -- a change in NoKo's military readiness perhaps -- if the rumor were true. When a Soviet leader died, they played funeral dirges on the radio all day before the announcement.
Enough media outlets around the world are running with the story, which makes it news anyway. But it's doubtful the regime is ready to go public with the news that their "dear leader" is dead.
Memphis Meats is a business'...well, I don't think I can call them a business if they aren't selling anything or making any money besides the donations they get from billionaires. So, Memphis Meats is a group of animal rights activists working in a lab trying to grow meat from livestock cells. Their goal is to destroy the livestock industry, and because of that they have become media darlings. They have been in many major national publications and last October they made the cover of Inc. Magazine. The reason for all the hubub is because many people in the National media are idiots who think a world where animals aren't raised for food would be wonderful, goody, goody, gumdrop kind of place.
No matter how giddy these writers get over a world without a livestock industry they still have trouble explaining how it is actually going to work. The funny thing is nobody seems to have tasted this lab grown junk. They did have someone taste a meatball, but according to Newsweek, "The company's first choice for an independent taster canceled at the last minute, so Stephanie, a friend of a friend of an employee, stepped in." Ha, well isn't that convenient. Actually the more I read the more confused I became. I'm not sure if they can prove they've really done anything at all. Its line after line of, if this works out and if they can just figure that out, then maybe they could get this product, that there is actually very little demand for, to market in a few years. It seems like a handful of animal rights activists that are working in a lab on a pipe dream, but the problem is they've just been handed millions of dollars from other activists.
Who They AreThey claim to have a lot of reasons for doing this, but if you look into the people running the operation it is obvious they have one goal and that is to put an end to raising animals for meat. The first words you will read on their website are, ''A world without slaughter.''
Uma Valeti- Founder of Memphis Meats and former cardiologist. His favorite story is telling how as a kid in India he was at a buddies house and saw folks chopping up a goat in the backyard. He was so traumatized that he continued to eat meat for another 10 years. It wasn't until he was in Med. School in the states when he realized what a monster he was for eating meat and then became a vegetarian and animal rights cookoo. My favorite quote from the Inc. article, "If I continued as a cardiologist, maybe I would save 2,000 or 3,000 lives over the next 30 years, but if I focus on this, I have the potential to save billions of human lives and trillions of animal lives." Apparently he thinks eating meat is killing people so he decided to start making meat that vegans can eat? To save lives?
Nicholas Genovese- Co-Founder sponsored by PETA. That's all you really need to know to understand this guy. The organization that compares chicken farms to concentration camps and livestock producers to Nazis gave this guy a three year fellowship.
The InvestorsWhy would smart people with an interest in making money invest in this Memphis Garbage? That's what I was wondering, but the truth is, they don't see it as an investment, they see it as a donation. One of the biggest backers and cheerleaders of the whole thing is of course PETA, but the lab meat people try to distance themselves from that fact, since PETA is known worldwide as being a bunch of nut bags. They would much rather talk about these guys.
Bill Gates- Huge nerd, started Microsoft. He also once wrote on Facebook, ''In my late twenties I went vegetarian. It didn't stick. But I have learned a lot about whether eating meat will wreck the planet.'' Makes you wonder if the guy who tried to be a vegetarian in the 70's, long before animals were seen as a threat to the environment, has any biases towards meat when it comes to its effect on the planet?
Richard Branson- Founded the Virgin Group which owns over 400 companies. One of those companies is Virgin Atlantic Airlines. He lives on his own private island where he is completely detached from the real world. Although he's not vegan or vegetarian he has, or at least claims to have given up beef because of its environmental impact. Just so we're clear, the guy who lives in a giant mansion on his own island and owns an airline is concerned about the carbon footprint of beef.
Jack Welch- This one had me scratching my head for a second. Jack made his money as the CEO of GE when the company grew like a weed in the 80s and 90s. He's a hardline free market capitalist. He's openly questioned the idea of man made global warming. He does not seem like the type of guy that would be handing out money to animal rights nuts, but upon closer examination you'll find that Jack's wife Suzy has removed his balls and got a hold of his checkbook. I'm pretty sure she was the one behind this donation.
Suzy Welch- Suzy was a reporter for the Harvard Business Review when she went to interview Jack Welch. She then grabbed on to his filthy rich coat tails and never let go. She's written books with him and news articles, they even had a TV show together for a short time. She describes herself as a Veganista and is on the board of directors for the Humane Society of the U.S. The HSUS is another organization dedicated to destroying the livestock industry.
Cargill- Ag Industry giant. These sons a bitches. They recently sold their cattle feedlots, and invested in Memphis Meats. It seems that they are positioning themselves to go all in on Lab meat immediately, even though it doesn't exist. They claim to be the, ''the largest producer of ground beef anywhere'' and now they've invested in "a world without slaughter?" I think sometimes a stuffed suit shows up at a large corporation and just starts making bonehead decisions and saying bonehead things. That stuffed suit is Sonya Roberts who apparently was in charge of the investment and said this about it in the Wall Street Journal, ''For people who want a product from an animal welfare perspective, we want this to be there for them.'' What the hell! You are part of a company that just a few months ago raised cattle and cared for their welfare! It seems Cargill now has more in common with her new partner from PETA than she does with every single Farmer and Rancher in America that depends on her corporation to stand up for them.
World Without Livestock?The news articles that have come out about Memphis Meats act as if the second their product hits the shelves every cow in the country will just disappear. None of them actually write what would happen to agriculture if Memphis Meats and other lab grown meat companies are successful in getting meat eaters to buy their product instead of actual beef. What would happen is the demand/price for meat would go down and livestock producers would reduce their numbers or go out of business. This would make the demand/price for grains that are used for feed go down and grain farmers would raise other grains or produce that would over supply those markets and agriculture as a whole would suffer greatly.
The reason they don't report on what would happen to the farmers and ranchers is simple, they don't give a damn. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be a farmer or rancher working your ass off to feed the people of this country and somebody comes along that wants to destroy your business and the national media falls all over themselves in excitement? And then one of the biggest companies in agriculture, Cargill, jumps right into the pep rally and writes these assholes a check? What a bunch of bullshit!
Will it Happen?Truth is I don't understand any of this. I don't know if they will get a product on the shelves or if anyone will buy it. After reading all I could find, I don't think any of them know either. I do know one thing for sure, people will always raise cattle for beef. If they have to do it for less, they will figure out how. Always have, always will. How do I know it? I know something that none of the other writers or investors promoting this know. I know cattle people. I know that raising cattle is not a business. It's not about meat, its about life. Its about living and breathing. It cannot be put into words. You cannot create it in a lab. It has come from generation after generation after generation of men and women who love working and caring for the land and the animals. They don't do it for money. They do it because it is deep in their bones, it is in their blood and it pours through their veins. They do it because they watched their parents do it and their grandparents and they listened to stories of how they did it in the old days and they want nothing more in the world than to be a part of that. They have weathered droughts, blizzards, fires, floods and anything else that has ever been thrown at them. They will continue because that is what they do. It is their life and it will continue and there is no one and no thing that is ever going to stop it, not Memphis meats, not Bill Gates, nobody.
Update 1/29/2018: This morning it was announced that Tyson Foods has also announced an investment in Memphis Meats.
Update 2/5/2018: Click here for the complete story of how the partnership of Cargill, Tyson and Memphis Meats came about. Tyson Foods Joins Cargill in Turning Their Backs on Farmers and Ranchers.
The following video is not a paid for ad. It is the best description of everything the people at Memphis Meats and all their investors want to put an end to.
Texas Accuses US Largest Egg Producer of Price Gouging '' NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Texas' attorney general has accused the nation's largest egg producer of price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.
A lawsuit filed Thursday by Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) alleges that Cal-Maine Foods raised generic eggs price by 300% even though the pandemic hasn't disrupted its supply chain, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Texas is seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
Texas NewsNews from around the state of Texas.
Cal-Maine denies the allegations, saying its prices are based on independent market quotes.
"We have been consistent in our pricing practices whether we sell at a profit or at a loss," a spokesman said in an email.
The Mississippi-based company has 42 egg-producing facilities in 15 states, mostly in the South.
After Gov. Greg Abbott's state of emergency declaration in March, Texas residents scrambled to stock up on groceries and supplies.
Eggs, among other staples, were in such high demand that many stores imposed limits on how many each customer could buy.
Cal-Maine's egg prices jumped from about $1 per dozen to as high as $3.44, according to Paxton's lawsuit. That created a huge profit potential for a company controlling nearly 20% of the nation's egg sales, the suit alleges.
"It is simply charging more because it can," the lawsuit states. "Or, more specifically, because the pandemic caused market demand to jump."
Texas' penalty for price gouging is a fine of up to $10,000 per violation with another penalty of up to $250,000 if the affected consumers are elderly.
Last month, Paxton sued a Houston-based company for allegedly illegally inflating prices for masks and soap.
The Agribusiness Model Is Failing | New Eastern Outlook
The Agribusiness Model Is Failing P 20.04.2020 U F. William Engdahl
Over the past decades the organization of the entire world food supply from farm to consumers has been reorganized into a globalized distribution known as agribusiness. With most of the world in lockdown over the fears of spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, that global food supply chain is in danger of catastrophic breakdown. The consequences of that would dwarf deaths by coronavirus by orders of magnitude. Yet governments seem oblivious.
The imposition of unprecedented mass quarantine, school and restaurant closings, factory closings across most of the world is putting the focus on the alarming vulnerability of what is a global food supply chain to severe breakdown. Before the lockdown an estimated 60% of all food consumed in the United States today was consumed outside the home. That includes in restaurants, fast food places, schools, in university cafeterias, company cafeterias and the like. That has now been all but shut since March, creating huge disruptions to what had been a well-organized supply chain delivery. Large restaurants or company cafeterias receive supplies of everything from butter to meat in entirely different volumes and packing than a retail supermarket. A major vulnerability exists in the mammoth agribusiness concentrations known as CAFOs or Concentrated Agriculture Feeding Organizations.
CAFOs At Risk
On April 12, one of the largest pork processing plants in the USA, Smithfield Foods, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, announced it would close indefinitely after several hundred of its 3,700 employees tested positive for coronavirus, COVID-19. The closing of that one plant will impact some 5% of US pork supply. Smithfields Foods is one of the world's largest agribusiness concentrations.
In 2018, Smithfields, the world's largest pork producer, was forced to pay almost half a billion dollars in its Tar Heel, North Carolina plant for massive and unreasonable pollution. That one plant, the world's largest processing plant, slaughters some 32,000 pigs daily. The animal fecal waste, mixed with massive doses of antibiotics to control infections, was cause of the lawsuit.
Smithfields Foods has facilities in Mexico, Poland, Romania, Germany, and the United Kingdom, mostly countries where regulations are lax. And the Virginia-based group today is owned by China. In 2013 the largest meat producer in China, WH Group of Luohe, Henan, purchased Smithfield Foods for $4.72 billion. That made the Chinese company one of the largest foreign landowners in the United States and owner of the largest pork supplier in the USA. Given that China suffered a devastating loss of its pig population in 2019 from African Swine Fever by as much as 50%, today there are huge competing demands on the pork production from Smithfields.
The COVID testing at the South Dakota plant is just the tip of a very precarious iceberg of infections and sickness, not only coronavirus strains, that is endemic to the huge concentration of agribusiness in North America and globally.
Another giant meat processing conglomerate, Tyson Foods, on April 6 was forced to shut its plant in Waterloo Iowa after death of two workers tested positive for coronavirus. On April 17 after four workers at a Tysons plant in Camilla, Georgia, died after being tested positive for COVID-19, pressure has been building for the company to close that plant as well. To date the company says it will do temperature testing and require face masks in the densely-crowded, low pay plant. The trade union is asking 14-day quarantine paid sick leave for workers tested positive, so far without success. There is no evidence of detailed examination into whether these workers died of co-morbitity from other infections and happened also to test coronavirus positive.
Tyson Foods, an Arkansas company, whose then head, Don Tyson, was instrumental in Clinton's 1992 presidential victory, is the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, with sales of $46 billion in 2019. Tyson Foods is a major meat supplier to Wal-Mart, the huge Arkansas retail giant. It also supplies fast food chains such as KFC. Since an agreement in December, 2019, Tysons also exports significant volumes of chicken parts and pork to China to help fill the lack of pigmeat protein there, in addition to owning major poultry facilities in China. Reportedly, workers, typically low-paid, work elbow to elbow with no access to masks.
Even without coronavirus fears, the CAFO plants are rife with sickness and toxins. The size of the company's facilities is staggering. One Tyson Foods facility in Nebraska produces enough meat products every day to feed 18 million people. Tyson, one corporation, controls roughly 26 percent of US beef production.
On April 13 JBS USA Holdings was also forced to close its main US facility in Greeley, Colo., for a deep cleaning, and all of its workers will be tested before they can return for their jobs after major numbers of coronavirus positive cases were tested there after two workers, one 78 years old, died. JBS USA is a subsidiary of JBS S.A., a Brazilian company that is the world's largest processor of fresh beef, with more than US$50 billion in annual sales. The subsidiary was created when JBS entered the U.S. market in 2007 with its purchase of Swift & Company. JBS USA controls some 20 percent of US beef production.
The third largest US meat processor, Cargill, has cut half its workers at their Fort Morgan Colorado meatpacking plant as multiple positive coronavirus tests emerged. In Canada, Cargill, has tested 358 coronavirus positives at its major Alberta meat-packing plant. The food-workers' union there is calling for the plant to be closed for two weeks to develop a better health strategy, a plea so far ignored by Cargill. At the same time the company laid off 1,000 of its 2,000 workers at that plant, refusing to give details. The plant, one of two beef suppliers to McDonalds Canada, processes thousands of cattle daily. Cargill today controls about 22 percent of the US domestic meat market.
These three giant corporate conglomerates, then, control more than two thirds of the total meat and poultry protein supply of the United States and additionally supply major exports to the rest of the world. That is a concentration which is alarmingly dangerous as we are beginning to see. Whatever coronavirus test results, they are huge cesspools of toxins that workers are exposed to. Covid-19 tests would indicate positive for such toxic infections as well as they do not directly test presence of any virus, merely of antibodies claimed to indicate COVID-19.
The Agribusiness Model
This unhealthy degree of concentration was not always so. It began as a strategic project of Nelson Rockefeller and the Rockefeller Foundation after World War II. The idea was to create a corporate strictly-for-profit vertical integration and cartelization of the food chain as John D. Rockefeller had done with Standard Oil and petroleum. Rockefeller money funded two Harvard Business School professors. John H. Davis, former Assistant Agriculture Secretary under Eisenhower, and Ray Goldberg, both at Harvard Business School got financing from Rockefellers to develop what they named ''agribusiness.'' In a 1956 Harvard Business Review article, Davis wrote that ''the only way to solve the so-called farm problem once and for all, and avoid cumbersome government programs, is to progress from agriculture to agribusiness.'' iv
The Harvard group was part of a Rockefeller Foundation four-year project in cooperation with economist Wassily Leontieff called ''Economic Research Project on the Structure of the American Economy.'' Ray Goldberg, an ardent proponent of GMO crops, later referred to their Harvard agribusiness project as, ''changing our global economy and society more dramatically than any other single event in the history of mankind.'' v Unfortunately, he may have been not all wrong.
In fact what it has done is to put control of our food into a tiny handful of global private conglomerates in which the traditional family farmer has all but become a contract wage employee or bankrupted entirely. In the USA today some industrial cattle feedlots hold up to 200,000 cattle at a time driven by one thing, and one thing only, and that is economic efficiency. According to USDA statistics, the number of cow/calf ranch operations in the US has dropped from 1.6 million in 1980 to less than 950,000 today. Similarly, the number of small farmer/feeders '' those who fatten the cattle in preparation for eventual slaughter '' has declined by 38,000. Today fewer than 2,000 commercial feeders finish 87 percent of the cattle grown in the United States.
Food production, like electronics, has become global, as cheap foods are mass packaged and shipped worldwide. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russian shops were flooded with Western agribusiness brand products from Nestle, Kelloggs, Kraft and the like. Domestic farm production collapsed. Much the same has taken place from India to Africa to South America as cheaper multinational products drive out local farmers. China before the current crisis imported 60% of its soybeans from US-controlled grain companies such as Cargill or ADM.
The system is essentially one in which farming has transformed to become factories to produce protein. It takes GMO corn and GMO soybeans to feed the animal, add vitamins and antibiotics in massive amounts to maximize weight gain before slaughter. The vertical integration of our food supply chain under globalization of the past decades has created an alarming vulnerability to precisely the kind of crisis we now have. During all past food emergencies production was local and regional and decentralized such that a breakdown in one or several centers did not threaten the global supply chain. Not today. The fact that today the United States is far the world's largest food exporter reveals how vulnerable the world food supply has become. Coronavirus may have only put the spotlight on this dangerous problem. To correct it will take years and the will to take such measures as countries like Russia have been forced to do in response to economic sanctions.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook.''
VIDEO - Watch CNBC's full interview with House speaker Nancy Pelosi on coronavirus stimulus bill
News TipsGot a confidential news tip? We want to hear from you.
Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox
Data is a real-time snapshot *Data is delayed at least 15 minutes. Global Business and Financial News, Stock Quotes, and Market Data and Analysis.
MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace suggested on Thursday that there was a "silver lining" in the devastation the country has faced from the coronavirus outbreak, which is that it will damage President Trump.
"There is something both tragic, and pathetic, and ironic about the fact that it took a, you know, color-blind, gender-blind, you know, state-line-blind virus to sort of have all of the president's sins from his first three years catch up with him," Wallace began during a panel discussion. "You can't stand there and lie. You can't contradict your scientists because they're the ones that stand at 66 and 68 percent public trust, not you. He's down at 38 percent. Pence is lower than him."
She continued, "I mean, he needs those people whether he likes what they say or not and I wonder what you think about whether or not there's some silver lining there, that some of the things that, that we've been talking about for three years may be finally catching up with him?"
TRUMP LASHES OUT AT WASHINGTON POST'S PHILIP RUCKER AT BRIEFING: 'TOTAL FAKER'
Ron Klain, the former Ebola czar under President Obama and a Biden loyalist, responded by saying a leader would "tell the American people the truth," touting Obama's honesty to the country of the "bad news" that was ahead during the Ebola outbreak.
"When President Trump stands up yesterday and says 'There will not be a second wave,' he is denying the inevitable," Klain explained. "If you look at the history of epidemics, there's always a second wave and a third wave. The idea that there's a smooth curve up and a smooth curve down is wrong.
CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE
He later added, "And so when the disease comes back this fall, will President Trump try to tell us again, 'No one saw it coming, who could have possibly foreseen that?' That argument, which is a false argument now, is going to look like a ridiculous argument in the fall when he stood in the briefing room and tried to spar with his own health officials about the scientific indefinability that this virus will be back."
VIDEO - Dr.Erickson COVID-19 briefing questioning quarantine measures and fear narrative - YouTube
@CompoundBoss Leave 'em too it, they'll never win with these attidudes, but I'm sure they know that and are playing a longer game
VIDEO-''ðºð¸Steveðºð¸ðºð¸America Firstðºð¸ð®ð¹MAGAðºð¸KAG on Twitter: "Illinois' Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says people are listed as a Coronavirus death even if they died of alternative causes. They are Cooking the Bo
Log in Sign up ''ðºð¸Steveðºð¸ðºð¸America Firstðºð¸ð®ð¹MAGAðºð¸KAG @ SJPFISH Illinois' Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says people are listed as a Coronavirus death even if they died of alternative causes.They are Cooking the Books !Why doesn't Pelosi make a committee to investigate this? Because Pelosi is as Useless as Tits on A Bull ! ð
@SJPFISH @onebigbeer Illinois will list every death as COVID to get the $$
View conversation · Captain John Smith @ JohnSim22824256
8h Replying to
@SJPFISH Agreed . To get funding anyone that dies had Corona virus. Furthermore This action of implanting micro chips into our body must be resisted. Only with persons consent and No repercussions!
View conversation · Enter a topic, @name, or fullname
Settings Help Back to top ·
Turn images off
VIDEO-Tanner Kahler on Twitter: "Incredible view from @WISN12News News Chopper 12 over Madison this afternoon showing the ''stay home'' protest against @GovEvers order. That is a lot of people. Our crew on the ground reports some people are carrying lon
4 others The problem the preppers have is that this isn't the apocalypse they wanted. It didn't let them be feudal lords with power to set up fiefdoms based on their control of limited resources. Who lives who dies etc., and they just can't handle it
View conversation · Rodin @ Rodin451
Apr 24 Replying to
@tannerkahler @Carbongate and
4 others They should arrest the governor for violation of the US Constitution.
View conversation · Raised by Wolves @ laramiehood
Apr 24 Replying to
@Rodin451 @tannerkahler and
5 others The most disturbing thing for me is that you have taken the name of a cultural giant and grafted it to your lackluster, narrow minded account. Please cease and desist using geniuses as your moniker.
View conversation ·
VIDEO-Kim Jong-Un's health remains unclear despite reports - YouTube
Left-wing activists made multiple false and misleading claims on Thursday following President Donald Trump's White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in which the president commented on new scientific findings from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The activists falsely claimed that Trump ''urged Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant'' and ''told people to drink bleach.''
To understand Trump's remarks, it's important to first understand the full context of what was said at the press briefing.
Bill Bryan, Under Secretary for Science and Technology at DHS, said at the press briefing, ''Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air. We've seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.''
Bryan talked about the half-life of the coronavirus on surfaces like door handles and stainless steel surfaces, saying that when they ''inject'' UV rays into the mix along with high temperatures and increased humidity that the virus dies quickly.
''The virus does not survive as well in droplets of saliva, and that's important because a lot of testing being done is not necessarily being done, number one, with the COVID-19 virus and number two, in saliva or respiratory fluids,'' Bryan continued. ''And thirdly, the virus dies the quickest in the presence of direct sunlight under these conditions.''
Half-life of SARS-CoV-2 in saliva droplets:
Virus does not last long in high temperature, humidity & sunlight. pic.twitter.com/etTru48iTE
'-- Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) April 23, 2020
Bryan continued by noting that DHS also tested if certain types of disinfectant could kill the coronavirus.
''We've tested bleach, we've tested isopropyl alcohol on the virus, specifically in saliva or in respiratory fluids, and I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes,'' Bryan said. ''Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds, and that's with no manipulation, no rubbing. Just bring it on and leaving it go. You rub it and it goes away even faster.''
Bryan added, ''We're also looking at other disinfectants, specifically looking at the COVID-19 virus in saliva.''
Immediately following these remarks, Trump said:
So, I'm going to ask Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of if you're totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing when we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that too. Sounds interesting. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that, so that you're going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we'll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That's pretty powerful.
A few moments later, ABC News reporter Jon Karl asked Bryan, ''The president mentioned the idea of a cleaner, bleach and isopropyl alcohol emerging. There's no scenario where that could be injected into a person, is there?''
''No, I'm here to talk about the finds that we had in the study,'' Bryan responded. ''We don't do that within that lab at our labs.''
Trump then clarified his remarks: ''It wouldn't be through injections, you're talking about almost a cleaning and sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't work, but it certainly has a big affect if it's on a stationary object.''
Trump later raised the possibility of whether UV rays could kill the coronavirus if it was on a person's skin, in particular if it were on their hands.
''If they're outside, right, and their hands are exposed to the sun, will that kill it as though it were a piece of metal or something else?'' Trump asked.
''I don't want to say it will at the same rate because it's a non-porous surface, but what we do know is that we looked at the worst case scenario and the virus lives longer on non-porous surfaces,'' Bryan responded. ''So porous surfaces, it doesn't live quite as long, so in theory what you said is correct.''
Left-wing activist Chris D. Jackson wrote that Trump had ''urged Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant.''
Tonight the far left seems more upset about a report suggesting a former Treasury Secretary is advising @JoeBiden on economic policy than the fact that @realDonaldTrump urged Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant.
This is our political reality in a nutshell.
'-- Chris D. Jackson (@ChrisDJackson) April 24, 2020
Jake Maccoby, a former speech writer for the Obama Justice Department, wrote on Twitter that Trump had ''told people to drink bleach.''
Trump downplayed the virus then called for rebellion then told people to drink bleach, maybe it's time to stop taking his press conferences live
'-- Jake Maccoby (@jdmaccoby) April 23, 2020
Others have repeated the false claims.
The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media's rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a subscriber .
VIDEO-world war three on Twitter: "@Austin_Police @shroyers_beard Time to protest this horrific murder by Austin Police!!!!! @true_pundit @gregreese @MayorAdler" / Twitter
Hmmm. So the suspect got back in the car and drove off. No statement as to the reason why officers opened fire twice? Why did they fire on the suspect car? Suspect was hit in the abdomen and in the head!!!! What is wrong with this statement?
@shroyers_beard View conversation ·
VIDEO-Gary Faust on Twitter: "Grainy video, but protestors in Austin, Texas have gathered at the scene of yesterday's officer-involved shooting in East Austin. They are chanting ''Fuck the Police'' with a sign saying @Austin_Police ''murdered Mike Ra
Crunched negotiations were shelved once again after just four hours with EU Council President Charles Michel unable to corral the bloc's 27 heads of governments. European sources have warned a deal is unlikely while leaders are forced to hold talks over the EU's recovery strategy via video link. Despite warnings of impending financial chaos, officials believe it will take a face-to-face meeting before genuine progress can be made.
One senior EU official said: ''These are huge negotiations, unprecedented for decades and it is impossible to do by video conference. European compromises need eyeball-to-eyeball contact.
''For an end game to this, a physical meeting will be needed between leaders this summer.''
Eurocrats working behind the scenes are pushing towards a deal finally being stuck in June or July.
Meanwhile, Mr Michel has called another European Council summit on May 6, the fifth of its kind, again via internet video conference.
EU leaders fail to agree rescue fund during video conference (Image: GETTY)
EU presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel during the talks (Image: TWITTER/CHARLES MICHEL)
Today's negotiations saw plans to create a coronavirus fund to share the debt burden of the economic recovery amongst member states.
Instead, EU leaders are willing to look at the possibility of using the bloc's next seven-year budget to distribute grants and loans to needy capitals.
But EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen played down the possibility of a future row over the concept.
''I am convinced there is only one instrument that can deliver the magnate of this recovery, and that is the European budget,'' she said.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Image: EbS)
''This is about protecting the integrity of our single market and Union. If we succeed, then the investment will have been worth every cent we spend.''
She added: ''Of course, it is necessary to find the right balance between grants and loans.''
During the short discussion, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte warned of the political cost of failing to reach a solution.
Mr Michel said: ''It's totally right that there is a real sense of urgency, and it's important to work very hard and take decisions.''
MUST READ: Too late! ECB chief berates EU leaders over coronavirus response
EU Council President Charles Michel (Image: EbS)
European leaders were accused of acting too little, too late by the head of the European Central Bank.
Christine Lagarde said the EU's economy could shrink up to 15 percent as a result of slow decision-making while leaders squabble over how best to respond to the crisis.
They were told the EU's GDP could slump between nine and 15 percent depending on leaders' decisions, Brussels sources claimed.
Prime ministers and presidents across the continent have been forced to shut down large swathes of their economies to halt the spread of coronavirus.
DON'T MISS Eurozone on brink: Coronavirus a huge problem, says legal expert [ANALYSIS] EU could take MONTHS to come up with coronavirus plan to save bloc [INSIGHT] Crippling economic impact of Italy leaving bloc revealed [FORECAST]
Their efforts to protect public health, however, has sent the EU hurtling towards its worst recession in living memory.
With the eurozone in danger, leaders have failed to reach an agreement on how best to fund the recovery process, which is likely to run into the trillions of euros.
Mrs von der Leyen has proposed raising '¬2 trillion by using the budget and a new financial mechanism to raise the cash.
Her plan would see the multi-annual financial framework topped up by a series of new financing mechanisms that would be established at a later date.
''All told, the new proposals will be able to generate at least 2000 billion of investment and expenditure; heavily front-loaded and geared at recovery and resilience,'' an internal dossier, seen by Express.co.uk, said.
Under Mrs von der Leyen's plans, the EU would incorporate a '¬300 billion recovery fund into the 2021-2027 budget and then borrow a further '¬320 billion.
The Commission wants to use at least half of the funds to offer loans to member states while the remaining cash will be stored inside the budget to fund annual interest bills of around '¬500 million.
Eurocrats also want to ''front load'' a number of budget components to make the majority of the funds available within at least two years.
At least '¬50 billion from the bloc's cohesion funds have been ring-fenced for that period.
VIDEO-Talia on Twitter: "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA STRIKES AGAIN! VIRGINIA! A protester, Jess Lynne Black, catches a STAGED nurse, cameramen, and car that just so happens to be at a stop light with an American flag with TRUMP splashed across it.. #agenda They a
THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA STRIKES AGAIN! VIRGINIA! A protester, Jess Lynne Black, catches a STAGED nurse, cameramen, and car that just so happens to be at a stop light with an American flag with TRUMP splashed across it..
#agenda They are LYING TO YOU!
VIDEO-Showdown looms between Silicon Valley, U.S. states over contact tracing apps
SAN FRANCISCO - U.S. states promoting apps that could prove essential to ending the coronavirus lockdown may be headed for a showdown with the two Silicon Valley companies that control key software on 99 percent of smartphones over the collection of sensitive GPS location data.
Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google plan to release technology jointly in the coming weeks for digital contact tracing through Bluetooth sensors on phones. Public health authorities have determined that the technology is crucial to apps that will alert people when they have been close to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
For contact tracing apps to work, however, millions of people must be willing to use them without fear their locations and other personal data is being tracked and stored.
Google and Apple have sought to build public trust by emphasizing that the changes they are making to Bluetooth to allow the tracing apps to work will not tap phones' GPS sensors, which privacy activists see as too intrusive.
But the states pioneering the apps - North and South Dakota, and Utah - say allowing public health authorities to use GPS in tandem with Bluetooth is key to making the system viable.
RelatedThe Bluetooth technology will enable users to be notified if they crossed paths with a coronavirus carrier, but will not specify where the encounter happened, information crucial to authorities who want to identify hotspots for virus transmission and move fast to stop outbreaks.
Apple and Google said on Friday that they still have not decided how to proceed.
"I would encourage them to go for the 'and' and not the 'or' solution," North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said of Apple and Google in an interview late Thursday.
"During this new normal, there is a place for having solutions that protect privacy and enable more efficient contact tracing," said Burgum, himself a former software executive who sold a company to Microsoft Corp for more than $1 billion in 2001.
Anonymized GPS location data is already playing a key role in an early version of Care19, an app that about 40,000 people have signed up for in North and South Dakota.
Authorities currently ask Care19 users to give them permission for timestamped GPS location data, which allows officials to manually call places where users could have spread the virus and ask for names and numbers of others who may have been there at the same time.
Travelers on their smartphones at Grand Central Terminal in New York on March 16, 2020. John Minchillo / AP fileThis laborious process will no longer be necessary with the Bluetooth technology coming from Apple and Google, which will automatically catalog encounters between users and enable carriers to anonymously convey to others potentially infected that they should get tested. Without the changes the two companies are working on, iPhone users would have to keep their phone unlocked and app open at all times.
Utah's Healthy Together contact tracing app, which launched on Wednesday, for now is using a workaround that only catalogs some encounters. Healthy Together also collects location data and its developers hope Apple and Google do not force them to drop that functionality to adopt the more comprehensive Bluetooth technology.
"What Utah wanted to understand is not just who is spreading [the virus] to whom but also location zones," said Jared Allgood, chief strategy officer for Twenty, the startup which developed Utah's app for an initial $1.75 million.
GPS location data allows authorities to decide which businesses may need to be closed because the virus is spreading there, and prioritize which contacts of diagnosed patients to test.
"Is it happening in a park, a Costco or a Walmart? They are trying to make policy decisions that move our economy from a broad-based 'everything is shut down' to a more targeted approach," Allgood said in an interview on Friday.
RelatedPrivacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data are exposed.
But Tim Brookins, a principal engineer at Microsoft who previously worked for Burgum and developed Care19 independently of his employer, said location data is stored on a Microsoft Azure server that he rents and to which only he and one other person have the keys. North Dakota is paying about $9,000 to license Care19 for six months, he said.
Allgood said the Utah app asks users for their phone number, but location data is stored anonymously in a server rented from Amazon Web Services.
"We don't see a reason why Apple or Google would not allow us to participate in their tools," said Diesel Peltz, Twenty's CEO.
Brookins and Burgum expressed confidence the two tech giants would allow for location data collection after seeing the safeguards Care19 has put in place, including not asking for users' names, phone numbers or email addresses.
"Some people are completely opposed to an intrusion on privacy but there's a younger generation sharing their location on dozens of apps," Burgum said.
"There may be a set of people highly social, young and going out to bars who may see this tool as fantastic." (Reporting by Paresh Dave and Stephen Nellis Editing by Sonya Hepinstall )
VIDEO-Cuomo: The Coronavirus That Came To New York "Did Not Come From China, It Came From Europe" | Video | RealClearPolitics
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) argued the coronavirus that hit New York state did not come from China but Europe, probably Italy he said. At his Friday coronavirus press briefing, Cuomo said President Trump's China travel ban was too late and the horse had long left the barn."Researchers now find and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February and there was an outbreak, massive outbreak in Italy in February," Cuomo said. "Researchers now say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the state of New York and the Coronavirus flu virus that came to New York, did not come from China. It came from Europe.""When you look at the number of flights that came from Europe to New York, the New York metropolitan area, New York and New Jersey during January, February, up to the close down, 13,000 flights bringing 2.2 million people," he said. "All right. So November, December you have the outbreak in China. Everybody knows.""We acted two months after the China outbreak," the governor said. "When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China waiting for us to act two months later? We all talk about the global economy and how fast people move and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China waiting for us to act? The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved."
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: Last November, December, we knew that China had a virus outbreak. You could read about it in the newspapers, right? Everybody knew. January 26, we know we had the first confirmed case in Seattle, Washington, and California. February 2nd, the president ordered a travel ban from China. March 1st we have the first confirmed case in the state of New York. By March 19th, New York state is totally closed down. No state moved faster from first case to close down then the state of New York.March 16th we have a full travel ban from Europe. Researchers now find and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February and there was an outbreak, massive outbreak in Italy in February. Researchers now say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the state of New York and the Coronavirus flu virus that came to New York, did not come from China. It came from Europe.When you look at the number of flights that came from Europe to New York, the New York metropolitan area, New York and New Jersey during January, February, up to the close down, 13,000 flights bringing 2.2 million people. All right. So November, December you have the outbreak in China. Everybody knows.January, February, flights are coming from Europe. People are also coming from China in January, until the China closed down and the flights continue to come from Europe until the Europe shutdown. 2.2 million people come to New York and come to New Jersey.We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China waiting for us to act two months later? We all talk about the global economy and how fast people move and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China waiting for us to act? The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved.A researcher now says knowing the number of flights coming into New York from Italy, it was like watching a horrible train wreck in slow motion. Those are the flights that were coming from Italy and from Europe, January and February. We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right. Even in retrospect, it was right, but we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban. That's what the researchers are now saying with 28,000 cases in the United States saying, with 28,000 cases in the United States, 10,000 in New York. So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. When you see in November and December an outbreak in China, just assume the next day it's in the United States. When they say it's in China, just assume that virus got on a plane that night and flew to New York, or flew to Newark Airport, and it's now in New York. That has to be the operating mentality, because you don't know that the virus didn't get on a plane. All you need is one person to get on that plane in China and come to New York. The way this virus transfers, that's all you need, and you can't assume two months later the virus is still going to be sitting on a park bench in China waiting for you to get there. That is the lesson, and again, why do we need to learn the lesson? Because they're talking about this happening again with this virus, where it could mutate in China and get on a plane and come right back, or the next virus, or the next pandemic.
VIDEO-Vimeo removes our film "trustWHO" which depicts the hidden practices of the WHO - YouTube
The liberal Trump-hating media, including the Drudge Report, is pushing the nonsense that President Trump proposed injecting Americans with disinfectant.
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday continued to spread the lie about President Trump amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
''The president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch was saying that states should go bankrupt. It's a clear, visible within 24 hours of how the Republicans reject science and reject governance,'' Pelosi said spreading dangerous misinformation.
President Trump on Thursday during his presser was referring to discussions of testing ultraviolet light on patients and possibly using the light inside the body. ''And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it [the virus] out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside, or almost a cleaning, cause you see it gets in the lungs.''
TRENDING: Pelosi Spreads Dangerous Misinformation Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: "The President is Asking People to Inject Lysol Into Their Lungs" (VIDEO)
So Pelosi and the liars in the media once again twisted President Trump words and took him out of context in order to attack him.
While they are mocking Trump for suggesting light therapy, bio-tech firm Aytu BioScience announced they are partnering with the FDA and Cedars-Sinai on a UV light treatment to kill the coronavirus in intubated patients.
By the way, it sure looks like Pelosi is still getting her hair dyed and her face injected with Botox while she tells other women they can't go to hair salons because it's too dangerous.
.@SpeakerPelosi: ''The president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch was saying that states should go bankrupt. It's a clear, visible within 24 hours of how the Republicans reject science and reject governance.'' pic.twitter.com/GmvcCr50nt
'-- CSPAN (@cspan) April 24, 2020
VIDEO-Trump rebuked by doctors after asking if disinfectants can be injected to kill coronavirus in people - The Washington Post
After a presentation Thursday that touched on the disinfectants that can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces and in the air, President Trump pondered whether those chemicals could be used to fight the virus inside the human body.
''I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,'' Trump said during Thursday's coronavirus press briefing. ''And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.''
The question, which Trump offered unprompted, immediately spurred doctors to respond with incredulity and warnings against injecting or otherwise ingesting disinfectants, which are highly toxic.
''My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea,'' Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told The Washington Post. ''This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous.''
Trump's eyebrow-raising query came immediately after William N. Bryan, the acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, gave a presentation on the potential impact of summer heat and humidity, which also included references to tests that showed the effectiveness of different types of disinfectants. He recounted data from recent tests that showed how bleach, alcohol and sunlight could kill the coronavirus on surfaces.
Bryan said bleach killed the virus in about five minutes and isopropyl alcohol killed it in 30 seconds. In tests, sunlight and high temperatures also appeared to shorten the virus's life on surfaces and in the air, Bryan said.
Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.
Trump has previously claimed that the arrival of summer weather will help fight the coronavirus outbreak without resorting to measures that carry significant economic ramifications. The study Bryan presented Thursday appeared to support those claims to some degree, although its results have not been peer-reviewed.
(The Washington Post)White House promotes new lab results suggesting heat and sunlight slow coronavirus
As Bryan left the podium without answering reporters' questions, Trump stepped up to the mic. Before he allowed anyone to ask a question, the president offered an answer to a ''question that, probably, some of you are thinking of if you are totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting.''
That's when he asked about injecting an unspecified disinfectant into the lungs of covid-19 patients. He also raised the possibility of using light to combat the viral infection and suggested consulting medical doctors with these questions.
''So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light '-- and I think you said that hasn't been checked but you're going to test it,'' Trump said to Bryan. ''And then, I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way.''
He continued: ''And I think you said you're going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.''
As the president spoke, one of his top public health experts, Deborah Birx, who serves as the response coordinator for the White House's coronavirus task force, listened in a chair a few feet away from the podium.
Birx did not immediately respond to Trump's remarks about light therapy or disinfectant injections at the coronavirus briefing. Instead, she watched silently from the sidelines, her lips pressed in a tight line as Trump riffed on testing the unproven treatments.
Later in the briefing, Trump turned to Birx and asked if she had any knowledge of heat or light being used as a potential treatment for covid-19.
''Not as a treatment,'' Birx answered from her seat. ''I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond.'' Then Trump started talking again, cutting her answer short.
Other doctors stepped forward after the briefing to challenge the president, calling his comments ''irresponsible,'' ''extremely dangerous'' and ''frightening'' in interviews with The Post as they rushed to warn people of the dire consequences of ingesting caustic chemicals.
''We've heard the president trying to practice medicine for several weeks now, but this is a new low that is outside the realms of common sense or plausibility,'' said Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
''I can understand looking to medicines that might have some effect or some sort of studies in a petri dish showing that they might work on a virus,'' Marino added. ''But talking about putting ultraviolet radiation inside of the human body or putting antiseptic things that are toxic to life inside of living people, it doesn't make any sense anymore.''
And not only were Trump's statements baffling, doctors told The Post that his remarks could pose risks to the lives of those who interpret the words as a suggestion to try the unproven treatments themselves.
''People will do extraordinary things if you give them the idea,'' said Dara Kass, associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
The doctors likened Trump's comments on disinfectants to his past remarks about chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, anti-viral drugs that are used to treat malaria and are being tested to determine whether they might assist in treating covid-19. One recent study found the drugs were linked to higher death rates in coronavirus patients, The Post reported, and other clinical trials are still underway. But Trump had touted the drugs as a ''game changer'' before evidence from early trials had come back, encouraging people to get prescriptions and try the medicines.
How false hope spread about hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19 '-- and the consequences that followed
But Trump's Thursday musings have the potential to cause even greater harm, Kass said to The Post.
''The difference between this and the chloroquine is that somebody could go right away to their pantry and start swallowing bleach. They could go to their medicine cabinet and swallow isopropyl alcohol,'' Kass said. ''A lot of people have that in their homes. There's an immediate opportunity to react.''
People who ingest such chemicals often die, Kass said. Those who survive usually end up with feeding tubes, a result of their mouth and esophagus being eroded by the cleaning agents.
''It's horrific,'' she said.
By late Thursday, social media was flooded with pointed warnings from doctors, begging people not to attempt self-medication amid the pandemic.
On CNN, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said he believes the president's comments reflect a question ''many Americans are asking,'' but cautioned people not to consume disinfectants at home.
''We certainly wouldn't want, as a physician, someone to take matters into their own hands,'' Hahn said. ''I think this is something a patient would want to talk to their physician about, and no, I certainly wouldn't recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant.''
Trump's remarks even prompted the maker of Lysol and Dettol to urge people not to ingest disinfectant as many essential household cleaning products trended on Twitter well into Friday morning.
''We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),'' the Reckitt Benckiser Group said in an email to The Post on Friday. ''With all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.''
Meanwhile, other experts also sought to fact-check Trump's claims about light as a possible treatment.
''No, you cannot inject UV light into your body to cure #COVID19 '-- neither biology or physics work that way,'' tweeted science writer David Robert Grimes, who noted that he earned his PhD in medical ultraviolet radiation.
Still, despite the prolific warnings, doctors told The Post not everyone is going to listen.
''There is an emergency department in America in the week that will probably get a bleach ingestion because of this,'' Kass said. ''We know that because people are scared and vulnerable, and they're not going to think it's that dangerous because they can get it in their house.''
Jennifer Hassan contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Trump suggests 'injection' of disinfectant to beat coronavirus and 'clean' the lungs
President Donald Trump suggested the possibility of an ''injection'' of disinfectant into a person infected with coronavirus as a coronavirus deterrent at the White House daily briefing on Thursday.
Trump made the remark after Bill Bryan, a Department of Homeland Security official who leads the department's Science and Technology division gave a presentation on research his team has conducted that shows the virus does not live as long in warmer and more humid temperatures. Bryan said, ''the virus dies quickest in sunlight," leaving Trump to wonder whether you could bring the light "inside the body."
''So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous '-- whether it's ultraviolet or just a very powerful light '-- and I think you said that hasn't been checked because of the testing," Trump said, speaking to Bryan during the briefing. "And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way and I think you said you're going to test that too."
He added, "I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning. As you see it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
He did not specify the kind of disinfectant.
The president has repeatedly touted unproven treatments during the briefings for COVID-19. For instance, he has touted hydroxychloroquine and as a potential "game changer" in the battle against the coronavirus, but health officials have strongly cautioned against it.
An Arizona man died in late March after ingesting chloroquine phosphate '-- believing it would protect him from becoming infected with the coronavirus. The man's wife told NBC News she'd watched televised briefings during which Trump talked about the potential benefits of chloroquine.
Dr. Rick Bright, a top official at Health and Human Services says he was ousted from his job this week for pushing back on demands that he sign off on chloroquine treatments.
Bryan, under questioning from reporters, later said federal laboratories are not considering such a treatment option. He added that heat and humidity alone wouldn't kill the virus if people don't continue to social distance.
Later asked to clarify, Bryan said this is not the kind of work he does in his lab, before Trump jumped in and added, ''maybe it works, maybe it doesn't work.''
When discussing the possibility of heat killing the virus, the president turned to Dr. Deborha Birx, one of the nation's top doctors, who was seated to the side, if she's ever heard about heat killing the virus in humans.
She said she hasn't heard of this ''as a treatment'' but added that having a fever is what the body does to kill a virus.
Dartunorro Clark Dartunorro Clark is a political reporter for NBC News.
VIDEO-CBS News on Twitter: "Bill Bryan, the DHS science and technology directorate, discusses a federal study indicating that coronavirus is weakened by exposure to sunlight, heat and humidity https://t.co/9T8aUPjUrs https://t.co/ZcQSKM92Jx" / Twitter
@CBSNews Has a reporter asked anyone at that news conference about the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in places like Mumbai, India? Average daily high in that city this week is 33 degrees Celcius, 91 degrees Fahrenheit.
View conversation · Rich Jones @ Joneso1978
1h Replying to
@cbcDougDirks @CBSNews Human body temperature is usually 37 Celsius but that doesn't seem to bother the virus either!
View conversation · Mat Keeling ð¬ð¬ð¨ð® @ keelingover
2h Replying to
@CBSNews But it's not! It's prevalent in Singapore and Australia! Both in their summers/autumns
View conversation · I'm Ron Burgundy? @ randomtask_15
2h Replying to
@CBSNews Plot twist: Global warming saves us all
View conversation · §Å'tt H¸wÄtt @ SHowett_13
2h Replying to
@CBSNews I guess Florida, New Orleans, Atlanta, and SE Asia are arctic climates
@ThePlqn Hmmm...''that'd Gates Foundation has recommended'' is what she started to say, it seems. ð¤--
View conversation · Justin Curley @ justcurl44
Apr 18 Replying to
@ThePlqn @RobertPLewis Truth always comes out by the liars eventually
View conversation · Tim Brock @ TimBroc00028349
Apr 18 Replying to
@ThePlqn watch Cooper's eyes. He's pretty cool, but there's a quick blink right after "Gates".
View conversation · Mike Davis @ mikedkc
Apr 18 Replying to
@ThePlqn @SheriHerman10 This is the enemy. Make no mistake.
View conversation · TrishNelson @ trishie818
Apr 18 Replying to
@ThePlqn @stewonthis1 Media must ask her to clarify
View conversation · Enter a topic, @name, or fullname
Settings Help Back to top ·
Turn images off
VIDEO-Lou Dobbs on Twitter: "Here We go Again: @Jim_Jordan says a newly created select committee to oversee the federal response to the Wuhan virus is just another attempt by the Radical Dems to attack @POTUS. #AmericaFirst #KAG2020 #Dobbs https://t.co/8j
FFS WHEN are we going to ARREST these seditious TRAITORS????? How much of this are we going to tolerate? They have been trying to sabotage the President of the United States for years now! Isn't that a felony anymore?
VIDEO-CSPAN on Twitter: ".@RepAOC @AOC: "It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill...you are not trying fix this bill for mom & pops. We have to fight to fund hospitals. Fighting to fund testing...It is unconscionable."
2 others If you actually watched, you would notice that they are all wearing them until they get up to speak. I imagine they remove them so they can be heard, as it is difficult to speak with a mask on.And then they put them right back on. All of them.Got anything else?
VIDEO-Damon imanið-- on Twitter: "Dr. Carson explains the brain, in a new Joe Biden ad. https://t.co/yhDazIweUl" / Twitter
@damonimani If you happen to tab/click on the retweet button, double check it.Apparently there is a ''bug'' on these kinds of videos that sometimes causes the button to only animate and not actually retweet.
View conversation · SuperZayde @ superzayde
4h Replying to
@damonimani @CarpeDonktum Biden Bingo Brain
bingobaker.com/play/2903201 pic.twitter.com/R3nqM6TFto View conversation · Jan C @ RebelInfidel
4h Replying to
@damonimani @CarpeDonktum That's pretty heartbreaking, actually. He's in steep decline, everybody knows it, yet the Democrats don't mind this humiliating show.
AOC's really on a roll lately. Not only is she telling workers to stay home from their jobs once they're able to return to work '-- and defending that terrible advice with lies '-- but she's still trying to gaslight us about COVID19 relief.
During House debate on another #coronavirus rescue bill, @AOC said, ''It is a joke when Republicans say they have urgency around this bill. The only folks they have urgency around are folks like Ruth's Chris Steak House and Shake Shack'' pic.twitter.com/8baIb1wks6
'-- QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 23, 2020
Rep. @AOC: "If you had urgency, you would legislate like rent was due on May 1st, and make sure that we include rent and mortgage relief for our constituents." pic.twitter.com/lav65l2n0L
'-- The Hill (@thehill) April 23, 2020
.@RepAOC @AOC: "It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill'...you are not trying fix this bill for mom & pops. We have to fight to fund hospitals. Fighting to fund testing'...It is unconscionable."
Full video here: https://t.co/IBennHJzF3 pic.twitter.com/1rx1e16Unr
'-- CSPAN (@cspan) April 23, 2020
Says @AOC: "It is a joke when Republicans say they have urgency around this bill. The only folks they have urgency around are folks like Ruth's Chris steakhouse and Shake Shack.. If you had urgency you would legislate like rent was due on May 1." pic.twitter.com/lA6VBkQqYo
'-- Michael McAuliff (@mmcauliff) April 23, 2020
AOC retweeted all of those, by the way. What she failed to tweet was that she's completely full of it.
Holding her mask during that tantrum is by far the least offensive thing about that display.
"It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill. The only focus they have urgency around are folks like Ruth's Chris Steak House and Shake Shack."
Nancy Pelosi held Americans hostage for 2 weeks to get funding for windmills. pic.twitter.com/lLblFMTojO
'-- Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 23, 2020
Meanwhile, Shake Shack's CEO said he'd be returning the $10 million the company received in PPP loans. Apparently a rich CEO cares more about the people who actually need the money than AOC does.
The legislation includes $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing strategy on a national level'... https://t.co/huAapGboKX
'-- Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) April 23, 2020
AOC can't even turn it off for one damn minute.
aoc just said yesterday people should refuse to go to work https://t.co/cy3Ohsug1g
'-- Ben McDonald (@Bmac0507) April 23, 2020
she is so amazingly consistently wrong on every imaginable point and issue
it truly is an art form
'-- Gianbattista (@gbtiepolo1) April 23, 2020
AOC doesn't give a crap about the people who are hurting. She's just looking for the next opportunity to showcase her dishonest theatrics.
VIDEO-CBS News Celebrates Earth Day By Declaring Humans Aren't Needed | Weasel Zippers