Trump’s Blame the Governors Strategy and Rural Roulette

The other day, I laid out how, even if Trump wants to open the country back up by Easter, at least fifteen governors may prevent him, including OH’s Republican governor Mike DeWine, who in the wake of Trump’s comments tweeted out defending his approach again. The WaPo did a similar piece this morning, confirming that the governors aren’t on board with Trump’s hopes.

That said, it’s clear that Trump plans to pressure governors, not just to do his bidding, but also to demand fealty before he heeds their pleas for help. Ultimately, it may be a bid to blame the upcoming crisis on the governors — disproportionately Democrats — struggling most directly with the crisis.

And that could work.

Though I doubt it, for a number of reasons. As US numbers continue to spike, it’s likely the governors who’ve taken more aggressive stances (with the possible but very notable exception of Andrew Cuomo, largely because of NYC’s density) will be able to show significantly better outcomes than those states that have adopted a hybrid approach, shutting down affected cities but not the entire state, to say nothing of those who were doing nothing (this Politico piece shows what each state has done or, in the case of OK and MS, not done at all).

Right now, almost all the identifiable clusters are in big cities, with both the international travel and density that would lead to early exposure. But some (not all — Detroit is an exception) of those cities actually have relatively low levels of the preexisting conditions that make the population more susceptible to the virus and more likely to have an extreme case if they get it. By contrast, much of America’s more rural areas have a higher instance of those pre-existing conditions. And those rural areas don’t have the hospital beds, much less ICU rooms, to treat seriously ill patients. This map, from an MIT project, shows where current outbreaks are and where particularly vulnerable populations are for the country as a whole.

That means in states where governors have not imposed state-wide stay at home orders, there’s a significant risk that clusters will arise in areas that are less prepared to deal with an outbreak. Effectively, the governors who’ve adopted such an approach are playing “rural roulette,” assuming that a focus on the cities will mitigate the biggest risks, even though the rural areas would be easily overwhelmed even with a smaller number of infections.

And that may have an important dynamic given the election. A number of the key swing states — MN, WI, MI, OH — have instituted full state stay-at-home orders. But many of the rest — PA, FL, NC, CO, GA, TX — have not. And in some of the states where that decision is riskiest — GA, FL, and AZ — there’s a Republican governor adopting those strategies in part to adhere to Trump’s views.

Take Georgia. It has had an outbreak in the more rural southwest part of the state, and municipalities are trying to force Governor Brian Kemp to impose a state-wide shutdown.

But the rest of the state has high incidences of some of the preconditions that make the population particularly susceptible to infection. In other words, while Atlanta has the medical resources (including CDC) to respond to the medical crisis, Georgia is already exhibiting an atypical pattern of rural spread in ways that might make Kemp’s refusal to do a state-wide order particularly costly. (As I was writing this, Kemp announced that schools will remain closed through April 24, which suggests he may be budging on a state-wide approach.)

Then there’s Florida.

Jim here.

As the New York Times notes, the municipalities of Miami and Miami Beach have stay home or shelter in place orders that went into effect this week. Also, Alachua, Leon, Orange and Pinellas Counties have stay home orders. Note that while Orange County holds most of the Orlando metro area, Pinellas is only the St. Petersburg portion of the Tampa Bay region. Tampa is in Hillsborough and the population stays fairly high going north into Pasco and south into Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

A very interesting aspect of the Alachua County stay home order, which went into effect here at 12:01 am Tuesday, is that, as noted in the Gainesville Sun, “Non-medical businesses may only allow one customer inside per 1,000 covered square feet, per an Alachua County emergency order.” Here is the line outside a grocery store Tuesday morning in the Sun’s photo accompanying the article:

As the Tampa Bay Times notes, despite multiple public health authorities pleading for a statewide shutdown, DeSantis has instead been listening almost exclusively to business interests, and their message to him has been exactly the one Fox News and Trump have been flogging:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce have spoken frequently with the governor and his staff, urging him not to take drastic measures that might shut down the state’s economy. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has been asking for ways to help their industries stay afloat.

Their message: don’t let the cure be worse than the disease.

But this is ignored:

Public health experts say that a three-week limit on public movement is required to stop the spread of the virus, and they point to a statistical model that shows that Florida may have only one week to act before hospitals become overwhelmed.

Instead, he hears a Republican telling him just how responsible he is to ignore the public health requests:

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, said DeSantis was under “a tremendous amount of pressure,” but the idea he’s making decisions based on politics — and not public health — was “irresponsible.”

“He’s hearing from a lot of self-interested actors right now who are acting out of self-preservation,” Lee said. “With every executive order, there’s another industry being impacted. Those people are pretty aggressive and pretty vocal, and I think he’s done a pretty good job of ignoring all that.”

What could go wrong?


In Florida, on top of the vacation traffic that DeSantis only belatedly shut down, it has significant numbers of seniors and its rural, more vulnerable communities do not have the beds to treat patients in if an outbreak happens (the gray circles here are senior facilities).

To make things worse, DeSantis is not sharing information about which senior facilities have had positive cases, which is likely to lead to clusters outside of locked down areas that lead to community infection. So on top of the rural/urban mix, DeSantis has the likelihood of a breakout at senior facilities.

It’s not just Republican governors who’ve adopted a hybrid strategy though: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf  locked down PA’s major counties without imposing stay at home in their more rural areas. PA is going to experience the community spread of the Eastern Seaboard; it’s a real question what happens as the virus spreads west from the Philadelphia metro area. Plus, it also has a concentration of senior facilities (the family member I’m most worried about now is stuck in one until April 1 fighting several other preexisting conditions).

In bmaz’s Arizona, something that has the possibility of being worse is happening: Republican Governor Doug Ducey is using his authority to prevent cities from imposing more stringent stay at home orders. Thus far, this order strives only to impose a state-wide standard for what amounts to essential businesses (something that has led to confusion even in states with full state-wide orders). Most of his businesses match those adopted by state-wide orders. His order specifically includes golf courses (but not their restaurant facilities) as essential businesses, which I this is reasonable, in AZ, in the name of exercise; bmaz says that the crowds on urban hiking trails, which are also exempted, are far worse. Ducey’s order could override school closures.

Or, the order as a whole could suggest he’s being pushed closer to where other states are, full stay at home orders.

Arizona faces a particular rural challenge, but one Ducey can’t manage: the Native American reservations, which already have cases and which have a real dearth of health resources. But they’re sovereign.

North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is another person who is having to be pressured to impose a more stringent state-wide stay at home order.

If states can access adequate testing, it’s still unproven whether state-wide or city-by-city orders will be most effective (though the testing is clearly not there yet).

What is clear, however, is that there will be at least as much political pressure on the states that have incomplete stay at home orders as those with statewide orders. And that just happens to include many of the states where November’s election will be decided.

Update: Trump has just sent a letter to governors suggesting the Feds are going to roll out new standards for identifying high and low risk counties, suggesting he wants to adopt the piecemeal shutdowns of the states discussed here. Such a regime will make orders like Doug Ducey and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves’ orders standardizing shut-downs at the state level dangerous in a way they aren’t now, because both cite Trump’s guidelines for protective measures.

127 replies
  1. rosalind says:

    caution: i tried out my county on this map, and it is showing only 8 infections, when current reality is 66 with many many many undiagnosed due to a life care facility staff exposures (they aren’t in the count as they aren’t being tested “not enough tests available”).

    the risk factor of “1” it comes up with is a joke. this map is great in concept, but has no info as to when data was last updated. while hospital bed info, etc is very helpful, i urge people to use caution with the virus infection data.

  2. Vicks says:

    The weather channel app has a Covid-19 page that will open to stats in your county.
    Currently their numbers match the data on our state’s website , which currently matches the CDC’s numbers.
    I think that the information is not synced in real time but collected and updated throughout the day and night by various sites.
    So far it seems my state has the information first.
    Which makes sense.

    • Valley girl says:

      I have finally contained my anger long enough to write a longer comment. Okay, I understand that rural Georgia is not Atlanta. But based on my reading and news following. saying “In other words, while Atlanta has the medical resources (including CDC) to respond to the medical crisis” is flat out wrong.

      All ICU beds in the city of Atlanta are full (Mayor, last eve). The CDC (technically not in Atlanta) couldn’t make a CV test that works. Who is head of the CDC btw? It sure ain’t Anthony Fauci.

      I had kept it together until this afternoon. But this comment sent me over the edge. I am not happy.

      • Valley girl says:

        Okay I’m not happy. Who is? But to assume that ANY city has the medical resources to deal with this… GEEZ.

      • P J Evans says:

        IIRC, the current head of CDC is Redfield. But he’s afraid of Trmp. Messonier should be speaking for them.

      • emptywheel says:

        I didn’t mean to be callous and apologize that it came off as such.

        No city has the resources to deal with this, not NY and not Atlanta. But rural areas have even fewer resources and I think there’s an assumption they somehow don’t interact with the cities at all.

        • Quinn Norton says:

          Hey you misspelled “thank you for the apology, please don’t let it happen again.” I know we’re all tense here, but this is so serious we can’t afford unkindness at a time like this.

        • P J Evans says:

          And the rural hospitals send the difficult stuff to the cities. (My father went first to the local hospital, and when they determined he needed specialist care, he was airlifted 50 miles to the city. That was in a much quieter period.) There are rural areas getting virus cases now – by Easter, they’ll be flooded.

        • Raven Eye says:

          My Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of around 286,000 (ranks #105); covers two counties, and has a population density of 70/sq.mi. The catchment area for the two medical systems is about 3-4 hours drive. And we still fly people to Portland (the other end of I-5) for the serious medical care. That’s why we are cobbling together locally produced medical supplies… which is still a band-aid. And we’re probably lucky. Most of America (in terms of square miles or by the county) doesn’t have the resources that we do.

          The next Congress and (hopefully) the next President will have a lot of work to do.

        • Frank Probst says:

          If you’re dealing with some sort of catastrophic health care problem, the function of the more rural primary care hospitals is to do a basic workup, and if it looks like it’s going to be necessary, they stabilize you to the point that you can be transferred to a larger hospital in a more urban area. If that hospital thinks you need even more sophisticated care, you get transferred to a hospital that’s on the next level of the pyramid. It’s how our primary, secondary, and tertiary care medical setup works. That’s not intended as a diss against the people at the primary care level. In my experience, they diagnose and treat a much broader range of illnesses than any specialist does. They just don’t have the equipment or the additional personnel to handle something as severe as the worst COVID19 cases. (I’m guessing they’re handling a lot of the mild cases already. But since we don’t have a real testing system in place, we don’t know if that’s what’s happening.)

          Occasionally, one of the hospitals in the chain can’t take a patient for some reason (like no available ICU beds), so the patient gets shunted to a different facility. But if NOBODY has any ICU beds, then you have a problem. If it’s an issue of having, say, a ventilator available but not an ICU bed, the patient has to be roomed somewhere that can take care of them until an ICU bed becomes available, even if the situation is less than ideal. Here, it would probably be the hospital’s emergency room. That, in turn, pulls resources away from other patients in the ER. And you can see how the dominoes start to fall as more and more resources get taken up.

          Atlanta is at the point where the whole system can collapse in a number of different ways. It might not even have anything to do with COVID19. It could be something like, say, a bus crash. In NYC, that could probably still be handled, because you can spread the patients out to a lot of different hospitals, or even send them to another nearby city. Atlanta has less elasticity in its system, so it’s not going to take much for all hell to break loose down there.

        • emptywheel says:

          Right: My point being is that several big cities are at capacity on ventilators and ICU beds now. So rural hospitals don’t have anywhere to transfer someone to. So the system you lay out? It collapses, as you say, a domino effect. And assuming you can isolate this to cities with city-only lockdowns won’t work.

  3. Pete T says:

    As Jim notes there is only a municipal stay-at-home order for the Cities of Miami and Miami Beach within Miami-Dade County. Broward County (containing Ft. Lauderdale – airports and seaport) does not have similar, but just business closures to effect social distancing.

    I believe the governor issued a “suggestion” that all 65+ shelter in place statewide.

    Anecdote. Around the time Gov. Cuomo locked things there was up to 190 flights one of the days from NYC to FLL and there was NO checking or restrictions put on them.

    MIA, of course, is quite the international hub, but traffic there is significantly reduced.

    In either case, if someone just even had their temp take and/or filled out a questionnaire both are of suspect efficacy as they don’t catch the asymptomatic potential super spreaders.

    Our time in the barrel is coming down here.

    • FL Resistor says:

      Florida is the frog in the pot and the heat is getting slowly turned up. We were flooded with sweaty, grabby spring breakers last week and the week before. Plus our regular influx of people driving in for some sun and fun to stay at any one of thousands of ocean and gulf front condos. Our grocery stores are still well stocked.
      But in my little beachside town just south of Daytona, our city passed an executive order starting at 5 pm on St Patrick’s day closing the bars. Our restaurants are also shut down. Both businesses have curbside take out service. Street traffic was still fairly brisk last week but over the past 10 days there is a sense of gravity everywhere. My neighbor said he went to his doctor with a cough and fever and was prescribed meds but not allowed in the building. Our cases have been steadily climbing. Yesterday at the 11 am update on the dashboard linked at, there were 1977 tested positive. Tonight after 6 pm update, there were 2484. People here are now appearing to be taking this very seriously. But really the orders are coming from county and city government. The beaches are open to people but no driving in my county where normally allowed. And no one appears to be going in anywhere except grocery, CVS, Walgreens. And our grocery staff has lost a lot of cashiers, the remaining mainly management and younger workers.

      • John K says:

        Step daughter works at the CVS in Louisiana. They wouldn’t allow her to take off unless it counted as vacation time, also wouldn’t allow workers to wear masks for fear of alarming customers. She developed a fever and cough last week and went for a test. While waiting for the results, she was told that she couldn’t stay home on Monday. She got positive results on Tuesday which means she spent all of Monday shedding virus on customers.
        She lives with my girlfriend, her mother, who has now gotten sick and is having trouble getting tested because her fever only lasted a day. (She is very fatigued, has a cough, and has lost her sense of taste. Her sense of smell is diminished.)
        My girlfriend takes care of her 82 year old father in that same house. He’s completely dependent on her. The rest of the family is now afraid to go inside. I’m afraid the old man doesn’t stand a chance and my girlfriend has heart disease and hypertension. I’m locked up at my house waiting to see if symptoms develop. I was over there the night before the daughter took sick.
        The moral of the story is to avoid going into any CVS.

        [Edited for privacy]

    • FL Resistor says:

      Florida is the frog in the pot and the heat is getting slowly turned up. We were flooded with sweaty, grabby spring breakers last week and the week before. Plus our regular influx of people driving in for some sun and fun to stay at any one of thousands of ocean and gulf front condos. Our grocery stores are still well stocked.
      But in my little beachside town just south of Daytona, our city passed an executive order starting at 5 pm on St Patrick’s day closing the bars. Our restaurants are also shut down. Both businesses have curbside take out service. Street traffic was still fairly brisk last week but over the past 10 days there is a sense of gravity everywhere. My neighbor said he went to his doctor with a cough and fever and was prescribed meds but not allowed in the building. Our cases have been steadily climbing. Yesterday at the 11 am update on the dashboard linked at, there were 1977 tested positive. Tonight after 6 pm update, there were 2484. People here are now appearing to be taking this very seriously. But really the orders are coming from county and city governments.

  4. Drew says:

    My home state of Idaho, which is very Republican now, put a statewide stay at home order in place yesterday. (I went to church camp with Brad Little, the current governor). The health department in Idaho has always been pretty strong & professional –Idaho’s civil service was put in place as the state developed during the Progressive Era so that political influence over such things has never had as much impact as one might expect.

    Blaine County (pop. 22000) has a substantial cluster of 52 cases. On the map it looks pretty isolated, but it is where Sun Valley/Ketchum is, so people fly their corporate jets in and out of there all the time.

    • Rayne says:

      Swear to gods we are going to find the planes were the worst bloody vector for this virus, followed by public hospital settings. Of course planes are what made this pandemic, spreading around the world, but given how this virus spreads via aerosolized patient exhalations, planes’ air circ systems and lack of disinfection between flights made pandemic even more likely.

      • JoeV says:

        Obviously, international travel, regardless of mode, has contributed to the spread of the virus. Airlines have upped their cleanings, with some using a fogging cleaning agent between flights. Airplane HVAC systems also use HEPA filters, so there shouldn’t be much concern with recirculated air being contaminated. That’s of course not going to help if the passenger next to you is caughing on you, but it’s better than nothing.

        I’m mostly compelled to reply because of the implication that its rich people flying around on jets that’s the problem.

        I am not wealthy and I have to fly typically 1 or 2 times a week for work – even now during the pandemic, because I am an “essential” worker, involved with public and environmental health.

        Stay away from GRR if you can, emptywheel – I moved here last October.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s not rich people only — it’s people who travel and the businesses that require them to travel. In comparison let’s note how few uber-wealthy private jet owning types have yet to come down with COVID-19.

          HEPA filters also work to 0.3 microns — coronaviruses are smaller.

        • JoeV says:

          Yes, individual coronavirus cells are smaller than 0.3 microns, but the particles and clumps those cells are in when aerosolized are larger than that. The N-95 masks in such short supply have just a HEPA rating.

      • MattyG says:

        When I learned Queens and Brooklyn lead NYC in reported cases I immediatly thought of LaGuardia and JFK airports. They could have been the initial hotspots – lhuge worldwide traffic hub, a 50+ mile radius of everyday coming and going use, and lots of locals working the facilities in daily contact with travellers. Newark Airport on the other side of the Hudson handles a lot of traffic as well. That’s 3 large airports in a fairly small area.

        My un-scientific sense is that the airport system coupled with the notably high cross-integrated transportation system of the city/suburbs/exurbs; commuter, delivery, social network etc., meant the whole greater NY area acted/is acting as a huge virus pump.

        Great effort is being made to dampen activity – it must be down under 5% of normal by the looks of it – so there is hope that this may crest sooner rather than later.

      • MB says:

        FWIW, a Canadian friend of mine was flying last week from Vancouver to Charlottestown (Prince Edward Island) with a stop in Montreal. He was told by Air Canada that all their planes have “viral filters” installed on their ventilation systems. And that the plane departing departing Montreal was held up 1.5 hours because they were expending extra efforts on deep-cleaning the plane between flights. This may not be true for American airline companies…

        Also he reports pretty stringent measures implemented in local supermarkets in Nanaimo, i.e. hastily-installed plexiglass barriers between the customer and the cashier, a la bank teller setups. Haven’t seen that at all here in L.A.

        • P J Evans says:

          Might be difficult, since the purchase have to go between, on the conveyor. (At the one I normally go to, the card reader/keyboard is more than three feet from the cashier. I usually use the self-check, as it’s about as fast for me.)

        • e.a.f. says:

          Yes they are protecting the customers and workers Some employers have no choice they’re unionized and WCB demands workers be protected. If work makes you ill you qualify for benefits. Some grocery stores have tape on the floor so customers stay 2 metres away from each other and each cart it cleaned after each use. I’m currently in The Nanaimo General Hospital and no cases admitted yet. Pop approx 90k or do. We know people are infected but no positive results yet. Hospital has been ramping up. Staff excellent. Cleaning increased

        • errant aesthete says:

          Read last night that the Kroger store chain in Washington state will be installing plexiglass barriers (between cashier and customer) and stenciling 6ft.-floor-markers for those waiting in line. They are giving it a 3-week timeline to completion (starting yesterday) in an effort to protect workers.

        • errant aesthete says:

          Sorry, this was intended to follow Fl Resistor “Florida is the frog in the pot”…

        • P J Evans says:

          They could use tape for the markers. Cheap, fast, easy to replace when it gets worn. (Local Walgreens did that. Last week.)

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh wow. I hadn’t seen that but makes total sense. Rich people come in, spread their germs, and leave the local staffers with it.

        • jamie mack says:

          That’s right.
          The frequency of infections in Pitkin, Eagle and Gunnison counties is far greater than in Denver
          For details, is the state’s info page. Click on the prominent ‘DATA VISUALIZATIONS’ link, and scroll down

        • Vicks says:

          Our first case in colorado was a guy who flew into día after visiting Italy, rented a car and drove up to the condo he rented and skied a day each at two different resorts before he got sick enough to be hospitalizad.
          These people may not be “rich” by some standards, but if they have the means to take cruises, the education to be working as a guest of another country or the power to be at a convention like CPAC they certainly do not match Trump’s fear mongering description of the boogey men and woman he is going to save us from with his wall

      • Drew says:

        There was a conference of the Coalition of Endowed Episcopal Parishes in Louisville in late February. Its attendance wasn’t exclusively from the endowed parishes, but the idea is that the high resource (rich) churches have workshops and strategize about how to do things & use their money. Some, like Trinity Wall Street, are extremely wealthy, others more moderately so, but none of them are in the south Bronx, that’s for sure.

        Anyway the first 5 Episcopal priests to get COVID19 (that I know of in our little ecosystem of clergy) all attended that conference. This includes the first case in Washington, DC – the rector of Christ Church, Georgetown.

        So ….
        … yeah.

        • Rayne says:

          Sure would love to know who the index case was in Ischgl. A doctor here in Michigan was infected while on a ski trip in Utah. Wonder if there’s an intersection between ski aficionados?

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Very interesting question! Probably a younger demographic and a drinking demographic. Good for super-spreading. Also, looking on a map, Vo (big COVID-19 hotspot in Italy) and Ischgl aren’t too far apart (but the JHU tracking map doesn’t show either of them with any cases/details). FYI: two close friends spent six weeks traveling/doing business in Northern Italy in 2018, and said there is a very large population of Chinese living there now.

        • P J Evans says:

          A Chinese company got a lot of help from Italians, when they were gettign going in Europe. So they sent a lot of crates of aid to Italy, as thanks.

        • Rayne says:

          I can’t recall now, in overload, but I swear I read someplace that northern Italy believe it’s index case was from Austria. Need to hunt that down but I’ve got something else I’m working on. Need more than one head and two hands today.

        • stethant says:

          The report of Covid importation into Italy from Germany, purportedly from a car parts manufacturer, was reported 8 March in the WaPo:

          However, the actual biorXiv submission ( from that group of virologists at Luigi Sacco Hospital cites a limited phylogenetic analysis that, IMO, does not support the definitive nature of the conclusions written in the March 8 WaPo article. The Italian “source” could in fact have been multiple sources that entered Italy from >1 country and at different times. We’ll have to wait for better data.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for that, much appreciated. As northern Italy is a world center of design and fashion, it’s not out of the question that there could be multiple sources.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks very much for that, much appreciated.

          In essence, Webasto company employee from China attended a business meeting in Munich; she infected a Bavarian colleague. She had previously had contact with her parents who live in Wuhan’s epidemic area. The virus was then carried to Lodi in northern Italy by an Italian who went to Bavaria and then returned, or by a German who traveled in the area.

          Appears that some further genetic mapping is necessary to sort the last bit but it’s possible both an Italian and a German spread it in northern Italy and the German took it back to Germany.

          The Webasto employee is one of the earliest cases outside China; this report says she was in Wuhan the week before the Lunar New Year (January 25) and went to Germany on January 19, had symptoms on January 21 when she returned to China. This roughly parallel to the arrival of the virus in Washington state.

          Thanks again!

    • P J Evans says:

      She was sitting in the front row at today’s rally presser, and Trmp refused to call on her, going out of his way to be nasty.

    • cavenewt says:

      I am especially concerned about this county classification scheme. I live near Moab Utah, home of Arches National Park. We have a very small regional hospital – maybe 14 beds I think, and no ICU. Last week the state health department closed most businesses including hotels and campgrounds, which was wonderful because we were still getting huge influx of tourists from all over the world despite increasing virus news. Bewilderingly, the national parks remain open. Our county has no confirmed cases yet; I asked this morning, and fewer than 100 tests have been done. I’m pretty sure we would be classified as a low risk county and opened up again to tourism. Gulp.

  5. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    I wonder if apart from political messaging and the usual Trumpian motivations, he thinks allowing the spread will impact a larger number of people in denser urban areas, who tend to vote against the GOP. It may be worth it to some in the GOP and Trump to lose 10 Democratic voters for each Republican voter, especially in swing states. This is pure speciousness but the man doesn’t seem to value human life.

  6. Manwen says:

    Living about two miles from the main CDC campus in a state where the governor is taking the Trump/Hobbesian approach of letting the people he leads fend for themselves is a very surreal experience. We should have a lot of information about what is going on. I can find little useful information on the State DPH website. The citizens have no coherent policy to follow; multiple and overlapping jurisdictions are taking contradictory actions. We have no idea of how the supply chain problems are affecting Georgia health care. And, the poor, older rural communities in Georgia are going to take a big hit. Kemp is supposed to do a public press conference tonight at 8:00. It will be the first time citizens have had a chance to hear from him directly. I hope he is called to answer questions and not get away with platitudes and saying “good luck mayors, hope you make good decisions. I am sure some of you will do good and some will not do so good. But, we will be there to back you up. But, you have to find your own equipment on the open market. (And try to get a good price). Best of Luck, your governor, signing off.”

      • Manwen says:

        Atlanta City, Dekalb County. His press conference was worthless. I believe the gist was, our data is two weeks old, but we know that we have counties without a problem, but we don’t have enough test kits to know the extent of the problem. And, I am sure we have everything we need or will have, even though we don’t know the scope of the problem. But lots of counties in Georgia don’t have a problem and we have the bad data to prove it.
        Kemp is far more feckless than I expected. The common theme in Trump Republicans, including Trump himself, is fear of the base. They are all more afraid of upsetting Trumpets because that is their only constituency and if you lose that, you lose it all. And, since they conditioned the base to believe in a world that doesn’t exist, they are impervious to reports of reality. Well, reality is here and the fantasy is about to collapse. And so many, including the Trumpets, will suffer in the transition, it breaks my heart.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I think GA and FL are two of the key states. Because they’re siding with Trump all the way but could be facing really big problems in the near term.

    • Yancy says:

      Jax Mayor Lenny Curry, Republican, is majorly ticked off at FL Republican Gov. DeSantis because Curry found out about the first positive case of COVID19 via the news. Apparently he had been assured that he would be told before the information was made public.
      (You can see the fit he pitched on his Twitter feed: @lennycurry )

  7. fikshun says:

    Interesting read, as always. If some governors continue to do nothing, would the more proactive governors have the authority to restrict travel from those states? I’m guessing that’s where states’ rights would yield to federal control.

    • rip says:

      Is this part of the Federalist’s agenda to return “control” back to the states? (I’m not insinuating that those MF’s started an infection of the population that would affect mainly low-income/older people.)

      If states have control of traffic into their borders, doesn’t that mean that the US as a republic ceases to be viable? Is this an intentional power-grab on a world-wide disaster?

      • fikshun says:

        Yeah, I haven’t heard much about states’ rights since Trump took office.

        On the one hand, if a governor has the authority to close borders, the states are hardly united. On the other hand, if governors don’t have that authority, we’re all effectively governed by the lowest common denominator … a kakistocracy in this instance.

      • Raven Eye says:

        California has had agricultural inspection stations at the borders for decades. Obviously not quite the same thing, but if there is room to protect and industry (agribusiness), there should be room to protect against a known biological threat.

        Beyond that, the “Health Officer” in many jurisdictions may have the power to quarantine people in situ, take them into custody and place them in quarantine facilities, condemn property, destroy property, etc. depending on severity, threat, and risk. The authority does vary, and I’ve been involved in the planning discussions between public health folks and law enforcement talking about how it might, or might not, be possible, from a practical standpoint.

        When Trump announced his all ban on all Europeans (except those who talk almost like us) I got quite of chuckle. He could let the British and the Irish in, but as soon as they cleared the federally controlled areas of the ports of entry, those travelers could have been met by a state or local medical screening station (although yet another biological exchange area).

        • fikshun says:

          Thanks, Raven Eye. Much appreciated. I had forgotten about the agricultural inspection stations. I lived in San Diego for a while and when I moved there, I got stopped at one of those stations. When asked if I had any foreign imports, I pointed to my curious Siamese cat who had hopped up on the dash of the truck to see what all the fuss was about. I asked if my cat counted and was then waved through.

  8. Unkempt says:

    I currently work in a 55+ Apartment complex in Pinellas County FL. I am scared to death I am going to get this and bring it to work and kill people, and most the residents are only worried about us closing the community pool and taking the gas out of the grills, It is about to get really bad around here. We finally enacted a “Safer at Home” rule that started today at noon but I fear its already too little too late after all the spring breakers and flights from hot spots (that are still coming). I hope I’m wrong.

  9. Peterr says:

    Trump just now (paraphrasing): “We gotta get back to work. Gotta open things up. People want to get back to work. This is the United States of America, and we get things done . . .”

    Peterr, yesterday: So what? A virus does not care.

    • I am sam says:

      This is OT, but just had a question. Could they replace the guy nodding behind Trump in his Campaign “Corona Virus Updates” (could in be our Vice-President?) with a “Bobble Head” ? This would relieve the strain on Pence’s neck. This would not save his nose when Trump makes a sharp turn. However, you can’t have it all.

      • Raven Eye says:

        To be truthful, a set of life-size bobble heads to line up behind the president would be (a) just as effective, (b) solve some of the social distancing problems, and (c) for most of the Trumpistas, would be indistinguishable from the real people they were modeled from.

        They could be wheeled out as needed, just like the potted plants used in the not-all-the-time-garden.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Funny. Trump things everyone wants to get back to work and the Republican senators are sure that not a single person in the country will work if they can get $600/mo for doing nothing.

  10. punaise says:

    Please indulge a repeat comment from a previous thread as it is germane to this one.

    Trump’s plan going forward is clear. He will call for a return to “normal activity” by the end of the month, claiming he has evidence that the epidemic is slowing and the economic consequences are too great. Overwhelmed hospitals and increasing deaths in big cities will be written off as evidence that their (Democratic) mayors and governors are incompetent. If and when the epidemic spreads to Trump country, he and his minions will blame areas which suffered earlier (which, again, are conveniently all blue states) for not doing enough to stop the spread, with some way found to blame immigrants as well. And of course, all of the health care system problems that this epidemic is exposing will be ascribed to Obamacare.

  11. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As well as rural hospitals basically acting as triage…

    I live near a VA hospital, and the area around it is surrounded by modest motels and extended-stay facilities. The VA system is based upon people travelling far longer distances to receive outpatient care than they otherwise would.

    Cooper has been okayish in NC. County governments have rolled out stricter “stay home, stay safe” orders over the past few days and they all use the same language.

    But there was a study of how many beds / ICU beds / ventilators were available in the entire western part of the state, and it’s not good:

    So a relatively low-population region with a VA hospital, a lot of retirees / second home-owners and a lot of tourism is going to be hit hard.

  12. james wordsworth says:

    Florida last three days:
    2355 (up 19%), 1977 (up 40%), 1412 – in two days up 66%
    Georgia last three days:
    1525 (up 10%), 1387 (up 35%), 1026 – in two days up 48%
    Louisiana last three days:
    2305 (up 28%) 1795 (up 29%), 1388 – in two days up 66%

    Remember these numbers are for people infected 1-2 weeks ago. At these rates the numbers will quadruple by next week this time and then quadruple again in two weeks.

    Without mitigation measures not many places will be safe. This virus spreads very easily.

    • FL Resistor says:

      Thanks for doing the percentages. I have been watching the same thing. And my women’s golf group with whom I no longer play due to injury is still playing weekly and most likely getting their practice sessions too. They have been told they cannot have the end of season luncheon April7th anymore so the latest email mentions working on alternatives and the golf pairings for next week along with a reminder of the fun play the week after.
      Honestly I think perhaps the only ones left playing now are all of the Republicans who perhaps are not getting the full picture.

      • Fran of the North says:

        As my friends down south are wont to say: “Bless their hearts.”

        My mother was one of your golf group 10 or more years ago. She lives on one of the fairways, and her ex-foursome/ golf friends and club are the center of her social universe.

        Your friends and many like them aren’t unaware or necessarily ‘ignoring social queues, they’re just living in the past and clinging to ‘authorities’ who reinforce their worldview.

        My heart breaks for these individual / social connections throughout senior-landia. I fear that the virus will rip thru these communities, whether FL, the TX gulf coast, Arizona or elsewhere and leave many of these seniors alive, but hollow shells of themselves because their social circles have been blown to pieces.

  13. JonKnowsNothing says:

    There is a serious penalty for believing what pours out of Washington and that is Death.

    If you don’t listen to the scientists, don’t get the FHome and Stay There, you have every opportunity of “being that helpful dead person that doesn’t want the economy to fail” as proposed by a Texas Official, Lieutenant governor Dan Patrick. Of course that was unsaid was the part about the Great American Exceptionalism conceit meaning You, Not Me. (down by the old mill stream … )

    As the virus load increases, the ratio of younger people dying will go up. There’s already a number of MSM reports starting to show that uptick. (Death due to viral overload, not just that the older folks have fallen at the first fence.)

    The future (which some of us may not live to see) will have a conundrum for the NeoCons.

    No Workers
    No Knowledge Base
    No Followers of NeoCon ideology (go go Bolsonaro, get out there and mingle more! Take AMLO with you.)
    No Wealth (what ever is left; mostly real estate but no one will have a job that pays enough to buy the empty plague houses and maybe the stigma will be too hard a sell)
    No Consumerism (no monies and a ton of debt)
    Not enough followers of Trump to reelect him (death waves are way before Nov elections: 14-35 days)

    The boss pays you to work, he doesn’t pay you to die. We pay the military to do that job.

    • posaune says:

      It’s been decades since I took a medieval history course, but IICR,
      the black plague reduced the labor supply significantly, leading to the rise of the guilds.

      • cavenewt says:

        Didn’t the Black Death also put paid to the feudal system and eventually lead to the Age of Enlightenment?

  14. e.a.f. says:

    My take on Trumps idea is cage them in an area and leave them to die. I’ll be watching to see the colour of skin of those geographical areas. Suspect Miller had a hand in that one
    Wonder why trump really wants to detail the military to the Canadian border. Is it to keep Americans from trying to access our medical system or is it a method to move the America military around the country without attracting attention. What I found entertaining was Mexicans wanted Americans to stop coming across their border. Now for all the carrying on trump has done about Mexicans coming in to the USA you’d think he’d have more military to the south.

    I do hope the USA gets through this and the death rate remains low

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Re. US military along the Canadian border.
      It sounded like he was worried about steel shipments coming into the country and somehow evading tariffs. I guess he is picturing some Mad-Max style transport truck, piloted by The Great Humongous, running the border at top speed to deliver cheap steel to American industry and only 1000 well armed soldiers will be able to prevent this catastrophe. It’s planning for details like this that show off his genius.

      • e.a.f. says:

        So he only would require the military by Ontario and Quebec and Premier Ford regarded as the second from the bottom of premiers just locked down what he hadn’t locked down already. They’re left with essential services only as I recall from the morning news

      • Fran of the North says:

        “Greetings from the Humongous. The Lord Humongous, the Warrior of the Wasteland, the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!”

        Toady, he of the missing fingers.

  15. e.a.f. says:

    read the Daily Beast article. Thank you for including it. Trump is like an abusive spousal unit. Trying to placate them never works so you leave. If you’re Gov and responsible for other lives it’s difficult Perhaps now would be a good time for Bloomberg to run a few funny pointed ads or order $500m worth of ventilators and send them to hard hit areas and then run ads advising he is doing this because he cares about his country

    Why oh why has that dreadful man not caught Covid19 and made very miserable

    • P J Evans says:

      People are noticing that he’s having a hard time breathing during his pressers – he blows a lot, and sometimes he sounds like he’s almost asleep. They’re starting to worry that he’ll collapse at the podium.

  16. e.a.f. says:

    I truly feel fortunate to live in BC Canada. Even if I were to catch the virus I know our government has made an honest effort to prevent that. Every day on the noon news we see Dr Bonnie Henry Chief medical officer for the province and Adrian Dix provincial minister of health brief us. Trudeau also does a daily presser. I’m anxious but I’m not scared

    Having read the articles and comments about what is going on in the USA am so very sorry this is happening to your country

    • Tom says:

      Yes, but “no man is an island” and no nation is either. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis and Trump’s decisions affect the rest of the world, not just the USA. To have the President give the green light to relaxing social distancing restrictions in certain counties or other areas he figures are “low risk” will just encourage people to begin circulating in their communities again. These are people who might otherwise have stayed at home but will now take their cue from Trump and will renew the spread of the virus if they have it, or expose themselves to falling sick from it if they don’t,with a consequent additional and entirely avoidable burden on the healthcare system. And the ripple effects of decisions regarding the little hamlet of Pleasantville, USA will inevitably spread around the world. But as I said in an earlier comment, Trump figures he can reassure us by saying, “Hey, don’t worry, folks. I’m only peeing in my corner of the swimming pool.”

      According to a March 25, 2020 report from CNN, Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen has released a memo stating that it is the position of the DOJ that anyone deliberately and intentionally infecting another person with the COVID-19 virus could be charged under the statues covering acts of terror. And yet there’s President Trump saying he wants to see the churches “packed” on Easter Sunday, knowing full well that some of those people will be spreading the virus to others who will die from the disease.

      • bmaz says:

        Agree with the first paragraph.

        Urge extreme caution as to the second paragraph. Jeff Rosen has never been in a criminal courtroom in his life. If criminal law bit him in the ass, he would not recognize it. For him to be pondering treating human transmission of corona as “terrorism” is beyond reckless and stupid. That is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.

      • cavenewt says:

        Re: terrorism by coughing

        Just this morning I responded to a YouGov survey that asked if I thought it should be a terrorist act if somebody intentionally coughed coronavirus on me. Now I know where the question came from.

  17. P J Evans says:

    Trmp told Hannity that he doesn’t think NY needs 30 to 40 thousand ventilators, because, he says, most hospitals only have two.
    I have to think he’s confusing ventilators with HVAC systems, or I’m going to be out in the parking lot screaming.

    • Rayne says:

      I am so fucking sick of that tangerine hellbeast’s malignant narcissism — heavily laced with Dunning-Kruger on top of it — believing he knows better than highly-educated licensed, experienced professionals. He’s literally killing people with his ignorance and we can’t stop it.

      EDIT: I am seriously fighting the urge to launch a drive to mail postcards of butt plugs to every GOP senator to ask them to stop the madness.

      • vvv says:

        I had to look up, “Dunning-Kruger”; altho I had never heard of that diagnosis I think my ex …

        Anywhat, the wiki linked (re a bank robber who thought he was made invisible) says: “This belief was based on his misunderstanding of the chemical properties of lemon juice as an invisible ink.”

        Got to wonder if it applies to self-tanning lotion in some respect.

  18. Mitch Neher says:

    Trump’s [re-election] “plan” might be to blame the US recession on Democratic governors. But Trump’s re-election plan cannot be to blame the COVID-19 crisis on Democratic governors.

    Because Trump has already accused Democrats in general of having exaggerated the threat from the novel coronavirus right up front. And the death toll from COVID-19 will almost certainly cross the 500,000 mark before election day of this year.

    Meanwhile, the simple fact that the COVID-19 crisis is causing a global recession as well as a US recession should put the lie to Trump’s gambit scapegoating Democratic governors for the US recession.

    How many Americans not named Trump fear the recession more so than they fear COVID-19?

    • dude says:

      It seems to me the basic theme of the Republicans will be a form of States’ Rights which Trump has already put out there for refinement. He has said this public health issue is up to local officials (and the current policies reflect that); he has said everyone (else) knew from public sources that the epidemic was on the way back in January; and he concludes that if it were such a well-known thing, all the states had to do was ask for Federal support sooner. They didn’t and therefore they were incompetent. The subtext is: the Federal government is the source of last resort in all but war (‘national defense’ in their resonant and obvious sense).

      This is not a new proposition for conservatives and libertarians to assert. And, I might add, he will point to the last resort Federal actions of in the recent past in response to hurricanes and floods. This ‘logic’ will assert it’s not his job to know all the details (forgiving himself of official foreknowledge) and his role to react when asked (or begged, or fawned over).

      I think this is where he will go to eventually get around to blaming Democrats. They waited too long for their own political purposes and wrecked the economy as a by-product.

      And his legions will buy it. And the Mitch McConnell’s and Rand Paul’s will call it conservatism.

        • Manwen says:

          It occurred to me recently that the first Republican President presided over the Uniting of the States of America, and while I watched Trump pit governors against each other in competition for life-saving equipment during a crisis, that Trump (the last Republican President?) was turning the states into individual nation-states in a global competition to save lives. He is undoing what Lincoln and a nation fought to accomplish. Very sad irony.

  19. Tom says:

    Right now President Trump is campaigning from his podium at the White House, while Joe Biden is campaigning from his basement rec room. I think Trump will be taking advantage of this situation by stepping up his attacks on Biden in order to (i) distract people from the COVID-19 pandemic, (ii) remind voters that an election is coming up, and (iii) try to persuade Americans that the crisis is over and that he’s the man who defeated the pandemic and saved the country.

  20. harpie says:

    Via Laura Rozen, here’s Vincent Lee, #Reuters #China Breaking News Editor:
    1] 1:18 AM · Mar 27, 2020 [Eastern time]
    1:18 AM · Mar 27, 2020
    [Sorry this was written in all caps.] [All quotes from “China State TV” or “Media”]





    2] 1:19 AM · Mar 27, 2020 [Eastern time]
    1:19 AM · Mar 27, 2020

    Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!

    So, suddenly it’s no longer “The Wuhan Virus” or “The China Virus”.

  21. harpie says:

    1] 8:13 PM · Mar 26, 2020
    After Considering $1 Billion Price Tag for Ventilators, White House Has Second Thoughts
    A deal with General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to produce tens of thousands of the critical lifesaving devices seemed imminent. Then the announcement was pulled back.
    March 26, 2020 [Maggie Haberman tweeted this story out at 8:13 PM · Mar 26, 2020]

    […] [KUSHNER] has been directing officials at FEMA in the effort. Two officials said the suggestion to wait on the General Motors offer came from Col. Patrick Work, who is working at FEMA. Some government officials expressed concern about the possibility of ordering too many ventilators, leaving them with an expensive surplus […]

    A spokeswoman for FEMA said Colonel Work presented information on each contract in such meetings but did not make any recommendations. A White House spokesman declined to comment. […]

    2] shorty before Trump called into Hannity’s show [according to Media Matters]
    10:20 PM · Mar 26, 2020 [VIDEO] Dr. Marc Siegel]
    [Will provide transcript of this when I get a chance]

    • harpie says:

      SIEGEL: [on Tucker] It looks like the rate of hospitalizations in NY, though still on the upswing, the rate itself is starting to flatten out a little bit. That means, we may not need the thirty thousand respirators [SIC], which I can’t even put my mind around, because that would mean one or two million people get corona virus, god forbid, in NY.

      TRUMP: [on Hannity] I don’t believe you need forty thousand or thirty thousand ventilators. You know, you go to major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying can we order thirty thousand ventilators

    • Tom says:

      Didn’t President Trump himself refer the other day to the folly of being penny-wise and dollar-foolish in a crisis such as this?

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Tom.” Please also stick to the same username; this message was posted under username “T” which is both a second name and inadequate length for a username. It was changed to agree with your last +900 comments here. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  22. e.a.f. says:

    Perhaps Xi has offered to have China make the respirators at a discount so NY can’t get them and Ford won’t make a profit
    Then China will fill his hotels. His new best buddy. Wonder how Kim 3 feels

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