What a “Reopening the Economy Story” Would Look Like

The WaPo has a remarkable 2,400-word story that purports to explain how the White House plans to reopen the economy.

Nine paragraphs into the story, it includes this factually erroneous paragraph that also points out that’s not what this story is doing.

The White House cannot unilaterally reopen the country. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued federal guidance advising people to avoid social gatherings, work from home and use pickup and delivery options for food, it is state officials who have put the force of law behind those suggestions.

The paragraph is factually erroneous because the guidelines released by the White House are not the basis for the state-by-state shutdown orders and in fact fall far short of what all but a handful of states have in place. The governors have put the force of law behind more stringent measures, that rightly treat the White House ones as inadequate.

But once you’ve acknowledged, as this paragraph does, that the governors — not Trump — will decide when to reopen the economy, then an editor should remove virtually all the rest of the paragraphs in the story as access journalism fluff that dangerously misrepresents the state of things.

Paragraph 16, though, is a keeper. It describes the things that Trump has some control over that still haven’t happened — most notably, far more testing.

Health experts say that ending the shutdown prematurely would be disastrous because the restrictions have barely had time to work, and because U.S. leaders have not built up the capacity for alternatives to stay-at-home orders — such as the mass testing, large-scale contact tracing and targeted quarantines that have been used in other countries to suppress the virus.

The story doesn’t describe that the Federal government just inexplicably ended, rather than expanded, testing. Nor does it reference a very good WaPo story from earlier this week, on which Josh Dawsey, who is bylined in this story, is also bylined. That story describes the utterly inconceivable fact that the White House was just this week beginning to debate what a national testing strategy would look like.

In recent days, the White House coronavirus task force has begun debating what a national testing strategy would look like, according to several senior administration officials. Leading that effort are Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

At a Monday task force meeting, according to a participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, Birx and Giroir debated where to send the newest coronavirus tests — a version produced by Abbott Laboratories that can deliver results on-site in as little as five minutes, as opposed to tests that can take hours and must be processed by a laboratory.

Back on March 31, Dr. Birx suggested that states were just sitting on Abbott testing capacity that the government had already gotten to states, not using it.

DR. BIRX:  So, even today — which is, I have to say, coming out of laboratories and developed tests and worked on vaccines and then gone to the field to actually combat epidemic — it is disappointing to me right now that we have about 500,000 capacity of Abbott tests that are not being utilized.  So they are out.  They’re in the states.  They’re not being run and not utilized.

So now we have to figure out how do we create awareness, because sometimes when you put an early platform out — like our first platform out when the high speed was Roche — so you get that out, people get dependent on that, and then don’t see that there’s availability of other tests.

So right now, there’s over a half a million tests sitting — capacity — that are not being utilized.  So we’re trying to figure out: How do we inform states about where these all are?  How do we work through every laboratory association so they’re aware?  And how do we raise awareness so people know that there’s point of care, there’s Thermo Fisher, there’s Abbott testing, and there’s Roche?  And if you add those together, that’s millions of tests a week.


Q    So why aren’t they being used?

Q    What’s the reason they’re being used?

DR. BIRX:  Because when people get used to a single platform, they keep sending it back to that lab.  So it’s getting in a queue to wait to get on a Roche machine, rather than being moved to this other lab that may have Abbott capacity.  Because they’re all in different laboratories.  And so —

Q    So how do you break that bottleneck?

DR. BIRX:  I think — well, actually, Admiral Giroir is figuring it out, to really create some kind of visual so that every governor and every health commissioner can see all of their capacity in their countries — I mean, in their states, county by county, so that they know where the tests are.

So we pushed a lot of tests out, but they’re not all being utilized.  And so —

But a week after that, per the WaPo article on testing, Birx was still just debating a plan on how to use the Abbott capacity?

A tenth of the work force has applied for unemployment benefits, millions more are not working right now, small businesses are going under, all to give the federal government (or barring that, our states) time to develop a plan to get people back to work, safely. And only two weeks after the stay-at-homes went into place was the White House trying to devise a national strategy? Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?!?!

And yet the failures of the White House to do the single most important thing it can do to get the country back to work doesn’t show up in this story until paragraph 16.

That failure is important background for another detail in this story: That Jared Kushner, after promising yet failing to get testing into Big Box parking lots, will now have a key role in getting the economy back together again.

Trump is preparing to announce this week the creation of a second, smaller coronavirus task force aimed specifically at combating the economic ramifications of the virus, according to people familiar with the plans.

The task force is expected to be led by Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and include Larry Kudlow, the president’s chief economic adviser, and Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, along with outside business leaders. Others expected to play a role are Kevin Hassett, who has been advising Trump on economic models in recent weeks, and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, administration officials say.

You can’t combat the economic ramifications until you fix the problem that Kushner was put in charge of but then failed to fix — testing. Putting him a key role to fail yet again will do real damage to this country.

Ultimately, this story could — and should — look like this:

  1. Trump wants to get the country back to work
  2. But it’s not up to him, it’s up to the Governors
  3. Trump has failed, miserably, at the one thing he should be doing — rolling out widespread testing
  4. Trump now wants to put the guy who failed to fix the testing problem in charge of economic recovery

I don’t mean to be an asshole about this, but Trump uses national media stories about him as a mirror, to gauge his own performance. The last thing he needs to see is a mirror that utterly distorts the things he can control — testing — and instead allows him to focus on the things he can’t control — ending stay-at-home orders.

157 replies
  1. John Forde says:

    I am interested in the vanity vs. capacity spectrum.
    Even if it is fluff about him, can Trump focus for 2400 words?

    • Rayne says:

      He’s not reading it. Somebody may be summarizing it to him but I doubt it because they don’t want to piss off Daddy Dearest if something in it doesn’t fluff his ego.

    • Mooser says:

      ” can Trump focus”

      He has suddenly walked out, at a time of his own choosing, just left the briefing, how many times now? 3, or has it been 4?
      Anybody mentioning that?

  2. Derrell says:

    Following George Lakoff, I would quibble with the order of items in your preferred story. Using your numbers, the order that better fits with making a “truth sandwich” is 3, 1, 2, 4.

    With a lot of emphasis on all the ways he’s failed in 3 and 4.

  3. Bobby Gladd says:

    More than 16k US deaths. The priority of #Pandumbic @POTUS @realDonaldTrump
    on Good Friday?

    “This week, in only 4 days, we had the biggest Stock Market increase since 1974. We have a great chance for the really big bounce when the Invisible Enemy is gone!” #COVIDー19

  4. Willis J Warren says:

    South Korea’s mortality rate is 2%, they’re catching up, and they’re reporting positives from people who’d tested negative and were “cured”

    This isn’t going away. We’re not going back to work

  5. BobCon says:

    I said it in the comments of the previous post, but thus ignorance by the Post gets me angry.

    It’s not even just the testing. It needs to be an entire program of testing, reporting, contact tracing, education and isolation.

    And it has to be a national program. States are somewhat well positioned to shut things down, although even then there are significant risks if neighboring states do things differently. But trying to open life up again requires national efforts to stave off a rebound wave.

    Illinois cannot maintain a state-only database of test results and do only in-state contact tracing. They need to be in constant communication with neighboring Wisconsin and Missouri and Indiana. And they need to be on the same page as California and Mississippi too. It has to be a national program with national standards.

    No GOP federal leader wants to confront Trump over this, or else they also don’t believe it is true. The Post shouldn’t be so clueless on top of these dolts.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I have to conclude that it’s not “ignorance,” on the part of the WaPo. Even Dean Baquet’s editorial picks know better. They create this normalizing whine for other purposes I can only guess at. Staying on Trump’s good side – as if he had one – seems an inadequate explanation.

      • BobCon says:

        One of the dodges political reporters use is to tell themselves “everyone knows” some key piece of context, so they can leave it out.

        “Everyone knows” Swift Boating/Birtherism/Death Panels/Mexico will pay for the wall is a lie, so we can just skip that part and talk about it as another symptom of the partisan divide they so sadly shake their heads about.

      • orionATL says:

        you’re right. ignorance could not possibly be the reason. these media executives are exposed to far more relevant information than any one of us would need to separate properb(or at least reasonable) moral behavior from improper.

        you know what is the reason? COWARDICE.

        yes. simple human cowardice. i won’t even dress it up as “professional cowardice.” at least the major editors (and owners) are freightened of trump, and freightened of his allies. they cannot but speak with tied tongues.

        they are also, to a morally lesser degree, prisoners of their professional ethics. but one never knows whether this untoward devotion to professional ethics is merely being used as a psychological shield. emptywheel could give them a lesson in how not to be handcuffed by one’s professional ethics where these do not fit properly (humanely) in a the larger moral context.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    Add to that the shanghaied PPE that (allegedly) is not being grabbed by FEMA (so who is, and why???) and we can all see why Jared is the failson-in-law for all time. Talking Points Memo is doing yeoman’s work on this as is the LA Times and others.

    However, only the USG has the authority under DPA to sequester supplies like this so if FEMA’s not doing it then who is with what authority?


    Also note that with a “reopening” around May 1 with no test data to show where COVID-19 is we will see what a surge in cases looks like. It’s the return of the “it doesn’t fail if we don’t test it” business mentality expected from the latest task force that only includes “economists”.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jared seems more focused on getting a piece of the action than on getting any particular act done. Trump’s harangues about reopening the economy – he acts as if it were as simple as hitting the replay button – seem to be his way to get more money from Congress, so that he can redirect it to his patronage network, minus the carrying charges.

    Just as dangerously, he equates a better economy with being re-elected, but doesn’t seem to connect that going back to work by the millions without massive testing, in addition to other steps, will kill his voters, too. I know he is incapable of caring about that, but it would complicate holding an election. Or is that part of the plan?

    • rip says:

      That is part of the plan. A plan cooked up by someone in a city known for its kremlin and a multi-time bankrupt loser. I doubt they cooked up the COVID-19 virus but they may have discussed taking advantage of the next major disaster (global warming was taking too long.)

      • alfredlordbleep says:

        Nothing much “lawful” can be done without John Roberts and Bill Barr, “The Apostles” (w/others”)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Nothing much “permanently” awful can be done without others, who know how to institutionalize Trump’s whims. But he can do a lot on his own. Besides, the likes of Barr and Roberts are going nowhere just now, except back to work.

          • vvv says:

            Couldn’t believe the stories this AM, such as here:
            ht tps://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/10/barr-troubling-evidence-abuse-spying-russia-trump-inquiry/5129855002/

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s also that little issue about what jobs will there be to go back to, and what employers will reopen.

      As Colbert said, who wants a McDonald’s sandwich – other than Trump – without knowing that it pays to test its workers, pays them to stay home if they test positive or are close to someone who has, and pays to have them treated, along with giving them paid time off to be treated to avoid infecting others – employers, employees, and customers alike? None of that exists today at McD’s or many other employers.

      Trump is doing less than nothing about it. His “reopening” – in casino speak, does he mean a soft opening or a hard opening? – would take us back to the Middle Ages, when “bring out your dead” was more than a punch line.

      And who would trade or negotiate with ‘murrikens, or let them travel, knowing it was a crap shoot whether they or their goods were spreading infection because they had no clue about their health? That wouldn’t be much of a reopening. Trump’s people know that, even if Trump can’t quite keep it in his head.

      • Tom says:

        Reopening the economy without adequate testing is just walking blindly into a minefield. It’s difficult to imagine the US being a popular tourist destination if foreign visitors figure there’s a good chance they’ll be exposed to the COVID-19 virus during their stay. And if/when a premature reopening leads to a resurgence of the virus, is it likely Trump will admit he made a mistake and call for the re-imposition of strict social distancing and self-quarantine? Hardly. He’ll just say a few more tens of thousands of his fellow citizens falling ill and dying is just the price of doing business.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Lions led by donkeys. Donald Trump’s generalship makes Douglas Haig’s look brilliant.

        • American Abroad says:

          Living over here in SE Asia, Indonesia specifically, ( the 4th most populous country in the world with woefully low numbers for testing and a tragic death rate) we have been advised not to travel to the States. And if we did, mandatory quarantine upon return. No international visitors allowed (with specific exceptions) and no international transit. I have no plans to travel anytime soon.

          I receive my State Department alerts, advising to return ASAP, but this has been home for nearly 8 years. Luckily, I have health insurance thru the government and my employer ; I hold a work permit and temporary resident card. Not leaving guaranteed health care (albeit developing country) for no health care at all.

          Different issues happening here between federal and state/local governments as to who can declare a mandatory lockdown, but we have been on requested lockdown since March 15th and mandatory partial lockdown (essential business only) now in place.

          Being part of an international community over here, and the lack of federal response in the US, has caused millions and millions of people around the world to question whether any leadership can be sought from my home country. Thankfully, Dr. Fauci seems to be listened to by other countries’ leadership.

          And once again, I will be forever grateful to this community; I prepared.early thanks to all the advice here. Don’t know what I would do without you!

          • paulpfixion says:

            Hang in there! There are many of us in the same boat, just different countries. The cost for me to spend two weeks in a hospital here is less than my deductible would be back home. My housing cost in China for a two level apartment with two balconies overlooking the mountains is less than my Obamacare premium for a shitty bronze care plan was.

            Many of the oldest members of the expat community, who have lived here for years, are on 60 day visas. They have to make a visa run every couple months, which, of course, they can’t do right now. They are in limbo purgatory, wondering what is going to happen to them. We are worried all the time that the current policy of blanket visa extension will end any day and they will be forced to go…where? Back home with no insurance? To a country with a much worse healthcare system? Those of us with 12 month work permits wonder what is going to happen this summer when it is time to renew.

            We watch with a grim foreboding the anti-asian racism playing out back home, broadcast and shared to the masses here. I worry that it is only a matter of time before a real rage boils over. People are making plans in hushed tones about fleeing if it comes to that. Hopefully, it does not.

            • greengiant says:

              Anti-Asian racism is a pittance compared to normal every day US racism and xenophobia. The clown in the WH uses anything to distract from his shortcomings. Compare his perfomance to Merkels. That maybe hard for conservative expats to hear.
              The US is grinding out 38 million small business owners and the 40 percent of households who did not have 400 dollars in savings. Under 39 are only 2.4 percent of the dead in New York. 40 to 49 4.1 percent. Most younger grocery workers are not wearing masks today where I live.
              International supply chain crashes and ignoring side effects in younger victims seems most worrying here.

              • paulpfixion says:

                Eh, ok? My intention wasn’t to suggest that the problems of expats are more important than the problems of anyone else. My apologies if my comment didn’t make that clear. However, anti-asian racism isn’t a pittance to the asian/asian-american folks on my twitter. Also, I live in China, so that type of racism, and its effects, are perhaps more clear. Anti-western racism is a major issue here. That conflict, or that perceived conflict, will be a factor in how realities play out for things like the global supply chain and the lives of americans living abroad after the first wave of crisis dissipates.

                • greengiant says:

                  Sorry about the sharp corners. I was trying to say that the anti-Asian acts I have heard about are on par or less than the anti Muslim acts that came after the travel ban. And both those are in the noise compared to black and Hispanic racism. Does not change the reality of your twitter feeds.
                  Propaganda is a powerful tool. China and Germany have had much better contact tracing ability. Already a lot of resistance to the health passport technology here. Watching what levels of social distancing are going to work in China and when China can allow incoming travel again.

              • Rayne says:

                Dude. Fuck all the way off with your “pittance.” You clearly know dick about this issue.

                The document detailed a March 14 incident in Midland, Texas, in which “three Asian American family members, including a 2-year-old and 6-year-old, were stabbed … The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus.”

                When children, one little more than a baby, are stabbed, this isn’t a “pittance.” If you didn’t know about this particular anti-Asian attack it’s part of the structural racism underpinning white supremacy in the U.S.

                Anti-Asian racism has always been there, manifest in chronic questions like “Where are you from?” put to Americans whose families migrated to the U.S. lifetimes ago. Like my own great-grandfather who emigrated to Hawaii in the late 1800s.

                Not to mention he couldn’t migrate to mainland US then because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which literally embedded anti-Asian racism into U.S. law.

                We could be getting more help from other Asian countries with regard to the science behind this pandemic, but why would they be any more open with us given this administration’s overt racism.

                • Sonso says:

                  Rayne, I’m usually 100% with you, but I think you misinterpreted the OP’s point about the anti-Asian racism. Of course, if one is the target it’s not a pittance. And yes, the Trumpies are totally driven by their animus towards Others.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Tell me what value you just added. Because I’m not seeing it.

                    Trump’s anti-Asian racism has only only encouraged increasing violence against persons of Asian heritage here in the U.S., it’s interfering with future food supplies, heightening supply chain problems, and increasing climate change. Yes, his goddamned stupid tariffs the U.S. pays on goods imported from China not only fucked up already-beleaguered U.S. farmers’ crop sales last year, but his bullshit attitude encouraged China to buy soybeans from Brazil to replace U.S. soybeans. Brazil burned up even more rainforest to plant more soybeans, depleting a natural carbon sink we can’t replace any time soon.

                    Because of a pittance of anti-Asian racism.

                    Not to mention this entire pandemic might also be the result of Trump’s anti-Asian sentiment — he refused to bother with anything to do with China when it didn’t benefit him personally.

            • American Abroad says:

              That Visa situation sounds like an anxiety-laced horror show! I am very happy I do not have to deal with that, and feel lucky my work permit is valid thru December with no need to leave the country for renewal.

              The hope, the greatest hope I have at this time, is that the Governors and experts – from previous administrations and outside of the government – can present a coherent strategy that encompasses unity, compassion and love for all human beings and becomes louder than any of the incoherent ramblings of the current occupant of the WH. Stay safe.

              • paulpfixion says:

                Glad to hear your visa situation is solid! Mine renews in Sept. and I don’t have to leave to renew either, so, as long as the company I work for stays afloat I should be good! It is just terrible though for many of the folks who have retired here. The general vibe is not great.

                I second your thoughts about the Governors and experts taking the lead. Unity, compassion, and love would be much preferable to what happens on cable news and in the WH every day.


  8. Frank Probst says:

    I need to do a deep dive on this article, but I can tell you without even reading it that you should go ahead and be an asshole, because there really aren’t any good reasons that we don’t have widespread testing by now. The “different platform” argument is bogus. Most of those platforms require a shitload of money to set up if you’re doing high-throughput, and the companies that make the equipment know who bought their machines, so they’re going to be checking in on all of those labs to make sure they’re “maxed out” on capacity.

    The Abbott Laboratories “5 minute” point-of-care test looks like a head-fake to me. Abbott has two different setups. The point-of-care test really is impressively fast–it can run one test in about 15 minutes. Let me emphasize the key word in that sentence: It can run ONE test in about 15 minutes. It’s not meant to be a high-throughput system. Their high-throughput system is a totally different set of machines, and those would most likely be run in send-out labs. How much does each platform cost? Well, you can just go to their website and check…and you’ll see that they don’t tell you.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Details, shmetails… DJT wants it therefore it must be so. Make it so, peasants!

      Will the MSM call him out on this? Not if the WashPo piece is any indication.

    • P J Evans says:

      The “5-minute” test sets *should* be cheap enough that every urgent care, every pharmacy, every clinic, can have two or three and be running tests. Not 10 or 15 per state, but tens of thousands, so that widespread testing can be easily done.
      (There used to be an outfit that went around running tests at some pharmacies for cholesterol and other stuff. Took about half an hour: I’d go in, get the blood drawn – it was a very small amount – and do my shopping, then go back and get the results. I guess it wasn’t successful enough, or the giant chain that took over that pharmacy didn’t go for it.)

    • Frank Probst says:

      After deep dive:

      Otherwise, not much new here. The answers to Birx’s questions are (a) use the Defense Production Act to ensure that all materials for testing are available at the necessary quantities (i.e., there should NEVER be shortages of swabs or laboratory reagents) and (b) get money from Congress to pay for all of the labs to run 24/7 for as long as necessary (including paying employees double or triple time if they have to work the graveyard shifts) to minimize turnaround time. If you’re STILL short of manpower, hire and train more techs to run the easier equipment. The two reasons we don’t have widespread testing are (a) a complete failure of leadership and (b) unbelievably shitty supply-chain management.

  9. laura says:

    “Until someone fixes Trumps testing failures.”
    How has anyone anywhere ever fixed a trump failure? Is testing; like every trump failure in his wretched life; something he just walks away from denying the failure ever occurred or that he had any knowledge of or responsibility for? Are there any past “someones” we can look to in his past to see who fixes his fuckups? There’s no Michael Cohen and Jared is similar to trump in that they have failed up to the fullness of their capability to fail. Will either allow someone to fix testing? Or are the states on their own?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we now have more than one community members named “Laura.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  10. der says:

    As its been said here and elsewhere Trump bases his decisions on whether something is good or bad for him, If-Then-Else problem solving. Nationwide testing, we know, will expose his bs about how widespread the virus is, so stop the testing (Jared is there and everywhere to tell his wife’s father what his advisors really believe). News folks wondered Monday why Trump’s Sunday press briefing went on for 2 hours, past 8 p.m. Well 60 Minutes did an hour report on how small businesses were in trouble, can’t have the White House looking bad and can’t have that tiny number of middle of the road voting block who will decide Trump’s reelection listening to “fake news”, so hog the air time. And if small businesses are on the edge of bankruptcy and likely not reopening without the loans promised and trickle down as a plan won’t fly and some of those businesses are in states whose electoral votes will keep this White House and their gang (Barr) in power for another 4 years, time needed to finish the job, then more money needs to go where it will do the most good for Trump, else things will get pretty iffy come November. So Jared is watching “our” money for his wife’s father.

  11. Badger Robert says:

    The virus is creating a recovered population. Most people pass to other side, without a full syndrome of life threatening symptoms. Its not 1918. Its the 2st century. We know what we need to know about blood types and transfusions. Stay disciplined. Give science a chance.

    • P J Evans says:

      There’s no guarantee you can’t get it again. South Korea is seeing people who recovered, and are getting infected a second time.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        And the percent of the population that has contracted the virus is tiny – even in New York. The official numbers are still under 1% of the population. Even if you assume the real number is 5 times that, we are still looking at a 20-fold increase in deaths (American Carnage anyone) if we take a passive approach.

        I’m not 100% clear what point you were trying to make, but although it is the 21st century it does not give us magical immunity to pandemics and disease. We could easily end up much worse than the 1918 flu.

        • Pete T says:

          60%, 70%, 80% for herd immunity are often quoted. It depends, but it is disease dependent and that won’t be known for some time. But even at 1%, 5%, or even 10% and apparent non seasonality assumption there is a long road to travel even if a “good” vaccine is available 18 18 months or less. And if we can’t get mass testing right, how do you get mass vaccinations done?

    • Rayne says:

      That’s all well and good, “Give science a chance.” If it depends on profit, you’re going to be waiting a long time for a reasonable chance because it’s the 21st century in a capitalist society which has yet to be persuaded its national security relies on socialized health care relying in turn on publicly-funded science.

      And no, we don’t know if “most people pass to the other side without a full syndrome of life threatening symptoms,” because we have an insufficiency of testing for those with active infections, next to nothing in the way of testing for persons believed to have recovered. “Give science a chance” means fixing the lack of testing and then doing thorough assessments of those believed recovered because even the Chinese do NOT have studies on potential sequelae post-COVID-19.

      Seriously, look at other countries which are handling the pandemic more effectively than the U.S. They still don’t have widespread plasma therapy as a standard protocol for COVID-19.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Science requires testing of hypotheses, and the Trump WH just stopped funding for testing today (link farther up).

      So, until that situation changes, you’re whistling past the graveyard.

  12. Vinniegambone says:

    Frightening. Recalling Trump saying how 2008 financial meltdown was good time to scoop up foreclosed properties. He and Mnuchin have fed on the misfortune of others their entire lives. Now they are in a position to create the misfortune.

  13. greengiant says:

    What are the Feds, ( or the governors) going to do? Get the space force to corral people into dining out, traveling in aluminum boxes, going on cruises, staying in Trump hotels? The virus killed those businesses.They’re dead Donald. They were walking dead before the state stay at home orders.
    The only reasons for Trump to reopen the economy is to kill more people and endanger millions by giving them the choice of dying or working, ( haven’t yet found that can’t be sued for giving virus to employees, vendors or customers clause in the pandemic act 1 bill ). I.E. making them not qualify for the 600 dollar a week checks that no one has seen yet. All the weasels are whining make our workers come back, make our customers come back, make our renters go to our pay day loan companies and indenture themselves.

  14. greengiant says:

    Time to stop using the rear view mirror to drive forward. Best case all non essential will be self isolating another 4 weeks minimum. There probably aren’t enough goods in the retail pipeline for that long a surge and the retail pipeline is showing it is not big enough. The US cities, counties, states and private businesses should be buying goods from the institutional food and product streams that now have no restaurant and work place customers. First they the media explained TP shortages. Now food. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/us-coronavirus-outbreak-agriculture-food-supply-waste.

    • harpie says:

      Thanks for linking to this, greengiant.

      As US food banks handle record demand and grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked, farmers are dumping fresh milk and plowing vegetables back into the dirt as the shutdown of the food service industry has scrambled the supply chain. Roughly half the food grown in the US was previously destined for restaurants, schools, stadiums, theme parks and cruise ships.

      I wonder if some of those commercial kitchens can use the surplus in the commercial supply chain to stay partially operational [keep their own employees employed] to feed the hungry, homeless and newly unemployed. Also, where does Chef Jose Andres get the food for his operations?

      Marcy retweeted this thread from the National Farmers Union the other day…also informative:

      12:24 PM · Apr 6, 2020

      A question we’ve been hearing a lot recently is “How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting food and agriculture?” The answer is complicated. But this thread provides a small snapshot of what’s going on.

      First – there isn’t a food shortage – there’s a distribution problem. Usually, ~1/2 of food is purchased at grocery/retail stores, and ~1/2 is purchased away from home at restaurants, schools, hotels, etc. But now, almost all food consumption has shifted to the first category. […]

      • vicks says:

        Yes yes and yes!
        For example, everybody loves a good berry, blue, black, razz, goose (?) and many of us buy a package or two when they are looking good (or a bag of frozen when that seems a better choice) at the supermarket.
        The first part of the problem is hard to get your mind around, in a country with 15-20% unemployment, there is no one to pick the berries.
        Then there is the issue being discussed, and that is this whole other world that has perfected getting these berries from the the growers to restaurants like Mod Market to put in your salad.
        THAT world is taking a break right now, and success will come to anyone involved in blazing a new trail for berries (or anything else people want or can be convinced they want)
        It won’t be easy, imho logistics at this level COULD be right up there with rocket science.
        It could also be as simple as individual with an excess of something, figuring out a way to get it to whoever the hell wants it, and ends up being able to draw others to her/his plan.

      • Eureka says:

        Restaurant/ industrial suppliers are now selling packages or custom orders (depending on the seller) directly to consumers, many with delivery. This list is updated for the Philadelphia (incl South Jersey) region, but includes some vendors who deliver elsewhere (e.g. Boston is cited). Good way to help farmers and suppliers balance the load.

        *Some even have that nice flat industrial toilet paper* ;)

        Food distributors now sell restaurant-quality meat and produce directly to consumers

    • harpie says:

      6:27 PM · Apr 11, 2020

      COVID Update April 11: Today I spent on food— not (just) eating it. But what’s going on in the food banks, with food producers & for hungry people. Got the inside story on testing & contact tracing & a few others. Coming in about 90 minutes. Follow if interested.

      1/ Let’s talk about food, hoarding, hunger, food supply, food banks first tonight. // There is plenty of food. Plenty. We need to make sure it gets to the right places. The amount of hunger in major cities is bad and growing.

      The outlook for May is uncertain. 2/ [MORE]

      • harpie says:

        So I called a few food banks to figure out how things are impacting them. What I heard shocked me. It was a lot like the shortage economy impacting PPE. 8/ […]
        @BetoORourke told me told that Texas hasn’t been able to get rice or beans. He’s been raising money & finding volunteers for food banks. 11/
        I also could tell he wouldn’t mind finding some rice and beans himself.
        I think it’s like being out of bagels. 12/ [LOL!] […]

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      I’m inexpert, but bringing the supply back before the demand is counterintuitive, albeit it is also time-honored GOP policy.

  15. Rapier says:

    By May 1 or whatever date, surely near that one that Florida Man declares, large numbers of people are going to ignore any remaining distancing orders because of necessity or ideology. It’s a done deal. I suggest using your energy to plan what you are going to do. Which of course is based upon what one has to do or is willing to do or not do, to maintain your current life, and or how much your willing to risk to maintain it, and then how much you willing to let go.

    All an extreme calculus. We don’t know if infection levels, once fallen, will reflare but as of now they don’t seem to be in China. Which will be a big part of the calculus as time goes on.

    As a baseline it’s prudent to consider the virus will be in the wild for a couple more years.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      If micro-targeted information warfare can convince a substantial subset of the population to vote Republican, it can surely also convince these same people to go out to bars and restaurants and smash the windows of any business that refuses to open (Kristallnacht 2 to open the economy).

      • skua says:

        If the mob goes further in the destruction of unopened businesses, owners might gain returns in the form of insurance payouts.

        • Yancy says:

          I’ve not read any commercial insurance policies’ lists of coverages and exclusions la, only in the past, Also note that every state has their own Insurance Commission & Commission & turf wars over regs & enforcement.
          The insured’s casualty losses, liability cob, and business interruption losses that result from a pandemic (or a mass civil uprising or an act of war) are excluded from coverage.
          Additional riders (coverages added to policies for items/causes,, i.e.,an 8c diamond solitaire on homeowners policy) even if available, sky high premiums & unlikely to be purchased.
          LSS – Unlikely to produce revenue or call

  16. Peterr says:

    From Birx’s presser quoted above:

    Q What’s the reason they’re being used?

    DR. BIRX: Because when people get used to a single platform, they keep sending it back to that lab. So it’s getting in a queue to wait to get on a Roche machine, rather than being moved to this other lab that may have Abbott capacity. Because they’re all in different laboratories.

    Sorry, Doctor, but you’re way off base here.

    In an academic lab, a government lab, or a commercial lab, this dynamic certainly plays a role. “We already own machine A, we know how it works, and it gets the job done. If I’m going to replace it with machine B, I better have a damn good reason for doing so. I’ll have to convince the bean counters to pay for it and the lab staff to shift over to it, and ‘because I said so’ will not make that happen.” This is a standard debate in these labs as tests improve, new machines come out, software is upgraded, etc. There is a clear inertia that has to be overcome, and Birx is absolutely right about this dynamic — in those settings, that is.

    But we’re not talking about labs like these when we talk about the Abbott test. We’re talking about ER staff, who would jump at getting results in 15 minutes rather than 4-5 days. We’re talking about nursing home staff, who are dying alongside their residents because they can’t get results this fast. These folks do not have to be convinced to switch over — they just have to get their hands on the machines!

    If they have a choice between a point-of-care test and a mail-it-in-and-wait test FOR A CONTAGIOUS DISEASE, they will go with POC every damn time.

    If Birx doesn’t realize this, she needs to get out of the lab a bit more often and into the field.

    • blueedredcounty says:

      This! So totally true! Peterr, I wish you and your congregation a blessed Easter, and hope you all are able to return to enjoying each other’s company soon!

  17. Tom says:

    Maybe it’s time to revive Donald Jr’s Skittles analogy from a few years ago. Would you go out into a crowded location–public, work, recreation, or otherwise–knowing there are likely a few people (i.e., Skittles) out there carrying a virus that might make you sick and die, and/or that might make your family, friends, co-workers or other innocent bystanders very sick and die? In the absence of comprehensive testing for COVID-19, that’s what Trump and his team are expecting Americans to do, with the ripple effects spreading to other people right around the world. As with climate change, Trump seems unwilling or unable to take a global view of the situation.

    • vvv says:

      Pritzker (IL – awaiting his news conference now) said he got 15 test kits per machine, but was arranging for more direct from Abbot.

      • blueedredcounty says:

        Been hearing from my Chicago friends how awesome Pritzker is. And they should be able to arrange this with Abbott, I remember driving by one of their facilities on my way from IL to WI…it’s very visible right off I-294.

  18. Raven Eye says:

    A colleague of mine is a profligate “sharer” on Facebook. I typically “Hide all from…” about 99% of her sources. However, this one was worth keeping around: “They said he would run the country like his businesses. This is the part where he usually files for bankruptcy and runs.”

    • dude says:

      That admonition to “run government like a business” always gets under my skin. Yet an inordinate number of politicians, agency managers, and their wannabe understudies cling to it as though it were ordained by God. But I like the bankruptcy part–never heard that before.

      • P J Evans says:

        That’s a really bad way to run government – businesses exist to make money. Government exists to provide services that smaller groups can’t do – and making money isn’t actually in its mandate.”Provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare” are the biggies – and they require spending money.

        • orionATL says:

          p. j. –

          very nicely put.

          “the government” at all levels takes care for, and of, “the commons”. without it we would have thomas hobbe’s “a war of all against all” and the commons would be subdivided for mini-mansions on the slogan of “jobs, jobs, and more jobs – jobs forever”.

  19. Molly Pitcher says:

    Because this article is behind a paywall, I have posted a lot of it here, from today’s Daily Beast

    Here’s Where Coronavirus Hides in Your Body: There are two main takeaways from an important new study by a team of 18 scientists in Germany
    1)The novel coronavirus can stow away in your throat without you knowing it, and every time you cough you’re broadsiding the people around you with the virus.
    2)Population-wide efforts to control coronavirus might not be so straightforward. The coronavirus is a clever, elusive, and tough pathogen that could defy normal vaccines.

    Working in two separate laboratories, the scientists carefully studied the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the bodies of nine patients, taking daily measurements in order to understand each phase of the infection.

    The team completed its study in early March and, published its findings in the journal Nature this month. “Active virus-replication in the upper respiratory tract puts the prospects of covid-19 containment in perspective,” the scientists wrote.

    Close observers of coronavirus studies hailed the German team’s work. There’s “huge news” in the Nature paper, David Ostrov, a professor in the Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, told The Daily Beast.

    Good news:
    SARS-CoV-2 starts replicating in the throat, not the lungs. For that reason, a simple throat swab is enough to test for the virus. There’s probably no need for an intrusive, unpleasant nasal swab
    The virus mostly spreads from people coughing on each other. It’s a lot less likely that you’ll catch the coronavirus by touching the same touchpad or toilet handle as an infected person.

    The bad news:
    The antibodies our bodies produce in response to COVID-19 infection don’t actually destroy this virus. In that way, it is a lot like HIV

    Ostrov for his part focused on the German team’s findings on antibodies, which our bodies produce via a process called “seroconversion.”

    “When aligned to viral load courses, it seems there is no abrupt virus elimination at the time of seroconversion,” the scientists wrote. “Rather, seroconversion early in week two coincides with a slow but steady decline of sputum viral load.”

    “This means that the antibodies are not effective at clearing the virus,” Ostrov told The Daily Beast. “This is relevant when thinking about viruses and vaccines. HIV also stimulates production of antibodies that fail to clear the virus, as do many other viruses, such as hepatitis virus C.”

    Trouble ahead for vaccines? “People have tried and failed to generate vaccines against such viruses, so we should not be overconfident that a vaccine strategy will work,” Ostrov added.

    Instead of leaning on vaccines to inoculate us, doctors could treat SARS-CoV-2 infections like they do HIV. With a cocktail of drugs that manages, but does not eliminate, the infection.


    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, Molly. We need to avoid doing this much copy-paste because it’s outside of Fair Use (usually around 300 words or less). A summary in your own words and a link to the German study in Nature would have been acceptable.

      I don’t have confidence in the German study except that it confirms swabbing the throat (versus nasopharyngeal cavity) should work for screening. I’m skeptical because they didn’t find active virus in stool samples yet other researchers have found virus in fecal samples more than a week after patients were believed to be fully recovered* — and that makes qualifying who’s ready to return to work challenging.

      * Wu Y, Guo C, Tang L, et al. Prolonged presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral
      RNA in faecal samples.
      Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; published online March 19.

      • CCM says:

        The Germans were looking for the presence of the virus, the Asians looking for evidence of RNA. RNA in fragments can persist and given we swallow from the throat into the stomach it makes sense that RNA fragments will turn the stool test positive. I am not a virologist but my read of the article gave me the sense these authors knew what they were doing.

        • Rayne says:

          True, the Chinese study looked for RNA, but it’s this bit in the summary which gives me pause:

          Our data suggest the possibility of extended duration of viral shedding in faeces, for nearly 5 weeks after the patients’ respiratory samples tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Although knowledge about the viability of SARS-CoV-2 is limited,1 the virus could remain viable in the environment for days, which could lead to faecal–oral transmission, as seen with severe acute respiratory virus CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV.2 Therefore, routine stool sample testing with real-time RT-PCR is highly recommended after the clearance of viral RNA in a patient’s respiratory samples. Strict precautions to prevent transmission should be taken for patients who are in hospital or self-quarantined if their faecal samples test positive.

          Also this bioinformatics study (pre-print) which found the ileum had next highest concentration of ACE2 receptors next to lung tissue. Ileum could be a repository for virus which clears later than lungs.

          The digestive system is a potential route of 2019-nCov infection: a bioinformatics analysis based on single-cell transcriptomes
          Hao Zhang, Zijian Kang, Haiyi Gong, Da Xu, Jing Wang, Zifu Li, Xingang Cui, Jianru Xiao, Tong Meng, Wang Zhou, Jianmin Liu, Huji Xu
          bioRxiv 2020.01.30.927806; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.01.30.927806

          I continue to suspect we will see some differences in how this virus behaves based on culture — are there differences in localized diet, for example, which encourage the virus, or perhaps influence the number of ACE2 receptors the virus attacks?

        • Rayne says:

          Not a guideline, Molly, but copyright law in the U.S.; under Fair Use a small amount of copyrighted material can be used for educational purposes, but if the use undermines the value of the content (discourages subscription, for example), the copyright holder may file a DMCA takedown notice.

      • it's complicated says:

        I might be misreading this, but the gist I get from the Lancet article seems to be “we found lots of RNA, but hard to know if complete infectious viruses” and the gist from the german one seems to be “we found a lot of virus RNA but no infectious viruses” (how do they test/know that?)
        Which would be a piece of good news.

        P.S.: below the Nature article there is a comment that I have no way to evaluate. Publishing on linkedin does smell funny to me.

        • Rayne says:

          I can’t see what you’re seeing below the German study, either a comment or reference to LinkedIn. Might have to do with your own device — browser used, cookies saved, so on.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            It is a comment by Marian Laderoute, Ph.D. Medical Sciences – Immunology Ottawa, Ontario Canada
            Hervk102 @ _______ .ca
            discussing “The lack of correlation of viral load with seroconversion in part may be explained by HERV-K102, a protector foamy virus of humans.” then a discussion of HERV-K102 and the comment that “In the cases where there appeared to be a relapse around day 18 from the sputum samples in terms of viral load, perhaps in part, the patient may have had insufficient lysine to support HERV-K102 particle production that day as lysine is an essential amino acid and must come from the diet.”

            I would really like to hear a medically astute person translate that.

            • it's complicated says:

              Thank you, that’s what I saw, too.
              That person seems to be a long-retired researcher with some interesting history, so no crackpot, but maybe a bit out of touch. I wouldn;t know:)
              And human embedded retroviruses sure sound COOL.

            • Rayne says:

              That’s very interesting and definitely needs further consideration. It suggests not reinfection but reactivation of the virus. If the patient hasn’t been eating well before and after exposure, exacerbated by coughing, gastrointestinal distress, and then loss of taste/smell, their systems could be low in lysine.

              Might be worth trying a dietary program like ERAS (enhanced recovery after surgery) protocol with an eye to protein content and probiotics, in order to reduce likelihood of virus reactivation.

              (btw, I ‘broke’ the email address you included in your comment so that the doctor isn’t spammed.)

            • Frank Probst says:

              I’m not really sure what this person is trying to say. “Eat well” is the overall message, but I don’t really understand why they zeroed in on lysine so quickly.

          • P J Evans says:

            I see it in one of the comments. I *think* it’s linking to the author’s page at LinkedIn, but that site tends to block all non-members.

    • CCM says:

      Would I be Captain Obvious by saying that if true this is really game changing? So shitty I should buy stock in the funeral business. So shitty that I hope it’s wrong. So shitty that the suckit-tude my job as an intensivist has become will stay that way for quite some time, if I stay alive. Think I have a 90% chance of staying alive. Rayne, please do not nit-pick that stat.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Heartwarming news to those selling drugs; everyone else, not so much. It will be necessary to have the results replicated a few times, with larger number of patients. It would also be useful to have it synthesized with other studies, such those in Hong Kong concerning the “re-emergence” of the virus.

      So much for the UK’s once-and-future policy to do little (and avoid exposing the weaknesses of a chronically under-funded NHS) and wait for one’s population to develop herd immunity. Do the Brits have herd immunity to HIV?

      Among other things, this study heightens the need for massive, fast, and readily available testing, as well as effective masks and other PPE. Use that DPA NOW Donald. That equipment will be vital in reducing the size and frequency of inevitably recurring waves.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump metionned Eugene Scalia, the current Sec’y of Labor, several times yesterday, as being part of his Covid-19 Fix-it crew. Presumably, he intends that Scalia will come up with guidance about changing labor standards, practices, and accountability during and “after” this pandemic. As usual, Trump could not have made a worse pick.

    Scalia, son of the late S.Ct. Justice Antonin Scalia, is a longtime anti-labor lawyer and conservative hack. Frequently in OMB or labor departments for Republican presidents, he reverts to his white shoe law firm during Democratic ones. He is the right’s go-to guy whenever industry needs to lobotomize attempted improvements in fair labor standards.

    In an earlier administration, Scalia personally spiked an attempt to adopt worker-friendly, European-like workplace ergonomics standards. The abattoirs and chicken and fish processing giants hated them. They would have slowed down production lines to something humans could tolerate, and allow them to use the toilet once a day and still use their backs and hands at the end of the day. Thousands of yearly workplace injuries – including permanent long-term disabilities – continue owing to his efforts.

    If Scalia is on Trump’s Fix-it team, it is to make sure no temporary or permanent measures to improve workplace standards limit corporate profits. That’s also why he’s Sec’y of Labor. After all, the left should not be allowed to use a temporary crisis to enact measures they desire, but which harm capital. Capital, of course, does the reverse during every crisis.

    • greengiant says:

      Same Washington post article. ” ordered county officials to ship the kits to labs with CDC contracts on the East Coast” which could explain California’s backlog of 12,000 to 65,000 pending tests from March 23 to April 3, which seemed to be mostly negative results pending. And explain Cuomo’s public messaging to CDC to wake up and allow New York to do local testing. From covidtracking.com , New York positives climbed from 6 on March 4th to 121 on March 8th to 421 on March 13th.
      The commercial clinical labs Quest and Labcorp know who butters their bread. Seems to me Labcorp was only giving “tests” to state and hospitals to ration testing until around March 22 or so.

  21. Rugger9 says:

    Apparently Ivanka is being tapped for the next coronavirus task farce because Daddy says she created 15 million jobs (no, she did not. Of course “Nepotism Barbie” has legs as a meme, but who’s minding the children if she and Jared are engaged in the task forces?

  22. Molly Pitcher says:

    My son’s boss’s wife is a nurse at Stanford Hospital. His boss has spent the last few weeks there because their newly born baby girl just had a heart transplant and only one of them is allowed to be with her, no in and out, 24/7 with her.

    His wife is in the main hospital caring for Covid 19 patients. Son’s boss just said that the number of Covid patients and the severity of their symptoms has decreased so much, the hospital has sent back all of their traveling nurses.

    California, and the Bay Area in particular have done a really good job of flattening the curve, but the hospital does not want to announce this for fear that people will act like it’s all over. We are a long way from that, but it is heartening to hear this.

    BTW, baby is doing well.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is Mike Bloomberg bidding to be the next Paul Manafort? A firm Bloomberg owns, Hawkfish, which ran his campaign, is apparently make a low-ball bid to run Joe Biden’s. Almost for free. After decades of Apple, Microsoft, Google, and their brethren, its become a truism that if something is free, you’re the product.

    If Joe Biden accepts – why should he, he has plenty of money – it will give Bloomberg significant control over Biden’s campaign and access to whopping amounts of crucial data, from which Bloomberg can make another fortune and control the DNC for years.

    There’s an obvious reason why Michael Bloomberg – a once and future Republican – crashed and burned so quickly in the Democratic primaries. There’s a reason why he ran on his money rather than in an attempt to make himself known – actually, he hid himself – and to get out the vote. The reason is Michael Bloomberg. How ’bout, Just Say No, Joe?


    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I can see the logic in what you are saying, but I’m not sure that Joe has all that much money in his campaign. I agree withe the free/ you are the customer axiom, but it is also a way for Bloomberg to oppose Trump with in the guidelines of the election laws.

    • P J Evans says:

      I agree that Bloomberg wants something from Joe – he’s not doing all this out of the goodness of his heart, any more than Steyer is. (I’m not sure that Bloomberg *has* a heart.)

  24. Matthew Harris says:

    The one error in your points is that reopening the economy isn’t up the state governors—it is up to consumers, businesses and organizations.

    Even if every state government in the US removed all guidelines, and said “Go hog wild!”, consumers aren’t going to respond by going back to their old behaviors. Some will. But I don’t believe that the minute the government says so, people are going to be rushing to fly to Disney World. I mean, some people are, but if the disease resurges, not enough people will be travelling or engaging in entertainment and hospitality to make those businesses revenue positive. Airlines, hotels, resorts, restaurants and conventions are not going to be opened up, no matter what anyone says.

    • P J Evans says:

      That’s because they won’t have money. Which is on the feds and the states: unemployment isn’t much and neither is the “stimulus” (because too many politicians think that business = economy).

      • greengiant says:

        Possibly a larger factor is that when people did have money a lot of them chose on their own to stop dining out etc. Companies stopped international and then national travel. Disney closed destinations before government orders world wide.
        Governors and local governments do have power. At the state level they are abolishing late fees and evictions for the duration. They are telling businesses to specifically shut down or legal to stay open. They are directing workplace safety standards,.gathering sizes and defining essential travel. Los Angeles is directing that the public wear masks at essential businesses. The local governments give information and empower people to take actions that are not required. The GOP and big money who did not sell short have a losing hand here.

        • P J Evans says:

          LA is letting businesses decide whether or not to require masks – some do, some don’t. It *does* mean that you have to have a mask or something that can be used as one, at all times – not everyone does.

        • Vicks says:

          Trump is a great salesmen but even the easiest marks are going to have a problem getting “back at it” while people are dying all around them.
          You also have to consider that it may not be economically sensible for a company to reopen If there is no way in hell they will be able to do the volume needed to turn a profit.
          These social distancing rules are incredibly important but they are also just about impossible to work into most successful business plans

  25. bloopie2 says:

    Just found a 1964 precursor to Trump–Professor Groeteschele (Walter Matthau) in Sidney Lumet’s “Fail Safe”. Discussing what should happen after New York City was nuked: “Our immediate problem would be the joint one of fire control and excavation. Excavation not of the dead. The effort would be wasted there. Even though there are no irreplaceable government documents in the city, many of our largest corporations keep their records there. It will be necessary to … rescue as many of those records as we can. Our economy depends on this. Our economy depends on this.”
    I’ve seen that film many times. Now, the horror of such people really comes home to me.

    • it's complicated says:

      Oh, “Fail Safe”.
      A wonderful, underestimated film. I absolutely recommend watching it.

    • Tom says:

      Less well known but with a similar theme is “The Bedford Incident” from 1965 with Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, and a very young Donald Sutherland.

      • bmaz says:

        The Bedford Incident is an excellent flick. Have not seen it in forever. Maybe it will pop up on TCM.

        Clooney and Dreyfus did a live play of Failsafe a while back. It was okay, but the original movie far better. The cast in the original was superb, including a very young Larry Hagman and, believe it or not, Dom DeLuise in a serious role.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          On orders, Dom gave the game away after Fritz tried to let the bombers through to Russia. Fonda played a great president, articulate and measured, despite the world coming close to extinction. His wife was visiting NYC – “He knows” – and he did what he had to do to stop WWIII anyway. Trump would have picked Cleveland, or sat in a corner sucking his thumb.

          Hard to watch a serious take after Kubrick’s farce, but the ending is worth it. Lumet did a splendid job.

          • vvv says:

            I recall reading that novel in, like 7th grade, *Failsafe*. I do believe I had to re-read it for one class or another in HS. Scared the hell out of me.

  26. Lex says:

    It’s not always easy to bring new analytical capability on line with new SOPs, QA/QC, etc. But Brix’s statement is bullshit. The laboratory community is pretty plugged into itself in terms of communication. Our preferred microbiology lab already has a PCR method for surface sampling and analysis. They’ve requested limits on swab orders to what’s necessary but can and are running analysis. Little things like making QA/QC public and shared would help. And I thought the whole camechanger about the abbot system was that it used the equipment already widely in use for flu/strep testing. There are supposedly already 18,000 analytical units at POC facilities. This might not be the most accurate, but that would just mean that health care would use the abbot as a screening tool and lab tests as confirmation. Positive from quick test, that’s enough. Negative from it prompts a confirmation lab test. It’s hard not to conclude that American science has now been thoroughly politicized and corrupted.

    • Rayne says:

      The Abbott COVID-19 testing is not designed for high throughput, just as its flu/strep testing isn’t. And unlike flu, a false negative can have far more deadly consequences.

      Public health has been politicized, yes, but there’s no getting around numbers.

  27. orionATL says:

    i am addicted to VOX. they have so many fine articles explaining or summarizing the flood of raw news.

    here is a good article discussing the epidemiological modeling that is behind predictions that will drive policy to some extent both with respect to overload and possible breakdown of the medical system (and, as we are learning, to public transportation and other public services), a major worry, and to deaths.


    about half way down in the article is a key point to remember when we are inclined to say somethingnlike “oh, those dumb-assed (politicians, high-level specialist, medical administrators, modelers, researchers, etc.)”. it’s what makes the social sciences so tricky sometimes – human beings are feedback mechanisms par excellance.

    every effort at modeling must consider that the publized results of that effort may change en masse the behavior being modelled. modeling that estimated as many as a quarter of a million deaths got our attention – and maybe, briefly, Don trump’s too. keeping out of group situations, seperate from each other, washing hands frequently and well, wearing masks. all those non-pill-popping, non-pharmaceutical interventions that we adopted quickly – unless we poppped too much fox news – probably dropped the modelled death toll, not to mention serious illnesses.

    • Rayne says:

      That last graf…what exactly do you think we’re doing here? We’re trying to both publicize the problems and encourage a change in behavior.

      It’s the observation effect at societal level.

      • orionATL says:


        maybe i don’t understand your point, rayne, but on first reading it seems a little sharp. is it o.k. if i express here at emptywheel my enthusiasm and thoughts from reading an interesting article. or do i need to get your approval first.

        for sure you leave the impression you can kill enthusiasm with your sharp tongue.

          • orionATL says:

            one implication of your comment to me was that i was not paying attention to what this post and its commentary were about. to the contrary, i picked this because i thought a comment about modeling and human behavior using this thoughtful article from vox would fit here very nicely.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Modeling is fine as a tool, but every model has assumptions that must be tested and validated before making decisions like “reopening” the economy with lives at stake. However, the “frat boy” and “economist” task farces will pay no attention to that requirement. Laffer doesn’t understand where we actually are on his famous curve even though Krugman proved it some time ago (PK has a Nobel prize, and Laffer has a Trump Presidential Medal of Freedom, so which is more impressive for economic skill?) and Kudlow’s appearances on TV makes everyone wonder whether he was drunk. If these both go forward, how are the lines of authority and responsibility split between Pence’s “official” task force with the medical talent and these other two? Someone needs to ask this question.

      • orionATL says:

        the article can be very useful in thinking effectively about the illness and policy quagmire we are trying to make our way through.

        the trick is not only making wise decisions but in these high stress circumstances deciding who is the enemy and who is not. or in better keeping with the metaphor, who is a more or less trustworthy guide and who definitely is not.

  28. harpie says:


    He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus
    An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-response.html April 11, 2020
    Updated 4:33 p.m.

    80 pages of DOCUMENTS:

    • harpie says:

      Here’s a summary thread by David Sanger:
      1:10 PM · Apr 11, 2020

      Some highlights from our NYT team: The NSC office responsible for tracking pandemics received intel in early Jan. predicting the spread of the virus and warned that shutting down cities could be on the table. Mr. Trump avoided those steps until March. [link] 1/9 […]

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Eric Lipton’s thread:
      12:21 PM · Apr 11, 2020

      […] As part of our reporting, The NYT obtained hundreds of emails among a group of the top pandemic experts in the US–doctors at HHS, DHS, State, VA, as well as former gov drs–as they watched the pandemic unfold in the United States. Here are some of their observations. […]

      The group called itself Red Dawn, an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. They were alarmed from the start. [screenshots][…]

      • harpie says:

        Lipton thread:

        […] When Trump gave his [3/11/20] speech from the White House, announcing that US would ban flights from Europe, the medical experts–including some of his own advisers–were baffled. The virus was ALREADY here and spreading fast. […]

        Two quotes from the e-mails:

        “We really need to protect providers who care for Covid-19 patients. We must protect them because they are invaluable resources and we don’t have enough.”-Dr. Eva K. Lee

        “We are making every misstep leaders initially made in table-tops at the outset of pandemic planning in 2006. -James V. Lawler]

        • Eureka says:

          “We really need to protect providers who care for Covid-19 patients. We must protect them because they are invaluable resources and we don’t have enough.”-Dr. Eva K. Lee

          They need to be wrapped up like babies in snowsuits ahead of an artic blizzard — and then some. And yet most are not. Where’d those Tyvek suits go, the ones “we” (the taxpayers) helped DuPont to make? Not enough left for sale to go around and last through a pandemic, especially at 3x the price?

          Anyway, I have PPE envy, always have since the common photos from China.

          However, I am thankful that I can massage my husband’s scalp and face of strap- and mask- dents (trying to help maintain skin integrity) — at least he has that — albeit after showering-off any SARS-CoV-2 aerosols (with great success, we hope).

          Surreal, just fucking surreal, and all of the news items about what Jared/Trump admin has/hasn’t done — especially wrt commandeering/ routing / prioritizing supplies (which are made/when) — are **absolute spears** because there is always a real-life story or implication to go with them.

          I also just caught a convo here from earlier this week where CCM spoke of the eyerolls given some CDC recs, and could not agree more: they have, in various iterations, utterly betrayed healthcare workers’ safety (What, a bandana’s not sufficient masking for you?).

          Cities across the US have refrigerator trucks either in use or on standby. This didn’t have to happen.

          • Eureka says:

            link re the Tyvek suits:

            Adding: and this is generally why I remain silent. Besides busy-ness, gravity, unable to really speak on what’s bothersome… there are just too many things to be pissed about.

            What a white-hot tragic rage these criminals against humanity have caused. Also, this respiratory malari-aids monster will be with us for a long while: this is not a sustainable lifestyle to keep up, with death-risks on the daily.

            • Eureka says:

              BTW, that’s a loose metaphorical way I think of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, not a remark on what people think of as the main biological features of those other diseases.

              And by ‘not sustainable lifestyle’, I mean the weird yet reasonable shit HCW and their families are doing to adapt to chronic and acute risks, besides passive adjustments like not getting anything done around the house because ‘hard day at work’ every day, etc. I can’t wait for the part where mitigation gets relaxed absent mass testing (though to be fair in that regard, I have confidence in my locality/ state). It’s just that this new creature will be a feature, not a bug…

            • Eureka says:

              Thank you harpie, bmaz, and Jim — you are awesome, I appreciate your kindness, and all you ‘wheelers are in my thoughts as well. Jim, I know your daughter is out working, too, and hope she’s ok with how her pharmacy is handling things (of course she probably has too many stories to tell).

              I am generally at peace, but man that particular NBC news article (along with yet more ‘we knew it was coming and tried’ / Red Dawn emails) really just… I lack words for the level of piqued disgust, contempt for the whole lot of them. Per usual, true, but they are all just so heedlessly diabolical. ‘Devil may care…’, as the saying goes.

      • harpie says:

        Lipton ends with this:

        As newspaper reporter-living through this in real time obviously as we are all-it was chilling to read these emails and watch this disaster unfold, day by day, as fed gov medical experts attempted to urge political leaders to act. “Flying blind”

        One thing I often think abt as a reporter is that we often assume history is fated somehow to occur the way it did. Not so. It is individual choices made by powerful people (and sometimes not so powerful ones) during critical history-defining moments. Like this one.

        From: Carter Mecher
        Sent: Friday, February 28, 2020 9:26AM
        Subject: RE: Red Dawn Breaking Bad. Start February 24

        I think this data is close enough to convince people that this is going to be bad and we will need to pull the full array of Nis (TLC). All that is left is when (timing).

        I went back to our comparisons of Philadelphia and St. Louis in 1918. […]

        So we have a relatively narrow window and we are flying blind.

        Looks like Italy missed it.”

    • harpie says:

      U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic
      March 20, 2020 at 8:10 p.m.

      […] Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.

      “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” this official said.

      “The system was blinking red.”

      12:56 PM · Apr 11, 2020

      On February 26, Trump was scheduled to meet with top infectious disease experts to discuss urgent social distancing steps. Instead, the meeting was cancelled bc Trump was mad about bad press. Then Pence took over & pissed away 3 weeks before taking action.

      • harpie says:

        FEBRUARY 26, 2020 TRUMP TWEETS:
        8:03 AM · Feb 26, 2020

        Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov

        …to which Aaron Rupar responds: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1232655003740971008
        8:13 AM · Feb 26, 2020

        “Disruption to everyday life might be severe … While I didn’t think they were at risk right now, we as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives.” — Dr. Nancy Messonnier, CDC vaccine expert, not a cable news pundit

        Then Messonier was attacked for being part of the “deep state” and trying to tank markets to weaken Trump and because she is Rod Rosenstein’s sister.

  29. orionATL says:

    here is another useful public edcation article on epidemiological models and their effect on public policy and the course of the sars-cov-2 :


    the title is a bit cute, but the article is informative in the same way that this vox article cited above (4/[email protected]:56am) was:


    i’ve looked thru this entire post and its comments. the two articles i have cited are the only two articles i noticed that directly discuss what models do. that seems like a useful contribution, given their important devision making role.

    keep in mnd that as we get the large-scale testing the nation desperately needs, modeling will be the way sense is made of the results of that testing andvthus a major input to future government policies.

  30. orionATL says:

    “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

    – donald john trump jan 23, 2016:

    the smoke rises from the gun that has killed some thousands of americans:

    “…Prominent US public health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci appeared on Sunday to confirm a bombshell New York Times report which said he and other Trump administration officials recommended the implementation of physical distancing to combat the coronavirus in February, but were rebuffed for almost a month.

    Asked on CNN’s State of the Union why the administration did not act when he and other officials advised, Fauci said: “You know … as I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint. We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes, it’s not…

    “…It is what it is. We are where we are right now.”

    More than 530,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the US, with almost 21,000 deaths. Officials currently expect a death toll of about 60,000 by August…”


  31. harpie says:

    There’s a photo at the beginning of the following entertaining, infuriating thread.

    9:25 PM · Apr 13, 2020

    You wanna know what white privilege is? Let’s look at the credentials for the “Council to Reopen America”

    1. Mark Meadows: Not only is Mark Meadows not a doctor, but his official gov’t bio also says he only holds a bachelor’s degree. That is a lie. [THREAD]

    [JAVANKA] […]

    Larry Kudlow makes Wilbur Ross look like Hustle Man from the Fif Flo.

    Ross is essentially Mr. Smithers from The Simpsons. He loves to get broke corporations back on their feet by taking from employees. By 1998, he had been involved in 1/3 of the biggest bankruptcies in history.

    I don’t know how, but Wilbur Ross made so much money in bankruptcies that he became rich. He even showed a broke casino owner how to stop investors from taking over his 3 business even though (excuse me while I switch to all caps)


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