By Robert A. Vella
How many Americans got infected with COVID-19 and how many died because of political resistance against mobilizing effective government responses to the coronavirus pandemic? Research now indicates that the number of preventable cases and fatalities is staggering. Nearly 1 million infections and over 50,000 deaths need not have happened had the federal and many state governments took the threat seriously and took immediate action based on medical science. Which political leaders are most guilty of this dereliction of duty? Obviously, President Trump tops the list by a huge margin. Republican governors in red-states , who largely had much more warning time to prepare, hesitated to act appropriately and then recklessly rushed forward with economic reopening plans. But, New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo is also somewhat culpable because his very effective responses to the crisis were implemented too slowly.
The director of the beleaguered Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued another warning about an impending second wave of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. amid public apprehension over reopening the economy too quickly, growing concerns that government officials are underreporting or misreporting the true scale of the contagion, and mounting frustration over the counterproductive political priorities of the White House.
The Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment report announced an additional 2+ million jobless claims raising the total number of layoffs during the pandemic to nearly 40 million.
A new 2020 election model, which focuses primarily on economic conditions, indicates an even worse scenario for President Trump’s reelection chances than does either public polling or internal analysis by the two major political parties. The GOP leadership, which is stuck with Trump whether they like it or not, has resorted to advancing contrived conspiracy theories about the likely Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden. They realize that Trump’s reputation cannot be salvaged, and that their best strategy to win in November rests on tearing down his opponent.
Here’s the news:
Had states across the country begun issuing stay-at-home orders just one week before they did, nearly 36,000 people would not have died and more than 700,000 positive virus cases avoided, new research from Columbia University shows.
Social distancing for two weeks before when most people began staying at home could have prevented a stunning 54,000 deaths and 960,000 cases, the researchers found.
Many states told residents to stay home in mid-March, however, research indicates the virus had already reached community spread in some places, like New York City, by then. The researchers found that at least 17,500 deaths in the New York metropolitan area alone could have been prevented had social distancing measures been enacted a week earlier.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Financial Times that he “can’t guarantee” whether or not a second round of stay-at-home orders is coming for the United States in the winter as the new coronavirus may see a second wave that coincides with cold weather and a flu season.
At least 5 million people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard, showing the massive global reach of the pandemic.
Epidemiologists say the number of cases around the world may actually be far higher than what is known as testing capacity lags, some countries may not be fully reporting data, and people sick with the virus may not seek a test or may be asymptomatic.
While the public was kept in the dark, top Florida health officials were scrambling to come up with a plan for a crisis they knew was upon them, according to internal Florida Department of Health data and communications obtained by the Miami Herald.
The records show that on Feb. 13 DOH assembled an emergency response team. The team’s mission: “Contain the spread of the virus.” It also began preparing for N95 mask shortages and privately providing pandemic protocols to long-term care facilities, warning them about the risks the virus posed to elderly residents.
DOH and the governor’s office did not respond to questions for this story.
State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees would not declare a public health emergency until DeSantis directed him to do so on March 1. The emergency gave the department more authority, resources and flexibility to reassign staff.
The records obtained by the Herald show that Washington, D.C., where President Donald Trump routinely downplayed the threat of the virus, wasn’t the only place where pandemic concerns were being muted. It was also happening in a state run by DeSantis, Trump’s close ally. Trump was concerned about spooking the stock market. Florida relies on a healthy image to attract tourists, including the crush of young people who flock to the state’s beaches for spring break.
Some scientists looking for ways to prevent a return to exponential growth in coronavirus infections after lockdowns are lifted are zeroing in on a new approach: focus on avoiding superspreading events.
The theory is that banning mass public events where hundreds of attendees can infect themselves in the space of a few hours, along with other measures such as wearing face masks, might slow the pace of the new coronavirus’s progression to a manageable level even as shops and factories reopen.
Researchers believe that the explosive growth of coronavirus infections that overwhelmed hospitals in some countries was primarily driven by such events earlier this year—horse races in Britain, carnival festivities in the U.S. and Germany or a soccer match in Italy.
About 2.4 million Americans filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as the health and economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus ruptures a growing number of industries.
In just nine weeks, 38.6 million have sought jobless benefits that represent the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs.
The latest claims tally was down from the 3 million who filed claims the week before, and the record 6.9 million who sought assistance in late March. Initial applications for unemployment insurance have now steadily declined seven weeks in a row.
But the tens of millions of Americans who have applied for assistance in just over two months is a staggering number, reflecting a 14.7% jobless rate that is the highest since the Great Depression.
President Donald Trump could suffer a historic defeat in the fall if the economy doesn’t sharply recover from the coronavirus pandemic and the disease lingers, according to a model that has predicted the winner of the popular vote in 16 of the past 18 elections.
Oxford Economics predicts Trump would lose to Democrat Joe Biden by a margin of 65% to 35%, using a model based on the pioneering political-forecasting work of Yale economist Ray Fair.
How bad is that? William Howard Taft was the last president running for reelection to win fewer than 35% of the vote, when he finished third in 1912 behind Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.
With the nation struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and a severe economic downturn, there’s an enormous amount of work Senate Republicans could be doing. The Senate Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees, in particular, could be tackling meaningful issues.
But it’s an election year; the party is terrified of steep losses; and GOP leaders have decided to follow the orders Donald Trump is barking, without regard for propriety or merit. Politico reported this week:
Mitch McConnell can’t afford any tension with President Donald Trump. So he’s doing everything he can to keep his fragile majority in sync with Trump and his explosive election-year playbook. Just three days after Trump berated McConnell on Twitter to “get tough” with Democrats and probe the 2016 Russia investigation that ensnared Trump’s campaign, the Senate majority leader took to the floor to echo the president’s misgivings in a way he declined to do last week.