By Robert A. Vella
Imagine terrorists or a hostile foreign power detonating a nuclear bomb in a medium-sized U.S. city that instantly killed 100,000 people. America and the world would be in an uproar and rightly so. This Thursday, May 28th 2020, will mark exactly three months since the first COVID-19 death occurred in the U.S. Later today, the nation’s confirmed death toll from the coronavirus pandemic will surpass 100,000 (although the actual number is undoubtedly much higher). That’s an average of over 1,111 fatalities per day. Are Americans shocked? No, but they are deeply concerned. Public outrage erupts much more violently to sudden disasters than to catastrophes which transpire over time; however, the net effects are similar in the end.
In a word, death is carnage no matter how it was initially perceived.
Intriguingly, that’s the word President Trump used in his inauguration speech to disparage his predecessor (See: As we stare down 100,000 dead, Trump’s dark image of ‘American carnage’ has been realized). In an ironic display of psychological projection, or perhaps even a Freudian slip, Trump’s slanderous remark turned out to be quite prophetic (much to his chagrin). Carnage is what’s happening now right before our very eyes. The more Trump and his sycophants try to deceive the public by denying the obvious reality, the less trust Americans have in him. A president who is untrustworthy is a president without a political future. P. T. Barnum once reportedly said:
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
Consider that adage with Vice President Mike Pence‘s bold statement from a month ago:
“I truly do believe that if we all continue to do that kind of social distancing and other guidance broadly from federal and state officials, that we’re going to put this coronavirus in the past. I believe by early June we’re going to see our nation largely past this epidemic…. I think honestly, if you look at the trends today, that I think by Memorial Day weekend we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.”
Yesterday was Memorial Day. Here’s today’s news:
(Reuters) – Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 for the week ended May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week, as the death toll from the novel coronavirus approaches 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis.
South Carolina had the biggest weekly increase at 42%. Alabama’s new cases rose 28% from the previous week, Missouri’s rose 27% and North Carolina’s rose 26%, according to the analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.
New cases in Georgia, one of the first states to reopen, rose 21% after two weeks of declines. (Open https://tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive)
Nationally, new cases of COVID-19 fell 0.8% for the week ended May 24, compared with a decline of 8% in the prior week.
While the U.S. has reported more cases and deaths than any other country, the method for counting COVID-19 deaths varies by state. In testimony before the Senate earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the actual number of people who’ve died as a result of the pandemic is “almost certainly” higher than what’s been counted.
Such data has been the basis for how quickly states are beginning to open up and return to a sense of normalcy. But government officials in a number of states are facing questions about how open and honest they’re being about how the virus is impacting their state.
Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, has transformed its facilities across the country since legions of its workers started getting sick from the novel coronavirus. It has set up on-site medical clinics, screened employees for fevers at the beginning of their shifts, required the use of face coverings, installed plastic dividers between stations and taken a host of other steps to slow the spread.
Despite those efforts, the number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus has exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 today, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.
What has happened at Tyson — and in the meat industry overall — shows how difficult it is to get the nation back to normal, even in essential fields such as food processing. Meat companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on measures such as protective gear, paid leave and ventilation systems since they were forced to shut dozens of plants that were among the top coronavirus hot spots outside urban areas.
But the industry has still experienced a surge in cases, and some companies say they are limited in just how much they can keep workers separated from one another. Only a portion of the labor force has gone back to work — some workers kept away on purpose — and the nation’s meat supply remains deeply strained as barbecue season gets underway.
From: ‘Something isn’t right’: U.S. probes soaring beef prices (emphasis by The Secular Jurist)
Supermarket customers are paying more for beef than they have in decades during the coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time, the companies that process the meat for sale are paying farmers and ranchers staggeringly low prices for cattle.
Now, the Agriculture Department and prosecutors are investigating whether the meatpacking industry is fixing or manipulating prices.
The Department of Justice is looking at the four largest U.S. meatpackers — Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Cargill — which collectively control about 85 percent of the U.S. market for the slaughter and packaging of beef, according to a person with knowledge of the probe. The USDA is also investigating the beef price fluctuations, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has confirmed.
Meatpackers say beef prices have spiked during the pandemic because plants are running at lower capacity as workers fall ill, so less meat is making its way to shelves. The four companies didn’t respond to requests for comment about the probes.
But the coronavirus crisis is highlighting how the American system of getting meat to the table favors a handful of giant companies despite a century of government efforts to decentralize it. And it’s sparking new calls for changes in meatpacking.