Tag Archives: Coronavirus

Don’t Worry, America, Jared Kushner Is Going to Save You From COVID-19

Don’t Worry, America, Jared Kushner Is Going to Save You From COVID-19
By Molly Jong-Fast
https://www.yahoo.com/news/don-t-worry-america-jared-080530606.html

Wednesday, during the latest installment of his daily briefings that have become must-see TV, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he spoke with Jared Kushner. You know Kushner—the president’s son-in-law. The president’s son-in-law is a member of the president’s COVID-19 taskforce, but he is not a doctor or an elected official. In fact, Jared has no experience handling pandemics, or any medical background whatsoever. Jared Kushner doesn’t know about science or medicine but Cuomo must appeal to him for help from the federal government.

And that’s not the only place the president’s son-in-law has popped up the last few days.  One of the biggest questions we’ve all been puzzling over is, why won’t the president invoke the wartime Defense Production Act to force companies to make ventilators?

He “signed two executive orders citing provisions of the Defense Production Act” but then refused to use those provisions. Later it was revealed that Trump refused to use the wartime law “reportedly after corporations successfully lobbied his top adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” Meanwhile, Cuomo holds continual pressers that have the same refrain again and again: “We need the federal help, and we need the federal help now.”

As the pandemic fills New York City’s morgues, the president has decided to bring in the very best and smartest people. For Donald Trump, that’s his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And it just makes sense, since Jared has already brought peace to the Middle East and innovated America within an inch of its life with his office of American innovation. Now it’s time for the young slumlord to once again fail upwards. This time, hundreds of thousands of American lives are at stake, but I mean, Jared did go to Harvard (via a $2.5 million donation), so…

First, Jared explained to his father-in-law that the media was making too much of the whole pandemic thing. “Mr. Kushner’s early involvement with dealing with the virus was in advising the president that the media’s coverage exaggerated the threat,” according to The New York Times. Sounds like Kushner agreed with Lou Dobbs—you know, Fox Business Channel’s Lou Dobbs, who’s in quarantine right now because he was exposed to liberal hoax COVID-19.

But wait, there’s more. It turns out that Jared is as good at handling a pandemic as he is at Middle East peace. First, he asked his brother’s wife’s dad for advice on handling the outbreak. Dr Kurt Kloss (father of model Karlie) wrote on Facebook, “If you were in charge of Federal response to the Pandemic what would your recommendation be. Please only serious responses. I have direct channel to person now in charge at White House and have been asked for recommendations.” I mean it makes sense, since he’s a doctor and Facebook is a highly regarded and peer-reviewed medical journal.

Then Jared got going on what he does best, innovation. You’ll recall that error-filled Oval Office address, followed by the error-filled Rose Garden address, and the promise, as the Times reported, that “Google had developed a coronavirus testing website that did not exist. Mr. Kushner was deeply involved in both efforts, and had sold his father-in-law on the website as a smart concept.”

This fiasco ended with Dr Deborah Birx holding a large poster board of a Google testing site that doesn’t exist. But that was a week ago. Since that innovation, we learn that Trump has pivoted to an Easter society-restart date. and Jared may have had his hand in that too. As Vanity Fair reported, “Jared is bringing conspiracy theories to Trump about potential treatments,” leading Trump to think he can ignore the person who actually knows about pandemics and public health, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

But Jared’s not the only one in the Trump family hoping to use the pandemic to grow their brand. Ivanka is trying her hand at being a coronavirus lifestyle influencer. When she came into contact with the Australian minister Peter Dutton and was sent home to isolate, Ivanka then suggested a faux -out with her children: “Staying home today w/ kids? Plan living room camp out!” she suggested on Tuesday, alongside a photo, taken a few years ago, of her hanging out with the children in a tent made out of sheets. Plan a menu & ‘pack’ sandwiches, salads (S’mores optional)! A fun activity that also brings family together for a meal!”  

The irony is that Ivanka’s dad is famous for putting immigrant children in tent cities in the hopes of owning the libs. But Ivanka’s COVID-influencer lifestyle seems to have ended. She tested negative (there seem to be unlimited COVID-19 tests for the royal family) and is back at work in the White House doing whatever it is she does.

One might find the fact that one in 1,000 people in the New York City metro area are infected with COVID-19 terrifying. But not me. No, I have confidence that the president’s son-in-law will handle this with his usual competence. I mean, we have peace in the Middle East now so… Wait, we don’t? Oh well then. I would say we’re all in a lot of trouble. But if we survive, just think about how good this will be for the Trump brand and for Ivanka’s 2024 run. If we don’t die, that is.

Coronavirus: Man who licked goods on supermarket shelf arrested on terror charge

Coronavirus: Man who licked goods on supermarket shelf arrested on terror charge
By Ryan Merrifield
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/coronavirus-man-who-licked-goods-21749577

The man filmed himself licking food in a Walmart after saying “who’s afraid of coronavirus?” – with police confirming he will be charged as Piers Morgan calls for him to be deprived of health care

A man who filmed himself licking items on a supermarket shelf and asking “who’s afraid of coronavirus?” has been arrested on terror charges.

Police in Warrenton, Virginia, US, arrested a man after the horrifying clip was spread around the globe.

Suspect Cody Pfister, 26, has been charged with making a terrorist threat following the incident in a Walmart store.

Horrified viewers who saw the footage from as far away as the UK and Netherlands made reports to police.

And Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan called for the culprit to be locked up and refused medical help for “deliberately” trying to harm other people.

“This is of somebody in America, who went to a supermarket knowing the coronavirus is attacking everyone in the United States, and he did this and posted it online,” he said on the ITV programme.

“What I would like to happen to him is I’d like him found, and I am sure they will get him.

“I would like him put in prison, immediately.

“And then I would like him deprived of any healthcare should he then get the virus having tried to deliberately give it to potentially lots of other people.

“That might concentrate the minds of these morons and it might concentrate the minds of these morons we have here.”

The police department confirmed the man was a local resident and said he was “making a ‘Corona Virus’ statement” and had been taken into custody.

Referring to the far reaching reports they’d received, the statement added: “We take these complaints very seriously and would like to thank all of those who reported the video so the issue could be addressed.”

Many social media users had identified the man and said he lives in Missouri which has seen 183 virus cases and six deaths.

It comes as Donald Trump set a goal for the US to re-open in less than three weeks by Easter Sunday, despite fears it could become the worst hit country as cases continue to rise.

The World Health Organisation has said the US could become the new coronavirus epicenter following a “very large acceleration” in cases amounting to around 40 percent of global infections in 24 hours on Tuesday.

Italy it currently the worst hit nation with more than 6,800 deaths and almost 70,000 confirmed patients, surpassing China last week where over 3,200 people have died.

The US has seen a surge in new cases as testing capacity increases and could soon overtake Italy with the total number over 46,400.

Experts have warned the virus spread in the country is yet to peak with 15 states now in various forms of lockdown and fears the crisis could last for months.

Mr Trump’s calls came as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that hospital capacity will soon hit a breaking point and pleaded for more White House support.

New Jersey man charged with terrorism after coughing on woman, claiming coronavirus

New Jersey man charged with terrorism after coughing on woman, claiming coronavirus
George Falcone has been charged with harassment, obstruction and making terroristic threats in the third degree
By Ny Magee
https://thegrio.com/2020/03/25/new-jersey-man-terrorism-coughing-coronavirus/

A New Jersey man who coughed on a supermarket worker and told her he had the coronavirus has been arrested and charged with terrorism.

Amid the chaos and fear over the deadly COVID-19, several individuals are making headlines, and sparking fury among social media users, for threatening to spread the virus. New Jersey resident George Falcone, 50, is the latest to exploit the growing health crisis.

Falcone reportedly made terroristic threats inside Wegmans in Manalapan, N.J. on Sunday. According to BuzzFeed, when an employee asked him to step away from her and the prepared food on display, he allegedly moved closer and coughed on the woman’s hand and laughed, telling her he had coronavirus.

He also told two other staffers that “they are lucky to have jobs.”

According to prosecutors, Falcone initially refused to identify himself when approached by a police officer inside the store. He was subsequently allowed to leave but was charged Tuesday following an investigation.

Falcone has been charged with harassment, obstruction and making terroristic threats in the third degree, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Tuesday.

“Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

Falcon is not the first New Jersey resident to threaten to spread the coronavirus, but he is the only one so far charged with terrorist threats.

Last week, Lea Piazza, 28, allegedly coughed on an officer repeatedly during her arrest for drunk driving, telling the cop, “by the way, I have the coronavirus and so do you.”

Among the charges, she was hit with included DWI, reckless driving, and false public alarm over her bogus coronavirus claim.

The Justice Department has reportedly given law enforcement agencies around the country the green light to charge Americans as terrorists under federal law if they intentionally threaten to spread the coronavirus.

New Jersey reportedly has 3,675 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44 deaths. The state has the second-highest number of coronavirus diagnosis in the country, behind New York.

And? Another Repugnant saying the Coronavirus is Bullshit

State Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, signed a letter to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Wednesday, making the opposite case. Lyman and a group of rural county commissioners said the seriousness of the disease “absolutely and in no way supports the levels of concern that have been raised and the panic that has spread.”

“I think a week from now people are going to say, ’What were we thinking with that coronavirus thing?’” Lyman, a former San Juan County commissioner, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

Navajo Nation, southeast Utah health officials urge tourists to stay home ~ Salt Lake City Tribune

https://therobertreport.net/2020/03/23/navajo-nation-southeast-utah-health-officials-urge-tourists-to-stay-home-salt-lake-city-tribune/

Trump and his Trumpster Haters and Bigots in the Coronavirus Age

Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear For Their Safety ~ NYT … “we can thank trump and his racist gang again”
By Sabrina Tavernise and Richard A. Oppel Jr.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/us/coronavirus-asian-americans-attacks.html?referringSource=articleShare

Yuanyuan Zhu was walking to her gym in San Francisco on March 9, thinking the workout could be her last for a while, when she noticed that a man was shouting at her. He was yelling an expletive about China. Then a bus passed, she recalled, and he screamed after it, “Run them over.”

She tried to keep her distance, but when the light changed, she was stuck waiting with him at the crosswalk. She could feel him staring at her. And then, suddenly, she felt it: his saliva hitting her face and her favorite sweater.

In shock, Ms. Zhu, who is 26 and moved to the United States from China five years ago, hurried the rest of the way to the gym. She found a corner where no one could see her, and she cried quietly. “That person didn’t look strange or angry or anything, you know?” she said of her tormentor. “He just looked like a normal person.”

As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asians-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.

In interviews over the past week, nearly two dozen Asian-Americans across the country said they were afraid — to go grocery shopping, to travel alone on subways or buses, to let their children go outside. Many described being yelled at in public — a sudden spasm of hate that is reminiscent of the kind faced by Muslim-Americans after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But unlike 2001, when President George W. Bush urged tolerance of Muslim-Americans, this time President Trump is using language that Asian-Americans say is inciting racist attacks.

Mr. Trump and his Republican allies are intent on calling the coronavirus “the Chinese virus,” rejecting the World Health Organization’s guidance against using geographic locations when naming illnesses, since past names have provoked a backlash.

Mr. Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he was calling the virus “Chinese” to combat a disinformation campaign by Beijing officials saying the American military was the source of the outbreak. He dismissed concerns that his language would lead to any harm.

“If they keep using these terms, the kids are going to pick it up,” said Tony Du, an epidemiologist in Howard County, Md., who fears for his son, Larry, 8. “They are going to call my 8-year-old son a Chinese virus. It’s serious.”

Mr. Du said he posted on Facebook that “this is the darkest day in my 20-plus years of life in the United States,” referring to Mr. Trump’s doubling down on use of the term.

While no firm numbers exist yet, Asian-American advocacy groups and researchers say there has been a surge of verbal and physical assaults reported in newspapers and to tip lines.

San Francisco State University found a 50 percent rise in the number of news articles related to the coronavirus and anti-Asian discrimination between Feb. 9 and March 7. The lead researcher, Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian-American studies, said the figures represented “just the tip of the iceberg,” because only the most egregious cases that would be likely to be reported by the media.

Mr. Jeung has helped set up a website in six Asian languages, to gather firsthand accounts; some 150 cases have been reported on the site since it started last Thursday.

Tony Du, an epidemiologist in Howard County, Md., said that hearing government leaders call the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” had made him afraid for his son, Larry, 8.Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times Benny Luo, founder and chief executive of NextShark, a website focused on Asian-American news, said the site used to get a few tips a day. Now it is dozens.

“We’ve never received this many news tips about racism against Asians,” he said. “It’s crazy. My staff is pulling double duty just to keep up.” He said he was hiring two more people to help.

No one is immune to being targeted. Dr. Edward Chew, the head of the emergency department at a large Manhattan hospital, is on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus. He said that over the past few weeks, he has noticed people trying to cover their nose and mouth with their shirts when they are near him.

Dr. Chew has been using his free time to buy protective gear, like goggles and face shields, for his staff, in case his hospital runs out. On Wednesday night at a Home Depot, with his cart filled with face shields, masks and Tyvek suits, he said he was harassed by three men in their 20s, who then followed him out into the parking lot.

“I heard of other Asians being assaulted over this, but when you are actually ridiculed yourself, you really feel it,” he said the following day.

A writer for The New Yorker, Jiayang Fan, said she was taking out her trash last week when a man walking by began cursing at her for being Chinese.

“I’ve never felt like this in my 27 years in this country,” she wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “I’ve never felt afraid to leave my home to take out the trash because of my face.” Attacks have also gotten physical.

In the San Fernando Valley in California, a 16-year old Asian-American boy was attacked in school by bullies who accused him of having the coronavirus. He was sent to the emergency room to see whether he had suffered a concussion.

In New York City a woman wearing a mask was kicked and punched in a Manhattan subway station, and a man in Queens was followed to a bus stop, shouted at and then hit over the head in front of his 10-year-old son.

People have rushed to protect themselves. One man started a buddy-system Facebook group for Asians in New York who are afraid to take the subway by themselves. Gun shop owners in the Washington, D.C., area said they were seeing a surge of first-time Chinese-American buyers.

At Engage Armament in Rockville, Md., most gun buyers in the first two weeks of March have been Chinese-American or Chinese, according to the owner, Andy Raymond.

More than a fifth of Rockville’s residents are of Asian ethnicity, and Mr. Raymond said buyers from Korean and Vietnamese backgrounds were not unusual.But Mr. Raymond said he was stunned by the flow of Chinese customers — in particular green-card holders from mainland China — that began earlier this month, a group that rarely patronized his shop before.

“It was just nonstop, something I’ve never seen,” he said.

Mr. Raymond said that few of the Asian customers wanted to talk about why they were there, but when one of his employees asked a woman about it, she teared up. “To protect my daughter,” she replied.

For recent immigrants like Mr. Du who are in close touch with friends and family in China, the virus has been a screaming danger for weeks that most Americans seemed oblivious to.

Mr. Du is trying to remain hopeful. He spends his weekends training to become a volunteer with Maryland’s emergency medical workers. He is part of a group of Chinese-American scientists who organized a GoFundMe account to raise money for protective gear for hospital workers in the area. In three days, they raised more than $55,000, nearly all in small donations.

But he said he was afraid of the chaos that could be unleashed if the U.S. death toll rises significantly.

Already a gun owner, Mr. Du, 48, said he was in the process of buying an AR-15 style rifle.

“Katrina is not far away,” he said, alluding to the unrest in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “And when all these bad things come, I am a minority. People can see my face is Chinese clearly. My son, when he goes out, they will know his parents are Chinese.”

For American-born Asians, there is a sudden sense of being watched that is as unsettling as it is unfamiliar.

“It’s a look of disdain,” said Chil Kong, a Korean-American theater director in Maryland. “It’s just: ‘How dare you exist in my world? You are a reminder of this disease, and you don’t belong in my world.’”

He added: “It’s especially hard when you grow up here and expect this world to be yours equally. But we do not live in that world anymore. That world does not exist.”

One debate among Asian-Americans has been over whether to wear a mask in public. Wearing one risks drawing unwanted attention; but not wearing one does, too. Ms. Zhu said her parents, who live in China, offered to ship her some.

“I’m like, ‘Oh please, don’t,’” she said. She said she was afraid of getting physically attacked if she wore one. “Lots of my friends, their social media posts are all about this: We don’t wear masks. It’s kind of more dangerous than the virus.”

A 30-year-old videographer in Syracuse said he was still shaken from a trip to the grocery store on Monday, when the man ahead of him in the checkout line shouted at him, “It’s you people who brought the disease,” and other customers just stared at him, without offering to help. That same day, he said, two different couples verbally abused him at Costco.

“I feel like I’m being invaded by this hatred,” said the man, Edward, who asked that his last name not be used because he feared attracting more attention. “It’s everywhere. It’s silent. It’s as deadly as this disease.”

He said he had tried to hide the details of what happened from his mother, who moved to the United States from China in the 1970s. But there was one thing he did tell her.

“I told her, whatever you do, you can’t go shopping,” he said. “She needed to know there’s a problem and we can’t act like it’s normal anymore.”

Trump’s rhetoric will make the pandemic worse. Words are now a matter of life and death

Trump’s rhetoric will make the pandemic worse. Words are now a matter of life and death
Trump used to flirt with anti-vaxxers. Now he is demanding a coronavirus vaccine

By H. Holden Thorp
https://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2020/mar/13/trump-coronavirus-antivaxxer-vaccine

“Do me a favor, speed it up, speed it up.”

This is what Donald Trump told the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, recounting what he said to pharmaceutical executives about the progress toward a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (Sars-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Anthony Fauci, the longtime leader of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been telling the president repeatedly that developing the vaccine will take at least a year and a half – the same message conveyed by pharmaceutical executives. Apparently, Trump thought that simply repeating his request would change the outcome.

China has rightfully taken criticism for squelching attempts by scientists to report information during the outbreak. Now, the United States government is doing similar things. Informing Fauci and other government scientists that they must clear all public comments with Mike Pence, the vice-president, is unacceptable. This is not a time for someone who denies evolution, the climate crisis and the dangers of smoking to shape the public message. Thank goodness Fauci, Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), and their colleagues across federal agencies are willing to soldier on and are gradually getting the message out.

While scientists are trying to share facts about the epidemic, the administration either blocks those facts or restates them with contradictions. Transmission rates and death rates are not measurements that can be changed with will and an extroverted presentation. The administration has repeatedly said – as it did last week – that virus spread in the United States is contained, when it is clear from genomic evidence that community spread is occurring in Washington state and beyond. That kind of distortion and denial is dangerous and almost certainly contributed to the federal government’s sluggish response. After three years of debating whether the words of this administration matter, the words are now clearly a matter of life and death.

And although the steps required to produce a vaccine could possibly be made more efficient, many of them depend on biological and chemical processes that are essential. So the president might just as well have said, “Do me a favor, hurry up that warp drive.”

I don’t expect politicians to know Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism or the Diels-Alder chemical reaction (although I can dream). But you can’t insult science when you don’t like it and then suddenly insist on something that science can’t give on demand. For the past four years, Trump’s budgets have made deep cuts to science, including cuts to funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH. With this administration’s disregard for science of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the stalled naming of a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy – all to support political goals – the nation has had nearly four years of harming and ignoring science.

Now, the president suddenly needs science. But the centuries spent elucidating fundamental principles that govern the natural world – evolution, gravity, quantum mechanics – involved laying the groundwork for knowing what we can and cannot do. The ways that scientists accumulate and analyze evidence, apply inductive reasoning and subject findings to scrutiny by peers have been proven over the years to give rise to robust knowledge. These processes are being applied to the Covid-19 crisis through international collaboration at breakneck, unprecedented speed; Science published two new papers earlier this month on Sars-CoV-2, and more are on the way. But the same concepts that are used to describe nature are used to create new tools. So, asking for a vaccine and distorting the science at the same time are shockingly dissonant.

A vaccine has to have a fundamental scientific basis. It has to be manufacturable. It has to be safe. This could take a year and a half – or much longer. Pharmaceutical executives have every incentive to get there quickly – they will be selling the vaccine after all – but thankfully, they also know that you can’t break the laws of nature to get there.

Maybe we should be happy. Earlier in his administration, the president declared his skepticism of vaccines and tried to launch an anti-vaccine taskforce. Now he suddenly loves vaccines.

But do us a favor, Mr President. If you want something, start treating science and its principles with respect.

  • H Holden Thorp is the editor in chief of Science
  • Do Us a Favor by H Holden Thorp, in SCIENCE 367: 1169 (13 March 2020), was republished with permission from AAAS

Trump’s mismanagement helped fuel coronavirus crisis

Trump’s mismanagement helped fuel coronavirus crisis
Current and former administration officials blame the president for creating a no-bad-news atmosphere that stifled attempts to combat the outbreak.

By Dan Diamond
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/07/trump-coronavirus-management-style-123465

On Friday, as coronavirus infections rapidly multiplied aboard a cruise ship marooned off the coast of California, health department officials and Vice President Mike Pence came up with a plan to evacuate thousands of passengers, avoiding the fate of a similar cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, which became a petri dish of coronavirus infections. Quickly removing passengers was the safest outcome, health officials and Pence reasoned.

But President Donald Trump had a different idea: Leave the infected passengers on board — which would help keep the number of U.S. coronavirus cases as low as possible.

“Do I want to bring all those people off? People would like me to do it,” Trump admitted at a press conference at the CDC later on Friday. “I would rather have them stay on, personally.”

“I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” Trump added, saying that he ultimately empowered Pence to decide whether to evacuate the passengers.

For six weeks behind the scenes, and now increasingly in public, Trump has undermined his administration’s own efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak — resisting attempts to plan for worst-case scenarios, overturning a public-health plan upon request from political allies and repeating only the warnings that he chose to hear. Members of Congress have grilled top officials like Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield over the government’s biggest mistake: failing to secure enough testing to head off a coronavirus outbreak in the United States. But many current and former Trump administration officials say the true management failure was Trump’s.

“It always ladders to the top,” said one person helping advise the administration’s response, who noted that Trump’s aides discouraged Azar from briefing the president about the coronavirus threat back in January. “Trump’s created an atmosphere where the judgment of his staff is that he shouldn’t need to know these things.”

Interviews with 13 current and former officials, as well as individuals close to the White House, painted a picture of a president who rewards those underlings who tell him what he wants to hear while shunning those who deliver bad news. For instance, aides heaped praise on Trump for his efforts to lock down travel from China — appealing to the president’s comfort zone of border security — but failed to convey the importance of doing simultaneous community testing, which could have uncovered a potential U.S. outbreak. Government officials and independent scientists now fear that the coronavirus has been silently spreading in the United States for weeks, as unexplained cases have popped up in more than 25 states.

“It’s a clearly difficult situation when the top wants to hear certain answers,” said one former official who’s briefed the White House. “That can make it difficult for folks to express their true assessment — even the most experienced and independent minds.”

While Trump last week allowed hospitals and labs to start developing their own coronavirus tests, wrongly blaming Obama administration regulations for a delay, the same move could have been made weeks ago had the president and his advisers felt it was necessary, said two officials.

The White House press office declined to comment on the record, referring questions to HHS.

The health department said that Trump had been responsive to the department’s concerns and understood the seriousness of the coronavirus threat from the first day he was briefed.

“The President took early and decisive actions like instituting travel restrictions and utilizing the quarantine authority” to protect Americans from the outbreak, an HHS spokesperson said.

HHS also stressed that Azar and Trump had a good working relationship.

“The Secretary always offers the President his honest assessment, and always insists when briefing the President on public health issues that the relevant experts participate,” the spokesperson said.

Trump-inspired disorganization plagues early response

As the outbreak has grown, Trump has become attached to the daily count of coronavirus cases and how the United States compares to other nations, reiterating that he wants the U.S. numbers kept as low as possible. Health officials have found explicit ways to oblige him by highlighting the most optimistic outcomes in briefings, and their agencies have tamped down on promised transparency. The CDC has stopped detailing how many people in the country have been tested for the virus, and its online dashboard is running well behind the number of U.S. cases tracked by Johns Hopkins and even lags the European Union’s own estimate of U.S. cases.

After senior CDC official Nancy Messonnier correctly warned on Feb. 25 that a U.S. coronavirus outbreak was inevitable, a statement that spooked the stock market and broke from the president’s own message that the situation was under control, Trump himself grew angry and administration officials discussed muzzling Messonnier for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, said two individuals close to the administration. However, Azar defended her role, and Messonnier ultimately was allowed to continue making public appearances, although her tone grew less dire in subsequent briefings.

Trump’s defenders can point to many coronavirus crises that, so far, have been failures of bureaucracy and disorganization. The president didn’t lock out a government scientist from CDC. He didn’t know that officials decided to fly back coronavirus-infected Americans aboard planes with hundreds of others who had tested negative, with Trump bursting in anger when he learned the news.

But Trump has added to that disorganization through his own decisions. Rather than empower a sole leader to fight the outbreak, as President Barack Obama did with Ebola in 2014, he set up a system where at least three different people — Azar, Vice President Mike Pence and coronavirus task force coordinator Debbie Birx — can claim responsibility. Three people who have dealt with the task force said it’s not clear what Birx’s role is, and that coronavirus-related questions sent to her have been rerouted to the vice president’s office.

In response, Pence’s office said it has positioned Birx as the vice president’s “right arm,” advising him on the response, while Azar continues to oversee the health department’s numerous coronavirus operations.

Trump on Friday night also shook up White House operations, replacing acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney with Rep. Mark Meadows, a longtime ally. The long-expected ouster of Mulvaney was welcomed in corners like the health department, given that Mulvaney had been one of Azar’s top critics. But the abrupt staff shuffle in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak injects further uncertainty into the government’s response, said a current official and two former officials. It’s not yet clear what Mulvaney’s departure will mean for his key lieutenants involved in fighting the outbreak, like Domestic Policy Council chief Joe Grogan, for instance.

“Every office has office politics — even the Oval Office,” said one individual. “You’d hope we could wait to work it out until after a public health emergency.”

Health officials compete for Trump’s approval

The pressure to earn Trump’s approval can be a distraction at best and an obsession at worst: Azar, having just survived a bruising clash with a deputy and sensing that his job was on the line, spent part of January making appearances on conservative TV outlets and taking other steps to shore up his anti-abortion bona fides and win approval from the president, even as the global coronavirus outbreak grew stronger.

“We have in President Trump the greatest protector of religious liberty who has ever sat in the Oval Office,” Azar said on Fox News on Jan. 16, hours after working to rally global health leaders to fight the United Nations’ stance on abortion rights. Trump also had lashed out at Azar over bad health-care polling that day.

Around the same time, Azar had concluded that the new coronavirus posed a public health risk and tried to share an urgent message with the president: The potential outbreak could leave tens of thousands of Americans sickened and many dead.

But Trump’s aides mocked and belittled Azar as alarmist, as he warned the president of a major threat to public health and his own economic agenda, said three people briefed on the conversations. Some officials argued that the virus would be no worse than the flu.

Azar, meanwhile, had his own worries: A clash with Medicare chief Seema Verma had weakened his standing in the White House, which in December had considered replacements for both Azar and Verma.

“Because he feels pretty insecure, about the feuds within his department and the desire to please the president, I don’t know if he was in the position to deliver the message that the president didn’t want to hear,” said one former official who’s worked with Azar.

The jockeying for Trump’s favor was part of the cause of Azar’s destructive feud with Verma, as the two tried to box each other out of events touting Trump initiatives. Now, officials including Azar, Verma and other senior leaders are forced to spend time shoring up their positions with the president and his deputies at a moment when they should be focused on a shared goal: stopping a potential pandemic.

“The boss has made it clear, he likes to see his people fight, and he wants the news to be good,” said one adviser to a senior health official involved in the coronavirus response. “This is the world he’s made.”

President swayed by flattery, personal appeals

Trump’s unpredictable demands and attention to public statements — and his own susceptibility to flattery — have created an administration where top officials feel constantly at siege, worried that the next presidential tweet will decide their professional future, and panicked that they need to regularly impress him.

The most obvious practitioner of this strategy is Azar, who became Trump’s second health secretary after the first, Tom Price, failed to bond with Trump and was ousted over a charter-jet scandal. Azar decided early in his tenure to have “zero daylight” with the president, said three individuals close to him, and the health secretary routinely fawns over the president in his TV appearances on Fox News. “No other president has had the guts, the courage to take on these special interests,” Azar told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in December after Trump pushed new price transparency on the health care industry.

Azar’s team also has insisted upon using background photos for his Twitter account that always show him with the president — sometimes silently standing behind Trump while he speaks. Azar is alone among Cabinet members in this practice; secretaries like HUD’s Ben Carson, Transportation’s Elaine Chao and Treasury’s Steven Mnuchin opted for bland Twitter backgrounds that show their headquarters.

“The Secretary respects the President and values their strong relationship,” said an HHS spokesperson, when asked about Azar’s approach to working with Trump and use of Twitter photos.

Other health officials have modeled similar behavior as Azar. Asked by Trump if he wanted to make a “little statement” on Friday, CDC Director Redfield responded by praising the president’s “decisive leadership” and visit to CDC headquarters amid the outbreak. “I think that’s the most important thing I want to say,” Redfield said.

At least one health official has offered a more subtle reminder of her loyalties. Verma wore an Ivanka Trump-brand pendant to some meetings and events with the president, before it was stolen in 2018.

Health officials also have to guard their words and predictions, worried that the president will fixate on the wrong data point or blurt out damaging information in public. Trump on Friday told reporters that he’d initially scrapped a trip to the CDC because of a possible coronavirus case at the agency. The announcement came as a surprise to CDC staff, including those preparing for Trump’s visit, because they hadn’t been briefed on the potential coronavirus case, POLITICO first reported.

I just got off the phone with the President. He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama. Thank you, @POTUS, for working with us to ensure the safety of all Alabamians.— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) February 23, 2020

Meanwhile, Trump’s political allies have tried to circumvent the policy process, causing further headaches for the overwhelmed health department. Alabama Republicans prevailed upon Trump to scrap an HHS contingency plan to potentially quarantine some coronavirus-infected Americans at a facility in their state last month.

“I just got off the phone with the President,” Sen. Richard Shelby tweeted on Feb. 23. “He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama.”

But Democrats in a California city facing a similar situation failed to get a similar guarantee, leading them to file a lawsuit that accused the administration of political favoritism.

“California must not have the pull to get taken off the list,” attorney Jennifer Keller, representing Costa Mesa, Calif., reportedly said during a court hearing last month. “Alabama does.” A federal judge later halted plans to transfer coronavirus-stricken patients to a facility in the city.

Meanwhile, the president has allowed feuds to fester and spill into public view. Azar, for instance, has battled with White House officials and Verma for months over policies, personnel and even seats aboard the presidential airplane. Those fights have been reignited amid the coronavirus crisis, when Azar clashed with longtime rivals like Grogan over funding the response and whether enough coronavirus tests were being performed.

They’ve also cast a long shadow over strategy, like Azar’s decision not to push for Verma to be added to the coronavirus task force that he oversaw for nearly a month. Verma instead was added to the task force on March 2, several days after Pence took over leading the effort. While Azar said he asked for Verma to join the task force, and an HHS spokesperson pointed to the secretary’s public statement, two people with knowledge of task force operations said that the White House officials had raised questions about her omission.

Officials call the original decision to exclude Verma from the task force short-sighted at best, given the virus’ potential threat to the elderly patients covered by the Medicare program and residents living in nursing homes that are regulated by Verma’s agency.

With Trump unwilling — or unable — to put a stop to the health department’s fights, they’ve occupied and gripped Washington during relative peacetime. When at war against a potential pandemic, there’s no room for these distractions, officials say.

“If this sort of dysfunction exists as part of the everyday operations — then, yes, during a true crisis the problems are magnified and exacerbated,” said a former Trump HHS official. “And with extremely detrimental consequences.”

The sick joke of Donald’s Trump’s presidency isn’t funny any more

The sick joke of Donald’s Trump’s presidency isn’t funny any more
The coronavirus outbreak has revealed the full stupidity, incompetence and selfishness of the president to deadly effect

By Richard Wolffe
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/13/coronavirus-donald-trump-presidency-sick-joke

For three long years the world has been treated to the sick joke of Donald Trump’s presidency. Some days were more sick than others. But now the joke is over.

So is the entire facade of the Trump White House: the gold-plated veneer of power and grift will be stripped bare by a global pandemic and recession.

Of all the obituaries we’ll read in the next several weeks, every one will be more meaningful than the political end of a former reality-TV star.

But make no mistake. The humanitarian crisis about to unfold will consume what’s left of this president and the Republican party that surrendered its self-respect and sense of duty to flatter his ego and avoid his angry tweets.

Trump was right about one thing, and only one thing, as the coronavirus started to spread across the world. The sight of thousands of dead Americans will hurt him politically. It will also hurt many thousands of Americans in reality.

Multiple reports have detailed how Trump did not just ignore the growing pandemic; he actively sought to block his own officials’ attempts to track and stop it. Why has there been such a disastrous lack of testing? Because the president didn’t want to know the answer, and because his staff were too busy fighting each other to do the right thing.

“The boss has made it clear he likes to see his people fight, and he wants the news to be good,” Politico reported one Trump health adviser saying. “This is the world he’s made.”

Never mind a world turned upside down by fear and death. Trump’s world is upended by his gobsmackingly childish comments about how the whole thing will blow over. “It’s going to disappear,” he told one reception inside the White House just two weeks ago. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

The only miracle of this presidency is that it’s taken so long for this country to wake up to the catastrophe.

How could we have known that Trump would deny the resources to deal with a disaster, deny the truth about the death toll, and denounce anyone daring to tell the truth?

It wasn’t hard to know. After Hurricane Maria devastated the American island of Puerto Rico in September of his first year in office, Trump gave himself a 10 for his response to the devastation. He also said he couldn’t keep the military in Puerto Rico forever, which was news to the national guard.

At the very time he was bragging about his response and trashing his own citizens, more than 3,000 Americans were dying on the island because of Trump’s botched response to the hurricane. Those Americans were our most vulnerable citizens: the sick and elderly, who lost power, lacked medicine or needed a hospital bed when the hospitals were stricken.

Those are the same Americans who face the greatest peril in the coming weeks from the same toxic mix of callousness and incompetence from the same sociopathic president.

This is everyone’s catastrophe and one man’s calamity. For Trump, there is no escaping the stench of failure that seeps through every unmade decision, every fumbled response, and every unhinged tweet.

This is a president who can’t formulate a coherent coronavirus policy, and can’t even read the words written for him on a prompter.

One paragraph from Wednesday’s disastrous Oval Office address managed to only worsen the political pathogen that is his presidency.

“There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings,” he explained about his new travel ban from Europe, ignoring the reality that he limited all testing so there are no appropriate screenings.

“And these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval,” he added, wiping out many billions in transatlantic trade – and various other things – with one flap of his lips.

“Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing,” he explained in case anyone had any doubt about his economic stupidity.

“These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.” Ah yes, the British immunity to coronavirus is a well-documented medical fact. British people who play golf on a Trump course are especially healthy individuals.

If Trump was trying to reassure the markets, he failed, like he always does. Even the Federal Reserve magicking $1.5tn out of thin air could not stop the stock market from suffering its worst single day since the 1987 crash.

“This was the most expensive speech in history,” one investment strategist told the Financial Times.

There is hope amid the horror: an election in just eight months when Americans can vote for a return to the once-normal life of a competent government. Joe Biden’s response on Thursday was a stark reminder of what presidents and vice-presidents used to sound like.

“We’ll lead with science,” the former vice-president said. “We’ll listen to the experts. We’ll heed their advice.” It all sounded so shockingly novel. “We’ll build American leadership and rebuild it to rally the world to meet global threats that we are likely to face again. And I’ll always tell you the truth.”

The truth: it’s getting harder to remember a time when we expected our leaders to say such things.

In the meantime, before January 2021, the world faces two deadly diseases: a pandemic and a pathetically incompetent president.

On Thursday, as schools shut down and troops took to the streets of a New York suburb, Trump of course bragged about himself in ways that made you wonder about his own medical condition.

“I mean, think of it: the United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point,” he said in the Oval Office. “Thirty-two is a lot. Thirty-two is too many. But when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

And you know what? Instead of thinking about preparing thousands of new hospital beds, or millions of virus tests, Trump has probably committed the largest part of his brain to thinking about that number. That very tiny number, so small compared to the rest of the world, that represents the full measure of his compassion.

The Cult of Willful Ignorance: Stupidity as a Strategy, Donald Trump & the Coronavirus Outbreak — O Society

by Henry Giroux edited by O Society Feb 29 – Leap Day – 2020 Trump’s lies, his disparagement of science and scientists, his claim non-political civil servants are part of the deep state out to “get” him, his lack of credibility, his penchant for political opportunism over the needs of the nation, his pathological embrace of […]

The Cult of Willful Ignorance: Stupidity as a Strategy, Donald Trump & the Coronavirus Outbreak — O Society

The dumbest Prezeedent we have EVER had.

Trump reportedly furious about stock market plunging on coronavirus fears

President Donald Trump is reportedly furious that stocks have been plunging, believing that health officials’ warnings have spooked investors, The Washington Post reported Tuesday night, citing two people familiar with the president’s thinking.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/trump-reportedly-furious-about-stock-market-plunging-on-coronavirus-fears/ar-BB10o1pg?li=BBnb7Kz

The president has reportedly cautioned aides against forecasting the impact of the virus over fears that stocks could fall further, The Washington Post said.

Stocks plunged Tuesday, with losses accelerating after health officials warned that the coronavirus is “likely” to continue to spread throughout the United States, warning that the American public should “prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad.”

“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in the United States,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a conference call.

The Dow and S&P 500 dropped more than 3% on Tuesday, for the indices worst 2-day drops since Feb. 2018 and Aug. 2015, respectively.

Stocks came under pressure even after National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said the coronavirus-triggered selloff has created a buying opportunity for long-term investors. “The virus story is not going to last forever,” Kudlow said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.”

“To me, if you are an investor out there and you have a long-term point of view I would suggest very seriously taking a look at the market, the stock market, that is a lot cheaper than it was a week or two ago.” He also reassured investors that the U.S. has “contained” the coronavirus and it will likely not be an “economic tragedy.”

On Monday the president tweeted that the coronavirus is “very much under control in the USA” and that the stock market is “starting to look very good.”