- Isolated Showers
- Surveillance Testing
- Foggy Landscape
- National Guard
- Better Practices
- Pet Precaution
- Empty Pier
- Ed Notes
- Noyo Rainbow
- LakeCo Report
- Yesterday's Catch
- Sanders 2020
- Captain Williams
- Incompetent Government
- GG Construction
- Pod People
- Charity Game
- Sugarcandy Sports
- Flower Bud
- Con Man
- Redwood Notch
- CARES Act
- Not Afraid
- Doctor's Warning
- Merry Pranksters
- Political Lies
- Ponzi Collapse
- Kinda Busy
- Swines' Holiday
- Found Object
ISOLATED SHOWERS will be possible today across Mendocino and Lake counties. Otherwise warmer and drier weather conditions are expected through the end of the week. (National Weather Service)
COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH PARTNERS WITH ADVENTIST HEALTH UKIAH VALLEY FOR TARGETED COVID-19 TESTING
April 6, 2020, 8:05 PM
Mendocino County Public Health, in partnership with Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, and with the Public Health Regional Lab in Sonoma County, will be conducting focused testing (formally known as ‘surveillance testing’) for COVID-19 in vulnerable populations. Surveillance testing is a tool used to look for asymptomatic people who may be infected with COVID-19 and to identify if undetected community spread is present in Mendocino County. The surveillance testing will focus on those who are experiencing homelessness, the frail elderly, and individuals who serve those populations as well as others.
“We want to ensure that COVID-19 is not silently circulating in our county,” said Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan. “Many of our county’s most vulnerable residents, who are at high-risk of developing serious complications if they get COVID-19, are currently living in congregate environments like shelters, or on the streets. Offering free testing to these groups can go a long way to evaluating the COVID-19 risk to our County now.”
“It’s important that we reach out to our homeless population and provide access to care, especially to the most vulnerable. We believe it’s part of living our mission and we’re happy to partner with Public Health in reaching out to the community wherever they need us,” explains Jason Wells, president of Adventist Health for Mendocino County.
The focused Covid19 sampling will occur at Plowshares Peace and Justice Center in Ukiah, because it’s an essential business that provides food, and other necessities for economically disadvantaged and vulnerable populations including those experiencing homeless, elderly and medically compromised.
Focused testing of vulnerable populations is an important step to understand if COVID-19 is circulating undetected in specific populations, and to respond by providing isolation and quarantine if any persons with COVID19 infection are identified.
All testing that has been done thus far in Mendocino County has been targeted to symptomatic people who had illness consistent with COVID-19 and were evaluated in the primary care clinics and hospitals and other clinical settings in the County. Of the 295 tests done, 4 patients tested for COVID-19 were positive.
For more on COVID-19: www.mendocinocounty.org
Call Center: (707) 234-6052 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The call center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 8 p.m.
CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD SET TO STAGE IN SANTA ROSA, starting at Redwood Empire Food Bank
California National Guard troops are scheduled to be on the ground in Sonoma County starting Tuesday, bolstering staffing at the North Coast’s largest food bank, where daily demand is soaring amid the coronavirus crisis and regional shutdown. But the troops’ local mission could soon expand beyond that, as Sonoma County officials are in ongoing talks to secure National Guard help to set up hundreds of patient beds to manage a projected surge of COVID-19 cases. Sonoma State University is emerging in closed-door talks as the likely site for that potential hospital overflow, according to sources close to the discussions.
FROST FAN PERMITS, an exchange:
Mark Scaramella: A Frost Advisory in Anderson Valley means no sleep for thousands of residents via deafening wind fans overnight. County continues to ignore and won't even consider a permit process which the local wine industry said was in place (and presumably supported) but isn't. Thanks for nothing Mendo.
Supervisor Ted Williams: I'm not taking a position here. I believe adjusting the right to farm language would cause heated debate and I couldn't predict the outcome. Given the financial hardship about to be experienced across the county, I'd argue this is a poor time for the debate. A better approach might be a collaborative effort to scope the feasibility of retrofitting existing units with quieter blades. From my research, NZ has been successful in reducing noise without impacting effectiveness of the tool. Who could lead a collaborative effort towards a compromise?
Mark Scaramella: No need to adjust the right to farm language, no need for debate. Just do what the industry said they were doing but were not. Permits are already required for pad and electrical; all Mendo has to do is use the process the local industry described back when they first kept us all awake back in 2014. If pot growers did anything like this, you can bet there'd be a permit required. Here is the quote from the AV Winegrowers Association website (since removed, but not disavowed) back in 2014 which I supplied to the county during my lawsuit and to the Court (which refused to accept it because it wasn't signed by a person): "Mendocino County is the only county in California to require a permit for the installation of wind machines. They take into account placement, noise and need when considering the application." What part of that needs debate or compromise?
Ted Williams: “…only county to require”? Any chance of “not” being omitted in transcription?
Scaramella: No. That's the exact quote. Unfortunately, it wasn't correct then and it's not correct now. But it's a good idea. Although there'd have to be some reasonable retroactivity to address the fans already in place. Two of my neighbors did indeed retrofit with quieter three-bladed models; the third neighbor could not because the manufacturer of that brand of fan did not offer the upgrade. But those neighbors only upgraded because I sued and both my neighbors and I were bleeding lawyer money and wanted it over with, no thanks to the County. That could have been avoided with a permit process. Back in 2014 the Winegrowers Association also publicized a detailed "best practices" letter (timing, temp conditions, rpm, types of generators, etc.) which they said all the winegrowers were adhering to. That didn't happen either (some may have, but certainly not now), but it would have helped some as well. I never said anything like ban the fans, even though the wine industry took it that way. Australia and Canada have perfectly good permit processes a version of which could work here. I was told that the two neighbors who upgraded got partial funding assistance via a water conservation grant (fans certainly do save on frost protection water). The permit process would not apply to the towable (typically rented) units which are less loud and are not permanent installations. Fans that are far away from residences would probably not be a problem either, especially if they use the more modern designs and adhere to the "best practices."
RONNIE JAMES: Pets & The Virus
So it looks like mammals other than people (and bats in Asia) can be infected with Corona virus. We know so little about the habits of this virus, but if you're isolating and observing social distancing, I would encourage you to extend those precautions to your pet also. They don't need to be distanced or isolated from you unless you're sick, but they do need to be isolated from the people who are not a part of your immediate household. Don't let them run loose, don't let people other than your immediate family pet them, don't let them run up to other people, and keep them as contained as possible/comfortable.
FORMER CHIEF of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, said Monday, “If we had a timely unemployment rate it would probably be 12 or 13 percent at this point and moving higher.” The Federal Reserve is a consortium of privately-owned big banks, a crucial fact of American life that doesn’t seem widely known. In other words, when it comes to it, as it is now coming to it, the big boys’ first priority is themselves, as we learned in 2008 when they declared themselves “too big to fail.” (Me too at a svelte 6’3”.) But Yellen is probably being conservative because only conservatives — people who believe in bankers — are chosen to front for the banks, of course.
ANDREW YANG’S universal basic income was widely sneered at when he raised it during his run for the Democrat’s presidential nomination, but the Fed better shovel a lot more than an occasional $1200 bucks to the millions of laid off Americans out there or there will be blood in the streets. It’s all faith-based money anyway at this point, but most of us still have the faith, so Trump baby, get it out there at, I’d say, five grand a month to stave off serious trouble.
SHERIFF KENDALL told us Monday afternoon that the county’s 911 call volume is down about a thousand calls compared to March of last year, but calls involving. serious violence, including suicides, are up 35 percent. Number of calls in March of last year was around 6,000 or so, but this March calls are down a thousand or so, including a terrible rise in domestic violence calls.
THE FORT BRAGG woman who leaped to her death from the Noyo Bridge on Wednesday, March 25th, has been identified as Regan Christine Jarel De Ayala, 67. She was homeless and apparently living out of her car. Family said she suffered from mental health issues and had attempted to kill herself before. Ms. De Ayala hurled herself off the south end of the bridge on its harbor side, falling some 90 feet onto the sliver of beach below.
REPORTING FROM LAKE COUNTY, BETSY CAWN:
The first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the County of Lake was announced Sunday afternoon. An immediate consequence of the Lake County Public Health Orders was the closure of senior center lunchrooms, to which four operational centers responded by creating an alternative means for delivery of daily nutrition (“meals on wheels”) to serve the county’s very large population of “Older Adults” and caregivers.
In the absence of a formal and functional COAD/VOAD, a “spontaneous volunteer” effort was launched by the Lakeport Senior Activity Center in the city of Lakeport.
Covid19 - Lake County Seniors and Disabled Support Network https://www.facebook.com/groups/covid19lcseniors/?fref=nf
Rallying dozens of new volunteers to provide assistance to self-quarantined persons over the age of 60, the project quickly garnered the support of our Community Action Agency, which has provided an AmeriCorps team and processing of new volunteers for assurance of their commitment to protect the privacy of anyone requesting help (in addition to serving the previously enrolled participants in the federally-funded Elder Nutrition Programs).
Close to 8,000 vulnerable older adults in Lake County (of a total ~65,000 residents) who are identified as “living in poverty” in a study by the creators of the Lakeport senior center’s new service outreach project, are receiving calls from the new volunteer “Phone Brigade” — conducted largely by volunteers who are themselves self-quarantined due to their ages and vulnerability status. Eldest and most economically underserved are the priorities of the survey, being conducted by a cadre of nearly 70 trained volunteers.
Meanwhile, funding is virtually non-existent for the operational senior centers whose primary donors are the participants in the lunchroom services and normal center activities — all shut. Nonetheless, their core staffs are continuing to provide home-delivered meals to all of their program participants without any knowledge of how they will be able to sustain the financial burden.
A handful of health care service providers are advocating for elected officials to effectuate emergency funding for this sector of needs, in the same way that the Governor has mobilized resources for housing the other most vulnerable population sector — homeless “residents.”
Lake County’s general population, having been whipsawed by multiple catastrophic wildfires, a very damaging flood event, and impediments to its “long-term recovery” from the onset of the 2015 Valley Fire and subsequent tragedies, has developed a strongly collaborative network of citizens, civic organizations, and community “partners” who are grateful for the management of the COVID-19 epidemic by our Public Health Department (and the state’s Medical Health Operational Area Coordination program). We know that our hospitals and other medical systems are capable of responding to the anticipated “surge” of patients, unless the tsunami of infections in neighboring counties deminishes the resources of the regional health care system.
Nationwide, the public is now fully apprised of the fragile underpinnings of health and safety programs that are clearly scrambling for tools and workers and facilities and practical assistance, and increasingly apprehensive as the commercial, industrial, social/civic systems on which we rely are disappearing. Paranoia and hysteria are always at hand to undermine the civic cohesion we’re cleaving to as the “only” answer to protecting ourselves and our communities — but it’s early days yet…
Betsy Cawn, Upper Lake, CA
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 6, 2020
DALTON GILMAN, Willits. DUI.
STEVEN GREEN, Potter Valley. Domestic abuse, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, false imprisonment, probation revocation.
DARIN HAMMOND, Fort Bragg, Domestic battery, probation revocation.
LUIS ORTIZ, Ukiah. DUI, more than an ounce of pot, county parole violation.
THE PANDEMIC MAKES THE BERNIE 2020 CAMPAIGN More Vital Than Ever
by Norman Solomon
At a time when the structural failures of a corporatized society have never been more glaring and deadly, we desperately need Sanders’ voice to be heard far and wide.
Pressure on Bernie Sanders to quit the presidential race is intensifying. Over the weekend, the Washington Post splashed a major story under the headline "Some Top Sanders Advisers Urge Him to Consider Withdrawing." While sheltering at home, comedian Larry David couldn’t curb his enthusiasm for an end to the campaign, telling a New York Times columnist: "I feel he should drop out. Because he’s too far behind. He can’t get the nomination."
OK, at this point it’s highly unlikely—though still possible—that Sanders can gain enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee. But the Bernie 2020 campaign has never been only about winning. It has always also been about strengthening vital progressive movements while widening public discourse and political space.
Like the movements fueling—and being fueled by—both of the Sanders campaigns for president, those campaigns have organized to challenge the dominant narrow, corporate-power concepts of what is possible or desirable. That has meant continually throwing down gauntlets against systemic injustices that routinely cause preventable catastrophes—individual, social and environmental.
By now, corporate media outlets often acknowledge that the Sanders campaigns brought into the political mainstream many proposals that were commonly labeled as "fringe" or "radical" just a few years ago. Positions like a $15-an-hour minimum wage, free public-college tuition and Medicare for All have reached center stage for the Democratic Party and the country as a whole.
Yet now, to hear mass media and the party establishment tell it, Sanders should immediately cease expanding the public discourse during this election cycle. Demands that Sanders quit the race are getting louder by the day—insisting that he function like a traditional politician rather than a movement candidate.
But those calls for normal political behavior are coming at a time when conditions are anything but normal. The coronavirus pandemic is a truly unprecedented life-and-death emergency on a scale so vast that it’s difficult to comprehend. The conditions—and timeworn assumptions—that have made it so deadly in the United States go far beyond the criminal negligence of top officials in the Trump administration.
For decades, assaults on the public sector, led by Republicans and often abetted by Democrats in Washington, have crippled government capacities to protect public health. While defending for-profit insurance, Democratic leaders have refused to support comprehensive healthcare coverage for all.
At a time when the structural failures of a corporatized society have never been more glaring and deadly, we desperately need Sanders’ voice to be heard far and wide. That can and should happen between now and June—a month when more than a dozen states are scheduled to hold presidential primaries.
The status of "frontrunner" does not change the reality that Joe Biden has failed to step up to the challenge of responding to the pandemic. Biden’s severely limited capacities to speak clearly—or to offer proposals commensurate with the extreme crisis—continue to be on display.
Meanwhile, consistent with his approach over several decades, the Sanders campaign has provided a flood of position statements, online messaging, virtual roundtables, vibrant interviews and proposals that amount to the "boldest legislation in history."
Solid reasons for Sanders to stay in the presidential primaries are hardly appreciated by party power brokers and big media outlets that have been hostile toward the Bernie 2020 campaign from the beginning.
There’s no doubt that Bernie Sanders will do all he can to help defeat Donald Trump. That imperative would not be served by stifling a campaign that continually enhances public understanding of what will be necessary to finally guarantee healthcare as a human right—and create a truly humane society.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State." He is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
LAKE COUNTY’S LOW VIRUS COUNT
A reader writes: As commercial testing ramps up and the backlog of pending tests is relieved, more cases will be found! In actual fact, few tests have been performed in Lake County, at all. In Lake County, incompetent governmental processes will also be revealed. The schools in Lake County must be closed! The employees over the age of 65 must be excused, for the duration!
ON-LINE TRIBUTE TO LAKE COUNTY: Lake County has severely challenged HR processes at the best of times, and fails to support or carry adequate staff in almost every department. The few employees Lake County actually does have are hired through a local and idiomatic process of nepotism, and lowest-common-denominator. Not a real well administered or managed local government, would be an accurate description. Lake County also has only two medical facilities, both for-profit and both short of physicians, equipment, bed-space and acumen. I always leave Lake County to consume medical care, and I would leave period, in a heartbeat, under different circumstances. Lake County is depressed, depressing, and disgusting. The Lake County government is a disgrace.
The legacy of the 2008 financial collapse was the establishment of a permanent renter class. Most young people today don’t dream of home ownership or starting a family, not because they don’t want to, but because it’s becoming financially harder and harder every year.
I fear that the legacy of this economic downturn will be that Amazon and other giant corporations continue to buy up market share as local and small businesses can’t survive without customers for very long.
The corporate powerbrokers who run our society want everyone to be a passive pod person, completely atomized. They want a permanent underclass who bring a professional class of people who work from home their Amazon packages and takeout food.
If we want a future with vibrant communal life instead of sterile corporate loneliness, we need to start thinking of social distancing as an elite class project. Obviously, Donald Trump’s desire to sacrifice the health of elderly and immunocompromised people for the Moloch of the stock market is cruel and unethical, but passive neoliberal consumption isn’t the solution either.
TRUMP’S CALL TO SPORTS COMMISSIONERS Shows Everything Wrong With Our Pandemic Response
by Dave Zirin
It’s been said time and again: The virus makes the timeline, not we humans. We will return to being a functioning society when the threat of the novel coronavirus has passed. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that, but when leaders spread false hope, they create expectations that can’t be met and increase our collective ignorance.
That hasn’t stopped Donald Trump. The president and a select group of the most powerful commissioners in sports got together on a conference call on Sunday, on which Trump declared that the sports world would relaunch “sooner rather than later.” ESPN NFL reporter and access merchant Adam Schefter was out at the head of the line, breathlessly tweeting, “In conference call with major league sports commissioners on Saturday, President Donald Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September.”
All the sports websites soon quoted Trump extensively from his press briefing/campaign rally later in the day, saying, “I want fans back in the arenas I think it’s…whenever we’re ready. As soon as we can, obviously. And the fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air.”
Trump, as ESPN pointed out, also tweeted at Little League baseball players, telling them that their season would start “soon.”
This scenario accurately modeled how sports journalism often works: You get access to information in return for not writing too critically about your subject matter. Most of the time, it’s largely harmless, just the way the “toy department” of the media world goes about its business. In the context of a coronavirus pandemic, the attitude of Trump’s phone call to commissioners—which grossly excluded National Women’s Soccer League commish Lisa Baird—is negligent, if not deadly.
First and foremost, it sets the expectation that the virus will somehow be finished on the schedule yearned for by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Trump’s fall reelection schedule. This is not based on science, only on the profit-driven will of the multibillion-dollar athletic-industrial complex to keep the trains running on time.
Secondly, it blithely ignores the question of player and fan safety. The leagues cannot come back before the health of everyone can be safely secured. Former Green Bay Packers executive Andrew Brandt said that a veteran NFL player called him up and asked this salient question: “If they tell us we’re playing again, even without fans, do we have to play? What if our personal doctor advises against it?” It speaks volumes that on Trump’s call of the commissioners, none of the sports unions were represented. If player safety is going to be ignored, the last people one would want on the call would be the people charged with defending those players and their right to play their sport without being sacrificed to this pandemic.
I communicated with both the National Football League Players Association and the National Basketball Players Association about the question of player safety and the rush to return. The NFLPA made clear that it is monitoring this situation very closely, with the safety of players being of the utmost concern.
Michele Roberts of the NBPA e-mailed me, “Our players are super eager to get back on the court. They love basketball, love playing basketball and love bringing the competition to our fans. These preceding weeks have been tough. That said, as members of the community, our players, too, appreciate that the most important goal for our country is to assure the health and safety of its citizens. Yes, they are anxious to resume play. However, only under circumstances that are safe for them, team staff and the communities in which any games would be scheduled. We are optimistic, but patient. Safety first.”
In so many respects, Trump’s cavalier attitude about resuming pro sports reflects his approach to the entire virus. He’s pushing a great deal of false hope, not backed by science, and designed more to win a news cycle with thoughts of a Sugarcandy Mountain of sports constructed on the backs of our disposable athletic heroes. It also reflected through our sports media the ways in which the mainstream media, with some notable exceptions, have failed to hold this president to account.
If there is one sport that’s still on TV, it’s Trump’s Lucy pulling the football away from the media’s Charlie Brown, who marvels over Trump’s change of tone only to see him mock a senator in coronavirus quarantine or reminisce over his days of “dating” models, all while thousands die.
The sports media could play a critical role right now holding Trump and the sports commissioners to account, making sure they don’t put out outlandish predictions about the resumption of play or offer players as a sacrifice to our entertainment appetites. They failed that test yesterday.
We can be better than the White House press corps, call out the lies, and make sure that sports will return when our society returns. The virus sets the timeline. If that’s not our lodestar, then we are lost.
HAPPY END TIMES!
Trump had a rally on February 28 in a stadium packed full, just a little over a month ago, when most folks already knew that was a bad idea. Trump didn't.
"This is their new hoax… We have 15 people in this massive country… and because we went in early we could've had a lot more… We're doing great! A virus starts in China, bleeds its way into various countries around the world, doesn't spread widely at all in the USA because of the early actions of myself and my administration… the press is in hysteria mode… but we're doing such a great job… when you have 15 people and in a couple days it's going to be down to 0."
Trump and his base are SO ignorant, that they had no friggin’ clue — and still don't.
Happy End Times!
PS. Here are a few more gems.
"This is a flu. This is like a flu."
"There are some who say this is like a flu."
"We're totally prepared."
"The Dems are politicizing this," said Trump at his political rally.
"35,000 die from the flu, did anyone know that?"
CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY (CARES) ACT.
In the House, we are moving swiftly and decisively to meet the coronavirus pandemic with the urgency and seriousness it demands. That means getting funding and resources where they’re needed, now.
This CARES Act was approved a little more than a week ago and includes several new programs that will directly help people in California’s 2nd District. For individuals and families, the CARES Act:
- Provides a direct cash rebate of up to $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per child
- Expands eligibility for Unemployment Compensation to those who are not usually eligible, including those who are self-employed and independent contractors
- Provides an additional $600 per week to each recipient of Unemployment Compensation for 4 months and extends benefits for those whose benefits were scheduled to expire
- Defers student loan payments on Federally-backed student loans and stops interest accrual for 6 months
- Waives the tax on seniors who elect not to take the Required Minimum Distribution from their retirement accounts in 2020
- Limits evictions for renters and foreclosures for homeowners with Federally-backed mortgages
- Ensures COVID-19 testing is covered by all private insurance plans without cost sharing
The CARES Act also provides $376 billion in relief for small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits through:
- Paycheck Protection Program: Provides loans to employers to maintain payroll. If payroll is maintained, the loan is forgiven.
- Emergency Economic Injury Grant: Provides an advance, which does not need to be repaid, of up to $10,000 within 3 days of applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
- Small Business Debt Relief Program: Provides immediate relief with non-disaster loans and microloans.
- Tax Provisions: Provides employee retention credit for employers subject to closure or economic hardship through a refundable payroll tax for 50% of wages and delays payment of employer payroll taxes.
But even with the improvements that were made to this bill, Congress will need to do more – and soon – to help families, workers, and the economy.
Although we can’t hold a normal session of Congress in DC, we are working around the clock to make sure our community remains resilient both during and after this crisis. If you have questions about how these programs may help you, your family, or your business, please don’t hesitate to contact my office for assistance. That number is 415-258-9657.
If you would like to keep up with what I am doing as your representative, please subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you, and stay well,
Member of Congress
A NEW YORK DOCTOR’S WARNING
by Dr. Fred Milgrim, Emergency-medicine resident physician in New York City
China warned Italy. Italy warned us. We didn’t listen. Now the onus is on the rest of America to listen to New York.
In the emergency-department waiting room, 150 people worry about a fever. Some just want a test, others badly need medical treatment. Those not at the brink of death have to wait six, eight, 10 hours before they can see a doctor. Those admitted to the hospital might wait a full day for a bed.
I am an emergency-medicine doctor who practices in both Manhattan and Queens; at the moment, I’m in Queens. Normally, I love coming to work here, even though in the best of times, my co-residents and I take care of one of New York City’s most vulnerable, underinsured patient populations. Many have underlying illnesses and a language barrier, and lack primary care.
These are not the best of times; even for my senior attendings, it is the worst they have ever seen. Here, the curve is not flat. We are overwhelmed. There was a time for testing in New York, and we missed it. China warned Italy. Italy warned us. We didn’t listen. Now the onus is on the rest of America to listen to New York. For many people around the country, the virus is still an invisible threat. But inside New York’s ERs, it is frighteningly visible.
Every day, in our hastily assembled COVID-19 unit, I put on my gown, face shield, three sets of gloves, and N95 respirator mask, which stays on for the entirety of my 12-hour shift, save for one or two breaks for cold pizza and coffee. Before the pandemic, I would wear a new mask for every new patient. Not now. There are not enough to go around. The bridge of my nose is raw, chapped, and on the verge of bleeding. But I consider myself one of the lucky ones. My hospital still has a supply of masks—albeit a dwindling one—to protect me and my colleagues.
Many of my patients clearly haven’t received the message to stay home unless they’re in immediate need of professional medical assistance. Their fevers and coughs alone are not enough to even earn a test. I hand them discharge paperwork and a printout about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, tell them to self-isolate, and then I move on to the next person. If they didn’t have the coronavirus before coming to our hospital, they probably do now. So much for gatherings of 10 people or fewer.
Meanwhile, my colleagues tend to patients in the critical-care bay with dipping oxygen levels, patients who can barely speak and may need breathing tubes.
Earlier in the month, we were told that positive-pressure oxygen masks, such as CPAP machines, were risky, as they would aerosolize the virus, increasing health-care workers’ risk of infection. But in recent days, running dangerously low on ventilators, we have attempted using CPAP machines to stave off the need for medically induced comas.
Nevertheless, we need to perform an alarming number of intubations. Our ventilators are almost all in use, and the ICUs are at capacity. Although our hospital has received extra vents here and there from other hospitals in the region that can spare them, those few additions are merely a stopgap. Will we soon have patients sharing vents? We wouldn’t be the first hospital to attempt that unusual and suboptimal practice, which gained traction after the Las Vegas shooting, when scores of young trauma patients were vented in pairs. But these COVID-19 patients have delicate lungs, which makes vent-sharing far more dangerous. Nevertheless, we’ve already started studying the mechanics of how to make this happen, as a last-ditch effort.
By next week, we may simply have no choice. Those hundreds of relatively healthy patients we sent home may return to the hospital en masse in respiratory failure.
On Wednesday, I greeted a patient I had discharged only one week prior. When I saw his name pop up on the board, my heart sank. He is just shy of 50, with hardly any past medical history, and he had seemed fine. Now he was gasping for air. His chest X-ray was no relief—COVID-19 for sure. I needed to admit him to the hospital, and set him up with oxygen, heart monitoring, and a bed.
Last week, I saw an elderly woman on dialysis. She had arrived with a mild cough. But her vital signs were normal—no fever. After her chest X-ray came back clear, we decided to send her home. But before her ride came, she spiked a fever to 102. Change of plans. With her age and complex medical problems, she would need to be admitted.
The next night, I saw a stretcher wheeling past me with a resident riding on top, performing chest compressions on the patient.
Only after we pronounced the patient dead did I learn her name. She was my patient from the night before. She went into cardiac arrest before she even got a bed in the ward. My first COVID-19—positive death. The numbers have been mounting ever since.
A few days ago, FEMA finally arrived to help with this crisis. It has brought more tests, hopefully more vents, and a morgue in the form of a truck to help with the ever-growing number of dead bodies. I wonder if this help will be enough. My colleagues and I discuss this pandemic with a sardonic sense of helplessness. Some of us are getting sick. Our reality alters by the moment. Every day, we change our triage system. Each day could be the day that the masks run out. There is much we think but are too afraid to say to one another.
I do not want to see you in my hospital. I do not want you to go to any hospital in the United States. I do not want you to leave your home, except for essential food and supplies. I do not want you to get tested for the coronavirus, unless you need to be admitted to a hospital.
For those of us at the forefront, knowing who has COVID-19 won’t change our ability—or inability—to treat patients. The problem is, and will be, our shortage of healthy personnel, personal protective equipment, beds, and ventilators. A nasal swab is not the answer anymore.
If you have mild symptoms, assume that you have the coronavirus. Stay home, wash your hands, call your doctor. Don’t come to the emergency department just because of a fever or cough. Receiving a test won’t change our recommendation that you remain in self-isolation. We don’t want you to expose yourself to those who definitely do have the virus.
Social distancing, while still crucial, came too late in New York to prevent a crisis. Maybe, just maybe, extreme measures can prevent this from happening in other cities around the country.
In spite of all this morbidity, the doctors at the hospital received one piece of good news yesterday. A coronavirus patient was successfully taken off a ventilator after two weeks, a first for our Medical ICU and a victory for the staff and, of course, the patient.
(Fred Milgrim is an emergency-medicine resident physician in New York City, currently working at Elmhurst Hospital.)
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
[One] Private healthcare insurance and pharmacy is expensive because you are paying for the 3-5 administrators that are standing behind every front line health care worker. You are not just paying for the nurse and the doctors time, but the salary of 3-5, six figure administrators to work 9-5 (with benefits) and be on the company’s softball team on the weekends. These administrators also intentionally understaffed the healthcare facilities that a person is likely to frequent. With the exception of a few places, hospitals are routinely understaffed, and don’t even talk about long term care. That incident in Washington state with the elderly care unit, one sick CNA who has to work to feed their family, could easily have infected those elderly patients, most CNAs have two jobs to make ends meet. CNA’s and nurses commonly have from 15-20 patients to care for in a long term care facility. That kind of service is low quality and your bill still comes to 4000-12000 a month. That’s not intensive medical care, that someone like me bringing you pills in a cup with a cup of water, taking vitals and a 2x a week visit from an occupational therapist. The CNA’s, nurses, and attending physician, and PT’s, OT’s ST’s do ok but that isn’t even a fifth of the cost of staying there. You’re paying for the administrators lifestyle. We have pharmacists who are working like slaves in some of these chain pharmacies. They make good money, but there is a limit to how hard a person works before it gets dangerous to the patient. You seem to think that the free market will provide, yea for those administrators ,who are denying you optimal care because they have to get their cut.
[Two] Whoo! Last day of March, 2020, and one has to admit it’s been a transformative month. A short 30 days ago I don’t think I’d heard of the C- Virus yet; I was like a clueless character in a 50s sci-fi film, (when a radio report in the background briefly mentions strange meteorites crashing into farm fields in the next county) out in the driveway spooling monofilament onto one of my fishing reels, looking forward to spring, radio playing in the background, and on the news report a brief mention of a new sort of flu emanating out of Wuhan Province, China. Which I didn’t pay much attention too. Truly a Black Swan event, one for the ages.
MONEY MINUS VALUE, NO LIMIT
by James Kunstler
You understand, there will be no meaningful resuscitation of the dear, departed, so-called greatest boom in history. Ponzi schemes don’t “bounce back,” they collapse for the simple reason that the pieces holding them up were not really there. Such are the unanticipated consequences of a media over-saturated culture that we were so easily deceived by appearances.
The emotions entrained by this implacable disaster have barely expressed themselves in the social arena. The public is still too shell-shocked by the prospect of losing everything – jobs, incomes, status, chattels, a future – to commence what the shrinks call “acting out.” Anyway, half the country is still acting out over the election of Mr. Trump three years ago.
But, for the moment, an interesting debate rages internationally as to whether the Covid-19 virus was some kind of engineered event designed to bring about various political outcomes. One thread declares that the Democratic Party, its media handmaidens, and a helpful Chinese leadership used the virus to blow up the US economy and finally, after several botched attempts, get rid of the vexing Mr. Trump. It’s a tidy story, but I don’t buy it, for the simple reason that the entire global economy has blown up, including China’s, so you can file that meme in the Wile E. Coyote folder.
A gloss on that one is the idea that NIAID director Anthony Fauci and other medical experts are wicked conspirators bent on destroying American morale by overstating the threat of Covid-19. This includes the phrase that the novel corona virus is “just another seasonal flu,” and so ordering people to stay away from work and business was unnecessary. Again, you’d have to ask yourself why medical experts and other plausibly intelligent people in so many other countries would do exactly the same thing. They can’t all be orcs.
Then there’s the one that has Bill Gates so worked up about climate change that he’s using his foundation’s deep resources to reduce the world’s population by sowing maximum disorder onto the scene with Covid-19 hysteria. This one casts Mr. Gates as something like a villain from a James Bond movie, deep in his Seattle mega-fortress petting a Persian cat as millions perish. Sounds like another case of Americans confusing movies with real life.
Another story has a shadowy gang of “globalists” using the disorder spawned by the virus to impose a centralized global uber-government run by international financiers. First of all, that one smacks of the hoary conspiracy theory that Bilderberger bankers (Jews especially) are scheming to take over the world – yet these supposedly hyper-clever “puppet-masters” are proving that they can’t even run the banks and their own financial ops, which are now crashing down around their ears along with everybody else’s. Thirdly, if there is trend anywhere in this collapse scenario, it is for the devolution of power downward, away from floundering centralized power structures and institutions. As they flounder, the faith of their subject peoples ebbs away and the trust horizon shrinks so that the people are no longer willing to depend on distant authorities for anything.
That floundering of centralized authorities is exactly what’s in process here in the USA. Mr. Trump surely has enough problems attempting to manage this crisis, not the least of which is his own unfortunate habit of jumbled impromptu speech that often sounds like sheer blather. Some observers like to call it “plain speech,” but in my experience even the common folk of America, the plumbers, truck drivers, and waitresses, express themselves more coherently. It’s just not very reassuring. Believe me, I don’t want to see the president fail, but I would advise him to stick to the teleprompter.
Of course, then, there is Joe Biden, the implausible nominee-presumptive of the opposition. Who are they kidding with this emperor’s new clothes scam? It’s obvious now to anyone over twelve in this land that Joe Biden is missing a few transistors on the old motherboard – not to mention the slime-trail of grift and money-laundering that he laid down in his adventures abroad as vice-president. His manner of speech, while different than Mr. Trump’s, is even more pathetically incoherent. The Democrats’ pretense that he is a viable candidate is the ultimate falsehood in a long train of barefaced falsehoods they’ve so earnestly retailed since 2016, making them utterly untrustworthy to run the nation’s affairs.
We don’t know whether anyone, or any faction, will be able to run the nation’s affairs in the months upcoming. The least credible cohort these days are the folks presiding over the financial side of things. There is plenty of debate as to whether the mega bailouts and backstops will bring on inflation or deflation, both ruinous at the grand scale. There’s abundant evidence that this flood of money-from-thin-air will do nothing to arrest the unwind of a system so rotten that it casts an odor across the boundaries of history. Wall Street has screwed America’s pooch so completely that the poor pooch can’t even squeal for mercy anymore. The Federal Reserve crew and their allied banksters have barely a few weeks before an immiserated public comes after them with the modern equivalent of pitchforks. Wait for the breaking news on the cable networks: The Hamptons are burning!
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
Coronavirus Among World's Elite Stoke Class Tensions
by Robbie Whelan & Juan Montes
MEXICO CITY—More than 500 wealthy Mexicans, including many of the country’s financial and business elite, spent their annual winter vacation in the luxe resort town of Vail, Colo. Over two carefree weeks, they skied, shopped, hosted gatherings in their condos, and dined on sushi and steak at trendy restaurants.
By the time they returned to Mexico in early March, at least 50 of them had Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, including the head of Mexico’s stock exchange and the chief executive of the company that owns José Cuervo tequila, according to accounts collected by The Wall Street Journal.
Hundreds are now isolated in self-imposed quarantine. José Kuri, 71, a well-known businessman and cousin of billionaire telecom mogul Carlos Slim, was infected on the trip and remains hospitalized.
Mexican public health officials have identified the Vail trip as a key source of infection for the country. They believe that international competitors, some of whom traveled from Italy, brought the virus to a big snowboarding event held the weekend of Feb. 24.
The Vail trip and the infections that came with it underscore how many of the earliest cases of coronavirus, in countries both rich and poor, spread among those with the resources and leisure time to travel overseas.
The pattern has repeated across the globe. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau tested positive for Covid-19 after traveling in early March to London, where she attended a charity event with celebrities including actor Idris Elba, who also tested positive. Ms. Grégoire Trudeau said she has since fully recovered.
In Brazil, early cases were brought to the country by wealthy travelers vacationing in Italy. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles, heir to the royal throne, have both tested positive. Mr. Johnson, who was taken to the hospital for tests on Sunday in what the government described as a precautionary measure, had traveled to a summit in Germany in late January, although it’s not clear if he was infected while traveling.
Government officials in Cameroon and Kenya have tested positive after returning to their countries from trips to Europe.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau said on March 28 that she had recovered from Covid-19.
Vacation destinations such as ski resorts are particular hotbeds of infection. Public health authorities across Scandinavia said this month that hundreds of travelers were infected with Covid-19 while vacationing in the Austrian alpine village of Ischgl, known as the “Ibiza of the Alps,” and popular in recent years among celebrities like Paris Hilton. Vail, Aspen, and most other popular ski resorts in the western U.S. have been closed.
In most cases, infection was the result of bad luck: Those infected did not realize the scope of the unfolding pandemic or weren’t aware that where they were traveling was a hot spot. Still, the high-profile cases have stoked class tensions and fed a perception that Covid-19 is a rich people’s problem, especially in countries with high levels of economic inequality.
“The majority [of people infected] are well-heeled, didn’t you know?” said Miguel Barbosa, the governor of Mexico’s populous Puebla state, which has reported 38 confirmed cases, in a press conference in late March “If you’re rich, you’re at risk, but the poor, we’re immune.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital after suffering persistent symptoms from Covid-19.
In Uruguay, fashion designer Carmela Hontou returned home in mid March from a trip to Madrid, where the coronavirus was spreading quickly, and unknowingly brought it back. She went to a wedding with 500 guests that weekend, infecting more than 40 people. At least 20 of the first 29 cases in Uruguay were people who had contact with Ms. Hontou, according to health officials.
Ms. Hontou was broadly attacked on social media and sued by the condominium board of the building where she lives. In Uruguay and neighboring Argentina, the coronavirus is nicknamed “La peste de los chetos,” or the plague of the snobs.
Blaming any particular group of people—as defined by their race, social status or national origin—for contracting the illness only makes it harder for doctors to treat it, because fewer people with symptoms will come forward for fear of public shaming, making it harder to track, said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University who has been following the pandemic.
This, in turn, puts entire societies at risk, especially poorer, more vulnerable populations that have less access to health care services and who can’t afford to stay home from work and self-quarantine.
“Any politician, anyone trying to blame coronavirus on the rich is actually endangering the poor,” Dr. Nuzzo said.
Widespread jet-setting and increased connectivity have created the perfect conditions for coronavirus to spread quickly, infectious disease experts say. Global airline traffic has soared since the SARS outbreak in 2003, with the number of passengers carried climbing from 3.53 billion to 4.3 billion last year, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations.
In addition, the global fleet of corporate planes has more than doubled over the past 20 years to 22,000, according to consultant Jetnet LLC, with more than two-thirds in the U.S. and Mexico and Brazil among the global top five.
Global air travel has plummeted amid the pandemic, with some airlines cutting flight volumes by as much as one-half and many countries enacting travel restrictions to slow the virus’ spread. The U.S. airline industry is seeking a $50 billion bailout on top of $250 billion in support to the travel industry from the federal government.
The World Health Organization has warned for years that the rapid rise of air travel was making epidemics harder to control. In 2003, Hussein Gezairy, a Saudi physician and regional director for the WHO, wrote that “because of rapid air travel, no country is safe from infectious diseases and an outbreak in one country can easily and rapidly be transmitted across long distances to affect other countries through travel and trade.”
In Brazil, Cleonice Gonalves, a 63-year-old housekeeper who worked in the tony Leblon neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, died of pneumonia after testing positive for Covid-19 in mid-March. Ms. Gonalves’ employer had recently returned from a trip to Italy and told the housekeeper’s family she had tested positive for the virus on the morning before Ms. Gonalves’ died. Authorities are investigating 18 suspected cases of Covid-19 in Ms. Gonalves’ hometown of Miguel Pereira.
Class resentments in Mexico flared on social media after David Jassan, a polo-playing businessman who sells technology to call centers, was diagnosed with the virus after socializing with friends who had been on the Vail trip.
After being diagnosed, Mr. Jassan posted a video on a chat with friends from his hospital room. At a time when the Mexican government was still not telling citizens to start social distancing, Mr. Jassan urged quicker action to avoid overcrowded hospitals like Spain and Italy.
Mr. Jassan’s assertion caused supporters of populist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to dub him “#LordNeumonia”—using the Spanish word for pneumonia—on social media, where he was relentlessly attacked as a faker seeking to embarrass Mexico’s president by spreading panic about the coronavirus.
“I always wanted to get a title of nobility, and now I’m a Lord,” joked Mr. Jassan in a phone interview from his hospital bed at Mexico City’s ABC Medical Center.
Mexico’s business elite has been traveling to Vail since the 1970s, said Christopher Romer, head of the Vail Valley Partnership, a business group.
Jaime Ruiz Sacristan, chairman of Mexico's stock exchange, was infected with the coronavirus.
Most Mexicans visit during the ninth week of the year—the group trip is referred to as “La Novena,” Spanish for “the ninth”—because snow is still fresh but the weather is milder, as winter is coming to an end. Some ski classes at the resort are offered in Spanish to accommodate Mexican visitors.
“There is deep concern in business circles,” said Gustavo de Hoyos, the head of business group Coparmex. “The coronavirus crisis coincided with the big season for Mexicans in Vail, and many businessmen were there.”
The Mexicans who visited Vail and have been infected include Mr. Kuri and, according to Mexico’s stock exchange, its 68-year-old chairman Jaime Ruiz Sacristan.Juan Domingo Beckmann, 52, the chief executive of the company that owns the Jose Cuervo tequila brand, was also infected, his company said, and is reported to be in stable condition.
Mexico’s central bank reported that a top official tested positive. Bank officials believe that this official, who did not visit Vail, was in contact with Mr. Sacristan, according to a person familiar with the situation. The official later attended a banking conference with hundreds of financial industry professionals in Acapulco the week of March 9. Mexico’s president and finance minister also attended the banking conference.
This year, the Mexican trek to Vail coincided with the Burton U.S. Open, which typically attracts between 10,000 and 20,000 spectators. Images from YouTube show crowds packed in grandstands.
In the western state of Jalisco, 18 people who visited Vail have tested positive for the coronavirus, said Fernando Petersen, the state’s health minister. The state has detected a total of 123 positive cases as of Sunday.
“Most probably the Mexicans had some contact with infected people from Europe attending the competition,” Mr. Petersen said.
Fausto Miranda, a Mexican private-equity fund manager who travels to Vail every year, says that he knows at least 10 people who have been confirmed positive for the virus after this year’s trip. He has been in self-quarantine in Mexico City after returning in early March, with no signs of illness.
“These things happen,” said Mr. Miranda, who by chance did not attend the snowboarding competition this year. “I could have just as easily traveled to New York on business, and New York could have been the problem instead of Vail.”
(Wall Street Journal)