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Today's News (2020/5/10): Donkeyballs Incompetence (and other news) Edition

I'm pretty much thinking that the Obama commentary in this update - commentary not intended for public consumption, but it came out anyway - is what led to this weekend's "OBAMAGATE" tweet by Donkeyballs Donald and the resulting twitterstorm by bots, conspiracy theorists, fascists, and all the other usual Republican crowd. If you can get through all the bot tweets just repeating the hashtag, it's kind of an important look inside, to see how there's just nothing in it news-wise? But lots of calls for mass arrests of Obama administration officials, along with lots and lots of quoting Plandemic and QAnon and OAN and all of that delusional nonsense.

I mean, obviously, they always have that shit queued up. But I think the Obama commentary is what made Donkeyballs pull this particular trigger.

And, as always, Cascadia Now.

  1. Scoop: Trump officials' dysfunction harms delivery of coronavirus drug
  2. In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America
  3. 'It makes no sense': Feds consider relaxing infection control in US nursing homes [EDITOR: This is not included in the sabotage edition because it was queued up a a rules change before the pandemic.]
  4. White House adviser Hassett: 'It's scary to go to work'
  5. The four men responsible for America's COVID-19 test disaster
  6. Obama says end to Michael Flynn case puts rule of law at risk, calls covid-19 response a ‘disaster’
  7. Small businesses band together to sue insurers over coronavirus damage
  8. GOP Senate Candidate Wants To Ban Chinese Students From American Universities
  9. Doctors keep discovering new ways coronavirus attacks body

----- 1 -----
Scoop: Trump officials' dysfunction harms delivery of coronavirus drug
Jonathan Swan
8 May 2020

A complete breakdown in communication and coordination within the Trump administration has undermined the distribution of a promising treatment, according to senior officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Why it matters: The drug, remdesivir, hasn't made it to some of the high-priority hospitals where it's most needed, and administration officials have responded by shifting blame and avoiding responsibility, sources said.

Where it stands: Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, donated hundreds of thousands of doses to the federal government after the Food and Drug Administration authorized it as an emergency treatment for coronavirus patients.

----- 2 -----
In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America
By Aaron C. Davis
May 9, 2020 at 9:06 a.m. PDT

It was Jan. 22, a day after the first case of covid-19 was detected in the United States, and orders were pouring into Michael Bowen’s company outside Fort Worth, some from as far away as Hong Kong.

Bowen’s medical supply company, Prestige Ameritech, could ramp up production to make an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week. He viewed the shrinking domestic production of medical masks as a national security issue, though, and he wanted to give the federal government first dibs.

“We still have four like-new N95 manufacturing lines,” Bowen wrote that day in an email to top administrators in the Department of Health and Human Services. “Reactivating these machines would be very difficult and very expensive but could be achieved in a dire situation.”

But communications over several days with senior agency officials — including Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and emergency response — left Bowen with the clear impression that there was little immediate interest in his offer.

“I don’t believe we as an government are anywhere near answering those questions for you yet,” Laura Wolf, director of the agency’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection, responded that same day.

Bowen persisted.

“We are the last major domestic mask company,” he wrote on Jan. 23. “My phones are ringing now, so I don’t ‘need’ government business. I’m just letting you know that I can help you preserve our infrastructure if things ever get really bad. I’m a patriot first, businessman second.”

In the end, the government did not take Bowen up on his offer. Even today, production lines that could be making more than 7 million masks a month sit dormant.

----- 3 -----
'It makes no sense': Feds consider relaxing infection control in US nursing homes
Marisa Kwiatkowski
Tricia L. Nadolny
May 4, 2020

[EDITOR: This is not included in the sabotage edition because it was queued up a a rules change before the pandemic. Not cancelling it might be counted as sabotage, but since that wasn't the original intent, I'm including it separately here.]

The federal government is considering rolling back infection control requirements in U.S. nursing homes – even as the long-term-care industry's residents and workers are overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

A rule proposed last year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would modify the amount of time an infection preventionist must devote to a facility from at least part-time to "sufficient time," an undefined term that lets the facility decide how much time should be spent. The regulation has not been finalized, but CMS last week defended its proposal, saying it aims to reduce regulatory burden and strengthen infection control.

Opponents of the change said the rule could leave nursing home residents more vulnerable to infection. They expressed concern, especially given the devastation COVID-19 has caused within long-term care facilities.

"It makes no sense at all – prior to pandemic, but more so now during a pandemic – to roll back any of the necessary infection and control requirements and the federal regulations," said Lindsay Heckler, a supervising attorney at the Center for Elder Law & Justice, a civil legal services agency in Buffalo, New York. "They should be strengthening these infection and control requirements."

----- 4 -----
White House adviser Hassett: 'It's scary to go to work'
Hassett said he practices "aggressive social distancing."
05/10/2020 11:23 AM EDT

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett acknowledged on Sunday it’s risky to work in the White House now that several staff have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“It’s scary to go to work,” he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I'll wear a mask when I feel it's necessary," he explained, noting he had one with him for Sunday’s interview.

Guidance now from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face coverings to curb the spread of the coronavirus, though President Donald Trump has said the guidance is "voluntary" and that he didn’t plan on following it personally.

----- 5 -----
10 May 2020

An LA nurse was faced with a choice: rush into a COVID patient’s room to save him while only wearing a thin surgical mask, or wait to find an N95. She chose the former, and then died of COVID.

[LINKS TO: A nurse without an N95 mask raced in to treat a 'code blue' patient. She died 14 days later.]

----- 6 -----
The four men responsible for America's COVID-19 test disaster
The White House’s inability to track the disease as it spread across the nation crippled the government’s response and led to the worst disaster this country has faced in nearly a century
Tim Dickinson
Rolling Stone
May 10, 2020

This story appears in the June 2020 issue of Rolling Stone.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, flanked Donald Trump at the podium in the White House briefing room. It was February 29th, the day of the first reported U.S. death from the coronavirus, and the president fielded an urgent question: “How should Americans prepare for this virus?” a reporter asked. “Should they go on with their daily lives? Change their routine? What should they do?”

In that moment, America was flying blind into a pandemic; the virus was on the loose, and nobody quite knew where. The lives of tens of thousands hinged on the advice about to be delivered by the president and his top public-health advisers. Trump began: “Well, I hope they don’t change their routine,” before he trailed off, and, quite uncharacteristically, called on an expert to finish the response. “Bob?” he said. “Do you want to answer that?”

A tall man, with a tan, freckled head, and a snow-white chinstrap beard, Redfield stepped to the podium. “The risk at this time is low,” Redfield told the country. “The American public needs to go on with their normal lives.”

This reassurance came at precisely, and tragically, the wrong time. With a different answer, much of the human devastation that was about to unfold in the United States would have been avoidable. Academic research from Imperial College in London, modeling the U.S. response, estimates that up to 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented had the U.S. moved to shut down by March 2nd. Instead, administration leaders dragged their feet for another two weeks, as the virus continued a silent, exponential assault. By early May, more than 75,000 Americans were dead.

Even as he spoke, Redfield knew the country should be taking a different course. The Coronavirus Task Force had resolved to present the president with a plan for mitigation efforts, like school and business closures, on February 24th, but reportedly reversed course after Trump exploded about the economic fallout. Instead, the CDC director continued touting “aggressive containment” to Congress on February 27th. Experts tell Rolling Stone that ship had sailed when the virus made the leap from infected travelers into the general public. “If you’ve got a community spreading respiratory virus, it’s not going to be containable,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “You have to shift to mitigation right away.”

----- 7 -----
Obama says end to Michael Flynn case puts rule of law at risk, calls covid-19 response a ‘disaster’
By Hannah Knowles and Meryl Kornfield
May 9, 2020 at 4:27 p.m. PDT

Former president Barack Obama shared deep worries Friday about the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, telling old aides on a call that “our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,” according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News and confirmed by an Obama spokesperson.

Obama also appeared to slam the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as an “absolute chaotic disaster,” offering the sort of blistering criticisms he has rarely aired in public. Obama said shortly before President Trump took office that he would only weigh in on his successor’s actions when he believes “our core values may be at stake.”

With his comments on Flynn, Obama joined a wave of criticism from Democrats and law enforcement officials, as legal analysts see a pattern by Attorney General William P. Barr to intervene in cases that involve the president’s allies. The Justice Department moved this week to drop its case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador amid Robert S. Mueller III’s special counsel inquiry. He is now seeking to withdraw that plea.

“There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,” Obama said in the Friday night call to about 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association, according to his spokeswoman. “That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”

----- 8 -----
Small businesses band together to sue insurers over coronavirus damage
By Steve Miletich
Seattle Times staff reporter
May 9, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic has decimated small businesses across the country, shell-shocked owners have turned to their insurance carriers to cover devastating financial losses thrust on them by state shutdown orders.

In many cases, the response from insurers has been: We don’t cover viruses.

Tacoma dentist Arnell Prato was among those who got that answer. That drove him to join a growing number of small-business owners locally and nationally who are suing their insurers, alleging breach of contract after paying their premiums for years.

“I’ve never seen or experienced anything like this,” said Prato, who has practiced dentistry in Washington for 10 years.

He is now in the middle of a battle pitting people like him against a powerful industry that insists it is sympathetic to the plight of small-business owners, but not legally on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars in losses that were never anticipated to be covered under a catastrophic economic standstill.

----- 9 -----
GOP Senate Candidate Wants To Ban Chinese Students From American Universities
Corky Messner, who is running in New Hampshire, said the U.S. needs to punish China for its role in spreading the coronavirus.
By Amanda Terkel
8 May 2020

Bryant “Corky” Messner, a Republican running for his party’s U.S. Senate nomination in New Hampshire, wants to crack down on China for its role in spreading the coronavirus.

“The Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for the damages they have caused the world as a result of their gross negligence, conduct ― and I might even argue that it was criminally negligent conduct,” Messner said during a virtual town hall he hosted Thursday.

He said the “developed countries of the world who owe China money” should stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” and refuse to pay the debt. He argued there should be a focus on border security and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

And, Messner said, Chinese students should be banned from American colleges and universities.

“We also have to, I think, not allow Chinese students to attend American universities, because they come here and they become educated, and they go back with our intellectual property,” he said. “The United States can no longer be the research and development arm for the Chinese Communist Party. It’s just not acceptable.”

----- 10 -----
Doctors keep discovering new ways coronavirus attacks body
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
and Lenny Bernstein
The Washington Post
10 May 2020

Deborah Coughlin was neither short of breath nor coughing. In those first days after she contracted the novel coronavirus, her fever never spiked above 100 degrees. It was vomiting and diarrhea that brought her to a Hartford, Connecticut, emergency room on May 1.

“You would have thought it was a stomach virus,” said her daughter Catherina Coleman. “She was talking and walking and completely coherent.”

But even as Coughlin, 67, chatted with her daughters on her cellphone, the oxygen level in her blood dropped so low that most patients would be near death. She is on a ventilator and in critical condition at St. Francis Hospital, one more patient with an increasingly diverse constellation of symptoms physicians are racing to recognize, explain and treat.

“At the beginning, we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” said Valentin Fuster, chief physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. “We were seeing patients dying in front of us. It was all of a sudden, you’re in a different ballgame, and you don’t know why.”

Today, there is widespread recognition that the novel coronavirus is far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus, one with the potential to attack from the brain to the toes. Many doctors are focused on treating the inflammatory reactions it triggers and its capacity to cause blood clots as they struggle to help their patients breathe.

Learning about a new disease on the fly, with more than 78,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the pandemic, they have little solid research to guide them, though the World Health Organization’s database already lists more than 14,600 papers on covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes. Even the world’s premier public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have constantly altered their advice to keep pace with new developments.

“We don’t know why there are so many disease presentations,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Bottom line, this is just so new that there’s a lot we don’t know.”

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Tags: cascadia now, covid19, politics
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