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Just Some Conversation

Republicans finally get “death panels,” Hullabaloo, Tom Sullivan, July, 26, 2020

Dr. Jose Vasquez, the health officer for Starr County, Texas located on the US-Mexico border “The situation is desperate.” At the only hospital in the county, over 50% of patients are testing positive for the COVID-19 virus — 40 new coronavirus cases were reported Thursday. Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City made plans to set up a committee to decide which patients to send home to die. The hospital will ration its resources to patients with the best chances of surviving  (CNN).

Texas
Fri, July 24, 2020
126 died this day
5 002 total deaths
391 609 tot. confirm cases
7 947 new confirmed
2.1% daily growth

The hospital quickly filled the eight beds in its Covid-19 unit, so it expanded to 17 and then 29 beds, Vasquez said. About 33 medical workers, including medical practitioners and lab technicians, were deployed by the state to assist the hospital.

“Unfortunately, Starr County Memorial Hospital has limited resources and our doctors are going to have to decide who receives treatment, and who is sent home to die by their loved ones,” Starr County Judge Eloy Vera wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “This is what we did not want our community to experience.”

Republicans screamed about ACA death panels  deciding whether citizens could have treatment under its regime.

Does Gun Ownership and Concealed Carry Deter the Frequency of Mass Shootings and Firearms Homicide?,” Justice Quarterly, Emma E. Fridel, July 23, 2020

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Covid litigation and immunization

(Dan here…a note for reality)

Full liability release for businesses and hospitals

It’s necessary, Mitch McConnell and his colleagues say, because of a “flood” of frivolous lawsuits crushing businesses and threatening economic recovery. So it’s important to say this clearly and out loud: there is no crisis of COVID-19 litigation. It’s made-up, it doesn’t exist, it’s a ploy to get businesses out of paying for compliance. That’s entirely it.

We have all the evidence we need on this. Hunton Andrews Kurth, a law firm, has been dutifully tracking COVID-19 complaints at its website for all to see. As of today, it shows 3,521 “complaints,” but the majority of those involve petitions for prisoner release and fights over insurance claims, as well as consumer and contract disputes. Under “labor and employment” there are a grand total of 302 cases, total, across the entire country.

There are 616 “civil rights” claims, and while most of those are challenges to stay-at-home orders, a couple of those might be business-related. At least one high-profile workplace case, against Tyson and JBS meatpacking plants, is being contested under the Civil Rights Act. The claim is that the largely Black and Latino workforces were not protected due to racial discrimination, compared to the mostly white managers. But that’s a very particular situation.

If you’re talking about the kind of cases that McConnell claims are “flooding” courts—“conditions of employment” cases alleging wrongful death, exposure to COVID-19, or a lack of personal protective equipment—there are 67 such cases. There are 33 wrongful death cases in the “Health/Medical” section but almost all of them have been filed against nursing homes. There are 6 malpractice cases, only one a COVID-19 misdiagnosis that resulted in death (three others are about nursing homes). There’s exactly one (1) miscellaneous wrongful death tort case outside the labor and health sections.

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Not ageing well . . .

A month ago, when the public health community was warning about the dangers of premature opening and our reality show President was turning mask-wearing into a culture war issue, David Henderson and Jonathan Lipow decided to use precious space on the Wall Street Journal op ed page to publish an essay titled “The Data Are In: It’s Time for Major Reopening” (ungated at the link).  They argue that “populationwide lockdowns should end” and even suggest that social distancing has been harmful.  OK, then, I guess there’s no need to second-guess re-opening bars in Florida or Arizona.  And no need to worry about testing and contact tracing, despite the fact that one of the papers they cite to support their position recommends it.  And no need to tear our hair out worrying about masks.  It’s all good.

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Opening schools

Important questions from my friend

Paula W……..

! Listen up world!

Betsy DeVos, we have a few questions for you:
• If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered, paid?
• If that teacher has 5 classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?
• Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids’ families need to get tested? Who pays for that?
• What if someone who lives in the same house as a teacher tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine? Is that time off covered? Paid?
• Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?

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A Framework for Coronavirus Policy

A Framework for Coronavirus Policy

There are two general ways to reduce the transmission of the virus.  One is “engineering”, changing the physical environment, the other is “social”, changing behavior to keep people distant from each other.  Under engineering, we can include not only physical partitions, UV lighting and ventilation, but also mask-wearing and other PPE.  I know, there is a very large behavioral component to masking, but I want to focus on the distancing aspect, so let’s put everything else in the engineering box.

Now for distancing.  Suppose we know instantaneously and with certainty everyone who is infected.  In that case, we can selectively quarantine them, and this will cut off transmission.  That is possible only in rare circumstances, such as a country that has fully eradicated the virus but has occasional external visitors.  If you have a reliable test you can identify anyone arriving with the disease and isolate them.  The rest of the population, known to be uninfected and unexposed, can move freely and congregate as they want.

A more realistic case is that you know with near certainty everyone who is infected, but only with a delay.  Then those who came into contact with them during their potential spreading period are also suspect and need to be isolated.  This is the idea behind contact tracing, which imposes distancing on a small subset of the population who may not be infected but leaves everyone else free to go on with their life.

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Coronavirus dashboard for July 14: A few US States are containing the coronavirus

Coronavirus dashboard for July 14: A few US States are containing the coronavirus

Headlines for the US:
Total infections: 3,364,704
7 day average: 60,997
Total deaths: 135,615
7 day average: 780

We all know that taken as a whole, the US is failing abysmally in controlling the coronavirus. At least 13 States most notably including California are “re-closing” at least in part.  In the last week, deaths, which had continued to decline despite the renewed exponential rise in cases in many areas, finally started to rise as well:

that, for the first time in months, on Sunday New York City did not have even a single death from the coronavirus, I thought I would take a look to see if New York, or any other States, have continued to “crush the curve.” There are a few slivers of good news.

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“Speechless – Trump White House is now muzzling, bypassing, and kneecapping the CDC,”

Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding . . . “No other ways to spin this.” Common Dreams, “Warnings of Possible Cover-Up in Progress”

I was hoping I could get the clip of Doctor Wen discussing what the Trump administration has done in its end run around the CDC. I couldn’t C&P the embed code as it is in a lock down and I do not have the wave length to create one for it. You can view the news clip here “Trump Orders Hospitals to give him the data.”

Common Dreams has a good article up concerning Trump’s take over of the Hospital Covid Data reporting. The general opinion is the data will be massaged into a better outlook favoring Trump and his followers. I do not read of many people claiming different about the political nature of this take over. Alex Azar’s H.H.S. will replace the C.D.C. in collecting daily reports about the patients each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.

Four former CDC directors wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday that “no president has ever politicized [the CDC’s] science the way Trump has.”

In the WaPo po-ed, Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher, and Richard Besser wrote: “Trying to fight this pandemic while subverting scientific expertise is like fighting blindfolded. It is not too late to give the CDC its proper role in guiding this response. But the clock is ticking.”

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Coronavirus dashboard for July 8: deaths in the South and West finally suggest increasing trend

Coronavirus dashboard for July 8: deaths in the South and West finally suggest increasing trend

Coronavirus death statistics have been plagued recently by State data dumps, where months of deaths have been released on a single day. In the past 2 weeks, both NJ and NY’s such releases had skewed the numbers. As of today, both are out of the 7 day statistics, so I thought I would update again.

One bit of good news, statistics-wise, is that the COVID tracker now has the ability to include hospitalizations (although FL still isn’t fully releasing its numbers). So here are hospitalizations per capita in the 4 US regions:

In the past few weeks, hospitalizations have continued to decline in the Northeast, stayed flat in the Midwest, risen slightly in the West starting 14 days ago, and increased by more than 50% in the South starting 19 days ago.

 

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Coronavirus dashboard for July 8: deaths in the South and West finally suggest increasing trend

Coronavirus dashboard for July 8: deaths in the South and West finally suggest increasing trend

Coronavirus death statistics have been plagued recently by State data dumps, where months of deaths have been released on a single day. In the past 2 weeks, both NJ and NY’s such releases had skewed the numbers. As of today, both are out of the 7 day statistics, so I thought I would update again.

One bit of good news, statistics-wise, is that the COVID tracker now has the ability to include hospitalizations (although FL still isn’t fully releasing its numbers). So here are hospitalizations per capita in the 4 US regions:

In the past few weeks, hospitalizations have continued to decline in the Northeast, stayed flat in the Midwest, risen slightly in the West starting 14 days ago, and increased by more than 50% in the South starting 19 days ago.

 

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Coronavirus dashboard for July 7, 2020: deaths as a *very* lagging statistic

Coronavirus dashboard for July 7, 2020: deaths as a *very* lagging statistic

Total diagnosed US coronavirus cases: 2,928,418
7 day average: 50,135
Total US coronavirus deaths: 122,915
7 day average: 480

The renewed exponential spread of coronavirus cases is continuing. We will probably be over 3 million cases within 48 hours. Including all of the undiagnosed cases (especially in April and May), probably about 2.5%-3% of the entire US population has been infected by this point.

There is still not enough medical mask production. There is still not a thorough testing program in place. There is still not a significant tracing or isolation protocol in place. There will be none of these until at least January 20, 2021.

The big paradox remains why deaths have continued to decline, albeit very slowly, even while new cases have skyrocketed for at least the last 3 weeks. A detailed look at the top 10 states for new infections per capita, and comparing them with the Northeast megalopolis, is especially telling.

To begin, here are the 4 regions of the US by new cases per capita:

And here are the same 4 regions by deaths per capita:

 

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