Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Coronavirus dashboard for November 30

Coronavirus dashboard for November 3

Total US confirmed infections: 13,383,320*

Average US infections last 7 days: 162,365 (vs. latest low of 34,354 on Sept 12)
Total US deaths: 266,873
Average US deaths last 7 days: 1,430 (vs. latest low of 701 on Oct 16)

*I suspect the real number is 18-19,000,000, or between 5 to 6% of the total US population
Source: COVID Tracking Project

Infections are out of control over much, if not most, of the country. North and South Dakota, the 2 worst States, now have had confirmed infections in over 10% and over 9% of their entire populations (and probably much worse than that since many asymptomatic cases go undetected):

While the earliest hard hit States, NY and NJ, still have had the highest death tolls, 8 more States have suffered fatalities in excess of 1 in 1000 of their total populations:

“with our breathtaking landscapes and wide-open spaces, we’re a place to safely explore.”

South Dakota: the Land of the Free.

Celebrate what makes America great, and experience the Great Faces and Great Places of South Dakota.

This is a bit of old news from September. Both South and North Dakota have emerged as the nations hot spots for Covid infections even though sparsely populated per square mile and with smaller populations than other states. The situation has worsened since this article was originally run by CBS News and if North and South Dakota were countries they would be #1 and #2 globally for cases per million with a death rate per million in the top ten globally. Is there no shame left?

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration announced Tuesday that it is using federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for a $5 million tourism ad campaign aimed at drawing people to the state. The move comes even as the state emerges as one of the nation’s top hot spots (#2 after North Dakota) for COVID-19 infections per million.

South Dakota with ~900,000 people ranks second in the US for Covid cases/million (89,412) and  second only to North Dakota (102,269) with a lesser population of ~800,000. The death rate per million for South Dakota is 1065/million placing it #9 in the US and after more densely populated states in the US.

State Medicaid Reported Enrollment Compared to CMS’s Reports and Covid’s Impact on Medicaid

I get commentary (in my emails) from xpostfactoid who writes on healthcare issues and also does a yeoman’s function not found elsewhere  in reconciling ACA signups, the differences between the penalty-mandate vs no penalty-mandate, Medicaid signups by state in both expansion and non-expansion states, and lately the impact on Medicaid due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The data and commentary by xpostfactoid for this particular summary by me can be found here; State Medicaid enrollment totals in light of CMS’s (lagging) reports, November 27, 2020

Why track Medicaid numbers? As you well know, unemployment has increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of the shutdowns of businesses and government facilities. The resulting layoffs have caused many people to lose not only their healthcare but also their healthcare insurance. Two ways to qualify for healthcare insurance is on the healthcare exchanges which will still look at annual income or through state Medicaid which looks at “current” income. If you are laid off and have no income (or less than 100% FPL [unless your state says differently] or 138% FPL in expansion states0, you can qualify for Medicaid CMS’s monthly totals of state-by-state Medicaid enrollment growth during 202 as impacted by Covid-19 in 2020 is currently posted Medicaid.Gov through July reflecting:

  • five months of enrollment  as affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and
  • four-plus months in which the suspension of disenrollment mandated by the Families First Act was in effect.

Lord, the Pain of it

The good mayor of El Paso is at wit’s end. He is worrying himself into the grave. The City’s hospitals and morgues are overflowing. Seems that the people have to work to eat, and, if they work, they get the virus and get sick, and, too many die. Damned capitalism is as deadly as the virus; together they are a catastrophe. Maybe, if he would just step across the border into New Mexico, better yet, hop on a plane to San Francisco, better to get as far away from Texas as possible, we could explain the problem to him without being drowned out by the ignorant Texas dogma coming out of Austin; crapola he’s heard his whole life.

In a functioning state, there are dozens of examples, the government would have handed out masks and hand sanitizer, and free food as the need arose. It would have worked out a deal on the rents. The government would have mandated the changes needed to make the workplaces safe. If the government had done these things, had functioned, instead of blithering on about capitalism and the American way, the people could have kept on working without getting sick and dying by the droves; and, the economy could have kept on working. What our government didn’t do is killing us by the hundreds of thousands; destroying the nation.

Coronavirus dashboard for November 20: North Dakota “leads” the world

Coronavirus dashboard for November 20: North Dakota “leads” the world


Total US infections: 11,715,316*

Average last 7 days: 165,029/day (new record high = 1 out of every 2000 Americans infected per day!)

Total US deaths: 252,535
Average last 7 days: 1,335/day
Source: COVID Tracking Project
*confirmed cases only: I suspect the total number is on the order of 17 million, or 5% of the total US population (other estimates are much higher).

Just how ghastly is the situation in the northern Great Plains and Mountain States? So bad that if North Dakota were a country, it would be “leading” the world in infections and new deaths per capita, and rapidly approaching “leading” the world in total deaths per capita.

Here are the “top 10” US States for total confirmed infections (plus New York for comparison purposes):

Almost 9% of the entire population of North Dakota has had a *confirmed* infection. In about another week, that should be over 10% (and probably is already including infections that have not been confirmed).


Could JFK Be Saved Today?

As you must know by now, I read the healthcare articles. One of my favored spots is MedPage Today where I pick up the less technical information on what is going on in healthcare.

November 22. 1963 is the day President John Kennedy was assassinated. My whereabouts was sitting in a high school study hall along with 100 other boys getting through my first year at Lane Technical H.S., an all boys school. November 22nd and the principal, who we called “froggy” because of the twangy noise from the school speakers pre-announcement, came across the school loud speaker announcing John F. Kennedy had been shot about the same time as the thought had passed through my head. Or at least, I remember it this way. It is hard to know what one would think at such an announcement or result at such an age. I wouldn’t till about 5 years later.

A medical question arises as to;

“How different might John Kennedy’s care be in 2020? Could modern medicine techniques have helped President Kennedy to survive if his shooting happened today?”

A Clinical Trial for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is the most common kind of leukemia in adults. Current therapy is extremely unpleasant and often (usually) fails. There is a very large number of clinical trials of new therapies mostly immunotherapies. They are based on the fact that CLL cells are B-cells which express CD20.

One such trial is NCT03759184 Human IL-15 (rhIL-15) and Obinutuzumab for Relapsed and Refractory Chronic Lymphocyte Leukemia

This is a therapy which isn’t too horrible. The doctors are having some trouble recruiting patients (as noted above there are many trials attempting to treat people with relapsed and refractory CLL).

Complete disclosure: one of those doctors is my dad.

People with relapsed and refractory CLL who are interested in considering whether to enrol in the trial can

Contact: NCI Medical Oncology Referral Office (240) 760-6050

Coronavirus Dashboard for November 16: raging out of control

Coronavirus Dashboard for November 16: raging out of control

Total US infections: 11,036,935*

Average last 7 days: 148,725/day (new record high)
Total US deaths: 246,214
Average last 7 days: 1,103/day
Source: COVID Tracking Project
*confirmed cases only: I suspect the total number is on the order of 16 million, or close to 5% of the total US population.

Back in August, when summer’s 2nd wave of new infections was near its peak, I devised my own rating system as to how each State was doing, as follows:

Deep Red (general alarm out-of-control fire): 200+ infections per million, 5+ deaths per million.
Red (3 alarm fire): 100-200 infections, 2-5 deaths
Orange (2 alarm fire): 60-100 infections, 1-2 deaths
Yellow (1 alarm fire):40-60 infections, 0.5-1 deaths
Blue (smoldering/1 alarm fire): 20-40 infections, 0.2-0.5 deaths
Green (embers): 0-20 infections,  0-0.2 deaths

As to infections, most of the States (33) were in the “Red” or “Orange” categories.

At the high extreme, there were 5 States in the “Deep Red” category for infections: MS, ND, GA, TN, and AL.


This update from XPOSTFACTOID showed up in my inbox. If Roberts and Kavanaugh continue on the same path they have started out on initially, it appears the case brought about by Texas may fail. Briefly, here are some points made.

November 10, 2020 in oral argument; California v. Texas  Roberts appears equally skeptical about this argument from intent. In oral argument yesterday, Kyle Hawkins, arguing for Texas, made the case:

“I think it’s critical that, in 2017, Congress could have excised the legislative findings in 18091 [the assertion of severability], but it chose not  to do so. It could have excised —

Roberts interjected:

Well, but I mean — I — I certainly agree with you about our job in interpreting the statute, but, under the severability question, where — we ask ourselves whether Congress would want the rest of the law to survive if an unconstitutional provision were severed. And, here, Congress left the rest of the law intact when it lowered the penalty to zero. That seems to be compelling evidence on the question.

In Roberts’ King v. Burwell decision: Congress repealed the individual mandate penalty, not the entire law.

Erwin Chemerinsky Explains Severability