Free Speech and Social Media

The power of social media is huge.   In a survey, 19% of all Americans say they follow Donald Trump’s tweets.  Fact checking websites show that the worst lies come from anonymous social media bloggers on Facebook and Twitter.   Donald Trump comes in a close second in terms of lies, with only 4% of his statements being 100% true and an incredible 69% of his statements being mostly false, false or pants on fire according to Politifact.

Twitter has never refused a tweet from  Donald Trump.  Even when he’s attacking Twitter,  it  all goes through exactly as he sends it, and the 19% of our population can read his lies.  Often his lies are then supported on conservative commentary on cable news (Fox and OAN to name a couple).

However,  Twitter attempted to discourage false information by adding a label on his tweet.

What you need to know
– Trump claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.
– Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.
– Five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting, according to NBC News.

Simple and factual.   Trump really stepped over the line by saying anybody can get a ballot.  His comment of a rigged election can be considered an opinion, based on false information.    Please read this stuff.  Worse, cable stations repeat this.  A friend of ours was repeating exactly the same story, because it was all over the news.

I remember how one “prominent doctor” on Facebook in Brazil, all people had to do was to take zinc pills to prevent Covid-19.   Go dancing, drinking, etc and take zinc.  No thanks.  Brazil just passed 25,000 deaths as we passed 100,000.  Their outbreak started after ours.

Social media allowed Trump to promote  hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a preventative and possible cure of Covid-19.  It was neither and those people so gullible to believe him, could have risked their lives, as the medication actually increases the chance of dying from Covid-19.  And yet, cable network shows (it is not responsible journalism) like Fox News and OAN were blasting other the liberal media for not letting folks know there was this quick and safe treatment for Covid-19.

Executive orders from the White House will not shut down social media.  Our First Amendment allows Twitter to add labels as they see fit, and  also for Trump to post obvious lies with immunity.

I am hoping the real push back will come from 80 million Americans who  recognize this stuff from Trump is false (or Fake News as he likes it).    We will have open and free elections.   No, the liberal media are not hiding some quick solution to Covid-19.  The quack cures for Covid-19 were harmful to ones health.

I do not send or receive tweets.  To me, that’s like bathing in a river of slime. (see Ghostbusters II).   I am quite frustrated by people who think they can become informed by reading this stuff.

I’ll end this blog by repeating some of my favorite fact checking sites.

Stay tuned and healthy,

Dave

Factcheck.org

CNN Fact Check

Politifact.com

Snopes.com

How Covid-19 pushed Twitter to fact-check Trump’s tweets

Washington Post:  Trump lashes out at social media companies after Twitter labels tweets with fact checks

Covid-19: Going for the long game

Anger and quick solutions go hand in hand.   It’s reactive.  It’s frustration and a feeling of loss control.     Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 342,000 people worldwide.  The US death toll is 100,000 and grows everyday.   Whether we are on the increase or decrease, all depends on where you live.  In Russia and Brazil, Covid-19 is increasing exponentially.   Residents are directing their anger at President  Bolsonaro of Brazil, who downplayed the risk of Covid-19.   It seems he’s in the Bob Marley camp of “Don’t worry about of thing, everything little thing is gonna be alright.”   Bolsonaro downplayed the Amazon forest fires.

Anger has a bad habit of blocking out reason.   If you’re pushed, the tendency is to push back.   And then, what is accomplished.

So, who do we blame.?  The enemy is not China, not Bolsonaro, not bats, not bad test protocols, or not bureaucrats.  It’s not WHO or Obama or Democrats.  We could certainly start with ourselves and the highly connected world that serves our needs.

We need a larger perspective.  This is not the last pandemic.   Next time, it may come from South America, Africa or Asia.   If a disease is hosted initially by a mosquito. bird or bat, it doesn’t take much to take the next leap into humans.  If  a disease can hide its symptoms, is highly infectious and enters a large city, like Wuhan with 11 million residents, we will be in trouble again.   Millions of travelers come to our US gateway cities.  I know, I live very close to Miami International Airport.

Bill Gates was way ahead of us all as he said the next major tragedy for the planet will not be war.  Disease was more likely to cause more fatalities than war.  Famine is another planetary threat.  One scientist put it this way:

“The public health and climate debates are really inextricably linked,  In our highly connected world, a disease that originated 3,000 or 6,000 miles away can be at our doorsteps in a day or less. So, the way that we mobilize against COVID-19 needs to be reflected in the way that we mobilize against that other big global affliction called climate change.”

Simple put, what goes around, comes around.  And a little too close for comfort.

I think this video clip  from Bloomberg is very important, in understanding the World Health Organization.   Trump praised both China and the WHO in January 2020.  Then, he targeted them, and it is definitely the wrong time to pull funding.  Absolutely wrong.

Why the WHO went from trusted to targeted

They had no authority to halt flights from China.  They had to rely on the information from China.  I think for the most part China has been honest on what they could have done better.  There’s no question that there was time lost getting all the right information on the threat of Covid-19 but this was due to local bureaucrats in Wuhan.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

 

CNN: Cornered by the coronavirus, Trump returns to a familiar strategy: Attack Obama

These are several commentaries worth reading:

Cornered by the coronavirus, Trump returns to a familiar strategy: Attack Obama

Trump’s $200 billion trade deal with China already at risk due to coronavirus

Donald Trump’s legacy may be he turned a recession into a depression, just like Herbert Hoover did in the 1920’s.

Trump White House Changes Its Story on Michael Flynn

State Department inspector general becomes the latest watchdog fired by Trump

Authorities in Wuhan ‘didn’t like to tell the truth,’ top Chinese adviser says

I found this article very interesting. because Dr.  Zhong Nanshan could level blame at local officials within Wuhan and still keep his job.  Good lesson for Trump that wrongdoing is better out in the open.

Dave

 

Abbott’s miracle Covid-19 testing toaster

When I read about the Abbott new testing equipment, I thought wow, this as a real game changer.   It was small as a toaster.  It could in a matter of minutes let people know if they were positive with Covid-19.

This good news turned to very bad news, when studies indicated that  the test was unreliable due to a high rate of false negatives.   This is scary stuff.    Those who have received erroneous test results may not seek proper medical treatment and not go into immediate isolation.  This can result in further spread of  the disease.     Valid tests are particularly important in the case of high risk individuals of which I am one, due to my age. If I were to contract Covid-19, I would definitely want early treatment, and the only anti-viral out there is remdesivir.   So, exactly what the test promised,  early treatment and less spread of the disease, could easily result in just the opposite, delayed treatment and more spread.

Donald Trump endorsed the miracle tester, which counts for nothing. Sorry.  False negatives are really serious, because everyone receives the wrong diagnostic.

The Abbott miracle has turned into the Abbott nightmare.   I hope there is some immediate resolution whether this new test equipment is sufficiently reliable for general use.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/14/856531970/fda-cautions-about-accuracy-of-widely-used-abbott-coronavirus-test

In today’s breaking news

A friend of mine posted a picture of Walter Cronkite,  to Facebook.  For those too young to know, Walter  Cronkite was the anchorman at CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1980.  He was nicknamed “Uncle Walter.”   Older Americans will remember his sign off line ” And that’s the way it is …” followed by the date.  CBS news was 15 minutes long until 1963 when it was expanded to 30 minutes.  Walter Cronkite would generally read the news accompanied by pictures or videos.    News stories were very short,  because it was just the  facts, not opinion.  We never knew whether Uncle Walter was a Democrat or Republican.  ABC, NBC and CBS simply were our eyes and ears into the world, but would not try to form opinions for us.  They were able to squeeze in sports and weather into the short 30 minutes.

The reason for my friend’s posting was obvious.  Today we have “news shows”  which are more filled with commentary than actual news.  They are targeting certain audiences.  Conservatives like Fox News and One American News (OAN).  MSNBC and CNN generally have commentators critical of Donald Trump, which liberals enjoy.     But there are many examples of outstanding reporting in MSNBC and CNN.  I also watch the BBC which has more of a global focus.   I read the New York Times print edition, and online edition of  Washington Post, New York Times and  Miami-Herald.  Yet to do research, I often just go to Google and hit the News icon.  I consider these newspapers are well worth the money if I really want all the details.   I just found out that General Flynn and I attended the same university but 8 years apart.

I will not differentiate between “Mainstream Media”  and “Alternative News” as Donald Trump seems to do,  They are all multi-million dollar corporations, so they are all mainstream.  They are all contending for national market share, so this distinction is meaningless.   Fox News and OAN are by far the most biased, often leaving out significant parts of the story so they can push a particular point of view.

Yesterday, the top stories were so evident:  (1) A 3 trillion dollar aid stimulus package for Covid-19 was  likely to have problems passing in the Senate (2) Recent events in the continuing saga of General Flynn in Judge Sullivan’s court, and (3)  Whistle blower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony in Congress.  Each of these 3 stories were given very different levels of importance.  In fact, with the General Flynn story,  the details between

#1 story:   I’ll begin with the 3 trillion dollar Covid-19  stimulus package.   Washington Post gives the facts and the really grim statistic:  “Live updates: House to vote on $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill; U.S. death toll surpasses 85,000.”  The bill was announced 2 days ago, and it will be voted on today (Friday).

Fox News on their website tells you right off that it is a bad package:    PARADE OF ABSURDITIES;  McConnell blasts Dems $3T proposal for stimulus, but makes prediction.   So,  you know Donald Trump opposes it, because Mitch McConnell as the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate opposes it.

#2 story: Next up, is the next chapter in the General Flynn saga, which began in January 2017 with an FBI interview.  As I hope most Americans know, General Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and offered to  cooperate with the Mueller’s Russian probe, and in return would be given a lenient sentence.  Then, once the Russian probe was completed, Flynn got new legal team, and a new strategy evolved  asking the judge to withdraw his guilty plea  and he was actually tricked into making false statements.   Many felt he was doing this in hopes of a Presidential pardon.   The false statement charge meant he could spend either no time in jail or up to six months.  Next.  the Department of Justice under AG Barr decided to drop  the charge against Flynn, but  Judge Sullivan decided on Thursday not to go along.

New York Times was right on the mark with its headline: Judge Appoints Outsider to Take On Justice Dept. in Flynn Case.  A retired judge will also examine whether the former national security adviser committed perjury.  The Times story continues:

The federal judge overseeing the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn appointed a hard-charging former prosecutor and judge on Wednesday to oppose the Justice Department’s effort to drop the case and to explore a perjury charge against Mr. Flynn.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s appointment of the former judge, John Gleeson, was an extraordinary move in a case with acute political overtones. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Mr. Flynn later began fighting the charge and sought to withdraw his guilty plea. Then last week, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop the charge after a long campaign by Mr. Trump and his supporters, prompting accusations that Attorney General William P. Barr had undermined the rule of law and further politicized the department.

Now that’s just good reporting.   It brings us up to date.   The Times goes into more detail about former judge John Gleeson.  They also note that the action of Judge Sullivan’s action has been criticized, as an extreme departure from normal procedures.  So, their story is balanced.

CNN has the Flynn case in its headline news,  but begins with Judge Gleeson and his role in the persecution of  John Gotti (Mafia boss) case,  Reporting in CNN and Washington Post are very similar.

A very different news story is headlined today in Fox’s reporting.  The focus actually has nothing to do with what happen in Judge Sullivan’s court,  but is totally focused on a Donald Trump’s tweet.   Fox News large headline news “Trump wants FBI’s original ‘302’ report on Flynn case, says former adviser ‘persecuted'” .   The 302 report would be an FBI notes taken during the interview in 2016.  The whole Fox News story is not news at all, because the DOJ wants the charge dropped against Flynn because they consider the false statements unimportant to a legitimate FBI investigation.

So, if you follow Fox News, you might think important information somehow vanished, and of course, one would want comment from the FBI director, Christopher Wrey or the Department of Justice.  Of course Fox just shoots and asks questions later.

#3 story:  Whistle blower   Dr. Rick Bright, who testified in Congress yesterday on the various treatments for Covid-19, and his claim that there were some attempts to bypass’ a vetting process for hydroxychloroquine.  I would not characterize his manner as a “disgruntled”  but more as a frustrated medical expert in infectious diseases, who had to watch as the top leaders ignored his warnings.

CNN gives the latest headlines “Rick Bright plans to start his new job working on coronavirus treatments and vaccines next week.”   (see link)  Others like the New York Times and Washington Post give excellent summaries of the hearing.

Fox New- I don’t see anything on the Fox News website except a short video: “Trump did everything that Bright said he should do.”

It would be fine if they reported that Trump believes he did everything that Bright said he should do,  but this is just another biased opinion from Fox News.

_______________________________________________________________

Three events happened yesterday.  Each were told differently.  On the whole, I believe Uncle Walter would have liked CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post reporting, rather than the Fox mix of commentary and selected elements of the news to support the commentary.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/14/politics/richard-bright-new-job-hhs/index.html

 

More Covid-19 True and False

Same rules apply.  You can guess who said it, and this time I have added a corporate executive in addition to politicians.  I put a lot of trust in Drs. Birx and Fauci, because of decades of experience in infectious diseases.  I don’t bother with bloggers on Facebook or Twitter.  I’ve only included the most recent statements.  In cases where I did not see a judgement by Politifact or others on the truthfulness of statements, then I added “inaccurate” or “accurate” labels based on the discussion.

1. Regarding the risks of coronavirus transmission on an airplane, “It’s as safe as an environment as you’re going to find.”

2. “Don’t forget, the cupboard was bare. The last administration left us nothing. We didn’t have ventilators, we didn’t have medical equipment, we didn’t have testing.”

3. On potential deaths: “Those models that you’re mentioning are talking about without mitigation.”

4. “The tests were broken. You saw that. We had broken tests. They left us nothing.” [note:  They refers to the Obama administration]

5. “Nancy Pelosi was out there at the end of February, talking about let’s go dancing in Chinatown in San Francisco, because she wanted to prove that there was no problem. But there was a problem. Schumer was talking in March, about there’s no problem. I banned people from coming in, in January.”

6.  “They told us, when we put on our travel ban — a very strong travel ban — there was no need to do it. ‘Don’t do it.’ They actually fought us.”

7. “There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately. … Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary.”

8. Says Joe Biden has “written a letter of apology” for calling Trump’s travel restrictions from China “xenophobic.”

Answers:

  1. Mostly false:  Claim by Gary Kelly, May 3, 2020.  Southwest CEO’s boast about airplanes’ low COVID risk overlooks key concerns.  Studies show that infectious disease transmission can occur on airplanes, particularly if you are seated next to someone who is carrying an illness.  Some research suggests that airplanes’ highly effective ventilation systems make them safer than other enclosed modes of transportation, like subways.  But it is difficult to maintain social distancing on an airplane — especially compared with being at home, in an office or at a grocery store.   [My note:  There is considerably more discussion on this topic in www,politifact.org .  I’ve heard some flights are nearly empty, and if that happens to be the case, it will be much better.  Temperature checks and mandatory wearing of masks also are good measures taken by some airlines. ]
  2. Mostly False. Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020.  ABC News interview.  Trump’s sweeping generalization — which he has made before — is Mostly False. The state of the Strategic National Stockpile was not where it needed to be for the pandemic, particularly with N95 masks, which were not replenished after the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. But it wasn’t bare. In November 2019, the former director of the stockpile described it as an $8 billion enterprise, with extensive holdings of many needed items.  Muir followed up on this one, asking Trump why he did not do more to address the stockpile during his three years in office. Trump blamed Democratic efforts to investigate him over Russia and Ukraine, including the impeachment trial.
  3.  False.  Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020 ABC News Interview. Presented with dire outlooks for COVID-19 deaths over the summer months, Trump incorrectly said they did not take into account mitigation efforts, such as social distancing and mask requirements.  Muir asked Trump about dire COVID-19 predictions from two institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The University of Washington’s updated model shows 134,000 Americans could die by August, nearly double their previous projection. Contrary to what Trump said, this model factors in mitigation efforts. “We’ve never put forward a forecast that included no mitigation,” said institute spokeswoman Amelia Apfel in an email. The other model Muir mentioned, from Johns Hopkins University, stems from an internal federal government slideshow. That document contained one slide that projected 3,000 deaths per day by June.  The information came from a model created by Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Lessler told NPR that his scenarios do assume some degree of mitigation.
  4. Pants on Fire False.  Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020 ABC News  Interview.  This claim, which Muir did not correct, rates Pants on Fire. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. There was no “bad” test to inherit for detecting a new virus.
  5. Inaccurate.  Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020, ABC News interview. Note this was considered inaccurate, and not labeled in the  three categories by Politifact.   Pelosi did visit the Chinatown area in San Francisco on Feb. 24, encouraging residents to eat and shop. But she didn’t talk about people going dancing, and she didn’t say there was no problem concerning the coronavirus. “I’m here today, particularly, to say thank you to the community for the sense of family values and sense of community that they provide,” Pelosi said. “But also to say to everyone: we should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern surrounding tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”Pelosi, at another point, specifically stressed that people be concerned about the virus.”Prevention, prevention, prevention,” she told reporters. “We want people to be concerned and vigilant. However, we don’t want them to be afraid.”When it comes to Schumer, Trump’s wrong. Here’s Schumer, in a joint statement with Pelosi, on Feb. 27: “The United States government must do more to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic, and serious way and we stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and with the administration to achieve this necessary goal. Lives are at stake — this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics.” And lastly, Trump’s criticism of Schumer and Pelosi ignores some of his own statements and actions in February and March. On the same day Pelosi was touring San Francisco’s Chinatown, Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”
  6. Inaccurate.   Claim made on numerous occasions by Donald Trump, including prepare remarks at a press conference, April 7, 2020.  Politifact did not provide rating beyond inaccurate.  These are their comments:  WHO did not recommend travel bans, but Trump magnifies the extent of the disagreement. We found no record of WHO objecting to the American policy specifically. On Jan. 30, WHO declared that COVID-19 had reached the highest level of alert, a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern. It said “all countries should be prepared for containment” and urged them to launch testing and tracing programs. In its statement, WHO said it “does not recommend any travel or trade restriction.” But it also acknowledged that countries could impose limits, saying, “Countries must inform WHO about travel measures taken, as required by the International Health Regulations.” Those regulations, first drafted in 2005 after China hid the SARS epidemic from the world, spell out what each country and bodies like WHO must do in the face of a new infectious disease. The document says that countries need to explain why a travel ban is warranted. Trump announced a ban Jan. 31, which took effect Feb. 2. The United States had company in banning entry from China. Singapore moved on Jan. 29, Italy suspended all flights Jan. 31, and Australia imposed a ban on Feb.1, to mention just a few of the more than 40 nations that acted at about the same time.Factcheck also felt Trump misused the claim of a “travel ban” on China as follows: Not a “travel ban.” At least four times in April, the president said he had imposed a “travel ban” on China or “closed the border.” But the Trump administration’s travel restrictions stopped well short of a “ban.” The policy, which took effect Feb. 2, prohibits non-U.S. citizens who have traveled to China within the previous two weeks from entering the U.S., but the new rules don’t apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and their immediate family members.

    [Note: Our borders were very open. Certainly what the news of coronavirus deaths in China created was the early returns of Americans from China.

  7. Inaccurate: Claim made by Donald Trump. Health experts say Trump is wrong about early, credible evidence of human-to-human transmission. “There were questions, but no solid confirmation,” Boston University global health researcher Davidson Hamer said. “It wasn’t until mid January that reasonable evidence began to come out.”  So, Trump is right when he points to mid January as the pivot point, but he’s off the mark about the quality of the information earlier. On Jan. 12, WHO said that “there is no clear evidence that the virus passes easily from person to person.” On Jan. 14, WHO’s lead investigator Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters that “it is possible that there is limited human-to-human transmission, potentially among families, but it is very clear right now that we have no sustained human-to-human transmission.” Van Kerkhove however warned that a wider outbreak was possible and that WHO had told hospitals around the world to take steps to prevent spreading the infection. On Jan. 19, Chinese officials confirmed human-to-human transmission.We asked the White House and the Trump campaign to explain the basis for the claim about evidence from December. We did not hear back.

    The closest match we found were reports about a doctor in Wuhan who warned his colleagues in a chat group about a disease that looked like SARS on Dec. 30. Local officials muzzled the doctor, who later died from COVID-19.  “We now have good evidence that Chinese authorities knew about the spread and were hiding it at this time,” said Ashish K. Jha, Director, Harvard Global Health Institute. “Whistleblowers and ‘rumor mongers’ among healthcare professionals were silenced. But it’s unclear how much the WHO could have possibly known about that at the time.”

    Hamer said that he might have been too trusting of what China was reporting, perhaps because the government was much more transparent than it had been in 2002 with the SARS pandemic. He was hearing from his global health colleagues at the time that “this was the real deal.” Hamer thinks WHO could have been faster.  “They took a little too long to declare this a major emergency,” Hamer said. “They waited a week to 10 days to come out and say this thing was moving quickly and was a global health concern.”  [Note: I believe the reference is to Dr. Davidson Hamer, Professor of Global Health and Medicine, Boston University].

  8. False.  Claim made by Donald Trump, Fox News virtual town hall meeting. May 3, 2020.   Without evidence, Trump claims Biden sent him apology letter over China travel ban. The Biden campaign said an apology letter to Trump “never happened.” We found no public record of any letter of apology from Biden.  Biden’s deputy campaign manager declared Biden’s support for the China restrictions in a statement to CNN on April 3, a Friday. The statement was not an apology. Biden has used the word “xenophobic” several times in reference to Trump and his actions, but never directly in reference to the ban Trump placed on travel from China.

A longer explanation of these statements and the lack of support can be found at Politifact.   When pushed, Trump goes on the offensive.  The enemies:  China, World Health Organization, the media,   and a host of states with Democratic Governors.   The attacks on the media are generally the New York Times,  Washington Post and CNN.

The enemy is really none of the above.  It is Covid-19.

Stay tuned and healthy,

Dave

Links:

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization

Politifact:  Coronavirus

Washington Post Opinion: ABC News’s David Muir is no match for Trump’s falsehoods

Recent Fact check, Donald Trump:

 

 

 

 

 

Covid-19 Quiz (True or False)

These are all statements reviewed by Politifact, and rated on the basis of True, mostly  true, mostly false, false or pants on fire.  All these quotes come from elected officials and have been made in the last 3 weeks.  You can also guess who made the comments or their party (Republican or Democrat).

    1. Republicans “have shown themselves willing to cut millions off their health insurance and eliminate preexisting condition protections for millions more, even in the middle of this public health crisis.”
    2. “We’ve tested more than every country combined.”
    3. “Some states, like Montana and Nebraska, are getting more than $300,000 in federal stimulus money per reported COVID-19 case. New York is the hardest-hit state and yet we are getting only about $12,000 per case.”
    4.  Texas “either is near the bottom or at the very bottom when it comes to testing per capita.”
    5. “Hundreds and hundreds of labs are ready, willing, and able.”
    6. “Until this week, they [OSHA] weren’t even enforcing these guidelines [for coronavirus]. Still today, OSHA is not specifying which rules employees must follow or how to keep their workers safe and healthy.”
    7. “This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks. And so you would think the people charged with the World Health Organization facts and figures would be on top of that.”

Answers:

  1. True, Barrack Obama,  April 14, 2020:  The White House and congressional Republicans have maintained support for a lawsuit that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act ― the law that prohibits charging people more for health coverage because of preexisting conditions and that extended insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans.  Striking down the ACA would make people even more vulnerable to COVID-19 harm, experts say, citing potential medical and financial damage.
  2. Pants on Fire, Donald Trump, April 20, 2020: The United States has performed more coronavirus tests than any other single country. But it has not done more “than all major countries combined.”  The raw tally of coronavirus tests isn’t a good metric, experts say. When you control for population, or consider other meaningful statistics, the United States is still far behind on its COVID-19 response.
  3. Mostly True, Andrew Cuomo, April 12, 2020.  In the first round of federal funding for health care providers, New York state has received far less money than less-affected states, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News.  Cuomo addressed only one segment of the stimulus aid, and glossed over the distinction between states and the health care providers within those states. The funding source he tweeted about sends money directly to providers, not to states.  Subsequent batches of funding are supposed to favor states with higher coronavirus case loads.
  4. True, Veronica Escobar, Representative to Congress from Texas, April 22, 2020.  Texas is one of the states that has administered the fewest coronavirus tests per capita. At the time of Escobar’s statement, only Virginia and Kansas had tested fewer people per capita than Texas.
  5.  False, Donald Trump, April 22, 2020.  Donald Trump exaggerates number of untapped coronavirus testing labs.  The president said the White House has a list that shows many untapped labs are ready to go to do more testing. Labs exist, but how many are ready to handle the patient specimens sent to them is unknown.
  6. True, Joe Biden, April 15, 2020, OSHA released coronavirus guidelines in early March, but they function as suggestions or recommendations and are not enforceable.  OSHA then released enforcement instructions in mid-April with a focus on enforcing general, existing safety standards and has not told inspectors how to apply those standards to the current crisis. During an April 15 virtual town hall meeting with front-line workers, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for the White House, was asked by a meat processing worker what he would do to protect workers like her from COVID-19.  “We lost a co-worker at my plant because there is no regulation to protect meat chain employees,” said Safaa Elzakzoky, who is also a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “We can’t work safely and get people the meat that they need to eat. So what would you do to protect a worker like my friend who just died?” In his response, Biden called attention to steps taken by the Obama administration during the H1N1 outbreak and criticized the Trump administration. He focused on “failures” by the Labor Department and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration to use regulatory powers to protect workers, including OSHA’s lack of action in enforcing specific worker safety guidelines related to COVID-19.
  7. False, Kellyanne Conway, April 15, 2020, Kellyanne Conway misleads on name for COVID-19, says it’s ‘not COVID-1’.  Conway suggested that the World Health Organization should have been on top of the novel coronavirus earlier on because “this is COVID-19, not COVID-1.” COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019” — reflecting the year in which the disease was first identified. Conway later said on Twitter that she knows why the disease is named as such.

I did not include any statements from Facebook or social media bloggers, because so many postings are false.   It is very sad to see all the unjustified bashing of the World Health Organization, because we need them desperately to distributef vaccines and medicines in the future.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

www.politifact.com

Covid-19 Heroes

At 7:00 pm everyday in many cities in Europe, people go out on their balconies and clap in honor to the medical professionals and others who are manning the frontlines.  Many have lost long time colleagues.   I decided to name three heroes out of so many who we all are depending on to help us through this crisis.

Dr. Li Wenliang is both a hero and a victim of Covid-19.  From Wikipedia:

“Li Wenliang (Chinese: 李文亮; pinyin: Lǐ Wénliàng; 12 October 1986 – 7 February 2020) was a Chinese ophthalmologist who worked at Wuhan Central Hospital. Li warned his colleagues on 30 December 2019 about a possible outbreak of an illness that resembled severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), later identified as COVID-19. He became a whistleblower when his warnings were later shared publicly. On 3 January 2020, Wuhan police summoned and admonished him for “making false comments on the Internet”. Li returned to work and later contracted the virus from an infected patient (who had been originally treated for glaucoma). He died from the disease on 7 February 2020, at age 33. A subsequent Chinese official inquiry exonerated him and the Communist Party of China formally offered a “solemn apology” to his family and revoked its admonishment of him.”

What made an opthamologist (eye doctor) get involved in a virus epidemic?    He could have felt his job was over once he treated the eye problem, but he didn’t,  He knew he had to share what he had learned.   It was that simple.  He was a brave doctor and undoubtedly saved lives by  informing other doctors via social media.

Since Dr. Li’s  death,   Li Wenliang’s Weibo wall (similar to Facebook)  has been filled with personal messages.   “They speak to him like they know him, calling him brother, uncle, doctor, hero, comrade, martyr, friend.” The Chinese write to him on his wall as if he is still alive and with them.  (see links below).

 

 

Another hero is Dr.  Ai Fen,  Director of Emergency Services at the Wuhan General Hospital.    She used social media also to spread the word that a virus identified as the SARS virus was infecting patients.  She says she is not a whistleblower, but she supplied the whistle.

On 30 December, after seeing several patients with flu-like symptoms and resistant to usual treatment methods, Ai received the lab results of one case, which contained the word: “Sars coronavirus.” Ai, reading the report several times, says she broke out into a cold sweat.  She circled the words Sars, took a photo and sent it to a former medical school classmate, now a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. By that evening, the photo had spread throughout medical circles in Wuhan, where it was also shared by Li Wenliang, becoming the first piece of evidence of the outbreak.

That night Ai said she received a message from her hospital saying information about this mysterious disease should not be arbitrarily released in order to avoid causing panic. Two days later, she told the magazine, she was summoned by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee and reprimanded for “spreading rumours” and “harming stability”.

Fortunately, she did not contract the Covid-19 virus.   I believe long after the Covid-19 virus is over,  people in China will remember these doctors and others, who help sound the alarm when authorities were resisting the truth about Covid-19 virus.  The government of China is repressive, but they can’t control both the human spirit and the will of medical professionals to share what they know over the internet.

 

 

 

 

The third hero is Captain Brett Crozier.   The following is from Wikipedia.  “Crozier was captain of Theodore Roosevelt, then deployed in the Pacific, on March 24, 2020, when three members of the crew tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, eight sailors were infected, and within a few days it was “dozens.”   (Note:  The  exponential  growth of Covid-19 had  already occurred  before  March  24  as  it  takes  time  for  symptoms  to  appear).

The sailors became ill after more than two weeks at sea. The initial cases were airlifted to a military hospital. Theodore Roosevelt was ordered to Guam, where she docked on March 27, and all 4,865 aboard were ordered to be tested for the virus. About 100 affected sailors were offloaded, and the rest of the crew remained on board. Crozier wanted to have most of the crew immediately taken ashore, saying it was impossible to prevent the spread of the virus in the close quarters of the ship. However, his superior, Rear Admiral Stuart P. Baker, believed that to be impractical and too drastic.

On March 30, Crozier emailed a four-page memorandum to 10 Navy officers. Three were admirals in his chain of command, including his immediate commander Rear Admiral Baker, Admiral John Aquilino, the commander of the Pacific Fleet and Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller III, commander of naval air forces in the Pacific. Crozier copied the message to seven other captains, five of whom were on board the Roosevelt and two who were executive assistants to the admirals. Crozier did not email Vice Admiral William R. Merz, who was higher than Baker in Crozier’s chain of command. In the memorandum, Crozier pleaded for authorization to have most of the crew evacuated and quarantined ashore, citing the impossibility of following CDC recommendations on social distancing and quarantine procedures on the Theodore Roosevelt, a ship more crowded than the cruise ship Diamond Princess infected earlier.  On March 31, the letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published it.  On April 1, the Navy ordered the aircraft carrier evacuated, with a skeleton crew to remain aboard to maintain the nuclear reactor, the fire-fighting equipment, and the galley.

On April 2, Crozier was relieved of command by acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly…At a Pentagon news conference on April 3, Modly said that Crozier had “raised alarm bells unnecessarily” and showed “extremely poor judgment.” Modly mischaracterized the distribution list of the memorandum, inaccurately claiming that Crozier had copied 20 to 30 other people; Crozier in fact sent the memo to 10 officers.”

Captain Crozier is on shore leave, and his case is still under review.  My opinion is simple – he saved lives the best way he could.  There are 678 seamen who tested positive, and I am certain they would like to see Captain Crozier re-instated.

Under normal circumstances, the actions of Dr. Li Wenliang, Dr. Ai Fen and Captain Brett Crozier might seem a bit extreme.  But there was nothing normal about the circumstances, and their actions in acting against convention or authorities were absolutely justified.

The president blasted Crozier’s decision to write a letter to Navy leaders pleading for help as men on his ship fell sick with the coronavirus. “I thought it was terrible what he did. To write a letter? This isn’t a class on literature,” Trump said. Later, he said he might get involved in the decision to dismiss Captain Crozier.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave Lord

Links:

Wikipedia:  Dr. Li Wen Liang

The Guardian: Chinese inquiry exonerates coronavirus whistleblower doctor

The Guardian: Hero who told the truth’: Chinese rage over coronavirus death of whistleblower doctor

Wikipedia:  Dr. Ai Fen

Wikipedia: 2020 coronavirus pandemic on the USS Theodore Roosevelt

Daily Beast: Trump: ‘I Agree 100%’ With Navy Decision to Fire Captain Brett Crozier

Politico: Navy delays decision on reinstating fired captain who warned of coronavirus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covid-19 infection mechanisms

Scientists are exchanging information around the globe.  I’ve heard anecdotal accounts of how patients  have seemed to be improving, and then suddenly have a turn for the worse.  The link below has a pretty good explanation for this.   The immune  system, according to the article below, designed to defend the body against invaders, can kick into overdrive and act  in a harmful manner (cytokine storm).  Children with a less developed immune system might not have this immune reaction hence they have more mild symptoms.  Thank God!

I think I’ll stop here, as it is better explained in the article below.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

Link:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/your-risk-of-getting-sick-from-covid-19-may-lie-in-your-genes?sref=MKhnhvyR

The Pullout of the World Health Organization is a Terrible Decision

Covid-19 is frightening and the human toll of Covid-19 already  is staggering: 134,000 people around the world succumb to the disease.  They died alone generally unable to breath. How high the death toll goes is uncertain.   Almost every country in the world lost lives to this virus.

What could be worse?  Every medical professional standing next to Trump knows the answer.  The CDC knows the answer.    Tuberculosis,   AIDS and malaria, really in that order.   Tuberculosis accounts for 1.2 to 1.4 million deaths in 2018.  It is present in urban areas of developing countries.   The 2018 estimate of HIV related deaths is 770,000.  For Malaria, in 2018, it is 405,000 deaths.  Malaria is deadly to children under 5 years old, as 262,000 children died of malaria (67% of the total).  In Africa, they say that average life expectancy is meaningless  as the big trick in life is getting past age 5.  Incredibly sad.

So, infectious diseases are ravaging the lives of the youngest and oldest in our society.  If one survives to age 5, the next challenge will be getting past 60.  Particularly bad in parts of the world where health services are just not available.

The World Health Organization allies with other countries to fight against infectious diseases, and public health issues regardless of politics.  It recognizes that the African countries, like Nigeria, where malaria is rampant, already was in a health crisis before the arrival of Covid-19.      World Health Organization is uniting efforts to find cures and vaccines for these infectious diseases.

And the World Health Organization is making progress, particularly against tuberculosis which is generally curable and preventable.  There are new challenges with drug resistant strains.

The current preventative measures, such as social distancing, closing schools and businesses and blocking international travel are only temporary measures.   And trying to isolate the US from the rest of the world is impossible without extreme economic consequences.

We absolutely need foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organizations working with health organizations in making our planet healthier.  We need cures and vaccines developed  through scientific cooperation.  Trump’s defunding WHO,  I hope, will  last only until November 2020, when we have a new president.   The  WHO isn’t perfect, but he is using it as a  distraction and scapegoat to the US problems with mess created when the CDC test kit debacle.  See NYT article.

We are “stronger together” and we need to restore our real leadership in the world.  It is time to increase global awareness- not isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.

Covid-19 is not a US problem.  It is a global problem.

A healthier planet = a healthier US.

Stay tuned and stay safe,

Dave

Links:

New York Times Opinion

Wikipedia: Tuberculosis 

World Health Organization

WHO:  Malaria

 

 

 

End of Covid-19

The disease won’t be gone until it is eradicated everywhere.  I could say this 100 times, and to some, it really won’t sink in.

Zero new cases in New York, Madrid, Moscow, New Delhi and Baghdad. It means the day the persons with symptoms are immediately tested, and isolated. If a vaccine is developed, it has to be applied globally.    That’s why we have the World Health Organization,  Doctors without Borders and many more international organizations.   The IMF, G-7 or G-20 will also be critical on how to transition from lockdown to more relaxed rules.

I’m so tired of hearing that it is the fault of China and/or the WHO, that we have it here.   After flights from China were canceled, flights were continuing from the real hot spots, namely Italy and Spain.  US travelers in Europe and China were, whenever possible, cutting short their trips to get away from the virus hotspots and were obvious disease vectors.   There will be plenty of time later for everyone to determine what we could or should have done to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  But it’s in 151 countries now, and it is a worldwide crisis.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Covid-19 increases and decreases

It’s terrible to see Covid-19 exponentially increasing in many countries.  An exponential curve means the number of infected to double in a specific number of days.  If doubling occurs every 2 days we go 1 – 2 – 4 – 8 in 8 days. We’ve seen worse with Covid-19 go from 100 to 1000 in a span of 8 days.   The hope is with all precautionary actions, including frequent hand washing and social distancing, the rate of increase (acceleration)  will be less than exponential and will transition to linear.  The disease is at a stable point for health officials when more people are leaving the hospital than entering it.   The disease is in decline phase only when there is a negative trend in new cases. The fact that the disease is less than exponential in many countries, is good news, but the rate of growth is still very high and still at crisis levels.

For the data to be accurate and to prevent a premature lifting of measures, there must be testing available on demand to anyone.   I have high hopes that the US and all countries will increase their testing.  I fear a second wave, as some scientists have warned.

Stay tuned and safe.

Dave

Coronavirus Origins

Coronavirus came from an animal, most likely a bat in China.  It is positively of animal origin,  based on a number of papers from distinguished scientific organizations, such as Scripps Institute. Apparently the scientists can tell the difference.

It was not made in the US in some secret lab.  Nor was it made in China in one of their secret labs.

If you hear Tucker Carlson on Fox News, spreading this idiotic conspiracy nonsense, just turn the channel.

Links:

Scripps Institute

USA Today 

 

Go Abbott, Elon, and Gilead

Some strong positives in the war against Covid-19:

Abbott

Abbott came out with their 5 to 13 minute toaster size molecular  point-of-care Covid-19 test.  It received emergency approval from FDA.   In layman terms, the virus is opened using reagents, then the released genetic material is replicated so even extremely small amounts can be detected.   Abbott is said to be ramping up production.  I would love to see this toaster at the drive-thru testing facilities.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced at his daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday afternoon that Bergen County, New Jersey will be the site for a new rapid test from Abbott Laboratories.

Elon Musk

How did Musk get 1225 ventilators so quickly, when the federal government couldn’t:  “China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA,” Musk said on Twitter.   I’m sure patients and hospitals couldn’t give a damn about where these ventilators were sourced.

Gilead

Gilead is conducting limited clinical trials on their drug, remdesivir, in China.  Per their  Gilead website:  “The limited preclinical data on remdesivir in MERS and SARS indicate that remdesivir may have potential activity against COVID-19.   Remdesivir is an experimental medicine that does not have established safety or efficacy for the treatment of any condition. ”  It is being referred to in the media as the Ebola drug.  It is hope to slow or block the virus replication once in a healthy cell.    Gilead hopes to have results of clinical studies by the end of April.

Stay tuned and stay healthy,

Dave

Links:

Gilead story 

The other stories are very easy to find with a Google search.

Covid-19 – Testing delays cost lives

The numbers are becoming real familiar and really frightening. These are people not statistics.  I trust the professionals and their advice. All of it.

When someone is tested positive, it means that that person has been ill and potentially transmitting the disease, for days before the onset of symptoms.   This is the time lag, is the sum of the days in which the infected person had no symptoms, days with minor symptoms, days until the  patient can see a doctor and confirm that the symptoms are sufficiently  similar to Covid-19 (frequently a requirement for a test),  days until a test was performed, and days until the results were known and treatment begun.

Days + Days + Days + Days + Days = total time lag.   Surviving Covid-19 depends on early detection.   The last 3 lags occur from  the point of “flu like symptoms”  to  confirmed positives, and have to be shortened.   When I heard that in Miami, it takes 5 to 7 days from when a person is swabbed to a confirmed positive or negative, I was shocked, because this rules out early intervention.  These antiviral drugs are not working for late stage patients.  They may slow down the disease progression but not prevent death.    Testing areas in Miami and everywhere else are overrun.  Home swabbing has run into some real obstacles.   All this delay costs lives.

This also means that the new positives data, which show an exponential curve  are based on  old data.   The first light at the end of the tunnel is a decline in new positives.  Get ready for false lights, because a solid trend in the decline must be established.  Where some communities might be turning the corner, others will still be solidly on the all frightening exponential curve.  Early lifting of containment efforts can easily destroy the progress made.

Stay tuned,

Dave