Coronavirus News StoriesExcerpts of Key Coronavirus News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of the coronavirus news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Teen and youth anxiety and depression are getting worse since COVID lockdowns began in March, early studies suggest, and many experts say they fear a corresponding increase in youth suicide. At the end of June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed Americans on their mental health. They found symptoms of anxiety and depression were up sharply across the board between March and June, compared with the same time the previous year. And young people seemed to be the hardest-hit of any group. Almost 11 percent of all respondents to that survey said they had "seriously considered" suicide in the past 30 days. For those ages 18 to 24, the number was 1 in 4 – more than twice as high. Data collection for several studies on teen mental health during the pandemic is currently underway. And experts worry those studies will show a spike in suicide, because young people are increasingly cut off from peers and caring adults, because their futures are uncertain and because they are spending more time at home, where they are most likely to have access to lethal weapons. "Teenagers are in a developmental space where it is critically important that they have regular contact with their peers and are able to develop close and ongoing relationships with adults outside the home, such as their teachers, their coaches, their advisers," says Lisa Damour, an adolescent psychologist. "And I worry very much about what it means for that to be disrupted by the pandemic."
Note: Lots more in this Psychology Today article titled â€śAmerica Is Facing a Teen Suicide Pandemic.â€ť A Nov. 28, 2020 CNN article is titled, "In Japan, more people died from suicide last month than from Covid in all of 2020. And women have been impacted most." And according to this USA Today article, millions went hungry on Thanksgiving as a result of lockdown policies. Are these policies causing more long-term damage than the virus itself? For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus and health from reliable major media sources.
Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency. Research published this week by The BMJ ... finds that the government procured an antibody test that in real world tests falls well short of performance claims made by its manufacturers. Researchers from Public Health England and collaborating institutions sensibly pushed to publish their study findings before the government committed to buying a million of these tests but were blocked by the health department and the prime minister's office. Public Health England then unsuccessfully attempted to block The BMJ's press release about the research paper. In the US, President Trump's government manipulated the Food and Drug Administration to hastily approve unproved drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir. Globally, people, policies, and procurement are being corrupted by political and commercial agendas. The UK's pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science ... and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.
The Trump administration this month announced that one of its largest pandemic-related contracts would go to a little-known biodefense company named Emergent BioSolutions. The $628 million deal to help manufacture an eventual vaccine cemented Emergent's status as the highest-paid and most important contractor to the HHS office responsible for preparing for public health threats and maintaining the government's stockpile of emergency medical supplies. Emergent has long been the government's sole provider of BioThrax, a vaccine for anthrax poisoning. Emergent's advocacy for biodefense spending over more than a decade was aided by influential allies in Washington and tens of millions of dollars in lobbying campaigns. â€śIt has strategically placed itself to be, let's just say, the company that can't fail,â€ť said a former senior government official who worked with Emergent on stockpile operations. The company that would become Emergent began as BioPort Corp., formed in 1998 to buy an aging, state-owned company in Lansing, Mich., that was the only licensed supplier of anthrax vaccine to the Pentagon. The Pentagon ... awarded a $29 million no-bid contract for the anthrax vaccine, BioThrax. Controversy swamped the operation. Hundreds of U.S. troops who received the BioThrax treatment complained of bad reactions, such as headaches and nerve problems. Some troops risked courts-martial by refusing vaccination. Emergent spent nearly $4 million on lobbying last year alone.
Note: To understand the huge influence of lobbying and profits on the development and stockpiling of vaccines, don't miss reading this entire, eye-opening article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and vaccines from reliable major media sources.
With less than 24 hours' notice, President Emmanuel Macron announced his plan to plunge the French into a second national lockdown for at least a month. And if everything I hear and read about the UK is to be believed, this country is heading in the same direction. While Boris Johnson will be the person announcing that catastrophic decision, the measures are being dictated by a small group of scientists who, in my view, have repeatedly got things terribly wrong. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has made three incorrect assumptions which have had, and continue to have, disastrous consequences for people's lives and the economy. Firstly, Sage assumes that the vast majority of the population is vulnerable to infection; second, that only 7 per cent of the population has been infected so far; and third, that the virus causing Covid-19 has a mortality rate of about 1 per cent. Multiple research groups in Europe and the US have shown that around 30 per cent of the population was likely already immune to Covid-19 before the virus arrived. Sage has similarly failed to accurately revise down its estimated mortality rate for the virus. Pre-eminent scientists ... have concluded that the mortality rate is closer to 0.2 per cent. That figure means one in 500 people infected die. When applied to the total number of Covid deaths in the UK (around 45,000), this would imply that approximately 22.5million people have been infected. That is 33.5 per cent of our population – not Sage's 7 per cent calculation.
Note: The author of this article, Dr. Mike Yeadon, is a former Vice President and served as Chief Science Officer of the A&R Research Unit of Pfizer for 16 years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Youtube recently banned a video. In the video, Dr. Michael Yeadon said half or even almost all of the tests for COVID are false positives. Youtube banned the video within hours. Perhaps what irked the Big Tech was Yeadon's assertion that the panic over the second or third wave of coronavirus may be unfounded. Yeadon, who had worked as Chief Science Officer for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for 16 years, went on to say that "this pandemic is fundamentally over." Yeadon argues, citing principles of epidemiology, that a "second wave" of COVID is entirely manufactured. Citing the experience with other recent virus outbreaks - the SARS virus in 2003, and MERS in 2012 - he says that the idea of subsequent waves itself is wrong. Instead, what appears like subsequent waves is actually a single wave occurring in different geographical regions at different points in time. "It is actually multiple single waves affecting geographically distinct populations at different times as the disease spreads. Analyzed individually, each area followed a typical single event," he says about MERS. He gave another blow to the establishment, saying that lockdown did not actually help curb the virus spread. Yeadon cites the now-famous example of Sweden. Covid-19 doomsday preacher Neil Fergusson had said Sweden would see 40,000 deaths by May and 100,000 in later months as it did not lock up people in grids. Yet, Sweden's coronavirus toll is 6,000 as of now.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The claim: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's executive order allows civilians to receive a coronavirus vaccination and 'it might be happening.' An Instagram post from April claims an executive order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allows the state to require its "civilians" to receive a coronavirus vaccination. The Instagram post [refers] to an executive order issued by DeSantis on March 23. It mandates travelers arriving in Florida self-quarantine for â€ś14 days from the time of entry into the state of Florida or the duration of the person's presence in the state of Florida, whichever is shorter.â€ť Section B of the executive order ... references powers given under section 5 of Florida statute 381.00315, which details the proceedings of public officials in the time of a public health emergency. The statute says the government, amid a public health emergency when imposing isolation or quarantine, can adopt rules such as â€śtests or treatment, including vaccination, for communicable disease required before employment or admission to the premises or to comply with an isolation or a quarantine.â€ť It is true that Florida statute 381.00315, as cited in DeSantis's executive orders, makes it legal to order an individual to be vaccinated, among other public safety measures, during a public health emergency. But because there is not yet a coronavirus vaccine, it is false to imply this action is imminent.
Note: The Instagram post did not say that the vaccine mandate is imminent. Notice how far the media will stretch to discredit valid information. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
When pharmaceutical company Moderna issued a press release about the promising results of its Phase I clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine, the media and the markets went wild. Upon examining Moderna's non-peer reviewed press release, the actual data on the vaccine's success is ... flimsy. Of the 45 patients who received the vaccine, the data on â€śneutralising antibody data are available only for the first four participants in each of the 25-microgram and 100-microgram dose level cohorts.â€ť In other words, that means that when it comes to finding out whether the vaccine elicits an antibody response that could potentially fight the coronavirus, they only had data on eight patients. That's not enough to do any type of statistical analysis and it also brings into question the status of the other 37 patients who also received the vaccine. Moderna's messenger RNA vaccine ... uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells' protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus. There are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including the possibility that they generate strong type I interferon responses that could lead to inflammation and autoimmune conditions. Messenger RNA vaccines have never before been brought to market for human patients.
Note: To learn about the serious risks and dangers of these mRNA vaccines, don't miss the vitally important information given by Christiane Northrup, MD, in the first five minutes of this highly revealing video. Reader's Digest named Dr. Northrup one of â€śThe 100 Most Trusted People in America.â€ť Dr. Northrup's work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, 20/20, and The Dr. Oz Show. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from major media sources.
The U.S. can expect increased Covid-19 testing, a national mask policy and the possibility of nationwide lockdowns once President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20. The Biden-Harris campaign laid out a step-by-step plan for addressing the coronavirus pandemic that includes more testing, increasing use of the Defense Production Act to make protective equipment for frontline workers and restoring the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. On top of that, Biden says he would establish a U.S. public health jobs corps to â€śmobilize at least 100,000 Americans across the countryâ€ť to support contact tracing efforts. Biden has called for national mask requirements, though experts say it's unclear how that would be executed. In an Oct. 23 speech, Biden said he would â€ť go to every governor and urge them to mandate mask wearing in their states.â€ť And if that doesn't work, Biden said he would turn to mayors and county executives to institute local mandates. Masks would be required in all federal buildings and interstate transportation systems. Biden would also direct the CDC to provide communities with evidence-based guidance on when to close some business or schools depending on the degree of viral spread. The CDC would be empowered to guide states when to place appropriate restrictions on gathering sizes and when to issue stay-at-home orders.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, sold $5.6 million worth of stock in the pharmaceutical company on Monday. The sale took place on the same day Pfizer announced that its experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective. Bourla's sale of Pfizer stock was part of a trading plan set months in advance. Known as 10b5-1 plans, they essentially put stock trades on autopilot. Executives are supposed to adopt these plans only when they are not in possession of inside information that can affect a company's stock price. On Aug. 19, Bourla implemented his stock-trading plan. The next day, Aug. 20, Pfizer issued a press release ... confirming that Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, were "on track to seek regulatory review" for its vaccine candidate. Daniel Taylor, an expert in insider trading ... told NPR that the close timing between the adoption of Bourla's stock plan and the press release looked "very suspicious." "It's wholly inappropriate for executives at pharmaceutical companies to be implementing or modifying 10b5-1 plans the business day before they announce data or results from drug trials," Taylor said. The stock sales by Pfizer's CEO brought to mind similar concerns with another coronavirus vaccine-maker, Moderna. Multiple executives at Moderna adopted or modified their stock-trading plans just before key announcements about the company's vaccine. Those executives have sold tens of millions of dollars in Moderna stock.
Moderna CEO StĂ©phane Bancel more than tripled the number of his company shares to be sold through an executive stock plan that was changed just days after the biotech in May announced positive early results for its coronavirus vaccine. Moderna's shares spiked on the May news, rising 30% in just one day. After seeking the executive stock plan change in May, Bancel sold more than 72,000 Moderna shares in the first 16 days of July, generating nearly $4.8 million for the executive. That was more than triple the 22,000 shares he had previously scheduled to sell during the same period through the company's executive trading plan. Another top Moderna executive, President Stephen Hoge, also had his pre-programmed executive trading plan reset around the same time. The change allowed him to sell $1.9 million worth of Moderna stock in the first two weeks of July. The executives' ... sales were made through what are known as 10b5-1 stock plans. These arrangements must be set up or amended at least 30 days before any transactions are executed; they are commonly used at publicly traded companies to help shield executives from potential claims of insider trading. The fact that the plans were changed during the pandemic as news was emerging about the company's closely watched coronavirus vaccine raises new questions about how Moderna executives have pocketed millions of dollars in recent months.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced nonessential businesses to temporarily shut down across Southern California, the Los Angeles Times invited readers to send in the names of businesses in their areas that had failed as a result. [#1] The Awesome Playground was in the first wave of Los Angeles businesses to close as a result of the pandemic, shutting its doors in March. Owner Kay Osorio opened the Awesome Playground in Highland Park 10 years ago. But when the coronavirus crisis began making headlines in Southern California, Osorio knew immediately it could have a devastating effect on her business. Unlike other businesses that have been able to pivot to outdoor-only or remote offerings, â€śwe couldn't come up with another way to deliver our service.â€ť [#2] Sasha Jones had just one day in late July to clear out Cuties Coffee before its lease was taken over. â€śI got an email late Thursday afternoon, like, we need to get what we can out tomorrow, Friday,â€ť the Cuties CEO said. For weeks, the threat of closure had loomed over the LGBTQ-owned and -operated coffee shop. Since the closure of the coffee shop, Cuties is continuing to operate without a physical space. [#3] When Alan Abdo negotiated with his landlord to end the lease for Olive Tree Restaurant, he remembers saying, â€śI can't close fast enough. I'm losing money by the minute.â€ť Olive Tree was a thriving, well-known Middle Eastern restaurant in Anaheim right up until the enforced business closures began.
Note: Small businesses have been devastated worldwide by the lockdown, yet most large corporations are thriving and the billionaires are making money hand over fist. So who is really benefitting from these lockdown measures? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Pfizer is expected to seek federal permission to release its Covid-19 vaccine by the end of November. The vaccine, and likely most others, will require two doses to work, injections that must be given weeks apart. The shots will cause enervating flu-like side effects – including sore arms, muscle aches and fever – that could last days and temporarily sideline some people from work or school. And even if a vaccine proves 90 percent effective ... 1 in 10 recipients would still be vulnerable. That means, at least in the short term, as population-level immunity grows, people can't stop social distancing and throw away their masks. Left out so far ... has been a large-scale plan to communicate effectively about those issues in advance, said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. Such broad-based outreach will be necessary in a country where, as of mid-October, only half of Americans said they'd be willing to get a Covid-19 vaccine. "We are asking people to take a vaccine that is going to hurt," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt. "There are lots of sore arms and substantial numbers of people who feel crummy, with headaches and muscle pain, for a day or two." Persuading people who experience those symptoms to return in three to four weeks for a second dose – and a second round of flu-like symptoms – could be a tough sell, Schaffner said. A professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at University of Iowa [suggested] that essential workers should be granted three days of paid leave after they're vaccinated.
Important Note: Learn about the serious dangers of these mRNA vaccines through the vitally important information given by Christiane Northrup, MD, in the first five minutes of this revealing video. Dr. Northrup's work has been featured on NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Oprah, Dr. Oz, and more. And an informative article in the UK's Independent by another medical doctor states, â€śThere are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including the possibility that they ... could lead to inflammation and autoimmune conditions."
As of Sunday, a total [of] 1,231 people in South Korea reported side effects after getting the flu shot this year, according to health authorities. Last week, the Korean Medical Association "recommended to withhold vaccination for one week," but clarified it was not suggesting vaccinations be stopped. Of the 59 people who died after receiving the flu vaccine this year (up from 48 on Saturday), 46 of those deaths were believed to have no connection to the flu shot. An investigation into the 13 remaining fatalities has been launched, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) revealed. More than 9.4 million people in South Korea have received the flu shot so far since this year's vaccination program began in September. The KDCA noted the latest number of deaths following the flu vaccination is not greater than previous years. Last year, 1,531 people aged 65 years and older died within seven days after receiving a flu shot, according to the KDCA. President Moon noted Monday: "This year, it is necessary to expand flu vaccinations not only to prevent the flu, but also to prevent simultaneous infection and spread of the flu and coronavirus."
Note: How much can we trust authorities who are clearly biased towards promoting vaccines? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines from reliable major media sources.
The development of the antibody cocktail used to treat President Donald Trump for Covid-19 – which he heralded as a cure for the disease – was funded largely by the U.S. government, yet the Trump administration has apparently failed to set any guarantees that the treatment would be affordable. The biopharmaceutical company Regeneron, led by the two highest paid executives in the industry, received hundreds of millions in public funds during the research and development of the antibody therapy, and now stands to make a killing from its potentially lifesaving treatment. In January ... Regeneron struck an agreement with a division of Department of Health and Human Services known as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, to receive up to $81 million for work on antibodies that would prevent Covid-19 from infecting cells by attaching to the spikes on its surface. The two antibodies Regeneron chose were developed using cell lines that were derived from the kidney tissue of an aborted fetus. The January contract [lacks] a standard clause that ensures interventions developed with government funding are available to the public â€śon reasonable terms.â€ť While Trump promised that the government would provide the antibody cocktail to Americans for free, drug pricing efforts say that many people probably won't have access to the treatment at all, let alone at an affordable price. â€śYou have massive public investment, but ... it doesn't benefit public health,â€ť [said drug pricing expert Zain Rizvi].
With all the talk of remote learning for secondary schools and colleges, one important population is missing from the nationwide conversation about learning during the pandemic: babies and toddlers. Many parents are keeping their little ones away from playgrounds, playgroups and preschool preparatory programs. As a result, the social and learning opportunities for the youngest children have been curtailed, just like everyone else's Without group settings, â€śwe are missing a lot of observations, so there is going to be a whole raft of problems,â€ť said Patricia K. Kuhl ... at the University of Washington. That's partly because group settings like day care, classrooms and even playgrounds are often where adults notice, sometimes by comparing children with their peers, that little ones have sensory, motor, cognitive and learning problems that can benefit from early interventions. To encourage the sense of discovery and the â€śproblem solving, turn-taking and perspective-takingâ€ť that comes from situations like â€śnavigating that playground moment of when you are going up a slide, and another kid wants to come down the slide,â€ť [psychologist Aliza W. Pressman] advises letting children play in an undirected manner. That may mean allowing children â€śto use garages, backyards, basements or attics to find opportunities for exploring,â€ť Dr. Pressman said. If children encounter obstacles, allow them to work things out. That includes conflicts with siblings, though â€śif you do need to jump in, help them communicate with each other,â€ť she said.
Note: Children around the world have been told to keep at least six feet away from their friends and they have to wear a mask if they leave home. They can no longer play and explore freely with their friends or even see their smiles. How does this affect their mental, emotional, and spiritual health? How do you think those who are only children with no playmates are faring? How will this impact this entire generation of children growing up now? For more along these lines, see revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Previous vaccines have taken a decade or more to develop, and more than half of the past 20 years have failed in clinical trials. However, four [COVID-19] vaccine candidates have entered the final phase of clinical trials prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Operation Warp Speed ... organized government agencies and private companies with the goal of developing, manufacturing and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, with starting doses to be available by early 2021. At the head of the operation is Moncef Slaoui, a Moroccan-born Belgian-American scientist. Operation Warp Speed Ă˘â‚Źâ€ąĂ˘â‚Źâ€ąhas invested in six vaccine candidates (Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi / GSK) with the hope that at least one ... will prove safe and effective in clinical trials. Four of the six vaccine candidates have already been shown to be safe and effective in the first two test phases, which test whether the vaccinations produce so-called neutralizing antibodies. Serious health problems regularly arise during vaccination attempts. Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’We know how to distribute vaccines to any location in the US,Ă˘â‚ŹĹĄ says Slaoui. Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’It happens every year for flu and shingles.Ă˘â‚ŹĹĄ Tracking systems need to be Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’incredibly preciseĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ to ensure that patients are each given two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects. Operation Warp Speed Ă˘â‚Źâ€ąĂ˘â‚Źâ€ąhas selected medical distributor McKesson and cloud operators Google and Oracle to collect and track vaccine data.
Note: The above article is also available here. DonĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘t miss this excellent article which raises many important questions about this operation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from reliable major media sources.
A COVID-19 envoy appointed by Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has appealed to world leaders to stop resorting to lockdown to control the pandemic. Dr David Nabarro, who has spent his career working for the WHO and the United Nations (UN), seems to have marked a departure from the global health body's early stance on the COVID-19 pandemic, warning about the economic and social consequences of lockdown as a means of controlling the spread of the disease. On Sunday, Dr Nabarro appealed to world leaders to stop "using lockdowns as your primary control method", insisting that such drastic measures can have a dire impact on global poverty rates. The British doctor stated: "We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus. The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we'd rather not do it." Dr Nabarro went on to say that developing economies had been indirectly affected by lockdown measures, adding: "Look what's happened to smallholder farmers all over the world -- look what's happening to poverty levels. "It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition. Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer."
Disruption to food production and supplies due to COVID-19 could cause more deaths from starvation than the disease itself, according to an Oxfam report. The report found that 121 million more people could be “pushed to the brink of starvation this year” as a result of disruption to food production and supplies, diminishing aid as well as mass unemployment. The report estimates that COVID-19 related hunger could cause 12,000 deaths per day: the peak global mortality rate for COVID-19 in April was 10,000 deaths per day. “COVID-19 is the last straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers,” said Oxfam’s Interim Executive Director Chema Vera. Oxfam says Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti are “extreme hunger hotspots” that are likely to be severely affected by the pandemic. Women, who also make up a significant portion of informal workers, are more likely to have been severely affected by lockdown measures. The report notes that there are enough funds globally to address starvation. Eight out of ten of the biggest food and drink companies paid more than $18 billion to shareholders since the beginning of this year, an amount that is “ten times more than the UN says is needed to stop people going hungry,” according to the report.
Almost alone in the Western world, the Swedes refused to impose a coronavirus lockdown last spring, as the country’s leading health officials argued that limited restrictions were sufficient and would better protect against economic collapse. For their part, the Swedes admit to making some mistakes, particularly in nursing homes, where the death toll was staggering. Indeed, comparative analyses show that Sweden’s death rate at the height of the pandemic in the spring far surpassed the rates in neighboring countries and was more protracted. (Others point out that Sweden’s overall death rate is comparable to that of the United States.) Now, though, the question is whether the country’s current low caseload, compared with sharp increases elsewhere, shows that it has found a sustainable balance, something that all Western countries are seeking eight months into the pandemic. With a population of 10.1 million, Sweden averaged just over 200 new cases a day for several weeks. The per capita rate is far lower than nearby Denmark or the Netherlands. Sweden is also doing far better ... than Spain, with 10,000 cases a day, and France, with 12,000. Some experts believe Sweden is now almost fully in control of the virus. “There are indications that the Swedes have gained an element of immunity to the disease, which, together with everything else they are doing to prevent the infection from spreading, is enough to keep the disease down,” Kim Sneppen, professor of biocomplexity at the Niels Bohr Institute ... said.
Note: For the 60 days from Aug. 15 to Oct. 14, Sweden (population 10 million) had a total of 124 coronavirus deaths according to official Johns Hopkins statistics. That's an average of just over two deaths a day with no lockdown or masks required. Compare that to California (population 33 million), which had 5,581 deaths in the same period. That's an average of over 90 deaths a day with lockdown and masks required. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Billionaires have seen their fortunes hit record highs during the pandemic, with top executives from technology and industry earning the most. The world's richest saw their wealth climb 27.5% to $10.2trn (Ł7.9trn) from April to July this year, according to a report from Swiss bank UBS. That was up from the previous peak of $8.9trn at the end of 2017 and largely due to rising global share prices. UBS said billionaires had done "extremely well" in the Covid crisis. It also said the number of billionaires had hit a new high of 2,189, up from 2,158 in 2017. It comes as a World Bank report on Wednesday showed extreme poverty is set to rise this year for the first time in more than two decades due to the pandemic. Among the billionaires, the biggest winners this year have been industrialists, whose wealth rose a staggering 44% in the three months to July. "Industrials benefited disproportionately as markets priced in a significant economic recovery [after lockdowns around the world]," UBS said. Tech billionaires have also had a good pandemic, seeing their wealth soar 41%. UBS said this was "due to the corona-induced demand for their goods and services" and social distancing accelerating "digital businesses [and] compressing several years' evolution into a few months". Healthcare billionaires also benefited as the crisis put drug makers and medical device companies in the spotlight.
Finland has deployed coronavirus-sniffing dogs at the Nordic country’s main international airport in a four-month trial of an alternative testing method that could become a cost-friendly and quick way to identify infected travelers. Four dogs of different breeds trained by Finland’s Smell Detection Association started working Wednesday at the Helsinki Airport as part of the government-financed trial. “It’s a very promising method,” Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a University of Helsinki ... said. “If it works, it will be a good (coronavirus) screening method at any other places,” she said, listing hospitals, ports, elderly people’s homes, sports venues and cultural events among the possible locations where trained dogs could put their snouts to work. Finland is the second country after the United Arab Emirates - and the first in Europe - to assign dogs to sniff out the coronavirus. Passengers who agree to take a free test under the voluntary program in Helsinki do not have direct physical contact with a dog. They are asked to swipe their skin with a wipe which is then put into a jar and given to a dog waiting in a separate booth. The participating animals - ET, Kossi, Miina and Valo - previously underwent training to detect cancer, diabetes or other diseases. It takes the dog a mere 10 seconds to sniff the virus samples before it gives the test result by scratching a paw, laying down, barking or otherwise making its conclusion known. The process should be completed within one minute, according to Hielm-Bjorkman.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The Trump administration has compared Operation Warp Speed's crash program to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to the Manhattan Project. And like the notoriously secretive government project to make the first atomic bomb, the details of Operation Warp Speed's work may take a long time to unravel. One reason is that Operation Warp Speed is issuing billions of dollars' worth of coronavirus vaccine contracts to companies through a nongovernment intermediary, bypassing the regulatory oversight and transparency of traditional federal contracting mechanisms, NPR has learned. Instead of entering into contracts directly with vaccine makers, more than $6 billion in Operation Warp Speed funding has been routed through a defense contract management firm called Advanced Technologies International, Inc. ATI then awarded contracts to companies working on COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, the contracts between the pharmaceutical companies and ATI may not be available through public records requests, and additional documents are exempt from public disclosure for five years. [Robin] Feldman, of UC Hastings, says the administration's comparison of Operation Warp Speed to the Manhattan Project is troubling. "I think that's completely the wrong image," she says. "The right analogy, I think, for Operation Warp Speed is the penicillin effort in World War II. We can do a lot of good together, but we have to make sure pharma companies aren't taking advantage of the crisis."
Note: Read an excellent article showing how most of these contracts are linked to the CIA and DHS and more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The world’s wealthiest individuals have become even richer during the coronavirus pandemic as the prices of financial assets have been supported by widespread policy intervention while employment and wages, well, not so much. The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank in Washington, chronicles just how bifurcated the road the recovery from an economy slump is likely to be. At the upper end of the spectrum, the combined wealth of all U.S. billionaires increased by $821 billion or 28% between March 18, 2020 and September 10, 2020, from approximately $2.947 trillion to $3.768 trillion. That means they own the equivalent of nearly 20% of U.S. gross domestic product. The richest five billionaires, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk, saw a 59% increase in their total wealth, from $358 billion to $569 billion. One University of Chicago study found that, between the start of February and the end of June, the lowest-income group had the highest job loss rate while the highest-income workers had the [lowest] rate of lob losses. Black and Hispanic workers were also much more likely to become unemployed during the pandemic than Whites despite their predominant role in work deemed ... essential. As the pandemic forced many industries into remote work, millions of Black and Hispanic workers have been left out. “Only 19.7% of Black and 16.2% of Latinx people work in jobs where they are able to telework, compared to 29.9% of White and 37.0% of Asian workers,” the report said.
Millions of Americans have lost jobs during a pandemic that kept restaurants, shops and public institutions closed for months and hit the travel industry hard. While lower-wage workers have borne much of the brunt, the crisis is wreaking a particular kind of havoc on the debt-laden middle class. Before the pandemic, Americans had amassed $4.2 trillion in consumer debt, excluding mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a record even when adjusting for inflation. Housing debt added an additional $10 trillion to the tally. The coronavirus has spared few industries and expanded unemployment benefits designed to replace the average American income didn’t cover all the lost pay of higher-earning workers, especially in or near expensive cities. The extra $600 weekly payments expired in July, putting them even further behind. Unemployment has fallen from its pandemic peak of near 15%, but the rate stood at 8.4% in August, up from 3.5% in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment for the arts, design, media, sports and entertainment was 12.7% in August, more than triple its year-earlier level. In education, it more than doubled to 10.2%. Sales and office unemployment was 7.8% in August, up from 3.8% in August 2019. It could get worse. Many people who have jobs are struggling with pay cuts. As of August, 17 million workers were getting paid less due to the pandemic. Some 9.5 million took pay cuts; the remaining 7.5 million are working fewer hours.
Note: You can find the full article available for free viewing on this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Like the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic is a crisis of such magnitude that it threatens to change the world in which we live, with ramifications for how leaders govern. Governments are locking down cities with the help of the army, mapping population flows via smartphones and jailing or sequestering quarantine breakers using banks of CCTV and facial recognition cameras backed by artificial intelligence. The restrictions are unprecedented in peacetime and made possible only by rapid advances in technology. And while citizens across the globe may be willing to sacrifice civil liberties temporarily, history shows that emergency powers can be hard to relinquish. “A primary concern is that if the public gives governments new surveillance powers to contain Covid-19, then governments will keep these powers after the public health crisis ends,” said Adam Schwartz ... at the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government still uses many of the surveillance technologies it developed in the immediate wake.” In part, the Chinese Communist Party’s containment measures at the virus epicenter in Wuhan set the tone, with what initially seemed shocking steps to isolate the infected being subsequently adopted in countries with no comparable history of China’s state controls. For Gu Su ... at Nanjing University, China’s political culture “made its people more amenable to the draconian measures.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was created to stop deadly pathogens. But 2020 has been a disaster for the CDC. The agency’s response to the worst public health crisis in a century - the coronavirus pandemic - has been marked by technical blunders and botched messaging. The agency has endured false accusations and interference by Trump administration political appointees. Worst of all, the CDC has experienced a loss of institutional credibility at a time when the nation desperately needs to know whom to trust. The stumbles started early in the pandemic, with the botched rollout of test kits suspected of being contaminated at a CDC lab in late January. But the agency’s most chronic problem has been the inability to speak directly and persuasively to the American public. That’s because it has been muzzled ... by political operatives. White House officials have pressured the CDC to change guidance over the last several months to align the guidelines more closely with the administration’s message that the pandemic is under control, federal health officials have said. Those actions include revised CDC guidance on mask-wearing and the reopening of religious institutions and schools. “Every big public health response has two components: the public health emergency and the political emergency,” said a CDC epidemiologist who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. “I never would have expected the level of political interference we’re seeing now. It’s so sad.”
The level of hunger in U.S. households almost tripled between 2019 and August of this year, according to an analysis of new data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture. Even more alarming, the proportion of American children who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now as much as 14 times higher than it was last year. The Agriculture Department conducts yearly studies on food insecurity in the U.S., with its report on 2019 released this month. The Census Bureau began frequent household surveys in April in response to Covid-19 that include questions about hunger. The analysis, by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that 3.7 percent of U.S. households reported they sometimes or often had “not enough to eat” during 2019. Meanwhile, the most recent Census data from the end of August of this year showed that 10 percent of households said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat within the past seven days. Levels of food insecurity in Black and Latino households are significantly higher, at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent in white households. Remarkably, this increase in hunger has nothing to do with any actual shortage of food. It is purely the result of political decisions.
Note: How much is severe collateral damage like this from the coronavirus lockdown policies being considered? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Whether the coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna succeeds or not, executives at the small biotech company have already made tens of millions of dollars by cashing in their stock. An NPR examination of official company disclosures has revealed additional irregularities and potential warning signs. Since January, CEO Stéphane Bancel has sold roughly $40 million worth of Moderna stock; Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks has sold around $60 million; and President Stephen Hoge has sold more than $10 million. The stock sales first came to widespread notice after Moderna announced positive early data from a vaccine trial in May. At that point, the company's share price jumped and official disclosures showed executives cashing in their shares for millions of dollars. Advocates have questioned whether it's appropriate for executives to privately profit before bringing the vaccine to market, especially when American taxpayers have committed roughly $2.5 billion to the company's vaccine development. Moderna says its executives pre-scheduled their stock sales long in advance. Those schedules - known as 10b5-1 plans - can act as a defense to charges of insider trading. But the plans have to be put in place when executives do not have confidential inside information. NPR has found multiple executives adopted or modified their plans just before key announcements about the company's vaccine. That has raised questions about whether they were aware of nonpublic information when they planned their stock trades.
Note: Explore a revealing NBC article titled “Secret, powerful panels will pick Covid-19 vaccine winners.” For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
AstraZeneca revealed details of its large coronavirus vaccine trials on Saturday, the third in a wave of rare disclosures by drug companies under pressure to be more transparent about how they are testing products that are the world’s best hope for ending the pandemic. Polls are finding Americans increasingly wary of accepting a coronavirus vaccine. Experts have been particularly concerned about AstraZeneca’s vaccine trials, which began in April in Britain, because of the company’s refusal to provide details about serious neurological illnesses in two participants, both women, who received its experimental vaccine in Britain. Those cases spurred the company to halt its trials twice, the second time earlier this month. The studies have resumed in Britain, Brazil, India and South Africa, but are still on pause in the U.S. About 18,000 people worldwide have received AstraZeneca’s vaccine so far. The company has released few details about the two cases of serious illness in its trial. The first participant received one dose of the vaccine before developing inflammation of the spinal cord, known as transverse myelitis. The condition can cause weakness in the arms and legs, paralysis, pain and bowel and bladder problems. The company said it had not confirmed a diagnosis in the second case, a participant who got sick after the second dose of the vaccine. A person familiar with the situation who spoke with The Times on the condition of anonymity said the participant’s illness had been pinpointed as transverse myelitis.
Note: Why won’t the company let the two who became seriously ill speak to the media? And why initially did they hide the fact that the illnesses were serious? And why are top vaccine executives now dumping their shares of stocks? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Nashville officials reportedly concealed the low number of COVID-19 cases deriving from bars and restaurants in the city, according to emails between the Metro Health Department and Mayor John Cooper's office. On June 30, contact tracing found that construction and nursing homes were the cause of most Nashville coronavirus cases with thousands traced back to those specific categories. Only 22 cases were traced back to bars and restaurants. In the series of emails obtained by FOX 17 News, a discussion between the two offices about how to conceal the number associated with restaurants and bars from the public was shown. "This isn't going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor's Office?" wrote Leslie Waller from the health department. Senior Advisor Benjamin Eagles responded: "Correct, not for public consumption." A month later ... reporter Nate Rau asked the health department about rumors circulating that only 80 cases resulted from the city's bars and restaurants. Rau asked: "The figure you gave of 'more than 80' does lead to a natural question: If there have been over 20,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Davidson and only 80 or so are traced to restaurants and bars, doesn't that mean restaurants and bars aren't a very big problem?" "We raised taxes 34 percent and put ... literally thousands of people out of work that are now worried about losing their homes, their apartments ... and we did it on bogus data. That should be illegal," [Nashville Councilman Steve] Glover told FOX 17 News.
Media portrayals of adolescence shape how society views young people and, as positive youth development scholars note, whether they are seen as risks to be managed or resources to be developed. My own research on adolescent mindfulness and virtue inspired me to learn more about how adolescents are faring during the pandemic. Zoya Sethi is a ninth grader from Delhi, India. She and four of her friends observed that after the shutdown of industries in the cities, millions migrated hundreds of kilometers by foot back to their villages, and women had no access to feminine hygiene pads. In response, they began a campaign through Instagram (@we_standwithher). Lucas Hung is a 12th grader from Vancouver, British Columbia. He and four friends similarly used Instagram to raise funds for those in need, with the dual goal of uniting their classmates (@_viralcause_) The teens also found meaning in smaller acts of service that filled critical needs in their communities. “It was so cool to see that something as small as offering to teach a 40-minute online dance class to their kids could make parents’ lives so much better,” explained Devyn Slade, a 12th grade volunteer dance instructor. Teens also empathized with the plight of seniors in retirement communities. One group wrote letters to older adults, “trying to make them feel connected, seen, and loved during this time where they’re facing tons of isolation and fear and hard times,” said Connor Macmillan, a 12th grade water polo player.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
More states and countries are coming to the conclusion that COVID-19 lockdowns like those in China and New Zealand are overly restrictive and too costly. People in democracies will simply not tolerate them. Sweden has “flattened the curve” of COVID-19 without ordering its citizens to stay inside. It has kept open its shops, schools for those under 16, and restaurants and bars. Its health authorities trusted its citizens to wash their hands and social distance without imposing laws. Anders Tegnell, the Swedish epidemiologist [said,] “We see no point in wearing a face mask.” Swedish health authorities ... pride themselves on “following the science” and are highly respected. Sweden made a mistake ... when it, like the state of New York, sent recovering patients back to their nursing homes too soon (in the U.S., nursing home residents [and staff] account for ... 45% of COVID-19 fatalities). [Yet Swedish] schools stayed open with little risk to students. Studies from Sweden and the Netherlands ... have found teachers at no greater risk than the overall population. Sweden is approaching record lows while its European neighbors are seeing increasing rates. Sweden had about 30,000 new cases in June ... and was down to 7,000 new cases in August. During this time, cases took off in Spain, France and Germany. Sweden’s current rate of positive tests is lower than those in Norway and Denmark. [Its] economy will contract by about 4.6%. In contrast, the European Union economy is expected to contract 11.9%. The U.S. economy contracted at a 32.9% annual rate between April and June. New Zealand’s GDP contracted by 13.8% in the April-June period and has entered a recession, which Sweden has not.
Note: Explore a revealing article in the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) for more on Sweden's unusual success. This chart shows that Sweden is now doing much better on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths per million than most other countries that have instituted a lockdown. Read a balanced, informative New York Times article written by a Swede about her experience there. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious. The most widely used diagnostic test for the new coronavirus, called a PCR test, provides a simple yes-no answer to the question of whether a patient is infected. “We’ve been using one type of data for everything, and that is just plus or minus — that’s all,” [epidemiologist Dr. Michael] Mina said. “We’re using that for clinical diagnostics, for public health, for policy decision-making.” But yes-no isn’t good enough, he added. It’s the amount of virus that should dictate the infected patient’s next steps. The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious. This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are. In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
While many European countries are seeing new cases surge to levels not seen since the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden – whose light-touch approach has made it an international outlier – has one of the continent’s lowest infection rates. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), [its] 14-day cumulative total of new cases was 22.2 per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday, against 279 in Spain, 158.5 in France, 118 in the Czech Republic, 77 in Belgium and 59 in the UK, all of which imposed lockdowns this spring. Sweden also has fewer new daily infections than Norway and Denmark. Thirteen Covid-19 patients are in intensive care in Swedish hospitals, and its seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths is zero. “We don’t have the resurgence of the disease that many countries have,” Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist [said] in an interview, adding that the country was broadly happy with its overall strategy. Unlike many countries, Sweden closed schools for the over-16s but kept those for younger pupils open. Schools and universities are now open again. It also banned gatherings of more than 50 people and told people over 70 and in at-risk groups to self-isolate. Otherwise, the population of 10 million was asked, rather than ordered, to respect physical distancing and work from home if possible. Shops, bars, restaurants and gyms stayed open and the wearing of masks has not so far been recommended. Tegnell has insisted the aim was not to achieve rapid herd immunity but to slow the spread of coronavirus enough for health services to be able to cope.
Note: A Swedish MD on the front lines shares thoughts on why Sweden's COVID death rate has been in the single digits for weeks. Read a balanced, informative New York Times article written by a Swede about her experience there. This graph shows that Sweden is doing well compared to other countries considering that they have not instituted a lockdown. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
Dr Stefan Peterson, chief of health at Unicef, cautioned that the blanket lockdowns imposed in many low and middle income [countries] are not an effective way to control Covid-19 and could have deadly repercussions. “Indiscriminate lockdown measures do not have an optimal effect on the virus,” he [said]. “If you’re asking families to stay at home in one room in a slum, without food or water, that won’t limit virus transmission. I’m concerned that lockdown measures have been copied between countries for lack of knowing what to do, rarely with any contextualisation for the local situation.” According to a stark report published in Lancet Global Health journal on Wednesday, almost 1.2 million children could die in the next six months due to the disruption to health services and food supplies caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The modeling ... found that child mortality rates could rise by as much as 45 per cent due to coronavirus-related disruptions, while maternal deaths could increase by almost 39 per cent. Dr Peterson said these figures were in part a reflection of stringent restrictions in much of the world that prevent people leaving their homes without documentation, preventing them from accessing essential health care services. In some countries the public are also avoiding hospitals and health centres for fear of picking up Covid-19. Dr Peterson warned that these trends have resulted in a reduction in the “effective utilization of services” - a shift which ... could be more dangerous than the virus itself.
In response to the novel and deadly coronavirus, many governments deployed draconian tactics never used in modern times: severe and broad restrictions on daily activity that helped send the world into its deepest peacetime slump since the Great Depression. The equivalent of 400 million jobs have been lost world-wide, 13 million in the U.S. alone. Global output is on track to fall 5% this year, far worse than during the financial crisis. Despite this steep price, few policy makers felt they had a choice, seeing the economic crisis as a side effect of the health crisis. They ordered nonessential businesses closed and told people to stay home, all without the extensive analysis of benefits and risks that usually precedes a new medical treatment. Five months later, the evidence suggests lockdowns were an overly blunt and economically costly tool. The evidence also points to alternative strategies that could slow the spread of the epidemic at much less cost. Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong set early examples of how to stop Covid-19 without lockdowns. They quickly cut travel to China, introduced widespread testing to isolate the infected and traced contacts. Sweden took a different approach. Instead of lockdowns, it imposed only modest restrictions to keep cases at levels its hospitals could handle. Sweden has suffered more deaths per capita than neighboring Denmark but fewer than Britain, and it has paid less of an economic price than either.
As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to explode, hospital systems are scrambling to intensify their measures for protecting patients and health care workers. Providers are wondering whether this effort should include universal use of masks by all health care workers. Wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic. The calculus may be different, however, in health care settings. There are two scenarios in which there may be possible benefits. The first is during the care of a patient with unrecognized Covid-19. More compelling is the possibility that wearing a mask may reduce the likelihood of transmission from asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic health care workers with Covid-19 to other providers and patients. A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active Covid-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves, and a gown. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from ... more fundamental infection-control measures.
Note: For more information on this article, see this educational commentary. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The Australian state of Victoria [announced] on Tuesday that military personnel will be deployed to enforce Covid-19 lockdown orders, amid growing concerns about attacks on police. Authorities warned police were facing a sometimes violent resistance, often by so-called 'sovereign citizens' groups who considered themselves above the law. Victoria earlier this week imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people's daily movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close to slow the spread of coronavirus. But nearly a third of those who contracted Covid-19 were not home isolating when checked on by officials, requiring tough new penalties, Daniel Andrews, the state premier, said. Fines of nearly A$5,000 (Ł2,710) will be issued to anyone breaching stay at home orders. Repeat offenders face a fine of up to A$20,000. "There is literally no reason for you to leave your home and if you were to leave your home and not be found there, you will have a very difficult time convincing Victoria police that you have a lawful reason," Mr Andrews told reporters in Melbourne. The only exemption will be for urgent medical care, said Mr Andrews, adding anyone under a self-isolation order will no longer be allowed to leave their homes for outdoor exercise. Mr Andrews said an additional 500 unarmed military personnel will this week deploy to Victoria to assist police in ensuring self-isolation orders are being complied with. The latest military deployment will join about 1,500 troops already in Victoria.
Note: Learn more about the incredible, draconian measures being taken in Australia in this article banned by facebook. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The nation's mental health is languishing, according to data reported this week as part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Suicidal ideation is up among young people since last year, with as many as one in four people ages 18 through 24 having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days preceding the survey. In the general US population, the CDC reported that 11% of adults surveyed had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days before they completed the survey. Among those identifying as Black or Hispanic, the numbers were worse: 19% of Hispanics reported suicidal ideation and 15% of Blacks reported suicidal thoughts. The results reflect a nation increasingly on edge. The number of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms is three times the number at this same time last year, the CDC said. "Previous events have had a start, middle, an end," said Vaile Wright [with] the American Psychological Association. "People can't disconnect from this." Add on the pressures of the economy, the increased scrutiny on racial injustice and the looming specter of the presidential election, and it's hard for many to feel like things might turn out OK. The stress is disproportionately falling on the young. On an individual level, Wright noted that the main pillars of psychological health include eating healthy, staying active, getting enough sleep and maintaining social connections. But figuring out healthy ways to socialize virtually can require being intentional.
The coronavirus pandemic now ravaging the United States should lead every American to a series of important questions: What are the real threats that I face? What has my government been prioritizing in terms of my - and the nation’s - security? And where has all my tax money been going? It’s hard not to conclude that the American government’s national security priorities have been so askew of reality that they left the country dramatically unprepared for an acute threat to millions of its people. The government’s focus has been overwhelmingly on the threat of extremist groups and unfriendly regimes abroad, mostly in the Middle East. These confrontations have won America an ever-growing list of enemies around the world. But their impact on the United States itself is now also being painfully revealed: a country that has spent trillions on foreign wars but is unable to defend its citizens from basic threats like disease and economic collapse. The last few weeks have revealed a spectacle of a federal government apparently incapable of doing what is required to stop the spread of a pandemic on American soil. Meanwhile, the avalanche of military spending that was released after the September 11 attacks continues to roll onwards. According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, the U.S. government has spent a staggering $6.4 trillion on its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan since 2001. Interest payments on the borrowing needed to pay for the wars ... could run to as much as $8 trillion by midcentury.
What Americans need to understand about the race to find vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 is that in the U.S., even when companies appear to downshift from maximum greed levels — and it’s not at all clear they’ve done this with coronavirus treatments — the production of pharmaceutical drugs is still a nearly riskless, subsidy-laden scam. Americans reacted in horror five years ago when a self-satisfied shark of an executive named Martin Shkreli, a.k.a. the “Pharma Bro,” helped his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raise the price of lifesaving toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Shkreli, who smirked throughout congressional testimony ... was held up as a uniquely smug exemplar of corporate evil. Really, the whole industry is one big Shkreli, and Covid-19 — a highly contagious virus with unique properties that may require generations of vaccinations and booster shots — looms now as the ultimate cash cow for lesser-known Pharma Bros. “The power of the industry combined with fear is driving extraordinary spending,” says U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who has been ... warning about pandemic profiteering. “It all suggests rosy times ahead for the pharmaceutical industry.” Recent House and Senate emergency-spending bills allocate as much as $20 billion or more for vaccine development, and another $6 billion for manufacturing and distribution. “The public will pay for much research and manufacturing,” says Doggett. “Only the profits will be privatized.”
U.S. stocks are hovering near a record high, a stunning comeback since March that underscores the new phase the economy has entered: The wealthy have mostly recovered. The bottom half remain far from it. Jobs are fully back for the highest wage earners, but fewer than half the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $20 an hour. The pandemic is causing especially large gaps between rich and poor, and between White and minority households. It is also widening the gap between big and small businesses. Some of the largest companies, such as Nike and Best Buy, are enjoying their highest stock prices ever while many smaller businesses fight for survival. Some economists have started to call this a “K-shaped” recovery because of the diverging prospects for the rich and poor, and they say policy failures in Washington are exacerbating the problems. For many of the unemployed, the downturn is lasting far longer than they had anticipated. Nearly 80 percent of furloughed or laid-off workers thought they would be rehired, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted April 27-May 4 found. Yet so far, only 42 percent of jobs have returned. “This has been a very clear K-shaped recovery,” says Peter Atwater ... at the College of William & Mary. “The biggest and wealthiest have been on a clear path toward recovery. Meanwhile, for most small businesses and those worst off, things have only become worse. The contrast is piercing: One group feels better than ever while the other borders on hopelessness.”
So now we know: Sweden got it largely right, and the British establishment catastrophically wrong. Anders Tegnell, Stockholm’s epidemiologist-king, has pulled off a remarkable triple whammy: far fewer deaths per capita than Britain, a maintenance of basic freedoms and opportunities, including schooling, and, most strikingly, a recession less than half as severe as our own. Politicians can react in one of three ways to a pandemic. They can do nothing, and allow the disease to rip until herd immunity is reached. Quite rightly, no government has pursued this policy, out of fear of mass deaths and total social and economic collapse. The second approach involves imposing proportionate restrictions to facilitate social distancing, banning certain sorts of gatherings while encouraging and informing the public. The Swedes pursued a version of this centrist strategy: there was a fair bit of compulsion, but also a focus on retaining normal life and keeping schools open. There was no formal lockdown. The third option is the full-on statist approach, which imposes a legally binding lockdown and shuts down society. Almost all economists thought that Sweden’s economy would suffer hugely from its idiosyncratic strategy. They were wrong. Sweden’s GDP fell by just 8.6 per cent in the first half of the year ... and its excess deaths jumped 24 per cent. By contrast, Britain’s economy slumped by 22.2 per cent in the first half of the year, a performance almost three times as bad as Sweden’s, and its excess deaths shot up by 45 per cent.
Note: A Swedish MD on the front lines shares thoughts on why Sweden's COVID death rate has been in the single digits for weeks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on Americans' mental health, according to a new survey out Thursday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It found elevated levels of symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders, substance use and suicidal ideation among U.S. adults, and identified populations at increased risk, including young people, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers and caregivers of adults. More than 40% of respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, and 11% reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior. The data's greatest value, experts say, is the spotlight it shines on vulnerable populations. "It is showing that this breakdown in our society, the breakdown of the safety net, the breakdown of economic security is taking a massive toll," said Anna Mueller, a suicide researcher and professor of sociology at the Indiana University Bloomington. "These breakdowns really show how crucial economic stability and economic security are to an individual's well being. Because the people who are more vulnerable in terms of their socioeconomic status, people who are being put in harm's way, those are the people who are suffering the most." The survey found 75% of respondents 18-24 reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom and serious suicidal ideation among this group was 25%.
Small businesses are disappearing by the thousands amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and the drag on the economy from these failures could be huge. This wave of silent failures goes uncounted in part because real-time data on small business is notoriously scarce, and because owners of small firms often have no debt, and thus no need for bankruptcy court. Yelp Inc., the online reviewer, has data showing more than 80,000 permanently shuttered from March 1 to July 25. About 60,000 were local businesses, or firms with fewer than five locations. About 800 small businesses did indeed file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from mid-February to July 31, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, and the trade group expects the 2020 total could be up 36% from last year. While the businesses are small individually, the collective impact of their failures could be substantial. Firms with fewer than 500 employees account for about 44% of U.S. economic activity, according to a U.S. Small Business Administration report, and they employ almost half of all American workers. About 58% of small business owners say they’re worried about permanently closing, according to a July U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey. In a June 2020 NFIB survey, a net 31% of owners reported lower sales in the past three months, while 7% reported higher sales a year earlier. In the same survey, only 13% of business owners said it was a good time to expand, a dip from 24% a year earlier.
We’re headed into a global depression–a period of economic misery that few living people have experienced. Depressions don’t just generate ugly stats and send buyers and sellers into hibernation. They change the way we live. COVID-19 fears will bring lasting changes to public attitudes toward all activities that involve crowds of people and how we work on a daily basis; it will also permanently change America’s competitive position in the world and raise profound uncertainty about U.S.-China relations going forward. Most postwar U.S. recessions have limited their worst effects to the domestic economy. But most were the result of domestic inflation or a tightening of national credit markets. That is not the case with COVID-19 and the current global slowdown. This is a synchronized crisis, and just as the relentless rise of China over the past four decades has lifted many boats in richer and poorer countries alike, so slowdowns in China, the U.S. and Europe will have global impact on our globalized world. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the unemployment rate will remain stubbornly high for the next decade, and economic output will remain depressed for years unless changes are made to the way government taxes and spends. Those sorts of changes will depend on broad recognition that emergency measures won’t be nearly enough to restore the U.S. economy to health. What’s true in the U.S. will be true everywhere else.
Note: A CNN article dated Aug. 15th is titled "1 in 4 young people are reporting suicidal thoughts." A USA Today article states, "More than 40% of respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, and 11% reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior." It's possible that deaths from suicide, domestic violence, hunger, and more will significantly exceed the number of virus deaths. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
For 23 years, Larry Collins worked in a [toll] booth. But one day in mid-March, as confirmed cases of the coronavirus were skyrocketing, Collins’ supervisor called and told him not to come into work the next day. Collins’ job was disappearing, as were the jobs of around 185 other toll collectors at bridges in Northern California, all to be replaced by technology. The drive to replace humans with machinery is accelerating as companies struggle to avoid workplace infections of COVID-19 and to keep operating costs low. The U.S. shed around 40 million jobs at the peak of the pandemic. Some will never return. One group of economists estimates that 42% of the jobs lost are gone forever. This replacement of humans with machines may pick up more speed in coming months as companies move from survival mode to figuring out how to operate while the pandemic drags on. Robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers in manufacturing alone by 2025. “Look at the business model of Google, Facebook, Netflix. They’re not in the business of creating new tasks for humans,” says Daron Acemoglu, an MIT economist. The U.S. government incentivizes companies to automate, he says, by giving tax breaks for buying machinery and software. A business that pays a worker $100 pays $30 in taxes, but a business that spends $100 on equipment pays about $3 in taxes, he notes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered taxes on purchases so much that “you can actually make money buying equipment,” Acemoglu says.
The Dutch government says it will not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus, asserting that their effectiveness has not been proven. The decision was announced by Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark after a review by the country's National Institute for Health (RIVM). The government will instead seek more adherence to social distancing rules after a surge in coronavirus cases in the country this week, Van Ark said. "Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks" The decision bucks the trend as many European countries have made masks mandatory in stores or crowded outdoor areas. RIVM chief Jaap van Dissel said that the organisation was aware of studies that show masks help slow the spread of disease but it was not convinced they will help during the current coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands. He argued wearing masks incorrectly, together with worse adherence to social distancing rules, could increase the risk of transmitting the disease. "So we think that if you're going to use masks (in a public setting)... then you must give good training for it," he said. Masks are currently required only on public transportation in the Netherlands and in airports. The decision followed a meeting of health and government officials after new coronavirus cases in the country rose to 1329 in the past week, an increase of more than a third.
Note: Sweden, the country which chose not to lock down, also does not require masks. Their death rates have been in the single digits per day for a couple weeks now. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
As other countries face renewed outbreaks, Sweden’s latest Covid-19 figures suggest it’s rapidly bringing the virus under control. “That Sweden has come down to these levels is very promising,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told reporters in Stockholm on Tuesday. The Health Agency of Sweden says that since hitting a peak in late June, the infection rate has fallen sharply. That’s amid an increase in testing over the period. “The curves are going down and the curves for the seriously ill are beginning to approach zero,” Tegnell said. The development follows months of controversy over Sweden’s decision to avoid a full lockdown. The unusual strategy coincided with a much higher Covid-19 mortality rate than elsewhere in the Nordic region. On Tuesday, Sweden reported two new deaths, bringing the total to 5,702. Tegnell also broached the subject of face masks. “With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” he said. Tegnell has consistently argued that Sweden’s approach is more sustainable than the sudden lockdowns imposed elsewhere. With the risk that Covid-19 might be around for years, he says completely shutting down society isn’t a long-term option. Meanwhile, many countries that thought they’d brought the virus under control are now seeing second waves. Tegnell called those developments “worrying.” “The positive trend is reversing, with an increase in the number of cases in Spain, Romania and Belgium, among others,” he said.
Note: In the 7 days ending Aug. 14th, Sweden had a total of 14 deaths from COVID-19 and the numbers continue to decline. By comparison, California with four times the population had 949 deaths. Why isn't the media talking more about Sweden's success without any lockdown? The Dutch government is also not advising the public to wear masks, claiming their effectiveness has not been proven. Why is the media overall so biased against Sweden? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Amid fears over a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus across Europe, new infections in Sweden, where full lockdown measures were not implemented, have mostly declined since late June. The number of new cases per 100,000 people in Sweden reported over the last 14 days since July 29 dropped by 54 percent from the figure reported over 14 days prior to then, according to the latest report Wednesday from the ... WHO. Meanwhile, other parts of Europe have reported large spikes in new cases over the same period, including Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands, which have seen increases between 40 and 200 percent over the last month. The seven-day rolling average of Sweden's daily new cases has been dropping consistently since June 29. The seven-day rolling average of daily new deaths in Sweden has also been declining since around April 15. The country's latest seven-day rolling averages for daily new cases and daily new deaths stand at 154 and 2. Last week Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at Sweden's public health agency ... said the nation's controversial anti-lockdown strategy has been a success. Tegnell noted: "In many ways the voluntary measures we put in place in Sweden have been just as effective as complete lockdowns in other countries. We are now seeing rapidly falling cases, we have continuously had healthcare that has been working. The failure [of the strategy] has of course been the death toll…that has been very much related to the long-term care facilities in Sweden. Now that has improved, we see a lot less cases in those facilities," Tegnell said.
Note: Sweden, the country which chose not to lock down, also does not require masks. Their death rates have been in the single digits per day for a couple weeks now. As mentioned above, the seven-day rolling average is two deaths a day. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
An additional 6.7 million children under the age of five could suffer from wasting – and therefore become dangerously undernourished – in 2020 as a result of the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF warned today. According to an analysis published in The Lancet, 80 per cent of these children would be from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Over half would be from South Asia alone. “It’s been seven months since the first COVID-19 cases were reported and it is increasingly clear that the repercussions of the pandemic are causing more harm to children than the disease itself,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased. Essential nutrition services and supply chains have been disrupted. Food prices have soared. As a result, the quality of children’s diets has gone down and malnutrition rates will go up.” Wasting is a life-threatening form of malnutrition, which makes children too thin and weak, and puts them at greater risk of dying, poor growth, development and learning. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 47 million children were already wasted in 2019. Without urgent action, the global number of children suffering from wasting could reach almost 54 million over the course of the year. This would bring global wasting to levels not seen this millennium. The estimated increase in child wasting is only the tip of the iceberg, UN agencies warn. COVID-19 will also increase other forms of malnutrition in children and women.
A leading epidemiologist says "thousands of people" will be quarantined in isolation facilities for months - and possibly years - into the future. University of Otago professor of public health Michael Baker's appearance on Newshub Nation on Saturday comes after multiple cases of people breaking out of their facilities. Prof Baker says ... we need to be prepared for a "long-term risk management challenge". "Mistakes happen, and we have to learn from them and improve our systems so we don't repeat those errors," he [said]. "We're going to have thousands of people sitting in these facilities, quarantined in isolation facilities for months, maybe years ahead." The latest escapee, a person in their 60s, broke the window of the Waipuna Hotel in Auckland on Friday and climbed out of the building. Their escape is the fourth since last Saturday, when a woman scaled two fences to escape from Auckland's Pullman Hotel. On Tuesday, a 32-year-old man snuck through a gap in the Stamford Plaza fencing and visited an inner-city supermarket. Prof Baker says we need to look at why these people feel the need to escape from the isolation facilities. ACT leader David Seymour said the Government needs to start profiling travelers based on their risk of absconding. "The vast majority of people entering New Zealand will pose absolutely no risk of absconding from managed isolation and quarantine facilities," he said in a statement. "But a tiny minority will be a risk. The Government should ... place them under tighter security."
Note: Baker likely is not referring to individuals being detained for years, but to these policies continuing for years. A second MSN article includes a video describing how police are now guarding the quarantine facilities in New Zealand, which is being called "managed isolation." The "managed isolation" aka quarantine policy started in April. As this article states, "every person arriving in New Zealand will have to go into compulsory quarantine as a measure to try and combat Covid-19." For more, see summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
More than 600 of the nation’s physicians sent a letter to President Trump this week calling the coronavirus shutdowns a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing negative health consequences” to millions of non COVID patients. “The downstream health effects ... are being massively under-estimated and under-reported," according to the letter initiated by Simone Gold, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist. “Suicide hotline phone calls have increased 600%,” the letter said. Other silent casualties: “150,000 Americans per month who would have had new cancer detected through routine screening.” From missed cancer diagnoses to untreated heart attacks and strokes to increased risks of suicides, “We are alarmed at what appears to be a lack of consideration for the future health of our patients.” The physicians’ letter focuses on the impact on Americans’ physical and mental health. “The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse. “It is impossible to overstate the short, medium, and long-term harm to people’s health with a continued shutdown,” the letter says. “Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful events, and the effect on a person’s health is not lessened because it also has happened to 30 million [now 38 million] other people.”
Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood plasma of COVID-19 survivors for an upper-arm injection that they say could inoculate people against the virus for months. Using technology that's been proven effective in preventing other diseases such as hepatitis A, the injections would be administered to high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home patients, or even at public drive-through sites. But the idea exists only on paper. Federal officials have twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal, and pharmaceutical companies — even acknowledging the likely efficacy of the plan — have declined to design or manufacture the shots. The antibodies in plasma can be concentrated and delivered to patients through a type of drug called immune globulin, or Ig, which can be given through either an IV drip or a shot. Yet for the coronavirus, manufacturers are only developing an intravenous solution of Ig. Intravenous plasma products are traditionally the main economic driver for the industry. The money-making antibodies are also far more diluted in intravenous drugs than in injectable ones, which boosts profit margins. “They charge a fortune off of intravenous drugs in the hospital. They don't want to devote the manufacturing plant to something that won't make oodles of money,” said one infectious disease expert. Researchers also said industry executives have little incentive to produce the immunity shots for the coronavirus, given the possibility that a longer-lasting vaccine could replace it within a year.
Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times. The sudden windfalls highlight the powerful financial incentives for company officials to generate positive headlines in the race for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even if the drugs might never pan out. Some officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have grown concerned about whether companies are trying to inflate their stock prices by exaggerating their roles in Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19. In some cases, company insiders ... appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress. “It is inappropriate for drug company executives to cash in on a crisis,” said Ben Wakana, executive director of Patients for Affordable Drugs. “Every day, Americans wake up and make sacrifices during this pandemic. Drug companies see this as a payday.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock last month ordered an urgent review into how daily death counts are calculated in England because of a 'statistical flaw'. Academics found Public Health England's methods ... count victims as anyone who died after ever testing positive for Covid-19 — even if they were hit by a bus after beating the disease months later. Thousands of coronavirus deaths will be wiped off the government's official toll. Public Health England ... admitted that a coronavirus death is one that happens to anyone who has previously tested positive, regardless of how long ago the test happened. It would've meant that, technically, no-one could ever recover from the virus and all 265,000 of England's confirmed patients would eventually have had their deaths attributed to the disease. The blunder could see up to 4,000 deaths removed from England's official toll of 41,749. Mr Hancock is set to bring the figures in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, which only attribute deaths to Covid-19 if it occurs within a month of their diagnosis. The statistical flaw was uncovered by Oxford University's Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr Yoon Loke. Professor Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the prestigious [University of East Anglia commented], 'If it's someone who picked up the virus in a care home in March and recovered, and last week died of a heart attack, what does that actually tell us?' Ministers are thought to be planning a huge reform of PHE following a series of failings by the beleaguered agency. Separate figures ... revealed overall deaths in England and Wales are still below the number usually expected at this time of year, based on an average from the previous five years.
Note: A recent Newsweek article is titled "Florida Man Killed in Crash Listed as COVID-19 Death, Raising Doubts Over Health Data." Could it be that some officials are wanting to inflate the figures? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
According to a July 17 study published in the International Journal of Geriatrics and Rehabilitation, 50 percent of nucleic acid coronavirus tests distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided inaccurate results. The study's lead author, Sin Hang Lee, MD, director of Milford Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, found that the testing kits gave a 30 percent false-positive rate and a 20 percent false-negative rate. To determine these false-positive and false-negative rates, the Connecticut State Department of Public Health Microbiology Laboratory provided Lee 20 tests, which were then re-tested using his own methodology, which examines samples on a cellular level, rather than just testing fluid with no cellular matter from potentially infected oral and nasal secretions. While the results of Lee's testing may be alarming, they also pointed to yet another discovery: new mutations of the virus. Two tests that initially provided false-negatives and one test that yielded a positive result were actually found to be positive for coronavirus and a mutation of the virus, meaning two variants of the virus can simultaneously infect one person. However, it's not just the test you use that may be contributing to inaccurate results—when you get tested is important, too. Getting tested the day a person is infected with coronavirus will likely yield a 100 percent false-negative rate; by day 8 after becoming infected, however, that rate drops to just 20 percent.
Note: Explore an excellent, well-researched article further questioning the validity of these tests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
On June 26, a small South San Francisco company called Vaxart made a surprise announcement: A coronavirus vaccine it was working on had been selected by the U.S. government to be part of Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19. The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions — or even billions — of doses to a desperate public. Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members ... are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March. Senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress. Some companies are attracting government scrutiny for ... using their associations with Operation Warp Speed as marketing ploys. Vaxart’s news release declared: “Vaxart’s Covid-19 Vaccine Selected for the U.S. Government’s Operation Warp Speed.” But Vaxart is not among the companies selected to receive significant financial support from Warp Speed.
Note: MSN strangely removed this article a few days after posting it. A similar article by the New York Times titled "The race for a coronavirus vaccine is making some corporate insiders very rich" is available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Sweden famously took a totally different approach to its Nordic neighbours in trying to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Swedish strategy allowed people to keep living largely as normal. Stores and restaurants remained open – so too did many schools. With a COVID-19 death toll of 5,700, Sweden’s mortality rate from the disease is now around a quarter higher than that of the United States, when adjusted for population size. However, authorities insist that the number of deaths has considerably dropped in recent weeks. "We've actually seen a clearly declining trend in the number of patients in intensive care and also in the number of deaths since the middle of April," said Anna Mia Ekström ... at Stockholm’s Karolinksa Institute. So how close is Sweden to possibly reaching herd immunity? We don’t know at this point. Scientists are still trying to figure out whether immunity from the new coronavirus can even be reached – and for how long. Ekström noted that the reproduction number of the epidemic – or R number, which measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to – has now fallen in Sweden to around 0.6, meaning transmission is declining. The number of people with antibodies against the new coronavirus, meanwhile, is increasing. Data published by Sweden’s public health agency in June showed that about 10 per cent of people in Stockholm – the nation's worst affected area – had developed antibodies to COVID-19, more than anywhere else in the country.
Note: The number of new cases and deaths in Sweden has dropped significantly while the U.S. other non-European countries are seeing a rise in both, according to this MSN article. For the month of July 2020, Sweden had 370 deaths while California had 3,200 deaths. California has a population about four times that of Sweden, yet California with its strict lockdown had almost 10 times as many deaths as Sweden, which is one of the few countries that chose not to lock down. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Pandemics can be indiscriminate. COVID-19 has been different. The disease has shown a special animus for older people, with those 65-plus considered at especially high risk for hospitalization and death, and those 18 and below catching a semblance of an epidemiological break. Adolescents ... are likelier to experience milder symptoms or none at all. But if COVID-19 is sparing most kids’ bodies, it’s not being so kind to their minds. In one study out of China, published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers in Hubei province, where the pandemic originated, examined a sample group of 2,330 schoolchildren for signs of emotional distress. The kids had been locked down for ... an average of 33.7 days. 22.6% of them reported depressive symptoms and 18.9% were experiencing anxiety. Then too there is ... the economy, which continues to struggle badly. A 2018 paper published in Health Economics ... studied economic conditions in the U.S. from 2001 to 2013 and found that during the Great Recession, a 5-percent-age-point increase in the national unemployment rate correlated with an astounding 35% to 50% increase in “clinically meaningful childhood mental-health problems.” With unemployment now exceeding 11%, [health-policy researcher Ezra] Golberstein expects to see more of the same emotional blowback. “When the economy is in a bad place, kids’ mental health gets worse,” he says. “Children who were struggling before [the pandemic] are at higher risk now,” says psychologist Robin Gurwitch.
Note: For the second quarter of 2020, the U.S. GDP plunged 32.9% according to this CNBC article. The lockdown policies are clearly damaging not only the health of the economy, but of the children as well. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and health from reliable major media sources.
Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than it first appeared. The evidence comes from tests that detect antibodies to the coronavirus in a person's blood rather than the virus itself. The tests are finding large numbers of people in the U.S. who were infected but never became seriously ill. And when these mild infections are included in coronavirus statistics, the virus appears less dangerous. "The current best estimates for the infection fatality risk are between 0.5% and 1%," says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. That's in contrast with death rates of 5% or more based on calculations that included only people who got sick enough to be diagnosed with tests that detect the presence of virus in a person's body. And the revised estimates support an early prediction by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In an editorial published in late March ... Fauci and colleagues wrote that the case fatality rate for COVID-19 "may be considerably less than 1%." The new evidence is coming from places such as Indiana, which completed the first phase of a massive testing effort early in May. Indiana's infection fatality rate turned out to be about 0.58%, or roughly one death for every 172 people who got infected. In New York ... an antibody study indicated the state has an infection fatality rate around 0.5%. Studies in Florida and California have suggested even lower fatality rates.
One by one, vaccine developers at a White House roundtable convened by President Donald Trump in early March pitched their product as a viable solution to the coronavirus. Stéphane Bancel of Moderna Inc. glanced across the table at the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and said he is "very proud to be working with the US government and to have already sent, in only 42 days from the sequence of the virus, our vaccine to Dr. Fauci's team at the NIH." Bancel went on to say that he needed just "a few months" to start phase two of a three-part clinical trial of the sort that typifies vaccine development. (The entire process often takes more than a decade.) The day after the roundtable, the FDA green-lit Moderna's product for trial, making it the first vaccine candidate to advance to the first phase of a clinical study, in which an as-yet unapproved vaccine is injected into the arms of a small group of 45 human volunteers. The effort received another boost on April 16, when the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded Moderna up to $483 million to accelerate the development and manufacturing of the vaccine. The FDA allowed Moderna's RNA vaccine ... to essentially gloss over the animal-testing that typically precede clinical trials in humans. [Moderna's former director of chemistry Dr. Suhaib] Siddiqi said this is cause for alarm. "I would not let that [vaccine] be injected in my body," he said. "I would demand: Where is the toxicity data from the lab?"
Note: Read a New York Times/MSN article titled "Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from reliable major media sources.
The drug that buoyed expectations for a coronavirus treatment and drew international attention for Gilead Sciences, remdesivir, started as a reject. To make progress, Gilead needed help from U.S. taxpayers. Lots of help. Three federal health agencies were deeply involved in remdesivir’s development every step of the way, providing tens of millions of dollars of government research support. Federal agencies have not asserted patent rights to Gilead’s drug. That means Gilead will have few constraints other than political pressure when it sets a price. “Without direct public investment and tax subsidies, this drug would apparently have remained in the scrapheap of unsuccessful drugs,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.) ... said earlier this month. Doggett and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) have asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for a detailed financial accounting of federal support for remdesivir’s discovery and development. Watchdog groups ... have documented the large taxpayer-funded contributions toward the drug. Public Citizen estimates public investment at a minimum of $70 million. An independent organization that measures the cost-effectiveness of drugs said Gilead could be justified in charging up to $4,500 for a 10-day course of treatment for a single coronavirus patient. But advocates, citing a study by academic researchers on what it costs to make the drug, have said Gilead could break even by charging $1 per dose.
Note: According to this CNBC article Gilead is charging from $2,000 to $3,120 per patient despite huge subsidies. Gilead is the same company which developed Tamiflu and licensed it to Roche. Aggressive sales of Tamiflu to governments around the world brought profits of over $1 billion yet almost none of the doses sold were ever used, as described in this Reuters article. The study that is being used to tout Remdesivir was conducted by none other than Gilead. Could there be conflict of interest here? For more, see summaries of revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption.
Pediatricians say students should be in classrooms for in-person learning as soon as possible – the most full-throated endorsement yet for getting children back into schools amid the coronavirus pandemic and one that was included in a set of recommendations released by the American Academy of Pediatrics for how schools should safely reopen. "The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020," the group representing 67,000 pediatricians wrote. "Lengthy time away from school ... often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality." The recommendations acknowledge that infectious disease experts are still learning about the effects of COVID-19. But the academic, physical and mental upsides associated with reopening outweigh the risks, the group concludes, especially as evidence mounts that children ... tend to exhibit milder symptoms when they do contract the virus. Perhaps most importantly, the pediatric group concludes, reopening is essential for the country's most vulnerable students, including poor students and students of color.
Over the last two months, Chinese citizens have had to adjust to a new level of government intrusion. Getting into one’s apartment compound or workplace requires scanning a QR code, writing down one’s name and ID number, temperature and recent travel history. Telecom operators track people’s movements while social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo have hotlines for people to report others who may be sick. Some cities are offering people rewards for informing on sick neighbours. Chinese companies are meanwhile rolling out facial recognition technology that can detect elevated temperatures in a crowd or flag citizens not wearing a face mask. A range of apps use the personal health information of citizens to alert others of their proximity to infected patients. Experts say the virus ... has given authorities a pretext for accelerating the mass collection of personal data to track citizens. “It’s mission creep,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. According to Wang, the virus is likely to be a catalyst for a further expansion of the surveillance regime. Citizens are particularly critical of a system called Health Code, which users can sign up for through Alipay or WeChat, that assigns individuals one of three colour codes based on their travel history, time spent in outbreak hotspots and exposure to potential carriers of the virus. The software, used in more than 100 cities, will soon allow people to check the colours of other residents when their ID numbers are entered.
Note: Learn in this New York Times article how everyone in China is given a red, yellow, or green code which determines how free they are to move about and even enter businesses. This article shows how foreigners are being stopped instantly from making live podcasts from China using facial recognition technology. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
More than a million people may have quit smoking in Britain during the pandemic, figures have suggested. A survey of 10,000 people indicated that across the country as many as 400,000 people aged 16 to 29 dropped their smoking habit during lockdown, and 240,000 aged over 50. It is believed another 400,000 aged 30-49 have also quit since April, according to analysis by the charity Action on Smoking and Health and University College, London. It is thought to be explained by the health threat, as Covid-19 has severe effects on the respiratory system. A public health drive is now being launched to encourage more people to give up smoking. The figures have been published to coincide with a new campaign, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, which hopes to target smokers in areas with the highest rates of smoking, such as England's north east. Matt Hancock has set a Government target for the UK to become smoke-free by 2030. Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of ASH, said: "This campaign is designed to encourage those who have not yet succeeded in stopping to wake up, and decide that today is the day to stop smoking." Dr Ruth Sharrock, a respiratory consultant who is supporting the campaign, said: “Every day of my working life I see the terrible health problems caused by smoking. But I have also been inspired by those already suffering from smoking related diseases, who have still managed quit and get health benefits from this.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sweden’s decision to keep schools open during the pandemic resulted in no higher rate of infection among its schoolchildren than in neighboring Finland, where schools did temporarily close, their public health agencies said in a joint report. Sweden decided to forego a hard lockdown and keep most schools and businesses open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, a divisive strategy that set it apart from most of Europe. Its Public Health Agency has maintained that the negative consequences of a shutdown on the economy and society outweigh the benefits, and says this also applies to schools. During the period of February 24 to June 14, there were 1,124 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among children in Sweden, around 0.05% of the total number of children aged 1-19. Finland recorded 584 cases in the same period, also equivalent to around 0.05%. “In conclusion, (the) closure or not of schools had no measurable direct impact on the number of laboratory confirmed cases in school-aged children in Finland or Sweden,” the agencies said in the report. Sweden’s death toll of 5,572, when compared relative to population size, far outstripped those of its Nordic neighbors, although it remains lower than in some European countries that locked down, such as Britain and Spain. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the health agency, who has devised Sweden’s response to the epidemic, has said there is little evidence linking the death toll to the absence of a lockdown.
Note: Explore an excellent article on Sweden's underreported success in dealing with COVID-19. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conflating the results of two different types of coronavirus tests, distorting several important metrics and providing the country with an inaccurate picture of the state of the pandemic. We’ve learned that the CDC is making, at best, a debilitating mistake: combining test results that diagnose current coronavirus infections with test results that measure whether someone has ever had the virus. The agency confirmed to The Atlantic on Wednesday that it is mixing the results of viral and antibody tests, even though the two tests reveal different information and are used for different reasons. This is not merely a technical error. The upshot is that the government’s disease-fighting agency is overstating the country’s ability to test people who are sick with COVID-19. States have set quantitative guidelines for reopening their economies based on these flawed data points. Several states - including Pennsylvania, the site of one of the country’s largest outbreaks, as well as Texas, Georgia, and Vermont - are blending the data in the same way. Virginia likewise mixed viral and antibody test results until last week, but it reversed course and the governor apologized for the practice. These results damage the public’s ability to understand what is happening in any one state. On a national scale, they call the strength of America’s response to the coronavirus into question. The number of tests conducted nationwide each day has more than doubled in the past month. At the same time, the portion of tests coming back positive has plummeted.
Most new Covid-19 hospitalizations in New York state are from people who were staying home and not venturing much outside, a “shocking” finding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The preliminary data was from 100 New York hospitals involving about 1,000 patients. It shows that 66% of new admissions were from people who had largely been sheltering at home. The next highest source of admissions was from nursing homes, 18%. Cuomo said nearly 84% of the hospitalized cases were people who were not commuting to work through car services, personal cars, public transit or walking. He said a majority of those people were either retired or unemployed. Overall, some 73% of the admissions were people over age 51. He said the information shows that those who are hospitalized are predominantly from the downstate area in or around New York City, are not working or traveling and are not essential employees. He also said a majority of the cases in New York City are minorities, with nearly half being African American or Hispanic. Cuomo said the state’s hospitalization rate has continued to decline, although at a “painfully slow” rate. He said around 600 infected people were still walking through hospital doors every day, although that number has also declined. While data shows the coronavirus is on the decline in New York, the new survey results appear to clash with Cuomo’s prior assurances that isolation can reliably prevent transmission.
Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections. Preliminary evidence from the earliest outbreaks indicated that the virus could spread from person-to-person contact, even if the carrier never develops symptoms. But WHO officials now say that while asymptomatic spread can occur, it is not the main way it’s being transmitted. “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said. The virus is primarily spread via respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes or if they touch a contaminated surface, scientists say. WHO officials say Covid-19 can also spread in the so-called pre-symptomatic stage — a few days before a patient shows symptoms. More research and data are needed to “truly answer” the question of whether the coronavirus can spread widely through asymptomatic carriers, Van Kerkhove added. “We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” she said. “They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare.”
Note: This official was immediately pressured to retract what she said, even though it was based on scientific studies. Learn in this Science magazine article how Fauci based his recommendations on one faulty study with five people to state "There's no doubt after reading this paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring." See this CNN article for Fauci quote. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
As America begins the formidable task of getting our kids back to school and all of us back to work safely ... public health experts face two opponents: covid-19, but also political leaders and others attempting to undermine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of this date, the CDC guidelines, which were designed to protect children, teachers, school staffers and their families — no matter the state and no matter the politics — have not been altered. It is not unusual for CDC guidelines to be changed or amended during a clearance process that moves through multiple agencies and the White House. But it is extraordinary for guidelines to be undermined after their release. Through last week, and into Monday, the [Trump] administration continued to cast public doubt on the agency’s recommendations and role in informing and guiding the nation’s pandemic response. On Sunday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos characterized the CDC guidelines as an impediment to reopening schools quickly rather than what they are: the path to doing so safely. The only valid reason to change released guidelines is new information and new science — not politics. Sound science is being challenged with partisan potshots, sowing confusion and mistrust. These efforts have even fueled a backlash against public health officials: Public servants have been harassed, threatened and forced to resign when we need them most.
Sending children back to schools and day care centres in Denmark, the first country in Europe to do so, did not lead to an increase in coronavirus infections, according to official data, confirming similar findings from Finland on Thursday. As countries across Europe make plans to exit months of lockdown aimed at curbing the virus outbreak, some parents worry that opening schools first might put the health of their children in danger. Following a one-month lockdown, Denmark allowed children between two to 12 years back in day cares and schools on April 15. Based on five weeks' worth of data, health authorities are now for the first time saying the move did not make the virus proliferate. "You cannot see any negative effects from the reopening of schools," Peter Andersen, doctor of infectious disease epidemiology and prevention ... said on Thursday. In Finland, a top official announced similar findings on Wednesday, saying nothing so far suggested the coronavirus had spread faster since schools reopened in mid-May. The number of infected children aged between one and up to 19 has declined steadily since late April, Andersen said, following a slight uptick immediately after the reopening of schools. But this was too early to have anything to do with the reopening, he said. "Based on preliminary experiences, it does not look like there has been a negative effect on the spread among school children or in the society in general," Andersen said and called Denmark's reopening strategy "prudent". A steady drop in daily infections, hospital admissions and deaths since early April has led Denmark to continue its reopening, with shopping malls, bars, restaurants allowed to reopen in May.
Since June 19, when new cases in the United States went back over 30,000 in one day, we have been constantly bombarded with stories of how the virus is “spiking” in “record” numbers in many of the states (like California, Texas, Florida and Arizona) that were not hit hard in the “first wave.” Across the country, our number of new cases has indeed exploded to new levels during this time period ... and the news media, both at the national and local levels, have used these statistics to essentially create panic porn. The resulting public anxiety has caused several states to reverse their reopenings. Obviously the “new case” data point is both real and relevant, but it is also now extremely misleading. By incompetently using the same measure of what a “positive” virus test meant in April, to what it now means in July, the news media is in the process of, quite effectively, sabotaging America’s recovery from this crisis. The data ... now makes it overwhelmingly obvious that nowhere near as many people who recently tested positive for the virus are going to die as did when this nightmare began. While the development has gotten scandalously little news coverage, the daily numbers of deaths with/of COVID has been declining with remarkable consistency for well over two months now. Sweden, a country much maligned in the media because they dared to not lock down by government mandate, has “new case” and “death” charts which look remarkably similar to ours. Their daily death rate has recently been down to single digits.
Note: Don't miss this entire article which pulls back the curtain on media manipulations in these challenging times. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
Dr. Richard Bartlett works at various clinics around West Texas, and says he’s found a successful treatment for the coronavirus. “The treatment plan is inhaled, generic budesonide,” Bartlett said. “Using some generic antibiotics to protect from a secondary bacterial infection. Using zinc, which interferes with virus replication. It’s common sense. It’s intuitive.” Budesonide is a steroid, that can be inhaled directly to the lungs using a nebulizer. The drug has been used for decades to treat asthma and is approved by the FDA. However using it to treat COVID-19 is not. “I am not aware of any doctors anywhere that are using this specifically for COVID-19, yet,” Bartlett said. Bartlett said he treats people as soon as they show symptoms. “Early treatment is better with this disease,” he said. “And I’m having a 100% survival rate. I don’t even know how many I’ve treated...dozens. I have 14 that I’m treating right now.” Bartlett said that patients tell him they feel immediate relief. Bartlett said he’s currently writing a paper to submit to medical journals. Additionally, he said the National Institute of Health, as well as the countries of France and Spain will be looking into inhaled budesonide treatments.
Note: Watch a fascinating interview with this doctor. And remember that the biggest sponsor of the major media is big Pharma. The don't want any cheap medicine like hydrochlorequine or budesonide to look good. There are other inexpensive treatments that are not being reported. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Forty lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal coronavirus aid. The lobbyists identified Monday by the watchdog group Public Citizen either worked in the Trump executive branch, served on his campaign, were part of the committee that raised money for inaugural festivities or were part of his presidential transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns. Trump pledged to clamp down on Washington's influence peddling with a “drain the swamp” campaign mantra. But during his administration, the lobbying industry has flourished, a trend that intensified once Congress passed more than $3.6 trillion in coronavirus stimulus. While the money is intended as a lifeline to a nation whose economy has been upended by the pandemic, it also jump-started a familiar lobbying bonanza. Shortly after Trump took office, he issued an executive order prohibiting former administration officials from lobbying the agency or office where they were formerly employed, for a period of five years. Another section of the order forbids lobbying the administration by former political appointees for the remainder of Trump's time in office. Yet five lobbyists who are former administration officials have potentially done just that during the coronavirus lobbying boom. Public Citizen's Craig Holman, who himself is a registered lobbyist, said the group intends to file ethics complaints with the White House. But he's not optimistic that they will lead to anything.
The maker of a drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients says it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and other developed countries. Gilead Sciences announced the price Monday for remdesivir, and said the price would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors. The price was swiftly criticized; a consumer group called it “an outrage” because of the amount taxpayers invested toward the drug's development. In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug; two countries are doing that for around $600 per treatment course. The drug, given through an IV, interferes with the coronavirus’s ability to copy its genetic material. In a U.S. government-led study, remdesivir shortened recovery time by 31% — 11 days on average versus 15 days for those given just usual care. Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price “an outrage.” “Remdesivir should be in the public domain” because the drug received at least $70 million in public funding toward its development, he said. “The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will ‘do the right thing’ because it is a pandemic,” Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert ... said. “The price might have been fine if the company had demonstrated that the treatment saved lives. It didn’t.”
Note: The March coronavirus package passed in the U.S. "not only omitted language that would have limited drug makers’ intellectual property rights, it specifically prohibited the federal government from taking any action if it has concerns that the treatments or vaccines developed with public funds are priced too high." While many suffer economically from the virus, big Pharma is raking in big bucks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Minn., a physician in Minnesota, was interviewed by "The Ingraham Angle" host Laura Ingraham on April 8 on Fox News and claimed hospitals get paid more if Medicare patients are listed as having COVID-19 and get three times as much money if they need a ventilator. On April 19, he doubled down on his assertion via video on his Facebook page. Jensen said, "Hospital administrators might well want to see COVID-19 attached to a discharge summary or a death certificate. Why? Because if it's a straightforward, garden-variety pneumonia that a person is admitted to the hospital for – if they're Medicare – typically, the diagnosis-related group lump sum payment would be $5,000. But if it's COVID-19 pneumonia, then it's $13,000, and if that COVID-19 pneumonia patient ends up on a ventilator, it goes up to $39,000." He noted that some states ... specifically New York, list all presumed cases, which is allowed under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of mid-April and which will result in a larger payout. The coronavirus relief legislation created a 20% premium, or add-on, for COVID-19 Medicare patients. We rate the claim that hospitals get paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators as TRUE. Hospitals and doctors do get paid ... three times more if the patients are placed on a ventilator to cover the cost of care and loss of business resulting from a shift in focus to treat COVID-19 cases.
Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has hit back at the World Health Organization after it included Sweden in a group of countries facing "a very significance resurgence" of coronavirus infections. Mr Tegnell, who has in recent months become one of the world's most high profile and divisive epidemiologists, said: "That is, unfortunately, a total misinterpretation of the data." "It's very unfortunate that people lump Sweden together with countries that earlier have had no problem at all and are now apparently at the start of their epidemic," he told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT. Hans Kluge, the WHO's Regional Director for Europe, on Thursday named Sweden in a list of eleven problem countries ... which are facing "accelerated transmission" of infection. Sweden has this month seen the daily number of confirmed cases more than triple from 60 on June 1st to 207 on Thursday. But Mr Tegnell argued that this has to do with increased testing rather than a resurgence in infection. "This is growing because we recently started offering tests to everyone with symptoms," he told Sweden's TT newswire. "We are doing twice as many tests as we were a few weeks ago. But the growth we are seeing is in mild cases, not hospital admissions." Mr Tegnell has drawn both admiration and criticism internationally for leading a coronavirus strategy that left schools for 14-16 year olds open throughout the pandemic, as well as bars, restaurants, gyms, and much else, relying instead on the public's willingness to follow social distancing guidelines.
Whether you are directly or indirectly affected by the COVID-19 viral disease, you may be feeling down as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. There are many solutions out there to help lift your spirits, but not all are backed by research in behavioral science, nor specifically by evidence from the study of happiness and well-being. However, Professor Laurie Santos at Yale University has synthesized the science of well-being into a course for students at Yale, a course for students on Coursera, and has most recently transformed her work into a digital health program on Pattern Health ... that can be licensed by employers to provide to their employees. The recommendations that stem from the science of well-being are useful in normal times, but essential in coronavirus times, where the collective hit to well-being is being felt across the globe. There are 9 major insights that can be taken from Santos’ Science of Well-Being program [presented] here to help improve your quarantine well-being. They are: practice your signature strengths, savor life, be grateful, be kind, stay socially connected while physically distanced, exercise regularly, sleep well, meditate, and feel rich with time. With these nine strategies, you can successfully improve your quarantine well-being. Laurie Santos recommends daily journaling to track and raise your awareness about how each of these happiness-boosting strategies are going for you.
Kentucky lawmakers have warned the state was heading towards a disastrous primary election this week, as ballot problems, voter confusion and a severe shortage of polling places threatened to suppress turnout amid the coronavirus pandemic. State officials ... released a joint statement condemning US District Court Judge Charles Simpson’s ruling against a case that argued having just one polling site in most of the state’s 120 counties would result in voter suppression. “We believe the judge disregarded evidence from our expert witness that one location will suppress the vote, particularly among African Americans,” read the statement, co-authored by Jason Nemes, a Republican state representative, and Keisha Dorsey, a Democratic councilwoman. The lawmakers were both behind the lawsuit, which demanded an increase in statewide polling locations. Voters throughout Kentucky received inaccurate absentee ballots ... that do not match their party affiliations. In Kentucky, voters must be members of a party to participate in its primary elections. In a typical election year, Kentucky has about 3,700 polling sites. When Election Day arrives ... there will be just 200 polling sites across the state. Ben Jealous, president of People For The American Way, described the situation as “Our Next Electoral Nightmare.” “Half Kentucky’s Black voters live in one county,” he wrote. “It will have one polling place ... for 616,000 registered voters.”
Prof Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious diseases clinic at the Policlinico San Martino hospital in Italy, told The Telegraph that Covid-19 has been losing its virulence in the last month and patients who would have previously died are now recovering. The expert in critical care said the plummeting number of cases could mean a vaccine is no longer needed as the virus might never return. "The clinical impression I have is that the virus is changing in severity," said Prof Bassetti. "In March and early April the patterns were completely different. People were coming to the emergency department with a very difficult to manage illness and they needed oxygen and ventilation, some developed pneumonia. "Now, in the past four weeks, the picture has completely changed. There could be a lower viral load in the respiratory tract, probably due to a genetic mutation in the virus which has not yet been demonstrated scientifically. Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up in bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days before. "I think the virus has mutated because our immune system reacts to the virus and we have a lower viral load now due to the lockdown, mask-wearing, social distancing. "Yes, probably it could go away completely without a vaccine." Prof Karol Sikora ... at Rutherford Health previously said it is likely the British public has more immunity than previously thought and Covid-19 could end up "petering out by itself".
Confidence levels jumped in Sweden as consumers and businesses started to leave the worst of the Covid-19 crisis behind them. The overall economic tendency survey rose to 75.2 in June, from a revised 64.4 in May, the National Institute of Economic Research said Wednesday. Sentiment had plunged to an all-time low in April, and despite June’s jump remains depressed, as values below 90 are equivalent to a much weaker than normal economy. The reading comes as economists and policy makers revise up their forecasts in light of better-than-expected consumer spending and unemployment data. According to Manuel Oliveri, an FX strategist at Credit Agricole, the rebound in confidence levels “continues to keep the risk for additional policy action low, irrespective of Riksbank members leaving all options open.” But Bloomberg economist Johanna Jeansson was less sanguine, while agreeing that “the most acute phase of the crisis has abated.” “Today’s survey is yet another sign that the most acute phase of the crisis has abated. But with both demand and supply below pre-pandemic levels, we expect the Riksbank and the Ministry of Finance will have to do more,” [said] Johanna Jeansson. Unlike its neighbors, Sweden avoided a strict lockdown as the coronavirus spread, keeping shops, schools and restaurants open. The lax strategy appears to have mitigated some of the economic damage caused by the pandemic, but at the cost of a relatively high death toll.
Note: Meanwhile the IMF states that worldwide, economic contraction and soaring debt levels and unemployment are worse than earlier predicted. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Tens of thousands of Covid-19 tests have been double-counted in the Government’s official tally, public health officials have admitted. Diagnostic tests which involve taking saliva and nasal samples from the same patient are being counted as two tests, not one. The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England each confirmed the double-counting. This inflates the daily reported diagnostic test numbers by over 20 per cent, with that proportion being much higher earlier on in the crisis before home test kits were added to the daily totals. Almost 350,000 more tests have been reported in Government data than people tested since the start of the pandemic. It is not the first time the Government has been caught massaging the testing data. It was accused last month of including thousands of home tests which had been posted but not completed in a bid to reach its target of 100,000 tests. Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “Ministers have already received an embarrassing slap on the wrists for their dodgy spin on testing figures. It seems they haven’t learnt their lesson.” The Government announced at the beginning of May that it would be extending its target from 100,000 tests per day to 200,000 tests per day. But so far it has only hit the 100,000 target nine times in the 20 days since its introduction. Global health experts said the Government should stop fixating on its arbitrary targets and instead focus on making testing work to drive down Covid-19 infections in the UK.
In April, as the coronavirus was ravaging New York, Susan Jones learned her older brother had been diagnosed with a blood cancer. His supervisor at work launched a GoFundMe page to help with costs, and Jones shared it on Facebook. What happened next stunned her. While Jones ... was confident her closest friends would help, she was stunned to see scores of colleagues — some she didn't even know that well, and didn’t even know she had a brother — donating, despite their own economic challenges. Jones found herself asking: Would the response have been the same just two months earlier, before the pandemic? She's fairly certain it wouldn't. Instead, she thinks the instinct to help shows, along with simple kindness, how people are striving to make a difference. At a time of helplessness, she says, helping others makes a mark on a world that seems to be overwhelming all of us. That helping others can feel good is not just an anecdotal truth but an idea backed by research, says Laurie Santos, psychology professor at Yale University and teacher of the school's most popular course to date: “Psychology and the Good Life." “The intuition that helping others is the key to our well-being right now fits with science,” Santos says. “There’s lots of research showing that spending our time and money on other people can often make us happier than spending that same time or money on ourselves. Taking time to do something nice for someone else ... is a powerful strategy for improving our well-being.”
In 1847, the Choctaw people collected $170 to send to people in Ireland who were starving during the potato famine. The struggles experienced by the Irish were familiar to the tribal nation: Just 16 years earlier, the Choctaw people had embarked on the Trail of Tears and lost thousands of their own to starvation and disease. Now, donations are pouring in from people across Ireland for a GoFundMe campaign set up to support the Navajo Nation and Hopi reservation during the coronavirus pandemic. "From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned!" a message from one donor reads. "To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship." The donations from Ireland seem to have started after The Irish Times journalist Naomi O'Leary shared the Navajo and Hopi fundraiser on Twitter. "Native Americans raised a huge amount in famine relief for Ireland at a time when they had very little," O'Leary wrote. Ethel Branch, the fundraiser's organizer, estimated on Tuesday that Irish people had donated about half a million dollars to the relief efforts so far, which goes toward food, water and other necessary supplies for Navajo and Hopi communities. "It's just incredible to see the solidarity and to see how much people who are so far away care about our community and have sympathy for what we're experiencing," Branch told CNN. The Navajo Nation has seen more than 2,400 confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 70 deaths. The Hopi reservation ... has reported 52 positive cases.
How accurate are the coronavirus tests used in the U.S.? Months into the outbreak, no one really knows. When the new virus began spreading, the Food and Drug Administration used its emergency powers to OK scores of quickly devised tests, based mainly on a small number of lab studies showing they could successfully detect the virus. That’s very different from the large patient studies that can take weeks or months, which experts say are needed to provide a true sense of testing accuracy. There have been more than 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 115,000 deaths. Cases in nearly half of U.S. states are rising. Most COVID-19 tests in the U.S. don’t give data on real-world performance, including how often the tests falsely clear patients of infection or falsely detect the virus. That information is lacking for all but a few of the roughly 80 commercial screening tests available. Last month, the FDA warned doctors of a potential accuracy problem with Abbott Laboratories’ rapid ID Now test, which delivers results in roughly 15 minutes. The test has been lauded by President Donald Trump and used to screen the president, his staff and visitors to the White House. The FDA alert followed a preliminary report by New York University that found Abbott’s test missed between a third to one-half of infections caught by a rival test in patients screened for the virus. Dr. Colin West of the Mayo Clinic worries doctors and patients have put too much confidence in the current crop of tests.
Remember the coronavirus? We were told by public health experts ... that we could not go outside for any reason. Roughly two weeks ago, everything changed. We all watched as mass stay-at-home orders and self-isolation gave way to massive street protests, where tens or hundreds of thousands of people gathered together in the U.S. and around the world. Virtually no prominent experts have denounced any of this on the ground that it will spread the coronavirus and ultimately kill more people. To the contrary, many infectious disease experts have done the exact opposite: they have endorsed and encouraged these mass street protests, claiming not that their support for them is grounded in their political values but in their health and scientific judgment. Perhaps the most egregious and illustrative example of the utter manipulation of public health science and expertise for nakedly political ends is found in the open letter that was originally crafted by epidemiologists at the University of Washington and then ultimately signed by 1,300 experts from around the country. These health experts ... decree that support for these protests is mandated as a matter of public health and scientific expertise, while imperiously insisting that other protests should still be scorned and prohibited. How is it remotely within the scope of the expertise of epidemiologists to pick and choose which political protests should be permitted and/or encouraged and which ones banned and/or denounced?
Moderna set off a frenzy on Wall Street earlier this month when it announced positive, preliminary results from its coronavirus vaccine trial. As the hype grew, the young biotech company and its leading investor wasted no time capitalizing on the briefly surging stock price. Even as critics accused Moderna of overhyping the results released on May 18, a series of transactions were executed before its share price fizzled over the next week. The timing of those deals, former SEC officials said, appear to be "highly problematic" and should be investigated for potential illegal market manipulation. Just hours after revealing the promising vaccine results, Moderna (MRNA) sold 17.6 million shares to the public. That share sale, unveiled after the closing bell on May 18, was priced at $76; Moderna traded at just $48 as recently as May 6. The deal instantly raised $1.3 billion. Two of Moderna's top executives also cashed in on the boom at their company, which had suddenly amassed a $29 billion market value despite the fact it has no marketed products. By the time the selling was disclosed to the public via securities filings, Moderna's stock price had crashed back to Earth. The timing of the transactions - coupled with concerns from some medical experts that Moderna overstated the significance of its Phase 1 vaccine trial - should be investigated by authorities. Thomas Gorman, [a] former SEC official, said the agency should "absolutely" be investigating the situation at Moderna.
Note: Why didn't the media report that the Moderna vaccine trial had a 20% serious injury rate in the high dose group? Learn about this and much more in this revealing article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
With the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating the most vulnerable people’s financial struggles, the Spanish government has decided to implement what it’s calling a national minimum income, ensuring that people in the nation’s 850,000 lowest-income households receive at least roughly $500 a month in income. The plan aims to reach 2.3 million people and is expected to cost the government about €3 billion a year. Spain’s government first floated the idea of a version of a universal basic income back in December ... in a deal that the country’s Socialist Party and left-wing Unidas Podemos agreed on to create “a general mechanism to guarantee earnings for families with no or low income.” The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated that plan. People between 23 and 65 years old with “assets of less than 16,614 euros,” not including house and discounted loans, will be eligible for the basic income plan, according to Reuters, and will include incentives for finding “a formal job”. Though the minimum amount the government is guaranteeing is €462 a month, that amount will increase with the number of family members. A family is defined as “vulnerable” and eligible for the plan if its monthly income is €10 or more below the minimum income. At the point, the government will give them enough cash to meet the thresholds. Spain has a “considerable” gap between its richest and poorest, with the top 20% of the population earning nearly seven times as much as the bottom 20%.
Liam Elkind's big heart and his break from college was a highlight of 83-year-old Carol Sterling's week. The retired arts administrator has been sheltering at home during the coronavirus outbreak, unable to shop for herself. Yearning for some fresh food, she found the 20-year-old through their synagogue, and soon he showed up at her door with a bag full of salad fixings and oranges. Elkind, a junior at Yale, and a friend, Simone Policano, amassed 1,300 volunteers in 72 hours to deliver groceries and medicine to older New Yorkers and other vulnerable people. They call themselves Invisible Hands, and they do something else in the process — provide human contact and comfort, at a safe distance, of course. Elkind and his fellow volunteers take the name of their project from their vigilance in maintaining social distance from the people they serve, and their meticulous care while shopping and delivering. Grocery and pharmacy orders are placed on the Invisible Hands website. “It's gone from extremely casual to extremely operational very quickly,” Elkind said. “This is one of those times when I remember that New York is such a small town, and people are willing to look out for one another and have each other's back.” Now, Elkind said, volunteers have offered to extend Invisible Hands to Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and London. “It's been really exciting just to see that amount of interest and how many people there are in this world who want to do good and are looking for ways to do that," he said.
As scientists specializing in ecology and the environment, we’re studying how milk – an essential yet suffering industry – has been affected by COVID-19. We have documented one solution to the milk distribution crisis: innovative small farmers of New Jersey. Dairy producers are dumping thousands of gallons of milk every day. In Wisconsin, 50% of the state’s dairy products have nowhere to go while typical buyers such as schools and restaurants remain shut down and unable to purchase milk and cheese. In Pennsylvania, where schools buy up to 40% of dairy sales by volume, the pandemic has beleaguered an already-stressed industry that lost 470 farms in 2019. In New Jersey, farms are the fourth-smallest in the United States, averaging 76 acres. The Garden State’s dairy sector is particularly small, comprising only 50 farms and ranking 44th of 50 states in total milk production. But despite their small operations, we see New Jersey’s local entrepreneurial farmers as models of a game-changing strategy. Rather than selling their milk to large dairy processing companies, these vertically structured local farms raise cows, process milk and other foods and sell them directly to consumers at farm-operated markets and restaurants. Unsold items return to farms as feed or fertilizer. This system is highly efficient, even during the current pandemic, because farmers and their customers represent the entire supply chain. These farmers don’t operate alone. They band together in cooperatives, sharing resources for the benefit of all.
The world economy is expected to contract by 5.2 percent this year - the worst recession in 80 years - but the sheer number of countries suffering economic losses means the scale of the downturn is worse than any recession in 150 years, the World Bank said in its latest Global Economic Prospects report. The depth of the crisis will drive 70 to 100 [million] people into extreme poverty - worse than the prior estimate of 60 million. Economists have been struggling to measure the impact of the crisis they have likened to a global natural disaster, but the sheer size of the impact across so many sectors and countries has made it hard to calculate, and made predictions about any recovery highly uncertain. Under the worst-case scenario, the global recession could mean a contraction of eight percent, according to the report. There remain some "exceptionally high" risks to the outlook, particularly if the current outbreaks linger or rebound, causing authorities to re-impose restrictions that could make the downturn as bad as eight percent. "Disruptions to activity would weaken businesses' ability to remain in operation and service their debt," the report cautioned. That, in turn, could raise interest rates for higher-risk borrowers and, "With debt levels already at historic highs, this could lead to cascading defaults and financial crises across many economies." But even if the 4.2 percent global recovery projected for 2021 materializes, "In many countries, deep recessions triggered by COVID-19 will likely weigh on potential output for years to come."
Note: What this article fails to mention is that it is not the pandemic that is driving all this, but rather the questionable lockdown policies developed to address the pandemic. Sweden, which has never instituted a lockdown, did not spiral out of control and has been less impacted economically. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
The authors of a British-Norwegian vaccine study - accepted by the Quarterly Review of Biophysics - claim that the coronavirus's spike protein contains sequences that appear to be artificially inserted. In their paper, the Norwegian scientist Birger Sřrensen and British oncologist Angus Dalgleish claim to have identified "inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 spike surface" that explains how the virus interacts with cells in the human body. The report’s authors also claim the lack of mutation in the virus since its discovery, suggests it was already fully adapted to humans. Sřrensen ... claimed that China and the United States have collaborated for many years on coronavirus research through "gain of function" studies, in which the pathogenicity or transmissibility of potential pandemic pathogens can be enhanced.
Note: One day after being published, this article was greatly changed and given the new title "Controversial Coronavirus Lab Origin Claims Dismissed By Experts." A paragraph at the top of the article now states, "This article has been substantially updated to reflect criticism of the published study, along with the general scientific consensus on Covid-19." Since when is an article changed because is it criticized or not in line with scientific consensus? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
A former head of MI6 has said he believes the coronavirus pandemic "started as an accident" when the virus escaped from a laboratory in China. Sir Richard Dearlove ... pointed to a scientific paper published this week by a Norwegian-British research team who claim to have discovered clues within Covid-19's genetic sequence suggesting key elements were "inserted" and may not have evolved naturally. In their paper, the scientists claim to have identified "inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface" that explain how the virus binds itself to human cells. "The SARS-CoV-2 spike is significantly different from any other Sars that we have studied," the paper says. Two laboratories in Wuhan studying bat coronaviruses – the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control – have been suggested as the possible true sources of the outbreak. Sir Richard suggested scientists may have been conducting secret gene-splicing experiments on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 somehow escaped. Sir Richard said he did not believe the Chinese had released the virus deliberately, but accused Beijing of subsequently covering up the scale of its spread. Last month, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, claimed there was "enormous evidence" that the coronavirus outbreak originated in a Chinese laboratory, but did not provide any proof. However, the US National Intelligence Director's office later said it had determined that Covid-19 "was not manmade".
The coronavirus pandemic has inspired a grassroots movement that is connecting people who need help with donors who can offer financial assistance. So far, contributors have passed $13 million through more than 100,000 matches. Shelly Tygielski came up with the idea that she named Pandemic of Love. The mindfulness teacher in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was looking for simple ways people in her community could take care of each other. "I posted the original video and the two links to signup forms on my social media feeds on March 14 and woke up the next morning and there were already 400 requests to get help and 500 to give help," Tygielski said. Tygielski shares her Pandemic of Love organization model with volunteers in other cities. These volunteers build teams to match applicants in their community and reach out to other communities when they need assistance. Maurico Martinez ... filled out the form to get help and received a text from an unknown number from California. "I got a text message from a lady named Simone in San Francisco, and she was willing to help me out, and 'what did I need, groceries, gasoline?' and could she send me some money?" Martinez told CNN. "She sent me a couple hundred dollars and I was so thankful and I wanted to pay her back. She said, 'No, this was Pandemic of Love,' and so then we started talking," Martinez recalled. "We started becoming friends ... and it was wonderful."
Fear of catching coronavirus on public transport has helped lead to a boom in cycle-to-work schemes. The schemes saw a 200% increase in bicycle orders from people working for emergency services. Demand for more mobility and exercise amid lifestyle changes imposed by the lockdown has also boosted bike sales across the UK. Some bike stores are battling to meet demand. Broadribb Cycles in Bicester normally despatches 20-30 bikes a week, but manager Stuart Taylor says the shop is currently selling 50 bikes every day. Rusty cyclists may be nervous on busy roads, so the pressure group Cycling UK has commissioned research showing how 100 "pop-up" lanes in 10 English cities could make cycling and walking easier. It maps UK cities which have created extra cycle lines during the crisis, in many cases taking over one car lane on a dual carriageway. The Cycling UK research from Leeds looks at English cities with a high cycling potential and has identified 99.2 miles of streets and roads ... which could benefit from temporary walking and cycling infrastructure. Cities round the world have been freeing space for people on foot and bikes, in response to the coronavirus lockdown. In Germany, expanded cycle lanes have been marked by removable tape and mobile signs. Paris is rolling out 650 kilometres of cycleways, including a number of pop-up "corona cycleways". Some cities, like Milan, are making the changes permanent.
It’s an issue that’s been argued about for months: Can people who don’t feel sick spread the coronavirus, and if so should we all be wearing masks to stop it? Even the [WHO] can’t seem to get it straight. On Tuesday the U.N. health agency scrambled to explain seemingly contradictory comments it has made in recent days. On Friday, WHO changed its mask advice, recommending that people wear fabric masks if they could not maintain social distancing, if they were over age 60 or had underlying medical conditions. Part of the reasoning, WHO officials said, was to account for the possibility that transmission could occur from people who had the disease but weren’t yet symptomatic. But when Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 was asked about the frequency of this kind of transmission this week, she said “It still appears to be rare that asymptomatic individuals actually transmit onward.” The details on how well the coronavirus spreads in different circumstances is not well understood. Can people who don't feel sick spread the disease? We don’t know. WHO has maintained for months that the vast majority of COVID-19 spread is from people with symptoms like a fever or cough, and that transmission from people who don’t feel sick is not thought to be a major driver of the disease. Does wearing a mask help? Probably. Why don't we know for sure? It’s complicated. Truly asymptomatic people are likely not responsible for significant virus spread. Detailed studies ... are needed. Although numerous studies have suggested people can spread the virus before they show symptoms, WHO has largely dismissed those as anecdotal or pointed out that they were based on modelling.
Note: A Jan. 31st CNN article quotes Fauci as saying "There's no doubt after reading this paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring." Yet it turns out the paper he referenced was based on only five people and made the faulty assumption that the woman in question was asypmtomatic. Why would Fauci jump to this conclusion so early on from one tiny sample? What was his agenda? And this ABC News article states the accuracy of many coronavirus tests is still unknown. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
A new scientific analysis of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has argued that scientists should not rule out the possibility that the virus originated in a laboratory setting. The new study ... was published on the site bioRxiv hosted by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Our observations suggest that by the time SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in late 2019, it was already pre-adapted to human transmission to an extent similar to late epidemic SARS-CoV. However, no precursors or branches of evolution stemming from a less human-adapted SARS-CoV-2-like virus have been detected," the authors of the study explained in the abstract. The analysis explains that there is still no clear evidence to point to a precise origin of the virus. Based on the genetic makeup and samples of the virus, it remains unclear whether SARS-CoV-2 adapted inside an intermediary animal host, within a human, or in a laboratory setting. It could have potentially jumped from species to species within a lab. In conclusion, the study cautions that various possibilities for how the outbreak began in humans "means that we need to take precautions against each scenario to prevent re-emergence." As Newsweek reported on April 27, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency updated an assessment of the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic to suggest that it could have accidentally leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Apple and Google on Wednesday released long-awaited smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. The companies said 22 countries and several U.S. states are already planning to build voluntary phone apps using their software. It relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. Many governments have already tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to roll out their own phone apps to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those apps have encountered technical problems on Apple and Android phones and haven’t been widely adopted. They often use GPS to track people’s location, which Apple and Google are banning from their new tool because of privacy and accuracy concerns. Public health agencies from Germany to the states of Alabama and South Carolina have been waiting to use the Apple-Google model, while other governments have said the tech giants’ privacy restrictions will be a hindrance because public health workers will have no access to the data. The companies said they’re not trying to replace contact tracing, a pillar of infection control that involves trained public health workers reaching out to people who may have been exposed to an infected person. But they said their automatic “exposure notification” system can augment that process and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Note: Watch an excellent video explanation of the dangers of contract tracing by a woman who applied to do this work. She shows how the claims of it being voluntary are far from the truth. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
The World Health Organization is recommending healthy people, including those who don’t exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, only wear masks when taking care of someone infected with the contagion, a sharp contrast from the advice given by American public health officials who recommend everyone wear a mask in public. “If you do not have any [respiratory] symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask,” Dr. April Baller, a public health specialist for the WHO, says. “Masks should only be used by health care workers, caretakers or by people who are sick with symptoms of fever and cough.” The recommendation differs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which urges individuals to wear a mask or face covering in public settings, regardless of infection, to limit the spread of the virus. “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms,” the CDC mask guidance says. “In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Baller noted that masks can give people a “false feeling of protection” and noted that sick individuals should wear one to prevent transmitting the virus to others.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced the end of his state of emergency declaration for the novel coronavirus pandemic, with just 851 deaths reported and without ever implementing a lockdown. Abe cautioned that lifting the order did not mean that the novel virus was gone from Japan. "Our battle against the virus will continue," he said. As of Monday, the East Asian nation had reported 16,628 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Of those infected, 13,612 have already recovered and 851 have died. Tokyo, the nation's capital with 14 million residents, was the hardest-hit part of the country, with more than 5,100 cases. On Monday, the city reported just eight new infections. While Japan never implemented stringent lockdowns like those in parts of China, many European countries and the U.S., it barred foreigner travelers who had recently visited many hard-hit countries and urged residents to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Restaurants and shops were also required to close earlier than normal. Karaoke bars, live music venues and gyms were shuttered and will remain closed in the coming weeks. Public health officials in Japan have warned the population to wear masks in public and continue to work from home if possible. Abe has faced criticism for taking little action to curb the virus' spread as many other nations implemented stringent lockdowns. "Just by looking at death numbers, you can say Japan was successful," Mikihito Tanaka, a professor at Waseda University ... told Bloomberg.
Note: How is it that Japan, China's immediate neighbor, had far lower coronavirus cases and deaths without a lockdown than most other countries which locked down? And Sweden, which also had no lockdown, is doing considerably better than it's European neighbors France, Belgium, and the UK. And why isn't this being widely reported? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The facts are this: COVID-19 is a real disease that sickens some, proves fatal to others, mostly the elderly — and does nothing to the vast majority. That, in a nutshell, is it. The response to the coronavirus is hyped. And in time, this hype will be revealed as politically hoaxed. Or, in the words of Dan Erickson and Artin Massih, doctors and co-owners of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California: Let’s get the country reopened. “Do we need to still shelter in place? Do we need businesses to be shut down? Our answer is emphatically no" ... Erickson said. The scientists leading the coronavirus shutdown charge [based their] estimates on computer modeling. But at the same time ... they were acknowledging that computer modeling is inaccurate and errs on the side of hype. But from these faulty overinflated computer figures came all the constitutionally questionable actions by government — from ordering businesses closed to quarantining-slash-house arresting American citizens to doing some quick and pitiful and economically painful income redistribution schemes via stimulus funds’ legislation. This virus was far more contagious than anything ever before seen or studied, Americans were told. And any time the case counts dropped off and the numbers proved wrong, well, this was due to the social distancing and quarantining and face-mask wearing that Americans had been doing — Americans were told. “When I’m writing up my death report I’m being pressured to add COVID. Why is that? If you’re going to dance on someone’s constitutional rights, you better have a good reason — you better have a really good reason, not just a theory,” Erickson said.
Note: We don't consider the Washington Times to be a highly reliable source, but occasionally they report on key matters that other media fail to report, as is the case with this one. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Twice in the last week, Pennsylvania’s official COVID-19 death count spiked. Then, on Thursday, the number plummeted. The state Department of Health provided several justifications for the fluctuations, citing technical issues, lengthy investigations, and the addition of “probable” deaths. Facing mounting questions about the accuracy of the count, officials on Thursday removed more than 200 probable deaths from the tally. Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the change was made in an effort to be transparent. The state’s coroners – tasked with investigating suspicious deaths – have grown increasingly frustrated by the Health Department’s reluctance to seek their help. “There’s a discrepancy in the numbers,” Charles E. Kiessling Jr., president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association ... said Thursday. The confusion began Sunday, when Pennsylvania raised its coronavirus death toll to 1,112 – an increase of 276 overnight. On Tuesday, the department reported another spike, from 1,204 to 1,564 deaths.The jump that day, first blamed on a computer glitch, was explained as a “reconciliation” of multiple reporting systems.” Levine also said the “significant increase” included “probable positive” COVID-19 deaths. “We will now be reporting probable deaths related to COVID-19 in addition to confirmed deaths,” she said. Jeffrey Conner, the coroner in Franklin County, said he was blindsided by the department’s news on Tuesday that 10 people had died of COVID-19 in the county. As of Wednesday afternoon, he said, he was aware of only one death. On Thursday, the state’s revised data reported just one death for the county.
Spit into a cup when you land in an airport, and your DNA is stored. Every phone in every city talks to every other nearby device. Cross-border travel is enabled only by governments sharing data about millions of private movements. These are all possible visions of a future that the coronavirus pandemic has rushed on us. But a lurch into an even more intense era of mass data-collection - the vast hoovering up of who went near whom and when, who is healthy to travel, and even scraps of personal DNA languishing in databases - appears to be on the verge of becoming the new reality. It took the attacks of September 11, 2001 to shove aside the previous decade's phobia of mass surveillance ... in exchange for keeping us safe from terror. Over the next 15 years, billions of people agreed to a tacit deal where Facebook or Google were permitted to learn a staggering amount about them. But the challenge presented by Covid-19 - and the urgent need to trace contacts and movements - is of another scale of intimacy. South Korea located over 10,000 cellphones near the latest outbreak and texted them. The UK government has toyed with a centralized database of movements and health records, secured by government cyber-spies, able potentially to see who has been sick and who they have been near. Russia and many others have issued QR codes. China is putting surveillance cameras right outside people's doors. Will we look back at 2020 as the moment privacy finally evaporated?
We have detonated the global economy to pursue a lockdown experiment that may not have worked, according to the latest evidence. World-class studies that suggest lockdown did not alter the pandemic’s course are mysteriously vanishing into internet obscurity on first contact with the official narrative. This is a scandal so overwhelming that there is only one good place to start: the evidence as it stands. In accordance with pro-lockdown theory, if stay at home orders worked, you might have expected to see daily deaths spike 3-4 weeks after such measures were implemented. But, in Britain, infections may have peaked a week before lockdown, according to Prof Carl Heneghan of Oxford University, with daily deaths in hospitals plateauing a fortnight after it was introduced. We are not an anomaly: peak dates across Europe also seem to confound the official theory. Don’t just take my word for it. A University of the East Anglia study posits that Europe's “stay-at-home policies” were not effective. A JP Morgan investigation suggests the virus “likely has its own dynamics” which are “unrelated to often inconsistent lockdown measures”. Nobel prize-winning bio-physicist Michael Levitt ... has claimed, sensationally, that the modelling that justified lockdown made the fatally incorrect assumption that Covid-19’s spread is continuously exponential. In fact, his research has found an uncanny pattern across numerous countries whereby the virus grows exponentially for two weeks, before slowing seemingly irrespective of ... social distancing measures.
China has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus, according to a central government directive and online notices published by two Chinese universities, that have since been removed from the web. Under the new policy, all academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to extra vetting before being submitted for publication. Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials. Since late January, Chinese researchers have published a series of Covid-19 studies in influential international medical journals. Some findings about early coronavirus cases - such as when human-to-human transition first appeared - have raised questions over the official government account of the outbreak and sparked controversy on Chinese social media. And now, Chinese authorities appear to be tightening their grip on the publication of Covid-19 research. A Chinese researcher who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation said the move was a worrying development that would likely obstruct important scientific research. "I think it is a coordinated effort from (the) Chinese government to control (the) narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China," the researcher told CNN. Last month, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, promoted a conspiracy on Twitter that the virus had originated in the US and was brought to China by the US military.
Last week, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced that Bill Gates would be responsible for “reimagining” New York’s education system. Cuomo also asked former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to lead a panel planning New York’s post-Covid tech infrastructure. As Naomi Klein writes, the appointments of Schmidt and Gates represent a “Pandemic Shock Doctrine ... that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up [and] treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent – and highly profitable – no-touch future”. Schmidt’s vision of the future is ... mass surveillance plus public investment in companies in which he has a stake. Even if Schmidt and Gates had good policies, Cuomo’s knighting of them is offensive to American self-government. Nobody voted for them and they are accountable to no one. Cuomo ... is simply allowing billionaires to plan our future directly, taking out the middlemen. Cuomo anointed these tsars at the exact same time that he took vast new powers away from the state legislature, which has not been holding regular legislative hearings since 1 April. Coronavirus has created a constitutional crisis of sorts, one where the rules of representation, power and decision-making are up for grabs. Monopolists are seizing power and market share for themselves, setting themselves up as the arbiters of our collective futures.
Note: For more, see this revealing article by Naomi Klein in the Intercept. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
About 1 in 5 adults in England believe the coronavirus is to some extent a hoax, according to research on conspiracy theories by the University of Oxford. In addition, researchers found nearly 3 out of 5 adults in England believe the government is misleading them to some extent about the cause of the virus, and nearly 1 in 10 strongly agree that China developed the coronavirus to destroy the West. The research was based on surveys of 2,500 adults earlier this month and published in the journal, Psychological Medicine. Lead researcher and psychology professor Daniel Freeman said the pandemic has the necessary ingredients to fuel conspiracy theories, including sustained threat and enforced change. He added that those who believe conspiracy theories are less likely to follow government guidance. "Those who believe in conspiracy theories also say that they are less likely to accept a vaccination, take a diagnostic test or wear a face mask," Freeman said. "In the wake of the epidemic, mistrust looks to have become mainstream." In the United Kingdom ... more than 100 cellphone towers have been burned amid unfounded conspiracy theories that the new mobile technology known as fifth generation either spreads the virus or the lockdown is a cover for rolling out 5G.
Note: Just because someone claims a conspiracy doesn't mean there is not truth to it. Though informative, this article is quite dismissive of those who question the official story of the coronavirus. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The chief scientist brought on to lead the Trump administration’s vaccine efforts has spent the last several days trying to disentangle pieces of his stock portfolio and his intricate ties to big pharmaceutical interests. The scientist, Moncef Slaoui, is a venture capitalist and a former longtime executive at GlaxoSmithKline. Most recently, he sat on the board of Moderna, a Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology firm with a $30 billion valuation that is pursuing a coronavirus vaccine. He resigned when President Trump named him last Thursday to the new post as chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the federal drive for coronavirus vaccines and treatments. Just days into his job, the extent of Dr. Slaoui’s financial interests in drug companies has begun to emerge: The value of his stock holdings in Moderna jumped nearly $2.4 million, to $12.4 million when the company released preliminary, partial data from an early phase of its candidate vaccine trial. Dr. Slaoui did not come on board as a government employee. Instead, he is on a contract ... that leaves him exempt from federal disclosure rules that would require him to list his outside positions, stock holdings and other potential conflicts. And the contract position is not subject to the same conflict-of-interest laws and regulations that executive branch employees must follow. Dr. Slaoui ... is not the first Trump administration official with close relationships to drug and health care companies. Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, is a former Eli Lilly executive.
Note: If the above link fails, this article is also available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in Big Pharma from reliable major media sources.
A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, Census Bureau data shows, the most definitive and alarming sign yet of the psychological toll exacted by the coronavirus pandemic. When asked questions normally used to screen patients for mental health problems, 24 percent showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30 percent showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The findings suggest a huge jump from before the pandemic. For example, on one question about depressed mood, the percentage reporting such symptoms was double that found in a 2014 national survey. The troubling statistics were released last week in a tranche of data from the Census Bureau. The agency launched an emergency weekly survey of U.S. households at the end of April to measure the pandemic’s effects on employment, housing, finances, education and health. In the most recent data release, 1 million households were contacted between May 7 and 12, and more than 42,000 responded. Buried within that 20-minute survey, U.S. officials included four questions taken nearly word-for-word from a form used by doctors to screen patients for depression and anxiety. Those answers provide a real-time window into the country’s collective mental health after three months of fear, isolation, soaring unemployment and continuing uncertainty. Those results reflect a deepening of existing trends: rising depression, stress and suicide among young adults.
Note: Read also a Washington Post article titled "A massive wave of evictions is coming." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and health from reliable major media sources.
Indonesia's Government has rolled out what it calls rice ATMs across Jakarta to assist the needy, as the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on South-East Asia's largest economy. Authorities have so far rolled out 10 machines across greater Jakarta — home to more than 30 million people — to dispense 1.5 kilograms of rice to the poor, as millions have found themselves out of work due to coronavirus social distancing measures. Jakarta resident Agus, who goes by one name, lost his job as a labourer in early March. It is estimated up to 70 per cent of Indonesia's labour force works informally, meaning the impact of enforced business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders have been particularly severe. Agus and his family are one of hundreds who have already registered for rice assistance in his district — a requirement to be eligible to access the rice ATM. Officials say the machines can distribute up to 1.5 tonnes of rice per day to 1,000 people. Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture said that the rice ATMs will operate for at least the next two months and Agus hopes that the government will consider extending the program. "There's no guarantee that me and other people will get a job next month, of course, it'd be better if we can keep the assistance until we earn money again," he said. "The free rice has greatly helped my family to reduce our monthly spending." A rice ATM has also reportedly been installed at Diponegoro University in the city of Semarang, allowing hungry students to access 2kg of rice per week.
Although the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow globally, there are places that have managed to successfully control COVID-19. Perhaps the greatest success story is New Zealand, which has stopped local transmission and has a plan to completely eliminate the virus from its territory. "The lesson is that it can be done," says Siouxsie Wiles. Wiles heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland. Much of her work focuses on antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases. When the coronavirus hit, she got involved in communication efforts in New Zealand to help explain the virus, including by using a popular cartoon. But it wasn't just scientists who led the charge. Wiles — and many other New Zealanders — give much of the credit for their country's success to the swift and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Wiles ... says that the prime minister did something quite interesting, "which was that unlike many other countries, she never put us on a war footing." So Ardern's speeches weren't about attacking an invisible enemy — as many world leaders would say. Instead she called on New Zealanders to confront this crisis by protecting their fellow citizens. "She talked over and over about us being a team of 5 million and that we all do our part to break these chains of transmission and to eliminate the virus," Wiles says. "I think that has been one of the really crucial things — everybody ... behaving for the good of everybody."
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the future of the Cannard Family Farm—whose organic vegetables supplied a single Berkeley restaurant—was looking stark. Bob Cannard built his 30-year career by rejecting organic certification in favor of his own “better than organic” breed of “natural process agriculture,” enriching the soil on his Green String Farm with crushed rock and compost. He and his son have long sold the fruits of their labor to the famous restaurant Chez Panisse. But in March, the stay-at-home order hit, and the restaurant closed. [Chef Alice] Waters was worried about the vulnerable situation her workers and producers were finding themselves in. She rushed to establish a subscription CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, offering weekly food boxes that could be picked up at the shuttered restaurant, filled with goodies from her regular producers like Cannard. “I’m trying to connect our network with the people who would like to have that food in their home,” she said. “Farmers are always in an uphill battle, especially ecological farmers,” says Wiig of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. “We’ve been able to keep farm markets open as essential businesses, but crowds have decreased with people afraid to go out, and sales are down.” Community Alliance was quick to jump in, becoming a “matchmaker” for producers and buyers on its website. They’re also providing all kinds of information for farmers about how to start and run a CSA.
Spot is focused on the asphalt path ahead, where a few joggers and bicyclists are out for some socially distanced sunshine. A cyclist in a brimmed hat rides past. Spot pipes up, not with a bark, but with a recorded message. “Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” comes a woman’s voice, polite but firm. “For your own safety, and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.” Spot [is] an agile, four-legged, arrestingly doglike robot that Singapore has deployed to help enforce distancing measures during the second month of a partial coronavirus lockdown. Developed by Boston Dynamics of Waltham, Mass., Spot is one of the world’s most advanced commercial robots, last seen opening doors, hauling a truck or dancing to Bruno Mars in a slate of mesmerizing promotional videos. Its two-week pilot in a park here is seen as a test of how machines and artificial intelligence could help reduce human contact in public spaces. Singapore officials said the goal of using Spot was “reducing the manpower required for park patrols and minimizing physical contact among staff, volunteer safe distancing ambassadors and park visitors.” Cameras installed on its body will help estimate the number of visitors in the park, but officials said they cannot recognize individuals. If the trial is successful, officials said they would consider deploying Spot ... at other parks. A second Spot robot has also been in use since last month to deliver medicines at an isolation facility housing thousands of COVID-19 patients.
Note: Click on the link above to see this robotic canine. Robot policing raises some serious concerns. CNBC has an article claiming as a result of the virus, we need social robots, robot avatars, and more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Public health officials in some states are accused of bungling coronavirus infection statistics or even using a little sleight of hand to deliberately make things look better than they are. In Virginia, Texas and Vermont, for example, officials said they have been combining the results of viral tests, which show an active infection, with antibody tests, which show a past infection. Public health experts say that can make for impressive-looking testing totals but does not give a true picture of how the virus is spreading. In Florida, the data scientist who developed the state’s coronavirus dashboard, Rebekah Jones, said this week that she was fired for refusing to manipulate data “to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” In Georgia, one of the earliest states to ease up on lockdowns and assure the public it was safe to go out again, the Department of Public Health published a graph around May 11 that showed new COVID-19 cases declining over time in the most severely affected counties. The daily entries, however, were not arranged in chronological order but in descending order. Georgia's Department of Public Health also regularly publishes a graph that shows cases over time, except new infections are not listed on the day they came back positive, which is the practice in many other states. Instead, Georgia lists new cases on the day the patient first reported symptoms. That practice can shift the timeline of the outbreak and make it appear as if the state is moving past the peak.
Note: It's quite interesting to note that they made no mention of fudging the figures to make things look worse than they are, like doctors being instructed to list cause of death as COVID-19 even when they aren't certain. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The federal government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show. The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.” “Between 2005 and 2014, VA police departments acquired millions of dollars’ worth of body armor, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and other weapons and tactical gear,” The Intercept reported last year. But an Inspector General report in December 2018 found there was little oversight. The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus legislation passed in late March, also authorized $850 million for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, a federal grant program to prepare law enforcement, correctional officers, and police for the crisis. The funds have been dispensed to local governments to pay for overtime costs, purchase protective supplies, and defray expenses related to emergency policing. The grants may also be used for the purchase of unmanned aerial aircraft and video security cameras for law enforcement. Motorola Solutions, a major supplier of police technology, has encouraged local governments to use the new money to buy a range of command center software and video analytics systems.
Fourteen years ago, two federal government doctors, Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, met with a colleague at a burger joint in suburban Washington for a final review of a proposal they knew would be treated like a pińata: telling Americans to stay home from work and school the next time the country was hit by a deadly pandemic. How that idea — born out of a request by President George W. Bush to ensure the nation was better prepared for the next contagious disease outbreak — became the heart of the national playbook for responding to a pandemic is one of the untold stories of the coronavirus crisis. “A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire,” Mr. Bush said in a speech at the National Institutes of Health. “If caught early it might be extinguished with limited damage.” To develop ideas, the Bush administration enlisted Dr. Hatchett, who had served as a White House biodefense policy adviser, and Dr. Mecher, who was a Veterans Affairs medical officer. Dr. Mecher heard from Robert J. Glass, a senior scientist at Sandia. “Targeted social distancing strategies can be designed to effectively mitigate the local progression of pandemic influenza without the use of vaccine or antiviral drugs,” concluded a study that Dr. Glass published. The administration ultimately sided with the proponents of social distancing. Then the coronavirus came, and the plan was put to work across the country for the first time. Dr. Markel called it “very gratifying to see our work used to help save lives.” But, he added, “it is also horrifying.”
Note: Read an excellent essay revealing serious questions about the formation of this policy. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Big Tech companies are aggressively tamping down on COVID-19 “misinformation” — opinions and ideas contrary to official pronouncements. Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski, former head of biostatistics, epidemiology and research design at Rockefeller University, says YouTube removed a video of him talking about the virus that had racked up more than 1.3 million views. Wittkowski, 65, is a ferocious critic of the nation’s current steps to fight the coronavirus. He has derided social distancing, saying it only prolongs the virus’ existence, and has attacked the current lockdown as mostly unnecessary. Wittkowski, who holds two doctorates in computer science and medical biometry, believes the coronavirus should be allowed to create “herd immunity,” and that short of a vaccine, the pandemic will only end after it has sufficiently spread through the population. “I was just explaining what we had,” Wittkowski told The Post of the video, saying he had no idea why it was removed. “They don’t tell you. They just say it violates our community standards. There’s no explanation for what those standards are or what standards it violated.” In articles and interviews across the web, he has likened COVID-19 to a “bad flu.” That likely made him a target for YouTube. “Anything that goes against [World Health Organization] recommendations would be a violation of our policy,” CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN.
President Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of a malaria drug that he now says he takes daily — and the resulting uproar in the news media — appears to be interfering with legitimate scientific research into whether the medicine might work to prevent coronavirus infection or treat the disease. The drug, hydroxychloroquine ... is also widely used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases. But specialists — including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert — say the jury is still out. Mr. Trump’s frequent pronouncements and misstatements — he has praised the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle” — are only complicating matters. Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Dr. Fauci leads, announced a 2,000-patient study to determine whether hydroxychloroquine, when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, “can prevent hospitalization and death from Covid-19,” joining more than 50 other clinical trials that are continuing in the United States. Researchers around the country said the controversy was depressing enrollment in their clinical trials. The president’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro ... said “hydroxy hysteria” in the news media — not Mr. Trump — was to blame. “Has the media’s war of hysteria on hydroxychloroquine killed people?” Mr. Navarro asked in an interview. “If the scientific evidence does indeed prove that the medicine has both prophylactic and therapeutic value, the answer is yes.”
Note: In a survey reported in this New York Post article, over 2,000 physicians were asked which drug was most effective in treating the coronavirus. Hydroxychloroquine was chosen by the greatest number of those surveyed (37%). Remember that chlorequine has already been proven safe for other illnesses and is very cheap as the patent expired. So big Pharma, who are huge sponsors of the media, don't like this drug. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption and the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The uncertainty surrounding coronavirus has been a huge source of anxiety throughout this pandemic, as scientists have struggled to uncover not just a treatment for the disease, but also basic facts about its existence. Though many have been concerned about infection through items like groceries or mail deliveries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently issued updated guidance saying that coronavirus “does not spread easily” from touching surfaces or objects. “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the CDC says. “This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.” The CDC still notes, however, that the virus spreads 'very easily and sustainably’ from person to person. As precautions against infection, the organization continues to recommend that people wash their hands often with soap and water and maintain six feet of social distance from others. Despite the update regarding transmission through objects, it still says that Americans should routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is ... directing residents to stay home to avoid a larger outbreak of the coronavirus. Authorities have charged at least two people in recent days with violating bans on public gatherings of more than 10 people – an offense that could result in a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. Hogan says arrest for coronavirus offense sends 'great message.' The governor’s declaration mirrors a struggle across the country to enforce a patchwork of new stay-at-home orders, social-distancing directives and quarantines. Some people have found themselves under arrest for violating coronavirus regulations. In Hawaii, violators of the stay-at-home order face some of the stiffest penalties on the books to date: fines of up to $5,000 and a year in jail. Police in Honolulu have issued dozens of citations and made at least two arrests. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has [called] for visitors from heavily-infected states and cities to self-isolate for 14 days or risk 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. [In Florida] checkpoints have been set up on interstate highways. Violators could be fined up to $500, jailed up to 60 days, or both. Washington State ... residents are invited to complete online forms detailing suspected violations by local businesses operating when they should be closed. The state threatens violators with citations, suspension notices, revoked business licenses – even criminal charges. Some states that order out-of-staters to quarantine themselves for 14 days have drawn complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union for violating travelers' rights.
Note: Meanwhile in Sweden with no lockdown policies, no one is being arrested and the country has not spiraled out of control as predicted. Is it worth saving thousand of lives with these severe policies at the cost of hundreds of millions being plunged into poverty worldwide? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The growing gap between America’s rich and everyone else is hardly new. But the extra-ordinarily rapid economic collapse catalyzed by COVID-19 has made the chasm deeper and wider. Since mid-March, more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment. Meanwhile, after a steep but brief dip in March, the stock market rallied. The richest and most well–connected are seeing their wealth reaccumulate, as if by magic, while middle- and working–class families drown in debt that deepens with every passing week. The contrast isn’t just between low-wage workers and billionaire bosses. Bills are mounting for small restaurants and retailers as their applications for the federal Paycheck Protection Program go unanswered. Small retailers closed to comply with social–distancing orders while e-commerce sales, especially from the biggest online platforms, have spiked. Assistance is most readily available to those with lawyers and lobbyists on the payroll. It’s not an exaggeration to say that inequality has the potential to undermine democratic society and threaten global stability. Only about 1 in 4 adults in lower-income households say they have enough money to cover expenses for three months in the case of an emergency. The majority of people laid off are working–class and disproportionately women and people of color. One lost job or missed rent payment threatens to tip them into an economic abyss. More businesses will fail, creating more unemployment and further diminishing consumer demand. About 12.7 million Americans have likely lost employer–provided health insurance since the pandemic began. The richest are steadily climbing ever higher while workers without stable jobs, incomes or savings are sent plummeting downward.
Note: Note that the financial ruin is not caused by the virus, but by the severe lockdown policies being implemented. These policies have no scientific basis. Meanwhile in Sweden with no lockdown policies, no one is being arrested, the country has not spiraled out of control as predicted, and the economy is fairing well. Is it worth saving thousand of lives with these severe policies at the cost of hundreds of millions being plunged into poverty worldwide? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
America’s billionaires saw their fortunes soar by $434 billion during the U.S. lockdown between mid-March and mid-May, according to a new report. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had the biggest gains, with Bezos adding $34.6 billion to his wealth and Zuckerberg adding $25 billion. The billionaire gains highlight how the coronavirus pandemic has rewarded the largest and most tech-focused companies, even as the economy and labor force grapples with the worst economic crisis in recent history. According to the report, the net worth of America’s billionaires grew 15% during the two-month period, to $3.382 trillion from $2.948 trillion. The biggest gains were at the top of the billionaire pyramid, with the richest five billionaires -- Bezos, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison -- seeing combined wealth gains of $76 billion. Elon Musk had among the largest percentage gain of billionaires during the two months, seeing his net worth jump by 48% in the two months to $36 billion. Zuckerberg was close behind, seeing his wealth surge by 46% in the two months, to $80 billion. Bezos’ wealth increased by 31% to $147 billion. Because the study timeline captures the stock market bottom and quick rebound, it creates a slightly sunnier picture for billionaires than the full year. For the year, Buffett’s wealth has declined by $20 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, while Gates is down by $4.3 billion. For the year, Jeff Bezos has gained $35.5 billion while Zuckerberg is up by $9 billion.
Sweden’s coronavirus choices are unique. The Scandinavian country is the only Western one not to impose a lockdown and will suffer less economic damage as a result. Sweden’s minority government relies on centre-left, centre-right and green parties to pass laws so there’s more political consensus around its pandemic policy than might be the case elsewhere. Public trust in the authorities meant guidelines on social distancing were largely followed without a lockdown. Sweden’s Covid-19 death rate, of around 322 deaths for every million people, is substantially below the UK, Italy and Spain, which imposed full lockdowns. Still, Sweden’s death toll is higher than its Nordic peers or Germany as a result of the trade-off to limit the economic damage. At least the bet paid off. Swedish GDP shrank 0.3% in the first quarter from the previous three months, less than a tenth of the pace at which the euro zone economy contracted. The generous welfare system makes it easy for Swedish workers to self-isolate without suffering financial hardship. Their country spends roughly a quarter of its GDP on social spending ... and compensates workers for the majority of wages if they are furloughed. This applies even to the self-employed. And given public debt amounted to only 35% of GDP in 2019, fiscal policy had plenty of room to help the economy. The government last month announced a 39 billion Swedish crown ($4 billion) scheme to reimburse up to three-quarters of businesses’ fixed costs, based on lost turnover.
Note: Read a balanced, informative New York Times article written by a Swede about her experience there. This graph shows that Sweden is doing well compared to other countries considering that they have not instituted a lockdown. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
What’s more devilishly un-American than launching one of the most massive government surveillance programs of private citizens in U.S. history, all under the guise of protecting people from the coronavirus? That’s the “COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act” in all its $100 billion grant giveaway glory. According to H.R. 6666’s text: The taxpayer funds will be used to “trace and monitor the contacts of infected individuals, and to support the quarantine of such contacts, through mobile health units and, as necessary ... at [citizens’] residences.” That means government comes to your home, taps on your door and demands you take a COVID-19 test. And if you test positive, that means the government makes sure you stay at home. The top dogs at the Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in control of disbursing the $100 billion to local governments to carry out the COVID-19 testing — more specifically, to “hire, train, compensate and pay the expenses of individuals” to staff mobile health units and to knock on citizens’ doors and to enforce compliance with quarantining. This is nothing but a massive government surveillance program cloaked in a cure-the-coronavirus label. A petition at Change.org to stop the nonsense has generated about 28,000 signatures. “HR 6666 violates inalienable rights to one’s person, home and property, to one’s life, freedoms, privacy and security,” the petition states.
Note: Why the huge price tag of $100 billion, which is more than the entire 2019 budget for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services? Explore this bill which greatly threatens privacy and civil rights on the website of the US Congress at this link. This excellent and well researched video leaves little doubt that some people will be taken from their homes and children taken from their mothers. For those concerned about being traced and quarantined, this article has good information on who is behind it all. Sign a petition opposing this bill on this webpage.
During New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the somber grimace that has filled our screens for weeks was briefly replaced by something resembling a smile. The inspiration ... was a video visit from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life. Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future. This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.
The FBI raised eyebrows on Tuesday when the agency announced that it would not be accepting electronic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. As the spread of the virus continues to disrupt normal functions of society like schools, restaurants and sporting events, not many could have predicted that the electronic requests for FBI documents would be affected. "Due to the emerging COVID-19 situation, the FBI is not accepting electronic Freedom of Information/Privacy Act requests or sending out electronic responses through the eFOIPA portal at this time. You may still submit a FOIPA request via standard mail. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding," a red-bolded disclaimer stated on the FBI website. The sudden halt of electronic FOIA requests sparked puzzled reactions on social media. "This is crazy but, then again, FBI and FOIA is a disastrous combo," BuzzFeed senior investigative Jason Leopold tweeted. "The FBI is responding to coronavirus by using it as an opportunity to kill off journalists who really want transparency." They would prefer to receive only those requests laden with all of our germs and whatnot?" Reuters reporter Brad Heath asked.
Note: You can verify this information on the FBI website at this link. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The Covid-19 pandemic is putting the deepening class divide in America into stark relief. Four new classes are emerging. The Remotes: These are professional, managerial, and technical workers – an estimated 35% of the workforce – who are putting in long hours at their laptops ... and collecting about the same pay as before the crisis. The Essentials: They’re about 30% of workers, including nurses, homecare and childcare workers, farm workers, food processors, truck drivers, warehouse and transit workers, drugstore employees, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, and the military. Too many Essentials lack adequate protective gear, paid sick leave, health insurance, and childcare. They also deserve hazard pay. The Unpaid: They’re an even larger group than the unemployed – whose ranks could soon reach 25%, the same as in the Great Depression. 43% of adults report they or someone in their household has lost jobs or pay. The unpaid most need cash to feed their families and pay the rent. Fewer than half say they have enough emergency funds to cover three months of expenses. The Forgotten: This group includes everyone ... packed tightly into places most Americans don’t see: prisons, jails for undocumented immigrants, camps for migrant farmworkers, Native American reservations, homeless shelters, and nursing homes. The Essentials, the Unpaid, and the Forgotten are disproportionately poor, black, and Latino and they are disproportionately becoming infected.
An administration advisory group just released a report recommending opening more public lands to uranium extraction. The steps recommended in a new report by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group, an industry-stacked panel the president created through an executive order in July 2019, look a lot like pre-determined conclusions. One of the most alarming should worry every Arizonan, and frankly every American: excluding uranium mines from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which gives Americans the chance to review and comment on major proposals that impact them. The report, if it’s implemented, paves the way for dangerous mining of the sort that even industry cheerleaders don’t suggest in public. The report spells it out in black and white when it recommends that federal regulators “consider categorical exclusions for uranium mineral exploration and development activities.” A categorical exclusion is offered only to individual projects determined to have no impact on the environment. The Trump administration wants to take advantage of widespread stay-at-home policies to weaken laws that protect us from unchecked pollution. These recommendations are another in a long line of industry giveaways being pushed under cover of pandemic without public scrutiny. The American people should reject this report. And as a credible new analysis from the Grand Canyon Trust shows us, even if we wanted to take the report seriously, there’s no such thing as a truly “safe” uranium mine.
By 11 a.m. on a Wednesday in Antioch, California, hundreds of cars are lined up at the Palabra de Dios Community Church. The cars fill the church’s ample parking lot and snake up the neighboring service street ... waiting for food. Most weekdays since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a box truck delivers groceries here: bags of fresh kale, lettuce, and radishes; boxes of apples, limes, and tomatoes; canned beans, pastas, and gallons and gallons of milk and juice. As volunteers from the church unload the truck, others quickly sort the food into single-family grocery boxes to put into each car. “Our intention here is to provide food to those who truly need it,” says Ruben Herrera, pastor of Palabra de Dios. Herrera and his congregation don’t regularly operate a food drive out of the parking lot of their church, but for many churches, nonprofits, and social service providers, the COVID-19 crisis has prompted a rapid reconfiguration of resources and efforts to address the needs of their communities. The truckload of food comes from White Pony Express, a nonprofit aimed at alleviating hunger in Contra Costa County. Over the past six years, the staff members at White Pony Express have built and coordinated a growing food redistribution network, in which they “rescue” food with approaching sell-by dates from grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers markets, and redistribute that food to the county’s low-income residents via food pantries, schools, and community centers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a novel aid program Friday that aims to get restaurants rehiring workers right away while also feeding needy seniors and generating sales tax revenue for city governments. California will team up with the federal government to pay restaurants to provide three meals a day to needy seniors. The partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local governments will provide eligible seniors with 21 meals a week, Newsom said. FEMA will cover 75% of the costs of the meals. The state will cover most of the remaining costs. According to Newsom, the program is a first of its kind in the nation. "This partnership will allow for the ability for restaurants to start rehiring people or keep people currently employed and start preparing meals, three meals a day, seven days a week, and have those meals delivered to our seniors all throughout the state of California," Newsom said. "We will provide an unlimited number of meals, no cap in terms of that support." The governor said the program will also have nutrition guidelines for the meals. "We want to make sure we are focused on locally produced produce," he said. "We want to connect our farms to this effort. We want to focus our values throughout the state of California to get a lot of independent restaurants up and running again as well. And make sure what we are sending to our seniors is low sodium, not high fructose drinks or sugary drinks and the like, so there's guidelines that we're putting out."
China placed 50 million people under quarantine in Hubei Province in January. Since then, many liberal democracies have taken aggressive authoritarian measures. One country, however, stands out as an exception. Rather than declare a lockdown ... Sweden asked its citizens to practice social distancing on a mostly voluntary basis. They eschewed harsh controls, fines, and policing. Swedish authorities imposed some restrictions designed to flatten the curve: no public gatherings of more than 50 people, no bar service, distance learning in high schools and universities. Many restaurants remain open [and] young children are still in school. Sweden has not introduced location-tracing technologies or apps, thus avoiding threats to privacy and personal autonomy. Sweden has won praise in some quarters for ... keeping its per capita death rate lower than those of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. But it has come in for criticism in other quarters for exceeding the per capita death rates of other Nordic countries. Swedish authorities have argued that the country’s higher death rate will appear comparatively lower in hindsight. The country’s intensive care units have not been overrun. Estimates from the OECD suggest that every month of pandemic-related restrictions will shrink the economies of advanced countries by two percent. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States ... will see their economies shrink by more than 25 percent within a year. Unemployment is rising to levels unheard of since the 1930s—fueling political backlash and deepening social divisions. There are good reasons for countries to begin easing their restrictions.
Note: Read a balanced, informative New York Times article written by a Swede about her experience there. This graph shows that Sweden is doing well compared to other countries considering that they have not instituted a lockdown. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
As Europe and the world emerge blearily to survey the wreckage of lockdown, the question is still left hanging. Was Sweden right? Stockholm gambled in its response to coronavirus, but neither its economy nor its healthcare system have collapsed. Just two months ago, it held hands with Britain in rejecting total lockdown. Then on 23 March, Boris Johnson did a U-turn, leaving Sweden ... on its own. Since then the divergence has become radical and political. The one table that glares at us daily is ... deaths per million. The most stringent lockdowns – as in China, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Britain – have yielded both high and low deaths per million. Hi-tech has apparently “worked” in South Korea, but so has no-tech in Sweden. Sweden’s 319 deaths per million is far ahead of locked-down Norway’s 40 and Denmark’s 91, but it’s well behind locked-down UK’s 465 and Spain’s 569. Sweden’s light-touch policy is led by two scientists, Johan Giesecke and his protégé Anders Tegnell. The latter currently leads Stockholm’s strategy with ... 73% popular support. Tegnell has been emphatic throughout. A degree of social distancing and avoiding crowds is enough. As for lockdown, “Nothing to do with [it] has a scientific basis.” [Sweden] has kept itself open and at work, and has not seen the surge in “all-causes excess deaths” of the UK and other high-lockdown states. According to Tegnell ... “there is no other escape” but to find ways of living with this virus. Sweden gambled in its response, but so did the rest of the world. The UN warns that the world could lose four years of growth at a cost of $8.5 trillion. Famine and further disease will be rife. That was surely the greater gamble.
Note: Read a balanced, informative New York Times article written by a Swede about her experience there. This graph shows that Sweden is doing well compared to other countries considering that they have not instituted a lockdown. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from major media sources.
Publicly traded companies have received more than $1 billion in funds meant for small businesses from the federal government’s economic stimulus package, according to data from securities filings compiled by The Washington Post. Nearly 300 public companies have reported receiving money from the fund, called the Paycheck Protection Program, according to the data compiled by The Post. Recipients include 43 companies with more than 500 workers, the maximum typically allowed by the program. Several other recipients were prosperous enough to pay executives $2 million or more. After the first pool of $349 billion ran dry, leaving more than 80 percent of applicants without funding, outrage over the millions of dollars that went to larger firms prompted some companies to return the money. As of Thursday, public companies had reported returning more than $125 million. Other companies have said they plan to keep the funds. While much of the program’s criticism has focused on the relatively large companies that received the money intended for small businesses, there is some evidence that the program missed its target in other ways, too. The areas where small businesses have been most affected – New York and New Jersey, for example – were less likely to see loans from the program. Only about 15 percent of businesses in the congressional districts most affected by business losses were able to obtain PPP help; by contrast, in the least affected congressional districts, 30 percent were able to obtain them.
The International Monetary Fund issued a stark warning on Tuesday about the coronavirus’s economic toll, saying that the world is facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression as shuttered factories, quarantines and national lockdowns cause economic output to collapse. With countries already hoarding medical supplies and international travel curtailed, the I.M.F. warned that the crisis threatened to reverse decades of gains from globalization. In its World Economic Outlook, the I.M.F. projected that the global economy would contract by 3 percent in 2020, an extraordinary reversal from early this year, when the fund forecast that the world economy would outpace 2019 and grow by 3.3 percent. This year’s fall in output would be far more severe than the last recession, when the world economy contracted by less than 1 percent between 2008 and 2009. The United States is expected ... contract by about 6 percent in 2020. The global economic contraction from 1929 to 1932 was approximately 10 percent. Advanced economies shrank by 16 percent during that period. Barry Eichengreen, the University of California, Berkeley, economist who is a scholar of the Great Depression, said there were several parallels between now and then. He pointed to the jobless rate in the United States, which he expects could top the 25 percent that was reached in 1933, and the global nature of the downturn, which could prolong the crisis as poor countries struggle to combat the virus.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military's National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents. The report ... raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia - forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier. "Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event," one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. "It was then briefed multiple times to" the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House. From that warning in November, the sources described repeated briefings through December for policy-makers and decision-makers across the federal government as well as the National Security Council at the White House. All of that culminated with a detailed explanation of the problem that appeared in the President’s Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January. The NCMI report was made available widely to people authorized to access intelligence community alerts. Other intelligence community bulletins began circulating through confidential channels across the government around Thanksgiving. Those analyses said China’s leadership knew the epidemic was out of control even as it kept such crucial information from foreign governments and public health agencies.
For weeks, the world has been inundated with information about the COVID-19 pandemic. While cases continue to rise and researchers learn more about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), most data has lacked a certain specificity. But on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was able to give a closer look at exactly who is most affected by COVID-19. In a new study published for the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers found that the majority of those hospitalized due to COVID-19 have preexisting conditions—about 90% of patients, or nearly all, had one or more underlying conditions. The most common ... include hypertension (49.7%), obesity (48.3%), chronic lung disease (34.6%), diabetes mellitus (28.3%), and cardiovascular disease (27.8%). The data collected for the study came from the COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET), created for population-based surveillance for all confirmed COVID-19–related hospitalizations in the US. The CDC's new study used the demographics of 1,482 COVID-19 patients ... from across 14 different states. The study found that 74.5% of those hospitalized due to coronavirus were age 50 or older, with the highest rates among those over 65. Men were also disproportionately affected (54.4% of those hospitalized from COVID-19 were male), as were African Americans, who represented 33% of hospitalizations, despite only making up 18% of the total population studied.
It wasn’t looking good for South Korea in mid-February. The nation had the world’s second highest number of coronavirus cases after China. But thanks to early preparations, and a robust public health response based around extensive testing and tech-powered contact tracing, the nation’s tally of infections has been kept to just 10,765. More impressive still, no major lockdown or restrictions on movement have been imposed, save a few scattered curfews. On Apr. 15, some 29 million people turned up to vote in parliamentary elections - yet no known infections arose, thanks to strict social distancing at the polls. On Wednesday, South Korea had zero local infections for the first time since the outbreak was first recorded 72 days previously. South Korea’s health and welfare minister Park Neung-hoo explained to TIME exactly how his nation engineered such a remarkable turnaround. "Instead of physical lockdown, we fought the virus through an epidemiological approach such as wide diagnostic testing and isolation of contacts, while encouraging people’s voluntary cooperation for social distancing," [he said]. "We believed this was more effective than forcible measures and indeed it paid off. The key is whether we are able to keep COVID-19 cases within our medical system’s capacity to treat patients. In Korea, we set strict standards and regularly evaluate how patient numbers match our medical capacity, allowing us balance the two pressing needs [of public health and economy]."
Note: Read more on South Korea's success in this NBC article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
With nearly 55,000 confirmed lives lost in the United States so far and widespread economic disruption from the coronavirus, it is increasing apparent that America could learn a thing or two from how other democracies are managing the pandemic. Taiwan, for example, never ordered a lockdown. Its baseball season is in full swing. The country is so flush with pandemic supplies that it is exporting 10 million masks to America and elsewhere. Under Iceland's "lockdown lite," kindergartens and elementary schools are on limited operations, allowing parents to work. South Korea's malls and restaurants are bustling. Constraints are being eased in New Zealand and in Germany. The rate of coronavirus deaths in these five countries — three of which are led by women — is significantly less than that in the United States, which has lost more people to the virus than any nation and has the world's seventh highest COVID-19 mortality rate. Taiwan, South Korea, Iceland and Germany began stockpiling test kits even before their first coronavirus deaths. The United States, meanwhile, fumbled the creation of a COVID-19 test in February and has been behind ever since. Other nations were innovative and aggressive on testing. Taiwan checked passengers disembarking from cruise ships and retested patients diagnosed with influenza or pneumonia to ensure no mistakes were made. South Korea launched drive-thru diagnostics on Feb. 26. Iceland leads the world in per capita testing, while America ranks 41st.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
In recent days, top U.S. government officials have moved to assure Americans that they won't lack for food, despite the coronavirus. In fact, the pandemic has caused entirely different problems: a spike in the number of people who can't afford groceries and a glut of food where it's not needed. Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk that no one will buy. In Florida, vegetable growers are abandoning harvest-ready fields of tomatoes, yellow squash and cucumbers for the same reason. "We cannot pick the produce if we cannot sell it, because we cannot afford the payroll every week," says Kim Jamerson, a vegetable grower. Those crops will be plowed back into the ground. The situation is especially dire for Florida's tomato growers, who sell 80% of their production to restaurants and other food service companies, rather than to supermarkets. Meanwhile, food banks and pantries are having trouble supplying enough food to people who need it, including millions of children who no longer are getting free meals at school and people who've lost jobs in recent weeks. Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, a network of food banks and charitable meals programs, says that these programs normally receive large donations of unsold food from retail stores. In recent weeks, though, as retailers struggled to keep their shelves stocked, "we're seeing as much as a 35% reduction in that donation stream from retail," Babineaux-Fontenot says.
Before the pandemic, 87 million people were uninsured or underinsured in our country, and more than 30,000 people died every year because they couldn’t get to a doctor when they needed to see one. More than half a million families declared bankruptcy each year because of medically related debt. One out of five Americans could not afford the outrageously priced prescription drugs their doctors prescribed to them. And our healthcare outcomes, from maternal deaths to life expectancy to infant mortality, lagged behind most other industrialized nations. And for all of that, the United States still spends nearly $11,000 on healthcare for every adult and child – more than twice the average of other major countries. That was before the pandemic. The situation is far more dire now. Over just the last five weeks, more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs and now face a crisis unique among advanced countries: for most of them, their healthcare was tied to their jobs. In America, unlike any other major country, when you lose your job, you lose your healthcare. As a result, up to 35 million Americans are estimated to see their health coverage disappear in the middle of this Covid-19 nightmare. Do we really want to continue the current expensive and cruel system that ties healthcare to our jobs? Or do we need a simple, comprehensive and cost-effective system that understands that healthcare is a human right for all of our people – employed or unemployed, young or old, rich or poor?
Warring gangs in South Africa are working together in an unprecedented truce to deliver much-needed food to people under lockdown. The country has seen a 75% decrease in violent crime since it imposed strict restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic, and normally dangerous streets in Cape Town now see sworn enemies meeting up to collect essential goods to distribute throughout hungry communities. "What we're seeing happen here is literally a miracle," Pastor Andie Steele-Smith said. Steel-Smith works with gang members in his community, many of whom are convicted killers. "They are the best distributors in the country," he said. "They are used to distributing other white powders, but still they are distributing things and then, they know everybody." Preston Jacobs, a member of the "Americans" gang, told CBS News' Debora Patta it "feels nice" to take on a new role and communicate with those in need. "Now I see there are nice people also, and people want to love what we're doing now," Jacobs said. Sansi Hassan of the "Clever Kids" gang expressed hope that this current ceasefire in gang violence could be permanent in the post-lockdown future. "If it can stay like this, then there will be no gang fight," he said. "And every gang will agree with us." Pastor Steel-Smith remains optimistic for his community. "I am proud of you guys," he said to two gang members working to distribute essential goods. "If I died today and went to heaven, I would die a happy man."
In Italy, where the coronavirus has shuttered more than 2 million businesses and left 1 in every 2 workers without income, some Italians are putting a new twist on an old custom to help the needy and restart the economy. In Rome, the Piazza San Giovanni della Malva used to echo with the noise of crowded cafes and restaurants. Now, the only business open is a grocery shop, Er Cimotto. It's so small that social distancing forces customers to order through the window. On a recent morning, a shopper asks that 10 euros ($10.83) be added to her bill for what's called la spesa sospesa, "suspended shopping." The concept derives from the century-old Neapolitan tradition of "suspended coffee" — when a customer in a cafe pays in advance for someone who can't afford it. Shop owner Michela Buccilli says suspended coffee has been replaced with suspended grocery shopping. "The customer who has something leaves something for those who don't," she says. The store usually doubles the amount donated and provides food that does not spoil fast — such as pasta and canned goods — to a local aid group, the Sant'Egidio Community, that distributes it to the needy. Buccilli says one customer wanted specifically to donate a kilo of oranges to a needy family, so Buccilli sent the aid group a crate of oranges. Suspended shopping is an act of charity in which the donor doesn't show off and the recipient doesn't have to show gratitude. With Italy's economy in suspension, the custom is being broadened.
Gatherings around the world have been postponed amidst the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing protocols meant to combat the illness. But people everywhere are making efforts to remind others that kindness isn’t canceled during this critical time. In fact, joy and compassion have been encouraged to help everybody get through. A grocery store worker in Vancouver, Wash. is doing much more than stocking shelves while working through the coronavirus quarantine — he’s inspiring people to consider the communication obstacles that the deaf community is facing as people wear masks. Matthew Simmons is deaf and relies on his lip reading skills to communicate with verbal coworkers and customers who don’t use American Sign Language (ASL). But when people began wearing masks, as enforced by the FDA, Simmons was anxious about how he would communicate, so he customized his work shirt to inform people that he reads lips and was provided white boards in order to communicate nonverbally with customers. A family in California is sharing the story of their grandmother’s “hero” nurse, after the healthcare worker went above and beyond her duties to get the elderly woman at risk of dying from the coronavirus on a video call with her son, daughter-in-law and grandkids. “I believe that our communication ... inspired her to persevere in her fight with COVID-19 to stay alive,” Will Wagner [said].
In Europe, nearly 39 million people are being paid by governments to work part time or not at all, a record level of support that will shape the region's ability to claw its way out of the deep recession triggered by the coronavirus. Like never before, European countries are relying on programs that encourage struggling companies to retain employees but reduce their working hours. The state then subsidizes a portion of their pay, in some countries paying as much as 80% of average wages. Unlike the system widely used in the United States, where employers lay off workers who then need to apply for government benefits, programs such as Germany's "Kurzarbeit," which translates to "short-time work," maintain the relationship between employers and their employees, helping work resume quickly once business picks back up. Kurzarbeit is credited with helping prevent mass layoffs in Germany following the 2008 global financial crisis. But present uptake is unprecedented. In Germany, as many as one in four employees may be on short-time work programs. In France and Italy, the number rises to as many as one in three workers or more. This could give Europe a leg up in its recovery, allowing economies in the region to restart quickly and efficiently as demand rebounds. A survey by the Ifo Institute in Germany this week found that 99% of restaurants and 97% of hotels in the country are making use of the Kurzarbeit program, as well as 94% of companies in the auto sector. The average across industries is 50%. [In contrast,] just 62,300 Americans received work-sharing benefits for the week ending April 11, according to the most recent data from the US Department of Labor.
[A] 26-minute video called Plandemic has exploded on social media in recent days, claiming to present a view of COVID-19 that differs from the "official" narrative. The video has been viewed millions of times on YouTube via links that are replaced as quickly as the video-sharing service can remove them for violating its policy against "COVID-19 misinformation." In it, filmmaker Mikki Willis conducts an uncritical interview with Judy Mikovits. Many of Mikovits' claims concern ... conflicts that she attributes to various high-profile individuals. Among them are Dr. Anthony Fauci [and] Dr. Robert Redfield. Mikovits ... says Fauci has profited from patents bearing his name that were derived from research done at NIAID. The Associated Press did report in 2005 that scientists at the National Institutes of Health "have collected millions of dollars in royalties for experimental treatments without having to tell patients [they] had a financial connection." Fauci [was] among those who received royalty payments. Mikovits also [casts] doubt on the official statistics regarding COVID-19 deaths, saying that doctors and hospitals have been "incentivized" to count deaths unrelated to the disease. In fact, a 20% premium was tacked on to Medicare payments for treatment of COVID-19 patients. The video correctly points to U.S. cooperation with and funding for the Wuhan laboratory. In [a] 2009 paper, Mikovits is among 13 researchers who claimed to have found that a mouse retrovirus may contribute to chronic fatigue syndrome. [The paper] "sent shock waves through the scientific community, as it revealed the common use of animal and human fetal tissues were unleashing devastating plagues of chronic diseases."
Note: We've selected the parts of this article supporting Mikovits, though overall it is clearly biased against her. The article strangely fails to mention her claims Fauci stole her research and used it for profit. Why was this video banned from social media? You can still view it here or on this great website which posts many banned videos. Definitely high strangeness here, as you can read in this article about Mikovits in Science magazine. Explore independent research confirming a number of the claims of Mikovits.
The scientist whose advice prompted Boris Johnson to lock down Britain resigned from his Government advisory position on Tuesday. He broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover. Professor Neil Ferguson allowed the woman to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The woman lives with her husband and their children in another house. The epidemiologist leads the team at Imperial College London that produced the computer-modelled research that led to the national lockdown, which claimed that more than 500,000 Britons would die without the measures. Prof Ferguson has frequently appeared in the media to support the lockdown and praised the "very intensive social distancing" measures. The revelation of the "illegal" trysts will infuriate millions of couples living apart and banned by the Government from meeting up during the lockdown, which is now in its seventh week. On at least two occasions, Antonia Staats, 38, travelled across London from her home in the south of the capital to spend time with the Government scientist, nicknamed Professor Lockdown. The 51-year-old had only just finished a two-week spell self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus. Police in England and Wales have handed out more than 9,000 fines during the lockdown – equivalent to one every five minutes, while Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, was forced to resign last month after making two trips to her second home during the coronavirus lockdown.
Note: This article in the UK's Telegraph reveals that Ferguson's models in years past were "severely flawed," resulting in millions of unnecessary livestock deaths and billions in financial loses. This Time magazine article further states, "Ferguson and colleagues published a paper suggesting that even with some social distancing measures, the U.K. could see 250,000 coronavirus deaths and that the U.S. might have about 1 million deaths." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Estimates of [coronavirus] lethality keep going down. On March 31, the White House estimated that, even with social distancing policies in place, between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die of covid-19. Anthony S. Fauci recently indicated the government’s estimates will soon be revised downward. Predictions for hospitalization rates have also proved to be substantial overestimations. On March 30, University of Washington researchers projected that California would need 4,800 beds on April 3. In fact, the state needed 2,200. The same model projected that Louisiana would need 6,400; in fact, it used only 1,700. Even New York, the most stressed system in the country, used only 15,000 beds against a projection of 58,000. In March, the World Health Organization announced that 3.4 percent of people with the virus had died from it. That would be an astonishingly high fatality rate. Fauci suggested a week later that the actual rate was probably 1 percent. [Yet] some studies find that 75 to 80 percent of people infected could be asymptomatic. That means most people infected with the virus ... never get counted. Standford's John Ioannidis, ... one of the most cited scientists in the field, believes we have massively overestimated the fatality of covid-19. “Iif you make a small mistake in the base numbers, you end up with a final number that could be off 10-fold, 30-fold, even 50-fold,” he [said]. South Korea has been able to tackle the virus without lockdowns precisely because it has handled testing superbly. We have shut down the economy based on models. But models are only as good as the data that shapes them.
Professor Neil Ferguson ... produced a paper predicting that Britain was on course to lose 250,000 people during the coronavirus epidemic. His research is said to have convinced Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his advisors to introduce the lockdown. Ferguson has been criticised in the past for making predictions based on allegedly faulty assumptions which nevertheless shaped government strategies. He was behind disputed research that sparked the mass culling of farm animals during the 2001 epidemic of foot and mouth disease ... which ultimately led to the deaths of more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs. The cost to the economy was later estimated at Ł10 billion. A 2011 paper ... found that the government ordered the destruction of millions of animals because of "severely flawed" modelling. And separately he also predicted that up to 150,000 people could die from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or 'mad cow disease'). [One] report stated: "The mathematical models were, at best, crude estimations." It also described a febrile atmosphere – reminiscent of recent weeks – and claimed that this allowed mathematical modellers to shape government policy. To date there have been fewer than 200 deaths from the human form of BSE. Scientists warned ... about the dangers in making sweeping political judgments based on mathematical modelling which may be flawed. Michael Thrusfield, professor of veterinary epidemiology ... described his sense of "déjŕ vu" when he read Mr Ferguson's Imperial College paper on coronavirus. Others have directly criticised the methodology employed by Ferguson and his team in their coronavirus study.
Note: This informative article shows predictions of 40,000 dead in Sweden by early May using Ferguson's model were way off. As of May 10th, Sweden had registered 3,225 deaths. A review of his deeply flawed code is available here. This MSN article further reveals that Ferguson blatantly violated his own restrictions by seeing a married lover shortly after the UK lockdown was instituted. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses. Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release. The work entailed risks that worried even seasoned researchers. More than 200 scientists called for the work to be halted. Dr. Fauci played an important role in promoting the work. In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses ... bringing the total to $7.4 million. [One] phase of the project [included] gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project ... would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. SARS-CoV-2, the virus now causing a global pandemic, is believed to have originated in bats. U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab.
Note: Newsweek reported that in 2017, Anthony Fauci predicted a "surprise outbreak" during Trump's presidency. How could he have known this? This Washington Post article has the title "State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
In January 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending U.S. science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which had in 2015 become China’s first laboratory to achieve the highest level of international bioresearch safety. WIV issued a news release in English about the last of these visits. Last week, WIV erased that statement from its website, though it remains archived on the Internet. What the U.S. officials learned during their visits concerned them so much that they dispatched two diplomatic cables ... back to Washington. The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help. The first cable ... warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic. “Most importantly,” the cable states, “this finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases." The Chinese government, meanwhile, has put a total lockdown on information related to the virus origins ... while suppressing any attempts to examine whether [their] lab was involved. The Shanghai lab that published the novel coronavirus genome on Jan. 11 was quickly shut down by authorities for “rectification.” Several of the doctors and journalists who reported on the spread early on have disappeared. The Chinese researchers at WIV were receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other U.S. organizations.
Note: The entire article at the link above raises vitally important questions, as does this Newsweek article titled, "Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab With Millions of U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal. Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks. Some scientists are eager to pursue these studies because they may show, for example, how a bird flu could mutate to more easily infect humans, or could yield clues to making a better vaccine. Critics say these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic. In October 2014, all federal funding was halted on efforts to make three viruses more dangerous: the flu virus, and those causing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). But the new regulations apply to any pathogen that could potentially cause a pandemic. There has been a long, fierce debate about projects — known as “gain of function” research — intended to make pathogens more deadly or more transmissible. Tensions rose in 2014 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accidentally exposed lab workers to anthrax and shipped a deadly flu virus to a laboratory that had asked for a benign strain. That year, the N.I.H. also found vials of smallpox in a freezer that had been forgotten for 50 years. When the moratorium was imposed, it effectively halted 21 projects. In the three years since, the N.I.H. created exceptions that funded ten of those projects.
Note: This article was written three years before the coronavirus hit. Could the lifting of this ban and later U.S. funding of the highest level virology lab in Wuhan have played a role in the pandemic? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on science corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
In Wisconsin and Ohio, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer has dug huge ditches to bury 1 million pounds of onions. And in South Florida, a region that supplies much of the Eastern half of the United States with produce, tractors are crisscrossing bean and cabbage fields, plowing perfectly ripe vegetables back into the soil. Many of the nation’s largest farms ... are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell. The closing of restaurants, hotels and schools has left some farmers with no buyers for more than half their crops. And even as retailers see spikes in food sales to Americans who are now eating nearly every meal at home, the increases are not enough to absorb all of the perishable food that was planted weeks ago and intended for schools and businesses. The amount of waste is staggering. The nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, estimates that farmers are dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day. A single chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every week. Many farmers say they have donated part of the surplus to food banks. But there is only so much perishable food that charities ... can absorb. And the costs of harvesting, processing and then transporting produce and milk to food banks or other areas of need would put further financial strain on farms that have seen half their paying customers disappear.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up work and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes — leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat. Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.” This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence ... and humanitarian disasters. The curfews and restrictions on movement are already devastating the meager incomes of displaced people. The effects of the restrictions “may cause more suffering than the disease itself,” said Kurt Tjossem ... at the International Rescue Committee.
High levels of air pollution may be “one of the most important contributors” to deaths from Covid-19, according to research. The analysis shows that of the coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, 78% of them occurred in just five regions, and these were the most polluted. The research examined levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced mostly by diesel vehicles, and weather conditions that can prevent dirty air from dispersing away from a city. Many studies have linked NO2 exposure to health damage, and particularly lung disease, which could make people more likely to die if they contract Covid-19. “The results indicate that long-term exposure to this pollutant may be one of the most important contributors to fatality caused by the Covid-19 virus in these regions and maybe across the whole world,” said Yaron Ogen ... who conducted the research. A separate study published on 7 April looked at fine particle pollution in the US and found that even small increases in levels in the years before the pandemic were associated with far higher Covid-19 death rates. Another recent paper noted that the high death rates seen in the north of Italy correlated with the highest levels of air pollution. Jenny Bates, an air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This new study is worrying. This is all the more reason to keep traffic and pollution levels down as much as possible now and get out of this terrible situation with a view to fewer but cleaner vehicles on the road.”
Note: And is it just a coincidence that according to this CNBC article China's 5G networks went online just weeks before the coronavirus outbreak? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
As California and other states stockpile ventilators to prepare for a surge of coronavirus patients, a debate is emerging among doctors across the country about whether the breathing machines actually hinder recovery from COVID-19. A few small studies from around the world have led some doctors to consider the possibility that placing COVID-19 patients on a ventilator hurts more than it helps, and may even increase their chance of dying. In general, putting someone on a ventilator is an extreme measure because it involves sedating patients and inserting a tube in their mouth and threading it through the airway into the lungs. Too much oxygen or pressure from the ventilator can damage the lungs. A study in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, found that out of 37 critically ill COVID-19 patients on ventilators, 30 died within a month. One report in Italy looked at 1,300 critically ill patients and found that 90% were intubated and put on a ventilator. Of those, a quarter died in the ICU. In New York City, 80% of coronavirus patients placed on ventilators have died, the Associated Press reported. “The traditional approach is to say, let’s just intubate them now while we still have a little bit of time,” said Dr. Jahan Fahimi, medical director of UCSF’s emergency room in San Francisco. “Well, in COVID, we’re thinking that’s not the right approach. But if you don’t intubate them, it’s going to be much more labor intensive from the medical side, to watch these patients carefully on high-flow oxygen.”
Farmers around the country have been forced to dump milk and waste fresh produce as schools, restaurants and other institutions remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In response, supermarket chain Publix launched a new initiative Wednesday to help struggling farmers — and get the food to Americans who need it most. The company's press release said it will purchase fresh produce and milk from farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and donate the goods directly to Feeding America food banks that are in its "operating area." During the first week of the initiative alone, some 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk is expected to be donated, the company said. "As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic," said Todd Jones, Publix CEO. "In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time." In addition to the new initiative, Publix Super Markets Charities recently made donations which totaled $2 million to help Feeding America's member food banks amid the crisis. Feeding America, which is the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., said that before the coronavirus crisis there were 37 million people in the nation who did not have enough food. The number is now expected to increase by an additional 17 million.
In this time of social distancing and high anxiety, it can help to step back and remind ourselves of the myriad ways people are still being positive. We asked several of our reporters to share something they saw this week that is helping them remain upbeat. Inside Chicago’s once-bustling Shedd Aquarium, there wasn’t a soul in sight — except for a penguin waddling past the glass tanks. With the facility closed to the public, staff at the aquarium saw an opportunity for a field trip. They started Sunday with a penguin named Wellington, who peered into one of the giant fish tanks. The next day was mated pair Edward and Annie’s turn. Video of the sightseeing trips was shared online thousands of times. Like many nursing homes across the country, Sterling Village in Massachusetts has severely restricted its visitation policy. But resident Millie Erickson’s family still wanted to celebrate her 100th birthday with her, so they and the facility found a creative solution. About a dozen of her family members and nursing-home staff gathered outside her window to sing “Happy Birthday” as she waved along with the music and teared up — and it was all caught on video. I was heartened that this family found an outside-the-box way to make their loved one feel embraced and valued during this isolating time. We may currently need to keep our physical distance from older family members, but that doesn’t mean we can’t facilitate togetherness. Those human connections are what will get us through this crisis.
Note: Don't miss many other uplifting stories available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Yanira Soriano met her newborn son for the first time Wednesday after spending nearly two weeks in a medically induced coma. She was eight months pregnant when she showed coronavirus symptoms, tested positive and was quickly intubated, her husband, Walter Sanchez, told CBS News. At that point, Walter said, the doctors conducted an emergency cesarean section while Yanira was on the ventilator. Hospitals across New York are preparing for similar situations. "We really advocate for assessment on a case-by-case basis," said Dr. Dena Goffman, with the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Goffman co-authored a new study that tested more than 200 pregnant women admitted for delivery in two New York City hospitals for coronavirus whether they showed symptoms or not. Thirty-three women tested positive, but 29 of them showed no symptoms, according to the results published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste, who is 37 weeks pregnant, said she was told she'll have to wear a mask when she goes in to deliver, and she'll be tested as soon as she arrives at the hospital. If she tests positive, she'll be isolated as staff take special precautions. Battiste asked Goffman if she would recommend separating her newborn from her if she tests positive for the virus. "For a mom who's asymptomatic and feeling well, we think there are ways to ... potentially keep them together to allow for some of the bonding," Goffman said.
Note: Numerous studies are coming out showing that half or more of those who test positive show no symptoms at all, even in a homeless shelter. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A group of senators is pushing to include a paycheck guarantee for laid off or furloughed workers in the next coronavirus relief package. Under the senators’ proposal, businesses that see at least a 20% month-over-month drop in revenues could receive grants to help cover workers’ payroll and benefits for at least six months. The grants would cover benefits and up to $90,000 in wages for each furloughed or laid off employee. The grants also include up to 20% of revenue to pay rent, utilities insurance policies and maintenance. The Paycheck Security proposal would allow businesses of all sizes to receive the grants if they prove revenue losses, unless they hold more than 18 months of average payroll in cash or cash equivalents. More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past six weeks, as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the U.S. economy. The senators argue their program would be more effective than the current coronavirus response efforts. Congress has already approved more than $2.5 trillion in coronavirus relief. As state unemployment systems strain to keep up with jobless claims and the Paycheck Protection Program has struggled with technical problems and backlash over big businesses accepting the loans. According to reports, the Justice Department has found possible fraud among businesses seeking relief in a preliminary investigation of money disbursed through PPP.) Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has introduced a similar measure in the house, which would cover up to $100,000 in workers’ wages. Some Republicans have also warmed to the idea of covering company payrolls.
Lately, my country has caught the attention of the media. Sweden’s response to the pandemic has been singled out as “radical,” “lax” and “controversial” because Sweden has not imposed a broad general lockdown. Sweden is known as a country with a strong welfare model, including public healthcare for all, and has among the world’s highest life expectancies. Some might find it difficult to reconcile this image with our approach to containing COVID-19. Sweden shares the same goals as all other countries — to save lives and protect public health. Sweden’s measures differ from other countries in a few significant ways. We are not shutting down schools for younger children or daycare facilities. We have no regulation that forces citizens to remain in their homes. And we have not ordered the closure of any businesses. Swedish laws on communicable diseases are mostly based on voluntary measures and on individual responsibility. The use of recommendations in public health efforts — rather than mandates — is a common strategy in Sweden. One example of this is child immunizations. In contrast to the United States, where all 50 states mandate immunizations for children in order to enroll in school ... Sweden’s child vaccination program is based on recommendations from the authorities and is not a legal requirement. Yet more than 97% of Swedish children are vaccinated. Sweden’s strategy may not provide all the answers, but we believe the combination of voluntary and mandated measures is not only more sustainable for Sweden than a lockdown strategy but will strengthen the resilience of Swedish society to fight this virus in the long run.
Note: Almost every other major media article criticizes Sweden for its approach, which is supported by more than 80% of Swedes. And almost every news article compares them to other Scandinavian countries, which are doing much better than Sweden, but fails to mention its neighbors France, Belgium, and the UK, which have locked down, and are doing much worse than Sweden. Yet even the New York Times has admitted their economy will fair better than most other countries. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from media sources.
The World Health Organization lauded Sweden as a “model” for battling the coronavirus as countries lift lockdowns — after the nation controversially refused restrictions. Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, said Wednesday there are “lessons to be learned” from the Scandinavian nation, which has largely relied on citizens to self-regulate. Ryan noted that instead of lockdowns, the country has “put in place a very strong public policy around social distancing, around caring and protecting people in long-term care facilities. What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of its citizens to implement self-distancing and self-regulate,” Ryan said. “In that sense, they have implemented public policy through that partnership with the population.” He said the country also ramped up testing and had adequate capacity in hospitals to handle any outbreaks. “I think if we are to reach a new normal, Sweden represents a model if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lockdowns,” Ryan said. The country, which has a population of 10.3 million, has seen more than 20,300 cases and 2,462 deaths as of Thursday afternoon — far higher than its Nordic neighbors, which implemented stricter containment measures, the latest data shows.
Note: Almost every other major media article criticizes Sweden for its approach, which is supported by more than 80% of Swedes. And almost every news article compares them to other Scandinavian countries, which are doing much better than Sweden, but fails to mention its neighbors France, Belgium, and the UK, which have locked down, and are doing much worse than Sweden. Yet even the New York Times has admitted their economy will fair better than most other countries. For more, see concise summaries of revealing news articles on the coronavirus from media sources.
YouTube has banned any coronavirus-related content that directly contradicts World Health Organization (WHO) advice. The Google-owned service says it will remove anything it deems "medically unsubstantiated". Chief executive Susan Wojcicki said the media giant wanted to stamp out "misinformation on the platform". The move follows YouTube banning conspiracy theories falsely linking Covid-19 to 5G networks. Mrs Wojcicki made the remarks on Wednesday during her first interview since the global coronavirus lockdown began. "So people saying, ‘Take vitamin C, take turmeric, we’ll cure you,’ those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy,” she told CNN. “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy.” Last week, Facebook announced users who had read, watched or shared false Covid-19 information would receive a pop-up alert urging them to visit the WHO's website. Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, meanwhile, stopped users forwarding messages already shared more than four times by the wider community to more than one chat at a time. It comes as some of the UK's largest news publishers, including Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, criticised Google for failing to be transparent about its approach to filtering adverts alongside coronavirus-related content, according to the Financial Times.
Note: So now anything posted by those not deemed to be "experts" will be banned. Whatever happened to free speech? Watch YouTube's CEO spell this out in this video. More excellent, little-known information here in an interview with a respected MD whose video was banned. And how can BBC state links between 5G and Covid-19 are false, when that has yet to be established? Is it just a coincidence this CNBC article states China's 5G networks went online just weeks before the coronavirus outbreak? See also concise summaries of revealing coronavirus news articles.
YouTube has removed two videos of California doctors ... Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California [which] downplayed the risk of the coronavirus and asserted that stay-at-home measures were unnecessary. Facebook, however, has not removed the doctors' videos. The different reactions of YouTube and Facebook highlight the challenges of moderating high-stakes misinformation as it goes viral, especially when it is considered to be expert opinion. The video removed by YouTube showed a one-hour news conference livestreamed by local media, including NBC and ABC affiliates in Bakersfield. By Wednesday, the video had been seen at least 15 million times. Erickson and Massihi, owners of several urgent care centers in the area, presented data from 5,213 COVID-19 tests. The data, they claimed, showed that the coronavirus was widespread in the community already but had caused few deaths. Their data, they said, supported the need to rethink state stay-at-home measures. Furthermore, Erickson ... claimed that COVID-19 death numbers were inaccurate, citing other unnamed doctors in Wisconsin and California who he said had told him that they were urged to list the disease as a cause of death even if it was unrelated. "The only justification for taking it down was that the two physicians on screen had reached different conclusions from the people currently in charge," said Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Massihi posted a video to his personal Facebook page Tuesday thanking supporters while insisting that their comments were meant only to share their own data, not to drive national or even state policy.
Note: Watch an excellent follow-up interview with Dr. Erickson exposing further deception. Even if these doctors are wrong about some of their conclusions, don't they have a right to express their opinions? Will anyone who disputes the claims of government officials be banned from expressing their opinions on social media? Sadly, this BBC article shows that is already true for the coronavirus on YouTube. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
At least 43,000 American millionaires who are too rich to get coronavirus stimulus checks are getting a far bigger boost — averaging $1.6 million each, according to a congressional committee. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act trumpeted its assistance for working families and small businesses, but it apparently contains an even bigger benefit for wealthy business owners, the committee found. The act allows pass-through businesses — ones taxed under individual income, rather than corporate — an unlimited amount of deductions against their non-business income, such as capital gains. They can also use losses to avoid paying taxes in other years. That gives the roughly 43,000 individual tax filers who make at least $1 million a year a savings of $70.3 billion — or about $1.6 million apiece, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Hedge-fund investors and real estate business owners are “far and away” the ones who will benefit the most, tax expert Steve Rosenthal [said]. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) claimed that “someone wrongly seized on this health emergency to reward ultrarich beneficiaries.” “For those earning $1 million annually, a tax break buried in the recent coronavirus relief legislation is so generous that its total cost is more than total new funding for all hospitals in America and more than the total provided to all state and local governments,” he stressed in a statement.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading health expert and member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, predicted three years ago that the administration would have to deal with a surprise disease outbreak. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told a Georgetown University event on pandemic preparedness in January 2017 that there was "no doubt" President Trump's team would face "challenges that their predecessors were faced with" over infectious diseases. He also called for the creation of a "public health emergency fund" aimed at handling situations such as a surprise virus outbreak, adding that waits for funding had been "painful" in the past. Delivering a keynote speech at the Georgetown University Medical Center event, Dr. Fauci said: "If there's one message that I want to leave with you today... is that there is no question that there will be a challenge to the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases. "Both chronic infectious diseases in the sense of already ongoing disease, and we have certainly a large burden of that, but also there will be a surprise outbreak." "And I hope by the end of my relatively short presentation you will understand why history ... will tell the next administration that there's no doubt in anyone's mind that they will be faced with the challenges that their predecessors were faced with." He went on to note that over his career he had advised several president's on a range of emerging infectious diseases.
Note: How could Fauci possibly have known with such certainty back in 2017 that there would be a surprise outbreak? Something is fishy here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Stimulus checks are right now being sent to millions of Americans in a desperate bid to offset the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus checks are being wired to eligible people's bank accounts with some 50 million to 70 million of them expected to appear in accounts tomorrow. However, Congress did not exempt the CARES Act stimulus checks from private debt collection and Bank of America, Citibank, and U.S. Bank have not ruled out using payments to offset outstanding debts. The Treasury Department last week appeared to green light banks to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to collect prior debt, it has been reported by The American Prospect magazine, citing leaked audio from a meeting with bank officials. Bank of America, Citibank, and U.S. Bank failed to clarify their position on whether stimulus checks would be used to pay off outstanding debts, with JPMorgan Chase confirming it would return the money to the government so the recipient can get the full benefit of the stimulus and Wells Fargo promising it won't use the stimulus checks to pay down negative balances. The report has caused frustration among the progressive financial community. "Money should be harder to seize," Neeraj Agrawal of cryptocurrency policy think tank Coincentre said. An early draft stimulus bill put together by the U.S. Democratic Party did include a provision for a so-called digital dollar that would have allowed the stimulus checks to bypass bank accounts ... but it was cut from the final bill.
Our government, in order to save millions of small businesses that face financial ruin caused by forced closings and “shelter-in-place” orders, has approved $350bn to aid those flailing businesses. In order to get this money to as many businesses as fast as possible, the government decides to ... lean on the already established Small Business Administration (SBA) and its vast network of member banks. They do this with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was part of a $2.2tn stimulus bill. “Just loan these desperate small businesses money,” the government tells these banks. “We’ll guarantee it, and even forgive it.” Some banks – particularly smaller, independent banks ... were the first to process loan applications for their struggling small business customers last Friday when the SBA opened their loan window. And then there’s Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup who have all said “not so fast”. These banks last week, at such a critical moment, gathered together and decided to slow things down. They limited loans only to customers and credit card holders. They came up with “new” lending requirements and asked for more documentation over and above SBA guidelines. They capped the amount of loans they would make. Choosing to only favor customers over everyone else, requiring excessive documentation or capping loans was a bad and misguided decision. Not being more proactive in the weeks they had to prepare was poor planning.
A few days after preliminary results from a large-scale antibody study in Santa Clara County suggested coronavirus infections in the county are underreported by a factor as large as 50 to 85, results from a newly-released antibody study conducted in Los Angeles County contained similar findings. The L.A. antibody study was conducted by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Unlike the Stanford study, where participants were recruited via Facebook ads, participants in the Los Angeles County were recruited by market services firm LRW Group, which used a large proprietary database to create a random sample of the county population. Of the 1,000 individuals tested in early April, 4.1 percent were found to have COVID-19 antibodies. When adjusting for statistical margin of error, the study finds that 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent of the county's adult population has already been infected, which translates to 221,000 to 442,000 people. If infections are this vastly underreported, then the mortality rate of COVID-19 is substantially lower than current estimates. The Stanford researchers ... projected deaths through April 22 and divided that figure by the number of infections to calculate a "true" mortality rate of .12 to .20 percent when using the weighted figures. Using the unweighted numbers ... one gets a "true" mortality rate of .35 percent, a number almost identical to the mortality rate calculated following antibody tests in a hard-hit German town.
Note: The WHO has claimed a mortality rate of 3.4%, 10 times higher than these studies are showing. The Washington Post on April 17th wrote a very misleading article with "U.S. coronavirus fatality rate rises to 5 percent" as part of the headline, despite knowing about the above study. Could it be that fear mongering serves the WHO, the media, and elites? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Countries like the UK that have closed schools to help stop the spread of coronavirus should ask hard questions about whether this is now the right policy, says one team of scientists. The University College London team says keeping pupils off has little impact, even with other lockdown measures. The research, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, looked at 16 studies - some based on the spread of coronavirus, and others on seasonal flu and the 2003 Sars outbreak. While school closures help during influenza outbreaks, the same may not apply to coronavirus. Data from the Sars outbreak ... suggest that school closures did not contribute to the control of the epidemic. Recent modelling studies of Covid-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2%-4% of deaths, many fewer than other social distancing interventions. One of the research authors, Prof Russell Viner, said: "Data on the benefit of school closures in the coronavirus outbreak is limited, but what we know shows that their impact is likely to be only small. Additionally, the costs of national school closures are high - children's education is damaged and their mental health may suffer, family finances are affected. Policymakers need to be aware of the equivocal evidence." He says policymakers must weigh up the possible harms and reopen schools at the earliest opportunity - and not necessarily wait until September if it can be done safely sooner.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
It might not be until fall 2021 that Americans “can be completely safe” from COVID-19, Bill Gates said in a Tuesday interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour. That’s because it will take more than a year before a vaccine can be developed and deployed, according to researchers working to develop a treatment for COVID-19. “The vaccine is critical, because, until you have that, things aren’t really going to be normal,” the billionaire philanthropist told Woodruff. “They can open up to some degree, but the risk of a rebound will be there until we have very broad vaccination.” Social distancing is helping to lower the number of COVID-19 cases. The goal, Gates explained, is to get that number down to a point where “contact tracing” (a process in which those within close contact with an infected person are closely monitored) can be done, in order to maintain necessary quarantines. To understand what life in the U.S. will look like six to 12 months from now, Gates suggested China as a good model. “They are sending people back to work, but they’re wearing masks. They’re checking temperatures. They’re not doing large sporting events. And so they have been able to avoid a large rebound,” he said. Beyond that, “returning to some semblance of normal,” as Woodruff put it, can be predicted by watching the behaviors of other countries. Sweden, for example, isn’t “locking down quite as much,” so their experience will be informative, Gates explained.
Note: In this video interview, Gates says we need to vaccinate everyone in the world. And he wants indemnity in case the vaccine he sponsors ends up killing or injuring many. Learn more about how Gates uses his billions to gain political power. And don't miss this most important video focused on how he is using fear of the virus to promote his agenda to require a "digital certificate" to ensure they've been vaccinated. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
As millions of jobless Americans line up for food and others risk their lives delivering essential services, the nation's billionaires are making conspicuous donations - $100 million from Amazon's Jeff Bezos for food banks, billions from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for a coronavirus vaccine, thousands of ventilators and N95 masks from Elon Musk, $25 million from the Walton family and its Walmart foundation. The list goes on. Much of this is self-serving rubbish. First off, the amounts involved are tiny relative to the fortunes behind them. Bezos' $100 million amounts to about 11 days of his income. The well-publicized philanthropy also conveniently distracts attention from how several of these billionaires are endangering their workers and, by extension, the public. Bezos still doesn't provide sick leave for Amazon workers unless they test positive. On March 20, four senators sent him a letter expressing concern that the company wasn't doing enough to protect its warehouse workers. [Another] way conspicuous philanthropy is self-serving is by suggesting that government shouldn't demand more from the super-rich, even in a national emergency. As Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal editorial page put it, if we had a wealth tax like Elizabeth Warren proposed, "it's unlikely [Bill Gates] would have the capacity to act this boldly." That's absurd. Warren's tax would have cost Gates about $6 billion a year, roughly his annual income from his $100 billion. The worst fear of the billionaire class is that the government's response to the pandemic will lead to a permanently larger social safety net.
The statewide order to shelter in place that went into effect on March 20 had a beneficial side-effect: Accidents, injuries and fatalities on California roadways were cut in half, saving the state and residents of California $1 billion, according to a UC Davis study. In the 22 days after the shelter-in-place order (March 21-April 11), there was an average of 450 vehicle collisions per day throughout the state, according to the study conducted by the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis. During the same period in 2019, there were 1,128 collisions per day. In the 22 days prior to sheltering in place, there were 1,056 accidents per day. “The reduction in traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities is a bit of a silver lining for people who are staying at home and who are impacted by the pandemic,” said ... project lead author Fraser Shilling. "The reduction in numbers of all collisions, injury, and fatal collision was equivalent to a $40 million/day savings in costs and about $1 billion in savings since the Governor’s order went into effect," the study concluded. The figures were calculated using Federal Highway Administration data, which includes savings from "property damage, treatment of injuries, lost time at work, emergency responses, insurance claims, and the equivalent cost of a life." Not surprisingly, the study found that traffic volume decreased 20% to as much as 55%. "There is no equivalent in our recent transportation history to such large changes in vehicle movement on our state and local roads," the study said.
The world is at risk of widespread famines "of biblical proportions" caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN has warned. David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme (WFP), said urgent action was needed to avoid a catastrophe. A report estimates that the number suffering from hunger could go from 135 million to more than 250 million. Even before the pandemic hit, parts of East Africa and South Asia were already facing severe food shortages caused by drought and the worst locust infestations for decades. Addressing the UN Security Council ... Mr Beasley said... "We could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months". The WFP chief - who has just recovered from Covid-19 - began his Security Council briefing by saying "excuse me for speaking bluntly." There is no blunting what could happen in a world facing - even before this global health crisis - what David Beasley called the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War. In an interview, he also expressed fear that 30 million people, and possibly more, could die in a matter of months if the UN does not secure more funding and food. The WFP's senior economist, Arif Husain, said the economic impact of the pandemic was potentially catastrophic for millions "who are already hanging by a thread". "It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage," he said in a statement. "Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock - like Covid-19 - to push them over the edge."
Note: This Reuters article also claims that the coronavirus could plunge half a billion worldwide into poverty. Though some of this may be fear-mongering to get more money and is quite typical of the media, the article does raise serious questions about the numbers that could die as a direct result of the global lockdown. So who is this lockdown really serving? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from a great equalizer. In the same month that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, the American billionaire class’s total wealth increased about 10%—or $282 billion more than it was at the beginning of March. They now have a combined net worth of $3.229 trillion. The initial stock market crash may have dented some net worths at first—for instance, that of Jeff Bezos, which dropped down to a mere $105 billion on March 12. But his riches have rebounded: As of April 15, his net worth has increased by $25 billion. These “pandemic profiteers,” as a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, calls them, is just one piece of the wealth inequality puzzle in America. In the background is the fact that since 1980, the taxes paid by billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, dropped 79%. “We’re reading about benevolent billionaires sharing .0001% of their wealth with their fellow humans in this crisis, but in fact they’ve been rigging the tax rules to reduce their taxes for decades—money that could have been spent building a better public health infrastructure,” says Chuck Collins [of] the Institute for Policy Studies and coauthor of the new report, titled “Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers.” Another key finding of the report is that after the 2008 financial crisis, it took less than 30 months for billionaire wealth to return to its pre-meltdown levels. That wealth then quickly exceeded pre-2008 levels. But as of 2019, the middle class in America has not even yet recovered to the level of its 2007 net worth.
Note: This New York Post article shows how 43,000 millionaires in the U.S. will receive a "stimulus" gift averaging $1.6 million each. At the same time, this Reuters article claims that the coronavirus lockdown could plunge half a billion worldwide into poverty. And this BBC article warns of potential massive famines. So who is this lockdown really serving? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Sweden's strategy to keep large parts of society open is widely backed by the public. It has been devised by scientists and backed by government. There is no lockdown here. On the face of it little has shut down. But data suggests the vast majority of the population have taken to voluntary social distancing, which is the crux of Sweden's strategy to slow the spread of the virus. Usage of public transport has dropped significantly [and] large numbers are working from home. The government has also banned gatherings of more than 50 people and visits to elderly care homes. Around 9 in 10 Swedes say they keep at least a metre away from people at least some of the time. In Stockholm, the epicentre of the virus so far, cases have largely plateaued, although there was a spike at the end of this week, put down partly to increased testing. There is still space in intensive care units and a new field hospital at a former conference venue is yet to be used. The Swedish Public Health Agency has maintained high approval ratings throughout the pandemic. Sweden's decision to leave larger parts of society open than most of Europe came after [chief epidemiologist] Dr Tegnell's team used simulations which anticipated a more limited impact of the virus in relation to population size than those made by other scientists. A core aim was to introduce less stringent social distancing measures that could be maintained over a long period of time. Schools for under-16s have remained open to enable parents to keep working. Unlike in some countries, Sweden's statistics do include elderly care home residents, who account for around 50% of all deaths. Dr Tegnell admits that is a major concern. History will judge which countries got it right.
Note: This excellent graph of deaths per million for coronavirus among 12 major countries shows that Sweden is in the middle of the pack, where if lockdown made a big difference, we would expect it to be at or near the top of the group. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
A series of missteps at the nation's top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus. President Donald Trump assured Americans early this month that the COVID-19 test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is "perfect" and that "anyone who wants a test can get a test." But more than two months after the first U.S. case of the new disease was confirmed, many people still cannot get tested. Four primary issues ... hampered the national response — the early decision not to use the test adopted by the World Health Organization, flaws with the more complex test developed by the CDC, government guidelines restricting who could be tested and delays in engaging the private sector to ramp up testing capacity. By mid-February, only about a half-dozen state and local public health labs had reliable tests. But still, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield continued to insist his agency had developed "a very accurate test." "We found that, in some of the states, it didn't work," Redfield said earlier this month. As more sick people sought to be tested, many states were forced to limit access because of the flawed CDC test. Accounts began to emerge ... of people with all the symptoms of COVID-19 who either couldn't get tested or had test results delayed. On Feb. 29, only 472 patients had been tested nationwide, with just 22 cases confirmed, according to CDC data. By comparison, South Korea ... mobilized to test more than 20,000 people a day.
Note: Explore a ZeroHedge article titled "Whistleblower: How CDC Is Manipulating The COVID-19 Death-Toll." A BMJ article titled "Covid-19: four fifths of cases are asymptomatic, China figures indicate" quotes one epidemiologist as asking "What the hell are we locking down for?" For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
A woman with COVID-19 at a Solano County hospital — the nation’s first case from an unknown source — exposed 121 health workers to the coronavirus, yet only three got the disease, a new study of the February case reveals. All three had been in close contact for about two hours with the patient, and two had no protective gear, according to the report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those workers also examined the patient and performed treatments that involved close contact, such as placing her on a breathing machine. The researchers tested just 43 of the 121 workers for the coronavirus because only they had developed a cough or other symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 patients within two weeks after exposure. Across the country, more than 9,200 health workers out of an estimated 18 million have the disease, the CDC reported Tuesday in a separate paper, which notes that the number probably understates the true number of coronavirus infections. Dr. Robert Siegel, an infectious disease expert at Stanford, called the relatively low infection rate from the Solano County patient a hopeful sign. But he added that public health officials should remain vigilant in protecting workers. “The results are promising for health care workers. It means that the risk may be less than we thought,” Siegel said.
Note: If only three out of 121 got the virus, and those three all had prolonged exposure, how contagious really is it? Explore a ZeroHedge article titled "Whistleblower: How CDC Is Manipulating The COVID-19 Death-Toll." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Amid a humanitarian crisis compounded by mass layoffs and collapsing economic activity, the last course our legislators should be following is the one they appear to be on right now: bailing out shareholders and executives who, while enriching themselves, spent the past decade pushing business corporations to the edge of insolvency. The $500bn dollars of public money that Congress’s relief bill provides will be used for a corporate bailout, with the only oversight in the hands of an independent council similar to the one used in the 2008 financial crisis. While that body was able to report misuses of taxpayer money, it could do nothing to stop them. As currently structured, there is nothing to keep this bailout from, like its predecessor, putting cash directly into the hands of those at the top rather than into the hands of workers. Without strong regulation and accountability, asking corporations to preserve jobs with these funds will be nothing more than a simple suggestion, leaving millions of everyday Americans in financial peril. If not properly managed, this economic disaster has the potential to be the worst in American history. Our country cannot allow a small number of executives and shareholders to profit from taxpayer funds that we have injected into these corporations for reasons of pure emergency. We need to stop this rot at the core of our economic system and realign the priorities of government with those of workers and consumers.
When this public health crisis first morphed into a financial one as well, the Federal Reserve sprang into action, pouring trillions of dollars into the financial system in less than a week; providing short-term loans to banks; slashing a key interest rate virtually to zero; announcing that the Fed would begin buying $700 billion worth of U.S. government bonds and mortgage-backed securities. The Fed gave itself the authority to purchase up to $1 trillion in commercial paper to support the flow of credit. An eight-second video from 2009 [shows] Ben Bernanke, the Fed chair at the time, explaining how the central bank comes up with the money to pull off these trillion-dollar maneuvers. “It’s not tax money,” Mr. Bernanke explained on “60 Minutes.” “We simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account.” Heads exploded. Many people replying to the tweet complained that we’re ... coming to the rescue of Wall Street instead of Main Street. “If the Fed can do this for the banks,” they wondered, “why can’t we find the money to pay for programs that would improve life for everyday Americans?” When called upon, the same computer that works for large banks is there for Main Street as well. But the Federal Reserve needs specific instructions before typing up dollars for the rest of us. Those instructions come in the form of legislation: When a bill becomes a law, the government is, in essence, telling the Fed how many dollars it is ordering up.
As many other countries, the Netherlands is taking measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Compared to other countries, though, these measures seem relatively mild and relaxed. Unlike all its direct neighboring countries ... there is no hard lockdown, hardly any visible surveillance, very limited testing and borders remain open. And yet, as the recent decreasing daily numbers of new cases, hospital intakes and deceased patients show, the measures are not necessarily less effective. Over the past few weeks, a vocabulary has emerged that describes the Dutch approach to COVID-19. In addition to the widely used “flattening the curve,” it consists of “intelligent lockdown,” “self-regulation,” “decentralization” and “group immunity.” Instead of stopping the virus, the approach is based on the idea of creating group immunity, or herd immunity. The best way to “control” the virus, it is assumed, is to control the number of infections step by step, so that people gradually build up immunity. Altogether the Dutch approach is characterized as a “1.5 meter economy.” It focuses on people taking individual responsibility to keep a distance of 1.5 meter. Wherever it cannot be reasonably assumed that people can maintain this distance themselves - for example at a festival or soccer game - government takes measures. But for the rest, it is left to individual citizens to keep this distance. This approach should slow down the speed of spreading the virus, while at the same time maintaining individual freedom.
Note: Check out an informative graph showing deaths per million population from the coronavirus in 10 major countries. Note that the Netherlands is in the middle of the pack, even though they are not in full lockdown. Could it be the the lockdown policies don't have much effect on death rates? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The fallout from the coronavirus spread that has killed more than 83,000 people and wreaked havoc on economies around the world could push around half a billion people into poverty, Oxfam said on Thursday. The report released by the Nairobi-based charity ahead of next week's International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank annual meeting calculated the impact of the crisis on global poverty due to shrinking household incomes or consumption. "The economic crisis that is rapidly unfolding is deeper than the 2008 global financial crisis," the report found. "The estimates show that, regardless of the scenario, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990," it said, adding that this could throw some countries back to poverty levels last seen some three decades ago. Under the most serious scenario - a 20% contraction in income - the number of people living in extreme poverty would rise by 434 million people to nearly 1.2 billion worldwide. Women are at more risk than men, as they are more likely to work in the informal economy with little or no employment rights. "Living day to day, the poorest people do not have the ability to take time off work, or to stockpile provisions," the report warned, adding that more than 2 billion informal sector workers worldwide had no access to sick pay. To help mitigate the impact, Oxfam proposed a six point action plan that would deliver cash grants and bailouts to people and businesses in need, and also called for debt cancellation, more IMF support, and increased aid.
Note: The New York Times strangely removed this article. Yet it is also available on the Reuters website. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to use a never-before-used power that allows the president to adjourn Congress if the House and Senate won't voluntarily adjourn, so he can appoint judges and other executive branch officials without the Senate's approval. At Wednesday's White House Coronavirus Task Force daily briefing, Trump claimed that 129 unconfirmed nominees were stuck in limbo because of "partisan obstruction" by Democrats despite the fact that Republicans ... control the pace at which nominees are confirmed. Under the U.S. Constitution, "Officers of the United States" are appointed with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. This category includes all federal judges, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries and the heads of many federal agencies. While the Constitution provides for the president to make recess appointments to fill positions when Congress has adjourned, presidents have largely been unable to exercise that authority since 2006, when Democrats took control of Congress and began holding pro forma sessions every few days without formally adjourning, to circumvent the requirement that neither chamber adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other. Because the Democratic-controlled House has not consented to the Republican-controlled Senate adjourning, both chambers have been holding the brief sessions, which has denied Trump the ability to fill vacancies with nominees who might not be able to gain the Senate's approval.
It began Friday night, when Trump informed Congress that he was firing Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general. This was nothing more than a vile act of political retribution. Atkinson fulfilled his legal responsibilities by informing Congress about a whistleblower complaint that exposed Trump’s impeachable crimes. What everyone else recognizes as following the letter of the law, the president views as cause for termination. On Monday, Trump turned his attention to the inspector general who oversees the Department of Health and Human Services, who had just released a report revealing the extent to which hospitals were struggling to meet the health care demands associated with treating COVID-19 patients. Trump labeled the report a “Fake Dossier” and suggested “politics” influenced it. On Tuesday, the president removed Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine. He had just been designated to oversee the newly created Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a watchdog panel authorized by Congress to conduct oversight of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. The same day, Trump said he had seven IGs in his sights. In the course of three days, Trump fired an IG for telling the truth, attacked another for exposing the totality of a health care pandemic, and removed another in a brazen effort to avoid being held accountable for how trillions of taxpayer dollars will be allocated. The sum of these actions is nothing short of blatant corruption.
New Zealand’s prime minister has said she and other ministers will take a 20% pay cut lasting six months to show solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll continues to rise. Jacinda Ardern said it was important the government’s most highly paid politicians show “leadership and solidarity” with workers on the frontline and those who had lost their livelihoods. Ardern, government ministers and public service chief executives will take the cut for six months, effective immediately. The pay cut will reduce Ardern’s salary by $47,104. Cabinet ministers would take a cut of NZ$26,900 each, while deputy prime minister Winston Peters’ salary would be cut by $33,473. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health who has led the elimination response to the crisis, confirmed he would “definitely” take a pay cut too, as would opposition leader Simon Bridges. Ardern said: “If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now. I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action … it is about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need.” The International Monetary Fund is forecasting that the New Zealand economy will shrink by 7.2% this year. In its World Economic Outlook, it says New Zealand will see the biggest economic contraction outside Europe, except for Venezuela.
A New York City landlord is giving his 200 tenants one less thing to worry about amid the coronavirus pandemic as he waived rent for the month of April. "I want everybody to be healthy. That's the whole thing," Mario Salerno told NBC New York. Salerno, 59, owns roughly 80 apartments across Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He said after some of his tenants told him that they were worried about paying rent because they lost their jobs due to the pandemic, he decided to take action. On March 30, he posted a notice on the front doors of all of his buildings announcing, "Due to the recent pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month for April." One of his tenants said she's been out of work since she was ordered to shut down her hair salon. "He's Superman. He's a wonderful man," Kaitlyn Guteski told NBC New York. "It's a game-changer." Salerno said he knows he will take a big hit this month, but isn't worried. "For me, it was more important for people's health and worrying about who could put food on whose table," he told the outlet. "I say don't worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family." He said he hopes other landlords will do the same, and some have. Nathan Nichols, who owns two units in Portland, Maine, told his tenants ... that they don't have to worry about paying the rent for April. In San Diego, California, Jeff Larabee's 18 tenants were told that they would not have to pay rent for the next three months.
With large parts of Europe in lockdown in response to the covid-19 pandemic, one country stands out: Sweden has no mandatory quarantines and few limitations on free movement. Elementary schools remain open; malls, gyms and shopping streets are far from empty. Some sidewalk cafes are still bustling with life. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has urged Swedes to apply “common sense.” While this soft approach stunned the rest of Europe, Sweden maintained that it will turn out to be more effective. In the past few weeks, the country has experienced a bizarre nationalistic wave dubbed “public health nationalism” ... which celebrates Sweden as an island of common sense in a sea of panic and resistance to science. According to this narrative promulgated by authorities and media alike, cultural exceptionalism — such as high public trust –– makes Sweden particularly well-equipped to manage the pandemic. Sweden’s influential former state epidemiologist Johan Giesecke [stated] ”I think we will manage the epidemic without destroying the economy more than necessary. The absolutely most important thing is to protect the elderly from getting infected. I think we succeed quite well in that. The public has been assured that Sweden will outperform other countries. Indeed, Sweden ranks among the lowest of 26 surveyed countries when it comes to fear of the coronavirus in a recent YouGov poll –– even though the country ranks fifth-highest in per capita deaths of the countries surveyed. Time will tell.
Note: Check out an informative graph showing deaths per million population from the coronavirus in 10 major countries. Note that Sweden is in the middle of the pack, even though they are not in lockdown. Could it be the the lockdown policies don't have much effect on death rates? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
It's just after lunchtime at a central Seoul market and a crowd in hot pink jackets is gathering. Pink is the color of the country's main opposition party, the conservative United Future Party, and this crowd of supporters is staging a legal campaign rally ahead of Wednesday's election of 300 members of the National Assembly. Large public gatherings are a jarring sight during a pandemic. But South Korea has never postponed an election before -- and the coronavirus is not stopping this one. South Korea peaked early, prompting praise for the government's handling of the pandemic. The country isn't in lockdown, and of the more than 10,500 confirmed cases, more than 7,400 have recovered. Nevertheless, South Korea has made a number of election concessions for the virus. More than 11 million people -- or 26.7% of registered voters -- cast their vote in advance to avoid crowds, according to the National Election Commission. Voters CNN talked to were supportive of the decision to go ahead. Some said the pandemic made voting even more important.
Note: How is it that South Korea is not in lockdown, yet as this revealing graph shows, it has a lower death rate per million than any of the other 12 major countries listed except Japan, which also did not have a lockdown until April 14th. Read this excellent article on how they beat the virus without a major lockdown. For our best articles filled with reliable, verifiable information on the coronavirus, see this article and this one. Several more excellent essays can be found here. Key major media news articles on the pandemic are available here.
It has long been assumed by medical experts that the United States is drastically underreporting the actual number of COVID-19 infections across the country due to limited testing and a high number of asymptomatic cases. Large-scale antibody tests are expected to give researchers an idea of just how widespread the outbreak is, and preliminary results from the first such test in Santa Clara County suggest we are underreporting cases by at least a factor of 50. In early April, Stanford University researchers conducted an antibody test of 3,300 residents in the county. Researchers hoped to put together a sample that was representative of the county's population by selecting individuals based on their age, race, gender and zip code to extrapolate study results to the larger community. The results of the study are preliminary and not peer-reviewed, but the general takeaways would seem to strongly contribute to the notion that there have been a large number of COVID-19 cases that went undetected. Researchers estimate that... the true number of total cases in early April — both active and recovered — ranges between 48,000 and 81,000. The county had reported just under 1,000 cases at the time the study was conducted, which would mean cases are being underreported by a factor of 50 to 85. If the study's numbers are accurate, the true mortality and hospitalization rates of COVID-19 are both substantially lower than current estimates, and due to lag between infection and death, researchers project a true mortality rate between .12 and .20.
Note: See a BMJ article titled "Covid-19: four fifths of cases are asymptomatic." The World Health Organizations in March was claiming a mortality rate of 2 to 4%, which is about 20 times the amount found in this study. Could this be an example of fear mongering? For our best articles filled with reliable, verifiable information on the coronavirus, see this article and this one. And for the critical future implications of all this, explore this penetrating essay. Several more excellent essays can be found here. Key major media news articles on the pandemic are available here.
The US [provided a] $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan-based laboratory carrying out research on virus derived from bat caves. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was conducting the coronavirus experiments on mammals, with funds received from the United States National Institute of Health. The NIH has been listed as a partner by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Other American institutes that have partnered with the research lab, include: University of Alabama, University of North Texas Eco Health Alliance [and] Harvard University. WIV ... has more than 1,500 strains of deadly viruses stored and specialises in research of 'the most dangerous pathogens', in particular the viruses carried by bats. The project released its first research in November 2017 ... titled 'Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus.' Hitting out at the US government, US Congressman Matt Gaetz said: "I'm disgusted to learn that for years the US government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus." Conspiracy theories have been hinting at the possibility of the virus being developed in the WIV. Last week, Cao Bin, a doctor at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital ... revealed that out of the first 41 cases found positive for coronavirus, 13 had no contact with the wildlife market, raising the doubts that the virus was in fact lab originated. 'It seems clear that the seafood market is not the only origin of the virus,' he said.
Note: Newsweek reported that in 2017, Anthony Fauci predicted a "surprise outbreak" during Trump's presidency. Respected author Peter Breggin, M.D., has uncovered more on how the U.S. and China collaborated to transform an animal coronavirus into one that can attack humans. Don't miss his excellent essay with a link direct to the study, which was published in the prestigious British journal Nature. Why was an FDA official involved and why was NIH funding a project that enabled the Chinese to develop a military weapon or to accidentally or purposely cause an epidemic?
In Hungary, the prime minister can now rule by decree. In Britain, ministers have what a critic called “eye-watering” power to detain people and close borders. Israel’s prime minister has shut down courts and begun an intrusive surveillance of citizens. Chile has sent the military to public squares once occupied by protesters. Bolivia has postponed elections. As the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a juddering halt and anxious citizens demand action, leaders across the globe are invoking executive powers and seizing virtually dictatorial authority with scant resistance. Critics say some governments are using the public health crisis as cover to seize new powers that have little to do with the outbreak, with few safeguards to ensure that their new authority will not be abused. The laws are taking swift hold across a broad range of political systems — in authoritarian states like Jordan, faltering democracies like Hungary, and traditional democracies like Britain. And there are few sunset provisions to ensure that the powers will be rescinded once the threat passes. “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. As the new laws broaden state surveillance, allow governments to detain people indefinitely and infringe on freedoms of assembly and expression, they could also shape civic life, politics and economies for decades to come.
The Covid-19 pandemic is now giving Russian authorities an opportunity to test new powers and technology, and the country's privacy and free-speech advocates worry the government is building sweeping new surveillance capabilities. Perhaps the most well-publicized tech tool in Russia's arsenal for fighting coronavirus is Moscow's massive facial-recognition system. Rolled out earlier this year, the surveillance system had originally prompted an unusual public backlash, with privacy advocates filing lawsuits over unlawful surveillance. Coronavirus, however, has given an unexpected public-relations boost to the system. Last week, Moscow police claimed to have caught and fined 200 people who violated quarantine and self-isolation using facial recognition and a 170,000-camera system. Some of the alleged violators who were fined had been outside for less than half a minute before they were picked up by a camera. And then there's the use of geolocation to track coronavirus carriers. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin earlier this week ordered Russia's Ministry of Communications to roll out a tracking system based on "the geolocation data from the mobile providers for a specific person" by the end of this week. According to a description in the government decree, information gathered under the tracking system will be used to send texts to those who have come into contact with a coronavirus carrier, and to notify regional authorities so they can put individuals into quarantine.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution. The move comes amid an influx of requests from businesses for a relaxation of regulations as they face layoffs, personnel restrictions and other problems related to the coronavirus outbreak. Issued by the E.P.A.’s top compliance official, Susan P. Bodine, the policy sets new guidelines for companies to monitor themselves for an undetermined period of time during the outbreak and says that the agency will not issue fines for violations of certain air, water and hazardous-waste-reporting requirements. Companies are normally required to report when their factories discharge certain levels of pollution. The order asks companies to “act responsibly” if they cannot ... monitor or report the release of hazardous air pollution. Businesses, it said, should “minimize the effects and duration of any noncompliance” and keep records to report to the agency how Covid-19 restrictions prevented them from meeting pollution rules. Gina McCarthy, who led the E.P.A. under the Obama administration ... called it “an open license to pollute.” She said that while individual companies might need flexibility, “this brazen directive is nothing short of an abject abdication of the E.P.A. mission to protect our well being.”
Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and Covid-19 death rates. In an analysis of 3,080 counties in the United States, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. For weeks, public health officials have surmised a link between dirty air and death or serious illness from Covid-19. The Harvard analysis is the first nationwide study to show a statistical link, revealing a “large overlap” between Covid-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter. The paper found that if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate matter level by just a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the borough would most likely have seen 248 fewer Covid-19 deaths by this point in the outbreak. The paper ... found that just a slight increase in long-term pollution exposure could have serious coronavirus-related consequences, even accounting for other factors like smoking rates and population density. The study also could have far-reaching implications for clean-air regulations, which the Trump administration has worked to roll back over the past three years.
Politicians, celebrities, social media influencers and even N.B.A. teams have been tested for the new coronavirus. But as that list of rich, famous and powerful people grows by the day, so do questions about whether they are getting access to testing that is denied to other Americans. With testing still in short supply in areas of the country, leaving health care workers and many sick people unable to get diagnoses, some prominent personalities have obtained tests without exhibiting symptoms or having known contact with someone who has the virus. In areas of the country where the virus has been slow to appear, people have been able to obtain tests easily. But in New York, California, Washington State and Massachusetts, where the virus has spread rapidly and demand for tests is most high, it is very difficult. The New York City Health Department has directed doctors only to order tests for patients in need of hospitalization. People with mild symptoms are being told to quarantine themselves at home. Even health care workers, at high risk of contracting the virus and transmitting it, have struggled to get tested. Police chiefs across the country are growing concerned that they cannot get their hands on tests. “What’s frustrating is to continue to hear that there aren’t testing kits available, and my rank and file have to continue to answer calls for service while professional athletes and movie stars are getting tested without even showing any symptoms,” said Eddie Garcia, the police chief of San Jose, Calif..
President Trump moved on Tuesday to oust the leader of a new watchdog panel charged with overseeing how his administration spends trillions of taxpayer dollars in coronavirus pandemic relief, the latest step in an abruptly unfolding White House power play against semi-independent inspectors general across the government. The official, Glenn A. Fine, has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before Mr. Trump took office and was set to become the chairman of a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to police how the government carries out the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. But Mr. Trump replaced Mr. Fine in his Pentagon job. In recent days, [Mr. Trump] fired an inspector general who reviewed the whistle-blower complaint that led to his impeachment, nominated a White House aide to another key inspector general post, declared that he would ignore certain oversight provisions in the new relief law and attacked another inspector general who criticized virus testing shortages. In removing Mr. Fine from his role overseeing pandemic spending, Mr. Trump targeted a former Justice Department inspector general who earned a reputation for aggressive independence in scrutinizing the F.B.I.’s use of surveillance and other law enforcement powers in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Replacing Mr. Fine ... will be Sean O’Donnell, who serves as the inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency and will do double duty.
Note: This 2015 article suggests that inspectors general have been under fire since the Obama administration. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
I am writing to you from Italy, which means I am writing from your future. We are now where you will be in a few days. As we watch you from here, from your future, we know that many of you, as you were told to lock yourselves up into your homes, quoted Orwell, some even Hobbes. But soon you’ll be too busy for that. First of all, you’ll eat. Not just because it will be one of the few last things that you can still do. Old resentments and falling-outs will seem irrelevant. You will call people you had sworn never to talk to ever again, so as to ask them: “How are you doing?” You’ll laugh. You’ll laugh a lot. You’ll flaunt a gallows humour you never had before. Even people who’ve always taken everything dead seriously will contemplate the absurdity of life, of the universe and of it all. You will count all the things you do not need. The true nature of the people around you will be revealed with total clarity. You will have confirmations and surprises. Those who invite you to see all this mess as an opportunity for planetary renewal will help you to put things in a larger perspective. You will also find them terribly annoying: nice, the planet is breathing better because of the halved CO2 emissions, but how will you pay your bills next month? You will not understand if witnessing the birth of a new world is more a grandiose or a miserable affair. You will play music from your windows and lawns. When you saw us singing opera from our balconies, you thought “ah, those Italians”. But we know you will sing uplifting songs to each other too.
Note: The above was written by acclaimed Italian novelist Francesca Melandri. Note that the number of people dying from the coronavirus in Italy has been gradually decreasing since it peaked on March 26th. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
An international poll of thousands of doctors rated the Trump-touted anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine the best treatment for the novel coronavirus. Of the 2,171 physicians surveyed, 37 percent rated hydroxychloroquine the “most effective therapy” for combating the potentially deadly illness. The survey, conducted by the global health care polling company Sermo, also found that 23 percent of medical professionals had prescribed the drug in the US — far less than other countries. “Outside the US, hydroxychloroquine was equally used for diagnosed patients with mild to severe symptoms whereas in the US it was most commonly used for high risk diagnosed patients,” the survey found. The medicine was most widely used in Spain, where 72 percent of physicians said they had prescribed it. Of the 2,171 doctors asked which drug is most effective, 37 said hydroxychloroquine. By contrast, 32 percent answered “nothing.” To date, “there is no evidence” that any medicine “can prevent or cure the disease,” according to the World Health Organization. But Sermo CEO Peter Kirk called the polling results a “treasure trove of global insights for policymakers.” “Physicians should have more of a voice in how we deal with this pandemic and be able to quickly share information with one another and the world,” he said in a press release. The 30 countries where doctors were surveyed included Europe, South America and Australia — and no incentives were provided to participate, the company said.
Note: How interesting that very few major media reported on this. Could it be because this drug is inexpensive and big Pharma, which hugely sponsors the major media, won't make big profits? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Bill Gates ... just called for a complete and utter shutdown and quarantining of the entire American nation. “Despite urging from public health experts,” Gates wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece, “some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down ... no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown.” He then added that the impacts of the new coronavirus could linger another 18 months or so, until a vaccine was developed. For the peons of America, work isn’t an option. It’s food. It’s survival. The fate of a hard-earned dream shouldn’t rest with a globalist billionaire who’s warning of dire coronavirus consequences to come — all the while making hands-over-fist coronavirus money. It’s a conflict of interest. WHO didn’t announce the coronavirus as a pandemic until the very day after Gates ... made a very large donation to a cause that benefits WHO. In a 2017 piece titled, “Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates,” Politico wrote: “Some billionaires are satisfied with buying themselves an island. Bill Gates got a United Nations health agency. Over the past decade, the world’s richest man has become the World Health Organization’s second-biggest donor, second only to the United States. … This largesse gives him outsized influence over its agenda. … The result, say his critics, is that Gates‘ priorities have become the WHO‘s.”
Very Important Note: To understand how the coronavirus is being used to exert more control over humanity, don't miss this incredibly important video focused on how Bill Gates is using fear around the coronavirus to push through his agenda to vaccinate everyone on the planet and then require a "digital certificate" to ensure they've been vaccinated. For other reliable, verifiable informing demonstrating how Gates' vaccine agenda has already harmed hundreds of thousands of children read this excellent article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Tokyo’s coronavirus “state of emergency” is as surreal as they come. Though the streets are noticeably quieter than normal, subways and buses are still jammed with commuters. Stock trading goes on as normal. Many bars, restaurants and cafes are abuzz. So are barbershops, beauty salons and home improvement centers. In Shibuya and other meccas of youth culture, teenagers who should be hunkering down at home are out and about. Leave it to Japan’s largest metropolis to morph shelter-in-place into a giant kabuki performance starring 8.3 million people. [Prime Minister] Abe should dispense with the pandemic kabuki and call for a strict shelter-in-place policy. Though there are legal questions about enforceability, Abe could use the bully pulpit to urge Japanese — and companies — to comply.
Important Editor's Note: This article is a prime example of how the media is bulldozing it's social isolation agenda and convincing people to willingly give up their freedoms. Japan was one of the first countries hit by the virus, with it's first death due to the coronavirus on Feb. 13th. Yet while the U.S., Italy, France, Spain, and the UK all had their first coronavirus deaths after Japan, all of these countries as of April 12th had tens of thousands of deaths, while Japan had only 124 deaths. That's 100 times less. Instead of calling for stricter policies in Japan, why isn't everyone asking what they are doing to have such an incredibly low death rate without instituting lockdown procedures? For more serious questions on how we are being manipulated, see this excellent essay.
The Netherlands has tried to adopt an "intelligent lockdown", but the infection is spreading rapidly and it has one of the world's highest mortality rates from the pandemic. Having shunned the stricter measures of neighbouring states the government has pursued an "intelligent" or "targeted" lockdown. It wants to cushion the social, economic and psychological costs of social isolation and make the eventual return to normality more manageable. [The] local florist, ironmonger, delicatessen, bakery and toy store are still serving customers. Posters on the door and sticky tape on the floor encourage people to give each other space. Only those businesses that require touching, like hairdressers, beauticians and red light brothels, have been forced to cease trading. Schools, nurseries and universities are closed. Bars, restaurants and cannabis cafes are shut, although they seem to be doing a roaring trade in takeaways. "We think we're cool-headed," explained Dr Louise van Schaik of the Clingendael Institute of International Relations. "We don't want to overreact, to lock up everybody in their houses." People have been advised to stay at home, but you can go out if you are unable to work from home ... as long as you maintain 1.5m (5ft) social distance. It helps that the Dutch appear to be broadly compliant. One survey suggested 99% of people kept their distance. Dutch public health agency RIVM has launched a study to see how far antibodies created when people are exposed remain effective in preventing re-infection. "It's kind of like creating your own internal vaccine, by being exposed to it and then letting your body generate those antibodies naturally," Prof Aura Timen from the RIVM told the BBC.
Note: On 3/28, the Netherlands had over six times as many deaths as California with 639 compared to California's 104. Yet 15 days later (4/12), California had risen 608% to 633, while the Netherlands has gone up only 428% to 2,737. This is quite interesting considering that California has been in lockdown since 3/19. You can verify this by going to this link of archived statistics on the virus and clicking on the dates in question. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Much of Europe is still on coronavirus lockdown, with severe restrictions on movement and penalties for those who transgress. But not Sweden. Restaurants and bars are open in the Nordic country, playgrounds and schools too, and the government is relying on voluntary action to stem the spread of Covid-19. The Swedish government is confident its policy can work. Sweden's actions are about encouraging and recommending, not compulsion. Elisabeth Liden, a journalist in Stockholm, [noted that] "the subway went from being completely packed to having only a few passengers per car. I get the sense that a vast majority are taking the recommendations of social distancing seriously." On March 24, new rules were introduced to avoid crowding at restaurants. But they very much stayed open. So did many primary and secondary schools. Gatherings of up to 50 people are still permitted. The country's state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell ... defended the decision to keep schools open [saying] "a lot of children are suffering when they can't go to school." Much of Sweden's focus has been to protect the elderly. Anyone aged 70 or older has been told to stay at home and limit their social contact as much as possible. Another factor in Sweden's favor is a generous social welfare net that means people don't feel obligated to turn up for work if their young child is sick. State support kicks in on day one of absence from work due to a child being sick. The next month will determine whether the Swedish system got it right.
Note: On 3/28, Sweden had twice as many deaths (203) as California (104). Yet 15 days later (4/12), California had risen 608% to 633, while Sweden had risen only 443% to 899. This is quite interesting considering that California has been in lockdown since 3/19, yet Sweden is not. You can verify these figures by going to this link of archived statistics from Johns Hopkins on the virus and clicking on the dates in question. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Our Attorney General submitted a proposal last week that would dramatically erode our civil liberties. Among other things, the proposal suspends habeas corpus ... or the right to appear before a judge before being detained. That right is enshrined in our Constitution and without it, Barr could hold Americans indefinitely without a trial. Our justice system is grounded in an unwavering guarantee that each one of us is entitled to certain inalienable rights, including the right to due process before one's freedom is taken away. On March 13, the President declared a national emergency, which unlocked special powers to keep our country safe. Congress has enacted roughly 120 laws that allow presidents such powers to meet precisely these types of threats while maintaining our democracy. These laws are not without limits. Nor were they meant to be used to capitalize on fear to unnecessarily erode our freedoms. Yet while the world is consumed by this pandemic and when he thought no one was watching, Attorney General William Barr proposed granting himself immense, permanent powers extending far past the needs posed by this threat. For example, the proposal grants Barr personally the power to ask any chief judge to hold a citizen, "whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation." If this were about COVID-19, the proposal would suspend only certain rights narrowly tailored to fighting this disease.
Note: This New York Times article details how autocrats around the world are using the fear generated to grab power. Read another highly informative article on how this crisis is being exploited to grab power. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
India declared a 21-day lockdown with four hours notice on the midnight of 24 March to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All over India, millions of migrant workers are fleeing its shuttered cities and trekking home to their villages. These informal workers are the backbone of the big city economy. Escaping poverty in their villages, most of the estimated 100 million of them live in squalid housing in congested urban ghettos. Last week's lockdown turned them into refugees overnight. Their workplaces were shut, and most employees and contractors who paid them vanished. Sprawled together, men, women and children began their journeys at all hours of the day last week. When the children were too tired to walk, their parents carried them on their shoulders. Clearly, a lockdown to stave off a pandemic is turning into a humanitarian crisis. In the end, India is facing daunting and predictable challenges in enforcing the lockdown and also making sure the poor and homeless are not fatally hurt. India has already announced a $22bn relief package for those affected by the lockdown. The next few days will determine whether the states are able to transport the workers home or keep them in the cities and provide them with food and money. "People are forgetting the big stakes amid the drama of the consequences of the lockdown: the risk of millions of people dying," says Nitin Pai of Takshashila Institution, a prominent think tank. "There too, likely the worst affected will be the poor."
Note: In how many countries besides India is this scenario playing out? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking Facebook, Google and other tech giants to give them greater access to Americans' smartphone location data in order to help them combat the spread of the coronavirus, according to four people at companies involved in the discussions who are not authorized to speak about them publicly. Federal health officials say they could use anonymous, aggregated user data collected by the tech companies to map the spread of the virus — a practice known as "syndromic surveillance" — and prevent further infections. They could also use the data to see whether people were practicing "social distancing." The federal effort [was] first reported by The Washington Post. The government officials have held at least two calls in recent days with representatives from the companies, the sources said. Those officials are "very serious" about making this happen, a person at one of the tech companies said. Similar and more aggressive surveillance practices have already been put to use in China, South Korea and Israel. The moves have set off alarm bells among privacy advocates who fear what the government may do with users' data. Facebook already provides health researchers and nongovernmental organizations in some countries with anonymized data to help disease prevention efforts. Representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Cisco all took part in the call with White House and federal health officials.
The economic debate of the day centers on whether the cure of an economic shutdown is worse than the disease of the virus. Similarly, we need to ask if the cure of the Federal Reserve getting so deeply into corporate bonds, asset-backed securities, commercial paper, and exchange-traded funds is worse than the disease seizing financial markets. It may be. In just these past few weeks, the Fed has cut rates by 150 basis points to near zero and run through its entire 2008 crisis handbook. That wasn’t enough to calm markets, though — so the central bank also announced $1 trillion a day in repurchase agreements and unlimited quantitative easing, which includes a hard-to-understand $625 billion of bond buying a week going forward. At this rate, the Fed will own two-thirds of the Treasury market in a year. But it’s the alphabet soup of new programs that deserve special consideration, as they could have profound long-term consequences. The federal government is nationalizing large swaths of the financial markets. The Fed is providing the money to do it. If these acronym programs were abused ... they might indeed force markets higher than valuation warrants. But it would come with a heavy price. Investors would be deprived of the necessary market signals that freely traded capital markets offer to aid in the efficient allocation of capital. Malinvestment would be rampant. It also could force private sector players to leave as the government’s heavy hand makes operating in “controlled” markets uneconomic.
A model predicting the progression of the novel coronavirus pandemic produced by researchers at Imperial College London set off alarms across the world and was a major factor in several governments' decisions to lock things down. But a new model from Oxford University is challenging its accuracy. The Oxford research suggests the pandemic is in a later stage than previously thought and estimates the virus has already infected at least millions of people worldwide. In the United Kingdom, which the study focuses on, half the population would have already been infected. If accurate, that would mean transmission began around mid-January and the vast majority of cases presented mild or no symptoms. The head of the study, professor Sunetra Gupta, an Oxford theoretical epidemiologist, said she still supports the U.K.'s decision to shut down the country to suppress the virus. But she also doesn't appear to be a big fan of the work done by the Imperial College team. If her work is accurate, that would likely mean a large swath of the population has built up resistance to the virus. Theoretically, then, social restrictions could ease sooner than anticipated. What needs to be done now, Gupta said, is a whole lot of antibody testing to figure out who may have contracted the virus. Her research team is working with groups from the University of Cambridge and the University of Kent to start those tests for the general population as quickly as possible.
A shouting match broke out in the White House Situation Room between Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and an Office of Management and Budget official. Azar had asked OMB ... for $2 billion to buy respirator masks and other supplies for a depleted federal stockpile of emergency medical equipment. The relief package enacted Friday secured $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile. States desperate for materials from the stockpile are encountering a beleaguered system beset by years of underfunding, changing lines of authority, confusion over the allocation of supplies and a lack of transparency from the administration. The stockpile holds masks, drugs, ventilators and other items in secret sites around the country. It has become a source of growing frustration for many state and hospital officials who are having trouble buying — or even locating — crucial equipment on their own. Massachusetts ... has received 17 percent of the protective gear it requested. Maine requested a half-million N95 specialized protective masks and received 25,558 — about 5 percent of what it sought. Florida has been an exception in its dealings with the stockpile: The state submitted a request on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves, among other supplies — and received a shipment with everything three days later. President Trump repeatedly has warned states not to complain about how much they are receiving.
Note: This 2018 Washington Post article raises many questions about the secret U.S. stockpile. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The coronavirus financial aid package that landed on President Trump’s desk last week included a $500 billion corporate-loan fund that contained a major downside for his administration: Congressional Democrats had pushed for increased oversight of the loans, with a federal investigator designated to report to lawmakers on uses of the funding. So Trump, in endorsing the legislation Saturday, turned to a device he has used in record numbers during his tenure, the presidential “signing statement”. He signed the bill into law, but in the accompanying statement, he said he would not be bound by provisions that interfered with executive authority. Trump said he would not allow an inspector general to report to Congress because the Constitution, in his view, requires “presidential supervision” of such information. Using the signing statement to get his way with Congress is a familiar maneuver for Trump. It was at least the 769th signing statement Trump has issued since he took office. President George W. Bush, who produced more signing statements than all previous presidents combined, issued 750 in his first term. The disputes that arise between presidents and Congress because of executive signing statements could be resolved by the courts. But members of Congress have generally been unwilling to file suit, and it is difficult to find private citizens who can ... establish legal standing. Unless a court says otherwise, the president, not Congress, will have the last word on the $500 billion loan fund.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
The amount of money spent in one year by the U.S. on nuclear weapons could instead provide 300,000 ICU (intensive care unit) beds, 35,000 ventilators and 75,000 doctors' salaries, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) - a "coalition of non-government organizations promoting adherence to and implementation of the UN [United Nations} nuclear weapon ban treaty." In its recent report, the group stated that, according to armscontrol.org, the U.S. spent $35.1 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019. As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increases, more resources are required. The shortage of ventilators in U.S. hospitals has ... been a major issue during the coronavirus pandemic. During a recent interview with Vox, Dr. Tom Freiden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated that "in the worst-case scenario, in which there is an exponential surge in COVID-19 cases, the need for ventilators could greatly outstrip the number available." In addition to the shortage, the cost of the ventilators has also become a problem for hospitals. They can cost between $25,000 to $50,000 and require very skilled people to run them. The report published by ICAN also touches on the nuclear spending costs of the United Kingdom and France. For instance, France spent around $4.9 million on nuclear weapons in 2019. This amount ... would translate to 100,000 ICU beds, 10,000 ventilators and the salaries of 20,000 French nurses and 10,000 French doctors.
Note: Read this Washington Post article about a secret stockpile which could be used now. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
With Maryland schools and some places of work closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, parents are looking for creative new ways to educate their children at home. One expert in homeschooling says a coronavirus-related quarantine situation should not be mistaken for a traditional educational setting. And parents should not lose sleep over whether their children are getting enough learning materials during such uncertain times. “We’re dealing with a global pandemic ... we need to worry about how we’re helping our children to cope with the stress," said Alessa Giampaolo Keener, an educational consultant. One of the best ways to help students stay mentally engaged in the coming weeks is by finding a routine that works for them without caving to the pressure [to] interrupt play or set elaborate schedules for children. Older children may respond well to being given a list of chores or assignments to complete by a set deadline, which allows them the autonomy to budget their own time throughout the day. The Khan Academy is a nonprofit that offers online educational resources for students, teachers and parents. Families can find day-by-day projects on Scholastic’s Learn at Home webpage to keep kids thinking during a quarantine. Projects are available for levels Pre-K through 9th grade. Some kids may miss recess and gym class just as much as academics. Families can find yoga, mindfulness and relaxation exercises on the Cosmic Kids Yoga Channel on YouTube.
Note: You can find more useful homeschooling resources on this webpage and this one and this one. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Coronavirus has hit companies hard and fast over the past several weeks — prompting calls for industry bailouts and dramatic measures to cut costs. Among the steps some major corporations are taking to mitigate the consequences of the outbreak are pay cuts to CEOs and other top executives. Executive pay cuts alone aren't likely to have a significant impact on companies' bottom lines or provide a boost to lower-paid employees further down the org chart. But they send an important message. Airlines and travel companies, one of the industries hit hardest by the outbreak early on, were among the first to take such a step, including Delta (DAL), Alaska (ALK), United Airlines (UAL) and others, which all announced CEO pay cuts, and other executive compensation reductions. Marriott (MAR), the world's largest hotel chain, said last week that CEO Arne Sorenson will not take home any salary for the rest of the year, and the rest of the executive team will take a 50% pay cut. The announcement came at the same time that the company said it would begin furloughing what could be tens of thousands of hotel workers, from housekeepers to general managers. On Wednesday, Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) also announced its CEO Ed Stack and President Lauren Hobart will forgo their salaries, except for an amount covering company-provided benefits. The company's other named executive officers will take a 50% reduction in base salary. Other companies, including Ford (F), GE (GESLX) and Lyft (LYFT) have taken similar steps.
As countries around the world grapple with the coronavirus, Taiwan may offer valuable lessons on how to curb its spread. The island is just 81 miles and a short flight away from mainland China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan. And yet, Taiwan has had only 50 cases of COVID-19 and one death. Of the 100-plus countries and territories affected, Taiwan has the lowest incidence rate per capita — around 1 in every 500,000 people. What lessons can Taiwan teach the world so other countries can stem the spread of the virus? On Dec. 31, the same day China notified the World Health Organization that it had several cases of an unknown pneumonia, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control immediately ordered inspections of passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan. Taiwan began requiring hospitals to test for and report cases. That helped the government identify those infected, trace their contacts and isolate everyone involved. Equally important, Taiwan's CDC activated the Central Epidemic Command Center relatively early on Jan. 20 and that allowed it to quickly roll out a series of epidemic control measures. The country’s health insurance system, which covers 99 percent of the population, has been crucial. “You can get a free test, and if you’re forced to be isolated, during the 14 days, we pay for your food, lodging and medical care,” [government spokesperson Kolas Yotaka] said. “So no one would avoid seeing the doctor because they can’t pay for health care.”
Note: This wired.com article further shows how Singapore is doing well with the pandemic. Another article shows why several countries have had success in this. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted. Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world. While many epidemiologists are warning of months, or even years, of massive social disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says the data simply don’t support such a dire scenario — especially in areas where reasonable social distancing measures are in place. “What we need is to control the panic,” he said. In the grand scheme, “we’re going to be fine.” Here’s what Levitt noticed in China: On Jan. 31, the country had 46 new deaths due to the novel coronavirus, compared with 42 new deaths the day before. Although the number of daily deaths had increased, the rate of that increase had begun to ease off. It was an early sign that the trajectory of the outbreak had shifted. “This suggests that the rate of increase in the number of deaths will slow down even more over the next week,” Levitt wrote. He predicted that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China would end up around 80,000, with about 3,250 deaths. This forecast turned out to be remarkably accurate. Now Levitt ... is seeing similar turning points in other nations. He analyzed data from 78 countries that reported more than 50 new cases of COVID-19 every day and sees “signs of recovery” in many of them.
Note: Consider the research of 12 other experts questioning the coronavirus panic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The Trump Department of Justice has asked Congress to craft legislation allowing chief judges to indefinitely hold people without trial and suspend other constitutionally-protected rights during coronavirus and other emergencies, according to a report by Politico. The DOJ has requested Congress allow any chief judge of a district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation,” according to draft language obtained by Politico. This would be applicable to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil processes and proceedings.” But the Constitution grants citizens habeas corpus which gives arrestees the right to appear in front of a judge and ask to be released before trial. Enacting legislation like the DOJ wants would essentially suspend habeas corpus indefinitely until the emergency ended. Further, DOJ asked Congress to suspend the statute of limitations on criminal investigations and civil proceedings during the emergency until a year after it ended. That means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. The DOJ ... also asked Congress to pass a law saying that immigrants who test positive for COVID-19 cannot qualify as asylum seekers.
California has prepared for worst case scenarios as the coronavirus pandemic heightens, including the possibility of enacting martial law. Governor Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Tuesday he would consider implementing martial law if it was necessary to curb the novel virus. “We have the ability to do martial law ... if we feel the necessity,” he said. Issuing martial law would be an unprecedented move rarely used by officials in US history. If enacted, it would temporarily replace civil rule with military authority. The precedent for martial law in the US states “certain civil liberties may be suspended, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association, and freedom of movement,” according to a legal journal. The president and Congress have the power to enact martial law for the entire country. State governors also have the power to enact martial law if its in their state’s constitution. Previous examples of martial law used include after World War II, specifically following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, when the state of Hawaii was held under martial law from 1941 to 1944. President Abraham Lincoln also used martial law during the Civil War to temporarily suspend habeas corpus, which is the right to a trial before imprisonment. California considering the possibility of using martial law on Tuesday comes just two days after the governor said he had no current plans for the measure.
My adulthood has been punctuated by severe national emergencies. The first my generation experienced was the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The government quickly responded by attempting to achieve two things: one, expanding executive power, and two, transferring public wealth into private corporations. The second national emergency my generation experienced was the 2008 housing bubble collapse and subsequent recession. Again the federal government ... sought to exploit the crisis to move vast wealth from the public treasury into private bank accounts. A staggering $14tn was transferred from taxpayers to private hands. [The] latest iteration is the Covid-19 pandemic. Once again, the federal government appears poised to exploit this emergency to expand executive power and move wealth from the public treasury into private bank accounts. As we witnessed with the authoritarian reactions to 9/11, emergency violations of civil liberties are not easily rolled back, and often aggregate over time. In the wake of 9/11, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which gave sweeping powers to the executive branch. In 2012, Obama signed an expanded version into law, which gave the president the power to “hold individuals, including US citizens, in military detention indefinitely”, which means for life. We must reject such authoritarian measures wholly.
Safety concerns at a prominent military germ lab have led the government to shut down research involving dangerous microbes. “Research is currently on hold,” the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, in Fort Detrick, Md., said in a statement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to issue a “cease and desist order” last month to halt the research at Fort Detrick because the center did not have “sufficient systems in place to decontaminate wastewater” from its highest-security labs. The C.D.C. cited “national security reasons” as the rationale for not releasing information about its decision. The institute is a biodefense center that studies germs and toxins that could be used to threaten the military or public health, and also investigates disease outbreaks. The problems date back to May 2018, when storms flooded and ruined a decades-old steam sterilization plant that the institute had been using to treat wastewater from its labs. The damage halted research for months, until the institute developed a new decontamination system using chemicals. The new system required changes in certain procedures. During an inspection in June, the C.D.C. found that the new procedures were not being followed. Inspectors also found mechanical problems with the chemical-based decontamination system, as well as leaks. In 2009, research at the institute in Fort Detrick was suspended because it was storing pathogens not listed in its database.
Note: Check out credible evidence that links the Fort Detrick lab shutdown with the start of the Coronavirus outbreak on this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Investment bankers have pressed health care companies on the front lines of fighting the novel coronavirus, including drug firms developing experimental treatments and medical supply firms, to consider ways that they can profit from the crisis. The largest voices in the health care industry stand to gain from billions of dollars in emergency spending on the pandemic, as do the bankers and investors who invest in health care companies. Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices. Executives joked about using the attention on Covid-19 to dodge public pressure on the opioid crisis. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar previously served as president of the U.S. division of drug giant Eli Lilly and on the board of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug lobby group. During a congressional hearing ... Azar rejected the notion that any vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 should be set at an affordable price. “We can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,” said Azar. “The priority is to get vaccines and therapeutics. Price controls won’t get us there.” The initial $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill passed in early March ... contained a provision that prevents the government from delaying the introduction of any new pharmaceutical to address the crisis over affordability concerns. The legislative text was shaped, according to reports, by industry lobbyists.
Before the coronavirus virus crushed the US stock market, the Republican senator Richard Burr apparently used information he gleaned from his role as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee about the ferocity of the coming pandemic to unload 33 stocks held by him and his spouse. They were estimated at being worth between $628,033 and $1.72m. While publicly parroting Trump’s happy talk at the time, Burr confided to several of his political funders that the disease would be comparable to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. When society faces a common threat, exploiting a special advantage is morally repugnant. Call it “Burring”. The coronavirus should have altered business as usual. But last week’s Senate Republican relief package, giving airlines $58bn and billions more to other industries, is pure Burring. Walmart, the largest employer in America, doesn’t give its employees paid sick leave. 88% of Walmart employees report sometimes coming to work when sick. None of the giants of the fast-food industry – McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Duncan Donuts, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Subway – gives their workers paid sick leave, either. Amazon, one of the richest corporations in the world, which paid almost no taxes last year, is offering unpaid time off for workers who are sick. These corporations have made sure they and other companies with more than 500 employees are exempt from the requirement in the House coronavirus bill that employers provide paid sick leave.
Note: Read a New York Times article for further information on how Senator Burr, the head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, after being briefed of impending disaster, unloaded $1 million in investments while telling the public everything was fine. Read an article in The Atlantic showing how the Coronavirus is giving the world's leaders a rich opportunity for a power grab. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The new NextSeq 550 sequencing machine at UCSF’s clinical lab on Berry Street looks like a microwave with a computer keyboard, but to microbiologist Charles Chiu, it is the key to California’s fight against the deadliest, most invasive virus to strike humanity in decades. The professor of medicine at UCSF will be using the black contraption ... to sequence the genomes of the viruses infecting hundreds of COVID-19 patients in the Bay Area during the next few weeks. Chiu ... is one of the top infectious disease specialists in the world. He has assembled an expert team of scientists ... to find critical clues about where the viral outbreaks in the Bay Area came from and how quickly the disease is spreading. He has already analyzed nine samples from the more than two dozen passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus on the Grand Princess cruise ship and is close to pinpointing the origin of those cases. “Those sequences belong in the same cluster as the infection in Washington state,” Chiu said. “They really suggest a link between Washington state and California.” Chiu said tracking the spread of the virus through genetics is possible because coronaviruses are known to have one to two mutations per month, allowing genomic sequencing to track a particular strain back to its origin. The rate of mutation in coronaviruses is much slower than it is with the influenza virus, which averages about eight to 10 mutations per month.
People around the world are learning to cope with quarantines in an attempt to stop the further spread of the new coronavirus. As city lockdowns force people to self-quarantine, everyone is searching for ways to keep busy — and Yale University has a solution. "Psychology and the Good Life," a course first introduced by Professor Laurie Santos in spring 2018, teaches stressed-out students how to be happier. The university said it quickly became the most popular course in the school's 317-year history. Given its success, Yale decided to release the course online with the title, "The Science of Well Being." It features lectures by Santos "on things people think will make them happy but don't — and, more importantly, things that do bring lasting life satisfaction." Anyone with an internet connection can sign up for the class for free. The course involves a series of challenges "designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits." The course is fully online and takes about 20 hours to complete. It includes videos, readings, quizzes and "retirement" activities to build happier habits. "The Science of Well Being" isn't the only course that could keep you busy during the coronavirus outbreak. Coursera offers other free courses from the nation's top schools, including "Greek and Roman Mythology" from the University of Pennsylvania, "Imagining other Earths" from Princeton, and "Child Nutrition and Cooking" from Stanford.
Note: Don't miss the incredibly popular course (4.9 stars out of 5) offered free on this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Amid a novel coronavirus pandemic, some of us have defied public health officials’ exhortations and headed to bars to be with other members of our species. More of us have stared into the weeks to come and wondered how we will cope without basketball games, book groups, worship services, yoga classes and dinners with friends. Humans are social animals, even what some call “ultra-social.” For millennia, survival has depended on being part of a group. If distancing seems hard, it’s not just you: It’s human nature. “We are the most extreme example of a species that’s decided that collaborating with others is going to be my entire strategy,” said Steve Cole, a professor ... at the University of California. These social skills helped our ancestors fend off predators and more efficiently gather and hunt food and raise offspring. Our emotional dependence on each other can make keeping our distance, even for the public health benefit of “flattening the curve,” feel crummy. Most who are reducing physical contact, of course, are not locking themselves into isolation chambers. They’ve got a few relatives or friends around. Technology and social media ... should now be viewed as a lifeline. “People are going to feel isolated and lonely unless they make an effort to reach out to each other, so what we have to do is make sure that we call people on the phone and Skype with them and send them texts and emails, especially the people who are least proficient on the Internet,” [psychological anthropologist Alan] Fiske said.
The latest threat to global health is the ongoing outbreak of the respiratory disease that was recently given the name Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). The Covid-19 outbreak has posed critical challenges for the public health, research, and medical communities. In their Journal article, Li and colleagues provide a detailed clinical and epidemiologic description of the first 425 cases reported in the epicenter of the outbreak: the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China. A degree of clarity is emerging from this report. The median age of the patients was 59 years, with higher morbidity and mortality among the elderly and among those with coexisting conditions (similar to the situation with influenza). Of note, there were no cases in children younger than 15 years of age. Li et al. report a mean interval of 9.1 to 12.5 days between the onset of illness and hospitalization. On the basis of a case definition requiring a diagnosis of pneumonia, the currently reported case fatality rate is approximately 2%. In another article in the Journal, Guan et al. report mortality of 1.4% among 1099 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19; these patients had a wide spectrum of disease severity. If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.
Note: The main author of this article, Anthony S. Fauci, is the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Consider the research of 12 other experts questioning the coronavirus panic. Explore also this excellent article which covers key, vitally important aspects of this pandemic that few have considered. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
The current coronavirus disease [may] be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco. At a time when everyone needs better information ... no countries have reliable data. This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty. Draconian countermeasures have been adopted in many countries. The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date ... we don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4% rate from the [WHO], cause horror — and are meaningless. Patients who have been tested ... are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. The Diamond Princess cruise ship [had a] case fatality rate [of] 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population. Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data ... the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. In the absence of data, prepare-for-the-worst reasoning leads to extreme measures of social distancing and lockdowns. Unfortunately, we do not know if these measures work. With lockdowns of months, if not years, life largely stops, short-term and long-term consequences are entirely unknown, and billions, not just millions, of lives may be eventually at stake.
Note: John Ioannidis is professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University. To be truly informed, don't miss this entire, very well researched article at the link above. Consider also the research of 12 other experts questioning the coronavirus panic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate—2% to 4% ... according to the World Health Organization and others. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. There’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases. The latter rate is misleading because of selection bias in testing. The degree of bias ... could make the difference between an epidemic that kills 20,000 and one that kills two million [in the U.S.]. First, the test used to identify cases doesn’t catch people who were infected and recovered. Second, testing rates were woefully low for a long time and typically reserved for the severely ill. Together, these facts imply that the confirmed cases are likely orders of magnitude less than the true number of infections. Epidemiological modelers haven’t adequately adapted their estimates to account for these factors. This does not make Covid-19 a nonissue. The daily reports from Italy and across the U.S. show real struggles and overwhelmed health systems. But a 20,000- or 40,000-death epidemic is a far less severe problem than one that kills two million. Given the enormous consequences of decisions around Covid-19 response, getting clear data to guide decisions now is critical. We don’t know the true infection rate in the U.S. If we’re right about the limited scale of the epidemic, then measures focused on older populations and hospitals are sensible. A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health.
Note: Authors Dr. Bendavid and Dr. Bhattacharya are professors of medicine at Stanford. The Wall Street Journal charges non-subscribers to read more than the first two paragraphs of this article. You may find it well worth your time to read the entire article free on this webpage. Explore also this excellent article the covers key, vitally important aspects of this pandemic that few have considered. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
Even as President Trump says he tested negative for coronavirus, the COVID-19 pandemic raises the fear that huge swaths of the executive branch or even Congress and the Supreme Court could also be disabled, forcing the implementation of "continuity of government" plans. Above-Top Secret contingency plans already exist for what the military is supposed to do if all the Constitutional successors are incapacitated. Standby orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready these plans, not just to protect Washington but also to prepare for the possibility of some form of martial law. The various plans – codenamed Octagon, Freejack and Zodiac – are the underground laws to ensure government continuity. Under these extraordinary plans, "devolution" could circumvent the normal Constitutional provisions for government succession, and military commanders could be placed in control around America. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2006, no emergency has triggered any state to even request federal military aid under these procedures. Part of the reason, the senior officer involved in planning says, is that local police forces have themselves become more capable, acquiring military-grade equipment and training. And part of the reason is that the governors have worked together to strengthen the National Guard, which can enforce domestic law when it is mustered under state control.
It's been overshadowed by the new coronavirus outbreak in China, but this year's flu season could be near its peak. At least 14,000 people have died and 250,000 have already been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 26 million Americans have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms. "There is a deadly respiratory virus that is circulating throughout the United States, and it is at its peak. It is not novel coronavirus," said Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious disease specialist with the Mayo Clinic. This flu season ... started early, in October, with an unusual wave of influenza B virus. Influenza B is less likely than other strains to mutate and become more virulent. That means it poses a greater threat to young people than to older folks, who may have gained immunity because they encountered the strain before. There have been 105 flu-related deaths among children this season, a higher total at this point of the year than any season in the past decade. Two-thirds of these deaths were associated with influenza B viruses, the CDC noted. More recently, a second wave of influenza A viruses featuring the H1N1 strain has hit the United States, Tosh noted. "This has been an extended season, and we've certainly been seeing a lot of hospitalizations and bad outcomes from it," Tosh said. "We will likely continue to see high influenza activity for several weeks. We are probably at its peak right now. I sure hope it doesn't get much worse."
Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that between 390,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 23,000 and 59,000 deaths have resulted from seasonal flu so far this season. That's between 150 and 300 deaths every day in the U.S. from the regular flu. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
The Federal Reserve moved with unprecedented force and speed Friday to pump huge amounts of cash into the financial system to ease disruptions that have escalated since the viral outbreak. The New York Federal Reserve Bank said it will offer $1 trillion of overnight loans a day through the end of this month to large banks. That is in addition to $1 trillion in 14-day loans it is offering every week. Wall Street analysts say the huge number is intended to calm markets by demonstrating that the Fed’s ability to lend short-term is nearly unlimited. The Fed is also buying Treasury bonds at a furious pace, and will soon run through the $500 billion in purchases it announced on Sunday. It is also accelerating its purchases of mortgage-backed securities. Most analysts expect they will buy more. All the Fed’s emergency steps are intended to pump cash into a financial system that has seen a spike in demand for dollars. Steven Friedman, a former economist at the New York Fed, [said] “The Fed is trying to play the role of shock absorber.” “They’ve effectively thrown the kitchen sink at the markets and the economy,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, senior U.S. rates strategist for TD Securities. Also Friday, the Fed said it would expand its currency exchanges with five central banks. The Fed provides dollars to overseas central banks because some business is conducted overseas in dollars and foreign banks also provide dollar-denominated loans to their customers.
Note: Take $1 trillion and divide it by the U.S. population of 330 million and you find that this amount is equivalent to $3,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US. And that is what the Fed is lending every day. Where is all this money coming from, and why is it going to the banks? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Banking Information Center.
Among the 2,158 people to have been killed by the coronavirus pandemic in Italy as of Monday, the oldest was 95 and the two youngest were 39. Silvio Brusaferro, the president of Italy’s Higher Institute of Health, said on Friday that the average age of coronavirus victims was 80.3, with the majority having suffered underlying illnesses. The most common additional health issue was arterial hypertension followed by chronic heart disease, atrial fibrillation and cancer. More than 70% of those who have died were men. The two 39-year-old victims were a man with diabetes and a woman with cancer.
Note: Yet very strangely in Italy's neighbor France, "half the severe cases were people aged under 60," according to this report. For two other excellent articles which put the Coronavirus in perspective, see this compilation of data and this excellent essay on how the virus is being used to promote the surveillance state. Lots more from reliable sources on selling fear during virus scares is available here. And for how fear is used to control us and what we can do about it, don't miss this excellent essay.
More than 99% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were people who suffered from previous medical conditions, according to a study by the country’s national health authority. After deaths from the virus reached more than 2,500, with a 150% increase in the past week, health authorities have been combing through data to provide clues to help combat the spread of the disease. Italy has more than 31,500 confirmed cases of the illness. The new study could provide insight into why Italy’s death rate, at about 8% of total infected people, is higher than in other countries. The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities, finding that just three victims, or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions. More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease. The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions. According to the GIMBE Foundation, about 100,000 Italians have contracted the virus, daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported. That would bring back the country’s death rate closer to the global average of about 2%.
Note: Yet very strangely in Italy's neighbor France, "half the severe cases were people aged under 60," according to this report. For two other excellent articles which put the Coronavirus in perspective, see this compilation of data and this excellent essay on how the virus is being used to promote the surveillance state. Lots more from reliable sources on selling fear during virus scares is available here. And for how fear is used to control us and what we can do about it, don't miss this excellent essay.
Coronavirus has the world on edge. The outbreak is now a global pandemic. Coast to coast, large public gatherings and major events have been canceled. Employees have been told to work from home, universities have moved all classes online and elementary schools have closed for sanitizing. The stock market has seen meteoric crashes. It's a global event pervading nearly every aspect of people's lives. Psychologists and public health experts say public anxiety is high, and it's largely fueled by a feeling of powerlessness. The spread of the new coronavirus is not just a public health crisis. Part of what drives feelings of anxiety is a lack of information. The virus is new, and there remain many questions. Most people haven't had it, nor do they know someone who has. Experts say that matters. Not everyone reacts to epidemics the same way. When news is mixed, people can choose to focus on the good or the bad. The good news is, for most people, the illness caused by the coronavirus is generally mild and the flu-like symptoms of fever and cough don't last long. The bad news is the virus is novel and highly contagious. Whether people fixate on the good or the bad has a lot to do with who they are. Reports say most people who contract the coronavirus experience symptoms similar to the flu. Then people read stories about the National Guard helping with quarantine containment. A blog post from the Poynter Institute, which trains journalists, noted that saying "deadly virus" can be misleading, because the virus is not deadly for most people. People should also limit their media exposure, experts say. They caution against reading about the outbreak obsessively and recommend getting needed information and moving on.
Note: Read this entire article at the link above to gain a good perspective on the emotional impact of the Coronavirus. Then explore this CDC webpage on the 2009 Swine flu (H1N1), which states, " CDC estimated there were ... 274,304 hospitalizations and 12,469 deaths in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus. Additionally, CDC estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died. 80 percent ... occurred in people younger than 65 years of age." These numbers are far below those of the Coronavirus. So why is the whole world shutting down in fear?
As the new Coronavirus spreads illness, death, and catastrophe around the world, virtually no economic sector has been spared from harm. Yet amid the mayhem ... one industry is not only surviving, it is profiting handsomely. “Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity,” said Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” The world needs ... treatments and vaccines and, in the U.S., tests. Dozens of companies are now vying to make them. The ability to make money off of pharmaceuticals is already uniquely large in the U.S., which lacks the basic price controls other countries have, giving drug companies more freedom over setting prices for their products than anywhere else in the world. During the current crisis, pharmaceutical makers may have even more leeway than usual because of language industry lobbyists inserted into an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending package, passed last week, to maximize their profits from the pandemic. Initially, some lawmakers had tried to ensure that the federal government would limit how much pharmaceutical companies could reap from vaccines and treatments for the new coronavirus that they developed with the use of public funding. But many Republicans opposed adding language to the bill that would restrict the industry’s ability to profit, arguing that it would stifle research and innovation. The final aid package not only omitted language that would have limited drug makers’ intellectual property rights, it specifically prohibited the federal government from taking any action if it has concerns that the treatments or vaccines developed with public funds are priced too high.
Note: For glaring examples of how big Pharma and select public officials made money hand over fist during previous virus scares, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the avian and swine flu from reliable major media sources.
As China encourages people to return to work despite the coronavirus outbreak, it has begun a bold mass experiment in using data to regulate citizens’ lives — by requiring them to use software on their smartphones that dictates whether they should be quarantined or allowed into subways, malls and other public spaces. The system does more than decide in real time whether someone poses a contagion risk. It also appears to share information with the police, setting a template for new forms of automated social control that could persist long after the epidemic subsides. The Alipay Health Code, as China’s official news media has called the system, was first introduced in the eastern city of Hangzhou ... with the help of Ant Financial, a sister company of the e-commerce giant Alibaba. People in China sign up through Ant’s popular wallet app, Alipay, and are assigned a color code — green, yellow or red — that indicates their health status. The system is already in use in 200 cities and is being rolled out nationwide, Ant says. As soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled “reportInfoAndLocationToPolice” sends the person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. In the United States, it would be akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track the coronavirus, then quietly sharing user information with the local sheriff’s office.
Note: Learn in this revealing article how China is blacklisting certain citizens using this system and "banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or travelling by air or train, as the use of the government’s social credit system accelerates." Learn more about the serious risk of the Coronavirus increasing the surveillance state in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has been anathema for most of China’s economy but the novel coronavirus was a shot in the arm for the state’s surveillance apparatus, which has expanded rapidly in pursuit of the epidemic’s spread. Facial recognition cameras, phone tracking technology and voluntary registrations have all been deployed to monitor the flow of people and the possible transmission of disease. “The Chinese surveillance systems currently ... has two purposes: the first is to monitor public health and the second is to maintain political control,” says Francis Lee, a professor ... at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Once the outbreak is controlled, however, it’s unclear whether the government will retract its new powers. While facial recognition provides a way to monitor crowds from a distance, governments have deployed close-range means of tracking individuals too. The municipal government of Hangzhou worked with ecommerce giant Alibaba to launch a feature through the company’s mobile wallet app, AliPay, that assesses the user’s risk of infection. The app generates a QR code. Guards at checkpoints in residential buildings and elsewhere can then scan that code to gain details about the user. John Bacon-Shone ... at Hong Kong University thinks that the ongoing threat of outbreaks will provide a constant justification for the new systems. “I am rather pessimistic that there will be full rollback of data collection once it has been implemented,” Bacon-Shone says.
Note: Remember all of the privacy and freedoms given up after 9/11? How many of those have been given back? Learn more about the serious risk of the Coronavirus increasing the surveillance state in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
Before a vaccine to combat the coronavirus pandemic is within view, the Trump administration has already walked back its initial refusal to promise that any remedy would be affordable to the general public. “We can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,” Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary and a former drug industry executive, told Congress. After extraordinary blowback, the administration insisted that in the end, any treatment would indeed be affordable. The federal government, though, under the Clinton administration, traded away one of the key tools it could use to make good on the promise of affordability. Gilead Sciences, a drugmaker known for price gouging, has been working with Chinese health authorities to see if the experimental drug remdesivir can treat coronavirus symptoms. But remdesivir, which was previously tested to treat Ebola virus, was developed through research conducted at the University of Alabama ... with funding from the federal government. That’s how much of the pharmaceutical industry’s research and development is funded. The public puts in the money, and private companies keep whatever profits they can. It wasn’t always that way. Before 1995, drug companies were required to sell drugs funded with public money at a reasonable price. Under the Clinton administration, that changed. In April 1995, the Clinton administration capitulated to pharmaceutical industry pressure and rescinded the longstanding “reasonable pricing” rule.
Note: Read an excellent post by an infectious disease doctor saying he's much more concerned about the fear and panic around the Coronavirus than about the virus itself. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
Vice-premier Sun Chunlan, one of the most senior government officials to visit the centre of the coronavirus outbreak [was] heckled by residents who yelled “fake, fake, everything is fake” as she inspected the work of a neighbourhood committee charged with taking care of quarantined residents. Videos posted online showed Sun and a delegation walking along the grounds while residents appeared to shout from their apartment windows, “fake, fake,” “it’s all fake,” as well as “we protest”. Since 12 February, all residential compounds in Wuhan have been put under lockdown, barring most residents from leaving their homes. In an unusual turn of events, on Friday various Chinese state media outlets reported the videos showing public discontent. Such videos are frequently censored. Yet, the People’s Daily posted a video subtitled in English showing one person shouting “fake, fake,” which has since been removed. A government-affiliated account on WeChat ... said in an essay posted on Thursday that all the facts of the incident were “basically true”. According to state broadcaster CCTV, Sun held a meeting immediately after the incident to deal with the complaints. Staff have been dispatched to visit the residents one by one. Observers say state media may be trying to co-opt discussion of the videos, which circulated widely online, and provide their own narrative of events. Elsewhere in China, schools in provinces reporting no new cases for a number of days, started to set their opening dates in a sign of the country returning to normal. Wuhan reported 126 new coronavirus cases on Thursday but the wider province of Hubei excluding the capital recorded none for the first time during the outbreak.
Note: Remember all of the privacy and freedoms given up after 9/11? How many of those have been given back? Learn more about the serious risk of the Coronavirus increasing the surveillance state in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
When the man from Hangzhou returned home from a business trip, the local police got in touch. They had tracked his car by his license plate in nearby Wenzhou, which has had a spate of coronavirus cases. Stay indoors for two weeks, they requested. After around 12 days, he was bored and went out early. This time, not only did the police contact him, so did his boss. He had been spotted ... by a camera with facial recognition technology, and the authorities had alerted his company as a warning. “I was a bit shocked by the ability and efficiency of the mass surveillance network. They can basically trace our movements ... at any time and any place,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions. Chinese have long been aware that they are tracked by the world's most sophisticated system of electronic surveillance. The coronavirus emergency has brought some of that technology out of the shadows, providing the authorities with a justification for sweeping methods of high tech social control. Artificial intelligence and security camera companies boast that their systems can scan the streets for people with even low-grade fevers, recognize their faces even if they are wearing masks and report them to the authorities. If a coronavirus patient boards a train, the railway's "real name" system can provide a list of people sitting nearby. Mobile phone apps can tell users if they have been on a flight or a train with a known coronavirus carrier, and maps can show them ... where infected patients live.
Note: The New York Times strangely removed this article. Yet it is also available here. Is there something they don't want us to know? Read an excellent article showing how this virus scare is being used to test China's intense surveillance technologies in very disturbing ways. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
The number of new coronavirus cases reported in China over the past week suggested that the outbreak might be slowing — that containment efforts were working. But on Thursday, officials added more than 14,840 new cases to the tally of the infected in Hubei Province alone, bringing the total number to 48,206, the largest one-day increase so far recorded. The death toll in the province rose to 1,310, including 242 new deaths. The sharp rise in reported cases illustrates how hard it has been for scientists to grasp the extent and severity of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Confronted by so many people with symptoms and no easy way to test them, authorities appear to have changed the way the illness is identified. Hospitals in Wuhan, China — the largest city in Hubei Province and the center of the epidemic — have struggled to diagnose infections with scarce and complicated tests that detect the virus’s genetic signature directly. Other countries, too, have had such issues. Instead, officials in Hubei now seem to be including infections diagnosed by using lung scans of symptomatic patients. The change ... raises the question whether the province, already struggling, is equipped to deal with the new patients. The few experts to learn of the new numbers ... were startled. Lung scans are an imperfect means to diagnose patients. Even patients with ordinary seasonal flu may develop pneumonia visible on a lung scan.
Note: So now anyone who has regular pneumonia will likely be diagnosed as having Coronavirus. This intriguing article suggests that many of the Coronavirus deaths are pneumonia not associated with the virus. For more showing how the fear around this is being blown way out of proportion, see this well researched essay. Then explore concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
Eleven military bases near major airports in the United States are setting up quarantine centers for possible coronavirus patients, the Department of Defense said. The Department of Health and Human Services asked the Pentagon for quarantine space in case beds fill up at other coronavirus centers around the country, according to a DOD statement. The Pentagon already agreed to house up to 1,000 people for quarantine after they returned to the United States from areas with the virus, the Associated Press reports. As of Friday, more than 31,400 people have been infected with the 2019 coronavirus worldwide, with most in mainland China, according to the AP. More than 630 people have died from the virus, almost all in China, the AP reports. “These are tertiary locations, and HHS already has primary and secondary locations identified that are not DOD facilities,” the Pentagon said. Each base will be able to house up to 20 patients along with public health personnel and equipment. The agreement lasts until Feb. 22, the DOD said. “DOD personnel will not be in direct contact with the evacuees and will minimize contact with personnel supporting the evacuees,” the Pentagon said. If anyone tests positive for the virus, public health officials with DHHS will move them to a civilian hospital, according to the statement.
Note: Read an excellent article suggesting there is much fear mongering taking place around the Coronavirus. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
In 2014, U.S. officials imposed a moratorium on experiments to enhance some of the world’s most lethal viruses by making them transmissible by air, responding to widespread concerns that a lab accident could spark a global pandemic. Apparently, the government has decided the research should now move ahead. In the past year, the U.S. government quietly greenlighted funding for two groups of researchers ... to conduct transmission-enhancing experiments on the bird flu virus. Neither the approval nor the deliberations or judgments that supported it were announced publicly. This lack of transparency is unacceptable. Making decisions to approve potentially dangerous research in secret betrays the government’s responsibility to inform and involve the public when approving endeavors ... that could put health and lives at risk. Hundreds of researchers ... publicly opposed these experiments when they were first announced. In response to these concerns, the government issued a framework in 2017 for special review of “enhanced” pathogens that could become capable of causing a pandemic. The framework ... requires that experts in public-health preparedness and response, biosafety, ethics and law, among others, evaluate the work, but it is unclear from the public record if that happened. This secrecy means we don’t know how these requirements were applied, if at all, to the experiments now funded by the government.
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