As Mexico enters a dangerous hike in coronavirus hospitalizations and fatalities, American media is promoting more lock-downs of entire U.S. states, arguing increased positive tests detected in Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Texas and Florida are caused by violating “social distancing.”
Mexico had 719 deaths Saturday, versus 612 in the U.S., and 602 deaths versus 285 in our country on Sunday. That 285 is the record LOW since April 19 peak of 2,804, even as the pundits tell you the world is ending.
Our southern neighbor – the most income unequal of nations – is a major source of virus cases coming here. Hospitals in that country are overflowing with COVID-19. People who need help go across the border.
Los Angeles (LA) accounted for half of all new positive test cases in California on Sunday – 2,523 – more than all but four U.S. states.
LA alone also suffered 20 of the 31 deaths statewide in California that day, and some blame its status as a sanctuary city that attracts the sick from beleaguered Mexico. Contributing to the infection hike are the health problems and poor sanitary conditions in the city’s susceptible homeless enclaves.
An even larger concern is the effect on farm states from the immigrant workers arriving here in recent weeks, spreading the virus due to corporate irresponsibility and government blindness. This has sparked fears within the agriculture industry that cases will continue to skyrocket as harvest season stretches into summer, and more and more crews will be sent into fields to pick, pack and ship crops.
Some 400,000 of the 2.5 million-person workforce follows the harvest, often traveling state to state, able to spread COVID-19 everywhere they go.
Lori Johnson, managing attorney of the Farmworker Unit of Legal Aid of North Carolina, warned:
It’s very concerning given that there have been several outbreaks at farm labor camps this early in the season in North Carolina.
The North Carolina hot spots have emerged in farm worker camps across the state, but not all positive cases are being reported, according to Anna Jensen, executive director of the North Carolina Farmworkers Project.
Jensen said the lack of access to comprehensive, clear test results is why she believes “things are going to get worse.”
Lupe Gonzalo, a longtime farm worker in Immokalee, Florida, agreed:
People are really scared, there are a lot of unknowns,
We’re still seeing many issues here in Immokalee where people still have to go to work, still have to provide for their families, and don’t have that access or ability to be able to socially distance from one another, not only in work, but also in their living situations.
By early May, Immokalee had 44 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Currently there are more than 1,000 cases, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Doctors without Borders has established a mobile clinic in Immokalee to offer testing for migrant workers, and distribute sanitation products – the first time the organization has worked in the U.S. It usually serves conflict zones.
In May, the clinic, which travels from farm to farm testing workers after shifts end, recorded a huge 35 percent positive rate, evidence that community spread was occurring, according to Jean Stowell. She heads the group’s U.S. Covid-19 effort. By comparison, the national positive rate is just six percent, some 1/7th that of farm workers.
Tomato season is wrapping up in Florida, and pickers are beginning to move north to follow harvests in other states. Stowell said.
Covid is here for the foreseeable future, so the issue of not having access to safe isolation will continue to be a problem for this community wherever they move, whether it’s Immokalee or Michigan
Like meatpacking plant employees, farm workers have been deemed essential workers, but the feds have not made safety rules mandatory, allowing farmers to decide if they will spend the money to enact any safety measures at all. The result: some workers have been protected and others died from the disease
One report noted:
Farm industry groups insist they are capable of keeping workers safe, noting that many farms have rebuilt workers’ housing to provide more separation among sleeping laborers. Many have also added hand-washing stations and mask requirements.
Meanwhile, farms in nearly every region see spikes in positive cases. More than 100 workers at two large produce operations in New Jersey contracted the virus in May. In North Carolina, a strawberry farm in Guilford County was closed after workers tested positive for the virus.
Fruit-packing workers in the Yakima Valley, Washington state, fought for personal protective equipment and other precautions after 500 of them were sickened by the virus. They finally pressured “What, me worry” Governor Jay Inslee to issue safety requirements. Testing might have revealed many more infections.
The CDC and OSHA, the nation’s public health and worker protection agencies, recently issued additional guidance for farm workers during the pandemic.
The joint guidance noted that “agriculture work sites, shared worker housing, and shared worker transportation vehicles, all present unique challenges for preventing and controlling the spread of Covid-19.” It recommended that farmers screen laborers for coronavirus risk, take temperatures and separate workers exhibiting symptoms when possible.
Marc Schenker, a public health professor at the University of California, Davis, and founder of the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, said:
All the characteristics of farm workers are risk factors, such as an inability to keep distance from coworkers, lack of readily available clean water and housing accommodations.
He said that OSHA has a long history of a “hands off attitude” that doesn’t adequately oversee the safety of agricultural workers:
News to keep you locked up in the family cave with two boulders at the entrance:
The focus on young coronavirus positive patients comes as nearly half of states are reporting a rise in new positive cases and some continue to break records in their daily reported cases. Florida on Monday surpassed 100,000 total coronavirus cases, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health.- CNN yesterday
Imagine, 100,000 suffering Floridians, hospitals overloaded, patients treated on the sidewalks, doctors and nurses flying in from across the country.
That’s the picture painted by CNN and other media, as they recently reported 30,000 “active” cases in one state or another.
The only problem is that the 100,000 cases in Florida includes everyone who has been positive since they began testing in March. It also includes the 96% of folks who tested positive and never went to the hospital, because they had mild or – in most cases – no symptoms.
The media, including NYT and WAPO, are also obsessed with danger, danger, danger in California, Arizona and Texas.
CNN gets its cues from Johns Hopkins University (JHU), which has offered frightening prediction of virus deaths in the U.S.
For example, on May 5 a Johns Hopkins study had to be clarified:
Analysis included in leaked government documents that showed the U.S. could see up to 3,000 deaths per day (on June 1) from coronavirus was not meant to be used for official forecasts, JHU claimed.
The university said researchers at its school of public health produced the study for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist planning, as states begin loosening their restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus.
But Hopkins was completely wrong with its 3,000 deaths-per-day prediction..
Deaths fell to 865 on May 17, and then to 353 on May 24, almost 1/8th the scary projection.
The JSU study also showed the U.S. reaching 200,000 new cases daily by June 1. By May 24 cases had fallen to 26,000, also about 1/8th the Hopkins’ forecast.
About 2,357,000 in the U.S. have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. The test total is 28,500,000, so about eight percent of those tested were positive, but only four percent of those have been hospitalized, which means that 320 of every 100,000 tested actually required hospitalization.
Despite all the reports of overwhelming deaths and serious illnesses, the total coronavirus hospital cases across the nation was 16,000 on Sunday.
The chart in today’s blog is sorted by the rate of deaths per million residents. New York is the worst – 1,605 deaths per million.
What about the states that CNN points out as danger spots?
Florida is one/11th the New York death rate (1,605) with just 147 per million. California is 140. Arizona is 184 .
Compare that not just to New York’s 1,605, but also: New Jersey – 1,463, Connecticut – 1,195, Massachusetts – 1,140 and dozens of other states with much higher death rates.
But what about CNN’s dire view of Texas? It was too low to fit on my chart, but their death rate per million was 76. You are 20x as likely to have died from the virus in New York than in the Lone Star state.
What you won’t see on CNN is a report on why there are suddenly more than usual new cases in those particular states.
All have a common problem – current heavy influxes of legal and “undocumented” farm workers, primarily from Mexico, and they are being heavily tested.
Our neighbor south of the penetrable border is in trouble with 1,044 deaths yesterday, versus 363 in the entire U.S., and its hospitals are filling up fast – another reason for their residents to seek jobs and virus medical treatments here.
The most deadly states are Northeast coastal, but the media is now focusing on places that have done an excellent job in keeping death rates low. A fair Press would ask why deadly nursing home policies, plus unrestricted air travel in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, have led to the unnecessary deaths of so many.
Another wrinkle in reporting the extent of the virus revolves around the principal source quoted by media – Johns Hopkins.
Here again, let’s follow the money and the politics.
Hopkins is advocating testing every contact of every person tested positive every day, which means isolating those exposed, and those exposed to those exposed.
If 10,000 folks tested positive tomorrow, virtually all without symptoms, each of their contacts (estimate 40) in the past two weeks must be found and isolated. Forty times 10,000 equals 400,000, which leads to 400,000 times 40 equals 16 million – all to be placed under quarantine.
Imagine then contact tracing the 40 contacts of the 16 million quarantined?
This might have worked early in the spread when there were 50 cases total, but to even attempt it today would require many hundreds of thousands of contact tracers, and even then it seems an impossible task in a country so large without forcing major privacy violations.
Despite the insanity of such a plan, tv talk show phenom Dr. Anthony Fauci fully endorses the concept of contact tracing and attempting to eventually test each of our 330 million residents.
And what Fauci isn’t advertising is that you may be negative one day, but an hour later you can test positive. Daily testing – at the least – seems necessary in this idiot-savant fantasy.
If nothing else, the companies who make the tests will get rich and the folks administering them will be very busy.
What is the source of the enthusiasm for contact tracing at Johns Hopkins?
It comes from Fauci’s associate, multi-billionaire and Trilateral Commission member Michael Rubens “Mike” Bloomberg.
On April 30 Bloomberg sketched out his plan to team up with Hopkins to develop mass coronavirus contact tracing in New York and eventually across the country.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed and said to stop the spread of COVID-19, his state will need 6,400 to 17,000 workers to trace the contacts of those who test positive in New York.
Cuomo, whose state had the most deaths in the nation per thousand from the virus, wants to increase diagnostic testing, and trace contacts of those who test positive and isolate those who have been in close contact with affected people.
If New York needs 17,000 tracers for its 20 million residents, initiating the program for 330 million across the nation (20x as large) would require 330,000 tracers.
“When you get a positive, you talk to that person and trace back who they have been in contact with. Then test those people. You then isolate those people, so you don’t increase the rate of infection,” Cuomo said. “That’s what tracing is. The faster you trace, the better.”
And then there’s that Bloomberg-suggested smartphone app that knows when you contact someone who has tested positive. Does a drone suddenly appear overhead and shout – “Report to the virus camps immediately, or else?” The other choice would be sirens wailing as police rush you into a van that takes you to railroad cars that lumber into camps surrounded by barbed wire.
What a goofy plan.
And you have to wonder why such a prestigious university would go along with Bloomberg’s impossible dream.
VOX reported in November, 2018:
Former New York mayor (and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate) Michael Bloomberg has given $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, to use for financial aid.
For a lot less than $1.8 billion, I would wear an “I LIKEMIKE”
But, I don’t think I would go on television every week and lie about how we need to test every soul in the U.S., and then be obliged to quarantine tens of millions, destroying the country in vain pursuit of absolute perfection, while pleasing my billionaire buddy.
Want to be frightened by phony statistics – repeated daily without ever checking the source?
Pick a number, any number, twist it, turn it, feed it to the gullible, everyone from Barney Fife to Donald Trump. For extra fun, listen to the fools repeat your lies, day after day, like twits stupidly loving their fake followers.
Much propaganda can be excused as entertainment. Were Rock Hudson and Phyllis Gates (no relation to “Bill”) happily married as portrayed in the Press? Will Joe Biden pick Michelle Obama as running mate? Does our President secretly watch On the Waterfront reruns when depressed?
But if lives and livelihoods are at stake, fake news, false statistics and unfounded conclusions should be exposed by smart Media outlets that ask questions and don’t always excuse bureaucratic bungling.
The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington now forecasts more than 137,000 Americans will die by early August, up from its previous forecast of 134,000 deaths.
That rise is largely due to Americans moving around more, IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a news release, adding that in some places the upward trend in movement began before statewide measures were relaxed.
Researchers tracked that movement through anonymous cell phone data, according to the release, Murray, who used to work for W.H.O., explained.
That death number prediction today followed a total of 750 deaths in the U.S. on Sunday from the virus, according to IHME data.
But in the model, IHME projected 1,842 deaths for that same day, nearly 1,100 more victims than necessary to make their projection grow to 137,000. The model is not updated from their own new data daily or even every two or three days. Staff must be busy with other chores?
Examining the IHME model, the level of 750 U.S. deaths should not have been reached until June 11 – nearly at the bottom (and end) of the curve.
The model is obviously flawed and vague. For example, U.S. deaths yesterday were predicted at 1,789. but in parentheses it warned somewhere between 1,346 and 2,617. Actual deaths listed were 1,008, again far below even the bottom range of prediction.
The lighter pink in the graph is the giant deviation allowed by IHME.
Adding to that distortion, the model was changed on April 15 to permit observation alone to determine new coronavirus cases and deaths. Testing is no longer required.
The apparent deception, deliberate or stupid – doesn’t stop there.
This is yesterday morning’s IHME summary of total U.S. cases and deaths:
The headlines from all the media and IHME reported more than one million active cases. You would interpret that as existing now (the adjective definition of active).
It may be possible to have explained Santa Clause to eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon by citing hope, love and charity, but I doubt if even she would have fallen for today’s faulty stats.
We start with IHME cases -1.367,638 – then subtract deaths of 80,787 to equal 1,286,851 for cases remaining. Total recovered is 256,336, which must be subtracted from the 1,286,851 to yield IHME active cases of 1,030,515.
How can there be more than a million active COVID-19 cases remaining in the U.S. after months of testing that accumulated a total of 1.367 million cases?
That’s impossible. Either more folks died, recovered, or do we have a huge number still being treated?
None of those possibilities are true.
What IHME has done that fools us is exaggerate the number of serious, hospitalized cases to include the patients tested positive with little or no symptoms, who were just sent home.
On another page (right) IHME notes on its world results (not on U.S. page) that 98% of described active cases are “mild condition” and the rest – 2% – are serious or critical.
Putting these scattered facts together, we can conclude there were 1.03 million active cases, but nearly all of them (98% or so) were judged mild.
IHME does not provide an actual number of these mild cases for the U.S. After months nearly all of those tested mild positive must have fully recovered – even if they had any symptoms at outset. It would be correct to say there has been an accumulated million positive test cases.
There is an answer from IHME to just how many Americans are currently seriously ill with COVID-19, and it shows (see summary above) under the heading Serious, Critical, as 16,514 tested or observed current hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
The headline should read COVID-19 patients total more than 16,500 in U.S. hospitals – not some misleading million active cases.
New York State’s status confirms this conclusion of what are real U.S. numbers, as Governor Andrew Cuomo explained Saturday:
New York’s number of coronavirus hospitalizations and intubations continues to decline. Total (N.Y. State) hospitalizations fell to 8,196 on Friday.
We’re finally ahead of this virus.
The IHME report, however, does not show a total of New York’s hospitalized or serious/critical cases – just a misleading 260,494 active cases, instead of 8,196 hospitalized. If there was really one quarter of a million seriously ill, it would be an impossible challenge to a state with just 55,000 hospital beds.
Is IHME deliberately misleading the public, politicians and working to inflate the severity of the virus?
The Microsoft founder, William Gates (no relation to “Phyllis”), is the major funder of this institute.
“IHME provides critical data about global health trends that can empower policymakers worldwide to identify better solutions in the fight against disease,” Gates, co-chair of the $46 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said.
Taken from a past IHME press release:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) announced today the foundation’s commitment to invest $279 million in IHME to expand its work over the next decade.
…IHME is now considered the trusted source for the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, the National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, and a range of other national and global organizations.
A critic of President Donald Trump, Gates says the US needs to be testing 20 million people a day by midsummer. He urges ten more weeks of total national shutdown.
He has also described the need to develop software, including smartphone apps, to keep accurate track of virus testing and predict future trends – which would also record every person you meet and every place you go.
Remember when the governors closed nearly all the states for months to fight the Flu in 2018, when high estimates showed 95,000 deaths, and even the average guess was 61,000?
Remember how President Donald Trump reacted in 2019, when that prior year analysis came true, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided the almost final number was 61,000 deaths, plus or minus 20,000 to 30,000 deaths?
Remember when Trump demanded to know why the CDC had no clue to the actual flu death numbers, despite the agency’s 10,899 employees and budget of $11.1 billion?
You can’t remember what didn’t happen, but the disaster of home imprisonment for hundreds of millions of Americans will long be recalled as record fear-mongering, more suited to electioneering than providing our people the truth.
Unfortunately, the President usually listens to the wrong advisors, and rarely reviews the actual statistics that might refute their talking points.
For example, in a recent interview in the Lincoln Memorial, he mused that many other countries kept their businesses open and didn’t force everyone to stay at home. He said they did the wrong thing by not closing, or re-opening too soon.
He mentioned Sweden and Japan. Sweden has been repeatedly castigated by the American Press for putting its citizens in danger by not closing stores and factories, and allowing residents to go forth in the great outdoors.
The table we assembled at the end of this blog lists the Covid-19 deaths by million, total deaths and cases by million yesterday for the states and most nations. Flu cases are only those patients seen by a doctor or hospital. Actual cases were much higher and included those who self-medicated, worked through the illness, or ignored symptoms.
By contrast, Covid-19 cases in the U.S. are either those presumed to have the virus, or were tested positive for the virus, regardless of symptoms or recovery. While about 96% of Covid-19 cases require no hospitalization, they are still continually reported as active cases, and never removed from the CDC reports, boosting perception of a larger infection rate than actual.
Sorted by the death rate, our table allows comparison of how well the pandemic was contained, and it paints an ugly picture for many states, especially New York, where daily press briefings by its governor hid a disaster that could only be properly attributed to incompetence, primarily in New York City.
New York state has 1,268 deaths per million residents. Compare that to Trump-target Sweden with 274 deaths or Japan with four deaths per million citizens!
New Jersey has suffered 888 deaths per million, Connecticut – 697, Massachusetts – 586, Louisiana – 431, Michigan – 407, Rhode Island – 323. Each of those states has a higher rate than one of the CDC estimates of U.S. flu deaths in 2018, the last year of verified data.
Across the nation the death per million average was 211 as of yesterday. Excluding New York it would be 170.
The President also trumpeted the accomplishment of performing more virus tests than South Korea, ignoring reality – endless testing won’t stop deaths. Instead, he should have credited South Korea with its five deaths per million citizens, a stunning 1/234th of New York and 1/42d the U.S. average.
And Trump should confront those unmasked health bureaucrats that flank him on press briefings and ask questions like these:
Explain how a “communist/socialist/backward/dictatorship” like Russia has a Covid-19 death rate of just nine, versus the lowest for any U.S. state – Alaska – which has 12 deaths per million?
How does a collapsing dictatorship like Cuba manage only a virus death rate of six?
Are you surprised that densely populated Egypt, which gets billions in foreign aid from the U.S. has a rate of just four deaths, versus New York’s 1,268?
Finally, how can one of the poorest nations on earth and second most populous – India – manage just one death per million?
Examine the following table:
Decide for yourself if hiding at home worked, and ponder why four states – New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts – represent nearly 60% of all deaths in the 50 states.
Is reporting both confirmed and probable deaths – as ordered by the CDC on April 15 without any certification – the correct way to compile data affecting hundreds of millions.
Why has third-world Africa virtually escaped the pandemic with just 1,848 total deaths in a continent of 1.2 billion.
Why is the death rate in Massachusetts higher than Spain or Italy, while both nations are portrayed as suffering the worst infections worldwide by the media?
How can Texas have only 889 deaths, while New York – with 8 million less population – totals 24,874?
“Right now Medicare is determining that if you (a doctor) have a Covid-19 admission to the hospital, you get $13,000. If that Covid-19 patient goes on a ventilator you get $39,000, three times as much. Nobody can tell me after 35 years in the world of medicine that sometimes those kinds of things impact on what we do,” Minnesota Senator Dr. Scott Jensen explained.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging American doctors to over-count coronavirus deaths across the US, he added, showing a 7-page document coaching him to fill out death certificates with a Covid-19 diagnosis without a lab test to confirm the patient actually had the virus,” he said.
“…under the CDC guidelines, a patient who died after being hit by a bus and tested positive for coronavirus would be listed as having presumed to have died from the virus, regardless of whatever damage was caused by the bus,” he added.
Some have called the governor of Pennsylvania a sheep in wolf’s clothing (Thomas Westerman Wolf), and others describe him as a snotty rich guy, who went to private schools (The Hill School), and has no clue about how average folks live.
Transparency: I live in Montgomery County, PA, one of 840,000 citizens bordering northwest Philadelphia. I grew up in Kensington, the poorest neighborhood in that city of not always brotherly love.
Today, I can’t legally escape my suburban home, because of the Governor and Levine, his Secretary of Health, who have become partners to impose onerous Covid-19 (Wuhan Virus, Coronavirus, China Virus) regulations that may be for the rest of my life at age 78.
Is it time to move to California or South Carolina, where the beaches are open and folks in government have leaders who use at least half their brains? Even Georgia sounds tempting, despite those pesky June beetle bugs.
Wolf may be the dumbest Pennsylvania governor in history.
When deciding on “essential services”, the governor banned online car sales, perhaps not understanding that keyboards cannot be directly connected to auto showrooms, and viruses don’t travel through long wires to a computer.
While the rest of the state is missing its rums and cokes, Levine and Wolf can still enjoy their favorite vintage wine.
He closed all the state liquor stores, including curbside service, but continued to allow unlimited wine sales in supermarkets (for the better class of drunks?).
In a stark moment of reality he also permitted grocery store beer sales, because someone probably described the results of tar and feathers on even a wolf’s naked body. No beer means fast revolution, and aren’t we trying to “flatten the curve” to avoid riots and such?
Levine and Wolf’s biggest mutual sin is their plan to keep Southeaster Pennsylvania a possibly perpetual stay-at-home destination.
The map below shows all regions of the state. Every county will open within two weeks, including where Wolf and Levine go at night. Some freedom for all, except the Southeast – where I live along with 5.2 million other in-home incarcerated citizens.
Montgomery County Commissioner Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, DO, – another not-so-bright bulb – seemed almost gleeful in a recent television interview, explaining the criterion to reopen the SE region.
This will also be viewed as a regional exercise. That is critically important because we all know that this virus doesn’t care about any borders. We know our workforce travels back and forth between counties, she said.
Arkoosh said the requirement is that in each county only 50 reported cases per 100,000 residents will be allowed for an entire 14-day period. If any county goes above that 50 total for two weeks, the region will remain in shutdown. If any single county meets the goal they can’t open unless all the counties in the region do the same.
Does this sound like announcing Nap Time in kindergarten?
For Montgomery County’s 831,000 residents that means a daily average of no more than 30 cases total at various testing centers.
The County’s daily total this past Sunday was 129 cases, which drops the following 13 days to average about 20 cases to meet the Phase 2 standard. In recent weeks the average has been 187 cases daily, making a 20-per-day result seemingly impossible.
Oddly, the first release of Levine and Wolf’s requirements indicated 50 cases each day for 14 days, and not one day exceeding that. When questioned, Levine said she meant 50 cases total for two weeks, and that’s where things stand today.
The federal government is only requiring a downward trajectory for two weeks.
There is another flaw – a big one – in using new cases as a criterion to just begin returning to normal life. Of the 129 cases reported in Montgomery County on Sunday, only 14 were hospitalized. The other 115 went home, but they still count against the threshold of averaging 30 cases daily to move out of the current Red Phase.
In recent findings, New York state had an estimated 2.7 million recovered active cases, so Pennsylvania should have 1.8 million – all of them unreported by testing. By that estimate, Montgomery County alone has some 140,000 unreported, recovered cases so far.
The regulations apply to all counties, and below is the breakdown of goals versus actual in the SE region. Remember that every county has to achieve these results or all the counties will continue in the red phase.
2019 population: 421,164
Population / 100,000: 4.21164
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 1,517, Daily Average – 108
Target Numbers: 14 day – 211, Daily Average – 15 Deficit – 93 daily active tests. 14-day: 1,309
2019 Population: 628,270
Population / 100,000: 6.2827
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 1,525, Daily Average – 109
Target Numbers: 14 days – 314, Daily Average – 22 Deficit – 87 daily active tests. 14-day: 1,218
2019 Population: 524,989
Population / 100,000: 5.24989
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 736, Daily Average – 53
Target Numbers: 14 days – 262, Daily Average – 19 Deficit – 34 daily active tests. 14-day: 475
2019 Population: 566,747
Population / 100,000: 5.66747
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 2,126, Daily Average – 152
Target Numbers: 14 days – 283, Daily Average – 20 Deficit – 132 daily active tests. 14-day:1,848
2019 Population: 545,724
Population / 100,000: 5.45724
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 1,017, Daily Average – 73
Target Numbers: 14 days – 273, Daily Average – 19 Deficit – 54 daily active tests. 14-day: 756
2019 population: 830,915
Population / 100,000: 8.30915
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 2,612, Daily Average – 187
Target Numbers: 14 day – 415, Daily Average – 30 Deficit – 157 daily active tests. 14-day: 2,058
2019 population: 1,584,064
Population / 100,000: 15.84064
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 8,286 Daily Average – 592
Target Numbers: 14 day – 792, Daily Average – 57 Deficit – 535 daily active tests. 14-day: 7,490
2019 population: 141,359
Population / 100,000: 1.41359
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 232 Daily Average – 17
Target Numbers: 14 day – 71, Daily Average – 5 Deficit – 12 daily active tests. 14-day: 168
Total Southeastern Pennsylvania Region
2019 population: 5,243,232
Population / 100,000: 52.43232
Current Numbers (4/24/20): 14 day – 18,051 Daily Average – 1,291
Target Numbers: 14 day – 2,622, Daily Average – 187 Deficit – 1,104 daily active tests. 14-day: 15,456
All of the SE counties would have to each eliminate their deficits in order to enter Phase 2 (Yellow), which still doesn’t open schools, bars, restaurants, or allow gatherings of more than 25 persons.
There is no word yet from Levine and Wolf on how we will enter the Green phase, which lifts nearly all restrictions, except CDC rules, also unannounced.
The Southeast region has the most testing, most urban city population, and yet the hospitalized cases seem to average about 10% of active cases, and these totals include those both tested and observed as having the virus.
Deaths in Pennsylvania – now either from testing or mere observation by recently diluted CDC rules – totaled 19 on Sunday in a population of more than 12 million. Yesterday was 37.
It’s a problem for me to imagine how Secretary of Health Levine can relate to average working Pennsylvanians.
For example, she regularly appears on television to reassure residents and provide them with updates and health guidelines. In a recent interview Levine described her job:
My day is busy. I get here at 7 and prepare for my day. Our meeting starts at 8, where first I talk with my team for an hour, and then I go and speak with the senior staff of the governor’s office. And then the senior staff, and I, and the FEMA director have a meeting and then it goes from there.
Many meetings, much sitting, talking, earning salary of $600 a day:
I have a daily press conference … sometimes by myself or with the governor to update the public on the status of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and the response of our administration. I often speak with legislators and other stakeholders. And then we have a 5 o’clock sum-up meeting till 6. And then I go home and do emails.
While the rest of us are stalked by the “stay home” police, Levine is exempt:
No stay at home. And right now it is seven days a week. So we’ve been at this pace for a while. We’re going to do whatever is possible, whatever it takes to protect the public health of Pennsylvania.
If I had any hope that she would ease the testing insanity, this dashed it:
We’re working on expanding testing. So that is testing for priority populations such as health care workers, nursing homes, etc., to our public health laboratory. But then we also have worked with hospitals and health systems to [set] up testing centers.
And a lot of those tests are either done by the health system or through the commercial laboratories such as Quest or LabCorp.
The more testing, the more active (non-hospitalized) cases, and the longer it will take for SE Pennsylvania to open, if ever.
Levine wants everyone to know that life is tough at the top, even when you can go and do what you wish:
I’m trying to get enough sleep and I’m trying to eat well as best I can. I’m trying to practice what my message is, which is stay calm. I can’t stay home because I have to be here, but staying safe.
But really, I’m not going out anywhere except here and then home. So not too much exposure outside of here at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Association. But it is very important to stay calm and focused in the midst of emergencies.
And you know, that’s what I learned in my clinical years during my training and then at my time at Mount Sinai and then Penn State when we would see very ill children and adolescents. In those emergency clinical situations, it’s important to stay calm, and so that’s what I do now.
Rachel should realize that the state’s residents would explain to her -given the chance – that they don’t care how calm she is, or overworked.
They would tell her to change senseless rules and allow us to quickly get back to normal.
For a starter let’s stop counting “active” cases, and just use real hospitalized ones, not manufactured ones.
Then, have her tell us what are the goals for the final (Green) phase, so that officials don’t change them with each new statistic in order to further extend the shutdown.
Finally, Dr. Levine, please stop trying to be our nanny. All that does is make us dislike you more and more.
And would someone tell Levine we really don’t care about platitudes such as the following:
Hope is such an important thing. I think that we have to have hope for the future. I think we have to have hope for the future of our commonwealth in Pennsylvania, hope for the future of our nation.
And in relation to some of the things we’re talking about, hope for the future for the LGBTQ community. I firmly believe that we have made progress. We have been under challenges and faced a lot of challenges with this current administration.
Note to doctor: the real challenges are for the millions enduring this, and not for the folks at the top, who are causing it.
Late breaking good news for the “better” class of folks.: Governor Wolf just announced the opening of golf courses and yacht marinas, as of May 1. All factories, schools, restaurants, office buildings and other activities will remain closed until further notice and citizens are asked to continue cowering in their homes without jobs. (Will the “essential” country club waiters just serve wine, or sneak in a few cocktails at the clubhouse?)
Follow the money! The esteemed investor site The Motley Fool explained this week:
The drug (Remdesivir) could see over $1 billion in sales in the course of the entire coronavirus outbreak, due to the sheer number of patients infected and potentially at risk for the virus. This is assuming the drug can treat up to 500,000 patients and cost little over $2,000 for one course of treatment.
But who will control the licensing and supply of the drug, now being promoted by the media as the preferred treatment for Covid-19, versus Hydroxychloroquine, a $20 generic?
Remember the lab where the virus probably originated?
“The Wuhan Institute of Virology — based in the Chinese city at the center of the epidemic — has applied for a patent in China for the use of the antiviral drug, known as Remdesivir, in treating Covid-19. The application was made on Jan. 21 together with a military academy,” according to a Feb. 4 statement on the institute’s website.
If the application succeeds, Gilead would need to get Chinese patent owners on board in sales of the drug for treating coronavirus infections outside China, including the United States.
“The good thing in having a patent is that it would lead to cross-licensing situations that give China more bargaining chips in negotiating the licensing fee with Gilead,” Wang Yanyu, a senior partner at AllBright Law Offices in Beijing, explained.
While the politicians in the U.S. were busy closing the Senate and dominating the airwaves with a foregone no at the President’s impeachment trial, China was busy buying up supplies to treat the virus and making this bet on Remdesivir.
“While Gilead’s experimental drug isn’t licensed or approved anywhere in the world, it is being rushed into trials in China on coronavirus patients after showing early signs of being highly effective. It may go into clinical trials in China as early as next week in patients with moderate and severe symptoms of the pathogen,” Merdad Parsey, Gilead’s chief medical officer, said.
In the journal Cell Research Wuhan Institute scientists said Gilead’s Remdesivir, and Hydroxychloroquine, are “highly effective” in laboratory studies at thwarting the coronavirus.
China is capable of manufacturing Hydroxychloroquine, and now wants not only access to Remdesivir, but also worldwide control of the drug.
Gilead will still retain the global rights to market the antiviral medication, once approved, in treating illnesses such as Ebola and SARS, the Wuhan institute said.
If China grants the patent, it will control the use and price of Remdesivir, enabling huge profits from treating a worldwide virus. Gilead’s share from working with China remains unclear at this time, but dividing up a global Remdesivir treatment conservative total of even 100 million patients would yield a $200 billion payoff.
Will Congress, the media or the medical profession censure the company for such a deal?
Unlikely, since Big Pharma spends tens of billions of dollars on ads and other marketing, including direct payments to universities and doctors.
Totals listed below account for payments during the 2018 calendar year that mention Gilead products.
Totals listed below account for payments during the 2018 calendar year that mention this product. If a payment record mentions more than one product, the entire value will be included in each of those products.
Gilead products, number of doctors, and total paid
EPCLUSA 7,487 $4.32M
BIKTARVY 3,937 $2.08M
TRUVADA 3,496 $1.65M
VEMLIDY 3,268 $1.58M
ZYDELIG 1,283 $962K
RANEXA 2,290 $870K
CAYSTON 559 $292K
YESCARTA 233 $218K
LETAIRIS 1,566 $181K
HARVONI 176 $29,211
Top Doctors Receiving Payments From Gilead in 2018
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
BIRMINGHAM, AL $302K
ZOBAIR YOUNOSSI Surgery
FALLS CHURCH, VA $234K
SORANA SEGAL- MAURER Infectious Disease
FLUSHING, NY $142K
CHRISTIAN RAMERS Infectious Disease
SAN DIEGO, CA $138K
CALVIN PAN Gastroenterology
FLUSHING, NY $135K
ANTHONY MARTINEZ Internal Medicine
BUFFALO, NY $130K
BRIAN PEARLMAN Internal Medicine
ATLANTA, GA $128K
FELICIA STERMAN Internal Medicine
SAN FRANCISCO, CA $122K
SAMMY SAAB Transplant Surgery
LOS ANGELES, CA $121K
DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM Geriatric Medicine
SCOTTSDALE, AZ $114K
CYNTHIA BRINSON Family Medicine
AUSTIN, TX $102K
Top Teaching Hospitals Receiving Payments From Gilead in 2018
EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL ATLANTA, GA $2.76M
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA HOSPITAL BIRMINGHAM, AL $1.76M
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL BOSTON, MA $1.45M
LANGLEY PORTER PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL SAN FRANCISCO, CA $1.26M
What is your chance of a fatal Covid-19 infection?
We compiled these charts yesterday to demonstrate total deaths per 1,000, 10,000 and 1,000,000 persons by state and country. Some 193 nations are safer and have a lower mortality than the United States. The higher the number, the more chance of death. Only one nation – San Marino – has more than a one-in-a-thousand chance of dying from the disease.
Who is Joe Grogan? Hint: he is not the famous comedian – Joe Rogan.
Here’s the graph of his resume – revolving from industry to government and now the White House – enough to make your head spin from such swinging roles.
Is it possible for any lobbyist from Gilead Sciences to be fair and objective in determining our drug policy? Most of us believe you can put lipstick on a pig, but the beast will still revert to acting and thinking like a pig, and my instinct says Grogan is just a Revlon-enhanced pawn of Pharma’s pen of paid omnivores.
President Donald Trump has done nothing to fulfill his campaign promise of lowering drug prices, and many attribute that failure to advice from Grogan.
The latest Trump stumble is appointing Grogan to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Task Force. The result is a fox in an already bureaucratic hen house, where members are focused on ultra safety, avoiding failure and – one wonders also – maximizing drug company profits.
For example, why is the task force, pushed by an aggressive Grogan, playing down the use of hydroxicholiquine to treat Covid-19, while seemingly seeking expensive alternatives.
The reason might be that this drug, used around the world and in the United States successfully, is a cheap generic with no room to overcharge and enrich the callous investor class.
Enter, stage right: remdesivir!
In early March, Gilead sought and was subsequently granted an orphan drug designation (from the FDA) for the remdesivir as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Orphan drug designation is granted by the FDA in situations where the disease affects fewer than 200,000 patients in the United States, according to a Gilead press release.
Orphan drug means you can exclude use of generic equivalents for seven years and have a monopoly to fix its cost.
Gilead is not above charging astronomical prices if it gets permission. Two examples: Harvoni, a blockbuster Hepatitis C drug, costs $31,500 and Gilead’s Sovaldi, costs $28,000 – both per month!
Grogan, top health advisor to Trump, could have stopped the FDA giveaway to Gilead, or at least interrupted the President’s endless briefings to explain that it was obvious remdesivir was not orphan, and ultimately could be used on billions of patients, totally disqualifying it for a price-fixing monopoly.
Senator Bernie Sanders – who has finally stopped campaigning – heard about the FDA rollover to Gilead, and loudly ripped the agency and the drug company for their arrogant attempt to enrich Grogan’s former employer.
Gilead quickly relented and asked to withdraw the fake orphan tag in this press release:
Gilead has submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to rescind the orphan drug designation it was granted for the investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 and is waiving all benefits that accompany the designation. Gilead is confident that it can maintain an expedited timeline in seeking regulatory review of remdesivir, without the orphan drug designation. Recent engagement with regulatory agencies has demonstrated that submissions and review relating to remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 are being expedited.
In its report on the 53 patients studied for use of remdesivir, Gilead revealed these adverse effects:
A total of 32 patients (60%) reported adverse events during follow-up. The most common adverse events were increased hepatic enzymes, diarrhea, rash, renal impairment, and hypo-tension. In general, adverse events were more common in patients receiving invasive ventilation. A total of 12 patients (23%) had serious adverse events. The most common serious adverse events — multiple-organ-dysfunction syndrome, septic shock, acute kidney injury, and hypo-tension — were reported in patients who were receiving invasive ventilation at baseline.
Four patients (8%) discontinued remdesivir treatment prematurely: one because of worsening of preexisting renal failure, one because of multiple organ failure, and two because of elevated aminotransferases, including one patient with a maculopapular rash.
Have government officials been playing down one drug – hydroxicholiquine – in favor of another one, not because of highest efficacy and safety, but because one will enrich Big Pharma and the other won’t.
Grogan’s graduation from Gilead to the White House violated Trump’s campaign-trail pledge to “drain the swamp” of D.C. corruption. He promised his administration would refrain from hiring lobbyists.
In 2017 White House budget director and ex-congressman Mick Mulvaney ignored the swamp-draining pledge and hired Grogan, who was then Gilead’s head of federal affairs. In the long run lobbyists took dozens of jobs in the Trump administration.
To watchers of Mulvaney it was no surprise he liked paid petitioners.
In April 2018, Mulvaney told a room of banking industry executives and lobbyists that as a U. S. Representative, he refused to take meetings with lobbyists unless they contributed to his political campaigns:
If you are a lobbyist who never gave us money, I did not talk to you. If you are a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.
He was later named acting Chief of White House Staff.
After his hiring, Mulvaney protege Grogan soon seemed to control the administration’s drug pricing efforts, leading meetings of the Drug Pricing and Innovation Working Group.
Grogan invited Robert Shapiro, a member of a Gilead advisory board, to give a presentation to one meeting. The group never issued formal recommendations, but Business Insider said these were some of the highlights of sessions:
The group wants to extend overseas patents, which would give drug makers longer periods of exclusivity before generic drugs come to the market.
It also wants … changes to the regulatory system and reimbursements for medications.
Members have chatted about value-based pricing, a concept in which prescriptions are paid for based on how well they work, rather than on a per-pill basis.
The group considered setting up Treasury bonds to pay for expensive treatments that have led to only the sickest patients receiving treatment because of the high cost in recent years.
Other documents from the working group discuss being more lenient on clinical trials, which the FDA uses the data from to vet experimental drugs.
Some text in the working group’s documents was taken directly from papers written by the lobby group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
In a few cases in recent years Grogan has been almost favorable to consumers, but his past adhesion to the drug industry, and continued favoritism, should disqualify him as an honest broker.
Meanwhile, Mulvaney has just been exiled to Northern Ireland, where blarney is more acceptable, Grogan remains in power, and Big Pharma awaits rewards.
Two deadly viruses and their prescription drug prices:
AIDS – BIKTARVY is a complete HIV-1 treatment that combines 3 powerful medicines into 1 small pill, taken once a day with or without food. The COSTCO price for Biktarvy oral tablets (50 mg-200 mg-25 mg) is $3,202.66 for a supply of 30 tablets. Prices are for cash-paying customers only, and are not valid with insurance plans. Biktarvy is available as a brand name drug only, a generic version is not yet available.
COVID-19 – 37% of 6,227 doctors across 30 countries felt the drug Hydroxychloroquine was the “most effective therapy” out of 15 options in treating coronavirus. COSTCO cash price is $14.33 for 30 tablets of this generic drug. If you have money to burn, a brand name version is available at $317.64 for the same dosage at COSTCO.
The outcry against a low cost COVID-19 treatment has begun in the United States – the country with the most expensive drugs in the world, a place where a patient spending $38,472 a year on an AIDS prescription is just big business as usual.
“Hydroxychloroquine needs months of clinical trials,” the government health brain trust maintains, despite it being safely used around the world for decades to treat various ailments.
“It could have serious side effects if administered improperly,” the American Medical Association declares, neglecting to mention that even too much aspirin at once can quickly kill you.
Hydroxychloroquine was approved for medical use in the United States in 1955. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed for a health system. In 2017, it was the 128th-most-prescribed medication in the United States, with more than five million prescriptions, according to Wikipedia.
If we follow the money, we learn why supplicants of Big Pharma discredit any drug that doesn’t reap huge profits by overpricing essential drugs in our for-very-big-profits health system.
Hydroxychloroquine is cheap, easy to produce, long in use, and judged effective enough that other nations prefer it as the major treatment for coronavirus.
This drug has been prescribed in 72% of coronavirus cases in Spain, 49% in Italy, 41% in Brazil, 39% in Mexico, 28% in France, and 23% in the United States, where about 19% of physicians have already used it for high-risk patients, and 8% for the low-risk ones.
Those same top government experts, we watch on tv daily, are the same ones who were involved in fighting AIDS. That epidemic’s solutions have resulted in billions of dollars spent on incredibly costly drugs and fabulous profits for healthcare system investors..
The current efforts to denigrate low-cost solutions to the COVID-19 crisis, even include the once independent New York Times:
The president’s advocacy of the anti-malarial drug has created tensions in his administration, and fears among doctors that it could unnecessarily expose patients to risks.
You can’t tell that lie to the pollster of the following Sermo global survey, showing doctors’ preferences.
Sermo CEO Peter Kirk explained:
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.
With censorship of the media and the medical community in some countries, along with biased and poorly designed studies, solutions to the pandemic are being delayed.
The survey also found that 63% of U.S. physicians believe restrictions should be lifted in six weeks or more, and that the epidemic’s peak is at least 3-4 weeks away.
In addition, the survey also reported that 83% of global physicians anticipate a second global outbreak, including 90% of U.S. doctors, but only 50% of physicians in China.
On average, U.S. coronavirus testing takes 4-5 days, while 10% of cases take longer than seven days. In China, 73% of doctors reported getting rest results back in 24 hours.
Other governments are not questioning the use of Hydroxychloroquine or waiting to use it until months or years of blind tests are completed.
Most nations have single-payer healthcare, which seeks the least expensive and most effective drugs for taxpayers. By contrast, the U.S. spends more than any other country for a fleece-the-public health system that nearly always benefits investors first, even if that impoverishes the rest of us, or ignores simple, inexpensive solutions.