Chow Down On Your Coronavirus Sammich, America!
Despite Donald Trump's impressive labors to pretend the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the virus keeps surging in state after state, leading to a new single-day record for new infections Wednesday.That's 38,115 new cases nationwide, far higher than the previous record of 34,203 in the early part of the pandemic, back on April 25. We're doing great! New outbreaks are close to overwhelming hospital capacity in several states, notably Texas, Arizona, and Florida, which all hurried to get people out of their homes so they can breathe and cough and share respiratory droplets on each other. Who could have possibly seen it coming? Other than all the science nerds who said reopening too soon was a terrible idea, but they weren't even on Fox News so it didn't count.
But don't get too cocky, states that did a pretty good job of managing the early stages of the pandemic, because this virus is as relentless as the experts warned. California is in the midst of a surge in cases, too, with more than 7,000 new cases Wednesday, also a record. And in Washington state, Gov Jay Inslee issued a statewide mandate that people wear face masks, and froze the state's reopening plan at "level two" for an extra three weeks.
Even my tiny state of Idaho, one of the rare red states that took reasonably quick action on stay at home orders, is seeing record new cases, and Gov. Brad Little plans a presser today in which he may reimpose some restrictions. In Ada County, the state's most populous county, local health authorities have re-closed bars and limited the size of public gatherings.
In other words, it's getting bad again, and the federal government is more AWOL than ever. Let's all share these tapas plates of impending doom.
Despite the surge in new infections, the federal government is going through with its plan to defund 13 local testing sites in five states, including seven in Texas, because that funding was originally meant to be temporary and now it's the states' responsibility, no matter how bad they're getting hit with new cases. The government originally planned to chop all funding for the program back in April, but restored the money after national outrage. This time around, there don't appear to be any plans to extend the funding a second time; a spokesperson for Health and Human Services told Talking Points Memo that the cutoff will go through on June 30, and states are expected to "transition" to local control by then, so there. Both of Texas's Republican US senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, called for Donald Trump to please extend the program, but Trump appears to remain committed to his position that the virus will simply disappear if you stop testing for it.
Also in Texas, Gov Greg Abbott acknowledged in an interview with local TV that "There is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas," as Houston's director of emergency medical services, David Persse, said the city's healthcare infrastructure "is overwhelmed." Houston's intensive-care capacity may be reached or exceeded as early as today, Bloomberg reports.
Such an overflow will force hospitals to tap so-called surge capacity as patient numbers grow, according to Texas Medical Center data. At current rates of infection, sustainable surge capacity would be exhausted in another 10 days.
As recently as Tuesday, Abbot was still insisting that Texas has "abundant" hospital beds to care for all the newly infected patients, and he still refuses to allow cities to mandate the wearing of masks. (As we noted last week, however, several cities have found a workaround by ordering businesses to require their customers to wear masks, a loophole that Abbott's office is apparently fine with, but never told municipal officials they could use. Yay, private enterprise!)
The spike of coronavirus cases in California is so far not threatening hospital capacity, but local health officials worry it's only a matter of time. In Ventura County, hospitalizations are up by 67 percent over six weeks ago, with an average of 85 people "hospitalized daily with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections" last week.
"We're showing the first signs of starting to lose this battle against COVID-19 in our county," Dr. Robert Levin, the Ventura County health officer, told the Board of Supervisors. There are increased cases statewide as well. "It worries me. And it should worry you," he said.
We cannot continue to do what we have done over the last number of weeks. Many of us understandably developed a little cabin fever, some I would argue developed a little amnesia, others have frankly taken down their guard. [...] I want to remind each and every one of you of the importance and potency and power of your individual decision making.
He also threatened to withhold state funding from counties that fail to enforce health orders. But won't that upset the idiots with guns?
While Donald Trump continues to address the new outbreaks by tweeting about LAW AND ORDER and scary gangs of flag-burning Black people coming to get you, the Secret Service told all officers and agents who'd accompanied Trump for his Tulsa Virus Picnic to quarantine at home for 14 days.
Politico reports that although Trump promised coronavirus treatment would be free for all Americans, it's absolutely not free for all Americans.
For folks who want a Big Picture view, the New York Times published an overview of the pandemic headlined "How the Virus Won."
And the Washington Post followed up on that research in April that showed Fox News viewers were less likely to take the outbreak seriously with a new story on additional research showing possible correlations between consuming rightwing media, believing misinformation, and not following social distancing guidelines.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.