Time For Some Coronavirus Quick Bites

So much coronavirus news, so little hand sanitizer! (Washing your hands is better anyway, but sanitizer is an OK backup if you don't have a sink handy). Let's glove up and take a look at some of the recent developments! Eye protection not needed unless you're in a clinical setting and working with infected patients.

The World Health Organization now says it's time to officially declare this a pandemic.

The New York Times and Boston Globe have each published major stories detailing long delays in coronavirus testing, which probably led to the disease spreading. The Times story looks at delays in getting people tested in the Seattle area, while the Globe reports on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rules for who could and couldn't be tested may have contributed to the spread of Covid-19 following a single conference held in Boston. We'll be doing a more detailed piece on those two stories shortly. It's appalling. (New York Times / Boston Globe)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants some damn answers. She and fellow Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey have written to Mike Pence to ask him what the hell was up with Donald Trump's "rambling" presser last Friday at the CDC, saying Trump "spread misinformation" about the epidemic and the federal response, which risked "muddying" the supposedly coordinated message Pence's task force is supposed to be getting out. The letter also said it had become

increasingly clear that the failure of the Trump Administration to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 tests had resulted in a dramatic undercount of COVID-19 cases. increasing public health risks and creating — an embarrassing fiasco of national proportions.

The letter detailed several of Trump's bizarre statements and asked Pence to clarify just how the administration is setting priorities, especially whether Trump's desire to to keep the news positive — "I'd like to keep the numbers where they are" — is affecting actual policy and actions being taken by the government. Warren and Markey reminded Pence, "It is essential that the response you are directing is guided by scientific evidence and principles, rather than aimed at misdirected goals of assuaging the President's ego." (Kyle Griffin on Twitter)

Warren and a group of other Democrats in the Senate also wrote to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the private prison companies it contracts with, demanding they make public their plans for dealing with the disease outbreak. The senators want to know how exactly the government and the prison companies plan to protect prisoners, staff, and visitors. Warren was joined in the letter by several of her former rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders, along with a bunch of other senators, too. ( Mother Jones / Sen. Elizabeth Warren)

Leaked emails from Norwegian Cruise Line show that a sales manager in the cruise line's Miami office told sales staff to just plain lie and mislead about the coronavirus in an attempt to keep people signing up for cruises. Suggested pitches — to be used only when potential customers specifically bring up coronavirus — included pressure to book now and avoid higher costs, reassurances that "The only thing you need to worry about for your cruise is do you have enough sunscreen?" and some outright lies, like

  • "The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise";
  • "Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus"; and
  • [Coronavirus] "cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to."

We're betting the head office is likely to announce some firings and a press release insisting this was one bad apple in Florida, where the sunny weather can cause premature spoilage. (Miami New Times)

The White House would like to punish Pharma companies with Chinese manufacturing plants, using the coronavirus as an excuse. The possible tightening of "Buy American" laws is the brainchild of Trump's Fox News trade guru, Peter Navarro, who apparently thinks this is a great chance to nudge Big Pharma to move manufacturing from China to the USA. Never let a crisis go to waste! (New York Times)

Vanity Fair is just askin' whether Donald Trump is trying to downplay the threat of the coronavirus to protect his hotels and other businesses. Gosh, they sure are cynical! Donald Trump, who knows from cynicism, took to the Twitters to say the magazine will soon be out of business and that Vanity Fair's "third rate Fake reporters, who make up sources which don't exist, wrote yet another phony & boring hit piece." Which, we should note, is largely based on reporting by the Associated Press, which may be surprised to learn it doesn't exist. But don't worry, says Trump, "Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!" Including giving it a spiffy new BrandName. (Vanity Fair / AP)

Fox News is being Fox News some more, and Dear Leader is keeping us safe from CoronaVirus and ... Benghazi?

Ingraham's point is that Hillary would have been way worse at handling the "Wuhan virus," because look at how she murdered Benghazi. It is March 2020, in case you were feeling unstuck in time.

Health And Human Services was putting together an emergency coronavirus funding request on February 23, when its email system crashed for most of the day. Oops! The problem was one in a series of tech fuckups in the office of Seema Verma, the director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She'd like to be more evil, but she's on hold with tech support. (Politico)

A National Review editorialsays Donald Trump "needs to step up" on coronavirus, explaining that he needs to Be Best a lot better, lest his partisan adversaries be proven right. So far, the NR editors say, Trump has blown it, badly, on every metric. Then again, they're a bunch of failing Never-Trumpers, and everything is fine.

[NYT / Boston Globe / Kyle Griffin on Twitter / Mother Jones / Sen. Elizabeth Warren / Miami New Times / NYT Vanity Fair / AP / Politico / National Review]

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Doktor Zoom

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.


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