Posts tagged with "COVID-19"

Trump: Governors are begging for equipment that ‘I don’t think they will need’

March 30, 2020

As healthcare professionals—and state and local leaders—sounded the alarm over major shortages of equipment needed to provide life-saving care to COVID-19 patients, President Donald Trump on Mach 26 shrugged off their warnings because, as he put it, “a lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they will need,” The Daily Beast reported.

With cases surging nationwide—turning the United States into the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic—officials dealing with the crisis on the ground estimated a shortfall in the millions of essentials; including test kits, gloves, respirators, gowns, ventilators, and hospital beds.

Calling into Fox News host (and unofficial presidential adviserSean Hannity on Thursday, Trump boasted about his administration’s response to the virus—although on his watch, he has failed to mitigate or moderate the spread.

Asked by Hannity about his general refusal to enforce the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of needed supplies, the president insisted it hadn’t been necessary because there’s been “tremendous spirit” from corporations that he says have stepped up. This prompted him to then take some pointed shots at Democratic governors who’ve criticized the federal response.

“Remember, we are a second line of attack,” he exclaimed. “The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals. and the local government and the states.”

The president first took aim at Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, calling him a “failed presidential candidate” who is “always complaining” and “should be doing more” for his state. He then proceeded to attack Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who he said was “not stepping up” and “has not been pleasant.”

Claiming he gets along well with most of the other governors, the president then suggested they are asking for unnecessary supplies from the federal government while also insisting that the states should take on the majority of the burden.

Hannity, who began his program by blasting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for desperately declaring his state’s need for 30,000 ventilators, went on to say the governor’s request annoyed him. Moments later, Trump suggested the state didn’t need nearly that much equipment.

“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be,” he asserted. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go to major hospitals, sometimes they have two ventilators. ”

The Daily Beast reported that the death toll from COVID-19 in New York City. alone has topped 365 on Friday. The city’s entire healthcare system, meanwhile, is on the brink as more and more patients flood the hospitals. At its current pace, FEMA estimated that the city’s intensive care units would be filled by March 27.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

3M to send 500,000 respirators to New York City, Seattle

March 24, 2020

The 3M Company will send 500,000 respirators—face masks with protection suitable for a healthcare system deluged by COVID-19—to New York City and Seattle as the two cities combat the COVID-19 outbreak, its CEO announced in a statement released on Sunday, March 22.

While U.S. government agencies have not been specific about the sources and numbers of crucial, urgently needed, medical supplies that are being manufactured and distributed nationwide, 3M CEO and Chairman Mike Roman said,” … we’ve ramped up to maximum production levels of N95 respirators and doubled our global output to a rate of more than 1.1 billion per year, or nearly 100 million per month. In the United States we are producing 35 million respirators per month; of these, more than 90% are now designated for healthcare workers, with the remaining deployed to other industries also critical in this pandemic, including energy, food and pharmaceutical companies.

“ As a global company, we also manufacture respirators in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and our products are being similarly deployed to support the COVID-19 response in those respective regions.”

Already, he said, “… more than 500,000 respirators are on the way from our South Dakota plant to two of the more critically impacted areas, New York and Seattle, with arrivals expected starting tomorrow [Monday, March 23]. We are also ready to expedite additional shipments across the country.”

The company is aiming to double its global capacity to 2 billion within the next year. 3M is working with the U.S. and other governments to see if other manufacturing strategies or partnerships can expedite doubling the capacity.

Roman also said the company has maximized the production of other products related to fighting the virus, like hand sanitizers and disinfectants..

“We are all in this together, and 3M will continue to do all we can to help protect lives and get the world through this crisis,” he said in the release.

3M’s announcement came as state leaders are calling on the federal government to access medical supplies as hospitals and other health care facilities experience a lack of equipment because of the growing number of cases, The Hill reported—noting that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) called on the federal government Sunday to order the manufacturing of medical supplies, so states do not have to battle each other to get access.

New York and Washington states have been hit hard by the virus, with more than 15,000 cases and almost 2,000 cases, respectively, The Hill said.. New York State has seen the most deaths with 117; followed by Washington State, with 94, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Research contact: @3M

Democrats block Senate coronavirus bill, calling it a bailout for corporations and Trump’s family

March 24, 2020

Who will benefit from the bills that the U.S. Congress is churning out to deal with COVID-19? Will it be everyday Americans and the healthcare heroes who are struggling to stem the pandemic; or big business—including what Senator Elizabeth Warren has characterized as a “slush fund for Donald Trump and his family”—and Wall Street?

According to a report by The Huffington Post, Democrats are raising serious concerns about the Senate’s massive emergency legislation aimed at propping up the economy and giving relief to workers hit hard by the growing coronavirus pandemic—saying it’s tilted too far in favor of Wall Street and big corporations.

The bill—said to offer at least $1 trillion to prop up an economy paralyzed by the virus—would represent the largest government response thus far to the crisis.

On Wednesday, March 18, lawmakers passed and President Donald Trump signed into law Democratic legislation that makes coronavirus testing free, expands unemployment insurance benefits and provides paid leave to some displaced workers.

Now, the HuffPost says, Democrats have leverage over the final shape of the bill because it will require 60 votes for passage and Republicans number 53 in the 100-seat Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) attempted to advance the bill on Sunday evening, emphasizing the need to move quickly to help those who have been laid off during the crisis. He said both sides had ample time to reach a deal on outstanding issues before a final vote on Monday.

But Democrats unanimously blocked the measure over its provisions allowing the Trump administration to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to major industries like hotels, casinos, cruise lines, and oil and gas.

“We’re fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care,” a visibly frustrated McConnell said in a floor speech—followed by a press release—after the vote, accusing Democrats of partisan obstruction that threatened the economy.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), meanwhile, said his party opposed moving forward with the bill “because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and health care workers who need our help.”

Schumer said he was hopeful changes could be made in ongoing discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin but added that “we are not yet at that point.”

The high-stakes negotiations, which have been taking place all weekend, gained even more urgency on Sunday after Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He is the first member of the Senate to contract the virus. Four other Republican senators, some of whom were in close proximity to Paul on Capitol Hill earlier this week, also were self-isolating and did not vote Sunday.

“Wall Street’s going to do just fine. They’ve always rebounded real well … let’s take care of the people we’re asking to take care of us if we need them,” Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, said in a floor speech.

Democrats are also unhappy with the portion of the bill aimed at helping distressed industries with at least $450 billion in loans. The massive fund would be controlled by the Treasury Department and could include bailouts to hotels, casinos, cruise lines, and the oil and gas industry. It includes virtually no restrictions on how the money would be distributed, allowing properties owned directly by President Donald Trump to receive a bailout, for example, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations.

Another provision in the bill Democrats oppose would allow Mnuchin to delay publicly releasing the names of businesses that receive a bailout, as well as the amounts of those loans, for six months.

“We’re not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts.) told reporters. “We’re here to help workers, we’re here to help hospitals. And right now what the Republicans proposed does neither of those.” 

Research contact: @HuffPost

Digesting the latest facts: Early symptoms of COVID-19 include queasiness, upset stomach

March 23, 2020

The latest information about the novel coronavirus might be particularly hard to swallow. Until now, we’ve been looking for symptoms of fever and cough—but recent word on the disease indicates that it might start with an upset stomach, The New York Daily News reports.

Nearly half of the patients hospitalized in Wuhan and the wider Chinese province of Hubei, where the fast-spreading sickness was initially discovered, suffered from digestive issues, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers analyzed data from 204 people diagnosed with COVID-19 who were admitted to three different hospitals in the region between January 18 and February 28. The average age was 55. According to the report, 48.5% of those patients said their “chief complaint” was digestive problems, including upset stomach, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” wrote investigators with the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19.

Most people diagnosed with the coronavirus have respiratory symptoms, including a cough and difficulty breathing — but 7% of the patients analyzed did not have any such problems at all.

Researchers noted patients with digestive symptoms also typically waited longer to seek treatment than those without them, the Daily News noted.

“We’re so focused on a cough and fever, but it’s possible there are people with digestive symptoms that are not being tested,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

He told NY1 that, while the study is only preliminary, it highlights a need to re-evaluate testing criteria so medical officials can move faster to diagnose and quarantine patients.

“People with digestive symptoms in Wuhan presented for care later, on average two days later, compared with those who didn’t have digestive symptoms, because they didn’t suspect they had COVID-19.”

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Battle for the Oval Office: Mike Bloomberg’s campaign to donate $18M to DNC

March 23, 2020

Michael Bloomberg has promised to transfer $18 million from his presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee—boosting the party’s operations instead of forming his own super PAC, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The investment is aimed at strengthening the DNC’s battleground program, which comprises 12 states and is run in coordination with the state party committees According to NBC News, those states include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Virginia.

Bloomberg also has offered to transfer the ownership of many of his field offices to state party committees, according to a Democratiic official, who said that the former New York City mayor’s contributions would help speed up their hiring for positions in organizing, data and operations.

The multimillion-dollar boost to the party’s field organizing program could serve as a major asset to the Democratic nominee, the Journal says. Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the delegate count and has struggled to amass a large campaign war chest. Senator Bernie Sanders is still in the race, but Biden’s campaign is preparing to build out a larger staff for the general election while grappling with the new realities of campaigning during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump’s team has built a large campaign organization and is planning an extensive operation of field organizers and digital outreach to voters. Trump and the Republican National Committee had more than $225 million in the bank at the end of February.

Since he exited the race, Bloomberg’s advisers had been working on a way to absorb his campaign operations into an outside entity that would boost Biden. He said in the statement Friday they had ultimately decided to change course.

“While we considered creating our own independent entity to support the nominee and hold the President accountable, this race is too important to have many competing groups with good intentions but that are not coordinated and united in strategy and execution,” Bloomberg wrote in a memo to DNC Chairman Tom Perez that was made public Friday.

“The dynamics of the race have also fundamentally changed, and it is critically important that we all do everything we can to support our eventual nominee and scale the Democratic Party’s general-election efforts,” the former New York City mayor said.

Indeed, Bloomberg’s contribution to the DNC will be the largest transfer from a presidential campaign in recent history, the Journal notes.

“With this transfer from the Bloomberg campaign, Mayor Bloomberg and his team are making good on their commitment to beating Donald Trump,” Perez said in a statement. “This will help us invest in more organizers across the country to elect the next president and help Democrats win up and down the ballot.

Research contact: @WSJ

Pandora’s box: How to open and clean delivery packages during the COVID-19 pandemic

March 20, 2020

Just as, in Greek mythology, Pandora’s box represented a source of “great and unexpected troubles,” the packages delivered to us during the COVID-19 pandemic could arrive with an assortment of unexpected and extremely dangerous germs.

What to do? According to a report by The Huffington Post, whether it’s food delivery, groceries, or something ordered from Amazon, the packages that arrive now were put together at some other location—and passed through many hands before appearing at your doorstep.

Luckily, most delivery people just leave packages at the doorstep without actually interacting with customers. And food delivery services are already are doing that—or, at the very least, encouraging customers to request it (often in the “notes” or “special instructions” section of delivery apps).

However, there’s not as much to fear when you order a hot meal: The risk of transmission through food is very low, epidemiologist Stephen Morse told The Atlantic: “Cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking.”

The contact-free delivery is more for the delivery person’s safety than your own: They are particularly at risk, given how many people they interact with in a day.

So, if you’re ordering something for delivery, be sure that the person who drops it off doesn’t have to touch or interact too closely with you: Ask him or her to leave the package at the door and knock to notify you.

If you have a concierge where you live, practice social distancing when you pick up your package for both your sakes; thank them for their work. and make sure they have access to lots of hand sanitizer.

Also, consider opening the package outside. The virus can live on cardboard, but a new study suggests that it disintegrates quickly on cardboard, unlike plastic or steel. Still, to be careful, put the cardboard packaging in an outdoor recycling bin, and then wipe down the contents with disinfectant before taking them inside.

Finally, just keep washing those hands. Wash them before you pick your deliveries up, and afterward. Wash them for 20 seconds, many times a day.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Addressing the ‘Not Me’ mindset: The other essential pandemic office that Trump eliminated

March 20, 2020

Much attention has been paid to the Trump Administration’s shortsighted elimination of the White House Pandemic Response Team—a move that resulted in a failure to test rapidly and widely for the COVID-19 virus before it had reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

But the president and his advisers also are responsible for ousting the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), created by Executive Order in 2015 during Obama’s term of office, Slate reports—a group of professionals who could have advised the American population about how best to institute social distancing; and about how to get people to actually follow such instructions.

In its brief existence, the SBST tackled a broad range of issues, from fighting food insecurity to helping people save for retirement, through an evidence-based policy approach. For example, the group encouraged U.S. households to make their homes more energy-efficient by highlighting the immediate, concrete benefits of saving money on their power bills; rather than trying to appeal to the abstract, distant goal of slowing climate change.

Crucially, SBST programs did not try to tell Americans what to do by throwing a bunch of facts and statistics at them—a current coronavirus-fighting approach that has only worked with a subset of the population, Slate says.

Specifically, while epidemiologists are trying to model COVID-19’s true fatality rate (3.4%? 1%?), decision scientists already know that people are generally pretty bad at objectively assessing probabilities. Famous behavioral economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky argued that people “discard events of extremely low probability,” simplifying minuscule percentages to basically zero. In other words, regardless of COVID-19’s true case fatality rate, our human brains are tempted to shortcut it to “super unlikely, so probably not me.”

Of course, even a 1% fatality rate means a devastating number of lives lost around the world. Effectively communicating the lethality of COVID-19 is paramount to convincing people to take the threat seriously.

One strategy is to leverage the “identifiable victim effect,” in which people are more moved to help known individuals than unknown others. (You’ve experienced this yourself if the coronavirus didn’t feel real until Tom Hanks tested positive, Slate notes.)

People in their 20s appear to face just a 0.09% fatality rate, an even-more-near-zero number that, combined with that age group’s propensity for risk-taking and socializing, makes it hard to convince young adults to follow social distancing guidelines to save themselves.

Instead, argues Oxford neuroethicist and Yale psychology professor Molly Crockett, it may be more persuasive to highlight how our actions can avoid causing harm to others. For example, White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx spoke of focusing on protecting older Americans and then specifically called for Millennials to do their part to stop the virus.

And, while it may be especially hard to convince older adults to give up social aspects of their lives that connect them to others, we can reframe “social distancing” as “distance socializing” to emphasize our intentions to continue socializing from afar.

The SBST was founded with the belief that behavioral science insights could improve Americans’ lives through evidence-based policy. Right now, those insights could save American lives, but there’s no longer a direct way to pass such information to the White House. Here’s hoping, Slate says, that our next administration will see the value of seeking counsel from scientists and reinstate them in advisory positions.

Research contact: @Slate

The ‘art’ of survival: Illustrators offer free drawing classes for those stuck at home

March 19, 2020

Home is where the art is. At least that’s what a group of empathetic illustrators is offering to parents and children who are stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report by Fast Company, the artists have stepped up to create virtual resources and free classes for kids, parents, and anyone else who prefers a creative break to staring at their own four walls.

The following is a list of currently available classes compiled by the magazine. Know of others to add to the list? Email: codtips@fastcompany.com.

Carson Ellis
Frequency: Daily
Where to find it: @carsonellis
Illustrator Carson Ellis is leading art classes for adults and kids alike with her Quarantine Art Club. Every day will offer a different drawing prompt to get the creative juices flowing, so after watching a couple of quick step-by-step video clips, you can take your eyes off a screen for a change and put pen to paper. And don’t just make your own; see what your other club members are working on with the hashtag #quarantineartclub.

Wendy MacNaughton
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
Where to find it: @wendymac
Wendy MacNaughton, the well-known San Francisco illustrator, has launched a daily drawing class on Instagram for “kids of all ages, parents of kids, parents of parents, aunties/uncles, friends, and pets.” The first class involved both: students drew each other and a dog. While she initially intended it to be a five-minute class, it ended up going for 20. Interested? If you can’t make the set time for the live drawing session, it will be on her Instagram story for 24 hours. Be sure to use the hashtag #drawtogether.

Jarrett Krosoczka
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
Where to find itKrosoczka’s YouTube channel
Children’s book illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka has launched a daily YouTube series called “Draw everyday with JJK.” If you can’t catch the episode when it goes live, not to worry—all the videos are posted on his YouTube channel. The first episode provides a quick introduction to the series, which will “give you practical tools so you can tell stories using words and pictures on your own.” Or it will just give your kids the opportunity to draw Baby Yoda with the help of a professional. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Jarrett Lerner
Frequency: Daily
Where to find it: Lerner’s website
Comic book illustrator Jarrett Lerner is releasing a series of illustrated activities each day, including blank comic book pages, a “character-maker,” blank clothes your kids can help design, and a “Finish This Comic” activity. The activities will be archived on his site so you can access them whenever your kid needs some brain stimulation and you need what one mom called #creativesilence.

E.B. Goodale
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT
Where to find it: @ebgoodale
Children’s book author and illustrator E.B. Goodale is launching a drawing class for toddlers aptly called “Drawing with toddlers.” Goodale will take requests for what to draw live, “or you can just sit back and watch the chaos.” It’s specifically geared toward toddlers “because that’s what I’ve got on my hands,” she says in the post, “and their attention span is short. It will be a messy experiment!”

Thyra Heder
Frequency: TBD
Where to find it: @thyraheder
Heder is breaking out of the 2D with all sorts of creative projects on her Instagram feed and stories: You can make animal costumes inspired by her book, Fraidyzoo, out of cardboard and Scotch tape, or even simpler animal masks out of cereal boxes with step-by-step instructions. The best part is you don’t need to leave the house—all of her projects use basic supplies and kitchen staples.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Word of mouth: Postpone elective dental procedures, ADA recommends

March 18, 2020

The American Dental Association (ADA) has released a statement recommending that dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures in response to the spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

“The American Dental Association recognizes the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances dentists and all health care professionals face related to growing concern about COVID-19,” according to the March 16 statement from ADA President Chad P. Gehani. “The ADA is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of the public and the dental team. \

In order for dentistry to do its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the ADA recommends dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks. Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.

“As health care professionals, it is up to dentists to make well-informed decisions about their patients and practices.  The ADA is committed to providing the latest information to the profession in a useful and timely manner. The ADA is continually evaluating and will update its recommendation on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available.”

As of March 16, there have been 3,487 cases in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. There have been 167,511 cases globally, according to the World Health Organization.

Research contact: @AmerDentalAssn

Stop & Shop to open early for shoppers over 60 during coronavirus outbreak

March 18, 2020

Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop—a chain of supermarkets that serves the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—announced on March 16 that it will begin opening early for older shoppers., The Boston Globe reports.

 Starting on Thursday, March 19, Stop & Shop will be open from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. for customers age 60 and over, the company said—noting that the Centers for Disease Control and local health authorities have said older adults are at higher risk of contracting the virus.

“Stop & Shop is making the decision to allow community members in this age category to shop in a less crowded environment, which better enables social distancing,” a company statement said.

The statement said Stop & Shop will not ask shoppers for an ID when they enter but requested “that we all respect the purpose of the early opening — and do the right thing for our older neighbors.”

Stop & Shop retains the right to ask younger shoppers to leave during the early period, the statement said., The Globe said.

It said the supermarket chain is keeping high levels of hygiene and sanitation in its stores and online operations.

“We’re also taking additional measures during this time, which include wiping down checkout areas including the belts and pin pads with disinfectant even more frequently,” the company stated.

Over the weekend, Stop & Shop adjusted its hours of operation to 7:30 a.m. — 8:00 p.m. at most stores beginning Monday. Many of its stories had previously been open to 10 or 11 p.m.

Research contact: @StopandShop