It seems increasingly clear that President Trump is trying to use the most politicized and violent agencies of federal law enforcement to provoke confrontations in American cities to push his ‘law and order’ campaign message. Zoë Richards gave us an overview this morning of what we know so far.
There are on-going protests in Portland focused especially around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and a faction of people committing low-level acts of vandalism tied to those protests. Local police say they are trying to separate the two groups. Tim Dickinson has a deep dive here in Rolling Stone on how this is proving difficult for a number of reasons, not least of which is deep-seated suspicion of the city police force in what is after all a very progressive city.
You have likely seen the growing clinical evidence that COVID is not only a respiratory disease but frequently strikes at the brain and nervous system. A group of new studies out of Spain provide more detailed evidence. Our Spanish correspondent TPM Reader SH sent me this article in El Pais (English language version). The headline is that over half of COVID patients in Spain developed neurological problems of one sort of another.
This is a remarkable statistic I had not seen. 31.1% of Florida children (people under 18) who have been tested for COVID have been positive. That is about three times higher than the rest of the population.
It’s not entirely clear what to make of this statistic. Only about 50,000 people under the age of 18 have been tested, out of about 2.8 million tests in the state. So it seems quite possible that the percentage is so high because the kids who are being tested are either clearly symptomatic or living with parents who are positive. In other words, an artifact of the testing protocol itself. Still, it’s a high number. And the public health director in Palm Beach County is warning that we simply don’t know what kind of long term damage these infections could be doing.
As was reported yesterday, the White House has taken the collection of COVID data out of the hands of the CDC and given it over to a private medical data company in Pittsburgh. On its face the company doesn’t seem obviously scammy. It’s not some fly-by-night set up by Brad Parscale’s uncle. So we don’t know quite what the angle to this is, not the specifics. My best guess is that it is simply to maintain a tighter hold on information and keep it out of the hands of the CDC, which even under its stalwartly Trumpian current leadership has shown some recent signs of bucking the President’s demands for COVID denial and no-holds-barred school reopenings.
What we can say more definitively is that at the moment the full weight of the federal government appears harnessed toward covering up and denying the bad news about the resurgent epidemic and force-marching the economy and the nation’s schools into a dead cat bounce that will salvage the President’s flagging reelection prospects.
From TPM Reader SA …
I’m a long-time TPM reader (back to 2002 or something) and one of the original prime members and also a TPM insider. I live in NYC, most of the time. My wife and I are both professors at a university in New York City and we have small children (ages 6 and 4). We are overall extremely lucky: no one got sick and we are not in much danger of losing our jobs. But, the lack of child care, and the *uncertainty* around child care, has just been really tough.
About a month ago we were in a zoom meeting with the school where our smallest is registered for pre-K when we were blindsided by the sudden realization that ***they were really contemplating not opening the schools full time.***
From TPM Reader CF …
I’m a US citizen in Australia – haven’t lived in the US since 2005 (was in Europe for a number of years and I’m married to a european), but all my family is in New England (specifically in an area with pretty low Covid rates). Reading the commentary on the editor’s blog from all the CA residents really brought home the dissonance between how Americans are experiencing this pandemic and how I am down here.
From TPM Reader DW …
My eldest daughter (a French citizen) lives in Paris. When Paris locked down, she was only allowed to go out of her house – up to 1 kilometer- for exercise or to the store, twice a day, and for exercise- it had to be between specific hours. It was pretty drastic since she lives in a very tiny Parisian studio and was not allowed to do any exercise socially, such as walk with a friend. She was required to carry a written statement about why she was out should law enforcement stop her. They did allow people to return to their families before their shutdown and most of her Parisian apartment neighbors went to their parents’ regional homes. The only people she came in contact with were the grocery store clerks, who were behind plastic panels. Her hours at the university that employs her were reduced, but French unemployment made up the difference.
This story about sending the National Guard into hospitals is bizarre and telling about our national situation. Six months into this crisis the canonical sources of data on the COVID epidemic in the US are one data project run out of The Atlantic (The COVID Tracking Project) and another run out of Johns Hopkins University. The federal government isn’t really even in the game. These are glorious, impressive, dedicated works of public service and data science. But the fact that they need to exist is, frankly, a disgrace.
Now the Trump administration has decided that hospitals are being lax about reporting data on COVID cases. It appears likely that most hospitals are doing just what they’re told and that the problem is disorganized and inconsistent guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services.