TPM Reader BW flagged something to me from this evening’s White House press conference that strikes me as pretty remarkable. The US has established an airbridge of flights from abroad to bring in supplies of masks, gowns, all the supplies we’re hearing are in short supply. But in answer to a question from Weijia Jiang of CBS News, the Admiral in charge of this effort explained that those supplies mainly are not going to FEMA or the states. They’re going to private sector distributors. And that seems to be one of the big reasons why states are having to fight amongst themselves over them, bidding up the price along the way.
Here’s the video.
Remember Robert Hyde? He was the Connecticut contractor, congressional candidate and Trump mega-fan who somehow found his way into the Trump/Ukraine scandal. He was the guy updating Lev Parnas on the team he purportedly had surveilling US Ambassador Maria Yovanovich in Kyiv, Ukraine. Seems like a lifetime ago, right?
Well, he’s back. And he’s sitting on a stockpile of n95 masks. Or so he claims. This morning we saw this tweet in which Hyde announced he has ten million N95 and KN95 masks available for delivery, apparently through Finley Hyde & Associates, LLC the lobbying firm he established to provide access to Trump world power-brokers.
TPM Reader TP follows up on JR’s thoughts …
Applauding TPM Reader JR’s thoughts, and wish to add my own.
I have spent over half of my career in the facilities management side of a half dozen major medical centers. This meant that my closest colleagues were the housekeepers, laundry staff, pest controllers, plumbers, HVAC specialists, electricians, and industrial hygienists, with infection control staff a constant presence in everything we did.
These are the staff that are first into the room for blood spills, and terminal cleaning no matter what the previous patient suffered and/or died from. They collect hazardous waste, no matter what that waste contains. They are the ones who collect and clean linens and laundry, whether the patient had pneumonia or bed bugs.
According to this report, CQ/Roll Call has laid off between 20 and 30 people, mostly from editorial. It’s not clear to me from the report whether this is all from Roll Call proper, in which case it would be as much as half the staff or if it is across the various niche publication that CQ Roll Call publishes, which is a substantially larger group. Either way it is yet another big round of layoffs which appear to be spurred or are at least coinciding with the COVID-19 crisis.
An important note from TPM Reader JR …
I worked 40 years in healthcare. I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist. I am retired and live in a rural county with zero Covid-19 at this time. I practiced in the Chicago area. This means that my friends and former co-workers are risking their lives treating patients infected with Covid-19. I think (actually, know for sure) that Doctors are some of the most wonderful people in the world. What they go through in their training and education is superhuman. Their heads are the same size as everyone else, but somehow they carry multi-volume encyclopedias in there. I also absolutely love Nurses (so much so that I have been married to one for 39 years last Saturday) as a group they are intelligent, compassionate and caring – also wonderful. To hear these two groups lauded as the heroes that they are every day in the media lately is great.
The national COVID-19 crisis is still dominated by events inside the state of New York. Until a couple days ago roughly comparable numbers of Americans were dying in New York each day as every other state in the country combined. Because of this, one way I find helpful to make sense of the situation is to look at New York state and compare it not to the national numbers but the numbers from the rest of the country outside New York state. This helps understand the dynamics in other parts of the country separate from the situation in New York and see how they compare.
Here are three graphs that give us that snapshot of the situation unfolding in the country.
I’ve been working on collecting different bits of information pointing to dramatically higher COVID-19 mortality than is showing up in official statistics. (Josh Kovensky is beginning to report the story in the US.) We discussed the evidence out of Italy suggesting official COVID fatality numbers were only capturing a fraction of the “excess mortality” showing up in particular towns. (This involves comparing the average number of deaths from all causes in a specific town or region during a particular date range to the number of deaths in the same date range during the COVID pandemic.)
Now TPM Reader ND passed along to me this article from the Spanish daily El Pais, which reports a similar study in Spain. The numbers show a discrepancy very similar to those from northern Italy.
Something very, very bad is happening today in Florida with the Holland America Zaandam cruise ship. Many terrible things are happening around us now. But here I am talking about a sort of willful malice or abandonment that is a deliberate decision, something that I think may haunt the decision-makers even if the loss of life is only a tiny fraction of what is unfolding across the country.
The Zaandam is approaching Florida and appears to be in the midst of another ship-wide outbreak like ships that came to port in Japan and Oakland, California. The current report is that 190 guests and crew have flu-like symptoms; eight have tested positive for COVID-19; four guests have died since the ship left Buenos Aires on March 7th.
In response to that data out of Italy suggesting the official COVID-19 death toll may dramatically understate the loss of life in the country, we’ve begun looking at the same data in the US. One challenge is that this data is collected much more rapidly in Europe than in the United States. I picked that up in my reporting. And what Josh Kovensky has found has confirmed that. A lot of this data won’t be available for a while. In some cases the people you would need to ask to pull data from earlier years are currently swamped dealing with the new data. In this first report we just published, Josh talks to some experts in the field and looks at the how this work will eventually be done. The studies out of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria will be a guide. Check out this piece. Very important part of the story.
Most of you reading this probably rightly think that Donald Trump and his top advisors catastrophically mismanaged the country’s COVID-19 response. But we also know that the disease has had a shattering impact on countries around the world. So how do we measure the real world impact of the failure to do early testing or start planning to deploy medical resources in January or February? One potential comparison is Germany – another wealthy, industrialized democracy with a world-class capacity in the sciences. Germany got moving early on testing and they have a lot of ICU beds. They also moved rapidly toward aggressive social distancing, at least compared to countries like Italy. You can read more details about it here.