In Governor Cuomo’s press conference today he mentioned that the new facilities at the Javits Center (the big mega expo and conference center in midtown) is being transitioned to being another COVID hospital. Originally it was going to be a non-COVID facility to take stress off the hospitals. The Navy has also loosened the restrictions that had kept almost all patients off the USNS Comfort. What was most striking though is that Cuomo said that there just aren’t many non-COVID patients in the city. The plan was that these new facilities would take other acute needs off the existing hospital system’s hands. But there aren’t that many.
Let me share with you three notes from TPM Reader SK. The exchange starts in response to TPM Reader BW and my post from last night. Some of the points SK makes about BW I don’t necessarily agree with, or at least points of emphasis. But I’m sharing these emails because SK is in the distributor business (though not for medical supplies) and has a wealth of knowledge about the nitty gritty of how these distribution channels work. That’s critical background to understanding any of this.
One point that is incredibly important to understand is the distinction between two very different kinds of players involved in these transactions.
I’ve been on something of a crash course since last night trying to make sense of how and why the federal government is relying – at least to a significant degree – on ordinary market forces to distribute medical supplies during this national crisis. I noted last night in this post and video how this is the plan in terms of how the White House task force is approaching this. These airlifts from abroad are mainly being used to ferry purchases by private distributors. In itself that is not a bad thing. Indeed, it addresses a critical need. So let’s understand that first.
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.