Trump misled public about Covid, blamed China, now Woodward

Donald Trump has been exposed yet again for misleading the public, this time about the severity of Covid. He blamed China for doing what he did (blame diversion is typical of Trump), and now he is trying to blame Bob Woodward for not revealing his misinformation sooner.

Back in April Trump warns of consequences ‘if China responsible’

US President Donald Trump has warned China that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

“It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump told a daily White House briefing.

It could have been far less worse in the US if Trump had been transparent and honest about the severity of Covid, and had acted faster and more decisively. Instead he fostered a culture of Covid denial in the US, and this affected how many states dealt with the virus – inadequately until it had already spread and killed many people.

Trump and senior aides have accused China of a lack of transparency after the coronavirus broke out late last year in its city of Wuhan. 

Bob Woodward has just revealed that Trump was far from transparent about what he knew.

Trump also again cast doubt on China’s death toll, which was revised up on Friday. China said 1,300 people who died of the coronavirus in Wuhan – half the total – were not counted, but dismissed allegations of a cover-up.

The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 720,000 infections and over 37,000 deaths.

In May Trump harshly blames China for pandemic; a lab ‘mistake’?

In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened its rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to act swiftly enough to sound the alarm about the outbreak or to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

That pretty much describes how Trump mishandled it in the US.

US officials have said the Chinese government should “pay a price“ for its handling of the pandemic

The US has paid a huge price – they now total 6.6 million cases and have had nearly 200,000 deaths attributed to Covid.

Now from NPR: Woodward Book Casts New Light On Trump’s Fight With WHO

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

“On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization cited official Chinese data to downplay the very serious risk of asymptomatic spread, telling the world that ‘COVID- 19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza.’ ” Trump wrote, in a May 18 letter addressed to WHO leadership. “It is now clear that China’s assertions, repeated to the world by the World Health Organization, were wildly inaccurate.”

“Many lives could have been saved” had WHO warned the world earlier, Trump wrote. Later that month, he announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the global health agency.

Now, taped conversations between the president and journalist Bob Woodward, as reported in the forthcoming book Rage, indicate that in early February, Trump was well aware of the dangers of the coronavirus and chose to downplay the public health threat to Americans.

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward in a Feb. 7 conversation. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

For public health expert Jeremy Konydyk, the conversations clearly demonstrate that the president has been scapegoating WHO for failures of his administration. “These tapes make clear that the very things that the president was accusing WHO of failing to share, specifically the lethality and the transmissibility of this virus, were things he was already well aware of,” says Konyndyk.

Scapegoating WHO, scapegoating China, while Trump was making the mistakes he was accusing them of.

Trump told Woodward in a subsequent interview in March that he was downplaying the virus’s severity to avoid panic — a point he reiterated at a news conference September 10. “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘Death! Death!'” the president said.

But public health experts say the president’s attempts to reassure the public have had the opposite effect. “If you want the public to remain reasonably calm, if you want them not to be confused and uncertain, you tell them the truth,” says Lawrence Gostin, head of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and director of a WHO collaborating center on global health law.

Gostin believes that public trust is gained when “you level with the American population” and tell what’s known about a situation, what’s still unclear and when and how the uncertainties will be resolved. Instead, when “the World Health Organization said it was serious and Trump downplayed it — that’s a recipe for fear and panic,” he says.

Trump fomented and encouraged and promoted an anti-Covid movement in the US.

And typically Trump denies lying about risks of coronavirus

He tweeted on Thursday that Woodward did not report his quotes for months. “He knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

Later he told reporters he never lied, when they suggested he deliberately misled the American public on how dangerous the virus was.

In a White House news conference on Thursday afternoon, he said in response to a reporter’s question: “I didn’t lie, what I said is we have to be calm, we can’t be panicked.”

That’s not what he said. He deliberately downplayed the severity of Covid, which encouraged many people to downplay the severity including to deny it was a problem aat all and should be virtually ignored.

He added: “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘death, death’, because that’s not what it’s about.”

That’s a stupid statement.

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?” Mr Trump said.

“Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

And true to form, when challenged on his bullshitting, he blamed the messenger, and also claimed Woodward supported his bull.

This won’t stop people devoutly supporting Trump while stoutly disputing the severity of Covid.

Woodward has been criticised by others as well.

Woodward has been criticised for withholding the president’s remarks on the pandemic, with some saying it was an unethical decision.

The journalist offered a defence in the Washington Post and Associated Press on Wednesday, saying he needed to check whether what Mr Trump told him was accurate.

“The biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true,” Woodward told The Post.

That’s always been a problem with Trump. People tend to just believe what they want to believe because Trump lies and distorts the truth so much.

Woodward’s book, Rage, will be released on 15 September.

Donaldium Rhapsody

Trump challenged on Covid response, death toll ‘is what it is’

Donald Trump is under fire yet again after an interview in which he said that Covid is under control in the US, the death toll ‘is what it is’, and he disputed comparing deaths to population.

As always it’s difficult too know whether Trump believes what he says or if he is deliberately speaking bull to a specific audience. I think probably at times at least he has come too believe his own bull.

CNBC: Trump says coronavirus death toll ‘is what it is’ as he insists pandemic is ‘under control’ in U.S.

“Numerous categories, we’re lower than the world,” Trump said while reading from a small stack of papers he was holding.

“Lower than the world? What does that mean? In what?” Swan said.

The president handed one paper to Swan, who after a brief examination responded: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”

Trump replied: “You can’t do that … you have to go by the cases.”

Swan maintained that it was relevant to look at the number of deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19 in proportion to the population of the country. He compared the U.S. with South Korea, a nation of more than 50 million people that he counted about 300 total death from the coronavirus.

“You don’t know that,” Trump said.

“You think they’re faking their statistics?” Swan responded.

“Uh, I won’t get into that because I have a very good relationship with the country, but you don’t know that,” Trump said. 

President Donald Trump insisted that the coronavirus pandemic is “under control” in the United States even when confronted with the staggering death tolls from the virus.

During a contentious interview, Axios’ Jonathan Swan asked Trump how he could claim his administration has a handle on the virus as it kills 1,000 Americans a day.

“They are dying. That’s true, and — it is what it is,” Trump said. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it,” Trump said in the interview, which took place July 28 and aired Monday night on HBO.

“You really think this is as much as we can control it?” Swan asked. “A thousand deaths a day?”

“First of all, we have done a great job,” Trump replied, focusing on how governors have handled the crisis in their own states rather than him taking personal responsibility. “I could tell you right now who the great ones are and who the not-so-great ones are. But the governors do it. We gave them massive amounts of material.”

Trump’s rosy view of the U.S. response to the pandemic comes as more than 4.71 million cases have been confirmed in the country, as well as at least 155,478 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Both are the highest recorded totals for any country.

Going by Worldometer it looks like the US is heading for another 1000+ deaths today after the usual weekend drop in numbers

The US is getting close to 5 million cases and 160,000 deaths.

More Trump ignorance on Covid testing

Donald Trump has been again combined contradictory and ignorant claims about Covid testing with an attack on media.

The US has done more testing than any other country, but Israel, Russia, Singapore, UK, Denmark and a bunch of small countries have done more testing per head of population (US is 19th on the WorldInfo list).

Testing is a critical means of controlling Covid, but the raw number of tests doesn’t say much anyway. Here’s some percentages of other numbers

USA has:

  • 4.26% of the world population
  • 17.28% of Covid tests
  • 22.93% of Covid deaths
  • 26.45% of total cases
  • 28.48% of serious/critical cases
  • 37.63% of active cases

Those are numbers are only based on recorded statistics so won’t be 100%, but give an obvious indication that the US is struggling with Covid.

Testing matters, but the quality of testing, the timing of testing and the use of the results of the testing are more important than raw numbers.

Testing in the US showed that Covid was still widespread in the US when Trump and some states pushed for relaxing lockdowns. Covid got worse – deaths have been trending back upwards there through July, and this week were the highest since May.

Tests are important but it’s how you use the tests that matter.

Note that New Zealand is included and rates very well on these charts.

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New Zealand’s testing rate of 93,574 per million is much less than the US rate of 177,883 per million, but we have 4 deaths per million compared to the US rate of 475 so we don’t need to do as much testing.

Our testing peaked at over 10,000 per day in June – when we came out of lockdown and wanted to make sure Covid was under control – and is now peaking at 3,000 per day. We need to make sure we don’t have community transmission, but because fewer people have symptoms or concerns, fewer get tested.

Reuters: U.S. records over 25,000 coronavirus deaths in July

U.S. coronavirus deaths rose by over 25,000 in July and cases doubled in 19 states during the month, according to a Reuters tally, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy.

The United States recorded 1.87 million new cases in July, bringing total infections to 4.5 million, for an increase of 69%. Deaths in July rose 20% to nearly 154,000 total.

The biggest increases in July were in Florida, with over 310,000 new cases, followed by California and Texas with about 260,000 each. All three states saw cases double in June.

Cases also more than doubled in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the tally.

The United States shattered single-day global records when it reported over 77,000 new cases on July 16. During July, 33 out of the 50 U.S. states had one-day record increases in cases and 19 set records for their rise in deaths in 24 hours, according to a Reuters tally.

We have virtually no restrictions because we have Covid under control here.

And Covid isn’t the only worrying statistic in the US.

The news that more states could be hard hit by the virus comes a day after the U.S. reported that gross domestic product collapsed at a 32.9% annualized rate in the second quarter, the nation’s worst economic performance since the Great Depression.

We may be able to keep Covid out of New Zealand, but it will be difficult to avoid the economic impact.

Odd tweets about testing doesn’t address the problems the US still face.

Vaccines are being fast tracked but at best it will be some time before they limit the Covid damage.

Reuters: U.S. makes deal for 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, deaths expected to rise

Two major drug companies will supply the U.S. government with 100 million doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, the Trump administration said on Friday, as the nation’s top health agency predicted that fatalities would rise in the coming weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Friday forecast between 168,000 and 182,000 total fatalities by August 22, predicting that deaths will rise fastest in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Washington state.

The CDC also released a study that said COVID-19 had spread to nearly half the staff and campers at a sleep-away camp in Georgia over a week and a half ago.

The investigation demonstrated “that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission.”

Coronavirus deaths in the United States are rising at their fastest rate since early June. Roughly one American died about every minute from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Wisconsin joined 21 other states that have seen a surge in new cases.

The COVID-19 outbreak “is not in good control” in Wisconsin said Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

This isn’t fake news. Many US states are having very real problems with Covid.

While the president keeps fiddling with twitter his country burns.

US unrest likely to continue at least until November election

Covid-19 has caused a lot of problems in the United States, and that looks like continuing for months at least, with a resurgence of the spread, cases and deaths. Even Donald Trump has conceded, deciding to can the Republican convention he was previously determined to go ahead with in Florida after North Carolina ruled it out due to Covid.

Alongside that are the race protests that refuse to go away following the death of George Floyd, with Trump intent on clamping down on protests or inflaming the situation.

A snapshot of current news:

  • U.S. charges 18 Portland protesters as it sends tactical police to Seattle
    U.S. prosecutors on Friday unveiled charges against 18 Portland, Oregon protesters ranging from assaulting police to arson and trespassing, a day after the Trump administration expanded the deployment of tactical police to Seattle.
  • Chicago takes down statues of Columbus, plans review of all monuments
    Chicago temporarily removed two statues of Christopher Columbus on Friday and announced it would reassess the appropriateness of all its monuments, a week after protesters had tried to topple one of the statues, leading to a violent clash with police.
  • Trump signs orders to lower prescription drug prices
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed four executive orders aiming at lowering prices that Americans pay for prescription drugs as he faces an uphill re-election battle and criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • As U.S. coronavirus surges, Trump officials press back-to-school plan
    With just weeks to go before U.S. schools begin to open, federal health and education officials on Friday stressed the need for children to get back into the classroom despite parents’ fears about safety as coronavirus infections surge.
    Administration officials said reopening schools was critical for children’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as to allow parents to get back to work to boost the economy, a priority for President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election in November.
  • The wealthy Republicans who want to oust Trump in November’s election
    Jimmy Tosh, who runs a multi-million dollar hog and grain farm in Tennessee, is a lifelong Republican. He is pro-gun, supports lower taxes and agrees with most of Republican President Donald Trump’s agenda. “I agree with 80% of the things he does; I just cannot stand a liar,” Tosh, 70, said of Trump.
  • Explainer: Why Election Day could be just the start of a long battle over the U.S. presidency
    President Donald Trump’s refusal this week to say if he would accept the results of November’s election, and his repeated assertions that the vote will be “rigged” because of mail-in ballots, have raised the specter of a disputed election that could take weeks, or even months, to resolve
  • Pompeo Urges More Assertive Approach to “Frankenstein” China
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took fresh aim at China on Thursday and said Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways, calling it the “mission of our time.”
  • China Tells U.S. to Close Chengdu Consulate in Retaliatory Move
    China has ordered the closure of the US consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu, in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries. China said the move was in response to the US closing its consulate in Houston, and accused staff in Chengdu of meddling in its internal affairs.

The US is not a happy place, with no sign of them getting over Covid nor racial and political division any time soon.

Trump escalates politically targeted crack down on protests

The political/law and order situation in the US just gets worse and worse.

Reuters: Trump plans to send federal law enforcement personnel to Democratic-led U.S. cities

President Donald Trump on Monday said he plans to send law enforcement personnel to some major U.S. cities, as a federal crackdown on anti-racism protests including use of unmarked cars and unidentified officers in camouflage in Portland, Oregon, angers people across the country.

“We’re sending law enforcement,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We can’t let this happen to the cities.”

Trump, a Republican, mentioned New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland, California, as possible places for sending in federal forces, noting the cities’ mayors are “liberal Democrats.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot frequently blasts Trump on Twitter.

State and local leaders in Oregon, as well as members of Congress, meanwhile, have called for Trump to remove Department of Homeland Security officers from Portland.

“They’ve been there three days and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time, no problem,” Trump said of law enforcement sent to the historically liberal city to quell often unruly protests. “They grab a lot of people and jail the leaders. These are anarchists.”

Federal officers last week began cracking down on Portland protests against police brutality and systemic racism, using tear gas and taking some activists into custody without explanation. Despite a national outcry over the tactics, Department of Homeland Security officials on Monday said they would not back down and would not apologize.

So this looks certain to escalate, which may be what Trump wants. But that is a very risky strategy and perhaps desperate attempt to turn around a slump in support.

Trump has dome outrageous things so often one overstepping is unlikely to be what brings him down. It looks more like political death by a thousand self inflicted cuts.

 

Trump interview as controversial as usual

In an interview on Fox News Donald Trump has been as controversial as usual.

Fox: Trump pushes back against critics on coronavirus, addresses whether he will accept election results in exclusive interview

President Trump, in an exclusive interview with Fox News, challenged his critics on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, threatened a veto for the defense bill, and speculated on whether he will accept the results if his Democratic challenger wins the presidency in November.

Trump, in a contentious sitdown that aired Sunday, told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that recent statistics regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths are misleading. Early in the discussion, the president disputed Wallace’s claim that the U.S. currently has the seventh-highest mortality rate in the world.

“I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world,” Trump said, offering White House statistics that differed from the ones Wallace cited.

Worldometer ranks the US tenth worst in deaths per 1m population.

Wallace then explained that his numbers came from Johns Hopkins University, which ranked the U.S. seventh in mortality, ahead of the UK and worse than Brazil and Russia. He noted that the White House’s chart, which uses data from the European Centre for Disease Protection and Control, has the U.S. ahead of Spain and Italy, but worse than Brazil and South Korea, with Russia and other countries not included in the chart.

rom there, Trump pushed back against statements from leading U.S. doctors, specifically CDC Director Robert Redfield and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci. Redfield said last week that he expects the coming fall and winter to be among “the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”

When asked if he agrees with Redfield, Trump said he was unsure, but pointed to mistakes that doctors have made.

“I don’t know and I don’t think he knows,” Trump said. I don’t think anybody knows with this. This is a very tricky deal. Everybody thought this summer it would go away and it would come back in the fall. Well, when the summer came, they used to say the heat — the heat was good for it and it really knocks it out, remember? And then it might come back in the fall. So they got that one wrong.”

That’s something trump also got wrong, as well as a number of predictions he has made on Covid.

“I guess everybody makes mistakes,” the president said, then added, “I’ll be right eventually. I will be right eventually,” referring to his past prediction that the virus would eventually go away.

“It’s going to disappear and I’ll be right,” he said.

In the meantime, Trump says that he takes responsibility for what happens to the nation during the pandemic, as critics claim that the U.S. does not have a national plan.

“Look, I take responsibility always for everything because it’s ultimately my job, too. I have to get everybody in line,” Trump said, while stating that governors have to lead as well.

“No country has ever done what we’ve done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world,” he said.

The US ranks 23rd on tests per 1m.

With 3.8 million cases and 143,000 deaths and rising case rates, totalling a quarter of world cases and nearly a quatrer of recorded world deaths, the US is not the envy of the world.

Asked about racial tension in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Trump recognized how Black Americans are feeling. When asked if he understands why Black people are angry about being disproportionately shot and killed by police compared to White people, Trump said he does.

“Of course I do. Of course I do,” Trump said. At the same time, the president noted that “many Whites are killed also,” and that “this is going on for a long time, long before I got here.”

Turning to the upcoming election, Trump had strong words for Joe Biden, taking political and personal shots at the presumptive Democratic nominee.

In the past, Trump has taken shots at Biden’s mental capabilities, and he continued to go down that path.

“Biden can’t put two sentences together,” Trump said.

Trump is in risky territory accusing others of mental capabilities and incoherent speech.

Later on, Trump said that this is why he will be victorious.

“[Y]ou know why I won’t lose, because the country, in the end, they’re not going to have a man who – who’s shot. He’s shot, he’s mentally shot,” Trump said.

Asked about the possibility of losing, however, Trump noted that he does not handle losing well, and may not handle it well if it happens in November.

“I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose,” he said. “I don’t lose too often. I don’t like to lose.”

When asked if he is gracious, Trump said, “You don’t know until you see. It depends.” He then claimed that mail-in voting, which Democrats have pushed as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, “is going to rig the election.”

Asked if this means that he will not accept the election results, Trump said, “No. I have to see.”

Asked again if he would accept the results, Trump said, “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”

Transcript: ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview with President Trump

There wasn’t anything in this interview that is likely to change things for Trump, it was fairly familiar stuff.

Polls suggest he has an uphill battle this election – FiveThirtyEight currently has him on:

  • 55.5% disapproval
  • 40.5% approval.

And presidential polls aren’t promising for him either.

  • Biden 50.4%
  • Trump 41.6%

See also:

US Governor tests positive for Covid

Another political leader has tested positive for Covid-19, this time the Governor of Oklahoma in the United States.

CNN: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announces he has tested positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has aggressively pushed to reopen his state and flouted experts’ health recommendations, announced Wednesday that he is the first governor to test positive for coronavirus.

Stitt, a Republican, said at a press conference that he was tested on Tuesday and that he feels “fine,” other than being a “little bit achy.” He said he’ll be quarantining and working from home, and that he was “pretty shocked” to be the first governor to get the virus. He added that he would isolating away from his family, whom he said tested negative.
“I want to use my story to remind Oklahomans that if you aren’t feeling well, we want you to get tested,” said Stitt, who added that he is not considering a statewide mask mandate as of now.
Stitt’s diagnosis is particularly notable, as he has not only pushed to aggressively reopen his state despite a surge in cases but has at times disregarded advice from medical experts. In March, he faced backlash for posting a photo of himself and his children at a crowded restaurant, which he later deleted.
The city of Tulsa has experienced a recent surge in coronavirus cases following President Donald Trump’s rally there on June 20, at which Stitt was present without a facial covering. On Wednesday, the governor downplayed the possibility that he contracted the virus at the event.
“I don’t think there was any way it was at the President’s rally. It’s too long ago,” Stitt said.
Based on contact tracing, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Stitt did not contract Covid-19 at the rally.

Oklahoma health officials report another record-breaking day for COVID-19 cases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Tuesday that almost 1,000 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, setting a new record for the most cases reported in a single day in Oklahoma.

Public health officials said every indicator that we look at right now is signaling more spread of the coronavirus, especially as hospitalizations rise.

he numbers come as hospitalizations spike – the latest numbers indicate that hospitalizations increased to 561 – and the majority of hospital systems are readying their surge plans, with one saying it’s on high alert.

One question KOCO 5 hears is are the more cases because of more testing? The answer is no.

Also from the US:

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against embracing a “false complacency” as news reports showed a declining death rate for COVID-19.

“[I]t’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death. There are so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency,” said Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci called attempts by the White House to discredit him “bizarre,” claiming the move would ultimately hurt President Trump.

“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci told The Atlantic. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”

Fauci’s comments come after Navarro tore into Fauci in a stunning op-ed published by USA Today.

“Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” Navarro wrote.

President Trump said Wednesday that he has a “very good relationship” with Dr. Anthony Fauci, just hours after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro published a blistering op-ed criticizing the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for his projections on the coronavirus pandemic.

“I get along very well with Dr. Fauci,” Trump told reporters Wednesday in the Oval Office. “I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”

Number of Covid cases continues to rise in the US – https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

A million new Covid cases in 5 days

In New Zealand we fret about each of a handful of people arriving in the country not staying in isolation for 14 days while life has returned more or less to normal for most of us.

But Covid-19 is causing a lot of concern with a surge in cases around the world.The World Health Organisation chief warns that it will continue to get worse unless many countries change how they are dealing with the virus.

There has been a million new Covid-19 cases in five days, with now over 13 million cases in total recorded.

The death toll has flattened (but is showing signs of rising again following the surge in cases), suggesting a number of possibilities – health care and prevention of deaths has been improved, infected populations are younger and less vulnerable, newer strains of virus are not as lethal – but still the current death toll is 573,000 and going up by thousands a day.

There is an obvious concern that the death rate will follow the case rate upwards, but the daily toll is bad enough as it is.

Reuters:  WHO sounds alarm as coronavirus cases rise by one million in five days

The number of coronavirus infections around the world hit 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, climbing by a million in just five days.

The pandemic has now killed more than half a million people in six-and-a-half months, and World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there would be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future, especially if preventive measures were neglected.

“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” he told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go, it is going to get worse and worse and worse. But it does not have to be this way.”

Parts of the world, especially the United States with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases, are still seeing huge increases in a first wave of COVID-19 infections, while others “flatten the curve” and ease lockdowns.

Some places, such as the Australian city of Melbourne and Leicester in England, are implementing a second round of shutdowns.

The Melbourne surge means that trans-Tasman travel will remain off limits to Kiwis for some time, and reopening borders to the rest of the world looks to be months away at least.

The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10. In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.

India, the country with the third highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 23,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.

In countries with limited testing capacity, case numbers reflect a smaller proportion of total infections. Experts say official data probably under-represents both infections and deaths.

Covid is affecting the United States more than most countries, with a third of the new cases there. And the health problems aren’t limited to Covid.

Reuters: New U.S. health crisis looms as patients without COVID-19 delay care

A Texas man who waited until his brain tumor was softball-sized; a baby who suffered an ear infection for six days; a heart patient who died: The resurgence of COVID-19 is creating another health crisis as hospitals fill and patients are fearful or unable to get non-emergency care.

With U.S. coronavirus infections reaching new heights, doctors and hospitals say they are also seeing sharp declines in patients seeking routine medical care and screenings – and a rise in those who have delayed care for so long they are far sicker than they otherwise would be.

After the pandemic was declared a national emergency in March, many states banned non-essential medical procedures, and the number of patients seeking care for other ailments took a nosedive. Hospitals and medical practices were hit hard financially.

Emergency department use dropped by 42% during the first 10 weeks of the pandemic despite a rise in patients presenting with symptoms of the coronavirus, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. In the same period, patients seeking care for heart attacks dropped by 23% and stroke care by 20%.

This is a real problem but with no easy solutions. If Covid was even less contained people with other health problems would be exposed more.

…the recent surge in cases has swamped hospitals in many states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida and parts of California.

But with new COVID-19 cases swamping the hospital, sickening nearly 30 staff members and forcing it to divert non-coronavirus cases to other facilities for several days, Wolcott fears that again patients with heart conditions and other illnesses will stay away.

“We won’t know for years how many people lost their lives or lost good years of their lives for fear of coronavirus,” he said.

While individual states are responsible for a lot of their handling of Covid it doesn’t help that the country’s leadership has been hopeless. Donald Trump remains intent on reopening businesses and schools and abusing those trying to deal with the pandemic.

Reuters: Trump swipes at Fauci, CDC as U.S. coronavirus cases rise

President Donald Trump on Monday took swipes at health experts in his government leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, as his relationship further frayed with top infectious diseases doctor Anthony Fauci.

In the early morning, Trump retweeted to his 83 million followers the accusations of a former game show host that “everyone is lying,” including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust,” Chuck Woolery wrote Sunday night without citing evidence.

The White House did not respond to questions on whether the president believed the CDC was lying.

Tensions with Fauci have risen with the decline of Trump’s popularity in the polls over the president’s handling of the outbreak. Fauci’s plain-spoken assessments during White House coronavirus briefings have made him a household name.

Trump told the Fox News Channel on Thursday that “Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.” Fauci said in a Financial Times interview the following day he has not briefed Trump in two months.

Trump appears to be finally losing trust and support with the US people as he slides in the polls, with the highest disapproval levels for two and a half years. He is more concerned with his own re-election chances than people getting sick and dying, but poorly as he is lagging and slipping further behind an old, lacklustre Joe Biden.

He is even turning on his favoured Fox:

But that is a sad sideshow. Covid is a crisis that doesn’t look like going away, with major immediate effects and major longer term implications.

At least here in New Zealand Covid is well under control. We just have to hope the impact on business and jobs isn’t too harsh as we observe from a distance as many other countries struggling with far greater problems.

 

 

Trump gives friend Stone clemency to keep him out of prison

This is not a surprise, but the President of the United States granting clemency to a friend Roger Stone just before he was due too start a prison sentence is very controversial. Trump is in effect overruling a jury decision and a court sentence, as well as condoning witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

As with many things Trump sees the prosecution of Stone as an attack on himself.

Fox News: Trump commutes Roger Stone’s sentence, days before prison term set to begin

Roger Stone told Fox News he is ‘praying’ for Trump to intervene ahead of his prison sentence.

Stone was set to report to prison on July 14 to serve 40 months. He was sentenced in February to more than three years in prison after being convicted in November 2019 on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

The White House announced Friday that President Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the “unjust sentence” of Roger Stone, just days before the longtime political operative was slated to report to prison to serve more than three years for charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In a lengthy statement released late Friday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president had made the decision to commute Stone’s sentence “in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial.”

“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency,” McEnany said in a statement Friday night. “There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia.  Such collusion was never anything other than a fantasy of partisans unable to accept the result of the 2016 election.  The collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense, looking for evidence that did not exist.”

McEnany added that Mueller’s office “resorted to process-based charges leveled at high-profile people in an attempt to manufacture the false impression of criminality lurking below the surface.”

“These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice,” she said.

McEnany touted Stone’s career in politics, noting that he worked for nearly 50 years as a consultant for high-profile Republican politicians, including former President Ronald Reagan, Sen. Bob Dole and others, while noting that Stone is also known for “his outspoken support for President Donald J. Trump and opposition to Hillary Clinton.”

McEnany went on to blast Mueller’s prosecutors for the fashion in which they arrested Stone, noting he is a “67 year old man with numerous medical conditions, who had never been convicted of another crime, and that they used “dozens of FBI agents with automatic weapons and tactical equipment, armored vehicles, and an amphibious unit to execute a pre-dawn raid of his home, where he was with his wife of many years.”

In a statement to Fox News, Stone’s attorney Grant Smith said: “Mr. Stone is incredibly honored that President Trump used his awesome and unique power under the Constitution of the United States for this act of mercy.”

Fox News:  Biden campaign: Trump abused authority by commuting Roger Stone’s sentence

“President Trump has once again abused his power, releasing this commutation on a Friday night, hoping to yet again avoid scrutiny as he lays waste to the norms and the values that make our country a shining beacon to the rest of the world,” Biden spokesman Bill Russo said.

Earlier Friday, an appeals court denied Stone’s request to delay reporting for his sentence, saying he must report for prison on Tuesday.

“In sum, Stone is not legally eligible for further postponement of his reporting date under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c), which is the only basis on which he seeks relief from this court. We therefore deny his motion,” the court wrote in its order.

The president’s commutation, though, nullifies that order.

Trump, for weeks, has signaled he could be open to granting Stone clemency — tweeting last month that Stone was “a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”

This will no doubt be both strongly praised and strongly condemned.

I think the US political and judicial systems are hopelessly intertwined, and this granting of clemency by the President is a farce.