Trump considers quarantine as Covid-19 keeps climbing in US and world

|Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he wanted business and congregations back to normal by Easter Sunday, but with Covid-19 cases and deaths climbing in the US he is now considering imposing quarantines in some areas. However the horse may have already bolted, with a lot of people movement around the country over the last couple of weeks, and new cases and deaths surging.

Cases in the US currently are 105,573 (UPDATE half an hour later 112,468), with deaths now at 1,841 and climbing by hundreds each day.

NHS medical director: if the UK were to keep the number of deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, “we will have done very well”.

On Tuesday Trump’s Easter goal in war on virus a nod to faith, business

President Donald Trump’s “beautiful” idea to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday and pack church pews that day was dreamed up during a conference call among business leaders desperate to get the country back up and running.

But his target date for easing coronavirus restrictions is another outstretched hand to a group he has long courted: evangelical Christians.

Cooped up at the White House and watching the stock market tumble, Trump had already been eager to ease federal guidelines aimed at halting the spread of a virus that had infected more than 55,000 Americans when about a dozen business leaders convened a conference call on Sunday.

His rush to get back to business as usual was questioned – Trump’s plan to reopen the economy by Easter could cause more damage in the long run, according to LinkedIn’s top US economist

However, framing America’s response as a direct trade-off between the health of its people and the health of its economy could ultimately harm both, according to LinkedIn principal economist Guy Berger.

“There’s no economy without people, so getting them healthy is the way to get the economy off the ground,” Berger told Business Insider.

“That’s why the public health measures are so important and why they’re essential, even though they’re hard in the short run, that’s the only way to really end up rebooting the economy,” he said.

Easing lockdowns and social distancing measures too early, while the virus is still spreading rapidly, could ultimately cause more people to get sick, forcing them out of the workforce and causing an even more negative impact on the economy.

The message must have got through to Trump about the risk – to health, lives and to business – of rushing back to no restrictions.

Fox News: Trump mulls coronavirus quarantine on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined,” he said outside the White House.

“I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short term, two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut.”

He said that if such a move happened, it would be primarily a restriction on residents of those states traveling to other parts of the country.

“This will be an enforceable quarantine, but hopefully we won’t need it,” he said.

The move would be a dramatic escalation of the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and comes on the back of those states essentially shuttering daily life — closing schools, businesses, leisure activities and urging residents to stay at home.

But this could be too late. Movement of people has been a problem elsewhere in the country for weeks.

Fox News: Frightening cellphone ‘heat map’ shows coronavirus’ potential spread as spring break revelers went home

Heat maps that show cellphone location data in the U.S. paint a disturbing picture of the potential spread of coronavirus as the country grapples with lockdown meaures and tries to stem the virus’ tide.

Tectonix, geospatial data visualization platform, working in partnership with location company X-Mode Social, created an alarming map that shows the impact of ignoring social distancing restrictions.

Focusing on just one group of spring break revelers on part of one beach in mid-March when they left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., it quickly becomes obvious that the thousands of people who were at the beach ended up all over the country — in the Midwest, the Northeast and other parts of the South.

That’s just one example. Contract tracing must be a nightmare.

Reuters: U.S. coronavirus cases surpass 100,000

The sum of known coronavirus U.S. cases soared well past 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead, as weary doctors and nurses coping with shortages resorted to extremes ranging from hiding scarce medical supplies to buying them on the black market.

Reuters: As virus threatens, U.S. embraces big government, for now

Whatever the motivation, in the scope of two frantic weeks, U.S. elected officials and central bankers have engineered an economic intervention unparalleled outside of wartime.

All in it would supplant perhaps 30% of gross domestic product with government spending and loans, drive the federal deficit as high as needed to make that happen, and broaden U.S. social spending in ways that just a few weeks ago Republicans and President Donald Trump were branding as “socialist.”

In the time taken to put this post together (so far) US cases jumped to 112,468 – that’s how rapidly Covid-19 is growing in the US.


BBC: Number of UK deaths rises above 1,000

The number of people to have died with the coronavirus in the UK has reached 1,019.

The latest government figures on Saturday showed there were another 260 deaths in the UK in a day, up from 759 on Friday.

There are now 17,089 confirmed cases in the UK.

The jump in deaths is the biggest day-on-day increase the UK since the outbreak began. The number of deaths is 34% higher than Friday’s figure.

NHS England Prof Stephen Powis said if the UK were to keep the number of deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, “we will have done very well”.


BBC: More than 900 deaths in a day in Italy

Italy has recorded 919 new coronavirus deaths, its highest daily figure in the outbreak so far.

It means 9,134 people have now died from the virus in the country.

Earlier World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “chronic global shortage” of protective equipment was one of the “most urgent threats” to the ability to save lives.

Italy is the worst-affected in Europe. Almost everything has been closed and people told to stay at home.

Earlier on Friday, authorities warned that restrictions were likely to be extended beyond 3 April.

That seems inevitable.

Deaths now recorded on JHU&M CRC are at 10,023, cases have jumped to 92,472 (they were 80,589 this time yesterday) so the problem is far from over in Italy.


Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 832 in 24 hours, bringing it to 5,690. However, the number of people recovering is also increasing, with a total of 12,285 out of over 72,000 cases

French PM: ‘Fight is just beginning’

The first 15 days in April will be “even more difficult than the 15 we have just left”, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned.

France has recorded 1,998 deaths and has been in lockdown for 10 days, a period which has now been extended until 15 April.

“I want to speak clearly to the French,” said Mr Phil

Total confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa: 3,926

South Africa has 1,170 but it is spreading across the continent.


There are improvements in places that first has major problems,

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, has partially reopened after more than two months in isolation

South Korea says it has more people who have recovered from the virus than infected.


Brazil’s Bolsonaro questions coronavirus deaths, says ‘sorry, some will die’

Following the advice of public health experts, the vast majority of the country’s 26 governors have banned non-essential commercial activities and public services to contain the outbreak in their states.

“I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life,” Bolsonaro said in a television interview on Friday night. “You can’t stop a car factory because of traffic deaths.”

Bolsonaro said that in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic powerhouse, the death toll seemed “too large.” Sao Paulo has the most cases and deaths so far of coronavirus in Brazil, at 1,223 cases and 68 deaths.

“We need to look at what is happening there, this cannot be a numbers game to favor political interests,” Bolsonaro said.

Earlier on Friday, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a former Bolsonaro ally who many expect to be a rival in the 2022 presidential election, accused Bolsonaro of promoting “disinformation” by launching a TV ad campaign criticizing the restrictions, featuring the slogan “#BrazilCannotStop.”

The slogan is similar to a campaign in Milan before deaths in Italy soared.

Currently 3,477 cases in Brazil with 93 deaths.

 

Covid-19 numbers jump in last 24 hours in US

Covid-19 is surging in the United States, with New York the biggest concern but problems spread across the country.

– Fox News

That’s an alarming 24 hour jump especially of deaths going from 706 to 1,031. This suggests that in some areas the virus is overwhelming health systems.

New York is a major concern, but the CRC shows just 280 of those deaths are there.

ABC: COVID-19 infections rise in New York with peak weeks away

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 were rising faster than expected in New York as residents and leaders prepared for a peak in cases that is expected to still be weeks away.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York climbed to 3,800, including close to 900 in intensive care, with the peak of the outbreak weeks away, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

While the hospitalization figures are alarming, the ferocious growth has slowed over the last several days. For instance, on Sunday, hospitalizations were doubling every two days; by Tuesday they were doubling every 4.7 days, he said.

But the jump in deaths in the last 24 hours looks bad.

And it could get worse, especially if Trump tries to wind back restrictions and lockdowns before Easter. But hopefully others are making key decisions.

Fox News: Coronavirus will worsen over next month if restrictions eased, top Pentagon doctor says

Top Pentagon doctor said Wednesday the coronavirus pandemic is showing no signs of letting up over the next three weeks, according to the last military models, and any potential easing of restrictions in the coming weeks could potentially “make this worse.”

“We’re going to continue to see this — no surprise — continue to grow,” Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs told reporters.

The doctor for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff was asked by Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin if it was wise to ease restrictions by Easter.

“I don’t think there’s a great deal of value in speculating on a particular date, and what I would ask for everyone’s help with is worry about today. Because if we stop doing the right thing today because we think something’s going to happen in four weeks, we will make this worse,” Friedrichs replied.

At a Fox News virtual town hall Tuesday, President Trump said he hoped to open parts of the U.S. economy by Easter, April 12.

Trump argued he doesn’t want “to turn the country off” and see a continued economic downfall from the pandemic. He also said he worries the U.S. will see “suicides by the thousands” if coronavirus devastates the economy.

“We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off,” Trump said during the interview.

Trump added: “We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call up the automobile companies and say stop making cars. We have to get back to work.”

But…

Top Defense Department officials later warned that the coronavirus outbreak will last in the U.S. for at least the next “three months” —  a stark contrast from Trump’s prognosis.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday from the Pentagon estimated that the country could grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic rocking the nation for at least 10 weeks.

“It looks like it has an eight- to 10-week period,” Esper said. “We need to plan for this to be a few months long, at least, and we are taking all precautionary measures to do that, to be in it for the long haul.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley took it a step further.

“You’re looking at eight to 10, maybe 12 weeks, something like that, call it three months,” Milley said. “Some of that depends on what we do as a nation to mitigate it, to flatten that curve so to speak. But we, the United States military, we’re going to do this as long as the mission takes.”

Hopefully there won’t be rises of 300 deaths per day over ten weeks, they should ease off sooner or later, but 10 weeks is 70 days, so it could get quite bad (worse than now).


Morning update:

Overnight the number of cases in the US have jumped from 68,572 to 75,233

Deaths have only edged up from 1,031 to 1,070

And Fox News has stopped showing the 24 hour increase. Maybe it was too scary. And Fox is pushing White House propaganda diverting blame to China.

 

 

 

 

Where is all the money coming from?

Businesses and economies around the world will take a severe hit from the costs and effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

New Zealand has already announced $12.1 in spending to prop things up. It equates to about 4% of our GDP.

That amount is likely to grow substantially, and will add to borrowings. But that’s only small change in the international finance pond.

Across the Tasman: What Australia’s $189bn coronavirus economic rescue package means for you

The government has announced a second major economic rescue package worth $66bn, on top of an initial $17.6bn package and more than $100bn in emergency banking measures to prevent against a credit freeze.

Framed as a “safety” package, the second wave of stimulus ramps up support for small business and also includes a major boost to welfare recipients and for people who lose work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In total, the government has now committed economic support worth $189bn – almost 10% of GDP – and has also flagged more packages as the crisis unfolds.

UK Government: Support for those affected by COVID-19

On 17 March, the Chancellor announced an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP.

This was on top of a series of measures announced at Budget 2020, the government announced £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, including a new £5 billion COVID-19 Response Fund, to provide any extra resources needed by the NHS and other public services to tackle the virus.

Just announced in the US: Senate, White House reach $2 trillion stimulus deal to blunt coronavirus fallout

Senate leaders and the Trump administration reached agreement early Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package to rescue the economy from the coronavirus assault, setting the stage for swift passage of the massive legislation through both chambers of Congress.

National Post: Trump and his children banned from applying to US$2 trillion stimulus plan

Together with Fed intervention, the proposed legislation amounted to a $6 trillion stimulus, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, or about 30 per cent of annual GDP.

The package will likely more than double a U.S budget deficit that was already set to hit $1 trillion this year before the outbreak. It also may not be the last infusion of government spending in response to the spread of the virus.

The US has had growing deficits and growing debt since the GDP in 2008:

As of February 2020, federal debt held by the public is 17.23 trillion and intragovernmental holdings were $6.02 trillion, for a total national debt of $25.3 trillion

 

At the end of 2018, debt held by the public was approximately 76.4% of GDP and approximately 29% of the debt held by the public was owned by foreigners. The United States has the largest external debt in the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States

When the US package was announced the country was heralded as ‘the greatest country in then world’, as they tend to do. That may refer to the greatest debt in the world. That’s one thing trump has been biggest and best at, growing debt.

There’s some big numbers here, and this is just four countries.

Where will all this support package money come from? Are loans already secured?

 

Covid-19 climbs around the world, last day before NZ lockdown

Cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus and deaths continue to climb around the world, with many countries having significant increases.

Currently (JHU data):

  • Total confirmed 407,485
  • Total deaths 18,227
  • Total recovered 104,234

 

The February spike will be China, but the rest of the world is now picking up.

The toll across the United Kingdom rose by 87 in the last day to 422 (a 26% increase) and confirmed cases were up 21% to over 8,000. They are still having problems with crowded trains.

Spain has had more than 500 deaths in a day, making a total of 2,800 who’ve died from its 39,676 cases.

Germany has had a relatively low number of deaths from 31,991 cases but have jumped recently to 149.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Either the spread or detection is slow in most parts of Africa.

Conspicuous is the lack of reported cases and deaths in Russia.

Official: Russia has no ‘clear picture’ of extent of Covid-19 outbreak

Russia, which shares a border with China and has a population of 144 million, has so far reported 495 cases of the coronavirus but no confirmed fatalities.

“The problem is that the volume of testing is very low and nobody has a clear picture” of the situation in Russia and the world, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told President Vladimir Putin during a meeting.

“The picture that is unfolding is serious,” said Sobyanin

This photo from a store in Moscow suggests it is a major concern of not a problem there.

A man, wearing a protective mask, walks past empty shelves in a store, due to the fear of Covid-19 outbreak in Moscow March 17, 2020. — Reuters pic

JHU data shows 519 cases in India and 10 deaths, which seem very low for such a densely populated country.

India’s 1.3b people to enter ‘total lockdown’

India is to impose a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced.

The restrictions will apply from midnight local time and will be enforced for 21 days.

“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi said in a televised address.

The US could soon become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic after a ‘very large acceleration’ in cases, WHO warns

  • The US could soon become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation warned Tuesday.
  • A WHO spokeswoman, Margaret Harris, noted that there had been a “very large acceleration” in cases in the US in recent days.
  • In the past 24 hours, 85% of all new coronavirus cases were in the US and Europe. In the US, 553 people have died from COVID-19.
  • President Donald Trump has refused to impose a national lockdown, however, and has instead insisted the US will soon be “open for business.”

Current John Hopkins data shows 49,768 cases in the US (third to China and Italy and ahead of Spain) and 600 deaths.

Despite this Pence says White House not considering a nationwide coronavirus lockdown (a number of states are in lockdown) and:

Trump, during Fox News coronavirus town hall, calls for re-starting economy by Easter: ‘We have to get back to work’

President Trump said Tuesday during a Fox News virtual townhall that he wants the country’s economy re-opened by Easter amid questions over how long people should stay home and businesses should remain closed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking from the Rose Garden alongside others on his coronavirus taskforce, Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” The holiday this year lands on April 12.

Trump argued he doesn’t want “to turn the country off” and see a continued economic downfall from the pandemic. He also said he worries the U.S. will see “suicides by the thousands” if coronavirus devastates the economy.

“We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off,” Trump said during the interview.

“We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call up the automobile companies and say stop making cars. We have to get back to work.”

That’s contrary to how most countries are handling Covid-19, and also major US states.

And contrary to US officials:

During a coronavirus town hall with U.S. forces around the world, Defense Secretary Mark Esper estimated it could take up to 10 weeks, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley went a little further saying he expected the military to be dealing with the virus for the next three months.

Currently in Australia there are 2,139 confirmed cases and 8 deaths.

Many New Zealanders who have suddenly lost jobs in Australia and will get no Government assistance there are trying to come back here.

Australian states have taken different actions, but some restrictions have been applied to the whole country. Official information:

  • Tight new restrictions on weddings, funerals, fitness classes, beauty salons, arcades and play centres will be implemented from 11:59pm, 25 March. An international travel ban (with some exemptions) will also be introduced. Read more.
  • Some states and territories are closing their borders, meaning anyone entering will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Currently, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia have announced they will close their borders. Essential services are generally exempt from this requirement but some states require undertakings and/or evidence be provided to prove that entry into the state is essential.
  • School closures (both government and non-government) are a matter of the respective state and territory education authorities. Read more.
    (Schools aren’t being closed yet in Queensland but parents can choose to keep their children at home).
  • All pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), places of worship, gyms, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, casinos must be closed. Restaurants and cafes can offer takeaway options. Supermarkets, pharmacies and essential services can remain open. Read more.

Cases in New Zealand (confirmed and probable) jumped to 152 yesterday. We go into full lockdown (except for essential services, shops and petrol stations) at 11:59 pm tonight.

A state of emergency will be declared in Parliament today. A UBI is being considered as one option.

People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday.

 

Trump declares US ‘national emergency’, ramps up Covid-19 tests

President Donald Trump has just had a media conference in which he declared a ‘national emergency’ due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. there are rep[oets he is also invoking the Stafford Act.

  • The national emergency gives access to expanded authorities for the executive branch.
  • The Stafford Act is what frees up the extra federal funding and allows access to the funds.

Trump said this would “open up access to up to $50 billion,” which was “a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.”

Trump also urged states to set up emergency operation centres immediately.

Many states have already declared emergencies and taken significant steps to try to contain the spread of the virus.

After recently claiming virus tests in the US were ‘the best’ (and was contradicted by a top health official) Trump also announced a major increase in screening tests around the US – up to 5 million tests a month.

This is a major shift for Trump – but the media conference seemed heavy on PR in reaction to strong and widespread criticism of Trump and the US response.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:

“We still have a long way to go. There will be many more cases. But we’ll take care of that and ultimately, as the President said, this will end.

But what’s going on here today is going to help it to end sooner than it would have.”

Trump: “We don’t want everybody taking this test. It’s totally unnecessary”.

CNN: President Trump continues to shake hands with corporate chiefs in the Rose Garden, even as health experts warn against the practice in a bid to prevent community spread.

“I’ve waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies, and that will be until further notice”.

He said he also directed the Secretary of Energy “to purchase large quantities of crude oil for the US strategic reserves.”

Vice-President Pence is talking a load of PR bull, praising Trump for everything he has done.

Meanwhile the US sharemarket has partially bounced back, recovering (currently 4.8% on the Dow Jones) from yesterdays 10% slump (it hasn’t reacted noticeably to the announcement yet). I expect the timing of the announcement had the close of the US markets in mind. Update – a late jump almost regained all of yesterday’s loss, closing up 9.36% (yesterday was down 9.99%), although it is still down nearly 3000 points over the week.

In response to media questions he criticises the Democrats, and slams the Obama for what he claims were failures over an epidemic, but when called on his claims by a reporter he shut them down.

Trump’s speech on significant US action on Covid-19

President Donald Trump gave an address on fairly drastic action to try to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but after clarifications it isn’t as drastic as it first sounded.

Travel from non-American citizens and residents from Europe (excluding the UK) to USA is banned for 30 days.

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

Contrary to impressions from the speech freight from Europe is not banned.

Major sports reactions to with the all US NBA basketball games suspended until further notice.


President Donald Trump’s speech to the nation on the coronavirus:

My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world.

Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.

We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.

This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.

From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.

Our team is the best anywhere in the world. At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.

And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.

The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.

After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.

There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea. And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.

Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.

We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time. These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.

Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.

The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus. The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful.

In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas.

My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings.

Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.

Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best.

For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.

To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.

I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.

Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.

Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.

This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.

However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.

Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.

Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.

Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.

We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first.

If we are vigilant — and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will — we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. The virus will not have a chance against us.

No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.

We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.

As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity.

Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.
God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.

Italy locked down to limit spread of Covid-19 but deaths increase

Italy is in near total lockdown to try to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, with businesses and restaurants shut and streets virtually deserted. Italians have been barred from travelling to Austria.

A New Zealander in Rome has just been interviewed on RNZ, they have to stay in their hotel except for emergencies, and have no idea how long they will have to stay there.

The impact of the virus in New Zealand is much less drastic but still significant.

Reuters: Streets deserted as Italy imposes unprecedented coronavirus lockdown

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were canceled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday, the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel until April 3, dramatically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicenter of the spreading contagion.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte unexpectedly expanded the so-called red zone to the entire country on Monday night, introducing the most severe controls on a Western nation since World War Two.

The move shocked many small businesses, which feared for their future.

“It looks like an apocalypse has struck, there is no one around,” said Mario Monfreda, who runs Larys restaurant in a smart Rome residential area. Under the government order, all bars and restaurants will now have to close at 6.00 p.m.

However, the prosperous northern region of Lombardy, centered on Italy’s financial capital Milan, called on the government to introduce even more stringent measures.

This must have a massive effect on the Italian economy, as well as on the lives of Italians and anyone else stuck in the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Italy has officially gone from 9,172 to 10,149.

Of that number, 1,004 have fully recovered.

Italy’s death toll of 631 is the largest outside China, and the latest increase in deaths – 168 – is the biggest recorded in a single day.

So it looks like things are getting worse. It is reported that Italian hospitals are under severe pressure.

BBC: Italians barred from Austria to stop spread

Austria has announced a ban on people entering the country from Italy unless they carry a medical certificate, in an attempt to stop coronavirus spreading.

Speaking after the Italian government imposed travel restrictions across the country, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Austrians returning from Italy would have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Austria has seen 158 cases of coronavirus so far.

Austria and Italy share a border north of Italy’s South Tyrol region. On Tuesday, South Tyrol, in common with the rest of Italy, closed all cultural centres and restricted access to bars and cafes to daytime hours.

Italy’s nationwide lockdown limits travel to those with “verifiable work requirements or situations of necessity”. All sporting events have been suspended, and schools and universities have been shut until 3 April. Employees have been urged either to work from home or take annual leave.

In other parts of Europe:

  • Spain has reported 1,622 cases, almost half in the Madrid area, and all Spanish sport is to be played behind closed doors until April, including La Liga matches
  • Several German states are imposing restrictions. Bavaria will ban events involving more than 1,000 people
  • Denmark has recommended avoiding public transport during the rush hour and banned planes from landing from Northern Italy, part of Austria, Iran and areas of South Korea and China
  • Czech schools will shut from Wednesday and authorities are looking for dozens of customers of a Czech Uber driver who tested positive for the virus

After a big drop Tuesday the US sharemarket has recovered slightly (0.41%) so far on their Wednesday, but the virus is still a problem there.

Reuters: ‘This is likely to get worse’: U.S. public health official

The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is likely to get worse, the country’s top public health official said, and Americans should assess their personal circumstances when deciding whether to cancel travel plans or avoid public gatherings.

The number of cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the virus has risen steadily in the United States this week, stoking concerns of a health and economic crisis that could pummel workers and companies.

And the number of cases may be under-detected.

Health officials in New York state and other parts of the country hard hit by the coronavirus have complained about a shortage of testing capacity.

Trump was heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon to discuss what action should be taken. During the White House meeting he said the administration intended to also help airlines and the cruise line industry.

After reaching some of his best poll results approval of Trump is taking a bit of a hit.

This sort of communication is typical of trump, but facing a serious health crisis people may not be as forgiving as they have been.

In New Zealand things seem under control as far as the virus goes, but there are concerns about business, employment and the economy.

Newsroom: Covid-19 the crisis that could allow debt rule breach

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said for the first time today that the global Covid-19 economic drama that worsened substantially overnight could be the crisis situation that could trigger the exemption clause in the Government’s much-discussed Budget Responsibility Rules. He suggested today that Covid-19, which crashed stock markets overnight, could have passed that threshold to be the ‘out clause’ in the BRRs.

That would be justified.

Newsroom: Govt locks down travel amid Covid-19 fears

A wave of ministries and DHBs are scrambling to put in place travel policies that have been vetted by health experts and approved by staff and unions as the global Covid-19 crisis worsens. While some say they are sticking to advice from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, others have struck out on their own with unique policies.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told Newsroom that “Ministry of Health employees have been advised that any non-essential international business travel to or through Covid-19 countries of concern should be postponed or cancelled”.

Auckland DHB told staff in a memo on Thursday that it would be restricting overseas travel. Now, Canterbury has joined Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitematā in slapping a ban on “non-essential international [business] travel” and recommending that staff “consider carefully any private international travel”.

Newsroom: Businesses fear late and weak response

As the Government touts a “targeted approach” to a worsening economy, businesses and economists are starting to say the Government just needs to spend. Sometimes a broad brush approach that slops around plenty of cash is better at helping everyone than targeting and means-testing those with the most obvious and provable problems.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday the Government was working on a business continuity package that would include a wage subsidy for affected businesses with possible working capital support.

survey of Retail NZ members showed 60 percent of their members have already been negatively affected by Covid-19. It noted an average 15 percent decrease in sales through its members’ outlets.

Most of those affected retailers (70 percent) expected to have cashflow difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 situation.

While the flow-on effects for the tourism sector have been well-documented, Covid-19 has also changed the behaviour of consumers in unpredictable ways.

Auckland Business Chamber Chief Executive Michael Barnett said the Government needed to get its hands dirty, not be afraid to make mistakes, and start pushing money into businesses to prevent them from folding up or shedding staff.

Infometrics economist Brad Olsen argued there was a growing case for a “supercharged” policy response that overshot the mark.

“At the moment we’ve been quite a long time without having inflation return to its 2 percent band that we normally target,” Olsen said.

First Retail group managing director Chris Wilkinson said indicators from clients were that Covid-19 had changed retail spending patterns and that there had been a “significant” growth in online spending.

He said there was a lack of strong leadership around Covid-19 that had left businesses to make their own decisions which, while in their own interests, might not be in the interests of the wider economy.

Stuff: Recession plans under way

It’s “now certain” that the economic impact of coronavirus will ripple through NZ’s economy for the rest of the year, says government.

The Government is designing a stimulus package in case the economic shock spurred by Coronavirus turns into a recession.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, in a sit down interview with Stuff, said that while he isn’t forecasting a recession, the nation’s top bureaucrats have been tasked with preparing a macroeconomic package in case it is required.

“We’re not predicting it still, but we directed officials yesterday [Monday] to pull together a macro-economic package that would recognise that we were moving into a sustained global downturn,” Robertson said.

Robertson keeps playing it down some have predicted a recession seems inevitable in New Zealand and world-wide, for obvious reasons.

It’s hard to predict what impact all this will have on us as individuals. The virus seems contained, but the effects of the virus could be significant and for some time.

There were no new Beehive announcements on the virus yesterday, after saying on Tuesday that the details of a Business Continuity Package are ” now being worked through”.

Claim that Taliban don’t intend honouring peace deal with US

NBC news report: “U.S. government has collected persuasive intelligence that the Taliban do not intend to honor the promises they have made in the recently signed deal with the United States

A week ago Afghanistan’s Taliban, US sign agreement aimed at ending war

US officials and Taliban representatives have signed an agreement after months of negotiations in Qatar’s capital that is aimed at ending the United States’s longest war, fought in Afghanistan since 2001.

Saturday’s agreement, signed in Doha in the presence of leaders from Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, will pave the way for the US to gradually withdraw its troops.

In a statement, the Taliban said it had reached an agreement “about the termination of occupation of Afghanistan”.

“The accord about the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and never intervening in its affairs in the future is undoubtedly a great achievement,” it added.

Earlier on Saturday, the Taliban ordered all its fighters to halt fighting and “refrain from attacks”.

For his part, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Taliban to honour its commitments.

“I know there will be a temptation to declare victory, but victory for Afghans will only be achieved when they can live in peace and prosper,” he said at the Doha ceremony.

Minutes before the agreement was signed, a joint statement released by the US and the Afghan government said the US and NATO troops would withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months.

About 14,000 US troops and approximately 17,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partner countries are stationed in Afghanistan in a non-combatant role.

“The United States will reduce the number of US military forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and implement other commitments in the US-Taliban agreement within 135 days of the announcement of this joint declaration and the US-Taliban agreement,” the joint statement said.

Abut the following day Afghan Government Objects to Elements of US-Taliban Peace

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, speaking at a news conference less than 24 hours after the agreement was signed, questioned several elements of the deal, including the timeline for a controversial prisoner exchange and the conditions surrounding the start of talks between the Taliban and his government.

Yesterday Afghans Wonder: Is the Peace Deal Just for Americans?

The Taliban, for their part, are now saying more clearly than ever that the peace deal signed Feb. 29 in Doha, Qatar, after 18 months of negotiations applies only to a truce with U.S. forces, not to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. “We signed an agreement with the Americans. But our jihad is not over,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Foreign Policy this week. “The stooges who supported the invaders during the last two decades are our enemies. This might change after additional talks but at the moment, we are still at war.”

So it looks like it isn’t a peace deal, but rather a way of getting the US out of Afghanistan.

Today U.S. has persuasive intel Taliban do not intend to abide by terms of peace deal, officials say

The U.S. government has collected persuasive intelligence that the Taliban do not intend to honor the promises they have made in the recently signed deal with the United States, three American officials tell NBC News, undercutting what has been days of hopeful talk by President Donald Trump and his top aides.

“They have no intention of abiding by their agreement,” said one official briefed on the intelligence, which two others described as explicit evidence shedding light on the Taliban’s intentions.

Trump himself acknowledged that reality in extraordinary comments Friday, saying the Taliban could “possibly” overrun the Afghan government after U.S. troops withdraw.

“Countries have to take care of themselves,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You can only hold someone’s hand for so long.” Asked if the Taliban could eventually seize power, Trump said it’s “not supposed to happen that way, but it possibly will.”

After the publication of this article, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted, “We categorically reject allegations by U.S. intel officials to NBC News that the (Taliban) has no intention of abiding by the agreement. The…implementation process is going good so far and such comments by U.S. officials cannot be justified.

It was never going to be easy to end fighting in Afghanistan.

This cartoon is from twenty years ago when the US military went in to Afghanistan.

 

Covid-19 concerns but so far seems under control in NZ

There are obvious concerns about the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus (I don’t think I heard of a ‘coronavirus’ until about a month ago) around the world, but so far at least it seems largely contained here in New Zealand.

It started and surged in China, got a hold in South Korea, Iran and Italy, and is getting worse in the United States, but so far there are only two confirmed cases here, both imported by New Zealand citizens. One was someone returning from Iran via Bali (now in hospital), the other returning from Italy via Singapore (now in isolation at home).

There’s a chance that these two may have spread the virus after returning, but that is being checked out and precautions are being taken.

One problem is that most people who get the virus only experience mild to meduim flu-like symptoms and may not get checked for Covid-19, so it could be quietly spreading. Or it may be limited and under control.

There has been an impact on businesses in New Zealand and will impact on finances for some time regardless of how many get the virus here.

However international risks increase, especially from the US.

Reuters: Coronavirus hits New York family, U.S. cases rise; lawmakers near emergency funds deal

Three family members and a neighbor of a New York man infected with the new coronavirus have also tested positive, officials said on Wednesday, and the number of cases increased across the United States.

The latest data here from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed 129 confirmed and presumed cases in the United States from the previous 108.

The cases were 80 reported by public health authorities in 13 states plus 49 among people repatriated from abroad, according to the CDC website. North Carolina became the 13th state to report a case on Tuesday.

Nine people have died in the Seattle area, health officials said. Of the 27 cases documented as of Tuesday in Washington state in the Pacific Northwest, nine were connected to a long-term nursing-care facility in a Seattle suburb.

Reuters: Fragile safety net leaves U.S. economy vulnerable to coronavirus hit

Economists worry that a large number of quarantined workers could sharply curb consumer spending, the pillar of the U.S. economy, and further widen the gap between the affluent and a working class that already struggles to pay the bills.

I know someone who has had a business trip to the US delayed due to concerns about the virus.

US sharemarkets plummeted last week, but recovered a bit at thee start of this week and now Wall Street surges after Biden’s surprise Super Tuesday lead

I wonder who Trump will blame that on, or maybe he will claim the credit.

Trump has been busy on twitter jeering at Democrat candidates who are dropping out (and also past allies like Jeff Sessions: “This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

Sport around the world has been impacted by the virus, with doubts about the Olympics.

Reuters: Japan coronavirus cases hit 1,000 mark as Tokyo insists Olympics on track

Japan’s confirmed coronavirus infections rose above 1,000 on Wednesday, most of them from a quarantined cruise liner, as Olympics organizers dismissed speculation that the Tokyo Summer Games could be canceled.

The virus is spreading worldwide, with South Korea, Europe and Iran hit hard, and several countries have reported their first confirmed cases, taking the total to some 80 nations hit with the flu-like illness that can lead to pneumonia.

The number of cases in mainland China, where the outbreak originated in December, has reached 80,270, while the death toll had risen by 38 to 2,981 by March 3.

There have been more than 125 deaths outside China.

The new cases in Japan pushed the total over 1,000, according to Reuters calculations – 706 are from the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which has been quarantined for weeks off Yokohama.

World Health Organisation: Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports

SITUATION IN NUMBERS
total and new cases in last 24 hours

Globally
90 870 confirmed (1922 new)

China
80 304 confirmed (130 new)
2946 deaths (31 new)

Outside of China
10 566 confirmed (1792 new)
72 countries (8 new)
166 deaths (38 new)

WHO RISK ASSESSMENT
China Very High
Regional Level Very High
Global Level Very High

All we can do here is hope that the virus is contained here, which will be a challenge given how interconnected the world is now.


UPDATE:

That person seems likely to be connected to one of the two already confirmed to have the virus.

US: Turnout of voters matters more than swing voters, candidates or policies?

Polls are trying to analyse the wrong things – that’s why they can be inaccurate.

This is from the US two party polarised political system and may not apply so much under MMP in New Zealand, but it’s an interesting theory – it’s not swing voters who decide elections, and it’s not so much candidates and policies. US elections can be decided by which voters are most motivated to get out to stop the other side winning.

This would mean that in 2016 right wing voters were motivated more against Hilary Clinton winning than for Donald Trump. And left wing voters were more ambivalent, with many seeing both Clinton and trump as undesirable.

The 2018 mid-term election favoured Democrat candidates because the motivation to react against trump had strengthened (and there was no ‘Clinton’).

Politico: An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter

Rachel Bitecofer’s radical new theory predicted the midterms spot-on. So who’s going to win 2020?

What if there aren’t really American swing voters—or not enough, anyway, to pick the next president? What if it doesn’t matter much who the Democratic nominee is? What if there is no such thing as “the center,” and the party in power can govern however it wants for two years, because the results of that first midterm are going to be bad regardless?

What if the Democrats’ big 41-seat midterm victory in 2018 didn’t happen because candidates focused on health care and kitchen-table issues, but simply because they were running against the party in the White House?

What if the outcome in 2020 is pretty much foreordained, too?

To the political scientist Rachel Bitecofer, all of that is almost certainly true, and that has made her one of the most intriguing new figures in political forecasting this year.

Keep in mind that they invented political forecasters to make economic forecasters and weather forecasters look good.

Bitecofer, a 42-year-old professor at Christopher Newport University in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, was little known in the extremely online, extremely male-dominated world of political forecasting until November 2018. That’s when she nailed almost to the number the nature and size of the Democrats’ win in the House, even as other forecasters went wobbly in the race’s final days

And today her model tells her the Democrats are a near lock for the presidency in 2020, and are likely to gain House seats and have a decent shot at retaking the Senate.

Bitecofer’s theory, when you boil it down, is that modern American elections are rarely shaped by voters changing their minds, but rather by shifts in who decides to vote in the first place.

If she’s right, it wouldn’t just blow up the conventional wisdom; it would mean that much of the lucrative cottage industry of political experts—the consultants and pollsters and (ahem) the reporters—is superfluous, an army of bit players with little influence over the outcome. Actually, worse than superfluous: That whole industry of experts is generally wrong.

The experts do seem to be more often wrong than right.

The classic view is that the pool of American voters is basically fixed: About 55 percent of eligible voters are likely to go to the polls, and the winner is determined by the 15 percent or so of “swing voters” who flit between the parties. So a general election campaign amounts to a long effort to pull those voters in to your side.

“The idea that there is this informed, engaged American population that is watching these political events and watching their elected leaders and assessing their behavior and making a judgment.”

“And it is just not true.”

In 2016, the election that truly embarrassed the experts, Bitecofer was teaching in her new job and didn’t put together a forecast. She doesn’t pretend she saw it coming:

She says she was as surprised Trump won as anyone else, but what struck her in examining the results, and what she saw as getting lost in the postelection commentary, was exactly how many people voted third party—for the Greens, the Libertarians or Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative who was running on behalf of the “Never Trump” wing of the Republican Party.

Hillary Clinton had run an entire campaign built around classic assumptions: She was trying to pick off Republicans and Republican-leaning independents appalled by Trump. So she chose a bland white man, Tim Kaine, as a running mate; it also explained her policy-lite messaging and her ads.

But in the end, almost all of those voters stuck with the GOP. The voters who voted third party should have been Democratic voters—they were disproportionately young, diverse and college educated—but they were turned off by the divisive Democratic primary, and the Clinton camp made no effort to activate them in the general election.

The anti-Clinton vote was stronger than the WTF anti-Trump vote.

When 2018 rolled around, she saw what was coming: “College educated white men, and especially college educated white women,” she said, “were going to be on fucking fire.”

It didn’t matter who was running; it mattered who was voting.

Negative partisanship

Bitecofer’s view of the electorate is driven, in part, by a new way to think about why Americans vote the way they do. She counts as an intellectual mentor Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University who popularized the concept of “negative partisanship,” the idea that voters are more motivated to defeat the other side than by any particular policy goals.

In a piece explaining his work in POLITICO Magazine, Abramowitz wrote: “Over the past few decades, American politics has become like a bitter sports rivalry, in which the parties hang together mainly out of sheer hatred of the other team, rather than a shared sense of purpose.

Republicans might not love the president, but they absolutely loathe his Democratic adversaries. And it’s also true of Democrats, who might be consumed by their internal feuds over foreign policy and the proper role of government were it not for Trump.”

Bitecofer took this insight and mapped it across the country.

“In the polarized era, the outcome isn’t really about the candidates. What matters is what percentage of the electorate is Republican and Republican leaners, and what percentage is Democratic and Democratic leaners, and how they get activated,” she said.

But it must be more complex than this.

“It’s the big discussion in election forecasting and political science right now,” said Kyle Kondik, communications director at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and an editor at its forecasting site, Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “As I look at it, there are just a lot of different things going on in the electorate. There are a lot of folks who switched from Obama 2012 to Trump 2016. I think that’s pretty clear, but there also were turnout problems for Democrats in these places, and you had people switching or defecting to third parties. The more you learn about this stuff, the less you feel like you have a grasp on it.”

Sam Wang, a neuroscientist at Princeton University who since 2004 has doubled as an elections forecaster…agrees. The percentage of people who swing in and out of the electorate is closer to 10 percent, according to his data, which couldn’t explain the massive swings some counties saw from 2012 to 2016.

As for Bitecofer’s overall theory, Wang says, “It is the detailed version of something that is generally appreciated—that over the last 20 years the big phenomenon in American politics is that Americans have become much more predictable about who they vote for,” he said. “The broad insight is the deep truth of our time, but it is not that novel.”

This bit seems odd – election results are virtually decided before candidates are known.

“What I am saying is that almost all of this shit is set in stone for three years, that almost none of the shit that people are hanging onto, in terms of daily articles, or polls, or the economy or incumbency or ideology is really worth that much.”

Once you know the shape of the electorate, she argues, you can pretty much tell how that electorate is going to vote. And the shape of the electorate in 2018, and 2020, for that matter, was determined on the night of November 8, 2016. The new electorate, as she forecasts it, is made up mostly of people who want a president named anything but Donald Trump, competing with another group that fears ruin should anyone but Donald Trump be president.

But if Hillary Clinton suddenly entered this year’s presidential nomination race and was selected surely that would change things considerably. Maybe. Now left wing voters have experienced Trump in action as president voting against him may be stronger than voting against Clinton.

Although the ranks of independents are growing, up to 40 percent by some surveys, Bitecofer says campaigns have spent entirely too much time courting them, and the media has spent entirely too much caring about their preferences. The real “swing” doesn’t come from voters who choose between two parties, she argues, but from people who choose to vote, or not (or, if they do vote, vote for a third party).

The actual percentage of swing voters in any given national election according to her own analysis is closer to 6 or 7 percent than the 15 or 20 most analysts think are out there, and that larger group, Bitecofer says, are “closet partisans” who don’t identify with a party but still vote with one.

It should be easier to motivate people to vote who already lean your way than swinging someone from one side to the other.

This year’s election?

Bitecofer has already released her 2020 model, and is alone among election forecasters in giving the Democrats—who, of course, do not yet have a nominee—the 270 electoral votes required to claim the presidency without a single toss-up state flipping their way.

And in a view that goes against years of accepted political wisdom that says the choice of a running mate doesn’t much matter, the key she says, to a 2020 Democratic victory will lie less in who is at the top of the ticket than in who gets chosen as veep.

The reason Trump won in 2016 was not, she says, because of a bunch of disaffected blue-collar former Democrats in the Midwest; it is because a combination of Jill Stein, Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin pulled away more than 6 percent of voters in a state like Michigan. These were anti-Hillary voters, yes—but they were anti-Trump voters especially, and they are likely to come to the Democratic fold this time around if they’re given a reason.

Trump appears to understand Bitecofer’s theories as well as anyone in politics. He leans into the divisions and negative partisanship. In 2018, Trump turned the midterms into a referendum on him, warning that Democrats would bring crime and chaos into their neighborhoods if they won. There was a turnout surge among Trump voters in some places, but it wasn’t enough to offset the Democratic gains.

Bitecofer already sees the Trump playbook coming together for 2020: warning of a demographic takeover by nonwhites in order to boost turnout among noncollege white voters, and trying to sow chaos in the Democratic ranks so that supporters of a losing primary candidate either stay home or support a third-party candidate.

Bitecofer doesn’t see much of a downside to a candidate like Bernie Sanders. But she doesn’t see much of an upside either, since ideology isn’t as big a motivator as identity, and since Sanders did not in fact bring hordes of new voters to the polls in 2016.

There is some risk to nominating Joe Biden, who could be seen as a candidate of the status quo against a disrupter like Trump, but either way, the key will be to do their version of what Trump does to them every day: make the prospect of four more years of Republican rule seem like a threat to the Republic, one that could risk everything Democratic-leaning voters hold dear.

“If you want to win the election, you have to be able to frame your candidacy in a way that reminds voters that Trump is an abnormality that must be excised,” she said.

While the Trump campaign playbook is well known now, the Democrats are just getting into the serious part of nominating a candidate. How they will campaign is unknown. Surely they can still stuff things up as the Clinton campaign did.

But those who may be motivated to vote against Trump may already be largely determined. Perhaps.