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Daily Bread for 4.6.20

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a passing shower this afternoon, and a high of fifty-nine.  Sunrise is 6:25 AM and sunset 7:28 PM, for 13h 02m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 95.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred forty-fifth day.

Whitewater’s School Board meets in closed session via videoconference at 5:45 PM to conduct to conduct district administrator screening interviews.

On this day in 1865,  the Union Army is victorious at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek.

Recommended for reading in full —

Sarah Kliff and Julie Bosman report Official Counts Understate the U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll:

A coroner in Indiana wanted to know if the coronavirus had killed a man in early March, but said that her health department denied a test. Paramedics in New York City say that many patients who died at home were never tested for the coronavirus, even if they showed telltale signs of infection.

In Virginia, a funeral director prepared the remains of three people after health workers cautioned her that they each had tested positive for the coronavirus. But only one of the three had the virus noted on the death certificate.

Across the United States, even as coronavirus deaths are being recorded in terrifying numbers — many hundreds each day — the true death toll is likely much higher.

More than 9,400 people with the coronavirus have been reported to have died in this country as of this weekend, but hospital officials, doctors, public health experts and medical examiners say that official counts have failed to capture the true number of Americans dying in this pandemic. The undercount is a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision-making from one state or county to the next.

 Charles Bethea reports What the Coronavirus Is Doing to Rural Georgia (‘Pandemic hits a region that was already struggling to address its medical needs’):

The hospital network’s [Phoebe Putney Health System’s] C.E.O., Scott Steiner, is monitoring supplies in real time. “Surgical gowns, we are three days from running out,” he told me on Tuesday. “N95s, we’re seven days. Surgical masks, the thinner ones, we’re at about six days. Face shields, we’re in good shape. Hand gel—we’ve been going through an incredible amount, but we think we have about ten days on hand.” He went on, “We’re constantly sourcing new products. New sources. Our traditional sources no longer have anything available and haven’t for two weeks.”

Hospital employees have begun sewing their own masks, “MacGyvering things up,” as Steiner put it. “We rolled that out yesterday morning,” he said. “That’s helped extend the life of our N95 masks. Had we not done that, we’d be out of N95 masks now.” (“I’ve almost likened it back to the war effort back in the day, when family members would help with munitions or whatever it took,” Black told me.) Since Tuesday, the hospital has produced twenty thousand fabric masks, allowing them to further stretch their supply of N95s and surgical masks, which Steiner expects will now last about two and three weeks, respectively. They’re down to six days of hand sanitizer and two days of face shields, he said in a follow-up call.“It’s impossible to predict what we’re going to get here and when,” Steiner explained. “Sometimes it comes on a skid from the state stockpile. We’re also sourcing items individually from certain vendors.”

 Tonight’s Sky for April:

Daily Bread for 4.5.20

Good morning.

Palm Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of fifty-four.  Sunrise is 6:27 AM and sunset 7:26 PM, for 12h 59m 31s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred forty-fourth day.

On this day in 1792,  Pres. Washington first exercises a veto of federal legislation.

Recommended for reading in full —

D’Angelo Gore of FactCheck.org writes Trump Falsely Claims He Inherited ‘Empty’ Stockpile:

While the government does not publicize all of the contents of the repository, at the time Trump took office, the Strategic National Stockpile, as it is formally known, reportedly contained vast amounts of materials that state and local health officials could use during an emergency,including vaccines, antiviral drugs, ventilators and protective gear for doctors and nurses.

“The SNS was definitely not an empty shell,” Dr. Tara O’Toole, a former homeland security official during the Obama administration who is now executive vice president at the nonprofit strategic investment firm In-Q-Tel, told us in an email.

At least three times in the past week, however, Trump has sought to blame former President Barack Obama’s administration for the current state of the stockpile, which has been unable to meet the demand for additional supplies expected to be needed to treat people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, or to protect the doctors and nurses caring for those patients. 

But NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce was allowed to visit one facility in June 2016 — only months before Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. In her article about the warehouse she toured, she described the shelves as being the opposite of bare.

“A big American flag hangs from the ceiling, and shelves packed with stuff stand so tall that looking up makes me dizzy,” Greenfieldboyce wrote.

 Conservative evangelical Michael Gerson writes We’ve officially witnessed the total failure of empathy in presidential leadership

Someday presidential historians will fully explore the defects of heart and character that led Donald Trump, in the midst of an unprecedented national crisis threatening hundreds of thousands of deaths, to brag that the television ratings for his afternoon briefings rivaled the “Bachelor” finale or “Monday Night Football.” This is not mere pettiness. It is clinical solipsism. Exploiting this type of tragedy in the cause of personal vanity reveals Trump’s spirit to be a vast, trackless wasteland. Trump seems incapable of imagining and reflecting the fears, suffering and grief of his fellow citizens. We have witnessed the total failure of empathy in presidential leadership.

….

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats convinced people in the bread lines of the Great Depression that an aristocratic president had their back. Following the March on Selma in March 1965, President Lyndon Johnson spoke to a joint session of Congress. He compared Selma to the sacrifices of the American Revolution and the Civil War. And he concluded: “Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.” In that moment, Johnson assured the civil right protesters that the American “we” encompassed their cause and that the president himself would be their advocate.

 The Origin of Bagel Bites and Hot Pockets:

Prudent Human Changes Concerning Exotic Animals

Karin Brulliard reports The next pandemic is already coming, unless humans change how we interact with wildlife, scientists say:

The new coronavirus, which has traversed the globe to infect more than 1 million people, began like so many pandemics and outbreaks before: inside an animal.

The virus’s original host was almost certainly a bat, scientists have said, as was the case with Ebola, SARS, MERS and lesser-known viruses such as Nipah and Marburg. HIV migrated to humans more than a century ago from a chimpanzee. Influenza A has jumped from wild birds to pigs to people. Rodents spread Lassa fever in West Africa.

But the problem is not the animals, according to scientists who study the zoonotic diseases that pass between animals and humans. It’s us.

Wild animals have always had viruses coursing through their bodies. But a global wildlife trade worth billions of dollars, agricultural intensification, deforestation and urbanization are bringing people closer to animals, giving their viruses more of what they need to infect us: opportunity. Most fail. Some succeed on small scales. Very few, like SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, triumph, aided by a supremely interconnected human population that can transport a pathogen around the world on a jet in mere hours.

One might have titled this post necessary human changes, but sadly change is not necessary – it’s possible that people will imprudently continue as they have been, and inflict future pandemics on others. Change seems necessary only for those with a moral sense; the ignorant might continue with their destructive habits to the detriment of countless innocents across the globe.

It will not be enough to ban wet markets in exotic animals (note the distinction between wild & exotic and domesticated animals). A mere ban would not prevent some sellers from moving underground. (Prohibitionists often erroneously believe that if they ban a practice, it will disappear.) Instead, societies will have to choose, as a matter of widespread belief, against an easy connection to, and consumption of, exotic animals.

Daily Bread for 4.4.20

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny,  with a few scattered morning showers, and a high of fifty-two.  Sunrise is 6:29 AM and sunset 7:25 PM, for 12h 56m 39s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 81.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred forty-third day.

On this day in 1865, shortly after Union forces capture Richmond, Virginia, President Lincoln visits the Confederate capital.

Recommended for reading in full —

Shawn Boburg, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Neena Satija and Amy Goldstein report Inside the coronavirus testing failure: Alarm and dismay among the scientists who sought to help:

On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing “unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,” according to an email summarizing the call.

“We’re in good hands,” a public health official who participated in the call wrote in the email to colleagues.

Three weeks later, early on Feb. 8, one of the first CDC test kits arrived in a Federal Express package at a public health laboratory on the east side of Manhattan. By then, the virus had reached the United States, and the kits represented the government’s best hope for containing it while that was still possible.

For hours, lab technicians struggled to verify that the test worked. Each time, it fell short, producing untrustworthy results.

That night, they called their lab director, Jennifer Rakeman, an assistant commissioner in the New York City health department, to tell her it had failed. “Oh, s—,” she replied. “What are we going to do now?”

In the 21 days that followed, as Trump administration officials continued to rely on the flawed CDC test, many lab scientists eager to aid the faltering effort grew increasingly alarmed and exasperated by the federal government’s actions, according to previously unreported email messages and other documents reviewed by The Washington Post, as well as exclusive interviews with scientists and officials involved.

CREW – Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington – Requests Records on Strategic National Stockpile Coronavirus Response:

The Trump administrations’ unequal responses to states in supplying medical equipment to fight the coronavirus raises questions of whether President Trump is biasing the Strategic National Stockpile’s distribution of supplies.

As the pandemic has grown, the Strategic National Stockpile has received an overwhelming number of requests for supplies, and the disparity in response to different states has been suspect at best. For example, Michigan—whose governor has been outspoken in her criticism of the federal response—has received far less from the stockpile than the state needs to combat the coronavirus, while Florida—whose governor has been praised by the president—received everything it requested. Additionally, HHS Secretary Azar reportedly anticipated the need before the coronavirus had spread to the U.S. and sought $2 billion to buy emergency medical equipment—a request OMB cut to $500 million in a supplemental budget request it sent to Congress.

CREW requested records on the FEMA and HHS criteria used to make distributions to states from the Strategic National Stockpile to address the coronavirus pandemic.

 Connecticut National Guard Converts Sports Arena Into Covid-19 Field Hospital:

An Empty-Headed Man’s Next Gig

Updated with a longer – and so more revealing – video of Kushner’s vapidity.

When Jared Kushner is finished impairing America’s response to a pandemic, he’ll need something else to do.

Wisconsin still has the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and in small Wisconsin towns like Whitewater one finds development hucksters, business leagues of landlords & bankers, self-described public relations experts, and assorted media relations types.

A platitudinous, lightweight man like Kushner would fit right in with such local groups. If anything, he’d probably be inspirational to them.

These groups should ring Kushner soon – he’s likely to be in high demand as a guest speaker among such organizations.

Daily Bread for 4.3.20

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with scattered showers, and a high of sixty-one.  Sunrise is 6:30 AM and sunset 7:24 PM, for 12h 53m 46s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 72.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred forty-second day.

On this day in 1865, the Union Army captures the Confederate capital: “The brigade containing the 19th Wisconsin Infantry was the first to enter Richmond on the morning of April 3rd. Their regimental flag became the first to fly over the captured capital of the Confederacy when Colonel Samuel Vaughn planted it on Richmond City Hall.”

Recommended for reading in full —

 Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report Commander of confusion: Trump sows uncertainty and seeks to cast blame in coronavirus crisis:

In the three weeks since declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, President Trump has delivered a dizzying array of rhetorical contortions, sowed confusion and repeatedly sought to cast blame on others.

History has never known a crisis response as strong as his own, Trump says — yet the self-described wartime president claims he is merely backup. He has faulted governors for acting too slowly and, as he did Thursday, has accused overwhelmed state and hospital officials of complaining too much and of hoarding supplies.

America is winning its war with the coronavirus, the president says — yet the death toll rises still, and in the best-case scenario more Americans will die than in the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

The economy is the strongest ever and will rebound in no time, he says — yet stock markets have cratered and in the past two weeks a record 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance.

As Trump has sought to remake his public image from that of a skeptic of the pandemic’s danger to a savior forestalling catastrophe and protecting hundreds of thousands of people from a vicious contagion, he also has distorted the truth, making edits and creating illusions at many turns.

Jeremy Peters reports Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion:

Talk show hosts and prominent right-wing writers criticized other conservatives who took the threat seriously. “Drudge has a screaming headline,” Rush Limbaugh announced on Feb. 26, referring to Matt Drudge and his website. “Flight attendant working L.A.X. tests positive. Oh, my God, 58 cases! Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” For years, Mr. Limbaugh has encouraged his audience to be suspicious of science as one of his so-called Four Corners of Deceit, which also include government, academia and media.

On Feb. 27, Mr. Hannity opened his show in a rage. “The apocalypse is imminent and you’re going to all die, all of you in the next 48 hours. And it’s all President Trump’s fault,” he said, adding, “Or at least that’s what the media mob and the Democratic extreme radical socialist party would like you to think.” His program would be one of many platforms with large audiences of conservatives — 5.6 million people watched Mr. Hannity interview the president on Fox last week — to misleadingly highlight statistics on deaths from the seasonal flu as a comparison.

On Feb. 28, Mr. Limbaugh read from an article from The Western Journal, a website that was blacklisted by Apple News last year for promoting articles Apple determined were “overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community.”

An ancient Antarctic rainforest:

Dr. Rishi Desai Delivers the Truth to Fox News Viewers

Ed Mazza reports that

A doctor’s no-holds-barred analysis of coronavirus testing shortcomings is going viral – not just because of his blunt talk but because of where he made his case: live on Fox News.

Dr. Rishi Desai, chief medical officer of the Osmosis website, vigorously shook his head “no” as Fox News host Martha MacCallum mentioned, as President Donald Trump has, that there were supposed to be millions of tests available. She also said people were still waiting for a quick test for COVID-19.
Desai responded with a fact-check.

“Yeah, they’re working on it,” he said. “They should’ve been working on it for months.”

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread for 4.2.20

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of fifty-eight.  Sunrise is 6:32 AM and sunset 7:23 PM, for 12h 50m 54s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 61.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred forty-first day.

On this day in 1865, defeat at the Third Battle of Petersburg forces the Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederate government to abandon Richmond.

Recommended for reading in full —

Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo write Fact-checking President Trump’s marathon news conference:

We inherited obsolete tests.”

There were no tests for the novel coronavirus, which only emerged in China late in 2019, so tests had to be developed specifically by countries starting in January. Trump appears to be referring to a system in place that relied on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take the lead in developing the tests. But a still-unspecified manufacturing problem caused the CDC to distribute flawed tests to state and local health departments. On top of that, having the CDC take the lead, rather than the private sector, was inappropriate for the task of testing potentially hundreds of thousands of people.

Two former Trump administration officials had warned on Jan. 28, in a Wall Street Journal article, that the CDC was not up to task and the private sector needed to be engaged. But the Trump administration waited another month before it fast-tracked the development of tests by private companies.

“I can only say that we are doing more than anybody in the world by far. We are testing highly accurate tests.”

Trump often makes this misleading claim about the level of testing in the United States. It is accurate when looking only at raw numbers. But the key indicator is tests per capita, which gives a read on the share of the population that has contracted the disease.

A crowdsourced tally provided by the Covid Tracking Project says the United States has tested 1.1 million people as of March 31. That represents about 1 in 297 people. Italy, for example, has a smaller population and a lower number of total tests, but it tested about three times as many people on a per capita basis: 1 in 133.

Bill Glauber reports Wisconsinites approve of government actions to stem coronavirus outbreak, new Marquette poll finds:

The big numbers: 86% said it was appropriate to close schools and businesses, and 51% strongly backed legislation directing cash payments to individuals, while 28% somewhat approved the measure.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was rated highly for his response to the crisis, with 76% approving of his handling of the issue, including a strong majority of Republicans.

 Opera Singer Serenades Residents at Senior Living Facility:

Daily Bread for 4.1.20

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of fifty.  Sunrise is 6:34 AM and sunset 7:22 PM, for 12h 48m 01s of daytime.  The moon is in its first quarter with 50.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred fortieth day.

On this day in 1945, the Battle of Okinawa begins.

Recommended for reading in full —

Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, Chelsea Janes, and Isaac Stanley-Becker report Governors plead for medical equipment from federal stockpile plagued by shortages and confusion:

As states across the country have pleaded for critical medical equipment from a key national stockpile, Florida has promptly received 100 percent of its first two requests — with President Trump and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis both touting their close relationship.

States including Oklahoma and Kentucky have received more of some equipment than they requested, while others such as Illinois, Massachusetts and Maine have secured only a fraction of their requests.

It’s a disparity that has caused frustration and confusion in governors’ offices across the country, with some officials wondering whether politics is playing a role in the response.

Governors are making increasingly frantic requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for materials. State and congressional leaders are flooding FEMA with letters and calls seeking clarity about how it is allocating suddenly in-demand resources such as masks, ventilators and medical gowns.

David Beard writes that The Scourge of Coronavirus Brings Out Bright Spots of Humanity:

The woman in her 80s was holed up in her car for 45 minutes outside an Oregon supermarket, waiting for the right person.

She cracked the window when Rebecca Mehra approached on March 11. Almost in tears, the woman in the car told Mehra that she was terrified of catching the coronavirus, that she and her husband next to her had no family nearby—and asked if Mehra could spare them the risk of stepping outside by accepting cash to buy groceries for them.

Mehra took a $100 bill and a grocery list from the woman, got the groceries (canned goods, toilet paper), put them in the trunk, and returned the change.

“Frankly most people I know would have done the same thing I did. I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Mehra, who spoke to CBS News affiliate KBNZ after more than 11 million people shared her story. In the days since, severe restrictions on public gatherings have hit almost everyone and everywhere, and reports of selfless acts of support and community care have grown.

 How Social Distancing During The COVID-19 Pandemic Looks From A Satellite: