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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by shaolin5, Jan 20, 2020.
A catalog of capital incompetence: The short list of things Donald Trump did to kill America
Every day seems to bring another round of the great national question: “How is it possible that Donald Trump missed so many chances to stop this?” In fact, Trump so consistently veered in the pro-death direction that it’s hard to believe he’s not #TeamCovid.
But because that evidence is piling up, and going past, with such regularity, here’s a quick catalog of some of Trump’s biggest screw ups and moments when he so tortured competence that everyone screamed. The nation is lurching to the end of a week from hell, and it’s headed toward months in hell’s subbasement. It only seems right to make another review of exactly who put us here.
TRUMP CANCELED THE PREDICT PROGRAM
PREDICT was a global program bringing together American scientists and foreign scientists in an effort to spot new threats in viruses making the leap between animals and people. Among the labs that were part of the PREDICT network was one in Wuhan, China that was looking specifically at SARS-related coronaviruses as a potential source of a pandemic. Both SARS and MERS had demonstrated the potential threat behind these viruses, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine a virus that was a little less deadly, and a little more contagious, turning into a massive global threat.
That program had identified over 150 such viruses, and that lab in Wuhan was the first to identify the virus behind COVID-19. But two months before that moment, Trump chopped the funding and dropped U.S. involvement, despite being repeatedly warned about the value of the program—an action that blinded the nation, just at the critical moment.
TRUMP IGNORED A “BLACK SWAN” WARNING FROM THE ARMY
Throughout January, as the 2019 novel coronavirus exploded in China and experts in the United States and around the world warned that the threat of pandemic was becoming all but certain, various agencies took a swing at trying to explain to Trump just what that would mean. Among them was the Army, who on Feb. 3 assembled a presentation showing that COVID-19 was potentially a massive “black swan” event that would completely disrupt the U.S. economy and result in over a 100,000 deaths. Even though many aspects of that Army analysis have turned out to be optimistic, the impact projected made COVID-19 the biggest threat the nation has faced since the Cold War. It didn’t matter … because Trump completely ignored it.
TRUMP DISMISSED A CDC REPORT SHOWING AMERICA UNPREPARED FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC
In 2018 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commemorated the 1918-1919 flu pandemic by conducting a review of America’s current standing. The outcome of the seminar that capped that review: A talk co-hosted by Dr. Nancy Messonnier, warning that the U.S. was completely unprepared to face a repeat visit from a pandemic respiratory disease. Warnings indicated that the health care system would be overrun, that the supply chains—both for medical products and consumer products—would be strained, and that deaths could actually exceed what was seen a century earlier. Similarly blunt assessments got Messonnier sidelined from handling the novel coronavirus response and kept her off the coronavirus response team … even though she is the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Messonnier’s co-host for that event? Dr. Luciana Borio, who was a part of the National Security Council pandemic response team that … well …
TRUMP DISMANTLED THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL’S PANDEMIC RESPONSE TEAM
After 9/11, it seemed only reasonable that the National Security Council (NSC) expand to look at a broader range of threats. That included threats such as biological weapons and pandemics. But Donald Trump, and his then National Security Advisor John Bolton, weren’t interested in dealing with novel threats. They were concentrated on the old-fashioned “who can we blow up today?” sort of option. So the entire global health security team was disbanded in May 2018. That included firing Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, an expert in dealing with both disasters and organizing a response to epidemics. However, before they were all gone, the pandemic response team produced a playbook on how to handle these emerging threats. And that playbook … well …
TRUMP DEVELOPED THE NATION’S FIRST SERIOUS DEFENSE AGAINST BIOLOGIC ATTACK
Psych. In 2017, Trump announced that it was “about time” that the nation have a coordinated plan for dealing with biological attacks—at about the same time Trump’s team was warning against the threat of disease spread by “Central American caravans” and pondering if “prayer rugs” left on the border might be sprinkled with Ebola. However, this was a twofer screw you, America. Because not only did the U.S. already have a plan for both pandemics and biological attack, but the guy who was supposed to be heading this effort was, yup, Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer. Who Trump then canned.
TRUMP FAILED TO FOLLOW PLAYBOOK ON HOW TO HANDLE PANDEMICS
If there is anything that Trump hates more than competent experts, it’s competent experts who worked for Barack Obama, which is a large overlapping set since Obama didn’t share Trump’s fear of people who might know more about a specific topic than he does. So it didn’t help that the NSC’s pandemic team completed their pandemic playbook in 2016 and handed it to an incoming Trump. That book took everything that had been learned in dealing with H1N1 flu and with Ebola and distilled it down into rules that made it dead simple to understand the weak points in the system and determine appropriate first steps when dealing with a new disease. If anyone in the Trump team bothered to read it, they certainly didn’t use it—particularly the part that emphasized the importance of testing, testing, testing.
TRUMP SHRUGGED OFF HIS OWN TEAM’S FAILURE IN A SIMULATED PANDEMIC
Maybe no one on Trump’s team read the pandemic playbook, but multiple members of the incoming White House staff were brought into a simulation of a pandemic as part of their training during the transition. That simulation explicitly dealt with a flu-like illness that emerged in Asia, spread around the world, and threatened the planet with the biggest pandemic since 1918. It warned that the United States could face “shortages of ventilators, anti-viral drugs and other medical essentials, and that having a coordinated, unified national response was 'paramount.'" But Trump’s team seemed as uninterested in this exercise as they were in every other thing that had to do with the real threats facing the nation.
TRUMP SCRAPPED THE ANNUAL DHS REVIEW OF PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS
Every year from 2005 to 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted a review that included modeling the effect that a pandemic would have on critical infrastructure across the nation. After that many years of effort, the DHS simulation was robust, and modeled not just the spread of disease but the effects on transportation, the economy, and how America could shift its workforce into work-from-home situations. In fact, it anticipated an amazing number of the issues that have appeared during the current crisis … so it might have been a very good thing if Trump hadn’t killed the process as soon as he came into the White House, putting all the results three years out of date.
TRUMP BLEW OFF A WARNING FROM A SIMULATION THAT CAME JUST LAST FALL
Operation Crimson Contagion (CC) has to be right up there in terms of spy game coolness. But that didn’t seem to help anyone in the entire Trump White House either pay attention to the results or refer to the results of the pandemic simulation that happened just weeks before COVID-19 emerged. CC was actually a whole series of exercises that tested every aspect of the government’s response to the outbreak of a novel disease, and the end result was a report stamped “not to be disclosed.” Not shockingly, it’s been disclosed. And what’s inside is a report that says … Honestly, you can guess what it says. It says the federal response was nothing short of terrible. It says that different agencies weren’t clear on who was responsible for various aspects of the response. It said there was no clear federal guidance. It said that hospitals were short on ventilators, and protective gear, and overrun with cases. Without necessary federal coordination, states and localities were left on their own when it came to determining things like school closings and other restrictions. The whole thing was a fair description of chaos. Or an incredibly accurate simulation.
This doesn’t even start to look at the ways that Trump has screwed up the real thing since it started. This is just how many times someone tried to wave a flag in the face of his team and get them to pay attention to what they were repeatedly told was the greatest potential threat facing the nation. It’s an amazing catalog of not just failures, but deliberate failure and willful ignorance.
Vice tweeted out they were going to have an interview with him and were asking for questions. He was getting roasted in the replies, rightfully so. He's one of the worst people in the admin. Just a complete shill for dear leader.
Cliffs: Yes my dad died after calling it a hoax, but the media is still blowing it out of proportion to hurt Trump
Let me consult with my famous baseball friends, Curt and Aubrey.
Oh ok they said we’re all clear. Let’s play that baseball.
right, but the critical time for containment purposes is early -- before the virus is completely out in the population so you can isolate as many people as possible who were exposed.
That said, SK, Singapore, Japan, etc. probably didn't do enough either. They did better, and they bought their health care systems some time to prepare (and learn from the rest of the world), but they never contained it. The incubation period, contagious asymptomatic people, etc. make it too difficult with this virus, and I don't think it can be done.
Side note on Lee Fierro. Not a real actress. She really slapped the shit out of Roy Scheider.
I guess i went a little over board by saying all. But yes there are still some flights but its very very limited.
Seems like a plausible theory.
Not holding my breath but
2 masters in 6 months?
Right wing politics is an alternative reality where nothing matters except believing you are right.
Virus hot spots in South poised for disproportionate suffering
By Dan Goldberg and Alice Miranda Ollstein
St. John the Baptist Parish, just southeast of Baton Rouge, La., has a population of just over 43,000 — and the highest per capita coronavirus mortality rate in the nation.
© Chris Graythen/Getty Images An street in New Orleans is empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Frantic local officials instituted an overnight curfew just this week and are begging residents to stay home. But in largely rural Southern states like Louisiana — where social distancing has been spotty, widespread testing is unavailable and hospitals are poorer and farther apart — the response may be coming too late to avoid a public health crisis as bad as the one now engulfing New York.
In New York, a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship is now docked and officials have been setting up makeshift morgues and marshaling thousands of health care workers. But St. John has no hospital within the parish boundaries, and many of its neighboring parishes have no ICU beds.
Hot spots like St. John the Baptist are erupting across the South. The virus is also poised to consume the area around Norfolk, Va., a rural county in Tennessee just north of Nashville and parts of southwest Georgia near Albany, according to models assembled by Columbia University epidemiologists. And without the resources of major cities, these areas are poised to see disproportionate suffering, economic hardship and death when cases peak.
Bing COVID-19 tracker: Latest numbers by country and state
“There is no city anywhere in the world that can withstand the outbreak that would occur if there isn’t rigorous social distancing,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.
With the same kind of equipment and staffing shortages plaguing big cities on the east and west coasts, local officials are left begging residents to stay indoors.
As of Friday, St. John the Baptist had nearly 300 confirmed cases and 22 deaths. The state health department says the region is already at 56 percent of its hospital bed capacity and 68 percent of its ICU bed capacity, with the virus’ peak not expected for at least another week and cases doubling every 2.5 days.
Local nursing homes and elder care facilities have become coronavirus clusters, with the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home accounting for more than a third of the parish’s deaths. Area leaders are bracing for that number to continue to rise.
“It will be of no surprise to me if our numbers continue to grow every single day as I continue to push for more testing,” parish President Jaclyn Hotard told residents in a tele-town hall Wednesday night. “I can’t stress enough to our residents to take this seriously.”
The models POLITICO examined could still change. Public health experts can't account for how well people will follow social distancing measures, how many beds and ventilators a governor can acquire — or just plain luck.
But the states that many experts are most concerned with are the ones that have been slow to clamp down on travel and nonessential businesses.
“That’s alarming and scary because we know nobody is immune,” said Ali Mokdad, a health metrics expert at the University of Washington whose modeling has informed White House decisions and shows the peak of the pandemic in Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, among others, is still weeks away.
With many Southern states only recently implementing stay-at-home orders, hospitals and local officials fear even sparsely populated counties could soon have more cases than their health care systems can handle. Local leaders and federal representatives are scrambling to add hospital capacity.
“The goal is to give our hospitals a fighting chance to care for people who do need beds, who need ventilators,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told the tele-town hall Wednesday night, as the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew took effect. “That’s why we’re asking people to be diligent and disciplined in heeding these warnings.”
Dougherty County, Ga., home to Albany, has about 90,000 people and more than 500 cases and 30 deaths, according to the state health department. Lee County, just to the north, has 115 cases and eight deaths in a population of 30,000. The state, where Gov. Brian Kemp issued a stay-at-home order on Wednesday, well after many other states, isn’t expected to see a peak for another three weeks, according to the University of Washington model.
"I’m concerned that folks just aren’t doing the distancing they need to do,” said Mayor Billy Vogle, who has been pleading daily with residents to stay home. “We’re going to have to get ready for what’s coming.”
Nashville, with 1.25 million people, is already a leading hot spot in the state. Nearly two-thirds of residents who live in Robertson County commute to Nashville for work, Vogle said.
On Thursday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Nashville’s Music City Center will be converted into a 1,600-bed hospitals for coronavirus patients who do not require critical care. Lee, after consulting traffic patterns, also announced a stay-at-home order, after resisting calls to do so from doctors across the state, including former Sen. Bill Frist.
“We clearly saw data in the last two or three days that changed the movement of Tennesseans, and that was very worrisome and it was also very dangerous,” Lee said.
The delay could prove costly and overwhelm the health system.
The Columbia University model also identified the area around Hampton Roads and Newport News, Va., at risk of having its health infrastructure swamped. Though the number of cases in those counties is currently low, Virginia is not expected to experience peak conditions until late May, and has so far received just a tiny fraction of the medical equipment requested from the federal government.
On Friday, state leaders confirmed that the tidewater region has some of the highest community spread in the state, and that it would be one of three areas designated for a field hospital to take pressure off the local medical system. The “alternate care” site in the Hampton Roads Convention Center will be able to hold up to 360 acute care beds or 580 non-acute beds, Gov. Ralph Northam said.
Hospitals in that area are preparing by halting elective procedures, setting up overflow beds in college dorms and other facilities and soliciting donations of ventilators and protective equipment.
Julian Walker, the vice president of communications for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, told POLITICO that facilities are bracing for a surge.
"If people faithfully practice social distancing to flatten the curve, we could avoid or at least minimize the spike of patients who need hospitalization and care during a narrow window of time that could overwhelm the system," he said. "It’s going to take cooperation from everyone.”
Isle of Wight County, which the Columbia model flagged as having the most acute capacity issues in the state, has no hospitals, while the neighboring Suffolk City County has just 12 ICU beds.
The hospital system Sentara, which operates several hospitals in the region, said its facility in Suffolk City County has 172 total beds, any of which could be converted into ICU beds if needed.
“If we anticipate a surge, we would discharge all appropriate patients to maximize inpatient capacity,” added Sentara spokesperson Dale Gauding.
President Donald Trump last month suggested that red, primarily rural areas where he enjoys some of his strongest support have largely avoided the pandemic because they’ve had better local leadership than states on both coasts that were slammed early and hard by the virus.
Trump opined these red states should be allowed to return to work sooner than the rest of the country.
But public health experts say they're most worried about those very areas. Arkansas, South Carolina and Texas do not have statewide stay-at-home orders. Florida and Mississippi enacted one only this week. That puts those states in the virus’ crosshairs, said Nirav Shah, a senior scholar at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center.
“The best indicator of who is at risk is how tamped down are you in terms of social distancing,” he said.
From DK about a town in Idaho, yikes
Notes on a pandemic: life in a small town epicenter of Covid-19
This is what it looked like just 11 days ago - Screenshot from Idaho Statesman on 3/20/20
One thing that hasn’t changed since the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Idaho is that Blaine County has consistently been home to about half of all cases. I predicted this a couple months ago, but it didn’t take a lot of intuition or intelligence to make that prediction.
Blaine County is large in size but small in population. It is made up of several small towns, the largest being the county seat of Hailey, population roughly 8,000. I live about ten miles north of Hailey in Ketchum, population of roughly 3,000. The whole county has a population of about 22,000; in most places it would be considered rural, and there are definitely places where that still applies.
But we’re a more urban environment than even some of the population centers in Idaho thanks to being home to Sun Valley, a world class ski resort. On any given weekend during the peak seasons of summer and winter, Ketchum and Sun Valley can have as many as 40,000 people in hotels, restaurants, shops, buses, ski lifts, etc.
I love living here for a million reasons. One, it is a small town, so wherever I go I run into someone I know. I don’t have a ton of friends but I have a million acquaintances, and some days when I’m out on a walk or grocery shopping, that short “hey! how’s it going!” really lifts my spirits. We do favors for each other here on a regular basis. Short a few bucks for lunch? Don’t worry, it’s on the house. Credit card declining at the store? No worries, come back tomorrow with the cash.
The working class here takes good care of each other.
But we don’t have to sacrifice culture or other urban amenities to have that small town familiarity. In the Spring and Fall, when we go into slack and have the town to ourselves without the tourists, we still have public transportation, concerts, nightlife, locally owned restaurants, theaters, etc. And if we’re sick of civilization- which you have to be on some level at all times anyway if you live in Idaho- it’s a short drive to the wilderness.
(We recently sold our truck, and we had all of our camping equipment stored in it. So we transferred it to the back seat of our car and when I told people “that’s our summer house back there” they knew exactly what I meant.)
This is where I live.
And where I live is being absolutely killed by this virus.
I’m writing this mostly for posterity, but it might give those of you in places that haven’t been hit hard an idea of what might be coming.
Sun Valley shut down operations early because of the virus. We usually keep the mountain open until Easter, but this year it went dark on March 15th. We only had a couple confirmed cases at that point, but we also had a lot of regularly scheduled events coming up, most notably our annual film festival that was supposed to be headlined by Amy Poehler this year, and we already knew at that point that bringing more people in from all over the country/world to gather in theaters and auditoriums wasn’t going to work.
That was the first domino to fall. With the closure of the Sun Valley lodge and cancellation of every other event, other hotels took a short “wait and see” approach but it didn’t take them long to shut their own doors. My wife manages one of the lodges here and we closed our doors on the 18th. By the end of that day, every other hotel except for a few in the southern part of the county did the same.
This is as of now — Screenshot from the Idaho Statesman, 3/31/20
Likewise, almost all of our restaurants moved to take out/delivery only, and stores started limiting their hours of operation. The bars were the only places that kept operating as usual, letting people congregate in small places, then disperse outward.
Keep in mind, this all happened days before I took a screenshot of the map above, when we didn’t have a lot of confirmed cases. And that is perhaps why I’m so angry about the dithering response of the city, state, and federal governments.
We knew this was going to explode. We knew it was coming. We knew that cases would increase exponentially. But, and this really chaps my ass, local businesses had to take matters into their own hands and start closing shit down while the people we elected seemed to think it would just pass on its own.
At this point, our rate of infection is at or above NYC levels, which in a town this small in very noticeable. Our hospital is already overwhelmed. We’re losing or have lost a considerable number of our medical personnel, they’ve fallen ill and are in isolation. This doesn’t seem like a big deal in places where things are more or less operating as usual, but here? It’s a big fucking deal.
We are surrounded by truly rural areas that don’t have hospitals or their own first responders. In normal times, it’s not ideal, but it works. Today, though, it’s scary. I would love to go on a bike ride but, besides the isolation orders, I’m trying to avoid anything that could cause a serious injury. In normal times if I went on a bike ride and hit a frost heave the wrong way, sending me flying, I could call 911 and have an ambulance next to me in minutes.
But right now, that’s not a given.
The people in this town are pretty cool, though. While this is a deep blue county, there are still plenty of trump fans. They think he’s doing a great job, but even they think that reopening everything by Easter is….. optimistic. Of course, I think it’s much more malignant than that, but I’m not in the mood to argue with people about it. As long as they’re not arguing for the complete reopening of everything, I don’t really care. Even they know this is serious and requires a lot more than two or three weeks of our new normal.
In general, people are being *good*, and that’s about the best thing I’ve been able to say about humanity in about five years.
Front Page of Idaho Statesman, 3/27/20
Of course, there is the not so good. Starting the week before an isolation order was issued for our county, people started hoarding food and other necessities, just like every other place.
I went to the market in the beginning of the month and the toilet paper aisle was empty and other food staples were gone. This wasn’t a problem for me, I thought.
If I ran out of toilet paper, I have back up because I can “borrow” some from the hotel. And once a month I drive 90 miles south to the nearest WinCo to buy groceries because money goes a lot further there than it does here, and I had already taken that trip for this month.
Well, that was not to be.
In the week before our first confirmed cases, all of the guests at the hotel left with all the toilet paper.
You know how when you stay at a hotel there is a roll ready to go plus one or two back up rolls just in case? Yeah. The guests took ALL the rolls with them when they left. Plus all the tissues and back up box of tissues. Even in the public restrooms, everything was taken.
Front page of Idaho Mountain Express, 3/27/20
So even if the hotel had wanted to stay open, we would have had to shut down because we didn’t have any effin’ toilet paper left to restock the rooms.
Still, I was okay because I had toilet paper and after we closed we got our shipment from the paper supply company. So for about two weeks now, I’ve been having to steal TP from the hotel, and I’m not the only one. We have several people who also live on site and they’re clearly hitting the supply room as well.
No hard feelings, obviously. It’s been impossible to come across toilet paper honestly for three weeks now.
Yesterday, however, I had to go to the store and was shocked to find the smallest amount of toilet paper AND hand soap in stock. I did the responsible thing and bought only what I needed. One bottle of soap, one six pack of toilet paper (and maybe a six pack of beer, but whatever).
I was shocked to find there were only three other cars in the parking lot, since for the last few weeks it’s been around the block parking. The store was pretty quiet, the employees noticeably less stressed than they had been in previous weeks. I told them I wanted to cry when I saw toilet paper and soap available. They said I came at the right time, as they’d just gotten one shipment in and most people have finally laid off the panic buying.
One of the women told me she lives in a town about sixty miles from here and the same pack of toilet paper I bought, she was charged $24.99 for at her local store. Yes, that is price gouging, and yes, it’s wrong. But she has kids at home and travels an hour each way to work, so what’s she gonna do about it? (I am reporting that store to the authorities, thank you very much.)
TL;DR, things are very weird here.
More empty street pr0n
The empty streets truly feel apocalyptic- even during slack the streets are filled with people walking about. Finding parking has always been a source of stress but now, every street and lot is open.
I normally walk everywhere because everything is within walking distance, but I am driving more than usual. Not because it’s easy to park, but because I *DO* worry a lot about unrelated injuries.
The speed limit through town is 20-25 mph. If I get in a wreck at that speed it’ll be survivable. If I am a pedestrian and get hit by a car at the same speed it would also be survivable (unfortunately, I have experience with this), but not if I can’t get care quickly, and right now I can’t get care quickly.
Someone did a hit and run on our parked car last week. The damage isn’t awful, but it’s bad enough that we’ll meet our deductible to repair it. We called the non emergency police dispatch when it happened and just yesterday a deputy showed up to file a report.
I know that it probably sounds incredibly privileged for people from other areas that I expect police, fire, and EMT services to be available within minutes, but this is still a small town and that’s just how it’s always been. I’ve never called 911, but have had to call non-emergency for small things several times and they’re always here within an hour, often much less.
One last weird thing and then I’ll wrap this up.
Usually when I tell people I live in Ketchum, there’s an eyeroll and assumption that I must be hoity toity. People not from here think that everyone who lives here is wealthy and pampered. While that is certainly true for a lot residents like Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, John Kerry, etc, it’s just not true for MOST residents. This is a service sector economy. It’s fueled by wait staff, grocery store clerks, ski lift attendants, hotel clerks and housekeepers, bartenders, etc.
This is a town where even married couples have roommates because there’s no other way to cover the rent, and like me, many of us take the ninety mile drive to the nearest WinCo because everything is too expensive here.
But people not from here don’t see that, they see the wealth and celebrities, the mansions along the river, and just assume only wealthy people live here so even if I’m on the phone, the eyeroll is audible.
In the last couple of weeks, that eyeroll has turned to a sympathetic gasp. As I’ve called my bank, car loan company, storage company, etc, I just have to say the magic words “I’m in Blaine County” and instead of an eyeroll, I get “Oh my gosh, we’re here to help.”
The payment deferments are nice! But I’d rather everyone in the state take this virus as seriously as Blaine County does.
Because we don’t have borders. The wages here are higher than anywhere else in the state so people will commute hours every day for a job that would be minimum wage anywhere else.
But the rest of the state seems to think this is our problem alone.
They don’t yet understand that we’re just the beginning.
COVID-19 threatens to rip apart Southern states in a way that isn't happening anywhere else
On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp finally issued a stay-at-home order for his state after resisting it for weeks. Kemp’s stated reason was one part amusing, three parts terrifying: he claimed that he had just learned that some people with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, a fact that has been clear since January. Meanwhile, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has still not provided any statewide guidance, leaving such decisions to cities and counties. The same thing applies in Alabama, where Republican Gov. Kay Ivey sniffed that her state is “not California” and declared that she’s not ready to take an action that might hurt the economy. In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has left even state legislators and Republican officials frustrated by his unwillingness to do more than issue recommendations without any force of law. And Arkansas now enjoys a position that may be unique in the nation: Not only has Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to set any level of suppression across the state, but there are also no city or county stay-at-home orders. Arkansas is open for business. And virus transmission.
But it’s not just the failure of red-state Republicans that is putting the Southern states in the crosshairs for the next wave of novel coronavirus infections. Everything from Fox News to Walmart is aligned against these states … and it’s all going to bring a horrific cost.
On Thursday, The New York Times published a set of maps to show where Americans are really turning the idea of “social distancing” into a reduction in travel. The first of these maps shows that there are counties even within states in the West and Midwest where stay-at-home orders haven’t been all that effective when it comes to reducing miles traveled. But then again, those are rural counties. When people are ordered to stay at home except for vital services, like food, and the longest trips people make are already the weekly jaunt to a grocery store that may be 30 miles away, it’s not surprising that the distance traveled hasn’t been all that greatly reduced. In some of the most rural western counties, the distances recorded may even be people moving around their own properties when it comes to those involved in agriculture.
But the second map in the Times set paints a blood-red swatch across the South, not in terms of their vote, but in terms of how far people are traveling on a raw miles basis. In much of the nation, even in the most rural portions of the North and West, the average distance traveled is less than two miles a day. In other counties, the distance traveled has fallen below two miles as social distancing has been implemented. But in most of the South—and not just the rural South—the average distance traveled is still above two miles. Americans in the South are getting out, getting in their cars, and traveling miles. Every day.
New York Times map showing where people are continuing to travel over two miles.
There are a number of reasons that this is happening. First, the areas in red correspond fairly well to areas where a stay-at-home order has only recently gone into effect, or where there is still no statewide order. There are even states on this map, such as Florida, where at first glance the red “travel counties” do seem to align with the more Republican areas of the state.
It is certainly not hard to find a resemblance between the areas that are red on the Times map and those that are the same color on the 2016 presidential map, especially when counties in stay-at-home states are trimmed away.
But there’s another reason that the red states are also “red states” when it comes to their travel distance. As former Obama White House official Christopher Hale points out, these maps correspond closely to areas that are “food deserts,” where the nearest grocery story requires making an extended trip. “Food deserts” is a term that is often applied to urban neighborhoods where good nutrition is outside of walking range, but these are counties where it takes an extended auto trip to find any kind of nutrition, even bad nutrition. Why? The simple answer is Walmart. These areas represent locations where big box retailers like Walmart have annihilated local grocers, and where the quest for an apple or a box of Pop-Tarts means crossing the county to a store that also sells tires, televisions, and potting soil.
It’s also not at all coincidental that the states with the most Fox News viewers are those likely to have Republican governors, and those least likely to have stay-at-home orders, and those most likely to live in food deserts. It’s all of a piece: poor, rural, conservative, and forced to travel even in the midst of a pandemic because that’s the system they’ve been left with.
And that’s just the start of it. As The Atlantic makes clear, COVID-19 may have so far caused the greatest damage in the Northeast, but it’s unlikely to stay that way. Already, about a tenth of all deaths have come from the Gulf Coast states, and those states are still racing up the ramp of infection, even as states that have been under strict social distancing for days or weeks are beginning to bend the curve on local cases. The South, both cities and rural areas, looks set to be the next epicenter of the outbreak in America. But in the South, there’s a whole new face on the death and destruction—a younger face.
“The numbers emerging seem to indicate that more young people in the South are dying from COVID-19. Although the majority of coronavirus-related deaths in Louisiana are still among victims over 70 years old, 43 percent of all reported deaths have been people under 70. In Georgia, people under 70 make up 49 percent of reported deaths. By comparison, people under 70 account for only 20 percent of deaths in Colorado.”
If “under 70” doesn’t sound that young, what the numbers show is that Southerners from 40 to 60 are more than twice as likely to die, so far, than people of the same age in other parts of the nation. The prevalence of younger people in the death count isn’t just unique in the United States—it’s unique in the world.
Working against existing health studies of the region, the Atlantic article relies on a Kaiser Family Foundation study for a sense of why the U.S. Southern states are such an outlier. The answer appears to be underlying conditions, such as diabetes and heart issues, that put more people at risk. That issue is likely also connected to the Walmart-created food deserts where local produce is less available than drive-thru burgers and home-delivered pizza. The Kaiser study includes its own set of maps that have an eerie overlap with those of the Times article—in other words, the areas where people are most vulnerable are the same areas where people are, by choice and by force, engaged in the worst practices.
The combination is setting the South up for a disaster beyond imagining, and it’s one that won’t be neatly limited to those who partied on the beach or those who nod along when Rush Limbaugh calls COVID-19 “ordinary flu.” It’s going to be a multistate, cross-generational slaughter that affects the region for decades to come.
But it can still be made better if people get good advice, accurate information, and government action now.
Damn, Augusta in the fall sounds pretty
The Masters with a bunch of dormant landscaping is just another golf tournament.
It's more than plausible. There are hundreds of deaths not being recorded because they're not posthumously testing for COVID
this doesnt seem right. i work in the industry and 80% of the money made on a flight are made on passengers last 20% cargo. A narrow body flight doesnt hold a lot of cargo, so unless its a wide body plane (mostly used for longhaul) they wont have much room for cargo.
Maybe the procentages have changed a little, but id say most planes with 10
passengers arent great business.
Imagine taking this stance and complaining about November golf right now
I bet they bring in ten billion mums
We have contained this. I don’t want to say air tight, but pretty close
two confirmed cases in oncology at the hospital my gf is having treatment at very reassuring stuff
i am going to make a drink
Chase it with Lysol
Sorry to hear that man. Stay strong
Hospitals have 15 minute tests. The issue is the labs are so backed up they can't get through all the testing. Hospitals then move the patients to a "rule out" status while they await their results. I'm sure there are plenty of people dying while awaiting results, which then in turn doesn't get reported as a COVID death. (just guessing on the last part as I don't know how the reporting is actual done)
This from 2013 so it might have changed a bit so take it for what its worth.
“For North American airlines, the share of cargo in operating revenue is usually less than 5%. The main reason is that many airlines are mostly focusing on domestic services. Comparatively, European, Asian and Latin American airlines have a higher share of cargo revenue, in part because they are more focusing on long-distance services that are more prone to include cargo.”
Business travel. Most of my company is still traveling to job sites. I would have to but my construction doesn’t start until mid-May
they’re giving people 10% premium pay on days they’re traveling
Not complaining. It's just typically the absolute perfect tournament based on the time it happens every year. And it's still an eye opener each time something gets postponed indefinitely regardless of the fact that there's no sports right now.
Where's this from?
Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi are going to get wrecked. The amount of people in poor health in those states regardless of age are going to be absolutely decimated.
Idk donny probably because we are in a global pandemic and we should be social distancing
I just caught myself waving at a chipmunk
did it wave back
Nope, just stared at me
the hardest part about running a pro-Biden/anti-trump super pac this fall will be sorting through the incredible amount of material trump gives you to attack him with to choose what you want on your commercials and other advertisements.
I’m watching outbreak and at least corona isn’t nearly as bad as mutaba
I think he is giving him more credit than he deserves by calling him an economist.
What a prick
I’d begin with trump sucks at healthcare. SS and Medicare cuts, limiting SNAP and Medicaid. And oh ya this whole pandemic cluster fuck.
if we are at war it would be a lot different as the Captain said himself. We aren’t though. The captain tanked his own highly successful career to save lives. Many would have gotten it and some likely would have died.
It always shocks me how the party who proclaims themselves the pro-military party can treat our military personnel like such absolute trash.
I will preface this with several things, 1) I am pro-Crozier on this whole thing, 2) the Secretary of the Navy never should have said that in public.
That being said, the statement is correct. If Crozier truly didn’t believe it would get leaked (which I think was his definite intention), then he probably shouldn’t be Captaining a carrier in the US Navy.
Azaleas bloom in spring and fall, the Bermuda grass will not be dormant.
Augusta may not look quite as fantastic as it does now, but it will still be the most beautiful course you will see on television
If you watched the John Oliver video, one of those idiots on OAN ends every show with even when I'm wrong I'm right.
I just accused a chestnut of being lazy.
That graphic told us a lot whole lot, planes may be flying empty but they are doing so because the way the US is handling the economic side of this pandemic is ridiculous and leads to stupid decisions like what’s shown in that graphic.