The Midwest is about to erupt; Asian countries that seemed under control are seeing spikes in infections and are returning to isolation; and Trump and Kushner lie and twiddle their thumbs. This is not looking good at all.
Before we review the ever bleaker prognosis, an utterly predictable report from the gas and oil industry and a repeat announcement encouraging you to contribute to the Navajo & Hopi COVID-19 Relief Fund. First, this shared by one of our readers, Cristy Holden:
Whiting Petroleum Becomes the First Petroleum Company To Go Bankrupt, A Day AFTER Handing Out Millions in Exec Bonuses—Gotta Love Capitalism
Whiting Petroleum Corporation has become the first oil and gas sector casualty of the current slump in crude demand caused by the dual gut punch of the Covid-19 pandemic and the price war between producers triggered by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Crude oil had plummeted from a high of just over $60/barrel to $20/barrel before staging a rally yesterday, boosting the price to just under $29/barrel. Too little and too late for Whiting.
Over the last three months through Tuesday (March 31), the company’s stock had shed 91% of its value. A fracking company, Whiting operates in several states including N.M. The day prior to their bankruptcy announcement its board first acknowledged its inability to pay its debts, and then voted to give top executives a $14.6M “bonus” for their leadership. Their press release acknowledged that obligations to their buyers will be honored and no immediate plans for layoffs were mentioned. Yet.
So, you can’t pay your debts, you’ve lost over 90% of your company’s value, and you were led to that position by an executive team that, as a reward for their leadership, will get $14.6 M in bonuses. One of those execs receiving $2.2 M had been with Whiting for only eight months. This is how the corporatocracy works. The rich get richer and the rest, well, we fend for ourselves.
Navajo & Hopi Nations Beset By Spiking COVID-19…. Grassroots volunteer effort launched
It’s time for those with resources to show generosity. If you have the means, please make a contribution to the Navajo & Hopi Go Fund Me campaign below. And please share this information with others you know who might be able to contribute.
For details on the virus running rampant in Navajo and Hopi Nations, click here to read yesterday’s post which provided extensive details and placed the outbreak in historic perspective.
The Coronavirus Plot Thickens
“I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.”Jared Kushner
Alert to Donald Trump: This is not some kind of board game of Risk where the family gathers and pretends they are moving pieces around in real world conflicts. You can’t just put your utterly inept son-in-law in a role that has life or death consequences for millions of Americans. Jared Kushner, “doing my own projections”… “I’ve gotten a lot smarter”… ok, maybe if you are suddenly so smart you should unplug your computer and listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci who has decades of education and experience working with these kinds of numbers and actually doesn’t need to get “a lot smarter.” Do your stupid “projections” about the availability of ventilators incorporate the desperate pleas from Governor Cuomo and one NY hospital administrator after another?
Let’s start with some facts: Despite the President’s pronouncements, we do not have enough respirators, PPE, or testing kits, and we are not nearing containment of the virus, we are not doing a good job. Let’s look first at Louisiana, then New York, New Jersey, and California.
“That is the single largest, I should say, most pressing issue when it comes to surging our capacity. These ventilators are very hard to come by. But we did distribute 100 today to the region. But we actually need at least 1,000. So we have got a long way to go.”Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards
“Officials from New York began to warn that the health system was nearing its capacity to handle the waves of patients, with possibly just days until it reaches the limits of ventilators and hospital beds. New Jersey, which has the second-highest rate of infections and is tracking New York’s pace, is trying to get ahead of the curve and avoid the dire fate of its neighbor. New York and its suburbs have the nation’s most intense concentrations of infection and leaders have been vocal for weeks about their need for equipment. Doctors, nurses and paramedics have been entering wards in improvised gear, including garbage bags and rain ponchos.”Bloomberg News: “New York, New Jersey Seize Ventilators Before Pandemic Crests”
Ponchos and garbage bags are not Personal Protective Equipment and in California, just days ago the federal government sent California 170 ventilators. They were all broken. As California nears the virus peak, they are woefully short of ventilators. Donald Trump seems to believe that if you say something often enough, it just becomes true.
“Citing reports that Ford and GE Healthcare plan would produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days, Mr. Trump said 10 American companies were quickly increasing ventilator production. ‘As we outpace what we need, we’re going to be sending them to Italy, we’re going to be sending them to France, we’re going to be sending them to Spain, where they have tremendous problems, and other countries as we can,’ he said.”NY Times: “As Governors Plead for Tests, Trump Promises Ventilators to Europe”
100 days! New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, are California are out of ventilators now or are sharing them with two patients, against all medical precedent, and he pronounces ventilators promised in 100 days as a victory and then crows that we will have a glut of respirators. The same delusions typify his characterization of the situation with testing kits.
“President Trump told governors on a conference call Monday [March 30] that he “hasn’t heard about testing in weeks,” suggesting that a chronic lack of kits to test people for the coronavirus is no longer a problem. … “Literally we are one day away, if we don’t get test kits from the C.D.C., that we wouldn’t be able to do testing in Montana,” Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, a Democrat, said, according to an audio recording of the conversation obtained by The New York Times.”NY Times: “As Governors Plead for Tests, Trump Promises Ventilators to Europe”
So, we do not have enough ventilators, PPE, and testing kits, but that isn’t the only delusion under which the administration is operating.
We are not two or three weeks away from being able to ease restrictions. The coronavirus is about to explode in the midwest, south, and farm belt.
Coaxed and reassured by a clueless president that their numbers look good, almost a dozen midwest and farmbelt states are not sheltering in place, practicing social distancing, or doing anything to help contain the spread of coronavirus. And that promises to result in an explosive 4th wave of the epidemic in the US. As reported in CNN:
“It is now clear that the epidemic has found a foothold not just in coastal cities, but also in mid-sized cities and towns across the country. Albany, a town in the western part of Georgia, near nothing in particular, was the first to gain attention as the epidemic appeared, possibly spread by people at a funeral. To date, 462 people have been diagnosed in Dougherty County, where Albany is situated, and 18 have died. The outbreak there revealed a likely problem for the next wave of affected areas. Unlike the large cities — Seattle and New York City among them — Albany has just one hospital network.”CNN: “What happens in the 4th wave of the pandemic?”
This same scenario is playing out across the country and our country has no one to blame but Donald Trump. In the next few weeks, towns like Albany, Georgia will explode with cases and with limited and poorly equipped health facilities. Suddenly Donald won’t be trying to rescue voters in blue states, but his own constituents, people living in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, and Tennessee. Not only that, with their utter absence of restraints and their ignoring recommendations not to travel, they likely will have reseeded the virus in countless urban communities just getting over the first brutal wave.
And even in countries that have done everything right, a new wave of the virus is erupting….
“Vietnam has banned public gatherings of more than two people. Hong Kong has closed nightclubs, karaoke bars and mah-jongg parlors, and deployed health inspectors to check that restaurants are seating parties at least 6 feet apart. Singapore has warned that anyone standing within 3 feet of another person in line could face up to six months in jail.
Suddenly, Asian governments that appeared to be bringing the coronavirus under control are imposing new social restrictions as the numbers of infections — many from overseas — continue to rise.”The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Asian countries impose new restrictions as coronavirus infections come roaring back”
And so, even countries that did everything right from the first signs of the virus, are now seeing a resurfacing of the virus. We have not been doing everything right and Trump continues to try to bolster the American spirit with false pronouncements and predictions of churches full on Easter or now with another two weeks of isolation, we will get the upper hand.
This is not just incompetence; this is criminal negligence. Trump’s persistent downplaying of the seriousness of this pandemic, and his unsubstantiated rosy pronouncements about how well he is doing in addressing the virus and when it will end, has provided non-stop fodder for Fox News who reports his comments as if they were the Gospel. And people believe it and so they flock to churches, beaches, and malls spreading the virus over and over.
And now let’s close with the most depressing facts of all
Donald Trump has botched the response to the coronavirus in almost every possible way—and yet his approval rating just hit its highest point ever.
Consistent majorities say they approve of his handling of the pandemic, and he’s now leading in head-to-head polls in key battleground states like Florida.
What do we do?
I wish the path forward were clear. With shelter in place restricting canvassing and other campaign activities, there are limited opportunities to generate public debate and consistent rebuttals to Trump and his cronies. Meanwhile Trump has the media awaiting his every word at highly uncritical daily press conferences.
So, I pose a few questions to you: What do we do? Staying alive by sheltering in place is obviously the most important priority, but how do we use our time at home to mount anything like a defense against this monstrous misinformation campaign and the impact it could have on the November election? Over the past 2-3 weeks Retake has published numerous posts about what new economic, health, political systems could look like. But given our constrained circumstances, our isolation, our inability to meet one-on-one or in groups, how do we foster those ideas and ensure that in November we have newly elected leadership willing and able to adopt elements of those systems?
Paul & Roxanne