Patterico's Pontifications

3/13/2020

Trump: Maybe I’ll Get Tested For Coronavirus, Maybe I Won’t…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:25 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Last weekend, President Trump hosted guests at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. One of those guests, the press secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was also a guest at the estate, tested positive for the coronavirus:

Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, posed for a picture with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Bolsonaro at Trump’s Florida resort over the weekend that he posted on Instagram. The press office at Brazil’s presidential palace confirmed to NBC News Thursday that Wajngarten had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Today, President Bolsonaro announced that his own test for coronavirus came back negative.

President Trump’s press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, responded to questions about the president’s decision to not be tested, in spite of his close proximity to Wajngarten:

“Both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time,” Grisham said. “To reiterate CDC guidelines, there is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine.”

It should be noted that Trump also chose not to self-quarantine.

Sen. Lindsay Graham who had also been in attendance at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, opted to follow his doctor’s advice and self-quarantine until he was notified of the results of his coronavirus test. He stated that he was doing this “out of an abundance of caution”.

Sen. Rick Scott, who met with Bolsonaro on Monday, also opted to self-quarantine, saying:

[T]he health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution[.]

And today we learned that Miami mayor Francis Suarez, who met with Wajngarten last weekend, has also tested positive for coronavirus.

Trump offered this explanation for not being tested or self-quarantining after being in close proximity to the Brazilian press secretary:

“I feel extremely good, I feel very good. But I guess it’s not a big deal to get tested, and it’s something I would do. But, again, I spoke to the White House doctor — terrific guy, talented guy — he said he sees no reason to do it, there’s no symptoms, no anything,” he said at the time.

Note:

Over the weekend, Trump also came into contact with two Republican congressmen — Reps. Doug Collins of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida — prior to their decisions to self-quarantine after being exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. Neither has reported having any symptoms.

At a press conference this afternoon, Trump said he “might” get tested for the virus, days after having come in contact with press secretary Wajngarten, as well as shaking hands with the CEO’s attending today’s Rose Garden announcement. He explained:

“We have a White House doctor — I should say many White House doctors,” said Trump. “I asked them that same question, and they said, ‘You don’t have any symptoms whatsoever.’ And we don’t want people without symptoms to go and do the test. The test is not insignificant.”

But when he was pressed about his contact with the Brazilian staffer, Trump said, “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested.” Asked if he would be, he said, “Most likely. Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway. Fairly soon. We’re working out a schedule.”

A schedule???

And then there is this: It is now being reported that a second person with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago last weekend has also tested positive for coronavirus:

A second person who was at Mar-a-Lago with President Donald Trump last weekend has tested positive for coronavirus.

That’s according to a Republican official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters.

The person attended a fundraiser at the president’s Florida resort.Trump also spent time last weekend with a Brazilian official who tested positive just days later.

“Abundance of caution” means nothing to Trump. Yet as the leader of the nation, shouldn’t it? If we are being directed to self-quarantine “out of an abundance of caution,” shouldn’t he do likewise – even if to set an example? Certainly he could run the government from just about anywhere for two weeks. Further, although he is not showing symptoms, and his doctor has said that there is no reason for him to be tested, I wonder what his doctor said about whether it would be in everyone’s best interest that he self-quarantine for two weeks?

–Dana

President Trump Declares National Emergency Over Coronavirus

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:31 pm



[guest post by Dana]

As you know, President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus today. Here are the highlights:

*FEMA will be able to access billions of dollars, which will in turn, help quicken the response to the virus at state and county levels.

*Interest on federal student loans will be waived until further notice.

*Trump said administration is working to “dramatically” increase the availability of testing across the country.

*Trump explained that they have formed a “new partnership with the private sector to vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the coronavirus. “We want people to take a test quickly if they need. But we don’t want people to take the test if we feel they shouldn’t be doing it.”

*Trump said the declaration would allow “HHS Secretary Alexander Azar to waive “provisions of applicable laws and regulations” to give medical professionals and hospitals the “flexibility” to care for all patients.”

*Trump said that “Azar will have the ability to enable “telehealth” for remote doctor visits and hospital check-ins, and the ability to waive hospital stay limits, as well as obtain additional office and hospital space.:

*Trump said they have “partnered with pharmacies and retailers to make drive-through tests available in “critical locations” identified by public health professionals. Google is working on getting a website up and running to implement the drive-through testing.

And because he can’t resist, and because he believes himself second to none, Trump also took a swipe at Obama:

Trump was asked about the H1N1 pandemic–which former President Barack Obama declared a national emergency over in 2009.

“It was nothing like this and they actually lost approximately 14,000 people,” Trump said, slamming the Obama administration for thinking about testing “far too late.”

“We’ve done it very early and we’ve also kept a lot of people out,” Trump said.

In response to a question, reminding Trump that the past administration had tested “1 million people,” he replied: “They had a very big failure with swine flu. Very big failure.”

[Ed. I’ll have a post up in a little while about how President Trump is still refusing to be tested for the coronavirus, in spite of having been in direct contact with now-infected individuals. It deserves its own post...]

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Ragspierre, we now know that, contrary to what Trump said…:

Google is not working with the US government in building a nationwide website to help people determine whether and how to get a novel coronavirus test, despite what President Donald Trump said in the course of issuing an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, a much smaller trial website made by another division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is going up. It will only be able to direct people to testing facilities in the Bay Area.

More than an hour after Trump’s press conference, a Google communications Twitter account passed along the following statement from Verily, which is a different company inside the Alphabet corporate umbrella…

Carolyn Wang, communications lead for Verily, told The Verge that the “triage website” was initially only going to be made available to health care workers instead of the general public. Now that it has been announced the way it was, however, anybody will be able to visit it, she said. But the tool will only be able to direct people to “pilot sites” for testing in the Bay Area, though Wang says Verily hopes to expand it beyond California “over time.”

SMDH. He continues to show a remarkable inability to be truthful and accurate.

–Dana

Sure, Cancel Everything: But for How Long?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 am



So. Whatever you were hoping to do in the next couple of weeks or months has been canceled. Three or four days ago, some organizations and schools were shutting down, and some were not. My daughter’s school (it was UCSB but she transferred to Rice, where she is now) was sending out emails saying (this is a paraphrase) “we’re monitoring the situation but so far so good; we’re telling everyone wash your hands.” I was receiving emails from classical music organizations who have my email, saying (paraphrase) “the show will go on; wash your hands; don’t come sick.”

Then Tom Hanks was diagnosed, the stock market tumbled big, Trump tried to reassure the nation with his speech and did the opposite, and now everything is canceled.

As of yesterday, my daughter is coming home from Rice. My high school son is staying some for the next few weeks; his school has closed. All those classical music concerts are being canceled, including the ones from organizations that sent sanguine emails 3-4 days ago. Every sport you care about is canceled, or soon will be.

Purely as a matter of fighting this disease, this is a good approach — albeit likely weeks too late. (I’m no expert, but I listen to experts, and I do so without a partisan lens.) And fighting this disease is very important. If you haven’t heard the situation in Italy in detail, spend some time at this link reading and, if you have the time, listening to the recorded statements of the doctors there. (The recorded statements are Italian but there are translations and hearing their voices brings it home.) The problem is ventilators. People who get hit with the disease bad need them, but they have run out. One Milan hospital is turning away COVID-19 patients over the age of 60. As one of the doctors puts it: that is very young. Indeed it is. It’s essentially wartime triage, and many people who could easily be saved by a functioning health care system are going to die for lack of care.

Northern Italy has a fine health care system. If it can happen there, it can happen here. Italy took draconian steps but too late. We are starting to take those steps. It may be too late for us too. We’ll probably have a good idea in a month. Maybe much sooner.

So yeah, doing this stuff is necessary. But it comes with costs. As Thomas Sowell says: everything is a trade-off. And so it is with the measures we are taking.

My concern here is threefold: that people don’t realize how long we will be dealing with this virus; that the economic disruption will be harmful too, and already is; and that there will be and is a certain amount of panic.

So many people seem to think this is something we beat back over the next couple of weeks or maybe months, and then it’s back to business as usual. That’s not how it works. I have given these facts but I will give them again: experts are predicting no vaccine for 12-18 months. Reasonable and non-alarmist experts predict a very sizable chunk of the U.S. population — tens of millions of people is too conservative; we’re talking likely over 100 million — will contract the virus in the next year to 18 months, before any vaccine is available. Hundreds of thousands may die — in the United States alone. This is not fear-mongering. This is how it is. This is likely to be ten times worse than the worst flu season, and possibly worse than that. It’s bad, and it won’t be fixed in the next few weeks.

Isn’t China planning to loosen things up? Aren’t they dismantling hospitals? Yes, and experts expect a second outbreak there. Plus, they had a reaction to the virus that was far more proactive than we have here, and frankly is more proactive than any free society can manage or perhaps would want to.

Then there is the economic disruption. Again, I have said all this before — and had at least one commenter tell me to “Breathe in. Breathe out” as if my statements were the result of panic — but again, facts are facts. Air travel is going to suffer a hit probably twice that of 9/11. Hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, you name it — there will be massive bankruptcies and failures and massive government bailouts. The stock market will probably recover, sure — but it could take five years or more.

And then there is the panic. It’s hard to read the above and believe it and not feel a touch panicky, but the hallmarks of true panic are in the air. People who believed Trump when he said he had this contained have been blindsided by the (in my view fairly predictable) mass cancellations of the last couple of days. What happens in such situations? Rumors start. I have it on good authority, from multiple sources, based on their best friend’s brother in the FBI or cousin at CNN, that the CDC or Trump is about send the nation into a panic with a major announcement, or that Trump is going to announce a Chinese-style lockdown in a couple of days. My guess is many of you have heard the same types of things, which may explain the long lines at the Trader Joe’s in NYC and such. The folks passing along these rumors have a good heart and I’m not making fun of them — and of course how I know it’s all false? — but I strongly suspect that this is the kind of set of false rumors that circulates when panic is in the air and people worry that the government doesn’t quite have its shit together.

It goes without saying that Trump’s mismanagement of this crisis, while it may end up having little effect on the result, has been typically horrendous. I now take it for granted that he will be tossed out of office in a landslide for Biden, and that no longer seems like the important thing it seemed to be four weeks ago. Right now the key is to get through this thing.

Luckily I’m an expert on social distancing, so for me this will be a snap.

Keep your head. Don’t panic. Wash your hands.


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