Patterico's Pontifications

3/23/2020

BREAKING: All California Trials on Hold for 60 Days

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:37 pm



Wow.

Criminal and civil trials were discontinued in California for at least two months after a sweeping order was issued late Monday by the state’s chief justice that aims to sharply cut down public traffic in state courthouses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said in her order that court facilities were “ill-equipped to effectively allow the social distancing and other public health requirements” that have been imposed across California to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Even if court facilities could allow for sufficient social distancing, the closure of schools means that many court employees, litigants, witnesses, and potential jurors cannot leave their homes to attend court proceedings because they must stay home to supervise their children,” Cantil-Sakauye said in the order.

The 60-day delay — which puts the courts in California’s 58 counties on a uniform trial delay schedule — came the same day that the presiding judge of Los Angeles Superior Court, Kevin C. Brazile, blocked public access to county courthouses except for attorneys, staff, defendants and “authorized persons,” a vague category that includes news reporters.

This is a big deal.

Report: How U.S. Was Hampered By Missteps In Coronavirus Response

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:55 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Jim Geraghty considers the feeling of powerlessness that comes as a result of other’s bad decision-making:

Today’s Morning Jolt is a timeline that goes from the onset of symptoms of the first recorded coronavirus patient in Wuhan on December 1, to January 24, when the CDC confirmed the second case in the United States. In that interim, just about any chance to contain this virus was lost; everything after that was and is crisis management.

A clear-eyed look at the known facts around the coronavirus reveals a sequence of events and decisions that compounded error, denial, willful ignorance, coverup, and lies.

This is similar to the events leading up to other major catastrophes in history…You rarely see just one error that caused it. It’s usually a sequence of mistakes and bad decisions cascading and compounding the consequences, like a line of dominoes falling.

Life can be so unjust and randomly cruel sometimes that most of us prefer not to think about it. When something terrible or tragic happens, some people will try to find some way to explain how the victim’s actions or decisions led to the terrible event, and that as awful as it was, most of us don’t need to worry about that happening, because we make different decisions.

Good decision-making can lessen the chances that sudden tragedy will afflict our lives, but it cannot eliminate it…

With that, the AP has a report on the testing blunders that severely impacted US response to the virus as it spread:

A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.

President Donald Trump assured Americans early this month that the COVID-19 test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “perfect” and that “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” But more than two months after the first U.S. case of the new disease was confirmed, many people still cannot get tested.

Four primary reasons for the delay were given that stymied the US response to the outbreak:

The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC, has begun an internal review to assess its own mistakes. But outside observers and federal health officials have pointed to four primary issues that together hampered the national response — the early decision not to use the test adopted by the World Health Organization, flaws with the more complex test developed by the CDC, government guidelines restricting who could be tested and delays in engaging the private sector to ramp up testing capacity.

Combined with messaging from the White House minimizing the disease, that fueled a lackluster response that missed chances to slow the spread of the virus, they said.

“There were many, many opportunities not to end up where we are,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard, told the AP. “Basically, they took this as business as usual. … And that’s because the messaging from the White House was ‘this is not a big deal, this is no worse than the flu.’ So that message basically created no sense of urgency within the FDA or the CDC to fix it.”

Read the whole report.

–Dana

Negotiations To Continue On Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:23 am



[guest post by Dana]

Unsurprising. Via Axios:

A procedural vote on Senate Republicans’ $1.8 trillion Phase 3 stimulus package failed on Monday for the second time in less than 24 hours.

The big picture: Patience is wearing thin on Capitol Hill as talks over providing desperately needed aid to Americans and businesses continue to stall.

Republican senators, many of whom have been more frustrated in the last 24 hours…are accusing Democrats of playing politics during a national crisis.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to argue that the Senate GOP’s legislation is a corporate slush fund that doesn’t do enough to help American workers. This has driven House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to draft her own version of a Phase 3 bill.

Weighing in:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “I’d like to see Senate Democrats tell small business employees in their states who are literally being laid off every day that they’re filibustering relief that will keep people on the payroll because Democrats’ special interest friends want to squeeze employers while they’re vulnerable.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “The bottom line is very simple. We are fighting for a better bill, because this bill will have an effect for a very long time.”

Pelosi: “The Senate Republicans’ bill, as presented, put corporations first, not workers and families. Today, House Democrats will unveil a bill that takes responsibility for the health, wages and well-being of America’s workers: the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.”

We are in the best of hands.

PS: Politicians not being helpeful:

PPS: Surprising headlines from the New York Times and The Washington Post:

nyt

wapo

wapo2

–Dana

“15 Days” Is Not Enough to Slow the Spread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am



I’ve been saying this for a while here: the need for social distancing is not going away any time soon. As I said ten days ago: “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.” We will not have a vaccine for 12-18 months. Until then, it is dangerous to be around elderly people and people with a wide range of conditions that make them more vulnerable to the pneumonia that can result from COVID-19. I have been worried that the attitude that we can get past this in two weeks (“15 Days to Slow the Spread”), or two months, could cause frustration, and an unwillingness to continue, with social distancing.

What I should have worried about, specifically — but did not, until today — is that this attitude might be adopted by President Donald J. Trump.

There is no way Anthony Fauci is signing onto the notion that everything will be fine 15 days from the date that Trump declared “15 Days to Slow the Spread.” (The clock was set a week ago, so that gives us eight more days to slow the spread.) What we’re likely to see, then — and what Axios is reporting — is that we may be headed for a confrontation between the public health experts and the politicians:

President Trump and some of his senior officials are losing patience with the doctors’ orders.

The state of play: Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there’s light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won’t be endless.

  • Trump tweeted at 10 minutes to midnight: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD [which began a week ago, March 16], WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
  • Vice President Pence, who heads the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, had signaled the change in tone earlier when he said the CDC will issue guidance today allowing people exposed to the coronavirus to return to work sooner by wearing a mask for a certain length of time.

Why it matters: Taken together, Trump’s tweet and Pence’s comment supply the strongest public signals we’ve seen that the administration is looking for ways to get people out in the world again to fire up the economy — perhaps much sooner than Dr. Fauci would like.

At that point, the issue will be re-politicized, with the Trumpy right once again declaring the coronavirus no big deal, and the left (and Big Media) playing up the very bad news that is likely to come.

One might think: but what if the horror stories many are anticipating come true before the 15 days is up? My worry? That is going to happen … and will all be dismissed as (say it with me): Fake News!

Also, as horror stories from hospitals start to pile up this week, Trump himself could start to suggest it means social distancing is not working. As opposed to the truth: it’s working, but not well enough to prevent what is happening — in part because of Trump’s “what, me worry?” attitude about the virus during a critical time when decisive action could have saved lives.

I should add, as an aside, that I too am concerned about the impact all of these shutdowns is already having on the economy. As Thomas Sowell always observed, everything is a trade-off. Here, we’re not just trading money against lives. The devastating economic impact (and in my view likely depression) caused by these measures will cause genuine pain and will likely cost lives of its own. If we had a rational policymaker in office rather than an overgrown septuagenarian toddler, I would not begrudge that person’s taking the economic impact on our country into account. But you know what? Hundreds of thousands of people dying will have an economic impact too, if that happens (and God willing, it won’t) (but I think it will). So even if all you care about is the economy, I still think the trade-offs favor social distancing for the foreseeable future. As long as it takes to prevent our hospitals from being overrun. But I don’t trust Trump to be the one to make that calcuation.

But as long as we have Dr. Fauci around, he’ll put a stop to it if he thinks we’re letting up too early, right? This leads to another horrific scenario to contemplate: what if Trump fires Fauci? After all, Trump can’t like some of the press he’s seeing from Fauci. I’m sure you saw Fauci’s reaction at the press conference where Trump called the State Department the “Deep State Department”:

That’s been played about 5,000,000 times since it happened, and you know Trump has watched the clip and seethed. Then there’s this interview Fauci gave to ScienceMag.org:

Q: You stood nearby while President Trump was in the Rose Garden shaking hands with people. You’re a doctor. You must have had a reaction like, ‘Sir, please don’t do that.’

A: Yes, I say that to the task force. I say that to the staff. We should not be doing that. Not only that—we should be physically separating a bit more on those press conferences. To his credit, the vice president [Mike Pence] is really pushing for physical separation of the task force [during meetings]. He keeps people out of the room—as soon as the room gets like more than 10 people or so, it’s, ‘Out, everybody else out, go to a different room.’ So with regard to the task force, the vice president is really a bear in making sure that we don’t crowd 30 people into the Situation Room, which is always crowded. So, he’s definitely adhering to that. The situation on stage [for the press briefings] is a bit more problematic. I keep saying, ‘Is there any way we can get a virtual press conference?’ Thus far, no. But when you’re dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens. So, I’m going to keep pushing.

Q: You’re standing there saying nobody should gather with more than 10 people and there are almost 10 people with you on the stage. And there are certainly more than 10 journalists there asking questions.

A: I know that. I’m trying my best. I cannot do the impossible.

Trump does not like this kind of criticism. If it comes to a head and Trump decides his vision of what is good for the country differs from that of Dr. Fauci, administration sharks on the “let’s go back to work” side of the argument will continually put clips and quotes like the ones above in Trump’s face, knowing that will undermine Fauci more than any policy argument possibly could. Because — say this one with me too! — Donald Trump cares more about himself than he cares about our country. It’s true today, it has always been true in the past, and it will always be true in the future, until the day he dies.

And it’s not crazy to think something that petty could cost Dr. Fauci his job. There’s precedent for it.

The hopeful part is here:

Q: How are you managing to not get fired?

A: Well, that’s pretty interesting because to his [Trump’s] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens. He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.

I hope he continues to. I worry he will not.

P.S. Speaking of Trump caring more about himself than anything in the world, I leave you with this clip, which I assume you’ve seen already. It’s Trump sarcastically gloating about Mitt Romney being in isolation and possibly having the coronavirus, and then transparently denying that he was being sarcastic when he said “GEE. That’s too bad.” I am hoping anyone who thinks this clip was funny will come out and say so, because I will ban you instantly and never look back.


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