Patterico's Pontifications

4/3/2020

Trump Retaliates Against Another Figure from Impeachment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:03 pm



This time he has fired the Inspector General of the intelligence community who made sure the whistleblower’s complaint made it to Congress.

President Donald Trump has fired Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community Inspector General, who brought forward the whistleblower complaint in light of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine call which led to the impeachment proceedings.

The news comes late Friday night, in a letter obtained by CNN, which states Atkinson is set to be booted in 30 days from his post.

It’s nothing new. Just the same old corruption. How I long for him to be gone already.

I don’t even want to hear from the people who think this is just great. No comments. Have a nice weekend.

UPDATE: University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck:

Amen.

Hopeful: Doctors Use Blood Plasma From Recovered COVID-19 Patients To Help Sick Patients

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:03 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Old method used in new effort to help patients sick with coronavirus:

St. Joseph Hospital in Orange completed its first blood transfer Wednesday from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a patient sick with the disease. It joins a handful of hospitals across the nation experimenting with transferring blood plasma in the hope that antibodies from a recovered patient will attack the virus and help a sick person heal.

Dr. Timothy Byun, who led the transfer, says he believes St. Joseph is the first hospital on the West Coast to try this experimental treatment.

In mid-March, Jason Garcia, a 36-year-old San Diego man, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Just a week ago, he made a full recovery and was released from isolation by San Diego County’s health department.

He posted his triumph on Facebook and that’s when a friend told him that St. Joseph Hospital was looking for a recovered patient’s blood plasma. So on April 1, Garcia drove up to Orange and donated his plasma.

That same day, the plasma was transferred into an intubated patient who’s in the hospital’s intensive care unit, Dr. Byun said.

One plasma donation can be used for three patients. The hospital plans to do the second and third transfers soon.

Background on how the treatment came about:

The very first Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded in 1901 to Emil von Behring for his life-saving work developing a cure for diphtheria, a bacterial infection that was particularly fatal in children. His groundbreaking treatment, known as diphtheria antitoxin, worked by injecting sick patients with antibodies taken from animals who had recovered from the disease.

Von Behring’s antitoxin wasn’t a vaccine, but the earliest example of a treatment method called “convalescent plasma” that’s being resurrected as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is blood plasma extracted from an animal or human patient who has “convalesced” or recovered from infection with a particular disease.

“Convalescent plasma has been used throughout history when confronting an infectious disease where you have people who recover and there’s no other therapy available,” says Warner Greene, director of the Center for HIV Cure Research at the Gladstone Institutes. “There must be something in their plasma—i.e. an antibody—that helped them recover.”

How the treatment, which was also used during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, works:

Convalescent plasma interacts differently with the immune system than a vaccine. When a person is treated with a vaccine, their immune system actively produces its own antibodies that will kill off any future encounters with the target pathogen. That’s called active immunity.

Convalescent plasma offers what’s called “passive immunity.” The body doesn’t create its own antibodies, but instead “borrows” them from another person or animal who has successfully fought off the disease. Unlike a vaccine, the protection doesn’t last a lifetime, but the borrowed antibodies can greatly reduce recovery times and even be the difference-maker between life and death.

“Convalescent plasma is the crudest of the immunotherapies, but it can be effective,” says Greene.

Doctors are stressing that this treatment would not replace a vaccine but would serve as a “stopgap” measure.

According to Dr. Arturo Casadevall, of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore:

In addition to public health containment and mitigation protocols, this may be our only near-term option for treating and preventing COVID-19. And it is something we can start putting into place in the next few weeks and months.

–Dana

Ankle Bracelets Used to Keep Suspected COVID-19 Patients At Home

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:09 pm



[guest post by Dana]

If things continue to worsen, and people continue to flout stay-at-home orders, we can be sure that more states will will move toward these kinds of actions as well:

Officials in Kentucky are using GPS monitors to ensure that people suspected of having COVID-19 remain in self-quarantine. At least four people have been fitted with ankle bracelets after they allegedly defied orders to stay at home.

One individual, identified as D.L. in court documents, was told to stay home for at least a week after a person he was living with had been diagnosed with COVID-19. He refused and left the house on multiple occasions before a judge ordered him to wear an ankle monitor. He was told that he will face criminal charges if he leaves his home during the next two weeks.

Another man who tested positive for the coronavirus went out shopping after he learned of his diagnosis and was ordered to wear the device and told to stay at home. Two other people who live together were also fitted with the GPS devices after they refused to stay at home when one of them tested positive for the virus.

As of Friday (April 3), there have been 770 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, and 31 people have died.

Mayor Greg Fischer said that orders like this are needed to help keep the community safe. Other agencies are supportive of the move:

“The home incarceration program is well-suited for this,” said Amy Hess, the city’s chief of public services, which includes oversight of Metro Corrections and Emergency Services. “It provides us with the proper amount of distancing. We can monitor activity after (the monitoring device) gets affixed to them … to make sure they’re not further affecting the community.

The city has gone to great lengths to deal with a community that appears resistant to following stay-at-home orders:

Not enough Louisvillians are taking pandemic guidelines seriously, Fischer stressed again Tuesday. In addition to closing libraries, community centers, the zoo and even some parks over the past few weeks, he’s instructed police to cut back on the types of calls for service officers respond to.

And, in response to a lack of respect for his orders, he even had basketball rims taken off backboards in parks.

Note: A Metro Corrections officer who was sent to attach ankle monitors following Friday’s isolation order has a 101-degree fever and is being tested for COVID-19

Related:

A Kentucky man has been charged with violating Indiana’s stay-at-home order – a preventative measure to stop the spread of coronavirus – after already facing gun and drug charges, according to Indiana State Police.

Indiana State Police announced Tuesday that the Hamilton County prosecutor added a misdemeanor charge for “disobeying a declaration of disaster emergency” against Zachary Peters, 24 of Crestwood Kentucky. With that, Peters faces six charges, according to Indiana State Police…He initially was charged with cocaine, marijuana, controlled substance and paraphernalia possession and carrying a handgun without a license.

Peters was recorded going 96 mph in a 70 mph zone on Interstate 69 , police said. The Indiana stay-at-home order he was charged with violating took effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

–Dana

Upper West Side Co-op Board Boots Visiting Doctor From Building, In Spite of Being Expert At Intubation

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:08 am



[guest post by Dana]

Answering Gov. Cuomo’s call for medical volunteers from across the nation to go to New York to help save lives during the ongoing nightmare of a coronavirus outbreak, New York born Dr. Richard Levitan left New Hampshire to help at Bellevue Hospital Center, where he once trained. Unable to find an available hotel room, he ended up staying at his brother’s vacant apartment on the upper West Side. When word got out that he was a doctor helping to manage coronavirus patients, the building’s board of directors kicked him out. This, in spite of his reputation as “a teaching guru on managing the human airway,” including “performing the tricky but vital task of intubation, threading a breathing tube into people who are not getting enough oxygen”:

At the end of seven hours in mask, gown and gloves at Bellevue Hospital Center on Monday, Dr. Richard Levitan finally had a chance to look at his phone.

Dr. Levitan, an emergency physician who lives in northern New Hampshire, had volunteered to work for 10 days at Bellevue, in Manhattan, as coronavirus patients besieged New York City hospitals. Monday was his first shift there.

A text had arrived from his older brother, who was letting him use an apartment on the Upper West Side. It read: “Hey Richard — We are so proud of you and your heroism. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but looks like our apartment building doesn’t want you staying in our apt.”

The building’s board of directors wanted him out.

That took a minute to sink in.

On the one hand, Dr. Levitan was answering the state’s urgent plea for help in the worst public health crisis in decades.

On the other, his brother was dealing with the idiosyncratic creature known as a New York City co-op, run by a board of apartment owners. Within their four walls, co-ops are tiny nation-states, like thousands of Vatican Cities inside the five boroughs.

So, while Dr. Levitan was working to save the lives of strangers, his brother was pleading with his neighbors on the board to let his sibling lay his head in the apartment. He got nowhere. The board had heard what he was doing and did not want him around.

Note: Most residents had already left the building to hunker down elsewhere – perhaps even in Dr. Levitan’s resident state of New Hampshire:

Though it has nearly 300 apartments, the building was quiet. “The place is a ghost town,” Dr. Levitan said. “Anybody with money has left.”

The building’s manager declined to answer inquiries by The New York Times about Dr. Levitan’s eviction “but offered to pass on an inquiry to the board. No one replied to that, or to phone messages and emails left with board members.”

Lesson here: It’s perfectly acceptable for the wealthy and well-connected to flee NYC to the less populated neighboring states and hunker down in their vacation homes, but it’s not acceptable for a medical expert who is desperately needed by patients at NYC hospitals to stay in their near-empty buildings.

Gov. Cuomo pleaded just four days ago: Help New York. We are the ones who are hit now. Who could imagine that those answering the call would be given the boot.

–Dana

Baseball Crank: The 41 Worst People You Meet on Twitter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:12 am



Dan McLaughlin (aka the Baseball Crank, who recently left his law practice to become a full-time writer at NRO) has a very thorough taxonomy of annoying Twitter personalities today titled The 41 Worst People You Meet on Twitter. These particularly amused me:

3. The Chief Dufflepud: The Chief Dufflepud’s signature characteristic is twofold: He has a legion of sycophantic followers who trail after him giving off praise like Sir Robin’s minstrels, and he constantly reinforces their reinforcement of him by retweeting their hosannas to his brilliance and courage. If you argue with the Chief Dufflepud, he will make sure that your mentions are flooded with these people, none of whom will add anything knowledgeable to the discussion; they will simply assert that you have been Owned and Destroyed by The Great One and should Take The L.

. . . .

5. The Swaggerer: The Swaggerer may be male or female (as may most of these types), but machismo is his game, and he is most typically found on the right. What distinguishes The Swaggerer is that he’s more interested in showing that he is Tough and Fights and Never Apologizes and Owns the Libs and Isn’t a Snowflake and Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings than he is in the actual content of his arguments.

. . . .

19. The Instant Logan Act Expert: The Instant Logan Act Expert is an unfortunate by-product of the democratization of discourse. Thirty minutes into any public controversy, the Instant Logan Act Expert suddenly has strong and confident opinions about the topic, despite having never given it a moment’s thought before. Often, the Instant Logan Act Expert is simultaneously an actual expert in one or more other topics, and he should really know better.

Read it all.

4/2/2020

Open Non-Coronavirus Policy Non-Trump Non-Politics Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



This morning I was chatting with some folks on email about how tense people seem on Twitter, and how partisan and divisive and angry and, well, lonely they seem. I said that one thing I have noticed is that when I go for a walk in my neighborhood, which I do every day at noon, more people are out and about and they are friendlier. There is a real sense of everyone being in this thing together as you walk around. That’s very different from half of Twitter.

Also, we are typically discussing politics and current events on Twitter. If I stop and have a brief chat (at a distance of ten yards) with a neighbor, it’s invariably about the dogs I am walking, or the weather, or how they’re holding up in all this, or how they are doing in their recovery from a recent health issue, or how crazy the supermarkets are and how long it takes to check out, or when they built that structure in their back yard. That kind of stuff. It’s not about how Trump is handling the coronavirus. If it were, odds are the discussions would be … different.

So why don’t we have a discussion like the kind I might have with my neighbors at a safe distance? The rules are: no talk about coronavirus policy, although you can talk about how it’s affecting your daily life. No mention of Trump. No mention of politics.

I’ll start. My niece started a neat game among the family that she created entirely on her own (with the help of an app called GooseChase) that is a scavenger hunt style game. But the idea is that each team (consisting of people in the family scattered throughout the country) must perform certain tasks my niece made up. Examples: “Take a picture showing a change you’ve had to make in your normal routine. Please explain in your caption.” Or: “Take a video of you trying to lift something very light but pretend like it’s heavy.” Or: “Tell a knock-knock joke [on video]. 5 bonus points if it makes me smile, groan, or shake my head!” It’s well-done and fun. My team is not doing too well though.

What’s up with you?

6.6 Million People Filed New Unemployment Claims Last Week

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:20 am



It’s no real surprise if you have been paying attention, of course, but it’s still a stunning number — especially when you realize it will continue like this, week after week.

The last three weeks have marked one of the most devastating periods in history for the American job market, as first-time claims for unemployment benefits have surged more than 3,000% since early March.

Businesses continue to lay off and furlough workers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

6.6 million US workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28 — a new historic high.

Meanwhile, I’m watching the deaths in the U.S. double reliably every four days or so, and I’m thinking we could hit 100,000 deaths this month very easily. I read a passage like this from Allahpundit:

If you believe the IHME projections, which are similar to the White House’s own model, we won’t begin to flatten out in this metric for several more weeks. Peak deaths are expected on April 16, when we’re expected to hit … 2,600 in a day. That’s up from yesterday, when the projection was on the order of 2,200; the number of total deaths expected before August 1 is also up substantially in the IHME model, from around 83,000 yesterday to 93,000 today. Things have turned grimmer in the past 24 hours than they were. And they were plenty grim yesterday.

And I think: it’s weird when I’m more pessimistic than Allahpundit. 2,600 deaths a day by April 16? Why not April 10? I can’t find a good reason why not.

I’ll be thrilled to be wrong.

4/1/2020

The Right’s Callous Rhetoric About Coronavirus Deaths

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:24 am



Here are two statements that should shock you.

  • Republicans say the economic effects from social distancing could lead to increased suicides but the flu and car accidents kill people too.
  • Republicans say the economic effects from social distancing could lead to increased suicides but that’s really only a problem for the poor and depressed.

If you were to read those statements on a Twitter feed, you might become outraged. I can easily envision tweets like that going viral very quickly. Perhaps a quick hit on Twitchy starts the job rolling. Then some blue check Trumpers pick up the ball and carry it. Finally the tweets end up on Hannity or Tucker, an object lesson in how the left does not care about life.

And yet these are precisely the sort of comments people on the right have been making to dismiss the likely number of increased deaths from coronavirus. Hey, it’s not that many people, you know. And by the way, the people it hits are sort of expendable anyway.

The GOP used to cite the danger that ObamaCare and more government control over health care might pose to vulnerable seniors. Now the message — of Donald Trump until recently, and many of his fans even today — is: hey, this coronavirus thing might kill some people … but not that many and it’s just old people anyway. Some have even said: why, these old folks should be willing to sacrifice themselves to get the economy going again! (Hi, Dan Patrick!)

And what is richly ironic about much of this is that the same people who want us to care so deeply about the misery that might result from the fall of the economy are the very same people who have shrugged off the deaths from coronavirus as a minor inconvenience, like the flu or car accidents. President Donald John Trump being one glaringly obvious example.

Now, a couple of points that shouldn’t need to be said, but it’s the Internet so of course I have to say them.

First: In no way am I minimizing the tragedy of suicide. Suicide and attempted suicide are horrible, awful things that have touched people close to me. I am not making light of them. It’s actually the fact that they are so awful, if you truly understand them, that makes the statements so shocking — and thus makes my point so vividly.

Second: Yes, I understand that public policy requires calculation about life and death, and that can sound horrifying but it’s necessary. I don’t need a troop of incels giving me the ACKSHUALLY treatment in the comments to understand that. Here’s the thing: if deaths and misery from coronavirus are going to be treated as components in an equation, that is equally true of the deaths and misery that result from economic dislocation. And if you don’t like the tone of someone saying: hey, sure, economic dislocation will kill some people, but to make an omelet you gotta break a few eggs then that should be a clue to you that when you speak about death and misery from coronavirus, you are going to rub a lot of people the wrong way if you seem to minimize it. So maybe realize that all human suffering is bad, and that to speak of it as though you are shrugging your shoulders dismissively while you speak is not a good look.

I don’t think people realize just how callous people on the right have sounded lately. It’s truly remarkable. And the ultimate expression of this is the fact that, for Donald Trump and his greatest sycophants like Bill Mitchell, literally the most important thing about whether hundreds of thousands of Americans die is whether the numbers will show that Trump did a good job. Trump: “So you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this. And so if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000. It’s a horrible number, maybe even less —but to 100,000. So we have between 100 and 200,000, and we altogether have done a very good job.” And Bill Mitchell:

Bill MItchell Ghoul

This is what they care about.

These people are soulless ghouls and among the worst humanity has to offer.

3/31/2020

Pastor Arrested, DeBlasio Threatens Permanent Closure of Houses of Worship Defying NYC Order

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:56 am



[guest post by Dana]

Here are two troubling stories that raise questions about Constitutional freedoms during a pandemic. The first story raises the question of whether our right to freely assemble can be temporarily suspended during a pandemic, and the second story reveals a disturbingly authoritarian urge by an elected official trying to control the spread of coronavirus in hard-hit NYC.

First, a pastor in Florida was arrested for holding church services with up to 500 people in attendance, in spite of new coronavirus restrictions put in place. He showed no remorse for his decision, rather he blamed the media:

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was booked on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of public health rules after flouting social distancing orders at The River at Tampa Bay church.

Howard-Browne…has been an outspoken opponent of social distancing requirements, claiming his church has machines that can stop the coronavirus and vowing to personally cure the state of Florida himself.

“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk, and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week, in danger,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the press conference.

Howard-Browne did not respond to an immediate request for comment. He turned himself in to a neighboring sheriff’s office, was booked and released within 40 minutes, according to jail records.

On a Facebook broadcast on Monday night, Howard-Browne said, “I pray for the sheriff. He’s a good man,” and blamed the media for pressuring law enforcement to take action against him.

Efforts had been made to warn the pastor about holding services:

Friday, Sheriff Chronister said, deputies had tried to speak to Howard-Browne on at least two separate occasions about the “dangerous environment” the church was creating. He said HCSO command staff went to the east Tampa church, but they were advised by church leaders and legal staff that Howard-Browne was refusing to see them and also refusing to cancel the Sunday church services.

Additionally:

Chronister stressed that the warrant was not an attack on religious freedom and noted there are other Tampa Bay-area churches who are following the social distancing guidelines set by the CDC. He said his concern now is whether the novel coronavirus may spread following the crowded services.

“I was appalled and also frightened at the fact that those individuals [were] thinking and believing they are doing the right thing. How many people are they going to infect if they have COVID-19?” Chronister asked. “There is nothing more important than faith especially during a pandemic, but like every other church here in the Bay Area, do it responsibly.”

(There is reason to be concerned: Just days after a funeral took place in Georgia, with 200 mourners in attendance, a devastating outbreak of coronavirus swept through the small town.)

A couple of notes: Because Florida’s Gov. DeSantis has rejected issuing a statewide stay-at-home order, instead issuing an order only for residents in Southeast Florida, individual counties are instituting their own coronavirus restriction orders.

Also, Pastor Howard-Brown claimed that social distancing rules were observed during the service, and that they had “13 machines that basically kill[ed] every virus in the place.”

In the second story, Mayor Bill DeBlasio threatened to permanently shut down various houses of worship if they continue to violate New York City’s coronavirus restrictions on holding religious services:

“We’ve had extraordinary, across the board rabbinical support from all the different elements of the Jewish community and the same is true of other faiths as well,” de Blasio said in his Friday news briefing, according to The Jewish Press.

Some synagogues, however, are still holding minyanim, gatherings of 10 worshipers or more, to hold prayer services.

“A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance even though it’s so widespread,” de Blasio said.

“I want to say to all those who are preparing for the potential of religious services this weekend: If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church, and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” he warned, however admitting that he does not “say this with joy.”

“I understand how important people’s faiths are to them, and we need our faith in this time of crisis. But we do not need gatherings that will endanger people.”

The mayor called on religious citizens, asking that anyone who witnesses services taking place to report to the congregation’s officials and request them to stop services. Should that not be enough, the authorities may “need to take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”

It is preposterous that DeBlasio believes he can permanently close down the houses of worship that violate the city’s restrictions on holding church services. Just under what and whose authority does the Mayor think that this can be done?

[Ed. I believe the headline at the Jerusalem Post, which I linked to, is misleading. The story makes clear that DeBlasio wasn’t singling out synagogues, but he clearly and specifically said “A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues...]

–Dana

3/30/2020

HHS Approves Treatment Methods, Vaccine Testing To Begin In Months

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:44 am



[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. Since we’ve been discussing chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine, consider this a thread related to treatments being considered (including testing a coronavirus vaccine). Also, in light of this weekend’s comments, please remember this isn’t a place to “promote” a specific treatment...]

From Health and Human Services:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, for possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials. These and other companies may donate additional doses, and companies have ramped up production to provide additional supplies of the medication to the commercial market.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to BARDA to allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.

Sandoz and Bayer are the latest companies stepping up to strengthen the U.S. response to COVID-19, and ASPR is working with additional companies willing to donate doses of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine…

Use of the donated medications is expected to help ease supply pressures for the drug, and the FDA is also working with manufacturers of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to increase production to ensure these drugs also remain available for patients dependent on them for treatment of malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Some states and retail pharmacies also have taken action to preserve the supply of these and other drugs for these patients.

In addition to accepting and distributing the donated medicines, HHS is funding clinical trials of two drugs, Kevzara (sarilumab) and remdesivir, and is supporting the earlier development of multiple potential therapeutic treatments, vaccines, and diagnostic tests for COVID-19.

Time is not your friend during a pandemic. Doctors in France and Italy are already prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for coronavirus patients.

Also, vaccine testing will begin in September:

Johnson & Johnson said Monday human testing of its experimental vaccine for the coronavirus will begin by September and it could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021.

J&J also said it has committed more than $1 billion of investment in partnership with the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, to co-fund vaccine research.

J&J’s lead vaccine candidate will enter a phase 1 human clinical study by September, the company said, and clinical data on its effects is expected before the end of the year. If the vaccine works well, the company said it could be available for emergency use in early 2021.

On top of a lead vaccine candidate, J&J said it has two back-ups. The company said it began working on COVID-19 vaccine development in January.

–Dana

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