Category Archives: Big Govt

A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy – Imprimis

All the talk about “science is science”, but a declaration signed by over 43,000 scientists and health officials world-wide, is ignored?  (See a list of co-signers, etc.—online at www.gbdeclaration.org.)

This is a very short, very informative article and should be read by all decision makers.  mrossol.

Source: A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy – Imprimis

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Maybe Only One Sane Person in Washington?

WSJ 10/18/2020 by Peggy Noonan

Everyone’s insane now. I mean everyone in Washington. The great challenge of the era is to maintain your intellectual poise under pressure. Washington this week looked like a vast system fail.

Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on CNN, let it be known she won’t countenance pushback. At issue was the stalled stimulus deal. Anchor Wolf Blitzer noted that millions have lost their jobs, can’t pay the rent. Members of the speaker’s own caucus want a deal—why not accept the president’s $1.8 trillion offer?

Mrs. Pelosi went from zero to 60 in a nanosecond: “What I say to you is I don’t know why you’re always an apologist, and many of your colleagues, apologists for the Republican position.” “Do you realize” the GOP bill is inadequate, she demanded. “Do you have any idea . . .?”

What about Democrats who want a deal? “They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here. . . . You’re the apologist for Obama. Excuse me. God forbid. Thank God for Barack Obama.”

Mr. Blitzer said he wasn’t an apologist. Why not just call the president and make a deal? “What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at the table.”

Is this all about keeping the president from claiming credit? No, Mrs. Pelosi said, “he’s not that important.” “You really don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Do a service to the issue and have some level of respect for the people who have worked on these issues.”

Twice Mr. Blitzer insisted, “I have only the greatest respect for you.” But, he said, Americans need the money. Mrs. Pelosi: “And you don’t care how it’s spent.” “You don’t even know how it’s spent.” “May I finish, please?” “Have a little respect for the fact that we know something about these subjects.” She said he doesn’t respect committee chairmen.

I respect all of you, Mr. Blitzer said. Mrs. Pelosi: “You’ve been on a jag defending the administration all this time with no knowledge of the difference between our two bills.”

Mr. Blitzer: “We will leave it on that note.”

Mrs. Pelosi: “No, we will leave it on the note that you are not right on this, Wolf.”

He said it’s not about him but people in food lines. Mrs. Pelosi: “And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. We know them. We represent them and we know them. We know them. We represent them.” “Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.”

“I am sensitive to them because I see them on the street begging for food,” Mr. Blitzer said.

Mrs. Pelosi: “Have you fed them? We feed them.”

It was bonkers. To watch was to witness, uncomfortably, the defensive aggression of an official who goes through life each day not being challenged nearly enough.

“I feel confident about it . . . and I feel confidence in my chairs,” she said. No, she doesn’t.

And Mr. Blitzer was right: It’s wrong to hold hostage people in immediate economic crisis.

The Barrett hearings were almost as strange. They were, as usual, not really about her and her views but the senators and theirs. But it seemed to me that slightly more than usual they treated her like a piece of furniture. There were bizarre questions. From Mazie Hirono of Hawaii: “Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” No, Judge Barrett said. Ms. Hirono says she asks this of all nominees, but it would have been nice if she’d said it with a hint of doubt.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivered a Rachel Maddow-style monologue on “dark money.” His data board linking “phony front groups” was wonderfully John Nash-like. The not-funny part, the sadness of it, actually, is that you could do a mirror-image chart of Democratic activism and money surrounding court nominees, and it would have been a public service if he had.

I don’t know Judge Barrett’s deeper thoughts on the Second Amendment, but by the end of the hearings I was hoping she’d pull out a gun.

As for her Republican supporters, some of them went on about her large family and motherhood in a way that seemed, subtly, to obscure the depth of her intellect and the breadth of her command of the law. I think some of them couldn’t quite grok a mother of seven who’s their intellectual superior, so they reverted to form and patronized her. And competed with her. Sen. John Kennedy seemed especially eager to save the drowning woman, not noticing she wasn’t drowning and appears, as a lawyer, to swim better than he.

They lauded her large family in a way that lacked finesse, by which I mean at times they sounded like Mussolini advancing pro-natalism as a matter of state. If Judge Barrett were single and childless like David Souter, she would still be a deeply impressive nominee. If she were married and the parent of nine like Antonin Scalia, she would be impressive. It is not irrelevant that she is bringing up seven children. “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions,” said Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and every child is a new experience. But when you focus on the personal at the expense of the public, you wind up with Mr. Kennedy asking, “Who does the laundry in your house?” I remember when a senator asked Scalia that and Scalia laughed in his face. Oh wait, no one ever asked Scalia that.

Guys, did you not notice the immediate recall with which she summoned, and the depth with which she analyzed, the history of American jurisprudence? Say thank you, God, and move on.

She will be confirmed. Having spent a long time reading of her and her decisions, what strikes me is a story she told last spring, at Notre Dame. It is personal but sheds light on her thinking. She and her husband had suddenly received a call saying a baby had come up for adoption. But she had just found out she was pregnant with her fifth child. She threw on a jacket, took a walk, and wound up on a bench in a cemetery. She thought, “If life is really hard, at least it’s short.” They adopted the baby.

There have been many men on the court who seemed deep and were celebrated for their scholarly musings but were essentially, as individuals and in their conception of life, immature. But this is not a child, a sentimentalist, an ideological warrior. This is a thinker who thinks about reality.

She’s not what you expect when you open your handy box of categories. People who understand conservatism in a particular, maybe limited way—they don’t know what they just got.

Modern, a particular kind of Catholic, a woman, with a lived emphasis on people in community—this is not a “standard conservative.” In her independence from partisan politics, in her lived faith in higher persons, spirits and principles, this is rather a dangerous woman.

And she’s sane.

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Developed World’s Lockdowns May Be Catastrophic for Third World Poor

Church Planting International, a group I am familiar with, is reporting the same impact in countries where they work. – mrossol

8/17/2020 from The Epoch Times   By Matthew Vadum
August 18, 2020 Updated: August 18, 2020

Pandemic-related lockdowns in developing countries may reduce 100 million people to grinding poverty while causing suffering and death on a scale that may dwarf the human effects of the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19, sources say.

Experts say that in recent years, growing economic freedom has lifted huge segments of the world population out of destitution.

“Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in 2018. “This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time.”

But the sharp, sudden economic contraction caused by COVID-19 has inflicted serious damage on the global economy.

Steven J. Allen, distinguished senior fellow at the think tank Capital Research Center, told The Epoch Times that the effect of the spread of free markets “on the poorest people, has been to raise them out of poverty, and then, this comes along and just knocks them right back down.”

The lockdowns “don’t appear to have had any positive effect in terms of stopping the virus,” added Allen, who earned a doctorate in biodefense from George Mason University.

“Progressives [who have supported the lockdowns more strongly than conservatives] never really think about the impact their policies have on those who can’t afford them. It’s going to take years to recover from this.”

The outlook for the economy is grim, according to Kenneth Rogoff, the Thomas D. Cabot professor of public policy and professor of economics at Harvard University. The “economic catastrophe” caused by the pandemic is “likely to rival or exceed that of any recession in the last 150 years,” he wrote in April.

Extreme Poverty

Poverty shortens lifespans, experts say. COVID-19 and the tough governmental responses to the pandemic appear poised to set back the struggle against acute poverty by years, as the world braces for what could be the first increase in extreme poverty in 22 years, according to an Associated Press report underwritten by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The global extreme poverty rate plunged to 10 percent in 2015 from 36 percent in 1990 as the pool of very poor people shrank to 736 million from about 2 billion, according to World Bank data. This means that around 736 million people–half of whom are concentrated in Bangladesh, Congo, Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria—were scraping by on under $1.90 a day, the so-called international poverty line, as of 2015.

To put those figures in perspective, bear in mind that about 1.3 billion people worldwide don’t have electricity, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, while another 2.5 billion have extremely limited access. This means that 3.8 billion people on the planet—out of the world total of about 7.7 billion human beings—are suffering from “energy poverty.”

Policy experts worry that the pandemic and the accompanying restrictions aimed at mitigating it could drag 100 million people around the world back below the international poverty line, according to the World Bank.

“For well-off people in wealthy countries, the lockdowns are an annoyance and a bore. The lockdowns are a disaster for poor people in poor countries,” said Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank.

“Decades of progress in lessening hunger and raising living standards are being wiped out by these criminally insane lockdowns,” he told The Epoch Times.

“In the short term, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is widespread hunger and even starvation in some poor countries. And it could take a decade or longer to overcome the economic devastation caused by the Wuhan virus panic.”

Some of the economic problems in countries outside the United States can be traced to weakness in the U.S. economy, said economist Christos A. Makridis, a research assistant professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

“Supply chains across the world are so linked, so a decline in demand in the U.S. leads to even sharper declines in other countries because of their dependence on the U.S. market for their own economic activity,” he told The Epoch Times.

“Declines in their economic activity imply a deterioration in their health care infrastructures, too.”

Even developing countries that haven’t been hit hard by the virus have experienced other problems related to the economic slowdown in the United States and Europe, he said.

‘Hunger Pandemic’

David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, said in the spring that while the world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s “also on the brink of a hunger pandemic.”

“Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the specter of famine a very real and dangerous possibility.”

While 135 million people currently are close to the brink of starvation, Beasley said his organization projects that “due to the Coronavirus, an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. That’s a total of 265 million people.”

The intense focus on treating COVID-19 and finding a vaccine for the virus also is thought to crowd out research and the provision of health care for people with other diseases.

As many as 6.3 million people may develop tuberculosis by 2025 and 1.4 million people may die of the disease as it goes undiagnosed and untreated during the lockdowns, setting back efforts at eradication by 5 to 8 years, The Guardian reported in May, citing research by Johns Hopkins University, Avenir Health, and Imperial College London.

Tuberculosis occurs everywhere on the planet but tends to hit developing countries the hardest. It kills 1.5 million people around the world every year, more than any other infectious disease. There is a vaccine for children, but not adults.

COVID-19 may be more prevalent, but it harms fewer people than tuberculosis.

There have been 22.1 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, resulting in 778,000 deaths as of Aug. 18, according to Worldometers.info. The case figure includes 14.8 million patients who have recovered.

This crowding-out effect is worrisome, but Allen said there’s also reason to be concerned that people have become so frightened of the virus that they are avoiding going to their medical doctor or the hospital because they are afraid that doing so will make them sick.

“Your immune system depends on you being exposed to other people,” Allen told The Epoch Times. “It needs to be trained.”

https://www.theepochtimes.com/developed-worlds-lockdowns-may-be-catastrophic-for-third-world-poor_3466168.html?ref=brief_News&utm_source=morningbrief&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mb

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Government Missteps Added to the Problem

You wonder what agencies do with the money allocated to keep prepared.

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WSJ. 6/12/2020.  By Shalini Ramachandran , Laura Kusisto and Honan

Hasty expansion of facilities by state, city and hospital leaders led to grave mistakes.

New York leaders faced an unanticipated crisis as the new coronavirus overwhelmed the nation’s largest city. Their response was marred by missed warning signs and policies that many health-care workers say put residents at greater risk and led to unnecessary deaths.

In the first few days of March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio assured New Yorkers things were under control. On March 2, Mr. de Blasio tweeted that people should go see a movie.

Only after the disease had gripped the city’s low-income neighborhoods in early March did Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio mobilize public and private hospitals to create more beds and intensive- care units. The hasty expansion that ensued, led by New York government leaders and hospital administrators, produced mistakes that helped worsen the crisis, health-care workers say.

The virus has hit New York harder than any other state, cutting through its densely populated urban neighborhoods and devastating the economy. New York state’s death toll of 30,575 accounted for 7% of the world’s deaths and 27% of American deaths as of June 11, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

 

The Wall Street Journal talked to nearly 90 front-line doctors, nurses, health-care workers, hospital administrators and government officials, and reviewed emails, legal documents and memos, to analyze what went wrong. Among the missteps they identify:

• Improper patient transfers. Some patients were too sick to have been transferred between hospitals. Squabbling between the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations contributed to an uncoordinated effort.

• Insufficient isolation protocols. Hospitals often mixed infected patients with the uninfected early on, and the virus spread to non-Covid-19 units.

• Inadequate staff planning. Hospitals added hundreds of intensive- care beds but not always enough trained staff, leading to improper treatments and overlooked patients dying alone.

• Mixed messages. State, city government and hospital officials kept shifting guidelines about when exposed and ill front-line workers should return to work.

• Overreliance on government sources for key equipment. Hospitals turned to the state and federal government for hundreds of ventilators, but many were faulty or inadequate.

• Procurement-planning gaps. While leaders focused attention on procuring ventilators, hospitals didn’t always provide for adequate supplies of critical resources including oxygen, vital-signs monitors and dialysis machines.

• Incomplete staff-protection policies. Many hospitals provided staff with insufficient protective equipment and testing.

A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, Freddi Goldstein, and a member of Mr. Cuomo’s virus task force, Gareth Rhodes, said the city and state did everything they could to increase hospital capacity and enhance social distancing once the risk became clear. “Ultimately our hospitals withstood the pressure,” Ms. Goldstein said. Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, defended the state and hospitals’ response as remarkable considering the “wartime conditions,” adding: “We have a large, very sophisticated hospital system. It took us to the breaking point.”

One planning lapse showed up in improper patient transfers. More than 1,600 largely Covid-19 patients in two of the state’s largest hospital systems were moved from overloaded hospitals to ones less hit, according to spokespeople for those systems. Some patients arrived in worse condition than when they left, sometimes without names and treatment information, said doctors and nurses at several hospitals. Under normal protocol, only stable patients typically would be transferred, but these people came in with “one foot in the grave,” said Dr. David Buziashvili, who worked many shifts at Bellevue hospital, part of the city’s public system, NYC Health + Hospitals. On one shift there, he was alarmed to see 10 new transfers in beds with little medical information, he said. “That is not how it should be done.”

A Health + Hospitals spokeswoman, Stephanie Guzmán, said the city’s 11-facility hospital system provided “the highest quality care to all New Yorkers.” Only the least-sick patients were transferred between hospitals and their personal information was in a centralized system, she said.

Avery Cohen, a City Hall spokeswoman, blamed the state for denying a request from the city to establish a centralized hub, called a Healthcare Evacuation Call Center, that would have helped better coordinate transfers between hospitals, whether they were private or public. “We were grasping for every tool at our disposal to save as many lives as possible,” Ms. Cohen said. “The state was not interested.” Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for the governor, said that system wasn’t designed for individual patient transfers. She said a state transfer system was created in late March after hundreds of open beds near harder-hit New York City hospitals had gone unnoticed.

The New York state outbreak was extraordinary, and much of the disarray in its hospitals from mid-March on traced to impacts few had anticipated, including the federal government.

The impact was made worse because the city went into the pandemic less prepared than it could have been. The city hospital system has long been considered underfunded. Private hospitals in the outer boroughs, particularly Queens, had closed over the years. New York hospitals had long ignored alarms by the nurses’ union and respiratory therapists about insufficient staffing levels, according to nurses and respiratory therapists at several city hospitals.

A contributing factor was New York leaders’ delayed reaction. Early signs of the virus’s arrival—including a rise in patients with flulike symptoms visiting hospitals—went largely un-investigated by hospital, state and city officials. Throughout February in calls with hospitals, the city health department played down the possibility the virus could spread through the air or by asymptomatic people.

In early March at Health + Hospitals’ Elmhurst, Dr. Chad Meyers and his colleagues in the emergency room worried they were missing community spread of Covid-19. But when they called the city’s health department to get patients tested, it rejected for testing even many patients who satisfied the criteria, Dr. Meyers said, leading to “often protracted and unproductive calls” with the department.

Hospital, city and state officials said they were relying on the federal government for testing capability and were limited by criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on whom they could test. Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman, said: “CDC testing guidance has always allowed for clinical discretion. So, while we set guidelines, states and health-care providers have had the flexibility to determine who to test.”

In an April interview, Health + Hospitals Chief Executive Mitchell Katz said the system prepared as best it could, given the difficulties of building additional space in already-full hospitals. In a May 15 city council meeting, he said he should have acted quicker.

While leaders in states like California and Ohio acted quickly to contain the spread, Messrs. Cuomo and de Blasio delayed taking measures to close the state and city even as the number of cases swelled, despite warnings from doctors, nurses and schoolteachers. California issued a statewide lockdown with 1,005 cases as of March 19, while New York remained open with 5,704 cases, according to updated Johns Hopkins data.

Even after New York announced its first coronavirus case on March 1, the city health department was advising New Yorkers they were more likely to get the flu. “I speak for the mayor also on this one—we think we have the best healthcare system on the planet,” Mr. Cuomo said at a March 2 news conference.

Five days later, Mr. Cuomo declared a state of emergency, but medical and emergency-response experts worried the city and state administrations still weren’t taking matters seriously enough. Richard Serino, an adviser to the city, told a senior aide to Mr. de Blasio early on March 13 that he was “concerned about the cavalier attitude of the hospital community” in the city, especially compared with other cities like Boston, according to an email. Officials with the city’s emergency-management agency agreed, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Serino in April said he didn’t recall the email and praised the city’s response.

March 13 became a turning point after it became clear there was community spread from one man in a New York City suburb. Two days later, when Mr. de Blasio said known New York City cases had already ballooned past 300, he reluctantly closed schools. Los Angeles closed schools around the same time with about 50 cases, according to Johns Hopkins data.

By March 20, the ICU of the Northwell Health system’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens was overflowing, and Health + Hospitals’ Elmhurst had to borrow ventilators from a sister hospital to keep up. The governor ordered most of New York be put under quarantine two days later.

On March 23, Mr. Cuomo ordered hospitals to increase capacity to treat Covid-19 by 50%, anticipating the need for 140,000 new beds. When hospital executives asked where they would get staffing, beds and protective gear, state officials told them to “do your best,” said a hospital executive familiar with the conversation.

Ms. Lever, the governor’s spokeswoman, said the state offered every hospital access to 90,000 volunteer health-care workers and to a central inventory system for the resources and equipment they needed to fight the virus.

Once they realized how widespread the virus had become, Messrs. Cuomo and de Blasio were frank about the gravity of the illness in daily public briefings, and Mr. Cuomo’s job-performance rating soared. Mr. de Blasio focused on inequities within the city, establishing a food program and using out-of-work drivers to make deliveries to homebound residents.

‘Absolute crisis’

Among the missteps that would make matters worse after mid-March, health-care workers said, was that government officials and hospital administrators failed to create adequate plans to provide the needed staff as they expanded beds into operating theaters, old auditoriums and lobbies.

“Creating beds isn’t the most difficult thing,” said Northwell CEO Michael Dowling. “The issues that get complicated with the creation of beds is the staffing.”

As Covid-19 patients flooded into NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, the private hospital created new pop-up ICUs. The inadequacy of staffing levels quickly became clear in one operating- room-turned-ICU, according to medical staff there and emails residents sent attending physicians. Garbage in the makeshift 80-bed unit overflowed with contaminated needles, masks and gowns.

“The scope of patient needs compared with the training and resources available presented an absolute crisis,” said Julia Symborski, a nurse who worked in the new ICU. “You can magically make an ICU appear, but you can’t make staff appear immediately.”

A NewYork-Presbyterian spokeswoman, Kate Spaziani, defended the hospital system’s response to the “unprecedented challenges.”

It isn’t that there weren’t staff available nationwide: Brian Cleary, CEO of Krucial Staffing, an agency Health + Hospitals tapped to send 4,000 medical staff during the crisis, said it could have sent in 6,000 more “without blinking.”

A Health + Hospitals spokeswoman said the hospital began securing additional staffing in early January and Krucial “does not encompass the full scope of the assistance we sought from outside groups.”

While travel nurses arrived at Bellevue and other locations, “a lot of them had no experience whatsoever,” said Laura Jaramillo, a Bellevue ER nurse.

The Health + Hospitals spokeswoman said new staffers were “formally trained to cover the areas they were posted in.”

In the new operating-room ICU at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia, one respiratory therapist at times cared for over 80 patients a shift, according to workers and emails; seeing about 10 a shift is typical in normal times, respiratory therapists said. Overworked staffers there weren’t able to suction mucus out of patients’ lungs often enough, resulting in patient complications, according to the workers and emails.

NewYork-Presbyterian’s Ms. Spaziani said the hospital system began recruiting additional staff in February and ended up with more than 2,850 volunteers and temporary front-line staff, including 150 additional respiratory therapists. Joji Thadathil, a Health + Hospitals Elmhurst respiratory therapist, estimated that more staffing and better equipment could have saved 30% to 40% of Covid-19 patients who died there. The Health + Hospitals spokeswoman said the system “mobilized quickly to shift staff…and equipment to the hardest hit hospitals.”

Air supply

During the surge’s early days, Mr. Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio and hospital officials often talked publicly about the urgent need for ventilators. That procurement emphasis, some medical workers said, overshadowed staffing and other vital needs like oxygen and oxygen monitors. Supplemental oxygen became especially important to keep Covid-19 patients breathing and off the dwindling supply of ventilators. At least eight New York City hospitals experienced problems with their oxygen supplies, said some health-care workers and state officials.

At Health + Hospitals’ Lincoln in the Bronx, a severe oxygen shortage hit mid-surge, said doctors there, including Dr. Dasol Kang. The Health + Hospitals spokeswoman said the hospital didn’t have a shortage and never rationed oxygen.

With scores of patients needing ICU-level care, hospitals ran short of the vital-signs machines needed to effectively monitor such patients and of the staff needed to keep track of them. Covid-19 patients gasping for breath sometimes weren’t being properly monitored as they lay hooked up to oxygen, and sometimes died without anyone’s knowing, said doctors and nurses from at least eight New York City hospitals.

A big surprise to doctors and nurses was the number of shoddy ventilators, called LTVs, distributed by the state from its own stockpile and by both the state and city from the federal government’s reserve. Several health-care workers, including Mr. Thadathil, the Elmhurst respiratory therapist, and Dr. Meyers, the ER physician, said the government ventilators were old and many patients worsened on them, leading to collapsed lungs and other complications.

The Health + Hospitals spokeswoman said many state ventilators “were not ‘ready to go’ when they came.” She said the system did additional maintenance before they could be used on patients. Ms. Lever, the governor’s spokeswoman, said the state tested every ventilator before sending them to hospitals and received no complaints.

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