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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Trump reverses himself on the pandemic and hopes no one will notice

After months of denial, Trump now says keeping US deaths to 100,000 would be a 'good job'
Pic of the MomentJust over a month after proclaiming that the number of coronavirus cases in the United States would soon "be down to close to zero," President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on the White House lawn Sunday that limiting U.S. deaths from the pandemic to between 100,000 and 200,000 people would mean his administration and the country as a whole did "a very good job."

Speaking as the death toll from the novel coronavirus climbed above 2,300 in the U.S.—which has the most confirmed cases of the virus in the world—Trump cited recent research warning that 2.2 million people in the U.S. could die from COVID-19 if the nation's government and population take no action to mitigate the threat.

"You're talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this," the president said. "And so, if we can hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000—that's a horrible number—maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100- and 200,000, we all together have done a very good job."

Trump on White House portico with giant rabbit - ABC News ...
Trump has decided to ignore the advice of his chief pandemic advisor

Critics condemned Trump's remarks as remarkably cruel and callous, particularly coming from someone who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus—at one point suggesting it was a "new hoax" perpetrated by the Democratic Party—and urged Americans to get back to work despite warnings from medical professionals.

"There really are no words for this level of insensitivity and inhumanity. A serial killer would be jealous," said Charles Idelson of National Nurses United in response to Trump's comments.

Trump announced Sunday that the White House is extending federal social distancing guidelines to at least April 30, a retreat from the president's insistence last week that the country could be "rarin' to go" by Easter—April 12.

Noting the president's rapidly shifting goalposts, CNN reporter Daniel Dale tweeted late Sunday, "Trump has come a long way from the 15-cases-but-we're-going-down-to-zero."

More advice from Fake Science

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor, possible text that says 'KEEP GERMS AT BAY  Germs are transferred through contact. If you don't have hand sanitizer, always keep a pot of boiling water nearby.'

From FAKE SCIENCE, Donald Trump's favorite source for science information 

Food Bank pushing hard to get food to those who need it






COVID-19 Update - All Are Welcome
at Food Bank Member Agencies 

 

The Food Bank has been working hard to distribute food to our neighbors in need through our statewide network of food pantries and meal sites. We’ve also been adapting our operations to meet the increased demand, particularly among vulnerable populations like children and seniors.

All Are Welcome
All are Welcome at Food Bank member agencies. Many Rhode Islanders are experiencing food insecurity for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. They may never have sought food assistance through our network of food pantries and meal sites.

At the member agencies of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, all are welcome - Todos Son Bienvenidos - regardless of background, including immigration status. Our priority is to provide assistance to those most in need, so please help us spread the word that our network is here to help by sharing the link to: https://rifoodbank.org/find-food/

Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs)
The Food Bank is working with RIEMA to deliver 45,000 Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) to towns and cities across Rhode Island. Each community will receive their requested supply and issue them to individuals at the local level. The MRE kits will not be available directly to the public through the Food Bank but a supply will be delivered to member agencies in our network.

Thousands have already gone out, and we anticipate that by the end of the week nearly 75% will be distributed. We expect that we will receive more of these meals from FEMA as the crisis continues. To learn more about MREs, visit the COVID-19 Response page of our website.

Operations Update
To meet the increased need at our member agencies, the Food Bank added deliveries on Saturday. Our drivers will be making sure that shelves stay stocked with healthy, nutritious food.

In the past three weeks, we’ve distributed 2,624 Meals4Kids boxes, more than twice the number we usually give out in a whole month. Each pack contains a week’s worth of meals and snacks for kids. We continue to deliver more boxes to our member agencies so that we can meet the demand.

And we’re preparing our Senior Box distribution for April as part of our ongoing monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Each month, we provide 1,660 older adults with a box of healthy, supplemental food. Normally, these boxes are packed by volunteers, but due to COVID-19 restrictions on groups, our staff are putting them together.

Thank you!
Along with the outpouring of contributions from businesses and individuals like you, we’ve received many kind words. Here’s a quote from one of our recent donors, Janice from Riverside:

“I am proud of the effort to address so many issues relating to this emergency.  I am a long-retired nurse who is among the vulnerable population and wish I could do more.”
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Our mailing address is:
Rhode Island Community Food Bank
200 Niantic Ave
Providence, RI 02907-3150

Short takes #7 on COVID-19 and southern RI

Rhode Island’s war on coronavirus
By Will Collette

Source: RI Department of Health
For all our pandemic coverage, CLICK HERE.

Rhode Island’s death toll from COVID-19 has doubled to 8 and the number of cases is following the same exponential curve we saw in other parts of the world. Charlestown's count for confirmed cases remains at "<5."

For that reason, Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered RI parks and beaches closed. Burlingame state park and the state beaches up and down our coast will be shut down starting April 3. 

No mention of closures at Charlestown’s beaches and parks either on the official town website or the CCA’s unofficial town website.

In fact, the CCA is still posting its March 28 blog entry actively encouraging all to get out and enjoy Charlestown’s parks and open spaces.

Federal Emergency declaration

On March 30, Donald Trump took time away from his precious tweeting and TV watching to sign a federal emergency declaration for Rhode Island, retroactive to January 20. Gov. Raimondo says "The federal government and FEMA will be reimbursing Rhode Island for many of our expenses."
"It will give us the resources we need to fight the virus," she added.

Pollen count

In an earlier Short Takes, I noted that with our trees starting to bud, we will see high pollen counts from trees on just about every day when it’s not raining.

If your allergies make you sneeze, cough and wheeze, think first before you go into a COVID-19 panic. It may just be your allergies, though you should pay attention. 

But if you also get any combination of fever, body aches, headache or fatigue – and it doesn’t go away – it might be time to CALL (don’t go) your doctor.

You can get the daily pollen forecast for your zip code at Pollen.com.

A personal report

I ventured out to do some shopping today for the first time in over two weeks. Hated being out of fresh produce and, besides, I needed to pick up a prescription. So off to Westerly I went.

First, I am grateful and in awe of the staffs at Job Lot, Aldi’s and CVS (my three stops) for coming in to work, keeping the stores stocked and being pleasant. I said thanks to each one of them I met - at a proper distance, of course.

I was in Westerly just after noontime and found light traffic both on the roads and in the stores. I was also surprised at how well stocked they were – plenty of produce, dairy products, canned goods and staples.

To my shock, I found everything we needed. Job Lot even had to large supply of paper towels. Aldi’s made what I felt was a wise decision to set buying limits on a lot of essentials, usually a maximum of two for things like eggs.

I found prices were at least normal and, in some cases, lower than usual.

Again, I feel deep gratitude to everyone in the supply chain – from the farmworkers to the workers in the processing plants to the delivery truckers to the warehouse workers and to the staff in the stores. Even the execs who figured out how to keep things going rate an attaboy.

When I was in Job Lot, I noticed little signs all over the store that said a 2% surcharge was being tacked onto every bill to be paid to the workers!

Wow. When I got home, I looked for more information on Job Lot’s COVID-19 policy for its workers (CLICK HERE) and found this:
First, each store associate and distribution center associate will receive a $2 per hour increase in pay until further notice.
Second, all OSJL associates will be allowed to purchase merchandise at 30% off regular prices.
Third, we are adding a temporary 2% surcharge to all customer purchases. Store associates will receive 100% of the proceeds of this surcharge in addition to the $2 pay increase mentioned above. (For example, a $10 purchase will now cost $10.20)
Customers may decline to participate at the register, but we hope you will embrace the opportunity to thank our associates for their extraordinary efforts.
I would like to meet any Job Lot customer who “declined to participate at the register” and hawk a COVID-19 loogie in their face.

In these times of trouble and stress when our country faces a terrible challenge with its worst president at the helm, it’s great to see how many people have retained their sense of decency and their ability to get things done.

Out of staters

On my aforementioned trip, I saw the State Police checkpoint on Route One, just north of the Westerly airport. These checkpoints enforce the Governor's controversial order to make sure that all out-of-state visitors are told they need to self-quarantine for two weeks.

First you see a flashing sign telling folks with non-RI tags to pull into the checkpoint on the southbound side of Route One. There's a State Trooper with flashers on backing up that message.

In the actual checkpoint, there was another State Trooper. When I passed by, there were no out-of-staters in evidence.

Ritalin, Adderall and productivity

With Ritalin and similar medications, the brain focuses on benefits instead of costs of work, study finds
Brown University

adderall GIFCommon assumption has long held that Ritalin, Adderall and similar drugs work by helping people focus.

Yet a new study from a team led in part by Brown University researchers shows that these medications — usually prescribed to individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but often used by otherwise healthy people as a “study aid” — actually work by directing the brain to fix its attention on the benefits, rather than the costs, of completing difficult tasks. 

The study, published on Thursday, March 19 in the journal Science, marks the first time that scientists have examined precisely how stimulants such as Ritalin alter cognitive function. Their research could open opportunities for further studies to help medical professionals better understand how to identify and treat ADHD, depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.

“People tend to think, ‘Ritalin and Adderall help me focus,’” said Michael Frank, the study’s co-senior author and a professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown. 

“And they do, in some sense. But what this study shows is that they do so by increasing your cognitive motivation: Your perceived benefits of performing a demanding task are elevated, while the perceived costs are reduced. This effect is separate from any changes in actual ability.”


How to Talk to Covid-19 Skeptics

Use really small words
By Teresa Carr

Federal Oversight Issues, News and Analysis - Government ExecutiveMy cousin Tina White is an adjunct professor at a community college and teaches high school math in Moscow, Kansas. Recently she asked me for information to help persuade her friends and colleagues that the threat of Covid-19 was real.

The virus is particularly dangerous for people with underlying health issues, and given that White has a history of severe illness due to compromised immunity, this is a pressing personal matter. “I worry about going back to see any kids face to face,” she said.

The virus has not (yet) hit Kansas as hard as other states. As of this writing, the state health department is reporting 82 confirmed cases of Covid-19, although many people have likely gone undiagnosed due to a lack of testing kits.

Many in her small community still think that the media has overblown the risks, and she was concerned that administrators and school board members would opt to bring students back after spring break.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Trump’s EPA suspends enforcement of environmental regulation for the duration of the Pandemic

Industry expected to self-regulate
Holy Crap This Is Insane': Citing Coronavirus Pandemic, EPA ...The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, announced on Thursday a sweeping and indefinite suspension of environmental rules amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, a move green groups warned gives the fossil fuel industry a "green light to pollute with impunity."

Under the new policy (pdf), which the EPA insisted is temporary while providing no timeframe, big polluters will effectively be trusted to regulate themselves and will not be punished for failing to comply with reporting rules and other requirements. The order—applied retroactively beginning March 13, 2020—requests that companies "act responsibly" to avoid violations.


Life in the Coronaverse


For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

I want YOU

Image

Rhode Island's war on the Coronavirus

Short Takes #6 on COVID-19 for Progressive Charlestown readers
By Will Collette

Here’s a rundown of news items that may be of special interest to Progressive Charlestown readers.

Aliens approaching!

Coronavirus NY: Rhode Island National Guard goes door-to-door ...
AP/ABC7NY
Rhode Island got a lot of national media attention over the past few days for Gov. Gina Raimondo’s road-blocks and subsequent manhunts along the shoreline for New Yorkers coming to Rhode Island to escape COVID-19. 

Accompanying footage showed National Guardsmen knocking on doors in Westerly, Quonnie and down the coast at summer houses with NY-tagged cars in the driveway.

The idea was to register New York visitors and to impress on them the Governor’s order to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Aside from unfavorable national coverage, Raimondo’s order also infuriated New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who has threatened to sue Rhode Island.

Rather than stretch this out into a big long Thing, Raimondo and Cuomo talked and Raimondo them revoked the order that targeted New Yorkers and immediately replaced it with a broader order requiring all passenger cars with non-Rhode Island plates to stop at checkpoints.

It’s unclear how this affects Rhode Island’s many “Fake Floridians” – Rhode Islanders who set themselves up as Florida residents to dodge state taxes. Do they get a special dispensation since they actually live here?

Benefits for the self-employed are coming

The RI Department of Labor and Training tweeted words of encouragement to the many workers who normally can’t get unemployment compensation – the self-employed, small business owners, independent contractors, gig workers, etc.

They suggest you sign up to get an e-mail for notification when the benefits are in place. Here’s their Tweet:
Are you a gig economy worker, a contract worker, small biz owner, worker for hire, self-employed, or otherwise ineligible for regular UI benefits? Sign-up to receive an email when the emergency #COVID19 UI benefits application is available: https://bit.ly/2JoKjzI.
So far, RI's data shows WAY more infections in the 20-60 age
than in the 61+ bracket. Older people have tended to get
sicker and to die at a higher rate. Men are getting infected 

more than women, though the margin seems lower than
elsewhere.
Testing

It’s been hard for the state to accurately gauge how bad the pandemic is hitting Rhode Island for lack of testing.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), a drive-through test site set up by the RI National Guard and URI will open for business in URI’s Plain Road parking lot with the hope of testing 600 people a day. The site will operate 7 days a week from 9 AM to 3 PM.

BUT, BUT, BUT before you race down there, you must understand that you must have an appointment scheduled before getting tested, and a signed order form from your physician or the Rhode Island Department of Health.

In an e-mail, the Health Department told me to contact your primary care doctor to get the form and the appointment.

The Health Department’s COVID-19 phone number is 401-222-8022 and the e-mail for COVID-19 info is RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov.

Open and Shut

There is a new list of businesses that are affected by Gov. Raimondo’s order closing non-essential businesses during this pandemic. See the entire list by CLICKING HERE.

For the most part, the list of essential versus non-essential businesses is common sense. Examples: food stores, pharmacies, banks and funeral homes are essential. Bookstores, florists, beauty salons and gift shops are not.

There are some debatable choices. For example, you can still buy guns but you can’t buy garden supplies. You can buy liquor but you can’t buy blue jeans (new or used).

Job Lot stays open as an essential business. You can’t buy liquor or guns there, but you can get garden supplies and blue jeans.

The Dr. Demento Show

I can’t stand to watch Trump’s 5 PM clown act anymore. Even though Trump is thrilled at his ratings, polling shows that the majority of Americans don’t believe his claims about how “beautiful” a job he has done directing the federal bumbling of the pandemic.

His lies have become even more vicious than usual, and this takes the cake: He says the reason why masks and other protective equipment is in such short supply is because the goods are “going out the back door” presumably stolen by nurses and health care workers. 

He can’t understand why hospitals need so many more ventilators because he remembers (?) seeing some “major hospitals” get by with two.

The CDC is not present at the Dr. Demento Show, Dr. Fauci has been forced to tone down his reports and Dr. Birx has now become one of Trump’s acolytes. 

Sure, many of us can’t help but look at a car crash or a building on fire, but at some point, most of us will look away.

We are all in very serious danger with this ignorant, bigoted lunatic in charge.

Will Trump's magic bullet work?

What We Know — and Don’t Know — About Possible Coronavirus Treatments Promoted by Trump
By Charles Ornstein for ProPublica


A rundown of coronavirus drugs for home and hospital - UCHealth TodayDonald Trump’s excitement about decades-old anti-malarial drugs to treat the coronavirus has touched off widespread interest in the medications, hoarding by some doctors, new clinical trials on the fly and desperation among patients who take them for other conditions.


Many experts say there isn’t enough evidence that the drugs work for the coronavirus, but at least a few say there’s little to lose in giving hydroxychloroquine to patients who are severely ill with coronavirus.

“It’s unlikely to worsen COVID-19, and given that it might help ... we have literally nothing else to offer these patients other than supportive care,” said Dr. David Juurlink, an internist and head of the division of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Here’s what we know and don’t know about the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, also known by the brand name Plaquenil.

Where Pandemics Come From

And How to Stop Them
black death rats GIF by Scorpion Dagger“This continues to be a strange time, but that’s the new normal,” says ecologist Felicia Keesing.

She’s speaking by phone from her backyard on a Monday morning, after spending three days helping to evacuate students from Bard College, in New York’s Hudson Valley, where she teaches. “It feels like the beginning of a new phase for us,” she says.

It feels that way for a lot of us right now. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has upended lives and economies around the world, and experts warn it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

“This outbreak is pretty much what all of us would have considered the worst-case scenario,” admits Keesing, who has spent the past two decades studying infectious diseases and how loss of species diversity affects human health.

Her research, along with that of a growing number of scientists around the world, shows a clear pattern: As biodiversity decreases and wild spaces vanish, pathogens can run amok, putting humans, wild and domestic animals, and even plants at risk.

No one can say for sure yet if COVID-19 came from any specific species or circumstance, but many experts have theorized that it jumped to humans in China’s so-called “wet markets,” where exotic animal meat has long been readily available for sale.

Previously unknown viruses have emerged under similar circumstances, when humans took disparate animals out of their various native environments and penned them together.

“It’s a mix of biodiversity, but one that was created by people, not nature,” Keesing says. “We create a mix of species that don’t naturally occur together, and then it’s kind of like running an uncontrolled experiment. This virus jumps to that species.” 


Sunday, March 29, 2020

VIDEO: In his own words


To watch this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkMwvmJLnc0

Doncha just hate it?


Thank you!

Image may contain: 6 people, outdoor, possible text that says 'THANK FOR YOU NOT YOU! THING EVERY THAT YOU DO'

What will archaeologists of the future make of this?

Plastic building bricks could survive in ocean for up to 1,300 years
University of Plymouth

Image result for legos in the oceanA LEGO brick could survive in the ocean for as many as 1,300 years, according to new research.

A study led by the University of Plymouth examined the extent to which items of the ever-popular children's toy were worn down in the marine environment.

By measuring the mass of individual bricks found on beaches against equivalent unused pieces and the age of blocks obtained from storage, researchers estimated that the items could endure for anywhere between 100 and 1,300 years.

They say it once again reinforces the message that people need to think carefully about how they dispose of everyday household items.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, focused on bricks of LEGO found washed up on the coastlines of South West England.


Study funded by Avocado Board says avocados are good for you

Despite that bias, they really are
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau

avocado GIFA diet including daily avocado consumption improves the ability to focus attention in adults whose measurements of height and weight are categorized as overweight or obese, a new randomized control trial found.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted the 12-week study, published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology.

"Previous work has shown that individuals with overweight and obesity are at higher risk for cognitive decline and dementia in older age," said kinesiology and community health professor Naiman Khan, who led the study. "We are interested in whether dietary approaches may have benefits for cognitive health, especially in midlife."

The Hass Avocado Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported this work.


Under Pressure, Bayer Halts Baby Aspirin False Advertising

New thinking on aspirin and heart disease
Image result for bayer baby aspirinTHE LARGE RED-AND-WHITE bins at Walmart pharmacies across the country read, in bold all-caps type: “Approximately every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack.”

Inside the 3-foot-tall cartons, adorned with the American Heart Association and Bayer logos, were dozens of boxes of low-dose Bayer aspirin.

The implication was that everyone could reduce their heart attack risk by taking a “baby aspirin.” But recent studies have found that’s not the case.

In fact, the American Heart Association says that although aspirin can help people with previous heart attacks or strokes, its risks generally outweigh the benefits for others.

After Kaiser Health News inquired about the marketing bins, the heart association in late February said it is having Bayer, one of its major donors, pull them from Walmart — although the campaign was due to wrap up by the end of the month, anyway. But 10 days later, a reporter shopping at a Walmart in Florida found a bin still on display.

About a quarter of Walmart stores nationwide displayed the bins, the association said.

“This was a misstep,” said Suzanne Grant, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “It was a human error on our end.”


Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Coronavirus Testing Paradox

Shortage of test kits, equipment creates public health dilemma
By Stephen Engelberg for ProPublica

Image result for coronavirus testing
This photo explains the problem in a nutshell. Not only are there not
enough kits to meet demand, but the facemask, gown and gloves this
health worker wears are also in short supply. Note that she is not wearing
a face shield even though her eyes are a major route of exposure.
(Photo from KTAR.com)
There’s a seeming paradox in experts’ advice on testing people for COVID-19. A growing number of epidemiologists are calling for a nationwide regimen of tests to identify hot spots and allow public health workers to isolate the close contacts of anyone who’s infected.

Yet New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., has ordered doctors not to test anyone who is “mild to moderately ill” with COVID-like symptoms, a position also taken by Los Angeles.

As New York’s Health Department succinctly put it: “Outpatient testing must not be encouraged, promoted or advertised.”

Dr. Tom Frieden, former health commissioner of New York City and former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said both viewpoints make sense.

“Where you stand depends on where you sit,” Frieden said. “Local context is all important. In New York City, today, you should not get tested if you have mild symptoms.”

The reason, he said, is that the health care systems in places like New York, Los Angeles and Seattle are about to be overwhelmed by a wave of people seriously ill from COVID-19. They know it’s coming.

Administering each test takes up protective gear, swabs and health care workers’ time, all of which should be reserved for patients with life-threatening conditions. On Monday, for instance, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital reported that it had more than 600 patients with COVID-19.

Conversely, Frieden and other experts pointed out, the United States will need to pursue a policy of very broad testing if it hopes to slow the spread of the disease and restart parts of the economy anytime soon.