Wollery good. Fauci bad.

Today, the President of the United States shared a tweet claiming that the CDC and other public health officials are “lying” about COVID-19 in order to hurt his chances of winning reelection. It wasn’t clear from the tweet, which was authored by second-rate conservative conspiracy theorist Chuck Wollery, the former host of the syndicated daytime gameshow Love Connection and co-author of the 1968’s execrable “Naturally Stoned,” what exactly these scientists have been lying about, but I don’t suppose that really matters to Trump’s followers. [Is COVID-19 not really contagious? Are people not really dying from COVID-19? Is it the masks that are killing us?]

But that’s not the worst of it. Not only is Trump sharing harmful conspiracy theories about public health officials “lying” in relation to COVID-19, at a time when, one would think, he should be encouraging everyone in the country to follow the guidance of our contagious disease experts. [Remember, 138,247 Americans have already lost their lives to COVID-19, and new cases are spiking across the country.] But, at the same time, he’s apparently given the word to White House staff to start questioning the competence of the nation’s foremost authority on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

It would appear as though, over the past few days, several members of the White House staff have been reaching out to members of the press in what seems to be a coordinated attack against Fauci. Here are just a few of those instances that have been recorded thus far. As for why this is happening, one can only assume the Donald Trump has decided that Fauci should take the blame for his own incompetence. [Make no mistake, this is more about Donald Trump’s self-preservation that it is about the health and wellbeing of the American people, and always has been.]

As Senator Chris Murphy said, having “White House staff sending reporters opposition research on their own top infectious disease doctor in the middle of a worsening pandemic that has already killed 130,000,” is “nuclear grade bananas.” But that’s where we are, my fellow Americans. Instead of expending effort to stop the spread of this disease, and urging every American to wear a mask, the White House is mobilizing against its own top infectious disease expert — a move that will undoubtedly lead the deaths of more Americans.

When asked about all of this today, Ben Sommers, a doctor who teaches public health at Harvard, had the following to say. “When the president is calling the guidance wrong and endorsing the view that these public health experts are lying, it makes it incredibly difficult for the public to know what to do,” he told The Washington Post. “It erodes the long-term ability of our government to provide one of its basic goals which is to protect the public safety.”

Nuclear grade bananas indeed.

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Florida ramps up the negligent homicide bodycount in the run-up to the GOP convention

In early June, North Carolina officials informed the Republican Party that, given the COVID-19 pandemic, they would be requiring those attending the GOP convention, which had been scheduled to start August 24 in Charlotte, to follow certain public health safeguards. This apparently did not sit well with Donald Trump, who, according to multiple sources, told North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, “I don’t want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty.” And, with that, the administration began looking for a venue that would allow them to hold their convention in a packed arena, without any consideration of social distancing. Ultimately, the GOP decided to hold their event in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis, an ardent Trump supporter, was steadfastly refusing to consider the scientific evidence and issue a shelter-in-place order. Here’s DeSantis in April bragging about how he’d handled the pandemic so much better than his Democratic counterparts by essentially doing nothing.

Well, here were are, five weeks out from the Republican National Convention is Jacksonville, and Florida just broke a new record, confirming 15,300 coronavirus cases in one day. That’s the highest single day increase any state has seen since the onset of the pandemic. [New York hit their peak of 12,274 cases on April 4.]

In spite of this, DeSantis is still refusing to make mask wearing mandatory in public spaces. Not only that, but he’s still pushing to open Florida’s schools next month. This morning, he said, “If you can do Walmart,” then “we absolutely can do schools”, apparently not understanding the difference between stopping by a near-empty hardware store to pick up a gallon of paint, and sitting in an overcrowded classroom of coughing, mask-less first-graders for 40 hours a week.

Speaking of reopening schools, here’s Michigan’s Betsy DeVos attempting to answer why she’s mandating that schools reopen in fall when no federal action has yet to be taken to prepare them, and Nancy Pelosi responding that DeVos is guilty of “malfeasance and dereliction of duty.”

So, shall we start an office pool and try to guess how many public schools Betsy DeVos will visit during once they start opening back up? My guess is zero.

As for the image at the top of the post, it took over 125 days, and 137,782 dead Americans, but Donald Trump finally did the right thing, followed the advice of public health officials, and did what any real leader would have done from the outset. He put on a fucking mask, like an adult. Had it happened earlier in the spring, when he was instead encouraging his followers to “liberate” their states from those seeking to save their lives, it might have made a difference. As it is, it’s probably too late.

update: Oh, and here’s what DeSantis looks like today.

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Thankfully, while the President of the United Stated is focused on getting his co-conspirators out of jail, we have a Governor in Michigan that’s putting the health and safety of our people first

Gretchen Whitmer joins the governors of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington in making mask-wearing mandatory.

Today, as Donald “the most innocent man in the history of the United States” Trump was commuting the sentence of convicted criminal Roger Stone, our Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, was focused on the health and safety of her constituents, signing into law executive order 2020-147, which “reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space… requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces… (and) requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.”

Talking about the executive order on Twitter today, Whitmer said, “The heroes on the front lines of this crisis have gone hours without taking their masks off every day – doctors, nurses, child care workers, grocery store workers. We owe it to them to wear our masks when we’re on a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends, and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19. And by wearing masks now, we can put our state in a stronger position so our kids can return to school safely in the fall.”

[note: The White House, which has been pushing for America’s children to return to school in spite of rising COVID-19 rates, agued today that Stone had to be released because he’d be at “medical risk” in prison due to the pandemic. Apparently we value the lives and safety of those who lie to federal agents more than we do our teachers and our children.]

Posted in Health, Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Trump threatens to cut funding for schools that don’t reopen

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rolled out a 9-page checklist for school districts, listing things that, in their judgment, would need to be done before schools could safely be reopened to children. These guidelines, in the words of CNN’s Ana Cabrera, encourage, among other things, “staggered scheduling, a back-up staffing plan, modified seating layouts to allow social distancing, physical barriers and closing of communal spaces.” In a more normal world, the President of the United States, desiring to keep our children safe, and slow the spread of a deadly infectious disease, would read something like this and make it his mission to ensure that every school in America was ready to meet the challenge as laid out by the CDC. That’s not what happened here, though. This morning, Donald Trump attacked the CDC for being “too tough,” and said that he’d withhold funding from any schools that didn’t open up to students at the start of the school year. [As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pointed out, Trump doesn’t have the authority to do so, but apparently he doesn’t know that.]

Why does Donald Trump, the leader of a country with over 3 million COVID-19 cases and 134,860 already dead, want to push our children back into schools that don’t meet the minimum basic public safety standards? One can only assume it’s because he thinks that it would be good for him, as he heads into this election season. It seems incredibly short sighted to me, given the risk for enormous outbreaks, but, then again, this is also the man that assured us that COVID-19 would just magically disappear, and that hydroxychloroquine would make us all impervious to the disease… Speaking of which, this thread from Dr. Eugene Gu, on why we shouldn’t trust Donald Trump’s judgement on this, was my favorite of the day.

Well, apparently Donald Trump’s bullying worked. According to Vice President Mike Pence, the CDC will be coming out with new guidance for schools next week — guidance which, he inferred, would make it easier for them to open next month. And all of this, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, is playing out as the number of infected in the United States continues to climb. [The newest University of Washington model is projecting 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in United States by November 1.]

When asked what specifically the administration would to do support schools to implement testing and contact tracking protocols, Pence told members of the press, “The plan is to continue to do what we have done from the very beginning“… apparently unaware that what they’d done from the very beginning has given us over 3 million COVID-19 cases and 134,860 dead.

Oh, and Pence, when asked what public health professionals he was conferring with on the reopening our schools, had the following to say. “The best expert I know on this topic is my wife, Karen,” he said.

And yet somehow, in spite all of this, we continue to listen as Trump and his administration officials speak. In spite of the mass graves, and the growing number of cases, we continue to pretend as though this administration is legitimate. It’s completely surreal. One minute this morning, Dr. Deborah Birx was warning against indoor gatherings, given the fact that COVID-19 cases are exploding in places like Texas and Florida, and the very next, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was standing at her side, explaining that we’ll all be sending our kids back into packed classrooms in a month’s time. [“It’s not a matter of if schools reopen,” DeVos said. “It’s simply a matter of how. They must reopen and they must be fully operational.”]

For what it’s worth, Donald Trump seems to think that public health officials in his government are purposely making it difficult for schools to open in order to hurt him. [Everything’s about him.] As he said yesterday on Twitter, “corrupt Joe Biden and the Democrats” are refusing to open schools this fall “for political reasons, not for health reasons.” It’s as though he’s completely incapable of accepting the fact that some people are legitimately concerned about putting an entire generation of Americans into old, poorly ventilated, incredibly overcrowded school buildings during a public health crisis.

And, of course, Trump has no plan to get our schools open safely. He’s not capable of planning, just bullying those who do.

As for our plans here in Michigan, Governor Whitmer just released what she’s calling the MI Safe Schools: Return to School Roadmap, which says, among other things, that schools won’t open for in-person instruction until “the number of new cases and deaths has fallen for a period of time,” and mandates that all teachers and students from 6th to 12th grade, wear masks. Whitmer also issued an executive order recently requiring that all school districts in Michigan submit plans detailing how they they intend to implement her previous mentioned reopening guidelines, and saying that an additional $256 million would be allocated to schools to cover the costs of hand sanitizer, masks, and other related supplies. Is it sufficient? Probably not. But at least we’re having a real dialogue in this state about what’s needed to responsibly open schools, and not just yelling about how “corrupt Joe Biden” wants to keep schools closed to hurt Donald Trump at the polls, which is absolute lunacy.

One last thing…. Here’s my second favorite tweet of the day.

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Whitmer says that she’s “prepared to take heat” and impose new restrictions if COVID-19 cases keep rising

While things aren’t as bad as they were a few months ago, when we were the fourth worst state in the nation relative to the spread of COVID-19, the curve here in Michigan has started to turn in the wrong direction over the past several days, and public health officials are becoming concerned. 454 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Michigan today, and another 10 people have lost their lives. [We’ve lost at least 6,005 people to the infectious respiratory disease since March.] And, as a result, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is talking about the possibility of imposing new resections.

“We’re going to continue to monitor the numbers,” the Governor said earlier today. “If they keep moving up, we’re going to dial back if we have to. That’s the last thing any of us want. I’ve got to tell you: I want to reengage this economy more than anyone, but I’m not going to do it if it is too risky to do so, and that’s why we’re seeing focus on the epidemiology. I’m not going to be bullied into moving before it’s safe, and if we have to move back, we’re going to.”

Whitmer went on to say, “We’ve done an incredible amount of work, and I would hate to think that this sacrifice that we have made would be made in vain because some people are losing interest or are dropping their guard. We’ve got to double down right now more than ever.”

And she reiterated this message on social media, again urging people to act responsibly, wear their masks, and not forget what’s at stake, using the current situation in Texas as example of what might happen if we stop taking this seriously.

Whitmer, for it’s worth, is absolutely right to warn that another shutdown may be in our future if we can’t get our shit together. As we’ve seen firsthand here in Ypsilanti, not every business owner took the responsibility of reopening seriously, and, as a result, things have started to move in the wrong direction, with more people — especially those between 20 and 29 years of age — becoming infected. [Almost 25% of COVID diagnoses in June were for people in the 20 to 29 age group. In May, this group represented just about 16% of the total.] Here in Michigan, we’ve already had to step back in and re-close bars in six of the state’s geographical regions, but it’s likely just a matter of time before other steps are taken to reemphasize social distancing.

Had we acted responsibly, gyms and theaters would probably be open right now, but, instead, we’re talking about moving back in the other direction, toward lockdown… and all because people can’t seem to be bothered to stay out of enclosed spaces, and wear their masks when in-doors. Instead though, many of us here in Michigan are focusing their energy on stopping our Governor from doing her job. Today, for instance, a group calling itself Unlock Michigan, got approval to launch a petition drive aimed at repealing a 1945 emergency powers law that has enabled Whitmer to take the public health actions noted above. [The 1945 legislation is titled, Emergency Powers of Governor Act.] GOP activist Fred Wszolek, who serves as spokesperson for the organization, said today that Whitmer no longer needs the power as, “the emergency has long since stopped.”

This, of course, is totally bullshit. The emergency has not stopped, and we have every reason to believe that it’s going to get worse over the coming months. But this is what we’re up against… I have no idea who is funding Unlock Michigan, but, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably not food workers, grocery employees, teachers and others who are being put in positions where they’re being forced to put their lives at risk. No, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that. the organization is being bankrolled by business owners who want to see the economy reopened with no consideration whatsoever to public health. And, of course, they hate the fact that Whitmer, unlike her predecessor, actually appears to have a spine, at the best interest of Michiganders at heart.

Posted in Health, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

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