Risking our lives to save his own

As of today, there are 53,740 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, of which, 1,700 are here in Michigan. Here’s our current trajectory, based on the data.

One would hope that, with about half U.S. states now under some form of lockdown, and testing finally starting to ramp up, we may eventually, over the next several weeks, begin to see the number of newly diagnosed cases start to plateau. For now, though, we’re just experiencing exponential growth. And the deaths are beginning to add up.

In spite of this, however, the President of the United States — anxious to get the stock market pumping again — has indicated that he’d like to see our lockdowns come to an end as soon as possible.

Yesterday, Donald Trump said, “If it were up to the doctors, they may say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world. You can’t do that with a country.” He went on to elaborate, adding, “We’re going to be opening our country up for business because our country was meant to be open.” And, he went on to say, we’re talking about doing this in weeks, and not months.

Well, today, he set Easter as his goal — something which, given the extent to which this virus has already spread, and the fact that those infected could take as long as 14 days before falling victim to it, seems highly irresponsible. Of course, all of this is academic, seeing as how it was the governors of America, and not Donald Trump, who shut things down in response to this public health emergency, and it’s unclear what power Donald Trump has to reverse it, if said governors are still committed to following the advice of public health officials in their states. But one can be sure that the White House, as the days and weeks roll on, will be pushing more aggressively to renormalize things, even if it means putting a significant number of Americans at risk.

Here, speaking of what the professionals think, is a March 20 quote from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, (it’s) at least going to be several weeks,” he said. “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that.

Easter, by the way, is now just a little over two weeks away, on April 12.

As for why Trump would rush to open before public health officials are ready to do so, I suspect he knows that, the longer we’re under lockdown, and voters are reminded of his colossal failure to protect the American people, the worse things look for him going into the November election. Some, however, are also pointing out that he may have a personal interest in opening things back up, in that six of his company’s top seven revenue-producing hotels and clubs have been shut down in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, costing him millions.

Regardless of his motivation, it would appear as though he intends to try his best, in the absence of any scientific evidence to support his position, to bring us all back out of our homes. And, it would appear that some Republicans, like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick are ready to support him. Patrick, yesterday, made the case that the patriotic, stock exchange-loving grandparents of America would be happy to die in order to save the economy.

So, are you willing to sacrifice your parents, grandparents, and friends with chronic lung issues because Donald Trump wants to get this behind us, and give the impression that things are once again back to normal?

update: Trump says that it’s not public health that we’re concerned about. He says that people only want to keep society shutdown during the crisis in order to hurt him.

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  1. Sad
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Michigan has surged into 4th in number of cases.

    By tomorrow we might pass Washington and California.

  2. iRobert
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    I’m willing to let the state of Texas return to normal business immediately, and all the Trump supporters can relocate there so they can prosper.

  3. Abdul El-Sayed by proxy
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    It’s not the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the train.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    In Russia, coronavirus cases are very low. There appears to also be a mysterious spike in cases of pneumonia. The big bump in Washtenaw County is because Michigan just started testing in house as there is a delay of days for state or commercial lab testing unless you have a special arrangement with them. The real number to follow is number of patients hospitalized for pneumonia, and the number of patients on ventilators.

  5. John Brown
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Trump is Moloch. String him up.

  6. Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Agreed, Anonymous. The more meaningful metrics now are hospital admissions and ventilator capacity. I’ve read that we have approximately 1,000 ventilator in the state. I assume that some will be coming in from the federal stockpile, but I haven’t heard any confirmation about that yet. One wonders at what point our existing capacity will be maxed out.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    #EasterMassacre is trending.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    He only cares about the stock market. If he had any sense at all he’d know the stock market isn’t going to fare well in a pandemic no matter how it’s handled. Especially since he waited a couple of months to take is seriously.

    What’s interesting to me is that anyone could imagine the stock market doing well under this global pandemic scenario. There’s almost no area for profit-taking. I guess the very idea that the stock market should hold value in this situation demonstrates how much our governance has been dedicated to propping up the market and shareholders over all other economic concerns for the last 40 years. We have a really lopsided economy. One of my few hopes for this thing is that we will learn that we can bolster the economy in other areas and get better results.

    Small, independent business employs 50% of the population with extremely limited access to capital and even slimmer margins (at least for storefront retail). It’s perilous in ways that few understand. In recessions, small businesses have received no assistance. They are expected to muddle through. This happens at great cost to the workers employed there, suppressing wages and business growth and making benefits almost impossible to afford. They are treated by the government and the politically engaged public as though they are no different than large corporations with access to investors etc. They are expected to be able to afford health care insurance for staff and pay a living wage and keep prices low and pay escalating rents and grow and adapt. And many do because they love what they do and they are scrappy, but most small business owners also do so at sacrifice to any wealth/equity building.

    I compare big, investor-supported business to a person with a trust fund and small business to a person living paycheck to paycheck in terms of capacity to survive this. There will be mass catastrophic failure of small retail businesses without a bailout that helps them stay afloat AND pay workers during the shutdown. Which it sounds like may happen at the federal level. This will be the first time government at any level has done much of anything to support small businesses other than use them as an argument for cutting taxes.

    I’m hoping the value of small business and the support it needs to function and pay properly will become more clear. I feel the same way about social safety net protections for individuals. It’s time. The economic argument for these supports is sound.

  9. Bob
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Sounding dangerously close to populism there. JW

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Bob– you don’t actually know what populism is.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I’m seeing a lot of carping on twitter about how there isn’t enough money for workers.

    Just to be clear, the funds going for loans to small businesses that are used to pay wages to workers in the shut down will be forgiven. They are a retroactive grant. Or at least that was the last version I heard about (I don’t yet have confirmation that the final bill has that program)

    Why did they run it through the SBA? So failing businesses would not qualify and be propped up. Workers whose businesses do not qualify for the loans will get unemployment insurance, which in MI is a really small amount relative to other places. We need to fix that.

  12. iRobert
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    The Trump supporters aren’t here defending their hero against all this nasty slander from Mark. Hopefully they’re packing for their move to the free economic zone of Texas, where they can frolic in bliss.

  13. Lynne
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I am very worried about all of the closed bookstores which totally fall into that small business with tight margins model. Even Powells with its 400+ employees is having trouble. By that I mean that they have closed their stores and laid off most of their staff. They were one of the stores giving health insurance too so now all those employees are losing that too!

    Litarati is smart though and they are using the good will they have created in the community for a GoFundMe which has so far raised almost $100k but that is the only way they are going to be able to keep employees on the payroll with health insurance. The thing is, a charity model like that will only work in affluent areas. I don’t expect most retail stores to be as fortunate.

  14. Demetrius
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Trump’s bleating about “unlocking” the economy in time for Easter is insane, of course, and goes against all expert opinion (and the reality on the ground) … but there is also some truth to the idea that the longer we stay locked down, the greater the collateral damage will be.

    The longer the shutdown goes on – the more businesses will fail, the more workers end up getting fired (vs. merely laid off), the more people will begin to lose their homes, their retirements, etc. Consequently, it isn’t unreasonable to expect that rates of depression, heart disease, divorce, suicides, etc. would increase, as well. (Not to mention – crops still need to be planted and harvested, infrastructure still needs to be maintained, etc.)

    It is clear we need to keep things locked down as much as possible for now, at least until we can “bend the curve,” and begin to see infections (and deaths) begin to fall. But, I don’t suspect we’ll be able to wait until the crisis is totally over (when we have a vaccine, cure, or genuinely effective treatments) to begin re-starting some key economic activities.

    Trump’s rantings aside … at some point, leaders are going to have to make some very difficult choices involving some potentially very painful trade-offs.

  15. Lynne
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the costs of the lockdown need to be weighed but will point out that our government *could* mitigate that damage with better payments to those at the bottom. Our government *could* prop up small businesses and let large corporations fail.

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Lynne— There is no way go fund mes are adequate. And people who can not afford to support them now are feeling obligated to do so.
    The federal stimulus plan has wage supports for small businesses. There is no reason whatsoever to support go fund mes for anything more than immediate short term business needs. A few businesses won’t qualify for the federal aid. I would caution everyone to save their charitable giving for those businesses or for groups that serve the many other people who fall through the cracks— especially undocumented workers.

    I understand that small businesses are unaccustomed to getting any kind of assistance but this situation is novel. They literally need to wait a day or two to apply.

    If they want to get ahead of the curve they can apply for existing SBA emergency loans and get in the system. Info on doing that here:

  17. Demetrius
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I also think the current plan to send money to every American (whether they need it or not) is completely crazy.

    For example, I’m still working, and expect to be for some time. (If anything, my workload has exploded). I’d much rather see these payments be more carefully targeted to those who’ll be losing their jobs, to small business owners trying to avoid bankruptcy, etc.

    I’d also like to see some of it going to buy (or produce) COVID-19 testing supplies, and protective equipment needed by front-line healthcare providers.

  18. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    This was fascinating. A peek into how conspiracists are lobbing our pet theories to both diminish the pandemic and explain it while always always propping up Trump naturally— and seeing which sticks. HW has put forward hints of most of the positions here. It’s clear he hasn’t settled on his tack yet. Maybe he’s waiting for the dust to settle and a winner theory to emerge. Because he’s an independent thinker.


  19. Lynne
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    JH, GoFundMe campaigns can be adequate for some businesses. Literati just raised $102k and that is really going to help them keep their employees on during this! It is true though that many businesses are not as beloved by rich people as bookstores in affluent communities are so yes, GoFundMe is not an adequate solution for small businesses in the same way that it is not an adequate solution for medical expenses even though it does work for those in affluent communities.

  20. Lynne
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Demitrius, sending to everyone reduces a lot of overhead and reduces the time it will take to get money into people’s hands. Also, I think part of the point is to stimulate the economy and not just help those who have lost their jobs. The money going to unemployment insurance is to help those who have lost their jobs. If you feel bad that you are getting the money you think should go to someone needier, donate it to them! I am thinking that I might donate it to some GoFundMe for a business I like so they can stay in business. Selfish motivation I know but still helpful I think!

  21. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I really feel like everyone should take a breather on their economic catastrophizing and pat assumptions and look at the stimulus package because honestly, I have never seen anything like this before.

    I’m not saying there isn’t a huge corporate bailout but there are also other economic levers being pulled.

    And Lynne is right, means testing is way to much work for too little reward. Almost all of that $$ will go back into the economy right away. The vast majority of people need it right now.

  22. Demetrius
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    @ Lynne – What do you think it would take to start a movement asking people (who feel they are able to do so) to pledge all or part of their $1,200 payment to help others who need this help more?

    People could pledge to whatever (whomever) they think could use the help most right now– unemployed friends and neighbors, small businesses, healthcare workers, etc. … the important thing would be the “stories” – demonstrating how people are deciding to share, and why. Ideally, there would a”challenge” element. I’m thinking of stunts like “Ice Bucket,” etc.)


    Mark – what do you think?

  23. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Summary of the stimulus bill here:

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    My parents always donated back their Bush and Reagan era tax cuts. It’s pretty easy to figure out who are the least served in our country. Native people, undocumented immigrants, Black Americans, the unhoused and the unemployed, who are often the untreated mentally ill.

  25. Lynne
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    @Demitrius I think that is a fabulous idea! I suspect that just getting people to make tik toc videos and memes would go a long way!

  26. Germerican by proxy
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Why does Trump need to open up the country before Easter? – Easter is the biggest payday for churches. You REALLY don’t wanna piss off Evangelical preachers, who need to finance their next Lear Jet and buy another Rolex so they have one for each day of the week.


  27. Posted March 26, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    The Democratic Party is running some “nasty” ads which use recordings of Trumps statements regarding the COVID-19 virus. They’re nasty people.


  28. iRobert
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I seem to have the virus. I’m convinced it’s the COVID-19 virus because it’s such a tricky one. My symptoms have been changing daily, and coming and going without much warning. It seems unpredictable and volatile.

  29. iRobert
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    This morning the virus was threatening my breathing. But now it’s mostly swelling up one lymph gland in my neck, giving me a mild headache, and messing with my inner ear and gums. From what I’ve read and hear of others who have had the virus, it’s likely going to make another attack on my lungs. I hope it doesn’t happen too fast, as I’ve heard some horror stories about that.

  30. iRobert
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t been tested, and I wouldn’t qualify. I’ve only had mild fever and for short periods of time.

    Is anybody else here experiencing this stuff?

  31. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink


    Do you need help with supplies?

  32. Lynne
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    iRobert. I am so sorry. I hope it is just a regular cold or that you have mild symptoms.

    My worry now is that the eldest child here returned from UC Berkeley and then developed symptoms. She has been tested though and we are keeping her away from everyone while we wait for the results. These are indeed scary times.

    I am hoping that things will get better by the end of April so I can return to Michigan. Luckily I can stay here for as long as is needed.

  33. iRobert
    Posted March 26, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m good with supplies, FF. Thanks. Family and friends have delivered a bunch of stuff in the last couple days. I’ve resigned to just sleeping most of the time now.

    I kind of hope it’s a regular cold too, Lynne. But then that would make me worry that I’m still eventually going to get the scary one. If the symptoms stay this mild, I think I’d prefer this is the scary one.

  34. iRobert
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    I woke up this morning with only a very mild congestion. Swelling in the lymph gland on the left side of my neck has gone down, but it’s still a little sore. My gums on the left side are sore and swollen a bit now. The headache has subsided quite a bit.

    I leave the window open and the fresh air seems to have helped a lot. I’ve never breathed such fresh air here in southeast Michigan. With almost all the factories shut down, and the reduction of air and automobile traffic to a very small fraction of usual levels, the air around here reminds me of the air in the mountains of Montana. I urge everyone to get out into the yard as much as possible. Maybe do some gardening. Get out into the sun. Direct sunlight helps the body’s immune response systems. Sunlight is also a natural sterilizer.

  35. iRobert
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    I meant to say direct sunlight is a natural sanitizer.

    I wanted to also mention to folks here that you should handle getting your mail with the same kinds of precautions as you are hopefully handling any deliveries. Don’t touch things with your bare hands when it’s not necessary. Most mail is garbage anyway, so just set it aside somewhere for a while.

  36. iRobert
    Posted March 29, 2020 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    It’s my understanding that there are indications that the COVID-19 virus has the characteristics which suggest it is seasonal. This may help flatten the curve for this spring and summer. But it will also mean the virus will have another surge when the temperatures drop again in autumn and winter.

    This will give Trump and his administration another chance to try to get ahead and on top of this situation. I think it’s in everyone’s interest that they do.

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  1. […] to analyze and integrate data,” that maybe, when it comes time to talk him out of reopening the economy on Easter over the objections of the scientific community, that he might actually listen. That’s never […]

  2. […] by then, has started to push the idea of reopening the economy hard. First, as you may recall, he was talking about reopening things by Easter. Now, the target is apparently May 1. And he’s assembled the group that he says will make the […]

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