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Dr. Trump thinks he’s discovered a new cure

It’s a good thing that he’s such a stable genius who is out there pushing the latest unproven cure for the coronavirus against the advice of all the health experts or a whole bunch of people would be dying:

The Trump administration is encouraging regulators to allow a decades-old flu drug to be administered as a possible coronavirus treatment, despite career officials’ concerns about the risks and limited evidence that the drug would work as a coronavirus treatment, according to three officials with knowledge of the deliberations and internal documents reviewed by POLITICO.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has championed the drug, Avigan, as a possible treatment, and clinical trials are now getting underway in Japan. Chinese scientists also have touted the drug, produced by Japan-based Fujifilm, as a potential coronavirus treatment, but global regulators and U.S. researchers have long expressed concern about the drug’s risks, such as birth defects, and have warned that the Chinese data is insufficient.

However, President Donald Trump has embraced a series of unproven drugs as possible coronavirus cures, saying that he has a hunch about anti-malaria drugs that the Food and Drug Administration rushed to authorize for emergency use this week despite scant evidence. Trump also has repeatedly discussed his efforts to encourage FDA approvals of drugs and devices this month, challenging FDA’s long-held stance as an apolitical, science-driven agency.

This ignorant insistence on spreading false hope and corrupting the scientific response based upon some fucking phone calls and Fox News morons may be the worst thing this ignorant monster has done in this whole thing. Pushing the “cure” is the way he thinks he will “win” by showing his cult that he’s a magical genius who saved the world.

I guess there’s nothing we can do about this stuff. The best we can hope for is that he doesn’t interfere too much with the people who are trying to save lives and lets the epidemiologists continue to issue the guidance that might flatten the curve. As for the rest, he’s going to keep using up valuable resources and wasting massive amounts of time. God, the energy it takes to keep this moron happy …

I didn’t think I could be shocked by him anymore but I confess that I didn’t see this one coming. Insisting that doctors use unproven cures based upon nothing more than his “feeling” (and juvenile belief that he can sell himself as the man who saved world ) really takes the cake.

What is this “testing” you speak of?

He’s very busy tweeting about Harry and Megan and going on Fox and Friends and slandering everyone in sight so he doesn’t have time to keep up with what’s happening with the epidemic currently sweeping through the American population:

Several rural-state governors alerted President Trump on Monday that they are struggling to obtain urgently needed medical supplies and testing equipment, warning that despite the worsening coronavirus situation in New York and other urban areas, more sparsely populated parts of the country need help, too. 

In response to requests for more testing kits, Mr. Trump said, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks,” according to an audio recording of the call between the president and governors obtained by CBS News. 

During the call, which lasted a little over an hour, Democratic and Republican governors detailed how they are struggling to obtain the protective equipment doctors and nurses will need to treat the sick and the test kits needed to determine whether sick residents are suffering from COVID-19.

“We understand the challenges in New York. I have family in New York,” Wyoming Republican Governor Mark Gordon told the president. But, he told Mr. Trump, “I think a little bit of supply going our way could get us better prepared going forward.” “Good point,” Mr. Trump replied. “Thank you very much, Mark. If you have a problem, call me. I’ll get you what you need.”

CBS News obtained a recording of the call from a participant shortly after it concluded. Others familiar with the call confirmed some of the details.

Mr. Trump was joined on the call by Vice President Pence, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of allergy and infectious diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, who is leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force.


Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards told the president that New Orleans plans to establish a 1,250-bed field hospital at the New Orleans convention center by Sunday, with the option to add 1,000 beds the following week.

“We’re having a really hard time getting the ventilators that we need,” Edwards said. “We’re pursuing every angle that we have, including requests from the [national] stockpile. We know that testing continues to be an issue, especially the test collection kits. Although this is getting better.”

Responding to Edwards, Trump said, “we’re going to have some additional ventilators coming.”

But other governors warned there are far broader concerns to come.

Montana Democratic Governor Steve Bullock noted that delays in testing state residents could soon overwhelm hospitals in rural population centers and griped that his buying power has been repeatedly “trumped” by the federal government, a far larger customer for supplies and equipment.

“I could give four or five examples over the last week where we have supply orders, and they’ve subsequently been cancelled, and they’re canceled in part because what our suppliers are saying is that federal resources are requesting it and trumping that,” Bullock said.

Bullock also warned “we’re going to have some real problems” across smaller rural states if they cannot soon obtain the necessary testing equipment. He cited Gallatin County, which encompasses Bozeman, as a population center that is seeing a growing infection rate.

“So we’re trying to shift the supplies to really isolate that and do contact tracing, but we don’t even have enough supplies to do the testing,” Bullock said.

Mr. Trump replied, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks. We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world. We’ve got these great tests and we’ll come out with another one tomorrow that’s, you know, almost instantaneous testing. But I haven’t heard anything about testing being a problem.”

Admiral Brett Giroir, head of the Public Health Service and overseeing the push to distribute coronavirus test kits, interjected, explaining that the federal government is purchasing for each state at least 15 recently approved test kits that can confirm a coronavirus diagnosis within four minutes.

“We’re going to get that to your state lab as soon as possible,” Giroir said.

Marissa Perry, Bullock’s communications director, said that Montana has received just 16% of the personal protective equipment it has requested from the national stockpile. “The state has been actively pursuing every avenue available for more supplies, including on the open market, but in many instances supply orders from the private market have been cancelled,” she said in an email.

Later in the call, New Mexico Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham flagged “incredible spikes” of infection in the Navajo Nation and said that her team is emphasizing contact tracing and infection surveillance near two federal nuclear laboratories in her state.

“If we don’t get that under containment and really be clear about surveillance, I think we have some significant national security issues,” Lujan Grisham warned. 

“We’re seeing incredible spikes in the Navajo Nation, and this is going to be an issue where we’re going to have to figure that out and think about maybe testing and surveillance opportunities,” she added later. “The rate of infection, at least on the New Mexico side — although we’ve got several Arizona residents in our hospitals — we’re seeing a much higher hospital rate, a much younger hospital rate, a much quicker go-right-to-the-vent rate for this population. And we’re seeing doubling in every day-and-a-half.”

“Wow. That’s something,” the president replied.

Anyone want to bet that he calls out Bullock in today’s Coronavirus Campaign Rally? Lujan too — she’s a Latina.

He’s spending all his time wanking with Fox news and fielding calls from his buddies and celebrities he’s always wanted to be friends with looking for special deals so he has very little time for anything else.

About that ludicrous impeachment excuse

Trump ‘s henchmen have been circulating yet another whiny excuse for why Dear Leader has botched the pandemic response so badly: it’s the Democrats’ fault for distracting poor Trump with impeachment back in January so he didn’t have enough time to deal with the impending pandemic. Seriously, they expect us to buy the fact that watching TV all day was so important that he couldn’t spare a moment to do the rest of his job. So none of this is his fault.

This op-ed in the Washington Post explains why the facts underlying Trump’s impeachment were actually a harbinger of his pathetic inability to handle a crisis:

This notion is so farcical that many Americans will rightly dismiss it out of hand (after all, we expect our presidents to be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time). But it’s not simply that impeachment didn’t distract Trump from coronavirus. Rather, impeachment indicated how he would respond, from his refusal to face facts, his abuse of public trust for private gain and his sidelining of actual government expertise in favor of outside channels. All of these traits were on vivid display during Trump’s impeachment, and all of it has defined his appalling response to the coronavirus — with deadly results.

Trump’s impeachment was triggered by his refusal to face facts. In fixating on Ukraine, Trump held doggedly to a conspiracy theory: that Ukraine was the source of interference in America’s 2016 election and the home of the servers containing Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails. That belief drove his effort to extort Ukraine to tarnish Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. That belief was utterly baseless, yet Trump clung to it, even after his first homeland security adviser told Trump repeatedly that the conspiracy theory had been “completely debunked.”

Similarly, in the face of World Health Organization projections, reports trickling out of China, and widespread coverage of mounting fatalities in Italy, Trump refused to face facts. On separate occasions, he claimed that the virus was “totally under control”; that the United States had “pretty much shut it down coming in from China”; that “within a couple of days” the outbreak in the United States “is going to be down close to zero”; and even that “we’re very close to a vaccine.” None of this was even close to true; but in much the same way his defiance of basic facts set in motion his impeachment, Trump insisted on it.

Trump was also impeached for using the federal government for personal gain rather than public interest, contrary to his oath of office. The whole point of Trump’s extortion of Ukraine was to withhold U.S. military aid and a White House meeting unless Ukraine would help Trump’s personal political fortunes by announcing a reopened investigation into Biden. Trump was, fundamentally, impeached for abusing public trust for private gain (and then covering it up).

That same instinct has been on display with the coronavirus. Trump’s impulse to protect his political standing rather than protect Americans’ lives burst into public view as he explained why he didn’t want Americans suffering from the coronavirus disembarking from a ship stuck in limbo off the California coast. Trump acknowledged that government experts “would like to have the people come off” but then explained why he disagreed: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.” For Trump, “the numbers” of infected on U.S. soil were all that mattered; he knew that coronavirus numbers would drive his own polling numbers — and, as with Ukraine, that was more important than America’s actual security. Just as Trump cared not about any actual re-investigation of Hunter Biden but about the announcement of a re-investigation, Trump cared not about the actual spread of the coronavirus but about the announcement of how much the virus was spreading.AD

Third, Trump’s impeachment was driven by his insistence on creating and then using irregular channels for running the federal government, even as he redirected that government’s actual mechanisms toward his own self-serving ends. So, as Trump relentlessly tried to extort Ukraine, he enlisted his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to do much of the dirty work, while also relying on trusted confidantes within government to bypass the career professionals. This was what former White House official Fiona Hill called in her impeachment testimony “a different channel in operation in relations to Ukraine, one that was domestic and political in nature.”

Trump and his team displayed the same hostility to actual government expertise in choosing to look elsewhere in belatedly trying to understand the coronavirus. There was no shortage of accurate information available on the virus from within the U.S. government — just look at how Anthony S. Fauci has become the essential voice for Americans from his perch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But Trump turned elsewhere: He tasked his unqualified son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who in turn asked his brother’s wife’s father, Kurt Kloss, to find some coronavirus information. Kloss, in turn, asked for help from a Facebook group. It’s an absurd sequence that makes sense only when one remembers that Trump distrusts and seeks to sideline genuine government expertise — just as he did on Ukraine policy.

Just as Trump was warned by his own intelligence agencies about the danger posed by pandemics and indeed by the coronavirus specifically, the U.S. Senate was, through impeachment, warned about Trump and his abuse of power. It’s insufficient to laugh off the notion that Trump’s impeachment somehow excuses his atrocious performance in the face of coronavirus. It’s more profound: Trump’s impeachment foreshadowed precisely this failure. Now, we’re all stuck with the choice the Senate made — with life-or-death consequences.

If the Republican Party hadn’t been enabling this monster for the past three years and had put pressure on him to appoint competent people and let them do their jobs we might not be in this situation. Now they are desperately trying to excuse Trump’s monumental ineptitude — and their own irresponsibility.

I don’t know if they will be punished for this in November. But history will not be kind. Not that they care. As George W. Bush said, “history, I don’t know. We’ll all be dead.”

Which bad numbers?

In case you were wondering why he changed his mind…

 The numbers the health officials showed President Trump were overwhelming. With the peak of the coronavirus pandemic still weeks away, he was told, hundreds of thousands of Americans could face death if the country reopened too soon.

But there was another set of numbers that also helped persuade Mr. Trump to shift gears on Sunday and abandon his goal of restoring normal life by Easter. Political advisers described for him polling that showed that voters overwhelmingly preferred to keep containment measures in place over sending people back to work prematurely.

The article says he was equally concerned with the death projections as the polling. But I think we know what turned the tide, don’t we?

At Monday’s briefing, Mr. Trump recycled his line from a couple of weeks ago putting the virus ahead of the economy among his concerns. “The economy is No. 2 on my list,” he said. “First, I want to save a lot of lives.”

Indeed, he again accentuated the starkest projections given to him by public health officials, noting that more than two million Americans could have died in the absence of any measure, perhaps to set expectations so that any eventual death toll below that can be cast as a victory.

This is pretty obviously the case. I’m not sure everyone’s going to be all that relived if we only end up with 80 or 90 thousands deaths over the next few months. But I’m sure Trump will spin it as a huge accomplishment. In fact, he already is.

Trump’s erratic behavior over the course of the last month as the crisis grew and grew while he lurched from one message to another was apparently exacerbated by the fact that his stable genius had led him to fire his chief of staff without having his replacement ready to go in the midst of the greatest challenge of his presidency:

The president’s swerving messages came during a period when he had no fully installed White House chief of staff to guide him and run his operation. He fired Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, on March 6 and named Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a close Republican ally, to replace him. But Mr. Meadows waited more than three weeks to actually resign his House seat, making it official only at 5 p.m. Monday, and will formally start his new job on Tuesday.

In the interim, Mr. Meadows has been spotted in the West Wing and has attended meetings, but he has only begun to assemble his team, and many holdovers in the White House are nervous about job security as they try to focus on the virus. Michael McKenna, the deputy legislative director, resigned under pressure last week after being accused of making an offensive statement in what some saw as a precursor to a broader shake-up.

Mr. Meadows will bring with him Ben Williamson, his congressional chief of staff, and John C. Fleming, an assistant commerce secretary and Republican former congressman from Louisiana, both of whom will serve him as senior advisers. Other new hires are expected to follow.

Perfect. A bunch of right-wing newbies coming in, jockeying for power, cluelessly trying to find the light switches while the bodies are piling up. Excellent timing all around.

He’s quite a manager. No wonder he managed to go bankrupt in the casino business.

Managing us or managing the virus?

Lenawee, Mich. non-profit finds 16,000 N95 masks in warehouse

“When historians tally up the many missteps policymakers have made in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” Jeremy Howard, a distinguished research scientist at the University of San Francisco wrote Saturday, “the senseless and unscientific push for the general public to avoid wearing masks should be near the top. “

It may be moot now. Surgical and N95 masks are virtually unavailable for purchase. Communities are scrounging for them in basements, neglected warehouses, and cathedral crypts for donating to hospitals. People are sewing their own masks and donating them to healthcare workers despite advice from authorities against wearing masks in public to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Why, wearing them might even increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 if you are not a health care worker, Surgeon General Jerome Adams told “Fox & Friends” on March 2.

That “wisdom” is being challenged now, as the New York Times indicated on Saturday. Politico this morning adds to the sense that U.S. authorities trying to manage the pandemic are also trying to manage the public. To be sure, they are trying to reserve the scant supply for medical professionals. Perhaps they are also trying to cover for the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for and coordinate distribution of medical during the worsening pandemic:

But as the crisis has played out around the world and intensified in parts of the U.S., reasons have emerged to doubt the wisdom of this guidance, which ranks among the most forceful warnings against mask use by national health authorities anywhere and does not differentiate between medical-grade masks and simple cloth coverings. A number of societies where mask use is more widespread, and where mask shortages have been less severe, seem to have had more success containing the virus. Now, some health experts, who say there is no evidence for the claim that masks increase users’ risk of catching the virus, are calling for more widespread use of face coverings in the U.S.

“Guidance needs to change and needs to be clear that these nonmedical, nonsurgical masks are beneficial to the general public and should be worn when outside of the home,” said Robert Hecht, a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses: systematic review,” The British Medical Journal. 2008 Jan 12; 336(7635): 77–80.

The Centers for Disease Control told Politico it stands by existing guidelines that people who are well should not wear masks to prevent contracting the virus.

But extra measures might have kept more members of the Skagit Valley Chorale healthy. On March 10, sixty members showed up for scheduled practice in Mount Vernon, Wash. The first U.S. COVID-19 death had occurred on Feb. 29 in Seattle, an hour to the south. Arriving choir members used hand sanitizers and refrained from the usual hugs.

The L.A. Times report continues:

Nearly three weeks later, 45 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or ill with the symptoms, at least three have been hospitalized, and two are dead.

The outbreak has stunned county health officials, who have concluded that the virus was almost certainly transmitted through the air from one or more people without symptoms.

Perhaps existing guidelines are lacking, Politico’s report suggests:

The current federal guidance against wearing masks is at odds with that issued in many other parts of the world, such as the Czech Republic, Beijing and Shanghai, where mask use has been mandated for anyone going out in public. A number of East Asian societies, where mask use is widespread — such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore — have reported lower levels of infection than the U.S. has, despite being closer to the source of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. In Taiwan, where reported levels of infection are also relatively low, authorities have called for people to use face masks whenever they are in enclosed spaces, such as public transportation.

Some Western authorities and public health experts have also begun calling for more widespread use of face masks. On Monday, the government of Austria mandated the use of face masks for anyone entering a supermarket.

I did that for the first time when the neighborhood grocery opened at 7 a.m. Monday. I too found a box of long-expired masks (like those at the top) in the back of a linen closet.

Guess which countries emphasized wearing masks in public.

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For The Win, 3rd Edition is ready for download. Request a copy of my free countywide election mechanics guide at This is what winning looks like.
Note: The pandemic will upend standard field tactics in 2020. If enough promising “improvisations” come my way by June, perhaps I can issue a COVID-19 supplement.

They cut the budget for the national stockpile. THIS FEBRUARY.

This story in the Washington Post is crazy:

On Feb. 5, with fewer than a dozen confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the United States but tens of thousands around the globe, a shouting match broke out in the White House Situation Room between Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and an Office of Management and Budget official, according to three people aware of the outburst.

Azar had asked OMB that morning for $2 billion to buy respirator masks and other supplies for a depleted federal stockpile of emergency medical equipment, according to individuals familiar with the request, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about internal discussions.

The previously unreported argument turned on the request and on the budget official’s accusation that Azar had improperly lobbied Capitol Hill for money for the repository, which Azar denied, the individuals said.

The $2 billion request from HHS was cut to $500 million when the White House eventually sent Congress a supplemental budget request weeks later. White House budget officials now say the relief package enacted Friday secured $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile, more money than HHS had asked for

The dispute over funding highlights tensions over a repository straining under demands from state officials. States desperate for materials from the stockpile are encountering a beleaguered system beset by years of underfunding, changing lines of authority, confusion over the allocation of supplies and a lack of transparency from the administration, according to interviews with state and federal officials and public health experts.


Anecdotally, there are wide differences, and they do not appear to follow discernible political or geographic lines. Democratic-leaning Massachusetts, which has had a serious outbreak in Boston, has received 17 percent of the protective gear it requested, according to state leaders. Maine requested a half-million N95 specialized protective masks and received 25,558 — about 5 percent of what it sought. The shipment delivered to Colorado — 49,000 N95 masks, 115,000 surgical masks and other supplies — would be “enough for only one full day of statewide operations,” Rep. Scott R. Tipton (R-Colo.) told the White House in a letter several days ago.


Florida has been an exception in its dealings with the stockpile: The state submitted a request on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves, among other supplies — and received a shipment with everything three days later, according to figures from the state’s Division of Emergency Management. It received an identical shipment on March 23, according to the division, and is awaiting a third.

“The governor has spoken to the president daily, and the entire congressional delegation has been working as one for the betterment of the state of Florida,” said Jared Moskowitz, the emergency management division’s director. “We are leaving no stone unturned.”

President Trump repeatedly has warned states not to complain about how much they are receiving, including Friday during a White House briefing, where he advised Vice President Pence not to call governors who are critical of the administration’s response. “I want them to be appreciative,” he said.


In late 2018, the Trump administration transferred responsibility for managing the stockpile from the CDC to a different part of HHS — a controversial move resisted by the CDC that placed the stockpile under the assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR). According to current and former state and federal officials, the handover was bumpy.AD

The CDC still oversees clinical guidance to state health departments responding to public health threats, including infectious diseases. But the stockpile’s resources are now under ASPR.

“The transition has been difficult because the left hand is not talking to the right hand,” said one state health official with more than a decade of experience in emergency preparedness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he needs to maintain relations with ASPR.

HHS officials have sparred for more than a year with White House budget officials over money to buy more stockpile supplies.

In February 2019, the White House was planning for a presidential executive order on preparing for a potential flu pandemic. HHS requested a more than $11 billion investment over 10 years for ASPR, including $2.7 billion for “treatment and control,” according to a document read by a Washington Post reporter that said some of those funds would go toward “better protective devices, manufactured faster.”

But the executive order issued by Trump in September 2019 did not include that money.

In late January, Azar began telling OMB about the need for a supplemental budget request for stockpile supplies — and was rebuffed at a time when the White House did not yet acknowledge any supplemental money would be needed, according to several individuals familiar with the situation who spoke anonymously to discuss internal conversations.

Then came the Feb. 5 argument.

The article does point out that the Obama administration had failed to fully restock the stockpile. And it’s clear that the bureaucracy was unable to move quickly But what a trainwreck this was just in the last few months.

In January we were all watching Wuhan and knew there was a good chance that this thing could go global. Azar went to the budget busters who were spewing a firehose full of money at the military for no good reason and asked for more money to prepare. They said no.

This could have been avoided in so many ways. This is just another one of their mammoth screw-ups.

Key Lime Kool-aid down in Florida

A “laying on of hands” in the oval office in 2017.

Will Sommer and Tracy Connor at the Daily Beast report:

A controversial Florida pastor who refused to stop holding packed church services, in violation of coronavirus restrictions, was arrested Monday by a local sheriff who said he was putting his followers’ lives at risk.

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

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

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

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

Chronister’s office warned Howard-Browne that his busy services violated a county order against gatherings of more than 10 people. Deputies for Chronister, a Republican, set up an electronic sign outside the church on Sunday urging parishioners to stay six feet apart from each other, the Tampa Bay Times reported.  

But Howard-Browne went ahead with two services, even offering to bus people to the church.

At services on March 15, Howard-Browne encouraged his parishioners to shake hands to show they weren’t afraid of contracting the coronavirus and vowed his church “will never close.”

“This has to be the safest place,” said Howard-Browne, who was in a group of evangelical leaders who laid hands on Donald Trump in a White House ceremony in 2017.

In a March 18 post on its Facebook page, the church said it was providing an “essential service” and was exempt from the restrictions:

“In a time of crisis, people are fearful and in need of comfort and community, more than ever before. Even people who do not attend church regularly, or perhaps never go to church, need to know that there is somewhere for them to go when they need help.”

Chronister said the pastor’s stance was particularly bewildering because he could have just live-streamed the service to his 4,000 members.

“I believe there’s nothing more important than faith during a time like this,” he said. “And as a sheriff’s office we would never impede someone’s ability to lean on their religious beliefs as a means of comfort. But practicing those beliefs has to be done safely.”

His wasn’t the only megachurch to defy public health guidelines. Here’s one in Louisiana. Another in South Carolina. Here’s another one in Ohio.

Thankfully, most churches have found ways to hold their services under the social distancing guidelines, either online or in parking lots or other large spaces. The ones that aren’t I’m afraid are doing the devil’s work…

A hundred thousand, two hundred thousand tops

Dr. Deborah Birx once more laid out the benchmark this morning:

Joining TODAY from Washington, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Deborah Birx, says, “if we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities,” but adds, “we’re not sure all of America is responding in a uniform way.”

Note Guthrie’s reaction. Because it’s pretty clear that we are not doing things perfectly. And, by the way, it isn’t just because the city slickers are refusing to social distance. The rural red states are exploding too, mostly because the Trump voters there believe that it’s all a hoax.

1-2 hundred thousand are the numbers Trump has now named as the goal that will prove he did a really good job in containing the virus. I hate to be cynical but I can’t help but wonder if Birx and Fauci told him privately that it was actually unlikely in order to get him to keep the guidelines in place until the end of April, telling him that he’d look really, really good if “the numbers” come in lower.

I continue to be stunned at how much energy has to be expended to keep President Fauntleroy happy while the government is supposed to be all hands on deck to deal with this emergency.

For instance:

Politico reports:

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence.

The agency allowed for the drugs to be “donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” HHS said in a statement, announcing that Sandoz donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the stockpile and Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine.

The move was supported by the White House, part of a larger Trump-backed effort to speed the use of anti-malaria drugs as a potential therapy for a virus that has no proven treatment or cure. FDA already has allowed New York state to test administering the medication to seriously ill patients, and some hospitals have added it to their treatment protocols.

“Let’s see how it works,” Trump said at a press briefing on Sunday, referencing New York state’s efforts. “It may. It may not.”

“Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar tweeted on Sunday night, praising Trump and the EUA.

Lawmakers have ripped the administration’s bungled handling of the outbreak. But some now wonder if there’s more they could have done when it might have made a difference.Confirmed U.S. Cases: 156,931 | U.S. Deaths: 2,880Which workers are most at risk during the crisis?Coronavirus cases, tracked state by stateDo you work for a hospital? Tell us what you’re seeing

Career scientists have been skeptical of the effort, noting the lack of data on the drugs’ efficacy for coronavirus care and worried that it would siphon medication away from patients who need it for other conditions, calling instead for the agency to pursue its usual clinical trials. FDA’s move is expected to facilitate more access to the drugs by allowing more donations, and a second EUA is under consideration that would allow more manufacturers to produce it, said three officials.

Hydroxychloroquine, which is already available commercially in the United States, is commonly used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The drug also has been touted as a therapy for coronavirus by an unusual assortment of investors, TV correspondents and even some advisers to the White House — including some advocates who overstated their claims and credentials — and been championed by guests on Fox News.

This has clearly been done for the sole purpose of shutting him the hell up. It certanly isn’t something the experts would normally approve:

“I would like to see who at FDA’s [Medical Countermeasures Initiative] signed off on this EUA despite the total lack of scientific evidence that chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine are beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19,” tweeted Luciana Borio, who served as FDA’s acting chief scientist between 2015 and 2017. “EUA is supposed to be issued when the evidence indicates that benefits outweigh the risks.”

I would have to assume that this is a whole different kind of risk-benefit analysis. I’m quite confident that they had to give him his magical snake oil cure as part of a bargain to keep him from listening to the greedheads telling him to order the country back to work. They didn’t want to do it but it probably seemed like the easiest way to appease him while causing the least amount of harm.

Trump has pushed to experiment with new therapies and not wait on the usual clinical protocols, given the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic. Asked by a POLITICO reporter whether his agencies should wait for more evidence on anti-malaria drugs, the president on Friday stressed the need for speed, alluding to disagreements with infectious-disease specialist Anthony Fauci — one of several officials who has privately counseled the president not to rush on unproven medicines.

“I think Tony would disagree with me … [but] we have a pandemic, we have people dying now,” Trump said, adding that he’d recently spoken with FDA and been frustrated by the agency’s pace.

“They indicated that we’ll start working on it right away. It could take a year,” the president said. “I said what do you mean a year? We have to have it tonight.”

He likes to say, “what do you have to lose?” Well:

However, a growing number of lupus and arthritis patients have complained that they’ve been unable to full their prescriptions amid ongoing shortages, and reports have emerged that some physicians are hoarding the drug for themselves.

I hope his “cure” turns out to be true. But every real expert I’ve heard on the subject doesn’t believe that the studies done so far merit this kind of trial. But you have to hope that Dr. Donald Trump is right on this and all the other experts are wrong even if it’s completely ridiculous. What else can we do?

Update: Twitter had Ingraham remove this for violating their terms of service:

“The scale of government’s failure is so complete and so sweeping it borders on the incomprehensible”

Eric Boehlert with another useful insight into the media and the plague of Donald Trump. You do have to wonder how this can all just be attributed to ignorance and malfeasance…

Everything Trump has done in response to the coronavirus national emergency has been dead wrong. That’s confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that were established over a decade ago for when dealing with a health crisis. The agency created a 450-page manual and Trump and his team have not only ignored the recommendations — be consistent, transparent, factual, and credible — they’ve actively done the opposite.

To date, Trump has ignored intelligence warnings, called the crisis a hoax, downplayed the threat, lied about virus testing, lied about the government’s on-the-ground response, lied about the rate of infection, blamed the Obama administration, misled the country about a cure, packed his days with non-actionblamed governors, failed to order a national lockdown, refused to work with certain Democratic officials, and has provided zero national leadership. (“I don’t take responsibility at all.”)

“The U.S. response will be studied for generations as a textbook example of a disastrous, failed effort,” said Ron Klain, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to oversee the nation’s fight against Ebola in 2014.

Trump has seemingly done everything to help spread the disease. “We have to understand that faced with “the invasion” of this virus the President has chosen to stand down, do nothing, let people die and it ravage America,” wrote Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, in an entirely accurate description of what has transpired — Trump stood down and let a virus invade the country, knowing from intelligence briefings what that would mean for the U.S. population.

No other country is facing the coronavirus disaster while its national leader appears not to care how many of his country’s citizens die, and who day after day refuses to take common sense steps to address the crisis. (Where are the tests, masks, hospital beds, and respirators?)

Trump’s behavior has been shocking — except it hasn’t been. For five years, since entering the national political scene in the summer of 2015, Trump has shown us who he is everyday, a deeply damaged narcissist who can’t stop lying.  Yet the press treats his sociopath tendencies as taboo.

The larger, looming question is, why is Trump doing this? Or as Greg Sargent recently asked at the Washington Post, why must Democrats and other officials try to force Trump be do the right thing? Why is he refusing to protect the population from a deadly invasion?

Maybe he’s vengeful. A fatalist? Maybe he wants to wreck the economy to create investment opportunities? He’s under the thumb of a foreign entity? He wants to cancel the November elections? Who knows. And honestly, the “why” isn’t what matters now. It’s increasingly not credible to suggest Trump has simply been distracted or incompetent during this crisis, leading to constant “flip-flops,” as the New York Times politely calls his hourly contradictions, as the country faces dire circumstances.

It’s time for journalists to stop expressing shock regarding his erratic and heartless behavior, because that unwarranted shock just helps normalize Trump’s dangerous behavior. It plays into the idea that Trump at times behaves rationally, and picks and chooses when he should act like a leader, and when he does not need to — that Trump can mimic the actions of a sane person when the situation calls for it.

If we take a step back, the scale of government’s failure is so complete and so sweeping it borders on the incomprehensible. After a while, explaining this away as Trump being unfocused, or not having a plan, or being shortsighted just doesn’t add up. The failure to protect has been so thorough, it’s difficult to suggest it’s happened coincidentally.

Why is it taboo? The possible answers are too disturbing for the press to ponder, therefore they’re deemed off-limits. Instead of addressing the reality, the press prefers to stick with the safe narrative that the White House is muddled and disorganized. To address the other possibilities would raise stunning questions about the President of the United States —the types of questions that have never been asked about any president in this nation’s history.

In essence, the press plays dumb, as the Wall Street Journal urges Trump to “rethink the coronavirus strategy,” as if there was ever a Trump “strategy” to begin with, while Politico suggests the life-and-death problems the U.S. faces today stem from Trump’s “short-term thinking.”

That’s the simple explanation. What’s going on is far more complicated, and far more disturbing.

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