Colorado suspends license of Castle Rock restaurant that defied coronavirus public health order

State health officials on Monday indefinitely suspended the business license of a Castle Rock restaurant that opened to large Mother’s Day crowds, Gov. Jared Polis said.

C&C Coffee and Kitchen’s license will likely be suspended for at least 30 days, Polis said, because the reopening caused an “immediate health hazard.”

The state’s action came after the Tri-County Health Department on Monday ordered the restaurant to close until it complies with the statewide COVID-19 public health order limiting restaurants to take out and delivery services.

“I hope, I pray that nobody falls sick from businesses that chose to violate the law,” Polis said when announcing the suspension. “But if the state didn’t act and more businesses followed suit, it’s a near guarantee that people would lose their lives and it would further delay the opening of legitimate businesses.”

Tri-County said it warned C&C Coffee and Kitchen on Friday not to open for Mother’s Day, but the restaurant opened for dine-in services anyway, according to a statement from the health department.

“If the restaurant refuses to follow Governor Jared Polis’ public health order, further legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license,” the statement said.

The restaurant drew national attention after it opened Sunday, with a crowd of customers filling all the tables, a patio and forming a line outside the door. No one was practicing social distancing inside the restaurant and very few people wore masks in photos and video that circulated on social media.

Owner April Arellano has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Denver Post and it was not clear Monday whether she would comply with the order.

Arellano previously wrote on her Facebook page that she “would go out of business if I don’t do something,” and said “if I lose the business at least I am fighting.” She posted a brief live video from inside the restaurant thanking customers for showing up. That video is no longer publicly available.

A Twitter account for the restaurant said it was reopening to stand “for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!”

Restaurants and bars in Colorado have been limited to take-out and delivery services since March 19 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The health department received four complaints about C&C Coffee and Kitchen, a spokeswoman said Sunday.

John Douglas, executive director of the Tri-County Health Department, said in a statement Monday that C&C Coffee and Kitchen’s reopening was “disheartening.”

“It is not fair to the rest of the community and other business owners that are following Safer at Home and doing their part,” he said in the statement. “We sincerely hope that C&C will choose to cooperate with the rules under which they are allowed to operate so we can lift this closure order.”

This is a developing story that will be updated.

This content was originally published here.

Minn. health officials urge caution after news of ICU beds filling up – StarTribune.com

Metro hospitals are running short on intensive care unit beds due to an increase in patients with COVID-19 and other medical issues, prompting health officials to call for more public adherence to social distancing to slow the spread of the infectious disease.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Friday reported a record 233 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds, but doctors and nurses said patients with other illnesses resulted in more than 95% of those beds in the Twin Cities to be filled.

Patients with unrelated medical problems needed intensive care, along with patients recovering from surgeries — including elective procedures that resumed May 11 after they had been suspended due to the pandemic.

“We are tight,” said Dr. John Hick, an emergency physician directing Minnesota’s Statewide Healthcare Coordination Center. “Resuming elective surgeries plus an uptick in ICU cases has constricted things pretty quickly.”

At different times, Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial Health Hospital were diverting patients to other hospitals. Almost all heart-lung bypass machines were in use for severe COVID-19 patients and others at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

As planned, Children’s Minnesota took on some young adult patients to take pressure off the general hospitals.

People might think the pandemic is over because public restrictions are being scaled back, but “in the hospitals, it is not over and it is not getting back to normal,” said nurse Emily Sippola, adding that her United Hospital was opening a third COVID-specific unit ahead of schedule. “The pace is picking up.”

The pressure on hospitals comes at a crossroads in Minnesota’s response to the pandemic, which is caused by a novel coronavirus for which there is yet no vaccine. Infections and deaths are rising even as Gov. Tim Walz lifted his statewide stay-at-home order on Monday and faced pressure this week to pull back even more restrictions on businesses and churches.

Despite talks with Walz on Friday, leaders of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis issued no change in guidance for their churches to defy the governor’s order and hold indoor masses at one-third seating capacity starting Tuesday. President Donald Trump might have altered those talks when he threatened to supersede any state government that tried to keep churches closed any longer, although the White House didn’t cite any law giving him the right to do so.

A single-day record of 33 COVID-19 deaths was reported Friday in Minnesota — with 25 in long-term care and one in a behavioral health group home — raising the death toll to 842. Infections confirmed by diagnostic testing increased by 813 on Friday to 19,005 overall, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, called out Minneapolis for having one of the nation’s highest rates of diagnostic tests being positive for COVID-19.

People can slow the spread of COVID-19 if they continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands and cover coughs, said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist.

“There are those among us who will not do well with this virus and will develop severe disease, and I think we need to be very mindful of that,” she said. “It’s not high-tech. We know what to do to prevent transmission of this virus.”

While as many as 80% of people suffer mild to moderate symptoms from infection, the virus spreads so easily that it will still lead to a high number of people needing hospital care. Health officials are particularly concerned about people with underlying health problems — including asthma, diabetes, smoking, and diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system.

Individuals with such conditions and long-term care facility residents have made up around 98% of all deaths. The state’s total number of long-term care deaths related to COVID-19 is now 688.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy estimates that only 5% of Minnesotans have been infected so far and that this rate will increase substantially.

Hospitals working together

Part of the state response strategy is aggressive testing of symptomatic patients to identify the course of the virus and hot spots of infection before they spread further. Widespread testing is being scheduled in long-term care facilities that have confirmed cases, and testing has taken place in eight food processing plants with cases as well.

The state averaged nearly 7,000 diagnostic tests per day this week, and the state should get a boost from a new campaign of testing clinics at six National Guard Armory locations across Minnesota from Saturday through Monday, said Jan Malcolm, state health commissioner.

The state’s pandemic preparedness website as of Friday indicated that 1,045 of 1,257 available ICU beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19 or other unrelated medical conditions — and that another 1,093 beds could be readied within 72 hours.

Several hospitals are already activating those extra beds, though in some cases they are finding it difficult to find the critical care nurses to staff existing ICU beds — much less new ones, said Dr. Rahul Koranne, president of the Minnesota Hospital Association. Staffing difficulties, rather than a lack of physical bed space, caused some of the hospitals to divert patients.

Nurses in the Twin Cities reported being called in for overtime shifts for the Memorial Day weekend, which in typical years also launches a summerlong increase of car accidents and traumatic injuries. North Memorial, HCMC and Regions Hospital in St. Paul are trauma centers.

“This increased trauma volume typically persists throughout the summer season and into fall,” North Memorial said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Katy Sullivan. “To be able to provide the needed level of care for the community and honor our commitments to our healthcare partners throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, we need to preserve some capacity for emergency trauma care.”

An increase in surgeries might have contributed to the ICU burden, but Koranne said many didn’t fit the definition of elective. Some patients delayed the removal of tumors due to the pandemic but can no longer afford to do so.

“They are patients who have been waiting for critical time-sensitive procedures that their physician is worried might be getting worse,” Koranne said. “To call those type of procedures elective could not be further from the truth.”

Competing hospitals have long cooperated when others needed to divert patients, but that has increased with the help of the state COVID-19 coordinating center and is showing in how they are managing ICU bed shortages, hospital leaders said.

“We all have surge plans in place,” said Megan Remark, Regions president, “but more than ever before, everyone is working together and with the state to ensure that we can provide care for all patients.”

This content was originally published here.

Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers – The New York Times

But it is not just another deep-pocketed investor hunting for high returns. It is the Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains. It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style, in a good year generating more than $1 billion in profits.

With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package. The department plans to eventually distribute more than $100 billion more.

Those cash piles come from a mix of sources: no-strings-attached private donations, income from investments with hedge funds and private equity firms, and any profits from treating patients. Some chains, like Providence, also run their own venture-capital firms to invest their cash in cutting-edge start-ups. The investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients.

Representatives of the American Hospital Association, a lobbying group for the country’s largest hospitals, communicated with Alex M. Azar II, the department secretary, and Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary overseeing the funds, said Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the group. Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals, said he, too, had frequent discussions with the agency.

One formula based allotments on how much money a hospital collected from Medicare last year. Another was based on a hospital’s revenue. While Health and Human Services also created separate pots of funding for rural hospitals and those hit especially hard by the coronavirus, the department did not take into account each hospital’s existing financial resources.

“This simple formula used the data we had on hand at that time to get relief funds to the largest number of health care facilities and providers as quickly as possible,” said Caitlin B. Oakley, a spokeswoman for the department. “While other approaches were considered, these would have taken much longer to implement.”

That pattern is repeating in the hospital rescue program.

For example, HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare — publicly traded chains with billions of dollars in reserves and large credit lines from banks — together received more than $1.5 billion in federal funds.

Angela Kiska, a Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman, said the federal grants had “helped to partially offset the significant losses in operating revenue due to Covid-19, while we continue to provide care to patients in our communities.” The Cleveland Clinic sent caregivers to hospitals in Detroit and New York as they were flooded with coronavirus patients, she added.

Critics argue that hospitals with vast financial resources should not be getting federal funds. “If you accumulated $18 billion and you are a not-for-profit hospital system, what’s it for if other than a reserve for an emergency?” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a physician and a health policy analyst for the Urban Institute, a Washington research group.

Hospitals that serve poorer patients typically have thinner reserves to draw on.

Even before the coronavirus, roughly 400 hospitals in rural America were at risk of closing, said Alan Morgan, the chief executive of the National Rural Hospital Association. On average, the country’s 2,000 rural hospitals had enough cash to keep their doors open for 30 days.

At St. Claire HealthCare, the largest rural hospital system in eastern Kentucky, the number of surgeries dropped 88 percent during the pandemic — depriving the hospital of a crucial revenue source. Looking to stanch the financial damage, it furloughed employees and canceled some vendor contracts. The $3 million the hospital received from the federal government in April will cover two weeks of payroll, said Donald H. Lloyd II, the health system’s chief executive.

This content was originally published here.

‘This is not about politics’: GOP governor says wearing masks is public health issue

WASHINGTON — Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Sunday dismissed the politicization of wearing masks in public to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, imploring Americans during the Memorial Day Weekend to understand “we are truly all in this together.”

With many states like Ohio beginning to relax stay-at-home restrictions, DeWine underscored the importance of following studies that show masks are beneficial to limiting the spread of the virus in an exclusive interview with “Meet the Press.”

“This is not about politics. This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” DeWine said.

“It’s been very clear what the studies have shown, you wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. This is one time where we are truly all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”

DeWine made the comments in response to an emotional plea from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who last week denounced the idea that mask-wearing should be a partisan issue.

Public health experts continue to say mask usage can help stunt the spread of the virus and recommend that people wear masks where social distancing is not feasible. But the White House has sent mixed signals on the practice.

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President Trump has repeatedly bucked the practice of wearing a mask in public, reportedly telling advisers he thought doing so would send the wrong message and distract from the push to reopen the economy.

He did not wear one during a visit to an Arizona mask production facility earlier this month. And while he did wear one for part of his trip to a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan last week, he took it off before speaking to reporters and said “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”

Vice President Pence did not wear a mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last month, but donned one during another tour days later in Indiana after criticism.

O’Brien: The president wears masks ‘when necessary’

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, told “Meet the Press” Sunday that he and many other members of White House staff wear masks during work and hope that will set an “example” for Americans looking to return to the office. And he defended the president’s conduct by arguing that if proper social-distancing measures are taken, Trump doesn’t always need to wear a mask.

“I think Gov. DeWine was spot on when he talked about office-workers wearing the masks, and mask usage is going to help us get this economy reopened,” he said.

“And we do need to get the country reopened because we can’t get left behind by China or others with respect to our economy.”

The question of how to safely reopen the American economy is weighing heavy this Memorial Day weekend, as every state across the country is beginning to move toward relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions.

There have been more than 1.6 million coronavirus cases in America including more than 97,700 deaths as of Sunday morning, according to NBC News’ count. And 38 million Americans have filed unemployment claims since March 14.

As governors like DeWine are trying to balance the public health risks of removing restrictions with the economic risks of keeping most of America shut in their homes, the Ohio governor said that he’s confident “we can do two things at once.”

“We want to continue to up that throughout the state because it is really what we need as we open up the economy. This is a risk, but it’s also a risk if we don’t open up the economy, all the downsides of not opening up the economy,” he said.

This content was originally published here.

Pelosi calls for public health benefits for illegal immigrants

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it is “absolutely essential” that illegal immigrants also get access to health benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s in everyone’s interest that everyone be in the health-care loop. … it’s absolutely essential that we’re able to get benefits to everyone in our country when we’re testing, when we’re tracing, when we’re treating and the rest,” the California Democrat said during a teleconference call.

Pelosi said Democrats want to undo a provision in coronavirus legislation that prevents families with mixed immigration status from receiving stimulus payments from the Internal Revenue Service.

“We want to address the mixed-family issue,” she said during her weekly news conference Thursday, without committing to it being part of the next bill the House passes on the pandemic, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Responding to a question about supporting undocumented immigrants more broadly than the stimulus payments, the speaker said she was pleased that the Federal Reserve is looking at ways to extend lending programs to nonprofits, including those that work with illegal immigrants.

California has partnered with nonprofits to set up a $125 million fund to provide cash payments to undocumented immigrants in the state.

“We are well-served if we recognize that everybody in our country is part of our community and … helping to grow the economy. Most of what we are doing is to meet the needs of people, but it’s all stimulus, so we shouldn’t cut the stimulus off,” Pelosi said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a “guaranteed income” for Americans,…

On Tuesday, Pelosi pressed ahead with a sweeping package even as a host of Republican leaders express hesitation about additional spending.

She promises that the Democrat-controlled House will deliver legislation to help state and local governments through the crisis, along with additional funds for direct payments to individuals, unemployment insurance and a third installment of aid to small businesses.

Pelosi is leading the way as Democrats fashion the package, which is expected to be unveiled soon even as the House stays closed while the Senate is open.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that it’s time to push “pause” on more aid legislation — even as he repeated a “red line” demand that any new package include liability protections for hospitals, health care providers and businesses.

With Post wires

This content was originally published here.

Coronavirus Map And Graphics: Track The Spread In The U.S. : Shots – Health News : NPR

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Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States on Jan. 21, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have confirmed cases of COVID-19. On April 12, the U.S. became the nation with the most deaths globally, but there are early signs that the U.S. case and death counts may be leveling off, as the growth of new cases and deaths plateaus. The pattern isn’t consistent across the country, as new hot spots emerge and others subside.

To see how quickly your state’s case count is growing, click here.

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Click here to see a global map of confirmed cases and deaths.

In response to mounting cases, state and federal authorities have emphasized a social distancing strategy, widely seen as the best available means to slow the spread of the virus. Most states have put in place measures such as closing schools and nonessential businesses and ordering citizens to stay home as much as possible.

It’s not clear how long such measures need to be in place to see a lasting effect. In Wuhan, the city in China where the virus originated, a strictly enforced lockdown and widespread testing have slowed the outbreak dramatically, enough to bring an end to the 76-day lockdown.

A large portion of U.S. cases are centered on New York City. Since March 20, New York state, Connecticut and New Jersey have accounted for about 50% of all U.S. cases. As of April 9, nearly 60% of all deaths from COVID-19 have been in these three states. While New York state appears to be reaching a plateau, as seen below, it notched between 8,000 and 10,000 new cases each day between March 31 and April 12.

To understand how one state’s outbreak compares with another’s, it’s helpful to look at not just the daily counts but the rate of change day over day. In the following chart, we display cases on a logarithmic scale, meaning that every axis line is 10 times greater than the previous one. This type of scale emphasizes the rate of change.

When case counts grow very quickly, a state’s curve trends sharply upward, as New York’s does over the first 15 days past 100 cases. Generally, this is evidence of unbridled community transmission of the disease. As new cases slow, the curve bends toward horizontal, showing that the state’s outbreak may be leveling off. This doesn’t mean the number of cases has stopped growing, but the rate of growth has slowed, which could signify that social distancing measures are having an effect.

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In some areas, there are signs of hope. The areas with the earliest outbreaks — such as California and Washington — seem to be having success at suppressing the disease. The outlook in Washington has improved to the point that the state has returned unused Army hospital beds it had received in preparation for a peak in cases.

Elsewhere, limited access to testing may make the number of cases look smaller than it really is. As testing becomes more readily available, we are likely to see the number of confirmed cases continue to grow, even if not at the pace previously seen.

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The data used here are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University from several sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the World Health Organization; national, state and local government health departments; 1point3acres; and local media reports. The JHU team automates its data uploads and regularly checks them for anomalies. State-by-state testing and hospitalization data are still being assessed for reliability. State-by-state recovery data are unavailable at this time. There may be discrepancies between what you see here and what you see on your local health department’s website.

Stephanie Adeline, Alyson Hurt, Connie Hanzhang Jin, Ruth Talbot and Thomas Wilburn contributed to this story.

This content was originally published here.

NYC health commissioner wouldn’t supply NYPD with masks

New York City’s health commissioner blew off an urgent NYPD request for 500,000 surgical masks as the coronavirus crisis mounted — telling a high-ranking police official that “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” The Post has learned.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot made the heartless remark during a brief phone conversation in late March with NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Monahan asked Barbot for 500,000 masks but she said she could only provide 50,000, the sources said.

“I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” Barbot said, according to sources.

“I need them for others.”

The conversation took place as increasing numbers of cops were calling out sick with symptoms of COVID-19 but before the department suffered its first casualties from the deadly respiratory disease, sources said.

Although surgical masks don’t necessarily prevent wearers from being infected with the coronavirus, they can prevent people from spreading it to others.

An NYPD detective died after contracting coronavirus — the first…

The NYPD has recorded 5,490 cases of coronavirus among its 55,000 cops and civilian workers, with 41 deaths, according to figures released Wednesday evening.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, called for Barbot to be fired over her “Despicable and unforgivable” comments.

“Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus. Look them in the eye and tell them they aren’t worth a rat’s ass,” Lynch fumed.

In the wake of Barbot’s crass rebuff of Monahan, NYPD officials learned that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had a large stash of masks, ventilators and other equipment stored in a New Jersey warehouse, sources said.

The department appealed to City Hall, which arranged for the NYPD to get 250,000 surgical masks, sources said.

The federal Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also learned about the situation, leading FEMA to supply the NYPD with Tyvek suits and disinfectant, sources said.

A source who was present during a tabletop exercise at the city Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn in March recalled witnessing a “very tense moment” when Monahan complained to Mayor de Blasio in front of Barbot about the NYPD’s need for personal protective equipment, saying, “For weeks, we haven’t gotten an answer.”

De Blasio, who was seated between Monahan and Barbot, asked her, “Oxiris what is he talking about?” the source said.

She was not on the conference call Friday as de…

When Monahan said the gear was vital to keeping cops safe, de Blasio said, “You definitely need it,” and told Barbot, “Oxiris, you’re going to fix this right now,” the source said.

Last week, Barbot — who’s been a routine participant in de Blasio’s daily coronavirus briefings — was noticeably absent when Blasio announced that the city’s public hospital system would oversee a major testing and tracing program, even though the DOH has previously run similar programs.

Hizzoner also heaped praise on the head of NYC Health + Hospitals, Dr. Mitchell Katz, saying, “When you have an inspired operational leader, you know, pass the ball to them is my attitude.”

De Blasio named Barbot the city’s health commissioner in 2018 following the resignation of Dr. Mary Bassett, who took a job at Harvard University’s School of Public Health amid an investigation into the DOH’s failure to alert federal officials to elevated levels of lead in the blood of children living in city housing projects.

“During the height of COVID, while our hospitals were battling to keep patients alive, there was a heated exchange between the two where things were said out of frustration but no harm was wished on anyone,” Department of Health press secretary Patrick Gallahue said, noting that Barbot “apologized for her contribution to the exchange.”

The NYPD declined to comment.

City Councilman Joe Borelli and Congressman Max Rose on Wednesday night joined Lynch in calling for Barbot’s outster.

“I judged the mayor incorrectly for shifting duties away from her if this is how she feels about her job,” Borelli said, referencing de Blasio’s decision to transfer the city’s testing in trace program from the Dept. of Health to Health + Hospitals.

Rose tweeted: “This kind of attitude explains so much about City Hall’s overall response to this crisis. Dr. Barbot shouldn’t resign, she should be fired.”

Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy

This content was originally published here.

Health official says U.S. missed some chances to slow virus | PBS NewsHour

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government was slow to understand how much coronavirus was spreading from Europe, which helped drive the acceleration of outbreaks across the nation, a top health official said Friday.

Limited testing and delayed travel alerts for areas outside China contributed to the jump in U.S. cases starting in late February, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We clearly didn’t recognize the full importations that were happening,” Schuchat told The Associated Press.

The coronavirus was first reported late last year in China, the initial epicenter of the global pandemic. But the U.S. has since become the hardest-hit nation, with about a third of the world’s reported cases and more than a quarter of the deaths.

The CDC on Friday published an article, authored by Schuchat, that looked back on the U.S. response, recapping some of the major decisions and events of the last few months. It suggests the nation’s top public health agency missed opportunities to slow the spread. Some public health experts saw it as important assessment by one of the nation’s most respected public health doctors.

The CDC is responsible for the recognition, tracking and prevention of just such a disease. But the agency has had a low profile during this pandemic, with White House officials controlling communications and leading most press briefings.

“The degree to which CDC’s public presence has been so diminished … is one of the most striking and frankly puzzling aspects of the federal government’s response,” said Jason Schwartz, assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly celebrated a federal decision, announced on Jan. 31, to stop entry into the U.S. of any foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the previous 14 days. That took effect Feb. 2. China had imposed its own travel restrictions earlier, and travel out of its outbreak areas did indeed drop dramatically.

But in her article, Schuchat noted that nearly 2 million travelers arrived in the U.S. from Italy and other European countries during February. The U.S. government didn’t block travel from there until March 11.

“The extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importations and the rapid spread,” she told the AP. “I think the timing of our travel alerts should have been earlier.”

She also noted in the article that more than 100 people who had been on nine separate Nile River cruises during February and early March had come to the U.S. and tested positive for the virus, nearly doubling the number of known U.S. cases at that time.

The article is carefully worded, but Schwartz saw it as a notable departure from the White House narrative.

“This report seems to challenge the idea that the China travel ban in late January was instrumental in changing the trajectory of this pandemic in the United States,” he said.

In the article, Schuchat also noted the explosive effect of some late February mass gatherings, including a scientific meeting in Boston, the Mardis Gras celebration in New Orleans and a funeral in Albany, Georgia. The gatherings spawned many cases, and led to decisions in mid-March to restrict crowds.

Asked about that during the interview, Schuchat said: “I think in retrospect, taking action earlier could have delayed further amplification (of the U.S. outbreak), or delayed the speed of it.”

But she also noted there was an evolving public understanding of just how bad things were, as well as a change in what kind of measures — including stay-at-home orders — people were willing to accept.

“I think that people’s willingness to accept the mitigation is unfortunately greater once they see the harm the virus can do,” she said. “There will be debates about should we have started much sooner, or did we go too far too fast.”

Schuchat’s article still leaves a lot of questions unanswered, said Dr. Howard Markel, a public health historian at the University of Michigan.

It doesn’t reveal what kind of proposals were made, and perhaps ignored, during the critical period before U.S. cases began to take off in late February, he said.

“I want to know … the conversations, the memos the presidential edicts,” said Markel, who’s written history books on past pandemics. “Because I still believe this did not need to be as bad as it turned out.”

This content was originally published here.

George Clooney: ‘Rampant Dumbf**kery Now Threatens Our Health, Our Security and Our Planet’

(Screen Capture)

Actor George Clooney taped a spoof public-service advertisement for a group that he referred to as “UDUMASS”—”United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science”—that was featured on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on May 7, 2019 and has since been posted on YouTube by that program.

In his introduction to the Clooney video, Kimmel criticized the Trump administration, as Clooney himself does in the video.

“And the Trump administration has done everything they can to do nothing about climate change,” said Kimmel in introducing the tape. “They just don’t listen to the scientists.”

“Science enables us to cure diseases, communicate across great distances, even to fly,” Clooney says in the video. “Tragically though, the volumes of invaluable knowledge gathered over centuries are now threatened by an epidemic of dumb f****** idiots, saying dumb f******.”

After showing a clip of President Trump making fun of windmills, Clooney solicits support for UDUMASS.

“As a result rampant dumbf**kery now threatens our health, our security and our planet,” Clooney says. “Fortunately, there is hope–at United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science—UDUMASS.”

Here is a transcript of Kimmel’s introduction of Clooney’s satirical video and a transcript of the video itself:

Jimmy Kimmel: “According to a new report from the United Nations, our planet is in worse shape than at any other time in human history. They say a million animal and plant species are on the verge of extinction thanks to things like pollution and climate change.

“And yet our federal government, not only did they not do anything about it, they seem to like it. The Secretary of State today said, Mike Pompeo, said: Melting sea ice presents new opportunities for trade. Great! It will be very good for the kayak industry, but everyone else is screwed.

“And the Trump administration has done everything they can to do nothing about climate change. They just don’t listen to the scientists. A lot of people don’t, not just when it comes to climate change. Scientific fact is suddenly seen as some kind of partisan scare tactic, and it endangers all of us. So, one major celebrity is spearheading a new initiative to raise awareness of this foray into ignorance. And what he has to say is important. So, please listen.”

George Clooney: “Hi, I’m actor, director and two-time sexiest man alive, George Clooney. Science has given us unprecedented knowledge of the natural world, from sub-atomic particles to the majesty of space.

“Science enables us to cure diseases, communicate across great distances, even to fly. Tragically though, the volumes of invaluable knowledge gathered over centuries are now threatened by an epidemic of dumb f****** idiots, saying dumb f******.

[Cut to videotape of Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma holding up a snowball on the Senate floor.]

Inhofe: “You know what this is? It’s a snowball. So, it’s very, very cold out.”

Clooney: “Dumb f****** is highly contagious, infecting the minds of even the most stable geniuses.”

[Cut to videotape of President Donald Trump.}

Trump: “If you have any windmill anywhere near your house, they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay. Whirr, whirr.”

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72% of Americans Want Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Orders to Remain in Place Until Health Officials Say It’s Safe: Poll

An overwhelming majority of Americans have indicated that they want stay-at-home orders to remain in place until health officials and experts say it’s safe to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.

In the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll, released Tuesday, 72 percent of U.S. adults said quarantine measures should remain in place “until the doctors and public health officials say it is safe.” The figure includes 88 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents.

Forty-five percent of Republicans surveyed said they wanted the stay-at-home measures to end, a significant increase from the 24 percent seen in a similar poll released late March. The national poll, conducted online between April 15 to 21, surveyed 1,004 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 6 percentage points.

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People wearing a face masks due to COVID-19 walk near the red cube sculpture on April 20, 2020 in New York City.
Eduardo MunozAlvarez/Getty

The results come after small protests broke out in several states—among them Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan—with demonstrators taking to public spaces to demand an end to the stay-at-home orders that have drastically slowed the spread of Covid-19, as well as the country’s economy.

Democratic state governors—including Virginia’s Ralph Northam, Kentucky’s Andy Beshear and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer—have condemned the protesters for opposing the orders that were put in place to keep them safe. Many of the protesters across the country ignored the White House’s social distancing guidelines that advised against gatherings of 10 or more people to battle the novel virus’ spread.

Health officials have warned that the U.S. may experience a second wave of the disease if social distancing measures and mitigation efforts are lifted prematurely. Some have also stressed the need for widespread testing and an effective contact-tracing program before the country can begin to reopen safely.

President Donald Trump sympathized with the protesters and declined to condemn their actions during Sunday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. Instead, Trump criticized the governors—who’ve had to balance public safety and calls from the president to shorten their lockdown orders—for allegedly taking restrictions too far.

“Some have gone too far, some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate,” Trump said. “And I think in the end it’s not going to matter because we’re starting to open up our states, and I think they’re going to open up very well.”

Some protesters were seen wearing Make America Great Again apparel, holding pro-Trump signs and confederate flags as they called for coronavirus mitigation measures to be relaxed and wider freedoms amid the pandemic. Whitmer called the protest in her state of Michigan “essentially a political rally.”

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

As of April 21, more than 819,100 individuals had tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S., with over 45,300 deaths caused by the new disease and 82,900 recoveries.

This content was originally published here.