Usher’s News & Analysis, Mar. 20, 2020

Infographic: The History of Pandemics, by Death Toll

Let’s not forget that with earlier plagues, a much higher percentage of the population suffered and died.


History’s Deadliest Pandemics: From Antonine Plague To COVID-19

Be careful what you flush.

$1,000 checks in three weeks?

The Trump administration wants checks of $1,000 per person and $500 per child to go out within three weeks of Congress passing a stimulus package, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said a deal was close.

“The plan is $500 billion in two tranches,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria.” “The first one would be $1,000 per person, $500 per child.”

Six weeks later, if needed, “we’ll deliver another $3,000,” he said. Mnuchin said he also wanted $300 billion to go toward small businesses for “hiring people, keeping people on the payroll.” Another $200 billion would secure lending to airlines and other critical industries, he said.

– Nicholas Wu
No substitute for toilet paper

The toilet paper shortage is leading some people to resort to other ways of wiping, and it caused a major problem for the Redding, California, sewer system Wednesday night.

Someone apparently used shredded T-shirts when they didn’t have toilet t, wastewater management officials said. As a result, one of the city’s sewers backed up at a lift station and workers had to take quick action to avert a dangerous spill.

If you don’t have toilet paper, city wastewater officials have this advice for other materials: “Bag it. Don’t flush it.”

“Anything aside from toilet paper works to create a sewer backup, putting our larger sewer system, our water system and our community at risk for another health crisis,” the city said.

— Mike Chapman, Redding Record Searchlight

Coronavirus update: 25 million California cases; Italy surpasses China

Not surprised:

Stanford University’s Marshall Burke determined that “the reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved 20 times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country,” he wrote earlier in March on G-Feed, a blog about global food, environment and economic dynamics.

Coronavirus: Could it be saving lives in some parts of the world?

Even a dictator can make the right moves once in a while.

“Under these orders, you, Israel’s citizens, are required to stay at home. It is no longer a request, it is not a recommendation, it is an obligatory directive that will be enforced by enforcement authorities,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.

Netanyahu accused of dictatorship amid coronavirus crisis

Some people are pointing to dictatorships and claiming that dictatorship is better than democracy because of how Xi’s clampdown over SARS-CoV-2 worked better so far than what is happening in the US and elsewhere. Well, the US isn’t a full-blown democracy in the first place, and South Korea is doing better than China did at keeping low the ratio of deaths to infections.

That said, the real point is that in a full democracy, all the people would have all the information and then be able to render fully informed votes for measures to be taken. Would the People collectively come to a consensus that quarantining early and tightly enforced is the right move? I say they would. I say they’d make decisions that are superior to anything Xi made and anything the Trump administration and the US legislature combined are making and will yet make concerning this COVID-19/Wuhan virus.

Increasingly powerful, Xi’s China believes it no longer needs Washington – or its foreign reporters

We are all Chinese … and Italian and Iranian … now.

Iran on Wednesday reported its single biggest jump in fatalities from the coronavirus as another 147 people died, raising the country’s overall death toll to 1,135.

The nearly 15% spike in deaths — amid a total of 17,361 confirmed cases in Iran — marks the biggest 24-hour rise in fatalities since Iranian officials first acknowledged infections of the virus in mid-February.

COVID-19: Iran reports big jump in virus deathsEven as the number of cases grows, food markets were still packed with shoppers

Editorial: What is the main lesson from SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19? Quarantine as early as possible to keep the infection from spreading. The second main lesson is to be prepared as a society, a nation, a world.

This is the strongest by a governor I’ve seen, but it’s still way too weak. Sheltering-in-place right now nationally is the right move.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott closed all schools and gyms in the state and banned public gatherings of 10 or more people in sweeping new orders to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The state declared its first public health disaster since 1901. Abbott emphasized that the new limits didn’t amount to a shelter-in-place order, but said he holds quarantine powers if he needs to use them later.

Italy Deaths Top China; U.K. Brexit Chief Isolates: Virus Update

Senate Democrats are proposing that the federal government cancel student loan payments throughout the coronavirus outbreak and forgive at least $10,000 of the debt for each borrower.

… candidate Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has called for wiping out all $1.7 trillion of the country’s outstanding education debt.

Sanders is the one who’s right about it.

Senate Democrats propose canceling $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers amid coronavirus

The unemployment-insurance program is not the way to go to head off another Great Recession or Depression or to take care of all the People.

Under the new plan, people earning less than $75,000 would get a full $1,200, with a sliding scale reducing the amount for higher incomes.

People who earned $95,000 last year — or $190,000 per couple — would get nothing.

For each child, there would be a $500 payment.

Senate GOP nears deal on $1,200 checks to earners under $75K

We need to bail each other out rather than force each other into having to beg. That means our government, which belongs to us, needs to send the money we need, all of it.

Can’t make a credit card or mortgage payment? Here’s how to ask for help

Those who are anti-government in general are the problem.

Save a dime, spend a dollar:

In May 2018, President Donald Trump’s biodefense preparedness adviser warned that a flu pandemic was the country’s No. 1 health security threat, and the U.S. was not prepared.

“We know that it cannot be stopped at the border,” Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council, said at a symposium that day.

Borio left the Trump administration in 2019. Other high-level global health experts headed for the exits even earlier, after the White House dismantled the National Security Council’s global health security office.

The demise of that elite team is now under scrutiny as the Trump administration struggles to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Gross misjudgment’: Experts say Trump’s decision to disband pandemic team hindered coronavirus response

Editorial: By the way, the idea that it’s all China’s fault because China didn’t sound the alarm quickly enough is just plain nonsense. Of course China could have done better, but the truth is that when China did sound the alarm, the US government sat on its hands for week after week after week. Even after the first case was announced in Washington, nothing comparable to what China was publicly doing right then was done. That’s not China’s fault but the fault of weak leadership in the US and actually at every level.

I don’t know all the stories, but I’d be shocked if there weren’t local medical people screaming that we need to quarantine NOW! but were simply ignored or told to shut up.

Whether you are usually pro or con Amazon, I suggest you pray for them, and all of us, now. Amazon is serving way more right now than as a mere capitalistic endeavor. It’s just as important as a public water-utility for many millions of people.

Amazon has reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case in its US warehouses, a network of facilities that has quickly turned into a critical need for millions of customers as they stay at home during the coronavirus crisis.

The worker was stationed at a site in a Queens, New York, a company spokesperson said in a statement Thursday morning. The location is a delivery station, which is much smaller than one of Amazon’s sprawling fulfillment centers. The site was temporarily shut down for additional cleaning, and workers there were sent home with full pay. The site is now open again, the spokesperson said.

“We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine.

Amazon’s first coronavirus case in a US warehouse could complicate shipping

Let me add that when the government thinks about those who should be issued face masks and protective goggles and disposable gloves and the like, let’s make sure those who supply and deliver the food we all depend upon are right up there with first responders and hospital staff, etc.

Will there be a baby boomlet with so many staying home?


Cummings cautioned that while small businesses will undoubtedly have business interruption losses due to COVID-19, she believes these financial costs are better addressed by the public rather than the private sector.

“The desire for government to help private businesses cover their COVID-19 losses is admirable,” she said. “But by forcing insurance companies to pay claims not otherwise covered, government is simply shifting those losses to another private business sector. That’s not right.”

Proposed N.J. Bill Would Require Insurers to Pay COVID-19 Business Interruption Claims

Financial institutions were ordered to suspend initiating mortgage foreclosure or judicial proceedings and commercial or residential evictions until May 1.

Home, Business Evictions Banned in Kansas until May 1

Lara today issued a notice requesting that all insurance companies provide their policyholders with at least a 60-day grace period to pay insurance premiums to ensure policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

California Calling for 60-Day Premium Grace Period Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Businesses in Germany can immediately access loans up to €500,000, made available through their local banks or Sparkassen. The loans are being made available at an interest rate as low as 1%, with interest only for the first two years.

In contrast, the U.S. aid plan announced by President Trump authorizes the Small Business Association (SBA) to offer loans to businesses only after a lengthy process of designation by state authorities. The interest rate will be 3.75%, a whopping 1.75% above the KfW rate.

How Germany’s public bank will keep the economy afloat during the coronavirus outbreak

Wow! If we go into a deep recession, which I don’t think we will because I don’t think the government will be that stupid again, and people start massively withdrawing their accounts (a run on the banks), then without reserves, the government would definitely have to step in to rescue the capitalistic banking-system.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the Fed … [is] eliminating reserve requirements for thousands of depository institutions. Historically, banks are required to keep 10% of their deposits in reserve.

Fed drops interest rates to zero, eliminates reserve requirements, and triggers a market free fall

I don’t see how they triggered a free fall. I think the free fall was going to happen regardless.

Security flaws found in popular password managers

As I’ve written before on this blog concerning SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, what aren’t we being told?

Anything up to 99.2% of all of Italy’s recent Covid19-associated deaths could have been caused by pre-existing chronic conditions, according to a report released by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian Institute of Health, ISS).

There’s the epidemiological study done by a Japanese research group that found the case-fatality ratio to potentially be as low as 0.04% (markedly lower even than seasonal flu).

There’s German and Chinese biologists reporting the unproven nature of Covid test kits and that they can generate “false positives”.

There’s the Italian study finding that up to 75% of positive test patients are entirely symptomless, coupled with warnings from Spanish doctors that panic and systemic overload pose a much greater threat to public health than the coronavirus.

ISS Report: 99% of Covid19 Deaths had Pre-existing Serious Illness

Look, it’s not whether or not the government has to step up, it’s how much will it.

The government has to take it all on. The government has to simply create the money (no increased taxes and no governmental borrowing: no bond issuances) and pay for everything that would have otherwise been paid for via capitalism.

Capitalists dreaming that the government should simply sit back and let the liquidations take care of themselves are literally economic illiterates or insane (mostly both).

It started in China back in December, with the government trying to keep the outbreak quiet and taking steps to silence the first whistleblower.

As the virus began to spread, Western nations complacently shrugged it off and assumed it would remain in Asia.

Even the World Health Organization refused to call this a ‘pandemic’ until March 11… only a week ago.

… it’s possible that public health officials radically shift their positions in the coming weeks and tell all the young, healthy people in the world to go back to work, get infected, and start developing immunity.

Banks are going to drown in an ocean of defaults

Saagar Enjeti: Celebrates the DEATH of libertarianism

My Thoughts On Tulsi Gabbard Suspending Her Campaign And Endorsing Joe Biden