Sunday, December 6, 2020

Live Free Then Die



By Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D.
Medical Correspondent with
Nelly Bly in Washington

We are nine months into the worst pandemic in 100 years and the federal government of the most powerful nation on Earth did nothing to limit its spread.  In fact it did exactly the opposite: it opposed mask wearing (because masks smeared the Loser-in-Chief's greasy Brand X bronzer), testing (required too much government help) and limitations on public gatherings (because Republicans gotta have fun).

How'd that turn out?

As it happens, exactly as disastrously as predicted by real public health experts who knew what they were talking about:

But good news for defenders of American exceptionalism: we're exceptionally bad at this.  If we lived in Germany where the death rate is about 25% of ours, the total number of dead Americans would be only 73,303 and in South Korea it would be 3,436.   Quite a change from 1950, when both countries were in ruins and Americans were driving three-tone convertibles with whitewall tires.

If our government had been as united and effective as South Korea's, 276,000 Americans would still be alive.  That's why when Maureen's brother “Kevin” justifies his support for the Loser Superspreader-in-Chief on the basis of their shared love of country, we have to conclude that they must love their country a lot more than their fellow countrymen.

That's why they call it the Republican Party!

Actually, we knew that already, based on their lifetime opposition to ensuring that no American dies because they couldn't afford health care and future generations of Americans don't have to learn to breathe underwater because of global warming and consequent sea level rise.

But the good news is with the full outlines of the Republican-produced health care catastrophe clear to even the dullest among us, Republicans are at long last realizing they can't just sit on their asses and bloviate about the “freedom” to infect others with a fatal disease.

Nah, we're just f***in' with ya.  They still don't give a toss.

A bunch of future Congresspersons and Fox News talking heads partied maskless in Jersey earlier in the week, showing that they have the courage of their lack of conviction.

And in South Dakota, the death rate has reached 100 per 1,000, or almost 100 times the South Korean level,

The result is that the health care system in the richest, most advanced country in the world (so we are told) is at this writing collapsing:

Throughout that time, health-care workers have worried that hospitals would soon be overwhelmed. “The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question,” an infectious-disease doctor told our colleague Ed Yong early last month. The following week, a critical-care doctor in Nebraska warned, “The assumption we will always have a hospital bed for [you] is a false one.”

These catastrophes seem to be coming to pass—not just in Iowa and Nebraska, but all across the country. A national breakdown in hospital care is now starkly apparent in the coronavirus data. . . . .

Many states have reported that their hospitals are running out of room and restricting which patients can be admitted. In South Dakota, a network of 37 hospitals reported sending more than 150 people home with oxygen tanks to keep beds open for even sicker patients. . . . Some patients in Laredo, Texas, were sent to hospitals in San Antonio—until that city stopped accepting transfers. Elsewhere in Texas, patients were sent to Oklahoma, but hospitals there have also tightened their admission criteria.

Hospitals overwhelmed?  A 37% positive test rate in South Dakota?  How can this be? 

In one word: Republicans.

In one heartland kraal – Fredonia, Kansas, – a local physician has been working heroically for months to protect her fellow Kansans.  It's not going great:

According to MSNBC,

McKenney said community members have driven by her home and videotaped her, posted insulting messages about her on Facebook and pushed for her to lose her job.

"I think there's a lot of fear. And there's so much unknown," she said. "People want to blame something, and they can't blame a virus that is too small to be seen. So they blame people like me."

Resistance to public health measures has not been confined to social media or fringe members of the community. In late November, local leaders held a public hearing over a proposed 30-day mask mandate. Several residents stepped forward, comparing the proposal to abortion, the Holocaust and the loss of freedom of speech.

Leaders such as County Commission member Andrew Miller have been openly critical of masks and McKenney's suggestions. Miller did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

McKenney, who was born and raised in Fredonia, is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, and she sometimes wonders whether race has played a role in her treatment. She added that many residents remain supportive.

"The person that is telling people to wear masks and social distance looks a little bit like the people they think manufactured this virus or caused the virus in the first place,"
she said. "We have people in the community calling it, still, the 'China virus.' They talk about how, you know, this was all a big hoax or a big ploy from the Chinese government."

Fredonia, since its successful rebellion against the Marx Brothers, is, as we all know, the seat of Wilson County.  You will be no doubt shocked to learn that last month 80% of the very fine people of Wilson County voted for the Republican candidate for President.  Looks like Joe Biden has a lot of reaching out to do!

In other hard-hit states, staunch Republicans are equally unmoved by grim reality.  South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem wants the remaining living citizens of her state to carry on and go shopping:

South Dakota set a new record for COVID-19 deaths on Saturday—and the state’s anti-lockdown governor tweeted a plea for people to go shopping. The Health Department reported 54 deaths, one more than the previous record set two weeks ago. And the state also tallied 819 new infections out of 1,892 people tested—a terrifying 43 percent positivity rate. Gov. Kristi Noem has repeatedly rejected calls for a statewide mask mandate and refused to warn people against gathering for the holidays.

In Florida, Republican Gov. and pride of Harvard Law School Ron Death Santis is living up to his name and his reputation for pandering to the Loser-in-Chief by not doing jack s***:

With Florida poised to notch its 1 millionth coronavirus case, Gov. Ron DeSantis held his first press conference in four weeks on Monday to declare that mask mandates and business closures in other states are wrong-headed and he alone has plotted the right course to combat the pandemic.

Offering blistering criticism of actions by governors in other states, epidemiologists and even the White House Coronavirus Task Force, DeSantis doubled-down on his long-held insistence that he won’t implement any measures to slow the spread of the virus among the general population. 

Texas COVID-19 policy: Party hearty, pardner!

Speaking of clueless Republicans who have Tweeted while their citizens suffered and died, what's Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott up to besides quibbling about how to interpret Texas's insanely lax reopening rules?

SAN ANGELO — On Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, Tom Green County exceeded a 15% hospitalization rate for the coronavirus, a threshold state officials use to determine if Texas businesses can operate at normal or reduced occupancy.

The area has exceeded that 15% threshold consecutively for five days, Nov. 28-Dec. 2, according to state data.

While local officials — including Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd and San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter — have publicly maintained that business restrictions imposed by the state would occur after the area reached a 7-day rolling average of hospitalizations at 15% or higher, the state said it's based on seven consecutive days.

"When a region’s hospital capacity is comprised of 15% or more COVID-19 patients for seven days in a row, there are protocols in place to automatically close bars and ratchet back openings to 50% occupancy," said Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Apparently not much.

But it's not just state and local Republicans.  It goes all the way to the Senate, where Moscow Mitch McConnell is still refusing to make a deal on pandemic aid even as the Democrats have retreated from their original $3.3 billion stimulus bill, to $2.4 billion, to $1.8 billion, to $908 billion.  But according to All Media, the stalemate is, wait for it, Nancy Pelosi's fault:

McConnell has held out for a miserably inadequate package including immunity for employers who risked their employees' lives to keep America in chicken nuggets, but no one is blaming him or his fellow spineless Republicans.

Actually, we don't know why anyone is surprised over Republican indifference to human suffering and death due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.  It's been the Republican brand since the Hoover Administration.

What's the difference between refusing to pass laws and spend money to protect human life in a pandemic, and refusing to pass laws and spend money to protect human life from death and disease because the afflicted couldn't afford health care?  or food?  or housing?

To be a good libertarian, you have to be able to ignore immense amounts of human suffering, whether caused by a pandemic, racism, economic reverses, or just bad luck, like not being born or marrying into wealth.  

The next thing you know, staunch Republicans will be demanding a recount of the bodies. 


As Herman J. Mankiewicz learned in 1934 (at least according to Mank), sometimes you shouldn't make a sarcastic joke because someone will take it seriously:

Dr. Michaela Schulte works overnight shifts at St. Luke’s Health System hospitals near Boise, Idaho, treating some of the hundreds of critically ill Covid-19 patients filling hospital beds in her state during the most severe period of the pandemic so far. She, like many other health-care workers, faces yet another challenge in keeping up with the recent surge in coronavirus cases: A number of people in her community say the virus isn’t as bad as public-health and news reports indicate—and some say it isn’t real.

Outside the hospital—at the grocery-store checkout line after work, or through family friends—Dr. Schulte says she hears people calling the virus a hoax and saying medical professionals are exaggerating the severity. The disbelief, on top of the relentless physical and mental demands of their jobs during the pandemic, is draining many hands-on medical workers and making it even harder for them to provide care, they say. . . .

Covid denial, as some health-care workers call it, can take forms ranging from a belief that Covid-19 is no more serious than a routine cold, or a belief that face masks aren’t effective at slowing the spread, to the idea that the pandemic is an elaborate hoax.

An Axios-Ipsos survey in September found that 36% of people believe fewer Americans are dying from Covid-19 than the number of deaths reported, an increase from 23% who believed that was the case in May.

Oh hell no.

UPDATE: December 12.  Speaking of Live Free and Die, here's an item about the newly elected Republican Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives:

New Hampshire Speaker of the House Richard "Dick" Hinch died from Covid-19. . . . [T]he state's chief medical examiner, Dr. Jennie V. Duval, had determined the Republican's death Wednesday was due to the disease caused by the coronavirus. Hinch was 71 . . . .  The late Republican speaker had been elected to the post on December 2.

How did that happen?  The usual way:

CONCORD, N.H. — A “small number” of Republican lawmakers who attended a recent caucus meeting have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.

The development, first reported by WMUR-TV, comes a day before the 400-member House and 24-member Senate are set to meet outdoors at the University of New Hampshire to be sworn in and elect officers.

“We have a very small number of people affected and we have no reason to believe that the folks who tested positive will attempt to attend the event,” House Republican Leader Dick Hinch said in a statement Tuesday.

Republican House members gathered Nov. 20 at McIntyre Ski area in Manchester, where they nominated Hinch to become the next House speaker.

No comments:

Post a Comment