Trump

White House Struggles With COVID Are An Ominous Sign For The Country

White House Struggles With COVID Are An Ominous Sign For The Country - Despite warnings from experts that the virus was still too active in the US to re-open the country, two weeks ago the White House itself returned to work.  The Vice President traveled.  Governors came to visit.  Meetings with outside leaders including the House GOP leadership, which could have been held over video conference, were held inside the White House.  Based on photos from then and subsequent days, the President, his team, and his visitors didn’t wear masks and didn't keep six feet apart. 

Last week, as predicted, COVID came into the White House.  At least two senior staffers and some number of Secret Service agents tested positive for the virus. Dr. Fauci and the heads of the FDA and CDC have all self-quarantined, as have some number of White House staffers.  The Vice President announced that he was self-quarantining last night, but then reversed his decision soon after. White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett, in a TV interview yesterday morning, said that it was "scary to go to work" at the White House but that the urgency of our national challenges required staff there to risk it all, go in, and not work from home.  Re-opening has become a chaotic and dangerous mess, even for the White House.

For every American trying to figure out how to navigate phase II, that the White House is on the verge of shutting down within days of re-opening  is a clear sign of how hard these next few months are going to be.  Perhaps emboldened by their access to rapid daily testing, the President, his staff, and their visitors haven’t followed the protocols - they haven’t worn masks and haven't stayed six feet apart.  We don’t know whether they’ve eaten together and shared meals across from one another, but we have to assume that they have. And the virus came, quickly.  Unlike the rest of us, however, their access to rapid testing may have caught the virus early, and prevented a huge outbreak which could have threatened the President himself.  Most American workers will not be so lucky if the virus hits their workplace, as very few will have access to this level of testing each day.  The virus will come, people will start to get sick, and lock downs will return. It is no wonder, then, that the public isn't happy with the President's COVID response.

As of Saturday, DC has the highest per capita rate of new infections of any state in the country - the virus is spreading faster here than anywhere else.  A Senate hearing tomorrow on the virus will be conducted by a Committee Chairman in quarantine, working from home, and experts will also be quarantined and speaking from home.  It will be another powerful reminder of our struggle to manage this extraordinary time and return to normal - re-opening here, in DC, carries incredible risks at this time for anyone.

At NDN, we hope that the President uses his own struggles with re-opening to help educate the country about the challenges ahead.  The virus isn’t gone or receding - the US still has among the highest new infection rates of any nation on earth, and they aren’t dropping.   Our "lockdowns" were not as aggressive as other nations, and thus didn’t get the virus under control in the way that we all would have wanted.  We don’t have rapid ubiquitous testing in place, like the President does, which is needed to allow workplaces and communities to catch new infections early, isolate the sick, and allow people to keep working.   Re-opening will require an incredible commitment to social distancing and masking (um, Mr. President); and if nothing else the President should admit his errors, and commit now to crashing a national testing/tracing/isolation regime for the country, a regime which has allowed his workplace to stay open.  The President's repeated refusals to adhere to any of the things that experts have recommended to combat the virus - immediate national shelter-in-place, social distancing/masking, testing/tracing/isolation - remain inexplicable and terribly terribly reckless.  He has the opportunity now to course correct, and to help us all learn from this experience.  Re-opening now is fraught with risks, ones that he should be honest about; and risks which, if he is unwilling to admit and address, require Congress to step in and address for him.   

On COVID, What's Next for the US, Trump and the 2020 Election

Phase I of America’s response to COVID is coming to an end, and there is little question that it has been a disaster for the country and increasingly for the Republican Party.  The numbers are staggering - 50,000 lives lost, depression level unemployment numbers, and historic levels of debt.  As we wrote in our new Thursday poll roundup, recent polling has begun to once again show broad dissatisfaction with the President and his Party - if the election were held today, Democrats would almost certainly win both the White House and the Senate. A new New York Times story confirms that the GOP establishment is increasingly worried about this very thing this fall. 

All of this takes us to the question that is likely more than any other going to define the 2020 election - why has America’s response to COVID been so ineffective, and will Trump learn from his extraordinary missteps and course correct?

There are two principle ways that a nation can fight a pandemic like COVID-19: mandatory stay at home policies to slow the spread of the virus and a national testing/tracing/isolation program that allows things to stand backup.  Remarkably, five months after the US first learned of COVID, the President has chosen to do neither of these things.  He has refused to stand up a national testing/tracing regime and, through his recent embrace of the very unpopular “Liberate!” movement, has actually worked to undermine the stay at home orders which have done so much to slow the spread of the virus after it was allowed to run wildly across the country due to his early inaction. That the President chose to essentially call an end to the national stay at home efforts, ones he didn’t call for and wasn’t enforcing, prior to establishing a plan for Phase II - standing up the country - remains one of the most reckless things that our very reckless President has ever done. 

America now has no plan for what happens next; we have no Phase II.  In fact, the President has repeatedly said that it isn’t his job to manage this and instead that it is up to the states.  But do we leave it to the states to repel foreign armies, defeat terrorism, counter cyber threats from abroad, hunt down serial killers, respond to extreme weather events, or even, let’s say, fashion an economic response to COVID-19? No, of course we don’t leave it to the states to fight such extraordinary battles on their own; and nor did we fund or design our public health system to do so in a case of a pandemic.  There is no way forward here without the President and his team leading us.  Or perhaps Congress forcing him to do so if he continues to refuse to do what’s necessary now.

Let’s talk for a bit about what a national Phase II plan could look like.  It can and should include:

1) A national testing/tracing/isolation plan

2) A permanent fix to the medical supply chain

3) A national approach to social distancing and masking at work and in public spaces

4) Clear rules regarding international and domestic travel and foreign entrants into the US

5) Immunity certification, if immunity in fact exists

6) Creative solutions to giving our young people and students something to do this summer and potentially this fall

7/ A plan to ensure the 2020 elections take place without challenge

8) Safe harbor liability protections for entities which adhere to agreed-upon national guidelines

What we have to do before standing up the country in the next few weeks and months is incredible - hundreds of thousands of tracers have to be hired, hundreds of millions of tests produced, an entire type of testing not even approved yet by the FDA - antibody testing - has to be launched, rules regarding travel have to be established, decisions about coming testing and isolation regimes being mandatory or voluntary have to be debated and settled on...

It is hard to see how all of this will be established across the US as quickly as we need without Congress starting to get involved and helping to lead and fund Phase II.  The urgency of a true national response is perhaps best understood using an example.  Let's say that in a few weeks I travel from DC to Boston for a meeting.  While there I test positive for COVID.  What happens next? Am I quarantined in Boston? If so, where? If a hotel, who pays? We know that the MA-based tracers would work to establish my contacts locally, but how will my tracing down here in DC/MD/VA happen? Who is responsible for that, and how are these efforts coordinated? Let’s assume I took a plane to Boston.  Everyone who was on that plane will have to be traced and tested.  But they have now scattered to 10 other states - who does this work and coordinates it all?

The point of this example is that there is no possibility that the US can stand itself back up as we all envision without the federal government playing a leading role.  If it doesn’t, then we may not be able to travel inside the US (let alone outside) until we have a vaccine.  For why would Massachusetts, now without community transmission, accept any traveler from parts of the US where the virus is still live and spreading? Or is the idea that MA would essentially set up a border, and test everyone who comes into the state? To enable travel, even potentially across state lines for a daily commute, the public must have confidence that we have a way of effectively and rapidly isolating new infections, and removing those people from society - a confusing, erratic, and inefficient state by state regime isn’t going to cut it, and nor should the American people accept it - we are one nation, and should act like one. 

What is worrisome about where the President’s head is at right now is that in a recent press briefing he weighed in on all this, and endorsed the idea of internal borders.  It was a bit shocking at the time, but it is pragmatic recognition that if he does not set up a single national system then we will break into parts, separate regions or states, for what could be two years. 

Okay, you get it.  Phase II is going to be hard, really hard, and we are way behind where we should be.  Important pieces of the plan are months away from being ready and critical debates haven’t even begun.  And we have to get it right to stand our society and economy back up.  The President’s current approach, like his approach to Phase I, is profoundly stupid and unserious.  Congress needs to step in now, and work to forge a cogent and effective plan for Phase II.  It should consult with the nation’s governors, particularly from the most impacted states, and lead where the President refuses to. 

This has been a terrible few months for this great nation.  But in order to make sure this tragedy doesn’t become something which damages the nation beyond repair, our leaders must come together in the coming days around a single national approach to Phase II of our response to COVID - living with it and returning to work in the months before we have a vaccine.   

US Not Ready to Open, Trump's Poll Numbers Continue to Slide

Monday 4/20 Notes On 2020 - While polling remains bouncy right now, Trump’s bump is largely gone and things have reverted back to about where they were prior to the COVID crisis - Democrats with a 6-9 point structural advantage, similar to where things stood in 2018.  Consider how similar these spreads/margins are:

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Yes, we have a long way to go in this challenging year. But in the coming months, one can easily imagine Biden gaining 1-3 more points from consolidating the party behind him and winning the nomination, and Trump losing a few as the costs and pain of his mismanagement of COVID become more evident.  That movement would put us closer to the 2018 vote numbers than we are today, and would put the White House and Senate in Democratic hands.

America Still Needs A COVID Plan - Given the structure of this race right now, it is very hard to understand what President Trump is choosing to do on COVID. The data is pretty clear that the American people believe he blew the early response to COVID, and do not support a fast re-opening.  Stay at home efforts are very popular, as are the front line governors who’ve made the tough calls for their residents.  So, from a political and public health standpoint, his attacks on both seem stupid and misguided. Trump’s only shot to win in 2020 at this point is to successfully manage this next phase of our response to COVID - the re-opening.  He had a second chance, a chance to rise to the moment and lead us through this terrible scourge.  But instead he seems to be retreating to a place of ideological extremism, Hannityville let’s call it, which will almost guarantee that we fail at this next critical phase of battling the virus.   

Consider all that should be in place prior to the US re-opening - a federally run testing/tracing/isolation regime with wide deployment of far more tests and tests which yield results in minutes, not days; a stronger, better equipped, and better prepared US health care system; a national approach to social distancing/masking at work and in communities; some strategy for what parents and communities are supposed to do with young people this summer and perhaps this fall; the establishment of a clear national process for certifying immunity if immunity does in fact exist; clarity on how international and domestic travel is going to work; and a plan to ensure our election takes place thiis November as is Constitutionally required, free from foreign interference and virus proofed. At this point, the President doesn’t seem to be committed to doing any of these things; in fact, his central strategy now seems to be focused on undermining the popular state and local stay at home regimes which have successfully slowed the spread of the virus. 

Throughout this COVID crisis, the President has repeatedly expressed what can generously be described as magical thinking - the virus would just go away, it wouldn’t come here, we have millions of tests, etc.  In what may be a looming tragedy for the country, this past week he seems to have once again chosen magical thinking - Liberate!/Open - over sound science and experience from what has worked in other nations.  What remains remarkable about it all is that he is not just acting outside science and reason, he is acting outside of polling too - which is why 2020 is shaping up to be a very bad year both for the United States and for what’s left of the Republican Party. 

Invite: Wed, June 10th, 2pm ET - With Dems Things Get Better Presentation

Please join NDN on Wednesday, June 10th at 2pm ET for our regular showing of our "With Dems, Things Get Better" webinar.  This new recurring webinar marks the debut of a new initiative here at NDN, “The Asymmetry Project.”  This project builds on a body of our work over the past few years, and makes the argument that one of the defining political developments of our time is just how different the two American political parties are, and have become.

This webinar will take place on Zoom, you can register for the event here

"With Dems Things Get Better" is a data rich dive into what has happened in America since the Berlin Wall fall in 1989 and a new age of globalization began. We ook at the performance of the two parties during this time – the 16 years of Obama and Clinton, the 15 plus years of the Bushes and Trump.  What the data shows is that America has prospered and made progress when Democrats have been in power, and fallen behind, again and again, when Republicans have held the White House.  We then spend time discussing what this all means for the coming recovery, policy making more broadly in the years ahead and in the short term, the 2020 election itself. 

We hope you can join us!  And do invite others - all are welcome.

Another Republican Recession, Landscape Still Leans Blue

As we’ve written to you before, we aren’t going to be paying too much attention to polling these next few weeks for it will no doubt be very volatile and noisy. Trump does appear to have gotten a small bump in recent days, though the fundamental structure of the race hasn’t changed - he’s minus 4.5 in 538’s job approval tracker, down 9 to Biden in new Fox News polling, and the Congressional Generic remains at -7.4 for the GOP.  The national landscape still favors the Dems. 

We are doubtful that Trump is in for any kind of sustained bump.  Regardless of Trump’s daily pressers, the cold hard truth is that the President failed to take action against COVID-19 when he should have; is playing a dangerous and sadistic game with the states; and his plan is still inadequate for what’s needed today.  The numbers that Americans will be focusing on in the coming months won’t be his daily TV ratings or job approval but COVID infection and death rates, the amount of equipment moved to the health care front lines, unemployment and uninsured rates, and GDP growth.  If these measures are good, he will have a good election.  If they aren’t, he won’t. 

That Trump is the third consecutive GOP President to see a recession and exploding deficits on their watch speaks to something we’ve been exploring in recent years - that the two parties just aren’t the same and aren’t mirrors of one another.  Since this new age of globalization began in the late 1980s, Democratic Presidents have produced growth, jobs, rising wages, and lower annual deficits.  The two Bush Presidents and Trump will have produced recessions and hard times, and W Bush and Trump will have overseen two of the worst economic moments in American history.  That Democrats keep getting the big things right in this new age, and the Republicans so disastrously wrong, simply must be a more significant area of debate and discussion in the months ahead. 

Where Are the Tests?

The early troubles that the CDC had in standing up a national COVID-19 testing regime have been well documented.  But in early March, the Administration told us that these problems had been fixed.  The Vice President promised 5 million tests in place by March 13th.  Other Administration officials promised tens of millions by late March.  Daily testing rates climbed, and on March 25th we hit 100,000 tests a day for the first time.  Even though many of these tests had ridiculously long turnarounds, 3-7 days, the much needed national testing system seemed to be in the process of being stood up.

But something has happened.  Daily testing growth stopped, and we are now stuck at around 100,000 tests a day (see data below).  Despite the promise of millions of tests, the US has only conducted 1.1m over the past ten weeks, and at current rates will not complete 5m tests until May 11th or so, a full two months after the Vice President said 5m tests were in place, ready to go.  

Given that to stand America up from the crisis the nation will need hundreds of millions of inexpensive and rapid tests, we simply have to understand what is happening here.  The answers provided by the White House are inadequate, and hundreds of thousands of American lives are in the balance here.  We simply have to get testing right or the crisis will get far worse and our recovery will be far more difficult.  There is no margin of error here. 

If the White House cannot explain what is happening with the US testing regime today, the House should conduct a virtual hearing Friday, and request that Dr. Birx testify under oath.  Something has gone wrong, again, with our national testing regime, and the American people deserve both answers and a clear plan for how to make it right."

You can find more from NDN on the need for a national plan to tame the virus here, and more on the need for better testing here

US Daily Testing Numbers - data from the COVID Tracking Project:

Mar 20 - 35k (this is one week after Pence said 5m tests would be in place)

Mar 21 - 44k

Mar 22 - 45k

Mar 23 - 66k

Mar 24 - 65k

Mar 25 - 113k

Mar 26 - 107k

Mar 27 - 108k

Mar 28 - 114k

Mar 29 - 95k

Mar 30 - 113k

Mar 31 - 98k

April 1 - 101k (1.2m total over 10 weeks!)

May 11 - 5m (at current rates of testing)

With Stimulus Done, Congress Must Now Focus on Defeating COVID

America will not be able to stand its economy and society back up until the COVID virus is contained.  With exploding infection rates now across the country, it is clear that the President and his team have failed in their fight to tame the virus.  With the hard work of providing for the US economy behind it, Congress must now focus on crafting a successful national approach that will allow us to fight the virus in the coming days but also in the many months that remain in this difficult struggle.

There is broad agreement about what needs to be done, right now:  

1) Surge equipment/beds/workers to the frontlines

2) Implement a national 21 day stay at home order

3) Crash a universal rapid testing/isolation regime like in South Korea

To put pressure on the Administration to finally craft a comprehensive response to the virus, Speaker Pelosi should form a political alliance with the governors in the most afflicted states.  By working together, they can create both a more effective national strategy to defeat COVID, but also begin to show a sense of common purpose which we will need to develop if we are to prevail against this dangerous threat.

There have been many Trumpian missteps over the past ten weeks which have allowed the virus to get out of control, but the greatest of all may be his pitting state against state and community against community; to prevail against a pandemic all of us must do our part and work together.  There is no us and them – only us.  The Speaker can exhibit the kind of leadership required to prevail against COVID by forging a new “war time” alliance of the House and top governors, and force the Administration to finally use the awesome power of the United States government to do what should have been done months ago.  We know what needs to be done – let’s get it done in the days ahead.

With New Data, The Costs of the President's Failed COVID19 Response Becoming Clearer

As more economic and public health data becomes available, the more the nation is becoming aware of the extraordinary costs of the President’s ongoing failure to craft a successful national response to the COVID19 virus.

While Congress is the midst of addressing our daunting short term economic challenges, far more must be done in the coming days to stop the spread of the virus. 

Nine weeks into this crisis and the nation still has no plan to stop COVID.  Our elected leaders from across the country should come together around a plan as ambitious as the economic plan close to passing today.  While there are many good ideas on the table, NDN believes there are four key things we must do right now to prevent COVID from doing unimaginable harm to the nation in the days ahead:  

1) Surge supplies/beds/staff to the medical front lines

2) Implement a national 3 week stay at home program

3) Crash/stand up a national testing/isolation regime like South Korea’s

4) Fund a “Manhattan Project” for a vaccine/therapeutics/testing/equipment both for COVID and to prepare for future pandemics

Our nation’s leaders shouldn’t accept the President’s ongoing failure to respond to the COVID threat; all of us should demand he step up here and do what the American people and all of the experts expect him to do – tame COVID, and then stand our society and economy back up later this spring and summer.

Can the governors of the big, afflicted states band togethter to create a pressure campaign against our flailing President? Work with Senate and House leaders, leaders of other nations? If the President won't lead America now, others must. 

The President’s plan to combat COVID19 has failed. Congress must step in — now

The US had two choices on how to combat COVID-19 - a national shut down or an universal testing/isolation regime like in South Korea. Nine weeks into the crisis, the US has done neither, and so now we have some of the fastest growing infection rates that any country has experienced since the pandemic began.

Time is running out to prevent the virus from becoming something which fundamentally alters the American way of life. The President has made it clear that he cannot lead us through the crisis, and thus is it time for Congress to take responsibility for developing and implementing a true national plan. We only have a few days to get this done.

In recent days, expert opinion has converged about what we must do:

1) Surge supplies/beds/staff to the medical front lines

2) Implement a national 3 week stay at home program

3) Crash/stand up a national testing/isolation regime like in South Korea

4) Fund a “Manhattan Project” for a vaccine/therapeutics/testing/equipment both for COVID and to prepare for future pandemics

The economy and our society cannot stand back up until the virus is tamed. Washington’s focus on stimulus and worker support, while important, should have come after a national plan to combat the virus was in place. We have no choice now except to work on both in the days ahead.

It is critical that Congress also find time to pass the Klobuchar/Wyden bill that would help institute a national vote by mail program for the 2020 election. While so much else is up in the air, Americans should have the certainty of knowing that our democracy marches on, undaunted.

Finally, we need to focus far more attention on our young people. Both to help them better protect themselves from getting the virus and to help them and their families cope with what could be difficult months at home, away from school.

The President’s plan has failed, and Congress must step in now to develop a clear national strategy to tame the virus. There is no higher priority in the days ahead.

Testing Still Lags, What Are We Going To Do With The Kids? - Tue COVID Daily

This is a live document which was last updated Wednesday, April 22st at 915am.  It is going to take a hiatus for a few days as we rethink how we want to present all this information. 

Top Lines - Wed morning's numbers from the COVID Tracking Project:

801,038 cases (25k new/28k 7 day rolling average)

        776,215 Tue (25k new)

        751,062 Mon (27k)

        724,926 Sun (28k)

        696,622 Sat (31k)

        665,970 Fri (32k)

        633,775 Thur (30k)

        604,147 Wed (28k)

4,163,464 tests (137k new/149k 7 day rolling average)

         4,026,572 Tue (144k new)

         3,882,062 Mon (159K new)

         3,723,634 Sun (149k new)

         3,574,392 Sat (154k new)

         3,420,394 Fri (159k new)

         3,261,611 Thur (140k new)

         3,120,381 Wed (154k new)

We also find the Daily FT tracker useful, as are this global tracker and this sophisticated and interactive graphing tool from 91-DIVOC.  Of course Johns Hopkins has become perhaps the most authoritative US source. 

We've seen a slight reduction in the past week of the daily rate of new infections - possibly good news, though our low levels of testing make it too early to make a clear call on where we are. While lower, our daily new infection rate remains among the highest in the world. 

After running in the 100-115k range the week of March 30th, and 150k the week of April 6th, the US testing rate this past week came in at 148k a day, a slight dip and is staying there this week - not good peeps.  According to the Wordometers tracker, the US is high 30s/low 40s in the world in total tests per capita - a remarkably low figure given how widely the virus has spread here.  As of Sunday, 32 countries had done 50% more testing than the US, and 19 TWICE as much.  One would have imagined that a country this deep into its deadly outbreak would have dramatically accelerated its testing regime - and while it has improved, it has not kept pace with what is needed or is commonplace in other nations. 

The US's continued struggle with testing of course raises questions about our ability to stand the country back up, a process which will require us to be testing at far higher rates (3-5-10 times?) with tests which provide immediate results - not the many day wait which is the standard now.  Politico has a new story about our ongoing testing fiasco, as does last Friday's Washington Post.

As this Newsweek article reminds us VP Mike Pence promised 5m tests by March 13th, and others in the Administration said there would be tens of millions of tests available soon after.  More than a month later we've  only tested 4m people, and won't hit Pence's promised 5m number until the end of this month - six weeks after those tests were supposedly in place, ready to go. We still need to know what happened to all those tests the VP promised us. 

America Needs A Plan to Defeat COVID19, Not More Magical Thinking - It's been more than three months now since the first recorded COVID death in the US, and it is hard to put into words has little the US government has done to tackle the public health side of this crisis.  The President’s main initiative, his travel bans, clearly didn’t work; our testing/tracing regime still isn’t fully up and running; the President's unwillingness to provide equipment to hospitals remains reckless, inexplicable and sadistic; social distancing and school/business closures have all been done at the state and local level - a process he has repeatedly undermined. 

Recently the President said that he doesn't believe that fighting COVID19 is a federal responsibility despite his "wartime" language. He ignored repeated warnings from his own intelligence community that COVID could be the big one.  His refusal to craft a single national strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus will end up costing us many many lives and untold damage to our economy and society more broadly; that the President is relentlessly lying and misninforming all of us about what is happening makes it all that much more worse. 

We agree with with the assessment of Jeremy Konyndyk in this new thorough Guardian look at what went wrong here in the US: "We are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times.”  The Washington Post and the New York Times have also both published sweeping examinations of all Trump's early mistakes and those the days squandered. 

The exploding infection rate here in the US proves the President's approach hasn't worked.  In recent weeks expert opinion has settled around a plan similar to the one we've been advocating:

1. Surge medical equipment/beds/staff to the front lines

2. Stand up a testing/isolation regime like South Korea's

3. Implement a mandatory national 21 day stay at home program (not just recommendations)

4. Launch a Manhattan Project for a vaccine/testing/etc (this is our #4, not all agree)

The economy cannot stand back up until the virus is tamed, and it's time for the President's magical thinking to end.  Now that Congress has taken dramatic steps to aid the US economy, it must step in now and make sure America finally has a plan to defeat the virus.  Our hope is that Speaker Pelosi form some kind of alliance with the nation's governors to not just get this plan in place but oversee its implementation in the coming months.  Getting America stood back up depends on it.  Such an alliance will also make it far harder for the President to keep pitting state against state, region against region. 

New from NBC News  - "The Trump administration's decision to let states chart their own responses to the coronavirus crisis rather than impose a national strategy will cost thousands of lives and is likely to result in an open-ended outbreak rolling across the country, a dozen public health experts told NBC News.

The only way to win what President Donald Trump has called a war against an "invisible enemy" is to establish a unified federal command, the experts insist — something Trump has yet to do. So far, the federal government hasn't leveraged all its authority and influence to dramatically expand testing and tracing measures, ensure a sufficient supply of crucial medical equipment or require residents of all 50 states to stay at home."

In a recent Today show interview Dr. Brix acknowledged the national social distancing effort has been inadequate, the national testing regime is still not yet stood up and if everything goes right the death toll in the US will be 100-200k. Senator Chris Murphy echoed this dispair at the lack of an effective national response in a new interview with Greg Sargent, and as did Rep. Adam Schiff in this interview. For more on what we need to do right now see these excellent essays:

Laurie Garrett "Sorry, America, the Full Lockdown Is Coming." Foreign Policy

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel "Fourteen Days. That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus." NYTimes

Drs. Carroll and Jha "Don’t Halt Social Distancing. Instead, Do It Right." The Atlantic

Professors Romer and Garber "Will Our Economy Die From Coronavirus?" NYTimes

Ed Yong "How the Pandemic Will End."  The Atlantic

NDN's been asking  our readers and members to call Congress every day until the President puts a plan in place and is clearly producing real results.  As we say above, the plan should include 3 core elements:

Surge Equipment/Beds/Staff To the Frontlines – The President and Congress have to take responsibility for a national plan to handle the extraordinary health care crisis that the nation will face in just a few days’ time.  We need wartime-level production of protective gear, ventilators, ICU beds, and isolation/quarantine wards.  We will need a way to employ more health care workers too – perhaps with temporary unemployment rising there can be a way to take qualified people and crash train them as hospital/health care staff. 

The President’s refusal to take responsibility for this part of our national response remains hard to understand and explain.  Congress must step in here and force both a funded national strategy and compliance with it in the coming days.  If the President really wants to show his support for a robust US healthcare system, the President should withdraw his support for a lawsuit which could cripple the ACA in the midst of this pandemic and encourage every state to expand Medicaid so more of our citizens get the care they need.  The President should also reverse hiis cruel new decision to prevent states from opening the ACA enrollment period to help ensure Americans who want to find health insurance right now can find it. 

Congress should open up an immediate investigation into news reports that Trump has sent life saving equipment to favored states and held it from ones he didn't like. The Governors of CO, CT, KY, MA, MI and MT have all complained that supply orders they'd made were taken by the federal government - why is this still happening and where are all the seized supplies going?

See these compelling clips of MD Gov Larry Hogan and NY Gov Andrew Cuomo discussing the dire supply chain issues facing the country.  Reports that US companies were still selling this critical equipment to overseas buyers are disturbing, as are the wildly ignorant statements by Jared Kushner from the White House podium recently about how the national supply chain was supposed to work. 

Would the states be on their own if a foreign nation attacked the US? In a terrorist attack? A natural disaster, extreme weather event? A serial killer who crosses state lines? If immigrants surged to our border, or if cartels were flooding the states with drugs? Or a recession, like now - didn't we see a strong coordinated federal response? Why would a pandemic, which has planned for over many years, and which the US was prepared for - be any different? The idea that the states are on their own to battle something which is affecting everyone American no matter where they live is among the most outrageously stupid moments in this terrible affair. 

In a related matter, it looks like the Senate GOP's war profiteering scandal - an extraordinary betrayal of the public trust - just got a whole lot worse.

On the good news front it appears the Army Corp of Engineers is being deployed to help build more medical facilities in US hot spots.  There are many reports now of this process being well underway and successful. 

More, Better, Faster Tests – While things have gotten better on the testing front, we still have a very long way to go before our tests are ubiquitous and rapid – everywhere and done in minutes/hours, not days.  If we are ever to return to normal, efforts to aggressively screen and isolate those with infection (in public buildings, ports of entry, schools, and sports arenas) will have to become routine – like texting a friend.  This Guardian story looks at how mass testing helped slow the virus's spread in one Italian town, and this new article in Science magazine explains how mass testing was key to South Korea's flattening of the curve without major lock downs.  This new Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer is an excellent deep dive on the importance of testing, and our massive failure to get it right so far. 

Developing ways of proving that you’ve had the virus and are now immune will also be really important, and would require, obviously, that every single American be tested at some point.  We found this thread by Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis to be helpful in understanding the issues around immunity and the need for rapid, ubiqitous "serology" tests which are of a different kind than the "PCR" tests which are being deployed right now.  The Washington Post just published this smart look at the importance of sreology tests for standing the country back up. 

So, yes, we are talking about billions, not tens of thousands, of tests. The government should be making this kind of ubiquitous rapid testing regime part of the mandate of a new “Manhattan Project” which works to not just defeat COVID but give America far better tools to fight future pandemics.  For more on the need for crashing a broad regime for advance a vaccine, therapeutics, hospital equipment and diagnostics see this thread from Dr. Scott Gottlieb and this Boston Globe op-ed from Senator Markey and Peter Slavin.   

We've started receiving good news on the testing front:

- the FDA recently announced the approval of a rapid point of care PCR COVID19 test by the California company, Cepheid. This test will be particularly important in hospitals and other triage facilities, and in keeping our front line health care professionals from getting sick themselves. 

- Abbott announced FDA approval for a 5-13 minute desktop PRC test - a huge advance if it can realized in the coming weeks.

- Ortho has started mass producing a lab based serology test.

Implement National Stay at Home/Develop A National Strategy For Students and Kids – As part of eventually developing a true national "stay at home" social/physical distancing strategy the US govt will have to help communities and families come to terms with what it means that kids may be home until the fall semester (no schools, summer activities).  This is a large and important area which needs far more attention and creativity, but two initial thoughts:

1) Their Health – the early messages about young people being less vulnerable to COVID-19 and thus somehow less responsible has to be corrected aggressively in the days ahead.  We know from data that young people in other countries have become infected at very high rates, and seem to be critical to the rapid transmission of COVID.  But it is also for themselves – early data here in the US show that young people are turning up in ICU units at much higher rates than in China, and COVID can permanently damage the lungs of anyone infected. 

Gov Cuomo weighed in last Saturday on the need to change our collective mindset about young people, Tweeting "Younger people listen up: 55% of NYS #Coronavirus cases are ages 18-49. Young people aren’t invincible. You can get this and you can give it to someone older you love. You shouldn’t endanger your own health & you certainly shouldn't endanger other people's health. #StayAtHome." More leadership like this please.

2) Their Sanity - What do we do with our kids for the next six months if schools and summer camps are cancelled? This is not just a sanity thing for these students and families - having kids at home will make it far harder to stand the economy back up when the virus ebbs. 

It is our recommendation that all schools and colleges involved in distance learning now develop a “pandemic module” to help young people better understand how to stay safe, reduce infection, and navigate the rigors of life at home, away from their friends and the lives they’ve built for themselves.  These kinds of courses may be the most valuable things that schools can do in the months ahead.

 
 

Syndicate content