- After Trump said he wants to reopen the economy by Easter, several leaders seemed hesitant to do so, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. He said the day must be “flexible,” and that we must look at the situation on a “day-by-day and week-by-week basis.“
- Other governors like Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom expressed their doubts as well. Newsom thinks California might have another 8-12 of isolation measures, while Cuomo said that the economy cannot come at the cost of human life.
- But since The majority of states with shelter in place measures are run by Democrats, it looks like Trump’s messaging about keeping the economy alive could be resonating well within his party: Only four of the 17 states with these mandates have Republican governors.
- Trump is not the only global leader who wants to hop on the fast track to regular life, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro told the country they should go to work, which was met by people protesting from their windows.
Dr. Fauci Says Easter Goal Must Be “Flexible”
After President Donald Trump said he hopes to end federal restrictions and open the economy by Easter, several leaders expressed their concerns about this high-speed deadline.
Easter Sunday will be observed on April 12 this year, which is just 18 days away. Trump thinks getting people back to their day-to-day lives by then is a “beautiful timeline.” He even added that he hoped to see “packed churches” on the holiday.
Shortly after he continued to express this wish, however, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that date cannot be set in stone.
“That’s really very flexible,” he said during a Tuesday press conference. “We just had a conversation with the President in the Oval Office talking about, you know, you could look at a date but you’ve got to be very flexible on a literal day-by-day and week-by-week basis. You need to evaluate the feasibility of what you’re trying to do.”
Dr. Fuaci is among the majority of health experts who advise that a longer span of isolation is the most effective way to prevent the continued spread of the coronavirus. While speaking to reporters, he also said that because the country is so big and the situation so different in various areas, the response must be flexible and adaptive to that.
“So I think people might get the misinterpretation, you’re just going to lift everything up even if somebody’s going like that,” Dr. Fauci added, gesturing upward, suggesting a spike in cases. “That’s not going to happen, it’s going to be looking at the data.”
New York and California
On a state level, leaders also took issue with Trump’s messaging. California Governor Gavin Newsom said during a Tuesday press conference that his state, which is currently following “Safer at Home” guidelines until at least April 19, is looking at a much longer timeline.
According to Newsom, a “sober” assessment of the situation could mean another 8-12 weeks of California residents in isolation.
“I think April for California would be sooner than any of the experts I have talked to would believe is possible,” he told reporters.
Newsom is not the only governor questioning Trump’s fast track to economic recovery. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been regularly critical of the federal government’s lagging response to the coronavirus. During a Wednesday press conference, he said that economic relief should not come at the cost of human life.
“No one will say it is sustainable to keep the economy closed. It is not sustainable,” Cuomo, who has claimed the national spotlight during this pandemic said. “We all got that. China got that, South Korea got that, etc. That’s point one. Point two: everyone agrees, I believe, in this state, we do everything we can to save a life. We are not going to triage and say ‘Well these were old people there were vulnerable people, they had to die sometime soon anyway.’”
New York is now being considered an epicenter of the American outbreak of COVID-19. Residents are currently in a shelter in place, and those who have recently been to New York City have been advised to put themselves in a 14-day quarantine. The state has over 30,000 cases.
Still, New York does not have even close to the amount of resources they need to fight the virus. On Tuesday, Cuomo said New York is in need of 30,000 ventilators. While the state has gotten its hands on a couple thousand on its own, FEMA offered only 400.
“Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo asked during a press conference. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”
Blue States Shelter in Place
California and New York have something in common with many of the states observing shelter in place orders: Democratic leadership. There are currently 17 states following these guidelines, 13 of which have Democratic governors. Only four, Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, and West Virginia, are led by a Republican.
This divide gives the appearance Republican leaders are abiding by Trump’s tendency to put the economy first, and not strictly follow guidelines of social distancing. This creates an imbalance of the way the virus is being treated nationwide. This gap could be made more apparent on Easter if Trump goes through with his plans to open things up again.
Brazil and Bolsonaro
Trump is not the only leader on the global stage saying his country should already be opening businesses back up. On Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he would like to get his citizens back to work.
“We must return to normality,” he said. He also called the coronavirus a “small flu” in the same briefing. His response has not been received well by Brazilians.
Residents have proved that protesting while social distancing is in fact possible by taking to their windows to show their disapproval of Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. While quarantining, many have been chanting or banging pots and pans, as isolation makes taking to the streets impossible.
“The feeling I have is that the presidential chair is empty,” one protester told The Guardian. “That we don’t have a president – we have a clown who doesn’t know what he is doing.”
See what others are saying: (Axios) (Wall Street Journal) (The Guardian)
Inmates Sue Jail for Giving Them Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19 Without Consent
Four detainees who filed the suit allege that the jail’s doctor gave them “incredibly high doses” of the anti-parasite in a “cocktail of drugs” that he said were “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
Washington County Detention Center Lawsuit
Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were unknowingly given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent by the detention center’s doctor after contracting COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless other medical experts have said that ivermectin — commonly used for livestock — can be dangerous and should not be used to treat the coronavirus.
According to the lawsuit, after testing positive for COVID in August, the four men at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) were given a “cocktail of drugs” twice a day by the facility’s doctor, Robert Karas.
The inmates claim that Dr. Karas did not tell them that he was giving them ivermectin, but instead said the drugs consisted of “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
The complaint also alleges that the detainees were given “incredibly high doses” of the drug, causing some to experience “vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps.”
Use on Other Inmates
The four plaintiffs were far from the only people to whom Karas gave ivermectin.
According to the lawsuit, the doctor began using the drug to treat COVID starting in November of 2020. In August, the Washington County sheriff confirmed at a local finance and budget committee meeting that the doctor had been prescribing the drug to inmates, prompting the Arkansas Medical Board to launch an investigation.
In response, Karas informed a Medical Board investigator in a letter from his attorney that 254 inmates at the facility had been treated with ivermectin.
In the letter, he confirmed that whether or not detainees were given information about ivermectin was dependent on who administered it, but paramedics were not required to discuss the drug with them.
He also admitted that after the practice got media coverage, he “adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren’t.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the suit on behalf of the inmates, also claimed in a statement that after questions were raised about the practice, the jail attempted to make detainees sign forms saying that they retroactively agreed to the treatments.
The WCDC has not issued a public response to the lawsuits, but Dr. Karas appeared to address the situation in a Facebook post where he defended his actions.
“Guess we made the news again this week; still with best record in the world at the jail with the same protocols,” he wrote. “Inmates aren’t dumb and I suspect in the future other inmates around the country will be suiing their facilities requesting same treatment we’re using at WCDC-including the Ivermectin.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (NBC News)
Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan
The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”
Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify
A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts.
Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation
Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”
“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”
Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)
Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.
In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.
New Cases Flattening
After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.
Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days.
New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.
Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.
Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.
According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.
In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.
Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit.
While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.