Coronavirus Tidbits #32 4/11/20


First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.

Tidbits will likely be a bit shorter and a little less frequent for the next little bit. I have been immersed in it and I need to spend a little more time on self-care, which for me means seeing the spring flowers emerge and digging in the dirt. Pesach is always a bit rough anyway, so I will turn to more nature.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.


Urgent Volunteer Opportunity: NIH begins study to quantify undetected cases of coronavirus infection

to determine how many adults in the United States without a confirmed history of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), have antibodies to the virus. The presence of antibodies in the blood indicates a prior infection.

Just requires you to obtain and mail a pin-prick of blood in a kit they will send you.

For more information, click here or contact Office of Patient Recruitment (OPR)    800-411-1222 ext TTY8664111010

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Trump allows drive-up gun sales

As domestic violence hotlines see huge surge in calls and we’ve seen multiple coronavirus-related suicides and homicides.... Unbelievable....except we know who profits off the blood money.

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Trump: "Antibiotics used to solve every problem and now one of the biggest problems the world has is the germ has gotten so brilliant that the anti-antibiotic can't keep up with it."

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How Did the U.S. End Up with Nurses Wearing Garbage Bags?

"What they did not foresee was that the federal government might never come to the rescue. They did not realize this was a government failure by design—not a problem to be fixed but a policy choice by President Trump that either would not or could not be undone...

The news agency found that not a single shipment of medical-grade N95 masks arrived at U.S. ports during the month of March. The federal gov't was not only disorganized; it was absent. Federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders."

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Louisiana church expecting 2,000 at Easter service despite coronavirus:

"Satan and a virus will not stop us" #COVIDIOTS endangering us all.

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Yesterday 10,000 cars in San Antonio lined up for food distribution.

More than any picture or statistic I’ve seen, this is what scares me.

At the same time, farmers dumped 11% of the milk supply, poultry producers broke eggs - this week no longer needed by restaurants, schools and hotels. 10,000 cars lined up for food in San Antonio. Our federal gov’t has done nothing to plan for strains on our food supply, which was obv coming.

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Trump refuses aid to help Postal Service debt, almost all of which comes from a congressional requirement to prepay pension and retiree health care costs for all employees, even those who haven’t yet retired.

Under normal market conditions, the Postal Service nearly breaks even, save for the pension account debt, despite cratering volume

Your regular reminder that the Postal Service was running a profit and would be running a profit if the Bush admin and Congress hadn’t required it, in 2006, to permanently fund its retirement 50 years in advance, a requirement no other business has ever met.

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Experts inside and outside the government identified the threat early on and sought to raise alarms even as President Trump was moving slowly. Read some of what they had to say among themselves at critical moments.

Full article here.

Summary thread here.


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.


Dr. Robin Armstrong, a prominent GOP activist, gave nursing home residents hydroxychloroquine without consent, and without any permission to conduct such a "study" on COVID-19 patients. He got support in obtaining the drug from other prominent GOP.

There is no sound evidence that hydrochloroquine works. It does have serious side effects. And conducting clinical trials without informed consent is a violation of fundamental bioethics regulations.


Epidemiology/Infection control:

Contact tracing - key to control (along w accurate testing)

Those same tactics — public health investigators making phone calls and working out in the community — seem to be the most effective tool we have for contact tracing. And the good news is that savvy public health departments — like San Francisco’s — are already ramping up. Here’s James Temple in the MIT Tech Review on what he describes as one of the first such efforts in the country:

The Department of Public Health is supplementing its own staff with city librarians and dozens of researchers, medical students, and others from the University of California, San Francisco. City health workers have already been contact tracing on a small level, but they plan to significantly scale up the effort over the next few weeks. The team includes about 40 people and could rise as high as 150.

The task force will interview every patient who tests positive and provide necessary support to ensure that all are completely isolating themselves, down to helping them find and get to shelter if necessary. They also expect to reach out to between three and five people that patients came into contact with in the preceding days. They’ll alert them they may have been exposed, ask them to limit their contacts, and either encourage them to go in for a test or bring one to them. Those who test positive will trigger additional rounds of interviews and contact tracing.

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


Love this idea from Beth Elzer @macbethdc: Medics tape photos of themselves smiling on their PPE so patients can see a reassuring & friendly face. Human connection + compassion creatively maintained #covid19

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Why in times of COVID-19 you should not walk/run/bike close to each other.

On the basis of these results the scientist advises that for walking the distance of people moving in the same direction in 1 line should be at least 4–5 meter, for running and slow biking it should be 10 meters and for hard biking at least 20 meters.



"To hear a man who doesn't understand the value of a single human life speak casually of the prospect of losing 100,000 of them is unbearable."
Walter Shaub @waltshaub, April 8

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Trump’s purge is about to get much worse.

He has just gotten rid of a number of the Inspector Generals.

"It’s worth stressing that Trump’s purging isn’t just retaliatory, it’s forward-looking, too. By removing officials who committed the sin of trying to defend the rule of law from his efforts to corrupt it, Trump sends a message to others about what awaits them if they try to stand in the way."

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Rep. Porter has receipts showing Trump chose a quick buck over American lives

According to the report, the United States was not simply ill-prepared for the coming pandemic—they were actively making big money depleting our medical resources, making us even less prepared: “The value of U.S. ventilator exports jumped 22.7% percent from January to February.”

And it wasn’t only ventilators. Porter says her team “found that in February 2020, the value of U.S. mask exports to China was 1,094% higher than the 2019 monthly average.”

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Ventilators as patronage for vulnerable Republican senators

Arizona and Colorado get ventilators.  California gets broken vents, and Massachusetts' seem to have been rerouted.

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Post Office debt

Trump and Mnuchin refuse emergency aid. See above in news and here.

Trump has long wanted to privatize the Post Office, apparently to hurt his perceived enemy, Jeff Bezos/Amazon, and to enrich his cronies.

One other, more nefarious reason, it to stymie states efforts to expand voting by mail.

But some Republicans have openly protested expanding vote by mail options because they believe it would hurt them politically. Trump  said in a recent "Fox & Friends" appearance that the House's stimulus provisions had "levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, the ranking member of the House Oversight subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, tweeted that expanding vote by mail "would be the end of our Republic as we know it." And in Georgia, which is set to hold primaries on May 19, a Republican leader in the state legislature argued that sending every registered voter an absentee ballot would be "extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia."



Feel good du jour:

I found this very moving:

Choir of Women Physicians sings RISE AGAIN (virtually)

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Anand Doobay @AnandDoobay
The ICU team @MSHospitalhas been working night and day for the health and safety of each other and our many ventilated COVID patients so when we extubate one...... we dance
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A team of 20 UCSF nurses & doctors traveled to New York to care for patients at @nyphospital for the next month! We are grateful to this awesome group for volunteering to work in the heart of the #COVID19 pandemic—and to our equally awesome staff caring for patients in #SF.

Comic relief:

Late night TV show commentaries: (Though I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry over some of these)

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kind of pathetic, but so relatable: "Game of Bones" w Olive and Mabel


"Pandemic diary: Walked around in the wind this morning, trying to scour a bad dream from my brain. Realized if you cry on a walk now, it's okay. No one will get close enough to notice. There are petals everywhere like confetti no one swept up after a party." Maggie Smith, April 9
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The problem isn't the virus. The virus is exposing the problem, which is this: When the choice is between seeking solutions that are unprofitable to save lives, and insisting on profit despite death, our systems of power will insist on the profit and the death. 
We have food, yet people are hungry.
We have housing, yet people have no shelter.
We could forgive the debt, yet people are crushed.
We have money, yet people are desperate.The virus isn't the problem.
The virus exposes the problem. 

If people are hungry in a land that had plenty, then hunger is not the problem.

If people are desperate in a rich land, the desperation is not the problem.

As a cough is not a virus, but only exposes it, so the virus, symptomatic, exposes our true problem: a theft economy. 

Yes. To be specific rather than implicit, it isn't the *underlying* problem. It is the *exigent* problem.

It is definitely & obviously a problem, just as symptoms of a disease are a problem.

But, symptomatic, it exposes the great underlying problem.

Thread by @JuliusGoat

Bits of beauty:


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