Bloodletting the American economy

By John Ruberry

I am living in the third week of Illinois’ shelter-in-place order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The streets are quiet, the parking lots in many retail spots are either empty, if it’s a mall, or less crowded if that shopping area has a grocery store.

At home there are three of us. I’m the only one with a job. I’m a commission sales person but income is down. Mrs. Marathon Pundit, after getting laid off a month ago, drove Uber until the shelter-in-place order was put in place on March 21. She filed for unemployment for her first time the following week. Little Marathon Pundit’s employer shut down when the shelter-in-place order went into effect. She was paid until she was informed by a letter yesterday that she was furloughed–then she promptly filed a jobless claim. Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans have done the same recently.

We are holding up okay. We are healthy and not suffering from anxiety. I’ll have more on mental health later.

As of Easter morning there have been nearly 20,000 confirmed novel coronavirus in the Land of Lincoln with 677 deaths. Each person was loved and will be missed. Each death is a tragedy.

Yet most of the COVID-19 fatalities already had illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Or they suffered from unhealthy underlying factors such as high blood pressure and obesity. Or they smoked. Let me repeat, each death is a tragedy.

Two weeks ago in this space I wrote about what I still believe is an overreach in Chicago in response to coronavirus. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, among other things, has closed Chicago’s sprawling lakefront to even solitary walkers, runners, and cyclists. Barbershops and hair salons, along with many other businesses, have been viewed as non-essential by Governor JB Pritzker, although that didn’t stop Lightfoot from getting her  hair done.

But Lightfoot’s reaction is mild compared to what is going on in a nearby state, Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a Democrat like Lightfoot and Pritzker. While she hasn’t run out of things to ban or shutter, Whitmer, who is supposedly on Joe Biden’s shortlist of running mates, might reach that millstone.

Travel between homes–even walking across the street–is banned in the Great Lakes State, unless it involves checking on someone’s health. Stores deemed essential are open, but in a bizarre overreach, garden center sections in those open retail outlets are cordoned off, including seed displays. Gardening, generally a solitary pursuit, is a fabulous mental health salve.

Yes, Michigan has one of the highest coronavirus rates in the nation. Cases are concentrated in the Detroit area, which by all accounts has disproportionately more residents suffering from the underlying health issues I mentioned earlier.

There is speculation over a second wave of COVID-19 coming later this year. If that’s the case in between there will be a mental health crisis. Joblessness and money troubles are a reliable predictor of suicides

Not every family is a happy one. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has already decried the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” now that much of the planet is enduring a lockdown. Alcohol sales are up since the shelter-in-place orders began. Will this lead to a higher rate of alcoholism? Will problem drinkers who kicked the habit suffer a relapse? Will there be a hike in narcotics abuse?

Liquor stores are open in everywhere where they were before the pandemic–I’m not calling for their closure. In Michigan you can buy booze and visit a marijuana dispensary. But stay away from that seed aisle at the local big box store! Governor Gretchen Whitless is watching!

Lee Chatfield, a Republican, is the speaker of the Michigan House.

Flint, which is no stranger to economic turmoil, issued a 9am-6pm curfew as long as Whitmer’s shelter-in-place order is effect. Violators face up to $2,000 in fines and six months in jail. Even the ACLU is rolling its eyes over the Flint curfew. I’ve been to Flint. Take my word for it, most residents of the Vehicle City don’t have $2,000 lying around. 

Two hundred years ago  bloodletting was viewed by most physicians as a valid and effective medical treatment for a variety of illnesses. George Washington, a believer in bloodletting, was arguably killed by his doctor who bled him as he was suffering from a throat infection. That cure for Washington and countless others was worse than the disease. 

Now I fear we are bloodletting the American economy. I fear the wide-ranging shelter-in-place orders could trigger an economic depression with the horrible health repercussions I described above. And more. 

President Donald Trump is right. We need to re-open the American economy as soon as possible. 

Our collective health depends on it. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Adventures in Tyranny

Crises and actors

by baldilocks

Don Surber:

The biggest fear for Democrats today are chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Democrat governors in Michigan and Nevada have banned their use to fight COVID-19, not because the drugs may harm people but because the drugs may work.

The party’s flying monkeys in the press are casting shade on this possible cure.

Politico reported, “President Donald Trump’s all-out push to advance unproven corona virus treatments is deepening a divide between the White House and career health officials, who are being pulled away from other potential projects to address the president’s hunch that decades-old malaria medicines can be corona virus cures.

“The White House directed health officials to set up a project to track if the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine show promise — a dayslong effort that distracted from urgent tasks like trials of other medicines thought to have more potential against the virus. Food and Drug Administration officials also reversed a nearly six-year ban on a troubled Indian manufacturer in a bid to secure the drugs, and top advisers to Trump have encouraged other agencies to locate as much of the product as possible. The White House is also pressuring Medicare officials to pay for unproven treatments being given to desperate patients during a pandemic.”

The headline read, “Trump’s push for risky malaria drugs disrupts corona virus response.”

The risk the Democrats fear is success.

Emphasis mine.

Hard to believe, is it not? But then, if someone had told you three months ago that, by the end of March, we’d all be in our homes, banned from going to work, school, church, etc., and afraid to touch anything, much less each other, you would have labelled the prognosticator as nuts.

And could it be that a drug which has been around for centuries and used to treat malaria and many other conditions is the answer?

Don is right, but it isn’t only success of Donald Trump that they fear. Remember: “never let a crisis go to waste?” In my opinion, they are seeing how much that citizens will put up with from government.

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam [D] held a press conference Tuesday morning where he recommended limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, in accordance with President Donald Trump’s most recent coronavirus guidelines.

By Tuesday night, Northam had sent out the 10-person limit as an executive order.

Churches, too.

California:

LOS ANGELES – In a sit-down interview with FOX 11, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva declared gun stores as nonessential businesses that will be forced to close.

Sheriff Villanueva also said he’s adding 1,300 deputies to patrol, that he’s released 1,700 nonviolent inmates from county jails, and criticized how local politicians have handled the messaging behind the numerous stay-at-home orders

Rescinded … for now.

Illinois:

The mayor of Champaign, Illinois, gave herself the power to ban the sale of guns and alcohol after declaring a citywide emergency to address the coronavirus.

Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen signed the executive order on Thursday declaring a state of emergency for the city. That executive order, which is in line with municipal code, comes with extraordinary powers for the mayor to enact over a short period of time as the city combats the spread of the coronavirus.

New Jersey:

Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered all collision repairers and other businesses with personal protective equipment to submit an inventory to the state by 5 p.m. Friday.

“Any business or non-hospital health care facility, including but not limited to dental facilities, construction facilities, research facilities, office-based healthcare or veterinary practices, and institutions of higher learning, in possession of PPE, ventilators, respirators, or anesthesia machines that are not required for the provision of critical health care services should undertake an inventory of such supplies and send that information to the State by no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 2020,” Murphy ordered Monday.

There are many other examples, but, simply, a potential cure will halt the experimentation of various levels of authoritarianism. This is the other fear of the Democrats.

But, if you ask me, the experiment has already shown “successful” results.

And dashing hopes for a cure is an attempt to soften the ground for more. If the people believe that there will be no cure, we are more likely to let government have its way with us.

Pun intended.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Follow Juliette on FacebookTwitterMeWePatreon and Social Quodverum.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar!

Or hit Juliette’s!

Review, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

By John Ruberry

“While we can’t predict where the next influenza pandemic is going to come from,” Dennis Carroll, the director of the emerging threats unit of US Agency for International Development, says in the third episode of the new six episode Netflix documentary series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, “there are certain places that you want to pay particular attention to–and China is one of those, that’s the place where we’ve seen the emergence of virtually all of the deadly influenza viruses over the last half-century.”

Carroll says this while images of a Vietnamese wet market, where live chickens are sold and slaughtered, are shown.

“We know that viruses move from wildlife into livestock into people,” he says early in that same episode.

I’m writing this from home in Illinois, where I am living under Governor JB Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order because of the COVID-19 coronoavirus outbreak. While the origin of this disease is still being debated it is likely, according to experts, that it did first infect humans at a wet market.

I saw Pandemic last week on my Netflix welcome screen and at first I looked away and said to myself, “If I want to know about pandemics I can switch on the local news–or cable news.” And I was concerned that this was, to use the legendary chant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a “bring out your dead” series. And it starts that way, with Carroll, at a mass grave in western Pennsylvania, one that is marked by a single crucifix. The site contains the remains of victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Yes, not only can it happen here–but it has happened here.

And the “not-if-but-when” pandemic has arrived, only it’s coronavirus instead of influenza.

The focus of Pandemic is on the scientists, the aid workers, and the doctors on the front lines of disease prevention and cures. People like Jake Glanville and Sarah Ives, the scientists who are working with pigs in Guatemala to develop an all-strains flu virus, as well as Dr. Dinesh Vijay, who treats flu patients at a crowded hospital in Jaipur, India. But disease isn’t just an urban phenomenon. In Pandemic, we meet Holly Goracke, the sole doctor at tiny Jefferson County Hospital in rural Oklahoma, who works 72-hour shifts. And we also become acquainted with Dr.Syra Madad, the director of the special pathogens program of New York City Health and Hospitals.

Along the way we are introduced to anti-vaccination activists in Oregon, health care workers at an Arizona border detention center, and World Health Organization disease fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who not only face the risk of contracting the extremely deadly Ebola virus, but also getting murdered by gangs.

Surprisingly, religion is viewed favorably in this scientific docuseries. Madad, Goracke, and Vijay all rely on faith to strengthen them as they battle disease.

Not surprisingly there are a few knocks in Pandemic over lack of funding from the Trump administration. Including from Madad. But she’s not infallible. In January, in a CNBC interview shortly after the debut of Pandemic, Madad praised China’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, although she did parse her statement with, “It’s too early to tell.” I wager she’d like to take that praise back.

If you are suffering from anxiety over coronavirus, you may want to stay away from Pandemic. The same goes if you are an anti-vaxxer–you’ll just get POd. Also, I suggest if you decide to view Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak then take it in just one episode at a time. At times the series is emotionally exhausting.

Pandemic is rated TV-14, Netflix says, because of foul language and smoking. And there are some disturbing scenes.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Phase 0 planning

No toilet paper! From Inquirer.net

When something shuts down Disney World, its a big deal. Between the NBA, international travel and large gatherings, COVID-19 seems to be shutting down the world. In this backdrop, its a good time to review why planning is so critical.

In my home, hurricanes are a thing, and every year we get threatened with a hurricane of some kind. In typical hurricane fashion, everyone runs to the store and buys every bottle of water and roll of toilet paper. Then the panic subsides and we move on. After getting stung one year, I did some research and found that on average, a hurricane knocks out power for about 3 days. I then logged over a week how much of different items my family used, including toilet paper (yes, my wife thought I was weird). I then bought 4 days worth of toilet paper, water, plasticware, garbage bags and non-perishable food, and stuffed it at the top of my pantry.

Next hurricane, everyone freaked out, lost power for one day, we were fine. I still have the same amount of supplies sitting in my pantry, and I occasionally dig into them during a non-crisis to replenish them.

COVID-19 is no different. In many ways, its less taxing, because its not blocking roads or turning off power. The human panic response is typical, and no matter how often we wish people would not panic, they do. We can fight the lines, or we can plan. In the military, we call it “Phase 0” planning when we make plans while in peace time. The process of making the plan forces us to think about what we need and to advocate for it early, before a crisis starts, so that we enter crisis with a good chance of winning.

So as the COVID-19 crisis rages on, take notes. Look at what you really need during the next week to live. How much toilet paper do you use? How much water? How much food? How much entertainment? If that last one seems weird, just ask any parent of a bored kid how important entertainment is, and you’ll soon ensure you have board games and books in reserve.

Come out of this crisis ready for the next, and while it won’t stop the panic buying of toilet paper, it will mean you won’t be standing in line at the grocery store.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. Well, maybe FEMA would encourage you to do what I did.