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Monday, March 30, 2020

This Is A Warning!

While many people in the US and Canada still think that the corona virus is just another flu or a "hoax", the news from ITALY tells us the gruesome reality.  I just received an email from a friend reporting that 800 people have died in Bergamo, northern Italy IN ONE DAY! 

Let that sink in for a moment. 

Italy’s coronavirus death toll inches towards 10,000. Many are asking why the fatality rate is so high

With 86,498 confirmed cases, Italy appears to have the highest death rate on the planet.

Coffins arriving from the Bergamo area, where the coronavirus infections caused many victims, are being unloaded from a military truck that transported them in the cemetery of Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan in Northern Italy, Friday, March 27, 2020.  The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.  (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)Coffins arriving from the Bergamo area, where the coronavirus infections caused many victims, are being unloaded from a military truck that transported them in the cemetery of Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan in Northern Italy, Friday, March 27, 2020. 
ITALY – (CNN) -- When Milan resident Antonia Mortensen was pulled over by police while driving recently, it wasn't for a traffic offense. It was to instruct her fellow passenger to sit in the back of the car and to check that both were wearing face masks.

"We were told we cannot both sit in the front," said the CNN journalist, who was on her way to hospital with her husband to visit a sick relative.

“We have a special certificate giving us permission to go to the hospital,” she said, adding that the relative does not have coronavirus.

Such are the tight restrictions on Italians now living in the deadliest hotspot of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Italy's death toll is now the highest in the world at 9,134. Fatalities continue to inch towards the grim milestone of 10,000, with the country recording more than 900 deaths on Friday alone -- the biggest daily jump since the crisis began, according to Italy's Civil Protection Agency.

With 86,498 confirmed cases, Italy appears to have the highest death rate on the planet. Compare it to China, the epicenter of the pandemic, which has a similar number of confirmed cases at 81,997, but fewer than half the deaths at 3,299, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

Indeed Italy now has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States, which stands at 105,470. But the US has a fraction of the deaths, at just over 1,700.

As Italy enters its sixth week of restrictions, many are asking: why does its death rate seem so much higher than other countries?

Experts say it's down to a combination of factors, like the country's large elderly population which is more susceptible to the virus, and the method of testing that's not giving the full picture about infections.

Italy's number of confirmed cases is "not representative of the entire infected population," said Dr. Massimo Galli, head of the infectious disease unit at Sacco Hospital in Milan. The real figure was "much much more."

Only the most severe cases are being tested, added Galli, and not the entire population -- which in turn, skews the death rate.

In the northern Lombardy region, which has the majority of cases, about 5,000 swabs are being carried out daily, said Galli. He added this was "much lower than needed, with "thousands of people waiting for diagnosis at their home."

A major obstacle for health workers carrying out tests, was limited protective gear available, he said.

In a stark warning to other countries, Galli said: "We have a national healthcare system that works very well, especially in Lombardy -- but even our system has been hit by this.

"Miracles have been done in multiplying the numbers of beds in hospitals," said the health expert. But medicine "has been lacking -- and this is a big problem that will be felt by other countries."

Another factor in the seemingly high death rate is Italy's elderly population, which is the largest in the world behind Japan.

The average age of Italian patients who have died after testing positive for the virus was 78, the country's Health Institute said Friday.

Galli said that until now, Italy's public healthcare system was able to keep a lot of elderly people with pre-existing medical conditions alive.

But these patients were in "a really fragile situation that can be broken by a virus like coronavirus," he added.

Still, there have been some stories of hope. Like 102-year-old woman Italica Grondona, who recovered from coronavirus in the northern city of Genoa after spending more than 20 days in hospital, doctors who treated the woman and her nephew told CNN.

'We nicknamed her Highlander -- the immortal," said doctor Vera Sicbaldi. "Italica represents a hope for all the elderly facing this pandemic."

Meanwhile, some experts have questioned whether Italy's restrictions have gone far enough in halting the virus spread.

China's Wuhan city was the first to impose a sweeping lockdown on its 11 million citizens back in January, with all flights, trains and buses canceled and highway entrances blocked.

Now, more than two months later, officials in the pandemic epicenter are looking to ease those restrictions as new cases dry up. Italy meanwhile, is steadily ramping things up.

Italians now face steep fines of up to 3,000 euros ($3,350) for defying government orders of only going outside for essential items like food, Reuters reported.

But Dr. Giorgio Palu, former president of the European and Italian Society for Virology and a professor of virology and microbiology of the University of Padova, told CNN that the Italian measures are "not so forceful or strict like the Chinese ones."

"But this is the best you can do in a democracy," he added, pointing to the draconian restrictions implemented by China's communist state.

That said, "some constitutional rights are taken from us," Palu said of Italians' freedom. "We can't have public gatherings now."

But with the death toll continuing to rise, Italy's restrictions don't look like easing up any time soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

How It Is Done In Taiwan

University Researcher Mat Carney says "life is pretty much the same as it was" before the COVID-19 outbreak three months ago. "The markets are busy, the shopping malls are busy, people are out and about. The only difference really is everywhere you go... your temperature is taken and people squirt hand sanitiser into your hand," Mr Carney said. Sky News host Andrew Bolt highlighted the effective management of COVID-19 Taiwan has undertaken without the need to close businesses or impose strict social rules. "Taiwan is a country with about our population. It is more vulnerable and has had more people travel to and from China," Mr Bolt said. "But in Taiwan, fewer than 260 people have been infected and just two have died." Taiwan's current strategy involves imposing isolation measures on sick, elderly or potentially infectious individuals rather than the broader population. However, it ensures temperature checkers are used in all public places and hand sanitiser is distributed widely, banning anyone with high temperatures or who refuse to sanitise.

If you want to see the full video click on the above link.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Trump doesn’t really want to restart the economy — he’s preparing the ground to blame Democrats and the media for the coming recession

on March 24, 2020
By Joshua Holland

Under pressure from business leaders and conservative pundits, Donald Trump is reportedly considering asking those who are at elevated risk of death from COVID-19 to isolate themselves and “opening” the economy back up for everyone else. But that’s not an option. Trump doesn’t have the power to flip the switch on the economy in the midst of a pandemic.

And on some level, he knows it. Trump doesn’t really want cases of COVID-19 to spike after schools and businesses re-open prematurely. Rather, this is transparent strategy to shift responsibility for the inevitable consequences of his miserable response to this crisis onto his political opponents.

But before we get into that, restarting the economy isn’t an option for Trump for a couple of reasons. First, the US, China and Iran are now the only countries that have severe outbreaks but haven’t yet issued a nationwide order banning group activities and shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, gyms and other public spaces (but note that China did lock down an entire province with 60 million people). As of yesterday afternoon, eight states (and a number of localities) had taken such steps but while other central governments can ease their countries’ restrictions, there is no federal lockdown for Trump to lift.

Second, if we were to ease the social distancing before “flattening the infection curve,” cases would continue to increase exponentially, our healthcare system would quickly be overwhelmed (it’s likely to be clobbered either way) and the mortality rate would spike. People would stay home out of self-preservation as the bodies stacked up regardless of what he says. (By a 60-40 margin, Americans don’t trust what Trump says about the pandemic generally.)

This is also a worldwide economic crash that was precipitated not only by a drop in consumer demand but also by massive supply-chain disruptions in our highly globalized economy. There is nothing Trump can say or do to make those problems go away.

Conservatives have convinced themselves that we face a choice between mitigating the severity of the outbreak and tanking the economy. The stark reality is that it isn’t the media or Democrats who are pounding the markets, it’s COVID-19. We can either support the economy while mitigating the impact of the outbreak or we can let it spiral out of control and face a much more severe economic crash as a consequence.

If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die.

While it’s true that Trump puts more faith in the bobbleheads on Fox and Friends than in the public health experts who brief him, he must understand this to a degree. He knows that forecasters predict a drop in America’s gross domestic product of between 8-15 percent in the second quarter of this year. And he knows that governors, whose own political fortunes are going to be determined by how they manage this disaster, are not going to heed his call to re-open businesses.

Trump’s strategy here is clear. He’s incapable of even considering any political approach other than firing up his base, and he hopes to deepen the existing partisan divide on the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then blame the media and Democratic governors for the economic tsunami that’s about to break over our shores. (It’s a safe bet that the Republican governors who have acted aggressively to contain the pandemic–notably Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Ohio’s Mike DeWine and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan–will also ignore conservative demands to re-open schools and businesses, but that reality won’t impact the rhetoric coming from the White House briefing room or from the idiots on Fox News.) This is all about laying the groundwork to claim that he desperately tried to keep the economy humming but was thwarted by others.

Trump is blaming Governor Cuomo for his own failures while Fox News anchors make jokes about social distancing.

This is a nightmare. For the country to die like this is a literal nightmare.

But this strategy poses a serious problem for Trump because he can’t bullshit his way out of this crisis. We’re having this conversation as the US has suffered around 600 deaths from the pandemic (602 as of this writing), but that number is doubling every three days. If current trends persist, we’ll be looking at 2,400 deaths within a week, and 10,000 a week after that. Trump is the president*, and while he would like the media to stop talking about his bumbling mismanagement, especially during the crucially important early weeks of the outbreak, that is not going to happen.

It also poses a serious problem for the people of the United States. Trump can’t turn the economy back on, but he can convince enough of his base that they don’t need to take voluntary measures to contain the chain of transmission or that they should ignore orders to stay home to make the outbreak much worse than it would otherwise be.

This doesn’t appear to be a concern for Trump and his apologists, but make no mistake: People will die unnecessarily as a result of one man’s desperate re-election strategy.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Getting The Time To Pass

Time is at a stand-still. We have paused. Iam waking up in the morning and I hope that this turns out to be a bad dream only, a nightmare that has not come to pass.

But when the mind clears I realize it's still there. It's 7am and I have to get up. Well no, I don't HAVE to get up. I can rest another hour or two or three. It wouldn't matter, except that Dixie would have to get outside.

With an empty feeling I get down the stairs. On the way to the living room I start the coffee. Dixie is still on her bed, fast asleep as it seems. But I see one eye looking up at me.
With the fire burning, I get back into the kitchen, let Dixie get outside. 
The hot coffee wakes me up completely. It's always the same - every morning.

Turning on the WIFI I start looking up the news.
Another outrageous number of corona-dead people in Italy. Warnings that it will be even worse in the US.

Is this going to be how we gonna live? My province has declared a State of Emergency. Borders are closed everywhere. But I know the people of this island can still get across for "essential" travel. It is essential to get gas and groceries or if you work on the other side.

After our wonderful doggy walk along the sunny beach I go over to my neighbours. They are in a 14-day self-isolation as they just returned from Florida. They need a few groceries.
I find the list and the money in an outside hidden place and make my way across the border. 
I have no problems getting through customs. The people here know what's going on.
A friend from Germany has sent me a couple videos on Whatsapp. Artists are getting really creative, writing songs for the coronavirus. Hallelujah...they sing to the tune of Leonard Cohen. We have to make this common effort to fight the disease. Stay at home, don't mingle. Once it is all over it'll be alright again. Protect eachother by staying in your house.

I know there are still people who think that all this is overblown and out of proportions. I wonder what they would think, if their loved ones would die and be transported away on an army truck, the body just wrapped in a linen, cause coffins are sold out, the bodies being cremated or buried in a distant place, with no ceremony, no flowers, no grave speeches, no human decency. What would they say then?
This all happens in Italy every day. Soon it could happen in the US, in Canada or anywhere. 
Image result for army trucks dead bodies Italy
Army trucks full of corona dead bodies
Image result for army trucks dead bodies Italy
The thought makes me shudder. I have to go out, do something, anything.