#COVID19 Fallout: U.S. Unemployment Rate Up to Almost 15%

The U.S. economy

As expected, everyone ignored my April 2 advice to open up the economy and let healthy, relatively young people go back to work. Read on, and weep.

Unemployment rates were higher in April in all 50 states and the District ofColumbia, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Similarly, all 50 states and the District had jobless rate increases from a year earlier.

The national unemployment rate rose by 10.3 percentage points over the month to 14.7 percent and was 11.1 points higher than in April 2019.

*  *  *

Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in April, 28.2 percent, followed by Michigan, 22.7 percent, and Hawaii, 22.3 percent. The rates in 43 states set new series highs. (All state series begin in 1976.)

I can understand the devastating unemployment numbers for Nevada and Hawaii; they’re heavy into travel and tourism. Michigan? I don’t know.

Source: State Employment and Unemployment Summary

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I live in Arizona. Our unemployment rate is 12.6%.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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From Ivor Goodbody: Major Risk Factors for Death From #COVID19 #Coronavirus

Probably at little risk of serious illness if she’s generally healthy

Note that a prior diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) was NOT a risk factor for death from COVID-19. Most other coronavirus articles list hypertension as a risk factor for serious illness, if not death, from COVID-19. Admittedly, “serious illness” is not the same as death. I’ve never understood how chronically controlled hypertension could increase risk of serious illness or death.

I recently read someone calling coronavirus, instead, controlavirus. Referring to governments controlling our businesses, personal movements, shopping practices, access to “non-essential” services, and violating our constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and worship as we choose. Not as our rulers choose.

“Return to your home and hide under your bed!”

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Should Andrew Cuomo Be Charged With Manslaughter?

It’s looking like, nationally, 30-40% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are of nursing home residents, whether they perished at the nursing home or contracted the disease there and died in the hospital. The percentage varies from state to state.

From Daily Caller:

New York nursing homes were forced to accept more than 4,500 coronavirus patients from hospitals thanks to an order from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a tally by The Associated Press found.

Cuomo has come under heated criticism for his March 25 order forcing recovering COVID-19 patients into New York nursing homes — a decision blamed for the state’s high body count among the elderly. The governor waited roughly six weeks before reversing the order on May 10.

The New York State Department of Health refused to release the results of an internal survey on how many coronavirus patients were placed in nursing homes across the state, the AP reported.

The health department is knowingly under-counting the number of nursing home deaths as a result of a quiet rule change made in late April, a department spokesman previously acknowledged following a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Radical Idea: Judge Jame Blacklock Says Both State and Federal Constitutions Should Be Honored Even in a Pandemic #COVID19

No rule of law here. It’s the law of the jungle.

This a May 5, 2020, legal opinion of Texas Supreme Court Justice James D. Blacklock Justice:

“The Constitution is not suspended when the government declares a state of disaster.” In re Abbott, No. 20-0291, 2020 WL 1943226, at *1 (Tex. Apr. 23, 2020). All government power in this country, no matter how well-intentioned, derives only from the state and federal constitutions. Government power cannot be exercised in conflict with these constitutions, even in a pandemic

In the weeks since American governments began taking emergency measures in response to the coronavirus, the sovereign people of this country have graciously and peacefully endured a suspension of their civil liberties without precedent in our nation’s history. In some parts of the country, churches have been closed by government decree, although Texas is a welcome exception. Nearly everywhere, the First Amendment “right of the people to peaceably assemble” has been suspended altogether. U.S. Const. amend. I. In many places, people are forbidden to leave their homes without a government-approved reason. Tens of millions can no longer earn a living because the government has declared their employers or their businesses “ ‘non-essential.’ ”

Those who object to these restrictions should remember they were imposed by duly elected officials, vested by statute with broad emergency powers, who must make difficult decisions under difficult circumstances. At the same time, all of us—the judiciary, the other branches of government, and our fellow citizens—must insist that every action our governments take complies with the Constitution, especially now. If we tolerate unconstitutional government orders during an emergency, whether out of expediency or fear, we abandon the Constitution at the moment we need it most.

Any government that has made the grave decision to suspend the liberties of a free people during a health emergency should welcome the opportunity to demonstrate—both to its citizens and to the courts—that its chosen measures are absolutely necessary to combat a threat of overwhelming severity. The government should also be expected to demonstrate that less restrictive measures cannot adequately address the threat. Whether it is strict scrutiny or some other rigorous form of review, courts must identify and apply a legal standard by which to judge the constitutional validity of the government’s anti-virus actions. When the present crisis began, perhaps not enough was known about the virus to second-guess the worst-case projections motivating the lockdowns. As more becomes known about the threat and about the less restrictive, more targeted ways to respond to it, continued burdens on constitutional liberties may not survive judicial scrutiny.

Ideally, these debates would play out in the public square, not in courtrooms. No court should relish being asked to question the judgment of government officials who were elected to make difficult decisions in times such as these. However, when constitutional rights are at stake, courts cannot automatically defer to the judgments of other branches of government. When properly called upon, the judicial branch must not shrink from its duty to require the government’s anti- virus orders to comply with the Constitution and the law, no matter the circumstances.

 

NYT: Lockdowns Are Not at All New #COVID19 #Coronavirus

I’ve slipped into the questionable habit of using “social distancing” and “lockdown” interchangeably. The latter is more politically charged and is perhaps best used to describe the more draconian forms of social distancing.

The April 22, 2020, article is by Eric Lipton and Jennifer Steinhauer:

Dr. Markel had published a book, “When Germs Travel,” in 2004 that examined six major epidemics since 1900 and how they had traveled across the United States. He decided to work with Dr. Martin S. Cetron, the director of the C.D.C.’s quarantine division, to look more closely at the lessons of the Spanish flu of 1918.

The research started with St. Louis, which had moved relatively quickly to head off the spread of the flu, and Philadelphia, which waited much longer and suffered far more.

Officials in Philadelphia did not want to let the flu disrupt daily life, so they went ahead in September 1918 with a long planned paradethat drew hundreds of thousands of spectators to promote war bonds.

In St. Louis, by contrast, the city health commissioner quickly moved to close schools, churches, theaters, saloons, sporting events and other public gathering spots.

Dr. Markel and his team set out to confirm just how important a role timing had played in reducing deaths. They gathered census records and thousands of other documents detailing the date of the first infection, the first death, the first social distancing policies and how long they were left in place in 43 American cities.

Separately, Dr. Mecher and his team looked at the experience of 17 cities, using newspaper clips and other sources.

Both teams came to the same conclusion and published papers on their findings within months of each other in 2007. Early, aggressive action to limit social interaction using multiple measures like closing schools or shutting down public gatherings was vital to limiting the death toll, they found.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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#Coronavirus, #CytokineStorm, #YellowFever, and #Lockdown

From Richard Fernandez at PJ Media:

One of the ways the Coronavirus kills is by stimulating an overreaction of a patient’s own immune system. “Diseases such as covid-19 and influenza can be fatal due to an overreaction of the body’s immune system called a cytokine storm.”

This metaphor can also describe how society can harm itself  when measures taken to control a disease do more harm than good. Perhaps the most forceful and controversial reaction to the coronavirus epidemic has been the lockdown, which believe it or not, did not exist in the American context as a bureaucratic concept before 2006.

   The rest of the story is at The New York Times:

Fourteen years ago, two federal government doctors, Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, met with a colleague at a burger joint in suburban Washington for a final review of a proposal they knew would be treated like a piñata: telling Americans to stay home from work and school the next time the country was hit by a deadly pandemic.

When they presented their plan not long after, it was met with skepticism and a degree of ridicule by senior officials, who like others in the United States had grown accustomed to relying on the pharmaceutical industry, with its ever-growing array of new treatments, to confront evolving health challenges.

Drs. Hatchett and Mecher were proposing instead that Americans in some places might have to turn back to an approach, self-isolation, first widely employed in the Middle Ages.

How that idea — born out of a request by President George W. Bush to ensure the nation was better prepared for the next contagious disease outbreak — became the heart of the national playbook for responding to a pandemic is one of the untold stories of the coronavirus crisis

So today’s “lockdown” and “social distancing” have the same origin. Actually, lockdown is an older term referring to locking incarcerated convicts into their cells, as might be necessary to gain control of a riot or after an escape. Some of you are starting to feel like convicts.

Little noted by the mainstream media are the medical definitions of quarantine and isolation. From the CDC:

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

    • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
    • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Isolating ourselves to avoid exposure to infection is not the same as the CDC’s  isolation.

I lived in Pensacola, FL, for twelve years. While there I learned about the scourge of deadly Yellow Fever. It’s a viral infection that had migrated from West Africa and is transmitted to humans by mosquitos. It’s not a problem in Florida anymore since we have control of the mosquito population. But earlier, many of the rich folks in Pensacola would move up north during the hot summer months—mosquito season—to escape from the virus. That was probably even before we knew mosquitos were the vector. They just knew when it was hot and humid, Yellow Fever was rampant. I don’t recall exactly where “up north” was, but I’m guessing the southern reaches of the Appalachian mountains in Alabama and Georgia. The wealthy summer migrants weren’t infected, but were self-isolating, in the non-medical sense of the term. Like New Yorkers migrating to the Hamptons or Florida to escape the ‘rona.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Pepe Escobar writes that Dr Hatchett was a proponent lockdown earlier than 14 years ago:

Enter Dr. Richard Hatchett, a former member of the National Security Council during the first Bush Jr. administration, who was already recommending obligatory confinement of the whole population way back in 2001. Hatchett now directs the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a very powerful entity coordinating global vaccine investment, and very cozy with Big Pharma. CEPI happens to be a brainchild of the WEF [World Economic Forum] in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Where Did “Social Distancing” Come From? #COVID19 #Coronavirus

You’re too close!

New York Post has an article addressing the U.S. cultural reaction to 1969’s Hong Kong flu as compared to our hysterical over-reaction to COVID-19. The Hong Kong flu (is that racist?), also known as H3N2, killed between one and three million worldwide, and over 100,000 in the U.S. So, not just a typical flu season. Influenza typically kills between 12,000 and 61,000 annually in the U.S.

What I found interesting was the apparent origin of “social distancing,” a term that had never been part my medical vocabulary despite practicing medicine for over three decades.

From New York Post:

Much of our current thinking about infectious diseases in the modern era changed because of the SARS outbreak of 2003, which “scared the hell out of many people,” said Poling. “It’s the first time I recall people wearing masks and trying to distance themselves from others, particularly in situations where someone might cough or sneeze.”

The idea that a pandemic could be controlled with social distancing and public lockdowns is a relatively new one, said Tucker. It was first suggested in a 2006 study by New Mexico scientist Robert J. Glass, who got the idea from his 14-year-old daughter’s science project.

***

“Two government doctors, not even epidemiologists” — Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, who worked for the Bush administration — “hatched the idea [of using government-enforced social distancing] and hoped to try it out on the next virus.” We are in effect, Tucker said, part of a grand social experiment.

But the differences between how the world responded to two pandemics, separated by 50 years, is more complicated than any single explanation.

“If I were 48 in 1968, I would have most likely served in World War II,” said Moir. “I would have had a little brother who served in Korea, and possibly might have a son or daughter fighting in Vietnam.” Death, he said, was a bigger and in some ways more accepted part of American life.

The New York Times has a related story.

I wonder if any of us living through this Coronavirus pandemic will ever forget social distancing.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Pepe Escobar writes that Dr Hatchett was a proponent lockdown earlier than 14 years ago:

Enter Dr. Richard Hatchett, a former member of the National Security Council during the first Bush Jr. administration, who was already recommending obligatory confinement of the whole population way back in 2001. Hatchett now directs the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a very powerful entity coordinating global vaccine investment, and very cozy with Big Pharma. CEPI happens to be a brainchild of the WEF [World Economic Forum] in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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The Rest of the Story: What’s the Deal with Meatpacking and #COVID19

Artist’s rendition of Coronavirus

The snippet below is only a sliver of the story. RTWT.

I heard on local radio a few days ago that 82% of the meat in the U.S. food system is processed by only four companies, two of which are Brazilian-owned.

From Wired.com:

So what is it about these places that makes them such dangerous incubators for the novel coronavirus? It’s a question that urgently needs answers, especially now that concerns over food shortages and an order given on April 28 by President Donald Trump classifying meat processors as critical infrastructure are already forcing workers back to the production line. Like most aspects of the pandemic, this one, too, is complicated by a dearth of data. Figuring out how exactly the disease is spreading between workers and which slaughterhouse practices are to blame is going to take time and lots of epidemiological legwork. But there are some clues.

According to the CDC’s latest report, the chief risks to meatpackers come from being in prolonged close proximity to other workers. A thousand people might work a single eight-hour shift, standing shoulder to shoulder as carcasses whiz by on hooks or conveyor belts. Often, workers get only a second or two to complete their task before the next hunk of meat arrives. The frenzied pace and grueling physical demands of breaking down so many dead animals can make people breathe hard and have difficulty keeping masks properly positioned on their faces. To allow for social distancing, the agency recommended that meat processors slow down production lines to require fewer workers, and that they stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in a facility at one time.

Source: Why Meatpacking Plants Have Become Covid-19 Hot Spots | WIRED

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Prof. Joel Hay: No Evidence That Social Distancing Has Worked #COVID19

KUSI News in San Diego Posted a 6.5 minute interview with Professor Joel Hay way back on April 22, 2020:

USC Professor Joel Hay joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss his stance on how to get people back to work.

Hay said that there is no proof that social distancing works for diseases like coronavirus. He backed up this point by saying we have been social distancing for over a month, and there are no signs that it is helping us contain the spread of the virus.

***

But, Hay says people with pre-existing conditions, elderly, etc. should isolate themselves. He doesn’t believe we need to isolate the young and healthy, as proven by Sweden.

Click to see if you’re at risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19.

Los Angeles County officials disagree with the professor. Their lockdown continues for another three months.

From CBS News May 7, 2020:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that most new COVID-19 cases tracked by hospitals in the state over the past few days were among people who were predominantly at home and not working. They were also mostly among people 51 and older.

He said that even “with everything we’ve done” there were still 600 new coronavirus cases in New York yesterday, “either walking in the door to hospitals, or people who are in hospitals who are then diagnosed with COVID.”

Some of you will say, “Well, they just weren’t social distancing the right way.”

Fortunately for us in Arizona, Gov. Ducy started opening up our economy a few days ago, six weeks later than he should have.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Bill Maher on Your Immune System’s Miraculous Functioning #COVID19