Friday, April 17, 2020

Will We Need To Build A Wall Between Red States And America To Protect Us From The Trump Plague?


Trumpists are on the march. Members of the GOP Death Cult have been holding noisy organized protests in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Kentucky, demanding businesses be opened so they get to escape their horrid spouses and get back to their dull, unfulfilling meaningless jobs. Each of those states, other than Oklahoma, has a Democratic governor. Yesterday, on a video teleconference with governors, after another 5.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits, Trump encouraged them to start ending stay-at-home orders. If the unemployment rate hits 20% this month, which is likely, it will be the worst since the Great Depression. Trump's job approval-- according to Gallup, usually a lagging indicator-- has tumbled 6 points to 43% (his sharpest one-month decline since occupying the White House).

With conservatives and Trumpists demanding the reopening of schools and businesses, public health experts are warning that discarding social distancing restrictions-- in many cases, which need to be tightened not loosened-- will steepen, not flatten, the curve and will increase the infection and death rate. The U.S. has confirmed 638,111 cases and 30,844 deaths.

Every week seems to bring another Republican governor into the moron-of-the-week spot. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has held it for a record amount of time and was then edged out by murderous Kristi Noem (R-SD). Nebraska hereditary billionaire, Pete Ricketts, wants in on the action. Yesterday, he said, "If people want to wear masks, we certainly encourage that." Yesterday he said that wearing masks was not included in his "6 rules to keep Nebraskans healthy" because he didn’t want the rules to be too numerous. A team of Politico reporters wrote that "The only hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska, is full. The mayor has asked for a statewide stay-at-home order that [Ricketts] insists isn’t needed. More than one-third of those tested for coronavirus in the surrounding county are positive-- and there aren’t enough tests to go around. Grand Island is the fourth-biggest city in a state [Señor Trumpanzee] and his top health officials repeatedly name check for keeping the virus at bay without the strict lockdowns 42 other states have imposed. Except that new cases there and in Iowa, South Dakota and other parts of the heartland are starting to spike, raising concern about new hot spots that could quash Trump’s push to reopen the economy and extend the public health crisis well into the summer." Ricketts may have lost his mind entirely. "Nebraska’s case count has jumped nearly 30 percent in the last three days, according to the state health department," wrote the Politico team. "But even as cases grow in places like Grand Island and Douglas County, home to Omaha, Gov. Pete Ricketts is adamant his plan built around voluntary social distancing is working." It isn't.
Trump and red state governors for weeks have fairly bragged about how large parts of the farm belt have escaped the ravages of the virus without the enforced shelter-in-place policies common on both coasts. It’s still unclear whether the states actually “flattened the curve,” or if the virus just reached there later. But now, cases are erupting, threatening a local population that doesn’t always have easy access to the same health care as more urban areas. And the outbreaks are striking the heart of the nation’s farming and meatpacking industry, potentially disrupting the national distribution of food as meat processing plants close down and truckers who move food across the country are sidelined by illness.

Grand Island and surrounding Hall County have 214 confirmed cases of coronavirus, nearly a quarter of the state’s total. At least 28 workers at JBS USA beef plant, Grand Island’s largest employer, have tested positive.

“The concern is where we are going, not where we are today,” said Chuck Haase, a member of the Grand Island City Council.
There are 8 states whose governors-- all Republicans, obviously-- that are still daring the pandemic to come in and kill their residents-- these 8, in order of confirmed cases as of Thursday morning-- all up since Wednesday morning:
Utah- 2,542
Oklahoma- 2,263
Iowa- 1,995
Arkansas- 1,599
South Dakota- 1,168
Nebraska- 952
North Dakota- 365
Wyoming- 288
Face To Face by Nancy Ohanian

Extreme right-wing political ideology aside, most of these states have rapidly increasing numbers of infections. Charles Branas, the chair of the Epidemiology Department at Columbia University, who developed a model tracking hospital shortages and virus outbreaks around the country, told Politico that "Perhaps there are governors who believe they have the medical capacity to deal with this [without a lockdown order] but I don’t know if that is wise, because once it gets out it can spread unabated and overwhelm any medical system of any size. Every state is at risk and should have aggressive social distancing policies." South Dakota's infection rate has increased 260% in the last 5 days (not counting yesterday's big spike), compared to New York's 26%. Sioux Falls Council member Pat Starr, who is dealing with the biggest outbreak in South Dakota, said that "Whatever we were doing wasn’t working, and it’s taking off like crazy now... My concern is that we don’t flatten the curve and so we overwhelm our medical facilities. We are not to that point yet, but we’re approaching it very quickly. We’re gonna continue to see some really high numbers, and we’re going to see people that we can’t take care of."
Iowa on Tuesday reported its single largest daily jump in confirmed cases-- roughly half stemming from an outbreak at the Tyson Foods plant in Columbus Junction. Company officials closed the facility, one of the nation’s largest pork processing plants, earlier this month.

Meatpacking plants or the egg hatchery in Grand Island, which serves 10 percent of the U.S. egg market, are considered essential to the national food distribution network-- meaning workers would gather regardless of a stay-at-home order. And outbreaks at other big agricultural facilities have occurred even in states with lockdowns.
In his column for The Atlantic yesterday, Ron Brownstein began by reminding his readers that the pandemic "appears destined to widen the political divide between the nation’s big cities and the smaller places beyond them. And that could narrow Donald Trump’s possible pathways to reelection. In almost every state, the outbreak is spreading much more heavily in the largest metropolitan centers than in less densely populated areas, even when the figures are adjusted on a per capita basis... That pattern threatens to exacerbate one of Trump’s most conspicuous political vulnerabilities: his historical weakness in big metropolitan areas that are full of the minority and white-collar white voters most skeptical of him. From the Virginia governor’s race in 2017, to a sweep of suburban House districts in 2018, to the upset victory in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race last year, Democrats have consistently posted significant gains in these areas under Trump. The pattern continued in the unexpected Democratic victory this week in a highly contested state-supreme-court election in Wisconsin, a state that could be the tipping point in the 2020 presidential race. The question for Trump this fall will be whether he can offset that weakness by matching or building on his dominant advantage in exurban, small-town, and rural communities. In Wisconsin this week, the GOP lost ground with those voters too, but by and large, polling still shows Trump holding a strong position among them. And because most rural communities are facing fewer cases of the disease so far, they may be much more receptive than big-city leaders and voters to Trump’s calls to reopen the economy as quickly as possible.
Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, was the largest county in America that Trump won in 2016. But a new poll, released this week by the Republican firm OH Predictive Insights, found Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden there by 13 percentage points. The survey also found Biden leading by nine points statewide, even though Democrats haven’t won Arizona in a presidential race since 1996. These results track with Maricopa’s movement away from the GOP in 2018, when Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema won the ordinarily Republican-leaning county by about four points.

The results in Wisconsin this week offered an even more visceral measure of Trump’s continuing risk in major population centers. In the state’s supreme-court election-- whose timing was extremely controversial, given the pandemic-- the liberal Jill Karofsky decisively ousted the conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly.

Karofsky showed formidable strength across the state’s population centers, even though they are confronting the most serious outbreaks of the disease. Although the number of polling places in Milwaukee was limited to just five, Karofsky amassed a 70,000-vote advantage in that county. She also carried Dane County, which includes the state capital of Madison, by a crushing 62-percentage-point margin. That’s far larger than Hillary Clinton’s advantage there in 2016 (48 points) or the Democrat Tony Evers’s lead in the 2018 governor’s race (51 points).

“Dane County is the fastest-growing county in the state: massive electronic-medical-records [industry], plus biotech-- and that’s not even counting the big insurance-industry component, the University of Wisconsin, and state government,” said Charles Franklin, a law and public-policy professor at Marquette University’s law school and the director of its respected public poll. “Not only does [the county] grow, but its turnout rate goes up year after year, and it’s even more Democratic from race to race to race.”

Karofsky also posted notable gains in two sets of suburban counties that are closely watched during election season. The so-called WOW counties outside of Milwaukee-- Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington-- are perhaps the most Republican-leaning major suburban counties north of the Mason-Dixon line. But, as Franklin noted, Trump won them in 2016 by less than Mitt Romney did in 2012. More recently, former Republican Governor Scott Walker carried them by a smaller margin in his losing 2018 campaign than he did in his winning 2014 race.

This week, Karofsky significantly reduced the GOP’s margin in all three counties-- not only compared with Trump’s wins, but also compared with another state-supreme-court election last year. “In the WOW counties, I believe there is something systematically happening,” Franklin said. “Though it has not converted them from red to blue, it has converted them from deep red to less red.”

Just as strikingly, Karofsky won all three of the so-called BOW counties around Green Bay-- Brown, Outagamie, and Winnebago-- which Trump had carried comfortably in 2016, and Walker more narrowly in 2018.

...[T]hese results are consistent with one of the most powerful political through lines of the Trump era: a recoil from his vision of the Republican Party among urban and suburban voters. In 2016, Trump lost 87 of the 100 largest U.S. counties, by a combined nearly 15 million votes. That was significantly larger than Romney’s 11.6-million-vote deficit in the 100 largest counties. In 2018, Republicans were routed in suburban House districts not only in metropolitan areas that were already trending toward the Democrats-- including New Jersey and Northern Virginia and Chicago, Detroit, and Denver-- but also in places where the GOP had previously remained strong, such as Richmond, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, and Orange County, California.
I'd like to remind these Republicans that healthcare workers are dying-- and far more than official data suggests. Kaiser Health News reports that "The number of health care workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus is likely far higher than the reported tally of 9,200, and U.S. officials say they have no comprehensive way to count those who lose their lives trying to save others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the infection tally Tuesday and said 27 health worker deaths have been recorded, based on a small number of test-result reports. Officials stressed that the count was drawn from just 16% of the nation’s COVID-19 cases, so the true numbers of health care infections and deaths are certainly far higher. CDC officials said data provided by the states most closely tracking the occupations of people with the virus suggests that health care workers account for about 11% of COVID-19 infections... Some states, including Ohio, have reported rates of health care worker illness as high as 20%."

Rev John Pavlovitz reminded his blog's readers that opening America now is a slap in the face to healthcare workers. (And, for some, it will be a lot worse than a slap, including a death sentence... or maybe a death sentence for members of their families.) "Opening America, began Pavlovitz. "The President keeps teasing it in his daily propaganda, ego-stroke photo op. His sycophantic surrogates repeat the refrain on social media and in press releases. Soulless partisan television hosts pound us relentlessly with it. MAGA cult members protest mask-less and in close quarters for it. This united offensive to quickly get Americans back to work, is all happening on days when we are losing over two thousand people a day, when we’ve eclipsed 644,000 confirmed cases, when 29,000 have died in the span of eight weeks.
And every single life that is threatened by this vicious, insidious illness-- falls squarely on the shoulders of healthcare workers and first responders: doctors, nurses, EMTs, lab technicians, hospital staff, police officers, firefighters.

For weeks they have labored without sleep, without rest, without enough masks to protect themselves, without enough tests to identify the relentless flood of sick people in their midst, without enough ventilators to keep the gravely ill alive; continually stepping into harm’s way to attend to this unprecedented national emergency.
As a society, do we give a damn? Pavlovitz doesn't think so. "If we did," he wrote, "if we really grasped how overworked they are and how much trauma they’ve carried and how pushed to the brink they are, we wouldn’t be talking about re-opening America right now. People wouldn’t be pressed together at state capitol buildings and stopping traffic and parading around in middle-finger-defiance of stay-at-home orders, while giving the virus the greatest boost it could ask for. If we actually respected the people who take care of us when we are at our most vulnerable, and who stand between those we love and the brink of death-- we’d be doing all we could to stay at home, to abide restrictions, to demand more safeguards, not less-- and we certainly wouldn’t be rushing people back into frequent and large scale interactions, when millions of people can’t get tested and when a vaccine is months away."

What are we saying to the people who place their lives in peril to keep us alive, when we can’t be inconvenienced a few weeks?

When we complain about not being able to get our hair colored or go to the mall or the corner bar?

When we act as if we’re being persecuted, simply by being asked to stay home and allow the grievously ill and seriously injured to receive attention and allow this virus to abate?

Of course our leaders aren’t thinking about any of this.

This President has no working empathy, and his allegedly pro-life party has shown a steadfast commitment to the Stock Market over living, breathing human beings. They are not about humanity, but profitability. I fully expected this callous disregard for life from them.

But honestly, I expected more of America... It is a time we stopped talking about opening America, and started healing it.

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At 8:34 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Meme - Elect A Clown Expect A Circus

Yep he’s turned the country into a circus & it’s all foul

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Mr. B. said...

Yes, where is the country I was so proud of (mostly, other than some wars, etc.) when I was growing up? Iceland just said it all - they are successful combating the virus because of the strategies they learned from us, but we are not using them and how sad is that.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the Trumpists playing the literal role of zombies, it's like a bad movie - only there are no more bullets left to defend humanity from them.

We need to save ourselves and let the fools be taken by the pestilence.

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

trump was not "elected" only by red states. He was also "elected" by the democraps yelling 'fuck you' to its own voters by forcing $hillbillary on us/US as their nom. Read Donna Brazille's book if you are corn-fused.

That 'fuck you' made millions of lefties stay home. and thus, trump.

That 'fuck you' is now a 'FUCK YOU', pretty much straight from obamanation, to the dumbest fucking voters in the history of humankind... in the person of biden... the chosen one... who was a fucking joke in each of his previous 7 or 8 runs... but now is their jesus... somehow.

It sure is lucky for the democrap party that they can yell 'FUCK YOU' at 65 million voters and not a one of them understands. not a one.


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