Saturday, July 11, 2020

Why The U.S. Is Failing In Confronting The Pandemic-- Is It All Bad Leadership?


The other day, the very Trumpist governor of West Virginia was complaining about South Carolina. West Virginians, apparently, like going down to Myrtle Beach as their vacation spot of choice. Increasingly, according to Gov. Justice, they're coming back with COVID-19. Although there has been some monkeying around with reporting, generally West Virginia has had a very easy pandemic-- just 2,222 cases per million residents. Only Vermont, Alaska, Montana and Hawaii have lower numbers. But West Virginia has begun spiking in the last 10 days. Thursday there were 119 new cases. Yesterday it was another 157. But South Carolina is far worse off. There are a rapidly growing 10,181 cases per million (higher than the national average). Thursday there were 1,782 new cases, 9th worst in the country and it was 1,728 yesterday. Their hospital system is breaking down, the worst outcome for the Herd Immunity strategy favored by right-wing ideologues like Governor Henry McMaster. "We’re going to be worse than New York. But at least in New York, people took the virus seriously. Here, we’re in a war zone that people refuse to accept," a Charleston emergency room nurse told Pilar Melendez of the Daily Beast.
South Carolina’s current surge of cases is so bad that it’s currently one of the top three worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. In a New York Times study of the number of daily infections between June 28 and July 5, Arizona and Florida are the two most impacted areas in the world-- followed by South Carolina, the country of Bahrain, and Louisiana. Hospitals are overwhelmed, understaffed, and short on supplies-- unable to keep up with what researchers believe is the “tipping point” before the state loses control of the pandemic.

“We’ve completely lost control of the situation in South Carolina-- and it’s completely embarrassing,” Helmut Albrecht, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and Prisma Health, told the Daily Beast. “In the medical community, we feel like we are getting completely dumped on.”

Some doctors insist the surge in South Carolina was inevitable, given the state officials’ response to the virus. Aside from closing schools, in the first month or so of the coronavirus’ spread in South Carolina, there was very little in the way of a statewide effort to slow the pathogen. As late as the end of March, the Republican-led state government was actively discouraging local public health efforts. “We affirm that local governments cannot exercise the emergency powers delegated to the governor by the general assembly,” Attorney General Alan Wilson stated on March 27. The general assembly is South Carolina’s state legislature.

...Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist destination along South Carolina’s coast, seems to be one of the biggest problem zones in the Palmetto State. A spring-break destination with a large elderly community, Myrtle Beach has contributed to increasing COVID-19 cases nationwide-- including 50 cases around Philadelphia.

  An internal state report obtained by ABC News foreshadows that South Carolina’s COVID-19 outbreak has no end in sight. The July 4 report, which warned of the state’s hot-spot status, particularly in coastal counties, said that in Horry County, where Myrtle Beach is located, “cases continue to sharply rise” with “widespread travel to the area contributing to cases.” In Charleston, there is “no sign of cases slowing down,” according to the report.

Locals, however, refuse to let the pandemic that has killed more than 131,000 people nationwide ruin their summer.

“We’re making no changes. Everything is going according to plan,” Copeland, 61, said about the 81st Annual Myrtle Beach Bike Week.  
Badge of Honor by Nancy Ohanian

South Carolina doesn't even have a mask mandate. Anyone who tells you they're doing down there early has a death wish. On Thursday we looked at what a catastrophe the herd immunity strategy has been for Sweden and its clueless neo-liberal prime minister, Stefan Löfven, who has steered his country over a cliff. Friday Axios' Caitlin Owens looked into how much of the U.S. has been dragged into the failed herd immunity strategy by Trump and the foolish governors who take their cues from him, like McMaster. "By letting the coronavirus surge through the population with only minimal social distancing measures in place," she wrote, "the U.S. has accidentally become the world’s largest experiment in herd immunity. Letting the virus spread while minimizing human loss is doable, in theory. But it requires very strict protections for vulnerable people, almost none of which the U.S. has established. Cases are skyrocketing, with hospitalizations and deaths following suit in hotspots. Not a single state has ordered another lockdown, even though per capita cases in Florida and Arizona have reached levels similar to New York and New Jersey’s in April."
Most states never built up the testing, contact tracing and isolation systems it would take to prevent the virus from spreading widely, and and health care workers are once again facing shortages of protective medical gear.
The Trump administration is generally ignoring or downplaying soaring caseloads across the South and West, and is pushing schools to fully reopen in the fall.
In Florida, where infections, hospitalizations and deaths are surging, Gov. Ron DeSantis “has repeatedly ruled out a sweeping mask mandate or taking the state back into a lockdown to stem the virus, although local governments have acted on their own,” per Bloomberg.
"Separating older, sicker people from younger, healthier ones while the virus burns through the latter group could be a way to achieve herd immunity-- assuming immunity exists-- without hundreds of thousands of people dying.

But the U.S. hasn’t adopted such a strategy with any planning or foresight. Although younger people make up a larger portion of coronavirus cases now than they did earlier in the pandemic, vulnerable people still go to work or live with non-vulnerable people.

Frontline workers have generally been left unprotected, contributing to disproportionate caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths among people of color.

Even nursing homes are still vulnerable to outbreaks. Nursing home deaths have continued to climb in Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and California, The Atlantic recently reported.

...Sweden embraced the model and, as the NYT reported earlier this week, saw thousands more deaths than its neighbors with nothing to show for it economically.
In the next post this morning, we're going to take a look at how this is playing out electorally.

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At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you're saying that it's bad leadershit AND "herd stupidity"??

imagine that!

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, the so-called "opposition" party -the "Democrats"- offer us a platform of "nothing will fundamentally change" - with the exception of which right-wing of the corrupt corporatist party we get to vote against in the next election.

IF there is still an election, and if Mother Nature hasn't swept us into the dustbin of the archaeological record.

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason for the covid catastrophe *IS* the same as the reason for our fucked-up leadershit -- a nation of potted flora who are far too stupid to live... who elect that leadershit.

so... in spite of all the sheepdogs barking, it isn't der fuhrer or his admin or his Nazi party or the opposition fascists or their corruption... because ALL of that is due to the people being, really, too fucking stupid to live.

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries, 4:30. COVID will cull that heard really deep. MAYBE then the remaining sentients can do something.

At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wishful thinking, 10:14. The death rate among infections seems to be holding steady at well below 1% (could be high by an order of magnitude. no way of knowing because we still don't test everyone). And the lion's share of those are elderly.

Culling .005 (.0005?) of the potted flora really doesn't make any difference. sadly.


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