Negligent homicide or premeditated homicide, it’s still murder!

The Trump administration urged health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach to Covid-19, according to internal emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee and shared with reporters.

Former Health and Human Services senior adviser Paul Alexander repeatedly urged his colleagues at HHS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pursue a herd immunity strategy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

One example is when he wrote in an email on July 3 that Americans “must go on with life.”

So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who cares? If it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares…as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes, we must go on with life….who cares if we test more and get more positive tests,” he wrote.

In another email on July 4, Alexander wrote about people exposing themselves to the virus to establish herd immunity. “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD.”

Such an approach — similar to what was pursued in Sweden — would mean that many people nationwide would have to get sick with the coronavirus in order to build up a natural immunity across communities. As the virus spreads and sickens people, many could die in the process.

About 2 million Americans could die in the effort to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus, Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and CNN medical analyst, said in late August.

Donald Trump likened the spread of the coronavirus throughout the population — which experts agree bestows some immunity on the people who became ill — to having a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You develop immunity over a period of time, and I hear we’re close to 15%. I’m hearing that, and that is terrific. That’s a very powerful vaccine in itself,” said Trump, who was responding to a reporter’s question about what his message to the American people was as the holidays approach and levels of COVID cases in the U.S. continue to rise.

It wasn’t the first time Trump had given credence to the idea that if enough people in a population gain immunity to a disease by being exposed to it, the illness won’t be able to spread through the remainder of the population — a concept known as “herd immunity.”

Experts have warned that attempting to achieve herd immunity naturally, by allowing people to get sick with COVID-19, could result in more than a million deaths and potentially long-term health problems for many. A better way to achieve protection across the population, experts say, is through widespread vaccination.

Its important to check whether 15% is anywhere close to the herd immunity threshold, and whether this level of natural immunity could be considered “as powerful as a vaccine.”

15% Is Nowhere Close!

It may be derived from a Nov. 25 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report using mathematical models to estimate that 53 million Americans — about 16% of the population — have likely been infected with COVID-19. Those models took into consideration the nation’s number of confirmed cases, and then used existing data to calculate estimates of the number of people who had COVID-19 but didn’t seek medical attention, weren’t able to access a COVID-19 test, received a false-negative test result or were asymptomatic and unaware they had COVID-19.

It’s important to note this estimate is based on data from February through September — and it’s now mid-December, so the share of Americans who have been infected with the coronavirus would likely be much higher. For instance, an independent data scientist, Youyang Gu, estimated that 17.5% of Americans have had COVID-19 as of Nov. 30. His estimate is published on his website, COVID Projections.

Experts have said that a 15% infection rate among Americans is nowhere close to the threshold needed to reach herd immunity against COVID.

“To get to herd immunity, an estimated 60-80% of people need to have immunity (either through natural infection or through the vaccine),” Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University, wrote in an email. “We are a very long way off from that.”

Also, Wen said, scientists still don’t know enough about how effective natural immunity is in defending against COVID-19. It appears that once someone has had COVID-19 and recovered, the antibodies their body produced can protect them for at least several months. But, there have also been reports of COVID-19 re-infection.

That’s why medical experts urge everyone to get vaccinated, whether they have had COVID-19 or not.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently set the saturation level for herd immunity even higher — between 75% and 80% — in an interview with Axios.

At that point, he said, “you create an umbrella of herd immunity — that even though there is virus around, it is really almost inconsequential because it has no place to go, because almost all of the people are protected.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have shown 95% effectiveness at protecting people from developing COVID-19 in clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use. This Thursday, an independent panel will consider whether to recommend that the FDA authorize the emergency use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

So, that leads to the next question: Is 15% natural immunity among the American population anywhere close to a “powerful vaccine,” as Trump alleges?

No, said the experts. And there’s nothing “terrific” about that level of infection within the community.

“Fifteen percent ‘natural immunity’ is nowhere close to as powerful as a vaccine,” Dr. Rachel Vreeman, director of the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, wrote in an email.

Assuming that natural immunity is effective, reaching a level of 15% of the population would prevent only those individuals who have had COVID from getting sick again, said Stephen Morse, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University.

“But [it] won’t do much to prevent virus spread in the community, because there are still so many susceptible people,” Morse wrote in an email. Plus, 15% of the American population having had COVID-19 “has come at a high cost,” Morse wrote. To achieve 15% natural immunity, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. have been sacrificed.
It’s murder plain and simple. The whole administration should be put on trial.

sources CNN, Raw Story, and WaPo

There’s mounting dread about wannabe dictator Trump, post-election

It’s rigged!

Tuesday’s election is looking good for Joe Biden while there’s mounting dread about how Wannabe Dictator Trump will behave after a defeat. After all, Trump is a sociopathic narcissist with no emotional control and he lives in mortal terror of being viewed as a loser. He’s already made clear that he will refuse to concede, no matter what, and he’s grasping desperately for any way to get legal ballots thrown out so he can steal the election.

No wonder people are afraid Trump will go completely apeshit if his efforts to steal this fail and he actually loses. Psychologists worry that the narcissistic injury to Trump will result in him lashing out in his vindictive rage to punish an America which he may believe has consigned him to ‘loser’ status.

Some two dozen officials and aides, several of whom are still serving in the Trump administration, are worried that Trump could use the power of the government to lash out at enemies, try to steal the election or otherwise wreak havoc on the nation.

Trump could do real damage to the country, his successor or presidential traditions, there’s reason to wonder if a Trump transition might actually be the start of the wildest chapter of an already controversial presidency. We May Need the Twenty-Fifth Amendment if Trump Loses,” blares a headline at the New Yorker.

Of course, we should be worried that Trump, a vindictive man whose only true pleasures come from sadism, will abuse his power to punish Americans if he loses.

But let’s be honest: He’s also going to do that even if he wins.

Win or lose — Trump is about to unleash hell

Edited from Salon story by Amanda Marcotte

Trump’s wall of bullying baffling bullshit, a national embarrassment

 

‘Standing by sir’: Proud Boys praise Trump’s comment telling them to ‘stand by’ during first presidential debate

Shedding all semblance of decency, let alone public civility, a desperate Trump turned Tuesday’s presidential debate not only into a brawl but also a national embarrassment. Behaving like a petulant teenager, Trump rolled his eyes, constantly interrupted, hectored, tried to pick fights, and generally made a fool of himself as more than 80 million Americans tuned in, most of whom were likely thinking, ‘What have we become as a nation?’

It was clearly the worst presidential debate in American history, as Fox News moderator Chris Wallace got completely steamrolled by Trump’s bullying ways. And it was a debacle that Trump pre-planned. Allergic to debate prep and still seething about the blockbuster revelation about his massive tax evasion practices, Trump arrived with one goal — to make sure the debate was incomprehensible and that viewers learned as little as possible.

That’s why it’s time to call off the next two debates. Tuesday’s car wreck was a complete waste of time.

Months ago, I urged the Biden campaign to not show up for any of the debates this election season because I didn’t see the benefit of sharing the stage with a madman for 90 minutes. There’s no upside to normalizing his behavior with a presidential debate and the legitimacy it provides. Now everyone sees the results. Biden held his own last night, there’s no question, telling Trump more than once to “shut up,” which in the past would have been unthinkable for a Democrat to utter on a debate stage. And it was exactly what was called for.

But there’s no need to repeat the fiasco. There’s no need for Biden to show up again so Trump can smear Biden family members, make a mockery out of public discourse, and lie relentlessly about every topic discussed during the forums. Running for president is serious business, and Trump is a child.

And yes, the 2020 debates are already so much worse than the 2016 debates, when, in retrospect, Trump at least pretended to occasionally follow some of the norms of public behavior. But all of that is gone now. Lost in the authoritarian power that he craves in the White House, Trump deems it beneath him to share the stage, and the spotlight, with another politician.

Another reason for Biden to politely bow out is because while the press is going to correctly portray the Tuesday debate as a stunning failure, they’re going to couch it in Both Sides language, suggesting Biden was somehow at all responsible for the national embarrassment when it was entirely Trump’s doing.

That was apparent in real-time last night. From Politico: “The first Trump-Biden debate: A trainwreck.” New York Times: “Sharp Personal Attacks and Name-Calling in Chaotic First Debate.” CNN: “Pure Chaos at First Debate.” The Washington Post: “First Trump-Biden meeting marked by constant interruptions by Trump.” Technically those headlines were accurate, but all the news outlets presented the story as if both sides were to blame for the televised disintegration.

There’s also the simple fact that unless the Commission on Presidential Debates allows moderators to cut off Trump’s mic for the next two forums, it’s not possible for any moderator to keep control of the event. Wallace was completely humiliated by Trump, who ran over the Fox News anchor at every turn, making it impossible for there to be anything remotely resembling a revealing or intelligent debate.

Comically, Wallace told the New York Times he wanted to be “invisible” during the debate, meaning it was up to the candidates to engage each other. Commission officials actually thought Wallace would act as a “facilitator,” gently walking Trump through the evening’s topics. That makes sense if you think Trump is a rational, sane person. But Trump’s a nihilistic actor. And the Beltway’s refusal to acknowledge that — to think that protocols like presidential debates could still be adhered to — fueled last night’s disaster.

It also lends credence to canceling the next two debates, because it’s not possible to stage a two-person debate when one of them is a sociopath. The debate Commission can act quickly to try to save this format, by allowing Trump’s mic to be cut. But anything short of that would be a waste of time. It would be a waste of Biden’s time, and a waste of Americans’ time.

Trump has torn up so many norms and traditions with his radical behavior. So let’s add another one to the list — let’s cancel the next two debates. Nobody will miss them.

 

Eric Boehlert Press Run