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  1. I wonder what the White House reaction to this will be... NY governor says China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that New York will receive 1,140 ventilators from China and Oregon. The Chinese government has facilitated a donation of 1,000 ventilators that are expected to arrive at JFK Airport today, Cuomo said moments ago during a press conference. "This is a big deal and it's going to make a significant difference for us. Also, the state of Oregon contacted us and is going to send 140 ventilators," Cuomo added. "Which is I can tell you just astonishing and unexpected. And I want to thank Gov. Brown, I want to thank all of the people in the state of Oregon for their thoughtfulness."
  3. Now the real purveyors of 'Fake News' will be held accountable. Washington State Group Is 1st to Sue Fox News for Calling Coronavirus a ‘Hoax’ An obscure Washington state group has become the first in the nation to sue Fox News over its coronavirus coverage, asking a state court to keep the cable network from airing false information about the pandemic. Support Times of San Diego's growth with a small monthly contribution Become a supporter The 10-page complaint — filed Thursday in King County — also names as defendants Fox News Corp., owner Rupert Murdoch, AT&T TV and COMCAST. It seeks an injunction to prohibit the conservative-leaning outlet from “interfering with reasonable and necessary measures to contain the virus by publishing further false and deceptive content.” WASHLITE complaint against Fox News. (PDF) Reacting in a statement, Lily Fu Claffee, general counsel for FOX News Media, told Times of San Diego: “Wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law. We will defend vigorously and seek sanctions as appropriate.” Arthur West, leader of the 3-year-old Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, or WASHLITE, the plaintiff, said in a phone interview that its members have run into people who still believe earlier Fox News reports that the pandemic was a hoax. (One board member was diagnosed with coronavirus, he said, asking the name be withheld.) The case, filed at 12:13 p.m. Thursday, has been assigned to Judge Ken Schubert — with no hearing date set. West said the defendants haven’t yet been formally served notice of the case. Fox News interfered with social distancing measures, West said from the state first slammed by the virus. “That’s the real evil of this type of programming,” West said. “We believe it delayed and interfered with a prompt and adequate response to this coronavirus pandemic within the state of Washington.” West denied that the nonprofit group (with perhaps 30 associate members) was aiming to stifle First Amendment rights. “It’s like the theater thing,” he said. “Up to the point where you get up in the theater and yell ‘Fire!’ you can say whatever you want. But when you get to the point where you are endangering the community — that transcends the limits of the First Amendment.” He also contends that commercial speech is involved, not private speech by members of the public. The WASHLITE suit includes a request for relief under the state’s Consumer Protection Act, alleging Fox News violated the act by “falsely and deceptively disseminating ‘News’ via cable news contracts that the coronavirus was a ‘hoax,’ and that it was otherwise not a danger to public health and safety.” In March 9 broadcasts by Sean Hannity and Trish Regan, “defendants acted in bad faith to willfully and maliciously disseminate false information denying and minimizing the danger posed by the spread of the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, which is now recognized as an international pandemic,” the suit says. Last week, Fox Business Network said it officially “parted ways” with anchor Regan after what some called a rant against the “coronavirus impeachment scam.” But Eric Goldman, professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and an expert on so-called SLAPP lawsuits, says this complaint looks like one — a strategic lawsuit against public participation meant to chill free speech. “WASHLITE essentially accuses Fox News of false advertising because of its editorial misinformation,” Goldman said Friday via email. “The lawsuit is still a SLAPP, so I’m happy to call it that. There’s just not the fast procedural lane provided by the [Washington state] anti-SLAPP law.“ Still, Goldman frowns on Fox News content. He calls its COVID-19 coverage deplorable. “Many thousands of Americans will die because they relied on the misinformation broadcast by Fox News,” said Goldman, a board member of the Public Participation Project, working to pass federal anti-SLAPP legislation in Congress. “Historians will harshly condemn Fox News’ irresponsibility and gaslighting on COVID-19 (and many other subjects).” Goldman called attention the work of Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, who argued that Fox News’ disinformation is a leading source of America’s problems. WASHLITE’s West on Friday noted a 2015 high court ruling in Davis v. Cox that struck down the state’s prior SLAPP law’s summary proceeding as unconstitutional. “Stripping this away, there is nothing effective left of the present statute,” West said. “Second, the CPA only requires a showing of a capacity to deceive, and is unique in this way.” Finally, ordinary conditions don’t apply in Washington, with First Amendment rights to assemble and travel already “rightfully” restricted, he said. “Reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on speech have almost universally been upheld in the extraordinary circumstances where such measures are necessary to forestall a clear and present danger,” he said. “This is one such occasion.” West says the case will be bolstered via discovery. “We want to know when Fox News knew that the coronavirus was actually a dangerous thing, and we believe there is some evidence that … Mr. Murdoch and the staff running Fox News were implementing coronavirus protection measures for their staff … while at the same time they were broadcasting that it was a hoax.” He said the case isn’t a choice between order and liberty. “It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either,” West said via email. “There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.” The suit follows in the the wake of an open letter by scores of journalism professors assailing Fox News for “misinformation” that endangers its older audience’s health. Elizabeth “Liz” Hallock, a Green Party candidate for governor, is the lone attorney for WASHLITE. She shared a report on Hannity’s evolving statements on the virus. “We’ll have time in discovery to siphon through what was presented on the network and how it was presented,” she said via email. “There’s no doubt in my mind the sentiment that the novel coronavirus was a hoax was recirculated on Fox News like bad air.” She said this sentiment was repeated in her community and “made it exceedingly difficult to run a business that was trying to keep our facility clean and prevent the spread of the virus.” West, 59, is an Olympia resident who says he makes a living as an open-government advocate. Other board members have experience in tough cases, he says. But Katie Gillespie, president of the Washington state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, says she’s never heard of the group. “The go-to sunshine org in Washington is the Washington Coalition for Open Government,” she said. That group didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. WASHLITE board member David Koenig prevailed in a Washington Supreme Court case in which he sought disclosures under the state’s Public Records Act. West said the group is asking for nominal damages. “We’re not doing this to make a million dollars,” he said. “We’re doing this because we seriously believe that Fox’s coverage was outrageous and intolerable and interfered with an effective response to the coronavirus.” Why hadn’t they sued earlier? The virus crisis has “disrupted everyone’s lifestyle and schedule,” he said on the phone. “This is pretty much the first time we’ve come up for air.” He also defended having a single lawyer take on the news giant — No. 1 in cable ratings. “One good lawyer is worth a team of adequate lawyers,” West said. “One good lawyer with a good case can beat an entire law firm.”
  4. If you have some time to kill...
  5. This highlights one of the best advantages of being Canadian...
  6. Pandemics are profitable.... Thanks to a stunning new report from the New York Times, which has been relentless on the tax beat during the Trump administration, we've learned that a provision has been included in the 880-page coronavirus stimulus bill to help the very wealthy in a way that is breathtaking in its scope and detail. Now here is what changed in the historic $2 trillion stimulus bill. Previously, if a married couple had depreciation deductions that exceeded their real estate business income, the couple could claim that "loss" to write off taxes on a maximum of $500,000 in income from other sources, like wages from a day job. Under the change, our rich taxpayer couple -- and this applies only for individuals, not corporations -- can now deduct an unlimited amount of "excess losses" in real estate against income from other sources. So now real estate moguls with lucrative day jobs or bountiful capital gains from other investments can go back to living tax-free, the Kushner way, before limits were put in place as part of the 2017 tax reform bill. It gets worse, if that's possible. The change applies to this year -- and retroactively to 2019 and 2018. This means rich people can file amended returns now, and get refunds of perhaps millions of dollars, sooner than we can produce the number of ventilators we might need for the coronavirus crisis. Let's pause for a moment to review: The new relief provision only benefits those who can list more than $500,000 in excess business losses -- typically artificial losses from depreciation that have more than wiped out their business income on paper -- AND more than $500,000 in other income from wages or other sources now that the cap on the tax break has been removed. Pity such people in a time of pandemic? Congress did. Get our free weekly newsletter Sign up for CNN Opinion's new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook Who are they? The Times and other accounts refer to this category as the "top 1%" of taxpayers, according to Internal Revenue Service data. These are people who are likely making millions, writing off millions more in paper real estate losses, all the while really hating the taxes they must pay.
  7. Graffiti reads: “We can't return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.”
  8. It's what friends do to help friends in time of need. And when you need it, your friends return the kindness. China has donated thousands of medical supplies to Canada to help fight against the spread of COVID-19 across the country. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa announced Saturday that the Bank of China has donated 30,000 medical mass, 10,000 sets of protective clothing, 10,000 goggles, and 50,000 pairs of gloves, and masks to Canada. As countries band together in solidarity to find a cure for COVID-19, a shipment of N95 surgical masks will also be making its way to Canada, said the embassy. On March 27, Bank of China donates medical supplies (including 30000 medical masks, 10000 sets of protective clothing, 10000 goggles and 50000 pairs of gloves, followed by N95 medical masks) to Canada fighting against COVID-19. We are together! — ChineseEmbassyOttawa (@ChinaEmbOttawa) March 28, 2020 Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne took to social media to thank China for its donation the same day. "Thank you for this donation," he tweeted. "In the face of a global pandemic, supporting each other is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do." The donation come in the wake of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages worldwide as frontline workers across the globe work to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. China, which has also recently made donations to other countries like Pakistan, is the largest PPE supplier in the world, was forced to shut down its factories earlier this year when the outbreak first took place, causing a shortage in global supply. China's shortage prompted a donation from Canada of 16 tonnes of medical equipment in early February, while China was at the heig
  10. Robert Reich: We've reached a moral emergency. The privileged are profiting from this pandemic When society faces a common threat, exploiting a special advantage is morally repugnant. Societies gripped by cataclysmic wars, depressions, or pandemics can become acutely sensitive to power and privilege. Weeks before the coronavirus crushed the U.S. stock market, Republican Senator Richard Burr used information gleaned as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee about the ferocity of the coming pandemic to unload 33 stocks held by him and his spouse, estimated at between $628,033 and $1.72 million, in some of the industries likely to be hardest hit by the global outbreak. While publicly parroting Trump's happy talk at the time, Burr confided to several of his political funders that the disease would be comparable to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. Then the market tanked, along with the retirement savings of millions of Americans. Even some pundits on Fox News are now calling for Burr's resignation. When society faces a common threat, exploiting a special advantage is morally repugnant. Call it "Burring." However tolerable Burring may be in normal times, it's not now. In normal times, corporations get special favors from Washington in exchange for generous campaign contributions, and no one bats an eye. Recall the Trump tax cut, which delivered $1.9 trillion to big corporations and the wealthy. Yet the coronavirus should have altered business as usual. The most recent Senate Republican relief package, giving airlines $58 billion and more to other industries, is pure Burring. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried lamely to distinguish it from the notorious bank bailouts of 2008. "We are not talking about a taxpayer-funded cushion for companies that made mistakes. We are talking about loans, which must be repaid, for American employers whom the government itself is temporarily crushing for the sake of public health." But the airlines are big enough to get their own loans from banks at rock-bottom interest rates. Their planes and landing slots are more than adequate collateral. Why do airlines deserve to be bailed out? Over the last decade they spent 96 percent of their free cash flow, including billions in tax savings from the Trump tax cut, to buy back shares of their own stock. This boosted executive bonuses and pleased wealthy investors but did nothing to strengthen the airlines over the long term. Meanwhile, the four biggest carriers gained so much market power they jacked up prices on popular routes and slashed service (remember leg room and free bag checks?) United CEO Oscar Munoz did his own Burring last Friday, warning that if Congress doesn't bail out the airline by the end of March, United will start firing its employees. But even if bailed out, what are the odds United would keep paying all its workers if the pandemic forced it to stop flying? The bailout would be for shareholders and executives, not employees. While generous toward airlines and other industries, the Republican bill is absurdly stingy toward people, stipulating a one-time payment of up to $1,200 for every adult and $500 per child. Some 64 million households with incomes below $50,000 would get as little as $600. This would do almost nothing to help those who lose their jobs pay their mortgages, rents, and other bills for the foreseeable future. The Republican coronavirus bill is about as Burring as legislation can be — exposing the underlying structure of power in America as clearly as Burr's stock trades. In this national crisis, it's just as morally repulsive. Take a look at how big corporations are treating their hourly workers in this pandemic and you see more Burring. Walmart, the largest employer in America, doesn't give its employees paid sick leave, and limits its 500,000 part-0time workers to 48 hours paid time off per year. This Burring policy is now threatening countless lives. (On one survey, 88 percent of Walmart employees report sometimes coming to work when sick.) None of the giants of the fast-food industry — McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Duncan Donuts, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Subway — gives their workers paid sick leave, either. Amazon, one of the richest corporations in the world, which paid almost no taxes last year, is offering unpaid time off for workers who are sick and just 2 weeks paid leave for workers who test positive for the virus. Meanwhile, it demands that its employees put in mandatory overtime, And here's the most Burring thing of all: These corporations have made sure they and other companies with more than 500 employees are exempted from the requirement in the House coronavirus bill that employers provide paid sick leave. At a tie when almost everyone feels burdened and fearful, the use of power and privilege to exploit weakness and vulnerability is morally intolerable. Whatever form it takes, Burring must be stopped. Robert Reich Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."
  11. I am sorry you have confused yourself so much. Let me clarify it for you. The 1% gets the socialism to the tune of multi-trillion dollar bailouts. The poor gets capitalism because they work hard to pay for those bailouts without getting further ahead. All those corporations are filtering their books through foreign low tax countries so they pay no tax, yet they expect the average joe's taxes to save their butts. See the difference now?
  12. It isn't about leaving North America, it's about the rich getting socialist payouts, and the poor having to deal with paying for it.
  14. How the Pandemic Will End The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out. hree months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends. It has disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Soon, most everyone in the United States will know someone who has been infected. Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche. To hear more feature stories, get the Audm iPhone app. A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?” So, now what? In the late hours of last Wednesday, which now feels like the distant past, I was talking about the pandemic with a pregnant friend who was days away from her due date. We realized that her child might be one of the first of a new cohort who are born into a society profoundly altered by COVID-19. We decided to call them Generation C. As we’ll see, Gen C’s lives will be shaped by the choices made in the coming weeks, and by the losses we suffer as a result. But first, a brief reckoning. On the Global Health Security Index, a report card that grades every country on its pandemic preparedness, the United States has a score of 83.5—the world’s highest. Rich, strong, developed, America is supposed to be the readiest of nations. That illusion has been shattered. Despite months of advance warning as the virus spread in other countries, when America was finally tested by COVID-19, it failed. Anne Applebaum: The coronavirus called America’s bluff “No matter what, a virus [like SARS-CoV-2] was going to test the resilience of even the most well-equipped health systems,” says Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious-diseases physician at the Boston University School of Medicine. More transmissible and fatal than seasonal influenza, the new coronavirus is also stealthier, spreading from one host to another for several days before triggering obvious symptoms. To contain such a pathogen, nations must develop a test and use it to identify infected people, isolate them, and trace those they’ve had contact with. That is what South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong did to tremendous effect. It is what the United States did not. As my colleagues Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer have reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed and distributed a faulty test in February. Independent labs created alternatives, but were mired in bureaucracy from the FDA. In a crucial month when the American caseload shot into the tens of thousands, only hundreds of people were tested. That a biomedical powerhouse like the U.S. should so thoroughly fail to create a very simple diagnostic test was, quite literally, unimaginable. “I’m not aware of any simulations that I or others have run where we [considered] a failure of testing,” says Alexandra Phelan of Georgetown University, who works on legal and policy issues related to infectious diseases. Related Stories The 4 Key Reasons the U.S. Is So Behind on Coronavirus Testing How the Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe This Is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus The testing fiasco was the original sin of America’s pandemic failure, the single flaw that undermined every other countermeasure. If the country could have accurately tracked the spread of the virus, hospitals could have executed their pandemic plans, girding themselves by allocating treatment rooms, ordering extra supplies, tagging in personnel, or assigning specific facilities to deal with COVID-19 cases. None of that happened. Instead, a health-care system that already runs close to full capacity, and that was already challenged by a severe flu season, was suddenly faced with a virus that had been left to spread, untracked, through communities around the country. Overstretched hospitals became overwhelmed. Basic protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves, began to run out. Beds will soon follow, as will the ventilators that provide oxygen to patients whose lungs are besieged by the virus. Read: The people ignoring social distancing With little room to surge during a crisis, America’s health-care system operates on the assumption that unaffected states can help beleaguered ones in an emergency. That ethic works for localized disasters such as hurricanes or wildfires, but not for a pandemic that is now in all 50 states. Cooperation has given way to competition; some worried hospitals have bought out large quantities of supplies, in the way that panicked consumers have bought out toilet paper. Partly, that’s because the White House is a ghost town of scientific expertise. A pandemic-preparedness office that was part of the National Security Council was dissolved in 2018. On January 28, Luciana Borio, who was part of that team, urged the government to “act now to prevent an American epidemic,” and specifically to work with the private sector to develop fast, easy diagnostic tests. But with the office shuttered, those warnings were published in The Wall Street Journal, rather than spoken into the president’s ear. Instead of springing into action, America sat idle. Derek Thompson: America is acting like a failed state Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I’ve spoken with had feared. “Much worse,” said Ron Klain, who coordinated the U.S. response to the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014. “Beyond any expectations we had,” said Lauren Sauer, who works on disaster preparedness at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “As an American, I’m horrified,” said Seth Berkley, who heads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “The U.S. may end up with the worst outbreak in the industrialized world.” I. The Next Months Having fallen behind, it will be difficult—but not impossible—for the United States to catch up. To an extent, the near-term future is set because COVID-19 is a slow and long illness. People who were infected several days ago will only start showing symptoms now, even if they isolated themselves in the meantime. Some of those people will enter intensive-care units in early April. As of last weekend, the nation had 17,000 confirmed cases, but the actual number was probably somewhere between 60,000 and 245,000. Numbers are now starting to rise exponentially: As of Wednesday morning, the official case count was 54,000, and the actual case count is unknown. Health-care workers are already seeing worrying signs: dwindling equipment, growing numbers of patients, and doctors and nurses who are themselves becoming infected. Italy and Spain offer grim warnings about the future. Hospitals are out of room, supplies, and staff. Unable to treat or save everyone, doctors have been forced into the unthinkable: rationing care to patients who are most likely to survive, while letting others die. The U.S. has fewer hospital beds per capita than Italy. A study released by a team at Imperial College London concluded that if the pandemic is left unchecked, those beds will all be full by late April. By the end of June, for every available critical-care bed, there will be roughly 15 COVID-19 patients in need of one. By the end of the summer, the pandemic will have directly killed 2.2 million Americans, notwithstanding those who will indirectly die as hospitals are unable to care for the usual slew of heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents. This is the worst-case scenario. To avert it, four things need to happen—and quickly. Read: All the president’s lies about the coronavirus The first and most important is to rapidly produce masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. If health-care workers can’t stay healthy, the rest of the response will collapse. In some places, stockpiles are already so low that doctors are reusing masks between patients, calling for donations from the public, or sewing their own homemade alternatives. These shortages are happening because medical supplies are made-to-order and depend on byzantine international supply chains that are currently straining and snapping. Hubei province in China, the epicenter of the pandemic, was also a manufacturing center of medical masks. In the U.S., the Strategic National Stockpile—a national larder of medical equipment—is already being deployed, especially to the hardest-hit states. The stockpile is not inexhaustible, but it can buy some time. Donald Trump could use that time to invoke the Defense Production Act, launching a wartime effort in which American manufacturers switch to making medical equipment. But after invoking the act last Wednesday, Trump has failed to actually use it, reportedly due to lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and heads of major corporations. Some manufacturers are already rising to the challenge, but their efforts are piecemeal and unevenly distributed. “One day, we’ll wake up to a story of doctors in City X who are operating with bandanas, and a closet in City Y with masks piled into it,” says Ali Khan, the dean of public health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. A “massive logistics and supply-chain operation [is] now needed across the country,” says Thomas Inglesby of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. That can’t be managed by small and inexperienced teams scattered throughout the White House. The solution, he says, is to tag in the Defense Logistics Agency—a 26,000-person group that prepares the U.S. military for overseas operations and that has assisted in past public-health crises, including the 2014 Ebola outbreak. This agency can also coordinate the second pressing need: a massive rollout of COVID-19 tests. Those tests have been slow to arrive because of five separate shortages: of masks to protect people administering the tests; of nasopharyngeal swabs for collecting viral samples; of extraction kits for pulling the virus’s genetic material out of the samples; of chemical reagents that are part of those kits; and of trained people who can give the tests. Many of these shortages are, again, due to strained supply chains. The U.S. relies on three manufacturers for extraction reagents, providing redundancy in case any of them fails—but all of them failed in the face of unprecedented global demand. Meanwhile, Lombardy, Italy, the hardest-hit place in Europe, houses one of the largest manufacturers of nasopharyngeal swabs. Read: Why the coronavirus has been so successful Some shortages are being addressed. The FDA is now moving quickly to approve tests developed by private labs. At least one can deliver results in less than an hour, potentially allowing doctors to know if the patient in front of them has COVID-19. The country “is adding capacity on a daily basis,” says Kelly Wroblewski of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. On March 6, Trump said that “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” That was (and still is) untrue, and his own officials were quick to correct him. Regardless, anxious people still flooded into hospitals, seeking tests that did not exist. “People wanted to be tested even if they weren’t symptomatic, or if they sat next to someone with a cough,” says Saskia Popescu of George Mason University, who works to prepare hospitals for pandemics. Others just had colds, but doctors still had to use masks to examine them, burning through their already dwindling supplies. “It really stressed the health-care system,” Popescu says. Even now, as capacity expands, tests must be used carefully. The first priority, says Marc Lipsitch of Harvard, is to test health-care workers and hospitalized patients, allowing hospitals to quell any ongoing fires. Only later, once the immediate crisis is slowing, should tests be deployed in a more widespread way. “This isn’t just going to be: Let’s get the tests out there!” Inglesby says. These measures will take time, during which the pandemic will either accelerate beyond the capacity of the health system or slow to containable levels. Its course—and the nation’s fate—now depends on the third need, which is social distancing. Think of it this way: There are now only two groups of Americans. Group A includes everyone involved in the medical response, whether that’s treating patients, running tests, or manufacturing supplies. Group B includes everyone else, and their job is to buy Group A more time. Group B must now “flatten the curve” by physically isolating themselves from other people to cut off chains of transmission. Given the slow fuse of COVID-19, to forestall the future collapse of the health-care system, these seemingly drastic steps must be taken immediately, before they feel proportionate, and they must continue for several weeks. Juliette Kayyem: The crisis could last 18 months. Be prepared. Persuading a country to voluntarily stay at home is not easy, and without clear guidelines from the White House, mayors, governors, and business owners have been forced to take their own steps. Some states have banned large gatherings or closed schools and restaurants. At least 21 have now instituted some form of mandatory quarantine, compelling people to stay at home. And yet many citizens continue to crowd into public spaces. In these moments, when the good of all hinges on the sacrifices of many, clear coordination matters—the fourth urgent need. The importance of social distancing must be impressed upon a public who must also be reassured and informed. Instead, Trump has repeatedly played down the problem, telling America that “we have it very well under control” when we do not, and that cases were “going to be down to close to zero” when they were rising. In some cases, as with his claims about ubiquitous testing, his misleading gaffes have deepened the crisis. He has even touted unproven medications. Away from the White House press room, Trump has apparently been listening to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has advised every president since Ronald Reagan on new epidemics, and now sits on the COVID-19 task force that meets with Trump roughly every other day. “He’s got his own style, let’s leave it at that,” Fauci told me, “but any kind of recommendation that I have made thus far, the substance of it, he has listened to everything.” Read: Grocery stores are the coronavirus tipping point But Trump already seems to be wavering. In recent days, he has signaled that he is prepared to backtrack on social-distancing policies in a bid to protect the economy. Pundits and business leaders have used similar rhetoric, arguing that high-risk people, such as the elderly, could be protected while lower-risk people are allowed to go back to work. Such thinking is seductive, but flawed. It overestimates our ability to assess a person’s risk, and to somehow wall off the ‘high-risk’ people from the rest of society. It underestimates how badly the virus can hit ‘low-risk’ groups, and how thoroughly hospitals will be overwhelmed if even just younger demographics are falling sick. A recent analysis from the University of Pennsylvania estimated that even if social-distancing measures can reduce infection rates by 95 percent, 960,000 Americans will still need intensive care. There are only about 180,000 ventilators in the U.S. and, more pertinently, only enough respiratory therapists and critical-care staff to safely look after 100,000 ventilated patients. Abandoning social distancing would be foolish. Abandoning it now, when tests and protective equipment are still scarce, would be catastrophic. Read: America’s hospitals have never experienced anything like this If Trump stays the course, if Americans adhere to social distancing, if testing can be rolled out, and if enough masks can be produced, there is a chance that the country can still avert the worst predictions about COVID-19, and at least temporarily bring the pandemic under control. No one knows how long that will take, but it won’t be quick. “It could be anywhere from four to six weeks to up to three months,” Fauci said, “but I don’t have great confidence in that range.” II. The Endgame Even a perfect response won’t end the pandemic. As long as the virus persists somewhere, there’s a chance that one infected traveler will reignite fresh sparks in countries that have already extinguished their fires. This is already happening in China, Singapore, and other Asian countries that briefly seemed to have the virus under control. Under these conditions, there are three possible endgames: one that’s very unlikely, one that’s very dangerous, and one that’s very long. The first is that every nation manages to simultaneously bring the virus to heel, as with the original SARS in 2003. Given how widespread the coronavirus pandemic is, and how badly many countries are faring, the odds of worldwide synchronous control seem vanishingly small. The second is that the virus does what past flu pandemics have done: It burns through the world and leaves behind enough immune survivors that it eventually struggles to find viable hosts. This “herd immunity” scenario would be quick, and thus tempting. But it would also come at a terrible cost: SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible and fatal than the flu, and it would likely leave behind many millions of corpses and a trail of devastated health systems. The United Kingdom initially seemed to consider this herd-immunity strategy, before backtracking when models revealed the dire consequences. The U.S. now seems to be considering it too. Read: What will you do if you start coughing? The third scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. This is the best option, but also the longest and most complicated. It depends, for a start, on making a vaccine. If this were a flu pandemic, that would be easier. The world is experienced at making flu vaccines and does so every year. But there are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses—until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare—so researchers must start from scratch. The first steps have been impressively quick. Last Monday, a possible vaccine created by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health went into early clinical testing. That marks a 63-day gap between scientists sequencing the virus’s genes for the first time and doctors injecting a vaccine candidate into a person’s arm. “It’s overwhelmingly the world record,” Fauci said. But it’s also the fastest step among many subsequent slow ones. The initial trial will simply tell researchers if the vaccine seems safe, and if it can actually mobilize the immune system. Researchers will then need to check that it actually prevents infection from SARS-CoV-2. They’ll need to do animal tests and large-scale trials to ensure that the vaccine doesn’t cause severe side effects. They’ll need to work out what dose is required, how many shots people need, if the vaccine works in elderly people, and if it requires other chemicals to boost its effectiveness. “Even if it works, they don’t have an easy way to manufacture it at a massive scale,” said Seth Berkley of Gavi. That’s because Moderna is using a new approach to vaccination. Existing vaccines work by providing the body with inactivated or fragmented viruses, allowing the immune system to prep its defenses ahead of time. By contrast, Moderna’s vaccine comprises a sliver of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic material—its RNA. The idea is that the body can use this sliver to build its own viral fragments, which would then form the basis of the immune system’s preparations. This approach works in animals, but is unproven in humans. By contrast, French scientists are trying to modify the existing measles vaccine using fragments of the new coronavirus. “The advantage of that is that if we needed hundreds of doses tomorrow, a lot of plants in the world know how to do it,” Berkley said. No matter which strategy is faster, Berkley and others estimate that it will take 12 to 18 months to develop a proven vaccine, and then longer still to make it, ship it, and inject it into people’s arms. Read: COVID-19 vaccines are coming, but they’re not what you think It’s likely, then, that the new coronavirus will be a lingering part of American life for at least a year, if not much longer. If the current round of social-distancing measures works, the pandemic may ebb enough for things to return to a semblance of normalcy. Offices could fill and bars could bustle. Schools could reopen and friends could reunite. But as the status quo returns, so too will the virus. This doesn’t mean that society must be on continuous lockdown until 2022. But “we need to be prepared to do multiple periods of social distancing,” says Stephen Kissler of Harvard. Much about the coming years, including the frequency, duration, and timing of social upheavals, depends on two properties of the virus, both of which are currently unknown. First: seasonality. Coronaviruses tend to be winter infections that wane or disappear in the summer. That may also be true for SARS-CoV-2, but seasonal variations might not sufficiently slow the virus when it has so many immunologically naive hosts to infect. “Much of the world is waiting anxiously to see what—if anything—the summer does to transmission in the Northern Hemisphere,” says Maia Majumder of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. Second: duration of immunity. When people are infected by the milder human coronaviruses that cause cold-like symptoms, they remain immune for less than a year. By contrast, the few who were infected by the original SARS virus, which was far more severe, stayed immune for much longer. Assuming that SARS-CoV-2 lies somewhere in the middle, people who recover from their encounters might be protected for a couple of years. To confirm that, scientists will need to develop accurate serological tests, which look for the antibodies that confer immunity. They’ll also need to confirm that such antibodies actually stop people from catching or spreading the virus. If so, immune citizens can return to work, care for the vulnerable, and anchor the economy during bouts of social distancing. Scientists can use the periods between those bouts to develop antiviral drugs—although such drugs are rarely panaceas, and come with possible side effects and the risk of resistance. Hospitals can stockpile the necessary supplies. Testing kits can be widely distributed to catch the virus’s return as quickly as possible. There’s no reason that the U.S. should let SARS-CoV-2 catch it unawares again, and thus no reason that social-distancing measures need to be deployed as broadly and heavy-handedly as they now must be. As Aaron E. Carroll and Ashish Jha recently wrote, “We can keep schools and businesses open as much as possible, closing them quickly when suppression fails, then opening them back up again once the infected are identified and isolated. Instead of playing defense, we could play more offense.” Whether through accumulating herd immunity or the long-awaited arrival of a vaccine, the virus will find spreading explosively more and more difficult. It’s unlikely to disappear entirely. The vaccine may need to be updated as the virus changes, and people may need to get revaccinated on a regular basis, as they currently do for the flu. Models suggest that the virus might simmer around the world, triggering epidemics every few years or so. “But my hope and expectation is that the severity would decline, and there would be less societal upheaval,” Kissler says. In this future, COVID-19 may become like the flu is today—a recurring scourge of winter. Perhaps it will eventually become so mundane that even though a vaccine exists, large swaths of Gen C won’t bother getting it, forgetting how dramatically their world was molded by its absence. III. The Aftermath The cost of reaching that point, with as few deaths as possible, will be enormous. As my colleague Annie Lowrey wrote, the economy is experiencing a shock “more sudden and severe than anyone alive has ever experienced.” About one in five people in the United States have lost working hours or jobs. Hotels are empty. Airlines are grounding flights. Restaurants and other small businesses are closing. Inequalities will widen: People with low incomes will be hardest-hit by social-distancing measures, and most likely to have the chronic health conditions that increase their risk of severe infections. Diseases have destabilized cities and societies many times over, “but it hasn’t happened in this country in a very long time, or to quite the extent that we’re seeing now,” says Elena Conis, a historian of medicine at UC Berkeley. “We’re far more urban and metropolitan. We have more people traveling great distances and living far from family and work.” After infections begin ebbing, a secondary pandemic of mental-health problems will follow. At a moment of profound dread and uncertainty, people are being cut off from soothing human contact. Hugs, handshakes, and other social rituals are now tinged with danger. People with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder are struggling. Elderly people, who are already excluded from much of public life, are being asked to distance themselves even further, deepening their loneliness. Asian people are suffering racist insults, fueled by a president who insists on labeling the new coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” Incidents of domestic violence and child abuse are likely to spike as people are forced to stay in unsafe homes. Children, whose bodies are mostly spared by the virus, may endure mental trauma that stays with them into adulthood. Read: The kids aren’t all right After the pandemic, people who recover from COVID-19 might be shunned and stigmatized, as were survivors of Ebola, SARS, and HIV. Health-care workers will take time to heal: One to two years after SARS hit Toronto, people who dealt with the outbreak were still less productive and more likely to be experiencing burnout and post-traumatic stress. People who went through long bouts of quarantine will carry the scars of their experience. “My colleagues in Wuhan note that some people there now refuse to leave their homes and have developed agoraphobia,” says Steven Taylor of the University of British Columbia, who wrote The Psychology of Pandemics. But “there is also the potential for a much better world after we get through this trauma,” says Richard Danzig of the Center for a New American Security. Already, communities are finding new ways of coming together, even as they must stay apart. Attitudes to health may also change for the better. The rise of HIV and AIDS “completely changed sexual behavior among young people who were coming into sexual maturity at the height of the epidemic,” Conis says. “The use of condoms became normalized. Testing for STDs became mainstream.” Similarly, washing your hands for 20 seconds, a habit that has historically been hard to enshrine even in hospitals, “may be one of those behaviors that we become so accustomed to in the course of this outbreak that we don’t think about them,” Conis adds. Pandemics can also catalyze social change. People, businesses, and institutions have been remarkably quick to adopt or call for practices that they might once have dragged their heels on, including working from home, conference-calling to accommodate people with disabilities, proper sick leave, and flexible child-care arrangements. “This is the first time in my lifetime that I’ve heard someone say, ‘Oh, if you’re sick, stay home,’” says Adia Benton, an anthropologist at Northwestern University. Perhaps the nation will learn that preparedness isn’t just about masks, vaccines, and tests, but also about fair labor policies and a stable and equal health-care system. Perhaps it will appreciate that health-care workers and public-health specialists compose America’s social immune system, and that this system has been suppressed. Aspects of America’s identity may need rethinking after COVID-19. Many of the country’s values have seemed to work against it during the pandemic. Its individualism, exceptionalism, and tendency to equate doing whatever you want with an act of resistance meant that when it came time to save lives and stay indoors, some people flocked to bars and clubs. Having internalized years of anti-terrorism messaging following 9/11, Americans resolved to not live in fear. But SARS-CoV-2 has no interest in their terror, only their cells. Years of isolationist rhetoric had consequences too. Citizens who saw China as a distant, different place, where bats are edible and authoritarianism is acceptable, failed to consider that they would be next or that they wouldn’t be ready. (China’s response to this crisis had its own problems, but that’s for another time.) “People believed the rhetoric that containment would work,” says Wendy Parmet, who studies law and public health at Northeastern University. “We keep them out, and we’ll be okay. When you have a body politic that buys into these ideas of isolationism and ethnonationalism, you’re especially vulnerable when a pandemic hits.” Graeme Wood: The ‘Chinese virus’ is a test. Don’t fail it. Veterans of past epidemics have long warned that American society is trapped in a cycle of panic and neglect. After every crisis—anthrax, SARS, flu, Ebola—attention is paid and investments are made. But after short periods of peacetime, memories fade and budgets dwindle. This trend transcends red and blue administrations. When a new normal sets in, the abnormal once again becomes unimaginable. But there is reason to think that COVID-19 might be a disaster that leads to more radical and lasting change. The other major epidemics of recent decades either barely affected the U.S. (SARS, MERS, Ebola), were milder than expected (H1N1 flu in 2009), or were mostly limited to specific groups of people (Zika, HIV). The COVID-19 pandemic, by contrast, is affecting everyone directly, changing the nature of their everyday life. That distinguishes it not only from other diseases, but also from the other systemic challenges of our time. When an administration prevaricates on climate change, the effects won’t be felt for years, and even then will be hard to parse. It’s different when a president says that everyone can get a test, and one day later, everyone cannot. Pandemics are democratizing experiences. People whose privilege and power would normally shield them from a crisis are facing quarantines, testing positive, and losing loved ones. Senators are falling sick. The consequences of defunding public-health agencies, losing expertise, and stretching hospitals are no longer manifesting as angry opinion pieces, but as faltering lungs. After 9/11, the world focused on counterterrorism. After COVID-19, attention may shift to public health. Expect to see a spike in funding for virology and vaccinology, a surge in students applying to public-health programs, and more domestic production of medical supplies. Expect pandemics to top the agenda at the United Nations General Assembly. Anthony Fauci is now a household name. “Regular people who think easily about what a policewoman or firefighter does finally get what an epidemiologist does,” says Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Such changes, in themselves, might protect the world from the next inevitable disease. “The countries that had lived through SARS had a public consciousness about this that allowed them to leap into action,” said Ron Klain, the former Ebola czar. “The most commonly uttered sentence in America at the moment is, ‘I’ve never seen something like this before.’ That wasn’t a sentence anyone in Hong Kong uttered.” For the U.S., and for the world, it’s abundantly, viscerally clear what a pandemic can do. The lessons that America draws from this experience are hard to predict, especially at a time when online algorithms and partisan broadcasters only serve news that aligns with their audience’s preconceptions. Such dynamics will be pivotal in the coming months, says Ilan Goldenberg, a foreign-policy expert at the Center for a New American Security. “The transitions after World War II or 9/11 were not about a bunch of new ideas,” he says. “The ideas are out there, but the debates will be more acute over the next few months because of the fluidity of the moment and willingness of the American public to accept big, massive changes.” One could easily conceive of a world in which most of the nation believes that America defeated COVID-19. Despite his many lapses, Trump’s approval rating has surged. Imagine that he succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero. During the second term of his presidency, the U.S. turns further inward and pulls out of NATO and other international alliances, builds actual and figurative walls, and disinvests in other nations. As Gen C grows up, foreign plagues replace communists and terrorists as the new generational threat. One could also envisage a future in which America learns a different lesson. A communal spirit, ironically born through social distancing, causes people to turn outward, to neighbors both foreign and domestic. The election of November 2020 becomes a repudiation of “America first” politics. The nation pivots, as it did after World War II, from isolationism to international cooperation. Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy. The U.S. leads a new global partnership focused on solving challenges like pandemics and climate change. In 2030, SARS-CoV-3 emerges from nowhere, and is brought to heel within a month.
  16. Give it all away and then ask for Corporate Socialism to the tune of $50 Billion??? US airlines used up spare cash buying back shares America's biggest airlines have called on Washington for more than $50bn (£41bn) in aid as they suffer the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. US President Donald Trump on Monday pledged to back the industry "100%". But figures suggest major carriers spent almost all their spare cash in the last decade buying back their own shares. It comes as the airline industry is facing huge losses and widespread layoffs as passengers stay at home. Data revealed by Bloomberg show major airlines including United and American Airlines used up an average 96% of their spare cash buying back their own shares. Companies buy back their own shares for a number of reasons. Some have built up big cash piles that they don't want to sit on so spend the money buying back previously issued shares. This helps them reduce their costs as they have fewer shareholders to pay dividends to. Buying back stocks can also push up the company's share price, which many investors use to measure a company's performance. American Airlines led the pack, buying back more than $12.5 billion of its own shares from 2010 to 2019, according to Bloomberg figures. United Airlines used 80% of its spare cash buying back its shares. The average S&P 500 Index company spent about 50% of its spare cash buying back its own shares during this period. With limited cash reserves and a significant drop in revenues expected, US airlines are looking for government assistance of more than $50bn. Plane maker Boeing is also one of the firms looking for short-term assistance. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said last week that airlines are "on top of the list" for government help
  17. Спасибо за этого товарища!
  18. When you ask how Canada is doing by comparison? Nero fiddles.... WASHINGTON—On Sunday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted an image of himself playing a violin. Its caption read, “My next piece is called ... nothing can stop what’s coming.” He claimed not to know what it meant. Those who made “Nero” a trending term on social media, however, seemed to think the president was following in the footsteps of the emperor who fiddled as Rome burned. As Trump continues to downplay the severity of the virus, the outbreak is rapidly spreading through the country, although how rapidly and how widely is hard to tell due to a shortage of tests. “This is the most egregious level of incompetence in an administration that I think we’ve witnessed, at least in my memory,” Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told MSNBC. It’s not just Americans who should be worried. Viruses — like fires — know no borders. While we didn’t elect Trump, we can hear his fiddling and feel the heat. Canada, by most accounts, has been more responsive: deploying tests at a much faster rate, tracking cases carefully, deploying public health experts to get good information out. As the Star’s editorial board noted this week, “In Canada, the coronavirus crisis seems to be bringing out the best in governments at all levels.”
  19. I know it wasn't Trump, he isn't prepared.... Coronavirus: A problem unlike anything else Trump has faced There are two numbers that Donald Trump has consistently cared about and watched like a hawk. And, in his mind, they are inextricably linked. The first is his approval ratings. Nothing unusual in that. Ever since the end of World War Two and Gallup introducing its regular polling on this, every president from Harry Truman onwards has kept a wary eye on how they are being seen by the great American public - that is normal. The second figure is the stock market. While other presidents have seen that as a barometer to keep a watch on, no-one has obsessed about Wall Street like Donald Trump. Or if they have, they haven't provided a running commentary in quite the same way that he has. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The coronavirus is continuing to spread across the US, and Trump continues to urge calm His calculation is that if the stock market is soaring, then his approval ratings will go up and QED - he will be re-elected in November this year. So even when the stock market has the wind in its sails, the president will inhale deeply and blow forcefully in the hope of pushing the Dow Jones industrial average even higher. And every time the Dow or the S&P 500 hits a new high, he tweets to celebrate it - 280 times to be exact. In other words, roughly once every four days of his presidency he has exalted the markets. But with the arrival of the coronavirus, the markets have taken fright - and have been plunging vertiginously over the past couple of weeks. On Monday, the steepness of the decline was such that it set off a circuit-breaker alarm on Wall Street. Markets fell by more than 7%, and so trading was suspended for 15 minutes to give traders a breath to take stock. They took a breath. They took stock. And after 15 minutes the markets continued their plunge. There were complicating factors that are way above my pay grade to explain - all to do with Russia and Saudi Arabia and Opec [the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries] failing to agree on cuts in production in light of the collapse in demand for oil as a result of everyone cancelling their flights because of the coronavirus. But the fright on the markets is real. And what they have heard from this administration has not been reassuring to them. Punch and counter-punch President Trump is used to fighting from his bunker when a crisis arrives - and let's face it, the past three and a bit years haven't lacked drama. But the coronavirus is quantitatively and qualitatively different from anything he has faced. With the Robert Mueller investigation (remember that?), there were names. People: lyin' Jim Comey, Bob Mueller, little Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, Andrew McCabe etc. And during the impeachment trial there was a whole host of people that Donald Trump could swing a haymaking left hook at: shifty Schiff, nervous Nancy, cryin' Chuck Schumer. As Donald Trump will tell you, he's a great counter-puncher. But how do you hit a virus? Who's to blame? Who's the guilty party? Who do you tweet at? Covid-19 doesn't have a Twitter account. And in the midst of a health emergency, what is sacrosanct for anxious citizens - and frankly investors on Wall Street - is reliable information, a consistency of message from the government about the risks and how they can be mitigated, and that information flow will be based on the best available scientific evidence. No other factors should intrude. In the US, as the administration has scrambled to mount an effective response, the messages have been mixed. Not for the first time, the president has been contradicting his own advisers and medical experts. That has been a consistent feature of this presidency. Going back to the long-forgotten Mueller investigation, if the president hadn't totally contradicted his own press teams over the reasons for firing FBI director James Comey, would there have even been a need to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller? From the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump has sought to play down its seriousness and overestimate America's preparedness. He said the spread was under control. It isn't. He's said that the number of cases may soon go down to zero. They haven't, and it was not the advice he'd been given. He suggested that people with symptoms should go to work if they felt well enough. They shouldn't. He has also argued that he didn't want the benighted cruise liner, the Grand Princess, because it would add to the total of coronavirus cases in the US - when it's not his fault they were on a cruise liner. "I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault," Trump told Fox News. His concern from this seems not to be preserving the safety of American citizens (the thing he swears an oath to do at his inauguration), but keeping a lid on the numbers by keeping those with the virus - literally - at sea. Last Friday, he went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - the epicentre of the fight against the coronavirus - wearing a Keep America Great campaign hat, and said that there were tests available for every American who needed one. There aren't. So far, only around 1,500 Americans have been tested - compared to over 20,000 in the UK with a fifth of the population. Medical experts in the US believe that the real incidence of the coronavirus is far far higher than official figures reveal. But there seemed something jarring about the president, in the midst of a medical emergency, pitching up at the CDC with a campaign hat on. Was he there as a candidate for November 2020, or the Commander-in-Chief at a time of great uncertainty? The critique is that the reason Mr Trump is contradicting Vice-President Mike Pence (who has been put in charge of the nationwide response) and the public health professionals reporting to him, is that the president needs the markets to remain buoyant - they are vital to his re-election strategy. The kinder explanation is that he doesn't want to engender panic, leading to the ludicrous scenes that we saw from the UK at the weekend with people filling their baskets with toilet rolls (how long are people planning to self-quarantine for?) Mixed-message impact? Take Mr Trump's tweet on Monday morning as Wall Street was in freefall. "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" But while common influenza is most certainly a killer, experts estimate that the coronavirus is markedly deadlier. So at the same time as the president is tweeting this, officials are on the airwaves saying the crisis is real, that Americans need to respond, and it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. For all that Donald Trump may want Americans to carry on as though nothing has happened, behaviour is being affected. Airports are quieter, planes are emptier, hotels are easy to get cheap bookings at. If you're in the hand sanitiser business or you're Netflix (I have allowed myself the momentary fantasy of trying to calculate how many box sets I could get through if I self-quarantine), things have rarely looked rosier. For much of the rest of the economy, it's looking pretty grim. It is perfectly possible that the mixed messages will do the president no harm. How many times have commentators stroked their chins (something health advice tells us we should avoid) and come to the conclusion that this time the president will be deeply damaged, only for whatever perceived transgression to pass without so much as a dent to the bodywork? Frequently, is the answer. The president hasn't before had to deal with anything like this - a health crisis whose trajectory is uncertain - though if northern Italy and South Korea are anything to go by, it could get very serious indeed in the US. But there is something else that needs to be addressed about America and its preparedness for dealing with something like this - and this has nothing (well, more or less nothing) to do with Donald Trump and his administration. Yes, his gutting of the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council might now seem rash. Ditto, eliminating the US government's $30m (£23m) Complex Crises Fund. US is different and worried A lot of this goes to the foundation of what the US is and is not. America does not really have a welfare state. The safety net it offers its citizens is threadbare, to say the least. Yes, there are a range of highly innovative social policy programmes that were left over from the New Deal in the 1930s or the War on Poverty in the 1960s. Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act has resulted in many more millions having health insurance - but it is a long way short of what Europeans understand as a welfare state. Just consider testing. A friend of mine who lives in DC had been travelling abroad. He comes back to the US and develops first a really sore throat, then a cough, and quickly afterwards a temperature. He is concerned. He rings his GP, who tells him they have no testing kits. He rings the local hospital - they tell him they haven't got the capacity to deal with it. This is not weeks ago. This is last weekend (he seems much better now, I should add). But let's say the health system is perfectly geared to meet his concerns - and the clinic or hospital says sure, come in, let's get you tested. But now imagine my friend doesn't have great health insurance (or any insurance for that matter). Although the administration has decreed that the test is an essential health benefit, a lot of individuals will still be left with huge bills. Just like when you insure a car in the UK, you will have an excess - so you will have to pay, say, the first $500 of any claim - so in the US there are "deductibles". With your health insurance, there will be a sizable deductible that will fall to the citizen to pay. There is also the co-pay. That is the element of the cost of a prescription you will have to pay. I have often stood behind people at my local pharmacy who've not taken the drugs they were prescribed by the doctor because the co-pay is so high. The Financial Times estimates the cost of the coronavirus testing to be borne by individuals could cost thousands. If you're barely subsisting and living "pay cheque to pay cheque", where do you find the money for that? Or what if you are simply feeling unwell, or you may have been exposed to someone who has contracted the virus? The current advice is that you should self-quarantine for two weeks. Two weeks? That is two weeks without pay. Two weeks where you are sitting at home and you may develop nothing. It might be two weeks that will need to be repeated at a later date. Currently, there is no federal sick pay in the US. Eleven states, as well as Washington DC, offer sick pay. That means there are 39 states which don't. If you go sick, you get nothing. It means that the US has fewer work days lost to illness than virtually anywhere else on the planet. But what if you want the employee to stay at home? The impetus if you are sick is that you will continue to go to work, increasing massively the risks that the coronavirus spreads like wildfire. Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - and the doctor who has been a clear voice at all the White House briefings on the coronavirus - said at the weekend that he was concerned by the growing incidence of "community spread" - in other words, where the source of the virus is unknown. I heard from a friend at the weekend who is a health professional in the UK National Health Service (NHS). She told me that they had repeatedly "war-gamed" disaster scenarios - not exactly the same, but the sort of emergency that would put enormous strain on the system: of what they would do, of how they would make beds available. She described a command-and-control structure that would cascade down from central government to regional health bodies, and which in turn would pass on advice to the hospitals, GPs' surgeries and clinics that will deal with patients. And just as on major policing events, like mass demonstrations or riots, there would be a gold command and silver command. She thought there would be serious strains, and on a "reasonable worst case planning scenario" - the phrase being used to deal with the gloomiest end of projections - the system might be overloaded. No buttons to press But at least there is a system - not perfect by any means. Those working in the gig economy in Europe will also not want to self-quarantine and lose their money. The NHS is bureaucratic and cumbersome, but there are levers the UK prime minister can press in London that will result in things happening around the country. The US president has a button which, if he presses, can lead to nuclear Armageddon, and another one on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office that will lead to one of the White House stewards bringing him another Diet Coke. But perhaps on health and social welfare provision in a time of emergency, this is one occasion when the man in the French presidential palace at the Elysée, and the bloke in Downing Street and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and poor Signor Conte, the Italian prime minister, in Rome - and that's not forgetting all those tax-heavy social democracies in Scandinavia - have more power to make a difference than the guy in the White House. US capitalism is fantastic when markets are booming and the state lets you get on and lead your life without interference. Maybe not so good when the chips are down.