Posted on

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Just Learned About Asymptomatic Spread

One issue for Republican politics at the moment is that the only criterion that matters for anyone seeking power—absolute fealty to Donald Trump—rarely seems to overlap with competence. “It’s by nature almost impossible for Trump to build an administration of quality,” historian Douglas Brinkley told me what seems a lifetime ago. “It’s not about good governance or ethics or even dead-rock patriotism. It’s about full-bore allegiance to him, to Trump.” This is true of the president’s Cabinet and someone like Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, who predicted in January that the novel coronavirus outbreak would be good for American jobs. 10 million people have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks.

But it’s also true of the new class of Republican governors, who have pledged allegiance to The Leader, but who are also often feckless morons. Exhibit A is one Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia. Mr. Kemp ran for the top job in 2018 while he was secretary of state, meaning he had authority to administer state elections, and he refused to recuse himself from overseeing the gubernatorial election in which he was running. This is known as a conflict of interest. In a shocking turn of events, there was a lot of sketchy shit around voter suppression in that election. (In the last few days, both the Republican president and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston have said outright that it is to the party’s detriment for more Americans to vote.) Anyway, Kemp oversaw his own narrow victory over Stacey Abrams, and now he’s the governor during a worldwide pandemic.

In his very finite wisdom, Kemp did not put in place statewide mitigation measures like social distancing until Wednesday, when he announced his reversal with a stunning admission.

There is simply no way you could have been paying any attention over the last month—or really months—and not know that coronavirus can be spread by people who are not exhibiting symptoms. No way. Even your average Hannity viewer must surely know this by now. After all, Ol’ Sean is on a campaign these days to pretend he’s always taken this seriously. But somehow, the governor of the nation’s ninth-largest state was completely unaware of asymptomatic transmission until sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday—and it scared him!

Unfortunately, this is what you get when “competent administration” is not among your criteria for choosing a state executive. All you need to make it in Republican politics these days is to lash yourself to Trump and start yelling about immigrant crime. Just to Georgia’s south, there’s Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis rose to lead the nation’s fourth-largest state as another Trumpish clone.

As a result, his primary response until the last few days was to suggest that the virus was a New York Problem, mandating that anyone traveling from the Empire State—which has been hardest hit—quarantine themselves when they arrive in Florida. Every problem can be traced to some external enemy, against whom retribution can be taken in order to remedy the issue. This response was an anachronism, however: the virus was almost certainly floating around Florida already. It probably didn’t help that DeSantis refused to close the state’s beaches before thousands from all over the country came down for Spring Break, where they mingled together until it was time to go home and bring with them whatever they picked up during the festivities. In fairness, DeSantis’s Democratic opponent in that gubernatorial election was recently found in a hotel room with another guy and some meth. Florida.

But Kemp in particular is an emblem of the militant ignorance which is now required to make it in Republican political life. If you actually know things, you will frequently find yourself in disagreement with the president, so it’s best to dunk your head in the sand and, when you occasionally come up for air, bash immigrants. The president was briefed on the full catastrophic possibilities of the COVID-19 pandemic in January—including that China was fudging its numbers on how bad the situation was there—and chose to downplay the problem for the better part of two months in public. A little over a month ago, he said the number of U.S. cases would go from 15 to zero in a miraculous turn of events. Now there are 214,000 cases in the United States—including 7,700 in Florida and nearly 5,000 in Georgia—and the president has suggested his administration will have done a “good job” if 200,000 Americans die. It’s almost like governing is a hard job that requires people with intelligence and skill to do it.

Posted on

Some critically ill COVID-19 patients choosing to die at home rather than be treated with ventilator in ICU

It is the worst-case scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic: so many seriously ill patients that doctors have to decide who gets access to a limited number of intensive-care beds and ventilators.

And who is deprived of the potentially life-saving treatment.

But as the number of Canadians made critically ill by the virus ticks up, some patients or their families are actually foregoing entirely the often-harrowing treatment afforded by ICUs and breathing machines.

A number of elderly patients have died in long-term care homes rather than submit to intensive therapy that might have only made their passing more painful and uncomfortable.

Dying on a ventilator with a viral pneumonia would be an undignified way to go

Physicians, meanwhile, are urging Canadians to consider now whether they would want the full panoply of ICU care should COVID-19 make them severely ill, especially given research showing survivors of such treatment often fare poorly over the long term.

“If someone felt like they were approaching the end of their life, dying on a ventilator with a viral pneumonia would be an undignified way to go,” said Dr. Michael Detsky, a critical care specialist at Toronto’s Mt. Sinai hospital. “I would be very supportive if somebody told me they didn’t want mechanical ventilation should they deteriorate.”

Some doctors are even considering whether to raise a more touchy issue, asking patients or families to consider giving up their chance at a ventilator for someone more likely to survive.

For now, Canada’s ICUs have ample space, especially after the cancellation of elective surgeries at most hospitals, and more ventilators are on order. But there are fears that a surge in coronavirus cases like that in Italy or New York — which is by no means a foregone conclusion in Canada — could swamp the system and even lead to rationing of care.

Guidelines developed recently by the University of Toronto’s critical-care medicine department urge health-care workers to ask COVID-19 patients soon after they’re admitted what goals they have for treatment, given the potential for “rapid deterioration” once laboured breathing and low oxygen levels set in.

Such conversations could have benefits for more than just the patients, say the guidelines.

“Early establishment of goals of care may also reduce unnecessary utilization of limited critical care,” they say.

Statistics on the proportion of Canada’s 130 or so COVID-19 deaths that have occurred outside of hospital or the ICU are hard to come by.

But one of the largest outbreaks of the disease in the country — resulting in 16 deaths so far — offers some indication of what’s happening.

When the first cases of the coronarvirus emerged at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., last month, its medical director, Dr. Michelle Snarr, emailed families to warn they may have to decide whether to send their loved ones to hospital. That would involve going on a ventilator, she said, and a frail nursing-home resident would likely “suffer a great deal” and might not survive the ordeal.

Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont.

Carlos Osorio/Reuters/File

Snarr could not be reached for comment, but it appears none went the ICU route.

“Under normal times, we would send people to the hospital if that was the family’s wishes, but we knew that was not going to be possible knowing that so many people were going to all get sick at once and also knowing the only way to save a life from COVID is with a ventilator and to put a frail, elderly person on a ventilator, that’s cruel,” she told CTV News.

In Quebec, Micheline Sauriol’s mother died from COVID-19 at a seniors’ home in LaSalle after briefly being taken to Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital and then returned, according to CBC.

Ventilators help people breathe when their lungs cease to function properly and can save lives. But they also have clear negative side effects.

It is routine for critical-care physicians to brief patients, especially elderly people with multiple illnesses, about the travails and uncertain outcomes of going on the machines, said Dr. Gordon Rubenfeld of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“It’s not like you’re awake and alert and writing notes to loved ones.”

Getty Images

With a tube down their throat and often under sedation, they cannot communicate, while the process of inserting the tube and suctioning airways is uncomfortable and painful. Patients are also unable to take care of their own bodily functions or cleaning. Some say they would let staff know when they’ve had enough, but are shocked to learn they’d have no way to indicate that, said Rubenfeld.

“It’s a bit like being in a twilight or in a dream,” he said. “It’s not like you’re awake and alert and writing notes to loved ones … This inability to communicate is one thing that people don’t know and seems to play an important role in their decisions.”

And the research, a lot of it carried out by Canada’s critical-care doctors, indicates that those who make it out of the ICU and a long stint on a ventilator face an unsure future.

Experts call the possible negative effects “post intensive-care syndrome” — a combination of cognitive decline, psychiatric problems like depression and post-traumatic stress and muscular-skeletal weakness.

A striking 2017 paper by Detsky and colleagues looked at about 300 patients in Pennsylvania who had spent at least three days in the ICU and more than 48 hours on ventilation or being infused with a drug for dangerously low blood pressure.

With a median age of 62, half were dead within six months, and just a third were back to their previous health levels, the researchers found.

Informing patients of the risks and benefits of ICU treatment is standard. But if hospitals become overrun with COVID-19 patients, Rubenfeld wonders if doctors should bring altruism into the picture — tell patients who are unlikely to fare well that not going on a ventilator could free up one for someone more likely to benefit.

“I really do believe that a lot of people are altruistic and a lot of people, particularly Canadians, have a really strong sense of community and social justice,” he said. “It may well be the most ethical and humane way to present this to families.”

Listen to our news podcast, 10/3, on Apple Podcasts

Posted on

Record jobless claims but Dems, GOP divide over rescue bill

President Donald Trump wants to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure projects to create jobs and help the collapsing economy rebuild from the coronavirus’ stunning blows. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that seems about right.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fresh data on Thursday that detailed a record avalanche of unemployment claims offered no signs of easing the rift between Democrats and Republicans over the need for new legislation financing infrastructure and other job-creation programs.

With the coronavirus barreling across the country and sending the economy into a deep freeze, the report that 6.6 million people filed for jobless benefits last week made congressional action “even more critical,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. The jaw-dropping figure doubled last week’s record, which itself quadrupled the previous mark.

But a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Kentucky Republican had nothing to add to his comments earlier this week that it’s not time for Congress to rush ahead.

McConnell has told interviewers that lawmakers should first assess the effectiveness of the $2.2 trillion rescue package enacted last week, and has warned Pelosi against pushing environmental requirements and other Democratic priorities. He suggested to The Washington Post that the next bill should be “credibly paid for,” after last week’s massive measure was financed by adding more borrowing to a national debt that’s already $21 trillion.

A growing but still inconsistent national effort to starve the virus by ordering Americans to stay at home, which has snuffed out jobs and businesses, has led President Donald Trump to propose has a $2 trillion infrastructure package, though without detail.

Talk in the White House has percolated about the inevitability of another big stimulus package. But as of Thursday morning, there was no immediate plan to urgently push for a proposal or signal to McConnell to bring the Senate back to Washington, according to two administration officials who were not authorized to describe the discussions publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other Republicans expressed similar skepticism.

“I’m not opposed to infrastructure. What I’m opposed to is using a crisis to restructure government,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. He said before writing more bailout legislation, “We’ve got to make sure this is implemented correctly.”

“First things, let’s put out the fire,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a senior Republican from Texas, who said focus was needed on efficiently spending the already approved $2.2 trillion. “Then we can then we can think more carefully and deliberately about rebuilding the infrastructure.”

Trump himself lashed out Thursday at Pelosi’s creation of a bipartisan House select committee on the coronavirus as a “witch hunt” and “ridiculous” and predicted it would ultimately help build up his poll numbers. “I want to remind everyone here in our nation’s capital, especially in Congress, that this is not the time for politics, endless partisan investigations,” Trump said.

The president also slammed Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer after the New York lawmaker criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic. In a blistering letter, Trump told Schumer that if he had spent less time on the “ridiculous impeachment hoax,” New York “would not have been so completely unprepared” for the outbreak.

House Democrats are crafting a bill that Pelosi says is roughly the same size as Trump’s $2 trillion. It would finance road, water and broadband projects, expand unemployment benefits and funnel money to state and local governments and hospitals.

With lawmakers at home and not expected to return to Washington until late this month at best, there was virtually no prospect that Congress could act soon. Even so, Pelosi has been setting markers for what Democrats want the next measure to contain, and she said Thursday that the House will move ahead, regardless of what the GOP-controlled Senate does.

All but daring McConnell to take no action, she added, “It’s obvious what is necessary to be done. To ignore it is to ignore the fact that the virus crisis is raging, that we can do something about it to rein it in, but it takes resources.”

Pelosi said she wants the next bill to extend the extra $600 weekly payments above existing state levels that last week’s legislation is providing. That extra amount is due to last four months.

She also wants the plan to contain more money for food stamps and for states to administer the growing numbers of unemployment applicants, plus some kind of protections for renters.

State and local governments are being hit with a double-whammy: reduced revenues caused by the pandemic’s economic havoc and additional costs of fighting it. They received a total of $150 billion in last week’s bill, along with added federal payments for state Medicaid budgets, but advocates for states and cities say it won’t be sufficient.

States are required to balance their budgets and many governors are staring down enormous fiscal gaps. New York, for instance, could be staring at a $9 billion to $15 billion shortfall, according to the state budget director, while smaller states such as Oklahoma are estimating a $250 million to $500 million shortfall.

Pressure from governors in Trump strongholds could be a catalyst for Congress’ next coronavirus relief legislation. Pelosi acknowledged that, telling reporters that demands from state and local officials was “probably the biggest leverage” Democrats will have to get another bill.

On Thursday, 128 lawmakers, virtually all Democrats, sent Pelosi a letter requesting more relief for small- and medium-sized cities.

The approaches taken by Pelosi and McConnell also reflect the rivalries between the two, as well as internal party politics.

Pelosi runs a top-down operation, taking a lead in virtually all major legislation that involves negotiations with Republicans. She often seeks to demonstrate that she’s consulting with rank-and-file lawmakers, such as when she produced last week’s $2.5 trillion Democratic coronavirus proposal.

Republicans such as McConnell like to demonstrate toughness in dealings with Pelosi. That was on display when he limited her participation in the last month’s talks on rebate checks and relief for businesses big and small.

Pelosi also said she will establish a special House committee with subpoena power to oversee the government’s spending of the trillions it is providing to combat the effects of the pandemic.

She said the new bipartisan panel would be headed by No. 3 House Democratic leader James Clyburn of South Carolina and will try guarding against waste, profiteering, price gouging and political favoritism. Pelosi said it was modeled on a Senate committee that oversaw defense spending during World War II.

McCarthy, the top House Republican, said he opposed Pelosi’s proposal, saying it would take weeks to establish and would duplicate work by existing oversight panels.


Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Posted on

Oprah Winfrey Announces Massive Donation To ‘Help Americans’ In Cities Across The Country During Coronavirus Outbreak

Oprah Winfrey announced Thursday that she will be donating $10 million to “help Americans” in cities across the country during the fight against the coronavirus.

“I am donating $10 million overall to help Americans during this pandemic in cities across the country and in areas where I grew up,” the 66-year-old actress and former talk show host tweeted. The post was noted by The Hill. (RELATED: Here Are The Members Of Congress Self-Quarantining After Meeting Person With Coronavirus At CPAC)

“For more on this Fund and how everyone can be of service, watch this free AppleTV+ conversation here,” she added, along with a link to the chat on “Oprah Talks.” (RELATED: LIVE UPDATES: Here’s What Every State In America Is Doing To Combat The Spread Of The Coronavirus)

In the clip, Winfrey continued, while talking via video to chef José Andrés and Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, “I know everybody can’t donate a million dollars but I feel like this is the central place to go if you really want to do something.” (RELATED: REPORT: Coachella Potentially Rescheduled To October Due To Coronavirus Fears)

“Everybody who’s sitting at home and thinking, I don’t know what to do and I don’t know where to give my money to, I know I can trust my money in your hands,” she added.

In a second post she wrote, “I believe that America’s Food Fund will be a powerful way to make a difference for our neighbors in need and am committing $1 million to this fund to support those facing food insecurity.”

Winfrey’s donation is the latest one from celebrities who have donated millions during the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Dolly Parton announced that she was donating $1 million to Vanderbilt for research underway to find a cure for COVID-19.

Posted on

FISA reauthorizations in doubt after findings that FBI surveillance was riddled with major errors

New findings by the Justice Department inspector general that the FBI has repeatedly violated surveillance rules could impact Congress’ pending reauthorization of key powers related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), with top Republican lawmakers already saying the DOJ report will have major consequences for surveillance law.

Several surveillance provisions under the 2015 USA Freedom Act have lapsed in recent weeks, at least temporarily, because the House has not yet passed the Senate’s 77-day temporary extension. The House had amended portions of the law in its own proposed three-year reauthorization, but the Senate couldn’t reach an agreement on the matter and decided to try to punt the matter so that lawmakers could focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

The three lapsed provisions include the “roving wiretap” power, which enables authorities to obtain a warrant from the FISC without identifying the target, and while following a target from one device to another. Also included is the “lone wolf” power, which allows authorities to obtain a FISA court warrant without demonstrating that the target is working for a foreign entity. A records provision that allows authorities to seize telephone metadata and banking records, among other documents, is also suspended.

The DOJ has called on Congress to renew the surveillance provisions, even as it acknowledged they were not perfect.

“No one was more appalled than the attorney general at the way the FISA process was abused. This abuse resulted in one of the greatest political travesties in American history and should never happen again,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. “However, FISA remains a critical tool to ensuring the safety and security of the American people, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.”

But lawmakers were skeptical, pointing out that the DOJ watchdog had found that FISA problems were systemic at the bureau and extended beyond the FBI’s probe into former Trump adviser Carter Page. In four of the 29 cases the DOJ inspector general reviewed, the FBI did not have any so-called “Woods files” at all, referring to mandatory documentation demonstrating that it had independently corroborated key factual assertions in its surveillance warrant applications. In three of those applications, the FBI couldn’t confirm that Woods documentation ever existed.

The other 25 applications the DOJ reviewed contained an average of 20 assertions not properly supported with Woods materials; one application contained 65 unsupported claims. The review encompassed the work of eight field offices over the past five years in several cases.

“Unbelievable,” wrote Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. “Inspector General Horowitz found 4 of the 29 Woods Files were missing… and in 3 instances, it’s possible they never existed. This is exactly why we need to reform our #FISA system. We can’t let what happened to @realDonaldTrump in 2016 ever happen again!”


Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., issued a joint statement saying the DOJ report would impact the surveillance reauthorizations.

“This report also comes at a critical time. In the coming months the Senate will consider extending important surveillance tools authorized in the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015,” they wrote. “The FISA process needs real reforms, not window-dressing.”

Congress is out of session until mid-April. Senate leaders struck a deal with pro-privacy lawmakers, including Lee, Leahy and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that will allow them to propose amendments to the House’s FISA plan when the Senate is back in session.

“The FISA process needs real reforms, not window-dressing.”

— Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Lee and Leahy said they would be sure to “address the issues identified by the inspector general” in their amendments.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, in March urged an amendment that would prohibit the warrantless collection of web browsing and Internet search history, as well as an amendment establishing independent oversight of the FISA process.

“Under this agreement, the Senate will have an opportunity to debate whether the government can conduct digital tracking of Americans without a warrant,” Wyden said. “Everyone who was concerned about the government collecting their library records, or seeing who you called, should be terrified that the government can grab your Internet browsing history without a warrant. That’s wrong, and my amendment prohibits that practice. And I strongly support my colleagues’ amendment to add independent oversight of FISA, which has had bipartisan support for many years and will finally be considered.”

Reps. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., urged the Senate to reject the bill.

A former Trump campaign advisor, Page was the subject of electronic surveillance by the FBI because a judge found probable cause that he was acting as an agent of the Russian government. The DOJ has since determined that no such probable cause existed, and that the FBI made numerous errors — and at least one deliberate lie — to convince the court that there was reason to monitor Page. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Trump, who has repeatedly noted that Page was extensively monitored under FISA based on information that has since been proven legally inadequate and in some cases fraudulent, has floated the possibility of vetoing a FISA reauthorization should it come to his desk.

Page was surveilled largely because of a discredited dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). An FBI lawyer in that case even falsified a CIA email submitted to the FISA court in order to make Page’s communications with Russians appear nefarious, the DOJ inspector general found; and the DOJ has concluded that the Page warrant was legally improper.


The report from the DOJ inspector general last week stood in stark contrast to the years of assurances from top Democrats and media commentators that bureau scrupulously handled FISA warrants.

It Ain’t Easy Getting a FISA Warrant: I Was an FBI Agent and Should Know,” read a 2017 article from former FBI special agent and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa, who spent most of her career as a university admissions administrator. It is unclear whether Rangappa has ever handled a FISA application.

In the piece, Rangappa credulously asserted that FISA applications, after a preliminary exhaustive review, travel “to the Justice Department where attorneys from the National Security Division comb through the application to verify all the assertions made in it. Known as ‘Woods procedures’ after Michael J. Woods, the FBI Special Agent attorney who developed this layer of approval, DOJ verifies the accuracy of every fact stated in the application.”

Rangappa, who repeated the same message on-air multiple times, was not alone in the media in propping up the FISA process. A comprehensive review by The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple underscored how Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand launched her career in part through ultimately debunked reporting on the Steele dossier.

Wemple’s Washington Post itself ended up in the Page FISA application as a key source alongside the dossier. A 2016 opinion piece by the Post’s Josh Rogin entitled, “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine,” had overstated developments at the Republican National Convention in 2016. A single delegate had proposed a sweeping amendment to change the GOP platform to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, in a major shift from the Obama administration’s policy; parts of that amendment were rejected.

But, the Post’s opinion piece framed the development as nefarious, and a possible smoking gun. In a Page FISA application, the FBI went on to cite Rogin’s article word-for-word – without quotation marks, but with a footnoted citation – as evidence that the Trump campaign could be working with the Russians in an illicit manner. The FBI apparently did not obtain independent verification of the article’s claims.


Nevertheless, for several years, Democrats and other analysts at The New York TimesThe Washington Post and CNN have repeatedly claimed that key claims in the Clinton-funded anti-Trump dossier had been corroborated and that the document was not critical to the FBI’s warrant to surveil Page. Horowitz repudiated that claim, with the FBI’s legal counsel even describing the warrant to surveil Page as “essentially a single source FISA” wholly dependent on the dossier.

Among the unsubstantiated claims in the dossier: that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russian hackers; that the Trump campaign was paying hackers working out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami; that a lurid blackmail tape of Trump existed and might be in Russian possession; and that Page was bribed with a 19 percent share in a Russian company.

Posted on

‘Save It for Younger Patients’

In the modern world, social media has helped foster a society of self-centeredness. Many people today are more concerned about good-looking selfies than they are with the well-being of their neighbors.

For one compassionate, elderly woman in Belgium, that was certainly not the case.

Ninety-year-old Suzanne Hoylaerts, a coronavirus patient, reportedly refused to be put on a ventilator earlier this month, asking her doctors to save it for younger patients.

She died March 22, two days after being hospitalized, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.

TRENDING: CA Had 21,000 Emergency Hospital Beds Thanks to GOP Gov, But Dems Cut Them and Never Replaced

“I don’t want to use artificial respiration. Save it for younger patients. I already had a good life,” Hoylaerts reportedly told doctors, who later relayed her words to her daughter Judith, according to the Daily Mail’s translation of an article on the Belgian news site 7sur7.

Hoylaerts wasn’t the only one affected by her decision to refuse care. Her death was quite hard on her daughter as well.

Judith told 7sur7 her elderly mother “took the lockdown seriously” and had been in isolation before her admittance to the hospital, according to Complex.

Judith also said her mother spoke to her shortly before being admitted, saying, “You must not cry. You did everything you could.”

“I can’t say goodbye to her, and I don’t even have a chance to attend her funeral,” Judith added.

This stunning show of self-sacrifice from Hoylaerts comes amidst the devastating coronavirus pandemic, which has left hospitals around the world short on supplies.

Her choice to forgo treatment may give one more patient a fighting chance to survive.

While the virus is known for its effect on the elderly, Hoylaerts’ concern for younger patients is not unwarranted.

RELATED: Prince Charles Breaks Silence While Battling Coronavirus, Encourages People To Live with Hope and Faith

In the very same country of Belgium, a 12-year-old girl reportedly became the youngest known European to die from COVID-19, according to Reuters.

At a time when the world seems to be falling apart, it can often be hard to appreciate the beauty of life.

Suzanne Hoylaerts didn’t have any problem seeing that beauty. With her final act, she only hoped to give others a chance to see it as well.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Posted on

Live Coronavirus News and Updates

“The committee will be acting before the fact to prevent a lot of waste, fraud and abuse,” Ms. Pelosi said, adding that she planned to reach out to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, to discuss keeping tabs on the stimulus measure and the trillions of dollars in federal money that will be dispersed across the country.

“There are things that are so new, and the rest, and we want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” she said, adding “where there’s money, there’s frequently mischief.” It is not clear how successful such a committee would be in extracting answers from the Trump administration about the broader virus response.

“The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats on Thursday.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly described his handling of the pandemic as exemplary, even though it has been plagued by missteps, including equipment shortages and a failure to test people early on that cost the government a crucial month it could have spent working to contain the virus. He has a long record of blocking efforts by Congress to oversee his administration, and in signing the stimulus measure, Mr. Trump suggested that he would have control over what information an inspector general overseeing the $500 billion corporate bailout fund would have to share with lawmakers.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, told reporters on Thursday that an oversight committee was unnecessary, saying it “seems really redundant.”

The F.D.A. approved a test that could help detect immunity.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first test for coronavirus antibodies for use in the United States.

Currently available tests are designed to find fragments of viral DNA indicating an ongoing infection. An antibody test, on the other hand, tells doctors whether a patient has ever been exposed to the virus — and, having recovered, now may have at least some immunity.

Posted on

Censor Trump’s Briefings, Air China’s Propaganda

The lack of regular White House press briefings used to be decried as the end of democracy. Now it’s daily White House briefings that represent the end of democracy.

Actress Jane Lynch demanded on Twitter on Monday that President Donald Trump end his daily press briefings and that the media stop covering them.

Lest one think this is just one misguided voice in the dark crevasse that is celebrity Twitter punditry, there’s now a petition by the left-wing activist organization to get news outlets to stop covering the briefings.

Many in the political punditocracy are hopping aboard this idea.

“I would stop putting those briefings on live TV—not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation,” liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on her prime-time program.

“Enough is enough. Americans deserve so much better than what this president offers every time he approaches the podium,” wrote Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. “He needs to give up the daily press briefings, and let the experts take control so that they can use these press conferences to reassure Americans in our time of distress and not cause more fear when we need it least.”

Perhaps worst of all, some major media outlets actually seem to be taking the ending of press briefing coverage seriously.

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet explained why the Gray Lady doesn’t find the White House briefings worth covering.

“Nowadays, it seems they make little news. We, of course, reserve the right to show them live [via web streaming], if we believe they will actually make news,” Baquet said, according to The Washington Post. “But that hasn’t happened in quite some time.”

That doesn’t seem consistent, however, with his publication’s own reporting.

A March 25 New York Times article suggested that the media stop covering Trump’s press briefings because they are spreading what it calls “misinformation.”

Just as bad, in the Times’ view, the briefings are popular.

The Times piece began with this lead sentence: “President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing.”

Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at The Washington Post, wrote that the press needs to “adjust accordingly” to the press briefings because, in her view, they are more like political rallies and might serve his political ends.

“Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit—a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president, bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] of the 21st century,” Sullivan wrote.

FDR didn’t use fireside chats for his political benefit?

This is basically just saying that the media need to stop covering the White House coronavirus briefings because they might help Trump.

All of this is coming from publications and an industry that formerly fretted over and lambasted the lack of regular White House press briefings before the coronavirus outbreak. Some even called them “an essential part of democracy.

Now that everyone is watching the White House briefings, the media aren’t so keen on the daily ritual allegedly sustaining the republic. What gives?

The New York Times and other outlets that accuse the White House of spreading misinformation seem to have had no problem publishing literal Chinese propaganda.

In the past week, countless outlets, including the very same New York Times, published stories saying that the total number of U.S. coronavirus cases has surpassed China’s, despite the fact that there’s no reason whatsoever to trust the information coming out of an authoritarian communist regime that has repeatedly lied to its own citizens and to the world, sparking the greatest global pandemic in the past century.

Remember, it wasn’t long ago that most major media outlets were publishing stories about how Trump’s move to shut off travel from China was misguided, in part based on recommendations from the World Health Organization.

The problem is, the WHO relied on information provided by China, which turned out to be not only wrong, but likely a product of willful misrepresentation.

It’s good for the media to have a healthy skepticism of those in power. That said, however, one would think that skepticism should be directed most strongly at those in positions of absolute power, as in the case of the Chinese communist government.

Despite this, many in the media still seem more consumed with attacking the Trump administration—even through foreign proxies—than simply getting to the truth.

The bottom line is that neither the reduction, nor the uptick, in White House press conferences signals the end of democracy. Americans are stuck at home en masse, and many more than usual want to hear from the president and the administration in a national crisis.

The administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been far from perfect, but the media have hardly performed without serious and embarrassing fumbles. Cutting off the president now, when so many Americans are tuning in, would be a travesty.

When one reporter asked Trump at Sunday’s coronavirus task force briefing about outlets discontinuing coverage of the daily events, the president gave a reasonable response.

“I think the American public, ultimately, they should be the decider. If they don’t want to watch, they should not watch,” Trump said. “When [the media] don’t want the president of the United States to have a voice, you are not talking about democracy any longer.”

It might be past time, especially amid an international calamity, to hope the media will make a self-correction and restore some of their lost credibility at this time.

Cutting off the president’s microphone hardly restores confidence in a collective institution that seems hopelessly partisan and one-sided.

Posted on

Republicans Stall Next Coronavirus Stimulus As Unemployment Claims Hit Record High

Republicans on Capitol Hill are putting the kibosh on Democrats’ desires to swiftly pass another stimulus aimed at combating the impact of the novel coronavirus that’s forced economic activity in the United States to grind to a halt.

This comes despite the pandemic causing a record 6.6 million Americans to file for unemployment benefits last week, on top of the previous week’s record 3.3 million.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate at this time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday of the push for a fourth relief measure. “We just passed three bills, the largest in history. We gotta make sure this is implemented correctly. We should have the data and knowledge to make sure we get [the next one] right.”

Rather than doling out additional federal funds in the wake of three stimulus packages—the most recent of which topped $2 trillion—Republicans want to first ensure that money already allocated is properly distributed. They said they also want to analyze which shortcomings to address before turning their attention to more spending.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has labeled the push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for an infrastructure-focused stimulus upwards of $750 billion as “premature.”

“There is the reality of how you pay for it,” the Kentucky Republican told The Washington Post. “We just passed a $2 trillion bill, and it would take a lot of convincing to convince me that we should do transportation in a way that’s not credibly paid for after what we just passed last week.”

“She needs to stand down,” McConnell continued, “on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), R-KY, stands next to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, during a signing ceremony for the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act on February 13, 2015, in the Rayburn Room of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The position of congressional Republicans is a departure from recent comments made by President Donald Trump, who endorsed the idea of a $2 trillion infrastructure stimulus to be dispersed over the coming decade. Democrats say their proposal is in the “ballpark” of the president’s, but would instead focus on the next five years.

“It’s time that we start spending on our roads and our bridges and our schools, and all of the things that we’re supposed to be spending on,” Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing.

McCarthy argued that the president was not suggesting Congress should be “writing it today” and would prefer to see how the economy reacts to the most recent legislation.

“Let’s give it a couple weeks before we have some rush to some other piece of legislation,” Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the top Republican on the Financial Services Committee, said Thursday. “Let’s see how this is implemented, how effective it is, how we combat the virus and how to get people back to work.”

Pelosi said they’ll also consider extending the beefed-up unemployment benefits of $600 per week that they’ve already provided for out-of-work Americans and to make rent relief “much stronger.”

“It’s frightening to people because there’s shelter-in-place and then they’re evicted,” she told reporters Thursday. “We certainly must do more.”

Republicans Stall Next coronavirus stimulus
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is interviewed by CNN about the government response to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 1 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Democrats are eyeing major digital infrastructure upgrades to broadband and 5G to improve America’s remote connectivity, on top of the traditional projects such as roads and bridges. Economists say that while the technological advances may not provide an immediate economic boost, they’re aimed at long-term investments that would help the country weather the next health crisis.

Pelosi is also advocating for billions more for vote-by-mail and election security efforts as the virus threatens to upend political contests as we know them. In addition, she wants to establish a bipartisan select committee to provide oversight of the $2 trillion stimulus package and to create a panel similar to that of the commission for the 9/11 terror attacks to probe how the Trump administration handled the onset of the virus. Trump has received ridicule for the government’s delayed response and inability to provide the needed test kids and medical supplies.

McCarthy batted down those ideas, pointing to oversight measures included in the massive bill and suggested she lacked faith in one of her fellow Democrats whose task it is to provide government supervision, Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

With or without Republicans and the White House jumping on board, Pelosi signaled that her chamber will take the initiative on a fourth stimulus—a move that could mean the legislation passes the House to die in the Senate.

“We’ll have our bill,” she said. “I’d hope we can do it together.”