trump clown in chief

Corona Virus Pandemic Thoughts

Corona Virus Pandemic Thoughts

Part One My thoughts on the Corona Virus Pandemic from South Korea.

Joe, Either Go Bold or Retire!


there is too much to cover so will probably try to update this once a week every Monday.  Enjoy:  I have turned this into three different postings, my observations and news clippings, right wing Christian nonsense and corona poems.

updated assessment on the USG response:

I have to revise my assessment.  I would give the government a B now and Trump a C. He is stepping up to the plate and a lot is going on. and the stimulus package if they can approve it and I am sure they will, will make a great difference.

but the President is still wasting everyone’s time.  His advisors need to shut him up.  Have him read his prepared statements then leave answering no questions. When he asked questions he veers off script and goes on unhelpful tangents.  He is still too insulting and off message.  And for God’s case he needs to stop calling it the China virus.  It is just a matter of time before some nut case is going to start shooting Asians.

finally the US should start providing assistance to foreign governments rather that shutting borders.  he should also ask for help from other governments and the WHO should ask for additional tests etc.

overall too little too late and he is still making it all about Trump.  He needs to shut up, quit tweeting and let the VP lead the task force. He should not even be in the room but if he feels he needs to be there, he should just read his statement and leave and answer no questions and god forbid do not tweet anything.

Update on stimulus package –

if it passes with robust unemployment insurance, food security assistance, student debt relief, two thousand dollars stimulus cash payments, bailouts of the hotel and airline, and cruise ship industry  and prohibitions against corporations using bail out money on stock buy backs and CEO bonuses, it will go a long way towards blunting the impact of the crisis.  I fear though we are not prepared for the coming months.  I hope it will calm down by June and with the help of the supercomputer resources pledged by MIT, google and others treatment and vaccines will be in place by the end of the summer and the crisis will be over early in the fall although experts believe it won’t be over for 18 months to 2 years but the shut down of the economy will end by June and the travel bans will be lifted by July.  The Olympics will be postponed until next year.   whoever is elected president will have to embrace medicare for all option as well as mandatory paid sick leave for all full time employees.

worst case scenario we are entering a world wide recession and by December we will be looking at 30% unemployment. and a revival of the civilian conservation corps and perhaps a draft as well.  End update


original posting follows:

During the last two months the corona pandemic has been overwhelming governments, societies and individuals and me as it rapidly spreads across the globe.  Here are my thoughts on the virus from my home in Youngjongdo, Korea, near the Incheon airport.  Following my thoughts I have added some key articles for you to read.  Then I post my corona poems.  But I am having some audacity issues so I will post my audio clips next  week along with perhaps a few more articles, and poems and update to my thoughts.

What governments need to do now

First, we realize that governments and societies around the world have failed miserably at handling the crisis as it unfolds.

Second, the pandemic has revealed that that the US health care system — and we need universal health care and we need paid sick leave now.  Whoever becomes President will have to enact these two policies.

Third,  governments around the world will have to spend a lot more money and policies on public health care.

Fourth, governments around the world will have to have a standing interagency public health task force that coordinates policies worldwide.

Fifth, WHO will have to have a lot more resources, governments and institutions will have share information around the world.

Sixth, the federal government must reallocate resources from the bloated military national security sector to the public health sector, including funding for medicare for all and paid family/sick leave for all.

Seventh, the federal government once this is over should hold a lesson learned exercise with all 50 states, major cities and major hospitals and universities taking part in the virtual national conference.  A federal commission should conduct this. They should share the results with the public, and with foreign governments and WHO.  The federal public health commission should become a standing body, with representatives from all the states, major hospitals and universities and pharmacies and labs and representatives from the military.  They should hold a mini-public health conference once a year to review policies to prepare for the next pandemic which will hit us.

The USG should call upon the world community under the auspices of WHO to convene a world-wide virtual conference to prepare for the next pandemic based on lessons learned from this pandemic and WHO should hold an annual pandemic response  virtual conference.

Eight,  both the DNC and RNC must postpone the remaining primaries until June and turned them into mail in elections. This should also apply to the national election.

Nine,  the DNC and RNC must turn the conventions into virtual conventions and that too should be the new normal.

Tenth, Universities and school districts across the country should move a significant number of classes online and that should also become the new normal.

the Democrats must ensure that the republicans don’t dismantle the rest of the federal budget to pay for expanded public health spending. And they must insist on some modest tax increases. But the democrats should consider some targeting reductions in less essential spending.

Public health screenings before traveling on planes, trains, long-distance buses and cruise ships must become the new normal.  Those denied boarding must be able to-book their travel with a minimum of expense and bureaucratic delays.  The basic principle must be that if you have a fever or a severe cough, you can’t travel. This also means that governments must grant automatic extensions of visas for those who can’t travel because of illness.

The USG should require foreigners to purchase Traveler’s medical insurance prior to travel to the U.S.

Drug companies, research labs and universities must share their research with the entire worldwide medical community, and WHO should set up a universal medical research data base so researchers can research the latest medical advances in real time.

The Olympics and major international sporting events should be postponed for one year.

the USG should consider the following emergency measures once the number of cases exceed 100,000 which it will with a week.

Total national shut down shelter in place for 30 days, re-newable at the end of the month and reviewed monthly

total shut down of the border, and US domestic travel except for essential travel defined as follows:

diplomatic travel

military travel

government travel related to the virus response

travel by medical worker

travel by private sector employee related to the virus response

travel by family members of military/diplomatics returning home

travel by non-essential employees and military/diplomatic family members returning home

travel by high level business delegations especially related to the virus response

travel by Americans coming returning overseas

other essential travel approved on a case by case basis

coupled with the travel ban, postponing all visa processing except as part of the exemptions listed above, and cancelling visa waiver travel except as part of the exceptions listed above, visa bans would remain in place as long as the travel ban remains in place 

Before this is put into place the USG must coordinate with all of its partners so we all get on the same wave length.

Finally the US should convene a world wide high level virtual conference of world leaders followed up by actions that are agreed to by all leaders

Update: and the stimulus package must be enacted now with a supplemental package if needed this summer.  Quit the politics now!

USG Response – updated from 2/10 or a Solid D to C

If I had to grade the US response, I would grade it as D so far up to now-given the President some credit for finally realizing in the last few days how it is indeed a real national emergency and taking steps that they should have taken back in January.

based on the presidents actions the last few days and the congressional finally putting politics aside I would upgrade the President’s response from a D to a C.  It will take some time for me to rate him as a B.  Hope he gets there.

Finally I am looking for the government to do the actions outlined above.

If we pull together and get the virus under control, we should be able to recover from this by September, if not, or we get a second waive before we get the vaccine under control we could be looking at another great depression which may take years to recover.

 if we head down that path the government must set up an updated civilian conservation corps to put people to work.   And we may need to re-impose the draft but if we do that we should couple it with a massive GI bill afterwards paying for college and training in return for national service.  The national service requirement would also mean that people will be drafted to work in the health care system and industry as well as in the military.

we will know if we need to do this by June and if so we must set it up so it goes into effect by September.

Quit Calling It the China Virus

the one thing I am still upset about if Trump calling this the China flu.  he needs to stop that sh,,,  right now before unhinged nut cases with guns start shooting Asians because somehow they thought that Trump was either calling them to do so or condoning it.  he needs to address this now and say that asians are not virus carriers and he will condemn any and all racist attacks on Asian owned businesses.  He should also make it clear that we will not under any circumstances repeat the internment policies of world war 11.  to top it off he should start ordering  Chinese food for the white house staffers and the pandemic support team.

Apologize for having gotten it wrong and responding too late use the dread words I take responsibility!!!!!

Final point I would call upon both Trump and Pence to take responsibility for their inept initial responses and promise to retire by the end of their term. 

For Biden Keep your comments positive there will be time to cast blame later

For Biden I would call upon him to talk about what he would do if President but not criticize the President or his team instead he should congratulate them on their finally getting it together and offer concrete positive suggestions for moving forward.  Now it not the time for political gamesmanship on either parties.

The one thing that I feared would happen has not yet happen.  Gun nuts shooting up Asians.  Hopefully that will not become a thing.


the most important thing the president can do now is to read his prepared statement then walk away and not take questions.  We don’t need to hear his extended boasting that he is a billionaire etc etc nor do we need to hear his inept answering of questions or his overly optimistic assessments etc.  Let the task force speak and please no tweets!!!!!!  I am going to send a link to my blog to Trump and to Biden and will let you know if anyone responses or if I am sued or arrested because I pissed off the President.  I truly want the President to rise to the occasion and be the leader we need in these dark times and I hope if he is reading this that he understand that.

end comment

South Korean response Solid B

If I had to grade South Korea where I am currently lying low a grade I would give them a B – they have done something very well — mass testing, developing drive through and now walk through testing, public health tracing of infected people.   They have failed in mask distribution, should have banned exports of masks right away, and their overly bureaucratic mask distribution policy requiring people to line up and get two masks per person based on the birthday is a disaster.    And they like all governments around the world are not prepared for the massive unemployment that will soon hit the country.  But on balance, we are probably better off here than in.

the one thing I would caution them is to assume that the crisis is over and return to business as usual. As long as there are cases spreading the government must be vigilant.  It would not take much for a second wave to occur.  By May or June perhaps the crisis will be over.

afterwards institutionalize health checks at the airport and refuse boarding to anyone who has a fever or put in quarantine if they are coming from abroad.

make the government corona task force a standing body that would meet weekly to coordinate public health measures and prepare for the next epidemic which will happen sooner or later. Korea has built up an impressive response to the pandemic. They need to keep it ready for future crises.  And Korea needs to work with other governments in developing tests, medicine, vaccine and data collection techniques.

What governments need to do now

First, we realize that governments and societies around the world have failed miserably at handling the crisis as it unfolds.

Second, the pandemic has revealed that that the US health care system — and we need universal health care and we need paid sick leave now.  Whoever becomes President will have to enact these two policies.

Third,  governments around the world will have to spend a lot more money and policies on public health care.

Fourth, governments around the world will have to have a standing interagency public health task force that coordinates policies worldwide.

Fifth, WHO will have to have a lot more resources, governments and institutions will have share information around the world.

Sixth, the federal government must reallocate resources from the bloated military national security sector to the public health sector, including funding for medicare for all and paid family/sick leave for all.

Seventh, the federal government once this is over should hold a lesson learned exercise with all 50 states, major cities and major hospitals and universities taking part in the virtual national conference.  A federal commission should conduct this. They should share the results with the public, and with foreign governments and WHO.  The federal public health commission should become a standing body, with representatives from all the states, major hospitals and universities and pharmacies and labs and representatives from the military.  They should hold a mini-public health conference once a year to review policies to prepare for the next pandemic which will hit us.

The USG should call upon the world community under the auspices of WHO to convene a world-wide virtual conference to prepare for the next pandemic based on lessons learned from this pandemic and WHO should hold an annual pandemic response  virtual conference.

Eight,  both the DNC and RNC must postpone the remaining primaries until June and turned them into mail in elections. This should also apply to the national election.

Nine,  the DNC and RNC must turn the conventions into virtual conventions and that too should be the new normal.

Tenth, Universities and school districts across the country should move a significant number of classes online and that should also become the new normal.

  1. the Democrats must ensure that the republicans don’t dismantle the rest of the federal budget to pay for expanded public health spending. And they must insist on some modest tax increases. But the democrats should consider some targeting reductions in less essential spending.
  2. Public health screenings before traveling on planes, trains, long-distance buses and cruise ships must become the new normal.  Those denied boarding must be able to-book their travel with a minimum of expense and bureaucratic delays. The basic principle must be that if you have a fever or a severe cough, you can’t travel. This also means that governments must grant automatic extensions of visas for those who can’t travel because of illness.
  3. The USG should require foreigners to purchase Traveler’s medical insurance prior to travel to the U.S.
  4. Drug companies, research labs and universities must share their research with the entire worldwide medical community, and WHO should set up a universal medical research data base so researchers can research the latest medical advances in real time.
  5. The Olympics and major internationl sporting events should be postponed for one year.

read this one!

What symptoms are most common, which groups are most at risk, and more.


The outbreak of Covid-19, a coronavirus-caused illness that originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread to most of the world, is one of the most serious public health crises in decades. It has spread far wider than Ebola did in 2014, and the World Health Organization has designated it a pandemic.

As of March 11, there have been more than 125,000 reported cases, more than 4,600 deaths worldwide, and more than 1,200 reported cases and 29 deaths in the US, according to Johns Hopkins’s tracker; its count is usually up to date and worth bookmarking as the crisis progresses.

The situation on the ground is evolving incredibly quickly, and it’s impossible to synthesize everything we know into clean, intelligible charts. But we do know a fair bit about how bad the outbreak is, what the disease does, and what controlling and ultimately ending the outbreak will look like.

With that in mind, here are nine charts that help explain the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

1) The virus is spreading rapidly

As of this writing, the Covid-19 caseload is rising rapidly day to day, but here’s where things stood as of March 8. The vast majority of reported cases are still in China, where the outbreak began, but whereas the number of new Chinese cases is falling, the number of new international cases is rising, indicating that the epicenter of the problem is shifting from China to new places like Italy.

Note that the huge spike in new cases was due to improved data reporting from China; there was not one particularly bad day in the middle of February.

2) Know the symptoms

The symptoms of Covid-19 vary from case to case, but the most common ones in China, from February data, are fever and dry cough (which are each seen in a majority of cases), fatigue, and sputum (the technical term for thick mucus coughed up from the respiratory tract).

If you have a fever and dry cough, that could be a good reason to get yourself tested if possible.

Note: if possible is the caveat. We don’t have enough tests still end , China has offered test kits, WHO, and South Korea but so far the Trump administration has refused all such offers perhaps because he does not want to appear that we are now a third world country in need of assistance. End note

3) Death rates in China have declined over time

One glimmer of hope in this story is that Chinese medical authorities appeared to get better at treating infections and preventing death as the outbreak proceeded. “Even the first and hardest-hit province, Hubei, saw its death rate tumble as public health measures were strengthened and clinicians got better at identifying and treating people with the disease,” Vox’s Julia Belluz explains.

The rate didn’t go down on its own; China took drastic, even authoritarian measures to lock down affected areas and contain the virus’s spread so that the medical system was not overwhelmed.

4) Older people in China have been at the greatest risk of dying from Covid-19

The Spanish flu of 1918-’19, the most horrific pandemic in modern times, focused mainly on the young. It had biological similarities to a flu pandemic in the 1830s that gave some older people in the 1910s limited immunity.

Covid-19 is not like that. So far, deaths in China have been concentrated among older adults, who have weaker immune systems on average than younger people and have a higher rate of chronic illness. People of all ages with chronic medical conditions are also at higher risk. The risk of death is real for younger people as well, but older people have the most reason to take care.

5) This is much more severe than an ordinary flu

It is tempting to compare Covid-19 to a more familiar disease: the seasonal flu. After all, the flu also has mild symptoms for most people, and can be dangerous and lethal among vulnerable populations like the elderly. President Trump even made this comparison recently.

But as the case fatality data shows, there’s no real comparison. About 6 percent of people 60 or older infected with Covid-19 die, according to data we have so far; that’s over six times the fatality rate for elderly people infected with the flu. The overall case fatality rate is at least 23 times greater (the fatality rate has risen since this chart was made).

6) Experts also think Covid-19 is more contagious than the ordinary flu

There’s another way that Covid-19 is a tougher adversary than the seasonal flu: Its R0 (“R nought”) is over 2, indicating that it’s more contagious than the typical flu. R0 estimates the number of people an average infected person spreads the disease to. “R0 is important because if it’s greater than 1, the infection will probably keep spreading, and if it’s less than 1, the outbreak will likely peter out,” the Atlantic’s Ed Yong explains. Covid-19’s R0 is substantially higher than 1, giving more reason for concern.

7) Spending on airlines, hotels, and cruises is collapsing

Warnings to avoid crowds, and cancellations of major gatherings like conferences and parades, have put a damper on travel in the US, and the consequences for airlines have been dire. According to Earnest Research, spending on airlines fell 16.5 percent in the last week of February relative to a year prior. Cruises have seen a similar dip, while hotels are only now starting to see sales mildly decline.

It’s unlikely that the economic impact will stay limited to the hospitality industry, as social distancing leads people to avoid coffee shops, restaurants, gyms, bars, etc.

For more, see Rani Molla’s write-up for Recode.

8) The US is not testing enough people

The Trump administration’s slow rollout of testing for coronavirus has become something of a national scandal, and it’s easy to see why when you compare the US testing rate to that of other affected countries. South Korea stands out for its rapid rollout of extensive testing, including through innovative drive-through testing programs.

Drive-through testing is being piloted in some parts of the US, like New Hampshire, but we still have a long way to go before we match South Korean and Chinese testing levels.

Comment: the USG refused the offer of testing Kits from WHO, Alibaba and others because they did not want the world to think that the US was like a third world country that needed foreign aid.  End Comment

9) Why canceling events and self-quarantining is so important

Covid-19 has quickly made large-scale gatherings and conferences unpopular if not socially frowned upon. This change arrived quickly, and may seem jarring, but it’s easier to see the logic when you understand the theory behind this kind of “social distancing” policy. The key is to “flatten the curve”: slowing the rate of increase in infections so that you spread out the cases, even if the total number doesn’t change. Flattening the curve slows the rate at which new cases arrive in hospitals, easing the burden on health care infrastructure and improving the odds that individual patients will survive.

comment:  the cancellation of large events could spread and become the new normal for the next year or so  in any events the Olympics have to be cancelled unless things change dramatically in the next few weeks. i.e. zero new cases in Japan or elsewhere by the end of May which is the drop dead deadline to cancel or postpone.  the IOC has the power to postpone for a year through a simple change to the rules that otherwise state that the game must be held within that calendar year.  End Comment

Part two some interesting articles – had a difficult choice to make – way too many to post.

Did Trump’s inaction make the coronavirus outbreak worse?

Cartoon Trump: ‘The markets are supposed to jump up and down! That means they’re excited!’Published 20 mins ago on March 15, 2020By Sarah K. Burris

President Donald Trump’s cartoon avatar appeared in the fake press briefing room Sunday evening to explain that everything was fine, and people shouldn’t panic over the coronavirus.

With sweat dripping off of his orange face, cartoon Trump was excited about the disaster, saying it meant he could work from home in his pajamas.

“What an exciting time to be barely alive!” he exclaimed from the podium.

When cartoon Vice President Mike Pence took to the podium, he explained that in troubling times he turns to the Bible. Trump then interrupted because he was bored.

“What can the American people do to stay safe?” a reporter asked.

Donald Trump look worse:


If there’s one thing that has been revealed by the coronavirus crisis is that President


Donald Trump had never been tested and wasn’t prepared for it. Vice President Mike Pence, however, is earning praise for remaining calm, reassuring Americans and not screwing anything up. The bigotry of low expectations, combined with Trump’s failed leadership made it clear the president wasn’t prepared for a crisis.


An Axios piece highlighted the praise for Pence’s keen ability not to destroy the country and keep the stock market from falling when he speaks.

Trump’s coronavirus response fracturing his MAGA base, creating a potential electoral disaster


Kerry Eleveld

Daily Kos Staff

Tuesday March 17, 2020 · 2:54 AM Korean Standard Time


In some cases, Donald Trump’s base reportedly trusts him exclusively to handle the coronavirus crisis gripping the nation.

But in other cases, fissures appear to be developing among some of Trump’s most fervent acolytes that could doom him electorally in November.

Politico reports that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson dared to tell his loyal following last week that Trump officials were trivializing “what is clearly a very serious problem.” Meanwhile, Sean Hannity framed the outcry among Democratic officials as “fear-mongering by the deep state.”

The mixed messages from Trump loyalists have played out across the board, from media figures to religious leaders to GOP lawmakers themselves. Even as Trump downplayed the coronavirus for weeks to the point of encouraging people to go to work with it, some of his most fervent defenders on Capitol Hill decided to self-quarantine and get tested, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Trump’s newly tapped chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Seth Mandel, editor-in-chief of the right-leaning Washington Examiner magazine, noted that conservatives have gone from electoral euphoria to dread in the span of about two weeks as they watched the prospect of a Trump reelection bid against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders turn to dust and horrifying coronavirus news out of Italy start migrating to U.S. headlines.

Mandel also lamented how Trump had initially responded to a crisis uniquely suited to a nationalistic framework—i.e., fear of outsiders, particularly China and its economic dominance. “When the president had a crisis that hit that would have, theoretically, been designed perfectly for the nationalist argument, he didn’t reach for it. So maybe he doesn’t really believe it,” he told Politico.

But bottom line, the mixed messages and splintering among his base are problems Trump simply can’t afford, given his razor-thin margin for error in November.

Trump Transition Team Was Uninterested In Obama Planning To Battle the ‘Worst Epidemic Since 1918’

During the transition,  Trump cabinet officials and other aides were given a three hour brief and a hypothetical exercise in responding to a global epidemic.

Detailed briefing books were prepared by Obama administration officials for scenarios like this and others.  They were later found in the trash.

As Politico reports, incoming Trump administration officials gave Obama officials a big “meh.”  Consequently,  coupled with the tremendous turnover during the tumultuous Trump’s presidency, the U.S. was unprepared, by choice, to to meet the challenge of this very real global epidemic that has beleaguered America.

In a tabletop exercise days before an untested new president took power, officials briefed the incoming administration on a scenario remarkably like the one he faces now.

The briefing was intended to hammer home a new, terrifying reality facing the Trump administration, and the incoming president’s responsibility to protect Americans amid a crisis. But unlike the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the globe, this 2017 crisis didn’t really happen — it was among a handful of scenarios presented to Trump’s top aides as part of a legally required transition exercise with members of the outgoing administration of Barack Obama.

POLITICO obtained documents from the meeting and spoke with more than a dozen attendees to help provide the most detailed reconstruction of the closed-door session yet. It was perhaps the most concrete and visible transition exercise that dealt with the possibility of pandemics, and top officials from both sides — whether they wanted to be there or not — were forced to confront a whole-of-government response to a crisis. The Trump team was told it could face specific challenges, such as shortages of ventilators, anti-viral drugs and other medical essentials, and that having a coordinated, unified national response was “paramount” — warnings that seem eerily prescient given the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Susan Rice had this to say about this January 2017 meeting and the reasons we now find ourselves facing likely mass infection in the U.S.

“Rather than heed the warnings, embrace the planning and preserve the structures and budgets that had been bequeathed to him, the president ignored the risk of a pandemic,” Rice wrote. (Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, who oversaw the dissolution of the NSC’s global health security and biodefense section, has defended it as necessary streamlining, countering that global health “remained a top NSC priority.” Trump, when recently asked about the reshuffling, called the question “nasty” and said, “I don’t know anything about it.”)

The story is another example of the unforced errors and nonchalance that led to threats we now face.  Probably ‘because Obama.’  This event precedes Trump’s disbanding of the Pandemic Response Unit at the NSC.

Thanks to the arrogant attitudes and inaction, the dangerous clown show Trump and his aides have made of their (oh, the irony) ‘pandemic response’ has put us all in danger.…


Share stories like this far and wide.  Perhaps some of Trump’s ardent followers will finally admit The Emperor Has No Clothes.

Another truth to share is Trump disbanding the Pandemic Response Unit of the NSC.  He admitted it twice, now denying he knew nothing about it.  Of course.

The article the diary was drawn from is linked here, along with other links about his calling for cuts at the CDC:

Trump Struggles To Explain Why He Disbanded Pandemic Response Unit

Trump Struggles to Explain Why He Disbanded The U.S. Pandemic Response Unit

Eck.  One more turd to plop in the festering stew of Trump’s incompetence, evidencing how careless, unprepared, and unworthy Trump is to be POTUS.

NBC News had a good report on this recently, noting that the president’s decision “to downsize the White House national security staff — and eliminate jobs addressing global pandemics — is likely to hamper the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus.”

The truth is probably “because Obama,” who with VP Biden established the permanent Pandemic Response Unit within the National Security Council, able to rapidly respond in the U.S. to epidemics and work in concert with governments around the world to curb the spread of deadly diseases.   Ebola and SARS outbreaks made it apparent we needed to be prepared for viral contagion that would more than likely arrive on our shores in the future.

The future arrived.

Before we dig into Trump dismantling the Pandemic Reponse Unit, let’s first recall that Trump has previously tried to slash funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), America’s preeminent authority on disease and pandemics.  Unbelievably, he just proposed 16% in cuts to the CDC’s 2021 budget at the same time COVID-19 coronavirus arrived in the U.S.!

When first questioned about why he disbanded the Pandemic Response Unit in 2018 — the same year Trump and Republicans had no problem giving a trillion dollar tax cut to people who didn’t need it—  he responded:

“I’m a business person,” he explained two weeks ago in response to a similar question. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When we need them, we can get them back very quickly.”

Except you can’t reassemble a team like that ‘very quickly.’  One more check mark in the long column of items on the “Trump is clueless about …’ list.  This one glaringly evidencing how utterly devoid he is in understanding, concern, or interest in how the executive branch should work.

Not to mention his absolute disregard as president in fulfilling his duty to protect American lives behind the scenes when the cameras aren’t rolling.  When they are, he pompously pretends to have it all under control.  His ego-driven dysfunction has put the health of all Americans in jeopardy.

We don’t yet know the extent of contagion because we haven’t had enough tests to go around.  And the Trump administration wouldn’t allow independent testing.

As the threat to the U.S. grew, late last week he spewed a word salad of a differentexcuse when pressed again by a reporter about his 2018 decision to disband the pandemic response team we sure could have used right about now:

“I just think this is something, Peter, that you can never really think is going to happen. You know, who — I’ve heard all about, ‘This could be…’ — you know, ‘This could be a big deal,’ from before it happened. You know, this — something like this could happen…. Who would have thought? Look, how long ago is it? Six, seven, eight weeks ago — who would have thought we would even be having the subject? … You never really know when something like this is going to strike and what it’s going to be.”

So, let’s get this straight: he disbanded the NSC Pandemic Response Unit because he never realized America might need it one day (and “de-Obamacizing, no doubt).

Hm.  Does having a military ‘just in case’ there’s an attack on the U.S., or the presidential bunker he can retreat to ‘just in case’ ring a bell?  Or why we have fire departments ‘just in case’ there’s a fire?  Helllllllo?

It’s clear the concept of ‘insurance’ is foreign to him.

We need to get rid of this clueless, narcissistic moron in November and replace him with someone who’s dedicated to the welfare of the American people instead of dedication to his self interests and daily displays of pomposity.

There is so much at stake in November.

I’m Voting Blue No Matter Who.

The Bay Area, long one of the world’s mightiest growth engines, could be headed for a coronavirus-induced recession, as shelter in place orders shutter stores and bars, construction grinds to a halt, and the tourism and hospitality industry all but disappears.

This week, UCLA Anderson Forecast issued its first revision to its quarterly report in its 68-year history. Despite a strong start to the year, it’s now predicting two quarters of negative economic growth nationally — enough to be considered a recession — and for the economy to take until 2022 to be fully recovered. California, according to the forecast, will be harder hit, with a projected 280,000 jobs lost in the state. And that’s not even accounting for the shelter in place order imposed on Monday throughout the Bay Area.

“We’re in uncharted territory as to the economic effects of the measures being taken to control the spread of this pathogen in the Bay Area,” said Jerry Nickelsburg, director of UCLA Anderson Forecast.

The forecast predicts unemployment in the state will reach 6.2 percent by the end of the year and average 6.6 percent during 2021. The January statewide unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, according to the California Employment Development Department. Personal income, adjusted for inflation, is expected to stay basically flat until 2022.

Not everyone is convinced about the worst-case outcome for the region, though.

“This is business delayed, not business canceled,” said Chris Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics. “At least not yet.”

UCLA Anderson projects California will be hard hit because it has a large presence of the industries likely to be most affected by coronavirus, Nickelsburg said. That includes hospitality, tourism, leisure — bars, restaurants and entertainment — and warehousing and transportation.

There are about 165,000 warehouse and transportation workers in the San Jose and San Francisco metro areas alone, which covers the five-county Bay Area plus San Benito County, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Another 313,000 work in leisure industries including arts, accommodation and food services. About a third of the job losses projected in the state by the UCLA Anderson Forecast will come from those industries.

Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget & Policy Center, is particularly worried about those workers because they tend to be lower paid. Other vulnerable populations she’s watching for are those who are at risk of being homeless — for example people couch-surfing with friends — and undocumented residents who can’t access all the same public benefits.

“My fear is that those folks will then become economically unstable for a much longer period of time, they’ll be less able to recover quickly,” Hoene said. “We could see an increase in the state’s already high levels of homelessness. We could see an increase in the poverty level.”

If those workers aren’t able to recover quickly it could make it harder for the whole region to recover, she said.

Ted Egan, chief economist at the San Francisco Office of the Controller, said some Bay Area businesses are also being affected by the potentially long-lasting damage the outbreak has done to the global supply chain.

“I think that there’s some types of business — you think about takeout and delivery services — that people will turn to when they can’t turn to their retails in person,” Egan said, which could include tech companies that do deliveries like DoorDash or online shopping like Amazon.

But in a recession where the financial system is in trouble and consumers are suffering, not even those businesses will be safe.

The Bay Area’s construction industry also is affected, with all but a few essential jobs at hospitals and public transit being postponed, said Daniel Romero, assistant business manager for electrical workers union in Santa Clara County.

“One guy called me, he was almost in tears yesterday,” Romero said. “He barely got back to work and the job was shut down.”

It’s hard to know if all building has stopped — housing construction is considered an essential service that will be allowed to continue — but Romero said he’s directing his members to file for unemployment if their job is shut down or to access the union’s disability benefits if they test positive for COVID-19. In the meantime, the union has closed its apprenticeship program and is down to a skeleton crew.

“The unknowing I think is the hardest part,” he said. “We’re complying, so we’re just doing the best we can.”

For those hoping that at least a recession might bring down the region’s sky-high home prices, research suggests that might not happen, according to a Zillow analysis of past outbreaks. During the SARS epidemic, Hong Kong’s home prices stayed basically the same but the number of home sales declined by as much as three quarters.

Although most forecasters are predicting short-term economic declines, not everyone thinks the region is headed toward a recession.

“Everybody take a deep breath,” said Thornberg, of Beacon Economics.”Shutting everything down right now is a way of preventing a problem, not causing a problem.”

He compared the outbreak to natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes, which cause temporary disruptions but aren’t a sufficiently long-term shock to tip the economy into a recession. He said it’s possible we’ll have one quarter of negative economic growth, but that’s it.

But all forecasters and experts agree on one thing: The economic damage done by the pandemic will be determined by how long it lasts and how quickly it is brought under control. In announcing its revision predicting a recession, UCLA Anderson Forecast included an important caveat.

“If the pandemic is much worse than assumed, this forecast will be too optimistic,” it said.

Welcome to The Hill’s daily roundup of coronavirus news.

covid 19 spread
covid 19 spread

There are 5,894 known cases in the U.S., including 97 deaths, according to


Johns Hopkins University.

The Trump administration wants to send checks to every American in an effort to try to blunt the worst of the economic impact from the coronavirus outbreak — but that might run into problems with Senate Republicans, who are frustrated that they were largely left out of the negotiations on the most recent House-passed bill.

Meanwhile, frontline health workers are running out of protective supplies, and states say they are not getting the help they need from the federal government. The Pentagon says it’s willing to help, but it will only be a temporary solution.

Here’s what you need to know today…

From the White House and Capitol Hill: 

From the frontlines:  

  • Nurses and doctors say they don’t have enough gear to protect themselves from the coronavirus. States have asked the federal government for more supplies but have only received a fraction of their requests. Shortages could endanger health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic and weaken the public health response. Read more from Jessie Hellmann here.
  • President Trumpis sure to hear more on that issue from nurses when he meets with them Wednesday. Representatives from about a dozen nursing organizations are expected to attend, along with members of the White House’s coronavirus task force, The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports.
  • The Pentagon will give 5 million respirator masks to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) but that makes up a small amount of the masks that U.S. is expected to need during the pandemic. There are currently 10.5 million respirators in the National Strategic Stockpile, but the HHS secretary says the U.S. needs at least 100 million. Ellen Mitchell has the full story here.

From the cities and states: 

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasiosaid he is considering issuing a “shelter in place” order for all city residents. Six San Francisco-area counties issued a similar order Monday. De Blasio’s move comes as the city tops 800 coronavirus cases. Read more from Marty Johnson here.
  • The presidential primary will continue as scheduled Tuesday in Arizona, Florida and Illinois, as state officials say they’ve taken the necessary precautions to ensure that voters can safely cast ballots. Officials though are expecting light turnout. One state where it won’t happen? Ohio. Get the rest of the story from Jonathan Easley.
  • And as for the state to come, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is asking them to not postpone primaries, but instead to make voting safer. More from Jon on the DNC.

From Wall Street: 

  • Stock markets rebounded Tuesday after one of their worst drops in history a day earlier, as President Trump and Congress and Congress advanced economic stimulus plans and the Federal Reserve took actions to shore up the financial system in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The Hill’s Niv Elis has the full story here.

From beyond the U.S.: 

  • The European Union agreed to close external borders to most travelers for at least 30 days to ward off the advancement of the coronavirus. Britain is not participating in the travel ban. Read more from Kaelan Deese.

President Donald Trump offered assurances that the worst of the coronavirus might be over by the end of this month.

The president spoke Tuesday morning from the White House on the COVID-19 outbreak, which has resulted in mass closures of schools, churches, stores and businesses — and he broke with many doctors and scientists to claim the situation might be relatively short.

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“Our guidance yesterday urges Americans to take action for 15 days to help stem the outbreak,” Trump said. “So it is a 15-day period. They would say it is a 14-day period. We are asking everyone to work at home if possible, postpone unnecessary travel, limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people. I am making shared sacrifices and temporary changes. We can protect the health of our people, and our economy, because I think our economy will come back very rapidly. So it is 15 days.”

Trump again assured the public the viral outbreak would dissipate, and possibly soon.

“It’s going to pop,” he said. “One day, we’ll be standing, possibly, up here, we’ll say, ‘Well, we won,’ and we’re going to say that. Sure as you’re sitting there, we’re going to say that, and we’re going to win, and I think we’re going to win faster than people think. I hope.”

From licking floors to praying for an inept government: America’s churches react to the coronavirus


By Daniel Schultz, Religion Dispatches @ Raw Story – Commentary

It’s particularly important for churches that continue to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic to follow the guidelines laid out by health experts given that worship services are among the largest regular gatherings in modern society, among the most physically intimate, and likely include the greatest number of vulnerable people. Even single members of large congregations can have a dramatic effect on how coronavirus spreads or doesn’t, as South Korea found out the hard way.

While many aren’t meeting at all or are streaming services, some churches that do meet feel like they need to support those who need it, in worship or otherwise. My mother’s congregation in Madison, Wisconsin elected to close for a week or two, but also voted to continue to allow Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs to continue to meet in their building, at those groups’ discretion.

[The Rev. Graylan Hagler] preached a fiery sermon for the small congregation, denouncing the Trump administration for spending money on a border wall while cutting public health teams that might have otherwise been ready to respond to the pandemic.

“Yes, we will come through the coronavirus! Yes, we will come through the city quarantines,” he avowed. “Yes, we will come through an inept government that can’t handle a real crisis. Yes, we will come through an election season, in victory, I pray … Yes, we will come through all our troubles in hope.”

Other Christians seem less pro-social, let us say. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, a Tampa Bay televangelist, equated changing habits in an effort to “flatten the course” with weakness, declaring that his congregation wouldn’t adjust their behavior in worship because they weren’t “pansies.”

Right Wing Watch


Right-wing pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is not about to cancel church or prevent congregants from shaking hands because they are not a bunch of “pansies.”

Others are willing to go some lengths to show they just don’t believe in this whole coronavirus thing:

In Arkansas, the Rev. Josh King met with the pastors of five other churches on Thursday to decide whether to continue holding service. Their religious beliefs told them that meeting in person to worship each Sunday remained an essential part of their faith, and some of their members signed on to Trump’s claims that the media and Democrats were over-blowing the danger posed by the virus.

“One pastor said half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus,” said King, lead pastor at Second Baptist church in Conway, Ark.

“In your more politically conservative regions, closing is not interpreted as caring for you. It’s interpreted as liberalism, or buying into the hype,” said King, whose church draws about 1,100 worshipers on a typical Sunday.

I’m not sure what’s daffier or more offensive: the notion that God’s supposed demand for adherence to rigid gender roles outweighs protecting vulnerable members of the community, or the idea that coronavirus is just a conspiracy theory cooked up by liberals—never mind the insanity that it’s Christians’ duty to protect a president from political attacks. (On a separate note, floors aren’t particularly known to be COVID-19 transmission agents. They might get plenty of other nasty bugs that way, though.)

Like the Trump administration’s bumbling efforts, these local responses to the current situation relate back to conceptions of truth on some level. On the one hand, while there’s a recognition of the coronavirus’ power, there’s a sense that it’s more important to preach a message of comfort or a word of judgment against the White House.

On the other hand, there’s a denial of the reality, and a desire to demonstrate a counter-power in butch demonstrations of faith in God, or the inscrutable gnosticism of believing it to be nothing more than a liberal plot against God and country—and God and country’s designated representative, Donald Trump.

Religious types aren’t the only offenders, either. Twitter was on fire over the weekend with sightings of young folks partying it up, apparently either in the belief that COVID-19 wouldn’t affect them, or in simple defiance of health experts:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


  • Mar 15, 2020

To everyone in NYC but ESPECIALLY healthy people & people under 40 (bc from what I’m observing that’s who needs to hear this again):

PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now. Eat your meals at home.

If you are healthy, you could be spreading COVID.

Katie Williams


I just went to a crowded Red Robin and I’m 30.

t was delicious, and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I’ll do what I want.

Killing Grandma to own the libs is a heck of a political stance, to be sure.

Continuing to participate in massive boozefests seems ill-advised at best, downright irresponsible at worst. So does prompting a large congregation essentially to flip public health measures the bird.

Yet I want to hold back at least a bit of judgment. For one thing, the nation has hardly been getting clear signals from the top on how to respond to coronavirus. Sure, there are all kinds of reminders about what to do; but then there’s a president who mutes or undermines every single message his own administration puts out.

very abnormal three years. The craving for some kind of ordinary life is readily apparent across all kinds of social boundaries. However unfortunate their methods, people will fight to maintain homeostasis. My own family went out for dinner on Friday night, and were pleased to do so knowing that in particular service workers will need the money in coming weeks. Tomorrow our son will go to school for one last day, and I’ll keep a coffee date. Life goes on, one way or another.

At the same time, it seems spectacularly incompatible with the declared teachings of most religions to act so recklessly when so many lives are in the balance. So I’d like to propose a variation on Pascal’s famous wager: if you act as though COVID-19 were a real menace and you turn out to be wrong, you’ve lost nothing more than a few handshakes in church. But, if you blow the threat off and it turns out to be much more dangerous than you thought, you’re potentially responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Pascal’s countryman (and NBA star) Rudy Gobert learned this the hard way.

Wouldn’t it be better in the eyes of your fellow citizens and whatever power you believe in to have erred on the side of caution? Or, you know, sure, don’t be a pansy. Go ahead and put the vulnerable at risk to make America great again. Super idea. And to my fellow Christians: St. Peter will no doubt be a big fan of that one at the Pearly Gates.

Why the coronavirus could be the tipping point in reshaping the global economy 1 hour ago on March 18, 2020By Marshall Auerback, Independent Media Institute

The coronavirus has now gone global, and economies are in freefall. The pandemic is clearly the precipitating cause of today’s crisis, but there’s an underlying disease that has been with us for a long time: neoliberal economics. Globalized travel and trade, multinational supply lines, offshoring and overly financialized economies that have prioritized banking interests, cartels and oligarchy above all else have made a large portion of our population highly vulnerable to the effects unleashed by this pandemic.

Policymakers have a tricky task ahead of them. The virus has created a supply shock, as businesses have shut down and workers have been told to stay at home. In response, demand is plunging as a result of the lost income and the corresponding collapse in sales. That’s highly deflationary (as the bond markets are now signaling). What is required is a robust fiscal response so that workers’ incomes are protected and have adequate financial resources to get health care.

Coronavirus is panicking Wall Street — but it’s got investors in Donald Trump’s second biggest creditor terrifiedPublished 8 hours ago on March 17, 2020By David Cay Johnston, DC Report @ Raw Story

Shares of the little, and little known, Ladder Capital (LADR) closed Monday at $8.32 a share, down from $18 less than three weeks ago.

Dow Jones Industrial average. Shares of Trump’s biggest creditor, the large Deutsche Bank, are down 43% in the same period.

— but now it’s an ’emergency’Published 12 hours ago on March 17, 2020By Amanda Marcotte, Salon

For weeks, Donald Trump clearly believed he could lie the coronavirus away. As David Leonhardt of the New York Times carefully chronicled, starting on Jan. 22, Trump began a campaign of falsehoods geared towards tricking Americans — and especially the stock market — into thinking everything was going to be fine, this epidemic was “very well under control,” that “like a miracle” the virus “will disappear” and that anyone who suggested otherwise was participating in a “hoax.” Fox News and other right-wing media, in the endless infinity symbol of conservative lies, both led and followed Trump on this, blanketing red-state America with a steady drumbeat of assertions that the “liberal media” was exaggerating the crisis to hurt Trump.


The country has around 125 confirmed cases, and it’s a bit of a puzzle how the world’s second-most-populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, has seemingly remained unscathed so far.
There could be many more cases in India than have been detected, because of the difficulties of getting tested. But it’s also possible that the country has actually managed to so far escape the worst — either because of quick and strict efforts right from the start, or another mix of factors.
The relative calm has fueled disbelief in some quarters that the virus is even a threat. Over the weekend in Lucknow, one of India’s bigger cities, young people packed into pubs. “I am not scared. I eat, party, sleep,” said Akshay Gupta, an accountant who was bar hopping on Saturday night. “The scare is overhyped.”
■ The European Union has adopted a 30-day ban on non-essential travel to European countries from the rest of the world, starting a stretch of isolation like nothing in modern history outside wartime.
■ After suffering their worst day in decades, stocks bounced back: The S&P 500 rose about 6 percent as Washington policymakers talked up plans to try to cushion the economy.

Coronavirus shut down Sin City, creating a potentially devastating situation for Las Vegas

A couple walks along the nearly empty Las Vegas Strip on Thursday. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)


Robert Klemko

March 22, 2020 at 9:19 a.m. GMT+9

LAS VEGAS — Don Gummerson and Josh “Pepper” Clarke left The Flamingo and sauntered alone down the sidewalk of the Strip, past locked casino doors and outdoor daiquiri machines shrouded in black trash bags, to the only restaurant serving food for a half mile in either direction: McDonald’s. The oil workers from Manitoba were in town for a wedding: Gummerson married Clarke’s stepmother at 11 a.m. Wednesday, the last nuptials at the tropical casino for the foreseeable future, a day after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced a shutdown of all casinos, hotels and “nonessential” businesses in response to the rapidly moving coronavirus pandemic.

As Clarke slung a $7 bottle of Wycliff champagne from his hip to his stubbled lips, Gummerson, in a matching black tuxedo, lamented their lonely journey through an eerily quiet Sin City.

“That’s gonna be our wedding f—— supper,” he said. “McDonald’s.”

The sudden closure of all Nevada casinos was an overreaction, they insisted, drawing an expletive-laced tirade about how they didn’t think Las Vegas would throw in the towel. Clarke was especially upset because he thinks the virus is really affecting only old people: “I don’t believe that this should be happening.”

A worker updates the Fiesta Henderson Hotel & Casino marquee after all casinos were closed in Nevada as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

The men were among the few remaining tourists navigating the Las Vegas Strip as no one has ever seen it: nearly devoid of revelers, gamblers and street hawkers. The governor’s directive, which fell on some deaf ears around the city (including those of an 18-and-over strip club offering drive-by lap dances), became a mandate Friday afternoon. Sisolak announced that police action would be taken as a last course of action against businesses that refused to comply with measures to stem the spread of a virus in a city reliant on the opposite of social distancing.

As casino floors fell silent — many for the first time since their construction — a desert town built on tourist traffic from around the globe boiled with anxiety. In local union headquarters, homeless shelters, around-the-block gun store lines and churches, people of all stripes braced for an uncertain future. It was almost unthinkable, this city up against the only true showstopper it has ever experienced: An insidious virus that was first detected on the other side of the world.

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As the coronavirus forced Las Vegas to shutdown, tourists scrambled to head home

After Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all nonessential businesses to shut down on March 18, tourists in Las Vegas were forced to cut vacations short. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

Traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard has fizzled, and the continuous buzzing and beeping inside the monolithic casinos has given way to the low hum of electricity, whooshing air conditioning and 1990s pop hits played for an audience of security personnel and cleaning staff.

The waters of the spiraling Bellagio fountains lie still, though a few of the hotel marquees remain illuminated at night, painting the sky blue, white and gold on an empty desert soundstage. A few mumbling panhandlers remained seated on Strip sidewalks. Unable or unwilling to seek alternatives in this strange new reality, they held up cardboard signs with marker-scribbled messages to a handful of people in no mood.

“Disabled marine veteran. Homeless. Only God can save us now.”

As a White House news briefing on the coronavirus is broadcast on a television, an employee cleans the back bar inside the now-closed Emerald Island Casino in Henderson, Nev., on Friday. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

Where are the keys?

The shutdown has not just been unpopular with departing tourists, it also has infuriated Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who offered a stern rebuttal to the governor’s decision at a City Council meeting on Wednesday. A shutdown of this magnitude was unprecedented, she said. Neither the events of 9/11 nor the October 2017 mass shooting that took 58 lives at a music festival here had the effect of a 30-day freeze in tourism.

“I know we, and they, cannot survive any total shutdown of the economy for any length of time beyond the immediate week or two,” Goodman said. “Please, governor, we need to be able to live our lives, support our families and, yes, keep Nevada strong, but together.”

She called for an eight- to 10-day shutdown, shorter than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can be a two-week incubation period for the virus. Goodman’s challenge to Sisolak, which was ignored, divided many Las Vegans as it has many people across the country. What’s better? An economically crippling shutdown long enough to ensure the virus is in the past, or fewer restrictions on everyday life and the risk of widespread infection?

“As someone in the tourism industry, I really liked what Mayor Goodman had to say, for selfish reasons,” said Tim Brooks, owner and general manager of Emerald Island Casino in Henderson. “But I don’t really know what’s realistic. Would I like to be back at work and not have these families suffer? Yes. But at what risk?”

The Emerald Island, a single-story casino with a bar and 24-hour restaurant, is far less reliant on tourism than most casinos in the heart of Las Vegas. Think “Cheers” with slot machines. Late last week, it dawned on Brooks that the front door of his 24-hour casino hadn’t been locked since he opened the place 18 years ago. Where on earth are the keys?Anticipating a shutdown, Brooks called a locksmith on Monday and had a new lock installed. When the news came, he gave last call for the first time ever, at 11:50 p.m.

The next day, his staff went about the unfamiliar business of closing a casino. Slot machines were emptied of cash and wiped down with disinfectant spray. Liquor bottles were capped and keg tap lines blown clear.

Casino porter Geralyn Johnson deep-cleans video poker machines inside the Emerald Island Casino after it closed. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

Owner and general manager Tim Brooks checks a door as he surveys the closed Emerald Island Casino. Brooks had to hire a locksmith, as he has never had to lock the doors in the 18 years he has owned the business. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

A month on the shelf will mean a six-figure loss in revenue, Brooks says, and he’s keeping 20 to 30 essential staff members on board and letting go of more than 130, most of whom trickled into the Island between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday to get educated on unemployment benefits.

“We were humming right along and planning an expansion at the end of the year and to employ 50 more people,” Brooks said. “We’re hoping the state will step up to the plate and ease some of the restrictions for all the people collecting unemployment. What hurts me more than anything is that it’s affecting the livelihood of the people we know and love.”

‘It’s insane right now’

Jose Triana emerged from the front desk of his health clinic Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. to unlock the front door and tell a towering, mohawked man coughing into a blue medical mask that drive-through testing for covid-19 was over.

“I would rather you call tomorrow. It’s insane right now,” said Triana, 29. When the man asked how long he’d have to wait to be tested, Triana’s pain and exhaustion broke through his N95 mask and medical visor. “I don’t know. I really wish we could, I really wish we could. It’s just … I can’t afford it, I can’t afford to pay my staff.”

Sahara Urgent Care and Wellness was one of just a few clinics here offering coronavirus tests, available to people exhibiting symptoms. For three days beginning Monday, employees directed cars through a maze of traffic cones linked with white rope to a spot where technicians waited with nasal swabs. When the results were in, patients waited several hours after they were obtained to be notified if they had tested positive for the virus. Cars circled the block each day, and after more than 700 tests, the clinic limited them to appointment by phone or online.

In hard-hit areas, testing restricted to health care workers, hospital patients

“We’re not getting the support that we’d like,” Triana said as the man retreated to his parked car, where a woman in a mask waited in the passenger seat. “Our resources have been exhausted. Honestly, everyone that was coming in, they looked bad. We really didn’t turn away anybody.”

Triana said he wasn’t allowed to share how many confirmed cases his clinic has reported to Clark County — which includes Las Vegas and Nevada’s second-largest city, Henderson. According to the Southern Nevada Health District, 126 positive cases of covid-19 were reported in Clark County as of Friday, with two deaths, both being people in their 60s with underlying medical conditions. But the threat of transmission is especially high compared with the rest of the country, experts said, because in the region’s more than 200 casinos, people handle chips, cash, cards, slot machines and touch screens, all in proximity to one another.

Bertha Lopez, of Mexico, wears a face mask as she visits the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign with her family on Thursday. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

Six medical providers at five hospitals who spoke with The Washington Post said each had been inundated with patients seeking tests after exhibiting covid-19 symptoms. Such was the demand at Valley Hospital Medical Center, two nurses said, that security was concentrated in the admissions areas to deal with overflow and assist in screening. That provided an opportunity for badness: Thieves broke into five cars belonging to members of the hospital staff, and they took multiple garage door openers and registrations bearing home addresses, staff members said. The two nurses spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing a hospital rule against unauthorized contact with the media. The Las Vegas Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

“When I first heard about it, I thought, no, that’s gotta be fake news,” said one of the nurses. Then she saw the pictures and spoke with those whose cars were targeted. “We’re just trying to do our jobs and trying to help people, and it feels like there’s no one helping us. It just doesn’t sound real. Who attacks the people trying to help them?”

People wait in line to enter the Briarhawk Firearms and Ammunition store in Las Vegas. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

Four miles away, at the Briarhawk Firearms and Ammunition store, more than 30 people waited in line to purchase guns and/or ammunition when the store opened at noon, mirroring a scene at multiple other gun stores here. Some customers said they were motivated by stories circulating on social media of home invasions. Three cited a specific item they had seen on Snapchat that described a home invasion in nearby Henderson, in which men apparently dressed as utility workers held a family at gunpoint and stole supplies. Many such stories and claims from around the country — many debunked — have been circulating online and on social media for days, stoking fear; the Henderson Police Department said the posting was not deemed credible and has urged people to stop spreading rumors.

Shawna Sanders, one of the first in line when Briarhawk opened at noon Thursday, said she had heard stories of break-ins and seen videos of fights in grocery stores. When she read that someone was stabbed over supplies in another state, she figured the violence was coming to Las Vegas. She moved here four years ago from New Jersey to live with her mother, a decision she has come to regret. The single mother of two worked as a bartender until the shutdown, which caused her to be laid off. On Monday she Googled “guns for women,” then showed up at the Range 702, a local shooting venue, with an idea of which pistols she wanted to try out. She narrowed the options down to two small, light guns — a Glock 40 or a Glock 9 — both in the $400 to $600 range. “I can’t be out here trying to live life with a knife,” she said. “I need real protection.”

Volunteers load boxes of food at an emergency food distribution site in the parking lot of the Palace Station hotel-casino in Las Vegas. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

‘The Twilight Zone’

Representatives from more than 130 nonprofit organizations in southern Nevada joined a United Way conference call Tuesday morning, hosted by Kyle Rahn, 60, the first female president of the United Way of Southern Nevada. Homeless shelters, meal providers, drug and alcohol treatment centers and state and local health and emergency assistance representatives joined in, aiming to take stock of resources and encouraging collaboration. Many anticipate that the shutdown of one of the nation’s largest county’s will put the people on the fringes of Las Vegas’ economy at great risk. Rahn three weeks ago set up an emergency assistance fund for the nonprofits, anticipating a shutdown.

“It’s no longer business as usual,” Rahn told the group. “And it may never be again.”

It’s the kind of work that can’t be done from home, so throughout the week a core group of five women came to the United Way offices every day, diligently washing their hands and maintaining social distancing while organizing a growing network of volunteers and nonprofits re-purposing themselves for a tsunami.

One of the women on the call, Terry Ruth Lindemann, runs Family Promise of Las Vegas, a group that helps newly homeless families find temporary housing in motels and with religious organizations. Lindemann requires visitors to wash their hands upon entry. After that, parents are introduced to case workers and go through the often-painful process of explaining how they got there. Children sprawl on couches and watch Pixar DVDs in the main room; the office is packed with stacked boxes of diapers.

She has been working 13-hour days, answering hundreds of emails. “I’m still not convinced that I’m not a star in an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ” Lindemann said.

Clark County, she says, typically finishes each school year with about 14,000 children listed as homeless, which she estimates to mean as many as 5,000 families are living in cars or otherwise oscillating between homeless and housed. Family Promise has about 40 families on its caseload, with plans to expand to 100 in 2020 with an operating budget of $700,000 per year, a portion of which is public funds.

Closing the Strip, she says, will create “a lot of need for food banks, for rental assistance, for motel shelter,” she said. “That means that this community is going to have to come together as we never have before, and we are beginning to respond in that way, much in the way they had to for Katrina and Sandy.”

Maintenance workers clean the stairs for a Las Vegas Strip pedestrian overpass. (David Becker/For The Washington Post)

As she spoke, the first housing casualties of the shutdown walked in from the street and parked on the Family Promise couch: A family of five, led by a single mother, who just last week made the pilgrimage from Utah to Las Vegas in search of work.

Two miles east, at the Culinary Workers Union headquarters, the largest union in Las Vegas and arguably the city’s most powerful, workers called in and filled the waiting room, wondering about their paychecks while casinos and hotels sit vacant.

“We’re negotiating that this week with casinos,” said Bethany Khan, director of communications for the culinary union. “For most workers that the culinary union represents, nothing will change. They’ll be paid throughout this. We are demanding that all employers, union and nonunion, pay their employees during the closure.”

While some nonunion casinos did offer compensation for furloughed employees — including notoriously anti-union Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson — most smaller casinos, hotels and small businesses that exist on the periphery of the Strip will not. And with about 40 percent of residents not being members of a union, the impact of a month-long pay freeze will be long-lasting and severe, said Rusty McAllister, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO,

“If you look back at 9/11, we were one of the hardest-hit cities, and it

 took the longest for us to come back,” McAllister says. “If people are worried or people have to look at places to cut back, one of the first places they cut back is on their vacation plans. That has an immediate impact on our city. We’re one of the first to feel it and the last to come out of it when something like this happens.”

Hair stylist Hunter Stewart collects her belongings from her work station at The Hair Lounge salon.

For small business owners beyond the reach of the union, but no less reliant on a vibrant Las Vegas Strip, the length of the shutdown and the decisions handed down by the state and federal government may mean the difference between owning a business and not. Lisa Ortiz, owner and operator of The Hair Lounge, says the future of her business is reliant on her hair stylists paying rent at a time when none of them are working.

“If they pay their rent, and we bounce back, I will waive some stuff and try to get everyone on their feet,” she said. “But if they don’t, it may not bounce back. It honestly depends on whether or not this lasts longer than 30 days. Everything’s up in the air right now.”

So she’ll wait. On Thursday evening, Ortiz brought her young son to the shop to meet one of her stylists who needed to pick up supplies. She had spent the week clearing out hair products, intending to sell them via social media at cost, and securing the shop against looters: locking up mirrors and expensive salon equipment. She had seen the home invasion claim on Snapchat, too. And the salon recently experienced a break-in after hours. Tucked in her jean waistband as she buckled her toddler into a car seat was a small loaded pistol.

“It just feels like anything can happen,” she said. “You don’t know what to believe.”

For others, the math ahead of them portended more desperate measures. Walking the aisles of a Cardena’s grocery store, Oscar Ibarra and Judy Luis contemplated what was required to feed their 10-month-old, Catalina, pay rent and feed themselves after both lost their jobs. She was a hostess at the Grand Lux Cafe on the Strip, and he worked for a pool-builder.

“Because of this whole shutdown, the clients don’t want us around right now, because they think someone might have it,” Ibarra said. “I have a little bit saved away, enough for the next few weeks.”

They’ve been buying in bulk, and skipping meals. That should work for four weeks. If the shutdown lasts longer than a month, the family might have to move to Portland, where his mother lives: “Unless they tell us we don’t have to pay rent for the next month, there’s not much else we can do.”

And while some walked grocery store aisles and performed the painful calculus of how long they might last in a Las Vegas without work, the last of the tourists who once propped up the city made their way home.

On the Strip, crossing paths with the hungry Canadian wedding party, Matt Cross and Gio Feusi had carry-ons rolling in tow. They had been asked to leave the Cosmopolitan two nights into a three-night stay that, combined with airfare out of San Francisco, cost just $480 in an economy gripped by the virus.

“We got out of San Francisco because things were shutting down, and it was so cheap to get here,” Cross said. Added Feusi: “We didn’t think Vegas would ever shut down.”

In this, they were not alone.

Inside California’s great lockdown, glimpse America’s stay-at-home future

More than 6 million people in the Bay Area have been ordered to stay home since Tuesday, prompting empty streets, cabin fever, creativity and acts of kindness

San Franciscans enjoy the fresh air and views along a stretch of beach at Crissy Field on Friday. (Photos by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

By Geoffrey A. FowlerReed AlbergottiFaiz Siddiqui

MARCH 22, 2020


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SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly a week into an unprecedented health and social experiment, more than 6 million people here are asking: Just how long can one stay at home?

On Monday, San Francisco and five other Bay Area counties were among the first in the nation to officially order residents to stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. By penalty of law, going outside is allowed only for certain jobs, food shopping and other “essential” activity.

Life inside low-key lockdown is a battle against boredom, isolation, anxiety and the fear of no end in sight. The region known as the heart of the tech industry is both inventing a new online reality and feeling the strains of economic inequality. As the rest of California and more states issued stay-at-home orders this weekend, the Bay Area’s lesson to the 1 in 5 Americans now affected is: This is harder than you think, but you’ll be surprised at your creativity and the kindness of neighbors.

Tumbleweeds might as well have rolled across the Golden Gate Bridge during rush hour Friday, though cooped-up people filled nearby Crissy Field to exercise, mostly keeping a respectful distance. Boarded-up display windows for Christian Dior, Fendi and Louis Vuitton lined the city’s deserted Union Square shopping district. At 5:40 p.m., just one car was driving down the city’s windy Lombard Street.

TV weatherman Lawrence Karnow from KRON-4 now reports the forecast from a room at home decorated with a few candles and a WiFi router. Inspired by the 2010 World Cup, fourth-grade teacher Tom Culbertson and his 16-year-old son blow vuvuzelas at 6 p.m. every evening to encourage their Palo Alto neighbors to step into the street and say hi.

“We feel like we need to bring some kind of silliness to this as best we can,” Culbertson said.

Everyone is learning the self-quarantine rules.

TOP: Tom Culbertson blows a vuvuzela on Friday to encourage families to join their neighbors on Amarillo Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif. BOTTOM LEFT: Shoppers pick through fresh produce at Weirdly Farmers Market in Oakland, Calif. BOTTOM RIGHT: With help from her roommate, Pilates instructor Carley Henning streams a class from her apartment in San Francisco.

Allowed: walking your dog, ordering takeout food and cocktails, farmers markets, biking, getting gas, using laundromats, and shopping at some liquor stores and medicinal marijuana emporiums.

Not allowed: petting someone else’s dog, dinner parties, going to hair and nail salons, in-person yoga classes, shopping for nonessentials and even throwing Frisbees.

“Look, I don’t make the rules, okay? That’s the department of public health,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in an interview, adding that she would have to do her own hair, too. “I know it’s not in our nature to not be close to one another or interactive or social when we’re around one another. But unfortunately, this is necessary for getting through this and also for saving lives.”

So far, so good, she said. “I’m really proud of this city,” Breed said. “But this is week one. And I’m sure that in the beginning it might be a lot easier. And as time goes on, it’s going to get more challenging for people.”

For the most part, violators aren’t being arrested, although it carries a potential misdemeanor charge. A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, Officer Robert Rueca, said enforcement is a “last resort” and the goal is “voluntary compliance.”

Still, cracks appeared as the weekend approached and the weather turned sunny. Some residents were spotted holding picnics, while others reported receiving citations for going to parks. The East Bay Regional Park District said it voided some parking tickets issued Tuesday, and California’s state parks authority said it was not ticketing but was urging people to leave parks “where social distancing cannot be implemented.”

Witness an empty San Francisco under a coronavirus ‘shelter in place’ order

San Jose had to officially order a gun store to shut after lines started building out the door Tuesday. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office advised Tesla to close up shop, issuing a ruling that the electric carmaker is not an “essential business” after chief executive Elon Musk had thousands of employees report to work.

In an interview, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the Bay Area may have it relatively easy when it comes to compliance, thanks in part to a highly educated population, including many who can continue to draw a paycheck by working at home with a computer.

“And yet even here in the largest city in Silicon Valley, we have this enormous divide with hundreds of thousands of residents facing horrific choices about how they’re going to make ends meet,” he said.

The counties made the drastic decision to force residents to stay at home in an effort to “flatten the curve,” essentially spacing out coronavirus cases so they don’t overwhelm local medical and emergency resources and contribute to rapid community spread. It will take weeks to know whether the measures prove effective. By Sunday, there were 1,468 confirmed cases in California and at least 27 deaths, less than a month after the state reported its first case of community transmission. The Bay Area was the first part of the country to report cases spreading in the community, in Solano and Santa Clara counties.

California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris said that while necessary to stop the spread of disease, the orders also have the potential to exacerbate depression, anxiety and such chronic health problems as diabetes and high blood pressure. Social connection is vital, she said, particularly for children.

“Whether it’s virtually — phone, text, FaceTime,” she said, “I would say it’s more important than ever for our communities to stay connected.”

[I’ve been working from home for eight days. The Netflix and quarantine life is not that chill.]

While municipalities have published lists of rules, interpreting the orders is happening one household at a time.

Corinne Downey, 41, of Palo Alto, said her 11-year-old son was begging to see friends in person, so she invented a new game: quarantine basketball. Each boy brought his own basketball, which only he was allowed to touch. The kids would sing “social distancing!” whenever they got too close.

Love in the time of coronavirus requires creativity, too. Matthew Cooper, 37, proposed a first date at a park just kicking a soccer ball back-and-forth. “It feels like we can do that from a safe distance,” said Cooper, who lives in Oakland.

The vital organs of urban life still mostly function. Trash largely gets picked up on schedule. Trains are still running, though often empty. Crime reports are down, but officials worry about a potential increase in domestic abuse. Several local jails have released prisoners early, in hopes of reducing the risk of an outbreak. San Francisco has also ceased evictions and issuing parking tickets.

TOP: Kitchen workers take a break outside Nico’s Restaurant in quiet downtown San Francisco. BOTTOM LEFT: San Francisco residents ride an eerily quiet Bay Area Rapid Transit train on Friday. BOTTOM RIGHT: A traveler arrives to a quiet Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Some residents are choosing to severely limit their activities to avoid exposure. Kimberley Gilles, 63, of Piedmont, asked on for strangers to help with grocery shopping. She got seven responses in about an hour.

Gilles said self-quarantine has left her with a “low-grade melancholy” but given her a new appreciation for community. “One of the things we are all questioning is our ability to control everything,” the high school English teacher said. “I can control kindness. I can do that. But almost everything else is beyond my control.”

Things have gotten especially tricky in “co-living” houses, where young professionals cram together and share the cost of exorbitant Bay Area rents. Melissa Wong, one of 14 roommates in an Oakland home, faced a weighty decision when the house collectively decided to require residents to either socially distance themselves from significant others or stay with their partners during the outbreak. Wong, 32, chose to move in with her boyfriend of a year and a half while still paying $1,650 in rent to keep her bedroom. She said she and her boyfriend had been looking for a “more celebratory context” to live with each other. Fortunately, “it’s been pretty positive,” she said. “We will get our moment to actively choose living together.”

For many, the biggest challenge is passing time while normal life is on hold. Ashleigh Azzari, a 36-year-old manager at Anthropologie in Palo Alto, is still collecting a paycheck but can’t go to work or leave the house, except to walk the dog and grocery shop. She and her husband are trying to conceive, and even fertility treatments have taken a pause. To pass the time, she bought an unlimited annual subscription to Rosetta Stone for $99 to brush up on Italian and learn Japanese. At 6 p.m., she joins a virtual happy hour with co-workers.

She’s also a puzzle enthusiast but has been finishing them too quickly, piecing together a 1,000-piece art deco set in a couple of hours.

By the end of the day, “you can go through all the emotions,” she said. But it’s also been a reminder of what’s important to her. “Like hanging out with my husband. He’s a nice guy. We get along,” she said. “We are all taking a step back from how fast we were moving.”

A worker disinfects an elevator at a BART station in San Francisco.

Other people have had to choose between income and their health. Steve Gregg, 51, of Antioch, drives for Uber and on Friday decided to log off the app because his lungs don’t handle infection well. He’s now reliant on a side gig of writing.

“It went from ‘I can do this’ to ‘this is Russian roulette, I’m not playing it,’” he said, describing dropping off a passenger near a hospital that triggered a panic attack. “I went home and I haven’t driven since.”

[The webcam will see you now: Doctors urge patients to replace in-person visits with apps]

Then there are the 28,000 Bay Area residents who have no home in which to quarantine themselves. T.J. Johnston, 53, has been living in the same San Francisco shelter since November, where he sleeps in a room with about 10 sets of bunk beds. “There’s literally another person on top of me,” he said. The city has told shelters to extend their reservations until the end of April. “I tried myself to maintain social distancing,” he said. “It is kind of difficult when you put so many people inside a confined space.”

Some restaurants are shuttering, unable to balance high rents with a decline in customers. Others are finding unexpected ways to adapt. The Los Gatos restaurant Manresa, which boasts three Michelin stars, has closed for dinner and told its hourly employees to sign up for unemployment. But it’s now transformed into a takeout joint, offering a gourmet “family meal to go” for $35 to $59 per head. Friday’s menuincluded Japanese medai a la plancha and seasoned sushi rice along with pineapple upside-down cake.

Ericka Wells was laid off as a waitress from Grand Lake Kitchen in Oakland on Thursday as the restaurant shut down. So the aspiring pastry chef took to Nextdoor to inform her neighbors she was officially open for business. She’s delivering 14 pastry boxes this weekend (she plans to leave them on porches in sealed plastic bags to avoid germs).

Her business, Layers By Xanthe (her middle name), has turned into a bright spot in an otherwise dismal time, she said. “The universe just put a stop button for all of us and told us to reevaluate our lives,” she said.

There are still moments of fear. Walking in the park or on the sidewalk — while technically allowed — prompts many passersby to swerve roughly six feet out of the way. Doctors and nurses keep going to the hospitals, where cases are starting to mount. Coronavirus testing sites have not been made public, in an effort to guard them from an overwhelming crowd.

TOP: Pigeons gather on an otherwise empty street in San Jose. BOTTOM LEFT: Dennis Wishnie and his daughter Lauren Altbaier practice social distancing near the Embarcadero in San Francisco on Friday. BOTTOM RIGHT: A San Francisco postal worker delivers packages.

The stay-at-home order can be especially terrifying for people with families who are feeling sick and can’t get tested. Pat Burtis, 50, a venture capitalist in Corte Madera, was coughing and had a fever of about 102 earlier in the week. He drove to an urgent-care clinic, a walk-in clinic and called his county health department, but he couldn’t get anyone to test him. So he grabbed a couple of extra masks from the hospital and has been isolating himself from his wife and 8-year-old daughter. “When I come downstairs, I am wearing a mask as much as possible and maniacally washing hands and wiping things down,” he said.

Still, there are many silver linings. One is how technology is bringing people together in new ways, from Zoom teleconference happy hours to online play dates for closed schools.

[It’s ‘quarantini’ time. People say cheers to video happy hours when they’re stuck at home.]

Amanda Deering, director of operations and strategy for Mariposa Kids, an after-school program in San Francisco, sent an email to all the parents in the program with a link to a free Google Hangout, where recreation leaders and a program director host two-hour virtual programs.

During the first session on Monday, there were plenty of kinks to iron out. Kids accidentally muted one another, and the rec leader was even silenced at one point. Things were going more smoothly by the end of the week, when staff members came up with creative ideas to keep kids engaged without just staring at the screen, including exercise classes, coloring contests and scavenger hunts in which kids find an object in their house that begins with a certain letter and then show it to the class. Students can earn “tickets” if they are well-behaved, letting everyone have a chance to speak and participate. When real-life class resumes, the tickets can be redeemed for prizes, like toys and ice cream sundaes.

“What we would like to create for kids is a space where they’re hanging out with friends but they’re also engaged with environment,” Deering, 29, said.

Even religion has found a home online. Cody Harris, 41, a lawyer in Mill Valley, held a virtual Jewish shabbat ceremony on Friday night with 20 other families over Zoom video conference. Attendees lit candles and sang together. “It’s just about being together and trying to bring some order and ritual and tradition into this situation,” he said.

A few people walk the streets of San Francisco on Friday.

Correction: Pat Burtis went to an urgent care clinic and a walk-in clinic to seek testing. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said he went to a hospital emergency room.

Nitasha Tiku contributed to this report. Photography by Melina Mara. Video by James Pace-Cornsilk. Photo editing by Annaliese Nurnberg. Design by Audrey Valbuena.


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