Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for February 2020

Check out the SC exit poll

Going into this primary, I assumed that Sanders would win the white vote and Biden would win the black vote, but that’s not what happened. Biden beat Bernie solidly among white voters, 33% to 23%, and trounced him 61% to 17% with black voters.

The pre-election polling significantly underpredicted how well Biden actually did by quite a bit. The polling average showed Biden with a 15.4 point lead over Sanders (because of the last-minute polls trending towards Biden), but the actual results have Biden beating Sanders by 28.8 points.

I wonder if maybe Biden has benefited from the coronavirus. Perhaps in times of national crisis, people want someone in the White House who has been there before. Unfortunately, the exit poll didn’t have a question about the virus.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 29, 2020 at 11:36 PM

Posted in Politics

I told you so, again

Back on February 14th I wrote:

So it looks like Japan has gotten more aggressive about testing people with pneumonia for the virus, and lo and behold, they are finding virus cases. We have NOT been doing any testing in the United States. I am almost certain that aggressive testing of pneumonia patients in the U.S. would turn up some virus cases. It’s not believable that there have been zero new cases in the U.S., outside of quarantine, during the last week.

Looks like I was totally right about that. As soon as testing finally started happening, we are now finding cases here in the United States. Total fuckup by U.S. government to have waited so long. Expect more and more bad news in the coming few days.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 29, 2020 at 8:55 PM

Biden trounces everyone in South Carolina

Looks like he didn’t just win, he won HUGE. I was totally wrong when I projected that it would be a close race against Sanders. Biden is back in the race.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 29, 2020 at 7:30 PM

Posted in Politics

Virus outbreak in Washington State

Sorry, don’t mean to be alarmist, but it’s more likely than not that this is the the tip of a much larger iceberg.

According to the official CDC media statement, three people have so far tested positive in Washington State, including one who died who was a male in his 50s.

But here’s the worst part of the release: “Additional residents and staff of the LTCF who have not yet been tested for COVID-19 are reportedly either ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalized with pneumonia of unknown cause.” A whole bunch of people from the same place with a mysterious pneumonia? It’s pretty darn likely they all have the virus, and I’m assuming that’s the case until proven otherwise.

The big question is how long has there been a suspicion that the virus was present, but they were unable to do any tests because only the CDC would test people and the CDC refused to
test anyone who hadn’t been to China or hadn’t had known contact with someone else who was known to be infected?

* * *

Seattle Times reports that the nursing home is in Kirkland, which is near Microsoft’s headquarters in nearby Redmond, and that 27 residents and 25 employees have symptoms of the virus.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM

Saturday morning pandemic update

There is no good news. There are now FOUR cases of community transmission in the United States, two in California, one in Oregon, one in Washington. Once you start testing people, you find cases.

I believe that what happened is that after the discovery of the case of community transmission in California, the following day the CDC finally (after weeks of inaction) modified its criteria to allow people with “Fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia, ARDS) requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza)”even if they haven’t traveled anywhere. Also, the countries of recent travel that allow lesser symptoms to be tested has increased to include China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.

Also, it appears that some test kits are now available in those Western states that reported the fiindings.

The patient in Oregon worked in an elementary school, so now there’s the fear that other people from the school, students or staff, could also have caught it.

The patient in Washington is a high school student, and since he wouldn’t have been tested without severe respiratory illness, that shows that young people aren’t completely immune to getting the disease and coming down with severe symptoms.

Because of our failure to test for the last month, how many more unknown cases are out there, and in how many places? What’s worrisome here is that the new cases of community transmission are not in a single geographic area but spread out all over the place.

An article from Science Magazine from Friday afternoon:

Speed is critical in the response to COVID-19. So why has the United States been so slow in its attempt to develop reliable diagnostic tests and use them widely?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has shipped testing kits to 57 countries. China had five commercial tests on the market 1 month ago and can now do up to 1.6 million tests a week; South Korea has tested 65,000 people so far. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in contrast, has done only 459 tests since the epidemic began. The rollout of a CDC-designed test kit to state and local labs has become a fiasco because it contained a faulty reagent. Labs around the country eager to test more suspected cases—and test them faster—have been unable to do so. No commercial or state labs have the approval to use their own tests.

In what is already an infamous snafu, CDC initially refused a request to test a patient in Northern California who turned out to be the first probable COVID19 case without known links to an infected person.

The problems have led many to doubt that the official tally of 60 confirmed cases in the United States is accurate. “There have been blunders, and there could be an underlying catastrophe that we don’t know about,” says epidemiologist Michael Mina, who helps run a microbiology testing lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It’s been very complicated and confusing for everyone with almost no clarity being provided by the CDC.”

The situation may soon improve. State labs and commercial diagnostic developers hope to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their own tests, and FDA and CDC on Wednesday agreed on a workaround for the faulty CDC kit—which has a problem that is not essential to its proper functioning—so that it can now be used by at least some of the state labs that have it.

But there’s widespread discontent with the way the system has worked. “The U.S. government has not appropriately prioritized diagnostic tests and supported the laboratory response network to the degree they should have been supported over the years,” says Luciana Borio, who in previous jobs had lead roles in responding to emerging threats at the National Security Council and FDA.

If a new disease emerges, CDC normally “gets the ball rolling” with diagnostics because it has the expertise and the biosafety laboratories to handle dangerous novel pathogens, says Borio, who now works for In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit venture capital firm. Typically, there are few confirmed viral samples from patients at the outset, which researchers need to validate their tests, and CDC has the capability to grow the virus for this critical quality assurance step. Once the agency has a working test, that goes out to state labs. Then, in a third phase, commercial labs take over and either produce their own tests or scale-up the CDC one. “I would have hoped to see that third phase by now,” Borio says.

What a huge fuckup. Who knows how many more people will die from the virus because of the failure of government to get its act together.

I saw the following post on reddit. Of course any bozo or troll can post on reddit, but it sounds believable:

So, my husband is a doctor in the midwestern US at a family health clinic. 2 days ago a fellow doctor told him that he had a patient in that day and the patient was presenting flu like symptoms. The patient had been to mainland China less than 4 weeks ago. The patient tested negative for flu and the doctor just let him go. He told my husband there was no testing unless symptoms started 14 days after and it had been 21. And he said they had no way to test anyway.

My friend, who is a pediatrician, posted an Instagram story today about how she had been to Hawaii last week. There was a known case in Hawaii a week before they were there. My pediatrician friend said that when they arrived home, her husband spiked a high fever and started coughing up blood. They went to the ER and they told them all of this but they did not test for corona. After neg flu they treated him for pneumonia and sent him home. She said in her story that this is her speculating, but she thinks that it’s already spreading rapidly and the US just isn’t testing or letting anyone know.

Here’s a comment from reddit about the wisdom of political candidates holding campaign rallies while there’s a dangerous virus on the loose:

I’m hoping every single politico in America is going to these and coughing and shaking hands with each other and just generally giving each other a massive dose of virus, that the election is not ultimately decided by a popularity contest but a battle royale of geriatric immune systems.

In New York City a man returned from Japan, he has illness with a cough, tested negative for the flu, but he can’t get tested for the coronavirus because his symptoms aren’t severe enough. How many hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in the United States have the virus right now?

South Korea, now able to test large numbers of people per day (unlike the United States) has increased the total number of cases to 3,150, more than 800 additional cases in one day. Deaths have increased to 17.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 29, 2020 at 8:18 AM

Now is when we need a leader with gravitas

The first thing I ever wrote about the possibility of Trump being president, in January 2014:

It’s reported that Donald Trump is talking about running. (1) Trump is unlikely to run. The guy is full of hot air and nothing he says should be taken seriously. (2) He lacks gravitas. In other words, he’s a bozo.

These qualities actually worked out quite well for getting prole whites in rustbelt states to vote for him, so yes, I was wrong about them preventing Trump from becoming President.

But when the country is in a crisis, people want a leader with gravitas, and Trump has the very opposite of gravitas.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 28, 2020 at 1:48 PM

Posted in Politics

Twitter manipulation?

It seems to me that Twitter has not been allowing virus related hashtags to trend. UNLESS they are anti-Trump hashtags, in which case they ARE allowed to trend.

Not to say that Trump doesn’t deserve very harsh criticism for the administration’s inept response to the virus, but I don’t like thought manipulation by internet monopolies.

A commenter pointed out recently that when Trump did a smart thing to prevent spread of the virus, banning travel from China, he was criticized for that too. Yes, it sucks that the media is always anti-Trump even when he does something right.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 28, 2020 at 9:42 AM

Posted in Technology

Friday morning pandemic update

I tweeted yesterday that we should give Mike Pence a chance, but upon more reflection and more information, it looks like the purpose of Mike Pence is to get the CDC to shut up and stop doing their own press releases and press briefings. Trump thinks the virus is a propaganda problem and not an actual health problem. I hate to agree with the MSM when they attack Trump, but indeed Trump is acting more like China and Iran than democratic countries like South Korea or Italy. Immediately adding Larry Kudlow and Steve Mnuchin to the virus task force is another bad first move, indicating that the administration is more worried about the economy than saving lives. Mike Pence has not publicly addressed the issue of why we can’t test anyone and what he’s doing to fix the problem.

Japan also has a problem testing people, but at least they are acknowledging that there might be a serious problem. They’ve shut down all schools, and called off all sporting events, theme parks and other tourist attractions are shutting down. We’re not doing these things in the United States because the government is pretending the virus isn’t here, which they can’t possibly know because they aren’t doing any testing at all for community transmission.

Regarding countries with larger outbreaks, South Korea now reports 2,337 confirmed cases and Italy 655 confirmed cases. But with Italy, it seems that a whole bunch of travelers from Italy have tested positive in other countries, indicating that Italy has a bigger problem than just 655 people infected.

A week ago today, I wrote that “people will remember that while this crisis is brewing, Trump is going to campaign rallies and saying stupid stuff about who won the Academy Award for Best Picture. When it’s all over, it’s not going to look very good for Trump.” I’ve heard the term “Trump’s Katrina” today on Bloomberg radio, but it’s going to be worse than that for Trump, it will also be like Herbert Hoover having no chance of winning re-election because the stock market crashed on his watch.

There are a lot of stories now appearing in mainstream media condemning Trump’s response to the virus. And it’s about time too. The fakestream media was ignoring this virus for too long, because they thought that talking about the virus would spark racism and xenophobia against Chinese people. As I, sadly, also predicted, the virus would only become the number one story in the media after it became an anti-Trump story. And now we see that happening. Yesterday I tuned into CNN, the virus was the #1 story.

Also, I may add that the market futures are down again this morning. I predicted this back on February 6th. I said sell sell sell. I took a lot of shit for this. Commenters said crap like “you cant time the markets,” “just the flu, bro,” “when you say to sell, that’s when we should buy.” Well looks like those people were wrong. And I say the market can only get worse. In a few days we will verify that there’s widespread community transmission in the United States, and we will close schools and shut down stuff like they are doing in other countries, and that will push down the market a lot more. The market is still in denial.

* * *

Japan’s public news service now has a chart that shows you have many cases they have although it seems to have fewer cases than the BNO News tracker.

There are total of 12 new cases in Hokkaido for a total of 66 cases. That seems disproportionate relative to Hokkaido’s population, so maybe this is evidence that the virus spreads more in colder weather. But at this point, the weather connection is just hopeful thinking, not a proven deal.

* * *

Commenter Maciano writes:

I can’t stand in Trump’s shoes and the weight he carries is unimaginable for me, however I would have taken this epidemic way more seriously and I would not have commented until I knew the facts.

I wouldn’t tweet about stock prices or push my economic advisor into a pandemic workgroup for obviously selfish reasons.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 28, 2020 at 7:25 AM

Star Trek: Picard S01E06

Still the best Star Trek series ever.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 27, 2020 at 10:44 PM

Posted in Star Trek

Thursday morning pandemic update

No good news this morning.

We have the first case in the U.S. of community transmission.

Italy now has 528 cases and 14 deaths (although many, maybe all, of the deaths are people who were in a hospital for other reasons who got infected), South Korea has a whopping 1,766 cases, an increase of 555 in just one day.

How many cases would we know about in the U.S. if we could test as many people as South Korea is able to test? I bet a lot more than one. This one case in California is the tip of a large and scary iceberg.

The same applies to Japan, which is also not testing a whole lot of people, even as the number of cases in the country now stands at 207. There is a strong suspicion that it’s worse in Japan. Japan announced today that ALL elementary through high schools will be closed in the ENTIRE country beginning on Monday and through April. I think if we were doing enough community testing in the United States, we would be doing the same thing.

Cases are appearing all over Europe, apparently spreading out from Italy. And all over the Middle East spreading out from Iran.

S&P 500 futures are down another 0.91% as of 7:16 AM EST. On February 6th, I told you to sell your stocks. People who didn’t listen should have listened.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 27, 2020 at 7:32 AM

%d bloggers like this: