Covid Deaths Continue to Mount
Meanwhile, a report states that a Trump admin official pushed infections to promote herd immunity.
The death toll in the US from Covid-19 on December 16 was 3,486. That is higher that the death toll on 9/11 by 490. The seven-day rolling average is 2,562. If that pace remains steady (and sadly trend line is not flat, bur upward) we will be past 350,000 deaths by New Year’s Eve. Note that we hit 250,000 just a month ago.
All numbers from Worldometers.
I remember a lot of skeptics asking, “where are the deaths?” when the cases started to grow. It is true that we have gotten better at treating the disease. It also true that death is a lagging indicator and that more cases were inevitably going to lead to more death.
This is, as I have repeatedly noted, not just the flu. This is especially problematic since we are heading into the prime holiday season with family gatherings, parties, church services, and the like on the horizon for which it appears a lot of people will not be avoiding.
These trends are not encouraging:
All of this is in the context of the failed response to the pandemic by the Trump administration. To take a simple example, how many lives could have be saved if there had been a concerted effort from the White House to encourage mask-wearing even six months ago? Or what if Trump had signaled that large gatherings were a means of spreading to be avoided, instead of holding rallies, huge press events, and parties?
And into that mix we have the following from Politico: ‘We want them infected’: Trump appointee demanded ‘herd immunity’ strategy, emails reveal.
“There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD,” then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.
“Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected…” Alexander added.
Alexander was a top deputy of Caputo, who was personally installed by President Donald Trump in April to lead the health department’s communications efforts. Officials told POLITICO that they believed that when Alexander made recommendations, he had the backing of the White House.
“It was understood that he spoke for Michael Caputo, who spoke for the White House,” said Kyle McGowan, a Trump appointee who was CDC chief of staff before leaving this summer. “That’s how they wanted it to be perceived.”
HHS denies that this was policy, but
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who chairs the coronavirus subcommittee, said in a statement that the documents “show a pernicious pattern of political interference by Administration officials.”
“As the virus spread through the country, these officials callously wrote, ‘who cares’ and ‘we want them infected,'” Clyburn added. “They privately admitted they ‘always knew’ the President’s policies would cause a ‘rise’ in cases, and they plotted to blame the spread of the virus on career scientists.”
At a minimum the administration certainly acted indifferent to spread (Trump himself would lament how testing led to cases), making all this all sound quite credible as being influential over policy. It certainly is a window into some of the discussions taking place in the administration.
The email cache provided a real-time look at the administration’s deliberations as the Covid-19 crisis first began to rebound during the summer.
“So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who cares?” Alexander wrote in a July 3 email to the health department’s top communications officials. “If it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares…as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes, we must go on with life….who cares if we test more and get more positive tests.”
“How can this be researched and proven true or false?” Caputo asked Alexander in one July 25 email exchange, after Alexander had emailed Hahn and nine top communications officials across HHS and FDA about the value of herd immunity.
Alexander wrote back with data that he said he’d pulled from several studies, including a link to a June 30 Quanta Magazine article about the “tricky math” of herd immunity.
“I did not want to look like a nut ball and if as they think and as I think this may be true … several hard hit areas may have hit heard [sic] at 20% like NYC,” Alexander added. “[T]hat’s my argument….why not consider it?”
Because herd immunity requires a substantial level of infection (70% to 90%) and at a 1.8% mortality rate (based on today’s numbers) would mean an awful lot of death. (Not to mention that lingering effects of the disease that have been reported and that we currently do not understand).
The whole piece is worth a read.