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Coronavirus Deaths

April 3, 2020

There’s no update yet on legendary songwriter John Prine, who was reported to be in critical care on a respirator with the COVID-19 coronavirus. But the disease has now claimed the lives of two other highly-respected musicians.

Jazz pianist and teacher Ellis Marsalis Jr. has died in New Orleans at 85 after being hospitalized with symptoms of the disease, although it has yet to be confirmed. Marsalis was not only a legendary New Orleans jazz man in his own right, he was the teacher and mentor to generations of star players, such as Harry Connick Jr. and Irvin Mayfield, as well as his famous sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. To show how much he helped advance the art of jazz, his sons now play with symphony orchestras. But he once recalled that during his youth studying classical piano at Dillard University, "you could get expelled for playing jazz. The dean would get a report that we were over there ruining pianos playing jazz on them.”

And the deadliness of the virus is not limited to the elderly, the sick or those with poor health care. The rock music world was shocked Wednesday at news that singer/songwriter Adam Schlesinger had died of COVID-19 complications at 52. Schlesinger was one of the rare talents who nearly earned “EGOT” status: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. He was an Emmy winner for his music for the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend;” a Grammy winner with his ‘90s pop/rock band Fountains of Wayne; Tony nominee for his score for the musical “Cry-Baby;” and Oscar nominee for the early Beatles-style theme song of Tom Hanks’ 1997 directorial debut, “That Thing You Do.”

Our prayers for their families and condolences to their many fans.

1. U.S. # CONFIRMED CASES (As of 6:30 AM): 216,722   DEATHS: 5,137  RECOVERIES: 8,672

TESTS GIVEN:  1,168,997

2.  CDC RECOMMENDATIONS: How to protect yourself  |  What to do if you are sick

3.  POLITICAL FALLOUT:  Cancel the Democrat and Republican conventions?  Maybe.  

4.  MEDIA BIAS:  Hume: TDS Media can't be trusted.

5.  CHINA LIES:  The Australian Media isn't buying them.

From Bonnie:

Just thought you might enjoy a little history - I remember my great aunt, Amelia Johnson, who was a head nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital during the 1918 flu pandemic, telling me about the 18-hour shifts, the patients lined out in the hallways and the fact that they could only make them comfortable, NOT do anything to really help them. She contracted the virus herself and nearly died. Her fever went up to 107 degrees and she lost all her hair. Both she and I found it incredible that she survived that.

She said she was one of the "lucky ones" because she lived, even though she was basically bald for the rest of her life. I was 16-18 when I knew her, and some of the girls at our college made fun of the fact that she wore a hairpiece. I would never have asked her about it, but one day when I was staying with her, she volunteered the information about how she lost her hair. I was incredulous!

The 1918 pandemic has never been just another story for me since then. I was a history and English major, and firsthand stories make it so much more than just an event. When I see the pictures of the crowded wards, I can picture her working there and paying a terrible price for her dedication. Her attitude was one of blessing though, as one of the "lucky ones."

When we are just asked to stay home a while, it's not so much by comparison. One of my sons works in an ER and I pray for him and them every day. God bless our healthcare workers and keep them safe.

From the Gov:

Thank you so much, Bonnie, for offering this perspective. Your great aunt truly was great, courageously offering comfort at a time when she knew little could be done to help her if she herself became ill. How wonderful that she chose to share her story with you...and ultimately with us.

I wrote yesterday about the frustration of hearing scientists in charge of the COVID-19 response call incessantly for DATA, no matter how long it takes to get it. Well, Americans sitting at home with no work for the foreseeable future want data, too –- but a lot sooner.

For example, we want to know the real infection rates, recovery rates and “negative outcome” rates. (Everybody knows what doctors mean when they employ the euphemism “negative outcome.”) We need these to assess how necessary it is for us to grind the U.S. economy to a halt for months and possibly create global economic collapse, with all the disaster and hopelessness that would bring.

For many, the seriousness of this –- the full impact –- is just now really starting to hit. We hear it in President Trump’s voice, now that he’s had to extend the stay-at-home guidelines. The kids want to go outside and visit friends. People worry if they’ll have jobs to go back to. The rent was due on the 1st. Speaking of that, one way we know it’s bad is because April Fool’s Day came and went with precious few April Fool’s jokes.

Anyway, right now it’s impossible to know what the reality is, because we have no idea how many have been infected. That means “experts” are flying blind, too. An undetermined number of those who pick up the virus are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that mimic some little respiratory thing and they don’t even get tested. That’s why estimates and predictions have been all over the map. Fancy charts and graphs mean NOTHING. You know how it is with computer models (including those for predicting “climate change”): garbage in, garbage out. Any infection rate we plug into these models is guesswork. Garbage.


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The way to get more people back to living their lives is to let them have the blood test for COVID-19 antibodies. That’s especially true, of course, for healthcare workers, who could benefit incredibly from knowing they have immunity. As of last week, an antibody test considered reliable by researchers has become available. But, as Laura Ingraham pointed out on her Wednesday FOX NEWS show, Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that antibodies testing is not a priority right now. It will be important, “ultimately,” to “get a feel” for how far the virus penetrated society, to have an idea of “the herd immunity,” but that this is not their “immediate problem.”

Say what? I’m sorry, but that makes no sense. We need data on this NOW. Dr. Birx gets the importance of this test, at least for health care workers. She’s calling on universities to help and says they’ll be ready by this Friday. She says the test is fast and easy --- fantastic news for health care workers and all those on the front lines, but we also need this done on a larger scale to get the true picture of what this virus does. If the infection rate turns out to be a lot higher than we thought, then the “bad outcome” rate is far smaller than current guesses suggest.

On a positive note, six pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, are working on a vaccine. The company Moderna has already started human testing. Even big tobacco has joined the effort, with Lucky Strike saying they can quickly grow tobacco containing antigens to the virus. That is incredible. Still, the vaccine is a long-term answer; even an optimistic estimate for this to be ready is 12-18 months.

The President wants us all to be able SOON to go back to work and get back to normal. The old normal, the good normal. But be warned: there are many who aren’t focused so much on that. Researchers want their data. Doctors want a high percentage of “good outcomes.” China wants us weak. And leftist politicians in our own country want a “new normal” of limitless spending and control over our lives, forever and ever amen. If we’re not vigilant, the threat of contagion could easily become a permanent excuse for tracking us all with GPS, monitoring social activities and confiscating guns. Fun times.

Oh, and now Adam Schiff wants to investigate President Trump’s response to the pandemic.

But let's get back to talking about the legitimate, worthwhile pursuit of data. Here’s the biggest one of all: We sitting at home desperately want to see data on the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, both as a protective measure and, in combination with azithromycin and zinc, as a treatment for respiratory symptoms. I don’t mean the large controlled studies that take months or years, because we don’t have that kind of time, but smaller studies that reinforce the “anecdotal” reports we’ve been getting. Some doctors now are routinely treating coronavirus patients with the combination hydroxychloroquine therapy, though they have to monitor closely for possible adverse cardiological effects. (Note: this is why I advised against using “pop-up tents” outside hospitals to hand out mass quantities of the drugs.) In fact, eminent infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Smith reports that of all his patients, no one receiving at least five days of the drug therapy has had to go on a ventilator. This supports the results of that early French study that some “experts” were dismissing. The odds of these results happening by chance are, in effect, zero.

He called this “a game-changer.” In fact, he told Laura Ingraham, “I think this is the beginning of the end. Of the pandemic. I’m very serious.

Here’s another preliminary report of a different treatment that also looks very promising.

If that weren’t enough, here’s another piece of useful data: The more patients they treat, the more doctors are seeing that the ones far more likely to experience “negative outcomes” are those who are overweight or obese and/or diabetic or pre-diabetic. Sure, the gyms are closed for now, but I can’t think of a better reason to start some kind of diet and fitness program at home. Step it up when the gyms re-open. And toss away the cigarettes for good! Save the tobacco for antigen-growing.

Finally, again, we want data from China. And China is actually giving us some, in spite of its leaders’ efforts to keep the lid on. I’ve been commenting this week on the possibility that the COVID-19 virus originated not in the Wuhan live animal market but inside a nearby biotech lab. That’s not just speculation: scientists from the South China University of Technology have put together a compelling case that one of two labs in Wuhan Province researching coronavirus in the “intermediate Horseshoe Bat” is the likely source of the contagion.

Their paper has been online for two months but our media have virtually ignored it. (That Australian 60 MINUTES report I linked to yesterday talks about it.) Tucker Carlson and a few others have reported on it. But the director of the National Institutes of Health has, inadvertently or not, run interference for the Chinese government by dismissing the idea as “outrageous.” No, it isn’t.

Maria Bartiromo brought up the subject, with Ted Cruz.

And Jim Treacher at PJ Media has an excellent commentary on this.

Trampling Rights

April 1, 2020

I wrote briefly yesterday about the Tampa-area pastor who was arrested for holding a Sunday church service in defiance of an order against large gatherings, and asked for your responses. Since then, that story has exploded into other very important areas. Last night, I was on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News to discuss this story…

…which has taken on new meaning in light of rising infringements on Constitutional rights. Local authorities say they support freedom of religion, but the church service endangered the public health in violation of quarantine. However, the church claims the service was conducted with great care, including social distancing of attendees and other strict health precautions. My friends at the Liberty Counsel are defending the pastor. And a Pennsylvania pastor wants by holding an "outdoor Easter blowout service" a la Woodstock to show solidarity.

Both the defiance of the lockdown orders and the draconian measures some political office holders are using to enforce them have given rise to a serious debate about whether we are in danger of losing our Constitutional rights, not just during the current health emergency, but from now on. Personally, I believe that for the safety of me, my family and my community, it’s best to do whatever is necessary to stop the spread of this disease, and that can include innovative ways to worship, such as streaming services online or even this.

The bigger issue, though, is the swiftness with which our elected leaders, particularly mayors and governors of deep blue areas, have rushed right past “leadership” directly to “dictatorship.” While it might or might not be within their powers to curtail some freedoms during a deadly pandemic, their lack of concern for how that impacts individual rights is a warning sign that either they don’t understand those rights or hold them in contempt. Neither quality is acceptable in someone who holds powerful office.

For instance, it is one thing to order people to stay inside during an emergency. You might even justify arresting someone for defying that order. But in New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio threatened to “permanently” close any church or synagogue that violated it (tellingly, he didn’t threaten mosques, but that’s another issue.) By what possible right does he claim power to take away people’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of assembly “permanently”?

Some of these officials seem to be winging it without even thinking about it. For example, they’ll release all the criminals from jail, because they might catch the virus there. Then they try to deprive citizens of their Second Amendment right to defend themselves from the criminals they released by closing gun stores. The Mayor of Washington, DC, even threatened to arrest and jail people who go outside. So to recap: they’d empty the jails to protect criminals from getting the virus, then put citizens into the virus-ridden jails they just let the criminals out of, just for leaving their homes, because that might give someone the virus. If you can follow that circuitous reasoning, please send me the directions.

This is a time when it’s important for our officials to keep the public informed and alert, to show leadership and lead by example, and to impress on everyone the importance of voluntary compliance with guidelines to save lives. Draconian enforcement should be a last resort, not a first resort, and never should it be allowed to become commonplace after this passes.

Just as the public needs stern, sober reminders of why their cooperation is a matter of life and death, so do some political figures need a remedial lesson in Constitutional rights. Lesson one: the Bill of Rights is not a list of things that the state allows us to do, if we’re good and use them only the way they want. It’s a list of rights granted to us by God that the state cannot take away, except by tyranny.