Conspiracy-theorist-in-chief accuses medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients of theft

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The top-line headline from Donald Trump’s Sunday corona virus task force press briefing was that he’s dropping his insane desire to “reopen the country” by Easter, after doctors Anthony Fauci and Debrah Birx convinced him of the recklessness of this action, and Trump instead extended social distancing measures until April 30.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Fauci Estimates That 100,000 To 200,000 Americans Could Die From The Coronavirus.

The White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx clarified on Monday that “the projections by Dr. Anthony Fauci that U.S. deaths could range from 1.6 million to 2.2 million deaths is a worst case scenario if the country did “nothing” to contain the outbreak (a model from the Imperial College of London estimated up to 2.2 million people could die if no actions were taken to stop transmission in the US.), but said even “if we do things almost perfectly,” she still predicts up to 200,000 U.S. deaths. Dr. Birx predicts up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths ‘if we do things almost perfectly’.

Even if we do things almost perfectly” … Oh God, we’re all going to die! This is the most incompetent administration in history.

Trump pointed no fewer than 16 times to the most dire projections of 2 million or more U.S. deaths in the Sunday briefing. Trump sought to use the most dire projections to pre-spin his administration’s response as a success. Trump moves the coronavirus goal posts, pre-spinning 100,000 deaths as ‘a very good job’:

“So you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this,” Trump said. “And so if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — it’s a horrible number, maybe even less — but to 100,000. So we have between 100 and 200,000, and we altogether have done a very good job.”

So now we know Trump’s bottom-line number for how many American lives are acceptable collateral damage to him. (He will move the goal posts again: any number under 2.2 million deaths will be deemed a “victory.”)

Rick Wilson, author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, puts Trump’s statement in its proper context, in a way that only he can, Trump: I’m Doing a Great Job Fighting the Coronavirus, and 100,000 of You Will Die:

Sunday, the president said that 100,000 deaths would be a great win. Only in the world of Trumpian dumbfuckery could anyone brighter than a toaster oven think 100,000 avoidable deaths is a win. That’s like saying, “Hey, honey, I went to the strip club, caught an STD, knocked up a stripper named Destynee, and got a second mortgage to bail her meth tweaker boyfriend out of jail… but at least I didn’t touch the kids’ college fund.”

But the most outrageous statement which emerged on Sunday and has now become Donald Trump’s go-to talking point for his administration’s failure to provide adequate medical supplies in this crisis is his conspiracy theory that doctors and nurses who are currently risking their lives treating COVID-19 patients without proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) are themselves stealing PPE rather than using them for treatment:

“How do you go from 10 to 20 [thousand masks per week] to 300,000? Ten to 20,000 masks, to 300,000—even though this is different? Something is going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Are they going out the back door?” How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000? And we have that in a lot of different places. So, somebody should probably look into that, because I just don’t see, from a practical standpoint, how that’s possible to go from that to that. And we have that happening in numerous places — not to that extent; that was the highest number I’ve heard.

“I don’t think it’s hoarding,” he later added, “I think maybe it’s worse than hoarding” [wink, wink].

At the coronavirus task force press briefing on Monday, Trump asserted an unnamed source for his latest conspiracy theory:

Well, I expressed what was told to me by a tremendous power in the business.  He said that, at a New York hospital, for a long period of time, he was giving 10,000, maybe maximum 20,000 masks over a short time.  And all of a sudden, he’s giving 300,000.  And I said, “No matter how bad this is, could that be possible?”  He said, “No.”  So there’s only a couple of things that could happen.  Is it going out the back door?

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But when you have the biggest distributor of product that distributes to many of the big hospitals and hospital chains, and he brings up a statistic like that — and I know you’re trying to make a big deal out of it, but you shouldn’t be. You should actually go over to the hospital and find out why. You shouldn’t be asking me. I’m just saying that’s the way it is.

Just this past Saturday during his morning Twitter rage, Trump tweeted:

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How about you name your unnamed source for your conspiracy theory that medical professionals in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients are stealing PPE out “the back door” rather than using it for treating patients. Americans wants to know who your source is (if he even actually exists). I suspect it is “John Baron,” “John Miller” or “David Dennison,” Trump’s fake alter egos.

This is not just a New York problem. The Washington Post reported on March 27, U.S. cities have acute shortages of masks, test kits, ventilators as they face coronavirus threat:

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. mayors who responded to a national survey on coronavirus preparedness said they lack sufficient tests kits, face masks and other protective equipment for their emergency responders and medical workers, while 85 percent said they do not have enough ventilators for their hospitals — critical shortages that could lead cities and towns to be quickly overwhelmed should the virus spread through their communities.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey, published Friday, was conducted from March 20 to March 24 and includes data from 213 U.S. cities in 41 states and Puerto Rico, representing a combined population of 42 million. The shortages of essential items and equipment the cities are facing “has reached crisis proportions,” according to the report.

“Despite their best efforts, most cities do not have and cannot obtain adequate equipment and supplies needed to protect their residents,” the report says. “This is a life-threatening crisis that will continue unless the federal government does everything in its power to help us safeguard our first responders and health care workers — our first line of defense — and the millions of other public servants in our cities whose work today puts them at risk.”

“Taken together, the cities reported a need for 28.5 million face masks, 24.4 million items of personal protective equipment such as gowns and gloves, 7.9 million test kits and 139,000 ventilators.”

Mother Jones reported, The US Sent Tons of Medical Supplies to China Even as Senators Warned of Virus Threat Here:

The United States government sent nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to China—including masks and respirators—almost three weeks after the first case of the coronavirus was reported in the state of Washington.

In a press release from the State Department dated Feb. 7, the agency announced it was prepared to spend up to $100 million to assist China as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to rise there. The day the press release went out, Trump tweeted that he spoke with China’s President Xi Jinping and that China would be “successful especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker and then gone.”

[T]his release of vital medical supplies came two days after several senators, including Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, offered to allocate congressional emergency funding for preventative health measures and research to ward off the virus in the United States—and President Donald Trump turned it down.

Trump would go on to call the virus the Democrats’ “new hoax” and deny that it posed a risk to Americans for weeks after that.

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On Wednesday, [however], the Trump administration asked the international community for donations of equipment, including N-95 masks, gloves, respirators, and hand sanitizer.

The Arizona Mirror reported, States given expired protective gear, workers ‘hoping for the best’:

Arizona and other states are receiving old or expired medical supplies from the federal stockpile that are more likely to fail, including the N95 masks that are essential to protect health care workers from COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice: Use them anyway.

The shortage of vital medical supplies, such as masks and ventilators, in the face of COVID-19 has led public health officials to advise hospital workers to reuse personal protective equipment (PPE), and to make due with what is available, relying on home-made masks and bandanas.

But as increasing numbers of health care workers contract the coronavirus, doctors and nurses are saying they need better protection, taking to Twitter with the hashtag #GetMePPE.

Last Friday, the largest union of registered nurses in the country, National Nurses United, called for a coordinated effort to release and distribute PPE from state and federal stockpiles.

The CDC issued a statement last month noting that some U.S. stockpiles included N95 respirators that exceeded their manufacturer-designated shelf life and that government officials were deciding whether to release these products.

Now states are receiving shipments from federal stockpiles with expired products, but the CDC has said they are safe enough to use.

Dr. Stephen Parodi with the health giant Kaiser Permanente said this is the new reality, and healthcare workers are learning to adapt.

“We’ve already moved toward N95 reuse, extended use. We actually accessed some of the national strategic stockpile and some of those masks are expired, so we’re actually using those as well, using CDC and local public health guidance,” he said in an interview with Journal of the American Medical Association editor-in-chief Howard Bachner.

The Washington Post reported on March 26, the U.S. government has 1.5 million expired N95 masks sitting in an Indiana warehouse:

Nearly 1.5 million N95 respirator masks are sitting in a U.S. government warehouse in Indiana and authorities have not shipped them because they are past their expiration date, despite Centers for Disease Control guidelines that have been issued for their safe use during the coronavirus outbreak, according to five people with knowledge of the stockpile.

Department of Homeland Security officials had a conference call Wednesday to figure out what to do with the masks, which are part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s emergency supplies … CBP has no plans to offer the masks to hard-hit hospitals, or hand them over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, three of the people said.

Let’s be clear: Doctors And Nurses Fighting The Coronavirus Outbreak Are Getting Sick And Dying — And No One Is Keeping Track:

Health care workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak across the country are getting sick and dying, nurses and doctors say. And despite the fact that they’re essential to fighting the epidemic, no one in the US seems to be keeping track.

Doctors, nurses, and others in health care have sounded the alarm for weeks that a lack of access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks and gloves, has left them at a high risk of getting exposed as they fight the virus that’s already killed more than 1,000 people in the country.

Now, they say, their fears are being realized.

“There is not one among us who is not frightened stepping through these hospital doors each day to simply continue doing our job,” Dawn Aldinger, a 59-year-old longtime nurse in Seattle, told BuzzFeed News. “I, for one, have updated my will as I am doubtful I will survive this healthcare crisis.”

And if health care workers get sick, there are cascading impacts that will affect everybody else. Doctors and nurses who keep working while infected can expose more people. If these workers go home to recover, then there are fewer of them to tend to the growing number of infections popping up across the country. If they are so critically ill that they need to seek help, there will be less resources available to treat the general public.

Despite the urgency of protecting health care workers, few states are prioritizing keeping track of whether they are testing positive or dying. Out of the 10 states currently leading the country for infections and deaths contacted by BuzzFeed News, California is the only one publicly reporting on infected health care workers.

And it’s not just doctors and nurses who need this PPE. First responders — police, fire, and EMT — are being infected for a lack of adequate PPE. Police in several cities test positive for coronavirus, stirring fears of spread among first responders:

[There is] a mounting toll across the country as police officers and other first responders are falling ill with the coronavirus. Departments are now grappling with mounting infections in their own ranks as they navigate an extraordinary public health emergency.

In New York, hundreds of uniformed officers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Infections have also been confirmed in departments in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Miami Beach, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans and Philadelphia, among others, along with sheriff’s offices across the country.

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[O]fficers continue to confront the virus, with departments nationwide quarantining waves of officers for possible exposure. Three Tampa officers were potentially exposed after giving CPR to a person they later learned was infected. Officials in New Jersey said Saturday that 700 officers statewide have tested positive for the coronavirus. In New Orleans, a police spokesman said about 5 percent of the force is sick or in quarantine.

Some agencies are mourning officers and personnel who have died of the virus. Detroit police said a 38-year-old 911 operator died Monday, and Capt. Jonathan Parnell, a three-decade veteran of the department, died Tuesday. The Wayne County, Mich., sheriff’s office said Donafay Collins, a 63-year-old commander, died Wednesday.

The New York Police Department said Thursday that Dennis Dickson, a custodial staffer at police headquarters, was the department’s first death from the virus. The toll only grew after that. On Friday evening, the NYPD said another civilian employee — Giacomina Barr-Brown, who worked in a precinct roll call office — had become the second. Then, on Saturday, the department said Det. Cedric Dixon had died.

So doctors, nurses and first responders are stealing PPE “out the backdoor” only so they can get sick and die in the performance of their duties? That’s some conspiracy theory, Donny boy. Do you really want to piss off the very people you must rely on to save your miserable life with your insane conspiracy theories?

While there are anecdotal reports of PPE being stolen from hospitals, Donald Trump is using this as a distraction and deflection from the failures of his administration to adequately plan, manage and distribute badly needed medical supplies in this crisis. There is No evidence for Trump’s suggestion that masks are ‘going out the back door’ of New York hospitals:

There’s no evidence that theft is driving up New York City’s needs for personal protective equipment, or PPE — though there were anecdotal reports of medical supply theft weeks ago. But there is ample evidence that the highly contagious virus and fast-growing rate of infection is taxing and overburdening New York’s hospitals.

* * *

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instruct that protective equipment be used for a single patient interaction and then removed, the agency is already giving medical personnel guidelines and strategies on how to ration supplies, including reusing masks or even using bandannas when there are no masks.

New York’s public hospital network, NYC Health + Hospitals, has 11 hospitals in the city. They are reusing masks when deemed appropriate by the health care worker, a hospital official said.

Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said in a statement that New York’s health care workers “are treating exploding numbers of COVID-19 patients around the clock — willingly and without complaint.”

Raske noted his daughter, an ICU nurse in New York City, is among them.

“They deserve better than their president suggesting PPE is ‘going out the back door’ of New York hospitals,” he added.

Rather than falsely accusing doctors, nurses and first responders of being thieves who are stealing PPE to profiteer off this crisis, Donald Trump should be thanking these fearless public servants for their unselfish service at risk to their own lives at every opportunity.

But it is always all about him.




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