Monday, April 6, 2020

Out of curiosity, I double checked just when the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in the United States. Turns out it was January 20, in Washington state, about two weeks after the Chinese government confirmed something heavy was going down. That means, depending on how you figure these things, tomorrow we wrap up three full months of dealing with this business.

Since that first case, after a few weeks of government hemming and hawing, along with the right-wing media claiming it was at best overblown by the press and Democratic party to “bring down” the President and at worst biological warfare from China, it has blown up. As of today’s count, there have been over 340,000 confirmed cases and we topped 10,000 deaths today. On the upside, a little over 19,000 people have caught it and recovered from it.

States that were initial hotspots – like California, New York and Washington – have announced they’re seeing some plateauing in cases/deaths. Andrew Cuomo said things are looking better for New York, and Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has said the same thing. Recall, post-Mardi Gras New Orleans saw an explosion of cases.

That being said, the states that weren’t in among those hotspots are bracing to get the shit kicked out of them this week. Here in Mississippi, we’re bracing for a fierce outbreak that experts are saying will peak April 18. As we’ve noted over and over, Mississippi has the unhealthiest population in the country as well as the most number of uninsured people with a median income of just over $27,000 a year. A hundred new cases were reported today, bringing the number up to 1,738 with 51 deaths.

A lot of our problems is, to cut the nonsense, was the feet dragging by newly elected Gov. Tate Reeves. For the long time, he was solidly in the “no big deal” camp, as commanded by Trump, though he made the turnaround early last week. Coincidentally, that’s when someone convinced Trump that this wasn’t something to ignore, but I’m sure that’s not connected.

Interestingly, a lot of the right-wing media voices are still banging the “it’s all overblown” drum. Intellectual leaders Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity were all about the hoax theory early in March but eventually shifted narrative about the same time the President did. They’re outliers, though – and Fox has read the writing on the wall – and most of the howler monkeys are still calling it a “left-wing fabrication/overreaction to bring down the president/destroy the economy” or whatever goofy shit they’re tossing around. And that’s why you don’t pay them any attention. I just thought the Atlantic piece was a good read. So, moving along.

When it comes to cases and deaths, we’re not seeing a lot of breakdown by race. However, to the surprise of absolutely no one, African American communities are taking a disproportionate hit. Whether it’s Chicago or Mississippi, the country seems to be operating as designed. As we’re headed into a week that even Trump’s goofy ass has said will see at least 100,000 deaths, more than 300 hospitals are reporting being underequipped. Still, of course, Trump says that’s “wrong” even though the report comes from his own government.

Of course it’s still too early to say how this will affect Trump’s reelection chances come November. His numbers really haven’t changed to any great degree, maybe picking up a point here or there. Not unusual in a national crisis for people to want to rally around the president, but nothing unexpected. That being said, one of the bigger states that will be in play – because it’s always in play – is seeing him lose support fairly rapidly. That state is Florida, and while it went for Trump in 2016, the stumbling around from him and sleazeball Gov. Ron DeSantis in their response is costing him big league. Of course, the faithful that make up the Base haven’t moved an inch in their worship, but that’s what cults do.

And finally, something to tickle the funny bone. Remember Martin Shkreli? The scummy little douchebag “biotech engineer” who first entered the public consciousness in 2015 when one of his pharmaceutical companies raised the price of an off-patent medicine 5,000% and then smirked his way into prison two years later on an unrelated charge of defrauding investors? That guy. Well, he’s trying to use the whole COVID-19 thing to get out of jail.

Based on a paper published by one of his companies, Shkreli is saying he has the know-how to do what the rest of the pharmaceutical industry has yet to do and is asking for a three-month furlough to come up with a virus. He claims he won’t try to profit from it, even though he’s still running one of his companies from prison. Experts aren’t really all that turned on by a guy with nothing more than a Bachelor’s in business management and an “interest” in chemistry, none of which was made apparent during his initial brush with infamy.

Nothing will probably come of this, of course, but I did notice something disconcerting when I first came across this on Twitter. The guy has a lot of fans. I mean, hardcore fans who’re convinced he either “did nothing wrong” or what he did get caught doing was “how things should go”. And these people were hot about it. Ever see The King Of Comedy? They reminded me of Robert DeNiro’s and especially Sandra Berhhard’s characters.

We’re a country that put a total dingbat incompetent in the highest office in the land because he’s told us he’s super rich for the past 40 years, even though he really didn’t have much a hand in that. So this sort of behavior from the hoi polloi shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does, but it does. I do not get “stanning” for the super-rich. They’re not going to give you money for worshiping them and they barely think you’re human. Get off your knees, man.

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