Is What We’re Being Told About The Coronavirus Pandemic Wrong?

Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter|Posted: Apr 05, 2020 12:01 AM

Predicting the future is a tough racket. If people were any good at it, we’d all be multiple lottery winners. Since we aren’t, that’s a pretty good indication that we have the ability to guess what will happen, but possess no clairvoyance. That brings us to today, when the country and the world are shut down over what is expected to happen with the coronavirus. Like everything else, the predictions aren’t panning out. Were this just $2 wasted on a lottery ticket it wouldn’t matter. But are we hurting millions of people and spending trillions of dollars on nothing more than a hunch based on computer models that are wildly inaccurate?

There’s no question the coronavirus is deadly and dangerous, but is it going to kill hundreds of thousands in the US and millions around the world? We have no idea. All we have are guesses. But if you’re going to destroy the economy and severely restrict people’s lives, you’d better have some damn good information backing up your actions. There are questions about the computer models being used to impose just that.

One prominent model in the shutdown is from the University of Washington, from their Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), funded by Bill and Melinda Gates. How closely does what they predicted track with reality so far? Turns out, not so well.

While the reporting data from some states are lagging, others have provided information that calls into question the validity of the whole model, and with it, all the actions taken by government.CARTOONS | MICHAEL RAMIREZVIEW CARTOON

On April 4th, for example, the IHME model predicted there would be between 120,963 and 203,436 Americans requiring hospitalization, with the average of that range being 164,745. In reality, there were 18,998.

Before your jaw goes through the floor, it must be noted that not all states have reported their numbers, so the actual total is incomplete. The largest states have reported, so the missing numbers from places like Kansas or even Michigan will add to that total, but still will not get it anywhere near the projections.

That’s just hospitalizations, when it comes to intensive care beds, the difference between the projections and reality show an equally large gap. The average projected ICU beds needed on April 4th was 31,057; the reality was 4,686. That’s across the country, not just New York. Even after factoring in the caveats about missing states, that’s a miss akin to swinging and striking out on a pickoff to second base.

So what other models are federal and state authorities using that justify the actions they’ve taken? The simple, horrifying answer is we just don’t know. The government isn’t sharing their models and data with the public, which is odd.

Mitigation efforts like social distancing and the like may be a factor, but these models supposedly took that into consideration.

Are the modelers making assumptions based on the horrific numbers out of places like Italy? That doesn’t make much sense when you consider the difference between our countries – quality of care, number of ICU beds, average age of citizens, etc.

As of this writing, there are 7,810 deaths in the United States attributed to the pandemic. More than 7,000 Americans die every single day, on average, of everything. Over the course of this pandemic, this has amounted to a noticeable but still mild uptick above that average over the course of it. Add to that the directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to count any death tangentially related to COVID-19, and you have to wonder if that number actually holds. That directive reads, “COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.” (The emphasis in bolding is theirs.) 

So what is going on? Where is the truth? Are we on the verge of a massive crush of cases and deaths, or are we destroying ourselves over the equivalent of tarot card reading gone wrong? I don’t know, but I do know we need answers and we need them now.

If we had a media capable of doing their jobs, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx would be pressed on all of this, hard, at the White House daily briefing. Since we don’t, we get Jim Acosta pulling months old quotes from President Trump attempting a “gotcha” moment that CNN’s audience and Jim’s ego craves. So-called journalists are attacking Fox News for allegedly spreading misinformation, even though they were sounding warning bells back in January, while the rest of the media were busy calling the president a racist for banning travel from China and wasted a week arguing with Republicans over how it was supposedly racist to point out a virus that originated in China originated in China.

Predicting the future is near-impossible. Shutting down a planet based on predictions is crazy, especially when the predictions aren’t coming true in real-time. If in the next week, these numbers from the models don’t start to jive with reality, President Trump needs to seriously consider not only reopening the country but also firing everyone involved in advising him based on those models. If they do start to line up, then may God have mercy on everyone. 

Coronavirus is serious and deadly, especially to vulnerable people, but just how serious and deadly is one of many questions we need an answer to, and we need it now. 

Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter

As outbreak spreads, schools face dilemma in going online

By MICHELLE R. SMITH and COLLIN BINKLEY

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — When the new coronavirus surfaced at Saint Raphael Academy after a school group returned from a trip to Italy, officials decided to close the Rhode Island Catholic high school for two weeks.

Instead of cancelling classes, the school in Pawtucket instituted “virtual days” where students are expected to work from home, check for assignments through an online portal and occasionally chat with teachers.

A few miles away, a public charter school also closed after a teacher who attended the same Italy trip awaited test results. But at Achievement First, the two days off were treated like snow days — no special assignments and no expectation that kids keep up their schoolwork.

As more schools across the United States close their doors because of the coronavirus, they are confronted with a dilemma in weighing whether to shut down and move classes online, which could leave behind the many students who don’t have computers, home internet access or parents with flexible work schedules. As the closures accelerate, children at some schools, like Saint Raphael, will be able to continue some form of learning, while children at schools with fewer technological or other resources, may simply miss out.MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

The deep technological and wealth gap that exists nationwide between poor and affluent students has made the coronavirus outbreak even more challenging for school officials, who are wrestling with not only health and safety decisions but also questions about the ethics of school closures.

These deliberations have been playing out in schools all around the country during the outbreak, from urban districts in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles to rural ones in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.

“If we shut down for a week or two weeks, and some of the kids can do it but some can’t, what do you do?” said Edward Albert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. “There are some places that don’t even have phone service.”

Although widespread closures are a new development in the United States, they are already a reality in nations that have been hit harder by the virus. The United Nations’ education agency, UNESCO, says nearly 300 million children in 22 countries on three continents were being affected by school closures last week. In response, it has begun supporting online learning programs.

In hard-hit Washington, education officials recommended against schools moving instruction online unless they can ensure equal access for all students, including those with disabilities or without internet access. The state’s education agency advised schools that it would make more sense to cancel school and make up classes at the end of the year.

“We are putting out a word of caution about the equity lens,” said Rhett Nelson, director of alternative learning at the state’s education department. “We want to discourage practices that disproportionately impact certain populations, especially those that are more at risk.”

Schools also have to consider whether closures are actually beneficial to public health. Very few cases have been found in children and teenagers, and experts caution schools to think about factors such as harms to children’s education and absenteeism among health care workers whose kids have to stay home.

“There’s not strong evidence that closing schools will have a meaningful public health benefit,” said Jennifer Nuzzo of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

In Los Angeles, teachers are raising concerns about an emergency plan to move classes online. So far, it’s unclear how the district would reach students whose families can’t afford laptops or internet service, said Alex Orozco, of the district’s teachers union. New York officials say they’re considering closings only as a last resort, citing concerns that it would disrupt daily life for thousands of families.

Some districts plan to distribute Wi-Fi hotspots to students without internet access, and others say they will provide computers to every student. Public schools in Miami say they’re readying more than 200,000 laptops ready to go home in case classes move online.

In the Northshore School District near Seattle, which shifted its classes online as of Monday, officials are loaning computers and hotspots to students who need them. They’re also providing to-go meals to address concerns about children who get free lunch going hungry.

Dozens of U.S. schools have announced closures of one or two days to disinfect schools, and some are shutting down for longer. Public schools in Scarsdale, New York, are canceling classes through March 18 with no plans to move online after a school worker tested positive. The 64,000-student Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento, California, closed through Friday after a district family was placed on quarantine.

Colleges were also moving classes online, including the University of Washington, Stanford University, Princeton University and Columbia.Full Coverage: Virus Outbreak

The closures have proved to be a boon for some online schools and tech companies that help schools teach online. Many say they’re seeing increased demand for services, while some are offering to help schools for free. Among them is Google, which is giving schools free access to larger video conferences.

The Leyden High School District near Chicago has been offering “E-Learning Days” for four years when bad weather arrives. All students are given tablets, and they can get free Wi-Fi hotspots if needed. But the practice is normally used only a day at a time, and Superintendent Nick Polyak questions whether it could be sustained for longer stretches.

“We could do something really high-quality for a week. If it’s a month, I don’t know that we could,” Polyak said. “Not every student can just log on to a computer and participate. What do we do with our English language students? What to do with cafeteria workers and bus drivers? Do they just lose pay?”

Similar concerns have led some schools to plan for outright closures rather than virtual classes. An hour outside Lincoln, Nebraska, officials at Johnson-Brock Public School say they aren’t considering online options because internet accessibility is too spotty in their rural community. Instead, the district of 250 students would plan to close and make up days later.

Some other schools are planning for low-tech options, like packets of work that could be sent home every week. Even schools equipped with technology are considering that option for younger students who don’t use online learning software.

At the charter school in Providence, Achievement First closed for cleaning while it awaited a teacher’s coronavirus test results. She ended up testing negative and the school reopened after just two days.

Soraida Morales’ three children attend the school. She still had to go to work at her pharmacy job, but was able to depend on her parents for childcare while she worked. They are also fortunate to have a laptop at home, a luxury that many families in the district don’t have. The school serves a large number of English language learners, and the vast majority are considered economically disadvantaged.

Holly Taylor Coolman has two sophomores at the Pawtucket Catholic school shut down for two weeks. She and her husband are both college professors and have the flexibility to stay home with them and their 4th grader, a decision they made so they would not put anyone else at risk. She jokes that her family is in “quaranteen” as she keeps her kids on a strict schedule to keep up with coursework online.

She also recognizes that her family is fortunate to have the flexibility they do, and she wonders about what other families will do who don’t have the same kind of privilege.

“There’s this much bigger question about how are kids faring right now, who don’t have two parents at home or don’t have any parent at home,” she said.

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Binkley reported from Boston.

Coronavirus Outbreak 5 to 10 Times Worse Than China Admits: Study

BY EVA FU The Epoch Times

The deadly coronavirus that is morphing into a global threat could have infected five to 10 times more people than Chinese officials have acknowledged, a group of U.S. researchers said.

The Feb. 18 study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was co-led by Lucia Dunn, economics professor at Ohio State University, and Mai He, pathology professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

Drawing from both official and unofficial data sources, the study suggested the cumulative infections and deaths could be “substantially higher” than officially stated—by a factor of 5 to 10.

“So many people are doubting the numbers in China … that we think we should look at alternative numbers,” Dunn said in an interview with The Epoch Times.

The data was pulled from official figures; a mobile mapping site from Chinese tech giant Tencent; and reported cremations at funeral homes in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Anomalous infection numbers appeared briefly on at least two separate occasions on Tencent News, an online news portal that provides real-time tracking of official outbreak data. On Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, the platform reported a cumulative infection (including both confirmed and suspected cases) of more than 213,000 and 233,000 each. In contrast, Wuhan authorities on Feb. 2 reported 14,380 confirmed infections and less than 20,000 suspected cases—only a tenth of the Tencent figure.

The numbers on Tencent were gone in a few hours, although not before Chinese netizens snapped screenshots and circulated them around the internet.

Rather than dismissing these figures as a technical glitch, Dunn said the Tencent data may be an unintentional “leak” that offers a clue at the outbreak’s true scale.

The Epoch Times and other media outlets interviewed staff at several major Wuhan crematoriums, who said they have been operating 24 hours per day since late January, which is five times—or 20 more hours per day—higher than their regular workload. According to the researchers’ calculations of an annual case fatality rate of 0.551 percent, the additional operating hours at the funeral homes implied an additional 680 deaths than normal on a daily average, according to the study. The researchers suspect the spike to be a direct result of the outbreak.

Based on a Lancet study which projected that infection numbers could double every 6.4 days, the researchers came up with death rates for different scenarios, ranging from 2.8 percent to as high as 32.8 percent.

Dunn said they then estimated from those numbers the outbreak’s starting time, which they found to be between Sept. 25 and Nov. 5.

Wuhan authorities first announced the existence of a mysterious pneumonia on Dec. 31 involving dozens of cases, and claimed that the first patient exhibited symptoms in early December.

But based on the findings, Dunn said Chinese officials would have known it a lot earlier.

Due to the lack of transparency in China, the researchers were not able to independently verify numbers from Chinese sources firsthand, and therefore the estimates can only serve as an approximate.

There’s a sense that the “[Chinese] government numbers are definitely too low,” and “off by orders of a magnitude,” Dunn said.

A recent report (pdf) by the Imperial College London also suggested a case fatality rate of 18 percent in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.

“We are beginning to feel really confident that we have no confidence in the government numbers,” Dunn said.

Cover-Up

Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist and one of the eight medical professionals who tried to warn fellow medics about the virus the day before the official announcement, was reprimanded by local police for spreading rumors. He later died from the virus after treating an infected person.

“The government covered it up,” Dunn said, noting that Chinese authorities fired the Wuhan and Hubei Party chiefs amid growing public anger of how they handled the outbreak.

Zhou Xiangyang, mayor of Wuhan, later admitted to the city government’s failure to make timely disclosures about the outbreak, but said he “could only publish information” after clearing it with central authorities.

“You see why nobody wants to put it [information] out there … These guys lose their job when it’s known that they have some big catastrophe brewing, so nobody wants to come forward with that kind of bad news,” Dunn said.

“Communist governments always suppress information, keep information from their citizens—especially when it’s bad news. And this is what we have to show for it,” she added.

Crematoriums

The Epoch Times has spoken with dozens of Wuhan residents who were denied treatment at hospitals due to the overwhelming number of infected coronavirus patients.

In a Feb. 4 undercover investigation, a senior official at a Wuhan funeral home told The Epoch Times that the facility’s daily intake has drastically increased since Jan. 22, the day before the city issued an unprecedented lockdown to quarantine residents in an effort to contain the outbreak. Chinese health officials have required people who die from the virus to be cremated.

The official said the funeral home’s workload was around four to five times more than normal. On Feb. 3, it peaked at processing 127 bodies. Under pressure to keep up with the demand, the facility’s workers have been working round the clock even through the Lunar New Year, China’s biggest public holiday. He said two other major crematoriums in Wuhan were also on overdrive.

“I count myself as blessed if I can sleep for two or three hours a day,” he said in the interview, adding that they would need at least 40 to 50 more workers to cope with the need.

Researchers Worried about Stealth Properties of COVID-19

In South Korea, Singapore and Iran, clusters of infections are leading to a jump in cases of the new viral illness outside China. But it’s not the numbers that are worrying experts: It’s that increasingly they can’t trace where the clusters started.

World Health Organization officials said China’s crackdown on parts of the country bought time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus. But as hot spots emerge around the globe, trouble finding each source — the first patient who sparks every new cluster — might signal the disease has begun spreading too widely for tried-and-true public health steps to stamp it out.

“A number of spot fires, occurring around the world is a sign that things are ticking along, and what we are going to have here is probably a pandemic,” said Ian Mackay, who studies viruses at Australia’s University of Queensland.

That worst-case isn’t here yet, the WHO insists. It isn’t convinced that countries outside China need more draconian measures, but it pointed to spikes in cases in Iran and South Korea to warn that time may be running out to contain the virus.

“What we see is a very different phase of this outbreak depending where you look,” said WHO’s Dr. Sylvie Briand. “We see different patterns of transmission in different places.”

The World Health Organization defines a “global pandemic” as a disease spreading on two continents, though some public health experts would call an outbreak a pandemic if the spread is over a wide area or across many international borders.

The newest red flag: Iran has reported 28 cases, including five deaths, in just days. The cluster began in the city of Qom, a popular religious destination, but it’s not clear how. Worse, infected travelers from Iran already have been discovered in Lebanon and Canada.

In South Korea, most of the hundreds of new cases detected since Wednesday are linked to a church in the city of Daegu and a nearby hospital. But health authorities have not yet found the “index case,” the person among the church’s 9,000 followers who set off the chain of infections.

There also have been several cases in the capital, Seoul, where the infection routes have not yet been traced. In Europe, Italy saw cases of the new virus more than quadruple in a day as it grapples with infections in a northern region that apparently have spread through a hospital and a cafe.

A cluster of cases isn’t inherently worrying — in fact, it’s expected as an infection that’s easy to spread is carried around the world by travelers. The first line of defense: Isolate the sick to treat them and prevent further spread, and quarantine people who came in contact with them until the incubation period is over.

But as the virus becomes more widespread, trying to trace every contact would be futile, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged earlier this month.

“If we still hospitalize and isolate every suspect case, our hospitals will be overwhelmed,” he said. So far, the city-state has identified five clusters of transmission, including two churches. But there remain eight locally transmitted cases with no links to earlier cases, or to China.

Viruses vary in how they infect. The new coronavirus — unlike its cousins SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, and MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome — spreads as easily as a common cold.

And it’s almost certainly being spread by people who show such mild symptoms that no one can tell, said Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“If that’s the case, all of these containment methods are not going to work,” Adalja said. “It’s likely mixed in the cold and flu season all over the place, in multiple countries” and gone unnoticed until someone gets severely ill.

These milder symptoms are good news “in terms of not as many people dying,” said Mackay, of Australia. “But it’s really bad news if you are trying to stop a pandemic,” he added.

When Hong Kong reported it first death from the virus earlier this month, it also confirmed three locally transmitted cases with no known link to any previous cases or any travel history to China. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection warned then that “there could be invisible chains of infection happening within communities.”

Officials in both South Korea and Japan have signaled in the past week that the spread is entering a new phase in their countries.

On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said the government would have to shift its focus from quarantine and border control to slowing the spread of the virus. Schools and churches were closed and some mass gatherings banned.

Takaji Wakita, head of Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, earlier urged people to work at home or in shifts to avoid being in a crowd, and refrain from holding non-essential and non-urgent meetings.

But Adalja cautioned that far-reaching measures like China instituted in the outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan — where citizens have been ordered to stay in their homes for weeks — can backfire. While it remains to be seen if the new virus is waning, that kind of lockdown makes it hard for people to get other critically important care, like fast treatment for a heart attack.

There’s no way to predict if the recent clusters will burn out or trigger widespread transmission.

For now, health officials should try and contain the infection for as long as possible while preparing for a change in strategy by preparing hospitals, readying protective equipment and bolstering laboratory capacity, said Gagandeep Kang, a microbiologist who leads India’s Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.

“Although the window of opportunity is narrowing to contain the outbreak, we still have a chance to contain it,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But while doing that, we have to prepare at the same time for any eventualities, because this outbreak could go any direction – it could even be messy.”

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Ghosal reported from New Delhi. Neergaard reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story.

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All contents © copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 AND THE WEST COAST HOMELESS – A PERFECT RECIPE FOR A DISASTER

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Coronavirus and the U.S. homeless. Not a very good combination. It is what horror movie-plots sound like, except this script hasn’t been written, even though the writing is on the wall, smeared in covid-19 infected feces.

The thought had occurred to me that the real threat of the Corona Virus in America may be exacerbated by another social ill, homelessness in 4 of the largest cities on the West coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, 3 of which are major destinations for Chinese travelers.

Consider the following threats:


1) The homeless can act as a carrier for two to three weeks without showing any signs of the the flu, meanwhile acting as a “super-spreader,” infecting other homeless and the general public in highly populated areas.


2) There is no cure and the mortality rate is probably above 3%. Infection rate is 20%, meaning for every ten people you have contact with, 2 of them will get the virus from you if you touch them, share an object (like cash or food), or they breathe your air and are within 2-3 feet of you.


3) There is no cure, detection is extremely difficult, costly and not easily accessible.


4) WHO and the CDC say a vaccination is at least a year away.


Many of us who are watching the virus spread assume that with only 15 cases in the U.S, as of today (2/24), China clearly is more vulnerable because of condensed living conditions. But how do you contain a virus if you don’t know you have it, can easily give it to anyone and there is no easy access to testing?


Let’s look again at how the homeless in LA, SF and Seattle could exacerbate the problem.
According to Acton Institute, which collects homeless population data from across the country, about 200,000 homeless live in California alone (47% of all U.S. homeless live in the Golden State). Most of these homeless are undernourished, have little access to proper health care, and if suffering from severe substance abuse, would not fair well if they contracted COVID-19.


San Francisco already has a feces problem. What if COVID-19 is spread by feces-laced streets of downtown San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose?


One of the virus’ symptoms is diarrhea, the other is pneumonia. Most homeless smoke cigarettes and probably suffer from COPD-related health issues.


All of this makes for a nasty combination of social diseases spreading a mysterious virus to the general population of several million people. Add to this we are supposed to have an especially longer and wetter winter. For the West Coast, we may not see warm and sunny weather until late March, still six weeks away.


This is a wake up call to ALL civic leaders throughout California, and also Seattle and Portland, and even to New York. Any metro where there is a high concentration of homelessness as well as travelers who have returned from China (or the Hubei province) since mid-December. We should prepare for a worst case scenario and start coordinating quarantine centers NOW or face an epidemic that could do to California and elsewhere what COVID-19 is now doing to China.

Wuhan has 11-million people. 6, 000 have died in less than two months from COVID-19. What impact would this kind of mortality rate have on the U.S.? And these deaths have occured in spite of a massive lockdown (there were even videos showing apartment building residents in Wuhan being locked in with workers welding exit doors shut, and in other cases suspected infectious patients being dragged out of their home by local authorities.).

Americans aren’t Chinese, and we don’t take kindly to being rounded up by force as we now see occurring throughout China to stem the outbreak of COVID-19.

According to HUD here is a breakdown of homelessness and those “unsheltered” in major hotspots of homelessness:

Total U.S. Homeless in January 2018: 372,417

California: 194,381

Washington: 26,329

Oregon: 18,251

New York: 39, 827

Once COVID-19 breaches the homeless population, all bets are off.