News update 5/4/20

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Air date: 
Mon, 05/04/2020 - 4:00pm

The Oregon death count from coronavirus has continued to slow, and Health officials are cautiously optimistic that the physical distancing and stay at home measures were imposed early enough to flatten the curve in Oregon.

According to the Oregonian newspaper, the number of people in Oregon sick enough to be hospitalized with coronavirus hit a new low Sunday, with state officials reporting 92 active hospitalizations.

That number represents a significant drop of more than 40% from the 156 people hospitalized on April 7th.

There were also zero reported deaths from the coronavirus yesterday in Oregon.

Of those hospitalized in the state, the Oregonian reports that 33 are in intensive care and 18 require ventilators to help them breathe.

But the overall decrease in hospitalizations in recent weeks means fewer people are being admitted with new cases of coronavirus, even after accounting for deaths.

Oregon has one of the lowest infection rates in the country among residents tested. 

Governor Kate Brown announced a statewide stay-at-home order March 23 but is now looking to reopen parts of the economy.

Some rural counties or regions with no or few infections could reopen starting May 15th. 

There’s no timeline for Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas or Marion counties, where 75% of all infections statewide have been identified.

 

In national news:

Donald Trump has shunned both national health experts and international agencies urging cooperation to battle the global pandemic of COVID19. This weekend he praised armed protesters in Michigan, some of whom carried confederate flags, swastikas and nooses into the state capitol. He then proceeded to push an economic reopening that economic reporter Dan Friedman likened to “large scale negligent homicide”, and fired the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General for honestly admitting the widespread shortage of protective gear across the country.

 

According to the New York Times, in recent weeks, Trump fired an inspector general involved in the inquiry that led to the president's impeachment, nominated a White House aide to another key inspector general post overseeing virus relief spending and moved to block still another inspector general from taking over as chairman of a pandemic spending oversight panel.

 

Trump has been pushing another stimulus package that would provide no help to the tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans, but would instead be a ruse to undermine and dismantle the social security system. Calling it a quote “payroll tax cut”, the bill would gut social security and medicare funding.

Economists told reporters from Common Dreams that a payroll tax cut—unlike additional direct payments, which Trump has opposed—would do nothing for those who have been thrown out of work by the coronavirus crisis.

University of Michigan economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers wrote in a New York Times op-ed in March that a payroll tax cut would give "the biggest breaks to those with the biggest paychecks, and deliver nothing to those who have lost their pay."

 

In addition, the Trump administration has decided to disproportionately allocate Covid-19 relief funds to higher-revenue hospitals while restricting the flow of aid to providers that primarily serve low-income people.

Dr. Assaad Sayah of the Cambridge Health Alliance told the LA Times that this is likely to deepen inequalities in America's healthcare system, as tens of billions of dollars of federal assistance go primarily to large medical systems that serve higher-income patients with Medicare or private health insurance.

 

Trump has also backed an evangelical church in Virginia that decided to hold a mega-church service while the state was under stay-at-home orders from the Governor, and today stated that the death toll from coronavirus in the US could be quote “75 or 80 or a hundred thousand people”, while at the same time praising himself and his administration’s response to the outbreak.

 

All of these moves by the administration point to a disjointed, uncoordinated and anti-science response to the coronavirus crisis. Some have called for the removal of Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of the President for physical or mental impairment that prevents the President from doing their job.

John D. Feerick, a legal scholar and a key architect of the amendment, said the framers contemplated nightmare scenarios including “situations where the President might be kidnapped or captured, under an oxygen tent at the time of enemy attack, or bereft of speech or sight.”

Section four of the 25th Amendment involves scenarios in which the President suffers from some kind of mental-health issue that they might not recognize but others around them did. 

President Eisenhower wrote at the time that quote, “If a man were so deranged that he thought he was able, and the consensus was that he [wasn’t], there would have to be something else done.”

 

A reminder to all our listeners that the Governors of Oregon and Washington have issued executive orders for all residents to stay home unless doing essential work or going out to make essential purchases. This helps slow the spread of this virus, and appears to be working in both states – as long as people continue to follow the orders to remain home and stay separated from other people.

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