4/14 COVID19 News Update

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Tue, 04/14/2020 - 1:30pm

As the coronavirus devastates New York, shocking statistics have come out revealing gross disproportions in its death toll.  Of ten thousand dead in New York, three thousand four hundred are Latinx and two thousand eight hundred are Black.  In Oregon, the death rate has shown an acceleration since April, and fifty-three Oregonians are dead from coronavirus infection, according to the most recent accounting by the Oregon Health Authority.  The greatest single center of deaths in Oregon continues to be senior care facilities.


In the wake of the disastrous slow-walking of COVID-19 testing in the US by the Trump Administration, the FDA has loosened restrictions on a different kind of test, that would show whether a person has antibodies that indicate whether they have survived a coronavirus infection.  At Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, researchers have developed a blood test that can detect antibody responses in people who have been exposed to the virus.


Antibodies are reactive proteins created when a person's immune system is fighting off a virus. Dr. Aneesh Mehta, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Emory School of Medicine, says the test can be processed in about 24 hours.  The Emory test would indicate whether a person has developed antibodies after being exposed to COVID-19 at some point in time.  Mehta says the test is highly sensitive and targets a very specific protein on the surface of the virus.  He did not say whether the test would become widely available.  A local Atlanta news station quoted Mehta saying "If someone has antibodies that are positive on this test, if we detect antibodies on this test, we are very confident they did become infected, and [that] they had COVID 19, whether they had mild, or moderate, or severe, or maybe very little symptoms at all."  The FDA has not fully approved any antibody tests for the coronavirus, but according to CNN,  one test -- made by Cellex Inc. -- has been granted emergency use authorization.  Since the FDA issued the policy, more than 70 developers have come forward with antibody tests, the agency said on April 7.  The lack of extensive testing may produce spotty results, according to at least one doctor.  However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, said last week "Within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of [antibody] tests that are available." Though it is far too late to begin widespread contact-tracing with tests for live coronavirus, the introduction of antibody tests could allow some normalization of human activities with persons who have presumably become immune to re-infection.  Some analysts believe that the apparent re-infection phenomenon observed in South Korea may actually be due to false positives from the initial testing, rather than a second infection with the novel coronavirus.

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Madrid, 14 (RHC) The Government of Spain has announced its support of the UN effort to remove deadly US sanctions against Cuba during the pandemic. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has called for an end to sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, so that they can acquire medical supplies amid the global health crisis.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union (EU) and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, said "We have to make sure that everyone has the means to fight this pandemic." The Spanish minister made the statement while participating in a videoconference meeting with the EU foreign ministers held Friday, where the matter was discussed.

Spanish Minister Laya explained that all sanctions have a humanitarian clause, to allow assistance in case of emergency, and Covid-19 definitely qualifies as that sort of contingency, he said, so it is now necessary for the world to arbitrate, so that this exception is implemented against the sanctions.  The US has continually impoverished Cuba with sanctions for sixty years now, to punish its people for choosing socialism.

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The Washington Post says in an article by Jeff Stein that eighty-two percent of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to people who receive more than $1 million annually. That is according to a report by a nonpartisan congressional body expected to be released today.

The giveaway package, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The previous limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other massive tax cuts to wealthy businesses. According to the article, "Suspending the limitation will cost taxpayers about $90 billion in 2020 alone, part of a set of tax changes that will add close to $170 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the nonpartisan congressional body."  Meanwhile the Trump Treasury Department has given banks approval to confiscate $1200.00 relief checks to pay outstanding debts.

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Strikers have demanded hazard pay, personal protective equipment, and other changes in several service-related industries in California and around the nation.  Strikes have been organized in the last two weeks at WalMart, Family Dollar, Food Lion, Macdonald's, Whole Foods, Domino's Pizza, Target, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Popeye's, Perdue meat processing, and Amazon, among others.  Medical workers have also mounted pickets. Service workers faced with sickness, death and the possibility of infecting their loved ones are questioning the ethics and sustainability of working for low wages for wealthy owners and corporations.  

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The International Monetary Fund has issued a stark warning on the state of the global economy, saying "Under the assumption that the pandemic and required containment peaks in the second quarter for most countries in the world, and recedes in the second half of this year, in the April World Economic Outlook we project global growth in 2020 to fall to -3 percent. This is a downgrade of 6.3 percentage points from January 2020, a major revision over a very short period. This makes the Great Lockdown the worst recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the Global Financial Crisis. Assuming the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020 and that policy actions taken around the world are effective in preventing widespread firm bankruptcies, extended job losses, and system-wide financial strains, we project global growth in 2021 to rebound to 5.8 percent.
This recovery in 2021 is only partial as the level of economic activity is projected to remain below the level we had projected for 2021, before the virus hit. The cumulative loss to global GDP over 2020 and 2021 from the pandemic crisis could be around 9 trillion dollars, greater than the economies of Japan and Germany, combined."

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