Public Health

The Big Question for Sports: When Will You Feel Safe Around 20,000 Strangers Again?

Sports will be back. At some point in the possibly distant future, athletes will head back to work in arenas, ballparks and stadiums, and leagues will promise a return to normalcy. There will finally be something to watch on television again. But there are some people who might not be ready so quickly: the fans. What happens next in sports may be beyond the control of leagues and the television networks that pay them billions of dollars. The people with the power are the ones who packed the stands. And sports will only be normal once the public decides it’s socially and psychologically acceptable to be around thousands of strangers again. When they can even begin to think about that is impossible to say. The novel coronavirus has caused so much damage and behaves so unpredictably that major events are canceled deep into the summer. It’s no longer a given that play will resume this year. “Until you’re widely vaccinated,” Bill Gates said last week of mass gatherings, “those may not come back at all.” President Trump told the commissioners of sports leagues on Saturday that he wants fans at games “soon—very soon.” “I want fans back in the arenas,” Trump said. “And the fans want to be back, too.” But the primary challenge for the business is not a political or financial one. It’s behavioral. “The overall biggest long-term problem for sports is the fear associated with public interaction,” Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob said in an email. “When does that go away? When will society decide that it is once again safe to interact in public? That is the big question for sports teams and leagues.” “The good news is that this virus will be beat and things will return to normal,” he wrote. “We know the enemy, and medical knowledge and capabilities are greater than ever in history.” How long that will take is a question that no one in sports is qualified to answer—and epidemiologists, immunologists and infectious disease experts are still trying to wrap their minds around. What they do understand, as the year slips away, is that how sports fans behave mirrors the behavior of large groups in society as a whole. Even if people were allowed into offices tomorrow, it’s uncertain when they would have the appetite to surround themselves with anywhere between 20,000 and 100,000 other fans at stadiums. Some leagues, governing bodies and even the International Olympic Committee have stopped trying to predict the future. The Olympics were postponed until next summer. Wimbledon will skip 2020. Belgium’s top soccer league simply declared a champion last week. The only thing for the rest to do is search for alternative dates and keep waiting. The NBA is exploring the concept of hosting the playoffs in a fan-free bubble if they get clearance from public health officials, while the English Premier League is contemplating a shift for the last quarter of its season to the middle of summer. But there are many skeptics in the NBA, including LeBron James, and the most ruthless soccer league on earth acknowledges that matches will be on hold until the conditions are “safe and appropriate.” Even if they manage to finish this season, they could find themselves in the same position next season. They could also find themselves running into ferocious competition for eyeballs with the NFL and college football—if those seasons begin on time. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Saturday that he doesn’t believe his state’s three NFL teams will be playing in front of fans come September. Amy Huchthausen, commissioner of America East Conference, said that she’s already noted small shifts in her own life that foreshadow larger ones in society. She notices the nearest person on the sidewalk when she’s outside now. That sense of heightened attention figures to be common in crowded stadiums. “I think we’re naive to think that’s not going to persist in a long-term way even when we’re past the virus and past the pandemic,” she said. “I have a hard time believing that once an order is lifted, people are just going to flock to go back to a 50,000-seat or 100,000-seat stadium like they did before.” That would render plans for near-term comebacks as useless as a face mask made of tissue paper. The basketball and soccer leagues in China, where the virus appeared to be dissipating under strict controls, hoped to return to action this month in empty venues. They quickly abandoned those hopes. South Korea canceled the rest of its basketball season. Japan has postponed baseball’s opening day—twice. Players and coaches are reluctant to rush back anyway. Not only do they balk at the prospect of playing in empty stadiums, but they also understand that the globetrotting nature of their jobs is a recipe for constant exposure. “I think we’re going to have to draw a line through the entire 2020 tennis season,” tweeted Amélie Mauresmo, the 2006 Wimbledon champion and former coach of Andy Murray. “No vaccine = no tennis.” Imagining a return to packed stadiums is even harder when the stern lessons of recent mass gatherings are only beginning to be understood. It isn’t just because fans will have less disposable income to spend on sports tickets. It’s also become clear that the outbreak of coronavirus in Northern Italy was turbocharged by a soccer game between Atalanta and Valencia in Milan on Feb. 19. Fans who attended other matches are now wondering if they are sitting on their own time-bombs. Matthew Ashton went to see Liverpool play Atlético Madrid on March 11 at a time when other European countries were already in lockdown. He persuaded his father, a 72-year-old season-ticket holder, to skip one of the club’s biggest matches of the season. But since he was young and healthy, Ashton made a different calculation for himself. “I think it’s the last chance I have to go see Liverpool play this year,” he told his father, who is also a public health expert. “It probably was the wrong decision. In retrospect, you think: Was it really worth it?” The weeks that followed saw a spike in cases in Liverpool that Ashton believes was accelerated by the Atlético match. Once people realize the consequences of being around each other, he said, they might have an unsettling thought: “Oh my God, perhaps I’m not as safe as I once thought I was.’” There’s a reason this is now on Ashton’s mind: Last week he was named the city of Liverpool’s director of public health.

Our thanks to Joshua RobinsonBen Cohen and Laine Higgins for that sobering piece.  

Queen Elizabeth addresses coronavirus pandemic: ‘We will succeed’

Queen Elizabeth II gave a rare address to the nation on Sunday, uplifting the spirits of her people in the United Kingdom and offering hope to her country as it faces the devastating coronavirus pandemic. The reigning monarch acknowledged the suffering that many families have endured because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has infected over 42,000 people in the U.K. and killed at least 4,313 of them, according to researchers. The televised address was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. The location was specifically chosen for the broadcast because it provided enough space between the 93-year-old and the cameraperson, who wore personal protective equipment. “I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,” Elizabeth shared, “a time of disruption in the life of our country; a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.” The Queen also paid tribute to Britain’s beloved National Health Service and others in essential services, together with around 750,000 people who volunteer to help the vulnerable. “I want to thank everyone on the NHS frontline, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all,” she said. “I’m sure the nation will join me in ensuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.” “I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home,” Elizabeth noted on social distancing, “thereby protecting to help the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones. Together we are tackling this disease and I want to reassure you that if we remain united in resolute then we will overcome it.” Elizabeth also remarked history will forever remember how the nation rose to the challenge during the crisis. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said. “And, those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any, that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humored resolve, and of fellow feeling still characterize this country.” “The pride in who we are is not part of our past,” she continued. “It defines our present and our future. The moments when the United Kingdom has come to applaud its care and essential workers will be remembered as an expression of our national spirit. And its symbol will be the rainbows drawn by children. Across the Commonwealth and around the world we have seen heartwarming stories of people coming together to help others. Be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbors, or converting businesses to help the relief effort.” Elizabeth noted that self-isolating can be challenging for those trying to make sense of the pandemic. However, their efforts to flatten the curve are being recognized and honored. “And though self-isolating may at times be hard,” she admitted. “[But] many people of all faiths and of none are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect in prayer or meditation. It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made in 1940 helped by my sister. We as children spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety.” “Today, once again, many will feel a sense of separation from their loved ones,” Elizabeth said. “But now, as then, we know deep down that it is the right thing to do. While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal.” “We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us,” she concluded. “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.” Sunday’s broadcast served as the first time the Queen has addressed the coronavirus on camera. Elizabeth has given yearly Christmas messages but has given an address like this only on three previous occasions. The British royal delivered speeches at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991, before the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, and after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002. The crisis hit close to home for the monarch. Her son and heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, had a mild case of the disease. The Prince of Wales, 71, has since recovered, his office, Clarence House, confirmed.

For more, and to see the video, click on the text above.

USA Today: ‘True’ – ‘No Indication’ Obama Admin Replenished Mask Supply

USA Today conducted a fact check Friday in which the media outlet declared as “true” the claim that the Obama administration failed to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it had run out in the wake of past health crises. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said during the White House coronavirus daily briefing that the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, had been nearly depleted when he assumed office. In the previous week, the Daily Wire had published an article that claimed the Obama administration had failed to restock the supply of masks after the H1N1 health emergency: The Obama administration significantly depleted the federal stockpile of N95 respirator masks to deal with the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009 and never rebuilt the stockpile despite calls to do so, according to reports. According to USA Today: ” We rate this claim TRUE because it is supported by our research. There is no indication that the Obama administration took significant steps to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it was depleted from repeated crises. Calls for action came from experts at the time concerned for the country’s ability to respond to future serious pandemics. Such recommendations were, for whatever reason, not heeded.” On Sunday, however, the Associated Press (AP) continued to blame the Trump administration for having “squandered nearly two months that could have been used to bolster the federal [sic] of critically needed medical supplies and equipment.” “Now, three months into the crisis, that stockpile is nearly drained just as the numbers of patients needing critical care is surging,” AP stated, and received comment from former Obama Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who told the wire service, “We basically wasted two months.” As USA Today noted, however, on Friday, progressive media outlet ProPublica reported funds that were available to the Obama administration were not used to restock the national supply of masks. Though ProPublica blames some of the issues surrounding the depletion of the Strategic National Stockpile on “Tea Party budget battles” at the time, the article stated: With limited resources, officials in charge of the stockpile tend to focus on buying lifesaving drugs from small biotechnology firms that would, in the absence of a government buyer, have no other market for their products, experts said. Masks and other protective equipment are in normal times widely available and thus may not have been prioritized for purchase, they said. As USA Today observed, a 2017 study in the journal Health Security found nearly: … 75 percent of N95 respirators and 25 percent of face masks contained in the CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (∼100 million products) were deployed for use in health care settings over the course of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also stated the country’s stockpile of PPE was taxed during hurricanes Alex, Irene, Isaac, and Sandy, and then later during the 2014 outbreak of Ebola and the 2016 zika virus crisis. These situations “continued to significantly tax the stockpile with no serious effort from the Obama administration to replenish the fund,” reported USA Today.

Thanks to Dr. Susan Berry for that excellent historical assessment which puts this whole issue into context.  To be clear, and USA Today (a VERY liberal news media) confirmed, the national stockpile of 3M N95 masks were seriously depleted, and the OBAMA Administration was told, and did NOTHING to fix that.  So, next time you hear some Democrat governor, Biden (who is running to replace Trump), or any other lying Democrat legislator somehow pin that on Trump, you now know better.

Opinion/Analysis: Former Acting AG Whitaker: Coronavirus is China’s latest affront – US must demand these changes

As a country, we will get through this unprecedented challenge of COVID-19. We are strong and our best days as a nation and as a people are ahead of us. But as we head into a brave new world of living with the novel coronavirus, leaders in Washington need to take a hard look at re-setting our relationship with China for the benefit, health and safety of the American people. This current situation has highlighted several issues that policymakers in Washington, D.C., and around the world must focus on once this current unimaginable crisis subsides. The issues include: America’s reliance on Chinese manufacturing for critical health care items like active pharmaceutical ingredients and personal protective equipment China’s inability or unwillingness to close and regulate “wet markets” within its borders The on-going illicit production of the deadly fentanyl despite promises to end it The continued piracy of intellectual property. Due to decades of globalization and offshoring, much of the manufacturing of critical health care items, including medicines, are made in China. Eighty percent of the basic components used in U.S. drugs, known as active pharmaceutical ingredients, are made in China and a “vast majority” of all medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, are made in China. This cannot continue. The very national security of the United States is at stake. It is believed that this current coronavirus, COVID-19, originated in the “wet market” in Wuhan, China. To read descriptions of how these wet markets operate makes my stomach turn. Basic sanitary protections are too often ignored or unenforced. This leaves the Chinese people, as well as the entire world, vulnerable to contagious outbreaks of novel diseases. In this regard, China is acting like a third world country that is unwilling or unable to follow widely accepted first world practices. Unfortunately, China behaves like a third world country in many other dangerous regards as well. China has been at the epicenter of at least two other third-world actions that have had a devastating effect on the United States and our allies – illicit fentanyl production and intellectual property piracy. The number of Americans dying from COVID-19 continues to increase and the ultimate numbers will be tragic and heartbreaking. The number of Americans dying from opioid overdoses is also devastating and in 2018 resulted in over 45,000 deaths. Many of these opioid deaths were from the very deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, often manufactured in China. President Trump has been at the forefront of this issue, working with China to change its policies. This is also an issue that I worked on at the Department of Justice, traveling to China in 2018 in order to seek cooperation from Chinese law enforcement. Despite the Chinese government’s assurances to end illicit fentanyl production, it appears that they have not lived up to their promises. American ingenuity drives world markets and propels the advancement of science and technology. Chinese economic aggression, exemplified by intellectual property piracy, threatens American industry and is another illustration of China behaving like a third world country. A prime example is the decades-long effort by Huawei to misappropriate intellectual property from U.S. technology companies in an effort to expand its business and gain an unfair competitive advantage. The Chinese government is complicit in refusing to enforce world copyright and trademark rights that every first world country enforces. Intellectual property theft is just another shameful act of defiance of world commercial norms. The case to reevaluate our relationship with China is strong. These violations cannot be ignored by the United States. China should Close all wet markets immediately to end the deadly spread of novel diseases End the illegal production of fentanyl and significantly regulate its precursor chemicals End intellectual property piracy and manufacturing of counterfeit goods In the midst of this global pandemic, instead of working to solve these issues, the Chinese government has reacted by instituting a campaign of disinformation and diplomatic sleight of hand from the highest levels of the Chinese political structure. Audaciously, China’s Foreign Ministry has claimed that the U.S. Army deliberately infected Wuhan with the epidemic. The ever-expanding campaign by the Chinese government to change the origins and details about COVID-19 puts additional lives at risk. Accurate data is essential to stopping the spread and saving lives. If China is unwilling to commit to accepted international norms and to playing by the rules, we must reevaluate our relationship with them, including our policies on trade and travel. Their actions are detrimental to our citizens and to our economy. It is unfortunate that the Chinese people will bear the consequences of the third-world policies of their communist government but allowing the Chinese government to take advantage of the United States certainly won’t ensure our children have a better life than we have had ourselves. The United States has been a fair partner to China. It’s time we demand the same from them.

Agreed, and well said, Matthew.  Matthew G. Whitaker is a former acting Attorney General for the United States.  We agree wholeheartedly with everything Matthew just outlined.  China has not been acting in good faith for a very long time.  It’s time we used whatever leverage and pressure we can to get them to change that behavior.  To that end, we also agree with former National Security Adviser and Ambassador to the UN John Bolton’s idea of a “Black Book” on China.  Read the following article for more on that, and our comments at the end/bottom.  And, again, we implore you to NOT buy anything made in China whenever possible.  If there are two choices and one is made in China, and the other product costs a couple extra bucks, but is made in America, then BUY AMERICAN!!  Support U.S. companies and American workers; not sweatshops in China.  There is a whole list of them we mentioned (scroll down about 16 articles).  But, here are a few American companies supporting the fight against this Wuhan virus and hope you will consider supporting in return:  Ford, GM, Apple, New Balance, Honeywell, MyPillow, Hanes, Jockey, Brooks Brothers, McDonald’s, Tesla, Anheuser-Busch, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Denver Ralph Lauren, Hooters, Mattress Company, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway, Johnson & Johnson, Krispy Kreme, etc.  Again, whenever possible, please consider supporting American companies and those products that say Made in the USA; NOT those made in China.  If we ALL do this, it’ll help send a message to the communist regime in Beijing, and reinforce whatever pressure being exerted by our political leadership.

Bolton calls for ‘black book’ on China’s ‘atrocious’ conduct on coronavirus

Former national security adviser John Bolton on Thursday tore into China’s “atrocious” handling of the coronavirus crisis and called for a “black book” similar to “The Black Book of Communism,” which tracks the deaths caused by communism. “China’s falsehoods and concealment of data about coronavirus are dangerous to America and the whole world. We need the equivalent of ‘The Black Book of Communism’ to document for history the almost-incalculable human cost China’s atrocious behavior on coronavirus,” he said in a series of tweets. Bolton, who left the Trump administration last year, zeroed in on what the Trump administration has described as a secretive approach by Beijing that left the world blindsided by the virus and unable to stop it from turning into a global pandemic at the beginning of the year. “Untold numbers of people have died needlessly because of the authoritarian Beijing regime’s conduct,” Bolton said. “The global economy has suffered a catastrophic setback that might have been substantially mitigated had China just been honest.” The administration has been pushing for the United Nations and G-7 leaders to state specifically that the virus originated in China. President Trump has repeatedly called it the “Chinese virus” while others, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have called it the “Wuhan virus.” Trump has played up his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping while also pointing the finger at China for not giving the world enough warning or information about the virus. “China was very secretive. OK, very, very secretive. And that’s unfortunate with that. I have great respect for that country. I have great respect for the leader of that country,” he said at a press briefing last month. “He’s a friend of mine. But I wish they were able to. I wish they would have told us earlier. On Wednesday, three U.S. intelligence officials accused China of underreporting the number of patients and deaths and said in a report sent to the White House that China’s public record of COVID-19 infections was deliberately deceptive and incomplete. Bolton on Thursday said that the U.S. must gather the facts about the outbreak “before China’s government erases them, not to mention the doctors, officials and average Chinese citizens who know the truth.” He also called for the U.S. to adopt new policies to stop “over-reliance” on China in the supply chain “especially for key items like vaccines and any products from which China steals our intellectual property. ” “’The Black Book of China and the Coronavirus’; we need to start the project now. Who will fund it? Who will write it? Self-starters welcome,” he said.

Unfortunately, we don’t see this idea, as good as it is, going very far.  Former National Security Adviser and Ambassador John Bolton is exactly right, though.  What China did needs to be investigated and thoroughly documented.  It was nothing short of a crime against humanity.  And our government needs to press the UN to FINALLY, PUBLICLY say that this pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, and that the Chinese communist regime covered it up for months.  That needs to happen.  We shouldn’t settle for anything less.  Thanks to John for saying what needs to be said, and pushing this issue.

Colorado Gov. Polis wears face mask, urges state’s 5.7 million residents to do same when in public

Nobody would accuse Colorado Gov. Jared Polis of being a fashion icon, but he’s hoping to set a new statewide trend by urging Coloradans to start wearing facial masks. The governor donned a colorful cloth face mask festooned with state logos at the end of his Friday press conference as he asked the state’s 5.7 million residents to wear non-medical facial coverings when they leave home to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. “We know that Coloradans across our state are making personal sacrifices to prioritize the public health and safety of their family and neighbors,” said Mr. Polis in a statement. “The better job we do at staying home and wearing facial masks whenever we absolutely must go out to contain the virus in Colorado, the sooner we can return to something resembling economic normalcy. Refusing to stay at home will only extend the state’s economic pain.” The Democrat said the state has partnered with the Colorado Mask Project, which offers instructions on how to make cloth masks at home and asks residents to share photos of themselves with the facial coverings. “Data suggests up to 1 in 4 people infected with COVID are asymptomatic and spreading infected respiratory droplets,” said the state press release. “Masks offer minimal protection for the wearer, but they make a big difference in helping to protect others if a person is infected and doesn’t know it.” The governor’s message came shortly after President Trump announced Friday that the Centers for Disease Control now recommends wearing non-medical facial masks in public, although the president said he didn’t plan to wear one during official functions. The mayors of Los Angeles and New York urged residents Thursday to cover their faces in public with non-medical masks, even though L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said it looks “surreal.” “We’re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this,” Mr. Garcetti said, adding, “This will be the look.” Colorado had more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday evening and 111 deaths, with the virus detected in 53 of 64 counties. There were more than 291,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States as of Saturday morning, with 7,847 deaths and 14,368 recovered.

We support the idea of wearing some type of cloth facial covering, like maybe even a scarf, when out in public.  But, Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) shouldn’t have worn one while giving his press briefing yesterday.  It looked goofy and didn’t inspire.  It conveyed weakness for a chief executive.  By contrast, Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) and President Trump (R) haven’t worn one during their press briefings.  When you’re on camera, optics matter.

WH trade adviser slams 3M for ‘acting like a sovereign nation’: ‘Stop whining’ and make masks for Americans

White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro accused U.S. manufacturing conglomerate 3M Friday of “whining” about criticism from President Trump over its distribution of N95 masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Let me just say that 3M needs to stop whining and just produce masks and get them to the American people,” Navarro told “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “I’ve been dealing with hundreds of CEOs on the front lines here [of] President Trump’s war against the virus,” Navarro added, “and 3M has been doing nothing but dissembling, he can’t get any data out of them.” Minnesota-based 3M has come under fire for exporting U.S.-made masks and other protective equipement to Canada and Latin America. On Thursday, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order 3M to prioritize orders of N95 masks for the federal government’s national stockpile. “We’re not happy with 3M, we’re not happy and the people that dealt with it directly are not at all happy with 3M,” Trump said during the White House coronavirus task force briefing earlier Friday. 3M CEO Mike Roman told Fox Business Network’s “Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street” Friday that the company sells its respirators “through authorized distributors and we sell directly to governments and the distributors take those to customers that have the greatest needs and we’ve been working with FEMA in the U.S. to make sure we are prioritizing those with the greatest need … A small percentage, less than 10 percent of our respirators in the United States are exported to Canada and Latin America to support their health care workers. We are often the sole provider of those respirators in those countries.” “As we’ve been telling the administration for days and days,” Roman added, “We’re happy to ship our overseas production to the U.S. However, there are consequences on a humanitarian level and that includes stopping exports to Canada and Latin America.” Navarro accused 3M of “acting like a sovereign nation” and said the company’s public relations department “thinks it’s the State Department.” He said that U.S. companies will and should continue to export goods, but added that 3M brass have to stop “whining and spinning” and work on behalf of the American people. “We don’t have the hours, much less the minutes to deal with them,” said Navarro, in response to which host Tucker Carlson remarked endearingly that the trade adviser continues to be “the most blatant public official in government.”

Peter Navarro is a no-nonsense kinda guy, and we appreciate his candor.  I saw 3M’s CEO respond to questions that weren’t even asked in that interview…and how he kinda danced around questions.  So, I can understand Peter’s frustration.  3M definitely needs to step up to the plate and support the crisis HERE, in America, like so many other companies are doing.  OUR hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other caregivers are in desperate need of those N95 masks, and while other countries are having their issues to be sure, 3M needs to support the efforts here for now.  They are a globalist company, and it’s that globalist mentality that has gotten us into the mess we’re in now with respect to the supply chain, pharma-dependency on China, and so on.