Wuhan scientists planned to release coronaviruses into cave bats 18 months before outbreak

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/09/21/wuhan-scientists-planned-releaseskin-penetrating-nanoparticles/

Wuhan scientists planned to release coronaviruses into cave bats 18 months before outbreak

Leaked documents reveal researchers applied for $14m to fund controversial project in 2018

By Sarah Knapton

21 September 2021

Wuhan scientists were planning to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans, leaked grant proposals dating from 2018 show.

New documents show that just 18 months before the first Covid-19 cases appeared, researchers had submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, China.

They also planned to create chimeric viruses, genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily, and requested $14million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to fund the work.

Papers, confirmed as genuine by a former member of the Trump administration, show they were hoping to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites” to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells

When Covid-19 was first genetically sequenced, scientists were puzzled about how the virus had evolved such a human-specific adaptation at the cleavage site on the spike protein, which is the reason it is so infectious.

The documents were released by Drastic, the web-based investigations team set up by scientists from across the world to look into the origins of Covid-19.

In a statement, Drastic said: “Given that we find in this proposal a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites, a review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion is warranted.”

The proposal also included plans to mix high-risk natural coronavirus strains with more infectious but less dangerous varieties.

The bid was submitted by British zoologist Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance, the US-based organisation, which has worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) researching bat coronaviruses. 

Team members included Dr Shi Zhengli, the WIV researcher dubbed “bat woman”, pictured below, as well as US researchers from the University of North Carolina and the United States Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Centre.

Darpa refused to fund the work, saying: “It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk”, and warned that the team had not properly considered the dangers of enhancing the virus (gain of function research) or releasing a vaccine by air.

Grant documents show that the team also had some concerns about the vaccine programme and said they would “conduct educational outreach … so that there is a public understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it, particularly because of the practice of bat-consumption in the region”.

Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Oncology at St Georges, University of London, who struggled to get work published showing that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had been carrying out “gain of function” work for years before the pandemic, said the research may have gone ahead even without the funding.

This is clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectibility in more than one cell line,” he said. 

Daszak was also behind a letter published in The Lancet last year which effectively shut down scientific debate into the origins of Covid-19.

Viscount Ridley, who has co-authored a book on the origin of Covid-19, due for release in November, and who has frequently called for a further investigation into what caused the pandemic in the House of Lords, said: “For more than a year I tried repeatedly to ask questions of Peter Daszak with no response.

“Now it turns out he had authored this vital piece of information about virus work in Wuhan but refused to share it with the world. I am furious. So should the world be. 

“Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanised and ‘batified’ mice, and much, much more.”

A Covid-19 researcher from the World Health Organisation (WHO), who wished to remain anonymous, said it was alarming that the grant proposal included plans to enhance the more deadly disease of Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).

“The scary part is they were making infectious chimeric Mers viruses,” the source said. 

“These viruses have a fatality rate over 30 per cent, which is at least an order of magnitude more deadly than Sars-CoV-2.

“If one of their receptor replacements made Mers spread similarly, while maintaining its lethality, this pandemic would be nearly apocalyptic.”

EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been approached for comment.

September 21, 2021. Tags: , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

‘No Gestapo Here!’: Polish Pastor Tosses Canadian Police Out of Good Friday Church Service

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/bethbaumann/2021/04/04/no-gestapo-here-polish-pastor-tosses-canadian-police-out-of-good-friday-churc-n2587374

‘No Gestapo Here!’: Polish Pastor Tosses Canadian Police Out of Good Friday Church Service

By Beth Baumann

April 4, 2021

Calgary police were met with resistance when they attempted to shut down a Good Friday church service for violating COVID restrictions. Artur Pawlowski, the pastor at The Cave of Adullam, told police to leave and not return until they have a search warrant in hand.

“You come back with a warrant,” Pawlowski said. “Out! Out! Out!” 

Police were hesitant to leave but the pastor wasn’t backing down. “Out of this property, you Nazis!” Pawlowski shouted. “Gestapo is not allowed here!”

As police left the property, Pawlowski told them “not to come back, you Nazi psychopaths.” 

“Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don’t you dare come back here!” he shouted as they walked away.

The pastor turned the camera to face him. 

“Can you imagine those psychopaths? Passover, the holiest Christian festival in a year and they’re coming to intimidate Christians during the holiest festival? Unbelievable,” Pawlowski said. “What is wrong with those sick psychopaths? It’s beyond me. Wow. Wow. How dare they?”

“Unbelievable. We’re living in a total takeover of the government with their thugs, goons, the brown shirts, the Gestapo wannabe dictators,” an incredulous Pawlowski said. “Coming to the church armed with guns and tasers and handcuffs to intimidate during Passover celebration? Well, I guess that’s what it is, they want to enslave us all like the Egyptians did. They want to be the Pharaohs of today, that’s what they’re doing. Unbelievable. People, if you don’t stand up, wake up, wow. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”

The pastor warned about Germany, where “wannabe Hitlers are already ruling” and fascism is reigning once again. He took particular issue with the country’s lockdown.

He referenced the COVID passports that are being talked about and potentially implemented.

“If you will not be vaccinated like a dog or a cat, you will not be able to buy or sell. You will not be able to go to school or work. Is that the future you want?” Pawlowski asked. “Is that what you want for your children and your grandchildren?”

According to the pastor, the time to stand up and push back against the out-of-control government is now.

April 4, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . COVID-19, Police state, Religion. Leave a comment.

My newest book has Gretchen Whitmer on the front cover, and Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom on the back cover. The book is called, “The COVID-19 lockdown is killing more people than it is saving.”

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091DWWWL6

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091DPTGF3

March 30, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Books, COVID-19. Leave a comment.

Keeping the public schools closed is mean, cruel, inhumane, and evil, and it has nothing to do with COVID-19

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

March 26, 2021

Please take a lot at all these things, and please note the date on each one.

All of these things, taken together in context, proves that keeping the public schools closed has nothing to do with COVID-19.

Keeping the public schools closed is mean, cruel, inhumane, and evil.

May 28, 2020

Reopening schools in Denmark did not worsen outbreak, data shows

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2020-05-28/opening-schools-in-denmark-did-not-worsen-outbreak-data-shows

May 29, 2020

Denmark, Finland say they saw no increase in coronavirus after schools re-opened

https://justthenews.com/world/europe/denmark-finland-say-they-saw-no-increase-coronavirus-after-schools-re-opened

July 13 , 2020

German study finds no evidence coronavirus spreads in schools

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/13/german-study-finds-no-evidence-coronavirus-spreads-schools/

July 21 2020

No known case of teacher catching coronavirus from pupils, says scientist

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/no-known-case-of-teacher-catching-coronavirus-from-pupils-says-scientist-3zk5g2x6z

September 18, 2020

Suicide among children during Covid-19 pandemic: An alarming social issue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500342/

January 8, 2021

Escalating suicide rates among school children during COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown period: An alarming psychosocial issue

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0253717620982514

February 10, 2021

Child suicides are rising during lockdown

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-02-child-suicides-lockdown.html

March 1, 2021

Matt Meyer, the president of the Berkeley teachers union, says it’s too dangerous to open the public schools. But Meyer was just filmed taking his own daughter to a private school. I never trust anyone who isn’t willing to live under the same rules that they expect everyone else to live under. Clearly, the real reason for keeping the public schools closed has nothing to do with safety.

https://www.kqed.org/news/11862469/after-leading-school-closures-berkeley-teachers-union-president-spotted-dropping-daughter-off-at-in-person-preschool

March 9, 2021

LA teachers warned to not share vacation pics as union seeks safe return to classrooms. UTLA members voted overwhelmingly to reject what the union called an ‘unsafe’ return to the classroom unless certain demands are met. I never trust anyone who isn’t willing to live under the same rules that they expect everyone else to live under. Clearly, the real reason for keeping the public schools closed has nothing to do with safety.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/la-teachers-warned-to-not-share-vacation-pics-as-union-seeks-safe-return-to-classrooms-report

March 19, 2021

Doctors indicate startling rise in child suicide, psychiatric admissions during lockdown

https://elizabethjohnston.org/doctors-indicate-startling-rise-in-child-suicide-psychiatric-admissions-amid-ongoing-pandemic-measures/

March 22, 2021

The lockdown made it harder for victims of domestic violence to seek help

https://www.city-journal.org/lockdowns-and-domestic-violence

March 26, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , . COVID-19, Education, Unions. Leave a comment.

I think the COVID-19 lockdown is killing more people than it is saving. Here are my many reasons for thinking such a thing. Updated for March 26, 2021.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

March 26, 2021

I think the COVIOD-19 lockdown is killing more people than it is saving.

I’m going to start out by posting the CDC’s estimated survival rates, by age, for people who contract COVID-19:

(more…)

March 26, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . COVID-19, Health care, Math, Science. Leave a comment.

Why isn’t everyone in Florida dead or in the hospital?

https://townhall.com/columnists/wayneallynroot/2021/03/21/why-isnt-everyone-in-florida-dead-or-in-the-hospital-n2586578

Why Isn’t Everyone in Florida Dead or in the Hospital?

By Wayne Allyn Root

March 21, 2021

I hate to say I told you so. But I told you so.

I’m one of the few brave souls in the American media who warned and advised from day one (back in early March 2020) not to lock down the American people or the economy.

I argued the following:

— That lockdowns wouldn’t stop COVID-19, because you can’t stop a virus.

— That there was never a reason to lock down everyone. Anyone relatively young or healthy never had a reason to fear death from COVID. The survival rate has been reported at 99%, especially for anyone relatively healthy under the age of 65.

— That over time, lockdowns would cause more deaths from suicide, depression, loneliness, drug and alcohol addiction, joblessness, poverty and stress (from people being unsure how to feed their families) than from COVID.

— And, worst of all, that lockdowns would destroy the economy. If Grandma or Grandpa is sick and dying from COVID, how does it help them if their kids and grandkids lose their businesses, jobs or homes? It only makes things much worse. Grandma and Grandpa would not want their kids and grandkids to be jobless, hopeless or homeless. They want them to live life and prosper. That’s how you honor Grandpa and Grandma.

I warned that the only way to fight COVID and pay for COVID was to keep the economy open and healthy. And to keep Americans employed.

Don’t look now, but I was 100% right.

Florida is exhibit A. Everyone needs to know the Florida story.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should be America’s Hero Governor. He stood strong in the face of massive pressure to close the state, close the economy, lock down the people and order mask mandates. He refused. He kept Florida open for business.

Now look at the amazing results. Florida’s economy is booming. People are happy. Quality of life is high. And very few are sick. It worked!

Even though Florida has been wide open (without masks) for almost a year now, even though the state has millions of retired senior citizens, it still has less deaths and hospitalizations right now than most of the know-it-all liberal states that are locked down and run by authoritarian Democratic governors. Florida’s numbers are better than those of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois.

All this and the people of Florida kept their businesses open, kept their jobs, kept their kids in school and kept living normal lives.

My friends own restaurants in Florida. Restaurants and bars are jammed. No one is wearing masks. They tell me that not only are the customers healthy; all their employees are healthy.

How is this possible? How can Florida be thriving and prospering and healthier while California and New York have been shut down the entire time, with businesses dead, jobs gone, schools closed and kids not leaning a thing?

The answer is simple. Democratic governors blew it. They made all the wrong decisions. No lockdowns were ever needed. Nor were they ever constitutional. No jobs should have been lost.

This was all a travesty, a tragedy, a farse. With lockdowns, people still get sick; you can’t stop a germ. But they do succeed at three things: destroying the economy, destroying quality of life and, ironically, making more people sick and die due to the stress, loneliness, depression and poverty the lockdowns produced.

Lockdowns prove the solution is often worse than the virus.

The only answer is freedom and individual choice. Let Americans choose whether to keep their businesses open, go to work or wear masks.

As usual, government was wrong. Government made things much worse. As usual, liberal Democratic ideas failed miserably. Lockdowns are perhaps the worst mistake in America’s history. Case closed.

March 21, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

A year into the pandemic, Florida is booming and Republican Gov. DeSantis is taking credit

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/17/politics/ron-desantis-covid-florida/index.html

A year into the pandemic, Florida is booming and Republican Gov. DeSantis is taking credit

March 17, 2021

St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) After a year of criticism by health experts, mockery from comedians and blistering critiques from political rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing unabashedly tall among the nation’s governors on the front lines of the coronavirus fight.

“Everyone told me I was wrong,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a fundraising appeal on Tuesday, drawing attention to his defiance against the pandemic. “I faced continued pressure from radical Democrats and the liberal media, but I refused to back down. It’s clear: Florida got it right.”

As many parts of the country embark on an uneasy march toward normalcy, Florida is not only back in business — it’s been in business for the better part of the past year. DeSantis’ gamble to take a laissez faire approach appears to be paying off — at least politically, at least for now, as other governors capturing attention in the opening phase of the pandemic now face steeper challenges.

Despite far fewer rules and restrictions, Florida lands nearly in the middle of all states on a variety of coronavirus metrics. The state has had about 3% more Covid-19 cases per capita than the US overall, but about 8% fewer deaths per capita. More than 32,000 Floridians have died of Covid-19, and the state’s per capita death rate ranks 24th in the nation.

“Those lockdowns have not worked. They’ve done great damage to our country,” DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference in Tallahassee. “We can never let something like this happen again. Florida took a different path. We’ve had more success as a result.”

DeSantis — who, at 42, is the nation’s youngest governor — is standing out among his peers and seizing upon what he and his supporters believe is a vindication for their policies.

Lockdowns and school openings are suddenly a new measure for voters to hold governors and other elected officials accountable, a sign that the politics of the pandemic could open an uncertain chapter for many holding public office. He will be among the governors putting his record to the test when he runs for re-election next year.

“We still have millions of kids across this country who are denied access to in-person education,” DeSantis said at the news conference. “We still have businesses closed in many parts of this country. We have millions and millions of lives destroyed.”

‘It would not be booming if it was shut down’

With spring on the horizon, DeSantis suddenly appears to be in a position of strength compared to some of his fellow governors, including many of whom took far more restrictive approaches to the fight against coronavirus that caused a trickle-down effect on the economy.

He is not facing a potential recall like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, under investigation like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo or being second-guessed for lifting a statewide mask mandate like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

DeSantis refused to implement a mask mandate in the first place, making him an outlier a year ago. At the time, he was hewing closely to President Donald Trump’s playbook, which he argued at the time was good for business.

The unemployment rate in Florida is 4.8 %, according to the latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 6.8% in Texas, 8.8% in New York and 9% in California.

“If you look at what’s happening in South Florida right now, I mean this place is booming. It would not be booming if it was shut down,” DeSantis said last month as a crush of tourists began arriving. “Los Angeles isn’t booming. New York City’s not booming. It’s booming here because you can live like a human being.”

Florida has recorded about 9,204 cases per 100,000 people and about 150 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Across the country overall, there have been about 8,969 cases per 100,000 people and 163 deaths per 100,000 people.

Despite far more stringent restrictions, California only ranks one spot better than Florida in both measures. Its death rate is about 5% lower than Florida’s, which means about 1,500 lives could have been saved in Florida if the state’s death rate matched that of California.

Still, comparing one state to another is complicated and often counterproductive, said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health who maintains his own Covid dashboard. For example, he said, the humidity of Florida and the density of New York City offer entirely different scenarios for fighting coronavirus.

“What I’d love to ask about Florida is, if we had done things differently in Florida, what would it have looked like?” Salemi told CNN. “If you use those metrics of where Florida is relative to a lot of other states, we’re looking middle of the pack. So no, it hasn’t been a disaster in that we’re leading in mortality per capita in cases per capita.”

He added: “It’s not always about doing well relative to your peers. It’s how can we prevent as much morbidity and mortality from the virus while keeping an eye on what’s happening with our economy.”

He said Florida has also benefitted from local ordinances requiring masks and restricting the sizes of gatherings. DeSantis has prohibited cities and counties from fining people for refusing to wear masks and is stirring outrage among local officials by pushing to strip their authority to put such rules in place at all.

Throughout the pandemic, it’s that defiant and often combative DeSantis who has increasingly become the darling of Republicans. He declines most interview requests, including from CNN, even as he frequently appears on Fox News and other propaganda platforms. He has been locked in one fight after another with the state’s media over transparency on Covid statistics and other issues.

Yet his policies have boosted his standing inside his party, all but certainly closing the door to any Republican challenges. Potential Democratic contenders are already circling.

Rep. Charlie Crist — who served as Republican governor of the state from 2007 to 2011 and switched parties in 2012 — is among the Democrats thinking about challenging DeSantis for re-election next year. He said he intended to make up his mind before summer.

Asked how he thought Florida had withstood the pandemic, Crist said: “It’s a mixed bag, to be candid.”

“We have a light at the end of the tunnel feeling and that really is a godsend,” Crist told CNN in an interview in his office here. “On the other hand, there’s about 33,000 of my fellow Floridians that are dead now. And that’s incredibly sad, tragic and beyond unfortunate. So how are we doing? Well, we’re slugging through it like the rest of the country is and just doing the best we can.”

Crist and other Florida Democrats are calling for a US Justice Department investigation into whether DeSantis gave preference to donors after invitation-only vaccines clinics were set up in at least two upscale communities. The exclusive Covid-19 clinics allowed about 6,000 people to jump ahead of tens of thousands of seniors on waitlists in Manatee and Charlotte counties, where the drives happened.

“Was there preference given to certain Caucasian wealthy, Republican communities?” Crist said. “Because it certainly looks like it.”

A spokeswoman for the governor has dismissed the accusation, saying: “The insinuation that politics play into vaccine distribution in Florida is baseless and ridiculous.”

‘I think he took a gamble and it worked out’

Here in Florida, where beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and on Gulf of Mexico are crowded this week in ways not seen for more than a year, the complete story of the pandemic has yet to be written, as President Joe Biden inherits the challenge and has accelerated vaccines here and across the country. Yet health experts and local officials worry that a parade of spring break vacationers could contribute to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Tom Golden, who owns a restaurant and bar along the busy stretch of Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg, said he didn’t have much of an opinion on DeSantis a year ago. But with his business not only surviving, but thriving, he offers a measure of credit to the governor.

“When he went into office, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Golden said in an interview just before lunch on a sunny morning this week. “But he didn’t do anything to hurt me as a business owner or me as a Floridian. So fine with me.”
After businesses were allowed to open after being shuttered for several weeks late last spring, Golden said he recalls having mixed feelings about the balancing act of keeping the economy alive and protecting the public’s health.

“Well, of course, as a business owner I supported it, but as a human being, I kept thinking that it’s a horrible position to be in,” Golden said. “It’s a hard one to measure. I think he made a good decision.”

Conversations with more than a dozen Floridians offered a wide assessment of views about DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus crisis. Several people suggested they were not initially supportive him, but in hindsight found themselves approving of his decision to reopen the economy and schools.
A woman strolling down the St. Petersburg Pier spoke about her grandchildren in California, who have attended school virtually for the last year. She said she believes the Florida approach was better, given the temperate weather and ability to be outside. She declined to be identified by name, but praised DeSantis’ decisions that have allowed the orchestra to resume playing here and the economy to thrive.

Molly Minton, who works as a laboratory supervisor, said she recalls being dispirited as she drove home from work and saw crowded bars and restaurants. Looking back, she said, she is glad many small businesses were able to stay open and believes Florida was simply lucky in many respects.

“I think he took a gamble and it worked out,” Minton said of the governor.
In a sprawling state of more than 21 million people, where some estimates say about 1,000 new residents arrive every day, many people said they had no opinion of DeSantis at all and didn’t know much about him.

He was born in Jacksonville and raised on the Gulf Coast just north of here in Dunedin, and he had a love for baseball that sent his team to the Little League World Series. Later, he played outfield while studying at Yale. He graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as a Naval prosecutor, including a stint in Iraq as a Navy JAG lawyer advising a SEAL team.

In 2012, he won a seat in Congress and was elected governor in 2018 two months after he turned 40. He was largely unknown during the primary campaign until he won the endorsement of Trump, who became aware of him through frequent appearances on Fox News.

Now, DeSantis is seen by many grassroots conservatives as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. That path depends on his gubernatorial reelection next year.

His long-range future, of course, also depends on the outcome of the rest of the pandemic. Yet it’s clear he hopes to make that his new calling card, which he telegraphed in a fundraising appeal for Republican governors that he sent to supporters on Tuesday.

“Right now,” DeSantis wrote, “my state of Florida is one of the only states that said no to oppressive lockdowns and has become an oasis of freedom for Americans.”

March 18, 2021. Tags: , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

Video: Woman arguing for masks almost passes out from wearing a mask. When someone asked her how one school district without masks was doing well, she answered, “I don’t care.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtTySjrIRHE

March 14, 2021. Tags: , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

CDC: “After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds”

 

Original: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20210308164227/https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated

How to Protect Yourself and Others

March 8, 2021
 
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more.

March 8, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . COVID-19. 2 comments.

Ted Cruz proposes a $10,000 scholarship for students in districts where the public schools are still closed

https://twitter.com/SenTedCruz/status/1368188283264581636

March 7, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . COVID-19, Education, Unions. Leave a comment.

Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/nyregion/cuomo-nursing-home-deaths.html

Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll

The intervention was the earliest action yet known in an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that concealed how many nursing home residents died in the pandemic.

By J. David Goodman and Danny Hakim

March 4, 2021

Top aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were alarmed: A report written by state health officials had just landed, and it included a count of how many nursing home residents in New York had died in the pandemic.

The number — more than 9,000 by that point in June — was not public, and the governor’s most senior aides wanted to keep it that way. They rewrote the report to take it out, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The extraordinary intervention, which came just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements, was the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a monthslong effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths.

After the state attorney general revealed earlier this year that thousands of deaths of nursing home residents had been undercounted, Mr. Cuomo finally released the complete data, saying he had withheld it out of concern that the Trump administration might pursue a politically motivated inquiry into the state’s handling of the outbreak in nursing homes.

But Mr. Cuomo and his aides actually began concealing the numbers months earlier, as his aides were battling their own top health officials, and well before requests for data arrived from federal authorities, according to documents and interviews with six people with direct knowledge of the discussions, who requested anonymity to describe the closed-door debates.

The central role played by the governor’s top aides reflected the lengths to which Mr. Cuomo has gone in the middle of a deadly pandemic to control data, brush aside public health expertise and bolster his position as a national leader in the fight against the coronavirus.

As the nursing home report was being written, the New York State Health Department’s data — contained in a chart reviewed by The Times that was included in a draft — put the death toll roughly 50 percent higher than the figure then being cited publicly by the Cuomo administration.

The Health Department worked on the report with McKinsey, a consulting firm hired by Mr. Cuomo to help with the pandemic response. The chart they created compared nursing home deaths in New York with other states. New York’s total of 9,250 deaths far exceeded that of the next-highest state, New Jersey, which had 6,150 at the time.

The changes sought by the governor’s aides fueled bitter exchanges with health officials working on the report. The conflict punctuated an already tense and devolving relationship between Mr. Cuomo and his Health Department, one that would fuel an exodus of the state’s top public health officials.

In the past week, Mr. Cuomo’s once seemingly unshakable grip on power has been buffeted by a wave of scandal. Three women have accused the governor of inappropriate conduct, including workplace sexual harassment. On Wednesday, he publicly apologized for his actions, which are soon to be subjected to an independent investigation overseen by the state attorney general.

The crisis over Mr. Cuomo’s behavior with women came just as his administration had been dealing with political turmoil over nursing homes. Lawmakers moved to strip him of the emergency powers he had been granted during the pandemic, and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have opened a separate investigation.

A lawyer hired to represent Mr. Cuomo and his aides, Elkan Abramowitz, has begun interviewing senior staff members in the governor’s office about the nursing home report, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

The aides who were involved in changing the report included Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide; Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s Department of Financial Services; and Jim Malatras, a former top adviser to Mr. Cuomo brought back to work on the pandemic. None had public health expertise.

In response to a detailed list of questions from The Times sent on Tuesday, the governor’s office responded with a statement Thursday night from Beth Garvey, a special counsel, who said “the out-of-facility data was omitted after D.O.H. could not confirm it had been adequately verified.” She added that the additional data did not change the conclusion of the report.

The tension over the death count dated to the early weeks of the pandemic when Mr. Cuomo issued an order preventing nursing homes from turning away people discharged from the hospital after being treated for Covid-19. The order was similar to ones issued in other states aimed at preventing hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

But by late spring, Republicans were suggesting that the order had caused a deadly spread of the virus in nursing homes. Mr. Cuomo disputed that it had. Still, critics and others seized on the way the state was publicly reporting deaths: Unlike other states, New York excluded residents who had been transferred to hospitals and died there, effectively cloaking how many nursing home residents had died of Covid-19.

The 33-page report, which was issued in July by the state Health Department, found Mr. Cuomo’s policies were not to blame, but it became a turning point in the Albany debate over the governor’s policies.

The day after the report was published, legislators began calling for hearings and requesting complete data. Public health officials criticized its approach. A think tank began seeking the data the next month, as did the Justice Department.

Health officials, nursing home operators and even some of Mr. Cuomo’s aides expressed bafflement at the governor’s apparent insistence on delaying the release of the data for so long, as none of the information released so far has changed the overall number of Covid-19 deaths in New York — now more than 47,000, including more than 15,000 nursing home residents.

But the July report allowed Mr. Cuomo to treat the nursing home issue as resolved last year, paving the way for him to focus on touting New York’s success in controlling the virus.

“I am now thinking about writing a book about what we went through,” Mr. Cuomo said four days after the report’s release, his first public comments about a possible book.

By that point, he was already seeking formal approval from a state ethics agency to earn outside income from book sales, according to a person with knowledge of his planning at the time.

The governor’s policy to direct nursing homes to accept and readmit patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus remains a subject of intense debate. An investigation by the attorney general’s office, released in January, said that Mr. Cuomo’s memo to nursing homes was consistent with federal guidance, but it “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.”

Ms. Garvey said in her statement that the governor’s order did not drive nursing home deaths, a conclusion that was also reached in the Health Department report.

At the time when the report was being debated, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, still enjoyed broad popularity for his televised news briefings.

Dr. Eleanor Adams was the Health Department’s lead on the report, but her draft was substantially rewritten by Mr. Malatras, now the chancellor of the State University of New York system. He was among a number of officials and former advisers temporarily recruited by Mr. Cuomo to assist with the pandemic response.

The back-and-forth went well beyond the usual process of the governor’s office suggesting edits to an agency report, and became “intense” at times, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

Health officials felt the governor’s office, whose opinion was conveyed by Mr. Malatras, wanted to simplify too much. They worried it was no longer a true scientific report, but feared for their jobs if they did not go along.

Even so, an edited version prepared by Mr. Malatras did not remove the higher death toll.

That occurred later, after Ms. DeRosa and Ms. Lacewell became aware of its inclusion. It was taken out soon after.

March 5, 2021. Tags: , , , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

This private school has been open all school year, and has had zero in-school transmissions of COVID-19. And its tuition is far less than what the public schools spend. The real reason for keeping the public schools closed has nothing to do with COVID-19.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

March 1, 2021

According to this article, zero cases of COVID-19 have been contracted at this private Catholic school in Philadelphia, which has been open for the entire school year so far.

For students who are not part of the school’s affiliated church, tuition is $6,332 yer year. It’s even less for students who are part of the church.

Source: https://d2y1pz2y630308.cloudfront.net/19763/documents/2021/2/Saint%20Pio%202021-2022%20Tuition%20Letter%20and%20Rates.pdf

By comparison, the budget for Philadelphia’s public schools is $14,812 per student per year.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=School_District_of_Philadelphia&oldid=1002556395

This debunks the claim that public schools don’t have enough money to deal with COVID-19.

Somehow, this private school, with far less money per student, was able to open up, and have zero in-school cases of transmission.

Whatever the reason is for keeping the public schools closed, it has nothing to do with COVID-19.

https://whyy.org/articles/in-person-classes-old-buildings-almost-no-covid-are-philly-catholic-schools-a-blueprint/

In-person classes. Old buildings. Almost no COVID. Are Philly Catholic schools a blueprint?

By Avi Wolfman-Arent

February 21, 2021

Francesca Russo hesitates to acknowledge any good news without crossing herself and knocking on wood.

When it comes to COVID, the principal at St. Pio Regional Catholic School in South Philadelphia likes to cover her bases — physical and spiritual.

“We have not had many cases,” said Russo, who was a teacher at St. Pio’s for 19 years before becoming principal two years ago. “Thank goodness. Knock on some kind of wood. We did play it scary-mary safe.”

Each room at St. Pio’s has a window cracked and a door open. There’s a system for when students can use bathrooms between regular cleanings. And each desk has a three-panel barrier that students raise whenever they need to lower their masks.

Behind the barriers sit roughly 230 students, from pre-K through eighth grade, about the same number who occupied this building last year. They’ve been learning in a decades-old Catholic school five days a week since the school year began.

Five members of the school community have contracted COVID-19 since September, Russo says. One of them is among the school’s 15 all-virtual students. Three contracted the virus over winter break while school was closed. The fifth also contracted the virus outside of school.

So far, according to Russo, there’s been no in-school transmission.

“We love these kids,” said Russo. “We’d do anything to make sure they’re safe, protected, and happy.”

St. Pio’s is one of about 100 elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that has been open for full-time, face-to-face education since the school year began. Together, the schools host about 35,000 educators and children in buildings every day, according to the archdiocese. Archdiocesan high schools, meanwhile, have been open on a hybrid schedule.

While public debate swirls over whether the School District of Philadelphia should reopen school buildings on a part-time basis for about 9,000 pre-K through second grade students, another elementary system in the same region has opened its doors to nearly four times as many students. Leaders say they’ve managed to do so safely.

Schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia share the same geography as the city’s public schools. And perhaps more than any other school system in the region, the parochial sector shares the public schools’ legacy of contraction, tight budgets, and, in some places, aging infrastructure.

Yet, according to officials, Catholic elementary and high schools in the five-county region have recorded just one suspected instance of in-school transmission during the pandemic. Using bedrock mitigation strategies, the parochial system believes it’s kept kids safer in schools than they would’ve been in the outside world. They’re determined to keep it that way.

“We’re gonna hold the course until June,” said Andrew McLaughlin, the archdiocese’s secretary of elementary education.

March 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . COVID-19, Education, Unions. 2 comments.

Matt Meyer, the president of the Berkeley teachers union, says it’s too dangerous to open the public schools. But Meyer was just filmed taking his own daughter to a private school. I never trust anyone who isn’t willing to live under the same rules that they expect everyone else to live under. Clearly, the real reason for keeping the public schools closed has nothing to do with safety.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

March 1, 2021

As I’ve said many times before, I never trust anyone who isn’t willing to live under the same rules that they expect everyone else to live under.

Matt Meyer, the president of the Berkeley teachers union, says it’s too dangerous to open the public schools.

But Meyer was just filmed taking his own daughter to a private school.

Clearly, the real reason for keeping the public schools closed has nothing to do with safety.

This from the the San Francisco affiliate of PBS:

https://www.kqed.org/news/11862469/after-leading-school-closures-berkeley-teachers-union-president-spotted-dropping-daughter-off-at-in-person-preschool

After Leading School Closures, Berkeley Teachers Union President Spotted Dropping Daughter Off at In-Person Preschool

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

February 28, 2021

Parent groups are crying “hypocrisy” after a video surfaced showing the president of the Berkeley teachers union dropping off his 2-year-old daughter at an in-person preschool.

Matt Meyer, president of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, has fought for what he called the “gold standard” for the teachers he represents — saying Berkeley schools should only reopen to in-person learning when educators are vaccinated, among other criteria.

A tentative plan between the Berkeley Unified School District and Berkeley Federation of Teachers in mid-February would see preschoolers through second grade returning to class at the end of March and other grades staggering back to in-person learning through April, according to Berkeleyside.

But some Berkeley parents have claimed that the union is moving too slow and are pushing for earlier school reopenings. They have long argued — and the Center For Disease Control and Prevention has agreed — that schools are safe to reopen without vaccinations for all teachers.

Looking to prove a double-standard by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers union president, they followed Meyer and his 2-year-old daughter to her preschool, camera in hand. The footage they captured has ignited the ire of parents groups fighting teachers unions — and Meyer in particular.

“It’s completely opposite of what he’s pushing,” said Jonathan Zachreson, the founder of Reopen California Schools, which counts Berkeley parents among many of its members. “So why is that safe for him and those people who work there (at the preschool), but not for all of the kids in Berkeley Unified and the teachers? The answer is: It is safe.”

March 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . COVID-19, Education, Unions. Leave a comment.

School Closures Have Failed America’s Children

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/opinion/covid-school-closures-children.html

School Closures Have Failed America’s Children

As many as three million children have gotten no education for nearly a year.

By Nicholas Kristof

February 24, 2021

Flags are flying at half-staff across the United States to commemorate the half-million American lives lost to the coronavirus.

But there’s another tragedy we haven’t adequately confronted: Millions of American schoolchildren will soon have missed a year of in-person instruction, and we may have inflicted permanent damage on some of them, and on our country.

The reluctance of many Republicans to wear masks and practice social distancing is one reason so many Americans are dead. But the educational losses are disproportionately the fault of Democratic governors and mayors who too often let schools stay closed even as bars opened.

The blunt fact is that it is Democrats — including those who run the West Coast, from California through Oregon to Washington State — who have presided over one of the worst blows to the education of disadvantaged Americans in history. The result: more dropouts, less literacy and numeracy, widening race gaps, and long-term harm to some of our most marginalized youth.

The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank this month estimated that educational disruptions during this pandemic may increase the number of high school dropouts over 10 years by 3.8 percent, while also reducing the number of college-educated workers in the labor force. This will shrink the incomes of Americans for 70 years, until the last of today’s students leave the work force, the bank said.

What that doesn’t capture is the human toll. Rich kids going to private schools glide on through life mostly unaffected, while low-income children often don’t even have internet to attend Zoom classes. I’m writing this in rural Oregon, where some homes have neither internet nor cellphone service.

I wrote recently about my old buddy Mike Stepp, who dropped out of high school, couldn’t get a good job, self-medicated with alcohol and meth, and recently died homeless. I fear that our educational failures during this pandemic will produce countless more tragedies like Mike’s.

Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit focused on underserved students, estimates that as many as three million children in the United States have missed all formal education, in-person or virtual, for almost a year.

“We have to acknowledge that there is a large percentage of kids that have ‘disappeared’ — students who have never logged in, or logged in and never fully engaged,” said Melissa Connelly, chief executive of OneGoal, a nonprofit that does outstanding work with low-income high school students.

As of Jan. 29, almost 10 percent fewer high school seniors had submitted FAFSA financial aid forms, a sign that some are losing the chance to attend college.

Closures also exacerbate racial inequity. According to McKinsey & Company, fifth graders in schools with mostly students of color mastered only 37 percent of the math that usually would be expected.

Yes, it’s hard to open schools during a pandemic. But private schools mostly managed to, and that’s true not only of rich boarding schools but also of strapped Catholic schools. As a nation, we fought to keep restaurants and malls open — but we didn’t make schools a similar priority, so needy children were left behind.

“The evidence on remote learning suggests that despite the best efforts of teachers it doesn’t work for a large share of kids,” said Emily Oster, a Brown University economist who has studied the issue. “I think we’ve deprioritized children in a way that will do long-term damage.”

What are the risks of opening schools? We now have a great deal of data in the United States and abroad comparing areas that reopened schools versus those that kept them closed. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, “in-person learning in schools has not been associated with substantial community transmission.” The British Medical Journal this week put it this way in an editorial: “Closing schools is not evidence based and harms children.”

Most evidence aligns with a careful Tulane study that found that in most of the United States, school openings do not increase coronavirus hospitalizations. And teachers generally don’t seem at greater risk than people in other occupations. While it’s crucial to improve ventilation, increase testing and maintain adequate spacing, those steps aren’t always possible — and failure to meet every benchmark shouldn’t be an automatic bar to in-person schooling.

Teachers in some places are suggesting that in-school instruction shouldn’t resume even after they are vaccinated, not until students are vaccinated as well. That’s an abdication of responsibility to America’s children.

Many Democrats seemed to become more suspicious of in-person schooling last summer when President Donald Trump called for it. We shouldn’t let ourselves be driven by ideology rather than science, and that wasn’t universal: Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, a Democrat, worked hard to open schools, and kids there are better off because she did.

Maybe new variants of the virus will spread and require school closures — we should be relentlessly empirical — but that should be a last resort. Yes, there’s uncertainty. Sure, there are trade-offs. But serving kids in schools should be a higher priority than serving drinks in bars, and we should plan on summer school so lagging children can catch up.

For almost a year now, we as a country have failed millions of America’s most vulnerable children; we must right this wrong.

February 25, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

A progressive parent’s rant about the politics surrounding school reopening

https://rmbodenheimer.medium.com/a-progressive-parents-rant-about-the-politics-surrounding-school-reopening-a816cae963fd

A progressive parent’s rant about the politics surrounding school reopening

By Rebecca Bodenheimer, PhD

February 12, 2021

I think we’re at a crucial point in this debate on school reopening right now. Case rates are dropping quickly, the surge is over, and people are starting to get vaccinated — though way too slowly of course. The public health community, including the CDC, have reached consensus that reopening schools is an urgent priority (instead of citing all my sources, I’m going to do more of a free-write here, so feel free to reach out if you want me to cite a source for anything I write here).

This is because the harms of prolonged school closure vastly outnumber the risk of COVID. It’s not only learning loss among public school kids (mostly in urban areas), though that will of course have long-term implications, especially for teenagers who really need to get decent grades to be able to get into college but who are flunking classes at astronomical rates. Remember also that they’ll have to compete against private school kids, who are having a much more normal school year.

More importantly, it’s our our kids’ mental health that’s the real emergency. A few weeks ago the New York Times published a devastating piece about the rise in student suicides in Las Vegas and how that got the superintendent to open schools. All over the country, mental health emergencies and hospital visits by kids are skyrocketing. The prolonged isolation, depression and anxiety that stem from learning by yourself on a computer all day are taking a massive toll on kids who haven’t seen the inside of a school for almost a year!

I just don’t know how anyone can sit by and think this is an acceptable state of affairs for a developed country — it just makes my blood boil to see how little this country cares about kids. All of Europe has done the right thing — schools are last to close, first to open. It’s simply not a political stance in Europe (as it is here) to say we need to reopen schools for the sake of kids wellbeing and emotional and academic development.

The politicization of this issue is what’s really fucked up. Schools are largely open in red states and closed in blue ones (see below for a devastating graphic). It’s very difficult for me to understand the simplistic thinking that says: Trump said open schools, so we must keep them closed at all costs. I have never felt so alienated from the people I usually align myself with politically. I will never understand how the left in this country has decided that advocating for putting kids first is somehow right-wing. I’m hearing from progressive parents all the time who are so infuriated about the Democratic apathy around school reopening — from politicians like Gavin Newsom, who are willing to allow their stances to be dictated by teachers’ unions — that they’re considering supporting the recall effort, maybe even switching parties.

Because here’s the thing: parents are not willing to sacrifice their kids’ wellbeing for the sake of ideology or being a good leftist. And they shouldn’t. It’s our most important job to do what’s best for our kids. And if that means calling out teachers’ unions, so be it. I won’t stay silent while unions ignore the science and the entire public health community, and all the research telling us schools aren’t drivers of transmission, that spread is much lower in schools than in the surrounding community. Last March we didn’t know any better. But now we know — and we’ve known for months. Europe opened up in the fall. Florida, Texas, all the red states opened up. Rhode Island was one of the few blue states that was committed to putting kids first. Can you remember even one major outbreak that was tied to school transmission (not a handful of cases, but an outbreak)? I can’t. And teachers aren’t at greater risk either.

Many of the parents I’m working with on this issue see themselves as progressive and have until now supported organized labor and unions (I myself went to the picket line for Oakland teachers 2 years ago), but it’s so clear to us that teachers’ unions are dead wrong on this issue and that their interests are diametrically opposed to what’s best for our kids. Your own kid might be doing ok in remote learning, but by and large, kids aren’t doing well. Mine sure isn’t. Just remember: the principles of child development haven’t just vanished because we’re in a pandemic. It’s still not good to have our kids in front of the screen for hours upon hours every day. Kids still need to learn alongside other kids and still need to play with other kids. What I’m saying is, there’s no amount of improvement of distance learning you can do that will make it be a good platform for learning.

Now, here’s where I’m gonna go in hard on the unions. NOT the teachers, but the unions. I know there are many teachers who don’t feel the union represents them on this. And to that point, here are some amazing examples of brave teachers who have spoken out to say that blocking reopening is morally wrong.

Fantastic op-ed by NYC teacher

This YouTube video of a CA teacher calling out her union at a school board meeting is a must-watch

Another op-ed by Baltimore teacher

Great recent piece in SF Chronicle about SF teachers who have been afraid to speak up until now

I’ve seen a culture of shaming here in Oakland that surrounds any critique of the union, so it’s very hard for teachers to take this public stance and say the union is wrong, but more and more simply can’t in good conscience pretend this isn’t harming kids. I know distance learning is very hard on teachers as well as kids, which is why I can’t understand why so many are allowing their unfounded fear to blind them to the data and research that says schools can reopen safely.

I’ve seen the most absurd justifications from unions and their allies for why we shouldn’t reopen schools, like denying there’s any learning loss associated with distance learning or suggesting parents can be adequate substitutes for teachers (SF school board president Gabriela Lopez). I mean, it’s so incredibly tone-deaf and ridiculous: they are devaluing their own profession just so as not to go back to the classroom! If parents or anyone else could fill in so easily, why should we pay teachers more? Why should we value them as professionals? Real valuing of your profession means admitting remote learning is a poor substitute for face-to-face, interpersonal contact and that parents can’t do teachers’ jobs, and trying to get back to that as soon as possible.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the SF school board and the way they just pushed through renaming of 44 schools (which will cost a ton of money) and (just last night) made a rash, unpopular decision to change Lowell’s admission process, all while even the youngest kids haven’t gone back to the classroom! They’re so incredibly out of touch with the reality of public school families right now that it took a lawsuit to light a fire under their asses! And no, the agreed upon deal with SF teacher’s union isn’t good enough because there’s no reopening date.

California says schools can reopen once cases are less than 25 per 100K people (ie, in the purple tier), but the deal says either SF has to be in red tier with all school staff vaccinated or in the orange tier (unlikely for this school year, which is exactly what unions want). And if you think fall 2021 is safe for full reopening, think again. They will likely argue for hybrid/2 days a week even when all adults are vaccinated. These demands, which SFUSD should never have agreed to, are completely out of touch with the state and county public health guidelines — that we can open K-6th grade in places like SF right now (SF is currently at about 11.5 cases per 100K). As for older kids, we have no idea if teachers will even agree to go back to middle/high school in the fall at all.

I just want you all to understand that reaching a deal doesn’t mean reopening will be happening soon. In contrast, NYC elementary schools have been open since November and they’re now planning for reopening middle schools, Chicago’s union (which had an incredibly bitter fight with the district) just reached a deal to go back later this month, Miami has been open this whole damn time! The Bay Area/California isn’t special — the only difference is that our unions are incredibly powerful and have been able to hold our kids’ education hostage.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this graphic that someone shared on Twitter a few days ago. I can’t explain how depressed and enraged it made me feel to see in these stark visual terms how my home state (and the entire west coast) is failing its kids so miserably. I’ve never felt ashamed of California until now, that its leaders care more about appeasing unions (one of the most powerful lobbies in the state) than about the wellbeing of kids.

Other things that have made me flip my lid about this situation: teachers unions are demanding vaccinations before going back to school — last month, some here in SF and Oakland were even saying vaccinations wouldn’t be enough to get them back to the classroom! No other essential worker has had the privilege to demand this — and this has been a real slap in the face to all the essential workers (like my spouse) who have been going to their workplace for 11 months with no vaccine and who aren’t being prioritized like teachers are.

It is this particular stance that has really alienated many other essential workers, particularly those who work on the front lines — the fact that teachers in blue states have been so incredibly protected during this pandemic, while all others have not had the privilege to demand this. So I don’t ever wanna hear again about teachers being “underdogs” or having no power — unions contribute millions to Dem politicians and that’s why people like Newsom and Biden have been so damn weak on this issue and put kids last (all while Newsom’s own kids attend private school in-person). Unions are a behemoth in California and parents are the only group of people advocating for our kids needs. No one else is gonna do it.

I also want to bring up an ugly aspect of this whole debate: the ways unions have played the race card and presumed to speak for Black and Brown families. As an advocate for reopening schools I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen union reps and supporters say it’s only white, wealthy parents who want to reopen and that we are racist to want this. First, it is false that only white parents want to reopen. White parents do tend to trust the school districts more than Black and Latino families do, with good reason — white kids get treated better and go to better funded schools. So naturally, we tend to favor reopening, as we trust it can be done safely.

However, we can’t just ignore the role of white teachers in this dynamic. In this country, teachers are around 80% white — something people don’t talk about. So why is it that when white parents support reopening it’s racist and we don’t care about Black and Brown kids (which, PS, my own kid isn’t white!), but when mostly white teachers unions advocate for their interests, they’re representing what Black and brown families want? The reality is, neither white parents nor white teachers can speak for Black and Latino families, many of whom have their own reasons for not wanting to send their kids back (like having experienced COVID close-up or not trusting school system to put into place adequate safety measures). And yet, they’re not a monolith either — many want and need their kids back in school. Our family survey here in Oakland indicated that Black and Latino families were evenly split between three choices: 1/3 wanted to send kids back, 1/3 didn’t, and 1/3 wasn’t sure. The unions interpret this as “a majority of Black and Latino families don’t want to go back,” but as should be clear, that’s a distortion. Their voices are drowned out by unions insisting they speak for marginalized families.

But don’t take it from me. Watch this incredible statement by a Chicago-based Latina sociologist and mom about the ways unions have cynically played the race card:

https://twitter.com/karenvaites/status/1355947764027420680

Lastly, I just want to say: many parents feel absolutely betrayed by teachers unions. I think they’re making a massive miscalculation with these rigid, stances not backed up by any data and demands that go way beyond what their public health officials are suggesting. What they’re doing right now is incredibly myopic. They are handing thousands and thousands of parents over to private/parochial schools or charter schools, and are paving the way for a major decimation of public education. Parents will never choose ideological loyalty over their kids and the more unions dig in their heels, the angrier parents get. Many have already fled public ed. Some who could never have fathomed sending their kids to private school are considering it now. Families with means (and even those who don’t but will take out loans) will leave in droves. I don’t understand how unions don’t see this — the only explanation I can find is that they’re so ensconced in their ideological bubble that they’re blind to the reality of what’s going on.

Friends, I’ve never spent so much unpaid labor and time advocating for an issue and I’ve never been so convinced that I was doing the right thing — not just for my own kid, but for all kids. Nothing has made me want to leave this country more than this issue, especially as I’ve seen all of Europe put kids first. How can we possibly accept that most kids in private schools are back in their classrooms while public school kids suffer from depression and fall behind? How can we think it’s ok for urban districts with majority Brown and Black kids to abandon their duty to these kids for going on a year and possibly much longer, all because teachers unions refuse to do what all other essential workers have done for 11 months? There is no such thing as zero risk (what they’re demanding), and a harm reduction approach means we must do what’s best for the most people, which is to open schools.

Lastly, for those of you parents who don’t want to send your kids back yet for whatever reason: we have no desire to force you to go back. We honestly don’t care if you decide to stay remote — that’s your decision. But to side with the unions and advocate for keeping schools closed until the teachers “feel” it’s safe (which is a constantly moving goal post), and NOT when public health officials decide it’s safe (as they already have) is actively harmful to kids, and frankly selfish. You will continue to have a choice — so give us the choice as well to send our kids back to school.

February 20, 2021. Tags: , , , . COVID-19, Education, Unions. Leave a comment.

Melissa DeRosa’s admission on nursing home coverup sparks calls for probe – and Cuomo’s prosecution

https://nypost.com/2021/02/12/cuomo-aides-admission-on-nursing-home-coverup-sparks-calls-for-probe/

Melissa DeRosa’s admission on nursing home coverup sparks calls for probe – and Cuomo’s prosecution

By Yaron Steinbuch

February 12, 2021

The stunning admission by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide that the administration withheld the state’s nursing home death toll out of fear that the damning numbers would “be used against us” by the feds has sparked bipartisan calls for a thorough probe — and prosecution of the governor.

“Governor Cuomo, the Secretary to the Governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the Attorney General of New York State and the U.S. Department of Justice,” US Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) wrote in a statement.

“This bombshell admission of a coverup and the remarks by the Secretary to the Governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power,” Stefanik continued.

“I have said from the beginning that this is more than a nursing home scandal, this is a massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government implicating the Governor, the Secretary to the Governor, the New York State Health Commissioner and the Governor’s staff,” she wrote.

“The families who lost loved ones, New Yorkers, and all Americans deserve accountability from the U.S. Department of Justice that will be independent and not swayed by the desperate political pressure from Governor Cuomo.”

New York Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Niagara) said in a tweet: “Governor Cuomo and his administration must be investigated from top to bottom and he must be stripped of his emergency powers. Justice needs to be brought for the grieving families who have been ignored to protect Governor Cuomo and his Democrat allies in the Legislature.”

In a separate statement, he said: “The news today that Governor Cuomo’s top aide admitted to deliberately withholding information about COVID-19 deaths is the latest in a string of disturbing acts of corruption by his administration.

“This is clearly a gross obstruction of justice. Instead of apologizing or providing answers to the thousands of New York families who lost loved ones, the Governor’s administration made apologies to politicians behind closed doors for the ‘political inconvenience,’ this scandal has caused them.

The comments come after The Post revealed that secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa said during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders that the administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording obtained by The Post.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, she said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”

“And basically, we froze,” DeRosa told the lawmakers.

“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she added.

State Attorney General Letitia James recently announced in a damning 76-page report that the Empire State’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 may be more than 50 percent higher than officials have claimed because Cuomo’s administration had not revealed how many of those residents died in hospitals.

The bombshell findings could push the  DOH tally of 8,711 deaths to more than 13,000, based on a survey of 62 nursing homes that found the state undercounted the fatalities there by an average of 56 percent.

New York State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy thundered,  “The second most powerful person in state government and top aide to Governor Cuomo admitted on video to the premeditated and willful violation of state laws and what clearly amounts to federal obstruction of justice. Andrew Cuomo has abused his power and destroyed the trust placed in the office of governor. Prosecution and impeachment discussions must begin right away.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said Cuomo “has blood on his hands.”

“The Cuomo Coverup led to needless deaths of New Yorkers everyone knew were at risk. And Fredo and CNN helped him hide it while laughing about it!” Greene said in a tweet, using Trump’s reference to CNN anchor Chris Cuomo based on Fredo Corleone, the ineffective son from “The Godfather.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also reacted on Twitter, writing: “There it is. Cuomo’s aide just admitted to covering up nursing home data so federal prosecutors couldn’t find it. Time for federal investigations. Time for prosecutions. Time for JUSTICE.”

He added: “The more the truth comes out, the worse it gets for Cuomo.”

Democrats, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, also assailed the governor, tweeting: “To continual defenders of @NYGovCuomo, how is this ok? How is it not #Trump like?

“And when FORCED into admission, the most you get is a sorry we got caught…and not even directly from him or to the families. All while asking NYers to trust your decisions,” he added.

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) also weighed in, saying in a tweet: “You’re only sorry that you all got caught. Because of your decisions, thousands of people died who did not have to die. We’re not ‘offended’, Melissa, we’re furious – with extremely good reason.”

State Sen. Andrew Gornardes (D-Bay Ridge) called it a “betrayal of the public trust.”

“There needs to be full accountability for what happened, and the legislature needs to reconsider its broad grant of emergency powers to the governor,” he said in a tweet.

In a prepared statement, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, “We explained that the Trump administration was in the midst of a politically motivated effort to blame democratic states for COVID deaths and that we were cooperating with Federal document productions and that was the priority and now that it is over we can address the state legislature.”

“That said, we were working simultaneously to complete the audit of information they were asking for,” he added.

The DOJ has declined to comment.

February 12, 2021. Tags: , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

Nation Prepares To Celebrate 1st Anniversary Of Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve [satire]

https://babylonbee.com/news/nation-prepares-to-celebrate-1st-annual-anniversary-of-two-weeks-to-flatten-the-curve

Nation Prepares To Celebrate 1st Anniversary Of Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve

February 8, 2021

U.S.—The nation is preparing to celebrate what is expected to become a beloved annual holiday: Two Weeks To Slow The Spread Day, to be held in March every year.

“This time of year we like to come together to remember the historic day one year ago when we put on masks and locked ourselves down, trusting that the lockdown would be over in just two weeks,” said local man Paul Christof as he stared out his window longingly, his three masks securely in place. “This year, I’m going all out with a Zoom party with no more than five of my closest friends — I mean, closest, figuratively speaking, of course. We’ll be literally far apart, because I want to stay home and stay safe, and I don’t want grandma to die.”

Traditional festivities for the newly christened American holiday include remote Amazon gift exchanges, ordering DoorDash feasts for just yourself, and the customary binging of the Netflix. Historians believe the holiday will become a hit, and people will continue to wear masks and stay home throughout the year as the festive day is celebrated for hundreds of years to come.

February 10, 2021. Tags: , , , . COVID-19, Humor. Leave a comment.

Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki: “Even after you’re vaccinated, social distancing and wearing masks will be essential”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4I-o9CoAtE

https://twitter.com/DailyCaller/status/1357381715401056256

February 5, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . COVID-19, Joe Biden. Leave a comment.

A miracle! Only 23 Americans tested positive for the flu last week, compared to 14,657 cases reported last year at the same time

https://www.conservativenewsdaily.net/breaking-news/a-miracle-only-23-americans-tested-positive-for-flu-last-week-compared-to-14657-cases-reported-last-year-at-same-time/

A Miracle! Only 23 Americans Tested Positive for Flu Last Week Compared to 14,657 Cases Reported Last Year at Same Time

January 31, 2021

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being lied to?

450,390 people have now died WITH the coronavirus in the US this year.

That number includes poisonings, shootings, homicides and hospice deaths.

The Gateway Pundit reported news from the CDC in August that only 6% of all deaths in the US classified as Coronavirus deaths actually died from the China Coronavirus exclusively.

That means the number of those poor people who died from the coronavirus exclusively is much, much lower than the headlines.

The number of flu cases in the US is at an all-time low this flu season.

The 2020 numbers are that line at the bottom with all the triangles.

Here is the current map for reported flu cases in the US this year.

Even the liberal website weather.com is reporting a surprisingly low number of flu cases this year.

Weather.com reported:

During the second week in January, 23 people tested positive for the flu in the United States.

More than 14,657 tested positive for the flu during the same time last year, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

“It’s crazy,” Lynnette Brammer, who leads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Domestic Influenza Surveillance team, told The Washington Post. “This is my 30th flu season. I never would have expected to see flu activity this low.”

For the week ending January 16, the CDC reported low or minimal flu activity in almost every state and territory.

Last year, flu activity was high in 44 states that week, plus Puerto Rico and New York City. Only one state, New Hampshire, had minimal flu activity.

Doctors and health experts say the large number of people who got flu vaccines leading into this year’s flu season, combined with social distancing and other measures designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, are likely contributors for the steep drop.

January 31, 2021. Tags: , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

Even after getting vaccinated, teachers union in Fairfax County, Virginia refuses to go back to work

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zqczWNa_yuoJ:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/01/25/fairfax-county-should-open-schools-or-stop-vaccinating-teachers/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Fairfax County should open schools or stop vaccinating teachers

By Rory Cooper

January 25, 2021

The Fairfax County school system demanded and then received high-priority placement for teachers and administrators to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Those vaccines began a week ago, and, according to the Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand, 5,000 teachers have received their first dose and an additional 22,000 teachers are registered to receive their first dose soon.
 
And yet, having jumped to the front of the vaccine line, Brabrand, the FCPS School Board and the teachers union are delaying opening schools. That raises the question of why they have the priority placement to begin with, and whether these vaccinations should be immediately halted so that high-risk individuals or public servants who have been working outside of their homes for the entirety of the year have access.

There is simply no common-sense explanation for vaccinating teachers ahead of other high-risk groups if they refuse to return to full-time in-person learning. The simple truth is that the Fairfax school system wants the benefits of heroism without taking a heroic action.

At the Jan. 21 school board meeting, Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams said she received her first vaccine dose on Jan. 14, two days ahead of the scheduled start for school personnel. She has said that her union would not support a return to full-time education even in the fall. The fall. As in September 2021. Nine months after she was vaccinated.

The union says that all students must also be vaccinated. Never mind that no current vaccine has been approved for use on children under the age of 14. Adams also wants 14 days of zero community spread. Neither of these goals is likely to occur this calendar year. The excuses pile up faster than the half-inch of snow that typically shuts down school operations.

Students are struggling. They have been locked out of schools for nearly a year now. Children with learning disabilities have had little to no support. Special-needs children were turned away from a hybrid return by the union. Kindergartners have never seen their schools. Return dates have been continually pushed back, usually the night before a return was scheduled, resulting in a few tears shed in our home (by the kids, too).

Academically, students are struggling. The data shows that decisively. Emotionally, they’re struggling. Sadly, the data also shows that decisively, and parents are seeing it. Real harm is being caused to them, and it’s by the people meant to look out for them. And they want that harm to continue for another year.

Typically, when the school opening debate is had, union allies line up to accuse parents of wanting teachers to get sick or wanting increased community spread. Or they selfishly accuse parents of wanting a day care not an education. These insulting and bad-faith arguments are not supported by science or medical, pediatric and pandemic experts who almost universally say schools should be open for public health purposes.

Schools are indeed open all across this country five days a week. Teachers without vaccines in public schools elsewhere, or private schools right here in Fairfax County, are working every day with reasonable mitigation efforts and with very little negative consequence. A valid question is whether these teachers who have been in-person for months or the entire year have also been skipped in the vaccination line by the Fairfax teachers union.

Last week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that his state is prepared to take all available legislative and legal action to get schools reopened in the next several weeks. He was, of course, attacked by unions in his own state. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Fairfax County Chairman Jeffrey McKay (D) continue to hide from this issue altogether and must hope that people simply forget that we even have a governor or county government.

It bears repeating that Fairfax County schools are some of the best-funded schools in our nation. They have had a year to make plans and use their incredible resources to open schools. Instead they have done very little to that effect, leaning on their four-day-a-week schedule of laptop time. And this funding is at risk because taxpaying parents are voting with their feet and are either begging for entry to private schools or leaving the county altogether.

The school board, under threat of recall by several parent groups, has shown itself to be completely unprepared and unwilling to execute their positions responsibly. Voters should sign recall petitions and remember their incompetence at the ballot box.

Countless people with serious health risks may not see a vaccine for months. They were told to wait for the teachers. And now school administrators simply don’t want to make good on the promise of their position in the vaccine line. It’s time to open the schools full time or get new administrators. Really, we should do both.

January 27, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . COVID-19, Education, Unions. Leave a comment.

Gov. Noem never shut down South Dakota. Their unemployment rate just dropped to 3.0%. That’s lower than it was BEFORE the pandemic.

https://notthebee.com/article/gov-noem-never-shut-down-south-dakota-their-unemployment-rate-just-dropped-to-30-thats-lower-than-it-was-before-the-pandemic

Gov. Noem never shut down South Dakota. Their unemployment rate just dropped to 3.0%. That’s lower than it was BEFORE the pandemic.

By Doc Holliday
 
January 22, 2021

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s response to the pandemic was an eminently American response. So of course the liberal media tried to crucify her for it.

But, as they say, you can’t argue with results.

https://twitter.com/govkristinoem/status/1352663063707623426

That’s how it’s done, ladies and gents, in my humble opinion.

We are seeing in living color the myriad terrible consequences of draconian lockdown orders. They may not be as easily quantifiable on a chart or graph, but we see them in our neighborhoods and schools and churches every day. People’s lives have been turned upside down and, in many cases, destroyed — not by a virus, but by state governments with authoritarian strategies.

Noem’s strategy, on the other hand, can, I think, can be summed up nicely in this one paragraph from an op-ed she wrote for the Wall Street Journal in December:

“Rather than following the pack and mandating harsh rules, South Dakota provides our residents with information about what is happening on the ground in our state—the science, facts and data. Then, we ask all South Dakotans to take personal responsibility for their health, the health of their loved ones, and—in turn—the health of our communities. The state hasn’t issued lockdowns or mask mandates. We haven’t shut down businesses or closed churches. In fact, our state has never even defined what an “essential business” is. That isn’t the government’s role.”


Provide free people accurate information and then trust free people to make their own decisions based on their own unique circumstances?

January 23, 2021. Tags: , , , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

Biden signs mask mandate for people on federal property, then proceeds to violate his own mandate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqwyd7tJfYY

January 21, 2021. Tags: , , , . COVID-19, Joe Biden. Leave a comment.

Why did the World Health Organization announce tougher criteria for COVID-19 diagnosis on the same day as Biden’s inauguration?

When Trump was President, a person only needed a single positive PCR test to get diagnosed with COVID-19.

But now that Biden is President – on the very same day as his inauguration – the World Health Organization is announcing that that is no longer enough.

Why did they do this?

And why did they make the announcement on the same day as Biden’s inauguration?

https://www.who.int/news/item/20-01-2021-who-information-notice-for-ivd-users-2020-05

Nucleic acid testing (NAT) technologies that use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of SARS-CoV-2

20 January 2021 Medical product alert

Geneva

Product type: Nucleic acid testing (NAT) technologies that use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of SARS-CoV-2

Target audience: laboratory professionals and users of IVDs.

Description of the problem: WHO requests users to follow the instructions for use (IFU) when interpreting results for specimens tested using PCR methodology.

Users of IVDs must read and follow the IFU carefully to determine if manual adjustment of the PCR positivity threshold is recommended by the manufacturer.

WHO guidance Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 states that careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed (1). The cycle threshold (Ct) needed to detect virus is inversely proportional to the patient’s viral load. Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology.

WHO reminds IVD users that disease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results; as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of false positive increases (2). This means that the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS-CoV-2 detected) is truly infected with SARS-CoV-2 decreases as prevalence decreases, irrespective of the claimed specificity.

Most PCR assays are indicated as an aid for diagnosis, therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information.

January 21, 2021. Tags: , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

If Project Veritas is not a legitimate source of information, then why did PBS just fire its own principal counsel right after Project Veritas released this video of him?

Time and time again, liberals keep saying that Project Veritas is not a legitimate source of information.

So why did PBS just fire its own principal counsel right after Project Veritas released this video of him?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1r2rdmWsPE

Here’s an article about it:

https://dailycaller.com/2021/01/12/pbs-fires-former-employee-following-project-veritas-video-exposing-hateful-rhetoric/

PBS Fires Former Employee Following Project Veritas Video Exposing ‘Hateful Rhetoric’

By Mary Margaret Olohan

January 12, 2020

PBS is distancing itself from a former employee featured in a Project Veritas video who appeared to defend violent attacks on the White House, proposed re-education for the children of President Donald Trump supporters, and praised the COVID-19 deaths of GOP voters.

“This employee no longer works for PBS,” a PBS spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “As a mid-level staff attorney, he did not speak on behalf of our organization, nor did he make any editorial decisions.”

“There is no place for hateful rhetoric at PBS, and this individual’s views in no way reflect our values or opinions,” the spokesperson said. “We strongly condemn violence and will continue to do what we have done for 50 years — use our national platform and local presence to strengthen communities and bring people together.”

PBS did not clarify to the DCNF whether the employee was fired as a result of the video. Project Veritas tweeted Tuesday afternoon that former PBS principal counsel Michael Beller had been fired.

Project Veritas published a video Tuesday that allegedly shows Beller saying, “We go for all the Republican voters and Homeland Security will take their children away…we’ll put them into the re-education camps.”

Another clip shows Beller allegedly discussing “enlightenment camps,” saying, “They’re nice, they have Sesame Street characters in the classrooms, and they watch PBS all day.”

“Americans are so f*cking dumb,” Beller allegedly said in the video. “You know, most people are dumb. It’s good to live in a place [Washington, D.C.] where people are educated and know stuff. Could you imagine if you lived in one of these other towns or cities where everybody’s just stupid?”

The video also shows Beller allegedly saying, “What’s great is that COVID is spiking in all the red states right now. So that’s great…a lot of them [red state voters] are sick and dying.”

It’s still unclear if Beller was speaking in his own voice, interpreting how GOP voters feel, or recounting something he’d heard.

January 12, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , . COVID-19, Media bias, Police state. Leave a comment.

It’s a Miracle! The Flu Is Eradicated!

https://wheelgunr.blogspot.com/2020/12/its-miracle-flu-is-eradicated.html

It’s a Miracle! The Flu Is Eradicated!

December 29, 2020

Or maybe not. Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report | CDC.

Maybe this falls under the heading of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. Do you think we cured the Flu, do you think they are ignoring the Flu, or do you think government is lying to you? (Hint: EVERYONE is lying to you.)

As usual, click the images for a larger view.

Flu map for week 51 from the 2019-2020 Flu Season (from the CDC page linked above). Last year week 51 ended on Dec 21, 2019.

And a similar map from the 2020-2021 Flu season, for week 51 – which ended Dec 19, 2020.

Part of the caption (from 2019) reads…

This map use the proportion of outpatient visits to healthcare providers for influenza-like illness to measure the ILI activity level within a state.

Gee, do you think that “influenza-like illness” is getting counted differently this year? Hat tip to Twitter and Dr. David Samadi, MD.

As for Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics, the origin of the phrase is confused, but it seem Benjamin Disraeli never said that.

December 30, 2020. Tags: , , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

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