handling pandemic'

‘Not handling the pandemic well’: Man fires at officers with AK-47 after refusing to wear a mask, police say – The Washington Post

When a cigar shop clerk told Adam Zaborowski on Friday he had to wear a mask in the shop, the 35-year-old angrily refused. Instead, he grabbed two stogies, stormed outside — and then pulled a handgun and shot at the clerk, Bethlehem Township, Pa., police said.

The next day, cornered near his home, Zaborowski allegedly fired at police with an AK-47, sparking a wild shootout with at least seven officers that ended with him shot multiple times and under arrest.

The case is the latest violent incident tied to arguments over mandatory mask orders. But Zaborowski’s reaction was driven by his own intense difficulty with the pandemic, his attorney claimed; before the shootout, Zaborowski had lost his job and had also recently lost custody of his child.

“He just wasn’t dealing well with the loss of his job, the loss of his child, just not handling the pandemic well,” John Waldron told the Express-Times on Sunday, while noting those factors didn’t justify his violent conduct. “I think he was getting stretched too tight.”

Zaborowski’s alleged rampage started Friday morning at Cigars International in Bethlehem Township, where he adamantly argued he didn’t have to wear a mask, even after a clerk offered to serve him curbside.

“It’s crazy,” said Tom Gallagher, who was shopping in the store at the time. “It’s the mask. The guy was obviously anti-mask.”

After Zaborowski walked out without paying for his cigars, police say he fired his gun once in the air and twice at a clerk who confronted him outside. Multiple customers were also sitting outside the shop in the direction he fired.

The next morning, police and state troopers were waiting to arrest Zaborowski outside his home in Slatington, Pa., when he hopped in a truck and drove off, police told the Express-Times. When they stopped him nearby, he jumped out of the vehicle and started firing at police with the AK-47 and a semiautomatic handgun.

“Both the Slatington Borough officer and troopers returned fire and struck Zaborowski,” State Trooper Nathan Branosky said in a news release.

Zaborowski was hit in the buttocks and leg, Waldron said, and is expected to recover.

“The fact that he got shot twice with non-life-threatening injures when he had an AK-47 and another handgun, Adam is very fortunate he ended up the way he did,” Waldron told the Express-Times.

He is now charged with 22 counts including attempted homicide, aggravated assault and robbery, the Express-Times reported, and is being held on $1 million bail.

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Coronavirus pandemic'

Coronavirus pandemic causes another health concern — closed public restrooms – The Washington Post

SEATTLE — When courier Brent Williams makes his daily deliveries around the city here, he runs into one persistent problem: There’s almost nowhere to use the restroom. Most public buildings are closed under the pandemic, and restaurants and coffee shops that have shifted to carryout service won’t let him use their facilities.

“It’s hard to find any place where I can use the restroom,” said Williams, speaking outside a ­library in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood that has reopened its ­restrooms to the public.

The library is one of five citywide to have opened their doors, and other parts of the city have almost no options for those who need to relieve themselves or wash their hands.

“I understand why some people downtown will duck into an alleyway,” he said. “There’s nowhere else to go, and I’m not going to do it in my pants.”

The lack of restrooms has become an issue for delivery workers, taxi and ride-hailing drivers and others who make their living outside of a fixed office building. For the city’s homeless, it’s part of an ongoing problem that preceded covid-19.

“It’s gone from bad to worse,” said Eric, who lives in an encampment near Interstate 5. (Eric asked to be identified by only his first name.) “It’s definitely much, much harder.”

A nearby pet supply store used to let homeless people use the restroom, but that changed during the pandemic. Conditions improved markedly when the city placed a portable restroom and handwashing station near the camp, but Eric said many more parts of town still lack similar amenities.

“It doesn’t smell like urine out here anymore,” he said. “Forty to 50 people having to [urinate] and [defecate] every day, what do you expect? I’m surprised we don’t see these [portable stations] all over the place.”

Seattle officials say the city has set up 32 portable toilets during the pandemic, bringing the total to 114 citywide. Another 107 restrooms are available at city parks. At the five reopened library restrooms, nearly 6,000 patrons have taken advantage of the facilities, according to the library system, which has been tracking usage.

But advocates for the homeless say the city has come nowhere close to meeting the need.

“All the public libraries, all the public buildings, all the coffee shops — we’re probably down thousands of restrooms,” said Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. “There’s no way to make up for that with handwashing stations and a few port-a-potties.”

Eisinger’s group has asked throughout the pandemic for Seattle to reopen all public buildings for restroom use. Sabrina Register, spokeswoman for Seattle Public Utilities, did not answer emailed questions about reopening public buildings, or whether the city thinks its restroom supply is adequate.

She did note that Seattle has erected nearly 100 new shelter spaces in tiny house villages for the homeless, but added that “the need outweighs our available resources” during the pandemic.

Eisinger said some homeless people in the city have resorted to wearing adult diapers or using five-gallon buckets filled with cat litter. She pointed to the city’s recent hepatitis A outbreak — as well as that covid-19 can live in feces — as evidence that the city’s restroom shortage is a public health failure.

“This is a government responsibility, an obligation to the public to protect people’s health and safety,” she said. “This is a rich city in a rich county, and we still haven’t made available to people regular, dignified simple basics. It is better to meet folks’ needs on a regular basis than to wait until there is a public health crisis.”

The public restroom crisis is not limited to Seattle, nor did it begin during the pandemic. Those who study the issue say American cities have spent decades divesting from such facilities, leaving private businesses such as Starbucks and McDonald’s to pick up the slack.

“The government has basically given up on installing public toilets,” said Steven Soifer, a social work professor at the University of Mississippi who leads the American Restroom Association, which advocates for better public infrastructure. “It took something like the coronavirus to bring it out in the open.”

Private companies might require guests to buy something before using the restroom, advocates said, creating a barrier for homeless or otherwise marginalized people. In places where public urination laws are enforced, those who can’t pay may face repercussions.

“You’re criminalizing having a bladder,” said Taunya Lovell Banks, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law who recently wrote a law review article about the lack of public toilets. “If you’re caught by the police and ticketed, you have to register as a sex offender. It’s beyond the pale.”

Banks noted that businesses may be less likely to allow homeless people to use their facilities, and people of color also are less assured of gaining access. For female-bodied people, urinating discreetly in the absence of restrooms is not always possible.

“It’s a class issue, it’s a race issue, it’s a gender issue,” she said. “[During the pandemic,] middle-class white people who normally have greater access to toilets in public spaces are all of a sudden being denied access. Now they’re woke to it.”

Covid-19 has made things much worse. Market reports show that sales of urine funnels, external catheters and other restroom substitutes have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Public urination is on the rise in New York City, and leaders in Montpelier, Vt., fear that closures have left the city without an adequate restroom supply. In Chicago, delivery drivers can’t use the restrooms at restaurants when they pick up food, leaving some to resort to urinating in alleys.

Governments and businesses alike are justifiably concerned about the risk of covid-19 transmission in restrooms. Research has found that flushing creates “toilet plumes” that can spread particles carrying the coronavirus.

Places that do have open restrooms often need to limit occupancy and clean them frequently. Soifer said some restrooms have blocked off every other urinal.

But closing restrooms is its own public health risk. If delivery drivers, for instance, don’t have a place to safely relieve themselves and wash their hands, they risk spreading infection via the food and packages they drop off. Waste that ends up in the streets also could contribute to the spread of covid-19 or other diseases.

Ben Valdez, a Los Angeles-based ride-hailing driver and an organizer with Rideshare Drivers United, said he carries an empty bottle in the car in case of emergency — along with lots of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

“I literally have to plan my evening around being near a restroom,” he said “If I know I have no restroom available to me, I can’t drink anything or eat anything. I’ve had numerous occasions where I’ve had to decline a ride because I’ve been in that situation.”

Valdez said many gas stations now have “out of order” signs on their restrooms — likely an effort to limit transmission risk rather than an actual plumbing issue. Some hotels have limited access to lobby restrooms as well. With a driving radius that often reaches 100 miles, Valdez has found no institutions he can consistently count on to find a facility.

In San Francisco, officials have expanded the city’s Pit Stop program, which they think is a leading model for providing restroom access. The city set up 37 toilets to bolster the 24 already in place before the pandemic. The toilets are staffed by nonprofit partners, who clean them between each use and monitor for drug use and overdoses.

Since the city began staffing toilets, said Beth Rubenstein, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Works Department, the number of flushes per day went up “exponentially.” In neighborhoods where the Pit Stop toilets have been installed, the city has seen fewer calls for waste cleanup on the streets.

“It ensures cleanliness and safety,” Rubenstein said. “I know that the increased number of toilets [during the pandemic] has been very much used. Our essential workers use them as well, including our Public Works staff.”

Stateline is an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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pandemic' SpaceX

Even amid a pandemic, SpaceX is launching more than ever – Ars Technica

Halfway to 2021 —

SpaceX’s 11 launches match the total this year by Russia, Europe, and Japan combined.

  • Falcon 9 leaps off SLC-40 Tuesday with the 3rd GPS-III satellite for the United States Space Force / Air Force.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • This is the first time the United States Space Force logo has graced the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • The gray stripe at the bottom of the second stage is to keep the RP-1 fuel warm enough during longer coast periods.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • Falcon 9 B1060.1 standing vertically on LC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in advance of the GPS-III SV03 launch for the United States Air Force.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • A close-up of the number “60” atop the first stage of Falcon 9.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • The number 60 also graces the bottom of the first stage, but this is much more challenging to see on subsequent flights due to the soot buildup.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • This new booster, 1060, will add to the fleet of used rockets SpaceX has available.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • Clouds make for a nice launch.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • The Falcon 9 rocket’s performance was nominal.

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • How many more launches will this first stage make?

    Trevor Mahlmann

  • SpaceX has launched the Falcon 9 rocket 88 times, including 11 times in 2020.

On Tuesday, SpaceX launched its 11th Falcon 9 rocket of the year—with a brand-new first stage delivering a 3.7-ton GPS III satellite into orbit for improved navigation services. The mission’s customer, the US Space Force, was happy.

“The successful GPS III SV03 launch and recovery serves as another step in our journey with industry partners to create innovative, flexible, and affordable services to meet NSSL mission objectives and propel US dominance in space,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, Launch Enterprise director.

Tuesday afternoon’s launch puts the company on pace for 22 missions in this calendar year, which would break the company’s previous record of 21 launches set in 2018. What seems more remarkable about this pace is that it has occurred amid a global pandemic that has slowed operations in many other countries.

For example, SpaceX’s 11 launches match the total so far this year by Russia, Europe, and Japan combined. Globally, the company ranks second only to China’s state enterprise, which has attempted 15 orbital launches in 2020, two of which have been failures.

Much of the company’s activity during the pandemic has been driven by its own payloads. SpaceX has launched seven Starlink missions during the first half of this year, putting nearly 420 of its own satellites into low-Earth orbit. The company is moving forward with efforts to begin offering limited commercial Internet service by late this year or early 2021.

Barring a catastrophe, it seems likely that SpaceX will easily launch a dozen or more Falcon 9 rockets between now and the end of this year. The company has as many as 18 launches on its manifest, including half a dozen Starlink missions, a second Crew Dragon mission, a supply mission to the International Space Station, and several commercial missions. Its next launch may occur in a week, with the Starlink-9 mission, on July 8.

Thanks to the successful recovery of the first stage from Tuesday’s launch, SpaceX now has five first stage boosters at its disposal for future missions. Of those, it will be most interesting to see if, or when, Booster 1049 flies again. This first stage has already flown five flights dating back to September 2018 and could be ready for its sixth mission by the end of July—if engineers deem it safe to fly again.

Listing image by Trevor Mahlmann

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Brutal pandemic'

‘Brutal Pandemic Reality Check’: Top CDC Official Gives Grim Assessment on Coronavirus Containment – Common Dreams

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during a hearing on “An Emerging Disease Threat: How the U.S. Is Responding to COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus” on March 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The number two official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave a grim assessment Monday about the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., warning the country is “not even beginning to be over this” and “clearly not at a point where there’s so little virus being spread that it’s going to be easy to snuff out.”

The comments from CDC principal deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat came in a live-streamed Q&A session with The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Schuchat contrasted the situation in the U.S. with that of New Zealand or Singapore, “where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control.”

“We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging,” she said.

The new surge of Covid-19 cases in the U.S., warned Schuchat, is “really the beginning.”

“I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, ‘Hey it’s summer. Everything’s going to be fine. We’re over this,’ and we are not even beginning to be over this,” said Schuchat, adding, “There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so.”

“As much as we’ve studied [the 1918 flu pandemic], I think what we’re experiencing as a global community is really bad and it’s similar to that 1918 transformational experience,” she said.

PBS Newshour‘s William Brangham tweeted Schuchat’s comments served as a “brutal pandemic reality check.”


The nonprofit, independent journalism of Common Dreams needs your help. Our journalists are working harder than ever to bring you journalism that is essential to the survival of our democracy. But we can’t do it without you. Please support our 2020 Mid-Year Campaign today:

Public health experts weighed in on the interview as well.

Forthright, important comments on seriousness of US COVID situation from Anne Schuchat principal deputy @cdcgov. The country should hear more from Dr Schuchat who has led through big epidemics in past, planned for years, and speaks directly and factually

— Tom Inglesby (@T_Inglesby) June 30, 2020

Seeing Dr. Anne Schuchat speaking out and getting quoted in the press is the most encouraging COVID development in a long time, notwithstanding that she is bringing bad news = truth, a scarce commodity from USG recently.

— Marc Lipsitch (@mlipsitch) June 30, 2020

I listen to every word Dr. Schuchat says on @COVID19. She’s worked on this for 20+ years. Brilliant, thoughtful, effective. This is ESSENTIAL listening. Virus is “incredibly infectious.” More masks, less chance for virus to spread. Pearls of wisdom. Professional epidemiology.

— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) June 30, 2020

Schuchat’s interview took place the same day World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave a similarly sobering assessment of progress to contain the coronavirus, saying that “this is not even close to being over.”

“Although many countries have made some progress,” he said, “globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”

As of press time there were over 10.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including over 2.6 million in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins.

The university’s tracker also showed that Covid-19 has led to 509,706 deaths, 129, 545 of which were in the U.S.

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latest pandemic'

The Latest Pandemic Shortage: Coins Are The New Toilet Paper – NPR

Banks around the U.S. are running low on nickels, dimes, quarters and even pennies because of problems with production and distribution caused by coronavirus pandemic.

Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Banks around the U.S. are running low on nickels, dimes, quarters and even pennies because of problems with production and distribution caused by coronavirus pandemic.

Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just as supplies of toilet paper are finally getting back to normal, the coronavirus has triggered another shortage of something we typically take for granted: pocket change.

Banks around the U.S. are running low on nickels, dimes, quarters and even pennies. And the Federal Reserve, which supplies banks, has been forced to ration scarce supplies.

“It was just a surprise,” said Gay Dempsey, who runs the Bank of Lincoln County in Tennessee, when she learned of the rationing order. “Nobody was expecting it.”

Dempsey’s bank typically dispenses 400 to 500 rolls of pennies each week. Under the rationing order, her allotment was cut down to just 100 rolls, with similar cutbacks in nickels, dimes and quarters.

That spells trouble for Dempsey’s business customers, who need the coins to stock cash registers all around Lincoln County, Tenn.

“You think about all your grocery stores and convenience stores and a lot of people that still operate with cash,” Dempsey said. “They have to have that just to make change.”

Rural banks in particular seem to be getting shortchanged, according to Colin Barrett, CEO of the Tennessee Bankers Association.

Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., sounded the alarm last week during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee.

“My fear is that customers who use these banks will react very poorly,” Rose said. “And I know that we all don’t want to wake up to headlines in the near future such as ‘Banks Out of Money.’ ”

The congressman warned that if businesses are unable to make exact change, they’ll be forced to round up or round down, “in a time when pennies are the difference between profitability and loss.”

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell assured Rose that the central bank is monitoring the situation closely.

“We’re working with the mint to increase supply, and we’re working with the reserve banks to get that supply where it needs to be,” Powell said. “So we think it’s a temporary situation.”

The U.S. Mint produced fewer coins than usual this spring in an effort to protect employees from infection. But the larger problem — as with many other pandemic shortages — is distribution.

During the lockdown, many automatic coin-sorting machines that people typically use to cash in loose change were off-limits. And with many businesses closed, unused coins piled up in darkened cash drawers, in pants pockets and on nightstands, even as banks went begging.

“The flow of coins through the economy … kind of stopped,” Powell said.

The Fed chairman stressed that this clog in the financial plumbing should clear quickly, now that businesses are reopening, and that supplies of coins should soon be back to normal.

In the meantime, Dempsey, the banker, has secured an emergency stash of coins from some of her business customers who run vending machines and laundromats.

While a growing number of people rely on credit cards or smartphone apps for many transactions today, the coin crunch is a reminder that sometimes you just need change.

“Cash is still king, I guess,” Dempsey mused.

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pandemic' Since

Since the pandemic, 39 percent of Americans use cleansers and disinfectants in risky ways – The Washington Post

People have been amping up their use of cleansers and disinfectants in their homes to guard against the novel coronavirus. But 39 percent of U.S. adults are doing so in risky ways, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 20 percent say they have washed fruits and vegetables with bleach or used household cleansers or disinfectants on their hands. Other reported risky practices included misting the body with a household cleaning or disinfectant spray and drinking or gargling with bleach solutions, soapy water or other cleaning and disinfectant solutions. Based on survey data from a panel of 502 adults, determined to be a representative sampling of the U.S. population, the CDC says that people who used at least one of these unsafe practices were more than twice as likely to have a subsequent health issue — irritation of the nose, sinuses, skin or eyes, nausea or an upset stomach, dizziness, headaches or breathing problems — than were those who did none of these things (39 percent vs. 16 percent). The CDC says that calls to poison centers from January, just before covid-19 began to spread, through March about exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants increased 20 percent compared with the same period last year. Although the agency says that “transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through objects and surfaces,” hence the importance of social distancing and wearing masks, studies have found that the virus can remain viable for hours or days on surfaces. For that reason, health experts recommend disinfecting frequently touched surfaces where covid-19 transmission is a risk. People should wear disposable gloves and possibly eye protection, use no more than the amount recommended on a product’s label and avoid mixing chemical products. Health experts also say never eat, drink, breathe or inject a household cleanser or disinfectant into your body or apply it on your skin.

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pandemic' Russia

In Russia’s pandemic struggles, even Putin couldn’t speed bonuses to health workers – The Washington Post

MOSCOW — It was mid-March, and Russia had reported just 114 covid-19 cases, but President Vladimir Putin wanted to make a grand gesture: bonus payments for medical workers “who are performing their duties with honor.”

But weeks rolled on, and Russia’s pandemic numbers ballooned past 250,000 and then 350,000 — now at more than 370,000, the world’s third-largest number of confirmed cases after the United States and Brazil.

Medical workers were dying in their hundreds — 308 according to an unofficial count by medics. Many who kept working were not getting paid long-promised bonuses until recently. Some were even earning less money because the pay rate for working with covid-19 patients was lower than for their pre-pandemic jobs, such as surgeons.

The snags in delivering Putin’s bonus promise is more than just one bureaucratic glitch. It’s about a top-down governance system with underlings terrified to act. It also helps inform some of the larger truths in Russia’s struggle to control the pandemic even as countries to the west in Europe begin to lift their lockdowns.

Putin’s centralized power structure cannot handle the crisis alone. The president delegated much of the burden to regional officials, who were frightened of drawing attention to local problems and risking Moscow’s wrath.

One way to stay under the radar could be to understate cases or deaths, analysts say. With Putin’s promised bonuses, the instinct by regional leaders — ingrained over decades — was to minimize payments, fearing trouble from Moscow if they spent too much or paid people not entitled to bonuses.

Some regional officials have even counted the minutes that medical workers spent with infected patients.

“For Putin it’s a very uncomfortable position,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, director of Moscow political think tank R. Politik. “In fact, he turns out to be dependent on regional governors. Putin asks for something, and the government is not able to implement it in the way Putin intended.”

Low official figures

It has left Russia on the defensive on many fronts, including with regard to its official figures indicating an unusually low mortality rate. Authorities have vigorously denied accusations that statistics are being manipulated, claiming that Russia’s low rate is a sign the government is doing a good job. But it also could be Russia’s conservative counting method.

Infected patients who die in hospitals undergo autopsies. If there are no signs of lung infection, alternative causes are listed as the cause of death.

But regional statistics on cases and deaths were unreliable, Stanovaya said.

“For example, in the Caucasus region it’s just a total mess,” she added. “The numbers they give are like a fake, nothing to do with reality. In other regions, they’re not very careful with statistics and with these tests.”

There is no hiding the strains on Russia’s health system, though.

Svetlana Munirova, a surgeon of 20 years experience at Pokrovskaya hospital in St. Petersburg, was shocked to find her April pay dropped from 50,336 rubles (around $708) to 43,996 rubles ($619) as a result of being deployed to covid-19 treatment.

She did not get her bonuses until mid-May, she said in an interview, but her basic salary is lower because an infectious-disease doctor is paid less than a surgeon.

A cardiology surgeon in the same hospital told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper last month that he was normally paid the equivalent of $1,158 a month but received half as much in April because he was treating covid-19 patients.

“I don’t know why it was so hard to pay doctors and medics despite the fact that the authorities repeatedly ordered it,” said Munirova. “All my reflections on this issue will hardly change anything. Probably, like in most cases, the money ‘got lost’ on the way.”

At government meetings, Putin has grown testier by the day.

“Listen to me. Listen carefully. We have agreed, and it was clearly and unambiguously stated, that this money should be paid for working with patients with the coronavirus infection, not for some hours or minutes they are putting in,” he said at a televised May 15 meeting with government health, defense and regional officials.

Four days later, he was nagging again. “Back in March, we made provisions for incentive payments,” he complained in a televised meeting, adding that almost all of the allocated 51 billion rubles ($720 million) had been sent to regions.

“To my knowledge, far from all those who were entitled to these payments received them,” he snapped.

On Monday, health authorities finally reported that all necessary bonuses had been paid to 153,373 medical workers.

‘Very confusing’

Stanovaya said regional officials interpreted the bonus payment order as narrowly as they could: Regional governors are under pressure to prove they are doing a good job fighting the virus, so they tend to minimize the reported infections.

“Either they declare a lot of covid-19 patients, and they receive more money — but in this case, the Kremlin can interpret it as a failure in fighting this coronavirus — or you will have to decrease these numbers and receive less money,” she said.

One problem is that doctors are paid bonuses only for the exact time worked with patients who tested positive — but many infected patients are asymptomatic, and tests are unreliable in up to 30 percent of cases, Andrei Konoval co-chairman of the Action union of health workers, told Echo of Moscow radio last week.

“The regulations on payments are very confusing. . . . As a result, we have chaos that may lead to more protests among medics,” he said.

In the impoverished Dagestan region in the Caucasus — a region with shortages of ventilators and protective gear — the regional health minister, Dzmaludin Gadzhiibragimov, acknowledged in an interview with local blogger Ruslan Kurbanov that more than 40 doctors in the republic had died of covid-19.

That is a major embarrassment to federal government leaders, with official statistics claiming only 27 covid-19 deaths in the entire republic.

He said the republic had recorded 13,697 cases of covid-19 and community-acquired pneumonia — although the official covid-19 count was just 3,280.

“This is why we don’t trust the statistics,” said Stanovaya.

Putin asserted Tuesday that Russia had passed the peak of covid-19 cases. The daily increase has declined from around 18 percent a day in early April to 2.3 percent Wednesday. Some regions are beginning to open up.

But a spike in new cases in St. Petersburg after holidays in early May, when many people ignored isolation and social distancing rules, indicated potential dangers.

St. Petersburg health committee deputy chairman Andrei Sarana said Wednesday that covid-19 hospitalizations jumped recently from around 200 a day to 670 a day, putting doctors and hospitals under “colossal pressure.”

Natasha Abbakumova contributed to this report.

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pandemic' reshape

The pandemic could reshape the world order. Trump’s chaotic strategy is accelerating US losses – CNN

London (CNN)Europe outright rejected US President Donald Trump’s vision of the world this week. Tensions between these historic democratic allies that have been simmering since Trump came to office three years ago have now come to a boil during the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 has shocked the world by the speed of its spread, but it is also accelerating another global change in the balance of power — and not in America’s favor.
The extent of the divide became clear on Tuesday during a vote at the World Health Organization annual assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, backing Europe’s conciliatory approach to China relating to an investigation into the outbreak. Power had visibly ebbed away from the United States as its demand for a tougher approach was dismissed, a move that should sound alarm bells in Washington.
Five months into 2020 and it already feels like a new era: now there is only BC and AC — before and after coronavirus. Suddenly the dynamics of almost every single geopolitical dispute are being exacerbated by the pandemic, sharpened by the complexity and urgency of the situation.
Chief among these is the perennial, three-way battle for dominance between the US, Europe and China. Despite Trump’s early hailing of Xi Jinping’s handling of the pandemic, he has since blamed the Chinese President for covering up the early stages of China’s outbreak. Beijing has consistently denied such accusations, and criticized the US approach to the pandemic.
Trump has also sought to blame the WHO for siding with China, and cut almost $500 million in funding to the United Nations body. He doubled down Monday telling the agency he will permanently pull US funding if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days.”
Despite deep concerns about China’s handling of the pandemic, European leaders backed the WHO resolution calling for “a stepwise process of impartial independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate to review experience gained and lessons learned” from the global response to Covid-19.
The language is convoluted and hardly inspires confidence China will atone appropriately for its early failures, but it is a measure of the gulf opening up between Trump and his European allies that such a compromise could even be countenanced.

Unease in Europe

Europe’s decision to reject Trump’s confrontation with China and the WHO will affect both parties vying to win this year’s US election. Regardless of who wins that race, Trump and his handling of Covid-19 are weakening America’s global leverage.
It also shows how much the rest of the democratic world has riding on the US election this year. Europe is best served by a world leader and trading partner that shares its democratic values. The WHO vote was a salutary reminder of where power goes when that’s not the case.
As far as most of Europe is concerned, Trump’s chaotic and vindictive response to Covid-19 has crystallized their deepest concerns that his administration is going where no right-minded democracy can follow. Three years of “make do and mend” in the buckling transatlantic relationship is being pushed towards a permanent fissure, one that maybe won’t sever the relationship but allows others like China to take advantage.
Trump’s comments about the value of ingesting bleach to combat coronavirus, that he later claimed were sarcastic, could perhaps at another time have been brushed off as yet another Trumpian moment. These include his bullying of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018 at NATO, or his tiff with Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau at the G7 in the same year in Quebec. But now they just sound bizarre from this side of the Atlantic.
What cannot be overlooked when assessing the White House, however, is his administration’s unambiguous ouster of critics, including four inspector generals this past month. It is not a play most democratic European leaders would countenance, or could get away with.
At this distance from the US, Trump’s handling of Covid-19 suggests a deteriorating grasp of the responsibilities of leadership, and certainly does not show an ally who can be counted on at a time of an emergency.
In their speeches in Geneva on Monday the EU’s big two, German Chancellor Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, along with the meeting’s host, Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga, took aim at Trump’s Covid-19 actions to cut funding for the world body.
The Swiss said we “can’t expect a lot” from the WHO if “their funding is hit or miss,” while Merkel echoed the support for the WHO’s unity of purpose saying that “combating Covid-19” cannot be done alone. Macron appeared to warn off Trump and Xi from withholding possible future vaccines: “human health cannot be appropriated, brought or sold,” he said.
Notably Macron has been fighting a rearguard action with French pharma giant Sanofi after its CEO indicated the US might get access to any of his company’s potential vaccines before France, comments that Sanofi later said were “misinterpreted.”

Carrot-and-stick approach

International trust, never mind cooperation, is in short supply at the moment, and in the eyes of many Europeans, Trump is coming up short on both.
His inconsistent announcements, irascible nature and ill-advised comments, the latest claiming he was taking an unproven and possibly dangerous malaria medication as a Covid-19 prophylactic appear to leave European leaders little choice. They may not trust Xi, but they certainly don’t want Trump to dictate a strategy on the pandemic they believe will infuriate the Chinese Premier.
China is working on three of the world’s eight most hopeful vaccines as well as supplying personal protective equipment to many nations. Although Xi has promised not to limit access, he increasingly believes Trump’s China strategy is to deny their hi-tech products access to world markets, an existential threat. The potential conflict of interests is obvious.
European leaders believe it’s better to coax Xi into cooperation than to confront him.
Their act of independence is of course a slap in the face for Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s efforts to divide the world into two binary camps, and follows in the wake of the bruising conflict over the provision of 5G technology. In that battle, the US sought to bully Western nations into shunning the Chinese state-backed telecoms option, with threats to withhold intelligence briefings from those that disobeyed the order.
Yet with the US presidential election just over five months away, Europe’s decision (and that of more than 120 other nations) at this week’s WHO assembly is also a stark warning for America’s Democrats: lose in November and see Washington’s future influence in the world slip further over the horizon. Four more years of Trump, on his current path, would seem unlikely to reset his post Covid-19 image.
But if Trump wins the argument, and Xi is dealt with by confrontation, then America loses twice.
First, it loses because Xi escapes investigation, won’t admit any wrongdoing, and is unlikely to pay for his mistakes as Trump wants. Secondly Trump loses on the power stakes: Xi in essence, has dragged much of the world into his corner. That’s the Covid-19 effect shift in the power balance.
The UK, for instance, was initially hawkish about China’s alleged Covid-19 opacity: just last month, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, deputizing for the hospitalized PM Boris Johnson, was robust about China being held to account, telling a press briefing: “We cannot have business as usual after this crisis.”
Fast forward a month and his Cabinet colleague, Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared less bullish, telling the WHO assembly on Monday there was no need to investigate China specifically: “We support the need for a review of the global response at the appropriate point.”
In the circumstances, it might seem brave then to tempt Trump’s ire just as the UK is already in choppy waters with the US in its post-Brexit trade talks and its decision to allow Huawei limited access to its 5G mobile phone network.
Trump’s handling of Covid-19 is accelerating, not ameliorating, existing differences, but even so Europe has every reason to fear China’s creeping expansionism.

Canary in the coal mine

A case in point is Australia, which on Tuesday learned the high price of its support for Trump’s policy. The country’s hawkish right-wing government was in lockstep with the US President in demanding China face an independent WHO investigation over its failure to warn the world of the Covid-19 threat, but was delivered a heavy blow for its truculence. China slapped massive tariffs on imports of Australian barley.
Australia’s proximity to Xi’s anti-democratic tendencies and heavy dependence on trade with China now makes the country an unenviable democratic canary in the proverbial coal mine.
President Xi’s cynically timed intervention at the WHO Assembly Monday offering $2 billion to aid the WHO, as well as support for African nations, sends an unequivocal message: as the US President turns inwards, lashing out at critics, China takes up the slack.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic on the international stage hands Xi an opportunity he might not have dared wish for. The leader the Chinese President believes is doing most to hold his country back is falling out with his allies, so this is his moment to cement every gain before the situation is reversed.
Xi’s so-called “wolf diplomats” are doubling down on their leader’s message, criticizing all those who complain about China, by claiming it did nothing wrong, and was open and forthcoming about Covid-19.
The US’s slow disengagement from the world under former president Barack Obama is accelerating under his successor. And unless Democrats regain the White House in November they’ll find some of the levers of power no longer connect with their allies the way they used to.
An earlier version of this story misstated the location and number of countries at the 2018 G7 summit. This has been corrected.

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COVID pandemic'

COVID-19: How the 1918 Flu Pandemic tells us what could happen next – KAKE


The 1918 Flu Pandemic claimed at least 50 million lives worldwide. 

That year, much like today, no one knew how long the nightmare of a pandemic would last. 

“The virus was so lethal and so scary, without any social distancing orders, people emptied the streets,” says John M. Barry, the author of The Great Influenza. 

What can we learn from what happened after the 1918 Flu Pandemic? 

The pandemic could last longer than any of us would like. 

Anthropologist Carolyn Orbann with the University of Missouri found data from that state suggesting that the same pandemic flu that claimed lives in 1918 may have led to deaths years later. 

“For some parts of the state, it was actually 1920, the winter of 1920, when they experienced the worse number of deaths,” says Orbann. “For other parts of the state, it was that 1918 October, November, December when they experienced the peak number of deaths.”

Also, jump-starting the nation’s economy was a difficult process to navigate and lives were lost in the process. 

“There are a couple of cities that closed, opened, closed, and opened. They reimposed three times,” says Barry. “We have to get started the right way. We don’t want to start things up and then do what a lot of cities did in 1918 and have to reimpose the restrictions because there was an explosion of disease.”

Social distancing did play a role in saving lives in 1918. In fact, many people were willing to stay away from others in part because the illness was so terrifying. 

“You could bleed not only from your nose and mouth but from your eyes and ear,” says Barry. “That gets people’s attention. Some people turned so dark blue from lack of oxygen that in my book I quoted one doctor writing another doctor that he couldn’t distinguish African American soldiers from white soldiers because they both looked so– their pallor was so similar. That of course spread rumors of the black plague of the middle ages. So it turned out to be pretty easy to get people to social distance back then.”

What could change forever after the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The country has been reminded of what it’s like to try and contain and manage a deadly infectious disease. It could be more prepared to do so in the future if needed. 

“I think now we have a mental model of what to do in a pandemic as a community,” says Orbann. 

That means wearing masks and social distancing could last for some time. Another phenomenon has emerged as well. 

Whether you choose to wear a mask and practice social distancing makes others aware of what social group you may identify with. 

“These things have become a symbol of group membership,”says Orbann. “So if you’re for example wearing a mask, you’re signaling something about who you are, and what you value in accordance with other people who value the same things. And therefore if you’re not wearing a mask or you’re purposely displaying not wearing a mask, you’re signaling your values as part of a different idea group.” 

The pandemic also sheds light on whether life will ever go back to “normal.” 

“Back in 1918, 1919, 1920, people were celebrating again after the pandemic subsided,” says Orbann. 

While future celebrations may be more cautious, if history has anything to say about them, they will happen again. 

“Humans have kind of an amazing amount of mental resiliency,” says Orbann. “But I think that we will be somewhat more watchful.” 

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Another pandemic'

‘Another pandemic’: In Latin America, domestic abuse rises amid lockdown – Reuters

BUENOS AIRES/SANTIAGO/MEXICO CITY/LA PAZ (Reuters) – Lockdowns around Latin America are helping slow the spread of COVID-19, but are having a darker and less-intended consequence: a spike in calls to helplines suggests a rise in domestic abuse, in a region where almost 20 million women and girls suffer sexual and physical violence each year.

A woman enters an office of Bolivia’s Anti-Violence Task Force FELCV, after accusing her partner of domestic abuse, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in La Paz, Bolivia April 22, 2020. Picture taken April 22, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado

In cities from Buenos Aires to Mexico City, Santiago, São Paulo and La Paz, families and individuals have been confined in their homes in an unprecedented way, often only allowed out for emergencies or to shop for essentials.

Prosecutors, victim support teams, women’s movements and the United Nations all say this has caused a rise in domestic violence towards women. They cite increasing numbers of calls to abuse hotlines.

In some countries, like Mexico and Brazil, there has been a rise in formal reports of abuse, while in others, including Chile and Bolivia, there has been a drop in formal complaints. Prosecutors and UN Women said the latter was likely not due to a decline in violence, but because women were less able to seek help or report abuse through normal channels.

“The jump in violence has not surprised us, it is the unleashing of a violence that was already there in people,” said Eva Giberti, founder of the Victims Against Violence program in Argentina, who helps runs a hotline for women to report abuse.

“Under normal social circumstances that had been limited to some degree.”

Argentina’s emergency 137 line for abuse victims, supported by the justice department, has seen a 67% rise in calls for help in April versus a year earlier, after a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 20.

UN Women in a report on Wednesday said there was evidence of rising violence against women in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, and a doubling in the number of femicides in Argentina during the quarantine, citing a women’s observatory in Mar del Plata.

Pre-pandemic, the Argentine government estimates that a woman was killed every 23 hours.

Domestic violence “seems to be another pandemic,” said Lucía Vassallo, a film maker whose documentary “Line 137” looks at the issue.


Rising concern over domestic abuse has been global, with fears victims are being silenced in Italy, calls for help from women rising in Spain, and systems to prevent child abuse in the United States hampered by the lockdown.

In Latin America, the fear is that violence against women that was already prevalent is being exacerbated further. The region has seen huge marches and strikes by women over the last year against male aggression and abuse.

“In a situation of confinement, what is happening is that women are locked up with their own abusers in situations where they have very limited outlets,” Maria Noel Baeza, regional director for UN Women, told Reuters.

“Last year we had 3,800 femicides in the region, how many are we going to have this year?”

In Chile, the women’s minister said calls to domestic abuse helplines had increased 70% in the first weekend of quarantine. The government has bolstered counseling channels and looked to keep shelters open for women at risk.

Evelyn Matthei, mayor of Santiago’s wealthy Providencia district, told Reuters that calls for help to a local office providing legal, psychological and social help had leapt 500% under the lockdown.

Formal reports of domestic violence, however, actually declined 40% in the first half of April in Chile, according to the national prosecutors’ office, which the UN and prosecutors said was down to women having their movements restricted.

“This probably has to do with the fact that there is violence within the home but that women cannot go out, they dare not go out,” said Matthei.


In Brazil’s Sao Paulo state, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic and imposed sweeping isolation measures, there was a 45% jump last month in cases of violence against women where police were dispatched, compared to a year earlier, according to thinktank the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety.

In Mexico, complaints to police of domestic violence rose around a quarter in March against a year earlier, official data show.

“Since the lockdown, there’s been an increase in reports of domestic violence, many of those psychological violence,” said Blanca Aquino, director of the Municipal Institute for Women of Veracruz, the Mexican state with the country’s highest rate of femicides.

Arussi Unda, from Mexican feminist organization Brujas del Mar, which offers advice to women in abuse cases, said initially many calls to the group had come from neighbors hearing fights in other houses. She said there had been a rise in cases of “digital violence” and recently women looking simply to escape.

“Now we get many women asking for advice on how to leave the house and take their children without the partner later wanting to take them away by legal means,” she said.

Slideshow (4 Images)

In Colombia, daily domestic violence calls to a national women’s hotline were up nearly 130% during the first 18 days of the country’s quarantine, according to government figures. The lockdown has been extended until May 11.

Marta Dillon, an Argentine journalist and one of the founders of the “Ni Una Menos” women’s movement, said women around the world were looking to unite to tackle the issue.

“Male violence has increased under the conditions of quarantine, of social isolation… Us feminists have been saying this in Italy, in Turkey, in the United States. We are putting together a document amongst ourselves that will be a manifesto.”

Reporting by Lucila Sigal in Buenos Aires, Natalia Ramos in Santiago, Monica Machicao in La Paz, Ana Isabel Martinez in Mexico City, Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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