India, Day 1: World’s Largest Coronavirus Lockdown Begins

India’s 1.3 billion people have been told to stay at home. For some, it will mean starving. And an already fragile economy may collapse.

 

By Karan Deep SinghVindu GoelHari Kumar and 

NEW DELHI — India’s economy was sputtering even before its leader announced the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown. Now the state-ordered paralysis of virtually all commerce in the country has put millions of people out of work and left many families struggling to eat.

On the first day of the nationwide 21-day shutdown of nearly all services on Wednesday, the streets of Mumbai, India’s largest metropolis — usually so busy it’s known as Maximum City — were silent. Shuttered shops, empty train tracks, closed airports and idle factories all across the country were signs of the economic impact of the social distancing that the Indian government said was necessary to prevent new coronavirus infections.

India has reported 606 coronavirus cases so far, but with the population density so high and the public health system so weak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country’s 1.3 billion residents to stay inside to keep India from sliding into a disaster that could potentially dwarf what China, Italy, Spain, the United States and other countries have faced.

But Mr. Modi’s effort to prevent the spread of the virus will lead to its own calamitous damage.

Manual laborers have no work, farmers cannot tend fields, online retailers and pharmacists have been harassed by overzealous police officers. Countless people have been running out of cash.

“The kind of devastation that is going to be faced by the bottom 50 percent of the workers in the informal sector is unimaginable,” said Jayati Ghosh, an economist and professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

In some places, police officers have staked out roads and highways, stopping motorists and demanding to know why they were outside. Several states have closed their borders, forcing cargo trucks to simply park by the roadside.

Flipkart, the country’s largest online retailer, found it so difficult to move people and goods that it suspended delivery of everything except food.

Grocery stores were allowed to remain open, and in the cities, crowds swarmed and emptied the shelves. At an upscale market in New Delhi, one man stuffed his Mercedes with groceries on Wednesday afternoon, jumped behind the wheel and zoomed off — wearing blue rubber dishwashing gloves and a snorkeling mask.

The National Restaurant Association of India estimated that perhaps 20 percent of the 7.3 million restaurant workers will permanently lose their jobs as employers go out of business. “Many companies may not survive this onslaught,” said Anurag Katriar, the association’s chief executive and the owner of a chain of upscale eateries.

Harcharan Singh, a vendor in rural Punjab state who usually goes door to door peddling everything from oranges to cauliflower, has had nothing to sell for days. The big wholesale food markets he normally relies on have all been closed.

“Our business is completely shut,” he said. “We need this money to survive, get food for our families.”

Hundreds of millions of Indians are like Mr. Singh, with little or no savings. Rickshaw drivers, for example, buy food for their families with the money they make that day. Banned from the roads, many drivers don’t know how they will survive.

Credit…Adnan Abidi/Reuters

 

Economists at Barclays predicted Wednesday that the lockdown would last a month and shave two percentage points off India’s anemic economic growth rate. Although India is likely to escape a recession, Barclays said, such a significant slowdown would mean rising joblessness in a country where millions of young people enter the work force every year.

Mr. Modi acknowledged the trade-offs in a televised address on Tuesday night, when he first announced the nationwide lockdown.

“No doubt this lockdown will entail an economic cost for the country, but saving the life of each and every Indian is the first priority for me,” he said. “If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever.”

Economists are urging the government to create a huge stimulus package to blunt the effects of the lockdown.

India’s government stores an enormous grain supply, which could quickly be distributed to the poor, said Dharmakirti Joshi, chief economist at CRISIL, a Mumbai-based credit ratings agency.

Mr. Joshi also urged direct cash payments to individuals, and loans to small and medium-size businesses. “Give a clear signal that you will help,” he said.

The Modi administration is deliberating what kind of stimulus to offer, and a plan is expected to be unveiled within days.

For now, people can only hunker down at home.

Credit…Rebecca Conway for The New York Times

 

One chief minister, in Telangana state, in the center of the country, threatened to issue “shoot on sight” orders if people did not take the lockdown seriously.

In the Andamans, Jagadishan, a taxi driver who uses only one name, has been cooped up in his house in Port Blair, longing to “walk past the sea and smell fresh sea air.”

“All shops are shut, not even groceries or chemists are open,” he said, which should not be the case, according to the government’s rules. “The uncertainty is killing me.”

The lockdown includes schools, offices, factories, parks, temples, railways, even the airspace. To impose social distancing where people are ordinarily squeezed together, exempted businesses and the authorities are looking to devise solutions.

In the city of Meerut, the police began shaming people caught evading the lockdown, forcing them to hold signs — later posted on social media — stating they did not care about protecting society.

Outside Mother Dairy, a national milk cooperative, shopkeepers drew circles and squares on the pavement using chalk to indicate where people should stand and wait.

In Veergaon, a farming village in central Maharashtra state, a few farmers were still tilling the fields. But many stayed indoors, in small cramped houses with sheet metal roofs.

“They fear the disease,” said Kapil Wagarhande, a villager.

During his address on Tuesday night, Mr. Modi spoke forcefully about the dangers of social interaction and how Indians must make big, immediate sacrifices. Mr. Modi remains widely popular in India. In many quarters, what he says goes.

Credit…Jaipal Singh/EPA, via Shutterstock

 

“Everybody appreciates the steps taken by Modi ji,” said Kailash Dhoot, a textile trader in Mr. Modi’s home state of Gujarat, using a term of respect. “Of course people are facing problems like how to spend the whole day. What do you do?”

Still, rumors and misinformation have led to the closure of essential businesses and the harassment of citizens, outcomes that the government likely did not intend.

Gaurav Gupta, chief operating officer of Zomato, one of the country’s largest restaurant delivery services, said his couriers had been turned back and in some cases detained by the police, despite clear orders from the government permitting such deliveries.

In a video message, Sandeep Nangia, president of a pharmacists’ association in New Delhi, said the police were “raining sticks” on pharmacists for trying to do their jobs.

Doctors and airline employees have reported landlords forcibly evicting them as “dirty” tenants.

Amrita Saha, an employee at IndiGo, India’s largest airline, said her neighbors in Kolkata were spreading rumors that she had the coronavirus and harassing her mother, who lives with her.

“She cannot go to the market to buy groceries, because people are refusing her, saying, ‘Your daughter has the corona and you might also have it,’” Ms. Saha said in a recent video, nearly in tears.

An association of doctors in New Delhi wrote to India’s home minister, Amit Shah, on Tuesday, urging the government to protect medical personnel from home eviction.

“Many doctors are now stranded on the roads with all their luggage,” the letter read. (Click to Source)

 

 

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Montana reaches 71 COVID-19 cases

  • Updated 

Montana reached 71 known cases of COVID-19 by Thursday morning, according to test results announced by the state.

That’s a rise of three cases from the night before. Numbers released by the state Thursday morning capture test results that come in after the state’s 4:30 p.m. press release Wednesday. About 2,200 people have been tested at the state public health lab in Montana.

Two smaller, more rural counties in northwestern Montana, Glacier and Lincoln, picked up their first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, over the last two days.

So did Hill County, with a larger population center of Havre. Cases are identified by county, not town, because of concerns about patient privacy, so it’s not possible to narrow down a patient’s precise location within a county.

Gallatin County still has the most known cases in the state by almost double the next closest county, at 24.

Yellowstone County has 13, Missoula has six, Cascade and Flathead each have five, Butte-Silver Bow and Lewis and Clark each have four, Madison and Broadwater have two, and Jefferson, Ravalli, Roosevelt, Hill, Glacier and Lincoln each have one.

The state also reported its first hospitalization from the coronavirus Wednesday. The hospitalization figure could include hospitalizations when the test was performed after the patient was admitted to the hospital. An official said the state could not provide more information about the hospitalization because of privacy reasons.

Gov. Steve Bullock has issued an order of emergency in Montana and public K-12 schools are closed, as are universities. Businesses like bars and gyms, where people congregate, are closed, though some can offer to-go options.

The governor has also prohibited nonessential social and recreational gatherings of more than 10 people outside a home or place of residence, if a distance of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained. He also told stores to follow rules keeping people 6 feet apart, though he exempted essential places like grocery stores, health care facilities and pharmacies.

Also this week, Bullock said counties could choose to conduct the June 2 by mail. (Click to Source)

 

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Up to 10 per cent of recovered coronavirus patients in Wuhan study tested positive later, doctors say

  • Hospital staff in the city say there is no evidence that these patients became infectious after recovery
  • Tests carried out on patients suggest between 3 to 10 per cent gave positive tests after being discharged

 

About 3 to 10 per cent of patients who recovered from Covid-19 tested positive again after being discharged from hospital, doctors in Wuhan have found.

Researchers around the world are trying to determine whether recovered patients can still infect people with the coronavirus that causes the disease and if they have developed antibodies offering them immunity to the disease.

Doctors from Tongji hospital in the city, where the disease was first identified, told state broadcaster CCTV that they have found no evidence that these patients who again tested positive became infectious , based on close observations of their family members and laboratory tests.

In spite of its relatively small sample size, the Tongji hospital research is especially relevant as China now has far more recovered patients than new confirmed cases.

The Chinese mainland, where the disease first emerged last December, has discharged over 90 per cent of its infected patients and around 4,300 confirmed patients are still receiving treatment in hospitals.

The country has reported at least 81,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths, but most of the new cases have been imported.

Wang Wei, president of Tongji hospital told CCTV’s prime-time programme that of the 147 recovered patients they studied, only five – or just over 3 per cent – have tested positive in nucleic acid tests again after recovery.

Meanwhile, Life Times, a health news outlet affiliated with People’s Daily, reported this week that quarantine facilities in Wuhan have reported that about 5 to 10 per cent of their recovered patients tested positive again.

Previous reports have also highlighted cases where patients tested positive after recovery, including one on Sunday from Life Times about a family of three in Wuhan, who all tested positive again.

These incidents have raised questions about whether nucleic acid tests might not be reliable in detecting traces of the virus in some of the recovered patients.

Some experts have also expressed concerns about the sensitivity and stability of the test kits, and the collection and handling of patients’ samples.

Wang told CCTV that the five patients from his hospital who tested positive again did not have any symptoms, and none of their family members or people in close contact with them has been infected.

He said there was no conclusive evidence to prove that the recovered patients who tested positive again would be infectious to others.

“So far there is no evidence to suggest that they are infectious,” Wang said, adding that surveillance of similar patients showed about 80 to 90 per cent of them had no trace of the coronavirus in their blood one month after being discharged from hospitals.

Another sample group of 15 patients from the hospital also confirmed a similar trend, with none infecting their family members.

“These are just small samples and not enough to assure us of the validity of our initial findings,” Wang said. “We need a large-scale epidemiological study to guide our disease surveillance and prevention works.”

However, he said it was imperative for recovered patients to stay in isolation for two weeks after discharge so they could be tested again for confirmation.

In a separate interview with CCTV also broadcast on Tuesday, Tong Chaohui, a respiratory disease expert from a central government task force in Hubei, where Wuhan is located, agreed that continued monitoring of the recovered patients was important.

“So far, none of the close family members of these recovered patients have been tested positive and we could not find the coronavirus in the laboratory cultured samples [from these patients],” Tong said.

“Although the nucleic acid tests were positive, random checking suggested that the patients have developed antibodies that were effective in protecting them from the nucleic acid of the virus,” he added.

Speaking to official newspaper Hubei Daily early this week, Tu Yuanchao, deputy director of Hubei health commission, said discharged patients who tested positive again and have shown symptoms would be re-hospitalised. Those who do not have symptoms would be sent to quarantine facilities for observation for two weeks. (Click to Source)

 

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Deadly Chloroquine Poisonings in USA and Nigeria

An Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after they treated themselves on Sunday with a popular fish tank additive that has the same active ingredient as the anti-malaria drug that was referred to as a “game changer.”

Meanwhile, health officials in Nigeria have issued a warning over chloroquine after they said three people in the country overdosed on the drug, in the wake of President Trump’s comments about using it to treat the pandemic.

 

Chloroquine may work to cure the pandemic. But please take it safely and contact your doctor before using… Here a collection of cases that shows how panic behaviors lead to overdoses and deaths.

Arizona man fatally poisons himself with chloroquine while self-medicating

An Arizona man and his wife ingested a fish tank cleaning additive made with the same active ingredient as chloroquine phosphate, which President Trump has referred to as a potential “game changer.”

The man died and his wife was hospitalized after they treated themselves on Sunday with a popular fish tank additive that has the ‘wondrous’ active ingredient as an anti-malaria drug, chloroquine.

Meanwhile, the FDA issued a statement saying it had not approved the drug for use against Covid-19 and is still studying its effectiveness against the disease. [NYT]

Already three chloroquine oversoses in Nigeria

Nigeria health officials have issued a warning over chloroquine after three people in the country overdosed on the drug.

gboyega akosile@gboyegaakosile

Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov @jidesanwoolu‘s SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_Finnih
She urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus.

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The drug hasn’t been approved for use against the Wuhan virus. The molecule is undergoing deeper clinical tests to prove the effectiveness against the disease. [CNN]

In case of a chloroquine poisoning, the US governement explains: ‘The most important measures after a diagnosis of chloroquine poisoning are immediate intubation so that diazepam (1 mg/kg) can be administered intravenously as specific antidote without danger of severe respiratory failure.

Another paper shows that ‘The mortality rate in patients with acute chloroquine poisoning, including those patients sick enough to be referred to a specialty unit such as ours, can be limited to < or = 10%.

This great video looks at the evidence behind the anti-malarial medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the virus.

In the meantime, don’t be a fool and don’t panic. Don’t buy Chloroquine online… Most of it is FAKE! And the prices or skyrocketing. It’s insane! They are playing with your nerves and your health!

Stay at home and everything will be ok. And as always, ask your doctor before taking any pills or medication… Because you don’t want to die from a lie! (Click to Source)

 

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South Africa: Disagree With Government Information On COVID-19, Go To Prison

  

Disagreement with govt. info is now a crime.

According to South African author Emma Sadleir, if a person posts information or opinion that is contrary to what is put out by the SA government, he or she may be convicted of a crime and sent to prison for six months. 

Emma Sadleir

@EmmaSadleir

Breaking and very very NB!

Spreading fake news / disinformation about #covid19 #CoronavirusInSA with ‘the intention to deceive’ is now a criminal offence punishable by up to 6 months in prison

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Article posted with permission from Kurt Nimmo   (Click to Source)

 

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Could A Locust Plague of Biblical Proportions Occur In The U.S.?

It’s not likely these days…

But locusts decimated American farmers in the past.

 

What is currently happening in East Africa, Middle East and Southeastern Asia once also happened in the U.S.!

During the 1800s, Rocky Mountain locust swarms periodically destroyed U.S. crop fields. Within a short span of hours, locust swarms could blow in and devour everything a farmer had.

In fact, in 1875, the largest locust cloud in world history was recorded over the Midwest. It covered 198,000 square miles and was estimated to contain several trillion locusts and perhaps weighed several million tons.

This following story was first published on Timeline:

The American West is a land of booms and busts. But there was perhaps no bust quite as biblical as the great Rocky Mountain locust swarms of the 1870s.

The insects descended by the trillions on the Great Plains, spreading over a vast portion of land from Montana across to Minnesota and down to Texas.

Ravaging farmland, the locusts devoured not only crops but gnawed on nearly any organic material, including sawdust, leather, and the very clothes on people’s backs.

Swarming in numbers perhaps unseen in history, they brought staggering economic ruin to rural communities, and in extreme cases, even death.

Beginning in late June, 1874, wide blue skies all over the American prairie suddenly went dark. Some likened it to a snowstorm, others to the coming of night.

The pinkie finger-sized insects ate a panoply of crops, including wheat, corn, melons, tobacco, barley, strawberries, potatoes, beans, and fruit trees. The weight of all the bugs in the swarm was estimated to be in excess of 27 million tons.

There was the occasional item that did not appeal to the locusts’ encompassing tastes — peas, as a rare example, failed to interest them — but in most cases a visit from a swarm meant utter loss.

One farmer south of this city,” wrote a contemporary historian in St. Louis, Missouri, “had fifteen acres of corn eaten by them yesterday in three hours. They mowed it down close to the ground just as if a mowing machine had cut it.

The locusts “looked like a great, white glistening cloud,” wrote one pioneer, “for their wings caught the sunshine on them and made them look like a cloud of white vapor.

Confronted with a sudden invasion, farmers rushed to cover their wells and scrambled to save what crops they could. Some farmers covered their gardens with blankets and textiles, but the insects’ numbers were too great, their maws too tireless. They simply chewed through the fabric.

In many cases, word was able to spread faster than the swarms, but fair warning did not much level the playing field.

One defense strategy entailed keeping a barrier of fires around one’s land, the more smoke produced the better, to deter their approach and descent. Still, locusts would land upon the burning pits in numbers significant enough to snuff them out.

Think of it,” reflected Kansan Lillie Marcks, who was a child at the time of the plague, “grasshoppers putting out a fire.

For her novel On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder drew on memories of her family’s hardship during the locust plague. “You could hear the millions of jaws biting and chewing,” she wrote.

Later, Wilder described the scene as family members come back inside after a brief excursion: “Grasshoppers went into the house with them. Their clothes were full of grasshoppers. Some jumped into the hot stove where Mary was starting supper. Ma covered the food till they had chased and smashed every grasshopper. She swept them up and shoveled them into the stove.

The reach of the locusts knew no bounds. They infiltrated every nook, and residents even had to pat down their bedding before retiring. “They beat against the houses, swarm in at the windows, cover the passing trains,” wrote a New York Times correspondent. “They work as if sent to destroy.

The retiring insects huddled on train tracks for rest and for warmth. Being sluggish in the cool morning air, they were trampled by the horde under the wheels of passing trains. They gathered “so numerously,” noted a government report, “that the oil from their crushed bodies reduced the traction so as to actually stop the train, especially on an up-grade.”

Befuddled farmers and families leapt to action, wielding all sorts of tactical fires — for smokescreens, for traps, for killing. More futile acts of desperation—like shotgun blasts, stomping, and blows with a stick—were also tried.

Some clever devices came into use, such as the “hopperdozer,” a horse-drawn tool that trawled fields, using a steel plate covered in sticky coal tar to scoop and trap locusts from the ground.

An entomologist named Charles Valentine Riley even went full Jonathan Swift, except this time in earnest. In his 1877 book about the plague, Riley celebrated how the locusts, when “boiled and afterward stewed with a few vegetables and a little butter, pepper, salt, and vinegar, made an excellent fricassee.

But the problem remained: there were still too many locusts to make extermination (or cooking) a real strategy. Families needed money and food to survive, government agencies needed to organize, and communities needed to plan ahead for the coming harvest.

In 1877, Congress established the U.S. Entomological Commission for the specific purpose of confronting this ongoing pest; two years prior, it had allocated $30,000 to supply seed to devastated areas. Riley compared the national response to the charity and generosity provoked by the Great Chicago Fire just years before, as spared counties and states sent food and financial aid to those afflicted.

In Missouri the government required the able-bodied to dedicate one or two days per week to plowing and killing locust eggs and larvae. In Minnesota, Nicollet County paid its citizens $25,053 for delivering 25,053 bushels of slaughtered locusts. On the individual level, citizens earned extra income wherever possible, and many took to selling buffalo bones and horns at railroad hubs, which could sell at market for as much as $8 per ton.

Unfortunately, not everyone survived. A contemporary report in the St. Louis Republican painted this grim portrait of the times:

We have seen within the past week families which had not a meal of victuals in their house; families that had nothing to eat save what their neighbors gave them, and what game could be caught in a trap, since last fall. In one case a family of six died within six days of each other from the want of food to keep body and soul together.…From present indications the future four months will make many graves, marked with a simple piece of wood with the inscription STARVED TO DEATH painted on it.

Luckily, no other year proved as severe or ruinous as that of 1874–75, though the Rocky Mountain locust continued campaigns of crop destruction throughout the 1870s and thereafter.

And then, the Rocky Mountain locust suddenly, and staggeringly, went extinct.

But how did this erstwhile abundant, colossal insect suddenly die off? An insect, after all, whose swarms were once so great that they covered an area equal to the landmass of California?

It remains a mystery, and decades of hypotheses have produced a few answers, but they are mostly unsatisfying. Some have suggested their existence was tied to the waning populations of western buffalo. Or maybe, somewhere along the line, they were punished for some narrowness in genetic diversity.

In recent years, scientists like Jeffrey Lockwood have proposed that the locust’s migratory patterns behaved much like the monarch butterfly’s — traveling over and covering great ranges of land, then retreating back to sanctuary pockets to recuperate.

His research suggests that the locusts populated the valleys in Montana and Wyoming for this very purpose. When westward expansion continued, these areas were deforested, irrigated, plowed, and replanted, turning their habitats and breeding grounds into farmland.

If this leading theory is correct, it means that the extermination of the Rocky Mountain locust — perhaps the first time a widespread agricultural pest has ever been annihilated — came, for all our best efforts, by accident. (Click to Source)

 

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KAISER PERMANENTE THREATENED TO FIRE NURSES TREATING COVID-19 PATIENTS FOR WEARING THEIR OWN MASKS, UNIONS SAY

Akela Lacy – March 24 2020, 1:05 p.m.

 

NURSES AT KAISER Permanente hospitals and clinics in California could be fired immediately for wearing their own face masks, according to unions representing nurses at the facilities. The news comes after nurses were ordered to reuse disposable protective gear to save supplies in the face of shortages brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The California Nurses Association and National Nurses United sent a flyer to members noting that Kaiser had threatened nurses with firing if they wear their own N95 masks, which offer a high level of protection from airborne contaminants, to work. “Kaiser has told nurses that if they’re seen wearing their personal N95 masks, they could be fired ‘on the spot’ for insubordination,” the flyer read. The unions did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kaiser spokesperson Marc Brown said firing nurses for using their own N95 gear is not the company’s official policy. Asked if nurses would not be disciplined if they wear their own masks, Brown did not provide an answer. “That is not our policy. We provide the appropriate medical-grade protective equipment for the protocols and level of patient care being provided. We cannot assure the integrity of protective equipment not provided by Kaiser Permanente,” Brown wrote in a statement to The Intercept. “We want them to wear equipment we can be sure is effective.”

Kaiser nurses last week received guidelines downgrading protective standards and giving instructions on how to reuse certain types of eyewear and masks. That change came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month downgraded from protocols for airborne contamination to protocols for droplet contamination, noting that the change was based on supply rather than science.

Close to 100 nurses and family members gathered outside Kaiser’s Oakland Medical Center on Monday night to protest the new guidelines, saying that they put both patients and critical staff at risk. Staff at the center have been caring for patients from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which had at least 21 passengers test positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Local police and Kaiser facility security observed the protest, according to one nurse who attended and asked for anonymity to avoid retaliation from their employer. California went into lockdown last week, meaning that large gatherings are strongly discouraged.

“For our workplace to be saying, ‘Hey, you know, we’re taking the bare minimum that we can give you guys and giving it to you,’ was really disheartening,” the nurse said.

As nurses told The Intercept last week, staff at the Oakland facility have also downgraded the level of protection of the gowns they’re using to care for staff. “The gowns that they are giving us have dramatically decreased in their protective ability as those have kind of become, quote-unquote, unavailable,” the nurse said. “The gowns that we’re currently being given, they went from being less permeable to totally permeable gowns that have an open back. So those gowns, how are those supposed to protect us when we’re going in rooms, we’re supposed to maneuver between equipment to try and care for these patients, and our entire backsides is being exposed. And then we’re going out and sitting in chairs. Completely inadequate.”

Kaiser said it has the necessary supplies to protect nurses, but the nurse said that hasn’t always felt like the case. “We were not having, it felt like, adequate supply. You could get what you needed, you had to fight for it. And it’s exhausting,” the nurse said.

With materials in short supply, things have gone missing, and so management is locking them away, they said. “What happens when the person with the key to that office isn’t there at the moment? Delay in patient care. … That’s just extra time spent searching for these things.” (Click to Source)

 

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New Moon over Israel – March 25, 2020

Shalom,
New Moon
The New Moon has been seen in Israel! This marks the beginning of the Biblical first month and the Spring Feasts! Could not come at a better time!!!
Look toward the western sky at sundown tonight and celebrate the goodness of HaShem in our lives.

Celebration Tips
Lighting of the Menorah
Reading Psalms
Sounding of the shofar
Celebration dinner
Special time of thanks and blessing.
Prayer for peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6) and regathering of the family of Israel.
(EZ 37)
May HaShem open His floodgates of blessing upon you in this new month.
Chodesh Tov. (Good month)
Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem
 
Disclaimer: This email is not intended to set a calendar or appointed time. It is only to announce the sighting of the New Moon in Israel. It is to be a reminder to those in exile that Jerusalem should be the focus and center of all we do.

New King James Bible

 

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School and business closures extended until April 10; 52 positive COVID-19 cases in Montana

  • Updated 

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday extended his orders closing public K-12 schools and some businesses where people congregate until at least April 10, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Montana.

Bullock issued his school closure order March 15, initially set to expire two weeks later, which would have been this Friday. On March 20 he issued another order shuttering bars, gyms, theaters and other businesses where people gather, and banned restaurants and breweries from dine-in scenarios while allowing delivery and to-go orders. He tied that order to the end date for the school closures, but acknowledged at the time it was likely that both would be extended.

“The obligation to control this spread is on each and every one of us, each and every day,” Bullock said on a call with reporters Tuesday. ” … We do continue to see an increase in cases each day, and that is expected.”

Montana added seven additional known cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 52.

Gallatin County, which on Sunday said it had evidence of community spread of the coronavirus, now has 19 cases, more than double anywhere else in the state. Community spread means people who contracted the virus had no known contact with other sick people or close contacts with sick people.

Yellowstone County has eight cases, Missoula has six, Flathead four, Butte-Silver Bow, Cascade and Lewis and Clark each have three, Madison has two, and Jefferson, Ravalli, Broadwater and Roosevelt each have one.

On a call with reporters Tuesday, Bullock said even the April 10 timeline for the closure orders to lift could be shortened or lengthened, depending on how the virus continues to spread in Montana.

Public health officials nationwide have been urging people to take severe and swift action to limit the transmission of COVID-19, using dire language to describe potential outcomes if social distancing guidelines are not followed. While President Donald Trump, in conflict with those warnings, said Tuesday he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” it’s fallen to governors and local governments to implement closure orders.

By Tuesday, cities, counties and governors in an estimated 17 states have urged residents to stay at home or implemented large-scale shutdowns of nonessential businesses, which affects about 167 million people nationwide, according to a tally by the New York Times.

model built by data scientists, engineers and designers working with epidemiologists, public health officials and political leaders to help understand how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect their region shows that Montana could reach a point of no return to prevent hospital overload sometime between April 14-19.

Bullock also issued a directive Tuesday prohibiting nonessential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside a home or place of residence of greater than 10 people with a distance of at least 6 feet between individuals.

“This is a bit more restrictive (than his previous direction on gatherings) and we’re asking Montanans to comply,” Bullock said. Violations of that and the closure orders can be enforced by county attorneys.

Day cares are still open, Bullock said, because they serve a critical role in caring for the children of essential workers like health care providers, emergency responders and more.

As some businesses have closed and restaurants have reduced operations, many Montanans are finding themselves out of work. While Bullock eliminated the weeklong wait period for people to receive unemployment benefits, the state system to access them has been overwhelmed. Bullock said that since March 16, more than 15,000 people had filed claims.

While the chief justice of the state Supreme Court asked that nonviolent inmates be released from county jails, Bullock said Tuesday he has not made a determination about any changes at the state prison in Deer Lodge or other facilities like the prison in Shelby run by a contractor.

Montana has a primary election June 2, and several candidates have called for a vote-by-mail election. Bullock said Tuesday he would have a decision on any possible changes to that election soon, made under the power he has in the emergency declaration he issued March 12.

Bullock said the state is aggressively seeking to increase its critical inventory of supplies and that he got an additional 50,000 N-95 masks through a mutual aid agreement with North Dakota. Those will be distributed all across the state soon. He also issued orders Monday that should open up options for hospitals to increase their capacity in the event of a surge of patients.

“We’re doing everything we can in our capacity to prepare to take care of critically ill patients if we end up getting numerous COVID-19 patients in our hospitals and ensure there’s hospital space and supplies to respond,” Bullock said.

The state public health laboratory is also getting an additional 4,000 swabs for testing. Bullock said a week ago the state tried to order from a private supplier and that order was canceled because of overwhelming demand.

The reality of the situation, Bullock said, is that supply capacity depends on access to private supplies and if those hit a bottleneck the state must rely on the federal government honoring its requests for additional supplies.

Montana’s federal delegation and attorney general also reported Trump announced the state will get an extension for when people will need REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses to be able to board airplanes or access federal facilities such as federal agency office buildings, federal courthouses, military bases and nuclear power plants. The deadline had been Oct. 1, and the new deadline will be announced in the future.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also announced Monday that the state’s 14 community health centers will receive $810,430 to address screening and testing needs, get medical supplies and increase tele-medicine capacity. Last week both the state and federal government, as well as private insurance companies, took actions to increase access to tele-medicine options to ease access to care for people while keeping people who may spread the virus out of health care facilities. A list of funding by facility is attached to this story online. (Click to Source)

 

 

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Bullock orders statewide shutdown of bars, gyms, more

  • Updated 

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday ordered the closure of businesses in the state where people congregate, such as bars, coffee shops, gyms, theaters and more, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

Restaurants can remain open, but are only allowed to offer takeout or delivery options. Bullock’s executive order follows similar steps taken by most of the state’s largest counties, as well as smaller ones, though there were notable holdouts like Cascade County.

“Both young and older Montanans, in urban and rural communities, have tested positive for coronavirus, making it even more clear that this virus impacts us all and that these actions are imperative to protecting our friends and neighbors,” Bullock said in a press release. “We face extraordinary health risks — and with it even further risks to our economic and social well-being — if we do not act now. I do not take this decision lightly and it was done so in consultation with public health professionals. Montanans, too, need to take this seriously. It’s up to all of us to stop the spread of this virus.”

The weeklong order takes effect at 8 p.m. Friday and expires March 27 at 11:59 p.m., though a press release from the governor’s office notes “the date will likely be extended.”

The first four known COVID-19 cases in Montana were announced a week ago, March 13. New tests have come back positive from the state laboratory in Helena nearly every day since then, and reached 16 within the state’s borders by Friday morning.

Under the directive, the places that must close are:

  • Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses and other similar establishments offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption.
  • Alcoholic beverage service businesses, including bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Cigar bars.
  • Health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, pools and hot springs, indoor facilities at ski areas, climbing gyms, fitness studios and indoor recreational facilities.
  • Movie and performance theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls.
  • Casinos.

Bullock encouraged places that could offer take-out or delivery to do so. He has the ability to order businesses shut under an emergency declaration he made March 12.

On Sunday, Bullock closed K-12 schools for at least two weeks and the following day strongly urged businesses to shutter in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though he stopped short of ordering it then.

Public health officials over the week have coalesced around the idea that Montana had an advantage of sorts, if residents seized on it, because the coronavirus arrived in the state later than much of the rest of the country and is not yet widespread.

“I believe that here in Montana we have been given a huge gift, the gift that is time,” said Michael Bush, the chief medical officer at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, earlier in the week.

Bullock has also been calling on Montanans to take action to “flatten the curve.” That phrase has become a familiar refrain to many in the last week and is a reference to charts showing scenarios for the virus’ spread, from a massive spike if guidelines aren’t heeded to a gentler curve if people follow social distancing guidelines, work from home when possible and avoid discretionary travel and gatherings with more than 10 people.

In some places county health office orders forced citizens to comply and other people have voluntary taken steps, but until Bullock’s order Friday the state was left with a patchwork of measures that meant bars could be full in one county but shuttered just across the county line.

Governors in at least two neighboring states have taken measures similar to Bullock.

On Thursday, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued an order closing places where people gather like theaters, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops and things like buffets and salad bars, as well as gyms and museums. The Casper Star-Tribune reported Gordon’s order allows restaurants to operate take-out or delivery options, but not dine-in. Day cares are closed, except those that service “essential personnel.” That state has 18 confirmed cases.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum did the same Thursday, the Bismarck Tribune reported. That state has 19 confirmed cases.

In South Dakota, which has 14 confirmed cases, Gov. Kristi Noem has not taken any measures beyond closing schools, the Argus Leader reported.

Idaho’s largest city, Boise, has taken similar measures, though there’s not a statewide order and child care is still open, the Idaho Statesman reported. The state has 23 confirmed cases. (Click to Source)

 

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