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Daily Archives: June 17th, 2020


As usual TOTUS is wrong, the lack of leadership and understanding what his job is glows like neon lights. Unfortunately he is incapable of telling the truth and it hurts all of us, especially his base. We must remember and be aware that the upcoming rally in Oklahoma will produce another round of Covid-19 infections which will go undetected due to lack of national testing and contact tracing. The  lack of Federal assistance in this emergency is a large part of why the pandemic not being slowed. MA

Andrew Romano

West Coast Correspondent,

Yahoo News•June 16, 2020

As coronavirus cases continue to climb in more than 20 states, raising fears of a second wave of hospitalizations and deaths, some politicians have taken to waving away the worrisome news with a rudimentary, reassuring explanation.

Of course the number of COVID-19 cases is going up, they say. That’s what happens when you test more people: You find more infections. 

On Monday, President Trump added his voice to this soothing chorus. “Our testing is so much bigger and more advanced than any other country (we have done a great job on this!) that it shows more cases,” Trump tweeted in the morning. “Without testing, or weak testing, we would be showing almost no cases. Testing is a double edged sword – Makes us look bad, but good to have!!!”

“If we stop testing right now,” the president added during an event for seniors at the White House, “we’d have very few cases, if any.”

And according to a report in the New York Times, Vice President Mike Pence echoed Trump’s argument during a call Monday with governors, urging them “to continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of the increase in testing” in order to “encourage people with the news that we’re safely reopening the country.”

 

Trump is right about one thing: The U.S. is now conducting more  COVID-19 tests than any other country, in total (about 465,000 a day) and per capita (about 1.25 per 1,000 residents). But his nonsensical, if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest suggestion that somehow coronavirus infections would cease to exist if we stopped trying to detect them is dangerously deluded, and saying so only contributes to a sense of complacency that threatens to further accelerate the spread of the virus.

It doesn’t take advanced math to debunk Trump’s claim. Just look at Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the president’s staunchest allies, has recently been brushing off questions from reporters with a similar line.

“As you’re testing more, you’re going to find more cases,” DeSantis said Thursday.

Florida has certainly been finding more cases. On Monday, the Sunshine State reported a daily increase of 1,758 COVID-19 infections. That number follows two days with more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases, including the state’s highest-ever daily total on Saturday (2,581). It also represents the 12th day out of the last 13 that the state has announced more than 1,000 new cases.

This means Florida’s seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 infections — an important metric that helps to balance out daily fluctuations in reporting — has gone up every day since the beginning of the month. On June 1, Florida’s seven-day average stood at 726 cases per day. As of June 15, it had more than doubled to 1,775.

 

If Trump and DeSantis were right that testing accounts for this increase, it should also show up as a proportional increase in the number of new tests conducted each day over the same period.

But that’s not what the data shows. In reality, Florida has been conducting roughly the same average number of COVID-19 tests every day for the last month. During the last two weeks of May, the state conducted 369,557 tests in total, or 26,396 per day on average. During the first two weeks of June, the state conducted 387,666 tests in total, or 27,690 per day on average.

In other words, the number of tests conducted per day in Florida was unchanged, while average cases more than doubled. And so Trump and DeSantis are incorrect: Testing doesn’t explain Florida’s recent increase in infections.

The truth about testing is that it delivers diminishing returns. Sure, there’s an initial relationship between increased testing and increased case counts; the people who seek out tests first are the most likely to be sick. But scale up capacity and you start to test more and more people with less and less chance of infection. Eventually, there’s not much correlation between the amount of testing and the scale of an epidemic.

Other data from Florida reflects this dynamic as well. For instance: If the size of the state’s outbreak were stable — and if the growing case count were simply the inevitable, even desirable byproduct of increased testing — then the percentage of positive tests per day would be going down (or, at worst, staying the same).

Instead, Florida’s seven-day rolling average of positive tests rose from 3.85 percent on June 1 to 6.35 percent on June 15.

 

Likewise, if Florida were merely detecting more cases through increased testing — without more people there actually getting sick — then the number of residents showing up at hospitals with COVID-19 would be holding steady.

It’s not, though. Over the last week, the state’s seven-day average of new hospitalizations has climbed from a little more than 100 per day to nearly 150 per day.

Florida is hardly alone in this. Between June 7 and June 14, the seven-day rolling average of positive tests rose from 6.2 percent to 13.5 percent in Alabama, from 12.3 percent to 15.6 percent in Arizona, from 5.6 percent to 19.7 percent in Mississippi and from 6.4 percent to 13.7 percent in South Carolina — a sign that their outbreaks are growing, regardless of testing capacity. Many other states, including Alaska, Nevada, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, have also registered rising positive-testing rates in recent days.

There are some places where increased testing is, in fact, detecting more asymptomatic infections, such as California. There, the seven-day average of total daily tests has risen from about 53,000 to 63,000 so far this month — even as hospitalizations have leveled off and the positive-test rate has fallen from about 5 percent to about 4.5 percent.

But that is not the story in Florida, or in many of the other states where case counts are soaring. Rt is an epidemiological statistic that represents transmissibility, or the number of people a sick person infects at a particular point in an epidemic. An Rt below 1.0 indicates that each person infects, on average, less than one other person; an Rt above 1.0 indicates that an outbreak is growing. Six weeks ago, only 10 states had an Rt of 1.0 or higher. Today, 18 states are hovering above that troubling threshold.

 

For now, none of these states looks like the next New York City. The percentage of residents infected with COVID-19 remains relatively low. Testing capacity is much higher than before. Hospitals aren’t stretched thin yet. People understand how to wear masks and keep their distance, even if they’re tired of it. New outbreaks shouldn’t catch Americans by surprise.

The operative word, however, is shouldn’t. If we refuse to accept why those outbreaks are happening, we may also refuse to do what it takes to stop them from spiraling out of control. Telling ourselves that it’s all just a result of more testing absolves us of responsibility. Things only look bad because we’re doing something good, Trump says. Our behavior isn’t to blame.

But our behavior is to blame. The coronavirus doesn’t magically retreat when a governor decides it’s time to relax lockdown measures. The pathogen will continue to spread wherever and whenever people interact at a distance of less than 6 feet, without a mask and especially indoors.

As states reopen — and many of the states with rising case counts were among the earliest and most eager to resume business as usual — the more their residents start to ease up on social distancing. The more people ease up, the more they risk contracting the coronavirus.

Some of this risk is tolerable — the unavoidable cost of coexisting with a virus to which we have not yet developed any immunity. But if we insist, like Trump, that there is no cost to letting down our guard — that the virus isn’t spreading; that rising case counts are a statistical illusion; that there is no reason for caution — then we may not recognize and respond to what’s really happening until it’s too late.

America tried that once before. It didn’t go well.

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Dan Frosch, Ben Chapman  
Detective Luther Hall was working undercover during protests that gripped St. Louis in 2017 following the police shooting of a black man, when several officers in riot gear rushed up to him.

Before Mr. Hall, who is black, could comply with their demands to get on the ground, he was body slammed by an officer, according to court filings. The 22-year veteran said the white officers punched, kicked and struck him with batons before a SWAT team member recognized him and hustled him away. Mr. Hall later told investigators that his fellow officers “beat the [expletive] out of him like Rodney King,” according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit.

Though Detective Hall’s case, which has led to federal criminal charges against the officers involved, is extreme, black officers across the country say they commonly face harassment, discrimination and even abuse from their own departments, according to interviews and court filings.

Many black officers said they understood the anger behind nationwide protests initially sparked by the killing of George Floyd. Not only does law enforcement need to change how they police minority communities, these officers said, but departments also need to change how they treat their own minority officers.

“The same hell that black people were experiencing on the streets, we were experiencing inside the department,” said Eric Adams, who retired from the New York Police Department as a captain in 2006. Mr. Adams, who is now Brooklyn borough president, said the dynamic hasn’t changed.

NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, also black, said that the department had transformed its approach to race since he began his career there in 1968, when most officers were white. About 53% of the NYPD’s uniformed force is now nonwhite, according to department statistics. Census data shows that about 68% of New York City residents are nonwhite.

But Mr. Tucker said more attention to racial issues within the department was needed, especially after the uproar over Mr. Floyd’s death.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25, protests emerged in more than 40 cities across the U.S and several countries around the globe. As protesters flooded the streets seeking justice for Floyd, police officers and protestors have often clashed. As ELLE.com noted earlier this week, Minneapolis protesters were met with tear gas and rubber bullets from officers while marching. President Trump received a public notice from Twitter when he tweeted, in part, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Two protestors in Davenport, Iowa and one in Louisville, Kentucky (the hometown of Breonna Taylor, a fellow victim of police brutality) have been killed.But amid the vandalism, violence, and bloodshed there were also people peacefully protesting against racism and police brutality. As thousands across the country chanted, "I can't breathe," and "Black lives matter," some police officers in Flint, Michigan, New York and Ferguson, Missouri  showed signs of solidarity with those protesting against Floyd's murder. Ahead, powerful images of peaceful protesting from the past week.

Gallery by photo servicesAfrican-Americans have taken leadership positions in numerous large police departments across the country over the past 20 years. Still, nationwide, the number of black officers has stayed steady at about 11%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The Wall Street Journal has identified nearly two dozen lawsuits or settlements involving black officers who alleged discrimination against departments across the country over the past three years.

In one 2018 federal discrimination lawsuit, several black officers in Arkansas with the Little Rock Police Department alleged white colleagues openly used racial slurs, harassed black citizens and unfairly disciplined black officers. The city, whose current and prior police chiefs are both black, settled the lawsuit in February for $200,000 without admitting wrongdoing.

Sgt. Willie Davis, a plaintiff in the suit, said black officers didn’t always trust white commanders to take action if they reported misconduct.

“Officers who look like me learn early that if you keep your mouth shut, you’ll be fine. So you develop this attitude of ‘going along, to get along,’” he said.

Sgt. Davis said he was now uncomfortable encouraging the black youth he mentors to go into law enforcement.

“I wouldn’t want them to endure what I see,” he said.

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey said that the majority of his officers—white and black—were “amazing.” But he said a small group of white officers had stoked racial tensions within the department and caused problems for black colleagues.

San Francisco Police Department Captain Yulanda Williams joined the force in 1990, hoping to improve relations between police and minorities. Last May, she sued the city and the Police Department, alleging she’d been targeted by white co-workers and supervisors for speaking out against racism and sexism.

Co-workers harassed Ms. Williams for her Afrocentric hairstyle, according to the complaint, and a supervisor told her she needed to choose the police over her identity as a black person. “Pick a side. You seem confused about this,” the supervisor said, according to the complaint.

Ms. Williams said trying to change the culture in the department was “like trying to turn the Titanic.” SFPD officials declined to comment.

Heather Taylor, a supervisor with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide division, is president of the Ethical Society of Police, a black officers’ group. Ms. Taylor said racism continued to afflict the department, where about 30% of the roughly 1,200 member force is black. About 47% of St. Louis residents are black.

In one recent incident, Ms. Taylor said a white police dispatcher referred in a social-media post to people protesting Mr. Floyd’s death as “animals.” In a second recent incident, a black officer found a note in a precinct cabinet that read “Hitler rules,” she said.

“Undeniably, there is racial tension among our ranks,” said St. Louis police Chief John Hayden, who is black, adding that new antibias training will examine officers’ interactions and decisions.

Ms. Taylor said Detective Hall’s case showed the difference in how police often treated African-Americans in St. Louis. Mr. Hall had a white undercover partner who was unharmed despite also being arrested during the protests, according to court filings.

“The Police Department makes it clear: When it comes down to it, you will be shown that you’re black first,” Ms. Taylor said.

A federal grand jury indicted five St. Louis police officers on charges related to Mr. Hall’s beating and for trying to cover up what happened. Two pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The other three have pleaded not guilty. A lawyer for one of the officers said his client was innocent.

Mr. Hall declined to comment through his lawyers.

Some senior black law-enforcement officials said prejudice was ingrained in white colleagues who had little experience with black people outside of law enforcement.

Charlie Smith, an African-American former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives top official who retired in 2017, said he’d grown inured to racism during his career. On his first day as an ATF agent in 1987, Mr. Smith said a fellow agent asked him “How does it feel to get this job only because you’re a [racial slur]?” Twenty years later, now a SWAT commander, he recalled being pulled over while off-duty by white officers and handcuffed because they thought he matched a suspect’s description

Mr. Smith said that too often, white police officers viewed black neighborhoods as dangerous places filled with bad people, a sentiment echoed by other black officers.

In a 2015 study of smaller Northeastern police departments by the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, 91% of 102 officers surveyed said that racial profiling existed within their agencies. Seventy percent said that police supervisors and administrators condoned the practice, the survey found.

Last week in Little Rock, a young, black detective invited fellow police officers to join a peaceful protest to show solidarity with minority communities. When Chief Humphrey arrived, he was dismayed to find only four white officers showed up compared with 21 black officers, he said.

“Those white officers who showed up…they did some reflecting and said ‘You know we need to do a better job, and we get it,’” Chief Humphrey said.

Asked why he thought more white officers didn’t join, he said, “Some of it is fear. Some of it is ‘I don’t give a damn.’ Some of it is ‘Well, I don’t live in this city so it’s not my problem.’ Some just don’t know what to do.’”

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Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY  
It could not have been too difficult for Roger Goodell to declare this week that he is down to “encourage” any NFL team thinking of signing blackballed quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Colin Kaepernick standing in front of a crowd of people watching a football game: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) reacts following the 22-21 victory against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.© Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) reacts following the 22-21 victory against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Goodell expressed as much during an ESPN special featuring the commissioners of the several major sports leagues, maintaining a consistent pattern.

Less than two weeks ago, when the NFL Commissioner responded to a video from players in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, he didn’t even bother to mention Kaepernick by name as he apologized to players – so weird, seeing that Kaepernick used the NFL stage in 2016 to launch a protest movement that raised awareness about the type of police brutality and racism is reflected with Floyd’s death.

Now, with the Kaepernick-still-should-be-playing-in-the-NFL theme revived against the backdrop of massive protests across the country, Goodell is suddenly lobbying for the activist to receive work.

It’s like jumping on the bandwagon. Within the past week or so, voices within the NFL community in support of Kaepernick getting an opportunity – including some that have expressed as much all along – have gotten louder.

Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said it well. He told “CBS This Morning” that the NFL still hasn’t gotten it right with Kaepernick and that the league will be “on the wrong side of history” until the quarterback is signed or given an apology.

If there were a petition based on such public declarations, signers joining Jenkins would at least include Richard Sherman, Carlos Hyde, Michael Bennett, Eric Kendricks, Pete Carroll and Drew Rosenhaus, all of whom have expressed support within recent days for Kaepernick. And, of course, their sentiments were co-signed by Rev. Al Sharpton last week as he gave the eulogy at Floyd’s funeral.

Maybe there’s hope. Carroll, the Seahawks coach, said he received a call from an unidentified team inquiring about Kaepernick. The Seahawks, in 2017, were the only team in the past three years to bring in Kaepernick for a visit. But now there might be a mysterious team – and there are several who could use Kaepernick at least as a competitive option as a backup – in the mix.

This would be the time to make a move, a few weeks before training camps could open, pending a coronavirus X-factor. Having a few weeks to absorb the offense – rather than coming in as an emergency option during the season after a quarterback injury – is critical to Kaepernick’s chances for success.

So, yes, it’s a convenient time for Goodell to “encourage” that some team sign the quarterback who in 2019 settled a collusion case against the NFL. Goodell added that he’s open to Kaepernick working with the league on social justice issues, too. He might have also added, having professed recently that “Black lives matter,” that what’s happened to Kaepernick in losing his NFL opportunity is symbol of how careers and even lives have historically been sacrificed by those demonstrating courage for the cause of equality.

Yet in addressing Kaepernick with ESPN, Goodell unfortunately prefaced his headline-grabbing remark with the “if he wants to play” qualifier. Intended or not, that “if” advances one of the sorry narratives that has surrounded Kaepernick since his last NFL action. Goodell should have known better than to let that “if” stuff spill off his tongue after all that Kaepernick and the league have been through.

Just for the record, again, here’s what Kaepernick, 32, said in February when I asked whether he wants to play:

“My desire to play football is still there,” Kaepernick told USA TODAY Sports. “I still train five days a week. I’m ready to go, I’m ready for a phone call, tryout, workout at any point in time. I’m still waiting on the owners and their partners to stop running from this situation. So, I hope I get a call this offseason. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

That’s pretty much been Kaepernick’s stock answer throughout his NFL exile.

And Goodell’s stock statements? Stuff like the NFL is a “meritocracy.” Or teams are making “football decisions” – even while some carry sorry QB options and Kaepernick’s résumé includes taking a team to a Super Bowl. Goodell, in recent years, has also harrumphed that “I don’t get involved in personnel decisions with the clubs,” although NFL executive Joe Lockhart contended recently that Goodell indeed made calls on behalf of Kaepernick at some point. Goodell, the face of the NFL shield, has also posited that multiple factors are involved for teams. It should not be forgotten that Giants co-owner John Mara once publicly bemoaned the potential backlash he suspected would come with signing Kaepernick, based on feedback he’s received in letters from fans.

For Goodell to take the public stand now to “encourage” a team to sign Kaepernick seems so reactionary. In times of crisis, the NFL often seems to stick a finger in the air to assess where the wind is coming from. When President Donald Trump blasted the NFL over the protests during the national anthem, feeding red meat to his base, the league at first showed some resistance … then backed down. Now that Trump’s approval ratings are sinking, there’s seemingly more juice for the NFL to resist the Basher-In-Chief. Encouraging the possibility of Kaepernick getting another shot, like maintaining you’re game for joining protests now, seemingly flows better these days, especially as many corporate entities – always important to the business of the NFL, given sponsorship dollars – make public pronouncements that admonish systemic racism.

The tide is seemingly shifting, leaving Goodell with so much less risk in supporting Kaepernick’s chances to land work. Remember, the Goodell who recently expressed regret for not listening to players is the same man who in 2017 trumpeted “unprecedented dialogue” with players as the league became proactive in supporting social justice efforts.

Bottom line, the words – even if genuine in this case – are so cheap when played against the history of the Kaepernick saga.

Back in 2017, I asked Goodell at a news conference if he had even talked to Kaepernick. I was stunned that he maintained, “It’s something I could do, but it’s not something I have thought about.”

That shouldn’t have been difficult back then and surely shouldn’t be now during the enhanced listening that will be presumably in play with this new round of enlightenment.

Go ahead, Roger. Call him. Initiate engagement and listen up.

As with the statement of “encouragement,” better late than never.

Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: Why now? Roger Goodell’s support for Colin Kaepernick is a trendy matter of convenience

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