David Thornton – The Resurgent https://theresurgent.com Committed to Freedom, Faith and Family Tue, 31 Mar 2020 18:13:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://theresurgent.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-favicon-32x32.png David Thornton – The Resurgent https://theresurgent.com 32 32 104855451 The Election Will Be A Referendum On Trump’s Handling Of Coronavirus https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/31/the-election-will-be-a-referendum-on-trumps-handling-of-coronavirus/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/31/the-election-will-be-a-referendum-on-trumps-handling-of-coronavirus/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 19:00:00 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60899 The good news for Republicans is that the focus has been on Donald Trump. The bad news is that the focus has been on Donald Trump.

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It has been just over a month since I wrote that Coronavirus would be a wild card for the election year and there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. While events are still unfolding, the focus on the pandemic and the fact that campaign events will likely be curtailed over the summer means that this year’s presidential election will probably be a referendum on how the Trump Administration handles the emergency.

So far, the good news for Republicans is that the focus has been on Donald Trump. As the president gives daily briefings and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden self-isolates, the president is front-and-center in the public view. The bad news for Republicans is that the president is front-and-center in the public view.

President Trump has so far gotten decent marks for his handling of the crisis. The president’s approval in the FiveThirtyEight average has ticked up about three points since March 13 when he declared a national emergency for the pandemic. A CNN poll released yesterday showed that Americans are almost evenly split on the federal government’s handling of the crisis. After trailing in the polls for months and with more than half of the electorate having said that they won’t vote for Trump’s re-election, the emergency represents a chance for the president to change minds and win votes with a strong, competent performance when the chips are down.  

But Trump’s approval on the issue of the pandemic seems vulnerable. Polling taken on March 26-27 as Trump was considering cutting the social-distancing guidelines short reflected a drop. The Harris poll showed a six-point drop over the previous week that was driven by declines in approval among Republicans and independents. The poll may be an outlier or it may reflect that the public will support Trump on Coronavirus only as long as he does the right thing. It’s also worth noting that even though Trump’s approval is up in recent weeks, it is still well below an average of 50 percent.

While Trump does have positive approval on his handling of the pandemic, Morning Consult polling shows that the president has the lowest net approval of any entity that was rated for performance on the pandemic. The president’s rating was far behind the CDC and the WHO and underscores how marginal the president’s performance on the pandemic has been.

This also helps to explain why President Trump, despite his improved approval ratings, is still running behind Joe Biden. The Real Clear Politics average currently shows Biden up by an average of more than six points. Biden’s advantage includes leads in battleground states and counties. Given the former vice president’s tendency toward stumbles and gaffes, Biden may benefit from being out of the limelight.

Coronavirus may throw another wrench into the best-laid plans for the presidential election as well. As Democratic primaries are canceled and delayed, it becomes harder for Joe Biden to clinch the nomination before the convention, which is scheduled to being on July 13. If Biden loses the confidence of Democratic insiders, the delayed conventions could leave an opening to nominate a dark-horse candidate such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A risk for Democrats is that such a move could trigger mass defections among Bernie Sanders supporters, however.

The possible cancellation of the Democratic convention could be an advantage for Republicans. For many Americans who don’t follow politics year-round, the convention is an introduction to the opposition candidate. If the convention doesn’t happen, it’s harder to find a big moment for Trump’s challenger to make his case, especially with many smaller events being canceled as well.

“That Thursday night speech by our nominee could be seen by 50 to 60 million Americans, most of them who haven’t paid a minute of attention to the primary. That’s the conversation that takes us to winning,” Bob Mulholland, a California DNC member told Politico. “If we have to cancel and Trump has a convention with 40,000 people screaming and yelling … that’s an advantage to Trump because nobody saw us except some text they got, and then they watched Trump.”

President Trump stands to benefit if the death toll is extremely low and if the economy rebounds quickly. Conversely, if the outbreak is out-of-control for months or if voters are feeling economically vulnerable this fall then Trump might be blamed. Democratic safety-net programs could look very attractive to an electorate with high unemployment and facing a deadly virus without health insurance.

Aside from the obvious factors of the ultimate severity of the pandemic and the associated economic downturn, there will be investigations into how the government reacted during the crisis. These won’t necessarily be criminal or congressional investigations, but journalists will be talking to people who were involved to find out what happened behind the scenes. The revelations in those articles and books could impact the campaign.

Likewise, the pandemic will be a central part of messaging for both parties. Democratic ads with the president downplaying the need for ventilators, accusing doctors and nurses of hoarding supplies or “worse than hoarding,” and saying that Coronavirus was contained and under control write themselves. In fact, one such ad has already been written and posted to Twitter by The Bulwark.

https://twitter.com/BulwarkOnline/status/1241731899636224001?s=20

While there are trends that we can watch, the history of the Coronavirus pandemic is still being written. Just because Donald Trump has approval for his handling of the outbreak now doesn’t mean that the same will be true in November. Conversely, we have seen that a Democratic edge in the polls can slip as the election draws near.

The bottom line is that Coronavirus remains a wild card. With eight months to go before the election, a lot can happen. If the first few months of 2020 are any indication, a lot will. Anybody who claims to know for sure how the pandemic will impact the election is lying to you.

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Fed Estimates Unemployment Could Hit 32% https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/31/fed-estimates-unemployment-could-hit-32/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/31/fed-estimates-unemployment-could-hit-32/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:09:43 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60895 Coronavirus could put 47 million Americans out of work, but the worst part of the downturn should be brief.

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A new report by the St. Louis Fed says that the worst is yet to come from the Coronavirus downturn. Economists at the Fed estimate that the economic fallout from the pandemic could kill 47 million jobs. That would translate to an unemployment rate of 32.1 percent.

The numbers reflect what St. Louis Fed economist Miguel Faria-e-Castro calls “back-of-the-envelope” calculations. Faria-e-Castro said that the unemployment rate may be lower if unemployed workers drop completely out of the workforce. The figures also do not reflect the effect of the recently passed stimulus which extends unemployment benefits and subsidizes businesses that keep workers on their payrolls.

Nevertheless, Faria-e-Castro told CNBC, “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”

The first wave of unemployment filings from the pandemic eclipsed records with 3.2 million new claims. That number is certain to go higher.

Faria-e-Castro says that there are 66.8 million workers in occupations that are “occupations with high risk of layoff.” These occupations run the gamut of the service economy and include sales, production, food preparation, and other services. There are also another 27.3 million “high contact-intensive”  jobs at risk. These include positions such as barbers and stylists, airline workers, and food service.

Faria-e-Castro estimated that about half of these jobs would be lost in the short term. That works out to just over 47 million jobs and a jobless rate that could be worse than the 24.9 percent unemployment rate at the peak of the Great Depression.

The upside is that the downturn may be brief. As soon a the lockdown is ended, people will venture back out and there may be pent up demand. By the end of April, many laid-off workers will be returning to their jobs.

However, with a vaccine for COVID-19 at least a year away, it is unlikely that things will return to normal for the remainder of 2020. Even as people leave their homes, the need for social distancing will continue to prevent new outbreaks. Many people, especially those in high-risk categories, may not want to travel or spend a lot of time in public until the virus has been totally defeated. Still, the worst part of the downturn should be mercifully brief.

Faria-e-Castro cautions that the disruption in the job market “will be unparalleled, but don’t get discouraged. This is a special quarter, and once the virus goes away and if we play our cards right and keep everything intact, then everyone will go back to work and everything will be fine.”

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FDA Authorizes Experimental Treatments For COVID-19 https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/30/fda-authorizes-experimental-treatments-for-covid-19/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/30/fda-authorizes-experimental-treatments-for-covid-19/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 00:50:05 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60869 Patients will be able to try two much-hyped malaria drugs.

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Trump Administration plan to use unapproved and untested drugs to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. The FDA said that the possible benefits outweigh the risks of the experimental treatments.

In particular, the drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, have been the source of optimism after a few, small, anecdotal reports hinted that they were effective in treating the COVID-19 virus. The drugs are approved treatments for malaria.

Use of the drugs is not without risks. Although both have FDA approval, they also come with known side-effects. GoodRX.com notes that hydroxychloroquine typically has fewer side-effects, but both drugs can cause irreversible vision changes, abnormal heart rhythm, muscle weakness, nerve pain, low blood glucose, and worsening of psoriasis. The side-effects are more pronounced with long-term use and at higher dosages.

The problem could be compounded by the fact that many of the critical COVID-19 patients have underlying health issues. These could include heart problems that would be compounded by the drugs’ side-effects.

Michael Ackerman, a pediatric cardiologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, told the Washington Post, “The concern really is if we’re talking millions of patients, then this issue of drug-induced sudden cardiac death is absolutely going to rear its ugly head.”

Despite the risks, in its authorization letter, Denise Hinton, chief scientist at the FDA, granted permission to use the drugs against COVID-19 with some restrictions because “there is no adequate, approved, and available alternative.” The authorization is valid until the FDA determines that the emergency circumstances no longer exist.

It is too early to tell whether the drugs, which have been hyped by President Trump, will be as effective against the Coronavirus as early results suggest, but the move by the FDA is nevertheless a good one. Coronavirus patients whose lives are hanging in the balance with only weeks to live deserve the chance to try.

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De Blasio’s Church Threat Is Unconstitutional https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/30/suspending-religious-gatherings-is-not-unconstitutional-but-permanently-closing-churches-would-be/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/30/suspending-religious-gatherings-is-not-unconstitutional-but-permanently-closing-churches-would-be/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 17:00:00 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60857 Banning public gatherings in a crisis is constitutional. Keeping them closed afterward is not.

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There have been accusations of First Amendment violations in orders that prohibited church gatherings due to Coronavirus. Some have claimed that those orders violated religious freedoms because they included churches. Those people were wrong, but now New York Mayor Bill De Blasio has gone a step beyond what the law allows.

In a televised address, De Blasio told New Yorkers, “A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance even though it’s so widespread. I want to say to all those who are preparing for the potential of religious services this weekend: If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services.”

De Blasio then said that law enforcement had been instructed “if they see worship services going on they will go to the officials of that congregation and they will inform them that they need to stop the services and disperse. If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”

To be clear, quarantines and orders limiting public gatherings are both legal and constitutional. The understanding of the need for quarantines goes back beyond the understanding of germ theory. The CDC notes on its site that the word “quarantine” dates back to the Middle Ages and literally means “40 days,” which coincidentally, is about how long it’s going to take to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In early American history, quarantines were instituted by both the colonial governments and the fledgling government of the United States. Federal action today is justifiable under the Interstate Commerce Clause, the General Welfare Clause and the Public Health Service Act. Though modern Americans have not had to deal with a situation like the Coronavirus pandemic, quarantines and other restrictions were common in our history as our forefathers fought diseases such as smallpox and yellow fever.

In the past, however, many quarantine actions were undertaken by state and local governments. In the current health crisis, we see a similar pattern as governors and city leaders take the lead on restricting movements to slow the infection. In fact, states have much broader quarantine powers than the federal government. Vox has a good explanation of quarantine law and a rundown on various state laws here.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is one of these local leaders. To be clear, De Blasio is within his authority and is doing the right thing to ban public gatherings. As David French and Sarah Isgur discussed on the Advisory Opinions podcast two weeks ago, if the government issues a blanket ban on public gatherings in an emergency that includes but does not single out religious gatherings, it is not a violation of the First Amendment or religious freedom.

A popular meme going around the internet says that quarantines only apply to sick people. This is also incorrect. Quarantines apply to people who might be infected. Sickness is not required.

Where De Blasio crosses the line is with his threat to permanently close churches and synagogues. Once the emergency is over, the city would have no authority to keep houses of worship open. If the City of New York tried to enforce such an unconstitutional order, it would lose.

Until the outbreak is stopped, however, De Blasio does have the authority to shut down religious services and fine those who flout the order. I hope that he does use these powers because the situation in New York is beyond the pale. Christians should have more consideration for their fellow man than to risk the deaths of thousands simply because they insist on meeting in person.

That does not mean that the faithful can’t continue to worship in small or virtual groups. Online services have become the norm around the country over the past few weeks as Chris Queen wrote two weeks ago.

When the plague has subsided, many Americans will rejoice and thank God in churches around the country. There will be more Americans alive to do so if churches and businesses don’t act stupidly in the meantime.

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Trump Extends Social Distancing Through April As Fauci Predicts 100,000-200,000 Deaths https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/30/trump-extends-social-distancing-as-fauci-predicts-100-200k-deaths/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/30/trump-extends-social-distancing-as-fauci-predicts-100-200k-deaths/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:44:07 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60847 The president acted wisely and against the wishes of many in his base. He deserves credit for that.

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I’m frequently critical of President Trump and it’s usually for good reason. However, I try to be objective and give the president credit when he does the right thing. That was the case yesterday when he ordered an extension of the federal call for social distancing to April 30.

About this time last week, President Trump was wondering whether the cure was worse than the disease and speculating that the country could be back to normal by Easter. At the time, I advised the president to listen to his doctors. Apparently he did.

By yesterday, Mr. Trump seemed to be taking the crisis more seriously. Speaking to reporters at the daily Coronavirus press briefing, the president said he would extend the federal social distancing guidelines to the end of April. The guidelines, originally set for two weeks, were due to expire on Monday.

As he spoke to reporters, Trump seemed like a different person from the president who wanted to fill churches for Easter only a few days before.

President Trump told reporters, “The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks, so I’ll say it again: the peak, the highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks.” Two weeks from yesterday would be Easter Sunday.

So far, the US has reported 2,582 Coronavirus deaths per tracking site, Worldometer.com. There were 362 new deaths reported on Sunday, March 29, which was down from 525 on Saturday. The site cautions that Sunday’s data may be incomplete due to delayed reporting from New York. Coronavirus deaths have been doubling every 2-3 days.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” the president continued. “That would be the greatest loss of all. Therefore, the next two weeks, and during this period it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines.”

“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” the president told the country.

The credit for Trump’s turnaround almost certainly goes to Drs. Fauci and Birx. The two medical experts are frequent fixtures are the press conferences and have won the respect and admiration of the country.

Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Dr. Fauci said, “Looking at what we’re seeing now, you know, I would say between 100 and 200,000 (deaths)” from Coronavirus in the US. Fauci said that the US would have millions of COVID-19 cases.

“Whenever the models come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario,” Fauci explained. “Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst case actually came out. They always overshoot.”

The worst-case scenario presented by the models would be millions of deaths. At the press conference, Dr. Birx said that models predicted “1.6 and 2.2 million fatalities if we didn’t mitigate.” Fauci called that worst-case scenario “not impossible, but very, very unlikely.”

Presenting bad news with good, the president also veered off-script to accuse New York health authorities of something “worse than hoarding.”

“I want the people in New York to check Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, that when a hospital that’s getting 10,000 masks goes to 300,000 masks during the same period, and that’s a rapid period, I would like them to check that because I hear stories like that all the time,” Trump said. “We’re delivering millions and millions of different products, and all we do is hear, ‘Can you get some more?””

Actor Lou Diamond Phillips responded to the charge on Twitter, pointing out that 1,000 nurses changing their masks between treating 30 patients per day would use 300,000 masks over 10 days. The dramatic increase in the usage of medical products is tied directly to the dramatic increase of infectious patients.  

At the end of the day, however, President Trump stepped up and made a very difficult decision. Keeping the economy in hibernation for another month as we approach a presidential election was not an easy thing to do, but, when the evidence of the spreading outbreak was considered, there was really no choice at all. When given a choice between a recession or millions of dead Americans plus a recession, the president acted wisely and against the wishes of many in his base. He deserves credit for that.

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US Coronavirus Cases Blow Past 100,000 https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/28/us-coronavirus-cases-blow-past-100000/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/28/us-coronavirus-cases-blow-past-100000/#respond Sat, 28 Mar 2020 16:38:11 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60804 It is likely that millions of Americans are infected and don't know it.

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The number of Coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 100,000 on Friday afternoon. The US is now the world leader in acknowledged cases of the disease after having passed China and Italy earlier in the week. Globally, there are currently 606,000 confirmed cases.

Many have questioned whether the US has actually surpassed China, questioning official Chinese statistics that show the virus leveling off at about 80,000 cases in mid-February. The discussion of which country is worse off misses the point, however.

The buried lede is that the United States has added more than 100,000 cases in a single month since the CDC announced “community spread” of the disease in this country on February 26. There were 60 known cases then. As I write this, the current count is either 102,636 or 105,019 depending on which site you look at. (The official CDC count lags behind because it only reports between Monday and Friday and the numbers close out on the previous day.)

In reality, the spread of the infection is probably much worse than even the 105,000 estimate. Inan Dogan, research director of Insider Monkey, worked backward from the 205 deaths reported in the US on March 19. Assuming a 0.8 percent death rate and armed with the fact that a COVID-19 infection takes about 24 days to resolve, Dogan calculated that there must have been about 25,625 infected Americans on February 25 (205 divided by 0.8 percent). That implies a far greater spread than the 60 confirmed cases that the government acknowledged at the time.

Dogan’s mathematic model, which appeared on Yahoo News on March 20, estimates that the number of infected people doubles every three days. From the 25,000 infected on February 25, the contagion would have grown to 100,000 on February 28. He used his model to predict 800 US deaths 26 days later on March 26. Historical statistics show that the death toll was actually 1,295 on that day.

Under Dogan’s model, by March 14, the day after President Trump declared a national emergency, there were already 1.6 million infected Americans. The cat was already well out of the bag at that point.

The good news is that on March 14, many state and local governments began instituting defensive measures such as social distancing, closing schools, and stay-at-home orders. Dogan notes that these tactics have slowed the spread of the disease so that it is no longer doubling every three days.

The bad news is that the disease is running its course on the 1.6 million Americans who were already infected. Using the model, Dogan predicts that the US death toll will reach 12,800 within 24 days of March 14. That day would be April 7.

In three weeks, Dogan warns, we could be seeing 1,000 deaths per day unless we take “strict measures,” similar to the lockdowns that were able to slow the spread of Coronavirus in China and Italy.

“The attacks on 9/11 killed around 3,000 people. We will be reporting a 9/11 every three days,” Dogan says. “This is a mathematical certainty.”

Whether one wants to quibble with Dogan’s assumptions or not, it seems obvious that the number of American infections has been drastically undercounted. The shortage of test kits, which is still a problem, means that only likely Coronavirus cases have been tested. That also means that hundreds of thousands of people with mild symptoms have not been tested.

On my social media timelines, I’ve noticed an increasing number of people reporting fevers and coughs in recent days. Most of these people have not tested positive for COVID-19 because they have not been tested at all. Several have posted that they were advised to self-quarantine and not seek treatment unless they had trouble breathing.

The development of a new 5-minute test kit by Abbott may help to illuminate how far through American society COVID-19 has spread, but it is too late to stop the disease from running its course through those who have already been infected. With no approved treatments and shortages of ventilators, the waves of infections and deaths are far from cresting. We are in for several bad weeks.

In the meantime, if you don’t have symptoms, protect yourself by staying home when possible, maintaining your distance from others, and washing your hands frequently. There is now evidence that the virus can survive outside the body for considerable lengths of time. Just how long varies by the material, but you should clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs. In my house, we have also instituted a quarantine area for incoming groceries and other items. If we need the item quickly, we disinfect and discard the outer packaging.

If you are experiencing Coronavirus symptoms, quarantine yourself and notify anyone you have come into contact with so that they can also isolate themselves. If you are experiencing breathing problems, get help immediately, but call ahead before visiting a doctor’s office or hospital. The CDC has a list of other recommendations for the sick that you can read here. Remember that your country is praying for you.

But for the country as a whole, things are going to get worse before they get better.

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To Fix The Economy We Must Beat The Virus https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/27/to-fix-the-economy-we-must-beat-the-virus/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/27/to-fix-the-economy-we-must-beat-the-virus/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2020 12:00:00 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60775 The economy is not going to return to normal until the pandemic is stopped.

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In the past few days, a movement has emerged to end the shutdown and get America back to work. These people argue that the lockdown was a mistake and that, as the president has said, “We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) became the face of the movement when he told Tucker Carlson, “My message is that let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it. And those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”

From Trump and Patrick, others took up the message. Conservative radio talk show host Jesse Kelly tweeted that he would “happily die” if he had a “choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression.” Another Trump supporter told me on social media, “Shutting down an entire economy costs trillions of dollars per quarter. That exceeds the statistical value of life from those who will die from the virus.”

I can think of many words to describe the prospect of disregarding the advice of medical experts and leaving hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans to die. Neither of those words is “pro-life” or “conservative.”

The whole movement is reminiscent of the scene in Monty Python and The Holy Grail in which a Medieval peasant tries to bring out a corpse for pickup and disposal. “I’m not dead yet,” the old man exclaims.

The hundreds of thousands of Americans that some are willing to write off aren’t dead yet either.

Erick Erickson calculated that a conservative estimate of the death toll would be about 900,000 people. To put that into perspective, that low-end estimate is slightly more than the annual number of abortions in the US.

But wait, there’s more. The Coronavirus doesn’t just kill. Anywhere from about 20 to 30 percent of cases are severe enough to require hospitalization. While the disease mostly kills senior citizens like Dan Patrick, a large share of cases serious enough to require treatment are middle-aged or younger. In one CDC study reported by Fox News, about 20 percent of patients, including in the ICU, were between 20 and 44 years-old.

Diedre Wilkes, a 42-year-old mammogram technician from Coweta County, Georgia, was one of the younger victims of Coronavirus. Wilkes, who had no known underlying health conditions, was found dead in her home last week. NBC News reported that Wilkes posthumously tested positive for COVID-19.

Statistically, the workforce is primarily composed of people who, like Diedre Wilkes, are vulnerable to the virus. While the 20-60 age group is not the most at-risk group for death from COVID-19, these people are at risk for serious complications that may require hospitalization.

The increased need for hospitalization is a major problem of the pandemic. Hospitals in New York City, which has been especially hard hit, are reaching maximum capacity. ICUs and morgues are full, reported the New York Times, and shortages of protective gear are hampering treatment and causing increased risks to health workers. When hospitals become overwhelmed, the death rate will go up not only for Coronavirus patients but for other health conditions as well.

Thinking logically, even if President Trump, backed by his medical advisors, reopened the economy and rescinded the stay-at-home advisories, the economy would not rebound. With the virus still spreading unchecked, many state and local governments would keep their own advisories and orders in place. Businesses might choose not to reopen or return to normal because they could see the threat to their employees and customers. Businesses that did return to normal might find that that employee sick calls increase sharply within the next few weeks.

Consumers may not be ready to return to normal either. A large share of the population would not immediately return to local restaurants and bars knowing that infected people could be sitting next to them. Few would choose to take an airline trip or a cruise and be in close proximity to a large number of strangers. No one is going to want to take a summer vacation to Disney or Las Vegas or New York as things currently stand.

The reason is that Americans aren’t stupid and most of us have pretty decent BS detectors. In a media-driven society where we are bombarded with crises du jour from both sides, we have to. If we don’t panic over alarmism about non-crises such as climate change or illegal immigrant crime waves then most of us probably have the wherewithal to determine that we should at least be cautious about a deadly infectious disease with no vaccine or treatment despite what the government says.

This will be doubly true as more Americans see people that they know falling ill to COVID-19. As the old saying goes, who should we believe, the government or our lying eyes?

About a week ago, a friend from a previous move was asking on Facebook if anyone knew anybody who had Coronavirus. Since then that rural county has reported two confirmed cases. The friend hasn’t posted much lately.

The bottom line is that the economy is not going to return to normal until the pandemic is stopped. After a few weeks, almost certainly not an entire quarter, things will start to get back to normal. Businesses and schools will start to reopen when the number of cases recedes, but there will be local outbreaks and quarantines until we develop a proven treatment and a vaccine. That could be more than a year away. Until then, we are likely to see a slower economy and higher unemployment.

Even if the economy could be restarted at the president’s whim, the country is more than the economy alone. The idea that Americans could or should write off what might be as much as one percent of our total population is reprehensible. It is no more moral for Jerry Falwell, Jr., who refused to close Liberty University, and others to advocate sacrificing legions of their countrymen for the economy than it is for Millennials to refer to the virus as a “Boomer Remover” and party as normal on Spring Break before returning to infect their parents and grandparents. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Sacrificing your fellow Americans for the economy is morally on the same level as abortion for convenience. It is little different from euthanasia or assisted suicide except for the fact that the people who will die have no say in the matter.

Being pro-life is more than being anti-abortion. Life does not end at conception. It does not end when you leave the workforce or when you enter a nursing home or are put on a ventilator.

People who are truly pro-life will be reaching out to help their neighbors during this crisis. They will accept some discomfort and inconvenience as they practice social-distancing and near-compulsive handwashing. They will even accept some financial hardships to help save lives.

What they won’t do is prematurely return to business as usual and endanger millions of their friends and neighbors.

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Unemployment Claims Soar Past 3 Million https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-soar-past-3-million/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/26/unemployment-claims-soar-past-3-million/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 19:00:00 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60744 Economists expected a horrible unemployment report. The reality was worse.

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Last week I reported on a Goldman Sachs estimate that new unemployment filings could increase 800 percent to more than 2 million. The reality was much worse. The sudden onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and associated stay-at-home advisories and orders led to a record-breaking unemployment report with 3.28 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims over the past week.

It was expected that unemployment numbers would be bad, but the actual numbers were worse than expected. Yahoo Finance reported that economists had expected about 1.64 million new filings. What they got was double the forecast.

The 3.28 million new claims are the worst unemployment report in the history of the statistic which dates back to 1967. By comparison, the largest single increase in claims during the Great Recession was 665,000 in March 2009. The previous record was 695,000 in October 1982.

On Twitter yesterday, the president attacked the “LameStream [sic] Media” for “trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success.” The president has repeatedly stated his hope that the country can be reopened by Easter, two weeks away, noting that workers are “not going to go walk around hugging and kissing each other in the office when they come back, even though they may feel like it.”

But medical experts, including White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, say that may be unlikely and that lifting restrictions too quickly could be disastrous.

“You may not want to essentially treat it as just one force for the entire country, but look at flexibility in different areas,” Fauci said earlier this week. “So I think people might get the misinterpretation you’re just going to lift everything up. … That’s not going to happen. It’s going to be looking at the data. And what we don’t have right now that we really do need, is we need to know what’s going on in those areas of the country where there isn’t an obvious outbreak.” 

The Coronavirus relief bill that passed the Senate earlier today, includes an extension in unemployment insurance for the millions of out-of-work Americans. The bill, which now goes to the House, provides for $600 per week for four weeks in addition to normal state unemployment benefits.

The impact of the staggering new numbers of unemployed workers on the election is uncertain at this point. Many will return to work long before the polls open in November, but rolling quarantines and the fallout from the current shutdown will be with us for months. Even if restrictions were lifted immediately, many people would be hesitant to go back into restaurants and stores or to get back onto airliners and cruise ships.

There are a few bright spots in the economy, however. Grocery stores, delivery restaurants, package delivery services, and Amazon are among the businesses that are still hiring. The downside is that many of the people filling these jobs have lost higher-paying positions.

While presidents historically have problems getting re-elected in times of economic distress, Americans realize that it was the Coronavirus and not President Trump that caused the current crisis. It seems likely that the election may become a referendum on President Trump’s handling of both the pandemic and the probable recession that results from it. That track record is still being compiled.

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Will Democrats Dump Biden And Draft Cuomo? https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/26/will-democrats-dump-biden-and-draft-cuomo/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/26/will-democrats-dump-biden-and-draft-cuomo/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 16:53:46 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60726 Whether such a feat would be possible with current rules and superdelegates is doubtful, but the upheaval of 2020 could mean that this year would be the most likely time for a dark horse candidate to win, if it is possible at all.

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Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee with a healthy delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, but his tendency towards gaffes and concerns about his mental state still make many Democrats uneasy about his candidacy. With Bernie Sanders all but vanquished and rejected by the Democratic Party, none of the other candidates would be an obvious choice for a replacement nominee if Biden falters. However, some Democrats are looking to New York’s governor as a potential stand-in if the former vice president can’t go the distance.

Since the virus outbreak, Biden has largely been out of the public eye save for video addresses which have not gone smoothly. Biden’s delivery was characterized by slurred words and flubs even though he was reading from a teleprompter.

Into the valley of Democratic angst rode Andrew Cuomo. The New York governor’s daily press briefings and other media appearances about the Coronavirus pandemic have made him a household name. His performance before the national cameras projects a competence and assurance that Joe Biden lacks.

Cuomo is also boosted by his apparent effectiveness in handling the COVID-19 crisis. New York has so far been the hardest hit area with about 60 percent of US Coronavirus cases concentrated in the area. Both hospitals and morgues are filling up in New York City as refrigerated trucks are being pressed into service to store the bodies of Coronavirus victims.

Nevertheless, Gov. Cuomo has projected strong leadership despite the extent of the crisis compared with President Trump’s inconsistent and often inaccurate messaging. Cuomo has taken strong actions to close businesses, find medical equipment for his state, and communicated the strong, unequivocal message that New Yorkers – and Americans – need to limit social interactions to stem the spread of the disease.

While sympathetic to those in isolation, at one point Cuomo, who had brought his daughter, Cara, to the daily briefing, talked about the upside of being forced to stay home, saying, “The last thing you want, to be in Cara’s position is to hang out with the old man.. listen to bad dad jokes” but to be “with her a few months .. what a beautiful gift that is.”

No matter how much Democrats might wish that Cuomo was a candidate, there might not be a path to the nomination. We are well into the primaries and he has no campaign, no delegates, and is not on the ballot. It would seem the obstacles are insurmountable.

However, as I wrote a few weeks ago, Coronavirus is a wild card for the election. The faltering economy has added to the uncertainty, as does the fact that both prospective party nominees are in the high-risk category for the virus. Many states have delayed their primaries, which likely means that it will take Biden longer to clinch the nomination. It could also mean that Democrats have more time to contract a case of buyer’s remorse. There could be an uprising before the Democratic convention in July.

In National Review, John Fund cites the example of Wendell Wilkie in 1940, who won the Republican nomination on the sixth ballot without having competed in a single primary. Whether such a feat would be possible with current rules and superdelegates is doubtful, but the upheaval of 2020 could mean that this year would be the most likely time for a dark horse candidate to win, if it is possible at all.

At this point, a Democratic nominee other than Joe Biden is a long shot, but 2020 has defied the odds on several scores already. If Democrats do decide against Biden at this late point in the process, Andrew Cuomo would be a likely choice.

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Senate Reaches Agreement On Coronavirus Relief, Here’s What’s In The Bill https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/25/senate-reaches-agreement-on-coronavirus-relief-heres-whats-in-the-bill/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/25/senate-reaches-agreement-on-coronavirus-relief-heres-whats-in-the-bill/#respond Wed, 25 Mar 2020 16:46:42 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=60674 The $2 trillion bill is expected to pass the Senate today.

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Senators reached a compromise on the Coronavirus relief package in a late-night session on Tuesday. The agreement was announced early Wednesday morning at about 1:30 am by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“This is a very important bipartisan piece of legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business and people across America,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Washington Post Wednesday morning. “We couldn’t be more pleased.”

Mnuchin added that he had “spoken to the president many times today; he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have.”

In a written statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi also that House Democrats will accept the compromise as well, saying, “This bipartisan legislation takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people.”

Pelosi added, “The compromise does not go as far as” the Democratic bill, but said that “thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.”

The new version of the $2 trillion bill reportedly includes:

  • $250 billion for individuals and families in the form of $1,200 payments for individuals who earn up to $75,000 and $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000. There is an additional payment of $500 per child. Benefits phase out at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples.
  • $350 billion in small business loans
  • $250 billion in unemployment benefits
  • $500 billion in corporate loans
  • $130 billion for hospitals
  • $150 billion for state and local governments
  • A provision that would prevent the Trump family, top government officials, and members of Congress from getting stimulus loans or investments
  • Creates a special investigator general for pandemic recovery and establishes Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to oversee business loans  

The Senate reconvenes this afternoon to consider the compromise. The Senate could pass the bill, which would then go to the House, by this evening.

Experts say that even after the bill is passed, it will take time for the federal government to get the money to the people. CNN notes that previous stimulus payments took from two to 10 weeks to process. Payments to people who have already filed tax returns and who have opted for direct deposit are likely to be received quicker than those to people who do not file returns or who have opted for paper checks.

[Updated 1:22 pm ET to include information on corporate loan oversight]

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