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As coronavirus ravages Spain, doctors get a grim order on 'futility of care' for the very old and very sick

As coronavirus ravages Spain, doctors get a grim order on 'futility of care' for the very old and very sickA document circulated by the health department of Catalonia recommends that emergency teams and health care workers stop using ventilators for patients older than 80, and further recommends that extremely ill victims of COVID-19 be allowed to die at home rather than being taken to the hospital.


Revealed: food bank shortages expected to hit Washington state by mid-April

Revealed: food bank shortages expected to hit Washington state by mid-AprilReport obtained by Guardian projects acute demand and supply problem, meaning agencies will struggle to provide for the hungry * Coronavirus – live US updates * Live global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageAgencies and organisations tasked with feeding children, the poor and the elderly in Washington state during the coronavirus crisis will experience shortages of food and supplies as early as mid-April, according to state government emergency planning documents obtained by the Guardian.A 27 March situation report (SitRep) document produced by the Unified Command of Washington’s State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) projects that a combination of acute demand at food banks and schools, supply problems for food and cleaning supplies, plus staffing shortages, will mean government and NGOs will struggle to provide for hungry people whose incomes have disappeared as the state’s economy stutters.This raises the prospect of food bank shortages in Washington but also nationwide, as food banks across the US are being increasingly utilized by unprecedented numbers of people in an economy that has been abruptly slowed to fight the spreading pandemic.Washington state has experienced one of the earliest and most serious outbreaks of Covid-19 in the US. Governor Jay Inslee has received praise in recent days for his decisive response, which is thought to have prevented an even worse crisis.But the document suggests that at the predicted peak of the epidemic, which has already infected at least 4,896 Washingtonians and killed at least 195, the state will need to head off a parallel humanitarian crisis.The SitRep document, produced by the emergency agency coordinated by Washington state’s military department and distributed to state and local agencies involved in the emergency response, details emerging problems and frantic efforts to solve them across a range of numbered emergency support functions (ESF), including communications, firefighting, and energy.Under the heading “ESF11 Agriculture and Natural Resources”, the SitRep details the growing problems in food security. Many of the problems involve food banks – non-governmental organizations that deliver food to needy people.The document says there is already a “shortage of food at food banks”, which is projected to become worse. It says: “NGOs have food on hand. However, burn rate is increasing fast. Demand is growing dramatically so supply is quickly being used up.”It goes on to warn: “Food banks expect a significant gap in the food supply across the whole system by mid-April (April 10-20).”It then offers insight into spiking demand at specific NGOs delivering food in Washington: “Northwest Harvest (a statewide food bank service) reported they are distributing 450,000lbs of food this week.”It continues: “The burn rate and demand are rising sharply. These NGOs are seeing 30 percent to 100% increases in the number of people served.”In a telephone conversation, Northwest Harvest chief executive Thomas Reynolds said of his food banks: “We don’t predict peak demand for another three weeks and then we anticipate peak demand for 12 to 20 weeks.”He added: “I worked for 15 years for Care International. So what it reminds me of is earthquakes in Nepal, the tsunami in Japan, food crises in Yemen. And the difference is there’s a lot more experience in a place like Nepal or Yemen to respond to emergencies.”The document says rural counties are already moving to rationalize food delivery in the face of demand.“Chelan county is moving away from using small distribution centers. Instead they are going to start using a single, mass-distribution site for emergency food,” it says.It continues with a prediction: “It’s a model we will likely see more of in the days and weeks to come.”On Wednesday, Inslee, announced he had mobilized 130 National Guard members to provide support for food banks in Chelan and four other counties, with potentially more to follow.The problems are being compounded by supply problems in other goods necessary for food service, such as supplies used to clean kitchens.As in other states, Washington has closed schools, but many districts have maintained school lunch delivery as a way of feeding needy children.These programs, too, are under strain, according to the SitRep.One issue is in the workforce, which “is a growing issue because schools rely on older people to work in food service and as bus drivers. These are two job categories important to food assistance.”The document says “older workers are opting not to work because of Covid concerns” and that schools are also experiencing supply problems.The document does offer some hope that solutions to shortages are emerging, but leaves open the question of whether they will arrive in time.Chris McGann, a spokesman for the Washington state department of agriculture, said in an email: “The current situation with its rapidly increasing demand and limited resources is putting incredible strain on the social safety net. Hunger relief is no different.”He added: “We have called on the federal government and private industry to identify and commit additional resources to help us make sure families have the nutritional support they need to make it through this crisis.”He also said that the problem was so far confined to food banks. “The food supply chain is otherwise operational and functional. People will still be able to get food at the grocery store.”Reynolds stressed that Northwest Harvest was working well with the state and has “good relationship with our local elected officials”. But he said he hoped food security will become more central to political debate.“I think we should be asking people who are running for office. What is your food policy?”


Trump defends decision to fire inspector general, calls him a 'disgrace'

Trump defends decision to fire inspector general, calls him a 'disgrace'“That’s my decision. I have the absolute right,” Trump said about Michael Atkinson's firing, the intelligence community inspector general who flagged the Ukraine whistleblower complaint.


‘New York Is in Crisis’: Cuomo Pleads for Help as State Suffers Worst Single-Day Death Toll

‘New York Is in Crisis’: Cuomo Pleads for Help as State Suffers Worst Single-Day Death TollMore people in New York State have died in the last 24 hours than in most of March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday—but the Empire State, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., is still struggling to find enough medical equipment to combat the pandemic.“The curve continues to go up,” Cuomo said at a Friday briefing in Albany, adding that, in the last day, the state saw its “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started.” “New York is in crisis," he said. "Help New York.”More than 2,935 people have died and 102,863 people have been infected with the virus in New York State, marking 562 deaths in a single day on Thursday. The state’s death toll has almost doubled in just three days, Cuomo said. In the 27 days after the state's first coronavirus case was confirmed on March 1, 366 New Yorkers died. NYC Is on the Brink as Patients Flood Hospitals Already ‘Under Siege’New York accounts for almost 50 percent of 6,069 virus-related deaths nationwide. At least 245,658 individuals across the country have been infected with COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.  The daily surge speaks to a nationwide problem: while state governments are working to get ahead of the virus, hospitals across the nation are overwhelmed, understaffed, and short on supplies necessary to combat the flu-like virus. The shortage has caused several states to bid against each other for purchase supplies from China. In New York, projections state that the apex of infections could come anytime between one week and a month from now. Those same projections suggest the virus could continue to plague New York until August, Cuomo said.  “No state can get the supplies they need. No state can get the PPE they need. No state can get the ventilators they need,” Cuomo said. “The market has literally collapsed.”Cuomo begged on Friday for New York manufacturers to start making gowns, gloves, and N95 masks. In an attempt to combat the shortage, Cuomo said Friday he will authorize the National Guard to borrow and redistribute ventilators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) from hospitals across the state—an attempt to put a band-aid on medical facilities hemorrhaging with too many patients. The equipment, which Cuomo said he would pay for as well, will be eventually given back to the hospitals. Hospital Suppliers Take to the Skies to Combat Dire Shortages of COVID-19 GearThe executive order comes one day after Cuomo said the state stockpile of supplies only had enough ventilators to last six days at the “current burn rate.” Over the last 24 hours, the trajectory of daily hospitalizations hit a new record, with 1,427 more people admitted and 335 new ICU patients. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said Friday the city is expected to run out of ventilators by Tuesday. “I’m not going to let people die,” Cuomo said. “I’m not going to get into a situation where I know we are running out of ventilators and we could have people dying because there are no ventilators, but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they’re not using.”Cuomo said he’d asked the federal government for help in obtaining more ventilators, stating that it was unacceptable for doctors to be forced to split one ventilator between two patients or use other machines as short-term fixes. So far, state officials have already taken extraordinary steps to combat the pandemic. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, originally converted into a makeshift, 3,000-bed overflow hospital facility to alleviate overcrowding, will now be fully dedicated to COVID-19 patients, Cuomo said. The USNS Comfort—a naval ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms, a medical laboratory, and over 1,000 officers—docked in Manhattan on Monday and is now the only facility meant to relieve hospitals of non-coronavirus patients. As of Thursday, Cuomo said the converted supertank once used after 9/11 has only treated 20 patients.“I’m going to speak to the secretary of defense,” Cuomo said when asked about the ship’s low admission rate. “I know they’re not taking COVID-positive patients. But they said that from day one, to be fair.”Central Park has also been transformed into a field hospital to help house COVID-19 patients, and construction has begun on a 350-bed facility at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens for patients without the virus. City officials have also increased the number of mobile morgues. As of Thursday, 45 refrigerated trucks have been set up across the five boroughs, some of which are already full, as morgues and funeral homes struggle to find space and time to keep up with the mounting bodies. New York doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic have previously told The Daily Beast they are “constantly stressed” about working for an overwhelmed hospital system without the proper supplies to protect themselves and those around them. At least three nurses in city hospitals have died after contracting the coronavirus during their shifts and dozens more have tested positive.On Friday, several terrified city nurses protested outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan to demand more supplies to help them combat the daily surge of cases. “Here we are, against the worst enemy, because this one we can’t see,” Diana Torres, a nurse, told the New York Daily News. “We can’t touch it. It’s killing us all. And we have nothing to fight with.” Sasha Winslow, a 9-year nursing veteran, stood next to Torres outside the entrance with a sign states: “We won’t be your bodybags.”And New Yorkers may still be confused about what precautionary steps to take against the coronavirus on Friday after New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said no data suggests that wearing masks, scarves, or bandanas while outside will protect people against infection. The statement directly contradicts guidance from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio—and expected guidance from President Donald Trump—that all residents should wear masks to prevent contracting and spreading the highly contagious virus.“The masks couldn’t hurt unless they gave a wearer a false sense of security,” Cuomo said. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Fact check: No, coronavirus did not lower the death rate in Chicago

Fact check: No, coronavirus did not lower the death rate in ChicagoA widely shared Facebook post claims COVID-19 has lowered the death rate in Chicago. But that's not what the data show.




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The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to “criticize the government and other organizations.” So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

Unfair Questions or Democracy At Work ?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Why U.S. Engagement Policy Is The Correct One

Invariably, when one thinks of the efficacy of a nation’s military, the mind’s eye is drawn to the ability of that country to deliver a \"warhead onto the forehead\" of their enemies. Indeed, owing to the Pentagon’s slick packaging of the First Gulf War, modern conflict, in the American mind, became synonymous with high-tech toys, grainy videos of successful missile shots, and a quick resolution of hostilities.

Capitalism and The Wealth Gap

When it comes to the efficient delivery of goods and services, capitalism is the proven economic model that puts people to work and products on the shelves. Whether those jobs end up paying enough money to purchase the items on those shelves is another matter, however.

Living Wages Are A Global Problem

The recent protests for an increased minimum wage are part of a larger global protest. The purpose is the same for low wage earners all over the world; increase wages to match the cost of living, and allow workers to form unions if desired and needed. The global protest has gained media attention all over the world, but critics claim that is the only accomplishment the movement will have.

Ukraine: Not What It Seems

After tense days of fighting this week, people in Ukraine are mourning the dead and celebrating the removal of President Victor Yanukovych from power. The final struggle that began on February 18, was the bloodiest endured by the protesters of Euromaidan. By February 22 the fighting was over.

Religious Freedom Bill - Protecting The Faithful or Legalized Discrimination?

After a much heated national debate, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial bill that would have allowed people and businesses in the state to refuse services to LBGT people based on their religious belief.

Coup Or Civil War In Egypt

The day after new protests erupted in Egypt the military in a show of support presented an ultimatum to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Morsi was to step down from power and meet all of the demands of the Egyptian people, or face being removed by the military on Wednesday. As the ultimatum deadline draws closer in Egypt, Morsi refuses to leave, insisting that parliamentary elections are needed before he should be removed, and that he doesn't have permission from the United States to remove himself from power. Most recently he stated he will pay with his life to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box.

 

 
 
 
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