Our monthly report on covid (click on the coronavirus tag at the bottom to read prior reports). The situation looks much better than the last report on January 22. Cases and deaths are declining in most of the world, though there may be a small resurgence ongoing in South America. The reported variants may have resulted in limited surges in some countries but even the most dangerous, in South Africa, seems to be petering out.
I've get the benchmark for summary purposes at 800 deaths per million because of the rapidly growing to provide some context for the United States. There is great variation in how countries count covid deaths, some related to understandable differences in how a covid death is defined, others impacted by the comprehensiveness of country reporting systems, and some due to more deliberate government interventions. Different countries use different measuring sticks. For instance, South Africa is near the bottom of the list with a death rate of 822. However, looking at excess deaths in that country since the start of the pandemic it is possible the rate may be closer to 2,000. I consider any country above 800 as in the same general ballpark as the U.S. As before, countries with populations below one million are excluded from the summary.
In the first monthly report on October 22, only two countries surpassed 800; today it is 38.
Slovenia (1820), Czech Republic (1803), UK (1773), Italy (1589), Portugal (1574*), Bosnia
& Herzogovinia (1535), Hungary (1488), North Macedonia (1476), Spain (1446), Bulgaria (1437), Croatia (1333), France (1294), Sweden
(1247), Slovakia (1204), Lithuania (1178), Switzerland (1139), Poland
(1115), Romania (1039), Moldova (943), Austria (929), Netherlands (889), Ireland (832), Latvia (826), Germany (819)
Dishonorable Mention: Russia with official rate of 573 but unofficially between 1000 and 1500 based on statements by two Russian government officials in January
USA (1542), Mexico (1388), Panama (1318)
Peru (1356), Brazil (1158), Colombia (1151), Argentina (1130), Chile (1047), Bolivia (972), Ecuador (873)
AfricaSouth Africa (822)
Armenia (1067), Georgia (865)
Last month's report included a discussion of the difference in how the media has reported covid in Florida v New York. That was written before the release of NY AG Letitia James report on January 28 regarding the coverup by Gov Andrew Cuomo of nursing home deaths due to covid. There was actually nothing new in this report. Cuomo's actions regarding nursing homes (sending covid positive patients into them) had been known since at least May and I'd written about it in July. This was mostly ignored by the media.
It wasn't the only scandal or failure of Cuomo. The same order that required nursing homes to take covid positive patients banned them from testing such patients themselves. Cuomo, over the protests of New York City leaders, postponed shut downs in the city in March. His administration also issued guidance advising nursing home staff who test positive but were asymptomatic to continue working (finally rescinded in late April).
What changed as of January 28? Donald Trump was no longer President, thus reporting the truth became permissible because it would not be seen as helping Trump. It also allowed the media to begin positioning for a true Progressive candidate, possibly AG James, to replace Cuomo in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Though Cuomo is a hack and a terrible person he is, by NY Democratic standards, a moderate, unlike James and a growing segment of the downstate party which is radical Left. None of those involved with the latest reports particularly care about the dead nursing home patients; this is all about political maneuvering. and positioning.
None of this has caused the media to stop publishing misleading attacks on Governor DeSantis. Within the past few days several outlets, led by NBC have attacked the governor. NBC's article is headlined "Florida governor accused of playing politics with Covid vaccine" which is technically true because Democrats will always accuse DeSantis of playing politics no matter what he does.
The article is designed to leave the reader with the impression that Florida's covid response has been a disaster (the "governor was slow to respond to the pandemic") and completely politicized.
In March 2020 I was one of those who thought Florida was on the brink of a fiasco with covid. Eleven months later it's clear I was wrong. I admit it but the partisan press refuses to do so.
As of today, Florida's covid death rate is less than the national average and 28th among all states despite having the largest percent of 65+ population (the most vulnerable demographic by far) of any state. In contrast, New York has the second highest death rate (73% higher than Florida) despite being ranked 26th in 65+ population. Yet New York's governor won an Emmy, was feted on all the late night shows and won a leadership award from the Edward Kennedy Leadership Institute (though this last may have been appropriate since if Mary Jo Kopechne were still alive she'd be old enough to die of covid in a New York nursing home).
The article goes on to claim DeSantis "ignored federal guidelines and prioritized getting senior citizens — one of Florida’s most potent voting blocs — vaccinated first". The article fails to point out that senior citizens are the most vulnerable to covid (for instance in Arizona the mortality rate for those 65+ is 52 times that of those age 20-44). That the initial federal guidelines did not strictly go by age was because public health experts prioritized racial equity, choosing instead to sacrifice the lives of thousands of vulnerable Americans - in other words, they endorsed voluntary manslaughter, as discussed in my December post. Thankfully, the feds have since revised their guidance and many states, like Florida, chose to ignore the initial guidance and decided instead to save the most lives, which NBC apparently believes is a shameful choice. NBC also fails to make clear that DeSantis prioritized health care workers along with seniors.
NBC, and the rest of the Progressive media, have also carefully ignored the minority vaccination outreach program by DeSantis, described in this National Review article:
Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director and a Democrat, said the state has multiple strategies for distributing the vaccine, including through open points of distribution, where anyone who qualifies can make an appointment, pharmacies, hospitals and physician clinics. They also distribute the vaccine through what are called “closed PODs,” which are only open to select populations. The 51 churches and recreation centers that have had vaccination events are closed PODs.
We started doing this with churches because we were very concerned that doses were not getting to the minority community", Moskowitz said. "Even though we had sites in minority community, because of the digital divide of booking appointments online and vaccine hesitancy, they were not getting into the minority community".
Among the 51 churches and recreation centers where the state has had vaccination events are: Holy Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Opa-Locka, a poor majority-black city in Miami-Dade County; a recreation center in downtown Fort Myers; and at least two churches in the overwhelmingly Hispanic city of Hialeah.