Sunday, May 17, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 17.5.20

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*
The Bloody Virus 
  • Headline from a New York Times article: Why Are Women-Led Nations Doing Better With Covid-19?: A new leadership style offers promise for a new era of global threats.**
  • And one from The Guardian: As Europe emerges from lockdown, the question hangs: was Sweden right? 
  • To be contrasted with another NYT headline: Sweden Stayed Open. A Deadly Month Shows the Risks.
  • Finally. . .  Vitamin D is the key to surviving coronavirus, say researchers
Confused? Who can blame you¿

Life in Spain in the Time of Something Like Cholera
  • MarĂ­a's Come Back Diary, Day 6
  • We all remain rather confused about whether you're allowed to walk to a friend's house at any time of the day in Phase 1. And worried about the no-excuses-accepted attitude of the fine-obsessed police.
Real Life in Spain 
  • It's reported that you can now be jailed there for burning the EU flag. But it could be fake news, of course.
  • Meanwhile, all my emails to a friend there are being rejected for no apparent reason. He thinks it's because they come from Spain . . .
  • The Lancet goes for Fart with all guns blazing. See the article below.
Finally . . .
  • If you've read Graham Greene's novel Monsignor Quixote, you might like to know it's alleged he used the footwork for it - carwork? - to spy on the Franco regime. 
  • If you haven't yet read it, bear this in mind when you do.

The Lancet urges Americans to vote out Trump over coronavirus handling: Josie Ensor, The Telegraph.

The White House has repeatedly undermined leading US authorities on infectious diseases, the journal states

A respected medical journal that has published trusted scientific research since the 1800s has taken the unprecedented step of telling Americans not to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming election.

The Lancet offered a scathing assessment of the president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, saying his politicisation had put the country at greater risk.

In an editorial, the journal said that Mr Trump had marginalised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was dangerous for both the US and the world.

“There is no doubt that the CDC has made mistakes, especially on testing in the early stages of the pandemic,” the unsigned editorial said. “But punishing the agency by marginalizing and hobbling it is not the solution.”

During the current coronavirus crisis, the Trump White House has repeatedly undermined the leading US authorities on infectious diseases, The Lancet states. It added: "The CDC needs a director who can provide leadership without the threat of being silenced."

The CDC this month issued a 63-page report of recommendations to the White House to guide schools, businesses and others into the pandemic’s next phase.

However, the Trump administration disregarded much of it.

The White House guidelines, unveiled April 17 in a document titled "Opening up America Again," provided recommended criteria for reopening but largely left governors and other state officials to decide how and when to lift lockdown measures.

The CDC plan would have given community leaders far more detailed instructions for how to reopen than were ultimately released.

The Lancet also said it feared Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) would further erode the CDC and its ability to work with other countries in containing the pandemic.

“A strong CDC is needed to respond to public health threats, both domestic and international, and to help prevent the next inevitable pandemic,” it said. “Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”

The Lancet criticised the Trump administration’s “chipping away” at the CDC's capacity to combat infectious diseases.

“CDC staff in China were cut back with the last remaining CDC officer recalled home from the China CDC in July, 2019, leaving an intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge,” it said.

The US has the highest number of Covid-19 cases as well as the highest number of deaths of any country in the world.

New York has been hardest hit, but new outbreaks are emerging in places such as Minnesota and Iowa, which The Lancet says begs questions about what it calls the Trump administration's "inconsistent and incoherent national response" to the crisis.

"The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets — vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear," the journal states. "But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency."

 * A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant
** I've always preferred women.

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