Friday, April 3, 2020

Ginormous Posting on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Related Matters Interspersed With Multiple Pics Taken On a Lovely Early April Day in Semi-Deserted Washington, D.C. -OR- Springtime '20 Reflected Reflections From a Traumatic Time

A graceful elm tree near the Lincoln Memorial with a view of West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., on a cool, breezy, tender green early spring day,
2:29 p.m., April 2, 2020

This is the entry I tried to complete last night but it just got too complex and involved. I'm posting it Friday early evening -- but keeping all the COVID-19 numbers from yesterday.

One of the two biggest fountains of the World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C., 2:43 p.m., April 2, 2020

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The outdoor pictures in this entry are from the ones I took yesterday (Thursday, April 2nd) on an absolutely delightful early spring day -- sunny, fair weather cumulus clouds, a gusty northwesterly breeze, temps around 60F, and spring electric greenery and floral profusions including the flowering trees.

These pictures are, strictly speaking, topically not-related to the entry, but in the loveliness of early springtime that they capture here in the semi-deserted Washington, D.C., they serve, I hope, as a counterpoint to an extraordinary and extraordinarily difficult time.

The beautiful kanzan (or "kwanzan") cherry tree blossoms are now flowering -- such as this one at O and 22nd Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 1:29 p.m., April 2, 2020

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On Thursday, I walked from my apartment down to the sparkling Potomac River by the Watergate Complex and then along the river to the Lincoln Memorial. At that point, because Ohio Drive is blocked off even to pedestrians (part of the closure of the Tidal Basin area to avoid Yoshino cherry blossom-viewing crowds, although the Yoshino petals are now off the trees).

A tree beside the base of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Washington, D.C., 2:14 p.m., April 2, 2020

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I then walked down the Mall -- the Reflecting Pool is being slowly filled -- and over to L'Enfant Plaza and my office. In all, I walked at least four miles. (I took the Metro to Farragut West tonight and walked the mile or so home.) This is in addition to my five-to-six mile round trip walk yesterday and 3 to 5 mile walks in recent days.

Empty Parkway Drive along the Potomac River (at Peters Point) between the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., 2:16 p.m., April 2, 2020

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About the closures, all the roads around the Monumental core of D.C. (with the exception of the big of thoroughfare 14th Street) are currently blocked off to vehicular traffic, and in some cases, the sidewalks are blocked to pedestrian traffic.

Empty Ohio Drive at the base of the Watergate Steps, Washington, D.C., 2:22 p.m., April 2, 2020

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For those areas just blocked off to vehicles, it is has created the rare and remarkable situation of a car/bus/truck free National Mall area of D.C. -- and this weirdly tourist-free springtime, you can walk as you please even in the roadways.

Sparkling sunshine off the Potomac River by the base of the Arlington Memorial Bridge, Washington, D.C.,
2:25 p.m., April 2, 2020

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These blockades are being implemented and maintained by the U.S. Park Police.

A word about the United States Park Police: Unlike D.C.'s MPD, they have precious little to do most of the time except serve as direction-givers to either obese American or clueless foreign tourists. What's more, Unlike the Secret Service, they aren't actually engaged in very specific set of activities.

Nevertheless, Park Police officers (especially the men) tend to be all jacked up and weaponized (and known to use them when not necessary). In general -- and, NO, not all of them -- they are highly aggressively reactive to infractions and situations way out of proportion to what is required. (You'd think they were all from the NOPD.)

Brilliant sunlight in a fair weather cumulus cloud-fleeced sky above the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., 2:51 p.m., April 2, 2020

Just fyi, for those of you who think the Sun is orange, does that look orange to you??

Our star is WHITE -- although the midday Sun appears off-white yellowish due to Rayleigh Scattering out of the blue and violet -- the former of which goes into making the blue of the sky. (Our eyes are not sensitive to the violet part.) The Sun only appears orange when it's on the horizon due to the much thicker optical depth of the atmosphere that scatters out other colors leaving only orange and red.

As for the pics in this entry that I took, I'm only captioning a some of them. For those I don't, if you are interested in any of them, most just click on / download them for place and time information.

OK, enough of that. Let's get on with this entry …

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This entry is coming to at night on the first Thursday in April the Great Coronavirus Pandemic and Economic Depression of 2020. As for me, I'm home in my little apartment watching my late night comfort TV on MeTV, Cozi TV, and Antenna TV.


There is much I want to post, but on the other hand, I don't want to have endless entries about the pathologies of Donald Trump and how he's exacerbating the situation -- even while his cult is enthralled to him via the perversions of the omni-influential rightwing media / entertainment complex.

On the other side of the annoying American political spectrum, I'd also like to discuss (though not in this entry) how this situation has, mercifully, pushed the politically correct thought police and the WOKE off to the side in the Democratic Party.


The trouble is, it takes forever to write these entries, and, in the end, I feel as though I haven't achieved anything -- precisely because I haven't, to wit, Trump is still president, the GOP is still a cult, COVID-19 is still rampant .. not to mention the human species is still ruining the planet's biosphere even in this flash global depression. 


Having said that, I have the proverbial ton of pictures -- about 85 -- that I took since this past weekend, not to mention others from last week that I've yet to evaluate for posting, on my now-daily extensive walks between my apartment, Georgetown, the National Mall, and L'Enfant Plaza … walks that in the past week have totaled somewhere between 25 and 30 miles.

Crabapple tree in full flower, Washington Circle, Washington, D.C., 1:45 p.m., April 2, 2020

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Indeed, I definitely can feel in my legs the results of all that walking, so although I haven't been able to do my gym twice-or-thrice weekly treadmill jogs -- so say nothing of weightlifting or a swim -- at the very least I have gotten "out and about."

Another white flower crabapple tree near the Watergate Complex, Washington, D.C., 1:52 p.m., April 2, 2020

There is also a pink flower variety.

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I am concerned that there is going to be some mask-wearing quasi-requirement, even a "homemade" one, never mid the N95 ones, and I'm just not going to do that, certainly not willingly. As it is, I'm alone nearly all the time -- and certainly properly socially distanced while in grocery stores.

About the SARS-CoV-2 global outbreak and resulting COVID-19 pandemic, there were another approximately 1,000 fatalities in the U.S. today (April 2nd), although a bit lower than yesterday's ~1,070 (again, I'm using the numbers from the Worldometers.info site and the cut-off time is 0 UTC).

The total number of cases in the U.S. is nearing 250,000 with 6,000+ deaths and 10,400 recoveries.

COVID-19 daily new cases in the U.S., Feb 15 - April 2, 2020 (00 UTC cut-off time)

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COVID-19 daily fatalities in the U.S., Feb 15 - April 2, 2020 (00 UTC cut-off time)

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New York State -- which really means the New York City area -- and parts of New Jersey continue to be the worst spot with the former nearing 100,000 cases and 2,500+ deaths and the latter over 25,000 cases and almost 540 deaths.

COVID-19 stats table ranked by number of cases, top 20 U.S. states for 24 hour period ending 00 UTC April 2, 2020

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However, other parts of the United States are also being badly impacted with worsening conditions to include states such as Florida and Georgia, where the Trump ass-licking governors, Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp, waited to get permission from Trump to take the situation seriously.


Chris Cilizza, who I normally dislike for his nihilistic ping-pong game approach to American domestic politics, had this useful piece (link embedded): How 2 Trump-loving governors are struggling amid the coronavirus crisis.


Excerpt:

It's not an exaggeration then to say that Kemp and DeSantis owe their political careers -- or at least their governorships -- to Trump. Which means they aren't going to so much as cross the street without checking in with him first. And they certainly aren't going to break with the President on an issue freighted with as much import as the national response to coronavirus.


Excerpt continued:

Depending on a president -- any president -- as the sole arbiter of the right thing to do in a situation as fluid and dangerous as the fight against coronavirus is a mistake. Depending on this President, with his long record of exaggerations and misstatements -- on coronavirus and, well, everything else too -- as your primary source of information on the best way to battle this virus is deeply dangerous. And borderline incompetent.

I would correct "long record of exaggerations and misstatements" to "life-long record of pathological lies and malignant narcissism."

No idea …

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Indeed, Trump is still trying to run the Federal response like a protection racket based upon perceived loyalty to him by the Red or Blue State governors. In that way, it's ethically and operationally very similar to the Ukraine shakedown that got him impeached.


As for the political situation in Florida, there are bitter recriminations between two prominent Repubs - current Gov. DeSantis, a pathetic worm, and Sen. Rick "Batboy" Scott. This is over accusations by the people around the former that the latter so intentionally f'd up the state's unemployment system that the current Great Depression-levels of unemployment is simply unable to handle even processing the cases, much less distributing financial relief.


Here is the POLITICO article (link embedded): 'It's a sh-- sandwich': Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump. Below are excerpted a few paragraphs of the article.

The shimmering Potomac River, Washington, D.C., looking across to Arlington, Va., 2:25 p.m., April 2, 2020

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Excerpt:

Already anxious about Trump’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state, Republicans now are dealing with thousands of unemployed workers unable to navigate the Florida system to apply for help. And the blowback is directed straight at Trump’s top allies in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.

Looking up at one of the equestrian statues at the entrance to the Arlington Memorial Bridge, Washington, D.C.,
2:26 p.m., April 2, 2020

This is "Valor," one of the two equestrian statues, the other being "Sacrifice," that comprise "The Arts of War" equestrian statues that frame the D.C. side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. "The Arts of Peace" -- consisting of "Music and Harvest" and "Aspiration and Literature" are nearby framing the start of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway.

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Excerpt continued:

Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.


"It's a sh-- sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott," said one DeSantis advisor. "It wasn't about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about."

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OK, the next four images and their captions for a sort of Reflecting Pool coterminous or parallel detour (is that even a concept?) within the entry ...  

Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., 2:34 p.m., April 2, 2020

Of note, the Reflecting Pool was in the process of (slowly) filling up when I walked along it on Thursday.

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Continued excerpt - 2:

Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters was more succinct: "$77 million? Someone should go to jail over that."

With hundreds of thousands of Floridians out of work, the state’s overwhelmed system is making it nearly impossible for many people to even get in line for benefits.

View of the Reflecting Pool looking toward the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., 2:34 p.m.,
April 2, 2020

Within it, as the picture directly above shows, only a narrow bit near the lengthwise edges are still dry. So, it looks like I was wrong in this entry that it was merely recent rainwater that was filling up the Reflecting Pool.

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This is what happens when you put today's cultic GOP with its malevolent combination of Socially Darwinist inverted Marxist libertarianism and quasi-fascistic fundamentalism in charge at any time -- but which explodes in a really bad way in a situation such as a health pandemic and resulting economic depression that DEMAND a sensible, socially democratic response.

The partially-filled Reflecting Pool and some of the English elm trees on the north side of it, Washington, D.C.,
2:35 p.m., April 2, 2020

The large, very old tree on the other side of the Reflecting Pool in this image is one of the originals planted in 1915 - 1916 (apparently, brought over from a place called Dickson's Nursery in Chester, England, so the trees were already at least 10 years old at the time, see here).

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This is a topic to which I want to devote a standalone entry -- using my launching point the ethical perversions of the neoconservative movement's "party legal theoretician," Richard Epstein. But it runs from the perverted intellectual top of the GOP cult down through the vast media / entertainment agitprop machine (including, of course, Fox News) and into the cesspools of Breitbart, Info Wars, and racist / fascist paramilitary (or would-be paramilitary) set.

Water bubbling up through a pipe into the Reflecting Pool -- filling it up after a lengthy period of being empty -- Washington, D.C., 2:36 p.m., April 2, 2020

That aside, I'm still amazed at how clean is the water in the Reflecting Pool. Over the years, it has mostly been a primordial ooze resembling something in a Devonian coastal margin tidal pool.

End of Reflecting Pool detour.

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Back to our unscheduled pandemic …

Globally, the number of known cases just clicked over the 1-million mark with 53,200 deaths and ~213,000 recoveries.

Keep in mind that the number of known cases is almost certainly just a small fraction of the actual number of cases both globally and here in the United States.

Here in the U.S., an average of expert epidemiologist estimates from last week are that the number of known coronavirus cases reflects only 9 percent of the total actual cases.

COVID-19 stats table ranked by number of cases, top 20 countries for 24 hour period ending 00 UTC April 2, 2020

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This low fraction of known-to-actual cases is due to all the troubles and delays with the diagnostic testing so that, save for celebrities and major political figures, only really symptomatic (i.e., sick) people are getting tested.


On a related note, it is also because a significant fraction of infected people are only mildly symptomatic or outright asymptomatic -- and are not being tested (due to the first reason). This is why the top-line SARS-CoV-2 positive ("coronavirus infected") number is problematic.


The IHME Covid-19 modeling projection project is still forecasting a peak case load around mid-April at 2,600+ deaths per day and a total number of fatalities of 95,300 with a significant uncertainty range and with commensurate shortages of hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators -- along with wide variability in which state reaches peak on which day.

American flag and USDA agency flag outside USDA HQ, Washington, D.C., 2:56 p.m., April 2, 2020

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Keep in mind that this model's numbers can and will change. It also assumes that the extreme social distancing and effective shutdown of American society and the economy will continue until the pandemic itself has been successfully squashed through these means. Honestly, this probably requires another two months at minimum, more likely three months, and possibly four months.

New York Time online headline, April 2, 2020

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About our economic situation, the initial unemployment claims number for this past week was 6.65 million -- double last week's (slightly revised) previous record of 3.31 million and an entire order of magnitude above the previous highest weekly initial claims number ever of 695,000 in December 1982.

This strongly suggests that the 3.5 percent U-3 unemployment rate of February 2020 is likely to spike into the Great Depression-rivaling / surpassing 25 to 30 percent range by the April report. That's 10 million people out of work -- furloughed or laid off -- in the space of two weeks with instant economic depression.

Chart of weekly initial unemployment claims via Vox.

This image shows the chart back to 1967 when such record-keeping began whereas the New York Times chart shows it back to 2000.

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Here is an in depth article from the Atlantic from last week: How the Pandemic Will End. And here is a POLITICO article to which I would also like to dedicate a stand-alone entry: When Can America Reopen From Its Coronavirus Shutdown?

And with that, I will sign off for now. My next planned entry will be tomorrow night.

--Regulus

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