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The Surging Coronavirus Finds a Federal Leadership Vacuum

first_imgDr. Shikha Gupta, the executive director of Get Us PPE, a volunteer effort that matches available supplies to health care providers, said 70 percent of those requesting help from the organization last month reported being completely out of one type of critical gear. Masks, gloves and disinfecting wipes topped the list.“Health care workers are exhausted and frustrated, and it’s really hard to believe that on Nov. 10, it feels very much like the middle of March all over again,” she said. “We’re hitting the highest numbers of caseload that we’ve ever seen, and we’re running into the same problems that we’ve been having since Day 1.”Governors are once again competing with one another and big hospital chains for scarce gear. Nursing homes are grappling with staff shortages, which have left hospitals unable to discharge patients to their care. In Wisconsin, the situation is so severe that health officials are mulling a plan to train family members of nursing home residents to fill in at facilities that lack enough workers.- Advertisement – “We’re throwing every idea that we can conceivably think of to the state, but we really need bold action from the federal government,” said John Sauer, the president of LeadingAge Wisconsin, an association that represents nonprofit nursing homes and long-term care facilities. “We can’t muddle through this on our own.” But as the country enters what may be the most intense stage of the pandemic yet, the Trump administration remains largely disengaged. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is trying to assume a leadership mantle, with the appointment of a coronavirus advisory board and a call for all Americans to wear masks, but until his inauguration on Jan. 20, he lacks the authority to mobilize a federal response.“With 1,000 deaths per day, it’s like two jumbo jets dropping from the sky,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University who is close to Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. “If every day, two jumbo jets would drop from the sky and kill everybody, don’t you think that everybody would be in a panic? But somehow, we’re not doing that. Somehow, as a nation we’re not outraged.”“We need a Churchill,” he added. “We need somebody to step into the vacuum and lead the nation.”Instead, Mr. Trump is at war with his own health officials. He was furious after the drug maker Pfizer announced Monday that early clinical trial data suggested its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. In a conversation with Dr. Hahn, a senior administration official said, the president accused the company and the F.D.A. of conspiring to delay news that could have bolstered his chances of re-election.Aides said the president believed that Pfizer could have announced the success of its clinical trial before Nov. 3 but deliberately chose to hold up the news, possibly not to taint the company’s vaccine as a last-minute effort to save Mr. Trump’s re-election bid. White House aides were particularly incensed that Mr. Biden publicly said his public health advisers knew of Pfizer’s results on Sunday, before aides said the news had reached the White House.Beyond Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed, the federal bully pulpit — an essential component of an effective infectious disease response — has largely gone silent. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview on Tuesday that the vaccine would be “a game changer” over time. The pandemic caught the nation flat-footed in March, but epidemiologists have been warning for months of a fall and winter wave as people are driven indoors, schools resume in-person classes and Americans grow tired of months of precautions. Yet shortages of personal protective equipment are back, especially among rural hospitals, nursing homes and private medical practices that lack access to the supply networks that serve larger hospital chains.- Advertisement – He questioned Dr. Hahn’s timeline for an emergency authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine.The president’s allies suspected that Pfizer could have obtained results from its trial earlier, but chose not to. Pfizer had in fact initially planned to request seeing the results from an independent safety monitoring board once 32 of its clinical trial participants who had received either the vaccine or a placebo had come down with Covid-19. That would have been the company’s first barometer of its effectiveness.But weeks ago, Pfizer officials said, F.D.A. regulators had advised that they would be unlikely to issue an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine based on just 32 cases in a trial with nearly 44,000 people.Pfizer decided to wait for more cases. By last weekend, 94 subjects had tested positive for Covid-19, a sample seemingly more than sufficient to satisfy the F.D.A. The company said an early analysis showed the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective.Pfizer has said it expects to apply for emergency use authorization by late November, and experts expect the F.D.A. to decide as early as mid-December. But Pfizer has said it has manufactured only a few million doses, and experts are hoping the government can step in to help speed up manufacturing. A second vaccine maker, Moderna, could soon seek F.D.A.’s review of its clinical trial results. The United States is on somewhat better footing now than in the earliest days of the pandemic. States and hospitals have their own stockpiles, and Admiral Polowczyk said the federal government had met its goal of acquiring 153,000 ventilators. Dr. del Rio said federal health officials such as the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, or Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, must begin convening daily news conferences to provide public health guidance.In the absence of leadership, local officials feel as if they are struggling alone. New weekly cases among nursing home residents jumped fourfold from the end of May to late October, and deaths have more than doubled in 20 states, according to R. Tamara Konetzka and Rebecca J. Gorges, researchers at the University of Chicago who analyzed data from the C.D.C.“The depressing message is that nothing much has changed since the spring,” Professor Konetzka said.Even many large hospital chains, which say they have adequate supplies of medical gear, continue to operate in crisis mode. That often means requiring employees to repeatedly reuse respirator masks that are meant to be discarded after each use.Deborah Burger, a president of National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses, said the lack of clear guidance from the C.D.C. had allowed hospitals to create their own standards for reusing disposable protective gear, which she said put hospital workers and patients at increased risk of infection.“We’re 11 months into the pandemic, and the administration is still not adequately addressing the safety of health care workers and the safety of our communities,” she said. “I’ve been a nurse for over 45 years, and I have never seen anything like this. It’s like we’re in ‘The Twilight Zone.’”The White House has fixated on Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s crash vaccine and therapy development program, while its coronavirus task force has whittled down to rote weekly gatherings in the Situation Room. But far from celebrating the Pfizer news on Monday, the administration initiated a round of recriminations. But a vaccine is not an immediate panacea, and until doses become widely available — likely in mid-2021 — the nation is in a “difficult situation,” he said, that calls for Americans to wear masks and social distance, and to avoid crowded settings, particularly indoors.“My message to the American public is: Hang on, help is coming, a vaccine is on its way, we need to all pull together,” Dr. Fauci said.Washington’s leadership void is raising anxiety in the states.“We’re facing a dire situation as we head into the fall and winter,” said Casey Katims, the federal liaison for Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State.In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, canceled his customary Tuesday afternoon virus news conference and instead planned to deliver a statewide address early Wednesday evening as local officials reported a daily caseload of more than 6,500 — nearly 1,000 more than the record set on Saturday.In North Dakota, Gov. Doug Burgum said this week that the state’s hospitals were full and that even health workers who test positive for the virus but do not display symptoms would be allowed to work in wards dedicated to coronavirus patients.center_img WASHINGTON — When senior Food and Drug Administration officials held their morning call on Tuesday, they received a sobering warning from the agency’s chief, Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, who had just gotten off the phone with the White House: Block out “all the craziness” afoot and stay focused on fighting the pandemic, he said.There is plenty of craziness. President Trump is pushing to overturn the results of the election and his only public statements about the coronavirus in the last few days were to make clear his pique that good news about a vaccine had not come until after Election Day — even as the average number of new daily infections topped 116,000, average daily deaths neared 1,000, and Covid-19 hospitalizations hit a record high of 61,964 on Tuesday.- Advertisement – In a Twitter message on Monday, Mr. Trump said that Pfizer deliberately postponed announcing its good news, and that the F.D.A. had supported that delay.In a meeting of the coronavirus task force on Monday afternoon, Mr. Azar confronted Dr. Hahn about the Pfizer announcement and said the F.D.A.’s coordination with Pfizer and its exhaustive vaccine guidelines had delayed the news of the breakthrough, according to senior administration officials who witnessed the exchange. On Monday, the F.D.A. granted emergency authorization to Eli Lilly for an antibody treatment similar to a therapy given to Mr. Trump shortly after he contracted the coronavirus. The company has a limited number of doses and the treatment is only authorized for newly infected patients who have not been hospitalized.Some in the agency took Dr. Hahn’s Tuesday warning to his senior staff members about “craziness” afoot as a sign that the president might fire him. Others said the commissioner was merely acknowledging the obvious: The postelection period will be rocky.Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland reported from Washington, and Andrew Jacobs from New York. Reporting was contributed by Maggie Haberman and Jo Becker from New York, Katie Thomas from Chicago, and Sheila Kaplan from San Francisco. “Leadership does matter,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan who helped shape federal social distancing policy during the George W. Bush administration. “What your leaders do, like flaunting the mask or having parties without masks, almost encourages people to do the same.” Vice President Mike Pence canceled a vacation at the last minute this week as the virus numbers grew worse, but the White House coronavirus task force that he leads has been all but publicly silent. Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff who is infected with the virus, declared last month, “We are not going to control the pandemic,” and said the focus should instead be on the longer-term goals of developing vaccines and treatments.Meantime, the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s emergency reserve, has only 115 million N95 masks, far short of the 300 million the administration had hoped to amass by winter, Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who retired on Monday as the national supply chain commander, said in a recent interview, though he added that the government is continuing to expand its supplies of protective gear. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Chargers MHC Golf Results

first_imgMHC Tourney @ North Branch par 71.Team results: Southwestern Shelbyville 375; North Decatur 377; Hauser 413; Morristown 427; Edinburgh 451; South Decatur 469.Medalist: Bladen Hancock Edinburgh.North Decatur Collin Bryant: All-conference .North team scores: Collin Bryant 88; Trey Nobbe 94; Brendan Spears 95; Brady Espinda 100; Cejay Parmer 101.Comments: ‘There’s many ways we could go back and find 3 strokes from any of our five players and win but the bottom line is swest shelby was better than us today. Two key places they beat us was they had more para and fewer double bogeys or worse than us. We knew going in we would it be a close contest we just came up short. I’m proud of our players and also of Collin who made all-conference honors as a freshman. We will now get ready foe sectionals.’  Chargers Coach David Espinda.last_img read more

TENNIS : Jensen’s speech motivates Syracuse, sparks team to victory

first_img Comments Published on January 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm Luke Jensen knew his team needed motivating. On a red-eye flight back from Maryland — after being swept 7-0 by the Terrapins on Saturday afternoon — the team morale had to be improved.Until 2 a.m., Jensen, the Syracuse tennis coach, used the plane trip home as an opportunity to talk to the players both individually and collectively. With just nine hours to prepare, he wanted his players to understand the significance of Sunday’s game against Georgetown.‘One of the things I told my players this morning was that it’s not about how many wins you get,’ Jensen said. ‘It’s how many times you get off the mat. You just got smoked, you just got embarrassed, so what are you going to do about it?’Jensen’s words proved inspirational, and a day after being trounced by Maryland, the Orange (2-1, 1-0 Big East) defeated the Hoyas (0-2, 0-1) 5-2 in its Big East opener at Drumlins Tennis Center on Sunday. The game was the third match of the weekend for Syracuse. And Jensen’s pep talk kept the team from having a losing record after just one week of play after SU defeated Navy 6-1 on Friday.Georgetown jumped out to an early lead, grabbing the doubles portion of play.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe No. 1 doubles pair of junior Emily Harman and freshman Maddie Kobelt failed to convert on match point leading to an 8-7 tiebreaker loss. Sophomore Alessondra Parra and junior Simone Kalhorn lost 8-6 in the No. 2 doubles position, but the pairing of freshmen Aleah Marrow and Eva Raszkiewicz won 8-3 in No. 3 doubles.Doubles play was an area Jensen felt played a pivotal role in SU’s loss to the Terrapins on Saturday, so the first stanza may have caused Jensen to worry that Sunday would be a repeat performance.‘We had that doubles point won yesterday, and Maryland took momentum, and they bageled us,’ Jensen said. ‘In this case we had match point, all we had to do was play solid fundamental tennis, and our reactions were slow.’Another brief intermission between doubles and singles matches enabled Jensen to motivate his players. He asked who was going to come up big for the team in the crucial moments.‘Our attitude was that we were going to go out and win every single match in singles play,’ Kalhorn said. ‘We don’t like losing doubles points, we practice playing doubles a ton, so I think that fired us up more to kick butt in singles.’In the end, the entire Syracuse team took the message to heart, and SU would drop only four sets out of 14 en route to the victory.With the Orange holding a 3-2 overall lead, Kobelt and Marrow were the final two players on the court for SU. Each notched victories in the third sets of their contests to put the match out of reach.Marrow put more emphasis on footwork and attitude after falling in her first set 4-6. She used a powerful serve to overcome the early deficit and cruise through the final two sets, 6-3, 6-0, in No. 4 singles.‘It feels good,’ Marrow said. ‘Especially after the loss yesterday — nobody won a match yesterday — and to come out here with a little bit of pressure on us to do well against our rival, it felt really good to get the win.’Given the quick turnaround, Syracuse could have very well been both physically and mentally drained. But Jensen’s words of encouragement pushed his team to a win in a close contest.The young players were able to execute down the stretch, and the Orange turned another shaky start into a crucial conference victory. The deflating loss against Maryland may have been the perfect kickstart for the Orange to beat one of its biggest rivals.‘I think it was kind of like a reality check,’ Kalhorn said. ‘We just walked in there and assumed that we were the better team. We were really motivated coming here on home court to really bring it today.’adtredin@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

College football notes: Virginia Tech kicks QB Vick off team

first_img Vick, the younger brother of Atlanta Falcons quarterback and former Tech star Michael Vick, was suspended from school in 2004 for several legal problems. But the junior came under new and intense scrutiny this week after replays showed he stomped on the left calf of Louisville All-American defensive end Elvis Dumervil during the Jan. 2 bowl. No penalty was called on the play and Vick claimed its was accidental. He further hurt his cause by claiming to have apologized to Dumervil, the NCAA sacks leader, but the Louisville player said no such apology was ever offered. Going pro: Oregon first-team All-American defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and Fresno State standout cornerback Richard Marshall said they will pass on their senior seasons and enter the NFL draft. The 6-foot-5, 338-pound Ngata, the Pac-10’s co-defensive player of the year and Outland Trophy finalist, said financial concerns and his mother’s poor health led him to the decision. NFL scouts have told him he will likely be drafted in ht emiddle of the second round, at worst. Marshall, a two-time all WAC selection who led the team with 78 tackles this season, could be a second- or third-round pick, Fresno State coach Pat Hill said NFL scouts have assessed. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick was dismissed from the team Friday, the result of numerous legal transgressions as well as his unsportsmanlike conduct in the Gator Bowl. University president Charles Steger announced the dismissal on the same day that coach Frank Beamer met with Vick and his mother in their Hampton Roads home, the school said in a statement. Beamer informed them of the decision during the meeting. center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson On Friday, it was revealed that Vick had been stopped for speeding and driving with a revoked or suspended license in Hampton on Dec. 17, according to police. Vick’s license had been taken away in August 2004 when he was cited for reckless driving and marijuana possession in New Kent County. Steger suspended Vick from school at that time, and warned that any additional problems would effectively end his time as a member of the Hokies’ football team. School officials said in a statement that there would be no further comment until a news conference today. Vick said before the Hokies’ 35-24 comeback victory in the Gator Bowl that he planned to return for his senior season. He can now either declare for the NFL Draft by the Jan. 15 deadline or transfer to a Division I-AA school so he can play next season. In 24 career games, the last 13 starts, Vick was 207-for-346 for 2,868 yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also rushed 184 times for 492 yards and six TDs. last_img read more