U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at cent

U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at cent

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:04 am

U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at center of coronavirus leak scrutiny that was performing experiments on bats from the caves where the disease is believed to have originated
by Frances Mulraney and Glenn Owen
PUBLISHED: 20:49 EDT, 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 00:21 EDT, 12 April 2020



• The US National Institutes of Health, a government agency, awarded a $3.7 million research grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology
• The lab is the center of several conspiracy theories that suggest it is the original source of the coronavirus outbreak
• The institute experimented on bats from the source of the coronavirus
• They were captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan
• Sequencing of the Covid-19 genome has traced it to bats to Yunnan's caves
• The U.S. government funded research on coronavirus transmission in the lab over the past decade

The Chinese laboratory at the center of scrutiny over a potential coronavirus leak has been using U.S. government money to carry out research on bats from the caves which scientists believe are the original source of the deadly outbreak.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan which were funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government.

Sequencing of the COVID-19 genome has traced it back to bats found in Yunnan caves
but it was first thought to have transferred to humans at an animal market in Wuhan.

The revelation that the Wuhan Institute was experimenting on bats from the area already known to be the source of COVID-19 -- and doing so with American money -- has sparked further fears that the lab, and not the market, is the original outbreak source.

Lawmakers and pressure groups were quick to hit out at U.S. funding being provided for the 'dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute'.

A laboratory at the center of scrutiny over the coronavirus pandemic has been carrying out research on bats from the cave which scientists believe is the original source of the outbreak

Workers are seen next to a cage with mice inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan. It has been revealed that the lab also carried out research on bats from the source location of COVID-19

The institute is located only 20 miles from the food market where it was originally believed that the outbreak began. Experts continue to say the virus was transmitted from animal to human and was not lab engineered in China as some conspiracy theories have claimed

US Congressman Matt Gaetz said: 'I'm disgusted to learn that for years the US government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus, and research at other labs in China that have virtually no oversight from US authorities.'

On Saturday, Anthony Bellotti, president of the US pressure group White Coat Waste, condemned his government for spending tax dollars in China, adding: 'Animals infected with viruses or otherwise sickened and abused in Chinese labs reportedly may be sold to wet markets for consumption once experiments are done.'

The $37 million Wuhan Institute of Virology, the most advanced laboratory of its type on the Chinese mainland, is based twenty miles from the now infamous wildlife market that was thought to be the location of the original transfer of the virus from animals to humans.

According to documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday, scientists there experimented on bats as part of a project funded by the US National Institutes of Health, which continues to licence the Wuhan laboratory to receive American money for experiments.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), pictured, has criticized U.S. funding of research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology after it emerged that experiments were being conducted on bats from Yunnan, the location experts believe to be the original source of deadly COVID-19

Anthony Bellotti, the founder and National Campaign Manager of the White Coat Waste Project, slammed the use of US funding to perform experiments on bats in Wuhan

China clamps down on research into the origins of coronavirus as officials demand the right to vet scientific papers

China is clamping down on research into the origins of the coronavirus after officials have demanded the right to inspect its scientific papers before they are made pubic.

Two websites for leading Chinese universities have allegedly recently published and then removed pages that discuss a new policy which requires academic papers about Covid-19 to undergo extra checks before they are published, according to The Guardian.

Both Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) allegedly posted notices saying that research on the origins of the coronavirus will be subject to government checks.

The director of the SOAS China Institute in London, Professor Steve Tsang, said that the Chinese government is more concerned with 'controlling the narrative' surrounding coronavirus than public health or economic fallout.

The source who found the cached versions of the websites said they were concerned at what appeared to be a governmental coverup.

The NIH is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research.

The Wuhan Institute lists them on their website as a partner as well as several other American academic institutions.

Other U.S. partners include the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, Harvard University, and the National Wildlife Federation.

As part of the NIH research at the institute, scientists grew a coronavirus in a lab and injected it into three-day-old piglets.

The news that COVID-19 bats were under research there means that a leak from the Wuhan laboratory can no longer be completely ruled out.

According to one unverified claim, scientists at the institute could have become infected after being sprayed with blood containing the virus, and then passed it on to the local community.

A second institute in the city, the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control -– which is barely three miles from the market –- is also believed to have carried out experiments on animals such as bats to examine the transmission of coronaviruses.

The Wuhan Institute, which keeps more than 1,500 strains of deadly viruses, specializes in the research of 'the most dangerous pathogens', in particular the viruses carried by bats.

Chinese officials decided to build the institute after the country was ravaged by an outbreak of SARS in 2002 and 2003.

SARS, another kind of coronavirus, killed 775 people and infected more than 8,000 globally in an epidemic.

Bats have been linked with seven major epidemics over the past three decades

Since an outbreak of the novel coronavirus emerged in the city in December, it has been at the center of conspiracy theories which suggest that the bug originated there.

While scientists believe that the virus jumped to humans from wild animals sold as food in a market in Wuhan, conspiracy theorists promote different assumptions.

Some of them claim that the virus, formally known as SARS-CoV-2, could be a biological warfare weapon engineered there. Others suspect that it escaped from the lab.

China has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory, Wuhan Institute of Virology. The institute is at the center of several controversial conspiracy theories that claim it is to blame for the coronavirus outbreak

A worker is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China's Hubei province in February 2020. It is feared COVID-19 may have leaked from a lab sparking the outbreak

Shi Zhengli, a deputy director of the institute, told the press in February that she 'guaranteed with her own life' that the outbreak was not related to the lab.

She admits that when summoned back from a conference to investigate the new disease, she wondered at first if a coronavirus could have escaped from her unit.

She has warned about the danger of epidemics from bat-borne viruses.

But she says she did not expect such an outbreak in Wuhan, in the center of China, since her studies suggested subtropical areas in the south had the highest risk of such 'zoonotic' transmission to humans.

Shi told the respected science journal Scientific American last month of her relief when, having checked back through disposal records, none of the genome sequences matched their virus samples.

'That really took a load off my mind. I had not slept a wink for days,' she said.

Many international experts have also dismissed such theories.

Dr Keusch, Professor of Medicine and International Health at Boston University's Schools of Medicine and Public Health, stressed that no release of viruses from a high-level lab, such as the one in Wuhan, 'has ever happened'.

He defended his peers in the Chinese city as he said: 'The Wuhan lab is designed to the highest standards with redundant safety systems and the highest level of training.

'Many of its research faculty trained at a similar laboratory in Galveston, Texas. So we know the Wuhan team is as qualified as the Texas group…

'This means the assertion of a leak, rather than being highly likely, instead is highly unlikely.'

Last week, further doubt was cast on the animal market theory, however, after Cao Bin, a doctor at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, highlighted research showing that 13 of the first 41 patients diagnosed with the infection had not had any contact with the market.

Number of New U.S. Infections Per Day

Number of U.S. Deaths Per Day

How Coronavirus cases have escalated in the U.S.

American biosecurity expert Professor Richard Ebright, of Rutgers University's Waksman Institute of Microbiology, New Jersey, said that while the evidence suggests COVID-19 was not created in one of the Wuhan laboratories, it could easily have escaped from there while it was being analyzed.

Prof Ebright said he has seen evidence that scientists at the Centre for Disease Control and the Institute of Virology studied the viruses with only 'level 2' security -– rather than the recommended level 4 -– which 'provides only minimal protections against infection of lab workers'.

He added: 'Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection would pose a substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker then the public.'

He concluded that the evidence left 'a basis to rule out [that coronavirus is] a lab construct, but no basis to rule out a lab accident'.

Results of the U.S-funded research at the Wuhan Institute were published in November 2017 under the heading: 'Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus.'

The exercise was summarized as: 'Bats in a cave in Yunnan, China were captured and sampled for coronaviruses used for lab experiments.

'All sampling procedures were performed by veterinarians with approval from the Animal Ethics Committee of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

'Bat samplings were conducted ten times from April 2011 to October 2015 at different seasons in their natural habitat at a single location (cave) in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Bats were trapped and faecal swab samples were collected.'

Another study, published in April 2018, was titled 'fatal swine acute diarrhoea syndrome caused by an HKU2-related coronavirus of bat origin' and described the research as such: 'Following a 2016 bat-related coronavirus outbreak on Chinese pig farms, bats were captured in a cave and samples were taken.

Experimenters grew the virus in a lab and injected it into three-day-old piglets.

Intestinal samples from sick piglets were ground up and fed to other piglets as well.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 108,000 people and infected over 1.7 million worldwide.'

On Saturday, the American outbreak became the deadliest in the world over 2,000 deaths in a day.

The national deaths toll is 20,087 and there are 522,643 confirmed cases as of Saturday evening.

China muzzled its Bat Woman: Beijing authorities hushed up the findings of a scientist who unlocked the genetic make-up of the coronavirus within days of the outbreak –- which is vital for tests and vaccines

A Chinese scientist who is the one of the world's leading experts on coronaviruses was 'muzzled' after unraveling the genetic composition of the new disease, which is crucial for developing diagnostic tests and vaccines.

The revelation will fuel fresh concerns over China's cover-up of the pandemic after it erupted in the city of Wuhan. Critics argue that Communist Party chiefs frustrated efforts to contain the outbreak before it exploded around the world.

At the centre of the new claims is Shi Zhengli, known as China's 'Bat Woman' after years spent on difficult virus-hunting expeditions in dank caves that have led to a series of important scientific discoveries.

The virologist was called back to her highsecurity laboratory in Wuhan at the end of last year after a mysterious new respiratory condition in the city was identified as a novel coronavirus –- and within three days she completed its gene sequencing.

A virology lab like the one Shi Zhengli completed the gene sequencing of the coronavirus

Her team's work, and several other breakthroughs in subsequent days, indicated the virus was linked to horseshoe bats found more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan, a region of southern China.

Their findings showed it was similar to SARS, a respiratory disease that sparked an epidemic in 33 countries after emerging from China in 2002.

Gao Yu, a Chinese journalist freed last week after 76 days of lockdown in Wuhan, said he spoke to Shi during his incarceration and revealed: 'We learned later her institute finished gene-sequencing and related tests as early as January 2 but was muzzled.'

The Mail on Sunday has learned that on that same day, Yanyi Wang, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, sent an email to staff and key officials ordering them not to disclose information on the disease.

She warned, according to a leak on social media confirmed by activists and Hong Kong media, that 'inappropriate and inaccurate information' was causing 'general panic' –- thought to refer to eight whistle-blowing doctors whose warnings to local citizens had led to their arrest.

Wang said the National Health Commission 'unequivocally requires that any tests, clinical data, test results, conclusions related to the epidemic shall not be posted on social media platforms, nor shall [it] be disclosed to any media outlets including government official media, nor shall [it] be disclosed to partner institutions.'

Eight days later, a team led by a professor in Shanghai who received samples from an infected patient, published a genome sequence on an open access platform.

His laboratory was closed for 'rectification' two days later.

Shi Zhengli is known as China's 'Bat Woman' after years spent on difficult virus-hunting expeditions in dank caves that have led to a series of important scientific discoveries

At the time, the public was being told that no new cases had been reported in Wuhan for more than a week and there was no clear evidence of human transmission, although dozens of health workers were starting to fall ill with the disease.

In an online lecture last month, Shi Zhengli said her team found on January 14 that the new virus could infect people -– six days before this fact was revealed by China.

On the same day, the World Health Organisation issued a tweet backing China's denials of human transmissions.

Shi's team released its data identifying the disease on January 23 on a scientific portal before publication the next month by the journal Nature.

It said the genomic sequence was 96 per cent identical to another virus they found in horseshoe bats in Yunnan.

Shi is a specialist in emerging diseases and has earned global acclaim for work investigating links between bats and coronaviruses, aided by expeditions to collect samples and swabs in the fetid cave networks of southern China.

She was a key part of the team that traced SARS to horseshoe bats through civets, a cat-like creature often eaten in China.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:41 am

Coronavirus at meatpacking plants worse than first thought, USA TODAY investigation finds: Coronavirus closed Smithfield and JBS meatpacking plants. Many more are at risk. Operators may have to choose between worker health or meat in stores.
by Kyle Bagenstose, Sky Chadde and Matt Wynn
Updated 12:13 p.m. MST Apr. 22, 2020



Tyson Foods installed plastic barriers between worker stations at its meat and poultry plants to protect against transmission of the coronavirus.

A rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meatpacking plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought, according to an exclusive review of cases by USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

And it could get worse. More than 150 of America’s largest meat processing plants operate in counties where the rate of coronavirus infection is already among the nation’s highest, based on the media outlets’ analysis of slaughterhouse locations and county-level COVID-19 infection rates.

These facilities represent more than 1 in 3 of the nation’s biggest beef, pork and poultry processing plants. Rates of infection around these plants are higher than those of 75% of other U.S. counties, the analysis found.

And while experts say the industry has thus far maintained sufficient production despite infections in at least 2,200 workers at 48 plants, there are fears that the number of cases could continue to rise and that meatpacking plants will become the next disaster zones.

"Initially our concern was long-term care facilities," said Gary Anthone, Nebraska's chief medical officer, in a Facebook Live video Sunday. “If there's one thing that might keep me up at night, it's the meat processing plants and the manufacturing plants."

Meat packing and COVID-19: The map shows large meat packing plants in U.S. counties with a COVID-19 infection rate greater than 104 per 100,000 residents -- a higher rate than 75% of U.S. counties. Source: USDA; John Hopkins University; WHO; CDC; USA TODAY Analysis

As companies scramble to contain the outbreaks by closing more than a dozen U.S. plants so far –- including a Smithfield pork plant in South Dakota that handles 5% of U.S. pork production -– the crisis has raised the specter of mass meat shortages.

But experts say there's little risk of a dwindling protein supply because, given the choice between worker safety and keeping meat on grocery shelves, the nation’s slaughterhouses will choose to produce food.

“If this goes on for a long time, there is a reality of a shortage,” said Joshua Specht, an assistant professor of history at the University of Notre Dame who studies the meat industry. “The politics of this could play out that they reopen at enormous risks to workers, rather than face an actual shortage … I wouldn’t bet against that.”

The meatpacking industry already has been notorious for poor working conditions even before the coronavirus pandemic. Meat and poultry employees have among the highest illness rates of all manufacturing employees and are less likely to report injuries and illness than any other type of worker, federal watchdog reports have found.

And the plants have been called out numerous times for refusing to let their employees use the bathroom, even to wash their hands -– one of the biggest ways to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Amplifying the danger is that, in many places, meat processing companies are largely on their own to ensure an outbreak doesn’t spread across their factory floors.

Factory workers, unions, and even managers say the federal government -– including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration -– has done little more than issue non-enforceable guidance. On its website, for example, the CDC has released safety guidelines for critical workers and businesses, which primarily promote common-sense measures of sanitization and personal distancing.

State health departments have also taken a backseat role in all but a few places.

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday would require OSHA to issue enforceable safety standards to protect workers from COVID-19. A day earlier, 32 Democratic and two independent U.S. senators sent their concerns in a letter to the Trump administration asking what was being done to protect food workers and the supply chain.

“Breakdowns in the food supply chain could have significant economic impacts for both consumers and agricultural producers,” the letter read. “It is also imperative that precautions are taken to ensure the stability and safety of our food supply.”

But rather than increase safety and oversight, the U.S. Department of Agriculture relaxed it in the midst of the pandemic. Just this month, the agency allowed 15 poultry plants to exceed federal limits on how many birds workers can process in a minute.

Close quarters in meat packing plants. Workers can stand too close together in certain areas of a meat packing facilities, enabling the spread of coronavirus. This is a look inside a chicken processing plant, but the process is similar no matter what type of meat is being processed. SOURCE USA TODAY research; Al Mahamud Ibne Jamal, student at Chittagong Veterinary & Animal Sciences University. Karl Gelles/USA TODAY

That’s more than in any previous month in the waiver program’s history. Several worker protection agencies have found that increasing line speeds causes more injuries.

And it could lead to more infections, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said in a statement:
“These waivers guarantee that workers are more crowded along a meatpacking line and more workers are put at risk of either catching or spreading the virus.”

Most of the plants that received waivers are owned by Tyson Foods and Wayne Farms, according to a department record. One of them –- a Wayne Farms facility in Albertville, Alabama –- disclosed this week that 75 of its workers tested positive and one died. The plant will slow production to improve safety, it told AL.com.

“This is so dangerous for workers and the public," Debbie Berkowitz, who spent six years as chief of staff and senior policy adviser at OSHA and is now director of the National Employment Law Project’s worker health and safety program.

Berkowitz said she has never seen anything like the recent flurry of approvals. "They did this behind closed doors with no input by the public and with no consideration to the impact on food or workers' safety.”

A spokesperson with the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the USDA agency that grants the waivers, said the agency has stopped accepting additional waiver requests.

Companies say they are taking steps to keep workers safe from outbreaks as they continue to feed the nation.

After the coronavirus sickened nearly 200 workers and killed two at a Tyson plant in Iowa, the company responded by making sweeping safety improvements at all its facilities, said Worth Sparkman, a company spokesperson.

Tyson installed plastic barriers between workers on the lines, allowed more time between shifts and removed chairs in break rooms to keep workers at a safe distance, Sparkman said.

“At all locations we’re working to educate our team members and reinforce the importance of social distancing, wearing protective facial coverings and frequent hand washing outside of work as well,” he said. “This is especially important in locations where there is community spread occurring.”

Tyson reopened that Iowa plant on Tuesday after having closed it April 6 to contain the outbreak.

But meat processing workers elsewhere remain fearful for their safety.

A 50-year-old employee named John at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls plant told USA TODAY that there’s no way to stay 6 feet from co-workers on the production line, in the cafeteria or in the locker room. The employee asked to use only his first name for fear that speaking out would cost him his job.

As people around him at the plant became infected with COVID-19, John said, he started feeling sick and went to get his temperature checked, thinking he needed to leave. But he was stopped, he said.

“They told me I was OK and I needed to work,” said John, who has worked at the plant for a decade. “I said nope, and I came home.”

In early April, he learned he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Those people don’t care about us,” John said. “If you die, they’ll just replace you tomorrow.”

Plants close, production plummets

By the time it closed its doors on April 12, Smithfield’s Sioux Falls plant had more than 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In the days since then, the case count has swelled to nearly 900, including workers and those they’ve interacted with, making it the biggest single cluster of COVID-19 infections in the nation.

A car sports a sign calling for a safe and healthy workplace outside of Smithfield Foods, Inc. in Sioux Falls on April 9. The plant reopened this week after being closed during a coronavirus outbreak among workers. ERIN BORMETT, THE ARGUS LEADER

CDC employees are touring the plant to develop a reopening plan expected to be released this week.

But it’s not just Smithfield. As of Tuesday night, coronavirus infections had spread in at least 48 U.S. meatpacking plants, sickening more than 2,200 people and killing 17, USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found. The outbreaks also have prompted the closure of at least 17 facilities, including that of the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota, on Monday.

The Worthington JBS is among the 153 meat processing plants that USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting identified as operating in counties with a high rate of coronavirus infection
. Any rate above one infection per 1,000 people puts a county in the top 25% of U.S. counties reporting COVID-19 infection rates.

Other plants on the list include the Tyson pork-processing facility in Columbus Junction, Iowa, where 186 workers fell ill and two died after COVID-19 swept through the factory.

The Tyson plant is located in Louisa County, where 19 out of every 1,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It’s the highest rate of any county with a large meat processor.

Tyson also has a poultry processing facility in Mitchell County, Georgia, where at least four workers have tested positive for coronavirus. The facility remains open, despite more than 9 out of every 1,000 county residents testing positive for COVID-19.

A JBS facility in Grand Island, Nebraska also remains open even after 237 workers tested positive there. The plant is located in Hall County, where 7.5 of every 1,000 people has tested positive.

National meat production is already hurting. Industry analysts say the factory closures cause choke points, with livestock backing up on farms and consumers struggling to find some products. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show weekly beef production plummeting from late March onward, now down 19% from the same time a year ago.

While about 2.5 billion pounds of red meat and poultry products are typically warehoused in commercial freezers at any one time as they move along the supply chain, it’s not enough to prevent a shortage, said Don Close, a senior animal protein analyst at Rabo AgriFinance. The freezers typically only hold about one week’s supply of meat, USDA statistics show.

Despite this, experts say the meat industry has enough flexibility and redundancy to avoid mass shortages.

“At this point I think it’s a fairly remote possibility,” said Altin Kalo, senior economist at the Steiner Consulting Group. “But we’re living through times that there are things that are happening that I never thought we would see. We have oil that trades at a negative.”

Higher illness rates, worse protection

If the industry can avoid a mass shortage, workers say it will be at their expense.

Jean Hakizimana, 34, was employed as a cleaner at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls plant and recently tested positive for COVID-19. His wife, who doesn’t work at the plant, also tested positive.

As the outbreak spread, he said, he didn’t feel safe in the plant. He wasn’t provided with a mask, he said, but one wouldn’t have helped anyway because the heavy spraying of water would have just soaked it.

“You can’t do the job with the mask,” he said. “You have to take it off to keep working.”

Hakizimana also said social distancing in a meat processing plant, where workers stand about a foot apart, is impossible.

“There was no way to keep 6 feet apart,” he said, “because the belt is so fast.”

Workers stand close together on a poultry processing line as shown in this photo from a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE REPORT

Line speed was cited as a primary concern among meat and poultry workers in a 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Report that said employees felt their bosses cared more about production than worker safety.

Plant workers told investigators that “employers do not want the line to slow down even when the plant is understaffed,” the GAO report said, adding that industry officials disagreed. “According to representatives of a meat industry trade association, staffing is typically increased when line speed increases.”

The same GAO report noted that meat and poultry workers experienced higher illness rates than other manufacturing workers — nearly 160 cases per 10,000 full-time meat and poultry workers in 2013, compared to about 40 cases for manufacturing overall.

But those rates are likely higher, the report said, because both workers and their employers may underreport injuries and illnesses. For the worker, it’s from fear of job loss, the report said. For the employer, it’s from fear of the potential costs associated with those injuries and illnesses

What’s more, the health units in these meatpacking plants have numerous problems, including “lack supervision of medical personnel, personnel working outside their scope of practice, out-of-date health unit protocols, inappropriate response to injuries and illness, lack of quality assurance, poor worker access to health units, and inadequate recordkeeping,” a 2017 GAO report found.

States on the sideline

Meatpacking plants in Iowa, though, are now in a more protected position than most.

On Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the state will focus COVID-19 testing on meatpacking plants, swabbing all employees. “Strike teams” of epidemiologists and infectious disease nurses will also trace those who contacted infected workers and other Iowans. Later, Reynolds added that 250 National Guard members had been activated and that their mission includes helping to keep meat processing plants open.

Despite the potential for meatpacking plants to mutate into hotbeds of infection because of the close quarters in which employees work, Reynolds said she declined to close the facilities outright due to their importance to the food supply.

"We must do our part to keep them open in a safe and responsible way," Reynolds said.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Monday. OLIVIA STONE/DES MOINES REGISTER

Processing facilities in other states aren’t getting the same support. While Iowa has 23 major meat processing plants, four states have more: Arkansas (33), Georgia (32), Texas (32), and North Carolina (24).

Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Lara Anton said the agency is aware of two COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants and that it “actively investigates” such outbreaks.

“We’ve sent an environmental assessment team into one of the facilities and a team will be going into the other facility,” Anton said.

Georgia did not respond to an inquiry, and Arkansas and North Carolina said they had only issued guidance.

“We are monitoring closely for positive cases in any industry situations like this, and working with those businesses when needed,” said Meg Mirivel, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Health.

Mirivel also cited a three-page “guidance” for businesses, which noted the state health department would only know if an employee of a meatpacking plant tested positive for coronavirus if they volunteered their employment information at the time of the test.

Kelly Haight Connor, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said that agency currently relies on county health departments to perform interventions like contact tracing. The state otherwise has also issued guidance.

“Going forward, it will take a much larger team to aggressively trace the contacts of everyone who tests positive,” Haight Connor said, adding the health department is “working to structure contact tracing collaboratively between the state and counties.”

Even in places with some of the nation’s highest infection rates, facilities are left to police themselves. Of the 10 major meat-packing counties with the highest COVID-19 infection rates, five are in hard-hit New Jersey.

Managers at two of those factories reached by phone Monday said they have had little interaction with health authorities at any level.

“Officially, from the government, we haven’t received anything,” said Simone Bocchini, president of Fratelli Beretta, which distributes Italian cured meats nationwide.

Bocchini said the company took action on its own more than a month ago. Its facility in Morris County, where 8 of every 1,000 residents has tested positive for coronavirus, checks employee temperatures, sanitizes all surfaces and common areas, and provides copious hand sanitizer to employees, Bocchini said.

“We implement them like they were part of the (rules),” Bocchini said.

He declined to say whether any employees had tested positive for COVID-19, citing personnel privacy.

Asked about any actions the New Jersey Department of Health has taken to protect major food processors, spokeswoman Dawn Thomas wrote in an email that inspections “may be performed by local health departments.” She did not respond to follow-up questions asking if that means the state is not taking additional measures.

The state capital of Trenton in Mercer County, where just under 7 out of every 1,000 residents has tested positive, contains two major meat processing plants. But a county spokesperson said Mercer doesn’t have a health department, and a counterpart in Trenton did not respond to an inquiry about any measures the city is taking.

Specht, the Notre Dame professor, said he doubts health departments at all levels have the resources to ensure safe conditions at every facility, following a history of attrition.

“You can get things on paper,” Specht said, “but I don’t know where they get the manpower to enforce.”

Feds absent near Philly

Union workers at four Pennsylvania meatpacking plants stricken by coronavirus say the federal government has ignored their push for safer working conditions.

“Early on we were putting calls into OSHA that went completely unanswered,” said Wendell Young IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776 in the Philadelphia suburbs.

In an attempt to better protect meatpackers from COVID-19, Young said, the union has been negotiating with those four companies, which include the JBS beef packing plant in Souderton that closed in late March due to an outbreak.

But OSHA and the CDC weren’t part of those discussions, Young said.

“OSHA did not issue any orders or directives,” Young said, “nor did they ramp up inspections or enforcement.”

Instead, he said several companies voluntarily agreed to make changes, such as placing barriers between employees, issuing personal protective equipment and instructing managers to enforce proper personal distance.

Those measures led to a scheduled reopening of the Souderton JBS plant on Monday, but Wendell said workers have nothing but the company’s word that the changes will continue.

JBS owns and operates meat packing plants across the United States. DUSANPETKOVIC / ISTOCK

One of those workers is Carmen Dominguez. Before the plant’s temporary shutdown, she operated a machine that packages meat. Now she’s a union steward, making sure her co-workers follow new distancing guidelines. She says for the time, employees feel safe.

But she wonders about the long-term and whether any government backstop will be needed.

“At the moment, everything is going well,” Dominguez said in Spanish through an interpreter on Tuesday. “We try to make sure that they continue doing the right thing, but if not, probably we will need somebody that can help.”

OSHA will also be “issuing guidance” specifically for meat processing workers, said a spokesperson at the U.S. Department of Labor, which includes OSHA. The agency is also “enforcing” the CDC’s guidance through a regulatory power that says employers have a duty to protect workers from known hazards, the spokesperson said.

“When OSHA finds such a violation, a citation would be issued and a civil monetary penalty imposed,” the spokesperson said via email.

According to records OSHA posted on its website, there were two findings against meat processors in March for violating COVID-19 safety guidelines. The records showed a dozen more open cases at meat plants.

USA TODAY also sent a list of questions about what steps the CDC has taken to ensure safe workspaces in the Pennsylvania factories, or anywhere else. Bert Kelly, a spokesperson for the agency, responded with a one-sentence email.

“Please check in with OSHA, FDA or local regulators about this topic,” Kelly wrote.

This story is a collaboration between USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The Center is an independent, nonprofit newsroom covering agribusiness, Big Ag and related issues. USA TODAY is funding a fellowship at the center for expanded coverage of agribusiness and its impact on communities.

Originally Published 4:05 a.m. MST Apr. 22, 2020
Updated 12:13 p.m. MST Apr. 22, 2020
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:40 am

'No way food safety not compromised': US regulation rollbacks during Covid-19 criticised: Major pork plant closed after hundreds of workers contract coronavirus, while speeding up of poultry production lines raises concerns over standards
by Bibi van der Zee, Tom Levitt and Andrew Wasley
The Guardian
Mon 20 Apr 2020 07.43 EDTLast modified on Mon 20 Apr 2020 07.49 EDT



The US government is accelerating controversial regulatory rollbacks to speed up production at meat plants, as companies express growing alarm at the impact of Covid-19 on their operations.

Last week Smithfield shut down one of the largest pork plants in the country after hundreds of employees contracted the coronavirus. The plant in South Dakota – whose output represents 4–5% of US pork production – is reported to be the largest single-source coronavirus hotspot in the US, with more than 600 cases. In response, the company said it was “critical” for the meat industry to “continue to operate unabated”.

Now it has emerged that as a wave of plants announce closures, US meat plants are being granted permission to increase the speed of their production lines. This comes despite warnings that the waivers for higher speeds on slaughter and processing lines will compromise food safety.

The latest line speed increases, announced by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) mean 11 poultry plants have been given waivers to operate higher line speeds in the past fortnight. A number of beef and pork plants have also been given waivers, including a beef plant in Kansas in late March. The move will allow the additional chicken factories to slaughter as many as 175 birds a minute – the equivalent of 3 per second.

A union representing federal food safety inspectors has said faster lines will make it harder to catch “pathology that shouldn’t be going out to the consumers”.

“There is no way that food safety is not compromised when the sole trained government inspector on the slaughter line in a chicken plant is expected to examine three birds every second,” said Tony Corbo, senior government affairs representative at Food & Water Watch. “The US government has stepped on the accelerator to grant these waivers while everyone is concentrating on the Covid-19 epidemic.”

A spokesperson for the FSIS accused campaigners of “spreading fear among the American public”. “The agency’s decisions [on granting line speed waiver requests] are based on data gathered under the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) pilot study. The 20-year pilot showed that online inspectors in HIMP young chicken establishments were able to conduct an effective online inspection of each carcass when operating at a line speed of up to 175 bpm and that HIMP establishments were able to control for pathogens at the line speeds authorized under HIMP.”

Increased line speeds are supported by the poultry industry, which argues they do not represent additional risk to food or workers safety, and are necessary to remain financially competitive. Three years ago the National Chicken Council lobbied the government to scrap line speed limits completely, calling them “arbitrary”.

Under traditional poultry processing rules, line speeds ran at 140 birds a minute, and required at least four inspectors to be stationed on each line, tasked with checking carcasses for defects, disease or contamination, including fecal matter which can cause salmonella. That has since been reduced to one inspector per line, with individual regulatory waivers enabling line speed increases.

“It potentially reduces some of the quality control efforts, but I am not concerned about worker safety as a result of the increased line speeds. Some plants are actually reducing speeds because of employee absenteeism,” said Adam Speck, a senior commodity analyst at IHS Markit’s Agribusiness Intelligence.

‘People are getting sick from our poultry production’

The line speed increases come as Guardian data analysis reveals that at least one in 10 US poultry slaughterhouses failed government salmonella tests last year. In some categories, failure rates are as high as 34%.

Targets to reduce salmonella disease outbreaks have also been missed, with a rise of 9% in the incidence rate over the last three years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Campaigners have filed a petition with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), demanding that it declare certain types of salmonella in meat products adulterants (meaning producers have an obligation to withhold contaminated batches), because they “constitute an imminent threat to public health necessitating prompt agency action”.

People are getting sick from our poultry production system, and we think that is a public health emergency.
-- Tony Corbo

“We’ve been playing around with these standards for 20 years now,” said Corbo, one of the parties to the petition, “and it doesn’t seem to be working in terms of reducing the amount of food-borne illness in this country. People are getting sick from our poultry production system, and we think that is a public health emergency.”

The FSIS has made attempts to bring down salmonella levels and reduce food-borne illness. The FSIS pointed out to the Guardian that the number of establishments in category three [it has a rating system to encourage improvement] has been halved since 2017. But a Guardian analysis of the FSIS’s reports for the last year shows that for chicken carcass plants, an average 11.8% of inspected plants still failed the standard.

In 2011, when the FSIS set a target to reduce food-borne illness, the incidence level for salmonella was estimated at around 16.4 people per 100,000. The FSIS’s plan aimed to reduce that number to 11.4 by this year, but instead, after a small decline over five years, it has now risen to 18.3, according to a CDC spokesperson.

Outbreak numbers are rising too. A report by US consumer organisation PIRG found that meat and poultry recalls are up by 65% since 2013. Meanwhile a report by the CDC highlighted the rise in antibiotic-resistant salmonella as a serious threat that requires “prompt and sustained action”.

A spokesperson for the Chicken Council disagreed with criticisms of the sector. He told the Guardian: “No one wants to reduce salmonella more than the companies producing our food. Our families eat the same chicken.” The council opposes the petition, he stated. “We agree with FSIS, and previous court rulings, that a science-based, multitiered approach aimed at reducing all salmonella on raw meat and poultry products results in a more appropriate and effective use of agency resources compared to a separate and specific focus on specific individual strains.”

Campaigners say the FSIS is limited in its ability to keep US meat and poultry healthy. A critical report on the FSIS by the US Government Accountability Office in 2018 stated that a review of data had shown that “some plants are still not meeting pathogen standards -– in some cases repeatedly not meeting the standards –- and are allowed to operate”. It also pointed out that the agency still had no mandatory recall authority.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:46 am

Is the U.S. food supply safe?
by FDA: U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Posted March 17, 2020



Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
This includes between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. However, it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill – to prevent foodborne illness.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:15 am

Nurses on the Front Lines/Captain Bligh
by Ralph Nader
April 18, 2020



Steve Skrovan: It's the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with my cohost, David Feldman. Hello, David.

David Feldman: Hello. Good morning.

Steve Skrovan: And the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hey. How’s everybody in these troubled times?

Steve Skrovan: Yeah. Well, we're all locked down. We're all locked down, but that doesn't prevent us from presenting the show. And we've got a great show for you. Of course, what's on everybody's mind is the coronavirus pandemic and this Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the weaknesses of our healthcare system, including the health and safety of the healthcare workers themselves. The people we depend on who are at high risk during this crisis and despite the high risk, they are not being provided necessary protections. In fact, a headline in Fortune Magazine this week stated that some hospitals are telling healthcare workers they will be fired for reporting a lack of protective gear. Protective masks are usually used once and thrown away, but now faced with a very contagious virus, hospitals are telling doctors and nurses to clean and reuse their masks.

Some nurses report self-quarantining after being exposed to Covid-19 then being told to return to work before their two-week quarantine is up. Our first guest will be Jean Ross, who is President of the largest union of nurses in the United States, National Nurses United, and she is here to tell us about her efforts to help nurses stay safe during this pandemic. And that's just the first half of the show. And the second half, Donald Trump says he'd like to have the country reopen and back to normal by May 1st. When asked what he would rely on for that final answer, he pointed to his head, uh-oh, not a good sign. In the second half of the show, we welcome back Dr. Bandy Lee, who has been sounding the alarm about the mental health of this President and his judgment since she first appeared on our program back in 2017, to talk about the book she edited, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Health Professionals Assess a President. Last time Dr. Lee was here, just around the first of the year, she said, Donald Trump's thinks he's the "King of Everything."

And just this week at one of his press conference, he maintained that he had absolute power to reopen the country economically. Dr. Lee will tell us about why he is especially unfit to lead during this crisis, and as always, we'll find some time in between to take a short break and check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhiber. And if we have some time left over, we'll try to tackle a listener question. Well, let's start by talking about what needs to happen to protect nurses. David?

David Feldman: Jean Ross is an acute care nurse and the President of National Nurses United. It's the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. National Nurses United aims to create a vision of collective action for nurses so that nurses are able to have more influence over the healthcare industry and a larger voice in public policy. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Jean Ross.

Jean Ross: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Ralph Nader: Yes, indeed, welcome. I want to read one of the demands of the nurses just to illustrate how minimally they are in terms of the safety and health of workers in this area and also to show just how ill-prepared we were as a society. And I'm not just talking about the careening captain of the ship, the self-absorbed Donald Trump, who contradicts himself, overrules scientific advice and plays quack doctor. But we were unprepared because our public budgets are completely screwed up, going to massive redundant military budgets and at the expense of domestic necessities, which include saving lives, threatening injuries and preventing diseases. And that fell all over the institutions that weren't ready. Even CDC wasn't ready and fumbled.

So here's the demand and I'm quoting, "Employers shall provide the highest level of protection, including functioning negative pressure rooms and personal protective equipment for nurses providing care to possible and confirmed Covid-19 cases. Employers must ensure negative pressure rooms remain functional at all times during use. Highest level of personal protective equipment must include coveralls meeting ASTMs standards, gloves, temporary scrubs and other protections." Here we have hospital structures, many of them giant hospital chains with hugely overpaid CEOs—millions of dollars a year, some of them—as the California Nurses Association research pointed out years ago, and they weren't prepared. So what can be done here, Jean Ross, to take it from the workplace, the front lines all the way to Congress, all the way to the White House?
Because the ultimate responsibility here for public health is the President of the United States and the Congress. They have the money; they have the power. They do have to work with the states and localities, but we have to go to the top if we're going to change the system and the priorities. Tell us about this.

Jean Ross: Well, it's going to take, obviously, a whole lot of pressure and we're hampered a bit now because of physical distancing. We're not out in the streets like we normally would be. So we've taken on a number of ways of changing this. In addition to our public petitions, the visual things we do. We have always lobbied Congress and starting today and in the next few days, we will be virtually meeting with senators from more than 20 states. We will be setting up appointments and asking for our two main asks, one of which you already mentioned, which is to urge Congress to mandate that the President use the Defense Production Act, not as he says as a hammer, but to actually use it to mass produce and get us needed PPE, ventilators and other medical equipment and get it now, as we would say, stat. And then also, to have OSHA do a temporary emergency infectious disease standard, and that would require that we get that optimal PPE [personal protective equipment] that you mentioned for all frontline healthcare workers.

So those are our two main asks.
We've been on our nationalnursesunited.org site. We've had people take action; we have a website protectnurses.org. The public has been very helpful in doing that and we also have over 500 volunteers across the country to date. And we're texting every single nurse in the country. I don't think…well, I know we've never done anything like this before; I don't know that anyone else has. And we're offering a number of things--our online resources for information because, you know, we in the public are not getting the correct information; we cannot trust that. And then there are links to join our weekly Covid-19 Facebook live update. There is a Facebook group for nurses with all kinds of information about our advocacy efforts [including] the lobbying that I mentioned earlier. And so we're doing this peer-to-peer texting software. We've gotten many, many volunteers, over 500 and we reached over 750,000 nurses in 10 different states. Basically, if they are nurses, they can email us with a question at covid@nationalnursesunited.org. And there they can either use the information that we've got, email us, or they can, if they have a question, they can actually speak to someone on the phone from our union.

Ralph Nader: Well, even before the Covid-19 crisis, nurses have been much more visible than doctors. They've been out on the streets, informative picketing. They connect with citizen groups and they lobby for their patients on specific patient-oriented legislation. So I want to ask you, Jean Ross, what are your counterpart medical associations doing here? The American Medical Association, the Association of Family Physicians and all the others. What are they doing given the horrendous stories of unprotected healthcare workers [who] even when they get sick, don't get adequately tested, adequately served? What are the doctors of the country doing here?

Jean Ross: Well, what I've observed is they’re obviously as supportive as we are of getting the personal protective equipment because they're on the front lines with us. Although I don't see them necessarily getting coverage or being asked those questions as we are when I see them on TV. I will say, even for nurses, it depends on where you work. Not just what state, not even which state or hospital system, but actually what unit you work on. And that's just a result of course of our fragmented patchwork system where you can't tell any employer what to do. I mean even CDC guidelines are guidelines and those of course get downgraded every time the Hospital Association puts in a word. So we're just keeping at trying to inform the public because the public has always been solidly behind us.

Ralph Nader: You're right. Nurses are at the peak of public opinion support, but of course, doctors are on the front lines here. I was referring to the doctor organizations that have considerable influence over Congress and over the political system--from Washington to state capitals. What do you think they should be doing that they're not doing? These are the doctor specialty associations, the American Medical Association [AMA], its state chapters. What do you think they should be doing along with what you're doing?

Jean Ross: Well, I think they should be supporting us. I think they should be doing exactly what we're doing. Especially since very often, you know, we're a female-dominated profession and sad to say, sometimes they listen to men and the bulk of doctors still are more male. But you know when it comes to the kind of fighting that we do with our union, an organization and association is a lot different than a union and there aren't very many doctors that are unionized. So whereas we can speak out freely without fear of losing our jobs even during a pandemic, nurses are being threatened with being fired, they're not in the same position that we are. But absolutely I would hope that they would be lobbying for the same type of things for themselves and for us, and of course, for the public health.

Ralph Nader: Well, there's such heartbreaking stories where when patients get diagnosed with Covid-19, they have to be quarantined. They have to be isolated, sometimes from their own family. Oftentimes, if they're in nursing homes, families can only look through a glass window to try to communicate with them. What are the nurses doing about the kind of isolation, which of course leads to tremendous psychological damage along with the tremendous pain that these people are going through? And the nurses know what the situation is. What are they proposing here?

Jean Ross: Well, you know, we do our best obviously whatever situation we're put in. When those patients are in that situation where they can't have family with them, especially when they’re going to die, the nurse becomes that family. We are the ones that sit there and hold hands and tell them, you know, we're going to be there for them no matter what. There isn't too much you can do about that isolation because of where we're at right now with the virus. I mean, it has to be that way. That's understood. One of the things I wish fervently that we could get the President and the government to do is to ramp up testing and at least test healthcare workers first. That would let us know that for one thing, we're not spreading it from patient to patient and to the public when we leave the facilities every day, that kind of thing. But, I don't know that people recognize or would think of right away [is] how hard it is for nurses and other healthcare workers to see that amount of deaths every day, every shift. It is more than heartbreaking.

Ralph Nader: On that point you just made, you know, we have Governor Cuomo [and] President Trump start s speculating about reopening new economy and ending the lockdown. Well, just in the last few days, the death toll in New York state alone was over 700 a day. That's on the average, one death every two minutes, for the 24-hour period. It’s staggering. So what are the nurses preparing here when the politicians start heeding the business community and saying, well, this is the price we're going to have to pay; we can't lock down the economy for a long time; open up. What are the nurses preparing to do and say?

Jean Ross: Well, we're already, you know, I mentioned our actions, we do visual things [like] standing up outside of hospital facilities six feet apart, forming our own line, continuing to inform the public and hoping that they, with us, will insist to listen to the right information from medical experts and not economic advisors. I mean, this is just—there's going to be an awful lot of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] now and when this is over. It will be the essential workers, not just healthcare workers; it will be the patients' families. It's very hard in our country. I mean, we all know that we don't really have a healthcare system. There's nobody been really concerned with it other than maybe the nurses, which is why we have pushed for Medicare for All for so long. This kind of illuminates exactly why we have needed something like that, and the public, even before the pandemic, was starting to understand that.

Ralph Nader: Let me suggest a different venue for your demonstrations. If you could demonstrate six feet apart in front of the White House with the proper signs and the nurses in white, it would have a much greater effect nationally through the media. And it's all free speech as long as you stay six feet apart; 20/30 nurses can do this, and do it again and again. There is nothing in front of the White House. In fact, no matter how terrible this president has been on many other issues, he probably has been picketed less than other prior presidents. It's as if he's too terrible to deal with. So I would suggest that. Now do you think after this Covid-19 relents that there's going to be a decisive push in public opinion and other healthcare worker organizations for full Medicare for All [with] free choice of doctor, nurse, hospital, whatever--much more efficient, much more lifesaving? Do you think it's going to change the equation here or it's just back to business as usual?

Jean Ross: I think the tendency in this country is always to go back to business as usual. It's easier and it's safer for whatever reason, but we won't stop pushing. And as I said, this is a great example. It shows people exactly why, for example, you cannot rely on being employed for your insurance. Everybody's not working now; a large percentage of us aren't. So [change] is going to continue to take pressure. But yes, I do see signs of that changing. We saw it even before the pandemic.

Ralph Nader: Do you think that the example from Canada will start having more of an impact? I've always been amazed. I wrote an article, ‘25 Ways Life is Better in Canada’, because they have a full Medicare for All system. It’s much more efficient. It comes in at half [the] price per capita and they cover everyone. [Here] 30 million people are uncovered, another 50 [million] under- insured. Anywhere, according to a Yale study that just came out recently, [between] 65,000 to 105,000 people die every year because they can't afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time on and on. Tell me, you're connected with the nurses in Canada. Why hasn't this country paid attention to it works in Canada? It's not theory; it's not some wild projection. It's been working since the late 1960s.

Jean Ross: Right. Well, of course we do use them as one of the examples. We had several examples including Canada. People do, they are starting to listen to that. They want a lot of what they've got. People who are dead set against anything like universal health, Medicare for All, will use anecdotes and old wives’ tales about people dying there because they can't get surgery and that kind of thing. But I think what's telling is for people in any country that have what Canada has, that when that health system is threatened to be taken away or changed, like some of our multinational corporations are trying to do, they would just assume that all those countries with health plans like that have what we have that people rise up and say No. We haven't gotten to a point where we're close to having it. The closest we've got is Medicare. When Medicare gets threatened, people here step up and say, "Don't you dare." We have to get them to the point, which we may be at that point now, where they say, "We need this too."

Ralph Nader: Well, one difference between Canada and the US was in the 1960s, we were embroiled in the Vietnam War and they weren't and the reason why Lyndon Johnson didn't get Medicare for All in the 1963-64 period when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, was the that Congress said to them, there is too much deficit; the Vietnam War is costing us too much. You just have to do it for the elderly and under certain conditions for the poor. So once again, the military machine devours its own people and we're still inheriting that terrible missed priority that Canada didn't have to endure. What do you see in the next 6, 8, 10 weeks, Jean Ross?

Jean Ross: Well, we of course are going to continue to do our push. We will raise holy hell if he decides economically to open the country and to do it as stupidly as he did the beginning of this where he didn't take control. I think you're going to see unfortunately, unless and until we get the PPE that we need and want, we are going to see more and more healthcare workers struck down. And that will put the system that we have more at risk than it is now. Because it isn't just a statement, I think we can all see what will happen as we continue to get sick. You cannot afford to have us not working.

Ralph Nader: Well, you get feedback from nurses all over the country. And I'm curious about why haven't the Southern states that have their own big cities, [such as] Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami, come down with levels of severity that have affected New York, New Jersey, Detroit, some parts of Illinois? I know New Orleans has come down with it severely. But what's going on? Do you think that they had a heads-up and they locked down because it started in hotspots like New York and New Rochelle?

Jean Ross: You know, I'm not sure what he does with his friends versus the rest of us, but I will tell you that, you know, they keep talking about waves of the disease; Dr. Fauci keeps talking about that, so does Governor Cuomo. There will be and they just might not be at that point. Florida nurses are very worried. They're extremely worried. I myself live in Minnesota. We, I think, locked down early enough that we are being able to handle what we've got here. But we're preparing for more. We're not planning on opening up soon. So it depends on where you are in the illness. But people that are very cavalier, that think because they're in a rural community, for example, they could be horribly hard yet. They are the places these for-profit employers have closed hospitals. There will be fewer places for those patients to go and their system will be overwhelmed very readily.

Ralph Nader: Well, Scott Gottlieb, who was the former Food and Drug Administrator, chief for Trump--he's very close to the drug industry and he's now out of government--just gave an interview saying that there's not going to be a vaccine for two years. And whether there will be anything intermediate, by way of lessening the severity of the Covid-19 affliction, is still unknown. And there is a lot of quackery going on. You have the President of United States recommending a dual drug that can damage the heart, has bad side effects, and there's no evidence that it [positively] affects Covid-19 patients. And then on the internet [are] crazy schemes and nostrums and wild assurances--a corporate crime wave. And the government is just not putting enough prosecutors on to make examples of these criminals. So we have such breakdowns coming. All the latent insecurities of our political economy and the plutocratic control of it--of the many by the few--are coming to the forefront here. And if there's a second wave in the fall and it affects the election, we have even more chaos. Who gives us reassurances here? Who can say that the supplies are now going to be adequate, that the hospital facilities are now going to be adequate? Can the military play a major role here? They warned Trump in September with a hundred-page report; it was just revealed that it predicted almost exactly what happened with the Covid-19. And it was ignored by the White House. So where do you see the leadership, the reassurance?

Jean Ross: Well, it's not real hopeful. I mean, you know. Okay. You mentioned Trump, not only is he not doing enough, he's actually sabotaging what should be done. That's our lobbying for the DPA, the Defense Production Act being invoked. As far as the equipment that we need, they keep talking about a shortage. We're not sure how short they are. They are doing battlefields triage, making nurses wear the wrong equipment or bring bandanas to work and they say, this is in order to save. Well, when an employer tells us to save, it's all economical. I know they want the public to think they're just trying to conserve supplies so there'll be enough for how long this thing lasts, but it's not. It's money! We know that, because we see the equipment at some of the hospitals under lock and key and they tell you, you can't have it. The hand really doesn't know what the foot is doing.
It's got to be Congress. I know the House is trying. They tried to get that temporary OSHA standard in one of the relief packages; they haven't been able to do it so far. But until you get someone to control that man and make him do what is needed for the health of the public, things aren't going to change.

Ralph Nader: Well, we're talking with Jean Ross, the President of National Nurses United. You know, I've accused Congress of being AWOL. You know that almost a month ago, they just went back home--no hearings, no committee meetings, no floor debate. And I said, well, they must not think they're essential service, that they're not essential workers, because within a few hundred yards of the Congress are all kinds of people on the front lines exposing themselves to peril and doing their duty and work. I think there needs to be high-profile congressional hearings. Have you put your laser beam pressure, Nurses United, on both the House and the Senate on this? They are coming back on April 20; who knows for how long. I've never seen a situation like this. They're not on the job.

Jean Ross: No, they're not. You know, even our nurses have asked what we can do about Trump and quite frankly, you know, the man is ill. We know that. I honestly don't hold any hope of him doing what he needs to do, other than maybe seeing him removed. But it's got to be the people who are enabling him who know better, the ones that aren't ill. They should be doing that. They should be doing their duty. And I am hoping, and certainly, we would support investigations into exactly what's going on. We're looking right now at where the heck our equipment is.

Ralph Nader: Well, I think the spotlight has got to be on Congress, but also of course, greatly on Trump who is using these daily news conferences to try to enhance his re-election and to take credit for everything and responsibility for nothing. He gives himself a 10 on a scale of 10, saying he has no responsibility for anything that's gone wrong. So in addition to the six-feet-apart demonstration in front of the White House, why don't you invite President Trump in full hazmat equipment to one of your hospitals to see exactly what you've been facing? Why don't you invite him? I mean, he's a draft dodger to be sure, but you know, he likes to be in the spotlight. [Jean chuckles] This will get them on the news like nothing else.

Jean Ross: Well, it certainly would make a good visual. I actually did hear one of the doctors on TV suggests that from New York last night. He needs to come down here when he spouts off and says "everything's under control; we're doing a great job." He needs to be on one of those units.

Ralph Nader: How do people reach National Nurses United? Can you give their website?

Jean Ross: Yeah. If I were the public, and were looking for information and help, I would go to nationalnursesunited.org or protectnurses.org. If I were a nurse, I would go to covid@nationalnursesunited.org.

Ralph Nader: Well, thank you very much, Jean Ross. We’re entitled to be very proud of the millions of nurses all over the country who do work almost nobody would dare to do and don't get much publicity for it. I think if the nurses want to get more attention, they should learn how to put a ball in a hole in the ground, like golfers and win The Masters and then they’ll get attention all over the world.

Jean Ross: There you go. Well, thank you for helping us get the word out.

Ralph Nader: You're very welcome.

Steve Skrovan: We have been speaking with Jean Ross, President of National Nurses United. We will link to their work at ralphnaderradiohour.com. Now we're going to take a short break. When we return, we will talk to Dr. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale, who thinks the pathology of Donald Trump is a real threat to the public health. But first, let's check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhiber.

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press building in Washington, D.C., this is your Corporate Crime Report on Morning Minute for Friday, April 17, 2020. I'm Russell Mokhiber. In the years since the 2008 financial crisis, federal prosecutors in the United States have brought dozens of criminal cases against the world's most powerful banks, charging them with manipulating financial indices, helping their customers evade taxes, evading sanctions, and laundering money. To settle these cases, global banks like UBS, Barclays, HSBC, and BNP Paribas paid tens of billions of dollars in fines. They also agreed to extensive reforms, hiring hundreds of compliance officers, spending billions on new systems, and installing independent monitors. In effect, the banks agreed to become worldwide enforcers of US law, including financial sanctions. That's a take of University of Virginia law professor, Pierre [-Hugues] Verdier, author of the just released book, Global Banks on Trial: U.S. Prosecutions and the Remaking of International Finance. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mokhiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I'm Steve Skrovan along with David Feldman and Ralph. In response to state governors pushing back on his claim of absolute authority over when to reopen the country, Donald Trump tweeted out a reference the film Mutiny on the Bounty, effectively comparing himself to the infamous captain Bligh, the volatile and paranoid captain of the bounty. He's calling himself this. For the last three years, our next guest has been arguing that the mental health of our President mandates that he too should be set afloat in a dinghy. David?

David Feldman: Dr. Bandy Lee is a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine and an internationally recognized expert on violence. Dr. Lee is the President of the World Mental Health Coalition and has worked with various governments to implement violence prevention programs in prisons and the community. Dr. Lee edited the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Dr. Bandy Lee.

Dr. Bandy Lee: Thank you very much for having me back.

Ralph Nader: Well, you've made your point again and again with your colleagues from all over the country and the world that President Trump is unfit for his responsibilities of office. Not just politically disagreeable, but that he has levels of instability, levels of confusion, unable to process information to make rational decisions, completely absorbed with his own ego through which he interprets everything--scapegoating, attacking people who dare to criticize him and using massive torrents of flattery for the people who are his sycophants. It's hard, you know, to visualize the captain of a ship careening wildly in turbulent waters, called Covid-19, having delayed for weeks by ridiculing this peril in a variety of ways, which he now denies, and increased certainly the level of deaths and afflictions as a result, before any measures start being put in order. Now, there is a convention in your profession that you don't make a judgment about someone's mental health unless you're sitting there examining the person. And you have raised this issue with your profession, and you have responded to it. Tell us.

Dr. Bandy Lee: Yes, that's right. Well, I think it has shown itself to be critical. The fact is not so much, the important fact is not that that convention prohibits diagnosing public figures. Actually we would have no need to. They're not our patients. We wouldn't examine them. So there's nothing left to be confidential about, but what was truly alarming to me, and I think egregious on the part of the American Psychiatric Association, for whatever reason they did it, at the onset of the Trump presidency, changed the rule to cover not just diagnosis, but any comment of any kind on a public figure under any circumstance. Now that blatantly goes against our First Amendment rights because a public figure is not a patient; it's not covered by professional responsibility. Our professional responsibility is to society. In fact, that very rule, which is only one rule in one voluntary association; none of the other associations around the world that we know of has this rule and no licensing board can adopt it because it goes against the First Amendment.

But the fact that they prevented our ability to warn society in the case of dangers, stating this rule, when it's not in fact even a rule, it's a guideline; the guideline actually states this. We don't just have a responsibility to patients. We have it as well to society. And so psychiatrists are expected to participate in activities that improve the community and promote public health. That is why that restriction is in there. So, in the context of the public asking us about a public figure, we're encouraged to educate the public, just not diagnose. And by amplifying the diagnosis and eliminating the fact that we ought to educate the public or protect public health is really turning medical ethics upside down and that is what happened at the onset of the presidency. And I think that needs to be clarified that on an association, that not even all psychiatrists belong to, has been engaging in this misinformation campaign, because it was really a public campaign and intimidation of mental health experts when they would wish to speak.

Ralph Nader: How about the American Psychological Association? Where did they stand on this?

Dr. Bandy Lee: That's very interesting because when the American Psychiatric Association came out with this announcement of what they call the "reaffirmed rule," but it's actually a new rule, the American Psychological Association said, we have a similar rule ourselves. Of course they don't, and they would later retract that statement, but that's what happened.

Ralph Nader: Well, you have the 25th Amendment; it’s the Constitution, which really sets the stage for your kind of professional judgment and the 25th Amendment says if the Vice President of the United States notices erratic behavior, unstable behavior, whether psychological or physical disability, the Vice President can put in a motion with other cabinet members, an initiative to suspend the President from his or her office. Now, if they were to do that, they would have to resort to the kind of empirical evidence and professional judgment that you're putting forward. Would they not?

Dr. Bandy Lee: Exactly. Exactly. In fact, I have had a number of conversations with the drafter of the 25th Amendment, because we've been invited to a number of conferences to speak together. And he has lamented the fact that the 25th Amendment, because it is a political process and because it is political, "I don't have a role in deciding whether or not the 25th Amendment happens, but it could not happen and would not be sensitive enough to happen in many psychiatric circumstances where it ought to be initiated by the input of mental health experts such as myself. And that is something that I find truly problematic and even exceptional in all legal cases." As a forensic psychiatrist, I'm often called to testify as an expert witness and in courts in numerous legal cases, in policy decisions, they would not make a decision without expert input. I mean the fact that you admit evidence into court, an expert opinion is considered when it's done in the standardized way was scientific backing of it. It is considered evidence. In fact, it's part of the facts that you gather. And therefore for political process to say, or for political people to say that a political process should not engage with anybody else other than politicians is quite a divergence from usual legal practice.

Ralph Nader: They couldn't engage it without evidence. They'd have to produce evidence of the kind that you are bringing together.

Dr. Bandy Lee: Exactly.

Ralph Nader: You know, it's quite interesting. A president should tell the truth to the people. A president that has 17,000 fabrications and lies since he was inaugurated. He is a pathological liar. He is a savage sexual predator. He misleads his supporters and endangers them. He urges them to do things that are not good for them, like taking certain unproven drugs for the Covid-19 and he contradicts scientists with his political attempt to embellish his own ego and his own achievements in preparation for the next election. Now to me, an impeachable offense is sufficient with a pathological liar. How can you have a president that every day, sometimes every hour, tweets out fabrications, things that aren't so, things that didn't happen, things that he thought happened that didn't happen, things that he did that he didn't do in terms of taking credit. So it's really a very easy case on many, many grounds. And are you getting any support from other professions like medical societies, nurses’ organizations who have to deal with similar phenomena and have similar professional duties, not just to individuate themselves with personal clients, but their professional commitment to the society at large? That's one of the definitions of a profession.

Dr. Bandy Lee: Yes. In fact, now that he is increasing the unnecessary deaths from the viral pandemic, not just in the hundreds of thousands, but possibly in the millions around the world as he pulls funding from the World Health Organization. I mean the one instrument we have for bringing about global coordination for confronting this crisis, there couldn't be a greater medical immediate emergency as we have now, all because of the psychological problems of this President as well as his criminal intent. But we have the situation here and so there's no question among medical professionals. There's a group of non-psychiatric physicians who are now backing us and collecting their voices. Of course, among mental health professionals it has always been a consensus apart from just a handful of outliers. And yet, our media in this country, talk about the deadliness from denying expertise that the media has engaged in starting with the New York Times editorial board actually collaborated with the American Psychiatric Association in January of 2018 to put out a very explicit statement that the public does not need to hear from psychiatrists about the President's mental health, that they should not speak and that their opinion is not wanted. I mean, what kind of newspaper does that? But of course that was the explicit voice of not just the American Psychiatric Association, but a very pharmaceutical industry supported past APA president, who was the only full-page opinion that the Times has ever printed on this issue, who said the president is just a jerk. And so to this day, the members of the public come to us and say, why aren't mental health professionals speaking up more? And why, when the only psychiatrist they hear of is someone who says that the President is just a jerk when even for them, it is so blatant that the President is suffering from severe symptoms? And as you say, the level of lying alone, is pathological.

Ralph Nader: We're talking with Dr. Bandy Lee of Yale School of Medicine. The New York Times, Bandy, has published hundreds of articles about the incompetence of Trump, the ignorance of Trump, the incapacity to govern of Trump, the petty, vengeful nature of Trump, the nepotism of Trump, the chronic lying of Trump. So if they don't want to use your language, your psychiatric or psychological language, what is it about them that they don't go to the conclusion of their own reporters’ documentation and say he's unfit for office? He's totally incompetent and he creates a fantasy about himself and separates people who believe him from reality in their daily lives and he should resign. He should obviously have been impeached if the House of Representatives took proposals from constitutional law specialists, he could have been impeached on 12 grounds. But apart from that, there should be a mass demand for his removal, for his resignation.

Oh, he'll never resign. Well, that's not the burden of those who demand his resignation. That's their duty. And they used to say Nixon would never resign--he's stubborn; you have to take him out feet first. Well, he did resign, and it's appalling to see this marvelous documentation by newspapers and other media day by day of the wreckage that he is leaving the country embroiled in, and aiding and abetting actually worsening trends. Like he wanted to cut the budgets of key health agencies in the country that dealt with infectious disease and he closed down the office in the White House headed by a rear admiral to prepare for a potential pandemic in 2018. It's not that he’s just doing nothing in moments of peril and not just Covid-19; he's actively aiding and abetting devastations to health and safety of the American people, whether it's cutting back OSHA, whether it's destroying EPA, whether it's freezing the activity of the auto-safety agency [NHTSA], whether it's wanting to get rid of Obamacare without any replacement and expose 20 more million people to life without health insurance, which includes a consequence of mortality and morbidity as a result.

So what's the New York Times’ problem here? If they don't want to use your language, they have ample evidence in their pages.

Dr. Bandy Lee: Well, you have just outlined a great summary of the multiple ways in which he has been destructive to the country and if not to the world. And this destructiveness, if it were purely criminal, purely intentional, that is, then it would go only so far. But the reason why it is critical to distinguish what is pathological versus normal and healthy and ordinarily life affirming is that it actually ends up being far more efficient. And people marvel at the fact that he's such a "Teflon President" or that he is able to whip up a following in ways that no one ever has managed to. Well, this is actually a symptom of pathology. And the reason why it's so important to distinguish is exactly for the factors you outlined, that he ends up being almost exclusively destructive and never productive. Because pathology is so efficient, it brings about damage and death and it is far more effective than anything we can consciously, rationally plan. And that's also what's happening in addition to the criminal intent. And so why the New York Times avoiding our language? I mean it set the stage. The media were not always like this. In fact, I was interviewing 15 hours a day, every single day, soon after the publication of our book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which was an unprecedented, near instant New York Times bestseller. Well, they avoided reviewing it. They avoided mentioning it and eventually when our voices were getting so loud that our topic became the number one issue of the national news. All the programs were airing us; all of the major network, cable and primetime programs had or were mentioning us on air. That is when the New York Times stepped in. Why did they do so? I couldn't really speak for their intentions, but I could speak the results of their actions.

Ralph Nader: Did they ever explain? Did they ever have an intelligent exchange of views to explain your position?

Dr. Bandy Lee: No, no. I mean, even the reporters who quoted me as central to their articles had only my quotes taken out; all the political pundits would be left in, and they themselves have been puzzled. It's happened over and over, not just with the New York Times now, but with multiple, certainly the most prominent media. And I had been invited to news programs and other major programs, over 50 times just for CNN. And none of them were, none of them were actually aired except for one. They would all get canceled at the top. So producers would constantly be inviting us, and editors and reporters would constantly be interviewing us. But it would never get printed. And after two and a half years, almost two and a half years of this, we finally realized it's not by chance. And my guess is that if you exclude expert voices who can show you the standardized means by which we come to our conclusions--they're not just personal opinions--there are professionally standardized conclusions that we come to consensus about once we have enough information. And most experts will tell you we have more information about Donald Trump than any patient that we've ever treated. It was even laughed about at a major conference at Harvard. And so when we have this much information and this much confirmation and the President has not met one criterion of basic mental capacity, that is the fundamental building block of fitness. And so if you don't have that, if you don't have rationality and sanity, you can't have any other kind of fitness. And he did not meet one criterion, and we had great information for that report, which came from the Mueller report.

Ralph Nader: Let me propose to you a question probably you've never been asked, about the bizarre nature of what it takes to demand a president to resign. So let's say hypothetically, Donald Trump had a national news conference tomorrow and he said, ‘to my tens of millions of supporters, you've supported me because I say publicly what you think privately, and I am going to say the following.’ And he launches into the most ugly, bigoted stereotypes, against Hispanics, against Blacks, against Asian-Americans, against Jews, against Arabs, against gays. And then he said, ‘Take that’, my guess is the New York Times would immediately demand his resignation, because words are more explosive than devastating deeds in American politics. What's your view?

Dr. Bandy Lee: First of all, I'm not sure the New York Times will make a demand even in that state, partly because I had been hearing about the conflicts of interests that some reporters have and [interrupted]

Ralph Nader: Well, let’s not get mired in that right now. The media would demand his resignation. The public would demand his resignation. You see it all the time. Terrible politicians, terrible record for four or five years, stiffing workers, stiffing consumers. They may stumble on some bigoted words and they’re told to get out.

Dr. Bandy Lee: Oh, I see. Well, because as you said, the President is speaking other people's minds, and wouldn't that in sure political terms be something that is acceptable. So I guess my argument still is going in the direction of they're not demanding his resignation, but what would allow for the kind of turnaround among his base or his followers, that would allow for a demand for resignation to be possible, is actually psychological--not based on words or objective words or deeds. And that is if the President were to say, ‘I made a mistake; this warrants resignation’. Then that is a point where a large portion of his followers will turn around and agree with him--not the widespread deaths from Covid-19 and not the loss of family members and friends--but the President either saying so himself or being forced to resign. The resignation itself or the impeachment itself, I have said over and over, justifies impeachment in the minds of his followers. And that is because their psychology is at a level oftentimes--I should note that people are drawn to the President because of similar psychology to start with; others are healthy and sound to begin with. But because of the length of time that a severely symptomatic President has been kept in power and the position of influence with lots of exposures through the media and social media and rallies, there's also been a transmission of symptoms; mental symptoms can be transmitted. And so you end up with a base that is very much psychologically similar to the President. And this psychology, unlike most people's impression, is actually submissive psychology. And Donald Trump, he has to maintain a posturing of being dominant and powerful and strong. But we have seen in multiple situations under the influence of Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un, he quickly comes to state of submissiveness. And that means that once someone is removed from a position of power or he admits to a mistake, in other words, shows that he is fallible, then the unconditional worshiping of that person ceases. And it's actually a very binary, simplistic dynamic where they either idealize him as perfect, like a king, like a God with total authority over all situations, or he is too weak, too fallible, too human to be worth following.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, he's never admitted a mistake. He's never admitted doing anything wrong. His phrase is, ‘I have not done anything wrong’. He said under Article II, ‘I can do anything I want as President.’ Those were his very words. So what you're really arguing was anticipated by our founding fathers. Number one, the last thing they wanted to tolerate was a monarchical executive, another King George, that violated accountability, which is why they set up the separation of powers between the legislative executive and judicial branches. And what you're arguing falls right into a major category of what they thought was an impeachable offense in the Federalist Papers, which was "an abuse of public trust". That was written by Alexander Hamilton, among others, who believed in a strong president. So it's not like, you know, you're on the margins of professional expression here. You can document it in a whole variety of secular ways-- historical, contemporary, functional, you name it. Well, we're out of time. Thank you very much, Dr. Lee. It’s to be continued.

Dr. Bandy Lee: I hope so. Thank you very much.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Dr. Bandy Lee about Donald Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and other things. We will link to her work ralphnaderradiohour.com. So we have time. Let's do a listener question. David?

David Feldman: This one comes to us from Paul D. Marshall. "Ralph, on a lighter side, how do I purchase the Nader family cookbooks, The Ralph Nader and Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond and [It Happened] In the Kitchen: Recipes for Food and Thought. [https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/it-happened-in-the-kitchen-recipes-for-food-and-thought_nathra-nader_rose-b-nader/422343/#isbn=0936758295&idiq=1752850] Thank you. Great show. I'm a regular listener. Hope you all stay well.

Ralph Nader: Thank you, Paul. Well, it's a great cookbook and I don't say that for myself. They're mostly my mother's recipes and we grew up on them--very nutritious, delicious, low in fat, sugar, salt. But it's more than a cookbook. I read a long introduction of what food around the table meant in terms of raising us and having conversations and training us not to whine about the food and to understand nutrition and not to be susceptible to sweetened food and additives. You can get the book from any bookstore, but the bookstores are closed so you'll have to get it online. You know where you can get books online—Powell’s is one, Barnes & Nobles, and other, the dreaded Amazon is a third. And if you want to have bulk copies, you can go to the publisher. It's a beautiful hardback book with all kinds of beautiful photography of the various dishes and the publisher is Akashic Books. That's A-K-A-S-H-I-C Books. You can reach them at acashicbooks.com. Thank you very much, Paul.

David Feldman: You know more and more, people, because they're quarantining, sheltering in place, are cooking, and I can't tell you the number of people who have discovered their kitchen and are eating healthy.

Ralph Nader: And in a sense by encouraging more nutritious diets and less fat, sugar, salt, diets, junk-food diets, you're improving your resistance to any kind of affliction. Healthier people have a better chance.

Steve Skrovan: Ralph, your mom taught you a lot of things. Did she teach you to cook?

Ralph Nader: Yeah, we had to help around the kitchen. There were certain things like elaborate desserts that she learned years ago and required very adept handling that we weren't involved in doing, but you know, making hummus, different kinds of soups, appetizers, salads, borehole (sp?) with garlic and onions, lentil soup, all kinds of legumes. Yeah.

Steve Skrovan: Would you consider yourself a decent cook?

David Feldman: He was a cook in the army! Weren’t you a cook in the army?

Steve Skrovan: I said decent cook. [lots of laughter]

Ralph Nader: Yeah. That’s really cooking for volume, David. I once was involved in an effort of making banana bread for 24,000 soldiers.

David Feldman: Wow. That's a lot of bananas.

Ralph Nader: This is simple cooking. That's the great thing. These recipes are simple to follow. You can use your own judgment and vary it, and they involve ingredients that are available, with few exceptions, in all the grocery stores, and they're less expensive than heavy cuts of meat and pork.

Steve Skrovan: All right, very good. Thank you for your questions. Keep them coming on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website. I want to thank our guests again, Nurse Jean Ross and Dr. Bandy Lee. For those of you listening on the radio, that's our show. For you podcasts listeners, stay tuned for some bonus material we call "The Wrap Up". A transcript of this show will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website soon after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube channel, and for Ralph's weekly column, it's free; go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mokhiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: And Ralph has got three books out, 1) the fable, How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress. To acquire a copy of that, go to ratsreformcongress.org. 2) Fake President: Decoding Trump’s Gaslighting, Corruption and General Bullsh*t, co-written with Mark Green, and 3) The Ralph Nader and Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond. We will link to that also.

David Feldman: The producers or the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marran. Our executive producer is Alan Minsky.

Steve Skrovan: Our theme music, "Stand Up, Rise Up", was written and performed by Kemp Harris. Our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon; our intern is Michaela Squier.

David Feldman: Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour when we welcome back, one of the foremost experts in infectious disease, Dr. Michael Osterholm. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you everybody. And it's more important than ever for citizens to be all over Congress. We're going to try to have a resurgence here, learn from the defenseless posture of our country in the Covid-19 and get some real changes and it's all about Congress. And that's why I wrote this book. Just go to ratsreformcongress.org.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:48 am

National Nurses United Response To COVID-19
by National Nurses United
Accessed: 4/25/20



About the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

In December 2019, a newly identified coronavirus, known as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China causing illness in humans. Multiple clusters of COVID-19 have since been reported across China and in more than 70 other countries including Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the virus to be a nationwide health emergency following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020.

On January 21, 2020, China announced for the first time that health care workers have been infected- at least fourteen by recent counts. In recent days, dozens of U.S. health care workers have been exposed due to their employer’s lack of protections.

Health care workers need your help in the fight against COVID-19.
Click below to call for safer facilities, more PPE, and thank nurses for all that they do.


About COVID-19

While much has been learned about COVID-19 in a few weeks, there is still a lot we don’t know:

About the Virus

What is known: It is a coronavirus, which is a large family of viruses that can infect animals and/or humans. COVID-19 is similar to the viruses that cause SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).


What is known: Several published reports have established a basic picture of clinical symptoms and outcomes for those infected with COVID-19. These symptoms can include fever, cough, muscle soreness, weakness, diarrhea, headache, and other symptoms. While some symptoms appear to be common, there is also diversity in how COVID-19 manifests (Table 1).

Table 1: Symptoms of COVID-19 Reported in the Scientific Literature

Symptom / Huang et al. (Feb 15-21, 2020), report on 41 admitted hospital patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China[1] / Wang et al. (Feb 20, 2020), report on 105 patients with COVID-19 infections in North Shanghai, China [2] / Liang et al. (Feb 28, 2020), report on 457 patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19 identified from 7 studies[3]

Fever / 98% / 82.9% / 89%

Cough / 85% / 62.9% / 63%

Fatigue or weakness / 44% / 17.1% / 51%

Headache / 8% / Muscle soreness 6.7% / 8%

Diarrhea / 3% / 8.6% / 7%

Several additional reports underline the potential seriousness of a COVID-19 infection, including damage to lung tissue that has become characteristic to COVID-19. Shi et al. (Feb 24, 2020) describe this damage:

“COVID-19 pneumonia manifests with chest CT imaging abnormalities, even in asymptomatic patients, with rapid evolution from focal unilateral to diffuse bilateral ground-glass opacities that progressed or co-existed with consolidations within 1-3 weeks.”[4]

The Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC) reported recently that approximately 20% of COVID-19 cases are classified as severe or critical.[5] COVID-19 infections may result in life-threatening conditions including acute respiratory distress syndrome, acute kidney injury, cardiac injury, and liver dysfunction (Table 2) and may require hospitalization, intensive care, intubation, or other significant life-saving interventions. In some cases COVID-19 may lead to death; the Chinese CDC reported that 2.3% of confirmed COVID-19 cases died.[6] The World Health Organization’s reports indicate that 3.4% of reported cases have died.[7] There is currently no cure, only supportive treatment, and no vaccine.

Table 2: Clinical Outcomes of COVID-19 Reported in the Scientific Literature

Clinical progression/outcome / Yang et al. (Feb 24, 2020), report on 52 critically ill patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) in Wuhan, China[8] / Liang et al. (Feb 28, 2020), report on 457 patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19 identified from 7 studies[9]

Acute respiratory distress syndrome / 67% / 12%

Acute kidney injury / 29% / 2%

Cardiac injury / 23% / 3%

Liver dysfunction / 29% / -

Death / 61.5% at 28 days / 8%

[1] Huang et al. (Feb 15-21 2020), “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.” The Lancet, 395(10223): 497-506

[2] Wang, Changhui, et al. (Feb 20, 2020), “The Epidemiologic and Clinical Features of Suspected and Confirmed Cases of Imported 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia in North Shanghai, China.” Preprints with The Lancet, published online at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm ... id=3541125.

[3] Liang, Bo et al. (Feb 28, 2020), “Clinical Characteristics of 457 Cases with Coronavirus Disease 2019.” Preprints with The Lancet, published online at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm ... id=3543581.

[4] Shi, Heshui et al. (Feb 24, 2020), “Radiological findings from 81 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, published online, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lani ... 73-3099(20)30086-4/fulltext.

[5] Wu, Zunyou and Jennifer M. McGoogan (Feb 24, 2020), “Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72 314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.” JAMA, published online at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/f ... le/2762130.

[6] Wu, Zunyou and Jennifer M. McGoogan (Feb 24, 2020).

[7] The World Health Organization’s Situation Report from March 4, 2020 indicates that 2,984 deaths have been reported in China and 214 deaths have been reported outside of China for a total of 3,198 deaths. 3,198 deaths ÷ 93,090 total cases = 3.4%. World Health Organization (March 4, 2020), “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Situation Report-44.” Online at https://www.who.int/docs/default-source ... 783b4c9d_6.

[8] Yang, Xiaobo et al. (Feb 24, 2020), “Clinical course and outcomes of critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a single-centered, retrospective, observational study.” The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, published online, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanr ... 13-2600(20)30079-5/fulltext.

[9] Liang, Bo et al. (Feb 28, 2020).


What is known:

The virus is spread through human to human transmission. Asymptomatic cases are occurring and can be infectious. Two studies indicate that the most infectious period may actually be the first four days or so after exposure. Researchers found very high levels of the virus in upper respiratory tract samples before clinical symptoms occurred.[1,2]

What is unknown:

All modes of transmission for COVID-19 have yet to be established.

However, current epidemiological evidence supports aerosol transmission of COVID-19. Aerosols, particles suspended in air, can be transmitted by an infected person through breathing, talking, coughing, and sneezing.
[3] They can also be generated during medical procedures such as intubation and bronchoscopy. Particles vary in size; larger aerosol particles can remain suspended in the air for several minutes, while smaller or lighter ones can linger in the air for hours and travel through the room and ventilation systems. Perfume spray demonstrates the extent of aerosol distribution as it can be smelled from a distance for quite some time as the particles disperse throughout the room.


Similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), researchers have found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can survive and stay infectious in aerosols for at least 3 hours.[4] SARS-CoV-2 can also survive on surfaces for an extended period of time. For example, genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 was detected on a number of surfaces in the Diamond Princess cruise cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers 17 days after they vacated.[5] Asymptomatic virus shedding and viability in the air and on surfaces may explain the rapid person-to-person transmission. As such, all contact and airborne precautions must be maintained to protect healthcare workers.

[1] Woelfel, Roman et al. Clinical Presentation and Virological Assessment of Hospitalized Cases Of Coronavirus Disease 2019 In A Travel-Associated Transmission Cluster. MedRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.05.20030502

[2] Nishiura, Hiroshi, et al. Serial Interval of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infections. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Elsevier, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.02.060

[3] Jones, R.M. and L.M. Brosseau, Aerosol transmission of infectious disease. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2015. 57(5): p. 501-8.

[4] N van Doremalen, et al. Aerosol and surface stability of HCoV-19 (SARS-CoV-2) compared to SARS-CoV-1. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2020. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973.

[5] Moriarty, et al. Public Health Responses to COVID-19 Outbreaks on Cruise Ships — Worldwide, February–March 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6912e3

Additional Resources

The situation is evolving rapidly. Please see the links below for the most up-to-date information.

World Health Organization (WHO)’s Dashboard
https://experience.arcgis.com/experienc ... ee1b9125cd


Airborne precautions are needed for COVID-19.

Bourouiba, Lydia, “Turbulent Gas Clouds and Respiratory Pathogen Emissions: Potential Implications for Reducing Transmission of COVID-19,” JAMA, March 26, 2020, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/f ... le/2763852.


• This paper reported on what is known about disease transmission via respiratory droplets created by human exhalations, sneezes, and coughs.
• Droplet transmission was originally defined in 1897, large and small droplets defined in 1930s. This model of infectious disease transmission hasn’t been updated since. And yet, the CDC and WHO maintain use of this paradigm despite more recent research.
• More recent research over the past few decades performed with instrumentation that better measures particle sizes and movement has determined that human exhalations, coughs, and sneezes (the things that supposedly create large droplets under old model) are actually made of multiphase turbulent gas clouds (a puff) that entrains ambient air and traps and carries clusters of particles of a wide range of sizes.
• This includes viral particles in people who are sick.
• Pathogen-carrying gas clouds emitted when people breath, cough, and sneeze can travel up to 23-27 feet.

Patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 produce viral particles that can be aerosolized when they breath, cough, sneeze, etc.

Wolfel, Roman, et al., “Virological assessment of hospitalized patients with COVID-2019,” Nature, April 1, 2020, published online at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2196-x.


• This study examined viral loads and isolates for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The majority of patients in this study presented with upper respiratory tract symptoms. Viral loads from upper respiratory tract samples were extremely high (more than 1000 times higher than SARS). Live virus was isolated from upper respiratory tract tissues.
• Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said, “The findings [of this study] confirm that COVID-19 is spread simply through breathing, even without coughing… They also challenge the idea that contact with contaminated surfaces is a primary means of spread,” (emphasis added). http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspect ... 19-viruses.

Leung, Nancy H. L. et al. “ Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks,” Nature Medicine, April 3, 2020, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0843-2


This study examined viral presence and load in exhaled breath of patients with lab-confirmed influenza, seasonal coronaviruses, or rhinovirus.
Found viral presence in exhaled breath, even without cough, for all types of viruses in both droplet (>5 micron) and aerosol (<5 micron) particles.

SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive in the environment, including in the air.

Doremalen et al., “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1,” New England Journal of Medicine, April 16, 2020, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/N ... tured_home.


• This study examined how long SARS-CoV-2 can survive in aerosols suspended in the air and on surfaces of different types (metal, plastic, cardboard).
• They found that SARS-CoV-2 can survive up to three hours in aerosols, four hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard, 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel.
• The authors conclude, “Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of [SARs-CoV-2] is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days.” This study was conducted by NIH and CDC scientists in addition to UCLA and Princeton.

Chin, Alex W H et al. “Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions,” The Lancet Microbe, April 2, 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... via%3Dihub.


• This study examined the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to survive outside the human body in different environmental conditions.
They found that SARS-CoV-2 can survive outside the human body for up to 14 days at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, 7 days at 72 degrees Fahrenheit and remains infectious in both situations.
• They found that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on different surfaces:
o Printing and tissue papers- up to 3 hours
o Wood and cloth- up to 2 days
o Glass and banknote- up to 4 days
o Stainless steel and plastic- up to 7 days
o Surgical mask- detectable level of infectious virus found after 7 days on outer layer of mask

• They also tested the impact of different disinfectants, used at working concentrations, to successfully inactivate SARS-CoV-2:
o Household bleach (1:49)
o Household bleach (1:99)
o Ethanol (70%)
o Povidone-iodine (7.5%)
o Chloroxylenol (0.05%)
o Chlorhexidine (0.05%)
o Benzalkonium chloride (0.1%)

Fears, Alyssa C. et al. “Comparative dynamic aerosol efficiencies of three emergent coronaviruses and the unusual persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosol suspensions,” medxRiv, April 18, 2020, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 20063784v1


• This study looked at the viability of SARS-CoV-2 in suspended aerosols and found that SARS-CoV-2 remained infectious after 16 hours suspended in aerosols. This further reinforces airborne/aerosol transmission of SARS-2.
• The authors state: “Our approach of quantitative measurement of infectivity of viral airborne efficiency complemented by qualitative assessment of virion morphology leads us to conclude that SARS-CoV-2 is viable as an airborne pathogen.”

Environmental contamination

Guo, Zhen-Dong et al., “Aerosol and Surface Distribution of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in Hospital Wards, Wuhan, China, 2020,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, April 10, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/7/20-0885_article.


• This study looked at environmental contamination in an ICU and a general ward in hospital in China where patients with COVID-19 were placed.
• They found SARS-CoV-2 on many surfaces in patient rooms and on units, including doorknobs, bedrails, patient masks, computer mouse, keyboards, etc.
• Many positive results on floors not just in patient room but throughout the unit. 50% of the samples from the soles of healthcare workers’ shoes were positive.
• They also measured SARS-CoV-2 in air samples and found several air samples positive in addition to finding that the samples from the air outlets were positive for virus.

• Underlines nurses’ need for PPE!

Santarpia, Joshua L et al., “Transmission Potential of SARS-CoV-2 in Viral Shedding Observed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center,” medRxiv (pre-print), March 26, 2020, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 20039446v2.


• This study looked at the presence of virus in air samples taken in patient rooms in addition to environmental samples.
SARS-CoV-2 was found in a majority of air samples taken at greater than 6 ft from patient.
• SARS-CoV-2 was found in a majority of hallway air samples.
• SARS-CoV-2 was found in the air samplers worn by sampling personnel even when the patients did not cough.

Chia, Po Ying et al. “ Detection of Air and Surface Contamination by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Hospital Rooms of Infected Patients” medRxiv April 9, 2020, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 1.full.pdf


• This study examined surface and air contamination in airborne infection isolation rooms of patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections in Singapore.
• They found that 56.7% of the rooms had at least one environmental surface contaminated, with 18.5% of the toilet seats and toilet flush button being contaminated.
• High touch surface contamination was shown in ten (66.7%) out of 15 patients in the first week of illness, and three (20%) beyond the first week of illness (p = 0.010).

• Air sampling of two COVID-19 patients (both day 5 of symptoms) detected SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive particles of sizes >4 µm and 1-4 µm. In a single subject at day 9 of symptoms, no SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive particles were detected.

Protective PPE, including at minimum N95 respirators, gowns/coveralls, eye protection, and gloves, is important to protect nurses and other healthcare workers from exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Cheng, C.C. et al., (March 5, 2020), “Escalating infection control response to the rapidly evolving epidemiology of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong.” Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, March 2020, p 1-24 https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals ... DC747EB6EC


• Hong Kong has more effectively contained the outbreak of COVID-19 than many other countries. This study reports a description of infection control measures adopted during response to COVID-19 in Hong Kong.
• 42 of 1275 patients evaluated were identified as having COVID-19 in first 42 days of the outbreak.
• 11 of 413 (2.7%) healthcare workers caring for these patients had unprotected exposure requiring a 14-day quarantine.
• No healthcare workers were infected, no nosocomial transmission observed. Environmental surveillance of viral particles conducted- in breathing zone of patient, wipe samples from surfaces in patient rooms.
• Infection control measures implemented include:
o 36 patients immediately isolated upon admission in AIIRs, 6 in non-AIIR
o Standard, contact, droplets, and airborne precautions for suspected or confirmed cases
o Stepped up use of PPE during aerosol generating procedures
o Surgical masks worn by all HCWs, patients, and visitors in clinical areas implemented since day 5
o Promotion of hand hygiene by HCWs and patients

Wang, Xinghuan et al. “Association between 2019-nCoV transmission and N95 respirator use” J Hospital Infection, March 3, 2020, https://www.journalofhospitalinfection. ... 95-6701(20)30097-9/fulltext


• This study examined the infection rate in two groups of departments.
o Three departments were in the “mask group” because they utilized N95 respirators and also frequently performed hand hygiene (respiratory, ICU, and Infectious Disease).
o Three departments were in the “non-mask group” because early in the outbreak they hadn’t implemented precautions- staff did not wear masks and disinfected and cleaned hands “occasionally.”
• There were significantly more confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients cared for in the departments in the “mask group,” meaning workers in those units had significantly more exposure than the “non-mask group.”
• “Mask group” reported statistically significantly fewer infections than the “non-mask group.”
o 0 out of 278 staff in “mask group” were infected
o 10 out of 213 staff in “no mask group” were infected
o Difference was found to be statistically significant
• Found similar results in two other hospitals- staff wearing N95s and frequently conducting hand hygiene were not infected

Chen, Weiyun et al “ To Protect Healthcare Workers Better, To Save More Lives,” Anesthesia & Analgesia, March 30, 2020, https://journals.lww.com/anesthesia-ana ... 95724.aspx.


• This study reported on healthcare worker protections implemented in China during three phases.
• First stage- this was an unknown disease and healthcare workers were not protected. At this time, the infection rate ranged from 3.5% to 29% among healthcare workers in different hospitals in the epicenter of Wuhan according to previous reports, when the initial source of the novel coronavirus still remained unknown.
• Second stage- inadequate protection for healthcare workers due to supply shortages. During this period of time, the number of confirmed cases in China was still increasing rapidly. By February 11, 2020, a total of 1,716 health care workers were confirmed with COVID-19, including five deaths.
• Third stage- disease severity acknowledged and full protection of healthcare workers. “The highest level of precaution, so called “full precaution,” is mandatory for high-risk exposure, a disposable surgical cap, test-fit N95 masks or respirators, gloves, goggles or face shield, gown and fluid-resistant shoe covers. We would like to point out that the key element of full precaution is the complete coverage of the head and facial skin…” No healthcare worker infections reported in this third period.

Employers Must Prepare to Keep You Safe

In situations like this one where knowledge is lacking about a health threat, there is often debate about what actions to take and when. Too often healthcare employers prioritize saving money over safe care and wait to act— this is unacceptable.

Hospitals and other healthcare employers have the duty and responsibility to prepare ahead of time to protect staff and patients. And in situations like the current outbreak, to follow the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle states that we should not wait until we know for sure that something is harmful before we take action to protect people’s health. Full precautions mean anticipatory or protective action must be taken to prevent possible or further harm.

Following the precautionary principle is necessary to protecting nurses and other healthcare workers from the hazard posed by an emerging infectious disease like COVID-19. Nurses and other healthcare workers have a fundamental right to a safe and healthful workplace and infectious diseases should be no exception. Full protection of healthcare workers is a fundamental and necessary part of limiting the spread of viruses.

Of employers, NNU is asking the following:

1. Employers shall implement plans and protocols in response to COVID-19 based on the precautionary principle, which holds that lacking scientific consensus that a proposed action, policy, or act is not harmful – particularly if that harm has the potential to be catastrophic – such action, policy, or act should not be implemented and the maximum safeguards should be pursued.
2. Employers shall clearly communicate with all RNs/health care workers, including notifying nurses when there is a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case.
3. Employers shall provide education and training for all RNs/health care workers, including on protective gear, donning and doffing, and all other protocols relating to COVID-19.
4. Employers shall provide the highest level of protection, including functioning negative pressure rooms and personal protective equipment for nurses providing care to possible and confirmed COVID-19 cases. Employers must ensure negative pressure rooms remain functional at all times during use. Highest level of PPE must include PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator), coveralls meeting ASTM (American Standard for Testing and Materials) standard, gloves, temporary scrubs, and other protections.
5. Employers shall plan for surge of patients with possible or confirmed COVID-19, including plans to isolate, cohort, and to provide safe staffing.
6. Employers shall conduct a thorough investigation after a COVID patient is identified to ensure all staff and individuals who were exposed are identified and notified. Any nurse/health care worker who is exposed to COVID-19 will be placed on precautionary leave for at least 14 days and will maintain pay and other benefits during the full length of that leave.


• Learn more about NNU's nurse and patient protection recommendations (PDF)
• Download our NNU/National flier on protections at work for COVID-19 (PDF)
• Download our CNA/California flier on protections at work for COVID-19 (PDF)

Nurses' Statements

• March 24, 2020 - Statement by National Nurses United Nurses About Making Homemade Facemasks for Health Care Workers
• March 23, 2020 - Nurses Send Petition to Congress Demanding Immediate Protections During COVID-19 Outbreak
• March 23, 2020 - Union Workers in the Building Trades Donate Masks to Nurses Amidst Government Inaction
• March 21, 2020 - Nurses: California Needs to Do More on Protective Gear
• March 20, 2020 - Updated COVID-19 survey of registered nurses shows little improvement and worsening availability of personal protective equipment
• March 16, 2020 - Nurses: Time to sharply ramp up health care capacity for COVID-19
• March 14, 2020 - Nurses Say Eastern Maine Medical Center Has Addressed Many of Their Concerns Over COVID-19 Safety Preparations
• March 14, 2020 - Veterans Health Administration unions decry management’s failure to involve them in COVID-19 preparations, call to work together
• March 13, 2020 - National Nurses United statement on today’s Trump administration press conference
• March 11, 2020 - Recording of National Nurses United COVID-19 Update Call Available on Website
• March 5, 2020 - Survey of Nation’s Frontline Registered Nurses Shows Hospitals Unprepared For COVID-19
• March 5, 2020 - Statement by a quarantined nurse from a northern California Kaiser facility
• March 2, 2020 - National Nurses United Urges Administration, Congress to Protect Health Care Workers and Fully Fund Coronavirus Response
• March 2, 2020 - General Statement - California Nurses Association/National Nurses United Monitoring Coronavirus
• Feb 28, 2020 - Nation’s hospitals unprepared for COVID-19

Letters to Officials

• April 3, 2020 - Letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on N95 Decontamination as Unsafe Practice
• March 17, 2020 - Petition to Congress for Proper Nurses Protection During COVID-19
• March 11, 2020 - Letter to Sacramento County Department of Health Services on 14 Day Quarantine
• March 11, 2020 - Letter to California Department of Public Health
• March 11, 2020 - Letter to Committee on Homeland Security
• March 6, 2020 - Labor's Response to CDC Incident Manager for Coronavirus
• March 4, 2020 - Letter to CDC Incident Manager for Coronavirus
• March 4, 2020 - Letter to Secretary of Labor and Federal OSHA
• March 2, 2020 - Letter to Office of the Vice-President, Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Members of United States Senate and House of Representatives
• Feb 21, 2020 - Letter to Chief of Cal/OSHA
• Feb 19, 2020 - Letter to National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease
• Feb 19, 2020 - Letter to California Department of Public Health
• Jan 30, 2020 - Letter to the World Health Organization
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:45 pm

COVID-19 Masks



(Tianqi Chen)




























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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:48 am

Nurses hold White House protest over need for protective equipment in coronavirus fight: “We’re here because our colleagues are dying,” said Erica Jones, a nurse at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
'We're feeling like martyrs': Nurses hold White House protest over lack of protection
by Ali Vitali
April 21, 2020, 10:13 AM MST




WASHINGTON — Their numbers were small, but their message was powerful.

Nearly two dozen nurses from National Nurses United stood in protest outside the White House Tuesday, demanding more Personal Protective Equipment and a codification of protective standards as healthcare workers across the country find themselves underprepared on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.

“We’re here because our colleagues are dying,” Erica Jones, a nurse at Washington Hospital Center in D.C., told NBC News. Jones stood silently Tuesday as the names of 50 nurses who died from COVID-19 were read aloud in the shadow of the White House.

Nurses from National Nurses United protest in front of the White House on Tuesday. The group sought to bring attention to health care workers across the country who have contracted COVID-19 due to a lack of personal protective equipment.Patrick Semansky / AP

“I think that right now, people think of us as heroes. But we're feeling like martyrs, we're feeling like we're being left on the battlefield with nothing,” she said. “And I think that we should be paying more attention to what nurses and doctors and other health care workers are going through right now.”

They're calling on President Donald Trump to utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure healthcare workers have necessary supplies, including critical N95 masks and respirators, face shields and gloves. “We need these things to do our jobs,” Jones said. The NNU is also pushing for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish standards for health care workers during outbreaks of infectious disease.

“Right now what’s happening, in hospitals across this country, nurses are being told to reuse their N95 masks, not only their whole shift but for days or weeks on end. That is not safe,” Amirah Sequeira of National Nurses United said. “That is not protecting them, and it is not protecting their patients. We need an OSHA standards to tell hospitals that the reuse of N95 masks is unacceptable and unsafe.”

The nurses’ protest Tuesday was a different picture of public pressure than has been seen in recent weeks. It comes after several protests across the country, often led and organized by conservative groups, demanding states reopen business and commerce. Those protests have often featured attendees who are not wearing masks and are not abiding by social distancing practices.

By contrast, nurses on Tuesday stood on pre-marked blue tape X's on the ground so that they could be appropriately distanced. They all wore masks. Asked about the juxtaposition, Jones, the nurse protesting for protection on her day off, said, “I don't have a problem with people exercising their right to protest. I understand that the economy is very concerning for some people -- and for all of us really. But we also need to protect lives and protect ourselves.”

Ali Vitali is a political reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:50 am

U.S. Government COVID-19 Response Plan
March 13, 2020
Unclassified / For Official Use Only / Not for Public Distribution or Release



The following planning assumptions assisted in the development of an operational environment for this plan.

1. Universal susceptibility and exposure will significantly degrade the timelines and efficiency of response efforts.

2 . A pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness.

3. The spread and severity of COVID-19 will be difficult to forecast and characterize.

4. Increasing COVID-19 suspected or confirmed cases in the U.S. will result in increased hospitalizations among at-risk individuals, straining the healthcare system.

5. States will request federal assistance when requirements exceed state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) capabilities to respond to COVID-19. This may include requests for assistance of HHS through the HHS Region based on the scope of assistance available through an emergency supplemental appropriation and may include additional assistance under the Stafford Act.

6. Supply chain and transportation impacts due to ongoing COVID-19 outbreak will likely result in significant shortages for government, private sector, and individual U.S. consumers.

As the federal response to COVID-19 evolves beyond a public health and medical response, additional federal departments and agencies will be required to respond to the outbreak and secondary impacts, thereby increasing the need for coordination to ensure a unified, complete, and synchronized federal response.

Table of Contents PDF HERE

• Situation
o Purpose
o Background
o Threat
o Risk Assessment
o Facts
o Assumptions
o Critical Considerations
o Authorities
o Guiding Doctrine
• Mission
o Senior Leader Intent
 Purpose and End States
 Strategic Objectives
o Scope
o Roles and Responsibilities
• Execution
o Concept of Operations
 Interagency Coordination Constructs
 Phase Indicators and Triggers
 Lines of Effort
 Key Federal Decisions
 Interagency Support
• Sustainment
o Administration
o Resources
o Funding
• Communications, Coordination,and Oversight
o Communications
o Coordination
o Oversight
• Annex A . Task Organization
• Annex C . Operations
o USG Phasing Constructs
o Transitions Between Phases
o Preparing for Future Epidemic Trends Striking Balance Between Mitigation and
o Containment
o Appendix 1. Surveillance
o Appendix 2 . Communication and Public Outreach
o Appendix 3 . Healthcare Systems Preparedness and Resilience
o Appendix 4 .Medical Countermeasures Development
o Appendix 5. Supply Chain Stabilization
o Appendix 6 . Community Mitigation Measures
o Appendix 7. Continuity of Operations & Essential Services
• Annex D . Logistics
• Annex E. HHS Information Collection Plan
• Annex F. Federal Roles and Responsibilities
• Annex G . Regional Operational Coordination
• Annex X . Execution
• Annex Y . Glossary
o Definitions
o Acronyms
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Thu May 07, 2020 8:34 am

Coronavirus detected on particles of air pollution
Exclusive: Scientists examine whether this route enables infections at longer distances
by Damian Carrington, Environment editor @dpcarrington
The Guardian
Fri 24 Apr 2020 09.29 EDTLast modified on Fri 24 Apr 2020 14.10 EDT



Coronavirus has been detected on particles of air pollution by scientists investigating whether this could enable it to be carried over longer distances and increase the number of people infected.

The work is preliminary and it is not yet known if the virus remains viable on pollution particles and in sufficient quantity to cause disease.

The Italian scientists used standard techniques to collect outdoor air pollution samples at one urban and one industrial site in Bergamo province and identified a gene highly specific to Covid-19 in multiple samples. The detection was confirmed by blind testing at an independent laboratory.

Leonardo Setti at the University of Bologna in Italy, who led the work, said it was important to investigate if the virus could be carried more widely by air pollution.

“I am a scientist and I am worried when I don’t know,” he said. “If we know, we can find a solution. But if we don’t know, we can only suffer the consequences.”

Two other research groups have suggested air pollution particles could help coronavirus travel further in the air.

A statistical analysis by Setti’s team suggests higher levels of particle pollution could explain higher rates of infection in parts of northern Italy before a lockdown was imposed, an idea supported by another preliminary analysis. The region is one of the most polluted in Europe.

Neither of the studies by Setti’s team have been peer-reviewed and therefore have not been endorsed by independent scientists. But experts agree their proposal is plausible and requires investigation.

Previous studies have shown that air pollution particles do harbour microbes and that pollution is likely to have carried the viruses causing bird flu, measles and foot-and-mouth disease over considerable distances.

The potential role of air pollution particles is linked to the broader question of how the coronavirus is transmitted. Large virus-laden droplets from infected people’s coughs and sneezes fall to the ground within a metre or two. But much smaller droplets, less than 5 microns in diameter, can remain in the air for minutes to hours and travel further.

Experts are not sure whether these tiny airborne droplets can cause coronavirus infections, though they know the 2003 Sars coronavirus was spread in the air and that the new virus can remain viable for hours in tiny droplets.

But researchers say the importance of potential airborne transmission, and the possible boosting role of pollution particles, mean it must not be ruled out without evidence.

Prof Jonathan Reid at Bristol University in the UK is researching airborne transmission of coronavirus. “It is perhaps not surprising that while suspended in air, the small droplets could combine with background urban particles and be carried around.”

He said the virus had been detected in tiny droplets collected indoors in China.

Setti said tiny droplets between 0.1 and 1 micron may travel further when coalesced with pollution particles up to 10 microns than on their own. This is because the combined particle is larger and less dense than the droplet and can remain buoyed by the air for longer.

“The pollution particle is like a micro-airplane and the passengers are the droplets,” said Sett. Reid is more cautious: “I think the very small change in the size of the [combined] particles is unlikely to play much of a role.”

Prof Frank Kelly at Imperial College London said the idea of pollution particles carrying the virus further afield was an interesting one. “It is possible, but I would like to see this work repeated by two or three groups.”

Another expert, Prof John Sodeau at University College Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, said: “The work seems plausible. But that is the bottom line at the moment, and plausible [particle] interactions are not always biologically viable and may have no effect in the atmosphere.” He said the normal course of scientific research might take two or three years to confirm such findings.

Other research has indicated correlations between increased Covid-19 deaths and higher levels of air pollution before the pandemic. Long-term exposure to dirty air is known to damage lung health, which could make people more vulnerable to Covid-19.
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