Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: March 4, 2020

5 03 2020

How US Companies Will Profit Off this Public Health Crisis

Today I had to run down to the Texas Medical Center to see my rheumatologist.  For those of you who don’t know me or don’t know my history, I am on immunosuppressants.  I was curious to see what was going on in the heartbeat of Houston’s best and finest.  Not a damn thing different.  No one was pushing the elevator buttons with their Kleenex; no visitors were washing their hands any better in the restroom.  It was reassuring. 

Before I left to go down there (which is like a 4-hour commitment for me), I saw a segment on my favorite local TV station, Fox 26 Houston, about myths people were writing about COVID-19 and the facts.  I thought that might make a great blog for today.   The mayor’s FB page is RICH with misunderstandings (the one I found the other day, in fact, how a coronavirus test can be positive without it being the China version).  Then when I got home, I saw a post from a friend Michael, from another local news station about a 70-year-old man in Fort Bend County (which is southwest of downtown Houston) who they are certain is positive for COVID-19 (just got back from an extensive overseas trip), and they were awaiting confirmation. 

But then I saw why the stock market was rallying today:  Greedy bastards with their tongues hanging out who plan to profit off this horrible public health crisis.  Read below about the involvement of private companies like Quest Laboratories.  Don’t be surprised if you get the $3000 bill that your insurance won’t cover should you need a test.  Osmel Martinez Azcue had returned from China to Miami.  He was worried about the coronavirus.  Jackson Memorial Hospital told him he needed a “CT scan” to see if he had this.  He said he would have to pay out of pocket for this so asked for a flu test first, which they did, which was positive.  He later received a bill for a test for the flu for $3200 plus the small amount of time someone was saw him in the ER.  I’m glad he didn’t have a CT scan because that could have been $20,000 or more.  Mine was $30,000 for a different thing.  Once you send this out to for-profit companies, you are going to see the internet light up with people taking pictures of what they were billed for the test.  And Quest is an outpatient facility.  Do you really want to sit next to someone coming in to get tested for COVID-19 and you don’t know it?  They obviously haven’t really thought this through.  Hospitals have their own laboratories. 

Later I saw a news conference. I will have to say that Dr. Deborah Birx, the Obama appointee who VP Pence put in charge of the virus effort, after Trump put him in charge of it, was making VP Pence look pretty competent.  As he is talking, you see her in the background nodding her head (as if she herself wrote most of those talking points…up to a point…then her nodding stopped…until he said, “whole of America approach.). 

All my comments will be in bold italics.  

VP Pence:  “All state laboratories and all university laboratories at the state level can conduct coronavirus tests without any additional assets or resources from the federal government.  They have the FDA approved test; they can conduct the test all across the country in all the states.”  (Hmmm.. Does he mean that FDA/CDC flawed test or have they fixed the flawed test? He doesn’t say).  VP Pence continues: “Beyond that, as we announced, through the efforts of HHS, 2500 kits of tests are going out this week… (then he corrects himself) …2500 kits including tests has gone out this week, that’s roughly 1.5 million (WHICH IS ABOUT THE POPULATION SIZE OF PHILADELPHIA).  VP Pence continues: “A test that will available this week, we will continue to build on that number.  But perhaps most significantly, thanks to Dr. Birx’s effort and leadership, we brought together today at the White House the leaders of all of the largest commercial laboratories in this country, companies like Quest who have vast capabilities, logistic and testing capabilities, and we were pleased to report today that they have created a consortium to share information and to share resources and literally have told us that as they go through what is called the validation process on testing that by next week individual companies will be able to do, as they said to me, thousands of tests of coronavirus if they are needed and are required and many many multiples more of that in the not-distant future.  Our objective here is Dr. Birx raised with the task force is we’ve got hospitals in affected areas and those are requesting they have kits.  We’ve got universities and state labs that now can perform the test on a requested basis.  But our objective ultimately, and as quickly as possible, is to have tests made through these commercial laboratories (cough, cough – for profit – your dime), and commercial providers that your local doctor, your CVS (okay so Minute Clinic might have COVID-19 patients now, or will pharmacists be doing that along with vaccines—unless they are thinking of drive-through like South Korea has with hazmat suits??), your Med-Check is able to have coronavirus tests.  That isn’t there yet.  We are working to make that a reality but again it is one more example—its not just a whole of government approach—it’s a whole of America approach (until you get the bill & their profit in a big way or bankrupt a whole family who has to get tested especially if they have no insurance).   Whether it be our nursing home industry or it be our airline industry or whether it be our commercial laboratories, I can (he stutters for a minute) on behalf of President Trump and our entire task force when I say we are profoundly grateful for the spirit—this being reflected by the companies all across the United States of America, grateful for the leadership at the state level, and the American people should be confident (in your pending bankruptcy) that that spirit of partnership is going to continue to drive this at every level as we work our way through dealing with the coronavirus in the United States.   End of VP Pence’s speech. 

Then they were going to let Dr. Birx speak but the segment was interrupted. 

So, there we are—how America will be profiting off this public health crisis. 

The CDC is still showing their incompetence.  This is what their website shows today.  The correct amount is 152 confirmed cases.  Even if they were just going by YESTERDAY’S (March 3) TOTAL, that one was 118 confirmed cases.  ARGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

And the tally updates: 

There are now 80 countries with some level of confirmed cases.  There are now 152 cases confirmed in the United States (remember, not that there were more infected, but more are just testing positive).  This information was valid as of 10:43 p.m. Eastern Time on March 4. 

All countries on the list have still seen a rise in confirmed cases, the most still being China.  Today, countries not having new confirmed cases (that doesn’t mean there aren’t people infected, just that they don’t have updates in their confirmations) were:  Afghanistan, Armenia, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Dominic Republic, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, Gibraltar, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia,  Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Saint-Barthelemy, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Vietnam. 

New to the list are:  Estonia, Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Hungary and Poland.


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