The second wave of the coronavirus will likely be worse because it will coincide with the flu season, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control told the Washington Post in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Redfield told the Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean. We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”
Reminder: The worst months for the 1918 flu were September and October — especially October, when more than 195,000 Americans died from the second wave. More recently, the Post reminds us, “During the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, the United States experienced the first wave of cases in the spring, followed by a second, larger wave in the fall and winter, during flu season.”
One easy thing we could do to help in the autumn: Get a flu vaccination, Redfield said, because that simple decision “may allow there to be a hospital bed available for your mother or grandmother that may get coronavirus.”
Redfield’s short- and mid-term advice for those of us eager for normalcy? “As stay-at-home orders are lifted, [federal, state and local] officials need to stress the continued importance of social distancing…They also need to massively scale up their ability to identify the infected through testing and find everyone they interact with through contact tracing.”
And the U.S. still needs about 100,000 more of those contact tracers, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. That means hiring and training 100,000 more full-time public-health employees. “While this figure may be stunning," the authors write, "it is still the equivalent of less than half the number employed in Wuhan City.”
Related: Tech-assisted contact tracing is coming. "Apple and Google announced last week that they will roll out technology that will use Bluetooth on people's phones to detect when they have come into contact with individuals diagnosed with the virus," Politico reported Tuesday, with the following expected caveat: "The technology could be a critical tool, reducing the number of people needed to track the spread of the virus. But civil liberties groups already have a long list of concerns."
"It's very important we have a refreshed and comprehensive stockpile [of ventilators] going into the fall," White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Deborah Birx said Tuesday at the WH’s daily presser.
When asked if she, too, thought the second wave would be worse, she replied that she couldn’t really say.
- “I don’t know if it will be worse. I think this has been pretty bad. When you see what has happened in New York, that was very bad. I believe that we’ll have early warning signals both from our surveillance that we’ve been talking about on the vulnerable populations. We’re going to continue that surveillance from now all the way through the fall to be able to give us that early warning signal.”
New York City is creating a “strategic reserve of medical supplies and equipment” to protect against the next pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Notable: Some U.S. cities and smaller states appear to be recovering pretty well to date, Birx also said Tuesday. That includes NYC. It also includes Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Baltimore, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit and New Orleans, too — as well as Rhode Island and Connecticut.
And the state of Missouri just became the first to attempt to sue the Chinese government over coronavirus-related economic losses, Reuters reported. Legal experts told Reuters the doctrine of “sovereign immunity” will keep this suit from being anything more than an attempt to score political points ahead of the November election. Said one international law professor bluntly, “There is no civil jurisdiction over such claims in U.S. courts.” Coverage continues below the fold.
From Defense One
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Lockheed Martin Expects Coronavirus to Delay F-35 Deliveries // Marcus Weisgerber: Although the company still forecasts an increase in sales, the delays could cost $375 million.
‘Reopen’ Protestors Are A Minority Whom Public-Health Experts Say Threaten the Majority // Katie Bo Williams: Trump praises the movement even as Fauci warns that reopening too soon will delay economic recovery.
The Defense Department Needs a Real Technology Strategy // Paul Scharre and Ainikki Riikonen: To succeed in a long-term competition with China, the Department needs a transparent process to set spending priorities — not conflicting guidance and a shifting range of interests.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1956, live coverage of the so-called "Red Scare" McCarthy hearings concerning suspected security risks of alleged Communists inside the U.S. Army began airing on TV.
The Senate passed a $484 billion interim coronavirus bill by voice vote on Tuesday. The bill would send funds to the exhausted small-business loan program, and more money would go toward hospitals and additional COVID-19 testing. USA Today reports “The legislation will now head to the House, where it's scheduled to be taken up Thursday.”
Hundreds of House lawmakers are expected to fly to D.C. Thursday to make sure the bill passes. They’re also “expected to vote on a change in its rules that would allow lawmakers to vote by proxy, a process that would allow another lawmaker to vote on their behalf to prevent travel and risking further spread of the coronavirus,” USA Today writes.
By the way: Here are two revealing reports from Tuesday about COVID-19, public safety and the American mood:
- “Virus misinformation flourishes in online protest groups.” That comes via the Associated Press; and
- “How Trump allies have organized and promoted anti-lockdown protests,” from Reuters.
From the latter report, we learn that “In Michigan, the organizers of last week’s rally against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic are involved in the Republican president’s re-election effort, a Reuters review of their profiles and interviews with them show.”
The AP report zeroes in on a "loose network of Facebook groups spurring protests of stay-at-home orders across the country." The group pages were "Launched in recent weeks by pro-gun advocacy groups and conservative activists," and perhaps unsurprisingly, "the pages are repositories of Americans’ suspicion and anxiety — often fueled by notions floated by television personalities or President Donald Trump himself and amplified by social media accounts."
In related tech news, Facebook now says it will ban “Events [promoted on its platform] that defy government’s guidance on social distancing,” though AP reports company officials “did not explain how it would evaluate whether the events violate local ordinances.”
Now for some public opinion numbers:
- “72% of adults in the United States said people should stay at home ‘until the doctors and public health officials say it is safe,’” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Tuesday. “That included 88% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans, and seven in 10 independents.”
- From that same poll, it would seem Republicans on the whole are getting increasingly anxious: “45% of Republicans said stay-at-home orders should be lifted to get the economy going again, up from 24% of Republicans who said the same thing in a similar poll that ran March 30-31.”
- Across the nation, 66% of Americans are more worried that the government will ease restrictions on public activity too quickly, according to a Pew poll from last week.
- And even among Republicans polled by Pew, a very slight majority — 51% compared to 46% — worry that state governments will act too quickly to lift restrictions.
Said CDC Director Redfield about the protests against stay-at-home orders this weekend: “It’s not helpful,” he told WaPo on Tuesday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top government official on infectious diseases, warned Monday on “Good Morning America” that the protests would “backfire” and delay economic recovery by allowing COVID-19 to spread more widely, Defense One's Katie Bo Williams reported on Tuesday.
“Clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen... if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,” he said. “So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem.” More from Williams, here.
One last thing: There were in fact more deaths and no benefit from that malaria drug — hydroxychloroquine — that President Trump promoted multiple times without any supporting evidence, AP reported Tuesday off a new study.
Caveat: “The nationwide study [here] was not a rigorous experiment,” AP writes. “But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19.”
Said Trump of the findings when asked Tuesday evening by reporters: “I don’t know of the report. Obviously, there have been some very good reports and perhaps this one is not a good report. But we’ll be looking at it.” Find the full transcript from the Coronavirus Task Force’s presser, here.
Fightin’ tweet. A week ago, 11 Iranian boats harassed U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, one zooming to within 10 yards of a Coast Guard cutter. This morning, Trump tweeted: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” It is not clear whether he actually issued any such instruction, which would likely violate international laws of war.
Michael Mulroy, the Pentagon's Middle East policy chief until December, told Politico: "The U.S. Navy has clear rules of engagement issued by the chain of command and reviewed to ensure they are consistent with all applicable laws of the sea and armed conflict," said "Any Iranian actions that directly threatens our naval vessels and their crew will be dealt with based on those rules of engagement." But the U.S. has not defined harassment as a "direct threat," he noted.
On Tuesday we learned U.S. airmen stayed on al-Assad base in Iraq even after warnings of impending Iranian missiles. Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force released a compilation of first-person accounts of the Jan. 8 attack on the base in Iraq that injured at least 109 U.S. troops. (The attack was a reprisal for the targeted killing of the IRGC’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani.)
“Within a matter of hours, leaders at the squadron level had to decide which Airmen should evacuate, and which should stay for mission continuity,” wrote Maj. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich in the first entry. Read on, here.
Australia’s navy just joined three U.S. warships operating in the South China Sea, Reuters reports today from Malaysia. And the U.S. ships — the amphibious assault ship USS America, the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, and the destroyer USS Barry — are exercising with Australia’s frigate HMAS Parramatta “near an area of a stand-off between China and Malaysia,” Reuters reported separately on Tuesday.
Regional context:“The Haiyang Dizhi 8, a Chinese government research ship, was spotted last week conducting a survey close to an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas, months after it undertook a similar patrol off Vietnam.” For the record, “China has denied reports of a stand-off, saying that the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was conducting normal activities.”
The official U.S. line: "Through our continued operational presence in the South China Sea, we are working … to promote freedom of navigation and overflight, and the international principles that underpin security and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific," said a U.S. military spokeswoman with Indo-Pacific Command. "The US supports the efforts of our allies and partners to determine their own economic interests," she added. More here.
As always, for the latest in South China Sea developments, Greg Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies is a great follow on Twitter.
And finally today: Review the “Salafi-jihadi ecosystem in the Sahel” via a new report from the American Enterprise Institute's Katherine Zimmerman. Observe the growth and spread of terrorist groups and the relationship between al-Qaeda and ISIS.
In short: “The governments are effectively absent from the peripheries of their countries,” Zimmerman writes. “This is where the Salafi-jihadi groups are growing.” More — including interactive graphics — here.