September 2020 Covid-19 Update
- Covid-19 has killed 1 million people worldwide.
- With more than 7 million cases and 200,000 dead, the US has the most cases and deaths from coronavirus.
- Central and South American countries are now reporting the fastest growth of outbreaks and deaths.
- The US could see an explosion of COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter as people exercise less caution and spend more time indoors, where there is a greater likelihood of transmission.
- The US should have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for Americans to return to “regular life” by summer or fall of 2021.
- Read the details in Tod’s Coronavirus Timeline.
The end of September saw the first Presidential debate between Trump and Biden. Biden goes into the debate with a slight lead in the polls.
The New York Times published a story saying that President Trump paid only $750 in taxes while being President, and paid no income taxes for 10 of the last 15 years. Trump denied the story, and called it “fake news”. A few hours later, Biden’s campaign started selling merchandise – T-shirts, buttons, and stickers – that say “I paid more income taxes than Donald Trump.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg Dies
The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg put extra significance on the upcoming election. Only days before her death she said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Trump quickly nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy. Democrats have threatened to boycott the nomication heardings, but Senate Republicans are moving ahead with this nomination despite the impending election and claims they made in 2016 about not confirming a judge during an election year.
Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, is the latest prominent conservative to urge Republicans to cross party lines and support Joe Biden for president.
K-shaped Economic Recovery Curve
As the economy struggles to shake off the pandemic effects, worries are growing that the recovery could look like a K – where the wealthy see continued increases driven by the stock market, while the real economy dives for other people. One obvious area of concern is the dichotomy of the stock market vs the real economy, especially considering that 52% of the market is owned by the top 1% of earners.
“The K-shaped recovery is just a reiteration of what we called the bifurcation of the economy during the Great Financial Crisis. It really is about the growing inequality since the early 1980s across the country and the economy,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM. “When we talk K, the upper path of the K is clearly financial markets, the lower path is the real economy, and the two are separated.”
Black Lives Matter
Kenosha, Wisconsin Shooting
Winsconsin burned, and pro sports teams walked out of televised games in protest over a black man who was shot after he fought with police and then tried to leave the scene in his car.
Breonna Taylor Shooting
Breonna Taylor was shot and killed inside her Louisville apartment by Louisville Metro police officers. According to LMPD, officers were executing a no-knock search warrant at Taylor’s apartment as part of a drug investigation.
Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired towards the door thinking it was a break-in. His shot hit officer Johnathan Mattingly in the leg. Officer Myles Cosgrove and former officer Brett Hankison opened fire into the apartment. Taylor was struck multiple times. A grand jury indicted one of the officers for “wantonly” shooting into an adjoining apartment, but not for shooting Taylor. Rioters took to the streets across the US, disappointed that the officers were not indicted for her death.
Defund the Police Movement
In the name of racial justice, “Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.
The co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement said defunding the police means reallocating those funds to support people and services in marginalized communities, and it “means that we are reducing the ability for law enforcement to have resources that harm our communities. It’s about reinvesting those dollars into black communities, communities that have been deeply divested from.”
Those dollars can be put back into social services for mental health, domestic violence and homelessness, among others. Police are often the first responders to all three,
Dallas Police Budget Mostly Intact
In Dalllas, city officials are under pressure from two factions lobbying them on the next police budget: Social justice activists who want them to hack off a large chunk, and a contingent led by the mayor who want it untouched. But of the $3.8 billion city budget, money for police is expected to be largely intact. And Dallas will fall in line with most other large Texas cities that have rejected loud calls to “defund the police.” The Dallas police overtime pay budget will be cut by $6M, and diverted to other public safety programs including:
- $3.8 million to hire 95 civilians for the police department so officers can leave desk jobs and return to patrolling the streets.
- $1.5 million for street lighting to deter crime.
- $750,000 to address illegal dumping.
- $600,000 to address drivers of poverty.
- $300,000 for violence interrupters.
The Democratic governor of California signed an executive order to establish regulations requiring all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California have zero emissions by 2035. California has long been a leader on fuel economy, forcing automakers to build more efficient vehicles than required by federal standards.
The Golden State is the world’s fifth-largest economy, with more than half of its emissions stemming from the transportation sector, so the move is expected to significantly help reduce tailpipe pollution from vehicles with internal combustion engines.
The move comes as California experiences historic wildfires that have consumed more than 3.6 million acres this year already.
California Is On Fire
More than 80 major fires that have burned more than 4,200 square miles – the size of 14 New York Cities – are raging in 13 Western states. .Firefighters battle more than two dozen wildfires during a record heatwave in California. In Oregon, almost 100,000 homes and businesses were without power as crews battled large fires south of Portland. Washington state was seeing ‘unprecedented’ fires, with 500 square miles burning in one day. Several weeks of fire season remain across a region plagued by high heat and parched terrain.
Cyber Attack Disrupts US Hospitals
A suspected ransomware attack at Universal Health Services Inc., which operates more than 250 hospitals and clinics in the US, put healthcare across the US into chaos Monday, with treatment impeded as doctors and nurses already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic were forced to rely on paper backup systems. Criminals have been increasingly targeting health care institutions with ransomware during the pandemic, infecting networks with malicious code that scrambles data. To unlock it, they demand payment.
The US 911 system was down for about an hour Monday night, although the incidents have not yet been connected.