Whose Hands Are the Bloodiest?
By Steven Longenecker
Here in Washington, D.C., we are the only regional “red spot” still locked down on the national reopening map.
We were one of the first to shutter businesses and schools… and one of the last to loosen restrictions. But barring a last-minute surge in COVID-19 cases, the lift on the lockdown is expected to start tomorrow…
It is political suicide to question why it has gone on so much longer than surrounding states.
We have had 8,400 COVID-19 positives in the District. The hospitals here were never near overflowing. And out of the roughly 445 deaths, about 150 were in nursing home and long-term care facilities. The vast majority of the rest were elderly or had serious pre-existing conditions.
Around the nation, the situation is much the same. Nearly 100,000 deaths are attributed to the virus… while the government’s response has devastated millions.
So whose hands in America are the bloodiest? That’s the question on our minds today…
There were few overwhelmed hospitals in America. In fact, most have laid off nurses and doctors because they cannot perform other procedures.
The “curve” has been flattened below the health care system’s capacity for weeks – the original intent of the lockdown.
And as in D.C., a huge portion of COVID-19 deaths have been in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. While tragic, these folks weren’t affected by the widespread lockdown whatsoever.
To be clear, these statistics are not secret.
The best and latest widespread sampling data that we have in America is from my home state of Indiana…
Researchers tested 4,600 Hoosiers between April 25 and May 1. At the time, there were 17,000 known COVID-19 cases in Indiana. But their research showed that at least 186,000 in Indiana were actually positive for COVID-19… 11 times more than initially confirmed.
That means that all the headlines of 5% to 8% mortality rates are completely overdone. Instead, the true infection-fatality rate in Indiana is 0.58%.
In addition, when you compare this data with the known death rates by age, it’s clear that only a certain segment of the population should fear COVID-19… namely, older folks.
- 75% of deaths are in folks older than 70.
- 91% of deaths are in folks older than 60.
- 97% of deaths are in folks older than 50.
Again, these numbers are not secret.
But they are ignored by the vast majority of journalists… perhaps no surprise considering how politicized the pandemic has become.
So instead, the exceptions are massively overemphasized by a fearmongering media. Headlines blare about the deaths of 20- and 30-year-olds… even children. But the fact is, they’re incredibly rare. And because the lockdowns kept younger folks from getting infected (and becoming immune) they may well have done more harm than good in prolonging the pandemic.
We suspect that folks will argue about this for years to come. After all, the full toll of the virus – and the lockdowns – is still unknown.
Our takeaway is simple: The older you are, the more seriously you should treat COVID-19. Everyone else should live their life as usual… wearing a mask if you like and with more handwashing than before, especially if you’re in contact with older folks.
But that’s the exact opposite tactic that some politicians took…
Every Single New York Serial Killer
While many states rushed to confine low-risk groups and close schools, some required nursing homes to take in folks with active COVID-19 infections. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s actions, in particular, have led to at least 5,000 deaths in his state’s elderly care facilities… and perhaps many more.
As executive editor Buck Sexton wrote last week…
The same Governor Cuomo who was lecturing the country on how “every life is precious” made an unfathomable decision back in March. The Governor signed an order that nursing homes must take patients back from hospitals, even if they were believed to still be carriers of the disease.
How many of those deaths could have been avoided?
Our math shows there is likely more blood on Governor Cuomo’s hands with this one decision than that of every single serial killer who has ever murdered in the 244-year history of New York State, combined.
And New York has taken steps to conceal the total number of deaths due to Cuomo’s decision. Fox News reports…
At the outset of the pandemic, New York reported how many nursing home residents died from COVID-19, whether they died at the home or after being hospitalized. That’s standard. But as the toll escalated, the state Health Department quietly shifted to reporting only deaths at the homes, omitting those who succumbed after going to a hospital.
It’s likely 10,000 nursing home residents have died in New York from COVID-19, about double what the Cuomo administration is reporting. That estimate has also been put forward by health care think tank American Commitment.
New York stuck with its troubling policy until May 10 – long past the carnage was made clear.
Why? As usual, the answer is likely money…
The Guardian reports that a last-minute flood of cash from the Greater New York Hospital Association (“GNYHA”) boosted Cuomo’s bid to win New York’s 2018 Democratic primary.
And of course, all cash comes with strings.
In this case, a broad, aggressive shield for hospitals and nursing homes from the threat of coronavirus lawsuits that gives “immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained.” This new law was drafted by lobbyists at GNYHA…
The immunity provision in Cuomo’s budget came 18 months after the GNYHA delivered $1.25 million to the Cuomo-controlled New York State Democratic committee that was supporting the governor’s re-election bid…
In all, during the governor’s second term, Cuomo’s campaign and his state party committee raked in more than $2.3 million from hospital and nursing home industry donors and their lobbying firms, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics.
We’re sure the bereaved families of folks who have passed away in nursing homes will be happy that their loved ones’ deaths only cost a donation of a few hundred dollars each… hardly enough to pay for a floral arrangement at their funeral.
As far as we can tell, most U.S. presidents who have sent their men to war have cleaner hands than Cuomo… including combat deaths in the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War, and the Iraq War.
And yet, Cuomo’s hands will likely be seen as practically spotless in comparison to the ultimate and inevitable conclusion of the disastrous policies being enacted at a national level.
After all, while governors might kill thousands, debt has ended empires.
More on that next week. Today, we must return our focus to the immediate results of the pandemic response…
A Recession or a Depression?
There is a danger in the bifurcated nature of this crisis…
As President Ronald Reagan noted shortly before the 1980 presidential election, “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours.”
The Federal Reserve recently reported that 40% of folks making under $40,000 lost their jobs in March. That number, of course, is far higher now… considering that another 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April and another 8 million have lost their jobs so far in May.
All told, more than 36 million Americans are out of work. And it’s safe to say that more than half of the poorest folks in this nation are experiencing a personal depression.
For now, unemployment benefits are likely paying roughly what they were making prior, if not more. But what happens when that runs out… and they wake up to a reality where hundreds of thousands of businesses across America are out of business?
Many of these COVID-19 job losses aren’t coming back – and certainly not quickly…
A recent paper from economists at the University of Chicago predicts that four in 10 of jobs eliminated in this pandemic are gone for good. That’s more than 10 million Americans – roughly 8% of the pre-COVID-19 total workforce.
Restaurant-reservation provider OpenTable expects that one in every four U.S. restaurants will go out of business due to quarantines. That’s 165,000 restaurants… and 165,000 families whose dreams of American prosperity are crushed.
Facebook recently surveyed thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses and found that among the closed, one-third expected to never reopen, thanks to the government lockdown. If that holds true around the nation, it means that up to 10 million small firms… employing roughly 15% of the nation’s workers… are gone for good.
And even for those who have kept their jobs, they may be getting paid less. Bloomberg reports that companies across the nation are cutting salaries – many by an average of 10% to 15%. So we expect some necessary tightening of belts even in households with no job losses.
As we wrote in early April, Main Street might never come back…
Word from the financial geniuses and political class is that this will all be temporary – a pause of sorts. We suspect that’s likely correct when it comes to certain businesses… the stalwart blue chips that have been around for a hundred years, and will be around for a hundred more.
But for entrepreneurs and Main Street folks – essentially anyone who has the bulk of their net worth tied up in a single small business, whether a small auto-parts supplier, boutique retailer, or local restaurant – this disaster will be crushing. Any help they get is likely to have long government strings attached.
We have begged you, time after time, to own the businesses that will survive this crisis…
Where do you think the trillions of dollars from Uncle Sam are flowing… to the barber shop on the corner that the government has forced to close… or to a massive blue-chip giant that is either deemed “essential” or that has enough capital and government connections to keep the revenue coming in?
You must be an investor in the big blue-chip companies that will survive and even thrive coming out of this coronavirus crisis. Main Street has been crushed. And it might not come back.
Since we wrote those words, the benchmark S&P 500 Index has climbed more than 20%… and many of the most stalwart blue chips have rallied far more.
This pandemic was an opportunity for many… for politicians, for lobbyists, for Wall Street… and hopefully for your investments as well, provided that you have followed the only three constants we have focused on since we started this magazine: Pay off debt. Save rather than spend. Invest in strong businesses.
Still, we would be remiss not to add one more today…
How to Know the Crash Was Coming… and What Happens Next
We wrote on Monday that a select group of investors received an e-mail or phone text a week before the market meltdown, on February 27, saying “SELL.”
That text was triggered by a piece of computer code from a financial software company. And many of those investors were able to sell their stocks and lock in profits before the 30% plunge that followed – saving thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even more important, this group of investors also knows the exact day to buy back into those same stocks… and tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time, you too can learn all the details of this unique strategy.
In addition, when you RSVP with your e-mail address, you’ll immediately receive a copy of a brand-new report exposing five stocks that could plunge in the coming months… and may not survive this crisis at all.
It’s possible that you own one or more of these stocks… and they could cost you big. The report is called Five Ticking Time Bombs In Your Portfolio, and it’s yours, free, to review as soon as you reserve your seat.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
Beating up the numbers: The loose definition and inflated tally of COVID-19 deaths
How a man who drank himself to death shamed a state health department into more transparent record keeping – and what it could mean for nationwide coronavirus mortality statistics.
Hertz paid top executives $16 million in bonuses ahead of its bankruptcy filing
The car rental company let go of 14,300 of its workers since April 14 – nearly half its staff. Hertz has serious financial problems that have been exacerbated by the plunge in air travel in recent months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Inside hackers’ pivot to medical espionage
U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese government-affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus.
NASA: We’re going back to the moon, and beyond
We are working with American companies to deliver new science and technology payloads to the lunar surface on commercial robotic flights beginning next year, paving the way for a human return in 2024.
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
May 28, 2020