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COVID-19 Update 14, June 8

With the COVID-19 mortality rate nearly 6 times higher than the rest of the country (586.7/M vs 102.2/M), what has gone wrong in Québec? From the beginning of the pandemic there have been complaints of shortages of staff, personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, of incompetence and mismanagement by the provincial government.

“Burnt-out health-care workers in Montreal warn of mass exodus, with no end in sight to mandatory redeployment to CHSLDs.” CBC, June 6. * It’s been over a month on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 for Julia, a speech language pathologist in west end Montreal. The army is withdrawing soldiers deployed to the long-term care home where she’s working, but for her, there’s no end in sight. * In late April, Julia was one of about 1,300 “involuntary deployments” — people in health-care related fields conscripted to work in long-term care homes to make up for a critical shortage of staff as the pandemic ripped through them. Nearly 5,000 Quebecers have now died of COVID-19, 68 per cent of them residents of long-term care institutions, known as CHSLDs. * Speech therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and psychologists are among those reassigned to work as aides to patient attendants by regional health authorities in Montreal and Laval. Some, exhausted and burnt out, are now questioning their future in the Quebec healthcare system. * CBC News has seen the schedule, which would see physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and kinesiologists continuing to work in COVID-ridden institutions, including Maimonides Geriatric Centre and the Jewish Eldercare Centre, until early January. Seeing those schedules, morale plummeted, Julia said.”

Geronticide update, June 3: Canada deaths 7773, LTC deaths 6523 (83.9%). * Quebec LTC deaths: CHSLDs 2413, Private Residences 510, Total 2923 * Ontario LTC deaths: 1557

The Council of Canadians, in coalition with likeminded organizations, has been hard at work crafting a collective set of principles for a just recovery to address the crises we are in by changing the system. These principles unite people, organizations, communities and movements by calling for changes to: 1. Put people’s health and well-being first, no exceptions. 2. Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people. 3. Prioritize the needs of workers and communities. 4. Build resilience to prevent future crises. 5. Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations and borders. 6. Uphold Indigenous rights and work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples. To transform these principles into action, we need to organize, and for that, we need your help:

Covid-19 Fuelling Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia Worldwide – National Action Plans Needed to Counter Intolerance. * “Government leaders and senior officials in some instances have directly or indirectly encouraged hate crimes, racism, or xenophobia by using anti-Chinese rhetoric. Several political parties and groups, including in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and Germany have also latched onto the Covid-19 crisis to advance anti-immigrant, white supremacist, ultra-nationalist, anti-semitic, and xenophobic conspiracy theories that demonize refugees, foreigners, prominent individuals, and political leaders. * “Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the Covid-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director. “Governments should act to expand public outreach,promote tolerance, and counter hate speech while aggressively investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.” May 12, Human Rights Watch,

The first study of COVID-19 to specifically analyse the effect of the disease in hospitalised patients with diabetes has found that one in ten patients dies within 7 days of hospital admission, and one in five is intubated and mechanically ventilated by this point. The research is published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]), by Professor Bertrand Cariou and Professor Samy Hadjadj, diabetologists at l’institut du thorax, University Hospital Nantes, INSERM, CNRS, and University of Nantes, France, and colleagues. May 29, medicalxpress.

Andrew Gawthorpe is a historian of the United States at Leiden University in the Netherlands. The Guardian, June 2.

“America isn’t breaking. It was already broken, and these are just the symptoms. It’s not just the pandemic, or the killing of George Floyd, or Trump – it’s centuries of oppression, like kindling to a fire. * Look at America today and you see a land defined by death. People are dying alone in hospital beds and bedrooms. They’re dying in the streets. They’re dying inside as the economy collapses around them and their hopes for tomorrow evaporate. They’re dying because they can’t breathe. … * Despite his deep culpability, Donald Trump is, in a sense, incidental to this story – a lucky opportunist who was in the right place at the right time. More significant are the forces which propelled him to power and stuck by him long past the time it became clear he had no business being there. Republicans have chosen to pin their own fate and that of the nation on a lawbreaking, racist, corrupt ignoramus for so long as he embodies the white grievance which now defines their politics. Even with disease ravaging the land, public trust in the authorities collapsing and blood in the streets, what used to be called the conservative movement – but what we should now call the Trump movement – sticks by a president who has manifestly made each of these crises worse. * There is no way to escape the American carnage unfolding across the nation without tackling this truth head on. The last few years, then the last few days, have confirmed it. The forces of white rage and entitled grievance are willing to see America destroyed before they are willing to allow a dilution of their own power. America will still exist, of course, but only as a place rather than a promise. Every act of state violence, every deranged presidential tweet encouraging it, every act of disenfranchisement, every elected official who looks on and does nothing to stop it – they are all choking that promise away. One breath at a time.”

2016 US Presidential election eligible voters: 41.9% no vote, 29.7% Clinton, 28.4% Trump.

“White House compares Trump’s church visit to Winston Churchill in Second World War.”

Revolution, Not Riots: Prospects for Radical Transformation in the Covid-19 Era by Anthony DiMaggio, June 3, * “Without an understanding of society that centres on class conflict and the incommensurable interests that exist between working Americans and political and business elites, there is little chance of working toward revolutionary transformation.”

Temporary foreign worker dies due to COVID-19 as disease hits southwestern Ontario farms hard, CBC, June 3. * Workers feel ‘unsafe,’ says Santiago Escobar, national representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers … workers at Woodside Greenhouses were concerned because they had no information, no proper protective equipment and were unable to practice self distancing. He wants the public to know which farms have an outbreak – something the Windsor-Essex health unit will not do. “I don’t know why they don’t want to be open about this information” he said. In Windsor-Essex, 175 — about 18 per cent — of all COVID-19 cases have been among farm workers from 17 different farms in the region. * A farm operation in Norfolk County, south of Simcoe, declared a COVID-19 outbreak this weekend, after 85 migrant workers, mostly Mexican, tested positive. The workers are employed by Scotlynn Group a major producer of sweet corn, watermelon, asparagus and pumpkins. * A farm in St. Thomas, Ontario Plants Propagation, had 20 people associated with it test positive this past week and is still waiting on test results for others. In that case, two health units are involved in contact tracing, as the workers lived in London but travelled daily to the farm. * Chatham-Kent’s health unit reported 145 cases of COVID-19 for that community, including 101 at Greenhill Produce.

COVID-19 pandemic hits world’s poorest hard as cases rise in India, Pakistan. Global News, June 4. * “The urgency of finding a way to stem outbreaks was evident as India on Thursday reported yet another record number of new infections, at 9,304, with 260 deaths in the previous 24 hours. India’s tally of COVID-19 fatalities surpassed 6,000 and its number of infections has risen to nearly 217,000, the Health Ministry said. That makes India the seventh worst hit by the pandemic. * Neighbouring Pakistan reported over 4,000 new cases and said 82 more people had died, raising its death toll to 1,770. On Thursday, as many as 901 COVID-19 patients were listed in critical condition in Pakistan hospitals.”

South of the Equator – India, Mexico, Central and South America, and, in a much earlier phase of the pandemic, Africa – to different degrees they lack most of the resources necessary to control the virus. This is particularly true of India with its huge population. With generally low levels of testing, the reported numbers significantly underestimate the reality on the ground. The high percentages of daily new infections mean more hard times ahead.

As mass graves are being built in Brazil, madman Bolsonaro, personally responsible for many of the deaths, limits the release of data.

The four US states in the tables managed to flatten the curve so far. Contrary to expectations, Georgia, the first state to start reopening, has had very low new daily infection rates, with rates for Texas and Florida, also early in starting to reopen, only slightly higher. The rates were higher for California one of the first states to lock down and one of the slower to reopen.

The city of St Petersburg revealed 1552 (32%) more deaths in May 2020 than in the previous year. The official COVID-19 death count in May for the city was 171. Hmm. It seems that the secret of Russia’s impossible fatality rate of 1.25% is that COVID-19 deaths are reported with different causes of death.

With the extremely high fatality rate of 14.17% and mortality rate at 597/M higher than Spain and Italy, the UK’s response to the pandemic has been an abject failure, particularly considering the two weeks or so wasted through incompetence and faith in magical thinking pseudoscience.

Like Canada, they had too many deaths in LTC. In contrast, Germany did exceptionally well. Canada’s new infections percentages are now well under 1%. The high fatality rate of 8.15% and the mortality rate of 207/M are mostly due to the carnage in LTC institutions. Again with the exception of LTC, my community Ontario did quite well with 166.5 deaths/M, 2101 cases/M and the fatality rate of 7.9%.

AP, Toronto, 10:45 AM, June 8.


Andrew Pakula is a long time peace activist and has been a member of Science for Peace from the very beginning. He is a retired social research and management consultant with a background in social psychology.


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