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Epidemiologists forced to adjust pandemic spread models to account for Trump misinformation: report

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According to the Washington Post, virologists and epidemiologists attempting to predict how badly the coronavirus will spread are now having to factor in the possibility it could become worse due to misinformation being shared with the public — including claims being made by President Donald Trump.

With the president hijacking the almost daily press conferences by the White House Task Force — charged with keeping the public informed of developments in the fight against COVID-19 —- where he spouts opinions and provides information that is often at odds with the scientists on the dais with him — epidemiologist’s models used to predict growth patterns and quantities of life-saving personal protection equipment needed by health care workers are having to be adjusted.

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“Its practitioners use math and scientific principles to understand disease, project its consequences, and figure out ways to survive and overcome it. Their models are not meant to be crystal balls predicting exact numbers or dates. They forecast how diseases will spread under different conditions. And their models allow policymakers to foresee challenges, understand trend lines and make the best decisions for the public good,” the report notes. “But one factor many modelers failed to predict was how politicized their work would become in the era of President Trump, and how that, in turn, could affect their models.”

Of particular note are the comments made by the president that are amplified by right-wing media outlets like Fox News where personalities back up the president often by attempting to undercut government health experts as part of a “deep state” conspiracy to make the president look bad.

“The notion is deeply troubling, say leading health experts, because what the country does next and how many people die depend largely on what evidence U.S. leaders and the public use to inform their decisions. Epidemiologists worry their research — intended to avert massive deaths in situations exactly like this pandemic — will be dismissed by federal leaders when it is needed most,” writes the Post’s William Wan and Aaron Blake.

“A new model released Thursday by the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is one of the first to forecast a national peak. It projects that the peak in daily U.S. deaths will arrive in mid-April, and the tail end of that curve, subsiding below 10 daily deaths, will arrive by the first week of June. But that projection comes with huge caveats because of estimations and assumptions that have to be built into the calculation, given how much is still unknown about the disease covid-19,” the report continues. “The Washington model assumes the entire country will maintain these strict restrictions until summer. But Trump has increasingly made clear he wants to reopen parts of the country by Easter on April 12. And on Thursday, Trump unveiled a plan to identify specific counties that he thinks should reopen soon.”

The University of Washington model predicts that the “first wave of infections will end by summer (with subsequent waves a possibility) and that the death toll during this initial period will range from 38,000 to 162,000,” but now that is in doubt because the president has been changing the game by undercutting multiple projections.

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“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a phone interview this week. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

That could impact response rates to upping borders for equipment as well as convincing c some members of the public that expert’s concern the pandemic are overblown — leading to riskier behavior.

According to Howard Markel, a historian and physician at the University of Michigan who co-wrote a much-cited 2007 paper on the spread of the 1918 flu pandemic in cities, that can affect pandemic spread modeling.

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“Knowing when to release the throttle is hard. There’s is no button that says push me now,” he explained “But the trick is to be patient, not to jump the gun. Otherwise, all that happens is you get more cases, more deaths and everything you worked so hard for with those restrictions just goes to waste.”

You can read more here.

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WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.

Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.

"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."

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John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police

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John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.

It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."

While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."

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Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent

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The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.

The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.

Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/1267291138655956992

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