Image: A grab done from the Twitter page of Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in which he hails the staff in the National Health Service (NHS) for saving his life, filmed at 10 Downing Street, London, Sunday April 12, 2020. Johnson was discharged earlier Sunday from a London hospital where he was treated in intensive care for the new COVID-19 coronavirus. (Twitter Boris Johnson/Downing Street via AP)
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, Austin, Washington, D.C., and London, April 13 – Montgomery County, Texas, has 170 active Chinese coronavirus cases, 5 deaths from the illness (4 of whom were residents from one senior living center in The Woodlands), 76 recoveries, and at least 7 suicides from the economic downturn which government shutdowns and lockdowns have caused.
The Golden Hammer has confirmed that at least 7 of the suicides in Montgomery County since the lockdowns and shutdowns began had strong connections to monetary losses or job losses from the shutdowns.
Meanwhile, there is little to no sign that the Montgomery County Commissioners Court will provide any spending or tax relief to Montgomery County citizens, despite the massive economic downturn which the County government caused by ordering business closures, church closures, and sheltering-in-place.
UK virus deaths top 10,000 as leader Johnson leaves hospital
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his gratitude to the staff of the National Health Service for saving his life when his treatment for the coronavirus could have “gone either way” as the U.K. on Sunday became the fourth European country to surpass 10,000 virus-related deaths.
Dressed in a suit, and looking and sounding relatively assured, Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter after his discharge from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London that it was “hard to find the words” to express his debt of gratitude to the NHS for saving his life “no question.”
He listed a number of the frontline staff members who cared for him during his week-long stay at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London but singled out two nurses who stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”
The prime minister said the nurses he identified as Jenny from Invercargill on New Zealand’s South Island and Luis from Portugal, near Porto, were the reason that “in the end, my body did start to get enough oxygen.”
“Because for every second of the night they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed,” he said. “So that is how I also know that across this country, 24 hours a day, for every second of every hour, there are hundreds of thousands of NHS staff who are acting with the same care and thought and precision as Jenny and Luis.”
After his release from the hospital, Johnson made his way to Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat northwest of London, and on the advice of his medical team won’t be returning to work immediately, his office said in statement.
It’s unclear what involvement Johnson will have in this week’s anticipated extension to the nationwide lockdown the prime minister announced on March 23 in response to the worldwide virus pandemic.
Johnson, 55, was the first world leader confirmed to have the virus. His COVID-19 symptoms, including a cough and a fever, at first were described as mild, and he worked from home during the first few days of self-isolation.
But he was admitted to St. Thomas’ on April 5 after his condition worsened and transferred the following day to the intensive care unit, where he received oxygen but was not put onto a ventilator. Johnson spent three nights in the ICU before he was moved back to a regular hospital ward on Thursday.
Johnson’s pregnant partner, Carrie Symonds, cheered the prime minister’s improved health in a series of tweets, saying she “cannot thank our magnificent NHS enough.”
There “were times last week that were very dark indeed,” Symonds wrote. “My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones.”
The government confirmed Sunday that the U.K. became the fourth European country after Italy, Spain and France to reach the grim milestone of 10,000 virus-related deaths. It said 737 more people who tested positive for the coronavirus had died, taking the total recorded in the U.K. to 10,612.
The figure reported Sunday represented a second straight daily decline in number of deaths, although the lower figures may be due to delays related with the Easter weekend.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this is a “somber day” for the country in its battle against this “invisible killer.”
With the day-to-day death tolls in Italy and Spain on a downward slope, there were growing fears the U.K. might end up as the country with the most virus deaths in Europe. However, the pace of new confirmed cases and hospitalizations in the U.K. appears to be plateauing, a trend that officials hope will show up in fewer deaths in the near future.
While Johnson convalesces, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is handling the nation’s response to the pandemic that has infected at least 1.81 million worldwide and killed more than 112,000 people. Experts say those numbers seriously understate the impact of the pandemic, due to limited testing and different ways of counting the dead.
The prime minister also thanked the British people for the sacrifices they are making to get on top of the pandemic.
“I want you to know that this Easter Sunday I do believe that your efforts are worth it, and are daily proving their worth,” Johnson said.
“Because although we mourn every day those who are taken from us in such numbers, and though the struggle is by no means over, we are now making progress in this incredible national battle against coronavirus.”
Fauci says ‘rolling reentry’ of US economy possible in May
Dr. Anthony Fauci also said he “can’t guarantee” that it will be safe for Americans to vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Rather than flipping a switch to reopen the entire country, Fauci said a gradual process will be required based on the status of the pandemic in various parts of the U.S. and the availability of rapid, widespread testing. Once the number of people who are seriously ill sharply declines, officials can begin to “think about a gradual reentry of some sort of normality, some rolling reentry,” Fauci said.
In some places, he said, that might occur as soon as May. “We are hoping that, at the end of the month, we could look around and say, OK, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on? If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down,” Fauci said.
Whenever restrictions ease, Fauci said, “we know that there will be people who will be getting infected. I mean, that is just reality. “
Social distancing guidelines imposed by President Donald Trump are set to expire April 30.
Trump is eager to restart the economy, which has stalled because most Americans are under orders to “stay at home” to help slow the virus’ spread.
But governors will have a lot to say about when to ease restrictions in their states, and the leaders of Maryland and New Jersey indicated Sunday that they are not likely to do so until widespread testing is available.
“The question is how fast we can get enough tests up to speed in order to help us get to the point where we are able to do all of those things,” Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., said. He said he has set no “artificial deadline.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., said the risks of reopening too soon are dangerously high. “And I fear, if we open up too early, and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus, that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently,” Murphy said.
Increased testing would allow authorities to identify, isolate and trace the contacts of people who are newly infected, Fauci said.
Trump continues to deny continuing problems with the coronavirus testing that’s available, including shortages and long wait times for people to learn results. He’s also resistant to the idea of more widespread testing, saying last week that “it’s unnecessary” and that “vast areas of our country don’t need this.”
Other scientists have echoed Fauci’s call for a gradual reopening, where restrictions can be ramped up or down.
Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington institute that created widely cited projections of virus-related deaths, said studies show that lifting restrictions at the end of this month would lead to a rebound in the number of infections. Because states don’t really have the capability to deal with a big volume of new cases, he said, “by July or August we could be back in the same situation we are now.”
Officials need to examine whether a state has reached its peak and then allow several weeks of continued closures until fuller testing and contact tracing can be put in place before making a decision, Murray said. But even then, he said, states would have to mindful of putting in place controls to stem “importation” of the virus from other states.
“Maybe some states can open up mid May but we have to be very careful and make sure we don’t lose all the effort the American people have put into closures by premature opening,” he said.
Fauci said that, had mitigation efforts been put in place earlier than they were in the U.S., “it would have had an impact” but that many different factors are involved. “It’s very complicated.”
Speaking about the prospects of Americans physically going to polling places in November, Fauci said he hopes voting in person can take place.
“I believe that if we have a good, measured way of rolling into this, steps towards normality, that we hope, by the time we get to November, that we will be able to do it in a way which is the standard way,” he said..
“However — and I don’t want to be the pessimistic person — there is always the possibility, as we get into next fall, and the beginning of early winter, that we could see a rebound,” he said.
The U.S. has the most confirmed cases and deaths of any nation, more than 530,000 and 20,600, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University. In hard-hit New York, the number of deaths has topped 700 for six straight days, but the increase in people who are hospitalized is slowing, in a hopeful sign.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Fauci was on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Hogan appeared on ABC’s ”This Week.” Murray was on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Murphy was on CNN and CBS.
Governor Abbott Extends Disaster Declaration For COVID-19
Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday issued a proclamation extending his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 13th, the Disaster Declaration provides the state a number of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“By extending my Disaster Declaration, we are ensuring the state of Texas continues to have adequate resources and capabilities to support our communities and protect public health,” said Governor Abbott. “I urge all Texans to continue practicing social distancing and abide by the guidelines laid out by the CDC and my Executive Orders to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Governor Abbott has waived certain regulations related to restrictions on physicians-in-training (PIT) permit holders in order to increase health care capacity through the state’s response to COVID-19. With these waivers, Texas hospitals and facilities associated with Graduate Medical Education (GME) training programs will be able to utilize PIT permit holders, with proper physician oversight, in areas outside of their GME training program. For example, under these temporary waivers, residents in a surgery residency program can assist in an Emergency Department if a surge of patients is experienced. These waivers will increase the availability of medically trained individuals to help assist the COVID-19 response.
“These temporary waivers will expand the staffing capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities, ensuring Texans will have access to the care needed during the response to COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “I am grateful for all the frontline health care workers across the state serving their fellow Texans during this challenging time.”