Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Orange Man Bad


By David Stockman - July 01, 2020 at 10:40AM

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As the Impeachment Farce neared its pathetic denouement, an optimist might have expected that the virulent Trump Derangement Syndrome infecting the MSM, the Dems and the Washington ruling class would finally die out.

Not at all. It’s back with a vengeance, lurking in the subtext and sotto voce of virtually every headline and utterance from the above precincts with respect to the Covid-19.

Indeed, the entire Covid narrative is so hideously distorted, exaggerated, mendacious and risible as to finally confirm what’s actually been at bottom of the successive waves of RussiaGate, UkraineGate, the Impeachment Farce, the Covid-Hysteria and now the Summer of Race Huckstering, too.

Namely: Orange Man Bad!

It’s as simple and primitive as that. In the present instance, only the filter of Orange Man Bad can possibly explain each new twist and turn of the MSM’s Covid narrative, which has essentially degenerated into a running show trial-like prosecution.

But finally they have gotten so desperate and hysterical that they are just flat-out fabricating, censoring and falsifying the evidence with respect to the so-called second wave allegedly hitting the Sun Belt states.

Their true purpose however, is nakedly evident. They are so infuriated about the Donald’s claims that the virus is abating (it is) and that it’s time to reopen America and get back to business (it really is!) that they are literally attempting to tag him with de facto genocide.

Needless to say, whatever is going on in Texas, Florida and Arizona, it isn’t an eruption of the Black Plague, even if you extrapolate the current elevated level of “positives” for several months into the future.

So let us go back to the basics. Even in the worst hit precincts of New York City, there never was a random sample Grim Reaper marauding through the general population. The very bad numbers of cases and deaths coming from the five boroughs were overwhelmingly the product of a catastrophic mismanagement of nursing and other long-term care homes and other abandoned elderly already afflicted with life-threatening morbidities.

But even then, when you compare the case and death rates per 100,000 for NYC’s three most rotten boroughs – the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn – with what is happening in the major Texas cities, for instance, it’s not the same zip code or even the same planet.

Covid Cases/Deaths Per 100,000 Persons as of June 27:

Bronx: 3,346/234;
Queens: 2,867/222;
Brooklyn: 2,345/198;

Houston: 567/7.;
Dallas: 696/13;
Fort Worth: 500/10;
San Antonio: 423/5;
Austin: 549/9;

The media drumbeat in recent days has especially focused on the alleged surge of new cases in Houston/Harris County, featuring the same old hoary prediction of overflowing hospitals and ICUs that turned out not to be true even in NYC – except for a few hospitals at the epicenter of the pandemic in the Bronx for a few peak weeks in March/April.

Yet just like in the case of the flooded NYC hospitals myth, the readily accessible facts with respect to Texas and Houston refute this weekend’s media blitz entirely.

And they also underscore the everlasting laziness and servility of the MSM. After all, if you start with a positive case rate per 100,000 in Houston that is currently only 17 percent of that recorded for the Bronx and a death rate that is only 3 percent of what occurred in the Bronx, why in the world would you even think that Houston is teetering on the edge of a medical calamity?

That’s especially the case if you happen to have the basic knowledge that Houston sports one of the great medical complexes of the entire world. That is, it’s a health care rich community experiencing only a tiny fraction of the Covid case load that happened in NYC.

Beyond that, we are no longer in the horse and buggy age, obviously. Given that patients can be reallocated to other communities if need be, the relevant hospital capacity is not just Houston’s, but capacity in other places around the state that are not experiencing the same level of Covid case increases now occurring in Houston.

So here are the statewide facts: As of June 25, Texas had 54,700 staffed acute care hospital beds, but only 41,950 were being used, implying a occupancy rate of just 76.7 percent and 12,750 empty beds still available.

Moreover, only about 5,000 beds representing 12 percent of the current census were occupied by confirmed or suspected Covid patients. So as of June 25 the state had nearly 2.5X more empty hospital beds than it had Covid patients, notwithstanding the surge of new cases and hospitalizations during the month of June.

In fact, that’s not the half of it. Owing to seasonal factors, the number of empty hospital beds has actually been rising during the spring months even in the face of the soaring Covid caseload.

That’s right. On March 18, Texas had 46,550 occupied hospital beds, reflecting an occupancy rate of 85 percent or well above the 76.7 percent level as of June 25.

But back in March virtually none of these occupied beds were attributable to Covid patients. That’s because at that point there had been only be 83 confirmed Covid cases and 2 deaths reported for the entire state!

By then what happened over the next three months, as the Covid caseload built up from zero to the present 5,000, is that even more beds emptied out due to:

- state orders prohibiting elective surgeries and other treatments;

- normal seasonal declines in occupancy; and

- aggressive reclassification of patients admitted for other reasons as Covid patients.

As to the latter point, it seems that Texas health officials started logging every single COVID-19-positive patient in the state as a COVID-19 hospitalization, even if the patients themselves were admitted seeking treatment for something other than the coronavirus.

As Lindsey Rosales, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Health Services, confirmed recently to an independent investigator:
'The number of hospitalized patients includes patients with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 even if the person is admitted to the hospital for a different reason,' Rosales said.

Moreover, nearly everyone admitted for some other medical condition – and presumably asymptomatic for Covid – gets tested for Covid-19 before other treatments or surgeries are permitted:

Texas Health Resources, one of the state’s largest hospital systems, says on its website that its 'patients [are] tested before most procedures.' Elective surgeries and other medical procedures in Texas have gone up in recent weeks as the state has gradually re-opened following its lockdown.
In other words, the first wave of Lockdowns created a huge backlog of demand for elective surgeries and other discretionary treatments, which were banned by state authorities. But once those bans were lifted and people got in the hospital for deferred treatments, they were tested for Covid and became the statistical gruel for the so-called second wave.

But even then, the Texas hospital statistics over the last three months make mincemeat out of the national media’s weekend narrative that Texas hospitals will soon be overflowing into the hallways. To wit, here is the trend of unused acute care beds in the Texas hospital system:

- 3/18: 8,155;

- 4/1: 18,411;

- 4/15: 21,489;

- 4/29: 19,432;

- 5/20: 16,035;

- 5/27: 15,315;

- 6/3: 15,219;

- 6/10: 13,271;

- 6/17: 14,993;

- 6/25: 12,571

In short, Texas had gone from virtually no Covid cases or deaths on March 18 to 131,917 cases and 2,296 deaths by June 25, but it actually had 56 percent more empty hospital beds on the latter date!

You can’t make this stuff up. The MSM is so intoxicated by Orange Man Bad that it has essentially turned journalism into a kangaroo court of juvenile imprecations.

Nor are we attempting to deceptively drown the case in statewide averages. As of last week, the Houston area alone had 12,458 staffed acute care beds (23 percent of the statewide total), but 2,675 or 21 percent of these were empty; and on top of that they had an additional surge capacity of another 925 beds.

That’s especially salient because the rise in cases in Texas and Houston has generally been among a much younger population than earlier in the pandemic, and the need has been for exactly these kinds of general beds, not ICU beds.

So the fact is, as of last week the Houston area hospitals had just 795 lab confirmed Covid patients, representing just 8 percent of their 9,785 daily census. That also means that given Houston’s 3,600 beds of remaining surge capacity, they could actually accommodate a 4X increase in their current Covid caseload.

As it happened, even the leadership of the Houston health care community finally had enough from CNN, NBC, and the rest of the Covid Calamity Howlers, and struck back this weekend with a resounding denial of this spurious crisis narrative.

For instance, the CEO of one Houston’s leading hospitals, Memorial Hermann, pulled no punches:
We actually still think we have plenty of capacity to meet the demand for Covid, as well as non-Covid patients. We’re always busy in the summertime, and what we’re seeing now is a typical summer for us.

Callender, whose not-for-profit health system has 17 hospitals in the Houston area, stressed that the medical network’s capacity is 'constantly in flux' and needing to be managed. 'But right now, we’re able to do that very well,' he said.

'Across our system, we have about 4,000 beds that we can bring into play' for intensive care, he said. 'Right now, only about 30 percent are being utilized for Covid care, so we still have plenty of capacity for Covid patients as well as patients who need hospitalization for other illnesses.'

Doctors and nurses also have learned how to better treat Covid-19 patients after three months of its presence, said Callender, who joined Memorial Hermann in 2019.

'We’re seeing a slightly lower rate in terms of the number of typical hospital bed patients who convert to a need for ICU hospitalization. We’re also using ventilators less frequently,' he said. 'We have more drugs at our disposable that we know help limit the severity and duration of the illness. So overall we’re faring better than we did just a couple months ago.'
Likewise, chimed in Dr. Marc Boom, President and CEO of another leading institution, Houston Methodist:
The number of hospitalizations are 'being misinterpreted,' said Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom, 'and, quite frankly, we’re concerned that there is a level of alarm in the community that is unwarranted right now.'

'We do have the capacity to care for many more patients, and have lots of fluidity and ability to manage,' Boom said.
Boom pointed out that his hospital one year ago was also at 95 percent ICU capacity – long before Covid was a thing!

That’s right. Apparently, 95 percent utilization of the ICU is a typical June condition, not the sign of the Covid Apocalypse. And contrary to the heated headlines on the MSM, only about 25 percent of Houston’s fully occupied ICU’s are accounted for by Covid patients.

Again from Boom:
'It is completely normal for us to have ICU capacities that run in the 80s and 90s,' he said. 'That’s how all hospitals operate.'

…..the hospital '[has] many levers in our ability to adjust our ICU,' he said, claiming that the hospital capacity regularly reported by the media is 'base' capacity rather than surge capacity.

Boom also alluded to hospitals’ ability to turn regular beds into ICU beds as well as to turn recovery, and pre- and post surgical areas into ICU areas if needed as a kind of coronavirus 'flex area.'
Specifically, there are about 2,200 ICU beds in the Houston service area, but another 500 beds could be added to this after such planned for conversions and re-purposings. And Boom also pointed out an even more salient point:
Boom said overall, hospitals are seeing younger COVID-19 patients, who stay for a shorter period of time, and fewer deaths. Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom told CNBC on Monday that the demographics of the outbreak have 'flipped' and that the mostly-younger people arriving in the state’s hospitals often don’t require ICU beds, even though many do get very sick.
Finally, there was this rebuke to the smirking CNN anchor, who on Saturday had been bemoaning that the situation was allegedly so desperate that a Houston children’s hospital had been drafted into Covid service at great risk to the children.

Not at all, according to Mark Wallace, Texas Children’s Hospital president and CEO. Actually, this was just part of the systems’ surge plan:
Texas Children’s started accepting adult COVID-19 positive patients this week and is currently operating at a 74 percent ICU occupancy, Wallace said.

'We have the ability to take care of all of the Houstonians that need a critical care environment, that need to be operated on, or acute care,' Wallace said.
As we said, the MSM, the Dems and the Washington ruling class are literally rabid with Orange Mad Bad.

The recent ballyhooed Covid surge and hospital capacity crisis in Texas is just one more case in point.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.

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