Saturday, April 4 update

USA update: Remember that place called Washington that used to seem so important? Remember these guys? Anthony Brindisi wants essential medical items to be manufactured in America. John Katko wants to establish an independent commission to investigate What Went Wrong with the COVID-19 response. (You know, assuming there actually is a Congress after this is over.)

Katko, asked Thursday whether Trump deserved blame, said he would leave it to the commission to draw conclusions. “Regarding Trump, I’m not going to go through what could have or would have happened,” Katko said. “We should be more focused on what we did or didn’t do as a country as a whole.”

NYS update: What a ridiculous and upsetting 24 hours since Cuomo’s clumsy edict about ventilators and PPE being shifted/seized/shared from upstate hospitals to embattled downstate hospitals. The dominoes fell fast. Alarm bells rang all along the Thruway. By nightfall, Elise Stefanik had pounced on this golden chance to get back in the spotlight, complete with cringey hashtag (#upstatelivesmatter), which then of course attracted the righteous indignation of all those high-information voters who know that Upstate New York is 10% white and 90% Holstein. Just brilliant.

As of today, we’re already in the cleanup phase, where Cuomo blames the media for misquoting him, when he actually gave them nothing to go on except (on Thursday) “We know where the ventilators are” and (on Friday) hauling out the National Guard. Here’s the choice quote he actually did give on Friday:

“I understand they don’t want to give up their ventilators. Ventilators are expensive pieces of equipment.”

Because we’re terribly concerned about our expensive equipment up here, yeah. He will just whip off a check and present it to a hospital later, so they can (in the words of one Twitter commentator) stuff coins down the throats of dying local patients. Tom Dennison, an SU professor emeritus who has been an expert on health care forever, states the bloody obvious:

“Will that equipment be returned in time to be used upstate when it’s needed?” Dennison said. “You can’t say, ‘Take that person off that vent and send it back to me because I need it now.’” Cuomo’s plan to reimburse hospitals for confiscated ventilators is pointless, Dennison said. That’s because the life-saving machines are in such short supply it’s unlikely hospitals would be able to go out and find new ones to buy, he said. He compared it to taking away someone’s food and reimbursing them with a check at a time when there’s no food available in grocery stores. “What am I going to do? Eat the check?” he said.

By evening, someone in the governor’s office had dashed off a note stating that Cuomo would only be taking 20% of the ventilators (or “500 ventilators” I think it’s up to today). And today, anyhow, the big news is that Oregon and China are providing way more ventilators than those struggling Upstate hospitals would ever have, so what are you heartless farmers up there complaining about? (“I didn’t hit her, officer, she ran into my face because she was hysterical.”)

In other news, the state now has a COVID data map of its own. Interestingly, I noticed that their figures for Onondaga County did not match up with the numbers recently reported — particularly the “10 new cases” for 4/3. At no time this week did Onondaga County publicly announce anything less than 20 new cases per day. So, not sure where that comes from or how. But glad to know Cuomo has the very latest facts about the spread of the virus across the state.

Onondaga County update: A gentleman whose story was highlighted by local media was the person whose death was announced today before the county briefing, which was unusual (probably because they figured it would get out anyway). That was the sad news for the day. The good news was that CE McMahon was able to talk with the governor’s office this morning, and presumably got a chance to reiterate all of the very good points he made about Syracuse’s central importance to the lesser hospitals of CNY and NNY, and that it would be a better idea for patients from, say, Orange or Albany counties to come over to Syracuse hospitals than for key equipment to be removed from a well-functioning regional hospital system.

McMahon also described how the local and hospital-level PPE buying process has now been understandably upended by federal and state purchasing, who can intercept any sale in progress and take what they need; and this makes others down the food chain need to work harder to source things.

The “official” good news of the day was to laud the Town of Elbridge for continuing on as the county’s own Shangri-La, with no reported cases, along with the Onondaga Nation having none as well. (I had been wondering about the lack of positives for the Nation territory, wondering if they were in the county’s reporting chain. And then wondering what it must be like to be Native American in a time like this, knowing the history of epidemics and how they affected people here in past times.) Ever eager to promote the vast territory that Syracuse medically serves, the CE reminded everyone that in addition to CNY and NNY, “we’re also serving another nation,” and commended the Onondaga Nation for working closely with the county health department.