- Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak Excellent interactive New York Times resource with trackers and statistics on the prevalence of Covid infection and the measures to deal with it in every US state and around the world
- Memorial of Health & Social Care Workers taken by COVID-19 Moving and interactive a digital tribute and memorial by Nursing Notes to the dedicated members of our health and social care family who gave their lives during the fight against Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19).
NursingNotes is committed to planting a new tree in a protected forest for every single health and social care worker who loses their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Trump administration sends formal notification that the U.S. will withdraw from the W.H.O. next year. New York Times July 8 report on the latest vindictive act by the most destructive US President:
“The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that the United States is withdrawing from the World Health Organization, officials said Tuesday, cutting off one of the organization’s biggest sources of aid amid a pandemic that has infected more than 11.6 million people, killed more than a half a million, and upended life around the world.
“… By law, the United States must give the organization a year’s notice if it intends to withdraw, and meet all the current financial obligations in the current year.
“Mr. Trump, whose response to the pandemic has drawn criticism, first announced that he planned to halt funding to the W.H.O. in April, claiming that the organization had made a series of mistakes as it battled the coronavirus.
“His move to withdraw drew immediate criticism. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican who is the chairman of the Senate’s health committee, said that he disagreed with the president’s decision.
“’Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need,” he said in a statement. “And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States’.”
- UK set to award Covid-19 testing contracts worth £5bn to private bidders Guardian July 2 reporting a new twist in the government’s efforts to use the Covid-19 crisis as a cover to drive forward its ambitions for wider privatisation of NHS services:
“The government is preparing to award coronavirus testing contracts worth an estimated £5bn to commercial bidders, in what critics fear is a “backdoor” subsidy to the private sector.
“The vast new budget, which works out at £2.5bn per year and will be managed by Public Health England (PHE), is equal to the entire annual spend on English NHS laboratories.
“The Department of Health and Social Care said it was creating a new national framework for testing which would replace current arrangements, with further details released “in due course”.
“The new plan, outlined in a public notice, dwarfs the budget for the current framework. Completed in 2017, its estimated cost was between £80m to £120m.
“NHS sources said they had been told the cash would be used to fund an expansion of Lighthouse laboratories. Created in April to boost Covid-19 testing capacity, they are at the centre of the storm over why it took until last week for local authorities to begin receiving postcode data on the spread of coronavirus in their communities.
“It is understood that seven new commercially run laboratories are planned in the short term. That number could eventually rise to 29, one for each NHS pathology region in England.”
- Dozens of shifts at coronavirus mega-lab cancelled and staff paid to stay away, whistleblower reveals Independent July 3 report: "Dozens of shifts at one of the government’s coronavirus mega-labs have been cancelled and staff paid to stay away because of a lack of test samples, a whistleblower has revealed.
"A member of staff at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Laboratory has shared a tranche of emails sent from lab bosses to staff during May and June with The Independent.
"They show more than 40 separate shifts at the labs were cancelled in the past two months, often with just a day’s notice or less.
"Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary and chair of the Commons health select committee, said he thought it was “extraordinary” the labs were not being fully utilised."
- Test and Trace: 15% trust private firm to run English system Scottish newspaper The National reports:
JUST 15% of people think a private firm should be in charge of coronavirus contact tracing systems, a new poll has found.
"A Survation poll, commissioned by campaign group We Own It, asked people living in the UK who they felt should run contact tracing schemes as we move out of lockdown. While 67% said public health teams and local health services should have responsibility for the systems, just 15% felt that a private company like Serco should control them.
"In England, Serco and other private firms look after large parts of the test and trace system. The scheme has been plagued with issues since it was established at the end of May."
- Comprehensive new funding package for councils to help address coronavirus pressures and cover lost income during the pandemic Government press release tries to trumpet a pathetically inadequate £500m increase in funding as the solution to the £10 billion funding gap faced by councils -- with dire consequences for social care, public health and many other vital services.
- Deloitte: Coronavirus They Work for You reveals the parliamentary exchange between Stella Creasey MP for Labour and Tory Minister Nadine Dorries, confirming the inadequate contract between government and Deloitte that does not require the firm to report on test results to Public Health England and local authorities.
- PPE spend to hit £14bn by the end of the year HSJ report July 2:
"The Treasury is preparing for spending on personal protective equipment for the health system to hit up to £14bn this financial year, HSJ understands — representing more than 10 per cent of the pre-covid NHS budget.
"The revelation — an estimate of what has been spent since April and will be spent up to the end of March 2021 — underlines the huge hit to government budgets, and comes as the Treasury negotiates with the NHS over what funding it will get for the next phase of the coronavirus response.
"The financial envelope, which has been confirmed by senior sources, has been calculated based on the average price per item and the number of pieces the Department of Health and Social Care has said is necessary. The DHSC declined to confirm the value of the envelope, citing “commercial sensitivity”."
- Trust CEO slams 'cruel and ineffective' government policy HSJ July 2 report on a CEO willing to speak up in support of vulnerable patients affected by vicious government welfare policies:
"The chief executive of a London trust has criticised the government over the reinstatement of its “cruel and ineffective” benefits policy.
"Paul Jenkins, chief executive for Tavistock and Portman FT, commented on Twitter that the government’s benefit sanctions policy is “really cruel and ineffective”.
"He also tweeted that the reinstatement was “very concerning when some of the most vulnerable people in society are already under so much pressure.”
"In a statement to HSJ, Mr Jenkins said he stood by his tweet, adding: “I was closely involved in this issue when I was at Rethink Mental Illness and saw at first hand the harm caused to people with severe mental illness by the use of sanctions and the Work Capability Assessment.”
"Under the government’s policy, those receiving benefits must once again adhere to “claimant conditionality” to access their benefits such as carrying out job searches."
- INDEPENDENT SAGE – STATEMENT ON LEICESTER AND LOCAL LOCKDOWNS Statement from Independent SAGE group of experts begins:
"The lockdown in Leicester constitutes a foreseeable crisis of the Government’s own making. It has come too late and, by being imposed on the locality, rather than being developed and implemented with the locality, it risks creating uncertainty, dissent, and even disorder.
"In the case of Leicester, and for future such cases, we advocate a response that is led by local government, supported by agencies such as PHE Health Protection Teams, the NHS and the Police and with additional funding from central government.
"The imposition of local restrictions should only be considered in the context of such an overall package of support, they should only be a last resort and used as a temporary measure. Such an approach will maximise both the efficacy of infection control measures and public support for these measures."
- Johnson not telling the whole story on Leicester testing More fact checking finds Boris Johnson a long way from the truth -- Channel 4 July 2 report: “The government first took notice and acted on what was going on in Leicester on 8 June, because we could see that there was an issue there. We sent mobile testing units—four more mobile testing units—shortly thereafter.”
“That was Boris Johnson’s claim yesterday in the Commons.
“But what the Prime Minister didn’t mention was that it was ten days after 8 June before even one additional testing site was opened in Leicester. And it was 21 days before a total of four new centres had opened in the city.”
- Lifestyle Company with No Employees or Trading History Handed £25 Million PPE Contract Byline Times investigation July 2 begins:
"The Great British COVID-19 procurement scandal continues after a newly published contract revealed yet another business with little experience or expertise being awarded a multi-million-pound contract to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS.
"Design company Luxe Lifestyle Ltd was awarded a £25 million contract on 27 April to supply garments for biological or chemical protection to the NHS.
"According to Companies House, the business was incorporated by fashion designer Karen Brost in November 2018. However, it appears to have no employees, no assets and no turnover.
"Additional research into the company’s background using business information provider Endole revealed no evidence that the company has actually done any trading at all.
"It is not clear how a business with no experience in the sector is able to meet its contractual requirements to provide 1.2 million gowns and 10 million FFP2/KN95 masks to the NHS during a national crisis.
- Lack of local Covid-19 testing data hinders UK’s outbreak response Important Financial Times June 30 revelation of the massive data gap that is hampering any sensible track and trace system to contiun Covid-19: “The ability of local leaders to manage new coronavirus outbreaks in the UK is being hampered by gaps in the reporting of infection data for cities and regions, according to analysis by the Financial Times.
“The government publishes a UK-wide figure for Covid-19 cases every day that includes tests from hospitals and those processed by commercial laboratories, including samples taken at home. But at a subnational level the total of new daily cases contains only hospital tests.
“The result is that hundreds of local authorities across the country are unable to see a timely picture of what is happening in their communities or compare that with other cities and regions of the UK.
“This gap in the subnational and regional data has been cited by local political leaders and health officials in Leicester as one reason for a delay in locking down the east Midlands city, where virus cases have spiked.
“For weeks we have been trying to get information about the level of testing in the city and the results of that testing in the city,” Peter Soulsby, mayor of Leicester, told the BBC on Tuesday.”
- Still 36 parts of England where Covid-19 cases increasing, statistics reveal Independent July warning: “With a swathe of lockdown restrictions due to be lifted on ‘super Saturday’ this weekend, new statistics showed that there are still 36 parts of England where coronavirus cases have been increasing.
“Release from lockdown was put on hold in Leicester as authorities moved to damp down an upsurge in infections which saw the Midlands city record 10 per cent of all positive cases in England in the past week. Its infection rate of 135 cases per 100,000 over the seven-day period was three times higher than the next worst-affected city in the country.
“But figures from Public Health England (PHE) showed that other areas had also experienced increases in positive cases between the weeks of 13-19 June and 20-26 June. Doncaster recorded a rise from 11 to 32 in the number of positive cases over the period, while Derbyshire’s figure increased from 23 to 25, Medway from 10 to 17 and Sandwell from 8 to 10.
“Some of the sharpest increases were in London boroughs, where the weekly figure rose from 7 to 18 in Hammersmith & Fulham, from 9 to 15 in Hounslow, 5 to 14 in Ealing, 6 to 14 in Westminster, 7 to 13 in Brent and 8 to 12 in Kensington and Chelsea.”
- Still 36 parts of England where Covid-19 cases increasing, statistics reveal Independent July 1 report: "Release from lockdown was put on hold in Leicester as authorities moved to damp down an upsurge in infections which saw the Midlands city record 10 per cent of all positive cases in England in the past week.
"Its infection rate of 135 cases per 100,000 over the seven-day period was three times higher than the next worst-affected city in the country.
"But figures from Public Health England (PHE) showed that other areas had also experienced increases in positive cases between the weeks of 13-19 June and 20-26 June.
"Doncaster recorded a rise from 11 to 32 in the number of positive cases over the period, while Derbyshire’s figure increased from 23 to 25, Medway from 10 to 17 and Sandwell from 8 to 10."
- Understanding excess mortality: comparing COVID-19’s impact in the UK to other European countries Health Foundation research comparing levels of excess deaths:
"The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has so far killed at least half a million people worldwide and has led to over 64,000 excess deaths in the UK. And although it is a global pandemic – triggered by the same SARS-CoV-2 virus – the impacts of the pandemic and the responses to it have been anything but the same across countries.
"Early in the pandemic countries were at different stages of their outbreaks, making it difficult to make robust comparisons. Initially it looked as if Italy would be the country hardest hit, though this has not turned out to be the case. But as the first wave across Europe is coming to an end, meaningful comparisons have become possible. These comparisons can help us understand and learn from the experiences of different countries, so we are better able to manage a potential second wave or a future pandemic.
"In this analysis we use excess deaths (the number of deaths in a given period less the usual number) over the pandemic period. This is a more comparable measure across countries than deaths from COVID-19, because different countries count COVID-19 deaths in different ways. It is also a measure of the total impact of the pandemic, including both COVID-19 deaths and other deaths that may have been a consequence of lockdowns."
- Saturated Houston hospitals transferring COVID-19 patients to other cities Grim aftermath of premature end to lockdown in Texas. ABC13 report from HOUSTON, Texas:
"Harris Health Systems, the public health agency that operates Ben Taub and LBJ hospitals, is sending COVID-19 patients to facilities outside of the area in an effort to cope with the growing healthcare crisis.
"Charlie McMurray-Horton, the associate administrator for Clinical Integration and Transformation at Harris Health, spoke to ABC13 about the capacity issues affecting Harris Health hospitals this afternoon.
"It really has intensified in the last month or so," said McMurray-Horton. "We are actively trying to transfer out ICU and surge patients that are COVID positive and under investigation, just because we don't have the capacity to treat those patients," McMurray-Horton added.
"Harris Health Systems said it has transferred patients to UTMB in Galveston, the Woodlands, and as far away as Conroe. The scramble to find beds for patients also has a trickle down effect."
- Coronavirus cases higher than thought in Merseyside with Wirral worst affected Liverpool Echo July 1 report: "Coronavirus cases in Merseyside are three times higher than previously reported.
"New Covid-19 rates published by Public Health England suggest around 138 people in the area tested positive in the week to June 21. Previously published figures had shown 43 cases across the area during that same week.
"Of the local areas in Merseyside, current rates show Wirral as being much more badly affected than other boroughs.
"The Peninsular's infection rate of 19.2 per 100,000 people is significantly higher than the other Merseyside areas, which are all between 6 and 8.4 per 100,000 people.
"The new figures are based on people being tested both through Pillar 1 (in hospitals) and Pillar 2 (through drive-through test centres and swabs sent by post)."
- Government finally releases Greater Manchester coronavirus data... and there are SIX TIMES more cases than local officials knew about Manchester Evening News July 1: "Public health officials have finally received crucial local testing figures from government after nearly two months of pleading - and they reveal the number of cases here in the past week has been as six times higher than their own data suggested.
"Since the start of May officials here have been begging government to release ‘pillar two’ testing data, the results of swabs carried out at drive-through stations and other facilities operated here by the private sector on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.
"Without it, they only had access to ‘pillar one’ test numbers, those carried out directly by Greater Manchester councils and hospitals and processed in Public Health England labs.
"That had left public health directors flying blind, unable to accurately gauge the virus’s spread in the community.
"This week they finally received the missing data - and it shows nearly 400 more people had tested positive in the past week than their existing figures would have suggested."
- Leicester and Merthyr Tydfil top table for new Covid-19 infections Financial Times July 1 report on belated publication of fuller data revealing local patterns of infection: “On Tuesday, the FT reported that local leaders in England were being hampered in their efforts to manage new coronavirus outbreaks by gaps in the reporting of infection data for cities and regions.
“Although the government has been publishing a UK-wide figure for Covid-19 cases every day that includes tests from hospitals and those processed by commercial laboratories, including samples taken at home, at a subnational level the total of new daily cases contains only hospital tests.
“Following criticism of its failure to provide comprehensive and timely testing results for all local authorities in England to allow them to track possible spikes, Public Health England on Wednesday released data for all Covid-19 infections up to June 21.
“Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland had already been publishing full data sets for both Pillar 1 tests collected in hospitals and Pillar 2 tests collected by commercial labs.”
- Ministers shifting blame to Public Health England for Covid-19 errors, say experts Guardian July 1 report anticipates government efforts to dump blame for its errors onto a far from perfect Public Health England:
"Experts have accused ministers of shifting the blame for their own mistakes during the coronavirus crisis on to Public Health England, amid speculation that the agency may be scrapped.
"Downing Street on Wednesday failed to guarantee that PHE will survive in its present form as an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care when the government reviews its response to Covid-19.
"It also did not rebut a report that Boris Johnson was referring to PHE when he said in a speech on Tuesday that “parts of government that seemed to respond so sluggishly” to the pandemic. Without apportioning blame, the prime minister had said “it seemed like that recurring bad dream when you are telling your feet to run and your feet won’t move”."
- Unless the government ups its game, there will be more lockdowns like Leicester’s Guardian July 1 article by Dave McCoy: "Unfortunately, and somewhat predictably, the government’s over-centralised, fragmented, confused and semi-privatised patchwork of testing and contact-tracing services has proved slow, inadequate and cumbersome.
"There are still too few tests being done, leading to insufficient case detection, and our contact-tracing rates are also low. Delays in producing test results are compounded by delays and blockages in the sharing of data across the various different organisations involved.
"Local public health teams have been inevitably hamstrung by this centralised system. Ideally, local public health directors and their teams would have timely and complete data about new cases, including the names, ages, genders and ethnicities of suspected cases, their home, work and school details, and relevant clinical data such as the date that their symptoms started. But nobody seems to have been given this information."
- DWP benefit sanctions restart from today as Tories refuse to extend ban Mirror July 1 report on a shocking decision by ministers:
"Benefit sanctions have resumed from today after the Tory welfare chief refused to extend a blanket ban on them.
"Therese Coffey said it was "important" for claimants to commit to look for work and attend appointments as Jobcentres started to reopen from July 1.
"She insisted work coaches will prioritise "support". And a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) source insisted sanctions would not be their "focus".
"But the Work and Pensions Secretary's statement was branded "heartless" - as MPs warned it will heap "stress and suffering" on families while unemployment soars, and people remain having to shield or care for children at home.
"As messages promising not to sanction people vanished overnight, the GMB union branded the reopening of jobcentres a "PR stunt" that could put people at risk.
"Sanctions, which dock people's benefits if they don't follow government rules, were formally halted for three months from March 30 for anyone failing to look for work or attend an interview."
- Johnson’s misleading figures on government ‘New Deal’ Another devastating fact check of Boris Johnson's big speech boasting of a "New Deal," this time by Channel 4 News:
"On hearing the Prime Minister’s words, you might think that the government’s “New Deal” announced yesterday will pump £34bn into the NHS and £14bn more into schools.
"But that’s not the case.
"The schools pledge was first announced in August 2019. It’s how much budgets will rise over three years, though the figure doesn’t account for inflation or rising student numbers.
"Meanwhile, the £34bn for the NHS was first promised in 2018. It refers to the planned increase in spending on the health service, this time over five years. Again, it does not adjust for inflation (once we do that, the figure is closer to £20bn)."
- It Paid Doctors Kickbacks. Now, Novartis Will Pay a $678 Million Settlement New York Times July 1 report on a massive fine on a leading pharmaceutical corporation: “There were fishing junkets, golf outings and round-table events at Hooters. And then there were the six-figure honorariums that the Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. paid to several doctors who wrote thousands of prescriptions for cardiovascular and diabetes drugs the company made.
“Now, after admitting it used an extensive kickback program for nearly a decade to influence doctors to prescribe certain medications, Novartis will pay $678 million to settle a fraud lawsuit, federal prosecutors in New York announced on Wednesday.
“… Prosecutors said that Novartis violated a federal statute prohibiting kickbacks, which led to fraudulent prescription claims paid by Medicare, Medicaid and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The company gained an advantage over competitors, but there were no allegations that the drugs were not needed by the patients to whom they were prescribed, prosecutors said.
“For more than a decade, Novartis spent hundreds of millions of dollars on so-called speaker programs, including speaking fees, exorbitant meals, and top-shelf alcohol that were nothing more than bribes to get doctors across the country to prescribe Novartis’s drugs,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney for Manhattan, said in a statement. “Giving these cash payments and other lavish goodies interferes with the duty of doctors to choose the best treatment for their patients and increases drug costs for everyone.”
- Tory policies have killed a quarter of a million people in the last decade The London Economic, July 1 report: "A decade of Tory austerity, coupled with the more recent COVID-19 mismanagement, has killed over 250,000 people, an exclusive TLE investigation has revealed.
"More than 100,000 people have died following social security cuts, while around 120,000 perished due to reductions in health and social spending and experts have predicted that the UK’s COVID-related death toll of circa 60,000 is double the number it needed to be.
"Coupled with the tens of thousands of lives cut short by a failure by successive governments to impose tougher legislation to tackle air pollution and you have a pretty grim picture."
- US states race to reimpose lockdowns as Covid infections pass 2.5m – and Trump heads to golf course Independent June 30 with another story from the worst President's handling of the worst crisis:
"A number of US states are racing to reimpose lockdowns amid a new leap of coronavirus infections that have taken the total to more than 2.5 million – apparently triggered by the push to reopen the economy.
"As Donald Trump for the second successive day visited the Trump National golf course in Sterling, Virginia, the number of cases in the US hit at least 2,534,981, part of a global total of more than 10 million. Worldwide, more than 500,000 people have now died.
"Among the worst places to have been struck were rural counties in California, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Florida, that saw confirmed cases more than double in a week, from June 19 to last Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
"In Texas, governor Gregg Abbot ordered the closure of bars and reimposed limits on restaurants for indoor seating down from 75 per cent capacity to 50 per cent."
- Lack of local Covid-19 testing data hinders UK’s outbreak response | Free to read Financial Times June 30 report revealing serious flaws in testing and reporting of data:
“The ability of local leaders to manage new coronavirus outbreaks in the UK is being hampered by gaps in the reporting of infection data for cities and regions, according to analysis by the Financial Times.
“The government publishes a UK-wide figure for Covid-19 cases every day that includes tests from hospitals and those processed by commercial laboratories, including samples taken at home. But at a subnational level the total of new daily cases contains only hospital tests.
“The result is that hundreds of local authorities across the country are unable to see a timely picture of what is happening in their communities or compare that with other cities and regions of the UK.”
- Boris Johnson: Economy speech fact-checked BBC's Reality Check team have looked at Johnson's speech, which includes allocations for new hospitals and other NHS projects and found that every major assertion was either previously announced, a lie, or a distortion of the truth - usually some combination of the three.
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