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Author: TriSec    Date: 07/21/2020 11:29:10

Good Morning.

'tis a quiet day on the veterans' front, in all honesty.

Spending a few minutes on my usual conglomeration of sites, there's very few things that we haven't reported on extensively in recent weeks. It is indeed Groundhog Day.

But nevertheless - there's still a couple of things out there. Remember months ago now, when with much fanfare and publicity, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy were sent to Los Angeles and New York? Confirming how unpredictable this crisis is, virtually nobody showed up to either ship, and after just a few weeks, they were both withdrawn.

Boston had a similar trajectory - we had a US Army field hospital set up here at the convention center, called "Boston Hope", and throughout the "spike", less than a thousand people were ever treated there.

But then everybody got complacent, and as expected - a second wave has taken hold.

Active-duty U.S. Air Force doctors, nurses and other medical providers are being sent to work in California hospitals to assist with a steep rise in coronavirus cases that has strained some health care systems across the state.

The 100 health care professionals began work Friday in five hospitals experiencing severe staff shortages after a request for aid by the state. An additional 60 providers will be deployed in the coming week, a military spokesman said.

The hospitals being served are Adventist Health Lodi Memorial in Lodi, Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Dameron Hospital in Stockton, Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage and Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, the spokesman said.

The move comes as some officials have described hospital staffing -- not bed capacity -- as the chief stumbling block when it comes to scaling up operations to accommodate more patients.

Dr. Alan E. Williamson, chief medical officer at Eisenhower Medical Center, said his team sent a request to the local public health department two weeks ago after exhausting the normal avenues for additional staff, such as hiring travel nurses, and failing to find enough personnel because of the nationwide demand for medical workers. His hospital received a team of 21 airmen, including three doctors, 12 nurses, three respiratory therapists, two liaison officers and a physician assistant. The group is scheduled to work for 30 days.

"We weren't expecting a team like this," Williamson said. "They've been great to work with. They're very can-do. They said, 'Just tell us what you need us to do, and we'll figure out how to do it.'"

Williamson said his hospital is at about 80% capacity for beds but has no more available staff. With about 70 COVID-19 patients, down from 90 earlier last week, his facility had among the highest number in Riverside County.

Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. Army North, said the state of California, in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will determine which areas have the greatest need for the remaining 60 personnel, with the possibility of more hospitals receiving the assistance.

Additional teams "are still being formed and will be deployed to COVID-19 hot spots throughout the state including Imperial County," Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said Saturday in an email. Imperial County has remained a persistent trouble spot: The most recent three-day average of daily hospitalizations represents an 18% increase, according to The Times' coronavirus tracker, and available intensive care beds have dwindled to just six.

In San Joaquin County, which has so far received two military teams, officials said Friday that hospitals were operating at 75% capacity but intensive care units had reached 114% capacity. A total of 198 COVID-19 patients were in the county's seven hospitals and 63 were in intensive care, both numbers at their highest since the pandemic began, according to the county's Office of Emergency Services.

At Adventist Health Lodi Memorial, which had 39 COVID-19 patients and six in intensive care, a clinical team of 21 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists is helping to provide additional resources, spokeswoman Lauren Nelson said in an email.

"They will also offer reinforcements for our medical professionals who have been on the front lines serving patients throughout our COVID-19 response," the hospital said in a statement.

The team will be there at least 30 days, though the arrangement has the potential to be extended, Nelson said.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

Staying on the West Coast, there is something going on that we should all be alarmed to no end - it's the GOP Brownshirts roaming the streets of Portland, OR. Unsurprisingly perhaps, there's absolutely nothing about this on any of the military sites that I frequent. But you know the story - uniformed paramilitary personnel are literally pulling people off the streets into black cars. We are in 1930s Germany, folks.

Anew word, doomscrolling, describes the way we compulsively tickle our phones into providing a non-stop stream of dire health and disease statistics, grim economic predictions, images of food lines and exploding emergency rooms.

With so much doom to scroll through, it’s hard to know when to stop and pay attention, but one story that jumped out at me – and, I hope, at many others – is the account of how demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, protesting racism and police brutality earlier in July, were tear-gassed, beaten, seized off the street by unidentified, masked federal agents in camouflage and fatigues, hustled into unmarked vans and detained for hours. The agents were reported to work with the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Bortac, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Government-funded thugs, assaulting citizens, still conjure up repellent images of Hitler’s Brownshirts stomping their fellow Germans, and the street kidnapping of civilians has been the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships. That was how you wound up in one of Stalin’s labor gulags, in the helicopter from which the Argentinian junta dropped its critics into the sea, or in a CIA black site. In a headline, an Esquire article on the Portland attacks used Pinochet (the tyrant who orchestrated the disappearance of thousands of Chileans during his 17-year regime) as a verb: “A Major American City is Being Softly Pinochet’d in Broad Daylight.”

One can track the violence to Trump ordering the governors to “dominate” their cities, of which, he claimed, they’d lost control. But the governor of Oregon, the mayor of Portland and other local officials insisted that they don’t want federal agents gassing their citizens. So who does?

A US Customs and Border Protection internal memo, obtained by the Nation and dated 1 July, offers some answers. In response to a presidential order “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Activity, “ the acting director of homeland security has created the “DHS Protecting American Communities Task Force (Pact) to provide an ongoing assessment of potential civil unrest and property destruction”.

The italics are mine, but the memo describes the formation of a paramilitary organization, reporting to the federal government and free from the laws, rules and conventions followed (even nominally) by police and the army.

Couple this with the alarming statement from Mr. Trump this weekend that he "might not accept" the results of the election if he loses, I can only see Civil War on the horizon. It was only by the skin of this nation's teeth, and the skill of our greatest president, that kept the Union together the last time we went down this road.

There is no similar hope this time around - The United States is doomed.


4 comments (Latest Comment: 07/21/2020 18:15:51 by Will in Chicago)
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