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A biochemist’s analysis of President Trump’s coronavirus press conference

A biochemist’s analysis of President Trump’s coronavirus press conference

Best moment: When Trump, a known germaphobe, discussed being hugged by a sick man.

Many Legal Insurrection readers know I have a degree in biochemistry, and have donned the full-body protective suit during responses to releases of body fluids during my career as a hazardous materials specialist.

So, I listened to President Donald Trump’s press conference with extreme interest today. Immediately, I noted something fascinating: Rod Rosenstein’s sister was nowhere to be seen, and one of the featured members of Trump’s coronavirus response task force as the reasonable and rational HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Clearly, this press conference was a masterful response by Trump to gain control of the flow of facts and provide full information to the American public without the distortions of media infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome.

While there is much to analyze here, I would like to laser-in on a few key points.

One of the biggest questions I have had while preparing my Wuhan Virus Watch posts is: Exactly what is the current health status of the 15 Americans who were infected while within this country? The number will help us gauge exactly how lethal this virus is, as we clearly cannot rely on the Chinese data.

According to the President, the news is good.

The president revealed that of the “15” Americans confirmed to have the virus, eight have “returned to their homes to stay in their homes until fully recovered, one is in the hospital, and five have fully recovered; and one is, uh, we think in pretty good shape, and is in between hospital and going home.” Trump later said the person was “pretty sick and hopefully will recover.”

The means that the virus isn’t quite as deadly as many have feared. Factors that could work in our favor include great sanitation, access to excellent medical care, and good diet…all of which play a role in recovering from illness.

Another aspect of Trump’s announcement that I found encouraging was that he wasn’t appointing a “Coronavirus Czar”. I recall the antics of the “Ebola Czar” during the previous administration. The position, which as filled by an Obama operative, didn’t enhance one aspect of an initially chaotic response to the American cases of the deadly hemorrhagic fever.

Vice President Michael Pence is the perfect choice to head up the Task Force. Firstly, Pence clearly has not acted to undermine Trump in the past 3 plus-years of their partnership.

Secondly, like Azar, Pence will not engage in fear-mongering, and his demeanor will make it difficult for the press to go into panic-mode. But if Pence tells you its bad, chances are that the assessment won’t be based on fake videos or edited graphics.

Thirdly, this is a real chance for Pence to shine on his own despite the bright light of Trump’s charisma. Many of us are looking ahead to 2024, and a successful response by Pence would make him a formidable candidate if he opted to seek the Oval Office.

Perhaps the best moment in the press conference came when Trump, a known germaphobe, discussed being hugged by a sick man.

In that exchanged, Trump gave the public a real-world view of the virus’ spread. In my view, his suggesting that Americans use the same protocol for protecting themselves against a flu for which there was no vaccine…and describing the approach so vividly…was pitch perfect.

On the topic of vaccines: Also on stage was the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAD) Dr Anthony Fauci, who noted that trials are set to begin for a vaccine for coronavirus, a record-setting three months after the virus was sequenced.

He added that the vaccine won’t be ready for a year to a year-and-a-half.

At that point, it will make little impact on the current outbreak but, in the likely event that the virus is here to stay in coming years, Dr Fauci expects a vaccine will be ready.

I appreciated Trump focusing on each member of the panel, and providing evidence that the United States was the best prepared country, in terms of dealing with an epidemic. And while more can always be done, the press conference sent the message that whatever action taken will be as effective as possible.

On the other hand, the press covered itself with shame. Most of the questions were not an attempt to gather more information, but to create “gotcha” moments and to politicize this particular crisis. Trump had the best cure for this tactic, as he dismissed the trite narratives and replaced them with his own…including the fact that his travel ban helped us keep our current infection numbers low.


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I’m interested in an observation that there have been few infections and no deaths in the 0 to 15 yo group.

Usually, the old and the young are at risk, but this seems to favor the old only.

But, but – WE DON’T HAVE FREE HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYONE! How could we possibly be the best prepared? Without free healthcare, won’t everyone just get sick and die?

    No, everyone just getting sick and dying will only be possible WITH free healthcare. Then everyone gets an equal amount of no treatment and dying while waiting for no treatment.

    LookoutABear in reply to gospace. | February 27, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Well when 150 million were killed by gun violence according to Biden, i guess there just aren’t enough people left to die from inadequate healthcare /s

It’s encouraging that none of the 15 have died, but when a very bad mortality rate is 1%, a sample size of 15 isn’t enough to draw any firm conclusions.

    Tom Servo in reply to BKC. | February 27, 2020 at 10:09 am

    This is a serious outbreak, and there will be deaths, and we should take precautions. Having said that, I see no evidence which suggests this will be much different than the SARS or H1N1 outbreaks in previous years. They were difficult, but manageable. So will this be.

Leslie, I wasn’t aware of your background. You brought some great insight to the issue. Thank you.

    Leslie, I really don’t know what to believe at this point but clearly politics is 99% of the problem. A few weeks ago, an Indian lab released a study suggesting this virus was a mutation between the old SARS virus and HIV. Citing the near impossible odds of that happening, they suggested (or maybe flat out declared) that this was a man-made straing (aka weaponized. The world almost uniformly united to trash that study.

    Now yesterday, a Chinese lab released essentially the same study only this time, they have nothing to say about the probability of this kind of mutation happening.

    How believable is this? Granted this is being spread by ZeroHedge which despite being a fountain of good information for investors, tends to just to extreme conclusions when it involves issues that could crash the economy. To ZH, every day is the last chance to get out of the market.

    Still, we have the CDC again spreading panic today based on one single unconfirmed case that may have been infected domestically. Either the CDC has valid reasons for spreading panic or they don’t. Could we possibly be in the opening days of a biological WWIII? Isn’t this what it would look like?

      RandomCrank in reply to Pasadena Phil. | February 27, 2020 at 1:03 pm

      ZeroHedge is garbage. I’m a retired financial analyst and looked at them for a while after the Panic of 2008. Doom and gloom craziness there. Ignore ZeroHedge.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to RandomCrank. | February 27, 2020 at 2:37 pm

        So right.

        They used to do a much better job of keeping their “Fake Mask” on, but not it Nutter City!

          While I’m optimistic about coronavirus, I condemn the panic mongering and assorted other bullshit regardless of where it is coming from. The other day, I quit a survival blog after they posted a selenium cure.

          I don’t think there’ll be mass deaths here, but it’s a serious matter. If there was ever a time to shed the bullshit, this is that time.

          notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital. | February 27, 2020 at 3:51 pm

          All last year the DEMS and their Media tried to gaslight us in to a real recession?

          Didn’t work then and it sure as heck isn’t going to work this year!

      Could this be “Biological WWIII”? Sure, but odds are strongly against it. What else, at this point, do most of us have to go on?

      Meanwhile, having some extra food and other stuff in the house, in case you can’t go out for a couple of weeks, is one prudent, non-panicky thing we can do.

      And, I was going to run a check over to my financial advisor, to buy stocks, but I ran out of time. Maybe tomorrow. They are on sale!

        RandomCrank in reply to Septimus. | February 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm

        My guess (and that’s really what it is) is that this might have originated in a badly run biohazard lab. But I do not think it was a bioweapon. The logic argues very strongly against it. Never underestimate sheer human incompetence.

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Pasadena Phil. | February 27, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      “…clearly politics is 99% of the problem!”

      Amen and Amen!

      The article from the Indian lab was voluntarily withdrawn by the authors, after being debunked by other researchers.

    I think she’s exaggerating, and stealing some glory, because I’ve never met a Biochemist before.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to DouglasJBender. | February 27, 2020 at 11:21 am

      I was fortunate to count Gertrude Elion as a friend. I worked with many of the smartest people people in America when we were lobbying Congress. She was one on them, a very nice person, often funny, who accomplished great things.

      To whomever downvoted my comment (if it was purposeful and not accidental):

      I assumed that my comment was sufficiently stupid that it would be clearly seen as an attempt at humor. My apologies for not being stupid enough. I’m still learning the complexities of humor, so please be patient with me.

There is a sad reality. Today’s media sells a different product: they sell shock. And in this case that shock comes in the form of panic. Of course, I am not saying that we should take the issue lightly.
I have seen a map in the news that displays the countries where cases have been found in red color. When you look at the map, it looks like the whole world is infected.
Funny example: Russia appeared colored, all of it. But there are only 2 confirmed cases in all of Russia!
That has to be intentional.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Exiliado. | February 27, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    So right.

    Just as intentional as the DNC using very similar shades of blue to indicate which candidates won each county in Iowa a few weeks back – so it looked like Bernie’s wins were much less.

    Milhouse in reply to Exiliado. | February 27, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    There is a sad reality. Today’s media sells a different product: they sell shock. And in this case that shock comes in the form of panic.

    Different from when? When were the news channels not in the business of selling shock and panic? They’ve been doing this for as long as they’ve existed. Example: Jack the Ripper.

The CNN analysts couldn’t keep themselves from talking about Katrina with glee in their voices in the warm-up to the press conference.

You can tell that the press conference was effective, because they cut away and went back to their regularly scheduled programming.

JusticeDelivered | February 27, 2020 at 9:44 am

It is great that our government is prepared, but individuals should also be prepared.

Research indicates that lightly treating the outside of a surgical mask with a saltwater solution, then dry before using, will help kill virus.

An Israeli company is producing a copper infused fiber filter material for masks. That sounds promising.

Have a moderate amount of food stockpiled, medicine. Stay in as much as possible if there is an outbreak in your community. Minimize exposure.

It doesn’t matter what Trump’s response is. Democrats and nevertrumpers want an economy-crushing issue to wield against him.

They’ve been searching for something to drag the economy down (the only possible way to beat Trump in Nov) and they’ve glummed onto their “selling” of Trump’s COVID-19 response as being too little, too late, too this, too that, etc. And the media is selling it as hard as the dems and nevertrumpers are. People are in place. Whatever can be done is being done, but nooooooo, this is Trump’s huge mistake……before anything bad even has a chance to happen.

Since there are so many questions the thing might be to NOT PANIC before we know what we are dealing with. I’m sure many would rather TRump run up 3 steps to the podium run behind the lectern with his white shirt sleeves rolled up like he’s only got a minute and say nothing like Obama

    True, but it’s always a good idea to get a headstart on things, so a mild early panic might keep the doctor away, so to speak.

      This reminds me of 1999 when a co-worker asked if I was preparing for the millenium and I told them if they hadn’t started 10 years ago they were too far behind to bother. I live with the constant prospect of Cascadia, possibly before I even end this email. I do what I can and then I leave the results with the results committee. Nothing pisses off the government more than self-sufficiency.

    A sign that at least a few people are panicking? As of this typing Mountain House has temporarily stopped sales over the phone and on its website in order to do an emergency inventory. Even a few days ago they were saying they were doing their best to get more product as fast as possible.

      snopercod in reply to p. | February 27, 2020 at 2:32 pm

      I changed my wife’s critical prescriptions from 30 day refills to 90 day because there is a good chance that they might become unavailable at some point.

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to p. | February 27, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      As I recall their products are absolute salt mines.

      People are better off just buying canned goods, frozen foods, dried beans and peas, pasta, dried fruits, etc.

After reading the WSJ and the fish wrapper AJC this morning, I realized that the mortality of this virus may well pale in comparison to the monetary illness that the msm and the Dems are going to cause. Their constant attempt to blame Trump for this and the exaggerated claims made by Rosenstein’s sister at the CDC shows how desperate they are to create a new Russian hoax. If we stop for one minute to think of the chain of events that could cripple our economy it is truly scary. Take air travel. If we all cut back even on domestic travel that will have an enormous effect on many other industries. Then those industries will have an effect on others because of their employees cutting back or being laid off. It will make the fuel and toilet paper shortages look like tea parties. Precautions must be taken but panic and overreactions must be avoided.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to inspectorudy. | February 27, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Kinda makes you want to think that the….
    DEMS Colluded with the Communist Chinese Party on this…………

ScottTheEngineer | February 27, 2020 at 10:40 am

I liked the way some of the media were begging for regular press conferences that aren’t in front of the helicopter.

Leslie, can you call it the Wuhan virus or COVID19 virus?
Call it it a coronavirus makes it sound like something new, like calling HIV a retrovirus in 1980’s. It gives the disease an extra level of mystique.

JackinSilverSpring | February 27, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Just two observations: 1) President Trump was prescient in stopping flights to China, and for that he was called a racist; 2) again, shutting down the flow of illegal aliens will reduce the incidence of the virus in the US, but the DemoncRats will continue to shriek about how let in those aliens.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to JackinSilverSpring. | February 27, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    The Democrats are INFECTED – infected with a virus!

    It will be interesting to see what happens if some person crossing the porous Southern border has coronavirus. This is entirely possible given much poorer public health conditions in Mexico and Central America. The Dems heads would explode if Trump turned around and used the extra $5 billion the Dems want to appropriate to really close that border, for public health reasons.

    The other thing that will be interesting is if it gets into the homeless population in the West, that the Dems have largely ignored. Could that cause some cities to be shut down. Unfortunately, the consequence of that would be bad for the economy, at the wrong time for Trump’s reelection.

      zdude in reply to jb4. | February 28, 2020 at 10:46 am

      I suspect that the Dems push for the huge increase in contravirus funding is about weaponizing this emergency to their benefit in the upcoming election. Those billions will not be general funding lines but will be Congressional Plus ups with specific targets who will get the money. Very good chance those targeted to receive this funding will be almost all Dems. Also good chance they’ll be community support funding with very squishy rationale for use. Think of a few billion to pay local activists to do community “outreach” for Coronavirus preparation but in reality putting a Dem face on caring to the public. Remember: “NEVER LET AN EMERGENCY GO TO WASTE!”

The most effective thing a person can do is wash your hands. Coronavirus comes from the same family as the common cold, and nothing’s more effective against colds than washing your hands.

About 10 years ago, I got religion on that. Went from three or four colds a year to maybe three colds in the past decade. When washing your hands, spend 45 seconds at it. Use soap and the hottest water you can stand.

If you handle currency or coins, or touch a doorknob or a shopping cart, wash your hands ASAP. Carry a paper towel or two and use them to protect your hand when opening doors or using shopping carts. If someone coughs or sneezes, close your eyes and mouth and turn away.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to RandomCrank. | February 27, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    SPOT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I try to do all that all the time.

    After washing your hands thoroughly, you can open most restroom doors with your foot or an elbow.

    However if they have bad design and the handle is on the inside of the restroom door, then use a couple of paper towels or even toilette tissue if the restroom only has those air blower hand dryers.

      That’s exactly what I’ve been doing when possible with doors, but as you mentioned it’s not always possible hence carrying paper towels and/or getting them within a rest room.

      I’ve also quit shaking hands for the duration. I’m not any kind of germophobe, so this heightened level requires more awareness, and frankly at times makes me feel a bit like a nutcase. I also postponed a planned trip East, not wanting to be stuck 2,500 miles away in a quarantine if things get bad.

      I am actually quite optimistic at the overall level. I think Trump did a very good job at the press conference, which I listened to twice in its entirety. At the link is an example of the sort of media bullshit that I really object to.

      It’s from Bloomberg News, and I know that commenters here will chortle about that. As a) a former professional journalist, and b) a former financial professional, I’ve always had a lot of respect for that source, and am sorely disappointed to see them play the “Resistance” game.

      I’m not as rabid as many conservatives, especially with something like this. If there was ever a time to put country first, this is it. I’d have exactly the same attitude if the president were a Democrat. Country first, and everything else is in 10th place with me.

      The best “alternative” source, IMO, has been WattsUpWithThat, the “climate change denial” blog. They’ve been running some posts about the virus, and they’ve done a great job. The anti-Trump media? Not so much. Damn them for what they’ve done to journalism.

    drednicolson in reply to RandomCrank. | February 27, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    Too much washing strips away the outer layer of dead skin cells, exposing virgin skin to outside air and the pathogens therein.

    Germs don’t stick to the horny layer (that’s what it’s called, I kid you not) for near as long as they do on fresh skin, because the dead cells constantly flake off. It’s your built-in microthin suit of ablative disease armor.

    I’m not advocating that we all go out and roll in manure, but excessive cleanliness can be just as unhealthy as living in constant filth.

      Do you have any idea how long the virus can live on a surface touched by an infected person, such as an apple in the supermarket that you buy.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to jb4. | February 27, 2020 at 11:43 pm

        The “press” was reporting for hours and hours.

        However, that is in line with recent findings that all viruses can exist on hard surfaces for hours and hours longer than traditionally thought.

        So I lay down the “press” reporting as more of their SCARE TACTICS!

        The same research report stated that viruses could not live on cloth surfaces nearly as long as on hard surfaces.

      RandomCrank in reply to drednicolson. | February 28, 2020 at 11:58 am

      I doubt I’m compulsive territory. LOL

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 27, 2020 at 3:06 pm

Thanks Leslie for the Thomas Payne tweet.

TOUCHE Thomas, Touche!

Mike ‘Thomas Paine’ Moore @Thomas1774Paine

I’ve never seen the WH media this rabid like tonight. I would start the virus testing in that room. These people are not normal.

Ca. reported that that had to ask the CDC to test for this virus because apparently they did not have the test materials and the CDC only has several hundred test kits. If true, this boggles my mind. A typical flu season has many thousands of cases.Reliable information seems to be rationed.

    A radiologist was on Tucker Carlson tonight saying that the virus can be determined by looking at a CAT scan of the lungs – somewhat hard to believe for a very mild case.

      alaskabob in reply to jb4. | February 28, 2020 at 11:38 am

      As a radiologist I concur with the basic premise. However, xray findings lag going in and lag coming out of the virus. That said, the real measure of the lung involvement will be seen on CT. It is unique enough to raise flags immediately.

Media and dems are happy because they’re hoping America will go into a depression and they can blame PDJT. So they’ll keep blowing smoke up everyone’s fanny all day long.

    jb4 in reply to 4fun. | February 27, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    While I agree with your view, the outcome is not as clear cut. The Dems will portray themselves as the healthcare party and claim Trump has done a lousy job – they already are. However, I think that history shows that in national emergency type situations, people general are not eager to change horses in midstream. The old adage, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it” conceivably could apply here.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 27, 2020 at 11:39 pm

President Trump Considering “Defense Production Act” to Expand Domestic Production of U.S. Medical Needs…

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 28, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Too good not to pass along.

California Joe says:
Consider that 80,000 Americans died in the United States alone last winter from the common flu virus and you never read a word about it! This is a news media and Wall Street created panic attack over nothing. Are you still reeling from the financial impact or devastation of the SARS Virus? The MERS Virus? The ZIKA Virus? The Ebola Virus? Me neither!

Here’s a bit of advice. Don’t put your briefcase, backpack or purse on the floor, especially at a public toilet. And if you place your bags on the floor, don’t then place them on the desk or counter you’re working at.

Ah, and don’t lick the soles of your shoes and then drink a beverage.

Those two things.

Oh, and 10% bleach in a little squirt bottle is the best hand sanitizer.