Coronavirus pandemic update, USA

Amazon worker protest against lack of anti-coronavirus measures

Strikes, protests continue against unsafe working conditions amid coronavirus pandemic. By Marcus Day, 6 April 2020. Workers are asserting their own interests with increasing forcefulness, while capitalist governments are preoccupied with how quickly they can restart production and renew the flow of profits.

As COVID-19 death toll rises, the ruling classes agitate for a premature return to work. 6 April 2020 As the surgeon general of the United States warned that the coming week will be “our 9/11 moment,” President Trump demanded that the government stop “paying people to stay home”: here.

US auto companies push for return to work at parts distribution centers. By Debra Watson, 6 April 2020. Auto companies continue to pressure workers to staff the auto giants’ vast warehouse distribution centers.

Quarantined Amazon worker in Texas denied sick pay, unable to get tested for coronavirus. By Tom Carter, 6 April 2020. Jo, a quarantined Amazon worker at DFW7, has not received any sick pay despite a glossy company leaflet promising that quarantined employees “will receive up to two weeks of additional paid time off, so they can get healthy without worrying about lost income.”

Detroit nurses forced to leave hospital after protesting understaffing. By Evan Blake, 6 April 2020. At around midnight Monday morning, seven night shift nurses at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit were sent home after refusing to work in unsafe, understaffed conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses across the US demand equipment for protection against COVID-19: here.

Nurses protesting outside the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York City

Bronx hospital physician provides harrowing account of conditions on front lines of pandemic. By Benjamin Mateus, 6 April 2020. Miguel, a third-year resident in internal medicine at a community hospital in the Bronx, spoke to the WSWS on the experiences of health care workers and patients.

Fired aircraft carrier commander has COVID-19. By Patrick Martin, 6 April 2020. The diagnosis underscores the real dangers facing the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and all military personnel, to which Trump is entirely indifferent.

How dragonflies survive bacteria

This 2017 video says about itself:

Dragonfly wings are covered in bacteria-killing nanopillars, and scientists are taking inspiration from them to make smarter anti-bacterial surfaces.

From the University of Bristol in England:

Insect wings hold antimicrobial clues for improved medical implants

April 6, 2020

Some insect wings such as cicada and dragonfly possess nanopillar structures that kill bacteria upon contact. However, to date, the precise mechanisms that cause bacterial death have been unknown.

Using a range of advanced imaging tools, functional assays and proteomic analyses, a study by the University of Bristol has identified new ways in which nanopillars can damage bacteria.

These important findings, published in Nature Communications, will aid the design of better antimicrobial surfaces for potential biomedical applications such as medical implants and devices that are not reliant on antibiotics.

Bo Su, Professor of Biomedical Materials at the University of Bristol’s Dental School, who authored the research said:

“In this work, we sought to better understand nanopillar-mediated bactericidal mechanisms. The current dogma is that nanopillars kill bacteria by puncturing bacterial cells, resulting in lysis. However, our study shows that the antibacterial effects of nanopillars are actually multifactorial, nanotopography- and species-dependent.

“Alongside deformation and subsequent penetration of the bacterial cell envelope by nanopillars, particularly for Gram-negative bacteria, we found the key to the antibacterial properties of these nanopillars might also be the cumulative effects of physical impedance and induction of oxidative stress.

“We can now hopefully translate this expanded understanding of nanopillar-bacteria interactions into the design of improved biomaterials for use in real-world applications.”

Funded by the Medical Research Council, the implications of the research are far-reaching. Prof. Su explains:

“Now we understand the mechanisms by which nanopillars damage bacteria, the next step is to apply this knowledge to the rational design and fabrication of nanopatterned surfaces with enhanced antimicrobial properties.

“Additionally, we will investigate the human stem cell response to these nanopillars, so as to develop truly cell-instructive implants that not only prevent bacterial infection but also facilitate tissue integration.”

British Boris Johnson to intensive care

This 6 April 2020 British TV video says about itself:

Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after coronavirus symptoms worsen

Boris Johnson has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital after his condition “worsened”.

He has asked the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to deputise for him where necessary.

Coronavirus pandemic kills jazz musicians

This 2011 video says about itself:

The Seventh String: The Life and Tales of Bucky Pizzarelli

A documentary on the life of renowned jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, from his experience on The Tonight Show to traveling with Benny Goodman.

Made for Unscripted, a summer class taught at the Jacob Burns Media Arts Lab for aspiring student documentary filmmakers.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Prominent jazz musicians die in COVID-19 pandemic

6 April 2020

Numerous prominent musicians may be counted among the more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded globally and the nearly 70,000 lives that have now been lost.

Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, of “Soul Makossa” fame, died March 24 at the age of 86. Pianist Mike Longo, a longtime collaborator of Dizzy Gillespie’s, died March 22 at 83. Songwriter Adam Schlesinger died April 1 at 52.

The 73-year-old British singer Marianne Faithfull was recently hospitalized in London. Beloved country singer John Prine, also 73, has now spent more than a week in an ICU, where he has needed the assistance of a ventilator. Guitarist Larry Campbell, 65, has also been fighting the disease. “For the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling to stay alive,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview published April 2.

In the last week alone, three significant jazz musicians in the US lost their lives: Ellis Marsalis, Bucky Pizzarelli and Wallace Roney. Their deaths are the result, not only of a terrible virus, but of the criminal inaction and deliberate neglect of the US government in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. died April 1 at the age of 85. In addition to his achievements as a pianist and music educator, Marsalis also founded his own musical dynasty. His sons include trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason. …

Marsalis and Pizzarelli, it needs to be pointed out, were both in the age range considered expendable by American capitalism. As they succumbed to COVID-19, Trump administration officials, right-wing commentators such as Glenn Beck and more “reasonable” figures like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman all publicly debated whether it would not be better for the economy to let such people die.

The cold calculations of these spokesmen for profit stand in stark contrast to the warmth and humanity exhibited by the large numbers of ordinary people now grieving the loss of these artists. Well into their 80s and 90s, Marsalis and Pizzarelli, continued to give something meaningful to the world they lived in, just as they always had, and just as many countless others do, in large and small ways, most of whose names will never be widely known. In the context of the homicidal debates raging among the various mouthpieces for governments and corporations, the lives of these veteran artists somehow come to represent the humanity of an entire generation.

The deaths of these musicians, moreover, are a further reminder of the devastating cultural dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. We go forward with the confidence that the murderous inhumanity of the ruling elite will not go unanswered by the working class.

Coronavirus pandemic in Japan and Britain

This 6 April 2020 video says about itself:

Japan Coronavirus Update 4/6/2020: Emergency Declaration, 4000 Infections, Social Issues

Today I discuss the increasing amount of infections amounting to nearly 4000 cases as of right now. The PM will be declaring a state of emergency and I explain what that means for the people of Japan. The medical apparatus seems to be already straining.

Tokyo Olympic Games athletes village considered for coronavirus patients: here.

As Europe’s COVID-19 death toll nears 50,000, British PM Johnson admitted to hospital. By Robert Stevens, 6 April 2020. There is mounting evidence that fatalities are much higher when deaths outside hospitals are factored in: here.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Monday, April 6, 2020

GMB says: ‘Porters are inundated with bodies, which are now wrapped in sheets’

TWO hospitals serving almost half a million people in London and Surrey have run out of body bags as the coronavirus death toll mounts, according to GMB today.

More than 50 people have died from the coronavirus at the Epsom & St Helier University Trust’s two general hospitals.

Porters have told GMB that they are being “traumatised” by having to wrap bodies in sheets, risking being infected themselves.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Monday, April 6, 2020

Private ambulance driver displaying coronavirus symptoms refused test

A DRIVER employed by a private ambulance operator was refused a coronavirus test despite displaying symptoms because it is too “expensive”, the GMB union said today.

The driver is employed by the HATS Group, which describes itself as “a leading provider of healthcare transport services with a reputation for professionalism and service excellence.”

HATS provides non-emergency patient transport for several NHS Trusts in London, including Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.

Trump hijacks Barbados coronavirus ventilators, other news

This 4 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Andrew Cuomo thanks China for ventilators as New York prepares for coronavirus peak

The New York [governor] has said the Chinese government will facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators to arrive into JFK airport on Saturday as the city prepares to hit its coronavirus ‘apex’. Andrew Cuomo said: ‘This is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us. We’re not at the apex so we’re still in the stage where we have the luxury – if you will – of gathering as much as we can’,

The ventilator shortage, capitalism and the fight for socialist planning. By Jerry White, 6 April 2020. Millions are asking why is there a shortage of breathing machines and what must be done about it.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Monday, April 6, 2020

US accused of ‘modern piracy’ after seizing ventilators bound for Barbados

BARBADOS is seeking answers after the US seized a consignment of ventilators destined for the country in its battle to fight the global coronavirus pandemic, prompting accusations of “modern piracy”.

The Caribbean country’s Health Minister Jeffrey Bostic confirmed that the shipment had been barred from export by Washington for unknown reasons.

“They were seized in the United States. Paid for, but seized, so we are trying to see exactly what is going to transpire there,” he said on Sunday.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 6 April 2020:

GREECE: The Malakasa refugee camp north-east of Athens was placed in quarantine yesterday after a resident tested positive for Covid-19, the second migrant facility in the past four days.

Last Thursday the Ritsona camp was placed on lockdown for 14 days after a woman in labour tested positive for the disease.

No cases have yet been recorded on the Greek islands, where thousands of refugees live in squalid and overcrowded camps.

Refugee camps are a tinderbox for the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus and the war on the working class. Capitalists and the ‘concerned billionaires’ of the world are clamouring to ignore the health professionals and restore the accumulation process immediately, says ZOLTAN ZIGEDY.

Ontario warns of more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic spreads rapidly across Canada. By Roger Jordan, 6 April 2020. The figures presented are horrifying, but likely an underestimation of the catastrophe threatening the province and country unless urgent counter-measures are taken.

Indian medical staff speak to WSWS on COVID-19 pandemic. By Yuan Darwin and Nanda Kumar, 6 April 2020. Indian medical staff are struggling to fight COVID-19 under conditions of a run-down public health system and high-population densities without basic facilities.

Australian Committee for Public Education holds successful online meeting on pandemic crisis: here.

New Zealand school at centre of escalating COVID-19 outbreak. By John Braddock, 6 April 2020. At 72 cases and still rising, Auckland’s Marist College contains the country’s biggest cluster of COVID-19 infections.

Whale sharks and nuclear bombs

This 2019 video says about itself:

Whale Sharks: Meet The Gentle Giants Of The Sea! | The Blue Realm

Scientists are racing against time to save the whale shark. Utilizing space-age technology from NASA and the Hubble Telescope, researchers are able to identify, catalogue and track individual animals.

From the Australian Institute of Marine Science:

Cold War nuclear bomb tests reveal true age of whale sharks

The radioactive legacy of the arms race solves a mystery about the world’s largest fish

April 6, 2020

Atomic bomb tests conducted during the Cold War have helped scientists for the first time correctly determine the age of whale sharks.

The discovery, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, will help ensure the survival of the species — the largest fish in the world — which is classified as endangered.

Measuring the age of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) has been difficult because, like all sharks and rays, they lack bony structures called otoliths that are used to assess the age of other fish.

Whale shark vertebrae feature distinct bands — a little like the rings of a tree trunk — and it was known that these increased in number as the animal grew older. However, some studies suggested that a new ring was formed every year, while others concluded that it happened every six months.

To resolve the question, researchers led by researchers led by Joyce Ong from Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA, Steven Campana from the University of Iceland, and Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Perth, Western Australia, turned to the radioactive legacy of the Cold War’s nuclear arms race.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the USA, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and China conducted tests of nuclear weapons. Many of these were explosions detonated several kilometres in the air.

One powerful result of the blasts was the temporary atmospheric doubling of an isotope called carbon-14.

Carbon-14 is a naturally occurring radioactive element that is often used by archaeologists and historians to date ancient bones and artefacts. Its rate of decay is constant and easily measured, making it ideal for providing age estimates for anything over 300 years old.

However, it is also a by-product of nuclear explosions. Fallout from the Cold War tests saturated first the air, and then the oceans. The isotope gradually moved through food webs into every living thing on the planet, producing an elevated carbon-14 label, or signature, which still persists.

This additional radioisotope also decays at a steady rate — meaning that the amount contained in bone formed at one point in time will be slightly greater than that contained in otherwise identical bone formed more recently.

Using bomb radiocarbon data prepared by Steven Campana, Ong, Meekan, and colleagues set about testing the carbon-14 levels in the growth rings of two long-dead whale sharks stored in Pakistan and Taiwan. Measuring the radioisotope levels in successive growth rings allowed a clear determination of how often they were created — and thus the age of the animal.

“We found that one growth ring was definitely deposited every year,” Dr Meekan said.

“This is very important, because if you over- or under-estimate growth rates you will inevitably end up with a management strategy that doesn’t work, and you’ll see the population crash.”

One of the specimens was conclusively established as 50 years old at death — the first time such an age has been unambiguously verified.

“Earlier modelling studies have suggested that the largest whale sharks may live as long as 100 years,” Dr Meekan said.

“However, although our understanding of the movements, behaviour, connectivity and distribution of whale sharks have improved dramatically over the last 10 years, basic life history traits such as age, longevity and mortality remain largely unknown.

“Our study shows that adult sharks can indeed attain great age and that long lifespans are probably a feature of the species. Now we have another piece of the jigsaw added.”

Whale sharks are today protected across their global range and are regarded as a high-value species for eco-tourism. AIMS is the world’s leading whale shark research body, and the animal is the marine emblem of Dr Meekan’s home state, Western Australia.

Drs Ong, Meekan, and Campana were aided by Dr Hua Hsun Hsu from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, and Dr Paul Fanning from the Pakistan node of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation.