Dr. Rick Bright resigns from the National Institute of Health

failed White House leadership

Dr. Rick Bright has resigned from the National Institute of Health on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. Here is his letter.

Of all the tools required for an effective U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, one that is sorely missing is the truth. Public health guidance on the pandemic response, drafted by career scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been repeatedly overruled by political staff appointed by the Trump administration. Career scientists throughout the Department of Health and Human Services hesitate to push back when science runs counter to the administration’s unrealistically optimistic pronouncements.

Public health and safety have been jeopardized by the administration’s hostility to the truth and by its politicization of the pandemic response, undoubtedly leading to tens of thousands of preventable deaths. For that reason, and because the administration has in effect barred me from working to fight the pandemic, I resigned on Tuesday from the National Institutes of Health.

BARDA

Until April, I had for almost four years been director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. When I strongly objected this past spring to the Trump administration’s insistence that BARDA support widespread access to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, two potentially dangerous drugs recklessly promoted by President Trump as a COVID-19 cure, I was shunted to the NIH and assigned a more limited role in the pandemic response.

My task at the NIH was to help launch a program expanding national COVID-19 testing capacity. The program is well underway and should reach nearly 1 million daily tests by the end of the year. Since early September, though, I was given no work; my services apparently were no longer needed.

I fear the benefits of dramatically improved testing capacity will be wasted unless it is a part of a coordinated national testing strategy. My recommendations to support a national plan were met with a tepid response. In an administration that suffers from widespread internal chaos, such coordination may be impossible — especially when the White House has seemed determined to slow down testing and not test people who might have asymptomatic infections.

Making it worse

From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the administration’s failure to respond with a coordinated strategy only heightened the danger. Now the nation, and the world, are in the worst public health crisis in over a century. More than 1 million people worldwide have died from the pandemic; more than 211,000 Americans are dead. More than half of the states in this country are reporting rising COVID-19 cases.

Nine months into the pandemic, the United States continues to grapple with failed White House leadership. Instead, we get the recent spectacle of the president exploiting his own illness for political purposes and advising the nation, “Don’t be afraid of COVID.” Ironically, he was only able to leave the hospital after receiving two treatments that I had pushed for in January.

Meanwhile, there is still no coordinated national strategy to end the pandemic. Federal agencies, staffed with some of the best scientists in the world, continue to be politicized, manipulated, and ignored.

The country is flying blind into what could be the darkest winter in modern history. Undoubtedly, millions more Americans will be infected with the coronavirus and influenza; many thousands will die. Now, more than ever before, the public needs to be able to rely on honest, non-politicized, and unmanipulated public health guidance from career scientists.

Your government (not) at work

Reduce MY energy

governmentYour government (not) at work are a few stories that engaged my interest:

There was a terrible report about a young driver who killed seven motorcyclists in a New Hampshire crash this spring. In light of that, Massachusetts suspended more than 500 drivers licenses.

“The [Massachusetts] Registry of Motor Vehicles failed to act on information sent from other states that called for the suspension of some drivers’ licenses… The dismal driving history of the man charged with [the horrific accident] — coupled with bureaucratic failures in Massachusetts that allowed him to keep his license — highlight weaknesses in the state and federal systems designed to keep unsafe drivers off the road.

“The case of 23-year-old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy has exposed a patchwork system of oversight that’s reliant on the actions of individual states, many of which use a slow-moving, paper-driven communication network.”


There were primaries in New York State in late June, and I noted these results in a town in Albany County.
KNOX COUNCILMAN (VOTE FOR) 2
(WITH 3 OF 3 EDs COUNTED)
Earl H. Barcomb . . . . . . . . 179 34.82
Dennis P. Barber . . . . . . . . 178 34.63
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 157 30.54
Of course, the two candidates won. But if the write-in count had exceeded 178 votes, the Board of Elections would have had to start differentiating WHO got those write-ins.


Last month, I got this message at work: “This is a reminder to turn your lights off today as a participant in this year’s ‘2019 Daylight Hour’, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Daylight Hour is an effort to raise awareness of energy savings and the impact humans can have on saving energy. This message is to encourage all SUNY System Administration, SUCF, and RF employees to join this effort by shutting off all unnecessary lights from noon to 1 pm today.

“Many of our campuses have already signed up for this event. Plaza Operations will be lowering corridor and lobby lighting during this time period. We ask that all participants turn off their work space and office lighting where possible. Behavioral impact can be much greater than most people recognize. This event will help illustrate the impact our decisions have on our overall energy costs.”

I dutifully complied. I couldn’t get much done at work that hour because I couldn’t really read my keyboard. The dimmed lighting also made me sleepy. I wrote to a colleague: “Reduce energy AND kill productivity!”

NYS Constitutional Convention Event October 30

GET EDUCATED ON THE UPCOMING NYS BALLOT ISSUE ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
Featuring
Erika Lorshbough, NYCLU, Legislative Counsel
And
Laura Bierman, League of Women Voters of NYS, Executive Director

MONDAY, OCTOBER 30 AT 6 PM
ALBANY PUBLIC LIBRARY
161 WASHINGTON AVENUE

We will hear the Pros (LWVNYS) and Cons (NYCLU) of voting on whether or not NYS should convene a Constitutional Convention in 2018.

Sponsored by
NYCLU, Citizen Action and LWVNYS

* The event is free and open to the public. *

Since Americans can’t be bothered to vote, don’t they deserve the government they get?

“We are their victims. We are weak and pathetic. But only by choice.”

conversationArthur asked the question above, and I’m compelled to respond to it.

My answer is “NO.”

Interestingly, I subsequently found, on Arthur’s Facebook, a link to this Inequality Tower, with his note, “Yep, this is pretty much New Zealand today—and most other Western democracies. Do you care? Do you vote as IF you care?”

A lot of people have been trained NOT to care, to believe “they” are all scoundrels, and it doesn’t make a difference. Gary Kroeger, former cast member of Saturday Night Live, and now running for Congress as a Democrat made an interesting observation: Continue reading “Since Americans can’t be bothered to vote, don’t they deserve the government they get?”

Washing your hands after using the toilet is not government overreach

TillisRiding the bus this week, one of the patrons was reading aloud a story about a US Senator complaining about onerous governmental regulations. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) suggested that businesses should be allowed to “opt out” of requiring employees to wash their hands after using the restroom. “The senator said he’d be fine with it, so long as businesses made this clear in ‘advertising’ and ’employment literature.'” See the video.

The jaw of one of the listeners dropped. Sure, most of us surmised that he was exaggerating to make a point, but it’s SUCH an unsavory image.

The right-wing website HotAir defended Tillis: “The idea is that, even in the most extreme or absurd situations, the common sense of Americans and the self-correcting nature of the free market take care of many woes. There are exceptions, of course, where the government can and should step in to ensure the general welfare, but that doesn’t mean that every single aspect of waking life for normal Americans requires Big Brother to rush in and hold their hands.”

Accepting that premise, one might want to come up with an example of real government overreach, rather than challenging a simple but effective rule to protect the public health.