FACEBOOK GROUP DECRIES "COMMUNISTIC" COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS: Ashley Smith, listed as one of ReopenNC’s Facebook page administrators, posted a two-minute video on her personal Facebook page on Thursday urging North Carolina officials to relax social restrictions and allow businesses to reopen. She called the current orders Cooper has in place a “draconian, communistic government move.” The group encourages its members to contact state officials as well as their local sheriffs to demand a return to normal operating procedures. ReopenNC calls Cooper’s executive orders unconstitutional and says curtailing citizens’ civil liberties and damaging the economy is doing more harm than COVID-19 is inflicting. The group’s Facebook page, started last Tuesday, grew to include more than 15,000 members by Sunday.
SOME 80 FATALITIES HAVE RESULTED FROM NC'S CORONAVIRUS CASES: The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported an additional 404 cases over a 24-hour span, bringing the state total to 4,312. That figure is almost uncertainly an undercount because not everyone with the illness is tested. Eighty deaths have been confirmed and 362 people were hospitalized, according to the information the department posted online Saturday. Under Cooper’s new executive order set to take effect on Monday at 5 p.m., retailers, pharmacies and other businesses will have to limit entry so that occupancy can’t be more than 20% of their fire-code capacity. Retailers also will have to mark out 6 feet of spacing in cashier lines and high-traffic areas. Nationwide, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed Italy’s for the highest in the world Saturday at more than 19,700. Worldwide, confirmed infections rose above 1.7 million, with over 100,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
TRUMP RETWEETS A CALL FOR THE FIRING OF DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: President Trump retweeted a call to fire his top infectious disease specialist Anthony S. Fauci on Sunday evening, amid mounting criticism of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. The call, with the hashtag “FireFauci” came from a former Republican congressional candidate, DeAnna Lorraine, who amassed 1.8 percent of the vote in an open primary challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this year. It followed an interview with National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Fauci on CNN’s State of the Union, in which he said a stronger early response by the administration to the outbreak “could have saved lives,” but also characterized the decision to implement social distancing guidelines as “complicated.” Fauci also confirmed a New York Times story saying that he and other experts had wanted to begin social and physical distancing measures as early as February. Trump has often in the past shown his anger with critics within his own administration by retweeting the negative or taunting comments of others, sometimes marginal others like Lorraine, rather than saying anything himself. It allows him to cry “fake news” when the media interprets the retweeted material as reflecting his views.
BRAZIL HALTS STUDY OF CLOROQUINE ON COVID 19 PATIENTS DUE TO HEART ARRHYTHMIA: Roughly half the study participants were given a dose of 450 milligrams of chloroquine twice daily for five days, while the rest were prescribed a higher dose of 600 milligrams for 10 days. Within three days, researchers started noticing heart arrhythmias in patients taking the higher dose. By the sixth day of treatment, 11 patients had died, leading to an immediate end to the high-dose segment of the trial. The researchers said the study did not have enough patients in the lower-dose portion of the trial to conclude if chloroquine was effective in patients with severe disease. More studies evaluating the drug earlier in the course of the disease are “urgently needed,” the researchers said.Several clinical trials for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are testing low doses for shorter periods of time in coronavirus patients. But the Health Commission of Guangdong province in China had initially recommended those sick with the virus be treated with 500 milligrams of chloroquine twice daily for 10 days. One of the authors of the Brazilian study, Dr. Marcus Lacerda, said in an email on Sunday that his study found that “the high dosage that the Chinese were using is very toxic and kills more patients.”
VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS BEEN SPREADING DISINFORMATION ABOUT AMERICAN HEALTH EXPERTS FOR A DECADE: On Feb. 3, soon after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a global health emergency, an obscure Twitter account in Moscow began retweeting an American blog. It said the pathogen was a germ weapon designed to incapacitate and kill. The headline called the evidence “irrefutable” even though top scientists had already debunked that claim and declared the novel virus to be natural. As the pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information — an “infodemic,” according to the World Health Organization. Analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within. The House, the Senate and the nation’s intelligence agencies have typically focused on election meddling in their examinations of Mr. Putin’s long campaign. But the repercussions are wider. An investigation by The New York Times — involving scores of interviews as well as a review of scholarly papers, news reports, and Russian documents, tweets and TV shows — found that Mr. Putin has spread misinformation on issues of personal health for more than a decade. His agents have repeatedly planted and spread the idea that viral epidemics — including flu outbreaks, Ebola and now the coronavirus — were sown by American scientists.