Protesters targeting Acton, another Trump watchdog down, COVID-19 v. the flu

    Dr. Amy Acton addresses reporters at a news conference earlier this year. Capital Journal photo by Jake Zuckerman

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    Catching Our Eye:

    Quick Hits.

    Cleveland Scene’s Brett Zelman is reporting, “Ohio State Rep. Nino Vitale Calls Dr. Amy Acton, Who is Jewish, a Globalist.”

    Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jason Williams and Sharon Coolidge are reporting, “Top Ohio lawmaker: Mike DeWine too reliant on Amy Acton to reopen economy, ‘time to walk back heavy hand of government’.”

    Cleveland.com’s Eric Heisig is reporting, “Small group protests Ohio coronavirus restrictions outside Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton’s house.”

    Another one bites the dust. New York Times’ Peter Baker is reporting, “Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical Shortages.”

    “President Trump moved on Friday night to replace a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services who angered him with a report last month highlighting supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

    “The White House waited until after business hours to announce the nomination of a new inspector general for the department who, if confirmed, would take over for Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who was publicly assailed by the president at a news briefing three weeks ago.

    “The nomination was the latest effort by Mr. Trump against watchdog offices around his administration that have defied him. In recent weeks, he fired an inspector general involved in the inquiry that led to the president’s impeachment, nominated a White House aide to another key inspector general post overseeing virus relief spending and moved to block still another inspector general from taking over as chairman of a pandemic spending oversight panel.

    “Mr. Trump has sought to assert more authority over his administration and clear out officials deemed insufficiently loyal in the three months since his Senate impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ended in acquittal largely along party lines. While inspectors general are appointed by the president, they are meant to be semiautonomous watchdogs ferreting out waste, fraud and corruption in executive agencies.”

    COVID-19 v. the Flu. ProPublica’s Caroline Chen is reporting, “What Antibody Studies Can Tell You — and More Importantly, What They Can’t.”

    “Comparisons to the flu keep coming back like a many-headed hydra, and they roared back last week with a vengeance.

    “The estimates I’ve seen for influenza (infection fatality rate) IFR range from about 0.14% on the upper end to 0.04% on the lower end. So if the IFR for this coronavirus ends up being around 0.5%, that’s still many times worse than the flu. But that’s not the main problem. At the end of the day, wherever the coronavirus fatality rate ends up, it doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have any immunity to the virus, which is a critical factor in why we’ve had to behave differently in our response to it.

    “Marc Lipsitch, head of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, has estimated that ultimately 20% to 60% of the population could be infected with COVID-19. By comparison, because of immunity provided by flu shots, only about 10% to 20% of the population gets sick with influenza every year, according to Kilpatrick.

    “Kilpatrick sketched out what this meant: ‘If it’s five times deadlier than the seasonal flu, and three times as many people are going to get it, that means we’re going to get 15 times as many deaths. And 15 times 30,000, which is the middle-of-the-road kind of a seasonal flu year, that’s 450,000 deaths — about half a million deaths — that’s a pretty big, scary number, I think.’

    “There are additional reasons why comparing the flu to the coronavirus isn’t apples to apples. We’re two to three months into the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. By comparison, the typical flu season lasts many months. So comparing current deaths from the coronavirus to a complete flu season doesn’t make sense.”

    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.