U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, returned on Saturday from his recent trip to Russia.
Shelby led a congressional delegation trip to Russia, which included meetings with high-level U.S. government and Russian officials. The eight member, all Republican, congressional delegation was led by Sen. Shelby.
“During a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the United States, I led a congressional delegation, the largest in many years, to Russia to meet with key leaders of the Russian government,” Shelby said. “Our goal was to have a sober assessment of our differences and to put the unvarnished truth on the table. We had candid discussions with the Foreign Minister, members of the Duma, and the Federation Council about a number of issues, including election interference, Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria. We were honest and frank in expressing our concerns and our shared belief that Russia must make changes in its behavior if our relationship is going to thaw.”
“The United States does not want, nor does it need, to resume a Cold War posture with Russia, and our delegation trip was a small step towards trying to ensure that does not happen,” Sen. Shelby continued. “We will always be competitors, but we do not have to be adversaries. Russia can achieve a better relationship with the U.S., but it has to be earned, one step at a time.”
\The group of congressional members also stopped to meet with officials in Finland and Norway.
The eight-member delegation struck a conciliatory tone with government officials over the course of the trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow, leading to criticism by some in Washington.
“Cannot believe GOP, once the party that stood strong against Soviets & only a decade ago sought to democratize the Middle East, is now surrendering so foolishly to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Kremlin’s kleptocracy — only two years after Russia interfered in U.S. election,” tweeted Clint Watts, an information warfare specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
President Donald J. Trump (R) is preparing to meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United States imposed sanctions on Russia after Russia seized the Crimea from Ukraine and backed armed ethnic Russian militias that revolted against the pro-Western Ukrainian government. Fighting between Ukraine and the Russian backed militias in Eastern Ukraine has not stopped though the war has been locked in a stalemate for years.
Tensions between the Russian government and the West has grown in recent days. On Sunday, 44 year old British woman Dawn Sturgess died after handling an item contaminated with Novichok, a nerve agent manufactured by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sturgess’s boyfriend remains in critical condition. British authorities claim that Novichok was used 12 kilometers away at Salisbury to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March. British Prime Minister Theresa May says that Sturgess’s death is being investigated as a murder. Russia has denied any involvement.
Richard Shelby is the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense.
(Original reporting by the Washington Post and The Guardian contributed to this report.)
Doug Jones: Anniston could still be called upon to treat coronavirus patients
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones issued a statement Monday about the possibility of coronavirus patients being transported to and housed at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.
“Over the weekend, my staff and I participated in briefings regarding the announcement that Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive for the coronavirus might be transported to and housed at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama,” Jones said. “We were advised that the announcement on Saturday regarding the CDP was premature, and although the CDP is one of a number of contingency sites, at this time, the multi-agency plan anticipates using other sites first.”
“It is my understanding that this information is being provided to officials in Anniston, and the folks at the CDP have been told that if their facility is needed in the future, adequate notice and details will be provided,” Jones continued. “I urge the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Centers for Disease Control to do all they can to provide the best care possible for those who must endure quarantine and those who are suffering from this virus.”
“My first priority is to protect the people of Alabama, and I have the utmost confidence that, if called upon, the unmatched professionals at the CDP will rise to the occasion,” Jones stated. “I urge the Administration to continue to keep Congress and the American people informed about their response to this virus and their efforts to prevent any further infections in the United States. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation with hope and compassion for all affected.”
The Calhoun County Commission has announced plans to sue to prevent the City of Anniston from being used to house infected virus patients. They are arguing that while the CDP is used for training purposes, it is not equipped to deal with providing medical care for potentially dozens of people needing serious medical treatment in a quarantine situation.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Coronaviruses are a common family of viruses that is found throughout much of the animal kingdom. This strain of the virus appears to have originated among bats, which are eaten by the Chinese. The virus appears to have crossed species and was first identified in China’s Wuhan City in Hubei Province. Researchers are referring to the disease caused by this strain COVID-19.
As of Monday there have been 80,154 COVID-19 diagnosed cases. 27,591 of those have recovered and been released from medical care. 2,701 people have died from this. Most of the deaths have been in China; but the death toll now includes twelve in Iran, nine in South Korea, seven in Italy, two in Hong Kong, as well as one death each in the Philippines, France, Japan, and Taiwan. This leaves 49,762 active cases of the illness. Of these currently Infected patients, 40,547 (81%) have mild conditions. 9,215 (19%) are currently in serious or critical condition.
There are 691 cases of COVID-19 that have been diagnosed among the passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess. Four of these have already died. 35 of these are in serious or critical condition. Only ten are totally recovered from their illness. Only a portion of the passengers were Americans.
To this point, there are only 53 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, but that is up from 35 on Sunday. There have been no deaths yet, but six of these are in serious or critical condition. The stock market was down more than one thousand points on Monday due to fears that the coronavirus is going to negatively impact global trade, particularly the flow of manufactured goods coming out of China, the world’s second-largest economy. The outbreak in South Korea is particularly alarming for Alabamians given our close trade ties with the country, particularly with Hyundai having a manufacturing plant in Montgomery.
For more about the possible coronavirus pandemic, click here.
Byrne: People of Alabama “do not want the coronavirus brought here”
Sunday, Senate candidate Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, expressed his opposition to a federal government plant to relocated coronavirus infected people in Anniston.
“The people of Alabama DO NOT want the coronavirus brought here,” Congressman Byrne said. “I’m fighting to bring this to a full stop. Leave these people in the place they came to, don’t spread them around the US, and keep them OUT of Alabama. The risk is much too high.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) also expressed concerns about the federal plan to relocate coronavirus exposed passengers to Anniston. Coronavirus infected persons could be in Alabama as early as Wednesday.
“Late Friday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informed me about their proposal to transport Americans who have tested positive with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to a FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston,” Ivey said. “Sensing the urgency, I quickly informed the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones and Congressman Mike Rogers, as well as Dr. Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health.”
“On Saturday, it appears that a press release from HHS was inadvertently, and perhaps prematurely, sent notifying the State of Alabama that these individuals were scheduled to begin transporting to Alabama as early as Wednesday,” Ivey continued.
“Obviously concerned, there were a number of conversations between HHS, the White House, my staff and me, as well as two rounds of conference calls including the senior staff of the Congressional Delegation to try to clarify HHS’ intent and reasoning for selecting Alabama,” Ivey continued. “On one of the calls, they informed us that the CDP in Anniston is only being considered as a “back-up” plan, in case they run out of alternative locations. They assured us on both calls that no decision had been made to send anyone to Anniston.”
“I made it abundantly clear that while the State of Alabama wants to work closely with the Trump Administration to assist fellow Americans who may have tested positive for the Coronavirus, there were some grave concerns about why the site in Anniston was chosen and how, logistically, this would play out in the event this back-up site were to be eventually activated,” Ivey said in a statement to the media. “First and foremost, my priority is to protect the people of Alabama. While locating these folks in Alabama is currently a backup plan, this is a serious issue and we need to be fully aware of the facts regarding the potential of housing them in Anniston.
“I am grateful to Senator Shelby and his team for coordinating today’s effort to send officials from HHS to Alabama to provide further clarity to this situation,” Ivey said. “I also appreciate Congressman Rogers for speaking with the President and informing him of the concern of the people of Alabama. Through these coordinated efforts, we will begin a process that will be transparent, and hopefully find a solution of which we are united and comfortable with.”
Congressman Rogers expressed his concerns about the coronavirus infected persons being housed in the Third Congressional District.
“Earlier this evening, I spoke with President Trump,” Rogers said in a statement on Saturday. He agreed with me that the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to house those Americans exposed to Coronavirus at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston is the wrong decision. President Trump had no advanced notice and these individuals were brought to the continental United States without his consent. I will continue to work with President Trump and HHS to find the best facilities that meet the needs for those Americans that have been exposed to this dangerous virus. The CDP is not that place.”
Byrne shared Rogers comments and added, “We’ve been tracking the issue and I’m glad to stand with Rep. Rogers and President Trump as we work to stop this ill advised plan.”
Coronaviruses are extremely common throughout the animal kingdom and are one of the causes of the “common cold.” This is novel (new) strain of the virus, that appears to have come from bats. Researchers are calling this disease COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”
As of Sunday morning, there have been 78,966 diagnosed cases of COVID-19. 53,079 of these are still active. 23,418 people have recovered from their illness and been discharged. 2,469 have died. Most of these are in China, where the plague originated; but at this point the disease has spread to 32 countries.
Rogers opposes housing persons infected with coronavirus in Anniston
Saturday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) would be used as a quarantine center for some Americans exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Saks, announced that he thinks this is the wrong decision and he is opposed to housing the coronavirus patients in Anniston.
“Earlier this evening, I spoke with President Trump. He agreed with me that the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to house those Americans exposed to Coronavirus at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston is the wrong decision,” Rogers said in a statement. President Trump had no advanced notice and these individuals were brought to the continental United States without his consent. I will continue to work with President Trump and HHS to find the best facilities that meet the needs for those Americans that have been exposed to this dangerous virus. The CDP is not that place,” Rogers said.
The coronavirus is normally just the common cold. We have all had it multiple time. The novel (new) strain of the coronavirus appeared in Wuhan City, Hubei Province China in December. The new strain of the virus has been named SARS-Cov-2 and the disease the coronavirus disease 2019, which is being abbreviated as COVID-19
A percentage of people get the virus and show no symptoms. They feel nothing. Are they shedding the virus is a question researchers are still trying to understand. Most of the people who get the Novel strain of the coronavirus wake up with a fever and have flu-like symptoms. A not so small percentage have severe symptoms. Healthcare workers in Wuhan were particularly hit hard.
Efforts by the Chinese to contain this in Hubei Province failed and the disease has now spread to Beijing, Hong Kong, and 32 countries including the United States.
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
According to the CDC, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a beta-coronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.
While it likely began at a large live animal market in China and spread animal to person, person-to-person spread began both in China and beyond, including in the United States.
Both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to cause severe illness in people. The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully understood. The CDC and world health authorities have an ongoing investigations to learn more. The CDC says that this is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.
The CDC is shipping test kits for the virus to laboratories CDC has designated as qualified, including U.S. state and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories and select international laboratories. The test kits are bolstering global laboratory capacity for detecting SARS-CoV-2. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat.
On January 21, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response. February 2, 2020, at 5:00 pm, the U.S. government suspended entry of foreign nationals who have been in China within the past 14 days.
U.S. citizens, residents, and their immediate family members who have been in Hubei province and other parts of mainland China are allowed to enter the United States, but they are subject to health monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days.
The CDC has issued the following travel guidance related to COVID-19:
China — Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel — last updated February 22;
Japan — Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions — last updated February 22;
South Korea — Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions — issued February 22;
Hong Kong — Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions — issued February 19.
The CDC also recommends that all travelers reconsider cruise ship voyages into or within Asia at this time.
The CDC has deployed multidisciplinary teams to support state health departments with clinical management, contact tracing, and communications.
The CDC has worked with the Department of State, supporting the safe return of Americans who have been stranded as a result of the ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and related travel restrictions. CDC has worked to assess the health of passengers as they return to the United States and provided continued daily monitoring of people who are quarantined.
The CDC has been uploading the entire genome of the viruses from reported cases in the United States to GenBank as sequencing was completed. The CDC has grown the COVID-19 virus in cell culture, which is necessary for further studies, including for additional genetic characterization. The cell-grown virus was sent to NIH’s BEI Resources Repository for use by the broad scientific community.
According to the CDC, while the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat: It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed. If you are a healthcare provider, be on the look-out for people who recently traveled from China and have fever and respiratory symptoms. If you are a healthcare provider caring for a COVID-19 patient or a public health responder, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures. If you have been in China or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and your travel or exposure to a COVID-19 patient. For people who are ill with COVID-19, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others.
As of Sunday morning, there have been 78,966 cases of COVID-19. 53,079 of these are active. 23,418 people have recovered from their illness and been discharged. 2,469 have died. The number of deaths have doubled since February 12.
It affects the elderly worse than younger people. For 80+ years old the mortality rate is 14.8 percent, for 70-79 year old the mortality is 8 percent, for 60-69 years old 3.6 percent, for 50-59 years old 1.3 percent for 40-49 years old 0.4 percent, 30-39 years old 0.2 percent, 29 years old 0.2 percent, 10-19 years old 0.2 percent, and 0-9 years old there have not yet been any fatalities. The mortality rate for males is 2.8 percent. For females it is 1.7 percent.
Pre-existing conditions greatly increases the fatality rate. For those with cardiovascular disease the death rate is 10.5 percent, diabetes 7.3 percent, chronic respiratory disease 6.3 percent, hypertension 6.0 percent, cancer and 5.6 percent; though it has a death rate of .9 percent for those with no pre-existing conditions.
On Thursday, it was announced that educators have begun working on plans to use online education over the internet if American schools have to be closed in the event that COVID-19 becomes a pandemic in the United States forcing schools to close.
To this point there have been only 35 COVID-19 cases in the United States and no deaths.
Rogers serves as Ranking Member on the Committee on Homeland Security and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Sanders Wins Nevada
Saturday, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, appears to have followed his victory in the New Hampshire primary with a victory in the Nevada caucuses.
“First we won the popular vote in Iowa. Then we won the New Hampshire primary. And now we have won the Nevada caucus,” Sen. Sanders said. “Let me first thank the people of Nevada for their support. We put together a multi-racial, multi-generational coalition across the state that will win not only in Nevada, but all across this country. No other campaign has a grassroots movement like we do, which is a large reason why we’re gonna win this election.”
The Alabama primary is just one week away on Super Tuesday.
“We are going to win across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a corrupt administration that is undermining American democracy.” Sanders continued. “They are sick and tired of a government based on greed and lies. It is time for an administration which is based on the principles of economic justice, social justice, racial justice, and environmental justice.”
Sanders received 47.1 percent of the vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden received 21 percent of the vote. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg received just 13.7 percent of the vote. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, continued to underperform with just 9.6 percent of the vote. Billionaire Tom Steyer of California received just 4.7 percent of the vote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, failed to gain any momentum off of her strong third place finish in New Hampshire and received just 3.9 percent of the vote.
Sanders is clearly the frontrunner going into the South Carolina primary. The self -proclaimed socialist has won 34 delegates to this point. Buttigieg is in second with 23, and Biden and Warren are tied with eight. Klobuchar has seven delegates.
New York City Mayor billionaire Michael Bloomberg have foregone the early primaries. He participated in his first debate and according to most observers did not fare well. Moderate Democrats have expressed concern that the party may suffer in November if the socialist label is attached to its nominee. Republicans are taking enjoyment from the Democrats’ strife.
“Michael Bloomberg maybe a Billionaire but when questioned by his fellow Socialist Democrats, he looked like a Deer in headlights!” Trump national finance committee chair Perry Hooper Jr. said. “Mini Mike was clear the Debate looser. It is very apparent that the National Democrat party today are controlled by the Left and they are very comfortable with Socialist Democrat, Bernie Sanders. But I think the real Looser is the Democrat Party! The Winner is and will continue to be heavy weight Champion, President Donald J. Trump.”
It takes 1,994 delegates to win the nomination. The next contest is the South Carolina Primary
The Alabama Democratic primary is March 3.
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