herbicide-185x300Although Covid-19 is disastrous for people around the globe, Big Pharma is finding advantage in the infection: Bayer, a pharmaceutical and agricultural products’ giant, is on the brink of what would be an $8 billion-plus settlement of an estimated 85,000 lawsuits involving the familiar weed killer Roundup.

Bayer has taken a $39 billion hit to its market value due to the Roundup suits, which the German-headquartered conglomerate took on when it acquired St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto for $63 billion.

Bayer executives, analysts say, have wanted to resolve the big numbers of current suits while courts across the country have closed due to the pandemic, preventing not only more cases from being filed but also others from resolution. The company has lost a handful of suits, but they carried a big, collective, initial price tag — $2.4 billion. That sum has been slashed on appeal to $191 million and the company says, no matter if it settles thousands of other cases, it will continue litigating the adverse decisions.

cashhandle-300x200Cui bono? That query in Latin — Who benefits? — affirms for linguists that sketchy practices date to Ancient Rome and earlier. But who knew the phrase would be so applicable for U.S. taxpayers considering dubious aspects of many of the nation’s pricey Covid-19 pandemic responses.  Herewith a sizable list of conflicts and coziness in the public  funding of pandemic responses.

VP’s chief of staff dealing with health care issues but without giving up stocks

covidmarcshort-150x150While Vice President Pence has headed the White House pandemic task force Marc Short, his chief of staff has served at his side. This has given him full access to the highest-level discussions about strategies and approaches that not only will affect Americans’ health care but also the fortunes of numerous Big Pharma, medical supply, and other major enterprises in the field dealing with the novel coronavirus.

covidnhnoplan-276x300With hurricanes, wildfires and other calamities, authorities pound home to the public the importance of preparedness. So why should preparing for an infection outbreak be any different? Yet more disclosures have raised disturbing questions about the dearth of crucial emergency planning by nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, their owners and operators, and federal and state regulators.

Taxpayers likely will foot hefty bills — a new estimate says it may be $15 billion  —in the days ahead for facilities’ active resistance to oversight and forward thinking. These lapses played a part in the terrible toll in failing to safeguard the old, sick, and injured, and first responders and health care workers, too, reported ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site.

It cites data from AARP about the nationwide deaths in long-term care centers inflicted by the novel coronavirus:

blaze2vape-300x169Consumers have gotten stark reminders of the safety risks of two different kinds of products, one a household classic and the other a bootlegger’s nightmare. Caveat emptor about baby powder and street-purchased vaping devices.

As for Johnson and Johnson’s family familiar talc, the company may have timed well its decision to yank it from shelves in North America as the public focuses its attention on other and major health concerns, experts said. As Reuters reported:

“Christie Nordhielm, a professor of marketing at Georgetown, said it appears J&J made its decision to withdraw from the market while consumers were preoccupied with the pandemic. ‘It’s a nice time to quietly do it,’ she said, adding ‘it will minimize the reputational hit.’”

amputate-300x157Although the Covid-19 pandemic may be opening more and more Americans’ eyes to the harsh effects of the country’s economic and racial inequities, the stark damage from the nation’s health disparities can be plain to see — in truly disheartening ways.

Lizzie Presser, a reporter for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site ProPublica, deserves high praise for her distressing article on “The Black Amputation Epidemic.” As she wrote recently from deep in the poverty, neglect, and racial discrimination of the Mississippi Delta:

“[W]ithin months, the new coronavirus would sweep the United States, killing tens of thousands of people, a disproportionately high number of them black and diabetic. They were at a disadvantage, put at risk by an array of factors, from unequal health care access to racist biases to cuts in public health funding. These elements have long driven disparities, particularly across the South. One of the clearest ways to see them is by tracking who suffers diabetic amputations, which are, by one measure, the most preventable surgery in the country.

disinfectkellysikkema-300x201Because Covid-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, the world has much to learn about it and its effects. For the voting and taxpaying public, a critical line of inquiry in the days ahead may be this: Why does this disease also seem to cause such an outbreak of shiftiness among our leaders?

Let’s start at the already beleaguered federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once considered among the globe’s best agencies in handling infectious diseases.

Sure, the medical science changes by the day about Covid-19. But why did the agency set itself up for deserved criticism by changing, “without formal announcement or explanation,” its guidance about the infectiousness of “contaminated” surfaces and how the coronavirus spreads? That had been an issue of key concern for experts, who had cautioned the public for weeks now about hygiene and care in coming in contact with such areas. Instead, CDC officials tweaked the language on the agency web site, diminishing the risks. Maybe, they thought, well, that should do it.

chartGAOnursinghomeinfection-300x300Is the coronavirus’s staggering toll on patients in nursing homes something to be written off as a force of nature for which humans bear little fault? Or are there lessons to be learned about shortcomings that could help preserve lives the next time?

News media reports keep unearthing institutional misery and a blindness to the suffering of the aged, chronically ill, and seriously injured. Bad luck, shrug facility owners and operators, seemingly joined in by regulators and some politicians. Couldn’t be helped. Did the best we could.

In fact, investigations — by journalists and watchdogs — have shown the toll taken by nursing homes’ sloppy disregard for infection control, press for profits, and unacceptable paralysis as situations headed south.

carspeed-e1589647515930-300x172The Covid-19 pandemic has kept most Americans locked down for weeks now, but the tight public health measures, alas, haven’t slashed as much as might be hoped two leading, non-virus causes of harms to people: reckless driving and senseless violence, especially with guns.

The road mayhem is a real head-scratcher, as a frequent factor in fender-benders and motorist frustration has all but vanished: traffic congestion. As the Washington Post reported:

“Traffic nationwide is down 41% compared with pre-pandemic volumes, according to the transportation-data firm Inrix. Some of the country’s busiest highways have emptied, with volumes down by 50% in Los Angeles, 60% in New York City and 68% in Washington …But traffic incidents, such as crashes, have dropped only 21% nationwide. In some of the most congested areas of the country, average speeds have increased by as much as 250%. For example, the average 5 p.m. speed on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles went from a crawling 19 mph to 68 mph, Inrix says. In Chicago, the average speed on Interstate 290 more than doubled to 62 mph from 24 mph. In the Washington region, average speeds during the evening rush rose from 27 mph to nearly 70 mph on the Capital Beltway, well above the posted 55 mph limit.”

covidhospitalbed-199x300When it comes to aggravating parties in the U.S. health care system, a certain French phrase captures an uncomfortable reality: “Plus ça change” — as in plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose or “The more it changes, the more it stays the same.”

We can see that here:

covidseeyasoon-225x300Do I, or don’t I? Do we, or don’t we?

As the stringent public health measures designed to bend the curve with the Covid-19 pandemic begin to lift or ease — including in Maryland and Virginia — hundreds of millions of Americans will make difficult individual decisions about their lives and livelihoods.

Fears are high that going back too soon may result in a deadly second wave of infections and deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a preeminent expert on epidemics and a leader at the National Institutes of Health, warned senators of serious consequences from a premature restarting of activities.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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