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DeSantis, hydroxychloroquine pitchman
Publisher:  POLITICO
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:54


TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday used his coronavirus briefing to give a choreographed, live-streamed shout-out to hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has touted as a potential miracle cure for Covid-19.

During the briefing, DeSantis took credit for loosening shipments of the drug from India and sought testimonials on the drug from doctors and a patient.

“One of the number-one questions we've been getting in the state of Florida is what treatments are available,� DeSantis said. “One of the things that physicians have been using is this hydroxychloroquine, usually, combined with with Z-Pack.�

DeSantis acknowledged other experimental treatments, but hydroxychloroquine was the only drug he mentioned by name, with the exception of an antibiotic sold as Z-Pack that patients are administered with hydroxychloroquine.

The briefing included a videostreamed conversation between DeSantis and Dr. Sunil Kumar, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Broward Health. Kumar said the drug has helped patients fight the virus.

Hydroxychloroquine has for decades been used to treat arthritis and malaria, but hasn’t undergone the clinical testing necessary to determine if it’s an effective treatment for Covid-19. Still, the president has championed its use and is shipping it to coronavirus hot zones.

Trump’s outsized attention to the drug has disrupted efforts to respond to the outbreak and caused a schism between the White House and career health officials.

The Food and Drug Administration last week authorized emergency use of the medicine for severely ill coronavirus patients who are already in the hospital. And it lifted years-old restrictions on India-based Ipca Laboratories, a manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, in a bid to get more of the drugs into the U.S. at Trump’s urging.

“As this thing was first discussed in Washington, and the FDA made their decision on it, you know, I reached out to physicians and just, you know, asked them, 'hey, what's the deal with this?'" DeSantis said. “We want to obviously give patients all the opportunities toward recovery.�

“Every day we’re trying something new,� Kumar told DeSantis, while noting the drug’s limitations and possible risks.

“Understanding the limitations on what you can say about hydroxychloroquine,� DeSantis said, “you would like to have that as a position, as an option to be able to treat the folks who come in with it?�

“Absolutely,� Kumar said.

DeSantis then played video of a patient who gave a testimonial.

Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals provided Florida with a batch of hydroxychloroquine last month, and a second shipment was sent Monday.

Teva manufactures hydroxychloroquine in India, where government officials forbade shipments from leaving the country. DeSantis said he had a hand in getting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow more of the drug to be shipped to the U.S.

“I spoke to President Trump, and then he spoke to Prime Minister Modi, and Modi has made an exception for the United States,� DeSantis said. “Teva is bringing more of this into the United States, they have sent a second shipment already to a Florida hospital and shipped yesterday.�

Amneal Pharmaceuticals also is sending a million doses of the experimental drug to Tallahassee, which are supposed to arrive Wednesday, the governor told reporters Tuesday.

DeSantis differentiated between the use of hydroxychloroquine in hospitals and the death of an Arizona man who ingested chloroquine used to clean aquariums. He noted in that case it was a “layman� who bought “fish tank stuff,� not a doctor treating a patient.

Patients who take hydroxychloroquine paired with antibiotics need to be on a heart monitor because the drugs can cause arrhythmia, Carlos Campo, a doctor at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, said during the Tuesday briefing.

“I would not recommend just starting these as an out-patient because obviously patients cannot be monitored,� Campos said. “The medications themselves can put the patient at risk.�

“So basically, this is something that there should be an option, but the physicians should be really supervising the patients,� DeSantis said.

DeSantis isn’t the only public figure to take up Trump’s championship of hydroxychloroquine. Last month, Twitter asked Fox News host Laura Ingraham to delete a post touting the efficacy of the drug, saying it ran afoul of the company’s rules against misleading health information.

The company also called out Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a post that made erroneous statements about hydroxychloroquine, calling it "100% effective" in treating Covid-19.

Trump’s fascination with the drug has its root in a March 11 chance meeting on Twitter. Three weeks later, the president was vowing to distribute millions of doses of the drug through the country’s strategic national stockpile, despite a lack of research that the drug works for coronavirus.

More than 14,500 people in Florida have tested positive for the coronavirus and 283 have died.

Gary Fineout contributed to this report.


Netflix Beating Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ With 42% Share As Streaming Doubles
Publisher:  Forbes Real Time
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:53

We're now watching more TV during business hours than after ...

Wisconsin primary election: April 7, 2020
Publisher:  Vox
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:53

An election observer cleans voting booths during a Democratic presidential primary election in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on April 7, 2020. | Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Wisconsin’s April 7 election is still on despite public health warnings over the coronavirus.

Despite Wisconsin being under a shelter-in-place order since March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic, polls still opened in the state’s primary election on Tuesday, April 7.

Wisconsin, which has more than 2,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of April 5, is the only state out of 11 originally scheduled to hold Democratic presidential primaries in April that has not postponed or substantially changed the way people can vote in this spring’s primaries.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers repeatedly attempted to delay the state’s elections, citing fears that in-person voting could bolster the spread of the coronavirus. But Wisconsin Republicans and the state’s Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservatives, rebuffed Evers. Republicans also fought off the governor’s efforts to mail ballots to every voter and allow ballots to be counted beyond the original April 7 election date.

Joe Biden is up against Bernie Sanders on the Democratic presidential primary ballot. Heading into the primary election, Biden has held a firm lead over Sanders, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls, which had the former vice president at 53 percent support and the Vermont senator at 36 percent.

Biden, who’s leading in the national delegate count, looks well-positioned to win the majority of Wisconsin’s 84 pledged delegates. A victory for the former vice president would be a blow to Sanders, who won the state’s primary in 2016.

Follow along below for Vox’s coverage of the primaries, including live results, breaking news updates, analysis, and more.


Google's G Suite now has 6 million paying business customers, as it ramps up competition with Microsoft and Zoom (GOOGL)
Publisher:  business insider
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:53

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

  • Google's bundle of productivity tools for businesses and schools, G Suite, now has 6 million paying customers, up from the 5 million it had in February 2019.
  • The new numbers come as much of the world is working from home and schools turn to online learning, to try and mitigate the spread of coronavirus. 
  • Google's Hangouts Meet video meeting tool, part of G Suite, now has 25 percent more users than it did in January, according to CNBC.
  • However, Google faces intense competition from Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx, especially as an increase in remote work creates more demand for these tools.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google's bundle of productivity tools for businesses and schools, G Suite, now has 6 million paying customers, according to a report from CNBC, which Google confirmed to Business Insider. That represents an increase from the 5 million customers G Suite had in February 2019.

A customer, in this usage, generally means a company or other organization that's using the premium version of G Suite, rather than the free version of tools like Gmail and Google Docs available for consumers. 

Additionally, Google's Hangouts Meet videoconferencing tool, which is part of G Suite alongside enterprise versions of Gmail and Google Docs, has 25 percent more users now than it did in January, according to CNBC, though it didn't go into specific figures. Hangouts Meet complements Hangouts, the standard chat app that's also available to consumers.

These new numbers come as much of the world is working from home and schools turn to online learning, to try and mitigate the spread of coronavirus. 

Due to the increased need for video conferencing tools amid the coronavirus crisis, Google is made the premium paid features in its Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features free until September 30, extended from the previous end date of July 1.

It's competitors like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have made similar offers to help those in need of communication tools. The increase in remote work has also ramped up usage for those competitors. Zoom said it had 200 million daily active users at the end of March, counting free and paid users. Meanwhile, Microsoft Teams disclosed that it had 44 million daily active users in mid-March. 

On the whole, G Suite faces intense competition from Microsoft's Office 365 suite of cloud based productivity tools, which dominates the market. Google hired former Microsoft executive Javier Soltero to run G Suite last October, as it sought to ramp up its enterprise business. 

As Zoom faces numerous questions about the privacy and security of its product, Google is pitching Hangouts Meet as a secure alternative. When New York City schools decided to stop using Zoom for online learning, Google made Hangouts Meet and Google Classroom available for 1.3 million students, according to CNBC. 

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at pzaveri@businessinsider.com or Signal at 925-364-4258. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

Get the latest Google stock price here.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button


Deadly tropical cyclone bears down on Fiji islands
Publisher:  UPI
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:52

Tropical Cyclone Harold was bearing down on the island of Fiji early Wednesday morning local time in the South Pacific Ocean.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is Ravaging Black Communities
Publisher:  Left Voice
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:52

Leaders across the world have dubbed the coronavirus as the great equalizer. As the virus spreads, they say, it doesn’t see race, class, nationality or gender. If exposed, anyone can get sick. In the U.S., over 350,000 people have officially contracted the virus, and over 10,000 people have died. But, behind these numbers lies a truth that most of us know to be true already — in a country with a for-profit healthcare system that leaves millions without access, and a capitalist system that systematically oppresses people of color, Black people across the U.S. are more likely to die because of COVID-19.

As recently released data shows, Black people are more likely to test positive and get seriously sick from COVID-19. In Chicago, where African Americans are a third of the city’s population, they form more than half of those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Alarmingly, they also represent over 70% of the city’s coronavirus-related deaths so far. In Milwaukee County, where Black people make up 26% of the population, they made up half the positive cases and 81% of the deaths.

These statistics aren’t an anomaly, but reinforce a pattern. In Michigan, where Black people are only 14% of the population, they make up 35% of the total number of cases and 40% of the deaths. Even where we don’t have demographic breakdowns around the spread of the coronavirus, the patterns are evident based on where the pandemic is hitting hardest. In New York, one of the biggest hot-spots in the country, the hardest hit neighborhoods are those that predominantly have a Black and Brown population. While Louisiana has not yet published case breakdowns by race, 40% of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are Black. 

While experts demand more demographic data to better understand the spread of the virus, the truth is hardly any surprise. In urban centers that have been the hardest hit, Black workers are overwhelmingly represented in the essential work forces: transit workers, grocery store workers, home health aids, janitors, delivery workers. Black and Brown people are also over-represented in jobs deemed “essential,” but shouldn’t be open at all. In New York City, the coronavirus pandemic has spread rapidly through working class neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens — neighborhoods that comprise predominantly of people of color. As a recent photo demonstrates, for example, while people in New York state are asked to “work-from-home” and “socially distance”, a New York City subway train that crosses through working class communities of color was packed to the brim with Black and Brown people traveling to work. 

These deep socio-economic inequalities are further exacerbated by racialized obstacles to quality healthcare. Black people in America are, on average, more likely to experience worse access to and lower quality of care, and poorer health outcomes than the nation as a whole. As the Commonwealth Fund report outlines, the rate of death before age 75 from conditions considered preventable or partially-treatable such as hypertension, certain cancers, the flu, and diabetes was twice as high for Black people than for white people in America. People of color are more likely to be uninsured, leading to a continuing lack of access to affordable and efficient healthcare. As the healthcare system crumbles under the immense strain of the coronavirus pandemic, Black people are more likely to suffer because of conditions related to COVID-19.

In the U.S. carceral system, furthermore, where overcrowding and unsanitary conditions make prisons possible death traps for inmates, Black people are overrepresented in the prison population at more than 5 times the rate of white people. In New York City, they make up over half the prison population. At Rikers Island, the city’s biggest jail, furthermore, where Black folks make up 56% of the population, 165 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Although governors and DAs across the country continue to promise emergency decarceration measures due to the health crisis, those in these facilities continue to languish in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. As one COVID-19 patient in a federal prison shows and tells us in this livestream, “they literally about to leave us in this b**tch to die”.

A long history of housing segregation and discrimination have also led to an overrepresentation of Black people in the country’s homeless population. 40 percent of homeless people in the U.S are Black, while 21% of African Americans  currently live in poverty — almost 2.5 times the rate of white people. Hotels and luxury apartments remain empty, as homeless people are left to fend for themselves. In Las Vegas, where hotels with thousands of beds on the strip lay empty, homeless people were “socially distanced” and sheltered in hotel parking lots. With the first positive case in LA’s Skid Row last week, the neighborhood’s homeless population, one of the largest and densest in the country, are at high risk. While California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, boasts of securing 7,000 hotel beds and being almost at the halfway mark of his goal of 15,000 emergency-shelter beds, it is wholly inadequate for the state’s 150,000 homeless people. 

The racial wealth gap, where a white family in America typically has ten times the wealth of a Black family in America, continues to leave Black people more vulnerable, medically, socially and economically. The coronavirus is not the great equalizer. It is, in fact, a pandemic that exacerbates all of the inequalities of capitalism and particularly lays bare the devastating effects of anti-Black racism. 


Manipulation through hate-crime hoaxes
Publisher:  WND
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:52

We black people are so convenient and useful to America's leftists. Whenever there's a bit of silencing to be done, just accuse a detractor or critic of racism. A recent, particularly stupid, example is CNN's Brandon Tensley's complaint that the "Coronavirus Task Force is another example of Trump administration's lack of diversity." Tensley said the virus experts are "largely the same sorts of white men (and a couple women on the sidelines) who've dominated the Trump administration from the very beginning." I'd like for Tensley to tell us just what racial or sex diversity contribute to finding a cure or treatment for the coronavirus.

Fox News Channels' Jesse Watters was criticized as a racist for claiming that the coronavirus outbreak was caused by Chinese people "eating raw bats and snakes." He added that, "They are a very hungry people. The Chinese communist government cannot feed the people, and they are desperate. This food is uncooked, it is unsafe, and that is why scientists believe that's where it originated from." Watters' statement can be settled by a bit of empiricism. Just find out whether Chinese people eat bats and snakes and whether that has anything to do with the spread of the coronavirus.

It may be perplexing to some, but I believe that our nation has made great progress in matters of race, so much so that imaginary racism and racial hoaxes must be found. Left-wingers on college campuses and elsewhere have a difficult time finding the racism they say permeates everything. So they're brazenly inventing it.

Jussie Smollett charged that two masked Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats and using racial and homophobic insults attacked him. The anti-Trump media gobbled up Smollett's story hook, line and sinker, but it turned out to be a hoax.

A large percentage of hate-crime hoaxes occur on college campuses. Andy Ngo writes about this in his City Journal article "Inventing Victimhood: Universities too often serve as 'hate-crime hoax' mills." St. Olaf College in Minnesota was roiled in mass "anti-racism" protests that caused classes to be canceled. It turned out that a black student activist was found to be responsible for a racist threat she left on her own car. Five black students at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School found racial slurs written on their doors. An investigation later found that one of the students targeted was responsible for the vandalism.

Ngo writes that there are dozens of other examples. They all point to a sickness in American society, with our institutions of higher education too often doubling as "hate-hoax mills," encouraged by a bloated grievance industry in the form of diversity administrators. These are diversity-crazed administrators, along with professors of race and gender studies, who nationwide spend billions of dollars on diversity and a multiculturalist agenda. Racial discord and other kinds of strife are their meal tickets to greater influence and bigger budgets.

There's another set of beneficiaries to racial hoaxes and racial strife. These alleged incidents are invariably seized upon by politicians and activists looking to feed a sacrosanct belief among liberals that discrimination and oppression are the main drivers of inequality. Jason Riley, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says "In the mainstream media we hear almost constant talk about scary new forms of racism: 'white privilege,' 'cultural appropriation,' and 'subtle bigotry.'" Riley mentions the work of Dr. Wilfred Reilly, who is a professor of political science at Kentucky State University and author of a new book, "Hate Crime Hoax," that states, "a huge percentage of the horrific hate crimes cited as evidence of contemporary bigotry are fakes." Reilly put together a data set of more than 400 confirmed cases of fake allegations that were reported to authorities between 2010 and 2017. He says that the exact number of false reports is probably unknowable, but what can be said "with absolute confidence is that the actual number of hate crime hoaxes is indisputably large. We are not speaking here of just a few bad apples." But Reilly has a larger point to make, writing, "The Smollett case isn't an outlier. Increasingly, it's the norm. And the media's relative lack of interest in exposing hoaxes that don't involve famous figures is a big part of the problem."

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The post Manipulation through hate-crime hoaxes appeared first on WND.


Restaurant management platform Toast cuts 50% of staff
Publisher:  TechCrunch
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:51

Last valued at $5 billion, restaurant management platform Toast has joined the sweep of startups laying off employees due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toast reduced the size of its staff by 50% through layoffs and furloughs, according to a blog post from Toast’s CEO, Chris Comparato. It also reduced executive pay across the board, froze hiring, halted bonuses and pulled back offers.

The company’s flagship product helps restaurants process payments and handle orders through a mix of hardware and software. Think handheld ordering pads, self-service kiosks and display systems for kitchens. It also connects businesses to food delivery services like Grubhub.

Toast sits on the bridge between two industries in the spotlight, for better or worse, right now: restaurants and fintech. But restaurants have been hit hard as eateries were forced to close down due to state mandates, or to simply promote social distancing. As a result, fintech companies that help restaurants work better and depend on foot traffic are seeing less transaction volume.

Comparato, in the blog post, cited how restaurant revenue broadly took a huge hit in March, which naturally trickled down to Toast’s operations.

“With limited visibility into how quickly the industry may recover, and facing slower than anticipated growth, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of reducing our headcount,” he wrote. He noted that before the pandemic hit, Toast revenue grew 109% in 2019. In an interview with Crunchbase News in February, chief financial officer Tim Barash said that the company’s goal in the next few years is to go public.

The Toast employees laid off were offered a “severance package, benefits coverage, mental health support, and an extended window during which they can purchase vested stock options,” the blog post detailed. Toast is also developing a program to help those laid off or furloughed look for new roles, a move that mimics other efforts we’ve seen across the startup world.

Investors in Toast include TCV, Tiger Global Management, Bessemer Venture Partners and T. Rowe Price Associates.


TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops ‘Middleditch & Schwartz’ Trailer (Watch)
Publisher:  Variety
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:50

In today’s TV roundup, Netflix released the official trailer for Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz’s improve show, and Disney Plus announced that its original series “It’s A Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer” will premiere May 15. DATES TBS has set the Season 2 premiere of comedy game show “The Misery Index” for May 14 at 10:30 […]

Hey ladies, want to get together? I'm germ free, won't be heading to the gym in 26 minutes [Silly]
Publisher:  Fark
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:50

Silly [link] [15 comments]

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