Cockburn was admittedly a bit skeptical yesterday when he heard that Jared Kushner was seeking out advice for a federal coronavirus response from Dr Kurt Kloss, the father of his sister-in-law, Karlie Kloss. Why on earth would anyone speak to a distant relative on purpose? Nonetheless, Dr Kloss appears to have been right when he said his recommendations were being passed directly to the presidential adviser, as quite a few of them have become government policy.
Matt McDonald, Cockburn’s illustrious colleague at The Spectator, first reported on Dr Kloss’s posts to a Facebook group of 20,000 plus members called ‘EM Docs’.
‘Between patients tonight I have reviewed your responses and will summarize what I am sending to Jared for your PEER review before I sent it,’ Kloss told the group before posting a 13-point list he intended to share with Kushner.
After President Trump’s national emergency declaration in the Rose Garden earlier today, Cockburn decided to review the list and discovered at least eight of Dr Kloss’s recommendations are being followed.
‘Nationalize as in war time production of PPE’s, testing kits and ventilators’
No evidence that the production of any of these items has been nationalized. Gov. Cuomo of New York recently responded to a hand sanitizer shortage by employing prisoners to make more.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law that requires hospitals to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay for services. EMTALA has not been fully suspended, but Trump’s national emergency declaration affords hospitals the ability to apply for waivers from the law. Instead of treating patients, overcrowded hospitals that have obtained waivers may relocate the patients to another treatment facility.
‘Activate FEMA and DMAT teams’
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicated Friday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will remain in charge of the coronavirus response, but the national emergency declaration allows access to FEMA funding and supplies. FEMA has between $40 and $50 billion available in emergency funds. DMAT was not mentioned during the president’s news conference.
‘Pop up Field Hospitals with ICU capability’
Trump urged states to set up Emergency Operations Centers, places where experts gather information during health crises, but did not mention field hospitals.
‘Decentralized testing away from hospital’
Amb. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, explained Friday that the government is working with Google to set up websites where patients can screen their symptoms. If a patient is recommended for testing, they will then go to a new drive-through testing clinic rather than a hospital.
‘Drive through testing and I would add pulse ox capability’
‘We’ve been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make drive-through tests available in the critical locations identified by public health professionals,’ Trump said Friday. The medical professionals at the news conference did not discuss the specifics of the new test, but did say it will deliver results much more quickly.
‘Draconian travel restrictions’
President Trump has not implemented new travel restrictions since Dr Kloss submitted his recommendations, but on Wednesday he announced that he was banning most travel from Europe with the exception of the UK and Ireland. Travel restrictions were placed on China, the origin of the virus, weeks ago.
‘Canceling all mass gatherings’
The government has not yet shut down society, but Trump told Americans that the CDC ‘is advising communities to postpone large gatherings and postpone assemblies and social functions’.
‘Massive marketing of PSA explaining what patients need to do especially not going to ED if not in respiratory distress’
The White House announced Wednesday ‘a major partnership with the Ad Council, major media networks, and digital platforms to effectively communicate accurate and timely information directly to the American people.’ First Lady Melania Trump and members of the coronavirus task force will appear in public service announcements educating audiences on coronavirus.
‘National telemedicine for screening’
The national emergency declaration allows for the suspension of certain medical regulations, including those regarding remote doctor visits, or ‘telehealth’, Trump said Friday. Patients can be seen by doctors or hospitals via the internet so that they do not have to leave their homes if they are ill and risk infecting others.
‘Locking down nursing homes require all care givers in full gear and frequent testing’
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing guidance restricting ‘visitors and nonessential personnel’ with the exception of end of life situations, administrator Seema Verma announced.
‘We fully appreciate that this measure represents a severe trial for residents of nursing homes and those who love them, but we are doing what we must to protect our vulnerable elderly,’ Verma said.
CMS did not issue guidance requiring full protective gear for staffers or frequent testing.
‘Use state ACEP for some sort of incident command structure’
Trump mentioned working with ‘states’ multiple times but never named the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
‘Use emergency funding to compensate quarantined’
The national emergency declaration has freed up $42 billion according to reports but it is not yet clear how the funding will be allocated across states, hospitals, and patients.
Members of the ‘EM Docs’ Facebook group were aghast that Dr Kloss’s posts had been obtained by the wretched Matt McDonald.
‘I’m appalled,’ one member wrote. ‘How dare someone in here leak something to the media for their own sake? How much money are we talking here? How much money would it actually take to betray this group and your fellow BAFERD’S’
Cockburn can confirm that Matt clearly doesn’t have the funds to be paying off sources, because the poor sod is spending his Friday evening drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, a disgracefully cheap beer.
The group should at least take some comfort in knowing that the administration may actually be listening to them.
This post has been updated with additional information.