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Coronavirus Testing For The Dead? It Can Help Reveal The Scope Of The Pandemic : Shots

Medical examiners and coroners are the last stop for investigating unexpected deaths, including those who may have died of COVID-19. In April, the Cook County Medical Examiner opened a surge center to handle overflow from Chicago-area hospital morgues.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP


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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Medical examiners and coroners are the last stop for investigating unexpected deaths, including those who may have died of COVID-19. In April, the Cook County Medical Examiner opened a surge center to handle overflow from Chicago-area hospital morgues.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, all eyes have been on the medical workers and public health disease detectives fighting on the front lines ― and sometimes giving their lives — to bring the coronavirus under control.

But as efforts to test for the coronavirus and trace cases continues, medical examiners and coroners play a vital — if often unsung ― role. These “last responders” are typically called on to investigate and determine the causes of deaths that are unexpected or unnatural, including deaths that occur at home.

In the early days of the outbreak, a scarcity of tests often hampered their efforts. Now, as that equipment gradually becomes more widely available, these professionals may be able to fill in answers about how people died and if those deaths were related to the coronavirus. And these confirmed cases can also help investigators trace contacts who may also be infected.

Those changes won’t happen at once or uniformly across the country, experts predict. In addition, an increase in postmortem testing is likely to put coroners and medical examiners in the middle of a debate heating up about the true number of COVID-19 casualties.

Determining how many people the virus has killed is an ongoing bone of contention. Some defenders of the Trump administration’s response charge that death estimates are inflated, often because they include people who were presumed to have died of the disease but not tested for it. Administration critics counter that the chaotic rollout of testing and treatment led to thousands of needless deaths that aren’t represented in the official death toll.

Even now, months after the emergence of COVID-19 in the United States, the availability of test kits and testing materials, such as nasal swabs, remains inadequate in many places. Public health experts agree that broad-based testing is critical for people to safely emerge from lockdown and for businesses and other institutions to safely reopen.

“Some localities are prioritizing testing sick people over dead people, and that’s probably a good decision if they have limited testing available,” says Dr. Sally Aiken, the medical examiner for Spokane County, Washington, who is also president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.

As availability increases, however, stepping up postmortem COVID-19 testing could uncover important clues about the spread of the virus, experts say.

During the pandemic, many sick people have stayed at home and died there rather than seeking help at hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

In April in New York City, for example, a reported 200 residents died at home each day, compared with 20 such deaths before the pandemic, a spokesperson for the city’s medical examiner told WNYC, the local public radio station.

Tests were not possible in many of those instances. But with more tests, such cases are now getting attention.

“Most of the ones we test are the individuals who die at home,” says Gary Watts, the coroner in Richland County, S.C., who is president of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners.

If family or friends say the person had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the coroner’s office will typically do a nasal swab to test for the virus, he says. If the test is positive and the office can determine the cause of death without an autopsy, one will generally not be performed.

Coroners and medical examiners have similar responsibilities but their backgrounds are often different. Coroners are typically elected officials who may or may not have a medical degree. Medical examiners are typically medical doctors and may have a specialty in forensic pathology.

Like Watts, Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the coroner for Montgomery County, Ohio, which includes the city of Dayton, says his office now has enough tests to determine if COVID-19 was involved in suspect deaths, unlike during the pandemic’s early days.

With more postmortem testing, “you can do better contact tracing,” he says.

A few medical examiners and coroners are now stepping up testing significantly, performing tests on all the bodies that are brought in, says Aiken.

“They’re surprised at some of the people who are positive,” including suicides and car accidents, she says.

One reason for increasing testing is to protect the staff who are handling the bodies, says Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in the San Francisco area and CEO of PathologyExpert.

If a body at the morgue is positive for COVID-19, “you want to avoid doing an autopsy unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Melinek says, because of the risk of becoming exposed to the virus through aerosolized particles or blood. Plus, she noted, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends against performing autopsies in COVID-19 deaths.

Even if coroners and medical examiners aren’t doing extensive nasal-swab testing on the recently deceased, they can provide vital information later on, some note.

It’s standard practice to take blood samples from patients who are sent to the morgue, and coroners and medical examiners typically keep blood samples on hand for up to a year. Testing those blood samples for antibodies to the coronavirus, which would indicate a prior infection, could give public health experts a clearer sense of when the virus arrived in the United States and the extent of its spread.

It won’t identify every undiagnosed infection, since antibodies don’t show up until one to three weeks after infection occurs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People may die before then. Still, postmortem antibody testing could provide useful information, experts say.

“If we can figure out when [the virus] arrived in the U.S., we can figure out a lot more about how this virus came through and was undetected,” Melinek says.

Going forward, as public health experts and politicians contemplate decisions about reopening the country for business and the possibility of a resurgence of the virus, the more concrete information available the better, experts say.

“Postmortem testing is helpful and important when it is balanced by the logistical feasibility of doing it,” says Lorna Thorpe, a professor of epidemiology at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. “When politics enters this space, it’s nice to have confirmed cases so that it can’t be critiqued.”

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Gateway Pundit News

Does the Redacted Section of the August 2017 Mueller Scope Memo Relate to President Trump?

The August 2017 scope memo penned by then-DAG Rod Rosenstein to Robert Mueller was released with redactions on Wednesday.

Rosenstein wrote a total of three scope memos giving Mueller permission to rove around unchecked in a fishing expedition to not only target Trump officials, but to play defense and cover up the Obama administration’s crimes.

The August 2017 scope memo revealed Mueller investigated Mike Flynn, a 3-star General and Trump’s National Security Advisor for the “crime” of “engaging in conversations with Russian government officials” during the Trump transition.

Does the redacted section of the August scope memo relate to President Trump?

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Recall, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe admitted he opened investigations into Trump “as an agent of Russia” in May of 2017.

McCabe opened the investigations into Trump shortly after Comey was fired as FBI Director (May 9, 2017) and right before Mueller was appointed as special counsel (May 17, 2017) to investigate so-called Trump-Russia collusion.

McCabe, who was fired in 2018 after the DOJ Inspector General found that he ‘lacked candor,’ including under oath several times, previously said that it was possible Donald Trump was a Russian asset.

McCabe was a part of the attempted coup to remove Donald Trump from the White House and he previously said, without offering any evidence whatsoever, that he thought Trump was somehow compromised by the Russians and coordinating with the Kremlin.

“I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency, and won the election for the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage and that was something that troubled me greatly,” McCabe said during a “60 Minutes” interview in February of 2019.

He continued, “I think the next day, I met with the team investigating the Russia cases, and I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward.”

“I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace,” he told CBS’s Scott Pelley.

It appears the redacted portion underneath the allegations against Flynn relate to President Trump.

Rod Rosenstein signed the June 2017 Carter Page FISA warrant a month after he wrote the memo authorizing the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller

Did Robert Mueller actually use information gathered in real time by the illegal wiretaps on Carter Page (which were ultimately used to spy on Trump)?



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Gateway Pundit News

Rosenstein’s August 2017 Scope Memo Released

On Wednesday night the Department of Justice released the August 2017 Rosenstein Scope Memo.

The August 2017 scope memo penned by then-DAG Rod Rosenstein to Robert Mueller was released with redactions on Wednesday.

Rosenstein wrote a total of three scope memos giving Mueller permission to rove around unchecked in a fishing expedition to not only target Trump officials, but to play defense and cover up the Obama administration’s crimes.

The August 2017 scope memo revealed Mueller investigated Mike Flynn, a 3-star General and Trump’s National Security Advisor for the “crime” of “engaging in conversations with Russian government officials” during the Trump transition.

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Flynn of course was already cleared by the FBI on January 4, 2017 when the field office found “no derogatory information” on Flynn and decided to close CROSSFIRE RAZOR.

General Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell said this is a “bloody outrage” as the FBI’s own files showed Flynn was not a foreign agent and they knew he was working with DIA on all foreign contacts.

Sidney Powell was referring to bombshell Flynn documents released showing the FBI concluded the Flynn probe was ‘no longer a viable case’ in January 2017, but rogue counterintel chief Peter Strzok went off the rails and kept the investigation going!

Peter Strzok’s texts to the FBI Case Manager handling the Crossfire Razor (Flynn) case:

Strzok: “If you haven’t closed RAZOR, don’t do so yet”

Strzok: “7th floor involved” (FBI Leadership)

(Possible use of Logan Act “violations” to keep investigation open)

Last Wednesday it was revealed the FBI framed General Flynn.

The unsealed FBI notes written by Bill Priestap revealed the intent of the FBI’s ambush interview of Flynn in January of 2017.

“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute [Flynn] or get him fired?” Bill Priestap wrote.

Here’s how they planned to get Flynn removed:

1) Get Flynn “to admit to breaking the Logan Act”; or

2) Catch Flynn in a lie.

Their end goal was a referral to the DOJ – not to investigate Flynn’s contacts with the Russians.

Judicial Watch boss Tom Fitton said Obama’s “Logan Act” predicate for the General Flynn investigation is a knowing fraud and an attack on the constitutional powers of President Trump to conduct foreign policy.



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