China hints at denying Americans life-saving coronavirus drugs

5e664fe73cebf.imageIn this photo taken Tuesday, March 3, 2020, a worker stands near Chinese national flag and propaganda which reads “Go China” in Beijing. As the rest of the world grapples with a burgeoning virus outbreak, China’s ruling Communist Party has turned to its propaganda playbook to portray its leader as firmly in charge, leading an army of health workers in a “people’s war” against the disease. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

 

Now that the number of new people infected with the coronavirus in China is slowing down, the country’s Communist Party is ratcheting up threats against the West, with a particularly nasty warning about access to life-saving drugs aimed at the United States.

In an article in Xinhua, the state-run media agency that’s largely considered the mouthpiece of the party, Beijing bragged about its handling of COVID-19, a virus that originated in the city of Wuhan and has spread quickly around the world, killing nearly 5,000 people and infecting thousands more. The article also claimed that China could impose pharmaceutical export controls which would plunge America into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.”

The disturbing threats made during a global pandemic as well as the scary consequences if that threat becomes real highlight just how tight China’s grip is on the global supply chain. Already, the Food and Drug Administration has announced the first drug shortage related to the coronavirus. Though it did not disclose which drug was in short supply, the FDA did say it could not access enough raw components needed because they are made in China.

That doesn’t come as a surprise to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, who told Fox News on Thursday that America is “dangerously reliant” on China for the production of critical goods, including parts for technologies needed to fight COVID-19.

Though the United States is a global leader in research, much of the manufacturing of life-saving drugs has moved overseas. The last American manufacturing plant to make a key component in penicillin shuttered in 2004. Since then, Chinese pharmaceuticals companies have moved in and taken over, supplying between 80 percent and 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, 70 percent of acetaminophen and about 40 percent of heparin, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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If China makes good on its threat to cut off the United States, Rubio believes the results could be crippling.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide on Thursday went up to 124,518, up from 118,162 cases the day before. In China, there are 80,980 confirmed cases. Italy saw a 22.7 percent jump to 12,462 from 10,149. Iran is hovering close to a 12 percent increase while cases in Qatar jumped 991 percent to 262 cases from 24. In the United States, there are more than 1,300 confirmed cases spread across 44 states and the District of Columbia.

AP20071304999896People wearing protective face masks wait in a queue to get temperature check before entering a bank in Beijing, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. For most, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for a few, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.  (AP)

 

As the rest of the world scrambles to contain the virus and protect its citizens, China has been busy casting itself in the role of global hero going so far as to demand a thank you for containing the virus as long as it did.

“We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a thank you,” an editorial in Xinhua read.

Rubio said Beijing’s comments should concern all Americans and that China is keenly aware that in a moment of crisis “they can threaten to cut us off from our pharmaceutical supplies, they could trigger a domestic problem here that would make it difficult or us to confront them.”

“It’s a tremendous amount of leverage,” Rubio said.

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Andrew Gillum found in Miami Beach hotel room with suspected drugs, police say

Police say Gillum, who was not arrested, was too intoxicated to answer questions.

DXMKLKWJPAI6TMRBPAY4DVT77IFormer Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. [Associated Press]

 

Andrew Gillum, who in 2018 came within 34,000 votes of becoming Florida’s governor, was discovered by police at a South Beach hotel early Friday morning in a room with bags of possible methamphetamine and in the company of a man who appeared to have overdosed on drugs, according to a Miami Beach police report.

Police say they were called to the Mondrian South Beach early Friday morning and found paramedics treating Travis Dyson, a 30-year-old Miami man, for an apparent heart attack. They say two other men were in the room: Aldo Mejias and Gillum.

Police say Gillum, who was not arrested, was too intoxicated to answer questions. An offense incident report says that officers found three clear plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth on the bed and floor.

Gillum, a former Tallahassee mayor and Democrat, issued a statement Friday afternoon in which he denied using drugs.

“I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends. While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines,” he said. “I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement.”

According to police, Mejias told officers that he gave his credit card information to Dyson to rent the room and planned to meet him Friday evening. When he went to the room after 11 p.m., Mejias said he found Dyson and Gillum “under the influence of an unknown substance.”

Mejias, 56, said Dyson opened the door to Room 1107 to let him in and then collapsed on the bed. He said Dyson was having trouble breathing, so he woke him up. Dyson then vomited and collapsed again, so Mejias said he performed chest compressions on Dyson and called paramedics.

Mejias told police he saw Gillum, 40, vomit in the bathroom.

Police say Dyson was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center in stable condition. They returned to check on Gillum, who was allowed to return home “without incident.”

No arrests were made.

“At this time the incident is not being investigated as a criminal matter,” a Miami Beach police spokesman wrote in an e-mail releasing a copy of the report. He did not explain why.

Gillum, who was mayor of Tallahassee from 2014 through 2018, thanked Miami Beach paramedics in his statement and said he’ll “spend the next few weeks with my family and [would] appreciate privacy during this time.”

Following his loss in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race to Republican Ron DeSantis, Gillum has remained an important player for Democrats in the state. His political organization is overseeing an ambitious push to register or “reengage” 1 million voters before the November election, and he remains among the most prominent Democrats due to a political analyst gig with CNN.

Attempts to reach Mejias and Dyson by phone on Friday were not immediately successful. Dyson told Miami New Times that he has been friends with Gillum “for a while,” but did not know anything about a wedding.

According to public records, Dyson is a registered nurse who lives in Brickell. His Instagram account features selfies in scrubs and a medical coat. The page also features numerous photos of Dyson shirtless and rippled, on the beach, on boats or at night spots with friends, including his fiance.

In Miami-Dade, Dyson has no criminal convictions but was arrested in August on a charge of resisting arrest without violence. He got the charge after he was pulled over for weaving in an out of traffic.

In an arrest report, a Miami Beach police officer said that while handcuffing Dyson, “he began to resist removing his right hand … while attempting to turn around to face me. Mr. Dyson was then pushed on the vehicle and ordered to stop resisting and to place his hands behind his back.”

A ticket for reckless driving and the criminal charge of resisting were later dismissed, according to Miami-Dade court records and his former attorney.

Although the contents of the bags in the hotel room have not yet been confirmed, crystal meth has made a resurgence in South Florida, particularly in Miami Beach, in recent years. The meth, police say, is high-grade product being made by Mexican cartels.

“It’s a very customer-rich environment, with all the different venues, events and parties for people to enjoy themselves,” a Miami Beach street-crimes captain told the Miami Herald in 2017. “Crystal meth will take the average party experience and magnify it tenfold.”