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Donald J. Trump White House Page 28
By Jonathan Chait

At his coronavirus press briefing yesterday, Fox News correspondent John Roberts asked President Trump about his 2018 decision to eliminate the National Security Council’s pandemic-response office. Trump lashed out, “You know that’s a false story, what you just said is a false story … You shouldn’t be repeating a story you know is false,” accusing Roberts of “working for CNN.” (The charge of committing legitimate journalism is the most serious Trump could think to hurl at a Fox News employee.) The story is not false. Trump did eliminate the job of coordinating a national pandemic response. And the strongest evidence of the damage he did is that this job is now being performed by Jared Kushner. In May 2018, the top White House official who was focused on pandemic response departed the White House. “The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded,” reported the Washington Post at the time. Trump and his allies — including then-NSC director John Bolton, who undertook the ill-fated move — have since tried to muddy the waters about these moves, emphasizing the fact that they merely reorganized the National Security Council rather than bluntly firing everybody involved in pandemic response. It is true that they kept some global-health officials onboard. But one purpose of the reorganization was to deemphasize pandemic response in favor of other priorities. Nobody bothered to deny this at the time. “In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose,” an administration official explained to the Post in its 2018 story. “We lost a little bit of the leadership, but the expertise remains.” The pandemic-response office was created in order to give the issue high-level attention. Trump’s team downgraded the office because they thought it needed less attention. In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose, and they chose issues other than pandemic response. The NSC’s remaining global-health staff did sound the alarm about the coronavirus early on, but its warnings did not register with high-level officials. Bolton’s supporters have tried to paint this as a vindication of his reorganization. See, the NSC was still on top of the pandemic! But the fear wasn’t that nobody in the administration would be aware of the next pandemic. It was that the people who would be aware wouldn’t have the leverage and stature within the White House to get pandemic response slotted to the top of the president’s priorities until it was too late. And that is exactly what happened.

Trump rails against 'witch hunts' after Pelosi announces committee to oversee coronavirus response
By Savannah Behrmann - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump warned against "witch hunts" during the coronavirus pandemic after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she will create a bipartisan House Select Committee to track the federal response to the outbreak.  

The committee, which will be chaired by Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., will have the power to issue subpoenas. The panel will focus on accountability, transparency, and oversight of the federal coronavirus response, hoping to also include supervision to the $2 trillion stimulus package. Trump did not name Pelosi or the new committee specifically during a White House press briefing on Thursday, but the rhetoric echoed past complaints about other accountability measures, including former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and the House impeachment proceedings, which he demeaned as "scams," "witch hunts" and "hoaxes." "This is not the time for politics," Trump said. "Endless partisan investigations – here we go again – have already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years. You see what happens. It's witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt, and in the end the people doing the witch hunt have been losing, and they've been losing by a lot." "It’s not any time for witch hunts, it's time to get this enemy defeated," he continued. "Conducting these partisan investigations in the middle of a pandemic is a really big waste of vital resources, time, attention, and we want to fight for American lives, not waste time and build up my poll numbers. Because that's all their doing because everyone knows it's ridiculous." During a phone call with reporters Thursday, Pelosi said she hopes the committee will be bipartisan and said of the White House: "We hope there would be cooperation. This is not an investigation of the administration. Things are just so new and the rest, and we want to make sure there aren't exploiters out there... where there’s money, there is also frequently mischief."

Trump hasn't ordered any ventilators from GM, despite saying he was using wartime powers to force production
By John Fritze, Jayne O'Donnell - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Nearly a week after invoking his powers under a Korean War-era law to compel General Motors to manufacture ventilators for coronavirus, President Donald Trump’s administration has not formally ordered any of the machines, USA TODAY has learned. As governors warn of severe shortages of ventilators, Trump has been hesitant to use his wartime powers to force companies to ramp up production under the Defense Production Act, arguing that such an order amounts to a takeover of private industry. But Trump said Friday he would use the act to require General Motors to make ventilators after what he described as a dispute with the company over supply and pricing. Three administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told USA TODAY that the government is still exploring its options and has not yet placed an order under the Defense Production Act for any of the machines. The Federal Emergency Management Agency "continues to work within its authorities to coordinate with the private sector," an agency spokesperson who declined to be identified said when asked about the lack of an order to GM. Federal agencies are "in the process of reviewing these delegated authorities," the person said. General Motors declined to answer questions about Trump's use of the DPA but said in a statement it was "moving forward to build as many ventilators as we can as fast as we can." The White House declined to comment. The revelation that the administration has not yet ordered ventilators under the Defense Production Act from GM comes as Trump Thursday announced a fresh request to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to use the act for several other companies, including General Electric, Hill-Rom Holdings, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips, and Vyaire Medical. But the latest order provided no more detail on how the government would compel those companies to make ventilators than the order targeted at General Motors. The order also did not clarify how many ventilators it is requesting.

By Richard L. Revesz and Avi Zevin

On Tuesday the Trump administration significantly weakened the most important existing regulation limiting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions: the “Clean Car Standards,” which were also set to save consumers billions of dollars by making new cars and trucks use less fuel. The newly watered-down regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation require that auto manufacturers make vehicles more efficient and less polluting by only about 1.5 percent per year through 2026—far less than the Obama-mandated 5 percent requirement, and even less than the improvements manufacturers say they will make without any regulation. According to a recent analysis, by 2040 this rollback is likely to add 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, cost Americans more than $244 billion dollars at the pump, and cause $190 billion in public health harms—including more than 18,000 premature deaths from respiratory disease, caused by additional soot and smog that will be emitted over the lifetime of more polluting vehicles.  As with its other efforts to roll back consumer and environmental protections, the administration has relied on analysis so shoddy that it ought not to survive judicial scrutiny. In a brazen attempt to justify the move, the administration is relying on a three-step playbook that it has used before: first, diversion; then, admission; and finally, cooking the books. The Trump administration started the process of weakening the Clean Car Standards by attempting to distract the public from the true consequences of its actions. When the plan was first rolled out two years ago, the administration used a flashy but flawed diversion: safety. With new modeling, EPA and DOT suggested that the Clean Car Standards would increase car accidents. They even named the replacement rule the “SAFE rule,” though it set no safety standards (DOT has largely ignored its safety authority under the Trump administration). According to this analysis, an increase in car prices caused by the Clean Car Standards would lead to more cars on the road, and therefore more accidents. But the prediction that a price increase leads to more demand rather than less demand is inconsistent with the most basic precept of economics. The problem with distraction is that it won’t hold up in court. When judges evaluate regulations, they look at the evidence in the record, not at the press release. So distractions like phony safety claims are not a good legal strategy for actual deregulation. Forced to grapple with the legal vulnerability of their flawed proposal but ideologically committed to its rollback, the agencies made the next move: admission. EPA and DOT recognized that repealing the Clean Car Standards would impose more costs on society than benefits and moved forward anyway. After seeing a leaked draft of the rollback, Sen. Tom Carper revealed in January that the agencies virtually abandoned the safety distraction. Rather, the economic analysis accompanying the draft showed that the agencies intended to knowingly impose $41 billion in net harm to society (even after accounting for all of the claimed benefits of the move) over the lifetime of the vehicles subject to the standards.

By Kaitlan Collins and Sarah Westwood, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump's campaign has sent a letter to Jeff Sessions demanding the former attorney general stop using Trump's name in his campaign materials for his US Senate bid. "We only assume your campaign is doing this to confuse President Trump's loyal supporters in Alabama into believing the President supports your candidacy in the upcoming primary run-off election. Nothing could be further from the truth," wrote Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of the Trump campaign, to Sessions in the letter obtained by CNN and first reported by The New York Times. Trump has long held a grudge against his former attorney general, whose recusal from the Russia investigation in early 2017 led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Last month, Trump endorsed Tommy Tuberville, Sessions' rival in the GOP primary runoff for Alabama's US Senate seat. Tuberville and Sessions are both vying to take on Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the fall, and Republicans view the race as one of their most promising pickup opportunities in the Senate. That runoff had been scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed until July due to the coronavirus outbreak. A person familiar with the matter said Trump didn't direct the campaign to send the aforementioned letter, but aides who are aware of his dislike for his former attorney general knew he wouldn't approve of Sessions touting his ties to Trump. The campaign has sent similar letters like this before, though Sessions was obviously a priority given the President's feelings. Gail Gitcho, a senior Sessions adviser, told CNN Thursday that Sessions "was all in on the Trump agenda before the campaign even started, and is one of the architects of it. No letter from any lawyer will change that." Noting that Sessions' campaign material was sent out before Trump endorsed Tuberville, Gitcho emphasized that "Alabamans don't like to be told what to do." "They have shown that repeatedly. Washington told them to vote for Luther Strange over Roy Moore, they disobeyed. Washington told them to vote for Roy Moore over Doug Jones, they disobeyed," she said. "They won't be told what to do."

By Jonathan Chait

At his coronavirus press briefing yesterday, Fox News correspondent John Roberts asked President Trump about his 2018 decision to eliminate the National Security Council’s pandemic-response office. Trump lashed out, “You know that’s a false story, what you just said is a false story … You shouldn’t be repeating a story you know is false,” accusing Roberts of “working for CNN.” (The charge of committing legitimate journalism is the most serious Trump could think to hurl at a Fox News employee.) The story is not false. Trump did eliminate the job of coordinating a national pandemic response. And the strongest evidence of the damage he did is that this job is now being performed by Jared Kushner. In May 2018, the top White House official who was focused on pandemic response departed the White House. “The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded,” reported the Washington Post at the time. Trump and his allies — including then-NSC director John Bolton, who undertook the ill-fated move — have since tried to muddy the waters about these moves, emphasizing the fact that they merely reorganized the National Security Council rather than bluntly firing everybody involved in pandemic response. It is true that they kept some global-health officials onboard. But one purpose of the reorganization was to deemphasize pandemic response in favor of other priorities. Nobody bothered to deny this at the time. “In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose,” an administration official explained to the Post in its 2018 story. “We lost a little bit of the leadership, but the expertise remains.” The pandemic-response office was created in order to give the issue high-level attention. Trump’s team downgraded the office because they thought it needed less attention. In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose, and they chose issues other than pandemic response. The NSC’s remaining global-health staff did sound the alarm about the coronavirus early on, but its warnings did not register with high-level officials. Bolton’s supporters have tried to paint this as a vindication of his reorganization. See, the NSC was still on top of the pandemic! But the fear wasn’t that nobody in the administration would be aware of the next pandemic. It was that the people who would be aware wouldn’t have the leverage and stature within the White House to get pandemic response slotted to the top of the president’s priorities until it was too late. And that is exactly what happened.

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Washington (CNN) The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump is invoking the Defense Production Act to clear up supply-chain issues encountered in the manufacturing of ventilators. "Today, I have issued an order under the Defense Production Act to more fully ensure that domestic manufacturers can produce ventilators needed to save American lives," Trump said in a statement. Thursday's order comes amid increased fears of ventilator shortages around the country. The use of these lifesaving medical devices has skyrocketed among critical coronavirus patients. The order, the statement said, will help domestic manufacturers "secure the supplies they need to build ventilators needed to defeat the virus." The President also said the move "will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators." The order, which came in the form of a presidential memorandum, directs the supply of materials to make ventilators to six companies: General Electric Co., Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., Medtronic Public Limited Co., ResMed Inc., Royal Philips N.V. and Vyaire Medical Inc. It also directs acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to "use any and all authority available under the Act to facilitate the supply of materials" to these companies. A spokesperson for General Electric said the company welcomes "efforts by the administration to address supply chain constraints and help the industry in its mission to produce as many ventilators as possible for clinicians on the front lines treating COVID-19 patients." - Trump first invoked the act in March about three weeks ago but did not actually use it. How much equipment could have been made, and how many lives could have been saved if he had used it when he first implemented it?


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells CNN's Anderson Cooper that President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "should not try to hide behind an excuse" in response to the suggestion from both the President and the Kentucky Republican that impeachment distracted the US government from the growing coronavirus crisis.

On February 24, President Trump tweeted, ‘The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.’ It wasn’t.
By Michael A. Cohen Globe Columnist

“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.” With these words, on Tuesday afternoon, President Trump sounded a new and welcomed tone on the coronavirus. But make no mistake, hard days lie ahead because of the president’s botched, selfish, and incompetent response to the coronavirus crisis. A change in tone can’t change that catastrophic reality. Trump’s calls for vigilance are a bit like declaring it’s time to close the barn doors after the horses have escaped — and the barn is on fire and it’s threatening to burn the entire farm down. Tens of thousands of Americans (and possibly more) are likely to die because of the president. Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Trump’s public statements and actions have followed a similar trajectory: They have been dishonest, misleading, fantastical, and dangerous. It would blow over soon, he said early on. It would go away when the weather got warmer. “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” he tweeted. It wasn’t.

The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2020

While thankfully there’s no more talk of re-opening the economy on Easter, the damage has been done. America has become the epicenter of a global pandemic. Consider that the United States and South Korea reported their first coronavirus cases on the same day — Jan. 20. More than two months later, South Korea has just under 10,000 confirmed cases and 169 deaths. By comparison, the United States has more than 216,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,000 people have died. Taking into account population differences (the US has 327 million people and South Korea has around 51 million people), the number of cases is more than three times greater than South Korea — and the death toll is nearly four times as great. These horrific numbers could have been avoided with genuine presidential leadership. After the initial case was diagnosed in January, South Korea immediately began aggressive testing and quarantines. Private companies were encouraged to develop diagnostic tests. Within a month drive-through screening centers had been set up and thousands were being tested daily. In the United States, Trump refused to focus on the issue. Two days after that initial positive case he declared "We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming from China. It’s going to be just fine.” When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was first able to talk to Trump about the coronavirus on Jan. 18, Trump wanted to talk about a recently announced vaping ban. Into February, Trump was still stubbornly resisting bureaucratic efforts to deal with the emerging crisis. The weeks lost in ramping up testing were a lost — and unforgivable —opportunity to save lives. Trump’s obstinance is bad enough — but the delay was also undoubtedly influenced by Trump’s diktat that testing should not be a priority. The more testing that was done, the more positive results there would be and that was an outcome the president did not want. Keeping the numbers low in order to avoid spooking Wall Street and negatively affecting Trump’s reelection became the administration’s focus. Those presidential-created obstacles did more than prevent essential equipment from getting to communities in need — it seeded a deadly message of doubt, particularly to Trump supporters. While more than 30 states have issued stay-at-home orders, a host of states have either not made such state-wide declarations or done partial orders. Nearly all are helmed by Republican governors. In Arizona, GOP Governor, Doug Ducey prevented cities and counties from putting in effect stay-at-home orders. He didn’t issue his own statewide decree until this week. Last week, the Republican governor of Mississippi Tate Reeves overruled city and county social distancing measures. Under pressure, he announced a stay-at-home order on Wednesday that will go into effect Friday. Trump has also publicly suggested that Democratic governors who don’t show him proper veneration will have to get in the back of the line for medical supplies. And there is emerging evidence that Republican states are having their requests for ventilators and protective equipment met while blue states are getting the short end of the stick. How many people, simply because they live in a blue state, are going to die because of this president’s petty cruelty?

After Sen. Mitch McConnell suggested the government's response to the initial coronavirus outbreak was in part distracted by the president's impeachment, rebuttal memes started flying.
By Dan Evon

U.S. President Donald Trump and the federal government have been widely criticized for what detractors described as their slow response to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic. As of this writing, the U.S. is still facing shortages of critical medical supplies such as masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). On March 31, 2020, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the government might have been too distracted by impeachment proceedings to focus on the impending pandemic. McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the outbreak “came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything every day was all about impeachment.” Shortly after McConnell made these remarks, a number of op-eds were published refuting this claim. Trump even responded, saying, “I don’t think I would have done any better had I not been impeached.” On social media, people started sharing a list that supposedly showed all the times Trump had golfed or held rallies after being warned about an impending pandemic, arguing that if Trump had time for leisure activities and political rallies during his impeachment, then he had time to deal with disaster response: The timeline in this tweet is generally correct. Trump was officially impeached on Dec. 19, 2019. It’s not clear exactly when Trump was first alerted about the possibility of a pandemic. The Washington Post reported that U.S. Intelligence officials were warning the president about the potential scale of the coronavirus outbreak as early as January. While we don’t know a specific date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first alert for U.S. clinicians to be “on the look-out for patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to Wuhan, China” on Jan. 8, 2020. About a month after that on Feb. 5, Trump’s impeachment trial ended when the Senate voted not to convict. Before, during, and after the impeachment trial — and after the CDC issued its first warnings — Trump held political rallies and attended several golf outings.

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) There is a glaring messaging gap between President Donald Trump and top public health officials regarding medicines being used to treat coronavirus. While Trump touts them as miracle drugs that are on the brink of saving lives, experts are cautiously waiting for scientific evidence. This dynamic has played out over the past few weeks, and was on full display again during the White House briefing on Tuesday. Trump said the drugs might be a "total game-changer" and implied that good news from clinical trials was just days away, only to be corrected by the nation's top infectious disease expert, who steered clear of glowing superlatives and said the research will take months, "at very best." The medicines -- chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine -- have been used for decades to fight malaria. But this week, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for doctors to use them to treat Covid-19 in hospitalized patients. This was the first step in getting millions of pills to the states, though hospitals have been using the drugs for coronavirus without explicit government approval for weeks. Even in making this landmark announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services simultaneously gave a tempered assessment of the potential benefits. A press release said, "anecdotal reports suggest that these drugs may offer some benefit" in coronavirus patients, but "clinical trials are needed to provide scientific evidence that these treatments are effective." That tone is entirely different from what the President has been saying at daily briefings. Millions of stuck-at-home Americans watched him claim that the drugs have "tremendous promise" and "could be a game changer," and that they are "very effective" and "can be taken safely." Trump went even further on Tuesday, falsely suggesting that the drugs have already been proven safe. "Very powerful drug, but it's been out there for a long time," he said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing. "So, it's tested in the sense that you know it doesn't kill you." Doctors say he's wrong, and that comments like these could have deadly consequences. A man in Arizona died after ingesting a form of chloroquine used to treat aquariums. There have been at least three overdoses in Nigeria as well. There are reports of hoarding by doctors and shortages, where people with lupus and other diseases who also use the drugs can't get them. "As the dose of chloroquine goes up, it goes from being safe and effective to highly toxic, quickly," said Dr. Christopher Plowe, a renowned malaria expert at the Duke Global Health Institute. "It's very easy to overdose on chloroquine. You get above the ceiling of safety pretty quickly. There are some very serious risks here. There's quite a bit to lose, including your life."

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah

(CNN) Our doctors and nurses are in desperate need of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from contracting the coronavirus while treating those who are ill. Some of them are trying to find it on eBay while others are pleading for help on social media. The situation is so dire one New Jersey doctor described it as "sending medical professionals like lambs to the slaughterhouse." Concerns about a dwindling supply of PPE are not new. Back on February 7, the World Health Organization sounded alarm bells about "the limited stock of PPE," noting demand was 100 times higher than normal for this equipment. Yet the same day as the WHO warning, the Trump administration announced that it was transporting to China nearly 17.8 tons (more than 35,000 pounds) of "masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials." As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted in the press release announcing this shipment, "These donations are a testament to the generosity of the American people." Americans indeed are a generous people. We want to help those in need. And at the time these medical supplies were shipped, more than 28,000 people in China were infected with nearly 600 deaths attributed to the virus. But how could Trump allow tons of vital medical equipment Americans to be transported to another country in February if, as he has claimed since January, he fully understood the risk the United States was facing from the virus. As a reminder, the first known case of coronavirus case on US soil was confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 21, 2020. The next day, Trump was asked about the virus while attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. CNBC anchor Joe Kernen asked the President: "The CDC has identified a case of coronavirus in Washington state ... have you been briefed by the CDC?" to which Trump responded, "I have." Kernen continued, "Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?" Trump declared: "No. Not at all. And — we're — we have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It's — going to be just fine." Trump again on January 30 assured Americans he understood the threat posed by the virus and was prepared, stating, "We have it very well under control," adding, "We're working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it's going to have a very good ending for us ... that I can assure you." On February 5, US lawmakers were pressing the Trump administration on its preparedness for a possible widespread coronavirus outbreak in the US, with some slamming the administration's failure to communicate with the states about how the White House would be addressing it.

Critics have questioned the wisdom of exporting to China medical supplies that would soon be vitally needed in the U.S.
by David Mikkelson

The U.S. facilitated the sending of nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to China to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in early 2020. During the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic in March 2020, social media users began sharing a tweet ostensibly posted by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that castigated U.S. President Donald Trump for supposedly having sent 18 tons of personal protective equipment (PPE) to China while ignoring warnings and calling COVID-19 concerns a “hoax.” Readers wanted to know both if Waters had actually tweeted those words, and whether the content of that tweet was true:

   Trump, you incompetent idiot! You sent 18 tons of PPE to China early but ignored warnings & called COVID19 concerns a hoax. You've endangered doctors, nurses, aids, orderlies, & janitors – all risking their lives to save ours. Pray 4 forgiveness for the harm that you're causing!

   — Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) March 30, 2020

It is also true that on Feb. 7, 2020, while critics contended that the Trump administration was doing relatively little to prepare for the coming pandemic in the U.S., the State Department announced it had facilitated “the transportation of nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials” in order to help “contain and combat the novel coronavirus”:

By Ryan Browne, Zachary Cohen and Jamie Crawford, CNN

Washington (CNN) The commander of a US aircraft carrier that has been hit by a major outbreak of coronavirus has been relieved of command for a loss of judgement, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced on Thursday. "Today at my direction the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by carrier strike group commander Rear Admiral Stewart Baker," Modly said. Earlier this week Modly wrote a memo warning Navy leadership that decisive action was needed to save the lives of the ship's crew, a defense official tells CNN. "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors," Capt. Brett Crozier wrote in the memo to the Navy's Pacific Fleet, three US defense officials confirmed to CNN. Modly said Crozier was relieved because he went outside the chain of command and sent his memo over an unsecured system adding to the chances it could be leaked. A US defense official told CNN earlier Thursday that 114 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus. "Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure," he wrote in the memo. "This is a necessary risk. It will enable the carrier and air wing to get back underway as quickly as possible while ensuring the health and safety of our Sailors. Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care." Modly said Wednesday that if it turned out the letter was leaked it "would violate the principles of good order and discipline if -- if -- if he were responsible for that. But, I don't know that. The fact that he wrote the letter of -- to his chain of command to express his concerns would absolutely not result in any type of retaliation. This is what we want our commanding officers to be able to do."

The ABC star’s new book "Front Row at the Trump Show" is out this week. Karl talked to The Daily Beast about Trump’s bullying and how some reporters don’t help by grandstanding.
By Lloyd Grove

It was all in a day’s work during one of Donald Trump’s typically self-flattering, duplicitous, and peevish coronavirus briefings when ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl pressed him last Friday about the availability of ventilators for COVID-19 patients, and the president responded with schoolyard insults. “Look, look, don’t be a cutie-pie, OK?” Trump weirdly admonished Karl after he tried to pin the president down with the question, “So everybody who needs [one] will be able to get a ventilator?” Trump angrily continued: “Nobody has ever done what we have done. Nobody has done anything like we have been able to do and everything I took over was a mess… So I wouldn't tell me what you are telling—you know, like being a wise guy.” For the 52-year-old Karl, who has covered every White House since Bill Clinton’s second term, the cutie-pie/wise guy exchange—much like Trump’s spiteful back-and-forth this past Sunday with PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor and CNN’s Jeremy Diamond (again, over the shortage of ventilators)—was emblematic of the 45th president’s “Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde” personality disorder when it comes to his dealings with the Fourth Estate. “It’s a vivid example of the way he has been from the beginning,” Karl told The Daily Beast as he celebrated the publication of his book, Front Row at the Trump Show, which includes a scene of Trump cutting short a December 2015 interview and screaming, “Fucking nasty guy!” because he didn’t appreciate Karl telling him that polls showed him losing to Hillary Clinton. “You saw it when he screamed profanities at me and stormed out of an interview in 2015 and then came back in like nothing had happened and asked me to take a picture with him,” Karl said. “And that picture’s in the book, where he’s all grinning and I’m not smiling, like I’m still furious.” Karl continued: “Even in the last couple of days, when he’s been doing what he did to Yamiche and doing what he did to me, he’s been saying that the media has been doing a good job. He even said something nice about Yamiche [“You’re a journalist,” Trump said. “A fine journalist.”] in the middle of personally insulting her in the same barrage of words.” The president’s ire, Karl acknowledged, is often aimed at female African-American journalists like Alcindor, whose questions tend to get under Trump’s skin. The president singled out Alcindor once again during Monday’s coronavirus briefing, chiding her for a “really snarky question” about the dearth of U.S. testing for the disease, and for not congratulating him on the terrific job his administration has been doing. “There was that two-day period where he went after Yamiche, he went after [CNN’s] Abby Phillip and he went after [American Urban Radio’s] April Ryan—all in deeply personal ways,” Karl recalled. During impromptu Q&As in November 2018, Trump told Phillip that she asks “a lot of stupid questions,” described Ryan as “a loser,” and dodged one of Alcindor’s queries by calling it “racist.” “It was very striking,” Karl said. “There does seem to be a particular ferocity with which he goes after them.” Karl’s book documents a Trumpian process that he describes as “the notion of truth being eroded.

By Betsy Klein, Kevin Liptak and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

(CNN) Vice President Mike Pence sought to cast blame on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and China Wednesday when asked why the US was so late in understanding the enormity of the coronavirus pandemic. "I will be very candid with you and say that in mid-January the CDC was still assessing that the risk of the coronavirus to the American people was low. The very first case, which was someone who had been in China -- in late January around the 20th day of January," Pence told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Pence continued: "The reality is that we could've been better off if China had been more forthcoming." "The reality is that China's been more transparent with respect to the coronavirus than certainly they were for other infectious diseases over the last 15 years," he said. "But what appears evident now is long before the world learned in December, China was dealing with this, maybe as much as a month earlier than that." A White House coronavirus task force spokesman denied that Pence was casting blame on the CDC's response efforts. "The CDC has been a major contributor to the Task Force and the whole-of-government response to the coronavirus outbreak. Vice President Pence has never cast blame on the CDC or any agency involved in the response efforts, and that did not change today," coronavirus task force spokesperson Devin O'Malley said in a statement to CNN. US health officials from the CDC took active steps starting in January to prepare for the outbreak as information trickled out of China. Members of Trump's Cabinet also got involved and started briefing lawmakers. While public health officials and medical experts raised the alarm, Trump downplayed their concerns and injected controversial and unproven theories into the conversation. In the course of two months, President Donald Trump has dramatically shifted his tone and level of optimism about the spread of novel coronavirus and its impact on the economy. At the coronavirus briefing on February 26, for example, Trump said all of the following: "This is a flu. This is like a flu"; "Now, you treat this like a flu"; "It's a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we'll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner." As recently as the second week of March, Trump was an advocate of facing the virus without taking drastic measures to address it. Just four days ago, on March 27, he said that you can call the coronavirus "a flu," or a virus or a germ.

By Paul Farhi

There have been a lot more empty seats at President Trump’s daily press briefings — but no, news organizations aren’t boycotting the events in protest or attempting to silence him, despite what he suggested at a briefing earlier this week. Instead, something else is afoot: Reporters are keeping their distance because they are concerned about the health risks at a time when many consider the president’s evening news conferences to have become increasingly less newsworthy. The decision by such outlets as The Washington Post, New York Times and CNBC to stay away may be fundamentally changing the character of the briefings. With veteran White House reporters on the sidelines, the president has primarily engaged with TV journalists, including one from a small, far-right conservative news channel that rarely gets such a prominent stage. The Post, Times and CNBC stopped sending reporters to the briefings — which have taken place in the Rose Garden as well as the more cramped confines of the West Wing’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room — after two White House correspondents were suspected of having contracted covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. (One of the reporters, who hasn’t been publicly identified, tested negative on Tuesday, according to ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association). Executive Editor Dean Baquet said the Times has withdrawn its reporters from the briefings, both because of health considerations and the uncertain newsworthiness. Reporters continue to monitor them on TV and report anything worthwhile. “Nowadays, it seems they make little news,” he said. “We, of course, reserve the right to show them live [via Web streaming] if we believe they will actually make news. But that hasn’t happened in quite some time.” Baquet’s statement is remarkable in several respects. It’s almost unheard of for a leading news outlet to not send a reporter to a presidential news conference. It’s also highly unusual for a presidential news conference not to make news, considering the gravity of the office and the consequences of any presidential utterance. However, Trump’s near-daily briefings have been widely criticized for the amount of disinformation he has provided about federal efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Among other things, Trump has overstated the availability of testing, touted untested drug regimens as potential cures and spent considerable time criticizing reporters for asking questions he didn’t like. The suggestion that he has turned the briefings into quasi-campaign rallies in service of his reelection effort have prompted some commentators to urge cable networks to stop showing them live and unfiltered. There’s an ironic subtext to media organizations deciding the briefings aren’t newsworthy enough to bother with: Before the pandemic, journalists had complained bitterly that the White House had gone a full year without holding the news briefings that once had been a daily ritual. Trump on Sunday implied that news organizations, including CNN and The Post, are attempting to silence him. “When they don’t want the president of the United States to have a voice, you are not talking about democracy any longer. Any longer,” he said. In fact, CNN says it plans to continue covering the briefings, as do MSNBC and Fox News. The Post has stopped sending reporters to the briefings and skipped its rotation in the press pool, which provides reports to all reporters, when Trump traveled to Norfolk over the weekend. Both moves were prompted by health concerns.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) On Tuesday, President Donald Trump seemed to get it. He stood in front of his coronavirus task force and, in somber terms, told the public that the next two weeks would see more illness and more death. He acknowledged that the death toll, if America keeps to its current social distancing guidelines, will likely fall somewhere between 100,000 and 240,000 dead Americans. "Our country is in the midst of a great national trial unlike any it has ever faced before," Trump said. Which, well, it's about time. The truth here is that everything Trump said on Tuesday about the spread and dangers -- and even the number of dead -- has been known publicly for weeks. The only leader who failed to acknowledge it was, well, the President. Consider that 23 days ago, Trump sent out this tweet to his 70+ million followers: "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" Even when he sent that tweet, scientists and infectious disease experts were telling anyone who would listen that this was NOT the flu -- its mortality rate was far higher, we had no herd immunity to it and there was no vaccine. Trump didn't want to believe that. So he decided it was wrong. And through his words and actions -- whether his tweets and public statements downplaying the threat or his administration's too-slow reaction to the lack of adequate testing -- Trump's decisions helped get us to this bad place. Now, to be clear: This is not to lay blame for the coronavirus at Trump's feet. This was -- and is -- a virus that had never before been transmitted to humans. There is no vaccine. Governments around the world are struggling with combating it and protecting their citizens even as I write. But there is NO question that Trump's downplaying of the virus in these critical last few weeks has played a role in the fact that we are now faced with the blunt reality of significantly more deaths of Americans from coronavirus than died in the Vietnam War (58,220).

The move would have made it easier for people who have recently lost jobs to obtain health insurance.
By Margot Sanger-Katz

The Trump administration has decided against reopening the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare.gov marketplaces to new customers, despite broad layoffs and growing fears that people will be uninsured for the coronavirus. The option to reopen markets, in what is known as a special enrollment period, would have made it easier for people who have recently lost jobs or who had already been uninsured to obtain health insurance. The administration has established such special enrollment periods in the past, typically in the wake of natural disasters. The administration had been considering the action for several weeks, and President Trump mentioned such conversations in a recent news briefing. But according to a White House official, those discussions are now over. The news of the decision was previously reported by Politico. Under current law, people who lose job-based insurance already qualify to enroll for health insurance on the marketplaces, but are required to provide proof that they lost their coverage. A special enrollment period would have made it easier for such people to enroll, because it would not require that paperwork. It also would have provided a new option for people who chose not to buy health insurance this year but want it now. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have established special enrollment periods to allow people to obtain new insurance coverage. The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, and they control their marketplaces. But federal action would have been required to allow customers to re-enter the markets in the 38 states with markets run by Healthcare.gov. or that use the federal platform.

By Greg Sargent

The Big Lie that President Trump’s campaign will employ to rescue his reelection chances amid his catastrophic mishandling of the biggest U.S. public health emergency in modern times is edging into view. Fittingly, it is being telegraphed by the author of the perfect catchphrase of the Trump era — “alternative facts.” White House spinner Kellyanne Conway has offered a new defense of Trump that telegraphs the coming strategy. It doesn’t rest simply on the idea that Trump’s handling of coronavirus has been a decisive success, but also on the crucial idea that this crisis could not have been anticipated. This new defense of Trump comes amid a truly seismic event: a massive capitulation to reality, in which Trump acknowledged that coronavirus deaths could be far higher than anyone can bear, leading him to extend strict social-distancing guidelines until at least the end of April. The extraordinary emerging accounts of this abrupt reversal all tell a similar story. Horrifying TV imagery (mounting corpses in Queens) and attention-grabbing statistics (advisers told him a best-case scenario involves 100,000 to 200,000 U.S. deaths) finally penetrated for Trump. This combined with hard-nosed politics to force Trump to abandon his reelection-driven desire to reopen the economy quickly. His political team is mindful of polls showing broad public support for keeping the economy on hold until the coronavirus is tackled, and it fears that a resurgent spike in deaths this fall could be worse for him than an immediate economic collapse. It is in this deeply fraught context that Conway put forth her defense of Trump, as reported by The Post:

  Trump “is presiding over the country’s response to an unanticipated, unprecedented pandemic of global proportions, and he is getting credit for his handling of the pandemic … In due time, he will preside over the great American comeback, which is more likely to be in the summer or fall, depending on the effectiveness of mitigation and relief efforts and the uncertain path of the virus itself.”

All the ingredients of the coming Big Lie campaign are there. The pandemic was not just an unprecedented challenge; it was one that no one could have anticipated. Trump has risen to the occasion in spite of the fact that everyone was caught off guard. And any hard times to come, far from having been created in no small part by Trump himself, will be the occasion for him to rally the country back to (resumed) glory. What all this suggests is that Trump’s political team appears to have decided that on the coronavirus, it cannot concede error of any kind on his part. This explains a great deal about this moment, but it also suggests the potential for extreme peril ahead.

Trump’s acceptance of reality is selective
On a conference call with governors on Monday, Trump was pressed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock about his state’s dire need for more testing equipment. “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks,” Trump claimed, as a leaked audiotape of the call revealed. “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem.” This is a ludicrous lie: Governors have been frantically demanding new testing equipment for some time. Investigative reporting has documented an extraordinary string of failures on the Trump administration’s part leading to current shortages. Those in turn spawned a “lost month” that helped allow the coronavirus to rampage out of control, with untold horrors ahead. But what this shows, again, is that Trump’s acceptance of reality (when it comes to mounting deaths) only goes so far: He will continue to employ his magical reality-bending powers to mask his own previous failures to whatever degree he can. That project rests heavily on the idea, as Conway put it, that this crisis was “unanticipated.” But that’s verifiable nonsense. “It was only unexpected to people who chose not to pay attention — meaning Trump and a White House that has consistently downplayed and marginalized preparedness and readiness for exactly this scenario,” Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, told me. Trump vastly minimized the crisis in real time for weeks and weeks, at a time when his own health-care officials, as well as members of Congress and outside experts, were frantically doing the opposite, badly hampering the federal response.

By Heidi Glenn

A day after issuing a stay-at-home directive to Maryland residents, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he and other governors are still "not satisfied" with federal assistance in response to the coronavirus crisis. Hogan, who is also the chair of National Governors Association, issued the directive on Monday as did leaders in nearby Virginia and Washington, D.C., to combat an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the mid-Atlantic region. Hogan spoke to NPR's Rachel Martin about President Trump's claim that there's no longer a lack of coronavirus testing kits and about the governor's own efforts in his state which, as of March 31, has 1,661 confirmed cases and 18 deaths.

How is Maryland preparing to help residents who test positive for COVID-19?
There's nobody in America that's prepared. And we've been working very hard on that for more than three weeks. We have a hospital surge plan, which we're in the process of [implementing]. ... We're trying to ramp up 70 percent increase in our hospital bed capacity; we've now opened, with the help of FEMA and our Maryland National Guard, a field hospital in the Baltimore convention center. We're opening closed hospitals. ... We've added already 2,400 additional hospital beds across the state but we're working to add a total of 6,000. With respect to the personal protective equipment and masks and ventilators and all of those things that your hearing about: Every single state in America has a shortage. ... We've been pushing these things at the federal level but there are simply not enough of them.

By Philip Rucker and William Wan

President Trump and the physicians advising the federal pandemic response on Tuesday delivered a bleak outlook for the novel coronavirus’s spread across the country, predicting a best-case scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 fatalities in the United States and summoning all Americans to make additional sacrifices to slow the spread. Trump adopted a newly somber and sedate tone — and contradicted many of his own previous assessments of the virus — as he instructed Americans to continue social distancing, school closures and other mitigation efforts for an additional 30 days and to think of the choices they make as matters of life and death. Trump and his coronavirus task force members said that community mitigation practices in place for the past 15 days have worked and that extending them is essential. The mathematical modeling the White House presented suggests doing so could save hundreds of thousands of lives. Without community mitigation, the models predict, 1.5 million to 2.2 million Americans could die of covid-19, the disease the virus causes, though no time frames or other details were provided for the figures.

By Meg Kelly, Sarah Cahlan and Elyse Samuels

“We have it totally under control.”

— President Trump, in an interview, on Jan. 22

“We're in great shape in our country. We have 11, and the 11 are getting better. ”

— Trump, in remarks, on Feb. 10

“You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country.”

— Trump, in a news conference, on Feb. 25

“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

— Trump, in remarks, on Feb. 27

“Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.”

— Trump, in remarks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, March 6

When the first U.S. case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed, President Trump assured the American people that the situation was “totally under control.” Cabinet officials, the vice president and the president repeated that refrain throughout February. By the end of that month, as global financial markets and the American public started to quiver, Trump held firm: “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country.”  With the clarity of hindsight, it is obvious the situation was very much not under control. In reality, a lack of testing gave a false picture of how many people across the country were infected. Through government documents, testimony, news reports and interviews, The Fact Checker video team has reconstructed events that left the government blind to the virus’s spread, and examined how those errors opened the door for 11 confirmed cases to balloon to more than 100,000 in less than six weeks.

The Facts
The novel coronavirus was first detected in early December in Wuhan, China. Chinese officials reported the pneumonia-like disease to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of December, but neglected to mention growing evidence that the virus could spread by human-to-human transmission through airborne droplets. Despite the alarm bells and increased intelligence briefings, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention for weeks.

January: Make the test
One of the first things that any government needs to track and manage any disease’s spread is the ability to test for it. Because covid-19 is a disease caused by a novel strain of coronavirus, that meant developing a new test.

By Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump warned of a "painful" and "tough" two-week stretch ahead as he extended nationwide distancing measures that -- even if followed closely -- could still mean more than 100,000 and up to 240,000 Americans die from coronavirus. It was a stark message from a President who spent weeks downplaying the severity of the virus and questioned its potential impact in the United States. Trump did not minimize what has become the gravest public health crisis in decades during his remarks that stretched more than two hours on Tuesday. Instead, he advised Americans that darker days are still to come. "I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We're going to go through a very tough two weeks," Trump said, setting expectations for a dire fortnight where death rates spike. He was speaking during a White House news conference meant to formally reissue nationwide coronavirus guidelines after Trump -- faced with dire models showing hundreds of thousands of potential American deaths, polls indicating support for social distancing and calamitous scenes at New York hospitals -- determined another 30 days of social distancing were necessary to avert disaster. After he spoke, the top health officials on Trump's task force presented a series of slides showing their models for how the social distancing measures might help prevent potentially millions of deaths. But in a dire prediction, Dr. Deborah Birx said that even if the federal guidelines are followed precisely, between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths could still occur -- a number that well surpasses the American death toll in the Vietnam War. Officials were quick to say they didn't accept that figure as predetermined, and noted that high case counts in New York and New Jersey were pulling the projections higher. But the model laid bare the potential devastation the outbreak could inflict.
"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," Dr. Anthony Fauci, another top medical expert on Trump's team, told reporters. "We're going to do everything we can to get it significantly below that." The presentation on Tuesday was the first time the administration offered official projections for how many Americans might die from the virus, which is ravaging certain parts of the country and has spread to all 50 states. Trump offered a new level of sobriety in his discussion of the models, though he remained insistent his administration had handled the outbreak adequately and refused to accept responsibility for early testing failures, which he blamed on previous administrations. The sharp turnaround from his earlier dismissals was best illustrated in his insistence Tuesday that coronavirus is "not the flu -- it's vicious," despite insisting over the past month the two were similar.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Tuesday there was no evidence that a drug touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential miracle cure against COVID-19 was effective against the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Trump had said that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, could be among “the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” for its potential effects against COVID-19. “The efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients has to date not been proved,” a spokesman for the European Commission said on Tuesday, relaying an internal opinion from the European Medicine Agency. The spokesman said there was also no evidence either of the positive effects of chloroquine, another malaria drug, which is also being tested for its possible use against COVID-19. The U.S. Health and Human Services on Thursday listed hydroxychloroquine as a protected medical resource after Trump signed an executive order to prevent its hoarding and price gouging.

By Nicholas Wu - USA TODAY

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said Tuesday on NPR's Morning Edition that President Donald Trump was incorrect in saying coronavirus testing problems had been resolved. "Yeah, that's just not true. I mean I know that they've taken some steps to create new tests, but they're not actually produced and distributed out to the states." Hogan said, when host Rachel Martin asked him about Trump's assertions. "No state has enough testing." In a coronavirus task force briefing Monday, Trump said America's coronavirus testing was better "than any country in the world." "We have done more tests, by far, than any country in the world, by far. Our testing is also better than any country in the world," Trump said on Monday. "We have built an incredible system to the fact we have now done more tests than any other country in the world and now the technology is really booming," Trump said.

By Michael HiltzikBusiness Columnist

Even faster than Congress came together to pass its $2-trillion coronavirus bailout bill, President Trump signaled his intention to interfere with one of its most important provisions — public oversight of how the money gets doled out to big business. In signing the bill late Friday, Trump stated that he considered several oversight provisions of the bill to exceed congressional authority — in fact, to represent “impermissible...congressional aggrandizement.” They include provisions requiring that the chief bailout overseer, the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, or SIGPR, inform Congress “without delay” if executive branch departments “unreasonably” refuse the overseer’s request for information.

With $2 trillion in federal spending, oversight is not an elective; it’s an imperative. - Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine

“My administration,” Trump wrote in a signing statement issued after he ceremonially signed the bill, “will not treat ... this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress” without presidential approval. Trump’s statement thus signals that he’ll feel free to order executive branch departments not to cooperate with the inspector general. Looking ahead, that could set up a new round of conflicts between Congress and the White House over lawmakers’ demands for information, similar to the conflicts that arose over their demands for information relevant to the impeachment inquiry. This raises the question, even before the first dollar is spent on the $500-billion business bailout in the measure, of what Trump expects to need hiding. Most important, it undermines a crucial element of the bailout. As we’ve reported, congressional and public oversight of the spending is necessary to make sure that the bailout serves its purposes. “If you’re going to distribute the money without conditions attached ... your policy goals are not going to be achieved,” Neil M. Barofsky, who oversaw the spending from the 2008 bank bailout, told me. The bill that emerged from Congress and that Trump signed seemed to avoid that pitfall. But with the stroke of a pen, Trump opened the way to finagling, waste and grifting. Borofsky called Trump’s statement “potentially problematic.”

President’s press event features leaders from Honeywell, Procter & Gamble, and MyPillow as US cases climb
David Smith in Washington

Donald Trump was accused on Monday of turning his daily White House coronavirus briefing into an advertising spot for corporate allies, even as the number of US cases topped 160,000. The president paraded several company leaders in the White House Rose Garden, starting with Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow, who has become a regular cheerleader for Trump at his campaign rallies. Trump praised companies for doing their “patriotic duty” by producing or donating medical equipment to meet America’s most urgent needs. “What they’re doing is incredible,” he said. “These are great companies.” He went on to invite Lindell, Darius Adamczyk of Honeywell, Debra Waller of Jockey International, David Taylor of Procter & Gamble and Greg Hayes of United Technologies to make short speeches. He introduced Lindell as a “friend” and riffed: “Boy, do you sell those pillows, it’s unbelievable what you do.” Lindell then stood at the presidential podium and said his company has dedicated 75% of its manufacturing to producing cotton face masks. “By Friday I want to be up to 50,000 a day,” he said, going on to thank Trump for his “call to action”. Then, in a bizarre gear change, Lindell went into campaign rally mode and referenced the date of Trump’s election. “God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on,” he said. “God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God. “I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families.” Lindell added: “Our president gave us so much hope when just a few short months ago we had the best economy, the lower unemployment and wages going up. It was amazing ... We will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.” Trump told reporters: “I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine and I do appreciate it. Thank you, Mike.”

By Chantal Da Silva

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling on news broadcasters to stop providing live coverage of the White House's briefings on the coronavirus outbreak. Accusing President Donald Trump of using each briefing as a "live campaign rally," the petition, which has been published on MoveOn.org, asks CNN, ABC, CBS NBC, NPR and Fox News to consider whether it is necessary to livestream the COVID-19 press conferences in full. "President Trump is blatantly using the news organizations' extensive, live coverage to freely campaign for a second term," the petition claims. "It is wrong and dangerous to provide so much unfettered airtime to someone who is happily, shamelessly spreading terrible, damaging misinformation that is already costing fellow Americans their lives." Rather than broadcasting live coverage of the White House's COVID-19 briefings, the MoveOn petition asks broadcasters to monitor the briefings instead "and have your anchors and correspondents quickly share appropriately edited valuable accurate parts." The "valuable accurate parts," the petition states would be the statements coming "from medical experts." Cutting out Trump's own comments, the petition asserts, would "leave the President's insults, false braggadocio and outright lies on the editing room floor, where they belong." "Please stop covering the President's daily live campaign rally (thinly disguised as a coronavirus 'news conference')," the petition implores. "There is no need to do so." In the days since the petition was launched, it has quickly garnered support, gaining tens of thousands of signatures since three days ago, when it had just 10.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) It is falling to President Donald Trump to lead America into its most tragic month in decades, as experts say the coronavirus pandemic could kill more citizens than the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. But the President's bullish, self-congratulatory rhetoric -- a staple of a presidency that has divided the nation -- is still jarring with the desperate reality of a fast-worsening pandemic that is running out of control. On the day that heralded another grim new record in reported deaths -- more than 500 -- and that the fatality toll was roughly on par with those killed on September 11, 2001, Trump opened his daily news conference with a stark message, even though he still struggles to summon the empathy appropriate for such a time of mourning. Trump, who will be called upon to steady an anguished nation in the days to come, warned the country of a "vital 30 days" ahead, a day after extending social distancing guidelines until the end of April. "Our future is in our own hands and the choices and sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and really the fate of our victory," he said.

Historic test
No recent President has faced the kind of pervasive public health crisis that now confronts Trump. No administration's response would be completely surefooted. And Trump's optimism is important for a country that may be about to lose tens of thousands of citizens, according to forecasting models. His belated decision to listen to top public health officials represents progress and will save many lives. The President's administration faces many crucial decisions in the coming days that will determine how grave the eventual death toll will be, and how quickly the economic shutdown that has pitched millions out of work can be lifted. He must put in place intricate plans to stem the full fury of Covid-19 and to eventually ease the nation out of its defensive crouch. It's no exaggeration to say Trump faces the most critical month of his presidency yet -- and how he conducts himself will be crucial for the country and his own hopes of reelection. But there are signs that he does not fully understand the stakes nor is willing to relegate his own interests in favor of the common good. Trump still appears to be marveling at the spread of the virus, which he says no one could have predicted. Health experts had anticipated its arrival in the US for months as he predicted a miracle would occur and it would just go away. And on a day when so many Americans died, he boasted at one point that his hair blowing in the breeze in the White House Rose Garden was his own, marking an inappropriate tone for a harrowing national moment. Trump blasted reporters for asking "snarky" questions when they use facts and his own words to point out shortcomings in the effort to combat the virus in the United States, which now has more confirmed infections than any other nation. His reaction did not dispel the impression that he is more interested in protecting his reputation than fixing mistakes that may worsen the pandemic.

Governors warn federal government is still falling short
There are clear signs that the federal government response -- for instance, with the approval of fast new viral testing kits and the swift construction of field hospitals -- is finally gearing up. Yet Trump's belated mobilization of the federal government, which he touts in briefings every day -- after his weeks of downplaying the crisis -- appears likely to come too late for the peak period of infections, expected in the next few weeks. He announced on Monday the dispatch of thousands of surgical masks and protective gear for health care workers. But front-line doctors and nurses still lack what they need. Trump boasted that the United States had now conducted more coronavirus tests than any other nation -- more than a million. But health experts say the administration was unprepared to test sufficient people when it might have done more to stop the pandemic. And the US is still testing fewer people per capita than some other countries, such as South Korea. Trump lauded Ford and GE, saying they would churn out 50,000 ventilators in 100 days. But governors in multiple states told the President on Monday that they lacked the machines and other supplies needed ahead of a surge on hospitals within days. Trump painted the opposite picture, telling governors: "I haven't heard about testing being a problem." In his news conference, he denied there had been any criticism of his leadership in his call with governors.

Once again, the president is using aid to extort re-election help.
By Michelle Goldberg

Last December, during a congressional hearing on impeachment, the Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan tried to explain the gravity of Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo by making a domestic analogy. Members of Congress, she said, should imagine living in a state “prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding.” What would they think, she asked, if their governor requested a meeting with the president to talk about disaster assistance, and he replied, “I would like you to do us a favor”? Karlan seemed to assume that the grotesquerie of this hypothetical would be obvious. Now, with American life upended by coronavirus, her flagrantly corrupt scenario has come close to reality. True, Trump is not demanding that governors investigate Joe Biden in exchange for federal help. But he’s strongly suggested that if governors speak candidly about his monumental incompetence, he’ll penalize them and their states as they struggle to contain the coronavirus. Once again, he’s using his control of vital aid to extort assistance with his re-election. “There are a lot of parallels between the president’s behavior now and during the whole Ukraine scandal,” Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led Trump’s impeachment prosecution, told me. “Certainly the most apparent is his demand that the governors basically pay fealty to him, praise him, or they’ll suffer consequences.” At a news conference last week, Trump said that he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence, whom he has placed in charge of the coronavirus response, not to call the governors of some blue states where the pandemic is raging. “I say: ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan,’” he said, adding, “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.” “The woman in Michigan,” of course, is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose state has one of the nation’s most brutal coronavirus outbreaks. Trump’s contempt for Whitmer isn’t surprising, given his well-documented disdain for female leaders. As he weighed a federal disaster declaration for Michigan, he told Sean Hannity, “We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor from — you know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We can’t — we don’t like to see the complaints.”

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) On Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump quoted snippets from a New York Times article by Michael Grynbaum headlined: "Trump's Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?" The essence of the piece dealt with the delicate journalistic question of what responsibility TV networks owe to their viewers to broadcast the President discussing the ongoing coronavirus epidemic given that these near-daily briefings have now turned into Trump spouting mistruths and settling scores with journalists. Trump seemed to miss the point of the article -- likely on purpose. He selectively quoted the piece to focus on Grynbaum's noting of how well the coronavirus task force briefings have been performing in terms of TV ratings. Here's the first part of the column Trump tweet quoted: "President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of 'The Bachelor.' Numbers are continuing to rise..." It went on from there but, well, you get the idea. Aside from misunderstanding the actual point of Grynbaum's piece -- yes, these briefings do well in terms of ratings but is it responsible to carry them -- there's something deeply wrong with how Trump both prioritizes the importance of ratings and what they actually mean. Start with Trump clearly seeing the ratings for his briefings as a mark of some sort of success he has achieved. This is not a new thing for Trump. As a reality TV star -- and a cable TV obsessive -- long before he began running for president, ratings have always been the thing he has latched onto as an objective measure of success. If it rates, it is good. Period. A scroll through his Twitter feed reveals his longtime ratings obsessions. Using the "search" function at the amazing Trump Twitter Archive reveals 341 occurrences of the word "ratings" in Trump's tweets. His first ratings tweet came May 25, 2010, when Trump typed: "The ratings for the Celebrity Apprentice were fantastic and everyone had a great time. It was a terrific season -- congrats to everyone!" "We" means "me" for Trump. The narcissism there -- whether you like Trump or hate him -- literally smacks you in the face. To be so focused on yourself when so many are struggling for their lives and their livelihoods is hard to take. But this is who Trump is. And he's not changing. Ever.

By Brian Stelter, CNN Business

(CNN Business) President Trump's go-to move in a crisis is always the same: to call Fox News. On Monday morning he called into "Fox & Friends," one of his most reliable sources of support, and praised his own response to the pandemic. It was Trump's third interview on Fox in the past week, and it was more of the same: He talked for 54 minutes with hardly a tough question or assertive follow-up. If the ratings-conscious president had wanted to reach a bigger audience, he would have called into the "Today" show or "Good Morning America." If he had wanted to be heard on the global stage, he would have granted an interview to CNN. His decision to stay on Fox suggest he wants to shore up his base — and avoid difficult questioning. To be fair, Trump has been participating in near-daily briefings at the White House with members of his coronavirus task force. He has quarreled with multiple reporters at the briefings and bristled when they pressed him about his handling of the crisis. But the briefing dynamic is different than a traditional interview. As the crisis has deepened and the death toll has risen, Trump's only national TV interviews have been with Fox News. He sat down for a "virtual town hall" with Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer at the White House on March 24. Fox anchor Harris Faulkner also participated remotely. Hemmer and Faulkner were widely criticized for letting Trump repeat falsehoods without fact-checking or follow-ups. Two days later, Trump called into Hannity's prime time show for a 40-minute chat. He claimed he postponed a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping in order to talk with Hannity.

“As we outpace what we need we’re going to be sending them to Italy,” Trump insisted at his coronavirus briefing Monday night. “We’re going to be sending them to France.”
By Hunter Woodall

President Donald Trump is so confident in the country’s production of ventilators that he’s dangling the idea of helping countries abroad by sending them surplus supplies even as U.S. governors continue to ask the federal government for that crucial medical equipment. During a press briefing Monday, the president took a business friendly approach, touting an announcement from Ford and General Electric Healthcare that they would “produce 50,000 ventilators,” as well as nine additional companies also “doing ventilators.” He continued to praise his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “As we outpace what we need we’re going to be sending them to Italy,” Trump said. “We’re going to be sending them to France. We’re going to be sending them to Spain, where they have tremendous problems and other countries as we can. But the fact that we’re doing so many so quickly is a tribute to our great companies.” Towards the end of the briefing, a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta triggered Trump’s standard condemnation of reporters. The reporter read back past statements from the president on the virus and asked for a response to Americans who feel the president “got this wrong.” After defending his past statements and saying the virus “will go away,” and promising “a great victory,” Trump turned on the reporter, saying he doesn’t want panic in the United States.

By Chris Boyette and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that the federal government sent the wrong type of medical masks in a shipment that his state recently received. Pritzker, a Democrat, said at a news conference that the White House told him the state would receive 300,000 N95 masks from the federal government. The N95 respirator mask is what doctors wear when treating individuals infected with a virus. Instead, what Illinois received were surgical masks, which are not considered respiratory protection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are not totally effective in preventing coronavirus transmission. "My team is sorting through the shipment of 300,000 N95 masks the White House personally told me would be sent to our state, and while we do not have a final count on this yet, I can say with certainty that what they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for," he said at the news conference. "I can't emphasize enough how much we need the federal government to step up and amplify the size of their (personal protective equipment) deliveries to Illinois and, frankly, across the nation," Pritzker added. The news comes as President Donald Trump has clashed with Democratic governors, who are navigating the deepening public health crisis in their states. The governors are at the same time confronting the President's demand for public praise and appreciation amid widespread criticism of the federal government's missteps in supplying testing and protective equipment. Demonstrating their famously hot and cold work relationship, Trump accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week of requesting, and then improperly storing, too many ventilators as New York City and state struggle to keep up with the virus.

Now part of the long list of women the president has insulted: a governor, a reporter, the head of General Motors and, of course, the House speaker.
By Annie Karni

WASHINGTON — As he confronts a global pandemic, President Trump’s attention has also been directed at a more familiar foe: those he feels are challenging him, and particularly women. “Always a mess with Mary B.,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week, attacking the female chief executive of General Motors, Mary T. Barra, as he accused the company of dragging its feet on producing ventilators. “As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” he wrote, “this” G.M. apparently referring to the one led by the first female chief executive of an American auto manufacturer. At least he mentioned Ms. Barra by name. When it came to Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, who delivered her party’s official response to his State of the Union address earlier this year and has been pushing for a national emergency declaration in her state, Mr. Trump did not acknowledge her by name. “We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor,” he said in an interview last week with Sean Hannity, the Fox News host. “You know who I’m talking about, from Michigan.” The president dismissed Ms. Whitmer, who has been pressing the federal government to provide more medical equipment to her state, noting that she was a new governor and it had “not been pleasant.” In a tweet, he later referred to her as “Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer,” saying “she doesn’t have a clue.” Ms. Whitmer, whom White House officials have privately criticized for showing her inexperience on the group conference calls with the president, has been relatively measured in her public criticisms of Mr. Trump. In interviews, she said Michigan was not receiving “clear directives and guidance” from Washington, and that the federal government told her that if the state needed supplies, “we needed to go it ourselves.” On the calls, officials said, she has been corrected by Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about what waivers she had already been granted by the federal government. At his news conference on Friday, Mr. Trump said he had directed Vice President Mike Pence to cut off communication with Ms. Whitmer, again without using her name. He said he told Mr. Pence, “‘Don’t call the woman in Michigan,’” Mr. Trump said at his news conference. “I say, if they don’t treat you right, don’t call.” But Tiffany Brown, Ms. Whitmer’s spokeswoman, said the governor was committed to maintaining a functional relationship with the federal government — even if that no longer included Mr. Trump. “Governor Whitmer has and will continue to have conversations with the Vice President and the head of FEMA,” Ms. Brown said in a statement.

By Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

(CNN) On two occasions during Sunday's coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump falsely denied he had said words he had said publicly last week.
When PBS's Yamiche Alcindor noted that the President had said he did not believe that governors actually need all the equipment they claimed they did, Trump said, "I didn't say that" — even though he said precisely that on Fox News on Thursday. Later, when CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond noted that Trump had said he wanted governors to be "appreciative" of him, and that "if they don't treat you right, I don't call," Trump said, "But I didn't say that" — even though he said precisely that at the Friday briefing. Here's a closer look.

What Trump said about governors and equipment
Trump falsely denied that he claimed governors from certain states are asking for equipment they don't need. At Sunday's briefing, Alcindor, Newshour's White House Correspondent, asked the President whether he felt his comments and belief "that some of the equipment that governors are requesting they don't actually need" would have an impact on the federal distribution of ventilators and other medical resources. As Alcindor attempted to finish her question, the President interjected, "I didn't say that," before going on to say it wouldn't have an impact. Facts First: He did say that. On March 26 during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said, "a lot of equipment's being asked for that I don't think they'll need" specifically in reference to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and following a tirade against Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Trump later said he felt Cuomo was requesting an unnecessary number of ventilators. "I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be," Trump said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators." When Alcindor noted that she was quoting from the President's interview with Hannity, Trump said: "Take a look at my interview. What I want to do is if there is something wrong, we have to get to the bottom of it."

What Trump said about his dealings with governors
CNN's Jeremy Diamond began a question to Trump as follows: "I'd also like to ask you about some comments you made on Friday. You were talking about governors of different states and you said, 'I want them to be appreciative.' You also said, 'if they don't treat you right, I don't call.'" After Diamond said the words "if they don't treat you right," Trump said, "But I didn't say that." When Diamond finished the sentence, Trump said "I didn't say that" once more. Facts First: Trump did say what he claimed he didn't. As Diamond told Trump, Diamond was reading direct quotes from Trump's Friday briefing. Trump went on to argue Sunday that he was being taken out of context, noting that on Friday he had also said of his "I want them to be appreciative" comment, that he was talking about people other than himself. Trump had said Friday: "I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about Mike Pence, the task force; I'm talking about FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers." Trump is within his rights to urge media outlets to play the full clip, but those additional comments do not change the fact that he had said exactly what Diamond said he did. Trump also said Sunday: "I don't call the governor of Washington now, but Mike Pence calls, and the head of FEMA calls; I don't stop them. Did I ever ask you to do anything negative, Mike, to Washington?" We don't know for sure what Trump might have told Pence in private, but Trump explicitly said Friday that he had indeed tried to get Pence not to call the governors of Washington and Michigan. Trump said Friday: "He calls all the governors. I tell him — I mean, I'm a different type of person — I say, 'Mike, don't call the governor of Washington. You're wasting your time with him. Don't call the woman in Michigan.'" When a reporter pressed Trump on Friday about whether he really doesn't want Pence to call the governor of Washington, Trump confirmed — but said that Pence, a "different type of person," will "call quietly anyway."

By David Shortell, Evan Perez, Jeremy Herb and Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter. The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades, according to one of the sources. Public scrutiny of the lawmakers' market activity has centered on whether members of Congress sought to profit from the information they obtained in non-public briefings about the virus epidemic. Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, has previously said that he relied only on public news reports as he decided to sell between $628,000 and $1.7 million in stocks on February 13. Earlier this month, he asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review the trades given "the assumption many could make in hindsight," he said at the time. There's no indication that any of the sales, including Burr's, broke any laws or ran afoul of Senate rules. But the sales have come under fire after senators received closed-door briefings about the virus over the past several weeks — before the market began trending downward. It is routine for the FBI and SEC to review stock trades when there is public question about their propriety. In a statement Sunday to CNN, Alice Fisher, a lawyer for Burr, said that the senator "welcomes a thorough review of the facts in this matter, which will establish that his actions were appropriate." "The law is clear that any American -- including a Senator -- may participate in the stock market based on public information, as Senator Burr did. When this issue arose, Senator Burr immediately asked the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a complete review, and he will cooperate with that review as well as any other appropriate inquiry," said Fisher, who led the Justice Department's criminal division under former President George W. Bush.

The president has presented an overly rosy picture about how the fight against the virus is going. A new poll suggests the public isn’t buying it.
By Sam Stein

A clear majority of the American public, including self-identified Republicans, do not believe the disinformation that President Donald Trump keeps pushing around the spread of coronavirus. And even members of the president’s own party are skeptical of his argument that getting the country back to work needs to be as prioritized as public safety measures. A new survey conducted by Ipsos exclusively for The Daily Beast provides some of the clearest evidence to date that the president’s attempts to paint a rosy picture about the coronavirus’ spread throughout the country are not resonating beyond a small segment of the populace with a small exception for those who say they’re getting their information from Fox News. A full 73 percent of respondents, including 75 percent of Republicans, said that it was not true that “anyone who wants to get tested [for the virus] can get tested.” Just 17 percent said it was true. Only 20 percent of the public, and just 25 percent of Republicans, said that they believed a vaccine will be available soon. Forty-two percent said that was false and 38 percent said they did not know. Fifty-one percent of respondents, including a plurality or Republicans (46 percent), said it was false that the virus would go away on its own in warm weather, while just 13 percent said that was true. And 61 percent of respondents said that they believed COVID-19 was more deadly than the flu; with 22 percent saying it was about the same and 11 percent saying they believed it was less deadly. The question that seemed to generate the most confusion was on whether the Federal Drug Administration had “approved anti-malaria drugs to treat the virus.” But even then, 45 percent of respondents correctly identified that statement as false, 22 percent said it was true and 33 percent said they did not know.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

A federal judge in California on Saturday found that the Trump administration has not taken sufficient measures to safeguard the health of detained migrant children during the coronavirus pandemic, calling detention facilities "hotbeds of contagion." Citing the "unprecedented threats" posed by the coronavirus crisis, Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ordered officials to make every effort to release detained children "without unnecessary delay," a requirement established through the landmark Flores Settlement Agreement, which governs the care of minors in U.S. immigration custody.  If the children are not promptly released, Gee said the administration has to justify their continued detention amid a global pandemic that has killed more than 32,100 people, including more than 2,200 in the U.S. "We think President Trump is unnecessarily detaining thousands of immigrant children in violation of the Flores settlement that we reached with the government in 1997, and has done precious little to protect them from the dangers of coronavirus infection," Peter Schey, president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, told CBS News. Last week, Schey, one of the two attorneys who filed the original lawsuit that prompted the Flores agreement, and his group asked Gee to require officials to promptly release migrant children who are not flight risks and who don't pose a danger to themselves or others. Gee, who has overseen litigation surrounding the agreement for years, partially granted the request, ordering the government to say by April 10 why she shouldn't order them to stop detaining children who could be released to family members in the U.S.

Donald Trump arrives to speak the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House last Saturday. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
The president was aware of the danger from the coronavirus – but a lack of leadership has created an emergency of epic proportions
by Ed Pilkington and Tom McCarthy in New York

When the definitive history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, the date 20 January 2020 is certain to feature prominently. It was on that day that a 35-year-old man in Washington state, recently returned from visiting family in Wuhan in China, became the first person in the US to be diagnosed with the virus. On the very same day, 5,000 miles away in Asia, the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was reported in South Korea. The confluence was striking, but there the similarities ended. In the two months since that fateful day, the responses to coronavirus displayed by the US and South Korea have been polar opposites. One country acted swiftly and aggressively to detect and isolate the virus, and by doing so has largely contained the crisis. The other country dithered and procrastinated, became mired in chaos and confusion, was distracted by the individual whims of its leader, and is now confronted by a health emergency of daunting proportions. Within a week of its first confirmed case, South Korea’s disease control agency had summoned 20 private companies to the medical equivalent of a war-planning summit and told them to develop a test for the virus at lightning speed. A week after that, the first diagnostic test was approved and went into battle, identifying infected individuals who could then be quarantined to halt the advance of the disease. Some 357,896 tests later, the country has more or less won the coronavirus war. On Friday only 91 new cases were reported in a country of more than 50 million. The US response tells a different story. Two days after the first diagnosis in Washington state, Donald Trump went on air on CNBC and bragged: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

‘A fiasco of incredible proportions’
A week after that, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article by two former top health policy officials within the Trump administration under the headline Act Now to Prevent an American Epidemic. Luciana Borio and Scott Gottlieb laid out a menu of what had to be done instantly to avert a massive health disaster. Top of their to-do list: work with private industry to develop an “easy-to-use, rapid diagnostic test” – in other words, just what South Korea was doing. It was not until 29 February, more than a month after the Journal article and almost six weeks after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country that the Trump administration put that advice into practice. Laboratories and hospitals would finally be allowed to conduct their own Covid-19 tests to speed up the process. Today, 86,012 cases have been confirmed in the US, pushing the nation to the top of the world’s coronavirus league table. Those missing four to six weeks are likely to go down in the definitive history as a cautionary tale of the potentially devastating consequences of failed political leadership. Today, 86,012 cases have been confirmed across the US, pushing the nation to the top of the world’s coronavirus league table – above even China. More than a quarter of those cases are in New York City, now a global center of the coronavirus pandemic, with New Orleans also raising alarm. Nationally, 1,301 people have died. Most worryingly, the curve of cases continues to rise precipitously, with no sign of the plateau that has spared South Korea. “The US response will be studied for generations as a textbook example of a disastrous, failed effort,” Ron Klain, who spearheaded the fight against Ebola in 2014, told a Georgetown university panel recently. “What’s happened in Washington has been a fiasco of incredible proportions.”

Public health experts have criticized the idea of instituting statewide quarantines in “hot spots” like New York.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force unanimously shunned President Donald Trump’s suggestion of a quarantine in the New York City area, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday. The president “did very seriously consider” the idea of locking down the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” But Trump was dissuaded after a meeting with the task force led by Vice President Mike Pence. “The president wanted to consider all the options. He was obviously concerned what was going on with New York,” said Mnuchin, who is a member of the task force. “He spoke to the task force, he spoke to the governors, and he was comfortable that people would take this advisory very seriously and would not travel.” The president had floated the idea of a short-term quarantine on Saturday. But he retreated later, instead tweeting that “a full quarantine will not be necessary” and, instead, embraced a new travel advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All three of the states mentioned in the CDC’s advisory already have issued their own travel restrictions. Public health experts have criticized the idea of instituting statewide quarantines in “hot spots” like New York, warning the U.S. is past trying to contain the virus to geographic regions.

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

Washington (CNN) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday criticized President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "his denial at the beginning was deadly" and that as he "fiddles, people are dying." "We should be taking every precaution. What the President, his denial at the beginning was deadly," Pelosi said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. Pelosi added, "As the President fiddles, people are dying. We just have to take every precaution." After the number of reported coronavirus deaths in the US doubled to more than 2,000 within two days, officials are advising residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut not to travel domestically.

by Avatar Teresa Timmer

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia Gov. Newsom declares statewide moratorium on evictions for renters hit by coronavirus Disneyland and Disney Globe shut until finally further notice States brace for huge budget gaps in coronavirus economic downturn Extra (D) stated Saturday that 170 ventilators shipped by the federal authorities to help his state react to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus were “not functioning” when they arrived. Newsom produced the remarks in the course of a press convention in which he famous that the quantity of coronavirus individuals in intense care models had doubled considering the fact that Friday, according to The Los Angeles Moments. Newsom explained that the stockpile of ventilators had been sent to Los Angeles County by the Office of Wellbeing and Human Companies (HHS). He mentioned that a organization named Bloom Energy was repairing the gear. “Rather than lamenting about it, alternatively than complaining about it, fairly than pointing fingers, fairly than producing headlines in buy to produce more worry and stress, we bought a automobile and a truck,” Newsom claimed right after touring Bloom Energy’s ventilator refurbishing web-site in Sunnyvale, Calif. “And we experienced individuals 170 introduced right here to this facility at 8 a.m. this morning, and they are pretty basically doing work on individuals ventilators proper now.” HHS did not instantly return a request for comment from The Hill. Newsom mentioned that he to start with uncovered of the challenges with the ventilators right after traveling to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti very last 7 days. The governor’s office environment claimed in a statement Saturday that California had 7,500 ventilators during its hospital techniques before the COVID-19 outbreak. The point out has included extra than 4,200 because, while about 1,000 have desired to be preset.  Bloom Electrical power was expected to refurbish around 200 ventilators by Saturday, and the defective ventilators Los Angeles County received are set to be returned to by Monday, Newsom extra.

By Eric Bradner, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump has lashed out at several Democratic governors who are responding to the coronavirus crisis, but his harshest words have been reserved for Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer. Trump said Thursday he had a "big problem" with the "young, a woman governor" in Michigan, complaining that "all she does is sit there and blame the federal government." On Friday, he said that he told Vice President Mike Pence, "don't call the woman in Michigan," and later referred to her as "Gretchen 'Half' Whitmer" in a tweet and said she is "way in over her head" and "doesn't have a clue." Those attacks -- and her direct response to them -- have thrust the first-term governor further into the national spotlight as she manages her state's efforts to slow the pandemic's spread, which includes seeking assistance from the Trump administration. Whitmer now finds herself among other Democratic governors, like Washington state's Jay Inslee and New York's Andrew Cuomo, who are navigating the deepening public health crisis in their states while also confronting the President's demand for public praise and appreciation. Whitmer responded to Trump's Thursday attacks in a tweet that included a hand-waving emoji, writing, "Hi, my name is Gretchen Whitmer, and that governor is me." "I've asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits. You said you stand with Michigan -- prove it," she wrote. Whitmer, 48, is popular in Michigan where she won the 2018 governor's race by 9.5 percentage points. She has emerged as a rising voice within the Democratic Party, delivering the State of the Union response this year, and is widely considered to be on former Vice President Joe Biden's list of potential running mates (Whitmer has said she will not be the pick). There are political ramifications for Trump making her a target: She is a co-chair of Biden's presidential campaign and oversees a state that was key to the President's victory in 2016 and will be a major battleground in 2020. Biden defended Whitmer in a statement on Friday, saying, Trump could "learn a thing or two from Governor Whitmer -- speed matters, details matter, and people matter."

By Dailymail.com Reporter

Government officials across the United States are using cellphones of millions in the country to get a better understanding of how the virus is spreading. The federal government through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments have started reviewing data about the presence and movement of people from certain geographic areas using cellphone data. The data comes from the mobile advertising industry, people familiar with the matter explained to the Wall Street Journal.  Approximately 500 cities could eventually be monitored in a portal that will be accessible by federal, state and local officials to help implement epidemic response. Void from the data is sensitive data like cellphone user's name. The goal of the portal would be to help officials learn how COVID-19 is spreading across the United States. It would show which destinations are still being frequented by large crowds that could help spread the coronavirus, people familiar with the matter explained. For instance, one source shared that researchers learned that a huge number of New Yorkers had been visiting Brooklyn's Prospect Part and handed the information over to authorities. Parks have been posted with advisory warnings but they have not been closed across the city. The data would also potentially show how much the general public is complying with stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, according to experts familiar with the matter.

By Billy Bambrough

It's been an historic week for the U.S. with president Donald Trump signing a record $2.2 trillion coronavirus-induced emergency stimulus package. The massive cross-party rescue deal is designed to help Americans and businesses cope with the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. dollar has taken a beating, however, dropping almost 4% against a basket of currencies this week—its biggest weekly loss since the height of the global financial crisis over 10 years ago. This week's losses come on the back of the dollar index's biggest weekly gain since the financial crisis, with the dollar surging as investors scrambled for the world’s most liquid currency amid crashing stock and debt markets. "In short-term, huge dollar demand because short-covering, but it won't last," Wall Street veteran and founder of Wyoming-based crypto bank Avanti, Caitlin Long, said via Twitter, adding she expects the U.S. Federal Reserve's balance sheet to top $10 trillion before the coronavirus crisis is over and predicting the dollar's eventual crash. On top the of the massive economic aid package, the Fed has been working hard to prop up plunging markets—with mixed results despite its shock-and-awe firepower. Potential risks of the combined cross-party rescue bill and Fed's biggest-ever bazooka include out-of-control inflation, the dollar's displacement as the world's funding currency, and the complete destabilization of the U.S. financial system. The Fed has pumped over $1 trillion to the system in recent weeks, with its chair Jerome Powell promising never before seen levels of money printing and so-called quantitative easing to infinity through an unlimited bond-buying program.

The administration says it won’t provide documentation for audits into $500 billion in corporate bailout funds.
By Anya van Wagtendonk

President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent. In a statement released early Friday evening, Trump announced that he had signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, a relief package aimed at mitigating some of the economic fallout caused by efforts to allay the spread of Covid-19. That bill also establishes a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the Treasury Department to audit and investigate half a trillion dollars in loans for large businesses. In his signing statement, Trump said that this provision raises “constitutional concerns,” adding that his administration would not comply with such an official’s request for documents. “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause,” part of Article II Section 3 of the Constitution that states a sitting president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” This seems to suggest the administration believes it is the president’s duty and not that of an inspector general to ensure the funds are distributed as the law intends. The special inspector general, as authorized within the bill, would be able to request information from government agencies and report on failures to comply with those information requests. In his signing statement, Trump essentially stated that he will not let such reports reach Congress without his approval, which many fear directly undermines the provision’s goal of maintaining transparency in how that fund is handled.

By Lauren Hirsch

President Donald Trump on Friday wrote in a signing statement accompanying the $2 trillion stimulus bill that he believes the inspector general overseeing a $500 billion relief fund for businesses will not have as much regulatory power as Democrats had sought. The bill includes a $500 billion fund that companies, such as the struggling airlines, can tap to support their business. The fund is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. In original drafts of the Republican Senate bill, Mnuchin had wide discretion in overseeing that money. After criticisms from Democrats, Republicans agreed to add on a congressional oversight committee and Inspector General as added control measures. The language gives the Inspector General power to report back to Congress information including the nature of the loan and its recipients. It has the power to make informational requests from other agencies “to extent practicable and not in contravention of any existing law.” It is required to let Congress know if those requests are blocked. Trump, though, said Friday he believes the Inspector General needs his permission in order to make such reports to Congress. “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [the Inspector General] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision,” he wrote in a signing statement. A signing statement indicate how the president intends to interpret a law. Oversight of that $500 billion fund was one of the last major sticking points in Senate negotiations, CNBC previously reported. Senate Democrats cheered the ultimately agreed-upon language as a victory. They were wary of repeating the mistakes of the bank bailout after the financial crisis, in which Democrats were criticized for allowing bank executives to reward themselves with bonuses after receiving federal money. “The president’s statement is indicative of the difference between Democrats and Republicans when it came to this bill,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Friday about the language. “It’s not a surprise to anyone,” she said of Trump’s signing language. “But Congress will exercise its oversight — and we will have our panel appointed by the House to, in real-time, make sure we know where those funds are being expended.”

By Suzanne Smalley

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, says that Trump administration officials declined an offer of early congressional funding assistance that he and other senators made on Feb. 5 during a meeting to discuss the coronavirus. The officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, said they “didn’t need emergency funding, that they would be able to handle it within existing appropriations,” Murphy recalled in an interview with Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast. “What an awful, horrible catastrophic mistake that was,” Murphy said. On Feb. 5, Murphy tweeted: “Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom line: they aren't taking this seriously enough. Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now.” Murphy told Yahoo News that the funding he and other congressional leaders wanted to allocate nearly two months ago would have paid for essential preventative measures, including hiring local screening and testing staff, researching a vaccine and treatments and the stockpiling of needed medical supplies. “The consequences of that in Connecticut is that we're going to test less people today than we tested yesterday,” Murphy told “Skullduggery” hosts Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman. “And that means that there are lots of people who are positive who are not going to know it, who are then going to be in contact with other people, who are going to spread the disease.”

Conservatives, business groups and politicians urge president to get economy going as outbreak continues
By Victoria Bekiempis

As Donald Trump has pushed his shock policy reversal to try to soon get many Americans to go back to work, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he has been supported by a wide array of rightwing figures, business groups and conservative politicians. Some of those conservatives have taken the president’s concerns over the dire health of the US economy a step further – suggesting that the inevitable deaths of many people to the virus might be an acceptable cost of doing business in the face of a shocking economic collapse that saw more than 3 million new people register for unemployment. “My message: let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Dan Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor, said last week on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. “Don’t sacrifice the country,” Patrick continued. Patrick even suggested many older Americans would happily risk their lives for the sake of the economy. “No one reached out to me and said: ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick also said. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in. That doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that, I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me.” The extreme rightwing media figure Glenn Beck shared the sentiment. “I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working, even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country. ’Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country,” Beck said on an episode of his program on Blaze TV. The Republican Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson also questioned whether the economic impact of physical distancing was worth it, appearing to rate the coronavirus threat as less than fatal car accidents. “We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.” Johnson also said “getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4% of our population, [and] I think probably far less”.

"General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio," the president tweeted
By Igor Derysh

President Donald Trump invoked the the Defense Production Act to force General Motors to produce ventilators despite previously insisting that doing so was not necessary. Trump recently touted offers from GM and Ford to voluntarily help build the critical and necessary hospital equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak despite reports that it would take months for them to do so. But he reportedly reversed course on the federal legislation, which requires companies to manufacture critical equipment for the government, after GM asked for $1 billion to start producing ventilators. "As usual with 'this' General Motors, things just never seem to work out," Trump tweeted on Friday. "They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, 'very quickly'. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with [GM CEO] Mary [Barra]. Invoke 'P'" "Invoke 'P' means Defense Production Act!" he added 15 minutes later. "General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!" he said. "FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!" Trump's reversal came after governors around the country spent weeks calling on the president to invoke the Defense Production Act in order to help states combat equipment shortages. "Not to exercise that power is inexplicable to me," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier this week. Trump previously insisted that it was unnecessary to invoke the Defense Production Act, because companies had agreed to help voluntarily. "The Defense Production Act is in full force, but haven't had to use it because no one has said NO!" he said on Monday.

By Tara Subramaniam and Daniel Dale, CNN

(CNN) Inaccuracies about the stock market. Baffling statements about a closed GM plant. Stating you can call coronavirus the flu. President Donald Trump on Friday continued the false and misleading claims that have become a part of White House briefings on coronavirus, wrapping up a week in which the number of confirmed cases across the country topped 100,000. We are still combing through the transcript, but here is the developing roundup:

The real state of the stock market 22 days ago
Trump claimed that 22 days ago, "everything was going beautifully" before the US got hit by what he calls "the invisible enemy." He said, "22 days ago we had the greatest economy in the world, everything was going beautifully, the stock market hit an all-time high"

Facts First: While the market had previously set all-time records under Trump, on March 5, 22 days before Trump's comments, the Dow dropped 3.6% or 970 points, then its fifth-worst single-day point drop on record, adding to a 3,000-point drop since its peak on February 12. That day's fall in the Dow followed drops of 1,000 points and 800 points earlier that week.

How unforeseen the coronavirus crisis was
Multiple times throughout Friday's press briefing, the President claimed the current situation was unprecedented and unforeseen. According to Trump, "nobody was prepared for this," not even past presidents. He added, "In all fairness to all of the former presidents, none of them ever thought a thing like this could happen."

Facts First: This is false. The US intelligence community and public health experts had warned for years that the country was at risk from a pandemic. Experts had also warned that the country would face shortages of critical medical equipment, such as ventilators, if a pandemic occurred.
You can read a full fact check here about some of the pandemic warnings. You can read a full fact check here about warnings about the need for additional ventilators in a pandemic.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) As America became the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the escalating national crisis. His comments at Thursday's afternoon briefing underscored the growing duality of the fight: While the President is telling a tale of great successes, of a government powerfully mobilizing, front-line health care workers are facing gruesome scenes in hospitals in a growing number of hot spots. Later, ignoring traditional codes of the presidency at a time of trial, the President lashed out in a TV interview at Democratic governors channeling appeals from overwhelmed health care workers in their home states as Covid-19 exacts an increasing toll. And he appeared set on contradicting the advice of one of his top task force members, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who told CNN that only the virus can set the timeline for reopening the country. All the evidence of the virus's advance, seen in rising death tolls and infection figures, suggests the situation is getting worse and that normal life could be weeks or months away. Once, Trump minimized the looming impact of the crisis. Now his assessments conflict with the reality of its deadly march. On Thursday, a day that saw more reported deaths from Covid-19 than ever before in the United States -- Trump bizarrely turned the focus to what he said was a far lower mortality rate than he had expected. A week ago, there were a total of 8,800 confirmed infections in the United States and 149 deaths. On Thursday, that figure reached more than 82,000 with nearly 1,200 deaths. Were those figures the result of a hurricane or a terrorist attack, their human toll would be more obvious, and it would be more difficult for the President to spin the situation. But as people die unseen in hospital wards and emergency rooms, the emotional impact of the accelerating tragedy is less obvious than it would be during a natural disaster. Still, the weight of the data is beginning to tell its own story. The US overtook China on Thursday as the nation with the most confirmed infections. Yet in a White House news conference, Trump expressed hopes that the nightmare would not last "much longer."

by Jacob Pramuk

President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday, as Washington tries to blunt economic destruction from the pandemic ripping through the United States. The House earlier passed the stimulus package, believed to be the largest in U.S. history, by voice vote, which simply measures if more lawmakers shout for “aye” or “nay” on whether to support it. The chamber scrambled Friday to block an effort to delay its passage. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tried to force a full yes or no vote on the measure, which could have pushed back its approval by hours. Irritated House members rushed back to Washington in cars and near-empty planes to head off his effort, and some eviscerated him for risking their safety. Trump called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” and said he should be booted out of the Republican Party. The plan, which includes one-time payments to individuals, strengthened unemployment insurance, additional health-care funding and loans and grants to businesses to deter layoffs, got through the Senate unanimously on Wednesday night. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had described the bill “as mitigation” of the pandemic’s destruction, predicting Congress will draft more plans to aid in “recovery.”

By Christina Wilkie, Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump said Friday that he instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to reach out to governors who aren’t “appreciative” of his administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in their states. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said of those state leaders. “I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps [of Engineers], they’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right,” Trump told reporters at a daily press briefing at the White House. The president mentioned Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, both Democrats who have been critical of the White House’s actions to combat the deadly pandemic. Trump said that Pence “calls all the governors. And I tell him, I’m a different type of person, and I say, ’Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him.” “Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens,” Trump also said he told Pence, who leads the U.S. response to the coronavirus.

By Jeffery Martin

President Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday evening that he believes that the coronavirus battle will not require the number of medical equipment pieces that have been requested by some states. Trump has been the subject of criticism over the distribution of medical equipment from federal stockpiles, with some state governors saying they do not have enough ventilators available to properly care for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. "FEMA says, 'we're sending 400 ventilators," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a Wednesday news conference. "Really? What am I going to do with 40 ventilators when I need 30,000?" Newsweek reached out to Governor Cuomo's office for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication. "I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said for some areas are just bigger than they're going to be," Trump said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, at a major hospital sometimes they'll have two ventilators. All of a sudden they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'" "Look, it's a very bad situation," the president continued. "We haven't seen anything like it. But the end result is we gotta get back to work and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country."

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) As America became the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the escalating national crisis. His comments at Thursday's afternoon briefing underscored the growing duality of the fight: While the President is telling a tale of great successes, of a government powerfully mobilizing, front-line health care workers are facing gruesome scenes in hospitals in a growing number of hot spots. Later, ignoring traditional codes of the presidency at a time of trial, the President lashed out in a TV interview at Democratic governors channeling appeals from overwhelmed health care workers in their home states as Covid-19 exacts an increasing toll. And he appeared set on contradicting the advice of one of his top task force members, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who told CNN that only the virus can set the timeline for reopening the country. All the evidence of the virus's advance, seen in rising death tolls and infection figures, suggests the situation is getting worse and that normal life could be weeks or months away. Once, Trump minimized the looming impact of the crisis. Now his assessments conflict with the reality of its deadly march. On Thursday, a day that saw more reported deaths from Covid-19 than ever before in the United States -- Trump bizarrely turned the focus to what he said was a far lower mortality rate than he had expected. A week ago, there were a total of 8,800 confirmed infections in the United States and 149 deaths. On Thursday, that figure reached more than 82,000 with nearly 1,200 deaths. Were those figures the result of a hurricane or a terrorist attack, their human toll would be more obvious, and it would be more difficult for the President to spin the situation. But as people die unseen in hospital wards and emergency rooms, the emotional impact of the accelerating tragedy is less obvious than it would be during a natural disaster. Still, the weight of the data is beginning to tell its own story.

By Rebecca Beitsch

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws Thursday, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak. The temporary policy, for which EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.” Cynthia Giles, who headed EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, called it a moratorium on enforcing the nation's environmental laws and an abdication of EPA’s duty. “This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future. It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way 'caused' by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was,” she wrote in a statement to The Hill. “EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. In a 10-page letter to EPA earlier this week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) asked for a suspension of rules that require repairing leaky equipment as well as monitoring to make sure pollution doesn’t seep into nearby water. Other industries had also asked to ignite the “force majeure” clauses of any legal settlements they had signed with EPA, allowing for an extension on deadlines to meet various environmental goals in the face of unforeseen circumstances. But Giles and others say the memo signed Thursday goes beyond that request, giving industries board authority to pollute with little overnight from the agency.

By Robert Farley

Hitting back at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pleas for the federal government to provide more ventilators, President Donald Trump misleadingly claimed Cuomo rejected a 2015 recommendation to purchase 15,000 ventilators and instead “established death panels” and “lotteries.” Contrary to the president’s claim, a task force in 2015 did not make a recommendation about purchasing more ventilators. The report — “Ventilator Allocation Guidelines” — provided guidelines for New York hospitals on how they should decide which patients get ventilators in the event of a severe influenza pandemic. But contrary to the president’s claim, the task force did not make a recommendation about purchasing more ventilators. That was outside the scope of the report, Valerie Gutmann Koch, the former senior attorney and special consultant to the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, told us via email. Trump “obviously didn’t read the document he’s citing,” Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Cuomo, said in a statement to The Hill. “This was a 5 year old advisory task force report, which never recommended the State procure ventilators — it merely referenced that New York wouldn’t be equipped with enough ventilators for a 1918 flu pandemic. No one is, including Mr. Trump.”

by Greg Evans in news

A new advert which uses Donald Trump's own words about the coronavirus outbreak has angered the president's campaign team so much that they are trying to get it banned. The ad, which has been made by anti-Trump super PAC called Priorities USA focuses on how slowly the president reacted to the pandemic and the number of lives they believe he has put at risk due to his own negligence. The 30-second advert features a simple graph which starts on January 20 and slowly shows how many confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the US since then, soundtracked by a series of Trump quotes, claiming that his administration has everything under control and that the crisis would be over shortly. Of course, this hasn't been the case at all and the US now has more than 54,000 cases since the virus arrived in the country, leaving Trump with easily the biggest domestic test of his entire presidency. This scathing new advert, which was released on Monday, has now been viewed more than 4 million times on Twitter and shared by a number high profile accounts.

'Canada is strongly opposed to this US proposal and we’ve made that very clear to our US counterparts'
By Oliver O'Connell

White House officials are discussing the possible deployment of troops to the Canadian border. The potential move is driven by US fears about the integrity of the border during the coronavirus pandemic and fears that people carrying the virus may enter the country illegally. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that he is aware of the discussions during his daily briefing. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters that Canadian ministers and diplomats have made it clear that this is not a plan Canada supports. “Canada is strongly opposed to this US proposal and we’ve made that very clear to our US counterparts,” she said. Ms Freeland confirmed that Canadian officials learned of the proposal a few days ago. In his press conference, Mr Trudeau said “Canada and the US have the longest unmilitarised border in the world, and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way.”

The CDC fumbled its communication with public health officials and underestimated the threat of the coronavirus even as it gained a foothold in the United States, according to hundreds of pages of documents ProPublica obtained.
by Caroline Chen, Marshall Allen and Lexi Churchill

On Feb. 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an email with what the author described as an “URGENT” call for help. The agency was struggling with one of its most important duties: keeping track of Americans suspected of having the novel coronavirus. It had “an ongoing issue” with organizing — and sometimes flat-out losing — forms sent by local agencies about people thought to be infected. The email listed job postings for people who could track or retrieve this paperwork. “Help needed urgently,” the CDC wrote. This email is among hundreds of pages of correspondence between federal and state public health officials obtained by ProPublica through a records request in Nevada. During the period in which the correspondence was written, from January to early March, health officials were trying to stay ahead of the coronavirus outbreak underway in China. By mid-February, when the CDC job postings email went out, the virus had a toehold in the United States, where there were already 15 confirmed cases. In another two weeks, the first case of community transmission would be reported in California, followed shortly by cases in Washington. The documents — mostly emails — provide a behind-the-scenes peek into the messy early stages of the U.S. response to the coronavirus, revealing an antiquated public health system trying to adapt on the fly. What comes through clearly is confusion, as the CDC underestimated the threat from the virus and stumbled in communicating to local public health officials what should be done.

By Ben Mathis-Lilley

The Donald Trump–Fox News feedback loop has been on a terrifying kick this week about how you can’t make the “cure” for the coronavirus pandemic (staying home so you don’t get infected/infect others with a deadly respiratory virus) worse than the disease itself, because having too many people at home harms “the economy,” and so everyone needs to “get back to work” at the end of a 15-day social distancing period, which Trump claims began last week. This is such a shortsighted reading of what’s good for “the economy” that even hard-line Republicans are disagreeing with it. Let’s rank those disagreements from the most to least polite.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) Multiple health care workers on Thursday debunked a statement from a White House adviser that the media is overstating the need for personal protective equipment in hospitals amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Their comments come after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN earlier Thursday the media should "not sensationalize this crisis" when asked about shortages in personal protective equipment. "So please, as you report this crisis, please keep in mind the extent that that is done makes our job here harder," Navarro told CNN's Brianna Keilar. "And it makes the health care professional job harder." Yet health care professionals repeatedly refuted those comments, stressing the dire need for personal protective equipment for front-line medical staff as the outbreak spreads. Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper later Thursday, Dr. Lisa Dabby, an emergency medicine physician, said, "We appreciate the media's support." "There really needs to be a push right now for production of PPE. We really need to keep our health care workers, our front line, safe and healthy," she said. "People need to realize when they get sick they're going to want somebody to take care of them." "People need know what's happening behind the scenes," she added. Those comments were echoed by Dr. James Phillips, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University and CNN medical analyst, who told Tapper there's "a very significant need across the country" for personal protective equipment. "It's important for the American public to understand, and for the folks in politics to understand as well that we are already receiving guidance from the CDC on how to reuse our PPE. That is a deviation from the standard of care. Normally in what we would call conventional care, we would wear a different mask for every single patient," he said.

CBS This Morning

Economics and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized President Trump for his plan to open the country in time for Easter. Mr. Trump's own top medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned against arbitrary deadlines for resuming normal activities. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is accusing the media of wanting to keep the country shut down in order to hurt his re-election chances. Paula Reid reports on the discord within the White House.

By Ted Johnson - Deadline

An NPR station in Seattle said that it no longer will carry live coverage of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus briefings because of concerns that they feature unchecked misleading or false information. “KUOW is monitoring White House briefings for the latest news on the coronavirus — and we will continue to share all news relevant to Washington State with our listeners,” the station tweeted. “However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”

However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time. (2) — KUOW Public Radio (@KUOW) March 24, 2020

Most recently, Trump has called for lifting of social distancing guidelines in the near future, perhaps by Easter, even though public health professionals are still grappling with the spread of the virus. He also has made false claims about the availability of tests, the timeline for finding a vaccine and the potential benefits of a treatment that includes the ingredient chloroquine. While there is some promising study of its potential use, it has not it has not been approved for treatment. NBC News reported on one Arizona man who died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, and his wife said that they learned about its use after watching a briefing.

By Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo

Over the course of a day, President Trump appeared in a virtual Fox News Town Hall, in a Fox News interview and in the daily coronavirus task force briefing. During the hours before the camera, he mused about packed churches on Easter Sunday, seeking to jawbone the country back to work despite the advice of medical professionals who fear it may be too early to return to normalcy to halt the spread of the virus. Here’s a guide to 11 of Trump’s claims on March 24, most of which were false or misleading. “I had to make a decision: Do I stop people from China and specifically that area, but from China to come into the country? And everybody was against it. Almost everybody, I would say, was just absolutely against it. We’ve never done it before. We never made a decision like that. … It was instinct.” Trump’s recollection — that his “instinct” led him to take action over the advice of “everybody” — conflicts with reporting on the decision-making that led to the administration, effective Feb. 3, to bar foreigners (with many exemptions) from traveling to the United States from China. The New York Times reported the plan was initially recommended by staff from the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Department, and they were soon joined by public health experts. Trump was reluctant at first when the idea was presented to him.

By Philip Ewing

The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other regime heavies on Thursday in connection with alleged narcoterrorism and drug smuggling into the United States. Attorney General William Barr announced the charges at the Justice Department in Washington with some officials in attendance and others connected via teleconference — precautions taken because of the coronavirus pandemic. The charges involve 15 defendants, including Maduro and other political and military leaders in Venezuela. Venezuela is accused of permitting Colombians linked with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — the People's Army, known by its Spanish initials, FARC — to use its airspace to fly cocaine north through Central America to destinations in North America, Barr said. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said the scheme between the Colombians and Venezuelans had been operating for some two decades and represented a deliberate strategy by Maduro's regime to "flood the United States with cocaine." The announcement of the charges followed months of pressure by President Trump's administration on Maduro's regime, which the United States considers illegitimate following an election deemed unfair by many world powers. Washington has supported alternative political leaders in Caracas against Maduro and Trump invited the man he recognizes as Venezuela's leader, Juan Guaidó, to the State of the Union address this year.

The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration.

The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago. “Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?” the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. “If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?” The strategies are among hundreds of tactics and key policy decisions laid out in a 69-page National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics, which POLITICO is detailing for the first time. Other recommendations include that the government move swiftly to fully detect potential outbreaks, secure supplemental funding and consider invoking the Defense Production Act — all steps in which the Trump administration lagged behind the timeline laid out in the playbook. “Each section of this playbook includes specific questions that should be asked and decisions that should be made at multiple levels” within the national security apparatus, the playbook urges, repeatedly advising officials to question the numbers on viral spread, ensure appropriate diagnostic capacity and check on the U.S. stockpile of emergency resources. The playbook also stresses the significant responsibility facing the White House to contain risks of potential pandemics, a stark contrast with the Trump administration’s delays in deploying an all-of-government response and President Donald Trump's recent signals that he might roll back public health recommendations. “The U.S. government will use all powers at its disposal to prevent, slow or mitigate the spread of an emerging infectious disease threat,” according to the playbook’s built-in “assumptions” about fighting future threats. “The American public will look to the U.S. government for action when multi-state or other significant events occur.” The guide further calls for a “unified message” on the federal response, in order to best manage the American public's questions and concerns. “Early coordination of risk communications through a single federal spokesperson is critical,” the playbook urges. However, the U.S. response to coronavirus has featured a rotating cast of spokespeople and conflicting messages; Trump already is discussing loosening government recommendations on coronavirus in order to “open” the economy by Easter, despite the objections of public health advisers.

By John Bowden

The White House has reportedly deviated from guidelines set out in a 2016 National Security Council (NSC) memo detailing the U.S. response to a global disease outbreak. The 69-page document, obtained by Politico, lays out step-by-step responses to a pandemic, such as implementing directives on workplace safety and procurement of safety equipment. The Trump administration has failed to follow multiple recommendations, Politico noted, and is only just now taking some steps directed for the early days of the coronavirus's spread. Under the NSC timeline, the Trump administration in late January should have begun issuing directives aimed at "coordination of workforce protection activities including ... [personal protective equipment] determination, procurement and deployment," according to the report. Such actions have only been recently implemented. A request for congressional funding to combat the pandemic, the timeline further dictates, should have taken place a month before it happened. President Trump signed into law two bills responding to the coronavirus epidemic in March and is expected to sign a third aimed at providing an economic stimulus in the days ahead. “We recommend early budget and financial analysis of various response scenarios and an early decision to request supplemental funding from Congress, if needed,” the timelines states. However, Congress and the administration failed to act for most of February, more than a month after the first case was confirmed in the U.S., Politico noted.

Heather Swift, the deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at DHS, was moved to a senior post at the National Endowment for the Arts.

The White House removed a top public affairs official at the Department of Homeland Security in a move that shocked many in the department as it takes a lead role in handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to two former senior DHS officials familiar with the matter. Heather Swift, who was DHS’ deputy assistant secretary of public affairs, was abruptly pushed out of her position on Friday after the Presidential Personnel Office raised questions about her loyalty to President Donald Trump, said one of the former DHS officials. The personnel office may have discovered some old social media posts that officials there did not like, this person said, though POLITICO was unable to find any examples of posts the Trump administration might find objectionable. Swift, who has not yet left the department, is moving to a top communications job at the National Endowment for the Arts, a detour well outside the administration’s power corridors. The transfer represents a fresh blow to Swift’s career aspirations: Several months ago, after serving for a few months in an acting capacity as the top public affairs official at DHS, she angled for that job permanently — only to be disappointed when she was not promoted, according to a Trump administration official. The position instead went to Dirk Vande Beek, a veteran communications strategist who came from the Department of Energy and also worked on the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. Since taking over PPO, 29-year-old John McEntee has asked Cabinet agencies to probe the records of political appointees and ferret out any who might show signs of disloyalty to the president. McEntee, a former college quarterback known for his trick plays and a longtime Trump favorite, has also come under fire within the administration for recently hiring three college seniors for sensitive jobs.

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