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By Lauren Fruen For Dailymail.com

Donald Trump and his administration are said to have 'ignored' the advice of the National Security Council's 2016 pandemic 'playbook'. The 69 page guide used a color-coded step-by-step plan to urge buying masks early on, told government to adopt a 'unified message' and instructed them to question testing capabilities, Politico reports. A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response, an Associated Press review found. Doctors and nurses are now so desperate for personal protective equipment amid the viral pandemic that they’ve turned to the public for help in making them, saying do-it-yourself face masks are better than nothing.  And the president has spent the last week going against the advice of medical experts and suggesting the lockdown could be lifted as soon as Easter. Trump told Fox News: 'Nobody ever expected a thing like this.' A spokesman for the NSC told Politico: 'We are aware of the document, although it’s quite dated and has been superseded by strategic and operational biodefense policies published since. 'The plan we are executing now is a better fit, more detailed, and applies the relevant lessons learned from the playbook and the most recent Ebola epidemic in the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] to COVID-19.' A health department spokesperson said the current strategy is dictated by more recent guides. But the handbook asks early one: 'Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?' It adds: 'Early coordination of risk communications through a single federal spokesperson is critical. 'We recommend early budget and financial analysis of various response scenarios and an early decision to request supplemental funding from Congress, if needed. 'What is our level of confidence on the case detection rate? Is diagnostic capacity keeping up?' It emerged earlier this month that President Trump ignored warnings from US intelligence agencies about the threat of a coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in The Washington Post. One intelligence official and several Trump Administration officials spoke to the publication on the condition of anonymity, claiming the President downplayed the COVID-19 threat in spite of growing anxiety from aides and members of his own cabinet throughout January and February. 'Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it,' one official stated, adding: 'The system was blinking red.' Officials were first alerted to reports about cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China on January 3, after a director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke with Chinese colleagues.  'Ominous, classified warnings' purportedly put together by the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence began to increase over the course of the month. 'There was obviously a lot of chatter in January,' one of the officials told The Post.

The president seemed restrained throughout most of his latest White House briefing on the coronavirus—until a reporter dared to question his plan to reopen the economy by Easter.
By Hunter Woodall - Politics Reporter

President Donald Trump lashed out at a reporter Wednesday when pressed on whether his hope to have the country “opened up” by Easter amid the coronavirus pandemic has more to do with politics than public health. “The media would like to see me do poorly in the election,” Trump said after being asked at a White House briefing to explain the basis for his plan to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions by Easter. Trump kept the criticism up when pressed further over the fact that experts have said following that timeline isn't prudent. “Just so you understand, are you ready? I think there are certain people that would like it not to open so quickly. I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls,” Trump said. He went on to claim there are people in the media who want a prolonged shutdown to happen as he pointed to two different reporters he accused of writing “fake news.” Before the heated exchange, much of the Wednesday briefing by the Coronavirus Task Force was focused on touting congressional efforts to pass large-scale legislation to help aid the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the president’s response to his Easter timeline being questioned stemmed from a presidential tweet he’d sent out earlier in the day. True to form, the president took to social media to complain, with no evidence, that reporters were the “dominant force” in the country trying to keep the country “closed as long as possible” so that it would hurt his re-election chances in November.

Any changes affecting constitutional guarantees afforded federal criminal defendants in the U.S. would ultimately be up to Congress.
By Bethania Palma

On March 21, 2020, the national politics news website Politico reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had drafted legislative proposals aimed at reducing the burden on the federal court system during the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic, but which would also result in incursions on the constitutional rights of defendants, if passed. According to the publication:

The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated. In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.” The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies “in a consistent manner.”

As often happens, the most salient aspect of this report was picked up and aggregated by various other websites, with attention-grabbing headlines like this one on the liberal-leaning site HillReporter: “Trump’s Justice Department Wants To Suspend Habeas Corpus.” The stories circulating online prompted readers to ask Snopes to verify whether the claim is true. It’s true DOJ has proposed legislation that would grant nationwide authority to federal judges to extend deadlines and pause or suspend statutes of limitation, which are essentially court-case deadlines that afford the accused speedy trials. The DOJ, which consists of federal litigators, is part of Republican President Donald Trump’s executive branch. However, per a DOJ statement, these proposed powers would not be conferred upon the executive branch. The proposal would apply to federal district judges and would expire with the end of the national emergency brought by the pandemic. Whether the proposal will be adopted is unknown, and it would have to clear a Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives first.

By Michelle Fay Cortez and Claire Che

Hydroxychloroquine, a medicine for malaria that President Donald Trump has touted as a treatment for coronavirus, was no more effective than conventional care, a small study found. The report published by the Journal of Zhejiang University in China showed that patients who got the medicine didn’t fight off the new coronavirus more often than those who did not get the medicine. The study involved just 30 patients. Of the 15 patients given the malaria drug, 13 tested negative for the coronavirus after a week of treatment. Of the 15 patients who didn’t get hydroxychloroquine, 14 tested negative for the virus. The results of the study weren’t statistically significant. Hydroxychloroquine, particularly when given with the antibiotic azithromycin, has received widespread attention following a controversial, small study of about 40 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in France. In that study, the drug appeared to help clear the virus from the bodies of 26 patients who were given the medication, based on samples taken from nasal swabs. Experts have criticized the design of the study, calling it interesting but far from definitive. Trump has said several times that he is confident the medicine will work. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence also touted the drug at a White House event. “Doctors can now prescribe chloroquine for that off-label purpose of dealing with the symptoms of coronavirus,” Pence said. “The president’s very optimistic.” Top scientists, including White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci, have called reports that hydroxychloroquine might work anecdotal, and said they need further study before the pill’s use is encouraged.

By Mike Calia

President Donald Trump’s businesses are barred from getting loans or investments under the new $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus deal, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The Trump Organization, which the president has not divested, is run by his two elder sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. The company controls several hotels, resorts and golf clubs, including Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. The resort closed last week, during its peak season. Lawmakers and the White House reached an agreement early Wednesday after days of tense, roller-coaster negotiations that added to uncertainty in markets. Democrats and other critics of the president were concerned that Trump’s businesses would receive bailout money because the tourism industry is one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus, which has spurred leaders to restrict travel and companies to cut capacity and close up shop. The measure will also ban businesses controlled by Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members and lawmakers from receiving the funds, according to details circulated by Schumer, D-N.Y. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said early Wednesday the chamber would vote on the bill later in the day. If approved by the Senate, the bill faces action in the Democratic-led House.

"It is insane and unacceptable," said Bernie Sanders. "We will not tolerate profiteering. Any treatment or vaccine must be made free for all."
by Julia Conley, staff writer

As healthcare providers across the U.S. desperately attempt to treat a rapidly growing number of patients with the coronavirus, a pharmaceutical company with ties to the Trump administration has been granted exclusive status for a drug it is developing to treat the illness—a potential windfall for the company that could put the medication out of reach for many Americans. As The Intercept reported Monday, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences "orphan" drug status for remdesivir, one of several drugs being tested as potential treatments for the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The designation is generally reserved for drugs that treat rare illnesses affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans—but companies can be eligible if the designation, as in this case of a rapidly spreading virus, is made before a disease spreads beyond that limit.

"It is insane and unacceptable that the Trump administration has given the Gilead pharmaceutical corporation a seven-year monopoly on a potential coronavirus treatment. We will not tolerate profiteering. Any treatment or vaccine must be made free for all." —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

About 40,000 Americans had contracted COVID-19 when the orphan status was granted to remdesivir Monday, and the disease is spreading faster in the U.S. than in other countries. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 51,000 Americans had confirmed cases. Having secured orphan drug status, Gilead Sciences can now profit exclusively off the drug for seven years and could block manufacturers from developing generic versions of the drug which might be more accessible to many patients. The company can set price controls on the drug as well as benefiting from grants and tax credits.

By Ben Yakas

During a Fox News town hall-style appearance this afternoon, Donald Trump shot back at Cuomo, claiming falsely that the governor "rejected buying recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for a pandemic, established death panels and lotteries instead."

   "He's supposed to be buying his own ventilators" -- Trump is now attacking Andrew Cuomo for saying the federal government should do more to provide New York with needed medical gear pic.twitter.com/qPGd6diWm1
   — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020

Trump appeared to be reading from an article published by Gateway Pundit, a website which MediaBiasFactCheck said has an "extreme right wing bias, [has promoted] conspiracies and numerous instances of publishing false (fake) news." The Washington Post has noted that Gateway Pundit "has a track record of stirring up controversy and generating clicks with a number of stories that quickly fell apart." As you can see below, Trump literally read the headline on air.     Pretty sure Trump just used Gateway Pundit as a source for his oppo hit on Gov. Cuomo during his Fox News coronavirus townhall.

   And my god this whole thing is wildly irresponsible. pic.twitter.com/9k69foHPk4
   — Lis Power (@LisPower1) March 24, 2020

A spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo pointed out that the "16,000 ventilators" number which was cited in the op-ed came "bizarrely" from a section in the 2015 report on ventilator guidance about what would happen if "an influenza pandemic on the scale of the 1918 pandemic" were to occur. "[Trump] obviously didn’t read the document he’s citing—this was a five 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," said Cuomo's director of communications ‎Dani Lever.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Anchors at Fox News failed to meaningfully challenge President Trump as he repeatedly misled the network's viewers during a virtual town hall on Tuesday, effectively surrendering its airwaves to the President as he even appeared to cite a conspiratorial outlet to argue his case. While Fox News is known as the home to such pro-Trump hosts as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, Tuesday's town hall was held by Bill Hemmer and Harris Faulkner, two anchors the network bills as members of a supposedly fearless and hard-hitting news division. But neither Hemmer, who is the chief breaking news anchor at Fox News and was broadcasting from the White House, nor Faulkner, who was broadcasting remotely from a studio, effectively pushed back on Trump during the two-hour event -— despite obvious misinformation peddled by the President. Trump, for instance, repeatedly compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu. "We've never closed down the country for the flu," the President said. Hemmer, however, repeatedly failed to note that Covid-19 has a significantly higher mortality rate than the seasonal flu. The World Health Organization has estimated the mortality rate to be 3.4%. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, has estimated that it is about 2%. Fauci even previously told Fox News, "The mortality for seasonal flu is 0.1% so even if [Covid-19] goes down to 1% it's still 10 times more fatal." At another point during the interview, Trump said he would "love" for the country to "open by Easter" on April 12. Instead of challenging Trump, and noting that his deadline is at odds with what many medical professionals and infectious disease experts have said, Faulkner replied, "Oh wow. OK." Hemmer added, "That would be a great American resurrection." After being criticized online for his failure to follow up, Hemmer came back from a commercial break and asked Trump the question again: "You'd like to be back to normal by Easter Sunday. That's 19 days from now. Is that true? Is that possible?"

By William Cummings - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would like to ease the guidelines urging non-essential businesses to close in order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus by Easter. But some Republican allies and his former Food and Drug Administration chief are warning him against such a move. A day earlier Trump said he fears the economic costs of the response could be more destructive than the virus itself. "This was a medical problem, we are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem," the president said. But former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the economy cannot succeed amid a rampant outbreak. "There’s a strong and understandable desire to return to better times and a functioning economy. But it should not be lost on anyone that there's no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as covid-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities," he tweeted. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., shared Gottlieb's post and echoed his concern. "There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus," she said. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally to the president urged him Monday not to "back off aggressive containment policies within the United States." Graham shared an article from The Washington Post about Trump's apparent embrace of the growing argument from conservative media personalities that the cure was becoming worse than the disease. "When it comes to how to fight #CoronavirusPandemic, I’m making my decisions based on healthcare professionals like Dr. Fauci and others, not political punditry," Graham tweeted.

By Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants the U.S. economy to “open” back up by Easter Sunday, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country accelerates. Easter is April 12, less than three weeks away. Trump’s remarks in a Fox News “virtual town hall” event at the White House came as more states imposed extreme measures, including shutting down businesses and ordering residents to stay home, to try to slow the spread of the disease. “We’re opening up this incredible country. Because we have to do that. I would love to have it open by Easter,” Trump said. “I would love to have that. It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’d love to make it an important day for this. I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go by Easter.” The number of people found to have the virus, which causes the COVID-19 illness, has increased significantly in recent days, as testing kits have been made more available to states. In the U.S., at least 46,500 cases and 590 deaths from the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

By JAMELLE BOUIE - The New York Times

First, President Donald Trump ignored the coronavirus, dismissing its threat to the public. Then briefly he took it somewhat seriously. He gave an address from the Oval Office, followed by one of the more sober-minded news conferences of his administration. A day later, he was back to his usual antics, attacking the press, amplifying propagandists and spreading misinformation. He has even promised a miracle cure. Now, as it becomes clear that this is not a momentary crisis — that the economy may have to come to a standstill to keep the disease from overwhelming the country — Trump appears ready to quit altogether, even if it costs thousands upon thousands of American lives. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” the president said (or screamed) on Twitter late Sunday night. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” Subsequent reporting from Jonathan Swan of Axios confirmed that the administration is looking to relax guidelines for public gatherings, in order to bring the economy back online: “Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals that there’s light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won’t be endless.” If the United States had the strict testing regime of South Korea or Taiwan — if it knew the full extent of the outbreak and had the resources to selectively quarantine the sick and the contagious — then you could imagine a return to normalcy in the next month or so, as most people began to go back to work and the vulnerable stayed home. But that is an unlikely, best- case scenario, more dream world than reality.

Putting the health of the stock market over that of millions of Americans is just one more pivot for this president. Hopefully he'll change his mind again.
By Robert Schlesinger

It hadn’t yet been a week since Donald Trump declared himself a “wartime president” before he was itching to declare victory and thus end his sacrifices and the nation’s. Of course, it had only been a spare seven days since Trump had pivoted from coronavirus optimist to steely-eyed epidemiological commander-in-chief: On March 15, the pandemic was “something that we have tremendous control over,” but less than 24 hours later he had declared it a “very bad” situation, requiring Americans not to gather in crowds of more than 10 people for at least 15 days. We were, after all, facing “the toughest enemy: the invisible enemy.” But war is a bummer and so is a crashing economy — especially if you have to hold news conferences instead of campaign rallies (while your sons are busy shuttering your own hotel businesses and your friends’ and donors’ stock portfolios tank). So by Monday, our wartime president was equivocating about the necessity of really fighting the enemy to its firm defeat: We’ll “reassess” at month’s end the restrictive social distancing measures that public health officials agree is the only remaining way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which he finally started only last week after blowing off most other preparations. “America will again and soon be open for business,” Trump said in his Monday briefing. “Very soon.” Explicitly cutting against health experts’ advice, Trump is embracing the chic new philosophy of the economic right: Death happens, live with it. “The cure can’t be worse than the disease, and we’re going to have to make some difficult tradeoffs,” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Monday. Later in the evening, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox's Tucker Carlson: “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 America loves for its children and grandchildren?' And if that is the exchange, I'm all in.” (How very “Logan’s Run” of him.) This might be Trump’s greatest pivot yet: turning the self-anointed pro-life party into one of death-tolerance. It’s true that all public policy involves some level of cost-benefit analysis, but few people really think Trump is capable of such nuance. Even if he were, how could we really analyze those costs? We haven’t taken the infection curve’s measure, let alone started to bend it. And the cure — social distancing — isn’t the real problem for the economy anyway: “The thing damaging our economy is a virus,” as Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, told The New York Times. “Everyone who is trying to stop that virus is working to limit the damage it does to our economy and help our eventual rebound.”

The Democratic super PAC went up with a new ad on coronavirus in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on Tuesday.

One of the Democratic Party's main 2020 super PACs is attacking President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak with new TV ads airing in four key swing states. The new ad from Priorities USA Action, which plans to spend $6 million on TV and digital ads condemning Trump’s response to Covid-19, began running in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida on Tuesday and features Trump quotes juxtaposed against a graph showing the number of positive coronavirus tests in America. At the end of the ad, footage plays of Trump saying, during a Rose Garden press conference at the White House, “I don’t take responsibility at all." The ad marks a new front in the political battle over government response to the coronavirus. There has been relatively little TV advertising on the pandemic so far, with some scattered ads showing up in the Kentucky Senate race and the West Virginia governor's race so far. In a statement, Priorities USA chairman Guy Cecil said Trump had "repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger."

By EJ Montini, Arizona Republic

Opinion: Trump touts the possibility of chloroquine, a malaria drug, to fight COVID-19, but it's not there yet. Don't try to treat yourself, as happened with a local couple. Let doctors do their work. President Donald Trump wants to provide Americans with the most optimist view possible at his press briefings. (Others might call it bizarre, even delusional.) Whatever you choose to believe, however, when it comes to medical information or drug treatment, do … not … listen to Trump. He is most definitely not a doctor. If fact, do not listen to anyone who isn’t one of the nationally recognized experts leading the COVID-19 fight, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Trump spoke about chloroquine
Now a Valley man has died and his wife is seriously ill because they tried to mix up their own anti-coronavirus medication based on some of the stuff they’d heard on TV. The couple are in their 60s. They took a chemical called chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. It was days after a news conference in which Trump spoke about chloroquine as possible a COVID-19 therapy. The woman, whose husband died, told NBC News they mixed their own concoction because, "We were afraid of getting sick.” She said within 20 minutes of taking the chemical they were "dizzy and hot." Then she said, "I started vomiting. My husband started developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand." Now, to the rest of us, she says, "Be careful and call your doctor. This is a heartache I'll never get over."

Treatment is not based on a 'feeling'
Trump has been talking about chloroquine. At a news briefing last week he said it showed “very, very encouraging early results” and said “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn tried to tamp down the president’s enthusiasm, saying the drug would be available “in the setting of a clinical trial — a large, pragmatic clinical trial — to actually gather that information and answer the question that needs to be answered and — asked and answered.” Trump said, “It may work, it may not work. I feel good about it. That’s all it is. Just a feeling.”

Dr Linda Quick was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who helped track, investigate and contain outbreaks.

Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the administration of US President Donald Trump eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing that was intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters news agency has learned. The American disease expert Dr Linda Quick, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China's disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases mounted, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping experts from the United States from entering the country to help. "It was heartbreaking to watch," said Bao-Ping Zhu, a Chinese-American who served in that role, which was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2007 and 2011. "If someone had been there, public health officials and governments across the world could have moved much faster." Zhu and the other sources said Quick was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicentre of outbreaks to help track, investigate and contain diseases. As an American CDC employee, they said, Quick was in an ideal position to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the US and the rest of the world on the coronavirus outbreak and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier. No other foreign disease experts were assigned to lead the programme after Quick left in July, according to the sources. Zhu said an embedded expert can often get word of outbreaks early, after forming close relationships with Chinese counterparts.

By Zack Budryk

Nigerian health officials on Monday issued a warning about chloroquine, an antimalarial drug President Trump has repeatedly touted as a possible coronavirus treatment, saying three people have overdosed on it. Lagos State Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu's press secretary, Gboyega Akosile, tweeted that the governor’s senior special assistant on health, Oreoluwa Finnih, had warned against "massive consumption" of the drug.

   Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov @jidesanwoolu's SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_Finnih
   She urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/Q4vLS79KUs
   — gboyega akosile (@gboyegaakosile) March 20, 2020

An official in Lagos told CNN that three residents of the capital had been hospitalized as of Monday. Trump’s comments on the drug have caused demand to surge in Lagos, CNN noted, which has in turn caused major price hikes. Kayode Fabunmi, a Lagos-based lawyer, told the network that he saw prices rise 400 percent in his area. "The pharmacist knew the market and was saying to every incoming customer, 'You know Donald Trump has said this thing cures coronavirus,' and the price kept changing,” he told CNN. Lagos’s state health commissioner, Akin Abayomi, said in a tweet that there is not "hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing COVID-19.”

"We do not have any hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing #COVID19" - @ProfAkinAbayomi@NigeriaGov@followlasg @jidesanwoolu @toluogunlesi @ogundamisi@NCDCgov@Fmohnigeria@NafdacAgency@WHONigeria pic.twitter.com/qtBAsAniTp
   — LSMOH (@LSMOH) March 21, 2020

Public health officials have warned Trump’s promotion of the drug, which has not been approved to treat the virus, could both prove ineffective for treatment and lead to insufficient supplies for those using it against malaria and other ailments.

By Stephanie Busari and Bukola Adebayo, CNN

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Health officials in Nigeria have issued a warning over chloroquine after they said three people in the country overdosed on the drug, in the wake of President Trump's comments about using it to treat coronavirus. A Lagos state official told CNN that three people were hospitalized in the city after taking the drug. Officials later issued a statement cautioning against using chloroquine for Covid-19 treatment.

   Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov @jidesanwoolu's SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_Finnih
   She urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/Q4vLS79KUs
   — gboyega akosile (@gboyegaakosile) March 20, 2020

US President Donald Trump claimed at a White House briefing last week that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the "very powerful" drug chloroquine to treat coronavirus. "It's shown very encouraging -- very, very encouraging early results. And we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that's where the FDA has been so great. They -- they've gone through the approval process; it's been approved. And they did it -- they took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we're going to be able to make that drug available by prescription or states," Trump said. He added: "Normally the FDA would take a long time to approve something like that, and it's -- it was approved very, very quickly and it's now approved, by prescription." However, the FDA after the briefing issued a statement saying it had not approved the drug for use against Covid-19 and is still studying its effectiveness against the disease.

Price hikes
Trump's endorsement of the drug led to a surge of interest among Nigerians keen to stock up on the medication, which has led to inevitable price hikes in the megacity of around 20 million inhabitants. One man told CNN that in a pharmacy near his home on the Lagos mainland, he witnessed the price rise by more than 400% in a matter of minutes. Kayode Fabunmi, a Lagos-based lawyer, said: "The pharmacist knew the market and was saying to every incoming customer, 'You know Donald Trump has said this thing cures coronavirus,' and the price kept changing. "The original price was 200 naira (around 50 cents), then it became 500 naira ($1.38) then it became 1,000 naira ($2.77) while I was there," he said. The Lagos State Health Ministry issued a brief statement saying there was no "hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in prevention or management of coronavirus infection."

The president, who has watched the economy plunge amid social distancing measures, says restrictions will be reassessed.
By Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger

President Trump on Sunday night said that the government would reassess the recommended period for keeping businesses shut and millions of workers at home after this week, amid millions of job losses caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr. Trump tweeted in all capital letters shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” Officials have said that the initial 15-day period for social distancing — limiting close contact between people by banning gatherings, closing schools and offices, encouraging remote work and urging people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another — is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, for which more than 30,000 people in the United States have tested positive. The 15-day period would end Monday. Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said in interviews that he believed that it would take several more weeks until people can start going about their lives in a more normal fashion. Other infectious disease experts suggest even harsher measures than social distancing are required to truly beat back the outbreaks in the United States. But at the White House, in recent days, there has been a growing sentiment that medical experts were allowed to set policy that has hurt the economy, and there has been a push to find ways to let people start returning to work. Some Republican lawmakers have also pleaded with the White House to find ways to restart the economy, as financial markets continue to slide and job losses for April could be in the millions. Vice President Mike Pence indicated on Sunday at a White House briefing about the virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue new guidelines on Monday, allowing some people who have been exposed to the coronavirus to resume working outside their homes if they wear masks.

Hasn't he done enough damage? Now Trump is giving fake medical advice from the White House, based on "a feeling"
By Dan Froomkin

"I've never seen anything like it," CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta told John King after another wildly abnormal White House news conference finally came to a close Friday. Gupta wasn't talking about Trump's livid rant at NBC reporter Peter Alexander, who had just asked him, basically, if he had any empathy for "Americans who are scared." (See Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake's excellent exegesis about that.) Gupta wasn't talking about Trump's transparently false hemming and hawing to the effect that he had invoked federal authority to mobilize industry to provide coronavirus resources. He hadn't. (New York Times reporters Katie Rogers, Maggie Haberman and Ana Swanson skewered that quite nicely.) What Gupta was talking about was Trump's bizarre, desperate huckster sales pitch for a drug that has no proven effects on the coronavirus, but that he insisted he has a good feeling about. He said it could be a "game-changer." Here's the video. Trump was at the White House podium peddling a fake cure for a virus that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in a way that would have gotten him kicked off the Home Shopping Network and potentially invited federal prosecution for false claims and fraud. Just the other day, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn wrote an op-ed for USA Today warning about people like that. And he tweeted: Lev Facher wrote for STAT News about Trump's "open disagreement with the nation's top infectious disease expert at a White House press briefing":

By Christina Zhao

Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker accused Donald Trump of failing to adequately address the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, after the president lashed out at him and other state leaders for criticizing the federal government's response to COVID-19. '[Pritzker], Governor of Illinois, and a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News @CNN & Concast (MSDNC), shouldn't be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!" Trump tweeted earlier today. In response, Pritzker urged the president to "get off Twitter & do your job." "You wasted precious months when you could've taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans," the Illinois governor tweeted. "You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat. Where were the tests when we needed them? Where's the PPE?" Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

   You wasted precious months when you could've taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans.
   You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat.
   Where were the tests when we needed them?
   Where's the PPE?
   Get off Twitter & do your job. https://t.co/WESJITCAwg
   — Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) March 22, 2020

As of Sunday, there were over 311,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 13,000 deaths recorded and at least 93,000 recoveries.

By Emma Newburger

President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard in California, New York and Washington state in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The administration emphasized that the deployment of guard members is not martial law. The state governors will retain command of the National Guard, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover all costs of the missions to respond to the virus outbreak. “We’re dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest,” the president said during a White House press briefing. As of Sunday morning, at least 7,300 National Guard members have been deployed to fight the virus in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. “The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stocks pile to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas,” Trump said. Supplies include gloves, hospital beds, N95 masks and gowns that will be delivered in the next couple days, the president said. California, New York and Washington state have been the most affected states amid the pandemic, which has escalated significantly in U.S. over the past week. New York has more than 15,000 confirmed cases, up more than 4,000 since Saturday, followed by Washington state at roughly 1,700 and California at about 1,500.


DETROIT (AP) — President Donald Trump is falsely claiming that automakers including GM, Ford and Tesla are pitching in to manufacture medical ventilators “fast” to help fill an acute U.S. shortage of the medical equipment for coronavirus patients. Ford and GM have yet to start, and it would take them months, if not longer, to begin production, if it’s even possible.

A look at the claim:
TRUMP: “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” — tweet Sunday. TRUMP, on addressing a shortage of ventilators: “General Motors, Ford, so many companies — I had three calls yesterday directly, without having to institute like: `You will do this’ — these companies are making them right now.” — briefing Saturday. THE FACTS: No automaker is anywhere close to making medical gear such as ventilators and remain months away — if not longer. Nor do the car companies need the president’s permission to move forward. Neither GM or Ford is building ventilators at present, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Friday that his company was “working on ventilators” but he didn’t specify how long it might take. His tweets also questioned the need and said it couldn’t be done immediately. Redirecting plants to make completely different products, in fact, will take a long time and a huge effort — possibly too long for some companies to help with medical gear shortages.

By Devan Cole and Chandelis Duster, CNN

Washington (CNN) The governor of the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic is calling on the federal government to nationalize the effort to acquire medical supplies at a time when state leaders say they've been forced to compete with one another for the desperately needed equipment. "I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators, the essential medical equipment that is going to make the difference between life and death," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference Sunday in Albany, New York. "It's not hard to make a mask or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) equipment or a gown, but you need companies to do it." The comments from Cuomo come as hospitals continue to sound the alarm on quickly dwindling medical supply stockpiles needed to treat patients as the number of Covid-19 cases surge around the country. State governments have faced having to buy medical supplies -- like masks, gowns and swabs -- themselves or wait for the federal government to fulfill requests submitted for more items. That response, governors say, has so far met a fraction of states' needs. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said in an interview earlier Sunday on CNN that if state officials find needed items on the market, they should purchase them and the agency would pay them back later. "The demand on these critical items is not only nationally, it's globally," Gaynor said. "So, we've been shipping. We shipped today, we're going to ship tomorrow. We're linking supplies, not only from the national stockpile, but from vendors and commercial donations." But Cuomo, a Democrat, said that because state officials have had to procure the medical supplies needed to treat patients, each state is essentially in competition with one another for the items. "Currently, when states are doing it, we are competing against other states. In some ways we're savaging other states. I'm trying to buy masks. I'm competing with California and Illinois and Florida," he said, adding that price gouging has become "a tremendous problem." Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker likened the situation to the "wild west," telling CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday that "this should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government." "We're competing against each other. We're competing against other countries. You know, it's a wild west, I would say, out there. And indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for (personal protective equipment), because of that competition," Pritzker, a Democrat, said on "State of the Union."

By Chantal Da Silva

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign team criticized President Donald Trump on Saturday, accusing the president of trying to "rewrite history" on his "failed" leadership on tackling the coronavirus outbreak. "In a moment of crisis like this, Americans need strong, steadfast leadership, and a President who [levels] with the American people about the challenges we face and the path forward," Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager and communications director of the "Biden for President" campaign team said. "But instead of taking charge and taking responsibility," Bedingfield said, "Trump has passed the buck and failed to lead, making us more vulnerable at a precarious moment when we most need a President who will be honest with the American people and focus on actual results." Bedingfield made the comments in a press release on Saturday, with Biden's campaign team asserting that Trump has repeatedly tried to "rewrite history and mislead Americans about his response to this crisis." Newsweek has contacted the White House for a response to the Biden campaign team's comments. Biden's campaign team specifically took aim at Trump's apparent efforts to lay blame for the global spread of COVID-19 on China's shoulders while dismissing claims made in a bombshell report from The Washington Post asserting that the president and top aides had ignored repeated warnings from the intelligence community about the new coronavirus. Citing one intelligence official and several Trump administration officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, The Post said many within the Trump administration were aware in January and February of the threat posed by COVID-19. "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it," one official said. "The system was blinking red," they added. According to The Post, officials were alerted to reports on cases of coronavirus in Wuhan, China, as early as January 3, after a director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had discussed the issue with counterparts in China. Despite repeated "ominous" warnings, however, Trump and his administration failed to act, the report says. Instead of responding to the claims made in newspaper's report, Trump, Biden's campaign team said, has tried "to evade responsibility for his negligent, late, disjointed and ineffective response to the coronavirus." "This time, Trump complained, 'I wish [China] could have told us earlier about it because we could have come up with a solution.' He also said, "if we had a two or three-month difference in time it would have been much better' — even though Trump wasted critical time ignoring U.S. government medical and intelligence experts and downplaying the risk of the coronavirus."

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker said Sunday that states have resorted to competing against one another for desperately needed medical supplies that are dwindling as hospitals work to treat coronavirus patients. "We're competing against each other. We're competing against other countries. You know, it's a wild west, I would say, out there. And indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for (personal protective equipment), because of that competition," Pritzker, a Democrat, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." "This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government." Top healthcare officials have said that the US does not have enough stockpiled medical equipment like masks, gowns and gloves to fulfill the anticipated need of the nation's health care system as the number of cases surge across the US. The burden has been placed on governors and state officials, with President Donald Trump saying last week that they should work with private companies to secure masks and other items. Days later, the President said the federal government had procured millions of masks and would be distributing them directly to the states, but officials so far have not provided details on the specific supplies or amounts sent. On Sunday, Trump praised the coronavirus response without providing specifics, saying in a tweet, "Working very well with States and our Nation's Governors.

" Meanwhile, dentists and other businesses have been donating equipment and supplies to hospitals that are reporting shortages while treating coronavirus patients. The Federal Emergency Management Agency -- which the White House has put in charge of coordinating the federal response -- is pulling supplies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national stockpile and working with private companies to ramp up production. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said in an interview earlier Sunday on the same program that if state officials find needed items on the market, they should purchase them and the agency would pay them back later. "The demand on these critical items is not only nationally, it's globally," Gaynor said. "So, we've been shipping. We shipped today, we're going to ship tomorrow. We're linking supplies, not only from the national stockpile, but from vendors and commercial donations. And it's just not about the federal government buying it. It's also about those hospitals and other facilities, governors that, if you find it on the market, go ahead and buy it. FEMA will reimburse you for it."

Despite invoking the Defense Production Act, the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force has acknowledged there are still critical equipment shortages.
by Rachel Olding, Wilbert L. Cooper

President Trump has not yet forced any companies to produce equipment to fight the novel coronavirus despite healthcare workers reporting nationwide shortages, he said at a Saturday briefing by the administration’s coronavirus task force. The president invoked the Defense Production Act on Thursday, a law that gives the government authority in emergencies to harness industrial production to help in a time of need. However, Trump said there had been no need to force companies to produce equipment yet because “we have so many companies making so many products” voluntarily. He said on Saturday that Hanes had retrofitted factories to make N95 masks and Pernod Ricard, an alcohol manufacturer, had switched facilities in three states into factories making hand sanitizer that will be distributed to New York and other states. Many of these products will be sold on the open market but the federal government will not bid against states, Trump said. “We have the Act to use in case we need it. But we have so many things being made… They’ve just stepped up... We have never never seen anything like that,” he said. “They are volunteering.” The picture has been much different on the frontline. Healthcare workers have told The Daily Beast that they are reusing single-use gear and fashioning new equipment out of protective material because of extreme shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals. Some hospitals are rationing gear at levels they have never seen.

Ocasio-Cortez says the president needs to act.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urged President Donald Trump on Sunday to order the emergency production of medical supplies, saying his reluctance to do so would “cost lives” as the New York medical system becomes overwhelmed. “The fact that the president has not really invoked the Defense Production Act for the purpose … of emergency manufactur[ing] is going to cost lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said on “State of the Union“ on CNN. “We’re thankful to anyone who’s pitching in on this effort, but we are nowhere near the beds and the capacity that we need in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “We’re hearing it every step of the way from this administration. First we were hearing it was a hoax. Then we were hearing that everything was fine. Then we were hearing that the fundamentals of the economy was OK until the crash comes. And we cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers to start production.“

By Wes Bruer and Matthew Hilk, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested health care workers sanitize and reuse masks when treating coronavirus patients, rather than "throwing away" masks that are in short supply. "I have to tell you, the throwing away of the masks, being in private business, the throwing away of the mask right away, they're throwing it away," Trump said during Saturday's White House coronavirus briefing. Suggesting that health care workers instead clean and reuse the masks, the President said: "We have very good liquids for doing this, sanitizing the masks, and that that's something they're starting to do more and more. They're sanitizing the masks." It is unclear which type of mask the President was describing, but US Food and Drug Administration guidelines for the common N95 respirator masks state they "should not be shared or reused." Neither the FDA nor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines suggest the possibility of sanitizing masks for safe reuse.

By Hannah Skellern For Dailymail.com and Andrew Court For Dailymail.com

Dr. Anthony Fauci has admitted he has been 'walking a fine line' by publicly contradicting President Donald Trump as he leads the team fighting the coronavirus pandemic amid rumors of tension between the pair. Telling Trump 'things he doesn't want to hear' was a 'risky business,' the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an interview with the New York Times. The respected immunologist was caught smirking at President Donald Trump during a coronavirus press conference on Friday afternoon  He was also forced to publicly row back on the president's claims that the anti-malarial drug cloroquine offered a potential cure for coronavirus in the latest of a series of public rebukes. Fauci said that he tried not to 'embarrass Trump' and said that he attempts to deal with the president by 'continually' talking about scientific facts. 'I don't want to act like a tough guy, like I stood up to the president,' he said. 'I just want to get the facts out. And instead of saying, 'You're wrong,' all you need to do is continually talk about what the data are and what the evidence is.' The health expert admitted that the tactic was 'risky' but maintained: 'I say it the way it is, and if he's gonna get pissed off, he's gonna get pissed off. 'Thankfully, he is not. Interestingly,' he said. And Fauci insisted that Trump was not offended by his advice. He told the Times: 'He’s a smart guy. He’s not a dummy. So he doesn’t take it — certainly up to now — he doesn’t take it in a way that I’m confronting him in any way. He takes it in a good way.' Fauci said that he had been working round the clock as the coronavirus crisis unfolds. On Saturday the amount of cases soared past 25,000 and deaths hit 308.

The GOP governor took action while Trump was still calling the pandemic a ''hoax."
By Corky Siemaszko

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan went before the cameras last week and broke some bad news to his constituents — the state had recorded its first death from the coronavirus. “We pray for his family,” Hogan said of the victim, a man in his 60s with an underlying condition. “Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis and while this is the first death in Maryland it will not be the last.” Hogan also noted that a 5-year-old girl was among the confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, a development all the more alarming because the vast majority of infected people have been older. “This fight against pandemic is a race against time and we must take action now,” Hogan said. “We cannot afford to delay.” That has been Hogan’s mantra from the start of the crisis. The Republican governor took steps to protect Marylanders on Feb. 27, when he first inked parts of emergency legislation to increase funds for the fight, cancelling out-of-state travel for state workers, establishing a help-line for the public and meeting regularly with his coronavirus response team. In comparison, on the following day, Trump called the coronavirus “new hoax” drummed-up by Democrats to damage him and his administration. Hogan also declared a state of emergency in Maryland on March 5 — more than a week before President Trump made a nationwide emergency declaration. The end result is that Hogan and fellow governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, have at times eclipsed Trump as a national leaders in the battle against the deadly pandemic. And the steps Hogan has taken in Maryland to combat the coronavirus have been as aggressive as those taken by other take-charge governors in hard-hit states like Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is also a Republican, and Jay Inslee of Washington and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, both Democrats.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Outrage inside NBC
Staffers at NBC News are outraged (and a bit confused) after President Trump viciously attacked their network's White House correspondent, Peter Alexander, at Friday's coronavirus briefing. Alexander, if you didn't see, asked Trump what he would say to Americans who are frightened amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of answering, Trump responded by rejecting the question ("nasty"), attacking Alexander ("terrible"), and assailing NBC News' parent company Comcast ("Con-Cast"). The verbal tirade -- which Trump defended after Kaitlan Collins asked whether it was appropriate -- did not go over well with people inside NBC News. "Outrageous," one senior NBC News employee told me of Trump's behavior. "Entirely unprompted. W.H. reporters should ask tough questions and Peter often does, BUT THAT WASN'T EVEN A TOUGH QUESTION." Other NBC News staffers expressed a similar sentiment. "It's absolutely nuts he was attacked for asking a legitimate question," one NBC News reporter told me. "Extremely bizarre," said another. "It was a totally fair question with an obviously accurate premise. The reaction made no sense." Yet another staffer told me, "It's unsettling when these acts happen, but we continue to do our work." Andy Lack's statement: "Peter Alexander is an outstanding reporter. His line of questioning at today's White House briefing was fair, straightforward, and necessary..."

"We call this a softball"
Appearing on NBC after the press conference, Alexander explained that he was offering Trump a platform to comfort the American people: "I am sure there are plenty of baseball fans watching right now. In TV terms, we call this a softball. I was trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure" the public... King goes further: It's "bullshit" That's how CNN's John King referred to Trump's unhinged response to Alexander. Many other journalists joined in to back the NBC correspondent. "Asked to perform one of the key duties of the presidency — to reassure the American public during a crisis — Trump instead attacked," WaPo's Ashley Parker noted. WHCA prez Jonathan Karl added: "It's outrageous to use the presidential bully pulpit to bully a journalist like Peter — especially at a time like this."

By Jody Serrano

Google finally unveiled its coronavirus website today. Yes, that website, the one that President Donald Trump said Google was building that the company had no idea it was building. The website, while a good resource to obtain information on covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is nothing like what Trump described. To recap, last week Trump and his team announced that Google was developing a nationwide coronavirus screening website. The president claimed that 1,700 Google engineers were working on the project and that they had “made tremendous progress.” Confusion ensued afterward, with Google hurriedly announcing that it was working on something vaguely similar to what Trump had described. “We’re partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post after Trump’s surprise announcement. “This includes best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and helpful tips and tools from Google for individuals, teachers and businesses.” In the end, Google delivered a website that does what it said it would do, which just happens not to be what Trump or his team said it would do. In other words, it is not a covid-19 screening website that provides users with a questionnaire about their symptoms and directs them to the nearest drive-through testing facility. (Google’s sister company, Verily, did launch a site closer to what Trump described, but on a much smaller scale in the Bay Area). Nonetheless, drive-through testing is not even available nationwide yet, although some sites have been popping up this week. According to USA Today, government officials stated that 47 drive-through testing sites will be set up in approximately 12 states over the next few days. Instead, the Google covid-19 website provides information about the disease, safety and prevention tips (including its Do The Five campaign), links to information about covid-19 from the CDC and the WHO, a map of cases worldwide, YouTube videos on subjects such as cooking and exercising and a way to contribute to global relief efforts, among other resources.

By Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica, CNN

New York (CNN) For New Yorkers stuck inside their homes -- and heads -- as the state and country confront the rapid spread of coronavirus, Andrew Cuomo's press conferences have become appointment viewing. Starting a little before noon, and running as long as an hour, the New York governor offers something simple and, to many viewers, deeply necessary: a sense that someone is in charge, even if the news is bad -- and consistently getting worse. "Everyone knows what we're dealing with," Cuomo began, matter-of-factly, on Friday. "It's preventing an overload of the health care system." The pressers have turned into indelible split screen moments between Cuomo and President Donald Trump -- whose own news conferences often take place during or after those in New York -- unfolding in real time for those watching in New York City. For many viewers, they are a stark and jarring reminder of the broad chasm between the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts at the state level, where governors like Cuomo are increasingly taking stricter action -- and greater responsibility -- as they seek to stabilize both health infrastructure and ward off a public panic. Cuomo's Friday newser ran about 45 minutes as he delivered a daily update and took questions from a small gathering of reporters, all seated at a safe social distance. He covered everything from how the delayed federal tax filing deadline would affect state finances, to whether massages were "essential" -- they are not, he said -- the governor decidedly said -- and his chat with internet service providers, whom Cuomo said he asked to expand "data capacity" free of charge. After informing the public that a press officer had shown coronavirus symptoms, which touched off an internal quarantine, Cuomo stopped. "I'm gonna go to work," he declared, before standing up, along with his aides, and heading off. Until tomorrow.

A stark contrast
As Cuomo was wrapping up in New York, Trump and his team were beginning their own briefing at the White House. But where Cuomo projected competence and authority, with a dash of his idiosyncratic humor, Trump was meandering. When prodded to offer some kind of empathy -- Trump lashed out. "What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?," a reporter asked. "I say that you are a terrible reporter, that's what I say," Trump replied. "I think it's a very nasty question." Whether he was annoyed that the wind-up to the question included statistics on the sick and dead, or at its characterization -- "scared" -- of Americans, was unclear. "They're looking for answers and they're looking for hope," Trump continued, as if observing from afar. Cuomo has been blunt and at times searching, but unerringly forthright, even with unnerving information. He has been open in seeking out the equipment desperately needed by health care providers, like face masks and ventilators. Asked on Friday if the state was headed toward a cash crunch, he answered, "Yes." When discussing his statewide order requiring workers in nonessential businesses to stay home, Cuomo acknowledged the potential for criticism. "If someone is unhappy, if somebody wants to blame someone, or complain about someone, blame me," he said. "There is no one else who is responsible for this decision." Contrast that with Trump, a fellow Queens native who also entered his father's line of work: a week earlier, the President faced questions at a press conference over his role in the country's failure to produce and implement functioning coronavirus tests. His answer: "I don't take responsibility at all."

By Wesley Bruer and Kelly Mena, CNN

Washington, DC (CNN) The US Food and Drug Administration announced it has authorized the use of the first rapid diagnostic test that could detect the novel coronavirus in approximately 45 minutes. The authorization was made Friday and tests will begin shipping next week, according to a statement from California-based Cepheid, the company manufacturing the tests. "During this time of increased demand for hospital services, Clinicians urgently need an on-demand diagnostic test for real-time management of patients being evaluated for admission to health-care facilities," said Dr. David Persing, MD, Ph.D., chief medical and technology officer at Cepheid. "An accurate test delivered close to the patient can be transformative -- and help alleviate the pressure that the emergence of the 2019-nCoV outbreak has put on healthcare facilities that need to properly allocate their respiratory isolation resources," Persing added. The announcement of more efficient testing comes as the medical community has been looking to get quicker results to stem the tide of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Dr. Rod Hochman, CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health, an organization of 51 hospitals and about 1,000 clinics, described testing capacity in the US as highly deficient. The turnaround time on testing results, he said, had ranged from 24 hours to four days, which he called "unacceptable." If cases of the disease are not identified quickly and community spread continues unchecked, it could soon overwhelm the nation's medical system, just as it did in Wuhan, China, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Vice President Mike Pence announced during a Saturday news briefing on coronavirus response that more than 195,000 Americans have been tested for the virus as cases surpassed 22,000, with about half confirmed in New York. He noted that the number does not include county hospitals or health care labs around the country. Currently, only 19,343 tests have come back positive, Pence said.

One of the requests to Congress would allow the department to petition a judge to indefinitely detain someone during an emergency.

The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States. Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the documents. The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak. The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.

By Rem Rieder

At a White House briefing March 19, President Donald Trump said, “Nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.” But that’s simply not the case. Among others, the U.S. intelligence community warned in its annual threat report for 2019 that “that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death.” The president made his remarks at a coronavirus task force press briefing. Trump deflected the blame when asked about the lack of coronavirus tests and medical supplies to deal with the pandemic.

   Trump, March 19:  They had an obsolete system, and they had a system, simultaneously, that was not meant for this.  It wasn’t meant for this. Nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.  Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.

But experts have warned for years about the danger of a major, potentially catastrophic outbreak of global disease, and some have sounded the alarm that the United States was not prepared to cope with it. “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” Luciana Borio, then-director of Medical and Biodefense Preparedness Policy at the National Security Council, said at a symposium at Emory University in Atlanta in 2018 marking the 100th anniversary of the devastating flu outbreak  of 1918. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.”

By Jack Dolan, Brittny Mejia

Los Angeles County health officials advised doctors to give up on testing patients in the hope of containing the coronavirus outbreak, instructing them to test patients only if a positive result could change how they would be treated. The guidance, sent by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to doctors on Thursday, was prompted by a crush of patients and shortage of tests, and could make it difficult to ever know precisely how many people in L.A. County contracted the virus. The department “is shifting from a strategy of case containment to slowing disease transmission and averting excess morbidity and mortality,” according to the letter. Doctors should test symptomatic patients only when “a diagnostic result will change clinical management or inform public health response.” The guidance sets in writing what has been a reality all along. The shortage of tests nationwide has meant that many patients suspected of having COVID-19 have not had the diagnosis confirmed by a laboratory. They are not planning to test patients who have the symptoms but are otherwise healthy enough to be sent home to self-quarantine — meaning they may never show up in official tallies of people who tested positive.

Then contrast them with the leadership shown by Andrew Cuomo, Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel.
By Jennifer Senior

In a time of global emergency, we need calm, directness and, above all, hard facts. Only the opposite is on offer from the Trump White House. It is therefore time to call the president’s news conferences for what they are: propaganda. We may as well be watching newsreels approved by the Soviet Politburo. We’re witnessing the falsification of history in real time. When Donald Trump, under the guise of social distancing, told the White House press corps on Thursday that he ought to get rid of 75 to 80 percent of them — reserving the privilege only for those he liked — it may have been chilling, but it wasn’t surprising. He wants to thin out their ranks until there’s only Pravda in the room. Sometimes, I stare at Deborah Birx during these briefings and I wonder if she understands that this is the footage historians will be looking at 100 years from now — the president rambling on incoherently, vainly, angrily, deceitfully, while she watches, her face stiff with the strangled horror of a bride enduring an inappropriate toast. If the public wants factual news briefings, they need to tune in to those who are giving them: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, whose addresses appear with English subtitles on Deutsche Welle. They should start following the many civic-minded epidemiologists and virologists and contagion experts on Twitter, like Harvard’s Marc Lipsitch and Yale’s Nicholas Christakis, whose threads have been invaluable primers in a time of awful confusion. These are people with a high tolerance for uncertainty. It’s the president’s incapacity to tolerate it — combined with his bottomless need to self-flatter and preserve his political power — that leads, so often, to his spectacular fits of deception and misdirection. At his Thursday news conference, a discussion of chloroquine and other experimental therapies formed the core of his remarks, when those drugs and therapies are untested and unproven and, in some cases, won’t be ready for several months, as NBC’s Peter Alexander pointed out the following day.

Posted By Ian Schwartz

CNN's John King called President Trump's admonishment of NBC News reporter Peter Alexander at Friday's White House coronavirus taskforce briefing "bullshit." Alexander asked the president what he would say to Americans "watching you right now who are scared." King said the Trump trademark behavior was "reprehensible," especially since it was a legitimate question with "no shade" attached to it. "This is a Trump trademark," King said to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. "It was striking that this came, this, forgive me, bullshit attack on fake news came just moments after the Secretary of State said the American people needed to be careful about where they get their information, and go to sources they can trust." "That was a 100% legitimate question with no hype, no shade, no bias, he just wanted to attack," King said.

By Lauren Fox, Kaitlan Collins and Kristen Holmes, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he's invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up production, but he hasn't wielded his federal powers yet as health officials voice alarm about potential shortages of lifesaving medical supplies like ventilators and protective gear for doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump signed the measure after several people urged him to act amid mounting concerns over a supplies shortage, a person familiar told CNN. But as he signed the emergency bill earlier this week, the administration had yet to conduct a full account of inventory across the nation, nor had it identified which companies it would need to make which products. That still hadn't been done as of Friday night, this person said, despite Trump insisting the act would be used to acquire "millions of masks." Amid the confusion over whether he'll act or not, several companies have cast doubt on whether the President needs to carry out orders under the Defense Production Act at all. And several aides have privately advised against it. The Defense Production Act, legislation passed in the 1950s on the cusp of the Korean War, provides the President with a broad set of powers to require businesses to "prioritize and accept government contracts" as well as "provide economic incentives" to ensure the US has the stockpiles it needs to handle an impending medical crisis. On Friday night, General Motors announced in a statement -- first reported by the Detroit Free Press -- that it would work in coordination with a ventilator company to help increase production. Still, Democrats on Capitol Hill are urging the President to fully unlock the powers now or face a supply shortage that may not be able to be reversed in time. And there is little evidence that the law is being used to direct any manufacturers to boost production of critical equipment. Now the President is caught in between those who think he should use the power more broadly and those who argued he should have never invoked it in the first place.

by Brian Naylor

President Trump has made a lot of promises about actions his administration is taking to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Not all of them have been exactly on the mark — and some have yet to pay off as advertised.

Naval hospital ships
The president announced on Wednesday that the Navy would dispatch its two hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy, to help treat patients and free up land-based hospitals for coronavirus patients. "So those two ships are being prepared to go, and they can be launched over the next week or so," Trump said, calling the ships in "tip-top shape." Well, not so much. The Navy said that the Comfort was actually undergoing repairs in Norfolk, and it would be weeks before it would be ready to sail to New York. And the Mercy, based in San Diego, would take several days before it was staffed with doctors and nurses and be ready for deployment somewhere on the West Coast. Although the deployments may still go ahead, the ships likely won't sail within the week.

FDA drug approval
On Thursday, Trump touted that the Food and Drug Administration had "approved" use of an anti-malaria drug called chloroquine to treat patients afflicted with the coronavirus. The president sounded excited. "We're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately," Trump said, calling it "a tremendous breakthrough" and a potential "game-changer." But FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn tried to tamp down Trump's enthusiasm, saying that "a large, pragmatic clinical trial" would be needed first to determine the drug's usefulness before making it available to coronavirus patients. Hahn said he couldn't "speculate about a timeline" for the drug's availability.

By Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump ignored reports from US intelligence agencies starting in January that warned of the scale and intensity of the coronavirus outbreak in China, The Washington Post reported Friday. Citing US officials familiar with the agencies' reports and warnings, the Post reported that intelligence agencies depicted the nature and global spread of the virus and China's apparent downplaying of its severity, as well as the potential need for government measures to contain it -- while Trump opted to dismiss or simply not address their seriousness. "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were -- they just couldn't get him to do anything about it," the official noted to the Post. "The system was blinking red." The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment to the Post. When asked for comment on the report, White House spokesperson Judd Deere directed CNN to fellow spokesperson Hogan Gidley's comment to the Post. "President Trump has taken historic, aggressive measures to protect the health, wealth and safety of the American people -- and did so, while the media and Democrats chose to only focus on the stupid politics of a sham illegitimate impeachment," Gidley told the paper in a statement. "It's more than disgusting, despicable and disgraceful for cowardly unnamed sources to attempt to rewrite history -- it's a clear threat to this great country." A source familiar told CNN that the congressional intelligence committees were briefed on the threat coronavirus posed in January and February. The intelligence reports did not predict when the virus might hit the US or recommend steps that should be taken in response, the source said. The reports tracked the spread of the virus in China and then other countries, and warned that Chinese officials were minimizing the impact. Within the administration, Trump's aides tried in vain to convince him of the virus's seriousness, according to the Post. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was unable to discuss the virus with Trump until January 18, two senior administration officials told the Post -- at which point the President interrupted him to ask when sales of flavored vaping products would resume, senior administration officials told the paper. Later in January, aides met with then-acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in an effort to convince higher level officials to monitor the virus -- with White House Domestic Policy Council Director Joe Grogan asserting that if the White House did not seriously address the virus, an issue likely to be front and center for months, Trump could risk losing his reelection, people briefed on the meeting told the Post. Mulvaney subsequently held regular meetings, though officials told the paper that Trump did not take the virus seriously because he did not think it had circulated extensively in the United States. The President also seemed to deny the virus's threat in favor of believing information provided by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the paper reported.

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