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US Monthly Headline News March 2020 Page 3

Twelve years after she put together the TARP, the Speaker negotiated a major legislative response to the coronavirus.
By Sam Brodey

For the second time in her career, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was tasked with bailing out a Republican president in a moment of national crisis and, with a tanking stock market in the background, came through with a bill. Twelve years ago, Pelosi worked with President George W. Bush and his lieutenants to craft the 2008 emergency bank bailout. Late Friday night, she’d nailed down a deal with the Trump administration on legislation to respond to the spiraling coronavirus outbreak. But unlike the first time—when the speaker and the man in the White House had a relatively decent working relationship—Pelosi this time was collaborating with a president who’d spent weeks trashing her as, among other things, “incompetent.” The name-calling, ultimately, proved to be a minor hurdle, if one at all; as Trump was largely sidelined during negotiations. Over the course of Thursday and Friday, Pelosi spoke instead with Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, nearly 30 separate times as they hammered out a deal. Through it all, the speaker did not speak with the president once. Asked at a late-night Friday press conference if they had talked, Pelosi looked almost shocked that anyone might think so. “There was no need for that,” she said. Bush was a participant in TARP discussions, though he strategically kept some distance as he and his aides felt that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson would be more palatable a negotiating partner for lawmakers on the Hill. It was Paulson who famously leaned so heavily on Pelosi to help get the bank bailout through the House that he even got down on one knee to beg her to push the bill through her chamber. The parallels between then and now aren’t perfect. But they aren’t far apart either. For lawmakers who were there during the autumn of 2008 the most important difference is the most obvious: Trump. “The crisis atmosphere seems similar. The inability of the president to provide any real leadership is different,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) shortly after a midnight vote on Saturday to approve the coronavirus legislation. “I disagreed vigorously with the Bush administration, but at least the president led and worked with his team on this. We're here at this hour, in large measure, because Donald Trump's provided no leadership, just obstruction.”

From insufficient testing to a lack of coordination, Trump’s response has been a disaster years in the making.
By German Lopez - vox

President Donald Trump’s failure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic didn’t begin with the administration’s inability to send out the millions of test kits that experts say are needed to tackle the crisis. It didn’t start with Trump’s bungled messaging downplaying the crisis even as it’s worsened. It began in April 2018 — more than a year and a half before the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, sickened enough people in China that authorities realized they were dealing with a new disease. The Trump administration, with John Bolton newly at the helm of the White House National Security Council, began dismantling the team in charge of pandemic response, firing its leadership and disbanding the team in spring 2018. The cuts, coupled with the administration’s repeated calls to cut the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies, made it clear that the Trump administration wasn’t prioritizing the federal government’s ability to respond to disease outbreaks. That lack of attention to preparedness, experts say, now helps explain why the Trump administration has botched its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The administration has in recent days taken steps to combat criticisms about its slow and muddled response to the coronavirus, with Trump giving a televised Oval Office address on Wednesday and declaring a national emergency on Friday. But experts say that the damage has been done: The federal government is only now playing catch-up, as thousands of new cases of coronavirus are confirmed and the death toll steadily increases every day. That failure is most abundantly clear in testing. To date, the US has tested a fraction of the people than even countries with much smaller outbreaks. Several weeks after the first community transmission within the US, the country has tested more than 16,000 people as of March 13, according to the Covid Tracking Project. By comparison, South Korea had tested more than 66,000 people within a week of its first case of community transmission. Testing is crucial to slowing epidemics. First, it lets public health officials identify sick people and subsequently isolate them. Second, they can trace that sick person’s recent contacts to make sure those people aren’t sick and to get them to quarantine as well. It’s one of the best policy tools we have for an outbreak like this. It’s also something that the federal government has done well before — recently, with H1N1 and Zika. “It’s been surprising to me that the administration’s had a hard time executing on some of these things,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told me. But it’s the kind of thing that the Trump administration has screwed up, while instead trying to downplay the threat of Covid-19. Trump himself has tweeted comparisons of Covid-19 to the common flu — which Jha describes as “really unhelpful,” because the novel coronavirus appears to be much worse. Trump also called concerns about the virus a “hoax.” He said on national television that, based on nothing more than a self-admitted “hunch,” the death rate of the disease is much lower than public health officials projected. And Trump has rejected any accountability for the botched testing process: “I don’t take responsibility at all,” he said on Friday. Jha described the Trump administration’s messaging so far as “deeply disturbing,” adding that it’s “left the country far less prepared than it needs to be for what is a very substantial challenge ahead.” It’s a playbook that has previously worked for Trump, who successfully, at least politically, fended off concerns about his handling of Hurricane Maria, the opioid epidemic, and a host of self-inflicted crises from his travel ban to the crisis at the US-Mexico border. This time, as people are getting sick and dying, and millions of Americans worry the same could happen to them, Trump’s strategy of denial and downplaying isn’t working (so far). What it has done, instead, is left the Trump administration unprepared for the challenge ahead, whether it’s in the failure on testing or the Trump administration’s inability to calm the public and markets as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. And all of this can be traced back to the Trump administration’s decision in the spring of 2018 to deprioritize the federal government’s ability to respond to pandemics. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. more...

By Nina dos Santos, CNN

London (CNN) When Republican lawmakers this week abruptly canceled a plan to subpoena a former Ukrainian official in their investigations into the energy firm that hired former Vice President Joe Biden's son, they said it was to allow more time for senators to receive additional briefings. But a Ukrainian magazine editor has told CNN that the target of the subpoena, Andrii Telizhenko, once offered him money to lobby US senators on behalf of pro-Russian media outlets. A former Ukrainian diplomat, Telizhenko is an ally of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and has been an enthusiastic proponent of the debunked theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 US elections. Telizhenko has also backed Republican claims that Trump's Democratic rival, Joe Biden, shut down an investigation into the Ukrainian gas company Burisma when his son, Hunter, served on its board. Biden has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee called off a vote to subpoena Telizhenko earlier this week, amid accusations from Democrats that the investigation was calculated to damage Biden's presidential bid. Questions also swirled about Telizhenko's reliability as a witness -- the New York Times reported that the FBI had briefed the committee leadership with concerns that he could be spreading Russian disinformation. Telizhenko says he's the victim of a smear campaign and flatly denied to CNN he was a "Russian agent." In a development that could raise more questions about Telizhenko's reliability, Vladislav Davidzon, who runs a magazine called the Odessa Review, has told CNN that Telizhenko offered him $5,000 in 2018 to approach prominent Republicans to speak out against efforts by Kiev to curb the influence of two TV stations. CNN has reviewed a series of messages between the two men that came against the backdrop of an attempt by Ukrainian lawmakers to censure two channels, 112 and News One, for allegedly broadcasting Russian propaganda in the years following Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014. In October 2018, the same month that lawmakers voted in favor of a resolution to sanction the two stations, Telizhenko wrote to Davidzon, asking: "Have a question do you or your father have contacts with US Senators? I really need a favour for witch (sic) I can pay up to 5k." Davidzon, 35, is the son of influential US-based Russian language media owner Gregory Davidzon -- once dubbed "The Kingmaker of Little Russia" in a 2012 profile by The New York Times. After expressing concerns about how the new Ukrainian proposals could shut the broadcasters down, Telizhenko then says: "My question is is it possible to get an official comment on a Senators (Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham for example) website next week about this situation of censorship in Ukraine? Really important for me and need fast." Davidzon replies: "Ok. I have a bit of time. But not sure what I can do." Davidzon told CNN that he considered the offer of money to target senators like Graham was "improper" and never reached out to any US lawmakers as a result.

By Jesse Pound

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he has taken a test for the coronavirus and that results are pending. “I had my temperature taken coming into the room … I also took the test last night. And I decided I should based on the press conference last night,” Trump said. Trump said the test was sent to a lab and he doesn’t know when he will get the results. The press secretary of Brazil’s president, both of whom were recently in Mar-a-Lago with Trump, tested positive for the virus. Trump also shook hands with multiple people at Friday’s press conference, which many health experts have warned against doing due to the pandemic. Several members of Congress, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have gone into self isolation after exposure to people with confirmed cases of the virus. Deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement that temperature checks are now being performed on individuals in close contact with the Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. This includes members of the media who are attending the news conference.

By James Walker

Most Americans do not trust President Donald Trump to be honest about the COVID-19 threat, a new poll has found. The latest survey from Yahoo! News and YouGov found that 53 percent of polled U.S. adults did not have faith in the president to tell the truth about the threat of the new coronavirus, while a third of those polled said they trusted the commander-in-chief. A further 14 percent of the 1,635 U.S. adults polled said they were "not sure" whether they trusted Trump on the matter. Women were less likely to trust the president than men, according to the poll results, which found 56 percent of women did not personally trust the president to be honest about COVID-19 while just 49 percent of men said the same. A high percentage of Democrats also said they did not trust Trump to give an honest assessment of the new coronavirus threat. More than three quarters (79 percent) of 569 polled Democrats said they did not trust him on the issue, as 73 percent of Republicans said the opposite. When asked if they were satisfied that the Trump administration was doing everything it could to stop the virus, a plurality (44 percent) of respondents said they were not. More than a third (37 percent) told pollsters they were satisfied while a further 19 percent said they were not sure. Forty-six percent of respondents said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" disapproved of the way President Trump had handled the new coronavirus, while 41 percent approved of his performance.

The president suggests nobody could have seen the pandemic coming after he failed to heed the warnings.
By Eric Lutz

As the coronavirus crisis escalated in recent days, Donald Trump repeatedly cast the pandemic as something nobody could have seen coming. “Who would have thought?” he said during a recent trip to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Who would have thought we would even be having the subject?” But according to Politico’s Dan Diamond, Trump’s own White House recognized the gravity of the public health emergency, but the president personally undermined its response, seemingly more concerned about how it all would impact his reelection bid. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar raised alarms with Trump that the novel coronavirus “could be a major problem,” according to Diamond. And yet the president declined to act with urgency, refusing to push for testing that could lead to a larger number of confirmed cases in the United States that would undercut his efforts to play down the threat. “He did not push to do aggressive testing in recent weeks, and that’s partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak,” Diamond told NPR’s Fresh Air Thursday. “And the president had made clear—the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential reelection this fall.” Trump has publicly suggested as much. During that same trip to the CDC last week, he told reporters that he wanted to have infected Diamond Princess passengers “stay on” the cruise ship, so as to keep them from being counted among the confirmed coronavirus cases on U.S. soil. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” Trump said. That Trump has and continues to filter the crisis through his craven and crude political calculus is unsurprising. But as Diamond reported last week, the president’s self-interest has undercut efforts by the federal government to combat the virus—“resisting attempts to plan for worst-case scenarios, overturning a public-health plan upon request from political allies and repeating only the warnings that he chose to hear.” Perhaps the clearest symptom of his mishandling? The inadequate testing that could have helped the U.S. face the pandemic head on, something officials told Politico stemmed from the president’s disregard and aides’ reluctance to give him bad news. “It always ladders to the top,” one person helping to advise the administration’s response told the outlet. “Trump’s created an atmosphere where the judgment of his staff is that he shouldn’t need to know these things.”

Though Trump in public has downplayed the virus, privately he has voiced his own anxieties.

The Trump administration is bracing for a possible coronavirus outbreak in the United States that could sicken thousands — straining the government's public health response and threatening an economic slowdown in the heat of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. That stark realization has taken hold in high-level White House meetings, during which some administration officials have voiced concerns the coronavirus is already spreading undetected within U.S. borders, two officials told POLITICO. The coronavirus currently has no cure and can be spread to people who have no outward symptoms. Though Trump in public has downplayed the virus, privately he has voiced his own anxieties, rebuking public health leaders over last week's decision to fly home 14 Americans who tested positive for the virus while aboard a cruise ship off Japan, said three individuals with knowledge of the situation. Trump was worried that transporting the Americans to the United States without adequate precautions could create new risks, the individuals said. “The biggest current threat to the president’s reelection is this thing getting out of control and creating a health and economic impact,” said Chris Meekins, a Raymond James financial analyst and former Trump administration HHS emergency-preparedness official. An HHS spokesperson said the administration is committed to protecting public health and preparing for multiple scenarios due to the novel nature of the virus. "As we’ve said all along, the risk to Americans is low, but we expect the numbers to increase," the spokesperson said, declining to characterize the nature of the discussions. But there has been tension within the Trump administration over the response so far. Four officials acknowledged that the process has hit bumps, with high-pressure debates over resources and planning occasionally reopening fault lines between the White House and HHS that first emerged over Trump's broader health agenda. Some of the biggest challenges have been within the health department, with the Centers for Disease Control revising its quarantines, opposing the evacuation of the Diamond Princess cruise ship — despite evidence that a quarantine imposed by Japanese authorities had failed and infections were spreading — and raising general questions about the agency’s level of preparedness.

By Jim Acosta, CNN

(CNN) A source close to Donald Trump said the President is telling people close to him that he is indeed concerned about coming into contact with people who have contracted the coronavirus, including the Brazilian official who tested positive after coming face-to-face with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. "He is very concerned about all the people he met who have it, including the Brazilian," the source said. Fabio Wajngarten, the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, two sources have told CNN. Bolsonaro's health is being monitored. Bolsonaro's aide posted an image of himself standing with Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. Wajngarten was accompanying Bolsonaro on a trip to the US, during which Trump and the Brazilian President dined together. Earlier Thursday, the US President insisted he is not concerned about being exposed. "We did nothing very unusual, we sat next to each other for a period of time," he told reporters in the Oval Office, referring to Bolsonaro. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement issued later said: "Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time." She added: "The White House Medical Unit and the United States Secret Service has been working closely with various agencies to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the First & Second Families, and all White House staff healthy." The source did not know whether the President has been tested or not.

By Dan Petrella - Chicago Tribune

One week ago, there were six known cases of the new coronavirus in Illinois. On Friday, state officials announced 14 new cases, bringing the total to 46 since the start of the outbreak. The rapid spread of COVID-19 this week led Gov. J.B. Pritzker to take unprecedented steps in hopes of slowing the rate of transmission, on Thursday canceling events with more than 1,000 people for 30 days and on Friday announcing the closure of schools statewide beginning Tuesday until March 30. Those measures are being put in place across Illinois even as the confirmed cases remain clustered in the Chicago area. Not long after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the global pandemic, Pritzker again complained that the federal response continues to lag. “We will work to bring every resource available to us into the state,” Pritzker said Friday at his daily news briefing. “But make no mistake, we have long since passed the moment when we thought we could count on the federal government to lead in the face of this unprecedented situation.” The governor said now is a critical time to try to slow the spread of the respiratory virus to prevent the health care system from becoming overwhelmed. In addition to the large-scale cancellations, Pritzker called on all Illinois residents to do what they can to minimize potential transmission.

By Grace Hauck, Doug Stanglin USA TODAY

One day after President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic to be a national emergency, millions of Americans were grappling with a new normal. More than a hundred universities have transitioned to online-only classes, and several states and large urban school districts are shutting down all K-12 schools as part of a sweeping attempt to contain the spread of the virus. The NBA, MLS and NHL have suspended their seasons. The AMC and Regal theater chains are cutting their seating capacity in half. Some Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada may become drive-thru only. And hundreds of employees have transitioned to working from home. Meanwhile, at least 47 people have died in the U.S., where there have been more than 2,100 confirmed cases of the virus. Worldwide, cases were nearing 150,000 on Saturday with more than 5,500 deaths. Here are some significant things to know:

Trump has spent weeks downplaying the virus' outbreak.

President Donald Trump on Friday deflected blame for his administration’s lagging ability to test Americans for the coronavirus outbreak, insisting instead — without offering evidence — that fault lies with his predecessor, Barack Obama. “I don't take responsibility at all,” Trump said defiantly, pointing to an unspecified “set of circumstances” and “rules, regulations and specifications from a different time.” The remarks from the president came in response to questions at a Friday press conference about the lack of widespread access to testing, an aspect of his administration's coronavirus response that has been the subject of widespread, steady criticism. Administration officials told lawmakers yesterday that the U.S. tested about 11,000 people during the first seven weeks of the outbreak — roughly as many as South Korea is testing each day. And Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee on Thursday that “the system is not really geared to what we need right now” in and called the testing system “a failing.” But Trump, who spent weeks downplaying coronavirus before declaring it a national emergency on Friday, argued that the health care system was not designed for an outbreak on the scale of coronavirus, “with the kind of numbers that we are talking about.” The president kept his criticism lighter and more forward-looking at first, declaring that his administration is “leaving a very indelible print in the future in case something like this happens again.” “That's not the fault of anybody — and frankly the old system worked very well for smaller numbers, much smaller numbers but not for these kind of numbers,” he added. But then Fauci stepped up to the mic to clarify his position, arguing that the CDC’s testing system, “for what it was designed for, it worked very well,” and maintaining that an “embrace” of the private sector was necessary for testing at the kind of scale needed for the fast-spreading coronavirus. Then, Trump began pointing fingers.

In a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, he detailed why he’s lost faith in the court.
By Dahlia Lithwick

James Dannenberg is a retired Hawaii state judge. He sat on the District Court of the 1st Circuit of the state judiciary for 27 years. Before that, he served as the deputy attorney general of Hawaii. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law, teaching federal jurisdiction for more than a decade. He has appeared on briefs and petitions as part of the most prestigious association of attorneys in the country: the Supreme Court Bar. The lawyers admitted to practice before the high court enjoy preferred seating at arguments and access to the court library, and are deemed members of the legal elite. Above all, the bar stands as a sprawling national signifier that the work of the court, the legitimacy of the institution, and the business of justice is bolstered by tens of thousands of lawyers across the nation. On Wednesday, Dannenberg tendered a letter of resignation from the Supreme Court Bar to Chief Justice John Roberts. He has been a member of that bar since 1972. In his letter, reprinted in full below, Dannenberg compares the current Supreme Court, with its boundless solicitude for the rights of the wealthy, the privileged, and the comfortable, to the court that ushered in the Lochner era in the early 20th century, a period of profound judicial activism that put a heavy thumb on the scale for big business, banking, and insurance interests, and ruled consistently against child labor, fair wages, and labor regulations.

The US needs to brace for coronavirus. But Fox News is framing efforts to prepare as a partisan fight.
By Nicole Narea

Conservative commentators on Fox News are downplaying the potential risk of the novel coronavirus spreading throughout the US — describing the panic over the pandemic as a partisan tool that has been used to attack President Donald Trump. On his evening show Thursday night, host Sean Hannity spent the bulk of his opening monologue accusing detractors of Trump’s response to Covid-19 of sowing partisanship and hysteria — a message that has resonated with the president, who is an avid viewer and tweeted about it after the show. “Since the beginning, all they’ve done is use the virus, politicize the virus to bludgeon President Trump,” Hannity said, referring to Democrats. “All the same people who have done the same thing for three straight years. ... Russia, Russia. Ukraine, Ukraine. And impeach, impeach. Now, corona, corona.” Friday morning, Fox & Friends suggested that it’s safe to travel. “It’s actually the safest time to fly,” host Ainsley Earhardt said. And Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of the evangelical Liberty University, spread unfounded conspiracy theories about how Democrats are playing up the virus to attack Trump and how it could potentially be a bioweapon. Fox News is communicating that panic over the virus is the problem. But at this point, the American public needs to take the threat of the virus seriously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 1,200 cases nationwide as of March 12, but due to insufficient testing, there are likely many more cases that have gone unidentified. Congress’s in-house doctor told staffers on Wednesday that 70 million to 150 million people in the US could eventually be infected. Experts recommend that people practice social distancing, but if they fail to do so, the virus could spread too quickly, overwhelming medical resources and leading to unnecessary deaths. What Fox News has been publicly telling viewers is very different from how the network has been responding to the virus internally: Network executives have taken a number of significant precautions, the Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani reported. They told employees in a memo that they would implement work-from-home policies, decrease the number of in-studio guest bookings, and deep-clean their offices, and urged staff to keep in mind that they are “providing an important public service to our audience by functioning as a resource for all Americans.” But at least some Fox shows haven’t heeded that advice. On Friday morning as a guest on Fox & Friends, Falwell claimed that the public was overreacting to the threat of virus, incorrectly likening it to the flu. He suggested that Democrats’ attempts to raise alarm over coronavirus is just their latest ploy against Trump following their failed effort to impeach him. He even proposed, without any evidence, that North Korea could be behind the virus.

Fox & Friends host says now is ‘the safest time to fly.’ It’s not
By Daniel Funke

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, airline stocks have plummeted. Companies like Delta, American and United have cut or reduced flights. Photos show empty airport terminals around the world. On March 13, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt took those signs to mean that now is a great time to take a trip. "It’s actually the safest time to fly," she said during the Fox News morning show. "Everyone I know that’s flying right now, terminals are pretty much dead — ghost towns." As of March 12, more than 125,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 in 117 countries, with 4,613 deaths. In the United States, there have been 1,629 confirmed cases in 46 states, with 41 deaths. In a March 11 address, President Donald Trump announced a sweeping ban on travel from 26 European countries. While the White House maintains the move will slow the spread of the coronavirus, some experts doubt the restrictions will have much of an effect. PolitiFact wanted to know whether Earhardt was correct to say that now is the safest time to fly. We reached out to Earhardt for evidence, but we haven’t heard back. Official guidance on COVID-19 contradicts what she said on Fox News.

Officials warn at-risk groups against traveling
Officials are advising older Americans and those with chronic health conditions to reconsider their domestic and international travel plans to avoid COVID-19. On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are "several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel" in the U.S., including:

By John Kruzel

A full federal appeals court bench will reconsider a Democratic bid for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn, after a three-judge panel said he could defy a congressional subpoena. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday said a majority of judges had voted to vacate the panel’s ruling and hold a rehearing, which will take place April 28. The review by the full bench, a relatively rare procedural allowance, gives the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee another chance to persuade the court to enforce its subpoena against McGahn, whom lawmakers consider an eyewitness to wrongdoing by Trump. It could also yield an important separation-of-powers precedent that redraws the line between congressional oversight and White House immunity. Seven of the nine judges who will preside over the full court review were appointed by Democratic presidents. Two Republican-appointed judges were recused from the rehearing. The Friday order vacated the three-judge panel’s 2-1 decision last month that McGahn could defy Democrats' subpoenas. That ruling overturned a lower court judge who said McGahn was obligated to testify before Congress.

Reporter Yamiche Alcindor presses President Trump about disbanding the pandemic response team on the National Security Council in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the US. Source: CNN

By christina capatides

A new study in The Lancet medical journal published Wednesday found that the novel coronavirus lived in the respiratory tracts of some patients for more than five weeks. Some of the patients received antiviral medications but the drugs did not appear to shorten the virus's lifespan. The 19 doctors who authored the study analyzed the medical records of 191 patients in China (135 from Jinyintan Hospital and 56 from Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital), including the demographic, clinical, treatment and laboratory data of 137 coronavirus patients who were discharged and 54 patients who died in the hospital. They found that the virus was present in the bodies of patients with severe disease status for an average of 19 days, and inside the bodies of patients with critical disease status for an average of 24 days. Overall, the virus was detected for an average of 20 days in patients who were eventually discharged from the hospital. In the respiratory tracts of patients who died, coronavirus was detectable until death.

by Christina Wilkie, Dan Mangan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump refused to accept any responsibility for the slow rate of coronavirus testing in the United States, saying on Friday that he was “given a set of circumstances” that wasn’t meant for the high numbers of potential COVID-19 infections. “What we’ve done, and one of the reasons people are respecting what we’ve done, is we’ve gotten it done very early, and we’ve also kept a lot of people out,” Trump said during a press conference in the Rose Garden. During the briefing, NBC’s Kristen Welker asked Trump whether he took responsibility for the testing lag, which one member of his own task force called “a failing.” “No, I don’t take responsibility at all. Because we were given a — a set of circumstances, and we were given rules, regulations and specifications from a different time. It wasn’t meant for this kind of — an event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about,” Trump responded. In reality, America’s low rate of COVID-19 testing has drawn criticism from health experts around the world, who say the slow rate of testing obscures the actual rate of infection in the United States, which is likely far higher than tests have so far confirmed. During the earliest stages of the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distributed faulty tests to state and local health departments. Once the flawed tests were discovered and discarded, bureaucratic red tape held up the process of granting exemptions to private labs to make their own tests. As criticism of the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing protocol has intensified, and testing in other countries such as South Korea has outpaced the U.S. by orders of magnitude, Trump has sought to shift the blame onto his predecessor, Barack Obama. On Friday, asked about testing rates, Trump brought up the example of the 2009 swine flu, or H1N1 epidemic, in order to criticize Obama and boast of his success. “If you go back to the swine flu, it was nothing like this, they didn’t do testing like this, and they lost approximately 14,000 people. They started thinking about testing when it was far too late,” Trump said. Former Obama administration official Ron Klain, who managed the 2014 Ebola outbreak, disputed Trump’s assessment. “The Obama administration tested 1 million people for H1N1 in the first month after the first US diagnosed case,” Klain tweeted on Thursday. “The first US coronavirus case was 50+ days ago. And we haven’t event tested 10,000 people yet.”

By Caroline Kelly and Sarah Westwood, CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump announced new measures on Friday aimed at easing the burden of student loans as universities and colleges across the country shut their doors in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. "I've waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies, and that will be until further notice," Trump said during an appearance in the Rose Garden, noting the number of schools that have sent students home amid the growing outbreak. A Department of Education spokesperson said that under the new policy, any borrower with a federal loan -- including those in income-driven repayment and in forbearance -- will have interest waived until the temporary policy ends. The spokesperson added that the department does not know exactly how long the policy will be in effect. The interest will be waived automatically, the spokesperson said, and the policy will be put into effect over approximately the next week, retroactive back to Friday's announcement by the President. The news came during Trump's coronavirus press conference on Friday, where he announced that he was declaring both a national emergency and invoking the Stafford Act, which gives access to additional funding, according to a source familiar with his decision. Trump highlighted a slew of new initiatives impacting several key federal agencies. The emergency orders, Trump said, will "confer broad new authorities" to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Azar will be able to "waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals -- all hospitals -- and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus," Trump added.

Fox News brass may be taking COVID-19 seriously by banning non-essential employee travel, but several hosts are actively encouraging viewers to get out there and fly.
By Maxwell Tani, Justin Baragona

Fox News brass has prohibited its employees from all non-essential business travel amid the coronavirus outbreak. But some of the network’s hosts are sending viewers the opposite message: There’s never been a better time to travel! In a memo to staff on Thursday, Fox News executives Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace warned employees of COVID-19’s dangers and announced an internal policy “prohibiting all non-essential business travel since last Monday,” advising staff to work from home, and reducing in-studio guest bookings. The company also shared with employees a CDC advisory page cautioning against traveling to Europe and abroad. The advisory noted that while the agency does not generally issue travel restrictions in the U.S., “cases of COVID-19 have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, if there are other travelers with COVID-19.” Despite these official warnings, and the internal Fox News policy, some of the network’s hosts have decided to encourage their viewers to pick up and travel. During Friday’s broadcast of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that sparsely booked flights and near-empty airports mean “It’s actually the safest time to fly.” She added: “Everyone that I know that’s flying right now, terminals are pretty much dead. Ghost towns.” Besides claiming it’s the “safest” time to fly—during a pandemic—Earhardt also gushed over the comfort and extra space passengers will enjoy on these emptier flights. “Remember back in the day when you had a seat next to you possibly empty?” Earhardt excitedly noted. “You could stretch out a little more. It’s like that on every flight now.”

By Adriana Belmonte

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19, also known as the new coronavirus, to be a pandemic on March 11. The virus has killed thousands of people worldwide, with over 135,000 confirmed cases and over 5,000 deaths. Public reaction has been mixed — many people have been rushing to grocery stores to stock up for a potential quarantine, while others have called the responses to be an overreaction. According to Dr. Marty Makary, a medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus is something that “people need to take seriously.”
“I’m concerned when I hear a neighbor or a friend say that they’re planning to go to a kid’s swim meet in three weeks or going on vacation next week,” Makary said on Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move” (video above) on Friday. “No — we’re about to experience the worst public health epidemic since polio.”

‘Don’t believe the numbers you see’
In the U.S. there are over 1,600 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 41 deaths. Makary said that the number of cases, though, is likely much higher. “Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1,600 Americans have the virus,” he said. “No, that means 1,600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed.” He added: “I think we have between 50,000 and half a million cases right now walking around in the United States.” Part of the reason the number of cases might be higher without people realizing it is because of the shortage of coronavirus testing kits from the CDC. Between Jan. 18 and March 12, there were 13,624 tests for COVID-19 conducted in the U.S. Meanwhile, South Korea has conducted over 100,000 tests, and the U.K. has tested nearly 25,000 people.

By Christopher Flavelle

WASHINGTON — The federal government is giving local officials nationwide a painful choice: Agree to use eminent domain to force people out of flood-prone homes, or forfeit a shot at federal money they need to combat climate change. That choice, part of an effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect people from disasters, is facing officials from the Florida Keys to the New Jersey coast, including Miami, Charleston, S.C., and Selma, Ala. Local governments seeking federal money to help people leave flood zones must first commit to push out people who refuse to move. In one city in the heartland, the letters have already started going out. Last year, Giovanni Rodriguez, whose white midcentury house backs onto a creek in the southern suburbs of Nashville, got a letter saying his home “is eligible for participation in a floodplain home buyout program.” The surprise came a few lines lower: If necessary, the city “would acquire properties through the use of eminent domain.” Mr. Rodriguez, a 39-year-old freelance musician and composer of funk, R&B and Latin jazz, said he had no interest in selling — at least not for what the city is offering, which he said wasn’t much more than the $188,500 he paid for the home in 2013. “I would lose this house that I love,” he said. Eminent domain — the government’s authority to take private property, with compensation, for public use — has long been viewed as too blunt a tool for getting people out of disaster-prone areas. It has a controversial history: Local governments have used it to tear down African-American neighborhoods, as well as to build freeways and other projects over residents’ objections. Even when the purpose of eminent domain is seen as legitimate, elected officials are generally loath to evict people. Still, in a sign of how serious the threat of climate change has become, some local governments have told the Corps they will do so if necessary, according to documents obtained through public records requests and interviews with officials. Other cities have yet to decide, saying they feel torn between two bad options. The willingness to use eminent domain shows how quickly the discussion around climate has shifted. Even as President Trump publicly dismisses the scientific consensus of climate change, his administration is wrestling with how to move people out of the way of rising seas and increasingly intense rainfall. Still, threatening to push people out of their houses is an extreme step, experts said.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Andrew Gillum, the former Democratic candidate for governor of Florida and a CNN political commentator, apologized on Friday after he was found "inebriated" by police who were responding to a "possible drug overdose" in a Miami hotel room he was in, according to a police report. In a statement, Gillum said that he was in Miami for a "wedding celebration" when officers were called to "assist one of my friends." "While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines," Gillum said. "I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement." "I'm thankful for the incredible Miami Beach EMS team for their efforts," Gillum added. "I will spend the next few weeks with my family and appreciate privacy during this time." The police report said that officers, who told CNN they are not currently pursuing criminal charges, arrived to the scene just after midnight and found Gillum and a second person, Aldo Mejias, in the hotel room. Mejias, according to the police report, said he had provided a third person, Travis Dyson, a credit card on Thursday to rent a hotel room for the night. When Mejias arrived at the hotel room later that night, he discovered Dyson and Gillum inside the room "under the influence of an unknown substance," the police report said. Mejias told police he found Gillum inside the bathroom vomiting, the report said. Dyson, Mejias told police, collapsed on the bed and was "having difficulty breathing." When Mejias woke Dyson up, he "began vomiting on the bed" and collapsed, Mejias told police. According to the police report, Mejias contacted authorities after he started conducting chest compressions on Dyson.

It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.
By Peter Wehner - Contributing writer at The Atlantic and senior fellow at EPPCBy

When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent? What I explained then, and what I have said many times since, is that Trump is fundamentally unfit—intellectually, morally, temperamentally, and psychologically—for office. For me, that is the paramount consideration in electing a president, in part because at some point it’s reasonable to expect that a president will face an unexpected crisis—and at that point, the president’s judgment and discernment, his character and leadership ability, will really matter. “Mr. Trump has no desire to acquaint himself with most issues, let alone master them” is how I put it four years ago. “No major presidential candidate has ever been quite as disdainful of knowledge, as indifferent to facts, as untroubled by his benightedness.” I added this: Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe. The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American. It took until the second half of Trump’s first term, but the crisis has arrived in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s hard to name a president who has been as overwhelmed by a crisis as the coronavirus has overwhelmed Donald Trump. To be sure, the president isn’t responsible for either the coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, and he couldn’t have stopped it from hitting our shores even if he had done everything right. Nor is it the case that the president hasn’t done anything right; in fact, his decision to implement a travel ban on China was prudent. And any narrative that attempts to pin all of the blame on Trump for the coronavirus is simply unfair. The temptation among the president’s critics to use the pandemic to get back at Trump for every bad thing he’s done should be resisted, and schadenfreude is never a good look.

By Ewan Palmer

Alex Jones has been ordered to stop selling products on his InfoWars website that falsely claim to treat or cure the coronavirus. New York Attorney General Letitia James ordered the right-wing conspiracy theorist to immediately cease and desist selling and marketing products such as toothpaste and dietary supplements that claim to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jones claimed these products are a "stopgate" against the virus. Jones also falsely claimed his Superblue Toothpaste has been backed by the U.S. government and "kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range." Jones also claimed nanosilver, or colloidal silver—an ingredient in Superblue Fluoride-Free Toothpaste being sold via his InfoWars online store—is used by the government. "The patented nanosilver we have, the Pentagon has come out and documented and Homeland Security has said this stuff kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range," he said during Tuesday's edition of The Alex Jones Show. "Well, of course it does, it kills every virus. But they found that. This is 13 years ago. And the Pentagon uses the product we have." he U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) also says there is no medicine currently available to treat the virus. "As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers' anxieties," James said. "Mr. Jones' public platform has not only given him a microphone to shout inflammatory rhetoric, but his latest mistruths are incredibly dangerous and pose a serious threat to the public health of New Yorkers and individuals across the nation.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) As the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country over the last several weeks, television viewers — especially those supportive of President Donald Trump —- had one place they could go to for some sense of solace: Fox News. "If you are over the mass hysteria, if you're over politicizing and weaponizing of the coronavirus, you are not alone," Sean Hannity, the highest-rated host on Fox News, assured the network's prime time audience this week. Indeed, over the past several weeks, top hosts and personalities on the conservative cable news network downplayed concerns about the virus, baselessly accusing credible news organizations of overhyping the crisis to hurt Trump politically. At other times, Fox News hosts and personalities pointed to the death toll of the seasonal flu, misleading the network's audience into thinking that the coronavirus was receiving more attention because it is novel, while the flu in fact kills more Americans and was, thus, more dangerous and cause for alarm. That's not to say that some of the coverage on Fox News was not straightforward. The network has had a number of reporters in the field assigned to cover the coronavirus, and shows have hosted various doctors who have provided sound medical advice. Harris Faulkner, for example, hosted a special with four doctors on her program earlier this week. Additionally, some personalities have taken the situation seriously from the start. But a significant part of Fox News' coverage had been aimed toward framing the response to coronavirus as unwarranted hysteria. The often-dismissive messaging from Fox News hosts was particularly notable, given that, like other cable news channels, the viewers who make up the network's audience skew older and are, thus, the most vulnerable to the disease. The remarks from the hosts also raise concern given how much influence figures like Hannity wield over Trump, especially since Trump recycled some of those very talking points on Twitter and when speaking with the press to initially dismiss the public health crisis. By Thursday, after Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office and the seriousness of the crisis settled in with millions of Americans, it was clear some Fox News hosts and personalities started taking the matter far more seriously. But still, others have continued to pollute the airwaves with misleading information. Hannity on Wednesday night, after Trump's speech, acknowledged on his program that the coronavirus poses "a lot of serious risks and a lot of serious challenges." He noted that "in serious situations, truth matters, facts matter." But in the very same episode that he made those comments, the Fox News host continued to mislead his audience. Hannity contrasted the novel coronavirus fatality numbers with those of the seasonal flu, despite knowing that the novel virus' mortality rate is significantly higher. Hannity knew it was a misleading comparison because the night before on his program Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told him that the coronavirus is at least 10-times more lethal than influenza. Meanwhile, throughout all of Fox News' coverage, Fox Corporation, the parent company of the network, has taken the matter seriously. The company has restricted all non-essential travel. And, in a Thursday email obtained by CNN Business, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace announced several sweeping measures to protect employees, including asking staff able to work from home to do so starting Monday.

By Emily Goodin, Senior U.s. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus, according to local reports. President Donald Trump dined with Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night and shook hands with his fellow world leader. One of the major newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, Journal O Dia, reported The Guardian's Tom Phillips, had the news of Bolsonaro's positive test. Bolsonaro was checked for the disease after his aide Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for it. The results of a second test on the Brazilian president are expected to be known on Friday. The entire plane containing the Brazilian delegation to America is reported to be contaminated. On Thursday, Trump brushed aside concerns about the encounter - the latest in a series of brushes the president has had with the highly-contagious disease. Both Bolsonaro and Wajngarten, his press secretary, were at the Winter White House Saturday night. Trump and the first family have resisted going into self-quarantine despite other lawmakers who came into contact with those testing positive for the disease going into voluntary isolation. Other world leaders, too, are self-quarantining. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in a voluntary 14-day quarantine after his wife, Sophie, tested positive for the disease.

Apparently the blame lies not with the federal government for its woefully inadequate preparation.
By Bess Levin

In addition to the issues that arise from having a completely inept president whose brain matter seems to consist of Tiddlywinks and empty Coke cans, one of the biggest factors that allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold in the United States was the failure to provide adequate testing in a timely fashion. “The incompetence has really exceeded what anyone would expect with the CDC,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard told the New York Times earlier this month. People exhibiting symptoms of the virus have been turned away for testing due to federal guidelines limiting who can perform such tests, a shocking, practically criminally inadequate supply of testing kits, and, alarmingly, problems with kits that do exist. Not only has that caused the virus to spread, but it’s kept the number of confirmed cases artificially low. At present, the U.S. has conducted just 11,000 tests in total—to put that figure in perspective, South Korea is said to be testing 10,000 people per day, and China has likely tested millions by now. Yesterday, in the U.S. the CDC apparently conducted zero tests: Not surprisingly, Trump has addressed the extremely serious issue in the way he addresses most things in life: with bald-faced lies. During his first press conference on the matter, he insisted: “We’re testing everybody that we need to test,” which was obviously completely untrue. During a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he repeated the same lie, saying, “As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test [can have one], that’s the important thing.” On Thursday, following a uniquely disastrous address to the nation from the Oval Office, Trump doubled (tripled?) down, telling reporters, “Frankly, the testing has been going very smooth.” Later, when asked about people returning to the United States from abroad, he very falsely claimed that everyone is tested upon arrival:

By Noam N. LeveyStaff Writer

Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services. In previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs. But months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic. That’s making it harder for states to quickly sign up poor patients for coverage so they can get necessary testing or treatment if they are exposed to coronavirus. And it threatens to slow efforts by states to bring on new medical providers, set up emergency clinics or begin quarantining and caring for homeless Americans at high risk from the virus. “If they wanted to do it, they could do it,” said Cindy Mann, who oversaw the Medicaid program in the Obama administration and worked with states to help respond to the H1N1 crisis in 2009. One reason federal health officials have not acted appears to be President Trump’s reluctance to declare a national emergency. That’s a key step that would clear the way for states to get Medicaid waivers to more nimbly tackle coronavirus, but it would conflict with Trump’s repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the epidemic. Another element may be ideological: The administration official who oversees Medicaid, Seema Verma, head of the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has been a champion of efforts by conservative states to trim the number of people enrolled in Medicaid.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Amid colleges and universities closing their doors in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, "Fox and Friends" had Liberty University President Jerry Falwell on Friday morning to talk about his views on the pandemic. In retrospect, that was a mistake. A big mistake. Here's a piece of how Falwell, a vocal supporter of President Trump, responded to questions about the virus: "It's just strange to me how so many are overreacting. The H1N1 virus of 2009 killed 17,000 people. It was the flu also I think. And there was not the same hype. It was — you just didn't see it on the news 24/7. And it makes you wonder if there's a political reason for that. It's, uh. You know, impeachment didn't work. And the Mueller Report didn't work. And Article 25 didn't work, so maybe now this is their next — their next attempt to get Trump. But, I had the owner of a restaurant ask me last night, he said do you remember the North Korean leader promised a Christmas present? For America. Back in December. Could it be they got together with China and this is that present? I don't know, but it really is something strange going on."

   On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr claims people are "overreacting" to coronavirus, the national response is "their next attempt to get Trump," and the virus itself is a North Korean bioweapon. pic.twitter.com/2JPuNBW7C3
   — Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 13, 2020

Oh. My. God. Where to start?? First of all, the coronavirus is not a flu. It's caused by a different virus. But honestly, that is the least of the issues here. Falwell's suggestion that the media is hyping coronavirus and that it is actually not that bad deeply misunderstands the threat here. Every expert, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has made clear that this will get worse before it gets better. Some of the worst-case scenario numbers, which I am not including here, suggest an illness and mortality rate well beyond H1N1. Then there is the comparison invoked by Falwell between the special counsel investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election, the impeachment of President Donald Trump and the coronavirus.

Supporters distrust the Democratic party and are frustrated with an election system they say works against their candidate
By Ankita Rao

Ekene Okonkwo studies political science, advocates for gun control and reproductive rights, and is voting in a presidential election for the first time this year. But only if she can vote for Bernie Sanders. The 19-year-old, who studies political science and lives in the Bronx, said the Vermont senator is the only candidate she trusts to deal with the issues she cares most about – on climate change, for instance, she called former vice-president Joe Biden’s plan “unfeasible”. A vote for Biden, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee in November, would only give the party more reason to take her vote for granted, she said. “If we lose to Trump then hopefully within the next four years maybe an AOC or Rashida Tlaib would be able to run,” Okonkwo said, referring to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and another progressive politician who has gained popularity in the last two years. “Maybe there would be a better chance to save the planet.” Okonkwo is not alone in her unequivocal and uncompromising support for Sanders. She is part of a loosely connected but vocal group, sometimes uniting under hashtags like #BernieorBust or #NeverBiden who say they will not vote for Biden if he wins the nomination. While it’s nearly impossible to know how large the group is, hundreds of people have shared this sentiment, including progressive political candidates. It may be impossible to quantify their number, but not their influence. Those Democrats who will not yield to a moderate and vote for Biden if he wins the nomination are the same group who are sometimes blamed for Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 when disappointed Sanders fans sat out the general election.

A USA TODAY analysis shows there could be six seriously ill patients for every existing US hospital bed. No state is prepared.
By Jayme Fraser and Matt Wynn, USA TODAY

No state in the U.S. will have enough room to treat novel coronavirus patients if the surge in severe cases here mirrors that in other countries. A USA TODAY analysis shows that if the nation sees a major spike, there could be almost six seriously ill patients for every existing hospital bed. That analysis, based on data from the American Hospital Association, U.S. Census, CDC and World Health Organization, is conservative. For example, it assumes all 790,000 beds will be empty. Since two thirds are not, the reality could be far worse: about 17 people competing for each open bed. “Unless we are able to implement dramatic isolation measures like some places in China, we’ll be presented with overwhelming numbers of coronavirus patients – two to 10 times as we see at peak influenza times,” said Dr. James Lawler, who researches emerging diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Global Center for Health Security. Lawler added that “no hospital has current capacity to absorb that” without taking crisis care measures, such as postponing elective procedures and reserving finite resources for those coronavirus patients most likely to recover. USA TODAY’s analysis estimates 23.8 million Americans could contract COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China. That number is based on an infection rate of 7.4% – similar to a mild flu year. Experts say this infection rate is likely to be far higher. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security estimates that 38 million Americans will need medical care for COVID-19, including as many as 9.6 million who will need to be hospitalized – about a third of whom might need ICU-level care. In a February presentation to the American Hospital Association, Lawler estimated that as many as 96 million Americans could be infected. The American Hospital Association wrote to congressional leaders in February to ask for money to build hospitals and housing to isolate patients.

By Daniel Dale

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's Oval Office remarks on Thursday before a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar were so thoroughly inaccurate it was a challenge to figure out which to fact check first. We're still looking into some of Trump's claims. But here are the two we picked as most egregious:

Trump falsely claimed anybody coming into the US from Europe is being tested for the coronavirus
When a reporter noted that an American could bring back the coronavirus even with Trump's new travel restrictions on some European countries, Trump said, "Sure. But we have them very heavily tested. If an American is coming back or anybody is coming back, we're testing. We have a tremendous testing set up where people coming in have to be tested."

Facts First: It's not true that Americans or others returning from Europe "have to be" tested for the coronavirus -- and no system is being set up to actually test these returning travelers. Instead, they will be funneled to specific airports and put through an inspection known as "enhanced screening," which cannot prove whether someone has the virus. Previous US airport screening for the coronavirus has involved temperature checks, questions about travelers' health and travel history, and an inspection for symptoms like a cough or breathing trouble. The administration's statements about the enhanced screening for travelers from Europe made no mention of coronavirus tests being conducted.

Trump falsely claimed testing has been "going very smooth"
Trump was asked about a case in which a doctor in Houston reported being unable to obtain permission to get a patient tested despite the patient having "symptoms of something" and having tested negative for the flu. Trump responded that this was a mere "one case" and that "frankly, the testing has been going very smooth." He also claimed: "If you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test."

Facts First: It's simply not true that testing has been going smoothly or that, as Trump suggested, it's simple to get a test by contacting the proper authorities.

By Brian Fung, CNN Business

(CNN Business) The US Department of Defense on Thursday said it wishes to re-evaluate its decision to award the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar cloud contract with Microsoft, signaling a potential victory for Amazon in its protest of the award. The department "wishes to reconsider its award decision in response to the other technical challenges presented by AWS," it said in a court filing, referring to Amazon Web Services. The agency said it does not anticipate needing to discuss the matter with either AWS or Microsoft. The contract — called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI — involves providing cloud storage of sensitive military data and technology, such as artificial intelligence, to the Department of Defense, and could result in revenue of up to $10 billion over 10 years. Amazon Web Services lost the contract to Microsoft's Azure cloud business in October, a decision that surprised many industry experts given Amazon's leadership in the industry. Amazon filed a suit with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting the decision, arguing that it was politically motivated by President Donald Trump's dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. Earlier this month, the judge presiding over that case said that Amazon stood a substantial chance of succeeding in it protest on the merits.

By Alex Rogers, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN

(CNN) Senators are expected to leave Washington on Thursday without striking an agreement on a crucial surveillance law, setting the stage for various national security provisions to expire on Sunday. The Senate debate collapsed over whether to give some concessions to the law's critics, such as votes on their amendments to the bill overhauling the surveillance law, or to pass a temporary extension providing more time to negotiate. The Senate leadership hoped to vote on the bill as soon as Thursday and pledged that if the authorities lapsed it would only be for a short period. But its critics, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, argued that the changes didn't go far enough to fix the surveillance law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. "Senate Republican leaders are trying to ram through fake FISA amendments without any real changes," Paul tweeted. "I will object. I continue to stand with @realDonaldTrump in his reservations to this bill." Lee asked for unanimous consent for a 45-day FISA extension. Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Intelligence committee, objected. "I'll let us go dark," the North Carolina Republican said, noting that the Senate will come back next week and can soon pass the House bill.

Which is really saying something.
By Justin Peters

On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity informed the viewers of his nightly Fox News program that—and I am not being hyperbolic—the thing to know about the novel coronavirus was that the Trump administration had done a great job containing it. “No president has ever done more, acted more quickly, to slow the spread of a disease,” Hannity declared of the viral outbreak that has been deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization, prompted the suspension of most professional and amateur sports, and killed thousands of people worldwide. “We labeled it [as the coronavirus] on Jan. 7. On January 31 of this year, three weeks later, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency. No president ever acted that fast.” Go, team! Since the novel coronavirus first came to America, many marquee Fox personalities have been rushing to diminish its seriousness while simultaneously blaming everyone but the Trump administration for the virus’ rapid spread across the United States (which, of course, is not that serious). On Wednesday, as he has done all week, Hannity argued that the novel coronavirus was less of a threat than the seasonal flu. “There have been 1,200 cases of corona versus 34 million cases of the flu,” Hannity said. “As the senior director at Johns Hopkins pointed out this week, the flu is having much more of an impact than coronavirus. These are facts.” On her own program Wednesday night, Laura Ingraham echoed Hannity’s skepticism. “Where the risk is minimal, the business of America must go on,” she said. “FDR told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Earlier this week, on the Fox Business Network, host Trish Regan informed her viewers that the “chorus of hate being leveled at the president is nearing a crescendo as Democrats blame him—and only him—for a virus that originated halfway around the world. This is yet another attempt to impeach the president.” On this matter, as on so many other things, Regan, Ingraham, and Hannity are dead wrong. First of all, it beggars belief to say that the Trump administration has done an exemplary job of containing the spread of the coronavirus. “This is an unmitigated disaster that the administration has brought upon the population, and I don’t say this lightly,” Harvard Global Health Institute director Ashish Jha told Bloomberg; on Twitter, Georgetown University global health law professor Lawrence Gostin called Trump’s temporary European travel ban “incoherent.” Second, in point of fact, COVID-19 isn’t just a more mild version of the flu. It’s something different, and it is incredibly dangerous for the elderly and immunocompromised. Fox News is risking its aged viewers’ lives by downplaying the risks of COVID-19. The network’s coverage here is grossly irresponsible.

   Sean Hannity is *STILL* citing seasonal flu numbers on his show in an apparent effort to suggest it is perhaps a greater cause for concern than the coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/u332Zhr3kr
   — Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 12, 2020

But this irresponsibility with the facts should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever watched Fox News. This is, after all, the same network that insisted that Uranium One, the Steele report, and Peter Strzok’s text messages comprised the real Russia scandal; that brought the word “Burisma” into the national conversation and consistently referred to the impeachment proceedings as the “Schiff-Schumer Sham Show”; that ginned up a fearsome migrant incursion in order to drive xenophobic voters to the polls at the 2018 midterm elections; that has consistently minimized the dangers posed by man-made global warming when it has bothered to report on it at all; that has mainstreamed the notion of a vast “deep state” conspiracy against President Trump; that confers the mantle of expertise on idiots such as Dan Bongino, the ex-Secret Service agent and thrice-failed political candidate who, in the most recent episode of his podcast, urged listeners to “Take a Stand Against Coronavirus Hysteria.” The Trump-boosting minimization of the novel coronavirus pandemic may well be a new low for Fox News—but it’s also a logical extension of the network’s decades-long war on objective reality.

EXCLUSIVE: By Clarissa Ward, Katie Polglase, Sebastian Shukla, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Tim Lister, CNN

Accra, Ghana (CNN)The Russian trolls are back -- and once again trying to poison the political atmosphere in the United States ahead of this year's elections. But this time they are better disguised and more targeted, harder to identify and track. And they have found an unlikely home, far from Russia itself. In 2016, much of the trolling aimed at the US election operated from an office block in St. Petersburg, Russia. A months-long CNN investigation has discovered that, in this election cycle, at least part of the campaign has been outsourced -- to trolls in the west African nations of Ghana and Nigeria. They have focused almost exclusively on racial issues in the US, promoting black empowerment and often displaying anger towards white Americans. The goal, according to experts who follow Russian disinformation campaigns, is to inflame divisions among Americans and provoke social unrest. The language and images used in the posts -- on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- are sometimes graphic. One of the Ghanaian trolls -- @africamustwake -- linked to a story from a left-wing conspiracy website and commented on Facebook: "America's descent into a fascist police state continues."

By Jude Dry

Throughout his filmmaking career, documentarian Alex Gibney has made it his business to expose egregious abuse of power at the hands of the moneyed; from the corporate boardroom (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”), to religions that behave like pyramid schemes (“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”), and most recently to unbelievable medical hoaxes (“The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”). In “Dirty Money,” an ambitious Netflix docuseries for which Gibney serves as executive producer, the filmmaker takes aim at a corrupt landlord who has bewilderingly become one of the most powerful men in the world: Jared Kushner. The investor and real estate developer now serves as chief adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald J. Trump. But before he was the favorite child of our reigning megalomaniac-in-chief, Kushner was the head of Kushner Companies, the massive real estate company bequeathed to him by his father, Charles Kushner. The third episode in “Dirty Money” Season 2 is titled “Slumlord Millionaire.” In it, one interview subject refers to Kushner as “tier one predator,” as the rest of episode attempts to dissect exactly how Kushner may have used his position in the U.S. government to secure business deals for his private company. The episode premiered Wednesday, March 11, along with six other equally compelling one-hour investigations. For anyone who cares about government transparency, corruption, and housing rights, “Slumlord Millionaire” is well worth checking out. In the meantime, here are some of the most shocking revelations from the episode:

Charles Kushner once hired a sex worker to frame and intimidate his brother-in-law out of testifying against him.
Most people know Kushner’s father went to federal prison for 14 months in 2005. Following an investigation led by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, Charles Kushner pled guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. What most people don’t know, however, is the witness tampering charge came about because Charles Kushner hired a sex worker to seduce his brother-in-law, filmed the interaction, and had the tape sent to his sister, the man’s wife.

Kushner’s rental properties have received hundreds of health code violations, including the presence of lead paint, lung carcinogens, and fire safety hazards.
In many cases, the New York City Housing Authority issued violations but never followed up on collecting fine payments, much less to check whether or not Kushner Companies fixed the dangerous living conditions. In one case, a woman’s ceiling collapsed directly over her bed, leaving brick and cement debris. She was not home at the time, but had she been in bed, she could have been severely injured or killed.

Kushner Companies sued a single mother for breaking her lease three years after she had received written permission to do so.
In 2010, a home health care worker named Kamiia Warren got written permission from the building’s on-site manager to break her lease early after an elderly neighbor began behaving erratically. Kushner Companies did not even own her property in 2010, but sued her for breaking her lease when it bought the property three years later. Unable to find the document proving she had permission to leave, Kushner Companies got legal permission to clear out her bank account and garnish her wages.

By Ephrat Livni

Last week, five Democratic senators sent disturbing missives to three Trump administration officials about secret forces transforming the US courts and about one very powerful American lawyer in particular, Leonard Leo. You may know Leo’s name if you’re steeped in the dramas of politics and law or were paying attention to the Supreme Court nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, which he helped orchestrate. He is co-chair of the conservative and libertarian legal advocacy group known as the Federalist Society, an organization recently described in the New York Times as “a juggernaut for propelling the courts to the right.” And it is Leo’s involvement in the judge-and-justice-picking process that prompted the senators’ letters. Attorney general Bill Barr, Office of Personnel Management director Dale Cabaniss, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone all got mail. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Durbin, Sherrod Brown, Richard Blumenthal, and Mazie Hirono signed on, saying Leo’s involvement in nominating jurists while likely profiting from related fundraising activities raises concerns about conflicts of interest. They want to see governmental communications with Leo while considering new legislation on this topic.

All roads lead to Leo
Leo is at the center of a complex network of nonprofits and shell entities funded largely by anonymous donors, which the senators say is problematic. That network collected $250 million in donations between 2014 and 2017, much of which funded ads promoting judicial nominations. He appears to also have a financial interest in these advocacy efforts yet won’t disclose those earnings.

By Asma Khalid, Bobby Allyn

Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden on Thursday took direct aim at the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "The administration's failure on testing [potential cases] is colossal." "We must know the true extent of this outbreak," Biden added in prepared remarks. The United States' coronavirus testing capacity has been widely criticized by public health experts. The former vice president also said President Trump risks acerbating the spread of the virus by downplaying its severity and being "dismissive" of science. "Our government's ability to respond effectively has been undermined by hollowing out our agencies and disparagement of science," Biden said. "Our ability to drive a global response is dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and relationships around the world." The novel coronavirus has rapidly and dramatically shifted the mood and the political reality in the presidential race. Biden's Democratic rival Bernie Sanders is set deliver his own remarks responding to the virus later Thursday. In a roundtable convened in Detroit on Monday, the Vermont senator said Trump's response up until that point was making the epidemic worse. Both Biden and Sanders have called for guaranteed paid sick leave for workers. Trump has strenuously defended his administration's handling of the crisis. But Biden said that by cutting investment in global health initiatives, the Trump administration has left the country "woefully unprepared for the exact crisis we now face." "No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks," said Biden, who is trying to present himself as a calm, experienced alternative to Trump. "But I can promise you this: When I'm president, we will be better prepared, respond better and recover better. We will lead by science." The dual statements from the Democratic presidential contenders come hours after Trump addressed the nation about his administration's response to the pandemic, though it also brought additional confusion when he announced a 30-day ban on travel for foreign nationals coming to America from many European nations.

By Rob Picheta, Shasta Darlington and Jonny Hallam, CNN

(CNN) Fabio Wajngarten, the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, two sources have told CNN. Bolsonaro's health is being monitored. It comes just days after Wajngarten met US President Donald Trump in Florida. Bolsonaro's aide posted an image of himself standing with Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. He was accompanying Bolsonaro on a trip to the US, during which the two leaders dined together. Earlier in the day, the pair had spoken to reporters about the coronavirus outbreak. "I'm not concerned at all," Trump told the press. He had been asked about his attendance at the CPAC conference, where another person was also tested positive for coronavirus. Trump said he was aware of the aide's diagnosis during remarks in the Oval Office on Thursday. "We did nothing very unusual, we sat next to each other for a period of time," he added, referring to Bolsonaro. Trump on Wednesday announced sweeping travel bans for people coming into the United States from mainland Europe, as his administration attempts to tackle the ongoing pandemic.

By Brian Naylor, Roberta Rampton

President Trump on Thursday defended new restrictions on travelers from most parts of Europe, a decision that angered allies and trading partners, was questioned by some public health experts, and sent stock markets reeling. Trump told reporters that he viewed the ban as one way to protect Americans from the virus spreading, and he predicted the stock market would eventually bounce back. "It's not important compared to life and death," Trump said in the Oval Office, where he met with the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar. "You have to have separation, or this thing takes longer to go away," he said. Trump said he didn't warn European leaders before he made the decision because "it takes a long time to make the individual calls" but said he spoke to some leaders. He said Americans returning from Europe would be tested for the virus and would not be allowed in to the country if they have the virus. The DHS has said Americans and permanent residents returning to the country who have traveled in the Schengen visa region in the past 14 days will be screened, but there are no announced plans to test them for the coronavirus. "We're not putting them on planes if it shows positive," Trump said. The returning travelers are being asked to self quarantine for 14 days. Trump said the United Kingdom was excluded from the ban because "they're doing a very good job" controlling the virus. "They don't have very much infection at this point and hopefully they'll keep it that way." Johns Hopkins University tracking shows that the UK currently has 459 cases, compared to more than 1,300 in the United States, and more than 12,000 in Italy.

By Jeff Cox

The Federal Reserve stepped into financial markets Thursday for the second day in a row and the third time this week, this time dramatically ramping up asset purchases amid the turmoil created by the coronavirus. “These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in an early afternoon announcement amid a washout on Wall Street that was heading toward the worst day since 1987. Stocks were off their lows following the announcement though some of the gains were pared as the market digested the moves. Some in the market were skeptical that the move was enough, and even whether the the Fed itself had the proper tools to reverse the current market downtrend. “We continue to emphasize that this Fed will act aggressively and in particular that central banks are focused on safeguarding market functioning at this point, and will continue to provide liquidity in scale,” Ebrahim Rahbari, director of global economics at Citi Research. “However, despite the sharp initial risk rally, we think these measures will still not be sufficiently to durably stabilize market sentiment yet in light of credit concerns and escalating health concerns.”

Published Wed, Mar 11 20206:06 PM EDTUpdated Moments Ago
By Fred Imbert, Thomas Franck

Stocks plummeted once again on Thursday after President Donald Trump and the Federal Reserve failed to quell concerns over the possible economic slowdown stemming from the coronavirus, leading to historic moves in U.S. markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 1,991 points lower, or 8.5%. The index was on pace for its worst drop since the 1987 market crash, when it collapsed by more than 22%.The S&P 500 traded down 8%, joining the Dow in a bear market. The Nasdaq Composite traded 7.9% lower. “The coronavirus is scary and people don’t know what to expect,” said Kathy Entwistle, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS. “It’s like the tsunami is coming. We know it’s going to hit any day and nobody knows what the outcome is going to be.” The major averages got a brief respite after the Fed announced it will ramp up its overnight funding operations to more than $500 billion on Thursday. It will then offer more repo operations totaling $1 trillion on Friday. The Fed also expanded the types of securities it would purchase with reserves. However, stocks quickly traded back towards their session lows as investors awaited more aggressive measures to support the economy amid the virus outbreak. “These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” said the statement from the New York Federal Reserve, which conducts these operations on behalf of the Fed. Thursday’s sell-off got so bad, that trading was halted briefly after the open for 15 minutes as markets hit the mandated “circuit-breaker” threshold used by U.S. exchanges. The Dow was on pace for the sixth-worst decline in its history, according to FactSet. Even the worst one-day drop of 2008 financial crisis did not reach this magnitude.

By Jordain Carney

A staffer in Sen. Maria Cantwell's D.C. office has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Washington state Democratic senator announced on Wednesday night. The announcement marks the first known instance of a congressional staffer getting the virus and follows days of heightened anxiety on Capitol Hill. The staffer, according to a notice from Cantwell's office, has been isolated since they started to have symptoms. Cantwell is closing her D.C. office for the remainder of the week for a deep cleaning. "The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 has had no known contact with the senator or other members of Congress. The senator is requesting that testing be done on any other staffers who have been in contact with the individual and show symptoms," the notice continues.

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