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US Monthly Headline News March 2020 Page 4

For weeks, Trump and his son-in-law saw the novel coronavirus mostly as a media and political problem. But the spiraling cases, plunging markets, and a Mar-a-Lago cluster finally opened eyes.
By Gabriel Sherman

Last Thursday, as the stock market was on the way to losing nearly 2,400 points—its biggest single-day plunge since the 1987 Black Monday crash—Donald Trump was worrying about the fate of the football season. NFL players aren’t scheduled to report to training camp for months, but according to a source, Trump feared that the league might preemptively announce it was following the NBA and NHL and suspend or delay operations due to the coronavirus. So Trump called NFL owners to see if any action was on the horizon. “Trump begged them not to cancel the season,” a source briefed on the call said. Trump’s concern for the NFL’s well-being was a stark reversal given that he spent the first two years of his presidency attacking the league and its kneeling players. It reflected Trump’s magical thinking that he could manage the coronavirus pandemic by convincing people life would remain normal and sports would be played. (Last week, Trump also spoke with Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and advised him not to cancel UFC events.) “Trump thinks this is a media problem,” a Republican close to the White House told me. Treating COVID-19 as a public-relations crisis put Trump at odds with the medical community, including the White House’s chief coronavirus adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. During an interview on Meet the Press this weekend, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases urged the United States to move toward a national lockdown similar to the actions taken by Italy and Spain. “I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting,” Fauci said. With the markets in free fall despite emergency action by the Fed over the weekend, Trump is waking up to the reality that’s been clear to everyone: Coronavirus poses a once-in-a-hundred-years threat to the country. “In the last 48 hours he has understood the magnitude of what’s going on,” a former West Wing official told me. As Trump processes the stakes facing the country—and his presidency—he’s also lashing out at advisers, whom he blames for the White House’s inept and flat-footed response. Sources say a principal target of his anger is Jared Kushner. “I have never heard so many people inside the White House openly discuss how pissed Trump is at Jared,” the former West Wing official said.

By Savannah Behrmann - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., appeared on Fox News on Monday night and walked back previous comments where he had contradicted public health experts and encouraged Americans to “go to a local restaurant” during the coronavirus crisis. Sunday, Nunes said, “There’s a lot of concerns with the economy here because people are scared to go out. But I will just say, one of the things you can do if you’re healthy – you and your family – it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant. Likely you can get in easily.” "Go to your local pub," he continued. Nunes' comments came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, saying people "should prepare to hunker down significantly." However, on Monday, Nunes, who is one of President Donald Trump’s top allies in Congress, said that "media freaks don't have a clue what's going on out in the real world" regarding the outbreak, and claimed that during his Sunday Fox News appearance, he was encouraging people to do drive-thru or takeout.

By Brendan Cole

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has faced further criticism that he was responsible for delays to legislation aimed at helping families and businesses weather the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The bipartisan Families First CoronaVirus Response Act will provide a suite of relief measures, including free testing and paid emergency leave for those affected by coronavirus. But McConnell, who tweeted on Sunday that such a package was "urgent," had been criticized for sending senators home for recess and reportedly returned to Kentucky himself before the House passed the bill. McConnell has been lambasted by leading Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was "out of touch," and Sen. Elizabeth Warren told MSNBC that the decision was "absolutely irresponsible."

   Mitch McConnell has wasted four days in the middle of a pandemic. Now Republican Senators are using procedure to cover for him. @SenatorDurbin is right – enough with the excuses. The Senate should do its job. Watch this exchange. pic.twitter.com/kT4w0lbZJk — Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) March 17, 2020

During a Senate session on Monday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown added to the chorus of criticism, saying that last Thursday "we were supposed to start working on this." "I asked Senator McConnell on this floor, I opened this door… I pointed down the hall and I said 'Senator McConnell should come back here and let's work on this bill.' Whether they are actually finished in the house, down the hall, doing it or not, we should be working on this. "Senator McConnell had to go back to Kentucky. I don't really know what he went back for. We asked him to stay and finish this and negotiate and do it, to take care of stopping this virus, to take care of all the people in my state...to take care of all these people that are losing their jobs and don't know what to do.

The president’s trust ratings regarding the pandemic rank lower than other prominent sources of information.

Few Americans trust President Donald Trump when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey, and fewer than half of respondents believe the federal government is taking sufficient steps to combat the public health crisis. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Tuesday shows that only 37 percent of those polled have either “a good amount” or “a great deal” of trust in the the information they hear from the president about the coronavirus, while 60 percent say they do “not very much” or “not at all” trust Trump’s words on the subject. Among those surveyed, the president’s trust ratings regarding the coronavirus rank lower than other prominent sources of information, including the news media, state and local governments, and public health experts. More Americans than do not disapprove of the way he is handling the pandemic, 49 percent to 44 percent, and his overall job approval rating rests at 43 percent.

Several lawmakers stalled an emergency coronavirus relief bill even though Trump has backed the legislation
By Igor Derysh

Several Republican lawmakers stalled an emergency coronavirus relief bill even though President Donald Trump has backed the legislation. Republicans delayed the bill, which would provide free COVID-19 testing and paid sick leave among other items, last week over concerns about the paid leave provision and a demand that anti-abortion language be added to the bill. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ultimately agreed to only include about 20% of workers in the bill, which does not require corporations like Amazon or McDonald's to provide any paid sick leave for their workers. The changes prompted a show of public support from Trump on Twitter, but the measure was once again stalled. The House of Representatives must first approve technical fixes to the bill's paid sick leave provision, but the process is being blocked by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. Gohmert insists that the bill be read on the floor, which would require the House to return from recess and vote again. As long as Gohmert blocks the bill from being approved by unanimous consent, the Senate cannot vote on it. House Republican leaders said they were trying to figure out a way forward with Gohmert and other members who oppose the bill. "If they want to object, that's their right," but "we're trying to walk them off the rope," a member of the House Republican leadership team told Fox News. A House aide also told Fox that it would be a "major health issue" to force lawmakers to fly back to Washington from recess. "Hell, the Senate shouldn't be here now either," the aide said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., canceled this week's scheduled recess to focus on the coronavirus relief package, but the bill's fate remains unclear even if the House is able to send the bill to the upper chamber. - Republicans do not have a problem bailing out business and the rich but do not like to help the poor and the middle class, which kind of dumb since they are the consumers that keep the business open if they don’t have money then business cannot sell their products.

‘Hoax’ Is So Last Week. Now Fox Praises Trump for Virus Emergency.
Now that Trump has been forced to take the coronavirus seriously, his Fox boosters have pivoted to praising how well he’s done. And any criticism is just partisan “politicizing.”
By Justin Baragona, Maxwell Tani

The cable-news network that for weeks seemed to refuse to take coronavirus outbreak fears seriously has pivoted to heaping praise upon the president for taking it seriously. Now that President Donald Trump has been forced to soberly address the coronavirus outbreak, after weeks of calling fears about the virus a Democratic “hoax,” some of his biggest boosters on Fox News have also moved from that dismissive talking point to a new one: Do not criticize the president while he leads us through this crisis. After weeks of downplaying fears about COVID-19 or actively spreading misinformation about its origins and repercussions, Fox News hosts and guests over the past several days have lauded the president’s handling of the global pandemic, and bashed anyone who raises concerns about the Trump administration’s response. Fox News primetime star Sean Hannity—a close confidant of the president’s who has been referred to as the unofficial White House chief of staff—dramatically changed his tune about the seriousness of the crisis at the top of his show on Monday night. Days after suggesting the so-called “deep state” was using the pandemic to hurt the American economy and push “mandated medicines,” Hannity called on all Americans to unite behind the president to overcome the crisis. “This very moment is a critical time for everybody in the country,” Hannity proclaimed in his opening monologue. “If we all joined as Americans—the virus doesn't discriminate against Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative—if we can do this for 15 days, thousands of American lives will be saved!” Less than a week after downplaying the severity of the virus by citing the then-low U.S. death toll, Hannity went on to warn how dangerous coronavirus was to the population as a whole.

Forecasters see historic job losses and deep economic pain on the horizon — but with a sharp rebound, if Congress steps up.

The early signals from the coronavirus crisis point to a scale of damage unseen in the modern U.S. economy: the potential for millions of jobs lost in a single month, a historic and sudden plunge in economic activity across the nation and a pace of sharp market swings not seen since the Great Depression. As the coronavirus outbreak ravages a paralyzed nation, Wall Street suffered another brutal bloodbath on Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average diving around 13 percent in its worst percentage loss since 1987’s “Black Monday” crash. A reading on business conditions in the New York area plunged a record 34.4 points to -21.5 in March, suggesting a recession is underway that could be sharp and deep as revenue quickly bleeds out of major industries from airlines to hotels, restaurants, bars and sports leagues. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, the broadest gauge of U.S. companies, fell 12 percent. It has shed $6 trillion in value since peaking in February, slamming retirement accounts for millions of Americans in ways that could have psychological ripples for many months to come. The last time the S&P had three days of similar wild swings was 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression. The S&P is now only around 300 points away from wiping out all its gains since Donald Trump won the White House in November 2016. President Trump himself, one of the grandest boasters of the strength and resilience of markets and the American economy, appeared to capitulate on Monday with a more somber tone reflecting the immense magnitude of the challenge facing the nation. “We have an invisible enemy,” he said, acknowledging that the virus could push the U.S. into recession. “This is a bad one. This is a very bad one.” Trump urged Americans not to gather in groups over 10 and to avoid bars, restaurants, food courts and other public spaces.

"We can’t allow one person we know who has this virus to refuse to protect their neighbors," said the Kentucky governor
By Benjamin VanHoose

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

One man who refused to follow quarantine orders despite his coronavirus diagnosis is now under guard as he’s forced to stay indoors, multiple outlets report. In a press conference on Saturday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear updated citizens on the importance of social distancing to prevent further spread of COVID-19. A resident of Nelson County initially refused to self-quarantine, prompting local authorities to enforce the isolation measures by standing guard and keeping the unidentified man in his home. “It’s a step I hoped I never had to take, but we can’t allow one person we know who has this virus to refuse to protect their neighbors,” said Beshear, according to the Associated Press. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, a law enforcement officer is on watch outside the 53-year-old’s residence. A local judge had to declare a state of emergency, according to the newspaper, in order to enforce the action. Added Beshear: “We’ve got to make sure that people who have tested positive, that we know could be spreading the virus, and simply refuse to do the right thing, do the right thing.”

By Spencer S. Hsu

The Justice Department on Monday dropped its two-year-long prosecution of a Russian company charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by orchestrating a social media campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The stunning reversal came a few weeks before the case — a spinoff of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe — was set to go to trial. Assistants to U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea of Washington and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers cited an unspecified “change in the balance of the government’s proof due to a classification determination,” according to a nine-page filing accompanied by facts under seal. Prosecutors also cited the failure of the company, Concord Management and Consulting, to comply with trial subpoenas and the submission of a “misleading, at best” affidavit by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a co-defendant and the company’s founder. Prigozhin is a catering magnate and military contractor known as “Putin’s chef” because of his ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. “Upon careful consideration of all of the circumstances, and particularly in light of recent events . . . the government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord . . . promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” federal prosecutors wrote. “The better course is to cease litigation” against Concord and a sister catering company, also owned by Prigozhin, the prosecutors said. The government added that Concord enjoys “immunity from just punishment” even if found guilty, since it has no business presence in the United States. The after-business-hours government request to dismiss — granted by U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich — brings an abrupt end to a case that was set to go to trial April 6.

The remarks about addressing the COVID-19 outbreak came the same day that the stock market hit -3,000 points.
By Sanjana Karanth

President Donald Trump said Monday that on a scale of 1 to 10, he would rate his performance in response to the coronavirus crisis at the top. During the White House’s daily coronavirus news briefing, Yahoo News reporter Hunter Walker brought up the president’s previous comments about not being responsible for the country’s lack of testing. “Very simple question: Does the buck stop with you?” Walker asked. “And on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your response to this crisis?” “I’d rate it a 10,” Trump answered. “I think we’ve done a great job.” The president also said the buck “normally” stops with him, “but this has never been done in this country.”

   President Trump on how he would rate his response to the #coronavirus outbreak in the US on a scale out of 10: “I’d rate it a 10.”#CheddarLive pic.twitter.com/Sfuu07mMps
   — Cheddar🧀 (@cheddar) March 16, 2020

The remarks came the day the Dow Jones hit -3,000 points, its worst drop in three decades, amid growing fears that the pandemic will lead to a global economic recession. In the same press briefing, Trump urged Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to stay away from public areas in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The new recommendations apply to everyone, “including the young and healthy,” for the next 15 days, he said. “We’ve made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now,” the president said. “We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it, and that’s what we are.” Despite the president’s perfect self-rating, there is evidence that his leadership has been poor during the pandemic. His administration’s failure started in 2018, when Trump disbanded the White House office specifically dedicated to preparing for a pandemic. During the Monday briefing, Trump downplayed the U.S.’s slow response to the crisis by saying the country has “a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about.” However, the U.S. confirmed its first coronavirus case almost two months ago. In an attempt to save the markets, Trump told CNBC on Jan. 22 that the U.S. had it “totally under control.” And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in February that the virus would spread throughout the country and cause “severe” disruption to everyday life, Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, falsely claimed the disease was “contained” in the U.S.

Bureaucracy, equipment shortages, an unwillingness to share, and failed leadership doomed the American response to COVID-19.
By Olga Khaza

The COVID-19 outbreak has been a confusing time for Americans, but one thing has been glaringly clear: The U.S. is way behind when it comes to testing people for the coronavirus. Despite the fact that last week, Vice President Mike Pence promised that “roughly 1.5 million tests” would soon be available, an ongoing Atlantic investigation can confirm only that 13,953 tests have been conducted nationally. New York, which has shut down Broadway and has at least 328 coronavirus cases, is still failing to test patients who have worrying symptoms. As late as March 6, a busy clinic in Brownsville, Texas, a border city of nearly 200,000 whose population crosses back and forth from Mexico frequently, told me they could test only three people. By comparison, South Korea, which has one of the largest outbreaks outside China, is testing nearly 20,000 people a day. Testing is essential for identifying people who have been infected and for understanding the true scope of the outbreak. But when the initial test from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was rolled out to state public-health laboratories in early February, one of its components was discovered to be faulty. Since then, academic, clinical, and other laboratories have struggled to get or make new tests and diagnose patients. Though some elements of the breakdown are by now understood, the full extent of the difficulties laboratory directors have faced has remained largely opaque. Interviews with laboratory directors and public-health experts reveal a Fyre Festival–like cascade of problems that have led to a dearth of tests at a time when America desperately needs them. The issues began with onerous requirements for the labs that make the tests, continued because of arcane hurdles that prevented researchers from getting the right supplies, and extended to a White House that seemed to lack cohesion in the pandemic’s early days. Getting out lots of tests for a new disease is a major logistical and scientific challenge, but it can be pulled off with the help of highly efficient, effective government leadership. In this case, such leadership didn’t appear to exist. Here are the four main reasons the testing issues have been so bad:

Some GOP senators are calling for cash payments. Democratic leadership has been slower to rally around the idea.
By Dylan Matthews

few months ago, the idea of giving every American adult $1,000 cash was a relatively fringe idea in US politics, the pet proposal of long-shot presidential candidate Andrew Yang and almost no one else in elected office. The coronavirus crisis and fears of a resulting recession have changed that situation basically overnight. While Americans received checks as part of the response to recessions in 2001 and 2008, those were sent out as rebates or refunds to taxpayers. Never before have all Americans, regardless of income, gotten checks. On Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican and former GOP presidential nominee, called for $1,000 cash payments to every American adult as coronavirus measures to keep people in their homes threaten to put millions out of work. “While expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits are crucial, the check will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options,” Romney argued in a press release. This, to be clear, is not the same as Yang’s proposal. Yang wanted monthly checks as a regular government policy, while Romney is supporting a one-off $1,000 check as an emergency measure. In that context, $1,000 might not be enough: Former Obama chief economist Jason Furman has proposed payments of as much as $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per child. But the fact that a conservative Republican is proposing unrestricted cash payments during a GOP administration — in which even heavily regulated government programs like food stamps are under attack — is notable. And Romney is not alone in this. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of the most conservative members of the Senate GOP and a likely future presidential contender, went on Fox & Friends on Monday morning to call on Congress to dispense with complicated mechanisms like tax credits and instead put “cash in the hands of affected families”:

By Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump said Monday that the U.S. may be able to get the new coronavirus outbreak under control by July or August at the earliest. Trump, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, also said his administration may look at lockdowns for “certain areas” or “hot spots” in the nation. But the president said he wasn’t considering a full national lockdown. “At this moment, no, we’re not,” Trump said. The latest daily briefing came as the number of infections and deaths from the COVID-19 virus continued to rise in the U.S., prompting drastic action at every level of government to try to mitigate its spread. Asked when the U.S. might expect to turn a corner in its efforts to rein in the virus, Trump said that “If we do a really good job, we’ll not only hold the death down to a level that is much lower than the other way, had we not done a good job, but people are talking about July, August, something like that.” Equities plunged as Trump spoke, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down nearly 13%. The coronavirus task force was originally scheduled to brief reporters Monday morning, but the event was pushed back until after 3 p.m. ET. Trump spoke at roughly the same time in the Rose Garden on Friday, where he was flanked by business leaders who unveiled their own efforts to fight the coronavirus.

By Berkeley Lovelace Jr., Noah Higgins-Dunn, William Feuer

The World Health Organization is considering “airborne precautions” for medical staff after a new study showed the coronavirus can survive in the air in some settings. The virus is transmitted through droplets, or little bits of liquid, mostly through sneezing or coughing, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, told reporters during a virtual news conference on Monday. “When you do an aerosol-generating procedure like in a medical care facility, you have the possibility to what we call aerosolize these particles, which means they can stay in the air a little bit longer.” She added: “It’s very important that health-care workers take additional precautions when they’re working on patients and doing those procedures.” World health officials say the respiratory disease spreads through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing as well as germs left on inanimate objects. The coronavirus can go airborne, staying suspended in the air depending on factors such as heat and humidity, they said.

Heard on Fresh Air
By Terry Gross


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

We're going to talk about how President Trump and some members of his administration have mismanaged the coronavirus outbreak, helping fuel the crisis. My guest Dan Diamond is a reporter for Politico who investigates health care policy and politics, including the Trump administration's coronavirus response. He's written about dysfunction and infighting within the administration and how that's slowed the response to the spread of the virus and led to some counterproductive decisions. The virus has spread to the point where, yesterday, the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, which is defined as the worldwide spread of a new disease.

Dan Diamond, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Tell us your main takeaways from the president's speech last night.

DAN DIAMOND: Well, Terry, I guess we can start with the good, such as it was. On Wednesday night, nearly two months after the first U.S. case of novel coronavirus was detected, President Trump finally treated this outbreak with the seriousness it deserves. He's given press conferences where he said the cases would effectively go away. He has posted tweets, even on Monday where he compared this to the flu. This is not the flu. The flu does not lead the National Basketball Association, the NBA, to suspend its season. I think it's a positive that the president seems to finally realize the severity of the problem. Unfortunately, his short remarks contained a lot of mistakes and misinformation. The president said that travel from Europe would be suspended for 30 days. That wasn't completely correct. The White House had to immediately walk that back. U.S. citizens and their families and legal permanent residents can still come back. The president said that cargo would be banned from Europe. That would have been a huge blow to the economy, especially given that some crucial medical supplies come from the EU. But it turned out that Trump misspoke again; cargo will still be allowed.

The president recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and also urged Americans to avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants.

President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic, releasing strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions in an increasingly urgent bid to slow the virus in the next two weeks before U.S. hospitals are overwhelmed. “We have an invisible enemy,” the president said at a news conference, where he released guidelines that called for people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people and to steer clear of eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts. “This is a bad one. This is a very bad one.” The guidelines — including a strict recommendation that anyone with even minor symptoms stay home — are not mandatory. But they were issued with a sense of alarm and a frankness that Trump has not previously displayed. The president also acknowledged that the crisis — which has already killed thousands around the world and set off a plunge of world markets — could last until July or August and even plunge the nation into a recession. No country, including the United States, has it under control, he said, though he also suggested America could limit its death toll “if we do a really good job” responding now. “Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus,” Trump said. “If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation, and we will defeat the virus, and we’re going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”

The House was expected to make technical corrections to the bipartisan measure, passed by the House early Saturday, on Monday, but Gohmert is insisting on reading them.
By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe

WASHINGTON — Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, is holding up the House-passed coronavirus relief bill and preventing it from being delivered to the Senate for a vote. The House was expected to make technical corrections Monday to the bipartisan measure, passed by the House early Saturday, but Gohmert is insisting on reading them, a Democratic leadership aide confirmed to NBC News on Monday.

   We still do not have a final draft of the negotiated changes being called ’technical corrections’ and some of us believe that the newly worded laws should be finished before we pass them. #CoronaVirus
   — Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) March 16, 2020

The technical corrections package has not yet been finalized and the House wants to pass it by unanimous consent because the House is on recess this week. If one member stands in opposition, the House can’t send the bill to the Senate without bringing the entire House back from their districts to Washington for a vote. The Senate is in session this week, but schedules have been fluid because of the coronavirus outbreak.

By Sonam Sheth

President Donald Trump on Monday told a group of governors that they should get vital equipment to treat coronavirus patients on their own. "Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves," Trump told the governors during a phone call, The New York Times reported. "We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Points of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself." The Times reported that Trump's directive took some of the governors by surprise given that states are already working overtime to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and are hoping for more federal aid. Hospitals across the US are overwhelmed as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases skyrockets. The Washington Post reported that healthcare workers were building triage tents outside emergency rooms, squeezing extra beds into break rooms and physical-therapy gyms, and calling for delays in elective surgeries — or cancelling them altogether — as they grapple with the rapidly spreading disease. At least 3,823 people in 49 US states, plus Washington, DC, and three territories, have tested positive for the virus, and at least 67 patients have died. New York alone reported 950 cases as of Monday morning. The Times reported that Trump used most of his conference call with governors to paint a rosy picture of the disease, which contradicts what scientists and public-health experts have said. "We're going to get it remedied and hopefully very quickly," the president said. "We broke down a system that was broken, very badly broken," he added, and said his administration would create a new system that "is going to be the talk of the world." Trump's comments are at odds with his own earlier statements, during which he claimed the US was well equipped to handle the virus, that it was "totally under control," and that it had been "contained."

By Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump said Monday that the U.S. may be able to get the new coronavirus outbreak under control by July or August at the earliest. Trump, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, also said his administration may look at lockdowns for “certain areas” or “hot spots” in the nation. But the president said he wasn’t considering a full national lockdown. “At this moment, no, we’re not,” Trump said. The latest daily briefing came as the number of infections and deaths from the COVID-19 virus continued to rise in the U.S., prompting drastic action at every level of government to try to mitigate its spread. Asked when the U.S. might expect to turn a corner in its efforts to rein in the virus, Trump said that “If we do a really good job, we’ll not only hold the death down to a level that is much lower than the other way, had we not done a good job, but people are talking about July, August, something like that.” Equities plunged as Trump spoke, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down nearly 13%. The coronavirus task force was originally scheduled to brief reporters Monday morning, but the event was pushed back until after 3 p.m. ET. Trump spoke at roughly the same time in the Rose Garden on Friday, where he was flanked by business leaders who unveiled their own efforts to fight the coronavirus.

By Berkeley Lovelace Jr., Noah Higgins-Dunn, William Feuer

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, citing “a lack of federal direction and nationwide standards” announced Monday they have agreed to jointly reduce density throughout the region, closing movie theaters, most restaurants and bars and limiting public gatherings to fewer than 50 people. The federal government has “been behind from day one on this crisis,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “States, frankly, don’t have the capacity or the power to make up for the federal government.” He called on U.S. officials to coordinate closings across the country, saying state and local leaders have adopted a “hodge podge” of different actions. “We have agreed to a common set of rules that will pertain in all of our states, so don’t even think about going to a neighboring state because there’s going to be a different set of conditions,” Cuomo said during a joint media call with fellow Democratic Govs. Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Phil Murphy of New Jersey on the fast-spreading COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) America's top infectious diseases expert is warning that hundreds of thousands of Americans could die unless every citizen joins an effort to blunt the coronavirus pandemic -- only to be contradicted by President Donald Trump, who insists the virus is under "tremendous" control. The fresh sign of Trump's unwillingness to accept the full, sobering reality of the outbreak came as an anxious America knuckles down to its new self-isolating reality. The country is bracing for the full fury of the virus that is already escalating sharply and is set to subject the foundations of basic life — the nation's health care, economic and political systems — to a fateful test. The number of US infections raced up to at least 3,485, including 65 deaths, up more than 500 cases in a day and up from a case load of 457 a week ago, showing how the crisis, that may not reach its peak for weeks, is accelerating. Among his tweets on coronavirus Sunday, Trump suggested that his entire focus was not on the national emergency: He tweeted that he was thinking about a full pardon for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted lying to the FBI. Earlier that day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, warned that the US could face a similar crisis as Italy if citizens do not fully embrace self-isolation and social distancing, which are designed to flatten the curve of infections. Asked whether hundreds of thousands of Americans could die, Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union": "It could happen, and it could be worse." Fauci added that the limits on public life were designed to "try and make that not happen." "If we go about our daily lives and not worry about everything," the death toll could be high, Fauci said. "People sometimes think that I'm overreacting. I like it when people are thinking I'm overreacting because that means we're doing it just right." Fauci also said he had not ruled out calling for a national lockdown in order to stem the spread of the virus. The administration is expected to release new guidelines on social distancing -- for instance relating to bars and restaurants -- on Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended not holding gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. The White House Correspondents Association, which is urging its members to work from home when possible, has instituted a seating arrangement in which every other chair in the briefing room is vacant, and there are mandatory temperature checks for anyone seeking to enter White House grounds. But serious questions remain over whether Trump's administration -- which was slow to recognize the threat, mischaracterized its impact and seemed most concerned about mitigating political damage -- has now got the federal act together. Trump flagrantly contradicted Fauci's warnings at a White House briefing Sunday at which he celebrated the Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates to 0% to help the shocked economy. "It's a very contagious virus, it's incredible, but it's something we have tremendous control of," the President said.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who faced swift backlash since tweeting a photo of himself and his children at a crowded restaurant Saturday, declared a state of emergency on Sunday as the state announced its eighth case of coronavirus. In the now-deleted tweet, Stitt said, "Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans at the @CollectiveOKC. It's packed tonight!" His post runs counter to the warnings of public health officials who are encouraging the public to stay home and practice social distancing as a way to contain the spread of the virus. As of Sunday, there was more than 3,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the US, according to government agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "For a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning. "We have to just accept that if we want to do what's best for the American public." There were at least 3,155 coronavirus cases in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Washington, DC as of Sunday afternoon. At least 62 people have died. West Virginia remained the only state without any confirmed cases. The US can expect more cases and deaths, Fauci said at a White House briefing Saturday, noting: "We have not yet reached our peak." And on Sunday he warned that America's death toll from coronavirus will depend on the nation's response and whether takes necessary action to curb the spread of the disease. Charlie Hannema, chief of communications for the governor's office, told CNN in an email that Stitt's position "has not changed from the instructions he gave Oklahomans on Thursday: Use good common sense, follow the recommended health precautions, protect the elderly and vulnerable populations, but continue to remain calm, live your life and support local businesses." "The governor will continue to take his family out to dinner and to the grocery store without living in fear and encourages Oklahomans to do the same," he continued.

The U.S. treasury secretary said there will “clearly” be an economic slowdown but that things will pick up later in the year.
By Nina Golgowski

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he doesn’t expect the coronavirus pandemic will trigger a U.S. recession, even as others ― including President Donald Trump’s former economic adviser ― say we’re likely already in one. “We’re clearly going to have a slowdown,” Mnuchin said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Later in the year, obviously the economic activity will pick up as we confront this virus.” Mnuchin said the real issue at hand is not today’s economic situation but “what economic tools are we going to use to make sure we get through this.” Trump’s former National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn, offered a bleaker immediate assessment of the economy on Friday because of a major halt in travel and consumer spending due to the virus. Fortunately, he believes there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

NEW: Despite forecasting an economic slowdown, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tells @jonkarl he does not think the coronavirus pandemic will cause a recession: “Later in the year, obviously the economic activity will pick up as we confront this virus.” https://t.co/XkLFkSaaAp pic.twitter.com/sBm0lCojMh
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) March 15, 2020

“Most likely, I’d be willing to say, we are in a recession right now,” he said on CNN. “We are having negative growth right now and the market is pricing in that uncertainty. The good news is that we are starting from a very strong start, just three weeks ago, and when we get done with this public health crisis ― and I’m convinced we will get done with it, no one knows how long ― the market will be resilient enough to recover.” Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder has also said that he “wouldn’t be one bit surprised” if data shows that a recession started this month.

By Bobby Allyn

Airline passengers returning to the U.S. were confronted with snaking lines causing hours-long delays and confusion at airports around the country starting Saturday as a result of required medical screenings now in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Frustrated travelers took to social media to gripe about the winding lines causing passenger congestion in airports including Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where some travelers reported waits of up to four hours. A U.S. senator from Illinois said he heard of lines stretching up to eight hours.

   This is the scene at O’Hare airport. The traveler who took the photo said it’s a 6-hour wait for bags then on to customs for 2-4 more of waiting in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. Police are handing out water and disinfectant wipes. @fly2ohare #ord #coronavirus #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/UTx9E0nj1s
   — Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) March 15, 2020

The Trump administration is restricting travel from 28 European countries, which now include the United Kingdom and Ireland. Europe, the World Health Organization has declared, is now the epicenter of the pandemic. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are permitted to return from those countries, but they must go through health screenings. And the mayhem set off by the implementation of the new health measure came into full view on Sunday.

The Fed took the most dramatic steps since the 2008 financial crisis to bolster the U.S. economy in the face of coronavirus.
By Heather Long

The Federal Reserve made an emergency interest rate cut to zero on Sunday, a dramatic step meant to make borrowing as cheap as possible for American households and businesses as the coronavirus brings the U.S. economy to a near standstill. The benchmark U.S. interest rate is now in a range of 0 to 0.25 percent, down from a range of 1 to 1.25 percent. The cut effectively brings the nation’s interest rate to zero as President Trump has urged for months. The Fed also announced it is re-starting “quantitative easing," a central bank did in the aftermath of the Great Recession to try to get money flowing again in markets and the broader economy. The actions came as the economy was hurtling toward a recession as the coronavirus outbreak shut down wide swaths of U.S. society. The Fed vowed Sunday to “use its full range of tools” to support the economy and the “smooth functioning of markets.” In the coming months, the Fed will purchase at least $700 billion more in bonds as part of its new quantitative easing. The majority of that, at least $500 billion, will be U.S. Treasury bonds. The rest will be mortgage-backed securities. The ultra low interest rates are expected to remain until the U.S. economy recovers from the coronavirus downturn. “The [Fed] expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events,” the central bank wrote in a statement released Sunday evening.

By Spencer Kimball

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he’s strongly considering a full pardon for Michael Flynn, after the Justice Department ordered a review of the criminal case against Trump’s first national security advisor. “I am strongly considering a full pardon,” Trump said in a Twitter post. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about the nature of his conversations with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration as president.

For the first time ever, Team Trump, so adept at lying, is confused about which lie to tell.
By Molly Jong-Fast

Team Trump has finally found itself in a crisis it cannot propagandize its way out of. Unfortunately, this has not led Team Trump (the administration and its various Fox News-based media arms) to pivot to the brash notion of telling the truth. No, of course not. For the first time ever, though, Team Trump is very confused about which lie to tell. Historically, the Trump administration and Fox News have been meticulous messengers, able to turn almost everything into a way to “own the libs.” But COVID-19 is providing Trump very few opportunities for lib ownership. Previously, before we hit the crisis stage, we got weeks of obfuscation, and the president’s conviction that “it’s going away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths.” Now, Trumpists are trying to grapple with the possibility that the global pandemic may in fact be real. As COVID-19 has decimated Italy, killed thousands of Chinese nationals, and spread like a brush fire through at least 47 states, it’s becoming harder and harder for Trumpists to deny the truth. But because they’re Trumpists, they are still trying desperately to stick to the party line. The problem is they’re not completely sure what that party line is. The Trumpists’ messaging has become completely inconsistent, vacillating between Laura Ingraham’s conviction that COVID-19 is a way for Democrats to “to smear the administration in a number of ways,” and Newt Gingrich saying that it was “the Wuhan that poisoned the world. That’s what you get when you get Chinese trade.” Trumpists seem completely conflicted between their love of racism and their passion for denial of obvious facts. How can Trumpists learn to message a pandemic they’ve been saying isn’t real for weeks? Many Trumpists will do what Jerry Falwell did Friday morning, which was to dismiss the pandemic while also using it for a little racism and conspiracy talk. After going on the president’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, and saying that people are “overreacting,” Falwell tweeted, “Could Covid-19 be the ‘Christmas gift’ North Korea’s leadership promised America back in December?” That the disease is no big deal but also the fault of North Korea is a hard needle to thread. Some won’t even bother threading it. One of Trump’s most sycophantic sycophants, Sebastian Gorka, took the opportunity to praise Dear Leader, saying that Trump "has been utterly proven correct" on the "Wuhan virus." Of course Trump has been saying for weeks that the virus would “disappear,” which is obviously not correct, as we are up to 1,700 infected today, and that’s without widespread testing that would put the real number even higher.

Google was apparently taken by surprise to hear the president announce that it was “quickly” developing a national coronavirus screening website.
By Mary Papenfuss

Vice President Mike Pence promised “specific” clarifying information Saturday after a Google statement flatly contradicted President Donald Trump’s earlier tout that the tech giant would “quickly” have a national website up to help the public with coronavirus screening. “We’re working 24/7 on this,” Pence told reporters at a White House news conference. “We’re going to have very specific details on the rollout of this new public-private partnership and testing at 5 o’clock tomorrow.” The “objective here is to have a website up very quickly,” he added. Pence said Google would launch a “pilot project” website Monday for “risk assessment.” Trump’s announcement Friday in the Rose Garden apparently took Google by surprise. The company shortly afterward issued a statement from Verily — a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet — that it has a site in “early development” that would be rolled out for testing in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the “hope of expanding more broadly over time.”

Statement from Verily: “We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing. Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time.
— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) March 13, 2020

Verily representative Carolyn Wang described the operation to The Verge Friday as a “triage website” that was intended for health workers, not the general public, but that’s now being changed. The site was also intended to primarily be a mapping aid so users can type in their address and find the closest location for testing. It will only be able to direct people to “pilot sites” for testing in the Bay Area, though Verily hopes to expand that beyond California “over time,” she said.

Pundits such as Sean Hannity are struggling to maintain an information bubble while they praise Trump.
By Nick Robins-Early

Right-wing media outlets and pundits spent weeks dangerously minimizing the severity of the coronavirus and claiming that accurate reports on the outbreak were part of a liberal conspiracy to defame President Donald Trump. But now that the reality of the virus as a public health crisis and economic disaster is becoming unavoidable, some partisan media outlets have refocused on a different message: Trump is doing a great job of handling a serious outbreak. He’s always been doing a great job. The pivot began after Trump gave his first national address about the coronavirus on Wednesday night and declared a travel ban on a number of European countries. Although Trump’s confusing statements did not address key issues like the dearth of tests for the virus in the U.S., the speech contained the most direct remarks he has made so far acknowledging the severity of the outbreak. But the damage may have already been done. Right-wing outlets and personalities diminishing the coronavirus could lead to more illness and more deaths if the public ignores warnings from health officials or credible news reports. Given that Fox’s viewers tend to be older, they are also especially vulnerable for coming down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. These attempts by the partisan media to downplay the crisis could quite seriously put lives at risk. Now these outlets and media figures are facing a challenge: how to maintain an information bubble that calls any criticism of Trump a liberal hoax, while there are clear and tangible effects of the coronavirus on everyday lives. It was one thing to argue Trump did nothing wrong when he solicited foreign aid in an election, but as markets plummet, major events are canceled, schools are closed, and workers are sent home, it’s nearly impossible to ignore that something very bad is happening on the president’s watch.

"Haphazard and helter-skelter": The president's son-in-law inserted himself into the tumult this week
By Bob Brigham

This article originally appeared on Raw Story:

The president's son-in-law and senior advisor was the focus of a hard-hitting Washington Post deep-dive titled, "Infighting, missteps and a son-in-law hungry for action: Inside the Trump administration's troubled coronavirus response." "The economy was grinding to a halt. Stocks were in free fall. Schools were closing. Public events were being canceled. New cases of the novel coronavirus were popping up across the country," the newspaper reported. "And then, on Wednesday, the day the World Health Organization designated the coronavirus a pandemic, Jared Kushner joined the tumult." "President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser — who has zero expertise in infectious diseases and little experience marshaling the full bureaucracy behind a cause — saw the administration floundering and inserted himself at the helm, believing he could break the logjam of internal dysfunction," The Post reported. While Vice President Mike Pence is officially leading the administration's response, Kushner has been playing an outsized role in recent days.

Two Tennessee brothers who bought 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer and sold some of them for as much as $70 each to profit off the coronavirus outbreak say they have received death threats after being shamed on social media. Matt and Noah Colvin of Hixson, Tenneseee, drove 1,300 miles across the state and neighboring Kentucky earlier this month after the first coronavirus death was reported in the United States. Seeing a lucrative business opportunity, they filled a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes that they ‘cleaned out’ from various Dollar Tree, Walmart, Staples and Home Depot locations. In total, they spent between $10,000 and $15,000 stocking up on the items which are now in demand thanks to the global pandemic that has killed thousands and will likely infect many more. 'The bulk of it was purchased just driving around to retail stores in the Chattanooga area,' Matt Colvin told WRCB-TV.

The communication chaos on coronavirus is eroding the most powerful weapon we have: Public trust
By Carolyn Y. Johnson and William Wan

Amid an outbreak where vaccines, drug treatments and even sufficient testing don’t yet exist, communication that is delivered early, accurately and credibly is the strongest medicine in the government’s arsenal. But the Trump administration’s zigzagging, defensive, inconsistent messages about the novel coronavirus continued Friday, breaking almost every rule in the book and eroding the most powerful weapon officials possess: Public trust. After disastrous communications during the 2001 anthrax attacks — when white powder in envelopes sparked widespread panic — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a 450-page manual outlining how U.S. leaders should talk to the public during crises. Protecting vulnerable people from a virus that, according to some projections, could infect millions and kill hundreds of thousands, depends on U.S. leaders issuing clear public health instructions and the public’s trust to follow directions that could save their lives.

By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) The coronavirus crisis is hurting America's retail industry, so many stores are shutting their doors or reducing their hours.
Walmart (WMT), the largest retailer in America, said Saturday that it will will modify its store hours in response to the pandemic, while other retailers plan to temporarily close stores. Beginning Sunday, all of Walmart's more than 4,700 US stores will be open from 6 am to 11 pm until further notice. The company said the shortened hours will help employees restock shelves overnight and clean stores. Thousands of Walmart stores are already operating under shortened hours.

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