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US Monthly Headline News March 2020 Page 5

By Rem Rieder

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

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

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

By Jack Dolan, Brittny Mejia

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

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

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

Rep. Susan Davis, a California Democrat, sold shares in Alaska Air and Royal Caribbean cruise lines on Feb. 11.

While Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) sought on Friday to explain sales of stock made at a time when they were reassuring the public about the coronavirus threat, they weren’t the only elected officials to buy and sell stocks at key moments in the unfolding crisis. A POLITICO review of stock sales and purchases reported by members of Congress and senior aides found that while none had engaged in sales of the magnitude of Burr and Loeffler, several had traded shares at times or in industries that bore a relationship to the coronavirus threat. Previously unreported lawmakers who sold assets in the weeks leading up to the market crash include Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), who unloaded thousands of dollars of stock in Alaska Air and Royal Caribbean cruises. A senior aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell made a mid-January purchase of Moderna, Inc., a biotechnology company that had four days earlier announced it would begin developing a coronavirus vaccine. And an aide to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sold off stock in companies including Delta Airlines in late January and later bought stock in Clorox, Inc., which makes bleach and sanitary wipes. The trades show that -- as much of the public was blindsided by both the pandemic and the economic meltdown over the last two weeks -- a number of lawmakers, aides and their brokers helping manage their portfolios adjusted their investments. Lawmakers in both chambers were being briefed via both classified and non-classified meetings about the coronavirus in late January and February, giving people on Capitol Hill a closer look at how the coming pandemic might shape their lives and finances that much of the country was lacking. “The reality is that if you work on the Hill, or you work in government, you have access to information that the public doesn't have or, if they have it, they can’t always see the signal through the noise,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of the watchdog group Issue One. “If you’re on the HELP Committee, you’re going to grasp threats much faster than the general public. You see things much more clearly.”

By Lauren Fox, Kaitlan Collins and Kristen Holmes, CNN

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

by Brian Naylor

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

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

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

By Caroline Kelly, CNN

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

Posted By Ian Schwartz

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

Italy announces 627 more deaths pushing its total to 4,032 while the worldwide tally of fatalities hovers around 11,000.
by Ted Regencia

The death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 5,000 in Europe, the new epicentre of the pandemic, with Italy, Spain and Germany reporting a steep rise in infections, and as worldwide fatalities surged past 11,000. Italy announced 627 more deaths on Friday, the biggest day-to-day increase in the country's four-week epidemic, a day after surpassing China's death toll. The total number of deaths in Italy has now reached 4,032. Spain's death toll has also increased to more than 1,000, while in Iran, the number on fatalities hit another grim milestone of more than 1,400, as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year. An estimated 235,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally and close to 10,000 have been confirmed dead, according to the World Health Organization. But the data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, showed that more than 260,000 have already been infected in 166 countries, while 87,000 have recovered mostly in China, where the outbreak first erupted. The same Johns Hopkins coronavirus monitor showed that the death toll has now surpassed 11,000 worldwide as of Saturday.

As supplies have dwindled, doctors and nurses have improvised ways to make their stock last. Now they’re urging leaders to help.
By Mariel Padilla

An intensive-care nurse in Illinois was told to make a single-use mask last for five days. An emergency room doctor in California said her colleagues had started storing dirty masks in plastic containers  to use again later with different patients. A pediatrician in Washington State, trying to make her small stock last, has been spraying each mask with alcohol after use, until it breaks down. “The situation is terrible, really terrible,” said Dr. Niran Al-Agba, 45, the pediatrician. “I don’t think we were prepared.” Dr. Al-Agba was one of hundreds of health care workers this week who appealed to the public for help confronting the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened thousands and killed more than 140 people in the United States. As hospital supplies have dwindled, the vice president has called on construction companies to donate masks, the surgeon general has urged the public to stop buying them, and experts have warned that, the more doctors and nurses who get sick, the greater strain on a system already stretched thin. Now, doctors, nurses and others are rallying on social media with the hashtag #GetMePPE, referring to personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and face shields, to put pressure on elected leaders to get them more gear to guard against infection. Some suggested that members of the public reach out to a nearby hospital if they had masks or other medical equipment to donate.

   According to management I’m wearing the last n95s available in house for now. They are telling us that we put our name on it and place it in a bag for up to FIVE days. All our airborne rooms are FULL of r/o covid and this is just in the ICU#getmeppe pic.twitter.com/ldRbAr8SLx
   — ɪ ɴ ᴛ ᴇ ʀ ʀ ᴜ ᴘ ᴛ ᴇ ᴅ (@charinterrupted) March 17, 2020

Medical professionals need a large supply of the masks because they are in direct contact with infected patients and must change their masks repeatedly. The World Health Organization’s guidelines recommend that health workers use surgical masks to cover their mouths and noses, but some hospitals require masks known as N95s, which are thicker, fit more tightly around the mouth and nose, and block out much smaller particles than surgical masks do. Charnai Prefontaine, an I.C.U. nurse in Illinois, said she’s asking the public to implore lawmakers and government officials to speed up the process of bringing resources to hospitals.

By Nikki Carvajal and Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) A staff member in Vice President Mike Pence's office has tested positive for coronavirus, Pence's spokesperson said Friday evening. "‪This evening we were notified that a member of the Office of the Vice President tested positive for the Coronavirus. Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual," said Katie Miller. "Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines." Pence has been the Trump administration's point person on coordinating the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. While the staffer is the closest confirmed case to Pence that is publicly known, it isn't his first potential brush with the virus. At least two people tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Policy Conference in Washington, which was attended by Pence as well as several lawmakers and aides. Both Pence and President Donald Trump attended the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, where a high-profile attendee also tested positive for coronavirus. Interactions with that attendee sent multiple Republican lawmakers into self-quarantine in the weeks following the conference. There is no indication that either Trump or Pence "met with or were in close proximity to the attendee" after attending the conference, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement earlier this month. As of Monday, Pence had not been tested for the virus. As the head of the coronavirus task force, the vice president has maintained fairly smooth relationships with the Democratic governors of states hit hard by the virus and projected an image of calm and organization in his near-daily appearances at the White House briefing room lectern to update the nation on the task force's efforts.

By Shane Harris, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima

U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting. The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak. Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) In an extraordinary exchange on Friday, President Donald Trump viciously attacked an NBC News reporter who asked what his message would be to Americans who are frightened by the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading across the country. The exchange, which occurred at the White House's daily coronavirus task force briefing, began when NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asked Trump whether he was giving Americans "false hope" by touting unproven coronavirus drugs. Toward the end of the exchange, Alexander cited the latest pandemic statistics showing thousands of Americans are now infected and millions are scared. Alexander asked, "What do you say to Americans who are scared?" Trump, shaking his head, ripped into Alexander in response. "I say that you are a terrible reporter," Trump replied. "That's what I say." The President proceeded to launch into an extended rant against Alexander, saying he asked a "nasty question" and assailing NBC and its parent company, Comcast. "You're doing sensationalism," Trump charged. "And the same with NBC and Comcast. I don't call it Comcast. I call it 'Con-Cast.'" "Let me just tell you something," Trump added. "That's really bad reporting. And you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism." Moments later, Kaitlan Collins, a White House correspondent for CNN, asked Trump if it was appropriate to embark on tirades against members of the news media during a public health crisis. "You see yourself as a wartime President right now, leading the country through a pandemic that we are experiencing," Collins noted. "Do you think going off on Peter, going off on a network is appropriate when the country is going through something like this?" Trump defended his verbal assault on Alexander, saying he's "not a good journalist" and launching into another rant against him.

By David Smith

Donald Trump has thrown an extraordinary temper tantrum on live television, lambasting a reporter who challenged him for raising hopes about a coronavirus treatment. Peter Alexander, White House correspondent at NBC News, asked the US president: “What do you say to Americans, who are watching you right now, who are scared?” Erupting in anger, Trump unleashed a tirade: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.” The outburst came at Friday’s White House coronavirus taskforce briefing, at which Trump announced a restriction on non-essential travel across the US-Mexico border as well as stricter controls on undocumented migrants. The president – who repeatedly downplayed the threat early in the global outbreak – has this week been hyping an anti-malarial drug, chloroquine, as a possible therapeutic treatment. “It may work, it may not work,” he said on Friday. “I feel good about it. It’s just a feeling. I’m a smart guy … We have nothing to lose. You know the expression, ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’” This was originally his campaign pitch to African Americans. Yet Trump’s “feeling”, on which he so often relies, was confronted by science when Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned that evidence of chloroquine’s benefits against coronavirus is “anecdotal” and it should not be viewed as a miracle cure. “Fundamentally, I think it probably is going to be safe, but I like to prove things first,” Fauci said. Alexander asked the president: “Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope?” The president retorted: “No I don’t think so … It may work, it may not work. I feel good about it. That’s all it is, it’s a feeling.” It was then Alexander asked for Trump’s message to people who are feeling scared and the president snapped: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter.” He added: “You’re doing sensationalism … That’s really bad reporting. You ought to get back to reporting.” Trump claimed, “I’ve been right a lot,” and barked at Alexander: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” Other correspondents asked Trump why he was assailing a reporter during a national crisis.

China recommended chloroquine for coronavirus a month back
By Bloomberg

The drug touted by the U.S. President Donald Trump as a possible line of treatment against the coronavirus comes with severe warnings in China and can kill in dosages as little as two grams. China, where the deadly pathogen first emerged in December, recommended the decades-old malaria drug chloroquine to treat infected patients in guidelines issued in February after seeing encouraging results in clinical trials. But within days, it cautioned doctors and health officials about the drug’s lethal side effects and rolled back its usage. This came after local media reported that a Wuhan Institute of Virology study found that the drug can kill an adult just dosed at twice the daily amount recommended for treatment, which is one gram. Relates to Virus Drug Touted by Trump, Musk Can Kill With Just Two Gram Dose. As the drug hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration to treat the disease known as Covid-19, the Chinese experience may be useful as the American regulator studies the medication which has been endorsed by Trump as well as Tesla Inc. chief executive officer Elon Musk. The pandemic, which has sickened more than 235,000 globally and killed over 9,800 people, has triggered growing anxiety across the U.S. as states say they lack testing kits and medical equipment. California instituted a state-wide lockdown on Thursday to slow the outbreak.

After the sales in February, the North Carolina Republican warned a group that the virus could soon cause a major disruption in the United States. Three other senators also sold major holdings around the same time.
By Eric Lipton and Nicholas Fandos

WASHINGTON — Senator Richard M. Burr sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in major companies last month, as President Trump and others in his party were still playing down the threat presented by the coronavirus outbreak and before the stock market’s precipitous plunge. The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time, disclosure records show. Two weeks after Mr. Burr sold his stocks, he spoke at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington to a nonpartisan group called the Tar Heel Club, warning that the virus could soon cause a major disruption in the United States. The gathering, which drew fewer than 100 people, included representatives from the North Carolina governor’s office, as well as staff members from other congressional offices in the state. “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything we have seen in recent history,” Mr. Burr said, according to a recording obtained by NPR, which reported on his remarks on Thursday. “It’s probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” He added: “Every company should be cognizant of the fact that you may have to alter your travel. You may have to look at your employees and judge whether the trip they’re making to Europe is essential or whether it can be done on video conference.”

CBS This Morning

Four U.S. senators reportedly sold stocks before the coronavirus sent markets plunging. Republican Senator Richard Burr sold up to roughly $1.7 million in mid-February, days after penning an op-ed assuring Americans that the U.S. was prepared to handle the disease. No charges have been filed and there is no evidence any of the four senators had insider information. Nancy Cordes reveals who the other Senators are and breaks down the details surrounding the accusations.

There’s no moving forward without understanding what’s going wrong.
By Michelle Goldberg

Last Friday, Representative Andy Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, wrote a letter signed by 56 colleagues urging Donald Trump to invoke a law called the Defense Production Act in the fight against coronavirus. Passed during the Korean War in 1950, the law lets the president direct manufacturers to make supplies necessary for national security. “It very clearly allows the president to use the same powers for a public health emergency,” Levin told me. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic is leading to a critical shortage of tests, ventilators, respirators, I.C.U. beds and protective gear for medical professionals, it seemed like an obvious move. “He has the power to get what we need,” said Levin. “And this is tens and hundreds of thousands of lives at stake in real time here.” Finally, on Wednesday, Trump invoked the law, and it briefly looked as if things were going to get moving. But later that day, he tweeted that he’s holding off on actually using the powers the law gives him: “I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!” Levin was incredulous. “The worst-case scenario is right now,” he said, adding: “This is something that is completely beyond partisanship. It’s an all-hands-on-deck crisis.” With the world plunged into the most terrifying emergency in living memory, some people, and not just right-wing hacks, are saying that now is not the time to talk about the malfeasance of Donald Trump.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday defended the Senate Republicans coming up with a proposed $1 trillion economic stimulus plan to battle the coronavirus without any input from Democrats, saying bipartisan negotiations were skipped in favor of speed. "Actually, it's speeding it up. We just passed yesterday a bill, it was written in the Democratic House of Representatives," McConnell told CNN's Dana Bash in an interview. "The Republicans are in the majority in the Senate. We wanted to put forward our proposal. We feel like we have an obligation to do that as a majority and the Democrats, of course, need to be given an opportunity to react to it and that all begins tomorrow. So don't create controversy where there isn't controversy." The emergency economic aid proposal would include direct payments to Americans under a certain income threshold, $200 billion in loans to airlines and distressed industry sectors and $300 billion in forgivable bridge loans for small businesses. The proposal's formal rollout sets the stage for Republicans and Democrats to try to reach a bipartisan agreement to move a stimulus package forward as the virus continues to spread. When Bash pushed the Kentucky Republican on whether moving forward without Democrats at the start of the process will actually slow the bill's passage, McConnell said, "This is the quickest way to get it done. Trust me, this is the quickest way to get it done, exactly the way we're doing it." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a joint statement, declared the proposal -- as written -- a nonstarter. "We are beginning to review Senator McConnell's proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers," the statement read.

By Kevin Stankiewicz

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban told CNBC on Wednesday that companies that get federal assistance in response to the coronavirus crisis should be prevented from buying back stock ever again. “No buybacks. Not now. Not a year from now. Not 20 years from now. Not ever,” Cuban said on “Squawk Box.” “Because effectively you’re spending taxpayer money to buyback stock and to me that’s just the wrong way to do that.” He also said, “Whatever we do in a bailout, make sure that every worker is compensated and treated equally — in that the executives don’t get rewarded extra to stick around because they got nowhere else to go.” On Tuesday, Cuban first argued that any assistance must be designed to reduce inequality between executives and workers. “If we are going to bail out companies, we need to make sure all employees benefit from a turnaround, not just execs,” Cuban said on Twitter.

Heard on Morning Edition
By Tim Mak

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned a small group of well-connected constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects of the coronavirus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR. The remarks from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr were more stark than any he had delivered in more public forums. On Feb. 27, when the United States had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, President Trump was tamping down fears and suggesting the virus could be seasonal. "It's going to disappear. One day, It's like a miracle. It will disappear," the president said then, before adding, "it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We'll see what happens." On that same day, Burr attended a luncheon held at a social club called the Capitol Hill Club. And he delivered a much more alarming message. "There's one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic." The luncheon had been organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a nonpartisan group whose membership consists of businesses and organizations in North Carolina, the state Burr represents. Membership to join the Tar Heel Circle costs between $500 and $10,000, and promises that members "enjoy interaction with top leaders and staff from Congress, the administration, and the private sector," according to the group's website.

In Western eyes China seems to be either Mordor or a shining city on the hill – It’s not only the rank demagogues whose words on the country we need to be wary of
by Ben Chu

Mexicans are “rapists”. Muslims should be “banned” from entering America. Black and Hispanic members of Congress should “go back” to where they came from. Immigrants hail from “shithole countries”. White supremacist groups contain some “very fine people”. The debate about whether Donald Trump repeatedly calling the coronavirus outbreak a “Chinese virus” represents an act of racism or not must surely be one of the most pointless debates since mediaeval scholastics squabbled about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Simply look at the man’s long and consistent record of xenophobia and then judge whether he’s using the label “Chinese virus” in a factual and entirely innocent way, as he insists. It’s really not worth wasting any intellectual bandwidth on this question. That’s not, of course, to deny the seriousness of the nominal leader of the free world intentionally stirring the cauldron of bigotry in this way at a time of mass anxiety, economic stress and spiking incidents of racist abuse - and even assaults - directed towards ethnically Chinese people in Western countries. Nor should we be sanguine about Trump’s tweedy epigone, Nigel Farage, ranting on Twitter that: “It really is about time we all said it. China caused this nightmare. Period.” Before we dismiss him as an irrelevance, bear in mind that some 30 per cent of the electorate voted for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party only last year and he has appeared on BBC Question Time 33 times. He tweets to 1.5 million followers. Farage may not have a parliamentary constituency, but be in no doubt: he has an audience. The words of political leaders can have real world consequences, particularly at a time when people are angry and scared. But, of course, in this age of populism, that’s precisely the point. In the case of Trump, it’s important to recognise that the President consistently uses racism as a way of distracting attention from other unhelpful subjects.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) It's a stunning reversal President Donald Trump would like Americans to forget. Only days after dismissing the coronavirus threat as a distraction, he's now assumed the title of a resolute war time president fighting an "invisible enemy" while promising to rally the nation behind him in pursuit of "total victory." Trump's new posture is in response to a crisis that is worsening by the hour and appears to be partly designed to cover up the administration's failures in distributing testing kits that have might help authorities slow the virus' advance. And it is already being undermined by his own actions. He's casting doubt over whether he will actually implement a move to invoke the Defense Production Act -- that he signed on Wednesday and that gives him authority to order industry to work towards homeland defense and national goals. In this case, it could speed the production of badly needed ventilators, masks and other supplies for hospital workers. Trump's initial decision was welcomed by state governors and representatives for frontline medical workers who fear being exposed to the virus due to shortages of protective equipment. But he later tweeted that he only signed the act "should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need." The statement caused confusion, undermined Trump's earlier adoption of a military-style campaign and raised fresh questions over whether he was still trying to downplay the possible impact of the virus on the United States. "It was so disassociated from what he said this morning at the press conference and what he said to us," said Dr. David Benton, a nursing industry representative who was at a meeting with Trump on Wednesday at which the President talked of "scaling up" medical supplies. Benton said that the President left him with the impression "that he's now using this power to meet the demands that were needed." But he added that the change in position was "very, very strange." Another pillar of Trump's messaging on Wednesday was also afflicted by uncertainty. An announcement that hospital ships will be deployed to New York and a forthcoming West Coast destination is going to happen more slowly than it first appeared. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN Wednesday that it will be several weeks before the vessels are ready. These developments are a reminder that while Trump may enjoy the ring of the title "wartime President" only his words and deeds in a moment of grave national crisis will show whether he is worthy of it. In shouldering the mantle of a wartime commander, Trump is likening the need for an escalating struggle against the coronavirus to the heroism of the World War II generation.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams have become the first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus, a grim new indicator of the virus' aggressive spread. "On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms including a fever and headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19," his office said in a news release Wednesday night. The Florida Republican said in a statement that he is "feeling much better" but urged the public to take the virus "extremely seriously." "We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times," he said. Wednesday's statement did not detail how Diaz-Balart may have contracted the disease. He was the first lawmaker to announce a positive test. Later on Wednesday evening, McAdams, a Utah Democrat, said he too had been diagnosed. "Today I learned that I tested positive," he said in a statement released on Twitter. "I am still working for Utahns and pursuing efforts to get Utahns the resources they need as I continue doing my job from home until I know it is safe to end my self-qurantine." The unsettling development underscores the unique challenge facing lawmakers as they both grapple with how to contain the spread of coronavirus throughout the US and take steps to avoid spreading it within Congress. A Republican aide told CNN that the Capitol physician is now in contact with members who might have been exposed by Diaz-Balart and McAdams. "He works with members that are getting tested ... and he consults with (the members) to map who (they) came into contact with," the aide said, referring to the Capitol physician. "He then reaches out to them and advises self-quarantine." In a letter obtained by CNN, the Office of the Attending Physician told lawmakers that the office is "carefully monitoring" the Diaz-Balart and McAdams cases, and both are in "good condition."

By Travis Gettys

President Donald Trump faced mockery after claiming the coronavirus caught his administration off guard — after claiming he had always known it was a pandemic. The president claimed Tuesday that he’d always been aware of the outbreak’s threat to public health, and praised himself the following morning on Twitter for taking the coronavirus seriously. But then he claimed the outbreak, which scientists have been watching with alarm since it originated three months ago in China, caught him by surprise. “I call it the unseen the unseen enemy, there’s a thousand different terms for it, but it snuck up on us,” Trump said, “and it’s in 128 countries, I think it’s in something like that, very close to that. think of that. So it spreads violently it’s a very contagious, very, very contagious virus for America to be on a wartime footing, in terms of fighting this virus.” President Donald Trump faced mockery after claiming the coronavirus caught his administration off guard — after claiming he had always known it was a pandemic. The president claimed Tuesday that he’d always been aware of the outbreak’s threat to public health, and praised himself the following morning on Twitter for taking the coronavirus seriously. But then he claimed the outbreak, which scientists have been watching with alarm since it originated three months ago in China, caught him by surprise. Defend democracy. Click to invest in courageous progressive journalism today. “I call it the unseen the unseen enemy, there’s a thousand different terms for it, but it snuck up on us,” Trump said, “and it’s in 128 countries, I think it’s in something like that, very close to that. think of that. So it spreads violently it’s a very contagious, very, very contagious virus for America to be on a wartime footing, in terms of fighting this virus.” The president’s claims met an instant and furious fact check.

After weeks of minimizing coronavirus, now conservatives are trying to blame Democrats for the pandemic
By Amanda Marcotte

For weeks, Donald Trump clearly believed he could lie the coronavirus away. As David Leonhardt of the New York Times carefully chronicled, starting on Jan. 22, Trump began a campaign of falsehoods geared towards tricking Americans — and especially the stock market — into thinking everything was going to be fine, this epidemic was "very well under control," that "like a miracle" the virus "will disappear" and that anyone who suggested otherwise was participating in a "hoax." Fox News and other right-wing media, in the endless infinity symbol of conservative lies, both led and followed Trump on this, blanketing red-state America with a steady drumbeat of assertions that the "liberal media" was exaggerating the crisis to hurt Trump. Furthermore, all this happened in the face of substantial evidence that Republican voters and Fox News viewers, who tend to be older and live in rural areas with poorer access to medical care, are more likely to die from coronavirus. Life, as the Twitter dorks say, comes at you fast. Coronavirus has been reported in 49 states now, and cities are going on lockdown to prevent the spread. After multiple failed stunts geared toward trying to trick investors, Trump finally held a serious press conference on the crisis Monday. All those right-wing pundits on Fox News and talk radio, being utterly shameless, have switched seamlessly from denying that we have a coronavirus problem to claiming that Trump has been showing mighty leadership — and oh yeah, trying to blame Democrats for the problem. The shift from outright denialism to North Korea-style fawning and deflecting the blame was, of course, entirely predictable. The entire right-wing noise machine, now shaped completely around the bottomless ego-flattering needs of a failed businessman who demagogued his way into the White House, has always disdained facts in favor of keeping up a relentless drumbeat of tribalist messaging to convince their audiences that they are always in the right, no matter what. Any disagreement from liberals, in this worldview, reflects their secret anti-American agenda. Still, it never stops being remarkable how shameless conservative punditry can be about insisting they were always at war with Eastasia and that we're crazy to suggest that, just yesterday, they told us we were at war with Eurasia. For instance, for weeks — and as recently as last week — Fox News host Sean Hannity continued to use the word "hoax" to describe the coronavirus crisis and suggested that public health experts were "scaring people unnecessarily." Now Hannity is singing a different tune, admitting that we "need to prepare for the worst-case scenario."

By Alex Rogers, Sunlen Serfaty and Lauren Fox, CNN

Washington (CNN) Members of Congress who are working to mitigate the spread of coronavirus around the country are as susceptible as anyone to catching the disease. So despite Republican opposition, some Senate Democrats are calling for unprecedented measures like voting away from the chamber floor and conducting committee hearings via Skype. "It's time for the Senate to wake up to the 21st century and make sure we're using technology that allows us to communicate with each other without any danger or risk to public health," Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, said on Tuesday morning. "Let us do it in the context that we are preaching to America." But in a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially killed any notion of the Senate voting from home. "We'll not be doing that," the Kentucky Republican said. He added that there are a number of ways "to avoid getting too many people together," including lengthening the time for a roll call vote. "We will deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing the Senate rules," said McConnell. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, said there is "no interest in changing the rules" among the Senate's leaders. "We're not going anywhere as long as we feel we can help mitigate the crisis," added Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee. With the coronavirus outbreak shutting down everything from bars to borders, some Democratic senators are wondering why not. Older adults are at higher risk for serious illness from the coronavirus, and the average House member is nearly 58 years old, while the average senator is nearly 63, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report. "You have to take seriously the prospect of if this goes on longer and becomes worse, that we need to be able to keep working as a Senate on a possible package, without all of us being here," said Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat.

The president tried to rewrite his history with advising Americans about the coronavirus. His own words prove him wrong.
By Katie Rogers

WASHINGTON — For weeks, President Trump has minimized the coronavirus, mocked concern about it and treated the risk from it cavalierly. On Tuesday he took to the White House lectern and made a remarkable assertion: He knew it was a pandemic all along. “This is a pandemic,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” This is what Mr. Trump has actually said over the past two months: On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” the president replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, commenting on the country’s first reported cases: “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.” On Feb. 27, at a White House meeting: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” On March 7, standing next to President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil at Mar-a-Lago, his club in Palm Beach, Fla., when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.” (At least three members of the Brazilian delegation and one Trump donor at Mar-a-Lago that weekend later tested positive for the virus.) On March 16, in the White House briefing room, warning that the outbreak would “wash” away this summer: “So it could be right in that period of time where it, I say, wash — it washes through. Other people don’t like that term. But where it washes through.” That comment on Monday was part of Mr. Trump’s inching toward a more urgent tone in recent days. But his assertion on Tuesday that he had long seen the pandemic coming was the most abrupt pivot yet from the voluminous number of claims and caustic remarks he has made about the disease. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump spent much of a lengthy news conference praising his administration’s response to the pandemic, saying the only mistake his administration made had been a mismanagement of relationships with the news media.

The president drew attention for his more somber mood at a coronavirus briefing Monday. But on Tuesday, he said, “I didn’t feel different.”

President Donald Trump denied Tuesday that he has adopted a more dire tone in confronting the coronavirus crisis, insisting that he always took the public health emergency seriously despite several past dismissive remarks regarding the threat it posed to Americans. Speaking at the White House coronavirus task force’s daily press briefing, the president was questioned by reporters about his mood at Monday’s news conference, when he struck a graver note relative to his previous appearances discussing the burgeoning outbreak. “I didn’t think — I mean, I have seen that, where people actually liked it,” Trump said Tuesday of the response to his more sober-seeming public-facing demeanor. “But I didn’t feel different,” he continued. “I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” The president has been criticized over the course of several weeks for repeatedly minimizing the coronavirus threat, while public health officials within his administration have issued urgent warnings as to the risk the disease posed to the nation. In his first statements on the coronavirus in late January, Trump said the United States had it “totally under control” and tweeted days later that it “will all work out well.” The president’s efforts to downplay the pandemic continued steadily until as recently as earlier this month. He accused the World Health Organization of producing an inaccurate mortality rate, falsely claimed that “anybody that wants a test can get a test,” and predicted that “it will go away. Just stay calm.” But the White House’s optimism seemed to dim significantly Monday, as the coronavirus continued to ravage communities and the federal government rolled out a new slate of stern guidelines intended to counter its rapid spread. Announcing the new measures, a subdued Trump lamented the “invisible enemy” facing Americans and acknowledged that “this is a very bad one.” The apparent shift in messaging coincided with the release of a report by British researchers estimating that as many as 2.2 million people in the U.S. could perish as a result of the coronavirus if drastic steps were not taken to fight its transmission.

‘Lack of Communication’
The department has struggled to maintain a foothold on the evolving crisis and to restore calm among its own people.
By Erin Banco

Officials inside the State Department say they are disturbed at the way Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior administration officials have handled the building’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the last two weeks, officials inside the department’s headquarters in Washington and in at least two embassies overseas have voiced their frustrations to superiors about the absence of information on how the department planned to prevent community spread; the scant guidance on how to handle travel and meetings with foreign officials from hotspot regions; and the lack of transparency on internal coronavirus case numbers. That’s according to five State Department officials, all of whom spoke to The Daily Beast over the last week on the condition of anonymity because they fear retribution from the secretary’s office. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment but Pompeo was set to brief reporters Tuesday afternoon. “When the cases started to jump in the U.S., there was almost zero communication on whether we should continue on with our work like normal or whether we should curtail interactions with people from countries in Asia and Europe where the virus was already killing hundreds of people,” one official said. “We knew there were conversations ongoing in the secretary’s office, but there was no transparency about how they were handling all of it.” The increasing frustration among officials at State comes as the Trump administration tries to play catch up with the rest of the rest of the world—to not only contain the virus but to treat COVID-19 patients with limited amounts of key medical supplies and equipment. The internal calls for more clarity from Pompeo’s office underscore the degree to which the department has struggled to maintain a foothold on the evolving crisis and to restore calm among its own people. Two officials who spoke to The Daily Beast did say that communication from the secretary’s office had improved over the last several days.

If you're starting to get that special "George W. Bush feeling," you're not alone. Will America learn its lesson?
by Bob Cesca

If the slow-on-the-uptake response to COVID-19 by the White House seems a little familiar to you, you're definitely not imagining it. As if we're caught in some sort of "Groundhog Day" loop in the time-space continuum, we've absolutely been here before. Cue "I Got You Babe" on the alarm clock. I realize too many Americans have gnat-like attention spans and even shorter memories, so I'll be specific. Beyond several details, the Trump presidency is looking an awful lot like the second term of the George W. Bush presidency. To his credit, Mike Pence hasn't shot anyone in the face, but we're seeing a traffic jam of similar events: a crisis with a growing death toll, a painfully tone-deaf, slow and inept government response, a financial meltdown and an out-of-control budget deficit. (Trump promised to eliminate the deficit.) Only now, it's all happening at the same time. The Republican-led geyser of insanity that landed in our laps between 2005 and 2009 is back for an encore, and it's horrifying. Trump's latest Hurricane Katrina-type blunder comes in the form of his reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, of course, which has been exacerbated by the president's lackadaisical whatevs attitude for the first several months. (The first case emerged in November.) By the way, I would argue his flaccid reaction to the 2018 California wildfires and 2017's Hurricane Maria easily qualify as his other Katrina events. Trump's version of the Great Recession also lurks around the corner — in fact, Trump agreed this week that a recession will likely happen soon. Likewise, the Dow collapsed another 3,000 points on Monday, closing at 20,188, a wafer-thin margin above the 19,827 average on inauguration day 2017, erasing all of the Trump gains. For the sake of comparison, Barack Obama presided over a 65.1 percent increase in the Dow during his first three years, while Trump has presided over a 1.6 percent gain and falling — my hunch is that Trump's record on the Dow will be in the negative territory before the end of the week. Hell, Larry Kudlow, Trump's chief economic adviser, even repeated on Monday, "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." John McCain said the exact same words in August 2008, just before the crash. Around and around we go. Trump and the Republican Senate are also responsible for a $1 trillion budget deficit, adding nearly half a trillion to the deficit in a little more than three years after the Obama administration cut the deficit by nearly a trillion dollars, from $1.4 trillion to $439 billion. The aforementioned $1.4 trillion deficit was courtesy of George W. Bush. So much for "fiscal conservatism." We can expect Trump's deficits to skyrocket even further now that the government and the Federal Reserve are bailing out businesses and extending liquidity to the banks. Another TARP could be in the works before this is all over.

Do we see a pattern here yet?
We'd have to be blind not to. For reasons that will forever confound historians, 62 million Americans, many of whom were still tangled in the nets of the previous Republican catastrophes, decided it'd be a great idea to "own the libs" by giving the Republican Party another chance at running the federal government, not to mention Congress. This time, however, they landed on a candidate with zero experience, zero aptitude for government work, zero regard for anything other than his own popularity and, as a bonus, a history of personal financial disasters including bankrupted casinos, a fraudulent university and an even more fraudulent charitable foundation.

(CNN) – As the death toll mounts from the novel coronavirus, questions are arising about whether U.S. officials might have been wrong about how it spreads. On March 1, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on ABC’s “This Week” that it’s mainly spread by people who are already sick. "You really need to just focus on the individuals that are symptomatic,” Azar said. “It really does depend on symptomatic presentation.” Regarding whether someone can spread the virus without being sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes, in part: “Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” But in Massachusetts, more than 80 people contracted coronavirus at a conference held by the biotech company Biogen. The state Department of Public Health told CNN that none of the people who attended displayed any symptoms during the conference. "We now have conclusive evidence that this disease is also being transmitted through asymptomatic carriers, or people who show no symptoms, and trying to stop that transmission is like trying to stop the wind," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. And a study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, found that in Singapore and in the Chinese city of Tianjin, infection was transmitted about two to three days before symptom onset.

By Lisette Voytko Forbes Staff

Topline: President Trump attacked the governors of Michigan and New York on Twitter Tuesday—following reports that he told the state officials to “try getting [emergency equipment] yourselves”—and after several officials blasted his administration’s sluggish response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of cases and deaths nationwide continues to climb. “Andrew, keep politics out of it,” Trump tweeted, referencing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Trump again referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus,” further feeding into what critics say are racist and xenophobic tropes—and an already festering relationship of distrust between the U.S. and China. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has criticized Trump’s coronavirus response several times, saying Wednesday that coronavirus would be “the public health version of Hurricane Katrina” and slammed the Centers for Disease Control’s initial response as “absurd and nonsensical,” before writing in a Sunday New York Times op-ed: “Every country affected by this crisis has handled it on a national basis. The United States has not.” Trump also attacked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for “failing” and that “we are pushing her to get the job done,” shortly after she said the federal government “hasn’t been prepared” and that the suggestion for states to work around the administration “because it’s too slow” is “kind of mind-boggling” in a Tuesday MSNBC appearance. Whitmer hit back on Twitter: “Attack tweets won’t solve this crisis. But swift and clear guidance, tests, personal protective equipment and resources would.” Former Democratic presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on February 28, 2020, described the federal response as “malpractice,” and in a Sunday CNN appearance said the administration was playing “catch-up” with the virus. Criticism from elsewhere: Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker tweeted on Saturday that the “federal government needs to get its s@#t [sic] together NOW,” after travelers had to wait in four-hour-long lines for medical screening at O’Hare International Airport. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted at Trump: “We have no time for your incompetence.” Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, Texas, on March 9, 2020, described the administration’s uncoordinated response as “simply stunning.” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said on March 6, 2020, the administration’s “name-calling and making inaccurate off-the-cuff comments [was] simply irresponsible.”

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