US Monthly Headline News March 2020 Page 6
The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration.By DAN DIAMOND and NAHAL TOOSIThe Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago. “Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?” the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. “If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?” The strategies are among hundreds of tactics and key policy decisions laid out in a 69-page National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics, which POLITICO is detailing for the first time. Other recommendations include that the government move swiftly to fully detect potential outbreaks, secure supplemental funding and consider invoking the Defense Production Act — all steps in which the Trump administration lagged behind the timeline laid out in the playbook. “Each section of this playbook includes specific questions that should be asked and decisions that should be made at multiple levels” within the national security apparatus, the playbook urges, repeatedly advising officials to question the numbers on viral spread, ensure appropriate diagnostic capacity and check on the U.S. stockpile of emergency resources. The playbook also stresses the significant responsibility facing the White House to contain risks of potential pandemics, a stark contrast with the Trump administration’s delays in deploying an all-of-government response and President Donald Trump's recent signals that he might roll back public health recommendations. “The U.S. government will use all powers at its disposal to prevent, slow or mitigate the spread of an emerging infectious disease threat,” according to the playbook’s built-in “assumptions” about fighting future threats. “The American public will look to the U.S. government for action when multi-state or other significant events occur.” The guide further calls for a “unified message” on the federal response, in order to best manage the American public's questions and concerns. “Early coordination of risk communications through a single federal spokesperson is critical,” the playbook urges. However, the U.S. response to coronavirus has featured a rotating cast of spokespeople and conflicting messages; Trump already is discussing loosening government recommendations on coronavirus in order to “open” the economy by Easter, despite the objections of public health advisers.
Heather Swift, the deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at DHS, was moved to a senior post at the National Endowment for the Arts.By DANIEL LIPPMANThe White House removed a top public affairs official at the Department of Homeland Security in a move that shocked many in the department as it takes a lead role in handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to two former senior DHS officials familiar with the matter. Heather Swift, who was DHS’ deputy assistant secretary of public affairs, was abruptly pushed out of her position on Friday after the Presidential Personnel Office raised questions about her loyalty to President Donald Trump, said one of the former DHS officials. The personnel office may have discovered some old social media posts that officials there did not like, this person said, though POLITICO was unable to find any examples of posts the Trump administration might find objectionable. Swift, who has not yet left the department, is moving to a top communications job at the National Endowment for the Arts, a detour well outside the administration’s power corridors. The transfer represents a fresh blow to Swift’s career aspirations: Several months ago, after serving for a few months in an acting capacity as the top public affairs official at DHS, she angled for that job permanently — only to be disappointed when she was not promoted, according to a Trump administration official. The position instead went to Dirk Vande Beek, a veteran communications strategist who came from the Department of Energy and also worked on the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. Since taking over PPO, 29-year-old John McEntee has asked Cabinet agencies to probe the records of political appointees and ferret out any who might show signs of disloyalty to the president. McEntee, a former college quarterback known for his trick plays and a longtime Trump favorite, has also come under fire within the administration for recently hiring three college seniors for sensitive jobs.
Trump administration 'ignored' advice of National Security Council's 2016 pandemic 'playbook', a color-coded step-by-step plan which urged buying masks early onBy Lauren Fruen For Dailymail.comDonald Trump and his administration are said to have 'ignored' the advice of the National Security Council's 2016 pandemic 'playbook'. The 69 page guide used a color-coded step-by-step plan to urge buying masks early on, told government to adopt a 'unified message' and instructed them to question testing capabilities, Politico reports. A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response, an Associated Press review found. Doctors and nurses are now so desperate for personal protective equipment amid the viral pandemic that they’ve turned to the public for help in making them, saying do-it-yourself face masks are better than nothing. And the president has spent the last week going against the advice of medical experts and suggesting the lockdown could be lifted as soon as Easter. Trump told Fox News: 'Nobody ever expected a thing like this.' A spokesman for the NSC told Politico: 'We are aware of the document, although it’s quite dated and has been superseded by strategic and operational biodefense policies published since. 'The plan we are executing now is a better fit, more detailed, and applies the relevant lessons learned from the playbook and the most recent Ebola epidemic in the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] to COVID-19.' A health department spokesperson said the current strategy is dictated by more recent guides. But the handbook asks early one: 'Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?' It adds: 'Early coordination of risk communications through a single federal spokesperson is critical. 'We recommend early budget and financial analysis of various response scenarios and an early decision to request supplemental funding from Congress, if needed. 'What is our level of confidence on the case detection rate? Is diagnostic capacity keeping up?' It emerged earlier this month that President Trump ignored warnings from US intelligence agencies about the threat of a coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in The Washington Post. One intelligence official and several Trump Administration officials spoke to the publication on the condition of anonymity, claiming the President downplayed the COVID-19 threat in spite of growing anxiety from aides and members of his own cabinet throughout January and February. 'Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it,' one official stated, adding: 'The system was blinking red.' Officials were first alerted to reports about cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China on January 3, after a director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke with Chinese colleagues. 'Ominous, classified warnings' purportedly put together by the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence began to increase over the course of the month. 'There was obviously a lot of chatter in January,' one of the officials told The Post.
Guardian NewsDonald Trump shot down suggestions his push to 're-open' the USA by Easter is to boost his election chances, despite contradictory advice from health officials. The president also talked down the idea of testing all Americans, preferring to focus on coronavirus hotspots.
OUTBURSTThe president seemed restrained throughout most of his latest White House briefing on the coronavirus—until a reporter dared to question his plan to reopen the economy by Easter.By Hunter Woodall - Politics ReporterPresident Donald Trump lashed out at a reporter Wednesday when pressed on whether his hope to have the country “opened up” by Easter amid the coronavirus pandemic has more to do with politics than public health. “The media would like to see me do poorly in the election,” Trump said after being asked at a White House briefing to explain the basis for his plan to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions by Easter. Trump kept the criticism up when pressed further over the fact that experts have said following that timeline isn't prudent. “Just so you understand, are you ready? I think there are certain people that would like it not to open so quickly. I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls,” Trump said. He went on to claim there are people in the media who want a prolonged shutdown to happen as he pointed to two different reporters he accused of writing “fake news.” Before the heated exchange, much of the Wednesday briefing by the Coronavirus Task Force was focused on touting congressional efforts to pass large-scale legislation to help aid the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the president’s response to his Easter timeline being questioned stemmed from a presidential tweet he’d sent out earlier in the day. True to form, the president took to social media to complain, with no evidence, that reporters were the “dominant force” in the country trying to keep the country “closed as long as possible” so that it would hurt his re-election chances in November.
He singled out Gov. Ron DeSantis for harsh criticism over his coronavirus response.By MARC CAPUTO and MATT DIXONMIAMI — Joe Biden lauded seven governors — drawn from both parties — by name on Monday, praising their leadership during the coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday, he singled out one for sharp criticism: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. In doing so, Biden managed to highlight both the crucial role Florida plays in the presidential race, and the equally critical role it occupies in the national debate over responding to the coronavirus crisis. After images of drunken spring-breakers partying amid a contagion were broadcast nationally, DeSantis — a protégé of President Donald Trump — was thrust into the vanguard of Republican governors balking at issuing a broad shelter-in-place order to limit the spread of the virus. As the state’s coronavirus caseload has increased, so has the criticism of DeSantis, making him an inevitable target for Biden in a state Trump must carry in order to win the White House. “Floridians deserve science-based action from Governor Ron DeSantis,” Biden said in a written statement that faulted the “absence of leadership from President Trump.” “While other large states continue to take strong, urgent, and sweeping action to stop the spread of COVID-19, Florida has not. I urge Governor DeSantis to let the experts speak to the public and explain why this is the case,” Biden said. “In this moment of growing uncertainty and anxiety, Floridians want — and deserve — to hear from the public health officials leading the charge.”
By David Williams, Christina Zdanowicz and Konstantin Toropin, CNN(CNN) Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says the campus "looks like a ghost town" and that reports that the school is reopening are overblown. The private evangelical Christian university drew sharp criticism this week for allowing students to return to the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus during the coronavirus crisis. In an interview with CNN New Day's Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday, Falwell said that most students did not return to campus after last week's spring break. "Liberty did not reopen. Liberty has between 1,000 and 2,000 students on a campus built for 15,500 and almost a thousand are international students who have nowhere else to go," he said. "Others have no place else to be except in their dorms." Falwell said he doesn't know how many students have returned to their off-campus apartments. As of Tuesday afternoon, about 1,900 students have returned to campus out of the student population of 14,000 to 15,000, university spokesman Scott Lamb said. University officials are prepared for about 5,000 students to return to campus, Lamb said.Classes to be held onlineThe university has taken steps to enforce social distancing in response to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's statewide order on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus, Falwell said, adding many of the details were just settled on Tuesday. Academic buildings are open, but all classes will be held online, and professors will be working from home, Falwell said. "The campus has become more like an apartment complex than a university. All the education is being done online. All the restaurants are serving takeout only. We are wiping down every surface that is touched off on every hour, we have extra police," he said. Falwell said campus officials met all last week to make sure that the few students that did return would be as safe as possible. "It looks like a ghost town ... and the reason some of them are leaving now to go back and study at home is because none of their friends are here," he said. The governor's order, which went into effect late Tuesday, bans gatherings of more than 10 people and closes nonessential businesses and shuts down all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year. Northam expressed concern after learning the university was allowing students back on campus.
Any changes affecting constitutional guarantees afforded federal criminal defendants in the U.S. would ultimately be up to Congress.By Bethania PalmaOn March 21, 2020, the national politics news website Politico reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had drafted legislative proposals aimed at reducing the burden on the federal court system during the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic, but which would also result in incursions on the constitutional rights of defendants, if passed. According to the publication:The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated. In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.” The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies “in a consistent manner.”As often happens, the most salient aspect of this report was picked up and aggregated by various other websites, with attention-grabbing headlines like this one on the liberal-leaning site HillReporter: “Trump’s Justice Department Wants To Suspend Habeas Corpus.” The stories circulating online prompted readers to ask Snopes to verify whether the claim is true. It’s true DOJ has proposed legislation that would grant nationwide authority to federal judges to extend deadlines and pause or suspend statutes of limitation, which are essentially court-case deadlines that afford the accused speedy trials. The DOJ, which consists of federal litigators, is part of Republican President Donald Trump’s executive branch. However, per a DOJ statement, these proposed powers would not be conferred upon the executive branch. The proposal would apply to federal district judges and would expire with the end of the national emergency brought by the pandemic. Whether the proposal will be adopted is unknown, and it would have to clear a Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives first.
By Katie Wadington - USA TODAYThe claim: A meme claims that no Democrats voted in favor of a coronavirus stimulus packageA meme that went viral on Facebook states: "Not ONE DEMOCRAT, not ONE ... voted for the Stimulus package." It was posted late on March 22. USA TODAY has reached out to the Facebook user who posted the meme and has yet to hear from him.Senate votesLet's look at what votes had occurred on coronavirus-related legislation at that time. That evening, the Senate was stalled on a coronavirus economic stimulus bill, failing to pass an initial procedural hurdle by a 47-47 party-line vote. The motion needed the votes of at least three-fifths of the full Senate, or 60 votes. The vote at hand is called cloture – a procedural vote to move forward with debate on an under-discussion stimulus package and toward a yea or nay for final approval. Speaking on the Senate floor before the March 22 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the final bill was not yet ready, saying “discussions continue on the package.” McConnell, R-Ky., set up a vote anyway, one that was doomed to fail without Democratic support. His effort was also hurt by the absence of five Republican senators who were self-quarantining. The cloture vote came up again on March 23, and failed 49-46, with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama voting to move the stimulus package forward.
By Michelle Fay Cortez and Claire CheHydroxychloroquine, a medicine for malaria that President Donald Trump has touted as a treatment for coronavirus, was no more effective than conventional care, a small study found. The report published by the Journal of Zhejiang University in China showed that patients who got the medicine didn’t fight off the new coronavirus more often than those who did not get the medicine. The study involved just 30 patients. Of the 15 patients given the malaria drug, 13 tested negative for the coronavirus after a week of treatment. Of the 15 patients who didn’t get hydroxychloroquine, 14 tested negative for the virus. The results of the study weren’t statistically significant. Hydroxychloroquine, particularly when given with the antibiotic azithromycin, has received widespread attention following a controversial, small study of about 40 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in France. In that study, the drug appeared to help clear the virus from the bodies of 26 patients who were given the medication, based on samples taken from nasal swabs. Experts have criticized the design of the study, calling it interesting but far from definitive. Trump has said several times that he is confident the medicine will work. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence also touted the drug at a White House event. “Doctors can now prescribe chloroquine for that off-label purpose of dealing with the symptoms of coronavirus,” Pence said. “The president’s very optimistic.” Top scientists, including White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci, have called reports that hydroxychloroquine might work anecdotal, and said they need further study before the pill’s use is encouraged.
By Mike CaliaPresident Donald Trump’s businesses are barred from getting loans or investments under the new $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus deal, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The Trump Organization, which the president has not divested, is run by his two elder sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. The company controls several hotels, resorts and golf clubs, including Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. The resort closed last week, during its peak season. Lawmakers and the White House reached an agreement early Wednesday after days of tense, roller-coaster negotiations that added to uncertainty in markets. Democrats and other critics of the president were concerned that Trump’s businesses would receive bailout money because the tourism industry is one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus, which has spurred leaders to restrict travel and companies to cut capacity and close up shop. The measure will also ban businesses controlled by Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members and lawmakers from receiving the funds, according to details circulated by Schumer, D-N.Y. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said early Wednesday the chamber would vote on the bill later in the day. If approved by the Senate, the bill faces action in the Democratic-led House.
GIVE ME LIBERTY AND DEATHThe Lynchburg city manager said that the university’s president, Jerry Falwell, was not “totally transparent” with her about opening up the dorms again.By Lachlan Markay, William Bredderman, Olivia MesserWhen Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. announced Monday that he was reopening the school’s residence halls to students amid the coronavirus pandemic, he implied that he had received the blessing of officials in Lynchburg, Virginia, to do so. “They thanked us for making that decision,” Falwell told the Liberty University News Service, describing a call to move classes online but also, in his words, to get his students “back as soon as we can—the ones who want to come back.” In fact, Lynchburg City Manager Bonnie Svrcek says that while she did thank Falwell for moving to online classrooms, she was led to believe that the school was also abandoning plans to invite students back into residence halls following spring break. Neither she nor Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy said they signed off on Falwell’s decision to re-open Liberty’s dorms. On Tuesday, Svrcek told The Daily Beast that Falwell was not “totally transparent” with her or Tweedy during an exchange on March 16 in which, according to Svrcek, Falwell told the two leaders that his school would “move to an online platform.” “He added that some food services would remain open for on-campus international students who have not gone home and some lab classes and the school of aviation will continue,” Svrcek told The Daily Beast. “The mayor and I thanked him for this shift that we believed meant that students would be told to not come back to campus with a few exceptions.” That Falwell chose to go forward without the blessing of the city officials wasn’t surprising. He is perhaps Donald Trump’s most unapologetic ally in evangelical Christian circles, and the president himself is eager for schools, businesses, and public establishments to reopen and get the country past its coronavirus-induced economic slump. But for some students at Liberty, the notion that they will now be coming back from various parts of the country to mix and mingle in one shared campus was less than appealing, and yet another sign that their college president was putting loyalty to Trump over other considerations. “It seems like [Falwell] wants everything to be open pretty quickly, following Trump. I saw this morning that [Trump] wants businesses to reopen,” said one Liberty senior, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of retaliation by Liberty administrators. “Jerry literally follows anything that Trump says.” Falwell has consistently downplayed the severity of the coronavirus crisis, even suggesting that nationwide efforts to control its spread represent a plot to undermine the Trump presidency. Last week, however, he did move the school to online classes while keeping it open for students who wished to return to campus or who, in the cases of some international students, simply had nowhere else to go.
By Debra HeineSeveral days after President Trump touted the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as promising treatments for COVID-19, the governor of Nevada has signed an emergency order barring the use of the drugs to fight the disease. Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement on Tuesday that there’s no consensus among experts that the drugs can help people suffering with the coronavirus. “This emergency regulation protects Nevadans who needs these drugs for legitimate medical purposes. At this point in time, there is no known cure for COVID-19 and we must not withhold these drugs from those who need them,” Sisolak said in a statement. “The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home for Nevada, not to stockpile these drugs.” Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been used safely for decades to treat malaria and amebiasis, diseases that are rare in the United States. The president touted chloroquine as a promising treatment for coronavirus, during a briefing at the White house, last Thursday. Trump said the drug has shown “very, very encouraging early results,” and vowed to make the drug available “almost immediately.” Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, later clarified that the drug still needs to be tested to make sure it can be used safely to treat COVID-19 in the United States. A small clinical study in France has yielded promising results, and a larger trial is being conducted in Europe to evaluate chloroquine and three other experimental treatments to fight the coronavirus. One American who was suffering with COVID-19 claims that hydroxychloroquine saved his life. Rio Giardinieri, a 52-year-old Florida man, thought he was at the end of his rope after suffering with “a fever for five days, horrendous back pain, headache, cough,” and extreme fatigue for more than a week.
'This Is a Massive Scandal': Trump FDA Grants Drug Company Exclusive Claim on Promising Coronavirus Drug"It is insane and unacceptable," said Bernie Sanders. "We will not tolerate profiteering. Any treatment or vaccine must be made free for all."by Julia Conley, staff writerAs healthcare providers across the U.S. desperately attempt to treat a rapidly growing number of patients with the coronavirus, a pharmaceutical company with ties to the Trump administration has been granted exclusive status for a drug it is developing to treat the illness—a potential windfall for the company that could put the medication out of reach for many Americans. As The Intercept reported Monday, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences "orphan" drug status for remdesivir, one of several drugs being tested as potential treatments for the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The designation is generally reserved for drugs that treat rare illnesses affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans—but companies can be eligible if the designation, as in this case of a rapidly spreading virus, is made before a disease spreads beyond that limit."It is insane and unacceptable that the Trump administration has given the Gilead pharmaceutical corporation a seven-year monopoly on a potential coronavirus treatment. We will not tolerate profiteering. Any treatment or vaccine must be made free for all." —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)About 40,000 Americans had contracted COVID-19 when the orphan status was granted to remdesivir Monday, and the disease is spreading faster in the U.S. than in other countries. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 51,000 Americans had confirmed cases. Having secured orphan drug status, Gilead Sciences can now profit exclusively off the drug for seven years and could block manufacturers from developing generic versions of the drug which might be more accessible to many patients. The company can set price controls on the drug as well as benefiting from grants and tax credits.
By Ben YakasDuring a Fox News town hall-style appearance this afternoon, Donald Trump shot back at Cuomo, claiming falsely that the governor "rejected buying recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for a pandemic, established death panels and lotteries instead.""He's supposed to be buying his own ventilators" -- Trump is now attacking Andrew Cuomo for saying the federal government should do more to provide New York with needed medical gear pic.twitter.com/qPGd6diWm1— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020Trump appeared to be reading from an article published by Gateway Pundit, a website which MediaBiasFactCheck said has an "extreme right wing bias, [has promoted] conspiracies and numerous instances of publishing false (fake) news." The Washington Post has noted that Gateway Pundit "has a track record of stirring up controversy and generating clicks with a number of stories that quickly fell apart." As you can see below, Trump literally read the headline on air. Pretty sure Trump just used Gateway Pundit as a source for his oppo hit on Gov. Cuomo during his Fox News coronavirus townhall.And my god this whole thing is wildly irresponsible. pic.twitter.com/9k69foHPk4— Lis Power (@LisPower1) March 24, 2020A spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo pointed out that the "16,000 ventilators" number which was cited in the op-ed came "bizarrely" from a section in the 2015 report on ventilator guidance about what would happen if "an influenza pandemic on the scale of the 1918 pandemic" were to occur. "[Trump] obviously didn’t read the document he’s citing—this was a five year old advisory task force report, which never recommended the State procure ventilators—it merely referenced that New York wouldn't be equipped with enough ventilators for a 1918 flu pandemic. No one is, including Mr. Trump," said Cuomo's director of communications Dani Lever.
By Oliver Darcy, CNN BusinessNew York (CNN Business)Anchors at Fox News failed to meaningfully challenge President Trump as he repeatedly misled the network's viewers during a virtual town hall on Tuesday, effectively surrendering its airwaves to the President as he even appeared to cite a conspiratorial outlet to argue his case. While Fox News is known as the home to such pro-Trump hosts as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, Tuesday's town hall was held by Bill Hemmer and Harris Faulkner, two anchors the network bills as members of a supposedly fearless and hard-hitting news division. But neither Hemmer, who is the chief breaking news anchor at Fox News and was broadcasting from the White House, nor Faulkner, who was broadcasting remotely from a studio, effectively pushed back on Trump during the two-hour event -— despite obvious misinformation peddled by the President. Trump, for instance, repeatedly compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu. "We've never closed down the country for the flu," the President said. Hemmer, however, repeatedly failed to note that Covid-19 has a significantly higher mortality rate than the seasonal flu. The World Health Organization has estimated the mortality rate to be 3.4%. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, has estimated that it is about 2%. Fauci even previously told Fox News, "The mortality for seasonal flu is 0.1% so even if [Covid-19] goes down to 1% it's still 10 times more fatal." At another point during the interview, Trump said he would "love" for the country to "open by Easter" on April 12. Instead of challenging Trump, and noting that his deadline is at odds with what many medical professionals and infectious disease experts have said, Faulkner replied, "Oh wow. OK." Hemmer added, "That would be a great American resurrection." After being criticized online for his failure to follow up, Hemmer came back from a commercial break and asked Trump the question again: "You'd like to be back to normal by Easter Sunday. That's 19 days from now. Is that true? Is that possible?"
'No functioning economy unless we control the virus': Lindsey Graham, Liz Cheney warn Trump not to ease guidelinesBy William Cummings - USA TODAYWASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would like to ease the guidelines urging non-essential businesses to close in order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus by Easter. But some Republican allies and his former Food and Drug Administration chief are warning him against such a move. A day earlier Trump said he fears the economic costs of the response could be more destructive than the virus itself. "This was a medical problem, we are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem," the president said. But former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the economy cannot succeed amid a rampant outbreak. "There’s a strong and understandable desire to return to better times and a functioning economy. But it should not be lost on anyone that there's no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as covid-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities," he tweeted. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., shared Gottlieb's post and echoed his concern. "There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus," she said. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally to the president urged him Monday not to "back off aggressive containment policies within the United States." Graham shared an article from The Washington Post about Trump's apparent embrace of the growing argument from conservative media personalities that the cure was becoming worse than the disease. "When it comes to how to fight #CoronavirusPandemic, I’m making my decisions based on healthcare professionals like Dr. Fauci and others, not political punditry," Graham tweeted.
By Kevin BreuningerPresident Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants the U.S. economy to “open” back up by Easter Sunday, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country accelerates. Easter is April 12, less than three weeks away. Trump’s remarks in a Fox News “virtual town hall” event at the White House came as more states imposed extreme measures, including shutting down businesses and ordering residents to stay home, to try to slow the spread of the disease. “We’re opening up this incredible country. Because we have to do that. I would love to have it open by Easter,” Trump said. “I would love to have that. It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’d love to make it an important day for this. I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go by Easter.” The number of people found to have the virus, which causes the COVID-19 illness, has increased significantly in recent days, as testing kits have been made more available to states. In the U.S., at least 46,500 cases and 590 deaths from the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
By JAMELLE BOUIE - The New York TimesFirst, President Donald Trump ignored the coronavirus, dismissing its threat to the public. Then briefly he took it somewhat seriously. He gave an address from the Oval Office, followed by one of the more sober-minded news conferences of his administration. A day later, he was back to his usual antics, attacking the press, amplifying propagandists and spreading misinformation. He has even promised a miracle cure. Now, as it becomes clear that this is not a momentary crisis — that the economy may have to come to a standstill to keep the disease from overwhelming the country — Trump appears ready to quit altogether, even if it costs thousands upon thousands of American lives. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” the president said (or screamed) on Twitter late Sunday night. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” Subsequent reporting from Jonathan Swan of Axios confirmed that the administration is looking to relax guidelines for public gatherings, in order to bring the economy back online: “Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals that there’s light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won’t be endless.” If the United States had the strict testing regime of South Korea or Taiwan — if it knew the full extent of the outbreak and had the resources to selectively quarantine the sick and the contagious — then you could imagine a return to normalcy in the next month or so, as most people began to go back to work and the vulnerable stayed home. But that is an unlikely, best- case scenario, more dream world than reality.
Top House Republican: 'There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed'By Alex Rogers, CNNWashington (CNN)Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said on Tuesday that the US must address its health care crisis in order to restore the economy, as some of President Donald Trump's allies push to reopen the country despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. "There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what's necessary to stop the virus," Cheney wrote on Twitter. The comments from Cheney, who represents the at-large US House seat in Wyoming, came as Trump considers lifting some guidelines meant to protect the public from the virus.
By Stephanie Kelly, Susan HeaveyNEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A week after millions of Americans began taking shelter at home from the coronavirus, states warned on Tuesday against easing restrictions too soon even though the clampdown is devastating the U.S. economy. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was considering how to restart business life when a 15-day shutdown ends next week, even as the highly contagious virus spreads rapidly and poorly equipped hospitals struggle with a wave of deadly cases. A Republican, Trump is seeking to win re-election in November on a promise of economic growth. Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat whose state of New York has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with 25,665 cases, strongly opposed allowing people to travel, socialize and get back to workplaces too quickly. “If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it’s no contest. No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life,” he said at a convention center in Manhattan that is being repurposed to fit beds for coronavirus patients. Cuomo said the projected need for hospital beds in New York at the peak of the outbreak has jumped to 140,000, compared with the 53,000 that are available and that the apex of the outbreak could still be 14-21 days away Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, told CNN on Tuesday: “We don’t think that we’re going to be in any way ready to be out of this in five or six days or so, or whenever this 15 days is up from the time that they started this imaginary clock.”
Putting the health of the stock market over that of millions of Americans is just one more pivot for this president. Hopefully he'll change his mind again.By Robert SchlesingerIt hadn’t yet been a week since Donald Trump declared himself a “wartime president” before he was itching to declare victory and thus end his sacrifices and the nation’s. Of course, it had only been a spare seven days since Trump had pivoted from coronavirus optimist to steely-eyed epidemiological commander-in-chief: On March 15, the pandemic was “something that we have tremendous control over,” but less than 24 hours later he had declared it a “very bad” situation, requiring Americans not to gather in crowds of more than 10 people for at least 15 days. We were, after all, facing “the toughest enemy: the invisible enemy.” But war is a bummer and so is a crashing economy — especially if you have to hold news conferences instead of campaign rallies (while your sons are busy shuttering your own hotel businesses and your friends’ and donors’ stock portfolios tank). So by Monday, our wartime president was equivocating about the necessity of really fighting the enemy to its firm defeat: We’ll “reassess” at month’s end the restrictive social distancing measures that public health officials agree is the only remaining way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which he finally started only last week after blowing off most other preparations. “America will again and soon be open for business,” Trump said in his Monday briefing. “Very soon.” Explicitly cutting against health experts’ advice, Trump is embracing the chic new philosophy of the economic right: Death happens, live with it. “The cure can’t be worse than the disease, and we’re going to have to make some difficult tradeoffs,” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Monday. Later in the evening, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox's Tucker Carlson: “No one reached out to me and said, 'As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?' And if that is the exchange, I'm all in.” (How very “Logan’s Run” of him.) This might be Trump’s greatest pivot yet: turning the self-anointed pro-life party into one of death-tolerance. It’s true that all public policy involves some level of cost-benefit analysis, but few people really think Trump is capable of such nuance. Even if he were, how could we really analyze those costs? We haven’t taken the infection curve’s measure, let alone started to bend it. And the cure — social distancing — isn’t the real problem for the economy anyway: “The thing damaging our economy is a virus,” as Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, told The New York Times. “Everyone who is trying to stop that virus is working to limit the damage it does to our economy and help our eventual rebound.”
O'Rourke slams Texas official who suggested grandparents risk their lives for economy during pandemicBy Aris FolleyFormer Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) tore into Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) after the state official said he was willing to risk his survival for the good of the U.S. economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and added that he thinks other grandparents felt the same way. “This kind of numbnuttery will kill people in Texas. Young as well as old,” O’Rourke, a former 2020 Democratic presidential contender, tweeted on Monday night in reference to Patrick’s earlier remarks. O’Rourke went on to call for Texas to implement a shelter-in-place order to help mitigate the spread of the virus in the state, which has reported more than 400 coronavirus cases, according to the latest data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We need a state-wide shelter in place order to stop the spread of coronavirus and save hundreds of thousands of lives,” O’Rourke tweeted.This kind of numbnuttery will kill people in Texas. Young as well as old. We need a state-wide shelter in place order to stop the spread of coronavirus and save hundreds of thousands of lives. https://t.co/C8r9Q7t2vs— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 24, 2020During an interview on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program earlier Wednesday evening, Patrick, who turns 70 next week, said he is willing to risk his life amid the coronavirus outbreak if it helps the economy.
The Democratic super PAC went up with a new ad on coronavirus in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on Tuesday.By MAYA KINGOne of the Democratic Party's main 2020 super PACs is attacking President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak with new TV ads airing in four key swing states. The new ad from Priorities USA Action, which plans to spend $6 million on TV and digital ads condemning Trump’s response to Covid-19, began running in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida on Tuesday and features Trump quotes juxtaposed against a graph showing the number of positive coronavirus tests in America. At the end of the ad, footage plays of Trump saying, during a Rose Garden press conference at the White House, “I don’t take responsibility at all." The ad marks a new front in the political battle over government response to the coronavirus. There has been relatively little TV advertising on the pandemic so far, with some scattered ads showing up in the Kentucky Senate race and the West Virginia governor's race so far. In a statement, Priorities USA chairman Guy Cecil said Trump had "repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger."
By EJ Montini, Arizona RepublicOpinion: Trump touts the possibility of chloroquine, a malaria drug, to fight COVID-19, but it's not there yet. Don't try to treat yourself, as happened with a local couple. Let doctors do their work. President Donald Trump wants to provide Americans with the most optimist view possible at his press briefings. (Others might call it bizarre, even delusional.) Whatever you choose to believe, however, when it comes to medical information or drug treatment, do … not … listen to Trump. He is most definitely not a doctor. If fact, do not listen to anyone who isn’t one of the nationally recognized experts leading the COVID-19 fight, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Trump spoke about chloroquineNow a Valley man has died and his wife is seriously ill because they tried to mix up their own anti-coronavirus medication based on some of the stuff they’d heard on TV. The couple are in their 60s. They took a chemical called chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. It was days after a news conference in which Trump spoke about chloroquine as possible a COVID-19 therapy. The woman, whose husband died, told NBC News they mixed their own concoction because, "We were afraid of getting sick.” She said within 20 minutes of taking the chemical they were "dizzy and hot." Then she said, "I started vomiting. My husband started developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand." Now, to the rest of us, she says, "Be careful and call your doctor. This is a heartache I'll never get over."Treatment is not based on a 'feeling'Trump has been talking about chloroquine. At a news briefing last week he said it showed “very, very encouraging early results” and said “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn tried to tamp down the president’s enthusiasm, saying the drug would be available “in the setting of a clinical trial — a large, pragmatic clinical trial — to actually gather that information and answer the question that needs to be answered and — asked and answered.” Trump said, “It may work, it may not work. I feel good about it. That’s all it is. Just a feeling.”
The cancellation of an 89th birthday party for Rupert Murdoch highlights a disconnect between his family’s behavior and statements made on air by some Fox commentators.By Ben SmithIf you were watching some of the commentators on Fox News and Fox Business in the first 10 days of March, you wouldn’t have been too worried about the coronavirus — it would be no worse than the flu, and the real story was the “coronavirus impeachment scam.” Many of the networks’ elderly, pro-Trump viewers responded to the coverage and the president’s public statements by taking the virus less seriously than, a week later, everyone else had. Public health experts have said that some of them may die as a result, as I reported this week. But one elderly Fox News viewer, a crucial supporter of President Trump, took the threat seriously: The channel’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, who was to celebrate his 89th birthday on March 11. On March 8, as the virus was spreading, the Murdoch family called off a planned party out of concern for the patriarch’s health, according to a person familiar with the cancellation. There were about 20 people on the guest list. The person who told me about the canceled party did so to highlight the disconnect between the family’s prudent private conduct and the reckless words spoken on air at their media company. The canceled party is perhaps the most glaring instance of the gap I wrote about this week between the elite, globally minded family owners of Fox — who took the crisis seriously as reports emerged in January in their native Australia — and many of their nominal stars, who treated the virus as a political assault on Mr. Trump, before zigzagging, along with the president, toward a focus on the enormity of the public health risk.
Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham served up a triple shot of absurdity.By Aaron RuparFirst, Fox downplayed the coronavirus threat for weeks. Then, two weeks ago, their anchors abruptly pivoted. But on Monday night, the network’s coverage of the crisis slid back off the rails in spectacular fashion. All three of the shows making up the network’s top-rated primetime lineup — Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham — featured segments about the coronavirus that ran with misinformation President Trump has embraced, from advocating that people start thinking about heading back to work even if it could leave more people dead to promoting unproven and potentially dangerous drugs as coronavirus cures. Trump and his high-profile backers are struggling to come to grips with the reality that there are no shortcuts back to normalcy. And now shows watched by millions could put a lot of people’s health and lives in danger. “Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.” Tucker Carlson’s Monday night broadcast came on the heels of Trump’s marathon news conference — one in which he insisted that he plans to reopen the American economy next week even though 138 Americans died from the coronavirus on Monday, the most on a single day yet. Carlson, however, didn’t seem particularly bothered by Trump’s position that trying to revive the economy is just as important as saving lives through social distancing. And during his interview with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), the quiet part was said loudly. “My heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the president say,” Patrick said. “My message is, let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it. And those of us who are 70-plus [years old], we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.” “So you’re basically saying that this disease could take your life, but that’s not the scariest thing to you. There’s something that would be worse than dying?” Carlson asked. “Yeah,” Patrick replied.Tx Lt Gov Dan Patrick says grandparents would be willing to die to save the economy for their grandchildren pic.twitter.com/wC3Ngvtsbj— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) March 24, 2020Patrick’s position, in short, is that after just a week of social distancing measures, older Americans like him — the demographic experts believe are most at risk of dying due to Covid-19 — should be willing to risk death to get the economy going again. And in that respect, his thinking echoed the president’s, who claimed on Monday that keeping the economy shut down “causes other problems, and maybe it causes much bigger problems than the problem we’re talking about now.”
BY RICHARD CHUMNEY The News & AdvanceLYNCHBURG — As the coronavirus threatens to spread across the Lynchburg region, Liberty University officials are preparing to welcome back up to 5,000 students from spring break this week. Defying a national trend of campus closures, President Jerry Falwell Jr. has invited students to return to residence halls and has directed faculty members to continue to report to campus even as most classes move online. In an interview Sunday night, Falwell said somewhere between several hundred to more than 5,000 students are expected to live in campus dorms, where they will continue coursework online rather than in classrooms. Meanwhile, hundreds of professors and instructors without a valid health exemption will come to campus to hold office hours. “I think we have a responsibility to our students — who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here — to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for and to not interrupt their college life,” Falwell said. Falwell’s decision leaves Liberty as an outlier among the scores of colleges and universities across the country that have shut down to help limit the spread of the disease known as COVID-19. The threat of the coronavirus became more immediate for the Lynchburg region this weekend when the Virginia Department of Health announced cases in Amherst and Bedford counties. Statewide, as of Monday evening, more than 250 people have contracted the disease and seven have died.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large(CNN) Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made a political career on his unapologetic conservatism and willingness to, well, just say stuff that other politicians won't. He was at it again on Monday night in an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson. On the heels of President Donald Trump beginning to suggest that the time for lessening social distancing and other restrictive measures to slow the spread of coronavirus may have arrived, Patrick took things a step further. Here's what he said (Bold is mine): "I am living smart, listening to the President, the CDC guidelines like all people should, but I am not living in fear of Covid-19. What I'm living in fear of is what's happening to this country. And you know, Tucker, no one reached out to me and said as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that's the exchange, I'm all in. "And that doesn't make me noble or brave or anything like that, I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country, like me, I have six grandchildren, that what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children. And, I want to, you know, live smart and see through this, but I don't want the whole country to be sacrificed. And that's what I see. I've talked to hundreds of people, Tucker, and just in the last week, and making calls all the time and everyone says pretty much the same thing, that we can't lose our whole country. We are having an economic collapse. I'm also a small businessman --- I understand it, and I talk with business people all the time, Tucker, and my heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the President say, because we can do more than one thing at a time. We can do two things. So, my message is that, let's get back to work, let's get back to living, let's be smart about it, and those of us who are 70 plus, we will take care of ourselves but don't sacrifice the country. Don't do that. Don't ruin this great American dream." Now, let's not mince words here: What Patrick is saying is that people over 70 would rather die (or greatly increase the odds they might) in order for the economy to get up and running again. That America's economy is worth more than the lives that would be lost. Which is a slightly more blunt way of saying what the President has been saying over the past 48 hours. "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF," he tweeted Sunday night (and then retweeted Monday). "AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!"
“Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country,” Patrick told Tucker Carlson.March 24, 2020, 12:00 AM PDTBy Jamie KnodelDan Patrick, Texas’ Republican lieutenant governor, on Monday night suggested that he and other grandparents would be willing to risk their health and even lives in order for the United States to “get back to work” amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country,” Patrick said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”#ICYMI — I was on @FoxNews with @TuckerCarlson tonight. Click here to watch: https://t.co/potQsjdBID#txlege pic.twitter.com/2xLxYQQZVZ— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) March 24, 2020His comments followed President Donald Trump’s statements about the country returning to business in weeks rather than months. Patrick, who said he will turn 70 next week, said that he did not fear COVID-19, but feared that stay-at-home orders and economic upheaval would destroy the American way of life.
By: abc15.com staff, ABC News staffPHOENIX — Banner Health experts are warning the public against using "inappropriate medications" after a Valley man died and his wife was hospitalized after taking chemicals they believed could help protect against coronavirus. On Sunday, the man and his wife, both in their 60s, took chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used to clean fish tanks, and within 30 minutes experienced effects that required admittance to a nearby Banner Health facility. The man died and his wife remains under critical care, according to a hospital spokesperson. The woman, who was able to throw up the chemicals, is likely going to survive, said the spokesperson. The woman reportedly told hospital staffers that she and her husband ingested the product after reading a "fake" article online and saw symptoms shortly after taking it. “Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director. “The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”
Dr Linda Quick was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who helped track, investigate and contain outbreaks.Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the administration of US President Donald Trump eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing that was intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters news agency has learned. The American disease expert Dr Linda Quick, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China's disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases mounted, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping experts from the United States from entering the country to help. "It was heartbreaking to watch," said Bao-Ping Zhu, a Chinese-American who served in that role, which was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2007 and 2011. "If someone had been there, public health officials and governments across the world could have moved much faster." Zhu and the other sources said Quick was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicentre of outbreaks to help track, investigate and contain diseases. As an American CDC employee, they said, Quick was in an ideal position to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the US and the rest of the world on the coronavirus outbreak and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier. No other foreign disease experts were assigned to lead the programme after Quick left in July, according to the sources. Zhu said an embedded expert can often get word of outbreaks early, after forming close relationships with Chinese counterparts.
By Devan Cole, CNNWashington (CNN) Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Monday defended his decision to not self-quarantine while he awaited the results of his coronavirus test, a move that has been met with criticism and concern after he announced a day earlier that he had tested positive for the virus. "For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol," Paul said in a statement. "The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested." Paul's office announced on Sunday that he tested positive for the virus and that he was "feeling fine," but some senators and aides are angry at him for not doing more to self-quarantine earlier and for potentially exposing senators to the coronavirus. In the wake of Paul's diagnosis, Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah self-quarantined on Sunday. GOP senators told CNN Paul was in the gym with colleagues Sunday morning, and several pointed out how close Paul had sat to others during Senate lunches in recent days. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said he saw Paul in the Senate swimming pool Sunday, according to a source in the GOP lunch. Paul is the first senator to test positive for the virus. The senator had attended a major black-tie social event in Louisville, Kentucky, two weeks ago where several attendees have subsequently tested positive, including the wife of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. His office said he sought to get tested "out of an abundance of caution." Following Paul's statement on Monday, West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told CNN that her fellow senator's actions concern her because "his office is right next door to mine."
Senate Democrats ripped a GOP proposal to give the Trump administration $500 billion in funds for companies with little oversight.By JOHN BRESNAHAN and MARIANNE LEVINEAs Senate Democrats went to the floor Sunday night to vote — the first time they’d been there in days — they had one thing on their minds: a secret “slush fund” for Corporate America. That’s what Democrats are calling a $500 billion “Exchange Stabilization Fund” included in the massive Senate GOP proposal to rescue the U.S. economy from the coronavirus crisis. The fund, which would come under the control of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is designed to aid distressed industries. It includes $58 billion for U.S. airline and air cargo companies, a source of significant controversy during the last three days of closed-door talks between senators of both parties and the White House. But the language drafted by Senate Republicans also allows Mnuchin to withhold the names of the companies that receive federal money and how much they get for up to six months if he so decides. That was way too much for Democrats, many of whom lived through the political furor surrounding the 2008 financial-services industry bailout. They remember facing the populist backlash and being pounded by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. They aren't going to do it again. “We’re gonna give $500 billion in basically a slush fund to help industries controlled by Mnuchin with very little transparency? Is that what we ought to be doing?” asked Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii.). “We're not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends,” railed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who made corporate accountability a big part of her White House campaign. “We're here to help workers, we're here to help hospitals. And right now, what the Republicans proposed does neither of those. “ Even moderate West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin lashed out at the Republicans over the lack of controls on the Exchange Stabilization Fund. “It’s throwing caution to the wind for the average person working on Main Street, it’s balls to the walls for the people working on Wall Street,” Manchin declared. “It’s the same ol’ story from Mitch McConnell.”
As bigots blame them for the coronavirus and President Trump labels it the “Chinese virus,” many Chinese-Americans say they are terrified of what could come next.By Sabrina Tavernise and Richard A. Oppel Jr.WASHINGTON — Yuanyuan Zhu was walking to her gym in San Francisco on March 9, thinking the workout could be her last for a while, when she noticed that a man was shouting at her. He was yelling an expletive about China. Then a bus passed, she recalled, and he screamed after it, “Run them over.” She tried to keep her distance, but when the light changed, she was stuck waiting with him at the crosswalk. She could feel him staring at her. And then, suddenly, she felt it: his saliva hitting her face and her favorite sweater. In shock, Ms. Zhu, who is 26 and moved to the United States from China five years ago, hurried the rest of the way to the gym. She found a corner where no one could see her, and she cried quietly. “That person didn’t look strange or angry or anything, you know?” she said of her tormentor. “He just looked like a normal person.” As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asian-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.
By Zack BudrykNigerian health officials on Monday issued a warning about chloroquine, an antimalarial drug President Trump has repeatedly touted as a possible coronavirus treatment, saying three people have overdosed on it. Lagos State Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu's press secretary, Gboyega Akosile, tweeted that the governor’s senior special assistant on health, Oreoluwa Finnih, had warned against "massive consumption" of the drug.Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov @jidesanwoolu's SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_FinnihShe urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/Q4vLS79KUs— gboyega akosile (@gboyegaakosile) March 20, 2020An official in Lagos told CNN that three residents of the capital had been hospitalized as of Monday. Trump’s comments on the drug have caused demand to surge in Lagos, CNN noted, which has in turn caused major price hikes. Kayode Fabunmi, a Lagos-based lawyer, told the network that he saw prices rise 400 percent in his area. "The pharmacist knew the market and was saying to every incoming customer, 'You know Donald Trump has said this thing cures coronavirus,' and the price kept changing,” he told CNN. Lagos’s state health commissioner, Akin Abayomi, said in a tweet that there is not "hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing COVID-19.”"We do not have any hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing #COVID19" - @ProfAkinAbayomi@NigeriaGov@followlasg @jidesanwoolu @toluogunlesi @ogundamisi@NCDCgov@Fmohnigeria@NafdacAgency@WHONigeria pic.twitter.com/qtBAsAniTp— LSMOH (@LSMOH) March 21, 2020Public health officials have warned Trump’s promotion of the drug, which has not been approved to treat the virus, could both prove ineffective for treatment and lead to insufficient supplies for those using it against malaria and other ailments.
By Stephanie Busari and Bukola Adebayo, CNNLagos, Nigeria (CNN)Health officials in Nigeria have issued a warning over chloroquine after they said three people in the country overdosed on the drug, in the wake of President Trump's comments about using it to treat coronavirus. A Lagos state official told CNN that three people were hospitalized in the city after taking the drug. Officials later issued a statement cautioning against using chloroquine for Covid-19 treatment.Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov @jidesanwoolu's SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_FinnihShe urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/Q4vLS79KUs— gboyega akosile (@gboyegaakosile) March 20, 2020US President Donald Trump claimed at a White House briefing last week that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the "very powerful" drug chloroquine to treat coronavirus. "It's shown very encouraging -- very, very encouraging early results. And we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that's where the FDA has been so great. They -- they've gone through the approval process; it's been approved. And they did it -- they took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we're going to be able to make that drug available by prescription or states," Trump said. He added: "Normally the FDA would take a long time to approve something like that, and it's -- it was approved very, very quickly and it's now approved, by prescription." However, the FDA after the briefing issued a statement saying it had not approved the drug for use against Covid-19 and is still studying its effectiveness against the disease.Price hikesTrump's endorsement of the drug led to a surge of interest among Nigerians keen to stock up on the medication, which has led to inevitable price hikes in the megacity of around 20 million inhabitants. One man told CNN that in a pharmacy near his home on the Lagos mainland, he witnessed the price rise by more than 400% in a matter of minutes. Kayode Fabunmi, a Lagos-based lawyer, said: "The pharmacist knew the market and was saying to every incoming customer, 'You know Donald Trump has said this thing cures coronavirus,' and the price kept changing. "The original price was 200 naira (around 50 cents), then it became 500 naira ($1.38) then it became 1,000 naira ($2.77) while I was there," he said. The Lagos State Health Ministry issued a brief statement saying there was no "hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in prevention or management of coronavirus infection."
The president, who has watched the economy plunge amid social distancing measures, says restrictions will be reassessed.By Maggie Haberman and David E. SangerPresident Trump on Sunday night said that the government would reassess the recommended period for keeping businesses shut and millions of workers at home after this week, amid millions of job losses caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr. Trump tweeted in all capital letters shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” Officials have said that the initial 15-day period for social distancing — limiting close contact between people by banning gatherings, closing schools and offices, encouraging remote work and urging people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another — is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, for which more than 30,000 people in the United States have tested positive. The 15-day period would end Monday. Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said in interviews that he believed that it would take several more weeks until people can start going about their lives in a more normal fashion. Other infectious disease experts suggest even harsher measures than social distancing are required to truly beat back the outbreaks in the United States. But at the White House, in recent days, there has been a growing sentiment that medical experts were allowed to set policy that has hurt the economy, and there has been a push to find ways to let people start returning to work. Some Republican lawmakers have also pleaded with the White House to find ways to restart the economy, as financial markets continue to slide and job losses for April could be in the millions. Vice President Mike Pence indicated on Sunday at a White House briefing about the virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue new guidelines on Monday, allowing some people who have been exposed to the coronavirus to resume working outside their homes if they wear masks.
New DayLoss of smell and taste could be symptoms of the novel coronavirus, according to ENT UK, a professional organization representing ear, nose and throat surgeons in the United Kingdom. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains. Source: CNN
By Alyse StanleyAs officials scramble to contend with a critical ventilator shortage amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration is resorting to “wartime” measures and leaning on the private sector to help meet demand for these potentially life-saving devices “FAST!”, the president tweeted Sunday. And while this is indeed promising news, President Donald Trump—per his usual M.O.—oversold things significantly. “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST!” the tweet reads. “Go for it auto execs, lets[sic] see how good you are?” At a briefing earlier this weekend, he also claimed that “these companies are making them right now,” per an Associated Press report. In actuality, these three automakers only announced their interest in producing ventilators within the last few days. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that the company was “working on ventilators” and, the next day, that he’d had “a long engineering discussion” with the medical technology company Medtronic without providing further details. As for General Motors and Ford, neither company has indicated that it’s anywhere close to the production stage. General Motors also announced Friday that it would be partnering with the ventilator manufacturer Ventec Life Systems. As for Ford, a spokesperson recently told Automotive News that the company’s “looking into the feasibility” of producing ventilators after some “preliminary discussions” with U.S. and UK government officials. These automakers also never needed the president’s permission to begin such work in the first place. Earlier this week, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era mandate that allows the president to direct resource management if it’s “essential to the national defense.” However, FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor told CNN on Sunday that Trump hasn’t enforced this measure yet—meaning Ford, General Motors, and Tesla weren’t answering to the government about this to begin with.
Hasn't he done enough damage? Now Trump is giving fake medical advice from the White House, based on "a feeling"By Dan Froomkin"I've never seen anything like it," CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta told John King after another wildly abnormal White House news conference finally came to a close Friday. Gupta wasn't talking about Trump's livid rant at NBC reporter Peter Alexander, who had just asked him, basically, if he had any empathy for "Americans who are scared." (See Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake's excellent exegesis about that.) Gupta wasn't talking about Trump's transparently false hemming and hawing to the effect that he had invoked federal authority to mobilize industry to provide coronavirus resources. He hadn't. (New York Times reporters Katie Rogers, Maggie Haberman and Ana Swanson skewered that quite nicely.) What Gupta was talking about was Trump's bizarre, desperate huckster sales pitch for a drug that has no proven effects on the coronavirus, but that he insisted he has a good feeling about. He said it could be a "game-changer." Here's the video. Trump was at the White House podium peddling a fake cure for a virus that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in a way that would have gotten him kicked off the Home Shopping Network and potentially invited federal prosecution for false claims and fraud. Just the other day, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn wrote an op-ed for USA Today warning about people like that. And he tweeted: Lev Facher wrote for STAT News about Trump's "open disagreement with the nation's top infectious disease expert at a White House press briefing":
Banks Pressure Health Care Firms to Raise Prices on Critical Drugs, Medical Supplies for CoronavirusBy Lee FangIn recent weeks, investment bankers have pressed health care companies on the front lines of fighting the novel coronavirus, including drug firms developing experimental treatments and medical supply firms, to consider ways that they can profit from the crisis. The media has mostly focused on individuals who have taken advantage of the market for now-scarce medical and hygiene supplies to hoard masks and hand sanitizer and resell them at higher prices. But the largest voices in the health care industry stand to gain from billions of dollars in emergency spending on the pandemic, as do the bankers and investors who invest in health care companies. Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices. In some cases, bankers received sharp rebukes from health care executives; in others, executives joked about using the attention on Covid-19 to dodge public pressure on the opioid crisis. Steven Valiquette, a managing director at Barclays Investment Bank, last week peppered executives from Cardinal Health, a health care distributor of N95 masks, ventilators and pharmaceuticals, on whether the company would raise prices on a range of supplies. Valiquette asked repeatedly about potential price increases on a variety of products. Could the company, he asked, “offset some of the risk of volume shortages” on the “pricing side”?
Illinois Governor Tells Trump to 'Get Off Twitter & Do Your Job' Instead of 'Throwing Tantrums' Amid Coronavirus PandemicBy Christina ZhaoDemocratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker accused Donald Trump of failing to adequately address the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, after the president lashed out at him and other state leaders for criticizing the federal government's response to COVID-19. '[Pritzker], Governor of Illinois, and a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News @CNN & Concast (MSDNC), shouldn't be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!" Trump tweeted earlier today. In response, Pritzker urged the president to "get off Twitter & do your job." "You wasted precious months when you could've taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans," the Illinois governor tweeted. "You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat. Where were the tests when we needed them? Where's the PPE?" Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.You wasted precious months when you could've taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans.You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat.Where were the tests when we needed them?Where's the PPE?Get off Twitter & do your job. https://t.co/WESJITCAwg— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) March 22, 2020As of Sunday, there were over 311,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 13,000 deaths recorded and at least 93,000 recoveries.
By William Cummings - USA TODAYSen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is being quarantined, his office announced Sunday. The diagnosis comes as the Senate prepares to move forward on a massive coronavirus stimulus aid package aimed at alleviating the economic impact of the outbreak. Several Republican lawmakers announced on Sunday they would self-quarantine as a result of Paul's diagnosis. Sergio Gor, Paul's deputy chief of staff, said the senator "decided to get tested after attending an event where two individuals subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, even though he wasn't aware of any direct contact with either one of them." Gor said Paul is in a higher risk category after having part of his lung removed last year after it was damaged in a 2017 assault by his neighbor. Paul's diagnosis also raised questions about his behavior after he continued to attend events and use shared facilities as he awaited the test results. Several news outlets reported, for example, that Paul was using the Senategym and pool as recently as Sunday morning, the same day he announced he had tested positive. Several lawmakers also reported having lunch recently with Paul. Those actions drew sharp criticism from at least one fellow senator.
Trump activates National Guard in California, New York and Washington state to fight coronavirus outbreakBy Emma NewburgerPresident Donald Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard in California, New York and Washington state in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The administration emphasized that the deployment of guard members is not martial law. The state governors will retain command of the National Guard, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover all costs of the missions to respond to the virus outbreak. “We’re dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest,” the president said during a White House press briefing. As of Sunday morning, at least 7,300 National Guard members have been deployed to fight the virus in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. “The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stocks pile to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas,” Trump said. Supplies include gloves, hospital beds, N95 masks and gowns that will be delivered in the next couple days, the president said. California, New York and Washington state have been the most affected states amid the pandemic, which has escalated significantly in U.S. over the past week. New York has more than 15,000 confirmed cases, up more than 4,000 since Saturday, followed by Washington state at roughly 1,700 and California at about 1,500.
Cuomo pleads for Trump to nationalize coronavirus response as governors describe fight for medical suppliesBy Devan Cole and Chandelis Duster, CNNWashington (CNN) The governor of the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic is calling on the federal government to nationalize the effort to acquire medical supplies at a time when state leaders say they've been forced to compete with one another for the desperately needed equipment. "I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators, the essential medical equipment that is going to make the difference between life and death," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference Sunday in Albany, New York. "It's not hard to make a mask or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) equipment or a gown, but you need companies to do it." The comments from Cuomo come as hospitals continue to sound the alarm on quickly dwindling medical supply stockpiles needed to treat patients as the number of Covid-19 cases surge around the country. State governments have faced having to buy medical supplies -- like masks, gowns and swabs -- themselves or wait for the federal government to fulfill requests submitted for more items. That response, governors say, has so far met a fraction of states' needs. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said in an interview earlier Sunday on CNN that if state officials find needed items on the market, they should purchase them and the agency would pay them back later. "The demand on these critical items is not only nationally, it's globally," Gaynor said. "So, we've been shipping. We shipped today, we're going to ship tomorrow. We're linking supplies, not only from the national stockpile, but from vendors and commercial donations." But Cuomo, a Democrat, said that because state officials have had to procure the medical supplies needed to treat patients, each state is essentially in competition with one another for the items. "Currently, when states are doing it, we are competing against other states. In some ways we're savaging other states. I'm trying to buy masks. I'm competing with California and Illinois and Florida," he said, adding that price gouging has become "a tremendous problem." Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker likened the situation to the "wild west," telling CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday that "this should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government." "We're competing against each other. We're competing against other countries. You know, it's a wild west, I would say, out there. And indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for (personal protective equipment), because of that competition," Pritzker, a Democrat, said on "State of the Union."
By TOM KRISHER and HOPE YENDETROIT (AP) — President Donald Trump is falsely claiming that automakers including GM, Ford and Tesla are pitching in to manufacture medical ventilators “fast” to help fill an acute U.S. shortage of the medical equipment for coronavirus patients. Ford and GM have yet to start, and it would take them months, if not longer, to begin production, if it’s even possible.A look at the claim:TRUMP: “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” — tweet Sunday. TRUMP, on addressing a shortage of ventilators: “General Motors, Ford, so many companies — I had three calls yesterday directly, without having to institute like: `You will do this’ — these companies are making them right now.” — briefing Saturday. THE FACTS: No automaker is anywhere close to making medical gear such as ventilators and remain months away — if not longer. Nor do the car companies need the president’s permission to move forward. Neither GM or Ford is building ventilators at present, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Friday that his company was “working on ventilators” but he didn’t specify how long it might take. His tweets also questioned the need and said it couldn’t be done immediately. Redirecting plants to make completely different products, in fact, will take a long time and a huge effort — possibly too long for some companies to help with medical gear shortages.
By Phil Mattingly, Lauren Fox and Chandelis Duster, CNN(CNN) Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is the first US senator to test positive for coronavirus, throwing an even greater sense of urgency into Senate negotiations over a massive stimulus package that had yet to come together Sunday afternoon. A statement from Paul's office posted to his Twitter account Sunday said he was "feeling fine" and was "tested out of an abundance of caution." But Senate Republicans, emerging from their closed-door lunch where they received the news, were extremely unsettled. GOP senators told CNN Paul was in the gym with colleagues Sunday morning, and several pointed out how close Paul had sat to others during Senate lunches in recent days. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said he saw Paul in the Senate swimming pool Sunday, according to a source in the GOP lunch. "This is a different ballgame now," one Republican senator told CNN. Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota said on the Senate floor that senators will be seeking medical advice. "We'll consult with the attending physician here at the Capitol about appropriate measures for those of us who have been in contact with the senator, but this is the kind of situation that Americans across the country are dealing with right now and it underscores the importance of acting immediately to deliver more relief for the American people," Thune said. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah echoed similar concerns to reporters. "All the senators are going to seek medical advice as to what action we should take to make sure that we don't in any way spread this virus ourselves," Romney told reporters. "We had a lunch together with Rand, and hope he's doing very well, but we have to determine whether any of us should self-quarantine as a result of being in the same room."
By Chantal Da SilvaFormer Vice President Joe Biden's campaign team criticized President Donald Trump on Saturday, accusing the president of trying to "rewrite history" on his "failed" leadership on tackling the coronavirus outbreak. "In a moment of crisis like this, Americans need strong, steadfast leadership, and a President who [levels] with the American people about the challenges we face and the path forward," Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager and communications director of the "Biden for President" campaign team said. "But instead of taking charge and taking responsibility," Bedingfield said, "Trump has passed the buck and failed to lead, making us more vulnerable at a precarious moment when we most need a President who will be honest with the American people and focus on actual results." Bedingfield made the comments in a press release on Saturday, with Biden's campaign team asserting that Trump has repeatedly tried to "rewrite history and mislead Americans about his response to this crisis." Newsweek has contacted the White House for a response to the Biden campaign team's comments. Biden's campaign team specifically took aim at Trump's apparent efforts to lay blame for the global spread of COVID-19 on China's shoulders while dismissing claims made in a bombshell report from The Washington Post asserting that the president and top aides had ignored repeated warnings from the intelligence community about the new coronavirus. Citing one intelligence official and several Trump administration officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, The Post said many within the Trump administration were aware in January and February of the threat posed by COVID-19. "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it," one official said. "The system was blinking red," they added. According to The Post, officials were alerted to reports on cases of coronavirus in Wuhan, China, as early as January 3, after a director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had discussed the issue with counterparts in China. Despite repeated "ominous" warnings, however, Trump and his administration failed to act, the report says. Instead of responding to the claims made in newspaper's report, Trump, Biden's campaign team said, has tried "to evade responsibility for his negligent, late, disjointed and ineffective response to the coronavirus." "This time, Trump complained, 'I wish [China] could have told us earlier about it because we could have come up with a solution.' He also said, "if we had a two or three-month difference in time it would have been much better' — even though Trump wasted critical time ignoring U.S. government medical and intelligence experts and downplaying the risk of the coronavirus."
By Devan Cole, CNNWashington (CNN) Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker said Sunday that states have resorted to competing against one another for desperately needed medical supplies that are dwindling as hospitals work to treat coronavirus patients. "We're competing against each other. We're competing against other countries. You know, it's a wild west, I would say, out there. And indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for (personal protective equipment), because of that competition," Pritzker, a Democrat, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." "This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government." Top healthcare officials have said that the US does not have enough stockpiled medical equipment like masks, gowns and gloves to fulfill the anticipated need of the nation's health care system as the number of cases surge across the US. The burden has been placed on governors and state officials, with President Donald Trump saying last week that they should work with private companies to secure masks and other items. Days later, the President said the federal government had procured millions of masks and would be distributing them directly to the states, but officials so far have not provided details on the specific supplies or amounts sent. On Sunday, Trump praised the coronavirus response without providing specifics, saying in a tweet, "Working very well with States and our Nation's Governors.#TEAMWORK." Meanwhile, dentists and other businesses have been donating equipment and supplies to hospitals that are reporting shortages while treating coronavirus patients. The Federal Emergency Management Agency -- which the White House has put in charge of coordinating the federal response -- is pulling supplies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national stockpile and working with private companies to ramp up production. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said in an interview earlier Sunday on the same program that if state officials find needed items on the market, they should purchase them and the agency would pay them back later. "The demand on these critical items is not only nationally, it's globally," Gaynor said. "So, we've been shipping. We shipped today, we're going to ship tomorrow. We're linking supplies, not only from the national stockpile, but from vendors and commercial donations. And it's just not about the federal government buying it. It's also about those hospitals and other facilities, governors that, if you find it on the market, go ahead and buy it. FEMA will reimburse you for it."
President Trump Says Has Not Compelled Companies to Make Coronavirus Gear Despite Nationwide ShortagesWHERE ARE THE MASKS?Despite invoking the Defense Production Act, the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force has acknowledged there are still critical equipment shortages.by Rachel Olding, Wilbert L. CooperPresident Trump has not yet forced any companies to produce equipment to fight the novel coronavirus despite healthcare workers reporting nationwide shortages, he said at a Saturday briefing by the administration’s coronavirus task force. The president invoked the Defense Production Act on Thursday, a law that gives the government authority in emergencies to harness industrial production to help in a time of need. However, Trump said there had been no need to force companies to produce equipment yet because “we have so many companies making so many products” voluntarily. He said on Saturday that Hanes had retrofitted factories to make N95 masks and Pernod Ricard, an alcohol manufacturer, had switched facilities in three states into factories making hand sanitizer that will be distributed to New York and other states. Many of these products will be sold on the open market but the federal government will not bid against states, Trump said. “We have the Act to use in case we need it. But we have so many things being made… They’ve just stepped up... We have never never seen anything like that,” he said. “They are volunteering.” The picture has been much different on the frontline. Healthcare workers have told The Daily Beast that they are reusing single-use gear and fashioning new equipment out of protective material because of extreme shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals. Some hospitals are rationing gear at levels they have never seen.
Ocasio-Cortez says the president needs to act.By IAN KULLGRENRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urged President Donald Trump on Sunday to order the emergency production of medical supplies, saying his reluctance to do so would “cost lives” as the New York medical system becomes overwhelmed. “The fact that the president has not really invoked the Defense Production Act for the purpose … of emergency manufactur[ing] is going to cost lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said on “State of the Union“ on CNN. “We’re thankful to anyone who’s pitching in on this effort, but we are nowhere near the beds and the capacity that we need in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “We’re hearing it every step of the way from this administration. First we were hearing it was a hoax. Then we were hearing that everything was fine. Then we were hearing that the fundamentals of the economy was OK until the crash comes. And we cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers to start production.“
By Wes Bruer and Matthew Hilk, CNN(CNN) President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested health care workers sanitize and reuse masks when treating coronavirus patients, rather than "throwing away" masks that are in short supply. "I have to tell you, the throwing away of the masks, being in private business, the throwing away of the mask right away, they're throwing it away," Trump said during Saturday's White House coronavirus briefing. Suggesting that health care workers instead clean and reuse the masks, the President said: "We have very good liquids for doing this, sanitizing the masks, and that that's something they're starting to do more and more. They're sanitizing the masks." It is unclear which type of mask the President was describing, but US Food and Drug Administration guidelines for the common N95 respirator masks state they "should not be shared or reused." Neither the FDA nor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines suggest the possibility of sanitizing masks for safe reuse.
'I walk a fine line': Dr. Fauci reveals he has to force Trump to accept facts and that correcting his mistakes in public is a 'risky business' - but he tries not to embarrass President by saying 'you're wrong'By Hannah Skellern For Dailymail.com and Andrew Court For Dailymail.comDr. Anthony Fauci has admitted he has been 'walking a fine line' by publicly contradicting President Donald Trump as he leads the team fighting the coronavirus pandemic amid rumors of tension between the pair. Telling Trump 'things he doesn't want to hear' was a 'risky business,' the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an interview with the New York Times. The respected immunologist was caught smirking at President Donald Trump during a coronavirus press conference on Friday afternoon He was also forced to publicly row back on the president's claims that the anti-malarial drug cloroquine offered a potential cure for coronavirus in the latest of a series of public rebukes. Fauci said that he tried not to 'embarrass Trump' and said that he attempts to deal with the president by 'continually' talking about scientific facts. 'I don't want to act like a tough guy, like I stood up to the president,' he said. 'I just want to get the facts out. And instead of saying, 'You're wrong,' all you need to do is continually talk about what the data are and what the evidence is.' The health expert admitted that the tactic was 'risky' but maintained: 'I say it the way it is, and if he's gonna get pissed off, he's gonna get pissed off. 'Thankfully, he is not. Interestingly,' he said. And Fauci insisted that Trump was not offended by his advice. He told the Times: 'He’s a smart guy. He’s not a dummy. So he doesn’t take it — certainly up to now — he doesn’t take it in a way that I’m confronting him in any way. He takes it in a good way.' Fauci said that he had been working round the clock as the coronavirus crisis unfolds. On Saturday the amount of cases soared past 25,000 and deaths hit 308.
SE Cupp UnfilteredCNN's SE Cupp reacts to the coronavirus pandemic and discusses President Trump's leadership compared to former presidents and governors around the country during this global crisis. Source: CNN
NBC News staffers fire back at Trump, call his attack on reporter 'outrageous' and 'absolutely nuts'By Oliver Darcy, CNN BusinessOutrage inside NBCStaffers at NBC News are outraged (and a bit confused) after President Trump viciously attacked their network's White House correspondent, Peter Alexander, at Friday's coronavirus briefing. Alexander, if you didn't see, asked Trump what he would say to Americans who are frightened amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of answering, Trump responded by rejecting the question ("nasty"), attacking Alexander ("terrible"), and assailing NBC News' parent company Comcast ("Con-Cast"). The verbal tirade -- which Trump defended after Kaitlan Collins asked whether it was appropriate -- did not go over well with people inside NBC News. "Outrageous," one senior NBC News employee told me of Trump's behavior. "Entirely unprompted. W.H. reporters should ask tough questions and Peter often does, BUT THAT WASN'T EVEN A TOUGH QUESTION." Other NBC News staffers expressed a similar sentiment. "It's absolutely nuts he was attacked for asking a legitimate question," one NBC News reporter told me. "Extremely bizarre," said another. "It was a totally fair question with an obviously accurate premise. The reaction made no sense." Yet another staffer told me, "It's unsettling when these acts happen, but we continue to do our work." Andy Lack's statement: "Peter Alexander is an outstanding reporter. His line of questioning at today's White House briefing was fair, straightforward, and necessary...""We call this a softball"Appearing on NBC after the press conference, Alexander explained that he was offering Trump a platform to comfort the American people: "I am sure there are plenty of baseball fans watching right now. In TV terms, we call this a softball. I was trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure" the public... King goes further: It's "bullshit" That's how CNN's John King referred to Trump's unhinged response to Alexander. Many other journalists joined in to back the NBC correspondent. "Asked to perform one of the key duties of the presidency — to reassure the American public during a crisis — Trump instead attacked," WaPo's Ashley Parker noted. WHCA prez Jonathan Karl added: "It's outrageous to use the presidential bully pulpit to bully a journalist like Peter — especially at a time like this."
We owe Jerry Falwell Jr. a debt of gratitudeBy John StoehrI suppose we owe Jerry Falwell Jr. a debt of gratitude. I'm serious. Falwell is the son of the late Jerry Falwell, the man most responsible for bringing fundamentalist Christianity out of the political wilderness during Ronald Reagan's presidency. Junior, along with Franklin Graham, himself a scion of a religious dynasty, is perhaps the president's greatest champion among white evangelical Christians. He appeared on "Fox & Friends" yesterday. Among other things, he accused Donald Trump's enemies, including the press, of hyping COVID-19, the new strain of the coronavirus spreading around the world, panicking global markets and closing down entertainment and cultural events here and elsewhere. He, like Tom Cotton, the fascist senator from Arkansas, believes the disease outbreak can be blamed on totalitarian regimes in the east. For Cotton, that's China. For Falwell, that's North Korea. (While Falwell was on air, the president announced a state of national emergency related to the outbreak, undermining his and Cotton's search for a scapegoat for his sake.) Falwell's demagoguery isn't what we should be thankful for. What we should be thankful for is his confessing, without appearing to know it, that a pillar of "principled conservatism" in the United States is no pillar at all. Not in practice. Once you see that this pillar rests on a bed of sand, rather than constitutional bedrock, you start seeing other "conservative principles" do, too. "States' rights," "gun rights," "the right to life" and even "religious freedom" are nearly always about something other than what they seem to be. Falwell and his ideological confederates can't be honest about it, though. If they were, they'd lose. Dishonesty, fraudulence and bad faith are central to their aims. What would Jesus do? Not that. Here's some context, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor (my italics): "As in many states, residents in parts of rural, conservative Virginia say they seem to inhabit an increasingly different daily reality than that of urban and suburban districts. That feeling of separation was compounded by last November's Democratic sweep of the state's elected offices. Now residents in Frederick County are mulling a radical proposal: seceding from Virginia and joining neighboring West Virginia." Apparently Falwell is part of the effort. He's the head of something called "Vaxit," according to Fox & Friends. Whether that's a real organization I have no idea, but that's not what I'm most interested in. I'm most interested in expressing gratitude to the good reverend for admitting that "states' rights" have nothing to do with conservatism. Think about it. If the principle of "states' rights" meant what conservatives have said it meant to them, not one of them, not Jerry Falwell Jr. nor anyone calling him or herself a "principled conservative," would dare suggest that a county secede from a state. If states are sovereign, as conservatives have alleged since Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat in 1948, calling for a county to secede from a state is traitorous. If "states' rights" are as sacred as conservatives have said they are, the idea of secession is an abomination. In saying counties should leave the state as casually as ordering unsweet tea with his burger and fries, the Rev. Falwell told us without knowing he was telling us that conservatism in theory is authoritarianism in practice. It cannot and will not tolerate democratic change, despite change coming with the blessing of the majority. If the majority rules, Falwell and his confederates will abandon commitments to democracy. Once you abandon democracy—once you open the door to treason—there's no end in sight. Once it seceded, "the Confederacy began to deny states' rights," wrote James W. Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me. "Jefferson Davis denounced states' rights as destructive to the Confederacy.
By Jody SerranoGoogle finally unveiled its coronavirus website today. Yes, that website, the one that President Donald Trump said Google was building that the company had no idea it was building. The website, while a good resource to obtain information on covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is nothing like what Trump described. To recap, last week Trump and his team announced that Google was developing a nationwide coronavirus screening website. The president claimed that 1,700 Google engineers were working on the project and that they had “made tremendous progress.” Confusion ensued afterward, with Google hurriedly announcing that it was working on something vaguely similar to what Trump had described. “We’re partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post after Trump’s surprise announcement. “This includes best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and helpful tips and tools from Google for individuals, teachers and businesses.” In the end, Google delivered a website that does what it said it would do, which just happens not to be what Trump or his team said it would do. In other words, it is not a covid-19 screening website that provides users with a questionnaire about their symptoms and directs them to the nearest drive-through testing facility. (Google’s sister company, Verily, did launch a site closer to what Trump described, but on a much smaller scale in the Bay Area). Nonetheless, drive-through testing is not even available nationwide yet, although some sites have been popping up this week. According to USA Today, government officials stated that 47 drive-through testing sites will be set up in approximately 12 states over the next few days. Instead, the Google covid-19 website provides information about the disease, safety and prevention tips (including its Do The Five campaign), links to information about covid-19 from the CDC and the WHO, a map of cases worldwide, YouTube videos on subjects such as cooking and exercising and a way to contribute to global relief efforts, among other resources.
By Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica, CNNNew York (CNN) For New Yorkers stuck inside their homes -- and heads -- as the state and country confront the rapid spread of coronavirus, Andrew Cuomo's press conferences have become appointment viewing. Starting a little before noon, and running as long as an hour, the New York governor offers something simple and, to many viewers, deeply necessary: a sense that someone is in charge, even if the news is bad -- and consistently getting worse. "Everyone knows what we're dealing with," Cuomo began, matter-of-factly, on Friday. "It's preventing an overload of the health care system." The pressers have turned into indelible split screen moments between Cuomo and President Donald Trump -- whose own news conferences often take place during or after those in New York -- unfolding in real time for those watching in New York City. For many viewers, they are a stark and jarring reminder of the broad chasm between the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts at the state level, where governors like Cuomo are increasingly taking stricter action -- and greater responsibility -- as they seek to stabilize both health infrastructure and ward off a public panic. Cuomo's Friday newser ran about 45 minutes as he delivered a daily update and took questions from a small gathering of reporters, all seated at a safe social distance. He covered everything from how the delayed federal tax filing deadline would affect state finances, to whether massages were "essential" -- they are not, he said -- the governor decidedly said -- and his chat with internet service providers, whom Cuomo said he asked to expand "data capacity" free of charge. After informing the public that a press officer had shown coronavirus symptoms, which touched off an internal quarantine, Cuomo stopped. "I'm gonna go to work," he declared, before standing up, along with his aides, and heading off. Until tomorrow.A stark contrastAs Cuomo was wrapping up in New York, Trump and his team were beginning their own briefing at the White House. But where Cuomo projected competence and authority, with a dash of his idiosyncratic humor, Trump was meandering. When prodded to offer some kind of empathy -- Trump lashed out. "What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?," a reporter asked. "I say that you are a terrible reporter, that's what I say," Trump replied. "I think it's a very nasty question." Whether he was annoyed that the wind-up to the question included statistics on the sick and dead, or at its characterization -- "scared" -- of Americans, was unclear. "They're looking for answers and they're looking for hope," Trump continued, as if observing from afar. Cuomo has been blunt and at times searching, but unerringly forthright, even with unnerving information. He has been open in seeking out the equipment desperately needed by health care providers, like face masks and ventilators. Asked on Friday if the state was headed toward a cash crunch, he answered, "Yes." When discussing his statewide order requiring workers in nonessential businesses to stay home, Cuomo acknowledged the potential for criticism. "If someone is unhappy, if somebody wants to blame someone, or complain about someone, blame me," he said. "There is no one else who is responsible for this decision." Contrast that with Trump, a fellow Queens native who also entered his father's line of work: a week earlier, the President faced questions at a press conference over his role in the country's failure to produce and implement functioning coronavirus tests. His answer: "I don't take responsibility at all."
The GOP governor took action while Trump was still calling the pandemic a ''hoax."By Corky SiemaszkoMaryland Gov. Larry Hogan went before the cameras last week and broke some bad news to his constituents — the state had recorded its first death from the coronavirus. “We pray for his family,” Hogan said of the victim, a man in his 60s with an underlying condition. “Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis and while this is the first death in Maryland it will not be the last.” Hogan also noted that a 5-year-old girl was among the confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, a development all the more alarming because the vast majority of infected people have been older. “This fight against pandemic is a race against time and we must take action now,” Hogan said. “We cannot afford to delay.” That has been Hogan’s mantra from the start of the crisis. The Republican governor took steps to protect Marylanders on Feb. 27, when he first inked parts of emergency legislation to increase funds for the fight, cancelling out-of-state travel for state workers, establishing a help-line for the public and meeting regularly with his coronavirus response team. In comparison, on the following day, Trump called the coronavirus “new hoax” drummed-up by Democrats to damage him and his administration. Hogan also declared a state of emergency in Maryland on March 5 — more than a week before President Trump made a nationwide emergency declaration. The end result is that Hogan and fellow governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, have at times eclipsed Trump as a national leaders in the battle against the deadly pandemic. And the steps Hogan has taken in Maryland to combat the coronavirus have been as aggressive as those taken by other take-charge governors in hard-hit states like Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is also a Republican, and Jay Inslee of Washington and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, both Democrats.
By Wesley Bruer and Kelly Mena, CNNWashington, DC (CNN) The US Food and Drug Administration announced it has authorized the use of the first rapid diagnostic test that could detect the novel coronavirus in approximately 45 minutes. The authorization was made Friday and tests will begin shipping next week, according to a statement from California-based Cepheid, the company manufacturing the tests. "During this time of increased demand for hospital services, Clinicians urgently need an on-demand diagnostic test for real-time management of patients being evaluated for admission to health-care facilities," said Dr. David Persing, MD, Ph.D., chief medical and technology officer at Cepheid. "An accurate test delivered close to the patient can be transformative -- and help alleviate the pressure that the emergence of the 2019-nCoV outbreak has put on healthcare facilities that need to properly allocate their respiratory isolation resources," Persing added. The announcement of more efficient testing comes as the medical community has been looking to get quicker results to stem the tide of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Dr. Rod Hochman, CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health, an organization of 51 hospitals and about 1,000 clinics, described testing capacity in the US as highly deficient. The turnaround time on testing results, he said, had ranged from 24 hours to four days, which he called "unacceptable." If cases of the disease are not identified quickly and community spread continues unchecked, it could soon overwhelm the nation's medical system, just as it did in Wuhan, China, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Vice President Mike Pence announced during a Saturday news briefing on coronavirus response that more than 195,000 Americans have been tested for the virus as cases surpassed 22,000, with about half confirmed in New York. He noted that the number does not include county hospitals or health care labs around the country. Currently, only 19,343 tests have come back positive, Pence said.
One of the requests to Congress would allow the department to petition a judge to indefinitely detain someone during an emergency.By BETSY WOODRUFF SWANThe Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States. Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the documents. The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak. The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.
By Phil Mattingly, CNN(CNN) US negotiators entered a crucial day in the effort to deploy more than $1 trillion in emergency stimulus to a staggering economy, with a growing consensus on a final agreement, but a handful of significant hang-ups still to be resolved. Bipartisan groups of senators worked late into Friday night with top officials from President Donald Trump's administration to lock in a final agreement -- a deal that people directly involved in the negotiations tell CNN could top a cost of $1.5 trillion -- before falling short of a midnight deadline imposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser to Trump, went even further in estimating the overall scope of the package Saturday, telling reporters it could top $2 trillion. "The package is coming in about 10% of GDP, it's a very large package," Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said. Ten percent of gross domestic product is roughly $2 trillion. Kudlow later explained that he was referring to the total programmatic scope of the emergency actions the administration plans to utilize, between the stimulus legislative package and funds that could be used to capitalize Federal Reserve emergency lending facility that would support hundreds of billions in loans. The expanding price tag of the package was matched only by the expanding crisis it is being drafted to try and blunt. The negotiations are expected to continue toward a final agreement through the day, with both sides acknowledging failure at this point isn't an option. "Let me just report that we are continuing to make good progress," McConnell told reporters on Saturday. "All of the discussions have been in good faith and so that's all I can report at the moment, but I think we're clearly going to get there." The urgency of the moment was apparent throughout the day and night Friday, with senators assigned to specific subject areas cloistered in a web of hearing rooms in a Senate office building, as Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia shuffling between rooms in an effort to make progress across a sweeping range of stimulus and emergency aid options. Trump told reporters Saturday at an afternoon briefing on coronavirus that "we are getting close" to reaching a deal on a proposal, and negotiators are expected to continue discussions throughout Saturday as they look to clinch a final agreement.
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