Weekly List 176

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week the U.S. continued exponential growth of coronavirus cases, finding itself with the most cases in the world on Thursday — surpassing Italy and China. The number of deaths likewise continued to grow exponentially. New York was hardest hit, accounting for roughly half the cases, but was also ahead of the rest of the country in aggressively testing and quarantining.

An impetuous Trump, eager to put this all behind him, and concerned about the stock market and his re-election, continued to minimize the pandemic, saying Monday he wanted to reopen the economy at the end of a 15-day period, meaning next Monday. On Tuesday, he tweaked that slightly to say he wanted to have the churches full by Easter Sunday, saying it would be “beautiful.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who seemed to be the sole voice of reason in the task force, pushed Trump to be flexible and watch the virus. This week, the daily coronavirus task force briefing devolved into Trump campaign rallies, filled with lies and disinformation — causing one death in Arizona where a man and his wife ingested Trump’s supposed coronavirus cure.

This week, Trump shifted from blaming China and using the term “Chinese virus,” to blaming New York as a “hot spot” — by week’s end, threatening a quarantine of the state and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut. During the week, as confusion reigned with Trump’s inaction, states were left to fend for themselves, often bidding against one another amid a nationwide shortage of medical supplies. Rather than leading and unifying, Trump targeted governors who were, in his view, not nice enough to him — singling out Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as that state saw a surge in cases and deaths for his ire, refusing to declare the state a disaster, and according to Whitmer, telling vendors not to fulfill orders for medical supplies. States also started to follow Trump’s lead and target one another.

Congress passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, as more than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment. Trump continued to attack the media for their coverage of his and his regime’s failures to lead and take action on this national emergency.

  1. On Tuesday, a Gallup poll found Trump’s approval rating rose to 49%, matching the highest point of his time in office, and up from 44% earlier this month. Trump improved among Independents (+8) and Democrats (+6).
  2. Gallup noted, “historically, presidential job approval has increased when the nation is under threat,” from Franklin Roosevelt through George W. Bush, who saw a 35 point surge in the aftermath of 9/11.
  3. On Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, 60% approve and 38% disapprove. 94% of Republicans, 60% of Independents, and 27% of Democrats approve of his response.
  4. On Saturday, Politico reported the Justice Department asked Congress for emergency powers amid the coronavirus crisis to detain people indefinitely without trial during national emergencies, which Trump has declared.
  5. The DOJ proposed granting the attorney general power to ask any chief judge to pause proceedings, to grant top judges the power to pause, and to use videoconference hearings without the defendant’s consent.
  6. The proposal also asked to empower Trump or his successors to eliminate legal protections for asylum seekers, a permanent change to immigration law. This idea was reported to be dead on arrival.
  7. On Sunday, NYT reported Trump sent a letter to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un offering help in fighting the coronavirus, according to North Korea state media. Kim’s sister called the letter “a good judgment and proper action.”
  8. On Sunday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost ordered clinics to stop performing ‘non-essential and elective’ surgical abortions during the coronavirus health emergency, or face consequences from the state.
  9. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business, “I’ve seen a bunch of fake news over the last couple of days about a complete shut down of the economy,” adding, Trump “has not made that decision.”
  10. On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told “Meet the Press” that Trump “will not lift a finger to help his hometown,” adding, “If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise.”
  11. On Sunday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker told “State of the Union” that federal government inaction has forced states to compete “against each other” for supplies, adding, “It’s a Wild West out there…We are overpaying.”
  12. On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requested a temporary hospital be built at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, as the number of confirmed cases in the state hit 15,168. Cuomo added, “There are masks that we were paying 85 cents for. We’re now paying $7.”
  13. On Sunday, Reuters reported the Trump regime eliminated a key CDC public health position in Beijing in July 2019 intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, months before the first case in November.
  14. The American expert, Dr. Linda Quick, trained Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicenter of outbreaks. No other foreign disease experts were embedded after Quick left.
  15. On Sunday, Trump sent scores of tweets, promoting conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and sharing an article suggesting a miracle cure was at hand. Trump sent 66 tweets before 9:30 a.m. alone.
  16. On Sunday, Germany banned meetings of more than two people in public, in addition to shuttering businesses. German Chancellor Angela Merkel self-quarantined after contact with a doctor who tested positive.
  17. On Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul became the first U.S. Senator to test positive for the coronavirus. Paul was the only senator to vote against the first round of $8.5 billion in coronavirus funding earlier in March.
  18. Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee announced they would self-quarantine, after having had “extended” interactions with Paul, and would miss floor votes. Paul worked out in the Senate gym and pool Sunday morning.
  19. On Sunday, governors from Ohio and Louisiana became the latest states to issue state-at-home orders, joining NY, NJ, CA, IL, and CT, as U.S. confirmed coronavirus cases passed 33,000, with at least 390 dead.
  20. On Sunday, in an op-ed, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital on the front line of fighting the coronavirus wrote about “How America Can Avoid Italy’s Ventilator Crisis,” where life rationing choices have been made.
  21. Dr. Daniel Horn warned, “Without swift action, parts of the United States will run out of ventilators in the coming weeks,” and urging Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act and organize American companies now in production.
  22. On Sunday, at his daily press briefing, Trump said he was deploying the National Guard to California, New York, and Washington, saying, “I’m a wartime president,” and, “This is a war — a different kind of war.”
  23. Trump rejected calls from governors around the country and others to invoke the DPA, saying, “We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela.”
  24. White House adviser Peter Navarro added, “We’re getting what we need without putting the heavy hand of government down,” pointing to company 3M shipping masks to New York and Seattle.
  25. When asked about Romney being in isolation after exposure to the coronavirus, Trump responded, “Romney’s in isolation? Gee, that’s too bad.”
  26. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “My friend (always there when I’ve needed him!), Senator @RandPaul was just tested “positive” from the Chinese Virus,” adding, “That is not good! He is strong and will get better.”
  27. On Sunday, as Trump was speaking, the Dow Jones futures fell sharply, triggering a halt after reaching a 5% drop due to the Senate not reaching a funding deal. The deal size was expected to be $2 trillion.
  28. On Sunday, NYT reported that under the leadership of Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s son, Fox News played down the dangers of the coronavirus to it viewers, saying it was a Democratic- and media-led plot against Trump.
  29. For weeks, as the number of cases rose, Lachlan failed to correct the narrative that the virus was not a big threat in the U.S. Experts say the misinformation spread by the network will lead to American deaths.
  30. On Sunday, late evening, Trump tweeted, “I watch and listen to the Fake News,” listing networks and newspapers, adding, “all I see is hatred of me at any cost. Don’t they understand that they are destroying themselves?”
  31. Trump also tweeted, just before midnight, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION” on which way to go.
  32. The 15 day period ends next Monday. Health care officials have warned social distancing, school and office closing, and other measures were needed. The U.S. had the third most cases, behind China and Spain.
  33. On Monday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Fox News, “The president is right. The cure can’t be worse than the disease,” adding, “And we’re going to have to make some difficult trade-offs.”
  34. On Monday, the Federal Reserve announced it would launch a barrage of programs to help markets function more efficiently, including an open-ended commitment to buy assets under quantitative easing measures.
  35. On Monday, Bank of America Securities found the S&P 500 drop of 30% in 22 trading days from its record high on February 19 is the fastest stock market drop of this magnitude in history.
  36. On Monday, CNBC host Jim Cramer, discussing how companies can profit during the crisis, suggested uninfected airline passengers could wear a star: “maybe we have to give people a star. Then, WE’RE BACK!”
  37. On Monday, NYT reported South Korea, which quickly ramped up testing, reported just 64 new cases Sunday. South Korea is producing 100,000 tests per day, and is in talks with 17 other countries about exporting to them.
  38. On Monday, in a nighttime address to the nation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced what amounted to a national lockdown, closing all shops not selling “essential goods,” including libraries and playgrounds.
  39. Johnson also said not to meet friends or “family members who do not live in your home,” adding only shopping for “essentials like food and medicine” was allowed, and that the police would enforce the new rules.
  40. On Monday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on the “TODAY” show that Americans are not taking coronavirus seriously enough, saying, “I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad.”
  41. Adams cited there are still young people flocking to the beaches and heading to the National Mall to see the cherry blossoms, saying, “Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously.”
  42. Asked about Trump’s failure to invoke the DPA, Adams said, “You don’t need to compel someone to do something they are already doing,” citing companies Honeywell and Hanes that are producing items needed.
  43. On Monday, Rep. Ben McAdams, who said last week he had tested positive for Covid-19, said in a statement that he had been hospitalized since Friday because of “severe shortness of breath.” McAdams is 45 years-old.
  44. On Monday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced on Twitter that her husband, John Bessler, had tested positive and was admitted to a hospital and is on oxygen. Bessler, who had quarantined himself, is 52 years-old.
  45. On Monday, at his daily press conference, Gov. Cuomo said New York coronavirus cases had surged overnight by 38% to 20,875. Cuomo issued an emergency order, telling hospitals to increase their capacity by 50%.
  46. Cuomo said 13% of cases had been hospitalized, adding, “This could go on for several months.” New York has 78,289 Covid-19 tests — roughly 30% of the U.S. total — and is testing more than 16,000 people a day.
  47. On Monday, Trump attacked NYT for changing a headline, tweeting, “The New York Times changed headlines 3 times in order to satisfy the Radical Left. What should have been a good story got “worse & worse.””
  48. Trump added, “Fake & Corrupt News that is very dangerous for our Country!” He retweeted an image of the three headlines from an unverified account that referred to the NYT as “ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.”
  49. On Monday, governors of Indiana, Oregon, Michigan, and Wisconsin issued stay-at-home orders, impacting 36 million people. Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Maryland ordered all non-essential businesses to close.
  50. On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves rejected calls for a stay-at-home order, saying, “Mississippi’s never going to be China.” The state had 249 detected cases out of 1,392 tests — a 213% increase from Friday.
  51. On Monday, Trump ally Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, announced the school would reopen to its 5,000 students after spring break, despite an outbreak in the Lynchburg, Virginia area.
  52. Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy denounced the move, saying, “We are in the midst of a public health crisis,” calling it “reckless.” Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said the state has banned gatherings of more than 10.
  53. On Sunday, the University of Tampa in Florida announced at least five students traveling with students from other schools had tested positive for coronavirus. Gov. Ron DeSantis resisted calls to close the state’s beaches.
  54. On Monday, DeSantis ordered a 14-day quarantine for anyone flying from New York or New Jersey to Florida. The quarantine applies to those who fly, but not drive. Criminal charges may apply for those who do not obey.
  55. On Monday, the Dow Jones closed down another 3% after Congress failed to push through a fiscal stimulus bill. The Dow closed at 18,592, its lowest closing level since November 2016.
  56. On Monday, NBC News reported an Arizona man died after he and his wife ingested chloroquine as a way to prevent coronavirus. The man’s wife, who was in critical care, said they got the idea from Trump’s briefings.
  57. On Monday, Vanity Fair reported Trump is frustrated and furious with Anthony Fauci and governors who advocated for shutting down large parts of the country, and is calling business leaders asking if he should just re-open.
  58. Jared Kushner is telling Trump he can ignore Fauci, and bringing him conspiracy theories and experimental treatments he had heard about from Silicon Valley. One officials said Trump is waiting for the magic pill.
  59. On Monday, AP reported Trump is struggling to adjust amid the coronavirus crisis, agitated he cannot run the campaign he wants against Joe Biden, and instead is using the daily briefing as a campaign rally proxy.
  60. While some around him told him to only appear at the daily briefings when there is major news, Trump wants to be in the spotlight. His Sunday briefing scheduled for 4:30 p.m. was pushed later to improve ratings.
  61. Trump has been furious about his inability to stop the stock market drop. He has called friends and economists at all hours, and berated aides and reporters who try to explain to him the severity of the outbreak.
  62. On Monday, at his daily press briefing, Trump vowed to reopen businesses, saying, “America will again and soon be open for business — very soon,” adding, “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”
  63. Trump added, “If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world…for a couple of years,” adding, “We can’t do that.” Notably, Fauci did not attend the briefing.
  64. Trump compared coronavirus deaths to the flu and accidents, saying, “You look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars.”
  65. Dr. Fauci has called out the “false equivalency” of comparing Covid-19 deaths with accidents, calling it “way out” and questioning how anyone with a “moral conscience” could say “just let it rip” and see people die.
  66. The argument made by some business leaders, Trump allies, and media on the right is that no matter how many lives are lost to the coronavirus, millions more may lose their jobs if the economy does not reopen.
  67. Conservatives close to Trump also embraced an article last week by the Hoover Institution titled “Coronavirus Perspective,” which said deaths would peak at 500. On Monday, there were already close to 600 deaths in the U.S.
  68. The consensus among health experts is that businesses, schools, and other gathering places should stay closed for many more weeks to mitigate spread, saying without that effort hospitals would be overwhelmed.
  69. In explaining his rationale, Trump compared Covid-19 to the flu, which he said was on pace to kill 50,000 — what Fauci called a false equivalency — and to deaths in automobile accidents, arguing that people still drive cars.
  70. There was also dissent to Trump’s idea, including from his ally Sen. Lindsey Graham. However, Trump was fixated on the economy, and the impact of a recession and unemployment on his chances for re-election.
  71. Trump also falsely promised, “The vaccines are coming along very quickly,” and said, “Our country will be stronger than ever before, and we fully anticipate that,” and falsely claiming, “And it won’t be that long.”
  72. Trump also complimented Idaho, Iowa, and Nebraska for being “countries” he said were handling the virus well. As of Monday evening, there were more than 375,000 cases worldwide, and more than 16,000 had died.
  73. Shortly after, Kudlow echoed Trump’s remarks, telling reporters that some states with low numbers of confirmed cases might be able to ease off their restrictions quickly, and predicting an economic rebound.
  74. Shortly after, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who turns 70 next week, echoed Trump, telling Fox News that he was “all in” with risking death for “the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren.”
  75. Patrick added, “My messages 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+, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”
  76. On Monday, NYT reported Trump is losing patience with Fauci, who has served every president since Ronald Reagan. Trump has given him leeway but his public disagreements with Trump is rankling the regime.
  77. In the past two weeks, Fauci has done more interviews, and officials have become concerned with his publicly criticizing Trump. On the facepalm moment last Friday, Fauci claimed a lozenge got stuck in his throat.
  78. On Monday, NYT reported Chinese-Americans are contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks, and fear for their safety — afraid to go to grocery stores, on buses, or outside alone.
  79. Americans with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places are also facing threats, being lumped in by those who do not know the difference.
  80. Unlike after 9/11 when President George W. Bush urged tolerance of American Muslims, Trump and his allies are using language which is inciting racist attacks according to Asian-Americans.
  81. On Monday, a federal appeals court affirmed a ruling that Trump cannot block critics on Twitter from the account he uses to communicate with the public, saying he violated the First Amendment when he blocked people.
  82. On Monday, ABC News reported that FBI intelligence has found that white supremacists are encouraging their members who contract the coronavirus to spread it to police and Jews.
  83. An alert warns extremists are told to spread it “through bodily fluids and personal interactions,” and use spray bottles to spread bodily fluids to cops, and to spread to Jews “any place they may be congregated.”
  84. On Tuesday, ABC News reported the FBI stopped white supremacist Timothy Wilson, 36, who was on the verge of trying to detonate a car bomb at a Kansas City-area medical center amid the Covid-19 panic.
  85. The FBI said Wilson had also shared instructions with an active U.S. Army soldier, who wanted to attack a major American news network and discussed targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
  86. On Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, scheduled to take place in the summer, will be postponed, following an agreement with the International Olympic Committee.
  87. On Tuesday, Trump again mocked Romney, quoting a tweet with an article about his test for the coronavirus coming out negative, and adding, “This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak.”
  88. On Tuesday, Cuomo grew visibly angry at his briefing, saying he had asked for 30,000 ventilators to prepare for the “apex” of the caseload, which his team predicted was two to three weeks away. New York had 25,665 cases.
  89. Cuomo said Trump “says it’s a war. Well, then, act like it’s a war!” adding, “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.” New York had 3,000 to 4,000 ventilators on hand.
  90. Cuomo also fired back at Trump’ idea to reopen the economy, citing health experts say people will die if there is a pullback, adding, “No American is going to say ‘accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.’”
  91. On Tuesday, Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, tweeted her disagreement with Trump, saying, “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed” and thousands lay dying.
  92. On Tuesday, in an interview, Bill Gates called Trump’s approach “very irresponsible,” saying we cannot simply restart the economy and “ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner.”
  93. On Tuesday, instead of a daily press briefing, Trump held a “virtual town hall” event at the White House broadcast by Fox News. There was no scheduled task force briefing that day by any of the medical experts.
  94. Trump said he wants the economy to “open” back up by Easter Sunday, April 12, saying, “Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?” As Trump was speaking the number of cases in the U.S. passed 50,000.
  95. Trump added, “I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go by Easter,” adding, “You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”
  96. Dr. Tina Tan, a doctor and board member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told CNBC, “Obviously Trump is not rooted in reality,” adding, “This is the making of a major public health disaster.”
  97. Trump also blamed governors, including Cuomo, for not getting ventilators and other medical supplies they requested, saying, “It’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well, too.”
  98. Trump also said he would stop calling Covid-19 the Chinese virus, saying, “Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it,” adding, “I think people understand it.”
  99. On Tuesday, a World Health Organization spokesperson said roughly 40% of the newest coronavirus cases are coming from the U.S., and that the U.S. could become the new epicenter for the pandemic.
  100. On Tuesday, Vanity Fair reported Trump’s private business has shut down six of its top seven revenue-producing clubs and hotels because of coronavirus restrictions— a possible motivation to re-open the economy.
  101. On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported one person tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a “coronavirus party” of young people. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear admonished the practice.
  102. On Tuesday, the Dow rebounded 11%, up 2,113 points, the best day since 1933, as investors bet that Congress would deliver on a coronavirus stimulus deal, after Speaker Pelosi said there is “real optimism.”
  103. Later Tuesday, Trump went ahead with a briefing, along with Dr. Deborah Birx and Fauci. Trump called New York City a “hot spot,” and Birx and Fauci urged anyone who has left the city to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  104. Birx said, “Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantined, meaning for the next 14 days, to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to other,” while Fauci called it a “very serious situation.”
  105. Trump said the country was beginning to see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” even as the number of cases is doubling every two to three days, adding he and his regime “will deliver for you as we have in the past.”
  106. When asked about Trump’s Easter Sunday goal for lifting restrictions,
    Fauci said, “you’ve got to be very flexible
     and on a literally day-by-day and week-by-week basis,” and “evaluate the feasibility” of what you are doing.
  107. It was Fauci’s first time appearing alongside Trump since Friday. Trump said, “I think that would be a great thing for our country and we’re all working very hard,” and said he would listen to advice from Birx and Fauci.
  108. Trump also falsely claimed, “We kept hearing about South Korea. In eight days, we’re doing more testing than they’ve done in eight weeks. That’s a tremendous turn.” The U.S. has done 367,710 tests, far less than South Korea.
  109. Kudlow said the economic package “urgently needed to bolster the economy” is roughly $6 trillion, the largest in history, including $2 trillion for direct assistance, and $4 trillion in Federal Reserve lending power.
  110. On Tuesday, Seattle’s NPR station, KUOW Public Radio, announced it will no longer air Trump’s briefings live “due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”
  111. Shortly after, conservative radio host Glenn Beck echoed Trump, saying, “I would rather have my children stay home and have all of us who are over 50” go to work, adding, “it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country.”
  112. Shortly after, Fox News commentator Brit Hume echoed Trump, telling host Tucker Carlson that is an “entirely reasonable viewpoint” to expect grandparents to die to protect the economy.
  113. Hume added, “this circumstance as we try to beat this virus, is not sustainable,” and, “We don’t shut down the economy to save every single life that’s threatened by a wide-spread disease. We just don’t.”
  114. On Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro echoed Trump, urging Brazilians to go back to work and school, attacking governors, and blaming the media for a climate of “hysteria” in the country.
  115. On Wednesday, Trump repeated his false claim, tweeting, “Just reported that the United States has done far more “testing” than any other nation, by far!” The U.S. has done among the fewest tests per capita of any country.
  116. Trump added, “over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea…does over an eight week span. Great job!” South Korea has tested 1 in 170 people. The U.S. has tested 1 in 1,090.
  117. On Wednesday, as Trump considered re-opening, a Morning Consult poll found 74% of Americans support a national quarantine, including 81% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans, and 69% of Independents.
  118. The poll found 1 in 5 support Trump’s idea to resume normal activity next month. On handling the crisis, 56% of Republicans said Trump’s response is “excellent,” while 16% of Independents and 6% of Democrats agree.
  119. On Wednesday, CNN reported the State Department is asking other countries to sell the U.S. a list of 25 items related to fighting the coronavirus, ranging from basics like hand sanitizer to ventilators.
  120. The list also included hospital items: biohazard bags, N95 masks, gloves, gowns, surgical caps, shoe covers, sharps containers, protective eyewear, metered dose inhalers, elastomeric and air purifying respirators.
  121. Shortly after, Trump blamed the media, tweeting, “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed,” adding the media hopes “it will be detrimental to my election success.”
  122. On Wednesday, at the daily press briefing, Trump said he approved major disaster declarations for New York, California, Washington, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. Birx and Fauci also attended.
  123. WAPO calculated Trump spent 25% of his time congratulating himself and blaming others. Trump said, “It’s been incredible how we’ve done,” adding, “We’ve done one hell of a job; nobody’s done the job that we’ve done.”
  124. Trump again pointed to his closing the border with China, calling it a “great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here,” adding if he “didn’t do it, you’d have thousands and thousands of people dead.”
  125. Trump also falsely claimed that testing capacity is growing “exponentially,” and touted the success of deploying supplies to states, “It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing, that I can tell you.”
  126. Trump also continued to blame the Obama administration, saying, “We’ve come a long way from an obsolete, broken system that I inherited,” despite this being Trump’s fourth year in office.
  127. Trump indicated he reached a truce with Cuomo, saying New York is facing a “number of very tough weeks” but Cuomo was doing “a very good job,” and “I’m doing everything in my power to help the city pull through.”
  128. Trump was asked about his LameStream Media tweet, and replied, “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.”
  129. Trump added of the media, “I do think it’s so that there are people in your profession that would like that to happen, I think it’s very clear,” and the media would love to see him lose “because we’ve done one hell of a job.”
  130. Trump bragged, “nobody’s done the job that we’ve done,” adding, “and it’s lucky that you have this group here right now for this problem or you wouldn’t even have a country left.”
  131. After his appearance, Trump tweeted, “I hear that Fake News CNN just reported that I am isolated in the White House, wondering out loud, ‘when will life return to normal?’ Does anybody really believe that?”
  132. Trump added, “they made it up — they are CORRUPT & FAKE NEWS,” and, “I have been packed all day with meetings, I have no time for stupidity. We’re working around the clock to KEEP AMERICA SAFE!”
  133. Shortly after, Daily Beast reported that CNN and MSNBC staffers have acknowledged that airing Trump’s briefings live and in full amplifies the spread of misinformation, citing the Arizona death as an example.
  134. Going forward, the two networks will air the beginning of the briefings, then cut away after Trump’s first lie, and return when the lies stop to air Fauci and Birx.
  135. On Wednesday, NYT reported hospitals in New York City are facing a surge in coronavirus cases, the kind that overwhelmed the healthcare systems in China and Italy. Doctors and nurses are stretched and lack adequate PPE.
  136. A refrigerated truck has been place outside Elmhurst Hospital in Queens to hold dead bodies. People line up at 6 a.m. to be tested. In 24 hours, 13 people died. One general medicine resident said, “It’s apocalyptic.”
  137. At least two city hospitals have filled their morgues. Medical workers say in early March they saw an increase of patients with flu-like symptoms, but did not know much about Covid-19. Tests now show it was the virus.
  138. Close to 4,000 have been hospitalized in NYC. All of the city’s 1,800 ICU beds are expected to be filled by Friday. Officials have begun building four 250-bed hospitals at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
  139. On Wednesday, Arizona Health Department Director Dr. Cara Christ told healthcare providers not to test most patients for Covid-19, saying the state’s “current reality” is that it does not have enough supplies.
  140. She also advised given the PPE shortage that health care professionals move testing outdoors, and, if possible, to reuse equipment, and for primary care officials to send patients to “higher care” without testing.
  141. On Wednesday, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza told Fox News the virus “spreads are mainly in the blue states,” and after criticizing Trump, “they want the racist and the fascist to step in and help them.”
  142. On Wednesday, according to online ammunition retailer Ammo.com, there has been a massive increase in sales of guns and ammunition amid the coronavirus. Ammunition sales were up 1000% in some states.
  143. On Wednesday, Trump’s re-election campaign sent a “cease and desist” letter to liberal super PAC Priorities USA over an ad running in battleground states which claims Trump called the virus a “hoax.”
  144. The ad, titled “Exponential Threat,” splices together clips of Trump downplaying the virus over a graphic showing the number of cases sharply rising, and a clip of him saying, “The coronavirus, this is their new hoax.”
  145. On Wednesday, an entire nursing home in New Jersey was evacuated and moved to a new home. At least 24 of the 94 residents had tested positive for the coronavirus, and the other 70 were presumed to have it as well.
  146. On Wednesday, NY Post reported hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who said on CNBC last week that “hell was coming” due to the pandemic, netted $26 billion by shorting the stock market.
  147. On Wednesday, the number of U.S. deaths topped 1,000— almost double from two days before. There was 68,960 confirmed cases, with the U.S. third behind Italy (74,386) and China (81,667).
  148. On Wednesday, NYT reported on an anonymous forum of more than 1,200 health care workers sharing coronavirus stories. Over 90% said lack of proper equipment, particularly the N95 masks, is the biggest problem.
  149. A nurse in New York City said, “Our hospital is taking on way more patients than we can handle.” Roughly 26% said “they weren’t sure” if patients they were treating had the coronavirus due to lack of testing availability.
  150. A nurse in Texas with 17 years of emergency room experience said, “Protocols change minute to minute if there are any at all. I can no longer trust the CDC. For the first time in my career I am scared to go to work.”
  151. On Wednesday, WAPO reported hospitals on the front-line of the pandemic are discussing universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients, given the surge in new cases, regardless of family wishes
  152. The conversations were in part prompted by the risk to staff amid a dwindling supply of PPE. Hospitals systems in cities and states including Chicago, D.C., Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas have had discussions.
  153. On Thursday, just after midnight, the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, with a unanimous vote, 96–0. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would take up the bill on Friday.
  154. On Wednesday, local NBC News reported more than 100 employees staffers at Boston-area hospitals — ⁦⁦Brigham & Women’s, Mass General Hospital and Boston Medical Center — had tested positive for Covid-19.
  155. On Thursday, the Labor Department said a record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. Just 282,000 filed for unemployment the week prior. The prior record was 695,000 in October 1982.
  156. On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appeared on the “TODAY” show. He promised continued action by the central bank, saying, “When it comes to this lending, we’re not going to run out of ammunition.”
  157. When asked about Trump’s plan to reopen the economy, Powell said, “We’re not experts in pandemics over here,” adding, “Dr. Fauci said the virus is going to set the timetable. That sounds right to me.”
  158. On Thursday, at the G-20 virtual summit, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said of the coronavirus, “The challenges before us dwarf those of 2008. And what we face today is not a banking crisis; it is a human crisis.”
  159. On Thursday, Global News in Canada reported Trump is considering putting troops near the Canadian border in light of security concerns amid the pandemic. Canada has roughly 3,000 cases, the U.S. nearly 70,000.
  160. Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal and we’ve made that very clear to our U.S. counterparts.”
  161. On Thursday, Yahoo News reported as the U.S. struggles with the coronavirus, China is asserting itself as the global leader, stepping up to help in the global pandemic, a role typically played by the U.S. in the past.
  162. China has promised to send a thousand ventilators and 2 million masks, as well as a gift of $20 million to the WHO earmarked for the pandemic. Trump proposed slashing U.S. funding to the WHO last month.
  163. While China is helping other countries, according to a South Korean government readout, Trump asked the country’s president on Tuesday for help with medical equipment, an extraordinary request by a U.S. leader.
  164. On Thursday, in a stunning reversal in Israel, Benny Gantz agree to join forces with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to the coronavirus crisis. Gantz will serve as vice PM, then in 18 months assume the PM role.
  165. On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo said NY has 37,258 cases and 100 new deaths. He called the Senate’s $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill, in which NY will receive just $5 billion, “irresponsible” and “reckless.”
  166. Shortly after, the number of worldwide cases surpassed 500,000 — reaching 510,000 at mid-day with 23,000 dead worldwide. The U.S. had more than 75,000 cases and 1,070 had died.
  167. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic is “accelerating,” saying, “It took 67 days… to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second…four days for the third.” The last 100,000 took 2 days.
  168. On Thursday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said “right now is not the time” for a shelter-in-place order, saying, “we are not Louisiana, we are not New York State, we are not California.” So far, 21 states have shelter-in-place orders.
  169. Alabama had 517 cases, up 34% from Wednesday. According to an Alabama reporter, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth told the governor’s Covid-19 task force this week that the state has “not done enough to prepare.”
  170. On Thursday, Germany’s Der Spiegel reported G7 foreign ministers have been unable to agree on a joint statement because of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence on calling Covid-19 the “Wuhan virus.”
  171. On Thursday, in a letter to governors, Trump provided guidelines for state and local governments to use when making decisions about “maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures.”
  172. Trump said officials are gathering data to categorize counties as “high risk, medium risk or low risk” for the virus, which will drive “the next phase” of the response, so parts of the U.S. economy can reopen by April 12.
  173. On Thursday, Fauci countered Trump, saying in an interview, the U.S. “can start thinking about getting back to some degree of normality when the country as a whole turns that corner” of reducing the spread of virus.
  174. Fauci added, “You need to see the trajectory of the curve start to come down” before the country reopens. Fauci said New York City is experiencing a “terrible time,” and, “This is serious business.”
  175. On Thursday, the U.S. passed China and Italy to have the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with at least 81,321 infected at mid-day of more than 522,000 cases worldwide.
  176. NYT reported a series of missteps and missed opportunities dogged the nation’s response. Importantly, Trump and his regime failed to take the pandemic seriously, even as it engulfed China.
  177. There was no coherent message from the regime, as Trump sent mixed messages about scale of the virus and how to fight it. The regime failed to provide mass testing which left the U.S. blind to the scale of the spread.
  178. These actions with little and late response left the U.S. with a shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctor and nurses, as well as a shortage of ventilators to keep people alive.
  179. Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan quickly began preparing for the worst early on, while the U.S., which should have been ready, was not, as Trump focused on other things.
  180. A Johns Hopkins infectious disease doctor said, “We are the new global epicenter of the disease,” adding, “all we can do is to slow the transmission” by staying home and ramping up PPE, ventilators, testing.
  181. On Thursday, the Dow rallied 1,352 points, or 6.4%, on moves by the Fed to shore up the economy and the Senate passing the bill. The Dow is up 20% in the past three days, the biggest three-day surge in 1931.
  182. On Thursday, at the daily press briefing, Trump said, “We will vanquish this virus,” and “large sections of our country” can probably “go back to normal” much sooner than others.
  183. Without specifying a time, Trump said Americans should go back to work “pretty quickly,” adding, “Our people want to work. They want to go back. They have to go back. And we’re going to be talking about dates.”
  184. On the unemployment report, Trump said, “it’s nobody’s fault. Certainly not in this country. Nobody’s fault,” adding, “When I heard the number — I mean, I heard it could be 6 million, could be 7 million. It’s 3.3 or 3.2.”
  185. Trump added, “I think we’ll come back very strong the sooner we get back to work. Every day we stay out it gets harder to bring it back very quickly,” adding, “you’ll see a very fast turn around once we have a victory.”
  186. On criticism over lack of medical equipment being provided to states, Trump said, “we’ve got tremendous amounts of equipment coming in. A lot of great companies are making equipment,” and “ventilators…take a little longer to make.”
  187. Asked if he had taken steps to protect Asian-American from hate, Trump said, “Asian-Americans in our country are doing fantastically well,” adding, “I’m very close to them…I think they appreciate the job we’re doing.”
  188. Trump repeated his false claim that the virus was “unforeseen” saying, “this was something that nobody has ever thought could happen to this country. Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.”
  189. Birx claimed she was told New York had enough ventilators to meet its current needs in locations upstate, saying there are “over a thousand or two thousand ventilators that have not been utilized yet.”
  190. Birx also denied reporting on do-not-resuscitate measures, saying, “There is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion… we don’t have evidence of that right now.”
  191. On Thursday, at a press conference, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker emotionally ripped into the Trump regime for outbidding states for PPE after Trump told states they are on their own to buy the equipment.
  192. Baker said he has “had confirmed orders for millions of pieces of gear evaporate in front of us,” adding, “Our first responders, our health care workers, everybody deserves to have that gear.”
  193. On Thursday, a Fox News poll found Fauci had the highest approval on response to the coronavirus: 77% approve, 12% disapprove, and the only one with bipartisan support: Democrats (74%) and Republicans (85%).
  194. Trump had the lowest support (51% approve/46% disapprove), followed by the federal government (55/41), Vice President Mike Pence (55/37), and “your state government” (74/23).
  195. On Thursday, WAPO reported as Trump prepares to break from the advice of health experts on reopening the economy, a cadre of right-wing news sites are attacking and seeking to discredit Fauci.
  196. The sites have cited a hacked email published on WikiLeaks that Fauci sent in 2013 to one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides, Cheryl Mills, in which he praised her “stamina and capability” during the Benghazi hearing.
  197. A meme circulating on social media showed Fauci with his arm around Nancy Pelosi, with the question, “Look trustworthy to you?” and others accusing Fauci of trying to turn the country into a “police state like China.”
  198. Some of the same Twitter accounts that attacked the Ukraine whistleblower are attacking Fauci. However, so far Fauci does still have the support of mainstream Republicans.
  199. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Pelosi said the focus of bills was on “testing, testing, testing, very important so that we know,” and “masks, masks, masks, so that we can test, test, test.”
  200. Pelosi closed by saying to succeed, “It won’t happen unless we respect science, science, science. And for those who say we choose prayer over science, I say science is an answer to our prayers.”
  201. Late Thursday, House leadership told members to return to Washington D.C. for an in-person roll-call vote on the stimulus package, after Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) aired grievances that jeopardized a voice vote.
  202. On Thursday, NYT reported the White House was prepared to announce a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to produce 80,000 ventilators, when suddenly word came down the deal was off.
  203. The decision to cancel the announcement came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess the price tag of $1.5 billion, roughly $18,000 per ventilator.
  204. Jared Kushner was brought in by Pence to ramp up ventilator production, and has been directing efforts at FEMA. Part of the reason for the hold-up was concern of over-ordering and the government having a surplus.
  205. Later Thursday, Trump called into Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show. Trump bragged he had postponed a conference call with Chinese President Xi Jinping to call in, after being prompted by Hannity asking about the call.
  206. Trump said of Cuomo’s request, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators,” and now suddenly they need 30,000 ventilators?
  207. By Thursday evening, there were more than 85,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. Almost half of those cases, 39,000, were in New York. The state has had 519 deaths.
  208. Trump also attacked Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, both Democrats. Trump said of Inslee, “He shouldn’t be relying on the federal government. He’s always complaining.”
  209. Trump added, “the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about, from Michigan,” adding, “She is a new governor and it’s not been pleasant,” and, “All she does is sit there and blame the federal government.”
  210. On Friday, Rudy Giuliani joined, tweeting, “Hydroxychloroquine is safe and in at least three international tests was found 100% effective in treating the coronavirus,” but Whitmer threatened doctors who prescribed it.
  211. Twitter took the unusual step of removing Giuliani’s tweet, citing it violated rules by providing false information. Giuliani appeared to get the false information from conspiracy blogger Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.
  212. On Friday, Whitmer told WWJ 950 the state is having trouble getting the equipment they need, saying she is being told by vendors the state procured contracts with, “They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan.”
  213. On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in a video that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and would self-quarantine. He said he had “mild symptoms,” including a fever and “a persistent cough.”
  214. Shortly after, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced he also had tested positive, and chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said he had symptoms. The U.K. had roughly 12,000 cases, and 580 people have died.
  215. On Friday, the House passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, the largest package in U.S. history. The bill passed in a voice vote, overriding Massie’s request for a recorded vote by having a 216 person quorum.
  216. On Friday, an ABC News/WAPO poll found 51% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, 45% disapprove. A similar ABC News/Ipsos poll last week found 55% approved,43% disapproved.
  217. Trump’s overall approval in the poll rose to 48% approve, 46% disapprove — the first time since Trump took office with a positive net approval. ABC News noted presidents’ poll numbers typically rise in a time of crisis.
  218. On Friday, the U.S. index of consumer sentiment dropped to 89.1 in March, its lowest level since October 2016, from 101 in February. The drop was the fourth-largest in the past 50 years.
  219. On Friday, following the NYT reporting, Trump tweeted, “As usual with “this” General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly.’”
  220. Trump added, “Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P’,” seeming to refer to the Defense Production Act.
  221. Trump continued, GM “MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant. START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!”
  222. Trump added in another tweet, “Invoke “P” means Defense Production Act!” And also tweeted, “We have just purchased many Ventilators from some wonderful companies.”
  223. Trump then attacked NYT, tweeting, “Will someone please explain to the Fake News New York Times (ALL THE NEWS THAT’S NOT FIT TO PRINT) that the Democrats make it almost impossible for us to fill positions.”
  224. Shortly after, Trump said he had signed an order directing Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to investigate applying the DPA against General Motors
  225. On Friday, NYT reported luxury brands, including Fendi, Celine, and Chanel, boarded up their stores in the SoHo section of New York City in anticipation of possible riots and civil disobedience.
  226. On Friday, Fox said it “has parted ways” with Fox Business anchor Trish Regan, after her monologue in which she dismissed concerns about the coronavirus as a “scam” fueled by enemies of Trump.
  227. On Friday, WAPO reported New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said agencies that are part of Mardi Gras every year planning, including the FBI and DHS, did not raise concerns about the coronavirus before it was held.
  228. The open-air party held in February had more than a million attend, including visitors from overseas. On March 9, the first Covid-19 cases appeared. Louisiana had 2,305 coronavirus cases and 83 deaths as of Thursday.
  229. Forecasting showed when the peak was expected to occur on April 8, Louisiana could be short 1,436 ICU beds. Morial Convention Center will be used for hospital beds starting this weekend.
  230. The city has had very limited testing available, with just 250 test kits per day allotted to two drive-thru sites, and are usually gone by midday. Area city hospitals have ramped up testing, including 1,900 Thursday.
  231. On Friday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo tweeted that she signed an “executive order mandating that anyone who’s traveled to NY by any form of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in RI.”
  232. Raimondo added, “We’ll be stationing National Guard members at bus stops & at the train station” and State Police will stop cars, “to gather contact information from travelers and inform them of the quarantine.”
  233. She added on Saturday, Rhode Island law enforcement officers and the National Guard will be “going door-to-door,” asking people if they’ve been to New York and requesting their contact information.
  234. The ACLU of RI said, “While the Gov may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations…Under the Fourth Amendment, having a NY state license plate simply does not..constitute ‘probable cause.’”
  235. On Friday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear urged residents not to cross the border to Tennessee unless they must do so for work or to visit a loved one. Tennessee had 1,203 cases, while Kentucky had just 22 as of Friday.
  236. On Friday, Trump declined to invite Speaker Pelosi to the White House ceremony where he planned to sign the coronavirus relief bill. The two have not spoken since October 16.
  237. On Friday, flanked by white male leaders in front of the media, Trump signed the bill, saying, “We got hit by the invisible enemy and we got hit hard,” and adding, “I think we are going to have a tremendous rebound.”
  238. Notably, amid the national call for social distancing, attendees which included Republican leaders and cabinet members stood close together. Trump also handed out pens to several attendees after he signed the bill.
  239. On Friday, in a statement released in the early evening, Trump said he would not comply with the portion of the bill that authorizes an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent.
  240. On Friday, the Dow fell 915 points or 4%, breaking its three-day winning streak, on concern the stimulus package might not be enough to address the systemic risks.
  241. On Friday, the Boston Globe reported Larry Rasky, a longtime adviser to former vice president Joe Biden, posthumously tested positive for the coronavirus according to his son, after he died Sunday at the age of 69.
  242. On Friday, at the daily press briefing, Trump said he had instructed Pence, who leads the virus task force, not to reach out to governors who aren’t “appreciative” of the regime’s efforts.
  243. Trump added, “I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right.”
  244. Trump said he told Pence not to call Inslee, saying, “You’re wasting your time with him,” and Whitmer, saying, “Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens.”
  245. Trump said he had invoked the DPA to manufacture 100,000 ventilators, saying, “We will not hesitate to use the full authority of the federal government to combat this crisis. We have to get these people on board.”
  246. Trump also told ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, “Don’t be a cutie pie,” after Karl pressed Trump, asking if everyone who needs one will “be able to get a ventilator?” Trump added, “Nobody’s done what we’ve been able to do.”
  247. Fauci told reporters, “This is something that we have never seen before at least in our generation…We are really being challenged to not only learn in real time,” adding, “But we are also in uncharted waters.”
  248. Trump’s remarks came shortly before the number of U.S. cases passed 100,000, doubling in three days. In the early evening, there were 101,707 confirmed cases and 1,544 American deaths.
  249. Later Friday, Gov. Whitmer told CNN, “we’ve entered into a number of contracts, and as we get closer to the date when shipments…they are getting canceled — getting delayed.”
  250. Whitmer said the shipments are going to the federal government instead, adding this is an issue other cities and states are facing: “This is an issue we are confronting as a nation, where we are bidding against one another.”
  251. Later Friday, Whitmer tweeted, “I’ve asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits. You said you stand with Michigan — prove it.”
  252. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “I love Michigan,” which is why he is doing a “GREAT job for them,” but “Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is way in over her head, she doesn’t have a clue..blaming everyone for her own ineptitude!”
  253. Whitmer did not respond. Late Friday, Trump signed off on an emergency declaration for Michigan. The U.S. had more than 105,000 cases.
  254. Shortly after midnight, Trump tweeted, “Such Fake reporting by the @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @CNN & others,” claiming, “They use a small portion of a sentence out of a full paragraph in order to demean.”
  255. Trump added of the media, “They really are corrupt and disgusting,” adding, “No wonder the media is, according to polls, record setting low & untrusted. #MAGA
  256. On Saturday, Trump continued a storm of tweets, again attacking the media, saying, “So much of the Lamestream Media is writing and broadcasting stories with facts that are made up and knowingly wrong.”
  257. Trump added the media is “doing it by quoting unnamed sources that simply do not exist,” adding, “These are very dangerous & corrupt people, who will do anything to win. NAME YOUR SOURCES!”
  258. Trump added, “One of the reasons that Fake News has become so prevalent & far reaching is the fact that corrupt “journalists” base their stories on SOURCES that they make up” to “distort” a story.
  259. Trump continued, “When you see, “five sources say”, don’t believe the story, it is very often FAKE NEWS,” adding, “Lamestream Media should be forced to reveal sources, very much as they did in the long ago past.”
  260. On Saturday, Cuomo said the state should reach its apex in 14 to 21 days. New York has 52,000 confirmed cases and at least 728 deaths, but saw a slow in admits to the hospital and ICU for the day.
  261. Cuomo said he spoke to Trump that morning about new hospital sites, and later called out states having to compete with one another for supplies, and the lack of mass testing (New York has done 155,000 tests).
  262. On Saturday, Trump told reporters he is considering an “enforceable” two-week quarantine on New York, New Jersey, and part of Connecticut. Cuomo said Trump did not mention the measure in their morning call.
  263. Trump then left the White House for the first time in a week, to fly to Norfolk, VA along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper for a ceremony setting off hospital ship USNS Comfort on its way to New York.
  264. As the week came to a close, there were 640,589 cases worldwide and 29,848 deaths. In the U.S. at midday, there were 112,468 cases and 1,841 had died, including 400 on Friday and 270 on Thursday.

COVID-19: End of Week Two

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

World as of this morning:

And in the U.S., we have more cases than any other country:

636 in North Carolina (2 deaths); 17 in Forsyth County.

Boris Johnson – England’s PM – has tested positive.

There is massive outrage as many are hearing President Donald Trump telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that New York City hospitals usually just have two ventilators while he mocked Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request – based on scientific models – for 30,000 to 40,000 of the life-saving units. That outrage is growing as more and more read The New York Times article revealing FEMA is refusing to place an order for ventilators fearing the price tag is too high.

“You know you go into major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators,” Trump continued. “And now, all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’ so it’s a very bad situation, we haven’t seen anything like it, but the end result is we gotta get back to work.”

The outrage online is palpable.

But as Trump scoffs at the idea that hospitals actually need more ventilators, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has begun a desperate practice: sharing a ventilator between two patients. Because when Trump is providing nothing at all, half a lung is better than nothing. Maybe.

Trump’s scoffing at the idea that New York hospitals actually need thousands of additional ventilators got additional support from another member of his coronavirus task force. Incredibly, this support didn’t come from Mike Pence or Steven Mnuchin, but from actual doctor: Deborah Birx.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus-themed Trump rally on Thursday, Birx dismissed the thought that hospitals were short of either beds or ventilators, denied that a large percentage of the public would become infected, and suggested that there were “thousands” of ventilators sitting idle in New York state hospitals that could be moved to where they were needed. 

With less than 1% of the United States currently infected, Birx was particularly dismissive of the idea that there would be widespread infection. “When people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it’s very scary but we don’t have data that matches that based on the experience,” said Birx. Except, of course, we do. The seasonal flu regularly infects 20% or more of the population in spite of a widely available vaccine, residual immunity in a large portion of the population, and a transmission rate that is much lower than that of COVID-19. There is absolutely no evidence that the infection in the United States will not spread to much more than 20% of the population, unless it’s held in check by social distancing and a greatly expanded testing program.

As if realizing that 20% might be something of a low mark, Birx’s next statement moved the bar considerably higher: “There’s no … no reality … on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks,” said the White House coronavirus response coordinator. Actually, the current doubling rate of the coronavirus in the United States is between two and three days. Unchecked, the United States could top 20% in fewer than three weeks. Eight weeks to get to 60% from there would mean that things had actually improved considerably.

But long before either of those numbers would be reached, the health care system would absolutely collapse under the weight of the epidemic. There are only enough hospital beds out there in the entire nation to accommodate less than 0.3% of the population. On any given day, more than half those beds—including the ones that need ventilators—are already occupied by people fighting ordinary, non-epidemic diseases and recovering from accidents. 

But Birx insisted that there are still somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 ICU beds with ventilators in New York state, outside of New York City. Birx suggested that these ventilators, and presumably the beds, should be stripped and shipped to the hot spots rather than bothering the federal government with requests for more equipment. Except taking those beds away from the remainder of the state would mean that those hospitals have absolutely no capacity to deal with coronavirus cases in their area—or even a large accident or other cause that brought in patients. What Birx is suggesting is that, rather than bolster the straining system, the system be made even more fragile in the midst of a crisis. Even then, the number of devices she is talking about are unlikely to meet the number of cases that will be present in New York in the next 48 hours, much less the next weeks and months.

Again and again, Birx dismissed questions about hospitals under strain, or large numbers of patients waiting for care, or health care workers without needed equipment. “We don’t have any evidence of that right now,” said Birx. Instead, she accused news media of “spreading fear.” She also insisted on spending much of her time talking about “19 states” where the number of cases were low.

Which is exactly what you want to hear from a doctor in a crisis: “Did you know there are some people who are not sick?”

THIS graph is crazy:


Trump, meanwhile is LOSING it.

This is, of course, blame-shifting. Trump could have invoked the Defense Production Act days ago, but refused to, saying that companies are stepping up. he lied.

In fact, Trump could invoke the DPA right NOW. And he’s not. He’s just complaining on Twitter.

The other development of the day is Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who is insisting on a floor vote in the House to approve the financial assistance package. NOBODY is happy about this, even Trump, as it will mean a delay. It would also mean that Congressional representatives would have to get on planes, risking themselves to illness.

A few conservatives back Massie, but not many:

Other developments:

In recent days, a growing contingent of Trump supporters have pushed the narrative that health experts are part of a deep-state plot to hurt Trump’s reelection efforts by damaging the economy and keeping the United States shut down as long as possible. Trump himself pushed this idea in the early days of the outbreak, calling warnings on coronavirus a kind of “hoax” meant to undermine him.

The notion is deeply troubling, say leading health experts, because what the country does next and how many people die depend largely on what evidence U.S. leaders and the public use to inform their decisions. Epidemiologists worry their research — intended to avert massive deaths in situations exactly like this pandemic — will be dismissed by federal leaders when it is needed most.

1:40 pm:

Massie got foiled. The House just passed the bill.

Here’s the moment:

Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan is leaving the network.

In a statement provided to Mediaite Friday, the network announced, “FOX Business has parted ways with Trish Regan – we thank her for her contributions to the network over the years and wish her continued success in her future endeavors.”

Recently Regan came under scrutiny for her commentary calling the media coverage of coronavirus another “impeachment scam” trying to “destroy the president.”

A few days later the network announced her primetime show would be going on hiatus, citing demands of coronavirus coverage.

COVID-19: Relief Package Passes Senate As Jobless Claims Break All Records

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Economy & Jobs & Deficit, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

636: Number of confirmed cases in the state of North Carolina
12,910: Number of coronavirus tests conducted in the state
2: Number of deaths related to the coronavirus in North Carolina
17: Cases in Forsyth County; zero deaths

Winston-Salem will go into “stay at home” order beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. A full list of essential businesses, along with the full stay-at-home order can be found here. Mayor Allen Joines has ordered all residents to stay at home because of “a significant and increasing number of suspected cases of community transmission and likely further significant increases in transmission” of COVID-19. The stay-at-home order will last until April 16, or until modified.

The US death toll is actually a little higher than reflected here (which is current only to last night.

Over the past 24 hours, the U.S. reported 14,024 new cases of coronavirus and 265 new deaths, raising the total to 68,347 cases and 1,037 dead.

This is the highest number of new cases reported by a single country in one day since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Anyone who thinks we’re going to be over this in a couple more weeks is insane.

After a week of Congress members and the Trump administration proposing various plans to get cash into the hands of Americans to help them weather the coronavirus crisis, the Senate has unanimously passed a plan.

The “phase three” coronavirus bill, includes, as of now, cash measures totaling $290 billion per the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The plan’s provisions are very simple. Adults would get $1,200 each and children $500 each. At higher incomes, the checks would get smaller: The benefit would start decreasing at a rate of $5 for every additional $100 in income. The phaseout starts at $75,000 in adjusted gross income for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly; it would phase out entirely by $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples (with no children).

For example, a single childless person with an AGI of $85,000 would get $700 because $500 of the benefit was phased out by their higher income.

Unlike some early Senate Republican proposals, there is no minimum income (which would’ve excluded very poor people), and the check amounts don’t “phase in,” so the middle class doesn’t get more than the poor.

Here is how that policy looks in graph form:

Other factors of the relief:

A $500 billion loan program for businesses: The biggest sticking point between Democrats and Republicans throughout the negotiations was $500 billion in emergency loans both for large businesses and municipalities grappling with the coronavirus outbreak. For instance, $50 billion of that money was allotted to passenger airlines, according to the Washington Post.

Rather than trying to negotiate that figure down, Democrats instead negotiated to have strings attached to it. Instead of giving the Trump administration broad discretion to make the loans, Schumer and Pelosi said there will likely be a new inspector general in the Treasury Department specifically to oversee these funds, as well as a congressional oversight panel to examine how the money is being used. Schumer’s office also announced they secured a provision that will “prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.” The children, spouses or in-laws of lawmakers and executive officials also cannot receive these loans.

Some additional conditions, championed by progressives and supported by the public, including a requirement for companies to implement a $15 minimum wage, have not made it into the final legislation.

“Unemployment insurance on steroids”: Schumer announced Monday afternoon that unemployment insurance will be expanded to grapple with a new surge in claims, calling it “unemployment insurance on steroids.” The new bill will increase unemployment insurance by $600 per week for four months. This money is in addition to what states pay as a base unemployment salary. This benefit would extend to gig economy workers, freelancers, and furloughed workers who are still getting health insurance from their employers, but are not receiving a paycheck.

Expanded funds for hospitals, medical equipment, and health care worker protections: The bill contains $150 billion to boost the health care system, according to Schumer. Of that money, $100 billion will go to hospitals, $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service, and the remainder will be used to increase medical equipment capacity.

Increased aid to state and local governments: Schumer also said about $150 billion of federal money would be allocated for state and local governments who are dealing with the impacts of the crisis in their local communities, including $8 billion for tribal governments.

Direct payments to adults below a certain income threshold: The legislation includes a one-time $1,200 check that would be sent to most adults making $75,000 or less annually, according to past tax returns. A $500 payment would also be sent to cover every child in qualifying households. The final policy marks a significant change from the direct payments initially proposed by Republicans, which would have given less to many individuals who do not have taxable income. It now includes the majority of adults who are under the $75,000 threshold and phases the payment out as people’s incomes increase.

Loans to small businesses: There is $367 billion in the bill aimed at providing loans for small businesses, according to the Washington Post.

The US Department of Labor registered nearly 3.3 million initial unemployment insurance claims last week, according to data newly reported this morning.

That shatters the previous record, which was about 700,000 in seasonally adjusted terms, or a million in raw terms, way back in 1982. Just a few days ago, a Goldman Sachs analysis predicting 2.25 million initial claims was seen as an alarming forecast. The real figure was much higher — pretty much literally off the charts.

Here’s the NC graph:

And the news, to be clear, is in many ways even worse than that sounds. This is data released on the morning of March 26, but it covers the period that ended on March 21. Total or partial shutdowns of non-essential business activity have spread considerably since five days ago, so we should expect next week’s report to feature further devastation. And that’s to say nothing of the secondary consequences of people losing jobs and incomes to Covid-19 and thus being forced to curtail spending.

The medical news grows grimmer everyday, especially at the front lines.

The NY Times and CNN’s Brynn Gingras both delivered reports on Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, which has transferred non-coronavirus patients to other facilities in order to become one of the city’s main crisis centers. Medical officials have spoken of an “apocalyptic” scene inside the hospital, describing how they’re forced to work with increasingly strained resources as patients are dying while in wait at the emergency room.

“We’re busting at the seams essentially. Every bed is basically filled,” Gingras said, quoting a hospital worker. “The hospital is already having to take measures transferring patients to other hospitals because they can’t keep up with the demand. They’re having to bring in more doctors and nurses, more equipment daily just to keep up with this demand. It’s not sustainable, quite frankly, is what we’re hearing.”

Between treating patients and dealing with crowds of people who are sick or looking to be tested, reports also highlighted how refrigerated trucks have been brought in to serve as makeshift morgues for the bodies of deceased patients. CNN’s report also alluded to how the situation is compelling medical professionals to have new conversations to decide on who they can try to save.

“The fact that we’re having this conversation about people’s [do not resuscitate] decisions is staggering,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo. “If it’s not a wake-up call to people, I don’t know what else can be.”

Trump is still hoping to have the economy roaring back by Easter. But at yeseterday’s briefing (after Trump left the stage), coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the coronavirus “very well might” become a seasonal cycle. “It will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we will get a cycle around,” Fauci said. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci explained that the possibility of the coronavirus coming back in “cycles” means that “it emphasizes the need to do what we are doing,” referring to the administration’s efforts in developing a vaccine as quickly as possible so that it will be available “for that next cycle.”

On CNN he told Chris Cuomo: “You’ve got to be realistic and you’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline.”

Other bits:

NBC and CNN producers say they’re through airing Trump’s virus pressers. “We might take it from the top and then cut away after the first lie, and return when the lies stop.”

Here is the playbook which Trump ignored:

COVID-19: Cake Or Death?

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Economy & Jobs & Deficit, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

World as of 10 am:

Spain’s coronavirus death toll overtook that of China on Wednesday, rising to 3,434 after 738 people died over the past 24 hours, the government said. The spiraling number of deaths came as Spain entered the 11th day of an unprecedented lockdown to try and rein in the COVID-19 epidemic that has now infected 47,610 people.

Prince Charles has been tested ppositive.

Playwright Terrence McNally died from COVID-19 yesterday.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed to 2021.

Here’s how to read the charts above: Let’s use France as an example. For them, Day 0 was March 5, when they surpassed one death per 10 million by recording their sixth death. They are currently at Day 19; total deaths are at 184x their initial level; and they have recorded a total of 16.4 deaths per million so far. As the chart shows, this is slightly below where Italy was on their Day 19.

US as of 10 am:

Obviously, the US is in a dire situtation with NYC being the epicenter.

New Orleans is also looking especially bad, which makes the decision to have Mardi Gras seem a little stupid in retrospect.

From Axios:

The United States keeps reacting too late to the coronavirus, prolonging its economic pain and multiplying its toll on Americans’ health.

Why it matters: The spread and impact of the coronavirus may be unfathomable, but it’s not unpredictable. And yet the U.S. has failed to respond accordingly over and over again.

First, it happened with testing — a delay that allowed the virus to spread undetected.

  • Then we were caught flat-footed by the surge in demand for medical supplies in emerging hotspots.
  • And the Trump administration declined to issue a national shelter-in-place order. The resulting patchwork across the country left enough economic hubs closed to crash the economy, but enough places up and running to allow the virus to continue to spread rampantly.

Between the lines: Proactive containment and mitigation steps would have required extraordinary political and economic capital, especially if they had come early in the process, when many Americans didn’t grasp the full weight of this challenge.

  • But making decisions based on today’s information — without an understanding of how much worse tomorrow will be — is also politically and economically risky, and carries the extra cost of more deaths.

What they’re saying: A senior Health and Human Services official told me that if they could do it all over again, they would have engaged the private sector to ramp up medical manufacturing in mid-January — about two months earlier than ended up happening.

  • “By waiting to fully appreciate and acknowledge this as a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, this was a colossal missed opportunity,” the official said.
  • Now, even as testing and hospital capacity remain limited, President Trump is eager for an economic recovery — even though, by all estimates, the outbreak is only going to get worse.
  • Removing social distancing measures is “a catastrophically bad idea. The human cost would be devastating, and the economic toll from that devastation might be even steeper than what we’re seeing right now,” Indiana University’s Aaron Caroll and Harvard’s Ashish Jha wrote earlier this week in The Atlantic.

Case in point: The Trump administration squashed rumors more than a week ago that it was considering a national shelter-in-place policy. But it might have done some good at that point.

  • “The economic impact is severe in scope, but limited in duration,” Raymond James wrote in a research note dated March 15.
  • But just a week later, the firm published a new note: “The government has likely missed its window … The failure to establish a nationwide lockdown and instead allow individual states to make those decisions is likely going to result in the spread continuing.”

The bottom line: When I asked the HHS official how all of this keeps happening, the official said it’s at least partially due to disconnects — between Trump and his administration; between the government and the private sector, and between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

  • “At the end of the day, the virus has slipped through all those cracks that exist between all of these entities,” the official said.

The big issue remains… MEDICAL SUPPLIES.

A mad scramble for masks, gowns and ventilators is pitting states against each other and driving up prices. Some hard-hit parts of the country are receiving fresh supplies of N95 masks, but others are still out of stock. Hospitals are requesting donations of masks and gloves from construction companies, nail salons and tattoo parlors, and considering using ventilators designed for large animals because they cannot find the kind made for people.

The market for medical supplies has descended into chaos, according to state officials and health-care leaders. They are begging the federal government to use a wartime law to bring order and ensure the United States has the gear it needs to battle the coronavirus. So far, the Trump administration has declined.

“I can’t find any more equipment. It’s not a question of money,” said New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose state is battling the nation’s worst outbreak. “We need the federal help and we need the federal help now.”

At best, Cuomo said, his team has secured enough protective gear for health workers to last a few weeks. It’s been unable to buy most of the 30,000 ventilators it estimates it will need to keep hospitalized patients breathing at the peak of the crisis, he said.

His pleas are echoed by others, including the American Medical Association, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Joe Biden, who have called on the Trump administration to use the Defense Production Act to order companies to mass produce medical supplies. The law, enacted during the Korean War, allows the government to require companies to manufacture certain goods and to pay them for it.

Although governors and hospital leaders welcome the many U.S. companies stepping forward to make masks and ventilators, they fear the voluntary efforts will be too scattershot without federal coordination.

“When we went to war, we didn’t say, any company out there want to build a battleship? Who wants to build a battleship?” Cuomo said.

President Trump and his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, have repeatedly said they don’t need to force companies to produce under the Defense Production Act because so many manufacturers are volunteering to make medical supplies. Trump seemed to acknowledge the chaos on Tuesday, however, calling the world market for masks and ventilators “crazy” in a tweet, adding that it was “not easy” to acquire them.

But he also tweeted that he hasn’t had to use the Defense Production Act “because no one has said NO! Millions of masks coming as back up to States.” In a briefing Tuesday evening, Trump added: “Companies are heeding our call to produce medical equipment and supplies because they know that we will not hesitate to invoke the DPA in order to get them to do what they have to do. It’s called leverage.”

Early Tuesday, Peter Gaynor, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told CNN the government planned to use the DPA to acquire 60,000 coronavirus test kits. But later, FEMA Press Secretary Lizzie Litzow said the agency “at the last minute” had been “able to procure the test kits from the private market without evoking the DPA.”

In the meantime, states and hospitals are describing extraordinary efforts to secure equipment. In a briefing this week, Pritzker said he had a team of people working the phones seven days a week trying to buy medical supplies all over the globe. He asked nail salons, tattoo parlors and elective surgery centers to donate their stockpiles of masks and gloves while they are closed for business.

Pritzker said his team has made progress, including a big purchase of 2.5 million N95 masks, the government-certified masks that can screen out small particles and that are favored by health-care workers dealing with the virus. But he said his team is “running up against obstacles that shouldn’t exist,” including orders by other states and the federal government.

Senators and the Trump administration officials reached an agreement early today on a sweeping, roughly $2 trillion stimulus measure to send direct payments and jobless benefits to individuals as well as money to states and businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history, aimed at delivering critical financial support to businesses forced to shut their doors and relief to American families and hospitals.

Struck after midnight, the deal was the product of a marathon set of negotiations among Senate Republicans, Democrats and President Trump’s team that nearly fell apart as Democrats insisted on stronger worker protections and oversight over a new $500 billion fund to bail out distressed businesses.

The deal was completed after a furious final round of haggling between Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, after Democrats twice blocked action on the measure as they insisted on concessions.

The sheer size and scope of the package would have been unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago. Administration officials said they hoped that its effect on a battered economy would be exponentially greater than its $2 trillion cost, generating as much as $4 trillion in economic activity.

Businesses controlled by President Trump and his children would be prohibited from receiving loans or investments from Treasury Department programs included in a $2 trillion stimulus plan agreed to early Wednesday by White House and Senate leaders in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The provision, which was touted by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in an early-morning letter to colleagues, would also apply to Vice President Pence, members of Congress and heads of federal departments, as well as their children, spouses and in-laws.

During a television interview Wednesday morning, Schumer stressed that the provision applies not only to Trump but to “any major figure in government.”

“That makes sense. Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law,” Schumer said on CNN.

But the confidence of closing the deal led the markets to huge gains. The Dow burst 11.4% higher, while the more closely followed S&P 500 index leaped 9.4% as a wave of buying around the world interrupted what has been a brutal month of nearly nonstop selling. It was the biggest one day gain since 1933.

What else? Well, on a broader note, everyone is talking about Dan Patrick’s on-air death plea.

Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, touched off an outpouring of anger when he declared to Tucker Carlson that people like him — grandparents in their twilight years — should risk death so people can stop social distancing to avert economic calamity.

Why has this touched such a chord on social media?

I submit it’s because it captures something essential about President Trump, his response to coronavirus, and the vision of our responsibilities to one another underlying it — or, more accurately, the lack of any such vision.

President Donald Trump seems determined to end social distancing efforts by Easter (April 12), reiterating his plan at Tuesday’s press briefing to relax his administration’s guidelines in the next few weeks — even as experts continue to warn that efforts against the coronavirus could require months.

Patrick, a Republican, noted that it’s time to “get back to work,” adding that seniors such as him should be willing to be “sacrificed” if necessary, so our children don’t “lose our whole country” to an “economic collapse”:

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.

This is driving all the attention. But a crucial aspect of Patrick’s plea continues to elude us: He was offering his best argument in defense of Trump’s evolving position on what his government, and our society, should do in response to coronavirus.

Right now, Trump is actively considering relaxing federal recommendations on social distancing. As Trump put it, “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

Health experts are screaming warnings. As Tom Inglesbe, the director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, powerfully argues, the failure to test has dramatically undercounted the true numbers of those infected. This, plus a looming exponential surge in cases, almost certainly means that, if we don’t continue major social distancing, our health system will soon be overwhelmed.

Indeed, the World Health Organization is now warning that a major acceleration could turn the United States into the next coronavirus global epicenter.

But Trump plainly wants to ward off the coming economic downturn — no matter the cost — because he fears for his reelection. As the New York Times reports:Mr. Trump has watched as a record economic expansion and booming stock market that served as the basis of his re-election campaign evaporated in a matter of weeks. The president became engaged with the discussion on Sunday evening, after watching television reports and hearing from various business officials and outside advisers who were agitating for an end to the shutdown.

Indeed, as Matt Gertz documents, Trump may have adopted the idea that “the cure is worse than the disease” almost verbatim from a segment on Fox News, which has pushed this line relentlessly.

Patrick’s plea to Carlson was inspired by Trump himself. As Patrick noted, his “heart is lifted” by Trump’s suggestion that it might be time to go back to work.

“We’ve got a choice here,” Patrick said. “We’re going to be in a total collapse in our society if this goes on another several months. There won’t be any jobs to come back to.”

“As the president said, the mortality rate is so low,” Patrick concluded. “Do we have to shut down the country?”

Trump has not said the elderly should be prepared to sacrifice their lives, as Patrick did. But Trump’s framing of the broader choice at hand is very much like Patrick’s: We must get back to work, because he sees the risks posed to our economy by social distancing as more intolerable than the risks of relaxing it.

But the virus is the underlying cause of the threat to the economy. Indeed, it’s worse than this: As Will Wilkinson argues, the current Trump/Patrick line is that we should risk millions more dying, even though we’d only be guessing that relaxing social distancing would help the economy, when in fact the mounting deaths would take their own economic toll.

But, in a way, the very indeterminate nature of this guesswork — by Patrick and Trump alike — is what captures an essential truth about Trump’s handling of this whole disaster.

What Trump is really proposing here — and what Patrick is justifying — is a further washing-of-hands of responsibility for this whole affair.

We don’t have to choose between unbearably high mass death totals and an economic collapse that dooms the American experiment. The government can send people money in sufficient sums and fortify the welfare state to save them from personal economic calamity, while bailing out small and large businesses with tight conditions that sagely protect taxpayers and working people.

As it happens, Trump and both parties appear close to a deal doing this. But Democrats had to drag Trump toward conditions on bailouts, and drag Republicans toward spending enough on protecting individuals.

Those things might not stave off a recession. But they will mitigate the effects, and surely the result will be worth living through to avert countless additional deaths. We could do more to mitigate those effects, if Trump and Republicans (and to a lesser extent, Democrats) were willing.

The federal government could have done this while also offering a robust response to the crisis from the outset that itself would have minimized deaths. But Trump didn’t do this, because he feared taking the novel coronavirus seriously would rattle the markets and imperil his reelection.

Indeed, Trump’s failure to take the coronavirus seriously continues right now: He still won’t use the federal government in the manner he should to get private companies to supply equipment. It’s in that context that we should view Trump’s directive for people to get back to work.

That directive becomes exponentially more irresponsible and dangerous, because Trump is advocating a course of action that will result in many more cases while also refusing to do everything possible to marshal the needed supplies for dealing with that coming tidal wave.

Patrick is telling us we should simply accept horrifying levels of sickness and death, on the indeterminate claim that it will somehow mitigate economic pain that we could mitigate through determined government action, if only the leadership were there to do so.

Trump would not put it quite this way. But this, at bottom, is what he’s asking us to accept. And we don’t have to.

Still, this has led the far-right’s most zealous Trump supporters have set their sights on Dr. Anthony Fauci.

To the vast majority of Republicans, the entire medical community and the country at large, Fauci is the government’s leading infectious disease expert, respected for providing Americans with consistent, factual information about the coronavirus pandemic — even if it means contradicting President Donald Trump while he hovers feet away.

But to a vocal minority of ring-wing blogs and pro-Trump pundits, Fauci is the embodiment of the establishment forces that have been arrayed against the president since he came to Washington. And those voices are getting louder amid rumblings about Fauci’s standing with Trump as the president itches to get the economy restarted in the coming weeks.

“A Deep-State Hillary Clinton-loving stooge,” read a Saturday headline on the American Thinker, a far-right website, latching on to a WikiLeaks-released email that showed Fauci praising Clinton for her Benghazi testimony as secretary of State.

“Guy was a Hillary mole,” pro-Trump podcaster Bill Mitchell tweeted on Monday.

“Disrespectful,” read a Monday headline on the right-wing Gateway Pundit, comparing Fauci to ousted general Stanley McChrystal.

The narrative has even started to migrate to Fox News, a key source of information for the president.

“He’ll still have a job at the end of this, whatever happens,” Fox News host Steve Hilton argued during his Sunday night monologue on “The Next Revolution.” “Our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces whipping up fear over this virus, they can afford an indefinite shutdown.”

Fauci’s portrayal in conservative media circles could play a crucial role in the coming days as the country comes to the end of a 15-day period of social distancing and business closures intended to slow the coronavirus outbreak. While public health officials like Fauci have cautioned that the country will likely have to extend that period, Trump and his team are signaling that they want to get people back to work soon, by mid-April if possible. The cues from right-wing media, as split as they are, could influence how much Trump listens to Fauci.

“He obviously has the backing of the president right now, but a lot of people on the right in the grass roots are extremely skeptical of this entire coronavirus thing,’” said Lee Stranahan, the host of “Fault Lines” on Sputnik Radio, a Russian government-backed media outlet. The coronavirus has killed hundreds in the United States and almost 20,000 worldwide, according to researchers and government officials, overwhelming hospitals and straining global medical supplies. Cases and deaths are expected to keep rising in the coming days.

For the moment, Fauci — director of the National Institute Of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 — still has the respect of large swathes of Trump’s supporters, reflecting the unique fissures that have emerged in the MAGA movement during the coronavirus. Trump supporters who praise Fauci also tend to believe the president should employ swift, severe measures — and keep the economy shuttered — as long as necessary to keep coronavirus under control.

In past, non-pandemic times, the right would have likely unified in rallying against a government official publicly quibbling with the president. But this time, reliable Trump boosters like Breitbart and the majority of the Fox News stable are leaving him alone.

“I think he’s obviously excellent at his job, and I think he’s aware that he’s on that stage to offer detail and help finesse language, and he seems cool with it,” said Raheem Kassam, the former editor of Breitbart London and host of the podcast “War Room.”

Fauci’s criticism of palace intrigue reporting on his relationship with Trump has endeared even more to this crowd.

“Mainstream media and several journalists, especially as it pertains to the White House press corps, are purposely trying to get Fauci to contradict Trump for a juicy conflict in the middle of a pandemic,” said Stephen Miller, a conservative media columnist who contributes to The Spectator USA, the American division of the long-time conservative British outlet.

The New York Times published an article Monday suggesting the president was losing patience with Fauci’s willingness to oppose him in public and in interviews, even as the NIAID director has gone out of his way to praise Trump to more conservative outlets.

Miller noted Fauci had implicitly rebuked reporters for asking questions that Fauci said were “pitting one against the other,” calling it “just not helpful” in the middle of the pandemic.

Fauci, Miller said, “doesn’t appear to want to take the bait.”

Instead, it’s the right-wing fringe that has been going after Fauci, largely due to the fact that he tamps down Trump’s excitement over quick-fix solutions, such as the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, his desire for stringent restrictions on gatherings and his publicly dire predictions about the potential death toll that are at odds with Trump’s more optimistic outlook.

These figures have been latched on to Fauci for weeks, even if their comments weren’t initially gaining much traction.

“The guy has been around for 50 years yet never thought to prepare for something like this?” griped John Cardillo, a pundit for the Trump-friendly Newsmax, in a March 13 tweet. “Every time he speaks he makes things worse. Maybe he is the problem, not the solution.”

“I think a lot of people at this point are looking for an explanation for the very confusing, unprecedented events going on in the world,” said Stranahan, who vehemently opposed attacking Fauci.

Trump on Tuesday tried to quell any rumors of dissatisfaction with Fauci, who was noticeably absent at Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing and a Tuesday afternoon virtual town hall on Fox News.

But then Fauci was there again, at the president’s side, Tuesday night during the latest coronavirus briefing. And Trump praised Fauci early in the day, calling his performance as “very good,” and even appearing to make light on Twitter of a much-shared meme showing Fauci facepalm as the president jokingly used the term “deep State Department.”

Regardless, Trump does have a history of sidelining administration officials who disagree with him, from former White House counsel Don McGahn to ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In this case, however, much of the conservative world, including many Trump supporters, would prefer to keep Fauci in his role.

“What I would say to the president is that we’re all in this thing together and people have come to recognize Fauci alongside Trump as a solid team up there, so why change it?” Kassam argued.

That won’t stop the hardcore MAGA fanbase from going after Fauci. Hours before Trump praised Fauci on Tuesday, Mitchell, the Trump-friendly podcaster, tweeted a fresh Fauci-bashing article from the far-right site Big League Politics.

“Dr. Fauci Wants America to Become a Police State Like China in Order to Stop Coronavirus.”

Other developments of the day:

COVID-19: The Second Week

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 VirusesLeave a Comment

World as of 8:25 am:

US as of 8:25 am:


County numbers, according to county health departments:

  • Alamance County has three positive coronavirus cases
  • Davie County has one positive coronavirus case
  • Davidson County has two positive coronavirus cases
  • Forsyth County has 12 positive coronavirus cases
    • Two are identified as community-spread
  • Guilford County has 11 positive coronavirus cases
  • Montgomery County has one positive coronavirus case
  • Randolph County has one positive coronavirus case

Trump announced that he is activating the National Guard in California, New York and Washington state in an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak during a briefing at the White House Sunday evening.

A vote to advance the massive coronavirus stimulus bill failed last night in the Senate as negotiations had yet to produce a deal on the more than $1 trillion aid package. A second vote has now been scheduled for Monday shortly after 12:00 p.m. ET.

Republicans, who needed 60 votes to move forward on the bill, weren’t able to win over any Democrats to proceed, meaning no aid will flow to the economy — including checks to individuals, help for small businesses and bailouts for big corporations — until an agreement is reached.

Democrats said that they were dissatisfied with worker protections in the bill, which was written by Republicans, and that the rules on corporate bailouts are too lax.

It is remarkably difficult to get precise details about the coronavirus rescue bill that’s currently stalled in the Senate. But here are the main pieces:

The negotiations over this bill have been almost a parody of modern American political polarization. Republicans cared only about the loans to businesses and the flashy $1,200 checks for all Americans. Democrats insisted on unemployment insurance replacing 100 percent of income; money for hospitals; and making the $1,200 checks equal for everyone.

Republicans mostly caved in on the Democratic demands, but their price was an increase from $200 billion to $500 billion in the loans for big corporations. You might wonder why there was a price for this. Why did Republicans have to be talked into it in the first place? There was some muttering about not trusting the states to disburse the money or something, but in the end it was just because they’re Republicans. Putting corporations first is in their DNA or something.

Oh, and the $500 billion loan pool would be under the control of the Secretary of the Treasury and would have virtually no strings attached. It’s just a giant slush fund that the Trump administration can do anything with. Does anyone think for a second that Trump wouldn’t use this as leverage to help his friends and punish his enemies? Of course he would.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

UPDATE — still no bill today:

In other news, Trump is reportedly growing irritated that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, keeps publicly correcting his misstatements about the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources tell the New York Times that “Trump has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci’s blunt approach at the briefing lectern, which often contradicts things the president has just said.”

The president has given Fauci more leeway to contradict him than he has with most other officials, however, because he “knows that Dr. Fauci is seen as credible with a large swath of the public and with journalists.”

The Times also reports that Trump’s frustration with Fauci is part of a broader frustration with medical experts in the White House who have pushed for social distancing as a way to contain the disease.

“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,” the Times reports. “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.”

WaPo has a story confirming something that has long been implicit (based on Trump’s treatment, for a period, of COVID-19 briefings as classified). The intelligence community was tracking and briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak long before it rose to public attention.

U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting.


Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.


The warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies increased in volume toward the end of January and into early February, said officials familiar with the reports. By then, a majority of the intelligence reporting included in daily briefing papers and digests from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA was about covid-19, said officials who have read the reports.

The money line repeats one the CIA used to describe how George Bush ignored warnings about 9/11: the system was blinking red.

“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,” this official said. “The system was blinking red.”

What’s key though (and, because of editing decisions, doesn’t get a lot of focus in the story) is one reason why Trump didn’t heed the warnings of his briefers: because he believed Xi Jingpeng more than he believed the US intelligence community.

The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.


Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response — who was joined by intelligence officials, including from the CIA — told committee members that the virus posed a “serious” threat, one of those officials said.

Kadlec didn’t provide specific recommendations, but he said that to get ahead of the virus and blunt its effects, Americans would need to take actions that could disrupt their daily lives, the official said. “It was very alarming.”

Trump’s insistence on the contrary seemed to rest in his relationship with China’s President Xi Jingping, whom Trump believed was providing him with reliable information about how the virus was spreading in China, despite reports from intelligence agencies that Chinese officials were not being candid about the true scale of the crisis.

We all pay for Robert Kadlec to make sure policymakers get warnings about such things. And yet, Trump refused to believe those warnings because someone he trusted more — Xi — told him differently.

Trump has been permitted to believe his authoritarian buddies over the intelligence community on all manner of things. It derives from two things: first, his own innate fondness for authoritarians. But also, his need to believe Vladimir Putin’s assurances that Russia didn’t help him get elected.

The enabling of Trump’s fondness for dictators will end up being very costly for the United States.

Trump’s tweeting today suggests that he doesn’t understand how viruses work:

And he seems to be anxious about the social distancing and isolation:

Biden says he’ll do his first “presentation” from his new home TV studio (built in what had been a rec room, he says) today around 11:30 a.m. ET.

As for isolation and self-distancing:

Everyone is coping in their own way.

Some of us need humor, from the dumb and punny to the satirical and dark.

Some of us need all the news and updates and details possible.

Some of us need to limit what we take into our brains.

Some of us need the distraction of normalcy. Just because we’re not posting about the news doesn’t mean we’re ignoring it.

Some of us need to leave the house every day and breathe the air and move our bodies. You may even find us standing in the rain.

Some of us are frozen with fear in our homes.

Some of us can work from home.

Some of us still drive to work every day and spend that day sanitizing everything instead of working as much as usual.

Some of us wish that working from home were an option, so we’d still have income.

Some of us go into creative mode, trying new crafts and finishing old ones and tackling those long-planned home improvement projects.

Some of us sit and read or or watch TV or play on our phones for hours.

Some of us are introverts, but we still need human interaction.

Some of us are extroverts, and the energy depletion from lack of socializing is real.

Some of us are clinging to our online friendships like a lifeline.

Some of us are clinging inward to our own family units.

Everyone copes in their own way. We’re just not used to coping en masse

Economy continues to tank. It is at 18,926 as of 10:05 am, down about 244 for the day, most likely on the belief that the unemployment levels will show an unemployment rate something close to what it was during the Great Depression.