The Daily COVID-19: Downer and Downer

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

As of 10:30 a.m., the stock market is down 925 points.

[UPDATE: down 850 at 1:45 pm] [UPDATE: at 3:10 pm, it is hovering at around -800] [UPDATE: Dow Jones recovered 505 points in last 15 minutes but closed down 356 points on the day. That’s about 3600 points down this week – roughly 12%. The Dow and the S&P 500 had their worst weeks since the financial crisis of 2008]

Biden was interviewed on Friday morning’s edition of CNN’s New Day, and anchor John Berman kicked off the conversation by asking about the growing pandemic.

“We see the stock market falling, the worst week since the financial crisis, which I know you lived through as a senator and then vice president,” Berman said, asking “How serious do you think the economic impact will be from the coronavirus?”

“I’m less concerned about the immediate economic impact than I am about whether or not we gain control of this,” Biden said. “The idea that the experts are not allowed to speak, the president has silenced him, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, who was in three administrations, worked in our administrations, we took care of Ebola, the idea that the whistleblower came out today saying that the people we sent to the air base to receive incoming folks were not trained, they didn’t have the right suits on, I mean this is time.”

“Let the experts take this over. Everyone will have more confidence,” Biden said, and added “I think one of the reasons it’s falling is not just the pandemic, concern quote unquote, but the way in which the president is handling this.”

It has become partisan:

Several House Republicans walked out of a closed-door coronavirus briefing Friday with Trump health officials in protest after a senior Democrat blasted the Trump administration’s handling of the response effort.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) kicked off the briefing sharply criticizing the administration as disorganized and lacking urgency in combating the coronavirus, lawmakers said. Her eight-minute speech frustrated Republicans and some Democrats assembled to hear from the slate of officials from the CDC, NIH and State Department.

“If I wanted to hear the politics of it, I’d read POLITICO or something, let’s be serious,” said Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), who was among the walkouts.

DeLauro’s comments were indicative of the growing political tensions around the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus response. President Donald Trump, who has publicly tried to downplay the virus through misleading claims, just after midnight took to Twitter to complain that Democrats were pinning the crisis on him.

But at least one Democrat also left the briefing irritated. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), who led the health department under President Bill Clinton, said DeLauro’s diatribe missed the purpose of the meeting.

“No one wanted to hear that, either the Democrats or Republican. We just wanted to hear the substance,” she said.

DeLauro, the leading House health appropriator, accused the administration of a lack of urgency and warned that there were several crucial questions that remained unanswered about the coronavirus response. As lawmakers transferred to a bigger room to accommodate all the attendees, a visibly frustrated DeLauro told colleagues she didn’t “give a rat’s ass” and about the reaction and that members needed answers from the administration.

“I feel that the issue on resources and current expenditures has been less than adequate and that these are some of the questions that we have to get answered,” she told reporters afterward. “I quite frankly don’t worry about people who may have a concern. I just know that the questions are right.”

The briefing, led by CDC Director Robert Redfield and NIH infectious disease specialist Tony Fauci, was called to update members on the state of the coronavirus’ spread.

The problem is supply lines. Consumers are still spending, but what is coming out of China — both the raw materials and the finished goods — is slowing down to a trickle.

As with any crisis, there is plenty of fraud for those who want to take advantage, has banned the sale of over a million products in the last few weeks for inaccurate coronavirus health claims, the company told Reuters on Thursday.

The struggle is real. If you search for “Purell” or “N95 mask” on Amazon in the USA today, the supplies are gone, or the offers are ridiculously higher than normal.


Amazon also removed tens of thousands of deals from merchants that it said attempted to price-gouge customers. The world’s largest online retailer has faced scrutiny over the health-related offers on its platform, and earlier this week Italy launched a probe into surging prices around the internet for sanitizing gels and hygiene masks while it battled the biggest outbreak in Europe. (…) One offer comparison site showed recent examples of higher-than-usual prices for masks on Amazon made by U.S. industrial conglomerate 3M Co.

A merchant Thursday offered a 10-pack of N95 masks for $128, a Reuters reporter saw when clicking through the buying options on Amazon. That was up from a recent seller average price of $41.24, according to the tracking website The item was no longer available in a check later in the day.

A two-pack respirator was offered new at $24.99 earlier this week by a third-party seller, up from a recent average of $6.65 when sold by Amazon, the price-following site showed.

“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” a spokeswoman said in a statement, citing the company’s policy that product information must be accurate and that Amazon can take down offers that hurt customer trust, including when pricing “is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon.”

On other virus news, the U.S. Navy today ordered all ships that have made stops in the Pacific to self-quarantine at sea for 14 days and said that all sailors who had traveled to high-risk areas should be closely monitored.

“At this time, there are no indications that any U.S. Navy personnel have contracted coronavirus,” the Navy said in a statement. “The health and welfare of our sailors, civilians and their families is paramount, and our efforts are directed at detection and, if required, prevention of the spread of this illness.”