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Coronavirus Update
April 15, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Wednesday, April 15 7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 609,685
Number of US deaths: 26,059
Total Number of People Tested in US: 3,120,381 (may not include all labs) 

Bloomberg: Who Would Have Predicted This? Americans Excel at Staying Home
Newsweek: U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Passes 25,000 As Hundreds Continue To Die In New York Every Day

What to Watch For

President Trump holds a series of phone calls with banking, hospitality, health care, agriculture, manufacturing, sports and other industry groups today. The coronavirus task force will brief the press at 5:00 PM.

Must Read Stories

Trump’s Failures Have Cost American Lives And Precious Time Fighting The Outbreak

  • New York Times (Opinion): The Huge Cost of Waiting to Contain the Pandemic: On March 16, the White House issued initial social distancing guidelines, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10. But an estimated 90 percent of the cumulative deaths in the United States from Covid-19, at least from the first wave of the epidemic, might have been prevented by putting social distancing policies into effect two weeks earlier, on March 2, when there were only 11 deaths in the entire country. The effect would have been substantial had the policies been imposed even one week earlier, on March 9, resulting in approximately a 60 percent reduction in deaths.
  • Politico: 5 Ways The Trump Administration Fell Short Of Its Own Pandemic Goals: As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the U.S., claiming more than 23,600 lives as of Tuesday, the Trump administration has come under fire for disregarding guidance from past administrations on combating a pandemic and for pushing for funding cuts to some core public health programs on which the country now depends. But the administration has also failed to meet the goals laid out in its own pandemic plan, which was developed in the first year of Trump’s presidency and released in December 2017. 
  • Politico: What The President Said He Did On The Virus — And What He Actually Did: President Donald Trump, stung by accusations that he was slow to act on the coronavirus pandemic, has released a long list of key actions the administration took to save lives. But the list, released by his campaign, overstates some of his actions – and leaves out the inactions.

Testing In The US Has Slowed Dramatically  And We’re Woefully Behind On Contact Tracing 

  • Politico: Coronavirus Testing Hits Dramatic Slowdown In U.S.: The number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week, even though new infections are still surging in many states and officials are desperately trying to ramp up testing so the country can reopen. One reason for the drop-off may be the narrow testing criteria that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last revised in March. The agency’s guidelines prioritize hospitalized patients, health care workers and those thought to be especially vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly. Health providers have been turning away others in part due to shortages of the swabs used to collect samples. It’s not clear whether demand has peaked among the groups on the CDC’s priority list. But after being overwhelmed for weeks, commercial labs say they are now sitting with unused testing capacity waiting for samples to arrive.
  • Washington Post: Coronavirus testing is stalling. That’s not a good sign for re-opening the U.S. economy: “The number of tests performed daily still falls far short of what experts suggest is needed to allow Americans to start resuming normal activities.”
  • Axios: The Latest Coronavirus Red Flag: Contact Tracing:  Widespread contact tracing will be key to the next phase of our coronavirus response, but the U.S. is severely behind. Why it matters: Contact tracing — tracking down the people who have interacted with a coronavirus patient, so they can quarantine — helps prevent the virus from spreading. As with diagnostic testing, the U.S. missed its chance to do this before the coronavirus caseload got too high.

Trump And Republicans Aren’t Looking Out For You 

  • Washington Post: Coming To Your $1,200 Relief Check: Donald J. Trump’s Name:  The Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name be printed on stimulus checks the Internal Revenue Service is rushing to send to tens of millions of Americans, a process that is expected to slow their delivery by several days, senior agency officials said. The unprecedented decision, finalized late Monday, means that when recipients open the $1,200 paper checks the IRS is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, “President Donald J. Trump” will appear on the left side of the payment.
  • Washington Post: Tax Change In Coronavirus Package Overwhelmingly Benefits Millionaires, Congressional Body Finds: More than 80 percent of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually, according to a report by a nonpartisan congressional body expected to be released Tuesday. The provision, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation.
  • Bloomberg: Stimulus Oversight Panel Has One Person Trying to Watch $2.2 Trillion Alone: On April 6, Bharat Ramamurti became the first person named to the Congressional Oversight Commission supposed to police the massive coronavirus relief fund. A former top staffer for Senator Elizabeth Warren, Ramamurti expected to have company — the new law requires congressional leaders to appoint a five-member panel. He’s still waiting. As tens of billions of taxpayer dollars from the $2.2 trillion relief bill begin flowing out the door, Ramamurti remains the lone member appointed to the panel. With no colleagues, no staff, and no office, he’s had to rely on one of the few avenues he has to communicate with the public: his unverified Twitter feed.

Trump Wants To Pass The Blame For The Coronavirus Disaster To Anyone Else

  • New York Times: Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.: For weeks, President Trump has faced relentless criticism for having overseen a slow and ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to quickly embrace public health measures that could have prevented the disease from spreading. Recent polls show that more Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of the virus than approve. So on Tuesday, the president tried to shift the blame elsewhere, ordering his administration to halt funding for the World Health Organization and claiming the organization made a series of devastating mistakes as it sought to battle the virus. He said his administration would conduct a review into whether the W.H.O. was responsible for “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread.

Worth Watching

Republicans are increasingly frantic to “re-open” the economy even if it means the deaths of thousands of Americans:

  • CNN: GOP congressman says letting more Americans die of coronavirus is lesser of two evils compared to economy tanking
  • Politico: ‘Should have happened yesterday’: Republicans press Trump to restart economy
  • New York Times: Trump Announces His ‘Opening the Country’ Council
  • Washington Post: Trump Wants To Declare Country Open By May 1 — But The Reality Will Be Much Slower

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
Associated Press: Fauci: ‘We’re not there yet’ on key steps to reopen economy
The Atlantic: Our Pandemic Summer
Axios: The latest coronavirus red flag: contact tracing
Business Insider: Trump tweeted almost 900 times in February but mentioned the coronavirus just 20 times
CNN: Prominent scientists have bad news for the White House about coronavirus antibody tests
CNN: Trump retreats from ‘absolute authority’ in whiplash move
Daily Beast: Trump Aide Peter Navarro Warned Of A Deadly Pandemic Emerging From China—In 2006
HuffPost: FEMA Accused Of Hijacking Protective Gear For First Responders In Massachusetts Town
New York Times: Trump Announces His ‘Opening the Country’ Council
New York Times: Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O
New York Times (Opinion): The Huge Cost of Waiting to Contain the Pandemic
Politico: Why Trump can’t flip the switch on the economy
Politico: ‘Flat-out wrong’: Conservatives clobber Trump’s ‘total’ power boast
Politico: What the president said he did on the virus — and what he actually did
Politico: 5 ways the Trump administration fell short of its own pandemic goals
Politico: Trump’s new health care legacy: Big expansion of federal role
Politico: Coronavirus testing hits dramatic slowdown in U.S.
Politico: As Trump flexes, Murphy says federal help has been lacking
Vox: The case for ending the Covid-19 pandemic with mass testing
Wall Street Journal: FEMA Joined Coronavirus Fight With Posts Unfilled and Parent Agency Shifting Funds to Immigration
Washington Post: Trump’s inaccurate assertion of ‘total’ authority sparks challenge from governors
Washington Post: CDC, FEMA have created a plan to reopen America. Here’s what it says.
Washington Post: Trump wants to declare country open by May 1 — but the reality will be much slower
Washington Post (Analysis): Trump and Fauci didn’t actually deny that health officials wanted stronger measures in February

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation 
Bloomberg: Airline Pilots Barred From Taking Drug Trump Touts For Virus
CNN: Fact check: Trump denies saying another thing he said and makes more false claims at coronavirus briefing
NBC: Fauci: Trump coronavirus briefings are ‘really draining’
Politico: How a pair of anti-vaccine activists sparked a #FireFauci furor
Washington Post (Analysis): Trump’s propaganda-laden, off-the-rails coronavirus briefing

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
Alabama Political Reporter: Governor: It would “irresponsible” for Alabama to expand Medicaid right now
American Prospect: Your Coronavirus Check Is Coming. Your Bank Can Grab It.
Bloomberg: Stimulus Oversight Panel Has One Person Trying to Watch $2.2 Trillion Alone
CNN: GOP congressman says letting more Americans die of coronavirus is lesser of two evils compared to economy tanking
New York Times: ‘Unbelievable’ Timing: As Coronavirus Rages, Trump Disregards Advice to Tighten Clean Air Rules
New York Times: The WWE Is Now Considered an ‘Essential Service’ in Florida
Politico: Democrats tread carefully with Trump amid coronavirus ‘hunger games’
Politico: ‘Should have happened yesterday’: Republicans press Trump to restart economy
Popular Information: Playing favorites 
Washington Post: Coming To Your $1,200 Relief Check: Donald J. Trump’s Name:
Washington Post: Trump officials reject stricter air quality standards, despite link between air pollution, coronavirus risks
Washington Post: Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, congressional body finds
Washington Post: Hotels sit vacant during the pandemic. But some locals don’t want homeless people moving in.

Affordability And Access
Pew Stateline: Health Coverage for Unemployed Harder to Come By in Some States

New York Magazine: The Companies That Stand to Profit From the Pandemic

Campaigns and Elections
Talking Points Memo: Only A Handful Of States Are Ready For The Mail-In Voting Election COVID-19 Will Bring

Democratic Response
Politico: Economic meltdown gives Democrats new hope in Texas
Vox: Democrats have a new plan to keep millions of laid-off workers insured
Washington Post: As Trump speaks, Pelosi warns Americans to ‘ignore the lies’

Economic Impact
Associated Press: Cities, counties fear losing out on US virus rescue funding
Bloomberg: Airline Industry Now Sees $314 Billion in Lost 2020 Ticket Sales
Politico: IMF predicts global contraction on par with Great Depression
Wall Street Journal: Thirst for Oil Vanishes, Leaving Industry in Chaos

Axios: College students’ future jobs take a big hit
Los Angeles Times: Social distancing in a classroom? Newsom suggests major changes when schools reopen

Hospitals and Health Care Workers
Business Insider: More than 9,200 healthcare workers in the US have gotten the coronavirus, and it shows the outbreak’s toll on the front lines of the response to the pandemic
New York Times: What Doctors on the Front Lines Wish They’d Known a Month Ago
Politico: Hospitals still searching for equipment, despite glimmers of hope
Wall Street Journal: New York City Seeks Rain Ponchos as Surgical Gowns Dwindle
Washington Post: Patients in pain, dentists in distress: In a pandemic, the problem with teeth

Immigration and Travel
ProPublica: At Least 19 Children at a Chicago Shelter for Immigrant Detainees Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

The Atlantic: Stop Blaming Black People for Dying of the Coronavirus
New York Times: Police Handcuff Black Doctor Who Tests Homeless for Coronavirus

Associated Press: China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days
Bloomberg: Europe Planning How to Get Back to Work After Virus Is Tamed
CNN: One third of NHS staff and key workers tested in the UK have coronavirus, amid concerns over access to protective equipment
NPR: Taiwan Reports No New Coronavirus Cases, Adding To Success In Fighting Pandemic
New York Times: Lesson From Singapore: Why We May Need to Think Bigger
Washington Post: Now joining the fight against coronavirus: The world’s armed rebels, drug cartels and gangs

In the States
CNN: California governor outlines plan to reopen in conjunction with West Coast states
CNN: Photos show bodies piled up and stored in vacant rooms at Detroit hospital
New York Times: Why New Orleans Pushed Ahead With Mardi Gras, Even as It Planned for Coronavirus

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