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Coronavirus Update
April 20, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Monday, April 20, 2020,  7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 759,786
Number of US deaths: 40,683
Total Number of People Tested in US: 3,882,002 (may not include all labs) 

CNN: US coronavirus death toll tops 40,000
Vox: Nearly two-thirds of Americans think Trump acted too slowly to fight coronavirus
Wall Street Journal: More Americans Fear Lifting Coronavirus Restrictions Too Soon, WSJ/NBC Poll Says

What to watch for

President Trump has no public events scheduled today.  Vice President Pence will visit FEMA headquarters for a call with the nation’s governors.  The coronavirus task force will brief the press at 5:00 PM.

Must Read Stories

Experts Say We Need As Many As 20 Million Tests A Day To Reopen The Economy And We’re Nowhere Close 

  • ABC: ‘Road Map’ To Recovery Report: 20 Million Coronavirus Tests Per Day Needed To Fully Open Economy: With President Donald Trump saying he wants to lift stay-at-home novel coronavirus orders and open up parts of the country, more than 45 economists, social scientists, lawyers and ethicists say there’s a growing consensus pointing to a major step necessary to put Americans back to work: dramatically upscaling testing. […] Test producers will need to deliver 5 million tests per day by early June to safely open parts of the economy by late July, according to the report. To “fully re-mobilize the economy,” the country will need to see testing grow to 20 million a day, the report suggests.
  • Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Testing Hampered by Disarray, Shortages, Backlogs: Amid efforts to expand coronavirus testing, laboratory operators and state health officials are navigating a thicket of supply shortages, widespread test backlogs, unexpected snafus and unreliable results, often with no referee—prolonging the national crisis. Public health experts say fast, widespread testing is a key requirement for safely reopening businesses and returning to something close to normal life, because it would allow officials to detect new cases quickly and stem outbreaks. As President Trump and many of his advisers focus more attention on the nation’s economic reopening, lower ranking officials are trying to sort out the testing puzzle and individual labs are vying for supplies in a fractured and exhausted marketplace.
  • CNN: How Coronavirus Testing Fumbles Squandered Valuable Time: In addition to squandering time on the flawed test, federal officials failed to ensure there would be ample testing supplies to support the effort, established such restrictive testing guidelines that sick people were being denied tests, and did not fully enact a 2018 agreement with public and private labs aimed at quickly enlisting their help in such a health crisis. By the time commercial labs were brought into the effort, the demand for tests was so high that backlogs further delayed results, CNN found.
  • Politico: Trump Invokes DPA For Testing Swabs, Weeks After Reported Shortages: President Donald Trump will use the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce 20 million more coronavirus testing swabs every month — weeks after labs and public health officials started warning that shortages of these swabs were hurting efforts to ramp up testing nationwide.

The Next Fiasco: Antibody Testing 

  • New York Times: Antibody Test, Seen As Key To Reopening Country, Does Not Yet Deliver: In recent weeks, the United States has seen the first rollout of blood tests for coronavirus antibodies, widely heralded as crucial tools to assess the reach of the pandemic in the United States, restart the economy and reintegrate society. But for all their promise, the tests — intended to signal whether people may have built immunity to the virus — are already raising alarms. Officials fear the effort may prove as problematic as the earlier launch of diagnostic tests that failed to monitor which Americans, and how many, had been infected or developed the disease the virus causes. Criticized for a tragically slow and rigid oversight of those tests months ago, the federal government is now faulted by public health officials and scientists for greenlighting the antibody tests too quickly and without adequate scrutiny.
  • Washington Post: Dozens Of Coronavirus Antibody Tests On The Market Were Never Vetted By The FDA, Leading To Accuracy Concerns: The Food and Drug Administration, criticized for slowness in authorizing tests to detect coronavirus infections, has taken a strikingly different approach to antibody tests, allowing more than 90 on the market without prior review, including some marketed fraudulently and of dubious quality, according to testing experts and the agency itself. Antibody, or serological, tests are designed to identify people who may have overcome covid-19, including those who had no symptoms, and developed an immune response. They are not designed to detect active infections. Some officials tout the blood tests as a way to reopen the economy by identifying individuals who have developed immunity and can safely return to work. But many scientists, as well as the World Health Organization, say evidence is lacking that even high-quality antibody tests can prove someone has immunity from the novel coronavirus and is not at risk of being reinfected.

Trump Ignored Months Of Warnings And Now We’re Paying The Price

  • Washington Post: Americans At World Health Organization Transmitted Real-Time Information About Coronavirus To Trump Administration: More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States.
  • Washington Post: U.S. Sent Millions Of Face Masks To China Early This Year, Ignoring Pandemic Warning Signs: U.S. manufacturers shipped millions of dollars’ worth of face masks and other protective medical equipment to China in January and February with encouragement from the federal government, a Washington Post review of economic data and internal government documents has found. The move underscores the Trump administration’s failure to recognize and prepare for the growing pandemic threat. In those two months, the value of protective masks and related items exported from the United States to China grew more than 1,000 percent compared with the same time last year — from $1.4 million to about $17.6 million, according to a Post analysis of customs categories which, according to research by Public Citizen, contain key personal protective equipment (PPE). Similarly, shipments of ventilators and protective garments jumped by triple digits.
  • Wall Street Journal: U.S. Pays High Prices for Masks From Unproven Vendors in Coronavirus Fight: The federal government, scrambling to find N95 masks to protect health-care workers from coronavirus infection, has placed more than $110 million in mask orders at high prices with unproven vendors, according to a Wall Street Journal review of federal contracting data. Of the more than 20 million N95 masks the government ordered for full delivery by the end of May, at least 80% were ordered from suppliers that either had never done business with the federal government or had only taken on small prior contracts that didn’t include medical supplies, according to the data. Some of the vendors already have missed delivery deadlines or have backed out because of supply problems. The parent company of one supplier is in bankruptcy and its owners have been accused of fraud in lawsuits by multiple business partners. The average price the government agreed to pay for masks from vendors offering quick delivery is close to $6 apiece, roughly six times the list price but in line with the current market rate.

Trump And Pence Still Playing The Blame Game 

  • Associated Press: AP Fact Check: Trump Falsely Blames Governors For Virus Test: President Donald Trump is wrongly casting blame on governors and the Obama administration for shortages in coronavirus testing and declaring victory over what he calls relatively low death rates in the U.S. That’s too soon to tell.
  • Politico: Pence Presses Governors To Ramp Up Testing. They Push Back: Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said he believed it was possible to double coronavirus testing capacity with assistance from the nation’s governors — who continue to claim they don’t have what they need to do so.

Trump Is Inflaming Right Wing Anti-Government Extremists And Endangering Public Health For His Reelection 

  • New York Times: Trump, Head of Government, Leans Into Antigovernment Message: First he was the self-described “wartime president.” Then he trumpeted the “total” authority of the federal government. But in the past few days, President Trump has nurtured protests against state-issued stay-at-home orders aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Washington Post: Pro-Gun Activists Using Facebook Groups To Push Anti-Quarantine Protests: A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists.
  • ABC: Charlie Kirk Calls On Students For Trump Members To Launch ‘Peaceful Rebellion Against Governors’ Over Stay-At-Home Orders: As protests against stay-at-home orders due to novel coronavirus break out around the country, Students for Trump, one of the main political groups backing President Donald Trump’s reelection, is calling on its young members to join the efforts. During a virtual convention on Friday for Students for Trump, the college campus arm of Turning Point USA, the group’s founder Charlie Kirk urged members to launch a “peaceful rebellion against governors” in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

Worth Watching

As millions of Amerians lose their health insurance the Trump administration has no plan to cover them for coronavirus treatment — or anything else: 

  • Politico: White House still scrambling to cover virus treatment for the uninsured
  • Wall Street Journal: Surge in Coronavirus Health-Care Costs Spurs Washington to Seek Relief
  • Washington Post: First, the coronavirus pandemic took their jobs. Then, it wiped out their health insurance.

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
ABC: ‘Road map’ to recovery report: 20 million coronavirus tests per day needed to fully open economy
The Atlantic (Ideas): Without More Tests, America Can’t Reopen 
Bloomberg: Trump’s Virus Plan Sets Him Up to Claim Credit and Pass Blame
Bloomberg: Trump Says Some States Are Ready to Reopen. The States Aren’t So Sure.
Bloomberg: Trump Assails ‘Rude and Nasty’ Democrats in Series of Tweets
CNN: How Coronavirus Testing Fumbles Squandered Valuable Time
CNN: ‘Nothing to worry about’ and ‘it’s being contained’: How Trump officials downplayed the coronavirus
CNN: Trump lashes out at governors over testing shortfalls
New York Magazine: The White House Has Erected A Blockade Stopping States and Hospitals From Getting Coronavirus PPE
New York Times: Schools Transform Into ‘Relief’ Kitchens, but Federal Aid Fails to Keep Up
New York Times: A Key G.O.P. Strategy: Blame China. But Trump Goes Off Message.
New York Times: C.D.C. Labs Were Contaminated, Delaying Coronavirus Testing, Officials Say
New York Times: Antibody Test, Seen as Key to Reopening Country, Does Not Yet Deliver
New York Times:  The Coronavirus in America: The Year Ahead 
New York Times (Opinion): Trump Is Asking Us to Play Russian Roulette With Our Lives
Politico: Tax-refund delays mount as IRS struggles with snail mail amid shutdown
Politico: Trump invokes DPA for testing swabs, weeks after reported shortages
Politico: New partisan battle lines emerge over testing
Politico: Pence presses governors to ramp up testing. They push back.
Reuters: Trump warns China could face consequences for virus outbreak
Stat: The months of magical thinking: As the coronavirus swept over China, some experts were in denial
Washington Post: Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration
Washington Post: ‘How do we overcome fear?’ Americans need confidence before life can return to normal.
Washington Post: U.S. sent millions of face masks to China early this year, ignoring pandemic warning signs
Washington Post: Dozens of coronavirus antibody tests on the market were never vetted by the FDA, leading to accuracy concerns
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Pays High Prices for Masks From Unproven Vendors in Coronavirus Fight
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Testing Hampered by Disarray, Shortages, BacklogsTrump’s Lies and Misinformation 
Associated Press: AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely blames governors for virus test
Washington Post (Analysis): Trump and Fox went all-in on a coronavirus silver bullet. But maybe the wrong one.
Washington Post (Opinion): Trump tells a damnable and murderous lieTrump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
NBC: Small-business loan program ran out of money within minutes, some banks say
New York Times: For Charlie Kirk, Conservative Activist, the Virus Is a Cudgel
Politico: Trump team’s use of big insurer to dispense recovery funds comes under scrutiny
Politico: A watchdog out of Trump’s grasp unleashes wave of coronavirus audits
Popular Information: A raw deal
Talking Points Memo: Trump Adviser Takes Heat For Likening Stay-At-Home Protesters To Rosa Parks
Wall Street Journal: How Ruth’s Chris Got an Extra Helping of Small Business Aid Money
Wall Street Journal: Restaurants vs. Insurers Shapes Up as Main Event In D.C. Lobbying Fight
Wall Street Journal (Editorial): Hold Firm on PPP, Mr. Trump
Washington Post: Pro wrestling? Beaches? Golf? Guns? In coronavirus-closed America, it’s all essential somewhere.
Washington Post (Opinion): Hold these Republicans accountable for deaths caused by recklessnessAffordability and Access
Politico: White House still scrambling to cover virus treatment for the uninsured
Wall Street Journal: Surge in Coronavirus Health-Care Costs Spurs Washington to Seek Relief
Washington Post: First, the coronavirus pandemic took their jobs. Then, it wiped out their health insurance.Business
Bloomberg: Shake Shack Will Return Its Entire $10 Million U.S. Government Loan
Reuters: Amazon deploys thermal cameras at warehouses to scan for fevers faster
Wall Street Journal: Walmart’s Coronavirus Challenge Is Just Staying Open
Washington Post (Opinion): How data can aid the fight against covid-19Campaigns and Elections
NBC: How do you know voting by mail works? The U.S. military’s done it since the Civil War.
Politico: Will the Pandemic Keep Third Parties Off the 2020 Ballot?Congress
Associated Press: Tradition-bound Washington adjusts to life in a pandemic
Axios: Bipartisan senators propose $500 billion for states in next coronavirus bill
Politico: ‘I do worry about the optics’: Congress struggles to get off the sidelines
Vox: A new Senate plan would guarantee paychecks for workers who are furloughed or laid offDemocratic Response
The Hill: Washington governor: Trump urges ‘insubordination’ and ‘illegal activity’ by supporting protesters
HuffPost: Biden Campaign Slams Trump On China And Coronavirus In New Battleground Ad
Politico: How one Dem governor stays off Trump’s enemies list
Politico: Gavin Newsom goes from resistance leader to unwitting Trump surrogate
USA Today (Opinion): Tom Daschle and Stacey Abrams: Why rural America is vulnerable to the coronavirus
Washington Post: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is a rising star for Democrats and a target for RepublicansEconomic Impact
Politico: Blank checks, taboos and bazookas: Inside the global battle to prevent another depressionHospitals and Health Care Workers
Axios: The coronavirus could force more doctors to sell — or shutter

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