CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — APRIL 21, 2020

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Coronavirus Update
April 21, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Tuesday, April 21, 2020,  7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 787,960
Number of US deaths: 42,364
Total Number of People Tested in US: 4,026,572 (may not include all labs)

Axios: Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Week 6: Too risky to go back to “normal”
HuffPost: The American Public Isn’t Ready To Reopen America
Washington Post: Most rate Trump’s coronavirus response negatively and expect crowds will be unsafe until summer, Post-U. Md. poll finds

What to Watch For

President Trump meets with Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Oval Office at 4:00 PM.  The coronavirus task force briefs the press at 5:00 PM.

Must Read Stories

Chaos Reigns In Testing And Contract Tracing — And Trump Still Refuses To Plan

  • Politico: Tracking The Virus May Require 300,000 Workers. We’re Nowhere Close:  The country only has a fraction of workers needed to trace the coronavirus, as health departments are scraping together a rag tag army of graduate students, workers from a city attorney’s office and even librarians. Before the pandemic, state and local health departments had fewer than 2,000 workers carrying out contact tracing — the detailed investigatory work to track and stop outbreaks of everything from syphilis to measles. The real number needed could be somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 — an astronomical figure that seems near impossible to reach without a massive national program to build a highly trained public health workforce.
  • Yahoo: Chaos Reigns With More Than 100 Coronavirus Antibody Tests In Use — And Only 4 With Government Approval: With President Trump and many others eager to see the country recover from the coronavirus, antibody tests are emerging as a crucial marker of just how prepared the nation is to lift restrictive measures that have kept about nine out of 10 Americans under lockdown for weeks. Those tests have been quickly brought to market, with maximum speed and minimum oversight, recalling the disorganized rollout of diagnostic tests throughout March. And this time around, the near-total absence of federal regulation could result in the American market being flooded with tests that one former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described as “junk.” There are now 110 different corporations and laboratories offering coronavirus tests, but only four of those tests have been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration under Emergency Use Authorization guidelines. 
  • NBC: Ex-FDA Chief Says U.S. Not Likely To Have Broad-based Coronavirus Testing Until September:  Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Monday that the U.S. most likely won’t have broad-based coronavirus testing in place until September. “We’re not going to be there. We’re not going to be there in May, we’re not going to be there in June, hopefully we’ll be there by September,” Gottlieb said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
  • Politico: ‘Another Nail In An Almost Closed Coffin’: Trump Faces His Next Coronavirus Test:   President Donald Trump’s political fate now hinges on a simple premise: Everybody who needs a coronavirus test must be able to get a test. More than five weeks into a devastating shutdown of the U.S. economy, Trump’s aides and advisers inside and outside his administration now view disapproval of his preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic as his biggest political liability heading into the 2020 election. The president and his team in the White House are rushing to counter perceptions and develop a coherent message about the nation’s ability to test Americans for the coronavirus quickly and broadly, a prerequisite governors and business leaders have outlined to successfully get the economy back on track. The message coming out of the White House on testing varies day to day.

Polling Shows Americans Are Not Ready For Reopening Even As Some Governors Race To Force Them Back To Work

  • Axios: Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Week 6: Too Risky To Go Back To “Normal”:  Most Americans feel it would be risky to return to “normal” life just yet, and would wait indefinitely or at least for a few more months for the threat of coronavirus infection to subside, per the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.
  • HuffPost: The American Public Isn’t Ready To Reopen America: There’s a new silent majority in America: the millions of people who have remained quietly withdrawn from public life in an effort to stem the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.  Over the past week, small protests against stay-at-home orders ― obliquely encouraged by President Donald Trump ― have dotted the nation. Their highly visible frustration, however, doesn’t reflect a wider groundswell of public support for those orders. Instead, a new set of HuffPost/YouGov polling finds that the overwhelming majority of Americans are supportive of state stay-at-home orders and are making an effort to stay home themselves. Most respondents say that they’d continue to stay home even with no limitations in place. And far more are concerned about states reopening too quickly than taking too long to do so.
  • Bloomberg: Southern States Push to Reopen With Economic Pressure Rising: Southern Republican governors who were among the last to institute shelter-at-home orders are now pushing to become the first to lift them. Tattoo parlors, movie theaters and nail salons in Georgia will begin opening up this week along with beaches, florists and shoe shops in South Carolina. […] Coming just four days after President Donald Trump issued the guidelines, the announcements raised questions about whether the states were moving too quickly.

Trump Does Battle With Governors As His Refusal To Take Responsibility Delays Aid To Small Businesses And Hospitals

  • New York Times: Dispute Over Virus Testing Delays Deal on Aid to Small Businesses and Hospitals:  A dispute between Democrats and the White House over how to handle coronavirus testing emerged on Monday as one of the most significant sticking points as negotiators struggled to finalize a nearly $500 billion bipartisan agreement to replenish a loan program for small businesses and provide more funding for hospitals and testing. Democrats are pushing to include a requirement in the measure, which is likely to include $25 billion for testing, that the Trump administration establish a national testing strategy, a move the president and Republicans have resisted, insisting on leaving those decisions to each state.
  • Politico: Trump Revs Up For A State-by-state Fight Over Coronavirus Shutdowns: President Donald Trump is preparing for a long battle with America’s governors to save himself from the political fallout from coronavirus. Over the next two weeks at the urging of the Trump administration, the map of the U.S. will start to resemble a patchwork quilt, with some states open for business while others remain locked down because of the spread of the virus. Trump has said the onus for reopening states lies with their leaders, but he has simultaneously tried to pressure governors into restarting businesses and relaxing health guidelines as soon as possible.
  • Vox: Trump Attacks A Republican Governor For Following His Coronavirus Testing Advice: Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) followed President Donald Trump’s advice and took coronavirus testing into his own hands. Trump attacked him anyway. Trump began Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing by criticizing Hogan — chair of the National Governors Association — for turning to foreign source to buy coronavirus tests. “The governor of Maryland didn’t really understand,” Trump said, describing a call that Vice President Mike Pence had with governors earlier in the day to encourage them to do more to increase coronavirus testing on their own. “He didn’t really understand what was going on.”

Trump Uses Cover Of Pandemic To Pursue Unrelated Extreme Agenda

  • Wall Street Journal: Trump to Temporarily Halt Immigration Into the U.S. Amid Coronavirus Crisis:  President Trump said he plans to sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the U.S., saying he was doing so to protect American jobs as the novel coronavirus has taken a sharp toll on the economy. In a tweet Monday night, he said he was signing the executive order “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy”—a reference to the coronavirus—“as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.” He didn’t provide further details.
  • Washington Post: White House Readies Push To Slash Regulations As Major Part Of Its Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan: Senior White House and Trump administration officials are planning to launch a sweeping effort in the coming days to repeal or suspend federal regulations affecting businesses, with the expected executive action seen by advisers as a way to boost an economy facing its worst shock in generations, two people familiar with the internal planning said. The White House-driven initiative is expected to center on suspending federal regulations for small businesses and expanding an existing administration program that requires agencies to revoke two regulations for every new one they issue, the two people said. While the plan remains in flux, changes could affect environmental policy, labor policy, workplace safety and health care, among other areas.
  • New York Times: How Abortion, Guns and Church Closings Made Coronavirus a Culture War: The new patchwork of state and local policies designed to flatten the spread of the coronavirus is inflaming old passions over some of the most contentious issues in politics. Guns, abortion, voting rights and religious expression — concerns that would seem to have little to do with a virus that has sickened millions of Americans and killed more than 37,000 — have emerged as fault lines in the debate over how government is responding to the crisis.  President Trump does on occasion speak about the importance of social distancing, as he did on Monday, but he is also encouraging discontent, seeing it as a source of raw emotion he can tap as protesters across the country wave “Trump 2020” flags and demand that the country reopen. With messages last week to his Twitter followers to “LIBERATE” states where residents are now under orders to limit their movement — specifically, Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, all led by Democratic governors — he is feeding what conservatives described as a rising sense of restlessness on the right.

Worth Watching

“Small Business” loans have been snatched up by giant corporations leaving struggling Main Street businesses out in the cold and desperate for support:

  • Washington Post: White House, GOP face heat after hotel and restaurant chains helped run small business program dry
  • HuffPost: Congress Actually Wanted Huge Restaurant Chains To Get Small Business Loans
  • Wall Street Journal: In Race for Small-Business Loans, Winning Hinged on Where Firms Bank
  • Politico: Banks warn that new small-business funding could evaporate in 2 days

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
The Atlantic (Ideas): We Are Living In A Failed State 
Axios: Employers bear the brunt of the coronavirus reopening
The Hill: Pressure builds on White House to increase tests
NBC: Ex-FDA chief says U.S. not likely to have broad-based coronavirus testing until September
New York Times: Frustrated by Lack of Coronavirus Tests, Maryland Got 500,000 From South Korea
New York Times: Dispute Over Virus Testing Delays Deal on Aid to Small Businesses and Hospitals
Politico: Tracking the virus may require 300,000 workers. We’re nowhere close.
Politico: ‘Another nail in an almost closed coffin’: Trump faces his next coronavirus test
Politico: Surgeon general gets pushed to sidelines, sparking questions
Politico: White House deploys SWAT teams of technocrats in attempt to fix testing
Politico: Trump revs up for a state-by-state fight over coronavirus shutdowns
Politico: WHO head warns worst of virus is still ahead
Politico: Murphy: Testing capacity must double before New Jersey can reopen
Vox: Trump attacks a Republican governor for following his coronavirus testing advice
Washington Post: Brett Giroir, Trump’s testing czar, was forced out of a job developing vaccine projects. Now he’s on the hot seat.
Yahoo: Chaos reigns with more than 100 coronavirus antibody tests in use — and only 4 with government approval

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation 
CNN: Fact check: Trump falsely describes his travel history during briefing with more inaccuracies
Politico: Trump tones down the hydroxychloroquine hype
Vox: Why Trump’s efforts to blame Obama for the coronavirus make absolutely no sense
Washington Post: It’s 5 o’clock. Do you know where your president is?

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
Bloomberg: White House Tells Federal Workers to Prepare to Return to Office
Bloomberg: Southern States Push to Reopen With Economic Pressure Rising
The Bulwark: Stop Giving Jared and Ivanka a Free Pass
The Bulwark: How Trump Turned the Pandemic Into Identity Politics
Buzzfeed: They Own More Than 1,000 Burger Kings. They May Apply For A Coronavirus Small Business Loan.
Buzzfeed: Smithfield Foods Is Blaming “Living Circumstances In Certain Cultures” For One Of America’s Largest COVID-19 Clusters
HuffPost: School Lunch Programs Are Rapidly Going Broke
HuffPost: Congress Actually Wanted Huge Restaurant Chains To Get Small Business Loans
McClatchy: Postal Service collapse could devastate seniors, small businesses and rural areas
New York Times: How Abortion, Guns and Church Closings Made Coronavirus a Culture War
Politico: Less than 1 percent of federal emergency cash for college students doled out
Politico: Banks warn that new small-business funding could evaporate in 2 days
Wall Street Journal: Trump to Temporarily Halt Immigration Into the U.S. Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Wall Street Journal: In Race for Small-Business Loans, Winning Hinged on Where Firms Bank
Washington Post: Treasury officials finalize agreements with airlines for coronavirus-related relief
Washington Post: White House, GOP face heat after hotel and restaurant chains helped run small business program dry
Washington Post: White House readies push to slash regulations as major part of its coronavirus economic recovery plan

Affordability and Access
Business Insider: A 36-year-old man in Nevada lost his job and his family’s health insurance as the pandemic shuttered restaurants. Now, his wife’s expecting a baby. Their story is becoming increasingly common in America.
New York Times: The Pandemic’s Hidden Victims: Sick or Dying, but Not From the Virus

Business
Business Insider: Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores are most at risk of unionizing

Campaigns and Elections
CNN: McDaniel: RNC moving ‘full steam ahead’ with convention plans but could reassess this summer
The Intercept: Milwaukee Documents Seven Coronavirus Cases Linked To In-person Voting

Congress
HuffPost: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She’ll Vote Against Stimulus Bill Without Changes
Vanity Fair: “What the Fuck Am I Supposed to Do Now?”: In Washington, a Breakdown of Politics As Usual

Economic Impact
Axios: America’s food supply chain moves backward
Bloomberg: Toilet Paper Shortages May Get Worse on Sawmill Slowdown in Canada
Bloomberg: U.S. Travel Group Sees Lost Sales Of $520 Billion by Year-End
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Oil Costs Less Than Zero After a Sharp Monday Selloff

Hospitals and Health Care Workers
NBC: Nurses are protesting working conditions under coronavirus — and say hospitals aren’t protecting them
NPR: Shortage Of Dialysis Equipment Leads To Difficult Decisions In New York ICUs
Politico: Health care work force is recession proof. Is it ‘pandemic proof?’
Wall Street Journal: New York Nurses Allege Inadequate Safety Protocols in Lawsuits Against State, Hospital Systems

Inequality
WTVD: Black Americans could suffer more financially from COVID-19 pandemic, economists say

International
Reuters: South Koreans return to work, crowd parks, malls as social distancing rules ease
Washington Post: Nations credited with fast response to coronavirus moving to gradually reopen businesses
Washington Post: Billionaires’ compound with its own coronavirus testing center stokes anger on the French Riviera
Washington Post: Centuries-old Ramadan traditions and practices upended by coronavirus

In the States
Associated Press: Iowa Meat Plants Will Stay Open Despite Risks, Governor Says
Atlanta Journal Constitution: Kemp reopens some businesses, despite warnings COVID-19 still a threat
Bloomberg: Iowa Sends National Guard Troops to Defend Meat Plants From Virus
Detroit Free Press: Poll: Michiganians favor Whitmer’s COVID-19 handling over Trump’s
New York Times: The Long, Hard Road Ahead To Revive New York City’s Economy 


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