CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — APRIL 23, 2020

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Coronavirus Update
April 23, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Thursday, April 23, 2020,  7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 842,624
Number of US deaths: 46,785
Total Number of People Tested in US: 4,482,434 (may not include all labs)

Associated Press: AP-NORC poll: Few Americans support easing virus protections
CBS: Americans prioritize staying home and worry restrictions will lift too fast – CBS News poll
New York Times: What 5 Coronavirus Models Say the Next Month Will Look Like


What to Watch For

President Trump has no public events scheduled today.  The coronavirus task force will brief the press at 5:00 PM.


Must Read Stories

Trump’s Lost Month Of February: Another Management Failure, Another Example Of Him Not Listening To Experts As The US Fell Behind Other Nations In Testing

  • Reuters: Special Report: Former Labradoodle Breeder Tapped To Lead U.S. Pandemic Task Force: On January 21, the day the first U.S. case of coronavirus was reported, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services appeared on Fox News to report the latest on the disease as it ravaged China. Alex Azar, a 52-year-old lawyer and former drug industry executive, assured Americans the U.S. government was prepared. […] Shortly after his televised comments, Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him “the dog breeder.” Azar’s optimistic public pronouncement and choice of an inexperienced manager are emblematic of his agency’s oft-troubled response to the crisis.

Experts And Governors Agree: States Aren’t Ready To Reopen 

  • Washington Post: States Rushing To Reopen Are Likely Making A Deadly Error, Coronavirus Models And Experts Warn: By the end of the week, residents in Georgia will be able to get their hair permed and nails done. By Monday, they will be cleared for action flicks at the cineplex and burgers at their favorite greasy spoon. And it will almost certainly lead to more novel coronavirus infections and deaths. As several states — including South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — rush to reopen businesses, the sudden relaxation of restrictions will supply new targets for the coronavirus that has kept the United States largely closed down, according to experts, math models and the basic rules that govern infectious diseases.
  • Politico: Governors Release New Plan For Reopening — And Suggest Few States Are Ready: A new road map from the nation’s governors for reopening the economy urges a cautious approach, saying the White House must dramatically ramp up testing and help states bolster other public health measures before social distancing can be safely pulled back. The plan from the National Governors Association and state health officials suggests a wide-scale reopening of the country isn’t imminent, even as President Donald Trump roots on Southern states that are dialing down restrictions despite warnings from health experts.
  • Washington Post (Analysis): The Trump Administration Says States Have The Testing Capacity They Need. Governors Say They Lack Testing Supplies:  Nearly one-third of governors over the past week have said they lack sufficient coronavirus testing supplies to reopen their states, according to a Fix analysis of public statements. The comments come as the Trump administration in recent days said states have the testing capacity needed to start to reopen if they choose. “Ultimately, we’re doing more testing I think than probably any of the governors even want,” President Trump said Tuesday. Many of the 16 governors who have said they lack testing supplies have not disputed they have ample testing capacity to start to reopen, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other hindrances. Some, like New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), have said his state needs to double existing testing, while others like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) have said his state needs to quintuple existing testing.

Trump Administration Muzzles Critical Scientists, Endangering Americans’ Lives

  • New York Times: Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster: The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.” Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and removed as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Washington Post: Under Trump, Coronavirus Scientists Can Speak — As Long As They Mostly Toe The Line: The remarkable spectacle provided another illustration of the president’s tenuous relationship with his own administration’s scientific and public health experts, where the unofficial message from the Oval Office is an unmistakable warning: Those who challenge the president’s erratic and often inaccurate coronavirus views will be punished — or made to atone. In a statement Wednesday, for example, Rick Bright — who until recently led the agency working on a coronavirus vaccine — said he was removed from his post for resisting efforts to “provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public.” The result is a culture in which public health officials find themselves scrambling to appease and placate Trump, a mercurial boss who is focused as much on political and economic considerations as scientific ones.
  • Reuters: Trump Has CDC Director Clarify Remarks on Second Virus Wave:  The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was called on by President Donald Trump on Wednesday to walk back his remark that the second wave of novel coronavirus in the fall could be worse than the current situation. CDC Director Robert Redfield made the widely circulated comment in an interview Tuesday with the Washington Post. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the health expert was misquoted and would be putting out a statement. Redfield, however, said he was quoted accurately. “I think it’s really important to emphasize what I didn’t say: I didn’t say that this was going to be worse,” Redfield said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing. “I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated because we’re going to have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time.”

They’re Doing It Again: Pence And Trump Downplay Risks Of A Second Wave Of Infections

  • The Hill: Trump Says Coronavirus ‘May Not Come Back At All’: President Trump on Wednesday expressed confidence that the coronavirus will not hit the U.S. with the same severity if it returns in the fall, suggesting that the disease that has killed tens of thousands of Americans “may not come back at all.” The comments came as part of a broader diatribe against a Washington Post headline that he felt unfairly characterized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) warning that a second wave of the coronavirus could coincide with flu season.  But Trump’s assertion that the virus would either be weakened or nonexistent in the fall breaks with medical experts who have cautioned that it will be present in American life for months or years to come.
  • Wall Street Journal: Pence Says Coronavirus Could Be Largely Past by Early June: Vice President Mike Pence said the White House hopes the coronavirus epidemic can be “largely in the past” by early June. Mr. Pence didn’t make a firm prediction about when the U.S. economy can be fully reopened. But he said “the trend lines continue to be encouraging,” including in some of the country’s most hard-hit cities, and offered a generally ambitious timeline for revival of normal activities. “We truly do believe as we move forward, with responsibly beginning to reopen the economy in state after state around the country, that by early June, we could be at a place where this coronavirus epidemic is largely in the past,” Mr. Pence said in an interview Wednesday with “The Journal,” a Gimlet and Wall Street Journal podcast.

Worth Watching

Across the Trump administration agencies are failing to protect their workers and the American people from the threat of coronavirus: 

  • Politico: Democrats blast Trump team’s handling of federal workers in coronavirus crisis
  • Politico: Agriculture Department leaves meat inspectors hunting for safety gear
  • Associated Press: VA medical facilities struggle to cope with coronavirus
  • Kaiser Health News: OSHA Probing Health Worker Deaths But Urges Inspectors To Spare The Penalties

Other News

Trump’s Failures 

Associated Press: VA medical facilities struggle to cope with coronavirus
Kaiser Health News: OSHA Probing Health Worker Deaths But Urges Inspectors To Spare The Penalties
NBC: Some places have flattened the coronavirus curve but nationally, we’re not even close
New York Times (Opinion): Another Problem With the U.S. Virus Response, in a Chart
New York Times: Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster
New York Times: A Coronavirus Death in Early February Was ‘Probably the Tip of an Iceberg’
New York Times: The Cold Calculations America’s Leaders Will Have to Make Before Reopening
Politico: Ousted vaccine expert battles with Trump team over his abrupt dismissal
Politico: Trump says he told Kemp: ‘I totally disagree’ with move to reopen Georgia
Politico: Democrats blast Trump team’s handling of federal workers in coronavirus crisis
Politico: Governors release new plan for reopening — and suggest few states are ready
Politico: Trump downplays risk of coronavirus rebound
Politico: Agriculture Department leaves meat inspectors hunting for safety gear
Reuters: Special Report: Former Labradoodle breeder tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force
Reuters: Trump Has CDC Director Clarify Remarks on Second Virus Wave
Vox: Opening up the economy won’t save the economy
Wall Street Journal: Health Chief’s Early Missteps Set Back Coronavirus Response
Wall Street Journal: Pence Says Coronavirus Could Be Largely Past by Early June
Washington Post: Under Trump, coronavirus scientists can speak — as long as they mostly toe the line
Washington Post: Pentagon plans to dispatch Blue Angels and Thunderbirds in coronavirus response
Washington Post: Here’s one big reason U.S. coronavirus tests are lagging: test kits made by private companies
Washington Post: States rushing to reopen are likely making a deadly error, coronavirus models and experts warn
Washington Post (Analysis): The Trump administration says states have the testing capacity they need. Governors say they lack testing supplies.

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation 
The Hill: Trump says coronavirus ‘may not come back at all’
New York Times: Fox News Stars Trumpeted a Malaria Drug, Until They Didn’t
Vox: A disturbing new study suggests Sean Hannity helped spread the coronavirus

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You
Wall Street Journal: Health Chief’s Early Missteps Set Back Coronavirus Response 
Associated Press: Many small businesses say loans won’t get them to rehire
Axios: Drugmaker tripled the price of a pill as it pursued coronavirus use
Bloomberg: ‘Shake Shack Loophole’ Stays Open, Spawns a Washington Whodunit
CNN: Stores struggle to get shoppers to wear masks
Daily Beast: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s COVID-19 Inaction Has Made Her a Right-Wing Hero
NPR: Small Business Rescue Earned Banks $10 Billion In Fees
New York Times: As Leaders Urge Face Masks, Their Behavior Muffles the Message
New York Times: Banks Gave Richest Clients ‘Concierge Treatment’ for Pandemic Aid
Politico: Celebrity chefs, insurers lobby Trump in fight over massive claims payouts
Politico: McConnell pushes ‘bankruptcy route’ as local governments struggle
Wall Street Journal: Dallas Hotel Owner Is Biggest Beneficiary of Coronavirus Loan Program
Washington Post: How a family-owned Nebraska bank became a leader on coronavirus loans
Washington Post: Trump signs order pausing immigration for 60 days, with exceptions
Washington Post (Opinion): Trump can’t defeat the coronavirus. But he can wage war on immigrants.
Washington Post: This coal company with ties to the Trump administration just got a $10 million small-business loan
Yahoo: Birx says Georgia residents ‘can be very creative’ about getting tattoos and haircuts while social distancing

Affordability and Access
Associated Press: Administration offers plan to cover COVID care for uninsured
NBC: Got coronavirus? You may get a surprise medical bill, too
Vox: How the Covid-19 pandemic will leave its mark on US health care

Campaigns and Elections
Miami Herald: Mail voting expected to ‘explode’ in Florida as coronavirus reshapes 2020 elections
NPR: Coronavirus Response Shows How A National Crisis Can Again Transform Politics

Congress
Politico: Pelosi scraps proxy voting plan after GOP outcry
Wall Street Journal: Small-Business Loan Fund May Run Dry Again. Is There Another Way?

Democratic Response
Politico: Schumer’s Senate Democrats show sharper edge in coronavirus era
Washington Post: Biden makes end run around Trump as the president dominates the national stage

Disinformation
New York Times: Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say
Politico: Moscow’s coronavirus offensive

Economic Impact
Axios: Where coronavirus is fueling more and less energy use
Bloomberg: Food Rationing Is New Reality for Buyers Once Spoiled for Choice

Education
Axios: Coronavirus sends American universities over a cliff
New York Times: Imagine Online School in a Language You Don’t Understand

Hospitals and Health Care Workers
Associated Press: ER Staff Saves Lives, Suffers In Hot Spot 
Buzzfeed: Nurses And Doctors Are Sharing The Graphic Effects Of Wearing Face Masks As They Continue Fighting On The Front Lines Of The Coronavirus
The Hill: Dentists want coronavirus testing kits before reopening
New York Magazine: Medical Workers’ Looming Mental-Health Crisis

Inequality
Kaiser Health News: The Other COVID Risks: How Race, Income, ZIP Code Influence Who Lives Or Dies
NPR: Minorities Often Work These Jobs. They Were Among First To Go In Coronavirus Layoffs
NPR: Navajo Families Without Internet Struggle To Home-School During COVID-19 Pandemic
Talking Points Memo: Vote-By-Mail, Critical In Pandemic, Poses Risks For Voters Of Color
Wall Street Journal: A Top Immunologist on Why Coronavirus Is Killing More African-Americans

International
The Guardian: Anger in Sweden as elderly pay price for coronavirus strategy
New York Times: ‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms.


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Donald Trump’s failure to prepare America for this crisis makes us less safe. Now all Americans are paying the price.
A project of Protect Our Care.

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