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Coronavirus Update
May 4, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Monday, May 4, 2020,  7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 1,158,341
Number of US deaths: 67,686
Total Number of People Tested in US: 7,055,366 (may not include all labs)

Axios: U.S. coronavirus caseload has held steady
CNBC: The US just reported its deadliest day for coronavirus patients as states reopen, according to WHO
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Kills People an Average of a Decade Before Their Time, Studies Find
Washington Post: Excess U.S. deaths hit estimated 37,100 in pandemic’s early days, far more than previously known

What to Watch For

President Trump has no public events scheduled today. 

Must Read Stories

President Trump Raises Death Estimate After US Blows Past Lower Prediction

New York Times: Trump Foresees Virus Death Toll As High As 100,000 In The United States. After President Trump repeatedly told Americans that the coronavirus death toll would be around 60,000 lives lost, he this weekend revised his estimate to be as high as 100,000 as more than 1,000 deaths have been reported every day since April 2nd. President Trump nonetheless insisted on parks, beaches, and business reopening and called for schools to resume in-person classes in the fall. The President insisted that though there could be a second outbreak, the government has “armed itself” and is prepared to curb additional outbreaks should Americans resume daily life. President Trump also claimed that though he had been informed of the virus as early as January, it was characterized as “not a big deal,” and said that he believed a vaccine would be developed by the end of 2020, in contrast with the forecasts of public health experts.

Former FDA Commissioner Warns That Continued Spread Of Virus Is ‘New Normal’

Wall Street Journal Opinion: The Cruel Covid ‘New Normal.’ Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned in an OpEd for the Wall Street Journal that continuing spread of the coronavirus at current levels is likely to become “the cruel ‘new normal.’” Gottlieb called for increased screening and isolation of sick individuals to prevent health care systems from becoming overwhelmed, and suggested channeling resources into the places where outbreaks are most likely to occur. Gottlieb made clear that current testing levels are inadequate and that the United States must develop a mechanism for more accessible and inexpensive diagnostic testing. Gottlieb further warned that, should the virus continue to spread, the economy will continue to suffer as scared Americans stay home. 

States Rushing To Reopen Aren’t Ready And Many Workers And Customers Are Staying Home 

  • Associated Press: Most States Fall Short Of Coronavirus Testing Thresholds: As more states begin to relax their coronavirus lockdowns, most are falling short of the minimum levels of testing suggested by the federal government and recommended by a variety of public health researchers, an Associated Press analysis has found. Three months into an unprecedented public health emergency, the White House has largely resisted calls for a coordinated plan to conduct the millions of tests experts say are needed to contain the virus. What federal officials outlined recently isn’t even an official benchmark, and AP’s analysis found that a majority of states are not yet meeting it.
  • Politico: States Moving Fastest To Reopen Lack Enough Health Workers To Track New Outbreaks: States like Georgia, Texas and Colorado have begun lifting stay-at-home orders without a robust army of public health workers to quickly identify people who’ve come into contact with coronavirus patients, worrying health experts that the states could be at heightened risk for a new wave of infections. Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force have warned a reopening risks erasing weeks of progress in slowing the virus if states don’t have an extensive system for identifying patients and tracing their contacts. The number of contact tracers states need depends on factors like infection rates, testing availability and population density. But those moving to relax restrictions have far fewer contact tracers per capita than many of those remaining locked down for at least a few more weeks.
  • Wall Street Journal: As States Begin to Reopen, Many Stay Home—Keeping Economic Rebound Elusive: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster eased restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, allowing retailers to reopen April 20. But a look at traffic congestion and hours worked in South Carolina and other states in which lockdowns have eased indicates workers and consumers haven’t resumed their pre-pandemic routines. The early experience in South Carolina and other states is a sobering portent for the country as a whole, suggesting it will take more than lifting lockdowns for economic activity to rebound.

After The US Reported Its Deadliest Day On Friday, Trump Remains Desperate To Change The Subject 

  • Washington Post: 34 Days Of Pandemic: Inside Trump’s Desperate Attempts To Reopen America: The epidemiological models under review in the White House Situation Room in late March were bracing. In a best-case scenario, they showed the novel coronavirus was likely to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. President Trump was apprehensive about so much carnage on his watch, yet also impatient to reopen the economy — and he wanted data to justify doing so. So the White House considered its own analysis. A small team led by Kevin Hassett — a former chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers with no background in infectious diseases — quietly built an econometric model to guide response operations. Many White House aides interpreted the analysis as predicting that the daily death count would peak in mid-April before dropping off substantially, and that there would be far fewer fatalities than initially foreseen, according to six people briefed on it. Although Hassett denied that he ever projected the number of dead, other senior administration officials said his presentations characterized the count as lower than commonly forecast — and that it was embraced inside the West Wing by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and other powerful aides helping to oversee the government’s pandemic response. It affirmed their own skepticism about the severity of the virus and bolstered their case to shift the focus to the economy, which they firmly believed would determine whether Trump wins a second term.
  • The Hill: White House Signals Eagerness To Get Past Coronavirus Crisis: President Trump is trying to return to business as usual amid the coronavirus pandemic.  Trump, who has supplanted his daily coronavirus task force briefings for more controlled and structured appearances, is eager to get past the public health crisis that has dominated the news cycle since the end of February and allow businesses and American life to return to normal.
  • Politico: Trump Plots Economic Pivot At Camp David: Over nearly two days, Trump is expected to meet with chief of staff Mark Meadows and other top advisers like Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to plan his televised coronavirus town hall at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday night and weigh various tax policy and regulatory proposals to boost the economy, according to interviews with half a dozen senior administration officials and Republicans close to the White House. It’s all part of the broader White House strategy of shifting its coronavirus message to an economic one — a move the president’s political advisers think plays to his strengths as a former real estate developer. 
  • Vox: US Coronavirus Data Is At Odds With Trump’s Push To Get The Economy Back Up And Running: At the event, Trump is likely to continue working to convince Americans that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is already in the rear-view mirror. He has consistently done so, recently encouraging protesters agitating against stay-at-home orders, and saying last week, “I am very much in favor of what they’re doing,” referring to governors moving to reopen businesses. He’s declared “we’re opening our country again” and proclaimed the country will be ready for any second wave of coronavirus that might arise in the fall or winter. But the US is not even close to being through the first wave. Not a single state has met a key reopening criterion identified by the White House coronavirus task force: a steady 14-day decline in new cases. In fact, when hardest-hit New York state is taken out of the equation, the national trajectory of new daily coronavirus cases currently shows an upward trend

As Trump Fails, Some Governors Continue To Step Up To Fill The Leadership Vacuum

  • Politico: Backlash To The Backlash: Governors, Medical Officials Wary Of Rush To Reopen: America’s governors indicated on Sunday that they were continuing to walk a fine line in dealing with a global pandemic and economic desperation, as well as pushing back against resistance to measures designed to curb the spread of Covid-19. Governors from both parties discussed a range of difficult choices that would have been almost unimaginable three months ago — as well as such peculiar side issues as having armed protesters march on their capitols or needing to use the National Guard to protect coronavirus testing kits. And even as many states have taken assorted steps to reopen — moves encouraged by President Donald Trump — political leaders and health professionals expressed concerns that more mitigation was needed. “We have to keep listening to the epidemiologists and experts, and not listen to the partisan rhetoric or these political rallies, or tweets, for that matter,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have to keep doing the right thing, the next right thing.”
  • Politico: Northeast Governors Banding Together To Buy Medical Supplies: Seven Northeast governors are banding together to purchase medical equipment as a unit in hopes of avoiding a mad scramble for supplies if the coronavirus returns in the fall. The governors — who have said they will coordinate plans as they look to reopen their states — announced the consortium during a conference call on Sunday led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The aim is to give states more sway in the international marketplace, Cuomo said.

Trump And Republicans Continue To Use The Pandemic To Pursue Their Extreme Agenda

  • The Hill: Abortion Battle Threatens To Upend Health Insurance Push: A battle over abortion is threatening to scuttle a possible bipartisan deal on providing billions of dollars to help laid-off workers keep their health insurance. Republicans have expressed openness to a Democratic proposal to provide subsidies to help millions of people who are losing their jobs stay on their old employers’ health insurance plans under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, commonly known as COBRA, according to congressional aides and others familiar with the talks. But Republicans say the new funding needs to include the Hyde Amendment or another restriction on federal money going toward health plans that cover abortion, an idea Democrats oppose.
  • New York Times: Before Covid-19, Trump Aide Sought to Use Disease to Close Borders: From the early days of the Trump administration, Stephen Miller, the president’s chief adviser on immigration, has repeatedly tried to use an obscure law designed to protect the nation from diseases overseas as a way to tighten the borders. The question was, which disease? Mr. Miller pushed for invoking the president’s broad public health powers in 2019, when an outbreak of mumps spread through immigration detention facilities in six states. He tried again that year when Border Patrol stations were hit with the flu. When vast caravans of migrants surged toward the border in 2018, Mr. Miller looked for evidence that they carried illnesses. He asked for updates on American communities that received migrants to see if new disease was spreading there. In 2018, dozens of migrants became seriously ill in federal custody, and two under the age of 10 died within three weeks of each other. While many viewed the incidents as resulting from negligence on the part of the border authorities, Mr. Miller instead argued that they supported his argument that President Trump should use his public health powers to justify sealing the borders. On some occasions, Mr. Miller and the president, who also embraced these ideas, were talked down by cabinet secretaries and lawyers who argued that the public health situation at the time did not provide sufficient legal basis for such a proclamation. That changed with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

Worth Watching

Trump-supported reopening protests have become a magnet for white nationalists and extremists and mask wearing is a now a dangerous flashpoint:

  • New York Times: The Coronavirus Becomes a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists
  • Buzzfeed: A City Walked Back Its Face Mask Rule After Store And Restaurant Employees Received Threats
  • Detroit News: Police probe shooting of Flint security guard in confrontation over mask at Family Dollar
  • New York Times: Masks Become a Flash Point in the Virus Culture Wars

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
Associated Press: Most states fall short of coronavirus testing thresholds
Associated Press: DHS report: China hid virus’ severity to hoard supplies
CNN: Trump’s national security adviser out of sight in coronavirus response
The Hill: White House signals eagerness to get past coronavirus crisis
The Hill: Trump rips George W. Bush after he calls for unity amid coronavirus outbreak
New York Times: Pence’s Virus Role Enhances His Profile While Showing Limits of His Influence
New York Times: Pompeo Ties Coronavirus to China Lab, Despite Spy Agencies’ Uncertainty
New York Times: Trump Foresees Virus Death Toll as High as 100,000 in the United States
Politico: States moving fastest to reopen lack enough health workers to track new outbreaks
Politico: Northeast governors banding together to buy medical supplies
Politico: Birx decries Michigan protests: It’s ‘devastatingly worrisome’
Politico: Trump plots economic pivot at Camp David
Politico: Backlash to the backlash: Governors, medical officials wary of rush to reopen
Politico: Former FDA commissioner warns of new fall epidemic amid ‘persistent spread’
Reuters: Trump administration pushing to rip global supply chains from China: officials
Vox: US coronavirus data is at odds with Trump’s push to get the economy back up and running
Wall Street Journal: Low-Quality Masks Infiltrate U.S. Coronavirus Supply
Washington Post: 34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen America
Washington Post: As Washington stumbled, governors stepped to the forefront

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation 
Bloomberg: Trump Claims Again Biden Wrote Apology That Biden Denies
Politico: Trump predicts Covid-19 vaccine by end of year, contradicting top health officials

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
The Hill: Abortion battle threatens to upend health insurance push
New York Times: Capitol Lacks Tests for Returning Senators While White House Tests Many in Trump’s Circle
New York Times: Your Life or Your Livelihood: Americans Wrestle With Impossible Choice
New York Times: Hotel Group Will Return Tens of Millions in Small Business Loans
New York Times: Before Covid-19, Trump Aide Sought to Use Disease to Close Borders
New York Times: Masks Become a Flash Point in the Virus Culture Wars
Politico: Feds, Northam spar over Virginia stay-at-home order’s impact on churches
Popular Information: Trump’s chicken man
Wall Street Journal: Lobbyists Press Congress for Last Chance at Coronavirus Stimulus Funds

Affordability and Access
Business Insider: Michael Santos went to the hospital to get checked out for the coronavirus. He wound up with a $1,689 bill.

Wall Street Journal: Cruise Ships Set Sail Knowing the Deadly Risk to Passengers and Crew

Campaigns and Elections
Dallas Morning News: Texas attorney general says election officials offering mail ballots because of COVID-19 could face criminal punishment
NBC: DNC chair Tom Perez says he still expects Democrats to hold in-person convention
Wall Street Journal: Companies Skip Convention Donations Amid Coronavirus, Partisan Tensions
Washington Post: Unexpected outcome in Wisconsin: Tens of thousands of ballots that arrived after Election Day were counted, thanks to court decisions

Vox: The Senate doesn’t have enough coronavirus test kits — but it doesn’t want ones from the White House

Democratic Response 
McClatchy (Opinion): Biden, Warren: There’s no oversight of coronavirus relief — because that’s what Trump wants
Politico: Union drops $1 million to push Congress for state worker coronavirus relief
Politico: Progressives struggle to wield power in coronavirus fight

Economic Impact
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Airlines Brace for Slow Recovery as Coronavirus Losses Mount
Washington Post: The housing market faces its next crisis as May rent and mortgages come due

Axios: Colleges gamble on reopening this fall

New York Times: Native American Tribes Sue Treasury Over Stimulus Aid as They Feud Over Funding

Associated Press: As lockdowns ease, some countries report new infection peaks
New York Times: Global Backlash Builds Against China Over Coronavirus
Politico: In China, a Struggling America Looks Like ‘The Disaster Flick of 2020’
Reuters: Russia’s coronavirus cases hit new high, Moscow warns of clampdown

In the States
ABC: Mississippi governor reconsiders reopening state after its largest spike of COVID-19 deaths and cases
Buzzfeed: A City Walked Back Its Face Mask Rule After Store And Restaurant Employees Received Threats
Detroit News: Police probe shooting of Flint security guard in confrontation over mask at Family Dollar
New York Times: Rhode Island Pushes Aggressive Testing, a Move That Could Ease Reopening
Wall Street Journal: Maryland Cancels Big Coronavirus-Mask Order
Wall Street Journal: As States Begin to Reopen, Many Stay Home—Keeping Economic Rebound Elusive
Wall Street Journal: Smart or Lucky? How Florida Dodged the Worst of Coronavirus
Washington Post: Maryland Gov. Hogan resists pressure to reopen quickly as coronavirus deaths, infections rise throughout Washington region

Nursing Homes
HuffPost: Here’s How We Can Deal With COVID-19 In Nursing Homes Right Away
Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus patients could be cash cows for nursing homes
Politico: Disabled, elderly going without home care amid shortage of protective gear and tests

Personal Narratives
New York Times: After a Lifetime Together, Coronavirus Takes Them Both
Washington Post: ‘I apologize to God for feeling this way.’

Dallas Morning News: Texans wary of flying because of coronavirus, cautious about in-person shopping, Dallas News-UT Tyler poll shows

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