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Coronavirus Update
May 13, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 1,370,016
Number of US deaths: 82,389
Total Number of People Tested in US: 9,637,730 (may not include all labs) 

Axios: High-risk states are seeing fewer new coronavirus cases
New York Times: Coronavirus Models Are Nearing Consensus, but Reopening Could Throw Them Off Again

What to Watch For

President Trump will hold a joint event in the Rose Garden at 4:00 PM with Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND).  The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold its first hearing at 3:00 PM with witnesses including former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.  The administration declined to make any officials available for testimony. 

Must Read Stories

Fauci Contradicts Trump Reassurances on Reopening  — But Are Republicans Listening? 

  • New York Times: Top Science and Health Officials Offer Sobering View of Reopening Readiness: The scientists and public health officials who are leading the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday painted a sobering picture of a country ill-prepared to reopen and contain the spread of the virus in the coming months. At a Senate hearing, the officials cautioned that a vaccine would almost certainly not come in time to protect students for the return to school in the fall, that a recently authorized treatment was not a game-changing advance and that states had to rebuild their depleted public health systems by hiring enough people before they could effectively track the spread of the virus and contain it. The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, warned that if parts of the country reopen too quickly, “there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back.”
  • Politico: Fauci Warns Reopening Country Too Fast Could Be ‘Really Serious’ For States: The Trump administration’s top infectious disease expert testified Tuesday that the consequence of reopening the country too early could be “really serious” if states don’t have the capability to respond to new coronavirus infections. The warning issued by Anthony Fauci offered a stark contrast to the case made in recent weeks by President Donald Trump, who has pushed to quickly restart the economy in spite of a mounting death toll and few signs that the monthslong pandemic is beginning the subside. “My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that then turn into outbreaks,” Fauci told the Senate HELP Committee during a hearing on how to safely reopen the nation. “The consequences could be really serious.”
  • Politico: Fauci Fatigue Sets In Among Some Republicans: Anthony Fauci came to the Senate, virtually, to issue a dire warning against reopening the country too soon amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic. But his message fell flat with some of his intended audience. Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, are eager to revive the flailing economy. And resuming commerce at some level this spring and summer is central to the GOP’s message that it can turn around the economy before November. They’re also aiming to do so without adopting House Democrats’ plans for more multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bills. But Fauci’s Tuesday testimony clashes with the GOP’s vision, and it’s fueling growing fatigue among Republicans with one of the government’s most trusted public health leaders at a critical moment.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) Rips Trump Testing Failures

Axios: Romney Rips Trump’s Testing Czar For Framing U.S. Testing As A Success: Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) challenged Admiral Brett Giroir at yesterday’s hearing about the Trump Administration’s failures in testing. Romney said, “I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever,” accusing Giroir of framing the Administration’s testing data in a politically positive light. Romney made clear that Trump claims that the United States is testing more people per capita than other countries – like South Korea – are misleading because South Korea tested more people early on, successfully curbing the outbreak. Romney further criticized President Trump for his claims that somehow, President Obama is to blame for the United States’ lack of a vaccine. 

Trump’s Policies Are Putting Workers At Risk And Threatening Their Ability To Access Aid If Unemployed 

  • Associated Press: As Trump Urges Reopening, Thousands Getting Sick On The Job: Even as President Donald Trump urges getting people back to work and reopening the economy, an Associated Press analysis shows thousands of people are getting sick from COVID-19 on the job. Recent figures show a surge of infections in meatpacking and poultry-processing plants. There’s been a spike of new cases among construction workers in Austin, Texas, where that sector recently returned to work. Even the White House has proven vulnerable, with positive coronavirus tests for one of Trump’s valets and for Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary. The developments underscore the high stakes for communities nationwide as they gradually loosen restrictions on business.
  • Politico: Trump Deems Farmworkers ‘Essential’ But Not Safety Rules For Them. That Could Threaten The Food Supply: The Trump administration has deemed the millions of people who are cutting lettuce, picking cherries, packing peaches and otherwise getting food from farm to table to be “essential workers” but is doing little to keep them healthy during the pandemic. The lack of federal action has left state and industry leaders scrambling to shield their farmworkers from the coronavirus. As harvest season ramps up, farmers across several major produce states have installed more hand-washing stations, instructed workers to keep their distance and provided face masks — but those efforts have been inconsistent and largely voluntary. Farmworkers have long lived in the shadows of the American economy, an itinerant community that includes low-income citizens, about 250,000 legal guest workers from Mexico and Central America and hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who might travel from farm to farm with the changing harvest seasons. Now, labor advocates are warning that continuing to ignore this vulnerable population not only threatens lives but endangers the food supply.
  • Huffpost: Trump Administration Tells States To Yank Benefits From Those Who Won’t Return To Work: Congress created special unemployment benefits so that laid-off workers could stay home while the coronavirus pandemic rages outside, but the Trump administration wants states to make sure that nobody’s getting benefits if they could be at work. The US Department of Labor has told states, which implement unemployment insurance programs according to federal rules, that they should ask employers to notify the state if someone turns down an offer to come back to work. In a guidance memo on Monday evening, the Labor Department said: “States are strongly encouraged to request employers to provide information when workers refuse to return to their jobs for reasons that do not support their continued eligibility for benefits.”  The guidance comes as President Donald Trump is calling on states to lift restrictions on commerce so that the economy might get back on track ahead of the November election, even though the national death toll from Covid-19 is still rising at a brisk pace.

Trump’s Equipment Procurement Is Still A Disaster With Masks Never Delivered, Counterfeit Goods Flooding The Market, And Exploding Ventilators 

  • Washington Post: A Contractor Promised Fema 10 Million Masks For $55 Million. It Did Not Deliver: A little-known Virginia-based defense company that was awarded a $55 million federal contract to provide 10 million N95 masks for the U.S. government’s coronavirus response failed to deliver and had its contract canceled Tuesday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Panthera Worldwide LLC, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last year, had promised to deliver the much-needed personal protective equipment by May 1, despite having no history of providing such materials to the government. The owners told The Washington Post last month that the company was aiming to deliver the materials two weeks early. Instead, they sought a 10-day extension to May 11 and ultimately did not furnish the items.
  • Associated Press: Counterfeit Masks Reaching Frontline Health Workers In US: On a day when COVID-19 cases soared, healthcare supplies were scarce and an anguished doctor warned he was being sent to war without bullets, a cargo plane landed at the Los Angeles International Airport, supposedly loaded with the ammo doctors and nurses were begging for: some of the first N95 medical masks to reach the U.S. in almost six weeks. […] But the shipment arriving that night in late March wasn’t going to solve the problem. An Associated Press investigation has found those masks were counterfeits — as are millions of medical masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies being used in hospitals across the country, putting lives at risk. Before the pandemic, federal trade law enforcement agencies were focused on busting knockoffs such as luxury goods and computer software, mostly from China. As America fell sick, the mission shifted to medical supplies. To date, Operation Stolen Promise, spearheaded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, has netted 11 arrests and 519 seizures. And yet counterfeit goods continue to pour in — not just masks, but also mislabeled medicines, and fake COVID-19 tests and cures, according to the agency.
  • Bloomberg: Ventilator Model Russia Sent To U.S. Blamed For Deadly Fires: Russian ventilators that may have caused two deadly fires in the last week were the same model that President Vladimir Putin sent the U.S. to help its battle against the coronavirus epidemic. Five patients in a Covid-19 intensive-care unit at the Saint George hospital in St. Petersburg died when one of the devices caught fire Tuesday. The hospital has stopped using its Aventa-M ventilators pending an investigation, Tass news service reported, citing the head of the hospital’s emergency ward. The same model of ventilator was being used at a Moscow clinic that suffered a fire last week, killing one person. The devices were the same type included in a shipment of medical supplies to New York last month. They’re made by a unit of a company, KRET, that the U.S. sanctioned in 2014.

Trump’s “Obamagate” Antics Are A Distraction From The Reality That More Than 80,000 Americans Have Died  And Tens Of Millions Are Out Of Work On His Watch 

  • Politico (Analysis): With Obamagate, Trump Returns To A Favorite Distraction Tactic: The blunderbuss trumpeting of an anti-Obama narrative is a tactic Trump has employed throughout his political career. Over the years, Trump’s attacks on Obama have veered from the baseless — the president is not an American citizen, Obama tapped my phones — to exaggerations and falsehoods about his predecessor’s record — Obama shipped plane loads of cash to Iran, Obama left the strategic national stockpile empty. In each case, the real estate developer-turned president has used these stories to distract from unwelcome stories while elevating himself and exciting his base. The questionable details are rarely important. The “OBAMAGATE!” effort appears no different. It has drawn attention away from the rising coronavirus death toll and a spate of cases within the White House — an inconvenient counterpoint to the president’s insistence that it is safe to return to work. It has provided chum to Trump-boosting pundits. And it portrays Trump as victorious over enemies who are tied to his likely 2020 opponent, Joe Biden.
  • Washington Post: As Coronavirus Roils The Nation, Trump Reverts To Tactic Of Accusing Foes Of Felonies: On a day when coronavirus deaths passed 80,000 and top government scientists warned of the perils of loosening public health restrictions too soon, President Trump used his massive public platform to suggest a talk-show host he has clashed with committed murder. His baseless charge capped a 48-hour stretch in which he accused scores of perceived opponents of criminal acts ranging from illegal espionage to election rigging. Since writing “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” at 8:10 a.m. on Sunday, Trump has used his Twitter account to make or elevate allegations of criminal conduct against no less than 20 individuals and organizations. Since Sunday, he has tweeted more often about alleged crimes by his perceived opponents than he has about the pandemic ravaging the country with mass death and unemployment.

Worth Watching

The virus is devastating Native communities as federal help remains slow to arrive:

  • Associated Press: ‘The grief is so unbearable’: Virus takes toll on Navajo
  • CBS: Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to the Navajo Nation
  • Washington Post: Coronavirus has been devastating to the Navajo Nation, and help for a complex fight has been slow

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
Associated Press: As Trump urges reopening, thousands getting sick on the job
Associated Press: Counterfeit masks reaching frontline health workers in US
Associated Press:  CDC docs stress plans for more virus flareups
Axios: Romney rips Trump’s testing czar for framing U.S. testing as a success
Bloomberg: Ventilator Model Russia Sent to U.S. Blamed For Deadly Fires
Bloomberg: From Mountain Peaks to Arid Deserts, Park Reopenings Spur Debate
CNN: GOP split on whether to back Fauci’s or Trump’s assessment on reopening economy
New York Times: Top Science and Health Officials Offer Sobering View of Reopening Readiness
New York Times: Kushner, Law Aside, Doesn’t Rule Out Delaying 2020 Election
New York Times: Trump Is Courting Black Voters. His Failures on the Virus Are a Problem.
Politico: Colleagues paint a mixed picture of ousted vaccine chief
Politico: Fauci fatigue sets in among some Republicans
Politico: Fauci warns reopening country too fast could be ‘really serious’ for states
Politico: Testing czar predicts U.S. will conduct more than 25M coronavirus tests per month by fall
Time: Jared Kushner Admits There’s ‘Risk’ in Reopening the Country Too Soon
Washington Post: A contractor promised FEMA 10 million masks for $55 million. It did not deliver.
Washington Post: Trump’s coronavirus testing goal is on the low side of what public health experts recommend
Washington Post: Even finding a covid-19 vaccine won’t be enough to end the pandemic
Washington Post (Analysis): Two big warning signs for Trump in the new coronavirus poll — signs he doesn’t seem to want to see

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation
CNN: Fact check: McConnell claims Obama didn’t leave Trump a pandemic ‘game plan.’ Obama left a 69-page playbook
Politico (Analysis): With Obamagate, Trump returns to a favorite distraction tactic
Washington Post: As coronavirus roils the nation, Trump reverts to tactic of accusing foes of felonies

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
Associated Press: Trump casts doubt on mail voting. His campaign promotes it.
HuffPost: Trump Rails Against Ballot Fraud – But Under GOP Definitions, Committed It In March
HuffPost: Trump Administration Tells States To Yank Benefits From Those Who Won’t Return To Work
New York Times: Immigrants With Work Visas, Suddenly Jobless, Must Leave U.S. if They Aren’t Rehired
Politico: Trump deems farmworkers ‘essential’ but not safety rules for them. That could threaten the food supply.
Washington Post: Infection rates were climbing at Nebraska meatpacking plants. Then health officials stopped reporting the numbers.
Washington Post: Oil companies that bought back their stock got $15.5 million in government coronavirus funds

Affordability and Access
Axios: Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance

Buzzfeed: Twitter Will Allow Employees To Work At Home Forever
New York Times:  Patagonia, Quick To Close, Could Be Last To Reopen 

New York Times: A Spaniel, a Mute Button and Profound Matters of State
Politico: Pelosi unveils $3 trillion coronavirus relief plan amid squeeze from left and right

Democratic Response
Associated Press: Biden plans to stay home, testing limits of virtual campaign

Economic Impact
New York Times: Why Economic Pain Could Persist Even After the Pandemic Is Contained
Vox: Get ready for a second wave of economic pain
Washington Post: Small business used to define America’s economy. The pandemic could change that forever.

New York Times: Fearing a Second Wave, Cal State Will Keep Classes Online in the Fall

NBC: US grocery costs jump the most in 46 years, led by rising prices for meat and eggs

Hospitals and Health Care Workers 
Bloomberg: The Return of Surgeries Stumps Wall Street, Hospitals Alike
Roll Call: Dental offices hit hardest in health care industry layoffs

Immigration and Travel
NBC: As COVID-19 looms, conditions for migrants stalled at U.S. border are a ‘disaster in the making’

Associated Press: ‘The grief is so unbearable’: Virus takes toll on Navajo
Baltimore Sun: Latinos disproportionately hurt by coronavirus in Maryland, Baltimore and among Johns Hopkins patients
CBS: Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to the Navajo Nation
NBC: LGBTQ people face higher unemployment amid coronavirus pandemic, survey finds
Washington Post: Coronavirus has been devastating to the Navajo Nation, and help for a complex fight has been slow

AFP: Europe seeks to save the summer holidays
Axios: Russia reports most coronavirus cases outside the U.S.
Business Insider: Germany’s daily coronavirus case count has nearly tripled as regions consider an ’emergency brake’ to reinstate harsher lockdowns
New York Times: Latin America’s Outbreaks Now Rival Europe’s. But Its Options Are Worse. 
New York Times: Europe’s Museums Begin Reopening, Cautiously, With New Rules
Vice: Over 100 Coronavirus Cases in South Korea Have Now Been Linked to One Guy’s Night Out Clubbing
Wall Street Journal: On the Ground in Wuhan, Signs of China Stalling Probe of Coronavirus Origins  

In The States
New York Times: Hasidic Jews, Hit Hard by the Outbreak, Flock to Donate Plasma
Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warns Austin, San Antonio, Dallas to loosen coronavirus restrictions

Wall Street Journal: From PepsiCo to GM, Big Advertisers Set to Cancel Commitments to TV Networks

Axios: College students would attend class in fall even without vaccine
CNN: CNN Poll: Negative ratings for government handling of coronavirus persist
Politico: Republican voters give Trump and GOP governors cover to reopen

Washington Post: Armed militia helped a Michigan barbershop open, a coronavirus defiance that puts Republican lawmakers in a bind

Science and Technology
Bloomberg: Virus Survivors Could Suffer Severe Health Effects for Years

Axios: “Disposable workers” doing essential jobs

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