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Coronavirus Update
May 20, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 1,528,661
Number of US deaths: 91,938
Total Number of People Tested in US: 12,233,987 (may not include all labs)

What to Watch For

President Trump will hold a conference call with the “National Hispanic Community” at 12:30 PM and will meet with Gov. Laura Kelly (D-KS) and Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) at 4:00 PM.  Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany will brief the press at 3:00 PM. 

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Orlando to meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis, deliver PPE to a nursing home, and attend a roundtable with officials from the tourism and hospitality industry.  A House Education and Labor subcommittee will hold a hearing on protecting workers from the coronavirus. 

Must Read Stories

Trump Embraces Quack Science That Is Putting Americans’ Lives in Danger

  • Associated Press: Trump Allies Lining Up Doctors To Prescribe Rapid Reopening: Republican political operatives are recruiting “extremely pro-Trump” doctors to go on television to prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, without waiting to meet safety benchmarks proposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The plan was discussed in a May 11 conference call with a senior staffer for the Trump reelection campaign organized by CNP Action, an affiliate of the GOP-aligned Council for National Policy. A leaked recording of the hourlong call was provided to The Associated Press by the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog group.
  • CNN: Fact Check: Trump Falsely Denies FDA Warning On Hydroxychloroquine, Baselessly Alleges Political Bias In Study: President Donald Trump continued Tuesday to make false and baseless claims about hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has repeatedly promoted and now says he is himself taking. At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Trump falsely denied the existence of a Food and Drug Administration warning about the use of hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus. And he claimed without any evidence that a study on veterans who were given the drug was conducted by political foes who had set out to hurt him.
  • CNBC: FDA appears To Soften Stance On Hydroxychloroquine After Trump Says He Takes Malaria Drug: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that taking hydroxychloroquine is “ultimately” a choice between patients and their health-care providers, appearing to soften its earlier advisory against taking the anti-malaria drug outside of a hospital. “The decision to take any drug is ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement to CNBC. “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already FDA-approved for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.” The comments came a day after President Donald Trump said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine daily for over a week to prevent infection from the coronavirus. He said he asked his White House physician about the drug. “I asked him, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘Well, if you’d like it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.’ However, in a warning issued last month, the FDA advised consumers against taking drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 outside a hospital or formal clinical trial due to the risk of “serious heart rhythm problems.”

Trump Says The Number Of Coronavirus Cases In The US Is A “Badge Of Honor” But We Still Don’t Have Enough Tests 

  • Politico: ‘Badge Of Honor’: Trump Now Says High Number Of U.S. Coronavirus Cases Is A Tribute To Testing Progress: President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he viewed the number of U.S. cases of coronavirus — the highest in the world — as a “badge of honor” because the still-increasing figure is a reflection of the country’s testing capacity. Trump offered his take on the grim numbers unprompted, when asked by a reporter at the White House whether the administration was weighing restrictions on travel from Brazil. The reporter noted that according to Johns Hopkins University, Brazil, now ranks behind only the U.S. and Russia in total number of coronavirus infections per country. “By the way, you know, when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else,” the president said during a Cabinet meeting. Trump claimed that thus far, the U.S. had conducted nearly 14 million tests, a roughly 2 million-test difference from the latest figures according to the COVID Tracking Project.
  • Axios: Many Americans Live In Places With No Coronavirus Test Sites:  More than half of U.S. counties don’t have a single coronavirus testing site, according to a recent report by Castlight, a health software company. That leaves a wide swath of the country — particularly rural areas — vulnerable to undetected coronavirus outbreaks, especially as lockdown measures ease. Asking people to travel long distances to get a coronavirus test is both unrealistic and potentially dangerous

Trump’s Economic Policies Are Making Things Worse 

  • Los Angeles Times: How Trump’s Tax Cuts And Tariffs Will Make Coronavirus Recession Worse: President Trump’s pre-pandemic economic blueprint of massive tax cuts and global trade wars not only failed to deliver the promised spike in growth and domestic investment, it now appears to have left the U.S. more vulnerable to the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Even before the pandemic pushed the U.S. into what is almost certainly a recession, benefits from Trump’s policies on taxes and trade were largely offset by the costs of soaring national debt and damage to U.S. foreign relations — challenges now magnified by the health crisis. “The lasting legacy is a bigger deficit and higher debt [as a share of the economy], which means what we’re doing in response to the pandemic is piling on something that was already a pretty big mess,” said Joel Prakken, chief U.S. economist at IHS Markit.
  • Bloomberg: Trump, GOP Leaders Bet On Reopening Over Stimulus For Recovery: President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders are counting on state lockdowns lifting to propel an economic rebound that will ease pressure for another round of stimulus. “There is only one way out of this dilemma: America has to grow again, to open up again and I am pleased that is beginning to happen in my state and other states,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said at the Capitol after Trump had a lunch meeting with GOP senators. Trump, who has been urging governors to lift restrictions on businesses, said he expects “a really great third quarter” for the U.S. economy, even though Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated Tuesday that a full recovery might take until the end of 2021. Republicans are putting up a unified front on holding off on another round of stimulus even as every economic indicator is showing historic declines. That’s put them in an election-year stalemate with Democrats, who last week pushed through the House a $3 trillion virus relief package that the GOP has rejected.
  • Washington Post: Trump Expresses Opposition To Extending Unemployment Benefits Enacted In Response To Pandemic: President Trump on Tuesday privately expressed opposition to extending a weekly $600 boost in unemployment insurance for laid-off workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to three officials familiar with his remarks during a closed-door lunch with Republican senators on Capitol Hill. The increased unemployment benefits — paid by the federal government but administered through individual states — were enacted this year as part of a broader $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress. The boost expires this summer, and House Democrats have proposed extending the aid through January 2021. But congressional Republicans have said they are concerned that some workers are making more money on unemployment insurance than if they were on a payroll and therefore have less incentive to return to work or find a new job.
  • 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. The White House is also likely to seek to make permanent some temporary regulations issued by agencies over the past few weeks to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rules Don’t Apply To Trump 

  • Associated Press: Trump Could Violate Ford Face Mask Requirement On Plant Tour: Ford Motor Co. has told the White House that it requires everyone in its factories to wear face masks to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, but it’s not clear whether President Donald Trump will wear one when he visits a Detroit-area plant Thursday. Trump, who is scheduled to tour a factory repurposed to make medical breathing machines near Detroit, has habitually refused to wear a mask at the White House and in recent public appearances.
  • Bridge Michigan: Trump’s Tour Of Ford Plant ‘Contrary’ To Whitmer’s New Work Rules, Aide Says: President Donald Trump’s pending tour of a Ford Motor Co. plant in Ypsilanti is “contrary” to new workplace safety rules imposed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but her administration is nonetheless welcoming the visit. Recent executive orders issued by Whitmer require newly reopened manufacturers to “suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours” to protect workers from the novel coronavirus that has so far killed 4,915 in Michigan.  Trump is set to tour Ford’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti on Thursday. The factory typically assembles components but has been reconfigured amid the pandemic to produce ventilators and personal protection equipment for front-line health care workers.

Worth Watching

As President Trump prepares for a conference call with the “National Hispanic Community,” today the pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on Latino workers and Trump’s response is driving mistrust in minority communities: 

  • Los Angeles Times: The price of being ‘essential’: Latino service workers bear brunt of coronavirus
  • Politico: Trump coronavirus response feeds distrust in black and Latino communities

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
Axios: Many Americans live in places with no coronavirus test sites
Associated Press: Trump could violate Ford face mask requirement on plant tour
Bridge Michigan: Trump’s tour of Ford plant ‘contrary’ to Whitmer’s new work rules, aide says
CNN: CDC releases detailed guidance on reopening that had previously been shelved by White House
New York Times: Trump to Tap New Company to Make Covid-19 Drugs in the U.S.
Politico: ‘Badge of honor’: Trump now says high number of U.S. coronavirus cases is a tribute to testing progress
Politico: ‘A moonshot mission’: Trump campaign eyes a return to megarallies
Politico: IRS recalling more employees starting June 1
Stat: CEO tapped by Trump to make generic drugs during pandemic has a dicey track record
Task and Purpose: Leaked Pentagon memo warns of ‘real possibility’ of COVID-19 resurgence, vaccine not coming until summer 2021
Washington Post (Analysis): 49 of 50 governors have better coronavirus poll numbers than Trump

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation
Associated Press: Trump allies lining up doctors to prescribe rapid reopening
CNBC: FDA appears to soften stance on hydroxychloroquine after Trump says he takes malaria drug
CNN: Fact check: Trump falsely denies FDA warning on hydroxychloroquine, baselessly alleges political bias in study
Politico: Pence: I’m not taking hydroxychloroquine
Popular Information: Rise of the quacks
Vox: Trump dismisses hydroxychloroquine study that undermines him as a “Trump enemy statement”

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
Associated Press: States accused of fudging or bungling COVID-19 testing data
Axios: Airlines pack in customers like there’s no coronavirus
Bloomberg: Trump, GOP Leaders Bet on Reopening Over Stimulus for Recovery
Los Angeles Times: Justice Department warns California coronavirus rules may violate religious freedoms
Los Angeles Times: How Trump’s tax cuts and tariffs will make coronavirus recession worse
NBC: Why did the CARES Act give more money to hair schools than to a community college?
Politico: Justice Department centralizes control of sensitive insider-trading probes
Vox: In leaked audio, Sen. David Perdue compares the risks of Covid-19 to car crashes
Wall Street Journal: Floridians Lose Patience With State’s Unemployment Claims System
Washington Post: White House readies push to slash regulations as major part of its coronavirus economic recovery plan
Washington Post: Trump expresses opposition to extending unemployment benefits enacted in response to pandemic

CNN: Walmart got a huge boost from panic shopping and hoarding during the pandemic
CNN: Target’s digital sales climb 141%

Campaigns and Elections
CNN: Federal judge rules Texans afraid of catching Covid-19 can vote by mail
Wall Street Journal: New York Primary Should Proceed, Appeals Court Affirms

Democratic Response 
Financial Times: Democrats to accuse Donald Trump of ‘corrupt recovery effort’
USA Today: Democrats outline election plan to make health care their top issue amid coronavirus

New York Times: Fever Checks and Quarantine Dorms: What College Could Look Like

Health Impact
Kaiser Health News: Fewer Traffic Collisions During Shutdown Means Longer Waits For Organ Donations

Immigration and Travel
New York Times: More Than 900 Children Have Been Expelled Under a Pandemic Border Policy

Los Angeles Times: The price of being ‘essential’: Latino service workers bear brunt of coronavirus
Politico: Trump coronavirus response feeds distrust in black and Latino communities
Washington Post: Asian American doctors and nurses are fighting racism and the coronavirus

New York Times: Iran Sees New Surge in Virus Cases After Reopening Country
Wall Street Journal: Brazil’s Nurses Are Dying as Covid-19 Overwhelms Hospitals

In The States
Axios: CDC: Arkansas coronavirus outbreak linked to church services
New York Times: Virus Raged at City Jails, Leaving 1,259 Guards Infected and 6 Dead
Tampa Bay Times: Update: Florida Health Department manager told to delete coronavirus data forced to resign, she says

Personal Narratives
New York Times: ‘I Feel Like a Hero’: A Day in the Life of a Grocery Delivery Man
New York Times: She Spent Her Last Month of College Lifting Bodies in a Morgue

Politico: Trump’s push to reopen schools and day care gets chilly reception from voters
Politico: Anti-China sentiment is on the rise

Science and Technology
CNBC: Wearing a mask can reduce coronavirus transmission by 75%, new study claims
Stat: Vaccine experts say Moderna didn’t produce data critical to assessing Covid-19 vaccine
Washington Post: Elderly covid-19 patients on ventilators usually do not survive, New York hospitals report

NBC: The forgotten front line: Nursing home workers say they face retaliation for reporting COVID-19 risks
New York Times: ‘Way Too Late’: Inside Amazon’s Biggest Outbreak
Wall Street Journal: Retailers Phase Out Coronavirus Hazard Pay for Essential Workers

Trump Tweets 

Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path! @RussVought45 @MarkMeadows @USTreasury [@realDonaldTrump, 5/20/20]

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