CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — MAY 29, 2020

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Coronavirus Update
May 29, 2020
Driving the Day:

By the Numbers

Friday, May 29, 2020, 7:30 AM 
Number of US cases reported: 1,721,926
Number of US deaths: 101,621
Total Number of People Tested in US: 15,646,041 (may not include all labs)  New York Times: The World Is Still Far From Herd Immunity for Coronavirus

What to Watch For

President Trump will participate in a roundtable with industry executives on reopening at 4:00 PM.  Vice President Pence will return to Atlanta for the second time in a week to attend a memorial service honoring Ravi Zacharias, the Christian evangelist and take part in a conversation with small business owners on the state of the economy.

The Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold a video briefing with mayors at 12:00 PM.

Must Read Stories

White House Failures & Incompetence Continue To Mount, Putting Americans At Risk

  • CNN: As US Deaths Top 100,000, Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force Is Curtailed: As the American death count from coronavirus ticks above 100,000, the panel assembled by President Donald Trump to confront the pandemic has been sharply curtailed as the White House looks ahead to reopening. Vice President Mike Pence convened the White House coronavirus task force on Thursday for the first time in a week. The group of doctors and high-ranking administration officials, which met daily even on weekends at the height of the pandemic, has seen its formal sessions reduced from three per week at the start of May to one per week now, according to White House schedules. The task force has essentially been sidelined by Trump, said senior administration officials and others close to the group, who described a greatly reduced role for the panel created to guide the administration’s response to the pandemic.
  • Washington Post: Administration Initially Dispensed Scarce Covid-19 Drug To Some Hospitals That Didn’t Need It: The Trump administration mishandled the initial distribution of the only approved coronavirus medication, delaying treatment to some critically ill patients with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to nine current and former senior administration officials. The first tranche of 607,000 vials of the antiviral medication remdesivir, donated to the government by drugmaker Gilead Sciences, was distributed in early May — in some cases to the wrong hospitals, to hospitals with no intensive care units and therefore no eligible patients, and to facilities without the needed refrigeration to store it, meaning some had to be returned to the government, said the officials familiar with the distribution effort.
  • Washington Post: White House And CDC Remove Coronavirus Warnings About Choirs In Faith Guidance: The Trump administration with no advance notice removed warnings contained in guidance for the reopening of houses of worship that singing in choirs can spread the coronavirus. Last Friday, the administration released pandemic guidance for faith communities after weeks of debate flared between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines posted on the CDC website included recommendations that religious communities “consider suspending or at least decreasing use of choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition.” It added: “The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.” By Saturday, that version was replaced by updated guidance that no longer includes any reference to choirs or congregant singing and the risk for spreading virus. The altered guidance also deleted a reference to “shared cups” among items, including hymnals and worship rugs, that should not be shared. The updated guidelines also added language that said the guidance “is not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment.” Two White House officials said the first version posted by the CDC was not approved by the White House. Once West Wing officials saw it, they asked the CDC to post a different cleared document without the choir references and other parts.

Unprecedented Economic Devastation Continues To Spread As A Direct Result Of Trump’s Coronavirus Failure

  • CNN: 1 In 4 American Workers Have Filed For Unemployment Benefits During The Pandemic: More than 40 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic forced the US economy to shut down in March. One in four American workers has filed for unemployment insurance. Another 2.1 million people filed initial jobless claims last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported Thursday morning. It was the tenth-straight week in which claims were in the millions. America had never recorded a single week of 1 million jobless claims prior to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Bloomberg: Big Bankruptcies Sweep The U.S. In Fastest Pace Since May 2009: In the first few weeks of the pandemic, it was just a trickle: companies like Alaskan airline Ravn Air pushed into bankruptcy as travel came to a halt and markets collapsed. But the financial distress wrought by the shutdowns only deepened, producing what is now a wave of insolvencies washing through America’s corporations. In May alone, some 27 companies reporting at least $50 million in liabilities sought court protection from creditors — the highest number since the Great Recession. They range from well-known U.S. mainstays such as J.C. Penney Co. and J. Crew Group Inc. to air carriers Latam Airlines Group SA and Avianca Holdings, their business decimated as travelers stayed put.

Low Wage Workers Of Color Are At The Greatest Risk From The Coronavirus And The White House Isn’t Doing Anything To Protect Them

  • Stat: When Hard Data Are ‘Heartbreaking’: Testing Blitz In San Francisco Shows Covid-19 Struck Mostly Low-Wage Workers:  In a matter of weeks, a hastily created coalition of hundreds of university, hospital, and community volunteers called Unidos en Salud pulled together one of the largest coronavirus testing studies in the nation. In a four-day blitz at the end of April, they swabbed and drew blood from 4,160 adults and children, including more than half of the residents in the 16 square blocks that make up San Francisco Census Tract 229.01. In the heart of the Mission District, it is one of the city’s most densely populated and heavily Latinx neighborhoods. While Havlir expected to see the Latinx community hit hard by the virus, the actual numbers came as a shock. About 2% of people tested positive for the coronavirus. Nearly all of them — 95% — were Latinx. The other 5% were Asian or Pacific Islander. Not a single white person tested positive, though 34% of the tract’s residents are white, according to the U.S. Census; 58% are Hispanic. […] One of Havlir’s motivations for the testing was to understand how the virus was being transmitted even after the city had been locked down for six weeks. Questionnaires administered with the tests gave her an answer: 90% of those who tested positive could not work from home. Most were low-income, and most lived in households with three or more people.
  • New York Times: 10 Weeks Into New York Area’s Lockdown, Who Is Still Getting Sick?  “In the last week, more than 2,800 patients with virus-like symptoms were admitted to hospitals in New York and New Jersey. The numbers are down substantially from early April, when well over 20,000 patients were being hospitalized every week. But they are still considerable. Who are these people? […]  The majority of people, it’s health care workers, it’s M.T.A. workers, it’s postal workers,” Dr. Sylvie De Souza, chief of the emergency department at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, said in an interview in mid-May. “As opposed to before, it seemed to be people out in the community, and of course a lot of the nursing home patients — but almost all of them have died.” Javier H. Valdés, a co-director of Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for immigrants, said the virus patients his organization hears about lately are “getting sick because they’re still out there working — construction, delivery men. It’s mostly men.” Michael Pappas, a family-medicine resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, said that some essential workers are bringing the virus home. “I suspect you have patients whose family members may be deemed essential workers, but they are younger and healthier,” he wrote in an email. “So they go out, work, maybe are exposed or get the virus, but general asymptomatic (or even if symptomatic still have to work), then those same essential workers come home and expose an at-risk loved one living with them.”
  • Buzzfeed: Lawmakers Are Outraged By A “Lazy, Incomplete” Report From The CDC On Racial Data For The Coronavirus:  As communities of color are disproportionately dying from the coronavirus, Congress asked the CDC to collect national data on the race and ethnicity of COVID-19 cases and deaths. On the day of the deadline set in law by Congress, the CDC responded with a page of links that referred back to its public website. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, “should be embarrassed by the lazy, incomplete, 2.5-page copy-and-paste job it calls a ‘report’ on the racial disparities of COVID-19 cases,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted last week. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, sent the report to Congress on March 15. The links that CDC forwarded include some racial and ethnic data on the coronavirus, but it is incomplete. The report includes a link to the CDC’s updating data on cases and deaths across the US, but only includes race and ethnicity information for less than half of the 1.7 million people who have tested positive for COVID-19. The report also linked to the CDC’s data on hospitalizations broken down by race and ethnicity, but that page only includes data from specific network hospitals in 14 states, totaling just about 10% of the US population. “This wholly inadequate response tells us nothing except what we already knew: the Trump Administration would prefer to ignore the disproportionate impact this crisis is having on communities of color,” Sen. Patty Murray, the lead Democrat on a Senate Health Committee, said in a statement.
  • Washington Post: Democrat Accuses OSHA Of Being ‘Invisible’ While Infections Rise Among Essential Workers:  Democratic lawmakers lambasted the nation’s workplace safety regulator Thursday during a House hearing, accusing the agency of failing to hold employers accountable while tens of thousands of essential workers fell ill during the coronavirus pandemic. Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Education and Labor subcommittee on workforce protections, said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been “invisible” during what she called the worst worker-safety crisis of the agency’s 50-year history. OSHA has “failed to develop the necessary tools it needs to combat this pandemic, and it has failed to fully use the tools it has,” Adams said in opening remarks. Despite well-documented outbreaks among health-care, meat-processing, nursing home and retail workers, OSHA has issued only voluntary guidance on coronavirus mitigation, resisting calls from lawmakers and labor advocates to mandate social distancing and other protocols recommended by public heath professionals. OSHA is facing a lawsuit from the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions, which is seeking to compel the agency to issue an enforceable emergency temporary standard, as it did during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

Worth Watching

Even as the VA has aggressively “ratcheted down” the use of hydroxychloroquine because of its risks and ineffectiveness, the White House press secretary is recklessly promoting its use again:

  • Washington Post: VA says it has ‘ratcheted down’ use of hydroxychloroquine to treat veterans
  • Yahoo: White House encourages hydroxychloroquine use for coronavirus again

Other News

Trump’s Failures 
Buzzfeed: Lawmakers Are Outraged By A “Lazy, Incomplete” Report From The CDC On Racial Data For The Coronavirus
CNN: As US deaths top 100,000, Trump’s coronavirus task force is curtailed
New York Times: Biden’s Testing Strategy Sets Up a Clear Contrast With Trump on the Coronavirus
NPR: Coronavirus Testing Machines Are Latest Bottleneck In Troubled Supply Chain
Politico: Trump courts Africa to counter coronavirus — and China
Politico: Trump acknowledges ‘very sad milestone’ of 100,000 coronavirus deaths
Politico: Trump extends National Guard’s coronavirus deployment after outcry
Washington Post: Democrat accuses OSHA of being ‘invisible’ while infections rise among essential workers
Washington Post: Breaking precedent, White House won’t release formal economic projections this summer that would forecast extent of downturn
Washington Post: White House and CDC remove coronavirus warnings about choirs in faith guidance
Washington Post (Analysis): How the pandemic spread and contracted on its way to killing 100,000 Americans
Washington Post: Administration initially dispensed scarce covid-19 drug to some hospitals that didn’t need it

Trump’s Lies and Misinformation
CNN: Fox News looks the other way as US passes grim 100,000 death milestone
Washington Post: VA says it has ‘ratcheted down’ use of hydroxychloroquine to treat veterans
Yahoo: White House encourages hydroxychloroquine use for coronavirus again

Trump and the GOP Not Looking Out For You 
Bloomberg: Trump Administration Vows More Relief for Low-Income Communities
CNN: GOP’s no-mask caucus: ‘Can you smell through that mask?’
HuffPost: Kellyanne Conway Voted By Mail — But She Thinks You Should Have To Wait In Line
NBC: How private jet owners got a subsidy from coronavirus relief funds
NPR: Pence Chief Of Staff Owns Stocks That Could Conflict With Coronavirus Response
New York Times: G.O.P. Pressures North Carolina’s Governor on Convention
New York Times: Millions Relying on Pandemic Aid Can See Its End, and They’re Scared
New York Times: Management of Bailout Money Poses Political Test for Trump
Politico: States battle churches’ lockdown challenges at SCOTUS
Washington Post: House passes bill to ease access to small-business loans in pandemic, but impasse with Senate remains
Washington Post: With citizenship ceremonies postponed, hundreds of thousands could miss chance to vote in November
Washington Post: ‘Sorry, no mask allowed’: Some businesses pledge to keep out customers who cover their faces

Affordability and Access
Houston Chronicle: Texas hospitals that received bailouts are suing poor patients for failing to pay medical bills

Congress
Politico: Tim Kaine tests positive for coronavirus antibodies

Economic Impact
Associated Press: U.S. economy shrank at 5% annual rate in the first quarter
Bloomberg: Big Bankruptcies Sweep the U.S. in Fastest Pace Since May 2009
CNN: 1 in 4 American workers have filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic
Washington Post: Americans have filed more than 40 million jobless claims in past 10 weeks, as another 2.1 million filed for benefits last week

Hospitals and Health Care Workers
NPR: COVID-19 Has Killed Close To 300 U.S. Health Care Workers, New Data From CDC Shows

Inequality
Axios: Coronavirus’ unequal economic toll
Stat: When hard data are ‘heartbreaking’: Testing blitz in San Francisco shows Covid-19 struck mostly low-wage workers

International
Wall Street Journal: Extent of Covid-19 Deaths Failed to Be Captured by Most Countries
Washington Post: Researchers ponder why covid-19 appears deadlier in the U.S. and Europe than in Asia

In The States
Axios: Coronavirus outbreak at Iowa Tyson pork plant sees over 500 cases
NBC: Wisconsin reports record number of new coronavirus cases, deaths
New York Times: 10 Weeks Into New York Area’s Lockdown, Who Is Still Getting Sick?
Politico: Cuomo’s coronavirus halo begins to fade

Polling
CNN: Most Republicans *still* don’t think coronavirus is more deadly than the flu

Workers
Los Angeles Times: He was part of Amazon’s coronavirus hiring spree. Two weeks later he was dead
Wall Street Journal: A Truck Driver’s Long Haul During Coronavirus Crisis: ‘You Realize Just How Alone We Are’

Trump Tweets 

MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY. WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION. BIG MAIL-IN VICTORY IN TEXAS COURT TODAY. CONGRATS!!! [@realDonaldTrump, 5/28/20]

So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD. How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel [@realDonaldTrump, 5/28/20]

The men and women of the National Guard have been doing a great job fighting the CoronaVirus. This week, I will extend their Title 32 orders through mid-August, so they can continue to help States succeed in their response and recovery efforts. [@realDonaldTrump, 5/28/20]

All over the World the CoronaVirus, a very bad “gift” from China, marches on. Not good! [@realDonaldTrump, 5/28/20]

We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you! [@realDonaldTrump, 5/28/20]


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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.
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