Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer criticized majority leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting impeachment distracted lawmakers from the coronavirus response.
The New York Democrat noted he said in late January, as Trump’s impeachment trial was going on, that coronavirus should be declared a public health emergency.
McConnell said in a radio interview earlier today that the impeachment trial “diverted the attention of the government” from responding earlier to the outbreak of the virus.
But even after the impeachment trial ended in early February, Trump spent weeks downplaying the virus, incorrectly predicting that it would miraculously “disappear” before causing major effects in the US.
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports:
A separate program California launched this week, which calls to duty recently retired health care professionals and those on the verge of completing degrees, is off to a roaring start. About 25,000 people met the call and filled out applications, governor Gavin Newsom said.
Also new: Health officials in seven Bay Area jurisdictions have extended a previous stay-at-home order, set to expire 7 April, to 3 May.
The new order says that most construction is to cease — both on residential and commercial projects. Previous guidance had a grey area as it related to construction in that residential projects were allowed to continue work but not commercial projects.
Some updates the governor provided, by the numbers:
- 10,000: The number of ventilators needed in California.
- 4,252: The number of ventilators the state has on hand.
- 1.6 million: The number of people who have filed for unemployment in California since March 13.
- 100 million-plus: The number of masks needed for healthcare workers and others.
- 6,932: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California, a 17% increase from yesterday.
- 150: The number of deaths from coronavirus across the state.
- 1,617: The number of people hospitalized, a 13% increase from yesterday.
- 657: Patients admitted to ICUs, a 10% increase from yesterday.
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports:
California has created a hotline for seniors who are isolated in their homes and may need help with daily needs as well as a live person to speak with.
California governor Gavin Newsom today announced that the state is partnering with groups like AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and American Lung Association to set up the hotline. California will also join 2-1-1, which connects people to local resources.
The hotline number is: (833) 544-2374.
“We’re now reconstituting all of those programs and building capacity and partnership to significantly increase our connectivity to our seniors to check not just for wellness checks related to food and medicine but the deep anxiety people are feeling being isolated at home and the loneliness people are feeling at home not connected to the outside world, anxious about their life and their loved ones’ lives,” Newsom said.
Roughly 5.3 million Californians are over 65 and an estimated one million live alone. “Check in on your neighbors, make those phone calls,” Newsom said. “We’re all bound together by a big web of mutuality.”
Trump has appeared reluctant to use the powers of the Defense Production Act even though his administration has invoked it many times before.
The New York Times reports:
A Korean War-era law called the Defense Production Act has been invoked hundreds of thousands of times by President Trump and his administration to ensure the procurement of vital equipment, according to reports submitted to Congress and interviews with former government officials.
Yet as governors and members of Congress plead with the president to use the law to force the production of ventilators and other medical equipment to combat the coronavirus pandemic, he has for weeks treated it like a ‘break the glass’ last resort, to be invoked only when all else fails.
Trump said Friday he would use the law to press General Motors to produce ventilators, although the company has said it is already moving quickly to make the breathing machines.
But a number of Democrats, including Joe Biden and House speaker Nancy Pelosi, have demanded that Trump use the full force of the law to speed up the production of medical equipment.
Joe Biden also dodged a question about whether Trump’s delayed response to coronavirus has cost American lives, as House speaker Nancy Pelosi has claimed.
“President Trump is not responsible for the coronavirus,” Biden said in response to a question from CNN host Brooke Baldwin. “But he is responsible for not using all of the power at his disposal to deal with this virus.”
Biden has specifically called on Trump to use the powers of the Defense Production Act to speed up production of medical equipment.
Biden: Trump has been ‘very slow to act’ on coronavirus
Joe Biden emphasized the need for more tests to combat coronavirus, echoing House speaker Nancy Pelosi and a number of governors from both parties.
Biden told CNN it was important to identify and track coronavirus patients to mitigate the spread of the virus, but states have complained about inadequate testing.
The Democratic frontrunner also complained that many of the claims Trump has made about the pandemic are “simply not accurate.”
Biden pointed to the president’s claim yesterday that he had not peviously heard about the need for more tests. “I don’t know where he’s been,” Biden said.
The former vice president added Trump has been “very slow to act” against the virus, echoing other Democrats’ criticism of the president.
California has nearly 7,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, governor Gavin Newsom said in a virtual press briefing.
Newsom also noted that 25,000 retired and student medical professionals have volunteered to help with the coronavirus crisis.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over a pro forma session in the House, which is expected to be out of session until April 20.
The resignation of congressman Mark Meadows, who is leaving the House to become Trump’s chief of staff, was read on the floor. Meadows’ resignation is effective at 5 pm today.
Pelosi said, “The whole number of the House is 429.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has closed 10 playgrounds across the city after residents failed to adhere to social distancing guidelines there.
The mayor also issued a plea to people who may have ventilators in their office, such as plastic surgeons or veterinarians, to donate them to the coronavirus response effort.
“If you’ve got a vent in your office, in your operating room, we need it now,” de Blasio said. “It shouldn’t be sitting there doing nothing.”
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has said the state needs thousands more ventilators to prepare for the expected surge in coronavirus cases.
The Guardian’s Erin McCormick and Patrick Greenfield report:
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Martinique and Barbados have refused to accept the medical evacuation of two critically ill passengers from a stranded coronavirus-stricken cruise ship, according to the vessel’s owner.
Four people have died, nine people have tested positive for covid-19 and dozens of people are ill with flu-like symptoms on the Zaandam and the Rotterdam, which are traveling towards Florida to attempt to dock.
William Burke, chief maritime officer for the boats’ owners Carnival Corporation, made the disclosure about critically ill passengers while answering questions about plans to enter Port Everglades, which have so far not been approved.
Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief told that Guardian that while there may be opponents to the plan to allow the ships to dock, she thinks the plan proposed by Carnival is ultimately a workable approach.
“This is Carnival using their resources to get people home. The county commissioners can’t turn a ship away. They can say what they want. But it’s ultimately up to the county administrator and the Unified Command whether to let the ship come in.”
She said most of the calls she is getting from the public are from those who want the county to rescue the passengers.
“Most people want us to give humanitarian aid, which is something American is known for. I don’t know how, if there are Americans aboard, we would turn these people away.”
Hospitals are threatening to fire staffers who publicly share concerns about working conditions amid the pandemic.
Bloomberg News reports:
Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington state, said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he’d given an interview to a newspaper about a Facebook post detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty. In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization.
‘Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image,’ said Ruth Schubert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association. ‘It is outrageous.’
Many hospitals have said they are running dangerously low on personal protective equipment, potentially exposing medical professionals to coronavirus as they treat patients.
In Italy, which has seen the most deaths in the pandemic, more than 60 doctors have already died because of the virus.
This graph of US coronavirus cases is being widely shared, as the country’s number of cases continues to climb.
The graph indicates the US has not yet flattened the curve of coronavirus cases, underscoring the need to continue practicing social distancing in the weeks to come.
There is already some early evidence that such measures have helped mitigate the spread of the virus in San Francisco, where officials first told residents to stay home two weeks ago.
The captain of a Navy aircraft carrier sent an urgent memo asking for help to contain an outbreak on the ship.
Captain Brett Crozier, commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, asked that the ship be allowed to dock to let the 5,000 sailors on board quarantine.
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote yesterday to Navy leaders, according to the Wall Street Journal. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset—our sailors.”
Crozier warned the ship, which has already seen at least 70 cases of coronavirus, did not allow for the social distancing recommended by the CDC.
“With the exceptions of a handful of senior officer staterooms, none of the berthing onboard a warship is appropriate for quarantine or isolation,” Crozier wrote.
In response, the Navy said it is “moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt.”
A group of New York doctors shared a video urging young people to take social distancing guidelines seriously.
The doctors warned that young people can get seriously ill from coronavirus and said those with mild symptoms should immediately self-isolate.
The doctors said their hospital is running out of medication, equipment and oxygen, emphasizing it was a dire necessity for Americans to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Watch the video here:
The sale of Trump’s Washington hotel has been put on hold as the industry struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post reports:
Trump’s firm, which he still owns, has had to press pause on the proposed sale of its D.C. hotel lease due to the market’s collapse as potential buyers wait for banks and investors to return normal operations. …
Trump’s company, now run by Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, announced the planned sale in October and set a January deadline for initial bids. It is unclear how many companies are pursuing the lease, which Trump signed with the federal government before his election, although BET co-founder Sheila Johnson was among the bidders.
The Trump Organization has already had to close several properties and lay off hundreds of workers in the face of the pandemic, and the $2 trillion stimulus bill blocks businesses owned by the president from receiving loans or investments from the treasury department.
Dr Anthony Fauci said the White House is examining whether to recommend more widespread usage of face masks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said medical professionals should still have priority in receiving face masks, considering they are on the front lines against the virus.
Officials previously warned Americans against hoarding masks as hospitals said they were running dangerously low on personal protective equipment.
But Fauci said there could potentially be some benefit to more widespread usage of the masks if the country can get a sufficient supply of them.
“Once we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks,” Fauci told CNN earlier today. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re close to coming to some determination.”