Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Trump said cruise ships may be used to help with the coronavirus crisis. The president said he had spoken to the chairman of one cruise company about using the ships, an announcement that comes one day after Trump said two Navy hospital ships would be deployed to free up hospital beds.
- Trump said the FDA was trying to fast-track potential coronavirus treatments. But the FDA commissioner said it would take time to get any treatments approved, and some of Trump’s past promises on testing and medical supplies have not come to fruition, so his comments should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Tulsi Gabbard announced she was ending her presidential campaign and endorsing Joe Biden. The Hawaii congresswoman’s long-shot candidacy was viewed as doomed, considering she had only won two pledged delegates, and her withdrawal officially narrows the race to Biden and Bernie Sanders.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Trump lashes out against ‘very dishonest’ press
Trump took a question from One America News Network, a far-right outlet that he has repatedly praised for its flattering coverage of him, at the close of the coronavirus briefing.
The OAN employee asked Trump if he believed mainstream journalists had aligned themselves with the Chinese Communist Party by noting his use of the term “Chinese flu” to describe coronavirus, which has been widely criticized.
The question was clearly meant to set up Trump to criticize the press, and he happily took the bait. “The press is very dishonest,” Trump said. “They are siding with China.”
Trump’s tirade against news outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal raised alarms, considering millions of Americans are turning to those same sources for information amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump said Americans shouldn’t get the coronavirus test unless they are showing symptoms, even though he received the test without showing symptoms.
“I got a test because you people were driving everyone crazy,” Trump told the reporters. “I’m a unique case unfortunately.”
The president has repeatedly criticized the press during today’s coronavirus briefing, blaming reporters for how the administration’s response has been covered.
Trump’s complaints come as his administration continues to face questions over why testing capacities and medical supplies are not meeting demand as the virus spreads.
Trump says cruise ships may help coronavirus response
Moments ago, Trump said he has spoken with the chairman of a cruise company about the ships potentially helping with the coronavirus response.
“One of the things that happened this morning, I spoke with Micky Arison at Carnival Cruise Lines, and he’s going to make ships available so in addition to the big medical ships,” Trump told reporters.
That announcement comes a day after Trump announced two naval ships, the Comfort and the Mercy, would deploy to help the coronavirus response by taking some of hospitals’ non-coronavirus patients.
Trump seemed skeptical of a report that China has no new local cases of coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak started.
“Who knows, but I hope it is true,” the president said.
Another reporter asked Trump if he was considering any possible repercussions for China because of its handling of the virus, but he chose not to comment on that.
Trump was asked why his administration was not better prepared to fight coronavirus, considering it was first reported in China months earlier.
“We were very prepared,” Trump said. “The only thing we weren’t prepared for was the media. The media has not treated it fairly.”
The president pointed to his decision to limit travel from China as an example of the administration’s preparedness.
“I was the first one to do the ban,” Trump said. “Now other countries are doing what I did, but the media doesn’t want to write about that.”
Trump’s comments come as his administration is sruggling to follow through on promises about expanding testing capacities to monitor the spread of coronavirus.
Trump said moments ago he had “invoked” the Defense Production Act, but the president just told reporters he is not actually using the powers of the law at this time.
Trump said yesterday he would use the Defense Production Act to speed up production of medical supplies if absolutely necessary.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement this morning calling on Trump to “immediately” deploy the powers of the law, arguing there is “not a day to lose.”
Dr. Jerome Adams, the US Surgeon General, issued a call for younger Americans to donate blood during the coronavirus crisis.
“Donated blood is an essential part of caring for patients, and one donation can save up to three lives,” Adams said.
Adam’s call comes as blood banks are warning of a potential critical shortage of donations with schools and businesses closing, leading to canceled blood drives.
Pence: We are ‘increasingly confident’ we’ll have the ventilartors we need
Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the coronavirus task force, expressed confidence that the country will have enough ventilators to combat the pandemic.
“We remain increasingly confident that we will have the ventilators we need as the coronavirus makes its way across America,” Pence said.
A number of medical experts have voiced concern that there will not be a shortage of ventilators in the weeks to come.
Trump said the drugs being tested as potential coronavirus treatements could be a “game-changer” in fighting the virus.
However, it’s important to remember the administration is still trying to follow through on its promises about expanding testing capacities, so Trump’s latest comments should be taken with a grain of salt.
Trump said the FDA is accelerating the development of treatements for coronavirus patients.
The president specifically mentioned the malaria drug chloroquine, which may work as a coronavirus treatment, according to early research.
“Our big war is not a financial war, it’s a medical war,” Trump said. “We have to win this war.”
Trump similarly said yesterday that he considers himself to be a “wartime president” as the country fights the virus.
Trump has taken the podium at the coronavirus briefing, as the number of US cases of the illness continues to rise.
The president, who previously downplayed the threat of coronavirus, ackowledged the pandemic is severely affecting many parts of the world.
“It’s too bad because we’ve never had an economy as good as the economy we had just a few weeks ago,” Trump said. “But we’ll be back.”
The stock market closed down 1,300 points yesterday, nearly wiping out all the gains since Trump took office.
The Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence commitee warned of the aggressive spread of coronavirus three weeks ago, according to a recording obtained by NPR.
Senator Richard Burr said at a Feb. 27 luncheon, “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history.” Burr added coronaviurs was “more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
Burr’s ominous warning came as Trump continued to downplay the seriousness of the health threat, saying the virus might “disappear.”
Burr accurately predicted coronavirus could cause major disruptions to travel and temporary school closures.
Tulsi Gabbard has been treated as an afterthought in recent weeks, while Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders fought for delegates.
Gabbard’s support was consistently landing in the low single-digits in recent contests, as a number of her better-performing opponents dropped out of the race.
With Gabbard’s departure, the race has officially narrowed to just Biden and Sanders, but Biden’s significant delegate lead has put pressure on Sanders to drop out of the race as well.
After Biden’s three-state sweep on Tuesday, Sanders’ campaign said he was assessing the path forward for his White House bid.
Tulsi Gabbard spent more than $5 million to get her two pledged delegates in the Democratic presidential primary.
The two delegates Gabbard won came from the US territory of American Samoa, where the Hawaii congresswoman was born.
Gabbard came in second with American Samoa voters, while former candidate Mike Bloomberg took the majority of the territory’s delegates.
Tulsi Gabbard stayed in the race for weeks after candidates who had out-performed her in the early voting states had withdrawn.
Candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren beat Gabbard in some recent contests, even though they had both already dropped out and Gabbard was still an active candidate.
With Gabbard’s departure from the race, the Democratic presidential primary has officially narrowed to a two-candidate race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.