Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative April 2020 news and views
Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this.
Global Virus Overview
New York Times, Coronavirus Live Updates: Half of Humanity Under Lockdown Orders, Staff reports, April 3, 2020. Roughly four billion people have been told to stay in their homes, but some U.S. states have resisted such measures. New jobs report shows staggering losses are likely to get worse.
Right Now: Britain reported its highest single-day death toll: 684, bringing total deaths in the country to 3,605; “This coming Sunday is D-Day,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. If critical supplies do not arrive soon, he said, thousands will die.
• As global infections soar, guidance on masks is reversed.
• The U.S. job market is crumbling.
• Data shows an income gap in limiting movement.
• How coronavirus is causing confusion with terms like ‘peaks,’ ‘testing’ and ‘lockdown.’
• The New York Times infections database is open to the public.
• Trump invokes Defense Production Act, and criticizes 3M
Washington Post, Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March, Heather Long, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation.
Washington Post, Trump sows uncertainty and seeks to cast blame in coronavirus crisis, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s machinations have a dogged showman’s quality, using his omnipresence at daily White House news conferences to try to erase memories from his months of playing down the covid-19 threat.
In the three weeks since declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, President Trump has delivered a dizzying array of rhetorical contortions, sowed confusion and repeatedly sought to cast blame on others.
History has never known a crisis response as strong as his own, Trump says — yet the self-described wartime president claims he is merely backup. He has faulted governors for acting too slowly and, as he did Thursday, has accused overwhelmed state and hospital officials of complaining too much and of hoarding supplies.
America is winning its war with the coronavirus, the president says — yet the death toll rises still, and in the best-case scenario more Americans will die than in the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
The economy is the strongest ever and will rebound in no time, he says — yet stock markets have cratered and in the past two weeks a record 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance.
Washington Post, Experts and Trump’s advisers doubt White House’s prediction of virus deaths, William Wan, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker and Joel Achenbach, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people could die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.
The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them.
White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.
Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.
The estimate appeared to be a rushed affair, said Marc Lipsitch, a leading epidemiologist and director of Harvard University’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “They contacted us, I think, on a Tuesday a week ago, and asked for answers and feedback by Thursday, basically 24 hours,” he said. “My initial response was we can’t do it that fast. But we ended up providing them some numbers responding to very specific scenarios.”
Other experts noted that the White House didn’t even explain the time period the death estimate supposedly captures — just the coming few months, or the year-plus it will take to deploy a vaccine.
Washington Post, Live updates: U.S. grapples with widening onslaught as China warns about risk of new infections, Adam Taylor, Teo Armus, Jennifer Hassan and Rick Noack, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). 104-year-old veteran beats coronavirus in time to celebrate his birthday, Saudi Arabia says it will take on 60 percent of kingdom’s private sector salaries
U.S. Victim Impacts, Responses
New York Times, Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Denise Lu and Gabriel J.X. Dance, April 3, 2020. An analysis of cellphone data shows that those in the wealthiest areas have been able to reduce their movements more than those in the poorest areas.
It has been about two weeks since the Illinois governor ordered residents to stay at home, but nothing has changed about Adarra Benjamin’s responsibilities. She gets on a bus nearly every morning in Chicago, traveling 20 miles round trip some days to cook, clean and shop for her clients, who are older or have health problems that make such tasks difficult.
Ms. Benjamin knows the dangers, but she needs her job, which pays about $13 an hour. She also cannot imagine leaving her clients to fend for themselves. “They’ve become my family,” she said.
In cities across America, many lower-income workers continue to move around, while those who make more money are staying home and limiting their exposure to the coronavirus, according to smartphone location data analyzed by The New York Times.
New York Times, Opinion: The Covid-19 Slump Has Arrived, Paul Krugman, right, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). But we’re already botching the response. Over a normal two-week period we’d expect around half a million U.S. workers to file claims for unemployment insurance. Over the past two weeks we’ve seen almost 10 million filings. We’re facing an incredible economic catastrophe.
The question is whether we’re ready to deal with this catastrophe. Alas, early indications are that we may be handling fast-moving economic disaster as badly as we handled the fast-moving pandemic that’s causing it.
The key thing to realize is that we aren’t facing a conventional recession, at least so far. For now, most job losses are inevitable, indeed necessary: They’re a result of social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
This means that the principal job of economic policy right now isn’t to provide stimulus, that is, to sustain employment and G.D.P. It is, instead, to provide life support — to limit the hardship of Americans who have temporarily lost their incomes.
New York Times, The unemployment rate in the U.S. is probably around 13 percent. Here’s how we estimated it, Justin Wolfers
April 3, 2020 (print ed.). The jobless rate today is almost certainly higher than at any point since the Great Depression. We think it’s around 13 percent and rising at a speed unmatched in American history.
The labor market is changing so fast that our official statistics — intended to measure changes over months and years rather than days or weeks — can’t really keep up. But a few simple calculations can help piece together a reasonable approximation.
- New York Times, The 1,000-Bed Ship Was Supposed to Aid New York. It Has 20 Patients, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). “It’s a joke,” said a top hospital executive, whose facilities are packed with coronavirus patients.
New York Times, Opinion: Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed, Michelle Goldberg, right, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Trump’s son-in-law has no business running the coronavirus response. Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.
According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist.
“I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,” Kushner reportedly said. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)
Even now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner, left, could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: “People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections, which are not the realistic projections.”
Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.
Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. “Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,” said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.
Palmer Report, Opinion: I think I figured it out, Bill Palmer, right, April 3, 2020. We’ve all been chewing on three questions. 1) Why is Donald Trump refusing to fully invoke the Defense Production Act, which could solve all the medical supply shortages? 2) Why is Trump forcing states to outbid each other for the medical supplies they’re buying from foreign governments? 3) Why has the Trump regime been sending U.S. medical supplies overseas all along, when they’re needed here?
To decipher any mystery involving Donald Trump, you have to apply two rules. One is that he’s always running a petty con for personal financial gain. The other is that with Trump, it’s always even more treacherous than you imagined. When you apply all of this to the three questions above, I think I’ve figured out what he may be up to.
First, Trump makes sure there’s a scarcity of medical supplies by refusing to order them into mass production. Then Trump sends the federal government’s existing stockpile to foreign countries. Then the individual states, which he’s made desperate for supplies, end up bidding each other through the roof for these supplies. Who’s profiting? The foreign entities – and Trump is the one giving them the opportunity to turn that profit.
I’ve come to suspect that Donald Trump is sending our medical supplies to corrupt foreign governments, so they can turn around and sell those supplies back to the states at a huge profit.
Then these foreign governments owe Trump a personal favor. We’ve already seen Trump use this kind of leverage to try to push Ukraine into making up fake scandals about Joe Biden. Why wouldn’t Trump be doing the same with the medical equipment he’s sending overseas? Someone with broader investigative resources than mine should try to get to the bottom of this, because there has to be something to it. With Trump, there always is.
2020 U.S. Politics, Elections
Washington Post, Resistance to stay-at-home orders remains widespread, exposing political and social rifts, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Chelsea Janes, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Experts are warning that a group of governors in the South and the Great Plains risk acting too late.
Kay Ivey, right, the Republican governor of Alabama, put down a marker last week in affirming that it was “not the time to order people to shelter in place.”
“Y’all, we are not Louisiana, we are not New York state, we are not California,” she said, suggesting that the fate of hard-hit parts of the country would not be shared by Alabama.
In Missouri, Republican Gov. Mike Parson said he was not inclined to “make a blanket policy,” adding, “It’s going to come down to individual responsibilities.”
And in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, issued a statewide stay-at-home order this week under growing pressure as his state’s death toll mounted, a Tampa-area megachurch pastor who was arrested for holding services in violation of a local order announced Thursday he was considering reopening the church in time for Easter and is “praying and seeking the Lord for wisdom.”
Washington Post, Opinion: We’ve officially witnessed the total failure of empathy in presidential leadership, Michael Gerson (right, syndicated columnist and former GOP George W. Bush administration speechwriter), April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Someday presidential historians will fully explore the defects of heart and character that led Donald Trump, in the midst of an unprecedented national crisis threatening hundreds of thousands of deaths, to brag that the television ratings for his afternoon briefings rivaled the “Bachelor” finale or “Monday Night Football.”
This is not mere pettiness.
Exploiting this type of tragedy in the cause of personal vanity reveals Trump’s spirit to be a vast, trackless wasteland. Trump seems incapable of imagining and reflecting the fears, suffering and grief of his fellow citizens. We have witnessed the total failure of empathy in presidential leadership.
So far, frankly, it hasn’t mattered very much. The main focus has been, appropriately, on the president’s lack of competence. We clearly have a medical and scientific A-team being supported by a White House D-team. Trump’s initial failure of urgency wasted weeks that could have been used in lifesaving preparations. His long holiday of denial hurt the country badly.
But the United States is now on the verge of events that will demonstrate the need for empathetic leadership. So far, many of the sacrifices imposed by the coronavirus crisis have been theoretical (except in the most dramatically affected areas). But even under the best-case scenarios, we are entering weeks of mounting fatalities. Before it all ends, many Americans will know someone who dies or faces severe illness. At the same time we will start counting and feeling the costs of an economy in suspended animation.
Washington Post, Trump campaign calls Sessions ‘delusional,’ asks him to stop promoting ties to the president, John Wagner, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). A letter sent to the U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama took issue with the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, right, for referring to his strong support for his former boss.
Roll Call, After angering Trump, is Thomas Massie really in trouble? Bridget Bowman, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Kentucky Republican has a record of breaking with his party. President Donald Trump’s call to throw Kentucky Rep. Thomas Masssie out of the Republican Party has raised new questions about whether GOP voters in Massie’s district will listen and deny him the party’s nomination for another term.
Attorney Todd McMurtry is hoping they do, and he wasted no time reminding voters that Trump angered the president. McMurtry, who is challenging Massie in a primary, released a 30-second television ad Thursday highlighting Trump’s tweets aimed at Massie.
But Massie,left, doesn’t see the new spotlight on his race as a problem.
Massie’s campaign said more than $200,000 in contributions have come in since he stood on the House floor Friday and called for a recorded vote on a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill, which was crafted in response to the new coronavirus pandemic. That’s more than Massie raised throughout all of 2019.
Jobs, Markets, Business
Washington Post, Insurers knew the damage a viral pandemic could wreak on businesses. So they excluded coverage, Todd C. Frankel, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Some industry watchers predict ‘a tidal wave of litigation’ over whether policies should cover losses due to coronavirus closures.
SARS, which infected 8,000 people mostly in Asia and is now seen as foreshadowing the current pandemic, led to millions of dollars in business-interruption insurance claims. Among the claims was a $16 million payout to one hotel chain, Mandarin Oriental International.
As a result, many insurers added exclusions to standard commercial policies for losses caused by viruses or bacteria. Now, the added policy language will potentially allow insurance companies to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in business-interruption claims because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Washington Post, The past two weeks wiped out all the economy’s job gains since the 2016 election, Heather Long and Abha Bhattarai, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). It could take years to recover from the coronavirus recession, especially for millions of laid off workers.
The coronavirus recession is shaping up to be the biggest blow to the U.S. economy since the Great Recession, and fears are rising that it could take years to reverse the damage, especially for millions of Americans who are losing their jobs and businesses.
The past two weeks have wiped out all the economy’s job gains since President Trump’s November 2016 election, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on American families struggling to pay rent, prescriptions, food and health insurance in the middle of a pandemic.
Washington Post, Slow federal response, liability fears led to mask crunch, Jeanne Whalen, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). A sluggish initial response by the Trump administration and an ongoing debate about legal protection for manufacturers contributed to a critical shortage.
New York Times, C.I.A. Hunts for Virus Totals in China, Dismissing Government Tallies, Julian E. Barnes, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Intelligence officials have told the White House for weeks that China has vastly understated the virus’s spread and the damage the pandemic has done.
New York Times, Trump Shows Eagerness for Good News on Oil Deal That May Not Exist, Michael Crowley, Clifford Krauss and Andrew E. Kramer, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Oil prices surged after a tweet from President Trump about a Saudi-Russian deal on production, but dipped as it became unclear whether it would happen.
When oil prices crashed in early March after a dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia, President Trump put a positive spin on the news. “Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down!” he wrote on Twitter as markets tumbled. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that falling gasoline prices amounted to “the greatest tax cut we’ve ever given.”
But the president has also nervously eyed the dire threat that American energy producers face from rock-bottom oil prices, and American officials have spent weeks pressing Saudi Arabia and Russia to settle a dispute that has created a global oil glut and further shaken an already-traumatized global economy.
Global Virus Overview
- New York Times, Another 6.6. Million in U.S. Join Unemployment Rolls
- Washington Post, Live Updates: Virus death toll passes 50,000 globally as worldwide cases near 1 million
- Washington Post, Analysis: Ga. governor, who resisted strict measures, says he just learned virus transmits asymptomatically, Aaron Blake
- Washington Post, Pelosi announces House panel to oversee virus response, setting up clash with Trump
- New York Times, Deaths New York City Top 1,500 as Cuomo Warns on Ventilators
- Washington Post, The grim death-toll projections the White House offered Monday have already been revised upward
- Washington Post, Analysis: What you really need to know from Tuesday’s White House coronavirus briefing, Amber Phillips
- Roll Call, Democrats postpone nominating convention
- New York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Politicizing the Pandemic. Governors Can Fight Back, Eric Posner and Emily Bazelon
- Washington Post, U.S. deaths surge past 4,600 as officials compare struggle with Italy’s outbreak
U.S. Victim Impacts, Remedies
- Washington Post, As U.S. death toll surpasses 4,600, Fauci says the real turning point in coronavirus mitigation won’t happen until there’s a vaccine: April 1 live updates
- Washington Post, Treasury changes rules on eligibility for stimulus payments
U.S. Markets, Jobs, Safety
- Washington Post, U.S. markets pile on losses amid bleak health and economic projections
- Washington Post, A new rallying cry among U.S. workers: No one should pay rent until the pandemic ends
- Washington Post, White House to urge all Americans to wear face coverings in public
- Washington Post, Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait
Suspected Virus Scandals
- NBC News, Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier
- Washington Post, White House to urge all Americans to wear face coverings in public
- WAFB (Baton Rouge), Judge Roy Moore to hold press conference about pastor charged for holding services during stay-at-home order
More On Victim Impacts
- New York Times, 12 Fraught Hours With E.M.T.s in a City Under Siege
- New York Times, Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread
U.S. Politics, 2020 Elections
- Washington Post, Analysis: Which states are resisting tougher coronavirus measures? Aaron Blake
- Washington Post, Opinion: Democrats need to dump their in-person convention, Jennifer Rubin
- Washington Post, Judge declines to delay April 7 presidential primaries in Wisconsin, despite concerns about virus
- Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Bernie is busted. If it looks like a plant…it’s a plant, Wayne Madsen
- Washington Post, Trump campaign calls Sessions ‘delusional,’ asks him to stop promoting ties to the president
- Washington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump plays fast and loose with the facts during marathon news conference, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo
- Washington Post, Analysis: Trump now says he knew the virus ‘could be horrible’ when he was saying things like ‘it’s going to disappear,’ Amber Phillips
- Palmer Report, Opinion: This latest Jared Kushner debacle is just unbelievable, Bill Palmer
- New York Times, Trump’s Company Seeks to Ease Financial Crunch as Coronavirus Takes Toll
- Palmer Report, Analysis: Deutsche Bank bombshell reveals Donald Trump really is broke, Bill Palmer
- Washington Post, Secret Service signs contract this week to rent golf carts in town of Trump club
- Washington Post, Pakistan court overturns convictions in killing of journalist Daniel Pearl
- Washington Post, Shivering, hallucinating, beaten ‘like a piñata’: Chris Cuomo’s ‘haunted’ night with coronavirus
- Washington Post, OANN gets booted from White House press room after making unauthorized appearance
- National Press Club, Stacey Abrams touts 2020 census despite COVID-19 at NPC Virtual Newsmaker
Global Virus Overview
New York Times, Another 6.6. Million in U.S. Join Unemployment Rolls, Staff report, April 2, 2020. For Second Straight Week, Record Is Set for Jobless Claims. Almost 10 million people have filed for unemployment benefits over the last two weeks. More than 6.6 million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, setting a grim record for the second straight week.
Added to 3.3 million claims for the week ending March 21, it means nearly 10 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in two weeks.
The speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.
“What usually takes months or quarters to happen in a recession is happening in a matter of weeks,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
A month ago, most forecasters still thought the United States could avoid a recession. Today, with the pandemic shuttering businesses and forcing vast layoffs, many economists are expecting a decline in gross domestic product that rivals the worst periods of the Great Depression.
The speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.
Major global markets were mixed, suggesting that investors were taking a breath after pushing Wall Street stocks sharply lower on Wednesday. Pension programs have taken huge hits to their investment portfolios.
Washington Post, Live Updates: Virus death toll passes 50,000 globally as worldwide cases near 1 million, Rick Noack, Brittany Shammas, John Wagner, Alex Horton, Miriam Berger, Katie Mettler and Siobhán O’Grady, April 2, 2020. U.S. is now outbreak’s epicenter, with more confirmed infections than any other country.
The global number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 50,000 and cases edged toward 1 million, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University, as the outbreak continued to hit the United States and Europe especially hard. Elsewhere, officials battled to maintain earlier successes in the fight against the novel coronavirus, weighing the desire to resume normal business operations against the risk of triggering new cases.
Washington Post, Pelosi announces House panel to oversee virus response, setting up clash with Trump, Erica Werner and Paul Kane, April 2, 2020. Now that the $2 trillion rescue package for the epidemic is law, oversight of the massive legislation emerges as an early sticking point.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the creation of a new select committee Thursday with subpoena powers to scrutinize the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and its management of the new $2 trillion economic rescue law.
“Where there’s money there’s also frequently mischief,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said as she announced the creation of the special bipartisan panel she said would be focused on rooting out waste, fraud and abuse.
Pelosi’s announcement comes amid growing clashes between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration about oversight of the new rescue legislation and a $500 billion fund controlled by the Treasury Department. President Trump has to appoint a new inspector general to oversee that fund but has already signaled opposition to the scope of that person’s mandate.
Pelosi told reporters on a conference call that her new committee would be modeled after the World War II-era committee run by then-Sen. Harry Truman (D-Mo.), whose role in investigating the implementation of billions of dollars in defense contracts eventually led to his elevation to vice president.
She said that this new committee needed to serve as an everyday watchdog of the more than $2 trillion already allocated to fight the novel coronavirus and the virtual lockdown it has placed on the economy.
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus, as Pelosi called it, will be chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is the No. 3 Democratic leader as majority whip.
New York Times, Deaths New York City Top 1,500 as Cuomo Warns on Ventilators, Staff reports, April 2, 2020. New York has only six days’ worth of ventilators left.
The warning from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday was ominous: At the rate the state was using ventilators for coronavirus patients, it would run out in just six days.
The remarks imposed an urgent timeline on the guidance the governor has been giving for weeks — that if New York did not get a major infusion of the potentially lifesaving machines, and quickly, the number of virus-related deaths in the state would spike drastically.
“If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator, the person dies,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany. “That’s the blunt equation here. And right now we have a burn rate that would suggest we have about six days in the stockpile.”
The comments came as doctors in New York City, where hospitals’ supplies are dwindling amid a flood of virus patients, cautioned that medical workers might soon need to make difficult choices about rationing care.
Across the United States, hospitals and public health officials have been working on plans for what might happen if the number of virus patients were to exceed the available space in intensive care units.
The governor said that there were 2,200 ventilators in the state’s stockpile and that about 350 new patients a day need them. At that pace, he said, “2,200 disappears very quickly.”
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City alone would need 2,500 to 3,000 new ventilators next week to cope with an expected surge in patients.
Washington Post, The grim death-toll projections the White House offered Monday have already been revised upward, Philip Bump, April 2, 2020. Late Wednesday night, the IHME released revised estimates, based on new data. During the first wave of the epidemic, its model projects, the death toll will be 93,765 — an increase of 14 percent from its model the previous day.
That’s just the first wave, looking at the number of deaths through July. In the fall and winter, the virus is expected to reemerge and pose a significant threat once again.
That shift is a function in part of things looking more bleak over the short term. The new model suggests that the number of deaths each day is now most likely to peak on April 16, a day later than suggested Monday, with 400 more deaths that day.
Washington Post, Analysis: Ga. governor, who resisted strict measures, says he just learned virus transmits asymptomatically, Aaron Blake, April 2, 2020. Health officials have been saying that for two months.
After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.
Kemp, right, said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”
“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.”
It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.
Washington Post, U.S. deaths surge past 4,600 as officials compare struggle with Italy’s outbreak, Matt Zapotosky, Nick Miroff and Ian Duncan, April 2, 2020 (print ed.). Sobering predictions about the future of the outbreak in the United States show that each day will bring more suffering than the last.
Coronavirus deaths in the United States passed 4,600 Wednesday as Vice President Pence issued an ominous warning that America’s situation is most comparable to Italy’s struggle with the virus, which has pushed that nation’s hospitals to capacity and has left more than 13,000 people dead despite a weeks-long lockdown.
The prediction was among a fresh batch of reminders that as the United States makes its agonizing march toward the peak of the covid-19 pandemic, each day will bring more suffering than the last.
In total, the nation added at least 900 virus-related deaths to its overall tally on Wednesday, as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections rose to more than 211,000. State officials warned their hospitals might soon run short on needed masks, gowns and ventilators, and Homeland Security officials acknowledged the federal government’s emergency stockpile of supplies also was nearly exhausted.
Washington Post, Analysis: What you really need to know from Tuesday’s White House coronavirus briefing, Amber Phillips, April 2, 2020 (print ed.). Anthony Fauci (right), Deborah Birx and Vice President Pence say to expect a staggering number of deaths in a short amount of time. And that’s the best-case scenario.
President Trump started his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday by, confusingly, bringing out military brass rather than health officials to talk about the war on drugs. He managed at one point to work in a brag about his Facebook popularity (“Did you know I was number one on Facebook? I just found out I’m number one on Facebook. I thought that was very nice for whatever it means.”).
So what did we actually learn about the U.S. government’s fight against the coronavirus on Wednesday? Here are six takeaways.
1. Will people be able to participate in normal summer activities? It’s an open question.
Roll Call, Democrats postpone nominating convention, Kate Ackley and Stephanie Akin, April 2, 2020. Pandemic pushes the party’s quadrennial event from July to August.
Democrats will postpone their presidential nominating convention to the week of Aug. 17 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is still scheduled to take place in Milwaukee, Wis.
It was originally slated to be in mid-July.
“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention. During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact remain unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health care professionals and emergency responders,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, in a news release.
“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” he added.
The party’s likely nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, said this week the convention would likely by pushed back. “I doubt whether the Democratic Convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July or early July. I think it’s gonna have to move into August,” Biden told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” on Wednesday.
New York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Politicizing the Pandemic. Governors Can Fight Back, Eric Posner and Emily Bazelon, April 2, 2020. States need the federal government, and that has allowed Mr. Trump to indulge his worst tendencies.
States depend on the federal government to confront disease outbreaks like the coronavirus pandemic. In the early days of Covid-19, state and local officials weren’t in a position to foresee the scope of the threat or control the levers that could have suppressed it.
Later, because nearly all states must balance their budgets, they couldn’t use deficit spending for bailouts. They can’t print money as the Federal Reserve can. And they still don’t have the resources to protect their residents — which makes it risky for them to anger Mr. Trump as they seek to fulfill their institutional role as a check against federal abuses.
Mr. Trump has, characteristically, revealed and exploited defects in the federal system. Unwilling to take the blame for shutting down the economy when he thought there was little public support for the move, he sparred with governors like Andrew Cuomo, right, of New York and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan while also hiding behind them.
When the president finally began taking the pandemic more seriously, he shifted to using the governors for partisan gain. Last Friday, Mr. Trump said they “should be appreciative, because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps. They’re not appreciative to FEMA.” He then said he told Mr. Pence not to call those who were unappreciative.
Whether or not Mr. Trump meant it, he made his point: Governors who criticized the president would put their states at risk of getting short shrift from the federal government.
The following day, The Washington Post detailed the uneven distribution of protective gear from FEMA. Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts, led by two Democrats and a Republican critic of the president’s pandemic policies, received only small fractions of what they asked for while Florida got the delivery it requested — twice over.
Mr. Trump and Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, had traded praise even as both rejected the advice of public health authorities, with Mr. Trump speaking of jettisoning restrictions by Easter and Governor DeSantis allowing Florida beaches to stay open while the state’s infection rate soared. (Mr. DeSantis finally issued a statewide state-at-home order on Wednesday.)
Federal officials say that in allocating equipment, they have made their best assessment of the relative needs of states. But several governors remain frustrated. Mr. Trump has politicized this process at a moment when states are under maximum strain.
Only a united group can defeat a bully. When politicians take on Mr. Trump one by one, they can’t match the power of the American presidency. Congress has failed to challenge Mr. Trump effectively because the Republican-led Senate refuses to put the interests of the institution above partisanship. But the governors, with their direct responsibility for the welfare of their citizens, have urgent reason to band together and do better.
This week, some of them did that in challenging Mr. Trump’s assertion that the supply of testing kits was sufficient. “That’s just not true,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, told NPR. Other governors agreed with that assessment in interviews elsewhere.
The governors can’t take over the federal government. But they can raise hell.
U.S. Victim Impacts, Remedies
Washington Post, As U.S. death toll surpasses 4,600, Fauci says the real turning point in coronavirus mitigation won’t happen until there’s a vaccine: April 1 live updates, Rick Noack, John Wagner, Lateshia Beachum, Alex Horton, Miriam Berger, Brittany Shammas, Eva Dou, Felicia Sonmez, Meryl Kornfield, Candace Buckner, Michael Brice-Saddler, Sindya N. Bhanoo and Teo Armus, April 2, 2020 (print ed.). As the national stockpile of medical supplies is nearly gone, more than 13,000 physicians signed a letter to congressional leaders, seeking personal and legal protection while working on the front lines.
The physicians urged Congress to ensure Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines are upheld during the pandemic. Due to the shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE), the gear worn to abate dangers in the workplace, doctors are being requested to work without the safeguards.
Here are some significant developments:
- The death toll in the United States surpassed 4,600 on Wednesday with more than 211,000 confirmed cases — far exceeding other nations and accounting for about 20 percent of the global total.
- After facing sharp criticism for forcing seniors who don’t usually file tax returns to do so in order to get stimulus payments, the Trump administration said the government will use information on Social Security forms to get payments to seniors.
- At Wednesday’s White House briefing, Anthony S. Fauci, right, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert and the face of the U.S. response, said we could “relax social distancing” once there’s “no new cases, no deaths,” but the real turning point won’t come until there’s a vaccine.
- President Trump said officials were “looking at” potential flight restrictions between hard-hit areas of the United States, though he noted that it would be difficult to entirely suspend air travel.
- The governors of Florida and Georgia announced stay-at-home orders, except for essential activities. In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) also canceled school for the rest of the academic year for grades K-12.
Washington Post, Treasury changes rules on eligibility for stimulus payments, Heather Long, April 2, 2020 (print ed.). Most high school seniors and college students still won’t get any money at all. After facing sharp criticism for forcing seniors who don’t usually file tax returns to do so to get coronavirus relief payments, the Trump administration announced late Wednesday that Social Security recipients wouldn’t have to do so.
- Washington Post, Trump, Pence have no plan for uninsured Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak, April 2, 2020.
- Washington Post, Everyone wants the new rapid virus tests. But where should they go first? April 2, 2020.
U.S. Markets, Jobs, Safety
Washington Post, U.S. markets pile on losses amid bleak health and economic projections, Thomas Heath and Jacob Bogage, April 2, 2020. The Dow slid nearly 1,000 points and Wall Street descended deeper into its month-long funk as the nation entered one of its most dire periods in memory.
Stocks descended deeper into their month-long funk Wednesday as the nation entered one of its most dire periods in memory. Coronavirus deaths are piling up, vast swaths of the population are confined to their homes, and tens of millions are hurting while the pandemic squeezes the life out of the economy.
As the nation looks for a whisper of good news, Wednesday’s sell-off suggests Wall Street is bracing for even deeper losses after finishing one of its worst quarters ever.
“We are in for shockingly bad labor market numbers in Thursday’s unemployment claims,” said Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust. “We are in for the sharpest quarterly decline in economic activity that we have ever seen. And the recovery in the second half of the year is going to be slow, challenging and disappointing. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”
Washington Post, A new rallying cry among U.S. workers: No one should pay rent until the pandemic ends, Renae Merle, Heather Long and Patricia Sullivan, April 2, 2020. With millions laid off due to the pandemic, some are pulling money from their savings accounts, borrowing money from friends to pay rent or attempting to negotiate deals with their landlords. Some plan to strike.
Washington Post, White House to urge all Americans to wear face coverings in public, Lena H. Sun and Josh Dawsey, April 2, 2020. New CDC guidance is a policy reversal. The latest recommendations make clear the general public should not wear medical masks, including surgical and N95 masks. One option is cloth coverings made at home.
The White House is expected to urge Americans to begin wearing cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in a reversal of its earlier recommendations, according to a federal official involved in the response.
The announcement could come as early as Thursday.
White House coronavirus task force officials have been considering whether to recommend that face coverings be routinely worn in public because of increasing evidence that infected people without symptoms can spread the virus, according to internal memos and new guidance provided to the White House by the CDC.
“In light of these new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of virus to those around them,” according to the guidance, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.
Washington Post, Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait, Tony Romm, April 2, 2020. It could take weeks or more before much-needed money reaches the pockets of cash-strapped gig-economy workers, a series of delays that threatens to put their homes, families and livelihoods in jeopardy amid an historic economic downturn.
Suspected Virus Scandals
NBC News, Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier, Courtney Kube, April 2, 2020. The Navy announced it has relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Capt. Brett Crozier, who commands the Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000, was relieved of his command on Thursday, but he will keep his rank and remain in the Navy.
Crozier raised the alarm earlier this week that sailors on the ship need to be quarantined to stop the spread of the virus. His plea for assistance quickly made headlines.
Crozier sent a letter to the Navy on Monday begging for help addressing the coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, which was forced to dock in Guam last week. The ship leadership began testing everyone on board. By Wednesday, there were 93 positive test results and more than 1,000 people had departed the ship into isolation on Guam. In total, 2,700 people are expected to disembark the ship this week, with a smaller crew remaining to maintain the ship.
The move was announced in a briefing by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly Thursday evening. The official reason for Crozier’s relief of duty is a loss of trust and confidence, according to the officials who spoke to NBC News.
Image: Courtney KubeCourtney Kube
Palmer Report, Donald Trump’s missing ventilator scandal just got even uglier, Bill Palmer, April 2, 2020. Last week we all witnessed a public battle play out over the 30,000 ventilators in the FEMA stockpile. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he needed them in New York City because it was the coronavirus epicenter, but the Trump regime only sent him 4,000 ventilators, arguing the the rest needed to remain in stockpile.
Now FEMA is telling the House Oversight Committee that there are only 9,500 ventilators in its stockpile. If this claim is true, then where are the rest of the ventilators? The Trump regime was supposedly keeping 26,000 of them in stockpile, but it turns out the stockpile only has 9,500 ventilators. Where did the other 16,500 ventilators go?
Every state with a coronavirus crisis is complaining about not having gotten ventilators from the Trump regime. California was sent 170 broken ventilators, to give you an idea of the near total lack of ventilator distribution going on. Yet according to the Trump regime’s own claims, there are 16,500 fewer ventilators in the national stockpile than there were a few days ago.
Has Donald Trump been quietly giving tons of ventilators over the past week to Republican Governors who don’t need them? Or were these ventilators part of the seventeen tons of medical equipment that the State Department admitted it gave to China in a press release in February? It looks like Trump has spent the past several days downplaying New York’s need for the ventilators in the FEMA stockpile, because the majority of those ventilators weren’t in the stockpile to begin with. This needs to be investigated as a criminal matter.
WAFB (Baton Rouge), Judge Roy Moore to hold press conference about pastor charged for holding services during stay-at-home order, Robb Hays, April 1, 2020. Pastor Tony Spell says Judge Roy Moore, right, has been hired to represent his church and defend him against criminal charges.
Spell has continually defied orders by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards by holding large gatherings at his church during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Prosecutors filed criminal charges against Spell March 31 for violating those orders. Spell has had multiple church gatherings at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana since the order was issued. Many of the services have had several hundred people in attendance.
More On Victim Impacts
New York Times, 12 Fraught Hours With E.M.T.s in a City Under Siege, Jan Hoffman / Photographs by Chang W. Lee, Updated April 2, 2020. Special units of emergency medical workers in Paterson, N.J., respond to 911 calls, entering homes and putting themselves at risk.
A few weeks ago, a 911 call for “respiratory distress” would have sent emergency medical technicians — E.M.T.s — rushing into the building to examine the man and take his vitals.
Now with coronavirus infections sweeping through the region, the emergency medical workers of Paterson, a poor, industrial city in the penumbra of pandemic-stricken New York, are working in a new, upside-down reality: Don’t go in a home, don’t touch the patient, and don’t take anyone to the hospital, unless absolutely necessary.
New York Times, Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread, James Glanz, Benedict Carey, Josh Holder, Derek Watkins, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Rick Rojas and Lauren Leatherby, April 2, 2020. People in Florida and elsewhere continued to travel widely last week, potentially exposing more people to the coronavirus, phone data shows.
Stay-at-home orders have nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast and other places that waited to enact such orders have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates, according to an analysis of cellphone location data by The New York Times.
The divide in travel patterns, based on anonymous cellphone data from 15 million people, suggests that Americans in wide swaths of the West, Northeast and Midwest have complied with orders from state and local officials to stay home. Disease experts who reviewed the results say those reductions in travel — to less than a mile a day, on average, from about five miles — may be enough to sharply curb the spread of the coronavirus in those regions, at least for now.
- New York Times, Farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented, have become “essential” during the pandemic.
- New York Times, The Apocalypse as an ‘Unveiling’: What Religion Says About End Times, For people of many faiths, and none at all, it can feel like the end of the world is near. The story of apocalypse is one of the oldest humans tell.
- New York Times, New York City is deploying 45 mobile morgues as deaths strain funeral homes
U.S. Politics, 2020 Elections
Washington Post, Analysis: Which states are resisting tougher coronavirus measures? Aaron Blake, April 2, 2020. Several states still aren’t on board with tougher coronavirus mitigation measures, even as their number of cases are mounting and there are increasing worries that things will deteriorate.
The White House coronavirus task force came prepared at Tuesday’s briefing with charts. One of them, strikingly, projected a “goal” of between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths. Another showed the curve of infections in various states. While New York’s curve reached significantly higher than any other state, the officials noted that other states had more successfully flattened their curves by starting early with aggressive measures.
“It was just a month ago when they started to have the issues in Washington state, but they brought together their communities and their health providers and they put in strong mitigation methods and testing,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “and you can see what the results in Washington state and California [are].”
The message seemed clear: Look at what these states have done, and emulate them.
But when it came to directly requesting that, the officials stopped short. The result is that several states still aren’t on board with tougher measures, even as their numbers are mounting and there are increasing worries that things there will deteriorate.
Chief among the holdouts, until Wednesday, was Florida.
Given the emphasis on early mitigation, one reporter asked a very logical question Tuesday: Should Florida be doing more? In that state, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has come under fire for declining to shut down beaches weeks ago or to take other, more severe measures. As The Washington Post’s Fred Barbash wrote, Florida is registering some of the biggest increases in cases of the novel coronavirus in recent days.
Washington Post, Judge declines to delay April 7 presidential primaries in Wisconsin, despite concerns about virus, Amy Gardner, April 2, 2020. The decision came amid worries that holding elections during the coronavirus pandemic could risk public health and curtail access to the polls.
• Washington Post, Analysis: The fear and politics around expanding voting by mail
Washington Post, Opinion: Democrats need to dump their in-person convention, Jennifer Rubin, right, April 2, 2020. Let’s face it: Networks have been cutting back on four-day presidential party conventions for a few cycles. The most diligent voters probably catch only an hour or two total of the entire proceedings.
Since the primary era, conventions have become more akin to the electoral college: a formality following the real voting. To the extent they are used to try to boost appeal in a particular swing state, there is little evidence the tactic works. (The late Sen. John McCain did not win Minnesota in 2008 despite holding his convention there; neither did putting the 2016 convention in Philadelphia help Hillary Clinton win Pennsylvania.) When covid-19 came around, naturally people began to wonder if the massive gathering has outlived its usefulness.
Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, opined in an MSNBC interview on Tuesday that while we have had conventions in wartime, “the fact is it may have to be different.”
CBS News now reports, “Democratic Party leaders across the country are calling on party bosses to curtail, postpone or dramatically rethink the party’s national convention scheduled for July in Milwaukee, concerned that holding a mass gathering just as levels of infection are expected to ebb could expose thousands to the coronavirus once again.”
Let’s also remember that by July, the country in all likelihood will be in a recession with unemployment numbers not seen since the Great Depression. I am not sure how seemly it will be for rich donors and party pooh-bahs to be partying it up at lavish affairs.
Moreover, the 2016 Democratic convention cost — brace yourself for this — $127 million. That cost was divided among the city, the party and the host committee (big donors).
It is hard to imagine a worse use of money for a city in the midst of a health and economic disaster — or for a party that may be hard-pressed to raise money in a recession (and do so “virtually,” to boot). Democrats can use the day for phone-banking nationwide or for making donations to doctors and first responders; the money saved by foregoing a physical convention can go right into get-out-the-vote, registration and other critical efforts.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Bernie is busted. If it looks like a plant, talks like a plant, and acts like a plant, it’s a plant, Wayne Madsen, April 2, 2020. There is a distinct possibility that Vermont Independent Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders — vowing evermore to continue his quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination regardless of the fact that former Vice President Joe Biden is in a commanding lead in overall number of pledged convention delegates — may be a political Trojan Horse hatched by Republican dirty tricks apparatchiks during the Richard Nixon campaigns and administrations.
Washington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump plays fast and loose with the facts during marathon news conference, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, April 2, 2020. Here’s a sampling from the nearly 13,000 words spoken by the president.
Washington Post, Analysis: Trump now says he knew the virus ‘could be horrible’ when he was saying things like ‘it’s going to disappear,’ Amber Phillips, April 2, 2020 (print ed.). But he didn’t want to tell Americans sooner because he didn’t want to be “negative.”
On Tuesday, a somber President Trump acknowledged that under the best-case scenario, 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die of coronavirus. “It’s not the flu,” he said, in stark contrast to when he compared it repeatedly with the flu in March.
Now that the president seems to have come around to the gravity of the health crisis, what does he think about his weeks of downplaying a virus he now says is serious? What about not advising social distancing weeks earlier, even though there is widespread agreement among public health experts that Americans should have been isolating sooner than mid-March?
CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump those questions repeatedly Tuesday. On this front, Trump had not changed: He was unwilling to admit error.
Let’s start with Trump downplaying the virus. Acosta asked him: “Is there any fairness to the criticism that you may have lulled Americans into a false sense of security? When you were saying things like it’s going to go away and that sort of thing?”
Trump’s answer basically came down to: He did not want to deliver the bad news about how serious the virus could be. What’s more, he said he knew ahead of time it could be this bad (or even worse, killing millions with no government intervention whatsoever), but he did not want to tell Americans that at the time.
“I want to give people a feeling of hope. I could be very negative. I could say ‘wait a minute, those numbers are terrible. This is going to be horrible,’” he said. “Well, this is really easy to be negative about, but I want to give people hope, too. You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country.”
Palmer Report, Opinion: This latest Jared Kushner debacle is just unbelievable, Bill Palmer, April 2, 2020. If you were watching Donald Trump’s press conference on MNSBC today, you had the good fortune not to have to see or hear from Jared Kushner, because the network mercifully pulled the plug the second he began talking.
The mere presence of Trump’s idiot son-in-law at a coronavirus crisis press conference was jarring and offensive. But the full story is even uglier.
If you’re wondering what Jared Kushner, right, was saying today, the great Yamiche Alcindor transcribed the most relevant quote:
Jared Kushner says some governors don’t know how many ventilators they have & coronavirus outbreak is revealing manager skills.
“What a lot of the voters are seeing now is that when you elect somebody…think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis.”
That’s right, Jared Kushner – who hasn’t been elected to anything, who has no experience or competence, and whose only “qualification” is that he’s married to the boss’ daughter – is daring to question the managerial competence of the governors who are trying to do Donald Trump’s job for him. Unbelievable.
New York Times, Trump’s Company Seeks to Ease Financial Crunch as Coronavirus Takes Toll, David Enrich, Ben Protess and Eric Lipton, April 2, 2020. As companies look for relief, the Trump Organization has talked with Deutsche Bank and a Florida county about delaying payments on loans and other obligations.
All over the country, businesses large and small are seeking breathing room from their lenders, landlords and business partners as they face the financial fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
President Trump’s family company is among those looking for help.
With some of its golf courses and hotels closed amid the economic lockdown, the Trump Organization has been exploring whether it can delay payments on some of its loans and other financial obligations, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The New York Times.
Representatives of Mr. Trump’s company have recently spoken with Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest creditor, about the possibility of postponing payments on at least some of its loans from the bank.
And in Florida, the Trump Organization sought guidance last week from Palm Beach County about whether it expected the company to continue making monthly payments on county land that it leases for a 27-hole golf club.
The discussions with Deutsche Bank and Palm Beach County are preliminary, and it isn’t clear whether Mr. Trump’s company will be able to delay or reduce its payments, according to people briefed on the discussions.
Palmer Report, Analysis: Deutsche Bank bombshell reveals Donald Trump really is broke, Bill Palmer, right, April 2, 2020. Everyone paying attention knows Donald Trump isn’t actually a billionaire. The guy’s assets are offset by huge debts. The only question is whether he was a mere millionaire, or if his crushing debts were so large that he was actually broke. Now we have our answer.
As Palmer Report and others have recently pointed out, six of Donald Trump’s seven highest revenue-generating properties are currently shut down due to the coronavirus crisis. Even since he assumed the presidency, Trump has gone to great lengths to grift remarkably small amounts of cash. This has always suggested that he was struggling so badly to keep up with his loan payments, he had little or no cash on hand.
Now Bloomberg and the New York Times are reporting that roughly two weeks into the shutdown, Donald Trump is already having to ask Deutsche Bank to delay loan payments owed by the Trump Organization. This is humiliating for a guy who loves to pretend he’s a billionaire, and he had to know it would end up leaking. So the only way he’s doing this is if he’s out of cash on hand already.
So there you have it. Donald Trump is so underwater, the revenue from his properties just barely covers the interest payments on his massive debts. All along he’s only had a couple weeks of cash on hand. In other words he’s been living paycheck to paycheck. This means his debts are far larger than the total value of his assets, giving him a substantial negative net worth.
Every one of you reading this has a higher net worth than Donald Trump does, even if your net worth is zero or modestly in the red.
Washington Post, Secret Service signs contract this week to rent golf carts in town of Trump club, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell, April 2, 2020. The Secret Service this week signed a $45,000 contract to rent a fleet of golf carts in Northern Virginia, saying it needed them quickly to protect a “dignitary” in the town of Sterling, home to one of President Trump’s golf clubs, according to federal contracting data.
The contract was signed Monday and took effect Wednesday, records show. The Secret Service paid a West Virginia-registered company, Capitol Golf Cars and Utility Vehicles, to rent 30 carts until the end of September.
The new contract, which the Secret Service described as an “emergency order,” does not mention Trump or the golf club by name. But it closely mirrors past contracts signed by the Secret Service, for agents accompanying Trump to his golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida.
Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services sent more than a dozen workers to receive the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear, according to a whistleblower complaint.
The workers did not show symptoms of infection and were not tested for the virus, according to lawyers for the whistleblower, who is a senior HHS official based in Washington who oversees workers at the Administration for Children and Families, a unit within HHS.
The whistleblower is seeking federal protection because she alleges she was unfairly and improperly reassigned after raising concerns about the safety of these workers to HHS officials, including those within the office of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. She was told Feb. 19 that if she does not accept the new position in 15 days, which is March 5, she would be terminated.
Washington Post, How a prayer meeting at a French megachurch may have led to scores of deaths, James McAuley, April 2, 2020 (print ed.).
- Wayne Madsen Report, Coronavirus Global News Feed (Updated).
Associated Press via Houston Chron, Radio host gets 25 years in Ponzi scheme targeting listeners, Staff report, April 2, 2020. A Texas radio host and financial consultant who admitted to conning elderly listeners out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The sentence was imposed as part of a plea deal that William Neil “Doc” Gallagher, 79, agreed to on Friday with Dallas County prosecutors, the Dallas Morning News reported. The North Richland Hills man was ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution.
Gallagher (shown in a mug shot) targeted older, Christian listeners of his show, called “The Money Doctor,” and met with them to discuss what he said was risk-free income, prosecutors said.
He guaranteed annual returns of 5% to nearly 9% if they invested in securities with him, according to the criminal complaint. He described it as a “retirement income you’ll never outlive.”
Gallagher, who wasn’t licensed to advise clients on securities, received up to $29.2 million from about 60 investors from December 2014 to January 2019, authorities said. By Jan. 31, 2019, those accounts contained just $821,951.
Under the plea deal, Gallagher was convicted on one count each of theft of more than $300,000, money laundering of more than $300,000 and securities fraud exceeding $100,000.
“He took advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” lead prosecutor Alexis Goldate said in a written statement. “He targeted elderly investors and individuals attracted to his Christian ideals and then stole from them.”
Authorities said Gallagher dished out roughly $5.9 million to early investors by using newer investors’ capital. He also used several million dollars for payroll, radio and website costs and personal outlays such as legal fees.
Gallagher has been behind bars since his March 2019 arrest. After the indictment, the Gallagher Financial Group’s assets were frozen and a lawyer was appointed to manage the funds.
Washington Post, Pakistan court overturns convictions in killing of journalist Daniel Pearl, Shaiq Hussain, April 2, 2020. Omar Saeed Sheikh’s sentence was reduced to life in prison, and three co-conspirators were freed. The decision by the Sindh High Court can still be appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
A regional Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the convictions of the men involved in the killing of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
The ruling by two judges on the High Court of Sindh province can still be appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
“As per the court’s judgment, Omar Saeed Sheikh has been found guilty of kidnapping and not of murder. The accused was in jail for 20 years,” the defendants’ lawyer Khawaja Naveed told The Washington Post.
Saeed had been sentenced to death for Pearl’s murder, but now with just a seven-year sentence for kidnapping, he could be released, given the 18 years he has already served.
The three other men convicted with Saeed — Fahad Naseem, a computer expert; Salman Saqib, a religious activist; and Sheikh Adil, a police officer — were ordered released by the court.
- Washington Post, Shivering, hallucinating, beaten ‘like a piñata’: Chris Cuomo’s ‘haunted’ night with coronavirus, Allyson Chiu, April 2, 2020.
Washington Post, OANN gets booted from White House press room after making unauthorized appearance, Paul Farhi, April 2, 2020. Despite social distancing in the crowded briefing room, the White House made an exception for conservative One America News Network (OANN). White House correspondents pushed back.
This time, it was a fairly routine question that Chanel Rion, a correspondent for One America News Network, posed to President Trump during Tuesday’s White House news briefing: How many clinical trials would it take before a potential coronavirus drug he has touted could be approved? Trump wasn’t sure and turned the question over to Anthony S. Fauci, his infectious-diseases expert.
But the brief Q&A raised its own question: What was Rion doing there in the first place?
Under strict new guidelines jointly imposed last month by White House officials and the White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents journalists, access to the cramped briefing room is now restricted to about 15 reporters each day, to enforce social-distancing measures amid the coronavirus crisis, and several smaller news organizations can rotate in only once every several days.
And it wasn’t OANN’s turn on Tuesday. Nor on Wednesday, when Rion showed up in the room again — prompting the correspondents’ association to vote to remove OANN from the rotation.
“We did this because a reporter for this outlet twice attended press briefings in contravention of this policy,” the board of the WHCA said in a statement late Wednesday. “We do not take this action lightly. This is a matter of public safety.”
Rion and her employer, a tiny conservative cable outlet known as OANN, appear to have gotten special permission from the White House, in violation of the guidelines. The reasons, and the source of the approval, are unclear, but OANN and Rion have a history of reporting favorably about Trump. Rion herself has pushed conspiracy theories that advance his political interests, such as the unfounded allegation that officials in Ukraine secretly manipulated the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton. Trump, in turn, has tweeted praise of OANN’s reporting dozens of times.
The White House, in effect, on Tuesday bent the rules — which were designed to ensure the health of journalists, the president and the nation’s top public-health officials — in granting access and a national spotlight to a correspondent from an obscure but Trump-friendly news outlet.
OANN was founded 2013 by Robert Herring Sr., a millionaire Republican donor from San Diego who made his fortune in the circuit-board business before starting over in media. His son, Charles Herring, president of One America’s parent company Herring Broadcasting, told The Post last week that the channel “is designed to report just the news” and that “we would not describe our news reporting as right-leaning.”
National Press Club, Stacey Abrams touts 2020 census despite COVID-19 at NPC Virtual Newsmaker, Louise D. Walsh, April 2, 2020. Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s first major party African-American gubernatorial candidate, reminded a National Press Club online audience Wednesday that the 2020 census, even during a historic pandemic, helps determine how much funding each state gets and how many seats in Congress for this decade. The census, she said, gives Americans political and financial power.
“We have to have an accurate count,” she said during a Club Virtual Newsmaker event, and must dispel fears that census forms can be harmful. They can’t. “Information is confidential and safe,” she said.
Because COVID-19 halted in-person census-taking, Abrams wants Americans to complete census forms by mail or online, or by phone: Go to my2020census.gov. or call 844-330-2020 to fill out your forms.
Since 1790, the United States had counted people and, by law, their information is confidential.
Abrams and Club President Michael Freedman, who introduced the former Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and conducted a Q&A, touted the decennial census for helping deliver billions of federal dollars into states and communities for roads, bridges, hospital beds in times of crisis, Pell education grants, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Children’s Health Insurance Program funding.
Global Viral Headlines
- Washington Post, Task force paints grim picture of U.S. death toll in coming weeks
- New York Times, Live Updates: Pandemic Is Greatest Challenge Since World War II, U.N. Chief Says
- New York Times, Governors Fight Back at Trump Administration Over Supplies
- New York Times, Virus’s Toll in New York Passes 2,200 Cases, Nearly 400 people died in New York State since Tuesday
- Washington Post, Florida governor issues coronavirus stay-at-home order after heavy criticism
- Washington Post, The list of who won’t get a $1,200 stimulus check is growing — and includes some surprising groups
- Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is playing a dangerous game with Andrew Cuomo, James Sullivan
- Daily Mail, The Pentagon orders 100,000 body bags for FEMA amid dire prediction of 200,000 dead after coronavirus death toll jumps 1,000 in one day bringing total to 5,139 — as it’s claimed defense chiefs warned Trump White House of potential threat in 2017
World News Headlines
- New York Times, Analysis: Why the Global Recession Could Last a Long Time, Peter S. Goodman
- Washington Post, Experts warn that pandemic pain is about to tilt quickly from richer nations to poorer ones
- New York Times, Iran Says U.S. Sanctions Are Taking Lives. U.S. Officials Disagree
- Washington Post, Coronavirus reopens Europe’s angry divide
- New York Times, Bolsonaro, Isolated and Defiant, Dismisses Coronavirus Threat to Brazil
- New York Times, ‘We Are in a Cage:’ Spain Seals Off Town From Rest of Country
- New York Times, Analysis: Trump Confronts a New Reality, Peter Baker
- Washington Post, Opinion: Blaming virus failures on impeachment is gaslighting of the highest order, George T. Conway III
- Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Proposed International Criminal Court indictment of Trump for criminal negligence in pandemic response
- The Nation, Investigation: The Military Knew Years Ago That The Coronavirus Was Coming
U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics
- Washington Post, Biden raises doubts about holding convention in July
- Washington Post, Wisconsin goes it alone, holding elections next week amid fears of infection and voting chaos
- FiveThirtyEight, Analysis: So … About That Supposed Lack Of Enthusiasm For Biden?
- Washington Post, Media and style analysis: Sanders and Biden have been courting voters virtually, and it’s not going well, Robin Givhan
- New York Times, Why ‘Never Bernie’ Voters Won and ‘Never Trump’ Voters Lost
- Palmer Report, Opinion: Whoopi Goldberg just destroyed Bernie Sanders to his face for refusing to drop out of a race that he’s lost
Personal Health Headlines
- New York Times, Unwitting Spreaders: 25% of Infected May Lack Symptoms
- Washington Post, As coronavirus spreads, so do reports of companies mistreating workers
- Washington Post, Zaandam cruise ship still has no guaranteed port for sick passengers as Trump, Florida officials discuss plans
- New York Times, 28 Texas Students Have Coronavirus After Spring Break Trip
- Washington Post, Navy to remove 2,700 sailors from aircraft carrier struggling with coronavirus in Guam
- Washington Post, Protective gear in national stockpile is nearly depleted, DHS officials say
- Washington Post, Fauci’s security is stepped up as doctor and face of U.S. virus response receives threats
U.S. Markets, Economy, Jobs
- New York Times, Business Updates: Stock Markets Dive
U.S. Courts, Crime
Global Viral Overviews
Washington Post, Task force paints grim picture of U.S. death toll in coming weeks, Philip Rucker and William Wan, April 1, 2020 (print ed.). Trump projects up to 240,000 will succumb, even with mitigation.
The president took a newly somber tone — and contradicted many of his previous assessments of the virus — as he urged residents to follow measures aimed at limiting the spread of covid-19.
New York Times, Live Updates: Pandemic Is Greatest Challenge Since World War II, U.N. Chief Says, Staff reports, April 1, 2020. Virus May Kill 100,000 to 240,000 in U.S., Experts Say. António Guterres, the secretary general, called the virus “an unprecedented test.” A report called for a response totaling 10 percent of the global G.D.P.
President Trump warned of a “painful two weeks” ahead as the U.S. death toll surged toward 4,000. India’s Supreme Court is forcing journalists to parrot the government’s message on the outbreak. Here’s the latest.
President Trump told of “hard days that lie ahead” as his top scientific advisers released models predicting that the U.S. death toll would be 100,000 to 240,000. Governors complained about chaos in obtaining critical supplies.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
New York Times, Governors Fight Back at Trump Administration Over Supplies, Sarah Mervosh and Katie Rogers, April 1, 2020 (print ed.). Governors from across the political spectrum are challenging the assertion that the U.S. is well-stocked to test and care for coronavirus patients.
A chorus of governors from across the political spectrum is publicly challenging the Trump administration’s assertion that the United States is well-stocked and well-prepared to test people for the coronavirus and care for the sickest patients.
In New York State — the center of the nation’s outbreak, with at least 1,550 deaths — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, said on Tuesday that the country’s patchwork approach to the pandemic had made it harder to get desperately needed ventilators.
“You now literally will have a company call you up and say, ‘Well, California just outbid you,’” Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said in his daily news briefing. “It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator.”
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, right, a Republican, said on Tuesday that his state was “flying blind” in the fight against the coronavirus because officials did not have enough tests. When asked during an NPR interview about President Trump’s comments suggesting that a chronic lack of test kits was no longer a problem in the United States, Mr. Hogan did not mince words: “Yeah, that’s just not true.”
And in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that it was “disturbing” to learn that a national stockpile of medical supplies was running empty.
“We are on our own,” he said.
Across the country, America’s governors are going head-to-head with the Trump administration over the need for testing supplies and ventilators, at times defying party lines. Some have sparred with the president on phone calls and in public interviews. Still others have sided with the president, or calculated that it would be easier to get the needs of their states met with support and praise.
Mr. Trump, who has been quick to pick fights with governors who have criticized his efforts, took aim at Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday.
New York Times, Virus’s Toll in New York Passes 2,200 Cases, Nearly 400 people died in New York State since Tuesday, Staff reports, April 1, 2020. As the second month of the coronavirus outbreak begins, officials warn that the worst is yet to come. The head of a Brooklyn church is the first Roman Catholic priest in the country to die of the virus, officials said.
Washington Post, Florida governor issues coronavirus stay-at-home order after heavy criticism, Fred Barbash and Alex Horton, April 1, 2020. Florida is now a hotspot, with cases nearly doubling in four days. Gov. Ron DeSantis had previously said he would take action if the White House told him to.
Washington Post, The list of who won’t get a $1,200 stimulus check is growing — and includes some surprising groups, Heather Long, April 1, 2020. Americans on Social Security now have to file a “simple” tax return to receive a stimulus check. Most high school seniors and college students won’t get any money at all.
The Trump administration is requiring Americans on Social Security to file a tax return to receive the $1,200 coronavirus payment, an added step that is causing confusion and could prevent millions from easy access to relief.
Many lawmakers and advocates for the poor say filing a tax return shouldn’t be necessary for people on Social Security since the government already knows how to send this population monthly checks. The $2.2 trillion aid package said that if someone has not filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return, the U.S. Treasury should get their information from Social Security, if applicable.
But, the Internal Revenue Service posted a notice on its website on Monday, instructing Social Security recipients to file a “simple” tax return, which will be available soon.
“People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment,” the IRS said. “Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.”
Democrats are upset that the Trump administration isn’t doing more to help ensure as many Americans as possible get these payments during this national health emergency.
Thirty-four senators sent the White House a letter Wednesday asking why the Trump administration is placing this “significant burden” on seniors and the disabled. House members are also speaking out.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is playing a dangerous game with Andrew Cuomo, James Sullivan, April 1, 2020. It’s not enough that Donald Trump’s idiotic and dangerous press conferences have to happen and only serve as a reminder of how unprepared and incompetent he truly is.
As the number of American lives claimed by Covid-19 continues to climb, Trump regularly demonstrates that he has no desire to save American lives and hope that the Republican governors who support him can keep up the illusion that he’s doing a good job. If you thought he couldn’t possibly disgrace himself in front of the country any further when it comes to talking about the virus, however, you’d be wrong.
Not only is Donald Trump inflating his own ego by saying he’s handled things perfectly so far – he can’t stand to have the spotlight given to anyone else. While New York governor Andrew Cuomo is stepping up and rightfully admonishing the administration for its shortsightedness, he’s enjoying considerably higher approval ratings than Donald Trump could ever hope for.
This is something that Trump couldn’t let go of course, and he claimed credit for Cuomo’s high approval rating – saying it’s because he gave the state the ventilators and ships that it needed during his Fox News appearance. It wasn’t even the last thing he had to say about it – even going so far as wishing aloud that he could run against Andrew Cuomo in the general election.
Perhaps he was hoping he could goad Cuomo into rebuking him publicly – or that he could make any of the governor’s decisions seem politically motivated – a strategy that proved to be pretty stupid when Cuomo quietly dismissed it by denying any intentions to run for president and saying he won’t engage in politics with Trump. Donald Trump isn’t just incapable of handling a crisis, he’s having a hard time picking fights too, as the media is wisely beginning to limit his screen time.
Daily Mail, The Pentagon orders 100,000 body bags for FEMA amid dire prediction of 200,000 dead after coronavirus death toll jumps 1,000 in one day bringing total to 5,139 — as it’s claimed defense chiefs warned Trump White House of potential threat in 2017, Leah Simpson, April 1, 2020.
The Pentagon is ordering 100,000 body bags as experts predict the coronavirus will claim the lives of more than 200,000 Americans and a new report has suggested the Trump administration was warned about the threat of coronavirus three years ago but failed to prepare.
New deaths in the US rose by 1,047 to 5,139 by the end of Wednesday and new infections surged by 26,866 to 216,553.
The majority of the country is now on a lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
With more than 215,000 cases, the government was expected to get the next 50,000 body bags from a stockpile, however, preparations were being made to triple up as hospitals and morgues became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and were quickly running out of space in states including California and New York.
New York Times, Why the Global Recession Could Last a Long Time, Peter S. Goodman, April 1, 2020. Fears are growing that the worldwide economic downturn could be especially deep and lengthy, with recovery limited by continued anxiety.
The world is almost certainly ensnared in a devastating recession delivered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, fears are growing that the downturn could be far more punishing and long lasting than initially feared — potentially enduring into next year, and even beyond — as governments intensify restrictions on business to halt the spread of the pandemic, and as fear of the virus reconfigures the very concept of public space, impeding consumer-led economic growth.
The pandemic is above all a public health emergency. So long as human interaction remains dangerous, business cannot responsibly return to normal. And what was normal before may not be anymore. People may be less inclined to jam into crowded restaurants and concert halls even after the virus is contained.
The abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain so profound and enduring in every region of the world at once that recovery could take years. The losses to companies, many already saturated with debt, risk triggering a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions.
New York Times, Iran Says U.S. Sanctions Are Taking Lives. U.S. Officials Disagree, Farnaz Fassihi, April 1, 2020. Iran, devastated by the coronavirus, is asking the U.S. to lift sanctions on humanitarian grounds. U.S. officials say sanctions aren’t to blame; Iran is.
Iran’s plea is gaining traction around the globe, winning support from allies like Russia and China, but also the European Union, the United Nations secretary general, rights groups and nearly three dozen members of Congress, who have appealed to the Trump administration to suspend the sanctions for as long as Iran is battling the coronavirus.
Iran, a global epicenter of the virus, has confirmed more than 47,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths, although public health experts estimate the real toll to be several times higher.
“We had always said the sanctions are unjust but coronavirus revealed this injustice to the world,” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a recent video message, which he began by removing a surgical mask from his face with blue latex gloves. He referred to the sanctions as “economic terrorism.”
Washington Post, Coronavirus reopens Europe’s angry divide, Ishaan Tharoor, April 1, 2020. In a time of crisis, major European countries are at loggerheads over how to send out the rescue boats.
Europe’s economies are in a deep state of coronavirus-induced hibernation. Even its strongest one — Germany — is bracing for an inevitable recession. Many governments on the continent have approved hefty stimulus spending to contend with the huge toll that the pandemic has already exacted on their societies.
The newly released funds will be used to keep devastated businesses afloat, guarantee workers’ salaries and defer freelancers’ taxes, among other relief measures.
New York Times, ‘We Are in a Cage:’ Spain Seals Off Town From Rest of Country, Elian Peltier, April 1, 2020 (print ed.). A town near Barcelona has withdrawn into itself. Dozens have died at an overstretched hospital, and the cost of confinement goes far beyond illness.
New York Times, Bolsonaro, Isolated and Defiant, Dismisses Coronavirus Threat to Brazil, Ernesto Londoño, Manuela Andreoni and Letícia Casado, April 1, 2020. As coronavirus cases and deaths mount in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, right, has remained defiant, the last notable holdout among major world leaders in denying the severity of the coronavirus.
Brazilians, he declared last week, are uniquely suited to weather the pandemic because they can be dunked in raw sewage and “don’t catch a thing.”
Defying guidelines issued by his own health ministry, the president on Sunday visited a busy commercial district in Brasília, the capital, where he called on all but elderly Brazilians to get back to work.
Washington Post, Experts warn that pandemic pain is about to tilt quickly from richer nations to poorer ones, Anthony Faiola, Sudarsan Raghavan, Max Bearak and Terrence McCoy, April 1, 2020. Covid-19 is poised to engulf nations plagued by fraying health-care systems, fragile governments and impoverished populations for whom social distancing is impossible.
Peru tried to do everything right. Officials declared an early national lockdown — and backed it up with 16,000 arrests. Yet confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are surging, up nearly 60 percent since last weekend.
In Egypt, observers say a repressive government is vastly undercounting the infected. In Brazil, where the president has dubbed Latin America’s largest outbreak a “fantasy,” numbers are skyrocketing.
- Washington Post, U.S. military puts Korean workers on unpaid leave as talks over costs continue, Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim, April 1, 2020.
New York Times, Analysis: Trump Confronts a New Reality, Peter Baker, right, April 1, 2020. Under the best-case scenario presented on Tuesday, more Americans will die from the coronavirus than died in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.
Five weeks ago, when there were 60 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, President Trump expressed little alarm. “This is a flu,” he said. “This is like a flu.” He was still likening it to an ordinary flu as late as Friday.
By Tuesday, however, with more than 187,000 recorded cases in the United States and more Americans having been killed by the virus than by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the president’s assessment had rather drastically changed. “It’s not the flu,” he said. “It’s vicious.”
The grim-faced president who appeared in the White House briefing room for more than two hours on Tuesday evening beside charts showing death projections of hellacious proportions was coming to grips with a reality he had long refused to accept. At a minimum, the charts predicted that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans would die — and only if the nation abided by stringent social restrictions that would choke the economy and impoverish millions.
A crisis that Mr. Trump had repeatedly asserted was “under control” and hoped would “miraculously” disappear has come to consume his presidency, presenting him with a challenge that he seems only now to be seeing more clearly.
The staggering numbers publicly outlined on Tuesday had forced him over the weekend to reverse his plan to reopen the country by Easter, but they were hardly new or surprising. Experts have been warning of a possibility like this for weeks. But more than ever before, Mr. Trump seemed to acknowledge them.
Washington Post, Opinion: Blaming virus failures on impeachment is gaslighting of the highest order, George T. Conway III, right, April 1, 2020. There should have been shame enough in orchestrating the acquittal of an impeached president who, in order to extort help for his reelection campaign, unlawfully withheld security aid to an ally. Shame enough in turning the Senate impeachment trial into a sham by refusing to hear a single live witness.
But it turns out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was just getting started.
Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic
On Tuesday, he added to the disgrace by claiming that impeachment distracted officials from dealing with the coronavirus. Speaking to radio host (and Post columnist) Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said the virus “came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything, every day, was all about impeachment.”
This is gaslighting of the highest order. Leave aside that the president now claims that he presciently “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic” and that he “always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously.”
Look at the calendar. The impeachment trial ended on Feb. 5. In reality, it was over before it even started, thanks in large part to McConnell. The only drama was about whether there’d be any witnesses — and that ended on Jan. 31, when the Senate voted not to hear testimony. That left plenty of time to deal with the virus.
And while some lawyers in the executive branch and Congress were working on impeachment around the clock, impeachment didn’t consume the government. Trump managed to get to Mar-a-Lago at least four times in January and February, working in a few rounds of golf along the way. He held five campaign rallies around the country during the impeachment trial.
George T. Conway III is a lawyer and an adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC. He is a co-founder of Checks & Balances, a network of lawyers advocating for the rule of law.
The Nation, Investigation: The Military Knew Years Ago That The Coronavirus Was Coming, Ken Klippenstein, April 1, 2020. The Pentagon warned the White House about a shortage of ventilators, face masks and hospital beds in 2017 — but the Trump administration did nothing.
A 2017 military pandemic response plan leaked to The Nation shows that the Pentagon anticipated a novel influenza epidemic, likely to be a coronavirus variant, and predicted with uncanny accuracy the medical supply shortages that now appear poised to cause untold deaths. The plan foretold of massive loss of personnel due to illness, a point which we could soon be approaching, and predicted the worldwide competition for — and scarcity of — vaccines that we are now witnessing.
Despite Trump’s repeated assertions that the pandemic was “unforeseen” and “came out of nowhere,” the Pentagon was well aware of, and had planned for, a novel influenza disease like COVID-19. (The document specifically references coronavirus on several occasions.)
Denis Kaufman, who served as head of the Infectious Diseases and Countermeasures Division at the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2014 to 2017, told Klippenstein that US intelligence had been well-aware of the dangers of coronaviruses for years; he said: “The Intelligence Community has warned about the threat from highly pathogenic influenza viruses for two decades at least.
They have warned about Coronaviruses for at least five years.” (Kaufman retired from his decades-long career in the military in December of 2017.)
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Proposed International Criminal Court indictment of Trump for criminal negligence in pandemic response, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 18 books and former Navy intelligence officer), April 1, 2020. WMR is publishing a proposed International Criminal Court indictment of impeached President Donald John Trump for his criminal negligence in reacting to and taking remedial actions for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump has abrogated his constitutional oath of office and his actions have resulted in the needless deaths of Americans and innocent citizens of other nations.
The proposed indictment by the ICC is a living document and may be added to or amended as necessary. It is also provided as a template for other ICC prosecutions, including those of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, other administration officials, and foreign leaders.
The latter could include Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (for theft of critical medical supplies from other nations), Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, at a minimum.
Download here for draft indictment.
U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics
Washington Post, Biden raises doubts about holding convention in July, Matt Viser, April 1, 2020. The former vice president and likely Democratic presidential nominee suggested the DNC could postpone the convention, while also warning that states need to prepare for remote voting in November.
Joe Biden raised significant doubts about whether the Democratic National Convention will be held as planned in July, with the likely presidential nominee suggesting that the party’s major gathering, slated for Milwaukee, may need to be altered or postponed.
When asked whether he could envision holding the convention in July, given the novel coronavirus pandemic and concerns about large gatherings, Biden said, “It’s hard to envision that.”
“We should listen to the scientists,” the former vice president told Brian Williams in an interview that aired late Tuesday night on MSNBC.
Biden noted that one reason the convention has been scheduled for mid-July was to accommodate the Olympics, which had been scheduled to begin July 24. Given that the Summer Games have been postponed to next year, Biden raised the possibility that the DNC could postpone the convention, saying, “there is more time now.”
Washington Post, Wisconsin goes it alone, holding elections next week amid fears of infection and voting chaos, Amy Gardner, April 1, 2020. In Tuesday’s Wisconsin elections, more than 100 municipalities will not have enough poll workers to open a single voting location.
Tens of thousands of voters who have flooded election offices with mail-ballot requests in recent days are at risk of not receiving them on time. And Sally Cohen, an elderly woman with kidney disease and asthma who is self-isolating in her apartment in Madison, isn’t sure she’ll be able to vote at all because of a state law requiring a witness to sign her ballot envelope.
“I was just distraught this morning when I opened it and saw that you have to have a witness,” said Cohen, who is 77 and a retired paralegal. “I thought, ‘I just can’t do it.’ They suggested having the mailman look through the picture window, but I’m on the third floor, so that won’t work.”
Across Wisconsin, voters, election officials and civil rights leaders are angry that the state legislature is going forward with the April 7 presidential primary and local elections even as the coronavirus continues its march across the country. The public-health risk is too high, and asking voters to venture out of their homes directly contradicts state and local emergency orders to shelter in place, they say.
In a nearly three-hour telephone hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William M. Conley told lawyers that he was disinclined to postpone the election without evidence that hundreds of thousands would see their voting rights curtailed — evidence that won’t be available until Election Day, he said.
At the same time, Conley rebuked lawyers for the Republican-controlled General Assembly, making clear that lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers (D) are the ones who should have canceled the April 7 contests.
FiveThirtyEight, Analysis: So … About That Supposed Lack Of Enthusiasm For Biden? Staff chat transcription, April 1, 2020. Over the weekend, an ABC/Washington Post poll found that most Democrats now back former Vice President Joe Biden, but enthusiasm for his candidacy was, on the other hand, pretty lackluster.
Just 24 percent of his supporters said they were “very” enthusiastic about supporting him. This marked the lowest level of enthusiasm for a Democratic presidential candidate that ABC/Washington Post has found in the last 20 years. And perhaps even more troubling for Biden was that nearly twice as many of President Trump’s supporters (53 percent) said they were “very” enthusiastic about his candidacy.
So does Biden have an enthusiasm problem? What’s the case for why he might and the case for why we shouldn’t read too much into this now?
Nathaniel Rakich, elections analyst: I don’t think this is something Biden should worry about, at least not right now. We’ve just come off a knock-down, drag-out, 15-month-long primary fight. And some would argue it’s still going on, with Sen. Bernie Sanders still contesting the nomination!
It’s a lot to ask for the party to be totally united at this early juncture. I’d guess that, by September, Biden will have as good or better enthusiasm numbers as Clinton did in September 2016.
Nate Silver, editor in chief: It feels so quaint to be debating a horse-race question in the middle of a pandemic. But basically: I don’t think enthusiasm is a terribly meaningful indicator above and beyond what is already reflected in polls.
Sanders’s voters were more enthusiastic than Biden’s in the primaries. But he’s actually tended to underperform his polls. Sometimes higher enthusiasm means you have a narrower base, and the other candidate has more room to turn out undecideds, etc.
Washington Post, Media and style analysis: Sanders and Biden have been courting voters virtually, and it’s not going well, Robin Givhan, April 1, 2020. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are still campaigning for president — sporadically, virtually and badly.
Oh yes. They have been impressively awful.
But they must press on with their low-budget online backslapping and live-streamed speechifying if they want to connect with voters over the coming weeks and, perhaps, months. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee and Sanders, the long-shot candidate who will not stand down, must rely on long-distance campaigning to squeak out their message in a news cycle consumed with updates on the covid-19 outbreak and a terrifying economy.
They must get good at being authentic and engaging from their sofa, which is not as easy as all those Instagram influencers and YouTube stars make it seem.
Live-streaming from your house is not the same thing as settling into a prime block on cable news where the professionals make sure your microphone is working, the lighting is flattering and you don’t look like you just wandered in from a crypt. And while the TV time constraints may be frustrating, they also have the benefit of forcing guests to stay out of the weeds and get to their point.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Whoopi Goldberg just destroyed Bernie Sanders to his face for refusing to drop out of a race that he’s lost, Bill Palmer, April 1, 2020. America is in the midst of a pandemic, Donald Trump is in the midst of a murder spree, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is the only one who can defeat him in November, and yet Bernie Sanders is still running a divisive and dishonest campaign in a primary race that he’s already lost in a blowout.
When Bernie Sanders appeared on The View today and made false claims about how he somehow still has a path to victory in a primary race that stopped being competitive several weeks ago, Whoopi Goldberg blew him up for it:
Whoopi Goldberg asking the tough and necessary questions on @TheView pic.twitter.com/5nGCXeLxAf
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 1, 2020
It’s becoming more clear by the day that Bernie Sanders is only in this for himself. He lost, badly, and yet he’s not enough of a responsible adult to drop out and endorse the Democratic nominee. Sanders is instead trying to force people to put their lives at risk by going out to vote in a primary race that’s already over, during a deadly pandemic. Sanders is also still raising money for a campaign that obviously doesn’t exist.
Sanders has unfortunately exposed himself as that rare combination of villain and idiot. If he truly cared about any of the progressive issues he claims to care about, he’d be working with Democratic nominee Joe Biden to make sure those policies happen once Biden is President. Instead, Bernie is casting those ideals aside and screwing over his own supporters because his insufferable ego requires that he keep pushing forward with an imaginary campaign in a race that’s over. Sanders has fully betrayed everything he’s ever claimed to care about.
New York Times, Why ‘Never Bernie’ Voters Won and ‘Never Trump’ Voters Lost, Astead W. Herndon, April 1, 2020. After Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire and Nevada, his campaign hit a roadblock: a wide range of Democrats who would do anything to stop him.
In phone interviews, dozens of Democrats, mostly aged 50 and over, who live in key March primary states like Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan and Florida, said that Mr. Biden’s appeal went beyond his case for beating President Trump. It was his chances of overtaking Mr. Sanders, the only candidate in the vast Democratic field they found objectionable for reasons personal and political.
Mr. Sanders, for his part, has explained his slide by blaming the Democratic establishment, the collection of party leaders leery of grass-roots candidates promising structural change.
But some of Mr. Sanders’s vulnerabilities were self-inflicted, and voter interviews and exit polls from states that held their primaries in March suggest that problems existed on the ground level.
New York Times, Unwitting Spreaders: 25% of Infected May Lack Symptoms, Apoorva Mandavilli, April 1, 2020 (print ed.). The C.D.C. director said that data about people who were infected but symptom-free could lead it to recommend broadened use of masks.
Washington Post, As coronavirus spreads, so do reports of companies mistreating workers, Christian Davenport, Abha Bhattarai and
Jena McGregor, April 1, 2020 (print ed.). From nurses to retail salespeople, employees are walking off the job and facing retribution for speaking out.
Since the viral pandemic started ravaging the country in recent weeks, workers, unions and attorneys are seeing a dramatic rise in cases they say illustrate a wave of bad employer behavior, forcing workers into conditions they fear are unsafe, withholding protective equipment and retaliating against those who speak up or walk out.
Washington Post, Navy to remove 2,700 sailors from aircraft carrier struggling with coronavirus in Guam, Dan Lamothe, April 1, 2020. The Navy plans to remove about 2,700 sailors from an aircraft carrier in Guam afflicted by the coronavirus, senior Navy officials said Wednesday, as government officials on the island worked to secure hotel rooms for many of them.
The move comes after a letter written by the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s captain, circulated in the news media, drew attention to the service’s response to the situation. The commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, wrote that “decisive action is required,” “sailors do not need to die” and that if the Navy didn’t act, it was “failing to properly to take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”
Acting Navy secretary Thomas B. Modly told reporters that nearly 1,000 sailors have left the ship so far for testing and quarantining. As of Wednesday, 93 sailors had tested positive, 593 tested negative, and 87 more were exhibiting symptoms associated with the virus, he said.
Washington Post, Protective gear in national stockpile is nearly depleted, DHS officials say, Nick Miroff, April 1, 2020. The government’s emergency stockpile of masks, gloves and other medical supplies is running low, leaving the Trump administration and states to compete for gear in a global marketplace rife with price-gouging, say Homeland Security officials.
Washington Post, Zaandam cruise ship still has no guaranteed port for sick passengers as Trump, Florida officials discuss plans, Hannah Sampson and Josh Dawsey, April 1, 2020 (print ed.). On Tuesday, authorities in Broward County, Fla. — where the cruise ship with four dead and two in dire need of medical attention hopes to dock this week — said a plan presented by owner Carnival Corp. does not yet address all their concerns.
A representative for the U.S. Coast Guard said the Zaandam and an accompanying ship would not be allowed to enter U.S. waters without submitting “a complete plan for self-support of the medical issues occurring on board the vessels.”
At a meeting Tuesday, Coast Guard Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian said a “unified command” — a group of local, state and federal agencies — was looking to get concerns addressed and reach unanimous consent for the ships to dock.
“If not, I think that’s a question for a broader audience at the national government level,” she said. President Trump said Tuesday evening that he will be speaking soon with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) about how to handle the Zaandam.
New York Times, 28 Texas Students Have Coronavirus After Spring Break Trip, David Montgomery and Manny Fernandez, April 1, 2020. A group of about 70 students from the University of Texas at Austin celebrated spring break in Mexico, but returned to find that 28 had tested positive.
The Austin outbreak is the latest to result from a group of college students who ignored social-distancing guidelines, went on traditional spring break trips and have now tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of them appeared to be under the mistaken impression that young people were not as vulnerable to the coronavirus as older people.
Students at the University of Tampa, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and other colleges have tested positive after returning from spring break trips to Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and elsewhere.
Washington Post, Fauci’s security is stepped up as doctor and face of U.S. virus response receives threats, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Devlin Barrett, April 1, 2020. Government officials have grown concerned about his safety as well as communications from fervent admirers. He is shown at right.
U.S. Markets, Economy, Jobs
New York Times, Business Updates: Stock Markets Dip, Staff reports, April 1, 2020. The S&P 500 fell nearly 4 percent as investors faced new projections of the potential scale and economic ramifications of the pandemic.
As the second month of the coronavirus outbreak begins, officials warn that the worst is yet to come. Stocks on Wall Street fell sharply on Wednesday, following a slump in global markets, as investors face new projections of the potential scale and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.
The S&P 500 fell more than 3 percent in early trading, extending its losses from March, which was the worst month for stocks since 2008. Stocks fell more than 12 percent last month and are down more than 20 percent this year.
Though the panic-driven, stomach-churning market volatility of recent weeks had subsided in recent days, numerous signs point to dire prospects
U.S. Courts, Crime
NBC News, Feds charge man who intentionally derailed train near USNS Mercy, Staff report, April 1, 2020. The suspect told investigators he wanted to bring attention to the government’s activities regarding COVID-19 and was suspicious of the hospital ship.
Prosecutors charged a locomotive engineer who worked at the Port of Los Angeles with intentionally derailing a train at full speed near the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Mercy because of suspicions over its activities surrounding COVID-19, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, California, was charged with one count under a little-known train-wrecking statute that carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in the Tuesday incident, according to the 10-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
After his arrest, Moreno was held overnight and subsequently turned over to FBI agents Wednesday morning. Moreno was expected to make an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors claim Moreno ran the train off the tracks, and it crashed through a series of barriers before coming to rest more than 250 yards from the Mercy in an incident that was captured on video.
Although the train leaked fuel oil, which required clean up by firefighters and other hazardous materials personnel, no one was hurt. A California Highway Patrol officer who witnessed the crash and took Moreno into custody told authorities he saw the train, used to haul shipping cargo, smash through a barrier at the end of the tracks before driving through several obstacles, including a steel barrier and chain-link fence, slide through one parking lot and another filled with gravel, and smash into a second chain-link fence, according to the affidavit.
Moreno, who waived his right to speak to an attorney before being interviewed by investigators, admitted in two post-arrest interviews that he intentionally ran the train off the track because he wanted to bring attention to the government’s activities regarding COVID-19 and was suspicious of the U.S.N.S. Mercy.
In his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno acknowledged he “did it,” saying he was suspicious of the Mercy and believed it had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover, the affidavit states.
Moreno also told investigators he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack. While admitting to intentionally derailing and crashing the train, he said he knew it would bring media attention and “people could see for themselves,” referring to the Mercy, according to the affidavit.
U.S. Supreme Court
Howe on the Court via SCOTUSblog, Courtroom access: The nuts and bolts of courtroom seating – and the lines for public access, Amy Howe, April 1, 2020. On an average argument day at the Supreme Court, there are 439 seats in the courtroom. Of those 439, only 50 – that is, just over 11 percent – are specifically set aside for members of the general public. The other 389 are divided among several different groups.
See sketch of the empty courtroom (Art Lien). The labels refers to: (A) justices’ bench, (B) clerk’s seats, (C) marshal’s seats, (D) arguing counsel tables, (E) press section, (F) justices’ box, (G) bar section and (H) public gallery. Overflow seats for press and the public are located between the columns on the left and behind the public gallery, and seats for court employees are located between the columns on the right.
The “public line”: The line to obtain one of the 50 public seats (the so-called “public line”) forms on the sidewalk in front of the court – on the right-hand side if you are facing the Supreme Court building, with the Capitol behind you across First Street. At around 7:30 on the morning of an argument, Supreme Court police officers begin to hand out at least 50, but sometimes more, tickets.
The press corps, the justices’ box and the clerks’ seats: On one side of the courtroom, perpendicular to the bench, 36 seats are allocated to members of the press. Across the courtroom on the other side, and also perpendicular to the bench, 37 seats are reserved for retired justices, the justices’ spouses and VIP guests (including Ivanka Trump and her daughter at one argument in 2017) and senior court officials. The justices’ law clerks have 27 seats in less desirable real estate farther back in the courtroom, on the same side as the justices’ box.