March 21, 2020

Week 175

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

This week the United States had the highest spread rate of the coronavirus of countries reporting, starting the week with roughly 2,500 cases, and ending the week fourth in the world with more than 22,000. Countries that had early testing available like South Korea saw their daily adds ebb to below 100, while daily growth in U.S. cases was close to 50%. Despite Trump’s promises last Friday for 1.4 million tests this week, a new Google testing website and drive-thru testing at retailers — none of it happened. Trump continued this week to hold daily press briefings in which he lied, spread disinformation, and attacked the media, while self-aggrandizing — resembling and replacing Trump’s campaign rallies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down another 17%, the worst week since October 2008, and hitting levels below where the market traded when Trump took office. Goldman Sachs estimated 2.25 million Americans filed for initial unemployment this week — a record — while the Trump regime asked states not to report their data, lest the stock market, 30% off its highs, would trade further down. Several banks said the U.S. economy was already in a recession, and projected the second quarter gross domestic product would fall double digits, some estimating a fall of more than 20%. The Senate reconvened this week, but finalized little as businesses small and large shut down, and the nation came to a standstill.

Amid fear and panic, Trump assured the country all was well and he had matters in control — blaming China for the “Chinese virus,” while blustering we are at war with an “invisible enemy” that he will defeat. Fox News sharply shifted its tone on the virus, but much of the country, which has not been impacted, viewed it as a problem for three blue states. Hospitals around the country — especially New York and California — sounded alarms about lack of masks and other surgical gear, as well as ventilators and ICU beds. Trump shifted his tone from promising states help to telling governors, “We’re not a shipping clerk” — you’re on your own.

  1. On Saturday, the White House physician announced in an evening statement that Trump tested negative for the coronavirus. The statement did not say if he will be retested.
  2. On Sunday, an NBC News/WSJ poll conducted last Wednesday through Friday found 99% heard about the coronavirus, and 60% think the worst is yet to come, while 31% say it is not a big problem — split along party lines.
  3. On Tuesday, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found 60% of Americans say they had not very much or no trust at all in what Trump is saying, while 37% have a good amount or a great deal of trust.
  4. Just 40% of Republicans view the coronavirus as a real threat, while 54% believe it is blown out of proportion. For Democrats 76% believe it is, 20% do not, and for Independents 50% believe it is, 41% do not.
  5. On Tuesday, a Pew Research survey looking back at impeachment found 46% say Trump did something wrong that warranted his removal, 28% say he did but not enough to warrant removal, 25% say he did nothing wrong.
  6. On Saturday, Spain followed Italy, imposing strict limits and telling citizens to stay inside with few exceptions. In France, cafes and restaurants were ordered to close, along with nonessential businesses.
  7. On Sunday, Begona Gomez, the wife of Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sanchez, tested positive for the coronavirus. The country had 6,391 infections and 191 deaths, second only to Italy in Europe.
  8. On Sunday, AFP reported at least five Brazilian officials who traveled with President Jair Bolsonaro on his U.S. visit have tested positive for the coronavirus, including lawyer Karina Kufa, and Senator Nelsinho Trad.
  9. On Saturday, in the evening, Chicago O’Hare airport had people waiting in packed crowds for hours for enhanced screening as Americans, including students, returned from Europe after Trump’s Oval Office speech edict.
  10. Both Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sharply criticized the federal government for having hundreds of people crammed together. Large crowds were also seen at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.
  11. On Saturday, in the late evening, Mayor Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken, New Jersey imposed strict nightly curfews from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., and directed all bars and restaurants to allow for delivery and take-out only.
  12. On Sunday, a former senior health systems analyst returning to the U.S. at Dulles Airport said in an op-ed it was “a case study in how not to handle a pandemic,” saying she spent three hours in a jammed immigration hall.
  13. On Sunday, WAPO reported with Trump’s fumbled coronavirus response, Americans have had no guidance, and have been left to figure out their own strategy using advice from public experts and other sources.
  14. Trump’s speeches and news conferences last week did not offer any clear directives. People have turned to neighbors, clergy, and parenting groups to decide whether to cancel events.
  15. A group of pastors in Arkansas met to decide on Sunday services. One said “half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus.” They did end up holding services, with some precautions.
  16. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told “Meet the Press” that Americans are “going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing” to flatten the curve and fight the outbreak of Covid-19.
  17. Ask if we should consider a 14 day shutdown like Europe, Fauci said, “I would prefer as much as we possibly could,” adding, “If you let the curve get up there, then the entire society is going to be hit.”
  18. On Sunday, Norway’s renowned University of Science and Technology issued a warning, telling students to return from “poor developed” countries amid the coronavirus, and singled out the U.S.
  19. On Sunday, CNBC reported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet scheduled a vote on the coronavirus relief bill passed in the House late Friday. McConnell said he “will need to carefully review” the bill.
  20. On Sunday, Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt, after facing a backlash Saturday for tweeting a photo of himself and his kids at a crowded restaurant and encouraging people to go out, declared a state of emergency.
  21. On Sunday, defying all health experts, Rep. Devin Nunes told Fox Business, “If you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to go out and go to a local restaurant…Let’s not hurt the working people in this country.”
  22. Trump also encouraged people to go out in crowds, quoting a tweet showing an image of a large gathering at the White House, and adding, “This took place in the Rose Garden, just coming out of a cold Winter!”
  23. Trump also complained about the “Fake News” not covering the ceremony. He also tweeted, “TODAY IS A NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER. GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”
  24. Trump also quoted a tweet from Judicial Watch about Hillary Clinton’s emails and Benghazi, and added, “Great Job by Judicial Watch. Potentially a treasure trove. Too bad you are not given more help.”
  25. Hours later, after criticism for packed crowds at airports, Trump tweeted, “We are doing very precise Medical Screenings at our airports. Pardon the interruptions and delays,” adding, “We must get it right. Safety first!”
  26. Trump also tweeted his false claim, “The USA was never set up for this, just look at the catastrophe of the H1N1 Swine Flu (Biden in charge..”, adding, “Great decision” to close our border to China, “Saved many lives!”
  27. Trump also tweeted about a 5 p.m. news conference, and added, “We are working closely with the Governors …which are a very big factor. They are working hard, along with us, to get the job properly done.”
  28. Notably, in an op-ed, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on Trump to mobilize the military to help by increasing hospital bed capacity, adding, “the time is growing short and fewer options are available.”
  29. Trump also tweeted, “Can’t believe they are not going after Schumer for the threats he made to our cherished United States Supreme Court,” adding, “If a Republican did that, there would be an endless price to pay.” Notably, Trump did do that.
  30. Trump also said he was considering a pardon for Michael Flynn, tweeting, “after destroying his life & the life of his wonderful family” the FBI has “lost” Flynn’s records, adding, “I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!”
  31. On Sunday, Nike announced it would close all its U.S. stores for two weeks. Numerous other retailers joined, including Patagonia, Warby Parker, Urban Outfitters, and more.
  32. On Sunday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would close all restaurants and bars starting at 9 p.m. New York City and Los Angeles also announced schools will close as of Monday.
  33. On Sunday, the governors of Massachusetts and Nevada also announced they would close all K-12 schools starting Monday. By day’s end 33 states had announced schools would close for a varying number of weeks.
  34. On Sunday, MGM temporarily closed its Las Vegas properties starting Tuesday. On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak closed all nonessential businesses, including casinos, for 30 days.
  35. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told “This Week” that despite forecasts of a slowdown, he does not think there will be a recession, adding that the market goes up and down.
  36. When asked about Trump’s error-laden Oval Office speech, Mnuchin said, “I don’t think he got things wrong at all,” adding, “people misinterpreted” Trump’s comment on cargo, which the White House later corrected.
  37. When asked about the Federal Reserve’s response and Trump’s tweets calling it “pathetic,” Mnuchin said, “I speak to Jay Powell now almost every single day,” so it would not be appropriate for him to comment.
  38. Later Sunday, the Federal Reserve announced it is dropping its benchmark interest rate to zero, and launched a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effect of the coronavirus.
  39. Minutes later, Trump held a White House press conference. He started off saying, “It makes me very happy and I want to congratulate the Federal Reserve,” and “I think that people in the market should be very thrilled.”
  40. Trump said he spoke to CEOs of grocery store chains, as shelves have been emptied, and said to Americans, “You don’t have to buy so much,” adding, “Take it easy. Relax.” So far there were 3,300 cases and 61 deaths in the U.S.
  41. Trump also claimed, “Young people, people of good health, and groups of people, just are not strongly affected.” Earlier today, Dr. Fauci said to young people, “You are not immune or safe from getting seriously ill.”
  42. As Trump spoke and after, the Dow Jones futures fell more than 600 points, at one point down as much as 800 points, triggering the “limit down” trigger to halt trading.
  43. Shortly after, acting Department of Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf said the regime is considering all options, including a domestic air travel ban — the first time since 9/11 — amid complaints about crowds in airports.
  44. Later Sunday, the CDC announced new guidelines, saying gatherings of 50 or more people should be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  45. On Monday, the International Monetary Fund announced it “stands ready” to use its $1 trillion lending capacity to help countries struggling with the humanitarian and economic impact of the coronavirus.
  46. On Monday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said she was proposing a temporary shutdown of all nonessential travel into the bloc for 30 days.
  47. On Monday, NYT reported amid the coronavirus crisis, the culture fostered by Trump has led to a regime that is plagued by turf wars and infighting. Trump has been racked by indecision and is quick to blame others.
  48. Trump sees the public health crisis through the lens of the media coverage and the stock market performance. Trump views each crisis as a public relations problems, and views each day as an episode on a television show.
  49. Trump dismissed repeated warnings to bring in more experts, or to give less power to Jared Kushner. Without a pandemic team on the National Security Council, responsibility fell on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former drug executive.
  50. Kushner was deeply involved in Trump’s error-ridden Oval Office speech and selling Trump on saying Google had developed a website that did not exist. Trump was reportedly raging by Sunday night over media coverage.
  51. On Monday, Vanity Fair reported over the weekend, with the markets in free fall and positive tests for people at Mar-a-Lago, Trump finally awoke to the dangers of the outbreak, and the magnitude of what is going on.
  52. Trump was also concerned that the National Football League might preemptively follow the NBA and NHL and cancel its season. Trump called the NFL owners and begged them not to cancel.
  53. Reportedly the principal target of Trump’s anger is Kushner, who advised him to treat the emergency as a public relations problem, while others like Fauci were calling for aggressive action.
  54. On Monday, NYT reported according to a recording obtained, Trump told governors on a Monday morning call that they are on their own, saying, “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves.”
  55. On Monday, major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco ordered restaurants, bars, and cinemas to close to the public. Restaurants were permitted to do takeout business.
  56. On Monday, citing “a lack of federal direction,” the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut closed movie theaters, gyms, and other places of gathering of 50 or more. Restaurants can only do take out or delivery.
  57. Shortly after, Trump tweeted “had a very good tele-conference” with governors and added, “Cuomo of New York has to “do more”.” Cuomo responded, “No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.”
  58. On Monday, 33 states closed K-12 schools — an unprecedented number — impacting millions of kids, in a move educators said is likely to have major and long-lasting implications for the country’s K-12 education system.
  59. On Monday, the federal government directed its 2.1 million employees to work from home, after a week of confusion as some were told to report to work even as public health officials implored people to work from home.
  60. On Monday, at a press briefing, Trump issued new guidelines, calling for closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants, and food courts for 15 days.
  61. Trump said, “It seems to me if we do a really good job, we’ll not only hold the death down to a level that’s much lower than the other way had we not done a good job,” adding, “people are talking about July, August.”
  62. Trump added, “If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together.”
  63. When asked about the Google website, Trump said, “They’re working hand in hand,” and “I think they’re doing really a great job.” Asked to rank his performance during the crisis a rating he said, “I’d rate it a 10.”
  64. On Monday, WAPO reported on a sharp shift in tone by Fox News personalities, after weeks of downplaying the threat of the coronavirus and casting it as a conspiracy against Trump.
  65. There was a massive paradigm shift over the weekend. Personalities like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pirro, and “Fox & Friends” co-hosts suddenly are calling the virus a “crisis” and telling people to stay home.
  66. On Monday, NYT reported that McConnell and other GOP senators are reaching out to Republican-nominated federal judges who are eligible to retire, and asking them to quit so Republicans can pick their replacement.
  67. On Monday, the Supreme Court postponed arguments due to the coronavirus. The court was set to hear the case over whether the Manhattan DA and the House can subpoena Trump’s financial records.
  68. On Monday, the Justice Department dropped charges against two Russian firms, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, that were indicted in the Mueller probe of financing schemes to interfere in the 2016 election.
  69. The DOJ rationale was that the companies were exploiting the case to gain access to delicate information that Russia could weaponize. The trial was set to start next month. The court granted the motion to dismiss.
  70. On Monday, in a highly-choreographed display of political theater, Russia’s highest court approved constitutional changes which will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.
  71. On Sunday, the Welt am Sonntag German newspaper reported Trump tried to lure a German firm, CureVac, which is developing a coronavirus vaccine, to relocate to the U.S. and produce exclusively for the U.S.
  72. CureVac’s main investor Dietmar Hopp responded, saying he was not selling and wanted the firm to develop a vaccine to “help people not just regionally but in solidarity across the world.”
  73. On Monday, WAPO reported a Berlin-based company shipped 1.4 million coronavirus tests to the World Health Organization by the end of February. The WHO shipped 250,000 by Feb 3. Trump declined the offer to take any.
  74. From mid-January to February 28, the Centers for Disease Control produced 160,000 tests but fewer than 4,000 were used. The government did not reach out to academia or private companies during this time.
  75. The CDC has not explained the nature of the manufacturing problem. Germany has had just 17 deaths from more than 7,200 case (a 0.23% mortality rate), the U.S. had 85 deaths and over 4,600 cases (1.82%).
  76. On Monday, Amazon announced it would hire an additional new 100,000 employees in order to meet the demand for shipments. On Tuesday, the company suspended shipments of nonessential items in order to keep up.
  77. On Monday, the Dow Jones dropped 3,000 points, or 12.9%, despite the rate cut, suffering its worst day since the “Black Monday” market crash in 1987, and its third-worst day ever. The S&P 500 dropped 12%.
  78. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve announced another $500 billion operation for overnight repo to help fund the markets. The move comes on top of $1.5 trillion announced last week.
  79. On Tuesday, New York announced cases had soared to 1,374 with 432 new cases and 19% of cases hospitalized. NY has conducted more than 10,000 tests. Gov. Cuomo said the state will need at least 55,000 hospital beds.
  80. On Sunday, Georgia became the second state to postpone its presidential primary over the coronavirus. In-person voting that started March 2 will be halted, and the election will be moved to May 19.
  81. On Sunday, Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order modifying election procedures in New York, suspending the candidate petitioning process and lowering the threshold signatures required by 30%.
  82. Late Monday, Ohio’s Republican Gov. DeWine ordered the state’s primary polling places to be closed on Tuesday due to the coronavirus, after a judge hours earlier rejected a lawsuit to delay the primary to June.
  83. Judge Richard Frye had ruled at 6:30 p.m. that delaying the primary 12 hours before voting was scheduled to begin would set a “terrible precedent.” The other three states moved ahead with their primaries.
  84. On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state would postpone its April 28 primary to June 2 over the coronavirus.
  85. On Tuesday, Trump attacked Cuomo, tweeting, “Cuomo wants ‘all states to be treated the same…Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus,” adding, “New York is a very big ‘hotspot’, West Virginia has…zero cases.”
  86. On Tuesday, an OpenTable analysis of restaurant traffic showed overall traffic down 56% across the U.S., with drops of 77% in New York City, 81% in Boston, 82% in Los Angeles, and 75% in Chicago.
  87. Late Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the number of confirmed cases in the city rose to 923 from 644 this morning. There have been 10 deaths in NYC.
  88. On Tuesday, seven million living in the San Francisco Bay area were ordered to shelter in place, the most ambitious measure taken yet to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Silicon Valley alone has had 200 cases.
  89. On Tuesday, the death toll from the coronavirus passed 100, with more than 5,600 confirmed cases of in all 50 states, West Virginia being the last. About half the deaths were in Washington linked to the nursing home.
  90. On Tuesday, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services received 45,000 unemployment claims this week, up from 6,500 last week. New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut also reported a surge in claims.
  91. On Tuesday, at a White House press briefing, Trump reversed course and claimed, “This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” This is false. For two months Trump said the opposite.
  92. A more somber Trump also said, “We’re starting the process … We hope it’s not going to be necessary, but it could be necessary,” and, “The state is working on it very hard themselves,” hours after attacking Cuomo.
  93. Trump said of Fauci, he has “become a major television star.” Fauci had successfully been able to maintain credibility and inform the public without contradicting Trump. He did not appear Wednesday or Thursday.
  94. Treasury Department Secretary Mnuchin said the regime was “looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” and that the stock market will remain open, but that hours may be shortened.
  95. On Tuesday, Mnuchin pitched a $850 billion stimulus package to the Senate Republicans at a private lunch. In Week 173, Trump asked Congress for $2.5 billion and then accepted $8.5 billion in aid.
  96. Mnuchin warned senators that without a dramatic government intervention, unemployment could rise to 20%. Mnuchin also said Trump had asked for deferment of tax payments of up to $1 million for 90 days.
  97. At the press briefing earlier, Trump said, “We want to go big,” saying he had instructed Mnuchin to introduce measures that would provide immediate funds to Americans, not just a payroll tax.
  98. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference. He referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan Virus” six times.
  99. On Monday, Trump limited the number of Chinese staffers who work for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations who can work in the U.S. to 100, as tensions escalated between Washington and Beijing.
  100. On Tuesday, in response to Trump limiting the Chinese news organization staffers, the Chinese government announced it would expel American journalists working for NYT, WSJ, and WAPO.
  101. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also demanded those outlets, along with Voice of America and Time magazine, provide the Chinese government with detailed information about their operations.
  102. On Tuesday, Reuters reported UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled much more stringent measures after a study by Imperial College, and led by Professor Neil Ferguson, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases.
  103. The study’s findings included that if no action is taken against the virus, it would caused 510,000 deaths in Britain and 2.2 million in the U.S. The epidemic was expected to be broader in the U.S. and peak later.
  104. On Tuesday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ordered all K-12 schools in the state closed for the rest of the school year, the first state to do so. Kelly also ordered executive branch employees to stay home for two weeks.
  105. On Tuesday, after winning the Democratic primaries in Florida and Illinois decisively, Joe Biden addressed the country on live stream — a first. He later won Arizona as well. Ohio did not hold its primary.
  106. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump is finally starting to enlist government agencies like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to help with the coronavirus. As of Monday, the agencies said they had no directions.
  107. The movement came after an internal report by DHS which found the “pandemic will last 18 months or longer” and will likely cause “significant shortages for government, private sector, and individual U.S. consumers.”
  108. On Tuesday, NYT reported the U.S. lags behind other countries in testing: through March 12, the U.S. had tested just 25,000 specimens, while Italy tested 134,000 and South Korea tested 274,00.
  109. The U.S. has tested just 125 people per million, the lowest of any developed country, including the U.K. (roughly 600), Australia (roughly 1,800), Italy (roughly 2,200), and South Korea (roughly 5,300).
  110. On Tuesday, WBUR reported Massachusetts hospitals are running short on supplies, and are asking for donations for items like safety goggles and other protective gear used in places like chemistry labs or woodshops.
  111. On Wednesday, the number of worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 200,000, more than doubling in two weeks. The virus has spread to most countries, and killed more than 8,000. China peaked at 81,000.
  112. On Wednesday, Reuters reported according to a European Union document, Russian media has deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to generate panic and sow distrust.
  113. On Wednesday, Reuters reported National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien will travel to attend Russia’s May 9 Victory Day. In Week 173, Russia state-media reported Trump canceled his scheduled trip for this event.
  114. On Wednesday, Dow Jones reported the Treasury is proposing two rounds of direct payments to citizens, totaling $250 billion, starting April 6. The market halted during the day, hitting circuit breakers.
  115. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China.”
  116. Trump also predicted Bernie Sanders would drop out, tweeting, “The DNC will have gotten their fondest wish and defeated Bernie Sander,” adding, “Bernie has given up, just like he did last time…MAGA/KAG”
  117. Trump also falsely claimed, “95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, 53% overall” — no such polling numbers exist. He added, “according to the Daily Caller, leading Sleepy Joe Biden in Florida, 48% to 42%.”
  118. Trump also complained he gets “nothing but Fake & Corrupt News, day and night: “Russia, Russia, Russia”, then “the Ukraine Scam (where’s the Whistleblower?)”, the “Impeachment Hoax”, and more, more, more.”
  119. Trump also tweeted “by mutual consent” the U.S. temporarily closed it border with Canada “to non-essential traffic,” adding, “Trade will not be affected.” Canada had already closed its border to most foreigners.
  120. On Wednesday, CNBC reported that Big Three automotive manufacturers General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler plan to close all their U.S. factories due to the coronavirus.
  121. On Wednesday, the price of oil fell 24% to an 18-year low, as the coronavirus sapped global demand for crude with rising fears of a global recession.
  122. On Wednesday, famous hedge fund manager Bill Ackman urged Trump to shut the country down for 30 days to stop the spread of the coronavirus, saying, “America will end as we know it,” and “hell is coming.”
  123. On Wednesday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, a law that authorizes presidents to force American industry to ramp up production of equipment needed for national security, saying, “just in case we need it.”
  124. The law could force factories to produce needed medical supplies, such as ventilators, respirators, and protective gear for health care workers. Trump also moved to send military hospital ships to the West Coast and New York.
  125. Trump said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was activated at the highest level, and that he directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to place a temporary moratorium on evictions.
  126. Trump also said the regime will use legal authority granted to the surgeon general to deport migrants who cross the southwest border illegally without giving them due process, starting “probably today.”
  127. Trump said he viewed himself as a “wartime president,” adding, “I mean, that’s what we’re fighting. I mean, it’s a very tough situation here,” and saying prior to the coronavirus it was “the best economy we’ve ever had.”
  128. Trump continued throughout the briefing to refer to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus.” He brushing aside criticisms that the term was racist, or could fuel bias attacks against Asian-Americans. “It’s not racist at all.”
  129. When asked if it was “wrong” for a White House official to say “Kung-Flu” to CBS reporter Weijia Jiang on Tuesday, Trump said he believes Asian-Americans agree “100 percent” with him using the term “Chinese Virus.”
  130. Asked why it took so long on ventilators when we have known for weeks, Trump said, “Well we knew — it depends, it depends on how it goes, worst case, absolutely, best case, not at all,” and “these are complex machines.”
  131. Dr. Deborah Birx called on millennials to avoid large crowds of people, saying data from Europe showed the group has a “disproportional number of infections” compared with older people who are at greater health risk.
  132. On Wednesday, the U.S. Navy Hospital ships were set to deploy to New York and California. NPR reported the USNS Comfort could take weeks to prepare for assignment in New York.
  133. On Wednesday, the Dow dropped 1,338 points or 6.3% to 19,899 — below the level when Trump took office. Stocks came off their lows when the Senate finally passed the coronavirus relief package.
  134. On Wednesday, the New York Stock Exchange said it would close its historic trading floor starting March 23 and move fully to electronic trading, after two people tested positive at the screening it set up this week.
  135. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed its trading floor as of last Friday as a precaution over the coronavirus outbreak, the first major exchange to do so.
  136. On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau suspended its field operations for two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. The bureau is looking to hire 500,000 workers for the 2020 census. So far it has added 31,000 workers.
  137. On Wednesday, the first two members of Congress tested positive for the coronavirus, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a ninth-term Florida Republican, and Rep. Ben McAdams, a freshman Democrat from Utah.
  138. The two had voted on the House floor as recently as Saturday. At least five other members of Congress said Wednesday evening that they would self-quarantine, having been exposed to the two members.
  139. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that although South Korea and the U.S. had their first coronavirus cases at the same time, South Korea took immediate action in late January to approve a diagnostic test and start mass testing.
  140. Seven weeks in, South Korea had tested 290,000 and identified roughly 8,000 who were quarantined to stop the spread. The U.S. tested 60,000 over that time. On Wednesday, South Korea reported only 93 new cases.
  141. On Wednesday, the Daily News reported an inmate at Rikers Island had contracted the coronavirus. Mayor De Blasio is considering releasing those who are high risk. Iran released 85,000 prisoners on Tuesday.
  142. On Wednesday, a CDC report found of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized, 38% were between the ages of 20 and 54, although the risk of death was significantly higher for older people.
  143. On Wednesday, more than 100 national security professionals broke from tradition and endorsed Joe Biden for 2020, saying in an online letter that Trump “has created an existential danger to the United States.”
  144. Signatories included career diplomats, intelligence officers, and defense policymakers from both parties. The letter added, “His reelection would continue this downward spiral and will likely have catastrophic results.”
  145. On Wednesday, Brazil’s National Security Advisor Augusto Helano said he had tested positive for the coronavirus, the 15th member of President Bolsonaro’s U.S. delegation to do so. All 15 met with Trump and Pence.
  146. On Wednesday, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld dropped out of the Republican presidential primary, leaving Trump unopposed. On Thursday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard dropped out the Democratic primary.
  147. On Thursday, as the number of cases passed 9,500 and 159 deaths, and the U.S. surpassed both South Korea and France in total cases, just 82,000 Americans had been tested. South Korea was testing 15,000 per day.
  148. On Thursday, the NYT Editorial Board wrote on “the epic failure of coronavirus testing in America,” noting China and South Korea offer lessons on how to curb the outbreak through testing.
  149. While the WHO suggested testing to find and isolate, in the U.S. with less testing available, Americans are being told if you feel sick stay home, even those who live with people who are high risk or severely ill.
  150. The lack of testing is a result of a string of failures at the White House, CDC, and FDA which have “led to intractable delays in making diagnostic tests for coronavirus widely available in the United States.”
  151. On Thursday, CNN reported that Trump’s promises made last Friday, including a Google get-tested website, drive-thru locations in chain store parking lots, and 1.4 million test kits have not turned out to be true.
  152. On Thursday, the number of cases in New York jumped from 3,000 on Wednesday to 5,200 as Cuomo said more 7,500 were tested overnight. At least 750 were hospitalized and there were 29 deaths.
  153. Cuomo exhorted the federal government for help finding protective equipment and ventilators, saying, “Every state is shopping for ventilators,” and the state will require five or six times its current supplies.
  154. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called on Trump in a statement to “immediately use the powers of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to mass produce and coordinate distribution of these critical supplies.”
  155. On Thursday, Trump again blamed China at the daily news briefing, saying, “We continue our relentless effort to defeat the Chinese virus,” and, “some people would say it’s an act of God. I don’t,” claiming China could have stopped it.
  156. Trump added, “now the whole world almost is inflicted with this horrible virus.” When asked about China saying it reported no new cases today, Trump said, “I hope it’s true. Who knows? But I hope it’s true, I really do.”
  157. A close up photo taken of Trump’s notes during the briefing taken by a WAPO photographer showed Trump crossed out the word “corona” and wrote “Chinese” over it with a black sharpie.
  158. When asked about invoking the DPA immediately, Trump said governors are on their own: “The Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items,” adding, “we’re not a shipping clerk.”
  159. Trump took a question from far-right cable news One America News: “do you consider the term ‘Chinese food’ to be racist because it is food that originated from China?” Trump said, “I don’t think that’s racist at all.”
  160. The OAN reporter then added, “On that note, major left-wing media, even in this room, have teamed up with Chinese communist party narratives, and they are claiming you are racist for making these claims.”
  161. Trump responded, “It amazes me when I read the things that I read. I don’t think anybody has done as much as I have done in three years,” adding, “This administration has done a great job. But the press is very dishonest.”
  162. Trump also said to the reporters, “We were very prepared. The only thing we weren’t prepared for was the media,” adding, “We should get rid of about 75 or 80 percent of you. There’s only two or three of you I like.”
  163. Trump also said, “I’ve directed the FDA to eliminate outdated rules and bureaucracy,” to fast-track possible treatments, including chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, calling it a potential “game-changer.”
  164. Trump added, “It has shown very, very encouraging early results, and will be available “almost immediately,” adding, “that is where the FDA has been so great. It’s gone through the approval process. It’s been approved.”
  165. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, speaking after Trump, said the FDA has not approved chloroquine for Covid-19 use, saying there is not enough evidence of definite efficacy against the virus.
  166. Shortly after, Trump sent a series of tweets, saying, “I want all Americans to understand: we are at war with an invisible enemy, but that enemy is no match for the spirit and resolve of the American people.”
  167. Trump added, “Today I spoke with American physicians and nurses to thank them,” saying, they “are at the front lines of this war and are true American HEROES!” and adding, “With their help, America will WIN.”
  168. On Thursday, Trump released a series of coronavirus PSAs on his Twitter feed, including appearances from First Lady Melania, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Birx and Fauci, and an opening PSA featuring him.
  169. In one, the first lady reassuringly smiles, saying, “this is not how we’ll live forever. Our children will return to school, people will return to work, we will gather at the places of worship, concerts, and sporting events again.”
  170. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “We are going to WIN, sooner rather than later!
  171. On Thursday, WAPO reported in what insiders say is another Trump purge of career officials, Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was removed on Wednesday.
  172. Travers’ acting deputy, Peter Hall, was also removed. Travers, who took the acting position last August, had been resistant to pressure to make personnel cuts at the center.
  173. On Thursday, Trump canceled the G7 Summit of world leaders scheduled to take place at Camp David in June, and said it will take place by teleconference instead.
  174. On Thursday, the State Department issued a warning to Americans not to travel aboard during the pandemic, and said citizens abroad should return back immediately or make preparations to remain abroad indefinitely.
  175. The advisory added Americans should “have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. government for assistance.” The agency raised its travel advisory for all international travel from 3 to 4, the most serious category.
  176. Later Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a letter to Trump that he estimates 25.5 million residents, 56% of the state, will get the coronavirus in the next eight weeks.
  177. Newsom asked Trump to dispatch the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to a port in Los Angeles through September 1. The state had 971 confirmed cases on Thursday, third behind New York and Washington.
  178. Newsom also issued a stay-at-home order for all 40 million people in the state. The order allows people to visit family members in need, and for critical businesses like pharmacies, banks, and grocery stores to stay open.
  179. On Thursday, there were 242,000 cases with 9,800 dead globally. In the U.S. there were more than 13,000 cases and 176 dead as of the early evening. At 5:00 p.m., New York City had 3,615 cases.
  180. On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee asked the Trump regime for documents on its response to the coronavirus, including how it plans to produce and distribute coronavirus testing kits.
  181. On Thursday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported the entire Georgia state legislature was urged to self-quarantine after Brandon Beach, who voted on the floor Monday, got a positive result from a test taken Saturday.
  182. On Thursday NPR reported that according to a secret recording they obtained, Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr gave a dire warning at a private luncheon on Capitol Hill on February 27, the same day Trump was playing down fears.
  183. Trump said, “It’s going to disappear. One day, It’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” of the 15 confirmed cases. Burr said, “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” The Senate was briefed on February 25.
  184. On Thursday, ProPublica reported that Burr sold off a significant percentage of his stocks on February 13, around the time his panel got coronavirus briefings.
  185. Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings in 33 transactions, about a week before the stock market fell 30% as news about the spread of the virus became public.
  186. Shortly after, Daily Beast reported Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the senate’s newest member and part of the Senate Health Committee, sold millions in stock in the days and weeks after the private briefings.
  187. Loeffler’s first sale jointly owned by her and her husband was on January 24, the day her panel hosted an all-senator briefing. She tweeted that day, “Appreciate today’s briefing from the President’s top health officials.”
  188. In total, she and her husband made 27 stock sales, and two buys. One purchase was of a technology company that offers teleworking software, and saw a small bump in price due to Americans working from home.
  189. On Friday, the number of worldwide cases topped 250,000. The World Health Organization noted it took more than three months to reach 100,000 cases worldwide — but only 12 days to log the next 100,000.
  190. On Friday, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll found 55% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, 43% disapprove. Also, 72% said their life had been disrupted in some way. The poll sample size was 512.
  191. On Friday, American Research Group found 41% approve of Trump’s handling, 55% disapprove. The poll found overall approval at 35%, 62% disapprove, down from 37%/59% in February. The sample was 1,100.
  192. On Friday, Goldman Sachs predicted next week’s unemployment report will show 2.25 million filed for their initial unemployment benefits this week, eight times higher than last week and the highest on record.
  193. On Friday, the Trump regime asked states to delay releasing their unemployment claim data for next week, out of the concern of its impact on the markets.
  194. On Friday, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll found just 2 in 5 Americans canceled plans last week to attend large gatherings as the pandemic escalated.
  195. Four in ten Americans planned to travel in the next three months. So far, 51% are planning to still travel, 27% are considering still going, and just 22% have canceled.
  196. On Friday, Sec. Mnuchin announced on Twitter that the Internal Revenue Service had extended the tax filing date from April 15 to July 15.
  197. On Friday, Gov. Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to keep 100% of their workforce at home, saying, “When I talk about the most drastic action we can take, this is the most drastic action we can take,” adding, “We’re all in quarantine now.”
  198. Cuomo said cases in New York surged by 2,950 overnight to 7,102, as the state did an 10,000 more tests and 32,000 overall, and has tested at a higher per capita rate than South Korea and China. The U.S. has tested 111,000.
  199. On Friday, at his daily press briefing, Trump said, “Once this enemy is defeated, our economy will bounce back quickly!” — a phrase that was then tweeted by his 2020 campaign’s social media accounts.
  200. Trump continued his xenophobic attacks, saying, “Every week, our border agents encounter thousands of unscreened, unvetted, and unauthorized entries from dozens of countries,” adding now he is doing something.
  201. Acting DHS director Wolf said the regime would limit nonessential travel between the U.S. and Mexico. Unlike a similar move with Canada, Wolf said the move would block migrants from entering. Mexico has 200 coronavirus cases.
  202. Trump said he invoked the Defense Production Act “to the highest level of activist,” adding, “if you take a look at what we did, the level of activation has been increased to a grade one level, which is the highest level.”
  203. Pompeo spoke and said the regime will not offer Iran sanction relief, after Iran’s health ministry tweeted one person dies from coronavirus every 10 minutes. He also said Russia, China, and Iran are spreading disinformation.
  204. When Pompeo was done speaking, Trump mused he could now return to the “Deep State Department.” Fauci, who returned to a daily briefing for the first time in three days, could be seen covering his face with his palm.
  205. When Fauci was asked if chloroquine is a ‘game changer’ as Trump said, while standing next to Trump, Fauci responded, “the answer is no” because “the evidence…is anecdotal evidence.”
  206. Fauci added, “It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.” Trump chimed in, repeating it is a “game changer,” and adding, “We have millions of units ordered.”
  207. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer attended the briefing as a reporter for Newsmax. Trump called on Spicer, saying, “Yeah please, in the back?” Spicer gave Trump a softball question on helping small businesses.
  208. NBC News reporter Peter Alexander got into a heated exchange with Trump, asking if he was giving Americans “false hope” by promoting unproven drugs. He said thousands are infected and millions are scared.
  209. Alexander followed up, “What do you say to Americans who are scared?” Trump snapped, “I say that you are a terrible reporter. That’s what I say,” calling it a “nasty question,” and saying, “You’re doing sensationalism.”
  210. Trump continued, assailing the media, saying, “And the same with NBC and Comcast. I don’t call it Comcast. I call it ‘Con-Cast,’” adding, “Let me just tell you something. That’s really bad reporting.”
  211. When a CNN reporter asked if we should come together, and if it was appropriate to attack Alexander, Trump said he is “not a good journalist” and “coming together is much harder when we have dishonest journalists.”
  212. On Friday, the Dow Jones tumbled 913 points, or 4%, after being up 400 during the day. The Dow dropped 17% for the week, the biggest drop since October 2008.
  213. On Friday, Connecticut and Illinois joined California and New York in telling all nonessential workers to stay at home. By later in the day, there were more than 18,000 cases and at least 242 people in the U.S. had died.
  214. On Friday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City announced it would make all local buses free during the pandemic, in order to keep drivers and riders a safe distance apart.
  215. On Friday, the LA Times reported the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised doctors to only administer a coronavirus test on patients if a positive result could change how they would be treated.
  216. The lack of available testing will drastically reduce the chances of isolating people who have been exposed, and thereby containing the outbreak. California had reported just over 1,100 cases by Friday.
  217. Later Friday, New York City also moved to curtail testing, days after the mayor said the city would test 5,000 per day. An advisory said, “Outpatient testing must not be encouraged, promoted or advertised.”
  218. On Friday, WSJ reported on shortages in New York City hospitals: doctors wearing the same masks for as long as a week, emergency-room physicians reusing gowns, and a dwindling supply of ventilators.
  219. State officials say the peak is a month and half away. A doctor in the largest New York hospital system said, “We’re getting pounded,” adding, “I’ve been in ICU care for 15 years, and this is the worst I have ever seen things.”
  220. On Friday, Dr. Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical Association, the largest association of physicians, called the shortages of protective gear for health care workers “unacceptable.”
  221. The AMA joined the American Hospital Association and American Nursing Association in asking Congress for $100 billion in financial assistance, saying with the patient influx, some hospitals are losing $1 million a day.
  222. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump’s DHS ran a series of exercises from last January to August, code-named “Crimson Contagion” and simulating an influenza pandemic. A report was issued in October 2019.
  223. The report, which said “not to be disclosed,” found the federal government was underfunded and underprepared, and agencies uncoordinated for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed.
  224. Congress was also briefed on some of the findings in December, including the inability to quickly replenish certain medical supplies, much of which was purchased from overseas. No action was taken in Congress.
  225. On February 10, three weeks after the first U.S. coronavirus case, Trump submitted a 2021 budget calling for a 9% or $693.3 million decrease in CDC funding, along with a small increase for combating global pandemics.
  226. On Friday, WAPO reported U.S. intelligence agencies issued ominous, classified warnings in January and February to Trump and lawmakers, tracking the spread of the coronavirus in China and other countries.
  227. Despite the constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat of the virus to Americans. Lawmakers did not grapple with the threat of virus until this month.
  228. By the end of January and early February, a majority of intelligence daily briefings from the CIA and office of the Director of National Intelligence were focused on the subject of Covid-19. Notably, Sen. Burr sold stock at this time.
  229. One official said, “Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” adding, “The system was blinking red.”
  230. On Saturday, in the morning, there were more than 275,000 cases globally and at least 11,400 deaths. The U.S. had 19,624 cases in the morning and 260 had died.
  231. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers.” This statement is false.
  232. Trump added, “The FDA has moved mountains — Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH” will “be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”
  233. On Saturday, Gov. Cuomo said at his daily press briefing there were more than 10,300 cases in New York. Cuomo said Westchester County, the site of an early cluster and containment zone, showed a peak off in its spread at 1,300 cases.
  234. Of the positive cases so far, 55% are between the ages of 18 and 49. Cuomo said New York has been declared a “major disaster,” which will free up Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to help recovery efforts.
  235. On Saturday, WAPO’s media columnist wrote the media needs to stop broadcasting Trump’s daily press briefings live, saying the briefings have served as a substitute for his campaign rallies, and have been full of lies.
  236. Journalistic experts advised instead for reporters to attend the briefing and write down what Trump says, then verify Trump’s information to check for lies and misinformation before blasting it to the public.
  237. On Saturday, Trump held a daily press briefing. Trump continued to call the coronavirus an “invisible enemy,” and thanked the American people for their efforts, saying, “It’s a time of shared national sacrifice.”
  238. Trump also said “the history books” will never forget the American people’s response, adding, “We’re going to be celebrating a great victory in the not-too-distant future.”
  239. On lack of masks, Trump blamed previous administrations for having “done very little,” and said his regime is getting “tremendous reviews from many people who can’t believe how fast (masks) are coming.”
  240. Trump also accused healthcare professionals of “throwing away” masks, and claimed they should be sanitizing and reusing them, saying, “We have very good liquids for doing this.”
  241. Trump reversed himself from Friday’s briefing, saying he has not invoked the Defense Production Act, which he said he has signed but would only invoke in worst case scenarios.
  242. Trump said he was tested again, saying, “I just took one.” Pence said that he and the second lady also got tested after a member of his staff tested positive, although he added he was not in direct contact with that person.
  243. Fauci said on Trump’s tweet on possible drug treatments, “The president is talking about hope for people and it is not an unreasonable thing…You don’t have anything that is proven.”
  244. On Saturday, Congress continued negotiating a coronavirus rescue package. The amount grew from $1 trillion to possibly as large as $2 trillion to aid the American people and distressed industries.
  245. As the week came to close, there were more than 300,000 cases worldwide and nearly 13,000 deaths. The U.S. passed Germany and Iran to have the fourth most cases in the world, at more than 22,000 cases and 278 dead.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, March 21, 2020

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, left, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci listen during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Washington. This week Dr. Fauci contradicted Trump several times, and at one point during this briefing, covered his face with his palm.