April 04, 2020

Week 177

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

This week coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. spiked, adding close to 200,000 reported cases, and by midweek, more than a thousand Americans were dying each day. Trump pivoted from denying the crisis and wanting to reopen the country, to suddenly acknowledging the gravity and claiming if 100,000 to 200,000 Americans die, he will have done a “very good job” — a remarkable claim! Only two times in American history, the Civil War and World War II, did more Americans die.

Trump continued to blame governors, the media, and this week accused hospital workers in New York City — as that city became the global epicenter of the pandemic — of stealing masks and selling them off for a profit. Trump made this accusation three times. As New York prepared for the apex of cases, Trump denied Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request for more ventilators, and when asked by reporters Friday if New York had enough for the expected weekend surge, responded, “we’ll find out.”

This week Jared Kushner was introduced at a task force briefing as leading much of the federal government response, despite his background as a real estate developer with no public health and scarce government experience. Kushner parroted Trump, saying the states are on their own and the national stockpile is not for them, and then when questioned by reporters on his misstatement on the stockpile, changed the associated language on the government’s website overnight. Reporting continued to reveal how poorly Trump has handled the pandemic response, including spending the first 70 days denying the problem existed and taking almost no action.

This was perhaps the most frightening time since Trump took office, as he appeared unmoved by the growing number of American deaths, and unwilling and unable to take any sort of action to improve matters, as the pandemic continued to ravage the U.S. By week’s end, the U.S. accounted for 1 in 4 worldwide cases, and 1 in 8 deaths.

Throughout the week, Trump tried throwing shiny coins to change the narrative: from launching a military counternarcotics operation, to bragging about a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince MBS on oil prices, to a blistering letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to firing Intelligence Committee Inspector General Michael Atkinson late Friday night. But none of these acts distracted from the slew of American people dying.

  1. On Tuesday, the Trump regime rolled back an Obama-era fuel efficiency standard meant to limit automobile tailpipe pollution, virtually undoing the federal government’s biggest effort to combat climate change.
  2. The new rule written by Trump’s E.P.A. would allow cars in the U.S. to emit nearly a billion more tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than under the Obama standards.
  3. The Trump regime raced to complete the rule by the spring, even while focusing on the coronavirus. Trump was expected to extol the rule as a consequential rollback to counter the economic impact of the pandemic.
  4. On Thursday, Vox reported that the Trump regime had quietly revoked reservation status for the 321 acres of Mashpee Wampanoag tribe land in Massachusetts, which has been on the land for more than 12,000 years.
  5. The order, issued by Trump’s Interior Department, also removed the tribe’s ability to govern on its land. The process has only been done one other time since the Policy of Termination was put in place in the 1950s.
  6. On Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN Trump has no authority to impose a quarantine on NY, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut, saying “This would be a declaration of war on states.”
  7. Cuomo said he would sue the Trump regime if Trump did follow through, saying, “I’ve sued the federal government a number of times over the years. I do not believe it’s going to come to that on this.”
  8. Cuomo also said he spoke to Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo about her executive order targeting New Yorkers, saying, “I don’t think the order was called for,” or “legal,” and called it “unconstitutional” and “reactionary.”
  9. Raimondo revised her order late Saturday, although she said it was prior and unrelated to her call with Cuomo, to “any person” coming to Rhode Island “for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days.”
  10. Late Saturday, Trump also backed off, tweeting: “On the recommendation of the White House CoronaVirus Task Force” and consulting with the three governors, “I have asked the @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory.”
  11. Shortly after, the CDC issued a memo, calling for the three states “to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” All three states had already issued stay-at-home orders.
  12. On Saturday, Wendy Smith-Reeve, the Director of Arizona Department of Emergency Management, resigned after 24 years of service, saying her role was duplicative with the governor’ staff. It was unclear why she resigned.
  13. On Saturday, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced that an infant who had tested positive for Covid-19 had died, marking the first recorded death of an infant in the U.S.
  14. On Saturday, a State Department press release and related tweets from early February announcing that the U.S. sent 17.8 tons of donated coronavirus medical supplies to China recirculated. The shipment was sent weeks after the first U.S. cases.
  15. On Saturday, WAPO reported that on February 5 a shouting match broke out between Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and an Office of Management and Budget official about medical equipment and supplies.
  16. In the Situation Room, Azar asked for $2 billion to buy respirator masks and other supplies for the depleted federal stockpile. The OMB cut the request to $500 million when it was sent along to Congress.
  17. In late 2018, the Trump regime transferred authority for stockpiling from the CDC to HHS. For a year, HHS sparred with OMB to buy more supplies, asked in February for $11 billion over 10 years, but did not get the money.
  18. As the outbreak left states scrambling for medical supplies, the stockpile is plagued by underfunding, changing lines of authority, confusion over the allocation, and a lack of transparency.
  19. In mid-March when Trump declared a national emergency, the stockpile shifted again, from HHS to FEMA. It is unclear how FEMA has allocated requests, despite state and federal lawmakers demanding to know.
  20. Democratic-leaning Massachusetts received 17% of their requested items, Maine got 5%, and Colorado enough for just one day. Meanwhile, swing state Florida, led by a Trump ally, received their full order two times.
  21. Trump has warned states not to complain about what they receive, and on a call with governors, both he and Vice President Mike Pence urged states to buy on their own. State officials say this is unrealistic.
  22. On Saturday, in the evening, the U.S. passed the grim milestone of more than 2,000 deaths from the coronavirus, less than three days after reaching 1,000. The first death was reported at the end of February.
  23. There were 121,000 cases, with roughly 40% of cases and deaths in New York. New York City had 30,000 cases and 672 deaths, as its mayor warned that medical personnel and supplies will be overwhelmed in a week.
  24. On Saturday, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged people to stay home for one month to reduce coronavirus contagion, and warned of dire consequences. Mexico had 993 cases and 20 deaths so far.
  25. Late Saturday, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s show blamed technical difficulties for her not appearing at air time. When she did, Pirro appeared disheveled and stumbled over her words.
  26. On Sunday, the LA Times reported Skagit Valley Chorale in Washington decided to hold practice on March 6 despite nearby coronavirus cases. Three weeks later, 45 members are infected, three hospitalized and two are dead.
  27. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told “State of the Union” that the U.S. could see “between 100,000 and 200,000” deaths before the pandemic is over and “millions of cases.”
  28. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic on “State of the Union,” saying “his denial at the beginning was deadly” and that as he “fiddles, people are dying.”
  29. On Sunday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow was asked on “This Week” about his saying “We have contained this” on February 25. Kudlow defended himself, saying, “I’m as good as the facts are.”
  30. Kudlow said, “At the time I made that statement, the facts were: contained … a lot of people agreed with me,” and “felt at the time that the flu was worse than the virus,” claiming he changed when the facts changed.
  31. On Sunday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told “This Week” his state’s healthcare system could be overwhelmed. He ordered 12,000 ventilators from the national stockpile and private options, but has received just 192.
  32. On Sunday, governors of Texas, Oklahoma, and Delaware ordered 14 day quarantines for visitors from several states. Texas targeted New Orleans, Oklahoma six states including California, and Delaware any state.
  33. On Sunday, WSJ reported producers and distributors of medical supplies are raising red flags that they do not know where they should ship scarce supplies, and are not getting guidance from the federal government.
  34. Trump met with a half-dozen medical supplies executives on Sunday, but did not provide formal guidance about where to ship products with so many cities and states wanting more supplies.
  35. Peter Gaynor, the head of the Health Industry Distributors Association, asked FEMA in a letter for the zip codes, jurisdictions, and care facilities to prioritize last Thursday, but has not been given instruction.
  36. On Sunday, NYT reported the White House airlifted a shipment of N95 masks, face masks, gowns, gloves, and thermometers from China, landing in New York, the first of 22 flights to funnel much-needed goods to the U.S.
  37. The shipments are part of a private-public partnership with health care distribution companies, led by Jared Kushner. The U.S. will also be working with manufacturers from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and others.
  38. On Sunday, NYT reported while Trump has claimed to be the president of manufacturing, he did not take steps to gear up capacity as needs became identified and known.
  39. Two problems were clear. First, Trump recognized the problem too late, even as his advisors warned of a shortage of ventilators in late January. Second, Jared Kushner was put in charge, despite having little experience, and there was no organized response.
  40. While Trump evoked language of being a wartime president, he did not invoke the Defense Production Act. Trump welcomed volunteer efforts underway by companies, but there was no coordination by the regime.
  41. One official said Trump had not been briefed on the G.M.-Ventec deal, and was caught by surprise by the NYT story, leading him to be enraged and tweet about it, and command them to reopen a plant they sold last year.
  42. On Sunday, New York Gov. Cuomo said nonessential businesses must remain closed and gatherings will be banned until April 15. New York had more than 500 deaths since Friday, bringing the total to 1,100.
  43. New York had 59,513 cases, up 7,000 in one day. Cuomo said stay at home restrictions had helped slow the spread, including in the early cluster in Westchester. Cuomo postponed the presidential primary until June.
  44. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, as cases and deaths continued their exponential rise, Trump attacked the media. Trump tweeted, “The Lamestream Media wants us to fail. That will NEVER happen!”
  45. Trump added, “Polls are showing tremendous disapproval of Lamestream Media coverage of the Virus crisis. The Fake News just hasn’t figured that out,” referring to a CBS poll finding 13% of Republicans trust the media.
  46. Trump also bragged about his rating, tweeting, “Because the “Ratings” of my News Conferences etc. are so high, “Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers,”” adding, “the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY.”
  47. Trump added, quoting an article from the NYT, ““Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.” said one lunatic,” adding, “See you at 5:00 P.M.!” referring to his daily task force briefing.
  48. Trump continued, “President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news.”
  49. Trump added, “Numbers are continuing to rise,” saying that “on Monday, Fox News alone attracted 6.2 million viewers…an astounding number for a 6 p.m. cable broadcast, more akin to the viewership for a popular prime-time sitcom.”
  50. While Fox News and CNN continued to broadcast Trump’s daily briefings live, other major networks like ABC, NBC, and CBS have started to return to showing their normal news programming at the early evening.
  51. On Sunday, at his daily task force briefing, Trump reversed from his plan to relax coronavirus guidelines in time for Easter, as he said repeatedly last week, saying he will extend the social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  52. Appearing in the Rose Garden, Trump appeared more somber, citing figures from his public health advisers, Dr. Deborah Birx and Fauci, that as many as 200,000 Americans could die, even with aggressive action.
  53. Trump said, “During this period, it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines,” adding, “We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery,” and “A lot of great things will be happening.”
  54. Trump cited predictions that up to 2.2 million Americans could die from the virus if nothing were done, noting “the viciousness” of the coronavirus virus — no longer comparing it to the flu as he had in the past.
  55. Trump added, “If we have between 100,000 and 200,000 we’ve all together done a very good job.” Notably, that number of deaths would be the third most in U.S. history, behind the Civil War and World War II.
  56. Trump said of changing course, “We had a lot of people who were saying, maybe we shouldn’t do anything. Just ride it….Ride that sucker right through…I thought about it, I said, maybe we should ride it through.”
  57. Fauci told reporters, “Dr. Birx and I spent a considerable amount of time going over all the data, why we felt this was a best choice for us, and the president accepted it.”
  58. Trump revealed a friend was in the hospital, saying, “he’s a tough person,” but “a day later he’s in a coma,” and expressed horror for what is happening at Elmhurst Hospital, in his former neighborhood in Queens.
  59. Trump added, “Body bags all over, in hallways. I’ve been watching them bring in trailer trucks — freezer trucks, they’re freezer trucks, because they can’t handle the bodies, there are so many of them.”
  60. Trump repeated complaints about Democratic governors, describing Gov. Jay Inslee as “a nasty person,” saying he got Pence to call him instead, “Because when they disrespect me, they’re disrespecting our government.”
  61. Trump also targeted New York, saying demand for masks had gone from between 10,00 and 20,000 per week to 300,000 a week now, saying “Something’s going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters.”
  62. Trump suggested, without evidence, that hospital staffers were taking masks and selling them, saying, “Where are the masks going — are they going out the back door?” even as hospitals have seen a surge in patients.
  63. Trump also lied, denying he had threatened to quarantine New York, saying, “I didn’t do that at all. Read the statement….Read what I said,” adding, “I said we’re going to look into possibly quarantine.”
  64. Fauci said there would be millions of U.S. cases, and the infection rate would begin increasing outside of New York soon. The U.S. had more than 142,000 cases of the 718,000 global cases.
  65. On Monday, the LA Times reported the reason Trump reversed on extending social distancing was because of advice from his reelection campaign advisors who warned, “You’re going to lose the election.”
  66. Advisors warned him the virus, which had mainly hit Democratic states on the coast, will soon hit rural areas deeply loyal to Trump. Prior, Trump’s inner circle thought he would open restaurants and bars by April 12.
  67. On Sunday, Politico reported the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by Trump for the coronavirus.
  68. HHS announced Sandoz donated doses of hydroxychloroquine and Bayer donated doses of chloroquine to the Strategic National Stockpile, despite scant evidence either will be effective for treating the coronavirus.
  69. On Sunday, CNN reported the Justice Department has started an inquiry in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission of lawmakers’ stock trades after coronavirus briefings.
  70. The inquiry has included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr. Congress passed the Stock Act in 2012, making it illegal for lawmakers to use inside information.
  71. On Sunday, NYT reported that after Jerry Falwell Jr., a staunch Trump ally and president of Liberty University, brought students back to campus from spring break, 11 students were sick with symptoms suggesting Covid-19.
  72. At least one of the three students sent to a local hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia tested positive. Eight students were told to self-isolate. Sunday, Falwell said any students returning should self-quarantine for 14 days.
  73. Falwell has echoed Trump’s talking points about the virus on Fox News. He has also sought to silence dissent on the school reopening, mocking a professor on social media and calling an upset parent a “dummy.”
  74. On Sunday, New York passed 1,000 deaths with more than 60,000 confirmed cases. New York City constructed an emergency field hospital in Central Park. There were more than 3,000 deaths in the U.S.
  75. On Monday, Trump called in to “Fox & Friends” for a 54-minute interview. As the death toll in New York passed 1,000, Trump said, “I think New York should be fine….They should have more than enough [ventilators].”
  76. Trump added, “I’m hearing stories that they’re not used,” saying, “anywhere from 2 to 4,000 that have been sent and aren’t used,” and adding, “after this is over they’ll be selling ventilators for a dollar a piece.”
  77. Asked about Cuomo, whose popularity has shot up, Trump said one of the reasons is because of the federal government, “We give him ships, we give him ventilators, we give him all the things that we’re giving him.”
  78. Asked why he suddenly changed his plans to reopen, Trump said, “I used to say, a lot of people said, could you just have kept it going? Like the flu, a bad case of the flu, a really bad case,” but Birx and Fauci showed him data.
  79. Trump lied, saying, “The federal government has done far more than if anybody else was president,” adding, “If Sleepy Joe was president, he wouldn’t even know what’s going on. You know that.”
  80. Trump closed, saying, “It’s like the old times,” referring to the 2016 race, and adding, “but this is a serious deal.” Trump then said he had to hang up to make other calls, including to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  81. On Monday, Hungary’s parliament passed a bill declaring a state of emergency due to the coronavirus and giving Prime Minister Viktor Orban unlimited power. The bill was criticized by human rights watchdogs.
  82. The bill suspends elections and parliament, and has no end date. The bill allows punishment for journalists viewed as not accurate and severe punishment breaking the quarantine.
  83. On Monday, a new Sienna poll found 87% of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus, 11% disapprove. Trump had the lowest approval in the poll, with 41% approving, and 56% disapproving.
  84. On Monday, Cuomo said the first child in New York had died from Covid-19. The state had nearly 9,000 new cases, bringing the total to 68,363 cases — about 40% in the U.S. — and 1,342 deaths, with the majority in NYC.
  85. Cuomo tried to deflect on Trump’s accusation that hospital workers were stealing masks saying, “I don’t know what he’s trying to say. If he wants to make an accusation then let him make an accusation.”
  86. On Monday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered stay-at-home orders for their states, in Virginia until June 10. Virginia has more than 1,000 cases, and Maryland more than 1,400.
  87. On Monday, WAPO reported make-shift hospitals are being set up around the country on soccer fields, college gymnasiums, state parks, and convention centers ahead of the pandemic wave.
  88. The U.S. has 924,100 hospital beds, which are typically full. In a severe pandemic like the 1918 flu, 38 million people would require medical care, resulting in 9.6 million hospitalizations and 2.9 million ICU stays.
  89. On Monday, a study by Kinsa Health found stay-at-home orders are slowing the spread of coronavirus based on a national map of fever levels. 29 states have such orders. Trump refused to issue a national lockdown.
  90. On Monday, CNN chief Jeff Zucker said his network would continue to cover Trump’s daily task force briefings, despite considerable criticism. CNN added chyrons starting over the weekend to fact check Trump.
  91. On Monday, retailer Brooks Brothers announced it would repurpose its New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts factories to produce 150,000 masks per day, as well as surgical gowns.
  92. On Monday, department store chain Macy’s announced it would furlough the majority of its 125,000 employee workforce because the coronavirus pandemic has forced the company to close all its stores.
  93. On Monday, NYT reported Trump has been without an acting chief of staff for three weeks during the crisis, having fired Mick Mulvaney. Mark Meadows waited three weeks to resign from his seat, and starts Tuesday.
  94. On Monday, at the task force daily briefing, Trump invited CEOs of companies who were doing their “patriotic duty” by donating medical equipment, including Honeywell and Proctor & Gamble, to make speeches.
  95. Trump also invited Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, who is a frequent advocate at Trump campaign rallies. Trump introduced him as a “friend,” saying, “Boy, do you sell those pillows, it’s unbelievable what you do.”
  96. Lindell then spoke as if at a rally, saying, “God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on,” adding, “God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God.”
  97. Lindell added, “I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families,” and the “president gave us so much hope…the best economy,” and so on.
  98. Trump shifted his tone from last week, saying, “The economy is No. 2 on my list,” adding, “First, I want to save a lot of lives,” bragging that if he had not taken steps more than two million could have died.
  99. Trump repeated his unfounded claim that New York hospital workers were stealing masks, saying, “How do you go from 10 to 20 to 300,000? 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000?” adding, “something’s going on.”
  100. Trump continued to attack reporters. When CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump about his own statements weeks ago that the virus was “very much under control” and “will go away,” Trump said it “will go away.”
  101. Trump also praised his regime’s efforts, saying, “It’s almost a miracle the way it’s all come together, and instead of asking a nasty, snarky question like that, you should ask a real question.”
  102. Trump also again snapped at PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, saying, “You should be saying congratulations instead of asking a really snarky question.”
  103. Trump also lied, claiming governors had praised him on a call earlier in the day for providing ample testing, saying, “I think for the most part they were saying thank you for doing a great job.”
  104. According to audio provided to NYT, Trump had told governors, “We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world. We’ve got these great tests,” and claiming, “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem.”
  105. Trump repeated his false claim, “Over one million Americans have now been tested, more than any other country by far.” So far there have been 945,000 tests and the U.S. outbreak topped 160,000 cases.
  106. Later Monday, New York radio icon Mike Francesca, one of Trump’s biggest defenders, turned on him over the coronavirus response, saying on his show, “We’re watching people die, and now we know people who died.”
  107. Francesca added, “We’re seeing them die by the tens and twenties by the day,” adding police, firefighters, health care workers and other first responders “don’t have the supplies they need” to combat the pandemic.
  108. He said of Trump telling the media to investigate if NYC hospital workers are stealing supplies, “You go investigate that! You have your military, your FEMA investigate that! That’s your job!….There’s a disconnect.”
  109. He added, “So don’t give me the MyPillow guy doing a song-and-dance up here on a Monday afternoon when people are dying in Queens,” adding, “Get the stuff made” and “Treat this like the crisis it is!”
  110. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he watched “low rated (very) Morning Psycho (Joe) this Morning in order to see what Nancy Pelosi,” and “other than her usual complaining that I’m a terrible person, she wasn’t bad.”
  111. On Tuesday, in an op-ed, Bill Gates said the U.S. needs a national shutdown for at least 10 more weeks, saying, “The window for making important decisions hasn’t closed.” Trump has yet to order a national lockdown.
  112. On Tuesday, NPR reported Carnival cruise ship Zaandam, with four dead and nearly 200 infected, may be allowed to dock in Fort Lauderdale after 15 days at sea. The 1,400 passengers include 300 Americans.
  113. The ship has been turned away from Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Monday, “We cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida.”
  114. The Broward County Commission has had not decided as of Tuesday, and was waiting for clear and proper protocols for disembarkation by the cruise line. The ship was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
  115. On Tuesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said the agency was reviewing its guidelines of who should wear a mask, after evidence showed as many as 25% of people with the virus show no symptoms.
  116. One concern cited by Fauci on CNN is a shortage of masks, saying, “You don’t want to take masks away from the health care providers who are in a real and present danger of getting infected.”
  117. Redfield said the coronavirus is likely three times as infectious as the flu. The World Health Organization, which said citizens do not need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing, is also reviewing its guidelines.
  118. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump aides learned while calling the government of Thailand to ask for help with medical supplies that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies was already on the way to Bangkok.
  119. The discovery prompted Pence, as head of the coronavirus task force, to issue a moratorium of all USAID’s deliveries to countries requesting PPE, and send it to U.S. states instead.
  120. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Capt. Brett Crozier, the captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, said in a letter sent Monday to the acting Navy Secretary that 100 sailors on his ship had coronavirus.
  121. In the letter, which was leaked to the media, Crozier asked for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew of more than 4,000, saying, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die.” The ship was docked in Guam.
  122. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed in an interview that the impeachment trial had “diverted the attention of the government” from the coronavirus. The Senate acquitted on February 5.
  123. Notably, the CDC issued it first warning about the coronavirus on January 8, and Trump continued to hold campaign rallies (9) and play round of golf (6) during the months of January, February, and March.
  124. On Tuesday, WAPO reported staffers for House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff have begun drafting legislation to set up an independent 9/11-style commission to examine why the U.S. was so unprepared for the pandemic.
  125. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Post, NYT, and CNBC have stopped sending reporters to Trump’s daily briefings. The Times noted they stopped “both because of health considerations and the uncertain newsworthiness.”
  126. On Tuesday, at a two hour long daily briefing, a somber Trump called the pandemic “a great national trial, unlike any we have ever faced before,” adding, “This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks.”
  127. Birx and Fauci explained that with no mitigation efforts, 1.5 to 2 million Americans could die. Even with continuing social distancing, they estimated 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die.
  128. The White House did not disclose the data behind their projections, which were shown on charts highlighted by Trump, Birx, and Fauci. During the presentation, the number of U.S. cases topped 200,000 cases.
  129. Birx added, “There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors,” and “Each of our behaviors translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic. Over the next 30 days.”
  130. Fauci said of the 100,000 number, “We don’t accept that number, that that’s what it’s going to be. We’re going to be doing everything we can to get it even significantly below that…We want to do much, much better.”
  131. Trump countered Fauci, saying, “When you see 100,000 people and that’s a minimum number,” and “it’s unlikely you’ll be able to attain that,” adding, “Think of what would have happened if we didn’t do anything.”
  132. Trump also reversed on comparing the coronavirus to the flu, which he claimed “people were saying.” Trump now said, “A lot of people have said, ‘Ride it out’ and ‘Think of it as the flu.’ But it’s not the flu — it’s vicious.”
  133. Asked if impeachment distracted him as McConnell suggested, Trump said, “I think I handled it very well, but I guess it probably did,” adding, “I think, you know, I certainly devoted a little time to thinking about it.”
  134. Trump added, “I think I’m getting A+’s for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment, OK? … But certainly, I guess…I don’t think I would have done any better had I not been impeached, OK?”
  135. On Tuesday, more than 4,000 Americans had died of the coronavirus, surpassing 9/11, reaching 4,079, roughly 9% of the world’s 44,000 deaths. More than 800 died Tuesday and the U.S. had 189,600 cases.
  136. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported U.S. intelligence said in a leaked classified report that was delivered to the White House last week, China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country.
  137. The report cited China reported incomplete data on the outbreak which started in the Hubei province in late 2019. China now claims 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths, far less than the U.S.
  138. Shortly after the reporting, Pence told CNN, “The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming.” It is unclear what he meant, as the Trump regime had been briefed in December.
  139. Pence also lied, saying, “I don’t believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus,” and saying Trump has “expressed gratitude and confidence in health care workers in this country.”
  140. On Wednesday, CNBC reported more than 1,000 New York City police officers, and 282 firefighters and EMTs are infected with the coronavirus. On Tuesday, 5,657 uniformed officers — roughly 15% — called in sick.
  141. A record 6,527 medical calls were placed to 911 on Monday, meaning low priority sick calls have to wait for ambulances. As of Tuesday, 43,119 people in New York City were infected and at least 1,096 had died.
  142. On Wednesday, facing mounting pressure, Gov. DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for Florida for 30 days, after issuing a partial state closing days prior. There were more than 7,000 cases in the state and South Florida was an epicenter.
  143. Later Wednesday, governors of Georgia, Mississippi, and Nevada also issued stay-at-home orders. In all, 37 states, D.C. ,and Puerto Rico have issued state at home orders, impacting at least 294 million.
  144. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said of issuing a stay-at-home order, that it coincided with his learning people without symptoms could spread the virus, a fact that was already widely known since January.
  145. Shortly after, CNN reported that DeSantis’s stay-at-home order, which goes into effect Friday, will exempt religious services conducted in churches, synagogues, and houses of worship as “essential business.”
  146. On Wednesday, NBC News reported 15 people in New Jersey were charged and ordered to disperse by police after dozens gathered for a funeral. New Jersey has the second most infected at 26,000, with 537 deaths.
  147. On Wednesday, Trump used the daily briefing to unveil an unrelated new military counternarcotics operations mission, which he claimed would “protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics.”
  148. Trump said the operation would hurt Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. The State Department launched a new effort to oust Maduro on Tuesday, citing oddly that Maduro had not prepared his country for the outbreak.
  149. In making the announcement, Trump was flanked by military officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, NSA Robert O’Brian, and Attorney General William Barr. As he started, 800 Americans had died that day.
  150. Trump bragged, “Did you know I was number one on Facebook? I just found out I’m number one,” which was a lie. The day before, reporters were mocked for describing Trump as “grim-faced” and “somber.
  151. As of Wednesday, including the sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt, 841 U.S. service members had tested positive, and one had died. Esper tried to draw a line between the pandemic and the counternarcotics operation.
  152. Asked about the Roosevelt, Esper claimed, without citing who, that some are calling for a military shutdown, saying, “There seems to be this narrative out there that we should just shut down…That’s not feasible.”
  153. On Wednesday, CNN reported according to a Trump adviser, before Trump shifted his approach, he “took a gamble” warmer weather would cause Covid-19 to dissipate, siding with aides over data and opinions of experts.
  154. On Wednesday, WSJ reported health experts now believe that as many as nearly one in three patients who are infected are getting a negative test result, although they cautioned the assessment is based on limited data.
  155. Late Wednesday, CNN reported a prestigious scientific panel told the White House that the coronavirus could be spread through talking and breathing, not just by sneezes or coughs.
  156. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 Americans died, the most in a single day from Covid-19, and double the deaths of America’s most deadly diseases, the flu and lung cancer. So far, 5,116 have died and 215,000 infected.
  157. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Fauci’s security has been stepped up, after he faced growing threats to his personal safety, including threats and unwelcome communications from fervent admirers.
  158. On Thursday, the Labor Department announced 6.6 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, a jump of 3,000%, bringing the total in the past two weeks to nearly 10 million.
  159. CNBC reported that nearly half the 22.2 million job gains since coming out of the financial crisis in 2010 have been lost. The 10 million job loss exceeded the 8.7 millions jobs lost during the Great Depression.
  160. On Thursday, the White House rejected calls to re-open registration for new sign-ups across the 38 Affordable Care Act marketplaces it controls despite the growing population left exposed the pandemic.
  161. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump’s companies are seeking to delay payments due to Deutsche Bank and Palm Beach County, Florida. American citizens were not granted such relief in the relief bills passed.
  162. On Thursday, Acting Navy Sec. Thomas Modly announced U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt captain Crozier had been relieved for sending a letter over a “non-secure unclassified email” to a “broad array of people,” rather than up the chain.
  163. By Wednesday, 93 sailors had tested positive, and 1,000 more were taken off the carrier and placed into isolation on Guam. The firing was condemned by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee.
  164. On Thursday, amid deaths climbing, Trump tweeted, “Just spoke to my friend MBS (Crown Prince) of Saudi Arabia, who spoke with President Putin of Russia,” and “hope that they will be cutting back” oil production.
  165. Trump added, “if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” Crude oil prices surged by 25%. As has been reported, many Trump allies in the oil and gas business have called the White House asking for help.
  166. On Thursday, Pelosi announced she was forming a bipartisan House committee led by Whip Jim Clyburn to investigate the federal response to the pandemic and ensure that congressional funding is spent wisely.
  167. Pelosi said the panel will “weed out waste, fraud and abuse” and “protect against price gouging, profiteering and political favoritism,” and will ensure the federal response is based on science.
  168. Pelosi also said the panel will have subpoena power, and will do a retrospective review. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voiced opposition, saying Congress wrote oversight provisions into the latest package.
  169. On Thursday, Sen. Martha McSally told Fox Business she does not trust China, saying, “I’ve never trusted a communist,” adding their cover-up “has caused unnecessary deaths around America and around the world.”
  170. She also called on World Health Organization director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign, saying, “It’s just irresponsible, it’s unconscionable what they have done here while we have people dying.”
  171. On Thursday, after Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked Trump to appoint a “military man,” not Kushner, to handle coronavirus supplies, Trump attacked Schumer and his home state of New York.
  172. Trump tweeted, “Somebody please explain to Cryin’ Chuck Schumer that we do have a military man in charge,” adding, “New York has gotten far more than any other State,” but “unfortunately got off to a late start.”
  173. Later Thursday, Trump sent a blistering letter on official White House stationery to Schumer, saying New York was “unprepared” for the coronavirus crisis because of the “impeachment hoax.”
  174. Trump added, “We have given New York many things, including hospitals, medical centers, medical supplies, record numbers of ventilators, and more. You should have had New York much better prepared than you did.”
  175. In an earlier letter, Schumer criticized the Trump regime’s response, saying, “the existing federal leadership void has left America with an ugly spectacle in which States and cities are literally fending for themselves.”
  176. Ealier, Pelosi said on McConnell’s claim that impeachment hobbled Trump’s response, “don’t blame impeachment… blame it on the fact that you didn’t want to face the reality, and that denial and that delay cost lives.”
  177. On Thursday, the number of worldwide coronavirus cases topped one million — doubling in the past week. The worldwide death toll passed 50,000. Roughly 1 in 4 reported cases were in the U.S.
  178. On Thursday, the LA Times reported Trump ended a $200-million pandemic early detection program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries, called PREDICT, in September.
  179. The project was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009, and had identified 1,200 different viruses that had potential to turn into pandemics, including 160 novel coronaviruses.
  180. On Thursday, at the daily briefing, Pence introduced Jared Kushner who he said was taking a central role in the regime’s response to the pandemic, and working with FEMA to help oversee the distribution of supplies.
  181. Kushner, 39, accused, without evidence, some governors and U.S. senators of requesting supplies without knowing what they needed, saying states should find equipment on their own before asking the federal government.
  182. Kushner, who has no background in public health or government, said some are “better managers than others,” addings “Don’t ask us for things” when you don’t know what you have already, “just because you’re scared.”
  183. Kushner said he had been leading an active response for 13 days of dealing with the crisis: “We’ve done things that the federal government has never done before, quicker than they’ve ever done it before.”
  184. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said, “We’ve had some issues making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places.”
  185. Trump added that he had signed a Defense Production Act order for 3M to produce face masks, saying, “Hopefully they’ll be able to do what they are supposed to do.”
  186. Later Thursday, NYT reported that Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, a real estate developer with no public health expertise or medical knowledge, has placed himself in the middle of Trump’s coronavirus response.
  187. Officials say Kushner has added another layer to an already fragmented response, and taken credit for changes already in progress. He views himself as an enabler of government agencies to overcome obstacles.
  188. Kushner has made promises for improvements that did not happen, including a nationwide screening website made by Google, and drive-through testing. He and Trump have overridden FEMA on delivery decisions.
  189. Officials anticipate Kushner’s role is likely to be a subject of the select House committee being set up by Pelosi. He started in mid-March and has worked to improve testing and obtain more medical equipment.
  190. Kushner has brought in dozens of friends and entrepreneurs as political appointees into critical spots like FEMA, causing a culture clash. One officials describe it as a “frat party” invading the federal government.
  191. On Thursday, WAPO reported since declaring a national emergency over the coronavirus three weeks ago, Trump delivered a series of rhetorical contortions, sowed confusion, and sought to blame others.
  192. In the past week, Trump has tried to remake his public image from a skeptic of the pandemic’s danger to a savior forestalling catastrophe, using the omnipresent daily press briefings to make edits and distort the truth.
  193. The briefings now sometimes last as long as two hours, and have become a daily battle of Trump trying to erase memories of two months of playing down the crisis, while scolding reporters who bring up past statements.
  194. While accepting none of the responsibility for mistakes, Trump has sought to blame China, Cuomo and other governors who ask for help procuring medical equipment, hospital workers, and the media.
  195. Trump spent his first three years dismantling and discrediting agencies of the federal government, and now finds himself in a moment where the American people need their government, leaving the country in confusion.
  196. On Thursday, NYT reported the 1,000 bed USNS Comfort Hospital Ship, docked in Manhattan with 1,200 crew members, has only 20 beds filled amid a tangle of military protocols and bureaucratic hurdles.
  197. On top of its strict rules not to treat coronavirus patients, the Navy is also refusing to treat a host of other conditions. One NY hospital official called it “a joke.” The USNS Mercy docked in Los Angeles has 15 patients.
  198. On Thursday, local WSFA-12 reported Montgomery County, Alabama received more than 5,880 medical procedure masks from the national stockpile that were rotted. The state has more than 1,100 cases.
  199. Late Thursday, Trump tweeted, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing — will have a big price to pay!”
  200. On Friday, NYT reported that 2,109 of 7,000 ventilators sent to states from in the federal stockpile were not operational, after the federal government let a contract to maintain them lapse last summer.
  201. On Friday, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll found Trump’s approval for handling the coronavirus has fallen to 47% approve, 52% disapprove (net -5) from 55% approve/43% disapprove (net +12) two weeks ago — a move of -17 net points.
  202. The poll also found 91% of Americans said their routine had changed because of the virus, and 89% said they were concerned they or someone they know would get infected, up from 66% three weeks ago.
  203. On Friday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to ban “unscrupulous actors and profiteers” from exporting critical medical gear, telling reporters, “We’re not at all happy with 3M.”
  204. On Friday, 3M CEO Mike Roman called Trump’s tweet “absurd,” adding, “The idea that we’re not doing everything we can to maximize deliveries of respirators in our home country — nothing is further from the truth.”
  205. Roman added, “there are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies” to health care workers in Canada and Latin America where 3M is a “critical supplier of respirators.”
  206. On Friday, Financial Times reported 3M protective medical equipment sent to Germany was allegedly “confiscated” in Bangkok and diverted to the U.S., leading a senior German official to accuse the U.S. of “modern piracy.”
  207. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasted Trump’s move to block 3M products ordered by Canada, calling it a “mistake” and would backfire, noting Canadian doctors go to help Detroit every day.
  208. Canada had 3,255 confirmed cases and 67 deaths. Notably, Germany, which like South Korea did a national lockdown and mass testing, has a mortality rate of just over 1%, with 84,794 cases and 1,107 deaths.
  209. On Friday, as Capt. Crozier departed the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, videos appeared on social media of sailors on the aircraft carrier erupting into applause and cheers. Crozier waved and saluted, then walked away alone.
  210. On Friday, Bloomberg News reported Sen. Kelly Loeffler sold $46,027 of shares in Booking Holdings, an online travel booking company on March 10 and 11, days before Trump announced a ban on air travel to European countries.
  211. Loeffler bought the shares on March 6 in an account jointly owned with her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, Chair of the New York Stock Exchange. Trump announced the ban on the evening of March 11.
  212. On Friday, the HHS government website altered its description of the Strategic National Stockpile after journalists noted that it contradicted a claim Kushner made about the program at the Thursday briefing.
  213. Kushner had made a novel claim, saying that the federal stockpile was not for the states’ use, saying it is “supposed to be our stockpile,” adding, “It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
  214. The old language said the stockpile is “the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.”
  215. Old language also included, “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts… supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.”
  216. The new language said the stockpile “is to supplement state and local supplies,” adding, “Many states have products stockpiled, as well,” and that the stockpile is “a short-term stopgap buffer.”
  217. On Friday, CNN host Brooke Baldwin announced she has tested positive for the coronavirus. Her news came days after CNN host Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Gov. Andrew, also said he tested positive.
  218. On Friday, the Times of San Diego reported a Washington state group is the first to sue Fox News for calling the coronavirus a “hoax.” The complaint asked the state court to keep Fox from airing false information.
  219. On Friday, the Trump Organization laid off 1,500 employees at hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Seventeen of Trump’s clubs and hotels have closed due to the pandemic.
  220. On Friday, ProPublica reported in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and New Orleans, and states including Illinois and North Carolina, African Americans are disproportionately contracting Covid-19 and dying from it.
  221. In Milwaukee, Black Americans make up 81% of the deaths, while being 26% of the population. In Michigan, where the state population is 14% black, African Americans make up 35% of cases and 40% of deaths.
  222. On Friday, the death toll rose above 7,000 Americans, including roughly 3,000 in New York state. The U.S. had more than 273,000 cases — one-quarter of all world cases.
  223. In New York City, 1,867 were dead, and 11,739 hospitalized. The city sent an emergency alert asking for 45,000 health care workers to volunteer. Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “People are dying,” and warned a surge is coming.
  224. On Friday, Cuomo thanked 21,000 out-of-state health professional volunteers for coming to help New York, as the state has become the global epicenter of the pandemic, saying, “New Yorkers will return the favor.”
  225. On Friday, at the daily briefing, Trump announced the CDC, in a reversal, is now advising Americans to wear non-medical masks in public. Trump called the directive “voluntary” and said he did not think he would do it.
  226. Trump repeated his false claims, blaming the Obama administration, saying, “The original test, the ones we inherited… were broken, they were obsolete, they were not good tests.” Covid-19 did not exist pre-Trump.
  227. Asked if New York has enough ventilators, Trump said we’ll “find out,” and blamed the state for any shortage, saying, “They should’ve had more ventilators [ready],” adding, “we have a lot of states.”
  228. After Birx warned about avoiding hot spots, Trump said, “the model shows hundreds of thousands of people are going to die. You know what I want to do? I want to come way under the model.”
  229. Trump added, “The professionals did the model. I was never involved in a model…this kind of model,” joking about his sexual exploits. Trump continued to make hundreds of thousands of deaths his benchmark.
  230. Asked if the national stockpile is for the states, Trump said, “Sure, but it is also needed for the federal government,” adding, “many of the states were totally unprepared for this,” and, “we’re not an ordering clerk.”
  231. Asked about mail-in voting for the November election, Trump said, without citing evidence, “No, because I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting.” Trump himself has voted by mail.
  232. Earlier in the week, Trump was asked about it on “Fox & Friends,” and mused, “if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Democrats have called for more funding of mail-ins.
  233. Trump also said his regime had a plan to cover uninsured patients’ coronavirus treatment, saying, “This should alleviate any concern.” Trump blindsided HHS, which believed the concept was still under consideration.
  234. On Friday, the New York City Fire Department announced the death of Deputy Chief Inspector Syed Rahman due to the coronavirus. 1 in 4 New York City emergency medical services workers are out sick with the virus.
  235. On Friday, CNN host Erin Burnett broke down in tears while interviewing a widow who had to say goodbye to her husband over FaceTime. Stories came out all week about patients dying alone due to Covid-19’s contagion.
  236. On Friday, the Supreme Court canceled April arguments, leaving it unclear if the court will finish its term. Trump’s cases on turning over his financial records over to Congress and the Manhattan DA would be left in limbo.
  237. On Friday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson attacked Fauci, saying he has been “wrong repeatedly.” Host Sean Hannity attacked Cuomo, parroting a far-right conspiracy theory that he refused to stockpile ventilators.
  238. Late Friday, CNN reported Trump, in an act of retaliation, fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry.
  239. Trump wrote, “As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment…it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees…That is no longer the case” with the IG.
  240. The move, which came late Friday night amid the coronavirus pandemic, was condemned by the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Atkinson is a career, nonpartisan official.
  241. NBC News reported Trump informed Atkinson Friday night, circumventing a requirement that the House and Senate intelligence committees be notified by Trump 30 days before removal of the IG.
  242. On Saturday, Cuomo said New York coronavirus cases were up to 113,740, and said the apex is expected in roughly seven days. He added the 2,500 beds at Jacob Javits would be used for Covid-19 ahead of the expected surge.
  243. Cuomo said New York requested 17,000 ventilators from the government, but got none. He thanked Jack Ma for his help, saying China had donated 1,000, and thanked Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for sending 140 more.
  244. Cuomo said of reaching the apex, we are “not ready yet.” While cases continued to grow in New York, they did so at a lower rate than in other states — by week’s end, New York made up 35% of US cases.
  245. On Saturday, eight states with Republican governors had not declared stay-at-home orders, despite pleas by Fauci. Trump said Friday, “I leave it up to the governors…States that we are talking about are not in jeopardy.”
  246. On Saturday, the Coral Princess cruise ship was able to dock in Port Miami, after being turned away by Broward County. The captain said two passengers had died overnight. The Zaandam docked on Thursday.
  247. On Saturday, WAPO reported on the denial and dysfunction of the Trump regime’s response to the coronavirus. It took 70 days from his initial notification for Trump to take the threat seriously.
  248. The CDC first learned about a cluster of cases in China on December 31. The Trump regime received its first formal notification from China on January 3. The response was plagued with infighting and dysfunction.
  249. Polls showed that far more Republicans than Democrats were being influenced by Trump’s dismissive tone for months. A GOP pollster told GOP leaders, “Denial is not likely to be a successful strategy for survival.”
  250. The U.S. will be remembered as the country supposedly best prepared to fight the pandemic, but ended up unmatched with deaths likely to exceed the wars of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq combined.
  251. As the week came to a close, there were 1,159,953 worldwide cases and 62,399 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 291,545 cases (1 in 4 worldwide) and 7,851 deaths (1 in 8) and a mortality rate of 2.7%.

The Weekly List podcast is here! You can find more information here by clicking here.

THE LIST — weeks 1–52 of The Weekly List is out as a book! You can order your copy by clicking here.

Copyright Amy Siskind, April 4, 2020

A Samaritan’s Purse crew and medical personnel work on preparing to open a 68 bed emergency field hospital specially equipped with a respiratory unit in New York’s Central Park, Tuesday, March 31, 2020 to help treat the overflow of coronavirus patients.