Trump Administration, Week 169: Friday, 10 April – Thursday, 16 April 2020 (Days 1,176-1,182)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


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Friday, 10 April 2020, Day 1,176:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 10 April 2020: Coronavirus Caseload Tops 1.6 Million, as Countries Greet Easter Weekend with Lockdowns. The United States, citing the virus, vowed to issue visa penalties for countries that refuse to accept people it wants to deport. Moscow’s hospitals have been pushed to their limits. The New York Times, Friday, 10 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are covered in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 10 April 2020: Trump Says Countries Must Accept Deportees or Lose Visas. The U.S. says that lifting stay-at-home rules too soon could result in a spike in infections. Apple and Google are working on a cellphone feature to help with contact tracing. The New York Times, Friday, 10 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates on Friday, 10 April 2020: Number of Virus Patients in I.C.U.s Starts to Fall in New York. The figure decreased for the first time since the outbreak began, providing more evidence that the curve of infection is flattening, but deaths remain high. The New York Times, Friday, 10 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Continue reading Week 169, Friday, 10 April – Thursday, 16 April 2020 (Days 1,176-1,182)

Some Business Coronavirus Updates on Friday, 10 April 2020: The Next Gauge of the Economy Will Be Corporate Earnings, The New York Times, Friday, 10 April 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 10 April 2020: U.S. records more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths in one day, and the global death toll reaches 100,000, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Rick Noack, Katie Mettler, Hannah Knowles, Teo Armus, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas, and Miriam Berger, Friday, 10 April 2020: “New coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 2,000 on Friday, the highest daily tally to date. The total confirmed dead from the virus in the U.S. is now 18,586, putting it on the heels of Italy, which at 18,849 has experienced more deaths than any nation on earth. At least 2,056 people died of complications related to covid-19 in the 50 states and District of Columbia, up from totals of 1,878, 1,936 and 1,879 the three days prior. Worldwide, the confirmed covid-19 death toll reached 100,000. But experts fear the total is worse than the numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University, given a lack of transparency in China and elsewhere, and the difficulty of confirming cause of death, especially outside of hospitals.

Here are some significant developments:

  • At a White House briefing, President Trump said he’ll announce Tuesday the members of a new task force made up of people from the medical and business communities to determine when and how to reopen the country.
  • New York State recorded 777 known deaths Thursday, just 22 fewer from the record high the day before, but a flatter trend in severe cases is a “somewhat hopeful” sign that restrictive measures are working, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.
  • Turkey’s government imposed an around-the-clock weekend curfew in 31 cities, but the announcement had the reverse effect. It came so close to the beginning of its start that thousands flocked to stores and formed the kinds of crowds the policy is supposed to deter.
  • Two-thirds of a small group of patients showed improvements after receiving an experimental coronavirus treatment, bolstering hopes for finding a treatment for the novel coronavirus, according to a published study.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) pleaded with churchgoers in the state not to attend Easter Sunday services in any fashion — and said those who go to mass gatherings will be ordered to self-quarantine in their homes. Although he praised his state for its social distancing efforts, he said Kentucky plans to record the license plates in crowded parking lots of churches still considering having in-person services.
  • Life is slowly returning to the streets and shops of Wuhan — the original epicenter of the outbreak — after the Chinese city reopened following 76 days of almost complete lockdown.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

New Trump Ad Suggests His Campaign Strategy Amid the Coronavirus Crisis: Xenophobia. The ad, which calls Joe Biden soft on China and falsely suggests a former governor of Washington is Chinese, shows that President Trump plans to continue exploiting racial discord in his re-election bid. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Jeremy W. Peters, and Annie Karni, Friday, 10 April 2020: “President Trump has kicked off his general election advertising campaign with a xenophobic attack ad against Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, the opening shot in a messaging war that is expected to be exceptionally ugly. In a minute-long digital ad released late Thursday that relies heavily on imagery of China and people of Asian descent, the Trump campaign signaled the lines of attack it will use in its attempts to rally the president’s base and define Mr. Biden. The ad reprises accusations Mr. Trump has made that the former vice president’s family profited from his relationships with Chinese officials and presents selectively edited scenes and statements attempting to portray him as doddering and weak.”

A plan to defeat coronavirus finally emerges, but it’s not from the Trump administration, The Washington Post, Lean H. Sun, William Wan, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Friday, 10 April 2020: “A national plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and return Americans to jobs and classrooms is emerging — but not from the White House. Instead, a collection of governors, former government officials, disease specialists and nonprofits are pursuing a strategy that relies on the three pillars of disease control: Ramp up testing to identify people who are infected. Find everyone they interact with by deploying contact tracing on a scale America has never attempted before. And focus restrictions more narrowly on the infected and their contacts so the rest of society doesn’t have to stay in permanent lockdown. But there is no evidence yet the White House will pursue such a strategy. Instead, the president and his top advisers have fixated almost exclusively on plans to reopen the U.S. economy by the end of the month, though they haven’t detailed how they will do so without triggering another outbreak. President Trump has been especially focused on creating a second coronavirus task force aimed at combating the economic ramifications of the virus.” See also, Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Says ‘Very Aggressive’ Contact Tracing Is Needed for the U.S. to Return to Normal, NPR, Selena Simmons-Duffin and Rob Stein, Friday, 10 April 2020: “It’s the question on everyone’s minds: What will it take for us to come out of this period of extreme social distancing and return to some semblance of normal life? It turns out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working on a plan to allow the U.S. to safely begin to scale back those policies. CDC Director Robert Redfield spoke with NPR on Thursday, saying that the plan relies on not only ramped-up testing but ‘very aggressive’ contact tracing of those who do test positive for the coronavirus, and a major scale-up of personnel to do the necessary work.” See also, Restarting the U.S. Economy Means People Will Die. So When Do We Do It? The New York Times Magazine, Friday, 10 April 2020: “When can we ethically bring people back to work and school and begin to resume the usual rhythms of American life? We brought together by video conference five different kinds of experts to talk about the principles and values that will determine the choices we make at that future point. One of them, the bioethicist Zeke Emanuel, led a group from the Center for American Progress that earlier this month presented a plan to end the coronavirus crisis. First, the group said, the country needs a national stay-at-home policy through mid-May. (Eight governors still haven’t issued such orders statewide.) In the intervening weeks, testing would have to ramp up to test everyone who has a fever, or lives with someone who tests positive for Covid-19. Contact-tracing — identifying and notifying people who have been in proximity to someone infected — would become comprehensive. People who have the virus or a fever, or those in proximity to them, would be isolated. There would also be testing of a representative sample in every county, to determine the rate of infection in the population, as well as mapping and alerts to inform the public about the location of Covid-19 cases. If these efforts are successfully put in place, Emanuel hopes the current restrictions could begin to ease in June. At that point — or later, if the necessary steps have not been taken — we will need to rethink how we manage risk, recognizing trade-offs among various harms and benefits. That’s what the panel discussed.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro publicly said people in the U.S. had ‘nothing to worry about’ while privately warning the coronavirus could cost hundreds of thousands U.S. lives and trillions of dollars, CNN Politics, Em Steck and Andrew Kaczynski, Friday, 10 April 2020: “White House trade adviser Peter Navarro publicly said Americans had ‘nothing to worry about’ while he privately warned the White House that the coronavirus pandemic could cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of American lives. Navarro circulated two memos at the White House in late January and February warning that a full-blown coronavirus outbreak would leave American lives and the economy vulnerable. But Navarro, a frequent surrogate for President Donald Trump and his administration on television, continued to present a far more optimistic message in public, CNN’s KFile found after reviewing Navarro’s interviews, statements and writings.”

Trump Has Emergency Powers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About, The New York Times, Elizabeth Goitein and Andrew Boyle, Friday, 10 April 2020: “The past few weeks have given Americans a crash course in the powers that federal, state and local governments wield during emergencies. We’ve seen businesses closed down, citizens quarantined and travel restricted. When President Trump declared emergencies on March 13 under both the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act, he boasted, ‘I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.’ The president is right. Some of the most potent emergency powers at his disposal are likely ones we can’t know about, because they are not contained in any publicly available laws. Instead, they are set forth in classified documents known as ‘presidential emergency action documents.’ These documents consist of draft proclamations, executive orders and proposals for legislation that can be quickly deployed to assert broad presidential authority in a range of worst-case scenarios. They are one of the government’s best-kept secrets. No presidential emergency action document has ever been released or even leaked. And it appears that none has ever been invoked…. Even in the most dire of emergencies, the president of the United States should not be able to operate free from constitutional checks and balances. The coronavirus crisis should serve as a wake-up call. Presidential emergency action documents have managed to escape democratic oversight for nearly 70 years. Congress should move quickly to remedy that omission and assert its authority to review these documents, before we all learn just how far this administration believes the president’s powers reach.”

Trump Backs Off Tougher Food Stamp Work Rules for Now, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Friday, 10 April 2020: “The Trump administration, under fire for pushing food stamp cuts in the middle of a pandemic, has decided to hold off on stricter work requirements for adults without children during the national emergency…. Initially, the Trump administration planned to appeal a court decision from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which issued a temporary court injunction on its work requirements rule, which were to go into effect on April 1. But it has since changed its tone. By the Agriculture Department’s own estimates, the change would have led to nearly 700,000 people losing their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps.”

U.S. advises suspending bat research over concerns coronavirus could infect North American species, The Washington Post, Michelle Z. Donahue, Friday, 10 April 2020: “The federal government is recommending that scientists suspend some fieldwork involving bats in North America out of concern that researchers could pass the novel coronavirus to the animals, possibly imperiling bat populations or creating a new reservoir for a virus that has caused a global pandemic. Scientists say the virus that causes covid-19 probably originated in China’s horseshoe bats, which carry a closely related virus. The advisory, emailed in late March to bat biologists, reflects concerns that the virus could spill back from humans to other species of bats on this continent. It applies to research that involves capturing or handling bats. Covid-19 is caused by a zoonotic virus, or one that can hop between animals and humans. The precise path it took to people is unclear, and scientists say it may have included a stopover in an intermediary species such as the pangolin, an endangered and highly trafficked mammal. But the virus, SARS-CoV-2, has shown an ability to be passed from humans to animals, including dogs, cats and, most recently, a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Experts say the chance of the coronavirus hopping from people to North American bats is low. If it did, though, it could further threaten bat species already under pressure from white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has been decimating North American bat populations for more than a decade. And because bats can fly long distances, such a spillover could allow the virus to spread widely among bats and also potentially cause a ‘spill-back of SARS-CoV-2 from bats back into humans … which would make eradication of SARS-CoV-2 unlikely,’ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service veterinarian Samantha Gibbs wrote in a notice to researchers.”

Without offering any evidence for his assertion, Attorney General William Barr says the Russia investigation was opened by the FBI ‘without basis,’ Associated Press, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker, Friday, 10 April 2020: “Attorney General William Barr believes the Russia investigation that shadowed President Donald Trump for the first two years of his administration was started without any basis and amounted to an effort to ‘sabotage the presidency,’ he said in an interview with Fox News Channel. Barr offered no support for his assertion that the FBI lacked a basis for opening the investigation and made no mention of the fact that the bureau began its probe after a Trump campaign adviser purported to have early knowledge that Russia had dirt on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.” See also, Without citing any evidence, Attorney General William Barr claims the Trump-Russia investigation was FBI attempt to ‘sabotage’ Trump, The Guardian, Friday, 10 April 2020: “William Barr has said without evidence that he believes the Russia investigation that shadowed Donald Trump for the first two years of his administration was started without any basis and amounted to an effort to ‘sabotage the presidency,’ he said in an interview with Fox News Channel that aired on Thursday. The attorney general offered no support for his assertion that the FBI lacked a basis for opening the investigation and made no mention of the fact that the bureau began its investigation after a Trump campaign adviser purported to have early knowledge that Russia had dirt on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.”

News Media Outlets Have Been Ravaged by the Pandemic. Roughly 28,000 workers at news companies nationwide have been laid off, furloughed or had their pay reduced. Some publications that rely on ads have shut down. The New York Times, Marc Tracy, Friday, 10 April 2020: “The news media business was shaky before the coronavirus started spreading across the country last month. Since then, the economic downturn that put nearly 17 million Americans out of work has led to pay cuts, layoffs and shutdowns at many news outlets, including weeklies like Seven Days in Burlington, Vt., and Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain. Finding a sizable audience has not been a problem for publishers. Hunger for news in a time of crisis has sent droves of readers to many publications. But with businesses paused or closed — and no longer willing or able to pay for advertisements — a crucial part of the industry’s support system has cracked.”

Trump Administration Seeks to Lower Farmworker Pay to Help Agriculture Industry, NPR, Franco Ordoñez, Friday, 10 April 2020: “New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see how to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans. Opponents of the plan argue it will hurt vulnerable workers and depress domestic wages.”

Trump casts himself as pandemic patron, personalizing the government’s spread of cash and supplies, The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Friday, 10 April 2020: “President Trump often speaks of federal payments coming to many Americans as an act of his own benevolence, calling the bipartisan stimulus legislation ‘a Trump administration initiative’ and reportedly musing about printing his thick-and-jagged signature on the government checks. Trump touts the deployment of the USS Comfort to New York Harbor in personal terms, saying it was his choice to allow the hulking Navy hospital ship to be used for coronavirus patients — and even traveling to ‘kiss it goodbye’ before its trek north. And Trump talks about the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators and medical equipment being shipped to hard-hit states as if it were his own storage unit, with governors saying they recognize that in turn they are expected to tread gingerly with him or risk jeopardizing their supply chain. As Americans confront a pandemic and struggle to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Trump has placed himself at the center as their patron. The president has sought to portray himself as singularly in charge — except for when things go wrong. In those instances, he has labored to blame others and avoid accountability. Day after day, in his self-constructed role of wartime president, the task Trump seems to relish most is spreading cash and supplies across a beleaguered and anxious nation.”


Saturday, 11 April 2020, Day 1,177:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 11 April 2020: India to Extend Lockdown Against Coronavirus, While Spain Eases Work Rules. China is delaying medical equipment exports for quality checks. A Times investigation examines President Trump’s delays in facing the crisis. Murders fall in Latin America. The New York Times, Saturday, 11 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 11 April 2020: Total Number of Confirmed Deaths in U.S. Surpasses Italy. For the first time, the government has declared all 50 states a major disaster for the same event. Some pastors plan to hold Easter services despite stay-at-home guidance. The New York Times, Saturday, 11 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 11 April 2020: Governor Andrew Cuomo Urges Caution on Reopening the State’s Economy. Cuomo also said Mayor Bill de Blasio lacked the authority to close New York City’s schools for the rest of the academic year. The New York Times, Saturday, 11 April 2020:

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, 11 April 2020: Confirmed U.S. covid-19 death toll reaches 20,000, the highest in the world, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Marisa Iati, Hannah Knowles, Simon Denyer, Meryl Kornfield, Timothy Bella, and Jesse Dougherty, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “The United States on Saturday passed Italy for the most confirmed covid-19 deaths in the world, with more than 20,000 fatalities, a figure experts have called ‘an underestimation.’ Much-smaller Italy has still lost more people per capita — roughly 31 of every 100,000 people there have been killed by the virus. If the death rate in the U.S. were to match that in Italy, more than 100,000 Americans would die. The news comes as Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said he hopes for ‘a real degree of normality’ by November.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Abortion providers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene after Texas banned the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A federal judge has blocked Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer from banning drive-in church services on Easter.
  • President Trump has rejected potential emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service, which has suffered financially during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is sick with covid-19, “continues to make very good progress.”
  • New York’s governor and New York City’s mayor are again feuding, this time over school closings.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Coronavirus Pandemic, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti, and Julian E. Barnes, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “‘Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,’ a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. ‘The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.’ A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action. ‘You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,’ he wrote to the group, which called itself ‘Red Dawn,’ an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. ‘Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.’ His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action. The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen…. The shortcomings of Mr. Trump’s performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation. But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread.” See also, Five Takeaways on What Trump Knew as the Virus Spread, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “An examination by The New York Times reveals that there were warnings from the intelligence community, national security aides and government health officials — even as the president played down the crisis.” See also, The ‘Red Dawn’ Emails: 8 Key Exchanges on the Faltering Response to the Coronavirus, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “Experts inside and outside the government identified the threat early on and sought to raise alarms even as President Trump was moving slowly. Read some of what they had to say among themselves at critical moments.”

Abortion providers ask the Supreme Court to intervene after Texas bans procedures citing coronavirus, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “The legal tug-of-war between Texas abortion providers and the state’s leaders who want to ban the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic landed at the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday night. Twice, a Texas district judge has agreed with the providers that the state’s prohibition of medical procedures that are not ‘immediately medically necessary’ cannot be enforced against the time-sensitive and constitutionally protected right to abortion. And twice, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has intervened. In its ruling Friday, the panel said on a 2-to-1 vote that only women who might not be able to receive an abortion before the state’s 22-week limit could receive a waiver. The emergency request was filed to Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., whose purview includes cases from the 5th Circuit. He will probably call for a response from the state, and refer the matter to the full court to decide in the coming days without holding a hearing. Abortion providers, represented by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, among others, said the Supreme Court’s intervention ‘is urgently needed. Virtually all Texas residents with unplanned pregnancies are unable to access early abortion care through medication abortion and must instead wait until they reach a more advanced stage of pregnancy,’ their petition to the court said. ‘Delaying abortions by weeks does nothing to further the state’s interest in combating COVID-19, and indeed runs directly contrary to that interest: individuals will require more health care — even in the short-term — if they remain pregnant than if they have a desired abortion, and some will engage in risky, out-of-state travel in an attempt to access earlier abortion services, thus increasing contagion risks in the midst of a pandemic,’ it said.” See also, Fight Over Texas Abortion Ban Reaches Supreme Court, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “Abortion providers in Texas asked the Supreme Court on Saturday to let their clinics continue to perform some procedures after a federal appeals court temporarily upheld orders from state officials prohibiting most abortions. In their Supreme Court filing, lawyers from Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights said the health crisis did not justify severe restrictions on the constitutional right to abortion. At least medication abortions, which use pills to induce abortions, should be allowed to continue, they said…. In Saturday’s filing, the abortion providers argued that restricting medication abortions didn’t make sense. ‘In denying patients access to medication abortion,’ they wrote, Texas ‘singles out medication abortion as the only oral medication that cannot be provided under the executive order — even though its provision requires no’ protective equipment ‘and delaying it forces patients to undergo more invasive abortion procedures later in their pregnancies or to attempt to travel out of state to access early abortion.'”

White House rejects bailout for U.S. Postal Service battered by coronavirus, The Washington Post, Jacob Borage, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “Through rain, sleet, hail, and even a pandemic, mail carriers serve every address in the United States, but the coronavirus crisis is shaking the foundation of the U.S. Postal Service in new and dire ways. The Postal Service’s decades-long financial troubles have worsened dramatically, as the volume of the kind of mail that pays the agency’s bills — first-class and marketing mail — has withered during the pandemic. The USPS needs an infusion of money, and President Trump has blocked potential emergency funding for the agency that employs around 600,000 workers, repeating instead the false claim that higher rates for Internet shipping companies Amazon, FedEx and UPS would right the service’s budget. Trump threatened to veto the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, if the legislation contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency, according to a senior Trump administration official and a congressional official who, like others in this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity.” See also, Trump reportedly rejected approving a bailout package that would rescue the US Postal Service, and it could be a disaster for states trying to expand voting by mail, Business Insider, Grace Panetta, published on Sunday, 12 April 2020: “The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the United States has plunged the US Postal Service into dire financial straits, as more Americans than ever rely on post offices to deliver necessary medicine and supplies, especially in underserved rural areas. And as the coronavirus crisis has pushed over a dozen states to postpone their presidential primaries, move to conduct them entirely by mail, or both, the Postal Service’s lack of funding could impact ongoing and upcoming 2020 elections by harming states’ efforts to expand absentee voting and vote-by-mail.”

How Europe manages to keep a lid on coronavirus unemployment while it spikes in the U.S., The Washington Post, Michael Birnbaum, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “The coronavirus pandemic is sending U.S. unemployment figures to levels that could rival the Great Depression. In Washington, that might feel like the inevitable consequence of a health crisis that has forced a sudden halt to much of the economy. But the situation across the Atlantic suggests the dramatic rise in U.S. unemployment — with 17 million people filing for benefits in the past four weeks — is a choice.”

Trump administration has many task forces–but still no plan for beating covid-19, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “The Trump administration still has no clear plan for ending the coronavirus crisis, but it does have many task forces. There is the official task force led by Vice President Pence that meets daily and is supposed to oversee the government’s sprawling response to the pandemic that has cratered the economy and, as of Saturday, killed more than 20,000 in the United States alone. There is the ‘Opening Our Country Council,’ an economic task force announced Friday that is focused on reopening portions of the economy as quickly as possible. There is the group that reports directly to President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, a cadre dismissively dubbed ‘the shadow task force’ that helps Kushner with his roving list of virus troubleshooting. And there is also the ‘doctors group,’ a previously unreported offshoot of the original task force that huddles daily to discuss medical and public health issues, created in part to push back against demands that the health experts view as too reckless. In theory, the task forces are all working toward the same goal: defeating the novel coronavirus and getting the nation back to work — and life — as quickly as possible. But the reality is far more complicated: a bureaucratic nesting doll of groups with frequently competing aims and agendas.”

Dumped Milk, Smashed Eggs, Plowed Vegetables: Food Waste of the Pandemic. With restaurants, hotels, and schools closed, many of the nation’s largest farms are destroying millions of pounds of fresh goods that they can no longer sell. The New York Times, David Yaffe-Bellany and Michael Corkery, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “In Wisconsin and Ohio, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer has dug huge ditches to bury 1 million pounds of onions. And in South Florida, a region that supplies much of the Eastern half of the United States with produce, tractors are crisscrossing bean and cabbage fields, plowing perfectly ripe vegetables back into the soil. After weeks of concern about shortages in grocery stores and mad scrambles to find the last box of pasta or toilet paper roll, many of the nation’s largest farms are struggling with another ghastly effect of the pandemic. They are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell. The closing of restaurants, hotels and schools has left some farmers with no buyers for more than half their crops. And even as retailers see spikes in food sales to Americans who are now eating nearly every meal at home, the increases are not enough to absorb all of the perishable food that was planted weeks ago and intended for schools and businesses…. Many farmers say they have donated part of the surplus to food banks and Meals on Wheels programs, which have been overwhelmed with demand. But there is only so much perishable food that charities with limited numbers of refrigerators and volunteers can absorb. And the costs of harvesting, processing and then transporting produce and milk to food banks or other areas of need would put further financial strain on farms that have seen half their paying customers disappear.”

As the federal government plays ‘backup,’ states take unorthodox steps to compete in cutthroat global market for coronavirus supplies, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Chelsea Janes, Saturday, 11 April 2020: “Rushing to stave off a shortage of medical-grade protective gear to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Minnesota officials leaned on a local company’s global connections to airlift a cache of N95 masks from a Chinese factory back to the state for delivery this week. Washington state purchased 750,000 cotton swabs for coronavirus tests, taking a risk because the product located by officials has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The state is also betting that a Seattle-based outdoor gear company, known for its backpacks and parkas, can reconfigure its operations to produce N95 respirators. And California, acting as a ‘nation state’ in the words of the governor, began buying 200 million masks per month to shore up supplies in that state and, potentially, across the country. Elsewhere, some governors and lawmakers have watched in disbelief as they have sought to close deals on precious supplies, only to have the federal government swoop in to preempt the arrangements. Officials in one state are so worried about this possibility that they are considering dispatching local police or even the National Guard to greet two chartered FedEx planes scheduled to arrive in the next week with millions of masks from China, according to people familiar with the planning. These people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, asked that their state not be identified to avoid flagging federal officials to their shipment. As the Trump administration assumes what the president has called a ‘backup’ role in distributing supplies to fight the pandemic, state governments are taking extraordinary — and often unorthodox — steps to compete in an increasingly cutthroat global marketplace.”


Sunday, 12 April 2020, Day 1,178:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 12 April 2020: Britain Surpasses 10,000 Coronavirus Deaths as Boris Johnson Leaves Hospital; Pope Francis Speaks of ‘Contagion of Hope.’ Lockdowns are beginning to lift in Europe, under intense debate. Israel’s prime minister and president are under fire for breaking their own lockdown rules. The New York Times, Sunday, 12 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are covered in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates on Sunday, 12 April 2020: Trump Signals Frustration With Dr. Anthony Fauci Amid Criticism of Trump’s Slow Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak, The New York Times, Sunday, 12 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates on Sunday, 12 April 2020: Coronavirus Kills 758 in New York, but Data Suggest Spread Is Slowing, The New York Times, Sunday, 12 April 2020:

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, 12 April 2020: Some churches defy coronavirus restrictions on Easter; expert warns infections could spike again if U.S. opens by May 1, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Marisa Iati, Hannah Knowles, Teo Armus, Meryl Kornfield, Kim Bellware, Shibani Mahtani, and Timothy Bella, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “Easter ceremonies on Sunday looked as they never have before, with coronavirus restrictions discouraging or banning large-scale gatherings, including at churches. Some pastors went forward with in-person services. Meanwhile, debate about how and when to reopen the United States continued as the creator of an influential model predicted a resurgence in cases if rules ease on May 1, while the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases said some restrictions could begin to be lifted next month.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Pope Francis, in a Sunday letter to Catholic religious communities and groups, said the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus ‘may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.’
  • Former vice president Joe Biden outlined his plan to reopen the country in a Sunday New York Times op-ed, emphasizing a need for continued social distancing. In hard-hit New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was too early to predict timing for a return to normalcy.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, perhaps the world’s best-known coronavirus patient, was released from a London hospital nearly a week after entering the intensive care unit.
  • A special envoy to the World Health Organization said the virus may be a health threat that ‘stalks the human race for quite a long time.’
  • Spain warned that confinement would continue even as the nation’s strict lockdown ends Monday. Italy reported its lowest number of new deaths since March 19.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump Lashes Out at Dr. Anthony Fauci Amid Criticism of Trump’s Slow Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “President Trump publicly signaled his frustration on Sunday with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, after the doctor said more lives could have been saved from the coronavirus if the country had been shut down earlier. Mr. Trump reposted a Twitter message that said ‘Time to #FireFauci’ as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 people in the United States. The president privately has been irritated at times with Dr. Fauci, but the Twitter post was the most explicit he has been in letting that show publicly.” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci says earlier Covid-19 mitigation efforts would have saved more lives of people in the U.S., CNN Politics, Devan Cole, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that calls to implement life-saving social distancing measures faced ‘a lot of pushback’ early in the US coronavirus outbreak and that the country is now looking for ways to more effectively respond to the virus should it rebound in the fall. ‘I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,’ Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on ‘State of the Union’ when asked if social distancing and stay-at-home measures could have prevented deaths had they been put in place in February, instead of mid-March. ‘Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those decisions is complicated,’ added Fauci, who is a key member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force. ‘But you’re right, I mean, obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.'” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci confirms New York Times report that Trump rebuffed social distancing advice, The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “Prominent US public health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci appeared on Sunday to confirm a bombshell New York Times report which said he and other Trump administration officials recommended the implementation of physical distancing to combat the coronavirus in February, but were rebuffed for almost a month.”

10 times Trump and his administration were warned about coronavirus, Axios, Ursula Perano, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “Trump’s tone on the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shifted in the last month as the illness has swept across the U.S., which has now reported more confirmed cases than any country in the world. Reporting from Axios, the New York TimesWashington PostAP and other media outlets has revealed that Trump and his administration were repeatedly warned about the threat that the virus could pose to American lives and the economy. Earlier action could have curbed the spread. The first case of COVID-19 reached the U.S. on Jan. 15. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 11. Trump declared the U.S. outbreak a national emergency on March 13.

  1. On Jan. 18, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar first briefed Trump on the threat of the virus in a phone call, the New York Times reports. Trump made his first public comments about the virus on Jan. 22, saying he was not concerned about a pandemic and that ‘we have it totally under control.’
  2. On Jan. 27, White House aides met with then-acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to try to get senior officials to take the virus threat more seriously, the Washington Post reports. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, warned it could cost Trump his re-election.
  3. On Jan. 29, economic adviser Peter Navarro warned the White House in a memo addressed to the National Security Council that COVID-19 could take more than half a million American lives and cause nearly $6 trillion in economic damage.
  4. On Jan. 30, Azar warned Trump in a subsequent call that the virus could become a pandemic and that China should be criticized for its lack of transparency, per the Times. Trump dismissed Azar as alarmist and rejected the idea of criticizing China.
  5. Also on Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health emergency. WHO has only done so five times since gaining that power in 2005.
  6. On Feb. 5, senators urged the administration in a briefing to take the virus more seriously and asked if additional funds were necessary. The administration made no requests at the time for emergency funding.
  7. On Feb. 14, a memo was drafted by health officials in coordination with the National Security Council that recommended the targeted use of ‘quarantine and isolation measures,’ per the Times. Officials planned to present Trump with the memo when he returned from India on Feb. 25, but the meeting was canceled.
  8. On Feb. 21, the White House coronavirus task force conducted a mock exercise of the pandemic. The group concluded that the U.S. would need to implement aggressive social distancing, even if it caused mass disruption to the economy and American lives, per the Times.
  9. On Feb. 23, Navarro doubled down on his warnings in another memo, this time addressed to the president, stating that up to 2 million Americans could die of the virus.
  10. On Feb. 25, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonnier publicly warned of the virus threat and said ‘we need to be preparing for significant disruption in our lives.’ Trump reportedly called Azar fuming that Messonnier had scared people unnecessarily and caused the stock market to plummet, per the Times.”

Small Chloroquine Study in Brazil Is Halted Over Risk of Fatal Heart Complications, The New York Times, Katie Thomas and Knvul Sheikh, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “A small study in Brazil was halted early for safety reasons after coronavirus patients taking a higher dose of chloroquine developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia. Chloroquine is closely related to the more widely used drug hydroxychloroquine. President Trump has enthusiastically promoted them as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus despite little evidence that they work, and despite concerns from some of his top health officials. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to allow hospitals to use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine from the national stockpile if clinical trials were not feasible. Companies that manufacture both drugs are ramping up production.”

People Are Buying Stamps and Praising Mail Carriers After the US Postal Service Said It Needs a Coronavirus Bailout, BuzzFeed News, Lam Thuy Vo, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the US Postal Service said that it’s seen a ‘devastating’ drop in revenue and needs funding from Congress to ensure it can keep delivering letters and packages to the millions of Americans currently sheltering at home. But so far, the USPS hasn’t received cash in the stimulus plans aimed at propping up other types of US businesses — prompting some people on Sunday to show support by buying stamps, sharing tributes to mail carriers, and starting discussions about why the mail is such an important part of American life.”

Oil Nations, Prodded by Trump, Reach Deal to Slash Production, The New York Times, Clifford Krauss, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “Oil-producing nations on Sunday agreed to the largest production cut ever negotiated, in an unprecedented coordinated effort by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States to stabilize oil prices and, indirectly, global financial markets. Saudi Arabia and Russia typically take the lead in setting global production goals. But President Trump, facing a re-election campaign, a plunging economy and American oil companies struggling with collapsing prices, took the unusual step of getting involved after the two countries entered a price war a month ago. Mr. Trump had made an agreement a key priority. It was unclear, however, whether the cuts would be enough to bolster prices. Before the coronavirus crisis, 100 million barrels of oil each day fueled global commerce, but demand is down about 35 percent. While significant, the cuts agreed to on Sunday still fall far short of what is needed to bring oil production in line with demand.”

Virginia governor Ralph Northam makes Election Day a holiday and expands early voting, CNN Politics, Paul LeBlanc, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that he signed a series of new measures into law aimed at expanding access to voting in the commonwealth. The new legislation will establish Election Day as a holiday, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot and, expand early voting to be allowed 45 days before an election without a stated reason. ‘Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,’ Northam said in a statement. ‘No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.'” See also, Virginia’s New Laws on L.G.B.T. Protections, Guns, and Marijuana Reflect a Shift in Power, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, published on Monday, 13 April 2020: “The leftward transformation of Virginia since President Trump was elected crescendoed over the weekend, with the governor signing into law protections for L.G.B.T. residents, gun background checks, no jail time for simple marijuana possession and early voting. The flurry of new measures enacted by Gov. Ralph S. Northam, a Democrat, came five months after members of his party took control of the Legislature back from Republicans for the first time in more than 20 years. Mr. Northam had been facing a deadline of midnight Saturday for signing bills into law.”

Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden. Ms. Reade, a former Senate aide, has accused Mr. Biden of assaulting her in 1993 and says she told others about it. A Biden spokeswoman said the allegation is false, and former Senate office staff members do not recall such an incident. The New York Times, Lisa Lerer and Sydney Ember, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “A former Senate aide who last year accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of inappropriate touching has made an allegation of sexual assault against the former vice president, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee this fall. The former aide, Tara Reade, who briefly worked as a staff assistant in Mr. Biden’s Senate office, told The New York Times that in 1993, Mr. Biden pinned her to a wall in a Senate building, reached under her clothing and penetrated her with his fingers. A friend said that Ms. Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time. Another friend and a brother of Ms. Reade’s said she told them over the years about a traumatic sexual incident involving Mr. Biden. A spokeswoman for Mr. Biden said the allegation was false. In interviews, several people who worked in the Senate office with Ms. Reade said they did not recall any talk of such an incident or similar behavior by Mr. Biden toward her or any women. Two office interns who worked directly with Ms. Reade said they were unaware of the allegation or any treatment that troubled her…. No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.” See also, NY Times Deletes Tweet After Outcry Over Framing of Report on Allegation of Sexual Misconduct Against Biden, Mediaite, Ken Meyer, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “The New York Times drew criticism on Sunday for how it framed a story about former Vice President Joe Biden and an allegation of sexual assault against him. The Times published an article on Sunday examining the allegation of Tara Reade, who claims that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 when he was a U.S. senator. The new allegation is a step up from Reade’s previous claims against Biden: she was among the eight women who said he had inappropriately touched them…. The article [says] that Times reporters looked into Reade’s allegation. They note her differing versions of Biden’s actions, her past praise for Biden’s advancement of the Violence Against Women Act, and their search for corroborating evidence against the former vice president. After reaching out to sources, conducting interviews and reviewing various documents, the Times wrote that ‘no other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.’ That line from the Times about Reade’s accusations was stealth-edited from a previous version. Initially, the report stated there was no evidence of a pattern of misconduct by Biden ‘beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.’ That is now removed from the Times story. The Times also deleted a tweet including the same language.” See also, Sexual assault allegation by former Biden Senate aide Tara Reade emerges and draws denial from Biden’s campaign, The Washington Post, Beth Reinhard, Elise Viebeck, Matt Viser, and Alice Crites, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “A California woman who last year said Joe Biden touched her neck and shoulders when she worked in his Senate office in 1993 is now accusing him of sexually assaulting her that year in a semiprivate area of the Capitol complex, an allegation the Biden campaign strongly denies. The Washington Post has been examining Tara Reade’s allegation over the past three weeks, since she said on a podcast that Biden had pinned her against a wall, reached under her skirt and pushed his fingers inside her. At the time, she was a 29-year-old staff assistant. The Post has interviewed Reade on multiple occasions — both this year and last — as well as people she says she told of the assault claim and more than a half-dozen former staffers of Biden’s Senate office…. The former vice president has been accused of unwanted hugging and other physical contact, but The Post found no other allegations against him as serious as Reade’s. More than a dozen women, by contrast, have accused Trump of forced kissing, groping or sexual assault, and he has been recorded on audio boasting about grabbing women between their legs.”

Study: Nearly a third of people in the US believe a conspiracy theory about the origins of the coronavirus, Vox, Aja Romano, Sunday, 12 April 2020: “As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, misinformation is spreading along with it. And one of the most common misunderstandings people have about Covid-19 is where it came from. While scientists are still researching the virus’s origins, at the moment, experts believe that Covid-19 likely came to humans from bats through an unknown intermediate animal. But a recent Pew study found nearly 30 percent of Americans believe something else — namely, the conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was created by humans in a laboratory. And nearly a quarter of those surveyed believed humans created Covid-19 intentionally. The results of the poll may seem startling, but it also reflects just how difficult it’s been to convey accurate information about the pandemic clearly to those who need it the most.”


Monday, 13 April 2020, Day 1,179:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 13 April 2020: Lockdowns in France and U.K. Expected to Last Into Next Month. President Vladimir V. Putin said Russia’s outbreak was bad and getting worse. In war-torn Libya, residents faced a dire choice: stay home or flee missiles. The New York Times, Monday, 13 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates on Monday, 13 April 2020: Trump Insists He Has ‘Total’ Authority to Supersede Governors, The New York Times, Monday, 13 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 13 April 2020: ‘Worst Is Over,’ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Says as 7 States Ally to Reopen Economy. The announcement of a team effort to ease restrictions that have halted most aspects of life coincided with hopeful signs about the coronavirus’s spread. The New York Times, Monday, 13 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 13 April 2020: The Supply Chain for Food Is Stressed, The New York Times, Monday, 13 April 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 13 April 2020: Governors team up to decide when to lift coronavirus restrictions; Trump says he won’t fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Katie Mettler, Meryl Kornfield, Teo Armus, John Wagner, and Adam Taylor, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Governors across six states in the Northeast, from Rhode Island to Delaware, convened in a public conference call Monday afternoon to discuss a cooperative effort to reopen the region’s economy once the threat from the coronavirus has sufficiently subsided. The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced a similar initiative. Pressed on the question of when to reopen the U.S. economy, Trump claimed he has the final word on the issue — even though the decision is actually up to the states. ‘When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total,’ Trump said, incorrectly, when asked what power he believes he has as president to restart the economy.

Here are some significant developments:
  • The Trump administration informed Congress that it wants to delay all U.S. census field operations by about three months because of the coronavirus pandemic and is pursuing further delays that could upend redistricting.
  • China reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases since early March, most of them involving people returning from other countries. The uptick heightened fears of a second wave and led to new constraints on travel.
  • Trump dismissed concerns that he was going to fire Anthony S. Fauci, a leader on the White House task force, after he retweeted a message Sunday night that included the hashtag ‘FireFauci.’
  • A sailor assigned to the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt has died of covid-19 complications, the Navy said.
  • The CIA privately advised its workforce that taking hydroxycholoroquine, a drug that President Trump has been championing as a promising treatment for coronavirus, has potentially dangerous side effects, including sudden death.
  • France’s national coronavirus lockdown will continue until May 11, President Emmanuel Macron announced. After that point, restrictions will only be partially released.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Upset Victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Gives Democrats a Lift, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Democrats scored a significant victory in Wisconsin on Monday night when a liberal challenger upset a Trump-backed incumbent to win a State Supreme Court seat, a down-ballot race that illustrated strong turnout and vote-by-mail efforts in a presidential battleground state. The victory, by upward of 120,000 votes as of Monday night, came as a shock to Republicans and Democrats alike in Wisconsin, where the most recent contests for president, governor and the state’s high court have each been decided by about 30,000 votes or less. It followed weeks of Democratic anger over Republicans’ insistence on holding elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.” See also, How a Supreme Court Decision Curtailed the Right to Vote in Wisconsin, The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The Wisconsin spring elections were less than a week away, and with the state’s coronavirus death toll mounting, Democrats were challenging Republican plans to hold the vote as scheduled. In an emergency hearing, held via videoconference, John Devaney, a lawyer for the Democrats, proposed a simple compromise: Extend the deadline for mail ballots by six days past Election Day, to April 13, to ensure that more people could vote, and vote safely…. The presiding federal judge, William M. Conley, agreed, pointing out that clerks were facing severe backlogs and delays as they struggled to meet surging demand for mail-in ballots. Yet with hours to go before Election Day, the Supreme Court reversed that decision along strict ideological lines, a decision based in large part on the majority’s assertion that the Democrats had never asked for the very extension Mr. Devaney requested in court. It was the first major voting-rights decision led by the court’s conservative newest member, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and it was in keeping with a broader Republican approach that puts more weight on protecting against potential fraud — vanishingly rare in American elections — than the right to vote, with limited regard for the added burdens of the pandemic. When the state released its final vote tallies on Monday, it was clear that the decision — arrived at remotely, so the justices would not have to brave the Covid-19 conditions — had resulted in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, forced several thousand more to endanger their lives at polls and burdened already strained state health officials with a grim new task: tracking the extent to which in-person voting contributed to the virus’s spread in the state, a federal disaster area.” See also, Liberal challenger defeats conservative incumbent in Wisconsin Supreme Court race, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and David Weigel, published on 14 April 2020: “A liberal challenger easily defeated the conservative incumbent for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a key race at the heart of Democratic accusations that Republicans risked voters’ health and safety by going forward with last week’s elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. Jill Karofsky beat Daniel Kelly, whom then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) appointed to the state’s high court in 2016. Trump endorsed Kelly and on Election Day urged Wisconsin voters ‘to get out and vote NOW’ for the justice. With 99 percent of returns counted, Karofsky led Kelly by more than 163,000 votes, or nearly 11 percentage points — a substantial victory for Democrats in a state expected to be a key battleground in November.”

Bernie Sanders Endorses Joe Biden for President, The New York Times, Sydney Ember and Katie Glueck, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the Democratic nominee for president on Monday, adding the weight of his left-wing support to Mr. Biden’s candidacy and taking a major step toward bringing unity to the party’s effort to unseat President Trump in November. The decision by Mr. Sanders to back his former rival is an unmistakable signal to his supporters — who are known for their intense loyalty — that they should do so as well, at a moment when Mr. Biden still faces deep skepticism from many younger progressive voters. In a surprise joint appearance over live-streamed video, the two men revealed a rapprochement forged amid extraordinary circumstances just five days after Mr. Sanders withdrew, a sign of how profoundly the coronavirus pandemic has changed the race. The uncertainty caused by the virus, the vast damage to the American economy and the fervent desire to deprive Mr. Trump of a second term prompted an earlier-than-expected alliance between two ideological rivals, aimed at bringing together disparate factions of the party. ‘We need you in the White House,’ Mr. Sanders said to Mr. Biden. ‘And I will do all that I can to see that that happens.’ Mr. Biden said: ‘I’m going to need you. Not just to win the campaign, but to govern.'” See also, Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden: ‘We need you in the White House,’ The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Felicia Sonmez, and Michael Scherer, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Sen. Bernie Sanders pledged Monday to vigorously support former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign to defeat President Trump, as the two men presented a unified front in a Democratic Party long riven by ideological divisions. The carefully choreographed show of support was kept secret until Biden, a moderate, introduced the democratic socialist from Vermont during a live-streamed event billed as an address on the coronavirus crisis. It came five days after Sanders bowed out of the race — and much sooner than 2016, when it took Sanders weeks to get behind Hillary Clinton.”

Trump Turns Daily Coronavirus Briefing Into a Defense of His Record, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Annie Karni, Monday, 13 April 2020: “President Trump turned Monday’s daily coronavirus task force briefing into an aggressive defense of his own halting response to the pandemic and used a campaign-style video to denounce criticism that he moved too slowly to limit the deadly spread of the virus. For nearly an hour, Mr. Trump vented his frustration after weekend news reports that his own public health officials were prepared by late February to recommend aggressive social distancing measures, but that the president did not announce them until several weeks later — a crucial delay that allowed the virus to spread.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo Says the ‘Worst Is Over,’ as States Snub Trump on Restarting the Economy, The New York Times, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jesse McKinley, Monday, 13 April 2020: “With the number of new deaths and rate of hospitalizations falling in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday that ‘the worst is over’ in the coronavirus pandemic, and he announced an alliance with six other Northeastern governors to explore how to eventually lift restrictions — a move that appeared to be an implicit rebuke to President Trump. The governors from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island said they would begin to draw up a plan for when to reopen businesses and schools, and how quickly to allow people to return to work safely, although the timeline for such a plan remained unclear.”

Trump Leaps to Call the Shots on Combating Coronavirus, Setting Up Standoff With Governors, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 13 April 2020: “There once was a time when President Trump made clear that governors were the ones mainly responsible for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. But that was Sunday. On Monday, he declared that he was really in charge and would make the decision about when and how to reopen the country. The president’s reversal raised profound constitutional questions about the real extent of his powers and set him once again on a potential collision course with the states. For weeks, he sought to shift blame to the governors for any failures in handling the virus, presenting himself as merely a supporting player. Now as the tide begins to turn, he is claiming the lead role. ‘The president of the United States calls the shots,’ he said at his evening news briefing. ‘They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.’ Asked what provisions of the Constitution gave him the power to override the states if they wanted to remain closed, he said, ‘Numerous provisions,’ without naming any. ‘When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.’ The schism threatens widespread confusion if the president and governors end up at loggerheads over how and when to begin resuming some semblance of normal life in the country once the risk of the virus begins to fade sufficiently. Conflicting orders by Washington and state capitals would leave businesses and workers in the untenable position of trying to decide which level of government to listen to when it comes to reopening doors and returning to their jobs.” See also, Trump says his ‘authority is total.’ Constitutional experts have ‘no idea’ where he got that. The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn and Allyson Chiu, published on Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “When President Trump was asked during Monday’s news briefing what authority he has to reopen the country, he didn’t hesitate to answer. ‘I have the ultimate authority,’ the president responded, cutting off the reporter who was speaking. Trump later clarified his position further, telling reporters, ‘When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be. … It’s total. The governors know that.’ The local leaders, Trump said, ‘can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.’ Trump’s eyebrow-raising assertions about the reach of his office during national emergencies, which were also echoed by Vice President Pence at the briefing, came on the same day governors on both coasts announced their own plans to begin working toward reopening their states amid the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. While the president appears convinced he is the only one empowered to make the critical determination, his extraordinary assertions of authority over the states astounded legal scholars, leaving them wondering, as they have before about Trump’s broad claims, where on earth he got them. ‘You won’t find that written in the Federalist Papers anywhere,’ Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Washington Post. Not only does the power Trump asserted have no basis in reality, experts said, but it’s also completely antithetical to the Constitution, the concept of federalism and separation of powers — whether during a time of emergency or not. ‘This isn’t ancient Rome where there’s a special law that says in the event of an emergency all the regular rules are thrown out the window and one person, whom they called the dictator, gets to make the rules for the duration of the emergency or for a period of time,’ Chesney said. ‘We don’t have a system like that.’ On Twitter, Steve Vladeck, another professor at the University of Texas School of Law, rebutted Trump’s ‘authority is total’ remark. ‘Nope,’ Vladeck wrote. ‘That would be the literal definition of a *totalitarian* government.'” See also, Trump’s Claim of Total Authority in Crisis Is Rejected Across Ideological Lines, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, published on Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “President Trump’s claim that he wielded ‘total’ authority in the pandemic crisis prompted rebellion not just from governors. Legal scholars across the ideological spectrum on Tuesday rejected his declaration that ultimately he, not state leaders, will decide when to risk lifting social distancing limits in order to reopen businesses. ‘When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total,’ Mr. Trump asserted at a raucous press briefing on Monday evening. ‘And that’s the way it’s got to be.’ But neither the Constitution nor any federal law bestows that power upon Mr. Trump, a range of legal scholars and government officials said…. The Constitution bestows specific powers on the federal government while reserving the rest to sovereign state governments. None of the enumerated powers given to the federal government directly address control over public health measures, although the Constitution does let Congress regulate interstate commerce. Both a pandemic and social distancing measures that require the closure of businesses, to be sure, affect interstate commerce. But even if the federal government in theory could have more power in this area, it would take an act of Congress to bestow it on the presidency.”

The Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments by Phone. The Public Can Listen In. For the first time, the nation’s highest court will open a live audio feed as it hears arguments in 10 sets of cases. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would hear arguments by telephone over six days in May. In a major break with tradition, the court said it would for the first time allow live remote access to audio of the arguments. Among the cases the justices will hear are three about subpoenas from prosecutors and Congress seeking President Trump’s financial records.” See also, Supreme Court is for the first time to hold arguments via teleconference next month, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The coronavirus pandemic has forced a change at the Supreme Court that justices have long resisted: live audio of the court’s oral arguments, including President Trump’s legal battle to prevent congressional committees and a New York prosecutor from obtaining his financial records.” See also, Supreme Court to Break Tradition and Hold Oral Arguments by Teleconference, The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall, Monday, 13 April 2020.

Supreme Court Asked to Suspend Wealth Test for Green Cards in Light of Virus, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Three states asked the Supreme Court on Monday to revisit a January ruling that allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants who make even occasional and minor use of public benefits like Medicaid. New York, Connecticut and Vermont, along with New York City, asked the justices to temporarily suspend the program in light of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The East Coast, Always in the Spotlight, Owes a Debt to the West, The New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Jonathan Martin, Monday, 13 April 2020: “California, Oregon and Washington have more ventilators than they can use. As the nation struggles to scrounge up the lifesaving machines for hospitals overrun with Covid-19 patients, these three Western states recently shipped 1,000 spares to New York and other besieged neighbors to the East. The ongoing effort of three West Coast states to come to the aid of more hard-hit parts of the nation has emerged as the most powerful indication to date that the early intervention of West Coast governors and mayors might have mitigated, at least for now, the medical catastrophe that has befallen New York and parts of the Midwest and South. Their aggressive imposition of stay-at-home orders has stood in contrast to the relatively slower actions in New York and elsewhere, and drawn widespread praise from epidemiologists. As of Saturday afternoon, there had been 8,627 Covid-19 related deaths in New York, compared with 598 in California, 483 in Washington and 48 in Oregon. New York had 44 deaths per 100,000 people. California had two.”

A Month After Trump’s Declaration of a National Emergency, His Promises Are Largely Unfulfilled, NPR, Tim Mak, Sacha Pfeiffer, Huo Jingnan, Robert Benincasa, Graham Smith, Joseph Shapiro, and Meg Anderson, Monday, 13 April 2020: “One month ago today, President Trump declared a national emergency. In a Rose Garden address, flanked by leaders from giant retailers and medical testing companies, he promised a mobilization of public and private resources to attack the coronavirus. ‘We’ve been working very hard on this. We’ve made tremendous progress,’ Trump said. ‘When you compare what we’ve done to other areas of the world, it’s pretty incredible.’ But few of the promises made that day have come to pass. NPR’s Investigations Team dug into each of the claims made from the podium that day. And rather than a sweeping national campaign of screening, drive-through sample collection and lab testing, it found a smattering of small pilot projects and aborted efforts. In some cases, no action was taken at all.”

Michigan hospital system will test workers’ blood in effort to help reopen country, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The biggest hospital system in Michigan is launching what’s believed to be the nation’s largest test for novel coronavirus antibodies. The study could determine who has already been infected with the virus and may now be immune to it — information that public health officials say is vital to decisions about reopening society. Beaumont Health will test blood samples from its 38,000 employees, as well as thousands of additional physicians and affiliates, officials said in interviews. Participation is voluntary, but officials said they expect many employees will want the test, particularly those working in emergency rooms and intensive care units who are at high risk of contracting the virus. Michigan has the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases of any U.S. state. Many public health officials have advocated such testing on a broad scale to find out how extensively the virus has circulated in the United States and who may have immunity and be able to return to work first.”

Trump’s Trade Adviser Peter Navarro Calls Medical Experts ‘Tone Deaf’ Over Coronavirus Shutdown, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Monday, 13 April 2020: “As the White House debates when and how to reopen the economy, one emerging argument is that an extended shutdown could pose a more dire long-term health threat to the United States than the coronavirus itself. Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser who is now coordinating the country’s medical supply chain, is warning that a prolonged shutdown of nonessential commerce could result in a broad range of negative health effects that he contends medical experts are ignoring in their efforts to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases…. Mr. Navarro was one of the first among President Trump’s advisers to warn about the economic costs of a pandemic. In memos that he wrote in January and February that circulated in the West Wing, Mr. Navarro warned that the coronavirus was a crisis that could inflict trillions of dollars in economic damage and take millions of lives.”

Who’s getting these hundreds of billions in government aid? For now, the public may be in the dark, The Washington Post, Peter Whoriskey and Heather Long, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The names of businesses that collectively will receive hundreds of billions of dollars in coronavirus relief from the federal government may not be disclosed publicly, and critics say that could make the massive spending program vulnerable to fraud and favoritism. The $2 trillion Cares Act approved by President Trump last month requires that the names of recipients of some forms of federal aid be published, but those requirements do not extend to significant portions of the relief. Chief among the omissions is the $349 billion expected to be doled out to small companies in chunks as large as $10 million. The rescue legislation does not compel the Small Business Administration to disclose the recipients. So far, the agency said, it has received about 487,000 applications seeking a total of $125 billion.”

Inside the Denial and Dysfunction of Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force: Missed warnings, conflicting messages, and broken promises–how the Trump administration fumbled its response to the worst pandemic in a century, Rolling Stone, Andy Kroll, Monday, 13 April 2020: “If you were to write a playbook for how not to prevent a public-health crisis, you would study the work of the Trump administration in the first three months of 2020. The Trump White House, through some combination of ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence, failed to heed the warnings of its own experts. It failed to listen to the projections of one of its own economic advisers. It failed to take seriously what has become the worst pandemic since the 1918 flu and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And when the White House finally awoke to the seriousness of COVID-19, the response it mustered managed to contain all the worst traits of this presidency. Trump and his closest aides have ignored scientists, enlisted family members and TV personalities and corporate profiteers for help, and disregarded every protocol for how to communicate during a pandemic while spewing misinformation and lies.”

White House denies Trump is considering firing Dr. Anthony Fauci despite his retweet of a hashtag calling for his ouster, The Washington Post, Katie Shepherd, John Wagner, and Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The White House denied Monday that President Trump is considering firing the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, Anthony S. Fauci, after Trump retweeted a message Sunday night that included the hashtag ‘FireFauci’ amid a flurry of Twitter activity responding to criticism of the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak. At Monday’s coronavirus task force briefing, Fauci appeared to walk back his comments to CNN that had prompted a sharp response from Trump, explaining that he had been responding to a ‘hypothetical question’ and was not intending to criticize the president. ‘I can only tell you what I know and what my recommendations were,’ Fauci told reporters. Asked about his claim that there had been ‘a lot of pushback’ to his call for earlier mitigation efforts, Fauci replied, ‘That was the wrong choice of words.’ He also disputed the notion that he had been forced by Trump to clarify his remarks. ‘Everything I do is voluntary,’ Fauci said. ‘Please. Don’t even imply that.'” See also, White House Says Trump Isn’t Firing Dr. Anthony Fauci Over Coronavirus Comments, The Wall Street Journal, Alex Leary and Stephanie Armour, Monday, 13 April 2020: “President Trump isn’t firing Anthony Fauci, the White House said Monday, seeking to extinguish speculation that flared over the weekend after Mr. Trump retweeted a critic who called for the member of his administration’s coronavirus task force to be dismissed after he said lives could have been saved if the government had acted more quickly.” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci Defends Trump, Who Says He Has No Plans to Dismiss Him, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading public health expert on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, sought on Monday to smooth over a growing rift with the president, taking the podium during the task force’s daily briefing to defend Mr. Trump, who has been enraged by reports that he was warned about the potential for a pandemic but oversaw a halting response.”

How false hope spread about hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19, and the consequences that followed, The Washington Post, Elyse Samuels and Meg Kelly, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The world is looking for answers in the search for a treatment for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives across the globe. President Trump has repeatedly touted the anti-malarial medications hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as that much-needed solution. Even before Trump started talking about the drugs, studies abroad sparked interest in them as a potential cure. News about the drugs spread quickly online, percolated to the media and the White House. Scientists have since pointed to major flaws in those original studies and say there is a lack of reliable data on the drugs. Experts warn about the dangerous consequences of over-promoting a drug with unknown efficacy: Shortages of hydroxychloroquine have already occurred, depriving lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients of access to it. Doctors say some patients could die of side effects. Other potential treatments for covid-19 could get overlooked with so much concentration on one option. The Fact Checker video team has reconstructed how the claim spread online and illustrates the troubling consequences of such misleading hope in the drugs.” See also, Anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine touted by Trump was subject of CIA private warning to employees, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Monday, 13 April 2020: “The CIA has privately advised its workforce that taking an anti-malarial drug touted by President Trump and some of his supporters as a promising treatment for the novel coronavirus has potentially dangerous side effects, including sudden death. The warning, featured on a website for CIA employees with questions related to the spread of covid-19, came in late March after public discussion — and promotion by the president — that hydroxychloroquine, administered in concert with the antibiotic azithromycin, might prove effective against the disease.”

Knocked Off Track by Coronavirus, Census Announces Delay in 2020 Count, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Monday, 13 December 2020: “Conceding that its effort to count the nation’s population has been hamstrung by the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau said on Monday it would ask Congress for a four-month delay in delivering the census data used to reapportion the House of Representatives and political districts nationwide. In a news release, the bureau said it would ask that delivery of the final census figures be postponed to April 30, 120 days beyond the existing Dec. 31 deadline. That would mean that state legislatures would get final population figures for drawing new maps as late as July 31, 2021. Delivery of that data normally is completed by the end of March. The bureau also said it would extend the deadline for collecting census data, now Aug. 15, to Oct. 31, and would begin reopening its field offices — which have been shuttered since mid-March — sometime after June 1.”

The Me President: Trump uses pandemic briefing to focus on himself, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Monday, 13 April 2020: “President Trump stepped to the lectern Monday on a day when the coronavirus death toll in the United States ticked up past 23,000. He addressed the nation at a time when unemployment claims have shot past 15 million and lines at food banks stretch toward the horizon. Yet in the middle of this deadly pandemic that shows no obvious signs of abating, the president made clear that the paramount concern for Trump is Trump — his self-image, his media coverage, his supplicants and his opponents, both real and imagined.” See also, Trump Turns Daily Coronavirus Briefing Into a Defense of His Record,The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Annie Karni, Monday, 13 April 2020: “President Trump turned Monday’s daily coronavirus task force briefing into an aggressive defense of his own halting response to the pandemic and used a campaign-style video to denounce criticism that he moved too slowly to limit the deadly spread of the virus. For nearly an hour, Mr. Trump vented his frustration after weekend news reports that his own public health officials were prepared by late February to recommend aggressive social distancing measures, but that the president did not announce them until several weeks later — a crucial delay that allowed the virus to spread.” See also, Trump PR Stunt Falls Flat, as White House Video Exposes His Failure to Prepare for Pandemic, The Intercept, Robert Mackey, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Donald Trump grinned broadly on Monday as he tricked the news networks into broadcasting a taxpayer-funded testimonial to his own leadership, in the form of a video highlight reel of presidential statements on the coronavirus crisis, set to stirring music, unveiled during the president’s 29th daily briefing on the pandemic. The video, which was riddled with errors and deceptively edited, was apparently intended to rebut a damning report on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times that detailed how slow Trump had been to take the threat posed by the virus seriously. While Trump was obviously pleased by the production — he pointed to the screen with a look of smug triumph at several points — he seemed unaware as it was unspooling in the White House briefing room that it contained a fatal flaw that helped reinforce the central argument of The Times report…. The centerpiece of the video was a timeline of actions by Trump and his administration, highlighting the partial ban on travel from China he ordered on January 31, and his declaration of a national emergency on March 13. But, as CBS News correspondent Paula Reid pointed out to Trump after the video ended, there was a huge gap in the timeline: It mentioned absolutely no action by him in February and there was, as the Times had noted, a period of ‘six long weeks’ after the travel restrictions until he ‘finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing.’ In fact, the only entry on the video timeline for February — the month Trump held mass campaign rallies and described criticism of his handling of the virus from Democrats as ‘their new hoax’ — was February 6: ‘CDC Ships First Testing Kits.’ The fact that those test kits were defective, a massive failure at a critical moment, seems like an odd thing to brag about.” See also, Propaganda on full display at Trump’s latest coronavirus task force briefing, CNN Business, Brian Stelter, published on Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Viewers of Monday’s White House briefing on the coronavirus saw a president in meltdown mode, clearly rattled by the reporting of national news outlets. President Trump acted like he is at war with the media instead of Covid-19. His instability was on full display. He attempted to argue against The New York Times’ damning examination of his delayed response to the virus. He threw up smokescreens and tried to point the finger back at the media. He tossed to an anti-media propaganda video, which was partly ripped off from Sean Hannity’s show, and which caused CNN and MSNBC to cut away from the briefing. ‘That was propaganda,’ John King said in no uncertain terms on CNN. ‘That was not just a campaign video. That was propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room.'” See also, CBS reporter Paula Reid questions Trump about what his administration did the entire month of February as the coronavirus was spreading, CNN Politics, Monday, 13 April 2020. See also, CNN had a field day with its chyrons during Trump’s ‘meltdown’ at his coronavirus briefing, Business Insider, Sonam Sheth, Monday, 13 April 2020: “CNN had a remarkable string of chyrons — the headline-esque text used to supplement news broadcasts — after President Donald Trump spent most of Monday’s coronavirus briefing lashing out at his perceived foes — airing a video that was described as propaganda and claiming he had ‘total’ authority as president. ‘Trump melts down in angry response to reports he ignored virus warnings,’ one chyron said. Another said: ‘Angry Trump uses propaganda video, produced by government employees at taxpayers’ expense.’ ‘Trump uses task force briefing to try to rewrite history on coronavirus response,’ another said.”

Latest Bleaching of Great Barrier Reef Underscores Global Coral Crisis, InsideClimate News, Bob Berwyn, Monday, 13 April 2020: “Coral reef bleaching has become more widespread, frequent and lethal in the last two decades, draining the color and life out of underwater coral gardens around the planet and leaving behind huge swaths of sea bottom spiked with ghostly reef skeletons. Throughout the 2000s, grim reports of crumbling, pale corals multiplied, arriving from remote South Pacific atolls, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and, once again this year, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where the overheated Pacific Ocean scalded corals for the third time in five years. The renewed bleaching of the world’s largest reef confirms that coral reefs globally are in big trouble, said scientists, many of whom reported that their dismay has been compounded by government failures to protect collapsing coral-based ecosystems despite decades of warnings.”

‘That was propaganda,’ John King said in no uncertain terms on CNN. ‘That was not just a campaign video. That was propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room.'”


Tuesday, 14 April 2020, Day 1,180:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 14 April 2020: Trump Stops U.S. Funding of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.); U.K. Coronavirus Deaths May Be Higher Than the Official Toll. Confirmed infections neared 2 million, with more than 120,000 dead, and the I.M.F. predicted the worst global downturn since the Great Depression. New York City passed 10,000 fatalities. The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 14 April 2020: Coronavirus Updates: Trump Halts U.S. Funding of the World Health Organization. New York deaths spike as the state releases a revised count, and California explores steps toward reopening. Trump announces his ‘opening the country’ council. The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 14 April 2020: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Insists He Doesn’t Want a Fight With Trump. Governor Cuomo, after appearing on four different television channels to spar with the president, said he wanted to work as partners. The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 14 April 2020: An Airline Bailout Is Taking Shape, The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 April 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, 14 April 2020: Governors of California and Oregon lay out framework to resume public life and business as coronavirus deaths soar, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Kim Bellware, Meryl Kornfield, Teo Armus, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas, and Katie Mettler, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “President Trump announced Tuesday that he instructed his administration to stop funding the World Health Organization until a review is completed on what he calls a mismanagement of the pandemic. The WHO has been criticized for its slow response in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan, but by Jan. 30, the organization declared a global health emergency, after which the president continued to downplay the outbreak and compare it to the flu.

Here are some significant developments:

  • The governors of California and Oregon laid out a framework to resume public life and business, a day after President Trump incorrectly claimed that he is the final arbiter on when the United States will reopen.
  • The U.S. reported more than 2,300 deaths on Tuesday, a new daily high, and total confirmed fatalities surpassed 26,000 with more than 603,000 infections. New York City reported 3,778 additional fatalities, according to the city’s health department, pushing its total beyond 10,000. The city is now including probable covid-19 deaths in its count.
  • Covid-19 checkpoints targeting out-of-state residents in several states, including Rhode Island, Florida and Texas, are drawing complaints and legal scrutiny.
  • More than 9,000 U.S. health-care workers have been infected, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis.
  • The Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name be printed on stimulus checks, a process that is expected to slow their delivery by several days.
  • More than 2,100 U.S. cities are now bracing for budget shortfalls, with many planning cuts and layoffs, according to a new survey.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Criticized for His Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Trump Tries to Shift Blame to the World Health Organization. Trump said he would halt funding for the organization because it caused ‘so much death’ in the way it ‘pushed Chinese misinformation,’ though he himself effusively praised China’s handling of the virus. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Donald G. McNeil Jr., Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “For weeks, President Trump has faced relentless criticism for having overseen a slow and ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to quickly embrace public health measures that could have prevented the disease from spreading. Recent polls show that more Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of the virus than approve. So on Tuesday, the president tried to shift the blame elsewhere, ordering his administration to halt funding for the World Health Organization and claiming the organization made a series of devastating mistakes as it sought to battle the virus. He said his administration would conduct a review into whether the W.H.O. was responsible for ‘severely mismanaging and covering up’ the spread…. In effect, Mr. Trump was accusing the world’s leading health organization of making all of the mistakes that he has made since the virus first emerged in China and then spread rapidly. As of Tuesday, there had been about two million cases of the virus worldwide, and nearly 125,000 deaths. In the United States, there have been over 600,000 cases and 25,000 deaths from the virus.” See also, Trump announces cutoff of new funding for the World Health Organization over coronavirus pandemic response, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Tuesday, 14 April 2020. See also, Trump halts funding to World Health Organization, Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Tuesday, 14 April 2020. See also, U.S. to Cut Funding to World Health Organization Over Coronavirus Response, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia, Tuesday, 14 April 2020. See also, After Trump suspends payments to the World Health Organization (WHO), other countries rally behind the agency, The Washington Post, Rick Noack, published on Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “President Trump’s decision to temporarily suspend payments to the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic triggered international statements of support for the United Nations agency Wednesday. Although some countries share in Trump’s criticism of the WHO, arguing that the agency is unwilling to hold Beijing sufficiently accountable for its mistakes, close U.S. allies said Wednesday that they vehemently disagreed with a suspension of payments and were not planning to follow suit.” See also, Bill Gates, in rebuke of Trump, calls WHO funding cut during the coronavirus pandemic ‘as dangerous as it sounds,’ The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, published on Wednesday, 15 April 2020. See also, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Distances Himself from Trump and Says the US Has a Very Productive Public Health Relationship With the World Health Organization, HuffPost, Jenna Amatulli, published on Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States has had a ‘very productive public health relationship’ with the World Health Organization on the heels of harsh words from President Donald Trump. Dr. Robert Redfield appeared on ‘Good Morning America’ Wednesday, and was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about the president’s controversial decision to halt funding to the WHO during a global pandemic. ‘Did the WHO fail here? Is it wise to suspend funding in the middle of this crisis?’ Stephanopoulos asked. ‘The CDC and WHO have had a long history of working together in multiple outbreaks throughout the world, as we continue to do with this one,’ Redfield said. ‘We’ve had a very productive public health relationship. We continue to have that,’ he said. When pressed on whether or not WHO ‘failed,’ Redfield took a pause and said: ‘I’d like to do the post-mortem on this outbreak once we get through it together.'” See also, Trump turns against the World Health Organization (WHO) to mask his own stark failings on the Covid-19 crisis. The decision to pull funding from the World Health Organization will endanger public health. The Guardian, Julian Borger, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Donald Trump’s declared suspension of funding of the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic is confirmation – if any were needed – that he is in search of scapegoats for his administration’s much delayed and chaotic response to the crisis. The US is the WHO’s biggest donor, with funding over $400m a year in both assessed contributions (membership fees) and donations – though it is actually $200m in arrears. Theoretically the White House cannot block funding of international institutions mandated by Congress. But the administration has found ways around such constitutional hurdles on other issues – by simply failing to disburse funds or apply sanctions, for example.”

After Mocking ‘King’ Trump, Governor Andrew Cuomo Says Coronavirus Pandemic Should Be ‘No-Politics Zone,’ The New York Times, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jesse McKinley, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Since the coronavirus began to ravage New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has used a fine mix of outright flattery and back-room diplomacy to draw down a variety of federal support, preaching nonpartisanship while mostly avoiding direct attacks on President Trump. In a span of about 24 hours this week, however, Mr. Cuomo, more typically known for his bruising political style, appeared to return to his roots. In a frenzy of television appearances on Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo urged the president to avoid being ‘dictatorial.’ He said on CNN that Mr. Trump’s coronavirus response had been ‘schizophrenic.’ About 30 minutes later on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ he compared the president’s daily briefings to ‘a comedy skit,’ while saying no governor should watch them because ‘there’s no value in it.’ Mr. Cuomo’s comments were prompted by Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated claim during a White House news conference on Monday evening that he had ‘total authority’ over the states when it came to reopening the economy. That claim was quickly rebuked by several governors, including Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who heads the National Governors Association. But it was Mr. Cuomo who used the sharpest language, threatening to undo weeks of diplomacy toward the White House.”

Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the nonpartisan congressional body, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “More than 80 percent of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually, according to a report by a nonpartisan congressional body expected to be released Tuesday. The provision, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as ‘pass-through’ entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation. Suspending the limitation will cost taxpayers about $90 billion in 2020 alone, part of a set of tax changes that will add close to $170 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the nonpartisan congressional body.” See also, Millionaires to reap 80% of benefit from tax change in US coronavirus stimulus, The Guardian, Amanda Holpuch, published on Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Millionaires and billionaires are set to reap more than 80% of the benefits from a change to the tax law Republicans put in the coronavirus economic relief package, according to a non-partisan congressional committee. The change – which alters what certain business owners are allowed to deduct from their taxes – will allow some of the nation’s wealthiest to avoid nearly $82bn of tax liability in 2020.”

Trump Announces His ‘Opening the Country’ Council, The New York Times, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “President Trump stood in the Rose Garden on Tuesday evening and recited a list of dozens of prominent business and labor leaders who he said would be advising him in deciding when and how to reopen the country’s economy, even as governors made it clear they will make those decisions themselves. The president’s announcement came after days of confusion about the makeup of what Mr. Trump has described as his ‘Opening the Country’ council. Some business leaders were reluctant to have to defend Mr. Trump’s actions and risk damaging their brands, people with knowledge of the process said…. Mr. Trump was vague about whether those on his list had all agreed to serve on the task force his administration has been struggling to put together over the past week. Some business leaders have been hesitant to attach their names to it in the middle of intense discussions in the White House about who would serve on a formal council, and what its mandate would be. It was also not clear if all of the companies and executives Mr. Trump mentioned had been asked in advance if they would serve in advisory roles to the White House. At least one person on the president’s list, who asked not to be identified for fear of angering the White House, said that no request had been made to join the list and that there had been no advance notice of an announcement.” See also, Trump’s ‘Opening Our Country Council’ Runs Into Its Own Opening Problems, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Kate Kelly, and David Gelles, published on Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Instead of a formal council, the president created several industry groups, and joined four calls with them. But some participants had no notice they would be included, and others could not join in.” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci says ‘We’re not there yet’ on key steps to reopen the economy, Associated Press, Lauran Neergaard and Julie Pace, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation’s economy, adding a dose of caution to increasingly optimistic projections from the White House. ‘We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,’ Fauci said in an interview with The Associated Press. Fauci’s comments come as President Donald Trump and others in the administration weigh how quickly businesses can reopen and Americans can get back to work weeks after the fast-spreading coronavirus essentially halted the U.S. economy. Trump has floated the possibility of reopening some areas by May 1 and said he could announce recommendations as soon as this week.”

Coronavirus testing hits dramatic slowdown in U.S., Politico, David Lim, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “The number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week, even though new infections are still surging in many states and officials are desperately trying to ramp up testing so the country can reopen. One reason for the drop-off may be the narrow testing criteria that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last revised in March. The agency’s guidelines prioritize hospitalized patients, health care workers and those thought to be especially vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly. Health providers have been turning away others in part due to shortages of the swabs used to collect samples.”

There Has Been a Spike in People Dying at Home in Several Cities. That Suggests Coronavirus Deaths Are Higher Than Reported. ProPublica, Jack Gillum, Lisa Song, and Jeff Kao, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “In recent weeks, residents outside Boston have died at home much more often than usual. In Detroit, authorities are responding to nearly four times the number of reports of dead bodies. And in New York, city officials are recording more than 200 home deaths per day — a nearly sixfold increase from recent years. As of Tuesday afternoon, the United States had logged more than 592,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 24,000 deaths, the most in the world, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. But the official COVID-19 death count may, at least for now, be missing fatalities that are occurring outside of hospitals, data and interviews show. Cities are increasingly showing signs of Americans succumbing to the coronavirus in their own beds. ProPublica requested death data from several major metropolitan areas. Its review provides an early look at the pandemic’s hidden toll.”

Small New Study May Provide Clues Into Asymptomatic Carriers of Coronavirus/COVID-19, Forbes, Alice G. Walton, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Part of the problem with managing the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has been the lack of testing—no one knows exactly how many people have had the virus, what percentage of people have mild symptoms, and what percentage are asymptomatic. Generally only those with symptoms severe enough to seek medical treatment have been tested in this country, which only gives a tiny aperture through which to see how the disease actually ‘behaves’ across a population. But a small new study, published as a letter to the editor in The New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian hospital, offers some interesting clues. Because all women coming into the medical center to deliver babies are routinely tested for COVID-19, whether they have symptoms or not, the results provide some degree of understanding into how many people may be positive and symptomatic vs. asymptomatic.”

In unprecedented move, the Treasury Department orders Trump’s name printed on stimulus checks, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “The Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name printed on stimulus checks the Internal Revenue Service is rushing to send to tens of millions of Americans, a process that could slow their delivery by a few days, senior IRS officials said. The unprecedented decision, finalized late Monday, means that when recipients open the $1,200 paper checks the IRS is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, ‘President Donald J. Trump’ will appear on the left side of the payment. It will be the first time a president’s name appears on an IRS disbursement, whether a routine refund or one of the handful of checks the government has issued to taxpayers in recent decades either to stimulate a down economy or share the dividends of a strong one.” See also, Getting a Stimulus Check? Trump’s Name Will Be on It, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “President Trump’s name will appear on the economic stimulus checks that will be mailed to millions of Americans in the coming weeks, the Treasury Department confirmed on Tuesday. The decision to have Mr. Trump’s name on the checks, a break in protocol, was made by the Treasury Department after Mr. Trump suggested the idea to Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, according to a department official. The president’s name will appear in the ‘memo’ section of the check because Mr. Trump is not legally authorized to sign such disbursements.”

Trump made 18,888 false or misleading claims in 1,170 days, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “When we last updated our database of President Trump’s false or misleading claims, it was on Jan. 19, the end of his third year as president. The president’s most frequently repeated false claim was that he presided over the best economy in the history of the United States. The next day, the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus was reported in the United States. So, with this update through April 3, we’ve added a new category — coronavirus — that already has more than 350 items. Much has changed in the world, with stay-at-home orders, massive economic disruption and topsy-turvy securities markets, but one thing has remained constant — the president’s prolific twisting of the truth.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer faces fierce backlash from the more conservative areas of the state over strict stay-at-home order, NBC News, Allan Smith and Erin Einhorn, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed one of the most restrictive stay-at-home orders in the country late last week in hopes of containing the coronavirus outbreak in her state — one of the hardest hit. The backlash has been immense. Michiganders, many from the more conservative areas of the state, believe Whitmer’s latest order went too far. They accused her of stripping them of their constitutional rights. Online, they pledged to protest, signed petitions calling for her recall and joined Facebook groups dedicated to having the order curtailed. Whitmer’s executive action extended her prior stay-at-home order through the end of April and toughened it up. For at least until then, Michiganders won’t be allowed to travel to in-state vacation residences. They are not permitted to use a motor boat. Business restrictions have been tightened, including that large stores must close areas ‘dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint,’ among other measures. Violators could be fined or charged with a misdemeanor, though the practicality of strict enforcement was unclear.”

‘Unbelievable’ Timing: As Coronavirus Rages, Trump Disregards Advice to Tighten Clean Air Rules, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Disregarding an emerging scientific link between dirty air and Covid-19 death rates, the Trump administration declined on Tuesday to tighten a regulation on industrial soot emissions that came up for review ahead of the coronavirus pandemic. Andrew R. Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said his agency will not impose stricter controls on the tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles, known as PM 2.5, a regulatory action that has been in the works for months…. [P]ublic health experts say that the move defies scientific research, including the work of the E.P.A.’s own public health experts, which indicates that PM 2.5 pollution contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually, and that even a slight tightening of controls on fine soot could save thousands of American lives.” See also, Trump officials reject stricter air quality standards, despite link between air pollution and coronavirus risks, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Dino Grandoni, and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “The Trump administration opted Tuesday not to set stricter national air quality standards, despite a growing body of scientific evidence linking air pollution to lethal outcomes from respiratory diseases such as covid-19. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced Tuesday that the agency would maintain the current standards for fine particulate matter, otherwise known as soot, the country’s most widespread deadly pollutant.”

The Department of the Interior (DOI) Is Giving Away our Lands During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), Joshua Axelrod, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “While the public is terrified, grieving, and distracted by a worldwide health emergency and economic collapse, the U.S. government is taking the opportunity to sell our public lands at rock bottom prices. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has defied repeated calls to stop the Trump administration’s reckless public land giveaway to oil and gas companies. Since March 13, when the Trump administration declared a national emergency because of COVID-19, DOI, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has offered up more than 200,000 acres in five different lease sales in Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado. And it is already barreling ahead with preparations for the next round of leases, scheduled for September. BLM manages these lands in the public trust, ostensibly for the benefit and enjoyment of all Americans, but is handing them over to oil and gas companies. This is especially troubling at a time when the public has little if any ability to monitor, review, and protest BLM’s actions. BLM claims that there is no issue with carrying on its business as if nothing is going on, but officials appear to be using the cover of COVID-19 to escape public oversight and put hundreds of thousands of acres into the hands of the fossil fuel industry.”

Navajo Nation Reports More Coronavirus Cases Per Capita Than All But Two U.S. States, HuffPost, Hayley Miller, Tuesday, 14 December 2020: “The Navajo Nation has reported more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per capita than almost every U.S. state, behind only New York and New Jersey, records show. As of Monday, the American Indian nation had recorded 813 infections and 28 deaths linked to the coronavirus on its reservation, which spans roughly 27,000 square miles across portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. There are roughly 332,000 members enrolled in the Navajo Nation in the U.S., according to 2010 census data. About 173,667 people live on the reservation, including Navajos and people of other races, making the number of confirmed cases on the reservation about 468 per 100,000 people. By comparison, New York and New Jersey have recorded 998 cases and 727 cases per 100,000 people, respectively, as of Tuesday. The state with the third-highest number of confirmed infections per capita is Louisiana, which has 451. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation reservation ― the largest American Indian reservation in the country ― surged 367% in two weeks, jumping from 174 on March 31 to 813 on Monday.”

International Monetary Fund Warns of Steepest Recession Since the Great Depression, NPR, Scott Horsley, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “The coronavirus pandemic is likely to trigger the worst recession since the Great Depression — dwarfing the fallout from the financial crisis a dozen years ago, the International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday. It predicts the global economy will shrink 3% this year, before rebounding in 2021. The expected contraction in the U.S. will be almost twice as sharp, the IMF said, with the gross domestic product falling by 5.9% in 2020. The IMF predicts a partial recovery in the U.S. next year, with the economy growing by 4.7%.”

Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check Is Coming. Your Bank Can Grab It. Regulators have given banks the green light to use stimulus funds to pay off debts that individuals owe them. The American Prospect, David Dayen, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “This week, the $1,200 CARES Act payments Congress approved in response to the coronavirus crisis will begin to appear in Americans’ bank accounts. The funds will be wired to eligible recipients who previously authorized the IRS to post their refunds (or Social Security payments) through direct deposit. This will speed relief far more quickly than having the IRS mail a check, which could take up to five months. But the money may not make it into the hands of those who need it to pay bills, buy food, or just survive amid mass unemployment and widespread suffering. Individuals might first have to fend off their own bank, which has just been given the power to seize the $1,200 payment and use it to pay off outstanding debt. Congress did not exempt CARES Act payments from private debt collection, and the Treasury Department has been reluctant to exempt them through its rulemaking authority. This means that individuals could see their payments transferred from their hands into the hands of their creditors, potentially leaving them with nothing.”

Stimulus Oversight Panel Has One Person Trying to Watch $2.2 Trillion Alone, Bloomberg, Joshua Green, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “On April 6, Bharat Ramamurti became the first person named to the Congressional Oversight Commission supposed to police the massive coronavirus relief fund. A former top staffer for Senator Elizabeth Warren, Ramamurti expected to have company — the new law requires congressional leaders to appoint a five-member panel. He’s still waiting. As tens of billions of taxpayer dollars from the $2.2 trillion relief bill begin flowing out the door, Ramamurti remains the lone member appointed to the panel. With no colleagues, no staff, and no office, he’s had to rely on one of the few avenues he has to communicate with the public: his unverified Twitter feed. ‘I’m eager for the commission members to be named and for us to get up and running,’ he says. ‘In the meantime, I’m trying to perform some oversight and use what tools I have available right now to start asking some basic questions. Money is moving around in the blink of an eye and it’s not at all clear what it all means and who it’s helping.'” See also, The Federal Reserve Faces Calls for Bailout Transparency from New Oversight Commission. The Fed has authority to make trillions of dollars in loans. Concern is growing that taxpayers will be in the dark about how the money is being disbursed. The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, published on Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The lone member of the nascent Congressional Oversight Commission created as part of President Trump’s $2 trillion economic stimulus law is calling on the Federal Reserve to release detailed information about which companies receive loans from its emergency lending facilities and how the money is being used. The request comes amid growing concern that disbursements from the giant economic stabilization package will be shrouded in secrecy or used improperly. In recent weeks, the Fed and the Treasury Department have rolled out a half-dozen emergency lending facilities that will allow the Fed to inject $4 trillion into almost every corner of financial markets. But who will be getting what remains murky. In a letter sent on Wednesday to Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, Bharat Ramamurti, the only person appointed to the Congressional Oversight Commission so far, demanded clarity.”

Supreme Court avoids one abortion battle, but new lawsuits are being filed, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Abortion providers in Texas withdrew their request that the Supreme Court step in to stop the state’s effort to restrict the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic, but new legal battles began Tuesday in Louisiana and Tennessee. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Monday night gave abortion rights groups the half-measure they had sought at the high court. It exempted from Texas’s ban on nonessential medical procedures those seeking an abortion induced by medication in the early weeks of pregnancy, and those about to reach Texas’s prohibition of abortion after 22 weeks. But the chess match between conservative state leaders and abortion rights organizations expanded to new states. Republican leaders in Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and Iowa have all limited elective medical procedures, saying they want to preserve hospital beds and medical equipment to fight the spread of covid-19. Abortion providers say the measures cannot be applied to the time-sensitive and constitutionally protected right of a woman to choose an abortion. A compromise was reached in Iowa, and every trial court judge to consider the states’ orders has said they were a pretext for halting abortions.”

Treasury Department and Airlines Reach Agreement on Coronavirus Aid, The Wall Street Journal, Alison Sider and Kate Davidson, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “The biggest U.S. airlines reached an agreement in principle with the federal government on financial assistance aimed at preventing layoffs in an industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury Department said Tuesday that 10 of the 12 largest airlines have told the government they intend to accept assistance from the $2.2 trillion economic relief package passed last month.”

Federal Court Strikes Down Trump Rollback of School Nutrition Rules, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “A federal court has struck down a 2018 Agriculture Department rule that reversed nutrition standards for sodium and whole grains in school meal programs once championed by the former first lady Michelle Obama. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland vacated the rule, concluding that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the 2018 rule differed significantly from the administration’s 2017 interim rule setting up the final standards. The school breakfast and lunch rule is only the latest in a series of Trump administration regulations that have been struck down for violating the legal procedures that Congress set out for approving new regulations.”

Barack Obama Endorses Joe Biden for President, The New York Times, Maggie Astor and Katie Glueck, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Former President Barack Obama emerged from political hibernation on Tuesday to endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr. and urge the Democratic Party — including, explicitly, supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — to unite behind its presumptive presidential nominee in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. In a lengthy video announcing his support, one day after Mr. Sanders himself endorsed Mr. Biden, Mr. Obama praised Mr. Sanders for setting a new agenda for the party and signaled that more progressive ideas would be reflected in Mr. Biden’s campaign going forward. At the same time, he urged fortitude in the face of the coronavirus, sounding less like a campaign-trail endorser at points than a president addressing a nation in crisis. His goal could not have been clearer: to energize the many younger and more progressive voters who dislike or distrust Mr. Biden, and bridge the party’s ideological divisions in a way that he may be uniquely positioned to do. Appealing directly to Mr. Sanders’s supporters, he underscored the pivot Mr. Biden has been trying to make since wrapping up the nomination: from an argument, essentially, for restoring the pre-Trump status quo to an argument that this is insufficient. It is the argument Mr. Sanders and other progressive candidates — like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose call for ‘big structural change’ Mr. Obama overtly echoed — made all along.” See also, ‘Accelerate the Endgame’: Obama’s Role in Wrapping Up the Primary, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Tuesday, 14 April 2020: “Over the past year, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former President Barack Obama practiced a political distancing of sorts, with Mr. Obama maintaining a posture of public neutrality in the Democratic primaries, offering counsel to any candidate who called (most did), and Mr. Biden saying he wanted to win on his own. But with calibrated stealth, Mr. Obama has been considerably more engaged in the campaign’s denouement than has been previously revealed, even before he endorsed Mr. Biden on Tuesday. For months, Mr. Obama had kept in close contact with senior party officials, in hopes of preventing a repeat of the protracted and nasty 2016 primary race. Then, in the weeks after it became clear that Mr. Biden was the party’s near-certain nominee, Mr. Obama — telling a friend he needed to “accelerate the endgame” — had at least four long conversations with his former vice president’s remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Obama’s efforts to ease the senator out of the race played a significant role in Mr. Sanders’s decision to end his bid and endorse Mr. Biden, according to people close to the Vermont independent.”


Wednesday, 15 April 2020, Day 1,181:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 15 April 2020: Worldwide Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 2 Million. As bleak a milestone in the pandemic as the new figures are, unconfirmed cases are believed to be far higher. More than 130,000 people have died from Covid-19. The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 15 April 2020: Experts Say Testing Is Biggest Obstacle to Reopening States, The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 15 April 2020: Virus Is Costing New York City Billions, The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 15 April 2020: Bleak Data Shows Extent of Economic Damage, The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 15 April 2020: More than 2,400 U.S. coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday; officials respond after Trump suspends funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Brittany Shammas, Michael Brice-Saddler, Teo Armus, John Wagner, Meryl Kornfield, and Miriam Berger, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 2 million worldwide on Wednesday, though experts say the virus has in all likelihood infected far more people. The outbreak has spread across all continents except Antarctica, with a known death toll of 120,000 people. Nearly a quarter of the global deaths have been reported in the United States, including more than 2,400 on Wednesday alone as leaders in Washington and around the country grapple with how to safely lift restrictions.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Congressional Democrats allege Trump’s move to defund the World Health Organization is illegal, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Congressional Democrats alleged Wednesday it would be illegal for President Trump to withhold money from the World Health Organization, igniting a dispute that echoed the impeachment showdown over Trump’s delay of security assistance to Ukraine. ‘The president’s halting of funding to the WHO as it leads the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic is senseless. We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. ‘This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,’ Pelosi said. Pelosi’s comments came a day after Trump declared he would suspend payments to the WHO in response to the United Nations agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.” See also, Trump’s move against the World Health Organization is the latest twist in a shifting policy on China, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Anne Gearan, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Having already heaped blame on China for its role in the covid-19 outbreak, President Trump and his allies opened a new front in the campaign this week by targeting the World Health Organization, calling the institution complicit in Beijing’s coverup of the breadth and severity of the pandemic. Critics contend that the White House is employing a cynical strategy, in the middle of a global health and economic crisis, to deflect culpability over Trump’s own mishandling of the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus and create another foil to rally his conservative base ahead of the 2020 presidential election. A fundraising message to supporters Tuesday, sent hours after the president announced the withholding of funds from the WHO, asks for contributions to ‘hold China accountable.’ On Wednesday, Trump accused the agency of willfully doing China’s bidding, at the expense of global health, as he justified the holdup in funding.” See also, Leaked Memo Shows Trump Administration Officials Warned Against Halting Funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), ProPublica, Yeganeh Torbati, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “An internal memorandum written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that cutting funding to the World Health Organization, as President Donald Trump said he would do Tuesday, would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives and hobble global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The memo, which was prepared before Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, was written by officials within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and includes a detailed list of how U.S. funding to the WHO helps countries in the Middle East control the pandemic. A draft version of the memo, which was labeled ‘Sensitive But Unclassified’ and was titled ‘Information Memo for the Secretary,’ was seen by ProPublica. It’s unclear if the memo has been sent to Pompeo, and the draft version reviewed by ProPublica was still unfinished. The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.” See also, In Response to the Trump Administration, the World Health Organization (WHO) Says ‘We Alerted the World’ to Coronavirus on 5 January 2020, NPR, Bill Chappell, Wednesday, 15 April 2020.

What the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Does, and How the U.S. Funding Cuts Could Affect It. Though President Trump’s decision to halt funding centered on the W.H.O.’s response to the coronavirus, the cut could affect programs like polio eradication and developing vaccines. The New York Times, Daniel Victor and Christine Hauser, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “President Trump’s decision to halt funding for the World Health Organization, depriving it of its biggest funding source, could have far-reaching effects in efforts to fight diseases and make health care more widely available across the globe. Mr. Trump’s order centered on the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and he is far from alone in criticizing its actions and statements. Some countries have disregarded the W.H.O.’s efforts as the epidemic has spread, failing to report outbreaks or flouting international regulations. But the W.H.O. is responsible for much more than epidemic response, and it now finds itself financially imperiled by its newfound place in the cross-hairs of American domestic politics.” This article includes answers to some common questions about the organization.

Testing Falls Woefully Short as Trump Seeks an End to Stay-at-Home Orders, The New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Katie Thomas, and Sheila Kaplan, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “As President Trump pushes to reopen the economy, most of the country is not conducting nearly enough testing to track the path and penetration of the coronavirus in a way that would allow Americans to safely return to work, public health officials and political leaders say. Although capacity has improved in recent weeks, supply shortages remain crippling, and many regions are still restricting tests to people who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has ever been infected with the coronavirus, are just starting to be rolled out, and most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration. Concerns intensified on Wednesday as Senate Democrats released a $30 billion plan for building up what they called ‘fast, free testing in every community,’ saying they would push to include it in the next pandemic relief package. Business leaders, who participated in the first conference call of Mr. Trump’s advisory council on restarting the economy, warned that it would not rebound until people felt safe to re-emerge, which would require more screening. And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York reiterated his call for federal assistance to ramp up testing, both for the virus and for antibodies.”

During business panel call Trump is told testing is key to reopening the U.S., CNN Politics, Vivian Salama, Kevin Liptak, Cristina Alesci, and Kaitlan Collins, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “In the first phone call convened between President Donald Trump and some members of his newly formed business council, industry leaders reiterated to the President what public health experts and governors have been telling him for weeks: that there would need to be guarantees of ramped-up coronavirus testing before people return to work, according to one person briefed on the discussions. The call, one of a series with various sectors on Wednesday, was the first task force teleconference aimed at devising a strategy for reopening the country. The call lasted for about an hour and had dozens of participants from the banking, food, hospitality and retail sectors, many of whom lauded the President and his administration for their efforts to combat coronavirus and jump-start the economy, this person said.” See also, Business Leaders Urge Trump to Dramatically Increase Coronavirus Testing, The Wall Street Journal, Michael C. Bender and Andrew Restuccia, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Banking and financial services executives told President Trump that his administration needed to dramatically increase the availability of coronavirus testing before the public would be confident enough to return to work, eat at restaurants or shop in retail establishments, according to people familiar with the matter. The push for more testing came in the first of four Wednesday phone calls that Mr. Trump held with business executives on his newly formed task force to reopen the economy. The president has been intensely focused on the topic amid increasingly dire economic data; Wednesday brought reports that retail sales and U.S. industrial production dropped dramatically in March. No potential dates for easing coronavirus restrictions were discussed, and no follow-up meeting was scheduled. The task force, known formally as the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, includes more than 200 business and political leaders, who have been divided into smaller groups based on their industry. The people involved in the first call, which included executives from banking, financial services, food and beverage, hospitality and retail industries, described current testing levels in the U.S. as inadequate to effectively reopen the economy.”

Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress to Install Nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Demurs. The House and Senate have both taken extended recesses amid the pandemic, convening at least every few days for so-called pro forma sessions to keep their chambers technically in session. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “President Trump, furious over government vacancies he said were hindering his administration’s coronavirus response, threatened on Wednesday to invoke a never-before-used presidential power to adjourn Congress so he could fill the positions temporarily himself. The top Senate Republican, Senator Mitch McConnell, quickly let it be known that would not happen. Days after insisting he had ‘total’ authority to supersede governors’ decisions about whether to reopen their states, Mr. Trump floated the unprecedented step during a White House news conference as he lashed out at Democrats for opposing his nominees. He demanded that Republican leaders immediately call the Senate back into session to confirm them, or take a recess for an extended period of time so he could install stopgap appointees without a vote, a practice known as a recess appointment.” See also, Some news from Wednesday’s White House coronavirus briefing, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 15 April 2020.

Scientists predict US may have to endure physical distancing until 2022 if no vaccine is quickly found, CNN Health, Leah Asmelash and Maggie Fox, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The US may have to endure social distancing measures — such as stay-at-home orders and school closures — until 2022, researchers projected on Tuesday. That is, unless a vaccine or better therapeutics becomes available, or we increase our critical care capacity. In other words, 2022 is one scenario of many. That’s according to researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who published their findings in the journal Science on Tuesday. Those findings directly contradict research being touted by the White House that suggests the pandemic may stop this summer.”

Coronavirus Closures Froze Swaths of U.S. Economy in March, The Wall Street Journal, Harriet Torry and Sarah Nassauer, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Large chunks of the U.S. economy froze in March as the coronavirus pandemic closed malls, restaurants, factories and mines, causing Americans to cut retail spending by a record amount and the country’s industrial output to plunge at the steepest rate in more than 70 years. Retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, gasoline stations, restaurants, bars and online, fell by a seasonally adjusted 8.7% in March from a month earlier, the biggest month-over-month decline since the records began in 1992, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Sales at clothing stores plunged by more than 50%, while spending on motor vehicles, furniture, electronics and sporting goods fell by double digits.” See also, U.S. Retail Sales and Factory Output Posted Historic Declines in March, and Other Figures Showed That the Worst Is Yet to Come, Bloomberg, Katia Dmitrieva and Reade Pickert, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The value of overall retail sales fell 8.7% from the prior month, the biggest decline in records dating back to 1992, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. Federal Reserve figures showed U.S. factory output dropped in March by the most since 1946, just after World War II ended. But surveys in April looked even worse, with manufacturing in New York state and sentiment among U.S. homebuilders plummeting by previously unthinkable amounts.” See also, ‘Pretty Catastrophic’ Month for Retailers, and Now a Race to Survive, The New York Times, Sapna Maheshwari and Ben Casselman, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Retail sales plunged in March, offering a grim snapshot of the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on consumer spending, as businesses shuttered from coast to coast and wary shoppers restricted their spending. Total sales, which include retail purchases in stores and online as well as money spent at bars and restaurants, fell 8.7 percent from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The decline was by far the largest in the nearly three decades the government has tracked the data. Even that bleak figure doesn’t capture the full impact of the sudden economic freeze on the retail industry. Most states didn’t shut down nonessential businesses until late March or early April, meaning data for the current month could be worse still.”

Small-Business Aid Loans Run Dry as Program Fails to Reach Those Who Are Hardest Hit, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Emily Cochrane and Emily Flitter, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “A new federal program to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic is running out of money and falling short in the industries and states most battered by the crisis, risking waves of bankruptcies and millions of additional unemployed workers. Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative created by the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted last month, could be exhausted as early as Wednesday night, meaning that the Small Business Administration would have to stop approving applications. As of Wednesday evening, more than 1.4 million loans had been approved at a value of more than $315 billion, according to the Small Business Administration.” See also, Small-Business Aid Program Set to Run Out of Money, The Wall Street Journal, Kristina Peterson, Wednesday, 15 April 2020.

As the Trump Administration discouraged mask use for the public, the White House team raced to secure face coverings from Taiwan for senior staff, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Elizabeth Dwoskin, and Huhn Hudson, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “In mid-March, a National Security Council team rushed to fix what they saw as a threat to the U.S. government’s ability to function amid the advancing pandemic: a lack of masks to protect enough staff on the White House complex. Alarmed by the small cache and the growing signs of an acute shortage of protective gear in the United States, a senior NSC official turned to a foreign government for help, according to people familiar with the situation. The outreach resulted in a donation of hundreds of thousands of surgical masks from Taiwan, which had plentiful domestic production and had sharply curtailed the spread of the coronavirus on the island. While the bulk of Taiwan’s goodwill shipment went to the Strategic National Stockpile, 3,600 were set aside for White House staff and officials, administration officials said.”

In coronavirus scramble for N95 masks, Trump administration pays premium to third-party vendors, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Desmond Butler, and Nick Miroff, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The Trump administration has awarded bulk contracts to third-party vendors in recent weeks in a scramble to obtain N95 respirator masks, and the government has paid the companies more than $5 per unit, nearly eight times what it would have spent in January and February when U.S. intelligence agencies warned of a looming global pandemic, procurement records show. The N95 masks are essential protective gear for health-care workers and others at elevated risk of coronavirus infection, and the government has recommended that people across the country wear masks and other face coverings when outside. Demand for the masks has created a frenzied, freewheeling global market that has pitted U.S. states against the federal government and rich nations against poorer ones. Administration officials leaped into the fray late, then embarked on a voracious spending spree. Though U.S. federal agencies made a small number of relatively modest purchases before the second half of March, the government has ordered more than $600 million worth of masks since then. Large U.S. companies such as Honeywell and 3M have received the biggest orders, but the Trump administration also has signed high-dollar deals with third-party vendors selling masks for many times the standard price. The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded a $55 million contract for N95s this month to Panthera Worldwide LLC, which is in the business of tactical training. One of its owners said last year that Panthera’s parent company had not had any employees since May 2018, according to sworn testimony. It also has no history of manufacturing or procuring medical equipment, according to a review of records produced as a result of legal disputes involving the company and its affiliates.” See also, The Trump administration paid a bankrupt company with zero employees $55 million for N95 masks. The company, Panthera Worldwide LLC, has no expertise in the world of medical equipment. Business Insider, John Haltiwanger, published on Thursday, 16 April 2020.

Rolling Through the Pandemic: In Detroit, virus or no virus, many people have a job they need to get to and one way to get there. The bus. So while most people are avoiding public spaces, the riders, and drivers, on the No. 17 bus don’t have that luxury. Instead, they help keep the city going, even as they put themselves in harm’s way. The New York Times, John Eligon, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “This hardscrabble city, where nearly 80 percent of residents are black, has become a national hot spot with more than 7,000 infections and more than 400 deaths. One reason for the rapid spread, experts say, is that the city has a large working-class population that does not have the luxury of living in isolation. Their jobs cannot be performed from a laptop in a living room. They do not have vehicles to safely get them to the grocery store. And so they end up on a bus. Just like the No. 17 — a reluctant yet essential gathering place, and also a potential accelerant for a pandemic that has engulfed Detroit. It is a rolling symbol of the disparity in how this virus is affecting Americans.”

‘Lock her up!’: People protesting Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus physical distancing order swarm the Michigan Capitol, NBC News, Allan Smigh, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Thousands of demonstrators descended on the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on Wednesday to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictive stay-at-home order, clogging the streets with their cars while scores ignored organizers’ pleas to stay inside their vehicles. The protest — dubbed ‘Operation Gridlock’ — was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, a DeVos family-linked conservative group. Protesters were encouraged to show up and cause traffic jams, honk and bring signs to display from their cars. Organizers wrote on Facebook: ‘Do not park and walk — stay in your vehicles!’ Many ignored the demand. Demonstrators, on foot, were seen waving American, ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ and Trump campaign flags. At least two Confederate flags were spotted.” See also, Michigan protestors turn against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s strict stay-at-home order. Many demonstrators, some waving Trump campaign flags, ignored organizers’ pleas to stay in their cars and flooded the streets of Lansing, the state capital. Politico, Myah Ward, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan faces harsh criticism from Republicans for her stringent stay-at-home order, hundreds of protesters on Wednesday lined streets in Lansing, the state capital, with some chanting, ‘Recall Whitmer.’… The Facebook event called on attendees to ‘TAKE ACTION IN LANSING’ but ‘Not on foot — STAY in your VEHICLES!’ But many of the demonstrators, some waving Trump campaign flags, ignored the organizers‘ pleas and flooded the streets, according to NBC news. Protesters chanted, ‘Open up Michigan,’ and at one point erupted into a ‘Lock her up’ refrain in reference to Whitmer.” See also, Chanting ‘lock her up,’ Michigan protesters waving Trump flags mass against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions, The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, published on Thursday, 16 April 2020. See also, ‘You Have to Disobey’: Protesters Gather to Defy Stay-at-Home Orders, The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Jeremy W. Peters, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “As governors ponder reducing coronavirus restrictions, rallies largely spurred by talk radio and conservative social media reflect frustrations with limits on commerce.”

Protests erupt outside Kentucky Capitol over Governor Andy Beshear’s handling of coronavirus pandemic, disrupting briefing, Louisville Courier Journal, Morgan Watkins, Joe Sonka, and Jon Hale, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Impatient protesters demanding Gov. Andy Beshear reopen Kentucky disrupted his televised Wednesday afternoon pandemic update, chanting, blowing horns and shouting into a megaphone outside the window of the briefing room and nearly drowning out his comments to Kentuckians. The protest began with just a few people holding signs on the Capitol lawn, but by the time Beshear started to speak, the group numbered about 100 people. Protesters, some of whom appeared to be standing less than 6 feet apart from one another, chanted ‘we want to work’ and ‘facts over fear.’ They yelled non-stop throughout Beshear’s one-hour press briefing, switching up chants and occasionally sounding a horn.”

White House snubs Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and installs Trump loyalist Michael Caputo as HHS spokesperson, Politico, Dan Diamond and Daniel Lippman, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “The White House is installing Trump campaign veteran Michael Caputo in the health department’s top communications position, Caputo confirmed to POLITICO. The move is designed to assert more White House control over Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who officials believe has been behind recent critical reports about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to two officials with knowledge of the move.” See also, Loyal Trump Backer Michael Caputo Is Now a Face of the Administration’s Coronavirus Response, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, and Kenneth P. Vogel, published on Thursday, 16 April 2020: “He attacked allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and wrote a book and produced a documentary during impeachment that were both titled ‘The Ukraine Hoax.’ He has accused former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son of profiting off his father’s name. Now Michael R. Caputo, a longtime Trump loyalist who made a cameo in the Mueller report, has been installed as the public face of the Health and Human Services Department in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.”

US judge cancels permit for Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, Associated Press, Matthew Brown, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “A U.S. judge canceled a key permit Wednesday for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that’s expected to stretch from Canada to Nebraska, another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays. Judge Brian Morris said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species such as pallid sturgeon, a massive, dinosaur-like fish that lives in rivers the pipeline would cross. The ruling, however, does not shut down work that has begun at the U.S.-Canada border crossing in Montana, according to attorneys in the case. Pipeline sponsor TC Energy will need the permit for future construction across hundreds of rivers and streams along Keystone’s 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) route.”

Wall Street Titans Finance Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Democratic Primary Challenger to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Intercept, Lee Fang, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Wall Street titans are financing a direct challenge to firebrand progressive lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the New York primary on June 23. Disclosures show that over four dozen finance industry professionals, including several prominent private equity executives and investment bankers, made early donations to Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC contributor who is challenging Ocasio-Cortez. Caruso-Cabrera was a registered Republican until a few years ago and authored a 2010 book advocating for several conservative positions, including an end to Medicare and Social Security, which she called ‘pyramid schemes.'”

Senator Elizabeth Warren Endorses Joe Biden: ‘When You Disagree, He’ll Listen,’ The New York Times, Maggie Astor and Katie Glueck, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday, becoming the most high-profile progressive woman in the party to try to help the former vice president expand his appeal among liberal voters. Her announcement follows Senator Bernie Sanders’s on Monday and former President Barack Obama’s on Tuesday. Ms. Warren’s support had been a foregone conclusion, but she left the timing of her announcement up to Mr. Biden’s team, according to people familiar with the matter. There was no holdup or demand for concessions, these people said.” See also, Senator Elizabeth Warren endorses former vice president Joe Biden, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed Joe Biden on Wednesday, the latest in a string of high-profile Democratic party leaders to publicly back the party’s presumptive nominee. ‘In this moment of crisis, it’s more important than ever that the next president restores Americans’ faith in good, effective government—and I’ve seen Joe Biden help our nation rebuild,’ Warren said in a tweet. Until this morning, Warren was the highest profile former competitor to remain on the sidelines. Her backing comes after former president Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) threw their support to Biden earlier this week.”

Wildlife Collapse From Climate Change is Predicted to Hit Suddenly and Sooner Than Previously Thought, The New York Times, Catrin Einhorn, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “Climate change could result in a more abrupt collapse of many animal species than previously thought, starting in the next decade if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to a study published this month in Nature. The study predicted that large swaths of ecosystems would falter in waves, creating sudden die-offs that would be catastrophic not only for wildlife, but for the humans who depend on it. ‘For a long time things can seem OK and then suddenly they’re not,’ said Alex L. Pigot, a scientist at University College London and one of the study’s authors. ‘Then, it’s too late to do anything about it because you’ve already fallen over this cliff edge.’ The latest research adds to an already bleak picture for the world’s wildlife unless urgent action is taken to preserve habitats and limit climate change. More than a million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction because of the myriad ways humans are changing the earth by farming, fishing, logging, mining, poaching and burning fossil fuels.”

Trump Wanted a Radio Show, but He Didn’t Want to Compete With Rush Limbaugh, The New York Times, Elaina Plott, Wednesday, 15 April 2020: “On a Saturday in early March, Donald J. Trump, clad in a baseball cap, strode into the Situation Room for a meeting with the coronavirus task force. He didn’t stop by the group’s daily meetings often, but he had an idea he was eager to share: He wanted to start a White House talk radio show. At the time, the virus was rapidly spreading across the country, and Mr. Trump would soon announce a ban on European travel. A talk radio show, Mr. Trump excitedly explained, would allow him to quell Americans’ fears and answer their questions about the pandemic directly, according to three White House officials who heard the pitch. There would be no screening, he said, just an open line for people to call and engage one-on-one with the president. But that Saturday, almost as suddenly as he proposed it, the president outlined one reason he would not be moving forward with it: He did not want to compete with Rush Limbaugh. No one in the room was sure how to respond, two of the officials said. Someone suggested hosting the show in the mornings or on weekends, to steer clear of the conservative radio host’s schedule. But Mr. Trump shook his head, saying he envisioned his show as two hours a day, every day. And were it not for Mr. Limbaugh, and the risk of encroaching on his territory, he reiterated, he would do it.”


Thursday, 16 April 2020, Day 1,182:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 16 April 2020: Britain’s Coronavirus Lockdown Is Extended, and Russian President Vladimir Putin Postpones Military Parade, The New York Times, Thursday, 16 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 16 April 2020: Trump Administration Offers Reopening Guidelines as U.S. Deaths Surge. Trump says he will defer to governors about lifting restrictions. At least 30,000 people in the U.S. have died, and 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in four weeks. The New York Times, Thursday, 16 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 16 April 2020: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Extends Coronavirus Shutdown Order to May 15. New York State recorded its fewest deaths in 10 days, but the governor said more progress was needed before he would lift restrictions. The New York Times, Thursday, 16 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 16 April 2020: China’s G.D.P. Shrank in the First Quarter, The New York Times, Thursday, 16 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 16 April 2020: Trump administration guidelines on reopening the U.S. after coronavirus shutdowns are less detailed than CDC and FEMA guidance, The Washington Post, Teo Armus, Rick Noack, Alex Horton, Michael Brice-Saddler, Candace Buckner, Lateshia Beachum, Colby Itkowitz, and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The White House released new guidance Thursday afternoon for states to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance doesn’t lay out a specific timeline for relaxing social distancing restrictions. It lists a set of criteria — such as testing and hospital capacity — for local leaders to use in making decisions.

Here are some significant developments:

  • China said its economic output fell by an annualized 6.8 percent in the first quarter. That drop marks the first contraction since the country began releasing figures in 1992, showing the devastating economic effects of the pandemic.
  • Glitches are preventing millions of Americans from receiving their stimulus payments on time. Meanwhile, a new lending program for small businesses has stopped accepting claims because it is out of money.
  • Draft guidance on reopening from the CDC and FEMA were detailed about things like day cares, churches and workplaces with vulnerable employees, but those specifics did not make it into the White House guidance. At the Thursday White House briefing, Trump said some states would be able to take the first steps to reopen ‘tomorrow.’
  • The U.S. labor market is tumbling closer to Depression levels, with an additional 5.2 million people filing for unemployment benefits last week. A staggering 22 million Americans have filed jobless claims over the past month.
  • Thousands of complaints have been filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over coronavirus safety lapses, including a lack of masks and working in close quarters.
  • Japan expanded its state of emergency to cover all 47 prefectures as infections spread.
  • British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that his country’s lockdown would be extended for at least three more weeks. And Italy’s Civil Protection Agency announced 525 deaths, increasing the death toll in the country to 22,170.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump’s guidelines for reopening states amid coronavirus pandemic will leave decisions to governors, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “President Trump unveiled Thursday broad guidelines for states to follow as they begin reopening amid the persistent coronavirus pandemic while leaving the specific plans to the governors. The guidance, formally introduced by the president at the evening White House briefing, provides state leaders a phased list of criteria to lift social distancing restrictions. For governors to start the process, they must first show coronavirus cases in their state are decreasing…. Earlier Thursday, Trump explained the parameters to governors on a conference call, assuring them, ‘You’re going to call your own shots,’ according to a recording of the call obtained by The Washington Post. But he emphasized that the federal government will be involved to support the states in the process. Trump’s decision to defer to the governors is a change from his stance earlier this week, when he declared he had ‘total authority’ to unilaterally open the country — a statement that drew blowback from governors and even some congressional Republicans who argued the assertion was contrary to the Constitution.” See also, Trump’s proposed guidelines for relaxing physical distancing guidance, The Washington Post, Thursday, 16 April 2020. See also, As testing outcry mounts, Trump cedes to states in announcing guidelines for slow reopening, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “President Trump released federal guidelines Thursday night for a slow and staggered return to normal in places with minimal cases of the novel coronavirus, moving to try to resume economic activity even amid an outcry from political and health leaders about the nation’s testing capacity…. Trump’s the-buck-stops-with-the-states posture is largely designed to shield himself from blame should there be new outbreaks after states reopen or for other problems, according to several current and former senior administration officials involved in the response who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.” See also, Trump’s Guidelines to Reopen the Economy Put Onus on Governors, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia and Catherine Lucey, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “President Trump outlined broad new federal guidelines for opening up the country that will put the onus on governors to decide how to restart the economies in their states amid mounting fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The new guidelines come as lawmakers and business leaders press the administration to expand virus testing, and days after Mr. Trump said that he—not governors—was the final arbiter on when to reopen the country.” See also, Trump Says States Can Start Reopening While Acknowledging the Decision Is Theirs. The guidelines released by the president effectively mean that any restoration of American society will take place on a patchwork basis. The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael D Shear, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “President Trump told the nation’s governors on Thursday that they could begin reopening businesses, restaurants and other elements of daily life by May 1 or earlier if they wanted to, but abandoned his threat to use what he had claimed was his absolute authority to impose his will on them. On a day when the nation’s death toll from the coronavirus increased by more than 2,000 for a total over 30,000, the president released a set of nonbinding guidelines that envisioned a slow return to work and school over weeks or months. Based on each state’s conditions, the guidelines in effect guarantee that any restoration of American society will take place on a patchwork basis rather than on a one-size-fits-all prescription from Washington that some of the governors had feared in recent days.”

World Health Organization (W.H.O.), Now Trump’s Scapegoat, Warned About Coronavirus Early and Often. The World Health Organization, always cautious, acted more forcefully and faster than many national governments. But President Trump has decided to cut off U.S. funding to the organization. The New York Times, Richard Pérez-Peña and Donald G. McNeil Jr., Thursday, 16 April 2020: “On Jan. 22, two days after Chinese officials first publicized the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, the chief of the World Health Organization held the first of what would be months of almost daily media briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously. But with its officials divided, the W.H.O., still seeing no evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside of China, declined the next day to declare a global public health emergency. A week later, the organization reversed course and made the declaration. Those early days of the epidemic illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of the W.H.O., an arm of the United Nations that is now under fire by President Trump, who on Tuesday ordered a cutoff of American funding to the organization. With limited, constantly shifting information to go on, the W.H.O. showed an early, consistent determination to treat the new contagion like the threat it would become, and to persuade others to do the same. At the same time, the organization repeatedly praised China, acting and speaking with a political caution born of being an arm of the United Nations, with few resources of its own, unable to do its work without international cooperation. Mr. Trump, deflecting criticism that his own handling of the crisis left the United States unprepared, accused the W.H.O. of mismanaging it, called the organization ‘very China-centric’ and said it had ‘pushed China’s misinformation.'”

U.S. now has 22 million unemployed, wiping out a decade of job gains, The Washington Post, Heather Long, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid since President Trump declared a national emergency, a staggering loss of jobs that has wiped out a decade of employment gains and pushed families to line up at food banks as they await government help.” See also, 10 Years of Spectacular U.S. Job Growth Is Nearly Wiped Out in 4 Weeks, NPR, Jim Zarroli and Avie Schneider, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The number of people filing for unemployment climbed by another 5.2 million last week as the toll of the nation’s economic dive amid the pandemic continues to mount. That number is down from the revised 6.6 million in the week that ended April 4, the Labor Department said. But in the past four weeks, a total of 22 million have filed jobless claims — nearly wiping out all the job gains since the Great Recession.”

Small business loan fund from coronavirus stimulus runs out, Axios, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The $349 billion cap for small business loans for the coronavirus stimulus was reached Thursday, taking less than two weeks to run out. While it’s a sign that more than 1.6 million small businesses (and some larger ones) will eventually get desperately needed cash, it’s now officially a sign that more is needed. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are forgivable if used for payroll and rent and similar expenses, and they’re designed to keep otherwise healthy businesses afloat during this crisis.”

USAA, the Large Bank That Primarily Serves Veterans and Military Members, Changes Policy and Will Return Emergency Coronavirus Payments to Customers. The bank had been using the payments to offset existing debts. The American Prospect, David Dayan, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “USAA, the large bank that primarily serves veterans and military members, has changed its policy and will no longer be using emergency CARES Act payments to offset existing debts from individuals. The bank will return all money confiscated from customers under the old policy, including Carrie, the woman whose family lost $3,400 to USAA when their CARES Act payment was placed into an account they thought was closed.” See also, Some Banks Keep Customers’ Stimulus Checks if Accounts Are Overdrawn, The New York Times, Emily Flitter and Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “For some struggling Americans, the arrival of a deposit from the Treasury Department to help with basic expenses like rent and groceries during the coronavirus crisis was something to count on — until their financial institutions got in the way. Frustrated customers say banks have been seizing some, or all, of their relief payments because their accounts are overdrawn, in some cases as a result of pandemic-caused hardship.”

The Black Plague. Public officials lament the way that the coronavirus is engulfing black communities. The question is, what are they prepared to do about it? The New Yorker, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The old African-American aphorism ‘When white America catches a cold, black America gets pneumonia’ has a new, morbid twist: when white America catches the novel coronavirus, black Americans die. Thousands of white Americans have also died from the virus, but the pace at which African-Americans are dying has transformed this public-health crisis into an object lesson in racial and class inequality. According to a Reuters report, African-Americans are more likely to die of covid-19 than any other group in the U.S. It is still early in the course of the pandemic, and the demographic data is incomplete, but the partial view is enough to prompt a sober reflection on this bitter harvest of American racism. Louisiana, with more than twenty-one thousand reported infections, has the largest number of coronavirus cases outside of the Northeast and the Midwest. When the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, announced recently that it would begin to provide data about the racial and ethnic breakdowns of those who have died, he included the grim acknowledgement that African-Americans, thirty-three per cent of Louisiana’s population, comprise seventy per cent of the dead.”

George Soros’s Foundation Pledges $130 Million in Coronavirus Relief, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and liberal financier, is directing more than $130 million through his foundation to combat the effects of the coronavirus, with $37 million aimed to help at-risk populations in New York City, including undocumented families and low-wage workers. Mr. Soros’s organization, Open Society Foundations, is making two large grants to nonprofits linked to the government of New York City, which is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, with more than 10,000 deaths because of the virus.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom signs executive order to give relief to food industry workers, CBS News, Peter Martinez, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that he has signed an executive order to help essential workers in the food supply chain, including workers in the delivery and fast-food industries, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Newsom said there will be ‘two weeks of supplemental sick leave for workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been exposed to isolation or quarantine orders by local health officials or state or federal officials.'”

Lawmakers and industry groups say hospital relief money is slow to reach places that need it most, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Shane Harris, and Amy Goldstein, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The $100 billion Congress allocated for hospitals and health-care providers in its $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill has been slow to go out and has shortchanged some of the places that need it most, lawmakers and industry groups say. They also say the total sum is woefully inadequate to address the needs created by the virus, which has overwhelmed big-city hospitals even as some providers have experienced a precipitous loss in revenue from elective procedures that has forced them to lay people off in the middle of a raging pandemic.”

FEMA’s ‘Air Bridge’ to Coronavirus Hot Spots Leaves Other Regions on Their Own, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The federal government’s program to expedite the shipping of valuable protective equipment to coronavirus hot spots has left hospitals that are out of the spotlight struggling to secure their own protective gear as they watch the outbreak creep closer. The Trump administration has repeatedly endorsed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s system of flying masks, respirators, gloves, goggles and surgical gowns from overseas suppliers to the United States. The new ‘air bridge’ is rushing supplies to the most hard-hit areas within days instead of weeks. But officials who represent areas with fewer serious infections say the system has left them to navigate a mind-boggling private marketplace where state officials and hospital leaders face backlogged orders, last-minute cancellations and rising costs. And the coronavirus can hit fast, like the outbreak that has erupted in South Dakota.”

Tracking Trump’s Promises on Responding to the Virus, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “Trump has made many promises about responding to the coronavirus crisis. But in the month since he declared a national emergency and as he encourages steps toward reopening the economy, many of them remain unfulfilled or works in progress. The number of testing sites operated by big retail chains is still minimal. It is likely to be months before millions of masks reach hospitals. And his own public health officials warn that a comprehensive surveillance system is not yet ready.” This article assesses how Mr. Trump’s promises stack up to reality.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney gave for-profit corporations access to funds Native American tribes say were intended for them alone, Politico, Adam Cancryn, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “A high-ranking Interior Department official is under fire over her role in securing access to billions of dollars in coronavirus aid for a handful of wealthy Alaska corporations, including one that previously employed her as a lobbyist and top executive. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney is among a small group of Interior officials advising the Treasury Department on how to distribute $8 billion in rescue funding Congress earmarked for Native American tribes — an allocation that some lawmakers now say they intended solely for the 574 federally recognized tribes hit hard by the economic shutdown.” See also, Native American tribes sue over distribution of coronavirus relief funding, Associated Press, Felicia Fonseca, published on Friday, 17 April 2020: “Several Native American tribes sued the federal government Friday, seeking to keep any of the $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief for tribes kept out of the hands of for-profit Alaska Native corporations. The U.S. Treasury Department is tasked with doling out the money by April 26 to help tribes nationwide stay afloat, respond to the virus and recover after having to shut down casinos, tourism operations and other businesses that serve as their main moneymakers.”

House Democrats Back Changing Rules to Allow Remote Voting During Pandemic, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday threw her support behind a plan to allow House members to cast votes by proxy, conceding for the first time that the coronavirus pandemic that has forced Congress into an extended recess would require historic modifications to how the institution has operated for centuries.”

Glitches prevent $1,200 stimulus checks from reaching millions of people in the U.S., The Washington Post, Heather Long and Michelle Singletary, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “Many Americans woke up Wednesday expecting to find a payment of $1,200 or more from the U.S. government in their bank account, but instead they realized nothing had arrived yet — or the wrong amount was deposited. Parents of young children complained they did not receive the promised $500 check for their dependent children.”

Coronavirus clue? Roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors on the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who tested positive have not shown symptoms of COVID-19, Reuters, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “Sweeping testing of the entire crew of the coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt may have revealed a clue about the pandemic: The majority of the positive cases so far are among sailors who are asymptomatic, officials say. The possibility that the coronavirus spreads in a mostly stealthy mode among a population of largely young, healthy people showing no symptoms could have major implications for U.S. policy-makers, who are considering how and when to reopen the economy. It also renews questions about the extent to which U.S. testing of just the people suspected of being infected is actually capturing the spread of the virus in the United States and around the world. The Navy’s testing of the entire 4,800-member crew of the aircraft carrier – which is about 94% complete – was an extraordinary move in a headline-grabbing case that has already led to the firing of the carrier’s captain and the resignation of the Navy’s top civilian official. Roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors who tested positive so far have not shown symptoms of COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the Navy says. The service did not speculate about how many might later develop symptoms or remain asymptomatic. ‘With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,’ said Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy.”

An Army of Virus Tracers Takes Shape in Massachusetts. Asian countries have invested heavily in digital contact tracing, which uses technology to warn people when they have been exposed to the coronavirus. Massachusetts is using an old-fashioned means: people. The New York Times, Ellen Barry, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “Massachusetts is the first state to invest in an ambitious contact-tracing program, budgeting $44 million to hire 1,000 people…. The program represents a bet on the part of Gov. Charlie Baker that the state will be able to identify pockets of infection as they emerge, and prevent infected people from spreading the virus further. This could help Massachusetts in the coming weeks and months, as it seeks to relax strict social-distancing measures and reopen its economy.”

7 Midwestern governors announce their states will coordinate on reopening, CNN Politics, Kristina Sgueglia and Caroline Kelly, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “A bipartisan group of governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky announced Thursday that they will work in close coordination to reopen the Midwest regional economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came in a news release from Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, sent on behalf of all the participating governors. ‘Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens,’ the governors said in a joint statement. ‘We will make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education,’ the statement added. The governors said they will focus on at least four factors in determining the ideal time to reopen their states’ economies: sustained control of new infection and hospitalization rates, enhanced testing and tracing capabilities, adequate health care capacity to respond to a resurgence and best workplace social distancing techniques.”

The governors said they will focus on at least four factors in determining the ideal time to reopen their states’ economies: sustained control of new infection and hospitalization rates, enhanced testing and tracing capabilities, adequate health care capacity to respond to a resurgence and best workplace social distancing techniques.

Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) Weakens Controls on Mercury, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The Trump administration on Thursday weakened regulations on the release of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants, another step toward rolling back health protections in the middle of a pandemic. The new Environmental Protection Agency rule does not eliminate restrictions on the release of mercury, a heavy metal linked to brain damage. Instead, it creates a new method of calculating the costs and benefits of curbing mercury pollution that environmental lawyers said would fundamentally undermine the legal underpinnings of controls on mercury and many other pollutants. By reducing the positive health effects of regulations on paper and raising their economic costs, the new method could be used to justify loosening restrictions on any pollutant that the fossil fuel industry has deemed too costly to control. ‘That is the big unstated goal,’ said David Konisky, a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University. ‘This is less about mercury than about potentially constraining or handcuffing future efforts by the E.P.A. to regulate air pollution.'”

US explores possibility that coronavirus spread started in Chinese lab, not a market, CNN Politics, Josh Campbell, Kylie Atwood, and Evan Perez, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “US intelligence and national security officials say the United States government is looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus spread from a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter who caution it is premature to draw any conclusions. The theory is one of [many] being pursued by investigators as they attempt to determine the origin of the coronavirus that has resulted in a pandemic and killed hundreds of thousands. The US does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research and the sources indicated there is currently no indication the virus was man-made. Officials noted that the intelligence community is also exploring a range of other theories regarding the origination of the virus, as would typically be the case for high-profile incidents, according to an intelligence source. The theory has been pushed by supporters of the President, including some congressional Republicans, who are eager to deflect criticisms of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.”

Trumpists Believe Bill Gates Is Using Coronavirus to Implant Brain Chips, The Daily Beast, Will Sommer, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “Billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have committed $100 million of their own money to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In return, a fevered segment of the pro-Trump internet is convinced the couple wants to kill off a good portion of humanity, then install mark-of-the-beast style tracking chips in whoever survives. On Wednesday, pro-Trump personalities and regular Trump White House guests ‘Diamond and Silk’ became the latest to push conspiracy theories about Gates, tweeting that the Microsoft founder was operating on a secretive ‘agenda’ to ‘rule the world with vaccines’ and vowing not to take any coronavirus vaccine that Gates was involved with.”

Army Decides a Pandemic Is a Good Time to Give Republican Donors $569 Million to ‘Build the Wall,’ The Daily Beast, Spencer Ackerman, Noah Shachtman, and William Bredderman, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “In the middle of a pandemic that has killed 27,000 Americans and counting, the Army this week gave a politically connected Montana firm half a billion dollars—not to manufacture ventilators or protective gear to fight the novel coronavirus, but to build 17 miles of President Trump’s southern border wall. On Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it awarded BFBC, an affiliate of Barnard Construction, $569 million in contract modifications for building ‘17.17 miles’ of the wall in two California locations, El Centro and San Diego. That works out to over $33 million per mile—steeply above the $20 million-per-mile average that the Trump administration is already doling out for the wall. Construction is supposed to be completed by the end of June 2021. And it’s only the latest wall contract the firm has gotten. BFBC, a reliable contributor to Republican politicians, has gotten over $1 billion in taxpayer money in less than a year to build a mere 37 miles worth of wall. Scott Amey, the general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, urged federal watchdogs to investigate the new BFBC contract. ‘$1 billion for 37 miles of wall is a travesty and it must be investigated and audited immediately,’ Amey said. ‘That’s nearly $27 million per mile, which is well above other wall costs. These efforts might make good on a campaign promise, but who is minding the store and ensuring that military readiness and bases are not negatively impacted?'”

The Pentagon’s inspector general is not able to rule out White House influence on JEDI contract awarded to Microsoft rather than Amazon, Reuters, Chris Sanders, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The Pentagon’s inspector general on Wednesday said it could not determine whether the White House influenced the award of a $10 billion contract to Microsoft Corp over Amazon after several officials said their conversations were privileged ‘presidential communications.’ Known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, the cloud computing contract is intended to give the military better access to data and technology from remote locations. ‘We could not definitively determine the full extent or nature of interactions that administration officials had, or may have had, with senior DoD officials regarding the JEDI Cloud procurement because of the assertion of a presidential communications privilege,’ the report said, referring to the Department of Defense by its acronym.”

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington Denies Roger Stone’s Bid for a New Trial, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against Roger J. Stone Jr. refused on Thursday to grant him a new trial, rejecting the defense’s argument of juror misconduct that President Trump has also repeatedly trumpeted…. The judge’s decision appears to end one of the most politically fraught federal criminal cases in recent years. In a last-ditch effort to keep their client out of prison, Mr. Stone’s lawyers had claimed that the jury forewoman had improperly concealed a bias against Mr. Stone, justifying a new trial.” See also, Roger Stone retrial request denied as judge rejects claims jury forewoman was biased, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “A federal judge on Thursday rejected Roger Stone’s demand for a new trial, ruling in a blistering opinion that the jury forewoman in Stone’s trial was not biased against President Trump’s longtime political confidant. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that while the juror might have expressed strong opinions about Trump on social media, she did not lie in answering a pretrial questionnaire probing potential jurors for bias or have a prejudicial view of Stone. The assumption that the forewoman could not fairly consider the evidence against Stone based on her views about Trump ‘is not supported by any facts or data and it is contrary to controlling legal precedent,’ Jackson wrote in an 81-page opinion. The judge called Stone’s motion ‘a tower of indignation’ with ‘little of substance holding it up.'” See also, Roger Stone jurors say they fear for their safety and plead for privacy, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Thursday, 16 April 2020: “All 12 of Roger Stone’s jurors wrote in a series of powerful, anonymized statements this week that they feel harassed, afraid and do not want more information about them revealed to the public, especially after President Donald Trump and right-wing media criticized them for their conviction of the longtime Trump friend.