Governors team up to discuss reopening their states. Trump asserts “total” authority to overrule them.
Hours after two groups of governors announced that they were forming regional working groups to help plan when it would be safe to ease restrictions and reopen their economies, President Trump asserted in a White House news briefing that the authority to make such decisions rested with him.
“The president of the United States calls the shots,” Mr. Trump said. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”
The announcements by the governors, who formed groups on both coasts, came hours after the president wrote on Twitter that such a decision lies with the president, not the states, and before he made the point more forcefully to reporters in Washington.
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.
His daylong assertions of power appeared to have little effect on the governors.
“Well, seeing as we had the responsibility for closing the state down,” Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania said, “I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.”
Mr. Wolf and the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island agreed to create a committee of public health officials, economic development officials and their chiefs of staff.
On the West Coast, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington also announced Monday a joint approach to reopening economies that they called a Western States Pact. “Our states will only be effective by working together,” they said in a joint statement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said he had been in discussions with the other governors to coordinate efforts on the West Coast. He said that on Tuesday he would outline the “California-based thinking” on reopening and promised it would be guided by “facts,” “evidence” and “science.”
The potential power struggle 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.
Several of the governors who spoke on Monday made it clear that they did not intend to let businesses in their states reopen until experts and data suggested it would be safe to do so. They noted that their fates were bound by geography. “The reality is this virus doesn’t care about state borders, and our response shouldn’t either,” Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island said.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said he was working closely with the White House on his plan to reopen the state’s businesses. He called for a staggered approach in which businesses that have a minimal impact on the spread of the virus would open up first.
“This is not going to be a rush-the-gates” situation, Mr. Abbott said.
Trump defends his response and attacks the news media.
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.
Mr. Trump broadly mischaracterized an article on his response to the coronavirus, published Sunday in The New York Times, repeatedly insisting that the United States had very few cases of the virus in early January — six weeks earlier — and angrily mocking a suggestion that was never made: that he should have ordered all schools and businesses shut that month.
“I am supposed to close down the greatest economy in the history of the world and we don’t have one case confirmed in the United States?” he said, his voice laced with sarcasm.
Begun as a regular update on the virus by Vice President Mike Pence and the nation’s top public health officials, the daily evening briefing has largely been turned into a lengthy infomercial starring Mr. Trump, who brags about his administration’s efforts, mocks his critics and berates reporters.
But even by those standards, Monday’s briefing stood out. Instead of beginning with his daily recitation of facts about the virus response, the president first introduced Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious diseases specialist, and then delivered a prepared defense of his actions, and an attack on the news reports about them.
Lashing out at what he called “a fake newspaper” that writes “fake stories,” Mr. Trump lowered the lights in the White House briefing room to play a video showing several Fox News hosts playing down the threat from the virus and governors lauding his actions to help them deal with the crush of hospitalizations.
The video included clips of Mr. Trump taking action to confront the virus, and did not include any of the many instances when the president said the virus was “under control” and would “miraculously disappear” with little effort. It also largely skipped over February and early March, when public health experts say the administration failed to provide enough testing for the virus and did not act quickly enough to promote social distancing and prevent its spread.
Returning to the lectern, Mr. Trump then singled out individual reporters and news organizations — as well as the news media more generally — and declared that “everything we did was right.”
Business leaders and the C.D.C. warn that the economy will recover slowly.
President Trump is in a rush to lift restrictions, convinced that the move will rocket the economy out of a deep recession.
Companies say otherwise. So does a wide variety of economic and survey data, which suggests the economy will recover slowly even after the government begins to ease limits on public gatherings and allow certain restaurants and other closed shops to reopen.
U.S. stocks slipped on Monday, a retreat that followed one of Wall Street’s best weeks in decades, as investors weighed the implications of a deal to cut oil production and awaited the release of quarterly earnings reports from corporate America. The S&P 500 fell about 1 percent.
The evidence suggests it’s not just stay-at-home orders and other government restrictions that have chilled economic activity in the United States over the last month: It’s also a behavioral response from workers and consumers scared of contracting the virus.
Even in places without lockdown orders, business has suffered, and unemployment has increased because Americans are avoiding restaurants, airports and shopping centers on their own accord.
Even businesses that are in increased demand because of the pandemic are struggling. Quest Diagnostics announced on Monday that it has approved furloughs for more than 4,000 employees — about 9 percent of its work force.
Quest, one of the nation’s largest commercial laboratories for medical testing, said that its recent increase in coronavirus testing has not offset the significant drop in overall testing volume, which it attributed to social distancing guidelines that have led to a reduction in routine medical visits and elective procedures. Total test volume dropped more than 40 percent in the last two weeks of March, the company said.
“None of these changes will impact our ability to deliver critical Covid-19 testing,” Steve Rusckowski, the chief executive of Quest, wrote in an email to colleagues.
Quest said it has performed nearly 800,000 coronavirus tests, and is preparing to begin offering antibody blood tests to identify people who have been exposed to the virus and may have built immunity.
A major meat plant’s closing could affect the food supply chain.
Smithfield Foods said Sunday that its plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, would remain closed indefinitely at the urging of the governor and mayor after 293 workers tested positive for the virus.
The plant, which employs 3,700 workers and produces about 130 million servings of food per week, is responsible for about half of the state’s cases.
Meat production workers often work elbow to elbow, cleaning and deboning products in large open areas filled with hundreds of people. The closure at Smithfield follows the halting of production at several other poultry and meat plants across the country as workers have fallen ill with Covid-19.
Many meat processing facilities have been hit hard by the virus. Three workers have died at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Camilla, Ga. Tyson also shut a pork plant in Iowa after an outbreak there among workers. JBS USA, the world’s largest meat processor, confirmed the death of one worker at a Colorado facility and shuttered a plant in Pennsylvania for two weeks.
In a statement announcing the closure, Smithfield’s chief executive warned that the closures were threatening the U.S. meat supply. The shuttered plant produces about 4 percent to 5 percent of the country’s pork, Smithfield said.
A stalemate in Congress over emergency aid seems likely to continue.
Top Democratic leaders on Monday doubled down on their insistence that any infusion of cash for a new loan program to help small businesses affected by the pandemic must include additional funds for state and local governments, hospitals, food assistance and rapid testing.
The demands, reiterated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, are likely to further prolong a stalemate between lawmakers over what was intended to be an interim emergency package before another broader stimulus package.
They came as Democratic leaders announced that the House was pushing back its date for returning to Washington by two weeks, to May 4.
The $2 trillion economic stimulus law enacted last month provided $350 billion for the loan initiative, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, and the administration has said it will soon run out of funds, even as businesses say they have yet to receive a majority of the slated billions.
As of early Monday afternoon, more than 4,600 lenders had been approved for more than $230 billion, according to Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, who said there was concern that banks would stop issuing loans if there was not a guarantee that cash would be available from the federal government.
Facing testing backlogs, sick patients wait all night at drive-through sites.
The lines start forming the night before, as people with glassy eyes and violent coughs try to get tested before the next day’s supplies run out. In the darkness, they park their cars, cut their engines and try to sleep.
The backlog for virus testing in New Jersey, the state with the second-highest caseload in the country, has been getting worse, officials say.
New Jersey has conducted over 115,000 tests, about one for every 75 residents. In New York City, the center of the U.S. crisis, there is about one for every 18. The tests are a critical tool in measuring the disease’s spread and a requirement for certain forms of treatment.
Initially, the strain came from a lack of test kits, but now there are not enough nasal swabs or nurses. There is a pileup at the labs and a limited supply of the chemicals needed to identify the virus.
Last Monday, Anita Holmes-Perez felt so sick that she asked her husband to drive her to a testing site at 10:45 p.m. She spent the night constantly adjusting her reclining car seat, lying down until the congestion in her chest forced her to sit up again.
She was battling a fever, a cough, dizziness and a feeling of confusion. “Like you don’t know where you are,” she said.
When medical workers finally took a sample from her the next morning, it would be shipped across the country because the local lab was too full. Three vans would take it part of the way. A plane, sent on a detour by a storm, would take it further. It would be days before she got a result.
Coronavirus concerns could lead to fewer measles vaccinations.
More than 100 million children could be at risk for measles because countries around the world are suspending national immunization programs in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, international public health leaders warned on Monday.
Twenty-four low- and middle-income countries, including Mexico, Nigeria and Cambodia, have paused or postponed such programs, according to the Measles and Rubella Initiative.
In the United States and other wealthier countries, parents typically make appointments to follow a routine vaccine schedule at clinics or private pediatric offices. In poorer countries, however, large numbers of infants and children are inoculated in communal settings, like marketplaces, schools, churches and mosques.
There are also concerns about potential outbreaks in North America and Europe, which do not have national inoculation programs. Because of Covid-19 fears, American pediatric practices are beginning to report significant drops in well-child visits, including those for routine vaccines.
“Even in resource-rich settings there is a danger of measles raising its ugly head in the not-too-distant future,” said Dr. Beate Kampmann, director of the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
In 2019, the United States reported 1,282 measles cases, its highest in more than 25 years.
The Census Bureau will seek a four-month delay for its count.
Conceding that its effort to count the nation’s population has been hamstrung by the pandemic, the Census Bureau said it would ask Congress for a four-month delay in delivering the population data used to reapportion the House of Representatives and political districts across the country.
In a news release, the bureau said the new deadline would mean that state legislatures would get final figures for drawing new district maps as late as July 31, 2021. Delivery of that data normally begins in February.
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.
Democrats who oversee census operations on the House Oversight and Reform Committee reacted cautiously to the news, which they said was relayed to a handful of members of Congress in a telephone call with officials from the White House and the Commerce Department. The director of the census, Steven Dillingham, apparently did not participate in the call.
Emails reveal why New Orleans went ahead with Mardi Gras.
Twelve days before thousands gathered in the streets of New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, Sarah A. Babcock, the director of policy and emergency preparedness for the city health department, prepared a list of bullet points about the troubling disease that had already sickened thousands in China but had only infected 13 known patients in the United States.
“The chance of us getting someone with coronavirus is low,” Ms. Babcock advised community health providers, according to internal City of New Orleans emails obtained by Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation and reviewed by The New York Times.
The projection proved to be terribly off-base, as New Orleans would soon erupt into one of the largest hot spots for the virus in the U.S., with one of the nation’s highest death rates. Experts now widely agree that the Mardi Gras festivities likely served to accelerate the spread of the highly contagious disease.
But in the run-up to Mardi Gras Day, on Feb. 25, no major events were being canceled anywhere in the U.S., and “no red flags” had been raised by federal officials, the city’s mayor said in an interview on CNN.
Still, according to the emails, city and state officials were planning both for the celebration and the virus’s eventual arrival, but those preparations were based on a misunderstanding of how the virus was spreading.
A study involving chloroquine is stopped after fatal heart complications.
A small study of chloroquine, which is closely related to the hydroxychloroquine drug that Mr. Trump has promoted, was halted in Brazil after virus patients taking a higher dose developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal arrhythmia.
The study, which involved 81 hospitalized patients in the city of Manaus, was sponsored by the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Roughly half the participants were prescribed 450 milligrams of chloroquine twice daily for five days, while the rest were prescribed 600 milligrams for 10 days.
Within three days, researchers started noticing heart arrhythmias in patients taking the higher dose. By the sixth day of treatment, 11 patients had died, leading to an immediate end to the high-dose segment of the trial.
The researchers said the study did not have enough patients in the lower-dose trial to conclude whether chloroquine was effective in patients with severe cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
On Monday, President Trump doubled down on his support of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus, claiming during his daily briefing that an unnamed friend had benefited from the drug. He said 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine had been deployed to hospitals around the country.
Hydroxychloroquine is being tested in the treatment of people with the coronavirus, but there is little evidence it works, other than a handful of small, limited studies. Still, Mr. Trump has enthusiastically promoted it and chloroquine even as his own scientific experts have expressed concerns.
“Who knows,” he said, adding that it was being combined with other treatments such as an antibiotic — azithromycin — and zinc. “I think if anyone recommended it other than me, it would be used all over the place.”
France’s president says ‘hope is reborn.’
As the pain of the coronavirus outbreak continued around the world, leaders in Europe sought to strike a delicate balance as they extended lockdowns and reported worsening conditions but also signaled life may start to return to normal in the coming months.
Mr. Macron’s speech came as health authorities in France reported nearly 15,000 deaths. Warning the transition away from stay-at-home orders would only be possible if France continued to slow the epidemic, he vowed that by May 11, the authorities would be ready to test and quarantine anyone with symptoms and that “general public” masks would be available for all.
In Italy, officials reported fewer than 600 coronavirus-linked deaths for the fourth time in six days, a significant drop from the peak of the country’s crisis in late March and early April, when it was averaging about 800 fatalities per day. “The trend is now trustworthy,” Luca Richeldi, a pulmonologist on the scientific committee that is advising the government, said at a news conference.
The trajectory of the outbreak in Britain was increasingly worrisome, and the government was expected to extend restrictions well into next month. The number of known infections and fatalities is rising faster in Britain than anywhere else in Europe, putting it on track to surpass the death totals in Italy and Spain. Britain’s 88,621 confirmed cases already are more than the reported total in China, and the country has reported 11,329 deaths.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia offered his bleakest comments yet on his country’s handling of the pandemic, warning officials that the number of severely ill patients was rising and that medical workers faced shortages of protective equipment.
In Libya’s capital, Tripoli, people are facing a dire decision: whether to stay inside to slow the spread of the coronavirus or flee from the violence of a civil war that has not paused for the pandemic. “I sometimes wonder, you know, which death is going to be worse: catching corona or being instantly attacked by a missile,” said one woman, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments by phone next month.
The Supreme Court on Monday outlined its plan for meeting during the pandemic, announcing that it would hear arguments by telephone over six days in May, including cases on subpoenas from prosecutors and Congress seeking the president’s financial records.
“In keeping with public health guidance in response to Covid-19,” a news release from the court said, “the justices and counsel will all participate remotely. The court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media. Details will be shared as they become available.”
The court said arguments would be heard on May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13, and it listed the 10 sets of arguments it would hear. But it did not say which cases would be heard when. That would depend, the court said, on “the availability of counsel.”
The court said it would also hear arguments over whether members of the Electoral College must cast their votes as they had pledged to do.
The virus contingency plans came as the court was asked to reconsider a decision in light of the pandemic. Three states asked the court 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 new program in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every person who doesn’t get the health coverage they need today risks infecting another person with the coronavirus tomorrow,” said Letitia James, New York’s attorney general. “Immigrants provide us with health care, care for our elderly, prepare and deliver our food, clean our hospitals and public spaces, and take on so many other essential roles in our society, which is why we should all be working to make testing and health coverage available to every single person in this country, regardless of immigration status.”
The pandemic, the motion said, had changed the legal calculus and justified loosening the administration’s new requirements for the so-called public charge rule.
Tornadoes kill more than 30 people in the South as it grapples with the virus.
A devastating weather system that began Sunday and cut a path of destruction across southeastern states that left more than 30 people dead came as people have been ordered to stay home and away from one another.
Like most Americans, Mamie Harper and her husband had been huddled indoors in an effort to keep the coronavirus at bay. But then a tornado roared over their street in Bassfield, Miss., snapping trees and launching cars from their parking spots.
When it was over, debris temporarily kept emergency medical workers from reaching Ms. Harper’s block. Her daughter pulled her from the wreckage of her small, white house, and soon other neighbors, many of them relatives, also came to try to help.
Ms. Harper, 68, felt an odd mix of gratitude and wariness. “You don’t know,” she said on Monday, standing on the shoulder of her ruined street in a surgical mask. “Even though they’re coming out of the goodness of their heart, they may not know they’ve got it.”
Emergency agencies are now facing new realms of improvisation and creativity as they try to provide shelter and assistance during the pandemic. Officials are doing what they can to avoid housing evacuees in large shelters, which could prove as dangerous as any cruise ship for spreading the virus.
“This is a collision course of conflicting strategies to deal with the natural disasters and the pandemic simultaneously,” said Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.
A sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has died from virus complications.
A sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has died of complications stemming from the coronavirus, according to Navy officials, marking the first death for the ship’s crew, which numbers more than 4,800.
The sailor was admitted into intensive care at the naval hospital in Guam, where the Roosevelt is currently docked, on April 9, after being found unconscious.
The sailor, according to two military officials, had earlier been hospitalized for respiratory issues and was discharged four days before being found unconscious.
“The Sailor tested positive for Covid-19 March 30, was removed from the ship and placed in an isolation house on Naval Base Guam with four other USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailors,” the Navy said in a statement. “Like other Sailors in isolation, he received medical checks twice daily from Navy medical teams.”
There are more than 580 coronavirus cases aboard the ship, including its commander, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was relieved earlier this month after submitting a letter to Navy officials requesting more help for his virus-stricken crew. Several other sailors with coronavirus symptoms are currently hospitalized.
Driving and travel restrictions vary across the U.S.
Most people in the United States are under some form of stay-at-home order to try to curb the deadly coronavirus pandemic, yet some still have their reasons for wanting to drive across the country.
In the last several days, The New York Times has heard from people who have older parents in need of assistance, a new grandmother in Ohio whose daughter in North Carolina wants help with the baby, and those who were scheduled to move to a new job or home, all seeking advice on whether a road trip was advisable or even feasible.
Economic inequality makes it harder for some to shelter in place.
Access to private, controllable space has emerged as a new class divide — more valuable than ever to those who have it and potentially fatal to those who do not.
Inmates, farmworkers, detained immigrants, Native Americans and homeless families are among the discrete groups whose dilemmas have attracted notice. What they share may be little beyond poverty and one of its overlooked costs: the perils of proximity.
In addition to heightened risk of contagion, close quarters can worsen a host of ills, from flared tempers to child abuse and domestic violence.
“The pandemic is a reminder that privacy is at a premium among the poor — hard to find and extremely valuable,” said Stefanie DeLuca, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. “Living in crowded conditions not only increases the risk of infection but can also impose serious emotional and mental health costs. The ability to retreat into one’s own space is a way to cope with conflict, tension and anxiety.”
Read the stories of people who have died.
More than 21,000 people have been claimed by the virus across the United States and more than 100,000 worldwide, including nurses on the front line, transgender activists, musicians, academics and religious leaders.
The New York Times began gathering stories of people who have died during the pandemic for the series, “Those We’ve Lost to the Coronavirus.”
Some, like Hilda Churchill, who survived both World Wars and the 1918 Spanish flu, and Rafael Gómez Nieto, the last member of the unit that helped liberate Paris, were a part of moments that made history. Many lived outside of the limelight, but were still a huge part of daily life, as children, siblings, parents and grandparents.
In an obituary written about Loretta Mendoza Dionisio, an outgoing and unstoppable woman, her family hoped that she would not simply become a statistic: “We didn’t want her to get lost,” they said.
Wyoming is the only state without a recorded death from the virus.
More than 22,000 people have died of the virus in the United States, but Wyoming has not recorded one fatality, according to a New York Times database.
At least 270 people have tested positive for the virus in the state, mostly around its largest cities, and Gov. Mark Gordon has imposed a series of restrictions, including closures of public schools and bans on gatherings of 10 or more people, that will stay in effect until at least April 30.
The virus has likely infected more people, but testing issues have almost certainly kept the authorities and the public from understanding the full scope of the virus’s spread in Wyoming. The state health officer acknowledged this month that necessary materials were in “very short supply.”
Mr. Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for Wyoming over the weekend, opening a spigot of aid money and marking the first time in U.S. history that a disaster had been declared in every state simultaneously.
“Though Wyoming has not reached the dire situations of some states, this declaration will help us to prepare and mobilize resources when we need them,” Mr. Gordon said last week after he asked Mr. Trump to approve the declaration.
American Samoa, a U.S. territory, is the only other part of the country without a death that has been blamed on the virus. No infections have been reported there.
Oil-producing nations reach a deal to slash output.
Oil-producing nations on Sunday agreed to the largest production cut ever negotiated, in a coordinated effort by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States to stabilize oil prices and, indirectly, global financial markets.
Russia and Saudi Arabia typically take the lead in setting global production goals. But Mr. 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 Moscow and Riyadh 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.
The plan by OPEC, Russia and other allied producers in a group known as OPEC Plus will slash 9.7 million barrels a day in May and June, or close to 10 percent of the world’s output.
‘The player-coaches for the real world.’
As Americans hunker down during the pandemic, free fitness workouts, many of them delightfully low-tech, have multiplied on social media platforms.
Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Mike Baker, Peter Baker, Alan Blinder, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Jason DeParle, Richard Fausset, Ellen Ann Fentress, Sandra E. Garcia, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Jack Healy, Jan Hoffman, John Ismay, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Clifford Krauss, Adam Liptak, Jeffery C. Mays, Jesse McKinley, Aimee Ortiz, Alan Rappeport, Dagny Salas, Marc Santora, Karen Schwartz, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear, Knvul Sheikh, Eileen Sullivan, Vanessa Swales, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas and Michael Wines.
Source link Most Shared