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March 2020

Are You Kidding Me??!! Trump’s Most Outrageous Coronavirus Comments This Week

The news coverage on the spread of the coronavirus is rapidly evolving making it easy to miss some of President Trump’s most egregious comments about his bungled response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. President Trump continues to focus more on his own reelection and trying to boost the stock market than taking responsibility and doing the work necessary to keep Americans safe.

1. He “Stopped” The Coronavirus

At the signing of the $8 billion emergency spending package today, President Trump falsely claimed, “we closed it down…we stopped [the virus].” Meanwhile, U.S. cases continue to surge, with new cases reported in Maryland and the death toll reaching 14 Americans as of this morning.

2. Silver Lining: People Are Spending Money In The United States

At a Fox News town hall in Scranton, President Trump said there was a silver lining to coronavirus, which is that “People are now staying in the United States, spending their money in the US — and I like that.” This came amid reports of catastrophic losses for the domestic travel industry and panic buying by American consumers as well as another nearly 1,000 point loss in the stock market. Trump concluded “It’s all going to work out. Everybody needs to be calm. We have plans for every single possibility.”

3. Obama Administration Is At Fault For Difficulties Testing People For Virus

At a meeting with airline executives, President Trump blamed the Obama administration for difficulties with the coronavirus test saying, “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing & we undid that decision a few days ago so that testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion.”

4. People With Symptoms Should Go To Work

On Wednesday night Trump appeared on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News and provided dangerously incorrect information to the roughly 3.5 million viewers of the show. Trump said he believed WHO estimates of the coronavirus death rate are “false” and that based on his “hunch,” he believes the actual number is “way under 1%.” Trump then said “a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild” and implied that it was all right for people to continue to go to work while sick, directly contradicting directives from the CDC and state and local public health authorities.

5. Vaccine Is Three To Four Months Away

Speaking to the press while meeting with President Ivan Duque of Colombia, President Trump said that he has asked pharmaceutical companies to “accelerate whatever they’re doing in terms of a vaccine,” and reassured his supporters that it is “very safe” for him to continue to hold campaign rallies during the outbreak. At the meeting with pharmaceutical executives, Trump said he heard that a vaccine can be ready in three to four months and was corrected by Dr. Anthony Fauci who said the vaccine won’t be ready to deploy for at least a year.

At his rally in North Carolina on Monday night, Trump celebrated the stock market rebound and praised pharmaceutical executives who he said would have a vaccine ready “relatively soon” as well as “something that makes you better, and that’s going to actually take place we think even sooner.” Trump accused Democrats of politicizing the crisis and “denigrating the noble work of our public health professionals” and attacked “fringe globalists” who want to keep borders open and allow infection into the US.

Trump Uses Fox Town Hall to Spread Coronavirus Misinformation, Double-Down on Texas Lawsuit, and Once Again Threaten Medicare and Medicaid

Washington, DC — Yesterday, President Trump participated in a Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania where he continued to spread misinformation about the coronavirus, doubled-down on his support for the disastrous Texas lawsuit that would overturn the Affordable Care Act, and announced his intention to cut Medicare and Medicaid if he’s elected to a second term. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“The president once again showed his true colors on health care. He’s willing to spread misinformation about the potential impacts of the coronavirus while leaving Americans unprepared because he’s apparently more interested in his politics than in protecting America. He doubled-down on his disastrous health care agenda — including his lawsuit that would rip coverage from millions of people and threatening to cut Medicare and Medicaid — at a time when access to quality, affordable care is more important than ever to combat coronavirus. It’s clear to the American people that President Trump’s relentless war on Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act is threatening their health.”

BACKGROUND:

Trump Is All-In On The Texas Lawsuit, Threatening Health Care For Millions. After failing to repeal the health care law, Trump took his war on America’s health care to a new level and went to court seeking to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act–including protections for pre-existing conditions. If President Trump and his Republican allies have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions. Meanwhile, his administration has said there is “not a need” for a replacement plan.

Trump Has Repeatedly Sought Cuts To Medicaid and Medicare. In his 2021 budget, Trump proposed more than $1 trillion in cuts from Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act. Through his support for repeal and the Texas lawsuit, President Trump has supported eliminating Medicaid expansion which has provided coverage to 17 million Americans in 37 states. His administration has also attacked Medicaid by championing block grants and work requirements.

Trump Is Spreading Misinformation About The Outbreak. President Trump said there was a silver lining to coronavirus, which is that “People are now staying in the United States, spending their money in the US — and I like that.” This came amid reports of catastrophic losses for the domestic travel industry and panic buying by American consumers as well as another nearly 1,000 point loss in the stock market. Trump concluded “It’s all going to work out. Everybody needs to be calm. We have plans for every single possibility.” 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — MARCH 6, 2020

Driving the Day: Vice President Pence admitted the administration’s response is inadequate, saying that there are not enough tests available stating, “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”

What to Watch For: The president will sign the emergency funding bill today. Trump was scheduled to visit the CDC in Atlanta today, but the trip has been canceled because, “The CDC has been proactive and prepared since the very beginning and the President does not want to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency.” Instead, Trump will visit the scene of the deadly tornadoes in Nashville and attend a campaign fundraiser in Palm Beach. Trump was scheduled to address the HIMSS health technology conference in Orlando next week, but the conference has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

The coronavirus task force will brief the press at 5:00 today. Over the weekend Mike Pence will meet with leaders in the cruise industry. Dr. Anthony Fauci will appear on Fox News Sunday.

Coronavirus Update 

  • At a Fox News town hall in Scranton, President Trump said there was a silver lining to coronavirus, which is that “People are now staying in the United States, spending their money in the US — and I like that.” This came amid reports of catastrophic losses for the domestic travel industry and panic buying by American consumers as well as another nearly 1,000 point loss in the stock market. Trump concluded “It’s all going to work out. Everybody needs to be calm. We have plans for every single possibility.”

  • On a trip to Washington state, Vice President Pence supported Trump’s dismissal of the WHO’s estimate of a 3.4% death rate from the virus saying, “I support the president’s judgement that we’re going to continue to learn more about this.” Appearing on CNN, Dr. Fauci also gave tempered support to Trump’s assertion, saying that “clearly” the death rate was lower than 3.4% but it was unknown how much lower. An anonymous administration official attempted to clean up Trump’s remarks on Hannity about sick people continuing to go to work, telling NPR that the president was referring to telework.

  • Trump admitted that he is ignoring CDC advice to stop shaking hands saying “there’s no nice way” not to do it. On a visit to Washington state, Pence used an “elbow bump” to safely greet participants in his briefing. On a visit to 3M in Minnesota, Vice President Pence urged healthy people not to buy or wear facemasks and reduce the supply available for those who really need them. This came less than 24 hours after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) facetiously wore a gas mask on the floor of the House while debating the coronavirus funding bill.

  • The Senate passed the emergency coronavirus spending bill 96-1, with Rand Paul voting no. During debate on the bill, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) continued to push the false narrative that the Grassley drug pricing bill would ensure that coronavirus drugs are affordable.

  • Questions about the affordability and availability of testing and treatment continued with Washington and California mandating that insurers waive copays and deductibles for testing and AHIP, the country’s largest health insurance trade group, announcing that its members will voluntarily cover all coronavirus tests. Vice President Pence admitted that there are not enough tests available saying, “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.” A cruise ship with thousands of potentially ill passengers remains anchored off San Francisco as acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli and HHS Assistant Secretary Robert Kadlac testified that there is not sufficient quarantine and treatment capacity available to bring people ashore.

  • nurse at a Kaiser hospital in northern California has come forward to say that she is currently in quarantine after treating a coronavirus patient and being denied testing by the CDC even though her doctor and county public health provider have ordered it. In response, a CDC spokesperson said they were unaware of the nurses case but would “recommend a health care worker who had contact with a confirmed case and then became ill be tested.” A Vice reporter said she returned from a reporting trip to the epicenter of Italy’s outbreak and was asked no questions at US customs at JFK about where she had been or if she had had contact with sick people. Anthony Fauci appeared on CNN’s New Day on Friday morning to say that virus screening got off to “a slow start” and there were some “missteps” with regard to the CDC’s test, but the problems have now been addressed.

Federal Preparedness
Axios: We should have seen the coronavirus coming
CNN: Pence admits ‘we don’t have enough tests’ to meet demands as delay in coronavirus testing persists
CNN: DHS denies 241 people entry at US ports and airports over coronavirus
Bloomberg: U.S. to Miss Rollout Goal This Week on Virus Tests, Senators Say
Bloomberg: The Search for New Drugs for Coronavirus Faces Long Odds
Kaiser Health News: During A Pandemic, States’ Patchwork Of Crisis Plans Could Mean Uneven Care 
Kaiser Health News: Blood Drives — And Donors — Fall Off As Coronavirus Worries Grow
NBC News: Officials Say Coronavirus Tests Are Here. Where Are They?
NBC News: Scientists were close to a coronavirus vaccine years ago. Then the money dried up.
New York Times: Nursing Homes Are Starkly Vulnerable To Coronavirus
Politico: Nursing homes inspectors to focus on preventing infections, CMS says
Politico: Squabble over mask shortage erupts as coronavirus spreads
Time: ‘Doomed from the Start.’ Experts Say the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response Was Never Going to Work
Washington Post: Expanded Coronavirus Testing May Overwhelm Lab Capacity, Say Some Experts
Washington Post: Sick cruise passengers await coronavirus test results at sea as officials debate quarantine
Washington Post: This regulation could protect health-care workers from the coronavirus. It hangs in limbo.
Washington Post: State Department blames ‘swarms of online, false personas’ from Russia for wave of coronavirus misinformation online

Affordability
Data for Progress: Voters Support Capping the Cost of the Coronavirus Vaccine
The Hill: Coronavirus testing could cost some patients extra
Huff Post: How The Government Could Make Coronavirus Treatment Affordable
New York Times: The Rich Are Preparing for Coronavirus Differently
Politico: Insurers promise to cover coronavirus tests, relax coverage policies
Politico: How the drug industry got its way on the coronavirus
Wall Street Journal: States, Insurers Move to Limit Coronavirus Testing Costs for Patients

Leadership
Huff Post: Amid A Global Crisis, Trump Keeps Lying And Misleading About Pretty Much Everything
Mother Jones: Here Are 17 Ways the Trump Administration Bungled Its Coronavirus Response
NPR: Trump’s Gut Collides With Science On Coronavirus Messaging
Politico: White House sidelines Azar from coronavirus response
Politico: Trump’s coronavirus musings put scientists on edge
Politico: A presidency of two for coronavirus: Trump hands his sidekick the job of a savior
Politico: The coronavirus is a globalist. Here are 5 ways that’s a problem for Trump.
Talking Points Memo: Trump Tries To Downplay Coronavirus Death Rate, Claims Virus Is ‘Not That Severe’
Talking Points Memo: The Trump Coronavirus Team Keeps Falsely Blaming Obama For Testing Disaster
Vox: “This is just my hunch”: Trump goes on Fox News and spreads misinformation about the coronavirus
Washington Post: Trump’s Inaccurate Coronavirus Vaccine Timeline
Washington Post: The Trump administration’s greatest obstacle to sending a clear message on coronavirus may be Trump himself
Washington Post (Analysis): Trump’s habit of fudging inconvenient numbers enters dangerous territory

Congressional Activity
The Hill: Congressional Leaders Downplay Possibility Of Capitol Closing Due To Coronavirus 
NBC: Senate passes $8.3 billion emergency bill to combat coronavirus
Politico: 6 things to know about the coronavirus funding package
Roll Call: Congressional leaders talk contingency plans for coronavirus on Capitol Hill

Economic Impacts
Axios: Southwest Airlines CEO compares coronavirus travel declines to post-9/11
Bloomberg: Airline Warnings Show Coronavirus’s Sudden Risk to U.S. Travel
Bloomberg: Costco’s February Sales Boosted by Surge in Virus-Fueled Demand
Buzzfeed: Uber Finally Told Its Drivers What To Do About Coronavirus: Wash Their Hands
CNN: ‘This is a crisis.’ Airlines face $113 billion hit from the coronavirus
Kaiser Health News: With Coronavirus Lurking, Conferences Wrestle With Whether To Cancel
USA Today: Coronavirus: Working At An Airport Without Health Insurance
Wall Street Journal: Amazon Dogged by Price Gouging as Coronavirus Fears Grow
Washington Post: U.S. markets tank as coronavirus outlook worsens

Opinion And Analysis
Crooked Media: Joe Biden, Republicans and Coronavirus
New York Times (Opinion): Trump’s Calamitous Coronavirus Response
New York Times (Opinion): When Coronavirus Quarantine Is Class Warfare
Playboy: COVID-19, Libel Lawsuits and the Search for Answers at the White House
ProPublica: I Lived Through SARS and Reported on Ebola. These Are the Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus.
Wall Street Journal (Opinion): The Case for a Big Coronavirus Stimulus
Washington Post (Outlook): Testing for the coronavirus might have stopped it. Now it’s too late.

In The States

California
Los Angeles Times: On Grand Princess, confusion, missteps reigned as coronavirus spread, passengers say
New York Times: California Reports First Coronavirus Death As Symptoms Swirl On Cruise Ship
Sacramento Bee: California directs some health insurers to waive co-pays, deductibles for coronavirus tests

Maryland
Baltimore Sun: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Wants To Tap Millions Of Dollars In Emergency Funds To Prepare For Coronavirus
Politico: Maryland declares state of emergency as 3 coronavirus cases confirmed

Massachusetts
Boston Globe: Biogen employees test positive for coronavirus as third case is announced in Mass.
WBUR: Gov. Baker Urges Schools, Colleges To Cancel International Travel Due To Coronavirus Concerns

New York
New York Times: After Family Gets Coronavirus, New York Suburb Is Gripped by Anxiety
New York Times: Coronavirus in N.Y.: 2,733 People Are Under Quarantines in City

North Carolina
Charlotte Observer: Contacts Of NC Coronavirus Patient Under Voluntary Quarantine
North Carolina Health News: Officials Say Get Ready For Coronavirus

Tennessee
WTVF: Gov. Bill Lee announces first confirmed case of coronavirus in Williamson County

Texas
Dallas Morning News: Houston-Area Man May Be First Texas Case Of Coronavirus Outside Quarantine

Washington
NPR: Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Tell Seattle Workers To Stay Home
New York Times: ‘We Anticipate She Has the Coronavirus. We Do Not Anticipate Her Fighting This.’
Reuters: Washington State Urges Patience As Covid-19 Test Delays Stoke Anger

Trump Tweets

“Gallup just gave us the highest rating ever for the way we are handling the CoronaVirus situation. The April 2009-10 Swine Flu, where nearly 13,000 people died in the U.S., was poorly handled. Ask MSDNC & lightweight Washington failure @RonaldKlain, who the President was then?” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/5/20]

“With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/5/20]

“I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work. This is just more Fake News and disinformation put out by the Democrats, in particular MSDNC. Comcast covers the CoronaVirus situation horribly, only looking to do harm to the incredible & successful effort being made!” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/5/20]

Sen. Chris Murphy, Protect Our Care Discuss President Trump’s Disastrous Response to Threat of Coronavirus; Highlight Poll Showing Americans’ Disapproval of Trump’s Handling of the Issue

Protect Our Care Discussed President Trump’s Decision to Put Politics Over Preparedness on Coronavirus and New Poll Showing Americans’ Grave Concerns Over His Response on a Press Call Today

Listen to the call HERE

Washington, DC — On a press call this afternoon, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Protect Our Care called out President Trump for his disastrous response to the threat of coronavirus and discussed how his failure to adequately prepare for this public health crisis makes Americans less safe. While health experts warn the public about the spread of coronavirus, the president continues to spout false information and contradict their advice at every turn. President Trump’s focus on politics has also eroded Americans’ confidence in his administration’s response. On the call, Protect Our Care unveiled a new poll from Public Policy Polling conducted for POC that shows a majority of voters are both very concerned about the spread of coronavirus and disapprove of the job the Trump administration is doing in preparing America for the growing threat.

Key findings from the poll:

  • 72% of voters say they’re concerned about the impact the coronavirus virus will have on the economy, including 36% who say they’re ‘very concerned.’ 
  • By a 20-point margin, voters say the Trump administration’s handling of the virus makes them less likely to vote for Trump this fall.
  • Independents say they’re less likely to vote for Trump by 32 points because of how he’s dealt with this issue.
  • Only 37% of voters agree with Trump’s assessment that his administration is doing a “great job” dealing with the coronavirus, while 53% disagree.
  • Voters are also concerned about the administration’s failure to commit to an affordable coronavirus vaccine – 67% of voters have serious concerns about the administration’s statement that “they can’t control that price.

“In many ways, this is the moment that a lot of us have worried about. A true public health threat presented to the country that this president was not ready to meet,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). “From the very beginning, this administration has not taken coronavirus seriously enough. I wish that we had an administration that understood there is no way to confront an epidemic of this potential size without a robust, early, federal response.”

“The president’s continued focus on politics over preparedness has eroded Americans’ confidence in his ability to keep them safe at a time when they need a leader they can trust,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach, who coordinated the global Ebola response for HHS under President Obama. “President Trump’s politicized response and disregard for the facts and the experts about the threat of coronavirus continues to put American lives at risk. The more the president spouts false information and contradicts health experts, the less prepared the public will be as the threat of the coronavirus grows.” 

On Coronavirus Affordability, Trump Fails the Test

Washington, DC — As worries about the spread of coronavirus rise, President Trump and his administration have failed to address concerns over the affordability of a future vaccine, treatment and testing. The lip service they have paid to the issue is belied by a health care record which includes a spike in the uninsured and a relentless war on coverage and protections afforded to millions through the health care law. 

“When it comes to Americans’ concerns about the affordability of a future coronavirus vaccine and the testing for and treatment of the virus, President Trump and his administration have failed miserably,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “President Trump refuses to commit to both an affordable vaccine and affordable care for the uninsured, the number of whom has increased by millions as a result of his policies. 

“What’s more, Trump’s war on health care will make our nation’s coronavirus response worse than it already is and put more people at risk of contracting and spreading the virus. His efforts to repeal the health care law or overturn it in court would take coverage away from 20 million Americans, deny protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions and would throw our health care system into total chaos. With all of this, it’s no wonder that polling released today shows Americans disapprove of President Trump’s handling of this crisis and are worried about the spread of the coronavirus as a result. Based on President Trump’s war on health care and his administration’s failures in the current crisis, Americans have every right to be concerned.” 

BACKGROUND:

The Trump administration has not committed to making the vaccine affordable. The Trump administration has failed to commit to making a potential coronavirus vaccine affordable. While the spending package passed in Congress includes some affordability language, Trump has made no plans to address access to treatment for the uninsured. 

Trump is pushing short-term junk plans that would not need to cover coronavirus treatment. Junk plans do not need to comply with the consumer protections established by the Affordable Care Act, including coverage of essential health benefits. The expansion of junk plans under Trump has already led to reports of patients receiving thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills. 

The uninsured rate is rising under Trump. Uninsured individuals are far less likely to seek medical treatment when they are sick. Amid growing concern about what would be done for uninsured patients seeking coronavirus tests, the Trump administration has so far deflected the problem. While Trump said the White House would “see if we can help them out,” Pence refused to answer questions on this subject altogether. At least 7 million people have already lost coverage under Trump, and experts warn that recent enactment of anti-immigration policies will only serve to deter more people from gaining coverage and seeking medical treatment.

Making matters worse, Trump is backing a lawsuit that would rip away coverage from 20 million people. The Trump administration is currently backing a lawsuit that overturn the Affordable Care Act and, if they are successful, 20 million people would lose insurance overnight. 

The administration’s promise to make coronavirus treatment an “essential health benefit” rings hollow and does not solve the problem of affordability. Any reliance on essential health benefits leaves millions of Americans out in the cold. EHBs only apply to ACA-compliant plans, which the administration is trying to eliminate through their lawsuit. EHBs are also subject to cost-sharing and deductibles, making treatment out of reach for many families. Per the New York Times’ Margot Sanger-Katz, “a change to EHB would require some sort of regulatory change. HHS has issued no new rule or guidance on this matter so far.” 

Americans have already received steep bills for seeking coronavirus treatment. One man in Florida who had traveled to China sought treatment for coronavirus symptoms and ended up with thousands of dollars in medical bills. A Pennsylvania man who had been quarantined with his daughter after returning from China received nearly $4,000 in medical bills. There has been no response from the administration on how to address existing medical bills from coronavirus. 

Republicans continue to reject guaranteed paid sick leave. Many experts have pointed out that American workers face serious barriers to taking time off when they are sick, which could contribute to the spread of the virus. As it stands, about 33.6 million workers do not have access to paid sick leave, and Republicans continue to block the passage of paid sick-leave legislation. During his appearance on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News, Trump implied that it was all right for people to continue to go to work while sick. 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — MARCH 5, 2020

Driving the Day: On a press call today with Senator Chris Murphy, Protect Our Care will unveil a new poll from PPP showing that voters are very concerned about the spread of coronavirus and strongly disapprove of the Trump administration’s response.

  • Trump’s handling of the coronavirus could threaten his reelection. By a 20-point margin, voters say his administration’s handling of the virus makes them less likely to vote for him this fall. Independents say they’re less likely to vote for Trump by 32 points because of how he’s dealt with this issue.

  • Only 37% of voters agree with Trump’s assessment that his administration is doing a “great job” dealing with the coronavirus, while 53% disagree.

What to Watch For: Today, the president will travel to Scranton, PA for a Fox News town hall at 6:30 PM. The vice president will travel to Minnesota to talk with 3M about increasing manufacture of face masks and protective gear. He will also travel to Washington state to meet with Gov. Jay Inslee address coronavirus response there. CNN will hold a “coronavirus town hall” beginning at 10:00 PM.

Coronavirus Update

  • At a meeting with airline executives, President Trump blamed the Obama administration for difficulties with the coronavirus test saying, “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing & we undid that decision a few days ago so that testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion.”

  • Vice President Pence attempted to clarify that Trump was referring to the fact that “the last administration asserted FDA jurisdiction over testing,” but experts pointed out that the the “regulatory jurisdiction” over lab tests being criticized by Trump was actually a draft guidance and not a regulation, and former Obama White House Ebola Czar Ron Klain responded, “Wasn’t a problem in rolling out massive Ebola testing program in 2014. if Trump people couldn’t manage, why didn’t they fix it 3 months ago?” Barack Obama then tweeted about the outbreak for the first time urging his followers to “Protect yourself and your community from coronavirus with common sense precautions: wash your hands, stay home when sick and listen to the @CDCgov and local health authorities. Save the masks for health care workers. Let’s stay calm, listen to the experts, and follow the science.”

  • At the airline meeting, Trump also hailed the “positive impact” of the virus, which he said meant that “People are staying in our country and they’re shopping and they’re using our hotels in this country.” In reality, the outbreak is “devastating” the domestic conference travel industry and Americans are reducing their shopping trips. At least nine people in the US have died from the virus.

  • On Wednesday night Trump appeared on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News and provided dangerously incorrect information to the roughly 3.5 million viewers of the show. Trump said he believed WHO estimates of the coronavirus death rate are “false” and that based on his “hunch,” he believes the actual number is “way under 1%.” Trump then said “a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild” and implied that it was all right for people to continue to go to work while sick, directly contradicting directives from the CDC and state and local public health authorities.

  • Pence met with nursing home executives and said new inspection procedures would be announced to detect and contain coronavirus. This followed an NBC report that detailed the Trump administration’s attempted rollback of nursing home regulations that could put residents at risk.

  • Pence confirmed an announcement from Seema Verma that coronavirus testing has been named an “essential health benefit” that will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. This benefit will only apply to ACA-compliant plans, which does not include short term “junk” plans that the Trump administration has greatly expanded access to. EHBs also do not apply to self-funded plans offered by large corporations and unions. Republican plans to repeal the ACA and the Texas lawsuit now before the Supreme Court would eliminate EHBs all together.

  • Pence and members of the task force did not respond to questions at their daily briefing about testing for the uninsured, but the vice president’s spokesperson, Katie Miller, said that testing has been provided for free to state labs. She did not address whether commercial testing would be provided for uninsured patients. The CEO of Moderna, the biotech company working on a vaccine, committed to pricing the product in line with other vaccines that prevent respiratory infections, but declined to give an exact price.

  • The House and Senate reached a deal on an $8.3 billion coronavirus funding bill. The bill leaves it up to the HHS Secretary to ensure that the commercial price of vaccines is affordable while providing $300 million for HHS to buy vaccines for the poor, and contains no offsets. The funding bill passed the House 415-2 with Ken Buck (R-CO) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) voting no. During debate over the funding bill, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) wore a gas mask on the House floor, in contravention of CDC recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus. Hours later the CDC director again urged members of the public not to buy respirator masks so that they will be available for health professionals.

Federal Preparedness
ABC News: Democratic Lawmaker On HHS Memo Linked To Whistleblower Complaint: ‘Totally Insufficient’
Associated Press: Frustration Rising Over Lack Of Access To Coronavirus Tests
Associated Press: San Antonio: CDC Planned To Drop Cruise Passengers At Mall
CNN: As US Coronavirus Death Toll Rises, CDC Says Communities Should Start Thinking About Ways To Stop Its Spread
Bloomberg: Feverish Americans Sweat It as Virus Testing Expands Slowly
Bloomberg: Some VA Stockpiles of Protective Medical Masks Aren’t Usable
Daily Beast: A U.S. Embassy Refused to Test Exposed Staff for Coronavirus
The Hill: Cicilline Urges CDC Chief To Alert States Of Travelers From Any Countries With Coronavirus
The Hill: Trump administration issues new guidance for nursing homes to combat coronavirus
HuffPost: Coronavirus Reveals A Gaping Hole In U.S. Workplace Safety Law
Kaiser Health News: Coronavirus Stress Test: Many 5-Star Nursing Homes Have Infection-Control Lapses
New York Times: Coronavirus Testing Offered With Just a Doctor’s Approval, C.D.C. Says
PBS NewsHour: With Novel Coronavirus Deaths Rising, Health Officials Face Grilling On Capitol Hill
Politico: Widespread Coronavirus Testing Could Still Be Weeks Away
Wall Street Journal: For Travelers Returning From Coronavirus Hot Spots, Little Clarity On Quarantining

Affordability
Bloomberg: Pharma’s Virus Response May Impact Trump’s Drug Pricing Plans
Business Insider: The CEO of the buzzy biotech that’s working on a potential coronavirus vaccine just pledged he won’t set a high price for the shot
New York Times (Editorial): Best Treatment for the Coronavirus? Paid Sick Leave
New York Times: Waive Fees For Coronavirus Tests And Treatment, Health Experts Urge
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Response Plan Exposes Vulnerabilities in U.S. Health-Care System
Washington Post: As coronavirus spreads, the people who prepare your food probably don’t have paid sick leave

Leadership
Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus hits critical moment in U.S.: Obama, Trump urge Americans to remain calm
Associated Press: A Disconnect Between Trump And Health Officials On Virus
Bloomberg: Trump Blames Obama Decision for Coronavirus Test Kit Shortage
CNN (Analysis): Coronavirus tests Trump’s credibility gap
The Hill: Pence pressed over coronavirus response in testy Senate briefing
HuffPost: Amid A Global Crisis, Trump Keeps Lying And Misleading About Pretty Much Everything
New York Times: Trump Makes Room For Experts, But Still Takes A Leading Role On Coronavirus
New York Times: Criticized for Coronavirus Response, Trump Points to Obama Administration
Politico: Trump launches an urgent fight to save his ticket to reelection
Politico: A few months? Trump’s vaccine hyperbole complicates coronavirus message
Vox: Trump donated $100,000 of his salary to fight coronavirus. He’s made much more than that off the presidency.

Congressional Activity
Politico: House swiftly passes bipartisan $8.3B coronavirus package
Buzzfeed: Senators Insist They Will Be Fine During A Coronavirus Outbreak And Won’t Need To Shut Down Congress
CNN: Rep. Matt Gaetz wears gas mask on House floor during vote on coronavirus response package

Economic Impacts
Axios: United Airlines cutting April flights amid coronavirus fears
Axios: The emerging coronavirus economy
Buzzfeed: Etsy Is Removing Coronavirus-Themed Merchandise
CBS News: Coronavirus Fears Shadow This Year’s March Madness Tournament
CNN: Oil consumption just fell off a cliff. OPEC is facing a huge test
CNN: Starbucks forced to halt the use of personal cups at its stores because of coronavirus
Financial Times: US companies tell Fed coronavirus has hit manufacturing, tourism
The Hill: Poll: Coronavirus Fears Dampen Sentiment About The Economy
The Hill: Facebook To Give ‘WHO As Many Free Ads As They Need’ For Coronavirus Response
Hollywood Reporter: ‘No Time To Die’ Release Delayed Due to Coronavirus Outbreak
New York Times: Sick Workers and Spooked Customers: Coronavirus Threatens Small Businesses
Vice: Coronavirus Porn Is Going Viral on Pornhub
Wall Street Journal: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Coronavirus Is ‘Going to Affect the Next Year’
Wall Street Journal: Stocks Jump on Virus Spending, Biden Wins
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Is Devastating The Conference Circuit
Washington Post: Purell prices are spiking on Amazon, as sanitizer speculation becomes a cottage industry
Washingtonian: The Washington Post Cancels Nonessential Travel Over Coronavirus Concerns

Opinion And Analysis
The Atlantic (Ideas): The Coronavirus Is Exposing the Limits of Populism
Foreign Affairs (Opinion): Pandemic Disease Is a Threat to National Security
Talking Points Memo (Opinion): The Best Way To Keep Big Pharma Interests Out Of Coronavirus Response Is To Ditch Azar
Time (Ideas): Want a Coronavirus Vaccine, Fast? Here’s a Solution
Wall Street Journal (Opinion): Covid-19 May Have You Working At Home

In The States
California
The Hill: Emergency declared in Los Angeles area after 6 new coronavirus cases reported
KNBC: New Case of Coronavirus Confirmed in West Los Angeles
KRON: Grand Princess cruise to return to San Francisco early as CDC investigates ‘small cluster’ of coronavirus cases linked to ship
Los Angeles Times: Santa Clara Advises Seniors To Avoid Large Gatherings As Two New Coronavirus Cases Confirmed
Los Angeles Times: Battling Coronavirus, California Distributing Millions Of Face Masks To Healthcare Providers
NBC: Medical screener at LAX airport tests positive for coronavirus
USA Today: First Californian to die from coronavirus likely caught it on cruise ship, health officials say

Florida
Tampa Bay Times: Coronavirus tests DeSantis’ pick for Florida surgeon general

Georgia
Atlanta Journal Constitution: Coronavirus to test Georgia’s chronic health gaps

Iowa
Des Moines Register: Coronavirus: Iowans Already Feeling Virus’ Effect In Business, Travel

New Hampshire
New Hampshire Public Radio: 2nd Person Tests Positive For Novel Coronavirus In N.H.

New York
New York Times: Coronavirus In N.Y.: Second Case Sets Off Search For Others Exposed
NBC News: Coronavirus Forces New York City Subways, Trains To Clean Up Their Act
Washington Post: How coronavirus spread in New York: From a man to his family. Then a neighbor. Then friends.

North Carolina
North Carolina Health News: Coronavirus Confirmed In North Carolina

Texas
Associated Press: San Antonio: CDC Planned To Drop Cruise Passengers At Mall

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — MARCH 4, 2020

Driving the Day: Axios highlighted how “the coronavirus may soon become a high-stakes reminder of the flaws in the U.S. health care system” especially for the nearly 28 million Americans who don’t have insurance. In fact, the number of uninsured Americans has gone up by 7 million people during Trump’s presidency, but that seemed to be news to him, just like this inevitable crisis. The president said yesterday, “they have a big problem and we’re going to look at the uninsured people that, you know, this came out as a surprise to all of us. It just happened. It shows what can happen in life … [we’re gonna] see if we can help them out.” Seema Verma and Vice President Pence declined to say what was being done for people without insurance.

What to Watch For: Vice President Pence and the coronavirus task force will hold a press briefing at 5:30 PM. At yesterday’s briefing the press was not permitted to audio or video record. The House is scheduled to vote on a coronavirus funding package as soon as today while the Senate remains stalled over vaccine cost issues.

Coronavirus Update 

  • In a speech to the National Association of Counties, President Trump took credit for asking pharma executives to, “do me a favor” and “speed up” development of a coronavirus vaccine. Trump continued to assert that the outbreak was a total surprise “Six weeks ago, eight weeks ago, you never heard of this. All of a sudden it’s got the world aflutter….things happen that you never would even think would happen.” The White House announced that Trump will donate his Q4 2019 salary of $100,000 to coronavirus efforts at HHS and was lavishly praised by Alex Azar for “his leadership and commitment to protecting the American people.”

  • In testimony before the Senate HELP Committee, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn walked back his controversial claim that one million coronavirus test kits would be ready by the end of the week and said that only “up to a million” tests would be ready. In the same hearing, HHS’s recenty named coronavirus coordinator Robert Kadlec told Mitt Romney that U.S. will need 3.5 billion N95 respirator masks in the most severe scenario and currently has only 10 percent of what’s needed. A viral Twitter thread from a woman in Washington state detailed difficulties accessing testing and general confusion among public health authorities in the state and a report from CBS 4 Miami detailed similar problems in Florida. Politico reported that CDC officials denied entry to FDA scientist last month when he came to assist with problems with testing.

  • Concerns over insurance coverage and payment for coronavirus treatment and quarantine continue to grow as the Trump administration floated the idea of paying hospitals 110% of Medicare reimbursement rates to treat virus patients under a disaster recovery program. En route to his visit to NIH, Trump was asked what should be done about uninsured patients. He responded “We’re looking at that whole situation” and “There are many people without insurance, and we’re looking at that situation for those people.” Asked again at NIH how much money should go to hospitals for the uninsured, Trump said “We’re going to look at the uninsured, because they have a big problem. And we’re going to look at the uninsured people that, you know, this came as a surprise to all of us…It shows what can happen in life.” Even extreme conservative members of Congress such as Rep. Ted Yoho expressed support for “socialized medicine” to provide free treatment and testing for the virus.

  • At an afternoon press briefing, Seema Verma confirmed that Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance will cover coronavirus testing as a diagnostic test. Verma and Pence declined to say what was being done for people without insurance. A report from NBC detailed the ways in which Verma’s rollback of nursing home regulations may be putting residents at risk for coronavirus.

  • In the Senate, talks on a coronavirus funding package appear stalled over drug pricing language. Democrats want to ensure that any vaccine or treatment will be affordable for every American who needs it. Senator Bill Cassidy erroneously claimed that the Grassley-Wyden drug bill would make COVID-19 drugs affordable.

  • In the House, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, requested a staff-level briefing on HHS’ efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and plans to ensure all Americans can afford the treatment, after Azar in a letter to the Illinois Democrat vowed to work with the private sector to keep prices affordable. Rep. Donna Shalala encouraged the House Democrats not to aggressively go after Trump’s team: “We’ve got to give them some space. Everybody stumbles out of the block.”

  • President Trump has no coronavirus-specific events today. Vice President Pence will meet with airline executives at the White House. The coronavirus task force will hold a press briefing at 5:30 PM. The House and Senate will hold a meeting today on how to protect the Capitol from coronavirus. Members of Congress believe that the virus will affect them but are adamant that Congress will not shut down.

National Headlines
The Atlantic: The Official Coronavirus Numbers Are Wrong, and Everyone Knows It
Axios: Coronavirus could expose the worst parts of the U.S. health system
Bloomberg: It’s Too Late for U.S. to Fight Virus With Domestic Travel Curbs
Bloomberg: Virus Study Finds Most Risk Among Family, Less for Others
Daily Beast: Democrats Plan for Coronavirus Convention Chaos in Milwaukee
Daily Beast: U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Keep Climbing. So Do Fears of Spread.
Huffington Post: The Coronavirus Is Challenging What Our Politicians Think About ‘Medicare For All’
Kaiser Health News: Analysis: One Sure Thing About COVID-19: No Telling How Many People Have It
Mother Jones: Staying Safe from Coronavirus Is a Lot Harder If You Live on the Streets
NBC: ‘We simply do not understand why’: Coronavirus is sparing children, puzzling experts
New York Times: Why the Coronavirus Seems to Hit Men Harder Than Women
New York Times: ‘When Is It Going To End?’: Where Coronavirus Has Turned Deadly In The U.S.
New York Times: Waive Fees for Coronavirus Tests and Treatment, Health Experts Urge
Politico: Coronavirus emergency bill stalled over vaccine cost concerns
ProPublica: U.S. Hospitals Say They’re Ready for Coronavirus. Their Infection Control Violations Say Otherwise.
Roll Call: Coronavirus funding talks held up over drug price language
Stat: The coronavirus could help pharma reset its reputation in Washington
Wall Street Journal: Hospitals, Companies Race to Develop Tests to Spot Coronavirus-Linked Illness
Washington Post: Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States
Washington Post: Coronavirus triggers cancellations, closures and contingency planning across the country

Federal Preparedness
Bloomberg: Pence Visited School Where Student Is in Coronavirus Quarantine
CNN: Trump Contradicted By Task Force Health Expert About Coronavirus Vaccine Timing
CNN: Spread Of Coronavirus Gives White House A Grave Stress Test
Daily Beast: Student Quarantined Days After Classmates Shook Mike Pence’s Hand, Report Says
National Geographic: U.S. has only a fraction of the medical supplies it needs to combat coronavirus
NPR: CDC Criticized For Its Slow Release Of Coronavirus Testing Kits
NBC: Amid coronavirus outbreak, Trump administration’s proposed rollback of nursing home regulations faces criticism
New York Times: Estimates Fall Short of F.D.A.’s Pledge for 1 Million Coronavirus Tests
New York Times: Pence Says Risk To Americans From Coronavirus Remains Low
Politico: ‘This is the equivalent of war’: Pence faces the toughest test of the Trump era
Politico: Trump’s team shifts tone from preventing coronavirus to containing it
Politico: CDC blocked FDA official from premises
Politico: CDC opens up coronavirus testing, Pence says
Stat: Seeking Help With Coronavirus, Trump Shifts His Tone Toward Pharma
Vox: Trump’s ignorance was on public display during coronavirus meeting with pharmaceutical execs
Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Considering Paying Hospitals for Treating Uninsured Coronavirus Patients
Washington Post: Trump coronavirus effort undermined by mixed messages and falsehoods

In The States
California
San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Not A Matter Of If, But When:’ SF Officials Plan For Local Spread Of Coronavirus
San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Uneasy And Frustrated’: California Health Workers Worry As Coronavirus Spreads

Florida
Sarasota Herald Tribune: Coronavirus Florida: Mother and son at Sarasota Military Academy under quarantine

New Hampshire
Associated Press: Authorities Confirm New Hampshire’s 1st Case Of Coronavirus
NBC: N.H. coronavirus patient breaks isolation, potentially exposing others

New York
The Hill: New York Insurers Ordered To Waive Costs Associated With Coronavirus Testing
New York Times: Coronavirus in N.Y.: Cuomo Confirms Second Case in the State

Texas 
Politico: Texas Governor Slams CDC For Releasing San Antonio Coronavirus Patient

Washington
KUOW: First responders and medical staff test positive for coronavirus. UW doctors not getting masks
Seattle Times: Officials and shelters prepare for coronavirus in Seattle-area homeless population as illness brings more deaths
Stat: Washington State risks seeing explosion in coronavirus cases without dramatic action, new analysis says
Wall Street Journal: Firefighters In Isolation After Responding To Nursing Home With Virus Outbreak
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Spreads in Washington State as Amazon Worker Tests Positive
New York Times: Coronavirus Deaths Tied to Nursing Center Came Earlier Than Anyone Knew

Economic Impacts
Associated Press: An NCAA Tournament with empty arenas? It can’t be ruled out
Bloomberg: Americans Cut Back on Trips to the Store as Virus Spreads
Bloomberg: JPMorgan Tests U.S. Virus Plan With Thousands Working From Home
Business Insider: Google halts international travel for all employees worldwide due to coronavirus concerns
Buzzfeed: Google Cancels I/O, Its Biggest Annual Event, Following Coronavirus Fears
CNBC: Trump demands ‘more easing and cutting’ after Fed slashes rates amid coronavirus outbreak
CNBC: Amazon, Intel, Cisco and Salesforce back out of health-tech conference HIMSS due to coronavirus
Daily Beast: IMF and World Bank Won’t Hold Spring Meetings in Washington Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
New York Times: Is Fiscal Stimulus the Answer to Preventing a Coronavirus Recession?
New York Times: As Coronavirus Disrupts Factories, India Curbs Exports of Key Drugs
Wall Street Journal: Global Stocks Push Higher as Markets Remain Volatile
Wall Street Journal: Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates By Half Percentage Point
Wall Street Journal: Makers of Wipes and Hand Sanitizers Step Up Production as Coronavirus Spreads
Washington Post: Trump Calls For Fed Rate Cut As U.S. Deaths Rise; Finance Chiefs Plot Economic Rescue
Washington Post: Long lines, low supplies: Coronavirus chaos sends shoppers into panic-buying mode

Opinion And Analysis
The Atlantic (Ideas): Trump’s Playbook Is Terribly Ill-Suited to a Pandemic
CNN (Opinion): Surgeon general: Be cautious, but not afraid of coronavirus
Los Angeles Times (Column): The coronavirus crisis exposes the stupidity of Trump’s healthcare policies
New York Magazine (Jon Chait): Trump Officials Scared to Anger Trump If They Tell the Truth About the Coronavirus
Politico: Trump Is Turning Coronavirus Into a Useful Enemy
Washington Post (Analysis): Trump’s baffling coronavirus vaccine event

Trump Tweets
“The National Institutes of Health is home to some of the greatest doctors, scientists, and researchers in the world. Thank you for all your doing @NIH, keep up the great work!” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/3/20] “The Federal Reserve is cutting but must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors. We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA. It is finally time for the Federal Reserve to LEAD. More easing and cutting!” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/3/20]

IN THE NEWS: Trump’s Health Care Sabotage Front and Center in 2020 as Supreme Court to Take Up Trump’s Lawsuit to Destroy American Health Care in Upcoming Term

Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it would grant cert in Texas v. United States, the Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Press reports swiftly pointed out that with the court’s move to decide the fate of the ACA in its upcoming term, Trump faces a health care “nightmare” in his reelection bid. If his lawsuit is successful, Trump will have to answer for stripping coverage from millions, raising premiums and ending protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions during the 2020 election.

Associated Press: Supreme Court’s Decision To Weigh In On Texas Lawsuit “Will Keep Health Care Squarely In Front Of Voters.” “The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a lawsuit that threatens the Obama-era health care law, a case that will keep health care squarely in front of voters even though a decision won’t come until after the 2020 election.” [Associated Press, 3/2/20

Associated Press: The Trump Administration “Has Always Supported Getting Rid Of Provisions That Prohibit Insurance Companies From Discriminating Against People With Existing Health Ailments.” “The Trump administration’s views on the law have shifted over time, but it has always supported getting rid of provisions that prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against people with existing health ailments. Even as the administration seeks to overturn “Obamacare” in court, President Donald Trump has claimed people with preexisting conditions would still be protected. Neither the White House nor congressional Republicans have specified how.” [Associated Press, 3/2/20

Axios: The Supreme Court Could Be Trump’s ACA Nightmare. “The Supreme Court’s next big Affordable Care Act case could be a huge political problem for President Trump. Why it matters: The Trump administration will spend the next several months urging the court to strip away some 20 million people’s health insurance and to throw out protections for pre-existing conditions. And it may all come to a head just before Election Day.” [Axios, 3/3/20]

CNN: Obamacare Arguments Put Supreme Court And Health Care In Presidential Election Spotlight. “The Supreme Court agreed Monday to once again become the decider on the future of Obamacare — the controversial law that has become a fabric of society for the millions of Americans who have come to rely upon it. But the justices ensured something else as well. They guaranteed that over the next several months, as the presidential election rages on and legal briefs flood the zone, the fate of the law and the court will be front and center during the campaign.” [CNN, 3/2/20

Washington Post: Supreme Court’s Obamacare Review Cheers Democrats With Election Year Health-Care Focus.” The Supreme Court on Monday said it will review the latest Republican efforts to doom the Affordable Care Act, guaranteeing that partisan battles over health care will remain at the forefront of public debate in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign.” [Washington Post, 3/2/20

New York Times: “One Issue That Could Be Particularly Consequential For The Election Is The Threat The Case Poses To The Law’s Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions.” “One issue that could be particularly consequential for the election is the threat the case poses to the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Those protections, which bar insurers from denying coverage to people with past or chronic illnesses or charging them more, are popular with Americans of all political persuasions. Democrats made them a huge focus of their successful 2018 effort to retake the House, and will undoubtedly put them front and center again.” [New York Times, 3/2/20

POLITICO: The Supreme Court’s Decision “Increases Pressure On President Donald Trump Over Health Care, A Top Concern For Voters And An Issue That Has Benefited Democrats Since The GOP’s Failed Effort To Repeal Obamacare.” “The Supreme Court on Monday said it will take up a Republican challenge to Obamacare, in a move that boosts Democrats who want to highlight the lawsuit’s threat to health care coverage during campaign season. The justices said they would hear the case, likely later this year, after turning down an earlier request from Democrats to fast-track a ruling by June. The decision increases pressure on President Donald Trump over health care, a top concern for voters and an issue that has benefited Democrats since the GOP’s failed effort to repeal Obamacare during Trump’s first year in office.” [POLITICO, 3/2/20]

Vox: The Red States’ Legal Arguments Against Obamacare Are Widely Viewed As Ridiculous, Even By Many Lawyers And Scholars Who Spent Much Of The Last Decade Trying To Convince The Courts To Repeal [The ACA].” The red states’ legal arguments against Obamacare are widely viewed as ridiculous, even by many lawyers and scholars who spent much of the last decade trying to convince the courts to repeal President Obama’s signature achievement. Jonathan Adler, a conservative law professor — and a leading evangelist for an earlier lawsuit seeking to undercut the Affordable Care Act by reading a poorly drafted provision of the law to cut off much of the act’s funding — labeled many of the red states’ arguments ‘implausible,’ ‘hard to justify,’ and ‘surprisingly weak.’ The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board labeled this lawsuit the ‘Texas Obamacare Blunder.’ Yuval Levin, a prominent conservative policy wonk, wrote in the National Review that the Texas lawsuit ‘doesn’t even merit being called silly. It’s ridiculous.’” [Vox, 3/2/20]

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE — MARCH 3, 2020

Driving the Day: At her first press briefing as a member of the coronavirus task force, Seema Verma declined to say whether coronavirus treatment is covered under Medicaid and Medicare, saying that her office was “looking at” which products and treatments will be paid for. Refusing to ensure that some of the most vulnerable Americans have access to treatment and eventually a vaccine is just more evidence that the Trump administration isn’t serious about mitigating this outbreak and protecting Americans.

What to Watch For: Today President Trump and Vice President Pence will visit the NIH in Bethesda. Pence will speak to senators from both parties about coronavirus at their lunch meetings. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will lead an emergency G-7 conference call on the economic fallout of the virus. Pence and the task force will hold a press briefing in the afternoon.

Coronavirus Update

  • Speaking to the press while meeting with President Ivan Duque of Colombia, President Trump said that he has asked pharmaceutical companies to “accelerate whatever they’re doing in terms of a vaccine,” and reassured his supporters that it is “very safe” for him to continue to hold campaign rallies during the outbreak. At the meeting with pharmaceutical executives, Trump said he heard that a vaccine can be ready in three to four months and was corrected by Dr. Anthony Fauci who said the vaccine won’t be ready to deploy for at least a year. Trump also had to be corrected by the executives when he asked if the flu vaccine could be used to combat coronavirus. Trump also had to be corrected by the executives when he asked if the flu vaccine could be used to combat coronavirus.

  • At his rally in North Carolina on Monday night, Trump celebrated the stock market rebound and praised pharmaceutical executives who he said would have a vaccine ready “relatively soon” as well as “something that makes you better, and that’s going to actually take place we think even sooner.” Trump accused Democrats of politicizing the crisis and “denigrating the noble work of our public health professionals” and attacked “fringe globalists” who want to keep borders open and allow infection into the US.

  • As reports continued to come out about delays in testing and a lack of transparency from CDC, HHS announced Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec as the agency’s point person on coronavirus, and Vice President Pence committed to holding a daily press conference on the outbreak. Monday evening, Alex Azar appeared on Fox News where he was grilled by host Lou Dobbs about the issues with testing and transparency in a confrontational interview. Azar also appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox for a friendlier interview.

  • Experts are continuing to shape and censor their response to the crisis around President Trump. The New York Times reports that Defense Secretary Mark Esper has warned military commanders not to “surprise” the president or contradict White House messaging as they prepare the armed forces for a potential outbreak. Monday afternoon the CDC abruptly canceled a scheduled news conference and removed information about the number of coronavirus tests that have been run nationally. The White House later released a roundup of “top tweets” from Republicans praising Trump’s coronavirus response. Experts also questioned FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn’s claim that one million coronavirus tests would be available in the US by the end of the week, a number which far exceeds what public health labs say they are able to run.

  • In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a directive “requiring NY health insurers to waive cost sharing associated with testing for #coronavirus, including emergency room, urgent care and office visits,” including for New Yorkers covered by Medicaid. On the Hill, lobbyists for the the American Hospital Association and other industry groups are asking Congress to fund treatment and quarantines.

  • Echoing comments made by his brother last week, Eric Trump appeared on Fox and Friends to accuse Democrats of “hoping and wishing for something bad” and using coronavirus to attack his father.

  • The White House announced that Trump will address the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando, FL on Monday, March 9. While in Orlando, Trump will also hold a fundraiser for his reelection. Pence will meet with airline CEOs at the White House on Wednesday, executives from 3M on Thursday and with cruise line CEOs in Florida on Saturday.

  • Buzzfeed, the New York Times and the Washington Post have all launched daily coronavirus newsletters.

National Headlines

ABC: Focusing on health care, House Democrats target Trump’s response to COVID-19 in new ads

Bloomberg: Can We Get a Vaccine Early? How the Rich Prepare for Outbreak

Daily Beast: Obama’s Ebola Point Man: Trump’s Got a Coronavirus Credibility Problem

Huff Post: Elizabeth Warren Announces Plan For Swift Federal Action On Coronavirus

The Intercept: How The Senate Paved The Way For Coronavirus Profiteering, And How Congress Could Undo It

New York Times: Close to a Million in U.S. Could Be Tested for Coronavirus This Week

Politico: Trump lobs political attacks amid uneven coronavirus messaging

Politico: Health care lobby urges Congress to foot the bill for coronavirus quarantines

Politico: Some states encourage mail-in ballots as coronavirus worries grow

Stat: Partisan bickering delayed Zika funding for months. With coronavirus, experts worry history will repeat itself

USA Today: ‘This is not sustainable’: Public health departments, decimated by funding cuts, scramble against coronavirus

Washington Post: Officials still don’t want to call the coronavirus a pandemic. But experts say that’s what it is.

Washington Post: Fake cures and other coronavirus conspiracies are flooding WhatsApp, leaving governments and users with a ‘sense of panic’

Federal Preparedness

Daily Beast: Defense Intelligence Agency Bans Some Travel, Sources Say

Kaiser Health News: In An Exchange About Coronavirus, Homeland Security Chief Gets Flu Mortality Rate Wrong

NBC: FEMA preparing for possible coronavirus emergency declaration

New York Times: As Coronavirus Numbers Rise, C.D.C. Testing Comes Under Fire

New York Times: Defense Secretary Warns Commanders Not to Surprise Trump on Coronavirus

Politico: CDC abruptly postpones coronavirus press briefing

Politico: Azar in the crosshairs for delays in virus tests

Politico: HHS taps Kadlec to run department’s coronavirus response

Politico: ‘You don’t want to go to war with a president’: How Dr. Anthony Fauci is navigating the coronavirus outbreak in the Trump era.

Politico: FDA chief’s claim of 1M coronavirus tests by end of week stirs controversy

Task and Purpose: The Army is working overtime to develop a coronavirus vaccine

Vox: Pence and Azar’s coronavirus media tour revealed that their main concern is protecting Trump

Washington Post: Major airlines, U.S. officials clash over passenger tracking related to coronavirus cases

In The States

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Officials confirm Georgia’s first 2 cases of coronavirus

Bloomberg: Washington Gov. Inslee Seeking $100M for Coronavirus Outbreak

CNN: Woman Whose Husband Is Being Cared For At Washington Nursing Facility Demands Answers After State Says Its Investigating A Possible Outbreak At The Site

KIRO: Coronavirus: Deaths in Washington rise to 6

New York Times: Coronavirus in N.Y.: Outbreak Will Spread in City, Officials Warn

Sacramento Bee: Coronavirus evacuees passed through California military base. Did safety plan break down?

San Antonio Express News: San Antonio mayor declares local public health emergency over coronavirus

WFOR: Coronavirus Confusion: Miami Woman Allegedly Denied Proper Testing

WFXT: Second presumptive positive case of coronavirus tested in Mass., health officials say

Economic Impacts

Associated Press: Dow surges 5% on hopes for central bank help on the economy

Associated Press: NBA to players: Avoid high-fives as virus concern grows

Bloomberg: Virus Pushes the Global Economy Closer to a Contraction

Bloomberg: Trump Team Weighs Virus Responses to Contain Economic Fallout

CNN: Amazon deleted 1 million items for price gouging or false advertising about coronavirus

New York Times: Economists Slash Global Growth Forecasts as Coronavirus Spreads

Reuters: White House set to meet with senior airline, cruise industry officials

Vox: Twitter told its 5,000 employees to work from home because of the coronavirus

Washington Post: Uber, Lyft Drivers Face The Spread Of Coronavirus With No Safety Net

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Is Different. It’s Rapidly Hitting Supply And Demand.

Opinion

Politico (Opinion): How Mike Pence Made Indiana’s HIV Outbreak Worse

New York Times (Opinion): Donna Shalala: Drop the Politics and Fight Coronavirus

New York Times (Opinion): Only Doctors Can Save the Markets From the Coronavirus

New York Times (Opinion): Coronavirus Will Test Our Connected Way of Life

Stat (Opinion): The coronavirus exposes our health care system’s weaknesses. We can be stronger

USA Today (Opinion): Coronavirus isn’t about Trump’s stock market and 2020 odds. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Washington Post (Opinion): Trump Is Pushing A Dangerous, False Spin On Coronavirus — And The Media Is Helping Him Spread It

Trump Tweets

President Trump Continues to Put Politics Over the Health Care and Safety of Americans with Rally in North Carolina Today

President’s Rally Comes on the Heels of His Widely Panned Response to Coronavirus and News Today That the Supreme Court Will Hear His Lawsuit to Overturn the ACA 

Washington, DC — While Americans grapple with the ongoing threat of the spread of coronavirus, President Trump chooses to hold yet another campaign rally tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina, his second in four days. Tonight’s rally also comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the ACA in its upcoming term. In response to the president’s deliberate choice to put politics over Americans’ health care and safety, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“President Trump’s disastrous health care agenda, including his politicized response to the threat of coronavirus and ongoing lawsuit to overturn the ACA, continues to put Americans’ lives at risk. Instead of reassuring the American people that he is taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously or dropping his lawsuit that puts the health care of 20 million at risk, including over half a million North Carolinians, he calls coronavirus a ‘hoax’ and continues supporting the lawsuit. It’s clear the president has no interest in taking the threat of coronavirus seriously, as any other president wouldn’t play politics while the world grapples with a potential pandemic of this magnitude. President Trump’s lack of preparedness and his eagerness to take health care away from 20 million Americans not only spreads fear but threatens peoples’ health care at a time they’re worried about it the most.”

BACKGROUND: 

Trump-Backed Texas Lawsuit Would Devastate North Carolinians

If Trump Gets His Way, 503,000 North Carolinians Would Lose Their Coverage

  • 503,000 North Carolinians could lose coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 503,000 North Carolinians would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 43 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
  • 70,000 North Carolina young adults with their parents’ coverage could lose care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults are able to stay on their parents’ care until age 26.
  • 96,000 North Carolina children could lose their coverage. Almost three million children nationwide gained coverage thanks to the ACA. If the law is overturned, many of these children will lose their insurance.
  • 79,600 North Carolina Latinos could lose coverage. The percentage of people gaining health insurance under the ACA was higher for Latinos than for any other racial or ethnic group in the country. According to a study from Families USA, 5.4 million Latinos nationwide would lose coverage if the lawsuit succeeds in overturning the ACA.
  • North Carolinians would lose important federal health care funding — an estimated reduction of $4.6 billion in the first year. The Urban Institute estimates that a full repeal of the ACA would reduce federal spending on North Carolinians’ Medicaid/CHIP care and Marketplace subsidies by $4.6 billion. 

For more information on the impact of the Texas lawsuit on North Carolina, click here

President Donald Trump: Coronavirus Is The Democrats’ “New Hoax” “With your help we have exposed the far left’s corruption and defeated their sinister schemes and let’s see what happens in the coming months. Let’s watch. Let’s just watch. Very dishonest people. Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’, ‘Oh, nothing, nothing.’ They have no clue, they don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa, they can’t even count. No, they can’t. They can count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since she got in. It’s all turning, they lost. It’s all turning, think of it, think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country and because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.” [Donald Trump, Rally, North Charleston, SC, 2/28/20

Business Insider: “Public Concern Is Rising That The U.S.’s Expensive Health Care System Could Create A Barrier Discouraging People From Seeking Life-Saving Care For COVID-19.” “Health officials, though, are warning that its spread in the US is ‘inevitable’ and urging Americans to prepare, holding out the possibility of school closings, workplace shutdowns, or the cancellation of large public gatherings. Yet public concern is rising that the US’s expensive healthcare system could create a barrier discouraging people from seeking life-saving care for COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — and accelerate its spread around the country.” [Business Insider, 2/29/20

  • The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt Said “There’s An Important Link Between Broader Health Care Policies Like The Affordable Care Act And Responding To A Potential Public Health Emergency.” “‘There’s an important link between broader healthcare policies like the Affordable Care Act and responding to a potential public health emergency like this virus,’ Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Business Insider. Levitt added that providing people access to inexpensive healthcare is ‘key to both preventing the spread of a virus like this and getting people who are sick treated.'”
  • John Cogan, Professor Of Health Insurance Law And Financial Regulation At The University Of Connecticut, Said That He Is Concerned About The Affordability Of A Potential Coronavirus Vaccine With The Threat Of Trump’s Lawsuit To Repeal The ACA And Other Efforts To Sabotage The Health Care Law. “Under the ACA, health insurers must cover federally-recommended vaccines at no cost for most people, according to John Cogan, a professor of health insurance law and financial regulation at the University of Connecticut…Cogan said he’s still concerned about whether a coronavirus vaccine will be affordable, given the Trump administration’s support of a lawsuit that would scrap Obamacare in its entirety. He noted that Trump has sought to weaken and dismantle the health law throughout his presidency— one way was introducing cheaper short-term insurance plans that don’t cover costly services like hospital care or protect people with pre-existing conditions.”