Driving the Day: In a Politico exclusive, “A looming shortage in lab materials is threatening to delay coronavirus test results and cause officials to undercount the number of Americans with the virus.” Meanwhile, on CNN’s New Day on Tuesday morning, HHS Secretary Alex Azar reiterated that the administration does not know exactly how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus, but at the task force press conference he maintained that there is a “surplus capacity” of tests that have been produced.
What to Watch For: Today President Trump will meet with bankers to discuss coronavirus response and have dinner with Vice President Pence at the Naval Observatory. Vice President Pence will meet with hospital executives and address the National League of Cities. The coronavirus task force will hold a press briefing at 5:30 PM. The House Oversight and Homeland Security committees will hold hearings on coronavirus response.
Speaking to reporters after meetings with Republicans on the Hill, President Trump said of the virus, “It will go away, just stay calm.” Trump insisted that “The U.S. has done a very good job on testing,” despite the fact that only 5,000 Americans have been tested so far. Trump said he himself had not been tested despite his contact with lawmakers who are now self-quarantining after interacting with a coronavirus patient at CPAC because, “I don’t think it’s a big deal. I would do it. I don’t feel any reason. I feel extremely good.” Trump also emphasized that as the nation approaches this public health crisis, “We want to protect our shipping industry, our cruise ships.”
At a meeting with insurance industry CEOs, Vice President Pence announced that insurance companies have agreed to no copays for coronavirus tests, and “no surprise billing.” Analysts say that this measure may not apply to people whose employers self-insure, which is 61% of those with employer-based insurance. HHS confirmed that uninsured people can “receive care at a Community Health Center at a reduced cost or free of charge depending on their economic status.” Washington state announced that it will open a special enrollment period for people seeking to buy health insurance to deal with coronavirus.
At the evening press conference Tuesday, task force members primarily focused on the economic response to coronavirus, with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, stating that Trump would like a payroll tax holiday to extend to the end of the year and declining to answer questions about how much the plan would cost or how it would work. After promising a briefing on the economic plan, Trump himself was a no-show at the evening press conference.
Problems and delays with testing remained front and center with the New York Times reporting that for weeks, thousands of flu samples sat in Seattle as the CDC blocked efforts to test and flag them for coronavirus and Politico reporting that a shortage of lab materials is delaying test results. CDC Director Robert Redfield testified before the House Appropriations committee on Tuesday where he was pressed by Rep. Jamie Herrerra-Beutler (R-WA) about why members of Congress have been able to get access to testing while her constituents have been left waiting. Redfield said there was “not enough equipment, not enough people, not enough internal capacity.” Late Tuesday night the Washington Post reported that Trump allies Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows were able to obtain testing in defiance of CDC guidelines reserving those tests for patients exhibiting symptoms of infection.
On CNN’s New Day on Tuesday morning, HHS Secretary Alex Azar reiterated that the administration does not know exactly how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus, but at the task force press conference he maintained that there is a “surplus capacity” of tests that have been produced.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both cancelled their upcoming rallies and crowd events, with Biden scheduling remarks on the crisis in Delaware on Thursday morning. The DNC announced that the March 15 presidential debate will proceed without an audience. Asked at the evening briefing whether the Trump campaign would continue to hold rallies, Pence said, “That’ll be a decision that’s made literally on a day-to-day basis.” One hour later, the Trump campaign announced a rally-type event at a convention center in Milwaukee on March 19. The plans for the event came amid reports of the third confirmed case of coronavirus in Wisconsin.
Federal Health Response
Axios: White House debated halting travel from South Korea, Italy
Bloomberg: Coronavirus Containment Chance Missed, U.S. Aims to Blunt Impact
CNN: Department of Veterans Affairs adopts ‘no visitors’ policy at nursing homes due to coronavirus
The Hill: Trump budget chief holds firm on CDC cuts amid virus outbreak
HuffPost: Prisons Are Ripe For Coronavirus Outbreak. They’re Not Ready.
NBC: The U.S. has tested more than 8,500 specimens for coronavirus. That doesn’t equal 8,500 patients.
New York Times: F.D.A. Halts Overseas Inspections of Drugs and Devices, Citing Coronavirus
New York Times: Rules Eased on Colleges Seeking to Close Their Campuses Amid Outbreak
New York Times: ‘It’s Just Everywhere Already’: How Delays in Testing Set Back the U.S. Coronavirus Response
Politico: U.S. coronavirus testing threatened by shortage of critical lab materials
Politico: Azar warns ‘medically fragile’ Americans against large gatherings — but stays mum on Trump rallies
Politico: CDC director breaks with Trump on claim that border wall will help stop coronavirus
Politico: Email crash impeded HHS response to coronavirus
Politico (Opinion): Coronavirus is a disaster. Why hasn’t FEMA been brought in?
Stat: Why ‘flattening the curve’ may be the world’s best bet to slow the coronavirus
Talking Points Memo: DOJ Faces Backlash For Ordering COVID-19 Posters Out Of Immigration Courts
Vox: Italy’s coronavirus crisis could be America’s
Vox: Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are stepping in on the coronavirus where the government has failed
Washington Post: Face masks in national stockpile have not been substantially replenished since 2009
Washington Post: Trump administration wants hundreds of thousands of federal workers to be ready to telework full time
Yahoo: Only 6,563 Americans have been tested for the coronavirus so far
Federal Economic Response
Bloomberg: Trump Tells GOP He Wants Payroll Tax Waived Through Election
Bloomberg: Oil Lobbyists Call on Trump to Buy the Dip for Strategic Reserve
CNBC: White House plan for economic response to coronavirus is ‘not there right now,’ officials say
Politico: Trump seeks ‘big’ stimulus steps but aides are skeptical
Talking Points Memo: WH Punts Again On COVID-19 Economic Package Details Trump Promised
Wall Street Journal: White House Intensifies Push for Coronavirus Stimulus Measures
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Treasury Likely to Push Back April 15 Tax Filing Deadline, Sources Say
Washington Post: Trump’s meeting with Senate Republicans ends with no resolution on coronavirus economic plan
Washington Post: White House likely to pursue federal aid for shale companies hit by oil shock, coronavirus downturn
ABC News: As Stocks Dive And Coronavirus Spreads, Trump Compares COVID-19 To Common Flu
The Atlantic (Ideas): Incompetence Exacerbated by Malevolence
Associated Press: As Americans take virus precautions, Trump flouts advice
Bloomberg: Trump Is a No-Show After Promising Briefing on Economic Plan
Bloomberg: Trump’s Coronavirus Claims Often Contradicted by His Own Experts
Bloomberg: Trump’s Pivot: From Caution to ‘Major’ Economic Plan for Virus
Buzzfeed: Fox News And Donald Trump Are Embracing Xenophobia To Defend Against The Coronavirus
Daily Mail: Melania Trump touts her Be Best anti-cyberbullying push to national PTA conference but stays silent on coronavirus as schools scramble to respond to mounting crisis
The Hill: Pence says he and Trump will continue to shake hands despite coronavirus
National Review (Editorial): President Trump Needs to Step Up on the Coronavirus
NBC News: Trump’s Minimized View Of The Coronavirus Crisis Puts His Re-Election At Risk
New York Magazine: Fox Business Network: COVID-19 Is a ‘Coronavirus Impeachment Scam’
New York Times: Politicians’ Use Of ‘Wuhan Virus’ Starts A Debate Health Experts Wanted To Avoid
Talking Points Memo: Trump Offers Another Baselessly Cheery Take On COVID-19 Epidemic
Washington Post: Trump allies got coronavirus tests despite lack of symptoms and shortage
Washington Post (Editorial): Suddenly we need the ‘Deep State’ Trump has spent three years weakening and demeaning
Axios: Congress “last to leave” as other institutions send people home
Bloomberg: Democrats Urge Waivers from Green Card Rule for Virus Tests
The Hill: Leaders Tamp Down Talk Of Closing Capitol, Changing Schedule Over Coronavirus
HuffPost: Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Standoff: Paid Sick Leave, A Payroll Tax Cut — Or Both
Mother Jones: Elizabeth Warren Just Told Private Prisons to Release Their Coronavirus Plans
New York Times: Avoid Flights and Crowds? Try Telling That to Congress
Politico: Dems press ahead on coronavirus package as Senate waits for Trump
Washington Post: Trump pitches payroll tax cut through election to skeptical GOP senators
Washington Post (Analysis): Here’s a simple way for Congress to fight coronavirus: Fund community health centers
Affordability and Access
Associated Press: Spotty Sick Leave Policies Limit Options For Avoiding Virus
Axios: The push for paid sick leave
Bloomberg: McDonald’s to Pay Corporate Workers for Two Weeks in Quarantine
The City: The Cost Of Not Getting Tested For Coronavirus: A $10k ER Bill
The Hill (Opinion): Medicaid Expansion Should Be Part Of Our Emergency Response
New York Times: Coronavirus Outbreak Has America’s Homeless at Risk of ‘Disaster’
Stat (Opinion): If Covid-19 gets bad, triage will be needed. Are we ready for that?
Stat: Coronavirus Outbreak Tests Nation’s Emergency Medical Stockpile
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus School Closures Expose Digital Haves and Have-Nots
Campaigns and Elections
Daily Beast: Campaign 2020 Slowly Adjusting to Coronavirus, The Newest Biohazard of the Trade
HuffPost: Coronavirus Outbreak Isn’t Stopping Biden, Sanders From Shaking Hands
Los Angeles Times: Sanders, Biden cancel major Ohio rallies as coronavirus threat begins to disrupt campaign
New York Times: Sanders and Biden Cancel Events as Coronavirus Fears Upend Primary
Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Opens Economic Front In Presidential Campaign Battle
Economic And Social Impacts
The Atlantic (Ideas): Cancel Everything
Bloomberg: The Global Mask Shortage May Get Much Worse
Bloomberg: Tokyo Olympic Official to Raise Possibility of Delay, Kyodo Says
Bloomberg: Coronavirus Conference Gets Canceled Because of Coronavirus
CNN: Costco says it’s getting a lift from coronavirus panic shopping
Daily Beast: Meet the Insane People Still Planning Cruise Ship Vacations
Kaiser Health News: Blood Drives — And Donors — Fall Off As Coronavirus Worries Grow
Modern Healthcare: Widespread COVID-19 Outbreak In U.S. Would Threaten Hospitals’ Finances
NBC: Young people capitalize on cheap coronavirus flights: ‘If I die, I die’
NPR: More Than 40 Colleges Cancel In-Person Classes In Response To Coronavirus
New York Times: ‘No More Visits’ Urges Nursing Home Industry in Wake of Virus
New York Times (Opinion): Everyone’s a Socialist in a Pandemic
Politico: CPAC scrambles to contain coronavirus fallout
Washington Post: ‘Do I like this guy enough to risk catching coronavirus?’ The epidemic has made dating even more complicated.
Washington Post: Social distancing could buy U.S. valuable time against coronavirus
In The States
KQED: California Nearly Doubles COVID-19 Tests, But Experts Say It’s Not Enough
NPR: Sacramento County Gives Up On Automatic 14-Day Quarantines
Washington Post: Grand Princess cruise ship carrying coronavirus patients docks in Oakland
Miami Herald: Feds say there is community spread of coronavirus in Florida. DeSantis disagrees.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Urges Health Insurers To Waive Cost-Sharing For COVID-19 Tests
Axios: What happens when Harvard closes
Harvard Crimson: Harvard Moves Classes Online, Asks Students Not to Return After Spring Break In Response to Coronavirus
Wall Street Journal: How Biogen’s Strategy Meeting Spread Coronavirus in Massachusetts and Beyond
WBUR: Harvard Global Health Expert: Mass. Hospitals Face Capacity Problem If Coronavirus Cases Spike Quickly
Washington Post: County says a father ignored coronavirus quarantine directive. His lawyer says he was never told.
New York Times (Opinion): It Took Me 3 E.R. Visits to Get a Coronavirus Test in New York
Washington Post: Schools close, National Guard deployed to help New York suburb stem spread of coronavirus
Wall Street Journal: Ohio Governor Calls on Sports to Bar Spectators Amid Coronavirus Fears
Texas Tribune: 5 million Texans lack health insurance. Here’s how that complicates the coronavirus response.
Washington Post: Texas braces for more coronavirus evacuees from Grand Princess, with residents ‘mad and scared’
Seattle Times: Gov. Inslee to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people, including sports and concerts
Seattle Times: Amazon to grant $5 million to small businesses near its headquarters struggling due to coronavirus
Stat: U.S. communities are braced for coronavirus outbreaks. Seattle is already in the thick of it
Talking Points Memo: Why Washington State Is Desperate For Trump To Declare A COVID-19 Emergency
Stat: PhRMA closes its D.C. headquarters after visitor tests positive for coronavirus
Washington Post: For Georgetown churchgoers, a coronavirus self-quarantine is embraced as necessary
Washingtonian: It’s Time for Everybody to Work From Home, the Washington Post Tells Employees
“Our CoronaVirus Team has been doing a great job. Even Democrat governors have been VERY complimentary!” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/10/20]
“Nancy Pelosi just said, “I don’t know if we can be ready this week.” In other words, it’s off to vacation for the Do Nothing Democrats. That’s been the story with them for 1 1/2 years!” [@realDonaldTrump, 3/10/20]