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

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