What Now?! – March 24, 2020

Gabriel Sherman: “According to sources, Trump is increasingly frustrated with Fauci and governors who advocated for shutting down large swathes of the economy to stop COVID-19’s out-of-control spread… Trump is fuming privately that Fauci advised him that the only way to blunt the pandemic was to bring the economy to a halt.”

“The pivot away from the strict social-distancing strategy is gaining traction in the business community… Sources say that Trump is leaning toward telling at least some Americans to return to work after the 15-day social-distancing period ends on March 31. This puts Trump on a potential collision course with Fauci that many fear will end with Fauci being fired or quitting.”

“Trump’s view that he can ignore Fauci’s opinion may be influenced by advice he’s getting from Jared Kushner, whose outside-the-box efforts have often rankled those in charge of managing the crisis… Kushner has told Trump about experimental treatments he’s heard about from executives in Silicon Valley…  Throughout the crisis, Kushner has counseled Trump that the crisis isn’t as bad as the media is portraying. Two sources said Vice President Mike Pence has complained to Trump about Kushner’s meddling in the work of the coronavirus task force.

Washington Post: “Fauci and other leading public health experts have told administration officials and Republican lawmakers that prematurely scaling back social distancing measures would hamper efforts to mitigate the virus and devastate U.S. hospitals.”

“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down.” — President Trump, quoted by the New York Times, at his daily briefing on the pandemic.

President Trump struck a new tone at Monday’s coronavirus press briefing, suggesting that social distancing restrictions will be lifted “fairly soon” and that the U.S. has learned enough lessons to re-open the economy despite the ongoing pandemic, Axios reports.

Sid Trump: “I’m not looking at months, I can tell you that right now.”

So, when 3-4 Million Americans die needlessly, you know who the murderers are.

Passions were high in the Senate Monday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed another cloture vote on his already-failed $500 billion slush fund coronavirus bill, without having made any changes to it. It failed—again—49-46.

The many deficiencies in the package have resulted in even Sen. Joe Manchin calling the bill a failure. McConnell has thus far refused to take Democrats’ objections seriously, and thought he could bully them into submission. It’s clear that is not going to work so it’s back to the negotiating table, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the job in a big way.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — who has emerged as one of the most vocal members of Congress on the dangers the coronavirus poses — wants President Trump to tell private manufacturers to begin making ventilators, warning the nation could soon face a shortage, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Said Cruz: “I don’t want to see doctors having to make a choice of who gets to live and who has to die because they don’t have the equipment to save their lives.”

Nolan Nicks: “Trying to remember the last time that Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and Ted Cruz were all on the same page.”

“U.S. states on Monday reported more than 100 deaths from the novel coronavirus, pushing the country’s total death toll past 500 and marking the first time single-day fatalities have risen into the triple-digits since the pandemic reached U.S. soil,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Trump has never been known for his patience or long attention span,” the AP reports.

“Now, as the coronavirus crisis threatens his presidency, and upends his campaign for reelection, Trump is rapidly losing patience with the medical professionals who have made the case day after day that the only way to prevent a catastrophic loss of life is to essentially shut down the country — to minimize transmission and ‘flatten the curve’ so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with critical patients.”

“The president also has been furious that his efforts to halt the harrowing drop in the stock market have so far proven ineffective. He has been calling friends and economists at all hours and berated aides and reporters who try to persuade him to recognize the severity of the outbreak.”

“President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic sparked uproar and alarm among governors and mayors on Sunday as Trump and his administration’s top advisers continued to make confusing statements about the federal government’s scramble to confront the crisis, including whether he will force private industry to mass produce needed medical items,” the Washington Post reports.

“As deaths climbed and ahead of a potentially dire week, Trump — who has sought to cast himself as a wartime leader — reacted to criticism that his administration has blundered with a torrent of soaring boasts and searing grievances. He tweeted that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and others ‘shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!’”

“The Federal Reserve announced a major expansion of lending programs Monday that are designed to unclog credit markets that seized up last week, expanding its facilities to include certain types of corporate and municipal debt,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee said the purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities that it approved one week ago are essentially unlimited, and the central bank said it would buy $375 billion in Treasury securities and $250 billion in mortgage securities this week.”

“If you think your new reality is inconvenient and stressful, here’s some perspective: Tens of millions of people are trying to stave off the coronavirus without reliable access to basic needs like shelter, food or health care,” Axios reports.

“The people who were already vulnerable in a strong economy are facing severe hardship as jobs evaporate overnight and safety net services are strained to the max.”

A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, one of the anti-malaria drugs that President Trump has mentioned in recent days, Axios reports.

“Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world.”

“While many epidemiologists are warning of months, or even years, of massive social disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says the data simply don’t support such a dire scenario — especially in areas where reasonable social distancing measures are in place.”

Science Magazine‘s Jon Cohen has a fascinating interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on the coronavirus pandemic:

COHEN: What about the travel restrictions? President Trump keeps saying that the travel ban for China, which began 2 February, had a big impact and that he wishes China would have told us three to four months earlier and that they were “very secretive.” It just doesn’t comport with facts.

FAUCI:  I know, but what do you want me to do? I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real, what do you want me to do?

COHEN: Most everyone thinks that you’re doing a remarkable job, but you’re standing there as the representative of truth and facts but things are being said that aren’t true and aren’t factual.

FAUCI: The way it happened is that after he made that statement, I told the appropriate people, it doesn’t comport,  because two or three months earlier would have been September. The next time they sit down with him and talk about what he’s going to say, they will say, by the way, Mr. President, be careful about this and don’t say that. But I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.

COHEN: You have not said China virus.

FAUCI: Ever.

COHEN. And you never will, will you?


New York Times: “Mr. Trump has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci’s blunt approach at the briefing lectern, which often contradicts things the president has just said… Mr. Trump knows that Dr. Fauci is seen as credible with a large swath of the public and with journalists, and so he has given him more leeway to contradict him than he has other officials.”

“Germany will ramp up efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus by banning meetings of more than two people outside the same household and mandating the closure of nonessential businesses,” Politico reports.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all citizens to stay home and all non-essential businesses closed, the BBC reports. Said Johnson: “The time has now come for us all to do more.”

And he warned: “If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

In fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told La Stampa that “everyone’s efforts are needed and the survival of the social and economic fabric of our country is at stake.”

He said the next few weeks will be “very challenging and crucial.”

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis chief Neel Kashkari told 60 Minutesthat giving forgivable loans to small businesses that retain their workers would be one of the better way to prevent a financial crisis fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Avoiding mass layoffs, he said, is better than trying to pull people back into the workforce, which can take years.

Said Kashkari: “Unemployment insurance is important. But it would be much better and much better for the taxpayers and for the country to keep small businesses operating and to keep them with their employees intact.”

“Kashkari knows what it takes to pull the country out of financial hardship. As Assistant Treasury Secretary in 2008, he ran the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP, which helped end the Great Recession.”

“President Trump is falsely asserting how quickly automakers including GM, Ford and Tesla can manufacture ventilators to help fill an acute U.S. shortage of the medical equipment for coronavirus patients,” the APreports.

“Ford and GM have yet to start production, and it would take them months, if not longer, to begin production, if it’s even possible.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “What Now?! – March 24, 2020

  1. cassandram

    45 is clearly tired of this TV show and wants to change the channel since he isn’t getting any traction for it. The good news here is that he doesn’t direct the shut down orders in all of the states. So he can lift whatever restrictions he wants but he can’t countermand governors. The really horrible part of this is that if he could have kept the Government’s commitments to more testing, increased availability and production of medical supplies or even lifted some of the tariffs on medical equipment from China we’d be in better shape to fight this thing and get it over sooner. All of his dithering is what is breaking the system here.

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