1/ Trump declared a national emergency – which he described as “two very big words” – to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Trump then shook hands with members of his team. The declaration will “open up access” to $50 billion in emergency funding, lift restrictions on doctors and hospitals to “do as they want,” and waive student loan interest. Trump also announced plans for a large-scale drive-thru protocol for testing for the virus, but said “We don’t want everybody taking this test. It’s totally unnecessary.” Trump then blamed existing rules set by prior administrations for limiting options, saying “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the lack of available testing. The administration expects 1.4 million additional tests to be available next week and five million within a month. When asked about the closure of the White House’s pandemic response team in 2018, Trump called it a “nasty question” and denied firing the team. Trump also announced that the government would buy large quantities of crude oil for the nation’s strategic reserve while oil prices are low. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Trump criticized the CDC for its response to COVID-19 and blamed the Obama administration for the situation. In a pair of tweets, Trump — without evidence — claimed that the CDC knew its testing system for large-scale pandemics was “inadequate” and “did nothing about it.” Trump also called the Obama administration’s response to the Swine flu pandemic a “full scale disaster” and said Obama “made changes that only complicated things further.” (NBC News / New York Times)

  • The CDC’s worst-case scenario projects that as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million Americans could die from coronavirus. Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected during the pandemic, which could last months to over a year. And, 2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization. The U.S. has about 925,000 staffed hospital beds. (New York Times / USA Today)

  • [QUOTABLE] “The federal response has been a fiasco.”Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute (PBS)

  • [QUOTABLE] “The system is not really geared to what we need right now. That is a failing. Let’s admit it.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NBC News)

  • [ANALYSIS] Trump as Bystander. School superintendents, sports commissioners, college presidents, governors, and business owners have taken it upon themselves to shut down much of American life without clear guidance from Trump. (New York Times)

  • [OPINION] Trump failed the defining test of his presidency. He attempted to calm the nation, provide clarity, and offer a clear plan of action, but accomplished none of those things in his Oval Office address on the coronavirus. (The Atlantic)

2/ The Trump administration blocked states from using Medicaid to expand medical services as part the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During major disasters, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has traditionally loosened Medicaid rules, allowing states to quickly sign up poor patients for coverage so they can get necessary testing or treatment. Until now, Trump has been reluctant to declare a national emergency, as previous administrations did after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the H1N1 flu, because it would contradict with his repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic. (Los Angeles Times)

  • [REPORT] The White House knew of coronavirus’ “major threat,” but infighting at the Department of Health and Human Services and the need to flatter Trump impeded the response to the coronavirus. (NPR)

  • [REPORT] A former homeland security adviser repeatedly tried to be patched through to Trump or Mike Pence to warn them how dire the pandemic really is, but was blocked by White House officials. (New York Times)

3/ The FDA granted emergency approval for a new coronavirus test that works about 10 times faster. The test was developed by Roche and is designed to run on the company’s automated machines, which are already installed in more than 100 laboratories across the U.S. It will be available immediately and labs will be able to process as many as 4,000 samples a day. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / TechCrunch / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Jared Kushner tapped his brother’s wife’s father to crowd-source coronavirus response recommendations from physicians on Facebook. Kurt Kloss sent Kushner 12 recommendations after consulting the Facebook group, EM Docs, which has nearly 22,000 members. (Politico)

  • The Australian minister for home affairs tested positive for coronavirus days after meeting with Attorney General William Barr, Ivanka Trump, and Kellyanne Conway. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Miami’s mayor tested positive for COVID-19 four days after attending an event with a Brazilian government official who later tested positive for the virus. Mayor Francis Suarez was one of several politicians, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Sen. Rick Scott and Trump, who interacted with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his staff last week. Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary to Bolsonaro, tested positive. (Miami Herald)

  • A second person who visited Mar-a-Lago last weekend tested positive for coronavirus, according to emails from Republican party officials to other guests who were present. Trump was has been near two people in two days who have since been diagnosed as infected. (Washington Post)

  • Trump said he will “most likely” get tested for coronavirus after all, but insisted that it was not because of who he’s recently has been in contact with. “I think I will do it anyway,” Trump said. “Fairly soon.” (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote on a multi-billion dollar aid package to address the coronavirus pandemic, which would guarantee sick pay for workers, boost food programs for children, families and seniors, provide free testing, and more. Pelosi implored the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to back the effort and “put families first” after days of negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Trump, however, accused Democrats of “not doing what’s right for the country” because the bill would, among other things, provide paid leave to Americans who can’t work during the pandemic, but not include his demand for a payroll tax cut. Top Republicans haven’t committed their support, saying they want assurances that Trump will support the agreement. (Politico / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

  • The Trump administration plans to move ahead with enacting strict work requirements on people who use food stamps. Starting April 1, people without a disability or children are required to work 20 hours per week to qualify for SNAP. The White House projects 700,000 people would lose SNAP eligibility as a result. (BuzzFeed News)

Notables.

  1. Louisiana postponed its presidential primary, which was originally scheduled for April 4. The election will be delayed until June 20. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  2. Los Angeles shut down the nation’s second-largest school system. San Diego Unified School District will also shut down. (Los Angeles Times)

  3. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have (so far) resisted closing the school system – the nation’s largest school system. (New York Times)

  4. The acting director of national intelligence ordered a department-wide hiring freeze and review of the agency’s mission and personnel. Some current and former officials questioned why Richard Grenell ordered the large-scale reorganization, which some of his predecessors had considered but set aside, even though his role is temporary. An assistant director of national intelligence said the move was “not an effort to purge,” but simply an attempt to “make sure scarce intelligence community resources are used in the best way possible.” Trump recently tapped Rep. John Ratcliffe to be his fifth DNI, but the Senate has yet to set a date for Ratcliffe’s confirmation hearing. (New York Times)

  5. The U.S. carried out airstrikes against multiple Iranian-backed militia sites in Iraq in response to a rocket attack on a base where coalition forces are located. (CNN)


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