1/ The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects from the coronavirus. “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” Sen. Richard Burr said on Feb. 27, according to a secret recording of the remarks. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” On that same day, Trump suggested that the virus is “going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” before adding, “it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens.” On Feb 13., Burr sold off between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings despite reassuring the public at the time that the government had the coronavirus outbreak under control. A week later, the stock market began a sharp decline and has lost about 30% since. (NPR / Politico / ProPublica)

  • 🚨 The Trump administration simulated a series of pandemic outbreaks from China in 2019 and found the U.S. government response was “underfunded, underprepared, and uncoordinated.” The series of exercises resulted in some 110 million sick Americans, leading to 7.7 million hospitalizations, and 586,000 deaths. The draft report, marked “not to be disclosed,” detailed repeated cases of “confusion” during the exercises. (New York Times)

  • 🚨 Trump claimed that “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion” at the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing today. “Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump agreed with a reporter from a right-wing outlet who accused “major left wing news media” of “siding with state propaganda” from China for criticizing his use of the term “Chinese virus.” Trump went on to call the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal of being “very dishonest” and siding with Chinese propaganda days after calling news media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic “very fair.” Trump added that he wanted to remove 75% to 80% of the journalists in the briefing room in the name of social distancing. (Politico)

2/ Trump promised that a therapeutic drug would be available “almost immediately” only to be contradicted minutes later by the commissioner of the FDA. The drug, chloroquine, hasn’t yet been approved for treatment of COVID-19, but Trump – for some reason – asserted that it was, and that he wanted to “remove every barrier” to test more drugs and “allow many more Americans to access drugs that have shown really good promise.” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, however, cautioned that use of the drug – used to combat malaria – would first need to be part of a controlled trial to find out whether or not it works, and if so, what dose would be safe and effective. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that “it’s not going to kill anybody.” (Bloomberg / The Guardian)

  • 💻 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg

  • Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – a relief package to provide sick leave, unemployment benefits, free coronavirus testing, and food and medical aid to people affected by the pandemic. (NBC News / New York Times)

  • The White House “temporary paused” congressional testimony for senior officials involved in the coronavirus response. (Politico)

  • U.S. confirmed cases of the coronavirus crossed 11,500 infections and 150 deaths. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide passed 242,000. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

  • California projects 56% of residents – 25.5 million people – will become infected by mid-May. Gov. Gavin Newsom requested that the White House deploy the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to Los Angeles through September “to help decompress our current health care delivery system.” (ABC News)

  • Italy’s coronavirus death toll surpassed China’s. Italy has recorded at least 3,405 deaths, while 3,249 people have died in China — a country with a population more than 20 times larger. (NBC News)

3/ Trump directed governors to obtain the medical equipment they need to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying the federal government is “not a shipping clerk.” Trump said his administration will “help out wherever we can,” but that acquiring supplies “is really for the local governments, governors and people in the state.” Yesterday, Trump signed an executive order to invoke the Defense Production Act, but tweeted that he’d only use it if needed “in a worst case scenario in the future.” Mike Pence, meanwhile, asked for construction companies to donate their N95 protective masks to local hospitals. (Politico / NPR / CBS News)

  • U.S. hospitals requested $100 billion in direct financial assistance from Congress to respond to the coronavirus pandemic as some hospitals are already running short of supplies for both patients and health care workers. The American Hospital Association warned congressional leaders that “more needs to be urgently done” after two legislative packages, which did not provide direct funding for hospitals, were signed into law. The hospital association also urged Trump to use the Defense Production Act to direct American manufacturers to produce the needed supplies. (NBC News)

  • The CDC advised health care workers to use bandanas or scarves when face masks are not available. “In settings where face masks are not available, [health-care providers] might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort,” the CDC said. “Caution should be exercised when considering this option.” (McClatchy DC / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump’s plan to buy 500 million N95 air-filtering face masks could take up to 18 months to be delivered. The government expects the masks to be delivered incrementally.(Bloomberg / Washington Post / Quartz)

  • Trump suggested that cruise ships could be used as floating hospitals to help relieve stress on the health care system. Carnival Cruise Lines reportedly offered to make some ships available to treat non-COVID-19 patients. “Certainly they have a lot of rooms,” Trump said. “They’re big and have a lot of rooms.” (Bloomberg / USA Today)

  • A CDC report showed 38% of those sick enough to be hospitalized were younger than 55. In the CDC report, 20% of the hospitalized patients and 12% of the intensive care patients were between the ages of 20 and 44. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Two members of Congress tested positive for the coronavirus. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams revealed their test results on Wednesday, making them the first two members of Congress to contract the virus. Balart said he started noticing symptoms on Saturday after voting on the floor of the House to approve the coronavirus response bill. McAdams said his symptoms also began on Saturday night. Rep. Drew Ferguson has also been advised to self-quarantine until March 27 after a House doctor informed him that he had “contact with a member of Congress on March 13th that has since tested positive for COVID-19.” (Politico / CNN / NBC News)

4/ The State Department warned Americans against all international travel and advised those abroad to return to the U.S. or prepare to shelter in place “for an indefinite timeframe.” The agency raised its travel advisory to Level 4: Do Not Travel – the most serious category. The agency said Americans who traveled abroad may find their travel plans “severely disrupted” and “may be forced to remain outside of the United States.” (Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • The Labor Department reported that the initial number of unemployment claims rose to 281,000 last week – a 33% increase from the previous week. It was the largest week-to-week change during – or since – the 2008 financial crisis. More than a million workers are expected to lose their jobs by the end of March. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Bank of America: “We are officially declaring that the economy has fallen into a recession.” Bank of America economist Michelle Meyer wrote a note to investors to notify them that the firm expects the U.S. economy to “collapse” in the second quarter and shrink by 12%. They also expect the unemployment rate to nearly double, with a total of roughly 3.5 million jobs lost by the start of Q3. Meyer said she expects a “very slow return to growth thereafter with the economy feeling somewhat more normal by July.” She added that while the firm believes the decline will be severe, it will also be “fairly short lived.” (CNBC / The Hill)

5/ Senate Republicans introduced a $1 trillion emergency coronavirus stimulus bill, which includes direct cash payments for some Americans. The proposal calls for $1,200 direct payments to individuals making $75,000 or less based on a 2018 tax return, or $2,400 for couples filing jointly, plus $500 per child. The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, and is capped at $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples. Those diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who suffer “adverse financial consequences” can tap into their 401(k)s and IRAs without a penalty. And, taxpayers get up $300 in charitable deductions for 2020. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times)

6/ The Department of Agriculture is fighting to implement changes to SNAP benefits, despite a federal judge’s ruling that it would be “arbitrary and capricious” to move forward during a global health crisis. The new rules were set to go into effect on April 1, but Judge Beryl Howell ordered a freeze on the changes in a ruling last week. The new rules would eliminate states’ ability to waive work and time requirements for SNAP recipients in areas with high unemployment rates. The changes are expected to kick roughly 700,000 people off the program if enacted. (PBS Newshour)

7/ The acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center was fired by the acting director of national intelligence. (Washington Post)


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