Day 1163: "Wasting time."
1/ The House passed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package and Trump signed it into law. The legislation will deliver one-time direct payments of $1,200 to most taxpayers and enhance unemployment benefits. The measure also creates a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states, and a $367 billion fund for small businesses. The package was approved by voice vote after a Republican lawmaker attempted to delay the approval and force lawmakers to return to Washington in order to assemble the 216 members needed for a quorum. Trump attacked Rep. Thomas Massie in a series of tweets, calling him a “third rate grandstander” and suggesting that Republican leaders “throw” him out of the party. The size of the stimulus package, along with Federal Reserve actions, will amount to an injection of about $6 trillion into the economy – or about 30% of annual gross domestic product. “We got hit by the invisible enemy and we got hit hard,” Trump said before signing the bill. “I think we are going to have a tremendous rebound.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / Vox / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 – doubling in just three days. (CNBC)
The World Health Organization enrolled the first patients in test treatments for the coronavirus in Norway and Spain. Health officials are testing four drugs to fight COVID-19, including malaria medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, an antiviral compound called Remdesivir, a combination of HIV drugs Lopinavir and Ritonavir, and a combination of those drugs plus interferon-beta. (CNBC)
Doctors in New York will try to treat patients with COVID-19 with plasma infusions from people who have recovered after the Food and Drug Administration approved the experimental use of plasma on an emergency basis to treat coronavirus patients. (New York Times / Washington Post)
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus. Hours later, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had also tested positive for the virus. And then, England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said he was also experiencing symptoms of a COVID-19 infection. (NBC News / Washington Post)
💻 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / Wall Street Journal
2/ Trump ordered General Motors to produce 40,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act hours after criticizing the company on Twitter for not acting quickly enough to produce supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said “GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.” Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!” The White House also canceled an announcement planned for next week on a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to build as many as 80,000 ventilators. FEMA said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost of more than $1 billion was too expensive. GM and Ventec Life said they were ready to ramp up production, but were waiting on the Trump administration to provide clarity about how many ventilators were needed and who would be paid to build them. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN)
Trump to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.” Trump, speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News, was responding to Cuomo’s projections that the state will need up to 30,000 ventilators within the next two weeks to adequately respond to the peak of coronavirus cases that are expected to hit the state. “You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators,” Trump continued. “And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’” Trump’s comments come as some New York City hospitals have been forced to start sharing ventilators between as many as four patients at once. As of Friday, 44,635 cases had been confirmed in the state, resulting in 519 deaths. New York state hospitals have 4,000 ventilators in the system. (Politico / New York Times / CBS News / The Guardian)
Trump blamed two Democratic governors for the spread of coronavirus, accusing Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of not doing enough to address the health crisis. “He shouldn’t be relying on the federal government. He’s always complaining,” Trump said of Inslee. “And your governor of Michigan, she’s not stepping up,” Trump said. “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on. All she does is sit there and blame the federal government.” (Washington Post)
Nearly 90% of U.S. mayors said they lack sufficient tests kits, face masks and other protective equipment for their emergency responders and medical workers, while 85% said they do not have enough ventilators for their hospitals. (Washington Post)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on Trump to approve the construction of 4,000 additional hospital beds in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, said Trump is “not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis… We believe over half the people in this city will ultimately be infected. Over half.” More than 8 million people live in New York City. (Politico / The Guardian / CBS News)
3/ Trump notified U.S. governors that his administration will be issuing new guidelines about “maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures.” Mike Pence and a small group of public health officials are expected to brief Trump on his options this weekend about whether to extend the White House’s 15-day social distancing guidelines or loosen them for some or all parts of the country. In his letter to governors, Trump said the guidance will contain instructions for classifying certain counties as “high risk, medium risk or low risk,” as well as data that will drive the “next phase” of the government’s response. Trump floated re-opening the country by Easter, saying he’d like to have the “country opened up and just raring to go” by the April 12 holiday. Since then, however, White House officials have backed away from that date. (Politico / NPR / Bloomberg)
- Trump said there’s “no way” he’ll cancel the Republican National Convention in August because of the coronavirus. “Somebody was asking today, ‘Will you cancel your convention?’,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “I said no way I’m going to cancel the convention. We’re going to have the convention, it’s going to be incredible.” The GOP convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27, roughly two months before the November general election. (The Hill)
4/ Jared Kushner’s shadow coronavirus task force appears to be violating both the Presidential Records Act and Federal Advisory Committee Act. Kushner’s task force is using private email accounts and has not complied with requirements to document, preserve and maintain records of “the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the President’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethic in Washington)
poll/ 93% of Americans say they’re practicing social distancing and staying away from other people during the coronavirus crisis. 91% say they’re staying home as much as possible, while 88% have stopped going to restaurants and bars. 82% are washing their hands more often, 61% say they’ve stocked up on food and supplies, and 53% have canceled travel plans. (Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.