1/ Trump attacked the World Health Organization and threatened to withhold funding because of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and its criticisms of his own policies. Trump, seeking to blame the WHO for the same missteps and failures his administration made, accused the group of having “called it wrong […] every aspect of it wrong” and being “China-centric.” After saying that the U.S. would “put a hold on money spent to the WHO – We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it,” Trump later denied that he had made those remarks, saying “I’m not saying that I’m going to do it […] I said we’re going to look at it.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded, saying: “If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you [politicize the virus]. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.” (New York Times / The Guardian / NPR / CNBC)

2/ U.S. intelligence officials warned in November about a contagion sweeping through China’s Wuhan region. The report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence “concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” which was repeated at briefings through December for policy and decision-makers across the federal government, as well as the National Security Council at the White House. The warning also appeared in the President’s Daily Brief in early January, which would have had to go through weeks of vetting and analysis. (ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 1132: The CDC warned that the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. appears “inevitable,” saying Americans should “prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.” While public health officials have no idea how severe the spread of the disease in the U.S. would be, they told reporters that “It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a Senate committee that “This is an unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally.” The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 1135: A worldwide threats assessment in 2018 and 2017 warned about the increasing risks of a global pandemic that could strain resources and damage the global economy. Intelligence analysts even mentioned a close cousin of the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus by name, saying it had “pandemic potential” if it were “to acquire efficient human-to-human responsibility.” The 2019 worldwide threat assessment reported “that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.” (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1159: U.S. intelligence agencies issued classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus. The reports didn’t predict when the virus would hit the U.S. or recommend steps public health officials should take, but it did track the spread of the virus in China and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.Trump and lawmakers, however, repeatedly played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the virus. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1168: White House economists published a study in September that warned a pandemic could kill a half million Americans and devastate the economy. The study specifically urged Americans not to conflate the risks of a typical flu and a pandemic. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1174: Trump’s economic adviser warned the White House in January that there was “an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1-2 million souls.” In a pair of memos, Peter Navarro warned that the lack of a vaccine “would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil.” In a Jan. 29 memo, Navarro called for “an immediate travel ban on China.” In a second memo on Feb. 23, Navarro urged the Trump administration to immediately begin laying the groundwork for a $3 billion supplemental spending appropriation from Congress. “This is NOT a time for penny-pinching or horse trading on the Hill,” the memo reads. Trump waited several weeks after receiving Navarro’s memos before taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus, and later claimed that “nobody could have predicted something like this.” (New York Times / Axios / Vox / The Guardian)

3/ The Trump administration is exploring ways to return to “normality” and reopen the U.S. economy as “quickly as possible.” Pence and the coronavirus task force are developing medical guidance and criteria to reopen the country as soon as the start of May. The options being discussed vary in scope, from benchmarks for when states can begin easing restrictions to a nationwide “big bang” that Trump previewed on Fox News. Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, said the first condition is a sustained 14-day drop in the number of cases, normal operations returned to hospitals, and widely available testing. He added that “now is not the time to pull back at all” on social distancing; rather, “it’s the time to intensify.” (CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNBC)

  • The CDC is expected to change its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus to return to work if they are asymptomatic. Under the new guidance, people who are exposed to someone infected would be allowed back on the job if they are asymptomatic, test their temperature twice a day and wear a face mask. (CBS News / ABC News)

  • Jared Kushner’s task force want to create a national coronavirus surveillance system to give the government a real-time view of where patients are seeking treatment, for what, and whether hospitals can accommodate them. The proposed national network could help determine which areas of the country can relax social-distancing rules and which should remain vigilant. The prospect of a national database of potentially sensitive health information has prompted concerns about its impact on civil liberties after the coronavirus threat recedes, with some critics comparing it to the Patriot Act enacted after the 9/11 attacks. (Politico)

  • Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin warned that the Senate coming back in two weeks would be “dangerous and risky.” The Illinois Democrat said some lawmakers “decided they’re not going to get back on an airplane.” (Politico)

  • Coronavirus unlikely to significantly diminish with warm weather, the National Academies of Sciences reported. (Washington Post)

  • How will we know when it’s time to reopen the nation? Experts offer four benchmarks that can serve as a guide for cities and states. (New York Times)

  • Why the U.S. isn’t on track to open up. Labs nationwide are overwhelmed by patient samples amid a shortage of critical supplies. (Politico)

4/ The CDC removed its dosing information for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs recommended by Trump to treat the coronavirus. The original guidance – which was based on unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science – was crafted after Trump personally pressed officials to make the malaria drugs more widely available, though the drugs had been untested for COVID-19. CDC website no longer includes that information, but instead says: “There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19.” Some ICU doctors, meanwhile, report that they’ve seen no evidence the drugs are helping their sickest patients. (Reuters / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1173: Trump’s trade adviser claimed – despite not being a medical doctor – that there was a “clear therapeutic efficacy” of hydroxychloroquine in treating the coronavirus. Peter Navarro’s claim set off a debate in the Situation Room with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who said there was only anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine works against the coronavirus and more data is needed to prove that it’s effective. Navarro, an economist by training, shot back that the information he had collected was “science,” claiming his “qualifications […] is that I’m a social scientist.” Navarro later said Dr. Fauci’s caution about the effectiveness of an anti-malaria drug warrants a “second opinion.” Separately, Trump personally pressed federal health officials in mid-March to make chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine available to treat the coronavirus, though they had been untested for COVID-19. Shortly afterward, the federal government published guidance informing doctors they had the option to prescribe the drugs, with dosing information based on unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science. (Axios / CNN / Reuters / New York Times / The Hill / NBC News)

5/ The federal government’s emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment has been depleted, and states will not be receiving any more shipments. The Department of Health and Human Services told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the Trump administration has made its final shipments of personal protective equipment to states from the Strategic National Stockpile. 90% of the stockpile’s N95 respirators, surgical and face masks, face shields, gowns and gloves have already been distributed to every state. The remaining 10% is reserved for federal workers and will not be distributed to states. (The Hill / Politico)

  • The federal government has been seizing orders of ventilators, masks, and other protective gear. FEMA has not publicly reported the acquisitions, leaving hospital and clinic officials who’ve had materials seized with no guidance about how or if they will get access to the supplies they ordered. (Los Angeles Times)

  • White House visitors have been receiving the 15-minute coronavirus test. Every visitor who meets Trump or Pence receives the new tests, even those who feel healthy and are not exhibiting symptoms. A spokesperson for the company that manufactures the tests said they can deliver a positive result within five minutes and a negative result within 13 minutes. The new tests were approved by the FDA under an emergency authorization and company officials have not publicly disclosed their accuracy rates, which are still begin assessed as more people receive them. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump claimed that Ivanka has personally created 15 million jobs since he took office — that’s roughly 10% of all 152 million jobs in the United States. Trump made the false claim during a call about providing financial relief to small businesses. Trump also claimed in November 2019 that Ivanka had “created 14 million jobs” during his tenure in the White House. The U.S. economy, however, has added 6.2 million total jobs between January 2017 and November 2019. (Vox / CNN)

7/ Trump signed an executive order encouraging the U.S. to mine the moon for minerals. According to Trump’s executive order, the U.S. will object to any attempt to use international law to hinder its efforts to mine the moon, Mars, and “other celestial bodies.” [Editor’s note: This really happened.] (The Guardian)

poll/ 55% of Americans say the federal government has done a poor job preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the United States — up nearly 8% since last week. 80% say they think the worst is yet to come, and 55% say Trump could be doing more to slow the spread. 37% say they’re more concerned about the virus than they were a few days ago, while 5% say they’ve become less fearful in recent days. (CNN)

poll/ 85% of voters say they are concerned they or someone they know will be infected with the coronavirus – up 31 percentage points from early March. 70% say that the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is getting worse, while 20% say it is staying the same and 8% see it getting better. 63% say they expect the coronavirus crisis to be over in a few months, 23% say more than a year, and 10% say a few weeks. (Quinnipiac)


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