👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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Daily Damage Report.
Global: Total confirmed cases ~1,583,000; Total deaths: ~95,000; Total recoveries: ~351,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~454,000; Total deaths: ~16,300; Total recoveries: ~25,000
Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈
1/ Another 6.6 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week — marking the largest and fastest string of job losses since 1948. More than 17 million new claims have been filed over the last three weeks – or about 10% of the U.S. workforce. Economists estimate that the U.S. unemployment rate is now 13% – the worst level of joblessness the nation has seen since the Great Depression. In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5%. The number of jobs lost in the last three weeks now exceeds the 15 million that it took 18 months during the Great Recession, from 2007 to 2009. (CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Vox / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
- The International Monetary Fund sees the world economy suffering its worst recession since the Great Depression this year. The IMF’s baseline outlook is for a partial recovery in the global economy in 2021 – if the pandemic fades in the second half of this year. (Bloomberg)
2/ The Senate stalled on a proposal to add $250 billion in the small business coronavirus relief fund. Mitch McConnell had sought unanimous consent to approve more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, but Democrats objected, calling the proposal “a political stunt” since the Paycheck Protection Program hasn’t run out of money, but other programs have. Democrats also said the PPP process needs to be streamlined to make it easier for small businesses to get loans. In turn, Democrats tried to add additional funding for hospitals and state and local governments, which Republicans blocked. The Senate then adjourned until Monday with no deal to deliver coronavirus aid. (Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News)
The federal government will end funding for drive-through coronavirus testing sites this Friday. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said that “Many of the Community-Based Testing Sites are not closing, but rather transitioning to state-managed sites on or about April 10.” (NPR)
The Federal Reserve will inject an additional $2.3 trillion into the U.S. economy in order to mitigate the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The new plan would provide loans to business with up to 10,000 employees and less than $2.5 billion in annual revenue in 2019. Principal and interest payments would be deferred for one year. The $2.3 trillion would also include a $500 billion lending program for small businesses and municipal governments, which would begin at $1 million and would be capped at either $25 million or at an amount that “when added to the Eligible Borrower’s existing outstanding and committed but undrawn debt, does not exceed four times the Eligible Borrower’s 2019 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.” (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
3/ Trump is preparing a second, smaller coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy. The task force would include a mix of people from the private sector as well as top administration officials, including Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and economic adviser Larry Kudlow. The economic task force would be separate from the main coronavirus task force, led by Pence, and would focus on getting as much of the U.S. economy as possible up and running again by April 30. (Washington Post / Axios / CNN)
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin believes that “if the doctors let us,” the U.S. economy could reopen in May. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow also said he believes the economy could open sooner, predicting it’s possible “in the next four to eight weeks.” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, meanwhile, warned against trying to return to normal too quickly. (Politico / CNBC)
4/ Dr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing and behavior changes are “starting to have a real effect” and that the virus death toll may look “more like 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000” initially predicted. Trump, meanwhile, said Americans “want to go back” to work because they are going “stir crazy.” CDC Director Robert Redfield separately announced new guidelines that would allow what he called “essential workers” to return to their jobs sooner. (Bloomberg / ABC News)
Attorney General William Barr called the practice of social distancing meant to control the spread of COVID-19 “draconian” and suggested that they should be eased next month. “When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have, and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves,” Barr said. (Washington Post)
South Korea’s CDC warns that the coronavirus may be “reactivating” in people who have been cured of the illness. About 51 patients classified as “cured” in South Korea have tested positive again. A patient is deemed fully recovered when two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval show negative results. (Bloomberg)
5/ The Office of Management and Budget is working on a plan to cut U.S. aid to the World Health Organization, as Trump continues to face questions about his early statements playing down the virus and how unprepared his administration has been. Earlier this week, Trump said he was putting U.S. aid to the WHO “on hold.” (NBC News)
- 📌 Day 1175: 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)
6/ Pence blocked public health officials from appearing on CNN until the network agreed to carry the daily White House coronavirus briefings in their entirety. Pence’s office later reversed course, allowing for the booking of CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Deborah Birx. CNN and other networks frequently air only the first portion of the daily briefings live – the part that is typically led by Trump – before returning to their news anchors during the second half of the briefing. (CNN / CNBC)
7/ The Trump administration has deported nearly 10,000 migrants since March 21 using emergency coronavirus measures that provide Customs and Border Protection broad authority to bypass immigration laws. The moves have cut the number of detainees held in border stations to fewer than 100 detainees – down from nearly 20,000 at this time last year. (Washington Post)
poll/ 54% of Americans say the federal measures have not gone far enough – up from 45% in late March – 35% say the measures have been appropriate, and 7% say they have gone too far. (Monmouth University Poll)
poll/ 38% of Americans are satisfied that the Trump administration is doing everything it can to stop the coronavirus, while 47% say they are not satisfied. The 9 percentage point spread has more than doubled over the last two weeks. 50% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response, while 42% approve. Among registered voters, 54% disapprove, while 43% approve. (Yahoo News)
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