👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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🔥 Daily Damage Report.
🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,572,000; Total deaths: ~250,000; Total recoveries: ~1,145,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,173,000; Total deaths: ~68,200; Total recoveries: ~180,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈
1/ The CDC projects that by June 1, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. will reach about 3,000 daily deaths – nearly double the current number of about 1,750 – and COVID-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day – up from about 25,000. The draft report, based on government modeling and put together in chart form by FEMA, predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning around May 14. The White House and the CDC, however, disavowed the report, which carries the logo of the CDC and Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, calling it an “internal CDC document” that had not been presented to Trump’s coronavirus task force. Separately, a coronavirus model frequently cited by the White House is now forecasting that 134,000 people will die of COVID-19 in the U.S. – nearly double its previous prediction. The increases in both models are tied to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility as states, including Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska and South Carolina, have eased restrictions. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC / Axios / NPR / The Guardian)
The U.S. reported its deadliest day with 2,909 people dying of COVID-19 in 24 hours. The next highest U.S. daily death toll was 2,471 reported on April 23. (CNBC)
The U.S. recorded an estimated 37,100 excess deaths in March and the first two weeks of April – nearly 13,500 more than are now attributed to COVID-19 for that same period. There were 16,600 estimated excess deaths in the week of April 5 to April 11, compared with 20,500 over the prior five weeks. The nation surpassed 64,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths on Friday. [Editor’s note: Those excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to COVID-19, but are deaths above what is historically expected for this period.] (Washington Post)
Mike Pence admitted that he “should have worn a mask” during his visit to the Mayo Clinic last week. During a Fox News town hall, Pence said he “didn’t think it was necessary” at the time, but he decided to wear one “when I visited the ventilator plant in Indiana” two days later. Pence said he thought that since he is constantly tested for the virus, wearing a mask wouldn’t be necessary because the masks are only meant to prevent people who have the virus from spreading it. The reversal comes after Pence faced widespread public backlash for not wearing the mask at the Minnesota-based medical clinic. (Politico / NPR)
2/ Trump revised his estimated coronavirus death toll for the fifth time in two weeks, projecting that “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.” In April, Trump predicted that fatalities from the outbreak could be kept “substantially below the 100,000” mark. A week later, Trump said the overall American death toll would “probably” be as low as 60,000 people. On Wednesday, Trump suggested that the number of fatalities could be as low as 65,000. But on Sunday, Trump conceded, “I used to say 65,000 and now I’m saying 80,000 or 90,000 and it goes up and it goes up rapidly.” While he called it “a horrible thing,” Trump praised his administration’s response to the outbreak, saying it is “one of the reasons we’re successful, if you call losing 80 or 90 thousand people successful.” Trump also said he is “very confident” that there will be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, despite scientists repeatedly warning that a vaccine may take 12-18 months or longer. (New York Times / The Guardian / MSNBC / CNN / The Hill / NBC News / CBS News)
- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow defended his Feb. 25 claim that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus “pretty close to airtight,” arguing that his comments were “based on the actual facts” at the time. (Axios)
3/ Trump claimed that he gets treated worse by the press than Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated in 1865, while sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Trump suggested to Fox News that he is “greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen” other than “that gentleman right up there,” gesturing toward the statue of Lincoln. “They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln,” he added. “I believe I am treated worse.” (CNN / Daily Beast)
4/ Trump moved to replace the top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services after her office released a report highlighting supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. The White House waited until after business hours to nominate a permanent inspector general to take over for Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who has run the office since January. Grimm was publicly assailed by Trump at a news briefing three weeks ago. The White House nominated Jason Weida. (Washington Post / New York Times)
5/ Trump is reportedly not happy with FBI director Christopher Wray and wants to replace him, but has deferred to Attorney General William Barr, who is unlikely to remove Wray before the election. (Axios)
6/ A four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report claims that the Chinese government “intentionally concealed the severity” and how contagious the coronavirus was from the world in early January in order to stock up on the medical supplies needed to respond to the virus. The report says Chinese leaders attempted to cover their tracks by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data.” The report also says China refused to inform the World Health Organization that the virus “was a contagion” and says its conclusions are based on the 95% probability that the changes in China’s imports and exports were outside of the normal range. Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there’s “enormous evidence” to support the theory that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, not a nearby market. No evidence was offered by Pompeo to back up the assertion. While the Wuhan Institute of Virology was studying bat-borne coronaviruses at the time of the first known outbreak nearby, there has been no evidence showing it possessed the previously unknown strain. Trump, meanwhile, promised a “conclusive” report on the Chinese origins of the coronavirus outbreak. (Associated Press / Axios / Bloomberg / The Guardian / NBC News)
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