Cuomo hammers the point that states need federal assistance. He takes issue with the suggestion that politically-liberal states like New York “take more” from the federal government than conservative states.
Cuomo is now rhapsodizing about the American spirit and the possibility of remaking an economy and a body politic that has for decades advantaged the wealthy and the privileged.
“We have to use this moment to reimagine and be smart and grow,” Cuomo said. “This is one of these moments if you look back in history sometimes it takes a crisis to wake people up.”
He closed by praising the leadership of Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat in a conservative state who he said “stood up” to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“It takes guts. You don’t get that from a typical politician,” Cuomo said. “So thank you, Governor.”
Preliminary results from an antibody survey of New York residents found that 14.9% of the state is positive for Covid-19 antibody.
The sample size of the survey was 7,500. Cuomo said the state will test 1,000 NYPD officers and 1,000 FDNY workers for antibodies
He said this is part of the state’s effort to prepare for the virus to return later this year. “Anticipate an issue in the future,” he said, noting that he spoke to Trump this morning.
Cuomo to extend stay-at-home order in some parts of state past 15 May
Cuomo said he would extend the stay-at-home order in some parts of the state, but will allow other regions to re-open on 15 May.
He said the state is still seeing 1,000 news cases per day.
“I will extend them in many parts of the state but in some parts of the state, in some regions, you could make the case that we should unpause on May 15,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing from Albany. “But you have to be smart about it. … There is no light switch.”
He issued a warning to his colleagues who will be overseeing the reopening in the coming weeks: “If you are not smart you will see that infection rate go right back to where it was, right where we were 58 days ago.”
He described the reopening as turning a valve. How much to turn the dials will be based on four factors: hospitalization rate, antibody testing, diagnostic testing, rate of transmission.
Cuomo: New York death toll ‘on the decline’
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said 337 New Yorkers died in past 24 hours, a sign of “decline” in the state.
He said the hospitalization rate is “flat.”
Monday coronavirus task force briefing cancelled
The White House officially cancels a planned Covid-19 coronavirus task force press briefing, according to an updated version of the president’s daily schedule.
The briefing was initially scheduled for 5pm EST.
The cancellation comes amid concern that the briefings – during which Trump will hold court for 90 minutes, or more – have become politically problematic for the president. During a meeting last week, he mused that coronavirus might be treated with disinfectant, forcing manufactures and public health officials to issue urgent warnings to Americans about the serious, possibly fatal, dangers of ingesting such toxins.
Following the shocking – and baseless – suggestion, Trump took no questions at the briefing on Friday. No briefings were held over the weekend.
Axios reported on Sunday that the White House was planning to shift to events focused on the economy rather than the public health crisis in the coming days.
Some news out of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Monday press briefing.
De Blasio announced self-swab testing, which he says is “simpler and safer” for health care professionals to administer.
The mayor said the new method will be rolled out this week.
“This is a whole different thing,” de Blasio said, describing the process. He said patients would be given instructions on how to administer the test using what he said was effectively a “sterile Q-tip.”
He said the new testing method, which will be overseen by medical professionals, will protect health care workers and help conserve personal protective equipment (PPE).
De Blasio also announced that the city intends to open up more streets to pedestrians, beginning with 40 miles around parks with a goal of reaching 100 miles.
The supreme court has sidestepped what could have been a major decision to expand gun rights.
The Associated Press called it an “anti-climatic end” and a “disappointment” to gun rights advocates who had hoped the court’s newly-installed conservative majority would rule in their favor.
It ruled that the city’s move to ease restrictions on taking licensed, locked and unloaded guns outside the city limits, coupled with a change in state law to prevent New York from reviving the ban, left the court with nothing to decide. The court asked a lower court to consider whether the city’s new rules still pose problems for gun owners.
Will there or won’t there?
The mystery over whether there will or won’t be a coronavirus press briefing on Monday evening appears to been resolved, for now.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News: “Today we’re not tracking a briefing.”
Daily guidance for Mike Pence, which was sent one hour ago, listed a task force briefing at 5pm EST.
Trump continued his long-running diatribe against the “Lamestream Media” claiming there has “never been, in the history of our Country a more vicious or hostile” national press corps. A second missive labeled the press the “ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.”
Meanwhile, the US death toll from coronavirus is quickly approaching the number of Americans – 58,200 – killed during the Vietnam War.
The comments followed a weekend of rage-tweeting against the press, in which Trump appeared particularly incensed by a New York Times article that portrayed the cloistered president as consumed by his own negative media coverage.
In a series of Sunday bulletins, Trump suggested reporters who won a “Noble” Prize for their coverage of Russia should have the award taken back. Responding to the Twitterati, quick to point out that the reporters received a Pulitzer prize and that the other award was the Nobel, not Noble, prize, Trump lamented: “Does sarcasm ever work?” (He has since deleted the tweets.)
Over the weekend, the White House gamely participated in a New York Post piece that rebutted the Times’ characterization of Trump’s daily preoccupations.
Indeed, the Post story begins with a claim from White House aides that Trump’s schedule is “so packed” that he “sometimes skips lunch”.
In the article, Mark Meadows, the president’s new chief of staff, said his “biggest concern” is ensuring the president gets “a quick bite to eat.”
That is perhaps not what you’d expect to be at the top of the White House chief of staff’s priority list during the worst national crisis since the second world war.
The $2.2tn coronavirus stimulus deal, the largest economic rescue package in American history, was also, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most lobbied bills of all time, according to a new analysis by the Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics.
“OpenSecrets found that at least 3,200 clients reported lobbying on issues related to coronavirus and the stimulus bill. More than 1,500 lobbying clients specifically reported attempting to influence the House version of the CARES Act. Among all non-appropriations bills introduced since 2005, only the 2009 stimulus package drew more lobbying clients.
It also found that:
Clients that had never lobbied before hired lobbyists to ask Congress for financial aid in the stimulus bill. Industry groups asked Congress for more than $2.7 billion in direct support, but only a select few industries received carved-out stimulus funds. Some airlines increased their lobbying spending in the first quarter as the industry secured billions in taxpayer-funded grants. …
Health sector spending reached $161 million, around the all-time high first-quarter mark set last year. Gilead Sciences, the drugmaker working on a COVID-19 treatment, saw one of the biggest jumps in spending. It spent nearly $2.5 million, beating its 2019 first-quarter figure.
You’ll remember that drugmaker Gilead had come under fierce criticism that it was exploiting the coronavirus pandemic, after it sought orphan-status from the FDA for its antiviral drug remdesivir, which is being tested as a potential treatment. Bernie Sanders had called it “truly outrageous” that the drug company would seek the special status, which grants drug companies market exclusivity. The company ultimately backtracked.
An interesting line from the Associated Press, which has found that “Americans’ support for mail-in voting has jumped amid concerns about the safety of polling places during the coronavirus pandemic”.
The AP also notes that its poll on the matter, conducted with NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found “a wide partisan divide” which “suggests President Donald Trump’s public campaign against vote by mail may be resonating with his Republican backers”.
Democrats are now much more likely than Republicans to support their state conducting elections exclusively by mail, 47% to 29%. In 2018, about half as many Democrats were in favor, and there was little difference in the views of Democrats and Republicans on the question.
The poll also shows 60% of Americans support allowing people to vote via absentee ballot without requiring them to give a reason if the outbreak is still happening. That includes 73% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans. Some 40% of Republicans are opposed.
This month’s elections in Wisconsin, and remarks by the president to Fox News, brought the issue of mail-in voting to national attention. Here’s more from Sam Levine:
A final slice of AP:
The partisan differences could have a strong impact across the presidential battleground states. Five of the top seven swing states Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have divided government, and skirmishes over voting have already broken out in several. In some, there are signs that Democratic areas are moving faster than GOP ones to embrace mail voting
Trump trade adviser, coronavirus czar and noted self-pseudonym Peter Navarro has been speaking to Fox News about reopening US factories.
“We’re trying to figure out the best protocols to keep our factories going,” Navarro said. “We’re going to have to use appropriate protocols, different social distancing. You’re going to have to reconfigure factories. You’re going to have to use things like thermoscanners to check fever as they come in.”
Navarro had a reasonably warm time of it in the news a couple of weeks ago. Here’s Julian Borger’s profile, from then, which still has probably the greatest headline ever to grace a profile of a White House trade adviser:
Of course, the moment I blog that there’s a briefing on the White House schedule today, Geoff Bennett of NBC News tweets the following:
Update: Multiple White House officials tell NBC News this morning that there may NOT be a task force briefing today and that Trump may instead open to the press his 4pm Cabinet Room event with industry executives. (The current WH strategy, I’m told, is to show Trump “at work”.)
Why seek to show Trump “at work”? The New York Times, remember, reported last week that the president:
…arrives in the Oval Office these days as late as noon, when he is usually in a sour mood after his morning marathon of television.
He has been up in the White House master bedroom as early as 5am watching Fox News, then CNN, with a dollop of MSNBC thrown in for rage viewing … the president sees few allies no matter which channel he clicks. He is angry even with Fox [News], an old security blanket, for not portraying him as he would like to be seen.
The Times also said: “The daily White House coronavirus task force briefing is the one portion of the day that Mr Trump looks forward to, although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically.”
And it added: “After he is done watching the end of the daily White House briefing … Mr Trump watches television in his private dining room off the Oval Office. Assorted aides who are still around will join him to rehash the day and offer their assessments on the briefings. Comfort food – including French fries and Diet Coke – is readily available.”
From the White House, meanwhile, the first tweet of the day…
Here’s what Florida governor Ron DeSantis had to say about problems in his state: that the unemployment insurance system there was “designed to fail”. And here’s what sometime Guardian contributor Steven Greenhouse says today:
It’s worth noting that though Donald Trump did not brief the press over the weekend, amid reports that such briefings would be scaled back in an attempt to limit the damage done by the president’s freewheeling performances, there is a briefing on the White House schedule for Monday, at 5pm ET.
It’s also worth noting that one of Trump’s targets in his remarkable-even-by-his-standards Sunday tweet storm (which included a retweet of doctored video from an account named “Trump & Biden are Rapey”) was Fox News.
“The people who are watching Fox News, in record numbers (thank you President Trump), are angry,” he wrote. “They want an alternative now. So do I!”
One alternative for Trump seems to have been the New York Post, which released a report about how the president – contrary to a New York Times report about his working habits, diet and schedule – is supposedly too busy to have lunch every day. The Post is of course owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News.
As the death toll has worsened, President Trump’s behavior has worsened. I think his statements and rants and tweets are newsworthy no matter what, but should be reported in context, and right now the death toll is crucial context.
As the US death toll approached 50,000, Trump mused about disinfectants.
50,000 dead, and he claimed he was just pranking the media.
51,000 dead, and he attacked CNN’s owner AT&T.
52,000 dead, and he tweeted about a professional wrestler.
53,000 dead, and he touted his ratings.
54,000 dead, and he went on a misspelled rant about ‘Noble Prizes’.
Nearly 55,000 dead, and he retweeted a far-right commentator who suggested ‘lunatics’ on the left might be inflating the mortality rates ‘in an attempt to steal the election.’
This morning, the Washington Post is out with a report which says “the White House is finalising expanded guidelines to allow the phased reopening of schools and camps, childcare programs, certain workplaces, houses of worship, restaurants and mass transit, according to documents under review by administration officials”.
According to the Post:
The 17-page guidance lists recommendations for each of six settings. It says all decisions should be made locally in collaboration with local health officials. An accompanying set of documents provides one-page checklists to help state and local health officials make decisions. The Washington Post obtained copies of the guidance and checklists.
Down south, Georgia is set to reopen restaurants and cinemas today, with social distancing restrictions in place. Gyms, barber shops and hair salons were allowed to reopen on Friday.
Governor Brian Kemp seems to have fallen rather afoul of President Trump on this one, his decision having been disowned by the president. The two men are not quite on the same page in other matters, politically, including Kemp’s appointment of Kelly Loeffler – she of the stock sales – to a vacant US Senate seat instead of Trump’s favoured pick, Republican congressman Doug Collins.
Experts warn, widely, that reopening too early risks a resurgence in Covid-19 infections. Oliver Milman spoke to one last week:
I don’t think the US is ready, there are 50 states all at different points in their epidemic,” said Yanis Ben Amor, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Development in the Earth Institute.
“We aren’t diagnosing enough people and if we don’t have a testing system in place it will flare up again badly. We just don’t have that testing system and as a human being I’m deeply concerned about the consequences for people who think their governor is saying it’s safe now.”
Pelosi endorses Biden
Nancy Pelosi is out with an endorsement for Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee to face Trump at the polls in November.
In the YouTube video, the House speaker says the former Delaware senator and US vice-president “will be an extraordinary president because he knows how to get the job done”.
Pelosi cites Biden’s record in office under Barack Obama and calls him “a voice of reason and resilience” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, “with a clear path to lead us out of this crisis”.
Apropos of all this, something I at least found interesting: the billionaire Mark Cuban has told Yahoo Finance he might yet mount a White House run. Why do I find this interesting? Because Cuban is a rugby nut and discussed it with me a couple of years ago.
Rugby “taught me not to take myself too seriously”, said the businessman who volunteered to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate and has flirted with a run for the White House himself. “The beauty of rugby is that it’s so irreverent that you learn not to take anyone else too seriously too. You learn to accept other people for who they are.
The same piece discussed how Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Ted Kennedy and former national security adviser HR McMaster, and Newt Gingrich’s half-sister, Candace Gingrich, played and loved the greatest game. I didn’t note it at the time but I know now that Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, an outside bet to be Biden’s running mate, also played the game at college:
So there’s that.
…and welcome to another day of coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in the US. First, the figures according to Johns Hopkins University:
- US cases: 965,767
- US deaths: 54,872
- New York cases: 288,045
- New York deaths: 22,269
For one comparison, around 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam war.
New York is of course the worst-hit state but not the only state badly hit. There have been nearly 6,000 deaths across the Hudson in New Jersey, more than 3,000 in Michigan and nearly 3,000 in Massachusetts, with more than 1,000 in many other states.
One key question, with more than 26 million Americans unemployed due to the shutdown caused by the virus, is when states might move to safely reopen their economies. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, addressed the question on Sunday, as did Phil Murphy of New Jersey. One thing for sure – it will be gradual and dependent on death rates and hospitalisations declining, and testing capacity continuing to increase.
In the White House, meanwhile, Donald Trump stews over his prospects in a re-election year. Chastened by the fallout from his remarks about disinfectant and sunlight last week – or not, of course – the president did not brief the press over the weekend. Instead, he went on a Twitter tear against the press and reports regarding his own work ethic, a possible move to fire health secretary Alex Azar, and more. It wasn’t particularly pretty – it never is, particularly.
All re-election campaigns – every single one of them – are a referendum on the incumbent. And if Donald Trump had come into this election with peace and prosperity, it would be a very high hill to climb to defeat him. But he’s not. He is coming into this with plague and depression.”
More to come of course – in the meantime, some further, devastating reading from Sam Levin in Los Angeles: