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First Edition: April 23, 2020

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.


Kaiser Health News:
The Other COVID Risks: How Race, Income, ZIP Code Influence Who Lives Or Dies


It started with a headache in late March. Then came the body aches. At first, Shalondra Rollins’ doctor thought it was the flu. By April 7, three days after she was finally diagnosed with COVID-19, the 38-year-old teaching assistant told her mom she was feeling winded. Within an hour, she was in an ambulance, conscious but struggling to breathe, bound for a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. (Szabo and Recht, 4/22)


Kaiser Health News:
OSHA Probing Health Worker Deaths But Urges Inspectors To Spare The Penalties


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has in recent weeks launched investigations into deaths of workers at 34 health care employers across the U.S., federal records show, but former agency officials warn that the agency has already signaled it will only cite and fine the most flagrant violators. The investigations come as health care workers have aired complaints on social media and to lawmakers about a lack of personal protective equipment, pressure to work while sick, and retaliation for voicing safety concerns as they have cared for more than 826,000 patients stricken by the coronavirus. (Jewett and Luthra, 4/22)


Kaiser Health News:
Biden Says OSHA Isn’t Doing Enough To Protect Workers’ From COVID-19


During an April 15 virtual town hall meeting with front-line workers, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for the White House, was asked by a meat processing worker what he would do to protect workers like her from COVID-19. “We lost a co-worker at my plant because there is no regulation to protect meat chain employees,” said Safaa Elzakzoky, who is also a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “We can’t work safely and get people the meat that they need to eat. So what would you do to protect a worker like my friend who just died?” (Knight, 4/23)


Kaiser Health News:
Coronavirus Crisis Opens Access To Online Opioid Addiction Treatment


Opioid addiction isn’t taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic. But the U.S. response to the viral crisis is making addiction treatment easier to get. Under the national emergency declared by the Trump administration in March, the government has suspended a federal law that required patients to have an in-person visit with a physician before they could be prescribed drugs that help quell withdrawal symptoms, such as Suboxone. (Galewitz, 4/23)


The New York Times:
Trump’s Scientists Push Back On His Claim That Virus May Not Return This Fall


In February, President Trump told the public that the coronavirus should “go away” by April. In March, he said that the virus may “wash” away by summer. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump told the American public that the virus “won’t be coming back in the form that it was” this fall or winter. He then mused that it might not come back at all. The scientists flanking him at a White House briefing explicitly said otherwise. “There will be coronavirus in the fall,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said as Mr. Trump looked on. (Rogers, 4/22)


The Associated Press:
Despite Warnings, Trump Downplays Threat Of Virus Returning


“It’s not going to be what we’ve gone through, in any way, shape or form,” Trump said flatly. He continued: “If it comes back, though, it won’t be coming back in the form that it was. It will be coming back in smaller doses that we can contain. … You could have some embers of corona … (but) we will not go through what we went through for the last two months.” Trump then turned to Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the coronavirus task force, and asked, “Doctor, wouldn’t you say there’s a good chance that COVID will not come back?” “We don’t know,” Birx responded. (Lemire and Miller, 4/23)


The New York Times:
The Fear Of Coronavirus And Flu Colliding In The Fall 


Could the United States face two epidemics at the same time next fall, flu and the coronavirus? That frightening idea was raised by Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during an interview on Tuesday with The Washington Post. He suggested that a new surge in coronavirus cases could coincide with the next flu season, causing an even more difficult crisis than the one the nation is facing now. (Grady, 4/22)


Politico:
Trump Downplays Risk Of Coronavirus Rebound


Redfield repeated his warnings that if the two viruses are circulating at the same time it could make it harder for the health care system to respond, though he downplayed the potential severity of the situation. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be more, as some people have said, or worse, it’s just going to be more difficult because we have to distinguish between the two,” Redfield said, adding that what he wanted to articulate was that more Americans should get the flu vaccine. (Ehley, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
Pence Says Coronavirus Could Be Largely Past By Early June


Vice President Mike Pence said the White House hopes the coronavirus epidemic can be “largely in the past” by early June. Mr. Pence didn’t make a firm prediction about when the U.S. economy can be fully reopened. But he said “the trend lines continue to be encouraging,” including in some of the country’s most hard-hit cities, and offered a generally ambitious timeline for revival of normal activities. (Seib, 4/22)


The Washington Post:
Under Trump, Coronavirus Scientists Can Speak — As Long As They Mostly Toe The Line


Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a candid warning Tuesday in a Washington Post interview: A simultaneous flu and coronavirus outbreak next fall and winter “will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” adding that calls and protests to “liberate” states from stay-at-home orders — as President Trump has tweeted — were “not helpful.” The next morning, Trump cracked down with a Twitter edict: Redfield had been totally misquoted in a cable news story summarizing the interview, he claimed, and would be putting out a statement shortly. (Parker, Dawsey, Abutaleb and Sun, 4/22)


The New York Times:
What 5 Coronavirus Models Say The Next Month Will Look Like


In the last few weeks, we’ve all become a little more familiar with epidemiological models. These calculations, which make estimates about how many people are likely to get sick, need a hospital bed or die from coronavirus, are guiding public policy — and our expectations about what the future holds. But if you look at the models, they don’t really agree. (Bui, Katz, Parlapiano and Sanger-Katz, 4/22)


The New York Times:
Santa Clara County: First Known U.S. Coronavirus Death Occurred On Feb. 6


Weeks before there was evidence that the coronavirus was spreading in U.S. communities, Patricia Dowd, a 57-year-old auditor at a Silicon Valley semiconductor manufacturer, developed flulike symptoms and abruptly died in her San Jose kitchen, triggering a search for what had killed her. Flu tests were negative. The coroner was baffled. It appeared that she had suffered a massive heart attack. But tissue samples from Ms. Dowd, who died on Feb. 6, have now shown that she was infected with the coronavirus — a startling discovery that has rewritten the timeline of the virus’s early spread in the United States and suggests that the optimistic assumptions that drove federal policies over the early weeks of the outbreak were misplaced. (Fuller, Baker, Hubler and Fink, 4/22)


The New York Times:
Hidden Outbreaks Spread Through U.S. Cities Far Earlier Than Americans Knew, Estimates Say


By the time New York City confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on March 1, thousands of infections were already silently spreading through the city, a hidden explosion of a disease that many still viewed as a remote threat as the city awaited the first signs of spring. Hidden outbreaks were also spreading almost completely undetected in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, long before testing showed that each city had a major problem, according to a model of the spread of the disease by researchers at Northeastern University who shared their results with The New York Times. (Carey and Glanz, 4/23)


The New York Times:
Covid-19 Arrived In Seattle. Where It Went From There Stunned The Scientists.


As the coronavirus outbreak consumed the city of Wuhan in China, new cases of the virus began to spread out like sparks flung from a fire. Some landed thousands of miles away. By the middle of January, one had popped up in Chicago, another one near Phoenix. Two others came down in the Los Angeles area. Thanks to a little luck and a lot of containment, those flashes of the virus appear to have been snuffed out before they had a chance to take hold. (Baker and Fink, 4/22)


NPR:
U.S. Deaths Increased Tenfold This Month


A month ago, President Trump went on Fox and downplayed the potential lethality of the novel coronavirus and compared it to the seasonal flu.”We’ve had horrible flus,” Trump said March 24. “I mean, think of it: we average 36,000 people. Death. Death. I’m not talking about cases, I’m talking about death — 36,000 deaths a year. People die — 36 [thousand] — from the flu. But we’ve never closed down the country for the flu. So you say to yourself, ‘What is this all about?'” (Montanaro and Moore, 4/23)


Politico:
Inside America’s Unending Testing Snafu


It’s hard to tell from watching President Donald Trump and members of his Coronavirus Task Force just how many people can be tested for coronavirus in the U.S. and whether there’s enough testing capacity to reopen the economy. Task force officials have been citing the millions of swabs and test tubes now in production as manufacturers ramp up capacity. They handed out lists of labs in each state to governors this week, suggesting that states just haven’t been asking labs to do the work. But doubling the number of tests conducted from the current 1 million per week, as the White House recommends, is far more complicated than that. (Lim and Ehley, 4/22)


The Washington Post:
States Could Increase Coronavirus Testing This Week With At-Home Kits, FDA Commissioner Says 


States could increase their testing capabilities as soon as this week, including the use of at-home testing kits, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. The FDA this week gave the green light to the first coronavirus test that allows patients to collect nasal samples at home. LabCorp, a North Carolina-based company, had said on Tuesday that it was given an emergency-use authorization for its Pixel home collection kit. (Beachum and McGinley, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
New York Preps For Large-Scale Testing Program To Combat Coronavirus Spread


New York state will launch massive testing programs as it prepares to relax restrictions on businesses that were implemented in response to the novel coronavirus crisis, officials said Wednesday. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will provide more than $10 million to design and help set up a tracing program that would allow governments to track down whom infected people have come into contact with in New York City, as well as neighboring counties and states, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. (Vielkind, 4/22)


NPR:
Washington State Builds Coronavirus Contact Tracing Brigade


If life is going to return to anything like normal in the next few months, experts say we’re going to need a lot more “contact tracers.” Those are the public health workers who get in touch with someone who’s tested positive for a disease, to find out who else he or she might have been in contact with. It’s a long-standing practice for illnesses such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and now, as states re-open, it’ll be a crucial tool for keeping a lid on the coronavirus. (Kaste, 4/22)


The New York Times:
The Cold Calculations America’s Leaders Will Have To Make Before Reopening


How many deaths are acceptable to reopen the country before the coronavirus is completely eradicated? “One is too many,” President Trump insists, a politically safe formulation that any leader would instinctively articulate. But that is not the reality of Mr. Trump’s reopen-soon approach. Nor for that matter will it be the bottom line for even those governors who want to go slower. Until there is a vaccine or a cure for the coronavirus, the macabre truth is that any plan to begin restoring public life invariably means trading away some lives. (Baker, 4/22)


The Washington Post:
Reopening States Quickly Could Lead To More Coronavirus Cases And Deaths, Experts Warn


As several states — including South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — rush to reopen businesses, the sudden relaxation of restrictions will supply new targets for the coronavirus that has kept the United States largely closed down, according to experts, math models and the basic rules that govern infectious diseases. “The math is unfortunately pretty simple. It’s not a matter of whether infections will increase but by how much,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a leading epidemiologist at Columbia University. Closing America was hard. But it came with one simple instruction: Everyone stay at home. (Wan, Johnson and Achenbach, 4/22)


The Washington Post:
Inside The Conservative Network Backing The Anti-Quarantine Protests 


The ads on Facebook sounded populist and passionate: “The people are rising up against these insane shutdowns,” they said. “We’re fighting back to demand that our elected officials reopen America.” But the posts, funded by an initiative called Convention of States, were not the product of a grass-roots uprising alone. Instead, they represented one salvo in a wide-ranging and well-financed conservative campaign to undermine restrictions that medical experts say are necessary to contain the coronavirus — but that protesters call overkill and whose economic fallout could damage President Trump’s political prospects. (Stanley-Becker and Romm, 4/22)


Politico:
The Koch Network, Avatar Of The Tea Party, Rejects Shutdown Protests


The libertarian-leaning Koch political network, founded by brothers Charles and David Koch, rose to prominence by funding the tea party protests a decade ago, when taxpayers outraged by an economic stimulus bill and President Barack Obama’s health care plans embraced combative tactics in town halls and protests — and remade politics for years to come. Now, as another recession looms and concerns about government overreach and civil liberties are causing some conservatives to take to the streets, the Koch network is explicitly rejecting the in-person protests. (Severns, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
In Georgia, A Divided View On Gov. Kemp’s Plan To Reopen Businesses


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s order allowing some nonessential businesses to reopen as soon as Friday is being met with skepticism by many residents and business owners here, while some outside the metro area welcomed the effort to restart the stalled economy. Georgia’s rollback of restrictions was the broadest yet in the South, where governors are testing how far and how quickly to relax stay-at-home orders that were put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (McWhirter and Bauerlein, 4/22)


The New York Times:
Trump Criticizes Georgia Governor For Decision To Reopen State


President Trump on Wednesday criticized the decision of a political ally, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, to allow many businesses to reopen this week, saying the move was premature given the number of coronavirus cases in the state. “I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he is doing,” Mr. Trump said at a White House briefing. “I think it’s too soon.” (Rojas, 4/22)


Politico:
Governors Release New Plan For Reopening — And Suggest Few States Are Ready


A new road map from the nation’s governors for reopening the economy urges a cautious approach, saying the White House must dramatically ramp up testing and help states bolster other public health measures before social distancing can be safely pulled back. The plan from the National Governors Association and state health officials suggests a wide-scale reopening of the country isn’t imminent, even as President Donald Trump roots on Southern states that are dialing down restrictions despite warnings from health experts. (Roubein, Goldberg and Ehley, 4/22)


The Associated Press:
White House Shifts From Raising Alarms To Reopening Country


It’s a defining question for a cloistered nation — and a political imperative for Trump, whose reelection likely rides on the pace of an economic rebound. Can the country move beyond a crippling fear of the virus and return to some modified version of its old routines, doing what’s possible to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, but acknowledging it may be a fact of life for years to come? (Miller, 4/23)


The Associated Press:
Mayor Called Reckless For Urging Vegas To Test Reopening


Nevada officials condemned comments Wednesday by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman after she called for casinos and other nonessential businesses to reopen and suggested the city could serve as a test case to measure the impact during the coronavirus pandemic. One local official called her comments “reckless and dangerous” and another described them as an “embarrassment.” Goodman, during a 25-minute interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, said she wants everything back open, including casinos, restaurants and small businesses, and a return of conventions. (Price, 4/23)


The Associated Press:
US States Represent Patchwork As They Mull Economic Restarts


More governors are reopening their economies by the day around the country, creating a patchwork of stay-home orders and other business restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some states are moving faster to reopen, like Georgia, Oklahoma and Montana, where the governor on Wednesday gave the green light to schools to open back up in early May. Other states such as New Hampshire are considering extensions. (4/23)


The Washington Post:
Trump Administration Says It Will Pay Hospitals For Treating Uninsured Covid-19 Patients


The Trump administration confirmed Wednesday that the government will devote an unspecified amount of federal aid to help hospitals cope with the expense of treating covid-19 patients who are uninsured. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the payments for patients without health coverage as part of several strands of funding the government will distribute from a federal relief package to hospitals and other health-care facilities and practitioners overwhelmed financially by the coronavirus pandemic. (Goldstein, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Administration Unveils Plan To Distribute Coronavirus Aid To Hospitals


The disbursal will include $20 billion more for providers based on their recent revenues and $10 billion for hospitals in areas hard-hit by the virus, as well as $10 billion for the roughly 2,000 rural hospitals and health clinics. More funding is coming: The Senate on Tuesday passed a new package with as much as $75 billion in fresh aid for hospitals and providers. Hospitals, especially those in areas hit hard by the pandemic, are straining under the influx of patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and the financial demands of emergency procurement of supplies such as personal protective equipment. Facilities in less stressed areas, meantime, are seeing revenues hammered by elective surgery delays and a decline in patients, who are afraid of contracting the virus in health-care facilities. (Armour, 4/22)


The Associated Press:
Expert Claims Reprisal For Opposing Virus Drug Trump Touted


The head of a government agency combating the coronavirus pandemic alleged Wednesday that he was ousted for opposing politically connected efforts to promote a malaria drug that President Donald Trump touted without proof as a remedy for COVID-19. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said in a statement that he was summarily removed from his job on Tuesday and reassigned to a lesser role. His lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, called it “retaliation plain and simple.” (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/23)


Reuters:
U.S. Official Says He Was Ousted For Urging Caution On Trump-Touted Coronavirus Drug


“While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” Bright said in the statement, reported by multiple U.S. media outlets on Wednesday. Bright said the U.S. government has promoted the medicines as a “panacea” even though they “clearly lack scientific merit.” (Wolfe, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
Health Chief’s Early Missteps Set Back Coronavirus Response


On Jan. 29, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told President Trump the coronavirus epidemic was under control. The U.S. government had never mounted a better interagency response to a crisis, Mr. Azar told the president in a meeting held eight days after the U.S. announced its first case, according to administration officials. At the time, the administration’s focus was on containing the virus. (Ballhaus and Armour, 4/22)


Reuters:
Special Report: Former Labradoodle Breeder Tapped To Lead U.S. Pandemic Task Force


On January 21, the day the first U.S. case of coronavirus was reported, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services appeared on Fox News to report the latest on the disease as it ravaged China. Alex Azar, a 52-year-old lawyer and former drug industry executive, assured Americans the U.S. government was prepared. … Azar’s initial comments misfired on two fronts. Like many U.S. officials, from President Donald Trump on down, he underestimated the pandemic’s severity. He also overestimated his agency’s preparedness. (Roston and Taylor, 4/22)


ProPublica/WNYC:
How Jared Kushner Is Tackling The White House’s Coronavirus Response — Without Any Evident Experience


On April 2, Jared Kushner uncharacteristically took to the podium to speak at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing. He’d been given the task, he said, of assisting Vice President Mike Pence’s Coronavirus Task Force with supply chain issues. “The president,” Kushner said, “wanted us to make sure we think outside the box, make sure we’re finding all the best thinkers in the country, making sure we’re getting all the best ideas, and that we’re doing everything possible to make sure that we can keep Americans safe.” That very day, he said, President Donald Trump told him that “he was hearing from friends of his in New York that the New York public hospital system was running low on critical supply.” (Bernstein, 4/22)


The New York Times:
‘Sadness’ And Disbelief From A World Missing American Leadership


As images of America’s overwhelmed hospital wards and snaking jobless lines have flickered across the world, people on the European side of the Atlantic are looking at the richest and most powerful nation in the world with disbelief. “When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” said Henrik Enderlein, president of the Berlin-based Hertie School, a university focused on public policy. “We are all stunned. Look at the jobless lines. Twenty-two million,” he added. “I feel a desperate sadness,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European history at Oxford University and a lifelong and ardent Atlanticist. (Bennhold, 4/23)


The Washington Post:
Almost 90 Percent Of Coronavirus Patients On Ventilators Died In Large U.S. Study


Throughout March, as the pandemic gained momentum in the United States, much of the preparations focused on the breathing machines that were supposed to save everyone’s lives. New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and President Trump sparred over how many ventilators the state was short. DIYers brainstormed modifications to treat more patients. And ethicists agonized over how to allocate them fairly if we run out. (Cha, 4/22)


The Washington Post:
Blood-Clotting Complication Is Killing Coronavirus Patients, Doctors Say


Craig Coopersmith was up early that morning as usual and typed his daily inquiry into his phone. “Good morning, Team Covid,” he wrote, asking for updates from the ICU team leaders working across 10 hospitals in the Emory University health system in Atlanta. One doctor replied that one of his patients had a strange blood problem. Despite being put on anticoagulants, the patient was still developing clots. A second said she’d seen something similar. And a third. Soon, every person on the text chat had reported the same thing. (Cha, 4/22)


Stat:
Competing Covid-19 Efforts Could Hamper Progress, Experts Warn


As many of the most forward-thinking tech and biopharma behemoths — from Apple and Google to Gilead and MIT — rush in to use their savvy and expertise to help fight Covid-19, some of their independent efforts risk undermining their common goals. For all the know-how and good intentions of these institutions, responding to a global pandemic is far different than operating in the private sector. In interviews with STAT, several researchers and technology experts said that instead of collaborating and seeding innovation, some groups are effectively duplicating each other’s work or competing for limited resources — which could stymie progress in the pandemic response, the experts warned. (Brodwin and Robbins, 4/23)


The New York Times:
Risky Strategy Has Produced Wins For Democrats In Fights Over Pandemic Aid


In January 2018, Senate Democrats took a politically risky stand, shutting down the government to insist on protections for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. Gleeful Republicans saw the obstruction strategy as a huge blunder and pounded the Democrats, who caved after only a few days of sharp attacks and cut a deal to reopen. Times — and circumstances — have changed. Democrats have now blocked two consecutive coronavirus rescue packages pushed by Republicans and withstood withering criticism to win concessions — and hundreds of billions of dollars — they said were vital, including in the bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday and is slated to clear the House on Thursday. (Hulse, 4/23)


The Associated Press:
House Expected To Send 4th Coronavirus Aid Bill To Trump


The House is reassembling to send President Donald Trump a fourth bipartisan bill to help businesses crippled by the coronavirus, an almost $500 billion measure that many lawmakers are already looking beyond. Anchoring the latest bill is a request by the administration to replenish a fund to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses. (Taylor, 4/23)


The Associated Press:
Banks: New $310B For Small Businesses Likely Already Used Up


The more than $300 billion set aside to replenish the emergency loan program for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is likely already all spoken for, banking industry groups said Wednesday. The initial $349 billion set aside for the Paycheck Protection Program ran out on April 16, after being available for less than two weeks. The Senate has approved an additional $310 billion for the program, which the House of Representatives is expected to vote in favor of later this week. (Sweet and Rosenberg, 4/22)


The New York Times:
Banks Gave Richest Clients ‘Concierge Treatment’ For Pandemic Aid


The federal government’s $349 billion aid program for small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic was advertised as first-come, first-served. As many business owners found out, it was anything but. That’s because some of the nation’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and U.S. Bank, prioritized the applications of their wealthiest clients before turning to other loan seekers, according to half a dozen bank employees and financial industry executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the banks’ operations. (Flitter and Cowley, 4/22)


The New York Times:
Harvard Won’t Take Coronavirus Stimulus Money After Trump’s Criticism


Harvard University announced Wednesday that it would not accept $8.6 million in taxpayer money that the university was set to receive as part of an emergency relief package for higher education, whose losses have been mounting during the coronavirus pandemic. The school’s decision came a day after President Trump criticized Harvard for receiving federal relief funds despite its large endowment, valued at $41 billion before the pandemic. “Harvard’s going to pay back the money,” he declared. (Hartocollis, 4/22)


The New York Times:
McConnell Says States Should Consider Bankruptcy, Rebuffing Calls For Aid


Senator Mitch McConnell took a hard line on Wednesday against giving cash-short states more federal aid in future emergency pandemic relief legislation, saying that those suffering steep shortfalls amid the coronavirus crisis should instead consider bankruptcy. “I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in an interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.” (Hulse, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
Millions Of U.S. Workers Continue To Seek Unemployment Help Amid Coronavirus


Millions of Americans likely filed for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting the depth of the jobs crisis triggered more than a month ago by the coronavirus pandemic. About 5.2 million Americans applied for jobless benefits in the week that ended April 11, bringing the one-month total to more than 22 million. Economists expect a similar number filed in the most recent week that ended April 18. Claims, which are laid-off workers’ applications for unemployment insurance payments, are expected to have remained historically high last week. (Chaney and Guilford, 4/23)


The New York Times:
The $600 Unemployment Booster Shot, State By State


Before the coronavirus, people receiving unemployment benefits in most states got, on average, less than half their weekly salaries. Now, as millions file claims, many are poised to receive more money than they would have typically earned in their jobs, thanks to the additional $600 a week set aside in the federal stimulus package for the unemployed. (4/23)


The New York Times:
‘Staying Nimble’: How Small Businesses Can, And Do, Shift Gears


The first week after Cristina McCarter closed her Memphis food tour company, a casualty of the pandemic, she had only tears. “It was a lot of emotions,” she said. “It was like going back to when I first started and everyone said I was crazy to give up my job to be an entrepreneur. I was like, this is what my granddaddy was talking about.” But then, she had an idea. As Ms. McCarter saw restaurants in town reopen to serve takeout, she realized she could take her business, City Tasting Tours, virtual. (Haimerl, 4/23)


The Associated Press:
Trump Signs Immigration Order Featuring Numerous Exemptions


President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that he had signed an executive order “temporarily suspending immigration into the United States.” But experts say the order will merely delay the issuance of green cards for a minority of applicants. Trump said his move was necessary to help Americans find work in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus. “This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” he said. (Colvin and Spagat, 4/23)


Reuters:
Trump Order Temporarily Limits U.S. Immigration During Coronavirus Crisis


Some critics saw Republican Trump’s announcement as a move to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to implement a long-sought policy goal of barring more immigrants in line with his “America first” platform. “In order to protect our great American workers I have just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States. This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” Trump said at his daily news conference about the coronavirus at the White House. (Hesson, Holland and Mason, 4/22)


The New York Times:
Fox News Stars Trumpeted A Malaria Drug, Until They Didn’t


For a month’s stretch, the Fox News star Laura Ingraham relentlessly promoted the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to her nearly four million nightly viewers. The drug was “a game changer” in the fight against the coronavirus, the conservative anchor declared. She booked recovered patients to describe their “miracle turnaround” — “like Lazarus, up from the grave,” as Ms. Ingraham put it. Anyone who questioned the drug’s efficacy, she said, was “in total denial.” (Grynbaum, 4/22)


The Washington Post:
Fox News Hosts Go Mum On Hydroxychloroquine, The Covid-19 Drug They Spent Weeks Promoting


At the height of Fox News’s coverage of a would-be treatment for the novel coronavirus, the network’s medical correspondent, Marc Siegel, offered a remarkable testimonial during Tucker Carlson’s show. Siegel said his 96-year-old father, suffering from symptoms of the virus and fearing he would die, made a full recovery thanks to the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a course of antibiotics. “He got up the next day and was fine,” Siegel told an astonished Carlson. (Farhi and Izadi, 4/22)


The Wall Street Journal:
VA Didn’t Publicly Acknowledge Shortages, Top Officials Say


The Department of Veterans Affairs was slow to publicly disclose the extent of mask shortages the department faced, as it dealt with an onslaught of coronavirus cases, top VA officials said this week. Secretary Robert Wilkie and the department’s official in charge of hospitals said the U.S. medical system has been inundated with Covid-19 cases since March, straining resources at the VA and all health systems nationwide. And yet, for weeks the VA told the public, employees and veterans that the department faced no problems and wasn’t rationing equipment. (Kesling, 4/22)


The Associated Press:
VA Medical Facilities Struggle To Cope With Coronavirus


As she treated patient after patient infected with the coronavirus at a Veterans Affairs medical center in New York City, Heather Espinal saw stark warning signs. So many nurses had called in sick, she said, that the Bronx facility was woefully understaffed. It lacked specially equipped rooms for infected patients, she said, and didn’t have enough masks, gloves and other protective gear to guard against the spread of the highly contagious disease. (Casey and Yen, 4/23)


The Wall Street Journal:
Coronavirus Deaths In U.S. Nursing, Long-Term Care Facilities Top 10,000


The number of U.S. coronavirus-linked deaths in long-term care facilities including nursing homes has eclipsed 10,000, as nursing-home owners said they are still struggling to access the testing they need to detect and curb outbreaks. A growing number of state health departments are reporting data, including fatalities, linked to facilities that primarily house older people who often are in frail health and particularly vulnerable to infection from the new coronavirus. (Kamp and Wilde Mathews, 4/22)


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.



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