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First Edition: March 30, 2020

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


Kaiser Health News:
‘Red Dawn Breaking Bad’: Officials Warned About Safety Gear Shortfall Early On, Emails Show


A high-ranking federal official in late February warned that the United States needed to plan for not having enough personal protective equipment for medical workers as they began to battle the novel coronavirus, according to internal emails obtained by Kaiser Health News. The messages provide a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s statements at the time that the threat the coronavirus posed to the American public remained “very low.” In fact, concerns were already mounting, the emails show, that medical workers and first responders would not have enough masks, gloves, face shields and other supplies, known as PPE, to protect themselves against infection when treating COVID-19 patients. (Pradhan and Jewett, 3/28)


Kaiser Health News:
What Takes So Long? A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Steps Involved In COVID-19 Testing


After a slow start, testing for COVID-19 has ramped up in recent weeks, with giant commercial labs jumping into the effort, drive-up testing sites established in some places and new types of tests approved under emergency rules set by the Food and Drug Administration. But even for people who are able to get tested (and there’s still a big lag in testing ability in hot spots across the U.S.), there can be a frustratingly long wait for results — not just hours, but often days. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) didn’t get his positive test results for six days and is now being criticized for not self-quarantining during that time. (Appleby, 3/30)


Kaiser Health News:
The Nation’s 5,000 Outpatient Surgery Centers Could Help With The COVID-19 Overflow


As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, a group of anesthesiologists wants to convert America’s surgery centers into critical care units for infected patients. Many of the country’s more than 5,000 outpatient surgery centers have closed or sharply cut back on the number of elective procedures they perform, to comply with requests from government agencies and professional societies. But those surgery centers have space and staff, as well as anesthesia machines that could be repurposed into ventilators — all of which could be especially crucial in hard-hit areas like New York. (Anthony and Szabo, 3/27)


Kaiser Health News:
Federal Judge Rules Medicare Patients Can Challenge ‘Observation Care’ Status


Hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries who have been denied coverage for nursing home stays because their time in the hospital was changed from “inpatient” to “observation care” can now appeal to Medicare for reimbursement, a federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut, ruled last week. If the government does not challenge the decision and patients win their appeals, Medicare could pay them millions of dollars for staggeringly high nursing home bills. (Jaffe, 3/30)


Kaiser Health News:
Addiction Is ‘A Disease Of Isolation’ — So Pandemic Puts Recovery At Risk


Before the coronavirus became a pandemic, Emma went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every week in the Boston area and to another support group at her methadone clinic. She said she felt safe, secure and never judged. “No one is thinking, ‘Oh, my God. She did that?’” said Emma, “’cause they’ve been there.” Now, with AA and other 12-step groups moving online, and the methadone clinic shifting to phone meetings and appointments, Emma said she is feeling more isolated. (Bebinger, 3/30)


The New York Times:
Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines Through End Of April 


President Trump retreated Sunday from his desire to relax coronavirus guidelines by Easter, announcing instead that all Americans must continue to avoid nonessential travel, going to work, eating at bars and restaurants, or gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month and perhaps until June. The grim recommendation, which the president made in the White House Rose Garden, came just a day before the end of a two-week period in which the world’s largest economy has largely shut down with staggering consequences: businesses shuttered, schools and colleges emptied, and social life all but suspended. (Shear, 3/29)


The Associated Press:
Trump Extends Virus Guidelines, Braces US For Big Death Toll


It was a stark shift in tone by the president, who only days ago mused about the country reopening in a few weeks. From the Rose Garden, he said his Easter revival hopes had only been “aspirational.” The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. He instead decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he’d been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings. (Miller and Colvin, 3/30)


The Washington Post:
President Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidance Until End Of April


The president’s comments came after a top medical adviser to the White House and state governors said in television interviews Sunday that they could not envision an easing soon of measures designed to slow the virus’s spread, warning that the outbreak will continue taxing hospitals and could kill thousands more people. Anthony S. Fauci, the White House adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that models suggest the virus could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths and that millions of people could be infected. But he stressed that the 200,000 figure was a worst-case estimate that is unlikely to come to pass. (Duncan and Sonmez, 3/29)


Politico:
Inside The White House During ’15 Days To Slow The Spread’


An eerie quiet crept over the White House.Desks were empty. Office lights were turned off. Many staffers had been told to work from home. The bustling Navy Mess was closed, and the usual stream of visitors rushing in and out of the West Wing had slowed to a trickle. Left behind were President Donald Trump, his top aides, and a small group of staffers, hunkered down and making battle plans as the novel coronavirus marched across the country. All were acutely aware their decisions in the coming days could define their legacies — not to mention whether they kept their jobs after 2020. (McGraw and Oprysko, 3/29)


The Washington Post:
How To Evaluate And Eventually Ease Coronavirus Restrictions


If there’s one thing people agree on, even as they debate the government’s coronavirus response, it is this: We can’t do this forever. The nationwide shutdowns, the home quarantines, hospital shortages, layoffs, deaths and infections. All seemingly without end. So what exactly is our next step? Concerned about the nation’s halting, uncoordinated response — which has featured a patchwork of state-by-state, competing and at times contradictory decisions — health experts are rushing to offer their own long-term strategies to combat the virus and edge America closer back to normal. (McGinley and Wan, 3/29)


Politico:
Trump Adviser Outlines Cautious Approach For Reopening Economy


A new report co-authored by President Donald Trump’s former FDA commissioner suggests the country wouldn’t broadly reopen anytime soon, as the Trump administration weighs whether to ease nationwide measures aimed at slowing the coronavirus. The country doesn’t yet appear to meet the proposed criteria for reopening schools and businesses laid out in the paper co-written by Scott Gottlieb, who has continued to advise the Trump administration. (Roubein, 3/29)


The New York Times:
Coronavirus Slowdown In Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working


The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now. Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. (Baker, 3/29)


The New York Times:
How Much Should The Public Know About Who Has The Coronavirus?


When the first case of the coronavirus in Silicon Valley was discovered in late January, health officials were faced with a barrage of questions: What city did the patient live in? Whom had he come in contact with? Which health clinic had he visited before he knew he was infected? Dr. Sara Cody, the chief health officer for Santa Clara County, which has a population of two million across 15 cities, declined to give details. “I can’t give the city,” she said, adding “we are not going to be giving out information about where he sought health care.” (Fuller, 3/28)


The Associated Press Fact Check:
Trump Gets A Reality Check On Coronavirus


For weeks, President Donald Trump carved out a trail of groundless assurances about the coronavirus pandemic as health officials, governors and local officials sounded alarm about what was coming — and already here. That sunlit trail now has hit a wall. On Sunday, Trump appeared to be bracing the country for a grim death toll as he accepted the advice of public-health experts and gave up on letting federal social-distance guidelines lapse Monday as initially intended. In doing so, he acknowledged what his officials had told him — that 100,000 people or many more could die from COVID-19 in the U.S. before it’s over. And he recognized it won’t be over for some time. (Woodward and Yen, 3/30)


The New York Times:
The U.S. Tried To Build A New Fleet Of Ventilators. The Mission Failed.


Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of ventilators. The breathing-assistance machines tended to be bulky, expensive and limited in number. The plan was to build a large fleet of inexpensive portable devices to deploy in a flu pandemic or another crisis. Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway. (Kulish, Kliff and Silver-Greenberg, 3/29)


The Wall Street Journal:
Manufacturers Seek U.S. Help In Deciding Where To Ship Scarce Medical Goods


Producers and distributors of medical supplies across the country are raising red flags about what they say is a lack of guidance from the federal government about where to send their products, as hospitals compete for desperately needed masks and ventilators to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The issue is taking on greater urgency as supplies run short in hard-hit regions. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example, said the city could run out of supplies after a week, saying in a CNN interview the city would “need a re-enforcement” after that to address a crisis that is certain to last much longer. (Ballhaus and Restuccia, 3/29)


The Wall Street Journal:
Governors Push For More Medical Gear To Fight Coronavirus 


State governors, besieged by a flood of coronavirus patients amid scarce hospital resources, took to the airwaves on Sunday to plead for more equipment to fight the pandemic. Both Democratic and Republican governors highlighted acute shortages of equipment that medical professionals on the front lines need to do their jobs, including masks, gowns and face shields. One particular point of concern is the scarcity of the ventilators used to help restore breathing capability among severely stricken patients. (Burton, 3/29)


Los Angeles Times:
Governors Shrug Off Trump’s Insults As They Plead For Federal Aid


Wary of President Trump’s criticism that they were ungrateful for his management of the coronavirus crisis, governors of several of the hardest-hit states sought gingerly Sunday to avoid provoking him anew and risk losing desperately needed federal aid. Despite the drastic shutdown of much of the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, warned Sunday that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans might die before the pandemic eases. More than 2,400 had died as of Sunday. (King, 3/29)


The New York Times:
White House Airlifts Medical Supplies From China In Coronavirus Fight


A commercial aircraft carrying 80 tons of gloves, masks, gowns and other medical supplies from Shanghai touched down in New York on Sunday, the first of 22 scheduled flights that White House officials say will funnel much-needed goods to the United States by early April as it battles the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak. The plane delivered 130,000 N95 masks, 1.8 million face masks and gowns, 10 million gloves and thousands of thermometers for distribution to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said Lizzie Litzow, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ms. Litzow said that flights would be arriving in Chicago on Monday and in Ohio on Tuesday, and that supplies would be sent from there to other states using private-sector distribution networks. (Swanson, 3/29)


The New York Times:
Trump Said He Was The President Of Manufacturing. Then Disaster Struck.


When President Trump came to office, he promised a new day with America’s manufacturers, casting himself as the first president who understood their needs. He toured factory floors, often handing out his signature “Make America Great Again” hats. Yet in the first national crisis that required harnessing American manufacturing ingenuity and ramping up production of ventilators, perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment for patients in crisis, the White House’s ability to gather the power of American industry crumpled. (Sanger and Haberman, 3/29)


Reuters:
Trump Accuses Hospitals Of Hoarding Ventilators


U.S. President Donald Trump accused hospitals on Sunday of hoarding ventilators that are in scarce supply across the United States as the coronavirus spreads, adding any hospitals not using the devices must release them. Trump, whose critics have accused him of trying to deflect blame over his handling of the crisis, did not cite any evidence to back his accusation that hospitals were hoarding the devices. It was also unclear which medical facilities he was referring to. “We have some healthcare workers, some hospitals … hoarding equipment including ventilators,” Trump said at the White House following a meeting with corporate executives, including from U.S. Medical Group. (Bose and Stewart, 3/29)


The Washington Post:
Trump Blames Hospitals For Mask And Ventilator Shortages


Trump’s boldest claim was about masks. He noted that current demand wasn’t commensurate with what hospitals typically use and suggested that masks were “going out the back door.” “It’s a New York hospital, very — it’s packed all the time,” he said. “How do you go from 10 to 20 [thousand masks per week] to 300,000? Ten [thousand] to 20,000 masks, to 300,000 — even though this is different? Something is going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Are they going out the back door?” (Blake, 3/29)


The New York Times:
How Coronavirus Has Transformed Elections Across The U.S.


From the White House to the county courthouse, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically upended the 2020 elections. Many Democratic leaders now doubt their national party convention will take place as planned in July, while President Trump’s determination to hold the Republican convention could collide with life-and-death realities. Both Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are wary of holding public events too soon and may not engage in full-fledged campaigning until the summer. (Martin, Epstein and Haberman, 3/29)


The Associated Press:
Coronavirus Response Highlights Deepening Partisan Divide


In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has instituted a shutdown on a city of nearly 4 million people and threatened uncooperative business owners with power shutoffs and arrest. In Mississippi, home to nearly 3 million people, Gov. Tate Reeves has allowed most businesses to stay open — even restaurants, so long as they serve no more than 10 people at a time. The divergent approaches are evidence that not even a global pandemic can bridge the gaping political divisions of the Trump era. (Peoples, 3/30)


The Washington Post:
This Pro-Trump Coastal Community In Florida, Hit Early By Virus, Sits At Emotional Nexus Of National Debate Over Reopening Economy Amid Health Crisis


Hours after her father died, an angry and distraught Lori Hannaford typed out a 3 a.m. Facebook post aimed at anyone still walking around this laid-back city as if the world wasn’t reeling from a pandemic caused by a deadly virus with no vaccine and no cure. “I hope you never have to lose a spouse and be unable to touch them, be in their room, or say goodbye to them,” she wrote, a short time after changing her Facebook cover photo to a picture of her stepfather kissing her on her wedding day. “I hope you never have to lose your father and be unable to hug your mom and be consoled because you have to stay 6 feet away.” (Wootson, 3/29)


The New York Times:
Coronavirus May Add Billions To The Nation’s Health Care Bill


With so much still uncertain about how widespread hospitalizations for coronavirus patients will be around the United States, a new analysis says premiums could increase as much as 40 percent next year if the pandemic results in millions of Americans needing hospital stays. “Health plans went into 2020 with no hint of coronavirus on the horizon,” said Peter V. Lee, the executive director of Covered California, the state insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act, which conducted the analysis. To protect businesses and individuals from sharply higher rates, he supports a temporary federal program that would cover some of these costs. (Abelson, 3/28)


The Hill:
Health Insurers Cigna, Humana Waive Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Coronavirus Treatment 


Two major U.S. health insurers, Cigna and Humana, are waiving all out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatments nationwide. “Two of the country’s largest health insurers, Humana and Cigna, are announcing that they will waive co-pays, which is a big deal. For anybody who understands insurance, they don’t waive co-pays easily, but we’ve asked them to do it, and they’ve done it,” Trump announced at a Sunday press briefing in the Rose Garden. (Bowden, 3/29)


The Wall Street Journal:
After Three Coronavirus Stimulus Packages, Congress Is Already Prepping Phase Four


As lawmakers last week completed a record-shattering economic-rescue package estimated at $2 trillion, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) predicted: “This is certainly not the end of our work here in Congress—rather the end of the beginning.” Legislators from both parties, administration officials, economists, think tanks and lobbyists are already roughing out the contours of yet another emergency-spending package—perhaps larger than the last—to try to keep the coronavirus crisis from turning into a 21st-century Great Depression. Many expect the debate to begin in earnest by late April. (Schlesinger and Jamerson, 3/29)


Reuters:
U.S. Stimulus Package Is Biggest Ever, But May Not Be Big Enough


The Federal Reserve has offered more than $3 trillion in loans and asset purchases in recent weeks to stop the U.S. financial system from seizing up, but it has not yet directly helped large swaths of the real economy: companies, municipalities and other borrowers with less than perfect credit. (Delevinge and Schneider, 3/30)


The Hill:
McCarthy Says Fourth Stimulus Bill Might Not Be Necessary 


The top Republican in the House said Sunday that a fourth stimulus bill may not be necessary to help an economy wracked by the coronavirus pandemic. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the $2 trillion stimulus package passed last week is “critical” to make it through the “next two months and get this economy coming back.” (Coleman, 3/29)


The Hill:
Democrats Eye Additional Relief Checks For Coronavirus 


Democrats are keen on including additional direct payments to Americans in the next coronavirus response bill, arguing more needs to be done to provide financial stability as the pandemic ravages the economy. A number of Democratic lawmakers have offered proposals for more generous payments than the ones included in the $2 trillion measure President Trump signed into law Friday. That legislation included one-time cash payments for most Americans of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. (Jagoda, 3/29)


Stat:
Capitol Hill’s Coronavirus Response Delays Drug Pricing Legislation


Before the coronavirus pandemic became Congress’ sole focus, late May was widely viewed as a final 2020 deadline for lawmakers to take action on key health policy issues, including legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs. But with the Covid-19 crisis dominating every aspect of American politics, such legislation will have to wait. A recent $2 trillion relief package that lawmakers passed on Friday could mean drug pricing advocates might be waiting a long while — likely until November, weeks after Election Day. (Facher, 3/30)


The Wall Street Journal:
America’s Make-Or-Break Week


Congress has passed a $2 trillion rescue plan but before those funds start to flow, American companies from the owner of a single liquor store in Boston to corporate giants like Macy’s Inc., must decide what to do about April’s bills: Which obligations do they pay and which can they put off? How many employees can they afford to keep on the payroll? Can they get a break on rent? The decisions they make this week could shape how deeply the economy is damaged by the coronavirus pandemic. “Rent is due. Utilities are due. Credit card bills are due April 1,” said Hadley Douglas, who has laid off two workers from her liquor business, The Urban Grape. (Simon, Fung, Kapner and Haddon, 3/29)


Politico:
FDA Issues Emergency Authorization Of Anti-Malaria Drug For Coronavirus Care


The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The agency allowed for the drugs to be “donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” HHS said in a statement, announcing that Sandoz donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the stockpile and Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine. (Diamond, 3/29)


Politico:
Trump’s Push For Risky Malaria Drugs Disrupts Coronavirus Response


President Donald Trump’s all-out push to advance unproven coronavirus treatments is deepening a divide between the White House and career health officials, who are being pulled away from other potential projects to address the president’s hunch that decades-old malaria medicines can be coronavirus cures. The White House directed health officials to set up a project to track if the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine show promise — a dayslong effort that distracted from urgent tasks like trials of other medicines thought to have more potential against the virus. (Owermohle and Diamond, 3/27)


The Washington Post:
Home Tests For Coronavirus Not Yet Approved By FDA


When Austin-based Everlywell unveiled a new test for the coronavirus that people could buy online, use at home and mail back with results in 48 hours, the company was confident the product would be a hit. The botched rollout of the federal government’s testing effort had left consumers hungry for alternatives. The company, which sells a variety of other home tests, was “inundated” with requests for a coronavirus one, said chief executive Julia Cheek on March 19, four days before it planned to put 30,000 tests up for sale at $135 each. (McGinley, Mufson and Dwoskin, 3/27)


The Washington Post:
Despite Trump’s Claims, The U.S. Is Far Behind In Coronavirus Testing


President Trump gave the United States a pat on the back on this week, saying the nation had done more coronavirus testing than South Korea, a country widely seen as a model in its management of the pandemic. But his comparison was misleading. “Just reported that the United States has done far more ‘testing’ than any other nation, by far!” Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning. “In fact, over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea (which has been a very successful tester) does over an eight week span. Great job!” (Mooney, Mufson and Ba Tran, 3/27)


The New York Times:
‘A Heart-Wrenching Thing’: Hospital Bans On Visits Devastate Families


The last time Peter John Dario saw his father alive was on March 14, at the entrance to a hospital in Edison, N.J. An employee took him away in a wheelchair, telling Mr. Dario and his mother gently but unequivocally that they could not go in the building. In a fog of worry and confusion, as he watched his father’s diminished silhouette disappear through the door, Mr. Dario forgot to say goodbye. Five days later, his father, Peter Dario, died of respiratory failure from an infection caused by the coronavirus. He was 59. None of the members of his large family — several of them now also sick with Covid-19 — were at his side. (Hafner, 3/29)


The Associated Press:
As Virus Makes Goodbyes Hard, Fears Of Many More Rise In US


The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday as family members described wrenching farewells through hospital windows with dying loved ones. Faced with that grim projection and the possibility even more could die in the U.S. without measures to keep people away from one another, President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people stay home for another 30 days until the end of April to prevent the spread of the virus. (Sedensky, Sisak and Dazio, 3/29)


The Associated Press:
Grandma Is Gone: Coronavirus Keeps Kids From Older Family


A few weeks ago, Debbie Cameron saw her grandsons most days, playing the piano, making after-school snacks or singing nursery rhymes with the baby in her Chandler, Arizona, home. Then the cornavirus crisis hit and the boys were suddenly gone. Cameron is 68 and has asthma, making her one of the people most at risk of getting seriously ill or dying. Now she sees her grandchildren from behind the glass of a window or a phone screen. “Looking at them through the window and not being able hug them, it’s just a dang killer,” she said. (Whitehurst, 3/30)


The Washington Post:
How Local Officials Scrambled To Protect Themselves Against The Coronavirus


As a mysterious respiratory illness tore through China and other countries in mid-January, Kyle Coleman, an emergency management coordinator in Texas, took inventory of his team’s personal protective gear at a warehouse in Bexar County. The hazmat suits and gloves were in good condition. Some of the respirator masks had expired. Three pallets of hand sanitizer seemed like enough because they seldom used more than one pallet a year. Over several weeks in January, Coleman followed the outbreak of the novel coronavirus: the first death reported in China on Jan. 11, the spread to Thailand and Japan, and then the first U.S. case in Washington state confirmed on Jan. 21.The next day, President Trump, in an interview on CNBC, assured the public: “We have it totally under control.” (Dungca, Abelson and Sullivan, 3/29)


Politico:
New York Leaders Look At Harrowing Week Ahead


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday painted a grim picture of the coming week as the state’s death toll from Covid-19 approached 1,000, but at the same time they dismissed calls to impose tighter restrictions on people’s movements in a region that has become the nation’s largest concentration of coronavirus infections. “The virus continues its march across the state of New York,” Cuomo said at a news conference on Sunday. “I don’t see how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away.” (Durkin, Giambusso, Mahoney and Toure, 3/29)


The Associated Press:
What To Know About The Coronavirus Numbers In New York


The official statistics reported by health authorities would seem to show that the United States has more coronavirus infections than any other country and that the New York caseloads exceed any other state. But the true statistics are far from clear. Reporting and testing vary so much from country to country and state to state that it’s hard to know the exact size of the outbreaks, and that is especially the case in New York. (Stobbe, 3/30)


Reuters:
New Orleans Doctors Scramble As Coronavirus Deaths, Cases Soar


Emergency room doctor Thomas Krajewski stopped at the hospital room door at 2 a.m. to glance at the chart. He knew instantly the long odds faced by the patient inside: A man in his 70s, with a fever, short of breath. “Do you mind calling my son?” the patient asked him. “My two grandsons tomorrow morning are going to crawl in my bed because they wake me up on the weekends, and if I’m not there, they will wonder.” Twelve hours later, the man needed a ventilator. After a day, his kidneys started to fail. In three days, he was dead – one of 151 people who had succumbed to COVID-19 in Louisiana by late Sunday. (Brooks, 3/30)


The New York Times:
Some U.S. Cities Could Have Coronavirus Outbreaks Worse Than Wuhan’s


If the rate of growth in coronavirus cases in the New York metro area continues, it will suffer a more severe outbreak than those experienced in Wuhan, China, or the Lombardy region of Italy. There is no guarantee, of course, that current trends will continue. What has happened to this point can’t be used to predict what will happen next. It is possible that social distancing will soon slow or arrest the growth of cases. (Cohn, Katz, Sanger-Katz and Quealy, 3/27)


The Associated Press:
Hundreds At Louisiana Church Flout COVID-19 Gatherings Ban


Hundreds of worshippers attended services at a Louisiana church on Sunday, flouting a ban on large gatherings, angering neighbors and seemingly turning a deaf ear to their governor, who once again warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed with new cases of the coronavirus. An estimated 500 people of all ages filed inside the mustard-yellow and beige Life Tabernacle church in Central, a city of nearly 29,000 outside Baton Rouge. (Plaisance, 3/29)


Los Angeles Times:
In Navajo Nation, Coronavirus Creates Chaos As Cases Surge


Lisa Robbins runs the generator attached to her family’s mobile home for just a few hours most mornings. With no electricity, it provides heat in this rural high-desert stretch of the Navajo Nation where overnight temperatures often linger in the low 30s this time of year. Robbins first started hearing the whispers earlier this month — the fever, that sickness, something called coronavirus — but most people in this town of about 900 didn’t seem too worried. It was far off, neighbors told her, a world away in the big cities. (Lee, 3/29)


The New York Times:
A City Hunkered Down To Survive An Outbreak. That Helped In A Tornado, Too.


Some in Jonesboro, Ark., saw a miracle on Saturday after a tornado roared through town. It tore through businesses already closed by the coronavirus and neighborhoods where people had already been told to social distance by hunkering down at home. Not a soul died. Now comes the really hard part: rebuilding and moving on together while officials still urge residents to stay apart. The tornado gashed a scar of devastation that stretched on for more than four miles, scraping through the heart of the city’s commercial district, destroying hangars at the municipal airport and pulverizing homes in several subdivisions. (Rojas and Swales, 3/29)


The Wall Street Journal:
Ohio Governor On Why He Ordered Early, Tough Coronavirus Lockdowns


Ohio had yet to report a single case of Covid-19 in early March when Gov. Mike DeWine faced a wrenching decision. The Arnold Sports Festival, an annual weightlifting extravaganza and expo in Columbus, Ohio, was set to open. But with some 60,000 spectators a day for four days rubbing elbows with 20,000 athletes from 80 countries, local health officials were raising alarms. On March 5, after resistance from festival organizers, the state got a court order to shut down the expo expected to start that day. It lost out on much of the $53 million in economic activity expected from the event. (Barrett, 3/29)


The Wall Street Journal:
Florida, Unlike Other Hard-Hit States, Avoids Broad Coronavirus Lockdown


Public-health officials say statewide lockdowns implemented early and aggressively are necessary to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis disagrees. Among the states in the U.S. with the most coronavirus cases, Florida alone has refrained from imposing a statewide stay-at-home order. The Republican governor has instead focused restrictions on the hardest-hit counties while seeking to spare other areas from the deep economic pain that comes with a lockdown. (Campo-Flores, 3/30)


The Wall Street Journal:
States Restrict Travelers From Coronavirus ‘Hot Zones’


Local governments across the country are imposing travel restrictions on people from hot-spots of the new coronavirus in the U.S., forcing them to self-isolate, stopping vehicles with out-of-state plates and urging them to stay away. Governors in Rhode Island, Florida and Texas, among others, have tightened restrictions on out-of-state travelers. In particular, they have targeted those coming from New York, the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter, and surrounding states. State leaders say the measures are needed to combat the spread of the virus. (Calfas and Ansari, 3/29)


The New York Times:
‘Group Of Local Vigilantes’ Try To Forcibly Quarantine Out-Of-Towners, Officials Say


A group of residents from an island town in Maine cut down a tree and dragged it into the middle of a road in an attempt to forcibly quarantine three roommates they believed could have the new coronavirus after arriving from out of state, law enforcement officials said on Saturday. The tree was discovered after one of the roommates left their residence on Cripple Creek Road in Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine, at about 3:30 p.m. on Friday to see why the cable service wasn’t working, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. (Ortiz, 3/29)


The Associated Press:
Blissful Ignorance? Submariners Likely Unaware Of Pandemic


Of a world in coronavirus turmoil, they may know little or nothing. Submariners stealthily cruising the ocean deeps, purposefully shielded from worldly worries to encourage undivided focus on their top-secret missions of nuclear deterrence, may be among the last pockets of people anywhere who are still blissfully unaware of how the pandemic is turning life upside down. (Leicester, 3/30)


The New York Times:
Instacart Shoppers Plan To Strike Over Coronavirus Protections


Workers for Instacart, a tech company that delivers groceries and other household items ordered through an app, plan a nationwide strike on Monday, maintaining that the company has not provided them with supplies to protect them from being infected during the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how many might strike. The company has approximately 200,000 shoppers, with plans to add 300,000 over the next three months. The shoppers are independent contractors who can work as little or as much as they want. (Taylor, 3/28)


The New York Times:
What Sept. 11 Taught Us About Confronting Catastrophe


From careful planning and much drilling, medical workers knew without being told that they should roll a fleet of gurneys and wheelchairs onto the sidewalk outside St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, New York’s last mortal catastrophe. But there they remained, empty. Nothing spoke louder than those mute, unused stretchers. People got out of the World Trade Center mostly intact or not at all. For days, thousands of fliers were taped around hospitals with pictures of those who had not made it home, or even as far as any gurneys. (Dwyer, 3/29)


The New York Times:
Coronavirus Taunts Evoke A Painful History For Asian-American Leaders


Soon after President Trump first uttered the phrase “Chinese virus,” Representative Grace Meng got a call from her parents, who had read about it in the newspaper. Had Mr. Trump, they wondered, really given the coronavirus that corrosive moniker? Yes, she told them, indeed he had. And no, despite being a member of Congress and her parents’ continued pleas, there was nothing she could do to make him stop. (Stevens, 3/29)


The Washington Post:
Three Months Into The Pandemic, Here’s How Likely The Coronavirus Is To Infect People


Three months into this pandemic, scientists are coming to understand the novel coronavirus. They know, for example, that as horrible as this virus is, it is not the worst, most apocalyptic virus imaginable. Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is not as contagious as measles, and although it is very dangerous, it is not as likely to kill an infected person as, say, Ebola. (Achenbach, 3/28)


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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