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Trump’s Coronavirus Claim Is His Biggest Lie Yet – And It Could Be Working




WASHINGTON ― Having sold himself as a great business and military leader despite bankrupt casinos and bone spurs, President Donald Trump faces his greatest challenge yet: making Americans forget the two months he dismissed concerns about a deadly pandemic as a “hoax.”
If recent polling showing a significant bump in his approval ratings is any indicator, though, Trump may well be succeeding ― setting himself on a path to reelection.
“No question that the president’s job approval has increased as a result of his handling of the coronavirus crisis,” said GOP pollster Neil Newhouse. “Already about topped out among Republicans, President Trump has made gains among both Independents and Democrats.”
To make this work, Trump has been pushing the biggest lie of his adult life ― a revisionist history in which he did everything correctly, that nobody could have anticipated such an outbreak, and his leadership alone is saving millions of lives.
“It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing. That, I can tell you,” he said last week.
“Nobody could have predicted something like this,” he told Fox News Monday morning.
“I can’t tell you what the unfortunate final toll is going to be, but it’s going to be a very small fraction of that,” he said Tuesday afternoon of expert estimates of 2.2 million dead if the country had done nothing to stop the virus. “So we’re doing an awfully good job, I think, with what we’re doing.”
Each of his claims is false. Trump scrapped the pandemic response team that President Barack Obama created after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, part of an overall effort to undo everything that his predecessor had accomplished. Trump ignored warnings from his own intelligence community that China was covering up the severity of the coronavirus epidemic in the city and province where it originated. Trump even ignored a step-by-step pandemic “playbook” the Obama administration had written.
Instead, Trump discounted the threat the virus posed from Jan. 22, when he told CNBC that “we have it totally under control,” straight through until March 15, when he called it “a very contagious virus” but again claimed it was one “that we have tremendous control over.” 
Trump had based his re-election campaign on the strength of the economy, and feared that worries about a pandemic would hurt the stock market. “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” he wrote in a Feb. 24 tweet. “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” 

History shows that it takes a personal experience of catastrophe to see that the leader has been telling lies.
New York University history professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Nevertheless, thanks in part to his ability to command a nationwide audience in press briefings broadcast live each day, Trump has been able push his new message to replace the old one.
“History shows that it takes a personal experience of catastrophe to see that the leader has been telling lies,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an authoritarianism expert and history professor at New York University. “In this case, Trump has artfully ‘dosed out’ reality, telling people everything is fine, then gradually telling them it’s not, with lackey medical professionals to back him up. So he may weather even this crisis.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham did not respond to a query about Trump’s new messaging. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh cited China travel restrictions that Trump imposed at the very end of January as showing he took“decisive action” from the start.
“Throughout this crisis, the president has always sought to keep the public calm, but has listened to his medical and scientific advisors in making firm decisions about keeping the country safe,” Murtaugh said.

Revising History From Two Months Ago

Key to turning Trump’s actual performance in those critical early weeks into electoral success likely hinges on two efforts underway.
First is redefining success. Trump early on promised Americans that he had “stopped” the virus from spreading in the U.S. through his ban on foreigners who had recently been in China from entering this country. That morphed into claiming that those few cases here were rapidly shrinking to zero, and that the virus itself would disappear on its own with April’s warmer weather.
Those goalposts have now been moved clear across the planet. From the Feb. 26 boasts of having only 15 cases and zero deaths, Trump this week said success would mean hundreds of thousands of dead Americans.
“If we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — that’s a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000; so we have between 100- and 200,000 — we all, together, have done a very good job,” he said Monday at a press briefing in the White House Rose Garden.
And if Trump’s past is a guide ― he has claimed that running his casinos into bankruptcy starting in the early 1990s somehow represented a business success ― he will keep claiming he handled the crisis well, regardless of how many Americans wind up dying.
“I think he can move the numbers as high as he needs to with his base because he has primed them to accept whatever he tells them and to disbelieve everyone else,” Ben-Ghiat said.
The other piece of Trump’s strategy is relentlessly attacking those who point out his previous statements. Trump has done this repeatedly in his daily briefings, attacking reporters when they read his earlier remarks back to him verbatim.
“Instead of asking a nasty, snarky question like that, you should ask a real question,” he said to a journalist Monday.
His campaign, meanwhile, had set upon the mission of trying to block Trump’s most egregious downplaying of the pandemic: His Feb. 28 description of the coronavirus fears as “a hoax” ― the most recent in a line of Democratic attempts to hurt his presidency.
Campaign officials, realizing the seriousness of Trump’s riff at a rally in South Carolina that evening, soon afterward began attacking journalists who described Trump’s use of “hoax” as misrepresenting what he said.
“Will she apologize for lying?” wrote a Trump campaign staffer on March 23 after Washington Post reporter Ashley Parker accurately described Trump’s use of the word in an NBC News report.
The campaign has even threatened to sue TV stations that were running an ad by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA that used the audio clip of Trump saying “hoax” in a montage of his statements downplaying the virus.
“We will not stand idly by and allow you to broadcast false, deceptive, and misleading information concerning President’s Trump’s healthcare positions without consequence,” the campaign said in a letter.
Of course, the response to that letter may foreshadow the steep hill Trump faces more broadly in re-writing the history of his coronavirus response. According to Priorities USA, not a single TV station complied with the campaign request to pull the ad, and the super PAC recently released a revised one, using the much higher number of coronavirus cases.

When The Big Lie Fails

Indeed, while Trump may be enjoying a bump right now in the public support, that newfound popularity could fade as his repeated lies about his performance come up against the reality of the coronavirus’ lethality.
Trump confounded the political class in both parties in 2016, seeming to suffer little consequence for repeated and readily disproven lies about himself, his opponents and the world at large.
Trump falsely claimed he had built “a massive empire,” a “phenomenal company,” starting with just a “very small loan” from his father. He boasted that he knew more about war than “the generals.”
In fact, Trump lost millions of dollars running an airline, vastly overpaid for a midtown hotel he wound up losing and bankrupted his casinos ― a near impossibility, given their business model ― nearly squandering the fortune his father had left him of nearly $1 billion in today’s dollars.
And when the prospect of serving in the Vietnam War presented itself, Trump claimed the ailment of “bone spurs” to avoid the military ― even though he later could not recall which heel had suffered the malady. 

At some point, reality intrudes on the ‘Big Lie.’ But at this point we don’t know when.
Norman Ornstein, of the

Trump countered endless media “fact checks” of his dishonesties by attacking the media instead ― a strategy he openly admitted to in an interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS News in 2016. “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,” he said.
Yet Trump was able to get away with all those lies, as well as a torrent of fresh lies since becoming president, because they did not directly affect the lives of most Americans, NYU’s Ben-Ghiat said.
That will not be the case with the pandemic. In a span of just 30 days, 3,440 Americans had died by Tuesday afternoon, with 1,000 of those happening in the past two days. Which means that even Trump’s most loyal supporters, who crave his professional wrestling-style attacks on Democrats and the news media regardless of their accuracy, are likely to wind up personally knowing someone who has become gravely ill or died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“The ‘Big Lie’ is not applicable in this case,” Ben-Ghiat said, referring to the maxim that people are more prone to believe a massive falsehood than a smaller one, because they do not want to accept that their leaders are capable of telling consequential lies. “For example, saying the virus was a hoax, because people will personally get sick and communities will be devastated.”
She said she believes Trump can continue to hold his base supporters by gradually increasing his assessment of the pain and loss it will cause ― but she and others doubt that his message will fly with anyone beyond that group.
“At some point, reality intrudes on the ‘Big Lie.’ But at this point we don’t know when,” said Norman Ornstein, a scholar with the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute think tank. “One interesting part of this is that the people who bought into the hoax idea, who are still resisting social distancing, are in the red states and in red areas in other states. They may be the ones who will really catch a wave that overwhelms them, especially in rural areas, with the virus a little bit later on.”
If that happens, Trump could quickly lose the “rally around the president” lift he has seen in recent polling. That boost has helped other presidents ― from Jimmy Carter in the immediate aftermath of the 1979 taking of American hostages in Iran, through Obama in 2012 with the landfall of Superstorm Sandy in the northeast. But it can fade away if the president is seen as failing to rise to the challenge.
“Read these polls with a most careful, cautious eye. They reflect the present in a time of crisis,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart about Trump’s higher numbers, pointing out that Carter wound up losing in his reelection bid in a landslide. “The election is far ahead of us, but the challenges facing Donald Trump are as formidable as those that faced Jimmy Carter in 1980.”
Newhouse, the Republican pollster, agreed that Trump’s improved numbers now do not guarantee anything. “As others have said, we are in the early stages of this fight against coronavirus, and the president’s approval score will continue to reflect his handling of this crisis,” he said. “Unlike the recent impeachment inquiry, this crisis is likely to have a significant impact on the November election.”

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Lawmakers Ask Trump To Suspend Sanctions To Help Iran Fight Coronavirus



The Trump administration should suspend sweeping U.S. sanctions on Iran that are hindering the country’s response to its massive coronavirus outbreak, more than 30 lawmakers said in a letter to top officials on Tuesday.
The sanctions could be costing lives in Iran, which is enduring one of the largest flare-ups of the pandemic in the world. Thus far, more than 2,750 Iranians have succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 40,000 have been infected, according to tracking by Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University. At least 50 Iranian medics have died.
Amind the crisis, U.S. sanctions are reducing Tehran’s access to protective gear for health care workers and equipment like respirators, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned last week. 
The congressional letter, shared with HuffPost ahead of its public release, is addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Notable signatories include Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
“Allowing this crisis to become more dire in Iran threatens significant harm not only to the people of Iran but also to people in the United States and around the world,” the letter says.
Under a “maximum pressure” campaign that President Donald Trump began nearly two years ago, he has placed increasing sanctions on the Islamic Republic after withdrawing the U.S. from a 2015 international agreement that promised Iran access to global markets in exchange for limits on its nuclear development. Such strict measures are not appropriate amid a pandemic, lawmakers argue. 
U.S. sanctions restrict Iran’s ability to earn foreign currency by selling oil abroad and to trade with international firms, limiting its imports of medicine and materials it needs to produce drugs domestically. Further hurting the nation’s health infrastructure, Trump’s Treasury Department has slashed the number of licenses provided to companies exporting specialized medical equipment to Iran. 
The U.S. preserved loopholes for food and medical trade with Iran and acknowledged its need by offering aid, American officials have noted, but Iran’s Supreme Leader rejected the offer. Last month, Trump authorized a new channel for humanitarian exports to the country that allows companies to seek approval for deals from the U.S. and Swiss governments without fear of incurring American penalties. 

Our many disputes with the government of Iran or others should not stand in the way of actions that can materially help innocent people weather a pandemic.”
From a letter signed by 32 members of Congress, urging the suspension of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

But producers of vital supplies are still nervous about fines, as American authorities continue to target violators of the sanctions and impose new ones, and are reluctant to deal with byzantine U.S. regulations that cover broad swathes of the Iranian economy, from banks to parts of the military. Washington’s measures have made interactions with the country “equivalent to walking through a compliance minefield,” Mohsen Zarkash, an attorney at the Price Benowitz law firm, told The Washington Post.
The letter from lawmakers noted that President George W. Bush’s administration “eased sanctions and delivered aid to Iran following a deadly earthquake near Bam in 2003. Our many disputes with the government of Iran or others should not stand in the way of actions that can materially help innocent people weather a pandemic.”
“Sanctions relief that should be considered are those that encompass major sectors of the Iranian economy, including those impacting civilian industries, Iran’s banking sector and exports of oil, and should last for at least as long as health experts believe the crisis will continue,” the lawmakers wrote.
France, Britain, Germany, China and the World Health Organization have given Iran support to tackle the pandemic, and Iranian officials who first downplayed the risks of COVID-19 over concerns for their image and the nation’s economy appear to be ramping up their fight against the virus. Iranian authorities only recently closed non-essential businesses and curtailed travel ― suggesting it will be some time before those measures, proven elsewhere to limit the spread of the pandemic, have an effect. 
A change of course by the U.S. could have a big impact, boosting medical trade through normal channels rather than in the form of intermittent emergency support. The new call from Congress bolsters a campaign against the sanctions by progressive activist groups like Win Without War. It builds on a separate message last week from a group of 11 senators that asked Trump to temporarily lift some sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
For now, the Trump administration is internally divided on its Iran policy. Mnuchin recently won waivers for sanctions on nuclear nonproliferation work, arguing Washington should not appear overly tough on Iran at present. And high-ranking military officials are warning against a plan to battle Iran-aligned forces in Iraq that could destabilize that country and the campaign against vestiges of the so-called Islamic State.
Pompeo and conservative hardliners, however, continue to swipe at Tehran and try to isolate it internationally, claiming their narrative will appeal to Iranians dissatisfied with their repressive government. “The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” Pompeo said earlier this month, using the controversial moniker adopted by some for the coronavirus.
He piled on fresh criticism Tuesday during a press conference ahead of the news of the letter, condemning Iran’s support of groups that have attacked Americans and insisting the administration is not preventing humanitarian support.

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Mitch McConnell: Impeachment Push ‘Diverted’ Government’s Attention From Coronavirus




WASHINGTON ― The Democratic Party’s push to impeach President Donald Trump earlier this year distracted the U.S. government from the threat of the coronavirus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday.
“It came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment,” McConnell said in an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.
China reported its first death from coronavirus on Jan. 11, prior to the start of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. The first confirmed case in the U.S. came later that month on Jan. 21 in Washington State just as the Senate was beginning a contentious debate over rules for the impending impeachment trial. 
While most of Washington, D.C., was focused on the historic trial in late January, senators did receive a briefing regarding the outbreak and the Trump’s administration’s preparedness efforts on Jan. 24, a few days into the proceedings. 
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for Trump to declare a public health emergency due to the virus on Jan. 26 in order to free up funds for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to fight the infectious disease. The Health and Human Services Department did so a few days later.
Trump, meanwhile, restricted travel by most people from China, where the outbreak began, on Jan. 31. But experts say he squandered what little time the move bought to stop the spread of the disease in the U.S.
Trump’s administration has faced an onslaught of criticism in recent days about its slow and muddled response to the coronavirus, from the lack of available testing and badly needed protective gear and ventilators at U.S. hospitals.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that top Trump administration officials resisted calls from senators during a meeting on Feb. 5 ― a day prior to Trump’s acquittal in the Senate ― urging them to request emergency funding and to stockpile supplies to deal with the coming crisis.
“They said they had it covered. Didn’t need any additional funding. What a fatal screw up,” Murphy tweeted on Monday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also tore into Trump on Sunday, saying he failed to take the coronavirus seriously enough from day one.
“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” Pelosi said during an interview on CNN, urging him to use his powers to direct more companies to produce equipment and gear needed to deal with the crisis.
Trump downplayed the threat of the current pandemic for weeks, repeatedly comparing it to the seasonal flu. He downplayed the need for critical hospital supplies like ventilators despite city and state officials begging the federal government for more equipment. And he has baselessly accused overworked hospital workers facing critical supply shortages of hoarding masks.
“Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?” he asked during a press conference at the White House on Sunday. “So, somebody should probably look into that, because I just don’t see, from a practical standpoint, how that’s possible to go from that to that.”

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How Air Pollution Makes The Coronavirus So Much More Dangerous




As the SARS virus tore through China in 2003, Zuo-Feng Zhang wondered whether the country’s notoriously polluted air might be amplifying its dangers. The answer he and his scientific colleagues found feels frighteningly relevant now, not just for China, but all across a world where SARS’ coronavirus cousin is bearing down on billions of people who already live with unhealthy air.
Sifting through data from five different regions, Zhang’s team concluded that SARS patients living in the most polluted places were twice as likely to die from the disease as those in the cleanest areas.
“We found a very strong correlation between air pollution and deaths” from the virus, said Zhang, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. The effect held not just for pollution levels at the time of the outbreak, but for levels over the previous two years as well, indicating prior exposure had likely compromised people’s ability to fight off the illness.
It was a small study, Zhang cautioned in a phone interview, since SARS took far fewer lives than the current pandemic. But the findings, which, given the diseases’ similarities, almost certainly apply to COVID-19 too, are consistent with everything scientists already know about air pollution’s mostly invisible toll on health.
“It stifles the immune response to infections, it actually directly can damage immune cells,” said Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It also tends to be inflammatory in the lung, and that inflammation can interfere with mechanisms that clear pathogens (including viruses) from our respiratory tracts.”

AP Photo/Sam McNeil

Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant that produces carbon black, an ingredient in steel manufacturing, in Hejin in central China’s Shanxi Province. 

This is not just a problem for China’s cities. Even in cities with much cleaner air ― from Los Angeles and New York to London and Milan ― pollution increases rates of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, the severe lung syndrome COPD and many other illnesses. That means more people with preexisting conditions that dramatically elevate their risk of complications, and death, if they contract the coronavirus.
In badly polluted countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia ― where air pollution was exacting a heavy toll long before the pandemic hit ― it will exacerbate COVID-19’s impact even more than in nations with better air, said Zhang. Iran, where the pace of virus deaths forced officials to prepare mass graves for victims, also has a severe air quality problem.

Scientists believe viruses may bond with pollution particles, allowing them to remain airborne for longer.

“People who are living in places with more air pollution may be more likely to get infected with this in the first place, and if they do get infected they’re more likely to die,” Bernstein said. “There will be research looking at COVID and air quality to better understand the relationship, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t show that air pollution was a problem.”
Because disparities in pollution levels within countries tend to track economic and racial divides, the additional coronavirus risk will as well, Bernstein said. In the United States and beyond, “people who are poor, people of color, tend to be more exposed.” 
It is not only pollution’s impact on the body that makes it a factor in heightening the pandemic’s dangers. Scientists believe viruses may bond with pollution particles, allowing them to remain airborne for longer and potentially helping them make their way into the lungs.
Dirty air added significantly to the toll of the devastating 1918 flu pandemic, increasing death rates by 10% in badly polluted American cities as compared to less polluted ones, a 2018 study found.

Ted Soqui via Getty Images

Downtown Los Angeles with a layer of smog. Levels of pollution in the city have dropped, but experts say it’s only temporary.

Yet-to-be-published research by the same team has found pollution also worsened flu pandemics in 1957-58 and 1968-69, said Karen Clay, an economics and public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the studies’ authors.
Those outbreaks happened before the passage of the 1970 Clean Air Act, when U.S. pollution levels were far higher than they are today. So the results offer a sharper warning for nations such as India and China, Clay said.
While news coverage of COVID-19’s environmental impact has focused on the sharp drops in pollution levels caused by widespread shutdowns, that “supposed silver lining” is only temporary and should not obscure the bigger picture of the serious harm dirty air does to health, Bernstein said.
“It’s also true that at the center of ferocious hurricanes the wind is still, and that’s what we’re seeing now. We’re seeing a momentary reprieve from the ravages of air pollution,” he said.

JOSEPH EID via Getty Images

Lebanon’s capital Beirut with a clear skyline, on March 21, 2020, as people stay home due to restrictions to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Beirut is known for its heavy air pollution caused by frequent traffic jams and other factors. 

Still, that reprieve is undoubtedly reducing deaths from heart attacks, strokes and the other pollution-related illnesses, and may also offer some benefit to COVID-19 patients, said Michael Brauer, a respiratory and environmental health professor at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver.
But while lockdowns have reduced traffic and manufacturing, other sources are continuing to pollute, from coal-fired power plants to the wood and other smoky fuels many in poor nations rely on to cook, and which those in wealthier countries burn for cozy ambiance.
“When I’ve gone for walks around my neighborhood, I smell a lot of wood smoke. People are hanging out at home” and lighting up their fireplaces, Brauer said. “That’s something that could potentially make somebody’s infection worse.”
Wood smoke is thick with particles and toxins that are strongly linked to increased rates of sickness and death. British Columbia’s environment ministry has temporarily restricted burning, saying smoke’s impact could lead to more, and more severe, COVID-19 cases and add to the burden on the province’s health care system.
Brauer said that like the social distancing measures being widely implemented, cleaner air would help “flatten the curve” of the pandemic, reducing the number of patients requiring hospitalization at any one time.
The Trump administration’s decision to relax pollution rules for power plants, factories and other facilities during the outbreak will have the opposite effect, he warned, compounding risks at a moment of viral peril.
Tougher regulation that brings cleaner air would not only improve health generally, but also function as a form of pandemic readiness by making people more resilient when future outbreaks hit, said Zoltán Massay-Kosubek, policy manager at the European Public Health Alliance, an advocacy group.
“We really do not want to be vulnerable and unprepared for the next epidemic,” he said. “The coronavirus situation has just made the invisible visible, and given an additional argument to act on air pollution.”
Beth Gardiner is the author of ”Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution.”
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Marco Rubio Ripped For ‘Outrageous’ Coronavirus Claim About Journalists’ Glee




ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl joined the growing chorus of criticism of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who suggested some journalists “can’t contain their glee and delight” in reporting the U.S. now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than China.
Rubio made the claim, without offering evidence, on Twitter Sunday:
Some in our media can’t contain their glee & delight in reporting that the U.S. has more #CoronaVirus cases than #ChinaBeyond being grotesque,its bad journalismWe have NO IDEA how many cases China really has but without any doubt its significantly more than why they admit to— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 29, 2020

Karl initially fired back with this post:
Who are you talking about, Senator Rubio? Who feels “glee & delight” when more people are sick? Who? https://t.co/aIVdYQhXaW— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) March 29, 2020

Other members of the media were similarly angered:
We have colleagues who have died. https://t.co/h36kWayxpQ— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) March 29, 2020

Journalists living in NYC, I can tell you, are not gleeful. We hear sirens more all the time. We know our hospitals are overrun and people are dying every day. We’re worrying about the health of our friends and families while working hard to cover this crisis. https://t.co/JgZQdTAiCT— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) March 29, 2020

.@marcorubio since you address “us” the media, I’ll respond by saying back off. We are all doing our best to stop the spread and to keep our families safe. Nothing about this gives us “glee”. You are a sick puppy if you really believe that. Do your job. https://t.co/I3cXx88ODv— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) March 29, 2020

CBS News employees literally just found out today that one of our colleagues had died from the virus. Journalists are among the sick and dying, just like thousands of other Americans. https://t.co/E4GwZu0Jrn— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) March 29, 2020

Karl, who Donald Trump on Friday told not to “be a cutie pie” after the journalist quizzed the president during his daily press briefing on the availability of ventilators, doubled down on Monday’s broadcast of “The View” and called on Rubio to apologize.
“It is outrageous. It is wrong. It is hurtful,” said Karl, whose new book “Front Row at the Trump Show” is released this week. “I called out Senator Rubio, and I’ll do it again now to say, who are you talking about, senator?”
“That tweet hit just after my friends, our friends at CBS News learned that one of their colleagues, one of their co-workers, died from coronavirus. A colleague at NBC died of coronavirus,” he noted, referring to CBS News producer Maria Mercader and NBC audio technician Larry Edgeworth, who both died after suffering complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“We have two members of the White House press corps who are now suspected to have coronavirus. Who does Marco Rubio think is taking joy and glee at more people being sick?” asked Karl. “That’s an outrageous statement, it’s a hurtful statement.”
Check out the segment here:
Jon Karl calls for Sen. Marco Rubio to apologize for claiming some in the media “can’t contain their glee” over the rising number of coronavirus cases in the United States: “That’s an outrageous statement, it’s a hurtful statement.” https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/Lou6GLq8N4— The View (@TheView) March 31, 2020

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Florida Megachurch Pastor Arrested After Holding Crowded Service In Defiance Of Rules




Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of the River megachurch in Tampa, Florida, was arrested Monday for holding a crowded service in defiance of a local order that limits gatherings in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister slammed Howard-Browne at a news conference on Monday, saying his “reckless disregard for human life” not only put his congregants at risk of COVID-19 but also those who come into contact with them in the coming days.
State Attorney Andrew Warren offered up a Bible passage that Howard-Browne seemed to have ignored.
“I’d remind the good pastor of Mark 12:31, which said there’s no more important commandment than to love thy neighbor as thyself,” he said. “Loving your neighbors is protecting them, not jeopardizing their health by exposing them to this deadly virus.”
Howard-Browne had bragged that his church had special equipment to kill viruses.
“If somebody walks in the door, it’s like it kills everything on them. If they sneeze, it shoots it down at like 100 mph, it’ll neutralize it in split-seconds,” he said last week in a video posted online by Right Wing Watch. “So we have the most sterile building in, I don’t know, all of America.”
There is no known or approved equipment that can make a large gathering safe from coronavirus. 
Jail records from the Hernando County Detention Center show Howard-Browne was charged with unlawful assembly as well as health and safety violations during a public health emergency. 
He was released on a $500 bond.
Howard-Browne has spread conspiracy theories about coronavirus, calling it a “phantom plague” created by China and pushed by “communists” in the media, according to clips put online by Right Wing Watch. 
He is also a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump and once took part in an Oval Office meeting of evangelical leaders. 
He complained in a Facebook video that he was “arrested for preaching the Gospel.” 
Chronister on Monday said officials met with Howard-Browne to explain the county’s “safer at home” order and warn against holding the service. 
“Shame on this pastor, their legal staff, and the leaders of this church for forcing us to do our job,” he said. “That’s not what we wanted to do during a declared state of emergency.” 

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Jair Bolsonaro’s Macho Coronavirus Crusade Is Going To Get A Lot Of People Killed




Less than a week after he had been tested for the novel coronavirus following a trip to the United States, during which 22 of his fellow travelers came down with the illness, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared at a news conference wearing a surgical mask.
So did the rest of his Cabinet, who appeared dutifully alongside the president who had recently referred to COVID-19 as a “tiny flu” and decried the media’s coverage of it as little more than “hysteria.”
Midway through the charade, Bolsonaro removed the mask to whisper something into the ear of a minister next to him. As he attempted to put it back on, he failed to fasten it behind his left ear and sent it slingshotting back across his face. A second attempt left it strapped imperfectly across his eyes. Eventually the mask made it back to where it belonged and never should have left.
The video of the bumbling president went viral in Brazil: It seemed like a perfect metaphor for his unrivaled fumbling of this crisis, which has only gotten worse in the days since for both Brazil and Bolsonaro, who has faced nightly protests from angry Brazilians and rebukes even from his erstwhile allies.  
When we begin to reassemble the pieces of society this virus will leave wrecked, the image will live on as a perfect symbol of how all of us — Brazilian and American, Indian and British, Russian and Chinese, citizens of the world over — arrived at this moment. This, we will tell our children as we point to the Brazilian president fumbling with his mask, is how we got here.
Bolsonaro is many things, including an ardent racist, sexist and homophobe. But there is one thing he is clearly not: smart enough to lead a country responsibly, especially in the midst of a global health crisis. Over the last two weeks, he has shown the world that he lacks the intelligence, intellectual curiosity or humility necessary to cobble together a proper response to the coronavirus outbreak. To Bolsonaro, whose posts been have removed from social media sites for spreading misinformation, this is just another conspiracy-driven culture war in which the goal is to troll his opponents to literal death. 

This version of machismo-fueled madness will cause the deaths of thousands, and maybe millions, of Brazilians who did not need to die and should not be dead. Jair Bolsonaro, more than anyone else, will be responsible.

Other nationalistic leaders, including President Donald Trump in the United States, Narendra Modi in India, Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir Putin in Russia and Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom, have proved similarly conspiratorial and incapable of meeting this moment. But none is further out of his depth than Bolsonaro. 
Like so many men, and so many of the men currently leading the world’s major countries, Bolsonaro prefers to compensate for his lack of brainpower with his perceived reserve of brawn. This empty machismo explains so much about Bolsonaro, from his hatred of LGBTQ people to his iron-fisted view of criminal justice and his belief that women who question men like him are an inferior version of our species. 
It has informed his response to the outbreak, too. Last week, Bolsonaro dismissed concerns over COVID-19 by saying that it couldn’t affect him because of his “history as an athlete,” as if he could simply kick the shit out of a silent and invisible killer because he is man enough to do so. 
The virus, of course, doesn’t care what genitalia or gender God or anyone else assigned one at birth, much less whether one is particularly adept at sports, and so this version of machismo-fueled madness will have tremendous consequences. It will cause the deaths of thousands, and maybe millions, of Brazilians who did not need to die and should not be dead. Jair Bolsonaro, more than anyone else, will be responsible. 
But it won’t stop there. As Bolsonaro should know after his virus-infused meeting with Trump in Florida, which included a Brazilian press aide who later tested positive for coronavirus, this pandemic knows no borders. The ramifications of the leader of a country of 200 million people choosing to show no regard for the well-being of his nation will spill over to other places. That other macho leaders in even larger and more interconnected nations have joined him in his quest to pretend the coronavirus is either a conspiracy or an opportunity will help push the global death toll millions of people higher than it should be. People will die because so many of our world’s most powerful leaders didn’t care that they did.
There are a variety of reasons Bolsonaro and his fellow travelers came to power. But their conscious wielding of macho politics in order to appeal to the deep anger of entitled men is a common thread. 
White men in America saw in Trump an avatar of their anger that a Black president and a woman presidential candidate represented a threat to their previously unquestioned status atop the social, economic and political hierarchy of the nation. They were mad that they had lost something, simply because others gained a small fraction of the rights, humanity and benefits of basic citizenship they’d for so long been denied. 
White male machismo and all the insecurity it entails have been constant features of Trump’s governing approach, from his bullying of opponents to his policies targeting women, people of color and other marginalized groups. 
Putin and Xi have appealed to machismo and sexism to strengthen their grips on power in their countries. Modi has wielded macho politics throughout his tenure, which has included religious crackdowns on ethnic minority Muslims. Johnson, who has tested positive for coronavirus, infused his Brexit campaign, and later his ascent to prime minister, with gross displays of machismo subtle and obvious. 
Bolsonaro supporters saw in him a rebuke of the presidents and movements that had delivered for the poor and the marginalized — the Black Brazilian and the indigenous, Brazilian women, LGBTQ Brazilians, and the poor. To them, he represented the taking back of society from those to whom it had never belonged.

Andre Borges/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro awkwardly puts on a mask during a March 18 press conference.

For no one was this more true than men, of the sort who stood atop podiums and ripped up signs dedicated to an assassinated Black, queer, feminist politician, or mimicked Bolsonaro’s signature two-finger gun salute. Those men have cheered the loudest as Bolsonaro has cracked down on LGBTQ people, unleashed police to murder even more poor Black people than they already had been, implemented genocidal policies against the indigenous and attacked women. Like Trump supporters, they too are fond of art that makes Bolsonaro look more like the superhero, or at least the skilled athlete, he claims to be.
The people to whom this machismo particularly appealed, in reality, had little to fear relative to their more marginalized fellow citizens. Now that there is something to fear, their dear leaders have chosen to paint it as nothing more than a hoax, or to view it first and foremost as a political threat. They have covered it up, ignored it until they couldn’t or refused to show up at all. But for all their mistakes, none of them ― not even Trump ― has stubbornly and ignorantly clung to the idea that they can simply out-tough this virus the way Bolsonaro has. 
There were plenty of warnings that this global embrace of blundering macho nationalism would end in disaster, and there have been plenty of signs from Brazil that Bolsonaro has indeed been worse and more extreme than most of the leaders from whom he draws inspiration. The alarmists had already been proved right — not just in Brazil, but also in the U.S., India and elsewhere — long before leaders like Bolsonaro turned a deadly virus into another tool to attack those they despise most. 
But not enough people listened, or worse, too many people agreed. So for now, we are left only to hope that this won’t provide the sort of sudden spark Bolsonaro needed to turn the world’s fourth-largest democracy back toward the dark ages of dictatorship, that this band of fools doesn’t morph a pandemic into an even bigger crisis for which we’re ill-prepared or unwilling to combat, that the coronavirus spares at least a little mercy on a world dominated by leaders who have none to offer.
For now, we can hope only that one day, when we point at that picture of the bumbling Brazilian president, we’ll remember it as the moment a mask still dangling sloppily from one ear was ripped off completely, to expose how utterly small Bolsonaro and his ilk truly were. The alternative may be even scarier than the virus.

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Americans Are Split On How U.S. Coronavirus Response Compares To That In Other Nations




Americans are split on how the U.S. is handling the coronavirus outbreak compared with other countries, a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last week finds.
Thirty-one percent say the U.S. is doing better than most other countries, 29% that it’s doing about the same and 28% that it’s doing worse. An additional 12% aren’t sure.

Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost

Americans are split on how the U.S.’ handling of the pandemic compares to other countries’ efforts, a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last week finds.

Nearly half say the U.S. has been more successful than Italy, which has been ravaged by the virus. Just 20% think the U.S. has done better than South Korea, which implemented an early program of widespread testing. 
NEW: Monday 30 March update of coronavirus mortality trajectories• US deaths doubling every 3 days, as Fauci predicts over 100k US deaths. How different could things have been if US had locked down like China?• UK still tracking ItalyLive version: https://t.co/VcSZISFxzF pic.twitter.com/13ry61K7FI— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) March 30, 2020

Opinions on how the U.S. response compares with others’ is sharply polarized, with 62% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats saying the country has done better than most other nations.
Americans are about evenly split on how the U.S. should envision its role internationally, the poll finds, with 42% saying it’s best for the future of the country to be active in world affairs and 41% that the U.S. should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems at home. Those numbers are within the range of other polling taken in the past three years and suggest that the country’s appetite for isolationism remains lower than it was in 2016.

Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost

Americans are closely divided on how the U.S. should envision its role internationally.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 23-25 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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Watch How Your Local ICU Would Be Overwhelmed As The Coronavirus Infection Rate Rises




As infection rates for the novel coronavirus rise, hospitals all over the United States are scrambling for vital equipment like ventilators and protective gear. But the health care system faces another urgent, less understood shortage: available ICU beds. 
Many patients with COVID-19 can be treated in standard hospital settings. But the most severe cases require intensive care with specialized equipment, such as ventilators, and qualified staff to administer treatment. Currently, there are only 117,000 ICU beds in the country, meaning that critical care units could soon become a bottleneck for America’s sick and dying.
Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch estimates that the coronavirus could infect between 20% and 60% of the adult population globally. A Newsy analysis of hospital and population data found that even infection rates at the lower end of Lipsitch’s projections would place a severe strain on hospital systems. At the higher end, nearly every American would be living in a region without enough ICU beds to handle the surge of patients in need of critical care. 
“Many hospitals in the U.S. have, on an annual basis, dealt with these types of surge conditions,” said David Wallace, a professor of critical care and emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “But I don’t think that any of them have really been prepared for the level of the intensity of what this represents today.”
Wallace and his colleagues divided the country into 326 regions based on where people receive emergency medical care. Using those regions, and publicly available data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Newsy was able to estimate the 12-month infection rate that a region’s ICU could handle before becoming overwhelmed.

Newsy

The number of new cases will increase at different speeds in different places. But if every hospital referral region hits a 20% infection rate, then 32.6 million Americans, or 10% of the population, would live in an area where critical care capacity is overwhelmed. If the infection rate rises to 40% over 12 months ― the Harvard team described this as the “moderate” scenario to The New York Times — 80% of the population would see their regions’ ICUs stretched past their limits. At a 60% infection rate, that rises to 98% of all Americans with overwhelmed ICUs.
Federal and state governments are installing thousands of hospital beds around the country, including deploying Navy hospital ships. However, this additional capacity is often designed for non-COVID-19 patients or those requiring lower levels of care. Expanding ICU capabilities could prove considerably more difficult. 
“Changing regular beds into ICU beds isn’t a simple proposition,” said Wallace, explaining that intensive care units can have different plumbing, heating, cooling and other infrastructure needs than standard hospital units. More ICU beds also means manufacturing more ventilators ― a costly and time-consuming process. Perhaps the biggest hurdle would be finding enough trained staff to handle an increase in ICU beds. For instance, running a ventilator around the clock for 24 hours requires three respiratory therapists, a specialist job. “The machines and the technology is great,” he said, “but it still requires people.”
This is why experts stress the need to keep infection rates as low as possible, via interventions such as social distancing and shutdowns. In recent days, President Donald Trump has spoken of returning people’s lives, and the economy, back to normal in a matter of weeks. It’s a move that Wallace believes could be devastating.
“The worst thing would be to relax these restrictions at this time,” he said. “The impact on the health care system would be overwhelming.”
And those resources aren’t evenly distributed. More than 9 out of 10 ICU beds are in metropolitan areas, according to a report from the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Only 1% are in rural areas.

Newsy

Very rural areas are the most likely to become overwhelmed — these regions would run out of ICU beds with an infection rate of 26%. Wyoming, for instance, is one of the places where medical capacity could be stretched beyond its limits. 
“Our consultant hospitals are 100 [or] 200 miles away,” said Dr. Aubrey Tabb, a family medicine physician in Buffalo, Wyoming. Normally, he explained, they try to move their ventilator patients to larger, more specialized facilities within 24 hours. But if those regional hospitals are full as well then rural doctors would be forced to try to manage patients as best they could on their own. 
“We hope we never see that day,” he said. “But it’s predictable that that day could be coming.”
This story was published in partnership with Newsy.
Methodology
Newsy’s analysis used data from the 2017 Healthcare Cost Report Information System (HCRIS) reports compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to determine the total number of ICU beds reported by hospitals across the nation. Beds were considered ICU if they were in the following units: intensive care, coronary care, burn intensive care, surgical intensive care or other special care. Hospitals were assigned to local areas based on the Pittsburgh Atlas hospital referral regions developed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. County populations were considered rural if they had a CDC National Center for Health Statistics classification of four or higher. The estimates assume that patients will require a bed for 12 days. Our calculations used hospitalization and ICU rates estimated by Harvard researchers based on infections observed in China.  

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Coronavirus Live Updates: New York’s Death Toll Surpasses 1,000



The virus has killed more than 34,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.
Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)
U.S. Naval Ships Dock In LA, NYC To Treat Non-Coronavirus Patients — 3/30/20, 10:15 a.m. ET
The USNS Comfort, equipped with 1,000 hospital beds and 12 operating rooms, arrived in New York City on Monday to treat non-coronavirus patients in need of urgent care, helping to ease the burden on local hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients.

JUST IN: The USNS Comfort arrives in New York City. Thank you to the @USNavy for aiding in our fight against COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/TTKw9gvt3g— City of New York (@nycgov) March 30, 2020

Three days earlier, the USNS Mercy docked in Los Angeles to provide relief for hospitals on the West Coast. The ship is also equipped with 1,000 hospital beds and will treat non-coronavirus patients. The Navy announced Monday that the floating hospital was officially “open for business.”

#USNSMercy is open for business!“…a true testament of the teamwork between Mercy, the Navy, the State of California, the county of Los Angeles, and the City and Port of L.A.” – Capt. John Rotruck, CO, Military Treatment Facilityhttps://t.co/H9bYdXOkhM pic.twitter.com/4VUPw77zjd— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) March 30, 2020

— Hayley Miller
Trump Says New York Has ‘More Than Enough Supplies’ Following Cuomo’s Ventilators Request ― 3/30/20, 10 a.m. ET
President Donald Trump said he believes New York, the state with the largest number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 by far, should be “fine” and has “more than enough supplies” to handle the outbreak. His statement came just days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said his state needed 30,000 ventilators based on projections.
“New York is really in trouble, but I think it’s going to end up being fine,” Trump said during a nearly hour-long phone interview with “Fox & Friends.” “We’re giving them a lot of things that they never thought they’d be getting.”
The president complained that the federal government shipped 4,000 ventilators to New York but the state hasn’t used them. Cuomo has said repeatedly that New York is creating a stockpile of ventilators based on what could be needed during the potential apex of the outbreak expected to occur in the next few weeks.
“We’re planning for that worst-case scenario, which the models predict,” Cuomo said during a news conference Saturday.
― Hayley Miller
Netanyahu To Self-Quarantine After Aide Tests Positive — 3/30/20 8:33 a.m. ET
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will quarantine himself after an aide tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Monday.
The 70-year-old took a test for the coronavirus and plans to remain isolated until either the results come back negative or he is cleared by medical doctors. Advisers that he had been in contact with are also voluntarily quarantining themselves, his office said.
— Nina Golgowski
2020 Olympics Will Now Be Held An Entire Year Later — 3/30/20, 8:10 a.m. ET
The 2020 Olympic Games are now set to take place an entire year later, with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 23, 2021, and the closing ceremony on August 8, organizers in Tokyo announced.
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the games “to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.” Read more here. 
— Marina Fang
Spain Emergency Chief Tests Positive As Infection Rate Slows — 3/30/20, 6:55 a.m. ET

HuffPost US

HPES Mar 30

The daily infection rate in Spain has slowed since the introduction of lockdown measures, with new cases now rising at roughly 12% a day, compared with around 20% before March 25.
The country’s total number of coronavirus cases rose today to 85,195 from 78,797 on Sunday, becoming the third country to surpass China after the U.S. and Italy, according to the latest data.
HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that the death toll rose by 812 in the past 24 hours to 7,340, 26 fewer than recorded the day before.
It was also revealed today that Fernando Simon, the health emergency official who leads Spain’s response to COVID-19, has tested positive for the virus.

Amazon Workers In New York Plan Walkout Over Coronavirus Fears — 3/30/20, 5:40 a.m.
Up to 200 Amazon employees at the e-commerce giant’s Staten Island, New York, warehouse are planning to walk off the job Monday after at least one worker at the facility tested positive for COVID-19.
Organizers said workers would remain on strike until the company agrees to shutter the warehouse — where some 2,500 full-time employees work — and sanitize it.
“People are scared … We’re unsafe. There are thousands of employees at risk,” Chris Smalls, a manager assistant who is leading the walkout, told the New York Post.
Workers in at least 13 of Amazon’s U.S. warehouses have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-March.

UK Cabin Crew To Staff New Coronavirus Hospitals — 3/30/20, 5:30 a.m. ET

HuffPost US

HPUK March 30

Cabin crew in the U.K. will help staff the new hospitals built to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Staff at Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have been invited to volunteer at the new 4,000-bed clinic being built at the Excel center in east London, and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester in England.
The news came as EasyJet announced it was grounding its entire fleet due to “unprecedented travel restrictions” caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, with bosses saying “there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.”

New York State’s Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 1,000 — 3/29/20, 10:25 p.m. ET
New York state’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 1,000 on Sunday, less than a month after the state’s first confirmed infection.
New York City reported Sunday evening that its death toll had risen to 776. The state’s total coronavirus fatalities aren’t expected to be officially released until Monday, but the at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning makes New York’s total at least 1,026.
The first known case in New York state was confirmed March 1 in a health care worker who had recently returned from Iran. By March 20 ― when Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order for the state ― 35 New Yorkers had been killed by COVID-19. Nine days later, that number has exceeded 1,000.
Coronavirus has ripped through New York at lightning speed, making it the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that the city had just one week’s worth of medical supplies to care for infected residents, and that area hospitals are in desperate need for ventilators.

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

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