The Hill's Coronavirus Report: U.S. reaches grim milestone of 50,000 deaths; UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba says COVID-19 crisis creates opportunity with Iran

The Hill's Coronavirus Report: U.S. reaches grim milestone of 50,000 deaths; UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba says COVID-19 crisis creates opportunity with Iran




> U.S. hits grim milestone of 50,000 coronavirus deaths 

> Trump walks back head-scratching comments, says he was being ‘sarcastic’ 

> FDA issues warning against hydroxychloroquine 

> Republicans sharply divided over timeline for reopening 

> Cuomo says World Health Organization was too little, too late

> Biden predicts Trump will try to push November election





The new normal. If a picture of the Speaker of the House wearing a face covering and nitrile gloves isn’t a sobering reminder of the seriousness of this pandemic, I am not sure what is. House members on Thursday were faced head-on with the reality every American is facing: how to safely conduct business in the age of the coronavirus. Members took to the House floor to debate the $484 billion relief package they overwhelmingly passed, adhering to physical distancing guidelines and most donning masks, gloves or both. As to be expected, social media erupted with images of members wearing masks incorrectly — and Pelosi lowering her mask to wipe her nose before touching a communal podium is rightfully garnering criticism. Whatever one makes of it, it is clear that even the nation’s most powerful are struggling to adapt to the new normal. Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Gaetz, Greene tout push to oust Cheney: 'Maybe we're the leaders' Rural community leaders call on Gaetz, Greene to 'stop dividing America' ahead of US tour MORE (R-Fla.) received widespread criticism for donning a gas mask on the House floor in March and, as we see daily, White House officials are not sporting masks. At the end of another week in isolation — that seems like both a day and a month at the same time — I wonder: If the most powerful institution in the world is stumbling through our new normal, what does that mean for the rest of us?


US hits grim milestone: 50,000 coronavirus deaths. More than 50,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19, a grim milestone in a global pandemic that shows few signs of slowing even as pressure mounts to reopen parts of the U.S. economy. (The Hill


Biden predicts Trump will try to delay November election. Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday at an online fundraiser predicted that President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE would try to push back November's general election because the president thinks that is the "only way he can possibly win." (The Hill)


UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba says COVID-19 crisis, like climate change, requires global collaboration; says pandemic creates opportunities with countries like Iran




Watch the full interview here.


Welcome to The Hill's Coronavirus Report. It's Friday, April 23.


Editor’s Note.


50,000 people in America have now died from a vicious virus that didn’t exist six months ago. Just about about eight weeks ago, we all remember the president stating we have 15 cases in America. He said there was one really sick person, but that it looked like this was all pretty well controlled and that the cases may go to “zero.” We heard then and even for days and weeks after, “the risk to the average American of contracting coronavirus remains low.”


50,000 Americans gone who would not otherwise have died “now” except for this virus. My family is originally from Bartlesville, Okla., just north of Tulsa — population 36,000. Numbers need context to understand scale. In a country of 330 million, that number of dead seems small, but these were people from towns like Bartlesville, and Harlem, the Back Bay in Boston, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Sioux Falls, so many places. The number is big, and the carnage so painful.


The good news is that the world’s smartest scientists and researchers are racing fast to develop vaccines and antivirals. I spoke to one of them yesterday, Mikael Dolsten who is chief scientific officer at Pfizer. What they eventually produce to kill or curb COVID-19 will make the political incompetence we have seen out of Washington seem small, even though we will have a hard time forgetting that the president of the United States wondered out loud if a promising approach might be injecting people with disinfectants. People who adore President Trump and who are suffering from COVID-19 in their homes may hear him, may share his vibe of deploring expertise and science, and ingest or inject themselves with Lysol. Trump on Friday said he was being sarcastic, but this isn’t a joke.


A small nation of 10 million, the United Arab Emirates, has already tested 10 percent of its population and has committed to getting that number up to 20 percent in a short time period. The country manufactures its own tests domestically and is experimenting with innovations like smart helmets that would allow police to read the temperatures of people they encounter but do so remotely. Etihad Airways is testing every passenger before they board a plane. I interviewed the popular and high-profile UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba on how the UAE has managed the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit that country before the U.S. And I asked him whether it shifted his diplomatic lens in his tough neighborhood. His response was hopeful in that he said that COVID-19 did create an opportunity with Iran — but it was unclear whether Iran’s leaders see that opportunity today. The interview is interesting — and implicitly in Al Otaiba’s comments is the belief that narcissistic nationalism is not going to help us kill this virus, or the next pandemic, or solve climate change. To deal with the big challenges now and tomorrow we're going to need real transnational, global collaborations. Perhaps this is obvious, but it’s also important to say it out loud.


Steve Clemons



Your Coronavirus Report team includes Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of The Hill, and researcher Andrew Wargofchik. Follow us on Twitter at @SCClemons and @a_wargofchik. CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Hill’s Coronavirus Special Report. To stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus, visit TheHill.com and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter for the latest developments from the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings.





On April 29, our new 3D journalism platform The Hill Virtually Live will host an online event — Safeguarding Seniors: Health care in a health crisis. House Energy and Commerce Committee members Reps. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiHillicon Valley: US, UK authorities say Russian hackers exploited Microsoft vulnerabilities | Lawmakers push for more cyber funds in annual appropriations | Google child care workers ask for transportation stipend Lawmakers push for increased cybersecurity funds in annual appropriations Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J MORE (D-Calif.) and Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonSix ways to visualize a divided America Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel jumps into Senate race READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Ohio) will be joining us to talk about supporting seniors, tackling disparities and the role of innovation in the age of COVID-19. They will be followed by a panel conversation featuring Dr. Patrice Harris of the American Medical Association, AARP’s Nancy LeaMond, Karen Freeman-Wilson of the Chicago Urban League and Alliance for Aging Research’s Sue Peschin

REGISTER HERE and follow @TheHillEvents for additional program updates. Join the conversation using #TheHillVirtuallyLive.



There are 2,761,121 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world and 193,671 people have died. The U.S. — with 880,112 cases — reached another grim milestone this morning and is now reporting more than 50,000 deaths from the virus. Spain and Italy are still the European epicenters with 219,764 and 192,994 cases respectively. Turkey’s cases are skyrocketing and are now at 104,912. 68,622 cases in Russia. 51,073 in Brazil. 11,183 confirmed cases in Ecuador, where global attention is now turning amid fears the outbreak is much worse than originally reported. 11,155 cases in Pakistan. 9,281 cases in the United Arab Emirates. 


150,473 cases in New York City and 271,590 in New York state. 100,025 cases in New Jersey. 46,023 in Massachusetts. 39,637 in California. 38,379 in Pennsylvania. 23,100 in Connecticut. 12,753 in Washington. 11,278 in Colorado. 6,635 in Missouri. 5,772 in Arizona. 


4,692,797 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the U.S. Nearly 81,000 people in America have reported full recoveries from COVID-19.


Republicans sharply divided over timeline for reopening economy. Support is building among Republicans for reopening the economy sooner rather than later, but not all GOP lawmakers are on the same page. (The Hill)


Try a little Lysol. Just an Idea. [Not!] Trump suggests using light, heat as coronavirus treatment. President Trump on Thursday suggested medical experts should study exposing the human body to heat, light and disinfectants as a treatment for the coronavirus during Thursday's White House briefing. Trump walked back his remarks on Friday, telling reporters that he was being sarcastic. (The Hill)


Trump breaks with Fauci. President Trump said Thursday he disagreed with Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' Fauci: 'No doubt' US has undercounted COVID-19 deaths Fauci: 'Unlikely' US will see COVID-19 surge in fall, winter MORE’s statement that the U.S. does not yet have the testing capacity that it needs to effectively contain the spread of the novel coronavirus as stay-at-home restrictions are relaxed. “No, I don’t agree with him on that.” (The Hill)


FDA issues warning against hydroxychloroquine. The Food and Drug Administration warned patients against taking two anti-malaria medications that have been talked up by President Trump for COVID-19, unless carefully monitored in a hospital or as part of a clinical trial. (Bloomberg)


Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D-N.Y.) 

@SenSchumer With President Trump’s press conference last night, it looks like we have a quack medicine salesman on TV. Injecting disinfectant? No. He must focus on testing, testing, testing.


Rep.  Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee MORE (R-Ala.) 

@RepMoBrooks Yesterday, despite #COVID19 risks, #Congressmen voted in #Capitol on #Coronavirus bills. In less than 48 hours, I drove 1,400 miles to/from #Washington, another risk. Shouldn’t governors end shutdown orders so all Americans have the same freedom Congress does to do their jobs?


Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalNurses union lobbies Congress on health care bills during National Nurses Week White House raises refugee cap to 62,500 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' MORE (D-Wash.) 

@RepJayapal After my tele-meeting w/panel of 5 fab small biz owners and > 75 others last night, I’m more convinced than ever that PPP program (tho based on good ideas) is structurally flawed, unable to deliver necessary relief. We need bold #PaycheckGuaranteeAct.


Most Floridians don’t want their state to reopen yet, despite push from governor. More than two-thirds of Floridians don’t want to loosen social distancing rules come April 30 despite Republican Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisACLU sues Florida over law targeting ballot initiatives Montana governor approves restrictions on transgender athletes in schools Advocates sound alarm as restrictive voting laws pile up MORE’s push to do so, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found. Seventy-two percent of respondents said that they are opposed to reopening the state once the governor’s stay-at-home order expires at the end of the month. (The Hill


New Mexico governor extends stay-at-home order: “We’re not ready to ease up.” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamDC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Hispanic Caucus energized by first Biden meeting MORE (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order Wednesday to until “at least” May 15. Grisham posted on Twitter that New Mexico’s public health emergency orders will continue until mid-May, saying, “We’re not ready to ease up.” (The Hill


Navajo Nation joins lawsuit against US for “fair share” of coronavirus funding. The Navajo Nation is joining 10 other tribes in a lawsuit against the Treasury secretary in an effort to secure their “fair share” of federal COVID-19 funding, the tribe announced in a statement this week. (The Hill


Ecuador’s death toll among the worst in the world. A New York Times analysis finds the death toll in Ecuador during the outbreak was 15 times higher than the official number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the government. The figures suggest that the South American country is suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the world — and highlight the damage the virus can do in developing countries. (New York Times)  

President Trump tweeted Friday that he spoke with the president of Ecuador and pledged to send much needed ventilators to the country:







UAE ramps up coronavirus testing rate to 1 in 10 people. The United Arab Emirates has increased the coronavirus testing rate to about 1 in 10 people. The Gulf country, which has opened government drive-thru test centers across the country, is focused on making testing widely available to all those who need it, a government spokesperson said. (Bloomberg)


* Click here to watch Steve’s interview with UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba. 

Religious institutions grapple how to worship in age of COVID-19. The world’s major religions are grappling with how to commemorate some of their holiest days in a new way because of the coronavirus pandemic, restricting movement and banning large gatherings. For Passover, Easter and now Ramadan, times when the faithful gather in prayer, leaders are rethinking how to carry out their religious services. (New York Times)


It’s war. To get vaccine, proposal gains ground to infect study group of young people. An idea that might seem outlandish at first is gaining some ground as a way to speed development of a coronavirus vaccine: intentionally infecting people with the virus as part of a trial. The idea, known as a “challenge trial,” would deliberately infect a few hundred young, healthy volunteers, who were first given either the potential vaccine or a placebo. Those picked would be well informed about the risks. (The Hill)


Lysol maker issues warning against injecting disinfectant after Trump comments. Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser on Friday issued a warning that “under no circumstance” should its products be administered into the human body or be used as a treatment for coronavirus, a day after President Trump discussed whether disinfectants could be used to treat the disease. (The Hill)


Beer sales start to dry up as public venues keep doors closed. With most Americans still under stay-at-home orders, and liquor stores deemed essential businesses, demand is brisk for six-packs and cases. That revenue stream, however, has failed to make up for the large-volume purchases that are part of the business model for big and small brewers. (The Hill)


How do we go back to work? One hospital’s procedures show the way. In sum, let’s be thoughtful, safe and careful, using science and humanity to manage the process. Let’s not make the perfect be the enemy of the good. (Mark C. Poznansky and Jacqueline A. Hart for The Hill

Get virus aid out now — worry about fraud later. To do their jobs quickly, agencies can and should make exceptions to business as usual. But in doing so, they will make mistakes — and, we hope, correct them, too. No one likes these mistakes. Congress, like everyone else outside the executive branch, feels like a fan watching their team when it’s behind: They want to call a different play, or replace the quarterback or the coach. But they can’t. (Joshua Gotbaum for The Hill)


They lived in a factory for 28 days to make millions of pounds of raw protective equipment to help fight coronavirus. For nearly a month, 43 employees of Braskem America lived in a Pennsylvania factory, working around the clock to produce tens of millions of pounds of raw materials that will end up in face masks and surgical gowns worn on the front lines of the pandemic. (Washington Post


Eminem sends Detroit hospital workers “Mom's Spaghetti.” This week Detroit health care workers received tubs of "Mom's Spaghetti," infamously referenced in Eminem’s hit song "Lose Yourself." Local catering company Union Joints carried out the initiative, which was funded by Eminem and the Marshall Mathers Foundation. (CNN)


> Steve interviews Rep. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-Mich.) 

> Steve interviews former Senate Majority Leader BILL FRIST 

> Steve interviews Rep. BRAD WENSTRUP (R-Ohio) 

> Steve interviews NATO Deputy Secretary General MIRCEA GENONA 

> Steve interviews Vanda Pharmaceuticals President and CEO MIHAEL POLYMEROPOULOS

> Steve interviews Seattle Mayor JENNY DURKAN

> Steve interviews Pfizer’s chief scientist MIKAEL DOLSTEN 


Watch all Coronavirus Report interviews here.


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CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. To stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus, visit TheHill.com and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter for the latest developments from the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings.