Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says public health threat of loneliness compounded by COVID-19; Trump says task force will 'evolve'

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says public health threat of loneliness compounded by COVID-19; Trump says task force will 'evolve'


> Trump says coronavirus task force will ‘evolve’ 

> China hits back at Pompeo, Washington for claims virus leaked from lab

> House pushes forward with $2T more in relief, McConnell calls for ‘pause’ 

> Former top vaccine scientist files whistleblower complaint 

> Sound familiar? Congress weighing aid to auto industry as car sales continue to plummet 

> Where is Surgeon General Jerome Adams? 

> Former Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Watch live: Biden surgeon general pick testifies at confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help MORE says public health threat of loneliness compounded by COVID-19, says public health infrastructure underfunded to defend against pandemic


“There will be more death.” The decision to reopen is likely to define a generation. ABC News' David Muir interviewed President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE Tuesday in Arizona, a rare sit down with the president not on Fox News. When pressed on how to find the delicate balance between saving American lives and jumpstarting the plummeting economy, Trump conceded that “it’s possible there will be some” deaths as states roll back restrictions and work toward reopening their economies. The president also acknowledged that there will be some who are “affected badly” by the decision to reopen. Trump urged Americans to view themselves as “warriors,” telling a country riddled with fear and uncertainty: “I love you. I want to say that we’re doing everything we can.” 

Trump says coronavirus task force will remain “indefinitely” but will evolve. President Trump signaled Wednesday that the White House coronavirus task force would not be dissolved entirely but would evolve, saying it would remain in place “indefinitely” but that he may “add or subtract” officials. The president said that the task force will now focus on safety and reopening the United States amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Trump did confirm that Anthony FauciAnthony FauciMAGALand in Orlando CDC director warns states against lifting COVID-19 restrictions The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Third approved vaccine distributed to Americans MORE and Deborah Birx will still be involved in the administration’s efforts to combat the virus. 

In a series of tweets on the issue, the President said that he “may add or subtract people” to the task force:






Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says public health threat of loneliness compounded by COVID-19, calls on administration to find trusted voices and social media influencers outside main channels to convey seriousness of this pandemic, notes U.S. underfunded and cut funding for the infrastructure needed to protect Americans from a widely predicted pandemic






Watch the full interview here. 


Welcome to The Hill's Coronavirus Report. It's Wednesday, May 6.

Editor's Note. 


Where is Surgeon General Jerome Adams? He is one of the key voices that the nation needs to hear from. Along with White House coronavirus task force members Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, Adams’s voice matters. He experienced some whiplash in the past couple of months — tweeting to the public to stop buying masks because that demand was interfering with front-line health workers being able to access the much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) material. Shortly after his statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House advised people to wear masks in stores, when walking in neighborhoods, and when interacting with anyone other than one’s sheltering pals. At that moment though, the surgeon general was right. The U.S. government had failed to lead and coordinate PPE distribution and thus many localities, states and health care systems had to go to the open market to secure their masks. Adams was right THEN that health care workers and caregivers needed priority access.


Adams also said, “The chronic burden of medical ills is likely to make people of color, especially, less resilient to the ravages of COVID-19. And it is possible, in fact, likely that the burden of social ills is likely contributing.” It has been reported that these comments about the susceptibility of communities of color to the novel coronavirus got Adams in hot water, and we’ve barely heard a word from him since. 


The left had problems with Adams’s language and message to communities of color. Progressives accused him of toadying up to Trump by slurring the African American and Hispanic communities with gratuities references saying, “Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs. ... We need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your Big Mama. Do it for your Pop-Pop." 


As the nation’s top doctor, Adams should tell every American that smoking, drugs, perhaps alcohol and various endemic underlying conditions make them more vulnerable than those with less incidence. Certainly, the drug comment could easily apply to the broad swath of desperate white American men who are dying in record numbers from opioid abuse. All that aside, systemic racism in America and the drivers of substance abuse won’t be turned over in a night — and reaching them to try and engage in behaviors now that will save their and their family’s lives is not a mistake.


The Hill’s Daily Coronavirus Report has tried hard to secure time with Adams, but has thus far not succeeded though his team has not said no. Again, from our vantage point, the surgeon general has made statements that were constructive and are consistent with the role of his office. The White House should stop squelching him and other members of the Coronavirus task force from speaking publicly.


Take the Navy rank off. Take the fancy suit of the surgeon general off. Adams shared an intimate detail of his personal vulnerability. On April 10, trying to encourage members of the Native American, African American, Hispanic and Asian communities to take COVID-19 seriously and to understand some of their respective health vulnerabilities, he said: “African Americans and Native Americans develop high blood pressure at much younger ages, and it’s less likely to be under control, and does greater harm to their organs. Puerto Ricans have higher rates of asthma and black boys are three times as likely to die of asthma as their white counterparts. As a matter of fact, I’ve been carrying around an inhaler in my pocket for 40 years out of fear of having a fatal asthma attack. And I hope that showing you this inhaler shows little kids with asthma all across the country that they can grow up to be surgeon general one day.”


This is what needed to be said because of systemic racism in this country and certain types of jobs are disproportionately occupied by people of color. It had to be said because of the disproportionate share of those incarcerated coming from the black community and the black maternal mortality in the U.S. has been surging. It had to be said because chronic illnesses of all sorts are clustered in dense urban environments among the poor. What Adams said was on target and true. It is those kind of comments, the sort that Fauci makes about the dangers of reopening America before the carnage of the coronavirus has stopped growing, or CDC Director Robert Redfield makes that the second wave of this virus could be devastating, that secures trust and confidence from the American people when a horrible storm is hitting.


Who knows when the surgeon general will be allowed to speak to the media again. We are waiting. His words were valuable — and his silence has been noted.


Today, we interviewed former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and explored themes in his new book, “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.”


–  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.





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There are 3,711,425 reported cases of coronavirus in the world. 259,796 have died due to the virus. 


The U.S. is reporting 1,212,123 cases and 71,526 deaths as of the time of this newsletter. Spain continues to have the most cases in Europe with 219,329. Italy is close behind with 214,457. The U.K., which has surpassed Italy for the most European deaths, is reporting 202,355 cases. France 170,694. Germany 167,372. Russia 165,929. 31,938 in Saudi Arabia. 31,881 in Ecuador. 26,182 in Portugal. Mexico 26,025. 20,198 in Singapore. 16,314 in Israel. 12,438 reported cases in Indonesia. 10,806 in South Korea. 


321,192 cases are being reported in New York. 130,593 in New Jersey. 70,271 in Massachusetts. 65,889 in Illinois. 58,794 in California. 54,513 in Pennsylvania. 44,451 in Michigan. 20,257 cases in Virginia. Tennessee 13,690. 10,404 in Iowa. 10,205 in Rhode Island. 


7,544,328 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the U.S. More than 1.2 million people have reported full recoveries from the coronavirus around the world.





House hits gas, Senate pumps brakes on $2T more in relief. Congress is under the gun to pass yet another massive round of coronavirus relief, as small-business funds dry up, state budgets are ravaged and unemployment claims soar to record highs. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) and House Democrats are planning to unveil an enormous CARES 2 package in the coming days, with a possible floor vote as early as next week. (The Hill


Battle brewing over how to get more relief money to Americans. A fight is emerging in Washington over how best to get more money into people’s pockets to weather the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump is making a payroll tax cut a priority for a future recovery package, but Democrats, as well as some Republicans, are not keen on that idea. (The Hill

Rick Bright, former top vaccine scientist, files whistleblower complaint. The federal scientist who was ousted last month as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. In the complaint, Bright alleges a range of government wrongdoing by Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, and others. (NPR)


Rep. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceCongressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Six ways to visualize a divided America Democrats urge Biden FDA to drop in-person rule for abortion pill MORE (D-Mich.) 

@RepLawrence Our nation’s nurses have shown us time and time again what true dedication, compassion and hard work really mean. In times of crisis, true heroes rise to help those in need. Happy #NationalNursesWeek to the dedicated Americans protecting our communities. Thank you.


Rep. Chuck FleischmannCharles (Chuck) Joseph FleischmannRep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Tenn.)

@RepChuck Renee Mills, a Chattanooga nurse, has sewn 225 masks for people in her community. God bless people like Renee who have gone above and beyond to help the community.


Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroState Department establishes chief officer in charge of diversity Texas governor faces criticism over handling of winter storm fallout DC bureau chief for The Intercept: Impeachment managers became 'like the dog who caught the car' when permitted to call witnesses MORE (D-Texas) 

@JoaquinCastrotx It's unconscionable that hardworking Americans who desperately need this assistance simply won't receive it just because they're married to an immigrant. I'm fighting this injustice so that all mixed-families get what they deserve.


Native health center says it received body bags after it asked for supplies to fight coronavirus. The Seattle Indian Health Board, a community health center that services the Native American population in Seattle and King County in Washington state, said it received an order of body bags earlier this year when it asked for more medical supplies. NBC News reports. (The Hill

Over half of workforce at Iowa Tyson plant tests positive for coronavirus. More than half of the workforce at a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Perry, Iowa, has tested positive for COVID-19. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported on Tuesday that a total of 730 workers at the plant had contracted the virus, representing 58 percent of its staff, according to local news reports. (The Hill)


/ China assails United States over Wuhan lab leak allegations. A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry delivered a scathing criticism on Wednesday of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoTrump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals US condemns arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong MORE over his assertion last weekend that the coronavirus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world originated in a Chinese laboratory. (Washington Post


Forecasts predict Europe’s worst depression ever. The European Union’s economy is set to shrink by 7.4 percent this year, investment is expected to collapse and unemployment rates, debts and deficits will balloon in the brutal aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission said Wednesday. (New York Times


Britain surpasses Italy with most reported coronavirus deaths in Europe. Britain reported the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe on Tuesday, surpassing Italy, even as officials cautioned that it was difficult to compare figures across nations. (Washington Post)


Scientist whose coronavirus model is used by CDC warns states may have to close again. A scientist whose coronavirus model is cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Tuesday that states may have to close again if cases jump following the easing of guidelines meant to prevent the spread. Youyang Gu told CNN that states should not rush their reopenings because “by the time you realize what’s happened, it’ll be too late to reverse the decision.” (The Hill

Coronavirus vaccine enters human testing in U.S. Researchers have begun giving healthy volunteers in the U.S. an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, the latest study exploring a potential defense against the respiratory disease. (Wall Street Journal


Another auto bailout? A massive drop in car sales sparks new push in Congress to aid the industry. A precipitous decline in car sales amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak has caught the attention of Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are now urging Congress to authorize new aid for the auto industry. (Washington Post

Uber to layoff 3,700 employees amid coronavirus pandemic. Uber is laying off 3,700 employees as the coronavirus pandemic drives down demand for its service, the company announced Wednesday. (The Hill)


Individual choice will be the key to economic recovery after the crisis. In the interim, our best hope may be an ancient legal doctrine that extends back to Roman law in the 6th century. “Volenti non fit injuria” means “no wrong is done to one who consents," and it became the foundation for what we know today as “assumption of the risk.” The doctrine encapsulates the concept of personal responsibility and choice. That is precisely what an economic reopening will require: not liability, but choice. (Jonathan Turley for The Hill)  





A virtual Congress? America’s founders would have approved. Tens of millions of Americans are working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not Congress. The House of Representatives recently abandoned a plan to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely. Yet the nation’s founders confronted a similar crisis when a yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia almost caused a constitutional crisis — and they left behind a blueprint for Congress to do its job safely and effectively in spite of contagious illness. (National Geographic)


During Teacher Appreciation Week, students, parents and many others are finding creative ways to honor their teachers. A group of students banded together to bid their teacher farewell after her course was discontinued for distance learning. Sophomore Bella Watkins,16, of Bryant High School in Bryant, Ark., invited 11 of her friends to share selfie footage as they said goodbye to Heather Hare. (Good Morning America)


> Steve interviews BIO CEO JIM GREENWOOD 

> Steve interviews Sen. CHRISTOPHER COONS (D-Del.) 

> Steve interviews Edelman Public Relations CEO RICHARD EDELMAN

> Steve interviews Rep. DONNA SHALALA (D-Fla.) 

> Steve interviews Rep. TREY HOLLINGSWORTH (R-Ind.) 

> Steve interviews former Secretary of State MADELEINE ALBRIGHT 

> Steve interviews Rep. ROSA DELAURO (D-Conn.)

> Steve interviews BIO President and CEO JIM GREENWOOD 

Watch all Coronavirus Report interviews here.


Send to YourStories@TheHill.com. Our thoughts are with you, our readers, and we hope and trust that no matter the weight of burdens on you now — and it’s not a good story for everyone we know — that we all stand together, resilient and confident, on the other side of this. There will be another side.

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.