Coronavirus Report

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva’s Brendan O’Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve


> ‘We’ve been muzzled’: CDC sources say White House putting politics ahead of science

> CDC quietly released more detailed guidelines for reopening  

> Navajo Nation, under strict lockdown, surpasses New York for highest infection rate per capita in US 

> Coca-Cola CEO: Economic impact of pandemic ‘just starting to begin’ 

> Prototype vaccine protects monkeys from COVID-19, a promising sign that a human vaccine is possible 

> Scientists propose a 50 days on, 30 days off lockdown strategy to combat virus





The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dominating headlines today. In my interview with CDC Director Robert Redfield yesterday, he said that the U.S. is ready to reopen and predicted hiring tens of thousands more contact tracers. 


See my colleague Brett Samuels’ write-up of the interview here. And watch the full video here. 


CNN is reporting that CDC officials say they have been “muzzled” and the White House is putting politics ahead of science. In interviews with the network, CDC officials say their agency’s efforts to mount a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation’s response to infectious disease to a supporting role.

In other news, the CDC quietly released more detailed guidance for reopening schools, businesses, transit systems and other industries after fears that the White House had shelved the guidelines. The 60-page document, which a CDC spokesman said was uploaded over the weekend, but which received little notice, adds great detail to six charts that the CDC released last week. (New York Times)


Double Header!

Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard, says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now, adds Digital I.D. distributed system is way to enhance security and move economy forward post-COVID, says we need ethical innovation framework that puts citizen and customer first. 




Watch the full interview here.



Brendan O’Grady, President and CEO, Teva USA says globalized drug supply chain a strength, says repatriation of production would require price stability commitments, says US produces almost no drug active ingredients (API), says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like it does with the Strategic Oil Reserve. 




Watch the full interview here.



Welcome to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. It’s Wednesday, May 20.

Editor’s Note.

What will the future look like? And will you and I fit in it or not? That is what I discussed today in a meeting organized by The Hill titled “The Vir-tech-ual World,” underwritten by Nokia, with Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) as well as Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and others. We are barreling head first into an internet of things world, gadgets connected to people, which are in turn sending data to other sensors, which are connected to other gadgets. Trillions of “things” — animate and inanimate — are about to become tied together. That requires some degree of trust, but it also requires competence and literacy. 


But trust and literacy take time — and the coronavirus has robbed us all of that. We may have talked about the shift from analog to digital these past many years — but the analog world is now like the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s with everyone rushing to California’s orange groves for their future and jobs. Like John Steinbeck painted in “The Grapes of Wrath,” there are going to be major problems in this new digital ecosystem that COVID-19 has shoved both the willing and unwilling into. And there are many that won’t be connected, and haven’t been connected even before we got to an IoT and 5G world.  


The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare many of the inequities in our society as my panelists Francella Ochillo of Next Century Cities, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa of the Dallas Independent School District, and Jason Oxman of the Information Technology Industry Council made clear and which Nokia’s Brian Hendricks pondered as we race to modernize and add more technology and connectivity into the mix. What was clear in a world ravaged by COVID-19, there is an ever greater urgency to solve these problems of the past that haunt society — and to just fix them. Some are doing that, but it takes money — and lots of money is churning out of Washington. But it takes political will and steady focus. That may be the toughest part.


Watch the full program here.


– 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 Report. To stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus, visit and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter.


Thursday, 11 a.m. EDT | Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to join The Hill’s Editor in Chief Bob Cusack




On Thursday, The Hill will host “A National Virtual Summit on Advancing America’s Economy,” a forum to discuss a responsible reopening of the U.S. economy. The summit will feature three one-hour segments, beginning at 11 a.m. EDT. 


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joins The Hill’s Editor in Chief Bob Cusack for a keynote interview followed by an afternoon of discussion with leading CEOs and national health experts including: 


> U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams 

> Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

> Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) 

> Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas)

> Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) 

> Topeka, Kan., Mayor Michelle De La Isla

> AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka 

> Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker 

> GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani 

> Teva USA President and CEO Brendan O’Grady

> Citizen Founder and CEO Andrew Frame 

> Chef and Crafted Hospitality owner Tom Colicchio  

> AOL Founder and Revolution Chairman Steve Case

> Chester River and Cheese Co. co-proprietor Jennifer Laucik Baker 

> Siemens USA President & CEO Barbara Humpton

> Wells Fargo CEO and President Charles W. Scharf

REGISTER HERE! And join the conversation using #TheHillVirtuallyLive.


There are 4,947,929 reported cases of COVID-19 in the world and 324,776 deaths have been recorded as of the time of this newsletter. 


The U.S. is reporting 1,537,584 cases and 92,149 coronavirus deaths. Russia’s cases continue to rise dramatically and now stand at a reported 308,705. Brazil, with its 271,628 cases recorded its largest single-day spike in cases Tuesday. 250,141 in the U.K. 232,555 in Spain 227,364 in Italy. 180,934 in France. 178,170 in Germany. 152,587 in Turkey. 126,949 in Iran. 111,602 in India. 99,438 in Peru. Sweden’s lax lockdown measures and hopes of building herd immunity have resulted in 31,523 reported cases. Switzerland 30,658. Singapore 29,364. Bangladesh 26,738. United Arab Emirates 25,063. 17,200 in South Africa. 3,034 cases in Thailand. 2,927 in Uzbekistan. 1,503 in New Zealand. 


New York’s 354,370 reported cases are still higher than any other country in the world. New Jersey is reporting 149,356 cases. Illinois 98,030. Massachusetts 87,925. California 83,865. Pennsylvania 67,311. Michigan 52,350. Texas 50,579. 29,276 cases in Indiana. 17,670 in Minnesota. 14,906 in Arizona. 9,056 in South Carolina. 8,364 in Kansas. 8,069 in Kentucky. 1,545 in West Virginia. 


12,233,987 COVID-19 test results have been recorded and 289,392 full recoveries from the virus are being reported in the U.S.


Pelosi, Trump slide further into the muck. While tensions between the two have been heightened for months, the relationship took an especially nasty turn Monday after the Democratic leader characterized the famously image-conscious president as “morbidly obese” while panning his decision to take an unproven treatment for the coronavirus. President Trump at first dismissed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) comments about his weight, telling reporters Tuesday after a lunch on Capitol Hill with GOP senators, “I don’t respond to her. I think she’s a waste of time.” (The Hill


Trump threatens to withhold Michigan, Nevada funding over mail-in voting. President Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan after its secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson (D), announced all of the state’s registered voters would receive applications for absentee ballots in the mail this year. Trump charged that the step was done “illegally” and threatened to withhold funding if the state did not reverse course, suggesting the move would encourage voter fraud. (The Hill


House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19. Members of a new House GOP task force on China are vowing their investigation will go beyond COVID-19 and include probes into a host of issues creating tensions between Washington and Beijing. The fledgling task force — led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee — will look into topics ranging from supply chain and national security concerns to human rights violations and China’s growing influence on the world stage. (The Hill)


Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) 

@SenatorDurbin Our next @USNavy Secretary must prioritize the well-being of our sailors, including those at @navstaglakes, & take steps toward mitigating health risks brought on by #COVID19. Spoke with Amb. Kenneth Braithwaite, @USNavy Secretary nominee, about his thoughts on these issues.


Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) 

@EliseStefanik #NY21 is so eager to get back to work safely. Thank you for everyone’s team effort to get all three of our regions in #NY21 to phase one of NY’s reopening process. There are brighter days ahead!  


Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) 

@MartinHeinrich Tribal communities are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. At the same time, the need for internet access in these communities now could not be more apparent. That’s why I am calling on the @FCC to ensure rural Tribal communities have equal access to internet.


Navajo Nation under strict lockdown with highest coronavirus infection rate in the country. With only a fraction of the population, the Navajo Nation is now reporting more coronavirus cases per capita than New York, one of the initial epicenters of the outbreak in the United States. The 27,000-square-mile territory spans three states and had a population of 173,667 people as of the last census. As of May 18, there were 4,071 positive cases of COVID-19 and 142 deaths in the region stretching across northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah. (The Hill


California is finally winning coronavirus battle, even as deaths keep rising. Three months into California’s battle with the coronavirus, there are growing signs that the outbreak is ebbing even as the state death toll continues to climb, passing 3,400. While deaths remain a stubborn challenge, other metrics analyzed by the Los Angeles Times show significant progress — enough that even some of the most cautious local health officials have agreed to begin reopening the economy. (Los Angeles Times

DOJ warns Newsom that order discriminates against California churches. The Department of Justice warned California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a Tuesday letter that his reopening plan for the state discriminates against churches. Eric S. Dreiband, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in the letter that the governor should permit in-person worship gatherings in the second phase of his four-part reopening. Currently, Newsom’s plan indicates churches can reopen in the third phase. (The Hill)


Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases. This city at Africa’s southwestern-most tip stands out for a number of reasons — its extreme economic inequality and remarkable scenery among them — but burgeoning hot spots of coronavirus cases have distinguished it anew. (Washington Post


UAE minister of state: Coronavirus crisis “could help ease Gulf tensions.” Countries in the Gulf region — Iran and the six Gulf Arab states — will emerge “weaker, poorer and damaged” from the coronavirus pandemic, according to UAE Minister of State Anwar Gargash. Speaking to the BBC from Abu Dhabi, he said the answer was for the whole region to try to de-escalate its tensions. (BBC)


A prototype vaccine has protected monkeys from the coronavirus. A prototype vaccine has protected monkeys from the coronavirus, researchers reported Wednesday, a finding that offers new hope for effective human vaccines. “To me, this is convincing that a vaccine is possible,” said Nelson Michael, the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. (New York Times

Cycle of 50 days of shutdown followed by 30 days relaxation is best way to tackle pandemic, study finds. As countries start to reopen their economies, public health experts are putting the situation in context by warning that more waves of the coronavirus are likely. A European Union-backed study released Wednesday outlines what a response to that reality could look like: Fifty days of shutdown followed by 30 days of relative relaxation. Repeat until pandemic-free. (Washington Post)


Weekly mortgage applications point to a remarkable recovery in homebuying. If mortgage demand is an indicator, buyers are coming back to the housing market far faster than anticipated, despite coronavirus shutdowns and job losses. Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 6 percent last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. (CNBC

Coca-Cola CEO says economic impact of lockdown is “just starting to begin.” Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey delivered a grim forecast Wednesday for the global economy’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “The economic impact of the lockdown is just starting to begin,” Quincey said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” (CNBC)


Why I have to break up with Florida. Dear Florida, breaking up is hard to do, but another man has come between us. It was going so well with that overpowering desire to see you when that first flake of snow wafted in a stiff December wind, those moonlit jogs on the Miami Beach boardwalk, the butterflies in our stomachs when we committed to spend the rest of our lives with you in retirement homes in Boca and Naples. But now, your United States senator, Rick Scott, is opposing federal aid to New York and other states impacted by the coronavirus. (Former Rep. Steve Israel for The Hill)

Will government mandate COVID-19 vaccinations? When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, I will be one of the first in line. But the fact is U.S. adults tend to have low vaccination rates. If the government determines that vaccinations are essential to stemming the spread of the disease, would it — could it — mandate vaccination compliance? Apparently, it can — and it might. (Merrill Matthews for The Hill)


Florida girl adopted by family over Zoom after 700 days in foster care. One Florida family is celebrating the adoption of the 2-year-old girl who has lived with them in foster care since she was 7 days old. As the local county courthouse remains closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the toddler’s adoption hearing commenced over Zoom and was followed by a sweet car parade by members of their foster care community. (Fox News)


> Steve interviews Rep. LEE ZELDIN (R-N.Y.) 

> Steve interviews former Maryland Lt. Gov. and ex-RNC Chairman MICHAEL STEELE 

> Steve interviews former U.S. Energy Secretary ERNEST MONIZ 

> Steve interviews Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) 

> Steve interviews Mylan CEO HEATHER BRESCH 

> Steve interviews Wilson Center President and CEO JANE HARMAN 

> Steve interviews Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Director TOM INGLESBY 

> Steve interviews CDC Director ROBERT REDFIELD 

Watch all Coronavirus Report interviews here.


SEND US YOUR OWN PICS – from your own walks or adventures – during this time of physical distancing but social connection. And SEND US YOUR STORIES of how teleworking is going, what you have learned from homeschooling, new ways to exercise, and special moments or standout heroism you want to share. What’s working for you? What’s comic in these dark days? 


Send to 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 and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter.



Tags Ben Cardin Bob Cusack Dick Durbin Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Ernest Moniz Gavin Newsom Joe Manchin Lee Zeldin Mark Warner Martin Heinrich Michael McCaul Nancy Pelosi Robert Redfield Rodney Davis Steve Israel Steven Mnuchin Suzan DelBene Will Hurd

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