Coronavirus Report

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery’s Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people’s relationship with culture, art; Trump’s war with Twitter heats up


> Trump and Twitter: conspiracy theories and fact-check labels

> Fauci: no evidence showing hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating virus

> DC to lift stay-at-home order Friday 

>  Nearly half of Americans say they would get COVID-19 vaccine if available 

> Coronavirus at the border: California hospitals overwhelmed by patients from Mexico

> EU unveils 750 billion euro economic recovery response to pandemic 

> Boeing to begin first round of voluntary layoffs, will likely shed 2,500 workers 

> Companies tracking your movements: what contact tracing could look like in the US 

> National Portrait Gallery’s Kim Sajet says COVID-19 era rewiring people’s relationship with culture and art, adds that new art will focus on frontline heroes  

Trump’s brewing war with Twitter is getting worse. With the pandemic showing no end in sight, the 2020 presidential campaign will be the biggest digital project for the respective campaigns in a generation. Social media, virtual townhalls — and perhaps mail-in voting, which is facing a heated debate on Capitol Hill — are the latest items added to the list of our “new normal” in the age of coronavirus. On Tuesday evening, Twitter took the step of slapping a fact-check label on President Trump’s tweets. for the first time. The move, which escalates tensions between Washington and Silicon Valley in an election year, was made in response to two Trump tweets over the past 24 hours. The tweets falsely claimed that mail-in ballots are fraudulent. 


To no one’s surprise, the president took to social media this morning and blasted Twitter’s move, writing that the social media giant is “interfering in the 2020 presidential election” and working behind the scenes to “silence conservative voices.” Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said Tuesday that the fact-check lebel was added to the president’s tweets because they “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” The sparring between the White House and social media giants is bound to heat up as an unprecedented virtual campaign for the highest office in the land continues to play out in the lead-up to November’s election. 

AND the president is continuing to peddle a highly controversial conspiracy theory surrounding the death of a former aide to Joe Scarborough when the “Morning Joe” host represented Florida in Congress. Trump tweeted about Scarborough minutes before today’s airing of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” concluded, underscoring how the topic is on his mind, and on his refusal to back down on the subject in the face of criticism. A couple of Republican members of Congress, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), are urging the president to stop.




Kim Sajet, Director, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet to The Hill’s Steve Clemons:


“Listen, I always say there’s no moral test to be in the portrait gallery. No one is perfect, right? We’re not a hall of heroes. We all make mistakes, and we will do good things. What gets you into the portrait galleries is the summation of a life. When the ledger is actually tallied up at the end of it, have you really changed America? …. I would say, look at the long game. But as you journey along the way, you know, reach out to others and have empathy and have open communication”


“I think there’s already a lot coming up, but I think what I’m really impressed with is this focus on families, the people around us, maybe less about celebrity in some way and more about those who we’ve spent a lot of time with. But also the people on the frontlines, right? The doctors, the nurses, the cleaners, the people stocking our shelves. I mean, they’re the heroes really of this whole situation. And I think we’re going to see more of their portraits, certainly in the next portrait competition when that comes out.”





Watch the full video here.


Welcome to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. It’s Wednesday, May 27.

Editors’ Note. 


I find this quote from Pablo Picasso relevant to our times: “To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was.” I asked Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., what she thought would characterize art during the COVID-19 age, and she said it would be “less celebrity,” and more about those we’ve spent a lot of time with like “the doctors, the nurses, the cleaners, the people stocking our shelves … the heroes of this whole situation.” 


What I find fascinating is that “artists” as a term, or art as an obsession emanating from “stay at home/safer at home” enthusiasms has a very broad aperture in this time. When we look back on it, we may value both this moment and the art we are creating differently than now – maybe more precious as we flex our wings and fly, or travel, again and are permitted to physically hug and shake hands again.


I’m not an artist, like I’m not a foodie -– but I love great cuisine, chefs and restaurants, and I love museums, particularly the National Portrait Gallery, which I discuss a bit in my daily interview. But if you haven’t noticed there is an explosion of arts and culture bursting out in digital land as we reach beyond the rooms we pace in. Check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s moving online confabs paying tribute to today’s heroes but also creating these great multi-artist jams at Hit Record. And who can’t love and be amazed by people imitating the great masters’ works and then posting online for their friends and interested lurkers around the world. Most museums are engaging their fans with online time with today’s artists and also offering virtual tours, like the Votes for Women tour at the National Portrait Gallery. 


Deborah Fallows captures some of this creative sizzle in a great Atlantic article as part of her and James Fallows’s Our Town series profiling artists like Richelle Gribble, who once was an artist-in-residence in Eastport, Maine, but is now in Los Angeles at home working on a project she calls Quarantine Life. Deborah Fallows also writes that Gribble is part of a “global crowd-sourced project that includes not only artists, but others who are journalists, physicians, ecologists, songwriters, CEOs, astronauts, and more. It’s called the Great Pause Project.” 


Some artists and art lovers may scoff at my observation that more seems to be going on now than usual. But so be it. As Sajet shared, parents are having to be their children’s art teachers and are reaching out to online resources like museums to assist. And our human desire to strut a bit and show off, online if not in person, is producing whole new tracks of artistic expression. I am fascinated by the eruption of culture in times of stress -– and like Picasso intimated, I am pretty sure that what we are producing today will mean different things in the future. But it will still say something about us now.


– Steve Clemons


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ICYMI: catch up on last week’s programs




On Thursday, The Hill hosted “A National Virtual Summit on Advancing America’s Economy,” a forum to discuss a responsible reopening of the U.S. economy anchored by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.   Watch the full program video here


On Wednesday, The Hill hosted “The Vir[Tech]tual World of Tomorrow.”    Watch the full program video here

We want to hear from you! Follow us @TheHillEvents and keep the conversation going using #TheHillVirtuallyLive



There are 5,635,943 reported cases of COVID-19 and 352,235 global deaths from the virus as of the time of this newsletter. 


The U.S. is reporting 1,685,955 cases and 99,264 deaths. Brazil’s cases continue to skyrocket and the country is now reporting 391,222 cases. Russia is close behind with 370,680 reported cases of the virus. 268,615 in the U.K. 236,259 in Spain. 231,139 in Italy. 182,847 in France. 181,524 in Germany. 158,762 in Turkey. 157,484 in India. 141,591 in Iran. 45,970 in the Netherlands. 38,292 in Bangladesh. 37,355 in Ecuador. 24,264 in South Africa. 23,851 in Indonesia. 18,756 in Egypt. 21,905 in Ukraine. 16,623 in Japan. 13,228 in Argentina. 12,456 in Afghanistan. 9,633 in Bahrain. 9,069 in Czechia. 7,584 in Morocco. 7,117 in Ghana. 


New York is reporting 363,836 cases. New Jersey 155,764. Illinois 113,195. California 99,874. Massachusetts 93,693. Pennsylvania 73,320. Texas 57,288. Maryland 48,423. Georgia 44,279. Connecticut 41,303. Ohio 33,006. North Carolina 24,804. Iowa 18,256. Arizona 16,864. Utah 8,620. District of Columbia 8,406. Maine 2,109. 


14,907,041 COVID-19 test results have been recorded and 384,902 have reported full recoveries from the virus in the U.S.


Fauci: Hyrdroxycholoroquine not effective against coronavirus. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said there’s no evidence that shows the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19. “Clearly the scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for it,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, said during a CNN interview. (The Hill)

How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman’s COVID-19 response. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell‘s deep ties with lawmakers are paying off as the central bank deploys trillions of dollars in financial support for the economy with the blessing of Congress. With the coronavirus crisis, Powell has drawn from years of experience negotiating with lawmakers, nudging them toward his preferred policy outcomes while showing deference to their treasured oversight responsibilities. (The Hill)


Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) 

@JohnBoozman The phased approach to reopening businesses in Arkansas is essential, and I support the establishing of protocols to keep us all safe as their doors reopen to customers. READ my latest column about how we all have a part to play in a successful recovery.


Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) 

@SenJackReed Even before #COVID19 outbreak, the Trump Admin shortchanged seniors citizens & put #OlderAmericans health at risk w/ misplaced budget priorities. Ex: Trump’s FY 2021 budget called for $750 billion in cuts to #Medicare & $844 billion in cuts to #Medicaid over next decade.


Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) 

@SenJonErnst As more of the economy gets reopened, the need for hand sanitizer will continue to grow. I’m calling on @US_FDA to clarify its policy for the manufacture of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products so Iowa’s biofuel producers can continue to help meet the needs of our communities.


Washington to lift stay-at-home order on Friday. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Wednesday that the city will lift its stay-at-home order on Friday and enter phase one of reopening. Bowser said that the virus is still circulating but said the city had met its metrics of a 14-day decline in community spread of the virus as well as adequate testing and hospital capacity. (The Hill)


North Carolina requests “written plan” from GOP on coronavirus safety for convention. North Carolina’s top health official requested that the Republican National Convention provide a “written plan” on safety regulations it intends to enact at its confab scheduled for August in Charlotte. “As we work together, it is important to have a written plan from you and your team as soon as possible for how you plan to approach the COVID-19 safety aspects of the convention,” North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen wrote to convention President and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly. (The Hill)


California governor says the virus’s first wave there is not over. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said the first wave of novel coronavirus infections in his state has not yet passed as the country moves toward resuming normal life. “I’ve been overwhelmed by 40 million Americans who live in the state of California, the vast majority doing the right thing, recognizing that this pandemic is not behind us,” he said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that aired Wednesday. “We’re not into a second wave. We still haven’t gotten through the first wave.” (Washington Post)


Coronavirus at the border. California hospitals overwhelmed by patients from Mexico. As Mexico’s health care system has strained under the coronavirus, small community hospitals in Southern California, some of the poorest in the state, have been flooded with Americans who have fallen ill and crossed the border. (Washington Post

Lack of COVID-19 testing undermines Africa’s “success.” The relatively low numbers of coronavirus cases in Africa so far “have raised hopes that African countries may be spared the worst of the pandemic”, in the words of the United Nations. But at the same time it urges caution. There is a general consensus among those in charge of health policy on the continent that testing rates are woefully low, and this could be distorting our understanding of how far the virus has spread. (BBC)


Half of Americans in new poll say they would get COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly half of the Americans surveyed in a poll released Wednesday said they would get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. (The Hill)


France bans hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatment. France has banned hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, its government announced Wednesday. (The Hill)


Boeing to shed 2,500 workers in initial phase of voluntary layoffs. Boeing will announce this week that it will shed about 2,500 workers in its first phase of voluntary layoffs due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, union officials told The Wall Street Journal. Union officials told the newspaper that the first round of layoffs will focus on the Seattle-area commercial airplanes population and could be announced as early as Friday. (The Hill)


Hertz paid out $16 million in bonuses, days before bankruptcy. Hertz Global Holdings Inc. paid more than $16 million in retention bonuses to senior managers, including its new chief executive, just days before it filed for bankruptcy Friday night. The car-rental company said it agreed to pay a $700,000 bonus to Chief Executive Paul Stone, who was named to the post this month. (Wall Street Journal)


Pelosi’s COVID-19 aid bill emphasizes an illegal immigration agenda. For everyone else, Nancy Pelosi erased all remaining doubt by holding up desperately needed aid for American citizens with her poison-pill demand to send taxpayer-funded checks to illegal immigrants. Support for open borders is not a byproduct of Democratic principles or policies. It is the principle; it is the policy. They’ve now made it official. (Donald Trump Jr. for The Hill)


The lost generation of Americans face uncertain future in the crisis. The media has labeled the Class of 2020 as the Lost Generation. They lost their final college semester, their graduation ceremonies, their summer internships, their job offers. Three million of them now enter a spiraling job market. Officially, the unemployment rate is 17.2 percent for recent college graduates. But with nearly 40 million Americans unemployed and most job seekers trapped in their homes (meaning not considered as “actively seeking work”) some economists think the real rate is significantly higher. (Former Congressman Steve Israel for The Hill


Contact tracing for COVID-19 will be the most complex health investigation ever. Around the globe, health workers in many countries already have spent months painstakingly calling people to let them know they may have come in contact with someone carrying the virus. This army of tracers urges those who’ve been exposed to isolate themselves rather than risk sickening others. From South Korea to Singapore contact tracing has slowed, though not stopped, the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. (National Geographic)





Britain’s George Gilbert and his wife, both infected with COVID-19, hold hands during a brief visit together. The couple is being treated at different locations and both people are part of a Cambridge trial that scientists hope could prevent organ failure and death in COVID-19 patients. 


For hockey fans, some good news: the NHL has approved a 24-team playoff tournament if the season resumes. The National Hockey League moved one step closer to resuming its season that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday the league officially ended its regular season and will skip to a playoff tournament to determine its 2019-20 Stanley Cup champion. Bettman also said the league will select two hub cities where games will resume. (CNBC


Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson leaves massive tip at Florida restaurant after reopening. Former Cincinnati Bengals player Chad Johnson was more than happy to dine in at Havana’s Cuban Cuisine on Monday, with restaurants allowed to reopen in Broward County and Miami-Dade County. Johnson, a former NFL star, left a $1,000 tip on a bill for $37.40, writing on the check “Congrats on re-opening, sorry about the pandemic, hope this helps. I LOVE YOU.” (WPEC)


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

> Steve interviews CDC Director ROBERT REDFIELD 

> Steve interviews Mastercard CEO AJAY BANGA 

> Steve interviews Teva USA President and CEO BRENDAN O’GRADY 

> Steve interviews US Surgeon General JEROME ADAMS 

> Steve interviews former NIC Director GREG TREVERTON 


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

Click here to subscribe to our Overnight Healthcare Newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus 




Tags Adam Kinzinger Anthony Fauci Coronavirus Coronavirus Report Donald Trump Gavin Newsom Jack Reed Joe Scarborough John Boozman Joni Ernst Kim Sajet Liz Cheney Nancy Pelosi Steve Israel Steven Mnuchin Twitter

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