Coronavirus Report

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Association of American Railroads Ian Jefferies says no place for hate, racism or bigotry in rail industry or society; Trump declares victory in response to promising jobs report


> Trump declares victory in response to promising jobs report, falling unemployment 

> Labor Department releases surprising data as unemployment rate falls

> CDC director says protesters should get tested for coronavirus 

> Officials remained concerned about virus spreading throughout protests; Gottlieb says it will take weeks to observe rise in cases from nationwide protests 

> Japan hopes to have a coronavirus vaccine in use by 2021 

> Authors retract major COVID-19 paper on effects of hydroxychloroquine

> Bankrupt J.C. Penney announces closure of 154 stores across the country 

> AAR’s Ian Jefferies says no place for hate, racism or bigotry in rail industry or society, says railways are backbone of US supply chain, notes Acela back online





Surprise! The economic impact of the pandemic is seemingly beginning to ease. The U.S added 2.5 million jobs in May and the unemployment dropped to 13.3 percent as businesses begin to reopen after coronavirus-related closures, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday. The numbers shattered economic expectations that there would be another steep rise in joblessness. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rallied more than 700 points after the shocking jobs report. 


President Trump addressed the media Friday morning in the Rose Garden and declared victory over the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis.  President Trump insisted throughout the presser that, “This is the greatest comeback in American history.” He declared it a “great day for equality” and a “great day” for George Floyd. (The Hill)


Ian Jefferies, President & CEO, Association of American Railroads

Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of Association of American Railroads, says no place for hate, racism or bigotry in rail industry or society, says railways are backbone of US supply chain, notes Amtrak Acela back online. 






Watch the full interview here.


Welcome to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. It’s Friday, June 5.

Editor’s Note.


We are all being forced to live with a set of dichotomies right now. On the one hand, the stock market is screaming upward with, at the time of this writing, a 1,000-point rise based on jobs data showing a net add of 2.5 million jobs in May. But there are still more than 40 million people, and probably more, who remain out of work. Around the United States, many beaches, restaurants, gyms, parks, boutique stores and more are reopening — albeit in most cases with mask and distancing guidance. New infections in the U.S. are on the rise; there were 1,000 deaths on Thursday, and depending on which source is used, the U.S. is pretty much near the 110,000 fatalities mark. Think about that: One hundred and ten thousand people have died who otherwise would not have.


I have to start this short note with this reminder — as we debate the solvency of the The New York Times editorial page and whether opinion pages are being pushed to become advocacy forums, or whether Facebook should allow President Trump’s glorification of violence without comment or a cautionary tag, or as we digest truly disturbing visuals of police beating innocent people or Buffalo police officers roughly pushing down an unarmed, peaceful septuagenarian citizen and leaving him on the ground and then publicly lying about it — the virus is still here. There is no vaccine. There are no antivirals.


And we are seeing a wrestling match play out in real time between commentators over what truth we should live: one of ongoing concern about America’s and the world’s health dilemma, or one where many throw caution to the wind and attend pool parties as recently witnessed at Lake of the Ozarks. Or whether those whose consciences have been gut-punched by the killing of George Floyd should have their rights of expression exploited by violent looters and arsonists or by a White House that has failed to address law enforcement standards and police brutality. The nation is a cauldron at the moment of grievances and political agendas. 


When I spoke with Ian Jefferies, President of the Association of American Railroads, for today’s Coronavirus Report — I really wanted to help folks get a sense of the stability and dependability of a 140,000 mile freight rail network that is privately owned and keeps Americans and the products they want to buy, or the materials needed to produce those products, chugging to where they need to be. The rails story is mostly a good one, a hidden one, and I thought it deserved some attention. But that too has to be framed within the complex times we are in. I asked him how he, as a D.C.-based association chief, negotiated through these times where systemic racism is demanding attention and where there is such an intense struggle between political leaders with completely dichotomous views. Jefferies responded:  


Now more than ever, whether it’s working on issues around race and police brutality and related issues along those lines, or whether it’s about coronavirus response, we should be looking for ways to work together as one, because taking the lone path is not a way to success. And I think when we look in the mirror and we examine ourselves, we have more in common than we do different and to me they’re absolutely paths forwards that we can chart working as one.


Three months ago I would have logged this in a kumbaya file, but today the statement stands out for honesty and clarity as we have to get back to seeing a nation pulling together — and that means that those holding most of the power have to let others in.


– 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


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ICYMI: Catch up on last month’s programs


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On May 21, 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 May 20, 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 6,694,512 reported cases of coronavirus throughout the world and 392,940 people have died due to the virus as of the time of this newsletter. 


The U.S. is reporting 1,880,703 cases and 108,496 deaths. Brazil is reporting 614,941. Russia 449,256. U.K. 284,730. Spain 240,978. India 235,540. Italy 234,531. France 189,569. Germany 184,924. Peru 183,198. Turkey 167,410. Saudi Arabia 95,748. Canada 95,298. Pakistan 89,249. China 84,174. Qatar 65,495. South Africa 40,792. Colombia 35,240. Portugal 33,969. Switzerland 30,936. Egypt 29,767. Indonesia 29,521. Japan 16,958. South Korea 11,668. Serbia 11,667. 


Around the globe: 


> Australia’s prime minister is warning that protests could lead to infections.

> Mexico is beginning to reopen, but many worry it’s too soon.

> Japan is confident they will have a readily available vaccine by early 2021. 

> Spain has announced the reopening of its border with Portugal (without alerting Lisbon).


New York is reporting 376,208 cases. New Jersey 163,335. Illinois 124,759. California 123,066. Massachusetts 102,063. Pennsylvania 78,689. Florida 61,488. Michigan 58,241. Maryland 56,770. Indiana 36,578. Colorado 27,346. Tennessee 25,190. Arizona 24,332. Washington 22,729. Nebraska 15,139. New Mexico 8,353. 

And from The Hill’s Reid Wilson: 


> Arizona had its worst day yet on Tuesday, confirming 1,127 new cases. The death count has crossed 1,000.

> Florida had its worst day yet on Thursday, adding 1,419 cases. Total case count up to 60,175, and 2,606 have died.

> Georgia had its worst day in two weeks on Thursday, adding 817 new cases. 

> Hawaii has gone 47 days without a double-digit increase in the number of cases.

> Illinois recorded fewer than 1,000 new cases on Thursday for the first time since April 6.

> Iowa reported its worst day in two weeks, adding 567 new cases. A definite uptick happening there.

> Kentucky reported its worst day in a month on Thursday, adding 296 cases.

> New Mexico had its worst two days since early May, adding 224 cases on Tuesday and 213 cases on Thursday. Total of 8,353 cases there, and 383 deaths.

> North Carolina had its worst day yet on Thursday, adding 1,263 cases. Total of 32,276 in the state, and 993 have died.

> Tennessee had its worst day since May 1 on Tuesday, adding 1,256 new cases. Total of 25,374 cases in the state, and 401 have died.

> Texas has had its two worst days yet, on Tuesday and Thursday, adding 1,885 and 1,784 respectively. The state is now at 71,330 cases and 1,793 deaths. Texas has added more than 10,000 new cases this week.

> Vermont had its worst day yet on Thursday, adding 36 new cases. Total of 1,026, with 55 deaths.


The U.S. is reporting 18,680,529 coronavirus test results and 485,002 have reported full recoveries from COVID-19.


Fauci, task force sidelined with Trump all-in on reopening. The White House’s coronavirus task force has all but vanished from public view as President Trump pushes Americans to put the outbreak behind them and resume normal social and economic life. The last briefing was April 27, when Trump predicted the U.S. would suffer between 60,000 and 70,000 deaths from the outbreak. At least 108,000 people in America have died. (Bloomberg

CDC director says protesters should consider getting tested for coronavirus. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a House panel Thursday that demonstrators protesting racial injustice need to get tested for the coronavirus and that crowds at a Missouri tourist hot spot and the SpaceX launch showed that public health messages on masks and social distancing are not resonating with the public. (Washington Post)


Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) 

@RepMcCaul The U.S. gained 2.5 million jobs in May! This is great news and a sign that the #PPP did it’s job to keep small businesses afloat amid stay-at-home orders.


Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) 

@RepMikeLevin I’m glad the Senate passed the #PPP Flexibility Act that I voted for in the House last week, sending it to the President. This important change will help vulnerable small businesses gain more flexible access to the loan program.


Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) 

@MarioDB Despite the setback, our economy added 2.5M jobs last month. This is not only a sign of recovery, but of the resiliency of our great nation. We will come back stronger than before. #JobsReport


More than 1,000 coronavirus deaths reported in the past 24 hours; officials fear protests will drive up numbers. In a little over a week, Americans have gone from taking their first hesitant steps outside again to marching in tightly packed crowds in cities all over the country.  Any uncertainty about venturing out during the coronavirus pandemic has been seemingly put aside by many to protest police brutality after watching the video of George Floyd fatally pinned under an officer’s knee in Minneapolis. (CNN)


Gottlieb: Will likely take weeks to observe rise in cases from protests. There is “no question” that the coronavirus will spread among the George Floyd protesters filling the streets in cities across the U.S., but it will take a number of weeks to detect an uptick in cases, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. (CNBC

New Hampshire governor says sunbathing at state seacoast beaches is now allowed. Sunbathing and other traditional beach activities will be allowed immediately at state beaches on the seacoast, the governor announced in a press release Friday. (WMUR)

Broad coalition calls for safe reopening of American communities. A coalition of physicians, scientists, public health officials, economists and social scientists is calling for the responsible reopening of the American economy as part of a new movement to Restore American Communities Safely. The coalition seeks to communicate fact-driven and important information about the COVID-19 pandemic so the American public better understands the impact of the disease while supporting reasonable and safe measures to reopen American society, rehire American workers and restore confidence in our nation and our future. Learn more about the coalition here.


WHO: Pandemic not over until “there is no virus anywhere in the world.” Countries around the world that have eased restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus have begun to see upticks in infections, the World Health Organization said. “On upticks, yes we have seen in countries around the world — I’m not talking specifically about Europe — when the lockdowns ease, when the social distancing measures ease, people sometimes interpret this as ‘OK, it’s over,’ ” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva, according to Reuters. (CNBC)

Japan aims to have coronavirus vaccines in use by June 2021. Japan aims to put coronavirus vaccines into use by June 2021, the health minister said Friday, as the country strives to be fully ready to host the Tokyo Olympics, originally planned for this summer but postponed by one year due to the pandemic. Drugmakers around the world are scrambling to develop a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly infectious new coronavirus which has so far killed nearly 400,000 people worldwide. (Reuters)


Authors retract major COVID-19 paper on effects of hydroxychloroquine. A major study on the effects of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients was retracted from a leading medical journal Thursday after doctors and scientists raised questions about the validity of the data. (The Hill)

Blood pressure drugs linked to lower COVID-19 mortality, study shows. A new study revealed that widely used drugs to control high blood pressure may help protect against severe COVID-19. The study found patients taking any type of blood pressure drug had a lower risk of death from the virus than those who were not taking any medicine for hypertension. (CNBC)


J.C. Penney announces 154 stores set to close this summer. Bankrupted J.C. Penney announced Thursday the list of the 154 stores it plans to close this summer, with store closing sales kicking off June 12. It said it will announce additional closures in the coming weeks. Here’s the complete list of the 154 locations set to close, across more than two dozen states. (CNBC

Novavax’s stock soars after Pentagon contract to make its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Shares of Novavax Inc. soared 14 percent in premarket trading Friday, after the biotechnology company said it was awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense to manufacture its NVX‑CoV2373 COVID-19 vaccine candidate. (MarketWatch)


How the pandemic has changed the threat of violent extremism. The exploitation of social media is a burgeoning problem, domestically and internationally, that has been made worse by the pandemic. U.S. government security and intelligence entities should be fully funded and empowered to push back against ultra-nationalism and violent extremism, respecting legitimate privacy laws and rights. (William C. Danvers for The Hill

How to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases for New York. We cannot prevent a second wave until we identify asymptomatic carriers who might unknowingly spread the disease, while also identifying all those who can enter society with the lowest level of risk, or those who are virus negative and antibody positive. To avoid a second wave that could overwhelm our health care system, increase the death toll, and create further economic devastation, we must impose guidelines that protect the most vulnerable among us, while also relying heavily on testing to determine each individual’s infection risk level. (Sandra Gelbard for The Hill)


Kanye West donates $2 million, pays college tuition for George Floyd’s daughter. Kanye West has made a $2 million donation to support the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, a representative for West told CNN. (CNN

Americans rally to support black-owned business. Search #BlackedOwnedBusiness on Instagram or Twitter, and you’ll find hundreds of posts from people across the U.S. sharing their own lists of local, black-owned restaurants, bookstores, beauty brands and more. (CNBC)


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

> Steve interviews CDC Director ROBERT REDFIELD 

> Steve interviews US Surgeon General JEROME ADAMS 

> Steve interviews Rep. RO KHANNA (D-Calif.) 

> Steve interviews former Rep. JOHN DELANEY (D-Md.)

> Steve interviews Johns Hopkins Center for Healthy Security’s JENNIFER NUZZO 

> Steve interviews Rep. VAL DEMINGS (D-Fla.)  

> Steve interviews BIO President & CEO MICHELLE MCMURRY-HEATH 

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 Coronavirus Coronavirus Report Donald Trump John Delaney Kanye West Mario Diaz-Balart Michael McCaul mike levin Ro Khanna Steven Mnuchin Trump Val Demings

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