The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs off Easter goal

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President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April and predicted that the number of confirmed cases and deaths would peak in two weeks as the administration looks to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 


The president’s announcement came as the virus continues to spread at a breakneck pace, with the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. eclipsing 139,000 and Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSchools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning Fauci: Coronavirus pandemic showed 'undeniable effects of racism in our society' Fauci: Vaccinated people become 'dead ends' for the coronavirus MORE, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, predicting that millions would contract the virus and that the death toll could reach 100,000 (The Hill).


“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the war is won,” Trump said at a press conference in the Rose Garden on Sunday. “That would be the greatest loss of all.”


The guidelines, which urge individuals to avoid restaurants and bars, cancel nonessential travel, and limit in-person gatherings to 10 people or fewer, were set to expire on Tuesday. Previously, the president indicated hopes to reopen the country and the economy on Easter, April 12. However, he backed off that previous call on Sunday, saying that the initial date was purely “aspirational.” His decision also received the support of Fauci, who called it “wise and prudent.”


“We feel that the mitigation that we’re doing right now is having an effect, it’s very difficult to quantitate it because you have two dynamic things going on at the same time,” Fauci said at the press conference. “You have the virus going up and you have the mitigation trying to push it down.”


According to the latest statistics, there are 143,055 positive cases of COVID-19 and 2,513 deaths in the U.S. 4,865 have recovered. 


At the press conference, Fauci stood by his prediction that at least 100,000 Americans, and potentially upwards of 200,000, could succumb to the virus, citing modeling for the figures. 


The Sunday Shows: New coronavirus projections, quarantine talk dominate.


The New York Times: Trump administration says more than 894,000 tests have been performed in U.S.


The Washington Post: “Body bags all over:” Trump beats a retreat on opening country as coronavirus data, images show dark reality.


As The Hill’s Reid Wilson writes, the challenges facing the U.S. will quantify this week as some hospitals are expected to reach maximum capacity, case counts will rise exponentially, and the number of available ventilators and beds in intensive care units will plummet. 


According to models and projections, April will be a public health catastrophe unlike anything in modern memory, as tens of thousands of Americans are likely to die from the coronavirus in the coming weeks, a consequence of American leaders failing to heed the lessons learned in other countries about the value and success of taking drastic steps. New York already has nearly 60,000 cases, and officials worry they will soon see new clusters multiply across major cities. 


“No state, no metro area will be spared, and the sooner we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they put in full mitigation, at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward together and protect the most Americans,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. 


Given the month ahead, Trump told reporters that he will not exempt any part of the U.S. from the social distancing guidelines, including some rural states and parts of the nation that have not been hit nearly as hard by the virus, noting that Fauci and Birx did not think it was a good idea. 


The New York Times: The lost month: How a failure to test blinded the U.S. to COVID-19. 


The Associated Press: Relief package billions can’t buy hospitals out of shortages.


CNBC: Cigna and Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs.


Ross Douthat, The New York Times: Rational panic, but also rational hope.


On Capitol Hill, while Congress is out of town for the coming weeks after passing the $2.2 trillion stimulus package, lawmakers are discussing the potential for a fourth coronavirus-related package. As Alexander Bolton writes, businesses, trade associations and state governments are already jockeying for more federal relief, saying the most recent package is a good “first step” but not enough to keep the economy on track if the coronavirus crisis extends beyond the end of April.


“I think the odds are we’ll need more legislation. First, we don’t know the extent of the crisis in terms of the magnitude, so that could rise. But there are going to be problems that we don’t realize now that we’re going to have to grapple with,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said. “So I think the odds are high there will be a Covid-4,” he added, referring to the anticipated next bill.


The Hill: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySunday shows - Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate Kinzinger: 'I would love to move on' from Trump but he is the leader of the GOP Cheney: I can't ignore Trump because he 'continues to be a real danger' MORE (R-Calif.) says fourth stimulus bill might not be necessary.


The Hill: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus.


The New York Times: Liberty University brings back its students, and coronavirus, too.


The Hill: Capitol Police officer tests positive for coronavirus.





CORONAVIRUS & STATES: Governors continued to pressure the federal government for medical equipment increases as they struggle to control the spread of the virus and some cities fear that they could be the second coming of New York City. 


In cities such as New Orleans and Detroit, there are fears that the number of confirmed cases could be on the verge of exploding, with those cities and states fearful that they do not have adequate amounts of masks, ventilators and other items to deal with the impending surge of cases. 


“We knew it was a matter of time, not if, COVID-19 would come to Michigan,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) told “Meet the Press,” warning that some hospitals in the state are “already at capacity” and that personal protective equipment is running low. The state received 112,000 N95 masks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday, adding that they are grateful for the shipment. However, the worst has yet to come, she said (The Hill).


“But you know, we're going to be in dire straits again in a matter of days,” Whitmer said. “And so we're keeping up the pressure and working 24/7 at the state level and grateful that there are people who are doing that at the federal level as well.” “But this is not something that we should be fighting each other on.”


The Hill: Michigan state lawmaker dies of suspected coronavirus infection.


The Washington Post: As Trump declared virus under control, local leaders faced confusion, chaos as cases piled up.


In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Sunday afternoon that the “stay-at-home” order could be extended past April 13 and warned that the state has far fewer ventilators than it needs to deal with the crisis in a state emerging as a hot spot for the virus. 


"We now think we may be out of ventilator capacity by April 4 or 5 and beds by April 10," Edwards said at the Sunday press conference. "My expectation is the next time (the feds) make an allocation of ventilators they cut a slice for Louisiana” (Monroe News-Star).


Edwards held the press conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where he said more than 1,000 hospital beds will be ready within a week for patients, just as New York has done with the Javits Center in Manhattan. Edwards added that the state has ordered 12,000 ventilators and received only 192 so far, with none of those that have arrived coming from the federal stockpile.





Meanwhile, New York remains the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., after the president backed off his initial plan to implement a quarantine over the New York region, an idea that was shot down by New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoSix NY county executives call on Cuomo to update state's mask mandate in line with CDC guidance CDC's about-face on masks appears politically motivated to help a struggling Biden Cuomo accuser blasts governor's 'Trumpian gaslighting' over harassment allegations MORE (D) and other officials. 


As of Sunday afternoon, New York had 59,513 confirmed cases, including 33,768 in New York City, with the number of deaths statewide surpassing 1,000. The total rose by 272 from the day before, representing the biggest single uptick of deaths in the state.


“This is not going to get better soon,” Cuomo said, noting that COVID-19 is moving like “fire through dry grass” across nursing homes and assisted living facilities.


“I don’t think there’s any way to look at those numbers, without seeing thousands of people pass away,” Cuomo said (The New York Times).


On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioJeffries endorses Wiley in New York mayor's race NYPD launches investigation after multiple people slashed on subway Yang: 'Defund the police is the wrong approach for New York City' MORE (D) pressed the administration to deliver 400 more ventilators to city hospitals, warning once again that America’s most populous city will run out of key hospital supplies in one week without reinforcements.


The Washington Post: Cuomo during the COVID-19 crisis is the same as ever, with one big difference: People like him.


The Hill: New Yorkers who break social distancing rules subject to fines of up to $500.


The New York Times: Coronavirus slowdown in Seattle suggests restrictions are working.


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CORONAVIRUS & INTERNATIONAL: The virus continued to take its toll across the world as European nations continued to see rises in confirmed cases, deaths and concerns about the dwindling space at hospitals in various nations.


In Spain, the lockdown was expanded on Sunday to bar nonessential work as the total number of deaths eclipsed 6,600, with the death toll at 840 on Sunday alone, a daily record. The confirmed cases sit at 78,799, the fourth most of any country, as Spain’s capability to handle the number of cases nears a breaking point. According to Health Ministry spokesman Fernando Simón, hospitals and intensive care units have hit their limits in multiple areas (Reuters).


“It seems the evolution has stabilized and could even be starting to fall, but the fundamental problem now is to ensure that our ICUs aren’t saturated,” Simón said. 


Meanwhile, Italian officials are hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel as just more than 5,200 new cases were reported on Sunday, the lowest amount in four days. The total number of confirmed cases sits at 97,698. 


However, the country reported 750 more deaths on Sunday, with the national total reaching 10,779 — the most of any nation. Luca Richeldi, an Italian government medical adviser, told reporters on Sunday that the death toll is still enough of a reason to “be even stricter.”


“We must be even more determined in complying with the measures,” Richeldi said (Bloomberg). 


As of Monday morning, there were 724,945 confirmed cases of the virus and 34,041 deaths worldwide. Nearly 153,000 individuals have recovered from COVID-19.


Across the globe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to his nation of 1.3 billion for the universal lockdown that has stymied work and has caused major issues for the poor. According to The Associated Press, tens of thousands in New Delhi were forced to flee their homes and travel back to their native villages as they struggle to pay rent.


“I apologize for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people,” Modi said in his monthly address, broadcast by state radio. “I know some of you will be angry with me. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle” (ABC News).





In Russia, the borders closed today as Moscow issued a city-wide quarantine, requiring individuals to have a special pass to leave their homes that will be handed out by the government (Fox News). 


In nearby Poland, there are mounting calls for the nation to postpone the May 10 presidential election. According to the Financial Times, Malgorzata Kidawa-Blońska, the main opposition candidate, suspended her campaign and called on voters to boycott the election due to the virus.


The Associated Press: Tokyo’s infection spike after Olympic delay sparks questions.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Why some people can't avoid mass gathering — detention, by Amy Zeidan, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2wAuZND 


Germany Has Relatively Few Deaths From Coronavirus. Why? By Anna Sauerbrey, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2Jl1zpt 


The House meets at 3 p.m. on Tuesday for a pro forma session.


The Senate will convene in a pro forma session at 11 a.m. Votes are not scheduled until April 20. 


The president has lunch with Vice President Pence at 1 p.m. The coronavirus task force will brief the press at 5 p.m. Trump will also appear on “Fox and Friends” at 7:55 a.m.


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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


Resources for small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak


We know it's a challenging time for small businesses. To help, Facebook set up a resource hub with information, from how to set up a customer service plan to experimenting with online events.


Visit our new Business Resource Hub for more.


More virus: Revered country folk artist John Prine is in critical condition after contracting the virus, according to his family. Prine’s family said in a statement that the longtime artist was hospitalized and put on a ventilator on Saturday as his care continues. "This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now,” the statement read (Rolling Stone).





Labor: The coronavirus’s impact on the business of groceries is leading toward a potential strike by Instacart workers as they worry about their safety amid a rise in consumers ordering their groceries online and having them delivered. Gig Workers Collective is calling for a nationwide walk-out of workers on Monday as they push for Instacart workers to be given hazard pay and protective gear. The grocery delivery giant said Sunday that workers will be given new hand sanitizer upon request and detailed updates to tipping, but the changes might not be enough (The Associated Press). 


Performance: Award winning artists Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will hold a primetime live concert on Wednesday night as top musicians continue to play their tunes for fans practicing  to social distancing. The show will be a second for the country couple as they held one last week for millions of viewers over Facebook Live, which crashed multiple times. CBS will air the show and said in a press release that the show will be “an intimate concert for viewers looking for the comfort and shared joy of music during this difficult time.” It will start at 9 p.m. ET (The Associated Press).


And finally …  Some good news — literally. Actor John Krasinski, best known for his starring role in “The Office,” launched a web show, “Some Good News,” on YouTube on Monday in an effort to highlight positive developments these days as the news turns more and more grim. Krasinski came up with the idea for the show after he posted a tweet last week asking for people to send him what he’s been in search of: good news.


"For years now, I've been wondering, why is there not a news show dedicated entirely to good news? Well, desperately seeking my fix somewhere else, I reached out to all of you this week, asking — nay, begging — for some good news. And boy, did you deliver,” Krasinski said. “After reading those replies and the incredibly heartwarming stories that came with them, I thought, 'All right. Enough is enough, world. Why not us? Why not now?' So, ladies and gentleman, this is your fault, and this is SGN. I'm John Krasinski, and if it isn't clear yet, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing."


Krasinski’s first guest was his old “boss,” Steve Carell (The Hollywood Reporter).