The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump taking malaria drug; mayor eyes DC reopening

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!



Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 89,564. Tuesday, 90,369.



President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE is campaigning to persuade voters that his handling of the coronavirus is both trustworthy and effective. But on Monday, he triggered an avalanche of denouncements from some of the country’s leading medical specialists when he told  reporters that for a week and a half he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, which can trigger serious cardiac side effects, as a COVID-19 preventative.

 

The Food and Drug Administration warned the public last month against the decision Trump stubbornly boasted he made. But a White House physician said in a written statement that after “numerous discussions,” he and Trump decided that the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine, a powerful drug prescribed for lupus and malaria, outweigh risks. 

 

“I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this. When I announced this,” the president told reporters. “Yeah, I've taken it for one and a half weeks now. And I'm still here. I'm still here.” (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNRCC turns up heat on vulnerable Democrats over Omar's call to abolish police Shocking job numbers raise hopes for quicker recovery Engel primary challenger hits million in donations MORE (D-Calif.) says taking scientifically unproven hydroxychloroquine “not a good idea” for Trump in his “age group” and “morbidly obese...weight group.”

 

FiveThirtyEight: Trump, who will be 74 in a few weeks, is polling worse among older voters than he did in 2016.

 

Trump also needs support from female voters to win in November, but on Monday he said he’s glad Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump Pepper spray fired during Tiananmen Square memorial in Hong Kong The Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed MORE travels with his wife on business because Pompeo doesn’t have time to “wash dishes.”

 

His portrait of a Cabinet spouse on cleanup duty, rather than as a global “force multiplier,” which is how the secretary describes his wife, Susan, was not perceived as helpful to Trump or Pompeo, who is under fire for use of department staff for personal services, which the president suggested is acceptable.

 

"I'd rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there," Trump said in an attempt to tamp down accusations that Pompeo’s wife, who has no government assignment, is traveling the world on taxpayer funds.

  

Trump knows that voters in recent surveys place him behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination The Memo: Job numbers boost Trump and challenge Biden Chris Wallace: Jobs numbers show 'the political resilience of Donald Trump' MORE when it comes to being “honest and trustworthy,” and more than 52 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.   

 

What, then, is Trump doing?

 

He’s trying to firm up his base while heeding his own political soundings. A majority of Americans may frown on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, but more than 82 percent of Republicans applaud the job he’s doing in commanding the public health crisis.

 

CNBC: Stock market soars after promising report about potential COVID-19 vaccine in early human clinical trial.

 

The president, with his base in mind, continues to challenge former President Obama as a force he alleges was behind “Obamagate,” a catch-all phrase Trump wields to tug his predecessor into the 2020 election debate, along with Biden.

 

NBC News: Trump’s risky new reelection strategy: Wage war with Obama.

 

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters The failure of the other police officers to stop George Floyd's killing may be the biggest challenge 18 state attorneys general request authority to investigate local police MORE on Monday stole some of that thunder when he dismissed Trump’s attempts to paint the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by Obama, saying he expected no charges against either the 44th president or Biden as a result of an investigation Barr ordered into how their administration handled Russia’s election interference.

 

The New York Times reported that Barr’s comments threw cold water on efforts by Trump and his allies during his reelection bid to reframe the Russia investigation as a plot to sabotage his presidency. Trump targets Obama with zeal and political muscle memory, and his attacks open doors for his campaign to skewer Biden in a barrage of expensive ads.  

 

Obama is a powerful draw among Democrats, younger voters, voters of color and many independents, and he is making it clear that for the next five and a half months until Election Day, he is all-in to try to help Biden defeat Trump, Amie Parnes reports.

 

Trump heads to Michigan and a Ford ventilator assembly plant on Thursday, making another stop in a battleground state he sorely wants to win, along with Florida. Biden, however, is ahead of the president in hypothetical head-to-head matchups in Michigan (+5.5 points), Florida (+3.3), Pennsylvania (+6.5), Arizona (+4.4) and Wisconsin (+2.7), according to the RealClearPolitics average.  

 

As Niall Stanage writes, Trump enthused on Twitter when Michigan crowds bellowed at a local TV news journalist last week as they demonstrated in favor of reopening the state. Trump has challenged the stay-at-home orders, now easing, issued by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a potential vice presidential candidate. The president has relished opportunities to widen fissures in American politics in an increasingly dangerous way, Stanage adds.

 

The Hill: Trump threatens permanent freeze on World Health Organization funding absent “major” reforms within 30 days.

 

More politics: Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielThe Hill's Morning Report - DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump On The Trail: Crisis response puts Trump on defense, even in red states Trump huddles with campaign staff as polls show him trailing Biden MORE says the Republican National Convention scheduled Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C., will not be held in a virtual setting and that part of it, at least, will be held in person. 

 

“It’s quite a ways away, and there’s ample time for us to adjust, if necessary,” McDaniel said on Monday. “We will not be holding a virtual convention,” she added in response to a question about the Minnesota Republican Party holding an online convention (The Associated Press).

 

 

 



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LEADING THE DAY

STATE WATCH: The United States reports at least 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 this morning, out of more than 4.8 million around the world.

 

> Whitmer announced Michigan will begin a partial reopening of the northern parts of the state and the Upper Peninsula on Friday. The relaxing of restrictions will allow retail businesses and offices to reopen, along with bars and restaurants, which will be able to accommodate 50 percent of capacity (Detroit News). 

 

> Oregon: A circuit judge in Oregon on Monday tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, saying she didn’t seek the legislature’s approval to extend stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit. Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff ruled in a lawsuit filed this month by 10 churches that argued the state’s social-distancing directives were unconstitutional. In a seven-page opinion, Shirtcliff said the damage from the governor’s orders to Oregonians and their livelihoods was greater than the dangers presented by the coronavirus. The governor is seeking an emergency review by the Oregon Supreme Court and a hold on the ruling until the high court could take it up (The Associate Press).

 

> Texas, North Carolina and Arizona are among the states seeing rising numbers of coronavirus cases, intensifying concerns as they seek to reopen shuttered economies. Texas saw its largest one-day increase in cases on Saturday, adding more than 1,800 cases, while North Carolina also saw its largest single-day jump on Saturday with 853 new cases. As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports, it is unclear whether the rising case figures are directly related to the state reopenings or increased testing. 

 

> New York region: Western New York, including Buffalo, can open for business on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOvernight Healthcare: Fauci says coronavirus task force activity 'intense' despite decreased visibility These cities removed police officers over excessive force in George Floyd protests 57 Buffalo officers resign from Emergency Response Team after two cops suspended MORE (D) said on Monday. Cuomo said he is encouraging sports teams to reopen, albeit without fans. “Yes, I do want to watch the [Buffalo] Bills,” he added. Meanwhile, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut are slowly easing restrictions this week. Retail stores in the Garden State can offer curbside pickup of goods, and in tony Connecticut, retail and businesses can emerge from hibernation on Wednesday (with space restrictions), while batting cages, golf driving ranges, horse riding and private tennis clubs can open, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on Monday. Golfers will be allowed to play in foursomes, after previously being restricted to playing in pairs (The New York Times).

 

The Hill: New Jersey phased reopening plan but no timeline.

 

> Virginia: If you live in or near the Commonwealth, this is a big headline: Virginia Beach will open Friday for recreation, with certain restrictions tied to social distancing, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on Monday (WTOP). If the beach is mobbed or visitors violate bans on beach tents and umbrellas bunched together, the governor said he will reverse course and shut down the beach.

 

> Georgia: Air travel! Primarily from hubs in Atlanta and New York and between hubs, Delta will expand some of its major routes for domestic and international commercial flights beginning in June (Reuters).  

 

> Washington, D.C.: The spread of COVID-19 across Washington, D.C., has declined for eight days and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that officials will evaluate a scheduled reopening date. Bowser made the remarks during a budget presentation and indicated that she is still looking for a 14-day decline overall. Last week, the mayor extended the district’s stay-at-home order until June 8 (The Hill). 

 

 

 

 

***

CONGRESS: The Trump administration and Congress are eager to get the country back to work and return to normalcy despite the COVID-19 outbreak, but some lawmakers are worried that a boost to unemployment benefits in the CARES Act could disincentivize people from returning to work right away. 

 

As The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda writes, the $2.2 trillion package passed in March adds $600 per week to unemployment benefits through the end of July as lawmakers sought to give aid to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, with 36.5 million having filed unemployment claims as of May 9. 

 

However, with potential negotiations on hold on a CARES 2 package, Democrats are eager to extend those benefits to provide more relief to Americans, but Republicans are not and have started to air concerns that an extension could be detrimental to the economy. 

 

“Calls from Democrats to extend unemployment ‘bonuses’ will kill small businesses and make long-term unemployment much worse,” Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseGraham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over Clyburn: Cowed GOP ascribes 'mystical powers' to Trump Trump pushes back against GOP senators' criticism of dispersal of protesters in Lafayette Square: 'You got it wrong' MORE (R-Neb.) said in a statement. “Everyone wants to help workers who lost their jobs, but we shouldn’t make it impossible for small businesses to hire again by pitting them against a crummy government system that makes not working pay more than working.”

 

Elsewhere, lawmakers are also mulling changes to the small-business loan program that was set up to provide aid to businesses adversely affected by the virus. 

 

While Congress weighs another coronavirus relief package, senators are floating a myriad of potential “fixes” to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to Jordain Carney. Among those are expanding the length of the loan or nixing restrictions on how businesses spend the money. 

 

Companies and small businesses that received a PPP loan had until Monday to decide whether to keep the money and deal with all the restrictions that came attached (The Hill).

 

The Hill: House GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting.

 

The Washington Post: As White House pushes firms to reopen, new report says much of bailout stimulus money remains unspent.

 

> Rubio rising: Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOn The Trail: Crisis response puts Trump on defense, even in red states If we seek resilience, we need liberty, not nationalism GOP senator blocks bill giving flexibility to small-business loans but says deal near MORE (R-Fla.) was tapped on Monday to take over atop the Senate Intelligence Committee until the federal investigation into stock sales by Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTrump asserts his power over Republicans FISA 'reform': Groundhog Day edition Rubio: Coronavirus conspiracy theories could be used in foreign election misinformation campaigns MORE’s (R-N.C.) is complete. 

 

Rubio was second in line for the position behind Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischDemocrat Paulette Jordan to face incumbent Jim Risch in Idaho Senate race Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation MORE (R-Idaho), who will instead remain the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: US Park Police say 'tear gas' statements were 'mistake' | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump juggles three crises ahead of November election Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats MORE (R-Ky.) lauded the Florida Republican, saying he was the “natural choice” for the position and that his “proven leadership on pertinent issues only made the decision easier.”

 

Burr stepped aside temporarily from his perch atop the committee shortly after news emerged that the FBI seized his cellphone amid an investigation into his selloff of $1.72 million worth of stocks in early February. His decision to sell came after senators received closed-door briefings on the national threat posed by the coronavirus, before most Americans were warned about the potential economic fallout of the pandemic (The Hill).

 

> IGs: Lawmakers are under pressure to respond as the Trump administration continues to remove inspectors general from key departments over reports or investigations that have created problems for the president and administration officials. 

 

The president’s decision to dismiss Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general (IG), drew a swift rebuke from Democrats, saying that Linick was investigating Pompeo’s possible misuse of taxpayer funds. It also brought responses from Republicans who were skeptical that there was legitimate reason to make the move. 

 

In a letter to Trump, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump CBO releases analysis on extending increased unemployment benefits MORE (R-Iowa) called for an explanation for Linick’s dismissal, which by law the president is required to detail. The most senior Senate Republican warned that inspectors general “should be free from partisan political interference, from either the Executive or Legislative branch,” and asked Trump to “provide a detailed reasoning” for the removal no later than June 1 (The Hill). Other GOP senators, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump GOP Sen. Murkowski 'struggling' with whether to vote for Trump MORE of Maine and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyEx-Joint Chiefs chairman: Trump threat to use military on protesters 'very dangerous' Ex-Defense secretary criticizes Trump for using military for 'partisan political purposes' Biden: Probably '10 to 15 percent' of Americans 'are just not very good people' MORE of Utah, have expressed concerns about Trump’s actions via Twitter.

 

However, some Republicans gave more deference to the administration. Risch, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said in a statement that it is “the president's prerogative and within his authority” to make decisions of this kind (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Pompeo says he asked Trump to fire a department watchdog for “undermining” the State Department.

 

The Hill: Trump says investigation into Pompeo shows “screwed up” priorities.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INTERNATIONAL: Germany and France proposed a 500 billion-euro ($543 billion) fund on Monday in a push to boost recovery efforts of European nations that have been hit hard economically by COVID-19.

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronPresidents and 'presidents' Trump postpones G-7, plans to invite Russia, other nations German chancellor says she 'cannot confirm' she'll attend possible G7 summit MORE said in a joint statement that the fund would be used to aid sectors that have been damaged by the pandemic. Under the proposal, according to Macron, EU nations would use their collective weight to borrow money on financial markets, but it remains to be seen if all 27 countries would sign on to create the fund (The Associated Press).

 

Reuters: Euro, Italian bonds cheer EU recovery fund plan.

 

 

 

 

> Spain: Spain hopes to reopen its borders toward the end of June as the government continues to roll back lockdown restrictions, according to the Spanish transportation minister. 

 

The bid to reopen travel comes as the daily death toll continues to fall, with newly-reported deaths registering under 100 for a second day in a row. Last week, Spain imposed a two-week quarantine for all those visiting the country, but the move is expected to be temporary, according to Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos (Reuters).

 

> United Kingdom: Unemployment claims in Great Britain increased by 69 percent in April as the coronavirus outbreak took its toll on the nation’s economy. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that claims jumped by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April compared to the month before.

 

 “In March, employment held up well, as furloughed workers still count as employed, but hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction,″ said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS (The Associated Press). The new unemployment figure is the highest registered since July 1996 (Reuters).



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!



OPINION

Adding to Dr. Fauci's diagnosis: The critical case for ending our shutdown, by Scott W. Atlas, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3cV4qlS 

 

Signs of rebirth are everywhere. They are simultaneously scary and wonderful, by Henry Olsen, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3bDtWuE 



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet in a pro forma session at 10:30 a.m.

 

The Senate will meet 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the nomination Scott Rash to be a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona

 

The president delivers remarks about farmers, ranchers and food supply chains. Trump will hold an afternoon Cabinet meeting.

 

The Geneva-based World Health Organization holds its second of two days of a virtual meeting of its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly today

 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner Mnuchin 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 signs bill giving businesses more time to spend coronavirus loans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million MORE and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell are scheduled to testify via remote hookup at 10 a.m. to the Senate Banking Committee about the implementation and impact of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus enacted in March. A quarterly report to Congress is required by law.  

 

INVITATION to The Hill’s national virtual summit on Thursday at 11 a.m., “Advancing the American Economy,” with Mnuchin discussing his economic outlook with Editor in Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead On The Money: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of needing another COVID-19 relief bill | 2.4 million more Americans file new jobless claims | Top bank regulator abruptly announces resignation Overnight Health Care: Trump says US won't close over second COVID-19 wave | Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of needing another COVID-19 relief bill | Why the US has the most reported coronavirus cases in the world MORE. The interview will be followed by an afternoon of discussions with leading CEOs and national health experts. Additional speakers will be announced. Register Now!   

 

INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live event on Wednesday at 1 p.m., “The Vir[tech]ual World Ahead”: Explore lessons from a new digital reality, including increased reliance on telecommunication networks and an accelerated digitalization of industries. How should policymakers approach coverage, access, affordability and capacity? Rep. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneExpanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal MORE (D-Wash.), a former software tech entrepreneur who spent a dozen years working at Microsoft; Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O'Rielly and others will talk with The Hill’s Steve Clemons, editor-at-large. RSVP today

 

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report has updates and exclusive video interviews with policymakers emailed each day. Sign up HERE!

 

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.



ELSEWHERE

Technology: Uber is laying off an additional 3,000 employees as use of the ride-sharing app has fallen due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company made the announcement on Monday after having already laid off 3,700 workers in customer support and recruiting positions, with 25 percent of its staff losing jobs since the start of May. Uber also announced that it is closing 40 offices worldwide and changing operations in other ways to cut costs (The Hill).

 

Siren: Ambulance companies are on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus, but many are struggling financially. They only get paid when they transport someone to the hospital, and increasingly those in need of medical care see the hospital as a sure way to get COVID-19 (The Hill).  

 

Education: The University of Notre Dame announced Monday that it will start its fall semester on Aug. 10, two weeks earlier than normal, and wrap up by Thanksgiving due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school also released testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation plans, along with social distancing and mask mandates (The Hill).

 

➔ Sports: Professional Bull Riders announced on Monday plans for an early July competition in South Dakota that could be the first sporting event to allow fans to be present. According to event organizers, face coverings would be provided to all fans and seats would be spaced 4 to 6 feet apart, while social distancing guidelines would be enforced upon entry and exit from the venue (The Associated Press). … Governors are warming to the idea of the return of pro sports (The Associated Press).



THE CLOSER

And finally … It’s tough in a nation with more than 90,000 COVID-19 fatalities to imagine it could be worse. Much, much worse. People in this country’s 30 largest cities are alive today because of strict stay-at-home orders issued by local and state governments, which put everything from commercial work to sports and entertainment events, schools and churches on prolonged pause, according to a new study. 

 

Researchers say nearly 250,000 people in the United States who might otherwise have contracted and potentially succumbed to the coronavirus have been spared as of mid-May.

 

The report, from Philadelphia’s Urban Health Collaborative at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, found the lockdown orders likely reduced the number of coronavirus deaths by 232,878 and prevented 2.1 million people from requiring hospitalization.

 

“What we really wanted to do was to say this matters. Doing nothing is in fact doing something," Jennifer Kolker, associate dean for public health practice at the Dornsife School, told The Hill’s Reid Wilson. “We really wanted to give city leaders the opportunity to say to their residents and their jurisdictions, 'Hey folks, look what you did, you saved lives, you kept people out of the hospital.’”

 

Even in hard-hit New York City, where tens of thousands of people have died, the death toll could have been higher. Under the city's stay-at-home order, issued by Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioMedia executives, personalities eyeing possible run for New York City mayor NYT editorial board tells de Blasio to 'open your eyes, the police are out of control' Minneapolis, other cities consider cuts to police budgets MORE (D) on March 23, the researchers found 24,062 lives were saved and nearly a quarter-million people who might have been hospitalized were not.

 

In Los Angeles County, where a stay-at-home order took effect March 19, almost 40,000 lives were saved compared to what was projected under worst-case scenarios. More than 8,800 lives have been saved in King County, Wash., the epicenter of one of the first big coronavirus outbreaks. Philadelphia's stay-at-home order saved 6,202 lives, the analysis found, and Chicago's order has saved 10,635 lives (The Hill).

 

A separate study conducted in France and released last month found that the country’s lockdown was a lifesaver. A report, produced by the French School of Public Health, estimated at least 60,000 people are alive who might have died from COVID-19 if not forced to remain home (The New York Daily News).