Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants $8.5 billion in emergency funds

Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants $8.5 billion in emergency funds
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Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump anti-reg push likely to end up in court Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE has tapped Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump marks Memorial Day at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Fort McHenry Pence commends Americans' 'great personal sacrifices' amid pandemic in Memorial Day op-ed Trump threatens to move GOP convention over North Carolina's coronavirus restrictions MORE to lead the coronavirus response. Trump made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday evening, when he addressed the coronavirus outbreak amid mounting pressure.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans say the administration's funding request for virus response is too low, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed another case in the U.S.

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We'll start with Trump...

 

Trump names Pence to lead coronavirus response

Don't call him a czar.

President Trump on Wednesday announced that Vice President Pence would lead the administration's coronavirus response, seeking to bolster public confidence after days of mixed messages from top officials.

Trump's comments in the White House briefing room Wednesday sought to change the course on what Democrats said was an inadequate response to the coronavirus, which has spread quickly across the globe.

"The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people," Trump said, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House's coronavirus task force.

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"We are ready to adapt if we have to, as the disease spreads, if it spreads," Trump said. "We're very, very ready for this," he added. 

Pence said his role would be work with the task force to bring the "best options for action" to the president and to "see to the safety and well-being and health of the American people." 

Read more here.

 

 

 

 

Trump says Pelosi creating panic

President Trump on Wednesday also accused Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWomen suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Crowds return during Memorial Day weekend Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies MORE (D-Calif.) of trying to create a panic over the coronavirus, hitting back after she said he didn't know what he was talking about on the subject.

"She's trying to create a panic," Trump told reporters in a rare appearance in the White House briefing room to discuss the virus, adding there was no reason for one.

Pelosi earlier on Wednesday said, "I don't think the president knows what he's talking about" when it comes to fighting the virus.

Trump hit back hard in an extended answer to a question from a reporter while standing alongside public health experts at a briefing on the virus.

"I think Speaker Pelosi's incompetent," he said, adding that he thinks Democrats will lose control of the House.

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"I think she's not thinking about the country," he added. "She should be saying we have to work together."

Trump also has criticized the media's coverage of the virus as overly negative as he seeks to reassure the public.

Read more here.

 

First possible case of virus spreading among general public in U.S.

Officials on Wednesday announced a new case of coronavirus in California that could be the first known instance in the United States of the virus spreading among the general public. 

Officials announced a case in California where the person did not have a travel history of going to places with the virus or known exposure to another person with the virus. 

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"At this time, the patient's exposure is unknown," the CDC said. "It's possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States. Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It's also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected."

If confirmed, it would be a major milestone if the virus were spreading in the United States among the general public, something that officials have warned is coming but that has so far not happened.

The case is the 15th in the United States, not counting those returned from a cruise ship abroad. 

Read more here.

 

Azar downplays chance Trump will appoint coronavirus czar

Throughout the day Wednesday, administration officials said they did not expect the White House to name a czar to lead the administration's coronavirus response.

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Alex Azar, who is leading the coronavirus response as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday the current arrangement is working "extremely well."

"I don't anticipate one," Azar said, in response to questioning from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) about whether Trump would name a czar.

"This is working extremely well. If it doesn't or there's a need for a change ... that would be for the president to decide."

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have called for Trump to re-establish the global health security team on the National Security Council, which was dismantled by former national security adviser John Bolton.

They say the administration should designate a public health expert to lead the response, and not leave it to Azar, who also has to run one of the government's largest agencies.

Read more here.

 

Schumer requesting $8.5 billion in emergency funding on coronavirus

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans MORE (D-N.Y.) is requesting $8.5 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus.  

Schumer unveiled the details of his funding request, which he also sent to the Appropriations Committee, arguing that Congress "must act swiftly" to confront the virus.

"This proposal brings desperately-needed resources to the global fight against coronavirus. Americans need to know that their government is prepared to handle the situation before coronavirus spreads to our communities. I urge the Congress to move quickly on this proposal. Time is of the essence," Schumer said in a statement on Wednesday.  

The spending request is more than three times the $2.5 billion requested by the Trump administration. Trump's request included $1.25 billion in new funding, with the rest to be taken from existing health programs.

Read more here.

 

More details about that money...

 

Trump administration to cut funds from health programs to pay for coronavirus response 

This should go over well with Democrats... The Trump administration will pay for the coronavirus response in part by cutting funds from other health programs, including one that pays for heating and cooling assistance for the poor. 

Of the $136 million the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to transfer from other health programs to bolster the coronavirus response, $37 million will come from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, according to a notice sent to Congress Tuesday night by the agency and obtained by The Hill. 

HHS will make several other transfers, including $63 million from the National Institutes of Health and $4.9 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which funds mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention.

The funding cuts are small compared to those programs' overall budgets, and HHS doesn't need congressional approval to transfer money. 

Read more here.

 

There's also been some GOP pushback...

 

McCarthy says White House coronavirus funding request 'a little low'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy yanks endorsement of California candidate over social media posts Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead MORE (R-Calif.) said Wednesday that President Trump's request for emergency funding to fight the coronavirus is "a little low."

"I think $2 billion is a little low, I think we're probably looking at $4 billion in this process, having spoken to Democrat House members from Appropriations," McCarthy told reporters. 

The White House earlier this week put forward a $2.5 billion request as the virus spreads around the world and officials warn of eventual spread in the U.S. Only half of the request was new money.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyTop Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump McConnell, GOP senators support exempting VA health funds from budget caps MORE (R-Ala.) on Tuesday said the White House request appeared to be a "lowball" and the final number would be "higher."

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, is calling for a much higher figure of $8.5 billion. 

Read more here.

 

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A non-virus moment from Azar's hearing:

Rep. Eliot Engle (D-N.Y.) told Azar he thinks that if President Trump asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes MORE (R-Ky.) to put the House Democratic drug pricing bill on the floor, he would. 

"I don't think so," Azar replied, laughing. 

(McConnell has called the bill "socialist.")

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office jumped on the exchange. 

"Why isn't President Trump able to get drug price negotiation through a Senate controlled by his own party?" they asked in an email to reporters. 

 

What we're reading

The US has started human testing of a drug to treat the novel coronavirus (CNN)

Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel Biden wins Hawaii primary Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden MORE's new favorite Medicare-for-all study, explained (Vox.com)

Why is Iran's reported mortality rate for coronavirus higher than in other countries? (NBC News

 

State by State

Cuomo asking for $40m to help combat Corona virus (WXXI News)

A health policy laboratory: Dems reshape health care in Colorado – and possibly the USA (Kaiser Health News)