Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs $2T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing

Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs $2T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing
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Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. It's been a long week on the coronavirus front, and Friday was jam-packed with developments as well, from President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE signing a massive response bill to possible new problems with testing and Trump invoking the Defense Production Act on GM. 

But we'll start with some troubling numbers.



US coronavirus cases hit 100,000

The United States now has more than 100,000 known cases of coronavirus, passing a new milestone, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker

The mark comes shortly after the United States this week moved into first place in the world, passing China and Italy, in the number of known cases. 

The outbreak is expected to only get worse in the coming days and weeks, as the upward trajectory continues. The U.S. is now adding more than 14,000 new cases per day, according to The New York Times tracker, a number that has continued to rise. 

More on the numbers here.


Ex-FDA commissioner says US coronavirus epidemic likely to be national


Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President Trump's former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, is warning that the coronavirus epidemic in the United States is "likely to be national in scope."

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, likewise warned at a briefing on Thursday that the Detroit and Chicago areas are emerging as hot spots. 

The prevalence of the virus in multiple areas across the U.S. is concerning to experts, though, given that China was able to contain the worst of the outbreak to one province, Hubei, where the virus began, though it still had to deal with cases elsewhere.

"China had a bonfire in Hubei but was stamping out sparks everywhere else," tweeted Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. "We've now got a bonfire in NYC and campfires almost everywhere else - and all still shooting out sparks."

Read more here.



It's finally happening... Trump uses Defense Production Act to direct GM to make ventilators

What a saga it's been on the Defense Production Act, with Trump resisting pressure for days, only to finally invoke the law on Friday against GM. 

The president in a statement said the federal government had abandoned negotiations with the automaker on ventilator production, complaining that the automaker was "wasting time."

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course," Trump said.

The president turned his ire on the automaker earlier Friday, singling out CEO Mary Barra for criticism.

"As usual with 'this' General Motors, things just never seem to work out," Trump tweeted. "They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, 'very quickly'. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B."


Flashback: On Sunday, Trump had rejected the idea of using the Act, comparing it to Venezuelan socialism and "nationalizing" a country. 

Pressure: But there had been increasing pressure from governors and hospitals calling on Trump to use the Act to make urgently needed ventilators. 

Read more on Trump's move here


And there's a production coordinator to oversee the efforts

Trump said Friday that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro would become the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator for the federal government as the administration seeks to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump made the announcement at an afternoon press conference at the White House, saying he gave Navarro the new authorities when he signed an executive order earlier that day.


"My order establishes that Peter will serve as national Defense Production Act policy coordinator for the federal government," Trump told reporters.

Remember: Navarro, one of the driving forces behind Trump's protectionist trade agenda, has clashed with automakers over tariffs.

Read more on Navarro here.

Praise from unexpected quarters: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE congratulated President Trump for implementing the Defense Production Act on Friday


Trump signs $2T coronavirus relief package

That's a big number! 


President Trump on Friday signed the $2 trillion bipartisan relief package. 

Some highlights of the bill:

  • $1,200 one-time payments to many Americans
  • $500 billion corporate liquidity fund to help struggling industries like airlines
  • $377 billion for aid to small businesses
  • Increase in maximum unemployment benefits by $600 per week for four months

Read more here on the package.


There was some drama in the House first, though. 

House lawmakers were forced to scramble back to Washington Friday over concerns a conservative lawmaker objecting to the legislation, Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas GOP lawmaker praises Kyle Rittenhouse's 'restraint' for not emptying magazine during shooting MORE (R-Ky.), would force a roll call vote.

The president lashed out at Massie in a tweet on Friday morning before the vote, calling him a "third rate grandstander" and accusing him of needlessly delaying its passage.


Here's a look back at a dramatic day in the House...

House leadership advises members to return to DC as Massie weighs roll-call vote on stimulus package

Democratic leaders say $2 trillion stimulus will pass House on Friday

Lawmakers highlight flights back to DC for huge coronavirus vote

Democrat refuses to yield House floor, underscoring tensions on coronavirus vote

Massie says he'll force roll-call vote

Trump blasts conservative lawmaker over opposition to relief package: 'Third rate grandstander'

Conservative lawmakers tell Trump to 'back off' attacks on GOP colleague

House passes $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, with Trump to sign quickly


Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House signing

Trump declined to invite Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump predicts GOP will win the House Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | On The Money: Pelosi cites progress, but says COVID-19 relief deal might be post-election | Eviction crisis sparked by pandemic disproportionately hits minorities | Weekly jobless claims fall to 787K MORE (D-Calif.) and other Democrats to the White House ceremony where he signed the historic $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package passed earlier in the day by the House, aides said.

Friday's snub marked just the latest twist in a long-running feud between the Republican president and the Democratic Speaker of the House.

A serious feud: Aides said, Trump and Pelosi have not spoken to each other since Oct. 16, when she and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFive takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) walked out of a heated meeting with Trump after he reportedly insulted her as a "third-rate politician."

Read more here.


Another lawmaker tests positive

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test Chamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-S.C.) announced Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The freshman lawmaker went into self-quarantine starting March 19 after learning he had been in contact with a member of Congress who had tested positive for COVID-19. Cunningham got tested Thursday, with the positive result coming back Friday.

"While my symptoms have begun to improve, I will remain at home until I know it is safe to leave self-quarantine," Cunningham said in the statement, adding he will continue to tele-work from home.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Congress: The Hill is keeping a running list of lawmakers who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Click here for the latest.


More from Congress

GOP lawmaker: US will see improvement on virus 'in a couple of weeks'

Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House



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In the states...

Earlier in the day...Cuomo pushes back on Trump over ventilators

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday pushed back on President Trump's assertion that his state does not really need thousands more ventilators to fight the coronavirus outbreak there, saying "I operate on facts."

"Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but I don't operate here on opinion, I operate on facts and on data and on numbers and on projections," Cuomo said when asked about Trump's comments the previous night.

Trump, speaking to Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityBiden: Johnson should be 'ashamed' for suggesting family profited from their name Trafalgar chief pollster predicts Trump victory: Polls 'predominantly missing the hidden vote' Trump, Biden dial up efforts to boost early voter turnout in Florida MORE, questioned whether the state, which is at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, really needed 30,000 more ventilators, which Cuomo has been pleading for from the Trump administration.

"I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," Trump said. "You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they'll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?' "

Later in the day, Cuomo tweeted he was "relieved" Trump invoked the act.  

Read more here.


Trump digs in over fight with Democratic governors

on Friday blasted Democratic governors in Washington and Michigan for criticizing the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, bemoaning that they had not offered appreciation for his efforts.

The president has repeatedly suggested that states should take the leading role in acquiring needed materials to respond to the virus, and on Friday he singled out two governors who have been outspoken in calling on the federal government to do more to facilitate the response: Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOn The Trail: A third coronavirus wave builds just before Election Day Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Pandemic politics dominate competitive governor's races MORE (D-Wash.) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.).

Trump derided Inslee as a "failed presidential candidate" who is "constantly chirping." He told reporters Whitmer "has no idea what's going on" and asserted his administration has "taken such great care of Michigan."

Asked what specifically governors could be doing to assuage his concerns, Trump said he expected gratitude for what's been done so far.

"I want them to be appreciative. I don't want them to say things that aren't true," he said.

Read more here.


More on the states and cities on the frontlines

Cuomo to ask Trump to authorize four more temporary hospitals

Cuomo calls on National Guard to 'kick coronavirus ass'

California Gov. Newsom declares statewide moratorium on evictions for renters hit by coronavirus

Florida governor announces mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling from Louisiana

Massachusetts governor instructs all travelers to self-quarantine

Member of DC mayor's staff dies from coronavirus

Trump grants major disaster declaration for state of Maryland

Detroit health system warns coronavirus treatment may be stopped if patients 'do not improve' 


A new problem that could slow down testing: reagents

Public health officials are warning that a massive ramp-up in the number of tests for the coronavirus coupled with disruptions to the global supply chain are creating new shortages of some of the chemicals needed to process those tests.

The result could be a catastrophe that would grind progress fighting the virus to a halt.

The chemicals, known as reagents, are used in different elements of different tests. They are substances or compounds added to a bodily sample, like a nasal or throat swab. If the virus is present, the reagent will create a chemical reaction that a diagnostic machine can detect.

Different tests use different chemicals to elicit those reactions, but no matter which chemicals they use, without reagents tests cannot be processed. 

If the states and cities that are so rapidly increasing their capacity to test for the coronavirus run out of the reagents they need, the testing process would come to a complete halt.

Read more here.


Coronavirus outbreak raises threats to mental health

Suicide hotlines across the country are reporting new increases in the number of calls they are fielding since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak and new social distancing requirements that are keeping people apart.

The calls are just one piece of a growing mental health crisis that has come with the fear of a global pandemic.

People have been isolated due to social distancing polices meant to slow the virus's spread, which has contributed to an already existing trend of increased loneliness in the population that had led to its own epidemic of early death across the country.

In Boston, a help line run by the nonprofit group Samaritans said it received about 350 calls a day over the last week, a hundred more calls than are typical on a given day. A spokeswoman at the national Crisis Text Line told the Boston Globe they handled 6,000 conversations last week, about twice as many as usual.

Reid Wilson has more here on an issue health advocates worry is being overlooked.


More from The Hill:

Trump's coronavirus advice to kids: 'You have a duty' to wash your hands, stay home

Army Corps of Engineers eyes 114 sites to convert to hospitals in coronavirus fight

EPA relaxes rules regarding gasoline sales amid coronavirus outbreak

Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill

Stocks cut gains after rallying through coronavirus fears

Disneyland and Disney World closed until further notice

House Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus

Lawmakers propose waiving travel fees for coronavirus evacuations abroad

Pope Francis delivers special prayer for end to coronavirus pandemic

ESPN's Herbstreit: 'I'll be shocked' if we have NFL, college football this fall

Apple launches coronavirus screening website, app

Navy hospital ship arrives in Los Angeles

Italy tops 9,000 coronavirus deaths after reporting 919 fatalities in one day

Trump speaks with Boris Johnson after UK leader tests positive for virus


What we're reading

Where the U.S. Stands Now on Coronavirus Testing (New York Times)

The next frontier in coronavirus testing: Identifying the full scope of the pandemic, not just individual infections (Stat News


State by state

'The Other Option Is Death': New York Starts Sharing of Ventilators (New York Times)

New Orleans mayor says federal inaction informed Mardi Gras decision ahead of covid-19 outbreak (Washington Post)

Massachusetts GOP governor breaks with Trump: 'We're not going to be up and running by Easter' (Politico)  


The Hill op-eds

4 steps Congress can take to help prevent the next big pandemic

Get ahead of the physician shortage curve