Overnight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of ‘painful’ weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms
Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care.
President Trump’s health advisers laid out a grim death toll for the coronavirus Tuesday and warned that the public should prepare to maintain social distancing measures for at least the next 30 days.
There are at least 181,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., including 3,606 deaths, as of Tuesday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University. Those numbers mean the U.S. has passed China in official coronavirus deaths.
We’ll start with the sobering statistics…
US surpasses China in official coronavirus deaths
The United States passed a grim milestone on Tuesday as it overtook China in the official death count from the coronavirus.
The United States now has 3,415 deaths from the virus, surpassing China’s figure of 3,309, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.
Caveat: It’s important to note that there are significant doubts about the accuracy of China’s figures.
For example, Bloomberg News reported late last week that social media photos of thousands of urns to hold the ashes of the dead in Wuhan, China, were raising questions about whether the death toll there is much higher.
Still, the mounting death toll in the United States underscores how severe the pandemic has become in the country.
And the White House says the toll could get much higher…
White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus
President Trump’s top health advisers said Tuesday that models show between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the novel coronavirus even if the country keeps stringent social distancing guidelines in place.
Without any measures to mitigate the disease’s spread, those projections jump to between 1.5 and 2.2 million deaths from COVID-19.
The data was used to highlight why social distancing measures should be kept in place for at least the next 30 days.
“This is tough. People are suffering. People are dying. It’s inconvenient from a societal standpoint, from an economic standpoint to go through this, but this is going to be the answer to our problems,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force.
“Let’s all pull together and make sure as we look forward to the next 30 days, we do it with all the intensity and force that we can,” he added.
The Trump administration has urged people to avoid restaurants and bars, bypass discretionary travel, and work from home if possible while avoiding gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Several states have issued orders limiting movement outside the home to essential activities only.
Such restrictions have dampened the economy but Fauci said now is not the time to take the foot off the accelerator by telling people to return to their daily lives.
Trump urges Americans to prepare for what’s ahead
The president on Tuesday sought to gird the nation for a grim reality that will set in as the coronavirus pandemic stretches to every corner of the United States.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said at a White House news briefing. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks, and then hopefully, as the experts are predicting … you’re going to start seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel.”
“But this is going to be a very painful, a very, very painful two weeks,” he added.
Trump says he would not have acted differently on coronavirus without impeachment
President Trump said Tuesday that he would not have acted differently or more quickly in addressing the coronavirus if he weren’t impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
“I don’t think I would have done any better if I had not been impeached,” Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room Tuesday evening. “I don’t think I would have acted any differently, or I don’t think I would have acted any faster.”
Trump was asked whether impeachment diverted his or his team’s attention from the coronavirus, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier Tuesday blamed Democrats for distracting the federal government from the outbreak because of the push to impeach the president.
Trump first answered that impeachment “probably” took up some of his attention but later insisted that he wouldn’t have acted differently in response to the coronavirus.
The 2020 angle
Americans are coming to grips with the fact that there will be no quick end to the coronavirus crisis — a realization that will shake up the 2020 presidential race in profound ways. President Trump has sought to shift expectations in recent days, acknowledging that the de facto shutdown of the nation’s economy will last longer than he had originally hoped and that the death toll will likely climb far higher.
But Democrats are by no means guaranteed to reap a political dividend from Trump’s performance, even though the president underplayed the severity of the crisis in its early days — and has been widely criticized in the media for doing so. The Hill’s Niall Stanage on how the political world is grappling with the outbreak.
More from the administration
Why is the virus spreading? The CDC has some new insight…
CDC head: Up to 25 percent of those with coronavirus never show symptoms
As many as 25 percent of people with the coronavirus may never show symptoms, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield.
In a Tuesday interview with NPR, Redfield said that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, spreads “far easier” than the flu, in part because it appears people can spread the virus up to 48 hours before they feel sick, if they even show symptoms at all.
“This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country because we have asymptomatic transmitters and we have individuals who are transmitting 48 hours before they become symptomatic,” he said.
Why it matters: Because there is still not widespread testing for COVID-19 in the U.S., it’s not known how many people actually have it.
More from the CDC: People with underlying conditions at greater risk of serious complications from coronavirus
New data from the CDC show that people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes and lung disease are more likely to become seriously ill or die if they contract the novel coronavirus.
About 78 percent of coronavirus patients who were admitted to intensive care units had at least one underlying health condition, CDC said.
The most common conditions were diabetes, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease, but the agency also found a higher risk among smokers and people with hypertension, renal disease and coronary artery disease.
The critical message: People of any age with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk if they contract the virus.
Meanwhile in Congress…
Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens
The coronavirus and its devastating effect on the economy is giving an old idea new traction with leaders in both parties: trillions of dollars in infrastructure spending.
President Trump on Tuesday called for $2 trillion in new public works programs as a national economic lifeline, backing an idea promoted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just a day earlier. Rank-and-file lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have quickly joined the chorus, framing infrastructure as a commonsense strategy for creating jobs amid mass layoffs sparked by the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Why it matters: Infrastructure has been on Capitol Hill’s back burner for almost a year, after a brief and acrimonious White House meeting between Trump and Democratic leaders in May ended with the president lashing out at Pelosi and storming out of the room.
But… McConnell is not yet on board…
McConnell hits brakes on next economic stimulus package
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hit the brakes Tuesday on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plan to move ahead with a fourth stimulus package that would include major infrastructure spending and other Democratic priorities.
“I think we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out,” McConnell said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
“Let’s see how things are going and respond accordingly,” he added. “I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.”
More from Congress
And there was an important ruling in the courts…
Appeals court allows Texas to ban abortions during pandemic
A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Texas can temporarily enforce a ban on abortions as part of its coronavirus response.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay on a ruling from a lower court that had blocked Texas from enforcing the ban. State officials argue the ban is intended to conserve medical supplies for health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus response. But abortion rights advocates say states are using the pandemic as an excuse to block access.
In a 2-1 opinion, the appeals court ruled that the order from the lower court be stayed until an appeal from Texas is considered. The two judges who ruled in favor of a stay were nominated to their posts by President Trump and former President George W. Bush.
“The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement Tuesday.
Reaction from Planned Parenthood, which brought the lawsuit: “No other form of health care is being targeted this way — only abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Don’t be fooled: Gov. Abbott’s use of his executive order to ban abortion has nothing to do with health or safety.”
From states and cities:
From outside the US:
What we’re reading
Test makers are moving fast, but the coronavirus may be moving faster (Stat News)
The legal scholar who shaped Trump’s coronavirus response defends his theory (Vox)
Wartime Production Law Has Been Used Routinely, but Not With Coronavirus (New York Times)
What explains Covid-19’s lethality for the elderly? Scientists look to ‘twilight’ of the immune system (Stat News)
State by state
New York, ‘still in search of the apex,’ sees another spike in coronavirus cases (NPR)
Pennsylvania gives $8 million to keep for-profit hospital open through April (Modern Healthcare)
New Jersey reports 18,696 coronavirus cases; 267 deaths (Fox 29)
Texas governor issues social distancing order through April, closes schools until May 4 (KXAN)
Colorado’s decision to shut down ski resorts over coronavirus seems obvious now. Should it have come sooner? (Denver Post)
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