Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims

Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight health care.

There are now more than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are 236,339 confirmed cases in the U.S., including more than 5,600 deaths. And a record 6.6 million people have filed unemployment claims. 



Grim new milestone: Number of coronavirus cases worldwide tops 1 million

More than 1 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally and more than 51,000 deaths have been reported worldwide due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. has the most confirmed cases, though U.S. lawmakers and officials have raised questions about the figures being reported by Chinese authorities.

According to the Johns Hopkins University database, the U.S. has more than 235,000 cases and 5,600 deaths. Italy and Spain follow with more than 115,000 and 110,000 cases, respectively, and more than 24,000 deaths between them.

China, where the virus originated, reported more than 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths from the virus, though U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded that Beijing has under-reported both the total number of cases and confirmed deaths.

Read more here



Cities across the country in danger of becoming coronavirus hotspots

All eyes are on New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S., but experts warn other areas of the country are at risk of becoming hot spots.

Cities in the South and Midwest, in particular, are in danger of becoming the next hot spots as data shows cases there are increasing rapidly and haven't yet peaked.

"Every city is in danger of looking like the challenges we've seen in Wuhan, in Italy and in New York City," Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a call with reporters Wednesday.

"There is no city anywhere in the world that can withstand an outbreak of coronavirus that will occur if there isn't very, very rigorous physical distancing sheltering at home. So every city needs to be ready," he said.

Experts are looking at Florida, Texas, Chicago, Michigan, Louisiana and other areas as potential hotspots. 

Read more on that here


Trump expected to recommend certain Americans wear masks to limit virus spread

President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE is expected to announce guidance encouraging certain Americans to wear masks or face coverings when leaving the home to limit transmission of the coronavirus.

The specific language of the guidance was not yet finalized as of Thursday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the matter, but it is likely to apply to those living in parts of the country that have been subject to outbreaks.

The vice president's office said there was no formal announcement expected Thursday.

Stat News first reported that Trump would urge Americans to follow new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fashion masks out of bandanas, T-shirts or other available cloth materials to avoid further draining already scarce amounts of personal protective equipment needed for hospital workers treating those with the virus.

Flashback: The Surgeon General in early March warned Americans to stop buying masks, insisting they were needed for health care workers and writing they are "NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus."


Certain health experts in the U.S., including former FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb, have suggested widespread use of masks could help halt the spread of the disease via asymptomatic individuals who do not realize they are carrying the virus.

Read more here.

Also: Birx cautions masks shouldn't give people 'false sense of security'


Trump to expand use of Defense Product Act to build ventilators

President Trump has long resisted using the Defense Production Act, but is taking another step to widen its use on Thursday. 

Trump issued a memorandum allowing the secretary of Health and Human Services to use authority under the powerful Korean War-era law to help six companies, including General Electric and Medtronic, secure supplies to make ventilators.


A range of companies have stepped forward to help produce more ventilators, life-saving machines that are needed to help seriously ill coronavirus patients breathe.

The machines are complicated and require hundreds of parts from a range of suppliers. Trump's order appears aimed at trying to help solve that problem.

But: Trump did invoke the DPA for General Motors to make ventilators last week, though the company was already working on making them at the time, leaving it unclear the extent to which that DPA order has changed the situation.

Read more here.


FDA loosens restrictions on gay men donating blood amid pandemic

The federal government is loosening restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men in light of a blood shortage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.


In revised guidelines published Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a three-month deferral for men who have sex with men. The previous policy was a full year ban.

The new guidelines will remain in place throughout the pandemic and will be updated to incorporate public comment within 60 days of the emergency being lifted.

The agency has been facing pressure from Democratic lawmakers and activist groups to change its donation policy.

According to the FDA, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused "unprecedented challenges" to the national blood supply. 

More on the decision here.


More from the administration

Kushner makes first appearance at coronavirus briefing

Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress

Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with coronavirus outbreak

Trump again tests negative for coronavirus

Feds distributing masks, other gear seized in price-gouging investigation to NY, NJ health care workers


And on the economic front...


Record 6.6 million file jobless claims as coronavirus grips economy

An unprecedented 6.6 million people filed unemployment claims in the last week of March, meaning 10 million people have now filed for jobless claims since the coronavirus pandemic ripped through the country, shattering the economy.

A total of 6,648,000 people filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 28, more than double the roughly 3.3 million seasonally adjusted initial claims the previous week. Until that point, the highest level on record was 695,000 in October of 1982.

The shocking figures underscore the breadth of the pain to the economy caused by the coronavirus outbreak, which has shuttered thousands of businesses in the country as people practice social distancing guidelines.

Some context: To put the figures in some perspective, it took six months to add 10 million people to the unemployment rolls during the Great Recession following the financial crisis in 2008-2009. That has now happened in two weeks with coronavirus. 

More on the dire numbers from Niv Elis here.

Read more: New data released Thursday revealed the scale of the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus crisis -- and experts say there is no end in sight.

"The present economic situation is awful," said Jason FurmanJason FurmanBiden, like most new presidents, will get his shot at economics Our rebounding economy doesn't need more stimulus checks Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit MORE, a Harvard University professor who served as chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. "The data is just telling us what we can see with our own eyes -- there is very little business happening."

The Hill's Niall Stanage on how the economic crisis is shaking the nation.


More on the economy

Mnuchin: First coronavirus rebates to be issued 'within two weeks'

Americans could wait up to 20 weeks for mailed stimulus checks: Democratic memo

Newly unemployed may not see expanded benefits for weeks

IRS urges taxpayers to watch out for scams about coronavirus checks

7 industries lobbying for more stimulus

Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession


In Congress...


Pelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday announced the creation of a special House committee charged with overseeing the unprecedented, multitrillion-dollar federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pelosi has tapped Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the Democratic whip, to lead the bipartisan panel, which will be authorized "to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus and ensure the taxpayer's dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent."

"The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism," she told reporters on a press call. "The fact is, we do need transparency and accountability."

More on the committee here.

A warning from Trump: President Trump on Thursday railed against "partisan investigations" and "witch hunts" amid the coronavirus pandemic after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) established a special House committee to examine the federal response to the pandemic.

"I want to remind everyone here in our nation's capital, especially in Congress, that this is not the time for politics," Trump said, reading from prepared remarks. "Endless partisan investigations have already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years.

"It's witch hunt, after witch hunt, after witch hunt. It's not any time for witch hunts, it's time to get this enemy defeated," he continued.

More from Brett Samuels on Trump's remarks.


Trump and Schumer also sparred today over the coronavirus response

President Trump lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote The bizarre back story of the filibuster MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday, accusing him of "incorrect sound bites" on the administration's coronavirus relief efforts in the latest war of words between the two New Yorkers.

Trump, in a two-page letter released by the White House, called the Democratic leader a "bad" senator and argued that he could lose a primary against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden officials urge patience on immigration amid border surge Clinton: Allegations against Cuomo 'raise serious questions,' deserve probe Ocasio-Cortez: wage only 'socialist' to those in 'dystopian capitalist nightmare' MORE (D-N.Y.).

"Thank you for your Democrat public relations letter and incorrect sound bites, which are wrong in every way," Trump wrote in the opening of the letter, before going on to discuss the administration's efforts on the coronavirus.

Backstory: Trump's letter comes after Schumer sent a letter on Thursday morning urging the president to choose a military officer to serve as a czar to oversee the production and disbursement of medical equipment and supplies, amid reports from states and hospitals that they are under-equipped for the growing number of coronavirus cases. 

Read more on that fight here.


More from Congress

GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid

Pelosi urges Trump to expand ObamaCare enrollment period amid coronavirus

Trump's ambitious infrastructure vision faces Senate GOP roadblock 

Graham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets

GOP senator: National shelter-in-place order would be an 'overreaction'


In the states...


Florida, other states allowing church services during coronavirus pandemic draw criticism

Florida this week joined the states directing residents to stay home to help reduce spread of the coronavirus but carving out exemptions for religious services, drawing criticism as the federal government advises against gathering in groups of more than 10.

The stay-at-home order issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run Five takeaways from CPAC 2021 MORE (R) on Wednesday directs Floridians to stay home except to obtain or provide essential services. Attending services conducted in houses of worship is listed under the definition of "essential activities."

Florida is among several states issuing orders for people to avoid leaving their homes but granting certain exemptions for religious services over concerns that forcing houses of worship to close would violate the constitutional right to religious freedom.

Michigan, New Mexico, Delaware, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia have also allowed some exemption for religious services.

Why it matters: Houses of worship remaining open have sparked worries of violating the intention of social distancing guidelines. 

Read more here.


More from around the country: 

Governors win high marks for coronavirus response, outpacing Trump

Birx warns holdout states about social distancing

Cuomo says New York will exhaust ventilator stockpile in six days

New York City sets up 45 new mobile morgues

Feds distributing masks, other gear seized in price-gouging investigation to NY, NJ health care workers

Feds fine Washington nursing home $611,000 over coronavirus response deficiencies

Florida governor suspends all evictions and foreclosures in the state amid pandemic

Deal reached for cruise ships to dock in Florida amid coronavirus outbreak

Tennessee governor issues stay-at-home order

Puerto Rico extends lockdown to mid-April


And there was news from the campaign trail today...

The Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee will be delayed for a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, the host committee announced on Thursday.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE said Thursday that his aides are working to set up a call between him and President Trump to discuss the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A federal judge on Thursday refused to push back the date of Wisconsin's April 7 presidential primary despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, but ordered that absentee voting be extended to April 13.


What we're reading: 

Questions about accuracy of coronavirus tests sow worry (The Wall Street Journal

Where America didn't stay home even as the virus spread (The New York Times)

Pandemic-stricken cities have empty hospitals, but reopening them is difficult (Kaiser Health News)


State by state 

In desperation, New York State pays up to 15 times the normal prices for medical equipment (ProPublica)

A million N95 masks are coming from China--on board the New England Patriots' plane (The Wall Street Journal)

California hospitals face surge with proven fixes and some hail marys (California Healthline


The Hill op-eds

COVID-19 is occurring in clusters, making good data and resource allocation crucial

We need a federal task force to protect health care workers

Is coronavirus causing another VA appointment wait-time scandal?

No visitors allowed: We need humane hospital policy during COVID-19