Overnight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY

Overnight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY
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Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care. 

There are more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including nearly 357,000 in the U.S.

Governors in New York, New Jersey and Louisiana are cautiously optimistic that they are flattening the curves of the outbreaks in their states, or slowing the rates of infection. Still, the coronavirus is raging throughout the country, and the U.S. has hit 10,000 deaths. 

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Let's start there...

 

A grim milestone for US coronavirus deaths: 10,000

The speed of the U.S. death count from COVID-19 is increasing. Within the course of a week, fatalities went from 500 a day to reaching more than 1,000 per day. 

The United States now has by far the most known cases of any country in the world, and is among the highest for number of deaths, along with Italy and Spain, which have both been hit hard by the virus as well. 

China, where the virus originated, officially has more than 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker, but the accuracy of its numbers has faced persistent doubts. 

Read more here.

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Some possibly better news: Cuomo sees 'good signs' of a 'possible flattening of curve' in NY

New York 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) suggested Monday the state may have flattened the curve of the coronavirus outbreak, but cautioned that it is too soon to tell.

Deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have stayed flat for two days, he said, while the total number of new hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions are down.

"Those are all good signs and again would suggest a possible flattening of the curve," he said during his daily press conference.

To flatten the curve of an outbreak means to slow the rate of infections and prevent an influx of patients from overwhelming hospitals and the health care system, potentially leading to fewer deaths.

Still, the state is in crisis.

There are more than 130,000 confirmed cases in New York, including almost 5,000 deaths. The state reported 599 of those deaths Monday, a small drop from the 630 on Saturday.

"We could still see an increase, so it is hopeful, but it's also inconclusive," he said of the data. 

Read more here.

 

NJ, Louisiana also cautiously say outbreaks are slowing 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said Monday that the rate of infections also appears to be slowing in his state. As of Monday, confirmed cases were increasing at a rate of 12 percent daily. On March 30, the daily increase in cases was 24 percent.

"This means that our efforts to flatten the curve are starting -- and I say starting -- to pay off, even with the lag time in getting testing result back from the labs," Murphy said.

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There are more than 41,000 confirmed cases in New Jersey, including 1,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said the curve of the outbreak in his state could starting to flatten, citing a drop in new admissions to hospitals.

Read more from The Advocate here.

 

More from the states

Florida governor advises against 'packed' religious gatherings 

 

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Over at the Trump administration...

 

To be a fly on the wall for this... Trump touts 'friendly' conversation with Biden

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 said Monday that he had a "friendly" and "warm" conversation with 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, the 2020 Democratic front-runner, regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"We had a really wonderful, warm conversation," Trump told reporters at a regular White House briefing Monday evening on COVID-19. "This is what we talked about."

"He gave me his point of view, and I fully understood that. We just had a very friendly conversation," Trump said, adding that the call lasted roughly 15 minutes.

"It was really good, really nice," Trump continued. "I appreciate his calling."

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Read more here.

 

Inspector general finds hospitals face 'severe' shortages of needed coronavirus supplies

A sobering report from the inspector general found:

  • "Severe" shortages of tests for hospitals to use and an extended wait time for results 
  • "Widespread" shortfalls of protective equipment --One hospital said it is accepting homemade cloth gowns from a quilter's guild to try to address supply problems. 
  • Capacity concerns, as hospitals anticipated being overwhelmed if they experienced a surge of patients

Key quote: "The level of anxiety among staff is like nothing I've ever seen," one hospital administrator said. 

The report was not a review of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it was a snapshot of what hospitals are experiencing and how they are responding to the epidemic, intended to give HHS guidance. 

More on the report here.

 

But when asked to comment, Trump attacked the person in charge of the office... 

 

Trump says IG report finding hospital shortages is 'just wrong'

Trump did not provide evidence for why the conclusions of the 34-page report are wrong but implied that he is mistrustful of inspectors general more broadly. He recently fired the inspector general of the intelligence community, and implied that Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who leads the HHS office, was politically motivated.

"Where did he come from, the inspector general?" Trump said, adding, "what's his name?"

Grimm joined the inspector general's office in 1999 and has lead the agency since the acting inspector general left at the end of 2019.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) on Monday said the IG report was accurate.

The report "accurately captures the crisis that hospitals and health systems, physicians and nurses on the front lines face of not having enough personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and equipment in their fight against COVID-19," the AHA said.

Read more here.

Related: Trump says he's reached 'amicable' agreement with 3M to make masks

 

Trump says he 'may look into' dismissal of ousted Naval captain

President Trump on Monday said he may look into the dismissal of a Naval captain who was relieved of his duty aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after warning of an outbreak of coronavirus on board in a letter that leaked to the press.

The controversy surrounding the exit of Capt. Brett Crozier was amplified on Monday when acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told the sailors aboard the ship that the captain was "naive" or "stupid" to think the letter would not leak.

Trump told reporters he hadn't seen the statement from Modly, but described what he'd heard about it as "strong" and "rough." He suggested he may personally look into the matter because he believes both Modly and Crozier have good reputations outside the Roosevelt incident.

"I may look into it only from the standpoint that something should be resolved because I'm hearing good things about both people," he said.

"I may just get involved, if it's ok with you," he continued. "And I'm good, believe it or not, at settling arguments. I'm good at settling these arguments.

Read more here.

 

Related: Acting Navy secretary slams fired aircraft carrier captain as 'stupid' in remarks to crew: report

Navy head stands by controversial speech on ousted captain

Democratic lawmakers call for Navy chief's firing

 

Trump sends best wishes to Boris Johnson

President Trump on Monday praised Boris Johnson as "strong" and "resolute," offering his best wishes to the British prime minister after he entered intensive care for the coronavirus.

"Americans are all praying for his recovery. He's been a really good friend. He's been really something very special -- strong, resolute, doesn't quit, doesn't give up," Trump said at the outset of a White House briefing on the virus.

Read more here.

Background: Johnson, 55, was admitted to the hospital Sunday on his doctor's advice after he experienced symptoms for more than 10 days following confirmation that he had tested positive for the coronavirus on April 27. 

The prime minister's condition reportedly worsened over the course of the afternoon, and he was moved to an intensive care unit as a precaution in case he requires a ventilator.

 

More from the administration

Trump confronts most difficult week yet in coronavirus battle

Trump officials struggle to get coronavirus-relief loans out the door

Kudlow says administration 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds

 

On Capitol Hill

Schumer says nation will 'definitely' need new coronavirus relief bill

Schumer names former Warren staffer to coronavirus funding oversight board

Schumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House

Pelosi, McConnell clash over next coronavirus bill

House Democrats call on Trump administration to lift restrictions on fetal tissue for coronavirus research

 

And it was a busy day in the courts...

 

Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin from extending absentee voting

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday night ruled that Wisconsin cannot accept absentee ballots postmarked after its voting day Tuesday.

In a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the conservative justices sided with Republican state lawmakers by halting a lower court order to extend absentee voting to April 13, a measure that would have expanded options for avoiding in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Background: The decision came just hours after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers's (D) executive order to postpone Tuesday's vote, sowing confusion and chaos around a critical election featuring a Democratic presidential primary and a pivotal state Supreme Court seat.

Evers had sought to push back the in-person voting date until June 9 and said that all mail and absentee ballots sent up to that date would be counted.

But the pair of rulings from the top federal court and highest Wisconsin state court on Monday largely returned things to the status quo, with in-person voting and a postmark deadline set for the following day, despite a flurry of last-minute legal and political wrangling and a virus that has infected some 2,500 and killed nearly 80 in the state.

More on the decision here.

 

Related: How the day unfolded

Wisconsin governor postpones Tuesday's election over coronavirus

Wisconsin Republicans challenge election delay in state's top court

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's effort to delay election

 

Federal judge partially blocks Oklahoma abortion ban

A federal judge in Oklahoma granted a temporary restraining order Monday against the state's ban on abortion during the coronavirus pandemic. 

United States District Judge Charles Goodwin, a Trump appointee, ruled the ban would cause "irreparable harm" to women unable to get abortions. 

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed an executive order last month directing medical providers to postpone all elective surgeries, including abortions, until April 30 in an effort to conserve medical supplies for health workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood sued the state, arguing Stitt was using the pandemic as a front to put in place an unconstitutional ban on abortion.

What it means: The ruling from Goodwin reinstates abortion access for women who would be beyond the legal limit for the procedure by April 30, when the postponement of elective surgeries expires. Oklahoma law bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Goodwin's order also allows medication abortion to resume in the state because it doesn't require the same amount of personnel or medical equipment as a surgical abortion, he said. 

Yes, but: Goodwin wrote that the state has the authority to postpone some abortion procedures.

It is a "permissible use of state power" to delay abortions for women if they are not past the 20-week threshold by April 30, Goodwin wrote.

Read more here

 

Related: Louisiana senator calls for abortion clinics to close amid coronavirus crisis

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) called for abortion clinics to close Monday so that their medical supplies can be redirected to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The Louisiana senator requested public officials shut down these clinics across the country and within his state as most states have implemented a stay-at-home order for nonessential businesses. In a statement, he classified abortions as "elective."

"Abortions are elective, deadly and wrong--especially when they siphon masks, gloves and cleaning supplies away from the front lines of a pandemic," Kennedy said. "I urge elected officials everywhere to recognize that abortions are in no way an essential service."

Read more on his comments here

 

More from the health care front...

 

Here's what you need to know about hydroxychloroquine

There is no proven treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. But an old malaria medicine called hydroxychloroquine has made headlines as a potential key to treating the disease. President Trump has repeatedly highlighted the drug, touting hydroxychloroquine and a related drug called chloroquine as a possible "miracle." 

But why the sudden burst of attention? Has it been tested? What does the drug even do? And importantly, can it really help COVID-19 patients?

The Hill's Nathaniel Weixel on what you need to know.

 

Navy hospital ship to treat coronavirus patients after outcry

A Navy hospital ship originally dispatched to New York to treat patients who haven't been infected by the coronavirus will now take in individuals who have contracted the deadly virus, following outcry over hundreds of empty beds on the vessel.

The Comfort, docked in New York harbor, has some 1,000 available beds but has only treated 41 patients since it reached the city last week.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Monday that President Trump has agreed to the city's request to treat coronavirus-infected patients aboard the USNS Comfort.

The switch "will provide much-needed relief to our over stressed hospital systems," Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading: 

Mysterious heart damage, not just lung troubles, befalling COVID-19 patients (Kaiser Health News)

Fact-checking Trump's optimistic hydroxychloroquine claims (STAT News)

Inside the race to find a coronavirus cure (The Wall Street Journal)  

 

State by state: 

In Colorado's mountain towns, high altitude presents a unique challenge in treating coronavirus (Denver Post)

Amid warnings of a coronavirus 'Pearl Harbor,' governors walk a fine line (The New York Times)

California makes concession for nursing students after coronavirus affects training access (Sacramento Bee