Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages ‘another fake dossier’ | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash
Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care.
There are 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 globally, and more than 386,000 of those are in the U.S. New York and New Jersey — which have the biggest outbreaks in the country — reported record-high death tolls Tuesday. It was a rough day for many states, even as some reported initial signs of a flattening curve.
That’s where we’ll start:
Cuomo reports another 731 coronavirus deaths in NY, its largest one-day increase
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said 731 people died from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, a sobering statistic that comes even as other indicators suggest the outbreak is slowing.
Cuomo noted during his daily press briefing that the number of deaths is a “lagging indicator” of the outbreak. He also said that the three-day average of new hospitalizations is falling.
Intubations and intensive care unit admissions are also down, he added.
However, the governor cautioned that the state is still in the throes of the epidemic, and social distancing measures are key to slowing the outbreak in the state.
“This is not an act of God we’re looking at. It’s an act of what society actually does,” Cuomo said.
Context: Cuomo has expressed hope in recent days that the outbreak is ebbing, and he said Tuesday that officials are starting to consider how to restart the state’s economy. At the same time, he stressed it is still too soon to get back to “normal.”
New Jersey also seeing largest single-day increase of coronavirus deaths
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced 232 additional fatalities from coronavirus Tuesday, marking the state’s highest single-day COVID-19 death toll.
That brings the state’s total death count to 1,232, a number Murphy called “almost unfathomable.”
Still, Murphy said there are some signs the outbreak is slowing in New Jersey, including decreases in the daily growth of new cases.
The state confirmed 3,361 additional COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing its total to 44,416.
Other states also reported bad days
Michigan sees record high number of COVID-19 deaths in latest report
Louisiana sees largest single-day increase in deaths but decrease in new cases
Related: Coronavirus watch: Where the virus is spiking across the country
Appeals court sides with Texas on abortion restrictions amid pandemic
A federal appeals court on Tuesday sided with Texas over its bid to restrict abortion access amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court order halting the restrictions, saying the previous ruling had not adequately considered the temporary burden on abortion access in light of the measure’s medical benefits.
Judges Stuart Kyle Duncan, a Trump appointee, and Jennifer Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee, sided with Texas. Judge James Dennis, a Clinton appointee, dissented.
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News from the administration…
Trump decries IG report on hospital shortages as ‘another fake dossier’
President Trump on Tuesday continued his attack on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general over a report that found hospitals faced a shortage of protective equipment and testing to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
A day after blasting the report as “wrong” and attacking its author, Trump likened it in a tweet to “another Fake Dossier,” a reference to a compilation of allegations about his connections to Russia.
The report from the HHS inspector general released Monday found “severe” shortages of tests for hospitals to use and “widespread” shortfalls of protective equipment to keep health workers safe.
The report relied on interviews with hundreds of hospitals. It was not meant as a review of how HHS has conducted its coronavirus response, but was meant to give a snapshot of how hospitals are faring to give the agency some guidance.
Trump has not provided any evidence for his statements that the report is wrong, or addressed the findings in any substantial way. When he was first asked about the findings, he immediately went on the defensive and personally attacked the government watchdog that conducted the survey.
Trump considering suspending funding to WHO
President Trump said Tuesday that he would consider placing a hold on funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), expressing grievances with its handling of the novel coronavirus.
“They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known, and they should have known, and they probably did know,” Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing, suggesting the WHO failed to sufficiently warn the global community about the virus.
The China angle: The president said the WHO seemed to be “very biased towards China” and accused the organization of disagreeing with his travel restriction on flights coming in from China. He suggested the organization was blind to the extent of the outbreak in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, where the virus originated.
How much are we talking? The United States is the largest contributor to the WHO’s budget. The president’s fiscal 2021 budget request proposed slashing funding to the WHO, a body of the United Nations responsible for international public health, from $122 million to about $58 million.
Some possibly good news: CDC director predicts lower death toll than previously forecast
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director predicted a lower death toll than the administration had previously forecasted due to the public’s compliance with social distancing.
The early predictions of the COVID-19’s expected death toll in the U.S. assumed about half of Americans “would pay attention to the recommendations,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said Monday in an interview with AM 1030 KVOI Radio in Tucson, Ariz.
The key? Everyone following social distancing: “What we’re seeing is a large majority of the American public are taking the social distancing recommendations to heart,” he said. “And I think that’s the direct consequence of why you’re seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models.”
Redfield’s comments follow administration health officials’ projections that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus, even if people followed the social distancing and stay-at-home guidance.
More from the administration
Trump replaces Pentagon IG, removing him from coronavirus relief oversight panel
Navy chief resigns amid uproar over handling of aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis
Fauci says country should be in ‘good shape’ to reopen schools in the fall
Trump says he didn’t see Navarro memos but wouldn’t have changed course if he had
Trump defends his mail-in ballot after calling vote-by-mail ‘corrupt’
Trouble for phase four relief
Pressure is building on Congress to pass another round of coronavirus relief legislation, but Republicans and Democrats have different ideas about what’s needed and how fast.
Democrats want to move swiftly while GOP aides warn it’s unlikely a fourth bill will pass before May.
What’s next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will ask for unanimous consent Thursday to provide as much as $250 billion in additional money to help small businesses keep workers on the payroll. But McConnell didn’t reach out to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). That could set up a clash with Republicans expecting Schumer to attach Democratic priorities to the funding request.
Related: Pressure mounts on Congress for quick action with next coronavirus bill
Senate Democrats propose $25,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers
Senate Democrats want some extra money for essential workers.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats are proposing to give doctors, nurses and other essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, up to $25,000 in hazard pay as part of the phase four coronavirus relief bill.
The bonus pay, which would amount to a $13-per-hour raise, would also go to truck drivers and janitors, who Democrats say are also essential to keeping the health care system and economy running during the crisis.
It would stretch from the start of the public health emergency to the end of the year.
“We’re calling it a ‘Heroes Fund’ because that’s who it’s for, our heroes,” Schumer said.
House Democrats urge Trump administration to reopen ObamaCare exchanges
Dozens of House Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to reopen ObamaCare enrollment.
“This is an unprecedented financial constraint that could prevent millions of people from seeing doctors to get tested or treated,” the Democrats, led by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Trump has declined: Trump and other White House officials had initially indicated that they were considering a relaunch of HealthCare.gov. But the White House confirmed that the administration decided against a special enrollment period and was reviewing other options.
Alternative approach: Last week, President Trump said the administration will use money from the recently-passed stimulus bill to reimburse hospitals that treat uninsured patients. The money would come from the $100 billion in funds meant to help hospitals respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
More from Congress
House GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans
Democrats want conditions on new funding for small-business loans
Pence, Fauci to brief lawmakers on coronavirus
Pelosi: Next round of coronavirus relief will top $1 trillion
House lawmakers advocate to preserve medical funding for underserved, rural areas
Black, Latino communities suffering disproportionately from coronavirus, statistics show
Emerging statistics show black and Latino communities are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, leading to pressure from lawmakers and others that states release the racial breakdown of their cases and deaths.
Louisiana’s Department of Health on Monday became one of the latest state entities to begin reporting a racial breakdown of their cases. It showed black people account for 70 percent of coronavirus deaths in the state, despite making up just 32 percent of the population.
“That deserves more attention, and we’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that trend down,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Monday, calling the figures in his state “disturbing.”
As of Tuesday morning, at least nine states and Washington, D.C., have included a racial breakdown of their coronavirus cases. Larger states with higher reported cases of the virus, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services, have yet to display that data in reports.
Why the data gap matters: “I have seen in my waiting room mostly black and brown patients who are essential workers and service workers who can’t afford to stay home. These are the ones that I see presenting to the clinic with COVID-19 symptoms,” said Uche Blackstock, CEO of Advancing Health Equity, in a conference call Monday.
Related: Trump discussed the issue on Tuesday as well… White House acknowledges coronavirus disproportionately taking African American lives
Texas Democrats sue to expand mail-in voting amid pandemic
The Texas Democratic Party on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to expand vote-by-mail access amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the current state election rules, only voters who meet relatively narrow criteria can mail in ballots, meaning the vast majority of the state’s voting would occur in person, despite public health guidance to avoid public gatherings.
The state is scheduled to hold a primary runoff on July 14. The runoff was first scheduled for May 26 but was pushed back by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas).
Also today, Wisconsin went ahead with a slate of primary and general elections despite the coronavirus pandemic. Voters were faced with a reduced number of polling stations and long lines. Check back at The Hill tonight for the latest on the vote.
In other news
Blood donation programs are being launched in four states to collect the plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients.
States across the country are racing to stockpile ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE) and necessary medical supplies as they prepare for brutal surges of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks and months.
An IRS watchdog on Tuesday urged people to watch out for possible scams related to the federal government’s coronavirus assistance to taxpayers as lawmakers and government officials are seeking to prevent people from falling victim to schemes about the forthcoming recovery checks.
Houses of worship across the U.S. are increasingly worried about declining attendance and revenue as the coronavirus pandemic spreads in what is one of the busiest religious weeks of the year.
What we’re reading
Walmart sued by family of worker killed by coronavirus (NBC News)
A $30 billion gamble: Pandemic expert calls for making Covid-19 vaccines before we know they work (Stat News)
U.S. labs face crisis after crisis despite improvements in testing (Bloomberg)
How federal snafus slowed testing at a top U.S. hospital (Reuters)
State by state
There isn’t just a shortage of ventilators, but of the medical workers who operate them (LA Times)
Why New York has 12 times as many coronavirus deaths as California (Vox.com)
A ‘liberty’ rebellion in Idaho threatens to undermine coronavirus orders (New York Times)
The Hill op-eds
Some hospitals could lose out on federal relief dollars
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