Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Trump fires back at critics during briefing | Trump claims he has authority on when to reopen states | Governors form groups to discuss plans | Fauci offers support to Trump | House delays return

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Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.

President Trump on Monday and said he alone has the authority to decide when to loosen social distancing measures in states, rather than governors — which seemed to be news to the governors. Some of them have even decided to form their own regional groups to make those decisions, setting the stage for a clash between the administration and the states.

Trump also used his briefing to blast his critics, playing a campaign-style video. And Dr. Anthony Fauci denied that there was a rift between him and the president a day after Trump retweeted a message calling for him to “#FireFauci.”

All in all it was a busy day at the Trump White House.

We’ll start with today’s briefing…


Trump uses briefing to fire back at critics

President Trump on Monday used the White House briefing room to lash out at critics of his response to the coronavirus outbreak, rattling off a litany of grievances about press coverage and airing a reel of cable news footage that portrayed his actions in a positive light.

The president sought to use a briefing ostensibly intended to inform the American public about the latest developments in the battle against the virus to frame his handling of the pandemic as a success. He bristled at any criticism and picking a fight with journalists in the room before experts delivered any update on the disease that has killed more than 22,000 people in the U.S.

“We really have done this right. The problem is the press doesn’t cover it the way it should be,” Trump said.

More on his remarks here.


Fauci at center of conservative storm

An increasing target on the right these days: Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

Criticism of Fauci by two conservative lawmakers in a Saturday op-ed and Trump’s retweet of a conservative’s call to “#FireFauci” were unmistakable signs that the public health official is coming under pressure from some on the right to be loyal to the president. 

Tensions between Fauci and Trump have been evident at times in recent weeks. 

Flashback: The doctor put his head in his hand at one March briefing where the president quipped about the “Deep State Department,” and Trump stepped in at a briefing this month before Fauci could give his opinion on hydroxychloroquine.

One source close to the administration said, while some inside would like to see Fauci gone, most recognize there is more value to keeping him on.  

“I don’t sense there’s a monolithic view,” the person said. “There are some who dislike him and want him out of the [administration] but I think most recognize it’s better for him to be in the tent than outside of it.” 

Read more here.

And note: The White House put out a statement Monday denying that Trump is moving to fire Fauci. More on that statement here


Fauci offers support for Trump

Fauci sought to squash any notion of a fissure between himself and President Trump, saying at the opening of a coronavirus task force briefing that the president repeatedly and immediately backed social distancing recommendations from Fauci and other public health officials despite the economic pain.

“The first and only time that I went in and said we should do mitigation strongly, the response was, ‘yes, we’ll do it,'” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters.

He also described as a “poor choice of words” his remarks to CNN in an interview when he said there was “pushback” to shutting the country down at the end of February.

Asked by a reporter if he was clarifying his remarks voluntarily, Fauci shot back.

“Everything I do is voluntarily,” Fauci said. “Please, don’t even imply that.”

More on his remarks here.


That wasn’t the only controversy at the White House today…

Trump claims he, not governors, has authority on opening state economies

President Trump took a controversial stance on federalism Monday, claiming that he holds the ultimate authority, not state governors, to loosen restrictions on states as the coronavirus outbreak eases. That’s an assertion disputed by legal experts.

Trump’s tweet: “For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect,” Trump tweeted. “It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue,” Trump continued. “A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!” Trump repeatedly doubled down on the claim during Monday’s briefing insisting that “numerous provisions” of the Constitution gave him that authority but declining to detail them.

The reality: While Trump has the clear authority to rescind or change federal health guidelines, state and local officials do not need to follow the federal government’s orders, legal experts say. As a result, state and local jurisdictions could continue to recommend more stringent restrictions even if the president seeks to loosen them. The same reasoning is why the administration was reluctant to issue a national stay at home order: legal experts say he doesn’t have the authority.

Flashback: Trump has loudly defended his position that states should fend for themselves in imposing restrictions and acquiring medical supplies. It was just over a week ago on April 4 that Trump talked about how important it was for states to be independent:

“We have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those governors… they’re doing a great job. They’re being very, very successful in what they’re doing. And as you know, I want the governors to be running things.”

Read more here.


Northeast governors form group to discuss reopening of region economies

Trump’s tweet notwithstanding, a theme of the coronavirus response has been governors taking matters into their own hands. The latest example: The governors of seven states in the northeast are working together to create joint recommendations on how they can reopen their economies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effort is being led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and includes Democratic Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, John Carney Jr. of Delaware and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island. Later on Monday, it was announced that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker would join, making him the lone Republican of the group.

During a conference call Monday, the governors said they will name a public health official, an economic official and their respective chiefs of staff to work on the plan.

The governors emphasized the importance of working together, so one state doesn’t end up with policies that would put its neighbors at risk or cause the outbreak to start up again. 

Read more here

Western states made a similar announcement: The governors of Washington, California and Oregon on Monday announced they were also working on a joint plan for reopening their states’ respective economies once it is safe to lift coronavirus-related restrictions.

Read more here.


The latest on the Trump vs. WHO…  

WHO chief says he has good relationship with Trump despite president’s comments

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general said Monday he hopes to maintain good relations with the United States as President Trump sends signals he is considering cutting the agency’s funding in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he spoke with Trump two weeks ago.

“The United States is actually the largest contributor to WHO, and I have met President Trump a number of times before, starting from 2017,” Tedros said. “What I know is that he is supportive, and I hope the funding to WHO will continue. The relationships that we have is very good, and we hope this will continue.”

Trump said Friday that the United States had contributed far more to the WHO than other countries, specifically China.

Read more here.


Elsewhere in the administration, trade adviser Peter Navarro made the rounds:

Trump adviser says ‘globalization of production’ caused medical equipment shortages

White House trade adviser criticizes TV health experts, warns of mortal danger to economy


More from the administration

Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic

Trump offers sympathies to family of real estate mogul friend who died of coronavirus

Roosevelt sailor with coronavirus dies

Trump says Jared and Ivanka won’t be part of new economic coronavirus council


In Congress…

Senate punts on coronavirus aid until Thursday

The Senate on Monday punted any action on a stalled coronavirus relief bill until at least Thursday, after adjourning without taking action.

The Senate held a “pro forma” session — brief, constitutionally required meetings that take place every three days — with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) presiding as the only senator in the chamber.

Earlier Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged Republicans to “stop posturing” and negotiate on an “interim” coronavirus relief bill that is currently stalemated by partisan divisions.

The state of play: Last week, the Senate blocked two coronavirus relief bills — one from Republicans and an attempt to expand it by Democrats. Republicans want to pass $250 billion in grants to small businesses but Democrats are pushing to include billions for hospitals and state and local governments.

More on that here.


House delays return to May

The House is not expected to convene until at least May 4, delaying a return originally planned for next week as stay-at-home orders remain in place across the nation.

Lawmakers had grown increasingly skeptical that the House could convene by the originally planned date of April 20, given that federal health guidelines for social distancing are still in place until at least the end of the month.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office announced Monday that the expected date to return will be in early May “absent an emergency.”

More on that here.


More from Congress

Democratic senators want to create panel to determine how to reopen country

Democrats press Labor secretary for broad distribution of unemployment benefits

Warren wants paid sick leave, ‘premium pay’ for essential workers in next coronavirus bill


In the states…

Cuomo says ‘worst is over’ as NY deaths cross 10,000

More than 10,000 people have died from COVID-19 in New York, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Monday that “the worst is over.”

During his daily press briefing, Cuomo said the state has controlled the spread of the virus but warned that could change if people let up on social distancing too soon.

Cuomo said the number of daily deaths has begun to hold steady, but are still very high. The state officially recorded 671 deaths on Sunday, which is down from the 758 deaths reported on Saturday.   

“Not as bad as it has been in the past, but basically flat, and basically flat at a horrific level of pain and grief and sorrow,” Cuomo said. 

Key quote: “Whatever those numbers say, is a direct result of what we do. If we do something stupid, you will see those numbers go right back up tomorrow,” Cuomo warned. 

Read more here.

More from Cuomo: Cuomo: Reopening economy will be a ‘delicate balance’ 


And more from the other states: 

12 governors press Trump for special ObamaCare enrollment period amid coronavirus pandemic

Georgia urged to suspend Jim Crow-era mask law

Louisiana’s lieutenant governor: ‘I was wrong’ to advocate to continue parades, conventions amid coronavirus

NJ officials assume ‘COVID-19 is in most, if not all’ nursing homes

State AGs ask Supreme Court to halt ‘public charge’ rule during pandemic

Wyoming confirms first coronavirus death, making 50 states with fatalities

Multiple states report coronavirus infection rate higher than some of hardest-hit countries

CDC director: Agency sent guidance to Florida weeks before gov ordered some residents to stay at home

South Dakota launches clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine


What we’re reading

‘We need an army’: Hiring of coronavirus trackers seen as key to curbing disease spread (Stat News)

3 vans, 6 coolers, a plane, a storm and 2 labs: a nasal swab’s journey (New York Times

Hundreds of thousands return to work as Spain relaxes coronavirus lockdown (CNN)

Coronavirus is making Medicare for All look a lot better, backers say (San Francisco Chronicle)

The East Coast, always in the spotlight, owes a debt to the west (New York Times)

Nebraska not budging from 23-month timeline for launching Medicaid expansion (Omaha World Herald)

In Idaho, far-right Republicans Defy Coronavirus Health Restrictions (NPR)


The Hill op-eds

What Jonas Salk would have said about COVID-19

A better way to grapple with benefit-cost trade-offs in a pandemic

Reentry after the panic: Paying the health price of extreme isolation

Tags Andrew Cuomo Anthony Fauci Chuck Schumer Coronavirus Dan Sullivan Donald Trump John Carney Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer

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