Overnight Health Care: Pressure builds on White House on testing | Georgia to reopen some businesses | Trump to meet with Cuomo Tuesday

Overnight Health Care: Pressure builds on White House on testing | Georgia to reopen some businesses | Trump to meet with Cuomo Tuesday
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Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

The White House and states are still at odds over coronavirus testing, and experts say the country has a long way to go in order to ramp up to the level necessary to get to "phase one" of the administration's reopening plan. 

But more states are already outlining how they will start to reopen their economies, some as soon as this week.  


We'll start with testing: 

Pressure builds on White House to increase tests

The White House says there are enough tests to enter phase one of the reopening plan, but experts say many more are needed.

  • Harvard researchers say 500,000 to 700,000 tests per day are needed, up from about 150,000 now. 
  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb gave a similar estimate, of about 3 million per week. 
  • Former CDC Director Tom Frieden says between 3 and 20 (!) times more tests are needed. 

Key quote: “Right now, we have a federal government that keeps giving the wrong message to the American people,” said Harvard’s Ashish Jha. “They keep saying ‘We don’t need any more testing, we don’t need any more testing.’ That’s just wrong.”

Read more here.  

Related: US needs to conduct 20 million coronavirus tests per day to reopen fully, Harvard report says

Despite the apparent need for more tests, some states are pushing ahead


The reopening….it’s starting! Georgia to reopen some businesses, including gyms and salons

Some Georgia businesses, including gyms, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys, will be allowed to open Friday as the state moves toward reopening its economy.

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said Monday those businesses will be required to stagger shifts, keep workspaces six feet apart and screen workers for respiratory illnesses and fevers.

Theaters, private social clubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen April 27 and will be required to follow the same requirements. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed.

"By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress we all have made in this battle against COVID-19," Kemp said at a press conference. 

Read more here.

Related: Texas begins reopening state parks with restrictions

Vermont begins reopening 'low contact' businesses with two-person staff limit

Ohio closes schools through the end of academic year

Here's when all 50 states plan to reopen after coronavirus restrictions

 To be a fly on the wall for this: Trump says he'll meet with Cuomo at White House on Tuesday

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York attorney general working on list of Trump initiatives for Biden to reverse Paul Rudd hands out cookies to long lines of early voters waiting in rain Two events in NY county turn into superspreaders that infect 56 people MORE (D) will visit the White House for a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss the state's coronavirus response, President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE said Monday.

"They’re getting it together in New York. A lot of good things are happening in New York. And I think the governor’s going to come in to see us tomorrow," Trump said during a press briefing. "Andrew is going to be coming in with some of his people. So we look forward to that."

Governors have largely communicated with the White House via video conference in recent weeks as the coronavirus curbs travel.


Trump and Cuomo have had a complex relationship throughout the pandemic, which has hit New York harder than any other part of the country. The president has oscillated between using Cuomo as a foil when the governor has been critical and citing Cuomo's more complimentary remarks about the federal response.

Read more here

President Trump reportedly told governors they could “call your own shots” about when to reopen state economies— but now he is backing protests against those guidelines.

Trump support for protests threatens to undermine social distancing rules 

President Trump for three straight days has backed demonstrators protesting state social distancing measures, ratcheting up already high tensions with state governors and cutting against the White House’s own recommendations for a gradual reopening of business.

Trump’s tweets and words of support for protesters have contradicted the administration’s own health experts and Vice President Pence, who have urged Americans to heed the advice of local officials.

Read more here


Related: Governors headed for messy fight over coronavirus restrictions

Meet the top American fighting COVID-19 at WHO

As President Trump rails against the World Health Organization (WHO), there’s a high-profile American helping lead the organization’s response, whom our Reid Wilson spoke with. 

“I try to stay out of the politics because I'm the technical person, but it's disappointing to see, it's disappointing to hear,” Maria Van Kerkhove said of Trump's criticisms. “I love my country, I want to see that that financial support as well as the technical support continues.”

What’s a typical day at the WHO during a pandemic? Her long days begin with an incident management meeting, where division chiefs review what they know about the coronavirus pandemic and what teams are working on. Van Kerkhove and the WHO team then dedicate another hour to other outbreaks raging on, from another Ebola epidemic to yellow fever, malaria, cholera and HIV.

By 10 a.m., Van Kerkhove is on the phone with armies of academics studying the coronavirus, senior leaders in national health ministries, regional WHO managers and incident management teams. Her own team spends days writing new guidance that will eventually inform actions from the international level down to the most local level, aiding doctors and nurses as they care for the patients struggling to hold on to their lives.

Read more here.


News you don’t see every day: Maryland negotiated with South Korea to obtain 500,000 coronavirus tests 

Maryland has obtained 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Monday, as states push to increase their testing capacity. 

Hogan’s wife, Yumi Hogan, is a Korean immigrant and had been on the phone in the middle of the night in recent weeks helping to secure the purchase, The New York Times reported Monday

“Luckily we had a very strong relationship with Korea,” Hogan told the Times. “But it should not have been this difficult.”

“After weeks of diplomatic discussions and procurement efforts, the State of Maryland has acquired *500,000* COVID-19 tests from LabGenomics in South Korea,” Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci tweeted Monday

Big picture: The moves show the lengths governors are going to in trying to get more coronavirus tests, as they also call for more help from the federal government. 

Read more here

House lawmakers press China over export delays on medical supplies

A group of 15 House lawmakers in both parties wrote to the Chinese ambassador on Monday raising concerns with reports of delays of exports of key medical supplies like tests and ventilators to the United States. 

The letter, led by Reps. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Democrats sense momentum for expanding child tax credit Democrats say affordable housing would be a top priority in a Biden administration MORE (D-Wash.), Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodHow to expand rural broadband, fast and affordably America can't afford to ignore the food service distribution industry On The Money: McConnell previews GOP coronavirus bill | Senate panel advances Trump Fed nominee who recently supported gold standard | Economists warn about scaled-back unemployment benefits MORE (R-Ill.) and Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenDemocratic lawmaker calls for stronger focus on trade leverage to raise standards The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden, Harris's first day as running mates MORE (D-Wash.), pointed to new export rules issued by China on March 31 as slowing down shipments of key medical supplies in the fight against coronavirus. 

Read the letter here.  

Elsewhere in The Hill: CDC: Poisonings from cleaners, disinfectants rose sharply in March

WHO chief: Worst of coronavirus pandemic still ahead

What we’re reading

Chaos reigns with more than 100 coronavirus antibody tests in use — and only 4 with government approval (Yahoo News)

Amid pandemic, FDA seizes cheaper drugs from Canada (Kaiser Health News)

In pursuit of PPE (New England Journal of Medicine)

Brett Giroir, Trump’s testing czar, was forced out of a job developing vaccine projects. Now he’s on the hot seat (Washington Post)

Medical staffing companies cut doctors’ pay while spending millions on political ads (ProPublica)

Coronavirus testing hampered by disarray, shortages, backlogs (Wall Street Journal)

State by state

Newsom’s secretive $1-billion mask deal with Chinese automaker sparks bipartisan concerns (LA Times)

‘Delusional’: governors reject Pence’s claim on virus testing (New York Times)

Coronavirus is tearing through prison and jail populations in Ohio and Illinois (CNN

Before ‘tidal wave’ of illness, nursing home thought it had COVID-19 contained (Kaiser Health News/Nashville Public Radio)

The Hill op-eds 

Local officials are in the dark on federal efforts to distribute medical supplies