Overnight Health Care: Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil 'Rooseveltian' relief package | GOP chairman says nation needs 'millions' more tests to safely reopen | Harvard study says only nine states ready to reopen safely

Overnight Health Care: Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil 'Rooseveltian' relief package | GOP chairman says nation needs 'millions' more tests to safely reopen | Harvard study says only nine states ready to reopen safely
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Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care. 

There are 1.25 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., including 75,000 deaths.

Democrats are preparing another relief package but facing pushback from Republicans who say Congress should wait to see the impact of the last stimulus bill first. Meanwhile, testing has improved but still isn’t where it needs to be, according to a Senate Republican chairman and Harvard experts. 


Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil 'Rooseveltian' relief package

Democrats want to set a big marker for the next round of negotiations over coronavirus relief. 

“We need big, bold action," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said in an MSNBC interview with Stephanie Ruhle, adding that he and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 After vote against coronavirus relief package, Golden calls for more bipartisanship in Congress Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (D-Calif.) "are working very closely together on putting together a very strong plan, which you will hear shortly.”

“We need Franklin Rooseveltian-type action and we hope to take that in the House and Senate in a very big and bold way,” he added.

On the other side: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe bizarre back story of the filibuster The Bible's wisdom about addressing our political tribalism Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE’s (R-Ky.) said earlier this week that Congress needs to "take a pause” before passing more pandemic relief legislation.

“The people like McConnell and [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy and even [President] Trump who say, ‘Let’s wait and do nothing,’ well, they remind me of the old Herbert Hoovers,” Schumer said. “We had the Great Depression — Hoover said let’s just wait it out. It got worse and worse.”

Read more here.



House Democrats probe HHS provider funding

A pair of top House Democrats on Thursday demanded answers from the Trump administration over how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been distributing COVID-19 provider relief funds and loans, and how those loans are being spent.

In a letter to HHS, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats adjust language on child tax credit in relief bill Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda MORE (D-Mass.) said the administration has not been transparent about how it is allocating the billions of dollars made available for providers by the CARES Act.

"Currently, despite repeated requests, this Administration has prevented Congress from obtaining the data that the Department has available on funding for our health care system, data that is necessary to inform near future legislation," the Democrats wrote.

Rewind: Congress set aside $100 billion in the CARES legislation to provide direct financial assistance to hospitals and other health care providers responding to the pandemic.

HHS rushed $30 billion to providers just after the legislation passed, but much of that first wave bypassed hospitals in states on the front lines of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus. 

Next steps unclear: The administration on Wednesday quietly published data on which providers received portions of the $20 billion fund, but this latest round of money was "inexplicably limited to providers who received funding in the first distribution," Pallone and Neal said. Moreover, funding for providers directly impacted by COVID-19 and who are fighting on the frontlines to treat and contain this crisis "has remained wholly inadequate," they said.

GOP chairman says nation needs 'millions' more tests to reopen safely

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.) said Thursday that the United States needs “millions more tests” to reopen the economy safely. 

“To test every nursing home, and every prison, everyone in an operating room, and some entire classes and campuses and factories, teams at sports events, and to give those tests more than once, we will need millions more tests than we're producing today,” Alexander said at a hearing examining testing efforts.

Different tune than Trump: President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE has repeatedly downplayed the need for testing, in contrast with Alexander’s comments. 

NIH ‘Shark Tank’ contest on testing: National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said that since the contest to find new testing technologies launched just more than a week ago, more than 1,000 applications have been initiated, with 79 complete, and 20 having been selected to move to the first phase of scrutiny. 

Read more here


Harvard study says only nine states ready to reopen safely

Only nine states are running enough COVID-19 tests to contain their outbreaks and reopen by May 15, according to a Harvard-NPR analysis released Thursday.

Those nine states also would need to be tracing and isolating positive cases and their contacts in order to open safely by May 15, the study said. 

The states meeting that criteria are Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those states have enough capacity to test all infected people and their close contacts who may have been exposed to the virus. 

But states with much larger populations and bigger COVID-19 outbreaks, including New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, are running far fewer tests than are needed to lift some physical distancing restrictions by May 15.

While governors in those states are moving more slowly toward reopening, states that are already lifting restrictions, including Georgia, Texas and Colorado, are also far from meeting the minimum testing targets set by Harvard. 

Why it matters: If states are reopening without having enough testing, the problem will only be compounded as the rate of cases picks up again, which is expected as people begin leaving their homes and interacting with each other. 


Read more here.

Related: Rhode Island to end stay-at-home order starting Saturday

Michigan governor again extends stay-at-home order amid protests 

Pelosi calls for federal standard to reopen country

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling for the Trump administration to adopt a set of national, science-based standards for reopening the country. 

"I do think there should be federal standards, and I think that they should set an example," Pelosi said. 

Pelosi cautioned against a state-by-state patchwork, noting that lines on a map are no barrier to the highly contagious virus.


"Everything should be based on science, and not the state or local — whatever it is," she said. "And if you're going to have a standard, you really have to have a federal standard. Because as we know, viruses know no borders, nationally, but they certainly don't know any state borders."

Read more here

What we’re reading

Trump administration rejects CDC guidance on reopening US amid coronavirus (CNN.com)

Admin shelves CDC guide to reopening country (AP)

Will Gilead price its coronavirus drug for public good or company profit? (Reuters)

Amtrak To Require Masks Starting Monday To Avoid Spread Of Coronavirus (NPR

State by state

California identifies nail salons as source of coronavirus community spread, Gov. Newsom says (CNBC)

Salon owner released from jail after Texas governor changes coronavirus orders (CBS News

What happened when health officials wanted to close a meatpacking plant, but the governor said no (ProPublica)

Op-Eds in The Hill

Health executives and policymakers must join the battle against preeclampsia

Is COVID-19 the next 9/11 health crisis?

Data-driven science is the only way to beat COVID-19