Overnight Health Care: Ousted Trump official will warn of 'unprecedented illness and fatalities' | Experts tell coronavirus panel that more testing needed to reopen US | Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left

Overnight Health Care: Ousted Trump official will warn of 'unprecedented illness and fatalities' | Experts tell coronavirus panel that more testing needed to reopen US | Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left
© Phe.gov

Welcome to The Hill’s Overnight Health Care. 

There 1.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with 84,000 deaths. 

Rick Bright, the ousted administration official who was in charge of the federal agency that develops medical countermeasures, will testify tomorrow in the House. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Elsewhere in the Capitol, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE is rallying Democrats for a Friday vote on the next coronavirus stimulus bill, which Senate Republicans have said is a non-starter.

We'll start with Bright: 

Ousted Trump official will warn of 'unprecedented illness and fatalities' without coordinated coronavirus response

Rick Bright, a former agency head turned whistleblower, plans to testify in Congress that the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, and that without a national coordinated response "2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history."

"Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities," Bright will say, according to written testimony first obtained by CNN and then posted publicly by a House committee.

Much of what Bright plans to say was highlighted in his whistleblower complaint – the Department of Health and Human Services ignored his warnings about a broad outbreak and dismissed his recommendations to ramp up U.S production of masks, respirators and other critical supplies, such as medicine, syringes and swabs. 

What's next: Bright will also chart a path forward. He plans to call for a national testing strategy to combat the virus, something that the White House has left to individual states.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more here

Whistleblower or not, most experts agree that the country is not ready to reopen unless testing – diagnostic and antibody – ramps up in a big way

Experts tell coronavirus panel that more testing needed to reopen US

Health experts told members of Congress on Wednesday that states need more help from the federal government on coronavirus testing in order to safely reopen the economy.

In the first hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, experts cautioned that reopening the country prematurely could lead to needless deaths from the disease.

“It was inadequate testing that precipitated the national shutdown. We must not make the same mistakes again as we open up our nation,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told lawmakers.

Scott Gottlieb, a former Food & Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner under President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE, told lawmakers that a “phased” reopening of the country is needed to mitigate the risk of a new epidemic.

“We’ve seen signs of a slowing epidemic nationally but we're still going to be reopening against the backdrop of more spread than we anticipated,” he said.

Read more here.

Abbott's rapid coronavirus test misses nearly half of positive cases, study finds

A rapid coronavirus diagnostic test manufactured by Abbott may miss nearly half of all positive infections, according to a pre-published study from New York University.

The analysis of Abbott's ID NOW system, which has not been peer-reviewed, found the test to be "unacceptable" in a clinical setting.

But Abbott said it's not clear if the researchers used the samples correctly. A spokesperson said the company's own rate of false negatives that it has shared with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is .02 percent. 

The analysis found Abbott's test missed a third of samples collected with nasopharyngeal swabs, which are taken from the back of the nose, that tested positive with a rival test from Cepheid. 

ADVERTISEMENT

When using samples collected with “dry" nasal swabs, Abbott test missed more than 48 percent of positive cases, the study said. The "dry" swabs do not go as deep into the nose and are what the company recommends for the test. 

Caveats: The NYU study is in pre publication, meaning it has not been peer-reviewed or accepted into any medical journal.

Read more here

In the Capitol, it almost seems like business as usual as Democrats overcome some internal dissent to pass a bill that the Senate GOP opposes.

Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is plowing ahead with a vote Friday on House Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus relief package, bucking progressives who are calling for a delay to give lawmakers time to secure additional liberal priorities in the bill.

Pelosi and her allies are putting on a show of force as they try to unite the sometimes-fractious caucus and get their troops in line ahead of this week’s roll call on the 1,800-plus-page bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

The math: No Republicans are expected to back the package, so Democratic leaders want to limit defections to increase the pressure on President Trump and Senate Republicans who are in no rush to negotiate another costly rescue package.

The cavalry: A dozen influential progressive groups and unions — including Indivisible, MoveOn, SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers — issued a joint statement endorsing the Heroes package.

Read more here

Related: GOP senator blocks resolution calling for CDC guidelines to be released

Trump says he was 'surprised' by Fauci's warnings on reopening

President Trump on Wednesday broke with Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day Fauci: It's 'entirely conceivable' we could be 'way down' on level of cases by November MORE after the nation's top infectious diseases expert warned a day earlier about the dangers of lifting coronavirus restrictions too soon.

"Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation," Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room when asked about Fauci's comments to a Senate committee.

ADVERTISEMENT

Asked later what he meant in saying Fauci was playing "all sides," Trump said he was particularly bothered by his cautious tone on reopening schools.

"I was surprised by his answer actually," Trump said. "It’s just, to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools."

Context: Fauci on Tuesday pushed back on the idea that schools should be reopened because the coronavirus does not appear to be as lethal to young children during a contentious exchange with Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.). 

"We really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we're seeing things the virus can do that we didn't see from the studies in China or in Europe," Fauci said.

Read more from Brett Samuels here

Study: 26.8 million people could lose employer health coverage in downturn

A new study estimates that about 27 million people could lose their employer-sponsored health insurance in the middle of a pandemic due to job losses, though many will be able to find coverage elsewhere. 

The analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that as of May 2, 26.8 million people could have lost their employer health insurance because either they or a family member lost their job and the health insurance that came with it. More than 31 million people have filed for unemployment in recent weeks due to staggering losses from the coronavirus-caused economic downturn.

Not all of the 26.8 million people will become uninsured. In fact, the analysis finds that a large majority, 79 percent, will be eligible for government-subsidized coverage elsewhere, either through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. 

However, 5.7 million people are not eligible for government help, due to factors like living in a state that did not expand Medicaid or making too much income to qualify for ACA subsidies. 

Many of those people could become uninsured, the study estimates. 

Read more here from Peter Sullivan.

Cornyn: Those who have lost employer health care can sign up for ObamaCare 

We're through the looking glass, people. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal Republicans uncomfortably playing defense Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday encouraged Americans who have lost health care coverage during the coronavirus pandemic due to losing their jobs to sign up for ObamaCare. 

"The good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about 180 million Americans, then that is a significant life event, which makes you then eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act — and as you know, it has a sliding scale of subsidies up to 400 percent of poverty," Cornyn told PBS Austin in an interview.

Just a reminder: Cornyn opposes ObamaCare, and has voted to block, defund or repeal the law every time he has had the opportunity. According to the Texas Democratic Party, that has happened 20 times. 

Read more here

More from The Hill: 

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWhy a rising star is leaving Congress Inslee, GOP's Culp advance in Washington governor's race Governors call for Trump to extend funding for National Guard coronavirus response MORE (D) announced Tuesday that the state plans to hire and train more than 1,300 contact tracers by the end of this week in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

More than 100 children in New York are suspected of having a mysterious inflammatory illness believed to be connected to the coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo calls on wealthy to return to New York City: 'You got to come back!' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal Cuomo to serve as National Association of Governors chair MORE (D) said Wednesday. 

Maryland will lift its stay-at-home order beginning on Friday, but the state's D.C.-area suburbs will not yet move forward with reopening, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Wednesday. 

Senate Republicans say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) new $3 trillion coronavirus relief package is dead on arrival in the upper chamber, but they are assembling ideas for a package that could pass this summer.

What we’re reading

Trump privately questions whether coronavirus deaths are being overcounted as Fauci projects the opposite (CNN.com

U.S. likely to get Sanofi vaccine first if it works (Bloomberg)

Where’s the data? In a pandemic, now is no time to sit on Covid-19 trial results (Stat News

State by state

Georgia governor's coronavirus response is the least popular (CNN)

Coronavirus tests are supposed to be free. Some Texans are still being saddled with large bills. (Texas Tribune

Los Angeles mayor says while stay-at-home order stays, 'do not freak out' about it (CNN

The Hill op-eds

Uncomfortable conversations about COVID-19

National Guard on COVID-19 frontlines must be protected

Let science lead: We need more leaders with science backgrounds