Overnight Health Care: Trump downplaying of COVID-19 sparks new criticism of response
Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care. We hope you enjoyed a socially distanced 4th of July weekend.
The news on COVID-19 is still grim. There are 2.9 million confirmed cases in the U.S., making up 25 percent of the global total. The crisis in the U.S. is worsening, with 40 states seeing increases in cases. There are four epicenters of the epidemic in the U.S., and the country is expected to surpass 60,000 daily cases this week.
Still, President Trump continues to make false claims about COVID-19 that experts worry are harming the response to the pandemic. Let’s start there:
Trump downplaying of COVID-19 sparks new criticism of response
President Trump‘s repeated downplaying of the coronavirus pandemic is under renewed scrutiny as COVID-19 case numbers rise, and public health experts and Democrats say he is making it worse by effectively denying that the growing outbreaks are a problem.
The U.S. is expected to see a new high of 60,000 new coronavirus cases a day this week, far above the peak when New York was the epicenter of the outbreak in April. Now there are four epicenters in the U.S. where hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed.
Outbreaks are growing in Arizona, Texas, Florida and California; there is no end to these surges in sight, and cases are increasing in 40 states, compared to just 10 a few months ago.
Yet Trump over the weekend claimed that COVID-19 is “totally harmless” to 99 percent of people who get the disease and he continued to tie surging outbreaks to increased testing, both claims that experts say is false and could negatively influence people’s behaviors during the pandemic.
“He is facilitating the virus. He is enabling the virus by statements like that and you’re seeing the infection rate go up, and you’re seeing the economy suffer, and he is part of that current debacle that we are in,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Monday.
Why it matters: Trump’s comments could provide a false sense of security and undermine the response to the worsening COVID-19 crisis as some people refuse to practice social distancing or wear masks in public, experts say.
Read more here.
Don’t hold your breath for a federal mask order
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Monday that a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks “is not in order” as coronavirus cases rise in a number of states.
Meadows told “Fox & Friends” that the decision to require masks is a “state-to-state issue”.
“A national mandate is not in order. We’re allowing our governors and our local mayors to weigh in on that,” he said.
Action in the states, however: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), after previously resisting, issued a mask order last week as case spike in his state.
New restrictions in Miami as situation worsens
Miami-Dade County will close bars and restaurants amid an ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus in Florida, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) announced Monday.
“I am signing an emergency order that will close restaurants (except for takeout and delivery services), along with ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, and short-term rentals,” he said.
Big picture: Florida is one of the key states criticized for reopening too early and now seeing a major resurgence of the virus. At least in Miami-Dade County, some of those restrictions are now going back in place.
House pushes back on Trump on WHO funding
A spending bill released by House Democrats on Sunday would provide funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) following President Trump‘s threat to withhold U.S. contributions.
The annual spending bill rejected a slew of major requests from Trump to cut money for international and foreign policy programs.
Trump has accused the WHO of kowtowing to China and blamed it for moving too slowly to raise the alarm as the coronavirus spread. Trump’s critics have accused him of trying to deflect from his own failures in containing the virus in the U.S. by making the WHO a scapegoat.
Another point of contention: The bill’s provisions lifting restrictions on funding from groups that provide information on abortion or advocate for reproductive rights are unlikely to make it through the GOP-controlled Senate.
What we’re reading
As the virus surged, Florida partied. Tracking the revelers has been tough (New York Times)
Doctors say the US is in a ‘free fall’ with coronavirus as 32 states struggle with higher rates of infection (CNN.com)
The fullest look yet at the racial inequity of coronavirus (The New York Times)
Early coronavirus testing restrictions led to some big ER bills (NPR)
State by state
Florida governor, on the coronavirus: ‘I think we’ve stabilized at where we’re at’ (Tampa Bay Times)
Cuomo clears New York to enter phase 3 without indoor dining (NBC New York)
Murphy hitting pause on reopening N.J. as coronavirus rate of transmission rises (NJ.com)
The Hill op-eds
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