Coronavirus Report

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Sen. Barrasso says it’s too soon to consider more funding for states; White House faces new challenges


> White House struggles to contain coronavirus spread among its ranks 

> FDA, CDC chiefs to enter self-quarantine after contact with positive White House aide 

> Battle heats up between South Dakota government and Sioux tribes

> FDA grants emergency use authorization for Abbott coronavirus antibody test 

> Wuhan sees new COVID-19 cluster, deepening fears of a second wave of the virus 

> Poll shows more Americans are beginning to ease up on isolation 

> Sen. Barrasso says we haven’t sent out the $650 billion for states and localities already appropriated; too soon to consider more


The coronavirus is raising questions about the safety of yet another workplace: the White House. Following the news that a valet to President Trump and Katie Miller, Vice President Pence’s press secretary, both tested positive for COVID-19, three of the government’s top health officials have announced they are going into some form of self-quarantine after loose contact with Miller. Food and Drug Administration Administrator Stephen Hahn and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield both intend to self-quarantine, according to spokespeople. Anthony Fauci said he will go into a “modified” self-quarantine. The timing could not be worse for the administration and Trump. Just as the president is fervently doubling down on his belief that it is safe to reopen the country, the coronavirus is feared to be spreading rapidly through the close quarters of the West Wing. Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to the president,  said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” Sunday that “it is scary to go to work” in the White House. The White House is ramping up its testing and contract tracing efforts to contain the spread of the virus, but with an infected patient roaming its halls, who knows who else in the West Wing could have been exposed. The administration’s battle to contain the outbreak of the virus among its own ranks underscores the conundrum that business leaders across the country are grappling with — how to safely reopen and protect themselves, their employees and their customers. Political persuasion aside, it is inherently difficult to believe the president that it’s safe to get back to work when the coronavirus has creeped its way into the West Wing. The virus most certainly does not care about the politics of the pandemic. Should we?





Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the third ranking member in Senate GOP leadership, says we haven’t sent out the $650 billion for states and localities already appropriated and it’s too soon to consider more; calls for funding studies for all vaccine candidates; says rules for low-density communities need to be different than cities; and adds that it’s time for rural hospitals to resume elective procedures.





Watch the full interview here

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Welcome to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. It’s Monday, May 11.

Editor’s Note. 





After the taping had concluded of my interview with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) but our Skype  connection continued, the senator held up a newspaper, the April 30 edition of the News Letter Journal from Newcastle, Wyo. The headline reads, “Hospital cuts staff, hours, $2.7 million” and another headline on the front page reads “Still no cases — No positive test results for COVID in county.”  I asked the senator to text me a picture of that paper, which I then embedded above because I can imagine that if I lived in Newcastle and needed a hip replacement, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, a check-in with a doctor for a sinus infection, or any number of other “elective procedures,” I’d be very frustrated that a rural hospital in a county with zero coronavirus infections could not help me. And because they can’t help me with my hypothetical ailment, health care workers are losing their jobs and the hospital is cutting back services that are already endangered in America’s rural areas.


What I learned from Barrasso is that we need to be careful of approaches where we think one size fits all. I think that different states today are proceeding along different lines. Gyms, tattoo parlors and salons opened in Wyoming on May 1 — and there does not seem to be a surge in new infections. The state is planning to open bars and restaurants on May 15, but only those establishments that have put into place precautionary measures. Maybe cities will eventually be able to do this safely as well, but clearly there is an uneven patchwork of infection in the nation. In my view, advocates of reopening and those cautioning against it need to widen their apertures on both sides to understand that rebuilding high-trust environments for people to socialize, to learn in, to do business in, and play and eat in is going to take time. Barrasso said testing is key — and he quoted Anthony Fauci saying we need to be able to do 3 million tests a week in the U.S. to get where we need to be.  


Barrasso remembered that I had worked for former Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) of New Mexico and said that the distancing rules and business and commerce guidelines needed to be different between Albuquerque and most of the rest of the state. Drive 30 minutes outside Alexandria, Va., and one can see a slide into very low density communities. Somehow embracing these differences and acknowledging them may be a path to desensitizing some of the growing unrest in the country over shutdowns — at least that is my view at the moment.


Interesting interview with Sen. Barrasso. Hope you find it valuable.


— Steve Clemons



Your Coronavirus Report team includes Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of The Hill, and researcher Andrew Wargofchik. Follow us on Twitter at @SCClemons and @a_wargofchik. CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Hill’s Coronavirus Special Report. To stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus, visit and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter for the latest developments from the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings.



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There are 4,142,970 reported cases of COVID-19 throughout the world. 283,861 deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus as of the time of this newsletter. 


The U.S. is reporting 1,334,951 cases and 79,825 deaths. Spain 224,350. The U.K. and Russia have surpassed Italy’s total number of cases with 224,327 and 221,334 confirmed cases, respectively. 219,814 in Italy. 177,094 in France. Germany 171,999. Brazil 163,510. 138,657 in Turkey. 109,286 in Iran. 67,307 in Peru. 41,014 in Saudi Arabia. 35,022 in Mexico. 23,906 in Belarus. 22,996 in Ireland. 8,157 in Czechia. 6,034 in Argentina. 


This in from my colleague Reid Wilson:

States / territories where week-over-week cases are UP over last week:  AL, AZ, AR, CA, CT, DE, DC, ID, KY, ME, MD, MN, MS, NE, NC, OH, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WV, WI, WY.  


States where week-over-week cases are down two weeks in a row: HI, LA, MA, MI, MT, NV, NJ, NY, PA, RI.


New York is reporting 335,395 cases. 138,754 in New Jersey. 77,793 in Massachusetts. 77,741 in Illinois. 67,875 in California. Pennsylvania 60,357. Michigan 47,182. Florida 40,982. Texas 39,258. 33,837 in Georgia. 33,373 in Maryland. Virginia is reporting 25,070 cases. 24,629 confirmed cases in Indiana. 24,081 in Ohio. 19,703 in Colorado. 16,891 in Washington, D.C. 8,171 cases in Nebraska, which saw a dramatic spike in cases over the weekend. 6,251 in Utah. 926 in Vermont. 


8,987,524 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the U.S. 216,169 have reported full recoveries from the virus in the states.


GOP senators worry Trump, COVID-19 could cost them their majority.  Senate Republicans looking at polls showing GOP incumbents losing ground are concerned that President Trump‘s handling of the pandemic has put their majority in danger. The two biggest criticisms of Trump that GOP lawmakers express privately are that his administration took too long to deploy coronavirus tests and that the president’s statements and demeanor have been too flippant. (The Hill)


Administration health officials to answer senators’ questions via videoconferencing. Administration officials will answer senators’ questions at a Tuesday hearing through video conference, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Sunday. The update follows Alexander’s announcement Saturday that FDA Commissioner Stephan Hahn and CDC Director Robert Redfield, who are both self-quarantining after exposure to COVID-19, would appear at the hearing through video conference. 


FDA grants authorization to new Abbott COVID-19 antibody test. The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to a new coronavirus antibody test from Abbott Labs, the company announced Monday. Abbott said it plans to ship nearly 30 million antibody tests globally in May, and will have capacity for 60 million tests in June. (The Hill)


Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) 

@SenKamalaHarris Cities should be able to deliver meals from local restaurants to vulnerable people. It’s a common sense solution to feed hungry people and lift up restaurants and suppliers on the brink of collapse. I Introduced the FEED Act last week to make it easier for cities to do that.


Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) 

@JohnCornyn SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI’S HOUSE is not officially coming back yet. They are waiting for the release of a new coronavirus bill, which will cost trillions of dollars. Neither this bill nor anything resembling it will ever become law — it’s a Democratic wish list filled up with all the party’s favored policies. 


Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) 

@repmarkpocan They can’t even control the spread of coronavirus in the White House. How can they look at us with a straight face and tell us we should be reopening the country? They’ll protect themselves. But they refuse to protect this country.





South Dakota Sioux refuse to take down “illegal” checkpoints. Sioux tribes in South Dakota are refusing to remove coronavirus checkpoints they set up on roads which pass through their land. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem wrote to several tribal leaders last week saying the checkpoints were illegal. But the Sioux say they are the only way of making sure the virus does not enter their reservations. (BBC)


Percentage of Americans avoiding small gatherings slips in new poll. The number of Americans who said they are avoiding small gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic slipped in the last week of April, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. Seventy-four percent of Americans said they have avoided small gatherings in the past week, according to surveys conducted between April 27 and May 3, which is about a 10-point drop from the number who said the same a week before, according to the poll. (The Hill)

Armed stay-at-home demonstrators visit North Carolina Subway. A group of protesters who demonstrated against North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions gained national attention over the weekend after carrying an assortment of different weapons into a Subway sandwich shop with them as they ordered sandwiches. (The Hill)


U.S. to accuse China of trying to hack vaccine data. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. The efforts are part of a surge in cyber thefts and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic. (New York Times


Wuhan sees first COVID-19 cluster since reopening. New coronavirus clusters have been reported in Wuhan city, where the virus first emerged. Wuhan reported five new cases on Monday, after confirming its first case since April 3 on Sunday. Authorities said the small cluster of cases was all from the same residential compound. (BBC

Ukraine’s hospitals under strain, even with few virus cases. Ukraine’s troubled health care system has been overwhelmed by COVID-19, even though it has reported a relatively low number of cases — 15,648 infections and 408 deaths as of Monday. As COVID-19 patients flood into the struggling hospitals, some doctors and nurses must buy their own protective gear or use improvised equipment. (Associated Press)


New study finds coronavirus can decrease life span by 10 years or more. A new study using a statistical measure called “years of life lost” found that on average, those who died from COVID-19 lost more than a decade of their life to the disease. The recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, which has yet to be peer reviewed, found that the average male who died from COVID-19 lost about 13 years of potential life, while women who died from the coronavirus lost about 11 years. (The Hill)


Doctors continue to discover new ways the coronavirus attacks the body. Today, there is widespread recognition that the novel coronavirus is far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus. Often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes. Learning about a new disease on the fly, medical professionals have little solid research to guide them. Even the world’s premier public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have constantly altered their advice to keep pace with new developments. (Washington Post)


New coronavirus “knowledgebase” uses AI to accelerate COVID-19 research. Artificial intelligence is being used to create a “one-stop shop” of the world’s leading coronavirus research. A team at The Institute of Cancer Research in London has adapted its existing system, which sources data on cancer research and drugs, to improve existing information and accelerate new knowledge into COVID-19. (Science Focus)


Coronavirus delay and early ice melt challenge Arctic science mission. They prepared for icy cold and trained to be on the watch for polar bears, but a pandemic just wasn’t part of the program. Now, dozens of scientists are waiting in quarantine for the all-clear to join a yearlong Arctic research mission aimed at improving the models used for forecasting climate change, just as the expedition reaches a crucial phase. (Denver Post)


Tesla says it will resume operations. Here is the company’s plan to bring employees back to work. Tesla says it has started the process to resume operations and released a plan to bring its employees and contractors back to work, amid an escalating dispute with local health authorities in California over a shelter-in-place order that has kept the automaker’s Fremont factory idle during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNBC)


Factories close for good as coronavirus cuts demand. Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent closings, a sign of the heavy damage the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns are exerting on the industrial economy. Makers of dishware in North Carolina, furniture foam in Oregon and cutting boards in Michigan are among the companies closing factories in recent weeks. Caterpillar Inc. said it is considering closing plants in Germany, boat-and-motorcycle-maker Polaris Inc. plans to close a plant in Syracuse, Ind., and tire maker Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plans to close a plant in Gadsden, Ala. (Wall Street Journal


Big food brands, out-of-favor for years, see sales and stock prices jump on stay-at-home grazing. Packaged grocery brands that had run up against Americans’ growing preference for fresh and private-label foods are seeing a resurgence as iconic brands like Goldfish, Oreos, Campbell Soup and Doritos fill the pantries of homebound consumers in search of small pleasures. (Washington Post)


The internet isn’t broken – but its inequalities need to be fixed. No, the internet isn’t broken. But we agree with Meinrath that it is being tested as never before, exposing serious inequalities in internet availability and utility. It seems to us vital that these inequalities be remedied, not only in anticipation of the next time the world’s population is forced to “shelter in place” but because these inequalities stifle the innovation and productivity that the internet makes possible. (Vinton G. Cerf and David S. Isenberg for The Hill)

Are Americans ready to return to normal as states move to reopen? States across the country have started the first stages of reopening, but are Americans ready to resume the “normal” activities taken for granted before the coronavirus? We found that Americans are not quite ready to return to normal just yet. (Douglas Schoen for The Hill)

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Twitter’s Jack Dorsey gives $10 million to coronavirus prison relief effort. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is giving $10 million to the REFORM Alliance that will be used to deliver protective equipment and coronavirus relief aid to prisons and jails across the U.S. The REFORM Alliance, which was founded by rappers Meek Mill and Jay-Z, and is currently run by Van Jones, has been pushing lawmakers to reduce incarcerations during the pandemic, warning that jails and prisons have become hot spots for the spread of the coronavirus. (The Hill)


New York couple turn a corner, donate plasma. The nurse told Carol Lundergan that 620 milliliters of her plasma, a little under three cups, could save the lives of 1.5 people. Between Carol and her husband, Edward Lundergan, they would be saving three lives, maybe more if they donate multiple times. “This makes me happy,” Carol said. In the past two months, the New Paltz, N.Y., couple has tested positive for COVID-19 twice and been quarantined twice. In that time, there were moments when Carol struggled to breathe and thought she might die. (Poughkeepsie Journal)


> Steve interviews Rep. ROSA DELAURO (D-Conn.)

> Steve interviews BIO President and CEO JIM GREENWOOD 

> Steve interviews former Surgeon General VIVEK MURTHY 

> Steve interviews World Central Kitchen founder chef JOSE ANDRES 

> Steve interviews Rep. WILL HURD (R-Texas) 


Watch all Coronavirus Report interviews here.  



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CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. To stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus, visit and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter for the latest developments from the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings.



Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus Report Donald Trump Douglas Schoen John Barrasso John Cornyn Katie Miller Kristi Noem Lamar Alexander Mark Pocan Nancy Pelosi Robert Redfield Rosa DeLauro Stephen Hahn Vivek Murthy Will Hurd

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