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'Other states are thrilled'
President Donald Trump has had enough with pleas from New York about not getting enough desperately needed supplies and equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
"New York has gotten far more than any other State, including hospitals & a hospital ship, but no matter what, always complaining … it wouldn’t matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough," Trump said in a morning tweet barrage. "The complainers should … have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit. Other states are thrilled with the job we have done."
Neither Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo nor New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was Trump's target on Thursday. "Cuomo working hard!" Trump said. What set him off was a letter from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asserting "the tardiness and inadequacy of this Administration’s response to the crisis becomes more painfully evident." (Read Schumer's letter here.)
As the day wore on, it became clearer that there was more than the pandemic-related criticism stoking Trump's anger at Schumer. He's still stewing about the impeachment trial that ended in his acquittal two months ago.
Trump sent a letter to Schumer, saying, "If you spent less time on your ridiculous impeachment hoax, which went haplessly on forever and ended up going nowhere (except increasing my poll numbers) and instead focused on helping the people of New York, then New York would not have been so completely unprepared." (Read Trump's letter here.)
Back on Jan. 26, when the impeachment trial was underway and Trump was expressing confidence that isolated U.S. cases would be contained, Schumer urged federal officials to declare COVID-19 a public health emergency so they could move quickly to respond to a worse outbreak.
Trump also denounced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plan to set up bipartisan oversight for the White House pandemic response and administration of the $2.2 trillion relief package, suggesting it's just a continuation of unfair investigations of him. “Here we go again,” Trump said at the White House coronavirus briefing Thursday. “Witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt.”
The economy bleeds a gusher
Unemployment claims soared to a record-smashing 6.6 million last week, the Labor Department reported, more than double the filings in the previous week.
About half of all working Americans report some kind of income loss affecting themselves or a member of their household due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Trump tried to reassure Americans that the economic collapse won't be long-lasting.
"It's an artificial closing. It's not like we have a massive recession or worse. It's artificial because we turned it off," Trump said at the briefing Thursday. "When this is over, it's going to be a day we're going to celebrate. Because everyone's going to go to work, and I think we're going to have boom times," he said.
The other staggering number Thursday: U.S. COVID-19 deaths approaching the 6,000 mark.
Two weeks ago, the Pentagon promised to make as many as 2,000 military ventilators available as the federal government strains to contend with the coronavirus pandemic. As of Wednesday, less than half had been allocated, The Associated Press reported.
Demand for medical equipment far outpaces the nation's current supply. Cuomo said after speaking with Trump Thursday that there won't be enough.
Cuomo said his state has only 2,200 ventilators in its own stockpile after shipping out 600 to New York City, Westchester and Long Island. He said the state would run out in six days at this rate. FEMA is asking states to answer data-heavy questions to determine where the most urgent needs exist.
“You have to take inventory in your state, and you have to be able to prove that there’s a real need,” White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner told The New York Times. In his first appearance at the daily coronavirus briefing, Kushner said: "The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use."
Since Kushner became involved in running the federal response, Kushner and his allies contend he has brought more order to the process, the Times reported. But some officials said Kushner had mainly added another layer of confusion to the effort, while taking credit for changes already in progress and failing to deliver on promised improvement.
Is coronacare coming?
The White House is considering issuing direct payments to hospitals to cover COVID-19 treatment costs for uninsured Americans, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday.
Based on an analysis of the costs to treat pneumonia, Axios estimates that the average cost of hospitalization for COVID-19 will likely be more than $20,000.
The Trump administration has rejected the idea of reopening Obamacare enrollment for those seeking coverage.
Janison: He went with his gut again
Time after time, Trump has turned away from the advice of experts to trust his own beliefs and instincts. With the U.S. now under deadly assault by the coronavirus pandemic, his listening deficit might seem like a pathology, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Last September, White House economists warned in a study that a pandemic could, hypothetically, kill half a million Americans and wreck the economy. A series of U.S. Health and Human Services run-through exercises that ended last August suggested that the response to an influenza pandemic would be hampered by factors such as underfunding, confusion about who'd be in charge and states going their own way on isolation policies.
On television in early February, with fewer than a dozen U.S. cases reported, Trump said travel restrictions in the U.S. stopped the spread. Later, despite predictions by federal health experts of a long siege, the president said, "There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus.”
It's April. The experts, sadly, were right.
Trump company in cash crunch?
With many of its properties shut down by the pandemic, Trump's family business has been exploring whether it can delay payments on some of its loans and other financial obligations, The New York Times reported.
Company representatives of the Trump Organization have recently spoken with Deutsche Bank, its largest creditor, about the possibility of postponing payments on at least some of its loans.
In Florida, the Trump Organization asked Palm Beach County about whether it expected the company to keep making monthly payments on county land that it leases for a golf club.
The president's son Eric Trump told the Times: “These days everybody is working together … Tenants are working with landlords, landlords are working with banks. The whole world is working together as we fight through this pandemic.”
There aren't conventional times
Democrats announced Thursday that they were postponing their presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee from July 13-16 until the week of Aug. 17, giving more time for the pandemic to subside. The GOP convention is scheduled for the week of Aug. 24.
The announcement didn’t specify whether the convention will remain a traditional four-night affair or whether all aspects will be held in person. A senior Democratic official told The New York Times the event would probably be a “bare minimum” convention.
While there has been talk about having a virtual convention, party officials and Joe Biden — the presumptive nominee — would like to have a live event as long as it can be done safely, sources told Politico.
The new dates also complicate the Biden campaign's financial situation, because it will not be able to access general election funds until August.
Loose lips sink captain
The commanding officer of a U.S. aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of coronavirus on his ship was fired Thursday by Navy leaders who said he created a panic by sharing his memo pleading for his bosses to help with too many people.
Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt at the direction of acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly. Crozier's memo had been leaked to the news media.
“I could reach no other conclusion than that Capt. Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with the covid breakout on his ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was what was needed most at the time," Modly said.
Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee issued a joint statement in support of Crozier. They said that while the captain went outside his chain of command, relieving him "is an overreaction."
All the coronavirus news
For a roundup of major pandemic developments, see the story from Newsday's reporting staff, written by Bart Jones.
What else is happening:
- Trump underwent his second test for coronavirus — this time with a newer, fast-result version — and the result was again negative, the White House said.
- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the government will be able to speed up the first delivery of the first $1,200 stimulus payments to Americans, starting in two weeks instead of three. People who haven't given the government direct-deposit information could get checks anytime between late April and September.
- Biden said Thursday that his aides are working to set up a call between him and Trump to discuss the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said Wednesday he was open to a call.
- The Trump administration is developing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, without getting a false sense of security that it could replace measures to protect themselves.
- Trump said he has invoked the Defense Production Act for the second time Thursday, this time to compel 3M to provide more N95 face masks for use by medical workers in the U.S.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, after finally yielding to calls to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, made clear he's been taking his cues from Trump. DeSantis said the president's grim "demeanor" Tuesday on the projected 100,000-plus U.S. death toll affected his thinking.