DemDaily: Combating the Coronavirus

March 13, 2020

Worldwide, the coronavirus, a dangerous contagent that has reached pandemic levels, has so far sickened more than 142,100 people in at least 113 countries.

(New York Times/Click)

According to The New York Times, since the virus was first reported in the port city of Wuhan, China in December, 2019, at least 5,381 people have died, including 2,201 outside of mainland China.

Six continents have shown sustained transmission of the virus, leading the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to advise against all non-essential travel throughout most of Europe, South Korea, China and Iran.

In Canada, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, became the latest high profile figure to test positive for the coronavirus.

The New Reality: As of 5pm today, there were 2,030 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with 45 fatalities. The hardest hit states include Washington State, New York, California, Massachusetts and Colorado. All but three states have reported cases of the coronavirus.

The New America
Washington State reported the first known US coronavirus case on January 21, 2020. When I last wrote about the coronavirus February 28th, the first case of coronavirus not tied to foreign travel had just been announced in California.

(Foreign Affairs)

In the last week, the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Basketball Association (NBA) have suspended their seasons and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has cancelled March Madness.

The Professional Golf Association cancelled events through April 5th, the Boston Marathon is postponed until September, and Nascar has banned spectators at the race track.

Disneyworld, Disney World, Disney Cruises, Universal Orlando and Six Flags theme parks have shut down.

Broadway, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera performances have been cancelled until at least April 12th.

coronavirus is a family of respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and can infect both animals and people. The name derives from the Latin corona, meaning "crown" or "halo," for the crownlike spikes that protrude from the virus' surface. The novel virus threatening world health now is named "coronavirus disease 2019," abbreviated "COVID-19."

Live Nation and AEG, the world's largest presenters of live music and entertainment events, have cancelled tours.

Movie releases, including "Fast and Furious," "Mulan" and the new James Bond movie, "No Time To Die," have been postponed, and late-night talk shows will be filmed without audiences.

Broadway has gone Dark (NewYorkPost)

Schools are closed in the states of Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, New Mexico, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and in at least six major cities.

In Washington, DC, White House and US Capitol tours are cancelled, and all the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close temporarily starting Saturday.

The Archdiocese of Washington has cancelled mass indefinitely, the Mormon Church has cancelled services worldwide, and all public Masses in Italy, including the Pope's, have been suspended.

Amid fears of a global pandemic, the US stock markets fell sharply in the last two weeks, with Thursday witnessing the worst one-day drop since 1987. Today, however, the dow was up 800 points, providing some encouragement.

Nevertheless, economists are forecasting an economic downturn, with JPMorgan today projecting that a recession will hit the US and European economies by July.

Administration Response
The White House has come under extreme fire by both parties and public officials for its handling of the crisis, and for delaying their response to the virus by more than a month, despite early warnings by senior advisors.

(MLive.com)

The most intense critique has been over the lack of access to testing, and the administrative red tape that has prevented many states from getting the necessary resources in a timely manner.

Trump was already under heavy criticism for measures he had taken to weaken our public health emergency programs and preparedness since taking office.

These include instituting a hiring freeze that left nearly 700 vacant positions at the CDC, funding cuts and elimination of senior global health security positions and entire offices responsible for leading the US response to deadly pandemics.

This afternoon the President declared a national emergency, releasing up to $50 billion dollars in disaster relief funding to help states combat the rapidly spreading disease.

The White House also declared today that the US is instituting a travel ban for people who have been in certain European countries for 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the US. It does not apply to US citizens, legal permanent residents or their family members.

Congressional Response
This afternoon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House Coronavirus Assistance Bill, which will ensure free coronavirus testing, two weeks paid sick and family leave, and stengthen unemployment insurance for those who lose their jobs. Pelosi said the bill also "takes aggressive action to strengthen food security initiatives, including student meals, as well as SNAP, seniors meals and food banks."

Pelosi Announces COVID-19 Aid Package (AP)

Pelosi, who has been in days of negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, vowed to put the bill to a vote today, regardless of disagreements over certain components. In his press conference, President Trump criticized the legislation saying, Democrats "are not doing what's right for the country."

Changing Political Landscape
The impact of COVID-19 on the US presidential election is already evident, with Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders each holding their own press conferences yesterday to address the crisis -- in direct contrast to the lack of leadership shown by President Trump.

Biden said, "This virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration. Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by adversarial relationships with the truth that he continues to have."

"We have an administration that is largely incompetent and whose incompetence and recklessness have threatened the lives of many, many people in this country," said Sanders.

Both candidates have cut their travel time and cancelled major rallies and gatherings.

The March 15th eleventh Democratic presidential primary debate, hosted by CNN and Univision in partnership with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' BOLD PAC, has been changed to Washington, DC with no in-person viewing audience. Sunday's event, the first to feature Biden and Sanders head-to-head on stage, will take place from 8:00pm to 10:00pm ET.

Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R), announced that the state's presidential primaries, scheduled for April 4th, will be postponed to June 20th.
DemList will keep you informed.

Resources
What You Need To Know: CDC on Coronavirus

 

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: CDC, MSNBC, USToday, NewYorkTimes

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