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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 40)

Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment

Westlake Legal Group coronavirus-live-updates-a-loans-program-to-save-jobs-runs-dry-22-million-americans-have-filed-for-unemployment Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171069984_bd724013-95ee-4570-a9c0-56846b770e61-articleLarge Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The $349 billion lending program for small businesses has run out of funds.

A federal loan program intended to help small businesses keep workers on their payrolls has proved woefully insufficient, with a staggering 22 million Americans filing for unemployment in the last four weeks, and officials said Thursday that it had run out of money.

The program, called the Paycheck Protection Program, was i limbo as the Small Business Administration said it had run out of money, leaving millions of businesses unable to apply for the loans, while Congress struggles to reach a deal to replenish the funds.

Congress initially allocated $349 billion for the program, which was intended to provide loans to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The money has gone quickly, with more than 1.4 million loans already approved as of Wednesday evening.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza, the administrator of the Small Business Administration, warned on Wednesday night that “by law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations.”

The loans have been sought after as small businesses struggle with virus-induced quarantines and closures, which have quickly depleted cash flows as businesses remain closed and customers stay home.

The program underwrites bank loans for small businesses that will never need to be repaid if owners use most of the money to keep paying employees for two and a half months. Economists and business lobbyists warned when the bill was being debated that the money was nowhere close to the $1 trillion or more that companies would need.

Mr. Mnuchin is expected to resume negotiations with lawmakers about adding another $250 billion to the fund on Thursday, while Treasury staff were expected to meet with aides to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader.

While both parties agree on the need to replenish the program, talks have broken down over whether to simply fill the pot up, as Republicans and the White House want, or make significant changes to how money is allocated to businesses, as Democrats have called for.

Democrats have insisted on attaching new restrictions to ensure the money flows to minority-owned businesses and other companies that are traditionally disadvantaged in the lending market. They also want to add more money for hospitals, food-stamp recipients and state and local governments whose tax receipts have plunged.

The Senate is expected to convene in a procedural session on Thursday, but it is unclear whether Senate Republicans will attempt to pass the funding. Such a maneuver would require unanimous agreement from all 100 senators.

And, just as the money ran out, the Federal Reserve’s backstop for the program came on line. The facility — which takes the loans banks make to small businesses as collateral — became fully operational as of Thursday. Banks that make loans are now able to essentially get financing from the Fed to extend that credit, by using the loans they are making as collateral.

The promise that the program was coming has likely encouraged lending by assuring banks that they would not have to keep the loans on their balance sheets.

Meanwhile, some banks are keeping their customers’ stimulus checks if their accounts are overdrawn. The phenomenon is swiftly becoming a political issue, with the Treasury secretary fielding calls from senators urging him to ensure that relief money isn’t garnished. Banks are legally allowed to withhold funds that go into accounts that have negative balances, and there is no specific provision in the relief package that prevents banks from taking customers’ stimulus money to cover debts.

Trump asks lawmakers for advice on reopening of the country.

President Trump convened bipartisan calls with members of the House and Senate on Thursday, soliciting feedback from key congressional officials in both parties as he prepared to roll out new guidelines aimed at reopening swaths of the country.

The White House hastily assembled the groups on Wednesday to be a part of Mr. Trump’s “Opening Our Country Council,” catching many of the two dozen or so chosen lawmakers off guard.

Democrats and Republicans who dialed in said the exchanges, even between Mr. Trump and Democrats, were cordial and it was clear that the president wanted to signal to lawmakers that he was listening to their input. Vice President Mike Pence and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, also joined the calls.

According to two lawmakers on the House call, Mr. Trump said it would be up to individual states to lead the way on reopening the economy as they became ready, but that he would issue federal guidelines. Multiple House members suggested that states should follow a shared checklist, but cautioned that it should leave room to account for specific needs of each state.

Later, on a separate call, senators in both parties pushed Mr. Trump to ramp up testing capabilities, arguing that widespread, easy access to diagnostics were a prerequisite for reopening, according to one official familiar with that call.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican, told reporters afterward that the discussion he listened in on had been largely unscripted and “very productive.” He said that Democrats from hard-hit areas like New Jersey and New York thanked the president for sending resources to their states.

“They were giving input, ways to open the government back up,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Workers have “nowhere to hide” as unemployment permeates the economy.





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Westlake Legal Group jobless-claims-335 Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

22,034,000

Claims were filed in

the last four weeks

Initial jobless claims, per week

Seasonally adjusted

Westlake Legal Group jobless-claims-600 Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

22,034,000

Claims were filed in

the last four weeks

Initial jobless claims, per week

Seasonally adjusted

Westlake Legal Group jobless-claims-720 Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

22,034,000

Claims were filed in

the last four weeks

Initial jobless claims, per week

Seasonally adjusted

Westlake Legal Group jobless-claims-1050 Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

22,034,000

Claims were filed in

the last four weeks

Initial jobless claims, per week

Seasonally adjusted


Source: Department of Labor

By The New York Times

More than 5.2 million workers were added to the tally of the unemployed on Thursday, another staggering increase that is sure to add fuel to the debate over how long to impose stay-at-home orders and restrictions on business activity.

In the last four weeks, the number of unemployment claims has reached 22 million — roughly the net number of jobs created in a nine-and-a-half-year stretch that began after the last recession and ended with the pandemic’s arrival. The latest figure from the Labor Department, reflecting last week’s initial unemployment claims, underscores how the downdraft has spread to every corner of the economy: hotels and restaurants, mass retailers, manufacturers and white-collar strongholds like law firms.

“There’s nowhere to hide,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton in Chicago. “This is the deepest, fastest, most broad-based recession we’ve ever seen.”

Some of the new jobless claims represent freshly laid-off workers; others are from people who had been trying for a week or more to file.

The mounting unemployment numbers seem certain to add to pressure to lift some restrictions on business activity. President Trump has said some measures should be relaxed soon because of the impact on workers. “There has to be a balance,” he said at a press briefing Wednesday evening. “We have to get back to work.”

Many governors and health experts are more cautious. If business conditions return to normal too quickly, they fear, a second wave of infections could spread.

“For all practical purposes, the U.S. economy is closed, so why would you expect layoffs to stop?” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. “The longer the wait to reopen, the more painful it will be in terms of layoffs. Getting a date for reopening and getting more certainty about reopening is critical.”

Mr. Slok expects the unemployment rate to hit 17 percent this month, up from 4.4 percent in March and higher than any mark since the Great Depression.

The coming wave of hardship is likely to widen racial disparities, with poverty projected to rise twice as much among blacks as among whites. Poverty is also likely to rise disproportionately among children, a special concern because brain science shows that early deprivation can leave lifelong scars.

If quarterly unemployment hits 30 percent — as the president of one Federal Reserve Bank predicts — 15.4 percent of Americans will fall into poverty for the year, the Columbia researchers found, even in the unlikely event the economy instantly recovers. That level of poverty would exceed the peak of the Great Recession and add nearly 10 million people to the ranks of the poor.


High unemployment is projected to increase the poverty rate and widen racial disparities.

Poverty rate under different unemployment scenarios (second quarter, April-June)





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Westlake Legal Group dots-Artboard_1 Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Feb. 2020 estimate

10% unemployment

20% unemployment

30% unemployment

Share in poverty

Westlake Legal Group dots-Artboard_1_copy Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Feb. 2020

estimate

Unemployment:

26% in

poverty


Note: Historical poverty data is based on Supplemental Poverty Measure and has been adjusted for 2019 changes in methodology by the Census Bureau.

Source: Zachary Parolin and Christopher Wimer, Columbia University School of Social Work

The New York Times

There are significant caveats. Most important, the model does not yet include the potentially large anti-poverty effect of the Cares Act, the emergency legislation last month that provides about $560 billion in direct relief to individuals and even greater sums to sustain businesses and jobs. However imprecise, the model suggests a coming poverty epoch, rather than an episode.

Protests across the U.S. signal growing opposition to governors’ restrictions.

Fed up with the broad restrictions on American life, and in some cases encouraged by anti-government activists on the right, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the country to urge governors to reopen businesses and relax strict rules on daily life that health officials have said are necessary to save lives.

In Michigan, thousands of demonstrators in cars jammed the streets around the State Capitol in Lansing, saying the restrictions to prevent spread of the coronavirus were drowning small businesses. In Frankfort, Ky., dozens of people shouted through a Capitol building window, nearly drowning out Gov. Andy Beshear as he held a news conference. And in Raleigh, N.C., at least one woman was arrested during a protest that drew more than 100 people in opposition to a stay-at-home rule, The News & Observer reported.

More protests against stay-at-home orders have been planned in other states, including Texas, Oregon, and California, as the economic and health effects of the coronavirus mount in the United States.

Some organizers and demonstrators had affiliations with the Tea Party and displayed the “Don’t Tread on Me” logo that was an unofficial slogan for the movement. Others waved flags and banners in support of President Trump, who has pushed to reopen the economy.

But the size of the protests in places like Michigan suggested that anger over the no-end-in-sight nature of the lockdowns is not limited to the far right, and that the public’s patience has a limit. As anxiety, uncertainty and joblessness grow, the next few weeks will pose a test for governors and local leaders who are likely to face increased pressure to loosen some of the restrictions.

In Michigan alone, more than 1 million people — roughly a quarter of the state’s work force — have filed for unemployment benefits.

Greg McNeilly, a Republican consultant in the state who has criticized the governor’s response as too blunt and sweeping, said that while the protests this week included fringe elements of the right, politicians would be mistaken if they dismissed them outright.

“At the heart of this is legitimate concern that, look, we can’t beat this virus without a vaccine or herd immunity,” he said. “And right now it feels like our policymakers, state and federal, are choosing fear instead of saying ‘how can we live safely with this?’”

The Trump administration pushes to restart the economy, but shortages of tests complicate efforts.

The president is set to issue new federal guidelines on social distancing on Thursday in a bid to move the country closer to reopening for business, even as public health officials warned that it was far too early for any widespread return to public life.

Governors in many states are making their own plans, often in consultation and solidarity with their neighbors. But their actions will depend on the widespread availability of tests to track the virus, an effort that is woefully lagging.

Although capacity has improved in recent weeks, supply shortages remain crippling, and many regions are still restricting tests to people who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has ever been infected with the virus, are just starting to be rolled out, and most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said governors and mayors would make the call on lifting restrictions after receiving guidance from the federal government.

But she warned that it was no time for Americans to become complacent about social distancing.

“I will remind the people again: This is a highly contagious virus,” she said.

Early research suggests that obesity is a big risk factor, but not asthma.

Early research on underlying health conditions associated with the virus has highlighted that obesity appears to be one of the most important predictors of severe cases of the coronavirus illness, but asthma does not.

New studies point to obesity as the most significant risk factor, after only older age, for patients being hospitalized with Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus. Some 42 percent of American adults — nearly 80 million people — live with obesity. Young adults with obesity appear to be at particular risk, studies show.

The research is preliminary, and not peer reviewed, but it buttresses anecdotal reports from doctors who say they have been struck by how many seriously ill younger patients of theirs with obesity are otherwise healthy.

For people with asthma, the outbreak of a disease that can lead to respiratory failure was particularly worrisome. Many health organizations have cautioned that asthmatics are most likely at higher risk for severe illness if they get the virus.

But data released this month by New York State shows that, only about five percent of Covid-19 deaths in New York were of people who were known to also have asthma, a relatively modest amount. Nearly eight percent of the U.S. population — close to 25 million people — has asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research into the affects of asthma at this early stage is minimal and not always consistent. A recent commentary published in Lancet by a group of European researchers called it “striking” that asthma appeared to be underrepresented as a secondary health problem associated with Covid-19, and anecdotal evidence supports that observation.

“We’re not seeing a lot of patients with asthma,” said Dr. Bushra Mina, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, which has treated more than 800 Covid cases. The more common risk factors, he added, are “morbid obesity, diabetes and chronic heart disease.”

Extending the shutdown to May 15, Cuomo braces New York for a “new normal.”

New York’s sweeping shutdown will last until at least May 15, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday as he urged people to prepare for a “new normal” as the state sputters into a reopening over the coming months.

“This is going to be a moment of transformation for society, and we paid a very high price for it,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But how do we learn the lessons so that this new normal is a better New York?”

Mr. Cuomo’s guidance, including that businesses begin considering how to “reimagine” workplaces by weighing more regular use of telecommuting and sustained social distancing, came as he announced that his state’s official death toll had risen by 606 to 12,192. The increase in fatalities was the lowest for the state in 10 days. (The tally does not include the more than 3,700 people in New York City who have died during the outbreak without being tested and are now presumed to have died of the virus.)

Although Mr. Cuomo and other public officials have been encouraged by some statistics suggesting that New York’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus were working, Mr. Cuomo cautioned that reopening too hastily would cause the infection rate to swell.

“The rate of infection is everything,” said Mr. Cuomo, who is coordinating with other governors in the Northeast to map out a strategy for restarting the bulk of the economy.

Mr. Cuomo signaled that “more-essential” businesses with a low infection risk would be prioritized for reopening, though he did not articulate a specific timeline. “Less-essential” industries with a high infection risk, one of Mr. Cuomo’s presentation slides said, would be the “last priority — dependent on infection decline and precautions put in place.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 16vid-Cuomo-Live-still-videoSixteenByNine3000 Coronavirus Live Updates: A Loans Program to Save Jobs Runs Dry; 22 Million Americans Have Filed for Unemployment Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York discussed reopening plans for the state, and said the shutdown would last until at least May 15.CreditCredit…Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

The economic consequences of the pandemic had come into clearer view earlier Thursday, when Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City would need at least $2 billion in “very tough budget cuts” in its next fiscal year.

Mr. de Blasio’s proposal forecasts an extraordinary drop in the city government’s tax revenue: some $7.4 billion over the current fiscal year and the next.

More immediately, the state’s latest high-profile tactic to quell the virus — a requirement for people to wear facial coverings in public when they cannot maintain six feet of social distancing — will take effect at 8 p.m. on Friday.

The requirement applies to settings like sidewalks and grocery stores as well as buses, subway trains and ride-share services.

Mr. Cuomo, whose order came after officials in Honolulu, Los Angeles and Washington imposed some requirements for people to cover their faces, said people in New York could don proper masks, scarves or bandannas to comply with his executive order. (Public health officials have warned against buying or hoarding the N95 masks needed by health care workers.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear cloth face coverings to prevent transmission of the virus, which primarily spreads through droplets generated when, for instance, an infected person coughs or sneezes. The recommendation, which is intended to protect not those covering their faces but those around them, came after research showed that many people were infected but did not show symptoms.

Health officials have urged people to combine face coverings with social distancing, suggesting that one tactic did not replace the need for the other. Further complicating the matter is that while scientists agree six feet is a sensible and useful minimum distance for people to separate when possible, some say that farther away would be better.

Sneezes, for instance, can propel droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study, and as a Times 3-D simulation shows.

Death tolls are growing at nursing homes in New Jersey and Virginia as the virus sweeps through.

The virus has been sweeping its way through nursing homes across the country and claiming the lives of thousands of residents who are particularly vulnerable — the elderly, many with underlying health issues, who are living in close quarters, as well as the people who care for them.

In a small New Jersey township, police on Monday found 17 dead bodies inside a nursing home morgue designed to hold four people. This brought the death toll at the long-term care facility to 68, including 26 people who tested positive.

Even as nursing homes have taken measures to limit the spread of the virus, testing kits are a more effective way to separate the sick from the healthy, but they are still not widely available.

After the first positive test came back at a Virginia nursing home in mid-March, its administrator said the staff restricted visitors, conducted temperature checks at the end of every worker’s shift and isolated residents who had tested positive into separate areas.

Even so, there suddenly was another case. And within two weeks, dozens of others inside the facility, the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Richmond, Va., were falling ill. Now, at least 46 residents are dead — more than a quarter of the facility’s population and one of the highest known death tolls in the United States.

“You can’t fight what you can’t see,” said Dr. Jim Wright, the director of the center.

The W.H.O. acted faster and with more foresight than many national governments.

On Jan. 22, two days after Chinese officials first acknowledged the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, the chief of the World Health Organization held the first of what would be months of almost daily news briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously.

But with its officials divided, the W.H.O., still seeing no evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside of China, declined the next day to declare a global public health emergency. A week later, the organization reversed course and made the declaration.

Those early days of the epidemic illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of the W.H.O., an arm of the United Nations that is now under fire by Mr. Trump, who on Tuesday ordered a cutoff of American funding to the organization.

With limited, constantly shifting information to go on, the W.H.O. showed an early, consistent determination to treat the new contagion like the threat it would become, and to persuade others to do the same. At the same time, the organization repeatedly praised China, acting and speaking with a political caution born of being an arm of the United Nations, with few resources of its own, unable to do its work without international cooperation.

Mr. Trump, deflecting criticism that his own handling of the crisis left the United States unprepared, accused the W.H.O. of mismanaging it, called the organization “very China-centric” and said it had “pushed China’s misinformation.”

But a close look at the record shows that the W.H.O. acted with greater foresight and speed than many national governments, and more than it had shown in previous epidemics. And while it made mistakes, there is little evidence that the W.H.O. is responsible for the disasters that have unfolded in Europe and then the United States.

Here’s what else is happening in the world.

Virus hot spots get the bulk of medical supplies, leaving other areas with few options to prepare.

As critical medical resources are expedited to regions in the country currently hit hardest by the spread of the virus, other communities bracing for outbreaks are left with few good options to stock hospitals with masks, respirators, gloves, goggles and surgical gowns. Supplies are backlogged or canceled at the last minute and demand is driving up prices. In some cases, it is not clear whether a vendor is legitimate or a scam.

“I don’t take anything away from hot spots,” Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, a Democrat, said in an interview. “But we don’t want to become one of them.”

In Montana, there are 404 cases with seven deaths so far, according to a New York Times analysis.

Mr. Bullock said Montana has received 78,000 N95 masks from the federal government, while the state needs 550,000.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with 11 different manufacturers to purchase protective gear for medical workers, and it is suggesting workers wash and reuse their gear.

An army of contact tracers is being assembled in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is the first state to invest in an ambitious contact-tracing program, budgeting $44 million to hire 1,000 people to track down people who have been exposed, as soon as possible, and warning them.

Contact tracing has long been a critical tool in combating infectious disease, including fights against illnesses such as AIDS and SARS. It has helped Asian countries like Singapore and South Korea contain the spread of the new virus, but their systems rely heavily on digital surveillance, using patients’ digital footprints to automatically alert their contacts, an intrusion that many Americans would not accept.

Massachusetts is opting for an old-school, labor-intensive method: people. Lots of them.

Dr. Paul Farmer, a physician-anthropologist and founding partner of the nonprofit Partners in Health, which is helping the state train workers, said there was no substitute for the bond of trust formed by a human contact tracer.

Falwell focuses on critics as virus cases near Liberty University grow.

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s angry counteroffensive against critics of his decision to invite Liberty University students back to its Lynchburg, Va., campus after spring break has played out in the media, the courts, even with the campus police.

But his campaign has been undermined by the spread of a virus he cannot control.

Since March 29, when a Liberty student living off-campus was the first to be diagnosed, confirmed cases in the Central Virginia health district, which surrounds Lynchburg and Liberty, have grown from seven to 78. One person has died.

It is not known whether any of those cases are linked to returning Liberty students, but the university community is exposed as well. Liberty said on Wednesday night that two employees had tested positive for the virus, two more had results pending, and seven were quarantined at home.

Amid those struggles, a Liberty student on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit, saying that Liberty and Mr. Falwell had “placed students at severe physical risk and refused to refund thousands of dollars in fees owed to them for the Spring 2020 semester,” according to a statement from the law firm filing the suit.

The furor in Lynchburg centers on Mr. Falwell’s decision to open the campus to all students and staff at a time when most American universities were closing for fear of spreading the disease. For weeks before that decision, Mr. Falwell had derided other universities’ responses as overreactions driven by a desire to harm Mr. Trump.

We answer your housing questions on breaking leases, paying rent and more.

Whether you’ve moved back with your parents, or simply to a different space to ride out the pandemic, do you have any options if you want to break your lease? Or are you looking for your next house and considering a life-changing purchase during these strange times? We have the answers you need.

Reporting was contributed by Donald G. McNeil Jr., Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Alan Rappeport, Nelson D. Schwartz, Richard Pérez-Peña, Ellen Barry, Marc Santora, Jim Tankersley, Emily Cochrane, Emily Flitter, Matt Stevens, Karen Barrow, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas Fandos, Jeremy Peters, Roni Caryn Rabin, Caitlin Dickerson, David Gelles, Abby Goodnough, Neil Irwin, Danielle Ivory, Miriam Jordan, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Kate Kelly, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Adeel Hassan, Mike Baker, Manny Fernandez, Simon Romero, Emily Flitter, Katie Thomas, Elizabeth Williamson and Jason DeParle.

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Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. to Issue New Distancing Guidelines as Jobless Claims Are Set to Soar

Westlake Legal Group coronavirus-live-updates-u-s-to-issue-new-distancing-guidelines-as-jobless-claims-are-set-to-soar Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. to Issue New Distancing Guidelines as Jobless Claims Are Set to Soar Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16virus-us-briefing-lede-articleLarge Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. to Issue New Distancing Guidelines as Jobless Claims Are Set to Soar Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

Trump administration pushes to restart the economy, but shortages of tests complicate efforts.

President Trump is set to issue new federal guidelines on social distancing on Thursday in a bid to move the country closer to reopening for business, even as public health officials warned that it was far too early for any widespread return to public life.

Governors in many states are making their own plans, often in consultation and solidarity with their neighbors. But their actions will depend on the widespread availability of tests to track the coronavirus, an effort that is woefully lagging.

Although capacity has improved in recent weeks, supply shortages remain crippling, and many regions are still restricting tests to people who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has ever been infected with the coronavirus, are just starting to be rolled out, and most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Similar problems have plagued Britain, where the government is expected on Thursday to announce a three-week extension of stay-at-home orders.

Across the United States, officials have said that they will look to other nations to learn lessons as they move forward.

And even in countries with more comprehensive testing and tracking, the path out of the crisis can be rocky. Singapore, which was widely praised for taking early and strong measures to stop the virus, is now seeing a resurgence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said that the country’s relative success in containing the virus was “delicate” and warned that “we have to live with this until there is a medicine or vaccine.”

The country will allow small shops — those under 8,610 square feet — to reopen on April 20. Schools will slowly reopen on May 4, but only for some students, and they will have to follow strict hygiene protocols. Hair salons will also open under restrictions.

But bars, restaurants and theaters will remain closed and people will still not be allowed to gather in groups outside the home.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said governors and mayors would make the call on lifting restrictions after receiving guidance from the federal government.

But she warned that it was no time for Americans to become complacent about social distancing.

“I will remind the people again: This is a highly contagious virus,” she said.

The longer the restrictions remain, however, the deeper the economic pain.

The U.S. Department of Labor will release unemployment numbers later today, and they are expected to show staggering job losses — again.

Is this the end of the world economy as we know it?

When big convulsive economic events happen, the implications tend to take years to play out, and they spiral in unpredictable directions.

Who would have thought that a crisis that began with mortgage defaults in American suburbs in 2007 would presage a fiscal crisis in Greece in 2010? Or that a stock market crash in New York in 1929 would contribute to the rise of fascists in Europe in the 1930s?

The world economy is an infinitely complicated web of interconnections. And that, in part, is what is unnerving about the economic calamity accompanying the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In the years ahead, we will learn what happens when that web of connections is torn apart, when millions of those links are destroyed all at once. One obvious candidate to be altered forever is globalization, in which companies can move production wherever it’s most efficient, people can hop on a plane and go nearly anywhere, and money can flow to wherever it will be put to its highest use.

The idea of a world economy with the United States at its center was already falling apart. Now, the world may be facing a global economy completely different from the one that has prevailed in recent decades.

“As much as I hope we are able to get ordinary economic activity back up, that’s just the beginning of our problem,” said Adam Tooze, a historian at Columbia University. “This is a period of radical uncertainty, an order of magnitude greater than anything we’re used to.”

After an anonymous tip, 17 bodies are found at a New Jersey nursing home hit by virus.

The call for body bags came late Saturday.

By Monday, the police in a small New Jersey township had gotten an anonymous tip about a body being stored in a shed outside one of the state’s largest nursing homes.

When the police arrived, the corpse had been removed from the shed, but they discovered 17 bodies piled inside the nursing home in a small morgue intended to hold no more than four people.

“They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring,” said Eric C. Danielson, the police chief in the township, Andover, in Sussex County.

The 17 were among 68 recent deaths linked to the long-term care facility, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, including two nurses, officials said. Of those who died, 26 people had tested positive for the virus.

For the others, the cause of death is unknown.

Of the patients who remain at the homes, housed in two buildings, 76 have tested positive for the virus; 41 staff members, including an administrator, are sick with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to county health records shared on Wednesday with a federal official.

Andover Subacute is not alone. The coronavirus has swept through the New York region’s nursing homes with devastating and deadly speed, killing thousands of residents at facilities struggling with staff shortages, increasingly sick patients and a lack of personal protective gear.

The W.H.O. acted more forcefully and faster than many national governments.

On Jan. 22, two days after Chinese officials first acknowledged the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, the chief of the World Health Organization held the first of what would be months of almost daily news briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously.

But with its officials divided, the W.H.O., still seeing no evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside of China, declined the next day to declare a global public health emergency. A week later, the organization reversed course and made the declaration.

Those early days of the epidemic illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of the W.H.O., an arm of the United Nations that is now under fire by President Trump, who on Tuesday ordered a cutoff of American funding to the organization.

With limited, constantly shifting information to go on, the W.H.O. showed an early, consistent determination to treat the new contagion like the threat it would become, and to persuade others to do the same. At the same time, the organization repeatedly praised China, acting and speaking with a political caution born of being an arm of the United Nations, with few resources of its own, unable to do its work without international cooperation.

Mr. Trump, deflecting criticism that his own handling of the crisis left the United States unprepared, accused the W.H.O. of mismanaging it, called the organization “very China-centric” and said it had “pushed China’s misinformation.”

But a close look at the record shows that the W.H.O. acted with greater foresight and speed than many national governments, and more than it had shown in previous epidemics. And while it made mistakes, there is little evidence that the W.H.O. is responsible for the disasters that have unfolded in Europe and then the United States.

Governor orders New Yorkers to wear masks in public. Connecticut may “strongly” suggest the same.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Wednesday that he would require people to wear face coverings in public places where they could not keep six feet away from others, an aggressive step in the state’s effort to contain the coronavirus.

The requirement, Mr. Cuomo said, would be the subject of an executive order set to take effect on Friday that will apply to settings like buses and subway trains, sidewalks and grocery stores. Those who violate the rule could face fines, he said.

Mr. Cuomo’s announcement on face coverings came at a briefing during which he also announced that 752 more people had died of the virus in New York. In New Jersey, officials reported 351 additional deaths, and in Connecticut, the death toll rose by 197. There, Gov. Ned Lamont attributed the sharp increase to a new batch of fatalities being officially tied to the virus.

Mr. Lamont stopped short of saying he would require face coverings in public as Mr. Cuomo had, but said that he planned to issue an order “strongly” advising Connecticut residents to wear masks in crowds and stores.

“This is the way that we are going to get this virus behind us sooner and get everyone back to work as soon as we possibly can,” he said.

Relief funds for small businesses run dry as program fails to reach the hardest hit.

A new federal program to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic is running out of money and falling short in the industries and states most battered by the crisis, risking waves of bankruptcies and millions of additional unemployed workers.

Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative created by the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted last month, could be exhausted this week, meaning that the Small Business Administration would have to stop approving applications. As of Wednesday evening, more than 1.4 million loans had been approved at a value of more than $315 billion, according to the Small Business Administration.

But congressional leaders and the Trump administration have failed to reach agreement on adding hundreds of billions of dollars to replenish the program, hamstrung by a dispute over whether to carry out sweeping changes to how it allocates loans to businesses across the country.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Jovita Carranza, the head of the Small Business Administration, urged Congress to approve additional funds, as the demand “underscores the need for hardworking Americans to have access to relief as soon as possible.”

The desperate situation reflects the fitful nature of the government’s efforts to put into effect the hulking stimulus plan, a measure that was hastily negotiated by Congress and the administration as both faced intense pressure to respond to an extraordinary public health and economic catastrophe. Economists warned at the time that the package allocated too little for small businesses and ran the risk of steering too much of that money away from companies that needed it the most.

White House’s council to reopen the country struggles to open itself.

Some business leaders had no idea they were included in President Trump’s “Opening Our Country Council” until they heard that their names had been read in the Rose Garden on Tuesday night. Some of those who had agreed to help said they received little information on what, exactly, they were signing up for. And others who were willing to connect with the White House could not participate in hastily organized conference calls on Wednesday because of scheduling conflicts and technical difficulties.

In short, the rollout of the council was as confusing as the process of getting there. Instead of a formal panel, what Mr. Trump announced on Tuesday was a watered-down version that included 17 separate industry groups, including hospitality, banking, energy and “thought leaders.” And on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers received emails inviting them to join yet another task force.

The president participated in four calls with those groups during the day at the same time that White House officials were playing down their significance. They said the goal was simply to begin a dialogue about the economy after the pandemic recedes, but the confusion was the latest example of the difficulty the administration has encountered in its attempts to enlist support from the private sector to bolster the president’s claim that he has the power to reopen the economy, even as governors have made it clear that they will make those decisions themselves.

Outbreak in Virginia nursing home illustrates dangers of testing shortages.

After the first positive coronavirus test at a Virginia nursing home in mid-March, its administrator said, the staff restricted visitors, conducted temperature checks at the end of every worker’s shift and isolated residents who had tested positive into separate areas.

Even so, there suddenly was another case. Within two weeks, dozens of others inside were falling ill. Now, about a month after the first case, at least 46 residents are dead — more than a quarter of the facility’s population and one of the highest known death tolls in the United States.

The facility’s medical director, Dr. Jim Wright, said he had asked the state health department how to test a suspected case before the outbreak began. But even as the situation grew dire, it took almost two weeks for all the facility’s residents to be tested for the coronavirus. Virginia had only about 300 test kits available in mid-March.

“You can’t fight what you can’t see,” Dr. Wright said.

Virginia had only about 300 test kits available in mid-March, said Dr. Danny Avula, the Richmond health director, and to get one at the time, residents of long-term care facilities first needed to test negative for the flu and other respiratory viruses.

“We could have limited the spread in Canterbury had we been able to test more,” he said.

The lack of widespread testing and the difficulty in retaining staff members were additional challenges for the nursing home, where residents, who are older and therefore more vulnerable to the coronavirus, live in close quarters.

The New York Times has tracked hundreds of clusters of coronavirus cases across the country, and the 10 deadliest have been in nursing homes and long-term care centers. More than 21,000 residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities have contracted the virus, and more than 3,800 have died.

Breaking leases, paying rent and other housing questions answered.

Whether you’ve moved back with your parents, or simply to a different space to ride out the pandemic, do you have any options if you want to break your lease? Or are you looking for your next house and considering a life-changing purchase during these strange times? We have the answers you need.

What else is happening in the world.

Reporting was contributed by Marc, Santora, Jim Tankersley, Emily Cochrane, Emily Flitter, Matt Stevens, Karen Barrow, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Caitlin Dickerson, David Gelles, Abby Goodnough, Neil Irwin, Danielle Ivory, Miriam Jordan, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Kate Kelly, Simon Romero and Katie Thomas.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Biden Is Losing the Internet. Does That Matter?

Joe Biden is very famous, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at his YouTube channel.

Mr. Biden has just 32,000 subscribers on the influential video platform, a pittance compared with some of his rivals in the Democratic primary race and roughly 300,000 fewer than President Trump. The videos that Mr. Biden posts — these days, mostly repurposed campaign ads and TV-style interviews filmed from the makeshift studio in his basement — rarely crack 10,000 views. And the virtual crickets that greet many of his appearances have become a source of worry for some Democrats, who see his sluggish performance online as a bad omen for his electoral chances in November.

“This video is 2 days old and it’s sitting at 20,000 views,” one commenter wrote under a recent video of Mr. Biden’s. “This is a guy that is supposed to beat Trump?”

In a normal election year, a former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee would have no trouble filling an arena. But the coronavirus has forced Mr. Biden to abandon in-person gatherings and adapt to an all-digital campaign strategy — a daunting pivot even in the best of times, but one made even harder by the need to compete for attention amid a pandemic and a once-in-a-generation economic collapse.

The shift has been clumsy for Mr. Biden, an old-school retail politician who relishes face-to-face interactions. He lacks the social media firepower of Mr. Trump, whose 106 million combined followers on Facebook and Twitter dwarf Mr. Biden’s 6.7 million, and whose White House coronavirus briefings have allowed him to commandeer the news cycle. Mr. Biden’s first virtual town hall last month was marred by technical problems, and some of his other digital experiments — like a soporific campaign podcast, “Here’s the Deal,” which did not rank among the top 100 podcasts on Apple Podcasts as of this week — have not gone as well as hoped.

Online popularity doesn’t always lead to electoral success. (If it did, New Yorkers would be listening to daily coronavirus briefings from Gov. Cynthia Nixon.) But underestimating the internet’s influence is a mistake, too. In 2016, Mr. Trump’s surging popularity among the internet’s grass roots was a bellwether that indicated his candidacy might be stronger than it appeared in traditional polls. Conversely, Mr. Biden’s lack of support from meme makers and viral-content mavens could signal trouble ahead.

The problem for Mr. Biden is not that he is old or out of touch. After all, other septuagenarians, including Mr. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders, have amassed intense and loyal online followings despite not being internet natives. And Mr. Biden was once an internet star himself. (Who can forget “Diamond Joe,” the beer-guzzling, Trans Am-driving satirical character created by The Onion, which launched a million memes during the Obama years and became an indelible, if fictional, part of Mr. Biden’s legacy?)

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_64996475_d18947c5-23fe-4737-a139-856e9118c0df-popup Biden Is Losing the Internet. Does That Matter? YouTube.com United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Parscale, Brad (1976- ) Online Advertising Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…The Onion

The problem is also not that Mr. Biden is ignorant of the internet’s power. His campaign employs a number of veteran digital strategists who have been busy trying to elevate his online profile with “No Malarkey” coffee mugs and feel-good quarantine videos.

Mr. Biden’s biggest problem is structural. Most of our online political communication takes place on internet platforms that are designed to amplify content that provokes strong emotional reactions, often by reinforcing tribal identities. Mr. Trump’s unfiltered, combative style is a natural fit for the hyperpolarized audiences on Facebook and Twitter, whereas Mr. Biden’s more conciliatory, healer-in-chief approach can render him invisible on platforms where conflict equals clicks.

Those structural disadvantages hobbled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 social media campaign, which struggled for traction despite big budgets and her name recognition. The Trump campaign also paid lower effective rates for Facebook ads than the Clinton campaign because Facebook’s automated ad-buying system gives more reach to ads that generate lots of engagement.

Rob Flaherty, the digital director for the Biden campaign, said in an interview that he considered the 2020 election a “battle for the soul of the internet,” which required not just taking shots at Mr. Trump but inspiring people to come together around Mr. Biden.

“If you want to succeed on the internet without turning into Donald Trump, the best thing you can do is show empathy and compassion, and build community,” Mr. Flaherty said. “Our digital strategy is going to reflect that.”

YouTube, where progressives have only recently started competing for attention with an extensive network of popular right-wing creators, is particularly thorny territory for a centrist pragmatist like Mr. Biden. The platform’s left-wing commentariat, often referred to as “LeftTube” or “BreadTube,” mostly seems to consist of young Sanders supporters who see Mr. Biden as an establishment phony. Video compilations of Mr. Biden’s verbal gaffes, with titles like “17 Minutes of Joe’s Melting Brain,” have gotten millions of views over all.

Joe Rogan, a popular talk show host with an enormous YouTube following, endorsed Mr. Sanders this year. After Mr. Sanders withdrew from the race, Mr. Rogan stated that he would prefer to vote for Mr. Trump than Mr. Biden, saying of the former vice president: “The guy can barely remember what he’s talking about while he’s talking.”

Facebook and Twitter are friendlier turf for Mr. Biden, but he is still lagging far behind Mr. Trump, whose rapid-fire posts routinely make him the most visible figure on each platform. In the last month, Mr. Trump’s posts got 42.6 million interactions on Facebook, including likes, comments and shares, according to CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data tool. Mr. Biden’s Facebook posts got just 3.4 million interactions in the same time period.

Then there is the grass-roots gap. In 2016, Mr. Trump benefited from the support of amateur meme makers on Reddit, Twitter and other platforms who provided his campaign with a steady stream of fresh content. Mr. Biden has no such brain trust, and several popular left-wing content creators told me that inspirational, pro-Biden posts did not perform nearly as well on their pages as generic anti-Trump content.

Mark Provost, an administrator of The Other 98%, a left-leaning Facebook page with more than six million followers, said Mr. Biden could capitalize on liberals’ hostility for Mr. Trump by giving the party’s base more red meat, and becoming more combative himself.

“You want to tap into that deep id inside the Democratic Party,” Mr. Provost said. “At this point, people just want to see a bully get smacked down. They want to see him hammer Trump a lot more.”

In the coming months, Mr. Biden will benefit from his proximity to Democrats with bigger online followings. This week, two videos containing new endorsements of Mr. Biden, from Mr. Sanders and Mr. Obama, got millions of views apiece and briefly stole the spotlight from Mr. Trump and his coronavirus task force. Mr. Biden will also benefit from the efforts of left-wing super PACs like Priorities USA Action, which has raised millions of dollars to rally digital support for the Democratic nominee online.

These efforts may still seem small in comparison with Mr. Trump, who has spent years building a vast data operation and a war chest that will allow him to blanket the internet with ads. Brad Parscale, who ran Mr. Trump’s digital operation in 2016 and is managing his re-election campaign, has said he does not expect Mr. Biden — or any other Democrat — to catch up to Mr. Trump, with or without social distancing.

“President Trump’s supporters will run through a brick wall to vote for him,” Mr. Parscale said in a recent statement. “Nobody is running through a brick wall for Joe Biden.”

For now, Mr. Biden’s supporters can take solace in his relatively strong polling performance, and the hope that a lull in the coronavirus allows him to return to the campaign trail this summer. And while some Democrats are worried that Mr. Biden’s online struggles are a preview of a rough road ahead, others don’t see social media success as a prerequisite for winning the White House.

“We’re not campaigning for YouTuber in chief. We’re campaigning for president,” said Andrew Bleeker, the president of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic strategy firm. “He has a message of bringing the country together around the American spirit. He doesn’t need to change that to get views.”

Kevin Roose is a technology columnist for The Times. His column, The Shift, examines the intersection of technology, business and culture. @kevinrooseFacebook

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Coronavirus Testing Falls Woefully Short as Trump Seeks to Reopen U.S.

Westlake Legal Group coronavirus-testing-falls-woefully-short-as-trump-seeks-to-reopen-u-s Coronavirus Testing Falls Woefully Short as Trump Seeks to Reopen U.S. Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Shortages Quarantines Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings Laboratories and Scientific Equipment Food and Drug Administration Epidemics Cuomo, Andrew M Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Antibodies
Westlake Legal Group merlin_171490377_45d9abf3-fa81-4f8e-9d9f-c3239dd4fa9d-facebookJumbo Coronavirus Testing Falls Woefully Short as Trump Seeks to Reopen U.S. Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Shortages Quarantines Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings Laboratories and Scientific Equipment Food and Drug Administration Epidemics Cuomo, Andrew M Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Antibodies

As President Trump pushes to reopen the economy, most of the country is not conducting nearly enough testing to track the path and penetration of the coronavirus in a way that would allow Americans to safely return to work, public health officials and political leaders say.

Although capacity has improved in recent weeks, supply shortages remain crippling, and many regions are still restricting tests to people who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has ever been infected with the coronavirus, are just starting to be rolled out, and most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Concerns intensified on Wednesday as Senate Democrats released a $30 billion plan for building up what they called “fast, free testing in every community,” saying they would push to include it in the next pandemic relief package. Business leaders, who participated in the first conference call of Mr. Trump’s advisory council on restarting the economy, warned that it would not rebound until people felt safe to re-emerge, which would require more screening.

And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York reiterated his call for federal assistance to ramp up testing, both for the virus and for antibodies.

“The more testing, the more open the economy. But there’s not enough national capacity to do this,” Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said at his daily briefing in Albany. “We can’t do it yet. That is the unvarnished truth.”

As the governor spoke, a PowerPoint slide behind him said, “WE NEED FEDERAL SUPPORT.”

At his own briefing later in the day, Mr. Trump boasted of having “the most expansive testing system anywhere in the world” and said that some states could even reopen before May 1, the date his task force had tentatively set. Twenty-nine states, he added, “are in good shape.”

From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, lapses by the federal government have compromised efforts to detect the pathogen in patients and communities. A diagnostic test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proved to be flawed. The F.D.A. failed to speed approval for commercial labs to make tests widely available. All of that means that the U.S. has been far behind in combating the virus.

Whether in New York City, with its densely packed 8.4 million residents, or Nebraska, with fewer than two million spread across mostly rural expanses, widespread diagnostic and antibody testing will be crucial for determining a number of factors: How many in a community are infected but asymptomatic? Who has the protective antibodies that might allow them to go about their lives without fear? Are workplaces and schools safe?

“It is great that we are flattening the curve,” said Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, who worked in the George W. Bush administration and is advising state and federal policymakers on the virus response.

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“But for this next phase, where we are really aiming to detect and stamp out smaller outbreaks before they get so big, testing is critical for that,” he said. “So we have to plan ahead now for much larger capacity.”

By the end of May, he added, “we will maybe be up to two million tests a week, but we are definitely not at that level now.”

Nationally, an average of 145,000 people have been tested for the virus each day over the past week, according to the Covid Tracking Project, which reported a total of nearly 3.1 million tests across the United States as of Tuesday night.

State health officials and medical providers around the country say they are unable to test as many people as they would like. Many of them say the biggest challenge is getting not the diagnostic tests themselves but the supplies to process them, including chemical reagents, swabs and pipettes. Manufacturers are facing a huge global demand as every country fights the pandemic, with many attempting the widest-scale testing they have ever undertaken.

“We’re at a really critical juncture and the supply chain has not yet caught up,” Scott Becker, chief executive of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said on Wednesday.

Yet even as people waited hours for drive-through testing in California, Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere, some laboratories reported having ample capacity.

Two weeks ago, officials at University of California San Diego Health rushed to scale up testing, setting up a second laboratory devoted only to Covid-19. “You know the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come’?” said Dr. David T. Pride, director of the molecular microbiology laboratory there. “We built it and nobody has come. ” He said confusion over which laboratories were accepting tests, and “convoluted” systems connecting providers to labs, meant his facilities were running about 200 to 300 tests per day when they could handle 1,000.

Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s biggest testing laboratories, said on Wednesday that it could now process more tests than it was receiving, and that it was reaching out to state health departments, doctors and nursing homes. After dealing with backlogs for weeks, the company said it was returning results in less than two days for ordinary patients, and in less than one day for priority patients.

In Nebraska, as of Wednesday afternoon, 11,757 people had been screened for Covid-19, and of those, 901 were positive, according to state health data.

Peter C. Iwen, director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, said that chemicals and equipment needed to run the tests were going to places like New Orleans and New York. “We’re trying to compete with those people, and we’re just not getting the reagents sent to us,” he said in an interview with the Omaha television station KETV.

The nonprofit Community Health of South Florida is operating three drive-through sites in the Miami area and the Florida Keys, where it has provided free testing to 1,300 people.

Tiffani Helberg, the group’s vice president for communications, said a tight supply of testing swabs as well as staffing numbers meant the nonprofit was not screening as many people as it would like.

“Is it a struggle every day? Absolutely,” she said.

The lack of testing is hitting minority communities especially hard, according to Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president and chief executive of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, one of the nation’s largest historically black medical schools.

“Testing should be a priority for vulnerable populations — that would be prisons, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and, last but not least, minorities and disadvantaged communities,” said Dr. Hildreth, an infectious disease expert. “Because in those communities, we know there are many individuals with underlying conditions, and they are more likely to get severe disease and die.”

But even as short supplies are limiting who can get tests, some laboratories say they have extra capacity.

The American Clinical Laboratory Association, a trade group representing large diagnostic companies like LabCorp and Quest, has recently reported a dip in the daily testing volumes of its members. On Monday, its members processed 43,000 tests, the lowest number since March 20. At one point in early April, members were processing more than 100,000 a day.

“They are reaching out to providers to make sure they know that we have more testing capacity,” said Julie Khani, president of the lab association.

But even as testing for active coronavirus infections is struggling to meet demand, public health officials and major laboratories say they are gearing up for the next wave: antibody testing. A well-designed antibody test will detect whether someone has been exposed to the virus and generated an immune response, and whether the person may be protected from further illness.

“Antibody testing is not a cure-all,” Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, a Republican, said on Tuesday as he announced a partnership with the University of Arizona to provide antibody tests for 250,000 health care workers and emergency responders. “But learning more about it is an important step to identifying community exposure, helping us make decisions about how we protect our citizens and getting us to the other side of this pandemic more quickly.”

Most of the available antibody tests can say only whether someone has antibodies, not how many they have or how powerful they are at fighting the virus. Many of the tests are also flawed and signal the presence of antibodies even when there are none. The F.D.A. has granted emergency approval to three companies to begin selling the tests, but dozens more have entered the market after the agency loosened the guidelines in March.

“We have to to make sure it’s an accurate test with good specificity,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s health secretary. “And we really need to know that antibodies are truly protective and how long-lasting they are.”

Dr. Jon R. Cohen, the executive chairman of BioReference Laboratories, which is processing tests at drive-through sites in New York and New Jersey and other locations around the country, said he was still evaluating different antibody tests but planned to begin offering them soon. Other large laboratories said the same.

“It’s a huge factor, we believe, in terms of people regaining confidence and jump-starting the economy,” he said. “To me, it’s an absolute moral imperative.”

Reporting was contributed by Emily Cochrane, Sharon LaFraniere, Apoorva Mandavilli, Jesse McKinley, Rick Rojas and Brian M. Rosenthal.

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Urged on by Conservatives and His Own Advisers, Trump Targeted the W.H.O.

Westlake Legal Group urged-on-by-conservatives-and-his-own-advisers-trump-targeted-the-w-h-o Urged on by Conservatives and His Own Advisers, Trump Targeted the W.H.O. World Health Organization United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Morrison, Scott (1968- ) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Bannon, Stephen K
Westlake Legal Group 15dc-virus-who1-sub-facebookJumbo Urged on by Conservatives and His Own Advisers, Trump Targeted the W.H.O. World Health Organization United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Morrison, Scott (1968- ) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Bannon, Stephen K

WASHINGTON — Fox News pundits and Republican lawmakers have raged for weeks at the World Health Organization for praising China’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. On his podcast, President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, urged his former boss to stop funding the W.H.O., citing its ties to the “Chinese Communist Party.”

And inside the West Wing, the president found little resistance among the China skeptics in his administration for lashing out at the W.H.O. and essentially trying to shift the blame for his own failure to aggressively confront the spread of the virus by accusing the world’s premier global health group of covering up for the country where it started.

Mr. Trump’s decision on Tuesday to freeze nearly $500 million in public money for the W.H.O. in the middle of a pandemic was the culmination of a concerted conservative campaign against the group. But the president’s announcement on the W.H.O. drew fierce condemnations from many quarters.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said cutting its funding was “not in U.S. interests.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision “dangerous” and “illegal.” Former President Jimmy Carter said he was “distressed,” calling the W.H.O. “the only international organization capable of leading the effort to control this virus.”

Founded in 1948, the W.H.O. works to promote primary health care around the world, improve access to essential medicine and help train health care workers. During emergencies, the organization, a United Nations agency, seeks to identify threats and mitigate the risks of dangerous outbreaks, especially in the developing world.

In recent years, the United States has been the largest contributor to the W.H.O., giving about $500 million a year, though only about $115 million of that is considered mandatory as a part of the dues that Congress agreed to pay as a member. The rest was a voluntary contribution to combat specific health challenges like malaria or AIDS.

How Mr. Trump’s order to freeze the group’s funding while officials conduct a review of the W.H.O. would be carried out was not clear. Congressional Democrats who oversee foreign aid said they did not believe Mr. Trump has the power to unilaterally stop paying the nation’s dues to the W.H.O. Congressional aides cited a Government Accountability Office report in January that concluded that the administration could not simply ignore congressionally directed funding for Ukraine simply because Mr. Trump wanted to.

A senior aide to House Democrats said they were reviewing their options in the hopes of keeping the money flowing. But Democrats conceded that Mr. Trump most likely has wide latitude to withdraw the voluntary contributions to specific health programs run by the W.H.O.

White House officials say Mr. Trump was moved to act in part by his well-known anger about sending too much of the public’s money to international organizations like NATO and the United Nations. And they said he agreed with the criticism that the W.H.O. was too quick to accept China’s explanations after the virus began spreading.

They cited a Twitter post by the W.H.O. on Jan. 14 saying that the Chinese government had “found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus” as evidence that the W.H.O. was covering up for China. And they noted that in mid-February, a top official at the W.H.O. praised the Chinese for restrictive measures they insisted had delayed the spread of the virus to other countries, saying, “Right now, the strategic and tactical approach in China is the correct one.”

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“It is very China-centric,” Mr. Trump said in announcing his decision on Tuesday in the Rose Garden.

“I told that to President Xi,” he said, referring to Xi Jinping of China. “I said, ‘The World Health Organization is very China-centric.’ Meaning, whatever it is, China was always right. You can’t do that.”

Public health experts say the W.H.O. has had a mixed record since the coronavirus emerged in late December.

The health organization raised early alarms about the virus, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group’s director general, held almost daily news briefings beginning in mid-January, repeating a mantra, “We have a window of opportunity to stop this virus. But that window is rapidly closing.”

But global health officials and political leaders around the world — not just Mr. Trump — have said the group was too willing to accept information supplied by China, which still has not provided accurate numbers on how many people were infected and died during the initial outbreak in their country.

On Wednesday, Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, called it “unfathomable” that the W.H.O. had issued a statement supporting China’s decision to allow the reopening of so-called wet markets, the wildlife markets where the virus is believed to have first spread to humans. And in Japan, Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, recently noted that some people have started referring to the W.H.O. as the “Chinese Health Organization.”

But defending the W.H.O. on Wednesday, Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of its emergencies programs, cited the early warning it sounded.

“We alerted the world on January the Fifth,” Mr. Ryan told reporters.

Dr. Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment with Mr. Trump’s decision to freeze funding.

“W.H.O. is not only fighting Covid-19,” he said. “We’re also working to address polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, H.I.V., tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health and many other diseases and conditions.”

Mr. Trump’s decision to attack the W.H.O. comes as he is under intense fire at home for a failure to respond aggressively to the virus, which as of Wednesday had claimed more than 28,000 lives in the United States and infected at least 600,000 people in all 50 states.

The president publicly shrugged off the virus throughout January and much of February, repeatedly saying that it was under control. He said in mid-February that he hoped the virus would “miraculously” disappear when the weather turned warm.

Mr. Trump barred some travel from China in late January, a move that health experts say helped delay widespread infection. But he also presided over a government that failed to make testing and medical supplies widely available and resisted calling for social distancing that allowed the virus to spread for several critical weeks.

The president’s decision to freeze the W.H.O. funding was backed by many of his closest aides, including Peter Navarro, his trade adviser, and key members of the National Security Council, who have long been suspicious of China. Mr. Trump himself has often offered contradictory messages about the country — repeatedly saying nice things about Mr. Xi even as he wages a fierce, on-again, off-again trade war with China.

“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Jan. 24. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.”

At a meeting of his coronavirus task force on Friday, Mr. Trump polled all of the doctors in the room about the W.H.O., according to an official who attended the meeting. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that the W.H.O. had a “China problem,” and then others around the room — including Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the U.S. response, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — agreed with the statement, the official said.

But the president’s critics assailed the timing of the announcement, saying that any assessment of the W.H.O. should wait until the threat was over.

Among those questioning the president’s decision to act now was Dr. Redfield, who heaped praise on the W.H.O. during an appearance on Wednesday on “CBS This Morning,” saying that questions about what the group did during the pandemic should be left until “after we get through this.”

Dr. Redfield said that the W.H.O. remained “a longstanding partner for C.D.C.,” citing efforts to fight the Ebola virus in Africa and the cooperation to limit the spread of the coronavirus. And he added that the United States and the W.H.O. have “worked together to fight health crises around the world — we continue to do that.”

Ms. Pelosi said Mr. Trump was acting “at great risk to the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people around the world.” And in its statement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that it supported reform of the W.H.O., but that “cutting the W.H.O.’s funding during the Covid-19 pandemic is not in U.S. interests given the organization’s critical role assisting other countries — particularly in the developing world — in their response.”

In a tweet, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and later a global health foundation, called the decision to end funding “during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds.”

He added: “Their work is slowing the spread of Covid-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.”

Katie Rogers contributed reporting.

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Trump’s ‘Opening Our Country Council’ Runs Into Its Own Opening Problems

Westlake Legal Group merlin_168446493_af7c23e5-14f7-436c-a38f-6f3ef8019c54-facebookJumbo Trump’s ‘Opening Our Country Council’ Runs Into Its Own Opening Problems United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — Some business leaders had no idea they were included until they heard that their names had been read in the Rose Garden on Tuesday night by President Trump. Some of those who had agreed to help said they received little information on what, exactly, they were signing up for. And others who were willing to connect with the White House could not participate in hastily organized conference calls on Wednesday because of scheduling conflicts and technical difficulties.

In short, the rollout of what the president referred to last week as his “Opening Our Country Council” was as confusing as the process of getting there. Instead of a formal council, what Mr. Trump announced on Tuesday was a watered-down version that included 17 separate industry groups, including hospitality, banking, energy and “thought leaders.” And on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers received emails inviting them to join another task force.

The president participated in four calls with those groups during the day at the same time White House officials were playing down their the significance, claiming that the creation of a “task force” was never planned, despite the president’s mention of it last week.

They said that there was no date for an in-person meeting planned, and that the goal was simply to begin, via conference calls, a dialogue about the economy after the pandemic recedes. The only task force that existed, they insisted, was the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence.

The confusion was the latest example of the difficulty the administration has encountered in its attempts to enlist support from the private sector to bolster the president’s claim that he has the power to reopen the economy, even as governors have made it clear that they will make those decisions themselves.

Cisco Systems, the networking company, and McDonald’s were among the major employers that learned of their involvement in consulting with the president only when he mentioned their names on Tuesday evening, according to people familiar with the matter.

Pfizer was also blindsided by its inclusion in the group, receiving a heads-up that Mr. Trump might mention the company an hour before the announcement, with no information about how many other companies were involved or what the purpose of the group was.

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Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., was also not asked whether he would join the group before his name was announced by Mr. Trump as a participant, according to Carolyn Bobb, the union’s national media manager. But she said Mr. Trumka had planned to join a call with Mr. Trump on Wednesday “to see if it’s a serious effort.”

Some of the offers to be involved came directly from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to two people who were briefed on the plans, and at least one came directly from Mr. Trump, one of those people added. But others said they were given no advance warning that their name would be attached to a White House news release, which on Tuesday night described the list of people as the “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”

A White House official said that while the administration did not wait to hear back from all 200 people whose names were announced as part of the effort, it had sent an email notification on Tuesday afternoon to all the people involved alerting them that they had been selected.

Some of them were willing participants, including major Trump donors and even one business partner, Phil Ruffin, a billionaire casino owner who partnered with the president’s company on the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate who is among the biggest donors to Mr. Trump and Republicans, was also named to the task force.

But the calls were set up on such short notice that some chief executives were unable to join in. For instance, David M. Solomon, the Goldman Sachs chief, was leading his own quarterly earnings call at the same time as the White House call.

The chief executive of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, had previous commitments to address employees, and another executive from the coffee chain joined the call, according to a person familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Company was also unable to join, according to a person familiar with the matter, but one of his deputies spent 15 minutes trying to patch in to the discussion, ultimately without luck.

The pattern of confusion appeared to be repeating itself with members of the House and Senate who were abruptly notified that they had been selected for a congressional task force on reopening the country.

The congressional group had yet to convene, and was only notified of its existence Wednesday afternoon. In emails sent to offices on Capitol Hill, the White House legislative affairs office did not so much invite the lawmakers to participate as inform them of their selection.

The full membership of the group was unclear Wednesday afternoon, but at least three senior lawmakers — Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia — were prepared to accept. The appointment list appeared to include some committee leaders from both parties, and numbered more than a dozen.

The White House did not specify the group’s exact purpose, and several lawmakers were caught off guard by the invitation, with some Democrats left wondering why they had been selected by a president who had made clear his disdain for them.

“I am emailing to inform you that the president has selected you to serve on a task force comprised of senators and members of the House of Representatives,” the administration wrote in one such email, obtained by The New York Times and confirmed by multiple congressional officials who had received similar notifications.

“The purpose of the task force is to provide counsel to the president on the reopening of America in the wake of Covid-19,” the email continued. “The formal name of this task force has not yet been announced.”

In the first call of the day, Mr. Trump talked Wednesday morning with many of the big-name business leaders he had mentioned the night before, but encountered some resistance to his enthusiasm for reopening the country quickly, even as the executives offered some praise for his administration’s response.

Mr. Trump opened the call by saying that “testing is under control” in the country. But after each executive was given a minute or two to provide his or her overview of what was needed to reopen the economy, there was a wide consensus that more testing was needed before the economy could reopen, according to two people who participated on the call. Among those who made the point that the testing was necessary to track who was infected and who might have immunity before returning employees to work sites was Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon.

Another issue of great concern to the executives on the call, one participant said, was the need to address the liability companies could face if employees got sick after returning to work, given the possibility that workers who felt that they were brought back to soon — or were not placed in a safe environment — could sue en masse.

Annie Karni reported from Washington, and David Gelles and Kate Kelly from New York. Nicholas Fandos and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Trump Wanted a Radio Show, but He Didn’t Want to Compete With Limbaugh

Westlake Legal Group 15limbaugh-trump-promo-facebookJumbo Trump Wanted a Radio Show, but He Didn’t Want to Compete With Limbaugh United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Shutdowns (Institutional) Radio Presidential Election of 2020 Limbaugh, Rush

On a Saturday in early March, Donald J. Trump, clad in a baseball cap, strode into the Situation Room for a meeting with the coronavirus task force. He didn’t stop by the group’s daily meetings often, but he had an idea he was eager to share: He wanted to start a White House talk radio show.

At the time, the virus was rapidly spreading across the country, and Mr. Trump would soon announce a ban on European travel. A talk radio show, Mr. Trump excitedly explained, would allow him to quell Americans’ fears and answer their questions about the pandemic directly, according to three White House officials who heard the pitch. There would be no screening, he said, just an open line for people to call and engage one-on-one with the president.

But that Saturday, almost as suddenly as he proposed it, the president outlined one reason he would not be moving forward with it: He did not want to compete with Rush Limbaugh.

No one in the room was sure how to respond, two of the officials said. Someone suggested hosting the show in the mornings or on weekends, to steer clear of the conservative radio host’s schedule. But Mr. Trump shook his head, saying he envisioned his show as two hours a day, every day. And were it not for Mr. Limbaugh, and the risk of encroaching on his territory, he reiterated, he would do it.

One of the officials involved directly in the effort said it wasn’t the first time Mr. Trump had discussed hosting a radio show from the White House.

But if some in the room that day were unsure whether the president’s proposal was a joke, they knew his deference to Mr. Limbaugh was anything but.

When it comes to the president’s favored media figures, most observers tend to fixate on the Fox News lineup of Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. But several people close to Mr. Trump say that in the midst of a pandemic, he has come to keenly appreciate the extent of Mr. Limbaugh’s reach, and the fact that his show, perhaps more than any other source, offers a real-time metric of how the president’s decisions are playing with his supporters.

Now, as multiple voices vie for the president’s ear on the appropriate timeline for America’s path to normalcy, Mr. Limbaugh is amplifying Mr. Trump’s instinct for swiftness. And for this president, as well as much of his party, Mr. Limbaugh’s affirmation remains a powerful motivator.

“Talk radio is still a powerhouse when it comes to Republican voters,” said Jason Miller, co-host of the War Room podcast and a former Trump communications adviser. And the president, Mr. Miller said, “realizes how big a powerhouse Rush is.”

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Trump’s desire for a radio show. The president ultimately opted for daily televised press briefings instead, which have in effect served as a stand-in for campaign rallies and regularly span two hours.

“The Rush Limbaugh Show” has been the most popular talk-radio show in the country for decades, currently drawing 15.5 million listeners a week. In that time Mr. Limbaugh has traded in the kind of deeply divisive messaging that Mr. Trump regularly brandishes to appeal to his conservative base.

Like the president, Mr. Limbaugh has also dispensed disinformation and falsehoods at a rapid clip. In the last few weeks alone he has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as the “common cold.” His history of anti-gay remarks was revived as recently as February, when he said Americans would not elect Pete Buttigieg after seeing him “kissing his husband onstage, next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump.” (Mr. Limbaugh later told listeners that Mr. Trump had called him and told him not to apologize for the comments.)

Mr. Limbaugh is among Mr. Trump’s most influential backers, praising him for his politics and leadership well before many other Republicans cast their lot with him. He recently called attacks on the president’s handling of the virus crisis “a political hit job.” The president has returned the favor: In a surprise move during his State of the Union address in February, he awarded Mr. Limbaugh, who had recently revealed he had late-stage lung cancer, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He highlighted Mr. Limbaugh’s charitable work and called him “the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.”

As public health officials urge caution in relaxing stay-at-home restrictions, corporate executives and conservative activists alike are pleading with the president to reopen the economy. Mr. Trump has argued that he alone has the power to override stay-at-home orders imposed at the state level — a claim that legal scholars reject and that he appeared to walk back on Tuesday. Still, many Republican governors are looking directly to the White House to set the tone for a path forward.

As for his own guidance, Mr. Trump’s preferred media sources have tempered their advocacy. After initially dismissing the severity of the virus, many of Mr. Trump’s go-to talkers on Fox News have approached the question with relative delicacy, appearing to take their cues from the president rather than try to proactively urge one path or another.

Mr. Limbaugh, conversely, has been a forceful voice from the get-go. Along with casting medical experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci as “Hillary Clinton sympathizers,” he has used his enormous platform to call for a rapid return to normal life.

“Are we just going to sit by and watch $22 trillion — that’s the value, that’s the sum total of the G.D.P., that’s the U.S. economy — are we just going to sit by here and watch it evaporate?” Mr. Limbaugh said in one segment on March 31. “Because that’s what we’re doing, under the guise of not losing any unnecessary life.”

On Monday, Mr. Limbaugh argued that the “shutdown” was “a political effort to get rid of Donald Trump in the election this November” — as well as a Democratic ploy to “keep people fed without them having to go to work” and to “fine them for going to church.”

Mr. Limbaugh, a frequent golf partner of Mr. Trump’s in Palm Beach, Fla., has been candid and proud about his direct line to the president. During his show on Friday, Mr. Limbaugh revealed that the president calls him “once a week just to see how I’m doing” and that sometimes Vice President Mike Pence joins. He added that their conversations were only about his health, not policy. (Attempts to reach Mr. Limbaugh through a colleague for this article were unsuccessful.)

But in this moment, as Mr. Trump grapples with what he has called “the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Mr. Limbaugh has an unparalleled perch.

“A lot of politicians — obviously conservatives — tune into his show as they’re trying to figure out what their point of view should be,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Mr. Schlapp noted that with most decisions, the president uses various media sources as a way to “think through questions.” And while the president is listening to his public health advisers in this moment, Mr. Schlapp said, he’s also adhering to the formulas he knows best.

“The school nurse doesn’t run the school,” Mr. Schlapp said. “The principal runs the school.”

Polling shows that the vast majority of Americans support a national stay-at-home order, but Mr. Limbaugh’s audience — in other words, the president’s base — shares his agitation about jump-starting the economy. His recent shows illustrate the extent to which many of Mr. Trump’s supporters remain suspicious of the public health experts.

“I agree the right person is in office to bring this country out of this,” said a Las Vegas police officer named Marcus who called into Mr. Limbaugh’s show on Monday. “But, you know, when you look at numbers, Rush — the numbers don’t add up as far as, like, you know, the amount of people that die of a normal flu every year and those sort of things. I mean, it’s terrifying how one thing can make us give up our rights so quickly.”

On Friday, a caller from Prescott, Ariz., wondered if experts were urging the shutdown of the economy as a way to model the potential effects of legislation intended to combat climate change. “Isn’t this kind of like a dry run of the Green New Deal?” he asked.

In the midst of everything, Mr. Limbaugh’s listeners unequivocally support the president. On Friday, a New York construction worker named Andy criticized the transformation of Manhattan into a “ghost town,” and said, “There is no better man to be in the White House right now than Donald Trump.”

It is the kind of affirmation that helps illuminate radio’s increasing appeal to Mr. Trump. Television indeed plays an outsize role in the president’s assessment of himself and his administration. But with no campaign rallies to look forward to, people close to the president say he feels stifled in his inability to communicate directly with his supporters, complaining that the news media tries to distort his message at his daily briefings.

The president may have dropped plans for his own talk radio show. But for Mr. Trump, what Mr. Limbaugh offers is perhaps second best: a taste of the validation he craves, as well as a blueprint for how to make his supporters even happier.

“Rush is perfectly confident and competent to play the outsider to the system,” said Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor. “In that way, he and the president learn from each other.”

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The Virus Is Vaporizing Tax Revenues, Putting States in a Bind

Westlake Legal Group 14virus-states6-facebookJumbo The Virus Is Vaporizing Tax Revenues, Putting States in a Bind Wages and Salaries United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Taxation Stitt, Kevin States (US) Politics and Government Lamont, Ned Income Tax Government Bonds Cuomo, Andrew M Credit and Debt Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Budgets and Budgeting

The ballooning costs of the coronavirus pandemic have put an unexpected strain on the finances of states, which are hurriedly diverting funds from elsewhere to fight the outbreak even as the economic shutdown squeezes their main source of revenue — taxes.

States provide most of America’s public health, education and policing services, and a lot of its highways, mass transit systems and waterworks. Now, sales taxes — the biggest source of revenue for most states — have fallen off a cliff as business activity grinds to a halt and consumers stay home.

Personal income taxes, usually states’ second-biggest revenue source, started falling in March, when millions lost their paychecks and tax withholdings stopped. April usually brings a big slug of income-tax money, but this year the filing deadlines have been postponed until July.

“This is going to be horrific for state and local finances,” said Donald J. Boyd, the head of Boyd Research, an economics and fiscal consulting firm, whose clients include states and the federal government.

Many state and local governments have already taken extraordinary measures to protect residents and keep public services running. New York lawmakers gave Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo a one-year window to unilaterally cut spending if warranted, as the state faces a shortfall of at least $10 billion in tax revenue.

In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont directed an extra $35 million to the state’s nursing homes so that they could pay retention bonuses, overtime and other incentives to keep workers on the job as the health crisis worsened. Oklahoma lawmakers authorized Gov. Kevin Stitt to tap into the state’s $1 billion rainy-day fund to make up a $415 million budget gap he attributed to delayed income-tax payments.

Even if states are able to stretch their finances temporarily — by trimming budgets, appropriating funds earmarked for other purposes or passing emergency legislation, as many have done — the economic recovery is expected to be slow. That means tax revenues from tourism, oil and gas drilling, conventions and other activities are probably not going to bounce back.

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“We can’t spend what we don’t have,” Mr. Cuomo told the New York Legislature this month. The state is hoping to bridge its revenue gap through a mix of federal aid, loans and cuts.

Companies are unlikely to hire back the millions of workers they have laid off until they can restart normal operations, and some businesses may fold entirely. High unemployment, low consumer demand and a wave of personal bankruptcies are likely to push up the welfare-related expenses of states — on top of their pandemic-related bills.

“It will be very hard to pay for people in nursing homes, and to pay teachers to teach kids when school resumes, and to pay police,” Mr. Boyd said, naming three services that are financed in large part by the states and provided by local governments. States, along with the federal government, typically reimburse nursing homes for patient care through Medicaid and other programs.

The governors of seven Northeastern states, including New York, said this week that they would coordinate efforts to reopen their economies as the rate of daily infections dropped; the governors of three West Coast states made a similar pact. The governors have been reacting to President Trump’s statements on Monday that he had the ultimate power to decide when to relax stay-at-home orders and other restrictions that states have ordered to slow the spread of the virus.

Last week, the National Governors Association called on Congress to provide additional fiscal assistance to states to meet budget shortfalls arising from the crisis. “In the absence of unrestricted fiscal support of at least $500 billion from the federal government, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to critically important services all across this country, hampering public health, the economic recovery, and — in turn — our collective effort to get people back to work,” the association’s chairman, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, and vice chairman, Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement.

No two states are being affected the same way. Some of the most drastic tax revenue losses have occurred in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska and Louisiana, which rely heavily on taxing oil and gas. Oklahoma based its initial budget projections on $55-a-barrel oil; lately, the price has been less than half that. The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association estimates that for every dollar decline in the price of oil, the state loses $85 million in revenue.

“The things we thought would keep us from hitting the edge of the fiscal cliff — oil prices rebounding, production coming up dramatically — those prospects look awfully dim right now,” Pat Pitney, the Alaska Legislature’s chief budget analyst, who was budget director to former Gov. Bill Walker, recently told the Alaska Public Media news site. “None of us knows the future. But the signs are way less optimistic than they were just a few short months ago.”

Other states, like Hawaii, Nevada, New York and New Jersey, depend heavily on bringing in huge numbers of people — sun worshipers, theatergoers, gamblers, conventioneers, sports fans — and taxing their hotel rooms, tickets, restaurant meals and alcohol.

The Congressional Budget Office studied pandemics in 2006, after a devastating viral outbreak in Asia, and warned that if a similar event happened here, “industries that require interpersonal contact” would be hit the hardest, losing 80 percent of their business for several months. And in fact, last month the New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer, reported an 80 percent decline in tourism-related industries.

“We’re facing the possibility of a prolonged recession — we need to save now before it’s too late,” Mr. Stringer said in a statement last month. He called on city agencies to trim $1.4 billion in their planned spending so the money could be redirected to help “the hotel, restaurant, social service and retail workers who are bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

States borrow money from the public markets by issuing bonds, but normally for specific projects, not to fund day-to-day operations. Last week, the Federal Reserve said it would buy up to $500 million of short-term debt from the states, the District of Columbia, and the largest cities and counties. But the Fed made clear that the new debt purchasing program was to be used primarily for bridging over a few months of low revenue, with repayment due when normalcy returns. In a term sheet, the Fed said the states could also borrow to pay interest and principal on their existing debt, and to assist smaller localities. All borrowings must be repaid within two years.

Some policy analysts said the time frame was too short, given the bleak outlook.

Thomas H. Cochran, a senior fellow at the Northeast Midwest Institute, said it would be better if the Fed made loans that could eventually be forgiven, as long as the states could show they had used the money to keep public services at pre-pandemic levels after their revenue dried up. The institute studies urban and economic issues for an 18-state region.

Such loan repayment periods should last at least three years, Mr. Cochran said, recalling the time after the financial crisis of 2008. State and local revenues fell for two consecutive years — a first in postwar history — and did not rebound until 2016. This time could be worse.

In New Jersey, Fitch Ratings said its outlook on the state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority had turned negative because the casinos in Atlantic City were closed. (A negative outlook means a downgrade is possible over the medium term, so that investors who want to reduce their risk can consider selling; it can also make future borrowing more expensive.) New Jersey has been using tax revenue from casinos to repay certain bonds and to help financially troubled Atlantic City.

Other states, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Colorado, as well as New York, have income-tax arrangements that target high incomes and capital gains. This approach makes their revenue volatile, like the markets.

Before the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois had called for a graduated tax, a move away from the state’s current flat income tax with the goal of taxing high earners more. A referendum was scheduled for November.

Illinois urgently needs the additional revenue. Even before the pandemic, the state owed its vendors $7.8 billion, for hospitals, health insurance, higher education and consulting services, among other things. Governor Pritzker’s plan is supposed to help the state increase its tax collection, but given the recent market rout and the wobbly economy, there may not be so much high-end income to tax.

David Yaffe-Bellany contributed reporting.

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Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Suspends U.S. Funds for W.H.O.

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171590745_30c6a18d-e571-49b3-acb4-ea17af10abf0-articleLarge Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Suspends U.S. Funds for W.H.O. World Health Organization Trump, Donald J Travel Warnings Quarantines Medicine and Health Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Trump halts World Health Organization funding.

President Trump on Tuesday said that he planned to stop United States funding of the World Health Organization while reviewing its role in what he described as “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

The announcement came as Mr. Trump continued to be angered by criticism of his response to the pandemic and as he sought to gain credit for how he has performed. “Everybody knows what is going on there,” he said, blaming the organization for what he described as a “disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly pointed to his decision to impose travel restrictions on China as proof that he responded early to warnings about the dangers of the coronavirus.

He said that decision saved “thousands and thousands of lives,” and the W.H.O. “fought us.” The president blamed the organization for a “20-fold” increase in cases worldwide.

As recently as February, the W.H.O. had advised against imposing travel restrictions to places with outbreaks of the coronavirus, saying it was not an effective way combat its spread.

On Tuesday, the president said the organization “willingly took China’s assurances” and that it “defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising its so-called transparency.”

Mr. Trump has been defensive about his decision to institute early travel restrictions on China, crediting himself with saving hundreds of thousands of lives while sustaining criticism for being xenophobic and racist.

But Mr. Trump has not addressed his administration’s inaction after that decision and the gap in the timeline of his response between the travel restrictions announced on Jan. 31 and the declaration of a national emergency on March 13.

Some European nations ease pandemic rules, but move warily.

Slowly, tentatively, a handful of European countries began lifting constraints on daily life this week for the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis, providing an early litmus test of whether Western democracies can gingerly restart their economies and restore basic freedoms without reviving the spread of the disease.

On Tuesday, Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s crisis, reopened some bookshops and children’s clothing stores. Spain allowed workers to return to factories and construction sites, despite a daily death toll that remains over 500. Austria allowed thousands of hardware and home improvement stores to reopen, as long as workers and customers wore masks.

In Denmark, elementary schoolteachers readied classrooms so young children could return to school on Wednesday, while in the Czech Republic, a restless public relished the reopening of sports centers and some shops.

When Lukas Zachoval, a sales manager in the Czech Republic, lost a tennis match to his father this week — in a 6-4, 6-3 drubbing — defeat had seldom tasted sweeter. After all, it was his first match since the Czech government began lifting sweeping restrictions on society, including a ban on communal sports, that had been in place for nearly a month.

The easing of the lockdowns was watched with interest and trepidation across Europe and beyond, and posed profound and knotty questions. Among them: Now that the rate of infection has ebbed in several countries, to what extent should political leaders prioritize concern for public health over worries about the economy?

The moves to loosen restrictions came despite a warning a week earlier by the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, who said, “Now is not the time to relax measures.”

The fledgling, country-by-country loosening, enacted without any coordination between nations, underscored the absence of any common agreement, or even understanding, about the challenge of keeping economies alive while stemming the disease.

Ecuador’s financial capital has seen a surge of dead.

When Guayaquil, Ecuador’s business capital, was first hit by the coronavirus, the devastation was so great that bodies were piling up in the streets.

Now, as the authorities begin to grapple with the scale of the crisis, they have reason to believe that the toll for the province that includes Guayaquil is likely many times larger than the official government figure of 173 dead.

The numbers are skewed because only those who test positive — dead or alive — are counted as coronavirus victims.

The usually bustling port city of about three million had 1,500 more deaths in March of this year than in the same month in 2019, Guayaquil’s mayor, Cynthia Viteri, said in an interview.

“They are not only dying from Covid,” she said, referring to the disease caused by coronavirus. “People with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease are dying from lack of medical attention, because the hospitals are saturated with the critically ill, because there aren’t places where women can give birth without getting infected.”

In addition, in the past two weeks, a special emergency team collected or authorized the burial of nearly 1,900 bodies from Guayaquil’s hospitals and homes, according to Ecuador’s government, which said that figure represented a fivefold increase in the city’s usual mortality rate.

To combat the spread of the virus, the city will resort to some of the most draconian quarantine measures in Latin America.

Security forces on Tuesday began cordoning off the contagion hot spots for up to three days at a time while medics looked door to door looking for potential cases and sanitary workers disinfected public spaces.

Ms. Viteri, the mayor, said movement to and from the hard-hit neighborhoods, located mostly in the city’s poor periphery, will be completely cut off. City authorities will provide residents with food while the operation lasts.

“The situation isn’t grave — it’s extremely grave,” said Ms. Viteri. “And we still haven’t reached a high point of infections in Guayaquil.”

Spraying disinfectant in the streets soothes nerves, but may not kill germs.

The images are compelling: Fire trucks in Tehran or Manila spray the streets. Amazon tests a disinfectant fog inside a warehouse, hoping to calm workers’ fears and get them back on the job. Families nervously wipe their mail and newly delivered groceries.

These efforts may help people feel like they and their government are combating the coronavirus. But in these still-early days of learning how to tamp down the spread of the virus experts disagree on how best to banish the infectious germs.

“There is no scientific basis at all for all the spraying and big public works programs,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Other experts are not ready to confidently dismiss disinfecting. There are just too many unknowns about this virus, said Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Lipsitch said it will be difficult to study the effectiveness of disinfecting outdoor spaces because “everyone is throwing a mix of interventions at the problem, as they should.”

Most transmission of the virus comes from breathing in droplets that an infected person has just breathed out — not from touching surfaces where it may be lurking. “Transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website.

Stay 6 feet apart, we’re told. But how far can air carry the coronavirus?

The rule of thumb, or rather feet, has been to stand six feet apart in public. That’s supposed to be a safe distance if a person nearby is coughing or sneezing and is infected with the novel coronavirus, spreading droplets that may carry virus particles.

And scientists agree that six feet is a sensible and useful minimum distance, but, some say, farther away would be better.

Six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet.

But some scientists, having looked at studies of air flow and being concerned about smaller particles called aerosols, suggest that people consider a number of factors, including their own vulnerability and whether they are outdoors or in an enclosed room, when deciding whether six feet is enough distance.

“Everything is about probability,” said Dr. Harvey Fineberg, who is the head of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. “Three feet is better than nothing. Six feet is better than three feet. At that point, the larger drops have pretty much fallen down.”

Reporting was contributed by Karen Weintraub, Knvul Sheikh, James Gorman and Kenneth Chang

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Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O.

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-virus-who-facebookJumbo Criticized for Pandemic Response, Trump Tries Shifting Blame to the W.H.O. World Health Organization United States Politics and Government United Nations Trump, Donald J Quarantines Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WASHINGTON — For weeks, President Trump has faced relentless criticism for having overseen a slow and ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to quickly embrace public health measures that could have prevented the disease from spreading.

Recent polls show that more Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of the virus than approve.

So on Tuesday, the president tried to shift the blame elsewhere, ordering his administration to halt funding for the World Health Organization and claiming the organization made a series of devastating mistakes as it sought to battle the virus. He said his administration would conduct a review into whether the W.H.O. was responsible for “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread.

“So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” the president told reporters during a White House briefing.

In effect, Mr. Trump was accusing the world’s leading health organization of making all of the mistakes that he has made since the virus first emerged in China and then spread rapidly. As of Tuesday, there had been about two million cases of the virus worldwide, and nearly 125,000 deaths. In the United States, there have been over 600,000 cases and 25,000 deaths from the virus.

The attack on the W.H.O., which was founded after World War II as part of the United Nations “to promote and protect the health of all peoples,” was the latest example of the president’s attempt to shift the blame throughout the crisis.

Over the past several months, Mr. Trump has repeatedly accused the news media, governors, Democratic members of Congress and former President Barack Obama of being responsible for the number of cases overwhelming the nation’s hospitals.

Asked directly in mid-March whether he was to blame for the lack of testing capacity in the country, Mr. Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

The basis for the president’s anger at the W.H.O. was his contention that it was too quick to believe information about the virus coming from the Chinese government at a time when it should have been more critical. He said the W.H.O. “willingly took China’s assurances to face value” and “pushed China’s misinformation.”

But it was Mr. Trump himself who went out of his way to publicly and repeatedly praise the Chinese government for its handling of the virus at a time at the beginning of the year that his administration was negotiating a trade deal with China.

On Jan. 24, about a month after the virus was discovered there, Mr. Trump tweeted: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.”

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In a contentious back-and-forth with reporters on Tuesday after his announcement in the Rose Garden, the president refused to answer for that inconsistency, saying that he “would love to have a good relationship with China” even as he asked why “am I the only leader who closed my borders against China?”

Pressed on why he is taking action now, Mr. Trump insisted that the W.H.O. is very “China-centric” without explaining what that meant or why that would have caused vast numbers of people to succumb to the coronavirus.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, defended the W.H.O., saying it “must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.”

Mr. Guterres said that “it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities,” but he insisted that the middle of a pandemic was not the time to resolve those differences.

“It is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus,” he said.

The biennial budget for the W.H.O. is about $6 billion, which comes from member countries around the world. In 2019, the last year for which figures were available, the United States contributed about $553 million.

According to Mr. Trump, the W.H.O. “fought” the United States after he ordered limits on flights from China on Jan. 31. He was apparently referring to a decision by W.H.O. officials to issue a statement saying that “restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.”

The W.H.O. did not criticize the United States, which was not the only country imposing travel restrictions. But it has historically opposed border closings or travel bans during disease outbreaks, on the ground that they never stop transmissible diseases and cause panic and widespread economic damage.

The coronavirus has tested those assumptions in wealthier countries, and many experts agree that a ban on travel to the United States first from China and then from Europe may have bought precious and limited time to prepare. But critics say the White House wasted that time, and Mr. Trump has seized on an opportunity to deflect blame to the W.H.O.

The question of whether the W.H.O. was not aggressive enough in recommending action against the virus has been raised in other countries. Some governments have noted that the organization’s leadership did not challenge China’s assertion in mid-January that there was not human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.

But the W.H.O. did issue urgent advisories throughout January about the potential dangers from the virus and announced that it constituted a “public health emergency of international concern” a day before the Trump administration made a similar declaration.

From Jan. 22 on, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O. director general, held almost daily news briefings to warn the world that the virus was spreading and that countries should do everything they could to stop it. Every day he repeated a mantra: “We have a window of opportunity to stop this virus. But that window is rapidly closing.”

Mr. Trump’s contention that the W.H.O. was too cozy with China may be the result of the praise it had for the aggressive way that the Chinese sought to contain the virus, using tactics that were sometimes brutal, including people being dragged from their apartments into hospital isolation when they resisted leaving and welding families into their apartments when they broke quarantine rules.

Beijing ultimately sent 40,000 medical personnel from all over China into Wuhan, built two hospitals, trained 9,000 contact-tracers and began tracking down, testing and isolating not only everyone with the virus but everyone with a fever.

Brutal as they were, China’s tactics ultimately worked.

By March 18, China was able to report zero new cases in the country, and some cities were allowed to reopen in March. Public health experts have called what China did — stopping a new, highly transmissible pandemic disease in its tracks — an unparalleled success.

As a result, Mr. Trump’s accusation that inaction by the W.H.O. caused more deaths from the virus stands in contrast to its record of embracing China’s swift crackdown.

The president’s broadside against the world’s premier health organization also ran counter to his own assessment of the organization as recently as six weeks ago. .

In late February — before some of the harshest criticism of Mr. Trump’s inaction — the president heaped praise on the W.H.O., saying the organization had been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” he tweeted. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Founded in 1948, the W.H.O. has its headquarters in Geneva, but it has 7,000 workers in 150 offices worldwide. During public health emergencies, it seeks to identify threats and mitigate risks, support the development of health tools during outbreaks and “support the delivery of essential health services in fragile settings,” according to its website.

In the early days of the virus, Beijing ignored requests by the W.H.O. to send observers to China, but in early February, it did let in an international team that included two Americans, one from the C.D.C. and one from the National Institutes of Health.

Although the Trump administration has claimed that Chinese scientists have refused to share data, most American scientists do not agree. They note that a Chinese laboratory posted the genetic sequence of the virus in early January, making it possible for laboratories across the world to start working on diagnostic tests. Since then, Chinese scientists have published dozens of data-filled papers.

Mr. Trump said Tuesday that the United States would evaluate what to do with the money that currently is sent to the W.H.O., adding, “Maybe W.H.O. will reform and maybe they won’t.”

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Donald G. McNeil Jr. from New York. Michael Mason contributed reporting from New York.

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