February 26, 2020

The Trump administration and its allies are mostly playing it cool when it comes to the coronavirus. Trump himself tweeted Wednesday that the media was trying to make the outbreak "look as bad as possible," suggesting everyone is overreacting.

But his seemingly lax attitude is dredging up some memories of his reaction to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which was anything but calm. That was during Trump's pre-White House days when he was a frequent critic of the Obama administration. As Ebola made headlines, Trump, among other things, called for barring infected patients from returning to the U.S., claimed the Centers for Disease Control weren't being truthful about how easily the disease could spread, wanted to prosecute the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., and questioned former President Barack Obama's mental health because he wasn't stopping flights.

Ebola, of course, is a very serious disease, but Trump's tempered response to coronavirus — which while certainly less fatal will likely spread much further — now amplifies his past fear-mongering over the outbreak. Tim O'Donnell

12:29 p.m.

Amazon has fired the organizer of a strike over coronavirus conditions — though the company is claiming it had nothing to do with the walkout.

Chris Smalls was among several employees leading the Monday strike at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. Two employees at the warehouse had tested positive for COVID-19, and workers walked off the job to demand the warehouse be closed and sanitized while fully paying workers, Vice reports.

Smalls, a management assistant who'd worked for five years at the warehouse, apparently came in "close contact" with one of those employees and was told to stay home for 14 days with full pay, an Amazon spokesperson said. "Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, putting the teams at risk," the spokesperson told CNN. The company didn't acknowledge strikers' demands.

Smalls said other employees who'd been around the infected employees more hadn't been quarantined. And while he expected he might be fired over the walkout, Smalls said it reveals how Amazon's leaders "don't care about people." New York Attorney General Letitia James slammed Smalls' firing as "disgraceful."

Also on Tuesday, workers at the Amazon-owned Whole Foods grocery store chain organized a massive "sick-out" to protest their conditions. Employees were set to call in sick to demand paid leave for all workers who call out sick or are quarantining during the pandemic, free COVID-19 testing for all employees, and hazard pay that doubles the current hourly wage for workers. Shoppers for the grocery delivery chain Instacart started a walkout Monday as well to call for similar protections, but Instacart claimed the strike had "no impact" on its operations and has refused to meet any of the strikers' demands. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:13 p.m.

Chris Cuomo has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The CNN anchor and brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Tuesday he was diagnosed with COVID-19 after he had a "fever, chills and shortness of breath" and was exposed to people who later tested positive.

"I just hope I didn't give it to the kids and Cristina," Cuomo wrote. "That would make me feel worse than this illness!"

Cuomo is now feeling well, CNN said, and he will continue to host his nightly show from home, as he did on Monday.

"We will all beat this by being smart and tough and united," Cuomo added.

This announcement came just as Andrew Cuomo was beginning his daily update on the coronavirus crisis in New York. The governor said the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has reached 75,795, and he referenced the news from Chris.

"My brother, Chris, is positive for coronavirus," Andrew Cuomo said at his briefing. "Found out this morning. Now, he is going to be fine. He's young, in good shape, strong — not as strong as he thinks. But he will be fine. ... He's a really sweet, beautiful guy, and he's my best friend." Brendan Morrow

12:12 p.m.

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it will continue to pay — and provide health benefits for — minor leaguers until May 31st or Opening Day, whichever comes first. Previously, the league was committed to compensation through April 8, but owners and MLB officials have reportedly been working on a plan to extend the time period for a while.

Professional baseball in the United States is, like all major professional sports, on hold because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and it's unclear when it might start back up again. The sport's suspension is particularly worrisome for minor league ballplayers, who make a fraction of what their major league counterparts earn. For now, at least, they'll continue to receive $400 dollars per week and their normal medical benefits from MLB, although the league is suspending their contracts "as a procedural matter."

The new weekly salary will amount to a pay cut for some minor league veterans, but it's actually a raise for many, especially those who are playing at the lower levels. Per ESPN, weekly salaries over the course of a full minor league season range from $290 for Class A to $502 at Triple-A. Tim O'Donnell

11:36 a.m.

July is still a long way off, but some Democratic strategists are nervous the novel coronavirus pandemic could still affect their party's national convention, where the eventual presidential nominee would normally make a speech.

Even if the United States is relatively successful in suppressing the virus' spread by the time the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, there could very well still be limits on large crowd gatherings. That leaves the party in a difficult spot, Politico reports.

Right now, committee officials are planning to forge ahead, but some strategists are fearful not only that it won't happen, but of the consequences of a cancellation. "That Thursday night speech by our nominee could be seen by 50 or 60 million Americans, most of whom haven't paid a minute of attention to the primary," said Bob Mulholland, a DNC member from California. "That's the conversation that takes us to winning."

Their worries are amplified by the fact the Republican National Convention isn't scheduled until late August, which likely gives it a better chance of going forward as planned. "If we have to cancel and [President] Trump has a convention with people screaming and yelling ... that's an advantage to Trump," Mulholland said. "Because nobody saw us except some text they got, and then they watched Trump." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

11:25 a.m.

This is not the greatest TikTok in the world. This is just a tribute.

Jack Black, apparently bored out of his mind in quarantine like the rest of us, has made a glorious debut on TikTok, posting an incredible video of himself dancing while wearing a cowboy hat, boots, and no shirt. You better believe he gets at least one impressively high kick in there during a performance so full of energy that his hat goes flying off his head at one point, prompting him to dance even more aggressively into the camera.

Black called this his "Quarantine Dance," throwing in the hashtags "#distancedance" and "#boredathome" onto some much-needed celebrity content that's actually not out of touch amid the coronavirus pandemic. He's apparently just getting a handle on TikTok, though, as this dance was followed up by not one but three separate videos in a row that all start with him getting abruptly cut off after asking, "Am I going?"

Whether he's hoping to entertain all his fans stuck at home or training for a dance-off with the devil, Black's TikTok page may just have become our new favorite show. Brendan Morrow

11:02 a.m.

Dr. Anthony Fauci sees some positive news finally coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci, the U.S.'s top infectious disease doctor who's leading its coronavirus response, spoke to CNN's Jim Sciutto on Tuesday about the ongoing crisis. While COVID-19 case numbers are still expanding every day, Fauci suggested "we're starting to see glimmers" of social distancing having its intended "dampening effect."

"You're starting to see that the daily increases are not in that steep incline, they're starting to be able to possibly flatten out," Fauci said of case numbers across the country. But he was cautious and showed no sign he would recommend lifting stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, saying "I don't want to put too much stock on it, because you don't want to get overconfident, you just want to keep pushing in what you're doing."

Fauci also acknowledged America's mass shortage of medical supplies, particularly protective masks. While there aren't enough masks to go around right now, once they are in better supply, "I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks," he said. That topic will be on the table for the White House's coronavirus task force on Tuesday.

And as for chloroquine, the drug that has been used for decades to treat malaria that President Trump touted as a possible treatment, Fauci said there hasn't yet been any "definitive evidence that this works" for treating COVID-19. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:26 a.m.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is getting frustrated with those Americans who still aren't practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Adams spoke to Fox News on Tuesday morning after President Trump extended the federal government's social distancing guidelines until the end of April. Once again encouraging Americans to stay home and keep their distance from others, Adams decried reports of some not taking these warnings to heart.

"I'm a little bit frustrated, because you're still seeing pictures on Twitter, on TV, of people getting together, being too close, putting themselves in a situation where they could end up in the hospital," he said.

While Adams didn't cite specific examples, images emerged on Monday of a crowd of people in Manhattan gathering to look at the USNS Comfort hospital ship. The New York Post reports that "NYPD warned the crowds about violating social distancing, but did not issue any tickets."

However, Adams said "we really hope and expect" that people will listen to the administration's guidelines, and "the way we solve this problem is by everyone coming together" to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

This comes after Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force's response coordinator, said Monday the U.S. could be facing between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 even if "we do things together well, almost perfectly." But she added that the administration isn't sure "that all of America is responding in a uniform way to protect one another, so we also have to factor that in."

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