February 28, 2020

For years, experts have warned that President Trump "has been squandering the credibility he could need in a moment of national emergency, like a terrorist attack or a public health crisis," Annie Karni, Michael Crowley, and Maggie Haberman write at The New York Times. And if the COVID-19 outbreak proves to be that moment, "his history of issuing false claims could make it harder to sell the public on any plans to address coronavirus."

Trump has already "made inaccurate or questionable claims" about the new virus, the Times notes. "Current Trump allies said the fact that the president chose to address the growing public health crisis quickly after returning from a trip to India showed how seriously he was taking the outbreak. But privately, they say he has been reluctant to give in to what he has called an 'alarmist' view of the virus's potential to cause damage as he warily watches the effect of the outbreak on the stock market."

The new cover of The New Yorker makes a similar point more succinctly, suggesting his self-restricted vision is hampering America's response:

For what it's worth, epidemiology experts say the best thing for Americans to do right now is stay calm and not panic about the coronavirus, The Washington Post reports, as well as wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you're feeling sick. But "those surgical masks? If you're not sick, you don't need to wear them," the Post adds. "The main point of the mask is to keep someone who is infected with the virus from spreading it to others," says Timothy Brewer, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health. You can relate that to the New Yorker cover at your leisure. Peter Weber

5:04 p.m.

Colorado's Democratic Gov. Jared Polis made it clear his state was in desperate need of ventilators.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence sent March 28, Polis asked for 10,000 ventilators and other medical supplies, cc'ing his state's Democratic and Republican senators. But when President Trump announced Wednesday that Colorado was getting 100 ventilators, he said it was at the request of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

Gardner, a Republican facing a tough re-election race this year, tweeted Tuesday that Trump had approved Colorado to use National Guard assistance "at the request of the members of the Colorado congressional delegation." That includes Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, as well as four other Democratic House representatives and three Republicans.

The number of ventilators Colorado was granted is far short of the total Polis requested from FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. He also asked for millions of surgical and N95 masks and gloves, citing a "crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies." Kathryn Krawczyk

4:38 p.m.

Fears of the COVID-19 coronavirus are reportedly bringing about a ceasefire in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthi rebels in Yemen are set to announce a suspension of military operations across the country at midnight Wednesday, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The decision answers a United Nations call to halt combat.

There are likely many reasons why the U.N. is pushing for a ceasefire, but the argument that seemingly stuck is that a lack of fighting decreases the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak in Yemen, which so far has not reported any confirmed cases of the disease. Staving off an outbreak is crucial, especially considering Yemen is already steeped in the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

It's unclear if the Houthi opposition will follow in the coalition's footsteps, but a spokesman said the group sent the U.N. a plan to end the war, which began in 2014. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

4:01 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "improving" while still in intensive care with COVID-19, according to a U.K. government official.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Wednesday provided an update on Johnson's condition, saying the "latest from the hospital is the prime minister remains in intensive care where his condition is improving," per The Associated Press. Johnson has "been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team," Sunak added.

Downing Street in a statement on Wednesday also said that Johnson "continues to make steady progress," per BBC News, and a spokesperson said he is "responding to treatment."

Johnson was hospitalized on Sunday 10 days after he tested positive for COVID-19. The British prime minister said he went for "some routine tests as I'm still experiencing coronavirus symptoms." He had described his initial symptoms as mild. By Monday, he was moved to intensive care, where he remains two days later. Johnson has deputized British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Brendan Morrow

3:57 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had made a few phone calls to the last administration before making his big dropout decision.

Sanders suspended his 2020 run on Wednesday, saying his "path toward victory is virtually impossible" but pledging to stay on primary ballots through the Democratic National Convention to gain influence in the party. And shortly after making that announcement, Sanders reportedly made a call to Joe Biden, who he left as the presumptive Democratic nominee, CBS News reports.

Sanders also consulted former President Barack Obama "several times" before making his decision, NBC News reports. Obama reportedly still isn't ready to hop into the 2020 fray just yet, but Sanders' suspension surely makes it easier for him to do so.

Hillary Clinton, 2016's Democratic nominee, meanwhile had no comment on Sanders' exit. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:45 p.m.

With the federal stockpile for personal protective equipment dwindling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration reportedly sent shipments to states in a third and "final push" before the private sector takes on the bulk of the effort.

But new details from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency released by the House Oversight Committee show that the government did not appear to meet states' specific requests upon delivery. The first two rounds of shipments were based on census data from 2010, while the third round apparently wasn't adjusted for population at all.

Vermont and Texas, for example, which aren't remotely comparable in size, both received 120,900 N95 respirator masks. That's good news for Vermont, but not so much for Texas. To put in perspective, Vermont received 193 respirators for every 1,000 residents while Texas got five per 1,000. While equal distribution sounds nice in theory, it doesn't seem to make much sense in this case. Tim O'Donnell

3:01 p.m.

Ever wonder what the Full House opening credits might have looked like if the show had taken place during a pandemic? Me neither, but John Stamos and the rest of the Full House and Fuller House cast hilariously gave us a demonstration on TikTok on Wednesday afternoon.

The parody video for "Full Quarantine" opens with the classic shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, and includes footage of Uncle Jesse (Stamos) primping his hair, Danny (Bob Saget) sanitizing a mop, and Uncle Joey (David Coulier) "fishing" for pizza. There are a few notable absences, too, including twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — plus some mostly understandable Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin) erasure.

"Stay Safe and Stay Home," the video concludes. "Unlike #FullHouse, this will all go away." Watch it here. Jeva Lange

2:34 p.m.

New York's social distancing measures are working, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday, but the state is still far from being "out of the woods."

Cuomo opened his daily briefing on Wednesday with "good news," saying that "what we have done, and what we are doing, is actually working and it's making a difference," citing the fact that the state's number of new hospitalizations is down.

"We are flattening the curve by what we are doing," Cuomo said.

At the same time, the governor stressed that this flattening can only continue if New York, the hardest hit U.S. state amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeps its social distancing up.

"If we continue doing what we're doing, then we believe the curve will continue to flatten," Cuomo said. "But it's not a time to get complacent. It's not a time to do anything different than we've been doing. ... We have to remain diligent."

But then there was the "terrible" news, Cuomo said: New York has again reported its deadliest day yet with an increase in 779 fatalities in 24 hours. The governor warned the death toll will keep rising.

Later, Cuomo again stressed, "We still have more to do. We are by no means out of the woods. And do not misread what you're seeing in that data and on those charts. That is a pure product of our actions and behavior. If we behave differently, you will see those numbers change. ... If anything, we have to get more diligent, not less diligent."

Cuomo's remarks come after a similar message from Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, who said Wednesday Americans should not take some "early signs of hope" as a signal to stop social distancing.

"If people start going out again, and socially interacting, we could see a very acute second wave very early," she warned. Brendan Morrow

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