WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
> Hydroxychloroquine linked to increased death, heart conditions in COVID-19 patients
> Fauci says it is ‘conceivable’ that US could deploy vaccine by December
> Biden says he would make coronavirus free for everyone in US
> COVID toe? The virus’s weirdest symptoms are only emerging now
> On Memorial Day weekend, beach towns tell New Yorkers to stay away
> The pandemic may forever change cities
> Surgeon General Jerome Adams says we must invest much more in public health infrastructure in underserved communities, during and after Covid
Vice Adm. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General
Jerome Adams stresses surveillance, separation, cleaning and coverage in fight against coronavirus; adds investing in public health infrastructure in underserved communities will be better for everyone, before and after Covid
Watch the full interview here.
THE HILL’S CORONAVIRUS REPORT
Welcome to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. It’s Friday, May 22.
One of the courses I had in school long ago was titled “Freedom and Responsibility” that focused on how to balance liberty with responsibilities to one’s community and to other citizens. All civilized democracies have some kind of compact, usually a constitution but often a much more complex array of arrangements that define where freedoms become burdens on others, and become abuses, infractions or crimes. In the U.S. we don’t force people to vote in a democracy though most of us — sadly not all — “hope” people do. We do require driver’s licenses before people can get behind the wheel. We do have a minimum age for drinking alcohol and for the purchase of cigarettes. But vaccines are optional; and in fact, there are a lot of folks out there who actively campaign against vaccines. We have seen measles – once essentially eradicated for the most part from the United States – pop again in communities where children were not vaccinated.
In my conversion with Surgeon General of the United States Vice Admiral Jerome Adams (see the link here), he outlined how vital it is for the health of the nation to get the level of “vaccine confidence” higher in the nation — or in my bottom line terms, how to get more folks vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield mentioned to me just days ago that less than 50 percent of Americans are getting flu shots in a season. He said this low level of participation in vaccine programs, combined with a predicted and likely resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, could lead to new waves of tragedy and shock in the nation as the two simultaneous attacks could once again overwhelm our public health system.
Vaccines are optional. Some years I’ve had the shots — and others not. I admit to free-riding on others in the past, knowing that in my circles for the most part, there was a higher chance of so-called herd immunity, or protection. But that is not a responsible stance. And I hope that folks understand that in the battle with the disease we have today, that spreads so easily between people, that we safeguard our freedoms while not embarking simultaneously on courses that harm others. That means getting vaccinated, that means not going to large scale events without masks where one could be infected or infect others casually, that means not turning hygiene into an issue that divides Americans but rather one we can approach constructively and together.
We are having a struggle throughout the country today on how to balance freedoms and responsibilities. This debate won’t be solved easily or quickly. But one can hope for constructive and magnanimous approaches. When it comes to vaccines, seriously — there is only one responsible answer for the flu. And when we finally get a COVID-19 vaccine, everyone who is eligible should want it.
– Steve Clemons
Your Coronavirus Report team includes Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of The Hill, and researcher Andrew Wargofchik. Follow us on Twitter at @SCClemons and @a_wargofchik. CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report. To stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus, visit TheHill.com and SUBSCRIBE to our Overnight Healthcare newsletter.
THE HILL ‘VIRTUALLY’ LIVE
ICYMI: catch up on this week’s programs
On Thursday, The Hill hosted “A National Virtual Summit on Advancing America’s Economy,” a forum to discuss a responsible reopening of the U.S. economy anchored by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Mnuchin sees ‘strong likelihood’ of needing another COVID-19 relief bill | 2.4 million more Americans file new jobless claims | Top bank regulator abruptly announces resignation Overnight Health Care: Trump says US won’t close over second COVID-19 wave | Mnuchin sees ‘strong likelihood’ of needing another COVID-19 relief bill | Why the US has the most reported coronavirus cases in the world 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE. Watch the full program video here.
On Wednesday, The Hill hosted “The Vir[Tech]tual World of Tomorrow.” Watch the full program video here.
We want to hear from you! Follow us @TheHillEvents and keep the conversation going using #TheHillVirtuallyLive
CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
There are 5,159,674 reported cases of COVID-19 around the world and 335,418 recorded deaths as of the time of this newsletter.
The U.S. is reporting 1,588,322 cases and 95,276 deaths. Russia’s 326,448 cases are the second most in the world. Brazil is reporting 310,087 cases. 255,533 in the U.K. 234,824 in Spain. 228,658 in Italy. 181,951 in France. 179,278 in Germany. 153,548 in Turkey. 131,652 in Iran. India is reporting 124,073 cases. China 84,081. Canada 82,798. Saudi Arabia 67,719. Mexico 59,567. Belgium 56,511. Pakistan 50,694. Sweden 32,809 Singapore 30,426. South Korea 11,142. Czechia 8,757. Azerbaijan 3,855. Sudan 3,138. Bulgaria 2,372.
New York is reporting 358,154 cases. New Jersey 152,581. Illinois 102,688. Massachusetts 90,084. California 88,480. Pennsylvania is reporting 69,902 cases. 53,510 in Michigan. 53,061 in Texas. 44,424 in Maryland. 30,411 in Indiana. 30,167 in Ohio. 23,191 in Colorado. 19,117 in Washington. 19,019 in Minnesota. 18,961 in Tennessee. 13,885 in Wisconsin. 12,625 in Mississippi. 11,697 in Missouri. 7,893 in the District of Columbia. 7,874 in Utah.
The U.S. has conducted 13,056,206 COVID-19 tests – yes, the most in the world but whether that’s “a badge of honor” as the president said is up for debate. 298,418 full recoveries from the coronavirus have been reported in the U.S.
Trump lashes out at scientists whose findings contradict him. “A Trump enemy statement,” he said of one study. “A political hit job,” he said of another. As President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation Melania Trump thanks students in video message during CNN town hall Fauci says media will be ‘seeing more’ of him, coronavirus task force after press hiatus MORE pushes to reopen the country despite warnings from doctors about the consequences of moving too quickly during the coronavirus crisis, he has been lashing out at scientists whose conclusions he doesn’t like. Twice this week, Trump has not only dismissed the findings of studies but suggested — without evidence — that their authors were motivated by politics and out to undermine his efforts to roll back coronavirus restrictions. (Associated Press)
Fauci says media will be “seeing more” of him, coronavirus task force after press hiatus. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says media will be ‘seeing more’ of him, coronavirus task force after press hiatus The Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump, Biden campaigns rein in spending during pandemic Trump says US won’t close over second COVID-19 wave MORE, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the public will begin “seeing more” of him and other public health officials after weeks without making official press appearances. During a CNN global town hall, network anchor Anderson Cooper said that many Americans want to hear from Fauci, Deborah Birx and others on the White House coronavirus task force every day. The last time Fauci was at the podium at the White House was April 22. (The Hill)
Congress headed toward unemployment showdown. With the national unemployment rate expected to creep toward 20 percent in the months ahead, the fight over whether to boost benefits for Americans who lose their jobs or to keep benefits lean to motivate laid-off employees to rejoin the workforce is set to become a defining issue ahead of the election. (The Hill)
Biden says he would make COVID-19 vaccine free for everyone in U.S. Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenCruz threatens to stop federal agencies from cooperating with Hollywood over China ‘censorship’ Has Justice Department partisanship finally hit a wall? Fox News poll: Biden opens up 8-point lead over Trump MORE said on CNBC that if he were president, a coronavirus vaccine would be free for everyone in the United States. “I tell you what, if one is found, I would make sure that every single person in America is able to get a vaccine, period, without any cost,” Biden told “Squawk Box.” (CNBC)
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer: Trump fires watchdogs ‘when he hears the truth’ McConnell in talks with Gardner to allow Senate to take Memorial Day recess The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrats slam Trump for threatening to hold Michigan funds MORE (D-N.Y.)
@SenSchumer It’s May 22nd, and President Trump still doesn’t have an adequate national testing strategy.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate leaves for break without passing Paycheck Protection Program fix The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees ‘strong likelihood’ of another relief package; Warner says some businesses ‘may not come back’ at The Hill’s Advancing America’s Economy summit Senate confirms Ratcliffe to be Trump’s spy chief MORE (R-Maine)
@SenatorCollins The announcement of another COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility in Maine is a tragic reminder that the residents & staff at nursing homes are at the highest risk to this virus. It is imperative that we implement universal COVID-19 testing at nursing homes.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees ‘strong likelihood’ of another relief package; Warner says some businesses ‘may not come back’ at The Hill’s Advancing America’s Economy summit The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva’s Brendan O’Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel MORE (D-W.Va.)
@Sen_JoeManchin I again urge the state to distribute a portion of the $1.25B it has received from Congress through the CARES Act to cover these eligible expenses for West Virginians before it is too late, and to do this without burdening local governments with additional bureaucratic hurdles.
ACROSS THE NATION
My colleagues Alicia Cohn and Justine Coleman have a great piece in The Hill breaking down where every state falls in the reopening process. See where your state stands here.
The pandemic may forever change the world’s cities. In most cities, life is a shadow of what it once was, with streets empty, arenas abandoned, businesses shuttered. Well-heeled residents have skipped town to country abodes and seaside getaways. Most of those who remain have slipped into an atomized existence — their movements curtailed, their social circles exponentially shrunk — that’s anathema to the whole point of living in a bustling, vibrant city. (Washington Post)
Beach towns have a message for New York City residents: go away. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, tensions have repeatedly flared over whether too many New York City residents have decamped to outlying vacation areas, potentially taking the virus with them. But now the region appears on the brink of a full-fledged (and nasty) battle over beaches, touched off by the city’s decision to keep its shoreline closed. (New York Times)
States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields. States and some companies aren’t waiting for Congress and the White House to work out a possible liability shield and are instead taking steps to insulate businesses on their own from lawsuits in the coronavirus era. (The Hill)
Battered by coronavirus, China maps out an economic reality check for a new era. The calamitous economic impact of the virus was laid bare Friday when the party declined to set a growth target for 2020, for the first time since it began setting such a goal in 1994. “I would like to point out that we have not set a specific target for economic growth this year,” Premier Li Keqiang when delivering his “work report” at the grandiose opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. “This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment.” (Washington Post)
Madrid and Barcelona shops and outdoor restaurants to open Monday. After 2½ months of strict lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Madrid and Barcelona will be allowed to take the first steps to loosen restrictions next week, Spain’s government announced Friday, authorizing the cities to move to phase one of an official deconfinement plan. (Washington Post)
Anti-malaria drug touted by President Trump has high death risk in COVID-19 patients, new study shows. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug touted by President Trump, had a much higher risk of death than those who were not, according to a new study of 96,000 patients. The study, published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet, found that patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine also faced a much higher risk of abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, which could result in cardiac arrest. (The Hill)
Fauci is confident U.S. could have coronavirus vaccine by December. It is “conceivable” that the U.S. could begin to roll out a coronavirus vaccine by December, the White House’s top infectious disease expert said Friday. “I think it is conceivable, if we don’t run into things that are, as they say, unanticipated setbacks, that we could have a vaccine that we could be beginning to deploy at the end of this calendar year,” Anthony Fauci said. (CNBC)
Inflamed brains, toe rashes, strokes: Why COVID-19’s weirdest symptoms are only emerging. As the pandemic continues to ravage the world, case reports have emerged of more unusual damage ranging from hundreds of tiny blood clots to strokes in young people, and even mysterious inflammatory responses, such as full-body rashes in children and the red lesions that have come to be known unofficially as COVID toe. (National Geographic)
Stimulus checks worked, many retailers say, but the bump may be short lived. During Walmart’s earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Doug McMillon said the big-box retailer has seen different phases of shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. In the final weeks of April, another trend emerged: Customers were buying more TVs, clothing, sporting goods and toys with money they got in stimulus checks from the U.S. government. (CNBC)
Royal Carribean aims for tentative Aug. 1 set-sail date. Royal Caribbean has further suspended most cruises through July, with voyages set to begin on Aug. 1 as the travel company plans for business after the novel coronavirus pandemic, the company announced. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, which earlier in the week announced a loss of $1.4 billion in the first quarter after the virus forced its entire fleet to port, will extend the suspension of all fleets, except ships traveling from China, the company said in a Wednesday press release. (Fox Business)
ISSUES, CAUSES, PASSIONS
Digital contact tracing: The Trojan horse in the battle over data. Both in the U.S. and in the global context, the patchy data governance landscape — diverging political priorities and technical issues such interoperability to guarantee systems can work across borders — means interstate and international cooperation is paramount to ensure efficiency and gain trust. (Sophia Ignatidou for The Hill)
The age of handshakes may be over — so how to seal the deal now? Maintain eye contact, smile warmly, and use your voice tone to politely and enthusiastically greet them along with a slight nod of your head. As you do this, you have some options: Keep your arms firmly down by your side, or keep your hands clasped behind your back; hold your right hand over your heart and add a slight bow; or hold something in your right hand like a clutch, briefcase, iPad or even your other hand, so it is otherwise preoccupied and less apt to automatically pop out for that handshake. (Catherine C. Wallace for The Hill)
Tooth Fairy thanks “considerate” girl who gifted her mask to protect from COVID-19. After losing a tooth, one Michigan girl wanted to make sure the Tooth Fairy was following proper coronavirus safety measures. The girl, Evolette, didn’t want to leave the tooth under her pillow unless she knew the Tooth Fairy would be properly protected with a mask of her own. With help from her mom, Evolette sewed a tiny mask for the tooth fairy and left it on her nightstand with a note to the tooth fairy. (Good Morning America)
Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump thanks students in video message during CNN town hall Melania Trump to appear on CNN coronavirus town hall Thursday night Trump to celebrate Memorial Day at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry MORE thanks students in video message during CNN town hall. First lady Melania Trump in a video message Thursday evening recognized the changes America’s students have had to make in their lives during the coronavirus pandemic and commended them for their “determination.” “We will only get through this with patience, compassion and care,” the first lady said. “Tonight, please know that the president and I are with you during these challenging times and we continue to do everything we can to support you.” (The Hill)
ICYMI: STEVE’S INTERVIEWS, 15 MINUTES EACH
Watch all Coronavirus Report interviews here.
YOUR WORLD, YOUR STORIES
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Send to [email protected]. Our thoughts are with you, our readers, and we hope and trust that no matter the weight of burdens on you now — and it’s not a good story for everyone we know — that we all stand together, resilient and confident, on the other side of this. There will be another side.