Posted on

Biden endorses Warren bankruptcy plan

Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump faces toughest crisis of presidency in coronavirus Trump campaign turns to virtual tools amid coronavirus spread Where Biden and Sanders stand in the polls ahead of Tuesday’s primaries MORE is endorsing Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCastro forms PAC, boosts five House candidates Both parties see gains on environmental scorecard The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump takes unexpected step to stem coronavirus MORE’s (D-Mass.) bankruptcy plan as the former vice president works to unite a Democratic Party fractured between centrists and progressives. 

The endorsement of the plan Warren laid out in her ultimately failed presidential bid, which a Biden campaign official confirmed to The Hill, is a stark departure for the former vice president, as Warren’s plan explicitly sought to repeal parts of a 2005 bankruptcy bill Biden backed in the Senate.

Warren’s plan, announced in January, would scrap several aspects of the 2005 law, including means testing, separate bankruptcy processes for consumers based on wealth, credit counseling and other requirements she slammed as “onerous and complicated.”

The plan also proposes allowing student loans to be discharged during bankruptcy, a boost for younger voters — a key demographic with which Biden is hoping to make up ground.

Warren, who was a bankruptcy law professor in 2005, was a chief academic critic of the law while Biden was championing it in the Senate. The legislation ultimately passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support and was signed by former President George W. Bush.

The reversal from Biden comes as the former vice president builds a growing delegate lead over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThis is how devastating the Green New Deal would be for Wisconsin Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Trump declares national emergency | Pelosi announces deal on coronavirus package | Trump pledges to overhaul virus testing Overnight Energy: Trump to buy crude oil to help industry | Sanders, Democrats decry assistance to oil companies amid coronavirus | Judge sides with California in cap-and-trade lawsuit MORE (I-Vt.) and works to unite the party as he gears up for the general election. 

Sanders, a staunch progressive, has torn into Biden over his past support for trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and comments about Social Security, possibly intensifying the fissures within the party.

Yet despite the attacks, Biden has shifted to appealing to Sanders and his supporters ahead of an increasingly likely match up with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces toughest crisis of presidency in coronavirus House passes bill to help prop up economy from coronavirus White House physician: Trump doesn’t require test after exposure to 2 people with coronavirus MORE.

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion,” Biden said this week after beating Sanders in a handful of primary states. “We share a common goal, and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump.”

Posted on

From complacency to emergency: How Trump changed course on coronavirus

Trump’s do-over approach — he unlocked $50 billion in government funding on Friday to address the growing crisis and threw his support behind House Democrats’ aid package hours later — followed weeks of the president shrugging off the coronavirus threat and making statements about the availability of tests, the severity of the virus and the development of a COVID-19 vaccine that his own officials had to correct, sometimes within minutes of being made.

During a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Trump said the virus “will go away” and said his response was “really working out.”

Instead, the forecast grew worse. State and local leaders, business executives and tens of millions of ordinary Americans jumped ahead of their president — without waiting for White House guidance — to shut down public spaces, schools, offices and other gathering spaces and encourage millions of Americans to hunker down for a fast-spreading, invisible threat.

Even as the stock market rebounded Friday in response to Trump’s release of emergency funding, the week ended with a cloud of mystery about whether America’s 73-year-old commander-in-chief, who has downplayed concerns about a virus that disproportionately impacts the elderly, could potentially be the world’s highest-ranking vector.

During a rare appearance in the White House briefing room on Saturday, donning a “USA” ball cap, Trump said he was tested Friday night for COVID-19, for which he’s awaiting results, and has started receiving temperature checks. The news came hours after a top Brazilian official at Mar-a-Lago last weekend — who dined with the president and many of his top aides — tested positive for the virus.

The White House began administering temperature checks this weekend to “any individuals who are in close contact” with Trump or Pence, a spokesman said. This included members of the press corps who were stopped by a staff physician at the entrance to the James S. Brady briefing room Saturday afternoon.

“SOCIAL DISTANCING!” Trump tweeted prior to the news conference and one day after he was seen repeatedly shaking hands with corporate CEOs and health officials during his televised remarks from the Rose Garden.

Rebuffing the precautionary isolation measures his own aides were taking, Trump will now spend the weekend sifting through options with White House staff — some of whom are fresh off self-quarantines — about the mechanics of a bailout for industries devastated financially by the virus outbreak. White House aides headed into the complex early Saturday morning for the next round of urgent discussions, a recognition of the tight timeline they’re facing to rescue key sectors of the economy such as transportation and tourism.

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are assembling a list of options for Trump to consider as he looks to rescue crumbling industries and protect their workforces, according to two senior administration officials.

At Saturday’s briefing, Mnuchin specifically cited the airlines, cruise ships and hotels as industries that have faced significant challenges from the abrupt crash in global travel and tourism.

Trump’s desire to leap to the assistance of certain industries stems in part from witnessing an upward swing in U.S. markets after he designated the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency on Friday. The declaration had been in the works already, but was pushed up amid historic volatility in financial markets — much of which stemmed from an Oval Office address Wednesday night in which Trump stated he was banning all travel and imports from Europe, which the administration had to later clarify did not block all products and included only the 26-member countries of the unrestricted travel Schengen zone. (The ban will be extended to the U.K. and Ireland, which aren’t members of Schengen.) Trump also claimed insurers would cover the full cost of testing and treatment — generating alarm from health plans that never agreed to waive all patient costs.

Outside the White House, many of the president’s political allies viewed Wednesday’s Oval Office address as a speech that quickly needed a do-over. Staring directly into a camera while seated with his hands crossed was not the best format for the president, Trump’s own aides later admitted.

The crushing response on Thursday prompted the White House to schedule Friday’s press conference in the Rose Garden, a favorite venue of the president thanks to its natural lighting and the more free-wheeling format of a back-and-forth press conference, according to two White House officials familiar with the matter.

The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — among the few officials to maintain the president’s trust throughout his term — also became much more deeply involved in the coronavirus response efforts later in the week as it became clear the White House needed a more forceful response, a senior administration official said.

Internally, aides started to blame officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for flawed testing kits and the amount of time it took to get results back. The administration’s internal criticism of the CDC has made the agency the latest scapegoat as Trump’s team sought to deflect blame and cushion the president from what could become devastating political blowback against the president and his party in the coming months.

Morale inside the White House bottomed out on Friday, said a third senior administration official, but turned a corner once the Food and Drug Administration approved a new COVID-19 detection test from the pharmaceutical company Roche as part of an emergency authorization.

“They reached the conclusion this week that they had to communicate a sense of seriousness about what was going on and had to reassure the country that they were taking it very seriously,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who remains a close ally of Trump. “Having major companies like Wal-Mart, CVS, etc. involved means suddenly you begin to see how you can move to scale for a country for our size.”

The Friday Rose Garden speech, where Trump announced a public-private partnership on testing and the immediate opening of emergency operation centers across the U.S., also helped propel a stock market surge in the final hour of trading. One official later bragged the speech alone caused the “biggest market jump ever.”

Trump has repeatedly boasted about the stock market’s rebound after the S&P 500 recorded its best single-day performance since 2008 on Friday — a 9% gain, reversing a Thursday plunge that marked the worst day since 1987’s “Black Monday” crash. On Saturday, an unusually jovial Trump said he was “honored” to see positive movement in the markets following his news conference the day before — even joking that he should up the volume of his public appearances to further boost investor confidence.

“I think we should do one of them every day perhaps. Maybe five times per day. That was something to watch,” he said.

But not every element of the president’s course correction has gone smoothly.

Representatives from Google said they were caught off guard on Friday when Trump said the tech company was “helping to develop a website … to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location” for Americans who suspect they may have contracted the coronavirus. In a statement shared on Twitter from Verily, a subsidiary of Google, the company said it is still “developing a tool to help triage individuals for COVID-19 testing” that would initially only be available in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Trump disavowed involvement in disbanding a pandemic unit within the White House National Security Council and about the travel restrictions he has imposed on European countries. The president, more than three years into a presidency in which he has eagerly ejected pre-Trump officials, also blamed the Obama administration for testing shortages in the U.S. that have undermined containment efforts and sowed chaos at some hospitals.

“I don’t take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” Trump told reporters, while complaining that his predecessor “didn’t do testing” during the 2009 swine flu outbreak. (In fact, diagnostic kits shipped just weeks after the CDC identified the first case of the virus in April 2009.)

Indeed, blaming his predecessors for troubles with his own administration’s handling of the current pandemic has become a common tactic of late. He accused former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, on Thursday of overseeing “one of the worst [responses] on record” to a nationwide health epidemic, in reference to that H1N1 outbreak during Obama’s first year in office.

Trump also claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been working with top Trump aides this week on an emergency aid package, was “trying to create a panic” when his administration faced criticism in late February about its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak.

He blamed Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell for contributing to the economic pullback by refusing to cut interest rates — despite historic action by the central bank this week to combat chaos in financial markets and an emergency rate cut last week.

As economic relief legislation stalled in the House on Friday, Trump said it was congressional Democrats’ fault because “all of a sudden they didn’t agree to certain things that they agreed to.”

“He has never accepted blame for things that have gone wrong under his watch. Why would he do so now?” said one Republican close to the White House, who claimed the tactic “has worked in the past” for the president.

Although White House aides felt confident about Trump’s message on Friday about testing and the stimulus package passed by the House early Saturday, aides also acknowledged that the next step in rescuing the economy — deciding which industries to bail out — will be much harder politically.

The potential cost of an industry bailout could upset Republican lawmakers who have grumbled for years about the ballooning national debt under their watch after fighting the Obama administration over even smaller deficits and debt levels.

“It quickly devolves into industry vs. industry and parochial stuff,” said one former senior administration official.

Trump also remains intent on pushing for a payroll tax cut through the end of the year, continuing to drop it into his public remarks.

“If you want to get money into the hands of people quickly & efficiently, let them have the full money that they earned, APPROVE A PAYROLL TAX CUT until the end of the year, December 31. Then you are doing something that is really meaningful. Only that will make a big difference!” he tweeted on Friday.

Democrats and Senate Republicans have been cool to that idea, in part because of the eye-popping price tag ($950 billion according to one estimate) and concerns among economists about whether it would be effective in preventing a severe economic downturn.

As the president entered the weekend, however, he appeared intent on striking a more unifying tone. Before meeting with members of the coronavirus task force at the White House, Trump commended the “good teamwork between Republicans & Democrats” that led to the House’s passage of a bill that will expand paid emergency leave and provide tax credits for workers and employers affected by the coronavirus crisis. The legislation also includes $1 billion in food aid for low-income Americans.

“People really pulled together. Nice to see!” Trump tweeted.

He even praised the media — whom he accused last week of trying to “inflame the CoronaVirus situation far beyond what the facts would warrant” — for recent coverage of his administration’s response to the crisis.

“Over the past 24 hours, I think the representation has been very fair. It’s been very fair,” Trump told reporters on Saturday.

Posted on

Even Bill Maher Says Biden Is ‘A Little Cuckoo’ After Viral Confrontation

HBO host Bill Maher criticized Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden during his program Friday night as “cuckoo” for the former vice president’s inclination toward threatening to fight people.

During a roundtable discussion, the liberal “Real Time” host discussed Biden’s lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary and questioned whether Biden is mentally sound after his altercation with a Michigan auto worker earlier in the week.

“There’s going to be a debate on Sunday, they moved it to Washington, and there’s no live audience — barely two live candidates,” Maher said, referring to a decision to move Sunday’s Democratic debate from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., over fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

“What are they debating about at this point? Why are we having this exercise?” he asked. “Because I feel like it could only hurt Uncle Joe, which plainly, look, I know he can do the job, but he is a little cuckoo himself.”

The host the pointed out Biden’s highly publicized altercation this past week with an auto worker in Detroit, Michigan.

TRENDING: Ex-Pro Fisherman Slaps Bernie with Lawsuit for Linking Him to ‘Criminal Activities’

“He threatened a construction worker,” Maher said.

“His big go-to is, ‘You wanna fight?’” he said, before asking, “Who’s 78 and every time there’s an argument, is like, ‘You wanna take it outside?’”

Do you agree with Bill Maher’s assertion that Joe Biden is “cuckoo?”

Maher then disagreed with a “Real Time” panelist, Financial Times journalist Edward Luce, who argued that Biden’s argument with the auto worker showed how “passionate” the candidate is about the issues.

“Passionate is one thing, but challenging people to fights is like, roid rage. It’s wrong.” Maher said.

Biden, who is 77, was touring a Michigan auto plant Tuesday when a union worker asked him about his positions on gun control and confiscation.

WARNING: The following videos contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.

The exchange between the two men hit fever pitch when Biden asked the man if he wanted to take the discussion “outside.”

Lis Smith, a former senior adviser to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, claimed on the “Real Time” panel that the exchange is “why people like Joe Biden.”

RELATED: Liberal Late Night Host Maher Rips Tlaib and Omar’s Pro-BDS Rhetoric: ‘It’s a Bulls*** Purity Test’

“Because he threatens fighting?” Maher asked.

Maher contended that Biden often “sounds like a guy who” is “always coming to from being knocked out,” Fox News reported.

“New Rule: Joe Biden has to stop smiling in a way that makes it look like he’s already had a stroke,” he said.

“Look, just make it until November,” Biden added. “Then you can have all the strokes you want.”

Maher announced later during the broadcast that his show will go on hiatus beginning next week, citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

“So, I have never seen events move faster than during this last week,” Maher told his viewers, Deadline Hollywood reported.

“We are off next week,” he announced. “We had a hiatus week scheduled in about two weeks, but we said let’s do it next week since everyone is freaking out and we want to see where this goes.”

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Posted on

Washington confronts coronavirus with new tools and angst

By Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo and Aamer Madhani | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the United States will expand its European travel restrictions to include Britain and Ireland as the U.S., armed with new tools against the pandemic, braced for it to get worse before it gets better. The government’s top infection expert warned that COVID-19 may surge within the nation in coming days.

Under the restrictions on European travel, American citizens, green card holders and others are still allowed to return home to the U.S. but will be funneled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders.

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said. After days of reluctance, he also said he had taken the coronavirus test following several interactions with people who are infected. He is now awaiting the results.

The White House also began testing the temperatures of everyone who’s been close to Trump; he said his own temperature was normal and he was feeling fine. Vice President Mike Pence wrote White House staff a memo on Saturday that they have a duty to take precautions — such as frequently washing their hands and staying home if sick — “to protect the health of our Executive Branch and those working with us.”

Early Saturday the House approved legislation to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate still must vote on the package. Trump supports it. As well, he declared a national emergency Friday, unleashing as much as $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.

There was little hope of a quick turnaround.

“We will see more cases and we will see more suffering and death,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, “particularly among the vulnerables.” Yet he said “we still have opportunities” to lessen the severity of the pandemic. The U.S. has recorded at least 51 deaths and nearly 2,500 confirmed infections.

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to be over it.

The new travel restrictions come as Britain has seen its death toll from the virus nearly double from the day before to 21, and the number of people infected rise to over 1,100 from about 800 the previous day. Ireland had 90 confirmed cases and one death by Friday.

The U.S. said earlier in the week a 30-day restriction on flights covered only the 26-nation Schengen area, the European Union’s border-free travel zone, which excludes Britain and Ireland. Pence said the restrictions on Britain and Ireland would go into effect midnight on Monday night.

Pence added that federal officials were “considering a broad range of measures” for potential domestic travel restrictions but no decisions have been made. “We’re going to continue to follow the facts,” Pence said.

But a senior homeland security official, in a briefing held on condition that the official not be identified, said “there’s no expectation of any domestic travel restrictions at this time” by air or rail.

Britain has taken a different approach as countries across Europe and other afflicted areas have shut schools, scrapped large public events and shuttered bars and restaurants. The British government hasn’t heavily restricted everyday activities, though there were indications it might.

Schools in Northern Ireland were operating as usual but across the border in the Irish Republic, schools, colleges, daycare centers and cultural institutions were closed.

In the U.S., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell canceled the coming week’s planned recess to deal with the matter. Senate Democrats called on McConnell to reconvene now and pass the aid package.

“Everyone is going to have new ideas but that will slow things down,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat. “We have to act immediately.” With the president’s backing and robust Republican support from the House vote, passage appears likely.

While anxiety hangs over the nation, the president took a lighter tone at moments as he addressed the media. He boasted that he was “honored” that the Dow Jones Industrial Average reacted with a huge one-day gain Friday after he announced the national emergency declaration.

“I think we should do one of them every day perhaps,” joked Trump, who wore a blue baseball cap emblazoned with “USA.” “How about five times a day?”

The president didn’t mention that despite Friday’s pickup, the market had its worst week since October 2008. In just a few weeks, U.S. stocks have lost all the gains made during 2019.

The crush of activity capped a tumultuous week in Washington as the fast-moving virus left ordinary Americans suddenly navigating self-quarantines, school closures and a changed way of life.

Trump took a number of other actions to bolster energy markets, ease the financial burden for Americans with student loans and give medical professionals additional flexibility in treating patients during the public health crisis.

Central to the aid package from Congress, which builds on an emergency $8.3 billion measure approved earlier, are the free testing, sick pay and family leave provisions.

Providing sick pay for workers is a crucial element of federal efforts to stop the rapid spread of the infection. Officials warn that the nation’s healthcare system could quickly become overwhelmed with gravely sick patients, as suddenly happened in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.

The ability to ensure paychecks will keep flowing — for people self-quarantining or caring for others — can help assure Americans they will not fall into financial hardship. The legislation also offers three months of paid family and medical leave. Small and mid-sized employers will be reimbursed through tax credits.

Both Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised a third coronavirus package will follow soon, with more aggressive steps to boost the U.S. economy, which economists fear has already slipped into recession.

Mnuchin said Saturday that lawmakers will have to fix a minor error in the approved House bill, which could create some hiccups in getting the measure to Trump’s desk by early in the week. It involves a delicately negotiated provision about a tax credit for businesses to provide sick leave.

Trump on Friday also told people to expect the imminent rollout of a website “facilitated” by Google that would guide users through a series of questions to determine whether they should be screened for the virus. If testing is recommended, users would be directed to a local testing location, which could include parking lots at Walmart, Target, Walgreens and other chains.

But it quickly became apparent that such a fast track to testing was in early stages of development and would not be widely employed soon.

Meantime U.S. officials said most cruise companies had stopped new voyages and the few that hadn’t were ordered to. Trump endorsed decisions some companies have taken to close their stores as the nation increasingly hunkers down.

Posted on

What Trump’s Twitter Feed Tells Him About the Coronavirus

“President @realDonaldTrump acted early and decisively… His every move has been aimed at keeping Americans safe, while Joe Biden has sought to capitalize politically and stoke citizens’ fears,” tweeted Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, quoting the campaign’s communications director.

“When @JoeBiden was faced with a public health crisis on H1N1, he pushed the panic button and the White House had to cover it,” read a message retweeted by Donald Jr.

Other tweets in the president’s news feed framed recent comments from Biden opposing xenophobia as opposition to Trump’s temporary ban on travel from China.

“If Biden had been in charge, more Americans would have contracted the virus faster,” a Trump campaign account tweeted.

And in response to a Biden speech in which the former vice president criticized the president for labeling COVID-19 a “foreign virus,” Laura Ingraham tweeted: “Yeah, Joe! Let’s throw open our borders, our airports, our ports to anyone and everyone—that will really stem the infection rate!”

Narrative #3: Trump is doing a great job

Critique of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis is largely absent from his Twitter feed. Instead, his allies have heaped praise on the administration’s response.

“Deeply impressive extraordinary partnership of America’s best and brightest business & government gathered at White House under leadership of @realDonaldTrump & @VP,” tweeted Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera after Friday’s national emergency declaration. “They and we are going to kick #Corona’s ass.”

“This is a very good call,” conservative political commentator Eric Bolling tweeted on Friday in response to reports that Trump was planning to declare a national emergency.

“This is the leadership @realDonaldTrump was elected to provide,” tweeted Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, after the president’s Oval Office address on Wednesday night. “Acting early & decisively he put the U.S. on much better footing than other nations in handling the coronavirus.”

“President Trump is exactly right: ‘smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow,’” tweeted Congressman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican close to the White House. “The President’s actions are proactive and decisive. This is exactly what we need to keep Americans safe and healthy.”

And a tweet from Eric Trump shared simply the headline of an adulatory New York Post column: “Trump passes coronavirus test with flying colors.”

Narrative #4: The media is fueling the panic…

The president’s eldest son, Donald Jr., has led the Trump Twitterverse’s charge against the mainstream press’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. In his posts and retweets, he’s accused news outlets of stoking panic and helping China spread propaganda.

“That the US media is trying to run with the Chinese propaganda that ‘China bought us time’ is a new low even for them,” Donald Jr. tweeted in response to a New York Times op-ed. “F-you!”

“The media has thrown everything at [Trump] and none of it has stuck,” said YouTube personality Dave Rubin in a tweet shared by Donald Jr. “So now they have a vested interest in spreading panic, rejoicing over market drops and sewing general chaos.”

“This Chinese propaganda about the origin of the coronavirus is being directly amplified and aided by the U.S. media, which is censoring anyone who notes the Wuhan origin of the coronavirus,” said Mike Cernovich, a right-wing activist and conspiracy theorist, in a post retweeted by Donald Jr.

“CNN is literally taking its talking points from the Chinese government,” read another Cernovich tweet shared by the president’s son.

Other accounts followed by the president sounded a similar tone.

“Erring on the side of maximum transparency is a good thing for the White House given the mass hysteria being stoked by the partisans in media and politics with [the] goal of affecting the election,” tweeted Laura Ingraham.

“I just want to stress to politicians and the media to stop using [coronavirus] as a tool to politicize things and to scare people,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet shared by McDaniel. “It’s not responsible. This is not the time for this.”

Narrative #5: …but there’s no reason to panic!

During a March 4 phone call with Sean Hannity, Trump falsely implied the coronavirus outbreak was not as bad as the seasonal flu—an idea he may have picked up from his Twitter followers, who have downplayed the virus’ threat.

“They say the mortality rate for Coronavirus is higher than the flu,” tweeted Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. “Consider though that we have a flu vaccine and yet in 2019, 16,000 Americans died from the flu. Imagine if we did not have that vaccine. The flu would be a pandemic.”

“The word ‘pandemic’ is scary, but as @drsanjaygupta points out, it doesn’t speak to mortality rates, only to global scope of infection,” Ingraham tweeted in late February. “As @CDCgov notes, actual mortality rates or coronavirus is very low.”

On Friday morning, Ingraham tweeted a link to an article headlined: “Coronavirus: Facts vs. Panic,” which stated “most people who get coronavirus have mild or no symptoms” and “most around the world diagnosed from January-March 1 have already recovered.”

“Great time to fly if not in at-risk population!” Ingraham wrote Friday from the aisle seat of a Chicago-bound United flight.

Posted on

White House steps up safeguards as Trump awaits test results – Twin Cities

By JILL COLVIN and AAMER MADHANI

WASHINGTON (AP) — After days of resistance, President Donald Trump said Saturday that he was tested for the coronavirus and is awaiting his results as the White House stepped up precautions around him following his repeated direct and indirect exposures to COVID-19.

Trump also told reporters at a White House briefing that he had his temperature taken and it was “totally normal” before stepping into the room to discuss the government’s efforts to halt the spread of the virus. The pandemic has now infected more than 2,200 people in the U.S. and caused at least 50 deaths.

Trump had held out on testing for days — concerned that it would make him appear weak — despite his interactions with at least three people who have since tested positive for COVID-19. Trump had said Friday that he would “most likely” submit to testing “fairly soon,” but the White House doctor said in a memo released shortly before midnight that no test was called for, despite the contact, because he wasn’t exhibiting symptoms like a fever or cough.

The president said he’d gone ahead with it anyway after repeated questions from reporters at a news conference Friday and would have the results in “a day or two days, whatever it is.” Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the same briefing, said he and his wife, Karen Pence, would also “be more than happy to be tested,” despite the doctors’ guidance, and would be contacting White House medical staff to arrange it.

Multiple lawmakers and countless citizens across the country who have had the same degree of exposure have not only tried to get tested, but also chosen to quarantine themselves as a precaution and to avoid potentially infecting others.

The president, according to two people close to the White House, had been reluctant to take the test for fear it would project weakness or worry. Trump has wanted to appear in full control during the crisis, and had expressed concerns that taking personal steps could undermine that appearance.

But as the White House grapples with repeated exposures by Trump and multiple senior aides, it has tightened precautions. On Saturday, the White House announced that it is now conducting temperature checks on anyone who is in close contact with Trump and Pence, including reporters who attended the Saturday White House briefing and anyone entering the Oval Office.

Additional precautions are expected to be rolled out over the weekend.

To that end, a representative from the White House physician’s office took the temperature of members of the media at the briefing, going around and putting the device to their heads. One reporter with a suspected elevated temperature was not allowed in.

Trump, 73, is considered to be at higher risk of complications from the disease because of his age. He has long tried to minimize the threat posed by the virus and continued to engage in behaviors that health officials are warning the public against.

On Friday, Trump shook the hands of multiple officials at his Rose Garden news conference and he has continued to appear at large gatherings despite tweeting Saturday morning that Americans should be practicing “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”

“It almost becomes a habit,” Trump said when asked why he continues to shake hands contrary to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“People come up to me, they shake hands, they put their hand out, it’s sort of a natural reflex.,” he said. “We’re all getting out of it. All of us have that problem.” He added: “Shaking hands is not a great thing to be doing right now, I agree.”

Trump has now had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have since tested positive for the virus, including three people he spent time with last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

The Brazilian Embassy in Washington said late Friday that the country’s chargé d’affaires, Nestor Forster, tested positive after sitting at Trump’s dinner table. So, too, have a top aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took a photo with Trump and attended a party with him, and another person who attended a campaign fundraiser with the president that Sunday, according to two Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters.

Republican chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is awaiting her own test results after experiencing a fever and flu-like symptoms. She and her family are quarantining at home, the RNC said Saturday.

Several top administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, also met last week with an Australian Cabinet minister who on Friday was confirmed positive.

A handful of other White House staffers have been tested for the virus after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but have all tested negative, according to a senior White House official. Flu activity in the country is currently high.

The White House has been saying, citing CDC guidelines, that the president and other White House officials don’t need to be tested or isolate themselves unless they are exhibiting symptoms, even though that advice is contradicted by many health professionals who note that the virus can be spread even by people who are asymptomatic.

The reporter who was not allowed into the White House briefing Saturday had a temperature above the 100.4-degree guidelines in three checks over 15 minutes, tweeted Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, citing the White House Medical Unit.

Public health officials say that people with a cough and elevated temperatures of 100.4 degrees or higher are deemed concerning.

___

Bev Banks contributed to this report.

Posted on

U.S. travel ban to extend to United Kingdom and Ireland, sources tell AP

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

The White House is expected to announce that the U.S. will broaden its European travel ban, adding the United Kingdom and Ireland to its list.

Under the restrictions, American citizens, green card holders and others are still allowed to return home to the U.S., but will be funneled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders, according to two people familiar with the plan who spoke on condition of anonymity before the official announcement expected Saturday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she and the Trump administration are close to agreement on a coronavirus aid package to reassure anxious Americans by providing sick pay, free testing and other resources, hoping to calm teetering financial markets amid the mounting crisis.

Final details were being worked out, but the top House Democrat, who held daylong talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, expected an announcement Friday. The House could then swiftly vote.

“We have — are near — to an agreement,” Pelosi said, emerging from her office at the Capitol shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday.

The potential deal between Congress and the White House would cap a tumultuous week in which Washington strained for a comprehensive response to the outbreak that is testing the nation’s political, financial and health care systems.

It builds on an emergency $8.3 billion package approved last week and is aimed at providing additional health and financial resources to arrest the sudden spread of the pandemic and the kind of economic fallout unseen in a generation. Pelosi promised in a letter to colleagues that a third package was yet to come.

The new sick leave benefit would require businesses to provide up to 14 days of paid leave to workers who are home quarantined with the virus, with the federal government reimbursing them through tax credits. The bill enhances unemployment benefits for the jobless and boosts food and nutrition programs for working families, students and seniors.

The late announcement was intended to boost confidence, Democrats said.

“We felt that putting together something that the American people can see cooperation on between the two parties in this difficult moment would be a confidence builder,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-N.J., the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, joining Pelosi at the Capitol, “and I think that we approached it that way.”

Meanwhile, the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court all declared themselves off limits to the public for now, symbols of a nation hunkering down.

Democrat Joe Biden, President Donald Trump’s chief rival, criticized him for playing down the threat for weeks and promised if he becomes president to “always tell you the truth.”

Amid a wave of closures and cancellations, the coronavirus question got personal for Trump and some members of Congress.

Just days after meeting Trump and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the communications chief for Brazil’s president, Fábio Wajngarten, tested positive for the coronavirus. A photo of the president, the senator and Wajngarten shows the trio shoulder-to-shoulder at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last weekend.

It was the first time someone infected with the virus was known to have been in close proximity to the president.

Scott said he was isolating himself. Trump, 73, said he was unworried.

“We had dinner in Florida at Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But we did nothing very unusual. We sat next to each other for a period of time.” Asked whether he should be tested, Trump replied, “I am not concerned.”

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said “the White House is aware of public reports that a member of the Brazilian delegation‘s visit to Mar-a-Lago last weekend tested positive for COVID-19” though; confirmatory testing is pending.

She said: “Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was also at Trump’s club on the weekend, joined a growing list of lawmakers who have chosen to isolate themselves as a precaution.

On Wednesday, Trump announced a month-long restriction on travel from most of Europe, set to begin at midnight Friday night. He said Thursday that he was considering other major restrictions, such as limiting travel to domestic hot spots like California and Washington state, without spelling out how he would manage such an extraordinary effort. The State Department issued a global advisory cautioning U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel abroad.”

So far, the administration’s haphazard response and the stalemate in Congress have resulted in more uncertainty as the crisis roils the financial markets and rewrites daily life for Americans.

Biden and Bernie Sanders, the other main contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, delivered their own speeches the day after Trump’s prime-time address to the nation.

Biden called for free virus testing, temporary pop-up hospitals and paid leave for all Americans to help cover paychecks as workers self-quarantine, care for the ill or lose jobs over the virus.

“No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks, but I can promise you this, when I’m president we will be better prepared, respond better and recover better,” Biden declared.

Sanders also proposed swift federal intervention and money to help people suffering in their health or finances.

As talks between Pelosi and Mnuchin continued, lawmakers from both parties expressed alarm after what they called heated and testy briefings with Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, and other public health officials. Lawmakers were particularly frustrated that U.S. officials have tested relatively few patients.

“We’re basically, in my opinion, flying blind,” said Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev.

As classes, sports events, concerts and conferences were canceled across the nation, Trump said he will halt his signature campaign rallies, telling reporters he needs a “little separation until such time as this goes away.” Biden and Sanders said they would no longer hold large political gatherings and their staffs would work from home as the race for the presidency moved online.

The storied Smithsonian said it was canceling all public events and will temporarily close its network of museums and the National Zoo, starting Saturday. And Trump proposed postponing this summer’s Olympics in Japan for a year, too.

The financial markets endured another day of alarming slides and the Federal Reserve moved to try to ease the disruptions by announcing that it will sharply increase its purchases of short-term Treasury bonds.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to be over it.

While Trump said all European travel except from Britain would be cut off, there were clarifications and criticisms of the cornerstone of his attempt to curtail the crisis.

Homeland Security officials said the new travel restrictions would apply only to most foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen Area at any point in the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. The area encompasses most European countries, among them France, Italy, German, Greece, Austria and Belgium.

The restrictions don’t apply to legal permanent residents, immediate family of U.S. citizens or others identified in the proclamation signed by Trump. Vice President Mike Pence said the administration is also asking travelers returning to the U.S. from Europe to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days.

But some health officials, and even a former high-ranking Trump administration official, suggested Trump’s European travel restriction was futile because the virus is already widespread on U.S. soil.

“In two weeks, we will regret wasting time and energy on travel restrictions and wish we focused more on hospital preparation and large scale community mitigation,” Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, tweeted Thursday.

Trump claimed falsely Thursday that the U.S. is currently screening all Americans and foreigners who are entering the country, saying, “people coming in have to be tested.” And he claimed that those who return are being forced to isolate themselves, adding: “It’s going to be a pretty strong enforcement of quarantine.” No widespread quarantine orders have been announced.

Posted on

Trump says he took test; travel ban extended to UK, Ireland

Several hours after President Donald Trump declared the novel coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan aid package to help ease the economic pain of COVID-19.

There are at least 2,174 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 49 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and ABC News reporting.

Globally, there are at least 145,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 5,400 deaths.

Tune into ABC News Live at noon ET every weekday for the latest news, context and analysis on the novel coronavirus, with resources from the full ABC News team.

Today’s biggest developments:

Trump says he took test

US travel ban extended to UK, Ireland House passes COVID-19 stimulus package Apple closing all stores outside of China US death toll rises to 49

PHOTO: Servpro workers file in to begin a third day of cleaning at Life Care Center of Kirkland, a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases, in Kirkland, Wash., March 13, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

Here’s the latest on the developing situation. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

3:26 p.m. Macy’s employee tests positive

A part-time employee at Macy’s Herald Square location in New York City has tested positive, the company said in a statement.

“This colleague has NOT been in the store for the last two weeks and has NOT been in direct contact with colleagues or customers since experiencing symptoms,” the company said.

Macy’s said it doesn’t believe there’s a risk to colleagues or customers and that all stores “are operating with enhanced cleaning standards.”

3:18 p.m. Trudeau’s wife ‘doing very well’

Trump tweeted that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie, is “doing very well” after testing positive.

3:06 p.m. RNC Chairwoman tested after experiencing flu-like symptoms

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, is being tested after experiencing a fever and flu-like symptoms, according to an RNC spokesman.

McDaniel, the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, went to a hospital and was tested for flu and strep. Both tests came back negative, said the spokesman, Michael Ahrens, who added that everyone who’d been in contact with McDaniel is being notified.

She and her family are quarantining at home.

2:55 p.m. Restaurants, cafes closed in France

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced at a press conference the decision to close all places that receive the public and are “not essential to the continuity of the life of the nation”.

This includes restaurants, cafes and cinemas, all of which will be closed until further notice.

Places of worship will remain open, but religious gatherings will be postponed. Public transportation will continue, and municipal elections are still scheduled for Sunday.

1:46 p.m. Archdiocese of New York cancels masses

The Archdiocese of New York has canceled masses beginning this weekend. No time frame was given for when they’d resume.

The decision follows Dutchess County announcing that gatherings of more than 20 people are prohibited, according to a statement from the Archdiocese.

Churches, however, will remain open for private prayer and a private Mass will be livestreamed on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral website.

“Let us pray for all who are sick, as well as doctors, nurses, caregivers and all those working hard to combat the disease,” said Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York. “We should also remember those whose lives have been otherwise disrupted, especially anyone who has lost income from a loss of work during this difficult time.”

1:24 p.m. Death toll in Italy rises

There have been 175 deaths in Italy over the last 24 hours, raising the total to 1,441.

The number of positive cases has now reached 17,750 and more than 109,000 tests have been issued, according to local authorities.

1:14 p.m. Pompeo ‘in good health’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is “is in good health” and following the advice of physicians, a department spokesperson said, after he was potentially exposed to the virus on a recent trip to Ethiopia.

It’s unclear whether Pompeo took a test for COVID-19. The spokesperson also said that all State Department travel is permitted only if “mission critical,” and senior agency officials must approve all travel.

State Department personnel in Washington and overseas are also now permitted to telework and use “other workplace flexibilities,” like rotational schedules and virtual meetings, according to the spokesperson — joining other federal agencies in implementing contingency plans for its nearly 76,000 employees.

12:39 p.m. Trump says he got tested

Trump said on Saturday that he has taken a COVID-19 test and is awaiting the results.

Trump, who said on Friday he’d “most likely get tested,” said he’s unsure when his results will come back.

His temperature was taken, and he said it was “totally normal.”

On Friday, Trump said he’d “most likely” get tested.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump gives a press briefing about the coronavirus (COVID-19) alongside members of the Coronavirus Task Force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, in Washington, March 14, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: President Donald Trump gives a press briefing about the coronavirus (COVID-19) alongside members of the Coronavirus Task Force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, in Washington, March 14, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

12:33 p.m. Travel ban extended to UK and Ireland

The U.S. travel ban currently in place for parts of Europe has been extended to the UK and Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed.

The president said on Friday he was considering adding the U.K.

Trump announced last week a ban on some travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The area Trump restricted is known as the Schengen zone and is made up of 26 countries including Italy, Spain, France and Germany.

12:23 p.m. Press member turned away from White House briefing

A member of the press was turned away from a White House briefing because his temperature was too high.

Several photographers and reporters, including an ABC News reporter, saw him turned away outside the briefing room doors. That man, who declined to disclose his name or media outlet, was led away from the premises.

Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, later tweeted: “According to the White House Medical Unit, the temperature was taken three times over a 15 minute period – all three registered above the @CDCgov 100.4 guidelines.”

12:15 p.m. Google appears to downplay Trump’s statement on website

Google said it was in the “early stages” of developing a tool to help testing, contradicting President Donald Trump’s announcement yesterday that “it’s going to be very quickly done.”

Verily, which was previously Google Life Sciences, did not provide details on the tool, only saying there was a plan to test it in the Bay Area “with the hope of expanding more broadly over time.”

It struck a much different tone than Trump’s address Friday, in which he thanked Google for “helping to develop a website. It’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.”

11:46 a.m. State of emergency declared in Georgia

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a public health state of emergency.

The governor said the declaration will help health and emergency management officials across the state by “deploying all available resources for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19.”

“Over the past few weeks, our state has been facing an unprecedented public health threat with the spread of novel coronavirus,” Kemp said. “In only a matter of days, communities within the metro-Atlanta area and North Georgia have seen several cases, including hospitalizations, where the source of infection is unknown.”

There are at least 66 cases in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

11:34 a.m. CVS announces strategy

CVS said it is working on conducting tests in the parking lots of selected stores.

The announcement comes a day after Trump said private sector companies, including CVS, would be involved in addressing the crisis.

The company said although details are still being worked out, customers inside the store would not be affected by the tests.

“Individuals being tested will not have to leave their cars,” CVS said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing more details as they become available.”

11:12 a.m. 2 large grocery store chains to close early

Publix and Harris Teeter grocery stores announced they will close early, starting this weekend.

All Publix Super Markets are adjusting store and pharmacy hours, shutting down at 8 p.m. starting Saturday until further notice, according to a company statement. Harris Teeter stores will close at 9 p.m. until further notice, beginning Sunday, according to a statement posted to Twitter.

Both grocers said closing earlier gives them more time to sanitize stores.

PHOTO: Publix supermarket in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., March 13, 2020. (Newscom)
PHOTO: Publix supermarket in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., March 13, 2020. (Newscom)

11:07 a.m. ‘Priority calls’ only for Colorado police

Police in Aurora, Colorado, will only respond to “priority calls” for service amid the pandemic, the department said in a Facebook post.

A priority call is defined as “any situation where there is a crime in a progress,” according to the statement.

“We are taking these measures in an abundance of caution for your safety as well as the safety of our officers,” the department said. “Police Officers frequently are in contact with many citizens, and we want to minimize the potential of our daily interactions from causing an exposure risk to you.”

Citizens are encouraged to use the department’s online reporting system, which can be found here.

11:02 a.m. House Republican says Trump should be tested

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said it “should go without saying” that Trump should be tested for novel coronavirus.

10:17 a.m. Cuomo announces 1st death in New York

An 82-year-old woman has died in a New York City hospital after arriving March 3. She had an underlying respiratory illness, emphysema, for which she was been previously hospitalized. There are now 524 cases of COVID-19 in New York state.

9:45 a.m. Bolsonaro will isolate for a week, get tested again

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s press office has confirmed that he will self-isolate for a week, after which he will seek another test.

This comes after four members of his delegation during last weekend’s trip to meet Trump at Mar-a-Lago now have tested positive for COVID-19. Bolsonaro on Friday denied Brazilian press reports that he too, had tested positive, calling it “fake news.” His office still won’t say whether he’s tested positive. His next test is scheduled for Friday.

9:44 a.m. Obituaries fill Italian newspaper

The obituary section is making up most of Saturday’s edition of the Bergamo Eco. The section is 10 full pages.

The tradition in Bergamo, an Italian city northeast of Milan, is to still put death notices in the paper and posters on the street. The population of Bergamo is roughly 120,000.

9:28 a.m. Iran closes 2 major shrines for pilgrims

Iran closed the holy shrine of Fatima Masoumeh in Qom and the great mosque of Jamkaran, also close to Qom, after over three weeks of the first coronavirus infection reported. The shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad is also to be closed for three days.

The shrines closed amid controversy between health officials and religious conservatives over the closings.

5:41 a.m. Pentagon restricts domestic travel for service members

New travel restrictions approved Friday by the Department of Defense limit all domestic travel for service members, their families and DoD civilians.

The new rule, an attempt to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, goes into effect on Monday and will last through May 11.

Even service members who have orders to move to new assignments or bases in the U.S. will not be allowed to move while the restrictions are in place, according to the DoD.

The Pentagon also announced, effective midnight Sunday, that it’s restricting who enters the Pentagon. All tours, unofficial visits and all international visits have ended.

Additionally, any military member or civilian employee who has carried out recent foreign travel will not be allowed into the building until they have completed 14 days back in the U.S.

3:04 a.m. Apple closing all stores outside China

Apple CEO Tom Cook announced early Saturday morning that all of his company’s stores outside of greater China would close until March 27.

“The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us,” Cook said in a statement. “At Apple, we are people first, and we do what we do with the belief that technology can change lives and the hope that it can be a valuable tool in a moment like this.”

In an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus and treat those who are sick, Cook said Apple has donated $15 million.

“There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment,” Cook said. “… As President Lincoln said in a time of great adversity: ‘The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.'”

1:24 a.m. House passes stimulus package

With a 363 to 40 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday.

The bill, which is an economic aid package designed to help ease the financial pain of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be considered by the Senate on Monday.

PHOTO: The Washington Monument is visible as a man walks along the drained Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
PHOTO: The Washington Monument is visible as a man walks along the drained Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“Senators will need to carefully review the version just passed by the House,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Saturday. “But I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses.”

The cost of the bill is unknown, however, the bill includes $1 billion for National Disaster Medical System to reimburse people without health insurance, $82 million for Defense beneficiaries, $64 million for Indian Health Service and $60 million for veterans.

“This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers,” Trump tweeted Monday prior to the vote. “I have directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations that will provide flexibility so that in no way will Small Businesses be hurt.”

12:21 a.m. Trump physician says quarantine, COVID-19 test ‘not currently indicated’ for president

Despite coming into contact with multiple people who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Trump’s physician said late Friday night that a home quarantine or COVID-19 test are “not currently indicated.”

Last week while hosting the Brazilian delegation at Mar-a-Lago, Trump came in close contact with at least two people who later tested positive for the virus, according to Trump physician Dr. Sean Conley.

One person only had a brief interaction with the president — a handshake and photograph — and began to show symptoms three days after the interaction. The other shared a table with the president, but Conley said that person was symptom-free until Friday. Both interactions are defined as “low risk” for transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Given the president himself remains without symptoms, testing for COIVD-19 is not currently indicated,” Conley wrote Friday. “I will continue to closely monitor and care for the president.”

What to know about coronavirus:

ABC News’ Ben Gittleson, John Santucci, Katherine Faulders, John Parkinson, Luis Martinez, Clayton Sandell, Benjamin Siegel, Phoebe Natanson, Ibtissem Guenfoud and Jason Volack contributed to this report.

Coronavirus live updates: Trump says he took test; travel ban extended to UK, Ireland originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Posted on

Coronavirus Updates: Latest News & U.S. Response

OPINION |
Fourth Estate

If the president gets seriously ill, the Constitution has a plan for that. But what if the president stands in the way?

At 73 years old, President Donald Trump is a prime target for a contagious disease that falls hard on the elderly. Multiple people in the Trump orbit are infected. Trump posed for a picture alongside an aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who has tested positive. (Bolsonaro, who is in the same picture, denies reports that he’s positive.) The president spoke at the CPAC conference earlier this month where, as was later reported, an attendee carrying a gold-plated VIP ticket was later diagnosed as virus-positive. Other attendees of the conference, including incoming chief of staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) exercised medical caution with self-quarantine. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.),who was at Mar-a-Lago at the same time as the Brazilian visitors, is also self-quarantining. And both Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump recently spent time with an Australian minister who subsequently tested positive. It’s almost as if the virus has circled Trump.

At this point, it’s not morbid, just good planning, to say the administration has no excuse not to start making plans for the chance that the virus might incapacitate Trump. The White House has not exactly been transparent about whether Trump has been tested. But his age and his clinical obesity mean that his system would be fighting an infection from a trench: It can put older patients on ventilators, sometimes for four weeks, even if they do recover.

Read More »

Posted on

Coronavirus: I don’t need to self-isolate, says Trump

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Fabio Wajngarten mutes the microphone for Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro

President Donald Trump has not self-isolated despite meeting at least one person who has the coronavirus.

Fabio Wajngarten, an aide to the Brazilian president, was confirmed with the disease after a Mar-a-Lago visit.

“No, we have no symptoms whatsoever,” Mr Trump told reporters on Friday when asked why he has not been tested or why he has not self-isolated.

After a barrage of further questions at a White House news conference, the president said he would get tested.

Official US advice is that people who have contact with a confirmed case should stay at home for 14 days.

Mr Wajngarten has posted a photograph of himself standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr Trump.

When asked if individuals should be tested after standing next to someone with the virus, said Dr Anthony Fauci, who is leading the US response, said yes.

Image copyright
Instagram

Image caption

Pence and Trump with Fabio Wajngarten

There are nearly 2,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 43 deaths.

Several US states have taken measures to stem transmission rates including banning large gatherings, sporting events and closing schools.

On Friday, Mr Trump declared a national state of emergency to release $40bn to fight the spread of the virus.

What is the risk to President Trump?

Mr Wajngarten, a press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, met Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence on a recent visit to the president’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

Days later he tested positive.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez – who also met Mr Wajngarten during his US trip – announced on Friday that he had tested positive for the virus.

The Brazilian delegation also met Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, also present at Mar-a-Lago, announced on Thursday that he would self-quarantine “in an abundance of caution”, joining a growing number of lawmakers to do so.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionA doctor who became a patient describes what it’s like to get tested for coronavirus

Any other potential exposure?

The president attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC last month, where someone who later tested positive mingled with several conservative lawmakers.

Several Republican members of Congress – including Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, Georgia congressman Doug Collins, Arizona congressman Paul Gosar and Texas Senator Ted Cruz – all announced they would self-quarantine as a precautionary measure after coming into contact with the infected person.

Mr Collins and Mr Gaetz – who has since tested negative – came into close contact with Mr Trump shortly after the conference.

What has the White House said?

The White House has continuously played down the president’s exposure to the virus and has dismissed the need for him to be tested or to self-isolate.

Asked if Mr Trump would follow the lead taken by his fellow Republicans after the confirmed case at CPAC his spokeswoman said there was “no” concern about the president’s exposure.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionForeign students scramble amidst US college shutdowns

Mr Trump “had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

“There is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine.”

What did Justin Trudeau do?

This week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he would enter 14-day self-quarantine after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the virus.

There are no plans for Mr Trudeau to be tested.

Speaking to press on Friday, the prime minister said he was taking advice from doctors and “it was explained to me that as long as I show no symptoms at all there is no value in being tested”.