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Timetable of John Durham review unrestrained by 2020 election

The nation’s top law enforcement officer said the 2020 election will have no bearing on the Justice Department’s review of the Russia investigation.

Attorney General William Barr, in an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Tuesday, also said U.S. Attorney John Durham’s inquiry into the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane operation and into the conduct of associated law enforcement officers and intelligence officials is proceeding full speed ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic but stressed indictments are not imminent.

Hewitt said there are DOJ guidelines related to announcing either indictments or the end of an investigation close to an election because of the impact it might have on who wins, noting these rules factored into then-FBI Director James Comey’s statement in July 2016 declaring that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information on her private email server but that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring an indictment against her. Hewitt pressed Barr on what Durham’s deadline was and whether any political considerations were being made.

Barr said Election Day was not going to be a factor for when Durham releases his likely report or for when he may press charges.

“As far as I’m aware, none of the key people that, whose actions are being reviewed at this point by Durham, are running for president,” Barr said.

“I think, in its core, the idea is, you don’t go after candidates,” he added. “You don’t indict candidates or perhaps someone that’s sufficiently close to a candidate, that it’s essentially the same, you know, within a certain number of days before an election. But, you know, as I say, I don’t think any of the people whose actions are under review by Durham fall into that category.”

There has been some debate about whether Durham should avoid making any significant moves or announcements close to the presidential election, which is shaping up to be a contest between President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Andrew McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney in New York and senior fellow at the National Review Institute, recently said, “The closer it gets to Election Day, the more any charges he brought would be framed by the media as kind of a Trump campaign stunt.” The former federal prosecutor also warned the investigation will go “down the memory hole” if Trump does not win reelection in November.

With the review about a year in, Hewitt asked Barr if he was “shocked” by anything Durham had briefed him on so far, to which Barr said he “wouldn’t use the word shocked,” though he said he was “very troubled” by some of what he learned.

“I think the reason that we have this investigation is because there are a lot of things that are unexplained,” Barr said. “And I think we’re getting deeply into the situation, and we’ll be able to sort out exactly what happened.”

Barr did not weigh in on recently declassified footnotes from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report on the FBI’s Russia investigation that showed the bureau had been aware of warnings that Russian disinformation may have compromised British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier, which was used to obtain warrants to surveil Carter Page, a onetime adviser to the Trump campaign.

Hewitt asked when Durham might make some sort of announcement about whether indictments were coming or not, and Barr replied that would happen “as soon as we feel we have something that we are confident in to tell the people about.” The radio show host then asked if such an announcement would be “imminent.”

“No, it’s not imminent,” Barr said. “But I’m not sure what imminent means. I’m not sure what imminent means. But it’s not imminent.”

Barr discussed revelations related to a recent FISA audit by Horowitz in which flaws were found in 29 out of 29 sample surveillance applications that were reviewed, as well as “material errors or omissions” being unearthed in two FISA applications as recently as 2019.

“I think that the failure to follow the guidelines and the requirements in preparing FISA applications, you know, is very disturbing, especially coming as recently as it has,” Barr said. “And, you know, we shouldn’t proceed with FISA unless we have safeguards and ensure that the law is being scrupulously followed by the FBI.”

Horowitz’s lengthy December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA warrants against Page in 2016 and 2017 and for the bureau’s reliance on Steele’s unverified dossier. Steele put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.

Durham drove to Washington, D.C., in March to ensure the investigation stayed on track during the coronavirus outbreak. Connecticut’s top federal prosecutor is reportedly looking into highly sensitive issues, including whether former CIA Director John Brennan took politicized actions to pressure the rest of the intelligence community to match his conclusions about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivations during the 2016 presidential election.

The 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment concluded with “high confidence” that Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016” and that Russia worked to “undermine public faith” in U.S. democracy, “denigrate” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and “harm her electability and potential presidency,” and “developed a clear preference” for Trump. The NSA diverged on one aspect, expressing only “moderate confidence” that Putin actively tried to help Trump win and Clinton lose.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report, released Tuesday, found the 2017 spy assessment “presents a coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case of unprecedented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The Senate investigators did not find evidence of undue political pressure by Brennan or anyone else.

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Bill Gurley is stepping away from an active role at Benchmark, 21 years after joining the firm – TechCrunch

According to a new WSJ report, Bill Gurley, among the most famous of Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists, looks to be stepping way from Benchmark, the early-stage venture firm that was founded in 1995 and which Gurley joined soon after, in 1999. According to its sources, he will not be investing the firm’s 10th venture firm, which is targeting $425 million in capital commitments.

Gurley’s apparent segue out of the firm won’t surprise many. Benchmark — which has always run a fairly small operation — has routinely groomed new investors as veterans of the firm have moved on. When Benchmark raised its last fund — another $425 million vehicle in 2018 — it parted ways with Mitch Lasky and Matt Cohler, who’d joined the firm in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

The firm’s cofounders — Bob Kagle, Kevin Harvey, Andy Rachleff, and Bruce Dunlevie — also stepped away years ago from actively investing on behalf of Benchmark, with Kagle saying in 2011 that he wanted to sail more, while Harvey got into the wine-making business, where he has since developed at least seven estate vineyards from Santa Cruz to Mendocino under his company’s brand, Rhys Vineyards.

Each continues to list himself publicly as a general partner at the firm, to maintain ties, and, on rare occasion, to represent Benchmark on a board of directors, as happened with Dunlevie, who joined the board of 10-year-old WeWork when Benchmark led the company’s $17 million Series A round in 2012. (Dunlevie is now part of a special committee of WeWork’s board of directors that is suing SoftBank for alleged breaches of contract related to its recent decision to cancel a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.)

Still, Gurley’s presence will be missed. He is the longest-standing partner of Benchmark and certainly the highest profile, thanks partly to an active presence on Twitter, along with Gurley’s highly regarded blog posts and, earlier in his career, a regular column with Fortune magazine.

He is also credited with some of the firm’s most lucrative investments, including, most profitably, a $10 million Series A bet in 2011 on a then-nascent Uber — a deal that has gone on to produce many billions of dollars in returned capital to Benchmark’s investors.

The deal also sullied Gurley’s reputation to an extent, after Gurley –who sat on Uber’s board — engineered the 2017 ouster of Uber’s cofounding CEO, Travis Kalanick. At the time, the manuever raised questions both about how founder friendly Benchmark is and also why, if Uber was being mismanaged, Benchmark waited so long to take action.

In the meantime, partly because Uber took its time in becoming a publicly traded company, Gurley had become renowned in recent years for warning founders to take their companies public sooner — and to stop spending frivolously.

At a Goldman Sachs technology conference in 2018, for example, he cautioned — not for the first time — that easy money was making founders less and less accountable to their investors while also driving up valuations to undeserving heights.

“Watch out,” he’d said on stage. “It’s a dangerous time.”

As the most senior member of Benchmark, Gurley has been credited with maintaining the firm’s unwavering focus on early-stage investments, turning down hundreds of millions of investing capital to raise fund after fund in the range of $400 million while other firms have established bigger and more numerous funds to manage.

In 2016, Gurley marveled at the trend in conversation with this editor. “It’s not just the size of the funds but the velocity” at which VCs are returning to their investors, he said at the time. “The Kauffman fund said that billion dollar funds sucked, then everybody went out and raised billion-dollar funds.”

Benchmark itself raised one $1 billion fund during the go-go dot.com days, after an investment in eBay established the young outfit as a top firm. But Benchmark quickly reverted back to smaller vehicles, deciding it was mistake.

We reached out earlier today to Gurley for comment on his plans and have yet to heard back.

Other general partners at Benchmark include its newest hire, general partner Chetan Puttagunta, along with GPs Sarah Tavel, Eric Vishria, and Peter Fenton.

In Gurley’s absence, Fenton will become the most senior partner on the team, having joined Benchmark in 2006 from Accel, where Fenton was an investor previously.

According to the WSJ, Benchmark will up be able up to invest one-fifth of the fund it is raising in public companies or more mature, later-stage companies. It’s a departure for the firm, but sources tell the WSJ that the move reflects the current coronavirus-impacted environment, wherein later-stage and publicly traded companies have seen their values plummet despite what may be strong fundamentals in many cases.

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Scalise knocks Pelosi, says she ‘got shamed into realizing you can’t play games with’ small business aid

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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., joined “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Wednesday to discuss the “Phase 3.5” coronavirus aid bill, which would replenish funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) meant to aid small businesses struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK, STATE-BY-STATE

“This is going to pass [the House] tomorrow overwhelmingly. And look, the paycheck protection program has been incredibly successful, has been a lifeline to millions of workers out there,” Scalise said. “And I know Speaker Pelosi played some games with it. I think, frankly, she got shamed into realizing you can’t play games with this program that’s a lifeline to our small businesses and the millions of people that they employ.”

MCCONNELL WANTS TO HIT ‘PAUSE’ ON FEDERAL AID, SAYS STATES CAN DECLARE BANKRUPTCY

The Senate on Tuesday passed the $484 billion package, which would also provide hospitals with another $75 billion and implement a nationwide virus testing program to facilitate reopening the economy.

“You can’t just keep thinking you can shut the economy down for another month or two. You saw what happened in the energy industry. You see what’s happening in the ag[riculture] industry,” Scalise said. “You know, major industries in this country on the verge of collapse. If we keep doing this because supply chains are breaking down, they weren’t built to have an entire economy shut down for months on end.”

“We need to get smarter about social distancing and wash our hands, things like that,” Scalise added. “But people have to start getting back to work and getting the economy going again.”

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The congressman also backed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told Fox News earlier Wednesday that he has no plans of passing legislation to provide additional federal funding to state and local governments who he said are trying to “take advantage” the coronavirus crisis to get help with their ballooning deficits.

“Don’t try to roll in your previous crisis that you created because of high taxes and really bad policies that were running, literally running businesses and families out of your state,” Scalise said. “And we know those states, by the way, where that was happening.”

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Yael Halon contributed to this report.

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Coronavirus: HHS official says he was fired over hydroxychloroquine

In a scathing letter, the former director of the federal agency overseeing the development of a coronavirus vaccine claims he was removed from his post following clashes with Trump administration officials over their pushing of unproven and potentially dangerous coronavirus treatments.

“Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit,” writes Dr. Rick Bright in the letter, which was released through the law firm representing him.

Bright was alluding to efforts President Donald Trump and a number of his supporters in government and the media have made in recent weeks to promote hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus miracle drug.

“While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” Bright continued. “I insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed Covid-19 while under the supervision of a physician.”

Bright led the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the agency leading the push for vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, until he was demoted Tuesday into a lesser role within the National Institutes of Health.

In the letter, first reported by the New York Times, Bright demanded the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General investigate whether his demotion to a lesser role with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stemmed from political or financial motives instead of public health ones. (Trump has a small investment in a company that manufactures Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine, and numerous wealthy Republican donors who are close with Trump have larger financial stakes in hydroxychloroquine drugs.)

“These drugs have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with Covid-19,” Bright writes. “Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis.”

HHS did not immediately respond to an email from Vox seeking comment. Politico, however, cites unnamed sources within the department who pushed back on Bright’s explosive account by characterizing his departure as “more than a year in the making” and following clashes between him and other officials.

Trump hyped hydroxychloroquine for weeks

Bright’s demotion came just ahead of publication of a study of coronavirus patients in Veterans Affairs hospitals that found more deaths among those treated with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, than those treated with standard care. Researchers reported finding no benefit to its use, reinforcing previous warnings from doctors that hydroxychloroquine can result in drug-induced cardiac arrest for a small subset of the population.

The study of VA patients, which the NIH posted to its website on Tuesday and is the largest of its kind, was not peer-reviewed, and the authors concluded more rigorous studies are needed.

But while it isn’t the final word, the new study represented a major setback to Trumpworld’s efforts to portray hydroxychloroquine as a magic bullet that could end the coronavirus crisis. During press briefings earlier this month, Trump described hydroxychloroquine as a “game-changer” and said of doctors, “I hope they use it because I’ll tell you what, what do you have to lose?”

On April 7, Trump told Sean Hannity, “by the way, the hydroxychloroquine, we have millions of doses that I bought. I bought millions of doses. You know, for the country.” Indeed, HHS recently acquired millions of doses of the drug, and late last month the Food and Drug Administration authorized its emergency use for coronavirus.

Trump’s infatuation with hydroxychloroquine can be traced back to a controversial French study released in March on a small number of Covid-19 patients that found hydroxychloroquine could lessen the duration of infection. Media Matters for America has detailed how the French study and similar anecdotal evidence from China were covered by Fox News, amplified by Trump, with Trump’s amplification in turn being covered by Fox — a perfect illustration of the Fox-to-Trump feedback loop.

As it became clear that the United States was going to be especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Trump became insistent that the drug could be a savior — despite warnings from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci that clinical trials were needed and it was too soon to “make any definitive statement” about the efficaciousness of the drug.

On Tuesday, however, Trump’s tone suddenly changed. Asked about the results of the VA study during that evening’s White House press briefing, Trump dodged, saying, “I don’t know of the report,” and then tried to distance himself from the drug.

“We’ll be looking at it, we’ll have a comment on it at some point,” he said.

While those comments put Trump’s position on the unproven drug more in line with public health experts, Bright’s letter indicates there is still a great deal of discord happening behind the scenes.

“I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way,” he wrote.


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Iran says it launched military satellite as Trump threatens ships

Tehran (AFP) – Iran said it put its first military satellite into orbit Wednesday, making it an emerging “world power”, as the US issued new threats amid rising naval tensions in the Gulf.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps hailed the launch as a milestone, in the face of intense US pressure and Washington’s allegations that the space programme is a cover to develop ballistic missiles.

“Today, we are looking at the Earth from the sky, and it is the beginning of the formation of a world power,” the elite unit’s commander Hossein Salami said, quoted by Fars news agency.

Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated again last week with Washington accusing its arch-foe of harassing its ships in the Gulf.

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to say he had “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the satellite launch proved US charges that Iran’s space programme was for military rather than commercial purposes.

“I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they’ve done,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington.

Iran maintains it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, and says its aerospace activities are peaceful and comply with a UN Security Council resolution.

Sepahnews, the Revolutionary Guards’ website, said the satellite dubbed the Nour — meaning “light” in Persian — had been launched from the Markazi desert, a vast expanse in Iran’s central plateau.

The satellite “orbited the Earth at 425 kilometres (264 miles)” above sea level, said Sepahnews.

Iran’s regional rival Israel said it “strongly condemns” what it called Iran’s “attempt” to launch a military satellite.

It urged more international sanctions over what it called “a facade” for Iran’s continued development of advanced missiles, including ones that could deliver a nuclear warhead.

David Norquist, the US deputy defence secretary, said the Iranian launch “went a very long way”.

The range “means it has the ability once again to threaten their neighbours, our allies. And we want to make sure they can never threaten the United States,” he told reporters.

– ‘Great national achievement’ –

Iranian state television aired footage from multiple angles of a rocket blasting off into a mostly clear blue sky.

The rocket bore the name Qassed, meaning “messenger”, in what appears to be the first time Iran has used a launcher of this type.

Its fuselage also bore a Koranic inscription that read: “Glory be to God who made this available to us, otherwise we could not have done it.”

There was no way to independently verify the details and timing of the reported launch.

Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi took to Twitter to congratulate the Guards’ air force, adding he had visited the launch site three weeks ago.

“They were great,” he said, describing the satellite as a “three-stage solid fuel” launcher.

Iran has repeatedly tried and failed to launch satellites in the past.

The most recent attempt was on February 9 when it said it launched but was unable to put into orbit the Zafar, which means “victory” in Persian.

– High-seas encounter –

The longstanding acrimony between Iran and the United States sharply escalated in 2018 when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral deal that froze Iran’s nuclear programme.

Tensions escalated again in January when the US killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Guards’ foreign operations arm, in a drone strike in Iraq.

The Pentagon last week accused Iran of “dangerous and provocative” actions in the Gulf.

It said 11 Guards boats “repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns” of US vessels in international waters.

Iran said the US gave a “Hollywood” account of the encounter and warned that any “miscalculation will receive a decisive response”.

The friction comes as both the United States and Iran are hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tehran says that US “economic terrorism” has denied it access to medical equipment needed to fight the virus.

Pompeo said the satellite launch showed Iran was disingenuous when it requested a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund, where the United States holds an effective veto.

“I would hope that the Iranian regime will respond to the Iranian people’s demands to prioritise resources — resources that the Iranian regime clearly has,” Pompeo said.

But Iran’s military spokesman said that Trump himself should focus on the coronavirus, which has claimed nearly 50,000 lives in the United States, more than any other country.

“Today, instead of intimidating others, the Americans would do better to save their troops infected by the coronavirus,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Iran has declared that the disease has claimed the lives of nearly 5,400 people and infected almost 86,000 since the outbreak emerged on February 19, but observers believe the numbers to be significantly higher.

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Why Are They So Mad at Bernie Supporters?

Joe Biden wrapped up the nomination on April 8, the day Sanders dropped out. And many prominent liberals celebrated the coronation of the man promising to bring their big ideas back to the White House by logging on and scolding his defeated rival’s most ardent supporters.

“This is the death throes of a movement, happening in real-time,” said Markos Moulitsas, co-founder of Vox and founder of Daily Kos. “Perhaps ‘organizing outside of electoral politics’ might have something to do with an inability to, you know, win elections?”

“These are not ‘left-wing’ voters,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “They are privileged white voters who demand to be bowed down to, no different than [how] Trump’s voters want those who are not white and Christian to take the knee for them.”

And they went after not only Sanders supporters, but two of his most visible campaign staffers — press secretary Briahna Joy Gray and senior adviser David Sirota.

“Good thing Sirota will never be hired again,” tweeted Brad Bauman, the former executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Sad that some thought him brilliant in the first place.”

“Makes for good for lots retweets [sic],” Keith Edwards, a Bloomberg campaign staffer, said of Gray’s defiant attitude, “bad for a political career. Good luck!”

Others, perhaps nervously eyeing November matchup polls between Biden and Trump, began to wring their hands about radical Bernie Bro saboteurs in their midst who threatened to hand reelection to the president.

“Important to recognize that Biden’s party unity problem is going to be driven by Berniesphere media — Chapo, Jacobin, Current Affairs, Bruenigs,” Matt Yglesias of Vox tweeted, “rather than by Bernie personally.”

It’s a summary of a short post by Yglesias which begins by arguing that this disunity “will be a real problem for [Biden’s] campaign,” but concludes:

Rather than spend time on a likely fruitless effort to court the left, Biden might want to accept that he’s going to take a lot of crap from the Berniesphere no matter what he does and just lean into his moderate brand.

The Left matters. But also they don’t. Confused? Here’s why — because the Democratic Party commentariat is also very confused.

They think they don’t need the Berniecrat left in order to win. But they’re not sure. In fact, they’re a little nervous. Add that to the fact that none of them are very enthusiastic about Joe Biden, a candidate who excites them considerably less than Hillary Clinton did, and you’re left with some antsy media liberals.

They got what they thought they wanted — a defeated Sanders. And yet they’re not at all happy about it. Which means, just as they did after Clinton’s loss to Trump, they’re already lining up the scapegoats.

To this day, Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and even Bernie Sanders — despite not running third party — have been widely blamed for Democratic defeats. And that blame-game is already revving up for 2020. At this point, it’s a two-decade tradition for liberals, even though the Libertarian Gary Johnson’s 3 percent of the vote in 2016 — to say nothing of Ross Perot or John Anderson — was more than any left-wing spoiler has received in almost a hundred years.

But Sanders is nothing like a Green Party candidate. Not only has he heartily campaigned for the Democratic nominee, he and his program have a mass, durable base of tens of millions proven now over two primaries. And yet from watching the Biden campaign unfold as the standard bearer of the 2020 Democratic Party, you’d never know it.

It’s not exactly a mystery as to what Sanders voters are after — jobs, health care, and higher ed for all with higher taxes on capital to pay for it. If Biden switched gears and began campaigning hard on even a compromised version of this program instead of “China!” he would have little problem winning over the vast majority of Sanders supporters — and likely a considerable number of nonvoters, too.

If Biden did the unthinkable and suddenly embraced Medicare for All — a considerably less wild idea amid a pandemic and a $2 trillion spending package — he might even get them out into swing-states knocking on doors.

Instead, in the face of Biden’s abysmal record, we’re given the same dashed-off bullet points buried deep on a campaign website. The genius of this approach is that Democrats can disarm troublesome left-liberal voices in the Discourse by shooting over a URL without their candidate ever having to publicly run on — and thus promise — any of these things (some of them quite good) to the general electorate. A promise buried on a website is one that certainly doesn’t need to be kept.

It’s not exactly a mystery as to what’s going on. But a lot of well-paid writers are going to try and convince you otherwise. Earlier this week, on the same day that the New York Times published Michelle Goldberg’s op-ed entitled “A Biden Presidency Could Be Better Than Progressives Think,” they reported elsewhere on their website that Erskine Bowles — of the Simpson-Bowles commission to cut Social Security — just hosted yet another Biden fundraiser.

We’ll continue to hear a lot about this “most progressive campaign platform in a generation” all summer, even as the actual message sounds more like the Judge from Caddyshack: “You’ll get nothing and like it!”

It’s a shame. If Discourse Liberals could log off for a bit and take a look at much of the Berniecrat set, they’d discover this new generation of radicals is much more interested in taking power than in maintaining ideological purity.

In the brief moment of time in which it seemed quite possible Sanders just might somehow win the Democratic Party nomination, a writer for this very outlet proposed that Sanders select Sen. Tammy Baldwin as his running mate. Some of our readers were alarmed by the suggestion, as Baldwin — while a Medicare-for-All supporter — is neither a socialist nor an anti-establishment bomb-thrower.

But Kalewold’s logic was simple: in a general election, Sanders would need “more than the masses to enact his agenda. Despite the wild popularity of Sanders among its voters, the Democratic Party shows no signs of becoming the willing agent of any kind of social-democratic ‘political revolution’ … Uniting the party after the primary cycle is over will require concessions.”

It was a sober recognition that, like it or not, the Left was far from being able to go it alone and would need the massive institution of the Democratic Party on its side first to beat Trump then to enact even a fraction of its agenda. We might not like them or trust them — but, for now, we need them.

Sanders did not win. But, once again, he more than proved he represents a dedicated and fervent ideological force. Perhaps a plurality of Democratic voters. Back in December 2018, Markos Moulitsas tweeted “Bernie won’t get more than 12% once the field shapes up. Likely single digits,” saying that there were “too few Bernie dead-enders left.” In January 2019, MSNBC’s Jason Johnson predicted that Bernie would be out of the race by August.

They were wrong. Sanders once again came in second place, this time beating out half a dozen candidates who benefited from all the best party advisors, funders, and media hype, including progressive establishment darling Elizabeth Warren, who failed to win a single contest and came in third place in her own home state.

It’s time for liberals to make up their minds — if the hard left can swing an American election, then they should bring them to the table and start cutting deals. If they are powerful enough to force the establishment — after having exhausted every other option — into rapidly coalescing around a candidate who deeply embarrasses them, then they’re powerful enough for some major concessions.

But if they’re so marginal as to have zero effect in November, then Democrats should spare us the bleating about Bernie Bro sabotage and instead take a look in the mirror as they find themselves up against another intransigent GOP monster in just a few short years.

It’s an open secret that in Biden, these Democrats did not get what they wanted. In fact, that’s the core of Trump’s effective new ad — needling them on this fact. And maybe this explains liberal media temper-tantrums about Sanders supporters — they know we were right. And worse, despite how hard they look, they can’t see a genuinely transformative future — one that can tackle the crises of health care, climate, and inequality — without the Berniecrats leading the charge.

Those voters are now clearly a major and durable force in American politics — dominating all those under forty-five as well as Latinos, a booming demographic that liberals otherwise champion as “the future of America” (just not when they’re voting the wrong way).

But no matter what happens in the fall, I doubt we’ll be hearing the end of this fretting about the dissident left. That’s the trouble of a party who unites almost solely on what they are not — they look in the mirror and can’t even tell you what they see.

And with an existential crisis like that gnawing away at them, they’ll take any chance to look away — to find someone else to blame. In other words, the dreaded Bernie Bro will continue to haunt them. They wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Minnesota Will Soon Be Able to Test Every Symptomatic Person for Coronavirus

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Wednesday announced a “breakthrough” statewide pandemic mitigation strategy that will allow for every symptomatic person to be tested for coronavirus, with capacity for as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day.

Walz, the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota (U of M) stood together at a press briefing today and jointly launched the new widespread testing strategy that will test all symptomatic individuals, isolate confirmed cases and expand public health surveillance tools.

“While Minnesota faces a challenge, we rise up—together,” Walz said. “I’m proud to partner with Minnesota’s innovative health care systems and leading research institutions to pioneer how states can begin to move forward amid Covid-19.”

Walz, who has indicated he wants to reopen the state economy when it’s safe, has extended his stay-at-home order to May 4. He says the new strategy will deliver capacity to conduct 20,000 coronavirus and 15,000 antibody tests per day. It will in part be funded by the $36 million in a Minnesota response fund established by the state government and approved by Walz.


Minnesota Governor Tim Walz introduces Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) during a campaign rally at First Avenue on January 17, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Stephen Maturen/Getty

A central lab will be established to accommodate the widened testing capabilities and a virtual command center will monitor the results and formulate responses to potential Covid-19 clusters.

Minnesota has 2,721 confirmed cases of the coronavirus based on a total of 49,344 tests, but health officials say it’s inadequate to understand the state’s outbreak. State health experts believe each confirmed case could carry up to 100 undiscovered cases as many infected individuals do not show any symptoms.

The expanded testing announcement came hours after the state Department of Health reported 154 new infections and 19 additional deaths, the most so far in a single day, bringing the total to 179 fatalities caused by the novel disease. Currently 240 individuals with Covid-19 are under hospital care, with 107 of those in intensive care.

Minnesota Health Commission Jan Malcolm announced earlier this week that the expansion of testing capacity in the state would come soon. Local health officials also appeared at a Senate committee Tuesday to explain why widespread testing was vital to battling the virus. “Anyone in Minnesota that has symptoms, we want them to be able to go to their clinics, go to their health providers, and get tested,” assistant health commissioner Dan Huff said in his testimony.

Newsweek reached out to Walz for additional information on testing expansion timelines.

As of April 22, more than 842,100 individuals had tested positive for coronavirus in the U.S, with over 47,100 deaths caused by the new disease and 83,600 recoveries.

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Pres. Trump, White House coronavirus task force plan Wednesday briefing

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force are expected to hold a briefing Wednesday to discuss the latest on coronavirus in the U.S.

The briefing is tentatively scheduled for 5:45 p.m. and can be streamed live right here.

Congress is sprinting to approve a $483 billion coronavirus aid package, as the White House and lawmakers begin scoping out the next rescue deal for health care providers and an economy battered by the crisis.

The House is expected to vote Thursday on the latest bill, already passed by the Senate, which would replenish a small-business payroll fund and pump more money into hospitals and testing programs. President Donald Trump has said he would sign it into law.

But the bipartisan effort, Washington’s fourth in response to the crisis, is not expected to be the last as lawmakers take unprecedented steps to confront the virus and prop up communities nationwide amid the health crisis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the next priority must “support our heroes” — the front-line city and state workers — as cash-strapped local governments stare down gaping budget holes.

“We have health care workers, transit workers, police, fire, EMS all kinds of public employees, who risk their lives to save lives and now lose their jobs,” Pelosi said after the Senate vote. “This is most unfortunate, and they cannot stand.”

Trump has said he was open to including fiscal relief for state and local government in another virus aid package along with infrastructure projects.

But Senate Majority Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Republicans will be extremely reluctant to engage in more spending, particularly for the states.

“We all have governors who would love to have free money,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. He added: “We’re going to push the pause button here.”

He also raised the possibility of changing federal law so that states could file for bankruptcy —something they are not now permitted. He said he would be willing to allow states facing red ink to file for bankruptcy protections so they can reorganize the way local municipalities are able to do.

Such a change appeared highly unlikely — and would present dire consequences for state vendors, bondholders and pension funds. Even if Congress changed the law, that would raise constitutional issues that would likely end up before the Supreme Court.

Given McConnell’s comments, it’s not clear how soon the next bill will be drafted, although Trump has signaled he wants discussions to begin as soon as Congress finishes the current legislation.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Tuesday, and the House is expected to pass it overwhelmingly in a roll call vote Thursday.

Most of the bill’s funding, $331 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week. There would be $100 billion for health care, with $75 billion to hospitals and $25 billion to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence required to reopen state economies. There is $60 billion for a small-business loans and grants.

What started as a Trump administration effort with Republicans to bolster the government’s small-business Paycheck Protection Program quickly doubled in size, second only to the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package that became law last month.

Democratic demands for additional funds for hospitals and virus testing in the states became more pressing, and eventually gained support from Republicans.

Of the $25 billion for increased testing efforts, at least $11 billion goes to state and tribal governments to detect and track new infections. The rest will help fund federal research into new coronavirus testing options.

Currently, the U.S. has tested roughly 4 million people for the virus, or just over 1% of its population, according to the Covid Tracking Project website.

While the White House says the U.S. has enough testing to begin easing social distancing measures, most experts say capacity needs to increase at least threefold, if not more.

The centerpiece of the deal remains the small-business payroll program. It provides forgivable loans so shops can continue paying workers while businesses remain closed for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

Launched just weeks ago, the paycheck program quickly reached its lending limit after approving nearly 1.7 million loans. That left thousands of small businesses in limbo as they sought help.

Democrats highlighted the number of smaller and minority-owned shops missing out on the aid and number of publicly traded, big-name corporations also received loans.

As part of the new agreement, $60 billion or so has been set aside for — and divided equally among — smaller banks and community lenders, a nod to neighborhoods and rural areas underserved by banks.

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A Well-Dressed Young Man Upstaged a Rock Star on Instagram

Like many musicians and celebrities locked down around the world, Max Kerman, the front man of Canadian rock band Arkells, has been connecting with fans via Instagram during the coronavirus.

He hosts a daily “Flatten the Curve Music Class” where he entertains his social media followers with covers of songs by the likes of Bob Dylan and Wilco, teaches aspiring rockers how to play one of the band’s songs, and chats with fans. While Kerman is the host and thus the star of the show, a recent young guest managed to completely upstage the artist on his own social media account.

In a post shared on Instagram, Kerman introduces the world to Dylan, a young man with an impeccable sense of fashion and absolutely no qualms about outshining his host. Dylan appears on camera dressed in a sweater, button-up shirt, and tie. When Kerman remarks, “You are very dressed up!” Dylan begs to differ. “I’m not dressed up,” he says. “I’m just wearing my casual knit sweater. This is my every day look.” Dylan goes on to explain that he likes to dress in “Prohibition-era fashion” a look he stumbled upon after perusing photos of gentlemen from the 1920s and 1930s. When Kerman asked him if he was abiding by the rules of Prohibition and not drinking, Dylan pointedly reminded him, “I’m a child.”

When that was settled, Dylan explained that he not only appreciated the fashion of the era, but also the so-called “Transatlantic accent” that was popular at the time. Naturally, Kerman needed more of an explanation. Dylan easily launches into a brief history lesson of the acquired accent that was adopted by Hollywood types in the Roaring 20s.

While Dylan was ready to play guitar with Kerman, it was not his forté, so Kerman redirected him to a fashion and history lesson. By the end of Dylan’s appearance, it was clear that there aren’t too many kids like him. “We’ve had a lot of amazing guests on #FTCMusicClass but Dylan is in a league of his own,” Kerman captioned the video that he shared online.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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Live Coronavirus Updates – The New York Times

The doctor who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for a rigorous vetting of a coronavirus treatment embraced by President Trump. The doctor said that science, not “politics and cronyism” must lead the way.

Dr. Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

Instead, he was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health. “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in a statement to The Times’s Maggie Haberman.

“I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way,” he said.

The White House declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Alex Azar, the HHS secretary, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The medical publication Stat reported on Tuesday that Dr. Bright had clashed with Bob Kadlec, the assistant health secretary for preparedness and response.

Dr. Bright, who noted that his entire career had been spent in vaccine development both in and outside of government, has led BARDA since 2016.

In the statement, he said: “My professional background has prepared me for a moment like this — to confront and defeat a deadly virus that threatens Americans and people around the globe. To this point, I have led the government’s efforts to invest in the best science available to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, this resulted in clashes with H.H.S. political leadership, including criticism for my proactive efforts to invest early into vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives. I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections,” he said.

Dr. Bright, who is a career official and not a political appointee, pointed specifically to the initial efforts to make chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine widely available before it was scientifically tested for efficacy with the coronavirus.

“Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit,” he said.

“While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” Dr. Bright said, describing what ultimately happened: “I insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed Covid-19 while under the supervision of a physician.

“These drugs have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with Covid-19.

“Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis,” Dr. Bright said.

“I will request that the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services investigate the manner in which this administration has politicized the work of BARDA and has pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit,” he said. “Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics.”

The panel did specifically advise against several treatments unless they were given in clinical trials. One was the combination of hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin, which Mr. Trump has repeatedly promoted despite the lack of evidence that they work. Those drugs should be used only in clinical trials “because of the potential for toxicities,” the experts said.

The panel also had cautionary advice about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, even when given without azithromycin, saying that patients receiving them should be monitored for adverse effects, particularly an abnormality in heart rhythm.

The revelation that a coronavirus death took place in the United States in early February shifts the understanding of its arrival in this country and changes the picture of what the nation was contending with by the time government officials began taking action.

The first Covid-19 death in the United States had previously been thought to be on Feb. 26 in Seattle, one of the worst-hit cities in the country.

Officials in Santa Clara County said Wednesday that a newly discovered coronavirus-linked death Feb. 6, the earliest known death in the United States caused by the virus, was one of more than a dozen deaths in the county that the medical examiner had suspicions about and ordered investigated.

“We do have pending cases that we are still investigating,” said Dr. Michelle Jorden, the Santa Clara County medical examiner-coroner.

None of the deaths still under investigation came before Feb. 6, she said.

The Feb. 6 death was a 57-year-old woman who died at her home in Silicon Valley, officials said Wednesday.

The announcement has reset the timeline of the spread of infection in the United States.

Dr. Sara Cody, the chief health officer of Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, said the newly diagnosed cases underlined that the virus was spreading undetected for weeks in the country.

“In January and February, we must have had the virus but we weren’t looking for it. It may have been part of our influenza numbers,” Dr. Cody said.

Dr. Cody led the effort to issue the nation’s first stay at home orders on March 16. But she said she would have issued the orders even earlier had she known about the February deaths.

“I think if we had had widespread testing earlier and if we had been able to document the level of transmission in the county, if we had understood then that people were already dying, we probably would have acted earlier than we did,” Dr. Cody said.

Officials have said that the death was believed to have been the result of community spread, not travel to another country.

“It was probably around unrecognized for quite some time,” said Dr. Jeffrey V. Smith, the Santa Clara county executive.

The virus has an incubation period of 14 days, and people who die of it are often sick for at least three weeks; the individual who died on Feb. 6 could have been infected — and transmitting the infection to others — in early January, experts said.

Santa Clara County officials also have announced that a second death, on Feb. 17, was also a result of the coronavirus. Both of the deaths occurred before what had been believed to be the first deaths from the virus in the United States in late February.

Testing at the time was limited by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria to examine individuals who had traveled abroad.

“This offers evidence of what many of us in the field had been saying,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “That restricting testing was going to miss cases that could have a chain of transmission that ended up with somebody dying.”

This shift in timing raises new questions about when the virus arrived in the United States, how it spread and how government officials approached a strategy to slow the spread. At the time of the first death, American officials were restricting travel from China and urging recent travelers to isolate themselves for two weeks.

The Education Department will prohibit colleges from granting emergency assistance to undocumented students, even those currently under federal protection, according to guidance issued to colleges and universities on Tuesday.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ordered higher education institutions to distribute more than $6 billion in emergency relief only to students who are eligible for federal financial aid, including U.S. citizens or legal residents. The directive effectively excluded the hundreds of thousands of students who attend college under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — program, an Obama-era policy that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

Mr. Trump has moved to end the program, but that effort is awaiting Supreme Court review.

The funding is part of about $12 billion allocated for colleges and universities under a $2 trillion coronavirus stabilization law that Congress passed last month to help them recoup financial damages caused by pandemic. Half of those funds are supposed to go directly to students impacted by campus closures. In the coming weeks, schools are expected to award emergency relief grants to students to pay for expenses like food, housing, child care and technology.

The stimulus law, titled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, did not explicitly define which students qualified for the funds. The Education Department defended its choice to do so. “The CARES Act makes clear that this taxpayer funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout the law,” a spokeswoman said in statements to reporters.

The department’s guidance alarmed higher education advocates and policy experts, who said it ran counter to what Ms. DeVos told them when she announced the funding was coming.

The announcement came as Mr. Trump, whose administration has faced intense criticism in recent months for his handling of the crisis, sought to change the subject this week by resuming his assault on immigration, which animated his 2016 campaign and became one of the defining issues of his presidency.

Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he would sign the executive order on Wednesday mandating a 60-day halt in issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States. He backed away from plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups complained of losing access to foreign labor.

The president’s new policy would close the doors to thousands of people hoping to enter the United States or to lay down permanent roots in the country through long-term work or family connections — at least temporarily.

From South Dakota’s raceways to Atlanta’s barbershops, states grapple with reopening businesses.

Two South Dakota dirt tracks plan to hold auto races this weekend, opening their gates to hundreds of spectators despite the state’s governor, Kristi Noem, urging people to stay away.

In South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster allowed many stores to reopen Tuesday, consumers were slow to return. And Georgia prepared to go ahead with its plans to let a wide variety of businesses reopen in the coming days despite the objections of the mayors of its biggest cities, and of health experts who warn that the virus is still spreading there.

States around the nation have been trying to balance the need to combat a public health crisis with the need to ameliorate a growing economic crisis. At the White House, Mr. Trump has made it clear that he is impatient for businesses to reopen, and in some states small protests, with the support of some conservative groups, have urged governors to ease restrictions. But polls have found Americans are more fearful of easing restrictions too early than too late, and some business leaders have cautioned against moving too quickly to reopen businesses.

The tensions are playing out across the nation in different ways.

In South Dakota, the organizers of the races at the two tracks near Jefferson said that they would limit the number of fans to avoid crowding: The Park Jefferson International Speedway will allow a maximum of 700 people in its 4,000-seat venue on Saturday night, while Raceway Park will let 500 fans in for its Sunday races.

“We intend to go overboard on following C.D.C. guidelines,” the Speedway’s owner, Adam Adamson, told the Argus Leader newspaper. “We’re just a small racetrack in rural South Dakota trying to give some entertainment and a little bit of a break from some of this madness that’s going on right now. We think we can do so in a safe environment.”

Raceway Park officials said they would be checking spectators’ temperatures at the gates and that face masks would be required.

While there is no stay-at-home order in South Dakota, Governor Noem said she did not agree with the decision to carry out the races.

“I can encourage people not to go. I don’t think it’s a good idea for them to attend,” she said during a news conference on Tuesday. “I still recommend that we follow the plans that I have laid out for South Dakota where we don’t gather in sizes of over 10 and that folks continue to social distance if they’re not feeling well to stay home and to wash their hands.”

South Dakota is one of the few states, including Iowa and North Dakota, without a stay-at-home order; nor does it have enforceable restrictions against large gatherings. The state has recorded 1,755 cases of the virus and eight Covid-related deaths

Union County, where the two venues are, has had seven positive tests for the virus, according to data collected by The New York Times.

In South Carolina, where some stores resumed business for the first time on Tuesday, people largely stayed away: the streets were mostly empty in downtown Charleston, bereft of the residents, tourists, students who typically crowd into its picturesque galleries and shops.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp’s call to let gyms and hair salons reopen Friday, and restaurants and theaters reopen Monday, drew rebukes from mayors, public health experts and some business owners, who worry about another wave of infections. The state is continuing to see new infections and deaths: the Georgia Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that the state had seen 20,740 known cases and 836 deaths.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a briefing Tuesday evening that she did not know how people could operate hair salons and tattoo parlors in Georgia while maintaining the social distancing needed to curb the spread of the virus.

“So if there’s a way that people can social distance and do those things, then they can do those things,” she said. “ I don’t know how. But people are very creative.”

Testing positive does not mean the cats have the same illness that people have, nor does it mean that the cats can pass the illness to people. And tests for pets are not the same as those for people, so no humans missed out on testing because of the cats.

Veterinarians tested both cats because they showed symptoms of a respiratory infection. One owner had tested positive for the virus. No human in the other cat’s household tested positive.

The Agriculture Department and the C.D.C. emphasized that there was “no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States.” For now, the C.D.C. recommends keeping cats indoors to prevent them from contact with other animals or people.

And for people who become sick, they recommend, as they have in the past, isolating from pets as much as possible, treating them as you would a human being in your family.

Dogs are less susceptible to infection with the virus, according to the same research paper on cats. Although there is some evidence that they may have low-level infections, they have not shown any symptoms. Nonetheless, the C.D.C. recommends keeping dogs on a six-foot leash when walking them (and to keep them away from other animals) and avoiding contact as much as possible if you are sick.

After Trump’s criticism, Harvard says it won’t accept relief money.

Harvard announced Wednesday that it would not accept $8.6 million in taxpayer money that the university was set to receive as part of an emergency relief package for higher education, whose losses have been mounting during the coronavirus pandemic.

The school’s decision came a day after President Trump criticized Harvard for receiving federal relief funds despite its large endowment, valued at $41 billion before the pandemic. “Harvard’s going to pay back the money,” he said.

Harvard said on Wednesday that there had been a lot of confusion surrounding the emergency fund, and that Harvard “did not apply for this support, nor has it requested, received or accessed these funds.” Mr. Trump had criticized the university in response to a reporter’s question about an entirely different relief fund meant for small businesses.

Harvard, which had previously said it would use all of the federal money to support students in need, opted not to take it after Mr. Trump and others, including several Republican congressmen, complained that it was unseemly for the country’s richest university to receive taxpayer money during a crisis that has left millions of Americans without jobs.

At least two other universities, Princeton and Stanford, also announced on Wednesday that they would not be taking the money allocated to them by Congress through a $14 billion federal aid package for some 5,000 American colleges, universities and trade schools.

Harvard said in a statement that it faced “significant financial challenges” because of the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

“We are also concerned, however,” it said, “that the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard in connection with this program may undermine participation in a relief effort that Congress created and the president signed into law for the purpose of helping students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months may be most severe.”

Scammers are tapping stimulus money meant for the needy.

The federal government’s stimulus checks were meant to help people exactly like Krystle Phelps of Owasso, Okla.

She and her husband, Christopher, who have two children, recently lost their incomes after Oklahoma shut down the bars near Tulsa that she cleaned and that he supplied with vending machines. But when Ms. Phelps, 33, went to the I.R.S. website to check on the status of her family’s stimulus funds, she learned someone else had filed taxes on her husband’s behalf and used his identity to obtain their $3,400 payment.

“I cried all day,” said Ms. Phelps, who is about a month away from being unable to pay her mortgage and has cut out everything but the basics, canceling cable and eliminating snacks for the kids. “It is a little relief, and then you find out it isn’t happening.”

In recent weeks, criminals have used people’s Social Security numbers, home addresses and other personal information — much of which was available online from past data breaches — to assume their identities and bilk them out of their stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. As a result, calls to Ms. Velasquez’s organization were 850 percent higher in March than a year earlier, she said, and are still soaring.

The scale of the fraud has been enormous, fueled by the economic crisis and the confusion surrounding the $2 trillion stabilization plan that President Trump unveiled last month. That has been compounded by the government’s own lack of security measures for people claiming stimulus payments, with those going through the I.R.S. website to get their checks needing to input just a few pieces of information that scammers can readily obtain.

Stocks rallied on Wednesday and oil prices reversed some of their tremendous losses as investors regrouped after two days of turmoil in financial markets.

The S&P 500 climbed more than 2 percent, and shares in Europe were also higher. The benchmark for American crude — which had been hammered out of concern that a glut in supply would soon overwhelm storage facilities — bounced back more than 20 percent.

Investors also rallied behind a handful of earnings updates that showed companies had not done as poorly in the first three months of the year as some had expected. After Snap, the owner of Snapchat, reported a surge in revenue and user growth, its shares rallied along with those of Twitter and Facebook.

Similarly, shares of some restaurant chains jumped after Chipotle Mexican Grill said on Tuesday that digital and delivery sales driven by the crisis soared. Executives at Chipotle also said the company was preparing to reopen stores, as states lift stay-at-home restrictions. Chipotle was the best performer in the S&P 500 on Wednesday, with a gain of 14 percent.

Investors had other news to consider. The Senate on Tuesday passed a bipartisan $484 billion relief package that would replenish a depleted loan program for distressed small businesses and provide funds for hospitals, states and coronavirus testing.

The gains came after the S&P 500 had fallen 3 percent on Tuesday, its sharpest decline in three weeks in a drop that had suggested a marked shift in sentiment among investors who had otherwise been buying stocks with every sign of progress in the fight against the coronavirus, effort to reopen the economy or indication that Washington would spend more to help. That optimism was briefly shattered on Monday when oil prices collapsed as energy traders panicked about disappearing demand for petroleum and the fact that there were few places left to store all the crude still being pumped.

But on Wednesday, some stability returned to the energy market, with the price of both West Texas Intermediate crude, the American benchmark. Shares of companies in the energy industry also rallied.

Tyson Foods said on Wednesday that it would close its largest pork processing facility, the latest in a string of plant closings that has put a strain on the nation’s meat supply.

The plant in Waterloo, Iowa, had been running at reduced levels in recent days because workers were staying home, the company said.

Over the last few weeks, meat plants have become major “hot spots” for the coronavirus pandemic, with some reporting widespread illnesses among workers, posing a serious challenge to meat production. Other major meatpackers like Smithfield, JBS and Hormel have also closed plants in recent days.

Tyson said it would invite the Waterloo plant’s 2,800 workers to be tested for the coronavirus at the facility later this week.

“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers,” the head of Tyson’s fresh meats division, Steve Stouffer, said in a statement.

The company had closed another meat plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, but it reopened the facility on Tuesday.

Public health officials in California are expanding testing to include some people who are asymptomatic, going beyond federal guidelines that have so far focused on testing people who were most at risk and showing symptoms.

The new guidelines in California prioritize screening and testing people who are living in communal living facilities, such as prisons and homeless shelters, as well as asymptomatic health care employees working in hospitals or nursing homes.

The expanded testing — which has already begun at a homeless shelter in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Skid Row — could offer an early glimpse of how widely the virus has infiltrated society, even among people who otherwise appear healthy. As many as 25 percent of people infected may not show symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 200 people have been tested so far at the homeless shelter, Union Rescue Mission, and at least 43 people had tested positive as of Tuesday afternoon, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the public health director in Los Angeles County. Of the 43 who tested positive, she said more than half had not been showing symptoms.

The results mirror findings of asymptomatic cases that have begun to emerge at other facilities in the United States, as officials ramp up aggressive testing.

In Ohio, where an outbreak at a prison has become the country’s largest-known source of infections, officials said that many of the people who tested positive did not appear sick. In Boston, where universal testing was conducted at a homeless shelter earlier this month, officials found that nearly everyone who tested positive had not been showing symptoms.

Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, said he was “baffled” by how many people without symptoms had tested positive at the shelter.

“The lesson for this is there is so much we don’t know, and in this particular very poor and vulnerable population,” Mr. O’Connell said. “We suspect all around the country, this is probably going to be duplicated.”

He said on Wednesday that the former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had volunteered to help with the state’s effort to test and trace the virus.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that public housing residents would be a priority at six testing sites set to open in the coming days, and that three sites opening next week would be based in public housing.

Lawmakers are making their way back to Washington ahead of an expected vote on Thursday to give final approval to a $484 billion package that would revive a loan program for distressed small businesses and provide additional aid for hospitals and testing.

The Senate approved the measure on Tuesday on a voice vote — a necessity since the chamber is on an extended recess amid the pandemic and most senators are outside of Washington. But that will not be possible in the House, where there is enough dissatisfaction in both parties about the bill that leaders have summoned lawmakers back to the Capitol for a vote. House Republicans have signaled that they would force a roll-call vote on the measure, while some of the most liberal Democrats are deeply opposed to a bill they argue provides far too little for the most urgent needs, omitting funding for struggling cities and localities.

“It is insulting to think that we can pass such a small amount of money — in the context of not knowing when Congress is even going to reconvene — pass such a small amount of money, pat ourselves on the back and leave town again,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on Monday. “I need legislation that is going to save people’s lives.”

The measure was the product of an intense round of negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration that unfolded as the small-business loan program — created by the $2.2 trillion stimulus law — quickly ran out of funding, collapsing under a glut of applications from desperate companies struggling to stay afloat.

The measure would provide $320 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing and a mandate that the Trump administration establish a national strategy to help states and localities, which are required to outline their own plans, deploy testing widely.

While in Washington to pass it, House Democratic leaders are also planning to push through a measure to create a select committee to scrutinize the Trump administration’s coronavirus response and the management of the $2.2 trillion stimulus programs. Mr. Trump has dismissed the idea as a partisan “witch hunt” and Republicans are likely to oppose the move.

Democratic leaders on Wednesday backed away from a planned move to change the rules of the House of Representatives to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely for the first time in history during the pandemic, scrapping a vote on the plan after Republicans registered sharp opposition.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday that his agency plans to pump another $40.4 billion into the health care economy to help hospitals and health care providers struggling to stay afloat amid a crush of uninsured coronavirus patients.

The money — $20 billion for health care providers; $10 billion for hospitals hard hit by the virus; $10 billion for rural hospitals and $400,000 for the Indian Health Service — comes from $100 billion that Congress already allocated to the agency and is in addition of $30 billion that has already been spent. Mr. Azar said his agency expects to receive an additional $75 billion when the next stimulus package, passed by the Senate on Tuesday, is approved by the House and signed into law by President Trump.

The roots of social distancing go back to a request from former President George W. Bush some 14 years ago in the wake of the terror attacks in 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a heightened need to prepare for future disasters, found Eric Lipton and Jennifer Steinhauer.

Inspired by a book he read about the spread of germs, Mr. Bush asked two federal government doctors to come up with a plan for the United States to respond to the next pandemic. The doctors, Richard Hatchett, a White House biodefense adviser, and Carter Mecher, a Veterans Affairs medical officer based in Georgia, took a deep dive into historical responses to contagious diseases dating back to the Middle Ages when there was not advanced medicine to treat such viruses. They were also inspired by a high school student’s research project. (The student was the daughter of a scientist at one of the country’s national laboratories).

When the doctors who presented their plan to other federal officials, they were laughed at and ridiculed. Much like today, social distancing was not a popular option because of the disruption it would cause to everyday life, especially the economy. But without a guarantee that a drug to treat the particular illness spreading around the globe would be available, keeping a safe distance from other people would have to work.

And in February of 2007, social distancing became the plan if a drug was not available. It was reaffirmed in a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide to local communities. And it went live across the country in mid-March when the coronavirus was spreading faster than medical response could handle.

Eating in a pandemic: Here’s some advice.

Whether you are cooking meals from scratch every single day, turning to your childhood comfort foods, or don’t have much of an appetite, the lockdown has probably changed your eating habits. Maybe for the better, or possibly for the worse. Here are some tips to ensure your diet is healthy and help you remember that moderation is key.

What else is happening in the world? Check it out.

Track the progress of the pandemic and stay abreast of the latest developments with our team of international correspondents.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Karen Barrow, Alan Blinder, Michael Cooper, Monica Davey, Caitlin Dickerson, Catie Edmonson, Richard Fausset, Sheri Fink, Thomas Fuller, Erica L. Green, Maggie Haberman, Amy Harmon, Anemona Hartocollis, Tiffany Hsu, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Gina Kolata, Lisa Lerer, Sarah Mervosh, Alexandra E. Petri, Nathaniel Popper, Alan Rappeport, Rick Rojas, Marc Santora, Michael D. Shear, Natasha Singer, Eileen Sullivan, Vanessa Swales, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas, Kenneth P. Vogel and Pete Wells.