The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:
Wisconsin will use the Army National Guard to work the polls next week for the state’s presidential primary.
The state faces a severe shortage of poll workers for its April 7 election amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Tuesday that its own survey showed 111 municipalities throughout the state do not have enough workers to staff even one polling place.
The National Guard won’t be able to provide enough personnel to make up for the shortage, lawyers representing the governor wrote in a court filing Tuesday.
The state has strongly encouraged people to use mail-in ballots and has seen more than 1 million requests so far. Democrats and civil rights groups are suing the state seeking to loosen the restrictions around mail-in ballots.
Vice President Mike Pence toured a Walmart distribution center in Gordonsville, Virginia, and thanked the workers there for helping in the coronavirus response.
“Thank you for doing a great job and keeping food on the table for the American people,” the vice president said over an intercom, according to the pool report. “We’re grateful for our farmers. We’re grateful for our grocery store operators. We’re grateful for Walmart.”
Pence said he looked forward to when the country had moved past the coronavirus crisis. “Here’s to that day in the future when we put the coronavirus in the past and come back stronger than ever before,” he told the employees.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo will hold his daily briefing on the state’s coronavirus response at 12 pm ET.
During yesterday’s briefing, the governor talked about how his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, had just been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The governor said his brother “will be fine” because of his age and overall health, but he emphasized the diagnosis underscored the need to be vigilant about respecting social distancing guidelines.
Congressman Adam Schiff is calling for the creation of a commission to later review the government’s response to coronavirus.
The California Democrat, who was the lead impeachment manager during Trump’s Senate trial, said such a commission could help the country prepare for future pandemics.
“We will need to delay the work of the commission until the crisis has abated to ensure that it does not interfere with the agencies that are leading the response,” Schiff told the Washington Post.
“But that should not prevent us from beginning to identify where we got it wrong and how we can be prepared for the next pandemic.”
The White House coronavirus task force is reportedly leaning toward recommending more widespread use of face masks.
Most members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force have come to agree that Americans should begin wearing face coverings in public and could issue formal guidance on the matter soon, people familiar with the matter said. …
Previously, some members of the task force — including Dr. Deborah Birx — cautioned in meetings against recommending Americans wear masks because of a fear it could lull them into a false sense of protection and prevent them from socially distancing.
But new insights into asymptomatic spread of the virus have led to a reconsideration of the guidance.
Trump said during the daily White House press conference yesterday, “My feeling is, if people want to do it, there’s certainly no harm to it. I would say do it. … But use a scarf if you want, you know? Rather than going out and getting a mask or whatever.”
Dr Anthony Fauci similarly said yesterday that the guidance on masks might be reconsidered as long as medical professionals still have priority in getting the equipment.
Alexandra Villareal in New York reports for the Guardian:
Deaths from coronavirus have exceeded 1,000 in New York City, while officials continue to warn that the worst is yet to come.
The city’s Health Department reported late Tuesday that at least 1,096 people have died of the virus in the city. There had been almost 42,000 confirmed cases as of Tuesday evening, an increase of more than 1,000 over the previous day. Statewide, there were more than 75,000 people who have tested positive for the disease, and more than 1500 people have died.
Here are the other major developments in New York:
- New York governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday again warned residents that this crisis won’t be over any time soon, and is expected to give further updates later today.
- One thousand nurses have been added to the city’s hospital system, with more to come in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deployed 250 more ambulances to New York City to deal with a record number of 911 calls.
- Another iconic New York City landmark is being converted into a temporary hospital to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home to the US Open, will relieve some of the pressure on one of the state’s hardest hit hospitals, Elmhurst in Queens. It’s expected to open next week to treat Covid-19 patients who aren’t in need of intensive care. The facility is projected to hold 350 patients.
Maryland now has nearly 2,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to state officials.
The state is reporting 1,985 cases as of this morning, marking an increase of 325 since yesterday. Maryland has lost 31 residents to the pandemic.
Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced Monday that he was issuing a statewide “stay at home” order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Hogan warned the number of cases in the Washington metropolitan area had more than quadrupled over the previous week, predicting the region would be part of the “next wave of hot spots.”
In spite of efforts to obtain more personal protective equipment for frontline health workers, many are still reporting anxiety-inducing shortages.
In just the latest example, an anonymous doctor posted a picture of a Yankees rain poncho she was given as personal protective equipment.
“Coming to work is stressful,” said Jeffrey Yao, a nurse at Jacobi Medical Center’s emergency department. Yao spoke at a protest staged in front of the Bronx hospital on Sunday. “You come into work thinking ‘Are they going to have supplies for me today?’… I go home to my two kids and I’m wondering if I’m going to get them sick.”
Global shortages have driven up the prices of N95 masks – some officials are reporting 10-fold. Hospitals and workers have been forced to rely on donations, GoFundMe campaigns, and some have even considered black market suppliers.
Joe Biden released a video comparing his words about the coronavirus pandemic to Trump’s.
The video opens with footage of Trump’s clash with NBC News reporter Peter Alexander during a White House press conference nearly two weeks ago.
Asked what he wanted to say to Americans who are feeling scared right now, Trump told Alexander, “I say that you are a terrible reporter.”
The president went on to accuse the veteran reporter of “sensationalism.” “I think it’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people,” Trump said. “The American people are looking for answers, and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism.”
Biden’s video contrasts Trump’s exchange with the Democratic frontrunner’s words from the last debate.
“This is bigger than any one of us,” Biden said at the debate. “This calls for a national rallying to everybody move together.”
Surgeon general describes CDC guidelines as ‘national stay at home order’
The surgeon general was asked this morning about governors, like Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who have not yet issued statewide “stay at home” orders.
DeSantis has issued a “stay at home” order for South Florida, but he has expressed concerns about how a statewide order would affect the economy.
DeSantis has also noted that the federal government has not explicitly told governors to issue statewide orders.
Asked about DeSantis’ stance, surgeon general Jerome Adams referenced the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and said, “My advice to America would be that these guidelines are a national stay at home order.”
Trump’s criticism of New York and New Jersey for their responses to coronavirus has already sparked pushback.
The president said yesterday that the two states, which have been hit hardest by the virus, “got off to a very late start” with their responses to the pandemic.
However, the communications director for New York governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet that it was the federal government, not the states, that fumbled its early response:
In case you missed it: Trump said yesterday that Americans should brace for a “very, very painful two weeks.”
During the daily White House press conference on the coronavirus response, officials said the pandemic could claim up to 240,000 American lives, even if social distancing is maintained.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks. This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, emphasized the staggering projection underscored the need to respect social distancing guidelines.
“We’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working,” Fauci said. “Now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator and on the brake, but to just press it down on the accelerator. And that’s what I hope and I know that we can do over the next 30 days.”
Biden acknowledges likelihood of virtual convention
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden acknowledged last night that the party will likely have to hold a virutal nominating convention to avoid spreading coronavirus.
“It’s hard to envision that,” Biden told MSNBC when asked about the likelihood an in-person convention, which was scheduled for to begin July 13.
“We ought to be able — we were able to do it in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II — have Democratic and Republican conventions and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we’re able to do both,” Biden said. “But the fact is it may have to be different.”
The aknowledge marks a shift in tone for Biden, who said just last week that he did not believe the convention should be canceled because of the pandemic.
The Democratic National Committee has said officials are establishing contingency plans for the convention, but it has not yet been called off.
Surgeon general says CDC looking at mask guidance
Good morning, live blog readers!
The White House is reconsidering its previous guidance against widespread usage of face masks as the country’s coronavirus death toll continues to rise.
Surgeon general Jerome Adams told ABC News this morning. “We’ve learned there’s a fair amount of asymptomatic spread, and so we’ve asked the CDC to take another look at whether or not having more people wear masks will prevent transmission of the disease to other people.”
A little over a month ago, Adams was urging Americans to stop buying masks, warning the hoarding was putting medical professionals at risk.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, similarly said yesterday that it’s possible health officials will recommend more widespread mask usage if they can be assured it won’t cause supply issues for medical professionals.
The conversations indicate America may soon follow in the footsteps of countries like China and Italy, where mask usage was mandated as they fought the virus.