Donald Trump says the US is the ‘king of ventilators’

Donald Trump has started his afternoon by declaring the US “the king of ventilators”. Several state governors have said they need more help from the federal government with Covid-19 testing in an effort to curb the pandemic. However, the president think he’s on the right course, while implying the onus was on governors rather than the federal government to ramp up testing.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

Just like I was right on Ventilators (our Country is now the “King of Ventilators”, other countries are calling asking for help-we will!), I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you ALL THE WAY!

April 19, 2020

“Just like I was right on Ventilators (our Country is now the “King of Ventilators”, other countries are calling asking for help-we will!), I am right on testing,” the president tweeted. “Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you ALL THE WAY!”

On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, said the FDA had not paid enough attention to companies “putting a slightly different formula together” for tests. “I could probably double, maybe even triple testing in Ohio virtually overnight” if the FDA considered such options, DeWine said.

Updated

The Miami Herald has reported on a problem facing one public hospital: agencies trying to headhunt staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. From the Herald’s report:


Staffing agencies have mounted attempts to poach the public hospital’s most crucial workers, even as the novel coronavirus upends operations and mashes its bottom line, with estimated losses of $25 million per month going forward under the status quo.

Plantada, who helps manage ventilators for critically ill COVID-19 patients, said the offers — as high as $7,000 per week plus room and board — are both aggressive and enticing. But she has no plans for leaving.

“We want to support our community,” Plantada said. “Most of the therapists down here, that is our priority: sticking by and being here for everybody else.”

You can read the full report here.

The Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who one NBA executive once described as “too smart” for the league or “his own good” is one of the most interesting athletes in the US (and not too bad a player either). He’s never been shy of criticizing the current administration either and has written an op-ed for the Guardian on the Covid-19 outbreak. He’ll also be on CNN tonight at 7.45pm ET to discuss the topic with Wolf Blitzer. Here’s an extract from his column today:


America’s lack of medical resources is barefaced, and the number of unemployment claims is at an all-time high. I understand the urge to protect your closest loved ones. However, if you have the means, I urge you to extend a hand to a neighbor or friend who may be less fortunate. As I write this more than 30,000 people have lost their lives in the US alone. Of those heart-wrenching numbers, the percentage of African Americans and people of color is both alarming and disproportionate.

You can read the full article below:

Updated

With Joe Biden effectively confirmed as the Democrats’ candidate for this year’s presidential election, the results of Wyoming’s Democratic presidential caucus don’t matter too much. Especially when Wyoming has the smallest population of any US state and only 21.6% of the state voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. But, nevertheless Biden won the state’s Democratic presidential caucus on Sunday. Here’s more from the Associated Press:


Joe Biden has won Wyoming’s Democratic presidential caucus, which had been postponed for two weeks and scaled back to just mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic, state party officials said on Sunday.

The results come less than two weeks after Sanders dropped out and endorsed Biden, who is the only candidate still actively seeking the Democratic nomination. Voting began when it was still a two-candidate race. Biden beat Sanders 72% to 28%. A total of 15,428 votes were cast.

The Wyoming Democratic Party announced the results after tabulating votes Saturday and auditing the results overnight.

What was originally to be a combination of in-person caucusing, drop-off and mail-in vote tabulation on April 4 was scaled back to just drop-off and mail-in and finally just mail-in voting.

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Thousands of protesters gathered at the Michigan state capitol last week in response to what they viewed as an overly strict stay at home order by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Some protesters chanted “Lock her up” and demonstrations also took place in Ohio, Maryland and Texas.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has extended the stay at home order until 30 April and defended her policy on Sunday, saying it was helping save lives. As of Sunday morning, more than 2,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Michigan, the third highest number of deaths for any state in the US. Michigan ranks 10th among US state’s by population.

“You know my stay-home order is one of the nation’s more conservative, but the fact of the matter is, it’s working. We are seeing the curve start to flatten. And that means we’re saving lives,” Whitmer told CNN on Sunday. “Who among us wouldn’t rather forgo jet skiing or boating right now if it’s going to save your grandparent or your neighbor’s life and that’s precisely what the tradeoff is at the moment.”

Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, sounded a note of cautious optimism during a press briefing on Sunday. His state has been one of the worst affected by Covid-19 with only four other states recording more deaths from the virus.

“We’re in much, much better place today than we thought we were going to be,” Edwards said. He added that Louisiana has recorded a drop in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital and fewer people are using ventilators.

There were 29 deaths in the state from Coronavirus announced on Sunday. “Now the number of cases and the number of deaths are lower than they have been for the last number of days, that’s a good thing, but I would caution everybody that typically on Sunday the numbers go down,” Edwards said. “It’s just a function of when the labs report and so forth, so what we would like to see is a continued downward trajectory tomorrow and Tuesday and on through the week.”

He also warned that life will not return to normal until a vaccine is released for Covid-19. Most experts believe a vaccine is at least a year away. “As always, I want to remind everyone that it’s going to take all of us working together and for some period of time to defeat this virus, get back to life as normal,” Edwards said. “We’re not going to see that for a while and I suspect we won’t fully see it until after there’s a vaccine that’s administered to the entire population.”

Australia’s former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has released a memoir and the Guardian has published extracts detailing his relationship with Donald Trump, who he describes as a “bully”. Turnbull was in power from 2015 to 2018 and is perhaps most famous in the US for a clash he had with Trump over an agreement, signed off by Barack Obama, for the States to take in refugees originally heading for Australia. He then details what happened when Trump pushed back:


Trump is a natural isolationist. Whether it was east Asia or the Middle East, Trump’s perspective was thoroughly dystopian. Everyone hated each other, had done for centuries and wasn’t going to change. So the less the US had to do with them the better.

After we’d had our one-on-one discussion and the media had left us, Donald suggested we ask [Turnbull’s wife] Lucy and Melania to join us. Melania was found first and Donald described the refugee deal. By now he knew, just as I had told him, there were no security risks among the refugees.

“Melania, do you know, Malcolm has 2,000 of the worst terrorists in the world locked up on a desert island and that fool Obama agreed to take them. Can you believe that? And now Malcolm has talked me into taking them too! He got me to do something I promised never to do! He is a tough negotiator!”

Melania smiled, faintly and mischievously. “Just like you, Donald,” she said.

The subject of an incandescent row a few months before was now something to make light of. It was just another deal.

You can read a more detailed extract here:

Updated

“The president is right when he gets up there and says the models had many more people dying,” Cuomo says of the statewide efforts that kept infections and deaths far below the CDC’s mid-March estimates of twice the nation’s hospital capacity. “This is a great success story … [but] don’t go backwards.”

Cuomo is then asked about President Trump’s tweet from moments ago:

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

Just like I was right on Ventilators (our Country is now the “King of Ventilators”, other countries are calling asking for help-we will!), I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you ALL THE WAY!

April 19, 2020

“Great,” Cuomo says, taking a slightly more diplomatic tack than on Friday when he responded to a different Trump tweet with a scathing 16-minute rebuke. “States must do their part and the federal government must do its part. Perfect. That’s what’s called partnership.”

Cuomo announces a plan for an “aggressive” statewide antibody testing program, saying they will be able to sample thousands of people in the coming weeks and promising the data will provide “the first true snapshot of what we’re truly dealing with”.

“That will tell us for the first time, what percent of the population has actually had the coronavirus,” he says. “Any plan that is going to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data, which means it has to be based on testing.”

The state’s Department of Health will run the testing, but Cuomo stressed that cooperation with the federal government will be essential to helping with the supply chain and coordinating with private labs.

Updated

Cuomo: ‘If the data holds, we are past the high point’

New York governor Andrew Cuomo says the total number of Covid-19 hospitalizations is down to 16,213, marking the sixth consecutive day that number has dropped.

“If the data holds, we are past the high point and all indications,” Cuomo says during his daily coronavirus briefing from Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research on Long Island. “At this point we are on a descent. Whether or not that descent continues depends on what we do.”

Other key metrics including the three-day average of the hospitalization rate, ICU admissions and number of intubations are all down, the governor says.

Another 507 people died of coronavirus across the state yesterday – the lowest that figure has been in several days – bringing the overall death toll to 13,869.

“It’s no time to get cocky and it’s no time to get arrogant,” Cuomo says. “We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. This virus has been ahead of us every step of the way. We have been playing catch-up from day one in this situation, so it is no time to relax.”

Updated

Vice president Mike Pence claimed the US has “sufficient capacity” for testing for any state to go to phase one level of reopening in an NBC interview aired on Sunday morning.

State governors have said a shortage of testing, and a lack of help from the federal government to ramp up testing, are among the most significant hurdles in easing stay-at-home restrictions.

Researchers at Harvard University have suggested the US cannot safely reopen unless it conducts more than three times the number of coronavirus tests it is currently administering over the course of the next month, the New York Times reported this weekend.

Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, insisted testing had been a focus of the administration “from the very beginning” and walked away from Donald Trump’s claim last week that executive branch authority alone would determine when social-distancing guidelines could be lifted and businesses reopened.

“Just so we’re very clear, when the president outlined his guidelines for opening up America, we laid out a plan for both – for when and how we thought it was best according to our best scientists and advisors for states to be able to responsibly and safely reopen,” Pence said.

Downplaying reports of rifts between federal and state approaches to curbing the pandemic, Pence said that “at the president’s direction, we’ll continue to play our role” and would maintain “a full partnership with governors around the country”.

Pence disputed claims that the federal government, which is currently conducting 150,000 tests a day, had acceded responsibility for testing to individual states. This was, he said, “the reason why the president early on brought in this vast array of commercial labs that took us from 80,000 tests one month ago to now four million tests as of yesterday.”

Several state governors have claimed that Washington has rejected calls to co-ordinate testing at a national level.

“Admiral Brett Giroir of the US Public Health Service spends all of his time coordinating testing deployment and resources deployment from FEMA,” Pence added. “I want the American people to know … we will continue to do that.”

The vice president said that the White House planned to “make clear” to governors in a conference call on Monday that “if states around the country will activate all of the laboratories that are available in their states, we could more than double that overnight and literally be doing hundreds of thousands of more tests per day.”

Pence continued: “There is a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America to go to a phase one level, which contemplates testing people that have symptoms of the coronavirus and also doing the kind of monitoring of vulnerable populations in our cities, in our nursing homes, that we ought to be watching very carefully for outbreaks of the coronavirus.”

On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx gently endorsed President Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization by saying the first country struck by a pandemic has a “higher moral obligation” for communication and transparency.

“It’s always the first country that get exposed to the pandemic that has a – really a higher moral obligation on communicating, on transparency, because all the other countries around the world are making decisions on that,” Birx said, when asked if it was “fair to blame the WHO for covering up the spread of this virus”.

She added: “And when we get through this as a global community, we can figure out really what has to happen for first alerts and transparency and understanding very early on about … how incredibly contagious this virus is.”

This Week
(@ThisWeekABC)

Pressed on whether Trump halting funding to WHO over COVID-19 response is “fair,” Dr. Deborah Birx tells @GStephanopoulos first country with infection has “higher moral obligation” to communicate: “That’s something we can look into after this is over.” https://t.co/PYRdRpKqJS pic.twitter.com/kweOXOCQhB

April 19, 2020

Trump announced the decision to halt funding to WHO on Tuesday pending an investigation into its response to the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the group of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the virus”.

Birx appeared to corroborate Trump’s timeline on Sunday, saying: “It wasn’t until the beginning of March that we could all fully see how contagious.”

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