It’s Going to Get Bad, Really Bad
Not all news is good news, and in the case of the Coronavirus outlook in America, officials are saying that as many as 100k Americans could die this year as a result of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
Social-Distancing guidelines are expected to change…READ MORE
Oh, it’s still all about politics, and puppies… READ MORE
“Trump: Pelosi is a ‘Sick Puppy’ Over Coronavirus Criticism” by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama – President Trump dubbed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a “sick puppy” and called her statement a “disgrace to her country,” after she criticized his response to the COVID-19 outbreak at the weekend. “It’s a sad thing, [Pelosi] is a sick puppy in my opinion, she really is,” Trump said in a phone interview with ‘Fox & Friends’ Monday morning. “She’s got a lot of problems, and that’s a horrible thing to say. I stopped some very, very infected, very, very sick people, thousands coming in from China, long earlier than anybody thought, including the experts, nobody thought we should do it, except me and I stopped everybody.” “For her to make a statement like that, I thought it was a disgrace. I think it’s a disgrace to her country, her family.” Trump also discussed San Francisco, the the district Pelosi represents where he said the area “has become like a slum,” and the House Speaker “should focus on that” before the federal government might “take over” and intervene. “There’s something wrong with the woman because she knows what we’ve done and then you look at San Francisco, how her area that she’s in charge of has become, from being one of the best in the whole country, has become a slum,” Trump said. “Of course she lives in a beautiful house over the ocean, but her area that she’s in charge of has become from being one of the best in the whole country, it’s become a slum and they don’t do anything about it. They leave it there.”
“Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines Until April 30” by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama – President Trump announced Sunday that he is extending social distancing guidelines for another 30 days until April 30. “The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” Trump said at the Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House Sunday afternoon. “The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks, so I will say it again, the peak, highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks. Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.” “We will be extending our guidelines to April 30, to slow the spread. During this period, it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines. Have to follow the guidelines. On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people,” Trump added. The 15-day federal guidelines branded “15 Days to Slow the Spread” was released two weeks ago and were set to expire this Monday. It advises all Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 and urges older people to stay at home.
“Federal Judge Blocks Texas Ban on Abortions During Outbreak” by Courthouse News Service’s David Lee – A federal judge on Monday blocked Texas’ temporary halt of abortions to conserve personal protective equipment and hospital beds for the Covid-19 pandemic patient surge, calling it a violation of abortion patients’ due process rights. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin, a George W. Bush appointee, granted Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas’ request for a temporary restraining order against Governor Greg Abbott’s March 21 executive order, concluding abortion patients would “suffer serious and irreparable harm” without it. “The attorney general’s interpretation of the executive order prevents Texas women from exercising what the Supreme Court has declared is their fundamental constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable,” the nine-page order states. Abbott’s order bans “routine dermatological, ophthalmological, and dental procedures, as well as most scheduled healthcare procedures that are not immediately medically necessary such as orthopedic surgeries or any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
“Texas shale producers ask state to cut oil output as demand plummets during coronavirus pandemic” by Houston Chronicle’s Mitchell Ferman – Two Texas oil companies with large footprints in the West Texas oil patch sent a letter on Monday to state regulators formally requesting an emergency meeting to consider reducing oil production, as demand for oil around the world has collapsed during the new coronavirus pandemic. The presidents of Pioneer Natural Resources, based in Irving, and Parsley Energy, based in Austin, urged the Texas Railroad Commission — the state’s oil and gas regulatory body — to hold a virtual meeting no later than April 13, “for the purposes of determining the reasonable market demand for oil, whether wasteful production either is occurring or is reasonably imminent, and, if so, the necessary and appropriate proration order to prevent such waste,” the letter read. Scott D. Sheffield, president of Pioneer Natural Resources, and Matt Gallagher, president of Parsley Energy, said a move to limit oil production in Texas “would be a responsible measure in the public interest.” Also copied to receive the letter were Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
“Texas begins patrols near Louisiana, but enforcement unclear” by Associated Press – Texas extending a mandatory self-quarantine to drivers crossing over from neighboring Louisiana, one of the hot spots in the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., began Monday with few clear signs of how the order was being enforced as traffic moved freely across state lines. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order Sunday ratcheted up attempts to isolate travelers coming from areas of the country where coronavirus cases are rising fastest. Abbott said Texas state troopers would increase patrols near the Louisiana border and require drivers who are stopped to fill out forms indicating where they would isolate. But how troopers would conduct those patrols was unclear on the first day the order went into effect. The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement it would not disclose details about enforcement, adding there would be no checkpoint on the Louisiana border at this time. It did not immediately respond to requests about how many drivers had been stopped Monday. Two Associated Press journalists observed troopers stationed near the state line along Interstate 10 but not pulling over drivers. Among those who crossed over was Anthony Ainesworth of New York City, who said he drove to Texas because the virus crisis in the Big Apple was becoming too much for him.
“Oil pipeline, producer standoff prompts new call for Texas shale curbs” by Reuters’ Jennifer Hiller – As a weekend standoff over oil shipments emerged between Texas pipeline operators and shale producers, a state energy regulator has renewed his controversial call for mandated cuts to address a growing crude glut. Oil prices have fallen more than 60% this year as the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed fuel demand and Saudi Arabia and Russia kicked off a price war in a battle for market share. Oil in Midland, Texas, home of the biggest U.S. shale field, traded on Monday for under $10 a barrel, far below the cost of production. “Large-scale production interruptions appear inevitable and imminent,” executives from Pioneer Natural Resources and Parsley Energy wrote in a joint letter to the state’s energy regulatory commission on Monday. In the latest sign of a growing oil glut in the state, crude oil purchasers across Texas have warned producers that storage will be limited in May and output must be cut, they said. In at least one case, a shale pipeline operator told customers it planned to renegotiate its contracts. Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s energy regulator, is set to meet on April 21, but Parsley and Pioneer have asked it to meet sooner and curtail production as early as May.
“Older inmates sue Texas prison system over coronavirus policies and practices” by Texas Tribune’s Jolie Mccullough – Two older Texas inmates are suing the state’s prison system for its handling of the new coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit, filed Monday, argues the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is failing to protect prisoners at the Pack Unit, a geriatric prison near College Station, from the potentially fatal virus. Some of the attorneys representing the inmates are the same ones who sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for stifling temperatures at the same prison. “Despite the ticking time bomb that COVID-19 represents, TDCJ has failed to implement necessary or even adequate policies and practices at the Pack Unit,” said the complaint, filed in Texas’ Southern District federal court. “… In practice the situation is even worse, as TDCJ has failed to implement many of its own policies.” COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, has killed tens of thousands of people worldwide, including at least 38 in Texas as of Sunday night. The effect it could have on prisons and jails — often incubators for disease due to unsanitary and crowded conditions — has caused prison reform advocates and local governments to push for the release of more inmates from behind bars. Some law enforcement groups, and Gov. Greg Abbott, have opposed the move, arguing it endangers public safety.
“Texas attorney general sues auction company for price gouging” by Kxan’s Billy Gates – Billy Gates – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Thursday against an auction company for price gouging medical masks. Auctions Unlimited LLC listed on its website an auction of “over 750,000 face masks,” along with N95 particulate respirators, hand soap, all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant wipes. Bidding for N95 respirator masks climbed as high as $180 for a package of 16 masks, and Auctions Unlimited LLC owner Tim Worstell admitted to receiving warnings from local police and the Texas attorney general’s office, but went ahead with the auction anyway, Paxton said. “The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act expressly prohibits anyone from selling necessary items at an excessive price when a disaster is declared and, despite repeated warnings from law enforcement, that is exactly what we’ve seen Auctions Unlimited do,” Paxton said.
“Biden facing enthusiasm gap even as polls show him topping Trump” by Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser – As the race for the White House transitions from a primary battle between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to a likely general election showdown between Biden and President Trump, two new national polls show the former vice president holding the early edge over the GOP incumbent. But in a potentially troubling sign for Biden, one of the two surveys points to a large enthusiasm gap that favors Trump. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 53 percent of Trump supporters say they’re “very enthusiastic” about supporting the president, but only 24 percent of those backing Biden say the same about supporting the former vice president. In another stat that speaks to a lingering divide in the party, 15 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents who back Vermont Sen. Sanders even say they’d support Trump over Biden in the general election. Overall, Biden holds a slight 49-47 percent edge over the president among registered voters. But the 2-point advantage is well within the margin of error of the survey, which was conducted March 22-25.
“The US is swiftly removing migrant children due to new coronavirus restrictions” by CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez – The United States is returning some unaccompanied migrant children arrested on the US-Mexico border to their home countries under new coronavirus guidelines, a move the Trump administration has up until now been unable to do. Earlier this month, at the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security began suspending entry of all migrants “seeking to enter the US without proper travel documentation” for both the northern and southern border. Migrant children arrested by Border Patrol without a parent or guardian were initially exempt. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within DHS, said in a statement Monday, however, that minors could be included, meaning children who arrive alone at the border could be sent to their origin country instead of turned over to the Health and Human Services Department, which is typically charged with their care.
“Energy Crisis Intensifies as Oil Tumbles to 18-Year Low” by WSJ’s Amrith Ramkumar and David Hodari – The oil crash deepened on Monday, sending prices to an 18-year low in a stark demonstration of how the coronavirus is crippling fuel demand and leaving consumers unable to take advantage at the pump. U.S. crude-oil futures slumped 6.6% to $20.09 a barrel, ending the day at their lowest level since February 2002. The drop brings their slide for the year to 67%, or $41. Oil enters the final trading day of March on pace for its biggest percentage drops on record for any month or quarter, according to according to a Dow Jones Market Data analysis of figures going back to 1983. The latest declines came after President Trump said he was extending his administration’s social-distancing guidelines to fight the coronavirus for another 30 days through the end of April, causing industry analysts to further lower their expectations for fuel consumption. The pandemic has halted economic activity and global travel, resulting in a historic drop in oil demand. Typically when fuel prices plummet, consumers drive more, helping the energy sector recover. That process can’t occur due to the restrictions on travel and movement in place around the world to fight the virus, leaving traders to project a massive surplus of oil and even lower prices ahead.
“Congress eyes avoiding Washington for at least a month” by Politico’s Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan – After passing the largest economic relief bill in history, Congress is now considering staying away from Washington for a month or more as the coronavirus makes even the routine act of legislating a dangerous risk for new transmissions. Officially, Congress is scheduled to come back on April 20 as lawmakers try to avoid traveling and congregating amid the raging crisis and as they plot a potential fourth phase of economic relief. Unofficially, it could take even longer for Congress to physically come back into session. And longer still for things to return to anywhere near normal on Capitol Hill, where members of both chambers, staffers and U.S. Capitol Police officers have now tested positive for the deadly respiratory virus. President Donald Trump on Sunday embraced extending his administration’s social distancing guidance until April 30, an edict that now clashes with the Senate and House schedules to return on April 20. Those schedules are tentative, according to aides in both parties, and are almost certain to be pushed back unless there’s must-pass legislation that forces Congress’ hand.
“Stocks jump building on best week since 1938” by Fox Business’s Jonathan Garber – U.S. equity markets locked in gains Monday as traders digested the news that social-distancing guidelines were extended until at least April 30 and as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated details on how small businesses can obtain loans quickly in an interview on FOX Business. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 690 points or 3 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 3.3 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Last week, the Dow added 13 percent, making for its best week since 1938. The markets also absorbed news of worker furloughs in the retail sector. Macy’s plans to furlough the majority of its 130,000 employees and while The Container Store said it has furloughed some corporate staff. Shares of both companies fell on the news. Airlines slid as they awaited the release of tens of billions of dollars of aid from the federal government. Additionally, cruise operators remained under pressure after receiving a downgrade from Berenberg Research. General Motors was in focus after President Trump praised the automaker, saying it was doing a “fantastic job” ramping up ventilator production.
“House Democrats eye ambitious fourth coronavirus bill” by CNN’s Haley Byrd – House Democratic leaders laid out their priorities for an ambitious fourth coronavirus response package on Monday, saying they hope to pass bipartisan legislation with more direct payments for individuals, money for state and local governments, and funding for infrastructure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said members will be working together to craft the legislation as they remain in their districts for much of April, hoping to vote on the bill when the House returns. Exactly when House members will come back to the Capitol remains in flux, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Monday in a notice to lawmakers that no votes are expected before April 20. “We’re not coming back for a few weeks, but I do think we can be working on our committee work in the meantime,” Pelosi said during a phone call with reporters Monday. “I think it is really important that as soon as we are here, we are ready to pass legislation.” She said she does not expect to have the legislation finalized before the House returns. The effort to draft new legislation comes after Congress approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package last week — standing as the largest emergency aid measure in American history. Before that, lawmakers passed two other coronavirus response bills.
“U.S. Prepares for Prolonged Shutdowns as Coronavirus Strains Hospitals” by WSJ’s Jennifer Calfas, Chong Koh Ping and Ann M. Simmons – A U.S. Navy ship outfitted with 1,000 hospital beds pulled into New York Harbor. Tents sprung up in New York City’s Central Park. The Javits Center, a 1.8 million-square-foot convention center in Manhattan, opened its doors as a makeshift hospital. They are part of a striking new reality in New York City and across America, as state and federal leaders take steps unprecedented in modern times to fight the global coronavirus pandemic that has infected nearly 160,000 Americans and more than 775,000 people globally. With nearly half of states now reporting more than 1,000 confirmed infections, governors and mayors across the U.S. are working to secure more medical supplies, adding restrictions and asking the federal government for better coordination. In New York—the site of the worst outbreak in the country, with more than 66,000 confirmed cases—officials expanded hospital capacity in unconventional ways in the days before the pandemic is expected to reach its peak in the state. “We believe that we’re dealing with this pandemic at a level, intensity and density that no one has seen before,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said inside the Javits Center on Monday. “And hopefully we’ll learn lessons here that we can then share with people across this nation.”
“Trump shows off new rapid coronavirus test kit in Rose Garden, as HHS says 1 million Americans tested” by Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly – President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] announced Monday that the United States has tested over 1 million people for the coronavirus, as the president unveiled a new rapid test kit for the contagion aimed at providing results within five minutes. Speaking from the White House’s Rose Garden, Trump said that reaching 1 million tests is “a milestone in our war against the coronavirus.” Trump’s announcement on the new rapid test kit from Abbott Laboratories comes just days after the company said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had given them emergency clearance to produce its cartridge-based test. The company says that its test delivers a negative result in 13 minutes when the virus is not detected. Also during the press conference, Trump also announced that Ford is repurposing an auto parts factory west of Detroit to start building simple ventilators to treat coronavirus patients. The automaker says that starting the week of April 20, it expects to produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days. The plant in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, would have the ability to build 30,000 per month after that. Ford also is working with GE Healthcare to double production of a more sophisticated ventilator at a factory in Madison, Wisconsin.
“Spring cases in limbo without Supreme Court guidance on arguments during pandemic” by CNN’s Joan Biskupic – The Supreme Court has yet to announce alternatives for regular oral arguments in pending cases, even as President Donald Trump has declared the national distancing guidelines should continue through April. The justices issued an order on Monday in an April case, as if the month’s schedule had not changed amid the death and turmoil of Covid-19. The Court allocated the argument time among various parties in a still-slated April 21 dispute from Oklahoma. That ambiguous order and lack of public notice about how the nine justices may modify their practices for spring cases has only added to the swirl of uncertainty in difficult times. The reluctance to offer alternatives — or provide clarity about possible postponements — reinforces the secrecy around what is already one of the most insular and mysterious institutions of government. Earlier in March as social distancing measures began and government offices closed, the justices indefinitely postponed a slate of 11 cases that were to be heard this month. But the justices offered no suggestion of how those March disputes would eventually be aired or resolved. And now, nine April cases, scheduled to begin on the 20th of the month and run for two weeks, are similarly in limbo. Oral arguments are important to the justices’ consideration of disputes, but, as demonstrated by a handful of actions each term, not crucial to decisions.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump –
“New York Governor Cuomo says President Trump has been “very helpful.” @foxandfriends
Thank you, everybody is working very hard!
Joe Biden @JoeBiden – Our health care workers are putting their lives on the line every day, and our president is accusing them of stealing lifesaving supplies. It’s time for Donald Trump to do his job, so our heroes are able to do theirs. Lives are at stake.