The Senate continued negotiations throughout the day on a stimulus bill negotiated by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Senate Republicans. Efforts were complicated when Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans held a presser to declare that the unemployment insurance being proposed to assist laid-off workers during the crisis was too generous; after the bill’s presumed (eventual) passage, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to recess the Senate until April 20, indicating Republicans intend no further emergency actions as the pandemic unfolds.
A roundup of the day’s other major COVID-19 news:
• The seemingly near-total collapse of the Trump administration’s pandemic response continues to create chaos as states attempt to procure vital medical supplies. Three states are now asking for federal “emergency mortuary assistance”; New York City morgues are expected to reach full capacity by next week.
• Both Trump and conservatives continue to press for an early end to “social distancing” measures, citing economic costs—and attacking health experts. But ending those efforts, allowing the virus to kill as many as 30 million people, would result in a true economic collapse.
• One hard-right website’s account was temporarily locked for violating new Twitter rules against COVID-19 disinformation after it posted an article proposing Americans engage in “controlled voluntary infection” with the virus.
• The reason for social distancing measures? The United States botched, in near-totality, early virus testing and tracking efforts.
• Adding to the unnecessary chaos: Trump’s continued claims of upcoming miracle cures so far unsupported by medical study, but which he continues to pressure regulators over.
• An immigrant held in a New Jersey facility is now the first detainee to test positive for the virus. Crowded and unsanitary conditions are endangering lives in the facilities, say detainees in yet another lawsuit filed against the administration. Other detainees are mounting a hunger strike for needed soap and toilet paper.
• Two immigration courts were shut down after people in those facilities tested positive for the virus.
• Among those the administration is attempting to deport: Thousands of medical care professionals.
• Activists continue to pressure New York City to release low-level offenders from city jails as a Brooklyn public defender warned that unless action is taken to improve conditions at Rikers Island, “we’re looking at mass death.”
• Workers in nine Amazon warehouses have now tested positive for the virus.
• Pittsburgh sanitation workers went on strike today to protest a lack of masks and other needed safety equipment.
• Georgia has rescheduled its presidential primary due to the pandemic. Voting rights advocates are now calling for the state to adopt vote-by-mail for all voters.
• Policies requiring sick children to pick up free school meals in person, rather than allowing their parents do to so, are endangering those children.
• Far-right conspiracy theorists and white nationalists are using the pandemic to rebrand themselves as health experts—and sell fake supposed cures for the virus.
• Hate crimes against Asian Americans continue as Trump and the White House continue references to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” a strategy intended to shift blame for weeks of incompetent administration response and which is being mirrored in a new proposed House resolution.
• An individual in Kentucky who attended a “coronavirus party” has now tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.
• A New Jersey man has been charged with making a terroristic threat after intentionally coughing on a supermarket employee, then telling her he had the virus.
• Republican Sen. John Kennedy, an idiot, blamed Mardi Gras drinking for Louisiana’s pandemic. “People flew in from all over the world, we were in close quarters. One or two had too much to drink and lowered their immune systems, diminished their immune systems, and we got a problem.”
• Nationwide, hard-right Republican officials are using the pandemic to shutter abortion providers by claiming the medical procedure does not count as an “essential” medical service.
• “Shelter in place” doesn’t mean “quarantine.” And the virus’ spread through the nation has now largely eliminated the usefulness of large-scale quarantines as a tool for slowing it.
• Italian mayors have had enough of breezy public attitudes towards lockdown rules.
• If you are feeling unwell and wondering whether to seek testing: a list of potential COVID-19 symptoms. Even if you’re sick with something else, however, self-isolate anyway. As hospitals fill, doctors do not need outbreaks of other illnesses further reducing the number of available beds.
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