Yet it is impossible to reconcile the messages being blasted to the country on competing platforms by President Donald Trump, on the one hand, and by the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, on the other.
Optimism – Trump continues to spin optimism from the White House briefing room. He promised 100,000 ventilators in 100 days, and claimed he had badgered GM into starting production by threatening to use the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to force the carmaker to repurpose its factories. He said (incorrectly) that the US has tested more than anyone.
He praised Americans for being neighborly and said he was exempting himself and his handlers from orders to stay home and avoid unnecessary social contact in order to see off the Navy ship Comfort bound to sail for New York from Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday. (Like military ships being deployed elsewhere in the US, this one will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients.)
Worth a read: CNN’s Tara Subramaniam and Daniel Dale fact-checked Trump’s Friday podium performance.
Objectivity – Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, continues to preach realism and restraint, and he’s finding new places to do it. On CNN. In an Instagram story with NBA star Steph Curry. (Flashback: Trump disinvited Curry from the White House a couple of years ago after Curry criticized the President’s attacks on black athletes who were kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police violence.)
Anyway. Fauci said the curbs on social interaction are not an overreaction and there’s no specific date when Americans can gather in large crowds – at NBA games, say. Watch here.
Trump says: At least some of the country should get back to normal by Easter. Aides are drawing up options for him regarding the social-distancing guidelines he put in place almost two weeks ago, which expire early next week. CNN’s Kevin Liptak has more on that.
Fauci says: Fauci told Curry the country can start to get back to normal when the number of infections begins to fall. And there’s no specific date for that.
Former President Barack Obama, by the way, commented on Fauci’s talk with Curry and told Americans to “follow the science.”
But Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview Thursday night that parts of the country could soon be back up and running. “It’s a very bad situation, we haven’t seen anything like it, but the end result is we got to get back to work, and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country, you know, the farm belt, certain parts of the Midwest, other places,” he said.
What he says vs. what he does – In a global town hall on CNN, Fauci said Trump is trying to give people hope with his Easter aspirations, but the doctor promised that the President would ultimately listen to his scientists.
“He’s listening to us when we say we really got to reevaluate it, in real time, and any decision we make has to be based on the data,” Fauci said.
Hospitals plan for emergency – In Michigan, a hospital wrote in an internal letter explaining its emergency response plan that doctors might have to make difficult decisions about who to treat – and there might not be enough ventilators if there’s a huge spike in cases there. Read more.
Trump doesn’t believe them – The President disputed during his interview with Hannity that states and hospitals actually need what they say.
“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’ ”
Frustrated by Michigan’s governor, a “young” “woman” – He also dismissed the pleas of Michigan;s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who he referred to as “the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about, from Michigan.”
“All she does is sit there and blame the federal government,” he complained.
Whitmer, who has asked Trump for a disaster declaration for her state, shot back at him on Twitter: “You said you stand with Michigan – prove it.”
Other governors who have emerged as leading voices on this:
House passes stimulus, Trump signs it
The House gave final congressional approval to the $2 trillion-plus stimulus package. It includes direct payments to most Americans. Use CNN’s calculator to see how much you might get.
Not everyone will get a stimulus check – Millions of undocumented immigrants won’t get anything, even though they may pay taxes.
Trump signed the bill without any Democrats present – And that’s fine! But it’s interesting that in a time when the lawmakers can come together on something so large, they can’t even be in the same room. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was there and so was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Nobody was anything close to 6 feet apart. Look. But these are nitpicks. The point is that the government, Republicans and Democrats, came together to pass a $2 trillion stimulus.
Watch: Debate over the bill got chaotic – A Michigan lawmaker, Rep. Haley Stevens, showed up wearing surgical gloves on the House floor and was ruled out of order when she refused to yield.
Lawmakers had rushed back to town overnight after a single member objected to passing the measure by unanimous consent.
The obstructionist – It was Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, who made everyone come back in. His colleagues were not happy.
His advice to lawmakers: ‘Hitch a ride’ – “If congressmen are complaining that it’s hard to travel, well, what about the truckers that I saw on the road when I drove to DC? Hitch a ride with the trucker. … If you’re a congressman making $87 an hour and find it hard to get to DC, well, hitch a ride with the trucker,” Massie said on 55KRC talk radio.
Speaking of Kentucky – You never know who is a vector.
Read this from earlier this week: A group of young adults held a coronavirus party in Kentucky to defy orders to socially distance. Now one of them has coronavirus. Or there’s this Kentucky woman who tested positive and is now refusing to stay inside. Authorities got a court order forcing her to quarantine, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Across the pond
First Prince Charles. Now Boris Johnson. The British Prime Minister has mild symptoms, but he’s working from home. Home just happens to be 10 Downing Street. So he always sort of works from home. Anyway.
Wait a minute. He’s self-isolating in the seat of the UK government!
CNN’s Luke McGee writes: Isolating the Prime Minister is not that difficult, in itself. The Downing Street premises are actually considerably bigger than they look from the outside. Behind that famous black door at Number 10 lies a warren of rooms and offices that extend sideways into 11 and 12 Downing Street – the three addresses are all that survive from a longer terrace constructed at the end of the 17th century – and back into a much larger 18th-century building at the rear.
Johnson lives in a rather modest apartment above Number 11, which is easily shut off from Number 10. (A Downing Street spokesman said earlier on Friday that the connecting door between the two buildings would be shut.) Anything that the Prime Minister needs, whether official papers or deliveries of food and drink, will be left outside a door for him to collect. However, in an effort to contain the virus, Downing Street will try to keep even this level of contact at a minimum.