Coronavirus Live Updates: Governors to Lay Out Road Map for Reopening

Governors are using talk shows to detail their next steps.

As the nation shifts toward slowly reviving the economy, with several states allowing a gradual reopening of businesses and others indicating they will soon do the same, governors from across the country are set to appear on television on Sunday to articulate the latest steps in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

For weeks, the Sunday morning talk shows have emerged as a critical, highly visible platform for governors to detail the urgent needs of their state and, at times, challenge President Trump in demanding a more robust federal response.

This week, the governors of Oklahoma and Colorado will be among those discussing the steps they have taken toward reopening their economies.

Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, who allowed businesses including hair and nail salons, barber shops, spas, and pet groomers to reopen on Friday, is to appear on “Fox News Sunday.”

Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Democrat who has indicated he will allow limited reopenings beginning May 1, is to appear on “State of the Union” on CNN.

Stacey Abrams, who opposed Brian Kemp in the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, will appear on “State of the Union” and “Meet the Press” on NBC.

Mr. Kemp, a Republican, received a wide range of criticism — from Mr. Trump, as well as from Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms — for his plan that permitted salons, tattoo shops and bowling alleys to open on Friday, and will allow dine-in restaurant service and movie theaters to open on Monday.

Hardie Davis Jr., the mayor of Augusta, Ga., who is a critic of Mr. Kemp’s plan, is scheduled to be on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”

Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican governor, and Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, both fixtures on the talk show circuit in recent weeks, will return on Sunday. Mr. Hogan will appear on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” as well as on ABC’s “This Week,” alongside Ms. Whitmer.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to be on “State of the Union.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to appear on “Fox News Sunday.” And Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, is to be on “State of the Union” and “Meet the Press.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday announced new steps to ramp up testing, offering eligibility to more residents and allowing any pharmacy in the state to conduct tests.

Mr. Cuomo, who has emphasized that testing capacity needed to increase sharply before he would consider reopening the state’s economy more widely, said that emergency workers, health care workers and essential employees could be tested even if they are not showing symptoms. He also announced an executive order allowing any of the state’s roughly 5,000 pharmacies to administer tests.

“That’s been a big complaint across the board,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Everybody wanted tests and they couldn’t get tests.”

The state was beginning to conduct antibody tests on front-line health care workers at four hospitals in New York City, the governor said, and would expand that testing to emergency workers and transit workers next week.

On the first day in weeks that the White House did not hold a briefing on the coronavirus, President Trump lashed out at the news media for asking “hostile questions” and suggested his daily appearances were no longer worth his time.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter late Saturday. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!”

Officials inside the White House are also discussing replacing Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, after a string of news reports about the administration’s slow response to the coronavirus and a separate controversy about an ousted department official, two senior administration officials said.

On Saturday, two senior administration officials said that no imminent changes were planned. Among the possible replacements are Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the coronavirus task force.

Mr. Trump has become angry with Mr. Azar in recent weeks, after stories in The Washington Post and The New York Times detailed decisions and discussions related to the administration’s response to the coronavirus. Mr. Trump, who has closely followed the coverage, was upset that he was being blamed while Mr. Azar was portrayed in a more favorable light, aides said, adding that the president was also suspicious that Mr. Azar was trying to save his own reputation at the president’s expense.

But on Saturday, the White House issued a full-throated defense of Mr. Azar, calling the rumors false.

“The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the president’s priorities,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement. “Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to Covid-19.”

A walk in the park brings tense flare-ups: Back off, you’re too close. Oh really? Then stay home. A loud neighbor, once a fleeting annoyance of urban life, is cause for complaint to the city. Wake at noon, still tired. The city’s can-do resilience has given way to resignation and random tears.

A feeling of sadness shot through with frayed nerves could be felt in conversations in and around New York City as the coronavirus outbreak in the world’s epicenter dragged toward its sixth week, its end still too far off to see.

“This is the week where I feel like I have accepted this, and given up,” Euna Chi of Brooklyn wrote in an email. “My daily commute to the couch feels ‘normal.’”

Separated from Boston by the Mystic River, Chelsea, Mass., is a world apart, a first stop for immigrant families — Lithuanian, Polish, Irish, and more recently, Honduran and Guatemalan — who cannot afford the bigger city’s sky-high rents.

It has a population density of nearly 17,000 people per square mile, with whole families crowding into single rooms in triple-decker rowhouses, buildings with high rates of lead paint, asbestos and air pollution.

This spring, the virus collided disastrously with the city’s overcrowded housing. A warning flare came in the second week of April, when, late at night, a young mother called the city housing authority from the street; she had disclosed her test results to her roommates, and they had kicked her out.

“It dawned on me that this situation was going to replicate itself,” said Thomas Ambrosino, Chelsea’s city manager, “and we better have a solution.”

For Paul Nowicki, the director of operations for the housing authority in the city, one difficulty has been safeguarding residents in a building when he cannot locate infected people.

Many leaders will face the same stubborn challenge: How, in a country that values its citizens’ medical privacy and autonomy, can authorities separate the sick from the well?

The question is an urgent one if public life is to resume.

A wide stretch of West Virginia and Ohio is fighting the coronavirus pandemic with 530 fewer hospital beds than it had last year, after a for-profit company shut down three of the area’s larger hospitals.

Beginning in 2014, Alecto Healthcare Services acquired the three hospitals: Fairmont Medical Center in Fairmont, W.Va., Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, W.Va., and East Ohio Regional Hospital in neighboring Martins Ferry, Ohio. Employees expected the new ownership to put the institutions on solid footing after years of financial struggle.

Instead, decisions made by Alecto wound up undercutting patient care and undermining the hospitals’ finances, according to more than two dozen interviews with doctors, nurses, other staff members, government officials and patients, as well as a review of court records.

Doctors were fired to save on sa
laries; many patients followed them elsewhere. Medical supplies ran short. Vendors went unpaid. Finally, one after another, the three hospitals ceased operating.

The counties they serve have already recorded 171 coronavirus cases and nine deaths. Hundreds of people whose lungs were scarred by decades in coal mines are vulnerable to a devastating respiratory syndrome caused by the virus, doctors said.

“We’ve now got a hospital that existed for over 100 years that, in the middle of a pandemic, sits empty,” said Jonathan Board, chairman of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, referring to Fairmont.

Dr. John Wolen, the former trauma chief at Ohio Valley, now works at Wheeling Hospital and is bracing for an influx of patients. “The extra capacity that we will absolutely need is not going to be there,” he said.

Students are demanding tuition refunds in a wave of lawsuits against universities, which have largely turned to online learning because of social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, lawsuits were filed against Columbia University and Pace University in New York, arguing that the quality and value of the education has been compromised. Similar complaints had been filed against Drexel University, the University of Miami and the University of Colorado.

Colleges have been reluctant to refund tuition, a major source of operating revenue. They say students are still getting the classes and degrees they signed up for, just in a different format.

The new lawsuits charge the universities with breach of contract and unjust enrichment, saying they promised a campus experience rich with amenities like gyms and libraries and the arts but have stopped delivering on those promises since mid-March, when most students were asked to evacuate their dormitories and shift to online classes.

“If the students wanted to go to Columbia and earn their degree online, they could have done that, but they chose to go to the on-campus version of Columbia, which is heavily marketed for its experiential and educational value,” said Roy T. Willey IV, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

In court documents, the plaintiffs argue that the universities have admitted that online and in-person classes are not equivalent through their pricing and marketing. Tuition for an online social work degree at Columbia, for instance, is almost $10,000 less than for the same degree earned on campus, according to the documents.

Columbia did not return a request for comment.

A spokesman at Pace, Jerry McKinstry, said the university had done its best to accommodate students — by shifting mental health counseling online, allowing most classes to be taken pass-fail and adjusting housing feeds — under circumstances beyond the university’s control.

“Since transitioning to remote learning, as mandated by the State of New York, academic programs and services have continued,” Mr. McKinstry said.

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Reporting was contributed by Sarah Kliff, Joel Petterson, Rick Rojas, Ellen Barry and Michael Wilson.

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