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President Trump said Wednesday he will continue trying to toss out all of the Affordable Care Act, even as some in his administration, including Attorney General William P. Barr, have privately argued parts of the law should be preserved amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to terminate health care under Obamacare,” Trump told reporters Wednesday, the last day for his administration to change its position in a Supreme Court case challenging the law.

More than 73,000 people in the United States have died from covid-19, with more than 1.2 million reported cases, according to tracking by The Washington Post.

Here are some significant developments:

  • President Trump said the work of the White House coronavirus task force would continue “indefinitely,” a day after Vice President Pence, who heads the panel, said it would probably wind down its work by the end of the month.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo persisted in his criticism of China. “China could have spared the world a descent into global economic malaise,” he said. “They had a choice but instead — instead — China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan.”
  • The White House press secretary on Wednesday dismissed the notion that all Americans should be able to receive coronavirus testing to feel safe going back to work, calling the idea “nonsensical.”
  • Hours after the Republican governor of Arizona accelerated plans to reopen businesses, saying the state was “headed in the right direction,” Doug Ducey’s administration halted the work of a team of experts projecting it was on a much grimmer course.
  • After a peak week of sheltering in place in early April, residents in the United States began to inch out of their homes, according to new cellphone data. But even as states begin to “open up,” more Americans appear to be staying put than sprinting out the door.

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3:33 a.m.
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MLB working on proposal unveiling conditions for summer start to 2020 season

Major League Baseball is expected to make an initial proposal to its players’ union addressing the conditions for starting the 2020 season this summer — an important step that could outline a best-case scenario but that gets MLB no closer to locking down a firm starting date or a defined path forward amid a global pandemic.

The proposal is expected to come within a week, a person familiar with MLB’s dialogue with the MLB Players Association confirmed. News of the expected proposal was first reported Wednesday by ESPN and the New York Post.

MLB would prefer to stage a three-week “spring training 2.0” in June and start playing games in July, a time frame it has been targeting for several weeks but one that would require ample lead time to allow teams and players to begin mobilizing — which is why the process is beginning now.

Read more here.

3:23 a.m.
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ICE detainee in California is first in U.S. immigration custody to die of coronavirus

A 57-year-old man who became ill while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in California died Wednesday as a result of a coronavirus infection, the first virus-related death of an ICE detainee in the United States.

San Diego County health officials confirmed that the man was hospitalized in late April after showing virus-related symptoms at ICE’s Otay Mesa Detention Center, which has the county’s largest outbreak cluster.

The detainee who died Wednesday was identified by his sister as Carlos Escobedo Mejia. Mejia came to the United States decades ago with his family after war broke out in his home country of El Salvador.

“They lock them up like animals,” Mejia’s sister said. “Everyone was getting infected.”

ICE officials did not respond to a request for comment about the fatality late Wednesday.

Read more here.

3:03 a.m.
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SUV driver with gun crashes Pennsylvania town’s parade honoring health workers, police say

At first, the “Salute to Nurses” parade in a Philadelphia suburb on Tuesday night was going just as planned.

First responders in Darby, Pa., marched down the street to honor the staff at Mercy Fitzgerald Medical Center, a nearby hospital.

But they were quickly redirected, police told local TV station WPVI, when a man driving an SUV crashed the event while waving a gun in the air. Authorities said the man was threatening to hurt people.

Police in the parade chased after him, and the man eventually lost control of the vehicle on a main Darby street and rolled it over, authorities said. He is in custody, though his identity was not immediately released by police.

Similar processions, in which first responders honor front-line health workers, have been taking place across the country in recent weeks as hospitals grapple with a surge of coronavirus patients.

2:42 a.m.
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Doctors criticize federal government for tactics in distributing coronavirus drug

Doctors across the country are criticizing the federal government for its tactics in distributing Gilead Sciences’ drug remdesivir, according to STAT News.

About two dozen hospitals are believed to have been chosen to receive the drug so far, but according to STAT, clinicians were unclear as to why some medical centers were chosen to receive coveted doses, while others were not.

“I legitimately do not have any insight into how hospitals were selected,” Paul Biddinger, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Disaster Medicine and one of the leaders of the hospital’s pandemic response, told STAT.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency told STAT that the Department of Health and Human Services is handling remdesivir distribution, while an HHS spokesperson told STAT that they would look into the matter.

On Friday, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization that allowed doctors to use remdesivir to treat patients who are hospitalized with serious cases of covid-19. At the time of the announcement, Gilead said it would coordinate with the government to prioritize cities and hospitals most heavily hit by coronavirus infections for distribution. Hospitals with intensive care units, which treat the most severely ill patients, will get the drug first, the company said.

The antiviral drug, which is administered intravenously, is being allowed to be used to treat the disease in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease, which is defined as patients with low blood oxygen levels or needing oxygen therapy or a mechanical ventilator.

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has also stated that trial data showed that the drug had a “clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.”

2:22 a.m.
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People became infected after going to ‘coronavirus parties’ to deliberately expose themselves

At a time when public-health experts are recommending social distancing, people in a county in southern Washington state are throwing “coronavirus parties” as a way to deliberately expose themselves to the virus.

Walla Walla County, which has 94 confirmed cases, implored its residents in a news release Tuesday not to get together and potentially expose others. Meghan DeBolt, the county’s community health director, said these parties endanger people who didn’t attend because the virus can be spread via an asymptomatic carrier.

“We need to . . . use good common sense, and to be smart as we move through this pandemic so that we can begin to reopen our community,” she said in a Facebook video message. “Covid-19 parties: not part of the solution. Live music at dinner pickup at restaurants: not part of the solution.”

DeBolt told the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: “We don’t know when it is happening. It’s after the fact that we hear from cases. We ask about contacts, and there are 25 people because: ‘We were at a COVID party.’ ”

At least two people had become infected after attending one of these parties that had 20 people in attendance, Washington Emergency Management Division wrote in a Facebook post.

“This is extremely dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalization and even death,” the department wrote. “Please don’t do this.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against intentionally exposing children to chickenpox at similar parties.

“There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be,” the CDC says. “So it is not worth taking the chance of exposing your child to someone with the disease.”

2:02 a.m.
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Senate Intel chair’s brother-in-law also dumped stock the day before market crash

Before the coronavirus outbreak upended the markets, a Trump appointee sold shares worth between $97,000 and $280,000, according to a financial disclosure document first published by ProPublica.

The mid-February sell-off by Gerald Fauth came on the same day that his brother-in-law, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold a significant percentage of his stocks — between $628,000 and $1.72 million, ProPublica previously reported. The Justice Department is investigating the trade, a person familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

Fauth sold shares in six companies, including oil companies BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, which have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Fauth was appointed by Trump to be a member of the three-person National Mediation Board, a federal agency that facilitates labor-management relations within the nation’s railroad and airline industries, in 2017. He was previously a lobbyist and ran his own transportation economic consulting firm, G.W. Fauth & Associates.

Fauth did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post. ProPublica reported that a person who picked up Fauth’s phone Wednesday hung up when a reporter asked if Fauth and Burr had discussed the sales in advance.

1:35 a.m.
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54 residents tested positive after voting in person for Wisconsin election, report finds

Officials say 54 people in Milwaukee County who voted in person during a statewide election on April 7 have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The election was held in person after a controversial decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which ordered the state to proceed with voting over the objections of the governor and public health officials. Due to limited staffing, Milwaukee County opened five polling sites instead of 180. Lines of people snaked outside precincts.

The county’s report counted new infections between April 7 and 21, to account for a 14-day incubation period, of people who either voted in person or curbside or were poll workers. The report warns that it’s likely the number of cases isn’t comprehensive.

“Due to the limitations in testing and asymptomatic cases, it is likely that there are individuals with COVID-19 who participated in the election and are not reflected in the numbers presented here,” the report said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a video briefing with reporters that he doesn’t want to “go through that fiasco again,” nodding to concerns about a second covid-19 outbreak this fall.

“And that’s why we’re continuing to push for the mail-in option,” he said. “We think that’s very, very important.”

1:29 a.m.
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Frontier Airlines is selling a social distancing upgrade for $39

Democrats on Capitol Hill are blasting a plan by Frontier Airlines to sell a social distancing upgrade to passengers concerned about the novel coronavirus.

Frontier says that starting Friday, customers will be able pay $39 to guarantee a spot on the plane next to an open middle seat as a way to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic

Other airlines are taking similar steps to spread passengers out, but they are not charging fees.

Read more here.

12:52 a.m.
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Biden: ‘No one is expendable’

Joe Biden rejected comments made by President Trump and others this week that seemed to accept that reopening the economy may result in more American deaths.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: No one is expendable. No life is worth losing to add one more point to the Dow,” Biden tweeted.

The president has said that while more deaths may occur as states loosen restrictions on professional and social activities, the country needed to get back to work.

Asked about the chance of increased deaths in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump said: “We have to be warriors. We can’t keep our country closed down for years. … Hopefully that won’t be the case, but it could very well be the case.”

Other Democrats have slammed the president over his stance that some Americans sacrifice their lives in service to the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Trump of exaggerating “the opportunity that is out there for the economy at the risk of people dying."

“That’s not a plan,” Pelosi said during an interview with MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday. “Death is not an economic motivator, stimulus. So why are we going down that path?”

12:41 a.m.
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Arizona halts partnership with experts predicting cases would continue to mount

Hours after Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, accelerated plans to reopen businesses, saying the state was “headed in the right direction,” his administration halted the work of a team of experts projecting it was on a different — and much grimmer — course.

On Monday night, the eve of President Trump’s visit to the state, Ducey’s health department shut down the work of academic experts predicting the peak of the state’s coronavirus outbreak was still about two weeks away.

The move to sideline academic experts in the middle of the pandemic reflects growing friction between plans to resume economic activity and the analysis of epidemiologists that underscores the dangers of rolling back restrictions. Officials in Arizona said they would rely on “real-time” information, as well as modeling conducted by federal agencies, which is not released publicly.

Read more here.

12:24 a.m.
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Tyson reopens plants in Iowa, Washington since coronavirus outbreak

Tyson Foods on Wednesday reopened the country’s largest pork-processing facility after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus prompted a two-week closure.

The plant in Waterloo, Iowa, which can process 19,500 hogs a day and represents about 4 percent of the country’s pork-processing capacity, had been under heavy pressure to close its doors amid a rise in infections. Production lines began to slow in April after more than 180 plant workers tested positive for the virus and many others called in sick.

As The Washington Post reported, the company had failed to provide masks to workers at its Waterloo pork facility in March and early April, even as the coronavirus was rapidly spreading. Some workers told The Post that they were given confusing instructions about when to return to work or told to come in while sick.

On April 22, Tyson announced it would shutter the facility. Its chairman, John H. Tyson, warned that the “food supply chain is breaking” and that the nation’s supply of meat could be at risk.

But a week after President Trump signed an executive order compelling meat processors to remain open, the company slowly began to reopen its facilities. On Monday, it reopened its pork plant in Perry, Iowa, where more than 700 of the facility’s workers had tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, Tyson announced it would resume operations at Washington’s biggest beef-processing plant in Pasco, where more than 100 people had tested positive for the virus before the plant shut down for mass testing on April 24.

Tyson said employees will be screened on a daily basis, and the Waterloo facility will maintain an on-site medical clinic.

All employees who test positive will remain home on sick leave until they have been cleared by health officials.

11:59 p.m.
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Trump vows complete end of Obamacare law despite pandemic

President Trump said Wednesday he will continue trying to toss out all of the Affordable Care Act, even as some in his administration, including Attorney General William P. Barr, have privately argued parts of the law should be preserved amid a pandemic.

While the president has said he will preserve some of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular provisions, including guaranteed coverage for preexisting medical conditions, he has not offered a plan to do so, and his administration’s legal position seeks to end all parts of the law, including those provisions.

Democrats, who view the fight over Obamacare as a winning election issue for them, denounced the president’s decision.

Read more here.

11:40 p.m.
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ICE detainee dies of covid-19 after contracting disease inside Southern California detention facility

A 57-year-old detainee in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody died of covid-19 on Wednesday after contracting the disease inside a Southern California detention facility that has been the site of the largest reported outbreak of its kind in the nation.

San Diego County health officials confirmed the detainee was hospitalized in late April after becoming ill at ICE’s Otay Mesa Detention Center, where as many as 132 detainees have tested positive for the coronavirus. ICE officials have not responded to a request for comment.

A federal judge in California ordered ICE to release dozens of “medically-vulnerable” detainees who are over 60 or have preexisting health conditions, as part of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego.

“This is what we warned them about,” said ACLU immigrant rights staff attorney Monika Y. Langarica. “Releasing people is the only safe option for the population of people in detention. It’s going to save their lives. And what happens inside the detention center is not confined to the walls of the building — it’s going to impact the surrounding community.”

Attorneys and advocates have been suing the facility for weeks to compel Otay Mesa, which is operated by the private prison contractor CoreCivic, to release individual detainees.

“It’s just been horrifying,” said attorney Kirsten Zittlau, who had one client released from the detention center. “When you create all the circumstances for a death trap, it was just a matter of time that something like this would happen, and unfortunately that happened today.”

Attorney Nanya Thompson’s client tested positive inside Otay Mesa after she developed a violent cough. The woman, who suffers from hypertension, was given Tylenol and water and told to rest in a room adjacent to the infirmary, her attorney said.

“She’s freaked out,” Thompson said. “In the detention setting, it’s impossible to prevent it from spreading.”

11:27 p.m.
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Three Russian doctors have fallen from hospital windows in two weeks, amid reports of dire conditions

MOSCOW — Alexander Shulepov learned he tested positive for covid-19, but said in a video that his employer forced him to continue working. He was admitted to the hospital, and it was there on May 1 that he fell from a second-floor window in what local authorities have called an accident.

Shulepov, who is in critical condition with a skull fracture, is the third Russian medical professional in two weeks to mysteriously fall from a hospital window. The other two died.

The incidents have highlighted escalating tensions in a Russian health-care system under pressure from a surge of coronavirus cases and a shortage of medical professionals. With doctors, nurses and medics reportedly accounting for roughly 7 percent of the country’s official coronavirus fatalities, the medical community has increasingly taken to social media to voice frustrations about poor working conditions and the continued absence of stipends promised by President Vladimir Putin.

Read more here.