with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro

The novel coronavirus does not care whether you’re rich or poor, white or black, man or woman, straight or gay, Republican or Democrat, young or old, famous like Tom Hanks or infamous like Harvey Weinstein, documented or undocumented, educated or uneducated, royal or commoner – or anything else. No one is immune. While the well-connected certainly have better access to testing and treatment than others, in this world of inequality, viruses are equalizers.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive. The 71-year-old is a man of robust health who enjoys horseback riding. His spokesman said this morning that he has mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health.” Buckingham Palace says the prince last saw his 93-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, two weeks ago, and she remains in good health.

Charles is one of 436,159 confirmed cases worldwide of the virus that causes the disease covid-19. He’s not even the first royal. Monaco’s Prince Albert II, the son of Grace Kelly, tested positive last week.

The global pandemic has now killed 19,648. The United States has 55,238 confirmed cases and 802 reported deaths. All these numbers will be higher by the time you read this.

Prince Charles offered a handshake to guests at the Prince's Trust Awards at the London Palladium on March 11, before correcting himself. (Royal Pool via AP)

Yesterday, complications from the contagion killed playwright Terrence McNally, who rose to the forefront of American theater chronicling gay lives with works such as “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class.” He was 81.

Alan Finder, a legendary retired New York Times reporter, died at 72 from the virus. Former colleagues remember him as a calming presence and “one of the menschiest guys around.”

But complications from the coronavirus also killed a school principal from Brooklyn, a woman who was half his age. Dezann Romain, 36, is the first known death of a New York City public school employee from the outbreak, per the New York Post.

A teenager who lived in Lancaster, Calif., and had no apparent preexisting conditions may be the first minor to have died from the coronavirus in the United States, but authorities say confirming this will require additional testing. “This is a devastating reminder that covid-19 affects people of all ages,” L.A. County Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer told the Los Angeles Times.

The virus killed two health-care workers in Georgia, which has a death toll of 25. One of the victims, a 42-year-old mammogram technician, was found dead in her home. She had been dead 12 to 16 hours when police, coming to do a welfare check, discovered her body. Her child, apparently 4 or 5 years old, was in the home at the time, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Former Texas A&M basketball star David Edwards died from complications of the virus. He was 48.

Thankfully, the vast majority who get this coronavirus will survive. But the deluge of news about who has been infected underscores how blind the virus is to class differences. To wit: Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow, 68, and his wife, Adele, have both tested positive, according to the Harvard Crimson. So have Amazon workers at six U.S. warehouses and counting. The e-commerce giant, led by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, has been racing to hire 100,000 new workers to meet surging online orders. A 31-year-old Mexican immigrant, being held in New Jersey, became the first detainee in ICE custody to test positive, according to CNN.

One of the 39 news cases reported on Tuesday in Kentucky was a 20-something who tested positive after attending a “coronavirus party.” Talk about tempting fate. “This is the part where I, the person that tells everybody to be calm, have to remain calm myself because anyone who goes to something like this may think that they are indestructible, but it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The Bluegrass State’s junior senator, Rand Paul (R), has also faced criticism for his cavalier decision to swim in the pool and work out in the Senate gym while he awaited the results of his coronavirus test, which was positive.

Even Time magazine’s reigning person of the year wasn’t safe. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg disclosed that she probably has a mild case. “I was feeling tired, had shivers, a sore throat and coughed,” the 17-year-old posted on Instagram. “My dad experienced the same symptoms, but much more intense and with a fever.”

Others fighting the coronavirus include opera singer Plácido Domingo and rapper Slim Thug; Canadian first lady Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah); actors Idris Elba (Stringer Bell on “The Wire”) and Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane on “Game of Thrones”); and former “Bachelor” star Colton Underwood and Bravo host Andy Cohen. We’re all susceptible.

Four takes on what it’s like to face the coronavirus

“I probably have a ‘mild to moderate’ case … I don’t think I could survive worse.”

“Of course, I don’t know for sure that I have covid-19, because there is no testing where I live,” columnist David Von Drehle writes from Kansas City. “People talk about testing on TV all day long. Usually, I’m listening through a scrim of fitful sleep. The closest I came to being tested was on Saturday. After my wife spent an entire day on the phone, a nice doctor met me in an emergency room parking lot and taught me to put on a mask. Then she had me stand by the car while she listened to my lungs. She smiled under her mask and said, ‘Given your symptoms, we’ll assume that you have it. Come back if you get worse.’ I don’t want to come back, even if I might get a test. … The first symptom was fever. I figured I had the flu. No such luck. The mild to moderate symptoms of this coronavirus make garden-variety flu seem like a tea party.” 

“What I learned when my husband got sick with coronavirus.”

“My husband, a tall, robust 56-year-old who regularly goes — who regularly went — on five-hour bike rides from our Brooklyn neighborhood to Jamaica Bay in Queens and back, has been lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, or curled on his side, wearing the same pajama bottoms for days because it is too hard to change out of them, too hard to stay that long on his feet, too cold outside the sheets and blankets he huddles beneath. It has been 12 days since T woke up in the middle of the night on March 12 with chills. The next day, just as reports were growing more urgent about the coronavirus spreading in the United States, he thought he felt better, but then the chills came back, along with aches and a fever of 100.4,” writes New York Times editor Jessica Lustig. "Now we live in a world in which I have planned with his doctor which emergency room we should head to if T suddenly gets worse, a world in which I am suddenly afraid we won’t have enough of the few things tempering the raging fever and soaking sweats and severe aches wracking him — the Advil and Tylenol that the doctors advise us to layer, one after the other, and that I scroll through websites searching for, seeing ‘out of stock’ again and again.”

“You’re not prepared for this pandemic until you’ve had the tough conversations about end-of-life care.”

“Last week, we ran our first code related to covid-19. A code on its own can be a high-stress situation. Someone is literally dying right before you, and you must do everything within your power to revive the person. The epinephrine, the bicarbonate, the crushing of the sternum and ribs for chest compressions, shoving the breathing tube down,” writes Shaoli Chaudhuri, an internal medicine resident at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. “But a covid-19 code is an animal all its own. As our colleagues prepared to rush into the room of the patient who was clearly seconds from arresting, I yelled at them: ‘Get your mask on! Do you have a mask?! Stop and get your gear on!’ The last thing we wanted was for any of our co-workers to be exposed, given the body fluids they were about to encounter. … Each of us knew, sadly, that this patient would not survive. And every moment we spent doing our job put us at greater risk of getting sick. … We are already in the doomsday situation, and it is not going to get easier.” 

“I’m on the front lines. I have no plan for this.” 

“As an I.C.U. doctor, I’m used to giving bad news, but I was not prepared for this,” Daniela Lamas, a critical care doctor, writes in the Times. “I paused outside my patient’s room to watch her for a moment. She lay on the bed, tethered to a ventilator by the tracheostomy tube in her neck. Her husband sat in a small plastic chair beside her with his hand on her leg, smiling at some silly sitcom playing on the TV. I hesitated a beat. And then I entered. I had to tell him. There was no way to soften the blow. The hospital is changing its rules, I said. No more visitors. When you leave today, you both need to say goodbye. … As we tighten our protocols to protect our patients from the threat of Covid-19, she’s alone. … It’s a tough decision that leaves our patients to suffer through their illnesses in a medical version of solitary confinement."

The federal response

President Trump said he wanted to reopen the economy by Easter during a town hall hosted by Fox News on March 24. (The Washington Post)
Congress and the White House reached a deal at 1:30 a.m.

The Senate plans to vote this afternoon on the $2 trillion stimulus package, which would send $1,200 checks to many Americans, create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states.

“The legislation ensures that these taxpayer-backed loans cannot go to firms owned by President Trump, other White House officials, or members of Congress. This would suggest that Trump-owned properties, including hotels that have been impacted, cannot seek taxpayer assistance,” Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane report. “Other provisions include $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals. It would significantly boost unemployment insurance benefits, expanding eligibility and offering workers an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of what state unemployment programs pay. … The White House and Republicans agreed to allow an oversight board and create a Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to scrutinize the lending decisions and detect abusive or fraudulent behavior. …

“After Senate passage, the next step is a little less clear. The House is out of session, so action there could take longer, depending on whether lawmakers can agree to pass the bill by ‘unanimous consent,’ which would require agreement from all members of the chamber. But some liberals and conservatives have already hinted they could oppose it.”

Health experts decried Trump for saying he wants “the country opened” by Easter.

“Ending the shutdown now in America would be disastrous, many say, because the country has barely given those restrictions time to work, and because U.S. leaders have not pursued alternative strategies used in other countries to avert the potential deaths of hundreds of thousands,” William Wan, Reed Albergotti and Joel Achenbach report. “Orders to stay at home have largely come from state governors, who may simply ignore Trump. But public health experts say the contradictory messaging would make persuading people to comply — already a difficult job — even harder. … Even in a hypothetical world where the economy was valued above human life, many economists say it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to sacrifice the elderly, abruptly send everyone back to work and allow the virus to run its course. Restarting international flights, for example, wouldn’t mean consumers would buy tickets. And the shock from the spreading infections and mounting deaths would make any sense of normalcy hard to maintain.”

  • Fox News has swerved again. Hosts are calling for Trump to abandon restrictions. “The commentary dovetails with, and may even have encouraged, Trump’s expressing a desire for businesses to start reopening after the federal government’s 15-day, stay-at-home period ends on Monday,” Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison report.
  • Ethicists say picking between older Americans’ lives and the economy is a false choice. “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick set off a firestorm of criticism after he suggested Monday [on Fox] that he and other older Americans should be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the economy,” Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports.
  • Tension continues mounting between Trump and the scientific community. “Trump has set up something of a gladiatorial process for managing the coronavirus, in which each adviser and expert argues forcefully for their specific perspective — be it public health or economic growth — creating a dynamic that has left [Debbie] Birx, [Tony] Fauci and others often offering Trump recommendations he is not eager to hear,” Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb report.
  • Putting the burden on states, Trump is still leading from behind. “Although he has taken unilateral action in some cases — such as suspending travel first from China and more recently from Europe, and deploying military ships and other federal assets to coronavirus hot spots — he has played a back-seat role elsewhere that belies his omnipresence in the national media,” Phil Rucker notes. “Trump sought Tuesday to hold [New York's] governor, Andrew M. Cuomo (D), responsible for the lack of ventilators and other medical equipment in short supply."
  • But Trump has the best job approval rating of his presidency. A Gallup poll puts the president’s approval rating at 49 percent, up from 44 percent earlier in the month, with 60 percent approving his handling of the coronavirus situation and 38 percent disapproving. It's probably a rally-around-the-flag effect.

Quote of the day

“Protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said during his daily briefing in Columbus. “We save our economy by first saving lives. And we have to do it in that order.”

The Washington Post spoke to doctors throughout the country who say shortages of medical equipment and supplies could cost lives. (The Washington Post)
The coronavirus could be FEMA’s biggest disaster ever. 

“While U.S. health authorities remain in the lead on the medical front of dealing with the virus, FEMA has been tasked with handling almost everything else,” Nick Miroff reports. “The agency is uniquely qualified for that role, former FEMA leaders say, and its staff is well-prepared to meet the challenge after several busy years of hurricanes and wildfires. But there were signs this week that the agency has stumbled out of the gate. …  If the pandemic’s spread through New York City is followed by significant outbreaks in other large American cities, the agency will be facing a panoramic crisis across the country as the United States heads into spring flood season, with the potential for hurricanes and wildfires to follow. … Congressional reports that evaluated the agency’s responses to the hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 and 2018 raised concerns about staffing shortages and a potential lack of FEMA reservists. As of this week, several thousand reservists have yet to be fully activated in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but former FEMA officials say it would be a mistake to view that as a lack of urgency or preparation."

Oracle has partnered with the administration to collect data on unproven drugs. 

“A series of conversations Trump has had with tech billionaire Larry Ellison have helped convince him that two old anti-malarial drugs may be game-changing treatments for covid-19,” Yasmeen Abutaleb, Laurie McGinley and Josh Dawsey report. “Ellison — who recently held a high-profile fundraiser for Trump — has helped arrange a partnership between Oracle, the software company he co-founded, and the federal government to crowdsource that idea by collecting data in real time from doctors trying out those and other unproven drugs on covid-19 patients. While the anti-malarial drugs are also being tested in clinical trials, the primary purpose of Oracle’s new website and mobile app is to help gather information on patients prescribed the medications outside of trials and more quickly assess whether the drugs — or any others that may emerge as possible treatments — are effective against covid-19, for which there is no proven treatment. … The administration is also exploring whether it will offer bonus payments to doctors who use the technology. This raises ethical concerns among some health officials, who fear that will further promote the use of unproven drugs.”

This coronavirus isn’t mutating quickly, which suggests a vaccine could offer lasting protection. 

“That relative stability suggests the virus is less likely to become more or less dangerous as it spreads, and represents encouraging news for researchers hoping to create a long-lasting vaccine,” Joel Achenbach reports. Peter Thielen, a molecular geneticist at John Hopkins who has been studying the virus, said there are only about four to 10 genetic differences between the strains that have infected people in the U.S. and the original virus that spread in Wuhan. This would mean that a vaccine against it could act like immunizations against the measles or chickenpox vaccines – protecting people for a long time.

The scramble for medical equipment remains chaotic.

“Some hard-hit parts of the country are receiving fresh supplies of N95 masks, but others are still out of stock. Hospitals [and state officials] are requesting donations of masks and gloves from construction companies, nail salons and tattoo parlors, and considering using ventilators designed for large animals because they cannot find the kind made for people,” Jeanne Whalen, Tony Romm, Aaron Gregg and Tom Hamburger report. “Although governors and hospital leaders welcome the many U.S. companies stepping forward to make masks and ventilators, they fear the voluntary efforts will be too scattershot without federal coordination. … Trump seemed to acknowledge the chaos on Tuesday, however, calling the world market for masks and ventilators ‘crazy’ in a tweet, adding that it was ‘not easy’ to acquire them. But he also tweeted that he hasn’t had to use the Defense Production Act ‘because no one has said NO!' … Soaring demand and competitive bidding is driving prices up. Premier, a health-care company that purchases equipment and supplies for 4,000 acute-care hospitals, used to pay about 30 cents for an N95 mask but is now seeing prices between $3 and $15 per mask." 

  • The federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile, a reserve meant to fortify overwhelmed hospitals during a crisis, only has 16,660 ventilators. (Center for Public Integrity)
  • Ford, 3M and GE have teamed up to make ventilators and respirators, but the process could take months. Ford said it expects to deliver its first batch of 1,000 ventilators this week to Detroit-area hospitals. Eventually, it expects to produce 100,000 a week. (Jacob Bogage)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) urged Trump to use his powers under the Defense Production Act. “I don’t want to see doctors having to make a choice of who gets to live and who has to die because they don’t have the equipment to save their lives,” he said. “You can’t build a ventilator overnight.” (Dallas Morning News)
  • More than 750,000 medical-grade masks were auctioned with huge markups in Texas by a private firm. Bottles of Purell went for $40. (Bloomberg News)
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission warned of the risk of insider trading during virus-induced market turbulence. (Renae Merle)
  • The Justice Department said those who intentionally spread the virus could be charged as terrorists. (Politico)
  • The Federal Reserve enlisted BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to shepherd some of its debt-buying programs. (Bloomberg News)
  • The American politicians and lawmakers leading the coronavirus response are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, meaning they are squarely within the age range of the most at-risk segments of the population. (David Nakamura)

Domestic damage

Vice President Pence, along with other White House officials, stressed on March 24 that anyone who recently left New York should self-quarantine for 14 days. (The Washington Post)
The feds instructed anyone who recently visited New York City to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

“New York health experts predict the state will need about 140,000 hospital beds to handle the crisis, exceeding last week’s estimate by 30,000. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state has 53,000 existing beds,” Ben Guarino, Shayna Jacobs and Tim Craig report. Fauci “said that 1 out of every 1,000 people in New York now have the coronavirus. … New York now has more than 25,000 coronavirus cases, including more than 15,000 in New York City. The state has added about 5,000 new cases per day, and Cuomo said he expects those trends to accelerate at least for the next 14 to 21 days.”

  • The New York City Subway is deserted during evening rush hour. “So much so that several regular observers — police officers, a janitor, a mail carrier and a busker — compared it to the deserted zombieland of the subway at 3 a.m. At least half of the few riders were wearing masks and latex gloves," Jada Yuan and Richard Morgan report.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) urged New Yorkers to stay away. “He spent Tuesday amplifying his order requiring fliers from the New York area to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival in the Sunshine State,” Cleve Wootson and Lori Rozsa report. His order applies to people who enter Florida by airplane, but it does not apply to those streaming into the state on Interstate 95.
  • American islands – from Maine to Hawaii – are experimenting with isolation to stop the spread. (Frances Stead Sellers)
We're seeing more second-order consequences from the outbreak.
  • Counties and states have released thousands  of inmates around the country, as public health officials issued dire warnings that cramped and unsanitary conditions could turn prisons into havens for the virus. The federal prison system is coming under intense pressure to take similar action. (Kimberly Kindy, Emma Brown and Dalton Bennett)
  • The National Rifle Association will cut salaries 20 percent and is bracing for layoffs after the pandemic forced the gun lobby to cancel its annual meeting set for April and a number of fundraisers. (Beth Reinhard)
  • The Los Angeles sheriff ordered all gun stores to close. Fear has prompted a spike in firearm sales. (Mercury News)
  • The non-famous people in the entertainment industry are getting hammered by production shutdowns. A union representing crew members estimated that 120,000 of its members have already lost work. (Sonia Rao)
  • Election officials in both parties are calling for emergency funding to expand mail-in voting before November. (Amy Gardner, Elise Viebeck and Joseph Marks)
  • Bernie Sanders’s campaign said he would like to debate Joe Biden in April, but the DNC has not scheduled a debate. The comments are the clearest indicator yet that, at least in the near term, Sanders has little intention of bowing out. “There is a growing sense among some in the Sanders campaign that Biden’s response to the coronavirus has been shaky and that could justify Sanders’s continued presence in the contest,” Sean Sullivan reports.
Washington-area leaders slammed Trump's mixed messages. 

“D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who has largely refrained from criticizing Trump, said the city is fighting coronavirus ‘absent any national direction’ and condemned the president’s about-face,” Gregory Schneider, Fenit Nirappil, Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason report. "She ordered the closure of nonessential businesses as of 10 p.m. Wednesday, following similar orders in Maryland and Virginia on Monday. She also lowered the threshold for prohibited mass gatherings from 50 people to 10. … In Maryland, where a Prince George’s County man became the state’s fourth virus-related fatality, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the messaging coming out of the White House was ‘pretty confusing’ and didn’t seem to match up with actions by the federal and state governments. … In Virginia, which announced three coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) also took issue with Trump’s comments, saying residents need to understand the need for continued sacrifice and not hear ‘mixed messages.’” 

  • The tally of known cases in the D.C. region jumped to 828. D.C. announced 46 new cases on Tuesday. D.C. extended tax deadlines and launched a $25 million business relief fund. (John Woodrow Cox and Dana Hedgpeth)
  • Metro will close 19 stations indefinitely to limit the exposure of transit employees while keeping the system running. Closures will begin tomorrow. (Justin George)
  • Liberty University welcomed students back to campus despite the outbreak. Jerry Falwell Jr., the school’s president, has said people are overreacting to the contagion. (Susan Svrluga and Laura Vozzella)
Smartphone data reveals which states are social distancing.

Unacast, a company that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data, launched a scoreboard that grades, county by county, which residents are changing behavior at the urging of health officials. Geoffrey Fowler explains that bright green represents an “A” score while bright orange is an “F.” Comparing the nation’s mass movements from March 20 to an average Friday, for example, D.C. got an “A” while Wyoming earned an “F”:

Global fallout

A 14-hour nationwide curfew was introduced in India on March 22 in an effort to contain the coronavirus. (Pune Municipal Corporation via Storyful)
India’s 1.3 billion people are now under a three-week lockdown. 

“For the next 21 days, there will be restrictions on commerce and movement across the length and breadth of India. Even at the height of its battle against the virus, China did not impose a nationwide lockdown,” Joanna Slater and Niha Masih report. “On Tuesday, India had about 500 confirmed coronavirus cases, but the number is growing rapidly. Testing remains limited, and there are signs that the virus could be spreading undetected. … Prime Minister Narendra Modi made clear that the country was at a crucial juncture. ‘If we don’t manage these 21 days, the country will be set back by 21 years,’ he said. His emotional appeal to citizens not to step out of their homes did not include specifics about how they would meet basic needs. That immediately provoked frantic buying at grocery stores, which remain open as essential services.” 

  • Spain’s death toll surpassed 3,400 today, surpassing China and making it the world’s hardest-hit country behind Italy. The nation’s 46 million people have been barred from leaving home with few exceptions as the government races to add hospital beds. (Rick Noack)
  • Malaysia, the world’s main producer of medical gloves, cut its factory staff in half amid new restrictions aimed at stemming the outbreak in that country. (Miriam Berger)
  • India banned the export of hydroxychloroquine, one of the drugs Trump claimed could treat the virus. The government said that it would fulfill current orders and provide the drug on case-by-case basis for humanitarian reasons. (Berger)
  • South Korea agreed to send spare medical equipment to the United States after Trump called President Moon Jae-in to make the request. (Berger)
  • Iranian President Hasan Rouhani announced there would be new restrictions, possibly including the closure of public parks and a ban on all travel. (Paul Schemm)
Virologists are exploring why the death rate is so much lower in Germany than elsewhere.

“In Italy, 9.5 percent of the people who have tested positive for the virus have succumbed to covid-19, according to data compiled at Johns Hopkins University. In France, the rate is 4.3 percent. But in Germany, it’s 0.4 percent,” Loveday Morris reports. “The biggest reason for the difference, infectious disease experts say, is Germany’s work in the early days of its outbreak to track, test and contain infection clusters. That means Germany has a truer picture of the size of its outbreak than places that test only the obviously symptomatic, most seriously ill or highest-risk patients. … Other factors, such as the age of those infected and the timing of Germany’s outbreak, also play a role in the differing death rates. But testing widely has been key. Germany, with 31,150 cases at midday Tuesday, appeared to have a larger outbreak than France, with 20,149. But the higher death rate in France implies there were more undiagnosed cases there. France’s outbreak could be larger than Germany’s.” 

Europe is trying to contain the crisis with unprecedented offers to pay private-sector salaries. 

“France, Germany, Denmark, Britain and others have decided to take over the payrolls of struggling companies, so that workers don’t get laid off. The hope is that by paying people to stay home, governments can slow the virus’s spread while also averting an economic depression,” Michael Birnbaum and Karla Adam report. “The pricey gamble could work if the coronavirus crisis lasts just a few months, many economists say, since companies would be able to exit their frozen status almost immediately. But if the restrictions drag on, the financial support could saddle European governments with gigantic bills while also failing to avert the collapse of businesses.” 

Russia’s official count of cases is relatively low. Even Moscow’s mayor is questioning it. 

“Russia, spanning two continents ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, remains an anomaly: a population of around 145  million but just 495 confirmed cases of the disease and one possible death, although the cause has been disputed,” Isabelle Khurshudyan reports. “But the statistics have prompted skepticism — of both the method of testing and whether a nationwide uptick in pneumonia cases could be, as some doctors and government critics believe, linked to covid-19 … President Vladimir Putin said last week that ‘the situation in our country looks a lot better’ than Europe and was ‘under control.’ But state television showed Putin wearing a full hazmat suit while visiting one of Moscow’s coronavirus hospitals Tuesday. Two hours earlier, Moscow’s mayor told him that the number of cases is probably much higher than what has been reported because of limitations in testing. … Moscow saw a 37  percent increase in pneumonia in January compared with a year ago, according to Rosstat, Russia’s statistics agency. The data showed 6,921 pneumonia cases in January, up from 5,058 during the same period in 2019.”

Only one continent remains untouched by the virus: Antarctica. 

Some 4,000 people from around the world have watched the virus progress from the barren continent, where it would be highly unlikely they catch the disease. If they did, it would be very risky. Most Arctic bases would struggle to contain an infection that spreads the way the coronavirus does. (Adam Taylor and Stefano Pitrelli)

Social media speed read

Utah's junior senator tested negative but will remain in quarantine:

Trump’s reaction seemed sarcastic:

New York's governor had a blunt message for young people who aren’t social distancing:

A conservative commentator shared this sad story:

The curve is not flattening yet, even as Trump muses about letting our guard down:

Hillary Clinton suggested Americans stop taking medical advice from the president:

Biden ripped Trump for downplaying the outbreak as it spread across America:

Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky endorsed the delay of the Summer Games in Tokyo until 2021:

And Italians continue sharing heartbreaking warnings: 

Videos of the day

Seth Meyers and his team shared a few jokes Seth can’t tell, all from the safety of their homes: 

Trevor Noah has fully settled into his new “Daily Social Distancing Show”:

Jimmy Fallon video chatted with John Legend: