with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro

Debbie Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said that federal scientists reviewed a dozen different models for how this pandemic might play out before constructing their own. Using techniques learned from tracking HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, she explained, “we went back to the drawing board over the last week or two and worked from the ground up.”

Simultaneously, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, led by professor Chris Murray, was doing something similar. “When we finished, the other group that was working in parallel, which we didn't know about, IHME and Chris Murray ended up at the same numbers,” Birx said in the Rose Garden on Sunday evening.

President Trump said he was persuaded to extend social distancing guidelines through the end of April, retreating from his goal of seeing churches packed with people on Easter, after seeing a presentation about the government’s modeling from Birx and Tony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” said Trump. “Easter should be the peak number, and it should start coming down and hopefully very substantially from that point.”

The government is keeping its own projections private, but Birx twice said that people can study Murray’s work to better understand White House considerations. “If you go on his website, you can see the concern that we had with the growing number of potential fatalities,” she told reporters.

Murray predicts that April 15 will be when the demand for hospital resources reaches its peak nationally. On that day, he estimates that the country’s hospitals will be short 61,509 beds and 15,103 intensive care units – and need 26,753 ventilators. His current projection is that 2,271 Americans will die on April 15 alone. The number would then begin to go down slightly each day. By Aug. 4, he projects that the coronavirus will have killed 82,141 people throughout the country. Murray’s website has a user-friendly dashboard with state-by-state breakdowns and charts showing all these metrics.

I spoke by phone with Murray about his modeling a few hours after Trump’s news conference. He’s pleased by the president’s decision to extend the guidelines, but he predicts that there will be at least one more extension. In fact, his model is premised on the assumption that federal guidelines for social distancing, designed to slow the spread of the virus, will stay in effect until the end of May. “That’s what we believe is going to happen because nobody’s really going to want to let up,” he explained. “Even if the deaths are trending down nationally, some states may still be going up.”

Trump said it is unlikely that he will relax the social distancing guidelines for anywhere in the country before April 30, even states with relatively few cases. He also did not rule out extending the federal guidance into May, but he said he hopes not to do so. “We can expect that by June 1 we will be well on our way to recovery,” Trump said.

About 2,500 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus in the one month and a day since the first fatality was reported on American soil. There are now about 141,000 confirmed U.S. cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Globally, there are more than 720,000 cases and about 34,000 deaths.

Murray said social distancing will probably need to stay in place unless mass testing, with rapid results, becomes available nationwide. “Then possibly you could have something in May that is a hybrid of mass screening and letting people go back to work that are testing negative on a regular basis,” he said.

As she cited Murray’s work, Birx noted that there’s a vast gulf between the best-case and worst-case scenarios. “It’s anywhere in the model between 80,000 and 160,000 [Americans] – maybe even potentially 200,000 people – succumbing to this,” she said. “That’s with mitigation. In that model, they make the full assumption that we continue doing exactly what we're doing, but even better, in every metro area.”

Murray compared predicting how the coronavirus will spread to trying to forecast the weather. “It's hard to predict the weather,” he told me. “It's going to be hard to predict this epidemic, and so the best we can do is just keep updating with the best information available at the point that different leaders are making decisions.”

He updated the numbers on his website early this morning. Starting today, he plans to update the data daily based on new inputs. “Every day brings more information about whether a place is on more of a New York trajectory or a Washington state or California trajectory, where the growth is very slow,” he said. “Every day that we get more data, we'll get better predictions.”

Doctors Maggiore and Pizzicannella filmed inside their hospital in Chieti, Italy, where patients are struggling to recover from the coronavirus. (The Washington Post)

Murray said his modeling will get sharper as he gets more data. “The thing that we are watching very anxiously is what happens in the next three or four days in Lombardy and Liguria in Italy,” he said. “We should be seeing the peak [of new deaths] if the social distancing model is right. There’s lots of things that can come in or out, but right now is really the critical moment to see. If that keeps growing, then we'll have to revise the models.”

Murray, who attended Harvard for both his undergraduate studies and medical school, earned his doctorate in international health from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After holding a senior post at the World Health Organization, he taught at the Harvard School of Public Health and then moved in 2007 to the University of Washington.

He and his team in Seattle have taken all the data they can get from Italy, Spain, France, China and anywhere else that has localized breakdowns by province or state. “We believe the data on deaths, but we don't believe the data on number of cases basically almost anywhere because of variability in testing protocols,” he said. “We basically create in the background a thousand different models, and then that's just the mean of those models. We have two different modeling strategies. They're a little bit different, and within each of those, we draw 500 different versions based on some of the uncertainties in the parameters. And then we put them all together, and we take the mean of those.”

Murray said the state-by-state models are designed to be as useful as possible for hospital leaders so they can prepare the resources and staff for the patient influx coming their way. “It doesn't address an issue of a second wave coming back in the fall,” he said. “We've got to get through this first.”

President Trump announced March 29 that social distancing guidelines will continue until April 30, adding that covid-19 deaths will probably peak in two weeks. (The Washington Post)
Trump is moving the goal posts as he seeks to manage expectations.

Fauci said Sunday morning that he would guess there would be between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the United States, and “millions” of cases, based on the models that assume there will be efforts to mitigate the spread of the contagion. “But I don't want to be held to that,” he said on CNN. “Whenever the models come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario. Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I've never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst case actually came out.”

Speaking in the Rose Garden a few hours later, though, Trump said 16 separate times that 2.2 million Americans could die if he didn’t act. He claimed that he had just heard this “most comprehensive” number for the first time earlier in the day. Then he claimed that anything fewer than 200,000 coronavirus casualties would constitute success. “And, so, if we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 – it's a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000 [dead] – so we have between 100,000 and 200,000, we all together have done a very good job,” Trump said. 

That’s a breathtaking statement. Compare how much the president’s tune has changed since Feb. 26, just over a month ago: “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low,” Trump said. “When you have 15 people, and the 15 [cases] within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

The 2.2 million figure Trump kept invoking was the worst-case scenario in a paper published two full weeks ago by epidemiologist Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London for what might happen if the United States took no drastic action at all. Many prominent commentators on the right, including Fox News host Laura Ingraham and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, have been accusing Ferguson over the last 14 days of overstating the danger with the 2.2 million number. Birx suggested last week that it was overly alarmist. But Trump seized upon the dramatic worst-case projection to justify extending the restrictions. “The question is, from a lot of my friends, ‘Why don't we just wing it?’ …  And I kept asking, and we did models now,” Trump said. “Finally, we got these models in, and you hear about the 2.2 million people who would have died.”

Trump appears to have been moved to back away from his Easter timeline as much by an unnamed friend going into a coma from the virus and the horrifying visuals he’s seen on television from Elmhurst Hospital, near where he grew up in Queens, as the statistical models and warnings of experts. The president became animated as he recounted seeing body bags on television in the hallways of the hospital. “I have been watching them bring in trailer trucks … because they can't handle the bodies. There are so many of them,” Trump said. “I have seen things I've never seen before. I mean, I've seen them, but I’ve seen them on television in faraway lands. I have never seen them in our country.”

The cascading domestic fallout

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on March 29 said it was "good news" that the rate at which coronavirus is doubling in his state is slowing. (Reuters)
New York continues to be Ground Zero.

The state eclipsed 1,000 confirmed deaths related to the coronavirus on Sunday. At a news conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) predicted the death toll there would eventually reach the “thousands.” He announced the number of state cases is approaching 60,000, almost half the national total. Howard Zucker, the New York state health commissioner, said the state’s fatality rate is hovering around 1 percent. “Nonetheless, Cuomo said, the latest data showed some reasons for optimism: The rate at which the number of confirmed cases double has slowed to every six days compared with every two days in mid-March. The number of people discharged daily from hospitals who were infected is also climbing, meaning people continue to recover,” Ian Duncan and Felicia Sonmez report. “Cuomo said he would extend through April 15 an executive order mandating that all nonessential workers stay home and that people maintain a six-foot distance in public.” 

  • An 86-year-old woman died following a confrontation at a Brooklyn hospital in an attack police say may have been motivated by a social distancing-related dispute. The woman and her alleged attacker, 32-year-old Cassandra Lundy, were both patients at the hospital sitting in the emergency room hallway when Lundy said the elderly woman got too close to her. Lundy allegedly shoved the woman to the ground, which caused her to lose consciousness. (Meagan Flynn)
  • A high school assistant principal in Queens died of complications from the virus. Joseph Lewinger, 42, had been a teacher, basketball coach and athletic director during his time at a private all-girls school. (New York Daily News)
  • A Bronx school told teachers to hide a coronavirus case, saying they could be terminated for warning students to stay away. (New York Post)
  • The Queens district attorney, Melinda Katz, tested positive. (Daily News)
  • Amazon workers plan on striking at a fulfillment center in Staten Island today to demand the company close the facility after an employee tested positive. The Post is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. (CNBC)
  • New Rochelle’s “patient zero” is no longer hospitalized. Lewis Garbuz, 50, became critically ill on March 2. In the wake of his illness, Cuomo declared a “containment zone” for a mile around Garbuz's synagogue. (Daily News)

“Cuomo’s crisis management has earned plenty of rave reviews, but as the state becomes the worldwide coronavirus epicenter, it’s unclear whether anyone will ultimately be seen as a winner,” Sarah Ellison and Ben Terris write in a new profile of the governor. “While the governor has been talking about the virus since January, would he not have saved more lives if at the end of February he hadn’t made reassuring statements such as: ‘This situation is not a situation that should cause undue fear’?”

This virus is afflicting Americans of all ages.
  • A choir practice in Mount Vernon, Wash., turned deadly after 60 members attended a practice session. Forty-five have now been diagnosed with covid-19 or are ill with the symptoms. At least three have been hospitalized. Two are dead. People who were at the rehearsal told the Los Angeles Times nobody there was coughing, sneezing or appeared ill. They all brought their own sheet music and avoided direct contact.
  • Country singer Joe Diffie, 61, died from complications of the virus. (CNN)
  • Folk singer-songwriter John Prine, 73, is in critical condition, his family announced.
  • April Dunn, a 33-year-old staffer for Louisiana's governor, died from covid-19 complications. (The Hill)
  • Michigan State Rep. Isaac Robinson, 44, a Detroit Democrat, died from what's suspected to be covid-19. (Crains Detroit)
  • CBS veteran journalist Maria Mercader, 54, died from the virus in a New York hospital. She was a cancer survivor who had been at the network since 1987. (CBS)
  • An Illinois infant who tested positive died, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday, becoming the youngest person in the country believed to have succumbed to the illness. (BuzzFeed)
Health systems across the country are girding for the worst.

Retired employees from the University of Washington’s Medical Center are coming back to work to bolster the ranks as the outbreak overwhelms the hospital’s staff. This includes many who are over the age of 60. “Nurses — we just step up,” Carolyn Grant, 63, told the Seattle Times.

  • In Miami, health-care workers at the city’s VA hospital are being told to reuse one surgical mask for a week at a time starting today. (Miami Herald)
  • Doctors in the Kansas City region lack safety gear to safely treat victims. About half of Missouri’s hospitals report they have shortages. Hospitals in Kansas are scrambling to find supplies. (Kansas City Star)
  • California had mobile hospitals and a ventilator stockpile after the 2006 avian flu outbreak. But the ambitious effort was shut down in 2011 for budgetary reasons. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Emergency room doctors throughout the country are sharing raw, unfiltered glimpses into their lives on the front lines with online posts. (Allyson Chiu)
Covid-19 has killed more than 50 people in the D.C. region, with 16 deaths on Sunday.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order today that prohibits residents from leaving home, except for trips considered essential, such as venturing out for food and medicine. “The virus is going to dictate the time frame, and we’re going to follow the advice of the scientists and doctors,” the Republican said on Sunday. “In two weeks, around Easter, we’re going to be looking a lot more like New York.”

“Outbreaks at nursing homes and eldercare facilities in Virginia and Maryland contributed to the spike, with Maryland also reporting its largest single-day increase in known infections with 246 new cases,” Kyle Swenson, Rebecca Tan and Laura Vozzella report. "Trump declared the District a ‘major disaster area,’ allowing it to receive emergency federal funding." The total number of cases in Maryland stood at 1,240 last night, with 891 cases in Virginia and 405 in the District, bringing the region’s total to 2,536.

  • A Richmond-area long-term-care facility has become the largest known outbreak in the region. Thirty-seven residents and six health-care workers have tested positive at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center. Eight individuals connected with the center have died.
  • An eldercare facility in Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore, represented the county’s largest single-day increase, with 72 new cases, bringing its total to 82.
  • Two more D.C. police officers tested positive, bringing the number of known cases to five in the force of 3,800. Two more D.C. firefighters also tested positive, bringing the department’s total to 14.
  • The Metro transit system said seven of its employees have tested positive, including one who is hospitalized. Metro said it will begin keeping the first rail car on eight-car trains vacant as a buffer between operators and passengers.
  • Five inmates tested positive in the D.C. jail. (Keith Alexander)
  • Liberty University in Virginia, which partly reopened its campus despite criticism, confirmed that a recent graduate tested positive for the virus while at least one student is waiting for test results. At least four others are self-quarantining. (Donna St. George)
More updates from the front lines:
  • A federal prison in Louisiana has exploded with cases. One inmate died on Saturday, a guard was admitted into a hospital ICU, and another 30 inmates and staff tested positive. (Kimberly Kindy)
  • Illinois prison officials released at least six moms, who were jailed with their babies, after seven inmates and six staffers in the state’s prison system tested positive. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Cruise ships and hotels cancelled orders, so Gourmet Table Skirts & Linens – one of the last U.S.-based textile manufacturers – is making medical masks. (Arelis Hernández)
  • An infected, pro-Trump coastal community in Florida is at the emotional nexus of the debate over reopening the economy. “We’ve survived hurricanes, we plowed through them. We had the BP oil spill, and we plowed through it,” a local restaurant owner told Cleve Wootson. “But this is a tougher issue because there’s no end date. I don’t know if this is a sustainable business model. This is a survival business model."
  • Work on the new stadium for the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers will continue even after a construction worker at the site tested positive. (Sports Illustrated)
  • Tom Brady and wide receiver Chris Godwin, his new Tampa teammate, are working on their timing via FaceTime because they cannot practice with each other. (Cindy Boren)

More on the botched federal response

Testing for the novel coronavirus is a crucial part of slowing the disease's spread. Here’s how the United States failed to provide tests that worked quickly. (The Washington Post)
New details keep emerging on how the administration messed up testing.

Our Fact Checker team has reconstructed events that left the government blind to the virus’s spread, and they examined how those errors opened the door for 11 confirmed cases to balloon to more than 100,000 in less than six weeks. “The CDC designed its own test. The FDA picked a conservative testing strategy, allowing labs to use only the CDC test. When those tests failed, neither a new strategy nor a new test was available for more than two weeks. [HHS Secretary Alex] Azar failed to push the agencies to change direction, and the president didn’t intervene,” Meg Kelly, Sarah Cahlan and Elyse Samuels report

As Trump said the virus was under control, local leaders faced confusion and chaos. 

The Post interviewed 33 emergency managers, public health officials, local leaders and consultants in 14 communities nationwide. “Across the country, state and local officials, frustrated by what they described as a lack of leadership in the White House and an absence of consistent guidance from federal agencies, took steps on their own to prepare for the pandemic and protect their communities. In some cases, these actions preceded federal directives by days or even weeks as local officials sifted through news reports and other sources of information to educate themselves," Nicole Dungca, Jenn Abelson and John Sullivan report. “In other instances, cities and counties wrestled with how to handle individuals who tested positive or were placed under mandatory quarantine, and in the end, who was going to pay for it all. With scant information about the virus and no warnings against large gatherings, cities such as New Orleans moved ahead in February with massive celebrations that may have turned them into hotspots for the virus.”

The Justice Department is probing stock trades by lawmakers after coronavirus briefings.

“The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades,” CNN reports. “Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, has previously said that he relied only on public news reports as he decided to sell between $628,000 and $1.7 million in stocks on February 13. Earlier this month, he asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review the trades given ‘the assumption many could make in hindsight,’ he said at the time. … 

“GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and her husband sold 27 stocks valued between $1.275 million and $3.1 million from January 24 through February 14 … They also purchased three stocks at a value of $450,000-$1 million, including shares in Citrix, a software company that's gained approximately 15% in value since Loeffler and her husband bought the stock last month. Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat in December and was sworn in in early January, has denied having any knowledge of the stock sales, saying she uses a third-party financial adviser and did not learn of the trades until later. Loeffler's husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. A Loeffler spokesperson confirmed Loeffler has not been contacted by the FBI…”

The FDA issued emergency use authorizations for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

Those are the malaria drugs championed by Trump for coronavirus treatment, despite a lack of proof they work. The agency allowed the drugs to be "donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible," according to a Health and Human Services statement, per Politico. The FDA also allowed an Ohio technology development company to sterilize the protective masks worn by health workers after pressure from Gov. Mike DeWine (R), per the Columbus Dispatch.

Congress is already preparing a fourth coronavirus bill. This one will take more time.

“Legislators from both parties, administration officials, economists, think tanks and lobbyists are already roughing out the contours of yet another emergency-spending package—perhaps larger than the last—to try to keep the coronavirus crisis from turning into a 21st-century Great Depression. Many expect the debate to begin in earnest by late April,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The ideas being floated include extending last week’s package to make the benefits last longer, as well as plugging in likely holes in the hastily assembled bill. One item in particular cited by both Trump and Democratic leaders is a desire for more money to shore up state government budgets collapsing under lost tax revenues and new spending demands. … 

"The main focus of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is on making sure the phase-three legislation is implemented properly and hasn’t yet pivoted to talks regarding future stimulus packages. … ‘My guess is that this bill won’t wear well over time, and Congress isn’t going to be inclined do another big package,’ says Andy Laperriere, a Washington policy analyst with Cornerstone Macro, an investor advisory firm. ‘There will be fraud, companies getting money going into bankruptcy, things that people on the left and right won’t like.’”

The U.S. government tried, and failed, to build a ventilator fleet. 

“Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of ventilators,” the New York Times reports. “Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway. And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators. That failure delayed the development of an affordable ventilator by at least half a decade, depriving hospitals, states and the federal government of the ability to stock up. The federal government started over with another company in 2014, whose ventilator was approved only last year and whose products have not yet been delivered.”

Quote of the day

“When they disrespect me, they're disrespecting the government,” Trump griped during the news conference, referring to governors who he believes are insufficiently “appreciative” of federal efforts to help states. 

L'état, c'est moi. 

The growing global fallout

As virus cases explode in Iran, U.S. sanctions are hindering access to drugs and medical equipment. 

“The broad U.S. restrictions on Iran’s banking system and the embargo on its oil exports have limited Tehran’s ability to finance and purchase essential items from abroad, including drugs as well as the raw materials and equipment needed to manufacture medicines domestically,” Erin Cunningham reports. “Iranian medical workers and global public health experts say it is not possible to determine exactly how much U.S. sanctions have affected Iran’s capacity to fight a virus that by official counts has infected more than 35,000 Iranians and killed at least 2,500 — some estimates put the toll far higher — while spawning outbreaks in other countries. But they say it is clear that the Iranian health-care system is being deprived of equipment necessary to save lives and prevent wider infection.”

In Latin America, the virus is colliding with maid culture – and the results are deadly. 

“Every weekday morning for 14 years, housekeeper Bety Santos has left her Rio favela to take a crowded bus to the wealthy seaside district of Barra da Tijuca. But the family she serves there now frightens her. It’s the rich — those who can afford to travel or study abroad — who brought the novel coronavirus to Latin America. But it’s the poor, she believes, who will pay,” Terrence McCoy and Mary Beth Sheridan report. “Imported by the wealthy, the virus is now reaching into impoverished communities, at times through domestic employment, infecting people with fewer resources to combat the disease — with sometimes deadly results. Rio’s first death was a maid who is believed to have caught it from her employer.” 

  • Brazil is turning some of its soccer stadiums – including the famed Maracanã – into hospitals and vaccine centers as it prepares for a surge in cases. (Cindy Boren)
  • The total number of confirmed cases in Spain now exceeds China’s reported figures, as Spanish authorities said there were more than 6,000 new cases within 24 hours. Spain also announced 812 new deaths, bringing the total to 7,340 – more than twice the death toll reported by China. (Pamela Rolfe and Rick Noack)
  • In London, thousands of airline employees who have been ground have been offered volunteer work in the city’s makeshift Nightingale Hospital and other sites planned to open across the country. Virgin Atlantic said it would be contact 4,000 employees about the opportunity, and easyJet said it has contacted all of its 9,000 Britain-based staff, many of whom are already trained in first aid. (Jennifer Hassan)
  • Amid border closures, European couples separated by the virus can meet across makeshift barriers. (Rick Noack)
  • The biggest lockdown in human history is happening in India, where 1.3 billion people have been ordered to stay home, unleashing chaos. A total shutdown of trains and buses has prevented countless migrant workers from returning to their villages, forcing them into makeshift shelters or open fields where they are subsisting on food handouts, and hand-washing and social distancing are impossible. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Indian authorities hosed down migrant workers with disinfectant in the middle of roads. (Niha Masih and Tania Dutta)
Japan is using targeted testing while South Korea went for mass testing. 

We still don’t know which approach is more successful. “South Korea has won global praise for swiftly making coronavirus tests widely available and has already tested more than 394,000 people. It has found 9,583 infected people. Japan, a country whose population of about 127 million is more than twice that of South Korea, has conducted more than 48,000 tests on approximately 28,000 people and found 1,724 cases,” Simon Denyer and Carolyn Johnson report. “For weeks, Japan has been gripped with a debate. Is the country seeing fewer infections than South Korea simply because it is testing fewer people? Is the Japanese government marshaling its resources wisely, or burying its head in the sand?”

The virus is giving Russia and China new opportunities to spread disinformation.

“As always when it comes to its relations with the West, Moscow’s main currency is disinformation, and it spends lavishly. A European Union document, obtained by Reuters, finds that Russia’s state-controlled media has used the public health crisis to undertake an ambitious disinformation campaign in the West whose goal is to sow the seeds of panic and distrust," the Post Editorial Board notes. "The falsehoods, conveyed on Twitter and YouTube, among other platforms, blamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for concocting the virus, or said it was a bioweapon devised by the Pentagon. … Russia is not the only offender. The spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, has cast doubt on the fact that the virus originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan, suggesting baselessly that it had been introduced there by the U.S. Army. … The [CDC], alarmed at the swirl of rumors, unfounded speculation and lies, has pleaded for the public not to share it. Unfortunately, Russia’s meddling in 2016 proved that America is fertile ground for such information wars.”

  • As Moscow initiated mandatory self-isolation this morning, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called on regional governors to extend the system across the country. Russia registered a sharp rise in cases over the past few days, with 1,534 cases and eight deaths. (Robyn Dixon)
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping was seen in public without a face mask for the first time since the outbreak began in Wuhan. A nationalist tabloid controlled by the ruling Communist Party shared a photograph of Xi with his bare face. (Adam Taylor)

Social media speed read

Twitter has become a repository of scenes from our horrifying new reality:

An Arkansas doctor who has been treating coronavirus patients lost his home to a tornado: 

Amid the worst crisis of his presidency, Trump made time to tweet about the British royal family:

During last night's White House news conference, Trump got testy when a PBS reporter directly quoted something he said last week:

This week’s New Yorker cover offers a reminder that doctors have families, too:

And a future service dog is already providing some relief to doctors in Denver:

Videos of the day

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to offer an apology, or even an explanation, for why he downplayed the seriousness of the contagion just two weeks ago:

Like other late-night hosts, John Oliver delivered a monologue from his home, “a blank, white void full of sad facts”:

And musicians continue to perform virtually: