with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro

President Trump tweeted shortly after receiving an intelligence briefing yesterday that “Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq.” He warned that “Iran will pay a very heavy price” if that happens.

Washington’s confrontation with Tehran – the storming of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iranian-backed militiamen, the strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the retaliatory missile launches – was only three months ago.

Now, every day feels like a year when our neighbors are dying in droves from the novel coronavirus and our economy stands on the precipice of a possible depression. The Labor Department announced this morning than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, shattering the previous week’s record of 3.3 million new claims. Economists say the number is likely far larger and will continue to grow as closures continue through at least the end of April.

The United States has 216,722 confirmed cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, with 5,137 reported deaths. The federal government says 100,000 fatalities in the coming months is probably a best-case scenario. Worldwide, there are 951,901 confirmed cases and 48,284 reported deaths.

As Americans turn inward and the U.S. government becomes preoccupied by domestic considerations, the world remains a tinderbox. This pandemic could turn out to be a match that lights a brushfire, fueling strife within other countries and raising the probability of wars. There are blinking red lights that the world is on the verge of becoming a more dangerous place.

The United Nations is sounding grim warnings.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres believes the coronavirus is the gravest crisis facing the world since his institution was founded in 1945. “Because it is a combination, on one hand, of a disease that represents a threat to everybody in the world and, second, because it has an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past,” he said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday. “The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is, indeed, the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”

Signaling how long the virus is expected to continue to pose a problem, the United Nations global climate summit that was scheduled to take place in November in Scotland has been postponed to a to-be-determined date in 2021.

The leaders of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization also warned in a rare joint statement that the restrictions on trade and movement could soon lead to food shortages. “When acting to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain,” they wrote. “We learned from previous crises that such measures are particularly damaging for low-income, food-deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organizations to procure food for those in desperate need.”

Countries have already started imposing restrictions on food exports. Border closures in Europe have increased anxieties that fresh produce grown in western Europe, but historically harvested by eastern European migrant workers, will rot in the fields this season.

The developing world is deeply vulnerable.

“Peru tried to do everything right. Officials declared an early national lockdown — and backed it up with 16,000 arrests. Yet confirmed cases [surged] nearly 60 percent since last weekend. In Egypt, observers say a repressive government is vastly undercounting the infected. In Brazil, where the president has dubbed Latin America’s largest outbreak a ‘fantasy,’ numbers are skyrocketing,” Anthony Faiola, Sudarsan Raghavan, Max Bearak and Terrence McCoy report. “Epidemiologists and other public health experts say the coronavirus is poised to spread dangerously south, engulfing developing nations already plagued by fraying health-care systems, fragile governments and impoverished populations for whom social distancing can be practically impossible. Add in the extreme population density and poor sanitary conditions in vast urban slums, and experts warn that the pain of the pandemic is about to tilt quickly from richer nations to poorer ones. … 

“Billions of people in Africa, South Asia and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean work in the informal economy, living life on the margins with little to no social safety net. … In Bolivia, meanwhile, a precarious transitional government has struggled with limited capacity for testing, averaging only about 12 results per day. … In socialist Venezuela — where broken hospitals struggle with a lack of power or water, acute shortages of medicine and supplies, and nonfunctioning equipment — experts estimate there are fewer than 200 functioning ICU beds for a nation of roughly 30 million. Critics say the government is undercounting the infected; at least four journalists have been arrested for reporting on suspected cases. … Kenya’s dusk-to-dawn curfew — intended to encourage social distancing — has seen security forces unleash beatings and tear gas, and counterproductively corral detainees into groups.”

This pandemic could topple fragile governments in Africa.

Senior officials in several other gerontocracies have tested positive for the coronavirus. “In Burkina Faso, a country that has experienced more than its fair share of instability in recent years—and which is currently struggling against an insurgency—the ministers of foreign affairs, education, the interior, and mines have all tested positive,” writes Africa expert Nic Cheeseman, a professor of democracy and international development at the University of Birmingham, in Foreign Policy. “In Nigeria, one of the most economically and politically important countries on the continent, Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to 77-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari, has come down with the disease. … Along with the fact that some of the main providers of foreign aid are now preoccupied with their own financial crises, there is a serious risk that politically and economically weak states will face a perfect storm of elite deaths, debt, mass unemployment, and social unrest.”

“Liberia, in West Africa, has a population equivalent to Louisiana. But according to one expert, there are just three ventilators for the entire country. Beyond the lucky three who get them, all Liberian coronavirus patients who need a ventilator to live will die,” Brian Klaas notes.

Terrorists see opportunities to strike American interests.

Messages from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have asserted that the coronavirus is intended as punishment for non-Muslims. ISIS urged followers in its newsletter to show no mercy and launch attacks, while al-Qaeda issued a statement on Tuesday urging non-Muslims use their time in quarantine to learn about Islam, the Associated Press reports:

“There are signs elsewhere that the U.S., British and other militaries are pulling back because of the virus, leaving a possible opening for the extremists. That’s a danger in Africa’s hot spots of the Sahel, the Lake Chad region and Somalia, where the U.S. military already worried allies in recent months by contemplating cuts … The British army mission in Kenya, which provides counterterrorism training and other skills, this week announced that all army families are returning to the U.K. because of the virus. … 

“African military units, already stretched thin and under attack, are likely to take protective measures as the virus threatens their ranks. In Nigeria, which has struggled against the Boko Haram extremist group and an assertive IS-linked offshoot, the military has called for suspending much of its activities including large gatherings and training. A leaked memo signed by Nigerian army’s policy chief says its vehicles might have to be used for mass burials or transferring the sick to hospitals as the virus spreads. While security forces are targets, under-guarded prisons could be too.”

The International Crisis Group expressed concern in a statement this week that the pandemic will undermine security cooperation aimed at combatting radical Islamic extremism: “It is almost certainly correct that COVID-19 will handicap domestic security efforts and international counter-ISIS cooperation, allowing the jihadists to better prepare spectacular terror attacks.”

At the top of last night’s White House coronavirus briefing, Trump announced alongside Attorney General Bill Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he’s ordering an expansion of counternarcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere and sending more ships and planes to U.S. Southern Command in Florida to help. “We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives,” Trump said.

Refugees are especially susceptible. 

A study released yesterday by two research groups, the Geneva-based ACAPS nonprofit and the London-based International Rescue Committee, illustrated how the rate of transmission of the virus in refugee camps in Syria, Greece and Bangladesh could be faster and higher than on cruise ships. “The rapid spread of covid-19 on the Diamond Princess showed how the virus thrives in confined spaces, but for millions of displaced people their conditions are far more cramped and poorly serviced and the risks are far deadlier,” said IRC senior policy adviser Marcus Skinner.

“The tip of the iceberg may be showing: On Tuesday, a woman in Greece’s Ritsona refugee camp, outside Athens, tested positive after giving birth in a hospital in the capital,” Miriam Berger reports. “Ritsona is smaller than Europe’s largest camp, Moria, on Lesbos Island, which houses 20,000 people but was designed for only 3,000. On March 24, Bangladesh confirmed its first case in Cox’s Bazar, a coastal city adjacent to camps housing about 1 million Rohingya from Myanmar. Meanwhile, in Syria, experts are concerned that the government is severely underreporting cases in the war-torn country, where about 6 million people are internally displaced, according to the United Nations.”

Refugees International said on Monday that there are currently 70 million displaced people around the world – refugees, asylum seekers and those internally uprooted by war and other crises — who are at risk of getting the coronavirus and among the least able to access care.

A doctor who showed Russian President Vladimir Putin around a hospital for coronavirus patients said March 31 that he tested positive for the virus. (Reuters)
Authoritarians are capitalizing on the contagion.

“Autocrats have used emergencies to concentrate power since history began, so it can be no surprise that the novel coronavirus pandemic has been seized by strongmen such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha. What’s remarkable is where the most bald and far-reaching political coup has taken place: in Hungary, a nominal democracy in the center of Europe that is a member of both NATO and the European Union,” the editorial board notes in today’s newspaper. “On Monday, the country’s parliament, which is controlled by the right-wing nationalist party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, voted to grant him the power to ignore existing laws and rule by decree for an unlimited period of time. Parliament itself will cease to function … Elections are suspended until the end of the emergency, which will last until the ‘elimination of the human pandemic’ and ‘its harmful effects’— which could be years.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, another strongman who was democratically elected, threatened violators of his coronavirus lockdown with death. He said in a nationally televised address last night that he gave permission to the police and military to shoot anyone who fights back. Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you,” Duterte said, according to Reuters.

Tensions with Iran continue to simmer on the backburner.

“Iranian-backed militias have become aggressive in attacking U.S. personnel in Iraq, with rocket strikes on military bases occurring more frequently and, for the first time, in broad daylight,” John Wagner and Louisa Loveluck report. “U.S. officials say they are receiving near-daily reports of ‘imminent’ attacks planned against U.S.-linked military or diplomatic facilities. … Trump’s threat comes as the U.S.-led coalition is shrinking and consolidating its force in Iraq, ending its operations in smaller military bases and moving hundreds of troops into larger ones, or abroad. … The Pentagon has beefed up defenses at Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. troops.”

The World Health Organization has estimated that the death toll from the coronavirus in Iran is probably five times as high as the government says. (Official figures put the death toll at 3,160, with 50,468 cases.) “Sweeping U.S. sanctions are hampering Iranian efforts to import medicine and other medical supplies,” Erin Cunningham reported on Sunday. “The tough measures are part of a U.S. ‘maximum pressure campaign’ against Iran, adopted by the Trump administration after it unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.”

Trump was asked during his news conference last night whether he thinks saber-rattling on social media will deter Iran from targeting U.S. troops. He replied that he has hundreds of millions of followers. “Did you know I was No. 1 on Facebook? I just found out I’m No. 1 on Facebook,” the American president said. “I thought that was very nice, for whatever it means.”

The federal response

Keith Mortman produced a 3-D model of the lungs of a patient with covid-19. (The Washington Post)
The federal stockpile of PPE is already depleted.

“The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is running low and is nearly exhausted due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving the Trump administration and the states to compete for personal protective equipment [PPE] in a freewheeling global marketplace rife with profiteering and price-gouging, according to Department of Homeland Security officials involved in the frantic acquisition effort,” Nick Miroff reports. “As coronavirus hot spots flare from coast to coast, the demand for safety equipment … is both immediate and widespread ... Two DHS officials said the stores kept in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Strategic National Stockpile are nearly gone.” Trump confirmed Nick's scoop at last night’s briefing. The president also said he's “looking at” potential flight restrictions between hot spots in the United States, but he said it's difficult to entirely suspend air travel or shut down transportation networks.

  • The Pentagon may provide as many as 100,000 body bags to FEMA for use by civilian authorities. (Bloomberg News)
  • The Navy also plans to remove about 2,700 sailors from an aircraft carrier in Guam afflicted by the coronavirus, as government officials on the island work to secure hotel rooms for them. The announcement came after the leak of a letter from the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt drew attention to the dire situation onboard. (Dan Lamothe)
  • The New England Patriots' plane, stocked with PPE from China, will land in Boston this afternoon. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) will greet the aircraft at Logan Airport with Patriots owner Bob Kraft. (Politico)
Trump's advisers are debating where to send new rapid-response tests from Abbott Labs. 

“Some White House officials want to ship many of the tests, which were approved Friday and can deliver results in five to 13 minutes, to areas where there are fewer cases, such as rural states and parts of the South. But officials in hard-hit areas and some public health experts favor directing them to the outbreak’s current hotspots, arguing that delays in test readings have sidelined many first responders and health-care workers and made it harder to isolate the most contagious patients,” Steven Mufson, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey report. … 

“The lag in delivering test results is taking a toll on communities across the country, depriving them of workers who can respond to medical emergencies and sowing uncertainty among hospital officials deciding what precautions to take. The competition for machines is so intense that governors and mayors have begun personally calling Abbott executives to negotiate orders. In beleaguered Detroit, which now has one of the nation’s highest rates of infection and one of the fastest rising death tolls, Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday that he secured the cellphone number of Miles White -- the chairman and outgoing chief executive of Abbott Labs -- and woke him up Sunday morning to beg for the test." 

Pence said our situation is most comparable to Italy’s.

That's an ominous analogy, because Italy's hospitals are stretched far beyond capacity with 110,000 confirmed infections and more than 13,000 deaths, despite a weeks-long national lockdown. The Wall Street Journal reports that Italy’s coronavirus death toll is far higher than reported: “In the town of Coccaglio, an hour’s drive east of here, the local nursing home lost over a third of its residents in March. None of the 24 people who died there were tested for the new coronavirus. Nor were the 38 people who died in another nursing home in the nearby town of Lodi. These aren’t isolated incidents. … Many people who die from the virus don’t make it to the hospital.”

Thousands of ventilators Trump keeps touting don’t work.

“Trump has repeatedly assured Americans that the federal government is holding 10,000 ventilators in reserve to ship to the hardest-hit hospitals around the nation as they struggle to keep the most critically ill patients alive. But what federal officials have neglected to mention is that an additional 2,109 lifesaving devices are unavailable after the contract to maintain the government’s stockpile lapsed late last summer, and a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its work until late January,” the New York Times reports. 

It was Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, who encouraged Trump to push back against Andrew Cuomo when the New York governor said the state needed 30,000 ventilators. Kushner told Trump that Cuomo was being an alarmist, according to Vanity Fair, which also reports that Trump's friend who went into a coma after getting covid-19 is New York real estate mogul Stan Chera, 78. “Boy, did that hit home. Stan is like one of his best friends,” prominent Trump donor Bill White told the magazine.

New York’s case total has now passed 75,000. The grim milestone was recorded as Cuomo said he had underestimated the situation. “But New York is running out of time, quickly approaching an expected apex of cases. Exactly when that peak will arrive is the ‘$64,000 question,’ Cuomo (D) told reporters this week, saying the range of available models suggested the state had seven to 21 days to prepare for the worst," Ben Guarino and Isaac Stanley-Becker report. “Cuomo said he was looking as far away as China to locate new ventilators, including 17,000 from the epicenter of the virus."

  • The Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York, which oversees the city’s ambulance service, issued new guidance that stops paramedics from taking cardiac arrest victims to the hospital whose hearts can’t be restarted at the scene, per the New York Post.
  • Expelled from their dwellings by fearful landlords or roommates, a growing number of coronavirus patients in New York City are becoming homeless. (The City)
Tony Fauci got a security detail.

The nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, 79, has faced growing threats. “Fauci has become a public target for some right-wing commentators,” Isaac Stanley-Becker, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Devlin Barrett report. “Last month, an article depicting him as an agent of the ‘deep state’ gained nearly 25,000 interactions on Facebook — meaning likes, comments and shares — as it was posted to large pro-Trump groups … A Justice Department official signed paperwork Tuesday authorizing HHS to provide its own security detail to Fauci.” 

  • A locomotive engineer in California was charged with intentionally derailing a train near the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship Mercy because he suspected it was not really there to help with the epidemic. (Los Angeles Times)
  • A restaurant owned by an Asian family in Washington state was vandalized and spray-painted with a racist slur, joining a growing list of attacks against Asian Americans. (Yakima Herald-Republic)
  • A correspondent for the pro-Trump One America News Network ignored safety guidelines and showed up to the White House press room, prompting the Correspondents’ Association to vote to remove OANN from its rotation. The outlet appears to have been given special permission from the White House to be there, in violation of agreed-upon guidelines. (Paul Farhi)
  • The Secret Service signed a $45,000 contract to rent golf carts in Northern Virginia, saying it needs them to protect a “dignitary” in Sterling, which is home to one of Trump’s golf clubs. (David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell)
  • ABC White House correspondent Jon Karl writes in his new book that former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told other aides to read the book “A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness," which argues that in "times of crisis, we are better off being led by mentally ill leaders than by mentally normal ones." (NPR)
Mitch McConnell poured cold water on Nancy Pelosi’s Phase Four plans.

The Senate majority leader said he would move slowly on another stimulus package and ignore the latest efforts by the House speaker to jumpstart talks. “She needs to stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis,” the Kentucky Republican said in an interview with The Washington Post, calling the speaker’s recent comments about a fourth round of virus-related legislation “premature.”

“McConnell said his caution on pursuing infrastructure amid the pandemic is driven by his concerns about how Congress would pay for another wave of federal spending — and his position contrasts with Trump’s plea for a $2 trillion infrastructure package to be part of the next congressional response,” Bob Costa reports. “Pelosi told reporters on a Wednesday conference call that her plan is ‘probably in the same ballpark’ as Trump’s. She outlined a proposal that would add $10 billion for health centers and housing programs on top of the $760 billion infrastructure plan House Democrats unveiled in January, which includes major transportation and water projects.”

  • Social Security recipients who don’t usually file their tax returns no longer need to file them to get stimulus payments, the Treasury Department said, reversing an earlier announcement after a public outcry. (Heather Long)
Democrats are demanding a 9/11 Commission-style inquiry into the outbreak.

"House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) both advocated on Wednesday legislation that would establish a nonpartisan commission to perform such a task," Matt Zapotosky, Miroff and Ian Duncan report. "It’s unclear how much support there would be in the Republican-led Senate for such a commission. Several GOP elected officials and candidates have suggested that the focus should be on investigating China for its lack of candor about the origins of the outbreak there.”

Quote of the day

“A Trump adviser working with White House officials on messaging for the pandemic response said Trump ‘took a gamble’ that warmer weather would cause the virus to dissipate … ‘and got it wrong,’” CNN reports.

The domestic fallout

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on April 1 announced a 30-day stay-at-home order for the state following heavy criticism from state lawmakers. (Reuters)
Social distancing works. The earlier, the better.

That’s the takeaway from prelimnary data from two weeks of stay-at-home orders in California and Washington. “Those states were the first to report community cases of covid-19 and also the first in the nation to mandate residents stay at home to keep physically apart. Analyses from academics and federal and local officials indicate those moves bought those communities precious time — and also may have ‘flattened the curve’ of infections for the long haul,” Geoffrey Fowler, Heather Kelly and Reed Albergotti report. “California and Washington continue to see new cases and deaths, but so far they haven’t come in the spikes seen in parts of the East Coast. Social distancing efforts need to continue for several more weeks to be effective, experts say."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) finally issued a stay-at-home. 

The order requires the state’s “nearly 21 million residents stay indoors unless they are pursuing essential services or activities,” Fred Barbash and Alex Horton report. “DeSantis took heavy criticism from state lawmakers for refusing to enact such an order until this week, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly surpassed 7,000 in the state, including at least 85 deaths as of Tuesday." 

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who for weeks said the state’s outbreak didn’t warrant extreme social-distancing measures, also changed course. He will issue an order today requiring Georgians to stay in their homes for all but essential outings. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
  • Louisiana and Georgia have the six counties with the highest number of virus deaths in the country per capita, according to data presented by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). The number of reported cases across Louisiana rose to 6,424 on Wednesday, with 273 total deaths. New Orleans has 2,270 total cases and 115 deaths. Edwards said his state is on a path to run out of ventilators by April 6. (David Montgomery)
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who issued a broad statewide order for people to stay home, released guidelines allowing religious services in houses of worship to continue in some areas. (Dallas Morning News)
  • California health officials suggested residents use nonmedical face coverings like scarves or shirts. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) ordered that the lights and water be turned off at nonessential businesses not complying with his city’s stay-at-home orders. (Candace Buckner)
  • Tourists brought prosperity to Idaho’s Wood River Valley. They also brought the virus, making the area a hot spot. It is now registering one of the highest infection rates in the country, with 192 cases and two deaths in a country of just 22,000. (Griff Witte)
  • A new Gallup poll found that 9 in 10 Americans would not feel comfortable resuming their normal activities right now. (Colby Itkowitz)
The right is using this crisis to restrict women's reproductive rights.

A growing number of red states are seeking to ban abortions now by classifying the procedure as unnecessary, sparking legal battles nationwide. A federal appeals court ruled this week that Texas, one of the first states to enact such a ban, can temporarily prohibit abortions. In Ohio, a federal judge sided with Planned Parenthood in its suit against the state and ordered the ban to be lifted for two weeks. In Alabama, a district court judge suspended the ban until arguments can be heard from both sides. Lawsuits are pending in Iowa and Oklahoma. (Arelis Hernández and Robert Barnes)

Measures to slow the spread are a nightmare for women facing abuse.

“Victims of domestic violence, most often women, face a double threat: a deadly virus outside and an abuser at home,” Miriam Berger reports. “Calls to a domestic hotline in Spain have jumped 18 percent, and a state-run hotline website has seen a 270-percent increase. … Some governments are trying to address rising need by allotting further funds for services as economic pressures grow. France is paying for hotels and other accommodations as shelters exceed capacity. … But many charities have had to cut down on services or close as economies spiral and demand surges.”

Coronavirus cases in the D.C. region surpassed 4,000. 

“The region has had 82 covid-related deaths so far, 11 in the District, 34 in Maryland and 37 in Virginia,” Rebecca Tan, Fenit Nirappil, Kevin Uhrmacher, Gabriel Florit and Danielle Rindler report. Our team is keeping a record of area deaths here.

  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said he's preparing for the state’s caseload to peak sometime in the next four to eight weeks.
  • Maryland will pay essential state employees more money for working during the pandemic. The state plans to spend $3.7 million on boosting pay for about 15,000 employees.
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said that she will “probably” make an announcement in the next two weeks on whether school closures will continue past April 24.
  • Jail officials are scrambling to reduce the risk as inmates continue testing positive.
  • A flurry of cases were reported at D.C.’s public psychiatric hospital and its homeless shelters, leading to quarantine measures and calls to improve protections for workers.

The human toll of covid-19

With New York hospitals overwhelmed by covid-19, the Jacob K. Javits Center is being converted by the Army Corps of Engineers into a 3,000-bed medical facility. (The Washington Post)
The contagion continues to kill people of all ages.
  • A six-week-old baby from Hartford, Conn., became one of the youngest-known people to die from the disease. (Hartford Courant)
  • Riley Rumrill, 31, who had asthma but was described as healthy and sturdy by his family, became the youngest Massachusetts resident to die of the virus. (Boston Globe)
  • Adam Schlesinger, the prolific singer-songwriter and co-founder of the rock band Fountains of Wayne, died at 52. He was on a ventilator for the last week. (Emily Yahr)
  • Kevin Thomas Duffy, the federal judge who presided over decades of high-profile trials in Manhattan and oversaw the World Trade Center bombing trial, died at 87. (NYT)
  • Ellis Marsalis Jr., a New Orleans jazz piano legend and patriarch of one of the city’s great musical families, died at 85. (Times-Picayune)
  • Larrice Anderson, a New Orleans nurse who was treating coronavirus patients, tested positive and died at 46. (Nola.com)
  • Sterling Matthews, of Chester, Va., went to the hospital on March 23 seeking to be tested for the virus, but he was told he had pneumonia and sent home. His health deteriorated, so he went back to the hospital, where he tested positive. He died Tuesday at 60. (Laura Vozzella)
  • Maria Linda Villanueva Sun moved with her Army husband in October to Newport News, Va. She flew to California in early March to pick up some items left behind. When she got back, she thought she had the flu. But it was the coronavirus. She's dead at 61. (Vozzella)
  • A University of Arkansas ethics professor shared a moving goodbye to his father, Donald John Pijanowski, who passed away from the virus at 87. No family members were allowed in the hospital to say goodbye during his last days.
“These past few weeks have been some of the most heart-wrenching in my life," writes physician Danielle Stansky.

“Coding a patient before I even knew her name. Telling families they can’t be with their loved ones. Watching a healthy 28-year-old man with covid-19 become so sick that only machines keep him alive. It is exhausting, and by no means does it feel heroic,” writes the emergency medicine resident physician in New York City. "People often ask me, ‘Should I really be worried?’ The answer is yes. … And as much as I don’t like to admit it, I am scared for myself.”

“I feel like we’re being sent to slaughter,” said Christina Norstein, a nurse at a Bronx hospital. 

“Ms. Norstein is an intensive-care nurse at Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses campus in the Bronx,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “In the last few weeks, the 57-year-old Ms. Norstein and other nurses say they have seen freezer trucks out back for dead bodies; four to five patients dying every emergency-room shift; the loudspeaker frequently booming out ‘codes’ for patients whose hearts or breathing stopped. Colleagues who were healthy one day fell critically ill the next. Despite multiple alarms raised by workers in the past two months, she and other nurses say the hospital system stumbled in creating protocols to prevent the disease’s spread and is sending its workers out to the battlefield underprepared. … Many nurses and doctors have symptoms, like dry coughs, but are being denied tests and remain working. … ‘I feel overwhelmed with sadness,’ said Ms. Norstein, who lives in Pawling, N.Y., with her husband and two of her four children. ‘It is not just sadness for the patients, it is for their families, for my family. It is for the possibility that I may very well get this.’”

More than 130,000 doctors have signed an open letter urging Congress to take action on their safety, seeking personal and legal protection while working on the front lines. The doctors want Congress to ensure that Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines are upheld during the pandemic, per Candace Buckner.

A colleague returned from Thailand to the U.K. in January with a fever of 103. She was never tested.

“‘We won’t be triggering protocol because you haven’t been to China,’ the doctor said. I gazed back at him, attached to an IV and wheezing into a face mask, the pain in my throat so bad it hurt to even contemplate a reply. A bowl filled with green mucus and specks of blood sat on the table next to me. I’d just returned from a two-week trip to Thailand,” Jennifer Hassan, a London-based social media editor, writes in a first-person account of her ordeal.

Social media speed read

A doctor in New York is being forced to work with a rain poncho:

The cookbook author, cooking-show host and lifestyle guru known as the Barefoot Contessa has ordered us to mix up a gallon of Cosmopolitans and drink the entire thing at midday:

Videos of the day

The city of Albany in southwest Georgia has become an unlikely coronavirus hotspot. The local hospital is scrambling to provide care, and officials are warning other small communities across the U.S. to prepare for the worst:

The city of Albany in southwest Georgia has become an unlikely coronavirus hotspot, leaving the local hospital scrambling to provide care. (The Washington Post)

Stephen Colbert thinks America’s obsession with Andrew Cuomo has gone too far:

Seth Meyers took a look at the ways Trump has revised his previous statements on the virus:

And here’s a bear doing his part to keep things in order: