The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Coronavirus keeps Joe Biden a bystander, even as Bernie Sanders endorses him

with Mariana Alfaro

The Democratic presidential nominating contest did not end with a brokered convention in Milwaukee. Instead, the denouement involved a friendly invitation to play a game of chess.

Bernie Sanders, from his house in Vermont, offered a full-throated endorsement of Joe Biden, sitting in his Delaware basement, during a Monday afternoon live stream. After a half-hour colloquy in which they emphasized areas of agreement and presented a unified front, the independent senator jokingly suggested that they play a game of chess for the reporters who had tuned in to watch what they were told would be the former vice president laying out his economic agenda to respond to the recession caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I've been playing on my cellphone,” Biden said. “I've got a beautiful chessboard upstairs, and I haven't got anybody to play with.”

Sanders had a chessboard sitting on the table behind him. “We’ll bore everybody for a few hours,” he told Biden.

It was a warm, light-hearted moment, and a marked contrast to the somewhat awkward New Hampshire rally during which Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton in July 2016 after more than a month of negotiations following the California primary. 

It was also immediately overshadowed by President Trump’s off-the-rails coronavirus briefing at the White House, which lasted two hours and 24 minutes. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total,” he declared. With 23,604 deaths in the United States from the coronavirus and 581,000 confirmed cases, the president also falsely claimed that Biden – whom he called “Sleepy Joe” – apologized for calling him xenophobic.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed former vice president Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic nominee on April 13 via live stream. (Video: Joe Biden via YouTube)
Biden has been struggling to break through amid the pandemic, when Trump's bully pulpit is bigger than ever.

Former president Barack Obama reportedly plans to endorse Biden later today. But Monday captured in miniature his continuing challenges.

Trump’s reelection committees announced that they raised $212 million in the first three months of the year, meaning that they’ve now brought in more than $1 billion to support his 2020 bid and have $240 million cash on hand. Biden raised $33 million during the first two weeks of March and $18 million in February, his campaign has said. All told, he’s raised about $121 million for the campaign but depleted most of that to win the primaries. He has still not created a joint fundraising operation with the Democratic National Committee. 

And social distancing makes it harder to build up a traditional finance operation. Postponing the national convention will also delay by a month when he can access the pool of money for the general election.

Doug Sosnik, who served as Bill Clinton’s White House political director, predicts that Biden will remain a bystander until sometime in May or early June, when the country shifts from facing “a health crisis with unimaginable economic consequences” to “a devastating economic crisis with continued health consequences.”

During the lockdown, Trump's organizational advantages will continue to expand – and so will his war chest – without ever leaving the White House,” Sosnik said. “Meanwhile, the lockdown has imposed significant obstacles for Biden’s campaign, further complicating his efforts to begin building a robust general election political operation.”

To be sure, there are certain advantages for Biden of a front-porch campaign. And the more this election is a pure referendum on Trump’s leadership, the better that could be for Biden. The economy had been Trump’s biggest strength until this crisis. The president lashed out at the media on Monday partly because he’s on the defensive over revelations about the litany of early warning signs he failed to heed.

Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could determine the election.

Sosnik believes those six states will be decisive. “The electoral college math required to win the presidential race hasn’t changed,” he said. “While the pandemic has turned the world upside down in the last 30 days, some underlying dynamics of the race that were in play prior to the crisis have remained constant. Trump has been consistent about his singular goal of appealing to and maintaining his political base. … At the same time Trump has effectively appealed to his supporters, he has also solidified the anti-Trump vote in the process, making this a truly base election.”

In a base election, which side turns out in greater numbers is obviously everything. “The debate as to whether states should expand voting options will be the single biggest fight that Republicans and Democrats will have in the run-up to the November election,” Sosnik predicted. “In an election that will come down to six states, the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus in each of these states, as well as voter turnout, will determine who [wins]."

In a promising sign for Democrats on that front, a liberal challenger defeated the conservative incumbent for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in last Tuesday’s primary. Ballots were finally tabulated yesterday. “Jill Karofsky beat Daniel Kelly, whom then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) appointed to the state’s high court in 2016. Trump endorsed Kelly and on Election Day urged Wisconsin voters ‘to get out and vote NOW’ for the justice,” Amy Gardner and Dave Weigel report. "The contest prompted a rancorous partisan debate over whether to proceed with in-person voting April 7, which Democrats opposed and Republicans supported. It was also hard-fought because of potential implications in the November presidential election, with a judicial decision about whether to purge the state’s voter rolls hanging in the partisan balance of the court.”

In other potentially significant presidential campaign news, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash said Monday that he’s looking “closely” at a third-party bid, which could divert votes from Trump. Amash, who quit the Republican Party last July 4 to become an independent after endorsing the president’s impeachment, tweeted that “Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.” The Libertarian Party is planning to nominate a candidate for president at its convention in Austin on May 25. So far, no well-known figure has entered the race.

Sanders said he is “not going to paper over” his differences with his ex-rival. 

But the senator said Trump must be defeated. “We need you in the White House,” Sanders told Biden during their joint appearance. “I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe.”

In turn, Biden promised Sanders that he would govern as “one of the most progressive” presidents since Franklin Roosevelt. He also announced that he has agreed to include former Sanders supporters on six new policy working groups he’s creating to offer proposals and “creative new ideas” on the economy, education, climate change, criminal justice, immigration and health care. Biden also said he also wants to create a new Cabinet-level position on pandemics.

“We’re apart on some issues, but we’re awfully close on a whole bunch of others,” Biden told Sanders. “And you don't get enough credit, Bernie, for being the voice that forces us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves: Have we done enough? And we haven't.”

More on the federal response

President Trump on April 13 repeatedly suggested he has "total authority" when it comes to deciding how and when to reopen the economy. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Governors are forming blocs to explore lifting restrictions.

“Trump declared Monday that he has ‘total’ authority and ‘calls the shots’ when it comes to deciding how and when to lift the pandemic restrictions and reopen the economy, even as governors on both coasts proceeded with their own plans and asserted their own powers,” Tim Craig and Brady Dennis report. “New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo [D] called in to CNN and suggested Trump was acting like ‘a king.’ … Cuomo said he would challenge the White House in court if Trump pushes to reopen businesses without enough safeguards to protect public health. Earlier in the day, Cuomo was joined via phone by governors from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island as they formed a pact to coordinate on an eventual end to their states’ restrictions. Later, Cuomo announced that Massachusetts, led by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), was joining the group. … On the West Coast, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington also announced a pact to work together to tamp down the ongoing outbreak and carefully restart the economy in their states.

"Underlining the sharp political and cultural divide that has undergirded the nation’s reaction to the pandemic, nine of the 10 governors involved in the two groups are Democrats. … The White House is assembling its own internal task force on how to do so. … Governors typically have authority to lift the stay-at-home restrictions and business closures in their states. But if Trump calls for the economy to reopen, many ordinary Americans, as well as some GOP governors, may heed his exhortations.” 

  • Americans are heavily influenced by official pronouncements in whether they stay home, according to fresh data from the CDC. (William Wan and Philip Bump)
  • More than 2,100 American cities are bracing for budget shortfalls, planning to slash programs and cut staff. (Tony Romm)
While Trump picks a fight with governors, corporate America is making its own plans.

“While many question the timing, everyone from small manufacturers to major brands such as Whirlpool … are taking steps to get their workers back on the job. Mostly that involves testing on a scale that is, for now, out of reach,” Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin report. “Two types of tests are in demand. One is a diagnostic test to determine whether a person has covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Another, still being developed, is designed to tell if one has developed immunity to the virus. Both will be needed to ease the current U.S. lockdown. … One issue when all employees return: whether to use infrared cameras to detect elevated body temperatures, which would be faster than using individual thermometers. Temperature checks still wouldn’t flag workers who are carrying the virus and contagious but show no symptoms.”

The CIA warned employees against using the anti-malaria drug touted by Trump. 

“The CIA has privately advised its workforce that taking an anti-malarial drug touted by President Trump and some of his supporters as a promising treatment for the novel coronavirus has potentially dangerous side effects, including sudden death,” Devlin Barrett reports. “The warning, featured on a website for CIA employees with questions related to the spread of covid-19, came in late March after public discussion — and promotion by the president — that hydroxychloroquine, administered in concert with the antibiotic azithromycin, might prove effective against the disease.”

The novel coronavirus killed a sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt. 

This is the first death of an active-duty service member caused by the virus, as confirmed cases among the crew climbed to at least 585. “The sailor, who was not immediately identified, had been moved to an intensive care unit last week after being found unresponsive Thursday at Naval Base Guam. The sailor tested positive for the virus March 30 and was placed in isolation,” Dan Lamothe reports. "Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, the ship’s commanding officer, was removed from his job after sending a memo to senior Navy officials late last month that sounded an alarm about how slowly the service was responding to the outbreak. … As of Monday, more than half of the entire military’s 929 positive cases of the coronavirus are members of the Theodore Roosevelt crew.”

  • The Navy is battling a growing outbreak among the crew of the hospital ship Mercy, where seven have tested positive for the virus. The outbreak hasn’t affected the vessel's ability to receive patients. It remains docked off the coast of Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The USS Harry S. Truman, a carrier in the Atlantic fleet that has been deployed to the Middle East since November, will remain at sea to avoid bringing the virus onboard. Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, commander of the carrier strike group, said he’s certain there are no coronavirus cases among the ship’s 5,000 sailors. (Teo Armus)
  • The Air Force debuted an isolation system to evacuate U.S. contractors from Afghanistan. First developed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, these containment units allow patients to be treated in-flight while minimizing risks to the crew and caregivers. (Teo Armus)
Trump will probably announce restrictions on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization. 

The restrictions come as “the administration and conservative allies have ramped up their criticism that the United Nations agency catered to China early in the outbreak and jeopardized global health,” Anne Gearan reports. “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other U.S. officials are expected to recommend to Trump ways to dock or condition payments to the agency as Republicans in Congress seek documentation of WHO dealings with China, said people familiar with White House and State Department discussions.”

  • Trump will meet today with recovered covid-19 patients, per the White House schedule.
  • The Supreme Court will hold arguments via teleconference next month for the first time ever. (Robert Barnes)
  • The number of migrant family members detained by ICE plunged 39 percent in a week. (Spencer Hsu)
The administration asked Congress to push back census deadlines by months.

“Under the new plan, the Census Bureau would reactivate field offices in June and extend the window for data collection from mid-August to Oct. 31. It would also extend by four months the deadline for delivering apportionment counts to the president to April 30, 2021, and the deadline for delivering redistricting data to states to July 31, 2021,” Tara Bahrampour reports. “Pushing back the reporting deadlines would require Congress to pass legislation the president must sign. But the request comes at a time of heightened tension between the administration and the House Oversight Committee.” 

  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the chamber will not return to session until at least early May, and possibly later, barring an emergency. (Paul Kane)
  • Five House Democrats asked the principal deputy inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services to probe the Trump administration’s handling of the national health-care stockpile. (Mike DeBonis)
  • In his first interview since recovering from covid-19, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News that he “never had a headache, never had a body ache, never had a fever, never had a cough.”
Trump's testing promises remain largely unfulfilled. 

Rather than a sweeping national campaign of screening, drive-through sample collection and lab testing, NPR reporters found a smattering of small pilot projects and aborted efforts. "In some cases, no action was taken at all. Target did not formally partner with the federal government, for example. And a lauded Google project turned out not to be led by Google at all, and then once launched was limited to a smattering of counties in California. … [Discussions with large retailers] have not led to any wide-scale implementation of drive-through tests. … The president also welcomed Bruce Greenstein, an executive vice president of the LHC Group, to the microphone. Greenstein's organization primarily provides in-home health care, and he pledged that it would be helping with testing … NPR called more than 20 LHC sites in 12 states, and none of them is doing in-home testing.”

Trump said he will not fire Tony Fauci.

“The White House sought to tamp down speculation Monday that Trump would fire the nation’s top epidemiologist in the middle of the pandemic, but concern over an Easter presidential retweet attacking Fauci continued to reverberate as many of the president’s allies and critics warned that such a move would be counterproductive,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report. “Several administration officials, top lawmakers and public health experts expressed concern that Fauci could be sidelined or silenced in the critical days ahead as Trump makes decisions about whether to encourage Americans to return to normal economic and social activities. On Monday, Trump dismissed those concerns as if he had not initially sparked them when he retweeted a message Sunday night that included the hashtag #FireFauci. … At the news briefing, Fauci appeared to back away from some of the comments … that had drawn Trump’s scorn — describing his Sunday remarks to CNN as ‘a poor choice of words.’ He was asked whether this was being done under pressure. ‘Everything I do is voluntarily,’ Fauci said as Trump looked on. … 

"Fauci, who has been the nation’s top infectious-diseases official since 1984, is not a political appointee and is shielded by several layers of federal civil servant protections. He can’t be removed without cause and his dismissal would be subject to due process procedures. But Fauci could be reassigned within the National Institutes of Health, officials said, or essentially pushed aside within the White House coronavirus task force and see his influence diminished.”

Quote of the day

“I think controversy’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said during the news conference, addressing Fauci’s fate.

The domestic damage

South Dakota’s governor refused to issue a stay-at-home order. Now her state is a hot spot. 

“Edicts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Kristi L. Noem said disparagingly, reflected a ‘herd mentality.’ It was up to individuals — not government — to decide whether ‘to exercise their right to work, to worship and to play. Or to even stay at home,’” Griff Witte reports. “And besides, the first-term Republican told reporters at a briefing this month, ‘South Dakota is not New York City.’ But now South Dakota is home to one of the largest single coronavirus clusters anywhere in the United States, with more than 300 workers at a giant ­pork-processing plant falling ill. With the case numbers continuing to spike, the company was forced to announce the indefinite closure of the facility Sunday, threatening the U.S. food supply. Increasingly exasperated local leaders, public health experts and front-line medical workers begged Noem to intervene Monday with a more aggressive state response. … But the governor continued to resist. Instead, she used a media briefing Monday to announce trials of [hydroxychloroquine]. … ‘It’s an exciting day,’ she boasted, repeatedly citing her conversations with [Jared Kushner]."

  • South Dakota’s experience shows no part of the country is immune to being ravaged by this virus. Noem is one of five Republican governors representing relatively rural states — North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Arkansas are the others — still refusing the pleas of public health professionals.
  • “A shelter-in-place order is needed now. It is needed today,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, whose city is at the center of South Dakota’s outbreak and who has had to improvise with voluntary recommendations in the absence of statewide action that would allow enforcement. Reopening the country by May is ”not even remotely achievable," said TenHaken, a Republican. “We’re in the early innings of this thing in Sioux Falls.”
A Virginia pastor who defiantly held church services died from the virus. 

“In his last known in-person service on March 22, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn got his congregation at Richmond’s New Deliverance Evangelistic Church to stand to prove how many were there despite warnings against gatherings of more than 10 people. ‘I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,’ he said, repeating it a second time to claps, saying that ‘people are healed’ in his church,” the New York Post reports. “‘I am essential,’ he said of remaining open, adding, ‘I’m a preacher — I talk to God!’ On Sunday, his church announced ‘with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart’ that the pastor had died a week after being diagnosed with COVID-19.”

  • A group of pastors in Southern California are suing state and local officials over stay-at-home orders, which they say violate their freedom of religion by prohibiting in-person services. (Teo Armus)
  • A poll worker at a Chicago voting site died from the virus. Revall Burke, 60, described as a “health-conscious ex-Marine,” worked the March 17 primary. He died almost two weeks later. (NBC Chicago)
New York's Little Italy relives the heartache felt as relatives died in Italy.

“‘Papa Joe’ Migliucci was the fourth-generation owner of Mario's, a 101-year-old red-sauce restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Moe Albanese was known affectionately throughout Manhattan's Little Italy as ‘Moe the Butcher.’ Both men — ages 81 and 95, respectively — were among the more than 2,000 New Yorkers who died citywide last week from the coronavirus pandemic. Statistically speaking, their deaths are insignificant. But try telling that to the city’s tightly knit Italian American community," Richard Morgan reports. "As New York state’s confirmed covid-19 infections have now surpassed those in all of Italy (or any other foreign country) and the U.S. death toll now outnumbers that of Italy, Europe’s epicenter, Italian-Americans here described their lives and their identities as imploding on both ends of their hyphen. … Cuomo [the governor and the grandson of an Italian immigrant] informed New Yorkers on Monday that while the ‘worst is over,’ life here won’t fully return to normal for another 12 to 18 months, when there is likely to be a vaccine against the coronavirus.”

  • New York's homeless have been hit hard: At least 23 died after the virus hit packed shelters in the city, and 371 people from shelters had tested positive. (NYT)
  • But the rich and powerful are not safe: ABC's “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos tested positive two weeks after his wife, the actress Ali Wentworth, came down with the infection.
Some communities hit by tornadoes were already suffering from virus outbreaks. 

“Communities across the South on Monday began the grueling work of cleaning up the wreckage left behind by a string of deadly tornadoes, tasks made more treacherous by the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The storms began sweeping through the region on Easter Sunday, killing at least 30 people and knocking out power to more than a million homes,” David Montgomery, Richard Webster, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Frances Stead Sellers report. “In almost all of the hardest-hit communities, covid-19 … has forced people to isolate indoors, packed hospitals and stressed the emergency workers who are the first to respond to a natural disaster. The overlapping crises have made responding to both a dangerous gambit, now and in the months to come. How do you get people to shelter-in-place when hundreds of homes are damaged or destroyed? ‘This is like a double whammy for our community,’ said Clarksdale, Miss., Mayor Chuck Espy on Monday, as he toured the 47 homes that had been damaged in his city of 17,000. ‘It’s already a trying time for everybody. If we don’t have any additional coronavirus fatalities, I think we’d have to count our blessings this week.’ He hoped the state would declare another state of emergency for his city.”

Patients are in pain, and dentists are in distress.

“Easter Brown opened her mouth as wide as she could as a dentist yanked out the seven teeth she had left. At 77 years old, she was finally going to get a full set of dentures. She went home toothless that day in February and waited for the call saying her new smile had arrived. But when her phone rang in March, Brown was told that her dental clinic in the District was almost completely shutting down,” Jessica Contrera reports. “The risk of dentists and patients spreading the novel coronavirus was just too high. They promised Brown would get her dentures when the clinic reopened. They just weren’t sure when that would be. Ever since, Brown — already at a higher risk because of age and asthma, already enduring a newly isolated life — has been talking and chewing with only her gums. Her pain is shared by dental patients across the country.” The American Dental Association has recommended that all practices close for everything except emergencies, but it’s not clear what constitutes an emergency.

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that abortions can continue in Oklahoma, upholding a lower court judge's reversal of Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to block the procedure during the pandemic. (Jesse Dougherty and Teo Armus)
  • And the 5th Circuit in New Orleans blocked an antiabortion portion of Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency ban on nonessential medical procedures. (Katie Shepherd)
As their co-workers die, Michigan’s transit workers say they’re being unfairly put at risk.

“Most mayors have deemed transit workers essential to the continued health and safety of their cities. This was especially true in Detroit, where about 25 percent of residents depend solely on public buses,” Greg Jaffe and Annie Gowen report. “As of Friday, 51 bus system employees had tested positive for the coronavirus and 136 were in quarantine, city officials said. The rest have kept on working, including [Eric] Colts, who made it home around 4 a.m. that morning after [his best friend and colleague Jason] Hargrove died. He showered and tried to get some sleep, but his mind was racing. The public had rallied to the support of doctors, nurses, policemen and paramedics, but Colts felt he and his fellow bus drivers had been forgotten as the number of deaths from covid-19 in southeastern Michigan soared … ‘He had the gloves; he had the mask. He did the hand sanitizer, the hand-washing,’ Colts said. ‘He did it all. The only thing me and him did not do, and the rest of my co-workers is not doing, is to stay in the house. Because we have to get the f--- up every day and move this f---ing city.’” 

  • Canadian nurses who work in the United States are being forced to pick a side. About 1,600 Ontario nurses cross the border to work in Detroit. Now, as more than 1,300 people have died of the coronavirus in Michigan — nearly twice as many as in all of Canada – some Canadian officials are calling for curbs on their travel, a move that could devastate American hospitals. (Amanda Coletta)
  • Beaumont Health, the biggest hospital system in Michigan, will test the blood of its 38,000 workers in an effort to help reopen the country in what’s believed to be the nation’s largest test for coronavirus antibodies. (Shane Harris)
Experts fear school closures will severely stunt the learning of millions of kids. 

“In Miami, school will extend into the summer and start earlier in the fall, at least for some students. In Cleveland, schools may shrink the curriculum to cover only core subjects. In Columbia, Mo., this year’s lessons will be woven into next year’s. Some experts suggest holding back more kids, a controversial idea, while others propose a half-grade step-up for some students, an unconventional one. A national teachers union is proposing a massive national summer school program,” Laura Meckler, Valerie Strauss and Joe Heim report. “The ideas being considered will require political will and logistical savvy, and they are already facing resistance from teachers and parents. They’ll also require money, and lots of it … Seventeen states have ordered campuses shuttered through this academic year, another three recommend it, and educators and parents across the country are bracing for a lost spring — and maybe more. …

"Whenever schools return, researchers say, the likely result is a generation of students forced to play catch-up, perhaps for years to come. In some districts, the problem is just getting kids to show up. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest system, 1 in 4 students have not logged on at all. … Only about 1 in 4 students in the high-poverty Baltimore City Public Schools had computers. … In Atlanta’s public schools, about 6,000 children still don’t have computers, and about 10 percent of students have not yet logged in to the remote-learning system … In Philadelphia’s public schools, teachers have been told not to teach new material because of concerns that lessons cannot be equitably provided to all.”

  • More than a million juniors will miss out on the SATs and ACTs this spring because of the virus. The next testing dates, in June, are in doubt. The situation is so severe that a growing number of colleges are suspending or ending test-score requirements for applicants. (Nick Anderson)
  • Universities are preparing for a fall term without students on campus. MIT and Harvard University are among those discussing potential scenarios for starting the next academic year virtually. (Boston Globe)
Florida continues to have some of the strangest reactions to the contagion.

A Florida police chief was placed on leave after allegedly linking a deputy’s covid-19 death to homosexuality. Davie Police Chief Dale Engle allegedly made the remarks in a tirade against officers four days after the sheriff’s deputy, Shannon Bennett, died from the virus. (Samantha Pell)

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) deemed professional wrestling an “essential business,” allowing the WWE to continue taping and airing live from an empty arena near Orlando, despite the “shelter-in-place” order. (Miami Herald)
  • Everyone on Fisher Island – an exclusive enclave of multimillion-dollar condos and homes — can get tested for coronavirus after the private island bought thousands of rapid covid-19 blood test kits from the University of Miami Health System. (Miami Herald)

Pawnshops are operating in a slice of the economy that’s missed out on the gains of recent years. Many of their customers face longer waits to receive stimulus checks because the government’s program prioritizes those who have direct deposit. So the shops face a choice of closing, cutting off those who depend on them for cash, or accepting the health risks to their employees of staying open. (Rachel Siegel

The number of confirmed infections in the D.C. region is 16,661 this morning. 

"The number of virus-related deaths was 263 in Maryland, 149 in Virginia and 53 in the District, for a total of 465 fatalities,” Dana Hedgpeth reports. “A group of scientists advising Virginia’s government said Monday that social distancing in the state appears to be working, and their models show the state’s hospitals have enough beds to handle the novel coronavirus pandemic for the next few months if current trends continue. D.C. officials said Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) will decide this week whether to extend school and business closures beyond the current end date of April 24, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he is talking with scientists, doctors and business leaders about how and when to safely lift Maryland’s restrictions.”

  • An inmate at Jessup Correctional Institution was the first Maryland state prisoner to die of covid-19, and officials in Carroll County announced six more deaths connected to the Pleasant View Nursing Home, bringing the total number of fatalities at the 104-bed facility to 24. Officials also announced the first death of an inmate in the D.C. jail.
  • George Washington University will convert an empty dorm into temporary housing for medical staff.

The foreign fallout

Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer donned a doctor's coat on April 12, to pay tribute to the medics on the frontlines of hospitals battling the coronavirus. (Video: Reuters)
Italy’s death toll crossed 20,000.

Italian officials announced 3,153 new confirmed cases on Monday, the lowest daily increase since April 7, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 159,516. In Spain, the death toll reached 17,489 as some measures were relaxed since officials believe the outbreak there has passed its peak, per Adam Taylor. France, which neared 15,000 deaths, has extended its full lockdown until mid-May with only partial relaxation afterward, James McAuley reports from Paris.

Libya’s civil war continues intensifying.

“Hundreds of thousands of civilians are besieged amid increased shelling and massive water and electricity cuts. Hospitals are being targeted just as the coronavirus is threatening an already shattered health system,” Sudarsan Raghavan reports. “The United Nations, the United States and other countries have pleaded with the warring sides for a ‘humanitarian pause’ to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, both sides appear to be determined to take advantage of the international focus on the pandemic and try to gain more territory. After initially agreeing to the ‘pause,’ the warring sides returned to combat within days.” 

  • For survivors of wars in Syria, El Salvador and South Sudan, the outbreak is reviving memories of long periods spent sheltering in place. (Miriam Berger, Siobhán O’Grady and Ruby Mellen)
  • More than 90 countries are pleading for financial lifelines as the virus wreaks economic havoc. Emerging and developing countries require at least $2.5 trillion this year to cover their bills, according to the International Monetary Fund. (David Lynch)
  • The Indian state of Kerala flattened its curve with aggressive testing, contact tracing and the distribution of millions of cooked meals. With just two deaths, 52 percent of positive patients have recovered in a jurisdiction that is home to 33 million. (Niha Masih)
China’s bid to repair its coronavirus-hit image is backfiring in the West. 

In the U.K., officials are fighting against a surge of Chinese disinformation, while in Germany and in at least one U.S. state – Wisconsin – officials exposed quiet outreach attempts from Chinese officials hoping to persuade them to publicly praise China. (Gerry Shih)

  • Africans in China say they’ve been evicted from their apartments or refused entry to restaurants as part of a xenophobic campaign against black people that is ostensibly aimed at curbing the virus. The Chinese authorities’ actions triggered protests from African governments and prompted U.S. diplomats to warn African Americans to avoid the Guangzhou area. (Anna Fifield)
  • China is facing a new flare-up of the virus along its remote northern border with Russia. The frontier has been sealed, and emergency medical units were rushed to the area to prevent travelers from bringing the virus back from overseas. (AP)
  • Vladimir Putin’s long war against American science has encouraged the spread of disease. “As the pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information — an ‘infodemic,’ according to the [WHO]. Analysts say that [Putin] of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within,” the Times reports.

Social media speed read

CNN's Brooke Baldwin shared a promising progress report from her fight against the virus:

Trump's task force on reopening the country was widely ridiculed:

Trump’s insistence that he has absolute power amid a national emergency prompted a rebuke from a leading House Republican (and daughter of a former vice president):

The new issues of two iconic New York City magazines reflect the town’s stillness: 

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert quipped that time really flies when you’re not allowed to fly – or walk: 

Trevor Noah looked at some of the creative ways religious leaders worldwide celebrated Easter:

Seth Meyers went after Trump for his insistence on reopening the economy so soon: