with Mariana Alfaro

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is not just lifting statewide restrictions on businesses. His directive explicitly supersedes all local orders designed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. This preemption has incensed mayors of cities who worry that he is recklessly jeopardizing the health of their constituents.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) has emerged as a leading critic of Kemp’s order, which allows for gyms, nail salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys and spas to reopen in her city starting today – over her strenuous objections. Restaurants and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on Monday.

What’s happening down South offers a preview of what could play out across the country. As governors grapple with reopening, they may chart very different courses than the leaders of the largest cities in their states support. While national media attention focuses on the tension between President Trump and the governors, the friction between governors and mayors is poised to become a dominant local storyline over the coming weeks and months.

Bottoms ordered the city’s restaurants to close their dining rooms weeks before Kemp reluctantly issued a statewide stay-at-home order. As the contagion spread, Kemp’s resistance meant that Georgia was one of the last states to shut many nonessential businesses. On Monday, though, he declared that Georgia will be at the front of the pack to reopen.

The coronavirus has killed about 100 Georgians since that announcement, but the governor is standing firm. This is despite mounting criticism from Trump, who initially encouraged Kemp before pulling the rug out from underneath him. “I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp,” Trump said during Thursday evening’s news conference, the second day in a row he publicly criticized Kemp's decision. The governor defended what he’s doing as a “measured” approach to “protect the lives — and livelihoods — of all Georgians.”

Bottoms is pained that she cannot stop him. The mayor said during a city council meeting, held via teleconference on Thursday, that she has lawyers continuing to explore possible avenues for a court challenge. “His authority as governor is what it is, and it certainly supersedes my authority as mayor on paper, but it doesn’t supersede my voice, and I will continue to use my voice to urge our communities, our business owners and our residents to stay in,” she told WXIA, her city’s NBC affiliate.

Battles this week in other states offer an early taste of what's to come.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced a three-tiered approach to allow businesses to begin reopening their doors, starting today, but the mayors of Oklahoma City and Norman – the first- and third-largest cities in the state, respectively – said their stay-at-home guidelines will remain in place through next week. The difference in the Sooner State is that Stitt’s order does not preempt them. 

GOP legislators have been trying to overturn restrictions imposed by Democratic governors in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Kansas. There's a different story in Nevada, where Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has criticized Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I) for pushing to reopen and said he will not relax his statewide order. When the top elected official in Texas’s Harris County, which includes Houston, signed an order on Wednesday requiring residents to wear face masks in public for 30 days, the state’s GOP lieutenant governor decried the Democrat's policy as “the ultimate government overreach.”

Remember when Republicans used to be the party that advocated for local control? There has been a role reversal. But not all the criticism of Kemp is coming from Democrats. Lori Henry, the Republican mayor of the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, has also said Kemp has moved too soon. “Be careful, be safe, shelter in place and don’t let this happen too quickly,” she said on CNN. “The governor’s order does not require that businesses open. It does not require that citizens attend or go to those businesses.”

The coronavirus has killed about 50,000 Americans, and 869,000 cases have been confirmed. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health revealed yesterday that the state’s official death toll is 872, and the number of confirmed cases has climbed to more than 21,500, more than 2,000 higher than when Kemp announced his plan to reopen businesses on Monday. Southwestern Georgia has some of the highest rates of infection and deaths in the country. Dougherty County, which has fewer than 100,000 people, has more than 1,000 cases and dozens of deaths.

Georgia has also lagged on testing. Only 101,062 coronavirus tests have been conducted there as of Thursday, which is 981 per 100,000 people. Based on our tracking, 36 states have higher per capita testing numbers.

Kemp announced his plan to relax restrictions without receiving guidance from the panel of doctors he tapped to advise him and without giving advance notice to regional health departments responsible for carrying out his orders, physicians and state officials tell Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rachel Weiner. Officials in two regional health departments said they learned of Kemp’s plans only when he announced them publicly. "The breakdown in communication and planning runs deeper, according to officials in other Georgia health districts,” Isaac and Rachel report. “An official in one district said there wasn’t proper infrastructure for the recent rollout of a testing hotline required by the state, forcing health workers to scramble and use their cellphones, missing a number of calls.” Today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that rural hospitals, already strapped for resources, are also wary of Kemp’s order.

While the state can override cities, the governor cannot force restaurants to reopen if they don’t want to.

Many owners believe it is too soon. “Hugh Acheson wondered how employees could safely take trains and buses to their jobs waiting tables and washing dishes,” Emily Heil reports. “Alex Brounstein considered supplies: With deliveries already reduced, could he even get enough food? Mike Gallagher thought about trying to expand his staff beyond the core group operating takeout and delivery. He knew the team was taking safety seriously, but what about new hires? The governor’s announcement took them all by surprise. Brounstein found out when his phone lit up with messages from friends wondering if he had seen the news, what he thought of it, what he would do. At first he laughed, assuming the order would be overturned by the mayor of Atlanta. … But when he found out that Kemp’s order superseded local mandates, he still didn’t entertain the thought of trying to get back to serving diners.”

The mess in Georgia also encapsulates Trump’s often erratic and contradictory messaging.

Both Trump and Vice President Pence “repeatedly told Kemp that they approved of his aggressive plan to allow businesses to reopen, just a day before Trump pulled an about-face and publicly bashed the plan, according to two administration officials,” the Associated Press reports. “The green light from Pence and Trump came in separate private conversations with the Republican governor both before Kemp announced his plan to ease coronavirus restrictions and after it was unveiled on Monday.”

“Kemp initially followed what he said he thought were Trump’s wishes,” Anne Gearan reports. “Kemp has stuck with the plan anyway, and watched as congressional Republicans including Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) lined up with Trump to say Kemp was wrong. … Kemp’s recent decision not to pick Collins to fill out the term of an empty U.S. Senate seat the congressman wanted created tension between the two. ‘Leadership is about communicating,’ Collins continued.”

Bottoms was “very surprised to hear the president come down so hard on our governor,” she said last night on MSNBC, “and even more surprised that I agreed with our president.”

Bottoms received an anonymous, racist text message after criticizing the state’s decision.

It used the n-word and told her to “just shut up and re-open Atlanta!” She posted an image of the message on Twitter. The 50-year-old has four children: Lincoln, Langston, Lennox and Lance. She said her daughter happened to be sitting there and saw the message when it appeared on her phone, and her 12-year-old son received the text on his own phone.

“Certainly, children should be off-limits. But, more importantly, the reason I released that message is because I wanted people across America to see what racism still looks like in 2020,” Bottoms told Brian Williams. “This was a teachable moment in my home. It was interesting to hear my high school senior tell my sixth-grader that he’s been called the n-word more times than he can count. That was actually news to me. So there’s still so much more we have to do in America to close these gaps, whether it be racism, income disparity or these health disparities that are making people of color more susceptible to this virus.”

Fighting the virus

The White House is promoting lab results suggesting heat and sunlight slow the virus. 

“At the daily press briefing of the White House coronavirus task force, William N. Bryan, the acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, detailed recent lab studies carried out by the agency at the U.S. Army’s biosecurity laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md. The results, which have not been peer reviewed but were briefed to the press and on live television via slides, largely match other laboratory studies and the suspicions of some researchers by showing that the novel coronavirus, like many other viruses, does not survive as long when exposed to high amounts of ultraviolet light and warm and humid conditions,” Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow report. “The laboratory results show that increases in temperature, humidity and sunlight all can speed up how fast the virus is destroyed, based on measurements of its half-life when exposed to these elements. … This finding applied to the virus in contact with nonporous surfaces such as door handles. Adding in sunlight, the virus’s half-life decreases from six hours to two minutes at temperatures from 70 to 75 degrees and humidity of 80 percent. … 

“The study was conducted under idealized conditions and in a controlled setting. Bryan said that in the real world, the virus on a playground surface exposed to direct sunlight would die quickly, but the virus could survive longer in shaded areas. … Trump said he’s not giving people advice to go outside to stay free from the virus, but said, ‘I hope people enjoy the sun, and if it has an impact that’s great.’ … The weather is no panacea when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, considering that warm states, such as Georgia and Florida, already are seeing significant outbreaks, as are warm and humid countries, including Singapore."

Trump suggested disinfectants like bleach could be injected to clean lungs. Doctors say people would die. 

“‘I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,’ Trump said [at the briefing]. ‘And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that,’” Allyson Chiu and Katie Shepherd report. “The question, which Trump offered unprompted, immediately spurred doctors to respond with incredulity and warnings against injecting or otherwise ingesting disinfectants, which are highly toxic. ‘My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea,’ Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told The Post. ‘This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous.’ … [Trump] also raised the possibility of using light to combat the viral infection and suggested consulting medical doctors with these questions. ‘We [could] hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light…,' Trump said.”

  • The maker of Lysol issued this statement: “We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)." (Jennifer Hassan)
  • The Food and Drug Administration warned this morning that people should not take chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19 outside of a hospital or formal clinical trial, citing reports of “serious heart rhythm problems.” (Laurie McGinley)
  • Rick Bright, the federal vaccine scientist who was ousted as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will file a whistleblower complaint to formally allege retaliation over his resistance to using hydroxychloroquine and other anti-malarial drugs as coronavirus treatments. (CNBC)
  • The Trump administration planned to distribute millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine, flooding New York and New Jersey with it, documents obtained by Vanity Fair show. Under the plan, which set off alarm bells with public health experts, chloroquine drugs would be available to patients through pharmacies, not just to hospitalized patients.
Trump rarely attends the task force meetings before these briefings. 

“The daily White House coronavirus task force briefing is the one portion of the day that Mr. Trump looks forward to, although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically. Mr. Trump will hear none of it. Aides say he views them as prime-time shows that are the best substitute for the rallies he can no longer attend but craves,” the Times reports. “Mr. Trump rarely attends the task force meetings that precede the briefings, and he typically does not prepare before he steps in front of the cameras. He is often seeing the final version of the day’s main talking points that aides have prepared for him for the first time although aides said he makes tweaks with a Sharpie just before he reads them live.” 

  • Michael Caputo, the new top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, “in a series of now-deleted tweets made racist and derogatory comments about Chinese people, said Democrats wanted the coronavirus to kill millions of people and accused the media of intentionally creating panic around the pandemic to hurt Trump,” CNN reports.
The trust deficit is hurting his reelection prospects.

Just 23 percent of Americans say they have “high levels of trust” in what Trump is telling the public about the pandemic. Another 21 percent trust him a moderate amount, an AP-NORC poll found.

  • Joe Biden’s strength with older voters in recent polls of Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania threatens Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes. (Toluse Olorunnipa)
  • Larry Summers is advising the Biden campaign on economic recovery. The former Treasury secretary is loathed by some on the professional left, so the report from Bloomberg News will probably cause some hand-wringing.
  • Fifty-five percent of Texans think the biggest threat the country faces is not keeping people at home long enough, compared to 34 percent who think people are being kept at home for too long, according to a new poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune.
  • Forty-nine percent of Latino voters said they would vote for Biden right now, but only 17 percent said they would vote for Trump. The rest remain undecided, according to a CBS News poll.
The military’s biggest outbreak could help researchers better understand how this virus spreads. 

“At least 777 [USS Theodore] Roosevelt sailors have been infected, and the rate of asymptomatic infection is about 50 percent, the Navy said Wednesday. In contrast, the general population rate is about half that — as high as 25 percent, the [CDC] has said,” Alex Horton reports. “The ship infections could reveal new clues of how the virus percolates through communities, epidemiologists said. The Navy has called for 1,000 volunteers from the crew to submit to swabs and blood tests to better ‘connect the dots’ of the transmission, the Navy surgeon general [said]. … The serology tests would pinpoint antibodies created by the immune system after infection, and closely following their presence will help researchers determine whether immunities have or can be developed. … There is also a trove of data inherent to military life: a meticulous accounting of where everyone is at nearly all times.” [Everyone also has detailed medical histories.]

  • State and local health departments got $631 million from the federal government in the new stimulus bill to do contact tracing and testing – a fraction of what many say they need to safely restart their economies. (William Wan)
  • Lab workers say Abbott's rapid coronavirus test Trump often lauds creates safety issues. Running the test involves swabbing a potentially infected person’s nasal passage and swirling the specimen in an open container with liquid chemicals, raising the potential of releasing the highly contagious virus into the air. (Kaiser Health News)
  • Two U.K. volunteers became the first to be injected with a trial vaccine for the virus. It was developed by an Oxford University team in under three months. (BBC)
  • “Covid toes" are a possible symptom of the virus. Podiatrists reported numerous cases of sick people, including children and young people, with small dermatological lesions on their feet. These lesions usually appeared before other symptoms or in asymptomatic patients. (KUTV)
  • Seniors with the virus show several atypical symptoms, including sleeping more than usual or not eating. They may seem unusually apathetic or confused, or they may become dizzy and fall, doctors warn. (WRCB)
  • A union representing 50,000 flight attendants asked the federal government to mandate masks for everyone boarding airplanes and to ban all leisure travel until the pandemic wanes. (Steven Goff)
More than 250 Mexican immigrants have died from the virus in New York. Many longed to be buried in their birthplace. 

“Mexican families typically send bodies home, for flower-strewn Catholic burials, and to give relatives the chance to glimpse their loved ones again after long separations. The tradition is so important that Mexican consulates around the country have long helped to repatriate the bodies of immigrants. But that sacred rite has come to a halt,” the Times reports. “Officials in the area are not issuing the transit permits needed for repatriation, and parts of Mexico have closed their borders to bodies, fearing contagion. The Mexican Consulate in New York, which has temporarily shut its doors, is advising families who call to consider cremation; ashes can far more easily be sent home."

A few faces of the coronavirus fallen: 
  • Donald Herring, the oldest brother of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), died in Oklahoma. Herring, whom Warren described as having a “quick, crooked smile that seemed to generate its own light,” was 86. (Annie Linskey and Felicia Sonmez)
  • Jay-Natalie La Santa, the 5-month-old daughter of a New York City firefighter died of virus complications. (CBS)
  • Philip Kahn, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, died in New York, more than a century after the 1918 flu pandemic killed his twin brother. Kahn, his family said, had been fearful of another pandemic happening in his lifetime. (CNN)

Fighting the economic fallout

The administration is leveraging an emergency loan to force changes to the Postal Service. 

“The Treasury Department is considering taking unprecedented control over key operations of the U.S. Postal Service by imposing tough terms on an emergency coronavirus loan from Congress, which would fulfill Trump’s longtime goal of changing how the service does business,” Jacob Bogage and Lisa Rein report. “The borrowing terms have only been discussed among both agencies’ leadership and have not been made public because the Postal Service hasn’t officially requested the loan.” Separately, Mnuchin is considering the creation of a government lending program for oil companies that would be run out of the Federal Reserve, Bloomberg News reports.

The House passed a $484 billion relief bill.

The legislation, approved 388-5 as many lawmakers wore masks on the House floor, will restart the Paycheck Protection Program after passing the Senate earlier this week. "Lawmakers from both parties are already talking about pursuing more large spending bills to try to contain the pandemic’s economic fallout, but the measure Thursday could be the last one for at least several weeks as divisions emerge between the parties about how much more to do,” Erica Werner reports. “The Treasury Department on Thursday issued guidance making it much harder for publicly traded companies to qualify for money that was supposed to go to small businesses, threatening penalties in some cases if firms don’t repay money they had already received. And the Federal Reserve announced that it would be disclosing the names of companies that receive funding from some of its assistance programs after complaints that the central bank wasn’t being transparent about where the taxpayer aid was going … The Small Business Administration retains the right to audit borrowers later.”

New SBA guidelines suggest dozens of publicly traded companies should return stimulus money. 

These companies, which received loans under the earlier round of PPP, are being told they should return the funds by May 7. More than 80 publicly traded companies in an array of industries – including large hotel and restaurant chains, energy firms and manufacturers – received PPP money. Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a restaurant chain valued at $250 million, will return the $20 million loan it procured earlier this month. (Jonathan O’Connell and Aaron Gregg)

  • At least three million Americans who lost their jobs are still waiting for their first unemployment check. (Tony Romm and Heather Long)
  • Gordon Sondland, the luxury hotelier and Trump donor who was recalled as U.S. ambassador to the European Union after testifying during the impeachment proceedings, received a PPP loan for his hotel chain. (Bloomberg News)
  • Phunware, a data firm that works for Trump’s reelection campaign, received $2.85 million from the PPP. That’s 14 times the average of $260,000. (CBS News)
Trump's business has debts coming due as it seeks help from multiple governments.

Democrats are pressing the General Services Administration over Trump’s D.C. hotel lease after the president’s company said it asked the Trump administration to include it in any accommodations made for private tenants. (Jonathan O’Connell, David Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow)

  • Trump owes $211 million to the Bank of China, a debt that matures in the middle of what could be the president’s second term. The 2012 deal allowed him to gain ownership of a 30 percent stake in a Manhattan property. (Politico)
  • Trump's Irish golf resort is seeking help from Ireland’s government to cover wages for almost 300,000 workers affected by the pandemic. (Financial Times)
  • Trump’s resort in Scotland is also trying to tap the U.K. bailout fund for its employees. (Bloomberg News)
Farmers are throwing away tons of food, even as food banks struggle.

“Across the country, an unprecedented disconnect is emerging between where food is produced and the food banks and low-income neighborhoods that desperately need it. American farmers, ranchers, other food producers and poverty advocates have been asking the federal government to help overcome breakdowns in a food distribution system that have led to producers dumping food while Americans go hungry,” Laura Reiley reports. “Late last week, the Trump administration stepped in, announcing a $19 billion program to help the struggling agriculture sector and distribute food to families in need. … But the effort must overcome the challenges that led to the disconnect in the first place: Fresh produce and dairy must be transported from farms to food banks in refrigerated trucks. Refrigerator and freezer storage space must be available on the receiving end to accommodate a surge of frozen meat. Food that originally was slated for restaurant supply must be repackaged for home use. And all of this must occur while maintaining social distancing and without increasing the demand for labor because food banks, while running low on supplies, are running even lower on volunteers.” 

The D.C. region is starting to look for the best way to reopen its economy, but cases keep climbing. 

“D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced plans Thursday for an advisory group focused on when and how to lift coronavirus restrictions — a day before Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) plans to reveal his blueprint for reopening the economy and pulling the Washington region back toward normalcy,” Antonio Olivo, Fenit Nirappil and Erin Cox report. “Hogan is scheduled to unveil his Roadmap to Recovery on Friday. [Virginia Gov. Ralph] Northam (D) has not announced similar plans. All three leaders are watching for sustained declines in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Those markers still appeared far away on Thursday. The tally of known infections in the District, Maryland and Virginia took another big leap to 30,138, with 87 new fatalities.”

  • Amtrak is projecting losses of about $700 million this year, following a 95 percent drop in ridership. (Luz Lazo)
  • College students want answers about the fall, but schools may not have them for months. Several universities say that they may have a decision about when classes will start by mid-June. (Nick Anderson)
Washingtonian interviewed restaurateurs about how the D.C. dining scene will change.

“I think you’ll see three stages of closing,” said Bill Thomas, owner of Jack Rose and the Imperial in Adams Morgan. “There are people who will never reopen. Then you’ll have the people who open and realize they’re too far in debt within 30 days. Then you’ll have another round of closings when deferred payments are due in 90 days or whenever, and they haven’t quintupled their business since reopening and there’s no way to pay it back. It’s going to be a long and lingering death for some. You’re going to have a ton of empty storefronts.”

  • “The Latinos are going to be [hit] the worst,” said Alfredo Solis, the co-chef/owner of El Sol, Mezcalero and Anafre. "A lot of people don’t have credit cards—they’re going to take more time to recover.”

Quote of the day

“Why don’t we just put everybody in a space outfit or something like that?” – informal Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore, brainstorming ways the economy can be reawakened. He clarified he was joking. (NYT

The global fallout

Limits on testing in Brazil are concealing the true dimensions of Latin America’s largest outbreak. 

“Atop a shaded hill at the edge of São Paulo, the gravedigger thinks he knows the truth. No matter how bad it appears in Brazil — the country hit hardest by the coronavirus in the Southern Hemisphere — the reality is significantly worse,” Terrence McCoy and Heloísa Traiano report. “The cemetery now receives around 50 bodies every day — double the average in normal times. Many are marked as confirmed cases of covid-19 … But many more say only ‘unidentified respiratory ailment.’ To Pereira, they’re the unseen toll of the coronavirus in Brazil, which has officially infected 45,000 people and killed 2,900 — but unofficially many times more than that. Imprecise and insufficient testing is a global problem, but in Brazil, it’s on an entirely different scale. Latin America’s largest country is testing people at a rate far lower than any other nation with at least 40,000 cases. It tests 12 times fewer people than Iran. Thirty-two times fewer than the United States. Hospitalized patients aren’t being tested. Some medical professionals aren’t being tested. People are dying in their homes without being tested.” 

Cases spiked 40 percent in Africa, amid warnings of worsening hunger and malaria. 

“Confirmed cases have surpassed 25,000 among Africa’s 1.3 billion people, and the death toll has exceeded 1,200. Dozens of nations have ‘very, very limited’ capacity for testing, said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a Thursday briefing. The lack of tests could be obscuring a larger danger,” Danielle Paquette reports. “The virus threatens to kill more than 300,000 people in Africa, according to a United Nations estimate, and plunge tens of millions more into poverty. Leaders can still dodge worst-case scenarios, officials said, with wider testing nets and aggressive contact tracing. Most African countries have sealed or tightened their borders, banned public gatherings and closed schools, among other preventive measures. … But doctors, aid workers and residents say the lockdowns are blocking people from food, water and health care. … Pandemic-sparked food insecurity could nearly double that number by the end of the year. … A shift in efforts away from malaria control could fuel another fatal outbreak, a new WHO report cautioned.”

Italy, looking to lift its lockdown soon, is considering advice from scientists, economists and psychiatrists.

“Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy’s emergence from lockdown — what he has called Phase II — is likely to begin May 4,” Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli report. “He called for a ‘serious, scientific program.’ The myriad task forces advising the government on Phase II include not just epidemiologists and health policy experts but also economists and psychiatrists. … Advisers in Italy have recommended starting with businesses — only the ones least at risk. It remains unclear when schools or restaurants might reopen, or businesses that bring people close together, such as hairdressers and gyms.”

Call increased for China to begin a credible investigation into how the pandemic began.

“Top scientists I contacted over the past week were skeptical about theories that are spinning about deliberate Chinese attempts to engineer the toxic virus. But many said it’s possible that a pathogen that was being studied by researchers in Wuhan could have leaked accidentally from one of two virology labs there, setting off the chain of infection. Many of these top scientists said they would remain ‘agnostic’ about how covid-19 emerged until the Chinese provided clear evidence,” reports columnist David Ignatius. ”Chinese researchers did some careful research in January and February, when the virus was spreading. But research was subsequently tightly controlled, and in at least one case with scientists in Guangzhou, suppressed. … Beijing should realize that this is a situation where suppression of information will only make things worse.” 

  • Other virus researchers say there is virtually no chance the virus was released as a result of a lab accident in China or anywhere else. An accidental release would have required a remarkable series of coincidences and deviations from well-established experimental protocols, NPR reports.
  • The U.S. will send aid to Greenland and open a consulate there in a bid to counter Russian and Chinese influence. (Carol Morello)
Apple’s built-in iPhone mail app is vulnerable to hackers.

“Hackers gained access to iPhones through a sophisticated security flaw in Apple’s built-in email app that Apple hasn’t yet fixed,” Reed Albergotti reports. “ZecOps began conducting research after finding suspicious lines of code on iPhones belonging to a client. … In an emailed statement, Apple spokesman Todd Wilder said the security flaws ZecOps discovered ‘do not pose an immediate risk to our users’ and would be addressed in a software update soon. … The hack that ZecOps says it discovered is referred to as a ‘zero click’ attack. … [ZecOps] believes the attack was likely carried out by a nation-state or a deep-pocketed entity.”

Social media speed read

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) shared a snapshot of herself and fellow lawmakers at the Detroit airport flying to D.C. for the vote:

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called for the removal of the new HHS communications director:

And Shakira has kept herself busy:

Videos of the day

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) revealed that her sister is dying of the coronavirus at the hospital:

Stephen Colbert said the Juggalos, who canceled their annual festival because of the virus, trust science more than the governor of Georgia: