with Mariana Alfaro and Scott Clement
While overwhelming majorities of Americans initially gave their governor the benefit of the doubt when they issued orders aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, the push by some Republican leaders to quickly reopen states has come at a political cost.
A new Washington Post-Ipsos survey of over 8,000 adults has big enough sample sizes to break out state-level results for a dozen medium-to-large states. In these places, pluralities say their governor is handling the outbreak “about right.”
The exceptions are Florida, Texas and Georgia, where 48 percent of Floridians say restrictions are being lifted too quickly, along with 59 percent in Texas and 65 percent in Georgia.
Of the governors, Georgia’s Brian Kemp (R) is the only one who has an approval rating that is not higher than President Trump in his or her state for handling the outbreak. Kemp was one of the last leaders to issue a stay-at-home order and one of the first to roll it back. He drew opposition from Democrats – and a swath of Republicans – for overriding local restrictions that cities like Atlanta had put in place so that tattoo parlors, among other seemingly nonessential establishments, could reopen. While 39 percent approve of Kemp’s handling of the contagion, 44 percent of Georgians approve of Trump’s. That said, the president’s 56 percent disapproval rating suggests that the state could be in play this fall in the general election.
Nationally, more than 9 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they favor closures to deal with the virus, but there’s an almost even split among Republicans: 49 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say closures should be the top priority and 50 percent say it should be opening up businesses again.
More than 40 states are now in varying stages of lifting restrictions on travel, work and school. There is a patchwork of approaches along a continuum of caution. Down the line, we might see a similar dynamic for Democratic governors who are most hesitant to allow businesses to reopen, as Republican voters withdraw their support, but so far that has yet to materialize.
For now, most Americans still support a cautious approach. They appear to be listening closely to warnings from people like Tony Fauci, the government’s top expert on infectious diseases. Along with three other administration officials, Fauci will testify before the Senate health committee today via videoconference because he is in a “modified” self-quarantine as a result of limited exposure to a White House staffer who tested positive for the coronavirus. “The major message that I wish to convey … is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” Fauci wrote in an email to the New York Times on Monday night.
He said he will lay out the need to follow the benchmarks from the White House’s official three-phase plan on when individual states should reopen. Many states are not adhering to the guidelines, and they have been cheered on by Trump. “If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country,” Fauci wrote in the email. “This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
Watch our live coverage of Fauci’s testimony. Tune in at 9:30 a.m. Eastern for a 30-minute preview before the hearing starts at 10 a.m. I will join my colleagues Libby Casey, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Rhonda Colvin. We will offer analysis during any breaks and stick around for post-hearing analysis. Our live show will stream on The Post’s home page and here on YouTube.
A cautionary cartoon:
Overall, 71 percent of Americans in the poll approve of their governor’s performances, compared to 43 percent who approve of Trump’s efforts. Views of the president break down more clearly along partisan lines than of all the governors but Kemp. While more than 8 in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of Trump’s handling of the crisis, almost 9 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents disapprove.
Approval numbers for governors appear linked less to partisanship right now than people’s views of whether states should reopen. Previous polls have shown that Republicans who fear getting infected tend to be much more supportive of stay-at-home orders. For example, 86 percent of Ohio adults in the new poll say they approve of the slow-and-steady approach Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has taken to the crisis. That includes 84 percent of Republicans and an even larger 90 percent of Democrats.
The Washington Post-Ipsos poll was conducted through Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel, an online survey panel recruited through random sampling of U.S. households. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus one percentage point. The sample sizes for results in individual states reported here range from 219 in Georgia to 962 in California, with error margins ranging from 3.5 to 7.5 points.
The U.S. continues to be, by far, the world’s hottest hot spot, with 1.34 million confirmed cases and more than 80,000 deaths. Trump claimed on Monday that “coronavirus numbers” are decreasing almost everywhere. In fact, while the overall number of new daily infections in the United States has declined from its peak in mid-April, the daily case totals in several states continue rising, including Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota and Kansas.
The ground truth continues to undercut the overly sunny portrait Trump is offering at the White House. A secret White House report leaked last night to NBC News shows that infection rates are spiking in communities across the heartland: “The 10 top areas recorded surges of 72.4 percent or greater over a seven-day period compared to the previous week. They include Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas; and — atop the list, with a 650 percent increase — Central City, Kentucky.” A separate list of “locations to watch" included Charlotte; Kansas City, Mo.; Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; and Minneapolis.
What other governors are doing:
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) will require restaurants that reopen to keep a log of customers for 30 days, including contact information and time, to help in any contact tracing, should that be necessary. (Seattle Times)
- Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) faces bipartisan opposition over his order that state officials share the names and addresses of all people who test positive for the virus with sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state. (Antonia Farzan)
- South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said that businesses, including hair salons, nail salons and tattoo parlors, will be able to open on May 18. He made the announcement the same day his state reported 140 new infections and 15 new deaths. (Post and Courier)
- Alabama reached 10,000 confirmed cases and passed 400 covid-19 deaths on Monday, just as Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) order to loosen restrictions on gatherings and businesses took effect. (WSFA12)
- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) allowed nearly all nonessential retail stores to reopen, as long as they serve no more than five customers at a time. (Wisconsin State Journal)
- Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) introduced a four-stage reopening plan, saying a few businesses could start opening on May 18 if public health data continues to trend in a positive direction. His first phase is titled “Start” and is limited to industries that are more naturally set up to have little face-to-face interaction. (NBC Boston)
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has become the target of dozens of threats on private Facebook groups. The pages reviewed by Metro Times have a combined 400,000 members and are filled with “paranoid, sexist and grammar-challenged rants, with members encouraging violence and flouting the governor’s social-distancing orders.”
- Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) attended two different events aimed at defying Gov. Brad Little’s (R) four-stage reopening plan on May 2, a day after the state's stay-at-home order expired. She attended a “Liberate Idaho” rally at the Statehouse in Boise and then flew to the North Idaho town of Kendrick to attend the reopening of a brewery. Under Little’s reopening plan, though, bars and nightclubs aren’t allowed to reopen until mid-June at the earliest. (KTVB)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said the D.C. suburbs will probably be excluded from the state’s initial reopening.
“Of nearly 1,000 new coronavirus infections reported in the state Monday, almost three-quarters of them were clustered in the D.C. suburbs, which account for about 40 percent of the state’s population,” Michael Miller, Gregory Schneider and Fenit Nirappil report. “Northam’s offer to let the D.C.-area suburbs reopen more slowly is an attempt to satisfy forces pulling in opposite directions. Republicans in rural parts of the state have argued that their areas are not as affected by the pandemic, and merchants in some tourist-heavy regions — such as Hampton Roads — say their economies will be wrecked if they can’t start reopening as summer approaches. But dense Northern Virginia reacted with alarm last week when Northam suggested he might move toward easing restrictions. A similar split has developed in Maryland, where cases are also concentrated in the D.C. suburbs. While Republicans in more rural areas have decried the strict shutdown orders of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), the Democratic leaders of hard-hit Prince George’s and Montgomery counties have already said they won’t be part of any reopening Hogan may order in coming days. …
“D.C. officials unveiled a makeshift hospital overflow center at the downtown Walter E. Washington Convention Center that will be able to treat nearly 500 covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms, preserving hospital space for those who need to be in intensive care or on ventilators. The convention center hall that just months ago featured high-end cars for the annual auto show has been converted to a medical surge site … D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) called the joint project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the city’s ‘insurance policy’ against a potential surge of cases. The city has plenty of hospital beds available, after covid-19 hospitalizations peaked at 477 in late April and have since trended downward. … Officials said it cost about $55 million to set up … With no conventions planned at the center in the near future, Bowser said the city will use the overflow center ‘as long as we need it.’”
More on the federal response
Trump claimed the U.S. leads the world in testing, but the numbers tell a different story.
“The administration said it will distribute $11 billion to states to facilitate testing — from money already approved by Congress for coronavirus relief — as Trump claimed, ‘We have met the moment and we have prevailed.’ He said the United States should pass 10 million completed tests this week, ‘nearly double the number of any other country,'” Anne Gearan, Brady Dennis, Philip Rucker and John Wagner report. “But the White House event Monday afternoon amounted to an acknowledgment that there is not yet enough testing capacity across the United States … The United States as of Sunday had completed nearly 9 million coronavirus tests, according to the Covid Tracking Project. While an enormous number, the figure is equivalent to just 2.74 percent of the U.S. population … There are far higher levels of per-capita testing in other parts of the world. In tiny Iceland, the figure is an extraordinary 15.4 percent, but that amounts to about 54,000 tests across a population of 352,000 people. … Italy has conducted tests equivalent to 4.31 percent of its population, and Germany is at 3.35 percent.”
Finding a vaccine won’t be enough to end the pandemic.
“Johnson & Johnson’s race to manufacture a billion doses of coronavirus vaccine is ramping up in a small biotechnology plant near Interstate 95 in Baltimore. But even as technicians prepare to lower 1,000-liter plastic bags of ingredients into steel tanks for brewing the first batches of experimental vaccine, international concern is bubbling about what countries will get the first inoculations,” Christopher Rowland, Carolyn Johnson and William Wan report. “If SARS-CoV-2 establishes itself as a stubborn, endemic virus akin to influenza, medical experts say, there almost certainly will not be enough vaccine for at least several years, even with the unprecedented effort to manufacture billions of doses. About 70 percent of the world’s population — or 5.6 billion people — will probably need to be inoculated to begin to establish herd immunity and slow its spread, scientists say.
"Yet the nationalistic priorities of individual nations could thwart the strategic imperative to tamp down hot spots wherever they are on the planet — including poor countries that cannot afford the vaccine. The United States in particular could be left in the cold if vaccines developed here as part of a go-it-alone approach turn out to be less effective than those produced in China or Europe. The scenario public health experts fear most is a worldwide fight in which manufacturers sell only to the highest bidders, rich countries try to buy up the supplies, and nations where manufacturers are located hoard vaccines for their own citizens. … In the United States, the federal government agency in charge of emergency vaccine development indicated it is prioritizing domestic concerns — an ‘America First’ mentality that has shaped much of the Trump administration’s pandemic response."
The virus has devastated the Navajo Nation, as many feel ignored by the administration.
“There's a lack of running water, medical infrastructure, Internet access, information and adequate housing. And as of Wednesday, as the Navajo tried desperately to take care of themselves, the promised help from the U.S. government had, as usual, not yet arrived,” Robert Klemko reports. “Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, 44, watching over the volunteer operation in a parking lot that day, said the tribe had not received ‘one cent’ of the $8 billion that was allocated to Native American communities as part of the Cares Act passed in Washington on March 18. Nearly 2,700 people had fallen ill, and more than 80 had died, with the 350,000-resident reservation becoming one of the worst-of-the-worst American hot spots. Almost everyone knew someone who was sick, or someone who had died.”
After years of struggles amid Trump's trade wars, farmers now face their worst crisis since the early 1980s.
“Trump promised this year to deliver a financial bonanza for American farmers, boosted by two historic trade deals that would free them from their dependence on government bailouts. Instead, as the local Wendy’s runs out of hamburgers and some shelves at Costco lie bare, farmers are forced to euthanize millions of hogs and chickens, give away tons of unwanted potatoes, and pour out enough milk to fill a small lake. The closure of most U.S. restaurants amid the covid-19 pandemic has thrown the nearly $2 trillion food industry into chaos, convulsing specialized supply chains that are struggling to adjust,” David Lynch, Annie Gowen and Laura Reily report. “The health crisis also has exposed an agricultural economy that despite repeated injections of taxpayer support finds many farmers under growing and unexpected financial pressure. ‘It’s going to be years before we return to where we were,’ said Ryan Cranney, a potato farmer in Burley, Idaho, who said he faces losses of $3.5 million. … Prices for commodities such as corn and wheat have dropped since March by double-digit percentages. …
"Scott Blubaugh, 55, a cattle rancher and crop farmer in Tonkawa, Okla., said last year’s trade war payments covered only about 60 percent of his lost soybean sales. The $19 billion the Cares Act allocates to pandemic relief is ‘completely inadequate,’ he said. ‘If Congress does nothing more than what they’ve done to this point we will have a very bad crisis in agriculture that will be equal to the 1980s,’ he said. The cattle market has suffered a 38 percent decline in the price of live cattle in his state since February, exacerbated by the closures of a dozen large meat packing plants across the country amid the spread of covid-19, he said. The stress is palpable. As president of the state’s Farmer’s Union, Blubaugh takes referrals from the national Farm Aid hotline. On May 1, his state group set up its own suicide hotline for farmers with three trained ranchers to answer emergency calls. The memory of one recent call stayed with Blubaugh. ‘He had the gun loaded, and his wife called Farm Aid,’ he said. ‘He was crying and just saying, ‘I just want out of this.’”
- California wants to feed the families of low-income students, but this is against the USDA’s guidelines. Still, some districts are feeding them anyway, forgoing any potential reimbursement from the Trump administration. (Laura Reiley)
- France is encouraging residents to eat more cheese as an act of patriotism to help the dairy industry amid a massive surplus caused by the pandemic. Americans have not been asked to step up this way. (New York Post)
The White House implemented a stringent mask policy, but it doesn't apply to Trump.
“A memo Monday instructed most White House officials to wear masks or face coverings in the West Wing, as well as avoid ‘unnecessary visits’ there,” Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report. “In a sign of the haphazard effort to impose more stringent safety standards inside the White House, one senior administration official and several other aides were still arguing that masks were unnecessary for people getting regular testing just moments before the memo was sent. … [Vice President] Pence, who was exposed to his infected staffer, has declined to fully isolate himself, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that people in close contact with someone who has the virus remain at home for 14 days to protect others. … Public health officials say that by flouting the administration’s best practices, White House officials are not just modeling poor behavior for the public but also putting themselves and the president at risk. … A senior administration official said the vice president and president are expected to maintain some distance for the immediate future and are unlikely to be in the same room. …
“Inside the White House, the level of anxiety has oscillated. Trump feels both frustrated and stuck … He can’t go out and campaign, coronavirus deaths are climbing, his poll numbers are faltering, and he believes he is not getting sufficient credit … Trump is also ‘a total germaphobe,’ one former official said. … Staff worries have largely been based on their relative access to Trump. Those who interact with the president regularly are getting tested daily, which has helped reassure them as to their safety. But those who do not regularly see the president, yet work in the West Wing or Eisenhower Executive Office Building, are not tested as frequently and are more anxious about catching or spreading the virus … The result has been something of an unspoken caste system among White House staff … [E]ven inside the West Wing, there exist ‘the Haves and the Have Nots,’ with less senior officials feeling more vulnerable. … The senior staff meeting has been divided into two rotating groups — one of which calls in and the other attends in person in the Roosevelt Room. …
“Yet there has been some internal resistance to stringent measures. Some White House officials believe CDC Director Robert Redfield and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn — both of whom are quarantining for 14 days after their exposure to [Pence press secretary Katie] Miller — are overreacting. Some on Pence’s team had previously worried that having White House staff wear masks was poor optics, and, in an earlier, heated debate between the White House and CDC, argued that only people in virus hot spots should be required to wear masks … Because the president is often swayed by those in closest contact with him, aides and advisers have felt pressure to keep as close to him as possible. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale has twice flown to Washington from his Florida home, while Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has done so once — both for meetings with the president that could have been done via phone.”
Trump’s planned visit to a Pennsylvania factory was canceled because of a company's concern for worker safety.
“White House staff thought they had hit on the ideal event: a presidential visit to thank the Pennsylvania factory workers who had recently taken herculean steps to ramp up U.S. supplies of protective equipment. Workers had received national attention after dozens of them lived for 28 days inside their factory so they could ensure they were virus-free and their production was not contaminated or disrupted by illness. White House officials pressed to hold an event at the Braskem factory, initially scheduled for last Friday. But after extensive back and forth, factory officials ultimately asked to postpone, worried that a visit from Trump could jeopardize both the safety of the workers and the plant’s ability to produce special material for masks and other medical gear, according to two people familiar with the decision and documents reviewed by The Post,” Carol Leonnig scoops.
Debbie Birx said the distribution of remdesivir, a key coronavirus drug, was flawed. “We can later review the decision-making process, the lack of engagement of Task Force, and the methodology and analysis used by the data and modeling group that resulted in the misalignment of the therapeutic and on-the-ground current need in the first shipment so we can be assured this doesn’t occur in the future,” Birx said in a May 7 email sent to fellow coronavirus task force members, which was leaked to the Wall Street Journal.
Trump abruptly ended a news conference after clashes with CBS's Weijia Jiang and CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
“Jiang asked Trump why he was putting so much emphasis on the amount of coronavirus tests that have been conducted in the United States. ‘Why does that matter?’ Jiang asked. ‘Why is this a global competition to you if everyday Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?’ Trump replied that ‘they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world. And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question.’ He called for another question, and there was no immediate response,” the AP reports. “‘Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?’ Jiang asked. Jiang, who has worked for CBS News since 2015, was born in Xiamen, China, and emigrated to the United States with her family at age 2. Trump said he would say that to ‘anyone who asks a nasty question.’ ‘It’s not a nasty question,’ Jiang said. ‘Why does that matter?’ Trump again asked for another question, then said, ‘Nah, that’s OK’ and waved off CNN’s Collins when she approached the microphone. ‘You pointed to me,’ Collins said. The president said, ‘I pointed to you and you didn’t respond.’ Collins said she was giving Jiang the time to finish her questioning. ‘Can I ask a question?’ Collins said. With that, Trump called an end to the news conference, held in the White House Rose Garden, and walked away.”
Quote of the day
“If the economy continues to crater, I think that presents serious problems for the president,” said Michael McAdams, the spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. (PBS)
Dispatches from the front lines
Thermal scanners are the latest technology being used to detect the virus. They don’t really work.
“Companies and communities eager to get back to work have touched off a nationwide gold rush for thermal scanners, which measure the heat on a person’s skin and can be used to estimate whether someone is feverish,” Drew Harwell reports. “But industry veterans say the frenzy also is stirring up confusion and leading some small businesses and public officials to spend heavily on cameras without understanding their limitations — namely, that they’re not very good at actually detecting infections. While the systems can sense elevated skin temperatures, they aren’t precise enough to tell whether someone has a fever or something else: The warmth of a person’s skin is often quite different from their core body heat. People with heavier builds, health conditions or hot flashes can trigger the system’s alarms; so, too, can anyone just walking in from a hot car or parking lot. Many people with covid-19 infections haven’t actually had fevers.”
- Hyatt plans to slash 1,300 jobs amid poor prospects for the travel industry. (Antonia Farzan)
- Stage Stores, which operates 738 stores in 42 states under names like Palais Royal and Gordmans, announced plans to liquidate and search for a buyer, becoming the third major retailer to file for bankruptcy in the past week. (Abha Bhattarai)
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk reopened his factory in Fremont, Calif., defying county orders and daring local officials to arrest him. (Faiz Siddiqui)
- A group of Los Angeles County jail inmates tried to get themselves infected with the virus to get early releases, according to the county sheriff’s department. The effort ended in 21 inmates testing positive for the virus in less than a week. “Somehow there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment — and that’s not gonna happen,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva, as he released surveillance footage to back up his claims. (Timothy Bella)
A few faces of the fallen:
- Tiffany Mofield, a woman detained in a New Jersey prison, died from the virus after officials moved her from the infirmary where she was being quarantined into a solitary confinement unit, even though her symptoms persisted. She was 43. (The Intercept)
- Unique Clay, a USPS worker in Chicago, died from the virus just days after giving birth to a baby girl. Clay tested positive when she went to deliver her third child last month but was later discharged. She started showing signs of the virus days after being home, where she died at 31. (CBS Chicago)
- Celso Mendoza, a Mississippi poultry worker and Mexican immigrant who fought for better pay and work conditions, died from the virus at 59. (Clarion Ledger)
- Richard Paul Thornell, a Howard law professor known for starting the first Peace Corps program abroad, died from the virus. Thornell, the second black graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, was 83. (Tara Bahrampour)
MLB owners have a plan to start the baseball season.
They will present a proposal today to the players’ union that outlines a tentative midsummer start and features adaptable scheduling and rule changes designed to maximize a dwindling calendar. The plans include the staging of 78 to 82 regular season games beginning in July – without fans, at least at first – in as many home stadiums as possible. (Dave Sheinin)
- Ramped-up testing could also pave the way for the NFL season to go on. The season starts in about four months, at which point Fauci thinks it is at least “feasible” that fans could see football get underway as planned – though not from the stands, at least at first. (Des Bieler)
Shot: Big food brands are seeing sales and stock prices jump thanks to stay-at-home snacking.
“Packaged grocery brands that had run up against Americans’ growing preference for fresh and private-label foods are seeing a resurgence as iconic brands like Goldfish, Oreos, Campbell Soup and Doritos fill the pantries of homebound consumers in search of small pleasures,” Thomas Heath reports. “Major processed food companies such as General Mills, Conagra, Kellogg and Campbell’s are among suppliers whose snacks, canned goods and frozen food have taken off, often sending their stock prices along for the ride.”
Chaser: School closings may spur childhood obesity.
“Childhood obesity experts are worrying that children — who often gain weight during the summer when they’re home — will add even more pounds, escalating an already serious public health problem,” Marlene Cimons reports. “Research has found that children, especially racial and ethnic minorities, are at greater risk of weight gain when they are out of school. Not only are they out of school now, social distancing is also keeping many indoors."
The foreign fallout
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says he is hospitalized with the coronavirus.
“Peskov, a key aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday, ‘Yes, I’ve gotten sick. I’m being treated.’ Peskov, 52, has been Putin’s spokesman since 2008, but started working him with in the early 2000s,” the AP reports. “Reporters from the Kremlin pool said on Twitter that Peskov was last seen in public on April 30 ‘at a meeting with Vladimir Putin.’ It was not clear whether it means the two were in the same room, as Putin has been conducting all his meetings via teleconference in recent weeks.”
The virus has left those in India’s slums highly vulnerable.
“They did the best they could — a family of seven crammed into a single room in [Dharavi], one of Asia’s largest slums — but a month after India imposed a nationwide lockdown, the money ran out. Ejaz Ahmed Chowdhary turned to his 11-year-old nephew and opened the red plastic box that contained the boy’s childhood savings: $10. It would buy food for another week. After that, there would be nothing. Chowdhary’s tiny phone repair shop had been closed for weeks. He was ashamed of needing help but was gripped by fear, both of the future and of the disease stalking the city of Mumbai. Before the coronavirus, ‘our life was limited and small, but it was good,’ he said. ‘Now everything is ruined,” Joanna Slater, Niha Masih and Parth M.N. report. “Made globally famous by the Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ the real-life Dharavi is a teeming hub of small-scale industry. Families and workers pack into tiny one-room shacks along snaking lanes barely wide enough for two people. Toilets are communal, and water is scarce. …
"Finding a way to control the virus without letting people fall into destitution is the task of local officials like Kiran Dighavkar, the assistant municipal commissioner in charge of Dharavi and two other nearby areas. Dighavkar is engaged in a race against time, trying to find the virus before it spreads in these tight quarters. Social distancing is all but impossible in the slum, he notes … The strategy for the area focuses on screening and isolating potential patients. … The days pass by in a blur, Dighavkar said, marked by a constant stream of phone calls — people calling with bad news, people calling for help, people calling to complain. ‘Sometimes not to think is the best option, only to keep working,’ Dighavkar said. He worries that there is no end in sight.”
In France, communities that previously lamented their isolation have found that it spared them from the worst.
“In December 2018, a handful of ‘yellow vest’ protesters walked 482 miles from Lozère, a district in southern France, to the presidential palace in Paris. They collected grievances from people they met along the way: people who felt isolated, forgotten by the government, socially and economically disconnected from the French capital,” James McAuley reports. “Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, isolation has become a means of survival, and the people of Lozère have found themselves at something of an advantage. As of Friday, only 20 people in the district had been found to have had the coronavirus, with just two of them hospitalized. Lozère is the only district in metropolitan France to count just one coronavirus death.” On Monday, France began relaxing its restrictions after a two-month lockdown. But while commuters crowded onto the Paris metro during rush hour, for most of the day, there was still an inescapable feeling of emptiness, James writes.
- Europe’s biggest airline, Ryanair, said it will begin flying in July. Passengers will be required to wear face masks at all times, both on the plane and in the airport. Temperature checks may also be conducted at the airport, and those who do not pass will be unable to fly. (Jennifer Hassan)
- Travelers will once again be allowed into Spain now that the country has eased one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, but they’ll have to undergo a 14-day quarantine starting May 15. Incoming travelers, including Spanish nationals, must remain inside with outings only for grocery shopping and medical appointments. (Pamela Rolfe)
South Korea’s LGBTQ community has been shoved into an unwelcome spotlight.
“South Korea is in a race to contain a new coronavirus outbreak in a Seoul party district, prompting a return of social distancing just as the country was easing restrictions. Tracing who was there, however, runs up against the feelings of a gay community that prefers anonymity,” Min Joo Kim reports. “At least 79 cases have been linked to nightclubs and bars that the cluster’s suspected ‘patient zero’ visited the previous weekend. … What complicates this search is that many among those clubgoers may not want to be identified because of the stigma attached to the Itaewon establishments catering to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer clientele. Although homosexuality is not outlawed in South Korea, discrimination and hate speech against LGBTQ people remain rampant in the country. Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in South Korea, and LGBTQ people have little legal protection.”
Other news that should be on your radar
Trump’s bid to shield his tax returns will be tested at the Supreme Court.
“The court will spend hours in teleconferenced hearings — with the world listening in — on three cases with potential landmark constitutional consequences. All concern Trump’s long-running legal fight to shield years of income tax returns from public view and keep his private financial records from the hands of Democratic-led House committees and a New York district attorney,” Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow report. “The court’s conclusion this summer will carry major implications for the limits of presidential power and accountability, and could affect the fall election. Also at stake is the public’s perception of the court itself. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. already this year has presided over Trump’s impeachment trial and no doubt hopes the court can emerge from this legal showdown, regardless of outcome, with its boast of neutrality intact.”
- Trump narrowly outraised Joe Biden in April, but he still has a significant cash lead. (Michelle Ye Hee Lee)
- The Democratic Party plans to adopt new rules today to narrow the scope of its nominating convention, potentially paving the way for a limited in-person gathering or a virtual event. (Michael Scherer)
- California is holding a special election today to fill the House seat of Katie Hill, a Democrat who resigned last year in a sex scandal. (Los Angeles Times)
Georgia’s attorney general assigned a fourth prosecutor in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
“Joyette M. Holmes of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit is the fourth prosecutor to take the case," Michael Brice-Saddler and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. report. “Separately, a Justice Department spokeswoman announced Monday that the agency is ‘assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crime charges are appropriate’ in the racially charged case.”
- The family of 26-year-old aspiring nurse Breonna Taylor is looking for answers in the fatal police shooting of the Louisville woman in her apartment. (The 19th)
A retired Afghan general has defected to the Taliban.
This comes “as concerns rise over members of the Afghan security forces switching sides at a critical moment in the war. A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry called the news ‘regretful’ in a statement Sunday, accusing retired Gen. Abdul Jalil Bakhtawar of choosing ‘violence over a life of dignity,’” Susannah George reports. “A Taliban spokesman released a video Monday welcoming Bakhtawar.”
- Gunmen set off an explosion at the entrance of one of Kabul’s busiest hospitals today before storming the building and killing 13, including two newborns. In a separate incident, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral ceremony of a police officer in eastern Afghanistan, killing 15 and wounding 56. The Taliban denied responsibility for both attacks. (Sharif Hassan)
Social media speed read
This virus does not mess around, and neither should you:
My patient with COVID was discharged home on a low dose blood thinner 3 days ago. Today he was readmittted with innumerable blood clots in his lungs as well as new pulmonary infarcts. He is back in the ICU.— Dr. M (@MaaloufMD) May 10, 2020
But yes, tell me more about how wearing masks is the real horror.
A reporter for the American Prospect created a guide to the complicated process of getting insurance for people who lose their jobs:
My not so fun flowchart of what a nightmare shopping for the best health insurance is after losing your employer insurance during a pandemic produced depression. So simple right? https://t.co/Rxoesf5Gjq pic.twitter.com/596xYOVtKT— Jon Walker (@JonWalkerDC) May 11, 2020
The House minority leader needled Democrats for not bringing the House into session:
Two blocks from the Capitol, you can get a coffee or tea. Yet Democrats refuse to open up the House of Representatives.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 11, 2020
It’s time for Congress to get to work. pic.twitter.com/WBl4IaTKru
Gyms will look different when they reopen:
Videos of the day
Joe Biden's newest ad highlights clips of Trump downplaying the danger of the virus:
Donald Trump just doesn't understand: We have an economic crisis because we have a public health crisis — and we have a public health crisis because he failed to act. pic.twitter.com/hRrueGgx2C— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 11, 2020
Stephen Colbert said Trump threw a “hissy fit” in the Rose Garden:
Trevor Noah took a look at the outbreak inside the White House: