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Governors across six states in the Northeast, from Rhode Island to Delaware, convened in a public conference call Monday afternoon to discuss a cooperative effort to reopen the region’s economy once the threat from the coronavirus has sufficiently subsided. The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced a similar initiative.

Pressed on the question of when to reopen the U.S. economy, Trump claimed he has the final word on the issue — even though the decision is actually up to the states. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total,” Trump said, incorrectly, when asked what power he believes he has as president to restart the economy.

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Trump administration informed Congress that it wants to delay all U.S. census field operations by about three months because of the coronavirus pandemic and is pursuing further delays that could upend redistricting.
  • China reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases since early March, most of them involving people returning from other countries. The uptick heightened fears of a second wave and led to new constraints on travel.
  • Trump dismissed concerns that he was going to fire Anthony S. Fauci, a leader on the White House task force, after he retweeted a message Sunday night that included the hashtag “FireFauci."
  • A sailor assigned to the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt has died of covid-19 complications, the Navy said.
  • The CIA privately advised its workforce that taking hydroxycholoroquine, a drug that President Trump has been championing as a promising treatment for coronavirus, has potentially dangerous side effects, including sudden death.
  • France’s national coronavirus lockdown will continue until May 11, President Emmanuel Macron announced. After that point, restrictions will only be partially released.

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April 13, 2020 at 11:52 PM EDT

Air Force debuts isolation system to evacuate contractors from Afghanistan

By Teo Armus

The Air Force used an isolation unit to evacuate three government contractors who tested positive for the coronavirus, it said Monday, in a journey of nearly 4,000 miles.

First developed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, these infectious diseases containment units allow patients to be treated in-flight while minimizing risks to crew, medical caregivers and the plane.

The three sick contractors were transported from Afghanistan to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. It was the first operational use of the isolation unit, the Air Force said.

The isolation system consists of a chamber for medical staff members that is attached to two isolation modules for the patients. The modules use air-filtration systems that trap and hold pathogens to curb the spread of the virus.

Medical workers care for patients inside the isolation modules, which are set up on retrofitted aircraft pallets normally used to transport goods. The health workers can use the additional chamber to decontaminate themselves and remove their protective equipment.

April 13, 2020 at 10:14 PM EDT

Federal appeals courts allow some abortions to continue in Oklahoma, Texas

By Jesse Dougherty and Teo Armus

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled Monday that abortions can continue in Oklahoma, upholding a reversal of Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to postpone all elective medical treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, a federal judge had put a temporary restraining order on Stitt’s decision, which was backed by the appeals court vote. The development comes a day after a judge ruled that medical providers in Alabama can continue providing abortions.

Also on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked Texas from enforcing curbs on medication-induced abortions.

As in Oklahoma, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had issued a temporary ban on abortions, saying he wanted to ensure that medical resources went to helping treat patients with covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Last week, an appeals court ruled to uphold Abbott’s order, and abortion providers on Saturday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and filed an official request Saturday.

The nation’s highest court has not yet acted on their petition. But Monday night’s ruling probably means that it will not need to weigh in at all, unless Texas tries to take up the ruling.

April 13, 2020 at 10:07 PM EDT

Fla. police chief on leave after allegedly linking deputy’s covid-19 death to homosexuality

By Samantha Pell

A Florida police chief has been placed on administrative leave after a police union said he belittled officers and said a sheriff’s deputy died of covid-19 because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual events.”

Davie Police Chief Dale Engle allegedly made the remarks in a tirade against officers after a patrol briefing on April 7, according to a complaint filed by Mike Tucker, the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police chief of staff.

Tucker stated that after several police employees expressed concerns about their risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus and inquired about related safety protocols, Engle berated his officers.

He yelled about their “baseless” concerns and launched into the “backstory” of Shannon Bennett, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy who had died of covid-19 four days earlier. The chief suggested that Bennett contracted — and died — of the virus because of his homosexuality.

The complaint states that Engle sent a department email where he “attempted to walk back some of his comments and minimize them as an attempt to ‘provide as much information as possible’ and that they may have been ‘taken out of context.’ ”

The town issued a statement on Saturday, stating that Engle was being placed on administrative leave pending further review of the allegations, and that it would not comment until the investigation is completed.

The Davie Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The national Fraternal Order of Police tweeted that if Engle indeed made the “disgusting” remarks, he should be fired.

“He should be stripped of his rank for making such divisive comments that do not reflect the inclusive values of America’s law enforcement,” the tweet read.

April 13, 2020 at 10:07 PM EDT

ESPN asks highest-paid commentators to take pay cut amid employee furloughs

By Ben Strauss

ESPN has asked its highest-paid commentators to take a voluntary salary reduction in the wake of the sports hiatus caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The three-month, 15 percent pay cut would affect roughly 100 of the company’s highest-paid broadcasters, writers and analysts.

The request from ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro comes on the heels of the company informing a number of employees who work on game production that they will be furloughed while sports are on hold.

“Today, I am asking you something that I never imagined I would,” Pitaro wrote to the selected employees Monday in an email that was shared with The Washington Post. “We are reaching out to about 100 of our on-air talent and commentators to ask that, at this time, you join our ESPN executives in taking a temporary reduction in pay. We are requesting that you take this reduction on for a three-month period.”

Read more here.

April 13, 2020 at 9:33 PM EDT

Social distancing should continue for a year or more until vaccine exists, Florida surgeon general says

By Samantha Pell

Social distancing in Florida will have to continue until a covid-19 vaccine exists, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said Monday.

“Until we get a vaccine — which is a while off — this is going to be our new normal, and we need to adapt and protect ourselves,” Rivkees said during a news briefing with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Rivkees said that “based upon what has been reported,” the estimates are that a vaccine will not exist for probably a year, if not longer. Rivkees said people must get accustomed to abiding by the mitigation tactics in place, including not gathering with 10 or more people, wearing masks in public and other efforts that he’s seen statewide.

“We don’t have a vaccine at the present time, so our mitigation measure is the social distancing, six feet away from each other. … As long as we are going to have covid in the environment, and this is a tough virus, we’re going to have to practice these measures so that we are all protected,” Rivkees said.

Shortly after Rivkees made his comments that a vaccine could take a year or more, a DeSantis spokesperson turned the conversation away from Rivkees and asked whether the media had questions for Mary Mayhew, secretary for the Agency for Health Care Administration.

While a question was asked of Mayhew, a DeSantis spokesperson went up to Rivkees and said a few words to him before Rivkees left the room and did not return.

A DeSantis official later said Rivkees had meetings to attend with DeSantis’s deputy chief of staff, Adrian Lukis, and state emergency operations center director, Jared Moskowitz.

“Dr. Rivkees was not pulled out of the press conference, which ran longer than expected,” DeSantis’s communications director Helen Ferre told The Post.

As of Monday, Florida has 20,601 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the state’s health department. Of that overall number, 20,035 are Florida residents, and 566 are non-Florida residents.

April 13, 2020 at 9:04 PM EDT

Prominent Virginia pastor who preached that ‘God is larger than this dreaded virus’ dies of covid-19

By Michelle Boorstein

A prominent Richmond-area pastor died Saturday night after contracting the coronavirus.

Bishop Gerald Glenn, founder and leader of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, was the first black chaplain of that community’s police department and was a police officer before becoming a pastor, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. He was a friend and a pillar of the region’s faith community, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tweeted.

Glenn preached to his congregation about the virus on March 22, five days after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) had urged people to “avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people.” Glenn told his congregation that “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” according to a video played April 6 by Richmond station WTVR.

Read more here.

April 13, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT

Fla. governor deems World Wrestling Entertainment ‘essential business’

By Jesse Dougherty

World Wrestling Entertainment, known as WWE, has temporarily moved all operations to Orlando, where it has continued to film television programs without an audience.

On Monday, 10 days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued a statewide stay-at-home-order in response to the coronavirus outbreak, he ruled that WWE is an “essential business.” That means it can keep operating in Orlando, where nonessential businesses have been forced to close.

“I think initially there was a review that was done, and they were not initially deemed an essential business," Jerry Demings, the mayor of Florida’s Orange County, said during a news conference on Monday. “With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business. So, therefore, they were allowed to remain open.”

It has been two days since WWE announced that an employee tested positive for covid-19. The employee is not an in-ring performer, WWE said, adding that they had no contact with performers or staff since they were exposed to the novel coronavirus. WWE said the employee tested positive on March 26 after coming into contact with a health-care worker, not someone from the company.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, Florida had 21,019 reported cases of covid-19 and 499 deaths related to the virus.

April 13, 2020 at 8:38 PM EDT

Anti-malarial drug touted by Trump was subject of CIA warning to employees

By Devlin Barrett

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.

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.

Read more here.

April 13, 2020 at 8:11 PM EDT

Trump says there will likely be a ‘major delay’ in U.S. census because of coronavirus

By Donna Cassata and Meryl Kornfield

The Trump administration will inform Congress that it wants to delay all U.S. census field operations by about three months because of the coronavirus pandemic and is pursuing further delays that could upend redistricting, Trump said Monday during a briefing, adding that he thinks 120 days “isn’t nearly enough.”

“We may be asking for an extension because, obviously, they can’t be doing very much right now,” Trump said. “They wouldn’t even be allowed to do it. So the census, we are going to be asking for a delay — a major delay.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the administration is seeking legislation from Congress to delay the statutory deadline by four months, postponing the submission of apportionment counts to the president from Dec. 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021, and the delivery of redistricting data to the states from March 31, 2021, to July 31, 2021.

The data on the number of Americans is used to draw state legislative and congressional districts.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said administration officials told lawmakers of the delays in a call Monday. Maloney said that the director of the Census Bureau was not on the call and that she is seeking more information.

“The Constitution charges Congress with determining how the Census is conducted, so we need the Administration to cooperate with our requests so we can make informed decisions on behalf of the American people,” Maloney said in a statement.

Ross said that as a result of the pandemic, the administration plans to delay field operations until June 1, with plans to complete the count on Oct. 31.

April 13, 2020 at 8:11 PM EDT

Virginia, Maryland and D.C. leaders say they will make their own decision on lifting restrictions

By Rachel Chason, Gregory S. Schneider and Fenit Nirappil

A group of scientists advising Virginia’s government said Monday that social distancing in the state appears to be working — but Gov. Ralph Northam (D) warned that lifting a stay-home order too soon would cause a spike in covid-19 cases that would overwhelm medical resources.

Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) pledged to coordinate as they weigh whether and how to end some restrictions designed to impede the spread of coronavirus. Hogan said those decisions will be made independent of President Trump.

“We’d love to have the president’s cooperation, but governors made decisions to take various actions in their states based on what they thought was right for their state, based on the facts on the ground, talking with doctors and scientists,” Hogan told Anderson Cooper on “Newsroom.” “I think individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states.”

Read more here.

April 13, 2020 at 7:22 PM EDT

Trump says, incorrectly, that he has ‘ultimate authority’ to reopen the economy

By Felicia Sonmez

Pressed on the question of when to reopen the U.S. economy, Trump claimed Monday that he has the final word on the issue — even though the decision is actually up to the states.

“I have the ultimate authority,” Trump said, incorrectly, when asked what power he believes he has as president to restart the economy.

He added: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total."

Trump also declined to say whether he believes it’s possible for restrictions to be relaxed by May 1.

“I don’t want to say that. You’ll be hearing over the next few days,” he said.

Governors in different regions of the country announced earlier Monday that they are teaming up to discuss a cooperative effort to reopen their respective economies.

But Trump on Monday dismissed the notion that some governors may disagree with him on the timing of a potential reopening. “I think that’s something that’s not going to happen,” Trump said, arguing that “the governors need us one way or the other” and maintaining that he is “very certain that there won’t be a problem."

“I support the president’s leadership under the national emergency declaration that he signed,” Pence said when asked about Trump’s claim that he has total authority, calling this an “unprecedented time.”

Asked who told him that the president’s authority is total, Trump did not answer the question.

“Enough,” he told a reporter.

April 13, 2020 at 6:47 PM EDT

Americans’ decision to stay at home is heavily influenced by official pronouncements, study finds

By William Wan and Philip Bump

The decision by Americans to hunker down during the coronavirus pandemic has been heavily influenced by pronouncements from national and local leaders, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report offers the most robust information to date showing the relationship between people’s behavior and official policies announced by the White House and local leaders.

The CDC used cellphone data from four cities — New York, San Francisco, Seattle and New Orleans — and correlated it with when governors, mayors and President Trump announced states of emergency, limits on mass gatherings, school closures and White House recommendations.

Read more here.

April 13, 2020 at 6:41 PM EDT

Trump lashes out at media over coronavirus coverage, plays video of reporters’ statements

By Felicia Sonmez

In a combative exchange Monday evening, Trump criticized reporters for their coverage of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and aired a campaign-style video in which he used journalists’ words against them.

Trump said the video was put together by White House social media director Dan Scavino and his team and that it probably took about “two hours” to make.

“I don’t mind being criticized, but not when they’re wrong,” Trump said, adding that he had decided to show the video “because we’re getting fake news.”

When CBS News reporter Paula Reid pressed Trump for answers on what steps he took to combat the virus in February, Trump repeatedly declined to say.

Finally, he lashed out at Reid. “You know you’re a fake. You know that,” he said.

Trump also maintained that he is not planning on firing Fauci, but also acknowledged that he had noticed the “#FireFauci” hashtag in a tweet he retweeted Sunday night.

“I notice everything,” Trump said. He later added: “Not everybody’s happy with Anthony. Not everybody’s happy with — everybody.”

April 13, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT

Fauci clarifies his CNN comments on early mitigation, says he was asked a ‘hypothetical question’

By Felicia Sonmez

At Monday’s coronavirus task force briefing, Anthony S. Fauci appeared to walk back his comments to CNN that had prompted a sharp response from Trump, explaining that he had been responding to a “hypothetical question” and was not intending to criticize the president.

“I can only tell you what I know and what my recommendations were,” Fauci told reporters. Asked about his claim that there had been “a lot of pushback” to his call for earlier mitigation efforts, Fauci replied, “That was the wrong choice of words."

He also disputed the notion that he had been forced by Trump to clarify his remarks.

“Everything I do is voluntarily,” Fauci said. “Please. Don't even imply that."

The briefing-room appearance came hours after the White House denied that Trump was considering firing Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease specialist.

For his part, the president praised Fauci and other public health experts at the start of Monday's briefing.

“This is all a tribute to our wonderful health-care experts and advisers who have been with us right from the beginning,” Trump said of the progress that has been made in battling the coronavirus, shortly before calling Fauci to the podium.