☕ Cover Shot Salute: Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Monday, March 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
Happy Friday All: we made it to the end of the week, together. It’s been a wild ride, and there is more to come but we will get through it, together. Keep an eye out for a note from us in regard to a slight rebranding. Be well, stay healthy, and remember: we’re all in this, together.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
As cases of Covid-19 have exploded across the U.S., state and local governments are taking on the task of testing for the coronavirus that causes it—and they have been quickly overwhelmed. Slowed by equipment shortages and struggling to keep pace, officials have set up a chaotic patchwork of testing sites, with access varying wildly from one place to another. Now some states and counties are pulling back, using their limited resources to test only the most vulnerable. Why it matters: Lawmakers and medical professionals are most worried about a shortage of ventilators, as coronavirus is a respiratory illness. While estimates say the US has an estimated 160,000 ventilators—far short of the 740,000 it would need in a ‘severe’ pandemic—Vice President Mike Pence told an anxious nation that the government has located tens of thousands of extras. Additionally, private companies ranging from Medtronic to General Motors (and even Tesla) are stepping up to increase production. WSJ / NBC / Fox News. Here’s how it’s playing:
- Trump’s Decision to Ban Travel From China Saved Lives Margot Cleveland, Federalist
- Trump Hasn’t Been Up to Coronavirus Challenge Carl Leubsdorf, Dallas Morning News
That’s the message the State Department issued to Americans overseas on Thursday. In fact, the Level 4 travel advisory for all international travel appears to be unprecedented and is the most severe such warning issued by the department. It urges American citizens who live abroad or otherwise cannot reach the U.S. to essentially stay where they are and avoid crossing international boundaries. What Else: Visa appointments — a crucial step for U.S. immigrants — will also be canceled in all countries with a travel advisory level of 2, 3 or 4. Meanwhile stateside a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases in some states raised the US total to more than 10,000. More below:
- What We’ll Learn About Ourselves During This Pandemic John Kass, Chicago Tribune
- I Recovered From Coronavirus. Here’s What I Want You to Know Christy Karras, ST
You wouldn’t know it from the bare grocery store shelves across the country, but America has plenty of food. The challenge is getting it from the farm to your table, the Wall Street Journal writes. “Companies that supply meat, vegetables and other staples are struggling to redirect the nation’s sprawling food supply chain to meet a surge in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” The Impacts: Per-pound prices for boneless chicken breasts are up 30% since the start of March. Milk production is set to rise 1.8% this year to a record 222.3 billion pounds, and egg production is projected to rise 1.7%. On the delivery front, some companies are struggling to keep up as well. Domino’s announced on Thursday that it’s looking to hire over 10,000 workers in positions ranging from delivery drivers to pizza makers.
- CEO Ritch Allison said, “Our corporate and franchise stores want to make sure they’re not only feeding people, but also providing opportunity to those looking for work at this time, especially those in the heavily-impacted restaurant industry.”
🌎 WORLD NEWS
Italy surpasses China in number of coronavirus deaths
Italy surpassed China for the most number of deaths related to COVID-19. By the numbers: The total number of cases in the country rose to 41,035 on Thursday, which includes 5,322 new cases. The number of deaths in Italy has reached 3,405. Italy has become the deadliest center of the COVID-19 outbreak. The current number of deaths in China stands at 3,242, according to the World Health Organization. Further Reading from the NYT: “I’m a Doctor in Italy. We Have Never Seen Anything Like This.”
Trump on repercussions for China: “We’re working on that right now”
President Trump said he is considering “repercussions” for the Chinese government’s handling of coronavirus, after days of placing the blame for the virus on the country. Quoted: “It would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier,” the President said at a news conference Thursday. “It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started. And certainly the world is paying a big price for what they did.” The President also expressed skepticism of China’s claim that they had no new cases of coronavirus Thursday. When asked if he was considering repercussions on the country, Trump answered: “We’re working on that right now.” Why it matters: A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited. CNN / Axios
Hundreds of Israelis Protest Netanyahu’s Strict Measures
Hundreds of Israelis mounted a protest convoy on the main highway into Jerusalem on Thursday, demonstrating against what they called anti-democratic measures by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies that they said were taking the country down a path to dictatorship. On Sunday Netanyahu shut down most courts. On Tuesday he ordered the Internal Security Agency to use a secret database of citizens’ cellphone data to track down people who may have come into contact with carriers of the illness. On Wednesday Parliament was closed. Of Note: the first two moves came in middle-of-the-night decrees without legislative consultation or oversight. Why it matters: “We are proud to be the only democracy in the Middle East, and we want to keep it that way,” said Shikma Schwartzman, a physicist from northern Israel whose angry Facebook post went viral. – NYT
US stocks staged a comeback on Thursday after central banks around the world implemented a range of emergency measures to combat the coronavirus. That being said the New York Stock Exchange announced that it will close its trading floor on Monday after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus. This will be the first closure since October 2012 when superstorm Sandy forced traders to stay home for two days. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the exchange’s longest closure, lasting about four months, came during the outbreak of World War I in 1914.” – BBC
Saints’ Sean Payton says he tested positive for coronavirus
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton tested positive for the coronavirus, he told ESPN on Thursday. Why it matters: Payton, 56, is the first person in the NFL world known to test positive for the virus. Payton said he didn’t feel well this past Sunday, took the test Monday, and received the results Thursday afternoon. – ESPN
No Slacking Off
Slack Technologies, a workplace communication company, added 7,000 paid customers between February 1 and March 18. The new sign-ups outpace the amount added in the entirety of the prior quarter. Microsoft Teams, a Slack competitor has also seen a similar surge. According to CNBC, the “service has over 44 million daily active users, up from 20 million in November.”
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1965: LBJ sends federal troops to Alabama to protect a civil rights march
On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson notifies Alabama’s Governor George Wallace that he will use federal authority to call up the Alabama National Guard in order to supervise a planned civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.