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Coronavirus Live Updates: Governors Push Back at Trump Over Authority to Reopen

Governors push back on Trump’s claim that he “calls the shots.”

Governors on Tuesday responded scornfully to President Trump’s insistence — widely challenged by legal scholars — that he had the authority to direct the reopening of the American economy by himself.

“We don’t have a king; we have a president,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” In a separate appearance on MSNBC, he warned that if Mr. Trump tried to force an economic reopening on the states, it could lead to “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades, where states tell the federal government, ‘We’re not going to follow your order.’”

One of Mr. Cuomo’s partners in the coordinated effort to reopen the Northeast, Gov. Ned Lamont, Democrat of Connecticut, told CNN that “verbal hand grenades” from Mr. Trump should not “distract from a lot of other good work that’s going on.”

And Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who is the chairman of the National Governors Association, pushed back after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the decision to reopen states rested with him, not with governors.

“It’s not my understanding of the Constitution,” Mr. Hogan said in an interview Monday on CNN. He praised the cooperation of the federal government while making clear that he believed the ultimate authority would lie with the states and their governors.

“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,” Mr. Hogan said in the interview. “And I think individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states.”

The governors have been reacting to Mr. Trump’s signals in recent days that he alone has the ultimate power to make the decision of when to ease the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions that governors across the country have enacted to slow the spread of the virus.

In an extraordinary White House briefing on Monday evening, Mr. Trump claimed that “numerous provisions” in the Constitution, which he did not name, gave him the authority to override the states if they wanted to remain closed. Legal experts say presidents have no such power.

“The president of the United States calls the shots,” Mr. Trump said. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”

His position — a reversal of his earlier arguments that states were largely in charge of fighting the pandemic — raised profound constitutional questions about presidential power and once again set him on a potential collision course with the states.

And after groups of governors on the East and West Coasts announced Monday that they planned to work together in regional groups to decide when and how to reopen business, Mr. Trump compared them in a Twitter post to mutineers who took over a ship from a captain they believed was abusing his crew.

Although Mr. Cuomo excoriated Mr. Trump in interview after interview on Tuesday, he adopted a more conciliatory tone by late morning, when he held a news conference in Albany.

“I am not going to fight with him,” Mr. Cuomo said of the president, adding, “This is no time for any division between the federal government and the state government.” But he conceded that he believed Mr. Trump was “clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue.”

Beyond Democratic governors and legal scholars, some of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies have also questioned his sweeping claim of executive power. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, posted on Twitter the text of the Tenth Amendment.

The International Monetary Fund issued a stark warning about economic damage from the coronavirus, saying on Tuesday that the global economy faces its worst downturn since the Great Depression as shuttered factories, quarantines and national lockdowns cause economic output around the world to collapse.

The grim forecast underscored the magnitude of the economic shock that the pandemic has inflicted on both advanced and developing economies and the daunting task that policymakers face in containing the fallout. With countries already hoarding medical supplies and international travel curtailed, the I.M.F. warned that the crisis threatened to reverse decades of gains from globalization.

In its World Economic Outlook, the I.M.F. projected that the global economy would contract by 3 percent in 2020, an extraordinary reversal from earlier this year, when the fund forecast that it would outpace 2019 and grow by 3.3 percent.

This year’s drop in output would be far more severe than the last recession, when the world economy contracted by less than 1 percent between 2008 and 2009. A 3 percent decline in global output would be the worst since the Great Depression, the I.M.F. said.

The economic damage in the United States was expected to be severe, the I.M.F. said, with the American economy projected to shrink by about 6 percent in 2020. The global group cast doubt about the prospect of a so-called V-shaped recovery in the United States, suggesting that a sharp rise in unemployment and disruptions to supply chains would keep the economy below its previrus trend next year.

That trend can be seen in trade data, where slowing economic activity has caused global commerce to plummet. Tracking published by S & P Global Panjiva on Tuesday showed global shipments of goods into the United States fell by 10.1 percent in March, the lowest number of monthly shipments since 2016. Consumer goods have been hit particularly hard, with shipments of furniture, apparel, steel and electronics falling by more than 15 percent last month compared with one year ago.

Other analyses offer a similarly bleak picture. Moody’s said it expects unemployment to peak between 9 percent and 16 percent in the second quarter. For comparison, the unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent during the Great Recession. While the fiscal stimulus and emergency measures being rolled out across the United States are expected to ease the pain, Moody’s expects some companies, particularly smaller ones, to fail.

“These measures are unlikely to prevent irreversible credit deterioration and, in many cases, outright default for smaller, weaker companies with speculative-grade ratings.”

In 2020, the I.M.F. projects that the United States economy will contract by 5.9 percent. In the Euro area, it will shrink by 7.5 percent, led by steep declines in Italy and Spain.

Emerging markets and developing economies will not be spared, but in some cases they fare better. In China, where the virus originated and where draconian measures were imposed to combat it, growth is forecast to slow to a rate of 1.2 percent this year. Growth in India is expected to slow to 1.9 percent.

The fund calls for governments to invest in supporting their health care systems and ensuring that workers maintain ties to their jobs during lockdowns so that economic activity can resume when the virus recedes.

“This is a crisis like no other, and there is substantial uncertainty about its impact on people’s lives and livelihoods,” Ms. Gopinath said.

Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the economic damage is not likely to be erased quickly, particularly if people continue to be worried about contracting the virus.

“We know after the Great Depression people carried the scars of that experience with them for many, many years,” Mr. Kashkari said in an interview on the “Today” show, noting that in the bounce-back people will need to feel comfortable going out again. “I think the longer that this goes on, the more people who are affected by it, the longer that recovery is going to be.”

New York’s death toll climbed by 778 on Monday, Mr. Cuomo said Tuesday, ending a brief run of declines.

Monday’s deaths pushed the state’s fatality count to 10,834, the highest in the nation. And although New York’s daily toll was higher than others in recent days — 758 people died on Saturday, and there were 671 more deaths on Sunday — Mr. Cuomo said late Tuesday morning that the count was “basically flat at a devastating level of pain and grief.”

Hospitals are still admitting many patients, including 1,649 on Monday, with the virus. And in neighboring New Jersey, the authorities reported 365 deaths, the state’s largest one-day toll since the outbreak began.

Officials like Mr. Cuomo, encouraged by data suggesting a flattening curve, have begun to edge toward setting a strategy for reopening New York, partnering with other states in the Northeast, including New Jersey, to create a coordinated strategy. But Mr. Cuomo has emphasized that the reopening was dependent on New Yorkers continuing to observe the restrictions that were imposed weeks ago.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had warned for weeks that a shuttered New York City’s return to normal depended on increasing its capacity to test for the virus, announced that the city would have a regular supply of about 400,000 test kits per month.

Starting next Monday, the city will buy 50,000 test kits a week from a company in Indiana. And in May, manufacturers and labs in New York City will begin supplying another 50,000 kits per week.

“For the first time, we’re going to have a truly reliable major supply of testing,” Mr. de Blasio said.

The mayor also released the latest statistics on three indicators that he has said will have to trend consistently downward for New York City to reopen.

Only one of those indicators, the number of suspected patients admitted to city hospitals, had declined from Saturday to Sunday, the most recent data available on Tuesday.

The other two — the number of intensive-care unit admissions of suspected virus patients at the city’s public hospitals, and the percentage of people testing positive — had both risen slightly.

The state has been ahead of the rest of the country in confronting the pandemic, locking down early and so far avoiding worst-case scenarios for infections and deaths.

But as the national conversation begins to shift to reopening and President Trump beats the drum of economic revival, California’s extremely cautious approach toward the virus is a measure of how complicated it will be to restart the country.

“We’re not going to flip the switch and suddenly have the economy return to what it was and everyone come out of their homes simultaneously,” Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said in an interview. “People’s physical interactions, people’s spatial understandings, people’s risk-taking will come slowly.”

How the nation’s largest economy calibrates the reopening will have huge ramifications for the rest of the country, providing examples of what works, and what doesn’t, especially given limits on testing capacity.

Last month, President Trump spoke with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, to reach a truce to the sniping over the coronavirus pandemic, paving the way for steady shipments of much-needed medical supplies from China. But as the death toll grows in the United States and hospitals still struggle with equipment shortages, American officials and executives point to new problems in buying equipment or taking donations from China.

Shipments have run into unexpected delays as Chinese officials impose new regulations in response to complaints of low-quality products. And some American officials remain reluctant to accept gifts of gear because they fear giving the Chinese Communist Party a propaganda win.

The two superpowers are vying to project global leadership roles during the crisis, despite deep failures in how senior officials in both nations responded to outbreaks. At the moment, Chinese officials have the power to make it easy or difficult for vital supplies to flow to the United States and other nations. The two sides must work closely to orchestrate the shipments, even as American officials harbor deep suspicions over China’s “donation diplomacy,” a global effort by Beijing involving planeloads of medical gear and delegations of health experts.

The complications could bolster the arguments of some Trump administration officials that American companies should move their supply chains out of China.

Chinese regulators, embarrassed by reports of shoddy medical equipment sent to Europe, imposed a new rule on Friday mandating that customs officers inspect every shipment of masks, ventilators and other medical gear before they leave the country. That was the latest in a series of regulatory actions that had begun to hinder shipments. One American businessman said a new list of items to be inspected was so broad that it even included cotton balls. American officials said that after hearing complaints from U.S. companies, they have had to scramble to deal with the delays on a case-by-case basis.

As the United States debates when and how to let businesses reopen, Italy and Spain, the two European nations hardest hit by the pandemic, are taking small steps to begin easing the restrictions they imposed to stem their outbreaks.

After extending a lockdown from April 13 to May 3, the Italian government reopened some stores on Tuesday, including stationers, bookshops and children’s clothing stores, a sign of a gradual return to normalcy. But the loosening will not apply in regions where infection rates have yet to decline significantly — including Lombardy, Piedmont and Campania — and some other regions took their own approaches.

“Stores, bans and walks. Italy becomes a puzzle,” read a headline in Rome daily La Repubblica Tuesday, a nod to the scattered approach. Italy’s total number of confirmed cases was just shy of 160,000 and deaths surpassed the 20,000 mark on Monday.

And in Spain, more regions reopened factories and building sites on Tuesday, joining others that had already begun a gradual return to work. The easing of restrictions there has triggered a debate over safety. But many factories are so far only recalling just a fraction of their work forces. Spain registered a slight uptick in deaths on Tuesday — 567 overnight, with the total surpassing 18,000 since the start of the crisis.

Abortion clinics in Tennessee and Louisiana filed lawsuits in federal courts on Tuesday to stop abortion bans related to the coronavirus. The moves bring the total of states where legal fights are unfolding to seven; the five others are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio and Oklahoma.

The filings came a day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed itself on medication abortion in Texas — a surprise move that means this early-stage abortion involving two pills is now allowed.

The appeals court’s reversal allows, for now, many more women access to abortion, rights groups say, but does nothing to lift the ban on most surgical abortions.

“Medication abortion is only available through 10 weeks in Texas,” said Julie Rikelman, senior litigation director at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “That’s still very difficult for many people because abortions are only available at that point in pregnancy in a few places in Texas.”

A spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Joe Pojman, who heads the Texas Alliance for Life, said in an email: “We are disappointed by the court’s latest action. The latest order fails to recognize the danger that abortion providers pose to the public by refusing to comply with the Governor’s executive order in the same way that other providers of nonemergency surgeries and procedures have done.”

The fight over abortion rights, rather than receding into the background during the pandemic, has intensified as several states banned the procedure in recent weeks as part of emergency measures to fight the virus.

In seven states, state authorities have included abortion as a nonessential medical procedure, arguing that postponement is necessary to preserve medical and protective equipment. Abortion rights groups say the pandemic is being used as a pretense to restrict abortion, and have sued five of the states to stop them.

Out of the states trying to limit abortion, only Texas had been successful; the others have been blocked by judges, but that could change. Especially in Texas, several weeks of legal back-and-forth have caused confusion for patients and their doctors.

In New York City, still the center of the virus, police work has changed dramatically. In the past month, compared to the same time period last year, murders dropped 20 percent. The New York Police Department is down thousands of officers who have called in sick, and some of the healthy officers have been assigned to a new police task force assigned to enforce social distancing rules and other measures designed to stem the spread of the virus.

Some officers have called the virus a “silent bullet” that’s claimed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.

Trader Joe’s and other supermarkets have become hot spots for police activity, as people vie for food and supplies amid wide shortages.

Obama endorses Biden for president as Democrats turn to unifying the party.

Former President Barack Obama will endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, as the Democratic Party turns its focus to unifying for an election that is shaping up to be a referendum on Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

Mr. Obama’s endorsement of his former vice president, expected via video, comes just one day after Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had been Mr. Biden’s last challenger, also endorsed him.

While the Democratic race was competitive, Mr. Obama remained publicly neutral, even as multiple candidates tried to link themselves to him. But now, with the primary effectively over, attention is turning to the potentially difficult task of unifying the party for the general election — and Mr. Obama is uniquely positioned to help do that.

Behind the scenes, he has been involved for some time and played a key role in persuading Mr. Sanders to end his campaign and endorse Mr. Biden.

Jailed youths are seeking to be released as the virus spreads.

Across the country, the nation’s youngest offenders who are stuck in detention centers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus simply because of where they are. Close quarters, shared spaces and contact with staff members who rotate in daily make it impossible to follow guidelines to limit contact with other people and wash hands regularly in an effort to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

Lawyers in three states — Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas — are asking for a mass release of young offenders with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus as well as juveniles incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Maryland and Pennsylvania have already denied some requests, while public defenders in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, are expected to argue for the release of their juvenile clients in the coming days.

Some states, including New Jersey, New York and California, were quick to release adult nonviolent offenders and older people, but have yet to do this for incarcerated youth.

Stocks on Wall Street rose on Tuesday, following global markets higher, after China reported a smaller-than-expected hit to trade and some countries began to take tiny steps to reopen their economies.

The S & P 500 rose more than 2 percent by midday, with shares of companies that have been hardest hit by the virus-related shutdowns — airlines and cruise operators — leading the gains.

Stocks have been slowly climbing their way out of a slump that had wiped trillions of value from financial markets in late February and early March, as investors have begun to look for signs of the eventual recovery from the outbreak. In parts of Europe, a small-scale return to normalcy has begun: Spain allowed some construction work to resume and a few factories to reopen on Monday, and Austria and Italy followed with a gradual easing of restrictions that allowed some shops to reopen.

Stocks were also helped on Tuesday by March trade data from Chinese customs officials that was better than anticipated. But the optimism may not linger, as China’s reopening could be a long and painful process, worsened by slumping demand for its goods in countries dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

But investors will be tested by a slew of corporate earnings results due out starting this week. On Tuesday, shares of big banks fell after JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both announced that they were taking substantial provisions for coming loan losses. JPMorgan dropped about 3 percent, while Wells Fargo was down by more than 5 percent, and Citigroup was down nearly 6 percent.

Florida’s surgeon general says that until a vaccine exists, social distancing should stay in place.

For weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, has hewed closely to the message coming from Mr. Trump, one that most recently was about planning to get the economy moving and return to some semblance of normalcy.

So when Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, suggested on Monday that there would be no real return to normal until there was a vaccine — something experts think is at least a year away — he was most definitely not on message.

Dr. Rivkees had no sooner told reporters that Floridians would have to get used to wearing face masks and practicing social distancing measures than he was pulled away from the news conference by the governor’s spokeswoman. A video of the moment was shared widely on social media.

“As long as we’re 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,” Dr. Rivkees said. “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.”

In an email to the Miami Herald, a spokesman for Dr. Rivkees did not say whether the governor agreed with the surgeon general’s conclusion.

“Social distancing and improved hygiene have proven to be effective in impeding the spread of Covid-19,” the spokesman, Alberto Moscoso, wrote. “Until a vaccine is available, precautions will need to be taken to ensure public health.”

Feeling a sense of panic? Some tools can help you cope.

In the middle of a pandemic, it’s natural to have moments of fear and anxiety. Sometimes, just knowing what’s happening can help, whether it’s learning about how to manage emotions on a personal level or understanding how to put the virus into context on a broader scale.

South Dakota is seeing a significant outbreak, with hundreds of workers at the city’s Smithfield pork processing plant falling ill, leading the company to shut down its plant in Sioux Falls.

Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, has resisted issuing a stay-at-home order for the state, saying that it is not necessary. The mayor of Sioux Falls, Paul TenHaken, said he has asked the governor to issue an order for the Sioux Falls area and will ask residents himself to stay home if Ms. Noem fails to act.

Smithfield Foods said Sunday that it would close its Sioux Falls processing plant after 230 workers contracted the virus, becoming one of the latest companies to announce a shutdown. The plant produces more than 5 percent of the nation’s pork.

The nation’s food supply chain is showing signs of strain, as increasing numbers of workers are falling ill in meat processing plants, warehouses and grocery stores.

The spread of the virus through the food and grocery industry is expected to disrupt the production and distribution of products like pork, industry executives, labor unions and analysts have warned in recent days. The issues follow nearly a month of stockpiling of food and other essentials by panicked shoppers that have tested supply networks to the limits.

Industry leaders and observers acknowledge that the shortages could increase, but they insist it is more of an inconvenience than a major problem. People will have enough to eat; they just may not have the usual variety.

The food supply remains robust, they say, with hundreds of millions of pounds of meat in cold storage. There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through food or its packaging, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Still, the illnesses have the potential to cause shortages lasting weeks for a few products, creating further anxiety for Americans already shaken by how difficult it can be to find high-demand staples like flour and eggs.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Smithfield’s chief executive, Kenneth M. Sullivan, said in a statement.

Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Peter Baker, Alan Blinder, Julie Bosman, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Michael Cooper, Michael Corkery, Annie Correal, Jim Dwyer, Peter Eavis, Thomas Fuller, Erica L. Green, Maggie Haberman, Jan Hoffman, Miriam Jordan, Paul Mozur, Matt Phillips, Alan Rappeport, Marc Santora, Eileen Sullivan, Kate Taylor, Edward Wong and Davie Yaffe-Bellany.



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