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Wake Up To Politics - April 3, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Friday, April 3, 2020. 214 days until Election Day 2020. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Podcast alert: The latest episode of the Wake Up To Politics Podcast is out now. This episode focuses on the impact coronavirus will have on the 2020 election, and features voice memos from listeners across the country — as well as an interview with Amber McReynolds, a leading expert on vote-by-mail practices. It's obviously a very timely topic, so I hope you give it a listen.

You can find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.

March unemployment report: The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 4.4 percent in March as the economy lost 701,000 jobs, the Labor Department announced this morning. The report marked the first time since 2010 that the U.S. economy lost more jobs than it gained over the course of a month. However, these figures do not represent the full damage coronavirus has done to the economy: the report only includes data through March 12, before most coronavirus-related layoffs took place. The New York Times estimated that the true jobless rate is about 13 percent; the rest of the data from March will come in the April jobs report on May 8.

White House expected to encourage Americans to wear face coverings in public: The White House is expected to urge Americans to wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, multiple news organizations have reported. Vice President Mike Pence confirmed on Thursday that new guidance on the matter will be released in the "coming days."

Such guidance — which is likely to encourage Americans to wear homemade coverings, such as cloth masks, scarves, or bandanas — would be a reversal for public health officials, who spent much of March insisting that people did not to wear masks, fearing a shortage of medical masks that health workers need. The mayors of the nation's two most populous cities — New York's Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles' Eric Garcetti — have urged their constituents to wear face coverings in public in recent days.

Democrats postpone convention until August: In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic National Convention has been pushed back to the week of August 17, organizers announced on Thursday.

The convention, which will take place on Milwaukee, had originally been scheduled for the week of July 13. The event will now be held just one week before the Republican convention in Charlotte.

Trump compels production of ventilators: "President Donald Trump on Thursday invoked the Defense Production Act to push 3M and six major medical device companies to produce protective masks and ventilators needed for the coronavirus outbreak, bowing to weeks of pressure to expand the federal government’s use of the emergency statute."

"'Moments ago, I directed Secretary Azar and acting Secretary Wolf to use any and all available authority under the Defense Protection Act to ensure that domestic manufacturers have the supplies they need to produce ventilators for patients with severe cases of Covid-19,' Trump said at his Thursday press conference."

"Trump’s order expands the DPA’s reach, but did not give any information on implementing the act. In GM’s case, the White House has taken a largely hands-off approach [since Trump invoked the DPA for the company last week], with trade adviser Peter Navarro, Trump’s appointed DPA leader, relying on voluntary updates from GM to track the company’s progress much of this week before speaking with GM CEO Mary Barra on Thursday." (Politico)

--- At his Thursday briefing, Trump blamed the ventilator shortage in the U.S. on states, claiming that they "should have been building their stockpiles." In his debut at a White House press briefing, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner echoed that sentiment, saying: "The notion of the federal stockpile was that it's supposed to be our stockpile," Kushner said. "It's not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use." (According to its website, the Strategic National Stockpile is available for state and local governments for "use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.")

Latest reports on the government's coronavirus response: "Experts and Trump’s advisers doubt White House’s 240,000 coronavirus deaths estimate" (Washington Post)... "States Getting Just 5,500 of the Abbott Coronavirus Tests Hyped by Trump" (Daily Beast)... "FEMA tells lawmakers most new ventilators won't be ready until June" (Politico)... "Inside America’s mask crunch: A slow government reaction and an industry wary of liability" (Washington Post)

"Banks warn of 'utter chaos' in new small business lending program" (NBC News)... "IRS to begin issuing $1,200 coronavirus payments April 9, but some Americans won’t receive checks until September, agency plan says" (Washington Post)

--- "In the three weeks since declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, President Trump has delivered a dizzying array of rhetorical contortions, sowed confusion and repeatedly sought to cast blame on others," the Washington Post reported Thursday.

--- In addition to face masks, one issue that the federal government has wavered on is the need for stay-at-home orders. President Trump said earlier this week that he did not feel a nationwide order was necessary, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading expert on infectious diseases, seemed to disagree in a CNN interview on Thursday. "I just don't understand why we're not doing that," Fauci said. According to the New York Times, 38 states have issued stay-at-home orders; about four billion individuals across the world, about half of the global population, are now under such orders.

--- "Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday the creation of a new House committee addressing the coronavirus crisis, led by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). Pelosi said that the new committee would oversee 'all aspects' of the federal response to the pandemic, including the $2 trillion stimulus bill. She specifically cited the Truman Committee, formed in 1941 to address inefficiencies and profiteering during World War II, as a guide." (Axios)

Latest reports on the virus itself: "Experts tell White House coronavirus can spread through talking or even just breathing" (CNN)... "Questions About Accuracy of Coronavirus Tests Sow Worry" (Wall Street Journal)... "Muscle aches, extreme fatigue: Coronavirus symptoms go beyond fever and cough" (NBC News)... "Next Virus ‘Hot Spots’ Seen as Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana" (Bloomberg News)

Latest stats: As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, there are 1,033,478 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 54,369 reported deaths from the pandemic worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, the case count is 245,601 and the death toll is 6,058.

President Donald Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 11:30 a.m. and participate in a roundtable with energy sector CEOs at 3 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will lead a meeting of the White Hosue Coronavirus Task Force at 2 p.m. and join the president for his 3 p.m. roundtable with energy sector CEOs.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will hold a press briefing at 5 p.m.

The House and Senate are on recess.

The Supreme Court will meet for their weekly conference.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will participate in a virtual fundraiser.

*All times Eastern

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