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Wake Up To Politics - March 30, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Monday, March 30, 2020. 218 days until Election Day 2020. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Trump extends social distancing guidelines through April

President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that nationwide social distancing guidelines would be extended through April 30, after previously pushing to reopen the country in time for Easter, two weeks earlier.

The "stop the spread" guidelines — which urge Americans to work or attend school from home, avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, and refrain from eating at restaurants or engaging in nonessential travel — were originally set to last for 15 days, and would have expired today.

"The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end," President Trump told Americans in a Rose Garden news conference.

Trump's announcement that the guidelines would remain in place was an acknowledgment that, despite his rosier predictions in recent weeks, the coronavirus would continue to rock American life for at least another month. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, about 143,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, while more than 2,500 have died from the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that models suggest the U.S. could see "millions of cases" of the coronavirus and suffer between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths.

Trump pinpointed the beginning of June as his new goal for the nation's grand reopening."We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery," he said Sunday. "We think by June 1, a lot of great things will be happening."

Extending the social distancing guidelines was Trump's latest in a series of reversals throughout his coronavirus response. In another example, on Saturday, the president told reporters that he was considering imposing an "enforceable quarantine" in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, three states that have particularly suffered from the virus. But by Saturday night, he tweeted that a "quarantine will not be necessary"; instead, the Centers for Disease Control announced an advisory asking residents of the three states "to refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days."

In his Sunday news conference, Trump also backed away from two other statements he made earlier in the week, denying that he had said he would not call governors who were not "appreciate" of him and that he had expressed doubt about the amount of equipment being requested by the state leaders.

According to the Washington Post, throughout the coronavirus response, state and local officials have been "frustrated by what they described as a lack of leadership in the White House and an absence of consistent guidance from federal agencies" and instead taken "steps on their own to prepare for the pandemic and protect their communities."

Most recently, some state governments have moved to tighten their borders, beginning to restrict travel from out-of-state visitors. Govs. Geg Abbott (R-TX) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have announced requirements for travelers from certain coronavirus "hot zones" to self-quarantine upon entering their states; likewise, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-RI) has issued an executive order calling for those entering Rhode Island from any other state to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"As the president fiddles, people are dying," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, criticizing the Trump administration's response efforts.

But President Trump pushed back on that assessment in his news conference, pointing out that the latest estimates of the U.S. death toll from coronavirus were much lower than the original ones. "If we can hold [tje number of deaths] down, as we're saying, to 100,000 -- that's a horrible number -- maybe even less, but to 100,000. . . we all together have done a very good job," the president said.

"I'm feeling very good about what we did last week," he added.

More coronavirus news...

New York prepares for a harrowing week ahead: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday painted a grim picture of the coming week as the state’s death toll from Covid-19 approached 1,000, but at the same time they dismissed calls to impose tighter restrictions on people’s movements in a region that has become the nation’s largest concentration of coronavirus infections."

"'The virus continues its march across the state of New York,' Cuomo said at a news conference on Sunday. 'I don’t see how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away.'" (Politico)

Congress prepares "phase four" legislation: "Legislators from both parties, administration officials, economists, think tanks and lobbyists are already roughing out the contours of yet another emergency-spending package—perhaps larger than the last—to try to keep the coronavirus crisis from turning into a 21st-century Great Depression. Many expect the debate to begin in earnest by late April."

"The ideas being floated include extending last week’s package to make the benefits last longer, as well as plugging in likely holes in the hastily assembled bill. One item in particular cited by both President Trump and Democratic leaders is a desire for more money to shore up state government budgets collapsing under lost tax revenues and new spending demands." (Wall Street Journal)

Positive signs from Seattle: "The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now."

"Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington State suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days." (New York Times)


President Donald Trump will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 1 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will also lead a video teleconference with governors on coronavirus response at 11:30 a.m., lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 2:30 p,m., and lead a roundtable discussion with CEOs on public-private partnership efforts to respond to coronavirus at 3:30 p.m.

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 release orders from its Friday conference at 9:30 a.m and possibly opinions at 10 a.m.

*All times Eastern

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