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Wake Up To Politics - May 5, 2020

I’m Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, May 5, 2020. 182 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Latest podcast: "This is going to be a major, major event for Gen Z," TIME national correspondent Charlotte Alter says of the coronavirus outbreak in the latest episode of the Wake Up To Politics Podcast. "But I don't think we know exactly how it's going to change them. Only that it will."

Models predict surge in U.S. deaths as states reopen

As states across the country begin to relax social distancing restrictions and reopen their economies, two key models consulted by the federal government are now projecting a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States.

According to the New York Times, a model created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) projects that the rate of deaths per day from coronavirus in the U.S. will reach about 3,000 by June 1 — more than double the current rate of about 1,400.

The FEMA model also forecasts that the U.S. will be recording about 200,000 new cases of the virus each day by June 1 — a staggering rise from the current rate of about 25,000.

A White House spokesman said on Twitter that the data reported by the Times was "not reflective of any of the modeling done by the Coronavirus Task Force or data that the task force has analyzed," while the creator of the model told the Washington Post that the numbers were unfinished projections considered a "work in progress."

Still, a public model frequently cited by the White House has also dramatically increased its own estimates: the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model now projects nearly 135,000 deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. through the beginning of August, up from its previous prediction of 72,000. (Nearly 69,000 Americans have died from the virus as of this morning.)

Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of IHME, told reporters Monday that the "premature relaxation of social distancing" in many states was the primary reason for the model almost doubling its previous estimated death toll.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly cheered on states as they have begun to reopen. "I think [Americans are] starting to feel good now," he told the New York Post in an interview Monday. "The country's opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think." As the Washington Post points out, many of the states Trump has encouraged in easing social distancing restrictions have yet to meet his own government's guidelines for reopening: a 14-day decline in cases.

"There's not too many states that I know of that are going up. Almost everybody is headed in the right direction," Trump incorrectly said in a Fox News town hall on Sunday, presenting an optimistic view of the public health crisis at hand. "We’re on the right side of it, but we want to keep it that way, but we also want to get back to work."

In fact, experts say there are few states with declining infection rates and most have seen their rates increase or stay stagnant, mirroring the nationwide trend. According to the New York Times, "almost every day, at least 25,000 new coronavirus cases are identified, meaning that the total in the United States — which has the highest number of known cases in the world with more than a million — is expanding by between 2 and 4 percent daily."

"We may not be able to get transmission down much more," former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned on NBC's "Today" this morning, adding: "I think we need to understand this may be the new normal."

Even as governors of both parties push ahead with reopening their economies — many ignoring the pacts they had set up with neighboring states — Americans oppose reopening most businesses, polls show.

At least half of U.S. adults opposed reopening each type of business asked about in a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll released this morning: from barbershops and hair salons (69% opposed) to retail shops (66% opposed) to movie theaters (82% opposed) to restaurants and nail salons (74% opposed to both).

The Rundown


Wall Street Journal: "The U.S. government expects to borrow a record $4.5 trillion this fiscal year as it steps up spending to battle what is likely to be the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression."

Politico: "The Food and Drug Administration is walking back a widely criticized policy that allowed more than 100 coronavirus antibody tests on the market without agency review."

Washington Post: "World leaders came together in a virtual summit Monday to pledge billions of dollars to quickly develop vaccines and drugs to fight the coronavirus. Missing from the roster was the Trump administration, which declined to participate but highlighted from Washington what one official called its 'whole-of-America' efforts in the United States and its generosity to global health efforts."

CNN: "Intelligence shared among Five Eyes nations indicates it is 'highly unlikely' that the coronavirus outbreak was spread as a result of an accident in a laboratory but rather originated in a Chinese market, according to two Western officials who cited an intelligence assessment that appears to contradict claims by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo."

Axios: "The White House informed Congress on Monday that members of the administration's coronavirus task force, which includes health experts like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, won't be allowed to testify in the month of May [unless an exception granted by chief of staff Mark Meadows.]"

Race for the White House

Politico: "The secretary of the Senate said Monday that the chamber has 'no discretion to disclose' information sought by former Vice President Joe Biden regarding an allegation of sexual assault against him, further complicating the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's search for exoneration."


NBC News: "As the Senate returns Monday after having been forced from the Capitol by the coronavirus outbreak, the next round of emergency relief legislation could be weeks away as Democrats, Republicans and the White House are pushing conflicting priorities for the next bill."

"Republicans want liability protections for businesses. Democrats want more state and local government aid. And President Donald Trump wants to 'pause' more legislation for now but won't consider anything that doesn't include a payroll tax cut."


*All times Eastern

President Donald Trump will travel to Pheonix, Arizona, to tour a Honeywell aerospace facility that is making respirator masks for health care workers. He will arrive at Honeywell at 1:55 p.m., participate in a roundtable on supporting Native Americans at 2 p.m., participate in a tour of the Honewywell mask production assembly line at 3:15 p.m., and deliver remarks at 4:05 p.m. He will then return to Washington, D.C.

  • The trip to Phoenix marks President Trump's most extensive venture outside of Wahington, D.C., since March 10. (He visited Camp David in Maryland this weekend and the USNS Comfort sendoff in Norfolk, Virginia, on March 28.)

Vice President Mike Pence will lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 11:30 a.m.

The Senate will convene at 11 a.m. Following leader remarks, the chamber will resume consideration of the nomination of William Evanina to be Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. (Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley released his hold on Evanina's nomination Monday after nearly two years of blocking it due to an unrelated documents dispute with the Justice Department.)

  • Two Senate committees will also hold confirmation hearings on key Trump nominees today: the Intelligence Committee will grill Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe, nominated to be Director of National Intelligence, at 9:30 a.m. The Banking Committee will question White House lawyer Brian Miller, nominated to oversee coronavirus relief funds, at 2:30 p.m.

The House will meet for a pro forma session at 10:30 a.m. As part of the chamber's brief meeting, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will swear in Rep.-elect Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), who won the special election last week to fill the late Elijah Cumming's seat. Mfume previously held the seat from 1987 to 1996, resigning to become president and CEO of the NAACP.

The Supreme Court will hear its second case by teleconference: USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International.

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

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