Monday, March 16
Š President Donald Trump laid out national guidelines for dealing with the novel coronavirus which is causing COVID-19, including avoidance of unnecessary travel and groups of more than 10 people. The guidelines, described as a “trial set,” are not mandatory and fall short of recommendations by U.S. health officials and international standards.
Š The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended no gatherings of 50 or more people be held in the United States for the next two months.
Š German officials said the Trump administration attempted to persuade a German biopharmaceutical company to move its research work developing a possible vaccine for the coronavirus to the U.S. to assure first and possibly exclusive access to it.
Š Trump told state governors to find ways to obtain the respirators needed to treat people with coronavirus themselves and not wait for the federal government to fulfill the growing demand.
Š The Justice Department moved to drop charges against two Russian shell companies accused of interfering in the 2016 election in an indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Tuesday, March 17
Š The New York Times reported coronavirus testing efforts in the U.S., in which between about 25,000 and 41,000 tests have been performed, are falling short in comparison to Italy and South Korea, in which about 134,000 and 274,000 tests have been performed respectively.
Š Democratic presidential primary results in Arizona, Florida and Illinois saw former vice president Joe Biden gaining 286 delegates for a total of 1,205 and Sen. Bernie Sanders following behind with 140 delegates for a total of 905. Ohio was slated to vote on the same day but postponed the primary out of concerns for the pandemic.
Wednesday, March 18
Š Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would stop making non-“mission critical” arrests until the pandemic ends, but will keep already arrested undocumented immigrants locked up.
Š The White House directed federal agencies to suspend foreclosures and evictions of homeowners (but not renters) until the end of April, agreed to stop all nonessential traffic across the border with Canada and asked Congress for $500 billion in direct payments to taxpayers and $500 billion in loans for businesses.
Š Trump defended his use of the phrase the “Chinese Virus” in reference to COVID-19 against heavy criticism that it reflects anti-Chinese racism.
Thursday, March 19
Š Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race.
Š The Labor Department reported 281,000 new unemployment claims last week, a 30% increase from the week prior and one of the largest spikes on record.
Š The New York Times fact-checked a claim by Trump that “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion.” From internal federal documents, it found the government had known the risk of a pandemic spreading from China to the U.S. and accurately predicted the problems that are now arising.
Š Senate Republicans developed an estimated $1.8 trillion stimulus package providing hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to businesses, large corporate tax cuts and $1,200 or less in checks to taxpayers.
Friday, March 20
Š In response to a question from White House correspondent Peter Alexander asking what the president would say to Americans frightened by the pandemic, Trump said, “You’re a terrible reporter.”
Š Trump repeatedly promoted two malaria drugs as an effective coronavirus treatment despite such claims being unproven, the drugs still being tested in clinical trials. Leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said claims of their effectiveness were all anecdotal.
Š The White House pushed back tax day to July 15.
Š North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr faced an ethics investigation for insider trading and pandemic profiteering after it was revealed that he sold most of his stock holdings prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Four other senators, Dianne Feinstein, James Inhofe, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, as well as two dozen House representatives, are facing similar scrutiny for their stock market dealings prior to the outbreak.
Š The White House said it would begin to return undocumented immigrants to their home countries rather than detain them at the border, citing the threat of the coronavirus as reason.
Saturday, March 21
Š The White House selected career intelligence officer Lora Shiao as acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Sunday, March 22
Š Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul tested positive for coronavirus. Paul was asymptomatic and continued to use Senate facilities for six days while awaiting his test results.
Š In a party-line vote, Senate Democrats blocked the nearly $2 trillion government rescue package, denouncing it as a “corporate giveaway” that favored big business, saying the vote was premature, the plan failed to sufficiently protect workers, gave insufficient unemployment aid and left Congress with little say in how the $425 billion in loans would be distributed.