The Washigtnon Post - 03.04.2020

(Joyce) #1

friday, april 3 , 2020. the washington post ez sU A


HeALtH


FDA eases restrictions


for blood donations


The U.S. government Thursday
eased restrictions on blood
donations from gay men and
other key g roups because of a
drop in the nation’s b lood supply
triggered by the coronavirus
outbreak.
The Food and Drug
Administration’s n ew p olicy aims
to allow t ens of thousands m ore
Americans to give blood,
including gay and bisexual men
and people with recent t attoos
and piercings.
Canceled blood drives have
decimated donations to the
American Red Cross and other
nonprofits that provide m ost of
the blood supply. L ast month, the
Red Cross estimated t here had
been 86,000 fewer blood
donations in recent weeks
because blood drives were
canceled at w orkplaces, colleges
and other l ocations.
The FDA’s previous r ules
barred donations from men who
have had sex with a man in the
previous year. The same policy
applied to women who’ve had sex
with gay or bisexual men a nd
people who’ve received tattoos or
piercings in the past year.
Under the new policy, t he
disqualifying time period w as
reduced to three months. FDA
officials said the m ove t o three
months matches recent changes
in Britain and o ther developed
countries.
The FDA on Thursday m ade


similar changes to restrictions for
people who have recently
traveled to countries where
malaria exposure is a risk.
Donated blood is screened for
a number o f infectious diseases,
including HIV. The novel
coronavirus can’t b e spread
through blood.
— Associated Press

ARiZONA

Court upholds taxi fees
at Phoenix airport

Arizona’s high court o n
Thursday upheld a $4 pickup and
drop-off fee that led Uber and
Lyft t o threaten to stop serving
the Phoenix airport, one of the
busiest i n the n ation.
The Arizona Supreme Court
unanimously rejected a challenge
by the state’s attorney general
who said the f ees were
unconstitutional.
The city currently charges
$2.66 f or each pickup but doesn’t
charge for rider drop-offs. The $
fee was put on hold w hile the
court evaluated it. Airport
officials are evaluating how long
it will take to implement, said
Annie DeGraw, a spokeswoman
for Mayor Kate Gallego (D).
Attorney General Mark
Brnovich (R) said the f ee
increases violate a 2018
constitutional a mendment that
banned n ew f ees on services.
Lawyers f or the c ity argued the
higher fees a re not taxes on
services, but rather permissible
charges for businesses t o use the
city-owned Sky Harbor

International Airport, one o f the
largest U.S. airports s erving about
44 million passengers a year.
Phoenix runs the airport
independently, primarily using
revenue from p assenger tickets
and the companies that operate
there. City officials likened the
ride-hailing fees to rent and
landing fees charged to
restaurants and airlines.
A city aviation commission
had recommended the f ee
increase after a study showed

airports in many other cities
charge ride-hailing companies
more to drop off and pick up
passengers.
The fight over the fee increases
is not over. Several lawmakers
have introduced legislation that
would block t hem. The legislative
session is on hold due to the
coronavirus outbreak, but the bill
could b e revived when lawmakers
return. A group of airlines,
airport c onstruction companies
and others who operate at S ky

Harbor have started a n
advertising and lobbying
campaign to stop it.
— Associated Press

geORgiA

Man pleads guilty to
plot to hit White House

A Georgia man a ccused of
plotting to attack the White
House with an antitank r ocket
and explosives has pleaded guilty

to a federal charge.
Hasher Jallal Ta heb, 23,
pleaded guilty Wednesday to a
charge of attempting to destroy,
by fire or an explosive, a building
owned by or leased to t he United
States, f ederal prosecutors said.
Local law enforcement
reached out to the F BI in March
2018 after getting a tip from a
community member saying
Ta heb had adopted radical i deas.
In c onversations w ith
undercover federal investigators
in October 2018, Ta heb
mentioned plans t o travel
overseas and wanting to a ttack
the White House a nd the S tatue of
Liberty, prosecutors said. D uring
meetings in D ecember 2018, he
broadened his p otential targets to
also include the Washington
Monument, the Lincoln Memorial
and a synagogue.
He t hen produced sketches he
had made of the White House,
described a detailed plan to
attack it and described weapons
and explosives he wanted to use,
including semiautomatic
weapons, improvised explosive
devices, an antitank weapon, and
hand grenades.
Federal agents arrested Ta heb
on Jan. 16, 2019, when he showed
up for a meeting w ith an
undercover agent and a n FBI
source thinking they were going
to rent a car and trade their
vehicles f or weapons, with the
intention of driving t o
Washington, D.C., to carry out t he
attack, prosecutors have said.
Ta heb is scheduled to be
sentenced June 23.
— Associated Press

Digest

Kareem elgazzar/associated Press
A woman walks a dog along the Ohio River on Thursday at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati.

Politics & the Nation


BY MATT ZAPOTOSKY,
ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER
AND JOHN WAGNER

The death toll and economic
devastation from the novel coro-
navirus reached staggering new
levels in the United States on
Thursday, as officials reported
more than 1,000 deaths from the
pandemic in a single day and re-
vealed more than 6.6 million
Americans had sought unemploy-
ment benefits in a single w eek.
The White House is expected to
urge at least some people across
the c ountry to begin wearing c loth
masks or face coverings in public
to dampen the spread of the virus.
The potential reversal of earlier
mask recommendations — which
White House officials indicated
Thursday were still being debated
— signaled the seriousness of the
outbreak and rising concerns in
Washington about the effect it
could have on millions of Ameri-
cans.
Local officials in one Te xas bor-
der town already have threatened
to fine those who don’t cover their
nose and mouth if they go out in
public. Vice President Pence said
guidance on the topic would be
issued in coming days; a White
House official later said that the
guidance would be targeted to
those in areas where community
transmission is high.
But c oronavirus task force coor-
dinator Deborah Birx o n Thursday
said officials worry that encourag-
ing mask use might interfere with
the White House’s prior social dis-
tancing guidance, which calls for
people to stay home, avoid gather-
ings of more than 10 people and
keep a safe distance from those
other t han family members.
“The most important thing is
the social distancing and washing
your hands, and we don’t want
people to get an artificial sense of
protection because they’re behind
a mask,” Birx s aid. “When the a dvi-
sory comes out, it will be an addi-
tive piece, if it comes out, rather
than saying this is a substitute f or”
social distancing.
The United States cemented its
position as the new front line of
the o utbreak Thursday as it t allied
a total of more than 240,000 i nfec-
tions and 5,800 virus-related
deaths. The number of people in-
fected w orldwide passed 1 million,
and the number who have died of
the d isease rose above 52,000.
Officials have warned that hun-
dreds of thousands of Americans
could die o f covid-19, a nd t hat does
not account for the lives upended
in other ways because of the mea-
sures local, state and federal offi-
cials have taken t o stop the v irus.
On Thursday, the federal gov-
ernment released figures showing
that more than 6.6 million Ameri-
cans applied for unemployment
benefits last week — a record —
and that more than 10.4 million
Americans lost their jobs in
March. Economists said the un-
employment rate likely now
stands close to 10 percent — a
massive spike from February,
when it s tood at a half-century low
of 3.5 percent. Much of the nation


is operating under government-
imposed stay-at-home orders.
President Trump said at the
White House’s coronavirus brief-
ing T hursday that t he government
was racing to provide relief on a
number of fronts, including the
launch Friday of a loan program
for small businesses. Pence also
announced that the coronavirus
task force is considering a plan to
reimburse hospitals for coronavi-
rus treatment, in part so those
without health insurance would
not face hefty bills for seeking
help.
Trump said he remains optimis-
tic that the nation will recover
once the virus subsides. “I think
it’s going to come back very quick-
ly, but first we have to defeat this
enemy,” h e said.
Trump also r evealed he h ad tak-
en a second test for the virus “out
of curiosity” t o try a version that
delivered a faster result; he said h e
was n ot i nfected.
House S peaker Nancy Pelosi (D-
Calif.) said Thursday she was cre-
ating a select committee to oversee
the Trump administration’s han-
dling o f the trillions o f dollars Con-
gress is pouring into the effort to
rescue the health-care system and
the U.S. economy.
Pelosi said the new committee
needs to serve as an everyday
watchdog o f the m ore than $2 tril-
lion already allocated to fight the
virus and the virtual lockdown it
has placed on the economy, and it
will have the full investigative au-
thorities of any congressional
oversight committee, including
subpoena p ower.
Republicans voiced immediate
skepticism about the panel, which
Pelosi dubbed the House Select
Committee on the Coronavirus.

Trump made it clear he was un-
happy, saying Democrats were
conducting “endless partisan in-
vestigations.”
“It’s not any time for witch
hunts,” T rump said. “ It’s t ime to g et
this enemy d efeated.”
The hard-hit areas inside of the
United States continued to see vi-
rus-related casualties rise precipi-
tously Thursday. New York added
more than 430 to its death toll,
bringing the total there to more
than 2,300. Neighboring New Jer-
sey added more than 180, bringing
its total to 530. Michigan, which is
drawing increasing concern, add-
ed 80 deaths on Thursday, bring-
ing i ts total to m ore t han 410.
“Michigan is a hot spot for
covid-19 cases,” Gov. Gretchen
Whitmer (D) said. “We’re on the
upswing.”
Trump on Thursday sought to
suggest t he problems were isolated
in some states, after Birx said she
was disheartened that cases being
reported now involved people in-
fected after the White House issued
its social distancing guidelines.
“You can’t condemn people liv-
ing in a flat-liner,” Trump said,
referring to states that have not
seen immense i ncreases.
Governors across the country
reiterated their desperate calls for
medical supplies, asserting that i f
current projections hold, they
could run out of needed equip-
ment. New York Gov. Andrew M.
Cuomo (D) said that if his state
continues to use ventilators at the
current rate, its stockpiles would
be depleted in j ust six d ays.
Peter T. Gaynor, the Federal
Emergency Management Agen-
cy’s administrator, told members
of Connecticut’s congressional
delegation in a telephone call

Wednesday night that the Strate-
gic National Stockpile had been
emptied of the vital supplies like
masks and gloves needed by doc-
tors and nurses to protect them-
selves as they treat patients sick-
ened with the coronavirus.
He said virtually no such per-
sonal protective equipment, or
PPE, is produced in the United
States but emphasized that the
administration is working to fly i n
shipments of the equipment from
around the world.
“Competition is off the charts,”
Gaynor said, according to partici-
pants on the call.
Gaynor told the delegation that
20 percent o f the new material the
government obtains will be taken
off the top to help replenish the
nation’s stockpile. Of the remain-
ing 80 percent, half of it will be
directed by the agency to high-im-
pact areas, while the other h alf w ill
be let loose in the commercial
market. That alarmed some law-
makers, who said the federal gov-
ernment needs to step in to pre-
vent states from competing
against one another and other po-
tential buyers, d riving up p rices.
In California, though, there
seemed to be cautious optimism
that the s ystem w ould not be over-
loaded. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D),
who i ssued the f irst statewide s tay-
at-home order in the United
States, said his state was on track
to meet its patient needs.
“It’s the individual acts of tens
of millions of Californians that
allow me to say the following...
the [intensive-care unit] numbers
and the hospitalization numbers,
while they’re growing, are not
growing as significantly as you’re
seeing in other parts of the coun-
try,” Newsom said Thursday,

though he made it clear t he state is
not “out of the woods.”
Rear Adm. John Polowczyk,
who is leading FEMA’s supply
chain task force, said the federal
government had shipped 27.1 mil-
lion surgical masks, 22.4 million
pairs of protective gloves, 5.2 mil-
lion face shields and more than
7,600 ventilators and was scouring
the globe for more supplies. But
Trump also lashed out at state
leaders, saying some were “com-
plainers” or had “insatiable appe-
tites” and that they should have
built more reserves locally.
“Long before this pandemic ar-
rived, they should have been on
the open market, just buying,”
Trump said.
Federal officials announced
Thursday they had seized nearly
1 million pieces of PPE, hand sani-
tizer and disinfectant spray from
price gougers and planned to re-
distribute them to health-care
workers in New York and New
Jersey, t he two hardest-hit states.
Though the Dow Jones indus-
trial a verage r ose 469 points, or 2.
percent, a nd t he Standard & Poor’s
500 and Nasdaq composite also
posted healthy g ains, t hose figures
were not enough to dampen the
bleak economic reality for many
people: Almost 4 in 10 Americans
have been laid off or lost income
due to the coronavirus outbreak,
according t o a Kaiser Family Foun-
dation p oll r eleased Thursday.
The Internal Revenue Service
plans to send electronic payments
as soon as late next week to more
than 115 m illion A mericans a s part
of the stimulus package, a week
sooner than expected, according
to a plan circulated within the
administration. B ut $ 30 million in
paper checks for millions of other

Americans won’t start being sent
out until April 24, as the govern-
ment lacks t heir b anking informa-
tion. Some of those checks won’t
reach people until September, the
document shows.
Democrats announced Thurs-
day they would delay their presi-
dential nominating convention
until the week of Aug. 17 to in-
crease t he likelihood t hat the party
can still hold an in-person gather-
ing i n Milwaukee.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R),
meanwhile, said he had only just
learned that people can spread the
coronavirus without showing
symptoms, despite warnings of
that possibility from media and
federal officials dating to late Jan-
uary. The governor’s remark came
as he e xplained why he was i ssuing
a stay-at-home order, after previ-
ously resisting the step taken by at
least 3 0 states.
“What we’ve been telling people
from directives from the CDC for
weeks now is that if you start feel-
ing bad, stay home,” Kemp said.
“Those individuals could have
been infecting people before they
ever felt bad. We didn’t know that
until t he last 24 hours.”
In an email, Kemp spokesman
Cody Hall said the governor was
referring to the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention’s Monday
guidance noting that studies
found infections in patients who
never developed symptoms.
Federal and state officials have
warned that the U. S. is still ap-
proaching the “peak” of the crisis,
which could come in the next two
to four weeks, and that until then
Americans should expect each d ay
to bring more death and suffering
than the last. They have urged
people to practice social distanc-
ing t hrough the end o f April.
In s ome of the h ardest-hit coun-
tries abroad, though, there were
some positive signs.
The Italian and Spanish a mbas-
sadors to the United States said
Thursday they had seen signs of
improvement in their countries,
where numbers of confirmed in-
fections, hospitalizations and
deaths remain high but are begin-
ning to stabilize.
“These are just the first positive
signs, and they have to be taken
cautiously,” Italian Ambassador
Armando Varricchio said. “But
they show that measures taken
both nationally and at the local
level have started to p ay o ff.”
Italy, which has the most fatali-
ties of any country in the world,
saw its death toll rise to nearly
14,000 Thursday, while Spain’s vi-
rus-related deaths passed 10,000.
matt.zapotosky@washpost.com
isaac.stanley-
becker@washpost.com
john.wagner@washpost.com

miriam Berger, Josh dawsey, Karen
deYoung, andrew Fr eedman, emily
guskin, arelis r. hernández, Paul
Kane, hannah Knowles, dan
lamothe, annie linskey, heather
long, Katie mettler, siobhán o’grady,
samantha Pell, lisa rein, missy ryan,
michael scherer, Brittany shammas,
Felicia sonmez, lena h. sun and erica
Werner contributed to this report.

Single-day death toll in U.S. tops 1,000 as Trump insists country will recover


matt mcclain/the Washington Post
The Federal Triangle Metro station in the District is closed. Many states have issued stay-at-home orders to encourage social distancing.
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