Monday News Executive Summary

Jordan Candler  Above the Fold

Stopgap checks inbound: Trump signs $2 trillion relief package (The Hill)

“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end”: President Trump extends coronavirus guidelines to April 30 (Washington Examiner)

The Latest on Coronavirus

Trump implements Defense Production Act, says “GM was wasting time” (National Review)

Estimates show Wuhan death rate far higher than China’s official reports — perhaps in the tens of thousand (The Federalist)

New coronavirus test can deliver results within five minutes (Washington Examiner)

FDA issues emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (The Daily Wire)

Meanwhile, Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer bans hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (RedState)

Government & Politics

Feds rightly add gun companies to “essential” business list (The Washington Free Beacon)scumbag/liar-Hillary “Basket of Deplorables” Clinton under fire for joke about U.S. leading in virus cases: Trump “did promise America First” (Fox News)

Predictably, the Kennedy Center tells musicians it will stop paying them hours after $25 million bailout is signed (The Washington Free Beacon)

Law-enforcement officials are investigating lawmakers’ stock transactions prior to market crash (The Daily Wire)

Rest in Peace

A fine example of leadership: Former Sen. Tom Coburn, Tea Party champion and fiscal hawk, dies after years-long cancer battle (Fox News)

Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98 (AP)

Closing Arguments

Policy: A constitutional guide to emergency powers (The Heritage Foundation)

Policy: The benefits of a free society during pandemics (Mises Institute)Humor: Feminists cry sexism as CV19 disproportionately infects men (Genesius Times)  ~The Patriot Post 

FDA Issues Emergency Authorization for the Use of Hydroxychloroquine to Combat Coronavirus Effective Immediately

by DAN DIAMOND{ } ~ The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence… The agency allowed for the drugs to be “donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” HHS said in a statement, announcing that Sandoz donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the stockpile and Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine. The move was supported by the White House, part of a larger Trump-backed effort to speed the use of anti-malaria drugs as a potential therapy for a virus that has no proven treatment or cure. FDA already has allowed New York state to test administering the medication to seriously ill patients, and some hospitals have added it to their treatment protocols. “Let’s see how it works,” Trump said at a press briefing on Sunday, referencing New York state’s efforts. “It may. It may not.” “Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar tweeted on Sunday night, praising Trump and the EUA.Career scientists have been skeptical of the effort, noting the lack of data on the drugs’ efficacy for coronavirus care and worried that it would siphon medication away from patients who need it for other conditions, calling instead for the agency to pursue its usual clinical trials. FDA’s move is expected to facilitate more access to the drugs by allowing more donations, and a second EUA is under consideration that would allow more manufacturers to produce it, said three officials… 

Trump phones Netanyahu to congratulate him that he’ll form, head next government

BY JACOB MAGID{ } ~ US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to congratulate him that he’ll be forming Israel’s next government… the Prime Minister’s Office said. The call came a day after Netanyahu closed in on a unity government with rival Benny Gantz. “The president of the United States telephoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congratulated him that he will form and head the next government,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “During the conversation, which was warm and friendly, the leaders discussed the various steps needed to deal with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” the statement said. The White House said in a statement that Trump and Netanyahu “discussed the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, and the president thanked the prime minister for his strong action to stop its spread.” “The two leaders agreed to cooperate closely to combat the virus and minimize its global impact,” The White House statement said, without mentioning the premiership. As things formally stand, it is Gantz who has been charged by President Reuven Rivlin with forming Israel’s next government, having been recommended as prime minister by 61 MKs. But the anticipated unity deal would see Netanyahu stay on as prime minister for the next 18 months, at which point he would hand over to Gantz, in a “rotation” deal that many observers believe will not play out. Since the March 2 election, in which Netanyahu’s Likud party won the most seats but his right-wing bloc fell three seats shy of forming a majority coalition, only Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had phoned the premier to offer congratulations. After elections in April 2019, which Netanyahu initially appeared to have won but ultimately proved unable to form a coalition, Trump called the Likud leader the next day from Air Force One with congratulations… 

MI Gov. Bans Hydroxychloroquine; Constituent Who Credits the Drug for Saving His Life Wants to Talk

by Elizabeth Vaughn{ } ~ The Detroit News’ Kathy Hoekstra reports that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has sent a letter to all physicians and pharmacists in the state… warning of “professional consequences” if they prescribe or dispense hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat coronavirus patients. Hoekstra  writes that “beyond the rational recommendation against hoarding as production of this medication needs to be ramped up, the letter deviates into open threats of “administrative action” against the licenses of doctors that prescribe hydroxychloroquine.” It also orders pharmacists to “ignore physician orders for this medication.” The letter is couched in terms of wanting to protect the state’s supply of these drugs for those suffering with conditions for which the drug has always been prescribed such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. But there is an unmistakably threatening tone to the letter. It starts by stating that LARA has received “multiple allegations of Michigan physicians inappropriately prescribing” these drugs “without a legitimate medical purpose.” Those infected with coronavirus and their doctors are not criminals. If testing positive for the coronavirus is not a legitimate medical reason to try these drugs, I don’t know what is. They are dealing with a life threatening disease that, through March 26, has already killed 1,209 Americans. Note: My colleague, Mike Ford, provides updated statistics every night at 11:30. And LARA reminds health care providers they are “required to report inappropriate prescribing practices.” Finally, the letter emphasizes the fact that these drugs “have not been proven scientifically or medically to treat COVID-19.”…   

Gilead Sciences Backs Off Monopoly Claim for Promising Coronavirus Drug

by Sharon Lerner{ } ~ Gilead Sciences on Wednesday announced that it has submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration to rescind the exclusive marketing rights it had secured for remdesivir… an antiviral drug that shows promise in treating Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. As The Intercept reported on Monday, the FDA had awarded Gilead seven years of exclusive marketing rights to the drug through the Orphan Drug Act, even though the statute was designed to induce pharmaceutical companies to make treatments for rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. Although the new coronavirus will almost certainly infect that many people, Gilead had exploited a loophole that grants orphan drug status if a company files for it before the official number of cases hits 200,000. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 438,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 59,000 in the United States. After a public  outcry, Gilead issued a press release stating: Gilead has submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to rescind the orphan drug designation it was granted for the investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19 and is waiving all benefits that accompany the designation. Gilead is confident that it can maintain an expedited timeline in seeking regulatory review of remdesivir, without the orphan drug designation. Recent engagement with regulatory agencies has demonstrated that submissions and review relating to remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19 are being expedited.  Still, public health experts remain concerned about the potential for Gilead and other pharmaceutical companies to engage in price gouging during the global pandemic. And while pharmaceutical companies are testing dozens of drugs as potential vaccines and treatments for the new coronavirus, some legal scholars have pointed to an obscure statute to help ensure that companies won’t price critical drugs out of reach…   

South Korea Provides Lessons, Good and Bad, on Coronavirus Response

by Bruce Klingner{ } ~ Early international media reporting on the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in South Korea was both alarming and alarmist… News coverage emphasized that, outside of China, South Korea had the highest number of coronavirus cases, which led 170 other countries to impose travel entry bans on South Koreans. But, after new cases peaked in late February, the number of sick people is now decreasing and the number of recovered patients is rising. There’s now an outpouring of acclaim for South Korea’s strategy, which enabled it to be one of the few countries to “flatten the curve” of new cases. Seoul was able to accomplish it without imposing China’s draconian social measures or declaring widespread quarantines, travel bans, or business closures, as in other countries. South Korea was rightly praised for its well-organized and aggressive mitigation efforts. Seoul implemented rapid and extensive testing, combined with high-tech monitoring and public notifications to identify and contain new cases. But while South Korea’s testing program has become the global gold standard, it comes at a potential cost in civil liberties that other nations may not seek or be able to emulate. Shortly after the initial discovery of the virus, South Korea implemented a “TRUST” strategy—an acronym for “Transparency, Robust screening and quarantine, Unique but universally applicable testing, Strict control, and Treatment.” The first cases of COVID-19 in South Korea and the U.S. were both detected on Jan. 20, but Seoul responded more quickly. Just one week after the country’s first case was diagnosed, South Korean officials met with representatives from 20 medical companies to request they immediately develop COVID-19 test kits for mass production…  

To Develop a Covid-19 Vaccine, Pharma and the Federal Government Will Have to Break Old Patterns

by Rachel M. Cohen{ } ~ In 2016, after years of effort and millions of dollars in government investment, a team of Texas scientists finally developed a promising vaccine for SARS… the deadly strain of coronavirus that had infected over 8,000 people worldwide in the early 2000s. But the outbreak that triggered the research had begun and ended, and no one was contracting new cases of the disease anymore. Private industry and governments responded to the request to fund the human clinical trials with unanimity: not interested. And so the SARS vaccine was shelved. “If investments had been made previously, we potentially could have a coronavirus vaccine ready to go now,” lead scientist Dr. Peter Hotez told Congress earlier this month. Scientists are now racing to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, the strain of coronavirus that has quickly upended the world. At least a dozen companies have joined the effort, from multinational giants like GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, and Johnson & Johnson, to smaller biotech firms like Inovio and Moderna. The latter became the first to give its working vaccine to a healthy adult last week, entering clinical trials with unprecedented speed. The public discourse has revolved mainly around how soon a vaccine could feasibly be ready at least 18 months and how much it would cost unclear. But if and when a vaccine candidate does get approval from the Food and Drug Administration — or even multiple get approved — then what? Will distributing a vaccine resemble the embarrassing efforts to distribute coronavirus tests? Does the government even have the capacity to manufacture a vaccine as quickly and widely as needed? Sen. rino-Mitt Romney, R-Utah, asked this question in a coronavirus hearing on March 3, and the answers weren’t encouraging. Dr. Robert Kadlec, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for preparedness and response, testified that the U.S. lacks the capacity for manufacturing the kinds of Covid-19 vaccines the federal government is currently pursuing. “We’d have a longer than a six-month wait to basically produce vaccines on scale,” he told rino-Romney. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases added that it will essentially come down to the pharmaceutical companies. “The federal government is not going to be able to make hundreds of millions of doses,” he said… 

Heritage Action’s Tim Chapman to Serve as Executive Director of Stand For America

by ~ Tim Chapman announced Wednesday he will leave his role as executive director of Heritage Action for America to serve as executive director of Stand For America… an issue advocacy group founded by former Ambassador Nikki Haley. For nearly 10 years—from Heritage Action’s founding in 2010—Chapman worked at the conservative grassroots organization, first as its chief operating officer and since 2018 as its executive director. In his new role at Stand For America, Chapman will join with Haley to advance public policies that strengthen America’s economy, culture, and security. “It has been a true honor to work with some of the brightest minds at The Heritage Foundation and help turn conservative ideas into reality on Capitol Hill,” Chapman said. “Working together with Heritage, we have accomplished significant policy goals and made important advancements for the American people. The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action are a powerful combination and I am confident they will continue to shape public policy issues in the future.” Chapman added: “As I embark on this new role at Stand For America, I am looking forward to working alongside Nikki Haley and helping her build a platform for promoting policy ideas. This is a passion that both of us share. We are excited to work with our fellow citizens to advocate policies that help everyone achieve the American Dream.” Over the past decade, Heritage Action developed a unique strategy that combines inside-the-Beltway lobbying with outside-the-Beltway grassroots pressure. Chapman helped to create a Capitol Hill lobbying team and legislative scorecard to implement conservative solutions. Meanwhile, Heritage Action’s grassroots coordinators developed an elite group of almost 20,000 Sentinel activists who are on the front lines of the conservative fight in their communities. Since 2010, Heritage Action has both thwarted the liberal agenda and advanced conservative principles. The organization has played a leading role to advance health care choices, led the fight for tax cuts, and supported the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. “We are grateful for Tim Chapman’s leadership of Heritage Action and excited for him as he takes on this new role at Stand For America,” said Nersi Nazari, chairman of Heritage Action’s Board of Directors. “Our board will continue to work with the team at Heritage Action to ensure our grassroots advocacy efforts continue in this critical year.” Prior to joining Heritage Action, Chapman served in different roles at The Heritage Foundation, including as chief of staff to Heritage founder and former president Ed Feulner and director of the Center for Media and Public Policy. He also spent time working in the Senate as a communications advisor.  

Question: When Did SARS-CoV-2 Really Arrive Here?

Mark Alexander  

As I noted this week in “The ‘War on Virus’ — What’s Our Exit Strategy?” formulating and implementing a way out of the current nationwide partial economic shutdown will be the most challenging policy decision of any presidential administration in decades.

One very significant question for the White House Coronavirus Task Force when evaluating an exit plan is the validity of the academic modeling, which leads to this question: When did the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variant causing COVID-19 disease enter the U.S.? Of this I am certain — it was not with the man who was diagnosed 21 January in Seattle after his trip to Wuhan, China. He most assuredly was not “patient zero,” despite being the first patient identified once we were alerted to CV19.But if not him, then who?Let me be clear: I believe nothing the communist Chinese regime is reporting about its handling of CV19. China claims it identified the first case on 17 November, but one can fairly assume there were many cases prior to that date that were either not identified or not disclosed. There is abundant evidence that the ChiComs attempted to conceal evidence of CV19 for much of November and December, until it notified the World Health Organization on 31 December.How many Chinese traveled to the U.S. in November, December, and early January, before Donald Trump  wisely banned such travel? Specifically, how many came from or had contact with people in Wuhan? According to immigration records, about 3.4 million Chinese enter the U.S. annually, which means that from the time the first China Virus cases were disclosed until the president’s travel ban, approximately 600,000 Chinese nationals entered our country. And this number doesn’t include the many Americans who traveled between China and the U.S. during that time, including the aforementioned Washington state patient diagnosed on 21 January.In the months prior to that U.S. diagnosis, the number of people in transit between the U.S. and China who were exposed to and could have been carriers of SARS-CoV-2, including many Chinese students, may be as high as 5,000-15,000. Undoubtedly, the disease was here before the first official CV19 case in January, which is to say that many illnesses and deaths in the prior months that were attributed to influenza could have been due to CV19 disease. As I’ve noted previously, the current spike in cases and deaths is primarily a reflection of the large number of tests now being performed, not only an indication of the spread of CV19.Why is pinpointing the arrival of SARS-CoV-2 into the U.S. so important? Because the Task Force must make decisions based on sound modeling. To avoid deep and prolonged economic harm, we should return to business as usual (excluding those at high risk) in the coming month. And if SARS-CoV-2 actually arrived here between mid-November and mid-January, then the modeling trajectory of its spread and fatality rate is significantly different than what has been projected and reported.To that point, yesterday Task Force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx made a remarkable disclosure. She condemned the “Viral Fear Pandemic” fomented by the mainstream media and, though she did not name them, the Democrat leaders who have disgracefully politicized that fear.Regarding the breathless pandemic modeling that has been promoted by the media, Brix declared: “Models are models. When people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it’s very scary, but we don’t have data that matches that based on our experience.” She said the media should not assert “that when people need a hospital bed it’s not going to be there, or a ventilator it’s not going to be there [because] we don’t have evidence of that.” She added, “It’s our job collectively to assure the American people. There is no model right now [and] no reality on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks. I want to be clear about that.”She referenced the “recent report out of the UK … that said there would be 500,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million deaths in the United States.” She noted, “They’ve adjusted that number in the UK to 20,000. Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment. … The predictions of the model don’t match the reality.”That original UK report was widely promoted by the mainstream media, and among the research modeling seriously evaluated by the CV19 Task Force. It’s Imperial College of Medicine authors suggested that basic mitigating efforts would only cut its dire death predictions by 50%. The researchers now project that of their revised 20,000 UK death estimates given current UK mitigating action, most of those would be people so sick that they would have died by the end of the year regardless of CV19.(Visit our comprehensive China Virus Pandemic response and recovery page, and see our related pages.  ~The Patriot Post  


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