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► The U.S. Senate continues to discuss a big stimulus bill aimed at easing economic concerns related to the Coronavirus outbreak. As The Washington Post reports:
Senate leaders and Trump administration officials are resuming talks Monday morning on a giant stimulus bill aimed at propping up an economy hard-hit by the coronavirus, after weekend negotiations failed to produce a deal.
Senate Democrats voted Sunday evening to block the bill from advancing, infuriating Republicans. Democrats have alleged the bill does too much to help prop up businesses without directing enough money to households, hospitals and health professionals. White House officials have acknowledged the unprecedented assistance the legislation would steer toward corporations, but they have said this money would help protect millions of jobs…[Pols emphasis]
…The legislation aims to flood the economy with money, from individuals to small businesses to large industries amid a wave of layoffs and a sharp contraction in consumer spending. It would direct $1,200 to most adults and $500 to most children. It would also create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states and another $350 billion to help small businesses meet payroll costs.
On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to reduce the number of people physically present in the workplace by 50 percent, and more if possible.
He said that while the state was not wielding enforcement authority to keep people at home, there is a more severe enforcement authority that should keep people home for themselves and others: “the Grim Reaper.”
“It is not the threat of you being brought to prison, it is the threat of death,” he said…
…Polis expects private businesses to comply with the order by Tuesday. Businesses that can prove they are able to keep workers at least six feet apart are allowed to keep their workforce in the office…
…The governor also announced the creation of a new team, intended to find innovative ways to address the crisis. The Innovation Response Team Taskforce will focus on creating statewide testing systems, as well as creating services for people in isolation or quarantine such as WiFi or groceries.
As Denver7 notes, Polis is not at all happy with the Trump administration’s Coronavirus response:
“In many ways, I couldn’t have imagined that our nation’s response could have been so slow,” Polis said. “Like many governors of both parties across the country, I’m furious that as the leader of the free world, we’re being forced to close down businesses and restaurants and bars because the United States – unlike [South] Korea and Taiwan – didn’t have enough tests, enough personal protective equipment, or ventilators, to properly manage care for those who would get this virus.”
Governor Polis is also asking landlords and banks to be lenient on tenants and mortgage holders during the Coronavirus outbreak.
► Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is the first member of the U.S. Senate to test positive for COVID-19. Paul may have infected many others with his irresponsible actions, as Amber Phillips explains for The Washington Post.
Senator Paul is trying to defend his actions today, but as CNN reports, he’s doing it wrong:
“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol,” Paul said in a statement. “The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.”
► The Federal Reserve announced aggressive new measures aimed at keeping the United States economy afloat during the pandemic.
► President Trump appears to be growing weary already of the country’s (now) aggressive response to the coronavirus outbreak. As The New York Times reports:
President Trump on Sunday night said that the government would reassess the recommended period for keeping businesses shut and millions of workers at home after this week, amid millions of job losses caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr. Trump tweeted in all capital letters shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
Officials have said that the initial 15-day period for social distancing — limiting close contact between people by banning gatherings, closing schools and offices, encouraging remote work and urging people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another — is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, for which more than 30,000 people in the United States have tested positive. The 15-day period would end Monday.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…
SERIOUSLY, THERE WILL BE NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS MOMENTARILY…
High-profile media pundits are calling for broadcasters to stop live coverage of Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings – because his statements are so full of misinformation.
The president has made a series of false, misleading or dubious claims about the pandemic, some of which have had to be immediately corrected by health experts such as Dr Anthony Fauci.
Mr Trump has claimed there are plenty of tests available – although there aren’t – and hailed the use of an anti-malaria drug to treat Covid-19, although experts insist any hopes for its effectiveness are based on only “anecdotal” evidence. He said Google was about to launch a website that would help people get tests, something the tech giant had to play down.
After weeks of playing down the risks of the coronavirus – at one point saying there were only 15 cases and that they would soon be down to “close to zero” – the president has now claimed that he predicted it would be a pandemic before anyone else.
If you watched the hour-plus briefing from the White House on Sunday — which 9News anchor Kyle Clark accurately called “interminable” — you are probably in agreement on this proposal.
As The New York Times writes, Trump is using these daily briefings in part as a substitute for campaign rallies — and he’s trying out a new narrative:
After three years of Republicans’ championing signs of financial prosperity that were to be Mr. Trump’s chief re-election argument, the president has never needed a new message to voters as he does now, not to mention luck. At this point, the president has one clear option for how to proceed politically, and is hoping that an array of factors will break his way.
The option, which he has brazenly pushed in recent days, is to cast himself as a “wartime president” who looks in charge of a nation under siege while his likely Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., is largely out of sight hunkered down in Delaware. This gambit, however, requires a rewriting of history — Mr. Trump’s muted approach to the virus early on — and it’s far from clear if many voters will accept the idea of him as a wartime leader…
…In perhaps the best-case scenario for Mr. Trump, the patina of a “wartime president” could prove to be influential with casual voters who don’t dig into the details of his belated response to the coronavirus, which included dismissing the criticism of his handling of the threat as a Democratic “hoax” and contributing to a slow start in testing for the virus.
“He is counting on people being so traumatized on a day-to-day basis that they will forget his inaction,” said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. “It’s better for him to be a wartime commander in chief than someone who, when the big crisis hit, misread it completely.”
► President Trump made lots of headlines from his Sunday news briefing, and almost all of them were bad. Here he is sounding almost gleeful at the news that Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is in quarantine:
Trump snarks Romney being in COVID-19 isolation. “Gee. That’s too bad.” pic.twitter.com/zLty0Bgy6G
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 22, 2020
► Colorado Public Radio catches up with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), both of whom are working from home under self-quarantine.
Gardner is using much of his time in isolation to conduct interviews with right-wing media outlets, pushing a story that the federal government responded slowly to the Coronavirus because of impeachment. Gardner is also putting on quite the show of pretending to be aghast that powerful and wealthy people have access to coronavirus testing.
“I think people should get back to church. I think people should be allowed to conduct political activities safely, smartly, but we’ve got to move forward in way that makes sure we recognize the freedoms we have as Americans. Calling a time-out is one thing. If this extends too long then I think it’s a bad decision and it’s not based on science.”
► Jason Dunn, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, will head up law enforcement efforts targeting coronavirus-related fraud cases.
► The coronavirus outbreak is causing confusion in Colorado courtrooms (alliteration for the win!)
► People are filing for unemployment claims in Colorado in record numbers, but there are still a lot of new jobs available.
► A Colorado company is at the forefront of efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine.
► It’s hard to disagree with this headline from Rolling Stone:
► Coloradans turned out in strong numbers to donate unused medical supplies at Mile High Stadium (or whatever the hell it’s called now) in Denver. The supply drive was spearheaded by House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.
► As the Huffington Post reports, President Trump is not a doctor:
President Donald Trump touted a two-drug cocktail Saturday to battle the coronavirus. But the medicines together have been linked to cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death.
Concerned physicians responded to Trump’s tweet crowing about what could be “one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine” with warnings about the serious side effects — and urgent pleas not to try to obtain the drugs without a medical prescription in consultation with a doctor.
Hydroxychloroquine, sold under the brand name Plaquenil, and the antibiotic Azithromycin in combination have shown some early promise against COVID-19. But the drugs together have not been approved as safe or effective against the disease by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Any use must take into consideration a potentially deadly side effect.
Hydroxychloroquine may have caused the deaths of several people in Nigeria who listened to the medical advice of a snake oil salesman (we’re still talking about Trump, yes).
► Just read this lede from Politico:
The Trump administration is considering whether to create a special enrollment period for Obamacare coverage because of the coronavirus emergency, a CMS spokesperson confirmed.
HERE IT IS: POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS NOT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS…
► As CNN explains, President Trump is in a bad spot regarding his re-election hopes:
Trump is the first incumbent president to be trailing at this point in the general election cycle (i.e. late March in the election year) since Harry Truman in 1948.
► Mesa County Republicans held a “virtual” county assembly on Saturday. Colorado Public Radio has more on how the Democratic and Republican parties are adjusting their nominating processes in order to comply with social distancing requirements.
► North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler are still getting hammered after apparently selling massive amounts of stock after receiving non-public briefings about the coronavirus outbreak. As CBS News reports, Loeffler’s husband also seems to have taken advantage of this inside information:
The CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, sold millions of dollars worth of the parent company’s shares in late February just days before the first reported death from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. The transaction also came as financial markets were starting to tumble as the devastating economic impact of the outbreak was becoming clear.
Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the husband of Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia [Pols emphasis], on February 26 sold $3.5 million in shares of ICE, as the exchange is called, at an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, ICE shares have plunged nearly 25% amid a broader downdraft in stocks.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► As the editorial board of The Miami Herald writes, be very glad that your Governor is not Republican Ron DeSantis:
With Florida’s economy crashing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis is working overtime to preserve our status as the world’s leading exporter of political comedy.
Friday, DeSantis mounted the bully pulpit to present House Speaker Jose Oliva, with a baseball bat inscribed with the words “Slayer of the healthcare industrial complex.”
► Former Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is not following through on a campaign pledge that he would keep staffers on payroll through November, no matter who ended up as the Democratic nominee.
► The COVID-19 pandemic is often compared to the 1918 influenza outbreak. One thing that both outbreaks had in common? Lies after lies from top government officials.
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