Category Archives: Health Care

Bernie Sanders Releases Priorities for Next Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Calls for ‘Boldest Legislation Ever Written in Modern History’

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind.  

“We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Sanders said. “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history. Today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in new Congressional legislation to support working people during this horrific crisis.” 

Sanders’ priorities include:

Keep workers on payroll – make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck, retroactive to the beginning of the crisis. An important precedent was set by keeping airline workers on payroll in the last bill

Use Medicare to make sure no one has to pay for health care during the crisis

A $2,000 monthly emergency payment to every person in the country until the crisis has passed

The forceful use of the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies

Hazard pay for workers on the frontlines of the emergency

$600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities

Freezing monthly rent and mortgage payments

Emergency food for millions of families who would otherwise go hungry

In a mailing to supporters, Sanders described his priorities in more detail:

Our country is now facing its worst crisis in modern history. We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment. This week that number doubled to 6.6 million claims — ten times higher than any other week on record. It is certain that well over 10 million people have lost their jobs — more than in the Wall Street crash of 2008.

In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. And that means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history.

There are many, many issues that must be addressed in our response to this pandemic, and working together, we will make sure they are addressed.

1. Addressing the Employment Crisis and Providing Immediate Financial Relief

There is little doubt in my mind that we are facing an economic crisis that could be even worse than the Great Depression. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has projected that 47 million more people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32 percent. In my view, we must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis and we must provide immediate financial relief to everyone in this country.

An important precedent for that approach was taken in the recent stimulus package in which grants were provided to the airlines for the sole purpose of maintaining the paychecks and benefits of some 2 million workers in that industry through September 30. We must expand that program to cover every worker in America and we must make it retroactive to the beginning of this crisis. This is not a radical idea. Other countries, such as the UK, Norway, Denmark, France, and others have all come up with similar approaches to sustain their economy and prevent workers from losing their jobs.

Our primary goal during this crisis must be to prevent the disintegration of the American economy. It will be much easier and less expensive to prevent the collapse of the economy than trying to put it back together after it collapses.

To do this, we must also begin monthly payments of $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in our country, and guarantee paid family leave throughout this crisis so that people who are sick do not face the choice of infecting others or losing their job.

2. We Must Guarantee Health Care to All

Let’s be clear: we were facing a catastrophic health care crisis before the pandemic, and now that crisis has become much, much worse. Already, 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. Layoffs will mean tens of millions of people more will lose their current insurance — which will result in countless deaths and bankruptcies. Already in the last two weeks, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance.

And as the pandemic grows, we are seeing more and more reports of people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, uninsurance will lead to deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.

Therefore, during this crisis, Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national pandemic. Let me be clear: I am not proposing that we pass Medicare for All in this moment. That fight continues into the future. But, for the moment, we must act boldly to make sure everyone can get the health care they need in the coming months.

3. Use the Defense Production Act to Produce the Equipment and Testing We Need

Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. The CDC has directed health professionals to use homemade gear like bandanas or scarves and some workers at the VA are being told to re-use one surgical mask for a week at a time. HHS estimated that our country needs 3.5 billion masks in response to this crisis.

President Trump has utilized the Defense Production Act thousands of times for the military and for enforcement of his immigration policies, yet he has resisted using its power to save lives during the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies needed.

We must also utilize this power to produce antibody tests so we can begin figuring out who has already contracted the virus and has developed some immunity to COVID-19.

In addition, OSHA must adopt a strong emergency standard to protect health care workers, patients, and the public during this crisis. We must crack down aggressively on price gougers and hoarders, and use any means necessary to secure supplies.

4. Make Sure No One Goes Hungry

Even before this crisis hit, one in every seven kids in America was going hungry and nearly 5.5 million seniors in our country struggled with hunger. Already in this crisis we see lines at food banks and growing concern that our most vulnerable communities and those recently unemployed may struggle to feed their families.

As communities face record levels of food insecurity, we must increase SNAP benefits, expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children, double funding for the Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) to ensure food banks have food to distribute, and expand Meals on Wheels and School Meals programs. When necessary, we must also develop new approaches to deliver food to vulnerable populations — including door-to-door drop offs.

5. Provide Emergency Aid to States and Cities

Even as state and local employees like police officers, firefighters and paramedics work on the front lines of this pandemic, states and cities that pay their salaries are facing enormous budgetary pressures.

Congress must provide $600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities to ensure they have the personnel and funding necessary to respond to this crisis. In addition, the Federal Reserve must establish programs to provide direct fiscal support and budgetary relief to states and municipalities.

6. Suspend Monthly Payments

Even before this crisis, half of the people in our country were living paycheck to paycheck. In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Now, with growing unemployment, families are facing financial ruin if we do not act quickly and boldly.

That’s why we must suspend monthly expenses like rent, mortgages, medical debt and consumer debt collection for 4 months. We must cancel all student loan payments for the duration of this crisis, and place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.

Brothers and sisters: In this unprecedented moment in our history it is easy to feel like we are alone, and that everyone must fend for themselves. But that would be a mistake and a terrible tragedy. Now, more than any other moment in our lives, we must remember that we are all in this together — that when one of us gets sick, many more may get sick. And when my neighbor loses their job, I may lose my job as well.

Further, we cannot wait until our economy collapses to act. It will be far easier and less expensive to act now, in a very bold way, than to try to rebuild our country later.

If we work together and unite behind these basic principles of economic and health justice, I am confident that we will not only get through this unprecedented crisis together but that we will lay the groundwork for a better and more just America in the future.

But today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in the next legislation Congress passes to support working people in this country during this horrific crisis. Please read them and add your name to say that you agree:

(Read the priorities here.)

The proposal put forward by Sanders today is backed by several progressive groups.  

“Half of Veterans are over age 65, and we disproportionately suffer from preexisting conditions and economic challenges which make the COVID-19 pandemic particularly devastating for our community,” Common Defense Director Alex McCoy said. “Meanwhile, countless workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are making extraordinary sacrifices to save lives, while going without sufficient protective equipment. Senator Sanders’ plan for Phase 4 of COVID-19 response takes the bold steps which are absolutely essential to saving countless lives and preventing immeasurable economic hardship. We must immediately implement his proposals to provide Americans with a financial lifeline, and pivot our industrial capacity to produce sufficient supplies. We applaud Senator Sanders for demonstrating real leadership in this crisis and centering the tangible needs of ordinary people, while Donald Trump downplays the threat and weaponizes aid to give favors to his political allies and bail-outs to his favorite corporate CEOs.”

“Senator Sanders’ economic rescue principles speak to the bold, fast action needed to protect and support people, and prevent corporations from consolidating economic and political power amidst a crisis,” People’s Action Director George Goehl said. “We urge him to build on this strong framework by including a Rent Zero policy in the short term: no rent or mortgage payments during the crisis, no late fees, and no debts from housing obligations during the crisis.”

“Bernie’s plan for the fourth phase of a federal legislative response centers people, not corporations. It is about helping us survive with the cash assistance, healthcare, nutrition, worker safety we need, and relief from monthly payments we cannot make. It speaks to the needs of frontline workers who are battling the pandemic and making it possible for the rest of us to shelter in place, said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Director of Center For Popular Democracy Action. “Bernie is uniquely courageous in demanding and lifting up the inclusion of immigrants, recognizing that low-income communities of color will bear the worst of this crisis. His plan provides urgent and direct relief to those most vulnerable — addressing the gaps left by previous relief bills and creating a foundation for long-lasting recovery.” 

“Governments all around the world are keeping people employed and on payroll by covering salaries if businesses commit to not cutting wages or laying people off,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said. “Senator Sanders is leading the fight to bring that common sense model to our country when so many workers and small business owners are confronting a complicated Rube Goldberg machine just to get a little relief.”

“This moment of crisis exemplifies the detrimental impact failing to account for the needs and extend protections to the most vulnerable has on the health of all within our communities, said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Director of Make the Road Action. “Only through a comprehensive response that covers the immediate and future healthcare, economic and maintenance needs of all members of our society can we prevent greater loss of life and a deeper economic downturn. Make the Road will continue to fight alongside Senator Sanders to ensure the next phase of COVID-19 legislative response includes these provisions and an eye towards justice.” 

“The current government response has left behind some of our most vulnerable neighbors including the homeless, the undocumented, the unbanked, and those without internet connections, said Marisa Franco, Founder and Director of Mijente. “The priorities outlined by Senators Sanders for the next Coronavirus Stimulus Package are what our country needs to ensure everyone in our community can access the financial and medical support needed to withstand this crisis. We stand with Senator Sanders in demanding a $2,000 monthly emergency payment, emergency food, and Medicare to every person in our country regardless of their housing situation, immigration status or whether they have a bank account or internet connection.” 

Biden Offers “Make It Work” Checklist for Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Absolutely none of the plans to mitigate against the twin crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic on Americans’ healthcare and the nation’s economy have come from Trump, but rather he has played catch up finally responding to the pleas and shaming from Congressional Democrats, who turned the trillion dollar slush fund for corporations into a $2.2 trillion relief bill, and from Governors and Mayors desperate for life-saving medical equipment and supplies. But his administration has proved woefully inadequate to implement. The $350 billion earmarked to rescue small businesses that is supposed to go into effect has no actual means; the billions in relief checks that are supposed to go to individuals are bogged down by a dysfunctional administration. While Trump has used the coronavirus pandemic to attack Democrats, and take advantage of the limited ability of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to campaign by turning briefings into rallies and extort praise and adulation from desperate government officials, Biden has sought to point to the contrast his leadership would offer.

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. (Recall Trump’s signing statement which basically obviated the oversight the Democrats put into the Act.) The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. This is from the Biden campaign –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act:
The Biden “Make It Work” Checklist

1. Making Americans who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. The CARES Act provides for the equivalent of full wage replacement for average American wage-earners. With millions of Americans making claims for lost jobs in a single week – nearly five times the previous record – getting workers their wage replacement checks fast has never been more important. Let’s be clear: even with new funds from the CARES Act, if the White House does not do everything in its power to help all of our states swiftly implement these new unemployment (UI) benefits, states will be even more overwhelmed. Our states will need help with staffing capacity, technology solutions, training for new claims processors, and best practices from other jurisdictions. This must happen immediately – before the crush of UI claims becomes even more overwhelming. Americans desperate for relief to pay the rent and keep food on the tables for their children will judge states’ performance on the number of UI claims successfully processed, the number of Americans paid as quickly as possible, and how quickly they receive relief – beginning this week. Biden would:

Establish a UI delivery team to help states solve any implementation problems they face. He would authorize that team to provide funds beyond the $1 billion appropriated to states to add staffing and server capacity.

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act to ensure that banks that have contracts with states deliver unemployment benefit payments to laid-off workers do so in a timely manner, and that they offer prompt electronic payment options.

Issue clear guidance about the broadest possible eligibility and communicate that guidance effectively so that all Americans understand what benefits they are entitled to.

Make clear that gig workers can get partial benefits when they are still working if their compensation and hours have been significantly reduced.

Work with Congress to extend the provisions for the duration of the crisis. Four months is not enough to provide families the aid they need throughout this economic crisis.

2. Get direct cash relief as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible. The CARES Act provides for $1,200 per person and $500 per child in cash relief for millions of  working families. Biden would prioritize getting Americans the cash relief they are owed and making it easy to access the relief. The Trump administration is already failing at this by causing needless worry for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Biden would do so by:

Delivering the payments electronically whenever possible and delivering pre-paid debit cards to those who don’t have bank accounts. Payments should not be delayed just so that President Trump can put his signature on a physical check.

Making payments automatic for millions who haven’t filed a tax return based on information the government already has– and streamlining filing for others. The Trump Administration has needlessly confused millions by first announcing that Social Security recipients and people with disabilities would have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate, before reversing themselves. The reversal is welcome. The CARES Act clearly allows the Treasury Department to send cash relief payments automatically to millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others without burdening them with new paperwork during a pandemic. Treasury can send these payments using information that the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies already possess to get payments to these people. From the start, Biden would have announced an automatic, clear, and simple process of getting stimulus payments to these individuals. And he would extend these same automatic payments to others, like veterans, who still would not get automatic payments under the Administration’s plan. For those who do need to file a new form, Biden would establish an immediate, streamlined cash relief application process to make sure the neediest Americans are being taken care of. There is no reason that most of these Americans cannot be paid within days of filing this paperwork with the right focus, the right process, and the right prioritization.

Expanding the CARES Act relief to dependents left out of the legislation. Democrats fought and won cash relief for most working families, but the legislation left out relief for dependents aged 17 and older, whether a high school student or an older relative living with a family. That is a huge hole in support for working families. As he pushes for relief to extend as long as is needed to pull us through this crisis, Biden would immediately ask Congress to correct this and give these families the support they deserve.

Preparing for additional payments. As the crisis continues, Biden would provide additional cash payments as necessary.

3. Keep as many people on payroll as possible by working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to make maximum use of “work-sharing” and “short-time compensation” programs. The Obama-Biden administration expanded an innovative form of “employment insurance,” called “work-sharing” or “short-time compensation.” Under these programs, when a business keeps its workers on payroll – but with reduced hours – federally-backed insurance will compensate those workers to make up for their reduced hours. Expanding short-time compensation has never been more important than today, when keeping workers on payrolls is an urgent national economic priority. Before this crisis, more than 20 states didn’t have programs to allow for short-time compensation, and they were often underutilized even in the states that did. The CARES Act provides for additional federal financing to expand work-sharing. To make that financing work, Biden would:

Direct the Department of Labor to ensure these programs are offered in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Provide resources and guidance for states to create a simple application for small businesses, as well as larger businesses, to take advantage of work-sharing. 

Direct the Department of Labor to issue guidance applying the $600 per week emergency boost in unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to work-sharing programs.

Work with Congress to allow, on an emergency basis, work-sharing programs to pay benefits when hours are reduced dramatically, but employees are still working part-time. 

4. Take the necessary steps to ensure that all small businesses can access relief fast, not just those with the right connections. The CARES Act includes a small business program to provide loans and funds to help small businesses survive this storm and keep their workers on their payroll. It also provides the same relief to small nonprofits, many of whom are needed more than ever in a national crisis. However, there is no assurance that all eligible small businesses will receive support — and the program relies on private banks’ willingness and ability to swiftly provide these government-backed loans. An approach that simply assumes major banks will do this in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive way is likely to result in too few loans being made, too slowly, and mostly to larger and more well-resourced businesses with established relationships and connections. To get loans out quickly to the millions of qualifying Main Street small businesses that need relief — especially in rural and urban communities and those owned by women and minorities — we need a network of financial institutions committed to and capable of efficiently extending credit to every small business and nonprofit in need of support. The rules must be clear and simple to give every eligible small business the confidence that relief is coming, and that they can plan for the future with that relief in mind. There are millions of struggling businesses that do not have time to wait. Success cannot be judged by incremental progress or splashy announcements – we need an effort to direct hundreds of thousands of loans to businesses, beginning this week. For Biden, this would be designated as a vital national priority. Immediately, he would:

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act, to make all banks prioritize the swift processing of small business loans, putting them at the front of the line as a national priority. Banks would have to process loan applications within a few working days from all small businesses seeking relief, including the mom-and-pop shops that need help the most and are frequently pushed to the back of the line and those in low-income and traditionally underbanked geographies.

Cut red tape: immediately use the authority in the CARES Act to set simple and clear eligibility criteria; a hyper-streamlined application process; and an expedited process for the smallest of businesses who are most likely to be left out.

Explore creative solutions like working with payroll processing companies to speed up disbursement, including a one-click process for accessing funds.

Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses – and whether they are maintaining payroll.

Make sure that the small business loan program is connected with the work-sharing strategy so that these initiatives are providing the maximum support towards keeping workers on payroll.

Halt evictions and foreclosures of small businesses, and work to provide forbearance on rent and mortgages to provide a lifeline as loans are being processed

Immediately reengage Congress to allow for small business loans that can keep workers on the payroll for far longer than eight weeks.

Immediately seek bipartisan agreement that additional resources will be available as needed to cover loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, so that there is not a race to exhaust the $350 billion that leaves some of the most deserving family and smaller-businesses out in the cold because they were not as well-connected or served well by banks.

5. Set clear rules on any industry support – they must help workers and communities, not bail out shareholders or financial industry creditors. The CARES Act gives the Treasury Secretary authority to provide financial assistance directly to large companies. While Democrats secured important protections against stock buybacks and executive compensation, Biden would set a higher bar to make sure that any industry bailout package helps workers and communities where the company operates – not the existing shareholders or creditors of some of the largest companies in the country. He would require that, in return for any financial assistance, large companies accept further conditions along the lines outlined by Senators Brown and Warren, including that they: 

Demonstrate they are prepared to actively participate in the public health effort, including production, distribution, and logistics capacity.

Agree to maintain payrolls at reasonable levels, for both full-time employees and contractors.

Allow taxpayers to share in the upside of any recovery, as was practiced during the last downturn, while ensuring existing shareholders and creditors share in any losses.

Agree to worker representation on their Board of Directors.

Commit to not transfer jobs out of the United States.

6. Establish strong oversight and transparency to police abuse and misappropriation by the Administration and the corporations who receive funds. In addition to enforcing strict conditions, Biden would ensure there are no sweetheart deals, no special favors, and no slush fund, and that corporations follow through on their hard commitments. This is a major concern given the track record of the Trump administration. In the CARES Act, Congress established a Special Inspector General to police the $500 billion in funding for large corporations and to make sure it is going to the right places for the right reasons. But last week, Trump’s White House announced that it intends to restrict the work of the Special Inspector General, in defiance of the bipartisan legislation and the will of the American people to have strong transparency and oversight. Biden would provide full freedom to the Special Inspector General to conduct oversight, meet regularly with him or her, and ensure he or she had all the resources required for effective oversight. That is what he did with the Inspector General under the Recovery Act, and the result was less than 0.2% fraud . 

7. Move much-needed funds for public health and emergency medical needs to hospitals, and local, state, and tribal governments. The CARES Act includes critical provisions to meet the needs of this public health emergency, including funding for cash-strapped hospitals. Biden would focus on getting those funds out the door, with a special focus on rural hospitals that were already financially constrained before COVID-19. He would also provide additional reimbursement plus-ups for Medicare providers who are risking their lives to treat patients. Finally, Biden would ensure that hospitals are not cutting the pay of doctors and nurses during this emergency, as some reports have indicated. The allocation of federal dollars should be conditioned on an explicit commitment to not cut back on wages or benefits of hospital-based health care workers. As funds are disbursed, Biden would work to ensure the administration is tracking what else hospitals need so that we can ensure that we incorporate that into future legislation and budgets. 

8. Ensure equitable allocation of recovery funds. There is a growing body of evidence that recovery funding after crises actually widens pre-existing racial disparities. For example, researchers at Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh found that “whites accumulate more wealth after natural disasters while residents of color accumulate less.” Federal leadership will be required to ensure that recovery from the pandemic helps everyone hurt in the crisis in a fair and equitable way, with a special focus on populations that have historically been left out or left behind. Jurisdictions that receive funding should be required to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial disparities, and the SBA and Treasury should similarly track lending to ensure that minority business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are not treated unfairly.  And, the Trump Administration should suspend their public charge rule. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria not only undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, but also may stop immigrants from getting help during this pandemic and pose broader issues for public health.

9. Establish a CARES Act Implementation Office with responsibility for ensuring (a) people understand and can effectively access all the relief to which they are entitled; and (b) states have all the capacities they need to get the money out as fast as possible. The CARES Act is hundreds of pages long. Big businesses have armies of lawyers to help them figure it out. But many small businesses and families won’t know what’s available to them like: who qualifies for mortgage forbearance? What do small businesses need to qualify not just for loans but for loan forgiveness? Biden would establish a team that would put together a plain-language, comprehensive guide to the benefits in the bill and who they are meant for — and a strategy to communicate to the American people. The Office would set up both online- and telephone-based customer service to answer questions. It would work with community leaders across the country who are on the front lines of this crisis. And, Biden would dedicate staff to every single state as action officers to assist states in accessing the CARES Act funds and disbursing them efficiently. 

10. Start working on the Fourth Package now. We already know that more will have to be done; potentially a massive amount more. Biden wouldn’t wait. He would bring together the leaders of Congress to design a fourth package that accomplishes three things: (a) fixes things that aren’t working in CARES Act implementation and fills in gaps that become apparent; (b) takes care of the people the CARES Act left out; and (c) does whatever it takes, spends whatever it takes, to help the American people and the American economy emerge from the other side of this stronger. He would also make sure the new package automatically extends relief as long as is needed to support families and communities through this crisis. In addition to provisions mentioned above, Biden would ask Congress to include in new legislation:

Any further resources and authority required to break down barriers to implementation, whether on small business, or unemployment insurance, or short-time compensation.

Additional provisions to meet needs not fully covered in the CARES Act, including:

Additional funds for states. As this crisis unfolds, states are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Cops and firefighters and teachers are going to be at risk of losing pay. Biden would make sure the federal government provides the relief that communities on the front lines need to put their full resources behind the public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety, and to deal with extraordinary economic circumstances like helping with missed rent and other payments for those facing significant hardship.

Cost-free treatment for COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.

Student debt forgiveness through the duration of the crisis, with a minimum of $10,000.

Boosts to Social Security by $200 per month for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for every worker, and making these benefits permanent.

An increase in SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.

A rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis

A halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get on their feet.

Key long-term investments, stronger public health systems, and automatic stabilizers so that in future crises the social safety net is there for Americans who need it.

Biden Challenges Trump Attempts to Spin Historic Failure to Combat Coronavirus

Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. Instead of a “whole of government” marshaling of forces to combat the virus, Trump’s “whole of government” is one big political enterprise, while Trump uses that time at the bully pulpit to attack Democrats, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and call the impeachment yet another “hoax” instead of organizing his administration to make sure all the states and cities have the life-saving equipment and staff needed to save lives, that the nation unites together to curtail social contact, and to make sure businesses and families to have the financial resources necessary to make it through. Instead, Trump has denied re-opening enrollment to Obamacare for those who don’t have health insurance, and his administration has no clue how to actually implement the $2.2 trillion in “relief” money to families and businesses.  This is from the Biden campaign: –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference


1.  Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace? 
 
The Trump administration is refusing to re-open the federal ACA marketplace’s enrollment period — jeopardizing Americans’ access to health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic — despite pleas from a bipartisan coalition of leaders, including the Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to do so.
 
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health care of Americans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
 
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care. 
 

2.  Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
 
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?

Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying yesterday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
 
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
 
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”


3.  With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread, like other countries did, instead of downplaying its threat for months?
 
Two new polls today show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
 
POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis. 
 
These sliding poll numbers come as Trump continues to mislead Americans about his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, bizarrely claiming in Monday’s press briefing that he knew all along how dangerous the virus was, but failing to explain why he didn’t take swift action.
 

4.  GOP State Attorneys General confirmed Monday that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
 
The Daily Beast confirmed on Monday that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic.  
 
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 

5.  Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
 
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this. 
 
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response. 
 
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.


6.  With another round of record unemployment claims showing the economic pain the coronavirus is putting the American people through, do you regret the weeks you spent downplaying the threat it posed and do you agree with your Treasury Secretary who said last week that unemployment numbers are “not relevant”?
 
With 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, the explosive economic toll of the coronavirus continues to grow.
 
For months, Trump ignored and downplayed the looming threat of the coronavirus and failed to take the necessary steps to prepare us — even as other countries quickly acted. Now, America has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world and our economy continues to suffer body blows.
 
Throughout, Trump’s administration has shown a cavalier indifference to the unimaginable economic toll of the coronavirus has had on the American workers, with Secretary Mnuchin claiming that last week’s massive unemployment figures were “not relevant” — even as families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.
 
 
7.  Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace? 
 
The Trump administration is refusing to re-open the federal ACA marketplace — preventing Americans’ access to health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic — despite pleas from a bipartisan coalition of leaders, including the Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to do so.
 
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health of Amercans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
 
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 

8.  A new report today shows that the U.S. Army was projecting as early as the beginning of February that 150,000 Americans could be killed by the coronavirus. So why did you continue to waste precious weeks downplaying the threat it posed?
 
A shocking report today by the Daily Beast shows that as early as February 3, the U.S. Army had internal projections showing that upwards of 150,000 Americans could die as a result of the coronavirus that was then spreading rapidly around the globe.
 
Instead of joining other countries around the world in taking quick action to prepare for the virus, Trump dismissed and downplayed its threat, telling a campaign rally a week later that “looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
 
Vice President Biden, in contrast, was sounding the alarm — writing a January 27 op-ed in USA Today about the threat it posed and the steps that should be taken, with Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine noting yesterday that Joe Biden “very much did see the coronavirus disaster coming.”
 
 
9.  With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread?
 
Two new polls released yesterday show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
 
POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
 
These sliding poll numbers come as Trump continues to mislead Americans about his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, bizarrely claiming in Monday’s press briefing that he knew all along how dangerous the virus was, but failing to explain why he didn’t take swift action.
 
 
10.  Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
 
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
 
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying Tuesday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
 
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
 
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.

The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy From Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden offers his own plan to address the coronavirus pandemic that contrasts with Trump’s: “It would be catastrophic to reopen everything without a plan, and then have a spike in cases and shut it all back down. That would just mean more loss of life and economic pain.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

So far, Donald Trump has failed to lead – he has begrudgingly followed when shamed into acting by Governors like Cuomo, Newsome yet still manages to take credit for the “boldest” “greatest” “historic” “unprecedented” actions for which he had no input. Trump is taking credit for a $2 trillion aid package that contradicts his own plans to bail out the Oil & Gas industry and give Treasury Secretary Mnuchin unlimited power to steer billions of dollars to friends, while his EPA and Interior Department race to institute rules that overturn Obama-era rules to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to Climate Change; there is even a provision in the bail-out specifically barring funds to go to Trump’s own businesses because of his record of using his office for self-enrichment, in violation of the Emoluments Clause. Trump’s daily briefings have been turned into substitutes for his campaign rallies, where he gets to attack “enemies” (The Press) and spout lies designed to boost his approval and chances for election. Democratic challengers Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders don’t have the same bully pulpit, but have nonetheless attempted to draw stark contrasts in how they would lead the nation out of this coronavirus pandemic, which, in fact, could be continuing into the next president’s administration. This is from the Biden campaign: — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, editor@news-photos-features.com

Tonight, Joe Biden is releasing an emergency action plan to save the economy, laying out three key steps he would take as president to tackle the ongoing pandemic and safeguard our country’s economic prosperity. In a new video speaking directly to Americans, Vice President Biden outlined his emergency action plan and highlighted the immediate, impactful steps that can be taken to defeat the virus and protect the livelihood of working families.

FACT SHEET:
The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy

Congress is close to passing a massive relief bill. When it passes, it’s all about execution — and filling in the gaps.
 
If Joe Biden were President right now, here are the three things he would do now to save our economy and help our families weather the storm.  And to get them done, he would appoint a task force reporting twice-daily to him on progress.
 
FIRST, use all available authorities, including the Defense Production Act to turn the tide on this epidemic. Joe Biden knows that no economic strategy will work if we don’t stop the virus. In recent days, there’s been talk that we have to choose between public health and our economy. That’s not just a false choice. It’s a dangerous one.
 
It would be catastrophic to reopen everything without a plan, and then have a spike in cases and shut it all back down. That would just mean more loss of life and economic pain.
 
To reopen, public health experts say we need real testing capacity, the ability to trace contacts if someone tests positive, and the ability to surge equipment and supplies to any new hotspots. We should listen to them. It’s the quickest, surest way to getting our economy back on track. And we also need to address the shortage of items like ventilators and personal protective equipment for health care workers, and make sure our workforce on the frontlines everyday has the protections to provide the essential services we will continue to need.  Joe Biden would use the full powers of the presidency and this government to make that happen. 
 
Joe Biden would end this epidemic and get our economy back on track through bold action — not by picking an arbitrary date on the calendar and asserting it’s over.
 
SECOND, launch a task force reporting directly to me to make sure every dollar going out the door gets to the people who need it — fast.
 
Joe Biden led the implementation of the Recovery Act in the last crisis.  He knows it’s all about priorities. Here would be his:

  • Keep as many people on the payroll as possible and make Americans whole for lost hours and wages. Joe Biden would expedite aid to businesses who commit to helping workers stay employed through the crisis, so they can get back to work when conditions allow.  He would maximize work-sharing, a form of “employment insurance” we championed in the Obama-Biden administration to keep more workers on the job. And for those who do get laid off and who’s industries are out of work, the congressional bill boosts unemployment benefits — Biden would cut through the red tape to deliver them without delay, and extend them as long as public health and economic conditions call for it.
  • Act decisively to keep small businesses in business. Included in the legislation before Congress is $377 billion for small businesses. This money will guarantee immediate loans that banks provide to small businesses to make payroll, pay rent and other costs, and keep their doors open. But there is a real risk it won’t get out fast enough to make a difference.  So Joe Biden would take unprecedented measures to get it done  Where the government is guaranteeing loans, banks have no commercial excuse for not making them. So he would call in bank CEOs and tell them that in this time of crisis, it is a matter of the utmost national interest to get these loans out the door quickly and efficiently. And if they don’t, he would seek authority similar to the Defense Production Act to make sure their lending platforms are giving priority to small business. He would also make clear that $377 billion is not a cap — we will spend whatever it takes. 
  • Enforce real conditions and oversight on big corporations.  Joe Biden would tell large companies seeking taxpayer assistance that they need to make hard commitments that the assistance will go toward their workers, not toward enriching their CEOs or shareholders. He would hold the strictest line on bans on buybacks and raises for executives. He would impose the highest scrutiny on payroll plans. And he would impose strict oversight and enforcement of these conditions by appointing strong regulators focused on corporate accountability and worker protections in the event of bankruptcy. Joe Biden will not let companies off the hook, the way the White House and Senate originally proposed.

THIRD, bring the leaders of Congress together to build the next deal. This was a good start. But more must be done. Congress approved direct cash relief — $1,200 per person to help working families through this crisis.  But it’s a one-off.  And Congress didn’t include direct student loan forgiveness, or Social Security boosts for seniors, or cost-free treatment for COVID-19, full paid sick leave for our workers, or sufficient fiscal relief to states.  Joe Biden would:

  • Provide for additional checks to families should conditions require.
  • Forgive a minimum of $10,000 per person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis. It shouldn’t happen again.
  • Increase monthly Social Security checks by $200/month, as proposed by Senator Wyden and colleagues. Seniors and people with disabilities are uniquely at risk right now.
  • Provide emergency paid sick leave to everyone who needs it, with no one left out. This should include workers in all industries and all sectors, regardless of company size, and including gig workers, domestic workers, contractors, and the self-employed.
  • Ensure that no one has to pay a dollar out of pocket for COVID-19 testing, treatment, or an eventual vaccine.
  • Provide all necessary fiscal relief to states so their workers and communities get the help they need, especially those on the front lines like New York.

The bottom line is that Congress will have to keep acting. This is not the last bill.  There will be more. And Joe Biden would do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, move heaven and earth to help all the people harmed by this crisis.

Joe Biden: 5 Questions for Donald Trump at Coronavirus Pandemic Briefing

Vice President Joe Biden offers stark difference to Donald Trump in focus and approach to addressing coronavirus pandemic poses five questions to Trump that should be asked at the daily briefing (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The coronavirus pandemic has completely derailed the 2020 presidential campaigns. While Trump has a bully pulpit and turns daily briefings into political rallies, challengers including Vice President Joe Biden cannot compete for visibility or reach. We will do our part, as much as possible, to broadcast their messages so that voters may discern for themselves who should be elected to lead this country. This is from the Joe Biden campaign, which came before Trump, switching focus from the 10 minutes he spent concerned about the spread of the disease and having an adequate health care system, turned again to prioritize the economy, saying he would look to end measures in a matter of weeks (not months) designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to goose the economy. Trump said that the economic impact could become worse than COVID-19 itself. “We cannot let cure be worse than the problem,” causing the medical community to scratch heads.  The desire to prioritize economic health over people is echoed by other Republicans and rightwingers. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said lots of grandparents would be willing to die in order to save the economy for their grandchildren. This is from the Biden campaign, in advance of Trump’s March 23 briefing–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features.

Five Questions for Donald Trump at Today’s Briefing

As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Five Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference

1.  Why do you continue to support efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick tens of millions of Americans off their insurance in the middle of a global pandemic?
 
Ten years ago today, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But, even in the midst of a global pandemic, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 
Over 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter today to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 
 
2.  Why did you put the profits of big corporations ahead of desperately needed medical supplies for health care workers, first responders, and coronavirus victims?
 
New reporting today from CNN shows that Trump abruptly reversed himself on using the Defense Production Act to speed up the manufacture of critical medical equipment because big businesses aggressively lobbied the White House out of fear of “profit loss.”
 
Trump is continuing to put the bottom lines of his corporate cronies ahead of the safety of first responders and coronavirus victims — even as a bipartisan group of governors and mayors has demanded that he finally use the DPA to help secure life-saving gear.
 
 
3.  Why did you ignore the repeated warnings of your own intelligence officials in January and February about the impending risk of the coronavirus and decide to downplay the threat instead of preparing a response?
 
The Washington Post reported that Trump ignored repeated warnings from top intelligence officials in January and February that the coronavirus was spreading globally and that it posed a dire threat to the safety of the United States, with one official telling the Post that “the system was blinking red.”
 
Instead of preparing for the imminent spread of coronavirus in America, Trump repeatedly ignored experts and downplayed its significance, claiming, “it’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” The result: a “chaotic” response as basic needs for tests and life-saving equipment go unmet, and as Administration officials scramble to cover up for Trump’s lies about the response.
 
While Trump was ignoring the experts and downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, Vice President Biden laid out a clear-eyed vision in January for how we could come together as a country to stop the emerging pandemic and has built on that with a comprehensive plan to combat the coronavirus.
 
 
4.  Why did you take China’s word and praise Xi’s response for weeks as the coronavirus continued to spread, ignoring Vice President Biden’s warning about their misleading statements?
 
Trump wasted critical weeks praising President Xi and China’s response to the coronavirus epidemic — even as Trump’s own intelligence officials warned that the Chinese were providing faulty information. Vice President Biden, on the other hand, clearly warned Trump against trusting information from Xi at face value, insisting instead that America push to get experts on the ground in China.
 
Now Trump has laughably pivoted to criticizing China, attempting to rewrite history and brush aside countless examples of him heaping praise on Xi and the Chinese government. Moreover, is Trump saying that he wasn’t supposed to take steps to protect the American people simply because this virus emerged in another country?
 
 
5.  Why are you supporting a $500 billion slush fund for corporations with no strings attached and no protections for workers?
 
With America’s economy teetering, and with countless families facing financial ruin, Trump continues to back a massive corporate bailout package with almost no conditions, and no restraints on corporations using taxpayer dollars for executive bonuses and stock buybacks.
 
That’s why Vice President Biden has called for workers and families to be put first in any stimulus package — with no blank checks for big corporations — so Americans will have the financial support they need to weather this storm.

On 10th Anniversary of Obamacare, Biden tells Trump, AGs ‘Drop the Lawsuit’ to Strip Millions of Health Insurance, Gut Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions

2017 rally to save Obamacare, Long Island. On the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, Vice President Joe Biden, candidate for President, sent a letter to President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves calling on them the drop the lawsuit against the landmark legislation, which would strip millions of their health insurance and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions—during a global pandemic. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, on the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, Vice President Joe Biden sent a letter to President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves calling on them the drop the lawsuit against the landmark legislation, which would strip millions of their health insurance and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions—during a global pandemic.  Below is the text of Vice President Biden’s letter:

March 23, 2020

Dear President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Governor Reeves,

All across this nation, Americans are anxious and afraid about the impact the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is already having on their lives, their families, and their ability to pay their bills. Individuals and families are stepping up to do their part––staying home, taking individual precautions and implementing social distancing, and making donations to support food banks and other vital service providers, all to protect those most at-risk from the virus in our communities. Their level of dedication should be matched by their elected leaders.

At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions. No American should have the added worry right now that you are in court trying to take away their health care. You are ​letting partisan rancor and politics threaten the lives of your constituents, and that is a dereliction of your sworn duty​. I am therefore calling on each of you to drop your support of litigation to repeal the ACA.

This Monday, March 23, marks 10 years since President Obama signed into law the ACA. It was—and still is—a big deal for our country, because having health insurance isn’t just about being able to access health care when you need it, it’s about the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if your kid gets sick, you will be able to get them the care they need, or that if you have an accident, you won’t have to also worry about how to pay your medical bills. During a public health crisis, it’s part of the assurance that you can seek the treatment you and your loved ones need. I was proud to stand with President Obama every day of our Administration, but no day more so than when he signed the ACA, because of the real security it delivered for every day American families.

Since 2010, 20 million Americans have gained access to health insurance coverage. But the ACA also helps tens of millions more Americans across the country. It is the reason 100 million people with pre-existing conditions—including conditions like asthma and diabetes that make them at higher-risk for adverse health impacts from the—don’t have to worry about being charged more or denied coverage. It is the reason insurance companies can’t tell patients that they’ve hit an annual or lifetime cap on care.

The litigation you are supporting—Texas v. U.S.—jeopardizes every single one of those protections and threatens the peace of mind and access to care for hundreds of millions of Americans. There is no underlying constitutional flaw with the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the Supreme Court twice upheld the constitutionality of the law. The only reason this new case gained traction was because Congressional Republicans decided to amend the law and zero-out the penalty for not being insured, and legal experts from across the ideological spectrum have concluded that this new argument—that this change invalidates the entire law—is legally unsupportable.

The purpose of your suit is to destroy the ACA. Make no mistake: If the ACA did not exist right now, in this public health crisis, tens of millions of people would not have health insurance. 100 million would not have protections for the kind of underlying conditions that make them even more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. Insurance companies would be allowed to place caps on care provided to individuals. And if you succeed in killing it next year, you’ll put countless Americans at risk in the next pandemic.

If there was ever a moment to set aside politics, it is now. I have called for making all testing, treatment, and any eventual vaccine free of charge, regardless of whether an individual is insured. That is what is needed to defeat this virus. The last thing we need right now is people avoiding seeking care because they can’t afford it. But people will still have medical needs not directly related to COVID-19, which is why every American needs access to high-quality, affordable health insurance and the pre-existing condition protections that the law guarantees.

You have in your power the ability to make life safer, healthier, and a little bit easier for your constituents. All you have to do is drop your support for this ill-conceived lawsuit, which is even more dangerous and cruel in this moment of national crisis. History will judge all of us by how we respond to this pandemic. The public health imperative we now face is bigger than politics, and it requires all of us to summon the courage to lead and to do what is right for the American people.

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
47th Vice President of the United States

Biden, in Harsh Critique of Trump Administration, Offers Own Plan for Combating Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden offers his own plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic: “We need immediate action –on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

It is stunning that Grim Reaper McConnell, who held up the first House coronavirus stimulus bill for days, is now attacking Senate Democrats for refusing to rubberstamp a $2 trillion giveaway to corporate insiders and CEOs, raising the alarm (get this) that waiting until noon would mean a whole morning of Wall Street sinking further. A morning in exchange for the health and well being of Americans and the economy. The idea that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who made a bundle on the misery of the 2008 Bush Great Recession using just these same tactics, will personally decide what companies get bailed out is absurd – and a clear clue is that they want to keep secret who they are handing money to for 6 months.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Democrats have a better plan for immediate relief to Americans who will be most harmed financially now and perhaps for the rest of their lives: erase student debt, use the mechanisms you already have: expand unemployment insurance, disability, social security. Instead of simply incentivizing companies to not do anything and still collect up to $10 million in loans that would be forgiven (Mnuchin will choose who gets what), purchase goods and services needed now; evoke the war powers to require factories to reconfigure to produce vitally needed medical equipment and put in purchase orders for future production, say electric cars, long-life batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and especially medical supplies which will give the companies the needed cash flow to get through. Then test everyone to determine who is already immune and can return to work, rather than lock people in for six months, nine months, until the hypothetical “herd immunization” number is reached.  

At this point, projections call for 40 to 80 percent of people to become infected, and deaths from one million to two million. Trump and his Keystone Cops administration of corrupt, inept thugs have no clue how to keep the numbers down to a minimum, and keep people and the economy healthy. Vice President Joe Biden, running for president, offered his own criticism and plan in a speech – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Good morning. 
 
I hope you and your family are doing well in these difficult, anxious, and confusing times. 
 
Like all families, the Biden family is adjusting to new ways: less time together, more worrying about friends and relatives, concern about those isolated – or suffering – due to the coronavirus. 
 
As Americans, we may be physically apart, but we are truly all in this together.
 
And let me say something right up front: When we have stood as one, this nation has never been defeated. And we are not going to be defeated now.
 
The pandemic of 1918. The Great Depression. Two World Wars. 9/11.
 
We overcame them all.
 
And out of each crisis – we emerged stronger.
 
And we will again.
 
This new enemy may be unseen – but we have the tools, the expertise, and, most important, the will and the spirit to defeat it.
 
But we need to move – and we need to move fast.
 
It matters for the public health. And it matters for our economy.
 
Later today, you will hear from the President in his daily briefing.
 
These briefings are an important opportunity to inform and reassure the American people
 
They’re not a place for political attacks. Or to lash out at the press.
 
They’re about the American people.
 
So I hope today and in the days ahead, the president will give us the unvarnished truth. That’s what the American people need and deserve.
 
I hope he lets medical experts and FEMA leaders and others carrying out the work take center stage so we can hear directly from them.
 
And I hope we hear less talk and see more evidence of fast action.
 
My principal focus today – and every day – will be on what we should do to get this response fixed, to save lives, and to provide economic assistance to the tens of millions of Americans who need it now – and who will need it in the weeks and months ahead.
 
It starts with adopting a mindset of real urgency.
 
For too long, the warning signs were ignored.
 
For too long the Administration said the threat was “under control,” “contained,” like a “flu.” The president says no one saw this coming. That’s just not true.
 
Our own intelligence officials were warning of the coronavirus threat in January.
 
Just based on public information, I warned that this threat would get worse way back on January 27, and urged the need to put science first, draw on emergency funds to get the response started, and think about invoking disaster powers to respond.
 
Many of us talked about the need to get U.S. scientists on the ground in China to see first-hand what was happening, rather than relying solely on China.
 
My point is not simply that the president was wrong.
 
My point is that the mindset that was slow to recognize the problem and treat it with the seriousness it deserves, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem.
 
South Korea detected their first case of coronavirus on the same day that we did. 
 
But they had tests and a sophisticated tracing program to stop the spread of the virus,
so they didn’t have to put the country on lockdown. 
 
We had none of that. 
 
So we are left with only the extreme social distancing measures currently in place. 
 
That’s a failure of planning and preparation by this White House.
 
Today, months later, Americans who need to be tested still have no access to tests
in many parts of the country. And in many places, our health care system teeters on the brink of collapse. 
 
Hospital beds are filling. Doctors and nurses are already running out of critical equipment.
 
The federal government needs to coordinate getting medical supplies out to every corner of our country so we don’t have governors competing against one another.  
 
As late as yesterday, we are being told that the president still has not activated his authority under the Defense Production Act to direct American manufacturers to make essential supplies.
 
Trump keeps saying he’s a wartime president— well, then, he should act like one.
 
To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McLellan during the Civil War: “If you don’t want to use the army, may I borrow it?”
 
We need to get in motion today what should have been set in motion weeks ago.
 
Any public health expert will tell you that in a crisis like this you can’t move too fast – you can only move too slow.
 
Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus. But he does bear responsibility for our response.
 
And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right.
 
This isn’t about politics.
 
There is simply too much at stake – too many lives, too many livelihoods, too many homes and families and businesses and communities at risk.
 
I’ve laid out a very detailed, in-depth plan for what we should do. You can read it all on JoeBiden.com
 
We need immediate action –on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere.  
 
But today, I want to focus on just four key areas for action.
 
First, the President must take immediate steps to increase the capacity of our health care system to treat the sickest coronavirus patients, safely. 
 
I’m glad the president has finally activated the National Guard.

Now we need the Armed Forces and the National Guard to help with hospital capacity, supplies, and logistics. 

We need to activate a reserve corps of doctors and nurses to beef up the number of responders dealing with this crush of cases, and allow doctors and nurses trained abroad, not currently at work in the U.S., to temporarily work alongside our overburdened health care providers.
 
Second, the President must use the Defense Production Act to radically increase the supply of critical goods needed to treat patients and protect our health care workers and first responders, including protective gear like face masks, and critical equipment like ventilators so desperately needed in our hospitals. 
  
It means working with our allies and partners to get supplies from overseas when available, and dispatching U.S. military assets to retrieve them quickly. 
 
It means federal coordination of the supply chain to accelerate deliveries and get them to the right places. And much more.
 
We are the nation that built the arsenal of democracy in the 1940s. We can make personal protective equipment for health care workers in 2020.
 
Third, the President needs to end the infighting and bickering in his own administration, listen to the scientists, and provide clear guidance. 
 
The American people are not getting clear leadership, clear action, or clear accountability.
 
Management matters in a crisis. I’ve been there in the Situation Room. There are thousands of steps that need to be taken, all at once. 
 
You need to be planning not just for today and tomorrow, but for the day after.  
 
Is this White House actively planning for what it will take for America to begin to return to something resembling normal life?  
 
Just waiting and seeing isn’t going to cut it.
 
What are the conditions required? What capacities should be in place? What protections and protocols do we need to ensure the virus doesn’t simply start spreading again?  
 
They need to start planning now, so the current measures stay in place for as long as they are needed, but not longer.  
 

And fourth, the President needs to set the right priorities for our economic response. 
 
Our guiding principle must be to keep everyone paid through this crisis.
 
We should be doing everything in our power to keep workers on payrolls, make small businesses healthy, and help the economy come out the other side strong.

The Federal Government should provide the resources to make that happen, while still protecting the American taxpayer.
 
Unfortunately, as of last night, President Trump and Mitch McConnell were offering a plan that let big corporations off the hook. They proposed a $500 billion slush fund for corporations, with almost no conditions.

Under their plan, the Trump Administration could even allow companies to use taxpayers’ money for stock buybacks and executive pay packages.
 
They wouldn’t have to make commitments to keep workers employed.
 
They wouldn’t even have to tell Americans where the money goes for months. 
 
Today, there are active efforts to fix this bill so it focuses on workers and families and small businesses rather than no-strings corporate bailouts.
 
Here’s my bottom line: Millions of small businesses, like the family-run restaurant that is trying to stay open and pay its workers – they should get the funds they need.
 
Big companies will need help, too — but no blank checks.

 
If corporations take money from taxpayers, they have to make a commitment that they will keep workers on payroll.
 
The worker who is seeing their wages slashed — they need to be made whole. 
 
Those who do lose jobs – they need strong, sustained, unemployment benefits, whether they are a gig worker or a full-time employee. 
 
The family that will go hungry tonight – they need food on the table. 
 
Social Security checks need to be boosted.
 
Student debt should be forgiven. 
 

Cash relief needs to go out fast to all of the people who need it the most. 
 
We can act quickly and together. 
 
We can put the politics aside to meet this moment, like Governors all across the nation.
 
Mike Dewine in Ohio, Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts.
 
Gavin Newsom in California, Jay Inslee in Washington, Gretchen Witmer in Michigan.
 
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s briefings are a lesson in leadership.
 
Republicans and Democrats — all are rising to the moment, putting aside politics to do what needs to be done. 
 
But they all are looking to the federal government for more help.
 
Finally, it’s worth noting that today is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. I’m proud of the role I played, alongside President Obama, in bringing Obamacare into law. And I’m proud of its record of achievement. 
 
But also today, in the middle of one of the biggest public health emergencies in generations, the White House and Republican attorneys general are actively pursuing a lawsuit to invalidate the ACA in court. 
 
They are working to strip millions of Americans of their health care and tens of millions of their protections for pre-existing conditions.  

 
I sent them a letter this morning, with a simple request: Withdraw this lawsuit. End this effort to take away people’s health care. 

This is not the moment to add additional uncertainty and fear in this nation or to let politics trump doing what is right. Give Americans peace of mind.
 
In a crisis, character is revealed — and each day we are seeing the courage and heart of Americans shine through.  
 
Our military, our first responders, our doctors, nurses and health care workers, of course. 
 
But also those who we don’t think about as much: the grocery store workers; the mail and package carriers; the workers manufacturing the gear we need, keeping delivery trucks on the road, cooking meals to deliver, and tending our elderly loved ones; the journalists who keep us up to date and hold leaders accountable; the government officials working on this problem, and so many more.
 
They are putting it all on the line for us. We need to give them all the help they need now. And we need to be sure we never forget what they’ve done.
 
Let me close with this thought: Deep in the heart of every American, there burns a flame. It’s an inheritance from every generation of Americans that has come before us. It’s why we have overcome every crisis we have ever faced before. It’s what makes this nation special and why we stand apart.
 
That flame is not going to be extinguished in this moment.
 
If our leadership does its part, the American people will do their part.
 
Because here’s the simple truth: The American people have never, ever let this country down.
 
So, we need to get moving, and moving fast. 

This is the United States of America, and there’s not a single thing we can’t do — if we do it together. Thank you.

NYS Governor Cuomo: ‘We’re working on every level. Every pistol is firing. Everything that can be done is being done.’

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island to urge CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo: “My last point is practice humanity. We don’t talk about practicing humanity, but now if ever there is a time to practice humanity the time is now. The time is now to show some kindness, to show some compassion to people, show some gentility – even as a New Yorker.”

Trump has played a pathetic game of catch-up to the actual task of getting Americans through the coronavirus pandemic as best as possible, with as few deaths and as little destruction to the economy and society as possible. While he has proved a mendacious inept clog, true leadership has been demonstrated by Governors, especially New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His press availability today, in which he gave updates on his nonstop effort to increase hospital capacity and obtain necessary protective equipment and medical supplies in anticipation of a surge of patients, was heartening to New Yorkers. It was a speech that hearkened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was Governor of New York before he was President, leading the nation through the Great Depression and later through World War II.  This is a rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks:

Good morning. Happy Saturday. Welcome to the weekend. I want to give you an update and briefing on where we are today and then we’re going to go out and do some real work, get out of this building before we get cabin fever. You know the people who are here today. From my far right, Simonida Subotic who is in charge of managing supplies which is a major function for us, Robert Mujica, Director of Division of the Budget, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, the great James Malatras who has been a tremendous help here.

Go through the facts, the numbers are still increasing. We have been seeing that. That’s the line that we’re tracking. This is all about the increase in the number of cases and managing the increase in the number of cases to the capacity of our health care system. What are we doing? We’re reducing the spread and the rate of the spread to match the increase in the number of cases and increasing hospital capacity at the same time – just how do our hospitals manage the rate of the spread.

We’re trying to reduce the spread to over a period of months. Over a period of months our healthcare system can deal with the numbers. We have moved to zero non-essential workers. You can’t go below zero so we’re doing everything we can there and we put out new rules on personal conduct and what people should be doing and how they should be behaving and where they should be.

Matilda’s Law which is for the vulnerable population, senior citizens, people with compromised immune systems, underlying illnesses – that was very specific. As I mentioned we named it for my mother Matilda because I went through this with my own siblings. How do we help mom? Where do we bring mom? There was a difference of opinion. The best health professionals put together guidelines that not only help senior citizens but also their families who are trying to deal with this. I know it was helpful to my family and the question among siblings these laws and guidelines answered. I don’t want to mention which sibling but it turns out that he was wrong.

The personal conduct rules and regulations are also very helpful. I want to thank Dr. Fauci who is really an extraordinary American and has given me great guidance and help and assistance in putting together these policies so I’d like to thank him and we’re doing those.

We’re working on every level. Every pistol is firing. Everything that can be done is being done. New Yorkers are lucky. We have a very experienced team that’s doing this. This is not their first rodeo. They’ve been through a number of emergencies on a number of levels.

Increasing hospital capacity – we want to get the capacity of 50,000 thousand up to a minimum of 75,000. We told the hospitals we’re going to be ending elective surgeries. We are now working with hospitals to reconfigure the space in the hospital to get more beds and to find more staff to manage those beds. We’re working on building new beds. We’re going to go out and review a number of sites today. I’d like to give the final list to the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers today but we’re looking at Javits, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, the Westchester Convention Center, and I’m going to go out and take a look at those sites today or the ones I can get to. That would give us a regional distribution and a real capacity if we can get them up quickly enough and then increasing supplies which is one of the most critical activities.

We are literally scouting the globe looking for medical supplies. We’ve identified 2 million N-95 masks which are the high protection masks. We have apparel companies that are converting to mask manufacturing companies in the State of New York in all sorts of creative configurations and I want to thank them. I put out a plea yesterday to ask them for help and we’ve been on the phone with all sorts of companies who are really doing great work. We’re also exploring the State of New York manufacturing masks ourselves.

We’re going to send 1 million N95 masks to New York City today. That’s been a priority for New York City and 1 million masks won’t get us through the crisis but it’ll make a significant contribution to New York City’s mask issue and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for working in partnership. We’re sending 500,000 N95 masks to Long Island. We’ve been working with County Executive Laura Curran and County Executive Steve Bellone and I want to thank them.

We’re gathering ventilators. Ventilators are the most important piece of equipment and the piece of equipment that is most scarce. We’re gathering them from all different health facilities across the state and then we’re going to use those in the most critical areas. We also identified 6,000 new ventilators that we can actually purchase so that’s a big deal.

From the federal government’s point of view I’ve spoken to the President a number of times. I spoke to the Vice President a number of times. They’ve issued a federal disaster declaration which is a technical act by the federal government but what it basically does is it allows the federal emergency management agency called FEMA to step in and assist financially. By that declaration FEMA would pay 75 percent of the cost of a disaster. New York State would pay 25 percent of the cost. The federal government can waive the 25 percent of the cost. I’m asking them to waive that 25 percent in this situation. I’ve worked on many disasters, FEMA has waived the 25 percent. If there’s any situation where FEMA should waive the 25 percent, this is the situation.

We’re also working with the federal government. We’re requesting 4 field hospitals at 250 capacity each. That would give us 1000 field hospital beds. We’re going to be looking at Javits as a location for those field hospitals. We’re also requesting 4 Army Corps of Engineers temporary hospitals. Those are the sites I mentioned earlier that I’m going to take a look at. The SUNY Stonybrook, Westbury, Westchester Convention Center and also Javits. Javits is so big that it can take the 4 field hospitals and an Army Corps of Engineers temporary hospital. We’re also requesting assistance with medical supplies which has been a very big topic of conversation all across the country. 

We’re also asking our federal congressional delegation to fix a law that was passed on the coronavirus federal aid because of a technical issue the way the bill was written, New York State does not qualify for aid. That’s over $6 billion, that is a lot of money and we need the federal delegation to fix that bill otherwise New York State gets nothing. New York State has more coronavirus cases than any state in the United States of America. That we should not be included in the bill, obviously makes no sense. 

We’re also going to conduct immediately trials for the new drug therapy which we have been discussing. I spoke to Dr. Zucker about it. There is a theory that the drug treatment could be helpful. We have people who are in serious condition and Dr. Zucker feels comfortable, as well as a number of other health professionals, that in a situation where a person is in dire circumstance, try what you can. The FDA is going to accelerate to New York 10,000 doses. As soon as we get those doses we will work with doctors, nurses and families on using those drugs and seeing where we get. 

I spoke to the President, he spoke to this drug therapy in his press conference yesterday and I spoke to him afterward. I said that New York would be interested and we have the most number of cases and health professionals have all recommended to me that we try it, so we’ll try it.  We’re also working on a number of other drug therapies, an anti-body therapy, a possible vaccine. We have a company here in New York called Regeneron that’s really showing some promising results. I exempted them from the no work order, because they couldn’t possibly have a really significant achievement for us. The new numbers, the more tests you take, the more positives you find, and I give this caution because I think people misinterpret the number of new cases. They take that number of new cases as if it is reflective of the number of new cases, the spread. It is not. The number of new cases is only reflective of the number of cases you are taking, right. Where our goal is to find the positive cases, because if we find a positive case we can isolate that person, and that stops the spread. So we’re actually looking for positives. The more tests you take, the more positives you will find.

We are taking more tests in New York than anyplace else. We’re taking more tests per capita than China or South Korea. We’re also taking more tests than any state in the United States of America. That is actually a great accomplishment. Because if you remember back, two weeks, which seems like a lifetime now, the whole question was coming up to scale on tests. How do we get the number of tests up and how do we get it up quickly? I spoke to the president and the vice president and said decentralize the testing, let the states do it. I have 200 labs. I can mobilize quickly. Let us do the tests. They agreed. We’re doing more tests than any state, so for example, we’ve done 45,000 tests. California has done 23,000, Washington has done 23,000, so you see how many more tests we are doing. And again, I credit the team that’s working here, because this is exactly what the mandate was. Perform as many tests as quickly as you can, and that’s the drive-thrus we’ve put in place, the hospital management, et cetera. So our numbers should be higher. And they are.

Total number of positive cases now is up to 10,000, number of new cases has increased by 3,000, let’s go back in case you can’t read as fast as I can read. 6,000 New York City, 1,300 Westchester, 1,200 in Nassau. You see the Westchester number is slowing. We did a New Rochelle containment area. The numbers would suggest that that has been helpful. So I feel good about that. You see Nassau increasing, you see Suffolk increasing. So that’s just the wide spread increase that we have been anticipating. But our hotspot of Westchester is now slowing, and that’s very good news. New York City, it is the most dense environment. This virus spreads in density, right. And that’s what you’re seeing in New York City, obviously, has many more people than any other specific location in the state. Number of counties are increasing. You see the blue. I said to you early on that blue is going to take over the whole state, just the way every state in the United States has now been covered. Most impacted states, you look at the cases in New York is 10,000, Washington, California, 1,000 each. Does that mean that we have ten times the number of cases as California or Washington? Or does that mean we’re doing more tests than California or Washington? The truth is somewhere in the middle, and nobody can tell you. Total number of people tested, we’re up to 45,000. Number of new tests. This is a rate that we watch. What is the rate of hospitalization? Again, because this is all about hospital capacity, right, 1,500 out of 10,000, it’s roughly 15 percent of the cases. It’s been running about 14, 15. It’s gone as high as 20 percent, 21 percent. So actually 15 percent rate of hospitalization is not a bad number. It’s actually down from where it was. The more refined number is, of those who are hospitalized, how many require the ventilators, because the ventilators are the piece of equipment that is most scarce. That’s the next refinement of these numbers that we have to do.

And again, the context on the numbers is important. We’re talking 10,000 et cetera. You look at any world health organization or the NIH, or what any of the other countries are saying. You have to expect that at the end of the day, 40 percent to 80 percent of the population is going to be infected. So the only question is, how fast is the rate to that 40 percent, 80 percent, and can you slow that rate so your hospital system can deal with it. That is all we’re talking about here. If you look at the 40 to 80 percent, that means between 7.8 million and 15 million New Yorkers will be affected at the end of the day. We’re just trying to postpone the end of the day. Again, perspective, Johns Hopkins, this is not a science fiction movie. You don’t have to wait to the end of the movie to find out what happens. Johns Hopkins has studied every case since it started, 284,000, 11,000 deaths, almost 90,000 recoveries, 183,000 still pending. Which tracks everything we know in the State of New York. Our first case, first case, healthcare worker, 39-year-old female who was in Iran. She went home, she never went to a hospital, she recovered, she’s now negative. You get sick, you get symptoms, you recover. That is true for the overwhelming number of people. Again, context, people who died in the flu, from the flu, in 2018-2019: 34,000 Americans. 34,000, so when you hear these numbers of deaths, keep it in perspective. 34,000 people died of the flu. Over 65, 74 percent of the people were over 65. 25 percent were under 65. So, if you have an underlying illness, you catch the flu, you can die. More likely if you have an underlying illness, senior citizens, et cetera, but not necessarily. You have 25 percent under 65 years old die from the flu.

Also, in terms of context, perspective. Don’t listen to rumors. I mean, you have such wild rumors out there, and people call me with the craziest theories. Just, I understand there’s anxiety and stress, but let’s remember some basic context and facts. Society functions. Everything works. There’s going to be food in the grocery stores. There’s no reason to buy a hundred rolls of toilet paper. There really isn’t. And by the way, where do you even put a hundred rolls of toilet paper? The transportation system functions. The pharmacy system functions. These things are all going to work. Nonessential workers, stay home, but the essential workers are staying home, especially the healthcare workers. There is not going to be any roadblock when you wake up in the morning that says you can’t leave this place, you can’t leave that place, right? So if you have a real question, because you think there’s a real concern from a credible source, contact my team. We have a special website: coronavirus.health.ny.gov, and ask the question and you will get a real, truthful, factual response.

I have not hidden anything from the people of this state. I have not tilted facts. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American people deserve the truth, they can handle the truth, give them the truth. When they don’t get the truth and if you don’t get the facts, that’s when people should get anxious. If I think I’m being deceived or there’s something you’re not telling me, or you’re shading the truth, now I’m anxious. Everything I know, I’ve told you, and I will continue to tell you, and these are facts, and you hear a rumor, and you want to check it out, go to that website, these are people who work for me directly, and you will have the truth. We do have an issue with younger people who are not complying, and I’ve mentioned it before but it’s not getting better. You know, you can have your own opinion. You cannot have your own facts – you want to have an opinion, have an opinion, but you can’t have your own facts. “Well young people don’t get this disease.” You are wrong – that is not a fact. 18-49 years old are 54 percent of the cases in New York State. 54 percent. 18-49 years old. So you’re not Superman, and you’re not Superwoman, you can get this virus and you can transfer the virus and you can wind up hurting someone who you love or hurting someone wholly inadvertently. Social distancing works and you need social distancing everywhere. There’s a significant amount of non-compliance, especially in New York City, especially in the parks – I’m going to go down there today, I want to see what situation is myself, but it has to be stopped because you are endangering people and if it’s because of misinformation, if it’s because of noncompliance, I don’t care frankly – this is a public health issue and you cannot endanger other people’s health. You shouldn’t be endangering your own. But you certainly have no right to endanger someone else’s.

This is my personal opinion, this is not a fact, you know to me it’s very important in a situation like this, tell me the facts and then tell me your opinion – this is my opinion. We talk about social responsibility, especially young people talk about social responsibility and they should – we pass a lot of legislation in this building, groundbreaking legislation, national firsts, on economic rights, highest minimum wage in the United States of America, human rights, first state to pass marriage equality, which I believe was a human rights issue, we talk about environmental responsibility and this state has the most aggressive environmental laws in the United States of America and I am proud of it, but I also want people to think about the social responsibility when it comes to public health. We haven’t talked about it before, not really a field, it’s not really an issue, it’s not really a hashtag, but social responsibility applies to public health just as it applies to human rights, and economic rights and environmental rights – public health, especially in a moment like this, is probably most critical.

So let’s think about that and let’s act on that. In this crisis, think of yourselves, we are all first responders – your actions can either save or endanger a life, so we are all first responders. What’s going to happen? We’re going to get through this. We don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get through this. Fact is we’re trying to slow the spread of the virus to a number of months so the healthcare system can deal with it, so therefore by definition it’s going to be a number of months. I know people want to hear, “It’s only going to be a matter of weeks and then it’s going to be fine.” I don’t believe it’s going to be a matter of weeks. I believe it is going to be a matter of months, but we are going to get through it, and how long and how well it takes us to get through it is up to us. It depends on what we do – you know when you’re sick and you say to the doctor, “Well how long until I get better?” And the doctor says, “It depends on what you do. If you follow the advice, you’ll get healthy faster, but it depends on what you do.” This depends on what we do. China is now reporting no news cases. Let’s assume that’s true – look at that trajectory, look at that turnaround, look at what they did, we do have data we can follow. So how long is it going to take? It depends on how smart and how we responsible are and how diligent we are. You tell me the percentage of compliance and intelligence and discipline on social disciplining et cetera? I’ll tell you how long it takes for us to get through it.

Also something that people aren’t really talking about but I think we should start talking about – we talk about the economic consequences of this situation and they are going to be significant, and we are going to have to deal with it and New York will be right on top of it and as aggressive as we are with everything else. But economic consequences come second – first, is dealing with this crisis. We talk about the economic consequences but we also need to talk about the social consequences. There is no Dow Jones index that we can watch on the screen that is measuring the social consequences and the social decline. But the stress, the anxiety, the emotions that are provoked by this crisis are truly significant, and people are struggling with the emotions as much as they are struggling with the economics. And this state wants to start to address that. I’m asking psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists who are willing to volunteer their time to contact the state and if this works out I would like to set up a voluntary network where people can go for mental health assistance where they can contact a professional to talk through how they are feeling about this. They are nervous, they are anxious, they are isolated. It can bring all sorts of emotions and feelings to the surface. When you are isolated you do not have people to talk to.

So I am asking the professional mental health establishment to contact us. Let us know that you are willing to volunteer time. It would obviously be all electronic. It would not be in person. It would be telephone, it would be Skype, etc. But I would ask you to seriously consider this. Many people are doing extraordinary things during this public health crisis. I ask the mental health community, many of them are looking for a way to participate, this is a way to participate. And if we get enough mental health professionals willing to volunteer their time, we will set up a mental health electronic help center. And we will talk more about that the next few days.

What happens besides how long? What happens? The bigger question to me is what do we learn about ourselves through this? As a society, we have never gone through this. We have never gone through a world war. We have not gone through any great social crisis. Here in New York, we went through 9/11 which I think is relevant in terms of some feelings that people are now experiencing. 9/11 transformed society. I was there. I was part of it. You were never the same after 9/11. You had a sense of vulnerability that you never had before which I feel to this day. There was a trauma to 9/11. But as a society, as a country, we have been blessed in that we have not gone through something as disruptive as this.

So what do we learn about ourselves? I think what we are saying already is a crisis really brings out the truth about ourselves first of all and about others. And your see people’s strengths and you see people’s weaknesses. You see society’s strengths and you see society’s weaknesses. You see both the beauty and the vulnerability. You see the best in people and you see the worst in people. You see people rise to the occasion and you see people fall from the burden of the emotion. So, I think – You take a step back.

NYS Governor Announces Efforts to Dramatically Increase Hospital Capacity, Medical Supplies to Address Anticipated Surge in Covid-19 Patients

Governor Andrew Cuomo, with Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling. The Governor announced new efforts to expand hospital capacity and increase the state’s supply of personal protective equipment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Will Visit Sites – Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury & Westchester Convention Center

Announces New Actions to Increase State’s Supply of Personal Protective Equipment

Issues Executive Order Temporarily Closing DMV In-Office Transactions; Online Transactions Still Available

Announces FEMA Granted New York’s Request for Major Disaster Declaration

Asks New York’s Congressional Delegation to Fix the Coronavirus Federal Aid Law that Currently Exempts New York from Receiving Aid

Department of Health Commissioner Recommends Trials for New Drug Therapy

New Yorkers Can Sign Up for Email Updates Here and Ask Questions About COVID-19 Here

New Yorkers Can Find More Information About the New COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the recommendation of the Army Corps of Engineers regarding four initial sites in New York State for locating temporary hospitals – the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center. Over the past days, an inspection team led by the Army Corps of Engineers, and including state officials from the Office of General Services, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the Department of Health and the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has visited more than a dozen sites to review for temporary hospital use. Upon the Governor’s determination, the Army Corps is expected to immediately begin work to construct the temporary hospitals. The Governor is also requesting FEMA designate four field hospitals with 250 beds each for the state, intended for use in the Javits Center in addition to the temporary hospital to be constructed by the Army Corps.

Governor Cuomo also announced that the state is taking new actions to increase the supply of personal protective equipment – or PPE. The state has identified two million N95 masks for purchase and will send one million to New York City and 500,000 to Long Island. Apparel manufacturers in the state are converting their operations to begin manufacturing masks and other medical equipment, and the state is also exploring manufacturing masks. Additionally, the state is gathering ventilators from different health facilities from across the state to be used in the most critical areas and has already purchased 6,000 additional ventilators.

The Governor also issued an executive order temporary closing the Department of Motor Vehicles for all in-office visits. Online transactions, including for license renewals, are still be available. License and permit expirations will be extended.

The Governor also announced that federal government approved New York’s request for a major disaster declaration that allows FEMA to step in financially and assist the state. Under the current declaration FEMA will pay 75 of the funding and New York is responsible for 25 percent. The Governor is urging the President and his administration to grant a 100 percent federal cost share under this declaration. The Governor urges the federal government to quickly grant the state’s pending request to support homeowners through additional individual assistance programs and statewide hazard mitigation assistance.

The Governor is also asking New York’s Congressional delegation to modify federal coronavirus legislation to ensure New York is eligible for $6 billion in aid. Due to a current technical issue in the bill, New York State is not eligible to receive aid.

Additionally, the Governor announced that State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker has recommended trials for new drug therapy to help combat COVID-19. The FDA is acquiring 10,000 doses of Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax for New York State to use on a trial basis.

New Yorkers can sign up to receive daily email updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation here and can ask questions about COVID-19 here. New Yorkers can also find more information about the new COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law here.

“Every day we see the number of cases of novel coronavirus continue to rise, and we know that by all projections we’re going to have more hospitalizations than we can deal with in our healthcare system,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have a plan of action to help stop the spread of this virus, including expanding hospital capacity and identifying new hospital beds, and after meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers and hearing their recommendations, we stand ready for the building of temporary hospitals at four facilities in New York State. This is a public health crisis, but worse than the virus is the fear, but we have a plan and we are doing everything we can to keep the people informed and save lives.”

Sanders: Coronavirus Crisis Points to Urgent Need for Fundamental Changes to Economy, Healthcare System

Senator Bernie Sanders on the coronavirus pandemic: “In this moment of crisis, more and more people understand that we need fundamental changes to our economy, and we need fundamental changes to our healthcare system.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders gave remarks regarding the lessons we can learn from the growing coronavirus outbreak.  This is a rushed transcript provided by the Sanders campaign:

Good afternoon everyone, thank you for being here. In the midst of a major healthcare and economic crisis currently facing our country, I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the lessons we can learn long-term about what we are experiencing today.  

As I discussed yesterday, our country is facing, as everybody knows, a medical and economic crisis, the likes of which we have not seen for generations. And we must prepare for this response in an unprecedented way, making certain that our government responds effectively, and protects the interests of all our people regardless of their income, or where they live. In other words, this is not just about giving tax breaks to large corporations, but about remembering the people today who don’t have much money, who are nervous about their economic futures and healthcare prospects. 

Needless to say we must massively increase the availability of test kits for the coronavirus and the speed at which the tests are processed. We need to anticipate significant increases in hospital admissions, which means that we will need more ICU units and ventilators, we will need more doctors, nurses, and medical personnel of all kinds – and we must make sure that these frontline personnel are well protected from the diseases they are treating. I have talked to nurses recently who worry very much about whether they are getting the kind of knowledge and equipment they need so that they do not get sick. 

We need to significantly improve our communications and collaboration with other countries to ensure that we are learning everything that we can about the successes and failures of other countries as they deal with this crisis. And furthermore, we must be honest with the American people and communicate as effectively and directly as we can with all of the scientific information that we can provide. 

Further, and most importantly, our response to this entire crisis must be guided by the decisions of doctors, scientists, and researchers, not politicians.  

But as we struggle with this crisis, it is also important that we learn the lessons of how we got to where we are today, and what we must do in the future so that we are better prepared for similar crises that may come.  

Poll after poll already shows us that the American people understand that we must do what every other major country on earth does, and that is to guarantee healthcare to all of our people as a human right, not a privilege. As we begin to see the failures and vulnerabilities of the current healthcare system, my guess is that those numbers and the demand for universal healthcare will only go up. 

The American people are asking: how is it possible that we spend twice as much per capita as the people of Canada and other major countries, while 87 million of us are uninsured or underinsured.  

And obviously, in this crisis, and unbelievably, it means that people who are sick today, people who woke up this morning with symptoms of the coronavirus, are saying, “you know I feel sick but I cannot afford  to go to a doctor.”  And when somebody is not treated for the virus – somebody who is unable to afford to go to that doctor – that means that that infection can spread to many others, putting us at risk.

So it’s not just a question that in normal times – tragically, unbelievably – that we lose 30,000 people a year because they don’t get to doctor on time, but now the lack of healthcare threatens other people as well. 

How could it be, that when we spend so much more than what other countries are spending, we have millions of people who may be dealing with the virus but they cannot go to the doctor because they can’t afford it? That is a question that must resonate in every American’s mind.   

If this isn’t a red flag for the current dysfunctional and wasteful healthcare system, frankly I don’t know what is. 

For the benefit of all of us, we must make sure that every person in this country who needs to seek medical treatment can go to a doctor free of charge regardless of their income. That is obviously what we must do now in the middle of a crisis, but it is what we must do as a nation in the near future. 

Here are just a few instances about how absurd and dysfunctional our current healthcare system is. 

It has been estimated that a full battery of tests for the coronavirus costs over $1,300.  First of all, take a look at that – $1,300 to get the test people need to have to know if they have the virus or not. 

In America today, 40% of our people don’t have $400 in the bank to pay for an emergency expense. We have half of our people living paycheck to paycheck. 

If their car breaks down they can’t afford to get it fixed, and if somebody tells them it costs $1,300 for the test to determine whether you have the coronavirus if they’re sick, what are they supposed to do? What happens to them?  

How can someone without insurance afford to pay $1,331 to get tested when they don’t even have $400 in the bank? What are they supposed to do? What happens to them?  Do they go to a payday lender where the average interest rate is over 390%? Do they borrow money from their family? Or do they go without the test? Which every doctor in the world will tell them is a test they should have.  

And while the Trump administration says it may cover co-pays to cover the cost of testing for those who have insurance, they will not cover the cost of treatment – which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.  

How cruel is that? How absurd is that? To say to people, “we’re sorry you have coronavirus, we covered the cost of the test, but now you’re on your own and it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to get treated.” That is totally absurd. 

Clearly what we need to do is to make sure that if someone has the coronavirus that person gets the treatment that they need.  

In other words, our current system leaves people uninsured, but even if you have insurance you may not even have the ability to travel to a doctor near you. 

Because now we’re talking about a system in which many rural hospitals have closed down and they cannot find a doctor in their communities. 

The reality today, and this is an issue we must to deal with, is that we don’t have enough doctors, we don’t have enough hospitals, and we don’t have enough clinics in rural communities and inner cities.   

Further, we are in a situation when we desperately need affordable prescription drugs, yet we have a pharmaceutical industry that continues to make billions in profits by charging outrageous prices for prescription drugs, sometimes 10x more in this country than in other countries.   

In my view, the most cost effective way to reform our dysfunctional and cruel system is to move to a Medicare for All, single-payer healthcare system.

And I think in the midst of this crisis, more and more Americans understand the truth of that.  

It is nearly impossible to believe that anyone can still think it’s acceptable to continue with a healthcare system that leaves tens of millions of people uninsured. The cruelty and absurdity of that view is more obvious in the midst of this crisis than it has ever been.   

And let’s be clear. Lack of healthcare and affordable medicine does not only threaten the healthcare and well-being of the uninsured. It threatens everyone who comes in contact with them.

In fact, what this crisis is beginning to teach us is that we are only as safe as the least insured person in America. 

Further, we are the only major country on earth that does not mandate paid family and medical leave. And we’re seeing how that crisis is impacting where we are today.  

As we speak, there are millions of workers — right now — who are being told to go to work, yet they may be ill and should be staying home. 

But these very same families will face financial ruin if they don’t go to work. These are workers in the restaurant industry, transportation industry, tourism, retail — in other words the people who interact with the public every single day.  

Right now, at a time when half of our people live paycheck to paycheck, and at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we must directly address the economic desperation facing a huge number of Americans. 

So we must finally pass a paid family leave program in the United States to keep this virus from spreading and to keep Americans healthy.  

We must do it right now. 

People should not be going to work when they are sick, it is unfair to them, it is unfair to the people they are in contact with. And yet, that reality exists, because we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee paid family leave and sick time.

Finally, from a national security perspective, it is incomprehensible that we are dependent on China and other countries for masks, for prescription drugs, for rubber gloves, and for key parts needed to make advanced medical equipment like ventilators.

As a result of globalization and our disastrous trade policies, we have been outsourcing millions of jobs and factories overseas that have gutted our economy. Now we are seeing another tragic and devastating result of those policies, as we find ourselves dependent on other countries to provide the most essential things we need to combat a pandemic and protect the lives of the people in our country.

Now trade is a good thing, but it has to be based on common sense principles. It has to be based on protecting American workers and protecting our national security, making sure we are producing what we need in this country in the event of a national crisis.

Now is the time to begin bringing back production and manufacturing to the United States and enact fair trade policies so that we are never in this position again. 

Now here is the bottom line. As we are dealing with this crisis, we need to listen to the scientists, to the researchers, and to the medical professionals, not politicians. 

We need to move quickly to prepare for the exponential increase of cases we will be seeing here in our country.

But as we do that, we must begin thinking about how, as a society, we can create a healthcare and economic system that is humane, that is compassionate, and that works for all people, not just the wealthiest.

Now that is an issue that people have had to think about for a long time, but I think in this moment of crisis more and more people understand that we need fundamental changes to our economy, and we need fundamental changes to our healthcare system.