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iStock/chapin31(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised alarms with President Trump Monday about 'incredible spikes" in coronavirus cases in Navajo Nation, warning that the virus could "wipe out" some tribal nations, according to a recording of a call between Trump and the nation's governors obtained by ABC News.

"I'm very worried, Mr. President," Governor Lujan Grisham said, as she followed up on a request she made to the Department of Defense last Wednesday for a 248-bed U.S. Army combat support hospital (CSH) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Grisham told Trump she had not yet received a response.

"We're seeing incredible spikes in the Navajo Nation, and this is going to be an issue where we're going to have to figure that out and think about maybe testing and surveillance opportunities," Grisham said.

"The rate of infection, at least on the New Mexico side — although we've got several Arizona residents in our hospitals — we're seeing a much higher hospital rate, a much younger hospital rate, a much quicker go-right-to-the-vent rate for this population. And we're seeing doubling in every day-and-a-half," she said.

Wow, that's something," the president replied.

She added: "And it could wipe out those tribal nations."

"We're gonna get you that hospital as quickly as we can," Trump said, while directing others in the Situation Room to look into the problem and rush work on the hospital. "Boy, that’s too bad for the Navajo nation – I've been hearing that."

As of Sunday, there were at least 128 cases and 2 deaths reported on the reservation, which has a population of over 250,000 and spans three states, according to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

The outbreak of the virus in the reservation is believed to have spread at an evangelical church rally in Chilchinbeto, Arizona, on March 7, according to a Los Angeles Times report. At least two Navajos have already died, the report said.

The Navajo Nation government declared a state of emergency on March 13, just one week later, before ultimately issuing a reservation-wide Shelter In Place order for all residents on March 20.

"In a short period of time, COVID-19 has arrived on the Navajo Nation and the number of cases are increasing at a high rate across the Nation," the order said. "The purpose of the closure is to allow the Navajo Nation as a whole to isolate and quarantine."

In her original request, Grisham wrote that the hospital was "urgently needed to support the State of New Mexico’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to overwhelm our existing medical treatment facilities and resources."

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iStock/Kiyoshi Tanno(WASHINGTON) -- The number of veterans who died after contracting the virus also rose to 27 over the weekend, according to VA records.

The VA has administered more than 13,200 COVID-19 tests throughout its network of hospitals, which are operating under special emergency protocols.

All hospital units were splitting themselves into two zones to isolate coronavirus cases from normal operations, the department announced Friday. VA hospitals have also postponed some non-emergency procedures and elective surgeries to free up space.

A federal watchdog report released last week found VA hospital supplies of medicine used to treat critically ill patients "may be insufficient."

The same report found holes in about a third of screening processes implemented at hospitals, all of which have closed their doors to visitors. Screening processes at 71% of medical centers were "generally adequate," and investigators found 28% could be improved.

Over the weekend, the VA announced it was opening its doors to non-veteran patients in New York City to help ease the coronavirus response burden. The activation is part of the VA's "Fourth Mission," to serve as the nation's emergency back-up health care system.

A handful of non-coronavirus patients were directed to the VA New York Harbor Health Care System from overburdened community hospitals, the VA said Sunday.

Last week, the agency said it would rehire retired health care workers to reinforce its response capacity. The VA put out a call to retired physicians, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals to register for re-employment, noting the federal government has waived the typical salary reduction for rehired retirees.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis warn about shortages of masks and other protective equipment, President Donald Trump insinuated over the weekend people might be taking masks from hospitals "out the back door," suggesting they might be being sold on the black market.

He was reacting to an account by a mask company executive who said the demand had skyrocketed at one New York City hospital, which they did not name, from 10,000 to 20,000 a week to 200,000 to 300,000 masks a week.

The New York Greater Hospital Association and New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo have since pushed back on Trump's claims.

Trump first made the claims on Sunday from the White House Rose Garden, where he held a press conference with his coronavirus task force. The president told reporters they should "look into it."

He repeated it at Monday's briefing after a reporter questioned him about it.

Trump implied, without evidence, that there was a nefarious reason for the shortage in masks, which states have criticized the federal government for not providing. Meanwhile, nurses and doctors across the country have resorted to re-using protective equipment, accepting donations, buying their own PPE (personal protective equipment) and other workarounds to keep themselves safe.

"How do you go from 10 to 20 to 300,000? 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000? Even though this is different, something's going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters," Trump said. "Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000 -- and we have that in a lot of different places," he said, though he didn't mention any other examples of hospitals that have reported stolen masks.

"I hope I didn't get any of your clients in trouble, but it could be that they are in trouble," Trump said, referring to hospitals as "clients" and speaking to the CEO of the mask-production company, who accompanied Trump at the briefing.

While there have been a handful of small-scale reports of people stealing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer from hospital waiting areas or other health centers across the country as anxieties over supply shortages rose, many quickly criticized Trump for seeming to put the blame on hospital workers.

"Of all the rotten, despicable things Donald Trump has done since taking office, blaming health care workers for the lack of masks is like top 3," Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter.

2020 hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden called Trump's claims "ridiculous and completely false."

“Today’s conspiracy mongering from our President is among the most reckless and ignorant moves he has made during this crisis, and there have been many. Lives hang in the balance,” Biden said in the statement Sunday.

At his daily coronavirus briefing in New York on Monday, Cuomo deflect questions about Trump's comments, saying, "I don't know what he's trying to say."

"In terms of a suggestion that the PPE equipment is not going to a correct place, I don't know what that means. I don't know what he's trying to say. If he wants to make an accusation then let him make an accusation. But I don't know what he's trying to say by inference," Cuomo said.

Asked for evidence to support Trump's comments, the White House pointed to an investigation Cuomo mentioned more than three weeks ago, at the beginning of March, when he warned that increasing anxiety was causing people to steal products and that he'd tasked the police to investigate.

"Not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products," Cuomo said on March 7. "I've asked the state police to do an investigation, look at places that are selling masks, medical equipment, protective wear, feeding the anxiety."

Asked by ABC News on Monday, the New York State Police did not provide any updates.

Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, attended the briefing on Monday with Cuomo. In a statement put out ahead of the briefing, Raske said health care workers "deserve better than their President suggesting that PPE is 'going out the back door' of New York hospitals."

"New York's healthcare workers are treating exploding numbers of COVID-19 patients around the clock – willingly and without complaint. My daughter, an ICU nurse at a New York City hospital, is one of them," Raske said. "Personal protection equipment is the single thing that separates them from being COVID-19 patients themselves. They deserve better than their President suggesting that PPE is 'going out the back door' of New York hospitals."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Monday morning that he wasn't familiar with the issue but suggested that there could be more demand because "many more" patients need them.

“You know, I have not looked at that carefully, so I can’t really can't comment. I mean, it could be that there are many more patients there that need them and they're actually not walking out the door, they're actually being utilized. I don't know. I mean, that discussion came yesterday. I really didn't know what was going on. I'd have to check that out later and find out what they were talking about," Fauci said on CNN.

The one anecdotal example the president referenced Sunday about increased mask demand at a hospital in New York City was shared with him by Ed Pesicka, the CEO of a mask production company with facilities in North Carolina, who joined Trump at the briefing Sunday. Pesicka did not, however, seem to back Trump's assumption that masks were being siphoned away from hospitals through a a "back door," as the president claimed, but rather used the anecdote as an example of the challenging uptick of demand.

Pesicka said one of the issues his company was struggling with was "the demand increase" and spoke of the hospital in New York that was requesting 200,000-300,000 masks per week, more than a ten-fold increase -- and a harbinger of demand coming down the pipeline.

"So you multiply that times the entire U.S., let alone the same demand outside of the U.S., that's part of the issue we're running into is even with a significant ramp-up in supply, you know, there's still that demand that is much greater than that supply," Pesicka said.

Pesicka did not respond to a request for comment by ABC News through his company, Owens and Minor.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Mike Pence has taken the extraordinary step of asking the nation's nearly 4,700 hospitals to submit via email daily updates to a federal inbox on how many patients have been tested for novel coronavirus, as well as information on bed capacity and requirements for other supplies.

The request from Pence to hospital administrators was a stunning admission by the government that it still doesn't have a handle on the scope of the fast-moving virus and what it needs to combat it.

The letter also exposed serious limitations to the federal government's ability to communicate directly with states and health care providers, despite being several weeks into the crisis and after years of planning by both Democratic and Republican administrations on how to prepare the nation for a pandemic flu.

Heath experts on disease surveillance and data said they were somewhat surprised the federal government didn't already have this capability, and questioned why the administration waited to set it up now. But, they acknowledged, the U.S. health system is designed in a way in which care is managed by private doctors and hospitals, as opposed to state-run health care systems.

"There are modern approaches to get this data, no doubt," said John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School. "We're not doing much better than the fax."

Katherine Hempstead, a senior health policy adviser with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who has worked previously on health data and surveillance issues, said most health records are online already. So the inability for the federal government to access that data is probably a mix of privacy concerns and a reflection of how decentralized the health system is.

Unlike state-run health care systems in countries like South Korea and China, the U.S. leaves testing up to private doctors and hospitals, which coordinate with state-run public health departments. Each state manages that health data differently, creating disparate data sets.

"We have a really fragmented system … that isn't well calibrated to this kind of public health emergency," Hempstead said. "And I don't think it's clear whose fault it is. … It's just not set up in a way that decision-makers need."

The federal government was already collecting data from public health labs and private laboratories like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorps. But it doesn't have data from "in-house" labs at local hospitals that conduct their own tests.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which sent the letter on Pence's behalf, did not respond to questions about the effort and why it wasn't created sooner. In a statement released to the public, CMS said the information was needed to address concerns about supply and bed capacity.

"America's hospitals are demonstrating incredible resilience in this unprecedented situation and we look forward to partnering further with them going forward," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

The Trump administration has been criticized for its slow response to the crisis, in particular the slow rollout of tests. Critics also have questioned the administration's laser focus on containment in the early weeks of the crisis, imposing narrow travel restrictions despite evidence that the virus was already spreading throughout communities.

Data on where the virus is spreading could provide valuable insight on where the government should send vital supplies like ventilators and protective gear. But so far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only been able to say how many tests have been conducted in public health labs, not private ones.

Earlier this month, Ambassador Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters that more data would help to predict where to put limited resources and she promised that such data would be released online.

"We are committed to not only making it public, but also to have a website that everyone can see in real time," Birx said at a March 17 press conference.

At the time Birx promised data would be compiled into a website, there were 6,300 known cases in the U.S., according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Monday, the number of cases in the U.S. topped 143,000 with more than 2,500 people dead.

Birx this weekend predicted that some 100,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. will die in the best case scenario with no metro area spared.

With the lack of information available, Brownstein of Boston's Children Hospital in the past week has co-founded a website, "" The site asks people to provide daily updates on their systems as a way of crowdsourcing data the government doesn't have.

Getting data on who is sick can point federal planners to the direction of which hospital might need more resources, he said.

"Otherwise, you're just flying blind," he said.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In the middle of a crisis of unrivaled magnitude, President Trump is finding himself on new terrain in more ways than one after a new ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed a small bump of support in the president's approval among Democrats - up 13 points.

While that 13-point rise was only to a meager 17%, it does, perhaps, represent a significant movement of some Democrats behind the president with those Americans looking beyond political polarization to score his performance as the coronavirus grips the country.

Trump's overall approval, 48-46%, is the first time since taking office that his approval is higher than his disapproval, according to the new poll. Another 51% approve of his handling of the outbreak, despite 58% say he acted too slowly at the onset.

In interviews with several self-identified Democrats, who may span the ideological spectrum but all approved of the president's management of the pandemic in the most recent poll, they offered a perspective, largely driven more by anxiety over the health and economic impacts of the outbreak rather than politics, about why Trump deserves high marks.

"I like the idea that the federal government stepped in and is coming up with try and help us out so that we have some form of hope, people are in turmoil psychologically," Alvonica Jackson, a resident of Washington, D.C., said. "It’s a big deal. It’s bigger than money, [the money] is not going to change the psychological scars that a lot of us are suffering."

Although she supports Trump’s overall response, she told ABC News she wishes it came sooner and that he took the spread of the disease more seriously from its onset.

"I think that he should have just responded, rather than just downplayed it," Jackson said. "If our government, or Donald Trump, would have just acted immediately then it wouldn’t have a chance to spread."

That sentiment is echoed by another respondent who approved of the president, but also yearned for a swifter response from the federal government.

"If he would have acted a little sooner with closing our borders down, they should have had a lockdown travel ban, I think," Roger Ferguson in Ohio told ABC News.

But as his household battles against steepening medical costs, Ferguson is looking to a check from the newly-passed, unprecedented $2.2 trillion stimulus package, which Trump signed last week, for help.

"$1,200 would help out tremendously," he said. "We’ve spent money that we've saved, because my mom has got cancer right now. On top of her medication, we’ve had to go and spend tons of extra money on preventative things [to keep her safe]."

Some of the respondents, despite their party affiliation, suggested that amid the crisis, they are looking for any action as a signal of leadership.

"I don't have knowledge to say how I would do it," a respondent from Pennsylvania, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News in an interview.

While she conceded that Trump has been "at odds" with those in the "medical field," she still currently approves of his performance because, "I don't know what else he could do. I couldn't do a better job, but more can be done. I don't know who could do better, because they're not in this position. But for now, things could be improving."

One Democrat, Yvette Brown from Cook County, Illinois, said she approved of Trump "that day" when the poll was taken because he was actively defending Americans against the coronavirus - a still evolving threat at the time to most.

But on Saturday, Brown had a decidedly different view of Trump's handling of the crisis.

"Not today," she said.

"On that day it was new," she said of her initial response. "And anything...doing something was approval because there was no room for just being stagnant and he wasn't. He was doing something."

When asked why she has since changed her mind, she explained that she now has more "knowledge" and "information," and a bare minimum response "isn't okay."

"At that point we didn't know a lot," she said. "Now we know more. And so, what you do makes a difference. It was knowledge as opposed to ignorance, and he's making, from what I hear, decisions that may be more harmful than good."

Among those decisions that she viewed as "harmful," Brown pointed to Trump's comments about having "the country opened up" by Easter, which falls on April 12.

But some of the Democrats who positively scored the president have been longtime supporters of his White House.

One respondent who has been registered with the Democratic Party for a long time, but who voted for Trump in 2016 since he said he was "never" voting for Hillary Clinton, applauds Trump’s response because he feels allowing governors to take the lead in handling the outbreak was the right move.

"He's putting the governor's in charge," Joseph Marshall Jr. from Ohio said. "I agree with that."

In one press briefing in mid-March, Trump labeled himself "in a sense, a wartime president."

Marshall told ABC News he "loved" that rhetoric.

"We're in a war. Look at how many people are dying. Look at how many businesses are going out because of his coronavirus. It's really scary," he said.

But despite the relatively better scores among Democrats, Trump trails historically among those leaders before him, who in the middle of crisis, saw approval ratings soar as the country rallied behind the commander-in-chief.

In the few days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush’s approval rating among Democrats skyrocketed to 78%, according to Gallup. About 10 days later, it peaked at 84%.

Another hurdle for the president is that he is seeing a similar level of disapproval among those within his own party, 12%.

"I think he should have alerted the public earlier. But if he was going to alert the public earlier, then the businesses were going to hurt. He needed to do well at balancing [the two]," Cary Chui, a Republican from California, said.

"We have so many ways to alarm the public besides only saying 'It’s fine,'... or saying 'It’s a little flu,' he should have done something differently," he said.

Along with Chui, Jennings Hughes, an independent with Republican leanings, said he is most concerned about the economic impact, suggesting that the government’s response is not comprehensive enough to counter the devastating effects.

"I just think that not enough weight was given to the economic consequences," Hughes said. "Now if your business is going out of business, how is $1,200 gonna fix that situation, as opposed to letting customers come to your business?"

Hughes, who is in the real estate business, told ABC News that she believes allowing states to shutter the majority of businesses all at once was not the best response.

"I'm just disappointed collectively in our leadership's willingness to shut everything down, and the consequences of that, as opposed to maybe not shutting everything down," he said.

"It’s a catch all solution that they have, that's gonna have drastic economic consequences," Hughes said.

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iStock/Toshe_O(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department is investigating the stock trading activities of Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., as novel coronavirus was beginning to spread inside the U.S., before the markets took a dramatic plunge, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News.

The investigation into Burr's transactions, first reported by CNN, is in its "early stages" and is in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to sources.

Burr, who serves as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has adamantly denied any impropriety surrounding his sale of up to $1.7 million in stocks on Feb. 13, many in key industries hit hardest after the market's drop from novel coronavirus.

Several days later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average began an 11,000-point drop, although it has since rebounded somewhat.

Alice Fisher, a white collar defense attorney who is representing Burr, defended his trading activity in a statement to ABC News saying it was "based on public information."

"When this issue arose, Senator Burr immediately asked the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a complete review, and he will cooperate with that review as well as any other appropriate inquiry," Fisher said. "Senator Burr welcomes a thorough review of the facts in this matter, which will establish that his actions were appropriate.”

The Justice Department and SEC declined to comment on the matter when reached by ABC News.

It is not clear whether the probe of Burr's activities extends to stock sell-offs around that same period by some of Burr's fellow lawmakers, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

All have denied that their stock activity had any connections to briefings that were provided to lawmakers at the time that had underscored the severity of the coronavirus and its potentially devastating ramifications for the U.S. economy and public health system.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government has been rolling out its response to the novel coronavirus crisis, trying to slow the spread and prop up the economy, amid a volatile stock market and record unemployment numbers.

After suggesting over the past week that he would relax social distancing guidelines and reopen the country for business by Easter, President Donald Trump abruptly changed his messaging Sunday and announced an extension to the White House coronavirus guidelines through the month of April, adding that Americans can expect "great things" by June 1.

The extension came as the nation's top health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that the COVID-19 outbreak is still on track to overwhelm hospitals and kill tens of thousands of Americans, even with action to slow the spread. He and the the White House task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, had told Trump that, even with mitigation efforts, models showed the death roll could reach 200,000.

Trump also said over the weekend that he will expand on his overall strategy moving forward on Tuesday, suggesting it could still include the county-by-county approach that he advocated for last week.

Here are the latest developments in the government response:

Trump acknowledges 'challenging times' ahead, highlights private help

One day after President Trump announced he was extending the White House guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, he opened Monday’s briefing in the Rose Garden by acknowledging “challenging times” are ahead for the next 30 days.

“The more we commit ourselves now, the sooner we can win the fight and return to our lives, and they will be great lives. Maybe better than ever,” he said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar then announced that one million American have now been tested, adding that the number is “more than any other country by far, not even close, and tested accurately.”

Although the U.S. has performed more tests than any other country, it has not performed more tests per capita.

President Trump then called up FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to comment on the FDA's approval for Abbott Laboratories to start using COVID-19 diagnostic testing devices that can show a positive test in 5 minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes.

“Just like tests for flu or strep, where you go to the doctors, you get the test done, you can get an answer within minutes having this test done,” Hahn said.

Moments later, a cardboard box which appeared to be an Abbott testing kit prop blew away as the president spoke.

President Trump also announced that Ford Motor Company will be producing 50,000 ventilators in less than 100 days, after several governors have complained of difficulty in obtaining them.

Federal government looking at hazard pay for frontline workers

As health care workers around the country treat COVID-19 patients, some without proper personal protective equipment, President Trump was asked this morning about hazard pay, an additional pay for employees who remain at work despite dangerous conditions, in the next phase of economic measures.

The president told Fox News Channel’s "Fox and Friends" that the government is "looking" at the possibility of providing hazard pay to healthcare workers on the front lines of the crisis.

"We are looking at different ways of doing it, primarily through the hospitals because we're funding hospitals, and these are generally hospitals that she's talking about," Trump said, responding to an email question from an emergency room nurse. "We are asking the hospitals to do it and consider something including bonuses, and I think they are entitled to it. If anybody is entitled to it they are."

After Trump said hazard pay was being actively considered through hospitals, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a phone interview on Fox Business that it would be "put in the next bill."

"I think I agree with the president, I think that makes a lot of sense. When we get to the next bill in congress, that's definitely something we will put in the next bill," Mnuchin said.

With both bodies of Congress in recess, there is no "next bill" currently under consideration, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated Sunday she’s already looking to a fourth package.

"We have to pass another bill that goes to meeting the need more substantially than we have," Pelosi said on CNN’s "State of the Union," listing off Democratic priorities including more protections for front line workers.

Meanwhile, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy signaled last week he’s not ready to begin talks on the next phase of coronavirus relief.

"I wouldn’t be so quick to say you have to write something else," he said. "Let’s let this bill work."

Trump looks to 'month of achievement' as U.S. death toll soars

As the nation prepares for another month of social distancing, economic hardship and the sobering reality that the U.S. death toll will climb by tens of thousands, President Trump told FOX News Channel’s Fox & Friends in a phone interview this morning that "it's going to be a month of achievement."

First asked about potentially extending the federal recommendations past the end of April, as Fauci has signaled, Trump said, "I’ll use my head, and I’ll make a decision, but I rely on experts."

Trump doubled down on his belief that the federal government should only step in as a "backup," even as governors around the country complain of the difficulty in obtaining medical supplies.

"The states should be getting it. We should be a backup, and we've become not a backup, the opposite," the president said of providing ventilators and other essential protective gear to states.

When questioned about China, Russia and other nations engaging in disinformation campaigns to blame the virus on the U.S., Trump said, "They do it, we do it."

"We call them different things and I make statements that are very strong against China, including the Chinese Virus," Trump said, after vowing last week to stop using the term denounced by the World Health Organization. "Every country does it, but they build it up, and we handle that, and they probably handle it but countries do that."

Trump also lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the almost hour-long phone interview, calling her a "sick puppy" and taking offense to her saying Sunday that Trump's delay in responding to COVID-19 was "deadly."

"She's a sick puppy. She's got a lot of problems," he said. "I think it's a disgrace to her country, her family."

He said the federal government may "take over" her district in San Francisco, which he called a "slum."

When the Fox News' hosts noted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had a very high approval rating in a new poll for how he's handled the crisis, Trump appeared to take credit, saying, "one of the reasons his numbers are high on handling it is because of the federal government."

Trump again expressed opposition to actually using the Defense Production Act's powers. Instead, he repeated that he prefers to use it as a negotiating tool -- a threat he holds over companies as leverage.

"I've been using it a lot to talk to people," he said. "We don't want to be nationalizing our country. We don't want to be taking over. It's a terrible symbol."

Trump also said his "next call" Monday morning was going to be with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that they'd be discussing energy and the coronavirus.

Fauci says it's possible guidelines will have to extend beyond April

As the nationwide social distancing guidelines are extended, the U.S. can still expect to see more fatalities from the novel coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.

"Even if these guidelines are extended, we will lose more people. Exactly how many more we would lose is uncertain, depending upon the efficiency of the mitigation methods," he said.

Echoing a comment he made on Sunday, Fauci added that, "April might do it" but it's possible the guidelines will have to be extended even further.

"To pull back the mitigation methods before you reach the peak and turned the corner I think really would have been imprudent because that would have merely regenerated the spike to go up," Fauci said. "If we prematurely did it, it would likely rebound and that's one thing you do not want to happen."

When asked about the clinical trials on potential therapeutics to treat COVID-19, Fauci said he hopes by late spring or early summer they'll "get a signal in one of those drugs to see whether it works or not."

"And if it does, we'll widely distribute it," he added. "And if it doesn't, we'll just get it off the shelf, get it off the table, because it won't be useable."

FDA gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a limited emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs to treat those infected with the novel coronavirus.

In a statement released late Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it had received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated to a national stockpile of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

The two oral prescription drugs are used primarily to prevent and treat malaria, but both are now being investigated as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.

The statement noted that the FDA had issued an emergency-use authorization to allow both donated drugs "to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As Louisiana emerges as a new hotspot in the spread of novel coronavirus, Gov. Jon Bel Edwards said the state now has the third-highest number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the United States, per capita, in just over a month.

"We remain on a trajectory, really to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care by the end of the first week of April," he said on ABC's This Week Sunday.

Edwards also raised concerns about the state's hospitals reaching capacity soon during a private teleconference with governors last week, and asked President Donald Trump for federal resources.

The Louisiana governor said Sunday that staffing hospitals remains "very difficult," but ventilators are what the state needs.

"We've had orders in for more than 12,000 ventilators, some through the national stockpile and others through private vendors," he said. "Thus far -- over the last several weeks -- we've been able to get only 192."

Health care providers across the country have warned of equipment storages, including critical life support, such as ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses.

Despite receiving shipments of protective equipment and hospital beds from the federal stockpile, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Sunday emphasized the need for ventilators and said he spoke with the White House Saturday night about the problem.

"We had a very specific conversation with the White House last night about ventilators. That’s our number one ask. It’s our number one need," he told This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz in a separate interview. "And that’s the one that we are focused most on right now. We have a long way to go on the whole PPE front but we’ve made more progress in other areas than we have right now on ventilators."

Globally, more than 34,000 people have died from illness related to the novel coronavirus. More than 143,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the U.S. and more than 2,100 people have died, according to data from the the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier Sunday, Edwards announced the death of April Dunn, a 33-year-old staffer in his office. She died due to complications from new coronavirus.

In Louisiana the death toll is already beginning its rise with 137 confirmed, the second highest death count per capita in the United States, the governor said. The state currently has over 3,300 cases, the third-highest case count per capita in the U.S.

Raddatz asked about reports that Mardi Gras -- which was held as scheduled -- may have helped spread coronavirus in the state. Edwards agreed, but pointed to the messages coming from the federal government at the time.

"There was never any hint from anyone, to me, to the mayor of New Orleans, that there should be any consideration to downsizing or canceling Mardi Gras," he said.

"If you go back, you will see that the federal government was saying things were under control," he added. "And this is some Monday morning quarterbacking going on."

On Sunday morning, the president signed a disaster declaration for Connecticut, where there are more than 1,500 cases and 33 deaths. It is under a new travel warning issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with New York, where there are more than 53,000 cases and over 800 deaths, and New Jersey, with its over 11,000 cases and 140 deaths.

Murphy told Raddatz in a separate interview on This Week that residents from his state were already not traveling much as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"A travel warning, we're fine with," he said Sunday. "The fact of the matter is we are all in on flattening that curve, social distancing as aggressive as any states in America."

Trump raised the idea of an enforceable quarantine for parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut when speaking to reporters earlier Saturday. The region has become a hotspot in the outbreak with at least 30,000 cases confirmed in New York City alone.

The president reversed course in a tweet later that evening, saying that "a quarantine will not be necessary."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as Democrats’ top choice for the presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, but with only bare majority support within his party and a massive enthusiasm gap in a November matchup against President Donald Trump.

Indeed, strong enthusiasm for Biden among his supporters -- at just 24% -- is the lowest on record for a Democratic presidential candidate in 20 years of ABC/Post polls. More than twice as many of Trump’s supporters are highly enthusiastic about supporting him, 53%.


Trump’s still-strong rating on the economy is another challenge for Biden. So is this: Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who prefer Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the nomination, 15% say they’d back Trump over Biden in the fall.

In the nomination contest, 51% of leaned Democrats now prefer Biden vs. 42% for Sanders. That’s a vast 34-point gain for Biden since mid-February, with other candidates having left the race and endorsed him. Sanders gained 10 percentage points.

Yet even as he’s advanced in his party, Biden’s slipped against Trump in a November matchup. The two are locked into essentially a dead heat among registered voters, 49-47%, Biden-Trump, after a slight Biden lead, 52-45%, in February.

Biden does better vs. Trump among all adults (Democrats are less apt to be registered), 50-44%. That’s a slight lead, but it was more solidly significant in February, 52-44%.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow touted President Donald Trump's signing this week of "the biggest assistance package in history," but acknowledged the difficulty in saying with certainty whether the funds would be enough to meet the needs of the millions of Americans impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"It may not be perfect, but I think it's going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months," Kudlow said of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in an interview on ABC's This Week.

"It's the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States, so it's hard to know if we could get everything, help everybody," he added on Sunday. "But I'm an optimist. I think the sheer resources here -- we are putting in whatever it takes, we're using every federal power lever possible to help folks and it's going right into middle, lower-middle class people."

The director has been one of the Trump administration's most vocal cheerleaders of the stimulus package, arguing in recent days that it is going to "stabilize the economy."

Among the features of the bill that Kudlow pointed to Sunday are $600 billion in assistance to 175 million individuals in the country, plus $350 billion in loans distributed to small businesses that the director pledged would be made available within a week.

"We're trying to keep folks working. We're trying to let them have enough assistance to get through daily family needs with the kids, " Kudlow said, adding, "We're also protecting payrolls, all of the loans and loan guarantees will be forgivable … provided the small business people hang onto their payrolls."

This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz pressed Kudlow on when checks to individual Americans would be sent out, and he said he believes they would be sent out in "two weeks."

The one-time payments will give $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000 a year, $2,400 to married couples without children making up to $150,000. The package gives families an additional $500 for every qualifying child.

Raddatz also asked him about the soaring number of unemployment insurance applicants and whether the financial assistance being offered by the federal government will be sufficient, and Kudlow noted the unprecedented expanse of the package.

"I think it will be enough," he said, later noting that "about one-third of GDP, one-third of the whole economy is being covered by this package."

"That's really quite remarkable," he said.

Earlier in the week, Kudlow supported the president's concerns about the long-term economic impact of the widespread shelter-in-place directives across the country, telling Fox News on Monday that the fiscal damage could be "just too great," even as public health experts warned against too rapid a "reopening" of the economy.

But on This Week Sunday, Kudlow voiced some uncertainty about the nation's timeline to emerge from the outbreak.

"It could be four weeks. It could be eight weeks. I say that hopefully and I say that prayerfully," he said. "That's what some of the science experts are telling us. I don't know if they'll be right."

Kudlow has faced criticism over comments he made in February claiming that the United States had the situation under control.

"We have contained this. I won’t say airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” he said during a CNBC interview on Feb. 25 before the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States ballooned in March. He also predicted at the time that the virus would not lead to an "economic tragedy."

Asked about those comments by Raddatz, Kudlow defended himself by claiming that he was repeating the information given to him.

"I’m as good as the facts are," he said Sunday. "At the time I made that statement, the facts were: contained … a lot of people agreed with me. In fact, at the time, a lot of people felt at the time that the flu was worse than the virus."

"But as soon as the facts change, we changed our whole posture and our whole strategy and we've gone full bore," he continued.

Raddatz pressed about the impact of the stimulus bill on the nation's budget deficit, questioning how the U.S. could provide such a large sum in assistance without raising taxes, to which Kudlow stressed the importance of the assistance to businesses in response.

"Well, we're not raising taxes. We're cutting taxes right now," he said. "The whole package is essentially direct assistance on the spending side and large-scale tax cuts … probably half of the companies in the U.S., are going to get rebates or deferred payroll tax holidays."

"So, we have tried to hit both sides," Kudlow continued. "We're helping the individuals. We're helping the small business. Those are the major components of the American economy. I hope that the machinery works."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


MCCAIG/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Friday signed the massive $2 trillion stimulus package into law during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office.

"I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first," Trump said.

The House passed the bill, the largest aid measure in American history, earlier Friday in a voice vote after lawmakers were called back to the nation's capital to push the bill through.

The stimulus package will provide essential relief to American workers and an economy reeling from the coronavirus crisis

The White House and Senate negotiators struck a deal early Wednesday morning after days of late-night talks and the Senate unanimously approved the measure 96-0 on Wednesday.

Here are the key takeaways on who will get what and when:

Direct payments for most Americans taxpayers

Under the plan, individuals who earn $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400.

An additional $500 per child will be tacked on to that.

The payment would scale down as income rises, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.

Ninety percent of Americans would be eligible to receive full or partial payments, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.

It’s unclear how long it will take the Internal Revenue Service to process and calculate each and every payment. The White House has indicated that Americans could be seeing direct payments as soon as April 6.

Expanded unemployment insurance

Lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would expand unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits -- an additional $600 per week - on top of what state unemployment programs pay.

In total, unemployed workers are eligible to receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The program was expanded to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber drivers.

The massive boost in unemployment insurance is expected to cost $250 billion.

Small business to receive emergency loans

The legislation creates a $367 billion federally-guaranteed loan program for small businesses who must pledge not to lay off their workers.

The loans would be available during an emergency period ending at the of June, and would be forgiven if the employer pays its workers for the duration of the crisis.

According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office, the deal also includes $10 billion in Small Business Administration emergency grants and up to $10 million of emergency relief per business. It allocates $17 billion for the SBA to cover six months of payment for small businesses with existing SBA loans.

It will offer $30 billion in emergency education funding and $25 billion in emergency transit funding.

Big companies get cash

The plan includes loans for distressed companies from a $425 billion fund controlled by the Federal Reserve. An additional $75 billion would be available for industry-specific loans, including to airlines and hotels.

This was a major sticking point for Democrats: they successfully pushed for oversight, including the installment of an inspector general and a congressionally appointed board to monitor the fund.

The plan also calls for an immediate disclosure of the fund recipients.

The stimulus bill also includes a provision that forbids President Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus, according to Schumer's office.

As part of the deal, airlines will be prohibited from stock buybacks and CEO bonuses, Schumer wrote in a letter Wednesday to Democratic senators.

Hospitals drowning under crisis to receive aid

The massive package also includes $100 billion in assistance for hospitals and health systems across the nation.

Schumer said the plan offers “billions more” for critical investments into personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, among other things.

Lawmakers also agreed to increase Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers, Schumer said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


narvikk/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government has been rolling out its response to the coronavirus crisis, trying to slow the spread and prop up the economy, which has taken a severe hit.

House lawmakers scrambled back to Washington Friday morning amid fears one GOP member of Congress would force a delay in the vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed unanimously by the Senate.

But early Friday afternoon, the Senate passed the measure -- despite an attempt from one Republican to delay the vote. It now heads to President Trump's desk.

Once quorum was established, GOP Rep. Tom Massie tried to ask for a recorded vote as expected, but without anyone to second his request, it quickly failed.

The historic measure passed through a voice vote.

Applause ensued around the chamber where lawmakers had spread out in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Here are the latest developments in the government response:

House Democrats fear lone GOP member may object to quick voice vote

The possibility of the House passing the Senate-passed coronavirus relief bill in the fastest available way -- by unanimous consent or a simple voice vote -- is slipping away from Democrats as expectations grow that Rep. Tim Massie, R-Ky., will force delay the vote.

Late Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office urged members to return to Washington by 10 a.m. Friday to make a quorum, amid growing concern of COVID-19 spreading across the Capitol and country.

For today, a quorum constitutes 216 members, and if Massie notes the absence of a quorum, he could stop the proceedings until quorum is reached.

Once at least 216 members are present, the House could have a recorded roll call vote if one-fifth of the body -- or 44 members -- support it. If not, they could try to hold a voice vote again, and Massie's objection of the absence of a quorum wouldn't prevail.

Three hours of debate on the bill are expected in the morning before an effort to pass it by voice vote.

The eleventh hour concern over Massie prompted several House members to board near-empty planes headed to the nation's capital Friday morning.

Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota shared a photo of himself with three Minnesota lawmakers appearing to be the only passengers on a flight to Washington.

Just after midnight, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., posted a photo of a deserted LAX, noting he was traveling back to the chamber since other members can't for health reasons.

After calling Massie a "grandstander" at Thursday’s task force briefing, President Trump doubled down on his disapproval of the Kentucky congressman on Twitter Friday morning, even calling for Massie to be thrown out of the Republican party.


Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous......

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020


In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, Massie indicated he will request the formal roll call vote.


It’s pretty clear now, with enough members here to pass the bill, that Pelosi and McCarthy are still working together to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from ACCOUNTABILITY.

Biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote? #SWAMP

— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 27, 2020


Trump changes tone, tells GM, 'START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!'

President Trump abruptly changed his tone on whether more ventilators were urgently needed as governors have been demanding.

In a series of tweets, he once again threatened to use the Defense Production Act, which he says he has activated but not actually employed, to force General Motors to make them-- as the federal government had been negotiating with the company to do so. He took aim at Ford as well.

He said "General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!"


General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!! @GeneralMotors @Ford

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020


The tweets come after the New York Times reported his administration had delayed going forward with a government contract because of cost concerns over the $1 billion or more price tag.

Thursday night, in a 40-minute phone interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Trump suggested the number of ventilators being requested by governors to combat COVID-19 isn't necessary.

"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be," he said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they'll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they're saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'"

The president said that companies are stepping up and producing the "very, very expensive" ventilators and other pieces of equipment, but he also repeated that this was primarily a state responsibility.

"Remember, we are a second line of attack," Trump said. "The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals in the local government and the states. The states themselves."

Despite saying positive things about New York's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, Trump struck a sharply partisan tone at other moments. He called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, calling him a "failed presidential candidate" who "should be doing more."

He also referred to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, another Democrat, as "the young woman governor" and said she wasn't "stepping up."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- There is anger from Democratic members about the mixed messages being sent from Democratic leadership, sources tell ABC News.

Some are angry that they have to miss the vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, and others are frustrated with the lack of timing guidance. It was unclear to some members after a caucus call Thursday led by House Democratic leadership if they would be needed in Washington for a potential vote.

From the lawmakers traveling back to Capitol Hill, there are concerns about putting themselves and families at risk, given the chance that Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., could force a vote over his concerns about passing the largest stimulus package in American history without the majority of members required by the Constitution.

"Dear @RepThomasMassie: If you intend to delay passage of the #coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, please advise your 428 colleagues RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend ~200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt. #thankyou," Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., tweeted.

Dear @RepThomasMassie: If you intend to delay passage of the #coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, please advise your 428 colleagues RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend ~$200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt. #thankyou

— Rep. Dean Phillips (@RepDeanPhillips) March 26, 2020

"Non-sick members will pick it up and take it back to their families," the source added. "Also, many of them have not been tested yet."

Friday morning, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer said Democrats hope to have a voice vote, and told reporters that he hasn't spoken to Rep. Massie but he's spoken to McCarthy.

"I talked to McCarthy last night. We're working together to get this done," he said.

Republicans were also fuming they have to come back to Washington to vote on the bill.

"Heading to Washington to vote on pandemic legislation. Because of one Member of Congress refusing to allow emergency action entire Congress must be called back to vote in the House. Risk of infection and risk of legislation being delayed. Disgraceful. Irresponsible," Rep. Peter King, R-NY, tweeted.

The president, as well, took to Twitter this morning to criticize the Kentucky congressman, calling him a "third rate grandstander" and for his removal from the Republican Party.

Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous......

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020

Senior GOP sources say they are figuring out "contingency plans" if Massie does call for a roll call vote.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Lisa Ling doubled down on her criticism of President Donald Trump for referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus," saying the verbiage "seemed like a way to deflect attention from the fact that he was not taking [the virus] seriously for months."

The journalist and former co-host of The View returned to the Hot Topics table Friday via satellite from her home in Los Angeles, where the city is under an ordered lockdown amid the outbreak.

Ling took to Instagram on Wednesday to condemn the president for using the term "Chinese virus" instead of COVID-19.

"Since POTUS began referring to COVID19 as 'Chinese Virus,' attacks and insults directed toward Asians have risen sharply," Ling wrote on Instagram. "We are all in this together irrespective of where it allegedly started."

There have been physical assaults reported in New York, vandalism in California, and many more incidents of name-calling and similar discrimination, according to the civil rights coalition Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which created a website where Asian Americans could report bias incidents related to COVID-19.

"It’s here now and WE ALL need to defend against it," Ling continued in her post.

COVID-19 began in Wuhan, China as early as Dec. 31, 2019 when Chinese health authorities confirmed dozens of people in Wuhan were being treated for a mysterious pneumonia from an unknown source. Many of those sickened had visited a live animal market in Wuhan, but authorities claimed there was no evidence of the virus spreading from person to person.

On Jan. 11, 2020, Chinese media reported the death of a 61-year-old man who had visited the live animal market in Wuhan, the first death from novel coronavirus.

After backlash for saying "Chinese virus" when referring to COVID-19, Trump told Fox News on Tuesday he'd stop using the term and associating the virus with China, although he doesn’t “regret” the reference.

Ling spoke out about the president's language -- which a senior World Health Organization official condemned for stigmatizing certain ethnic groups --  on The View Friday.

"I was pretty astounded when he started calling the coronavirus the 'Chinese virus," Ling said. "It's been months since this crisis began and to me, it just seemed like a way to deflect attention from the fact that he was not taking it seriously for months and months."

"It seemed like he was deflecting blame," she added.

Co-host Meghan McCain also condemned the term's use, and asked Ling her thoughts on concerns of China's government covering up the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I by no means have any love or affection for the Chinese government," Ling premised. "I have found that their actions immediately after the virus was discovered in Wuhan, their actions have been indefensible."

Ling also recalled Dr. Li Wenliang, a Chinese health professional who tried to warn colleagues about the coronavirus, was reprimanded by local police for "spreading untruthful information online," and ultimately died from the virus.

"That doctor -- may he rest in peace -- that sounded the alarm, that this is something that we should be concerned about," Ling said. "The fact that he was arrested to me is unconscionable."

"We could sit here and blame China until we're blue in the face, but how is that going to help us right now?" Ling questioned. "We have just passed 1,000 Americans who have died of coronavirus. Our hospitals are hugely overwhelmed. There is this invisible and silent killer amongst us and we need to address it now."

"Focusing on blaming China isn't going to do us any good now," Ling added.

According to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 532,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, spanning every continent except Antarctica. At least 122,000 people have recovered worldwide.

With more than 85,000 diagnosed cases, the U.S has the highest national total, ahead of Italy and China.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(NEW YORK) -- The coronavirus crisis weighs heavily on the American public: Seventy-seven percent in an ABC News/Washington Post poll say their lives have been disrupted, seven in 10 report personal stress and as many are worried that they or an immediate family member may become infected.

Forty-one percent in this national survey, conducted Sunday through Wednesday, say someone in their own community has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus; one in 10 (11%) personally knows someone who has been diagnosed with the disease.


Testing remained an issue at the time of these interviews; 44% said there were people in their area who wanted a test but couldn’t get one. Reported unavailability of tests rises to 58% among those who reported diagnosed cases in their community, vs. 35% of those with no known local cases.

Personal concerns are amplified by painful economic disruption. As reported Thursday, the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that one in three Americans say they or an immediate family member have been laid off or lost their job as a result of the pandemic, and 51% report a cut in pay or work hours. Ninety-two percent expect a recession.

In the political arena, President Donald Trump’s overall job approval rating advanced to his best on record in ABC/Post polls, 48%, even as 58% say he acted too slowly in the early days of the outbreak. This is the first time since he took office that Trump’s approval rating has exceeded disapproval of his work, 46% (though the difference isn’t statistically significant).

Fifty-one percent approve specifically of Trump’s handling of the outbreak; 45% don’t.

That said, there are substantial risks to the president. Trump’s overall approval rating drops among people who are more worried about catching the coronavirus, report severe local economic impacts, say their lives have been especially disrupted or know someone who’s caught the virus. He also has lower approval in states with higher per-capita infection rates.

Some of this relates to the demographics of the affected states, and some reflect greater levels of apprehension among Trump’s critics. Nonetheless, the results suggest that as the crisis deepens, the risks to views of his performance likely rise.

Two comparisons underscore the extent of the crisis on a personal level. The number of adults who report experiencing stress as a result of the pandemic (70%) exceeds the highest level of stress caused by the Great Recession as measured in ABC/Post polls (61% in March 2009). And the 69% who are worried about infection in their immediate family far surpasses the highest level of such fears in past epidemics, 52% for swine flu in October 2009.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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