A nurse watches an ambulance leaving Elmhurst Hospital, Queens, New York City, April 20, 2020 (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of a second wave of Coronavirus across the US this winter.
Robert Redfield told The Washington Post, in an interview published Tuesday:
There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.
We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.
Redfield’s comments are a further, if implicit, pushback against Donald Trump’s desire to lift stay-at-home provisions and social distancing guidelines by May 1.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday:
If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re gonna set yourself back. So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire.
Redfield said guidance to states over the gradual, phased easing of restrictions will be “in the public domain shortly.”
Birx Protects Trump
The official US death toll reached 45,075 on Tuesday, with another daily rise of about 2,000.
The figure is closing on the 60,000 deaths by August, projected by medical experts, if stay-at-home and social distancing measures are maintained. The models forecast up to 300,000 deaths if the restrictions are lifted.
But with Trump watching her at Tuesday’s White House briefing, White House Coronavirus coordinator Dr Deborah Birx avoided endorsement of Redfield’s warning:
We were very clear in the guidelines that we believe we can monitor, again, monitor communities at the community level by using the influenza-like illness….
I don’t know if [a second wave] will be worse, I think this has been pretty bad. When you see what happened in New York, that was very bad. I believe that we’ll have early warning signals both from our surveillance that we’ve been talking about in these vulnerable populations. We’re going to continue that surveillance from now all the way through to be able to give us that early warning signal.
Meanwhile Trump, knocked back over his May 1 deadline and his encouragement of illegal protests against stay-at-home measures, continued his anti-immigrant diversion.
He said he would soon issue an executive order temporarily halting the issuance of green cards to immigrants.
Trump announced his intention in a tweet on Monday night, after he was pushed back by Fauci; failed to intimidate State governors; and criticized over inadequate testing.
Initially he said he would suspend all immigrants visa. However, he backed away yesterday from a stoppage of guest worker programs after business groups angrily protested over a loss of access to foreign labor.
Trump said his order will initially be in effect for 60 days, but can be extended “based on economic conditions at the time”.
He put out the unsupported claim that immigrants were taking “American” job, amid the filing of unemployment claims by 22 million people over the last four weeks.
By pausing immigration, we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens — so important. It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American worker.
But Jason Oxman, the President of the Information Technology Industry Council, summarized, “The United States will not benefit from shutting down legal immigration.”
Cuomo: “Functional” Meeting with Trump
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had a “functional and effective” meeting with Trump in the White House on Tuesday.
Cuomo said he tried to keep the focus on testing and State budget problems:
We have a tremendous job that we have to get done and put everything else aside and do the job….
I stayed focused on what we were there to talk about and for me the substantive agenda was testing – ‘Who does what? How do we get it up the scale?’ – and somebody has to stand up for funding for the states.
While saying the conversation was “honest and open”, Cuomo gave no details: “The President is communicative about his feelings and I’m communicative about what I think.”
The White House did not provide an account of the meeting.
Upset by praise for Cuomo and other governors, Trump has regularly lashed out at the New York leader. However, since the weekend, he has tried — with a video distorted by editing — to present Cuomo as praising rather than criticizing him and the Administraation.
Cuomo did not refer to Trump’s past outbursts or repeat his denunciation of Trump’s video manipulation.
But he pressed his point on inadequate testing as a barrier to any lifting of restrictions: “We have to get this ironed out. This is a very big issue.”
He said the number of tests must increase tenfold.
White House advisors have said 500,000 daily tests are needed to establish containment of the virus, but the level has plateaued at 150,000.
Governors have highlights supply problems with testing kits and chemical reagents.
On Monday, Trump questioned the number of required tests, snapping, “Not everybody believes we should do so much testing. You don’t need so much.”
He singled out Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who had obtained 500,000 kits from South Korea: “I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a little knowledge — would have been helpful.”