NDN Blog

Where Are the Tests?

The early troubles that the CDC had in standing up a national COVID-19 testing regime have been well documented.  But in early March, the Administration told us that these problems had been fixed.  The Vice President promised 5 million tests in place by March 13th.  Other Administration officials promised tens of millions by late March.  Daily testing rates climbed, and on March 25th we hit 100,000 tests a day for the first time.  Even though many of these tests had ridiculously long turnarounds, 3-7 days, the much needed national testing system seemed to be in the process of being stood up.

But something has happened.  Daily testing growth stopped, and we are now stuck at around 100,000 tests a day (see data below).  Despite the promise of millions of tests, the US has only conducted 1.1m over the past ten weeks, and at current rates will not complete 5m tests until May 11th or so, a full two months after the Vice President said 5m tests were in place, ready to go.  

Given that to stand America up from the crisis the nation will need hundreds of millions of inexpensive and rapid tests, we simply have to understand what is happening here.  The answers provided by the White House are inadequate, and hundreds of thousands of American lives are in the balance here.  We simply have to get testing right or the crisis will get far worse and our recovery will be far more difficult.  There is no margin of error here. 

If the White House cannot explain what is happening with the US testing regime today, the House should conduct a virtual hearing Friday, and request that Dr. Birx testify under oath.  Something has gone wrong, again, with our national testing regime, and the American people deserve both answers and a clear plan for how to make it right."

You can find more from NDN on the need for a national plan to tame the virus here, and more on the need for better testing here

US Daily Testing Numbers - data from the COVID Tracking Project:

Mar 20 - 35k (this is one week after Pence said 5m tests would be in place)

Mar 21 - 44k

Mar 22 - 45k

Mar 23 - 66k

Mar 24 - 65k

Mar 25 - 113k

Mar 26 - 107k

Mar 27 - 108k

Mar 28 - 114k

Mar 29 - 95k

Mar 30 - 113k

Mar 31 - 98k

April 1 - 101k (1.2m total over 10 weeks!)

May 11 - 5m (at current rates of testing)

With Stimulus Done, Congress Must Now Focus on Defeating COVID

America will not be able to stand its economy and society back up until the COVID virus is contained.  With exploding infection rates now across the country, it is clear that the President and his team have failed in their fight to tame the virus.  With the hard work of providing for the US economy behind it, Congress must now focus on crafting a successful national approach that will allow us to fight the virus in the coming days but also in the many months that remain in this difficult struggle.

There is broad agreement about what needs to be done, right now:  

1) Surge equipment/beds/workers to the frontlines

2) Implement a national 21 day stay at home order

3) Crash a universal rapid testing/isolation regime like in South Korea

To put pressure on the Administration to finally craft a comprehensive response to the virus, Speaker Pelosi should form a political alliance with the governors in the most afflicted states.  By working together, they can create both a more effective national strategy to defeat COVID, but also begin to show a sense of common purpose which we will need to develop if we are to prevail against this dangerous threat.

There have been many Trumpian missteps over the past ten weeks which have allowed the virus to get out of control, but the greatest of all may be his pitting state against state and community against community; to prevail against a pandemic all of us must do our part and work together.  There is no us and them – only us.  The Speaker can exhibit the kind of leadership required to prevail against COVID by forging a new “war time” alliance of the House and top governors, and force the Administration to finally use the awesome power of the United States government to do what should have been done months ago.  We know what needs to be done – let’s get it done in the days ahead.

With New Data, The Costs of the President's Failed COVID19 Response Becoming Clearer

As more economic and public health data becomes available, the more the nation is becoming aware of the extraordinary costs of the President’s ongoing failure to craft a successful national response to the COVID19 virus.

While Congress is the midst of addressing our daunting short term economic challenges, far more must be done in the coming days to stop the spread of the virus. 

Nine weeks into this crisis and the nation still has no plan to stop COVID.  Our elected leaders from across the country should come together around a plan as ambitious as the economic plan close to passing today.  While there are many good ideas on the table, NDN believes there are four key things we must do right now to prevent COVID from doing unimaginable harm to the nation in the days ahead:  

1) Surge supplies/beds/staff to the medical front lines

2) Implement a national 3 week stay at home program

3) Crash/stand up a national testing/isolation regime like South Korea’s

4) Fund a “Manhattan Project” for a vaccine/therapeutics/testing/equipment both for COVID and to prepare for future pandemics

Our nation’s leaders shouldn’t accept the President’s ongoing failure to respond to the COVID threat; all of us should demand he step up here and do what the American people and all of the experts expect him to do – tame COVID, and then stand our society and economy back up later this spring and summer.

Can the governors of the big, afflicted states band togethter to create a pressure campaign against our flailing President? Work with Senate and House leaders, leaders of other nations? If the President won't lead America now, others must. 

A New Role for Elected Officials — Community Truth Teller, COVID Navigator

This essay first appeared on Medium on Wed, 3/25. 

How a nation manages its information landscape in a pandemic is of vital importance. As we are learning, the ill-informed acts of a few can have a dramatic impact on the rest of us. We are now, and will be for perhaps the next eighteen months to two years, truly all in this together in ways which are not always so in a big, diverse nation like our own.

Thus, I think it is important for Democrats and responsible Republicans at all levels of government to dramatically step up their engagement with their constituents in the coming months. With travel and traditional legislating being significantly cut back, our elected leaders have more time to be using modern communications tools to become very present in the lives of their communities, at a time when accurate information can be the difference between life and death. Using tools like Zoom that allow large face to face conversations will not just be effective at communicating vital information, but will also keep the human connection that so many of us are struggling to maintain.

It’s my hope that in the coming days, our elected leaders across the country take responsibility for their community’s information environment, and dramatically raise their levels of engagement. We’ve seen examples of this from Governors like Andrew Cuomo, JB Pritzker, Jay Insee, Gavin Newsom, and Gina Raimondo. Joe Biden has built a TV studio in his house, and is now running his campaign from here. A new Politico story out this morning by Sarah Ferris details the efforts of recently elected House Members to lead important conversations back home. She reports:

“[Rep. Dean] Philips, a Minnesota Democrat, said the forced isolation was “strangely accommodating” for his job at this moment, which consists of a lot of phone calls but zero hours of fundraising or lengthy flights to Washington.“ There’s a silver lining in this,” he said. “It’s fair to say I’m communicating with more constituents, more broadly and more deeply, right now, than I’ve been able to in a year and a half in Congress.

The leaders of every level of government, from the US Senate to city councils, should establish a process to help their colleagues transition to and succeed in this new model of communications and leadership. State parties can do this too, as can organizations like the Democratic Governors Organization and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. We should have a sense of urgency about this project, seeing it as just as important as surging equipment to frontline hospitals or standing up our national testing regime.

This national project is particularly important given the torrent of misinformation, lies, and magical thinking coming from the President’s Twitter feed and press briefing each day. There is no question that the President’s failure to have an honest conversation with the American people over these past few months has left us all more unprepared than we should have been; and allowed people to unknowingly take actions which endangered themselves and others. The President’s failure to be honest with all of us, to prepare us for what was to come, and to encourage us take prudent steps to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities has been among the biggest failures of his response to COVID — and it is one we must learn from.

I also think that we Democrats have historically undervalued the importance of “official communications” in our understanding of how we talk to constituents and voters. Some of this has to do with consultants not making money off of videos produced in legislative offices or tele-town halls, thus creating a financial incentive for prioritizing campaign communications. I’m not saying ads don’t matter; but we can do both, and we should have a realistic understanding of the positives and negatives of each approach.

In the coming months, our leaders need to be patriots, not partisans, and really lean into this new COVID-era leadership and communications model. It is what people need now, it will save lives, and it will help us learn how to live in a new way. We should not underestimate the collective power of thousands of elected officials at all levels of government leaning in and talking to their communities honestly and forthrightly to provide the kind of information corrective to Trump that the nation needs if we are to defeat the virus in the days ahead. Beating this thing will be the work of all of us, not just our leaders in DC — this one truly requires everyone to do their part.

The President’s plan to combat COVID19 has failed. Congress must step in — now

The US had two choices on how to combat COVID-19 - a national shut down or an universal testing/isolation regime like in South Korea. Nine weeks into the crisis, the US has done neither, and so now we have some of the fastest growing infection rates that any country has experienced since the pandemic began.

Time is running out to prevent the virus from becoming something which fundamentally alters the American way of life. The President has made it clear that he cannot lead us through the crisis, and thus is it time for Congress to take responsibility for developing and implementing a true national plan. We only have a few days to get this done.

In recent days, expert opinion has converged about what we must do:

1) Surge supplies/beds/staff to the medical front lines

2) Implement a national 3 week stay at home program

3) Crash/stand up a national testing/isolation regime like in South Korea

4) Fund a “Manhattan Project” for a vaccine/therapeutics/testing/equipment both for COVID and to prepare for future pandemics

The economy and our society cannot stand back up until the virus is tamed. Washington’s focus on stimulus and worker support, while important, should have come after a national plan to combat the virus was in place. We have no choice now except to work on both in the days ahead.

It is critical that Congress also find time to pass the Klobuchar/Wyden bill that would help institute a national vote by mail program for the 2020 election. While so much else is up in the air, Americans should have the certainty of knowing that our democracy marches on, undaunted.

Finally, we need to focus far more attention on our young people. Both to help them better protect themselves from getting the virus and to help them and their families cope with what could be difficult months at home, away from school.

The President’s plan has failed, and Congress must step in now to develop a clear national strategy to tame the virus. There is no higher priority in the days ahead.

Testing Still Lags, What Are We Going To Do With The Kids? - Tue COVID Daily

This is a live document which was last updated Wednesday, April 22st at 915am.  It is going to take a hiatus for a few days as we rethink how we want to present all this information. 

Top Lines - Wed morning's numbers from the COVID Tracking Project:

801,038 cases (25k new/28k 7 day rolling average)

        776,215 Tue (25k new)

        751,062 Mon (27k)

        724,926 Sun (28k)

        696,622 Sat (31k)

        665,970 Fri (32k)

        633,775 Thur (30k)

        604,147 Wed (28k)

4,163,464 tests (137k new/149k 7 day rolling average)

         4,026,572 Tue (144k new)

         3,882,062 Mon (159K new)

         3,723,634 Sun (149k new)

         3,574,392 Sat (154k new)

         3,420,394 Fri (159k new)

         3,261,611 Thur (140k new)

         3,120,381 Wed (154k new)

We also find the Daily FT tracker useful, as are this global tracker and this sophisticated and interactive graphing tool from 91-DIVOC.  Of course Johns Hopkins has become perhaps the most authoritative US source. 

We've seen a slight reduction in the past week of the daily rate of new infections - possibly good news, though our low levels of testing make it too early to make a clear call on where we are. While lower, our daily new infection rate remains among the highest in the world. 

After running in the 100-115k range the week of March 30th, and 150k the week of April 6th, the US testing rate this past week came in at 148k a day, a slight dip and is staying there this week - not good peeps.  According to the Wordometers tracker, the US is high 30s/low 40s in the world in total tests per capita - a remarkably low figure given how widely the virus has spread here.  As of Sunday, 32 countries had done 50% more testing than the US, and 19 TWICE as much.  One would have imagined that a country this deep into its deadly outbreak would have dramatically accelerated its testing regime - and while it has improved, it has not kept pace with what is needed or is commonplace in other nations. 

The US's continued struggle with testing of course raises questions about our ability to stand the country back up, a process which will require us to be testing at far higher rates (3-5-10 times?) with tests which provide immediate results - not the many day wait which is the standard now.  Politico has a new story about our ongoing testing fiasco, as does last Friday's Washington Post.

As this Newsweek article reminds us VP Mike Pence promised 5m tests by March 13th, and others in the Administration said there would be tens of millions of tests available soon after.  More than a month later we've  only tested 4m people, and won't hit Pence's promised 5m number until the end of this month - six weeks after those tests were supposedly in place, ready to go. We still need to know what happened to all those tests the VP promised us. 

America Needs A Plan to Defeat COVID19, Not More Magical Thinking - It's been more than three months now since the first recorded COVID death in the US, and it is hard to put into words has little the US government has done to tackle the public health side of this crisis.  The President’s main initiative, his travel bans, clearly didn’t work; our testing/tracing regime still isn’t fully up and running; the President's unwillingness to provide equipment to hospitals remains reckless, inexplicable and sadistic; social distancing and school/business closures have all been done at the state and local level - a process he has repeatedly undermined. 

Recently the President said that he doesn't believe that fighting COVID19 is a federal responsibility despite his "wartime" language. He ignored repeated warnings from his own intelligence community that COVID could be the big one.  His refusal to craft a single national strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus will end up costing us many many lives and untold damage to our economy and society more broadly; that the President is relentlessly lying and misninforming all of us about what is happening makes it all that much more worse. 

We agree with with the assessment of Jeremy Konyndyk in this new thorough Guardian look at what went wrong here in the US: "We are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times.”  The Washington Post and the New York Times have also both published sweeping examinations of all Trump's early mistakes and those the days squandered. 

The exploding infection rate here in the US proves the President's approach hasn't worked.  In recent weeks expert opinion has settled around a plan similar to the one we've been advocating:

1. Surge medical equipment/beds/staff to the front lines

2. Stand up a testing/isolation regime like South Korea's

3. Implement a mandatory national 21 day stay at home program (not just recommendations)

4. Launch a Manhattan Project for a vaccine/testing/etc (this is our #4, not all agree)

The economy cannot stand back up until the virus is tamed, and it's time for the President's magical thinking to end.  Now that Congress has taken dramatic steps to aid the US economy, it must step in now and make sure America finally has a plan to defeat the virus.  Our hope is that Speaker Pelosi form some kind of alliance with the nation's governors to not just get this plan in place but oversee its implementation in the coming months.  Getting America stood back up depends on it.  Such an alliance will also make it far harder for the President to keep pitting state against state, region against region. 

New from NBC News  - "The Trump administration's decision to let states chart their own responses to the coronavirus crisis rather than impose a national strategy will cost thousands of lives and is likely to result in an open-ended outbreak rolling across the country, a dozen public health experts told NBC News.

The only way to win what President Donald Trump has called a war against an "invisible enemy" is to establish a unified federal command, the experts insist — something Trump has yet to do. So far, the federal government hasn't leveraged all its authority and influence to dramatically expand testing and tracing measures, ensure a sufficient supply of crucial medical equipment or require residents of all 50 states to stay at home."

In a recent Today show interview Dr. Brix acknowledged the national social distancing effort has been inadequate, the national testing regime is still not yet stood up and if everything goes right the death toll in the US will be 100-200k. Senator Chris Murphy echoed this dispair at the lack of an effective national response in a new interview with Greg Sargent, and as did Rep. Adam Schiff in this interview. For more on what we need to do right now see these excellent essays:

Laurie Garrett "Sorry, America, the Full Lockdown Is Coming." Foreign Policy

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel "Fourteen Days. That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus." NYTimes

Drs. Carroll and Jha "Don’t Halt Social Distancing. Instead, Do It Right." The Atlantic

Professors Romer and Garber "Will Our Economy Die From Coronavirus?" NYTimes

Ed Yong "How the Pandemic Will End."  The Atlantic

NDN's been asking  our readers and members to call Congress every day until the President puts a plan in place and is clearly producing real results.  As we say above, the plan should include 3 core elements:

Surge Equipment/Beds/Staff To the Frontlines – The President and Congress have to take responsibility for a national plan to handle the extraordinary health care crisis that the nation will face in just a few days’ time.  We need wartime-level production of protective gear, ventilators, ICU beds, and isolation/quarantine wards.  We will need a way to employ more health care workers too – perhaps with temporary unemployment rising there can be a way to take qualified people and crash train them as hospital/health care staff. 

The President’s refusal to take responsibility for this part of our national response remains hard to understand and explain.  Congress must step in here and force both a funded national strategy and compliance with it in the coming days.  If the President really wants to show his support for a robust US healthcare system, the President should withdraw his support for a lawsuit which could cripple the ACA in the midst of this pandemic and encourage every state to expand Medicaid so more of our citizens get the care they need.  The President should also reverse hiis cruel new decision to prevent states from opening the ACA enrollment period to help ensure Americans who want to find health insurance right now can find it. 

Congress should open up an immediate investigation into news reports that Trump has sent life saving equipment to favored states and held it from ones he didn't like. The Governors of CO, CT, KY, MA, MI and MT have all complained that supply orders they'd made were taken by the federal government - why is this still happening and where are all the seized supplies going?

See these compelling clips of MD Gov Larry Hogan and NY Gov Andrew Cuomo discussing the dire supply chain issues facing the country.  Reports that US companies were still selling this critical equipment to overseas buyers are disturbing, as are the wildly ignorant statements by Jared Kushner from the White House podium recently about how the national supply chain was supposed to work. 

Would the states be on their own if a foreign nation attacked the US? In a terrorist attack? A natural disaster, extreme weather event? A serial killer who crosses state lines? If immigrants surged to our border, or if cartels were flooding the states with drugs? Or a recession, like now - didn't we see a strong coordinated federal response? Why would a pandemic, which has planned for over many years, and which the US was prepared for - be any different? The idea that the states are on their own to battle something which is affecting everyone American no matter where they live is among the most outrageously stupid moments in this terrible affair. 

In a related matter, it looks like the Senate GOP's war profiteering scandal - an extraordinary betrayal of the public trust - just got a whole lot worse.

On the good news front it appears the Army Corp of Engineers is being deployed to help build more medical facilities in US hot spots.  There are many reports now of this process being well underway and successful. 

More, Better, Faster Tests – While things have gotten better on the testing front, we still have a very long way to go before our tests are ubiquitous and rapid – everywhere and done in minutes/hours, not days.  If we are ever to return to normal, efforts to aggressively screen and isolate those with infection (in public buildings, ports of entry, schools, and sports arenas) will have to become routine – like texting a friend.  This Guardian story looks at how mass testing helped slow the virus's spread in one Italian town, and this new article in Science magazine explains how mass testing was key to South Korea's flattening of the curve without major lock downs.  This new Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer is an excellent deep dive on the importance of testing, and our massive failure to get it right so far. 

Developing ways of proving that you’ve had the virus and are now immune will also be really important, and would require, obviously, that every single American be tested at some point.  We found this thread by Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis to be helpful in understanding the issues around immunity and the need for rapid, ubiqitous "serology" tests which are of a different kind than the "PCR" tests which are being deployed right now.  The Washington Post just published this smart look at the importance of sreology tests for standing the country back up. 

So, yes, we are talking about billions, not tens of thousands, of tests. The government should be making this kind of ubiquitous rapid testing regime part of the mandate of a new “Manhattan Project” which works to not just defeat COVID but give America far better tools to fight future pandemics.  For more on the need for crashing a broad regime for advance a vaccine, therapeutics, hospital equipment and diagnostics see this thread from Dr. Scott Gottlieb and this Boston Globe op-ed from Senator Markey and Peter Slavin.   

We've started receiving good news on the testing front:

- the FDA recently announced the approval of a rapid point of care PCR COVID19 test by the California company, Cepheid. This test will be particularly important in hospitals and other triage facilities, and in keeping our front line health care professionals from getting sick themselves. 

- Abbott announced FDA approval for a 5-13 minute desktop PRC test - a huge advance if it can realized in the coming weeks.

- Ortho has started mass producing a lab based serology test.

Implement National Stay at Home/Develop A National Strategy For Students and Kids – As part of eventually developing a true national "stay at home" social/physical distancing strategy the US govt will have to help communities and families come to terms with what it means that kids may be home until the fall semester (no schools, summer activities).  This is a large and important area which needs far more attention and creativity, but two initial thoughts:

1) Their Health – the early messages about young people being less vulnerable to COVID-19 and thus somehow less responsible has to be corrected aggressively in the days ahead.  We know from data that young people in other countries have become infected at very high rates, and seem to be critical to the rapid transmission of COVID.  But it is also for themselves – early data here in the US show that young people are turning up in ICU units at much higher rates than in China, and COVID can permanently damage the lungs of anyone infected. 

Gov Cuomo weighed in last Saturday on the need to change our collective mindset about young people, Tweeting "Younger people listen up: 55% of NYS #Coronavirus cases are ages 18-49. Young people aren’t invincible. You can get this and you can give it to someone older you love. You shouldn’t endanger your own health & you certainly shouldn't endanger other people's health. #StayAtHome." More leadership like this please.

2) Their Sanity - What do we do with our kids for the next six months if schools and summer camps are cancelled? This is not just a sanity thing for these students and families - having kids at home will make it far harder to stand the economy back up when the virus ebbs. 

It is our recommendation that all schools and colleges involved in distance learning now develop a “pandemic module” to help young people better understand how to stay safe, reduce infection, and navigate the rigors of life at home, away from their friends and the lives they’ve built for themselves.  These kinds of courses may be the most valuable things that schools can do in the months ahead.

 
 

Demand A Plan, More Focus on Young People, Vote By Mail

This document has moved to a new url, which you can find here.

Call Congress, Demand A National COVID-19 Response Plan Today

Over the past 10 days, we’ve been calling on the President and Mitch McConnell to match the leadership we’ve seen come from the House in fashioning a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis.  

The President’s mismanagement of the crisis has been a breathtaking sight. Eight weeks since our first COVID case, and twelve since the President was first briefed about the dangers of COVID, our national testing plan is still not up and running and thus we still can’t identify, isolate, and treat those who’ve been infected by a virus whose carriers are frequently asymptomatic; we have no strategy to build hospital beds/quarantine spaces and ensure that our medical professionals have the equipment they need to care for the sick; critical positions in the federal government’s response hierarchy, like the DHS Secretary, remain unfilled; and leadership is desperately lacking in ensuring that our elections run smoothly this year and in figuring out what to do with all of our kids if schools and summer activities remain closed and unavailable.  While the President did finally weigh in on social distancing strategies and closures yesterday, it was days after steps had already been widely implemented across the country and of course inconsistent with the guidance given by the CDC earlier that day. 

We urge everyone reading this to call your Senators and Representative every morning until a plan is in place and it is achieving clear, daily reported results.  The Senate and House must do more than legislate now – they must create a select committee of some kind to interface with the Administration each day to help expedite decision making, and hold our errant President and his team accountable.  The President has already demonstrated that he is not up to the task of leading us through this crisis, and Congress must either adopt some new kind of partnership with him or work to remove him – just allowing his dangerous flailing to continue each day is unacceptable – more can be done. 

Yesterday, on a call with the nation’s governors, the President deviated from any reasonable understanding of the Federal Government’s role in a crisis like this and told the governors that when it came to emergency hospital beds, ventilators, masks, and protective equipment for health care workers, they are on their own.  A new report says that a US-based company is ready to ramp up ventilator production but hasn’t been asked by the Federal government.  The Senate has yet to take up a House bill designed to mitigate some of the economic damage which was endorsed by the President and passed last Friday – because Mitch McConnell decided to give the Senate a long weekend off, in the middle of this extraordinary crisis.  McConnell did find time, however, to put the word out to old GOP judges that it is time to retire – so he can ram through dozens more younger judges before, it appears, the Republicans lose power this fall.  Always party over country it seems for Moscow Mitch – even in our time of COVID.

We are writing to you each day because the scale of the governing failure we are witnessing just must be more aggressively challenged by all of us.  We must rise up and demand more from our elected leaders and our government.  To be clear – the nation does not have a COVID-19 response plan.  Despite the 8 weeks, the warnings, and the deaths, we still haven’t taken the elemental steps which should have been taken in January to contain and defeat the virus.  What is happening now could have been avoided or at least mitigated – which is why we must demand the government act with informed strategic intent and stop making mistakes which will cost this great nation so dearly. 

Make your calls.  Stay informed.  Keep fighting.  We can and must do better.

Godspeed, Simon

Biden Leads, COVID19 To Do List, WTF McConnell?

While it is likely that the COVID-19 crisis will create a new political dynamic in America, the current climate very much favors the Democrats and Joe Biden.  In recent polling, Biden’s lead over Trump has been consistently 8-11 points, landslide territory.  Using Real Clear Politics, Biden is ahead in most of the battleground states, with more than enough to get to 270.  Using FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s job approval is about where it was on Election Day 2018 when Democrats won by 8.6 pts and the Congressional Generic is +7 for the Democrats now.   The new NBC/WSJ poll has Party ID at 44D-36R – 8 pts.  Wherever you look, the structure of the race is 7-10 pts right now for the Democrats, a formidable lead at this point.

You can find this strong Democratic trend in the important Senate races too.  Gideon (ME), Kelly (AZ), and Cunningham (NC) have leads of 4-5-6 in polls taken in the past few weeks.  Ernst had a bad poll last week in Iowa, and the two former governors, Bullock (MT) and Hickenlooper (CO), are in very strong positions in their races (though with no recent polling).  While the GOP is likely to win in AL, the primary there has gotten really messy.  Basically everything has broken against Mitch McConnell since the Senate trial ended – at this point we think Dems are more likely than not to get to 50 in the Senate.

Joe Biden leads by a large margin in the Democratic Primary, and has big leads in all the states voting tomorrow.  NBC/WSJ had it 61/32 yesterday, so there is evidence that Biden’s lead is actually growing now.  If people vote tomorrow and he sweeps all four contests, he could grow even more and it would be our hope that Bernie gets out by week’s end.  With voting a bit in question after Tuesday, Democrats may have to do some creative things to officially end their primary and make Biden the nominee, particularly if there are no Conventions this year – watch for more on this from NDN in the coming days.

Be Loud About COVID-19 - As we wrote to you yesterday, we hope everyone reading this message calls their Senators and Representative today and demands Congress stay in until the nation has a real plan in place to battle COVID-19.  Looking at what’s been done in other nations, it is just shocking to realize how little the President has done since our first case was diagnosed a full 8 weeks ago.   In addition to the House bill which passed on Friday and still awaits McConnell's return from a four day weekend, consider all that still needs to be done:

☑ Ensure  that our national testing regime is in place and working (we’ve tested as many people in 8 weeks as South Korea does every day, and we each had our first case at the same time)

☑ Initiate Herculean efforts to build hospital beds and provide the proper equipment needed by our health care professionals

☑ Establish a clear national policy on social distancing, and don’t leave such heavy lifting to states and localities alone

☑ Pass the new Wyden Senate bill which would fund and enable a national vote by mail program for the general election ensuring that the election takes place as scheduled

☑ Launch a comprehensive, effective screening system for the millions of people who come into the country each day

☑ Appoint a COVID-19 spokesperson who American can rely on each day, and who tells the truth

☑ Create a national advisory board which studies how other nations are tackling COVID and can rush successful tactics to deployment here in the US

☑ Stand up a public temperature measurement corps which will identify carriers in public spaces and rush them to rapid testing and treatment (something being done in many other countries)

☑ Nominate and confirm people in every agency involved in the national response for every unfilled position immediately so that we are at full strength to fight in the days ahead (DHS Secretary for example!)

A new David Leonhardt analysis in the New York Times goes into detail about how the President squandered his opportunity to contain COVID-19 and has continually mismanaged the response.  There is no question that the President’s incompetence will cost Americans lives – perhaps tens of thousands – and will have done historic damage to our economy and our society more broadly.  The President had the tools to contain COVID but chose not to use them. 

Given all this, it is our hope that among the things Congress does in the days ahead is put the President’s removal back on the table.  Given the President’s unprecedented bungling of our nation’s response, he should be taken out of the chain of command now – there simply is no way he can be trusted to do what’s right in the days ahead given how much he has gotten wrong over many months now. 

If You Don't Like Trump's COVID-19 Response, Blame Mitch McConnell

“The 15 [cases], within a couple of days, are going to be down to close to zero” — Donald Trump, 2/27/20

In January, Mitch McConnell had his chance. He could have removed Trump from office. The case the House brought was overwhelming. A majority of the country wanted Trump removed. 75% wanted to see all the evidence. This venal, unwell, incompetent, vainglorious man could have been gone. Pence could have brought in Nikki Haley and started fresh, working to put Trump in the GOP’s rear view mirror. Instead, Mitch, in what was one of the gravest political misjudgments in American history, decided to keep Trump in the White House, lashing himself and his Party to everything Donald did from then on.

And here we are. Dangerous politicization of the ODNI and DHS — the people who keep us safe. Incomprehensively mismanaged COVID-19 response. Plummeting global markets. A savage Russian-led oil price war designed to harm our domestic industries. Empty desks in critical positions throughout the government. Daily rantings, lying, and scary delusions of a Mad King, who seems increasingly disconnected from the world the rest of us live in. America is in a profound governing crisis, courtesy of Mitch McConnell.

The public hasn’t been happy with Mitch’s big decision. Polling since the President’s Senate trial ended has been universally bad for the GOP. The President trails Joe Biden by 7–10 pts; his job approval is a point lower today (-9.6) than it was on Election Day 2018 when Democrats won by 8.6 pts; the only battleground state he leads in today is Texas. The Congressional Generic has moved from +5 for Dems to +7.3 today, the largest it has been in some time, and now finds a similar margin as the national numbers (7–9 pts). Every Senate poll taken since the trial has the frontline GOPer (AZ, CO, ME, NC) down to their Dem challenger. A new Iowa poll has Senator Ernst losing 10 pts in her job approval, 57% to 47%, and her “hard re-elect” is just 41% (meaning she can lose). House GOPers are more likely to lose seats this cycle than gain them. After leading his party into three worst case elections in a row in 2017, 2018, and 2019, 2020 could be Donald and Mitch’s worst election yet. As can be seen below, recent well-regarded national polls have Trump losing decisively to Biden in 2020:

Biden 53, Trump 43 (CNN)

Biden 50, Trump 41 (YouGov/Yahoo)

Biden 49, Trump 41 (Fox)

Biden 52, Trump 45 (ABC/WaPo)

Biden 52, Trump 44 (NBC/WSJ)

If Joe Biden wins Michigan tomorrow — and the four most recent polls in the state have Biden up 41, 30, 24, and 21 points — the Democratic primary race is over and Sanders will have been beaten fair and square. It may take a while for him to get out, but the rationale for him continuing will not exist, particularly given the grave health issues he faces. Biden’s lead over Bernie is 16 points in the last two national polls, and he is far ahead in delegates. There just is no path for Bernie. 2020 is not 2016, and we shouldn’t expect a similar outcome in the primary or the general for the Democrats. In a new Medium piece, Simon offers some ideas on how the Biden campaign can continue to grow, innovate, and win, including adopting a #DemAvengers strategy of running with 15–20 people at the top of the ticket, not just 2; and re-imagining the “War Room” so it is 3–4 million people going to work every day, not just 200 kids in a headquarters.

As we look to protect our people and the economy from COVID-19 in the coming days, we also have to work to protect our democracy too. The President has used fictional national emergencies to do all sorts of things these past few years — confiscate money from DOD to build his border wall, repeatedly levy tariffs, etc. But now he has a real national emergency, and it is essential that responsible leaders of both parties establish a bi-partisan process for making the big decisions ahead of us; the danger of him using this moment to assume dictatorial control over the nation is a clear and present one, and our eyes need to be wide open here. He has already shown he cannot lead us through the COVID-19 crisis, and Congress is going to have to step in in some dramatic way to ensure that the damage he does is limited in the days ahead. Of course, the best course would be for him to resign, and let Pence take over. While remote, I am willing to bet the talk of this in GOP circles is more common now than people think, particularly after the President’s truly unhinged and terrifying performance at the CDC on Friday.

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